Wake up Little Siouxsie – you’ve got to decide on Connie’s credibility in science sexism row

June 28, 2015

Alf has been keeping an eye on the harpies who have been hounding Sir Tim Hunt, the eminent scientist who has lost his job for being not too clever when he tried to make a joke.

It’s disappointing to find a Kiwi sheila among their ranks.

Yep. Siouxsie Wiles (the lass with a name that seriously stresses Alf’s spell-checker) chimed in to swell the chorus of condemnation of a bloke who is being judged and found wanting not because of any shortcomings in his scientific accomplishments but for a lapse in his social skills.

Or – as she put it – she has tossed in her 2c worth on the “latest sexism in science debacle”.

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A new species of primate is exposed by its willy – and maybe the missus has been monkeying around

April 14, 2015


Alf is not normally inclined to discuss domestic matters on this blog.

But he was seriously upset this morning by an unkind remark from the missus.

She had been perusing the Daily Mail where she learned all about the discovery of a new species of monkey.

The discovery was made after scientists learned to distinguish the monkey by the appearance of its penis.

The white-cheeked macaque was discovered in the remote highland forests of south-east Tibet after researchers set up camera traps.

The monkey has a distinctive rounded penis rather than the arrow shaped genitalia found on other species in the area.

Officially named Macaca leucogenys, it earned its common name due to the pale whiskers on its chin and the side of its face.

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Headline writer needs to remember what happens when the law of gravity is applied to a van

April 7, 2014


The Stuff headline writer stuffed things up scientifically in saying: Wellington driver’s 40m plunge a ‘miracle’

The first para of the report beneath the headline (with the luxury of having more words to play with) said:

Police say the survival of a van driver who plunged off a 40 metre cliff only to land in the middle of a busy Wellington intersection without harming anyone else a miracle.

Alf is inclined to quibble with this, because he has his own ideas of what constitutes a miracle.

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Yes, we are bringing Maori methods into meteorology – but why ignore old English thinking?

December 24, 2013
"Mother Nature didn't tell us it would be this bad."

“Mother Nature didn’t tell us it would be this bad.”

It’s great to see NIWA’s bosses understand the shortcomings of all their modern meteorological gadgetry and recognise the need to bring the skills of our indigenous people into the forecasting caper.

They banged out a press statement this week to explain why they are investing in Maori knowledge.

The statement kicks off by stating the obvious: forecasting whether we’re in for a hot, dry holiday or wet, humid conditions this summer can be a complex and tricky business.

Then it admits we need something more than all those fancy modern instruments to tell us what to expect, weather-wise.

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Is your todger a whopper or a tiddler? Dr Debby can tell you how your willy measures up

July 13, 2013

0 a size-does-matter

What, exactly, will Dr Debby be doing with her data, now she has established the average size of a feller’s todger?

Maybe she will take the information home to see how her husband, boyfriend or whoever he might be measures up.

Another thing: in the name of research, did Dr Debby get to slap a measuring rod along each dick embraced by her study?

Alf’s curiosity about these matters was aroused – so to speak – when he learned (here) that the latest research into the average penis size held few new surprises.

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It’s no bullshit – survey finds sociology and political science are the faculties to be axed

July 14, 2012

Great news for Alf, who long has harboured suspicions about the worth of social scientists.

According to a survey in the USA, which invited respondents to identify the social sciences we should kill off, sociology and political science ranked as the top two disciplines deserving the axe.

Not necessarily the most scientific of surveys, it could be argued.

But a survey nevertheless, and all the more credible for reinforcing Alf’s prejudices.

This is bad news, of course, for the social scientists who are desperately trying to overcome the impression they are irrelevant and deserve to have their faculties closed.

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The pitch experiment: if whisky dropped into Alf’s glass at this pace, he would turn teetotal

May 13, 2012

Alf has been fascinated since first learning of an experiment begun across the Tasman in 1927. Actually, he is more fascinated by the people who find it fascinating.

It demands much more patience than watching paint dry or grass grow and the Daily Mail today asks: Is this the most boring experiment ever?

It involves scientists watching drops of pitch form.

There have been eight drops in 75 years.

But the rate of fall is slowing. The last drop fell 12 years ago.

The current custodian of the experiment is a Professor John Mainstone.

He has been watching since the 1960s, although he is bound to have muttered “bugger” on five occasions, because he has missed all five drops that have fallen in that time.

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What’s in a name? When the name is McGuinness Institute, it tells you all you need knowing

February 29, 2012

Whoa there a mo’.

Alf might have spent an hour or so too long in Bellamy’s and maybe his usually sharp brain has been a tad numbed by the splendid scotch they serve.

But what’s going on at an outfit which today rejoices in the name McGuinness Institute

Early yesterday it was the Sustainable Future Institute.

But its directorial team has approved a name change to the McGuinness Institute, effective from February 28.

And who is the chief executive?

Why, it turns out to be someone named Wendy McGuinness (FCA, BCom, MBA), a chartered accountant specialising in risk management and future studies.

Wendy says in a media statement she

… believes this change reflects international best practice, making transparent both where the principal funds are coming from, and the purpose; namely private funds invested for the public good.

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Worms show us how life span can be doubled by booze (taken in tiny doses)

January 21, 2012

Alf is off to the Eketahuna Club to order a life-extending whisky or three.

He is reacting to news that scientists have proven alcohol can double life-span.

The report that got him going talked of “moderate” levels of alcohol delivering an increase in longevity among test subjects in a recent study.

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Blood test that can predict our longevity will be a powerful tool in shaping savings policy

September 5, 2011

Alf was alerted to a Spanish company’s announcement that it can help determine when people will die by using a blood sample, a US$700 test, and research that earned three American geneticists the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009.

The tip-off came from a Freakonomics post which raises very important political issues.

For example, if governments obliged citizens to take such tests to find out how long each of us will live, they will have a powerful tool for dealing with the savings problem.

As happens in this country, pervasive under-saving among American households is a consequence of the fact we don’t know how long our savings need to last.

Save too much and you miss out on having fun when you’re alive. Save too little and you end up broke and reliant on the social safety net that taxpayers fund.

But let’s not jump the gun.

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