Scientific criticism should not be the preserve of scientists alone
Saw the above article, much like when anti-vax was a thing, it’s great to see stuff like this in the public sphere. See, uncritical acceptance of a study’s results within science is most definitely not a thing as rigorous (sometimes brutal) debate is, well, routine. The news places which uncritically reported the initial study are usually the ones who, when public opinion shifts against them, do a follow-up with the “See, science gets it wrong! All hail gut-level instinct!” sorta theme. The irony usually lost is that they often use the results of another scientific study to support said headline but whatever.
To my point. Scientific accuracy is a complex issue and it’s not as if all studies are funneled through a central scientific validator before being published. Yes, a lot of scientific peers end up on the review panels of journals so a lot of iffy stuff ends up getting rejected on scientific grounds but we’re dealing with people here. Some of said people are buts and are also on said panels and a lot of iffy stuff ends up being published. Additionally, absolute accuracy of results is only one consideration in deciding whether to publish a study. If a study has, prima facie, good experimental design but flies in the face of existing knowledge on the matter, it’s likely to get a guernsey somewhere because there are a lot of journals out there (more by the day) and it’s a business where money is to be made so there are profit motives as sometimes sensational papers get published even if they look likely to be shredded by peers in papers published in response. Sometimes, in fact, they are published because the response is going to be heated.
Something a bit different - a short story
This is really all about marking this story as mine for attribution reasons but, well, if you like it, say so. If you don’t, say so and say why. The plan is to do many, many more.
It’s about time
Working long hours, he was always told by his colleagues to get a life. He would gladly do so if he could really choose the one he wanted but he couldn’t. The promises and perks of being a doctor didn’t count for much past a certain point. Yes, he had lost his wife but that really only had currency for a limited time. He was old and sympathy had dried up. Not totally but to manageable levels at least. His heart had grown a bit hard to the lack of attention his colleagues had bestowed upon him and he’d become just a little bitter and sad. He had surgically cut out so many hearts in his career but had always been careful to replace them. Why hadn’t someone thought to replace his?
At home, things weren’t much better. Alone in his wonderful house, daily he ran his fingers across the soft purple case that held a very old picture of her as he arrived home. He had no interest at all in remembering the last few years of consumption and cancer, that little (or not so little, as the scans showed) tumour was just mechanistically doing what it could to survive, to make more cells, no remorse, emotion, pleasure or pain. That he often could momentarily identify with such a thing was an irony not lost on him.
Uh oh, the tide’s coming in. Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s all there is to it. Right?
One breath after another and although inevitable, far from guaranteed that after one completed breath, another will be on its way. No time to think, just do it. But there he was, standing in the middle of a desert and thinking about one thing for which thousands usually pass by unmarked. Well, that’s that, one completed breath. Time for another? Not yet. This rapidly building tidal wave has yet to pass. No longer than usual but damn, if it doesn’t always feel longer. He was already underwater and holding his breath comprises the last vestige of control he has over the situation. Hold it. Hold it (tick).
Maybe this time he’ll die?
The wave passes, he opens his eyes (tock). It’s safe again. Relatively speaking. Time to complete another one. In. Out. Done. Difficult.
He looked over at one thing they bought together. One of the first? He didn’t know. Didn’t take in such details. He saw a Meji chocolate bar in the back of his fridge, years old and well past its due date but there was no question of throwing it away. Such strange behaviour, so stupid. It wasn’t even as significant as the last thing he ever gave her or some other movie cliché, it was just a bloody chocolate bar. Melted within it was an overseas trip they had taken to Japan many years before, one of many they had taken together, nothing special in and of itself. They did have a good time, I guess. It was difficult to remember details other than the statue of the dog, Hachiko, at Shibuya station. Or the cats at Kiyomizu. Or that Japanese people ‘Thought of everything!’ as was their slogan when something as insignificant occurred as a train leaving perfectly on time. It’s all old stuff and experienced by millions yet there was no kinship in knowing that. There was no meaning in those sorts of things like others ascribe when they lose someone. Something which was a matter of course in life doesn’t become imbued with meaning after the last breath.
The truth is, the chocolate was symbolic but only of their plethora of space in the fridge. They would often joke about how no-one could eat it because it meant that their glorious trip was finally over. By letting it stay in the fridge, they could talk about their trip, when they would be going back, what they’d do. Unspoken but understood was, of course, that it would happen. Off on another adventure, tomorrow. There are plenty of ticks of the clock left. See, there’s another one (tick).
At that exact moment, he felt the need to finally do something about the chocolate. He would eat it. Maybe just to revive some old memories, no matter how awful they may feel and taste and, maybe, cathartically, he’ll feel her in his bones again for a minute or two. Or whatever. Who cares? It’s fake but maybe he could manufacture some caring. Why now? Because the boredom of pining had finally worn him down? Probably. Apathy and antipathy often scooched him aside but not this time. He will claim this chocolate in the name of……[got nothing]
He picked up the chocolate, it was obviously cold and hard but outwardly, it looked the same as when they bought it in Tokyo. Rationally, it will have deteriorated and, honestly, it probably won’t be worth the effort. Get it over with, just another thing to change up a routine, maybe give his colleagues a giggle tomorrow.
He turned the block over (tick). His heart stopped. There was a note.
At the convenience store, the fugu saki from earlier a distant memory, they were giddily picking up the weird shapes with the weird names and the weird stuff within. Green tea Kit Kats?! Hahahaha Cheese and chocolate?!? Really?! Hahaha wow, this place is so strange. They paid the clerk behind the counter, whooped about how everything was so cheap and dashed out of the store, hands locked like the gates of their own embassy. Nothing could possibly impinge upon this moment! Except she did. God, was she always so rational? Why did she have to bring real life in again? She always got so serious when she was drunk.
“I’ve noticed, love, that in Japan, with so much to do and see, there sure are a lot of people who look unhappy. How can their days be so beige when there’s so much colour and life around?”
“Love, don’t do this. Why can’t we just enjoy it?”
“I can’t help it and you know it.”
She smiled a somewhat motherly smile, he hated it because, well, she reminded him of his mother. She pulled his hips close and kissed the tip of his nose.
“Let’s play a game.”
“A game, huh? Sounds fun.”
“I promise it’ll be worthwhile. Don’t tell me where or when but I want you to tell me how much you loved this holiday in writing. Write it somewhere. Anywhere. Just do it in some obscure place you think I’ll never ever look. Maybe one day I will. And while you’re at it, write something else. Something you know I’ll love. What do you say?”
Her face turned a serious shade.
“You’ll do it. I know you will.”
She was always a stupid optimist.
Standing there, cold, shivering and panting, the words of the note lit the room.
“I love this trip. I love this chocolate but even more, I love you. Now, it’s in writing, I’ll never NEED to say it or need you to, as long as this chocolate sits in the fridge, it’s a monument to how I’ll show you every day instead (remember how many goddamn monuments there were?!). Words are never enough, right? Haha, how teenage! Arigato gozaimas!!! -_-”
It hit him like the shot from a gun. She smiled every time he opened the fridge and made a joke about how they didn’t want their Japan trip to end. We so cray! She was smiling at the note, not the goddamn trip! Now that he thought about it, she planted a smooch on him every time. Here he was reminiscing about the trip and the amusement parks, mentally planning their next and she was worshipping at a moment of her own in the fridge, a perfect monument to her unchanging love and affection for him and all he did was smile back and think of planes and passports!
That. Deceitful. Bitch.
He ate the chocolate out of spite but all it did was warm him up. Only now would her words finally be absorbed.
No longer uNAVailable
Hello to all readers (yes, both of you).
Bene a while but it’s been a frustrating summer with cancelled flights and, when I have flown, plenty of windy occasions to contend with hence lots of dual flying. The sum total is that I now have many more xwind landings under my belt and a savant-like ability to predict wind speeds from the random flappings of windsocks.
The biggest lesson for me has been to get better at loosening the reigns, so to speak. If I got hit with a gust on short final, I’ve gotten better at just riding with it for a sec before reacting. Haven’t had a genuinely rough landing in quite some time, even in a session which had 14/21kts of cross (sweated lots, but).
So we ‘ve been having some unseasonably nice weather in Adelaide of late so John and I decided to take a leisurely run to the hills, beyond and back. The route chosen was as follows;
YPPF -> Williamstown -> Morgan -> Alawoona -> Mannum -> WRR -> Dam Wall -> YPPF
Flight planning stage was nice and easy, with the great weather the wind on all legs was ‘variable’ which meant no need to have different tracks/headings. We went through the requisite calculations, plotted our course on the maps (non-permanent marker this time) quick ‘what to do’ in case we deviated from track and away we went in PYW. Quoth the pilot:
Parafield ground, C172 PYW, eastern apron, 21L for substation departure, dual, received ECHO
Tidbits from the nav;
- Lots of paper to juggle. VTC, VNC and flight plan, which I wrote on as we arrived at checkpoints and counted down fuel reserves based on burn rates.
- Position checks proved handy to stay awake because there’s lots of flying where you’re just looking out the window for traffic and seeing some fairly bare terrain in the outback.
- Wondering whether an aviation career would be for me, not much of a scenery guy and, well, you see a lot of that. I do like manipulating machines, buttons, levers and knobs, though. Reckon I’ll enjoy flying more when I have a non-pilot with me who I can bore with info like the advantages of constant speed props, leaning the mixture and helping me look out for a soft place to land during CLEAROFF checks.
- From Alawoona, did deviate from track a little but got a decent view of a country football game so it wasn’t a total loss (up the Rovers!)
- Have a slick pair of aviators, need to now get a gigantic aviation watch.
The only hectic moment of the whole flight occurred on final when a Tobago got a little close for comfort and had to do a go-around right next to me. The conditions were silky so the landing was reduced to little more than a bit of a bump. Actually really very happy with the whole thing. Next goal; buzz the tower at YPAD, holding up a 777 at Modbury then sound the shark warning as I go over Myponga for the lullzzz.
Hours so far: ~60 (1.9 in command, 2.0 IF)
Expense so far: ~$15181k
Another non-aviation post
Is fair stunned to note an increase in some Aboriginal relatives’ use of the term ‘kaffir’ to describe local Africans, sometimes even threatening them with violence, describing them as ‘dirty’, generally undesirable, ‘go back to where you came from!’, etc.
Leave aside (if possible) the inherent hypocrisy of my relatives who do this to other black people, the fairly palpable ignorance from where this originates and the gut-wrenching horror I feel about the expression of naked hatred like that.
The term, kaffir, is considered so damn offensive in parts of the world other than Australia that it has legal standing in South Africa as hate speech which can get you thrown in jail. The use of the term is so dangerous and inciteful that if any person, black or white, was to actually open their mouth and use it in South Africa, well, their safety would be impossible to guarantee. Using it puts you in the same thoughtpark as those who thought apartheid was a top idea.
Fam, you have to be much, much better than that. When you use a term which, in other contexts, could get you killed, stop it. Now.
Someone burped doing a downwind call in the circuit.
“XXX, downwind, touch-and-goOOOOOOOO………… pardon me!”
Q: IM me on Yahoo Msngr it's important. my username is jasontarrycc121224
Absolutely, will get onto it straight away. After all, it’s important.
Off-topic: The Andrew Bolt Judgement today
Not really aviation related but I feel the need to comment on this.
For those who don’t know, columnist Andrew Bolt, “…..wrote that some fair-skinned Aboriginal people, whom he called “political Aborigines”, had received prominence or indigenous awards because they chose to identify with their Aboriginality.” He was sued and found to breach Australia’s Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act today.
The problem lies with his discussion about whether someone is ‘Aboriginal enough’ to hold Aborginal positions. There are no degrees of Aboriginality in a genetic sense. To get a Certificate of Aboriginality, you need to be accepted by a community as being Aboriginal. Once accepted, you’re Aboriginal, regardless of your genetic history. You’re not 1/4 or 1/8 Aborginal, you’re Aboriginal and there’s a fairly practical reason for this; as there are no ‘full-bloods’ left thanks to the policies of previous governments, everyone of Aboriginal ancestry is already ‘diluted’ and quantifying that dilution really serves no practical or legal purpose. Fractions of lineage do matter with Native Americans because those fractions lead to documented history proving people’s tribal history/affiliation, land ownership, etc. but due to the destruction of the aforementioned history by government policies in the past, again, fractions with Aboriginal people are legally meaningless.
This is why his comments were out of line and the judgement was correct.
*Disclosure: I am of Aborginal descent.