The home secretary faces the threat of more scientists resigning after sacking his chief drugs adviser Prof David Nutt for his comments about cannabis policy. Two members of the drugs advisory panel have quit in protest and others are to meet to discuss their next move. Alan Johnson said Prof Nutt was sacked for “crossing the line” between giving advice and campaigning for a policy.
The point is that there’s a conflict between safety, facts, opinions, freedom, freedom of speech, duty, duty of care, education, class and knowledge.
Currently, a few tens of people each year die while taking ecstasy. Most actually die from dehydration and related effects, not from the drug.
However, the drug is addictive in that it’s effects diminish with repetition and the user has to take more each time to obtain the same experience.
It can be argued that taking one drug leads to taking others, which seems a reasonable supposition. But even so, the deaths due to drug taking, as opposed to the deaths due to crimes within the drugs supply industry are miniscule.
Far better would be to fully legalise all drugs but to have life imprisonment for illegal supply. In this way, there’s be nothing to stop ‘curious’ people making their own drugs…
An even better, and logical proposition, would be to focus on preventable deaths as they stand in the real, accountable figures. Start by checking the official government death statistics… Oh! And here they are (it’s a big PDF file)
In this right-riveting read are all sorts of weirdness.
For instance, the number of deaths from CYSTITIS is greater than those due to those surrounding Ecstasy intake!! Perhaps we should be focussing our energies here?
But even more shocking, is that the deaths due to NOT WEARING A CRASH HELMET while driving a CAR are more than Ecstasy and Cystitis combined.
If HM Gov were truly concerned about the welfare of it’s citizens, they would insist on the use of crash helmets now and also make it impossible for motor vehicles to exceed ANY speed limit by the use of automatic speed limiting devices? Maybe install equipment to prevent vehicle movement if there’s alcohol on the driver’s breath?
But that removes the freedom of a person to drive how they like? – is the obvious riposte. And why should I have to wear a helmet inside my car? And if I want to drive while drunk, that’s my choice!
So? And there we are back to my first statement: “The point is that there’s a conflict between safety, facts, opinions, freedom, freedom of speech, duty, duty of care, education, class and knowledge.”
And in that, the scientist is absolutely right and Johnson has chucked away all ‘fair comment’ values of a free society and ended the debate by shooting the messenger. Meanwhile the carnage on the streets continues both by vehicle and by the gun and knife.
Either way, it’s still carnage – and deaths from Ecstasy are a pimple in comparison.
Drive a car, unsupervised, with your partner and her 6-year old child as passengers!
Find a cyclist while driving around
Make sure the cyclist is not wearing a helmet
Knock over the cyclist with your illegally driven and thus un-insured car
Make sure the cyclist dies
Quoting from The Journal, Live, here’s what happened:
A MOTORIST who had driven for eight years without ever passing a test escaped jail after killing a cyclist.
Denis Moore, 50, regularly drove his partner’s Hyundai Matrix mobility car despite only holding a provisional licence. Durham Crown Court was told yesterday how he was behind the wheel when he collided with cyclist James Jorgensen at 6pm on September 24 last year.
Mr Jorgensen, 55, of East Shore Village, Seaham, County Durham, was riding round a roundabout near his home when Moore’s car hit him. He was flung to the ground and died eight days later of severe head injuries.
But Moore, 50, of Byron Terrace, Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, escaped jail after the court was told Mr Jorgensen had not been wearing a safety helmet.
That’s murder in my book. The man Moore plainly has no consideration for the lives of others and the laws that we have to protect us.
The twat judge is no better and should be strung up or struck off. Like our forgetful MPs and their expenses, the judge has shown a complete disregard for the law, both literally and in it’s spirit. The judge’s tiny supposition that “helmets are safe” has completely outweighed the cascade of offences that Moore committed by actually driving on the public highway. If Jorgenson had lived, what hope would there have been for him to get any damages from Moore? None! Because by driving on the road, Moore’s insurance was invalidated and any compensation would have had to be derived from Moore’s limited means. His partner Bell was the same by allowing the offences.
In fact, it could be argued that Jorgenson, the cyclist, may have cycled differently and avoided a collision if he’d spotted some L-Plates on Moore’s car – but of course, Moore didn’t have any.
What a pair of complete and utter bastards, Moore and the Judge.
The completely un-reasoned argument the judge used could be applied to all ‘accidents’ (I hate that term – they should be called crashes, because that’s what they are, and almost all are completely avoidable).
By the same criteria;
Anyone knocked over on the footpath could have been saved by wearing a helmet or a suit of armour.
Anyone shot by a gunman could have escaped death by wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Anyone killed in a airplane crash should have had a parachute.
It’s the same, stupid, un-reasoned logic that shifts the onus of responsibility onto the injured person.
By The Way, Moore had to pay a £15 ‘victim surcharge’. That’s the price of a life.
L-Plates are £2.99 from Amazon…
I saw this tragic news (Pregnant woman dies in kerb crash) after writing the above today. Both the woman and her foetus died when hit by a BMW while walking on the footpath. It’ll be interesting to see if the stupid logic of the previous case is used when justice is finally served… Should she have been wearing a suit of armour last night? Can you see the rubbish logic at work now?
See local news link: Pregnant Carlisle woman dies after car mounts pavement
This is the full text of an ‘article‘ posted on the Michigan State University (MSU) news section by ‘the State News opinion writer’ apparently. Zack (for it is he) has his own particular version of personal rights and responsibilities, somewhat at odds with US law. His article worked though – he has had a shed load of comment…
Black 2001 Saturn SC2. That’s the car I drive – and if you’re a bicyclist on the road but not in a bike path and you see my car, I hope you’re wearing a helmet, because I might run you over.
Maybe not intentionally.
But you see, with all these things I can do in my car nowadays, such as choose a different song on my iPod, send a text message while driving or fall asleep at the wheel because I had to wake up for a worthless 8 a.m. biology lab, I might not notice you.
And, considering you are where you should not be, I might hit you.
The simple fact of the matter is, MSU has so kindly provided sidewalks for people on foot and Rollerblades, and MSU’s ordinance should be revised to require bicyclists be there too. The university has outlined bike paths on certain roads, but bicyclists can’t just create imaginary bike paths like they do.
I cannot drive my car on the sidewalk, so why must you ride your bicycle where I drive?
Many of my friends ride bicycles on campus, so I’m not trying to berate a whole demographic of students. I appreciate bicyclists who advocate environmentalism, since they are making up for the damage I do with my car.
I respect bicyclists who use bicycles as a form of exercise, since people certainly can never get enough fitness in their everyday routines.
But for as much as I respect and appreciate bicyclists, I will not hesitate to honk at them when they are interfering with the roads.
My concern is not merely about inconvenience.
Bicyclists on the road are a driving hazard to people in automobiles, since many bicyclists make turns without using hand signals and ride too close to other vehicles when there is no designated bike path.
For example, I was driving to work Tuesday when a bicyclist pulled up in front of my car in the right lane on Farm Lane going northbound where it intersects with Shaw Lane. There is no bike path at this portion of the road, and I needed to be in the right lane to avoid the left turn only lane, but the bicyclist was in the way.
Instead, I had to speed ahead and veer away from the fast-approaching rear end of the car in front of me, just barely making it into the right lane.
Some will say I could be more patient on the road.
But roads are for cars, not bicyclists. The bicyclist should not have been in the car lane.
It’s possible some bicyclists are trying to live out their dreams of being Lance Armstrong, and the smooth terrain offered by the roads where big, people-killing cars are designed to travel on are more desirable than the sidewalk pavement.
I get it, bicyclists – you’re in the Tour de France. Well, in your head at least.
But in reality, my gas-guzzling, carbon footprint-leaving car is trying to get around you, the bicyclist. And you, the bicyclist, prefer to coast, not along the side of the lane but in the exact middle.
Maybe in your head you are actually driving a car. Maybe that’s why you believe you should be behind a pickup truck and in front of 15 other cars trying to pass you.
And maybe you are Armstrong, so talented and in shape and able to pedal so, so fast. But Armstrong’s average speed in the 2001 Tour de France was 24.9 mph, which is 0.1 mph less than most of the speed limits on and around campus.
Plus, I’ve had difficulty finding students who actually obey the speed limit anyway.
It’s common for motorists to drive at least 5 mph above the speed limit, which makes your task to out-pedal Lance Armstrong all the more daunting. And considering you’re not actually Armstrong (even if you do wear a skintight yellow bicycle uniform), you likely are not going 24.9 mph.
And, oh yeah, Armstrong is competing when he is bicycling – your leisurely ride through campus might not even register on a police radar.
But, hey, snap out of it. You’re not Lance Armstrong.
And those are the headlights of my black 2001 Saturn SC2 bearing down on you.
Zack’s piece is a prime example of why there are no such things as ‘accidents’. All crashes and killings are someone’s fault – maybe it’s inattention, but it’s everyone’s duty to be attentive. If you can’t do it, get off the road.
[amazon-product align=”left” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”FFFFFF” height=”240″ region=”uk”]000728487X[/amazon-product]I’m indebted to this week’s CTC newsletter for pointing out an article by Ben Goldacre in the Guardian last Saturday (a week ago). I’ve used one of Mr Goldacre’s articles before in some presentations I’ve done at work when pointing out the poor and devious ways that good statistics can be presented and the poor data collection and usages that follow.
LV (formerly London & Victoria amongst other in/ass-urance names), did a survey, badly, and then got a plug on TV to talk about it.
They said it’s got really bad being a cyclist because the accident statistics have gone up.
Of course, the trouble is that the damage is done. Comparing the demographics and sheer numerical difference between Saturday Guardian readers and GMTV viewers (lots of children there..) makes the impact of the crap so much worse. Even the words of the world’s oldest and largest cycling organisation were no avail.
British Judge & Bike Hat Stats
In another nutty bit of legal weaselling, a case where a cyclist and motorcyclist collided (Smith v Finch 2009), the judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, ruled that the cyclist could have been found partly liable if wearing a helmet would have prevented or reduced his or her injuries
On the face of it, this appears sound. However, the statistics from long-term data collection disprove the efficacy of cycle helmets except for very young children who have large heads relative to their thin, weak necks.
There are a host of reasons why.
But as an example of how statistics could be used in future.
Suppose I crashed in my car and damaged my head. Using statistics, it can be proven that if I was wearing a helmet in my car, that would have reduced my risk of brain damage and the very same logic of the judge could be applied to me.
It sounds daft, but if everyone in the UK was forced to wear helmets when driving, at least 300 deaths a year would be saved.
But wait! Many deaths “on the roads” aren’t in cars – they’re pedestrians!!! So really, when you leave the house to pop to the shop, you should wear a crash helmet because another 500 people a year will be saved! When a car hits a person, the pedestrian’s head nearly always hits the top edge of the windscreen. Ouch.
Now that’s the power of stupidly using statistics.
And using the judge’s logic, everyone killed walking down the street or mown down at a bus-stop by a car – it’s your fault!!! (Only 0.7% of hospital admissions for head injury are cyclists involved in road traffic accidents)
News today that the U.S. has blown up one of it’s dodgy spy satellites under the guise of “public safety”. This BBC article, complete with stock photos and diagrams describes, with the words of “experts” how this “threat” to humanity has been safely disposed of…
Er.. right! Let’s look at this closely shall we…
Satellite and Hydrazine
Apparently, we are told it’s a blob weighing about 2.3 tonnes and about half of it would survive re-entry. This is despite the fact that it’s chocka-bloc full of hydrazine, the rocket fuel (plus it’s un-named oxidiser). Let’s check the chemical properties of hydrazine, say on Wikipedia. Here’s a summary:
Appearance Colourless liquid
Density 1.01 g/mL (liquid)
Melting point 1 °C (274 K)
Boiling point 114 °C (387 K)
Flash point 37.78°C (closed cup)
As you can see the flash point is about human body temperature, and it’s lower than paraffin, diesel and jet fuel but higher than common petrol. Apparently, they reckon that because the automatic systems are broken, the hydrazine is frozen solid and won’t ignite as it plummets in the inferno as the satellites drops down through the atmosphere.
This, of course, is in complete contradiction of the evidence before everyone’s eyes of the space shuttle which overheated a bit and then set light to the on-board positional fuel systems (hydrazine based!). Representative articles on the OMS and RCS are here, here and here. From these sites you’ll understand that the hydrazine will ignite upon contact with it’s oxidiser – no spark needed!
Space Shuttle Comparative Evidence
Let’s have a reminder of this as well as the way frozen rocket fuel reacts to overheating:
Challenger Blows Up!
Second Shuttle Breaks Up
These are the two space shuttles blowing up.
One going up (which happened because the frozen fuel got hot from a rocket exhaust) and one coming down (which happened when a hot area formed on the machine’s external skin, burrowed through and then ripped the internal tanks apart, setting off the fuel – boom).
So someone is lying. Rocket fuel either blows up quite readily as it’s an unstable substance – or it’s really stable and can withstand all sorts of rough handling including superheating and being mixed with hot sparky things as well as it’s design reactant.
Let’s also bear in mind that the space shuttle has an EMPTY weight of 68.5 tonnes and not much hit the ground intact. That is, it’s at least 35 times as big as the satellite and yet the argument from the “expert” is that it needed shredding to ensure it entered the atmosphere in safe little pieces!
Let’s see the words of “space expert man”…
Professor Richard Crowther, a space debris expert with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said that if struck with the missile, about 25% of USA 193 is likely to survive the fall to Earth.
“The smaller the debris is the more likely you are to get burn-through. So if you fragment something before re-entry, less mass will survive to hit the Earth,” he told BBC News.
So he’s saying that the smaller the bits then the more likely they are to burn up. Now the shuttles blew up into quite small pieces, the largest was about the size of the spy satellite and even they got frazzled. The satellite is already that big, and once the heat gets through to the fuel and oxidiser then it’ll go boom – just the same as the shuttles did. Also, remember that the shuttles are designed as load bearing aerodynamic structures, just like aeroplanes they can withstand tremendous forces. The spy satellite on the other hand, is going to be just like all satellites; a twiggy looking box designed to keep the internal components in one place. It’s not designed to withstand tonnes per square metre of pressure or bending forces. It’s a egg box design in comparison to the space shuttle’s crash helmet design. It’s going to break up and explode regardless.
Conclusion and Truth Revealed
NO! If it looks like a lemon – it’s a lemon. Call a spade a spade.
The reasons to blow up the satellite are twofold:
To make sure that the instrumental payload is destroyed so that it can’t be examined if it falls into the “wrong hands”
As a public display that the USA can shoot stuff down in space, just like China and Russia. A warning shot across the bows, if you like, to prove, at least to the local citizenry, that the country still has an effect globally despite the public humiliation of failure in all recent conflicts and interventions that the US has instigated.
Public safety was never an issue. They really don’t care about you! Their past and current actions prove this is so! If you’re an American, it’s a well-known fact that if you need help abroad, don’t go to the American embassy! This is the complete opposite to what happens if you are a British subject/citizen… And if they care that little about their fellow citizens, then what do you think their opinion is of the global public? Get real folks.
It would probably be more correct to replace the words U.S. with either “Bush” or “CIA” as I’m sure most sensible Americans are completely aware of what’s going on.
Late today the US military did a big show for the world saying that they are pretty sure they “got the tank” using such cute science words as “spectrographic analysis shows that…” and such like. The “show” was in a room with six people and a TV cameraman. No doubt they were all carefully screened so as not to ask embarrassing questions. Maybe they were just office staff from down the corridor. Whatever, it’s been a carefully planned and managed news “event” lasting nearly a month now, starting with a instigation of worry in people’s minds, then moving to the level of worry about a possible success in “the mission“, then a bit of pre-announcement tension, and then, just like in a blockbuster movie, the successful climax with an explosion. Gosh!
It’s still a smokescreen and it’s still just to make Americans feel “safe” and to ensure that the spy payload is well and truly melted. Look at it this way:
Both the space shuttle and satellites use orbital and attitude adjustment rockets. Usually, one of the reactants is hydrazine, stored in a tank. The size of the tank is dependant on the power of the engine and how long it’s expected working life. The question is;
Would they really make a fuel tank stronger in a simple satellite than they would in a re-usable, human carrying, highly public and publicity sensitive spacecraft?
If the answer is no, then it’s obvious that the story is hokum. There would be no need for this farce and the tanks would disintegrate on re-entry.
If the answer is yes, then that tallies with other sentiments about the lack of care that the US government applies to the safety of it’s own citizens.
The only consistency in this whole ferago of twisted facts is the hydrazine. It’s poisonous although it’s never killed anyone. It’s also highly reactive and all it really wants to do is blow up! It’s actually quite hard to stop it doing so!
As in hypnosis, instead of a watch, everyone is watching the tank. The real story is elsewhere and as in hypnosis, the hypnotist has got everyone doing silly things.
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