Friday, August 26, 2016

A wodge of it

"What is going on in the great water problem in NZ, the Watergate" I hopefully do not hear you ask. Well, me buckos, it can be summarised as bugger all.
Various people have gone on various media and said various things. The Prime Mincer (Hoban 1982) explained that the government was only the government and shouldn't be getting in the way of local government in dealing with all those sick people. "Ewww" he did not add.
The local gubblement people are all flappy hands about it still but good progress is being made in moving toward a scoping committee to look at various options for issuing a statement on the possibility of a statement being issued in the very near future. As soon as they get a handle on what the central government would like them to say.
However all is not lost for the denizens of Sickcity as the Central government has put some money where it's feeding orifice usually is and stumped up funds... for marketing... for businesses negatively impacted by the crisis (WHICH IS NOT A CRISIS BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE CRISES IN THE HAPPIEST KINGDOM).
Yes, for those business people who can prove that they have had financial hardship, the G-men are gonna front up with $100,000 dollars...for the whole town... like the 100 businesses affected might get $1,000 each to buy a page in the local newspaper.
"Now with less Campylobacter" perhaps.
This was only announced yesterday (hmmm 5pm on a Friday night, what a funny time to announce such a thing) so there are no details available yet but I'm sure that the government who could not be arsed dealing with the NOT A CRISIS in the housing market of the largest city in NZ whose every action directly affects the whole country, will be pouring aid and advice into the area.
In Getting-Lost-In-The-Wilderness-News, a Polish woman has survived a month in the mountains of NZ after her partner fell off a cliff and died. She walked for two days through waist deep snow to find a mountain hut and after seeing that there was no food there, broke into the next door government workers hut where there was food and firewood. After a month her family contacted the NZ cops and within a day they had her back to safety. Good result. Except if you are an NZ conservative, of course. Readers of and scribblers to the National Party mouthpiece blog that says (HAHAHA)it is independent have been aghast at the money spent to rescue this person of a feminine disposition who had the affrontery to not be killed like her so-called partner was. Also, they have been full of how much better they would have handled it and why did she stay in the hut for a month? They would have cut down a  very large tree and built a snowplough which they would have used to fetch a doctor to bring her partner back to life since he had been in the snow, he wouldn't have been really dead argle blargle blargle. Dispiriting stuff, even from the crowd who would ban burkas but think young woman are asking for it.


Madrid now has some decent brewpubs.

I came all the way to drink Estonian porter [top right].

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lazy Mallory Ortberg blogging

Let's stick the Babby Jesus onna spike!
Why would we want to do a sick sick thing like that? 
It'll be good training for his later career.
Not really. But it would stop him wriggling.
You're a sick man, Joseph, that's why I married you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Proverbial Creek

One is, of course, fully aware of the great advantages and boosts to the New Zild economy that have been provided by the industry formerly known as farming. For many years we rode on the butter boxlid and came away from the cream bowl with what can only be described as a self-satisfied smirk.
"But do things not change?" I hear you ask in your wavering revisionist voice."Does not the tide of history go in and out like a whatsit and the like" you conclude somewhat lamely having exhausted your marine metaphors.
And, yes, is the answer, unlike the raisin and mackerel slices in Mrs Miggins Pie Shop and Tractor Museum things do move on and up in a ever greatening arc of getting more gooder. Except maybe for dairying in this fair land where I have it on good Facebook authority 1/2 of the country thinks farmers want to kill them. This was news to me and startled many of my acquaintances who were unprepared for my accusations of "playing the victim card." As described on Facebook.
But now comes news of the Farming Fightback as 4100 good people in the area of the town known as Havelock North have fallen sick due to foolishly drinking the water that comes out of their taps or faucets as some "cheerful in their own way" folks call them.
Now, aside from the pros and cons of drinking contaminated water when you live in Havelock North due it being only slightly more exciting than cheesecloth, it is a very bad look to have so many people poisoned by their municipality. Bad form, what.
Gradually the story has unfolded. There are three bores for Havelock North (those of us who have been there frankly exclaimed "Yeah, right" at that) and two of them have never had any trouble in the way of hidden extras. Bore no.3 is, of course, the troublemaker and has had two former E.coli reports in 2012 and 2014. After each report the bores were chlorinated and BAD No.3 was not even used. "What's that?" you say thumbing through "Water Quality of Southern Hawkes Bay Towns: Why you should stick to straight Whiskey, 2nd ed." "Chlorinated? Surely this water is chlorinated all the time". There follows a long, embarrassing, silence.
 Er, well, you see, there have never been any problems before, except for those two times and er, well. Is that a squirrel?
But those good folks of Havelock North who can venture more than 3 metres away from a toilet have been carefully and seriously advised of what is going on by their local government representatives. Well, basically, told to boil their drinking water and it's really tricky finding out who is to blame for the contamination of the water. So tricky, with two councils involved and there being no way of communicating between them beyond wandering puppet shows performing allegorical plays. Luckily the central Government leaped into the breach and the local MP went on National Radio to say that "Frankly, I am angry". Golly Moses that showed 'em.
How has the contamination occurred? You might well ask, since the aquifer is way down in the earth and has a hard sort of cap over the top of it. Scurrilous people have pointed out the explosion in population numbers for dairy cows in the region what with dairying being more profitable than cocaine, in Havelock North anyway. These people will be laughed out of decent society and told to get a flamin' life you Commies because a bit of cow poop never hurt no one and anyway, who's to say it came from cows??? Naughty old Microbiologists is who, they have confirmed that the most probable cause of the contamination are ruminant animals. Disturbingly, there are no camels in the Havelock North greater metropolitan area otherwise we could blame them and their nomad owners and feel all white victim privileged.
And here one puts on one's lab coat, turns to the camera and says "I think NZ should get prepared for more of this. Local governments are being disbanded by the central government which doesn't give a rat's arse about NZ, much of NZ is being turned into Cowshit Creek and we, collectively, have the brains of a flatworm".
Disclaimer removed on smack my head advice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cut and paste

Here at Riddled Research Laboratory and Paspalum Infestation Help-Line we are not deterred by the jeers of the ignorant masses, nor by pettifogging concerns about "ethics", and we press on with our experiments in grafting the top half of one prototypical expression of emotion onto the bottom half of a different emotion, in an attempt to re-create Ted Cruz.

Despite our determination, progress in this research have been stymied by non-cooperation from potential donors and graftees.

I am not quite sure what a 'pettifog' is but it sounds like a rather minor smog, more like a mist.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The noselessness of man

Not many people know that Tycho Brahe had a range of prosthetic noses, including an ornate Cloisonné replacement with built-in salt-and-pepper shakers that he used at formal dinners, and another which dripped saline solution, which he wore when he had a cold.
Will I be a better person if I think that Tycho Brahe had among his prosthetics a plain, non-reflective working nose, a gold party nose, and a plainer silver nose which he wore for occasion where he didn't wish to upstage any royalty? His Fabergé nose with the tiny erotic scene inside, a present from his mistress? The bulletproof one, made from solid wolfram?

Now I want a Scandi-Crime series set in the Renaissance, in which Tycho Brahe and Kepler solve crimes through a combination of intuitive brilliance and backroom laboratory analysis, aided by prosthetic-nose concealed gadgetry and Brahe's beer-drinking scene-stealing pet elk.
In Season 2 the action shifts from Uraniborg to Prague, because of Rudolf II and Dr Dee. Also to save money filming in Czechia.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Allegro non Troposphere

"Bring-your-telescope-to-work-Day" sounds all very well in principle, but inevitably it goes pear-shaped, and ends up with Another Kiwi scraping parasitic flatworms off the inside of the lens. The little buggers get everywhere.

In other astronomical news, the stratospheric diatoms are back! Dr Wainwright has vouchsafed further details about the 2002 Anglo-Indian collaboration that used a weather balloon to take a reconditioned CD drive up to 41 km., and sample whatever odds and sods might occupy the near-vacuum at that altitude.

I remember a documentary about sending probes into space to collect alien life-forms, and it NEVER ENDS WELL.

Anyway, there is evidently an entire ecosystem up there between the Aurora Borealis and the noctilucent clouds, a "high cold biosphere", sustained by organic detritus falling out of orbit, much as whale-poop drifts down into the oceanic abyss and sustains a vibrant food-chain. The low troposphere is a veritable Ellis Island of constantly-arriving new lifeforms, borne on ice-meteors, encapsulating for the journey from other stars within protein sacs and vanadium-titanium spheres -- seen at right emitting a seemingly endless stream of ectoplasmic white goo from ears and mouth spilling mucoid contents in the manner of a vomiting pumpkin.

Figure 6. A flask-shaped BE (no EDX available).

Figure 8. A titanium–vanadium sphere with both biology-like filaments on outside and mucoid material oozing out of sphere EDX at C and O only.

It further appears that labelling these particles with the DNA-specific fluorescent dye DIPD or the membrane-specific DiCO6 shows that they are not Life as We Know It, because they are all DNA and also all cellular membrane. As shown by the change in colour of their Scanning-EM images. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!
Figure 13. Particle masses isolated from the stratosphere, stained with DAPI.

Figure 14. Particle mass isolated from the stratosphere, stained with DAPI, showing edges breaking into nanoparticles.

Figure 15. Particle mass isolated from the stratosphere, stained with DiOC6.

Tell us about this journal Astronomical Review, Uncle Smut! At great length with all the boring details!

With pleasure! Time was when Astronom,Rev. was the thorn in the crown of KE-I publishing, a Saloon des Refusé for contrarian cosmological speculations unfettered by the surly grip of reality. Astronom.Rev. supported the work of SETI (yay!), charged a nominal $25 / page processing fee, and enlisted the names of Francis Everitt and Roger Penrose for the editorial board.

Then Taylor & Francis bought the title and racked up the article-processing charge to $750. The current one-person editorial board is no doubt inundated with submissions, which he reluctantly rejects for failing to reach the journal's demanding standards, for its most recent volumes (covering 2015) contain only Wainwright's article and three others.

It was hard for erstwhile editor-in-chief Dylan Fazul to reconcile himself to the loss of Astronom.Rev. -- it remained on the website of KE-I Journals for half a year, into mid-2015. But to help him over the grief there were six other journals needing material... including Medical Research Archives.

So all across the civilised world, and in NZ as well, people checked their email and found spam like this. It is a small but perfectly-formed slice-of-life narrative, conjuring the sense of a network of solicitous individuals:
Dear Dr. YYYY,
My last email must have reached you at a bad time so I am following up. If you are not the right person to talk to about this please let me know or feel free to forward this email. 


From: Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M. D. [ Sent: Wednesday, July 6, 2016 7:42 AM
To: Dr. YYYY
Subject: manuscript submission from Dr. YYYY
Dear Dr. YYYY
I hope this email finds you well. My colleague Reni asked if I could get in touch with you about your paper titled XXX. Firstly thank you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read. I am hoping to have the opportunity to discuss having a short followup or perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of our journal. I think our readers could be interested in a paper with information from any continued research or new data since this was published. It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could also reach out to the co-authors or one of your students to collaborate.

If you have moved on from this line of research I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects; perhaps there is the potential for an article that would fit our journal. If you have any questions about whether or not a certain subject fits the scope of the Medical Research Archives I can put you in contact with Dr. Steven Lindheim from our editorial board.

Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M. D.
Senior Editor
Medical Research Archives


From: Koen, Reni []
Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2016 4:22 PM
To: Dr. Kateryna Bielka
Subject: manuscript submission from Dr. YYYY
Would you contact the authors of XXX about possibly preparing something for one of the next two issues? Let me know if you can’t find the article online and I will send it.

Thank you,
The Archive's definition of "Medical Research" is unusually wide, and the subject XXX can range anywhere from "The place of Renaissance speculations on memory palaces in contemporary culture" , to "freshwater fish ecology". If "junk mail disguised as entire forwarded conversations" does not become its own literary genre, I will be sadly disappointed. I particularly like the suggestion that the recipient should foward it, and try to recruit students or colleagues on the spammer's behalf. Don't break the chain!!
Stolen from Oglaf
Other versions of the invitation maintain the personal touch, but come from Internal Medicine Review, so Lisseth Tovar, Milena Mihaleva and Drs Donald Combs or Chadwick Prodromos fill the respective slots in the template for Senior Editor, colleague, and editorial-board member. Int.Med.Rev. is another of Dylan Fazel's project, but for some reason it stands outside the KE-I umbrella, and it is covered separately at ScholarlyOA. Int.Med.Rev. also has a Washington address. From it we learn (through the Goofle Street View) that you can also cash cheques there, then buy liquor and Chinese takeaways at the adjoining premises, which saves time if you've paid $2900* to publish a paper and you want to celebrate .

The format is an elaboration of spam that Editorial Assistant Krystyna Vinokurova was blasting out with Dylan's name in 2014, using the same gambit -- "The guilt you feel for ignoring my non-existent earlier request can only be assuaged by submitting an article".

Some have questioned the reality of these people, or wondered -- in cases such as Reni Koen, the Bulgarian customer-service specialist in online gambling and casino management -- if they are aware of the use of their names. However, further inquiry finds Dr Lovar announcing her editorial post in her LinkedIn entry, while Milena Mihaleva's status as Senior Editor / Writer appears in the Face-Bukkake. It may be that Dylan recruited the entire team through their entries at UpWork, a freelancing service where they offered their skills in writing / editorial work (or in project management, in the case of Ms Vinokurova).

 It is not clear how use an editor or writer would be at the Internal Medicine Review, which is a write-only medium. The papers are only accessible to subscribers,** and there is no way to acquire a subscription.
[Thx Jeffrey Beall and commenters]

Uncle Smut, apart from the Astronom.Rev. history, does this have anything to do with Wainwright's stratospheric diatoms?
Not as such, no.
* The processing fee is negotiable by a factor of 10 if you deal with Lisseth or Kateryna.

** With occasional unexplained exceptions.