Some Things We Know – Says Fooyah

Before I start I want to question whether Diego Maradona dying warrants this much attention from the news. BBC Radio 4 have done ten minutes out of the last twenty five including on-the-scene reporters in Argentina and Naples. There could be a number of reasons why I feel antipathy towards this, none of them good! Firstly I don’t care for soccer. Secondly I’m not sure we should celebrate someone who fell so greatly from grace. Lastly, I’m not sure I can get over the “hand of god”, and that’s bad as I honestly don’t care about soccer, but apparently I did back in the 80s.

This communication is about the news because, while browsing the apple news app I saw the following:

Headlines Like These
Headlines Like These

Now, I know almost every headline is clickbait, but this once got me annoyed. The fashion these days for telling the story in a headline without telling the story is rather irritating and seems quite immature to me. I’d be more likely to click on a link if they actually told me what the story was about. I can’t be bothered to look through all the adverts and shitty webpage design to actually get to the point that I wanted to know.

“These are the areas of Kent with the highest corona cases . . . . “

That’s the kind of headline that is driven by the need to get people eyes-on the adverts on your page. I should get back to the problem with the Jupiter story.

“Double Planet” is in quotes. I mean they could just say that Jupiter and Saturn will align for the first time in 600 years. They aren’t a double planet. You don’t need to mention double planet. Just say they will be aligned. More importantly is that they will be aligned relative to the Earth, but maybe that bit doesn’t need to be explained.

The bigger issue for me is the “astronomers say” part of the headline. I know some people struggle with the idea that some scientists have opinions and we’ve seen that a lot over this last year. When science doesn’t know the answer different people will come up with different interpretations of what it means. Essentially the data aren’t that good. The more data we have the more science works out what is going on and the more scientists agree about what it means. Some data are notoriously fuzzy, such as coronavirus transmissions and a lot of the social sciences, but that doesn’t mean that with more data we won’t figure things out. Interpreting fuzzy data is hard and it means there are going to be problems. For example, give the same set of data to 100 economists would probably end up with 100 different hypotheses. That’s partly because economics is not a solid science but the main problem is that the data are fuzzy and there are too many variables to be controlled for.

Of the experiments and things we have data for the motion of the planets is one of those that is pretty much locked in with certainty. The variables are minimal and although we have corrected the original Newtonian motion with general relativity the four hundred year old ideas of Newton still work the vast majority of the time. Jupiter and Saturn WILL be close to each other in the near future. FACT. You don’t need astronomers to tell you that. Anyone can work that out. We know where the planets are and where they have been and where they are going to be. We are that good.

I do wish that headline writers had more cahunas to tell it like it is. I feel that copywriters hide behind the use of quotes as a “get out of jail free” card for if they get sued. OK, time for me to leave you to the delights of clickbaity headlines. Enjoy.

More Than That

This headline from the BBC is amazing. I don’t even know what sort of spin they are trying to place on the news. I’ve been trying to spend less time BBC bashing when there is plenty more shit out there but this one needs a bit more explaining and it covers one of my favourite topics: the survival of the planet. It’s easy to go to the Daily Bullshit Mail and rip it apart. It’s easy to look at so many news articles and explain why they are wrong but it’s depressing when it’s the BBc that do it. As I’ve said many times within these communications the BBC is the best news gathering we have in this country and it’s going to be destroyed by the tories.

The use of quotations in headlines is terrible. It allows news organisations to drag you in with a juicy quote from a story without actually telling you anything about the story. Or, as in this case, it is misleading. The real news headline should have been:

Climate Change Report by Think Tank Released.

IP

What happened was a report was released. The headline the BBC used misses an important part of the report which said that the UK can’t go carbon neutral without changes to behaviour. That last bit swaps the whole style of the narrative around and makes the report more positive. It explains the headline. But most grumpy fuckers will read the headline, nod wisely as it agrees with their preconceptions, and then move on without actually learning anything. This headline gives the excuse that there’s no point changing behaviour because we can’t be carbon neutral by 2050. It’s an excuse to let people do what they are currently doing. It’s dangerous.

The UK cannot go climate neutral much before 2050 unless people stop flying and eating red meat almost completely, a report says. But it warns that the British public do not look ready to take such steps and substantially change their lifestyle.

From the BBC article

No one wants to change their behaviour because we don’t like change. But we MUST change and change soon. It is obvious we have destroyed this planet for the next ten generations and massive changes are required NOW to make sure that we minimise the terror. Currently we are breaking every possible system the planet has and we are going to make this place a horror movie in one hundred years or maybe even earlier. I guess we have to thank short-termism politics and the general selfishness of those who seek power and then want to maintain that power. It’s hard to imagine people who push their way to power actually wanting to help people. They do exist but are rare and seen as the odd ones.

I do sometimes think that maybe the best thing to happen to this planet is the extinction of our species. The planet will take a while to recover but it will eventually be a glorious place of life and death and the struggle to survive without our influence.

The weight of this world should be on all our shoulders. But I fear it is held by a few.

Back To The Money

The BBC is still the best news site this country has and unfortunately it’s going to be destroyed by the current government because they report on news and are independent. Oh it’s not a glorious future for our country. Mind you, there are still times when the BBC News section falls into the populist click-bait type of “news” which isn’t news but more magazine. Perhaps I should expect it and be forgiving but I can’t. Some of us have to talk about what we see.

Not a “news” story

Money.

There, that’s a simple, easy, quick, and honest answer.

There are all these people out there around my age with money to burn and they will go and see this because they remember Back To The Future being a good film and they will want wholesome entertainment for the rest of their family. Just to be clear BTTF is a good film.

These juke-box musicals or film translations are easy money and rely on the original ideas being burned into the brains of the middle-aged. Have a look around and see all the shows and shit with their origins in the 80s.

In Summary

I will try to spend little time today thinking about what happens tonight. It has made me sad for over three years now and I am doing my best to let go. Much like I managed with Star Wars after the prequels came out I need to learn to stop loving a particular thing and being annoyed when it gets messed up. All three prequels disappointed me so much that I learnt over time to not worry about what they did to Star Wars. I learnt to let go of my feelings. I’ve only really enjoyed one of the recent films.

Today the UK leaves the EU. It is not something I want to happen and like many others it’s not really something I really thought about a lot before the referendum. I was vaguely aware of what the EU did and our membership of it. I voted remain more out of a sense of feeling that we are better in the club than out. I didn’t really have any solids reasons just a feeling of wanting to belong. Other people had different feelings and they were in the small majority at that particular time of those who voted.

Since the result I have felt an amazing loss and sense of despair at the realisation of what people in the UK think. The most recent election result shows that overall this country is full of selfish low level racists. I don’t know how else to describe the overwhelming majority that the torys got. There are, of course, issues with our representative parliament not working in a particularly representative way but that is the system we have.

The more I have learnt about the EU and the [current as I write this] position of the UK within that the more I have felt that a little education about the system would have saved this mess. People believed what they read and heard and didn’t understand how the system worked. The most basic thing for me is the understanding that ALL EU laws have to be approved by the UK PM and if we were to disagree with ANY of the laws then the UK could VETO them. It’s really that simple. It’s the bonus of being a big member of the club. If the population are angry at EU rules and laws then the anger should be placed towards the leaders of the UK and not the EU.

So, here we go. Off into the miserable world of making it on our own. Trying to get free trade and movement which we already have. One of the greatest symbols for me about the UK leaving is that it happens this evening at 23:00. Why does it happen at that time? Because that’s when it’s midnight in Brussels. The government can’t even get us to leave at a time sensible for the UK.

Over the next year, as the transition period comes to and end there will be a slow drip of news about how we lose all those benefits of being in the EU. It will happen quietly and over a year and so there won’t be an uprising but this country will be poorer in all ways as a result.

Given Up

I’ve given up. Or rather I keep trying to give up. I’ve always kept an eye on the news and I’ve always voted. Voting is the minimum a subject in the country can do to be part of the “democratic” process. I’m not going to descend into a rant about how general elections are controlled by those people who can’t make their mind up which direction this country should take. Instead I’m going to explain why I keep trying to give up.

I don’t understand patriotism. I don’t understand national anthems. I don’t understand this loyalty to an area of land.

However, over the last three years I have yearned for a time when the politics in our country was just a little corrupt and secretly filled with hatred. Since the referendum on membership of the EU was announced I have soaked up all the news and it has made me ill. Then there was the election across the pond. I soaked up all that too. It made me ill.

Trying to keep apace of all the lies told over there and, since de Pfeffel Johnson, over here and the lack a recriminations about the lies took its toll. Trying to care about what those cunts say and then do kicked my emotional and mental health suffer. I’ve written before about lying in politics. The current stage of “lack of honour” in politics means we can’t take anything they say as the thing they are going to do.

All of this and the lack of “THINGS I CAN DO ABOUT IT” makes me feel like I should just give up thinking about it. I should zone out and try to just do the few things I can. I will continue to vote in elections and wherever else possible. I will also continue my membership of a political party because that is literally the least I can do at this time. However, it is also the most I can do at the time.

I feel like I’ve been permanently angry for the last three years. I feel like I’ve been consistently let down for the last three years. I do think that in twenty years when the UK asks to be let back into the EU [or never managed to leave] then the social studies will show that the level of mental and emotional health dived to a low over these five years. It will show that the country suffered and those stupid acts of politicians will have had many lasting effect on the population of this country. They are fucking us all.

Poe’s Law

I keep thinking back to this news item from ITV. I mean ITV is a trusted source isn’t it? It seems ridiculous to me that a new member of the government in our current times would insist on a particular style guide for his staff.

The problem with this news article is that it’s so ridiculous that it could be true. It might have been made up but we all know Rees-Mogg is a prick of the highest order and so this could be true. I’m just not sure. This news article could be a case of Poe’s Law in action.

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

While Poe was talking about creationists being fucking stupid his views have been converted into a law stating that in some cases extreme sarcasm is indistinguishable from the real thing. This is what I think has happened here. Someone has cleverly taken the concept of Rees-Mogg being a fucking prick and gone extreme. Seriously, let’s look at the things he wants done:

All non-titled males are Esq. – fuck you, what a singular stupid fucking thing to say. Jesus Christ, this is fucking entitled bullshit in the highest.

No comma after “and” – of course you use the Oxford comma, it’s there to make sure you have clear intentions in your language. We’ve developed this wonderful thing called language to be able to communicate clearly and we can make our words mean the correct things. For an example – Rees-Mogg is an entitled prick.

Check your work – this man is really telling his staff of professionals to check their work? Really? Does he employ monkeys or something? You would think that people already know how this type of stuff works. Arrrrrgh.

Could someone please stop the planet, I want to get off.

Marginal Error

Aside from the fact that the news this country has a new Prime Minister who is a racist liar I was bothered by the phrasing on BBC News last night. I haven’t really watched TV news for a long time, I find it patronising and reliant on the personal story rather than the facts, I don’t enjoy watching it. I viewed a little on catch up last night just to see what they said about the tory party leadership result.

BBC News Maths Problem
Marginal Error

Boris Johnson won by a MARGIN of two to one.

Now, what the actual fuck does that mean? I mean, I’m not happy Johnson won but that’s the shitty system we have. I’m really asking what does the phrase “by a margin of two to one” mean?

Does it mean that Boris got around 66% of the vote and Hunt 33% [or thereabouts]? In which case the margin is 1/3 of the electorate or you could even say the majority was 100% of Hunt’s vote. What you can’t say is the MARGIN was a ratio of 2:1 without DEFINING what the other side of the ratio is. Fucking hell, people need to understand that maths and words have meanings.

My instinct is that these numbers are the relative share of the vote, but the news chap doesn’t say that. He says MARGIN. The margin is the majority? I don’t know. How is margin defined in this case. A quick inspection of Wikipedia has the definition that MARGIN is the percentage of the difference relative to total turnout.

So, I think it would be best for the BBC and other news outlets to have used the phrase:

Mr Johnson won with a margin of around 33% of the turnout.

Old Television

There’s a big news story around at the moment that the over 75s in this country are going to have to pay for a TV licence. I’ve got some thoughts on this matter which I will communicate here.

In the UK the TV Licence pays for some of the BBC along with some of Channel 4 and, I think, channel 5. It used to be more of a licence to operate receiving equipment which just happened to be used to pay for public broadcasting. I think nowadays it is considered to be a tax by people which goes directly to the BBC.

The reason the BBC are going to charge the over 75s is because the GOVERNMENT has chosen to withdraw that part of the funding for the BBC. It seems amazing to me that the majority of the anger is placed at the BBC where it should be placed directly at the government. The media which isn’t funded by the government has a massive issue with the BBC funding and targets it a lot about everything.

Much like the anger placed at immigrants or the NHS or housing or local councils the real anger should be directed at the GOVERNMENT because they set the fucking rules. Annoyed with people dodging tax? Then moan at the government, they set the rules, they produce the law. It’s the government’s fault. The fact that the anger is deliberately directed away from the government is astonishing.

Local councils get their funding from two main sources, the national government and the taxes, council tax, placed on those who live in the area. The national government has spent years reducing the amount it sends to the local councils and so the only way to make up the shortfall is to charge more to locals. Where does the anger go? To the local council, not to the national government.

I don’t see that just because you are old you shouldn’t have to pay for a service that you use. It should probably be means tested. There are plenty of old folk out there who can afford this and they should pay slightly more to allow those who struggle to have access to services. It’s how society should work. Some parts of society struggle and the rest of us should help, it’s the morally correct thing to do.

There seems to be a perception that poor people or people who struggle through life deserve it. Their failure must be because they haven’t worked hard enough, that they have made poor choices. This is incorrect. The poor work hard, those who struggle work hard. It’s the way our current society works that produces parts of the population who struggle and always will. We must change society to make it work for all people.

Unsightly

Scanning down the BBC News headlines page I came across a few headlines that bothered me and I think they show a disconnect between what the public think and what is correct. This has always been the case but social media and the ease of connectivity now means that people who are wrong can gather together and think that being in a community of like-minded people means that their views are correct.

Holocaust Denial
Holocaust Denial

Apparently 5% of the population do not think the holocaust happened. Whether this is the same as denial I am not sure. Perhaps they just haven’t appraised the evidence. Apparently 45% of people polled didn’t know how many people were killed in the holocaust but I think that is more forgivable. To know something happened is one thing but to know numbers about it is another. As long as they all know it was a bad thing then we should be ok. There were 17 million victims in total.

What this news article seems to be pointing out is that we clearly are not learning from the mistakes of the past. We are also pretty poor at appraising evidence. Too many people don’t understand how to read articles critically and to appraise their sources of information. Too many people can easily be swayed by group-think and the idea that many people saying the same thing over and over must be right.

What’s more these people also probably don’t care that they are wrong. They are going to believe what they want because they can. They also probably think that there isn’t objective truth. They probably struggle to cope with the idea that they can be easily manipulated and are possibly being used by other forces or that they are just stupid. The reason we have experts in certain fields of human endeavour is so that not everyone needs to be an expert about everything. People should be accepting of allowing us to defer our human knowledge to people who have spent their lives pursuing the best-as-we-know-it truth in these matters. We also need to understand that it’s not just a single expert we should trust but the consensus view of the world of experts.

This is what science does. Science changes its views with evidence and sometimes it changes quickly and sometimes its a more gradual change but over time the direction of scientific knowledge is to getting things correct. In terms of history we should listen to the consensus view of academics while we learn more and more. In terms of economics we shouldn’t really listen to anyone because it’s not a science, more a dark art. In terms of Brexit we should listen to the lawyers, the economists and the scientists. We should not be listening to the MPs because they aren’t experts in those fields. They are people elected by us to represent us whom, we would think, have the best interests of the country and its citizens as a whole. But we should also recognise that they are human and so fundamentally flawed individually.

We also need to understand that sometimes we just won’t know and answer to a particular problem or that the question isn’t a valid question. Think about something from history, something like what Masham said to Queen Anne. We can’t know what was said but we can use the best evidence we have to try and build a picture. Think about the start of the universe, we have a pretty good idea of what happened and asking “what” is a very legitimate question. The problem with that one is asking “why”. Although why something happens is a legitimate question the answer is unknowable and this makes the question reasonably void. It is these gaps in answers to questions that humans don’t seem to like and in those are inserted many stupid theories along with the concept of god.

Education is how we get out of this. We need to educate the country in particular matters so that people understand why and how. This is not an easy process. To allow a decent explanation to the country on matters of importance with a series on TV or radio or the internet somewhere. Mind you, you can’t make the horse drink. Some people will choose to be willfully ignorant and others are just ignorant. Personally I think this is correlated to good effect with empathy, but that is something I haven’t investigated.

Holocaust
Holocaust

This is how it is done. We educate people. We let them understand the experiences. We talk to them. We hope they are willing to listen and learn. I do think, however, that there is an awful lot of the Dunning-Kruger effect going on with people who choose not to learn.

Asstrology
Asstrology

Two more headlines next to each other on the very same BBC News front pages as the others in this communication. I did not read each article and that may be the start of the problem but I want to point out the following:

Astrology is bollocks and, unfortunately, people fall for its charm and simplicity. Perhaps if we could educate people more about appraising evidence and understanding a little more physics we could kill off this bollocks and other religious bollocks too.

Finally, putting a question mark at the end of a headline does not good journalism make. It is really lazy. It implies that the answer is yes but also shows that the journalist doesn’t really have any proper evidence to answer the question because otherwise the question mark wouldn’t need to be there. If you have evidence then it is fact and you can write something like that as an indictment of underfunding of our roads. But if you are just using “anecdotal evidence”, or to give it its proper name; “anecdotes”, then you are just a lazy piece of shit and you shouldn’t be a journalist.

Always remember when your aunt starts telling you that she took activated carbon tablets and that cleared up her cancer that the plural of anecdotes is not evidence. People are flawed and terrible at understanding evidence. That is why science and experts exist.

Bad Whatever

The news yesterday was about what the Bank Of England reckons could happen if we exit the EU with various agreements. Most headlines I could see focused on the idea that we are going to screw over the economy if there is a “no deal” Brexit.

Bank warns no-deal could see UK sink into recession – BBC News

This seemed to be scaring all people into accepting any sort of deal, even the one the PM has fleshed out. But what most headlines have failed to point out is that ANY exit from the EU will cause massive financial harm to the UK.

If Brexit is disruptive rather than disorderly, GDP falls 3% over the five years to 2022, house prices slide 14%, and unemployment reaches 5.75%

If a close trading relationship is agreed, the economy could still be 1% smaller than if the UK had remained in the EU but 1.5% higher than the bank’s most recent estimate.

If it is less close, the economy’s growth could be 3.75% less than if the UK had remained in the EU and 0.75% less than forecast over the last inflation report.

These figures cover the period to 2023. – BBC News

So, it’s pretty shit for all scenarios but just really shit for nearly all of them. I mean, we could just NOT LEAVE you stupid bastards.

I hate this whole issue. We are led by people desperate to argue for making our country a worse place. Fuckin’ stupid.