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'

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