Dear readers, did we offend? LSS goes navel-gazing

“Words are the tokens current and accepted for conceits, as moneys are for values”-Bacon

LSS is a passionate blog-why do it if we don’t believe in it? Yet sometimes the depths of human folly excite our scorn so much that our feelings escape the bounds of civilised language. We don’t mean to, but we do. Such was the case with our little post last Monday (LSS 26 4 2022) when we railed against the feckless squandering of antibiotics.

Well, the post has excited strong feelings. A lot of likes. But one with raised eyebrows from a supporter whose opinions we have valued for five decades. Thoughtful, it was-and valid. Because in its humble, LSS way it goes straight to the heart of what is happening in England and around the world right now.

Our correspondent objected to our use of the language we used to describe over eaters, characterising it as “fat-shaming” Aggressive, judgemental language, she said, which failed to address the real issues by sliding into schoolboy abuse. And then we had our lightbulb moment. Currently a prominent female Labour Politician has been accused by a powerful Tory newspaper of using her charms to distract our Prime Minister during his duties in the House of Commons. The attacks, which allude to an actress called Sharon Stone (who she?-ed) seemed to us at once puerile, witless and venal. They are an example of the ad hominem attack, a common logical fallacy to which we link here [1] Ad hominem is just Latin for calling names and is used when the speaker has no idea of how to counter his adversary’s facts and arguments (for the record, the politician in question regularly bests the Prime Minister in debate) And the matter goes deeper. For now that Elon Musk has bought Twitter, his opponents allege that the ad hominem style will now take over this huge platform, rendering it useless for intelligent debate.

Time will tell. But we at LSS have no time for intellectual laziness. As long as we go out on Twitter or anywhere else, we shall eschew the ad hominem style, and any other logical errors we can think of. And so-thanks to everyone who read Monday’s post. We welcome any further comments. Our first duty is to be read, true. But to be read intelligently. We leave the rest to the tabloids.


#angela rayner #boris johnson #daily mail # sharon stone #logical fallacies #antibiotic resistance

How our mental problems lead to antibiotic resistance

Humanity has a mental problem. We are thick. Stupid. Dumb. And vain, vain vain. Proof of this comes in a recent article by Robin McKie for the Guardian.[1] To get better yields (in this case, pigs) farmers are drenching their livestock in antibiotics. As you might guess this practice has led to a colossal rise in antibiotic-resistant organisms . Robin highlights one particular nasty called Clostridioides difficile which has now evolved to be resistant to all but three antibiotics. The last three, that is. After they fall, it will kill and kill and kill. Horribly.

And the stupid bit? All this over antibiotic-ing is in the name of short term yields to farmers. So they in turn can sell on cheap meat to fat bloated consumers for whom these colossal levels of protein and fat consumption are positively harmful. Please tell us: where is the intelligence in all this? And: have you ever watched a group of fatties tucking in at your local fast food outlet? Edifying, isn’t it?

Robin concentrates on C. difficile and the pig industry; but antibiotic squandering is widespread across all kinds of farming, and all kinds of resistant organisms are springing up, which you can read about here [2] in this introduction from the charity antibiotic resistance uk. There are many types of mental disorders, and we feel sorry for the individuals who suffer from them. But the worst disorder of all is plain stupidity; and we all suffer from that.



#antibiotic resistance #foodproduction #obesity #farming practice

Round up for the week: Optimisms and Upbeats

some stories which we hope will be important in the long term

Closing in on Cancer The more research we do, the closer we get to dealing with the threat of cancer. Serena Nik Zainal and her team at Cambridge University in the UK are now looking incredible detail at genomes for early warning signs of cancer. It’s a big step forward, as reported by the PA via the Guardian.

Muddy waters It’s a media cliche that England’s rivers have morphed into lifeless sewers since 2010. Maybe so; but it doesn’t have to be like that everywhere, as this optimistic report on the Thames shows. Veronica Edmonds Brown for the Conversation

Womens’ Football-Equality is the goal We’ve been reading Simon Kuper‘s excellent book about Barcelona FC. [1] For understandable historical and cultural reasons, the ladies’ section there is still a bit of a Cinderella. But, worldwide, the womens’ game is coming out of the tunnel and if the author of the next piece is to be believed, one day a ladies Barca eleven will take its proud first step onto the hallowed turf of the Camp Nou. Keith Parry for the Conversation

Could Brain Implants help the disabled? This is one we have dreamed of for a long time: artificial implants which will let apparently hopeless cases walk and talk again. We’ll pass you over at once to Nature Briefings, that most excellent of publications The Big Promise of Brain Reading Implants

Interest is surging in brain–computer interfaces (BCIs): implants that have shown promise for helping paralysed people to move, talk and touch. “I am always stunned at what we are able to do,” says trial participant James Johnson of his ability to control a computer, drive a simulated car, operate a robotic arm and play video games using his BCI. “It’s frigging awesome.” Bringing a BCI to market will, however, entail transforming a bespoke technology, road-tested in only a small number of people, into a product that can be manufactured, implanted and used at scale. Large trials need to show that BCIs can work in non-research settings and demonstrably improve the everyday lives of users — at prices that the market can support.Nature | 15 min read

These thing are what we can achieve to make life better when we put our minds to it. How much more might be possible if we did not waste all our time and money fighting stupid senseless wars over lines on maps,

[1] Barca: the Inside Story of the World’s Greatest Football Club by Simon Cooper Octopus 2022

#pollution #river thames #brain implants #football #womens rights #cancer #genes #dna #rna

Ginger Cocktails for Prince Harry

Today we devote our cocktail page to the life and times of Henry Charles Albert Davis Mountbatten-Windsor, known to the readers of popular magazines and newspapers as Prince Harry Duke of Sussex, who has been in the news lately, somewhat. Harry and his wife Meghan Markle belong to the whole world; so what follows is definitely anthropology not British navel gazing.

For reasons we do not understand, this rich but essentially unremarkable couple have fallen dreadfully foul of the right-wing British tabloids. Odd: when we were young their readers used to toast his impeccable CV. Privately educated at Eton, best of regiments (Blues and Royals) and on to a seemingly raffish life of a young aristocrat on the social scene. Allegations about flings with young ladies were greeted with a knowing smirk and a wink of the if-only-it- were-me kind. Suddenly, around the time of his betrothal to Meghan, all changed, both with the media and his family. And has stayed dire ever since.

So, purely in the interests of balance, we are going to base our cocktail selection on Harry. Balance it, as t’were, on his fine mane of ginger hair (couldn’t do this for brother William!) And the site we have chosen is the incredibly aptly-named Make me a cocktail– [1] Its beautifully presented and photographed pages will give you the details, making them another must for fun lovers of all social classes and backgrounds everywhere. They’ve got lots and lots of good ones, so we have simply picked out the best mixes.

Ginger smash That’s Harry alright! A delicious tropical mix of lime juice apple liqueur and dark rum, whose gingery bit comes from the strips of that plant cunningly introduced click now for more!

Azaadi Refreshing mix of pineapple juice, Cointreau ,dark rum and naturally made ginger juice Will get all couples clicking glasses.

Tropical fruit punch Lime, pineapple and orange juices, kicked to life with a real slug of rum. Looks good, tastes good and by golly it does you good, or so we found

The Harvest Sparkle Complex mix of honey, prosecco, ginger and bourbon Sounds like a nice full taste for the discerning connoisseur!

Namibian Rock shows Putin’s got it all wrong

We often wax lyrical here about new advances in computing (LSS passim). And how even the most advanced AI system may soon be rendered obsolete by its smarter sister, quantum computing. Now David Nield of Science Alert [1] reports how a humble Namibian rock may contain just the right compound to make quantum computers real. How so? Apparently it contains Cuprous Oxide (Cu2O) which if cut thin will allow the formation of Rydberg Polaritons. As anybody in the Dog and Duck will tell you, these are complicated quantum phenomena which are simultaneously light and matter. Don’t worry too much about the physics. The point is such an entity will store any value between 0 and 1, unlike boring old digital computers which can only do 0 and 1. The way is truly open to a revolution in computer speeds, and hence marvellous possibilities in things like nuclear fusion, health and food production.

So what has all this got to do with ol’ Pooters? Well you may have noticed he has started a brutal destructive war. Why ? Because his mind is wedded to an ancient, primitive doctrine of conquering land. Who holds the biggest bit of land is best,. The Top Banana. Mr Big. Some say it all goes back to the nineteenth century, but we think it probably dates back to Australopithecus. The possibility that science and technology might offer a better life to us all just does not occur to him. He has drawn all of us into a sterile process of death and destruction, whereas we might have such possibilities. That is why he must be stopped.


#putin #quantum computers #artifical intelligence #ukraine

Womens’ vital statistics: inequality hits the poor hard

Spin, gloss and bluster all you like. But the actuarial tables of a declining nation tell the true story, as we have alluded to in blogs past, And the set reported by the OECD make grim reading indeed for the poorest women in England. [1] Although our write-up uses Andrew Gregory of the Guardian, we found it in many media outlets. And it’s a tale of real injustice.

Let’s imagine three different sisters from the same English family who, by chance of marriage or work (as these things usually are) end up at different parts of the national income distribution. The eldest, Laura, marries a successful property developer. She can expect to live 86.7 years, comparable with the overall average for Japan, which is the best in the world. The middle sister, Anna, marries a teacher; Her life expectancy is about 83 years, coming in at 25th out of the 38 OECD countries; mediocre. The youngest, Amy, who ends up as a single mum working as a care assistant can expect 78.7 years of life, which puts her on the same average level as women in Mexico. Without disrespect to the good people of Mexico, a sombre comparison indeed.

It’s the truly vast gaps that impress; for life expectancy grows from decades of lived experiences, of either easy comforts or crushing burdens of deprivation and disappointment. This is one data set of many, and we need to know more. But it seems to point to an England that is made up of about three different countries, with vastly different life experiences. Rather like Victorian Britain, in fact. And the social legacies of Victorian Britain were the direct cause of its decline in the following century [2]. We don’t know about your country, overseas readers. But British followers should be concerned indeed.

we thank Mr Peter Seymour for this idea


[2] Corelli Barnett The Audit of War Macmillan 1986

#poverty #women #life expectancy

Thank you and happy Easter

As the first part of the year draws to a close we wish to offer a big thank you to all readers, contributors and those who have helped with ideas. In particular we thank our new followers and all those who take the trouble to say how much they have liked the posts. They are now too numerous to list here, but you will recognise yourselves from this.

It has been an eventful spring. But the big issues like Climate Change, Womens’ rights and freedom of speech won’t go away. We believe in those causes not out of a sense of moral obligation but because solving the problems they pose will make all of us more prosperous.

So in our last post before the holiday we wish all of you every success

#climate change #antibiotic resistance #global warming #democracy #womens rights

Here’s how to combat global warming-fast

The greatest legacy of Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine will be that it diverted attention from efforts to combat climate change. Which means that when the war is over we are going to have to move fast. Most reasonable people agree that, human nature being what it is, the best way to achieve this is to let someone make a bit of money from solving the problems.

Clever scientists are not short of ideas. But to get them to the market requires navigating a complex world of middle men-lawyers, marketeers, patent rights johnnies, financiers, bankers and the like. Now Guoping Hu, Eric F May and Kevin Gang Li, writing in Nature, describe how their invention to capture methane will actually get to market and make them a small sum in time to make a difference.

Capturing methane could make an enormous difference to climate change, because it has thirty times more warming potential than carbon dioxide. Unknown gigatonnes of the stuff pour from oil wells, gas plants and refineries; but it’s always been a devil to separate it out from other gases, especially nitrogen. The answer for the authors was ionic liquid zeolites {1] which you can read about in the paper. But they didn’t stop there. Instead the article focuses on a tour de force of how they navigated the treacherous waters of design, manufacturing, marketing and selling until they got to market in half the time it normally takes. It’s something any budding sci/tech entrepreneur might like to read, especially those whose ideas are needed by a dying world. But please do it quickly!

click on the link below or go via Nature’s lead in here

Industrial chemists Guoping Hu, Eric May and Kevin Gang Li share lessons from commercializing their methane capture technology in ten years. “That sounds like a long time, but it’s actually fast,” they write. “Patents last for only 20 years, making it a race against time.” To spur others on, they share advice on how to speed along the path from development to testing and manufacturing.Nature | 11 min read


#putin #climate change #global warming #methane #capture #zeolites

Antibiotics-a modest cough

When we started this blog-and indeed the Facebook page the proceeded it- our major aim was antibiotics. To draw attention to their failing supply, the dangers this posed, and of course efforts to develop new ones, or at least safe alternatives. Back then in 2015 the situation looked pretty bleak. But we rolled up our sleeves and with the help of kind persons who know far, far about IT than we do, we made a start.

Nothing we did could be equal to the efforts of Professor Colin Garner and his charity antibiotic research uk. Yet we got on the team and did our part in all sorts of ways. As did many, many others to a far greater extent. Including many of you who will be reading this, who helped and encouraged tirelessly.

Now we are happy to bring you news that real progress is being made. According to BBC Health [1] and other outlets, two new antibiotics called cefiderocol and ceftazimime will soon be available on the British NHS. What’s more it looks like their use will be more carefully guarded than older antibiotics. And someone has worked out ways so that it’s economically viable for drugs companies to produce the stuff.

So forgive us if we at LSS give a modest cough, point to ourselves and then say-thanks for following us this far. There is a long way to go, to coin an old platitude. But a start has been made. A ray of light indeed in the gloomiest of Aprils.

Homepage with ASK

#antibiotic resistance #superbugs #research

Stressed? Then get a pet

Yes it’s a stress-filled world out there right now. To add to our worries about global warming, pharmaceutical collapse and plastic pollution ,we now have to cope with the failures in anger management at the top of the Russian leadership. Any normal person might be forgiven for thinking it’s all getting to be a bit much.

Well, why not get a pet? According to Ann Hemingway of The Conversation, acquiring a furry friend such as a dog, a cat or a horse can can really chill you out. Apparently these animals invest in building and maintaining long-term emotional relationships. There is even evidence of therapists turning to our four-legged friends for their help in calming down traumatised children. We remember a fantastic story from 1996 of a tiger cub who was taken to meet the inmates of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The genuine joy of these patients was unforgettable. If anybody who was thre reads this, let us know-you’ll be in your thirties now!

So a nice little heart warmer for you today-but think about it. A dog might be a lot healthier for you than benzodiazepines. Because they won’t take you for a walk.

#cats #dogs #horses #animal welfare #stress