How Many More BBC Attacks on UKIP?

I wonder how many more attacks on UKIP the BBC will air before the General Election? There seems to be one every few weeks at the moment.

Nigel Farage has attacked the BBC ahead of a mockumentary screened on Sunday night that imagined an apocalyptic future in which the EU has collapsed.

In ‘The Great European Disaster Movie’ the Ukip leader is prime minister and has overseen the deportation of all immigrants to have arrived to the UK in the last ten years.

Adding to the chaos, Islamic State is marching on Vienna and Spain has caused a diplomatic crisis with Britain by cutting off routes to Gibraltar.

I watched a bit of it on iplayer, and found it fairly hard going. Which reminds me that there are rumours that we’ll have to pay for the BBC even if we don’t have TV sets.

Do you want to pay for a service you do not want or require? In the latest move by Tory government and state broadcaster the BBC have colluded to bring in a new “TV Poll Tax” that every single person in the country will end up having to pay regardless of whether you have a TV or watch the BBC or not.

The government and the BBC know that people no longer trust the BBC and see it as a government propaganda broadcaster, and are now dumping the TV Licence fee in their millions. People are sick to the back teeth with spoon fed propaganda passed off as “News” and they know the BBC harks back to time that no longer exists, as the modern generation dump the Telly for iPhones and tablet computers.

That way everybody will pay for anti-UKIP and pro-EU and global warming scaremongering, and of course antismoking propaganda. More here:

Opponents of the licence fee have likened it to a poll tax because every household with a television set has to pay it, even if they rarely or never use BBC services.

Soon it probably be anyone who has any device which can access any BBC content at all. That’ll be anyone with a mobile phone or a computer with an internet connection.

More:

The introduction of a universal flat-rate fee to replace the licence fee is expected to be backed by BBC Director General Lord Halllater today.

It means that everyone in the UK would be forced to pay a levy – regardless of whether they own a television. This is how it will affect you:

The current state of play:

A household watching or recording live television – as it is being broadcast- is required to have a permit to do so. The funds go towards paying for BBC radio, TV and online services. Fee income of £4 billion was recorded for 2013/14.

I wouldn’t mind if the BBC at least made some attempt to be even-handed. But it doesn’t even do that.

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Lost in Wonderland

I read this yesterday:

THEORETICAL Quantum Physicist Dr. Amit Goswami admitted today that he, and his peers, have absolutely ‘no fucking idea’ what they’re doing, and claims they were no nearer than prehistoric man to figuring out the Universe.

“We have been just winging it to tell you the truth,” explained the 78-year-old in an exclusive interview with WWN. “Seriously, I haven’t a clue what’s going on. Either does anyone else in my field. We keep proving stuff that never actually happened”.

“Our cover is blown, what can I say? He added.

Dr. Goswami’s comments came after yet another alleged breakthrough in quantum mechanics which claims the universe has existed forever, as opposed to being created by a ‘big bang’.

“Over the years there have been just a handful of us pretending to know something about the universe that no one else does,” he went on. “But this is all lies to feed the charade. I’ve had some great times during the years; travelling the world, and giving talks on our pretend finds”.

When asked how he got away with it for so long, he replied: “I found out a long time ago that everything can be proven with a mathematical equation. Now, I mean everything; from unicorns, fire-breathing dragons, God and even the G-spot. None of it is true. Me and the handful that know the truth have been riding the Quantum Physicist celebrity wave for quite some time now, but it must end – before someone gets hurt”…

It’s a spoof, of course. Although I only realised that about half way through.

But today I realised that, actually, I wouldn’t be too surprised if something like this turned out to be the truth of the matter. Which was why I almost believed it until I was half way through.

Quantum physics (which I don’t pretend to understand) just seems to produce more and more particles. Muons and quarks and leptons and stuff. And to my way of thinking, that means it’s getting more and more complicated, rather than simpler and simpler. And one of the last times when things got more and more complicated was when the Earth-centred Ptolemaic model of the solar system started to need more and more wheels within wheels to make it work. Things only got simpler again when the Earth-centred Ptolemaic model of the solar system was abandoned in favour of the Sun-centred Copernican model, with the planets moving in Keplerian ellipses around the Sun, and all the wheels within wheels vanished.

And then, a week or two back, some of these boffins said that maybe the Big Bang never happened. Since that’s been the reigning dogma for about the past 50 years, you have to wonder whether, if they were wrong about that, what else they might be wrong about.

We live in an era of bad science already. There’s all the junk healthist questionnaire-driven “science”. And there’s the equally suspect computer models and massaged data of  climate “science”. What if it turns out that quantum physics had also got lost in some sort of wonderland, much like the Ptolemaic astronomers? If it happened once, it could happen again.

There are certainly quite a few people who believe that it did. In the book Quantum, by Manjit Kumar, a very readable account of the rise of quantum physics, it’s suggested that some of the early contributors to the field, like Albert Einstein and Erwin Schroedinger, ended up walking away from the new physics, and even wishing they’d done something else. And modern writers like the mathematician Claes Johnson argue that physics took a wrong turn when, 100 years ago, Max Planck resorted in desperation to using quantum units of energy to explain the phenomena.

I don’t know, of course. But that little spoof article somehow crystallised the thought that the quantum physicists had all got completely lost, and were getting more lost every year.

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RIP Internet?

RIP Internet? Ron Paul:

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a non-elected federal government agency, voted three-to-two to reclassify broadband Internet as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act. This means that – without the vote of Congress, the peoples’ branch of government – a federal agency now claims the power to regulate the Internet. I am surprised that even among civil liberties groups some claim the federal government increasing regulation of the Internet somehow increases our freedom and liberty.

The truth is very different. The adoption of these FCC rules on the Internet represents the largest regulatory power grab in recent history. The FCC’s newly adopted rule takes the most dynamic means of communication and imposes the regulatory structure designed for public utilities. Federal regulation could also open the door to de facto censorship of ideas perceived as threatening to the political class – ideas like the troops should be brought home, the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, military spending and corporate welfare should be cut, and the Federal Reserve should be audited and ended.

The one bright spot in this otherwise disastrous move is that federal regulations making it more difficult to use the Internet will cause more Americans to join our movement for liberty, peace, and prosperity. The federal government should keep its hands off of the Internet!

Dave Hitt also.

And RIP Spock:

 

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Framework Convention on Cake Control

H/T Dick Puddlecote, latest WHO madness:

The health arm of the United Nations does not want companies advertising cake, ice cream, or ice pops to children.

It’s voluntary, for now. It goes on:

Banned without exception are pastries, croissants, cookies, sponge cakes, wafers, fruit pies, sweet buns, chocolate covered biscuits, cake mixes, and batters.

The list goes on: “Chocolate and other products containing cocoa; white chocolate; jelly, sweets and boiled sweets; chewing gum and bubble gum; caramels; liquorice sweets; spreadable chocolate and other sweet sandwich toppings; nut spreads, including peanut butter; cereal, granola and muesli bars; marzipan.”

Advertising for ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice pops, sorbets, and energy drinks would also be banned.

The relevant WHO document reports:

In July 2013 the ministers of health of the WHO European Member States adopted the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Non-communicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020. This Declaration acknowledged the high burden of disease caused by unhealthy diets in many countries of the Region and expressed particular concern about the rise of overweight and obesity among children.

You have to wonder what’s left that manufacturers will be allowed to advertise. And since tobacco advertising bans preceded smoking bans, you have to expect cake and ice cream bans to follow, all for the sake of the chiiiildren, of course.

But there may be some light at the end of the tunnel:

Pressure mounts on WHO chief over Ebola

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan must resign over the group’s inefficient response to the recent Ebola crisis, the largest global AIDS organization said.

In a scathing statement released this week, Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called for sweeping reforms to the WHO to better prevent and manage dangerous epidemics.

“In light of WHO’s lack of leadership, decisive action and resolve to embrace responsibility for the protection of global public health in the Ebola crisis, the current Head of WHO should step down so that a proactive, reform-minded individual might take the lead and transform WHO into an efficient global instrument for rapidly addressing global health threats,” AHF said.

What really needs to happen is for the whole lifestyle medicine paradigm that was introduced into the WHO in the 1990s by, among others, Gro Harlem Brundtland, to be dispensed with, and the WHO returned to its core purpose of dealing with real infectious diseases (like Ebola) rather than imaginary diseases like smoking and obesity. It needs root and branch reform.

Meanwhile, in Africa:

Efforts to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone have been dealt a setback after 31 new cases were recorded in one village.

The community of 500 just outside the town of Makeni has now been put in lockdown by the army amid fears that more could be infected.

The World Health Organisation said cases had been linked to one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown to go to his village for treatment from a traditional faith healer.

The quarantine area is a fishing community, yards from the hotel where many workers from humanitarian agencies have stayed.

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They Never Stop, Do They?

They never stop, do they?

Today’s call by for a ban on smoking in parks and squares attracted only a modest amount of media attention.

We’ve been here before of course because former Labour health minister Lord Darzi made a similar plea in October 2014 before he was shot down by Boris Johnson who called the idea “bossy”.

Darzi will no doubt return again and again to the subject, aided and abetted by an increasing number of politicians and anti-smoking campaigners, but for now there seems little enthusiasm for the proposal.

Actually, in the UK, it started with Stony Stratford. But this time it’s Simon Chapman who has objected:

Professor Simon Chapman at the University of Sydney says there is no scientific justification for such a draconian attack on basic freedoms.

He points out that no studies have looked at exposure in parks or on beaches – “almost certainly because researchers with any knowledge of airborne exposures would appreciate that such exposures would be so small, dissipated, and transitory as to be of no concern.”

He argues that outdoor bans based on communities’ amenity preferences “should not be dressed up in the language of public health” and says the line of shielding children from the sight of smoking “is pernicious and is redolent of totalitarian regimes in their penchants for repressing various liberties, communication, and cultural expression not sanctioned by the state.”

Coercing people to stop smoking in settings where it poses negligible risk to others is openly paternalistic, he writes. If it is fine to tell smokers that they cannot be seen to smoke anywhere in public, why not extend the same reasoning to drinkers or to people wolfing down supersized orders in fast food outlets?

I’m beginning to think that this is a tactic in the antis’ playbook. First make a name for yourself as an antismoking zealot. Then, somewhere down the track, say that some proposed new measure is outrageous/over the top/completely unjustified, and start fighting against your former allies in Tobacco Control (while remaining a zealot in all other respects). That way you get a bit of a name for standing up for smokers.

The point of the exercise is get your people not only into Tobacco Control (where they all start life anyway), but also into the opposition to Tobacco Control. Think of them as two armies: Tobacco Control on one side, and Libertarians on the other side. It would sure help Tobacco Control if many of the leading lights in the Libertarian army originated in Tobacco Control, and remained true believers, wouldn’t it?

So many people have done it that it’s beginning to look like standard practice. Michael Siegel. Clive Bates. Now Simon Chapman. You could say it was started by Richard Doll’s denial that there was any danger in secondhand smoke.

I’d steer well clear of such people. They’re all snakes.

And one for the girls: Russian Lawmakers Propose Banning Women Under 40 from Smoking.

Supporters of the law, which has been stuck in a parliamentary committee since June 2014, reason that the health risks posed to children by mothers smoking (such as increased odds of stillbirths, premature birth, cleft palates, and so on) outweigh any civil right to tobacco. The law would apply to all women, not just those who are pregnant. “Female smokers are often unable to carry a fetus to term or even become pregnant in the first place, as smoking kills an egg’s ability to be fertilized,” the legislation argues. The law would also ban the sale of tobacco products to women of any age in the presence of their non-adult children.

And following on from yesterday, a 5-year-old essay by John Brignell that’s as true today as it was back then.

How we know they know they are lying

There are major differences between real science and bureaucratic science (BS). Real science involves living with the prospect of failure. In BS, failure is not allowed. The whole project is mapped out beforehand in forms such as Gantt charts. There are deliverables that have to be delivered on the due date. With the exception of really big physics, real science is carried out by small groups. It is the same with BS, except that there are about five managers for every researcher. Above all the expected result must be delivered on time. Those who desire further patronage never report a negative result or, indeed, a result at variance with the expectations of the sponsors.

We can identify the “scientists” who habitually lie by the fact that they produce, on time, results that are never unexpected and always conform to the establishment-sponsored theory. Real science is never that predictable…

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Research Built on a House of Cards

It’s about time someone said this:

Diet research built on a ‘house of cards’?

The next time a headline about diet and disease catches your eye, check the fine print of the study.

If it is based on a food questionnaire — and there’s a good chance it will be — then the conclusions should be handled with caution.

That’s because people don’t tell the truth, not even to scientists.

Scientists know this. Research has proven it. It’s been an awkward problem in nutrition science for more than 40 years.

And that’s long enough, according to an international group of nutrition researchers. They’ve launched a campaign to end the use of one of the most common research tools in nutrition science.

“All of these studies, if they are based on self-report estimates of energy intake, really don’t contain scientifically meaningful information,” said David Allison, a prominent obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author on a report signed by 45 scientists from around the world.

This matters, the expert group warned, because the flawed data could result in public health policies that are not science-based, but built on a “house of cards,” Allison said.

We’re talking about hundreds if not thousands of papers published every year.

Is a high-fat diet linked to breast cancer?  Do fruit and vegetables protect against Alzheimer’s disease?  How much of obesity can be explained by eating too many calories?

To get those answers, scientists need to gather data about who ate what, and when. So they ask research subjects to self-report, to think back, sometimes over months and years, and fill in a detailed food questionnaire about what they ate.

Other studies ask people to keep food diaries. And sometimes the researchers do random spot checks, calling subjects and asking them to remember everything they’ve eaten for the last 24 hours.

But because humans are very bad at admitting or remembering what they ate, all the self-reported methods have shown evidence of bias.

I’ve been saying something like this for ages. And it applies to tobacco ‘research’ as well, of course. Nothing is measured accurately. The numbers are all fuzzy. All ‘research’ done using questionnaires should be regarded as unscientific. It should never be used as the underpinning for research conclusions or policy decisions.

He admits the group is taking a controversial stand that has sparked mixed reaction from the nutrition science community.

“It varies a lot with who you ask,” Allison said. “Much of the scientific community applauds us and says it’s a refreshing point of view.”

“And as you might expect, some individuals who have based much of their research career and program on the use of these methods say we can’t abandon them because in part we don’t have anything better.”

Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, who has done some of the research that has exposed the bias in self-reported data, agrees the data is flawed. But she says if researchers perform a backup biomarker study they can correct for some of those biases.

Biomarker studies using urinalysis are accepted methods of accurately measuring energy intake. But that requires research subjects to be brought into a lab for a urine test. Researchers say that’s too expensive and impractical for large-population studies.

Considering the obesity epidemic and the level of chronic disease, surprisingly little work is being done to improve methods, said Ross Prentice, a professor of biostatistics at the Hutchinson Centre.

Technical solutions being considered include chin-mounted “chew monitors,” or wrist monitors that measure hand-to-mouth movements.  Some have suggested using smart phones to take photographs of food.

Allison prefers a biologically based approach, perhaps a test of breath or urine for products of digestion, which does not depend on the honour system and the fallibility of human memory.

I can see a problem with wrist monitors that measure hand-to-mouth movements: Smokers would come out way ahead of everyone.

And chew monitors would call out people who like to chew gum.

And let’s suppose that biomarker studies using urinalysis accurately measure energy intake. They won’t, however, measure energy expenditure. And if people are only eating what they need to balance intake with expenditure, then a lumberjack cutting down trees with a hand axe in the depths of winter will be expending far more energy than someone sitting quietly in a warm room, and will need to have an energy intake to match it. You only know if someone is over-eating or under-eating if you also know their energy expenditure as well.

Basically, the whole field is wall-to-wall bad science, and probably always will be. And the best thing that could happen would be for the funding for all of it to be terminated. Because if you can’t do good research, you’d best not do any at all.

If you haven’t got a telescope with sufficient resolution to be able to see the canals on Mars, you shouldn’t be trying to draw maps of them. And, who knows, there might not be any canals at all on Mars.

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars. These were a network of long straight lines in the equatorial regions from 60° N. to 60° S. Lat. on the planet Mars. They were first described by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli during the opposition of 1877, and confirmed by later observers. Schiaparelli called these canali, which was translated into English as “canals”. The Irish astronomer Charles E. Burton made some of the earliest drawings of straight-line features on Mars, although his drawings did not match Schiaparelli’s. By the early 20th century, improved astronomical observations revealed the “canals” to be an optical illusion, and modern high resolution mapping of the Martian surface by spacecraft shows no such features.

Sciaparelli's map of Martian canals

Sciaparelli’s map of Martian canals

Just as a matter of interest, I got hold of another more recent NASA/JPL map of Mars (click to enlarge). I found Tharsis. Chryse, Eden, Arabia, and Hellas in both of them.

mars-map2

More at Science Daily.

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Corruption in High Places

cloud-over-humanity-1024x768

Lots of resignations today. Which is always a good thing.

There’s been the resignation of UN IPCC boss Rajendra Pachauri, facing sexual harassment charges. More about Pachauri from Donna Laframboise.

And the resignation of ex-Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind  (but not yet ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw) from parliament in the Cash for Access scandal.

Sir Malcolm also described himself as “self-employed” and had to “earn my income” — despite being paid £67,000 by the taxpayer for his work as an MP. The disclosure that two of Britain’s most senior politicians are embroiled in a new “cash for access” scandal highlights Parliament’s failure to address the issue which has plagued British politics for a generation.

 Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Westminster standards watchdog, said it was “shocking” that two experienced MPs responded to the approaches in the way that they did.

He expressed concern that Sir Malcolm was “so willing to sell himself” with his “enormous range of contact lists”. He added that it was against the rules for Mr Straw to attempt to negotiate a business contract in his Commons office.

They’re not the only ones, of course. British MPs earned more than £7m outside of Parliament in 2014.

What’s to stop someone like Bloomberg buying politicians, in order to push through antismoking laws? Nothing that I can see. And £7 million would be peanuts to him.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn one day that this is exactly what happened. They were all bought.

And from a comment on Bishop Hill blog about the nutjobs in the UK parliament:

One gentleman, a once and future cabinet minister, was significantly more senior. He took the floor and told us that, upon election, the Cameron administration would fight global warming tooth and nail. If it were up to him, he said, Britain would become a zero-carbon society overnight. It was, he said, “a matter of the highest moral obligation”.

This made our ears prick up. One thing we’ve learned is that when people, especially politicians, start making decisions based on a reading of their moral compass, facts tend to be amongst the first casualties. We asked the minister what he meant by “moral obligation”.

“If it weren’t for England,” he continued, “the world wouldn’t be in the state it’s in. None of this would have happened.” He gestured upward and outward. The “this,” he implied, meant this room, this building, the city of London, all civilization.

We must have looked puzzled, for he explained further. England, he said, having started the Industrial Revolution, led the rest of the world down the path towards pollution, environmental degradation, and global warming. It was therefore England’s obligation to take the lead in undoing the damage.

And people like this become ministers?

Vaclav Klaus on Communism’s Comeback:

I expected to live in a much more free and democratic society and economy than is the case today.

It was caused partly by the victory of social democracy in our country and partly by the importing of the European economic system, with its overregulation, high taxation and redistribution, welfare state, and fascination with all kinds of anti-market measures, connected nowadays mostly with environmentalism, with its anti-democratic social ideology which successfully hides its real substance while pretending to care about nature, the environment and our Blue Planet. We may be oversensitive in this respect because of our long Communist experience but we see many similar phenomena, tendencies, ambitions and arguments around us today.

And finally, via ZeroHedge, Dr Pippa Malmgren, former member of the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, talking refreshingly about… financial markets, the euro, QE, and more.

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