388 - Summer Snippets 2 2 | Scoins.net | DJS

388 - Summer Snippets 2 2

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Summer snippets runs from June onwards. I have formed a subsection each time any single topic passed a two-screen measure (on my own set-up). No doubt some pieces ought to be uploaded separately, but I cannot as yet decide the basis for this.

I opted to expand #383 into #384-7, where perhaps I should have used a further sub-division. 

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.


I've written several times about the need to change our demand for energy. This piece starts from an award-winning article and turns steadily to what one might, as an individual, do about this.

This moved to form §388.1, 20220616

[30]  https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-concept-of-net-zero-is-a-dangerous-trap-157368?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2016%202022%20-%202322523139&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2016%202022%20-%202322523139+CID_53c6eee2cbb2689da70367c2a8825179&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=an%20article%20we%20published


A piece about gun control in the US and comparison with other nations. Moved to form §388.2, since it hit sufficient length. Done 20220617.


To me, increasing inflation and a leap in energy costs is reminscent of the 1970s. But few under 50 have any appreciation or memory of this. So the general reaction is to demand 'something be done about it', rather than tighten a belt or two – which is what we all have to do. But, of course, the media so easily have the wrong end of the stick, and choose to interview those panicking and demanding, rather than those who adapt quickly. I suspect that many have adapted, in the same way that we adapted to covid. The comment that the 2020s are not the same as the 1970s is  correct, in that we don't have strong unions, we don't have government in agreement witht the unions. What we do have is a visible difference between the interests of the workers and of capital (business, the rich and powerful). This heads us towards a very bad place. We should already be recocgnising that we're going to have a shrinking economy and that (therefore) resilience is a key factor. Which means that the sooner we adapt and the sooner we recgnise change as opportunity — to spend more intelligently, to use the squeeze to, say, lose weight, eat differently, insulate our homes, build better homes, and so on. But what is visibly happening is that the media expect the government to somehow magically make the whole issue go away (I dunno, giving us money to fill the hole). I am expecting that a lot of householders' money currently spent on entertainment (streaming, etc, but also eating out) is going to have to move to energy, especially when it gets colder. Meanwhile the media will describe this as a choice between eating and heating, without (by choice) reducing other spending. What we need is a prominent figure to point out that they can't afford to have more children. We need fewer people; rant, rant and repeat.


Largest countries by land area, to the right: I'm not sure I'd have guessed these in the right order. Change here only occurs if Russia or China are accorded land they have acquired or claimed. In China's case, pockets of land in the South China Sea and possibly Tibet, and in Russia's case, the Crimea and parts of Ukraine. And, unless we cause this to stop, a lengthening list.

Largest countries by population is more likely to change if population growth is uneven: 

China         17.7%                         Brazil            2.7%

India           17.2%                        Nigeria         2.66%

USA             4.18%                      Bangladesh  2.11%

Indonesia     3.42%                      Russia          1.85%

Pakistan       2.83%                      Mexico         1.61% 

On this population list the UK is 21st, immediately behind Germany and France.


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





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 just in 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 (or re-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 gives 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 level which is entirely subjective. Subjective measures are heavily flawed since a lot of assessment is done by comparison, not only with the local evidence but by measuring against expectation. So I'm going to be claiming physical unwellness whe running 5km takes more than 25 minutes (I have 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 useful 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.


Here's an allegedly better map of the tube system, which means how to get around London. While I am marginally interested in improved representation of information, 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. Here below is that other map, the 'regular' version.

https://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf is my preferred form. Once the map becomes complicated like this we have two choices: one, to accept 'complicated' and embrace it wholeheartedly; two, to attempt whatever simplification we can accept as users. I see this map as about as simple as we can make it without throwing away whole lines and /or stations.


[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 just 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?

Actually, I think I have reached the conclusion that, since we have issues with recycling plastics because they are inextricably mixed, then it makes sense to remove the plastic from recycling (returning it to fresh plastic) and instead find uses for old, mixed plastic. One such has been explored by me already, and in a watch-this-space sort of way; we can turn mixed plastics into a building material. We'd need to address the erosive effect observed in oceans and soil, where the particles become ever smaller, but is seems to me that we could generate plastic-based bricks for far less energy than we spend on creating bricks and mortar. Essay #309 and others. This chain was edited this month.

https://www.freethink.com/environment/bricks-made-from-plastic-waste describes a start-up in Kenya that crushes plastic, mixes with sand and applied heat to make brick shapes. These are considered twice as strong as brick, about half the weight and significantly cheaper. As yet, the resulting bricks are used for paving. The issue of use as a structural material lies with plastic being compressible. One assumes that plastic bricks are weak in fire; we know that plastic degrades in UV light. So in order to make plastic bricks good for construction we would need to cover them from light and fire, but we could make the plastic into containers to fill with other non-degrading material such as, sand and to make these containers in shapes that interlock. To avoid compression issues we either include a support structire or build at single -storey. The behaviour under fire is why plastic bricks are used for perimeter walls, paving and open areas, but even here UV degradation is going to be a long-term issue, especially if the selling point is that the plastic is removed  from the possibility of degradation.




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