Soccer Moms want to outlaw heading – in California of course!

August 28, 2014

If these soccer Moms get their way, the number of headers per game will be restricted – say 5 per player per game? A goal scored by a 6th header would then have to be disallowed and the player sent off (substitution allowed). The case is being brought in California – and being California the judge will probably allow the case and – in a fit of excessive prudence – set a limit of 3 headers per player per game. Or he could insist that helmets be worn. And being California I expect some are going to make much money from this law-suit.

Why don’t the molly-coddling Moms just start a new game for their poor vulnerable dears — one without tackling perhaps? and preferably without a ball?

NYT:

A group of soccer parents and players filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday morning against FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, over its handling of concussions. Filed in United States District Court in California, the suit also names American soccer organizations, including U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization, charging that they and FIFA have been negligent in monitoring and treating head injuries.

The plaintiffs do not seek financial damages but ask for changes to the sport’s rules, such as limiting headers for children and altering FIFA’s substitution protocols. With the N.F.L., the N.H.L. and the N.C.A.A. involved in concussion litigation, soccer’s governing bodies are the latest to face a lawsuit over head injuries.

Panda accused of maternity benefits fraud

August 28, 2014

Probably proof that Pandas are evolving – or at least – learning.

Giant panda Ai Hin put on a 'phantom pregnancy', possibly because she wanted special treatment, her Chinese keepers say.

Panda Ai Hin accused of maternity benefits fraud Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian:

Hopes that tiny panda paws would be seen in the world’s first live-broadcast cub delivery have been dashed after Chinese experts suggested the “mother” may have been focusing more on extra bun rations than giving birth.

The slated star of the show, giant panda Ai Hin, had shown signs of pregnancy at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, according to state news agency Xinhua.

A live broadcast of the event was planned but Xinhua said her “behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal”, citing experts saying she experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.

The breeding centre, in China’s south-western province of Sichuan, commonly moves pandas that are thought to be pregnant into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care.

“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju, an expert at the base told Xinhua.

From perverting schools to perverting children to being perverted ISIS murderers

August 27, 2014

Why so much perversion among Bristish Muslim youth?

It could just be my perception, but on the basis of recent news reports one would be justified in concluding that Muslim youth in Britain – in particular – are a perverted lot. And protected and shielded by others of their communities. From the stealth hijacking of Birmingham schools  in an effort to create bigoted madrassas by the back door, or the obscene perversions of their Rotherham brethren, to the apparently retarded youth joining ISIS and exulting in murderous  jihadi cool.

The centre of any religion or movement is defined by the extremes that the centre allows. Clearly the extremes of perversion being exhibited among their youth are not sufficiently opposed by main-stream “moderate” Muslims in Britain. The extremes are defining Islam in the UK. The travails of immigrant youth are not restricted to just the Muslim community in the UK. Other immigrant groups have the same difficulties of language and alienation and unemployment to contend with, but the Muslim youth of the UK seem to be grossly over-represented in the perversion stakes.

It cannot just be poor academic achievements at school except that that may be an indicator of something else. Possibly they mirror something in the environment in which they are brought up and the attitudes of their parents.  But political correctness and the fear of being seen as racist by the authorities has probably led to the “appeasement” policies that have been followed. Turning a blind eye to barbaric practices because they are “religious” is a poor excuse. As in this University of Warwick paper from 2010 where the problem statement is fine,

Including the religious viewpoints and experiences of Muslim students in an environment that is both plural and secular

…….Another reason for the persistence of the Muslim education question is a concern that has greater priority for education professionals than observance of religious practices, the serious underachievement of children and young people of Pakistani, Bangladeshi heritage, and, more recently, of Somali and Turkish heritage groups. In 2004 the Office for National Statistics reported that 33% of British Muslims of working age had no qualifications, the highest proportion of any religious group in the country. They also had the highest rates of unemployment and poorest health.

but where the proposed solution seems to shirk the issue of values and panders instead to “religious” viewpoints

…… I shall argue for a form of inclusion that moves beyond making Muslim pupils feel affirmed or comfortable and allows them to contribute their religious perspectives to their own and others’ learning. A directness of communication is needed that is not found in the identity-based approaches where the language used about religion is secondary and indirect. Identity-based approaches justify the accommodation of aspects of Muslim pupils’ religion in school in terms of the self-esteem and self-confidence of the believer, rather than of any intrinsic value in that which they believe.

I suspect that it is not the schools alone that are the problem (the Chinese and the Indian immigrant children seem to do fine there) but that the home environment (not wealth or poverty but attitudes) which is the major factor which distinguishes the under-achievers.

No doubt this article in The Spectator is “politically incorrect” and a little over the top but it is not wrong.

The Spectator

Under the Conservative and then Labour governments, radical preachers toured Britain trying to rally and isolate Muslim youth. They said that to be a Muslim you had to sympathise with your Muslim ‘brothers’ anywhere in the world. What you should not do was to feel any of that gratitude or desire to assimilate which had existed in their parents’ generation.

Everywhere, this madness was allowed to spread. Religiously segregated areas were accepted, separate values were allowed to thrive and, eventually, even separate rules of law tolerated and encouraged. All the time, we pretended to ourselves that this was simply ‘diversity’. I remember one Muslim woman in particular, who I interviewed in Birmingham some years ago. Born and bred in the area, she had been horribly mistreated by her local sharia court. ‘All my life,’ she told me, ‘I have been told what my rights are as a Muslim woman. No one ever told me what my rights are as a British woman.’ …..

In 2007, one of Michael Howard’s creations, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) published a 72-page blueprint on how to Islamicise secular state schools. It called for schools to avoid teaching any art involving ‘three-dimensional imagery of humans’, and discourage any play ‘associated with celebrating aspects of other religions’. There was no particular complaint. One of the two authors of the MCB report, Tahir Alam, is now a central figure being investigated in the Trojan Horse plot.

Culture changes inevitably with immigration. It evolves and must be allowed to. But far too often the politically correct “multi-culturlaism” as practiced in Europe is more concerned about keeping cultures in isolated silos. It tries to preserve the past rather than to forge the culture of the future. A medieval barbarism should not be acceptable or allowed to overthrow existing values just because it has been labelled as being part of a “religious culture”.

How much of global warming is due to data corruption?

August 27, 2014

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is scrabbling trying to defend why the intentional corruption of data is justified. Dr. Jennifer Marohasy has a new post demonstrating that the excuses being offered do not hold up.

Whereas the Australian establishment uses “homogenisation” as their euphemism for “intentional data corruption”, the US uses “adjustment” : How NOAA Data Tampering Destroys Science

The temperature record at Rutherglen has been corrupted by managers at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Of course raw data often needs to be adjusted but when the magnitude of the data adjustment is greater than the magnitude of the conclusion, then the adjustments or homogenisation become “data corruption” or ” data tampering”. As my Professor, Doug Elliott,  once told me – some 40 years ago – when I wanted to make calculated corrections for presumed errors due to radiation in flame temperature measurements, “You can argue for whatever corrections you want to make, but you cannot replace the measurement. The measurement is the measurement is the measurement”.

A “science” built on the falsification of data?

As was recently pointed out, fudging both data and model results seems endemic in “climate science”:

a recent paper from ETH Zurich.

If the model data is corrected downwards, as suggested by the ETH researchers, and

the measurement data is corrected upwards, as suggested by the British and Canadian researchers,

then the model and actual observations are very similar.

 

A cardiology journal not to be published in (unless you cannot publish anywhere else)

August 26, 2014

Predatory on-line journals are stretching the envelope of creative and lucrative ways of making money from the web. And researchers desperate to get something published are their willing victims. At $1200 a paper it is now possible to bypass the irritations of referees and peer-review and copy editing and a long delay between submission and publication!

Ottawa Citizen:

Important notice

A respected Canadian medical journal that was sold to offshore owners last year is now printing scientific junk for hire, but still trading on its original good name.

Experimental & Clinical Cardiology was published in Oakville, Ont., for 17 years and had a solid reputation for printing original medical research. It was sold in 2013, and its new owners say they are in Switzerland, but do their banking in Turks and Caicos.

And for $1,200 U.S. they’ll print anything — even a garbled blend of fake cardiology, Latin grammar and missing graphs submitted by the Citizen.

Experimental And Clinical Cardiology

The journal was flagged last month by Jeffrey Beall, a university librarian in Colorado who compiles a widely-followed list of “predatory” publishers. These are in the business of printing research that isn’t good enough for real science journals. They make it look legitimate, charging a fee to authors desperate to boost their careers.

Now this one has a special Canadian connection. As well, it is demonstrating a new and wildly profitable model for predatory journals.

Instead of running a cheap startup website and hunting for clients, it took over the identity — and readership — of an established business. 

This is paying off spectacularly. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology published 142 articles in July alone, worth a total of $170,000 U.S. for one month. It operates online only and doesn’t bother with editing, so it has almost no costs.

The result is sloppy, or worse. Some articles are called “Enter Paper Title” — the layout instructions instead of the intended title. One is filled with visible paragraph markers (). Some authors’ names are missing.

Scientists are worried because academic journals do more than print research. They also screen it by sending it to independent reviewers — experts in the field who can weed out low-quality work.

But the “predatory” journals skip this step. They accept everything verbatim, making it appear that experts have approved it. ……. 

Experimental and Clinical Cardiology

Open access publishing is not without costs. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology therefore levies an article-processing charge USD1200 for each article accepted for publication.

It is all perfectly legal and they probably accept all publications providing the $1200 is forthcoming.

Cloud Image wins National Geographic competition

August 26, 2014

See also the clouds at this post.

The Independence day by Marko Korošec 2014 NG Traveler winner

The Independence day by Marko Korošec 2014 NG Traveler winner

First Place Winner: The Independence Day

Photo and caption by Marko Korošec

While on storm chasing expeditions in Tornado Alley in the U.S. I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching a storm near Julesburg, Colorado, on May 28, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but it stayed an LP [low precipitation] storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail, and some rain.

National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year’s judges, shares his thoughts on the first-place winner:

“This winning photo of a supercell over the plains of eastern Colorado stopped the judges in our tracks. When we first saw the picture we guessed that the photographer probably had dedicated quite a bit of time chasing storms to capture such an amazing sight. But what makes the picture particularly strong is that except for the cloud, the rest of the scene is quite ordinary. The crazy UFO-looking shape gives the impression that it’s going to suck up the landscape like a tablecloth into a vacuum cleaner. The unresolved tension in the image makes me want to look at it over and over.”

Location: Julesburg, Colorado, USA

How to drill a square hole

August 26, 2014
how to drill a square hole (via imgur)

how to drill a square hole (via imgur)

gif image from here

A new, “warmer” header

August 25, 2014

I have changed the image on the header, partly because the colours of autumn – which is only just setting in -are quite breathtaking and yet very warm (though the image is from October 2013).

And I find that I am posting on whatever takes my fancy and not just about energy and environment – but they are all just opinions.

Previous header image – winter

 

Swedish fish thrive on anti-anxiety drugs

August 25, 2014

Silver linings.

Not all man-made waste is detrimental to wildlife. Pike (perch) in waters contaminated with anti-anxiety drugs were found to be more social, had an increased survival rate on hatching and showed more activity 30 days after hatching. Generally the beneficial effects of man-made “contaminants” are neither expected nor looked for. “Most studies of risks from pharmaceutical pollution are conducted along the lines of standard tests for environmental toxins in ecosystems. …. and are structured in a way that hampers the detection of possible positive effects of medicinal contaminants”.

Perhaps anti-anxiety medication (like benzodiazepines or antidepressants or beta-blockers) could be used more widely – intentionally – for the mass treatment of unacceptably anxious or aggressive animals? I particularly like the comment that the fish were more social. I have a vision of man eating tigers being socialised on Prozac!

Nordic Science: Swedish scientists showed in 2013 that pike (or perch) that came in contact with water contaminated with the drug Oxazepam ― commonly used to treat anxiety ― exhibited changes in behaviour. They became more social and even more daring in their hunt for food.

Swedish researcher Tomas Brodin and his colleagues have returned with a new publication about the perch that lived in an experimental environment laced with antidepressants. They actually fared better than fish in water free of the drug. Fewer of the lightly drugged fish died over the course of the experiment.

J Klaminder et al, The conceptual imperfection of aquatic risk assessment tests: highlighting the need for tests designed to detect therapeutic effects of pharmaceutical contaminants, Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2014) 084003, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/8/084003

Abstract

Standardized ecotoxicological tests still constitute the fundamental tools when doing risk-assessment of aquatic contaminants. These protocols are managed towards minimal mortality in the controls, which is not representative for natural systems where mortality is often high. This methodological bias, generated from assays where mortality in the control group is systematically disregarded, makes it difficult to measure therapeutic effects of pharmaceutical contaminants leading to lower mortality. This is of concern considering that such effects on exposed organisms still may have substantial ecological consequences. In this paper, we illustrate this conceptual problem by presenting empirical data for how the therapeutic effect of Oxazepam—a common contaminant of surface waters—lower mortality rates among exposed Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) from wild populations, at two different life stages. We found that fry hatched from roe that had been exposed to dilute concentrations (1.1 ± 0.3 μg l−1) of Oxazepam for 24 h 3–6 days prior to hatching showed lower mortality rates and increased activity 30 days after hatching. Similar effects, i.e. increased activity and lower mortality rates were also observed for 2-year old perch exposed to dilute Oxazepam concentrations (1.2 ± 0.4 μg l−1). We conclude that therapeutic effects from pharmaceutical contaminants need to be considered in risk assessment assays to avoid that important ecological effects from aquatic contaminants are systematically missed.

Tony Blair as spin doctor for ISIS next?

August 25, 2014

Tony Blair’s venal opportunism in Kazakhstan is well established. After the massacre of 15 civilian protesters in 2011, he has had a lucrative business acting as spin doctor for President Nursultan Nazarbeyev by video interviews and personal advice and speech writing.

The GuardianIn a letter to Nursultan Nazarbeyev, Blair told the autocratic ruler that the December 2011 deaths, “tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made”. Blair advised Nazarbeyev that when dealing with the western media, he should tackle the events in Zhanaozen, when police opened fire on protesters, including oil workers demanding higher wages, “head-on”. ……  he also suggested passages to be inserted into a speech the president was giving at the University of Cambridge aimed at counteracting any bad publicity. One read: “By all means make your points and I assure you we’re listening. But give us credit for the huge change of a positive nature we have brought about”.

The former Labour leader’s consultancy, Tony Blair Associates, set up in the capital, Astana, in October 2011, signing a multi- million pound deal to advise Kazakhstan’s leadership on good governance, just months after Nazarbeyev was controversially re-elected with 96% of the vote and weeks before the massacre.

Tony Blair is also – believe it or not – the EU’s Middle East Envoy!

While one could question the wisdom (folly?) of the EU in such a choice, there is no doubt that Blair will be able to, and will, leverage this appointment to win future consultancy contracts in the Middle East. He is gaining – based on his record – quite a reputation as being able to “spin” death and destruction to the media and to politicians as “regrettable but unavoidable and don’t forget all the good things”. He well knows how to “sex” up a dossier.

It is now reported that the gruesome and barbarous murder of James Foley by a British ISIS Jihadi also had publicity objectives.

News.comTHE beheading of American journalist, James Foley, at the hands of ISIS militants shocked the world but forensic experts have revealed the video was probably staged, with the murder happening off camera. ….. ……… an international forensic science company, which has worked for police forces across Britain, said there is no question Foley was beheaded but that camera trickery and post-production techniques look to have been used.

“I think it has been staged,” said one expert in visual forensics, after he was commissioned by The UK Times to examine the footage. “My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”

Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum think-tank, said over the years ISIS militants have improved the production quality of their videos.

The analysis by experts has highlighted a number of inconsistencies that could suggest that the beheading of Foley, which was seen on the video, was not his actual death.

ISIS is not short of money. The Spanish, French and German governments have been reported to have paid large ransoms to ISIS to get their hostages released. The reports are of tens of millions of Euros paid. The demand for releasing James Foley was said to have been $132 million. But the UK and the US generally do not pay ransoms. In any event,  “ISIS has about $2 billion in its war chest”. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar are also apparently quite generous in their funding of ISIS.

So ISIS would seem to be able to afford the best in weapons. They would even have the funds sufficient and necessary to employ Tony Blair Associates. Blair should be able to come up with some helpful and creative suggestions for ISIS on how to get more positive coverage from the world media and improve upon the scripts to be used in their video executions?


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