Word of the day

March 22, 2013

Aubade – a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking dawn; a piece sung or played outdoors at dawn, usually as a compliment to someone; poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn.


Paperless future

March 22, 2013

Friday’s answers

March 22, 2013

Andrei asked the only Thursday question, thanks.

Grant and Willdwan gave answers – were they right?


Liberal resistance to science organised, destructive

March 22, 2013

If a large corporation was responsible for the deaths of millions of children it would be an international scandal.

But the actions of the well organised, well funded, liberal left wing political movements have done that through their emotional and non-science based opposition to genetic modification and it hardly gets a mention.

Glenn Garvin writes:

If this column appeared under the headline, “Massive defeat for the anti-science forces,” you would naturally assume I’m talking about some kind of setback for conservative Republicans, right? And you would be completely wrong.

The losers in this case are the Luddite shock troops of progressivism like Greenpeace. And the winners are the children of the Philippines, thousands of whom will not go blind or die because the anti-science wing of modern liberalism finally is getting some pushback.

The Filipino government has finally approved the planting of genetically modified rice that contains vitamin A. “Golden rice,” as the stuff is called, probably won’t make a splash in the United States, but in the Third World, it will be a godsend. Between a quarter-million and a half-million children go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency, the United Nations says, and half of them die within 12 months. Some studies put the figure even higher.

As many as 300 million of the people at high risk for vitamin A deficiency live in countries where the staple food is rice. For them, golden rice will provide a quick, easy and cheap fix: eating just two ounces a day will provide 60 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A.

But that hasn’t stopped Greenpeace and other Luddite-left activists from fighting a scorched-earth war to stop golden rice. For more than a dozen years — or, if you prefer to keep score in the lives of children, 8 million dead — they’ve kept golden rice off the market by calling it Frankenfood and insisting that it will wreck the environment and spread dependence on Western capitalism.

What role does science play in the left-wing opposition to golden rice and other genetically modified crops? None. Study after study has shown no detectable deleterious effects on human health from genetically altered foods. And two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that golden rice is an even better vehicle for delivery of vitamin A than spinach, the wonder vegetable.

Caution with anything new is advisable, even admirable. The anti-science, anti-business of the luddites is putting politics before health and economic wellbeing.

Every time some lone Republican nut from Hooterville makes a jackass statement about rape or evolution, it’s immediately ascribed as a doctrinal belief of the entire GOP and conservatives in general. But liberal resistance to science is far more organized, far more destructive and far less covered in the media . 

He continues with instances where assertions without science have had a huge impact:

— Millions of American parents refused to have their children vaccinated for diseases like whooping cough and measles after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an error-ridden tirade in Rolling Stone and the left-wing website Salon in 2005 linking vaccines to autism and other neurological disturbances.

Six years later, Salon retracted the article, yet many parents remain convinced of the linkage to this day — one of whom now sits in the White House. “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” Barack Obama said during his 2008 campaign. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included.” Obama’s spurious worries about vaccines led to manufacturing changes that caused a shortage of flu vaccine in the winter of 2009.

— Virtually no nuclear-power plants have been built in the United States during the past four decades, the result of continuous left-wing scare stories. Australian physician Helen Caldicott has become a folk hero — 21 honorary degrees and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize — for her anti-nuke campaign, the centerpiece of which is that the explosion at the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear reactor led to nearly a billion deaths and countless hideous birth defects.

Actual death toll, according the U.N.’s scientific committee on nuclear radiation: less than 100. Actual birth defects: zero. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences says that the chances of radiation-induced changes in human sperm and eggs are so low that it has never been detected in human beings, “even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” There may be good reasons for opposing nuclear power — mainly, that the industry is a bloated corporate welfare tick that cannot survive without massive government subsidy — but science isn’t one of them, which is why a 2009 Pew Research Center survey showed 70 percent of scientists support it.

But scientific consensus, invoked like clockwork whenever lefty activists and their journalist friends talk about global warming, is mysteriously irrelevant when they’re discussing nuclear power or genetically enhanced crops. In 2005, the International Council for Science — a coalition of 140 scientific organizations — reviewed more than 50 studies and declared flatly: “Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat.”

There are a few million dead Third World kids who wish that somebody had listened.

Mark Lynas made similar points at the Oxford Farmers Conference about which I posted here.

. . . This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realise at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it. . . .

These movements which are anti-science and  anti-business purport to be pro-environment but they use green causes for red political means.

Because emotion usually trumps facts they have been very successful but the sensible, science-based actions of the Filipino government give cause for hope that the tide is turning.


Nature before health

March 22, 2013

Welsh farmers are struggling against the spread of bovine TB but aren’t permitted to cull badgers which spread the disease:

Bovine TB is “out of control” in Wales and cattle measures alone won’t halt the upward spiral of disease prevalence, deputy president of NFU Cymru Stephen James has warned.

Figures released by DEFRA yesterday revealed the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales, because of the disease, has risen by 15% to 9,307 animals in the last year.

NFU Cymru said this is despite farmers adhering to “draconian” measures such as annual testing and pre-movement testing across the whole of Wales, which impacts heavily on every businesses decision they make.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call those measures draconian. Herds in some areas here are subject to annual testing and pre-movement testing to prevent the spread of the disease in high risk areas.

However, these measures won’t stop infection from wild animals.

Mr James said the figures “hammer home” the fact cattle measures alone were ineffective in stopping the disease.

He added: “These figures show a policy that fails to adequately tackle and remove the disease from the wildlife population will never get on top and ultimately eradicate this disease from our countryside; instead the disease continues to escalate.

“This has to act as a wake-up call to the Welsh government and highlights the urgency to implement a science led policy of badger control in endemic areas of the country, rather than the Welsh government’s vaccination policy based on conjecture.”

We can be thankful that wild species which carry TB here, such as possums, stoats and ferrets, are introduced and we’re encouraged to cull them.

 


Happy or not

March 22, 2013

“Did knowing Wednesday was the United Nation’s first International Day of Happiness work for you?” he asked.

“I didn’t know. But call me contrary if you will,  I was in retrospect, and am now, all the happier for my ignorance,” she said.


March 22 in history

March 22, 2013

238 Gordian I and his son Gordian II were proclaimed Roman emperors.

1599 Anthony van Dyck, Flemish painter, was born (d. 1641).

1621  The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony signed a peace treaty with Massasoit of the Wampanoags.

1622 Jamestown massacre: Algonquian Indians killed 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a third of the colony’s population.

1630  Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables.

1638 Anne Hutchinson was expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent.

1765  British parliament passed the Stamp Act, which introduced a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies.

1784 The Emerald Buddha was moved to its current place in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand.

1809 Charles XIII succeeded Gustav IV Adolf to the Swedish throne.

1818 John Ainsworth Horrocks, English-born explorer of South Australia, was born  (d. 1846).

1829 The three protecting powers (Britain, France and Russia) established the borders of Greece.

1849 The Austrians defeated the Piedmontese at the Battle of Novara.

1871 William Woods Holden became the first governor of a U.S. state to be removed from office by impeachment.

1873 A law was approved by the Spanish National Assembly in Puerto Rico to abolish slavery.

1887 Chico Marx, American comedian and actor, was born (d. 1961).

1894 The first playoff game for the Stanley Cup started.

1895 First display (a private screening) of motion pictures by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

1906 First Anglo-French rugby union match at Parc des Princes in Paris

1908 Louis L’Amour, American author, was born  (d. 1988).

1910 Nicholas Monsarrat, British novelist, was born (d. 1979).

1916 The last Emperor of China, Yuan Shikai, abdicated the throne and the Republic of China was restored.

1923 Marcel Marceau,  French Mime, was born  (d. 2007).

1930 Stephen Sondheim, American composer and lyricist, was born.

1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law a bill legalizing the sale of beer and wine.

1936 Roger Whittaker, British singer, was born.

1939  Germany took Memel from Lithuania.

1941 Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam began to generate electricity.

1942 Britain’s Royal Navy confronted Italy’s Regia Marina in the Second Battle of Sirte.

1942 Keith Relf, English musician (The Yardbirds), was born (d. 1976).

1943 The entire population of Khatyn in Belarus was burnt alive by German occupation forces.

1945 The Arab League was founded when a charter was adopted in Cairo.

1948 Andrew Lloyd Webber, English composer, was born.

1954 The London bullion market reopened.

1955 Valdis Zatlers, 7th President of Latvia, was born.

1960  Arthur Leonard Schawlow & Charles Hard Townes received the first patent for a laser.

1978 Karl Wallenda of the The Flying Wallendas died after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

1982 NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia, was launched on its third mission, STS-3.

1993 The Intel Corporation ships the first Pentium chips (80586), featuring a 60 MHz clock speed, 100+ MIPS, and a 64 bit data path.

1994 Anna Paquin won an Oscar for her part in The Piano. Director Jane Campion won the award for best screen play.

Kiwis win Oscars for 'The piano'

1995 Cosmonaut Valeriy Polyakov returned after setting a record for 438 days in space.

1997 Tara Lipinski, age 14 years and 10 months, became the youngest champion of the women’s world figure skating competition.

1997 – The Comet Hale-Bopp had its closest approach to earth.

2004 Ahmed Yassin, co-founder and leader of the Palestinian Sunni Islamist group Hamas, two bodyguards, and nine civilian bystanders were killed in the Gaza Strip when hit by Israeli Air Force AH-64 Apache fired Hellfire missiles.

2006 ETA, armed Basque separatist group, declared permanent ceasefire.

2006 – BC Ferries’ M/V Queen of the North ran aground on Gil Island British Columbia and sinks; 101 on board, 2 presumed deaths.

2006 – Three Christian Peacemaker Teams Hostages were freed by British forces in Baghdad after 118 days captivity and the death of their colleague, American Tom Fox.

2009 Mount Redoubt, a volcano in Alaska began erupting after a prolonged period of unrest.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


%d bloggers like this: