341 - April Snippets | Scoins.net | DJS

341 - April Snippets


A remarkably silly comment piece (the piece and the comments) in the Guardian demonstrates a lack of appreciation of number. India is having a big problem, according to the media, with covid cases. As I've shown on the covid page for now (339), when we look at per capita figures the Indian position is as nothing compared to several countries in Europe. I'm not denying that they're swamped; I'm not saying this isn't awful; I'm saying that we've had as bad already and worse in total. So the reason for inclusion in the media is not the numbers, it is something else, like not coping, powerful visual images, local concentrations of cases. So it's not India as a whole it's localised bits of India and we need to be told the equivalent of either England-sized areas on localities as tight as Corby and Knowsley. Among the comments made often is that India is a source of vaccine. Consequently there is comment that we should not be pursuing deliveries and that we should be declining jabs so that they're used instead in India; I'm sorry, but both of these are pretty silly statements. India has 1391 million people, the UK has 67 million, 5% of that larger figure. Cases per million, UK is five times greater; in deaths per million, the UK is 13 times higher; in vaccinations delivered, India is on about 9% and the UK on 50% – but that means that the UK has used about 34 million doses and that India has used 125 million, so it is not as if India isn't generating enough vaccine nor that it has insufficient capacity. What is the matter is that, as ever, it is the localised situation that is the disaster and that some system are overwhelmed. What we need to see is the Indian figures reduced to geographic areas of more similar numbers; even a 100 million would be a better unit for comparison. Wikipedia. It isn't as if India has not known that they had a problem either. In some senses, they reacted very well in 2020 and that very success has caused them to take a lot less notice with subsequent warnings, treating the oracle as Cassandra. Mass political meetings and religious festivals (simply large meetings) are a very good way of allowing the virus to multiply, though explode is more apt as a descriptive.


Another part of the same article, for reasons I do not claim to fathom, pointed to the mass of food waste in this country, some 4.5 million tonnes per year (√√ right unit used). Here's the relevant report. Now that is a lot, but reduces to 184 grams per person per day. I suggest that this is still a lot, but would perhaps equate to throwing away a couple of apples each, every day. I think we might throw that amount between us in a week, some 10-15 times less. Trying to find what proportion of this is deliberate, the bits declared inedible are estimated at 30%. Which still leaves some 3 million tonnes every year implied as being avoidable household food waste. The WRAP report is clear that the majority of waste is at the household level and it is this specific waste that is the 4.5 million tonnes. [Data for household also includes waste to sewer, which is not currently available for other sectors. This means that there is a component of unknown magnitude included in household and not included elsewhere - that could invalidate the comparison!]

There's a lot of detail in the report and it is clearly a serious attempt to provide trustable information at a level that might direct the nation into better action. I found a table showing that matters have improved [2007 vs 2018, Table 2, P8] by 15-20%. That is not at all implying that this is enough improvement, just that improvement has occurred. Redistribution (whatever that is, report) ) doubled between 2015 and 2018 and I doubt that this reduced across 2020 given what else was happening. ¹

The target here, called Courtauld 2025, is a food waste target that would result in a 40% reduction of wasted food by 2025 compared to 2007, against a target for a 50% reduction by 2030A 50% reduction in UK wasted food (excluding inedible parts) per capita by 2030 compared to 2007 would equate to a reduction from 132 kg per person to 66 kg per person. Taking into consideration population growth, this would mean a reduction in food going to waste of around 3.5 Mt a year (2007 levels were 8.2 Mt [11.2 including inedible parts], and in 2030 they would be 4.6 Mt [8.1 Mt including inedible parts]).

Appendix 1 lists 'useful facts', though I'm afraid I read some of these with scepticism. Items 11 and 12 hit hard.

  1. WRAP research shows we now (2018) throw away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste a year in the UK, compared to 8.1 million tonnes in 2007.
  2. Of the 6.6 million tonnes we throw away, almost three quarters (70% of the total) is food we could have eaten (4.5 million tonnes).
  3. Household food waste would fill approximately 66,000 three-bed terraced houses, equivalent to the population of a town the size of Peterborough.
  4. By 2018 UK household food waste had reduced by around 18% (1.4 million tonnes) a year compared to 2007.
  5. By 2018 food that could have been eaten (the ‘edible parts’) had reduced by 26% (1.6 million tonnes from 6.1 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes) a year compared to 2007.[The amount of inedible parts increased by ca 0.2 million tonnes by 2018 compared to 2007, in line with the increasing population; explaining why total food waste ‘only’ reduced by 1.4 million tonnes]
  6. The amount of food ‘saved’ (i.e. not wasted in 2018 compared to 2007) annually by 2018 would fill 3 Wembley stadia, 30 Royal Albert Halls, 13 million large wheelie bins (240l), 1,300 Olympic swimming pools or 170,000 bin lorries/dustcarts.
  7. Had the reduction in wasted food & drink (the edible parts; i.e. the 4.5 million tonnes) not occurred, consumers would have been spending £4.8 billion a year more (in 2018 compared to 2007) on food & drink bought but thrown away.
  8. The savings associated with the reduction in food that could have been eaten (the 4.5 million tonnes) amount to around 5.3 million tonnes of CO2e a year (in 2018 compared to 2007) (the same as taking 2.4 million cars off the road for a year).
  9. Around 70% of UK food we throw away (post farm gate) still comes from the home (i.e. of the total from manufacturing / processing, retail, hospitality and food service and homes (9.5 million tonnes), approximately 70% comes from homes (6.6 million tonnes).
  10. Food that could have been eaten but gets thrown away (4.5 million tonnes) is worth around £14 billion (£13.8 billion). This is around £60 per month for the average family with children. The carbon associated with this food is equivalent to that generated by one in five cars on UK roads.
  11. A UK household wastes on average the equivalent of eight meals a week.  Based on 4.5 million tonnes of wasted food, 420g meal weight and 27,576,000 households
  12. An area almost the size of Wales (ca. 19,000km), would be needed to produce the food and drink currently wasted 

  ¹   Redistribution of waste food is what happens when food that would otherwise have been thrown away is instead made available for people to eat.  Example redistributor.


What is a fossil?

Fossils are formed in different ways, but most are formed when a plant or animal dies in a watery environment and is buried in mud and silt. Soft tissues quickly decompose leaving the hard bones or shells behind. Over time sediment builds over the top and hardens into rock.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes that in the phrase "fossil fuel" the adjective "fossil" means "[o]btained by digging; found buried in the earth", which dates to at least 1652, before the English noun "fossil" came to refer primarily to long-dead organisms in the early 18th century. [wikipedia]

I came across a belief that dinosaurs are the content of fossil fuels. I assume this is a primary school issue, connecting dinosaurs and fossils—how we know about the dinosaurs—with the use of fossil as a adjective. What I write here is the content stripped of all the humorous content. Indeed, I was so gobsmacked I didn't even see it as funny until quite some time later and only after I'd seen how much has been written trying to undo the confusion. How do we reach such conclusions? In this case because the single word fossil as noun is connected to the use of the adjective; this is correct. Where the logical failure lies is that we learn(ed) at early school that we know about dinosaurs because of the fossil records but that does not mean that all fossils are of dinosaurs. Powells.com essay. A house assembly topic to have fun with.

I move from there to wonder what the relative loss of plant life is over animal (and what other life amounts to significant mass). The division of life is itself quite interesting; Plantae, animalia, protista versus regnum lapideum (minerals). Then we separated life so that the previous three were deemed Eukaryota and added at the same level Prokaryota, which is / are bacteria. Where then does one place the fungi? This became a fourth kingdom within the domain of eukaryota. The expansion to six kingdoms came by dividing the prokaryota into bacteria and something older, so we add Eubacteria and Archaebacteria. By 2015 we'd moved the totals up and down again and now the consensus is as shown to the right, taken from wikipedia. The analysis of life under these headings by mass can be found here. Except that this is gigatonnes of carbon. Fair enough, it at least is a measure and it is available.


Taking this as the available data, we have 550 GtC on the planet, of which 450 GtC is plants and around 2 GtC is animals, though the authors of that site are keen for us to understand it was probably a lot bigger back in the dinosaurs' day, but they think two times as much rather than my instinctive ten times. Whatever, plants make up something like 80% of all the life and probably did so back in the times of the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are included in fossil fuels, but far less than a single percent of the whole. Most of fossil fuel comes from the small stuff like plankton. The suspicion is that there is a lot less life in total now than there was, thanks to humans. So when the likes of David Attenborough says we need to grow up and act or lose the lot, that is not merely a soundbite.


That previous entry causes me to wonder what other common thinking failures occur. I found some interesting failures of cognitive behaviour and that led rapidly to the same sort of list as I studied in essay 329 on logical fallacies. Looking to see if there is a study of the most common I found lists of 6, 8,10, 12 and 15. None of these are supported by evidenced research and I will continue to hope to find some.

Personally, I find the labels for these failures simply too much to remember. They would be useful if we had all had the same lessons such that identifying the fault caused the proponent to stop and self-correct. As it is, the terms are so rarely known (and even identified correctly) that any argument in which someone says 'that's ad hominem" for example, doesn't advance any facet of the discussion and guarantees a move instead toward argument – with emotion taking over and sensible logical thinking with discussion of what evidence stands up to scrutiny all lost. I see this as largely a pointless activity. If we could agree what the information is, then we can pose better questions and, if we can find answers, emotive argument soon disappears. Of course, we are all then scuppered by personal wants, wanting a particular result; but that falls into categories of deception, including self-deception. Again, largely wasted activity from a societal viewpoint.


Climate change: cities will be hit hardest.  Surely this is a good thing? These are the people most likely for their action to have an effect, they are a bigger group than the non-city people and they also have the biggest effect on change of policy — or acceptance of change. I have observed for decades that London has its own weather and is typically a couple of degrees warmer than the neighbouring countryside — though the perceived difference by me was always greater than that. I've commented elsewhere that rising sea levels hits cities hard simple because we do tend to build on the shore line (and more so when there's a beach or an estuary). Having read the linked article, I add Tianjin to my list of places at risk [think of Tianjin as the industrial centre on the bit of coast nearest to Beijing, though this is 120km away].


Purposes of emotions 

Three parts: subjective(how you experience the emotion); physiological how your bodies react to the emotion); expressive (how you behave in response to the emotion).  link 1.

Three functions: adaptive, preparing the body for action; social, which amounts to body language; and motivational, which has a feedback loop between emotion and motivation. Source 2.

Two components: physical arousal and cognitive label source 3

1  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-purpose-of-emotions-2795181

2  https://exploringyourmind.com/know-functions-of-emotions/

3  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-two-factor-theory-of-emotion-2795718

4  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/finding-your-authentic-pu_b_8342280

5  https://timyen.com/timyen-blog/2019/10/1/what-is-the-purpose-of-emotions-feelings-decoded

6  https://nobaproject.com/modules/functions-of-emotions

7  https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-control-your-emotions-effectively.html

Most of the time, simply the way you are thinking about the situation is causing you to feel the way you do. Another huge reason why we feel negative emotions is because our values are not present in that moment or being respected. 7 I relate to this second one, negative reaction to one's values being dissed. Once you have discovered why, [..] you might need to change the way you are thinking about the situation. If you start thinking of other possible ways of looking at the situation, you will begin to feel better immediately. [...] Understanding always leads to calming. You can choose how you want to react, but it takes practice; I don't believe this, yet.

Related essay next, 342 - Fewer Cows


George Monbiot, with whom I often disagree and whose opinions  I occasionally find extreme, has posted 20210427 something with which I agree strongly, to the effect that the media is letting us down over government sleaze. For want of a better and more accurate term, at least.

I won't repeat what George has written because it is linked, but there are several points that can be expanded, so I will point to them so you can track these down. One, the BBC is running scared and this is a loss to us all, government included. George has an earlier piece that is relevant. I recently read a different piece pointing to curious connections between BoJo and Jennifer Arcuri, thinking this could be far longer and more detailed without requiring opinion, just precise content. here's an example, showing that the press has not been missing this case, but that the situation has not changed or  improved, nor has it become transparent nor seen to be above-board. In short, this stinks. 

The issue about NHS supply (read chapter 4) shows the extent to which we need transparency of process. The extant cronyism and the recent sharing that this served to slow procurement down not speed it up—by in effect clogging up the system that was already in place—serves to show that politicians themselves need to serve their own processes with a good deal more care and precision. The Good Law Project and openDemocracy (or here) are filling a role but as I see it the media should be pointing to work such as theirs and expanding upon it, though I don't think they're even repeating it enough. No, it isn't the role of the media to call the government to account, though I support them when they do this; it is the role of the opposition to do that but all that we see at the moment is that a large majority provides a shield of impunity such that it is the role of the press to do the calling to account. Another related piece points to conflicts when the judiciary is used to supply checks and balances. You could re-read 284 - ProRogue.

Of course, what is also wrong is that the system is faulty, flawed and failing. I have long thought that it is wrong that an MP is allowed to hold other employment. I am uncertain whether it would be appropriate for any MP to direct that offered reward (bribe, payment, I don't care) be given to the party not the person without there being a remarkably strong system of recording what occurs. I think I want all politicians to be separated from favour and so to be seen as the public servants they purport to be. Instead, what we appear to have is noses in the trough and that serving the trough is rewarding to all concerned. Hence the self-evident oxymoron, the 'business vote'. Perhaps the vote occurs in the House, having been bought by business interests. All of this demonstrates that our political system fails to do what it is supposed to do.

DJS 20210429

MPs and second jobs:   Parliament   FullFact   OpenDemocracy. I think £82k is quite enough, including paying a family member to assist out of that. I'm not even sure that non-travel expenses shouldn't come out of that too. 650 MPs made an extra £5M in 2020, apparently. That's the best part of £8k each and if they were limited to a 10% gain, that could be made acceptable; but when some earn multiples of the MP salary, this is too close to graft for my taste. Might there be a difference between Theresa May being paid (lots) to speak in public and Sajid Javid accepting a (large) consultancy fee (which implies he did something to earn it). If there is a difference, it is to do with an offence being when action looks like preferential treatment such as cronyism or even worse, selling parliamentary votes.


"Conflict is the consequence of unmet needs" is a quote from an email from the darling daughter. In turn she was quoting a seminar on, of all unlikely things, corporate management. Struggling a little to recognise the message, I googled the quoted phrase and found quite enough sites using the same phrase. That doesn't make it understood, of course, and it may just be a label rather than an expression of understanding.

From a site on conflict management, it appears that the issue at hand, the problem that is presented for resolution, is rarely the real problem and that one should look (instead) at needs, values, status and identity. Conflict occurs when these are threatened, though the threat may come from competition, such as for scarce resources or from competition over what is valued. Needs can be listed, but they amount to what either or any party says they are; there may be some conflict between needs and so ranking might be necessary. Values are cultural where needs are not; culture includes religion and might be limited to a small circle such as family up to a far wider one like a nation. These are often hard to pin down and are assumed to be largely unconscious.  That makes these unconscious emotions and almost automatically hard to identify cause or reasoning for - they evade ratiocination. Thus it can be difficult in conflict here to even agree what might be declared right or wrong, true or untrue. Status is an attribute of position in society; it can be a perception, inherited or achieved (and could be shades of these in combination); this then relates to power and power over, which produces conflict when people disagree with this power or privilege. Identity is a little elusive perhaps, but refers to the sense of who-you-are that is threatened and the reaction is often both aggressive and defensive. It is identity that is at the root of most racial and ethnic conflicts, but also those of gender and family, where one's image of position in a section of society is put at risk. A typical situation occurs with every teenager who feels ready to take responsibility for themselves but finds that the parents feel the child is still somehow a chattel.

Reducing all of that detail to 'unmet needs' is, I felt at the time, a stretch. That is only because I haven't worked through the content so that 'unmet needs' can become the suitable label for the whole, which is my loss, fault, mistake, etc.. If I take the definition of such needs to be whatever someone declares to be such at the time, then a long step towards resolution is taken as soon as that need can be identified clearly. Tracking down the cause of that perception may solve the whole of the problem. However, it is emotion that gets in the way of thinking and in a sense people can be so busy being emotional (think rage) that they are, for a time, quite unable to engage in thought. Which is a pity, because being able to ask oneself why this emotion is being experienced may well be the shortest route to not only a resolution but a useful discovery - about oneself, as like as not. Particularly that you place <this thing> as a need, while the other party involved does not.

Which goes a long way to explaining why what is generally described as 'outdoor activities' are so good for mental health. A little physical stress in an unfamiliar environment allows one to put into perspective what is important—being warm, dry, fed, clean, healthy, for example—and in consequence puts other 'important' needs to what might be seen as a 'better' place in a ranked list of these perceived needs. I include in that those things that are taken as assumptions but not thought about (which I call presumptions, things often worthy of discovery) such as clean air and water, national support systems such as health care, basic safety support, rule of law. 

Links: 2 academic, 3 chatty, 4 more academic.


Good line from Jonathan Pie: "I just hope the bus that Dominic Cummings has thrown Boris under has a promise of £350M a week for the NHS written on its side"     Cash for Cushions


Gaby Hinchcliffe, with whom I disagree more often than I do with George Monbiot, came up with what reads like a good suggestion, that the lowest hanging fruit on the climate change tree is to change your diet a little, like eating meat (even) less often. Or maybe just red meat less often. Another valid point, that since hybrid vehicles and EVs don't pay fuel tax, how should they pay for their share of road maintenance? Side issue here, that one cannot expect all columnists to reach their preferred standard all the time. Oh, yes we can; that's what the editor is for and leaving a crap article to be published implies several other relatable stories (take that as a possibility to explore; I chose revenge).

..and paraphrased from the comments: "Who wants change?" Many hands go up. "Who wants to change?" No hands shown. Which kind of implies that we're happy about change as long as someone else does it. I suggest that the reverse should be the case; that if change ought to occur, then it is those having that thought who should demonstrate that they follow their own thinking. It could be called setting an example, but it might also permit discovery of what is good or bad about the change, such as inconvenience, attached cost and consequences. In the case of less meat, is more farting a consequence? To such a list I might add solar panels ands smart meters, about which I have written.

Ever wondered about the acreage required for a tonne of meat compared with a vegetable crop? Would you believe an acre is what you need for a cow? Properly, one livestock unit and not all land is equal, of course. Might it be five sheep equivalent to one cow (livestock unit)? Detail. Wikipedia.  It varies; in the UK perhaps 12 sheep to the cow, 5 pigs to the cow and perhaps 100 chickens. It would be smarter to measure animals against a particular piece of land and to allow for wintering.

This became a complete page devoted to a reduction in red meat consumption, next.


A May snippet: I found a reference that actually attempts to count the number of runners in the UK and comes up with a figure as large as 10% of the population, some 7 million. Source. Approximately 6.8 million people in England went running at least twice within 28 days. Running at any intensity and any duration was considered in the survey. Other than jogging or sprinting, there are different running styles. For example, the same study found that 280,600 people participated in fell running and 93,600 people took part in parkour or free running. Running is the most popular sport in England, followed by fitness class. So when I next get asked what 'good' is as a runner, I can refer to everyone already being in the top 10% just for setting off. The same source has data on the distance we walk and parkour, but you soon hit a paywall, which is why I have no link for that last.

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