How to Tell if an Egg is Bad

If they are engaging in cyber-bullying or promoting the spread of the international slave trade, a Bad Egg classification is straightforward.
But what of those more domestic eggs that sit so silently in your pantry? How can you know what secrets lurk within their albumen?

There are varying theories, some more odd than others. Some say you should shine a strong light through it to see if there’s a chick inside. Others suggest shaking the egg to hear if it sloshes (it shouldn’t), or spinning it (it should stop after you touch its centre-point), or plopping it into water to see if it sinks (bad eggs are alleged to float).

With half a dozen suspect eggs on our hands, we decided to conduct an experiment. We tried the spinning, the shaking, and the sinking; before finally using the most reliable of all tests: cracking the eggs open. (Outside.) Results? Mixed.

Smiley Egg HeadEgg #1 spun plentifully, gave a faint ‘thunka’ noise when shaken, and sank – on an angle. Bad egg

Egg #2 also spun plentifully, sloshed when shaken (although this may have been due to the vigour of the shaking) and stood on end under water as all good eggs should. It was a passable egg – not fresh, but not rotten. Call it a curate’s egg.
(Revd John Jones, curate Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd?) (1879) NLW3364461

Egg #3 spun less, kept quiet when shaken, and stood on end under water.

Good egg

Egg #4 spun lots, kept quiet when shaken, and stood on end under water.

Bad egg

Egg #5 spun less, made a little bumping noise on being shaken, and sank on an angle. Good egg

Egg #6 spun a bit, kept quiet, and sank upright after bobbing.

(Revd John Jones, curate Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd?) (1879) NLW3364461


An egg which sinks on an angle could be good or bad. An egg which sinks on end could be good, bad or indifferent. Not a very reliable test.

An egg which makes a noise when shaken could be good, bad or indifferent. An egg which remains silent could be good, bad or indifferent. Again, not a very reliable test.

An egg which spins a little could be indifferent or good. An egg which spins a lot could be indifferent or bad.

The obvious conclusions to draw are that spinning provides the closest thing to a working test, out of the three we sampled; and that simulated drowning and the use of force do not produce reliable information.


What methods have you tried for testing your eggs? Found anything that works?

Lost Virtues

Virtue and eccentricity, I hear you asking, what’s the link? Is there one?
There is. Follow me, not into the dark forest of Stygian gloom, but into the sun-dappled meadows where virtues frolick with daisies in their hair, while eccentrics play diversion on a penny-whistle and grave-faced philosophers play hopscotch on the lawn.

John Stuart Mill asserted that eccentricity and moral courage went together. Maya Angelou said that “courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Eccentricity -> courage -> virtue. Start with a funny hat and work your way up to defying the evils of your time.

Kaiulani in San Francisco, retouched photo by J. J. Williams
In fact, virtuousness is itself becoming increasingly eccentric – as the moral centre of society moves away from virtue, virtue becomes necessarily off-centre. The modern world seems to have only one virtue: tolerance.
But tolerance is not a virtue.

Hear me out. Being tolerant can be a good and right thing to do, such as when someone insists on telling you all about this amazing new wonder-diet they’re on that will bring about world peace if people will only try it, and you tolerantly don’t attempt to smack the stupid right off them. But it can also be a wrong and evil thing to do, which naturally debars it from being a virtue. Consider: when elements of the Roman Catholic hierarchy covered up the abuse perpetrated by those in their own ranks, they were tolerating the abuse, tolerating something which should be intolerable to all, and not only to its victims.

Tolerance. Not always good. Not a virtue.

The reason I chose the example of child abuse (and my apologies to anyone who finds mentions of it traumatic) is because in this heyday of moral relativism it is one of the few things that most people are prepared to agree is a bad thing. Well, I’m going to take the courage of my convictions (happily, no sentence yet) and say that there are some things which are good, and some bad, and some better than others. And because I do not wish to be a Negative Nellie, instead of dwelling on the bad, I intend to look at the good: the virtues.

And they are good. Virtues get a bad rap (because vices have better PR). Virtuousness is seen as priggish, boring and smug – even life-denying. This is the complete opposite of the truth. As Agatha Christie pointed out in The Pale Horse, evil is “necessarily always more impressive than good. It had to make a show!” This is why things like smoking and gambling have such big advertising budgets. It’s all in the presentation. If you stuck with the plain facts of the matter, there’d be no takers. Virtue is less flashy, but then, real gold doesn’t glitter; and it certainly doesn’t flash like neon.

Going up... (7253407110)
So, during the next year or thereabouts, I want to have a look at a few of the glorious virtues which we seem to have devalued and scrapped. Humility. Modesty. Loyalty. Gentleness. Moderation. Self-control. We might even have a look at Bissonomy and Tubso. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to suddenly become all ethics all the time – eccentrics and aesthetics must have their share of the fun too. (The Eccentric Ethic & Æsthetic: does what it says on the tin.)

And it will be fun. Because there is right and there is wrong, and if your life of right is grey and dreary, you are doing it wrong.