Sunday, 26 April 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/4/15

Hubble bubble toil and trubble,

Sad news, Darklings. Emily Dolan Davies has left the building :'(

But good news, Darklings, because Rufus Taylor has apparently entered the building!

[Unnamed Facebook link]

Wowzers :-D

Published in March, and recorded some time before then, here's an intro to the new man above, behind, and below the Darkness' sticks:

'The Official Queen Podcast - Episode 5 - Rufus Taylor Interview'

{It was Felix - Roger's other son - who inspired the song 'Radio Ga Ga' when he said "Radio Ca Ca" as a kid, which is french (via latin) for 'crap' :-D }

'The Darkness Share Their Secrets for Rock God Grooming'

'Spirit "Science" and the Galaxy of Lies'

This is the third in Cool Hard Logic's Spirit Science series, so there are some references that you might not 'get' unless you've watched these first:

'Spirit "Science"'

As one of CHL's graphics says:

"Obscene incompetence, or charlatan?"

It's difficult to tell, isn't it.

Or maybe they're a charlatan because they're obscenely incompetent - so incompetent, that they haven't realised that they're a charlatan, and not a genuine 'legitimate' businessperson.

This week, a banner item on the front page of The Times (a 'respected' UK newspaper), drew my attention to someone else who seems too intellectually diarrhetic to realise how moronic they're being.

The offending entreatment to abuse said this:

"Can fasting really beat chemo?"

To which the obvious answer is...

"No, no, of course it can't. Before chemo- and radio- therapy, people had 0% chance of surviving cancer. If fasting were a cure, then some 19th century quack would have morphed into a real doctor the moment they realised it worked"

But the author's conclusion is this:

"Fasting... may be the panacea that western medicine forgot" and "fasting is as effective as chemotherapy in treating cancer"

How? Wha, what? Heh, huh?

Like Jordan Pearce, Jenni Russell doesn't seem to understand, nor care, whether her claims are true, and plies all the same devious techniques of journalists charlatans to bring attention to the lies, and bury the truths.

If you read her article, you'll see that she draws a huge amount of attention to her claim that fasting is therapeutic, and how horrible chemotherapy is... which are classic quackery-mongering tactics, that 'just so happen' to overlap with contemporary journalistic techniques.

She then goes on to invoke irrelevant research in mice, that showed that periodically starved mice (she claims) have "improved" immune systems.*

*Valter Longo was the empictured researcher, whose research has shown that fasting works in mice, by stressing the tumours harder than the whole mouse (tumours are hungrier cells, so this makes sense) but he doesn't seem to have got far in the last 4 years, to showing that this can work in bigger animals, like humans, where tumours have a lot more body to source nutrients from, at the host's expense. It's plausible that his research might be replicable in mice (i'm not aware that it has), but it's a whole different ball game in humans. No study has shown that it might. His own publication is just 'case note' which basically means medical anecdote - they are nowhere near enough to warrant belief. P.S. He's a quack too - he owns an I-SCAM (supplements) company.

Well, here's another, very recent story, using mice, where it was found that plucking their hair out could be 'the panacea that western medicine forgot' for baldness. It isn't. The researchers explained that mouse hair follicles work differently to humans' and so no amount of plucking is going to help.

Something being true in mice does not necessarily mean it works in humans. That's why she calls for "major trials" in the last paragraph where she knows that most people don't read to.

It's a known phenomenon, in journalism psychology, that people's attention trails off pretty damn quickly - that's why there's a fourth paragraph rule, and why the research in mice wasn't mentioned by her until the fifth paragraph.

She does, however, manage to slag off the NHS in both the first and third paragraphs, before people's attentions have wavered, for trying to make her better with, y'know, medicine - that stuff that's actually been shown to actually work, at actually making people better, when they have any of many things, including cancer!

On top of this, she employs three more devious tactics:

One: the bait-and-switch. She claims that fasting has been shown to help people with diabetes. Well, no shit Sherlock, as one of the major causes of diabetes mellitus type 2 is obesity, you'd expect fasting to help. But cancer is not caused by obesity. Where's the established mechanism there? Oh, she doesn't bother to establish one. Of course. P.S. fasting might also help with epilepsy.

Two: the narrative presented as knowledge. This is where she claims a baseless explanation (paragraph 10) for how fasting aids the fight against cancer, using knowledge she simply doesn't have. She isn't even quoting.

Three: the conspiracy theorist bent. She claims that fasting only hasn't been shown to work, because "drugs companies" would lose their most profitable markets, if it did. But Jenni, quacks have been selling diet-manipulation for centuries: they've done bugger all to prove that any of their 'diets' can cure anything; and they're massively profitable businesses! Plus, there are plenty of non-profit charitable research bodies (many funded by Cancer Research UK) that would love to do this research. And CRUK has a track record for contradicting industry when the industry contradicts medical intent. "Because we are charity and not constrained by making profits for shareholders, we are also free to support research and clinical trials testing promising drugs that might not be expected to make money for a pharma company. This includes drugs that cannot be patented, or are old enough to be outside of patent."

But in fact, dodgy diets for cancer are not exactly new...

'Questionable Cancer Therapies'

- Hulda Clark claimed that a diet stripped down to black walnut hulls, wormwood, and common cloves, would cure all cancer. She later died of cancer.

- A tea made of burdock, Indian rhubarb, sorrel, and slippery elm, has been purported as a cancer cure. Note that Russell says the product she fell back on while unwilling to eat (fasting, compelled by her own body) was tea: black, green, or mint.

- The Gerson diet involves dietetic violence permitting only a gallon a day of juices made from fruits, vegetables, and raw calf's liver. Unsurprisingly, it has never been shown to help anyone, either.

- Virginia Livingston claimed that a "detoxification" diet with enemas, digestive enzymes; a vegetarian diet that avoided chicken, eggs, and sugar; vitamin and mineral supplements, visualization, and stress reduction, would cure people of cancer. It didn't.

- Tullio Simoncini thinks that cancer is a fungus, and so the only apt treatment is injection of baking soda, which isn't even a treatment for fungal infection. He's been prosecuted for homicide. Guess what for.

There is a diet known as a 'ketogenic' diet, which is so extreme in starving the body, that it causes the conversion of body fats into ketones, in lieu of sugars. Hence the name. If it's ever safely used (not in oncology), it's by medical professionals, in rigorously-controlled settings, inside hospitals, where nurses can keep tabs on the patients.

This is the closest you can get to Russell's claimed starvatory "panacea" and... it doesn't work.

'Ketogenic diet does not “beat chemo for almost all cancers”'

So there you go. If she'd just bothered to become au fait with the subject, she might have found that her article was in fact not brave, incisive, patriarchy-toppling investigation, sticking it to the man, and showing the world that girls can do it for themselves by just not doing anything.

It was, in fact, dangerously deranged health advice, that a national newspaper should feel guilty about permitting to go to press!

And Russell, herself, has made herself into yet another lunatic quackery-monger who insists that starvation saved her life, despite all of the medicine she's been on!!

It's very easy to scoff when you're in the clear; but it's apparently very difficult to work out what actually saved your life, when your brain is funded only by weak tea.#

Examples like these are why cynical people say that every gene pool needs a little chlorine :-/

And no, 'The Times' none of this is excused by your putting the word 'opinion' at the top left corner of the page. "Fasting transformed me after medicine failed" is not an 'opinion' - it's a lie. "I don't like medicine or the NHS" is an opinion. Learn how language works and stick to it, perhaps?

# I always presume incompetence over malevolence, because it's far more abundant, but she might have made it up for attention. There are precedents to this possibility.

Stepping gently away from the horrendous pseudoscience of Ms Russell and The Times, let's try to reinvigorate ourselves with some non-false hope...

The reason mice are so widely used as participants in medical studies, is not necessarily because they're practically identical to humans, but because they are small, and breed quickly, and (when we're thinking of the white ones) are pretty much all the same, which makes the studies hugely more scientifically redoubtable, and therefore more useful in understanding medical conditions and how to resolve them.

This means that we must always remember that a treatment that works in them (like the hair-plucking thing) might not work in humans; but there are enough similarities that it is usually worth a try. The large majority of modern-day medicines, available to mammalian species, could not be so assuredly used, or maybe used at all, if it weren't for those mice being involved.

So let's take a look at a couple of mouse-based research that is substantially more promising than the maybe-if-supposedly-as-long-as-perhaps-when-we-conceivably-actually-do-a-study-in-humans-perchance stuff from Longo et al...

'Radioactive bacteria nuke pancreatic cancer in mice'

I love this one, because it makes so many people think "ewww" on multiple counts. Radioactivity and bacteria both make people think 'nasty' rather than 'saviour' but it's genuinely plausible that bacteria can be used to hunt down tumours, then desposit radioactive nuclides in/near them, and thereby kill them. I can't think of a cause for this not working in other species too, so it would be broadly applicable if found to work well.

'Engineered virus thwarts ovarian cancer in mice'

This one's an idea i like even more. Maybe because it's a 'smart' idea. The life-cycle (if i may call it that) of viruses depends on the penetration of cells, to hijack their protein-making machinery for self-reproduction. If viruses can be made that target tumours, maybe by looking only for the fattest, most turgid, nutrient-rich cells, then they can be used to go straight for every tumour cell in the body and wipe them out. Afterwards, it might be useful to have a pre-designed vaccine, to mop up remaining viral particles. Given that the virus was designed, in the first place, it should (could) be relatively easy to design an irrevocable flaw, rendering the viruses easy to dispose of, post-use.

The trouble with oncolytic viruses, as they are called, is that the immune system tends to get to work on them before they've had a chance to get stuck into the cancer cells. This makes sense, though, as tumours are our own cells gone cancerous, and our immune system is evolved to protect our cells from viral attack.

So there we go - two good ideas for anti-cancer treatments that show genuine promise. Unfortunately, they're also going to involve fiscal expense, but since when have cheaper options always been better? The importance of medicine is to preserve health - not money.


It's Hubble's 25th anniversary year! 'Window on the Universe - Hubble Anniversary Tribute':

The 21st April marked the 81st anniversary of the publication of the Loch Ness Monster hoax photo, which was taken by Marmaduke Wetherell, and submitted to the Daily Fail under the name 'Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson'. It wasn't until 1975 that another Paper claimed the credit for debunking it, LOL. And how many are still entertaining the modern myth? Pretty much all of them :-D

The 50th anniversary of Moore's Law, which describes the exponential increase in transistor density in computing, over the last half century. Moore himself originally predicted that computer chips would double in complexity every year, at negligible increase in cost, for the next decade. By the end of it, the Law had been updated to a doubling every two years, and that trend has been maintained since. Of course, the constraints of nuclear physics mean it can't possible continue forever. This might be the last anniversary of Moore's Law, while it's still relevant.

The 23rd of April marks 15 years, one month and 13 days, since the NASDAQ stock exchange last set a record high for monetary throughput. It hits its previous high on the previous mark set on the 10th of March, 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom, which was an economic bubble funded by investors gambling on the fantastical potentials of companies that turned out to be paper tigers with no economic future. All of that invested money, therefore, turned out to have gone down an investment drain, and as demand for stock in those useless companies collapsed, so did the stock prices.

The 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl Power Plant disaster. I've put bionerd23's video, looking around inside the site itself, in 'contemporary stuff'...

And also, the 100th anniversary of the dawn of chemical warfare. I've put links to videos on that in
'contemporary stuff' too...

In other news:

A municipality in Switzerland has banned people from taking pictures with St. Bernard dogs, as far too many are being abused as a result. "The St Bernards were tied up extensively, were not taken for walks and often went without food and water for long periods, said the report, which singled out a photo agency as the worst offender. The report maintained the animals were kept in cruel conditions that violated Swiss laws for animal protection". It makes a silly-looking headline, but it makes sense.

Biologists have finally identified a pocket shark - Mollisquama sp. - that was kept frozen in a collection for five years, waiting for someone to get around to cataloguing it. Archivists are few, and the items are many - that's why they hang around for ages, waiting to be identified. At just 14 centimetres long, it's a tiny little (juvenile) shark, made peculiar by the pockets located behind its pectoral fins. The only other example found was a 43 centimetre long female, which was apparently an adult. Females are expected to be bigger than the males, but with only two ever identified, it's really difficult to say!

The Maglev (magnetic levitation) train has set a new world record for train speed, at 603 km/h. The six-carriage train managed 600 km/h or more for nearly 11 secs (therefore covering almost 2 km in that time) according to Central Japan Railway. The manufacturers are intending to sell maglev trains to networks around Japan, and potentially the rest of the world, where journey times could be cut to less than half their current lengths. Meanwhile, government after government in the Old World refuses to bear the brunt of the expense of updating track. I think that's the real cause for maglevs not to become as popular as they could be - States either don't have the funds, or don't want to spend them.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Nanjing, and is now preparing for its longest leg: a five-day-and-night 8500 km flight to Hawaii, again powered only by sunlight. In comparison, the last leg, from Chongqing, was only 1190 km long, and took just 17 hours.

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

'Second Battle of Ypres - The Dawn of Chemical Warfare'

'Chlorine and War - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Gallipoli Landings - Anzac Day'

'Inside Chernobyl чаес 2015 - 29th anniversary of the Чернобыль disaster'

'the highly radioactive Chernobyl graphite crane claw and hot particles'
Out damn speck, out i say!

'What is Colour Blindness? - A Week in Science'

'Snack Break : Belvita | The Checkout'

'Signs of the Time : Discounts | The Checkout'

'Source of Confusion : Low Fat Yoghurt | The Checkout'

'Thicker Than Water | The Checkout'

'Who Do They Think They Are? | The Checkout'

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 3'

'Newton's Telescope and Hubble - Objectivity #16'

'Giving Blood' - charlieissocoollike

'Star Wars Vs Feminism: 'The Stupidity Awakens''
Poe's Law, LOL. The crazier something is, the more difficult it is to tell the real thing from a parody :-D

'Batman v Jesus: The ReNailing - Official Teaser Trailer [HD]'

'Bucharest 2015 Monday Hot Shot Copil'*/Tennis/Media/Videos/Uploaded/2015/4/23/Bucharest-2015-Monday-Hot-Shot-Copil.aspx

'Double DOUBLE rainbow!!! Whoa... it’s real'

'A sky view of Earth from Suomi NPP'

'The Darkness - Open Fire (Official Video)'

'10 amazing bets you will always win! NEW! (Ep 13)'

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

Word Of The Week: balter -- to dance without care or grace, but with enthusiasm

Quote Of The Week: “Where there is evidence, no one speaks of faith. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four, or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.” - Bertrand Russell

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

'The Funniest Table Tennis Match in HISTORY'