Sunday, 26 June 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 20-26/6/16

Hi snifters,

Well, another week, another torrent of cretinous nationalistic bullshit on TV, and another nail in the coffins of various people's careers. Especially UK scientists.

I'm very slightly surprised by the British nationalists' isolationist campaign successfully getting the UK ditched from the EU, but i'm a lot more disappointed. The kind of disappointment i feel is a kind of pastoral one - the kind a parent/teacher feels, when their kids do badly at something.

"Now then kids. I'm very disappointed in you. Look, i know you think you're clever. I know you think you're being brave and forthright. I know you think you're carving 'your own path' and jabbing one in the eye of the grown-ups. And that's fair enough. But your display in the last exam was appalling. I'm appalled. I'm appalled and disappointed. Disappointed and appalled. Plaster of Paris is not what the Eiffel Tower's made of. The Philistines were not islands in the Pacific. And the victims of The Plague did not grow boobs on their necks!
I know, i know, i know - there are boys in the other classes - and girls too - who tell you silly stories. I know the one about the appendix being the part of a book that doesn't have any use. Stop laughing. STOP laughing! You've got to understand that these answers are not 'your' answers - they're wrong answers. They are wrong. You have all deliberately flunked a big chance to prove yourselves, and to build your futures, this week. I could excuse what you've done as adolescent myopia, but goddamnit you should know better by now.
You're not young. The little kids look up to you. You're seniors. What are they going to think of you, making these stupid, self-defeating decisions? Do you think they should copy you? Do you think they should throw their opportunities away, like you have? You only get one chance in a lifetime to do A Levels, and you've blown it.
Now, as it happens, i might be able to persuade the Headmaster - the new one that is, as the old one resigned in disgrace - because of you! I might be able to persuade the new Headmaster to let you all try again. And i want you to remember: your grandparents fought wars so that you could be free. Don't throw their efforts back in their faces, by pretending the school is your enemy. I hope you'll remember this, and i want you to think about it. Class dismissed"

In this case, there was just one question. And millions of people, who genuinely think they 'won' have actually lost. They've thrown away thousands of words [boo! hiss!] of legislation specifically written to protect them from dodgy businesses, and thrown themselves further into the clutches of the British nationalist movement, which is funded and run by the owners of dodgy businesses.

For a brilliant example, Tim 'Wetherspoons' Martin - a funder of UKIP, and the funder of the Vote Leave campaign. Full-length, HD, professional camera-crewed paranoid conspiracy theorist pseudo-documentaries and all, the Vote Leave campaign has been a massive industrialised machine, funded to the hilt by Martin et al. Older people have simply heard the bullshit for decades longer, through the newspapers.

Tim Martin is a man who has made his career in the liver disease industry - the alcohol industry. In the same period that liver disease has fallen in the EEC/EU, it has increased 6-fold in the UK. Now, why do you think that a man who profits from something that the EU has legislated restrictions against, would want people to vote against EU legislation?

People like him have cynically and avariciously conned millions of British people into nationalist isolationism, just so that the EU finds it harder to stop him from killing people.

As i said 3 weeks ago: "This is the same Tim 'Wetherspoons' Martin who thinks that selling alcohol in motorway service stations is a good idea"

I shall repeat myself again: millions of people, who genuinely think they 'won' have actually lost. Who benefits from liver disease? Who wants it? Only private medical companies, and the alcohol industry. No-one in the NHS wants to see it. No-one who drinks alcohol wants to see it. It's not a democratic Right. It's not a Human Right.

The EU has built itself on and around the application of Human Rights legislation. The British nationalists want to scrap Human Rights. Cammers himself - the one who promised the referendum, if he couldn't get myopic nationalist concessions without leaving - approved the revocation of Human Rights, to be replaced with a 'Bill of Rights'. What the hell for? Just to remove the word 'human' from it? Or to remove the emphasis on human beings??

And what has the rhetoric of the British nationalist isolationism movement been? The rhetoric they've used to con people: "Geev us arr freedum!!" and "we need to take back control"

The latter sounds brilliant, but is profoundly dumb. It only takes seconds to realise that handing a wodge of power back to the same old scumbags who shaft us from Parliament 365 days per year, is not 'taking back control' in any way whatsoever.

The 'take back control' chanters are like passengers in an aeroplane, who feel worried because they're not driving it.* They rush into the cockpit, punch the pilots out, grab the steering column, and then think "does anybody know how to fly this thing?" [plane dives for the ground and everyone dies]

But at least they were in control. In control of a vehicle they didn't know how to control.

{*This is a genuine analogy - you're more likely to die, getting in a car, but you feel safer. This is why people worry about plane flights - it's nothing to do with genuine risk}

Nationalists might feel like they have more control, under an English Parliament, than under an English Parliament + EU Parliament, but it's all an illusion. They're no freer from bureaucracy - British laws are written by the Civil Service, who are unelected bureaucrats; and they have no more democratic influence - no-one can vote for any more than one member of a Parliament of hundreds, which can be controlled by a Party that didn't even win a majority of votes. And that Party itself is controlled by a tiny minority of its own members.

The idea that nationalists are standing up for little people, by defending democracy and 'sovereignty', the latter of which is pure word salad by the way, is complete bollocks. Nationalists don't care about people - that's what makes them nationalists, and not socialists.

- Socialists are people who think that people are more important than anything else.

- Nationalists are people who think that arbitrary lines on maps are more important than people.

This is why 'patriots' who care so much for 'their' nations, command others to kill/die for their country, and not for their people. If they were to admit that it were about defending people, then potential recruits would err agianst joining the bloodshed.

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons"
- Bertrand Russell

"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson

I was actually told by someone, the day after the referendum, that they 'voted leave' because their father died in WWII. At the time, as far as i got was to ask whether he would have fought the French too. What i didn't get as far as, was pointing out that the war was started by nationalists - Nationalsozialismus - Nazis.

He died as part of an effort to stop nationalism. A nationalism reinforced by 'arbeit macht frei' pseudo-socialism*. So why should you be the one to throw that back in his face?

Millions of people, who genuinely think they 'won' have actually lost.

"The trouble with democracy, is that every silly bastard gets a vote" - Arnold Rimmer

*How anyone thinks genocide is 'social' beats me. But then, some people think the way to end sexism and racism is to call for a sexist, racist genocide. Some people really are that thought-averse.

Here's a little sunshine, after all the Brexit bitterness. And i still think that term sounds like a breakfast cereal. "Start your day the patriot way. Eat Brexit" :-D

'12 sun safety myths debunked'

So now you can ignore the marketing pseudoscience, and do what's really best for you. Or just blame the EU for sunshine, and take back your 'dermic sovereignty' :-P

In other news:

In sympathy with the British nationalists, Russian nationalists have taken the opportunity to make life in their country yet worse still. Through dominant Party 'United Russia', Irina Yarovaya has passed a bill doubling the number of crimes that Russians as young as 14 years old can be prosecuted for, forcing telecommunications companies to store datalogs for months, and introducing prison sentences for failure to report 'grave crimes'. And what's their excuse? Of course: "fighting terrorism". The fact that they are the ones who're inducing terror into the Russian people for diplomatic gain, is presumably something they're hoping most of them don't notice. The macabre irony of nationalism, is that the perpetrators of it are the terrorists they think they're fighting to stop.

USAians can celebrate their continued protection under 'net neutrality' law, as an appeals court has upheld the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules. Net neutrality means providers are not allowed to restrict access to content, by pricing. In contrast, the UK, which has no net neutrality law of its own, is now facing economic strangulation, as an increasing number of businesses and individuals depend on a neutral internet for their work. The EU fixed net neutrality long before the USA did, and the UK was previously covered by that legislation. If the isolation of the UK does go through, all of that legislation will have to be copied out... that is, if the pollies think it's a good idea.

Lawmakers in Germany have responded to announcement by fossil fuel companies to ram ahead with fracking, by passing legislation that bans it. The Greens have criticised the legislation for being too lax, as it doesn't cover other methods of extracting fossil and fossil gas - only the fracking method. But surely some legislation's better than nothing, when it's on the right track. Fracking in the USA has helped export the country's emissions to the rest of the world, where American coal has been imported to. One of those countries is Germany, thanks to the same Greens who got nuclear power rejected. [grits teeth again]

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has announced new rules, compelling search engine websites to vet the sponsored search results (adverts) of companies, before allowing them to go public. This has been prompted by the death of a man who wrote a public letter about his abuse by a Beijing-based company, whom he'd found through a sponsored search result on Baidu - a sinese cross between Facebook and Google. They promised effective cancer treatment, and he found it lacking. If he'd received proper medical treatment, he might still be alive today. Baidu has been accused of taking money to promote 'less proven' treatments, with good reason. This kind of fraud threatens people all over the world.

Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) has set a new world record, with an electric car that can accelerate from 0-100 km/h (just over 60 mph) in 1.513 seconds, beating a University of Stuttgart team's 1.779 seconds. In comparison, the Porsche 918 Spyder holds the production car record, at a comparatively-lethargic 2.2 seconds. Even F1 cars struggle to get to 100 km/h in less than 2 seconds!

A pair of screwworm sexologists have been posthumously awarded a 'golden goose' award for committing to research that was thought to be "silly, odd or obscure" while conducted, but turned out to be genuinely useful. They were mocked for putting so much (largely self-funded) effort into studying the sex life of the screwworm (also known as the blowfly) species, from the 1930s-50s; but their efforts returned a method to render male screwworms infertile. Reintroducing these males to the wild, they would attempt to breed with females, but fail to produce another generation. Screwworm larvae burrow into the flesh of wounded animals, and can kill a cow in 2 weeks, so their eradication, or at least control, has saved the industry billions of dollars. Today, researchers get mocked for studying snails, and all kinds of things. Any one of them could achieve the same, from their method of 'pure science' research, unblinkered by narrow industry funding restrictions.

It's well known that mammals survived the asteroid impact, and resultant climatic devastation, that sent all of the non-avian dinosaurs extinct, allowing them to flourish in the aftermath, and diversify into the species that we can see around us, today. But what's less well known, is how close other vertebrates came to extinction. According to this study, more than 90% of mammalian species also went extinct, disappearing from fossil records across the K-Pg boundary, produced by the asteroid impact in Chicxulub. More limited prior studies had underestimated mammalian extinction rates, according to the researchers, and so also underestimated the diversification of mammals into their habitats, in the 300,000 years after the extinction event. So mammals are actually highly susceptible to climatic change, but it's their ability to adapt that helps them to recover. According to the fossil record, anything larger than a cat went extinct, as there simply wasn't enough food for larger animals. Nudge nudge, humans :-P

According to this agricultural research, crops are not keeping up with climatic change fast enough, as the lengths of their generations do not permit fast enough changes to keep up. But this study doesn't seem willing to go beyond the 'conventional' technique of genetic modification by artifical selection (breeding/husbandry) which can easily be trumped by genetics research, and genetic engineering. So it seems to be a choice of: genetic engineering, or a future of low farm productivity, and starving people.

There've been a handful of old canards in the gutter press, this week: the Torygraph, Fail and Metoo all claimed that cranberries can prevent STIs. Well, they would, as the press release was funded by Ocean Spray, who specialise in cranberry juice. Superfoods are a well-documented fraudulent racket. The Mirror, Beeb, Fail, and Old Times have been passing around the idea that ginger, acupressure, acupuncture, and "drugs" beat morning sickness, even though there's no convincing evidence that any apart from "drugs" actually do anything*. The Fail went out on its own in continuing the superfood quackery bandwagon, by adding another article to its cancer-obsessed series. According to their psychotic reportage, broccoli cures heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer. It doesn't. Eat a healthy balanced diet and get plenty of exercise, is the best advice you can get. According to the Mirror and the Torygraph, the way to eat breakfast is 'like a king'. But again, they would, given that the study was funded by Nestle - a company famous for its breakfast cereals.

{*A common problem with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (or 'morning sickness' as it's erroneously and colloquially known) is that the nausea discourages people from eating. The resultant hunger makes them more nauseous, further discouraging them from eating. So people can con themselves into thinking ginger 'supplements' work, just because it means eating small amounts, thereby partially relieving their hunger, and the portion of their nausea that came from the hunger itself. Are you following me? LOL. The claims stemmed (no pun intended) from new guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Medical organisations that deal with women a lot are notorious for pandering to their superstitious beliefs, so i have no qualms in pooh-poohing their suggestions that acupressure and acupuncture fraud be imployed. Quackupuncture is an active threat, as it involves breaking the skin, risking infection.

Solar Impulse 2 left New York on Monday, heading across the Atlantic to Sevilla, with a predicted journey time of 90 hours - three quarters of the longest leg between Japan and Hawaii. But in fact, they did it in just 70 hours, landing at 7:40am, local time.

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

Word Of The Week: snifter -- a glass with a wide bass and narrowed top, designed for spirits like brandy and whisky, so that the scent evaporates a lot from the shallow pool in the bottom of the glass, but is trapped by the thin top; hence the name 'snifter' as the shape helps trap the scent for sniffing. Many snifters are designed so that the right quantity of drink will exactly reach the rim without spilling, when the glass is set on its side, as demonstrated here

Quote Of The Week: "I'll try anything once, except incest and folk dancing" - Christopher Hitchens

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

'Fake Platinum Electrode - NurdRage gets ripped off... again'

'Looking at Mercury Vapour - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Black Dwarf Stars: Corpses of Creation'

'Image: Hubble sees new dark spot on Neptune'

'Image: 'Floating Piers' on Lake Iseo from the Sentinel-2A satellite'
It's a GIF, so you might have to click on the image

'eRally Zoe | Fully Charged'

'Bim Bim Bim'

'Surprise Store {The Kloons}'

'The Chaser's Election Desk (2016) Episode 3'

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/6/16

Hi anurids,

I was strolling on the internet one day...

Did you notice that capital letter slip away? I have to say that i didn't. But i can think of an i that should follow it :-P

'Is it Internet or internet? Debate rages on downshift'

This debate on an esoteric aspect of linguistics RAGES!!! It does because they say it does. LOL

'At E3, game makers introduce more diverse heroes'

No mention of diverse baddies, however. They're still all pasty pale men with English accents. Cue scathing refutation, LOL. Well, they are at least all bald :-P

But what's the point of 'diverse heroes'? I mean, unless you're the kind of person who thinks that fiction is all propaganda, then why would you care?

Casting certain people in a complimentary/derogatory light doesn't change people's prejudices about populations - they just regard the particular characters they're witnessing as exceptions.

People will generally find a way to excuse enjoyment of fiction, to preserve their prejudices. For example: even though the film Finding Nemo cast fish-keeping in a negative light, sales of clownfish (the kind Nemo is) soared after the success of the film.

{Aside: there is an obvious necessity for more of your human action heroes to be played by extinct flying reptiles. Especially really cute, colourful ones, like me. Not necessarily me but, y'know, someone like me. For example, me. GIVE ME ALL YOUR FAME AND GLORY!!!}

There really is no valid apologetic for forced diversity, that doesn't come from a demented ideologically-psychotic fictionalist standpoint. A standpoint exhibited by the kind of person that insists that all they have is chains, that Laci Green's a rapist, and that #KillAllWhiteMen is not genocidal hate speech.

From a writer's standpoint, there are two key things to keep in mind: write about what you know (or it'll be shit) and write something interesting (or it'll be shit i.e. no-one'll care)

These conflicting elements force writers to reach toward, and beyond, the edges of their knowledge. It means they have a motive to write on the basis of their prejudices.

From a reader/viewer's standpoint, we want to see something that we know (so it's familiar) and something interesting (so it's fun) so appealing to our prejudices works just as well as appealing to our knowledge.

And so a heck of a lot of fictive writing is actually established on utter bullshit!

Historically, the only genuine problem with 'diversity' in fiction, is producers/publishers refusing to acknowledge markets that are extant, but untapped.

People who live in slums will write stories about rising from the slums, and doing 'great' things despite their background. And people who recognise the slums/plot will find what they write interesting. There's no moral obligation on anyone to write it, but there is a market for it.

If producers/publishers only accept novels/screenplays from people who grew up in Chorleywood, then the only option for anyone, is to see stuff about growing up (and out of) Chorleywood.

Novels and screenplays about niche circumstances tend to be niche products, that end up being called 'cult classics' for example the film 'Bladerunner'.

If you want to write a 'pop classic' then it has to appeal to more people, which inevitably means it has to be more bland, to avoid putting people off. So how do you keep the characters interesting?

Well, you make the characters into caricatured stereotypes, of course. Stereotypes are all extensions of small numbers of much larger populations. Everyone thinks they already know the character a bit (appealing to familiarity) but this particular stereotyped character is not yet known. You initially present them as a stereotype, but you can then build them up with idiosyncracies.

A proportion of women really do stand on chairs whenever they see a mouse, a proportion of gay men float around the room like a fairy, a proportion of Mexicans eat vast quantities of beans, etc etc etc. Make your characters exhibit 'tired old stereotypes' and they will be a hit, because only the tiny minority of professionally-offended people are so egomanic that they assume that they are the subject of the writer's prejudices.

And so E3 proudly boasts a Mulatto war-veteran in New Orleans, a Black soccer player from England, a female Indian-American astronaut, and a Black hip-hop obsessed vigilante from Oakland.

If you're not from any of those places, you'll be thinking "oh, how exotic, how quaint", and if you are from any of those places, you'll be thinking "yup, met them before".

The key to 'successful' (popular) writing is to get the balance of familiarity and novelty right, while remembering the market you're appealing to.

But as a consumer, and especially as an industry critic, don't be fooled by the we-love-diversity routine - they're just trying to tap into more markets, to get more money out of people.

Case in point: nude underwear. They only care about your happiness, if it's a means to make them richer.


In celebration of the 134th anniversary of the last time the UK went entirely without coal-powered energy, both the UK and Spain let this number go to their heads. The UK had a few nights, in which hours were spent completely coalless; and Portugal spent 4 days entirely Renewables-based, and that's without complete infrastructure!

In celebration of the 200-millionth anniversary of the last time the British archipelago invented an icthyosaur, an honorary professor at the University of Manchester has identified a new species of icthyosaur from a specimen that was discovered 65 years ago.

In celebration of the 470 millionth anniversary of its arrival on Earth, a chondrite has been dug up from a quarry in Sweden, and identified as being rich in elements such as iridium, which makes it very rare for an Earth rock. It could play a part in distinguishing asteroids from the early Solar System from those that whizz around today.

In other news:

Microsoft's decided to make it easier for insular ideologues to create online echo chambers for their bigotry. Don't want any men, or Blacks, or Russians around? Make a group just for you. Or of course, you can find a group that requires members to be all of those things, and then troll the everliving fuck out of them. Your choice :-P

Here's the Daily Fail Of The Week. There were others, but i've chosen this one for its stand-out stupidity. And through an ulterior motive, which i will get onto later. According to the Daily Fail "Vaping is a gateway to smoking" based on a study of 300 17-year-old adolescents from California, who had vaped before, but never sucked tobacco smoke before. Now, you might have already spotted a problem with this. Yes, that's right: they deliberately selected people at the height of the 'experimental' phase of life, who have tried vaping, but not smoking. The methodology has been constructed to fail. For example, it is not possible for the study to find that smoking leads to vaping, because they deliberately selected vapers to begin with! It's like selecting housewives who've tried white wine, but not red, and then going back to them later and concluding that white wine is a 'gateway' to red wine. Bollocks! But it's not just the Daily Fail that cocked up - why was the study designed the way it was, in the first place? It was survey-based, and apparently designed to find the unfindable. They had data on teens who'd smoked tobacco but not vaped, but they deliberately rejected them from their study. I'd like to see their excuses for that. You can read the fully study yourself (it's open access) but all the researchers do is say "other studies found what we wanted to conclude, so we must have done it right". That's not good enough.

You might have had the misfortune of hearing feminists moan about women not being experimented on by evil scientists as much as men are, but there's actually a good reason for it. Historically, women have been avoided as test subjects for many drugs, in order to avoid complications from the menstrual cycle. Menstruation itself - the bleed - causes problems on its own, as it can shorten the biological half-life of whatever you put in them. But this rodent species - the Cairo Spiny Mouse (Acomys cahirinus) - has a menstrual cycle very similar to female humans' but shorter. It has a 9-day cycle instead of 28, but still spends about a third of that time menstruous. Use of this species in research could help greatly with specific conditions such as endometriosis, in which the endometrium (womb-lining) grows outside the womb.

For the first time, a specific methane leak has been observed from Outer Space, by the Hyperion spectrometer on NASA's EO-1 spacecraft. The observations were made consistently, on three overpasses, and verified by a closer sweep by aircraft. Technology like this is helping to pinpoint specific sources of pollution, and thereby pin blame on specific environmental wrongdoers. No wonder various industry lobbyists want climate research to be dislocated from policy! Imagine the bills they'd have to pay, if the long arm of the law could point a finger at them and say "that was you!"

According to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) military deaths have been increasing over recent years, breaking a trend by falling in 2015. 2014 hit 130,000 recorded deaths to armed conflict involving a state, conflicts between non-state actors, and one-sided violence against civilians, which is the highest figure since the mutual racist genocide in Rwanda, in 1994. In 2015, the figure fell to 118,000 deaths, largely due to the civil war in Syria. The number of States involved in fatal military action has continued to increase, however, from 102 to 121 over 2014 to 2015, which has been attributed to the actions of ISIS, and their Islamist allies, which number ~200.

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) has released its database of wheat genetics, to wheat breeders and scientists around the world, with the stated aim of accelerating crop improvement programs and wheat genomics research. The resource, apparently, "accurately represents more than 90 percent of the highly complex bread wheat genome, contains over 97 percent of known genes, and assigns the data to the 21 wheat chromosomes". Cue damage control mode from the anti-GMO mob, who want to deceive each other into thinking that GMOs are tools of monopolisation by Big Agro, who will never release their data for the greater good. Detailed information on how to access the data is available on the IWGSC website.

The affects of droughts are long-lasting, especially on trees, according to research into the condition of trees across western Europe. British beech trees have been especially affected, by the 'great drought' of 1976, which has stalled their growth, even 40 years afterwards. As the climate continues to change, droughts are going to become more frequent and more severe, killing trees off and hampering their growth. This will reduce the amount of carbon stored in the forests of European boreal regions.

In other climate change news: Earth hits another record high in temperature, permafrosts are melting, and global warming goes genuinely global. This May has been declared the hottest May on record, by NASA, in a multiple-year period of tumbling records. 2016 is expected to set yet another record for hottest year on record, too. El Nino is only partly to blame, according to climatologists - the pattern is mostly the warming predicted by them, over the last half century. Advancing climatic change is starting to affect the permafrosts under Arctic lakes, where rates of warming are similar to those observed in terrestrial permafrost, that contains vast quantities of methane. Thawing permafrost would release this methane, causing a substantial short-term upsurge in global warming, making even pessimistic predictions look optimistic. But it's not just the Arctic that's seen dismal milestones - the atmosphere at the Geographic South Pole reached 400 ppm CO2 for the first time in 4 million years, on the 23rd of May. The Antarctic atmosphere is also setting records for how fast its CO2 proportion is increasing. The Antarctic is always expected to reach these highs last, due to its geographical distance from the sources of pollution.

Where does pink come from? Well, the word comes from the Dianthus plant's flowers, which are 'pink' in shape as well as colour. See 'of the weeks' for more. But in cheese, pink discolouration has been found to be caused by a heat-loving bacterium of a genus that's unsurprisingly called 'Thermus'. Thermus bacteria are more commonly observed in hot springs, and are known for their production of florid pigments like carotenoids.

Jackdaws, being corvids, are intelligent birds by repute - they know how to investigate their surroundings, and are prepared to embrace reaonable risks to achieve gains. This research has extended understanding of their intelligence. Like other species, including humans, jackdaws engage in cost-benefit analyses - if something's beneficial, it's only worth it if the costs aren't too great. What this research has found, is that jackdaws are more willing to look for food in dangerous places during breeding season, when they are competing with each other for mating rights, and the additional benefit of progeny is on the metaphorical table. At other times, they are more risk averse, because they don't have to embrace as much risk for self-preservation alone.

What's the price of a slice of pizza? Well, because of the way they're baked, there are often hidden environmental costs to pizzas and steaks, when they're cooked using wood burning ovens. A multi-University study in São Paulo, Brazil, has found that pollution peaks on Sundays, when the city's 8,000 pizza parlours are at their busiest, producing ~1,000,000 pizzas a day, and especially on Pizza Day, in July. More than 307,000 tonnes of wood is burned each year in pizzerias, and 7.5 hectares of Eucalyptus trees are cleared every month, just for pizzerias and steakhouses. The researchers are concerned that the polluting contribution of this share of the food industry has not been quantified, in a city where much has been done to reduce pollution from fossil-fuel powered vehicles. Pizzas could be mitigating much of the achievement of converting to biofuel, there.

As mentioned above, the success of the film 'Finding Nemo' caused a surge in fishing for clownfish around the Great Barrier Reef, despite the moral of the film. Well, the sequel, Finding Dory, is expected to have the same affect on the blue tang fish, a species that is currently less resilient than Nemo's. It is also less easy to look after, and this is what zoologists are hoping will be its saving grace. Reef fish zoologist Alastair Harborne presents these reasons not to get your own Dory: surgeonfish are so-called because of the scalpel-sharp, venomous spines at the base of their tails; they're much bigger, meaning they require a much bigger tank; they require saltwater, which is much more expensive to maintain; and also because they're saltwater fish, they require much more effort to be kept in good health.

It looks like the frogs are getting competitive. Humans are notorious for their sexual variability - they'll screw anything, by any method - but these frogs have added one more sex position to the anuran repertoire. The Bombay Night Frog, Nyctibatrachus humayuni, adopts a position similar to the 'axillary' orientation, but with the male hanging on to whatever they're both resting on, with his hands, instead of hanging onto the female. This means that unlike most amphibian sex positions, this one does not involve amplexus, which is where the male hangs on to squirt his sperm whenever he notices eggs. In the Bombay Night Frog, the male trickles his semen down the female's back, and she releases her eggs into the dribbling fluid, after he's hopped off. You can see a diagram of the process if you look at the diagram embedded in the linked article:

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

Word And Etymology Of The Week: pink -- from 1570s CE, a common name for Dianthus plants; the flowers of which have 'pinked' edges, and the term had extended to the colour of the flowers by the 1680s CE; the word 'pink' meaning 'peforated' goes at least as far back as the 12th century CE. Before 'pink' was used to refer to the colour, the word 'incarnate' was used (meaning 'like flesh' as in 'carnal') hence another flower name - carnation - which is still generally red/pink

Unwarranted-Precision-Through-Unit-Translation Of The Week: "A fast-moving mango, weighing 454 grams, fell into a family’s backyard..." That'll be about one pound then, right? :-D

Ironic Mis-spelling Of The Week: "The 45-year-old [Gujarat Minister] may not sound convincing on the misplaced "e" [in 'elephent'] but his party BJP asserts that he was trying to explain to students how certain words are spelt and pronounced differently"

{There should be two 'l's in 'spellt' as the 't' suffix makes it an alternative form to 'spelled'. 'Spelt' with one 'l' is a type of wheat. But then, why would a newspaper editor spot that? It's not like it's related to their profession, is it :-D }

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

'The Amazing Shapes of Ammonites'

'First mammal driven extinct by climate change'
The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal known to have gone extinct due to anthropogenic climatic change. Rising sea levels have caused its island home to become ecologically unviable

'The Age of Gravitational Waves is Here!; FU Orionis is a Pig; ExoMars First Light | SFN #167'

'Tim Peake's dizziness experiment'

'Some People Just Don’t Get the MSG'

'"To the Victims of This Tragedy We Send Our Thoughts and Prayers" by Roy Zimmerman'

'Mass Murder Flip Flop'
As far as i can see, the problem is one of the false 'good guy / bad guy' dichotomy. Being mistreated doesn't mean the mistreatment isn't reciprocated. There's no such thing as 'good guys' and 'bad guys'

'Image: Several fires burn in Arizona and New Mexico'

'Man demonstrates backwards swimming techniques'

'Lost Voice Guy answers some stupid questions in his new show, Disability For Dunces'

'Every Tube Station Song - LIVE VERSION'

'The Chaser's Election Desk (2016) Episode 1'

'The Chaser's Election Desk (2016) Episode 2'

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 6-12/6/16

Hi infinitessimalists,

I decided to deliberately leave this first subject over, from last week, because i found it late and wanted to give it some time. So here it is...

'Links between term-time holidays and lower grades debunked'

The UK Conservative Party's dogma insists that every day missed from school affects grades. Is this true? Well, it's based on aggregate research that seems to be pretty convincing, but there are problems.

For one, there's the Ocean Dilemma in what produces that absence.

For two, there's the fact that people who miss schooling receive compensation, as part of catching up, when they get back.

For three, there's proportionality of response. Does fining parents (or threatening fines) prevent loss in performance, correcting grades?

And for four, there's scale.

The third of these four has not been questioned. And typically of pollies, they're quite happy to impose the fines without caring whether their chosen, authoritarian response is effective in anyway.

But i'd like to go into the specific claim they've made that "every day missed" makes a difference.

The data show that number of weeks lost, over the course of years of education, correlate with loss of marks/grades. But it's not scientifically valid to make claims beyond the scale of the data collected.

For an analogy, let's take the tallness of tennis players. I mean, why not - they've been on my mind a lot recently.

It's well known that greater tallness correlates with greater performance on the court, and so you might well expect the taller of two players in front of you to win. But you can easily be wrong.

Ivo Karlovic is 6'11" tall (2m 11cm) and is currently ranked #28 in the world. He is almost a foot taller than all of the top 7 players in the ATP rankings, but he has never won a Major.

As well as being statistically invalid to expect Ivo to win against Roger Federer (who is 10 inches shorter, but has a 13-1 record against him) it is statistically invalid to claim that a 7'11" player would route Karlovic because of their respective tallness.

Other factors come into play, at the extremities of measurement - big/small - to confuse causations. You won't notice the effects of relativity yourself, but satellites do, because they're travelling so fast. And a nano-you would notice quantum affects that you don't.

Observing a year-long correlation in a population can not be directly translated into a quantifiable value for marks lost, due to weeks, days, hours, or minutes absent from the classroom.

It's simply not valid to claim that because a week lost has a statistical effect, that a single day lost has a definite detremental effect on a specific pupil's academic development.

What if they needed some stress relief? What if they needed a medical timeout through some other cause? If they're late by a minute, they'll probably catch up. If they're late by a day, they'll probably catch up.

It's one thing to observe that more time in classrooms correlates with better grades, but it's another thing to conclude that the be-all-and-end-all of education is to force children to slave from 9-till-5.

So if one pupil does have one week off, should their parents be fined for it? Party dogma says yes, because 'every second counts'. But this doesn't follow, statistically.

The evidence does not support the claim.


If the Reasonless Rally 2016 proves anything, it's that there's no substitute for competence.

No publicity, no YouTubers, no heretical Rationalism? Just a lot of pseudo-egalitarian pseudo-humanist racism and sexism? It was bound to fail.

And so typical of the self-oralising professional-victimhood brigade to be faced with their own failure, and resolve only to lie about it.

On a related note...

I was strolling on the moon one day, in the merry merry month of December, and i happened to wander over this tweet:

'Insidious Female-Supremacist Rhetoric #girlswhocode'
In case it disappears:

{And of course i wrote that title myself! LOL}

I'm going to set aside the dodgy semantics of the central text: "By teaching girls to code, we're socializing them to be brave" with a simple "WTF?!?"

We can at least conclude from it that these women's language skills are not what sexist prejudice has historically made them out to be!

But i'd rather draw your attention to the element that struck me as being most creepy and weird - the hashtag:


Does anybody else think that that sounds incredibly insidious? I mean, it wasn't so long ago that the USA was a #StateOfWhites, so why would it be better to have a State Of Women?

It makes it seem like the intent of the movement is to eradicate men from the country*. Scroll through some of the other tweets featuring the hashtag #StateOfWomen and that idea might seem to be reinforced.

*I mean, if someone says "would you like to look inside my box of frogs?" you only expect to see frogs, right? Or don't you?? #StateOfFrogs

The only other meaning i can think of, is a kind of mother-clucking, hen-pecking 50s-housewife character:

"Have you seen the state of women in this country? Well, have you? I mean really, it's a disgrace. Imean, i mean, i mean, i'm not going to stand for any more, Harold. I'm not. I'm really not. Either something's done about the state of women in this country, or i'm going to swear, Harold. I'm going to swear. Don't you ignore me Harold, this really matters. I'm going to swear, i know it. I am. Here it comes... oooh, pants! There, i've done it. Now what do you have to say for yourself? Don't just stare at me from your high chair Harold, this is important. And don't suck your thumb. Here, open up, another airplane's coming..."

In what kind of a world is this kind of thing not a PR disaster? Presumbly, the kind of world where the SJW destruction of the Reason Rally is not a PR disaster. I hope the people who did turn up to spectate got something out of meeting each other at least.

The world we actually live in, is one where self-aggrandising megalomaniacs insist that the national (or even global) public agrees with their fruitloop ideas, just because they find those fruitloop ideas to be personally convenient.

In a populist democracy, most people will adopt a passive stance to most things. It's not just younger people who are uninterested in politics. But they are more likely to give up on voting.

Not voting for someone doesn't mean that they don't care about certain subjects, and not caring about certain subjects doesn't mean that they don't vote.

When large numbers of people are neutral to politics, the pollies are able to do whatever they like, harmful or helpful, without them being stopped. Maybe there'll be a few angry tweets, and an ignored petition somewhere, but nothing they can't trample over.

When prohibitionists decided to go against the public will, in banning alcohol, all they had to do was come up with an excuse. When Christian Nationalists Blair and Bush decided to kill some Muslims somewhere, all they had to do was come up with an excuse.

When egomaniacs want to attain positions of great (and disproportionate) power and wealth, it helps to have an excuse. Free markets, national service, feminism, or whatever your social poison might be.

Tell people that we 'need' more bald people in government, and the professional victimhood might provide you with an excuse.

As a bald person, you're drafted in, with a feeling that you are a necessity. You are the linchpin to a grand scheme of social reform. Without you, we can not be considered a fair and progressive society. Your skills and capacities are ignored, and you are hailed as an idol and a leader, simply because you're bad at growing hair.

- It might be that you have no skills whatsoever.

- It might be that you're an unskilled sociopath, who's taken advantage of disableist prejudice to gain positions better-qualified people were denied.

- It might even be the case that you used to have skills that you've now lost, because you've never been required to be good at anything, and you've never had to care about anyone else. You have always been rewarded, because of something about yourself, that is not in any way an achievement.

[Sobs of rhetorical crocodylian lacrimation] "It's hard being a baldie, in a world run by the hair-enveloped Matriarchy. My achievement is to survive, amongst the hairy, as a byld@"

@The world 'bald' has one of the letters of the word 'hair' in it, and so is enforcing discourses that hurt bald people. For this reason, bald must be misspelled byld. Fuck the Hairiarchy! <s>

The reason SJWs play the professional victimhood cards so enthusiastically (the 'cards against humanity' if you will) is because they are so incompetent.

They don't understand biology.
They don't understand language.
They don't understand ideology.
They don't know how to run a rally.

"It's not our fault. We were born disabled female"

No. You were born stupid, like everyone else, but then they got ahead of you, because you made bad choices e.g. Women's Studies instead of STEM. Being female isn't a disability, requiring a mental/social prosthetic. You're not disabled - you're a sexist bigot.

Bigotry is a choice.

'PROBLEMATIC' - DarkMatter

From the annals of #Islamophobia comes this study into porcine pancreatic transplant potential:

'Human-pig chimeras are being grown – what will they let us do?'

At the moment, the research has only been in pig foetuses, that have to be euthanased by a month old, so there are no pigs, like the one in the video, with human organs inside them.

I should clarify, for pedantry's sake, that when i say 'human organ' i mean human-genomed organ. Usually, when the immune system detects a foreign genome, it kills the cells. This research is into the possibility of a pig foetus carrying a human pancreas into adulthood, without rejection, so that it can then be put into a human without rejection.

Both parts are a mighty task. And neither have been done before. But the benefits would be immense, and much cheaper than in-vitro tissue engineering.

Oh, and i shall just say: i doubt the research is being done in pigs in order to encourage Jews and Muslims to drop their demented superstitious rejection of piggyness, for the sakes of their lives.

But i don't know that :-P

'The Harm of Integrative Medicine: A Patient’s Perspective'

I hope i have achieved something, myself, over the last four-and-a-bit years, to bridge the metaphorical gap between science and the public.

It looks like Gawker's pathetically misanthropic ship is finally sinking.

'Gawker Files For Bankruptcy'

Funded by billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan's legal case against them for harrassment (amongst other things) has finally won. That means a payout of $140 million, and debts for Gawker reaching $500 million.

You might have noticed that i'm not that upset by this turn of events. Ziff Davis has pledged to buy Gawker, and they (a company) currently own many other companies, including feminist bullshit website Jezebel. So Gawker looks like it's going to find itself in familiar company. But why are there so many so-called 'news' websites like Gawker? Because 'stories' at individuals' expense are cheap, and make good copy - they sell well. But part of their being cheap, is that the victims don't fight back.

Newspapers don't take on government and corporate corruption, partly because it's hard work, but more because corporations and government departments have deep pockets. Deeper than their own. Individuals, however, do not, which means they will lose libel/slander cases if they take them to court. Unfortunately, access to legal justice is still not meted out on the basis of need - the richer you are, the better your chances of 'winning' a case.

In a world where individuals can pull newspapers, magazines, etc, through the wringer for the scummy things they do, the Media organisations would be given a big motive to try something else - maybe some important journalism instead of just profitable rumour-mongering. Private Eye is a 'squalid little rag' that does cover government and corporate corruption (and they never lack material) and they've been sued numerous times. But they're still going, 40 years down the line. Other rags could do the same, but don't want to, because they take the easy route, of excitedly telling
everyone that Hulk Hogan had sex with someone, like a 13-year-old girl who saw a boy's willy at the swimming pool.

It's frivolous material, but it's profitable. It's their choice to publicise it in favour of important things, that is so pathetic.

In other news:

So the Swiss vote on what they'd like to see progressed in state legislature is over, and the UBI (universal basic income) didn't get most approval. 66.8% elected acceleration of asylum applications, in defiance of vehement propaganda from the fascist Swiss People's Party. 62.4% voted 'yes' to permitting genetic screening of embryos, to prevent genetically heritable diseases. Only 23.1% of people said 'yes' to the government discussing terms of a UBI. Like i pointed out, last week, this was the first occasion anywhere in the world had seriously considered a UBI in governmental process, so all the advocates really wanted, was to get some recognition. And a quarter of voters saying 'yes' is really quite a high proportion, comparing to other first-time game-changing suggestions. This time, next decade, we could all be thousandaires, Rodders :-D

Enhancing the expression of the OsNRT2.3b gene in researched rice has increased yields by half. This is because plants are susceptible to the abundance of ammonia and nitrates in the soil, which they need to grow. Nitrates are oxygen-bonded nitrogen molecules, and ammonia is hydrogen-bonded nitrogen; but nitrates are alkaline and ammonia acidic. This means plants need a balance of the two nitrogen sources to be most effective at metabolising the proteins of which the plant is made. The 'b' version of the OsNRT2.3 gene can turn nitrate transport on or off, depending on the pH inside the cell, making it more resilient to pH changes in the environment. The rice is also much more efficient with nitrogen usage. Applying this knowledge to agriculture could further increase yields, to feed the people of the world, and more importantly, produce environmental fluctuation-resistant crops that would make people's lives more stable, freeing them to think of and develop in other ways.

Most bee species reproduce in the classic animalian way: heterosexual reproduction. But the Cape bees of South Africa have evolved to be able to reproduce asexually, and have even been recorded outbreeding other nests, by moving in, and churning out females faster than the locals. The researchers call this 'social parasitism', which they have connected to certain genes, along with their asexual reproduction. Sexual dimorphism tends to be advantageous for adaptation to change, but consistent environements can allow non-sexually reproducing species like the Cape bees to survive and prosper. The physical process of evolving dominant asexuality and excluding male-female dimorphismm however, is not yet understood.

Noel Edmonds has been back on Rationalists' RADAR, this week, due to his increasingly deranged Tweets. In this example, he claims that illness is caused by "negative energy" and appears to be selling/shilling for a company that sells magic cushions. I mean, if they vibrate, they might be worthh the money - those things are so much fun! But if not, it's fraud without recompense. Noel Edmonds has form for entertaining superstitions, but he appears to be getting worse. Maybe the effect of all that gunge, in Crinkley Bottom, is catching up on him :-D

According to the Dependent newspaper, a "Pint of beer a day could protect you from heart attacks". Now, i'm no tee-totaller, but a pint a day seems a lot to me. What kind of an organisation would advise people to consume copious quantities of alcoholic beverages, when we know the harm done through chronic alcohol consumption? Oh, that's right - the source of the Dependent's chosen advertorial - an Italian beer trade association. What a surprise <s>

According to the Torygraph, Green Tea is a treatment for Down's Syndrome. Let's leave aside the pedantry that Down's is not a syndrome (syndromes are recurring collections of symptoms with unknown causes - Down's' cause is an extra chromosome) and the fact that you can't treat the problem of having an extra chromosome (but you can compensate for symptoms) and go on to how-on-sagan's-pale-blue-dot a study not funded by the tea/quack industries managed to reach this conclusion. It should be noted that the study looked at a lot of possible treatments, and the vast majority showed no effect whatsoever. The explanation that comes to mind is that they 'went fishing' and found a chance correlation that is not a product of causation. The more variables you test, the greater the chance that you'll get one spurious correlation. And unfortunately, even scientists can share the superstitious belief that Green Tea holds medical benefits. It does not. It's just tea.

And now for the Daily Fail tidal wave of stupidity:

"Babies do sleep better if you leave them to cry" according to their reporting of a tiny study, that started off with 14/15 babies in each study group, and ended with only 7 in each group. That kind of drop-out rate is easily enough to create a false correlation.

"Back pain drugs 'do more harm than good'" said the print version of their coverage of a study in Australia, that found that opiates are less effective than previously believed. Unsurprisingly, they said nothing about the cost-benefit analysis of taking them, which is peculiar to each patient. Opiates are still viable for some.

Possibly the most annoying: "Thousands of heart victims killed by poor care: More than 33,000 people died needlessly over the past few years because of shocking flaws in NHS treatment". Grrrh, the evil, evil, evil NHS. Well, actually it wasn't a few years - it was a decade. And the number 33,000 comes from a postdiction of people who might have been saved, if they'd been given and adhered to lifestyle advices, such as: stop smoking, and change your diet. So it wasn't doctors and nurses giving people the wrong drugs. Even if the patients had been given the advice, there's no saying what proportion would have followed it. 33,000 is, therefore, the maximum extra lives that could have been saved, dependent on the commitment of the patients.

{Addendum: The Old Times and ITV News don't know the difference between the past and the future, and The Sun doesn't know the difference between a heart attack, and cardiac arrest. I don't want to give the impression that it's only The Fail that's typified by incompetence}

I do like to save the 'best' till last, so here it is: "Going to church could save your life... Women who worship once a week are '25 per cent less likely to die early'." Yes, that's right - the Christian nationalists of the Daily Fail are citing a 'study' by Christian indoctrination organisation The Templeton Foundation, to con people into thinking that frequent prostration before phantasms can delay death! The Templeton Foundation was set up to fund and promote research, as long as it can be desperately construed as somehow being complimentary to religious superstition. Templeton was a Christian millionaire, you see. He wanted to make the world a worse place, even after he'd left it :-D

Solar Impulse 2's voyage across the USA is now over. Its delayed trip from Pennsylvania arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, having detoured to fly around the Statue of Liberty, and then south toward JFK. The next destination will be somewhere in Europe, with the eventual goal of completing their round-the-world trip in Abu Dhabi, where it began, or at least somewhere in Arabia.

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

'SFN #166: LISA Pathfinder a Success!; New Ideas on Elliptical Galaxy Formation'

'Image: Hubble spots heavy-metal stars in head-banging spherical cluster'

'Image: Space station view of rare noctilucent clouds'

'Image: Twilight stars at Concordia'

'Image: Copernicus Sentinel-3A captures United Kingdom'

'Race School: Aerodynamics, Downforce & Slipstreams Explained! - Formula E'

'Fascinating stuff water does under vacuum!'

'New Elements Named - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Telehealth for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease'

'This fish can recognise human faces'

'The Best Square Square in New York'

'Three Gears are Possible - Numberphile'

'10 Amazing Illusions'

'Mental Illness is nothing to laugh at... but Donald Trump is'

'Conservative Vocab 101: Lesson 4'

'Magical Dream Bed'

'World of Batshit - #7: Gravity'
And you thought gravity denial was just a joke :-D

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

Word Of The Week: dipsomania -- alcohol addiction; a term originating in 1843 for a craving for alcoholic beverages; from Greek 'dipsa' meaning 'thirst'

Expression Of The Week: 'through the wringer' -- being put through an experience that is distressing and/or uncomfortable, especially if it is against their/your will; e.g. "all of these candidates have been put through the wringer just to get here today, so let's treat them with some respect"

Fact Of The Week: In April 2015, the course of the Paris-Roubaix road cycling race crossed a rural train line, which was met by the peloton of the racers at the same time as a train was approaching. Half of the cyclists (including Olympic gold-medallist Bradley Wiggins) watched the train cross in front of them, as the other half pulled away, on the other side. Several riders were seconds away from being struck by the TGV. Even though it was not a high-speed line (which are always cordoned off, so uncrossable) multiple cyclists could easily have died. And to make things worse, this threat was a repeat of an event in 2014, and one in 2006, in which three riders were disqualified for crossing a railway line when the barrier was down. For some reason, the course organisers still think it's a good idea to plan routes that straddle railway lines, a decade later. Addendum: i saw this in a 'near misses' compilation on the TV channel Eurosport Live. You can see it here.

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

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - with Danny Baker #40'

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 30/5 - 5/6/16

Hi human-supremacists,

'Gorilla 'had to be shot''

So zookeepers recently shot a gorilla, when a child fell into their enclosure. The reason given was that a tranquiliser would have been too slow, and so they had to shoot it dead. But i find this comment under the YouTube upload to be the most salient:

"I don't understand :
• Killing the gorrilla -> 1 death
• Not killing him -> maybe 1 death, maybe no death
So why did they killed him ?"


Unfortunately, the zookeepers were under pressure to value the human life above that of the gorilla's. A cynic would say it were about financial liability, but that's probably true.

Value is mostly determined by scarcity (supply and demand, you know) so the gorilla's life has to be millions of times more precious than the human's. Right? And a tapejara's billions of times more valuable. Right? Right?? Tell me it's true!!!!! :-P

If you were in an enclosure, and a little gorilla came to visit you, by accident, while all the others screamed and shouted at you from the balcony, and then the professional, supposedly-responsible gorillas turned up to make a decision, what would you expect?

In a parallel universe:

"What do you mean, Dave? We have to kill the poor human? But they're such gentle beasts"

"Well Mike, most humans are nice, but then they can be pretty savage beasts when they're agitated. And this is a male. More than 99% of humans killed in human-human conflicts have been, and have been killed by, human males. And they even engage in homosexual rape to assert dominance. We can't trust them. If we dart him, he's just going to endanger our child more"

"But Dave, humans have a track record of caring for members of other species. Especially when they're other mammals, and especially when they're young. This kid's both. Can't we find a better way than blowing his brains out?"

"What, with all these screaming nutbags around here? No Mike, they'd never let us. Look, i'll admit something Mike, and i'm really opening up here - our fellow gorillas are probably a much greater danger to us than that one human, but i'm afraid they're just going to have to take the blame. They're clearly showing signs of agitation"

"Of course they're fucking agitated, David! With all these screaming people around, how can it not be? Can't we get rid of them? Can't we turf them out. That'll calm the human down, and make them less likely to endanger the child"

"Not a chance, Mike. They're primates - they love to watch traumatic events - car crashes, train wrecks, TV dating shows, politicians' speeches, you name it. There's no shifting them. They outnumber us, twenty to one - there's nothing we can do"

"Damnit Dave, we have to shoot the poor thing. I can't believe it"

"I know, Mike. We both know it's morally wrong; and we both know it flies in the face of everything we want to achieve here, at the Human Enclosure. But it's the only option our fellow gorillas leave available to us"

"Surely we can't just buck the system, Dave? Take this chance. Try to change the world for the better"

"You're right Mike"

"I am?"

"Yes. We can't just buck the system. We're zoologists Mike, not lawyers. The parents of that kid might sue us into the ground. And then the whole program will be compromised. There are only about 125,000 western lowland humans left in the entire world; they're considered critically endangered by the IUCN; and they're under threat from anti-biotic resistant disease, and habitat loss. I'm sorry Mike - we just have to blow Mr Trump away"

But you have to remember that they're only doing it for you:

"We all know, every day that we go to work, that we are responsible for the safety of not only the animals in our care, but our co-workers and the visiting public,"

Read more at:
"We all know, every day that we go to work, that we are responsible for the safety of not only the animals in our care, but our co-workers and the visiting public,"

Read more at:
"We all know, every day that we go to work, that we are responsible for the safety of not only the animals in our care, but our co-workers and the visiting public" ... "The Phoenix Zoo's dangerous animals response team—or DART—takes annual marksmanship tests, trains at the firing range three additional times a year, and practices loading and unloading firearms"

And who do they end up shooting? It's never the humans. The zookeepers are under too strong peer pressure to ever do that. They're under pressure to make a certain non-human death, to avoid a non-certain human one. But could you resist it? I don't think i could.

[GIF link] "Dont associate with their kind. You'll only get yourself shot"

'Zoo claims Gorilla had ties to Islamic State'

The metaBUS portal is due to go public later this month, providing a window on scientific research data, unrivalled in metaphorical angular size.

'Award-winning academic research search engine metaBUS launches in June'

{Are windows commonly measured by angular size? LOL}

Its creation has been a 4-year project. It started off as an attempt to summarize the data from a variety of specific topics, moved to the summarization of data from two entire journals, and has since become an attempt to summarize data from all of Science. The project was founded by three experts in meta-analysis, each working at the University of Calgary, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, but the extension of their work has involved many more people.

You can see more about their work, at the website itself. But i wonder how truly extensive metaBUS is going to be. And how useful its summarizations will turn out to be.

The Cochrane Collaboration has been working on systematic analyses (which involve a lot more work than just meta-analyses, which metaBUS is doing) for more than two decades now, and shows no signs of 'finishing' i.e. catching up with the research publications. And they only work on medical data.

It's a wonderful idea to herd all of the research publications together, into their respective pens, for academics and laypeople alike to peruse them at will, but the value of a meta-analysis is limited by the quality of its component parts.

The prevailing danger in a project like this, is a false sense of security. Having lots of data in one place is great, but accounting for myriad systematic biases is another thing. I am nowhere near the first scientist to weight in on that point.

Anyway, if you're discovering this article after metaBUS has opened its doors to the public, here's the way in:

'metaBUS Portal'

'Pub chain JD Wetherspoon issues Brexit beer mats'

This is the same Tim 'Wetherspoons' Martin who thinks that selling alcohol in motorway service stations is a good idea. I was wondering why there was a photo of Tony Benn on their company magazine in the SNW, the other week. It turns out they wanted a 'debate' in which only they got to speak. And they couldn't find a picture of Corbyn. Or hadn't heard of him. Typical nationalist asininity.

It's worth rhetorically asking whether governance of JDW is better than FIFA's, whether anyone elected Tim Martin, what's caused JDW's financial troubles (9% share price fall, they're blaming 'labour costs'), and how Spoons can hope to survive, given that this country hasn't ever had a 'single' government, and hasn't had the same PM for longer than 11 years since 1823.

Plus, it keeps changing its currency. "This new-fangled 'decimal' will never catch on"

"Team GB's out of control! Leave the EU, and leave Scotland. Blame the fuzzy-wuzzies, and send them all back to Croydon. The sky is falling! Don't panic, Mr Mainwearing, don't panic!'s the pro-EU campaigners who are scare-mongering"
- British Nationalism personified :-D

'Voters torn as referendum debate pits Stephen Hawking against Wetherspoons'

'Aronra drinks the feminist coolaid'

Ah, the Doublethink Doubledown, defining bigotry as righteousness:

Feminism is egalitarian, because we say it is. Religion is moral, because we say it is. Communism is socialist, because we say it is. Nationalism is pragmatism, because we say it is. Homeopathy is medical, because we say it is.

Recite the mantra brothers/sisters, and force reality to conform to us: "We are right, so reality is wrong"

Disregard the heretics - they are 'outliers', 'anti-feminists', 'heathens', 'gentiles', 'kuffars', 'skeptics'

"We are right, so reality is wrong"

All the other feminists/quacks/religionists disagree with us because they are actually misogynists/skeptics/heretics shilling for the Patriarchy/Pharma/Satan

"We are right, so reality is wrong"

Circular illogic is right because circular illogic is right because circular illogic is right

"We are right, so reality is wrong"

Preach :-D

This is the equivalent of insisting that gravity pushes stuff up, because your 'theory' says so, and all the dictionaries say so, despite all the evidence that gravity actually pulls stuff down.

In real life, the Oxford English Dictionary accepted that its definition of the physics of siphons had been wrong for 99 years, in 2010.

But boy, has there been plenty of evidence of feminist sexism, for Feminism affiliates to deny and/or excuse. Content featured on this blog is the tip of the iceberg. Will it take 99 years for the dictionaries to catch up with that definition?

"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. We are right, so reality is wrong"

For those who aren't aware, AronRa used to be a highly respected member of the YouTube anti-theist quasi-community. Personally, however, i always found his videos rather stale and uninsightful. Probably because i come from a Physicsy first-principles background, so i like references to, y'know, the rest of reality. I like diversity.

Maybe it's his lack of intellectual breadth that's made him susceptible to this doublethink con job. I find that people with very deep but narrow kens tend to be much more unreliable, when it comes to other subjects; compared to people with relatively shallow but diverse awareness.

'How Feminism CASTRATED New Atheism!'

And a postscript:

'#ReasonRally Crash n burn. Thanks SJWs!'

Feminists really should take a lesson from The Beatles

'Ghost-hunters stumbled across porn shoot during graveyard tour'

This is the first good reason to go on a ghosthunt, that i have ever heard :-P

'Teen no longer wants to lose virginity if it’s anything like State of Origin match'

In other news:

The BBC has published a rather crass story about Mr Heimlich using 'his own' manoeuvre, to save someone from choking. How very cute. What they don't mention is that Heimlich is a quack, responsible for the anti-scientific anti-medicine atrocity that is 'malariotherapy' in which he has advocated, and practiced, the 'art' of giving cancer and HIV patients malaria, through the superstitious belief that it would cure them. Thank goodness he hasn't had as much success as has been attributed to him! The Heimlich Manoeuvre itself was hardly unique or original - it is only his by name, and should not be used to excuse his other actions.

The unconditional basic income movement has been making headway in Switzerland, recently, where a petition to the government reached 100,000 signatures, and gained approval for a public vote. This means that, soon after my posting this article, Switzerland will have become the first European country to have a popular vote on unconditional basic income. Switzerland is not known for grassroots socialism, in fact its economy is pretty-much defined by its tax avoidance (finance) sector. But this also means that its economy is hi-tech, meaning it has high unemployment. That's unemployment with a lower-case 'u' by the way. In the coming decades, unemployment is expected to rise sharply, as software replaces more-fallible humans, who are massively more expensive. UBI is a system that grants everyone a means-tested minimum wage, so that they never have lower than a set figure per month. This would render Jobseekers' Allowances obsolete, and various other welfare payments, so it wouldn't be as expensive as you might think. It would also free a lot of people from doing poorly-paid jobs that are shitty to do, forcing employers to offer more money, to persuade people to keep working. For a start, it would mean someone like me could do this blogging milarkey full-time. And it would free inventors to experiment full-time. And journalists could all go freelance, knowing they could just show Media Orgs the 'victory v' if they didn't like their well-written-and-important articles, instead of the puffy fatuousness that they currently insist upon. In an advancing world, UBI looks like an economic and social necessity - welfare is typically complicated and expensive to administrate, but UBI would eliminate much of that difficulty. The UBI-advocates don't expect to win the vote in Switzerland, but they want more people to realise that it's a viable possibility, in the future. It has to be - majorities of nations' populations will depend on it.

NASA has now successfully added an inflatable room to the International Space Station. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) took 7 hours to extend 170 centimetres, to 4m x 3.23m; and be inflated, both in the wall cavities, and inside the liveable space. Two days previously, an attempt to unfold it had gone wrong, which the team conjects to be down to keeping the pod stored for longer than anticipated. This is the design's first practical test, to see whether it's viable as a lunar/martian living space, especially as regards resistance to stellar radiation.

Astronomers have set a new record, observing hydrogen gas in a galaxy more than five billion light years away - almost twice as far away as ever seen before. So the image left before our planet existed. The feat of receiving it was achieved through an upgrade to the Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, in the USA. The project its observation is part of, intends to learn more about the physical evolution of galaxies, over the billions of years of our universe's history.

Diesel fuel's in the firing line for the third week in a row, LOL. But this time in an optimistic way. In the sense that it isn't being used as much as it used to be, on the Galapagos Islands, where pollution from fossil fuel combustion is threatening their 'fragile and important ecological treasures' as the article says. The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership's $10 million project on the islands, installing three 51-metre-tall wind turbines and two sets of solar panels, has supplied an average of 30% of 'the electricity' (in kWh) consumed on San Cristóbal - the archipelago's second-largest island in size and population - since it went into operation in October 2007. During that time, it has displaced 8.7 million litres of diesel fuel and prevented 21,000 tonnes of CO2eq emissions.

The rooting that diesel's experienced in recent weeks is nothing compared to what biofuel's been through though. Nearly half of palm oil used in Europe ends up in biofuel, according to data compiled by the EU vegetable oil industry association Fediol, and obtained by Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment. "Produced mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia, palm oil causes three times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than diesel fuel". Last year, the EU put a cap on the proportion of biofuel that's allowed to come from food crops - 7%. It looks like they might move to further restrict the industry, that has for years tried to con people into thinking that biofuel is as 'green' in practice as it is in fantasy.

The WWF has predicted that the elephants of Selous Game Reserve, in Tanzania, could be extinct by 2022, due to "industrial-scale poaching". More than 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers every year, and there are currently only 15,000 in Selous Game Reserve, of which ~6 are killed every day. Of course, the funding for all of this comes from the quackery and chattles industries, that export the bodyparts, mostly eastward, to make fake medicines, and decorative objects.

Yet again, the world of scientific academia turns around to bitchslap the superstitionists who think that evolved food is eeevvviiilllll. A study of 20 years of research into genetically engineered crops, by the National Academy of Sciences, has led them to the conclusion that genetically engineered crops have not hurt the environment, are not adversely affecting human health, and do not destabilise markets or unfairly bias them in favour of large 'agri' companies. The anti-GM mob's bound to keep on trying to roll up the hill, though.

It's conclusive: birds carry extra fat, for sexual purposes. And by birds, i mean ladies. And by ladies, i mean lady birds. And by lady birds, i do not mean insects. A 14-year study of 12 migrating warbler species has found that the females carry more surplus fat than the males, all birds carry more fat in Spring than Autumn, and crucially, female birds carry more excess fat if they arrive later, rather than earlier. Putting all of this together suggests that the motive to carry surplus fat is predominantly to do with reproduction, and only minorly to do with avoiding starvation. The curvier ladies can compete more effectively for the males' attentions, so they don't have to worry about arriving as soon.

When it comes to sparrows, as with a myriad of sexually reproducing species, both sexes have a motive to spread their genes around. Or, in the language of paranoid, controlling humans: they have a motive to 'cheat'. There are no rules in avian sex lives, so it's not possible to cheat, but even so, male sparrows will spend less time doting over the offspring of females that 'sleep around'. It could just be that more casual females, and more casual males just go together, the way humans do. It could be that males feel less emotionally engaged with the chicks of females who spend less time with themselves, and more time with others. According to this study, by the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, males can not tell whether chicks are their biological progeny, but can judge how enthusiastically to dote over them, using their mother as a proxy. "If chicks were switched into a nest where the female was faithful, then the father at that nest kept up his hard work providing for the chicks, suggesting they have no mechanism, such as smell, to determine which chicks are theirs," said Dr Schroeder. "Instead, the males may use cues from the female's behaviour during her fertile period - for example how long she spends away from the nest."

Popular hypotheses of the evolution of ants present them as solitary epigeic (above-ground) hunters, but this study of ants in the Cretaceous period, during which they are thought to have diverged away from the wasp and bee lineages, reveals them to be quite social, even then. And it also reveals them to have a variety of familiarly-diverse insectoid morphologies, including a species with huge cephalic horns and oversized, scythelike mandibles, extending far beyond the top of the head. The researchers infer that it might have adapted to hunt prey much larger than itself, so it could have hunted like trapdoor spiders, or like antlion larvae do, today.

A study comparing objective perceptions of climatic change in two wine-growing regions of New Zealand has found that loca perceptions of increased rainfall correlate not with actual rainfall increase, but instead with an increase in artificial irrigation. Over the last ~40 years, rainfall has barely changed, but 51% and 35% in each region thought rainfall had increased, and were more likely to think so if they themselves had had artificial irrigation making their farms look more rained-upon than in actual fact. This psychology has ramifications for efforts to combat climatic change in years to come, as adaptations will delude some peope into underestimating the severity of the changes that necessitated those adaptations in the first place!

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

'Footwear Forensics - Sixty Symbols'

'What makes blue-green algae dangerous?—Speaking of Chemistry'

'You Are Two'

'Image: The transits of ISS and Mercury captured simultaneously'

'3D Mercury Transit'

'Secrets revealed from the dark side of Pluto'

'First European Data Relay System laser image'

'The Mandela Effect - TLoNs Podcast #131'

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

Word Of The Week: cataclysm -- a sudden, violent political or social upheaval; (Geography) physical action producing changes in the earth's surface; an extensive flood, deluge. From 1630s French 'cataclysme' via Greek 'kataklysmos' meaning 'deluge, flood, inundation' and in turn from PIE's 'kleue-' meaning 'to wash, clean'

News Item Of The Week: 'Woman says neighbour sold her frozen mother for $30'

Understated Rationalist's Quote Of The Week: "Not getting into controversies is something i'm not very talented at" - Richard Dawkins, during an update on his health, after a stroke caused by high blood pressure, possibly/probably exacerbated by the stress of being bullied by feminists. His doctors had warned him to avoid stress, hence the quote.

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

'Food That Isn't'