Hazel the chimp, in Austria, saved from vivisection and placed in a now bankrupt Zoo, is looking to be adopted by a “legal guardian” and achieve some of the basic rights as humans*. Part of the argument for is based on the science of DNA. Chimps have a 96% similarity in DNA to humans. Here again you have to be careful as statistical medicine rears it’s ugly head. Perspective, in this case, is needed.

Human beings are also 64% related, in their DNA, to bananas. Do we give them 64% of our human rights? We are 94% related to rats and Donald Trump, except that the rats (who are .0001% closer in relation to us than Trump) have far better hair. Do we save them from vivisection?

When considering rights, like the right to not be vivisected in a lab somewhere, I am all for saving chimps and rats but not, as it happens, Donald Trump. We also have to consider that no-one on earth besides Trump himself would be likely to back him for having human rights so I guess that does ease any complications.

When campaigning for human, animal or, indeed, fruit and vegetable rights we need to consider the animal and plant kingdom, too, and how it operates. We, no matter what we think, are no better than other animals except for a creativity born of necessity to what has to be the crappiest predator on the planet (when unarmed). Cows do not think twice when munching away on grass and Tigers don’t think twice when ripping a human head from a human body and later munching on it’s small intestines.

What is my point? I wish I knew. I am off to eat a banana, masturbate in front of a monkey and vivisect Donald Trump. Serves them all right.

midnightjester
*- BBCWorld, 2007/03/28

Save the Humans!!!

March 26, 2007

Maybe 0.5% of humans give a crap about endangered Bengal Tigers. Perhaps a few more know what a greenhouse gas is. Maybe, at a push, 2% of humans on the planet know about global warming and care. The fact is that in the large scale of things all of this doesn’t matter. The idea of “Save the Planet” is patently ridiculous. None of this is causing the actual planet irreparable harm.

It’s screwing it up for the average mammal, though. Including you. The earth does not need dolphins, polar bears, Bengal Tigers, gorillas or, indeed, humans. Extinctions on a massive scale are perfectly normal in our little backyard here on “the unfashionable outer spiral arm” of the Milky Way.

“Save the Planet” is meaningless. It makes you want to take the placard from the average dumbass protester and beat them repeatedly over the head with it. Sometimes violence is the answer, ask a Bengal Tiger.

Whether the planet gets hit with meteor strikes, nuclear war, global warming, industrial toxicity or famine the next time Oprah Winfrey is on an eating spree- so what? The planet doesn’t care and if it, or she, wipes out 99.99% of all species the planet will just have another equivalent of the Cambrian explosion with a whole lot of new, interesting species that can find another way entirely to fuck up their environment and become extinct.

So I am sick of idiot, goober do-gooders going on about the environment. They miss the point. I too, this human being, want dolphins, Bengal Tigers, polar bears and gorillas to survive. For me. For my friends. For the children I am still trying to avoid having. For the grand-children they might be able to avoid having if I am unsuccessful. And so-on.

We want to save the cuddly animals and the beautiful animals because we find them inspiring, because we find them endearing. They reflect us and what we used to be. They are fascinating to watch on a wildlife show- although are much more dull at a game reserve where someone has not cut down 9,284 minutes of footage to 30seconds of action narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

We want to save them for us. And we know the beautiful and cuddly animals cannot survive in an ecosystem without the slimy, gross or downright creepy creatures so, what the hell, we don’t mind them living too. Except for Republicans, we are starting to think America and, indeed, the world would be better off without them.

This is, in fact, a “Save the Humans” message. We are the ones that need the rainforests, the clean rivers, beautiful Bengal Tigers, elegant Kingfisher, domestic cats, majestic whales and, at a push, lawyers (hi, sis) and politicians to survive. Even the slimiest of creatures has a purpose in this world and in our ecosystem and we have to allow them to survive for our sake.

This is midnightjester saying: “Save the Humans!”

Ideal Woman

March 21, 2007

I saw this and I have never seen an image that better evokes the spirit of the ideal woman to me…

 

00_theidealwoman.jpg

I don’t know who the photographer is, if anyone knows please pass along the information so I can link to his/her site.

Tipping Point

March 21, 2007

All despotic regimes face The Tipping Point. I am watching Zimbabwe closely. The Tipping Point is a simple concept. When enough of the population decide that their chances of survival are better by ousting the government regardless of the potential violence the Tipping Point has been reached.

The Tipping Point was a concept well understood by Saddam Hussein who, whilst he imprisoned and tortured political opponents, allowed normal life of those who would not oppose him to continue relatively unbothered. He made sure enough people still had enough to lose which is how he survived.

Each piece of violence, each day you cannot feed yourself and your family, each day you are scared of what the police and army might do to you and the people you love you get closer to The Tipping Point.

Zimbabwe appears within 6 months of The Tipping Point. If they reach it civil war is a serious possibility. The only hope will be if the police and army have, too, had enough and stand back and allow it to happen.

Let’s hope.

Relationships

March 16, 2007

I was writing another piece on relationships and insecurity and then saw a cartoon on XKCD.com which summed it up part of it just perfectly. We spend far too much time contemplating the future, rejection and what is acceptable and getting in our own way.

wp-kite.jpg

Terrorist cells want to blow up everything these days with no regard for human life. Not yours and not mine. The terrorist cells I am mentioning specifically in this piece had attempted and been thwarted once before, four weeks ago, without the authorities at large being aware of the attempt.

It had been mistaken for a bout of severe food poisoning which was tempered using 20 or so asprin and caused no permanent damage. On March 9th, however, another attack was launched and was very nearly successful. The authorities, though, were quick to act. Informing command after realising the danger a fast ride to the hospital prevented the terrorist cells from being successful in their attempt at a damaging explosion.

A timely surgical strike on the location removed not only the offending terror cells but the organ as well and saved the day. The appendix to this exploding story of an event that failed to burst onto the scene involved much in the way of happy drugs, a celebratory mood and a quick recovery.

midnightjester

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BAD MEDICINE

The biggest reason that statistical medicine in general and AIDS specifically really steams my boat is the situation in Africa. In Africa today if you die of an AIDS-related illness you are classified as an AIDS death whether you have been diagnosed with HIV or not. Really. Even in South Africa with a first world infrastructure this is true.

The reason is not insidious. It is just too costly to test a person who is already dead of, say, pneumonia for HIV so it is just classified as an AIDS death. Statistics from AIDS related deaths are then extrapolated to provide assumed HIV infection rates amongst the rest of the population. That’s why the statistics are so high in Africa (and we use a different, less reliable test more likely to show false positives- because it’s cheaper).

There are no reliable statistics that show the death rate as a percentage of population in Africa has increased from disease in the last 20 years. The reason is simple: there are no reliable long-term statistics in Africa. Period. Again the closest you get is South Africa post 1994 when we got our first properly democratic government (hopefully the USA and China will follow our example soon). Even then statistics are not close to properly reliable until, perhaps, 2000 onward.

The biggest killers in South Africa are still Cancer and Heart Disease. The same as the rest of the world. I do advocate the promotion of condoms, especially in those who get lucky a lot, to prevent the spread of diseases but AIDS drugs are expensive on a continent that has much larger problems.

People in Africa need houses. People in Africa are starving. People in Africa are being massacred by brutal regimes. Yet there is no profit in attending to these needs so they do not get addressed. Do you provide medicine to one person with HIV or feed 20? Do you try and save one person from AIDS or do you save 10 children from being turned into killers?

The money put into AIDS goes straight back to the USA and Europe via pharmaceutical companies. Money put into housing, food aid, debt relief, or encouraging democracy and education does not. It only benefits that country.

For anyone out there who thinks Africa creates it’s own problems I have for you this to say. Countries with no mineral wealth in Africa, almost always, are peaceful. If you have nothing the developed and developing world wants you end up in a war only when armies are ousted from one of the countries that do and are looking for more soldiers.

The son of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, pled guilty recently to a charge of trying to overthrow an African government (Ivory Coast I think) to try and get that country’s mineral rights. He was caught trying to flee South Africa after it all went wrong.

I kid you not at all.

I have been meaning to write a piece on statistical medicine for a while now. Since I just got a comment on my post “Should we all be worried by the HIV-AIDS hypothesis?” and also since much of the marketing and, more disturbingly, research into AIDS is done via statistical medicine I thought now might be the time.

I have spilt this into two parts the first is not my writing but two other texts I copied for my own interest some time ago and do not know exactly who to attribute them to.

One is a real medical study showing that “Leos” are 15% more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding and “Sagittarians” are 38% more likely than others to land up there because of a broken arm. The second is a flippant piece about the dangers of bread. It is thought-provoking nonetheless.

WHY STATISTICAL MEDICINE IS DANGEROUS, TEXT1 (comedy):

!!! BREAD IS DANGEROUS !!!

Research on bread indicates that:

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
5. Bread is made from a substance called “dough.” It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis.
7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
8. Bread is often a “gateway” food item, leading the user to “harder” items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, it has been proposed that the following bread restrictions be made:

1. No sale of bread to minors.
2. A nationwide “Just Say No To Toast” campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colours (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
5. The establishment of “Bread-free” zones around schools.

WHY STATISTICAL MEDICINE IS DANGEROUS, TEXT2 (actual study):

PEOPLE born under the astrological sign of Leo are 15% more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding than those born under the other 11 signs. Sagittarians are 38% more likely than others to land up there because of a broken arm. Those are the conclusions that many medical researchers would be forced to make from a set of data presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Peter Austin of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. At least, they would be forced to draw them if they applied the lax statistical methods of their own work to the records of hospital admissions in Ontario, Canada, used by Dr Austin.

Dr Austin, of course, does not draw those conclusions. His point was to shock medical researchers into using better statistics, because the ones they routinely employ today run the risk of identifying relationships when, in fact, there are none. He also wanted to explain why so many health claims that look important when they are first made are not substantiated in later studies.

The confusion arises because each result is tested separately to see how likely, in statistical terms, it was to have happened by chance. If that likelihood is below a certain threshold, typically 5%, then the convention is that an effect is “real”. And that is fine if only one hypothesis is being tested. But if, say, 20 are being tested at the same time, then on average one of them will be accepted as provisionally true, even though it is not.

In his own study, Dr Austin tested 24 hypotheses, two for each astrological sign. He was looking for instances in which a certain sign “caused” an increased risk of a particular ailment. The hypotheses about Leos’ intestines and Sagittarians’ arms were less than 5% likely to have come about by chance, satisfying the usual standards of proof of a relationship. However, when he modified his statistical methods to take into account the fact that he was testing 24 hypotheses, not one, the boundary of significance dropped dramatically. At that point, none of the astrological associations remained.

Unfortunately, many researchers looking for risk factors for diseases are not aware that they need to modify their statistics when they test multiple hypotheses. The consequence of that mistake, as John Ioannidis of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine, in Greece, explained to the meeting, is that a lot of observational health studies—those that go trawling through databases, rather than relying on controlled experiments—cannot be reproduced by other researchers. Previous work by Dr Ioannidis, on six highly cited observational studies, showed that conclusions from five of them were later refuted. In the new work he presented to the meeting, he looked systematically at the causes of bias in such research and confirmed that the results of observational studies are likely to be completely correct only 20% of the time. If such a study tests many hypotheses, the likelihood its conclusions are correct may drop as low as one in 1,000—and studies that appear to find larger effects are likely, in fact, simply to have more bias.

So, the next time a newspaper headline declares that something is bad for you, read the small print. If the scientists used the wrong statistical method, you may do just as well believing your horoscope.

Part two to follow…

Since I read revelations for research into my last piece I thought I would do an abridged version for people who don’t have time to read the whole thing. Like the “study helpers” students use in College and University.

Here you go: Revelations (abridged)

There is God, the Good Guy and The Beast, the Bad Guy.

The Good Guy has a book called “the book of life.” It is sort of like the membership list on an exclusive country club.

Sometimes God is a sheep. It isn’t explained but it’s probably ineffable.

God (the Good Guy) tells everyone he’s going to kill them.

The Beast (bad Guy) stands next to all the armies of man to help defend them.

God (the Good Guy) kills absolutely everyone including The Beast (the Bad Guy).

People on the membership list get into the Country Club (called Heaven). No dogs allowed*.

People in the Country Club have a very good time as long as it’s PG rated.

PS: If you fuck with the text of Revelations you are in deep shit.

*- 22:15 Outside are the dogs

Who needs structured entertainment when you have the Vatican? I have been off the case of these lunatics for a few months now since making fun of them is just so easy. But I think this deserves a mention.

This is the Lentern speaker, chosen personally by the Nazi Pope, that, according to The Times “has in the past given a clue to Vatican policy.” Not that we needed the appointment of a 78yr old conservative loony to Lentern speaker after they chose a Nazi over a black man as the new Pope.

He tells us a few things about the Anti-Christ the average thinker without a hotline to Jesus might not have guessed off the cuff. Firstly, it turns out that he will be a pacifist. Yes, you heard it here first. Might is Right and the devil, rather than taking the hindmost (which I never understood), is a pacifist.

“An arch-conservative cardinal chosen by the Pope to deliver this year’s Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy has caused consternation by giving warning of an Antichrist who is “a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.”- Times, UK

Popping over to the Bible’s revelations, as I do on a Sunday afternoon, I get a slightly different picture. After you get past the bit in the beginning that seems a little overly-concerned with house-hold furniture(ref#1) and some mention of keys which leads me to visions of a drunken night on the town and a wife keen on IKEA you come across a bit that seems to indicate pacifism is not high on The Beast’s agenda:

“17:11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction.
19:19 I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse, and against his army.”

Ignoring the obvious mathematical issues in 17:11 our biblical buddy suffered from the sentence does seem to indicate some sort of violence on behalf of The Beast at 19:19 rather backs that up. Perhaps someone might have mentioned this to Cardinal Giacomo Biffi aka “Biffi the Pacifist Slayer.”

Beelzebub’s buddy on planet earth, his right hand man will also be an ecologist from the tips of his horns to the cloves on his little hoofy-woofies. So it’s time to start sinking those Greenpeace ships now. It’s probably a good bet that the whales, those evil mammals that Greenpeace are so keen on, are in on this too so best we give the Japanese Sushi swallowers those killing rights back as well.

Finally the Devil’s formal representative in his Earth Consulate will be and ecumenist. An ecumenist is someone who tries to find common ground between people so they can get along and join together in peace.

The guy he was quoting, the bloke of whom which he was a fan, the bloke backing him up as it were, was a bloke called Solovyov. Solovyov believed that his mission in life was to move people toward reconciliation or absolute unity or “sobornost”. Sobornost is a Russian word for co-operation between multiple forces. It is frequently translated as “togetherness” or “integrality”. Ecumenity, if you will. We think Biffi wasn’t paying attention in Sunday School.

So, Biffi the Pacifist Slayer is yet another loon in a long line of loons inhabiting the Vatican. It is beyond me to find this anything beyond amusing any more. These are some of the most entertaining people on the planet, haemorrhaging disciples throughout the civilised world like a victim in a Wes Craven movie.

What I really want is a reality show set in The Vatican. Now there’s a show with dollar signs written all over it. I would watch it. Religiously.

jester

ref#1
Revelations 1:12 I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. Having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.
Revelations 1:20 the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands

Sources
http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=23229
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1459003.ece
http://trulyequal.com/2007/03/02/the-antichrist-will-be-a-liberal/
http://www.awitness.org/biblehtm/re/re1.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Solovyov_%28philosopher%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobornost