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June, 2008:

Richard Feynman on social science

Unlike Jimmy Carter, Yasser Arafat and Al Gore some people have deserved their Nobel Prizes. Feynman won his for probing the mysteries of relativistic quantum electrodynamics. He’s one of my absolute heroes. He was (deep breath) a physicist, artist, raconteur, safe-cracker, decipherer of Mayan hieroglyphs, dancer, lover, enfant terrible of the Manhattan project, visionary of nano-tech, explainer of superfluidity, a brilliant teacher and one of the brightest stars of the C20th. He was a genius and this is what he has to say on the social sciences…

Circling the drain

According to a Buckingham University report 1/4 of UK secondary (11-16/18) schools don’t have a single physics teacher. In inner London it’s half.

It makes me want to teach a lesson on ballistics using a large catapult and Ed Balls, the People’s Commissar for “Children, Families and Schools”.

The research also shows that physics teachers are more likely to be concentrated in particular types of school, such as those which are high-performing, grammar, all-girl and faith schools.

Well I’m shocked. Shocked I tell ya! That rare and skilled graduates are choosing to teach in a place where they can wear a suit not made of kevlar and where kids actually want to learn. I have taught adults who didn’t want to learn and it’s like pushing a lake up a mountain with a broom. It continues with another truly counter-intuitive conclusion.

The report’s authors argue that physics has been pushed into decline by a drive for general science courses. They call for the subject to be supported in a way that protects its separate identity.

“One admissions tutor said ‘until recently we have barely admitted that physics existed as a school subject – physics, chemistry and biology have not been allowed to be mentioned in official documentation’,” says the report.

Well, they introduced GCSE Combined Science when I was still in my teens and I thought then it was a terrible move. I, fortunately, just avoided it. Combined Science or General Science is bullshit. Would you replace French, German and Spanish with a course in Combined Languages? No, because you’d look a right tit saying, “Garcon! zwei bierre, por favor!” I have seen recent GCSE “Science” papers and sometimes I can’t understand the questions because they’re not actually science.

This is part of the problem with recruiting and retaining (every year we lose 26% more than we gain) physics teachers. They want to teach physics. They want to challenge talented kids with difficult work and help the rest gain some sort of an understanding of the world around them but it’s not just about the physics for the sake of it. I was going to enumerate the jobs a grasp of physics is useful for but frankly neither me no you, dear reader, have the time for it. Lads I knew at school who left at sixteen and got apprenticeships (yeah, I know, but you still could in the early ’90s) needed physics. It’s not an elitist thing it’s everything. Without physics there is no engineering, chemistry is alchemy, biology is bug-collecting, healthcare is back to barber-surgeons and leeches, astronomy is astrology and we’re basically back to the fucking cave.

Of course it’s a vicious circle. The more we dumb-down the sciences the more we put bright kids off studying them further. We produce fewer science graduates and it goes round and round, circling the drain of our oblivion as a scientific, technical culture which is no longer afraid of the bogeymen lurking in the dark because we have electricity. I have little doubt that the government (any government – this isn’t just a Labour thing) will announce an initiative to make science teaching even more “relevant” and “issue-based” or some such baloney. As though the systematic study of spacetime, matter, motion and energy isn’t in itself “relevant”. It just goes to show how thoroughly disconnected from science (or reality) the political “elite” are.

OK, if any of them are avid readers of the Kitty Counter and me then this is what they must do. Don’t make science (and maths) more “relevant”. The whole idea of creating a curriculum in which all the kids, all of the time like all the subjects is demented and utterly arse over tit. You can (but won’t) make physics more popular by ramping it up intellectually. Physics is an adrenaline rush when you “get” something or calculate something for yourself… It is the key to the universe. It’s super-cool and that’s because of it’s difficulty and abstraction and it’s differentness. It’s a skill. It’s just like learning a language. It’s just really cool to write all those Greek letters and weird symbols and actually know what’s going on. It is truly empowering and what does the average teenager want more than to have a feeling of power and control? That’s why I went into physics. I saw those baffling squiggles and I just thought, “I wanna do that! I wanna speak that language! I wanna play piccolo in Josiah Willard Gibbs’ Grand Cannonical Ensemble.” It is grappling with the alien and when you slam it you get a feeling like no other. It’s obviously not everyone’s bowl of chowder but so what? We also need marketing executives, hairdressers and telephone sanitizers.

Languages are also on the slide. Quelle surprise! We have a rigorously fucked-up edumacational system. It is small wonder that anything deemed “difficult” or “elitist” is on the way to Hackney to bet on the greyhounds. I might be tempted, if I was wearing my aluminium fedora, to suggest that this is a deliberate attempt to disempower the citizenry by keeping them from funny foreigners and dangerous ideas and any kind of intellectual empowerment. But I won’t. I think they are too thick to think of that.

Our scientific culture is precious and fragile. It may just be a brief, bright period in human history (like the Ionian Awakening) before we descend into barbarism again. It is not something we can afford to treat in the cavalier fashion we are doing because our civilization is not guaranteed. It is something which must eternally be fought for. Science is our only light in the darkness against loonies, troofers, Islamists, intelligent designers, Greens, whack-jobs, Marxists, Gudjieff and generalised New Age quackery. The importance of science education is that simple and it is that vital.

I have beaten this drum here before but I make no apology for that because without science and an at least moderately scientifically literate general population we are fucked. Make no mistake. We are only a couple of generations away from returning to a world haunted by angels and demons.

And that means my plans for a holiday home on Titan will be truly fucked.

Mental Image of the Day

Apparently the Billster has told O’Barmy that if he wants his support then he can “kiss his ass”. I think I’ll skip lunch today.

Apparently one Dem had this to say about Bill:

You can’t talk like that about Obama – he’s the nominee of your party, not some house boy you can order around.

- My emphasis
They just can’t raise themselves above the racial slur can they? The fact that Bill is pissed because his missus didn’t get the nod is beside the point. The real issue is that Obama is black. The fact that he had a Kenyan dad (who surely had no connection with Southern Slavery) and was born like 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation is beyond them. It’s all to do with race. Just as it was all to do with gender in the case of Hillary.

Truly abysmal. Can’t they, just for once, just for a little bit, drag themselves out of the cess-pool for long enough to have an informed debate about who would make the best Commander in Chief or who would best protect the Constitution. Ah, that’s a pipe-dream and to believe it might actually happen is true Audacity of Hope.

First they came for the birthday parties…

Scandanavians used to be Vikings. They used to row longships and eat raw cod and hit people with axes. They used to wench* and trade and quaff (like drinking, only you spill more) and fight and rape and pillage**. They used to have names like Ragner Hairy Britches*** and they were, in short, hard bastards who knew the world was a tough place. They used to believe in Valhalla: a perpetual barney, piss-up and hog-roast (sounds like Stockport on a Saturday night to me). Now they believe in…

this. I am almost lost for words. Oh, just fuck me backwards with a set of North Korean crimping tongs already. Just read the whole thing. It’s beyond fisking, parody or rational belief.

The Swedes would appear to have a People’s Commissar for Children’s Birthday Parties. What sort of adults will such children become? What about the highs and lows of dating? Are they gonna now ensure equal-rights for the obnoxious and ugly for that too? Or jobs. Thick, lazy, we don’t discriminate!

It’s my birthday in September and you’re all invited. Which reminds me. I must invite Robert Mugabe. It would be unfair otherwise…

“It is their duty to reject any forms of insulting behaviour. To eliminate individual children from parties is not acceptable.”

This, of course, is where Sweden is headed. An Equality of Shite and an Empire of Dirt.

*And their shieldmaiden’s were a bit feisty too…

**Not that I’m condoning it or anything… But it must’ve been fun. “Sven, there’s this bunch of… “monks” I think they call themselves over on Lindisfarne and they’ve got a shed-load of gold and that and get this… They believe in this fella who got nailed to something or such… so they don’t fight at all”. “Riiight! Olaf, you get the lads round and we”l get goin’ after I’ve finished this horn… No! Brunhilde, I’ll see you by Midsummer Eve because right now I’ve got a pillage-on”.

***Who came to an unbelievably sticky end at the siege of Dublin.

Gratitude

I came down stairs to see a little white paw against the French window and a plaintive sound. I let Timmy* in and stroked the top of his head (he likes that). Timmy, of course, could have got in any time during the night through the open bedroom window but being the proper little gentleman he is (he is a tuxedo-cat and somewhat vain) he prefers his staff to open the door for him. He presumably had wanted to be out all night attending to his feline dealings and will therefore spend most of this morning asleep in the airing cupboard.

I replaced his water and went to the cupboard under the sink. This is Timmy’s cupboard. At least it’s the one where his food is kept and it’s the one where, when I’m doing the washing-up,  he scratches at, even if he’s just been fed because I’m near it and to his solipsistic little noggin that means “Timmy Time”. When I open it to get any of the other stuff he pops his head inside. It’s the same mentality that makes him always fuss around when shopping turns up from Tesco or Asda – is there something in there for me! No, Timmy, there’s bleach and tomatoes and mouthwash and lightbulbs and… Oh, God, which bag is the haddock in again? He likes fish. I once had to rescue him from the swing-bin after I had thrown-out the wrappings of some smoked trout. He’d subsequently gone in after them and got stuck. There was only a tail and pitiful mewling coming out of that bin by the time I got there seconds later.

Anyway, this morning, amidst much attention from the cat (“No, Timmy, please, you’re only getting in the way and slowing your breakfast down!”), I open a pouch of Tesco’s “Finest Cuts of Fish in Jelly” (his current favourite). This one was trout oddly enough and I give him his favourite IAMS biccies and he sniffs it all once, purs and then buggers off.

He is naughty, self-centred,  haughty, capricious, whimsical and vain (even for a cat) but he’s a also very loving and utterly adorable.

*Not our choice of name. We’re his third staff.

Settled science

Via Greenie Watch -

More settled science here.

Isn’t it wonderful how much more we are learning despite The Salesman’s assurances that the science is settled.

Although, if the science is settled, why are we spending billions every year on more climate science? Isn’t this money wasted?

Or could it be that the science isn’t settled, that Al G’s claims on the matter are worthless? Heaven forfend!!!

The very idea.

Well, to the topic of this post -

Large amounts of ozone — around 50% more than predicted by the world’s state-of-the-art climate models — are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds. It has particular significance because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane.

WTF!!!

Surely not. The state-of-the-art models are not accurate!!! They are wrong!!! Can’t be. Or is that an indication of the state-of-the-art?

Damn those models, can we believe ANYTHING Naomi Campbell, or her intellectual equal, Al Gore, has to say?

Bill of Rights

From Tim Blair -

I’ve got nothing against a Bill of Rights, provided it’s framed by the right people. Trouble is, the right people have been dead now for two or three centuries, and the sort of hypersensitive rights codifiers we’d end up with in 2008 would deliver us a document of such strangling modern correctness that while we might be allowed to wear “. . . .” T-shirts all day – hey, they’d probably be compulsory – we’d be up on charges the moment we offended any minority group. We’d end up like Canada.

Hear hear.

The United States Constitution was modelled on the constitution of the Roman Republic, by men (yes, yes, they were men. Different time, different mores. So bite me) who not only knew the Republic existed, but knew its history, laws, structures and why it fell. They knew the English constitution, its strengths and weaknesses and how it evolved, and the Roman Law (which is a very different thing to the laws of Rome)

In a word, they were educated, and their work shows they understood the importance of principle over convenience.

Today? The people who would rewrite our constitution or frame a bill of rights, couldn’t find Rome on a map. They wouldn’t know Cicero from Seneca, Calpurnia from Messalina or Octavian from Augustus, let alone describe the Gracchi and Sulla constitutional reforms.

I’d be scared of any Bill of Rights written today. Sure it would grant me all sorts of worthless rights, but employing an army of tax parasites to enforce them while destroying my real and very valuable civil liberties.

Steyn, Macleans and the Kangaroos

I have seen a few references to Mark Steyn being let off scott free by the Canadian ‘Human Rights Commission’, with the implication that it is all over.

Well, no such luck. All that has happened is that the CHRC has bottled out, not being able to take the heat, and claiming that there is no case. There is no double jeopardy protection in these human rights farces, and this has nothing to do with the recent hearing in British Columbia. The BC HRC accepted the complaint and hauled both Macleans and Steyn before its trashy tribunal, held a show trial, and the verdict is still outstanding.

As Ezra Levant has pointed out, these people will be almost orgasmic at the idea of  getting their claws into such high profile targets, but like the vampires they are, the light of publicity is painful, and to be avoided at all costs.

Lets see what they end up doing.

Green Kills

This purely an opinion piece, no news or happenings from around the world to share -

You know, there was once a time when even the nasties on the left, let alone the loopies, sought to justify their lust for control by claiming they wanted to improve the lot of the poorer and generally make humankind better off, but these days?

The green left doesn’t even pretend any more. They just want the levers of control and repression in their hands and have dropped any pretence of giving a fuck about mass poverty. Just so long as they can wibble on about Saving The Planet they feel justified in pushing any ratbag Stalinist hell they think they can get away with.

That myth, ‘The Welfare of The People’, no longer rates a mention, even in passing, and forget about any expressions of true concern for the welfare of people. When true human suffering is raised it is just an inconvenience, something to be airbrushed out of the narrative of Caring for The Environment.

You know, I applaud people who get rich, who work for it, creating wealth for all and making millions while doing it. I will admit to a little envy, a smidgeon of jealousy even, but I really begrudge them not a dollar of it. Al Gore though? With him I make an exception; I loath that arsehole with all my heart, and all my soul. Drivelling and drooling on about how we all need to cut back, all the time getting fabulously wealthy from scaremongering and encouraging pointless policies which have the sole effect of making a nightmare of already poverty stricken lives.

I so look forward to seeing him sued.

Green Kills

Sometimes the malign effects of eco policy are too blatant for even their most ardent supporters to spin into cheers. From the BBC -

The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty, an aid agency report says.

Oxfam says so-called green policies in developed countries are contributing to the world’s soaring food prices, which hit the poor hardest.

The thing that sticks in the craw most, is how blindingly inevitable this was. I cannot comprehend how anyone possessed of two neurons to synapse, and willing to use them, could ever have expected a different outcome.

This is food people. FOOD. Start sticking it into cars instead of people and food costs go up. When there are people on a dollar a day, and you start doubling their food bill, what in the name of all sanity do you THINK will happen to their living standards?

The group also says biofuels will do nothing to combat climate change.

Well there is a surprise. I could have told them that, and it wouldn’t have cost more than a phone call.

Sigh, what do we expect when policy is set by people with a degree in wimmens studies?

One UN adviser went as far as describing biofuels as a “crime against humanity”.

Now this is a whole different ball of wax. When one authoritarian policy fails, the nasties start calling for another; they just can’t let go.

A crime against humanity is loading people into cattle trucks and shipping them to the death camps, being stupid isn’t. Even if that stupidity ruins peoples lives.

I don’t want to see these people on trial, just sacked.

Polywell in Peninsula, Bullshit in Britain

Students at Peninsula College have built a basement Polywell Fusion Reactor. It cost $3000. Meanwhile us Brits are set to become a nation of Windy Millers Yes, that’s right. $100 billion on fucking windmills which are totally unable to provide base-load generation.

Earlier this month, Paul Golby, the chief executive of the German-owned E.ON (one of our largest electricity companies), came up with the shattering admission that the back-up needed for our new wind turbines would amount to 90 per cent of their capacity.This alone would mean building scores more gas and coal-fired power plants, to guarantee continuous supply during those times when the wind is not blowing and therefore the turbines are not generating any electricity.

It is this which reveals the true enormity of the madness now confronting us – because Britain already faces an unprecedented crisis over its energy supplies, even before our infatuation with wind power is taken into account.

For the sum of £100 billion which the Government plans to spend on the new turbines, we could buy 37 ‘carbon-free’ nuclear power stations at current prices, permanently supplying enough electricity to cover all our current needs. And we need this new generating capacity right now.

-my emphasis

Yes, that’s right 37 fission stations, all our juice. I have written here before about the utter ignorance, contempt and hatred our Lords and Masters have for science. I am going to a star-party at Jodrell Bank Telescope (the World’s largest stearable radio array) in a few days time. It might be my last chance. It is under threat of closure to save £7.6m. This from a government that spends £500 billion a year which is, by and large, either pissed-up the wall or pissed onto us from a great height (their own figures suggested the smoking ban was going to cost £1.6 billion) and is planning on spending God alone knows how much (they clearly don’t) on a glorified fucking-sports day in London in 2012.

To say that I’m mad as hell is an understatement. I’m madder than a sack full of wolverines on PCP.

Every single member of this government ought to be made to read about Liam Winterbottom, 6, who is trying to raise money to save the big ‘scope. If they then do not hang their heads in shame and do the decent thing they ought to be dragged out into the street and kicked to death. Of course they have no shame and no deceny and quite frankly they are so demonstrably, clearly a bunch of evil, unprincipled, morally and intellectually crippled bastarding cunts I can see a very good case for doing it just on general principles already. Already? It’s well past time…

I hope Liam gets to be a spaceman. It won’t be in this country, though. He’ll be lucky, by the time he leaves school, if we’ve still got fucking electricity in Britain.

I hope I have conveyed my dismay, anger and near hecatombic rage in this post. And, no, I’m not even vaguely mollified by NeuArbeit getting gang-fucked up the Gary in Henley last night. That humiliation (they lost their deposit and finished behind the Greens and the BNP!) is not even coming close to what they deserve. I want to hear them howling for a mercy that they shall not receive before I will be even half-way satiated.

Climate hysteric

What a nasty individual James Hanson is. Even George Monbiot doesn’t want to turn people who disagree with him into criminals.

Wonder when he will admit Global Warming stopped six years ago? Since 1940 there have been 28 years of warming, despite a straight line 30% increase in CO2.

The AGW hypothesis has been falsified over and again, but they keep it up, getting more frantic as the data moves against them. Well, consider it, what will happen to Hansons career when we all finally get sick of his hysterical hatemongering? Even now, people are suffering as a result of bad policy generated by his claims.

As a BTW – did you know, for simplicity of calculation, the IPCC cited models, to a model, all assume the atmosphere is infinitely thick? I can see a real world conflict right there.

How many other false assumptions do they make in order to simplify calculations?

Canadian human rights

Now they are coming for the comedians –

A couple of thin skinned cows come unarmed to a battle of wits, drunken idiots get treated as drunken idiots, and then whine to the ‘Human Rights Commissions’ after they initiate acts of violence.

Measured assessment

Sage advice from Tim Worstall -

we’d be well advised to ignore the opinions of economic illiterates like George Monbiot or perhaps James Hansen. Certainly, the latter as a climate scientist has no particular insight and the former has yet to meet an economic idea he does not misunderstand.

Green MEP demonstrates ignorance

Caroline Lucas MEP calls for end to ‘great food swap’ and urges food sovereignty at London conference.
In a talk entitled Safety and Food Miles, the Green campaigner and Euro-MP called for an end to the inefficient, oil-dependent system of intensive global food production which stifles local economies, threatens human and animal health, and harms the environment.

I don’t know if this Greenie moron is just plain ignorant, or whether she sincerely wants to reintroduce food insecurity to the Europe. Suffice it to say, the ability to trade for food eliminates mass hunger wherever it is tried.

She concluded: “A re-localisation of our food systems would allow us take back control of our food from industrialists and financiers, and to feed a growing population in a way that is equitable and sustainable, while safeguarding human health, as well as the welfare of animals and the environment.

Allow ‘us’ to take back control? What does she mean by us? If she thinks I am going to do more than grow an occasional tomato or carrot as a background hobby she is out of her green and tiny brain. Outside that, why should I care if it is supplied by industrialists, financiers or Afghan camel drivers, so long as it is cheap, plentiful and nutritious.

Eliminating the benefits of economies of scale will result in mass starvation, and the biggest threat to human and animal health would be a return to the three field production system which clearly has her fantasising in the depths of the night. This woman wants to increase cost, while reducing quantity, quality and choice.

The pejorative use of the bogeyman word ‘oil’ makes her motivations clear. I can see her making the sign to ward off the evil eye every time she passes a service station.

Many countries are vulnerable to food shortages because of a dependence on imports. The UK, for example, currently relies on imports to provide almost one third of food consumed, giving us one of the lowest self-sufficiency rates in the EU.

So? Just what is the UK self sufficient in? Do we care, as long as there is someone willing to sell it to us? In return for what we sell them of course.

This woman has no knowledge of economics, agriculture, distribution or history, but seriously believes her opinion is more than worthless.

Another example of the extraordinary arrogance of the invincibly ignorant.

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