The Hate List – Volume 20

  1. Excessive, tacky Christmas lights. I’m fucking fed up with this shit now. A few years ago, it was still ironically amusing when a few sporadic eccentrics would fill their lawns with enough wattage to be seen from space. Now every street has one of these cunts, and it’s getting fucking tiresome. “It’s just a bit of fun!” No, it’s not. It’s an eyesore. Your neighbours hate you. And the waste of electricity alone is obscene. Climate change is destroying the planet: conspicuous over-consumption of energy should be villified, not celebrated. “It’s Christmassy!” No, it’s not. A wreath on the door is Christmassy. Flashing lights, illuminated inflatables, a robotic Santa waving his arm: it looks like fucking Vegas. Or rather, it looks like you were aiming for Vegas, and what you actually achieved was redneck brothel. “I’m raising money for charity!” Oh right, you spend thousands of pounds on decorations, and then expect ME to make a donation? How about you fuck off? I hope you short a circuit and burn to a crisp.
  2. Multi-coloured, flashing Christmas lights. Pay attention next time you see a Christmas scene in a film or advert. One designed by a professional designer. I guarantee you, there will be no coloured or flashing lights. Contrary to the belief of tasteless suburban idiots, what ACTUALLY looks Christmassy is steady, warm white lights. Not flashing, not every colour in the rainbow. At a push, I can even forgive red and green lights: they still look shit, but at least I can see where you’re coming from. But fucking BLUE lights? When the fuck did blue become a Christmas colour?
  3. Makers and sellers of novelty gifts. You know you’re making a load of shit, and you know it’s all going to be thrown away. You might as well dump it all straight into landfill, and simply steal the money from our well-meaning but clueless grandparents. As far as I’m concerned, you’re morally equivalent to OAP-targeting phone scammers. Or worse: at least their business model is less polluting.
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The Hate List – Volume 19


I really enjoyed my trip around India. This special edition of the Hate List does not represent my overall opinion of the country and its people. For a balanced view, it should be read in conjunction with my Highlights of India blog post.

  1. People loudly belching in the street.
  2. People loudly hacking up phlegm and spitting it out in the street.
  3. People chewing paan and spitting it out in the street.
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Like Twitter but shitter (Useless product innovations #2)

I wasn’t actually intending to write a follow-up to my Useless product innovations #1 post (the opening line, “And now for a new regular feature…” was a reference to the running joke in Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge where a new regular feature is introduced every week and never seen again). However, I have to speak out against Twitter’s new ‘innovation’, which is that it algorithmically picks tweets from people you don’t follow, which it thinks you might be interested in, and plonks them in your timeline.

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Dentists: a follow up

My post on dentists generated a fair bit of interest, and some heated arguments with dentist friends on Facebook.

The defence was predictable: dental disease is common and routine check-ups help to catch and fix problems early, preventing worse problems later. But that completely misses the point of my argument. I accept that routine check-ups have a benefit. The issue is that routine check-ups for other body parts and conditions would have a benefit too, so why do we prioritise dentists as the only specialism which gets to do them? An annual colonoscopy wouldn’t be much more uncomfortable than the average appointment with a dental hygienist, and it would help to prevent some of the 15,000+ deaths from bowel cancer in the UK each year. Even an annual nurse-administered physical inspection for testicular or breast cancer would be quicker, easier, cheaper and more effective at saving lives than having a fully qualified dentist on £100,000+pa count your teeth once a year.

On a related note, Corsodyl’s current advertising campaign shows a woman bleeding from her eye, with the strap line, “you wouldn’t ignore this” – implying that we shouldn’t ignore bleeding from our mouth when we clean our teeth (and we should use Corsodyl mouthwash to solve whatever problem is causing the bleeding). But Corsodyl is wrong. We probably would ignore bleeding from our eyes, if we were all socially conditioned to scrub our eyes with an abrasive tool twice a day.

Useless product innovations #1

And now for a new regular feature of the blog: Useless Product Innovations.

Water filter jugs are a pretty straightforward product. You pour water into the chamber at the top of the jug, it trickles down through the replaceable filter cartridge, and the filtered water sits in the bottom part of the jug, ready to pour. It’s not the most essential item, but it has a clear and simple purpose, and provides some value: if you’re in a hard water area, it does make tap water taste less minging, and reduces limescale in other appliances like kettles and irons.

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I don’t believe in dentists

Of course, I’m not saying I don’t believe dentists exist. I’ve experienced enough sensory data to be pretty sure they do.

Nor am I saying that I don’t believe we need dentists. Obviously, dental problems happen and we need specialist tooth doctors to deal with them.

What I don’t believe in is the paradigm which holds dentistry to be of such preeminent importance. The paradigm that says we need quite so many dentists. That says dentists should operate independently of the rest of the medical system. That says they should provide their own first line inspection function. That says we need routine dental check-ups whether or not we have any reason to believe we have a dental problem.

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The lie at the heart of “loyalty” cards

I’ve always been opposed to brand “loyalty” card schemes, like Nectar and Tesco’s Clubcard, and I’ve never signed up for any. We all know that they’re used to track customer shopping behaviour, and I don’t want to be tracked in that way. But it was only recently that I was struck by the fundamental dishonesty involved.

The story promoted by companies running the schemes is something like this: each time you shop with us, we’ll give you a tiny discount, but it’s only redeemable in discreet chunks, and we think this will give you an incentive to continue shopping with us instead of our competitors. In other words: we’ll trade you a non-binding increase in the probability that you’ll choose us for future shopping, which we think is worth two or three pence in every pound, in exchange for rewards equivalent to, say, one pence per pound.

The flaw in this story is that carrying a “loyalty” card doesn’t increase a customer’s chance of using the same shop on any future occasion. As far as I can tell, there are two types of people: those who don’t use any “loyalty” schemes (like me), and those who use every “loyalty” scheme going, and carry around a purse stuffed with cards so that they can get points and discounts wherever they happen to shop.

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What kind of music do you like?

I’ve noticed that when people are asked what kind of music they like, the usual answer is something along the lines of, “oh, I like all kinds of music.”

You’ve probably said it at some point. Maybe it was just because you couldn’t be bothered at the time to get into an in-depth discussion of what you actually like and why. Maybe you were being merciful and didn’t want to bore the questioner with your fanatical passion for death metal. Or maybe, and I think this is usually the case, you like to think of yourself, and want others to think of you too, as someone who has a broad knowledge of music, and open-minded, liberal tastes. I’ve been guilty of it myself, many times. But I’ve realised it’s bullshit.

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The evils of social networks?

One of the events contributing to the current media and political fury over the evils of social networks and internet trolls has been the death of Hannah Smith, a Leicester teenager who committed suicide after apparently being bullied on

However, it has subsequently turned out that 98% of the anonymous bullying messages Hannah received may have been posted by herself using other accounts.

If true, this backs up my point in a previous article that blaming these phenomena on the social networks themselves is dangerously missing the point.

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The Princes: not as much of a gift as one republican would like

The most frequent argument I have with my girlfriend is over the monarchy: her passionately against, me vaguely in favour, but provoked into a stronger defence by her attacks. The latest outbreak of our perennial debate started with this amusing but flawed diatribe by Tanya Gold in the Guardian.

As republican rants go, it’s one of the least convincing I’ve read.

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