Thursday, March 30, 2017

Clocks


Putting the clocks forward in Neolithic times must have been a right pain..

Created sick


J&M pointing out one of the more weird and nonsensical parts of Christianity, or indeed any of the Abrahamic traditions. Why would a God create humans "sick" only to command them to be well? 

Luckily there is no evidence that any of it is true, never has been, and the influence of religion in most developed countries is diminishing over time. This relaxing of a (fixed) Theological and objective-morality stranglehold enables societies to develop a more humane system based on values like reason, fairness, reciprocity, equality and empathy. More importantly it enables us to change our morality over time to better suit the conditions and situations we find ourselves in as a result of progress, all in all a much better and more satisfactory state of affairs for everyone.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eclipse

.

Hey, flat earthers, if the world really was flat then a Lunar eclipse would look like this, right?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Advanced irony, a lesson from the masters


Here's a joke; Saudi Arabia launched a "Girls' Council" this month and unfortunately had a rather conspicuous slip-up; they held a photo-shoot that neglected to include any, you know, actual "girls".. 

Apparently the Women involved in this charade initiative were all in another room somewhere, linked via video conference, so that's nice.

Didn't like the ending much..


A modern interpretation of a well known story with a depressing ending... (directors cut)

Dem bones..


Funny..

Daily Male


Daughters of parents who read this trash, don't just complain on Twitter, rip it up and burn it (then persuade them never to buy it again !)

Revelation


Revelation and miracles finally explained...

#medievalretards



Lot's of believers in the so called "religion of peace" in Pakistan are demanding the murder of atheist blogger Ayaz Nizami. I'm not talking here about the froth spewing hate preachers that seem to litter the clergy in that land but normal everyday people on Twitter (the so called moderate majority) using the hashtag #HangAyazNizami and even authority figures in the Government. His crime is simply that of creating an online group for atheists and posting anti-religious comments on it. He's not alone, several atheist and secular bloggers are being held in prison in that country for nothing more than publicly expressing their thoughts.

Pakistan seems to be attempting to establish itself as some kind of leader in this medieval practice of hounding and murdering anyone who dissents from one particular interpretation of one single theocratic position. It's an old trick and one that we've seen many times in history. It's a favourite ploy of failed states, illegitimate governments and hypocritical theocracies, it's used to distract attention away from the facts that their economy is broken, government riddles with corruption and impoverished people desperate for change and modernisation.

The map in the picture above shows the countries that have blasphemy laws still in place (2014), many of those countries have draconian laws that unbelievably demand things like death for apostates, gay people, blasphemers and many other minorities who are deemed to step out of line, or are simply non-conformist to the prevailing religious dogmas. Many of these countries still hide corruption, injustice and inequality behind a veil of religious offence, relabelling religious and political criticism as "hate speech" or "religious intolerance" whilst at the same time overtly breaking many of the so called pillars of the faith systems they claim to protect.

The alarming picture that this map paints however is that tomorrow the UK prime minister will trigger Article 50 which starts the process of this country leaving the EU. This map is a pretty close approximation of the countries with which we will supposedly "do business" and plug commercial gaps created by abandoning our secular European partners of the last half century. I can only fantasise about what it is exactly that we'll be selling them, Spanish donkeys, heretic's forks and thumb-screws perhaps?

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Great" ideas


Another great cartoon from @ModernToss 

This reminds me of an alarmingly high proportion of the marketing people I've ever met. For me, a common attribute in that game seems to be a propensity for stating the bleeding obvious. A talent for generating brain-farts that seemingly rest on a foundation of never actually having had an original idea. Unless of course, you count all those "ideas" so excruciatingly and obviously lacking in practicality, that in most of us would wither and die even before reaching the prefrontal cortex. 

("there's no such thing as a stupid idea" - said by no engineer ever)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Smirk


J&M hitting the nail on the head as usual. 

It's probably a Human universal that all of us feel that the greatest thing about doing things we don't like (like exercise or work) or temporarily giving things up (like food or drink) is when it stops.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

False equivalences


There's a lot of meme's flying around at the moment (after the horrific attack in London yesterday). 

From the Right we have statements about travel bans, curtailments of freedom and general downers on Muslims. From the Left we have relativist statements, comparing the attack to the IRA bomb in the City in 1993 as well as various lame attempts to divert attention from ethnic and religious elements of this crime under the usual cover of "it's only a few bad apples". Both positions are inadequate of course. The Right is daft if it thinks a travel ban would have made a difference, the murderer came from Kent! The Left is wrong about the IRA, the IRA did not represent an ideology that wished to fundamentally change our "secular-liberal" way of life as Islamism does. This country is no more permeable to theocracy than it is to terrorism; our ancestors have been there, done that, got the tee-shirt, doesn't work, move along.

The Right need to get used to the fact that the world is on a path to 10 billion Human beings; people that are different from us are going to get a whole lot closer a whole lot quicker in the decades to come. Especially as the planet heats up and the crops start failing. We have much bigger fish to fry than petty parochial squabbles about the shape of bananas and whose invisible friend is bigger. It's blindingly obvious that we are much stronger acting together than when divided; this is true about Europe as it is about the rest of the world. There will come a time when we will need their natural resources and them our technology know-how, we had better start laying the foundations for that cooperation before it's too late. 

The Left need to get over this childish notion they seem to have that all ideas are equal; they are not. Taken literally, Islam is a harmful and ridiculous set of beliefs, just as Christianity and Judaism are and some "cultures" just suck. If you are pro-gender equality then you are by definition anti-Sharia law (as practiced in Islamabad or Solihull, regardless) If you support free-speech then you are by definition anti-blasphemy (see picture above) and so on. When people criticize religion and in particular Islam they are not automatically racist or "Islamophobic". Not speaking out about the oppression of Women and minorities in Islamic countries (or any country) IS however bigoted, it's tantamount to saying we demand equality and freedom for ourselves but the same Human rights don't matter for those "others".

Thinking of the herd.


Seems hard to believe doesn't it, that some people in this day and age are so ignorant that they would rather let their children die of entirely preventable diseases than accept the fact that vaccines work; some people prefer conspiracy theory to reason. 

I hear Australia has recently passed a law that prevents parents obtaining child care benefits for un-vaccinated children (except in cases of medical exemption) At first glance this may seem harsh, but if you think about the havoc a child infected with Measles has in a crowded emergency room or doctors surgery and the number of innocent (unrelated) lives that could be affected in serious ways, then it seems more like a reasonable incentive. Many will say that you cannot legislate for things like this; i.e. that governments shouldn't be able to tell people what to do. This is certainly one way of looking at things. However, I prefer to think about it in terms such as, it's the duty of my Government to protect me (and my kids) Preventing the collapse of herd immunity to these killer diseases sure sounds more like a protective than oppressive measure to me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An age for everything..


Apparently these are the ages (in Human life) when people tend to excel at things (not sure according to who though). Personally I'm still looking forward to the Nobel prize winning discovery peak, one of these days I really should start looking for something..

I wonder when peak dislike of "TV light entertainment" is?

Love is a four letter word..


Something to ponder for all those Christian apologists whose argument is nothing more than "science can't explain love".. (as if their explanation that it emanates from a 2000 year old Jewish zombie is in someway compelling)

Third normal form..


Here's something for the software geeks. This is what happens when software developers attempt to reduce the universe to 3NF - or what we used to call "disappearing up your own ying-yang"...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not the sharpest knives in the draw...


There seems to be a rush of celebrities (mainly US sports people) who claim that they believe the Earth is flat. The latest member of this delusional family is ex LA Lakers basketball player Shaquille O'Neal who said on a recent podcast that he was sympathetic to the idea that the Earth may not be a sphere after all, apparently it's all a big conspiracy (of course it is...) There are quite a few "famous" people now who are making these claims, you would have thought that after Sputnik was launched in the 50's that any flat-earthers would have given up the ghost but apparently not!

Interestingly Humans knew that the Earth wasn't flat much further back in time that the swinging sixties. The ancient Greeks had already figured this out long before planets, orbits or even space were even vague concepts, some 3000+ years ago. It's embarrassing to think that there are people alive today who are so educationally stunted that they are unable to evaluate the ample evidence themselves and reach the blindingly obvious conclusion that we live on a globe (unsupported by turtles, just in case you were wondering).


Chance of death...



Something cheerful for you on a rainy Tuesday evening... Basically, overweight base-jumping mountaineers who smoke are screwed, but then they probably knew that anyway.. What alarmed me most was that the probability of dying in any given year doubles every eight years, better make the most of it (only get one folks!)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brexit Metaphors


TBH it's hard to think of a roadrunner episode that isn't a metaphor for Brexit...

Best comic strip since The Far Side..


This would explain a few things...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blasphemy, LOL


So I see that Pakistan is trying to use Facebook machinery to implement it's own Islamofascist and medieval freedom of speech/thought laws. Facebook has agreed to send a team to Pakistan (according to the Pakistani interior ministry) to look into "blasphemous content" (written by Pakistanis) What this team will actually do is not clear, but in my view any capitulation on freedom of speech/thought and privacy protocols by any social media platform would be tantamount to aiding and abetting a repressive regime. Facebook needs to tread carefully here; if they are seen to be colluding with "the man" (from whatever country) it will mark the beginning of the end for that kind of system in my view. Better to be blocked or banned in Pakistan than to capitulate to Islamic fascism and have the "blood" of countless liberal bloggers and activists on your hands.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Summary of the Trump budget..



  • NASA granted $350 to fund upcoming manned mission to Mars
  • Greatly expands State Department’s available office space
  • Allocates $1 billion for across-the-board revitalization of nation’s under-performing prisons
  • Defense budget raised to achieve long-standing goal of removing ballistic missiles from endangered weaponry list
  • Sea level increased by 4 percent
  • Unconscionable amount slashed from costume budget for Cincinnati Ballet’s spring production of Petrushka
  • Larger Department of Veterans Affairs budget to accommodate upcoming spike in cases of PTSD
  • Pretty much in line with everyday Americans’ demand for more guns and fewer books, paintings, parks, doctors, schools, corruption investigations, scientists, and animals

Start-ups


For all those people who've done startup companies and had those awkward moments during interviews with people coming from large corporations, who just expect stuff like health insurance and pension schemes to simply "be there"... 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Factual truth..


What happens when the "truth" isn't factual? One of the eternal questions for religious people in their ongoing attempts to rationalise their inherently irrational systems of belief.

On the other hand, any system based on a rational view of the world (i.e. fact based), is much more easily able to change its view of what is true when new evidence comes in. This's why things like Science actually works and why secular (vs. theocratic) societies tend to be much more successful and nicer places to live.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday titter


For all those skeptical types that have had to sit through ridiculously pointless "Management training/Team building/Bonding" sessions when a pint down the pub would have done the job perfectly adequately. 

PS. found this rich vein of modern life cartoons on Facebook, search for @ModernToss

Choice


This is so true. One of the standing jokes in my industry (IT/Software) is that standards are great because there are so many to choose from! 

Given choice (particularly of software) my experience is that people tend to fall into some kind of weird self-destructive distribution, often choosing the least appropriate and least scalable/flexible/open option. This is a phenomenon that happens alarmingly frequently, it seems to almost be a law of physics! What most people don't realise is that, when it comes to selecting solutions that many people will depend upon, making a sound choice takes both desire and skill.

This is particularly true when it comes to complex things that need to do a certain job well, i.e. critical systems (like the UK economy). In such cases the first thing that needs to be understood is what the job itself entails. I've lost count of the number of clueless administrators, managers and CEO's I've encountered in my career that have been happy to bask in the perceived glory of selecting a new piece of software for their business, only to run a mile when the project fails miserably because it's totally inappropriate for the actual job required and, truth be told, they had no idea what was really needed in the first place.

People make choices based on attributes they understand, when they don't understand the detail of a problem they tend to select based upon superficial things like the personality of the sales person, price or appearance (because they feel they understand those things) - this is almost always a disaster for all concerned.

We've been hearing a lot about "choice" in the news lately, politicians and their apologists around the world are trying to convince people that "choice" is needed. For example, in healthcare in the USA, in trade alliances here in the UK, political choices in Holland and political choices in France. I fear what's being offered is mostly choice of the superficial kind, i.e. not real choice at all but simply an inferior product that will turn out not well suited to the job in hand, in any case most people I know would value reliability, efficacy and value over choice. 

We are surely living in dangerous times, these so called "choices" are being offered to us by snake-oil salespeople with expensive cologne, firm handshakes and shiny suits, whose only chance of success is if they can convince us that what's important is not the quality and fitness of the product, but the choice.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Democracy


Pretty much sums up what I think is going on in our country, sad!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lemmings


Just leaving this one here for our religious brothers and sisters..

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Brexit analogy


Saw this today; fairly obvious but sounds familiar (unfortunately!).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Moments of Karma


Newspaper headline dream come true...

Friday smirk


Discovered a new source of smirks - World of Moose

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Weighty subjects


I thought I'd post a checkpoint WRT my ongoing efforts to shed some calorific investment. I can say without doubt that food-science works (as if we didn't know that already!), if you count calories in and out, monitor the vital parameters and stick to a sensible plan then bodies behave as predicted, mass is indeed converted to energy. Over the last 30 days I've been cutting back on the fuel intake and gradually cranking up the energy output (exercise) and so far I've dropped about 10 kg (22 lb in old money) I must say that losing weight is so much easier these days, all the main supermarkets do healthy options/meals and with the internet you can just google for the word "calories" followed by the food of your choice and you get the answer. Then it's trivial to count up what you eat and adjust your trajectory for the day/week accordingly.

I did make one new discovery this time around that I think might be useful for people trying to lose weight (but loath that empty feeling), it's a couple of products called "bare naked noodles" and "bare naked rice", both kinds of pasta/noodle type stuff made from a Japanese plant (that they've been eating for years) with very little carbohydrate or calorific content (Konjac) A decent bowl full is less than a dozen calories or so and it really fills you up (doesn't taste of much of course but the texture is fine) I wouldn't say I'll eat them forever but for now they are replacing noodles, spaghetti and rice quite nicely turning a 500 calorie meal into a 200 calorie meal without too much stress (result!) I also read a decent book on dieting recently by Dr Michael Mosley (him on the telly) It covers some of the science behind nutrition and dieting and is much better that the usual pseudo-scientific day-time TV personality crap that you see. It's call the "Blood sugar diet" and although I'm not strictly following it and it's not exactly rocket-science, the chemistry and metabolism topics in there are well worth having an appreciation of IMO.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Expressing support..


Splendid effort from J&M; Today it's all about the girls and fairness

Subjective


Interesting map of countries around the world and their various laws on abortion; obviously this correlates almost perfectly with countries that have a strong religious component and especially where the Catholic church has significant political influence. Spot the European outliers (Ireland & Poland) no prizes for guessing what the basis of their hang-ups are. It's about time Women had control over their own bodies, empowerment of Women is the best way for impoverished families to unshackle themselves from pure animal/biological cycles and everywhere it's been achieved has lead to increased prosperity and well-being. Religion is subjective, morality is subjective; biology isn't. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

It's who I am!


One for the "craft" beer fans out there... Particularly resonates with parents of teenagers who remember the (real) Punk era, like me! (click on the image for a bigger version, apparently people who remember the punk era often struggle with small print; probably the drugs..)

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Who knew?


TBH I don't think they're clever enough...

Saturday, March 04, 2017

On a plate


Homeopath handed his arse on a plate on the Edzard Ernst blog by a real scientist and medical researcher... 

It never ceases to amaze me how much people want to believe in magic. Of course, the reality of nature, how molecules work and the science behind understanding it is of no interest to people like this, they seem content with confirmation bias and quick-fix answers. Just like the regular at the bar (with a hacking cough) who insists that smoking is harmless because his granny used to smoke and she lived to 90; their world is full of well rehearsed false-positive anecdotes and apologetic scripts, we hear the same things over and over again, "you don't understand", "you're closed minded", "it worked for my mate down the pub" yada, yada..

Deflection and obfuscation like this are used to shore up opinions that focus only on results that support the narrative, simultaneously ignoring the vast majority of outcomes where there is demonstrably no effect at all. Of course this is a very common fallacy, practiced in many fields of Human endeavor, not just medicine. In the end, people are entitled to believe whatever they like but at the same time it's a real shame if they choose this path of least resistance. Imagine how things could be if these people used their time, intelligence and energy to properly study what is really going on and how placebo actually works, medicine might even make some kind of advance. Until then they might as well be flogging Harry Potter wands and chicken bones in a sack. 

Magic is easy, it requires no effort whatsoever, medical science on the other hand is hard and requires time and dedication, the difference is that science works, magic never has.


Friday, March 03, 2017

Friday smirk


In this age of Brexit, Trump and fake news I'm sure this is a sentiment we can all get behind..

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The good old days..


I came across this little historical artifact today (or at least a picture of it); believe it or not it's a list of reasons for admission into a mental institution from the 1800's. Looking down this list though it looks to me more like a list of suggested names for your new heavy metal band..  

"Masturbation for 30 years"... really? (bet that chafes something rotten!); mind you, putting the obsessive masturbators in with the nymphomaniacs is asking for trouble.. although, I'm particularly impressed with "over study of religion" as a reason for committal, perhaps those times weren't so bad after all? :) ...

The problem with invisible agents..


As this little cartoon illustrates, the problem with miracles is how do religious people then square the circle of all the times (i.e. the vast majority) when miracles do not occur. We've all seen the words used in the media, "Miracle Girl/Boy/Woman/Man survives air-crash/Earthquake/Tsunami" etc.., OK, but what did all the other poor sods who died do wrong? The standard response from our believing brothers and sisters whenever I've discussed this with them is, "it's all part of God's plan" (see above) or "God works in mysterious ways", against which I would argue that "random chance works in mysterious ways too", so how are we to tell the difference? 

Most religious people seem to think this way to some degree, Karma, destiny, dominion, call it what they will, but the Catholic Church in particular seem to have made this kind of confirmation bias a way of life. Stories abound about so called "miraculous" cures (just by visiting a particular place) and saintly nominations for cancers that mysteriously go into remission. Of course cancer does go into remission from time to time (regardless of what the patient believes, or not), and there aren't always medical explanations. I suspect the last thing a person wants if their life threatening illness unexpectedly goes away is a bunch of invasive medical tests to find out why!

I guess this is the lot of Human beings with evolved pattern seeking brains, we can't help ourselves. We would rather have a spurious made-up answer than no answer at all. Just look at US politics currently on things like climate change and perceived terror threats, it's always good to have some agent or other working behind the scenes that your bad fortune can be blamed upon, at least that way you don't feel guilty for doing bugger-all about it yourself.


Sex exists!


It's official! The UK Government has finally accepted the fact that SEX exists, and it's probably a good idea to teach our children about it. It seems we've finally reached a point in 2017 (hurrah!) when enough people feel strongly that one of the central pillars of Human existence is quite a bit more complicated than ignorant 2000 year old goat herders scribbled in their books of tall-stories and moral preachment.

Sex education is now compulsory in all England's schools. Age appropriate subjects will be taught from four years old upwards. Previously sex-ed was only required in council schools, meaning that many wriggled out of it by not being directly under local authority control. Unfortunately SRE is still optional in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Of course there are still opt-outs for "faith" schools, our Government isn't that brave or forward thinking! Religious lobbyists have ensured that parents who send their offspring to segregated schools maintain their right to obscure reality from their children, I feel sorry for them. All the evidence we have suggests that comprehensive (evidence-based) sex education leads to the best outcomes for young people, reducing things like unwanted pregnancies, dysfunctional relationships and sexually transmitted infection etc. Many (including me) believe that the physical and emotional well-being of young people should not hinge on the superstitious beliefs of their parents or the school that they attend.