Monday, 8 August 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/8/16

Hi vinaiguys and vinaigrettes,

Exposé of the week:

'The Fake Vinegar In British Fish and Chip Shops' - Tom Scott

But the exposé goes deeper, Tom Scott. The exposé goes deeper...

What's the active ingredient in vinegar that makes it vinegar? Acetic acid.

What's the active ingredient in Non-Brewed Condiment that makes it a vinegar alternative? Acetic acid...

Oh, wait. Non-Brewed Condiment is vinegar. The only other ingedients are water, to dilute it, and contaminants, to give it a flavour. The same is true of wine/cider/ale/malt/cocunut/honey/whatever-vinegar as well as NBC. Matching a vinegar for purpose, depends on which particular contaminants are in it. If you want a wine-like vinegar, for example, you go for wine vinegar, because the contaminants in it come from the wine, making it taste a bit winey.

The purported reason for using NBC instead of 'proper' vinegar is the 'temperance' (in modern lingo: 'prohibitionist') movement which, like the anti-GMO movement, condemns by association, not by fact. Because fermentation of alcohol is the method by which vinegar is made, they condemned it. Whether any alcohol would be in the product at all, they condemned it. If it came from alcohol, it was deemed to be evil.

According to the quote attributed to Paracelsus, "the dose makes the poison". If there's a trace amount of alcohol in vinegar, then who really cares? Only people who care about ego, over fact.

But then, where does the acetic acid that's used to make NBC come from? If it's not the fermentation of ethanol, then where?

The only viable methods of mass-producing acetic acid are methanol/acetaldehyde/ethylene oxidation, and aerobic/anaerobic fermentation.

But the first three are off limits, because they're not allowed to be used in the production of foodstuffs. Only the biological metabolism of acetic acid is allowed, in this case, because the end product is a food. Or is it a drink? So the only options remaining are aerobic/anaerobic fermentation.

Non-Brewed Condiment, however, is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to vinegar, so it can't be anaerobic fermentation, which is more expensive, as it's compromised by economies of scale. If not other factors, too.

So it must be... aerobic fermentation... that is used. Which is the same method that's used to produce 'vinegar' vinegar. So Non-Brewed Condiment is just flavoured vinegar! And is, in fact, brewed! That's what the term 'fermentation' means, in this context.

Then what's the point of Trading Standards prohibiting the sale of NBC as vinegar, when the acetic acid that's used to make the NBC, is vinegar itself??? They're just prohibiting one form of vinegar, in order to favour another form of vinegar!!

To add to the madness, this is what Non-Brewed Condiment's Wiki page says about the economics of NBC production:

"Non-brewed condiment is acetic acid mixed with colourings and flavourings, making its manufacture a very quick process"

But you have to make the vinegar, in order to mix it with the colourings and flavourings, to make it into Non-Brewed Condiment. Why isn't that time (3+ months) included? I don't call a quarter of a year a "very quick process".

"Excuse me dear, just going down the shops. It'll be a very quick trip. See you in the Spring"

It's mad. Completely mad.

So what's the reason for all this? Well, i don't really know whether there is a reason. But i can conject that it has something to do with legal bollocks. And maybe something to do with smirking at the prohibitionists, too.

Quoting Wiki again:

"According to Arthur Slater, writing in the August 1970 edition of Industrial Archaeology the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate ruled in a 1949 prosecution at Bow Street Magistrates Court that the term ‘Non-brewed Vinegar’, which up until then had been used to market such acetic acid solutions, was in contravention of the Merchandise Marks Act 1926 as it constituted a false trade description. The decision was upheld on appeal to the King’s Bench Division. Mr Slater goes on to state that after the unsuccessful appeal ‘the trade association concerned announced that in future their product would be sold as ‘Non-brewed condiment’’."

So the ruling was that the term 'non-brewed vinegar' was misleading. So the trade body representing the manufacturers decided to change the name from 'non-brewed vinegar' to 'non-brewed condiment'.

I have one 'minor' gripe about that resolution:


You have to brew whatever it is you brew, to produce the acetic acid, with which the 'non-brewed' condiment is made. Changing the name from 'vinegar' to 'condiment' has preserved the wrongness in the name, not corrected it! Gah....

Still, if it got the prohibitionists off everyone's backs, then maybe it was worth it :-D

The Red Dwarf series XI episode list is complete. Roll on, September :-D

'Red Dwarf XI episode list and synopses released'

'Queensland rays could pose toxic Asian medicine risk'

Time to get sarcastic... :-P

"Consumers of Asian alternative medicine derived from Australian marine life may be inadvertently consuming toxins"

No! What, really? Quacks don't sell people poisonous bollocks, do they? I've never heard of that, before!

Naturopaths aren't obsessed with arnica, that does nothing except occasionally kill people; echinacea, that has one property - mild poisonousness; crushed apricot kernels, 8 of which contain enough ancestral-cyanide to kill an averagely-sized man; or strychnos, which is a completely benign brandname for the completely benign product strychnine.

No, i've never heard of an alternative/complementary/integrative/intelligentdesign-medder who willfully sold things that scientific investigation has found to be harmful!

Chiropractors don't crack babies' spines, and give fatal strokes to people with neck pain. Acupuncturists estudiously wash their needles so that they don't spread TB and HIV to dozens of their victims patients. Homeopaths don't keep selling their damp sugar, even when it's got crushed glass in it.

And crushed glass isn't famous for being lethal, when ingested.

But i am sure that it makes total sense, to pick out the fact that wildlife off the shores of Queensland, tend to have slightly raised concentrations of lead in them.


Unless they're in the shape of a gun.

[Sarcasm ends]

Here's an interesting case for USAians et al... well, it's interesting for everyone, but especially those without this particular idiomatic quirk...

'The MP, the ASA and the Case of Alyssa Burns-Hill'

In the UK, the term 'doctor' is used colloquially, almost exclusively, to mean 'medical doctor'. If you say you're 'Doctor Willy Scraper' people will think you're a GP, or surgeon, or working in some equivalent medical capacity. And when they stop laughing at your silly name, they'll take you seriously.

So even though people with PhDs are perfectly within rights to title themselves 'Doctor Thing' they generally don't, to avoid confusing people, who might think that they're ready and willing to give them a hand with their haemorrhoids!

Alyssa Burns-Hill is an example of a charlatan, who's whining about the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) for insisting that she not call herself 'Dr Alyssa...' because of this fact.

As far as i can be aware, she is not non-UKian, and so should not be unaware that by calling herself 'Doctor' she is misleading the public, and especially those who become her customers.

It's the specified job of the ASA to prevent advertisers from misleading the public, and especially those who might become customers through being misled.

But unsurprisingly, this individual, who claims to have conquered cancer through pseudo-medicinist bullshit, is trying to con the world (and at least one MP) into thinking that the ASA is an evil organisation, intent on wreaking morbid destruction, on anyone who's 'just trying to help' i.e. a criminally-flexible, profit-motivated bozo with a fake qualification.

I've said it many times before: superstitions clump. Quackeries, religions and conspiracy theories have a tendency to go together. She might believe what she claims.

But if you're someone looking at the British use of the term 'doctor' from the outside, i suggest using this opportunity to think about the way language is used, and how the same term means different things, in different cultures, and what really matters, in the way they're used.

If calling yourself 'Dr Portas' gets you a job in engineering, even though your degree's in agriculture, have you deceived your employer? I think so. How's the case above any different?

[coughs: Gillian McKeith]

In other news:

Warnings have been made, last minute, about the health risks of Rio, but they have nothing to do with Zika. See last week's article for the AMNH event on that. The bigger disease threat is from adenoviruses, that can cause everything from throat infections to meningitis and encephalitis, and death, in people with compromised immune systems. Adenovirids are usually transmitted by exhaled water droplets (coughs and sneezes), and faecal contamination. Especially when the virus has caused gastroenteritis, which can kill children by dehydration, so good sanitation is essential. One biomedicinist has warned everyone "Don't put your head under water". Olympic athletes are probably at least risk, as the Rio Olympic Committee has deliberately selected clean places, but anyone who wanders from the Olympic site, tourists and especially local residents, are faced with sewage, released directly into the sea, and uncontrolled viruses. IMO, Zika pales in comparison to these longstanding problems.

Olympic gymnast Kohei Uchimura seems to be the Kent Hovind of Pokemon Go. His enthusiasm for it followed him from Japan to Rio, where the telecommunications company he's contracted to charged him Y500,000 in roaming fees. When he got in touch, they reduced the fee to Y3000 - a turn of fortune for which he said "I really lucked out". He 'lucked out', because he only got charged Y3000? Kent Hovind claimed to be blessed by 'the lord', because he only got nine years in prison :-D

It escaped my article, last week, that Apple has mimicked the Google Feminist Fail of creating a load of 'gender diverse' emojis. Except theirs don't seem quite so bad, as some actually have bodies below the neck, and so aren't purely defined by sexist assumptions about hair length. Apple has, however, made news for swapping its pistol emoji, with a water-pistol emoji. This is completely pointless. Words and pictures are communicative kin, as i have said before, but the salient detail is that taboo terms, whether words or pictures, maintain their taboo status, through emotional association. No-one objects to the word 'can't' if they don't mishear it, and if they don't think that the mishearing is 'swearing'. Censoring one taboo term, whether 'can't' or something like the word 'spastic', either reinforces its strength, if the censorship is ineffective, or if it is replaced with a substitute, merely transfers the emotional association to the substitute. People fear the pistol emoji because they associate it with a real-world threat. This emotional association is only going to shift to the water pistol emoji, instead, because it will be used in the same way. And then, maybe, real water pistols will be banned, too, even though they hold negligible potential to do harm, in comparison to the real thing. There's no point running from words!

An international team of researchers have diagnosed a hadrosaur as having septic arthritis, through micro-Computerised Tomography, which had progressed so far as to render its elbow joint, resulting in a fused joint covered in bony growths. Modern birds and crocodiles can be seen with the same condition, that would have left it unable to use the affected arm.

When you want to cool something down, there are usually moving parts involved. Some kind of apparatus pumps a fluid around the object, to draw heat away from it, thereby making the surroundings hotter, but the object cooler. But a LASER-based technique called 'optical refrigeration' requires no moving parts, and has recently been used to set a new world record, for coldest temperature measured in a solid. The new record of 91 Kelvin (or -182 degrees Celsius) has been achieved by shining LASER radiation onto the chosen object, which then fluoresces, emitting more energy than was incident upon it, causing an overall decrease in temperature. I have no idea how long it took them, but this technique could potentially be developed for many purposes, in which the vibrations of currently-popular cooling equipment pose problems. Due to the technique working by fluorescence, it only works on certain materials, for example the Ytterbium crystals in this experiment, but in practice, a crystal could be laid against the hot target, and its heat wicked out, through the cooling apparatus.

An international group of Physicists has found a very interesting property of Gallium metal. Like an ice cube, the water on the inside is solid, but if you look closely at the surface, there is always a layer of liquid water, where the cold water meets the warm outside world. But in Gallium, that liquid layer remains, at temperatures ranging from 180 Kelvin (-93 degrees Celsius) all the way up to 800 Kelvin (527 degrees Celsius). You can see images of the Gallium nanoparticle, in the linked article, with the ordered atoms of the solid Gallium on the top-left, and the disordered liquid Gallium on the bottom-right.

Continuing the nanophysical theme, and the LASERy theme, the hypothesised method of treating and beating cancer, by injecting nanoparticles and heating them with a LASER, to cook the tumour's cells, seems to be showing efficacy, according to research by the Niels Bohr Institute and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Their experiments have shown that the best results are achieved with nanoparticles that are 150 nanometers in size and made of a core of glass coated with gold, when using near-infrared light. This method is hoped to become a big weapon against cancer, as it can be injected precisely into targetted tumours, and minimise damage to the rest of the body. Researchers also hope the technique can be developed so that injected nanoparticles can be used to target cells deep inside the body, and metastaside cancer cells, that do not have one centralised location.

What happens when you drop 297 USB sticks on a university campus? Well, according to Elie Bursztein, at the Black Hat hacker conference, last week, who installed call-home software in them, and littered them around a campus, 98% of them get picked up, and 45% of them get plugged in. Such breaches of security can compromise an entire company. The cost to Bursztein, of installing his call-home program, onto a circuit board, attached to a USB stick, was $40 each. Of course, the only utility of his software, was to tell him whether the USB sticks had been plugged in, but the consequences could be much worse if malicious software were installed.

Good news from, and for, Australia. Following the re-election of Malcolm Turnbull, the successor to halfwit homophobe and climate change denier Tony Abbott, to the Prime Ministership of Australia, the country has made a slow return from the scientific graveside. It's gone from lacking a Science minister, having a PM who denies climatic responsibility, and facing cuts to CSIRO - its leading science organisation, to recovering its Science minister, gaining a (more) sensible environmental policy, and optimism that CSIRO will get its funding back.

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

'Rayleigh–Bénard convection cells'

'Make Silver Testing Solution to Detect Fake Silver'

'The Mushroom Cloud Over Britain: RAF Fauld and the Hanbury Crater'

'grooming minds' - Theramin Trees

'Rosetta’s journey around the comet' (so far)

'Image: Hubble gazes at long-dead star'

[GIF] 'Image: ESA, NASA's SOHO sees bright sungrazer comet'

'A Huge Solar Filament Erupts'

'Being ICEd | Fully Charged'

'Berlin Wall - Maps With Gaps'

'The Adventures of Dad³ - Dad Space'

'Grape Expectations | The Checkout'

'Pharma Sutra | The Checkout'

'The Packet Racket | The Checkout'

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

Word Of The Week: sagacious -- having or showing keen mental discernment and good judgement; wise or shrewd e.g. "That Tapejara gives me nerdgasms. They're the most sagacious extinct flying reptile that i have ever met!"

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

'Burbujas subterráneas gigantes de metano en Siberia' (Underground methane bubbles)

'40 brilliant idioms that simply can’t be translated literally'

'Chelmsford 123 . Odi et Amo'

'Chelmsford 123 .The Secret War'

1 comment:

  1. Update on the fake vinegar story:
    I have dug deeper and found that the truth might lie even deeper, and be even more interesting that outlined. I've contacted a manufacturer of NBC as part of an investigation into its progeny. Watch this space!