Random Thoughts

Ah, Cuba

Ah, Cuba

Dec 18 2014 | 1 comment(s)

Ah, Cuba. My father’s college roommate’s mother – are you following so far? – was a travel agent, and had gone on one of these agent junkets to Havana. She danced with the dictator Batista at a formal ball, and returned to the US with stars in her eyes. When my parents married, nothing would do, she insisted, but for them to honeymoon in Cuba.

It is often said that the middle of the road is the worst place to drive, yet centrists pride themselves on always arguing the opposite of whatever the conversation is. They believe we should split the difference on all issues, though the actual functioning of the United Nations should have put a stake into the heart of that political vampire by now. 

It turns out centrists are endangering their health in other ways, according to BMJ's annual Christmas issue, because by 'sitting on the fence' they are likely to be fatter than commies - especially Trotzkyites, who are always springing from political fad to political fad - and neo-Nazis too.


Travel Blog

Travel Blog

Dec 11 2014 | 0 comment(s)

While I do intend to update this blog today or tomorrow with a report on a nice new measurement, my blogging activities have generally slowed down a bit this week, as I am traveling. On Monday I flew from Venice to Paris and then to Miami (in a brand new A380 - that was the first time for me on that giant plane). On the next day I flew to Cancun, and then headed to Playa del Carmen where I am currently staying. 
Neatly Scattered Papers

In an article in Scientific American* on the possibility of time running backwards, the author states:
Increasing entropy is a cosmic certainty because there are always a great many more disordered states than orderly ones for any given system, similar to how there are many more ways to scatter papers across a desk than to stack them neatly in a single pile.

That sentence contains an implied statement of fact: "there are many more ways to scatter papers across a desk than to stack them neatly in a single pile."

But is it a fact?
In a popular pop music song called "All About That Bass", accomplished songwriter Meghan Trainor took center stage in a video and America by storm.

With an engaging 1940s sound (1) and a positive body image message, it was quickly embraced.

Well, positive body image unless you were under a size 12, in which case you were one of the "skinny bitches", but that is not what this article is about. Fat women have won, as the thin girl getting bullied in the video showed: 


Great - after posting a blog on alpha_strong and the new CMS measurement of its value yesterday, today I am leaving for the US. My internet connection is going to be shaky during my trip, and right now I am living on the free airport wifi in Paris, waiting to board on my flight. But fortunately, I don't need to worry about answering the comments I receive to that post  - in fact the two main commenters, Vladimir and John, are answering each other well enough that I do not need to intervene...

Not Hitler. This is Edward Burton, also known as Eric Arthur Blair, also known as George Orwell

By Luke Seaber, University College London


Best to keep it under the covers? Lisa S.

By Sally O'Reilly, The Open University

Diet Is Over

Diet Is Over

Dec 04 2014 | 13 comment(s)

Four months ago I started a diet, as my weight had gone above my comfort zone (77kg, when my optimal weight is of about 70kg). I basically implemented a regime (which has worked in the past) of about 1300 calories a day, cutting mostly on extras (desserts, snacks, alcohol) and bread, and just eating a bit less of everything.
Tomorrow I will be eating and science will barely be on my mind.

It will be on some minds. Some people will be trying to find a creative way to make vegan turkey, or free-range stuffing, and generally avoid all chemicals. Good luck with that.

Thanksgiving is Hell for chemophobes, though so are the other 364 days when they get hit with the scientific mic-drop notion that every food on earth contains a carcinogen known to cause cancer in rats

Labels won't save you, it's all stuffed with chemicals, we just don't get told about them on labels if a chicken craps them out: