Friday, July 31, 2009

UK body endorses Christian fundamentalist curriculum as equivalent to A-Level


"Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie,' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

"Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all."

There are schools in the UK who teach this shit as fact and will get you an A-Level for your pains. When was lying to children in a manner which strongly influences their world view and social interactions (by making them look like a fucktard to the rest of society) not child abuse?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

John Harris on the impending threat of corporate dystopia


Just had to link to this article. John Harris is pretty good most of the time but this is just excellent.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

punkscience is busy . . .


Going to festivals, getting a new job and trying to finish his thesis. I fear you must look elsewhere for ranting hyperbole for now.


As an interesting closing comment, a friend nearly killed Karen O in a moshpit at the Secret Garden Party this weekend. I spent the rest of the festival looking for her to marry her but never found her again. He's a credible, upstanding sort of scoundrel so I believe his very word. Poor Karen. She will probably never get another opportunity to feel the punkscience power. Weak.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

comment of the year on CiF


This is brilliant:

" Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which bankrupted thousands, worked so well because no one knows how to read financial records"

Bernie Madoff is not the only one with a Ponzi scheme and certainly not the most wicked one. Madoff's victims had a choice.

Compare that with the Ponzi scheme called National Insurance that successive governments have run. We all contributed to it in the belief that we would be looked after when we become frail and feeble. Successive governments took the money and wasted on their pet schemes instead of creating a fund to protect us. Now they say the cupboard is bare and have today tabled their idea for a new Ponzi Scheme.

The moral of the story is be it Madoff or the government we elect, they rely on our gullibility. At least Madoff got punished for his crime.

All that's missing is the observation that the uk government is shit.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

animal experimentation - do crabs have rights?


"No" says Peter Fraser of the University of Aberdeen. So do I and would also like people who say they do to not be so fucking stupid. This sort of "rights creep" is a direct threat to much high quality research that makes use of the lack of authoritarian oversight of invertebrate experiments to do good and interesting science.

Put it this way: If I wanted to manipulate an organism's environment in the lab to test its responses to some stressor (eg. ocean acidification) I could do so with invertebrates (eg. crabs, mussels) without any bureaucratic oversight. The same experiment with vertebrate fish would require a home office licensed facility; a separate licence to be approved for the specific experiment; qualified and registered staff to conduct husbandry, sacrifice the animals and take biological sample and piles more bureaucratic fiff-faff. Now, I'm not saying that animal welfare is not a concern for scientists. I'm saying that some of the legislation designed to produce it is unnecessary and obstructive, costs an enormous amount of money and does not necessarily improve the welfare of the animals as no-one can explain in cold, hard terms exactly what this term means. Animals in the wild are typically perpetually hunted, starved and otherwise stressed to fuck. Putting fish in sterile tanks with no natural features whatsoever is kind of like locking your average human indefinitely in a single room with nice, soft, padded walls and providing them with regular meals but nothing else. And about as humane. Scientifically its absolute bollocks.

Unfortunately the alternative- called mesocosm experiments, where you try to replicate natural communites of organisms in a recreation of their natural habitat- is incredibly complicated and generally produces very complicated results that are difficult to interpret. Also, such experiments are an order of magnitude more space-, resource- and labour-intensive due to the need to study all of the different components of the community in sufficient detail to observe statistically robust differences. I fail to see how this is anything more than a challenge to scientists, however, as the underlying rationale for such experiments and the potential for real insight to be gained from them is clear. Resort to single species tests in sterile, unrealistic conditions is defeatist and cowardly. Unfortuantely the regulations for conducting such tests with vertebrates make mesocosm studies including them almost impossible to conduct robustly.

electoral obstruction in Norwich


It looks like Craig is getting a steady stream of petty obstacles and even blatant barricades thrown into the path of his election campaign efforts in Norwich. I cannot decide whether I prefer him or the green candidate, Rupert Read. The best of luck to both of them! (via Rossinisbird)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Richard Alleyne is a lying piece of shit


He has turned an MSc student's unpublished research (she hasn't even submitted her thesis!) into a torrent of lies about how women who dress provocatively, are outgoing and get drunk incite men to rape them. Ben Goldacre did his thing and revealed it all to be a pack of misogynistic lies. Alleyne and his editor should be pilloried for their role in demonising women.

is this the best music video evah?


Karen O, dead dogs and kids with axes are all awesome.

Monday, July 06, 2009

painfully funny


SO much sniggering my sides are aching really badly.


This one is almost as good:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Reith Lectures 2009


In a follow up to the closely-related Leith Lectures (snigger) we have this year's Reith Lectures. I heard the last lecture on the radio the other day and its bloody good stuff. However, I have significant issues with Michael Sandel's out-of-hand rejection of technocracy. I think his criticisms are entirely worthy of the flawed technocracys he described but rejecting the underlying rationale behind attempting to place monetary values upon ecosystem services is bizarre. Just because many attempts to value ecosystem services fail hugely because of the complexity of the systems involved doesn't mean the practice should be rejected. It means that substantial research dollars need to be assigned to this field of research to hone it and develop accurate numbers to use when making decisions over the conservation and defence of ecosystem services and functions.

Alternatively we could deploy precautionary policy requiring regular assessment of indices of function and service provision and the exclusion of anthropic activity in any area where such systems are determined to be significantly compromised. Yeah, cos that will ever happen.

Finally, and most likely, we could just not care about long-term preservation of the systems that support life and compensate for our incredibly unnatural lifestyles and just let them degrade to the point that our way of life becomes intangible and society implodes. That's the choice of the grey parties.

No. I'm not drunk. No. Not at all.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Goldman Sachs fuckyounomic special


In a follow-up post to this rare, lucid example I would like to point my reader in the direction of this forum thread and the text of Matt Taibbi's recent article on the investment bank for Rolling Stone that is contained within it.

"But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going."