Considerations

I have been in the process of thinking about quitting social media completely. I just find that after over ten years being on Twitter and other places that I just don’t care about that stuff anymore. I originally joined Twitter to get more news about Formula 1. Over time it turned into a place where I could get news and views from all over the world and eventually I quit my general account because whenever a politician said something Twitter would go into a meltdown and that was an inappropriate reaction to that speech. Ever since 2016 social media has been a shitty place to be.

I wonder what the impact of me leaving Twitter completely is. There isn’t anyone who desperately relies on my latest thoughts or ideas. No-one out there really cares what I think about this or that. There aren’t really many people who give a shit what I rate a film at the cinema. Mostly my musings on Twitter don’t amount to anything. No-one is bothered and it’s just for me to feel as though I have been listened to.

It’s very similar with this website. I have spent a LOT of time, and some money, on this site. I really enjoy having this site. But in the grand scheme of things it’s just for me and no-one else really cares what happens here. I use it as a place to try and get my thoughts straight along with writing stuff about some music now and then.

Part of my motivation is that I am unsure how much protection I get for airing certain views on here compared to what I do in the real world. I do believe that I should be able to say whatever I want on here. Whatever my thoughts are they don’t impact on my professional choices or how good I am at my job. I am also aware that many people are unable to separate idealised thoughts from actions in the world. I definitely believe I am right on all matters I have answers for, but there are many situations where I just do not know the answer. There are many social and political ideals where I am very happy to say – that’s pretty complicated and I am glad I don’t have to come up with an answer.

Should the internet have this level of detail about me? I know I’ve put it out there voluntarily over the last 20 years or so. I’ve had a website since around 1999, in various forms. Does it matter? Should I decide to stop it all? If I delete my Twitter account then quite of lot of this site will become full of broken links. Does that matter? What is the point of this other than a use of time that I am meant to consider – good? Currently I don’t know. I have imagined hitting that “delete” button in Twitter. The only thing stopping me is that this website has links to the Twitter account and editing them all will take an age.

Does that mean that this website is important enough to maintain all my data on the web? At the moment I don’t know. I could archive all this stuff and just have it running locally as a kind of reference memory for me. We shall see what happens over the next year or so.

La Manche

A while back I journeyed to Dover and the White Cliffs. Just went for a walk and to see what it looks like. It’s an odd feeling looking at the massive modes of transport going about their business. Fascinating. Quite a bit like watching aircraft or trains. I took a few photos as a test of my cleaning of my camera sensor. There is a small spot that I can see in photographs still but overall the result is pretty good and I am a happy chappy. I didn’t want to use a gallery for this collection as I really like the photographs. Click on one to get a, slightly, larger image.

Dover Port
Dover Port
DFDS
DFDS
There'll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
There’ll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
SS Falcon From Above
SS Falcon From Above
Wreck and Not-Wreck
Wreck and Not-Wreck
SS Falcon
SS Falcon
Langdon Bay
Langdon Bay

Tenet

I took a trip to the cinema largely because it was there and I hadn’t been in a while. I noticed that the tide was low as I drove into the car park. It’s not often I see the river that low, all of the bank was clear of water along with clear delineations of where the boats chill out. This morning I rated the film on IMDB, there is a communication explaining the rating system here.

I guess this probably needs some explanation? Tenet was the only film I vaguely wanted to see. In fact that’s a lie. I didn’t want to see it. I thought Inception was very over-rated and so I went to see Tenet as a last resort I guess. I was hoping that I would secretly find it amazing and really enjoy it. I did not. A personal recommendation to see this film concluded with the words “but it looks gorgeous, just don’t expect to understand it”. Looking gorgeous is something I can cope with so I tried it out. I think I lasted just over an hour into this THREE hour film.

I don’t care for Bond films. I don’t find them interesting or fascinating and I couldn’t give a shit about the development of the “character” or anything else. Tenet was touted as a kind of Bond film. I guess that’s not a great start. The trailers looked OK but a bit bullshit with the backwards time thing but I still thought I would give it a go. THREE hours!!

The opening act with an orchestra concert being attacked was pretty tame. I didn’t see anything that hasn’t been done before. It all looked rather pedestrian. I did note that if you are going to have people talking to each other then it’s normally a good plan to have the words they say audible. Having characters shout while in gas masks was stupid, I couldn’t understand what they were saying and this started my journey of not giving a crap. Some stuff happened. Someone died by their own hand. Then someone didn’t die. Pedestrian and boring. But, give the film a chance I will.

Secret lab. Time bullshit. Plutonium. Rich boy. Spy person extremely talented at everything that needs to be done. Time bullshit. Blonde. Glamorous settings. Speed boats. More dialogue I couldn’t hear or understand. A little more macho posturing for good effect and add a sprinkle of bullshit.

Even the road chase was a bit shit.

So, the first time I looked at my watch to see if it was worth staying in the cinema, maybe there wasn’t that long to go, was at 45 minutes. This film is THREE hours. I decided to give it another 15 minutes and see if the film improved. It did not. The time stuff was fine. It didn’t make sense with respect to the film but I could cope with that. The rest of it just felt a bit wank. The moment that prompted me to leave the cinema and return home to watch some NFL was when the man decided he had to save the blonde. This man was selected because he was fucking hardcore, he would do everything he could to complete the mission. Then he risks everything to save a woman. Just absolutely derivative and boring. I called “Time Out” and left. I think I made it just a little more than one hour into this “masterpiece” and pretty much disliked every moment. There wasn’t anything I saw that made me think – wow, this is different.

Shake Your Money Maker – Black Crowes

I’ve seen the Black Crowes twice and both times it was pretty good. The first time was at the Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park in 1991, I went to this with my sister, Angela, to see AC/DC. The Black Crowes were the first band on stage and I really enjoyed them. I don’t think I knew anything about them prior to that. I suspect that I went and bought their first album after that. I know I had the album on music cassette and then I eventually updated it to a digital copy. The second time I saw the Black Crowes was at Brixton Academy and there are three main things about that I remember most. One; I was in the pit and the crowd collapsed and that was my first experience of that. Two; I’m pretty sure the band had a lot ofwhite fairy lights above the stage and it looked pretty nice. Three; the journey back to South Kensington with SR did not go that smoothly and for some reason we ended up on a night bus heading to Edgware and it was most definitely not Sarf Ken.

This album has a very southern/country feel to it. There’s a nice gentle rolling ambience to the songs. This band’s second album never really struck me as much as the first. I have listen to this over and over. Listening to it as I write this I that the addition of keyboards and plonky piano sounds really adds to the feel. Bluesy Rock ‘n’ Roll.

There’s also a melancholy feel to some of the songs. For me I think this album is a very “summer album”. It fits with beers in the garden and a sunny day. I don’t think this would be a “shit mood” album. I can only listen to it when emotionally happy. It would upset me more if I was down a little.

Sensor Troubles

For a few years now I’ve had some dark spots on photographs I’ve taken of aircraft in the sky. These show up when I’m on full zoom on the telephoto lens and a recent trip to Headcorn really showed this up so much so that I had to edit the photographs to get rid of those dark spots. Finally I got around to searching for a solution after I eliminated it being the actual lens. The first thing is to try blowing the dust spots out with some air. This is where my troubles really began. The guide I saw said hold the camera with the sensor facing downwards and blow the air upwards into the camera body. This was attempted but without much thought as I was using a can of compressed air and had to angle the can horizontally to get the flow direction correct. A load of propellant came out of the can and sprayed into the camera body. All of this stuck to the sensor and I effectively ruined the camera.

Another searching of the internet resources led me to find a microfibre sensor wipe that might clean the sensor enough so that I can use the camera again. I was either going to spend GBP20 or so on some special wipes or I was going to have to send the camera off for a new sensor or professional clean. The twenty quid seemed worth it before going for the Amber Level response. One day later and I’ve got the camera body open with microfibre wipes in hand and I’m trying to clean the most sensitive part of the camera full in the knowledge that I might destroy it. The process completed and I now have an OK-ish camera. I still think it needs to be sent off for a proper clean but I might get away with just that rather than having to buy a new sensor. The camera is working a little better than before and the original spots are reduced. They are still there but not as prominent. I need to go somewhere I can take photos of aircraft flying to see what the background looks like.

In Poor Taste?

Perhaps as I get older I become less tolerant? I honestly don’t think that’s true. The more I learn about people and the world I am more accepting of the differences between us all. Except hate. I think I expect everyone to be as tolerant as me when I know a lot aren’t. For once, the golden rule applies pretty well: be nice. This should be followed by one of my mum’s favourite sayings which was: if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. I do believe you are allowed to think whatever you want but your actions should always follow the golden rule. What I’m trying to say is, this communication might not be as bad as I think, some of you might look at it and shrug, I just found the subject in poor taste.

I was playing Gran Turismo Sport yesterday and racing online. The races this week are GT3 cars around the Red Bull Ring in Austria. It’s a pretty fast track with some corners that really require you to cope with understeer with plenty of downhill braking and off camber. There’s also two corners where early power on the exit will have you over-steering. I’m not sure it’s a favourite but it is a good challenge.

Corners 1 and 2 require gentle power on exit, definitely avoid the kerb on the inside and maybe short-shift to avoid oversteer. Corner 3 has downhill braking and is tighter than you think, everytime!

Anyway, when the entry list came up on the screen I was a little [not shocked] bothered by two of the PSN names that people had chosen. Now, I often have to remind myself that it is likely that most players are not as old as me and most haven’t been playing as long as I have. You can tell by my PSN name, Kertz, that I got in early when selecting usernames. It’s like my personal email address which is just my name and zero numbers, being an early adopter has its uses sometimes. Here’s the entry list:

Playstation Network Names
Playstation Network Names

Maybe people think it’s a giggle to have a funny name? I’ve seen plenty with 69 in the number. Qualifying in second place is Jack-T-Ripper1. The addition of the 1 is curious and might mean that Jack-T-Ripper was already taken? I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have your PlayStation identity the same as a serial killer of women, maybe it shows a deep lack of respect? Maybe it’s a laugh and I just don’t get it? If I think about some of the lyrics to songs I like then naming yourself Jack The Ripper isn’t that bad. Oh dear, maybe I’m old.

Then, qualifying in 11th place is a certain Wernher_V2_Braun. For me this is more worrying but again, maybe I’m just being a little sensitive. This Dutch player has taken a name based on a user of slave labour in the second world war. Yes, Von Braun created the technology to launch the American space programme but he also used slave labour in his factories. I do not know whether he had Nazi ideologies but he is a very complex character. For me, the fact that the Dutch player included the V2 as part of their name is the most disturbing part. They could have had F1 which was the engine that took man to the moon, but no, they chose the Nazi ballistic missile called the V2, as though they are paying homage to that programme.

As much as how we present ourselves shouldn’t change the opinions people form of us, it is what they do. The human brain makes judgements really quickly and it’s hard to get away from that. Does it matter whether I wear a suit or not? Does that really affect my ability to perform my job? No. Should I wear a suit? I don’t think so, but the image creates a power. It’s why we have uniforms for those in positions of implied power. So, are these two people assholes? I don’t know. I would like to think they are not, but if you think it’s OK to name yourself after a serial killer or a man responsible for the deaths of thousands with allusions to those deaths then perhaps you shouldn’t be advertising your thoughts. Maybe this is a case of internet-balls. I don’t know. I honestly believe you should be able to think what you want, but externally you should be nice. I think I find these identities distasteful while at the same time thinking I’m wrong for thinking that. Argh, conflicted.

Bioresonance

People like simple answers to complicated questions, it’s part of how our brains work. We would much rather be told one thing rather than having to learn about a multitude of different things. For example, as I’ve been reading in The Angry Chef book recently, a diet where you cut out carbohydrates is a simple answer to a simple question. The real answer of eat everything in moderation and exercise is harder and less simple. A simple answer, even when it is wrong, will stick in your heads more than any nuanced argument which takes everything into account. It’s a bit like the world at the moment. Economies around the globe are crashing due to lockdowns and so governments are trying to open up the economies again. This means encouraging people to do normal things, go shopping, eat out, go away on holiday, buy houses etc. But, governments also know that this will lead to an increase in the infection rate and people’s deaths. Every government is now weighing up the balance between deaths and poverty due to economic collapse and deaths from this disease. The infection factors are going to be quite complex but the UK government keeps coming out with short phrases designed to confuse, sorry help, us remember what to do. There are no guarantees that will stop us getting ill. All we can do is minimise risk. Wash your hands, wear a face mask so you don’t infect others, keep your distance etc. Because humans like simple answers products which make stupid claims exist and make money for their lying owners.

So we come on to Bioresonance Therapy. Or rather the claims made by a UK website about the product that they sell. I’ve printed out their homepage and have it here, just in case one day the website goes away and I can’t get links to their pages and comments. I can’t remember how I found this page, this has been a draft on this site for about two years and the website still exists so let’s go through the text shall we? I shall be referring to SCAM quite a bit and you should know this stands for Supplements, Complimentary and Alternative Medicines [thanks to Dr M Crislip for the term].

“Bioresonance” – a term that sounds sciency and you know the word bio and you know the word resonance. You probably have some vague recollection of these terms in school or people using them to describe proper science effects.

“Therapy” – SCAM artists love the word therapy because it sounds like something real is happening and they won’t use the term medicine because it’s regulated and if you claim to have a medical benefit then you have to prove it properly.

“Energy medicine” – what? This is a nonsensical term which isn’t protected by law and can be applied to anything. It’s also vague enough that people will interpret it and use their own definitions. If you want energy then you eat food. There isn’t any other way you can get energy into your body. Unless you are thinking radiation energy which is likely dangerous.

The first paragraph on this page says that you should have normal medicine as well as getting treated by this thing, whatever it is. Apparently bioresonance has benefits and the device has been used since the 1970s. I do think that if it worked then it would be available in doctor surgeries and maybe even in hospitals but I must be mistaken in thinking that those places want the best for their patients. We are then told that this device was featured in a documentary with Ty Bolinger. The documentary was called “The Truth about Cancer” – I can assure you without even looking that this is a dangerous claim to make and the documentary probably goes on to explain that you can help improve your condition with lots of bullshit stuff that doesn’t work. I’ve looked at two things; their website and their twitter feed. The website is horrific and I didn’t even scroll all the way down to bottom of the home page. Search for Ty Bolinger for yourself and see. The following tweet is on the timeline and if you want to take medical advice from a company that doesn’t understand medicine then it’s up to you I guess. They are killing people. This endorsement isn’t the best, I’m surprised that Bioresonance mention it on their homepage.

Then there is a claim that 18,000 BICOM devices have been sold worldwide. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t really seem that many for a product that is meant to work. Unless they are super expensive. This is an appeal to popularity. The idea that lots of people use these things and so it must work or be useful. This is bullshit. Here are some handy little reminders for you: some people are stupid, Mr Blobby was a Christmas number one – never trust popularity.

And we are on to paragraph two. There’s some general stuff about bad things like disease and parasites. Apparently parasites are a large cause of many conditions that people suffer. I honestly wasn’t aware of this. It’s bullshit. But the words PATHOGEN and PARASITE sound super scary don’t they. The BICOM device uses “energy medicine”, literally not a thing, to eliminate these invaders [another scary word] without the use of drugs – now I’m curious what other claims they are going to make. Apparently these devices have been around for over 35 years [appeal to longevity] and so they must work. The devices are made by Regumed???? I think this is a contraction of Regulated and Medicine but I prefer to pronounce it to rhyme with legume.

Paragraph Three doesn’t really say much. It just says that we will learn more by looking through the website. And that is what we shall do. Next is the video which I broke down in March.

I just looked at the product page for this website and I am in shock. A quick glance down the rest of this front page shows me that all the language is vague. There are no concrete claims within and saying things like “help the body help itself” is literally meaningless. It sounds as though it’s a good thing but it doesn’t mean anything from a marketing point of view and so we could say that eating an apple with help the body help itself. Just breathing does the same thing. The page goes on to say that we feel run-down or tired or suffer from electrosmog [whatever the fuck that is]. Everyone feels like that sometimes and it’s a natural part of life. The causes are going to be very vague and there’s not a lot we can do about it. I am actually overcome but the sheer amount of crap on the homepage of this product. When you have a homoeopath inventing new stuff you just know it’s bullshit. I honestly feel sorry for people who read this page and think that they will benefit from the information within. This is a SCAM product.

Now, here’s the thing that shocked me. The “product” page. There are four “popular” products. I’ll list the first and the last.

What the fucking fuck. This is a lot of money for something that doesn’t work. No wonder they’ve only sold 18,000 around the world. I guess you also get training in the bullshit. You get to understand how it all works and then I suppose you have to charge the people you want to treat. It’s going to take quite a bit to make this money back. If you are willing to spend this much money on a device that doesn’t work then you are going to be bought into everything it has to offer. I like to think my home cinema kit sounds nice, but I don’t really know, I just know how much I spent on the amplifier and so I do my best to think it sounds better than it possibly is. I also do the same with wine. If I spend a lot of money on a bottle of wine then I believe it tastes better – it doesn’t, there are plenty of studies that show that wine tasting is bullshit – it’s best to buy a cheap bottle and get drunk.

For £15,000 you can have a B32 Bicom Prevent! The very first sentence on this product description says it uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can see what I know about TCM in this communication. You don’t need to read any further, you already know that this is a crock of shit.

As a device it looks nice but I can assure you it doesn’t do anything real. For GBP27,000 you can have the following device of gizmos that doesn’t actually do anything for your “patients” or for you and is based purely on un-scientific principles. I give you the “BB324/B32 BICOM optima® Therapy Device with EAP Test Part”. I am seriously in shock at how much this stuff costs and I worry about all those people who have bought into this crap.

Click on the image to see what conditions they aim to improve. Number 469 is “nose bleed”. FFS. This device can help you if you have a nose bleed. I think I need to get out and go for a run. There’s only so much of this horrifying quackery I can take. I am terrified that people make money out of this. I can’t stand the idea of people using this device to take advantage of the ill. The problems with this particular website are legion. I’ve just thought about sending information about the claims on this website to the Advertising Standards Authority but using a Whois service this website is run in Germany and so the ASA have no power over this site. Now, they do have a UK address so I might see what recourse I have to get them to prove any claims. I have to look for specific claims on the site. These might not exist. There are certain phrases that don’t really mean much and so a carefully written website can imply a lot of things but be legally acceptable. I’ll look into this later. I need a break from this SCAM. I had hoped to discuss more of their claims and pages I am honestly still in shock at the cost of the devices.

Flight Comparisons

I did a thing. I used Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and X-Plane 11 to compare the flying and things. The plan was to fly from Biggin Hill to the Manston Airfield [which is currently shut]. While flying in MSFS I flew over Brands Hatch, my house, my place of work, Leeds Castle, Canterbury and then landed at Manston. I recorded the screen for each of these segments and uploaded them to YouTube. There is some information which needs to be released about the set up first I suppose because this wasn’t an even playing field. I will do that after the take off videos. Now, MSFS doesn’t have any particularly fast aircraft or military planes at the moment. So I used a Pitts Special in that game and my favourite T-7 in X-Plane. The order of the videos will always be MSFS and then X-Plane but it should be obvious from the aircraft involved.

Biggin Hill Take Off MSFS
Biggin X-Plane

The mechanical set-up. The PC has a Core i5 processor running at 3.7GHz. There is 16GB RAM, the graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super, the monitor is a 27″ 16:9 1080P thing, I’m not convinced for the need of a higher resolution or size. I’ve got two speakers running a boring stereo output, I’m not that bothered about full 5.1 for the PC, I don’t use it enough. I have a Saitek X52 HOTAS system and that’s about it.

While flying east-ish from Biggin Hill I could see a golf course and realised it was the one near Brands Hatch so I decided to flyby the motor racing circuit and see what it looked like. Here are the results for both simulators.

Brands Hatch MSFS
Brands Hatch X-Plane

My comments on Brands Hatch would be that both simulators manage it quite well but MSFS does put a building on the Brabham Straight. That would be tricky if you want to have a motor race but I guess this is just a simulation and if I really cared a lot about Brands Hatch I could make my own custom scenery for X-Plane.

Some words here are defining the software set up. For MSFS2020 I have essentially bought the deluxe version. I did this because I was quite convinced that I would pay for the extras in micro-transactions anyway so I might as well do it up front. Other than that I haven’t done anything to MSFS. I whacked all the graphics settings to the far right and just let the PC see where it can take me. For X-Plane 11 there are extras and these should probably be explained. The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk is a bought add-on made by AOA Simulations. There are plenty of free aircraft you can get for X-Plane, a quick look at the downloads website shows 1,128 aircraft for X-Plane 11. I also have lots of after market scenery libraries installed. These allow third parties to create scenery using standard models. There are 83 directories in my Custom Scenery folders, some of these will be airports and some will be libraries. I also have TrueEarth installed which is a paid for scenery collection of the UK. Great Britain South cost around 30 Australian dollars. So, given the time and money I have invested in X-Plane I am probably quite biased towards that, the sunk-cost fallacy.

In the next couple of videos you, probably, won’t know where my house is and you might not know where I work. If you do you will see the differences in this. These videos take you from the Medway Valley four villages over Maidstone and close to Mote Park. More comments after these then.

The Commute MSFS2020
A Faster Commute X-Plane 11

I’ve just changed my embedding technique and so the videos might look different from the one above, I’ll see once this is published. In MSFS my house doesn’t exist. The shadow of it does but the actual 3D model isn’t there. My work place has buildings but they aren’t the right shape. In X-Plane my house is modelled in 3D and my work place has buildings of the correct shape but not the correct colour. Remember that the X-Plane scenery is a paid extra. I know that the original scenery was just shadows on the ground for my village.

Next up is a flight and stall turn over Leeds Castle. Leeds Castle is near the village of Leeds and not the city in the North. It’s a pretty castle although I don’t think I have ever been inside the actual buildings. I think in the following videos it is clear that X-Plane does the better job, once again it has a scenery pack installed for Great Britain.

Leeds Castle – MSFS 2020
Leeds Castle X-Plane (with add-ons)

As I headed east I was reasonably sure I would land at Manston on the eastern tip of Kent. The last time I ever flew in a Chipmunk was from RAF Manston when that still existed. Along the way is Canterbury, the home of the Church Of England and other such religious paraphernalia. I wondered what the city would look like as I passed overhead. I had not seen this before in X-Plane and was quite curious.

Canterbury MSFS2020
Canterbury X-Plane 11

Again I think it’s clear that X-Plane nails the cathedral but I have to point out that I have paid extra for the scenery pack of the island of Great Britain. I would be annoyed if it didn’t look better. The last two things then are landing at Manston.

Manston MSFS2020
Manston X-Plane 11

You’ll notice that MSFS2020 was a little busy with other aircraft on the runway. Hence I landed late and on the right side of the runway. You can turn off other players or you can see them all. X-Plane has the option to have other people flying in the sim, you can also have AI aircraft and set their aggressiveness for combat. You can also have real world traffic in X-Plane and I’ve tried that and it seems to work quite well, depending on the ground ADS-B coverage from a particular database.

My overall thoughts. I think I prefer X-Plane. This is probably for a number of reasons and not all of them might be valid. A lot of this comes down to the sunk-cost fallacy. I’ve spent more time on X-Plane, I’ve spent more money on X-Plane, I prefer the military jets, I have no inclination to program a flight computer, I like shooting stuff. I will say that I think the clouds in MSFS look a lot better and they might not kill the PC like they do in X-Plane. I am sure that over time there will be a lot of extras and add-ons for MSFS and these will take a little while to become ubiquitous. I think I’ll see if I can lock the chase view in MSFS because I’m not so keen on the camera always staying horizontal, I prefer the default chase view in X-Plane. I’ve a feeling that X-Plane is more detailed in its settings and more customisable, this is generally what happens with non-Microsoft stuff, you have the chance to tinker more. MSFS is a good simulator and with full settings it wrecks my PC which is a pretty decent PC so I would expect the graphics to look good. X-Plane just has that edge for me.

There’s a part of me that wants to be snobby about all this. I want to write that X-Plane is for proper flight sim people and that MSFS is just a tiny bit “arcade” and that if you really want to fly then you would have had X-Plane, P3D, or DCS or other such simulator because you would have found them. Me being snobby is my brain taking full command of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. This goes along the lines of “you aren’t a real XXXXX unless you do YYYYY”. So, you aren’t a true Scotsman unless you are born in Scotland. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear a kilt and have your own tartan [which is a bullshit thing made up by the Victorians]. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear nothing under your kilt. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless. . . . . and so on. Now, sometimes there are qualifications and so on that can prove you are a particular thing but even then some people might say “oh, you aren’t a real XXXXX until you’ve had YYYY happen”. J Clarkson uses this when describing motorists, he says you aren’t a real motoring fan unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Clearly he is using the fallacy to great comic effect, along with being a bit of a prick. People seek legitimacy through the things they do. Many will say, especially those with internet balls, that you aren’t a real XXXX unless you have YYYY. This is bollocks. I have to remind myself a lot about this when I’m thinking. I actively work to make sure that I consider this and work through how my brain thinks.

So, my conclusion is: I really like X-Plane and will probably “fly” in that more than I will MSFS. But, if you’ve bough MSFS and you like playing that then good on you and I hope you enjoy the time you have.

The Vigil

Because the cinemas are so quiet at the moment it is actually quite nice to go there. They’ve got themselves sorted for Covid quite well with hand sanitiser, face masks, wipes etc. The cinema I go to has a 5 people only in the toilets but you can’t actually see in the toilets to know if there are 5 people so I’m not sure how that will work on a busy day. A lot of the current crop of films out are reissues. The cinemas or film companies are trying to get the world used to the cinema again by getting us to see our “favourite” films. Amusingly a lot of these films are ones I couldn’t be bothered to see again. They are pushing Inception quite a bit ready for the release of Tenet but I hated Inception and won’t be going to see Tenet. I’ve just tried to create a hyperlink to my review of Inception but that term doesn’t exist on this site! I’ve just looked up when that film came out and it was in 2010 which is before this site existed, my dark ages I guess. I can tell you that a friend recently asked if Inception was brilliant or bullshit and my answer was “bullshit”.

The state of the tide of the river Medway was high. It wasn’t completely high tide as I could see some mud bank on the eastern side, the river was also flowing seaward quite fast and so I think the tide was waning. There are times when the river looks still, times when it flows the “wrong” way and times when it looks too fast. These coincide with whatever the tide is doing at that time, but with a small delay the further upstream you get.

River Medway
River Medway – I was going to walk further along for the picture but it was near film time.

After watching this film I rated it on IMDB. There’s a whole convention about what the ratings actually mean and descriptions of such are in this communication. When I can then access my PC I tweet the IMDB result. I gave up Twitter on my phone and so I now only check it when I can access the flight simulator. The result is below:

So, things. I considered walking out of this film but thought it would be a little rude so I stayed until the end. This film was a “horror” and I’m not really into that. Once you give up all belief in supernatural you can then logic away the scary shit and just watch the film for giggles. I can remember being a teenager and seeing The Omen, Poltergeist, Amityville and so on and they really disturbed me. There was something about those films that really shook me deep. I think I knew they weren’t real but the playfullness of the filmmakers affected me, which I guess is the point. While watching The Vigil I had the following thoughts:

I am bored and this film is boring me.

This guy is getting paid USD400 for reading Psalms and he is failing to do that. He made an agreement but isn’t holding up his side of the bargain. I don’t know what the rules are concerning a Shomer but he’s not doing anything. A Shomer is there to read to the corpse and ease the spirit on its journey. How long does this journey take? If the Shomer stops reading for a toilet break is that allowed? Must the reading be constant? What are the rules? Overall this seems a silly idea to me. Anyway, the main character isn’t doing his job.

Overall I thought this film was poor. It could have been really good. But it used the sound and music to increase tension when it would have been harder but more rewarding to really explore the relationship between this character and his religion and the traditions it has. I can’t decide if this film was a cheap attempt at horror or a real exploration of the psyche!

This Shomer has left his protected bubble of Hasidic Jews in New York. We learn why he left I guess and he is part of a support group for people who leave this oppressive regime. He suffers guilt and problems stemming from a traumatic incident along with leaving the community. We learn that he has seen things and takes tablets to help him control his visions. So, this film is about the psychotic breakdown of a man leaving a religious organisation and the mess that the Hasidic caused him. He is troubled by his own demon and it comes to him while he is [not] doing this Shomer job. I might read a little more about this film and, if I’m lucky, it will be a metal breakdown rather than a horror movie. I won’t be letting you know though!

If you want to know some more about strange religious behaviour then just read an article on the Eruv. It’s a piece of string that “extends” the boundary of your property so that you can go outside and do things on the days when God insists you stay inside your property. Why God allows this loophole is beyond me, it’s all rather made-up.

Will Not Do What It Says On The Tin

Since the end of May I have been trying to lose weight [more formally – mass] and I’ve been doing this using methods which have worked in the past. Namely, logging all my food and doing plenty of exercise. It’s the only way I am able to do this, by keeping to a decent calorie limit and burning the fat by exercise. Reducing my food intake will only lose so much weight. I think the body gets used to the reduction in food and so initially there will be mass-loss but over time this effect dies down and I’m in the stage now where the reduced calorific diet maintains me but exercise is the only way to burn the fat. I’m doing my best to do this in a healthy way. I’m eating a decent mixture of foods, some fruit and lots of fibre. I understand that if there’s one thing everyone could eat more of to improve health it’s fibre. Yes, I get bored and some days I hate it. Sometimes I cheat and order pizza or kebab but I accept that and know that I can get going again and be on my way to my goal in a week or so.

I have met a friend and eaten out, I have also been quite drunk and done all the normal things I would do in my life. The main thing is to try and keep going. Losing mass is a mental battle and not really a physical one. I know. When I’m feeling unhealthy I try to feel better by eating, which makes me feel more unhealthy and so on. If losing weight was easy then everyone would be doing it all the time. There wouldn’t be any obesity. But, to coin the Ben Goldacre phrase, I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that. I’ve been lucky that the lockdown has happened and by the end of May I had reached a rock-bottom level and was willing to try and change my habits. I have no idea how long this will last. It’s a mental health issue more than anything else. I have lost 7KG since the beginning of June. So, roughly a stone for you Daily Mail readers. It’s taken three months to lose that. Three months of mostly boring food and being good, three months of plenty of exercise, three months of not having to be at work. I don’t know where the motivation came from. I don’t know how to keep it.

BMI End May
BMI End May

So, at the end of May the NHS was encouraging me to lose 4.6kg. This isn’t something I looked at then, I’ve just used the site now as I wanted to know what my BMI is. I do understand that BMI is an imperfect measure but it’ll will do. Now, at the end of August, the NHS is still wanting me to lose 4kg, even though I have lost the original 4kg. Maybe they are using sensible targets which are achievable for people?

BMI End August
BMI End August

So, the purpose of this communication isn’t to brag or go on about mass-loss. It’s more about this next level of bullshit I’m about to discuss. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to record my food intake and keep my food energy to a sensible level over the last three months. Now, I don’t pay for the extra version of this app, I use it for what I want and I don’t need other features, much like the Strava app that I use to record my exercise. The MFP app has adverts on the “front page” and also what it calls blog posts. These are mostly easy to ignore but every now and then something will catch my eye and I can’t help giving it a read. The advert that prompted this communication was about some form of bullshit but my interest was piqued.

I have been and looked at this website. The above image is just that, an image and so if you want to watch the video you’ll have to go to the website. As you can see I’ve watched 55 seconds and I nearly punched the monitor when he said that his name was Eli rather than pronouncing it Eeeli. So, there are red flags without having to go too far into this bullshit.

Red Flag – Qi. Sometimes called Chi. This is a massive red flag. Qi is meant to be the flow of energy around the human body. When this energy flow gets interrupted you will get ill. To know where this energy flows is important and balancing your energy will mean making sure that your energy flows correctly around your body. The important thing here is that Qi doesn’t exist. There aren’t secret channels of energy flowing around your body. This is an entirely made up mode of biology from a time when the human body was a mystery. If you have any form of literature or people talking about Qi the safest thing to do is to throw it in the bin or walk away like Homer hiding in a hedge.

Red Flag – Immune Health. You can’t boost your immune system and generally it works without any external interference. If your immune system doesn’t work properly then it is quite likely you will already be in hospital and undergoing amazing treatment from proper sciency stuff.

Red Flag – protect against COVID. Fuck this site for using this to make you think you can protect yourself using “ancient” wisdom. The best thing you can do is wash your hands, wear a mask and stay away from other people.

Red Flag – supercharge your immune system. Literally not a thing you can do. We don’t have any real control over our immune system. It is just there. This is a wank statement.

Red Flag – ancient wisdom. This is the best of all. Ancient Wisdom is not a thing at all. Things were not better in the old days. People died all the time of curable diseases. Here’s some things we’ve done recently; germ theory is about 150 years old, immunisation is about the same age, antibiotics are about 80 years old, small pox is eliminated, leprosy can be cured. Science bitches – it works.

Slightly further down the page I can sign up for acupressure hints and tips. Acupuncture is based on the understanding that sticking needles into your skin and help unblock the flow of Qi and help you recover to full health again. What mechanism does this use? It doesn’t. Acupuncture doesn’t work. It doesn’t do what it says.

Having dismissed this site as utter bullshit in the first few lines I then went to the home page to see what claims there are. I was interested to see what else this person thinks they can help you with. I wanted to know how much money it costs.

There is a claim that a newspaper declared Eli the Qi Gong teacher of the year. I mean, sure. If you are the best of the nothing that you teach then I am not impressed. Also, you’ve been named by a local newspaper. I don’t think that counts as anything special.

Through my online Qi Breaks™ Online platform you’ll learn the secrets to self-healing, pain management, stress reduction and higher energy levels with simple, easy-to-follow practices designed for everyone regardless of experience and age.

https://www.qiwitheli.com/

This on the site made me curious. I think much of the site does. There is so much bullshit here that I keep being reminded of the Apocalypse Now! quotation:

Willard: Oh man, the shit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.

I clicked through to the Qi Breaks minisite and was confronted with a lot of stuff about ancient wisdom. I will tell you that some people in the ancient times were clever but then again, some people were stupid. There isn’t really a thing of ancient wisdom. It’s just a clever marketing ploy to make you think that this stuff has been around for so long so it must be correct. In the previous video Eli claims that there is documented evidence that some people lived to be 80 or even 100. I mean, there probably were. But it doesn’t seem to be that great since we live that long nowadays. Some people even live to 120. It would be interesting to chat with this person about life expectancy and explain that it has been generally going up over the last two hundred years as we learn more science. If Eli wants documented evidence why doesn’t he use the bible? It’s got stories of people living a long time. Maybe we should do what they did?

So, Qi Breaks looks like an online video thing that you pay for. It’s meant to help you do lots of non-specific things that are self-reported and not really measurable. This means that it will probably “work” for you. You spend the money. Do as you are told and then you will say that you feel better. If you don’t think it works then you just quit and so the testimonials will always come from people with positive reviews. Are they really any better or have they really boosted their immune system? Unlikely.

Eli claims to have a “deep healing Qi Gong” method that you can pay extra for. Here’s what he says:

Deep Healing Qi Gong™ uses practices known to have specific impacts on the emotional, physical and mental levels – the integrated body’s Qi (life-force energy). It is rooted both in ancient Bhuddist and Taoist systems as well as in modern energy healing methods and supported by science. I helped heal many from chronic health conditions western medicine does not have answer to.
This method not only works to help you heal yourself by clearing Qi blockages and restoring the natural flow of Qi in the body, it also helps you manifest exactly what you want to have in your life.
I developed this method over the last 10 years through my own personal journey, working with many individuals over the years and studied with teachers in the US, Europe and Asia.”

There are a number of things about this that strike me:
Life-force energy – isn’t a thing.
Ancient – who cares? This says nothing about whether it works or is real.
Supported by science – OK, show me the fucking science.
Heal chronic health – unlikely. I would like to see proper documented evidence for this.
Western medicine – this is used to dismiss modern medicine or “medicine”. I’ll take my chances with things that really work thank you.
Qi blockages – not a real thing.
Manifest exactly what you want – this is concerting. Is Eli saying that if you “want” hard enough you can have? Is he using hints of “the secret” here? Is he doing that “ask the universe” bullshit? I’m amazed at this. There’s a real issue with people thinking that illness and other outcomes in life are their fault. Or they think that the universe has it in for them. This isn’t true. What is true is that illness is random and society is actually built to stop you doing the things you want. Unfortunately many people can’t accept that some outcomes in life are just random and they believe it must be the fault of the person.

This whole website is a way of removing you from some of your money. If Eli really has mastered or created Deep Healing Qi Gong then wouldn’t the best thing for him be to give it away to the world for nothing? Shouldn’t he be working in hospitals to help cure everyone? If this stuff works then why isn’t he being hailed in the New England Journal of Medicine? If all these things he says are real then why isn’t everyone using them? If these things really worked then your GP would get you to do them. But, these things don’t work. I’m going to leave Eli and his bullshit for now. But I haven’t quite finished. I want to explain where Traditional Chinese Medicine comes from. The quick answer is China. But the real story is a little more interesting.

In the 1950s China was struggling with population and Communism. Not much different from today really. Medicine was improving in the country and so doctors were issued with a book that gave them treatments and drug listings for specific diseases etc. Because there were problems with the availability of real drugs the back of this book had a load of bullshit cures but ones that were traditional in the countryside. So, when a doctor had no hope of helping someone and the drugs weren’t available they could “prescribe” some bullshit stuff that would keep the population happy and subdued. Nothing was really known about this outside of China.

Then, in the early 1970s there was a US diplomatic mission to China and one of the people got ill. There were operated on but also had some bullshit TCM applied to them and when the western media heard about this they completely overlooked the actual medicine and focused solely on the TCM that this person received. They then claimed it was a miracle and maybe this ancient wisdom has something behind it. Before this time there wasn’t much in the western consciousness about TCM. After this time it exploded and has been here since. TCM doesn’t work and was rooted in a government lying to their own people to cover up the lack of real medicine. Amazing that we have so much of this is western culture now.

You can check this story yourself from the place I got my information. I first heard about this on Skeptoid. A short podcast that looks at things that aren’t real. It covers lots of different topics. I would encourage you to listen to the podcast or read the transcript. It’s worth knowing where this bullshit TCM comes from. Also, there is, of course, a Wikipedia page that covers the Barefoot Doctor.