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February 12, 2007

Rules For Life

So, Da Fink is running a competition of rules to live your life by. His first few:

  • Never order the fish.
  • There's always enough to make a mess. This is also known as Finkelstein's law of Empty Containers, after my mother who established it. Take an apparently empty can and turn it upside down. there, told you.
  • Never read a book or watch a film that has been recommended by Noam Chomsky. Try this. I promise you it's a real winner.

Now, he does say he's looking for new rules, so this classic is out:

Never play cards with a man named Doc.

Never eat at a place called Mom's.

Never sleep with anyone with more problems than you have.


So, how about it, anyone got any ideas?

Never believe a politician when their lips are moving? 

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This one has never let me down:

Don't eat yellow snow

Posted by: Juvenal | Feb 12, 2007 5:35:41 PM

Don't picket.

Sorry, that was Don't pick at it.

Posted by: auntymarianne | Feb 12, 2007 6:08:16 PM

"Never believe a politician when their lips are moving?"

Absolutely. In today's news: "The number of teachers in England's schools has risen by more than 36,000 in the past decade, ministers say. There has also been an increase of 155,000 in support staff because of changes and investments they say. The figures were released in response to parliamentary questions from former Education Secretary David Blunkett. Mr Blunkett, who led the Education Department from 1997 to 2001, said that they provided a 'phenomenal good news story' about the government's record."

Listen and you can hear the triumphalist theme music but before we pass on appropriately moved let's have Mr Blunkett's comments on this other news about the success of the government's record on education and productivity in the public sector:

"More young people are out of work now than when Labour won power in 1997 by promising to cut youth unemployment, official figures obtained by The Times reveal.

"There are now 37,000 more unemployed people aged 16 to 24 than in May 1997, with the total rising from 665,000 to 702,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"The unemployment rate has risen to 14.5 per cent among young people, overtaking the 14.4 per cent rate Labour inherited from the Conservative Government. . .

665,000 Unemployed aged 16 to 24 in May 1997
702,000 Unemployed between 16 and 24 now
22.5% Unemployment rate for Londoners aged 16 and 17 in 1997
42.9% Unemployment rate for Londoners aged 16 and 17 now
11,200 16 to 24-year-olds claiming benefit for more than a year last month

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 12, 2007 7:48:47 PM


"Children aged 14 are not reading and writing as well as they should and more than four in 10 boys are failing to achieve the standard for the age group, test results showed yesterday. The findings raise concerns that the government's literacy drive has stalled as the key stage three results show teenagers' command of English is slipping, with boys lagging well behind the girls. . . "

"Only half of those on apprenticeships in England finish them, the chief inspector of adult education has found.
Although standards of training had improved dramatically overall, David Sherlock said low apprenticeship completion rates were 'unacceptable'."

"According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment among 16 and 17-year- olds has risen from 19.9 per cent when Labour came to power in 1997 to 25.3 per cent now. The number of unskilled jobs has dropped from 8 million in the 1960s to 3.5 million now.

"A recent Treasury report predicted that the number of unskilled jobs would drop to only 600,000 by 2020, making it almost impossible for unskilled teenagers to find work."

According to this bar chart in The Economist for 24 August 2006, Britain is especially well-endowed with low-skilled young people compared with most other major European economies:

Well done, Tony?

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 12, 2007 7:52:12 PM

If most people in Britain stopped eating fish, it might be enough for North Sea Cod to recover!

Never admit your ability to complete the Heat Magazine crossword.

Posted by: ceri | Feb 12, 2007 8:03:09 PM

If ever caught short, look for the nearest bookies - it will have a working gents' toilet.

Always have a second income.

Just as soon as you've learned the facts of life, you have to start learning the facts of death.

Do not suffer from Tourette Syndrome.

Never do business with pot-bollied, middle aged-men with pencil moustaches - it will cost you money.

Golf is homoeroticism for middle class Scots Protestants.

Posted by: Martin | Feb 12, 2007 8:33:42 PM

From time to time, I've heard in passing a few rules of thumb for life's journey although none seem quite as dependable as that ol' staple: "Never believe a politician when their lips are moving."

For instance, some years back a successful and appropriately rich European entrepreneur was asked on his retirement for his recipe:

Never do business in countries where they don't need to wear overcoats in winter, he said.

A quick browse of Transparency International's perceived corruption league table suggests that our successful entrepreneur may have had an illuminating insight although it happens that Singapore is squeaky clean corruption wise and has both a hugely successful economy as well as a thoroughly authoritarian government but then some there attribute that economic success to the superiority of the Confucian ethic over the Christian ethic:

Can you figure?

As George Bernard Shaw said of the Christian ethic: Don't do unto others as you would have them do unto you - their tastes may not be the same. OTOH the Confusian ethic is: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Analects 15:23

Btw what will happen with global warming when it won't be as necessary to wear overcoats in winter in lots more places?

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 12, 2007 10:02:27 PM

From my father:-
Take out English girls: you can't afford whisky.

Posted by: dearieme | Feb 12, 2007 10:54:16 PM

Quite so. Besides, for reasons of the differential rate of taxes on spirits in the 18th century, the English have a traditional preference for gin over other spirits.

Abolishing the tax on gin was highly injurious to public health and almost certainly contributed to factors increasing the mortality rate but governments still found it difficult to rectify the situation - attempts to raise the tax on gin were apt to incite riots:

Posted by: Bob B | Feb 13, 2007 12:01:01 AM

Never marry someone you meet online

Never take a ride from a man with a twitch

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge | Feb 13, 2007 8:58:52 AM

if you read something in the media on a subject you know about and it's clearly wrong, assume they are no more informed about everything else you don't know about.

Posted by: MARK T | Feb 13, 2007 12:22:12 PM

Never allow 'Bob B' to post comments.

I mean there's prolixity and then there's just acres of verbal diarrhoea.

Posted by: Recusant | Feb 13, 2007 12:25:23 PM

When your boss says... "My door is always open".... it means he's spying on you.

Posted by: Serf | Feb 13, 2007 1:07:28 PM

Never marry a girl whose father calls her 'Princess'; chances are, she believes it.

Posted by: Ian Bennett | Feb 13, 2007 1:32:21 PM

Your "traditional" formulation of the rules is taken from Nelson Algren's "Walk on the Wild Side" (1956). Algren was famously the object of Simone de Beauvoir's desires; such hard won insight must be worth heeding.

Posted by: SJH | Feb 13, 2007 2:39:12 PM

1. "If the shoe fits, it's ugly"
Goldberg's Law as revealed by Bernard Levin

2. "There are, at the most, six months between getting the children off your hands and taking over responsibility for aged parents."

Posted by: Umbongo | Feb 13, 2007 2:59:29 PM

Likewise see almost anything from the notebooks of lazarus long - to be found (almost certainly violating copyright) here http://www.angelfire.com/or/sociologyshop/lazlong.html

Particular favorites include "If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion." and "A generation which ignores history has no past—and no future." Not to mention "Cheops’ Law: Nothing is ever built on schedule or within budget." Finally, of course "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects! "

Posted by: Ian Argent | Feb 13, 2007 11:31:17 PM

"Never drink with Russians."

Posted by: Tim Newman | Feb 14, 2007 8:20:22 AM