Assorted headlines that caught my eye this morning

October 10, 2009

I was perusing the BBC News website this morning and these headlines caught my eye:

  1. What happened to global warming?
  2. Marge gracing Playboy mag cover
  3. ‘Scary’ climate message from past
  4. McDo: A love-’ate relationship?
  1. Empirical evidence indicates global temperature is currently trending down, not up as predicted by climate models.  Personally, I think that just indicates the unreliability of the models, not that human activities don’t affect the climate.  In my opinion, there are still plenty of reasons, global warming debate aside, for reducing CO2 output and other forms of pollution.
  2. What can I say… sort of makes sense in an age of virtual reality, I suppose.  Not that centrefold models have ever been that connected to reality.
  3. In a similar vein to 1. there appears to be new evidence that connects atmospheric CO2 levels in the distant past that are similar to the levels we are rapidly attaining to increased global temperatures and melting of polar icecaps followed by a consequent rise in the sea-level (with disastrous consequences for populations living in low lying coastal areas or on islands).  I am still cautious about the cause-and-effect conclusion that’s implied — I have to wonder if the events are correlated but not necessarily causal, or at least not in the simplistic manner alluded to.  Again, though, I still believe there are plenty of good reasons for doing a much better job of looking after our environment, regardless of whether the science here is bang-on or not.
  4. Ah, La Belle France.  If you’ve been reading my bons mots for a while, you will know that I spent some time living in France — I was seconded, by the Canadian subsidiary I was working for at the time, to their head office in Lyon, France as the project manager of a global IT implementation project involving a project team with members from the company’s sites in France, Canada and the US.  In the end, K and I lived there for four years, spanning the turn of the millennium — in fact, we arrived in France just a few months after José Bové lead a protest (referred to in the BBC News article) against globalization of the food industry and its impact on French food, culture and farmers.  During our stay in France, we did eat in McDo (pronounced “Mack-Doh” by the French) from time to time, particularly when travelling within France (we ended up seeing more of France than many French people ever do, we were told by the people we got to know there) — the food, if uninspired, was at least a known and predictable source of reasonably priced nourishment, accompanied by (most of the time, anyway) a decent set of toilets and air-conditioning, items which were probably more valuable than the food to us on a hot, humid summer day of touring around an unfamiliar city or town we were visiting.  So during that time we saw a lot of this shift in the attitude of the French that the BBC News article describes, and I can completely believe that the opening of a McDo in the underground shopping concourse linked to the Louvre was a non-event for the French media and population in general.  We did eventually stop eating at McDo, although not for reasons of globalization of the food industry — one of the perks of working in France was the “Comité d’Entreprise” or CE (here’s a Google translation of the French text for non-Francophones), which among other things often organizes subsidized events for the company’s employees, including trips scheduled during holiday periods.  The CE had planned a trip to Egypt in 2003 and we were all signed up for it, looking forward to the trip with great anticipation (we had previously gone to Tunisia on a CE arranged trip and had a wonderful time) as visiting Egypt from Canada was something we would not likely be able to afford later on.  And then… Dubbya decides to invade Iraq.  Due to concerns for the security of employees, travel to the area at the time was prohibited by the company and the CE duly cancelled the trip… merde.  We have not (to the best of my recollection) set foot in a McDo, anywhere, since then.

Of course, YMMV — read the articles and form your own opinion, dear readers.


Just like the Olympics, eh?

October 5, 2009

So, K and I have this running joke between us about how you just know that 99 times out of a hundred the outcome of the bronze medal round at the Olympics will result in… Canada coming in fourth.

Which, I guess, makes the results of the latest UN Human Development Report unsurprising:

We're number 4! We're number 4! :-)


Headlines that are enough to make your hair curl

July 23, 2009

Saw the following headline on the BBC News website:

Theft dismays Australia curlers

Which serves to highlight the fundamental difference between The Land Down Under and The Great White North:

“Police say the thieves probably thought they were taking a lorry full of alcohol from a secure car park at an ice rink.”

“They might be valuable… but that won’t do you any good. They could sell them to the Canadians, but they’ve got their own rocks.”

Yes, we do have lots of them… which is why:

“Australia is currently ranked 12th in the world for men’s curling. Canada is ranked 1st, with Scotland 2nd.”


Headlines that make you go Strewth!

June 25, 2009

An interesting tidbit on the BBC News website from Down Under:

Stoned wallabies make crop circles

And I will let the article stand, er, walk unsteadily, that is, on its own with no further comment.


Whoa! This is either the luckiest or unluckiest dude ever

March 25, 2009

The BBC News web site had this headline today:

Man survived both atomic bombings

I just can’t decide whether Tsutomu Yamaguchi is incredibly lucky for having survived being in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those fateful dates (and still being alive at 93!), or incredibly unlucky just to have been in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those fateful dates…  or maybe he’s both the luckiest and unluckiest dude ever.

And speaking of luck, which I suppose is in some way a form of probability, the BBC News web site also had an article under their Magazine rubric today titled:

What do you get if you divide science by God?

The article starts by mentioning a French physicist, Bernard d’Espagnat, has been awarded the Templeton Prize for contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.  He has worked on quantum physics, which is a field dependent on probability (which is how I segued into this from the piece on Mr. Yamaguchi).

The author then goes on to interview 5 notable physicists on “the meaning of physics”, and assigning each a spiritual category corresponding to their view on the overlap between science and spirituality, ranging from the “Atheist” to a new-agey “Pantheist” at either end of the spectrum with various flavours in between: “Sceptic”, “Platonist” and “Believer” (the latter being a quantum physicist turned Anglican priest).

As for me, if I were a betting man (hmm, there’s that probability thing again…) I don’t think I’d bet against there being some kind of “meaning” to Life, The Universe And Everything – after all, if there isn’t then there’s nothing much to lose in betting for it being there, but on the other hand I’d feel a right prat coming face to face with, well, whatever it was I’d bet against.

Of course, YMMV.


Headlines that make you glad you’re not making the headlines

March 23, 2009

OK, so what’s up with the BBC News feed today?  It seems to have a particularly deathly theme to it:

BBC News feed with a deathly theme

BBC News feed with a deathly theme

Just makes me glad that I didn’t make the headlines (yet again… not that I’m particularly newsworthy :) )


Two, Count ‘Em, Two Headlines That Make You Smile

March 9, 2009

Well, at least one of them makes me smile.  The other one, it makes me wonder about the people they have writing this stuff for the BBC News website.

Headline #1: “Hero in underpants tackles a ‘roo

Oh, come on, you have to smile at that! Maybe even chuckle out loud…

Headline #2: “Oily fish dementia boosts queried

Now that one simply boggles the mind.  I have this image of some halucinating lounge-fish… cheering for people who’ve been interrogated, perhaps?

Turns out the article is about a new study which calls into question previous claims that the consumption of types of fish which are high in oils containing omega-3 fatty acids leads to an improvement in cognitive function.  So the headline writer has distilled that down to “oily fish” (which on its own is reasonably straightforward, I suppose) and the claims that they are supposed to provide “dementia boosts” (OK, that actually sounds a bit opposite of what it’s supposed to mean — it reads to me like it increases dementia…) are being “queried” (called into question…)

Probably written by an escapee from a British tabloid newspaper…


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.