388 - Summer Snippets | Scoins.net | DJS

388 - Summer Snippets

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Summer snippets runs from June onwards until the length demands sub-division and / or a new beginning. 

I opted to expand #383 into #384-7, where perhaps I should have used a further sub-division. As it is, #383 is still long enough to justify breaking into subsections, a further level of sub-menu.

I turned the growth of monkey pox cases into a maths page aimed at those with no knowledge of logs, in the faint hope of persuading readers that they might yet see a use. Short form, it is how you find the t in  C = Kᵗ. 

I notice that drop-down menus often don't work on the website; I think this is because it takes quite a long time for enough of the site to load (the indexes for those menus) that this is taken by users—and that's primarily myself—to mean failure. Since I put in a number of alternative routes to help people find what they might wish to read, I'm not going to worry unduly about this.


Discussion recently with other old blokes about reading, underlined the perception among the age-group that the young barely read at all. The test question is to ask anyone under 40 if they can count the number of books they have read from choice. So all school texts are excluded (Far from the Madding Crowd; ..Thunder, Hear my Cry; ..The art of Motorcycle maintenance, etc), but any Harry Potter is included (and for some, that is most of their subsequent list). No, reading a magazine doesn't count, and reading on a Kindle only counts if you finished the book, in which case it is quite possible that the Kindle or equivalent will tell you how many books you have read. If someone says that's too many to count, then ask them about books read this year, 2022. If it gives you context, I'm on 2-10 books a week; this is week twenty-something and I've apparently read something like sixty books this year. Some were even on paper, which means, almost certainly, I've read them more than once, now. Mostly I read on an iPad; when I'm on a reading jag, it'll peak at maybe ten books in a week, such as when I decide to read the whole of an author's output. An example from January was that I read thirty Jack Ryan books, slowing down after about No 25. In March I read almost everything from Jodi Mitchell, who has an amusing way of looking at time travel, again petering out at around the twenty mark. In between I worked through the Felix Francis novels (since Dick stopped) and in the same way caught up on other authors of interest, like Eric Flint. This didn't apply to Cixin Liu and Alastair Reynolds, both of which I found eminently put-down-able. Which is probably my loss.  You might persuade yourself to look at #194.


I was wondering idly about the understanding of happiness, about which I have written before. The tern in vogue is wellness, The condition of good physical and mental health, especially when actively maintained by proper diet, exercise, and avoidance of risky behaviour. Yet that begs an understanding of risk as intended by the author of the definition. I suggest that a working value of risk is behaviour which puts at risk the 'good physical and mental health' already explained. So does that mean that one should not race, in that competitive exercise that pushes the envelope runs an increased risk of injury, or does one balance the risk of injury against the benefit to mental health for an achievement? Is there some sensible, wellness optimising, middle ground here? How much repetition of some—physical or mental—exercise seen as  necessary does it take to become so very boring it is having an opposing effect? For example, if I do a surfeit of sudoku in pursuit of mental health, how much damage am I doing physically from sitting still for so long? 


Conversely, if I do oodles of exercise, am I paying a price in cognitive decay?As to how we might measure wellness, it seems to me to be, still, stuck a t a leve which is entirely subjective. Subjective measures are heavily flawed since a lot of assessment is done by comparison, not on;ly with the local evidence but by measuring against expectation. So I'm going to be clainming physical unwellness whe running 5km takes more than 25 minutes (which I have done, complained at that occurrence), where others would be delighted (and are) at the same feat inside 40 minutes, claiming this as evidence that they are well. Such is relative. There are mental equivalents. There are (many more) things we could measure and do not, some of which might even be useflu and relevant to stemming the steady decay that ageing represents. To any younger reader, adding another year increases the speed of decay; if you need evidence, look at the age-grading curve, #263 view up the page as increased difficulty at doing (anything, other than becoming older still).

Want to be happier? Manage your stress levels – do stuff that minimises this, by dealing with whatever bothers you the most. Time management will help. Clarity of thought will help. Have less alcohol, more sleep, more exercise, better food, better company. Lower your expectations. Make becoming happier a personal target. List of lists.





Decisive people don't make better decisions [70]. I've long thought this, so I'll agree. But that means that indecisive people don't either. So the decisive folk spend a lot less time in decision (and in indecision) and thus have, potentially, a better quality of life. That the research says neither makes 'better' decisions says less about the process than it does the learning that occurs from having made a decision; evidently this is not assessed and generally we don't record how/why we made those decisions.

Being less or more confident of the choice that has been made cannot affect the outcome. It can however influence future ones. State-oriented people are less confident of whether the choice is right, which makes pursuing our goals a much greater challenge.

I read the questionnaire that formed the basis of the research and I found that, probably in  order to make the quiz work at all, the answers are binary choices. Personally, for many of these I wanted a third or fourth answer, mostly Something Else, which, As far as I could tell, meant I'd have taken a different action long before the decision point indicated. As to how any measure was applied to whether a decision was a 'good' one or how confident one felt about the decision taken, I felt that this was not satisfactorily explained. Also, that if it were explained, I would disagree with this content. I suspect that this confidence is based upon whether one says one spends time unable to move on after an event, but that the events so described didn't strike me as decisions at all, but as failure to take timely action.

[70]  https://theconversation.com/decisive-people-dont-make-better-decisions-new-research-183874



I find I really do not care. London is a place I actively do not want to visit. Ever again.

This map shows less topology and is more nearly geographically correct. I think I'd prefer the opposite to be available;  more topology. I can see that moving lines around to make the labels fit well is a necessary limitation. I think the walking links should be included. I assume that the shading indicates some sort of ticket price banding, which makes Heathrow in band 6, Kew in band 4.

https://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf is my preferred form.


The US persistence with the Second Amendment, the Right to Bear Arms, continues. The issue here is what is acceptable short of repealing the Amendment. Two things could easily change; the level of background checks and the range of guns allowable. The general response from a gun-lover is that more guns is the answer to any threat. At a state level, there is a strong correlation between Republican and (more) guns. Specific changes that would give a good effect would be to ban assault weapons, to ban large capacity magazines, to have universal background checks and to prevent people with a history of violence from possession.

Banning assault weapons seems easy and obvious. As Biden said, when the 2nd was first passed there were weapons that you couldn't own (like a cannon). Being clear what it is that is allowed (and sensible) is one issue; making sure that the existing assault weapons are returned to safe environments (e.g., the military) is quite another. Reducing magazine size (to ten or less) seems even simpler from over here and, significantly, is seen as a significant affector of mass shooting occurrences. The need for universal checking requires changes at a state level which produces ridiculous situations where any nearby state requires no checking (buy a gun with the same ease as alcohol), which is not quite the same as requiring a permit to own a gun. Permits and checks are recognised as effective reduction factors in firearm homicide generally, not just mass shootings. Generally, the process of obtaining a permit includes a background check. How thorough or effective these are varies from state to state. The fourth suggestion above is that anyone who has committed a violent crime is denied a gun; the significance of this lies in the distinction between federal and misdemeanour in the US; this proposal includes misdemeanours and therefore domestic violence, threats to kill and so on would become included as reasons to be denied a permit. Fifth (and no doubt to be widely disputed in the US) is a 'red flag' law, which means that where there has been warning sign, there should be investigation and there should be a risk protection order – which amounts to taking weapons away from someone seen as posing a threat.

The linked article points tot indicators that firearm homicide would come down by 35% if all five laws were passed in every state. That is 10,000 deaths a year, amazingly. The one of these five that could be forgotten is the ban on assault weapons. That is counter-intuitive but the research indicates that  it's not the what, or the type of weapon; it's the who. What is important then is keeping weapons away from those who pose risk, who present instability. The small magazine size, on the other hand, would have significant effect on mass shootings.

So what is odd here is that three of the four suggested rules would, in general, have support from gun-owners, who, in general, see ownership as a responsibility. In turn that means that the problem lies with the NRA.

I see this as having strong parallels with campaigns to reduce smoking, or use of fossil fuel. The economy has encouraged growth of the business—in this case, supply of weapons—and that makes for Big Business. The same economic drive gives significant power to that business so that it works to protect itself and therefore its future. So, whatever the consensus is among the people as a whole, it would appear that democracy is a failure as the power seems to lie with impersonal, inanimate bodies who work counter to the needs of society.

That calls for a significant change to the way we run our societies. 

I've written before about the so-called Business Vote. What is wrong here is that The People have a say once every four or five years, while lobbyists seems to have a say any day they feel like it. I've also written that politicians should be listening but they seem to have little control to whom they lend an ear. Thus the lobbyist will always win (while we allow the situation 'as is' to continue). We require our representatives to show to themselves that they have indeed collected a representative range of views. That's much too vague to have currency with the image of a politician.

Yet, the records in the US show that the NRA spent less on lobbying in 2021 than the National Realtors Association. [Steven Carr, comments to 60, no link found in support of that.]

Guns per 100 people, USA about 700, but gun owners per 100, only 42, Finland 38, Switzerland 29, Norway 26,.. UK 6. If we listed instead handguns, the UK would be near zero. In Jan 1997 there was a UK law change (a ban on handguns) and it would seem that this has had an effect since, rather delayed. This is a recording issue, since about half were not 'real' firearms. A further change (the ASBo Act, 2003) took that half out of the gun recording. Mass shootings in the UK; Dunblane '96, Cumbria '10 and Plymouth in '21. One issue to be wary of here is what sort of weapon is allowed and owned. Scandinavia licences almost exclusively hunting rifles. It seems to me that the issue (humans killing their near neighbours) is handguns. Reading the comments to [65], there are correlations with poverty, but also with ethnicity (black but not Latin) and with mental health, especially when coupled with access to ways of making damage at scale. The UK is not at all free of guns or gun crime, but most of the gun crime is with illegally held weapons and it is access/supply/denial that seems to be the problem.

[62] says According to the most recent figures [2021] for England and Wales, there are 156,033 people certificated to hold firearms and they own 617,171 weapons. Including shotguns, that's 565,929 certificates. Again it is easy to be misled by badly presented figures. There are 1.3 million licensed shotguns in the UK and 535 thousand other firearms. This suggests that people who have a licence tend to have several guns. This applies in the US, where a useful statistic is that  3 per cent of the population own half of the country’s 265 million guns. Trying to parallel such a statement, in the UK less than 1% owns all the guns. People who would like to have guns for protection in the UK (outside Northern Ireland) and on a losing wicket while 30% are in favour of no civilian guns at all and a supermajority (37%+39%=76%) want tighter restrictions than we already have. [66 and 67, which provided the table below]

I have read quite a lot about this topic. I have formed the opinion that the more incidents of this type we allow to occur, so we steadily lower the bar, the threshold at which such events are able to occur. The UK has had literally one or two in each of the last three decades, while in the US they are commonplace, daily events, 246 in the first half of 2022. These are identified as occasions where the victims are unknown to the assailant. There is a long-term correlation with political unrest, with a divided populatiuon, with a lack of political consensus, with social change; the US fits such descriptions very well. I wonder if those descriptions fit the UK too, in which case we should expect to see violence to erupt here too. Visible action towards 'levelling up' would help avoid this, while visible actions to protect advantage will have the opposite effect.

DJS 20220606

[60] https://theconversation.com/us-shootings-norway-and-finland-have-similar-levels-of-gun-ownership-but-far-less-gun-crime-183933?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%202305722951&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%202305722951+Version+A+CID_f6b5bd9874a616855176f51eca64cf20&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=US%20shootings%20Norway%20and%20Finland%20have%20similar%20levels%20of%20gun%20ownership%20but%20far%20less%20gun%20crime

[61] https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN01940/SN01940.pdf  Lots of detail sensibly collated. weapons = guns and divides into: air weapons; handguns; shotguns; other (rifles?). 

[62]    https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-firearm-and-shotgun-certificates-england-and-wales-april-2020-to-march-2021/statistics-on-firearm-and-shotgun-certificates-england-and-wales-april-2020-to-march-2021 

[63] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-58198857

This includes a comparison of gun-related killings as a percentage of all homicides in that nation. England and Wales, 4%, Austrailia 22%, Canada 39%, USA 73%. Handguns are not banned in Northern Ireland, where one is allowed ownership for 'personal protection', unlike the rest of the UK.

[64] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/firearms-law-guidance-to-the-police-2012/guide-on-firearms-licensing-law-accessible-version     Replica weapons are relatively common in crime. It is an offence to possess one with resulting cause to fear violence, or in ordinary English, wave around in a threatening manner, as it is indistinguishable from the real thing (until one tries to fire it). While one does not automatically need a firearms licence for one of these, its owner and, in effect, location must be filed with the national regulator (the Home Office). Some imitation firearms are readily convertible to operation and so do need a firearms certificate. Basically if it looks like a real gun it needs a licence. It is also an offence to create or import these. The rules are carefully written to make paintball, flare pistols, water pistols etc okay. Air rifles may or may not need a firearms licence, depending on the power available (in the archaic unit, foot-pounds of kinetic energy). Imitation weapons occur in about 6% of firearm offences.

[65]  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-25/to-curb-mass-shootings-require-gun-permits-and-set-magazine-limits?cmpid=BBD052522_CITYLAB&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=220525&utm_campaign=citylabdaily

[66] https://www.bsbsolicitors.co.uk/blog/imitation-firearms-and-the-law-a-case-study/

[66] https://www.ecnmy.org/engage/the-uk-has-more-licensed-gun-owners-than-you-might-think/

[67] https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2021/08/20/gun-ownership-three-quarters-britons-want-stricter

2021 Plymouth Killed 5+self,   Injured 2.

2018 Mosside      Kill 0,            Inj 12.

2010 Cumbria      Kill 12+self,  Inj 11.

1996 Dunblane     K 17+1;        Inj 15.

1989 Monkseaton K 1;              Inj 14.

1987 Hungerford   K 16+1;        Inj 15.

I've left Northern Ireland incidents out, since these were political not mental health issues and because access to weapons is quite different. For the same reason I have omitted embassy sieges and terrorist attacks, which leaves no events in the 70s.   I see this as evidence that the UK too has a problem with unstable people having access to weapons but that the general paucity of weapons works to keep this at a low level


[90] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/single-use-plastic-chemical-recycling-disposal/661141/

The first problem is that there are thousands of different plastics, each with its own composition and characteristics. They all include different chemical additives and colorants that cannot be recycled together, making it impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of plastics into separate types for processing.

Another problem is that the reprocessing of plastic waste—when possible at all—is wasteful. 

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling.

Yet another problem is that plastic recycling is simply not economical. Recycled plastic costs more than new plastic because collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste is exorbitantly expensive. 

Despite this stark failure, the plastics industry has waged a decades-long campaign to perpetuate the myth that the material is recyclable. This campaign is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince smokers that filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes.

Chemical recycling is not viable. It has failed and will continue to fail for the same down-to-earth, real-world reasons that the conventional mechanical recycling of plastics has consistently failed. Worse yet, its toxic emissions could cause new harm to our environment, climate, and health.

According to a report published by the Canadian government, toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging.

Proven solutions to the U.S.’s plastic-waste and pollution problems exist and can be quickly replicated across the country. These solutions include enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and unrecyclable single-use plastic food-service products, ensuring widespread access to water-refilling stations, installing dishwashing equipment in schools to allow students to eat food on real dishes rather than single-use plastics, and switching Meals on Wheels and other meal-delivery programs from disposables to reusable dishware.

Yes, I want no more single-use plastics, but how do we actually support that? What is the argument from, say, the large supermarkets that justifies wrapping the cucumber, the broccoli and lots of other veg in plastic? Is it cheaper than the alternatives, and, if so, what would we have to do to stop this being so? Do we actually need to ban single-use plastics?

I think the domestic solution is to move to a 'local' veg supplier who uses hands or paper. We recycle paper quite successfully.

Cucumbers last longer if wrapped, like ten days. But the sites that say this don't say how long one lasts unwrapped. It cuts out the consequences of handling by many (not least my missus, likely to handle ten things while choosing one). The plastic reduces dehydration and protects a thin skin. I say we need to eat it sooner but we also need to reduce biohazard. So (plastic, oops, paper, surely) gloves in the veg dept? Wrapped veg has a lower wastage rate (on the way to the end user). Morrison's attitude.

What about replacements for cling film? Reusables. Cotton? Beeswax?


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