Sunday, 19 April 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 13-19/4/15

Gutentag to eu lot,

I seem to have nothing to say :-/

Apart from this...

In the news:

A success for rationality, and the Good Thinking Society! In February 2015, they launched a legal challenge against the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Groups' decision to squander money on Homeopathetic non-medicine, which would have cost them more than £350,000 over the next decade. As they said: "The best evidence has conclusively shown that homeopathy is not an effective treatment, and to continue to offer ineffective treatments under the guise of patient choice raises troubling questions about the important concept of informed choice, and indeed of informed consent." 'Offering' damp sugar to patients is not medical care, and that is how it breaches consent - patients should know when they're receiving shams. I noticed, recently, however, that the NHS' jobs division (at least) still considers Osteopathic and Chiropractic non-qualifications to be professional guarantees. Work to be done, guys. Work to be done.

Has it been raining worms in Norway? The idea of any species falling from the sky is one that's caught many people's imaginations, but that doesn't mean it's true. There are three classes of viable hypothesis: the worms come from above, from below, or from the side. It's known that worms climb up to the surface, under certain conditions; and it's known that they can wiggle along the surface when they're there, but there's never been a verified sighting of any worm or fish species falling from the sky like rain. Reports are usually post-hoc narratives, where people see them on the ground, and then surmise that they must have come from above, and naively (or selfishly) exclude the possibility that they came up from the ground, or slewed from the side, as in the case of the lorry that shed its load of fish, in Thailand, this month.

The whole world went red last week. Well, not all of it, but various places around the world. That's what happens when dust is swept in from upwind deserts by winds. Follow the link to find pictures:

900 Dutch citizens, coordinated by Human Rights group Urgenda, have sued the Dutch government in an attempt to compel them to accelerate action mitigating climatic change. The EU's already committed to reducing CO2eq emissions to 40% of 1990 quantities by 2030; Urgenta want that brought forward to 40% of 1990 quantities by 2020. A much better-case scenario, of course, would be 40% of 1990 q-s by 2000, and <10% by 2020. But of course, that's gone. The big question is: is Humanity being too slow to react, and will Urgenta and its equivalents around the world be successful at accelerating reaction? Governments have been highly lethargic on action; the EU has really led the way at getting anything done; will collective legal actions make the difference?

One of the progressive motions of the EU has been their approval of Germany's biggest yet wind farm project. Of course, Germany now needs wind power, due to the government's irrational decision to get rid of nuclear power ahead of getting rid of coal power.

Next up, on the pro-EU show, this week (they don't pay me a dime, i promise :-P ) is a throwback to their study on the effects of neonicotinoids on bees. The study they commissioned found that neonicotinoids (a range of pesticides) harm bees, and so to spare bee species, the EU banned them. Helen Thompson of the UK government's Food and Environment Research Agency did a follow-up study and claimed that it had found no clear connection between neonicotinoids and harm to bees. The Environment Minister of the time - Owen Paterson (Conservative) - was all too willing to accept this secret 'study' to reject the EU's publicly-available study. Well, an analysis of that study has now shown that it demonstrated the complete opposite of what Helen Thomson and Owen Paterson claimed it to: it reinforced the EU's study, not contradicted it. Helen Thomson also failed to make it clear that she was about to utilise the public-private revolving door to become an employee of Syngenta - a pesticide manufacturer. So much for the spontaneous social conscience of the feminine mind! Both sexes are just as capable of criminal corruption through conflict of interest, and shafting entire species for the sake of self promotion. You don't find many feminists pointing that out, when advocating equality though, do you! The lesson, here, is to remember that pollies and their cohorts can be lying bastards, whatever sex they might be.

Did you know that the Moon, like a comet, has a coma - a tail? Well, it does. Ground-based telescopes first identified a trail of sodium stretching out behind the Moon for hundreds of thousands of kilometres, in 1999. NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) took a closer look in 2013 and 2014, and has found a signature in blue and UV wavelengths too, which the researchers suggest are most likely caused by dust grains, each around 10 nanometres in size, trailing away from the moon for thousands of kilometres. It's thought that the same phenomenon should also be visible streaming away from Mars, and Ceres, and other Solar System bodies with erodible surfaces. Because they're so diffuse, however, it would be impractical to catch any of them, so you can put down your butterfly net :-P

This is what happens when a lie is popular: people who've been elected to positions of power, by populist democracies, can act on that popular lie, at the expense of honest and truthful people, and eventually themselves. This is what is happening in the USA, where (mostly) Republican candidates are getting elected on their denial of climatic change. Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott was exposed as having made orders to staff,to  not use the terms "climate change" and "global warming" in communications and reports. Not even to use the words! That is crazy, but that is what superstition can motivate people to. To Islamists, you mustn't draw Mohammed; to Republicanists, you mustn't say "climate"; and to Judaists, you mustn't say "Jehovah". Why? Not because their victims are lying, but because they have a mind-leading fear of the truth. The same dementing fear that's motivated them to deny sea-level rise, for the (short-term) sake of insurance and construction companies, who want to build on lands that will be flooded in decades to come. Deny the facts, and they can carry on as usual. Accept them, and they have to make major changes to their business strategies. The conservative attitude is always to resist change, and insist on tradition, which feels homely and familiar, even though it's myopic and self-defeating. But then, if collective self-harm is what the people want, shouldn't they have it? That's the way a populist democracy works, after all.
{Answer: no. We should have a better democracy, that respects people's competencies, rather than their vacuous prejudices}

But to end this section with some good news, here's an article about the US$18 million that workers from a factory in Taiwan have been awarded, collectively, for the approximated 200 deaths and 1000 other morbidities, caused by US electronics company RCA's groundwater poisoning, between 1970 and 1992. The legal battle was launched over a decade ago by the RCA Self-Help Association, which represents 529 former workers, including relatives of 47 people who had died.

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

'Clinical Trials | The Checkout'

What does 'clinically proven' mean? In adverts, it means bugger all! Everyone should see this video - the aesthetic insecurity industry is major player in the corruption of people's perceptions of Science. Their 'research' is fake, and their claims unscientific, and i'm angry as hell about their wanton abuse of the term 'clinically proven'! Grrrr....

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 2'

'Why temperatures never go up in straight lines' - potholer54

'The 'Everything' Formula - Numberphile'

'Cheryl's Birthday Problem - It depends on your point of view'

'Lars Andersen: Questions, Answers and New Archery'
This is the follow-up video, after all the criticism he got for the first one.

'How To Stop Yourself Being Ticklish - with Dr Emily Grossman'
Horrid background music. Never mind.

'Brazilian Angels' - Snopes

'Image: Comet activity 31 January – 25 March 2015'

'Toasted Mac & Cheese - Experimental Recipe'
The first of the series :o)

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Mark Thomas'

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

Word Of The Week: ultracrepidarianism -- the activity of opining on subjects which one is totally ignorant of (for example, obstructionists who opine on climatology)

Etymology Of The Week: varmint -- meaning 'vermin' and chiefly associated with southern American culture; actually comes from 1530s English, with the American usage dating to 1829, and the meaning of 'troublesome person' dating to 1773.

Quote Of The Week: “Anyone is entitled to have his hunch, but before a hunch can attain even the modest dignity of an informed guess it needs to be shaped by an understanding of the evidence.” - Thomas Charles Edwards

Fact Of The Week: The Sherlock Holmes Museum, in London, UK, has the address of 221b Baker Street, despite actually being situated between 237 and 241 Baker Street, because that's the closest location they could get. 221 is actually part of a block, owned by the Abbey National Building Society from 1935 to 2005. Baker Street itself only reached to No. 85 at the time the stories were written. The current 239 (221b?) would have been on Upper Baker Street - a different address entirely!

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

'Candy Anatomy – Learning the human anatomy with colorful candies'
To be honest, i'd rather eat the real thing #nosweettooth

'Tetris Clock'

'Jon Pertwee being hilarious'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P1'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P2'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P3'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P4'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P5'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P6'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P7'

'Doctor Who: Jon Pertwee P8'

Jon Pertwee died 4 months after the recording of this event. He was cremated with a toy Worzel Gummidge affixed to his coffin, according to the instructions in his will :-D

'Craig & Danny Part 1 - Comedy Q & A DJXVI'

'Craig & Danny Part 2 - Comedy Q & A DJXVI'

'Craig & Danny Part 3 - Comedy Q & A DJXVI'

'Craig & Danny Part 4 - Comedy Q & A DJXVI'

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