Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts

Monday, January 6, 2020

It Is Not Okay to Attack Teenage Girls


Willfully ignorant jackass attacks teenage girl, film at eleven:
Greta Thunberg has responded to Meat Loaf’s claims that she has been “brainwashed” into believing in climate change.

The hard rock veteran argued last week (January 3) that the 17-year-old activist’s time would be better spent on something other than working to reverse climate change.

“I feel for that Greta,” he said. “She has been brainwashed into thinking that there is climate change and there isn’t. She hasn’t done anything wrong but she’s been forced into thinking that what she is saying is true.”
 
Thunberg, who has become a figurehead for the global environmental movement and inspired a number of protests, strikes and the continued work of Extinction Rebellion, has now responded to the musician. “It’s not about Meatloaf. It’s not about me. It’s not about what some people call me. It’s not about left or right,” she tweeted.
Meat Loaf is, essentially, just an old man trying to stop the world from changing. This is why he is a failure. It has nothing to do with his music, his art, his ability to perform. It is because he has entered the public space and attacked someone else because they represent a changing world he does not comprehend. No one needs to do that. You disagree, fine. But don't expect to be taken seriously anymore. Don't expect to get away with this shit.

In other words, fuck this guy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Anti-Intellectualism Runs Amok in Modern America




There is a cottage industry out there that caters to the wealthy and the elite (they're Middle Class, but refuse to accept that fact) and it is based on flattering them and convincing them that they are smart for not vaccinating their "special" and "unique" children.

You're not going to convince someone who has made the decision not to vaccinate their children that they're foolish or arrogant or incredibly stupid. They have turned away from the debate and they are living the dream--the dream where their kids are healthy and where some other kid falls down in school, stricken by something that tormented America in the 1920s. Think of it as a Downton Abbey kind of nostalgia--the wealthy need not mingle with the peasants, you see, because the enclaves in which the elites live are populated with the right sort of people.

In America, you don't make progress by pointing out how dumb someone is for not listening to common sense. You make progress through the application of the law. The debate we're having right now could be ended, right quick, by the simple delivery of a vaccination law to the American people. It would save lives. It would need to come fully funded with no tricks for the hicks and no special exemption for the super rich of Malibu, California.

Anti-intellectualism is on a roll right now. If you ignore what we know to be true about medicine, economics, and the environment, you can take control of Congress and get on television and be taken seriously in this country. That's the media's shameful ignorance and nothing more.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Expertise is Just Another Word For Bullshit






This confirms an old bias of mine:


Study after study has shown that people enjoy a wine more the more the pay for it. If someone believes a wine to be of high quality—if they view its producer as truly high-end—it ends up tasting better to them. “Marketers cannot assume,” the authors of one 2008 study in the Journal of Wine Economics wrote, “that intrinsic product attributes, even when experienced, will be weighted and interpreted accurately by consumers.” Since price is a strong predictor of enjoyment, one could make the argument that the wine industry is actually set up according to a certain logic: People pay more to buy the products they end up enjoying more.For most of the 20th century, California’s vineyards were viewed as inferior to Europe’s.


A drinker's preconceptions, as those wine economists noted, shape his or her experience. In a 2001 study that is so outrageous as to appear apocryphal, all 54 tasters—some of them professed experts—were fooled into thinking that a white wine was actually red. All it took to dupe them was a few drops of red food-coloring, which were used to make one of the two glasses of the same white wine take on a different tint. (That finding is not as dispiriting as one wine journal's 2009 paper that found that one in four subjects preferred dog food to some pâtés—but it’s close.)



In other words, the expertise of snooty people is revealed to be a game of bullshit. How this can be expanded to understand the mystique wrapped in the cloak of bullshit that's behind the Pono music player, vinyl records and vintage guitars is one for the scholars to work out.





I have always been skeptical of people who push things in your face because they are authorities and experts. Really? And how do you reconcile that with the fact that independent verification usually reveals expertise to be nonexistent?





Oh, and don't get me started on Baby Boomers, man.

Monday, January 5, 2015

They Can't Find the Philae Lander




When it comes to space and scientific exploration, you have to keep it boring so that you won't capture the interest of the general human population. Things like this should be played out behind closed doors. The let down is just a little too much...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There is But One Use For Graphene




If you make an innovative, game-changing scientific advancement in anything, always remember one thing:

In addition to its potential uses in electronics, graphene might have applications in water treatment, oil spill clean-up and even in the production of thinner condoms.

It's all about whether or not your product can be commercialized for widespread use by people who just haven't found a condom thin enough for their own personal comfort.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Space Rays and Mutant Cherry Trees




Holy cow. What's going on here?

To everyone’s surprise, however, a few of these seeds did sprout into saplings, at least one of which grew to a height of around thirteen feet in just four years—another surprise, say the botanists. “It is difficult for us to judge why this has happened, but one reason the tree has grown so fast may be related to space rays,” Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a scientist at the University of Tsukuba, told the South China Morning Post. The tree was starting to sound like the arboreal version of the Fantastic Four, who acquired their own amazing powers during a ride aboard a rocket ship. Some suggested that the tree’s premature blossoming, as well as the fact that its flowers have only five petals each (the parent tree’s flowers typically have thirty), had similarly sci-fi explanations.

Keep those space rays away from lizards, I guess. I don't understand how such a mutation could happen and not cause people to panic, but there you have it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Not Controversial Because It's Dumb




The damage that bullshit does to our society is evident all around us. Witness the decision by Chili's to cancel a fundraiser for Autism because the people they partnered with persist in spreading bullshit far and wide:


In recent decades the decision of whether or not parents should vaccinate their children has become controversial because some have linked vaccinations to autism. Many opponents of vaccinations base their beliefs on a 1998 study that was declared fraudulent by a leading British medical journal. 


The NAA says the link between autism and vaccination mentioned on its site is based on "parent reports." 


"Though published mainstream science fails to acknowledge a causal link to any of these specific exposures, it's important that parental accounts be carefully considered," says the NAA on its website. 



It is not controversial. It's anti-intellectualism that ignores basic science and plays into the idea that people are "elite and special" and "care more than other parents" when they withhold vaccines from their kids. There really and truly are people who, by virtue of the fact that they make a little more money than everyone else, think that their own participation in the gene pool is an accident and that they have been bred to be superior than the lower class people who end up going to the same schools their special and talented and wonderful kids go to. 





They shop at Whole Foods and pay more for the same groceries that come from the same distribution centers in California and Florida that everyone else's groceries come from. They form their own self-deluding block of know-nothings who do not understand the basic history of science and medicine. They're dumbasses and they don't realize the danger they're putting everyone else in by believing their own lies.


The NAA site also mentions that unvaccinated children have been diagnosed with autism.


Which also means nothing because, you know, science and whatnot. If people actually cared about kids and stopped trying to make themselves appear to be smarter and more concerned than the imaginary people they compete with on a daily basis, you wouldn't have a resurgence of measles and whooping cough. You'd have properly vaccinated children living free and clear of the ravages of childhood diseases.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Space Program Dies a Little More




Another day, another stupid political struggle between adversaries, and space exploration takes yet another hit.




It would be encouraging if the Russians and the Americans could establish a single agency, independent of their own governments, and accept private and public investment in developing the kinds of technologies that emerge naturally from the space program. They could accept fees for putting satellites in order or for repairs and other missions. And this agency could continue to work their governments at home fall apart.

Oh well.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rich Lowry Gets it Right




I don't think I have ever agreed with Rich Lowry (in the New York Post!) about anything, ever, but I agree with him about this:

In a feat that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, the anti-vaccine movement has managed to breathe life into nearly vanquished childhood diseases.


It took all the ingenuity and know-how we are capable of to find safe, effective ways to dramatically diminish diseases like measles and whooping cough in the developed world; it took all the hysteria and willful ignorance we are capable of to give them a boost. A developer of the measles vaccine, Dr. Samuel Katz, says the question “is not whether we shall see a world without measles, but when.”


Not if Jenny McCarthy has anything to say about it. The former Playboy model and current co-host of “The View” is a leading light of the anti-vaccine movement. She has a boy with autism-like symptoms that she is convinced were caused by the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). You can credit her passion for her child, sympathize with her heartbreak — and still cringe at her wholly irrational cause.

Now, Lowry does not go so far as to decry the anti-intellectualism and anti-science buffoons in the conservative movement, but that's okay. The shocking thing here is that you have a conservative pundit attacking from the position of believing in science. So, about that whole climate change thing...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hating Science Will Only Make Your Kid Sicker




There isn't anything surprising about this story. The return of diseases that we stamped out long ago is not exactly how the 21st Century was supposed to go. I figured that, by now, at least, we'd have dispensed with the anti-science and anti-vaccination arguments. Guess again.

When people who think they are smart are exposed for being dumbfucks, this is what they do. They double down and they don't care if their kids get hurt. That's a megalomania that has driven the world forever. Catching someone doing something dumb makes them either admit it or enter into denial and self-delusion. These are the times of self-delusion, and the irresponsible people who tout anti-vaccination ideas are always going to win a certain skeptical percentage of the population.

Facts and evidence aren't worth much anymore.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fatwa Against Going to Mars




Even though Islam has no central authority, someone is going to take this the wrong way:

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- The Oscar-nominated film "Gravity" traces the harrowing tale of astronaut Ryan Stone after a mission goes horribly wrong. She's lost in space and struggles to try to make her way back to Earth.


"Gravity" is just a film. Imagine a similar real-life scenario: Would there be any chance of survival?


That's a concern for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments, or GAIAE, the United Arab Emirates' religious watchdog, for anyone who wishes to travel to Mars. The GAIAE has issued a fatwa, or an official Islamic ruling, to warn Muslims against a Mars mission.


So far, the UAE has supported space travel. Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments teamed up with Richard Branson's Virgin group to create Virgin Galactic to provide spaceflights for tourists, starting this year. But a mission to Mars, it seems, is one step too far.


Religion should not have anything to do with who goes to Mars and whether or not they will be punished for following their dreams. My opinion is that there won't be any actual "one way" trips to Mars because people will get there and, once bored, will suddenly pine for home and plead for a "rescue mission." The general consensus will be, "let's go get the poor sucker who didn't know what he or she was in for." And then, a trillion dollars later, some confused person will breathlessly tell us what it was like to go on a one-way trip to Mars and come back.





Or something stupid like that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are You Dumber Than Andrea Peyser?




Have you heard? Al Gore is fat.

Andrea Peyser is convinced that because it has been cold, there is no global warming.

Forget about trying to explain how climate change has nothing to do with whether or not the weather is unpleasant right now--you just cannot get past the fact that some people are stupid on purpose. If the climate all over the globe has been thrown for a loop and if things have begun to fundamentally shift in varying directions, then the data would seem to indicate the climate is changing. The permafrost in Alaska is melting and the glaciers in Europe are disappearing. This was the summer to be in Greenland. Oh, and the jet stream shifted, making the world's climate shift with it.

Why any of this is about Al Gore is beyond me. There really is no debate--it's well past time to start thinking about alternatives to turning the planet into a greenhouse where everything begins to shift and change in response to human activity.

Peyser is proof you can get a job in the media--at America's most ridiculous newspaper, The New York Post--and know nothing at all.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Jade Rabbit Says Goodnight to Humanity




The Jade Rabbit is the Chinese rover sent to study the moon. It was supposed to last for a few more months but it has shut down and said a heartfelt "goodnight" to the people of Earth. In other words, the damned thing has quit working.

This is all being handled with the weirdly poetic (and probably poorly translated) prose of the Chinese space agency and the press handlers that are trying to put a positive spin on the demise of this expensive piece of hardware. To my way of thinking, when a totalitarian government tries to work with poetry and human emotions, it all comes out sounding like someone has been allowed to empty their bizarre ideas into exactly the wrong forum for discussion.

Perhaps I am expressing a preference for the hard-assed coldness of NASA, which abandoned anything imaginative two generations ago, but still. The Chinese are being rather strange about their contribution to the space junk race.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Drinks Tap Water Anymore?




I am just as amazed as anyone else--why isn't this the biggest story on the news?

Try to imagine New York or California dealing with a situation like this: The tap water's only good for toilets, not drinking, washing, cooking or showering; more than a dozen people have been hospitalized for complaints related to water that's been contaminated with a somewhat mysterious chemical; and residents wait in line for bottled water -- or for ice to melt -- in order to have something to drink. 


That's been life since Thursday in West Virginia's capital city, Charleston, where 300,000 people were left without safe water -- again, except for toilet flushing -- after chemicals contaminated the Elk River. Some of the taps have started coming back on; cleanup and testing are underway, according to the news reports on Monday. But the spill, which has been attributed to a leak in a chemical-storage tank not far upriver from the city's water treatment plant, continues to paralyze Charleston.

Now I get the fact that people consume drinking water radically different than they did twenty or thirty years ago--bottled water has become ubiquitous. Drinking tap water is something someone who owns their own well might enjoy but I haven't had tap water in ages. We buy bottled water and drink it regularly, both at home and wherever we go. But clean, safe drinking water is essential for cooking, unless a person buys it by the gallon or uses a large bottled water dispenser. You absolutely have to have it in order to survive for very long. You cannot expect any community to tolerate the loss of their clean supply of drinking water for more than a few days.

This is what it means when we forget the lessons of Love Canal and the environmental movement of the 1970s. We had poisoned, burning rivers, tap water that would make kids sick, and whole communities inundated with birth defects and deaths from cancer and Americans rallied to the idea that the government was supposed to be a watchdog and companies were not to be trusted. Then came the 1980s and de-regulation.

What has happened in West Virginia is a direct result of the Reagan legacy--government is the problem, you say? The government stayed out of the way of Freedom Industries, leaving them alone since 1991 and the first Bush Administration. Look what leaving them alone got the 300,000 people exposed to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol--it got them a little bit of news coverage and not much else. You'd think the Gulf of Mexico spill, courtesy of BP, would have reinvigorated advocacy groups and raised awareness. It appears that it didn't. Drink up.That bottled water is going to have to last you, though.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ice Bound Icebreaker




I've been following the story of the various icebreakers, research ships, and whoever else is stuck in the ice off the coast of Antarctica for over a week now and I never see answers to the one question that I have:

Is any of this worth risking lives over?

As soon as it became apparent that there were going to be issues, why didn't they just get the people out of there and head home until the Southern Hemisphere's version of warmer weather arrives? Leave the damned thing there and come back and get it later.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vitamins Are a Waste of Money




Somebody's $25 billion dollar industry is likely to get a lot smaller once people realize that they're throwing their money away on vitamins. This could send shockwaves through the retail world as well--entire sections of stores are planned around vitamin supplements and displays, to say nothing of the health food industry.

Taking vitamins is an ingrained habit that reinforces positive self-identity. Reversing this could take decades. Of course, once people hear something sponsored by the vitamin industry to counteract this assault, well. You'll be living in a world full of confusion and plastic bottles.

Monday, December 16, 2013

China Owns the Moon


I don't know if the Jade Rabbit is going to paint a red star on the visible face of the moon large enough for everyone to see, but I do know this--America needs to send a rover-eating machine five times bigger than this thing and crush it to pieces. American exceptionalism cannot tolerate a world where the Chinese take possession of the moon and begin extracting moon rocks.

America is home to the most valuable moon rocks. Ours are going to be worthless if the Chinese begin sending them back to Earth by the bucket load. If you think Bitcoins are the wave of the future, think again. Our new currency should be moon rocks. American moon rocks and nothing more, platinum be damned.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cobalt-60 Kills You Dead




I love the fatalistic, passive aggressive tone that appears in this article. A thief or thieves stole a truck with some cobalt-60 radioactive material in it and they opened the container, exposing themselves to radiation. This is the opposite of what an American official would say:

The cobalt-60 was found, removed from its casing, in a rural area near the town of Hueypoxtla about 25 miles from where the truck was stolen. Jimenez suspected that curiosity got the better of the thieves and they opened the box. So far the carjackers have not been arrested, but authorities expect they will not live long.


“The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation,” he said. “They will, without a doubt, die.”

Residents of the Hueypoxtla area must be feeling safe and secure right now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Katie Couric is Shilling for the Science Deniers




Seth Mnookin deserves the credit for exposing Katie Couric's rapidly declining media gig as a front for the anti-science crowd. And I really can't add anything to what he's done to destroy Couric's reputation.

I do think there is a mindset that has taken hold--my kid is special and so am I and vaccines are the problem because we were perfectly healthy already and couldn't possibly have anything wrong with us. This is prevalent with wealthy people who are desperate to erase their common origins and relationships to the poor and the unwashed masses. If you are an East Coast media elite personality, everything about you and your kids is beyond special. If there's anything wrong, it HAS to be a vaccine or some other contaminant that got into your exceptional universe.

Your kid isn't special and neither are you. We are the sum total of our genetic makeup. Vaccinate your kids like everyone else, otherwise, they're going to mingle with the human population and get sick and die. It's really that simple.