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The cabbage writers, the battle with the corruption of sports news and support from Barack Obama

By Tony Attwood

President Barack Obama recently stated,“The appetite for information and data flowing through the internet is voracious”, yet “we’ve seen newsrooms closed. The bottom line has shrunk. The news cycle has as well.”

He said that this resulted in pressure, “to fill the void and feed the beast with instant commentary and Twitter rumours and celebrity gossip and softer stories. And then we fail to understand our world, or one another, as well as we should.”

In a similar mood, Paul Mason previously of Newsnight and Channel 4 News, wrote recently in the Guardian. “Wherever the internet is not censored it is awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice. Beneath that is a thick seam of the kind of material all genocides feed off: conspiracy theories and illogic. And, beyond that, you find something the far right didn’t quite achieve in the 1930s: a culture that sees offensive speech as a source of amusement and the ability to publish racist insults as a human right.”

And of course the internet is full of untruths.  Here’s one Blacksheep told me about in the pub before the Watford game.  It is a story that regularly does the rounds.

Pythagoras’ Theorem: …………………….24 words.
Lord’s Prayer: …………………………………… 66 words.
Archimedes’ Principle: ……………………………67 words.
Ten Commandments: …………………………………179 words.
Gettysburg Address: …………………………………………286 words.
US Declaration of Independence : …………………………1,300 words.
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: ……………………7,818 words.
EU Regulations on the Sale of CABBAGES: ………………26,911 words

That just about does it for the EU doesn’t it?   You may have heard it.  It has been publicised a lot.

Indeed a lot of people have just republished this over and over as “proof” that the EU is a corrupt and/or pointless organisation.   And a lot of people believe this.

This morning, reflecting on the issue, it took me perhaps five minutes to go from ignorance of the story to having a reasonable amount of insight.

The cabbage story turned up in Pearls of Wisdom: A Book of Aphorisms in 1987 and seems to have been a significant part of anti-Federal government propaganda in the US in the 1950s.  In fact The Washington Post has apparently twice run articles detailing its known history – although here I must admit I could only find clear records of one of them, in 1992.

It still does the rounds and is still completely untrue.  The regs run to 1990 words and are there to prevent dubious farmers selling bad veg to shopkeepers.  (Of course you might want the right to buy diseased and unknowingly genetically modified veg that went wrong, and so might not want these regulations, but most people don’t seem to want farmers to have a total free-for-all).

But then one might imagine what the length of anything written down has to do with football.  The ten commandments are indeed short, and were, as I understand it, meant to be ten simple rules from God that everyone could remember.  So they had to be simple.  Because they had to stick in the memory.

“Thou shalt not kill” at four words is about as basic as it gets, but wasn’t much use on its own in helping consider the fight against Nazism 1939 to 1945.   To cover that you need a bit more detail – in fact quite a lot more detail, and this tells us at once that it is not the number of words that matters but the meanings they convey.  It is to do with what you are trying to set out – in God’s case a universal law for all time which actually needs amendment come wartime, when handling acts of mass genocide, and dealing with deranged mass murderers who manage to persuade a population to go along with their whims.

Indeed in the contemporary world these simple statements in fact are often not very helpful.  We have one that besets the industry I work in – “A picture is worth 10,000 words” (Confucius).  Actually traceable back to a design company in Chicago not ancient China, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it.  In fact the reverse is true if you take the statement to have something to do with quickly made an idea memorable.

But people believe this stuff, just like for years they believed that Arsenal under Wenger had more red cards than any other team, that Arsenal get more injuries that any other team, that Wenger causes all these injuries (that we don’t get) through pre-historic training methods, that “it all evens out in the end” with referee decisions, that building the New Arsenal Stadium was an unnecessary mistake, that Arsenal is the most expensive club to support, that most Arsenal supporters are anti-Wenger, that George Graham match by match did better than Arsene Wenger, that Arsenal somehow fixed their way into the first division in 1919… pick an era and there is a story there waiting for you.  Indeed you might be surprised as to how many anti-Arsenal myths there are, and how many of these are propagated by the media.

Which brings me to the issue of what people say when they write to Untold.

Of course you can see what a lot of people write in and say, because we have a comments section.  But what you don’t see are the comments that get deleted automatically by our systems (but which are still readable by the four of us who act as administrators) and those which we manually get rid of.

Yes, blocking all these messages is censorship, and I’ve never tried to hide it.  In fact there is a whole article about it on permanent display.  Just look at the “Pages” heading on the left column and you’ll find “Comments”

My main interest however is not in blocking such comments but asking why people do the things that lead to their comments not being published?  I means, why waste all that time writing something that will never see the light of day, and much of the time never be read by another human being (assuming the writer was human)?

I think it is a fascinating issue – why would someone bother to write to Untold and tell us that everything we are doing and saying is wrong?

And it isn’t just the lack of awareness of the context of the site (after all, “supporting the club, the players and the manager” has been on the masthead for since 2008).  It’s just, well, nonsensical.  One could write a piece saying that supporting the club, the players and the manager is a stupid thing to do and that the club is bigger than the manager, so we should not support the manager.  Yes, an argument could be made out of that.  But even so, supporting the manager is our standard position.  So why bother to tell us that we are wrong?

Ignoring the context, throwing in abuse, being ignorant of the key points in the issue, disagreeing without any evidence or logical argument – it has become the everyday of some correspondents.  And I want to know why they bother.

And all that is before we get the cabbage writers who make up “facts” as they go along.  (Actually, I quite like “cabbage writers”.  I seems to cover a particular group.

So what are these people up to?  Are they expecting publication to influence the Untold audience?  Are they expecting to change the mind of the editors of the site?

I doubt it.  I think there is something else going on, and it takes me back to research undertaken by the behaviour psychologist BF Skinner, as to why teachers punish children (they used to hit them but don’t do this so much these days in UK schools) when all the evidence shows that punishments tended not to reduce what the teacher defined as bad behaviour, in the long term.

Yes the punishment stops the behaviour there and then, but it tends to return.  So why not use a system that does stop the bad behaviour in the long term (and there are several such approach around – and I know because about 20 years ago I wrote a book on behaviour and discipline, and did the research).  They do it because punishing makes them feel good.  It makes them feel as if they are doing something.

So I guess it is with the cabbage writers.  Writing to Untold (or anywhere else) makes them feel good – even if we don’t publish their comments.  (Indeed I suspect most don’t even go back to check that we have published them).

Thus Untold Arsenal has become a free public service.  I do hope we get some recognition for that.


Recent Posts

The Insult of the Day – 

Oh were mine eyeballs into bullets turn’d that I in rage might shoot them at your faces!

Henry VI Part 1

And elsewhere

3 April 1917: With an extraordinary foresight into the nature of UK television in the 21st century Lenin said, on this day, “Any cook should be able to run the country”


29 comments to The cabbage writers, the battle with the corruption of sports news and support from Barack Obama

  • Sushant

    Where is the match review of Arsenal-Watford,
    Pls uodate the report.

  • Just wondered if you guys have a piece in the pipeline about the big braking news on PED’s in relation to us, CFC and the Fox’s at the top. I would be interested to know yours and others thoughts on the story.

  • make that “breaking” sorry about that.

  • Andy Mack

    Interesting, but I strongly disagree with BF Skinners theory.

  • Blacksheep

    Truth etc

    Arsenal and the others have denied the story and the Sunday Times have admitted they have no proof of it either. UEFA sent a dope team to Arsenal months ago when M. Wenger spoke out against doping in football. I’d be amazed if our team were doing anything illegal. If they had taken performance drugs I’d be asking for the money back!

  • If it makes the children happy let them vent , but it really is a waste of energy and time. I never got why people flock to this site knowing it is pro Arsenal and A Wenger but I must say its a credit to the Untold writers in a backhanded way. Great result yesterday by the team I enjoyed every minute of the game.
    Oliver 1 Southampton 0. Sad thing is I didn’t expect nothing less.

  • Black sheep

    I think they were slipped an under performance drugs, now that would make more sense.?

  • Gord

    I believe our ability to remember arbitrary things is about 7, which is the common phone number. With so many more people 7 place phone numbers to 10 place. I suspect most people will have to look up numbers, as they have become too long to remember.

    Thou shalt not ___ is nominally 2 (“Thou shalt not” is a constant, and hence bundles into 1), and hence easy to remember. The next stage of complexity up, is to rearrange things to maximize these constants. So, maybe our limit to remember is something like 6 levels of constants plus 1 level of arbitrary? You could look at Huffman encoding (compression algorithms).

    One thing I would start with, with Blacksheep’s list of words per document, is to pull out how many words are part of dictionaries. It seems to be a common thing, that legalistic documents tend to spend a lot of time defining terms, which really isn’t part of the document. It is metadata (data about data). But even with our tendency to define things, look at how many court cases go to appeal and are largely argued on definitions.


    In terms of the drugs issue, I was wondering about some of it in my sleep. If a player wanted a transfer, and the manager would have none of it, to be caught possessing (not necessarily using) a controlled substance might be a reason to trade/sell someone.

  • Well I can’t say either way if Arsenal players or CFC’s do or don’t take PED’s but I hear that ain’t the case for a certain top of the league team, with miraculous rates of recovery, boundless stamina and the luck of the footballing wannabe gods.

    for anyone interested keep track of this link it’s updated with info on the fox’s meteoric rise and how they “may” be achieving it.

  • Gord

    There are some drugs issues with Arsenal.

    We need to find out what Peirs Mrgan is on: qualudes, LSD, shrooms?

    As usual, Untold has some negative participants. I think the drug they are on, is hinted at in one name: herb. I think John and this herb guy are both 420 friendly. Ignore the picture associated with herb, that is a smoke (from cannabis) screen.

  • norman14

    I have another…

    The theory that PGMOB is bent:

    11 officials names followed by the word “bent” = 33 words
    20 select group referees names followed by the word “bent” = 60 words

    The word total for this paper is 93 words.

    Alternatively the abridged version of the theory paper:

    31 names (62 words) followed by the conclusion “All above are bent” = 4 words

    The word total for the abridged version of this theory is 66 words.

    Final Theory (scientific) = “PGMOB is BENT” 3 words.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Arsenal gained 2 points over Spurs yesterday. But didn’t gain any over Leicester today due Sadio Mane’s failure to finally get the ball into Leicester City’s net.

    I had initially predicted a 4-0 home win for us over Watford but later changed it to 6-0 win. And I predicted Spurs will be hit 3-0 by the Reds and Leicester will collapse 0-2 at home to the Saints. All my predictions were on a different website as I couldn’t access Untold until now since about a week now I should think.

    Nevertheless, I believe Arsenal can still be Champions of the Barclays Premier League this season but on the condition they don’t drop any point from their remaining 7 games.

    Leicester goals scoring energy reverse tank is on the last drop of energy as they are now relying on their CB to bail them out of the Saints holding them. Anymore 1-0 victories by the Foxes away to the Black Cats and home to the Hammers will no longer be achievable. Therefore, Arsenal MUST be fully ready to capitalise on any dropped points by Leicester which MUST finally begins to happen over the course of the next 2 weeks to come. Spurs will drop another points at home to Man Utd who are seriously looking for a 4th place finish in the table.

    I love the Ten Commandments of God, and The Lord Prayers – Psalm 23 by King David the Psalmist. They are all my food.
    I must’ve done the Pythagoras Theorem at school as I was once a maths student with an O Level Credit result. But honestly, I can’t remember it now as it has been long. But it won’t take me more than a moment to remember all that is it if I pick it up again. I don’t know what is Achimedes Principle and Gettybury Address. But I’ll find out.

    Our contemporary World is full of events that are good and bad. What do we do? We have to try to identify ourselves with the good class and shun off the evil one if it approaches us. All evil deeds MUST be abhorred which includes lies. Lies are reigning as history are being rewritten or written to make it looks like it’s the true and authentic. I don’t want to say more than this not look as if I’ve come again. Otherwise, I would have said, how come the University scholars in the history department of ABU will come up with history of Zaria town differently from the true to portray a once military non Moslem leader – Kwaso as Queen Amina. Kwaso once ruled Zaria and built the City fenced wall round it to protect her domains from external attacks. And she is a Chukum. She not Fulani or Hausa and Islam has not even been brought to Zaria town when she was alive and reigning. Usman Dan Fodio later brought Islam to Zaria long long after she has died.

  • Menace

    love it Gord – Piers is smoking with Henry from Liverpool.

  • Pat

    I don’t agree that teachers necessarily punish children because it makes them feel good. Maybe some do. Maybe some believe it is a moral imperative (spare the rod and spoil the child).

    However, a lot do it because they can’t think of an alternative. English schools can be very unruly places and a teacher is supposed to teach. Orderly cooperation is not necessarily the thing uppermost in a teenager’s mind. And respect for intellectual prowess is quite low in England. As evidenced by the tendency to support the kick em brigade in football.

    I’m not saying it has to be like this, but I am saying that it quite often is. And if thirty teenagers or even a fair proportion of them decide they don’t want to be taught, the teacher’s job is not that easy. This is probably one reason why so many teachers are leaving the profession. Especially if some arsy inspector who has managed to escape the classroom comes along and tells them it’s not good enough.

  • Josif

    Punishing in school…

    I went through a few years of Yugoslavian educational system. It was already going through its final stage when teachers became more lenient but the stick was still used for educational purposes. My teacher actually called my classmate (8-year-old boy) “a son of a bitch” and slapped him.

    After the war, everything turned upside down.

    My brother-in-law told me a story about his high-school professor who made his opening class about how every student would have to attend classes and study hard to get a positive mark. One problematic student, a son of a war veteran who has been suffering from PTSD, put AK-47 on the table and asked the professor if that applied to him as well. The professor told him that he would have a positive mark and he wouldn’t have to come to his class ever again.

    My father was raised in fifties and sixties. My mother a decade later. Neither of them felt comfortable if they ran into their teachers or professors after school. They were ashamed if that happens. Now my wife, a professor, receives Facebook-requests from her students.

    It’s difficult to judge whether Yugoslavian educational system was better than the one in the post-Yugoslavian era. Pupils and students are free to use cell-phones from the day one, to wear clothes they want instead of uniforms and they can’t be subjected to corporal punishment. I guess we will have to wait to see if that new generation will also start a war at their fourties to make a call.

  • John

    Because we disagree with some of the inane ramblings of this site we now must be on drugs??This has got to be the lowest of the low statements.I have been accused of being racist,being an AAA,a twXX and now im on drugs because the time has come for us to look our manager as the reason why this club is not moving forward.As walter and Tony often state to some of us can you please back your latest waffle up with facts and evidence please.And can you do the same before trying to discredit little leicester with the same to hide our failings.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Disconnecting – can YOU handle it ?

    Last night I was sitting in the living room, talking to my wife about life.. In-between, we talked about the idea of living or dying. I told her :” Never let me live in a vegetative state, totally dependent on machines and liquids from a bottle. If you see me in that state I want you to disconnect all the connections that are keeping me alive, I’d much rather die.”

    My wife got up from the sofa with this real look of admiration towards me proceeded to disconnect the Cable tv, DVD, then the Computer, the Cell Phone, the iPod, and the Xbox, and then went to the bar and threw away all my whiskey, rum, Gin, Vodka the Beer from the fridge…


    Moral : Think before you speak. The female brain works on a different wavelength!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    When discussing creative BS with fiends during that time , I always refer to The General William Westmoreland’s school of accounting of the casualties of ( Vietnam ) war .
    SNAFU doesn’t even describe it !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Josif – April 4, 2016 at 12:12 am – Having studied in the sixties and seventies , most of us would try and avoid our teachers as far as possible and always kept a low profile.
    If one received any form punishment in school , we never reported it to our parents, for if we did , we’d get some ‘extras’ at home !

    Even when I studied in medical school , I kept my distance from my lecturers and professors , but gave them the respect due to them. The only time I would have probably attracted their attention would have been on the football pitch ! Most of them were football crazy and as there was no tv coverage then , all student football games was often well attended .

  • Pat


    Just to clarify, I don’t agree with hitting children under any circumstances. Another way must be found to create an orderly cooperative atmosphere in class. I was impressed by what I saw of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Teachers, parents and children appeared to cooperate to get the best for children, and they had an education system respected throughout the world.

    From what I have read, the war to split Yugoslavia was deliberately stirred up by outside forces (e.g Germany, Britain, USA). People who had lived for decades peacefully side by side were forced to take sides and became enemies. It was not to the benefit of the people of Yugoslavia. These countries are now semi colonies of powerful forces in the EU and elsewhere.

  • Jammy J

    John – “inane ramblings of this site” If the ramblings on this site are so inane to you, then please just do everyone a favour and fuck off! You apparently don’t find the subject matter interesting at all, yet here you are; commenting on literally every single article. What went so wrong in your life, where you’re at the stage that you spend your free time reading through pages and pages of “inane ramblings” just so you can argue with people on the subject matter?

    Gords comment was clearly a joke. The reason why people like you are often the butt of the joke on here, is precisely for the reasons stated above.

  • John

    If you know thats gords comment was a joke you will realise that mine was one also silly you .I come on here because sometimes i like to get the opposite perspective of how things really are at arsenal and sometimes disagree with some of Arsenes cult followers.

  • Jammy J

    John.. Are you honestly trying to say that that last comment of yours was a joke? That is just the go-to excuse that everyone uses, whenever they have been called out on something and made to look a bit silly. At least try and be a bit more original.

    You comment on 90% of the articles on here and each and every comment of yours, is either to completely rubbish the article or to say something critical about the players, manager and/or the regular contributors to this site.”Sometimes” now that’s a joke.

    If all you wanted was a little bit of perspective on how the over-half view things, you wouldn’t still be commenting on almost every single article, months and months later. Don’t try and make it out like you’re Louis Theroux, who’s simply just trying to investigate how and why groups of people think like they do.

  • porter

    You shouldn’t try to stifle debate. Despite the fact that the site is clear in it’s support for the club and manager providing that the criticism is measured it should be welcomed and not just dismissed out of hand.

  • Jammy J

    I agree whole-heartedly Porter, but in Johns case, he doesn’t come here looking for a debate. Everyone single point he puts forward (when he actually has a point to put forward; rather than just an insult towards the site or club) is usually answered with either a evidence based opinion or a response backed-up by statistics/facts. When you offer him a counter-argument, this is more often than not completely ignored or greeted with a response similar to a child covering their ears “naa naa naa, i’m right you’re wrong”.

    On the next article, he will then state exactly the same things, which have already been addressed, about 20 times prior. More often than not, the points he makes have already been challenged and disproved countless times.

    He doesn’t come on here looking for a debate, he comes on here purely looking to start arguments. If he actually took in any of the points being made, rather than completely discrediting them without a second thought, then it would be a different story.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    There was a farmer who grew cabbages. He was doing pretty well, but he was disturbed by some local kids who would sneak into his cabbage patch at night and steal his cabbages.

    After some careful thought, he came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare the kids away for sure. He made up a sign and posted it in the field. The next night, the kids showed up and they saw the sign which read, “Warning! One of the cabbages in this field has been injected with cyanide.”

    The kids ran off, made up their own sign and posted it next to the farmer’s.

    When the farmer returned, he surveyed the field. He noticed that no cabbages were missing, but the sign next to his read: “Now there are two!”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A small town chamber of commerce invited a speaker to address its annual dinner. The community’s economy was bad, people were discouraged, and they wanted this motivational speaker to give them a boost.

    During her presentation, the speaker took a large piece of white paper and made a small black dot at the center with a marking pen. Then she held the paper up before the group and asked them what they saw.

    One person quickly replied, “I see a black dot.”

    “Okay, what else do you see?”

    Others joined in agreement: “A black dot.”

    “Don’t you see anything besides the dot?” – she asked.

    A resounding “No” came from the audience.

    “What about the sheet of paper?” – asked the speaker. “I am sure you have all seen it”, she said, “But you have chosen to overlook it.”

    “In life, we also tend to overlook and take for granted many wonderful things that we have or happen around us and focus our attention and energy on small, dot like failures and disappointments. The so called ‘problems’ that we have are usually like the black dot on the paper. They are small and insignificant if we can widen our horizon and look at the whole picture.”

    Are you one of the person who focus your attention and energy on dot-like problems?

    Or are you one that sees the endless possibility of a sheet of paper as your own canvas to draw , write , paint or do any thing with it that your heart desires ?

  • Goonermikey

    I am glad that UA control, the comments on this site. I made the silly mistake of commenting on another site couple of days ago giving some data as to why certain claims mad were very open to question rather than irrefutable as suggested. I have been subjected to waves of verbal abuse ever since. Not a counter proposal or the merest suggestion of evidence, just verbal abuse. It therefore makes me wonder why any of those people believe their views can be taken seriously.

    The worst of it is that a dozen or so people hurling abuse about both me and AW claim they are the voice of the majority……………I cannot believe the majority (nor all AAA’s) are that Neanderthal.

  • John

    Have you thought that maybe your evidence is flawed like so much of it on this website??