Thursday, 25 October 2012

Where Can I Find A 300-Metre Cocktail Stick?

A note came home today with my daughter's half-term homework assignment. I was pleased to note that it was about science, but less happy that it did not appear to have been thought out properly. The task was to make a 3D model of the solar system - fair enough - but the teacher took the trouble to include a chart listing the relative sizes and distances of all the planets (including Pluto, but I won't quibble about that). She also suggested using cocktail sticks to show the planets orbiting an orange Sun (literally an orange), and constrained the maximum size of the model to 60cm across.

I had to point out that if the Sun was represented by an orange of, say, 7cm in diameter, then Pluto would need to be a mere 0.1mm across, and fastened to the orange by a cocktail stick of length 297.37 metres. I don't believe this is what was envisaged.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What Doctors Don't Tell You Because It's Outrageous Tripe

In the little coffee shop/newsagent at the technology park where I work I noticed today the new magazine "What Doctors Don't Tell You" (ghastly website here). I only had to read the cover to become speechless with indignation. Among its lead articles we find "I Avoided A Hysterectomy Through Diet" and "Sunbathe Your Diabetes Away". I mean, really, it would actually be quite funny if they weren't shamelessly exploiting people's health fears and natural distrust of "Big Pharma" to sell vitamin pills and other diet supplements.

If I may be permitted to mix my metaphors for a moment, there is so much outrageous bollocks in this steaming pile of offal that it's hard to know where to begin - but fortunately, the cavalry is coming. Check out the Sceptical Letter Writer's comprehensive guide to all the unsubstantiated and overblown nonsense within the first issue. I was going to write to the Advertising Standards Authority, but apparently there's already a major multiple complaint in progress.

If you know anyone who might be at risk of being sucked in by this...this...let me just make it clear once frickin' money-grubbing cynical scaremongering lunacy, then please, direct them to Ron's wholly excellent piece or the Quackometer post about it in the hope that they may be saved.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I just came across this IM I sent in 2008 in answer to the question "why are you so cross?":
I am in my mid-forties and have achieved none of my half-arsed goals. The man I see in the mirror is liked a tired, fat version of my Dad, which is not how I naturally feel inside. I seem unable to inspire or help you in your various struggles. I have lost the prop of my faith, which at least used to keep me unreasonably optimistic. My daughter is growing up fast, reminding me that the past is dead, and that I am, ultimately, dying. I note that the world at large generally fails to appreciate my brilliance, which annoys me and yet at the same time feeds my "told you everything is crap" mentality. AND my feckin' ear is blocked.
I can now report, dear reader, some progress, in that my ear is no longer blocked. Onwards and upwards.