28 April 2010

Cellos of Distinction

I agree, the bullet holes are a nice touch...

22 April 2010

Holy Blight

17 April 2010

Bloggers vs. Chiropractors

Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing...

The British Chiropractic Association has been suing [Simon] Singh personally for the past 15 months, over a piece in the Guardian where he criticised the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines.

The BCA maintains that the efficacy of these treatments is well documented. Singh said that claims were made without sufficient evidence, described the treatments as "bogus", and criticised the BCA for "happily promoting" them.

An international petition against the BCA has been signed by professors, journalists, celebrities and more, with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry alongside the previous head of the Medical Research Council and the last government chief scientific adviser. There have been public meetings, with stickers and badges. But it is a ragged band of science bloggers who has done the most detailed work. Fifteen months after the case began, the BCA finally released the academic evidence it was using to support specific claims. Within 24 hours this was taken apart meticulously by bloggers, referencing primary research papers, and looking in every corner.

...there are lessons from this debacle – beyond the ethical concerns over suing in the field of science and medicine – and they are clear. First, if you have reputation and superficial plausibility more than evidence to support your activities, then it may be wise to keep under the radar, rather than start expensive fights. But more interestingly than that, a ragged band of bloggers from all walks of life has, to my mind, done a better job of subjecting an entire industry's claims to meaningful, public, scientific scrutiny than the media, the industry itself, and even its own regulator. It's strange this task has fallen to them, but I'm glad someone is doing it, and they do it very, very well indeed.

12 April 2010

Fountain Square "Ecosculptures"

I have an knee-jerk aversion to the name "Butterfly..."

...but this is creative and fun. Nice!

This is Bags in Bloom. The bags are from Sands Montessori, which apparently has a lot of junk food and diapers.

This is The Eye of Providence by Rachel Argo and Adam Chow, 9th-graders at Summit Country Day. It is a pyramid made out of about 750 wire hangers and some cut up soda cans. Believe me, these pics do NOT do justice to this sculpture. I can't believe a couple of 9th graders took a bunch of trash and came up with this. These are the people we need to keep in Ohio, which is why you should vote YES on ISSUE 1 in May.

Top of the pyramid. I just took it because I like how the fore- and background go together.

This is Aluminum Anomaly by Isabella King, a 14-year old at Nagel Middle School. Impressive... can't imagine how much time it took to cut all the cans up!

"Atlas Recycled... Fragments of 14 atlases and road maps form the skin..."

I particularly like the statement about one of the artists: "Kendra Conklin is a belly dancer and Physics student at the University of Cincinnati."

"Belly dancer" and "physics student" in the same sentence... I'm going to Moe's!

"This sculpture is not only made from recycled materials but is a receptacle for aluminum cans as well."

These artists drank 5,000 Budweisers so we could enjoy public art.

09 April 2010


05 April 2010

A Rough Estimation of the Number of Way-Out Racists

Today I read this article about the murder of a prominent South African white supremacist. The article mentioned that South Africa's population is 50 million and the membership of the white supremacist AWB party is 7000.

So 14 out of every 100,000 people are racist enough to join a party based upon the idea of racial purity, at least in South Africa.

I have no evidence-based reason to apply the same proportion to the United States, but we're just talking here. So for the U.S. population of 300 million, this would predict we have about 42,000 people willing to join a white supremacist political party.

That is not a lot of people, and they're probably too stupid to do anything in an organized fashion. Unless, of course, someone else is willing to do it for them.


As insightfully pointed out in the comments, South Africa is only about 10% white. So 14 out of every 10,000 are supremacists. The U.S. is about 75% white (2000 census) which translates to a new U.S. white supremacist count of about 315,000. So it's a little worse than I first thought.