Sunday, 18 October 2015
Entertainment stuff from the week 12-18/10/15
This week's issue's going out late, and through no fault of your own. Sorry. Better late than never, right? Right??
Let's get on with it, anyway....
'EU lawmakers reject GM crop compromise'
What a horrible mess. The various nations of the EU are tearing each other to pieces, motivated by anti-GMO superstition.
Within each nation, there are people who accept the facts, that genetic modification is a process, not a product, and that genetic engineering especially, holds huge promise for the future, to make millions of lives better.
But there are also people who hold fears of 'the other' and believe the murderous propaganda of organisations like Greenpeace, who strive to prevent foods like Golden Rice from being allowed to save millions of people.
I dearly hope that science wins against superstition, in this case, but i suspect that even if it does, the anti-GM supersitionists will continue to campaign against the technology.
Ironically, their actions are jointly motivated by fear of capitalist corruption, which is often well-placed (see VW for an example), and if the anti-GM movement persists, patent control of crops can only get worse.
Let's be clear: genetic modification has been done for thousands of years, and large companies already control the supplies of commercial species' seeds. Nothing they are doing will change that.
The anti-GMers' criminal acts, against places like Rothamsted Research, only push the power toward the agricultural oligopolies, as the research is generally done by publicly/charitably-funded organisations.
Developments by these organisations (Rothamsted Research being one) are in the public domain, and so do not pose a threat to humanity, economically. If they were forced out of operation, then all that would be left, would be the feared Monsantos and Syngentas.
It would be like living in a privatised healthcare system, where you could only buy heinously expensive patent drugs, that are all old evergreened stuffs. Most of the best, new medicines are not developed by Big Pharma, which spends its money this same way - repatenting old drugs.
The way forward, is to make sure that genetic engineering, and its discoveries, are kept public (the same lesson as in medical research) and seed manufacturers limited only to dispersal.
While the anti-GM movement is tolerated, in keeping the emphasis of 'the conversation' on whether science is science or not, this big problem is not being challenged.
To deal with the real problem - the economics of agriculture - the anti-GM movement must be stopped.
'Jewish school found guilty of selecting pupils based on parents' sex lives'
Sexual perversion? In religion? You don't say!
I repeat the mantra, for the second time:
"Schools are for teaching, not for preaching"
Religions and other superstitious ideologies should never be allowed to infiltrate schools. This is one of many examples why.
In other news:
Possibly the most important news of the week: an Astrophysics PhD student has won an award as 'World Porridge Making Champion'. Included in those he beat, were a medical doctor, a museum manager, a biochemist and a cook. Who cares that he beat a cook, though - he beat a biochemist! Physics takes its place, where it should be - on the top of the pile. Mary Anning, Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould, Fritz Haber, Barbara McClintock, Linus Pauling, Louis Pasteur, we have beaten them all, we have beaten them all! Isaac Asimov, can you hear me? Isaac Asimov... your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!
Headline of the week: 'highly dangerous chance occurrence has small compensation in providing a small statistical advantage in fight against probable cancer'. Or, as the papers, put it: 'shark attack saved my life'. Um, no. That's some major misunderstanding of statistics, you just did there.
wild mushrooms? spontaneous orgasms? sign me up! unfortunately, it's not that simple. The idea that there's a species of fungus, that causes female (but not male) homo sapiens to have orgasms when they smell it, dates at least as far back as 2001, but despite a complete absence of verification, it just doesn't seem to die. Credulity, perhaps? Couldn't possibly be! <s> Having looked the journal of origination up, i'm not impressed by its remit and the kinds of studies it gets published in it - it seems to be mostly advertising for the mushroom and quack (supplements) industries. The original study is linked here, and what it says is... "busy". I've not been able to read it, dagnabbit! Maybe the journal always says that :-S
Here's one of those stories where the 'papers just get everything wrong! Dead animal? Washed up by tsunami? Mysterious? News? No - none of them. It's just the remaining blubber from a shark or whale, where all of the rest has been stripped or decomposed. And although that's interesting, it's not mysterious. Even the footage being thrown around doesn't post-date the 2011 tsunami, as claimed - it was first uploaded in 2010. Fails all around.
VW update: Germany's motor transport agency has ordered a recall of all 8.5 million VW cars sold in Europe, with the test-deceiving software, which VW has revealed to be applying to 2016 models! This is much better than VW's pathetic plan to 'give people the option' of contacting them, maybe, perhaps, if they can find the number. The USA's FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is now investigating VW's adverts, for fraudulence. Those adverts, of course, feature the claim that their cars are low on emissions, which we now know to be a lie. Marketing something on the basis of unfounded claims, is the definition of fraud, so it looks like this could be additional expense for VW Group. As expected, these revelations have had a retarding effect on VW's plans for world domination, but its sales are still growing up, and its global market share has dropped by only 0.3% to 23.3%. That's a scary amount of power for one car company to have!
According to Forbes Magazine's queries through 'online sources such as Nielsen, IMDb and interviews with managers, lawyers, industry insiders and the stars themselves' PewDiePie is YouTube's biggest payee - to the tune of US$12 million! Believe it or not, i still haven't seen one of his videos, all the way through! Maybe i should take some tips, and minorly increase my chances of earning a few bucks from inanity. Some hope :-D
There's compassion, and then there's 'Animal Rights' which can be completely different. Like with the 'Women's Rights' and 'Men's Rights' movements, there are some really wonky arguments. Instead of genuine attempts to improve lives, they condemn things that they just don't like. So when a zoo, as in this case, compassionately euthanases a lion, and then decides to educate some people by performing a public autopsy, the rational response is: "oh, wow - you don't get to see that very often". The irrational response is to send death threats to the zoo, and condemn the dissections as 'not very nice to see'.
Stop the press! Backwards apostrophe alert, in Bishop's Stortford. Must have been a slow news day :-D
GCHQ, please talk to us more, LOL. Pollies in the UK are protected by the Wilson Doctrine, which was made in 1966, and said that no lawmaker's phone should be tapped unless during a national emergency. Well, it turns out that the Wilson Doctrine doesn't apply to the activities that GCHQ does, which don't involve direct tapping. So MPs of both wings are up in arms, about the possibility that someone might find out what they're really doing, on the public's behalf. Surveilling the activities of politicians is actually what GCHQ should be doing. In fact, it's what journalists are supposed to do. Because the actions of pollies, in office, affects the public, data pertaining to their behaviour is publicly relevant data. This is why pollies and corporate execs are considered to be PEPs (Politically Exposed People) as their 'personal' activities often turn out to have a public element - hob-nobbing with industry shills, who're paying for their dinner, for example. It's a difficult life to lead, so i have empathy for them - but it's one that requires the acceptance of public surveillance. By which i mean the public surveilles them - not the other way around! Organisations like GCHQ munching through the personal data of millions, on the tiny probability that one of them might be the shill, is simply unjustifiable. It's not the borderline case, as it is with MPs. If only GCHQ and the NSA did talk to us, about what pollies and corporates are doing, then they might have some form of defence!
The second annual survey of American fears is out, and it's found that the statistical person who exhibits most supernaturalist superstition is a: dark-skinned, unmarried, Catholic woman, who doesn't have a degree, doesn't attend religious rituals much, and lives in the North-East of the USA. So when you find this woman, try to be tactful, because she has 41.4% confidence that places can be haunted by spirits, and 11.4% belief that Bigfoot is real - so don't wear your gorilla costume, at the time! It seems apparent, to me, that the survey excludes religious superstition, and so that is probably why the woman in question is Catholic and inattentive to Churchy rituals. Protestantism tends to be more zealful, in the USA, so the statistical person would probably be a highly-attentive Protestant if that data were included. I just don't want to comment on how common the superstitions surveyed are though! FSM, give me strength :-D
Identification of the features of a 125 million year old mammal skeleton, has pushed back the evidenced hisory of mammalian fur and ear development. Spinolestes xenarthrosus was fossilized with remarkably intact guard hairs, underfur, tiny hedgehog-like spines and even evidence of a fungal hair infection. The unusually well-preserved fossil also contains an external ear lobe, soft tissues of the liver, lung and diaphragm, and plate-like structures made of keratin known as dermal scutes. The specimen measures 24 cm in length, and it might have weighed 50-70 grammes in life. Like modern rats, it had teeth adapted to insectivory, but might have been as omnivorous as modern rats are. The idea that it had a fungal infection, comes from observations of truncated hair growth, of the kind consequent to dermatophytosis, which can be seen in modern mammals. Soft-tissue preservation is also brilliant - enough to show bronchiole structures of the lung, and possibly the animal's diaphragm. You can see a picture and artists' impressions, by following the link:
------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff
'The Thors Hammer experiment! -Potassium vs Ice'
'Lenticular Holograms and Animations'
'Jupiter As You've Never Seen It - 4K'
'Dad³'s Secret Recipes! - Vegan Surprise!'
'The Sex Shop Made Of Felt'
'Bite Me (feat. Crabstickz)'
'Closest northern views of Saturn's moon Enceladus'
'Cassini Begins Series of Flybys with Close-up of Saturn Moon Enceladus'
'The Chaser's Media Circus - Season 2 Episode 5'
'The Chaser's Media Circus - Season 2 Episode 6'
------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks
Word Of The Week: punctist -- from punctator, meaning 'one who draws dots', especially in Hebrew (can apply to the person who made the backwards apostrope)
Fact Of The Week: it was Ringo Starr who shouted "i've got blisters on my fingers" at the end of Helter Skelter. So there :-P
------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff
'Tom Lehrer Decimal The Frost Report'