Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Bear-faced Robbery?


Yet another example of the tension between people and conservation is seen in the recent responses of people in rural Romania to a hunting ban on Brown bears (and other carnivores) (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/22/how-the-brown-bear-became-public-enemy-number-one-in-rural-romania). It is estimated that there are around 6000 Brown bears in that country (there are paid tours to see them in the wild) but rural folk have claimed that stopping the activities of local hunting associations has destroyed the 'natural balance' between bears and people. Bears are blamed for 'attacks' on people, livestock and crops and some locals are developing poisonous baits to kill them. Getting people to tolerate potentially dangerous animals is not easy (especially if they dont see an economic benefit).

D-Days?


Vitamin D can be manufactured under the skin by exposure to UV light. People living nearer the poles (especially if they have darker complexions), are likely to have to take in more of this material, in the winter (when sunlight in weaker and clothing heavier), via their diets, if they want healthy muscles and bones. In deed, it has now been suggested that this vitamin has a beneficial effect, preventing rheumatoid arthritis, meaning that people should be encouraged to take supplements, especially when days are short (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/21/vitamin-d-may-help-prevent-rheumatoid-arthritis-suggests-study). Some people have even suggested that vitamin D should be added to some common foods (as iodine is added to table salt).

Monday, 20 November 2017

Seeing the Changes 1242


Saw literally 100s of the alien Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) roosting by the M4 motorway near the turn off for Windsor. Saw two of the same beasties hassling a Grey squirrel in Crystal Palace park.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Seeing the Changes 1241


There are some impressively bright lichens on the wooden bridge in Bynea.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Face Off?


Disturbing news that academics have apparently been able to sufficiently differentiate folk as introverts or extroverts, on the basis of a single Facebook 'like', and to subsequently get the cohorts to show a 40-50% increase in positive responses to targeted advertisements (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/13/facebook-likes-targeted-advertising-psychological-persuasion-academics-research). These academics did not have a financial interest in the research. The study seems a little preliminary as the 'likes' were associated with fairly 'blatant' indicators (such as liking the Lady Gaga site) and the targeted advertising also (for beauty products or gaming apps) seemed pretty focused to appeal to the type of personality. Having said that, a pattern of 'likes' (often over many years) could be very revealing, enabling manipulators (advertisers, politicians, trouble-makers and criminals) to focus their attentions on likely 'marks'. It is probable that this has already happened. We do seem to need to think further on such issues. Think carefully, if you are tempted to 'like' this!

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Codger's Cogitations 1.


I had a very interesting conversation recently with a  younger person who claimed that they "believed in Science, as they didn't believe in anything else". Age slows down the mental responses but I wish I could have made the following points (not because I don't value Science also but because lay people need reminding) at the time. The first is that Science has no role in 'magical thinking' (this is one reason why some mathematically-based studies, like Economics, are not really, in my view, the province of Science). The second is that Science deals in probabilities (and probability and risk are poorly understood issues by some scientists as well as the general public). This means that your scientific 'fact' might always (however, improbably) be wrong. This is a feature actually used to attack Science by people who want a world of absolutes. The third is that scientists are, by their training and predispositions(?) nit-pickers, so you can always find someone who takes a contrary view or places an emphasis elsewhere. Add in the fact that Science, as presented to the public, generally involves simplifications and you have a somewhat confusing mix!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Museums in a Time Warp?



It is disturbing to note that, even with potential support from the National Lottery and other bodies, around 40% of regional museums have been forced, by financial restrictions, to cut their opening hours (https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/nov/12/new-battle-hasting-save-museums-cuts-reduce-opening-hours). Museums (along with libraries) are institutions that are ripe for cutting when local government funding becomes inadequate (most cannot charge general admittance as they have been designated as being 'free' ). Another way of enthusing the next generation outside the capital consequently appears to be in serious jeopardy. Museums are not simply, in my view, replaced by apps.

Bear-faced Robbery?

Yet another example of the tension between people and conservation is seen in the recent responses of people in rural Romania to a hunti...