Headlines Politics Scary

Britain Votes ‘Maybe’

On Thursday the UK turned out in their droves to cast their votes on the UK’s membership of the EuropeanUnion and  unanimously said in one voice, “we’re still not really sure about any of this.”

The historic referendum has returned an overwhelming ‘maybe’ vote, with 52% in favour of leaving and 48% against.

With both sides of the debate populated by compulsive liars who are amongst the least trustworthy in the country, it’s little wonder the population at large had no real idea which way to turn.

Confused Brexit voter Steve Anderson said, “with the remain side championed by a public schoolboy whose mum still cuts his hair and a slimy delinquent who does unspeakable things with farm animals, I’m afraid I had to take the Leave side.

“I mean, I don’t really understand a lot of what Boris Johnson says, but he’s such a lovable oaf you can’t help but side with him.”

On the flip side, Remain voter Jonathan Bradley said, “as I don’t really know which side’s specious arguments to trust, it was sensible to vote to leave things as they are until we actually figure out what’s going to happen. That just seems like the really obvious thing to do.”

Despite the closeness of the result, expert David Mango said the UK will run ahead and leave the EU anyway.

“Ruining the lives of the majority of the population based on the poor decision making of fifty-two percent of voters is one of the fundamental tenets our democracy is based on,” he said.

Leaving the EU is still not a certainty however. Government sources have suggested that due to the closeness of the vote other options are being considered, including splitting the country in two along the 52nd parallel, near Birmingham, giving Remain voters the southern half and allowing the Brexiters to inhabit the northern half as far from Europe as possible.

“The problem with that,” said our source, “is that Scotland will probably be an independent country and part of the EU by the end of the decade, so the anti-Europe population will find themselves sandwiched between two European countries they want no part of.

“Really, if they want to leave Europe, they should just go live somewhere that isn’t in Europe.

“I hear the property values in Venezuela are particularly favourable.”

Our source was keen to stress that the main thing to remember is that for now, we technically remain part of the Euopean Union, so there is absolutely no need to panic, even as the stock markets and the value of the pound crashes down around us.

Positives were taken however in the 72% turnout. Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor, said, “it just goes to show that if people consider one of the options on the ballot paper as palatable they’ll actually turn up and vote.”

Media Politics Scary Technology

Illusion of Choice

This infographic seems to be doing the rounds today. It is mostly US-centric but a similar sort of thing is present in our own media, albeit not to quite the same alarming extent. This is, however, the very thing that The Whimpering Pen, had I ever gotten it off of the ground, was going to be highlighting (it may return as an Xmas project, who knows, but since the phone hacking scandal it doesn’t seem as ground-breaking).

You might have guessed this wasn’t going to be an entirely self-penned post owing to the fact that it has catchy headline for once.

[via The Loop]

Media Consolidation Infographic

Source: Frugal dad


Life Scary Science

Reading the label

Image: foto76 /

I have noticed recently just how useless the information on the outside of medication is. The adverts invariably say “always read the label” but compared to the leaflet inside (which sometimes amounts to a full book) the label is often uselessly vague.

Take, for instance, the antibiotics I’m taking now. On the front it tells me to avoid milk at the same time as taking the medication. It doesn’t tell me why, it just leaves me to assume that my stomach will explode should tablet and milk mix at any point. It also doesn’t offer any guidance on what exactly constitutes “the same time” – does in mean in the same mouthful, or do I have to wait thirty minutes, an hour, or three hours after taking the pill before I can have milk? Nor does it really elaborate on what it terms as ‘milk’ – is yoghurt okay? Cream? Should I avoid milk chocolate?

Life Scary

Okay, own up

One of the nice background features of the software that powers this blog is the ability to see a variety of stats for site visits. I can see the number of visitors, what posts have been viewed, the other webpages people were on when they followed a link to this site (in other words, mainly Facebook) and search engine terms that have directed people to this site.

I check this stats page periodically to satisfy my curiosity. Sometimes, however, the page only serves to pique that curiosity.

For instance, here is the Google search terms that have apparently brought people to this site over the last seven days:

Ignore for a moment the slightly depressingly low view counts, and take a closer look at the terms that led people here. See anything?

Let’s highlight the part in question if you’re having trouble.

Right. Now who the heck was looking for that? And why the heck would you want to?


Colin Firth Again

I’m afraid to say that, after my previous encounter with a giant cardboard advert featuring Colin Firth’s big fat face, things have now escalated.

It is, I’ll admit, partly my own fault. After a while of walking past the banner for Sky television, I realised I don’t actually like Sky (being, as they are, part of an evil worldwide organisation with aspirations of world domination – one of several such organisations we have in the world, which is slightly unsettling). So, I dumped the cardboard cutout onto our paper recycling bin that sits in the hallway for junk mail.

This has had some unforeseen circumstances.

Since I didn’t damage the banner in any way, I just dumped it on top of the recycling bin. Which has basically lifted it about a foot off the ground. So now, whenever I come home, Mr Firth is staring at me through the window. It is quite unnerving to catch it out of the corner of your eye; it makes you feel like there is a child with an abnormally large head watching you.


Life Scary


Now, let me just clear this out from the off: I’m not particularly superstitious, I know the science in the film 2012 is laughably bad (see Dara O’Briain’s rant on “the electrons are angry”), and any correlation between the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world is nothing less than luck on their part.

That out of the way, let’s now turn to the facts. The world appears to be falling apart. Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and Burma, civil unrest in the middle east (at least, more than usual), the economy is wankered,  and the sun is entering a period of high activity that could see solar flares causing disruptions to communications and systems on Earth.

Now, the threat of a world-ending cataclysm, at first, seems pretty laughable. As I said earlier, if you’re going to use the ending of the Mayan calendar as an indication of the end of the world, you might as well use Microsoft’s inability to plan computer calendars past the year 1999 as a sign the world was going to end in the year 2000 (and don’t get me started on the Y2K scare; people seemed to think that computers would ‘think’ the year was 1900, not 2000, come to the conclusion that they didn’t exist yet, and fail to work – that, at least, is how one BBC reporter described it). But, when the number of natural disasters is actually increasing, if there is even a single superstitious cell in your body, you’ll start wondering if there isn’t something ominous going on.

There isn’t, of course. We just notice them a little more because 2012 is reasonably fresh in people’s minds and people keep drawing conclusions, because humanity is quite a superstitious lot. Who doesn’t have a good luck charm, routine, or belief in a higher power? I do (not the latter, of course). All but the most hardline scientists probably have some kind of at least partially superstitious belief of some kind. I filmed an hour’s lecture last year in which an academic attempted to outline his argument for marrying science and religion (I could go on a complete tangent about that on its own. Let’s just say, I’d make sure they sign a prenup).

As a result, I have no doubt that there’ll be many scientists around the world on December 21st 2012 keeping an extra close eye on their instruments, and breathing a quiet sigh of relief when the world ticks over into December 22nd.

Fail Scary

Oh dear

Dear lift companies: this is the sort of thing you don’t want to get wrong:

Politics Scary

Cycle Hire Scheme: the last thing we need is more cyclists in London who don't know what they're doing

Okay, I’ll admit it from the off: The London Cycle Hire scheme hasn’t started as badly as I thought it would. It does still worry me that the powers that be (such as they are) don’t seem to have considered the dangers inherent with the scheme.

For a start, we have enough problems with cyclists in London these days as it is, darting in and out of traffic, cycling on pavements and speeding through pedestrian crossings with little care of anyone’s safety. They also have a habit of getting crushed under lorries, something which the lorry driver is usually blamed for despite the fact it was probably an undertaking cyclist in the wrong place that got them killed. Cyclists do seem to have this high-and-mighty attitude that says ‘I cycle, therefore I can do what I want’, helped by a lot of advertising that paints a rosy picture of the health and environmental benefits of cycling. But I digress (as I often do).

The problem I have with it is this: The Cycle Hire Scheme will only serve to put more, inexperienced cyclists on the road, whilst at the same time (and this is the bit that really worries me) not providing even that most basic of safety equipment, a helmet. The main plus is that these inexperienced cyclists, being, as they always are, inexperienced, are not as aggressive on the road and the few I’ve seen seem to behave a little better.

Don’t get me wrong (a phrase I often find myself typing on this blog, usually a sign that I should really redraft everything because I’ve spent ages ranting), in principle it is a good idea, much the same way the car pool services (such as Streetcar of which I am a member) can be beneficial by saving people money whilst at the same time stopping them from using their cars or carrying bikes on crowded commuter trains, but I do fear that the Cycle Scheme hasn’t really been thought all the way through. I hope I’m wrong.