Sunday, 28 April 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 22-28/4/13

Hi, Soccererererers

We have learned, this week (as if we didn't already know it) that there are only three sure-fire ways to avoid prosecution for a criminal act:

1 - Be a megalomaniacal despot in an authoritarian country

2 - Be a maniac in an organisation powerful enough to commit criminal acts with impunity e.g. a Church / fossil-fuel company / bank

3 - Be a soccer player

'SUAREZIDENT EVIL - Suarez Bites Ivanovic // Bad Teeth'

Just like cultists don't want to mar the image of their cult by having their glorious leaders prosecuted for crimes, soccerers don't want the image of their 'beautiful game' marred by having their glorious icons prosecuted for crimes.

Despite a criminal act, Suarez has got away with a 10-match ban.

BTW, it *is* soccer. 'Football' refers to pretty-much any game that involves feet and balls, be it 'footy' (aussie rules), 'handegg' (USsie rules), or 'rugger' (Rugby Football).

'Soccer' refers only to one particular type of football - Association Football - the one in which an hour and a half can drift by and not a single point be scored. Statistically, golf is higher paced!

So there :-P

For Skeptical Rationalists around the world, many of us have been long awaiting the revelation of... Operation Solar Flare.

And at last, we have it! Mwahahahahahaha....

Richard Saunders has been teasing us with trailers on the Skeptic Zone podcast feed for weeks, now, and it turns out to be a parody/comedy series. If you keep up with the world of woo, and of skepticism, you'll hear plenty more jokes (and in-jokes) than everyone else ;-)

If you don't, then don't worry, you won't even recognise the voices, but the show'll still be fun :-)

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'SURICATE - Movies vs. Life'
"What is this? A black pixel sir. The resolution is shitty..." :-D
{I love :-D}

'Cassetteboy Reviews: All The British Soaps // Bad Teeth'
{Correction: This is not *all* the British Soaps, but it is representative of them! :-D }

'Mr. Willie - BAM! Wal-Mart greeter remix'

Making fun of George W. Bush (Jr.) still hasn't grown tired...

"Don't Make Fun of the Crippled Boy" by Roy Zimmerman

A little comedy, from the time, on one of my favourite shows:

'Bush Quotes' - I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (6th June 2005)



'The Checkout - Episode 6' (30 minutes)

'The Darkness - With A Woman (Official Video)'
{I'm sure i've posted this before, but that link's broken now, and this one's new}

The sound of the Big Bang... apparently. I'm glad it's over :-/

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: emolument -- a salary, fee, or profit from employment or office

Expression Of The Week: "the whole ball of wax" -- one of many expressions that allude to completeness - an entirety. specific origin unknown

Etymology Of The Week: podcast -- pod, from 'iPod' (because originally they would be put on an iPod) + broadcast

Quote Of The Week: "I am so busy i have had to put off the date of my death" - Bertrand Russell (he lived to 97)

{If i don't increase my actually-finishing-work-rate, i'm going to have to put off my own. Maybe i should try the Rimmer method, in 'Only The Good...' (He need the Grim Reaper in his bal... wait a moment!) }

Anagram Of The Week: Virginia Bottomley -- I'm an evil Tory bigot

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'"How To Break Up" Tales Of Mere Existence'

'"A Typical Conversation With My Mom" Tales Of Mere Existence'
Moms, huh? 'Cos sane women don't breed...

'"How I Found Out About Girls " Tales Of Mere Existence'

'"What I Learned From My Gerbils" Tales Of Mere Existence'

'"Corporations are People" The Arena / Tales Of Mere Existence'

'"Voter Apathy" The Arena / Tales Of Mere Existence'

Have a nice trip!

Six political references in The Simpsons, some of which you won't have realised before:
There are also plenty of Maths references, in The Simpsons, too:

'Bagelheads – Japan’s Take on the Klingon Forehead'

Lying in a coffin to make yourself feel better? Riiiight... [backs away slowly]

'Fangweng – China’s Cliff-Hanging Restaurant'

'World’s Bounciest Chair Is Made from 65,000 Rubber Bands'

A rather 'interesting' interview with Bobby Llew, on Aussie TV, in the '90s. The ending does not disappoint :-D

Neon might be beautiful, but carbon's big and black, and that's what hydrogen really wants :o)

'Artificial Frozen Waterfall'

'The Rude Crude Cosmos'
A cock and balls in the martian sand, and the 'finger of god' in the Keyhole Nebula.

'Sperm Vs 4G'

Monday, 22 April 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/4/13

Hi, Emeralds

Guess who i discovered, this week... Caro Emerald.

I found her on this program, which is no longer available... sorry., no, no - it's here, too :-D

^ Proof that Tapejara Blog's written in real-time :-P

Her Wiki page is covered in the fact that her debut album knocked Jacko's 'Thriller' of the Netherlands' #1 spot for time at #1!

Although she's been semi-famous since 2010, i've caught her just in time to nudge you at her new, second album 'The Shocking Miss Emerald' which will be available in May.

Caro Emerald and her band play in a style she calls 'jazzpop' - derived from 30s/40s/50s Jazz.

It's not a style i own much music in (none at all), but i'm finding it highly endearing :-)

Some songs from the new album:

'Caro Emerald, Tangled Up - BBC Radio 2 In Concert'

Completely - Royal Albert Hall 2013

I Belong To You - Royal Albert Hall 2013

My favourite, from the BBC gig, that caught my ear and kept me listening is 'I Belong To You'. It's a passionate song (i like them like that - no drippy stuff) and certainly sounds the Shirley Bassey tribute that she introduced it as. If you can't see the BBC material (and i know many can't) i'm afraid this is the best video i've found. You'll have to buy it to get a better recording :-P

'Caro Emerald "I Belong To You" at the Royal Albert Hall'

Or you can listen to this quality audio version:

Other songs:

'Back It Up' (Maida Vale session)

'Stuck' (Maida Vale session)

'Caro Emerald - Dream a little dream of me'

Riviera Life's such a wonderful song :-)

'Caro Emerald - Riviera Life (Royal Albert Hall)'

Or you can listen to this quality audio version:

'Caro Emerald - Dr Wanna Do (Royal Albert Hall)'

'Caro Emerald sings That Man live On Strictly Come Dancing'

'Caro Emerald - Bad Romance (Live @ HMH)'

P.S. Did anyone notice the word "B00BS" in the amazon link? ;-)

I've also been working through Nurd Rage's videos, on YouTube.

I've picked out some of my favourites and linked them in the non-contemporary section, further down the page...

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Cassetteboy Reviews: Paul Hollywood's Bread // Bad Teeth'
{Positively disgusting :-D }

'God's special sauce'
Gordon Ramsay lays the smackdown on a guy who's sauce is made by "a higher power" :-D

'The Checkout - Episode 5'

'Optical illusion for those on a diet' via Richard Wiseman
Oh boy - this one's good :-D

'Paint Exploding at 15,000fps - The Slow Mo Guys'

'17 problems you haven't had since the 90s'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Un-quotes Of The Week:

Lady Godiva: "I'm not going out there without a haircut - a short back and sides'll do"

The Boy Who Cried Wolf: "Sheep!"

The Procrastination Society: "Right - let's get a move on..."

Word Of The Week: exonym -- a proper noun used by people outside a group, instead of that group's own terminology e.g. "Londres" (french) instead of "London", which is the English endonym

Expression Of The Week: "tan da bing" -- chinese slang for 'urban sprawl', which translates as "spreading pancake"

Etymology Of The Week: rubbernecking -- gawping at something; an allusion to tourists, who crane their necks, as if made of rubber, in order to 'see the sights'

Quote Of The Week: "Never order soup in an open-air restaurant, because if it starts to rain, you'll never finish it" - Victor Lewis-Smith

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'At the gym: who is looking at whom?'

Let's go for a drive on the moon...

Full moon silhouettes. Achieved by positioning the camera two miles from the silhouetted people, and a few hundred thousand from the moon ;-)

'Namibian Nights' by Squiver

'Laughing Without Smiling'


'Easy Lamb Roast' advert :-)

I >< Schroedinger...

'Painting with LEDs' via Ripley's

What the hell game is this?????

A sample of the quality journalism you can expect from the UK :-D :-D :-D

Funny stuff on Tumblr...

One of the most pointless inventions ever:

Nurd Rage!!!

'Cool Science: Restore Silver with Electrochemistry'

'Make Silver Different Colors by Anodizing'

'Cool Science: Silver Chloride Photochemistry'

'NurdRage Presents: 3 Cool Things of Science'

'How To Make a 100ft Glow Stick!!!'

'Make SMASH-GLOW Crystals!!!'

'BREAK HEARTS with Liquid Nitrogen'

'Make Iron BLEED'

'Gum in Acid'

'Gum in Potassium Chlorate'

'Cockroach Cremation'

Catching up on Fake Science:

'The Science of Body Language'

The ancient Mayans explained:

'Healthy Habits Can Be Fun'

'Using All Your Senses'

'Distribution of Results'

'The Striped Bass'

'Chart The Sky'

'Don’t Daydream'

'Common Map Symbols'

'Sleep Better Now'

Monday, 15 April 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/4/13

Hello, everyone

There's been a refrain ringing out across the world, recently, resurrecting a song from The Wizard Of Oz: "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!". But why?

Because Margaret Thatcher has finally kicked the metaphorical bucket. Apparently, she had advancing dementia - but with conservatives, how can you tell?

For those who don't know who she is: she was the best UK Prime Minister of the 1980s... and the worst.

She's famous for going to war with miners, for taking away children's milk, for war-mongering over a tiny island in the South Atlantic, and inculcating a solipsistic, greed motivated,
über-capitalistic, anti-social, nationalistic culture that encouraged the libertarian exploitation of the weak by the strong, with sloppy tax laws and frankly-fascistic extents of patriotism, that the residents of the UK are still suffering today. And, inevitably, the rest of the world, through the UK's actions on the 'global stage'.

Plus, homophobia. Double plus, she won't jump :-D

Thatcher's soggy personality is not for turning, and not for jumping, either, apparently. After all, if she made herself seem human, then her minions would think less of her.

...oh, and she said society doesn't exist. There are only lots of individuals. Clearly, her mind was doughy enough to not realise that that's exactly what a society is!

Some have distracted from all the harm she did with 'but she was Britain's first female PM - and the daughter of a grocer - that's got to count for something'.

Well, yes, it has -- no woman, especially a daughter of a grocer will ever become British PM, ever again, for fear that they'll turn out to be like Maggie!

That's how it's counted.

Oh, and on retirement she was made into Baroness Thatcher - so also known as Lady Thatcher - which sounds like a feminine grooming appliance!

But apparently, Atos has still verified her as fit for work!
{Atos is a private healthcare company that has declared thousands of disabled people as fit to work. The irony being that Thatcher exalted privatisation so much}

But let's get this clear: unlike many octogenarians who will die this year, because of her political legacy, she did not die of cold or hunger!

'Frankie Boyle on Thatcher's Funeral'
{This is year's old, but that shows how long we've been waiting - since she became PM, really}

You can read a non-emotionalistic account, here:
"Thatcher is reviled by some not just because she crushed the left, the Labour movement and the post-war social democratic settlement. It is because she did it with such enthusiasm, and showed no regret for the terrible human cost."

Conservatives love her, though. Hero worship is such a pathetic phenomenon, isn't it!

On a lighter note -- The Unbelievable Truth is back!

And another of my uploads to Tumblr has gathered 'a few' (>2000) reblogs. I suppose i ought to show you what all the fuss is about...

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'Illusion dance' via Richard Wiseman. This is awesome :-)

'Cassetteboy Reviews: JEREMY KYLE // Bad Teeth'

'Father Ted - ALL the Fecks // Bad Teeth'
Taboos are so weird! How's "fuck" such a horror, for the censors, but getting a group of little kids to shout "feck" fine? Ah well...

'The Checkout - Episode 4'

'Search For The Most Expensive Water| The Checkout'
Australia's most expensive bottled water (the Aussie dollar is currently worth about the same as a US dollar, and sterling is worth 1.5 AU dollars)

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Un-quotes Of The Week:

General Custer: "So, Sitting Bull - fancy a game of darts?"

Florence Nightingale: "Oh i'm so sorry - i actually wrote that i wanted to go to the cinema"

Samuel Morse: "Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep..."

Word Of The Week: rampire -- synonym of rampart / verb for the construction of a rampart

Expression Of The Week: "pissed as a fart" -- one of many British idioms referring to drunkenness

Etymology Of The Week: bodging -- making the most of tools and resources at hand; not to be confused with "botch" which means gettign something utterly wrong

Quote Of The Week: "Nobody goes to that restaurant any more. It's too crowded" - Yogi Berra

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'Underground Guerrilla Signs..'
Hahaha; these are fantastic. Follow "a link" for more :-D

Did you know that about 1 in 10,000 people are born with their organs flipped around, the other way?
It's a condition called situs inversus (as opposed to situs solitus - the 'normal' way around) and is usually not a problem. In fact, most people who have it won't even notice!

How to pick up girls with your car :-P

This year, thousands of men will die from stubbornness:

Something for the Queeneros - a rare version of Keep Yourself Alive that was laid down on acetate but never recorded properly. It's great quality, though :-)

And something for the Tenniseros - 'Slow motion: Stefan Edberg hits a winner'. I love the slow-motion sounds :-D

Seeing as i found them; have these too:

'HD Highlights: Federer vs Haase'

'Djokovic VS Nadal -- Indian Wells Final 2011 [Highlights HD]'

'Djokovic VS Nadal -- Miami Final 2011 [Highlights HD]'

'Tsonga VS Murray -- Queen's final 2011 [Highlights HD]'

'Nadal VS Djokovic -- US OPEN Final 2011 [Highlights TrueHD]'

'Nadal VS Murray --Tokyo Final 2011 [Highlights]'

'Federer vs Nadal - Indian Wells 2012 (HD Highlights)'

I have to say - there are some sports (Tennis including) for which HD is really great, and others (e.g. football) for which it is pointless.

I've seen some clips on YT that are like a 'spot the ball' competition - impossible!

In contrast, i was looking through some of my old VHS TV-to-tape recordings, from when i was a nipper, recently, and found some clips of football matches. Even in EP (extended play) there was more than enough detail. What an HD waste! Tennis, however - blow it up to full screen, and you're in the game, busting your knees with the best of them :-D

'Lines you wouldn't hear in a Bond movie - Mock the Week'

'Unlikely Things To Read In A Children's Book - Mock The Week'

'Rowan Atkinson - Interview with Elton John'

"It started with a sneeze" - a stage version of a Mr. Bean sketch

A fruity nude beach!

Erotic literature. What do you see, first?

"This guy has very high standards" :-D

'Baby Faces by Landon Meier'

Thursday, 11 April 2013

‘Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change’ – a review

This video was one i ignored, in my weekly rounds, while looking for something worthwhile to watch/read.

The reason? It seemed fanciful. I moved on, and forgot it.

TED's mantra might be "ideas worth spreading" but what conference organiser would host ideas “not worth spreading”?
Their utility is actually purely in awareness, for a movement or idea. The general idea is that someone gets up on stage and says something, and regardless of how true it is, they have a captive audience, and that is what matters to them. Consequently, they’ve had everyone from Ben Goldacre – grand arch-lord of the statistical dominions of epidemiology – to some guy reciting someone else’s poem.

But as i said, i thought the content fanciful, and so i passed over it.

I didn’t count on Facebook, however, where i saw this particular video exhorted with great passion.

“This man will save the world”, it cried!

“Ah – i must take a better look at this – i daren’t dimiss it, casually”, i thought.

And so i spent 40 minutes watching his presentation, and taking mental notes, and then another 80 minutes researching his Institute’s background, to find out more about their activities – the wizard behind the wall of Oz, so to speak. Then i went for dinner, and afterward came back to write this.

And over the next few weeks (in the interests of senescence and belatedness) this is what i’ve recounted...

...and i’ve found numerous problems. As well as further data.

If you like, you can skip the ‘presentation’ bit without too much trouble.

The Presentation Itself


The first error that i noticed (ignoring the graphic of an Earth in flames (line 1)), was when he showed a snapshot of the world’s greenery, or lack thereof, and said it showed change - it did not. The diagram was a photograph, assembled as if to peer through the clouds. How could this possibly demonstrate change, unless taken with an extremely long exposure. But in that case, before and after would be blurred together, anyway.

This is what the picture looked like: See here (line 2)

This is what a picture of change looks like:

Yes – a false colour image – to represent the change.


Soon after, he claims 'everyone's told' that desertification is caused by livestock. I anticipated that he might be about to use the ‘conspiracy theorist’s’ fallacy of “it’s the official line” which is intended to imply great doubt.

But ‘gravity’ is an official line – everyone’s told that gravity exists, too – does that make it doubtful? No. Like the picture of a burning Earth, this is a little red flag, but maybe flagging nothing.

My anticipation was fulfilled when he used a paraphrase of the old Galileo line, which is much favoured by cranks -- "skeptics thought the world was flat... i am Galileo... even though the evidence contradicts... i must be right".

What he said was “we were once just as certain that the world was flat. We were wrong then, and we are wrong again”.

Galileo was right because he followed the evidence. He was contradicted by people – most-significantly bigots in silly hats – who believed themselves to be right in spite of evidence. And millions of people followed them, with similar disregard to evidence, instead on the claims of the clergy’s ‘expert’ status (authority). There are far too many fake ‘experts’ nowadays (and there always have been) but in a scientifically strong age, it would be foolish not to demand evidence for claims.

Current ideas of desertification are based on evidence – this renders the Galileo trope obsolete. I’m not sure whether to hope he picked this up through bad company, or whether it was spontaneous – either way doesn’t make him look good. Again, this is a little red flag, but a bigger one.


At this point, he says removal of people led to land deterioration, but correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. Is he a superstitious pigeon?


Then he says moving elephants was "political dynamite" -- but moving people wasn't!? A curious comment. A result of editing?


He points at pictures of Jornada Research Station (line 3), and says they’re from a climate change report. They don’t seem to be – they’re from here – a site run by more ‘holistic farming’ advocates, and here – and oh look, they quote Savory, this time. So who’s really referencing whom?


He says plants have to decay biologically... as opposed to? He then says that if they don’t decay biologically, then they oxidise... and biological decay doesn’t involve oxidation? I’m seeing bigger red flags here, through my awareness of the term “oxidation” being connected with anti-oxidant related pseudo-science. Oxidation isn’t an intrinsically ‘evil’ process. I hope he’s not appealing to another branch of pseudo-science, here.


He says emission of carbon from above-ground plants is prevented with fires, by preventing the baring of earth. Fire management around the world employs strategic fires to prevent bigger ones, which would result in even more bare earth; but the utility of fires in African grasslands, according to Wiki, at least, is to break down stiff species, to return their trapped carbon to the ground, for other species to utilise, which supports biodiversity and soil quality. It seems carbon is emitted from these fires (as is intuitive) but the rise of other species in their wake causes net gain of carbon to the plant biomass. So it isn’t the baring of earth that is prevented – it is the release of nutrients for other species to use that is enabled, which results in overall carbon retention.


He says there’s "no other alternative left to mankind" than the scheme that he has pioneered, which basically involves... adding cows. And plenty of them. I shall point out that other options not being good ones doesn’t make this one valid, by way of necessary contrast. If we didn’t have any options, that would just be a case of ‘tough shit’.

He presents pictures of end-products as if they were real. Let’s just remember that because thse pictures are offered as predictions, we can’t know whether they will become real. Let's not get carried away.


He claims that we’ve had 10,000 years of "extremely knowledgeable farmers". Well, they knew nothing about climatology. Even methods of crop-rotation were still maturing, in the 16th-18th centuries, CE. Nor did they have foresight of the distant industrialisation that’s caused the climatic change that is, in turn, causing desertification. Extremely knowledgeable farmers, 10,000 years ago? I think not.


He says modern Science "accelerated desertification" – he’s definitely wandering toward 'Naturalistic' pseudo-science now. Science is not the problem – and even if it were -- isn’t modern Science what he’s offering??? This guy claims to be a Biologist, remember.

Slightly later, he shows a picture of woman with a graphic (line 4), instructing separation of animals - this does not show new learning, though – haven’t farmers always done this? Is this the science that has exacerbated desertification, or does science in farming not count?


He announces that he conducts a "holistic management and planned grazing" process through his institute. This is dodgy terminology. "Holistic" is a term usually used in pseudo-science, because it means “all-encompassing”. In practice, however, it’s used to cover bunk that encompasses nothing. Vagueness is often the mounterbanker’s salvation.

It’s such a shame that pseudoscientists have seized terminology that would otherwise be useful. ‘Astrology’, for example, means ‘study of the stars’, so would be a more appropriate term than ‘astronomy’, for Astronomy.


He says his method will "address all of nature's complexity, and our social, environmental, economic complexity". It sounds too good to be true... and all you have to do is add cows!


This point is truly extraordinary! He compares "nearby" areas “on the same day, with the same rainfall” - one all sand, and the other marshy (line 5). Is he seriously claiming that this difference is caused by cows trampling over it!? As you might have detected, credulity is not high in me, at the moment.


At this point, he shows grandchildren with "hope for the future". Let’s hope it’s not a false one.

Zimbabwe – the place Savory is based, and where these pictures were taken, contains tracts of luscious vegetation. Again according to Wiki:” Zimbabwe contains the most fertile farmland on the continent”. What changes are we really seeing, here? Are other places drying while these places wetten, or what?


A Patagonian with a 25000 sheep flock, is described as "really mimicking nature now". HOW'S THAT MIMICKING NATURE!?

The idea of what’s ‘natural’, as is always the case with Naturalism, is blurry and weird. The desertification is natural. Regions getting green again is natural. But what caused it? Credulity: falling further. Cynicism: rising.


He says “95% of land can only feed people from animals”, then delineates a vast area of the world, containing many of the breadbaskets of those regions, that millions of people are dependent upon for food... vegetable food. Overly-simplistic? Yes. Did you know two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is unfit for humans to live on? I know – we’re lucky to be here at all, with all that OCEAN!!


He says "Everything is more productive and we have virtually no fear of dry years"; "And get very great increases in crop yield"; "it is the only hope of saving their families and saving their culture"; "millions of men, women and children are suffering and dying". Emotive stuff. OK if you're right - not if you're selling pseudo-science - that would be exploitation.


The presentation's over, and a TED guy asks him a question: "Where do the cows get food in desert areas?" Savory's answer: "We never have to feed them - one grass in 100 miles feeds all you need - just stick to a "sigmoid curve". LOL - what's that supposed to mean?

It turns out the term ‘sigmoid curve’ is used in emotionalistic pseudo-science in place of the word ‘cycle’, e.g. here. All he means (i think) is that seasons come and seasons go, and all you have to do is time your activities with the seasons... where’s the amazing insight in that???

But never feeding all these introduced animals? Really? Does the soil benefit through their starved carcasses? "One grass in 100 miles"...

Beyond the presentation

As you might have guessed, i’ve really not been impressed by the presentation!

The claims are far too grand, the evidence so lacklustre, and the demonstration of general awareness is lacking too. I suppose the excuse for all of this would be: “I was limited by the medium – by being on stage. I had to play to the audience...”.

So let’s take a look at his web-site and supporters, to get a better idea of what’s going on inside the Savory ‘just add cows’ Institute...

One of his apostles says it's not about the cattle. They're just a tool. It's not about the cattle. Here:

'Addressing Misconceptions About Holistic Management'

But Savory himself keeps saying it *is* the cattle.

They're confused and self-conflicting. This further pushes me toward classifying the movement under 'pseudoscience'. Surely members of the same team can reach agreement?! Science converges belief, Superstition diverges it. Remember – we’re not talking about hypotheses here – he’s not throwing out ideas that might work – he’s saying these *do* work.

This particular supporter has uploaded all kinds of videos to YouTube, for the Savory Institute, including one of Prince Charles' championing. Ah - there's another problem...

'Prince Charles endorsement of Allan Savory'

Prince Chaz has a terrible history for siding with quacks and cranks of all kinds. His endorsement shouldn't be counted as an outright condemnation, like it would be for other people i can think of, but it certainly isn't a good sign.

Surely, if you were a reputable, scientific movement, you would go for someone with a less-embarrassing better reputation? They seem to be deliberately appealing to the Greeny, hippy people who distrust evidence. A TED talk would be the perfect place to spread such ideas – persuasion counts, but facts do not, on stage; and TED has a good reputation for real Science.

On the subject of their various awards, including the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, which they claim enthusiastically, i have no doubts that they won them; but awards are generally not given on the basis of evidence of deservedness - they are given according to how eye-catching someone's movement has been. They are given because someone else already knows about them, and wants to inflate their acclaim. Awards are generally given for “recognition of...” and not for ‘achievement in...’.

For examples, everyone knows Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize (2009) - before doing anything. Fewer know the EU - an entire international inter-governmental organisation - has won it too (2012). And some will also know that a homophobic, bigoted ex-President of Poland got a Nobel Peace Prize, even when the Nobel Peace panel knew of his history at the time (1983).

Many awards around the world are given with a similarly casual, populist attitude. But now try to name last year's winners of the Nobel Physics Prize. It wasn't Peter Higgs. You're probably struggling for either name, or just shrugging your shoulders. Oh, alright, i’ll tell you...

It was Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland, "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". This is who proper awards go to - people you've never heard of; because they get their heads down and work like proverbial dogs.


On the web-site:

The 'What We Do' -> 'Healing The Land' page lists some of their investors. One is 'Level 3 Capital Advisors, LLC' whose web-site seems... businessey. Nothing wrong with that. Technically.

The other one mentioned is 'Armonia, LLC', whose web-site reads:

"Ar-mo-nia: (Italian) Harmony. Armonia uses multiple forms of capital (financial, human, network, intangible) to support systemic shifts towards harmony. Our intention is to catalyze regeneration of soil, soul, and society. We believe in seeding society with values of fundamental interconnection, well-being, and holism. Our work is to support and partner with visionaries who are implementing this viewpoint."

[coughs: “bullshit!”]

This is one of their main financial backers? They seem as stuffed with pseudo-scientific 'holistic' crap as Horniman's walrus is, with taxidermic preservative!

Really, Allan - is this who you associate with?

"Every man is like the company he wont to keep" - Euripides (~2500 years ago)

Let’s hope this, too, is an erroneous indicator of Savory’s claims.

The Savory Institute is listed, on its 'Donate' page as:

"We are a project of Sustainable Settings, a nonprofit focused on harvesting nature’s intelligence to research, demonstrate and design whole systems strategies for sustainable development. Sustainable Settings is our 501(c)(3) fiscal agent."

Taking a cursory read of the Sustainable Settings web-site reveals a similarly Greeny, left-wing, science-free zone, including this paragraph (as an example):

"Though we teach many skills and focus on particular avenues of becoming alert and aware we do not teach specialization here. Specialization is part and parcel of why we, humanity in the 21st century, are in the mess we are in. It was the reductionist’s perspective that has allowed us to think we had power over Nature and that some how gave us the chutzpa to act the way we have, in defiance of nature’s economy. Here at Sustainable Settings we proudly graduate alert, hopefully humble, thrifty, disciplined, patient, and even frugal Certified Generalists."

The word i'm thinking of is definitely "hippy". I'm not sure why... <s>

Getting good at some particular thing (specialisation) has always been the bane of humanity... oh, wait, it hasn't – that’s a ludicrous claim!

{A fiscal agent is just an entity that does a non-profit’s financial administration for them, due to their lack of expertise.}

Don’t think my green, planty backdrop, and my herbaceous PC desktop background (which, i am aware, you can’t see) are erroneous.

I value biodiversity and ‘nature’ (by its real meaning – the world around me) and i certainly want to live ‘in harmony’ with the world around me (the ecosystem of which i am a part) but i have no intention of losing my brain to left-wing, hippy, libertarian, anti-technology nonsense that, far from empowering us to live with nature, actually leaves us subject to all the negative aspects of it that thousands of years of Science has enabled us to overcome. Diseases, for a bloody good example.

We have the rationality of evidence-based reasoning – Science – we should use it. Where is the reasoning behind ‘just add cows’? We need evidence. If Savory has any actual, verifiable evidence of his claims, then he’s doing a bloody good job of hiding it!

I have, however, read this, in which Savory says “Managers of land almost never achieve publication in peer reviewed jourals (sic) concerning range management in particular, because such journals are controlled by, and the International Range Management Society is dominated by, research people lacking both skills and training in management. Such researchers have over many years refused to accept management results as anything but annectdotal (sic), because they cannot replicate management of any financial, social and land management situation on small plots for statistical analysis.”

Ah, right – so there is evidence. At last!!

...and it’s negative evidence. The typical crank excuse is that replications don’t work, because the people doing the replications don’t have the skills necessary to do the same handwavey bullshit that the cranks did. 'Psychics', for example, claim that skeptics can't test them because... they're immune to psychicyness... or something like that.

If you’d told them what you’d done in enough detail, then they would be able to follow you, and get the same result. Blame for the lack of replication must remain at your shoes, Mr. Savory.

Further research reveals more data that contradicts the un-savoury claims of Mr. Savory.

Better Grazing Not a Solution

Now it's clear that the Holistic Management pseudoscience is not new – so why did TED book him? Is this a mistake they are currently rueing? I hope so.

But wait... it gets worse.

Steve Gallizioli interviewed

It seems Savory has been exploiting the conflict between wildlife and livestock advocates for years.

Originally, Savory offered his variously-named ‘management’ schemes to please both the cattle industry and the environmentalists who were worried about farming’s impact on the surrounding environment. What more pleasing claim can you have than “add cows, enhance environment, get more of everything”? Unfortunately, it’s just not true.

This leads on to another problem.

Savory heads an organisation that benefits, financially, through duping other people into thinking that his scheme will "address all of nature's complexity, and our social, environmental, economic complexity" to give them "hope for the future", with “very great increases in crop yield". After all, "it is the only hope of saving their families and saving their culture”.

This means Savory’s talk is potentially not just embarrassing for TED, but might also breach their house rules, too. They don’t say what the rules are for home-based talks, but under their TEDx section (for events to be associated with TED but not run by them) they say:

Content: Speakers must tell a story or argue for an idea. They may not use the TED stage to sell products, promote themselves or businesses. Every talk's content must be original and give credit where appropriate. Speakers cannot plagiarize or impersonate other persons, living or dead.”

Let’s check one of those sentences:

“They may not use the TED stage to sell products, promote themselves or businesses.”

Potential breach? I think so.

And to add further salt into the TED people’s wounds, the very next paragraph reads thusly:

“Speakers must be able to confirm the claims presented in every talk -- TED and TEDx are exceptional stages for showcasing advances in science, and we can only stay that way if the claims presented in our talks can stand up to scrutiny from the scientific community.”

Read that last sentence again... and again, if need be.

Savory’s claims have *not* stood up to scrutiny from the scientific community.

See the Gallizioli link, if you skipped over it.

Never mind, TED. But the greater cost could be to the people that Savory purports to be helping. Wrecking their already-struggling homes with hoards of cows is not going to do them any favours!


I didn't believe this man to be deliberately charlatanistic. Not at first. In fact, not until i found that he has been making counter-evidential claims for many years, did i believe it.

If he really believes the claims that he makes (has become a shut-eye) then Savory must be suffering from the Naturalist Gaia superstition – the idea that everything lives in harmony, as long as you don’t touch it. >99% of species that have ever existed are now extinct – the idea that we can afford to base our actions on Naturalistic, karmic delusion is not one that we can afford.

Like i’ve said – this superstition is not one that the people of desertified areas can afford. People like TED audiences can afford an error – they cannot.

Unfortunately, for us, age does not necessarily mean wisdom. The claims made in his TED video are unevidenced. In fact, because they’ve been tested and found lacking, they’re counter-evidenced.

If the idea of ‘just adding cows’ still appeals, don't enthuse yourself too much - reality, as Ben Goldacre often says "Is a little more complicated than that".

Let's not pretend TED talks are, in practice, the highest grade of empirical evidence, however - they are merely someone talking on a stage - nothing they say is necessarily true.

When Ben Goldacre himself did his two talks, at TED, it was to create awareness – that is what public talks are good for – regardless of whether that awareness is of true content or fictional content! Think public book readings.

What’s gone wrong, here, is that an international forum has been given to someone that should not have been allowed to benefit from it. It is not an environment in which the standards of scientific inquiry can be maintained – people expect to be told stuff when they watch TED presentations. They don't expect to be lied to. But they have been lied to, because the wrong man was given a mic.

There are ways to change climates -- after all, if we can desertify them, then we can undesertify them. But 'just add cows' is too simplistic to work.

Let’s not make it easy for charlatans to trash the world we love.

Stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/4/13

Hi, Reptilian illuminati overlords and overlordesses

Welcome to the 61,826th annual conference, according to the Martian calendar, and sponsored by Monsanto.

Please join me in a prayer to the almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster (all praise Her noodly goodness)

"Licat Volare Si Super Tergum Aquila Volat"

We are indeed blessed, for we have been touched by Her noodly appendage, and freed from greed, poverty, conservatism, droughts, and winters that don't seem to know when to end.

You might have noticed that the 1st of April has been and gone, but you might also have noticed a parodical theme to this week's post... maybe ;-)

The 'of the week's will all be April-fools related too, btw.

Does anyone think it's slightly weird that the word "afro", meaning a big, frizzy hairstyle, derives from "african", and the greek word "aphros" means 'foam' - the reason 'Aphrodite' is thought to mean 'born from foam'?

I'm beginning to wonder whether it's meaningful to say that the ancient Greeks invented afros...

If it goes ahead, the proposed mission for a married couple to fly by Mars, in 2018, will be insulated from cosmic rays with... their own excretory matter!

'Mars trip to use astronaut poo as radiation shield'

"Water has long been suggested as a shielding material for interplanetary space missions. "Water is better than metals for protection," says Marco Durante of the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. That's because nuclei are the things that block cosmic rays, and water molecules, made of three small atoms, contain more nuclei per volume than a metal."

{There's another mission for landing on Mars, to be funded as a Reality TV project - by a Dutch TV program}

I'm torn between considering this 'research paper' unbearably cute, and unbearably enauseating. They should have made the proposition earlier, in time for SADay.

Aww... eurgh... aww... eurgh... aww...

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff


Wife of North Korea's leader defends her hubby:

'Kim Jong-Un's Wife On Nuclear Threats: 'This Isn't The Man I Was Forced To Marry''
"“Since being ordered by my government to spend the rest of my life with this man, I’ve gotten to know him very well, and I can tell you that the Jong-un threatening nuclear war is not the same Jong-un who plucked me out of a parade and demanded I cut ties with my family,” said Ri, adding that she still believes the controlling despot who erased her identity and forbade her from leaving the residential villa is in there somewhere.",31944/

A harrowing expos
é of the depths that some calligraphic symbols will stoop to, in order to catch a reader's eye:

'10 Over-The-Top Letters From The Alphabet',31940/

Former leader of the Cult of England, home to the mentally enfeebled, makes an uncharacteristically bigoted statement, in which he confuses 'being persecuted' with 'not being allowed to persecute others':

'Lord Carey somehow mistaking ‘not getting own way all of the time’ with ‘persecution’'
""Persecuted Christians have spoken in support of Lord Carey, saying there has never been a worse time to be a Christian in the six-thousand year old history of the world."
Lord Carey continued his tirade against the government, telling Mail readers, “Did you know the government is also happy for people to not be Christians – what’s that all about?”
“This country is just one step away from burning Christians at the stake.”
However non-Christian Simon Williams told us, “He’s afraid of being burned at the stake? Ah, I see what he’s done there, he’s mistaken the way Christians used to deal with non-believers, with how a civilised society deals with grown-ups who still play make-believe.”
“I suppose if you’re the sort of person who believes the Bible is literally true, then that sort of mistake is easy to make”."
{Religion's so easy to mock -- but the ridiculous should expect to be ridiculed}

The discovery of water on Mars has revealed a price-tag far lower than with most bottled Earth water:

'Martian water still cheaper than Evian'
"NASA spokesperson Simon Williams explained, “We believed that the water we have potentially discovered in the rocks of Mars would be the most expensive drinking water in the history of mankind. Until someone went to buy lunch at the supermarket.”...“Frankly if you’re willing to pay that much for bottled water on a planet that is 70% covered in water, and where water regularly falls for free from the sky, then you deserve to be mocked.”."
{Bottled water is needlessly expensive, and usually less healthy than municipal (tap) water - what a rip-off!}

These next two didn't even have to be made up. The world of economics is full of ready-made LOLs... well, it is if you know where to look!

'‘Surreal’ tax decision over Brideshead painting'
"A UK court decision to classify a multi-million work of art as ‘plant’ will ‘offend almost anyone with an inkling of common sense’."
The meaning of 'plant' in this context, is as in 'power plant' i.e. a fixed asset such as a building or piece of equipment, integral to the running of a business.
This painting was not owned by a business, nor integral to the running of one - not even an art gallery! Classifying it as 'plant' was merely a ruse to avoid paying Capital Gains Tax.

'Salz review exposes deep flaws in Barclays' culture'
"The Salz review revealed that Barclay’s structured capital markets made over £9.5bn in 11 years."
'Structured capital markets' means 'pushing money around so you don't have to pay taxes on it', to you and me.
"The 244-page Salz review, which took eight months to produce and interviewed 600 bank employees - found Barclays’ bankers had lost a ‘sense of proportion and humility’."
You're having a laugh! I don't believe they ever had a ‘sense of proportion and humility’ to lose... did they?!?

And finally, some 'normal' stuff:

'Cassetteboy Reviews: MASTERCHEF // Bad Teeth'

'The Checkout - Episode 3'

'The First Honest Cable Company'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Just a reminder: All of these 'of the week's are fallacious, in some way. Enjoy...

English Word Of The Week: Realist -- a catalogue of bottoms

Italian Word Of The Week: Beehive -- command to improve attitude

Scottish Word Of The Week: Dragoon -- command to keep pulling

Japanese Word Of The Week: Rift -- an elevator

Yiddish Word Of The Week: Duty -- kosher beverage

French Word Of The Week: Le word {...le starting blocks! [tuts]}, really. French WOTW: Salut -- 'it's a toilet'

Medical Euphemism Of The Week: A shiny -- a coy patella

New Zealand Word Of The Week: Symmetry -- where dead people are buried

Cookery Word Of the Week: Mushroom -- the free space in a mortar

Etymology Of The Week: Polygami - the ancient art of wife-folding -- from 'Poly' (a girl's name) and 'gami' (to fold)

DIY Snack Of The Week: Hammer sandwich

Drink Of The Week: Champoo - champagne with really big bubbles!

Illness Of The Week: Drapetomania

Expression Of The Week: "put a sock in it" -- the instruction manual for the world's smallest tumble-dryer

Quote Of The Week: "The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never know if they are genuine" - Abraham Lincoln

Silly Sports Commentator Quote Of The Week: "One or two harmless missiles have been thrown into the penalty area" (Montenegro v. England, on ITV (this one's real))

Tasty Rodent Of The Week: The BLT Mouse

Fact Of The Week: Jesus' maternal grandmother - St. Anne - had seven heads (at least, that's the number recognised by the Xtian Church)

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'Possibly my favourite photo ever…' - Richard Wiseman

'The never-ending story…' via Richard Wiseman

'Amazing magic clerk' via Richard Wiseman

'Real-Life Spider-Man'
"The Ukrainian daredevil, better known as “Mustang Wanted” enjoys freaking out onlookers."
He's certainly freaking me out!

Oh, shit - loads of empty space! Right, let's put something in it... how about some excerpts from a now-out-of-print book called 'Funny Funny Funny'?

It's one of a few books by Denys Parsons, cataloguing funny (and verified, real) newspaper excerpts, signs, and mis-prints. If you don't find them funny... then i don't know what to say!

Paul Kelly of Lime Avenue, East Grinstead was fined ₤15 at East Grinstead Magistrates Court on Monday for using a colour television without a silencer.
East Grinstead Observer

First check the tyres for cuts and blemishes. Now get down on your knees, move them backwards and forwards, and if there is any appreciable shake, that indicates worn bearings or swivel pins.
Motor Mart

The magistrate, Mr. Harley, said he thought it proper that at times a man should beat his wife, and the Bible supported that statement; but beating must be done as a service of love, not in temper. Accused should have used a reasonably sized stick. It was a pity he had lost his temper and used an iron bar.
Daily Telegraph
{Would be in the Torygraph, wouldn't it!}

Mr. Leonard said PC Groves told the detectives, 'I was repairing her needlework-box and accidentally hit her on the head. Somehow it developed and i put my arms around her neck and strangled her. Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right?'
The Times

WANTED: man to wash dishes and two waitresses.
Notice in Sydney restaurant
{I'll put up with the former, for the latter :o) }

TO LET FURNISHED: self-contained flatlet: ₤30 per calendar month; hot water, lighting, rats inclusive.
Advert in Liverpool Echo

He smiled and let his gaze fall to hers, so that her cheek began to glow. Ecstatically she waited until his mouth slowly neared her own. She knew only one thing: rdoendtrgoveniardgoverdgovnrdgog.
Badische Presse

After my marriage i taught a class of backward children in a county primary school. I feel i have the right kind of training and experience to understand your problems and represent you on the City Council.
From an election address
{Sounds about right. You're hired :-D }

Powerful personality, clear voice and imposing stature made her the perfect Queen of the Fairies.
Aberdeen Evening Express

Gerona. Here is a name and a symbol. A name set in the tentacles of Empire. Of aristocratic craddle. Old and fruitful savour, speaking about daring legions, unfinishing ways, acqueducts, warlike marching and toges. Gerona was promise and reality. Promise because upon it would fall the evangelic seed, the seed of the mustard, not because small less strong in the aborescence and the fruit.
From a Gerona guidebook
{Oh - the wonder of translations}

Mr. and Mrs. John Beverlin are rejoicing over an eight-pound daughter, their sixth child since last Saturday.
Illinois paper

The competitors were in no way upset by the cold north-east wind blowing on the diving board from the four corners of the Earth.
Daily Mail

Cheap sponge roll
Take a teacupful of flour and mix it with a teacupful of caster sugar and a teaspoonful of baking powder; break two eggs into a cup, then slide into the mixture.
Bristol Times and Mirror

After removing the meat from your broiling pan, allow to soak in soapy water.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I once got a circular from a man who grew potatoes containing his photograph and, i think, his autobiography.
Musical Standard

NOTICE Will Gentlemen taking pots of tea on to the college lawns please exercise more care. Their hot bottoms are killing the grass.
University notice

WANTED – a steady young woman to wash, iron and milk two cows.
New Zealand paper

In addition to the fine work done by the Irish regiments he assured them that many a warm Irish heart beat under a Scottish kilt.
Irish paper

Violence – Judge hits out
Nottingham Evening Post

Funerals. Parking for clients only
Notice at Surrey undertakers