Category Archives: World events

My argument against guns

Imagine the person of average intelligence – completely average in everything actually, average morals, average income, average relationship, average use of alcohol and other substances.

Then realise that because that is a true average, that logically 50% of the world are less intelligent, less moral, more desperate for money, in worse relationships, drink more alcohol, and take more drugs than the average person.

Then notice that it is unlikely that any one person is actually better than average in every one  of these areas, and they almost certainly won’t be better than average in all of these areas for their whole life.

Testing for suitability to own a gun will never take into account all of these factors, which are recognised to be associated with irrational or anti-social behaviour (even temporarily). Gun ownership increases the chance of suicide and death by shooting for the people around the person – given the list of risk factors, this shouldn’t be surprising. What is surprising is that many still believe that these things won’t ever happen to them.

Pizza is officially a vegetable

Or so the American Congress thinks.

In the first review of school lunches in 15 years, Congress has backed down from insisting that a pizza needs to have half a cup of tomato paste to be called a vegetable (compared to the current two tablespoons):

Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute, said the proposed rules simply did not make sense, especially when it came to pizza.

The industry backs the current rules which say that about a quarter-cup of tomato paste on a slice of pizza can count as a vegetable serving. The Agriculture Department proposal would have required that schools serve more tomato paste per piece of pizza to get a vegetable credit, an idea the industry thought would make pizza unappetizing.

Apparently adding more tomato to a pizza would make it less tasty, and if an impartial judge like the American Frozen Food Institute believes this then who are we to argue?

“It would basically be swimming in tomato sauce,” said Corey Henry, vice president of communications at the American Frozen Food Institute. “No school kid in his right mind would want to eat that.”


We’ll ignore for a second that tomatoes are actually fruit, and that the tomato paste on pizzas has a massive amount of added sugar in it (around one and a half teaspoons of sugar for a pizza’s quarter cup of paste), and just look at the simple truth here: pizza is not a vegetable. It is dough, a thin spread of something vaguely derived from tomatoes, with melted high-fat solidified dairy produce on top. I love pizza, I really do, but I’ve got no illusions about them.

Calling pizza a suitable source of vegetables for growing children is not only a lie, it is harmful to their health, their future wellbeing and relationship with food, and evidence of corruption by politicians bowing to industrial pressures. That’s just one small choice that we know about. At what point is good sense going to kick in and fix this, how long will it take?

AIDS cured in an exceptional case

In the world of strange up-sides, a leukaemia patient has been cured of AIDS. The treatment for the leukaemia patient had undergone radiotherapy, killing a lot of the cells that HIV attacks, and he was given a stem cell transplant from a donor with a genetic mutation that prevented new versions of those attackable cells from regrowing – instead, new healthy cells with the mutation were formed.

There were many complications with the treatment; the consequences of radiotherapy are not trivial, but he is recovering slowly from those with good support and it is likely he will return to a relatively normal life.

This is not the cure for everyone, but it is a major step – curing one person shows that it can be done.

Sometimes you’ve just got to follow your heart

Vancouver has had a riot in the wake of some sporty people doing something better than some other sporty people. In the midst of all of this chaos, some people managed to have a very special moment.

This is either one of the most specific fetishes I’ve seen, or perhaps the most memorable kiss those two people will have in their entire lives. I’m not sure if it can quite be classified as ‘romantic’ but it’s definitely got style (and it’s a superb photo too).

No Rapture yet…

It was predicted that today would be the day that the Rapture occurred. This came from an American preacher from named Harold Camping. He’s a chap who claims to follow the Bible very closely, suggesting that it consistently and explicitly supports his views on things such as liberalism, homosexuality, etc.

For a person who has studied the Bible so closely, you think he might have read the Gospel of Mark. In chapter 13, verse 5, Jesus starts talking:

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.

In verse 31 to 34 Jesus says:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

So, Harold Camping thought that he could name the day of Rapture when Jesus himself explicitly said he didn’t know it and that certainly no man could. Whether or not you believe in the Bible, this is clearly a case of a person using only the parts of his holy book that agree with his views.

This Rapture fuss has brought him a lot of attention and likely made him a lot of money, but it is also clear evidence that he has ignored the teachings of his own spiritual leader. If he, and others, were content to accept this blatant falsehood as being the truth, it is sad to think of the chances of more controversial subjects being resolved in our lifetimes.

Obama’s inauguration in very high detail

Let’s play spot-the-FBI-sniper-squad!

President Obama’s inauguration in enormously high detail

This looks like it uses the same technology as Google Maps, except with a photo instead of a map. Pretty cool. You can use the on-screen controls to zoom or the mouse-wheel.

Personally, I think one of the dark shapes on the White House pillars is a sniper cover. Oh, and check out the journalist’s seating – I think about 1 in 40 faces isn’t caucasian. President Obama being elected is a huge step, but we should never forget that there’s still a long way to go before all skin colours are represented proportionally across all areas of society.

Photos of President Obama’s inauguration

President Obama’s term in office will doubtless be difficult. The world is in a bad state in many ways, but there seems to be a near unanimous sense of hope that he might make better choices than lesser leaders. Skin colour shouldn’t be an issue, but it still is, and it makes me proud to live in the times when the first black president was elected.

There are some excellent photos of the inauguration of President Barack Obama here.

That last photo though… A folder left by president number 43 for president number 44… Just how much would you love to know what’s in there?

Has the LHC destroyed the world yet?

In case you’ve blanked news out for the day, the Large Hadron Collider, the LHC, was turned on today. It’s taken 30 years and some silly number of billions of pounds to make a really big ring so boffins can make streams of protons hit each other at light speed then see what happens. I did write in with a suggestion that they shine two torches at each other, but they never wrote back. I would even have supplied the batteries.

Anyway, apparently the amount of energy used is likely to create a Higgs Boson particle, which somehow gives all other particles mass (although exactly how or why I really don’t know). Then again, it might not. What this boils down to is that a load of guys underground in Europe are going to perhaps make a very small black hole. They insist that this is completely safe, which it probably is, but that doesn’t stop everyone else wondering if they are about to destroy the world, which brings me to the point of this..

In case you need to check if the LHC has destroyed the world, there is now a convenient website that is monitoring the situation and allows you to check:

It’s a good joke, but the real comedy will escape 99.9% of viewers. Check out the source code for the page:

[script type="text/javascript"]
if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) {
} else {

[script type="text/javascript"]
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." :
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost +
"' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));

Comedy gold for web techy people.

[I removed the email address from the code to try and prevent him getting spammed by bots that may scan this page, but it’s there in the page’s code if you want to find it yourself.]

Freedom of speech

There’s a great article in the New York Times today about the difference between US and other nations in respect to the laws on freedom of speech. (You might have to log in to read it, but it’s free and quick to do.) In particular I liked the quote from Jeremy Waldron, who is rather interestingly described as a ‘legal philosopher’:

It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.

Many people argue that any infringement on freedom of speech is, by its nature, wrong, but I strongly believe that the leaders of a society have the duty to ensure that an ‘atmosphere of mutual respect’ is maintained and defended.

Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer, defends the American system (where you are allowed to be as offensive and lie as much as you want) by evoking the old chestnut of Hitler:

The world didn’t suffer because too many people read Mein Kampf.Sending Hitler on a speaking tour of the United States would have been quite a good idea.

Given that there was some support for the doctrines of Hitler around the world, I think the idea of giving him the opportunity to gain a greater following in the US could have been a very bad idea indeed… Which just goes to show once again that lawyers don’t always think through what they’re saying, and that hyperbole can land you in a lot of trouble.

Back in 1919, Justice Holmes adjudicated on a case that set much of modern law’s attitude towards freedom of speech, and hate speech in particular:

The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.

… Which is cobblers. That’s like saying that watching adverts allows you to make an informed decision about which products you need to buy. There are always people who will be swayed, or who will find encouragement for existing predjudices, by the dissemination of decietful or biased material. Even a racist can sound charming if they want to: learning to be persuasive is easy, and there are always people who are happy to follow anyone who sounds like they know where they are going, which is why I think that the UK’s and other countries legal approaches to hate speech are an improvement on the US system (albeit sometimes with flaws, but they are a step up).

“In the Second Coming, Jesus will have dreadlocks and a nose ring”

Since there’s been a lot of coverage of very fanatical Muslims in the press recently, I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of balance by highlighting a completely insane Christian’s rant from 1993.

My favourite bit has got to be near the bottom, where we are told about “Pastor” Alamo’s booklet entitled ‘Messiah’, which apparently informs us of the 333 prophecies of Messiah in the Old Testament, and give the superb example of #219: “In the Second Coming, Jesus will have dreadlocks and a nose ring.”

You’ve got to giggle a bit at where, mid-rant about something else, he mentions tax evasion with the rapid follow-up “which I am not guilty of.” He was prosecuted for tax evasion the year after writing this article and spent six years in jail.

Truly, the idea that this man is still preaching hateful messages (and has access to guns) and is happily tolerated by legislators is very scary indeed. I’m not anti-Christian, I’m anti-‘complete nutters who will use anything to justify their own screwed up view of the world’. Really, this kind of person terrifies me.

But still, dreadlocks and a nose ring? That’s a funky Jesus, and he’s a-coming to judge us all (apparently).

Save Camden Market!

For those of you who’ve known London for a while, you may have noticed a creeping trend: Carnaby Street has turned into a souvenir parade, Kensington Market vanished (the new version in the new location just isn’t the same), and now Camden Market – arguably the last large bastion of the alternative-and-independent world that is left in London – is faced with imminent closure to be turned into another shopping mall.

Sign up to the UK government’s petition and maybe we might make a difference (it’s worth a try):

What have we got to lose? Camden. What would we gain? Nothing. Sign the petition and try and keep some character in our city!

God wants you to own guns.

He does. It says so on an odd Christian answer to Wikipedia:

Gun control refers to all laws enacted at the federal, state, and local level with the intent of placing restrictions on the right of individual private citizens to keep and bear firearms. This right is a natural right which we are endowed by our Creator with.

I wanted to link to this for two reasons. Firstly there is the absolute absurdity of the claim that God gave man the right to carry guns, which I find so dumbfoundingly bizarre that I’m not sure I can fully comprehend it. The second reason is just to share that abysmal example of sentence structure. Yes, that’s English geekery at its finest, but look at how awful it is! That second bit should read ‘This is a natural right with which we are endowed by our Creator’. If God gave us the gift of communication (which I think is a far safer claim than the right to carry guns) then that writer is going to hell… Well, that might be a bit harsh. Maybe they’ll stub toe in heaven every second Tuesday, or something like that.

Check it out for yourself here.

If you feel like getting up a good head of rage, then flick through random pages. I’ve noticed an average of 1:1 reasonable information to bigotry. See what you think!