Sep 202021

In the UK there is something known as “vehicle excise duty” which the owners of some motorised vehicles have to pay. Before 1937, this was paid into a road fund used exclusively to pay for the creation of the road network. But from that date, roads are funded out of general taxation and local council taxes.

Which means that everyone (or just about everyone) is paying for the roads and that is no bad thing – we all benefit to some extent (although the pollution is a bit of a drag).

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar

The interesting thing is that because local roads are locally funded (to an extent), there is a good chance that a pedestrian is paying more for the roads within a city than the car driver – the driver is more likely to be a visitor to the city and thus pays considerably less. So by the argument that whoever pays should have priority, it should be the pedestrian who does!

Sep 182021

There are a fair number of memes out there at the moment throwing rocks at people who “do their own research” (meaning reading a few articles online).

The point they are trying to make is not unreasonable – casual reading up on a subject doesn’t trump the results of professional researchers results.

On the other hand, reading the right sources is research; not as valuable as academic research with all that extra “stuff”, but research nevertheless. The OED definition includes :-

To engage in research upon (a subject); to investigate or study closely.

Doesn’t say a whole lot about publishing papers in a peer-reviewed journal, the scientific method, or all that other tedious stuff that separates the professional academic researcher from the amateur.

There is of course a whole other post on how to do research properly in terms of background reading :-

  1. Wikipedia may be a good start but it’s just that – a start.
  2. You need to assess the trustworthiness of a source; if nobody trusts the source you’re reading it probably means the source can’t be trusted.
  3. You’re looking for accepted wisdom; you need to do a lot more work to start looking at the kooky stuff.
Unnatural Nature
Aug 282021

There’s a bunch of idiots currently poisoning themselves by taking Ivermectin as a cure or preventative for Covid-19. Which is doubly-dumb because not only is there no real evidence that ivermectin will do anything to deal with Covid-19, but these idiots are all too frequently getting their dose from horse-worming medication because the stocks of ivermectin for people has all run out.

Yes you read that right ivermectin is an approved medication for people when the dosage is appropriate. But it is not approved for treating Covid-19; it is intended to treat parasites.

And nobody with any sense would suggest ivermectin paste intended for use on horses :-

  1. The dose of ivermectin for a 700Kg horse is way higher than for a person who typically weighs under 100Kg. And yes the weight makes a difference – LD50 is the measure of how poisonous a drug is, which is specified per kilogram of the subject’s weight.
  2. An oral preparation of a drug for a horse may well contain ingredients not suitable for people.

So taking ivermectin without checking the ingredients and adjusting the dosage is really dumb especially when taking it for something it hasn’t been shown to be effective for.

And don’t take the advice of random strangers on the Internet; some of us aren’t qualified as pharmacists. Consult proper experts.

Setting Sail
Aug 282021

To be a nice person there are all sorts of things to avoid – racism, sexism, transphobism, ableism, and probably a whole lot more -isms. Which is really rather complicated but it can be boiled down to the very simple :-

Just don’t be an arsehole.

That’s it. No special magic, just treat everyone in the way you would like to be treated :-

  1. Don’t stick your nose into other peoples’ private sex life; it’s none of your business.
  2. If someone decides to transition their gender, don’t worry about it – just address them with their preferred pronoun and name, and job done. And whilst we’re about it (with particular reference to TERFs), don’t invent bullshit reasons to be an arsehole.
  3. Colour is just skin-deep. It’s a spectacularly dumb reason to be labeled an arsehole.
  4. Someone doesn’t share your religious belief? That’s their problem (or yours).

The list could go on and on.

But it can all be simplified – if someone isn’t directly causing harm to others, what they are up to is their business not yours. Just don’t be an arsehole.

Aug 092021

This is related to the Scuntthorpe problem although it looks more at the meaning of a word rather than its appearance. This particular issue cropped up when a Facebook group I’m a member of briefly blew up (in a very English way) when Facebook prevented us mentioning that a particular shop was well known for its faggots.

But perhaps I should explain what I mean by faggots; the word itself has had plenty of meanings from bundles of wood (or any bundle) to a naughty child; in the case we’re talking about it is about a British meatball – the faggot.

Now this isn’t a “freedom of speech” thing – I’m not arguing those who denigrate homosexuals should get off scot free. But blindly banning the word “faggot” can have unintended consequences.

That posting on Facebook I mentioned? It went an interesting way – the blame wasn’t put on naïve censorship software but on political correctness itself. Whilst that was a mistake, there is now a few members of that group that will automatically respond badly whenever “political correctness” is mentioned and start talking about edible faggots.

When the blame is squarely with the censorship software that doesn’t take context into account – when you’re talking about “faggots and onions” or “a faggot shop”, you’re unlikely to be throwing rocks at homosexuals.

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