Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 31 December 2003

New Year Honours - Gay campaigners recognised

A police officer with the Metropolitan Police and the mother of a gay son who campaigned for the repeal of 'Section 28' have been honoured in the New Year Honours List, issued in the name of Her Majesty the Queen.

The MBE awarded to Inspector Paul Martin Cahill of the Metropolitan Police is for:


"services to diversity within the police and to the wider gay community."

The MBE awarded to Mrs Anne Patrizio is for:


"services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Scotland."

It is good to be able to end the year on a positive note.

Happy new year to all! May 2004 and beyond be peaceful, happy and prosperous for you.

Monday, 29 December 2003

Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

I saw this on Saturday, a long-anticipated post-Christmas treat. I'm pleased to say it was excellent. I'd say it was very good indeed, far better than 'The Two Towers', and almost as good as 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. All in all, I think the whole trilogy has been marvellous and far better than I could have imagined.

As someone who knows the book quite well (I have read it many times), Peter Jackson has of course had to omit or elide much of the detail when transferring it to screen. I have tried not to let this get in the way of my enjoyment of the filmed version. Not too difficult, because Jackson obviously loves the book too, and has done his job with some sensitivity. It remains to be seen whether 'The Hobbit' will be filmed, too, as has been rumoured. I read it long after having read LOTR and consider it not in the same league - but it should still make a good, if much less complex, movie.

Saturday, 20 December 2003

Brief hiatus until after Christmas

As it is coming up to the Festive Season, I am going to take a short break until a few days after Christmas, but I leave you with this:


With all good wishes
for a Joyous Christmas
and a Peaceful, Happy
and Prosperous
New Year


My Christmas tree this year


Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Ian Huntley convicted of double-murder of Holly and Jessica

Ian Huntley was today convicted of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and given two life sentences. The two Soham schoolgirls were 'enticed' into Huntley's home, where they both perished. Summing up and sentencing Huntley, Mr Justice Moses told him:


The horror of knowing what probable fate awaits you

"One of these girls died knowing her friend had been attacked or killed by you."

Watching the hostile press conference given by Chief Constable David Westwood of Humberside Police this afternoon, it is clear that whilst there may have been some failing on the part of Humberside Police operational proceudres, the major problem seems to hinge upon the conflict in public policy between the right to privacy, guaranteed by the Data Protection Act, and the retention and use of information which may be made in order to make employment and other police checks, specially in cases such as Huntley where he had never been convicted of an offence, although it seems he had been repeatedly suspected (and on one or two occasions, accused) of crimes of a sexual nature.

However much the journalists at this press conference may wish to make it seem as if major failings or negligence on the part of Humberside Police could, if avoided, have prevented these horrific murders (because Huntley would never have been able to gain employment as a school caretaker, in the first place) the reality is much more complex. I believe that it will be no easy matter to frame changes to legislation to serve the dual purposes of enhancing the protection of vulnerable people such as children, the elderly or mentally disadvantaged, etc, and ensuring that individual rights are not unnecessarily infringed. Journalists would be the first to want to investigate cases where a police force had overstepped their legal authority in carrying out an investigation or misused information they may have held from time to time about any individual.
Atkins Low Carbohydrate Diet - Week 26

I moved from 'Ongoing Weight Loss' (OWL) to 'Pre-maintenance' (PRM), the 3rd stage of this 'way of eating' (WOE) during last week, as my weight had dropped to within 7 lb of my target weight. For the week as a whole I had reasonable results, losing a further 0.4kg (0.9lb), and my weight is now (as at Sunday 14th December) 68.0kg, a reduction of 30.0kg since I began (or 66.2lb) - I now have 3.0kg (6.6lb) to reach my target of 65kg. Measurement indicators for the week:
- waist down a further 0.2 inches to 32.1 inches (total reduction so far 12.9 inches);
- hips down 0.3 inches to 39.2 inches (total reduction so far 9.3 inches);
- thighs down 0.1 inches to 22.6 inches (total reduction so far 5.9 inches).

Between moving from OWL to PRM during last week, and last Sunday, my weight hardly changed. Because the changes are now so minor it is difficult to tell over only a few days what precisely is occurring - and I am trying not to become too agitated about the matter. In the last couple of days I am pretty certain my weight has begun to edge down again a little (perhaps by 0.2kg, o.4lb) and if I could achieve this very gradual loss consistently between now and end-March 2004 I would reach my target at roughly the correct pace, but in reality I expect that I will lose more weight some weeks, and little or nothing in other weeks. If the worst happens and I notice a slight increase over a few weeks, I am pretty confident I will be able to make the necessary dietary adjustments to put me back on track. One of the marvellous things about this WOE is that I am now, for the first time in my life, in control of my appetite. So the likelihood that I will start to 'binge' on food again, ever, is pretty remote. Even over the coming Christmas period I do not anticipate major problems in this regard, even though I shall be doing a lot of entertaining over this time. In practice I have found it quite easy to modify menus to suit both the requirements of 'Atkins' and those not on a carbohydrate-contolled diet. In practice, I think I shall be eating somewhere between 45g and 50g carb a day in order to do PRM successfully, but I shall not know exactly until I have spent several weeks at this level.

Because I am now on PRM I do not plan to do a regular weekly report from now on, but will instead post a report here only once every two or three weeks.

Monday, 15 December 2003

Vatican hierarchy obliged to listen to some necessary home truths

US singer Lauryn Hill told an audience of 7,500 in the Vatican, at the start of her performance during a Christmas concert, that the Church leadership was corrupt. It is about time that someone had the courage to 'tell it like it is' to this sick organisation. Quite obviously there was a stunned and negative reaction to what she said. So sorry, but I have no sympathy at all for them. (Link thru Matt Drudge)

Sunday, 14 December 2003

Andrew Sullivan reveals his true motivation

I have just read the following posting in Andrew Sullivan's blog. It makes clear that, as I have long suspected, his antipathy to the EU and its growth and strengthening is not merely a philosophical dislike, but based on his assessment of the potential consequences for his adopted country. Nothing particularly wrong with that, base self-interest is an important component of any human interaction, but it does mean that I can now factor in this important element to anything that Sullivan writes about the EU in future, and probably about many other topics which exercise him, too:


Sullivan comes clean

"NEW EUROPE WINS: The plucky Spanish and Poles stick to their guns and help derail a new constitution for the EU. Good news for the U.S. But the process isn't over. Old Europe will try to put it back together again. Instant analysis: the 25 state EU is unmanageable. It either has to become a far more integrated political and economic unit or it will fracture. Given the fact that even France and Germany cannot abide by the fiscal rules they themselves insisted upon only a few years ago, the chances of a real unraveling are not as low as they once were. Here's hoping."

Of course, in this particular instance, I understand fully the Polish attitude (as I have written in a couple of my recent postings) and consider they have behaved quite correctly in this whole matter, but the difference between me and Sullivan is that I wish the EU and its member-states well; I now have severe doubts that this can be said of him. It is one thing to think that people are embarked on a path which is not in their own best interests and wish, as a friend, to help them see the error of their ways, it is quite another simply to wish them to fail for one's own reasons of self-interest. In this Sullivan is no better than the motives he attributes to the French, probably with some justification in that case I would have to agree.
Paul Bremer: "We got him."

Photograph released by the US military authorities.

Paul Bremer, US chief administrator in Iraq began a press conference in Baghdad, about one hour ago, with these words: "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him".
Reports (unconfirmed) that Saddam Hussein has been captured in Tikrit

Reuters is reporting that they have reports that Saddam Hussein has been arrested in his home town of Tikrit.

It seems the reports come through IRNA (Iran News Agency) who are quoting remarks from Kurdish sources. If this report turns out to be true it will be both surprising (that he has been captured in Tikrit itself) and wonderful. I hope he has been arrested alive so he can be tried and humiliated before the Iraqi people - they, above all, need to know that the worst of their nightmare is over (if it is).

Saturday, 13 December 2003

EU Constitution - summit ends in failure (or success, if you take a different view)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, currently chairing, today called it a day as the disagreement on fundamental matters proved too great for there to be any hope of compromise being reached.

Some of the reaction to what has happened is illuminating, particularly this one from what I assume to be a German politician:


EU Member of Parliament Klaus Haensch

"Poland and Spain have shown they are not at the level of European history."

Such arrogance!

As I wrote back in June this year, of the EU draft constitution: "... we need one, but Giscard d'Estaing's effort ain't it".
EU Constitution - under debate at Brussels summit conference

EU Heads of Government are presently trying to thrash out the detail of the draft treaty on an EU Constitution. There are a number of matters at issue, but perhaps at this stage the most fundamental relates to the respective voting levels attributable to each existing and soon-to-join member state and the manner in which decisions may be carried.

At a summit held at Nice in December 2000 a complex voting formula was agreed to specify the votes attributable to each existing and new member; this had the effect, well-discussed at the time, of not giving states a level of votes directly related to their respective populations. The principal reason for this was that certain states (that is to say, France) objected strongly to the idea that Germany, with by far the largest population (since reunification with the former East Germany), should have a greater number of votes than the other 'big three', namely France, the United Kingdom and Italy. As a result all of the 'big four' were allocated 29 votes each.

Two other states, Spain and aspiring-member Poland, were each allocated 27 votes. These two have significantly smaller votes than the 'big four', but are themselves much bigger in terms of population than any of the other actual or aspiring members.

This agreement was reached, as are most such decisions involving the EU, after very prolonged 'haggling' - and it was accepted at the time by all. A somewhat simplified and slanted interpretation of the current debate is given in this BBC article.

Since then, however, some of the implications which might flow from these voting weightings have begun to be realised. Being completely cynical, which of course I never am, certain countries (namely Germany and France) have realised that the Nice agreement, if followed, would deprive them of the ability to dictate, to all intents and purposes, the future course of EU policy - as they have almost always done in the past. To correct this 'mistake', it is now proposed by France and Germany that a 'double majority' formula be applied to future votes in which a simple majority of member states (13 of the enlarged 25-member EU) coupled with 60% of the total population of the EU would be required to carry or defeat any motion. Poland says this will give the 'large' countries too much power; it may also be forgiven for wondering if the 'prospectus' on which it was encouraged to join the EU was a false one.

Under the current six-month rotating EU Presidency, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in the chair. Normally, each country in this position likes to have achieved something significant during the six-month period - hence the haggling to obtain the Nice agreement in December 2000, for reasons (valid or otherwise) which seem to be glossed over now by France in particular and Germany; its principal purpose was to limit German power by giving France, and entirely coincidentally (my interpretation) the UK and Italy, too, the same number of votes as Germany. It is all the more significant, in my view, that Berlusconi is cautioning that:


Berlusconi warns against bad deal

"If [negotiations] can't be concluded by Sunday morning, it would be better to continue [talking] than to make a bad deal."

Poland is demonstrating that it is not willing to be pushed around by France and Germany. My view is that this is direct pay-back for the insolent remarks of President Chirac earlier this year when he suggested that countries such as Poland and some of the other aspiring EU members should 'shut up' when they took a different attitude from France and Germany toward the developing Iraqi crisis.

As a fervent pro-European, I want closer integration between EU member states, but it needs to be on the basis of equalty. The orginal six member EEC, heavily dominated by [West] Germany and France, can no longer expect to have automatic acquiescence in their wishes. This was already becoming untenable when there were successively nine members, twelve members and now fifteen members and will become completely and outrageously unacceptable when there are twenty-five members. On the other hand, there does need to be some kind of voting formula to prevent the whole institution from becoming completely unwieldy, whilst protecting the rights of the smaller countries. But France, in particular, will have to realise that countries which lived under the yoke of Nazi then Soviet tyranny for several decades cannot be expected to cede their hard-won independence and fledgling democracies to an institution in which they are effectively cut-out of the major decsions. Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) was betrayed by the western European democracies once before and Poland suffered effectively in the same way in practical terms, despite having been the 'straw' which forced these western European democracies to act.

Thursday, 11 December 2003

US excludes opponents of Iraq policy from rebuilding contracts

France, Germany and Russia, as well as Canada and China, have been excluded by the US administration from bidding for contracts worth USD18.6bn (GBP11bn) for the rebuilding of Iraq. They are not happy and have reacted with fury. Tough.
Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, interviewed for BBC HardTalk

I've just been watching Gavin Esler interview Iranian human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi, the broadcast timed to coincide with the presentation today in Oslo of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, announced last October. The broadcast is not yet streamed to the BBC website (they are still streaming an earlier interview with Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon), but I expect the Shirin Ebadi interview will appear shortly. She is a most humane and interesting lady. Here's a link.

There's also this article, detailing some of her tough comments directed at the west during her acceptance speech today.

Wednesday, 10 December 2003

Chancellor Brown announces increased budget deficit

.... but says increased borrowing is 'sound' and everything remains rosy. Well, that's alright then.

Also announced today is a change in the way inflation is to be calculated, basically to exclude the effect of property price rises from the basket used - we were on RPI, briefly on HCIP, now we're on CPI (Consumer Price Index). Not uncoincidentally, this will allow inflation to be shown as 1.4%, rather than its current 2.6%. The inflation target will be changed from 2.5% to 2.0% to reflect this change. I don't quarrel with the underlying change, but wonder if it is not just too politically convenient with an election probably only 18 months away.

Update: here's the FT take on Brown's budget speech.
Atkins Low Carbohydrate Diet - Week 25

... and the sixth week since I moved from 'Induction' to 'Ongoing Weight Loss'. I again had quite good results, losing a further 0.6kg (1.4lb), and my weight is now (as at Sunday 7th December) 68.4kg, a reduction of 29.6kg since I began (or 65.3lb) - I now have 3.4kg (7.5lb) to reach my target of 65kg. Measurement indicators for the week:
- waist down a further 0.2 inches to 32.3 inches (total reduction so far 12.7 inches);
- hips down 0.1 inches to 39.5 inches (total reduction so far 9.0 inches);
- thighs down 0.2 inches to 22.7 inches (total reduction so far 5.8 inches).

I have remained, broadly speaking, on OWL step 4 (max. 40g carb a day). On both Monday and Tuesday evenings (8th and 9th December) my weight seemed to be hovering around 68.0kg, a further reduction of 0.4kg, leaving me only 3.0 kg (6.6 lb) to reach my target, so I decided to move today from the 'OWL' stage of Atkins to 'Pre-Maintenance', as I feel I need to slow down my weight-loss if I am to follow Atkins' guidelines when approaching target weights. As mentioned before, this is the 3rd stage of this eating plan and I think probably the most difficult as it involves further increasing food intake so that weight loss becomes barely noticeable on a weekly basis - certainly no more than 1 lb a week and preferably no more than about 1/2 lb. The addition to my diet, at least for the remainder of this week, will be to around 50g carb a day, with the additional 10g carb a day being supplied in the form of more nuts. According to Atkins these are almost perfect foods as they contain a pretty good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate - more to the point, I enjoy eating them! It looks like I'll be able to justify having the small roast-potato on Christmas Day that I've been promising myself for months.

Friday, 5 December 2003

A brief 'hiatus' over the coming weekend

I will be away from Friday morning until late on Sunday so won't be posting here again before Monday next. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 4 December 2003

"Single Malt" or "Pure Malt"

A move by drinks giant Diageo, to produce a mixture of malt whiskies and to sell it under the well-known and well-respected until now 'single malt' name of Cardhu, instead changing that descriptor on the label to 'pure malt', has sparked a bitter debate between Diageo and other producers of branded 'single malt' whiskies.

For a start, I am not a whisky drinker, although I have in recent years tasted a number of fine 'single malt' whiskies which, to my untutored palate (in whisky, at least) bare close comparison with some fine cognacs or armagnacs with which I am more familiar and enjoy greatly.

Apparently the 'Scotch Whisky Association', the industry trade body, will hold a meeting today in Edinburgh at which an attempt will be made to thrash this matter out. The opponents of what Diageo plan to do believe that the move to make Cardhu a 'blend' of malt whiskies will damage the reputation for authenticity given by the descriptor 'single malt'. A 'single malt' is produced in Scotland, solely from the named distillery. A 'pure malt' will contain solely malt whiskies, but from a number of different malt whiskies.

One imagines that the Cardhu 'pure malt' will contain primarily Cardhu 'single malt' together with a judicious mixture of malts from other disttilleries. The Diageo move is apparently motivated by the fact that the Cardhu 'brand name' has been so successful in certain markets (e.g. Spain) that the amount that can be produced can no longer meet the demand. Rivals suggest that the correct way to tackle this is to increase production capacity over time. Perhaps this is not possible, for all I know, as one of the other foundations upon which the reputation of 'malt whisky' and 'Scotch' in general is based is upon the 'pureness' and 'uniqueness' of the water used. Or perhaps the move by Diageo is a major innovation which will be seen, in marketing terms, as a brilliant move in 20 or 40 years time.

It seems to me that this all rests on how the development of 'pure malts' is promoted. Undoubtedly it may be a way to increase overall sales by further segmenting the market into different levels of 'premium' product for the connoisseur of malt whisky. It all depends, I think, on what Diageo puts on the back label of its 'Cardhu pure malt' - will it specify the precise percentage of Cardhu 'single malt' and list the names and percentages of the other malts which it uses? I could easily imagine, for example, that a 'luxury' brand could be created by careful promotion of an exclusive mixture of 'single malts' from already highly-prized brands, or even - for niche markets - a 'palette' of a variety of small quantities of various combinations of different 'single malts' in named percentages.

In short, it is all a matter of understanding more clearly what Diageo plans, before one can decide whether it is a disaster in the long-term for the Scotch whisky industry or a brilliant move will take it to a new level, just as the development of 'single malt' whiskies did in the last fifty or so years.
Another worthwhile weblog from Iraq - added to links at right

This one is by Jason Van Steenwyk, a US military officer. His weblog IRAQ NOW is quite wittily written, but is serious and quite informative. It is also pretty candid and honest and written by someone who writes well, even if what he is saying is sometimes contentious. Well worth a read. I got to it via a link from IndePundit.

Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Holyrood Inquiry - tender process broke Scottish Office's own rules

Bill Armstrong, during his second day of evidence to the Fraser Inquiry, made the following serious assertions:


"I believed it was entirely wrong."

"Under the procurement laws as I understand it and the Scottish Office's own building directive, once you get the four tenders and you are agreed that they are all able to do the job and you open all the tenders, then you are duty bound to take the lowest tender."
and
Asked by counsel for the inquiry, John Campbell QC, if he was concerned about the legality of the move, Mr Armstrong said: "Yes I was concerned that here we were all reputable professionals and we had gone down a route which I felt was now being compromised. I believed it was entirely wrong."


There have been so many revelations during this inquiry that my darkest suspicions appear to be in process of being confirmed, far more closely than I could have imagined. However, I think it is appropriate that I cease further commentary until Lord Fraser issues his final report, probably in the very early part of next year. I understand his report will be passed to the First Minister, Jack McConnell, and it is to be hoped that he in turn will publish it in full as he, I think, undertook to do at the time the inquiry was launched. It is unlikely to make for happy reading, I fear.
Undercover Iran - Inside the Hidden Revolution

Channel4 broadcast this programme yesterday evening, but I have only just a little while ago had the opportunity to watch the videotape I recorded.

Jane Kokan, a Canadian journalist, provided detailed evidence of the brutality of the current Iranian theocratic regime - truly sickening undercover video evidence was shown of barbaric punishments being carried out (removal of an eye as punishment, stoning to death of adulterers, removal of a hand using a guillotine-type blade) as well as evidence of torture, beatings and general thuggery by the regime's agents.

Unfortunately, the regime that existed before the mullahs came to power was pretty brutal, too. Although the Shah was very pro-western, and sought to modernise the country, the brutality of the Savak security police was notorious.

A number of Iranian dissidents outside Iran were interviewed and their desire to see the end of theocracy in Iran must be applauded. Specially pertinent was one individual who said he wanted his country to become a 'liberal democracy' where 'religion would have no place'. He went on to say that religion should be a purely private matter, that people should be able to practise whatever religion (or none) they wished to, but that it should have no influence on state or public matters. I sincerely hope that such an outcome might be possible. However, the danger is that the west could 'get into bed' with a faction seemingly acceptable to us, but which turns out to be just another brutal dictatorship in the making. Just like the Shah, in his day. Sincere efforts to help the Iranian dissidents to achieve the liberation of their country are undoubtedly warranted, although I don't envy our own diplomats and security services who may have to decide whom amongst the various factions to support, tacitly or more visibly, if any. After all, Saudi Arabia is a pretty brutal place today for those who attempt to challenge the power of the ruling family, and Koweit was not exactly a shining democracy before the invasion by Iraq in 1990. As is being made abundantly clear by what is going on in Iraq today, transition to 'democracy' may perhaps be facilitated by outside intervention, but without the visceral support of local people will never take root in a manner likely to be durable.
Holyrood Inquiry - (ir)responsibility in/for publicly-financed projects

I find it very hard to believe that all those responsible for this fiasco (aka 'fraud') are, oh so conveniently, .... dead.
Holyrood Inquiry - completely incredible, but with the ring of truth (outrageously!)

Now, why was Miralles chosen? Bill Armstrong professes not to know.

Monday, 1 December 2003

World Aids Day - Zackie Achmat is a modern-day hero

I have known about the efforts of Zackie Achmat for some years. He has been campaigning in his native South Africa for quite a long time to change the policy of the South African government led by Thabo Mbebi with regard to AIDS. As I have written before, President Mbeki has for years refused to accept that HIV is the way-station to AIDS. Mr Achmat's long campaign is widely recognised to have brought about the U-turn in government policy in South Africa, last month. The government has now promised to distribute drugs to all who need them within five years (of course, that will be far too late for many sufferers, but at least it is a step in the right direction). South Africa is estimated to have 5 million people living with HIV or AIDS and with one in nine of the population affected, the highest rate of infection in the world.

This article in today's Telegraph is extremely welcome. It is very difficult to imagine such an article having been written in this newspaper until very recently. Also welcome is the coming into force, today, of legislation in the UK providing employment protection for homosexuals in most situations (with the deplorable exception of those employed within religious organisations - I have written about this before, but make no apology for 'banging on' about it).
US set to drop steel tariffs


This report in the Washington Post predicts that US President Bush will announce repeal of most US tariffs on steel imports, possibly later this week. (Link thru Drudge)

It seems this change is to avoid a damaging trade battle with other countries (probably the EU principally) and possibly partly to try and bolster his re-election hopes for next year. I am very glad that sanity finally appears to be breaking out in Washington. If it is also true that a deal has been reached between the US and UK for the repatriation to the UK of those Britons being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (as I mentioned earlier was predicted yesterday in press reports here) then it may be that the publicly very-supportive, but perhaps more frank in private, policy of Tony Blair in his dealings with President Bush is at last paying dividends.
Atkins Low Carbohydrate Diet - Weeks 23 & 24

... and the fourth and fifth weeks since I moved from 'Induction' to 'Ongoing Weight Loss'. Pretty good results were recorded in both weeks, the best for some time. Indeed, I had to take steps to reduce the rate of weight loss in week 23. I think this happened because I have started gradually to do lengthier and lengthier light 'jogging' during my daily dog-walks and had not been increasing my food intake adequately to compensate. Anyway, I see this as a good 'problem' to have! During the first week I was on step 4 of the OWL carb ladder. I lost 0.9kg (2.0lb). I remained on the same daily carb level during the second week, but ensured I was actually eating closer to the limits allowed, rather than instinctively restricting my intake to quite a bit below this, so in the second of the two weeks I lost 0.6kg (1.4lb), and my weight is now (as at Sunday 30th November) 69.0kg, a reduction of 29.0kg since I began (or 63.9lb) - I now have 4.0kg (8.9lb) to reach my target of 65kg. Measurement indicators for the 2 weeks:
- waist down a further 0.4 inches to 32.5 inches (total reduction so far 12.5 inches);
- hips down 0.4 inches to 39.6 inches (total reduction so far 8.9 inches);
- thighs down 0.2 inches to 22.9 inches (total reduction so far 5.6 inches).

OWL step 4 (max. 40g carb a day) allowed me to have small bowls of berries (for example strawberries, blueberries or redcurrants) liberally coated in double cream. Depending on how my weight loss progresses in the next one or two weeks, I plan to move from the 'OWL' stage of Atkins to 'Pre-Maintenance' - this is the 3rd stage of this eating plan and I think probably the most difficult as it involves further increasing food intake so that weight loss becomes barely noticeable on a weekly basis - certainly no more than 1 lb a week and preferably no more than about 1/2 lb. However, I am now pretty confident that I know enough about what I can and cannot eat to control my weight so that I have no real worries I may not reach my target sufficiently slowly for it to become second nature.