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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lies, damn lies, and fiddled statistics.

“Science is not always a neutral, disinterested search for knowledge, although it may often seem that way to the outsider. Sometimes the story can be very different.”

This should be required reading for all those rabid anti smokers out there.

How times change.

Smoking and health have been the subject of argument since tobacco was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century. King James I was a pioneer antismoker. In 1604 he declared that smoking was "a custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse." But like many a politician since, he decided that taxing tobacco was a more sensible option than banning it.

By the end of the century general opinion had changed. The Royal College of Physicians of London promoted smoking for its benefits to health and advised which brands were best. Smoking was compulsory in schools. An Eton schoolboy later recalled that "he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoking". As recently as 1942 Price’s textbook of medicine recommended smoking to relieve asthma.

The times they were a changing (Apology to Bob Dylan).

Then we had the Doll and Hill study.

These strong opinions for and against smoking were not supported by much evidence either way until 1950 when Richard Doll and Bradford Hill showed that smokers seemed more likely to develop lung cancer.

But were their study results correct?

Sir Ronald Fisher, arguably the greatest statistician of the 20th century, had noticed a bizarre anomaly in their results. Doll and Hill had asked their subjects if they inhaled. Fisher showed that men who inhaled were significantly less likely to develop lung cancer than non-inhalers. As Fisher said, "even equality would be a fair knock-out for the theory that smoke in the lung causes cancer."

I’m not going to further plagiarise the document but suggest that smokers and anti smokers both have a read of the article. I think as an antismoker you may be disturbed, if not slightly guilty about your persecution of smokers. I leave you with this:

But the continuation of Hammond’s work, with its demonstrated faulty methodology, was used by the Australian authors to deduce that smoking causes premature death to the extent of 17,800 per year in Australia. Their conclusions should be compared with the results of a survey by the Australian Statistician in 1991 of 22,200 households, chosen at random. This showed "long term conditions", including cancer and heart disease, to be more common in non-smokers than smokers.

Hah.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Where there’s a will there’s an allotment.

My local railway station is about a mile and a quarter from any main habitation and is situated out in the open country. I always thought it a bit strange that all the country lanes in walking distance from the station had double yellow lines on both sides of the road. Go more than a mile and you’ll never see double yellows anywhere.

Anyhoo. The station has a large car park that charges the princely sum of £5.50 per day to catch an expensive train to London. If for instance you commute for 48 weeks of the year it’ll cost you the princely sum of £1,320 to park your motor.

However a local entrepreneur came up with a clever solution to make money and deny it to the owners of the station car park.

The solution was to buy a large field and get planning for allotments. Of course he charges the allotment holders a rent of £500 per year. Rip of, you say. Well, actually no. Because the crux of the matter is that each allotment holder has a dedicated parking space!

It means that if you’re a keen gardener you can save £820 per year.

Mind you, I find it quite strange to see cars leaving the allotments in the evening with the owners dressed in suits. Obviously very up market gardeners.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Friday, 15 November 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Phantom payments?

 

ghost

A sense of humour lives on.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Disaster Relief in the Philippines.

Watching the BBC news at six tonight I realised that the Beeb has no idea of the complexities involved, All they seemed to do was wail *Something must be done” & “Won’t someone think of the Cheeeldren”.

Before any relief can be given you need, above all, information of what is required, and where. It’s pointless transporting five tons of rice to a town, and then finding that they have a warehouse full of the stuff and what they really need is the water to cook it.

Then you need to find a way to get it there. We always see pics of military helicopters buzzing around and presume that that is the way to do it. Apart from the fact that the Philippines is unlikely to have a vast armada of serviceable helicopters, they usually can lift very little of use.

In the case of the Philippines the only realistic means is by road and sea. Of course the roads will need to be cleared to enable the trucks to drive down them.

So the armchair wailers at the BEEB should think before they pontificate.

And before anyone sneers and say what right does TFE to comment on these matters? My reply is. Seen it and done it.

A number of years ago I ran a team of 30 tasked with rebuilding essential services on Jamaica after it was hit by a hurricane. I had two tasks whilst I was there. Firstly to put the roof back on the Kingston General Hospital (I remember using my management skills on the Chief Executive at the beginning of that little project. It’s amazing how they suddenly let you know their priorities when you have them against their office wall pinned by a hand round their neck).

The second project was more rewarding. A polio rehabilitation centre for kids out in the hills. On this project we had to re roof it, restore power and water. clear debris and carry out a comprehensive clean up.

So I know a little about disaster relief.

Oh and just as an aside. I was interviewed by five TV and radio stations. Guess who got lost trying to find the rehab centre? Starts with a B.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Responsible citizen

 

Whilst strolling alongside the  River Medway this morning I noticed a Muslim extremist slip from the riverbank and fall into the water.

He was struggling to stay afloat because of all the explosives he was carrying. If he didn't get help he'd surely drown.

Being a responsible citizen, and abiding by the law of the land that requires you to help those in distress, I informed the Police, the Immigration Office and even the Fire Service.

It is now 4 p.m., he has drowned, and none of the authorities have yet responded. I'm starting to think I wasted three stamps.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A pittance of time

It’s that time of year that we honour the fallen. I’m posting this early just so those in times zones different to the UK can appreciate the sentiment.

Personally I feel it’s important to remember those that have fallen in the service of this country, and also those that have fallen to make the world a better place.

If we can’t be bothered to remember and salute them then we will surely lose our humanity.

About the writer of the song

The Taliban and other fundamental butchers are excluded from consideration. May they rot in hell.

Friday, 8 November 2013

I’m alive.

Sorry for not posting for a while but I caught a cold. May I add, no ordinary cold.

This cold (caught from a grandchild) has had me laid low for the last couple of weeks. One day I’d start to feel better, the next day I’d feel worse. It’s been a case of having one of those nagging headaches that makes you run screaming from a computer screen. It’ was also the case that just trying to get to bed caused me to almost collapse on the bed because my lungs refused to play ball. For some perverse reason they seemed to reject the food of life, Oxygen.

The only remedy that settled my fevered brow was not high strength anti- biotics , but Leggie’s tonic. Whisky.

I must say that after a couple of weeks of non blogging, it’s quite difficult to get back into the swing of it. Then again when you get to my age, everything takes time.