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.


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.

Only Going To Get Worse

Recently I’ve been trying to exercise more and failing. My excuse the other night, when I had a clear two hours to get out, was that it was raining. It is a fair excuse but I could have jumper on the rower at home and done some exercise on that but I was sidetracked by computers and driving games. I recently ran five or so miles and my standard route takes me along a section of road that gets wet easily. It’s easy to avoid the puddles by running on the raised ground at the edge of the field. Sometimes, when it has rained a lot a large pond is formed and stays for a long time.

A Lot Of Rain
A Lot Of Rain

As you can see the temporary pond to the left and the road to the right. I was run-walking along the raised pathway but it’s quite disconcerting because of how slippy it is and the thought of falling into the pond.

I’ve written about this before and I am sorry for not doing enough but these weather events and wet winters are only going to get worse. All caused by anthropogenic global climate change. Sorry younger people, I am convinced life is going to be particularly hard for you.

This brings me to another, slightly related, thing. Humans have an amazing ability to ignore the evidence and only concentrate on the things that they as individuals think will make them better. I’m thinking at the moment of people wearing face masks to avoid getting the current coronavirus which causes Covid-19. Face masks won’t protect you numbskulls. They don’t do what you think they are doing. Stop buying them and leave the stock for people who genuinely need them. I spoke with someone at the weekend who mixes and makes chemotherapy for different individuals. They said that they have to re-use disposable face masks while mixing the drugs because they have run out of stock and stupid people are buying up all the facemasks in society.

Another organisation I am aware of is ignoring all the evidence and making people work through particular practices even though there is no chance that any of it will work. We see this all the time with governments and humans. There is an attitude of doing something [even if it doesn’t work] is better than doing nothing because we can then say that we did something [even if it wasn’t going to work]. What an utter waste of human time and resources.

Want to avoid getting the latest fad-virus? Wash your hands properly. If you do get the virus, don’t sneeze over anyone and follow the government advice on using tissues.

Words Not Justified

The normal “I’m working hard for you” leaflet came through the door yesterday from the local MP Tracey Crouch.

There are paragraphs explaining what she’s doing for “infrastructure” which largely means traffic management because that’s the sort of stuff that pisses people off on a daily basis. It’s something that is easy to do but doesn’t really solve the bigger issues. I guess there are legitimate reasons for an MP to get involved with this at a local level.

There’s a paragraph about how the MP is helping to look after the older people and this is good news as we should all learn to look after people and be nice. But the cynic in me can’t help but think that it’s old people who vote for the Tories.

I was impressed that Tracey Crouch resigned her ministerial position over her own party’s government not changing the law on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. It just about forced the government to do something but the idea that it needed a minister to resign for the Tory government to want to do something to help people shows what contempt they have for the poor.

My biggest issue is with the following text at the top of the news leaflet:

“I want to reassure residents that I am working hard to deliver a Brexit that 65% of local people voted for.

These are challenging times but I believe that Chatham & Aylesford residents voted to leave the EU full in the knowledge of all the varying pros and cons and that is what I will strive to deliver.”

These words have angered me immensely. First, I want to break down the 65% number. The records for the referendum are broken down by local council area rather than constituency area. Tracey Crouch is MP for Chatham and Aylesford which contains part of Medway and also part of Tonbridge and Malling local council areas.

Medway voted OUT at a rate of 64% of those who voted but when total electorate is taken into consideration only 46% percent of those eligible to vote voted to leave the EU. [total electorate=192524, remain=49889, leave=88997 using numbers from Electoral Commission website].

Tonbridge and Malling voted out at a rate of 55.7% of those who bothered to turn up to vote. Once again, once the total electorate is taken into consideration the rate who voted to leave the EU is 44%. [total electorate=93019, remain=32792, remain=41229].

How my local MP can claim that 65% of local people voted to leave is ridiculous. She is taking the most extreme value possible from the referendum results. As her constituency contains residents from both the local authority areas it seems extremely likely that the actual number who wanted Brexit is remarkably low. By combining both areas the overall result is 44% to leave the EU.

My next problem with the few words the MP wrote in the leaflet is that she believes residents voted to leave the EU full in the knowledge of all the varying pros and cons. I disagree with this statement in its entirety. From polling we know that many people have differing views on what they were voting for. For some it was to end immigration, for others it was to stop those bloody Europeans interfering in our laws and so on. I suspect that all of those who voted to leave would explain what they wanted differently. The national debate was framed poorly and used fear of immigration to push a point while not explaining that we aren’t part of Schengen and so have control anyway.

If we had told people that their phone roaming charge would probably come back once we leave the EU I think some would have changed their mind. If the electorate had understood that to sell things to the EU we would have to maintain their current standards for manufacturing and all future standards without any say in those regulations I thin they would have changed their votes.

If people had a multitude of things explained to them then they may have voted differently. Obviously you are going to have those people whose views can’t be persuaded by facts or those who are just racist but I’m sure plenty would have voted differently if the benefits of being in the EU had been stated more clearly and if people had understood how the EU works.

The whole process of the referendum was driven by hate and fear and pushed by the right wing press. People didn’t understand what they were voting for and they all had different ideas of what the result would be.

So, the numbers don’t really stack up to support the MP’s view of how to approach all the decisions she needs to make during this period of debate on leaving the EU in parliament. I honestly believe that an MP should always do what is best for the future of the people in their constituency even if that means fucking them over and getting voted out because the people didn’t like it. We all like eating sugary desserts while fully in the knowledge that we will develop type 2 diabetes. The people don’t always know what is best for them.

Also, the concept that people understood what they were voting for two years ago is plainly ridiculous. Even if you asked people now I don’ t think they can agree on what “leaving the EU ” really means.

This whole thing is tearing this country apart and while we are doing this we are ignoring the general causes of the decision by not giving a shit about the chronic under investment in everything over the last ten years. We should be spending money to look after people and invest for the future. Instead we are slowly creating and economic and social collapse to suit the vagaries of personality in the tory party.

It Doesn’t Say That

Here we go again. Another BBC News Headline and Fooyah goes off on one to deride the state of news. But first let me tell you where my biases lie.

I have recently decided to stop scanning my general Twitter feed. I follow about a thousand feeds on that account and a lot of them revolve around my interests of religion, airplanes aeroplanes, science and politics. Given what Donald Trump says and could possibly do after the 20th along with how that affects my interests you can imagine that my twitter feed is filled with horror. Even last year during the post-Brexit week I found that twitter was feeding the news I wanted while the traditional BBC site and radio news wasn’t giving me the detail I wanted. I felt I wanted to know everything that happened when it happened.

I have started to recognise that this was becoming an obsession. Constantly wanting to check Twitter. Missing parts of TV shows programmes because I was looking at my feed. I was starting to miss out on peace, on enjoying concentrating. I have now stopped looking at that particular feed. I use my normal account highlighted down the right hand side of this site because that feed has only friends and twitter is one of the methods I stay in touch with some friends. I don’t officially do Faceshit so that doesn’t really matter.

From now on I am going to get my news in manageable chunks by listening to the radio and occasionally browsing the BBC website. I gave up TV news a long time ago as I couldn’t cope with the forced human interest narrative they assigned to every story. The human interest of news didn’t affect me, I want to know the news behind the story, not the “this made Chloe from Bakersfield miss her train”.

I watched this video after my decision, it was sent to me by a friend and while I have some criticisms of the things said in the video I felt some of it applied to me and I am far from a millennial.

I do have some issues with some of the things he says and I am definitely not convinced he is right about everything but it is very interesting. I could see some of these behaviours in myself and so decided to change my behaviour to be more positive to my life. One of my current issues was feeling anger at all the Trump tweets or news items and being powerless to affect them in any way. By ignoring them I hope to gain some sense of control and happiness over those parts of my life. I can get on with my life largely as it is and just calmly wait for the end-times.

I have become largely convinced that mobile devices need to be banned in schools. Not because I am a nasty bastard but because we have a SOCIAL DUTY to teach children to concentrate on tasks that last longer than a few minutes. The young need to learn to be able to delay reward. They are in a system where I want them to learn during all my lessons in a week and the pay off is years away in their examination results, in their choice on university and in the pay of their future careers. I don’t have a science study to back this up but I do think we are doing a disservice to the young because they expect reward constantly.

Oh, but they can play computer games and concentrate for hours.

Yes and no. They are constantly rewarded while playing computer games. The tasks are short term and the rewards are built in regularly to make the kids feel good. This is the equivalent of checking an answer in the back of a maths text book and seeing that you got it right. That little hit of success. One of these is “fun” and the other takes place in a structured lesson where the ultimate pay off is years away.

A student I taught a few years ago who, in the run up to his exams, took his phone, turned it off and placed it in a plastic bag which he kept on him for emergency purposes. He did this for three months. He recognised the distraction that his phone is. It doesn’t matter if you find out something has happened 2 minutes after the event or 5 hours after the event. It’s the same thing that has happened. That kid got As and A* at A Level and now studies at a top university.

Look, I love my phone and I like my console and this computer where I am currently typing. I don’t want to throw them away. But I do think there are serious sociological problems that need to be faced. We are failing the youth by not preparing them to concentrate persistently at a task with a delayed reward.

This was the headline on the BBC News website, I heard about the article from listening to the radio 4 article. I also found the same “news” item in the Daily Fucking Piece Of Shit Mail.

Now, I’m not very good at reading science papers. I have tried and find the language very dense and deliberately obscure. Given my interest in REAL THINGS learning how to read science papers is probably a good thing. I found the original paper from where these headlines derive. It is linked here. The PDF can be found here, or below.

A cached copy from this website

I just want to cover some of my observations from reading the paper before writing about the news articles.

A Large-Scale Test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis: Quantifying the Relations Between Digital-Screen Use and the Mental Well-Being of Adolescents

This paper was a test of the Goldilocks Hypothesis [bullshit name making it seem acceptable or a good thing even though it’s a happy story about a fucking thief]. This paper is to test the happiness-screen time hypothesis. It doesn’t set out to find out if screen time makes teenagers happier than not having screen time. It doesn’t have a control group. All it does is see whether the youngsters have an ideal happiness-screen time relationship. It could have found out that 20 hours a a day was the ultimate happiness value.

Most of the paper talks about the regression curve they decided would fit and how they tested that. Essentially they found an upper limit in the curve.

The number of students used in the study was large. All the data was self-reported and that can cause issues of under-reporting of negative trends. This paper didn’t seek to find out how much happier students were before and after. All they looked into was the happiness of students compared to how much screen time they have. There’s no before and after. There’s no analysis of how increasing or decreasing screen time affects individuals. It could be imagined that deliberately affecting the well being of teenagers negatively would be immoral.

This study sought to confirm a previous hypothesis that a quadratic curve could be used to fit to the data and that from that there would be a maximum [inflexion in the paper]. It didn’t seek to find out anything else.

This study seeks to inform future studies and has nothing to do with optimum time to get students the most well-being. It just modelled that. There were no controls. We do NOT know from this study what happens if a student stops using their phone and does other stuff. This study wasn’t about that. It’s not a before and after study. It’s a study about now.

Interesting, but also obvious, was that different digital activities had different effects on well-being. Being on a phone has a lower time than watching TV. They are very different activities.

The study also says that they did not look into whether academic work was affected or what the possible outcomes are with high or low digital device usage. This study JUST looked at modelling the Goldilocks Hypothesis. My instinct is that the Goldilocks Hypothesis probably exists for most things. Want to eat chocolate? Have a certain amount to get most well-being feeling. Want to exercise? A certain amount will maximise your well-being score, and so on.

So, now a few quotes from the BBC article.

Moderate screen use ‘boosts teen wellbeing’

NOT what the paper says. The paper did NOT compare before and after, just what exists now. They are very different things.

They found a “Goldilocks effect” where a few hours of device-use seemed to boost mental wellbeing.

They were testing for the Goldilocks effect. They didn’t discover it. Their aim was to model it mathematically. Again, BOOST, no it doesn’t say that. Boost implies a before and after effect which was not measured by this study.

In addition, the first hour or two of screen time was actually associated with an increase in mental wellbeing for those using computers, smartphones, video games and watching TV or films.

FFS, not an increase just what is. IF I HAVE THIS WRONG PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I am not expert in reading science papers. Have a look yourself and tell me.

The BBC article is pretty bad but there are redeeming features to the article and even they explain that this paper confirms the hypothesis. It’s good to have some science about these things but the NEWS can’t report it very well. And we wonder why there are issues with fake-news and this being a post-truth world.

I need a few deep breaths now as I take some quotes from the Daily Shit article. I can’t read the whole thing without encountering a rage so I will rely on the bullet points at the top of the article.

Researchers found there is little evidence screen time damages teenagers

NOT what they were looking for. The study was to confirm the Goldilocks Effect. We would need a CONTROL group to decide if damage is done.

The found that, in fact, 257 minutes on a computer is beneficial for them

No, it didn’t. See above.

It is the ‘sweet spot’ when teens have had enough time to develop online skills

No, it doesn’t say that. For fucks sake. If we trained teenagers in developing internet skills properly they would soon realise that the DM website is full of shit.

 I’m done. If I tried I expect I could take the whole DM article and pull nearly every sentence apart. The main problem is I don’t want to. I don’t want to read that shit. It’s misleading. The BBC article was misleading but not as bad. It was still misleading.

No wonder we have problems with people trusting the news and sources. No wonder they want to listen to “news” that agrees with their own narrative about how the world works rather than challenge their own understanding. I try to be unbiased in my understanding of the world. I try to give weight to things that disagree with my perception of the world because it challenges me and because, as a human, I am incredibly unable to decide what it correct or true. That’s why science developed. It’s why there are true investigative reporters. The world should be able to cope with REALITY even if they fundamentally oppose what that reality is. We should be accepting of things that challenge us and make us think but ultimately make us more aware of what is really going on.

After all, isn’t the truth what we seek?


Let’s have another look at that graph:

I don’t know about you but a peak happiness going from 47 to 48.5 or so doesn’t seem impressive. Also, we don’t know how many students were at each level, so we don’t know how many students were at the zero hours per day level [I was sure I read this in the paper but can’t now see it].

Also, 20% of students reported more than 12 hours a day engagement.

it was clear that many participants had reported
simultaneous screen use; approximately 20% of the sample
reported a sum of more than 12 hr of engagement on
weekdays, and 35% of the sample reported a total of
more than 12 hr on weekend days

Fuck! These poor kids. We need some serious intervention so we are able to help these people in society as a whole, so they can develop friendships, so they can function.


I intend for this to be a short communication. It is something that I often think when faced with many headlines proclaiming things to be wrong or right trying to give a sense of black and white.

A good simple lesson to remember for pretty much any issue you could face is:

It’s probably a continuum

Murder is wrong. Yes, most often, but there are grey areas, it could be argued that it is justified sometimes and the law takes account of that.
Stealing is wrong. Yes, but there are grey areas, the law takes account of that too.

As humans within a social structure we like to have rules and laws and we think we need them to maintain a cohesive structure. However, we do not apply these rules blindly. We use our sense of right and wrong (not given to us by god) and we decide on a case by case basis. It’s what our court system or individual judgement is for.

As an example:
I will set a detention if someone does not complete their homework to a good standard and on time. I would, however, be considered a bastard if that student had just lost a close family member and still punished him. I use my judgement to decide whether the punishment is morally correct to be applied.

Another example:
I might want to wear a political badge at work. Maybe it says “Save the NHS”. I don’t think that should be too much of a problem. Now suppose I was backing a slightly harsher political view “Stop All Immigration”. Should I be allowed to wear that? You can see there is a line or at least a point where the message says too much. That line might move from time to time. It’s hard to quantise where the line stands, it comes to judgement and it may be the case that one type of message is allowed and another similar isn’t.

The application of the rules is carefully considered and applied with a sense of fairness. We can not have fairness if we apply the rules rigidly.

Sometimes the rules are applied differently from time to time and each case is judged on its own merits. We like to “draw a line” we like to have hard and fast arrangements so we know where we stand but life isn’t like that and we should all appreciate that there is no “line” and even if we could say there was it would be wobbly and move around.

I think most about this argument when I hear of racism or discrimination. Let’s say there are counties where a black person isn’t allowed to sit at the front of the bus. How black do you have to be? How white do you have to be? The colour of us is a CONTINUUM. If I am white but have a black grandfather does that mean I can’t sit near the door of the bus. What an utterly ridiculous and pathetic way to classify people.

How about a place where homosexual people aren’t allowed. How homosexual do you need to be? How can they tell? Sexuality is a scale from strongly heterosexual to bisexual to strongly homosexual [it’s a CONTINUUM]. If you have had sex with someone of the same sex once does that make you gay? How many times would make you gay? This is another ridiculous way to classify people.

Nationality is another of these. If I am Scottish and live in Scotland I can vote in the upcoming referendum. How far into Scotland do I have to be born? If I was born in Longtown I would be English. If I was born in Gretna I would be Scottish. Where is the line. If my mother was giving birth and she straddled the border where would I be born. The matter of a couple of miles or even inches determines my entire identity? What a load of rubbish. Just ask the people of Alsace.

When this sort of argument is used it is called a FALSE DICHOTOMY. In mathematics answers are generally correct or not [although there ARE grey areas in mathematics]. On the whole your answer to a mathematical problem will be a dichotomy – correct or not. Whether you are blue eyed or you are not is a FALSE DICHOTOMY. How blue do your eyes need to be? What if one is not blue but the other is? What if you have specks of green in your eyes? It’s a ridiculous concept.

We seem to spend so much of our energies defining things using black and white statements and yet most of the time we ignore the grey areas. Every time we do humanity struggles.

British Summer Time

I don’t like change. I particularly don’t like changing the clocks. Some of my distaste for this biannual event is that it means I have to walk around my house adjusting various time displays and I also have to find the instructions for the cooker because I can never remember how to change the time on it. Why does my cooker need a clock? I also don’t like the day being asymmetric for around six months of the year. Finally, more daylight in the evening means more glare on my television [I need to buy some curtains but haven’t for ten years and so the likelihood of me getting around to it is quite low].

For around six months of the year we change the clocks so that we are in British Summer Time, what our American cousins would call Daylight Saving. I find this bizarre. I like how our clocks are aligned during the winter. When it is midday the sun is at its highest point in the sky and also due south. This makes an amazing amount of sense. I am aware that local midday is different across the UK and it depends how far east or west you are from the meridian but as a general measure it works well.

What I don’t like is the notion of midday during British Summer Time. The sun is not at its highest in the sky and won’t be for about an hour (depending on where you are). There is apparently an economic argument for having more daylight time later in the evening but I have yet to be convinced that it makes any difference. The “farmers need the light” argument is quite pathetic. Farmers would just get up earlier. I am not aware of any good reason to perform this ritual mess up of my routines.

Let me explain a couple of things.

noon defn

The definition of noon is, first and formost, MIDDAY.

midday defn

The definition of midday is the MIDDLE of the day. If our clocks say 12pm [12:00] then this should be the middle part of the day. If the sun is yet to rise to its highest point and we have more daylight hours after 12:00 than we had before the 12:00 BST is NOT midday. AM and PM both contain M which stands for meridian.

meridian defn

So, meridian refers to midday which refers to the middle of the day which, to me, is quite clearly the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest.

I could almost accept us changing to be in line with other European countries as we trade and work closely with them but unfortunately they are also wrong. France is either GMT+1 or GMT+2 and given that Paris lies on the meridian they clearly have no idea about how time works.

By the way, the National Physical Laboratory recommends the use of the 24 hour clock. I think I tend to use the 24 hour clock on this site more than I do am and pm. Apparently there is no convention to indicate whether midday is am or pm. I had thought that this was solved and that midday is pm but amazingly not.

12am 12pm

If the NPL are telling us something we should listen.

I am quite aware that my bad feeling towards BST is mostly to do with my interpretation of the definitions and that other people might decide to define midday as the point when our clocks are halfway through the day rather than use the sun to define the halves of the day.

Just so you are aware the international time standard is UTC.

Universal Coordinated Time

Although UTC is synonymous with GMT and for all intents and purposes the same it is no longer a recognised standard. UTC is maintained by the scientific community and GMT is not. I used UTC as the time indicator on my tattoos.

D.O.A. – Throbbing Gristle

The full title of this album is:

D.O.A. The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle

This is seminal. When you take the members of Throbbing Gristle and look into their backgrounds and previous work you start to understand where they were coming from. In 1976 COUM Transmissions were doing this sort of crazy stuff. And modern day artists like to think that they are pushing the boundaries. I guess they are, but I can’t help thinking that it’s all been done before.

So, Throbbing Gristle, they made “music” to challenge pre-conceptions and to see how far they could take it. You might not like listening to it, but your life will be enriched for doing so (unlike a 1D album). You have to remember when this was made. 1978. The technology they were using was ground-breaking and their sound was something special. To understand the origins of modern industrial music you HAVE to include TG.

Favourite tracks include:

  • I.B.M.
  • Hit By A Rock
  • Dead On Arrival
  • Hamburger Lady (one of the most disturbing songs I have ever heard)
  • AB/7A
  • Blood On The Floor

Listen, appreciate, take some paracetamol (you’ll need it).

Range Rover

So, too much to write about recently and not enough time. Anyway here’s a long sorry short: been trying to buy a nicely coloured Range Rover model for a gift. Gold, dark blue or black would suit. Good news: have gold RR for sale and reduced in price. Order it. Check it after arrival and it’s red and a mid 90s model. Organise the return because picture on website was gold. Order another RR from and although full price it says Range Rover Sport Gold Edition with a picture of a gold RR newer edition. It arrives and upon checking it’s red. So now going to return that one for a refund. I get the feeling that they don’t actually check the products and pictures because the red Range Rover is from the Gold Collection of the model company.
Poor work Internet shopping companies. Going to head to a Range Rover dealer and buy one from them!