Smoke and fire

I have a new fire pit. The weather hasn’t been good enough to use it yet but it’ll happen. I already have a wood burning stove in the living room, a chimenea and incinerator bin in the garden and plenty of space (and landlord’s permission) for all the bonfires I could ever want.

My recycle bin contains cans and plastic. I don’t throw away cardboard any more. The trees here shed branches at a rate to delight any firebug and there are a lot of trees. Pine cones in abundance – they burn very nicely too. I don’t burn plastic because it gives off an acrid black smoke and tends to leave horrible lumps in the bottom of your fire device.

Paper for starting the fire is no problem. Junk mail has a use here.

These things save me from my natural firebug tendencies. Rather, they save the rest of the world from me.

This does not make me at all unusual. Humans have been lighting fires since humans first learned to bang rocks together. Fire and smoke have accompanied our species throughout our history.

So, why aren’t we all dead from lung cancer?

Well, New Scientist, lefty propaganda hack-rag though it currently is, has reported that humans have a gene that made us more smoke resistant than the other kinds of humans – so they couldn’t tolerate living in a cave with a fire. (thanks to @mihotep who retweeted the link on Twitter).

We still have that gene. It’s not a superpower, we can still be overcome and die of smoke inhalation when it’s intense but even in visible smoke, we can tolerate it. I can’t, offhand, think of another species that can tolerate smoke as long as we can.

Naturally, this won’t include tobacco smoke because that is magically different from all other kinds of burning plant material. That’s why people were routinely dragged unconscious from pubs in the old days and resuscitated outside, and why every workplace that allowed smoking always kept a respirator and oxygen bottle handy.

What? That didn’t happen? Well, the antismokers will no doubt soon tell you it did.

All those diseases on the rise, all blamed on smoking that’s now in decline, are more likely to be caused by fire – actually, the lack of it. There are other factors, the almost-sterile cleanliness of many modern homes, the sprays and strange chemicals people use to make them smell like a countryside they’re afraid to actually visit because the ground is made of dirt.

I suppose I can be a bit smug here. I actually live in the countryside so all I need do to get the countryside smell in the house is open the windows. The windows are all open whenever weather allows. That gets the air in the house changed. It’s an old house and there are plenty of draughts but all but three of the fireplaces are sealed and the windows and doors are new, double glazed ones. Frequent air-changes are important.

It’s not that long ago that everyone had a fireplace with a blazing fire in it. The local pub still does – even though they aren’t allowed to allow smoking in there. They do have a covered and heated smoking area at the back though.

I know, we’ve been through this before but there’s a whole generation who might never have seen a fireplace, certainly not one in actual use. These days it’s central heating, underfloor heating, invisible heating in hermetically sealed boxes. It’s nice, I can’t deny that. It means you can set the heating to come on half an hour before you get out of bed in the mornings. Nobody has to freeze while they get the fire started up. I have central heating and I do use it but in winter it’s still nice to get the wood burner fired up. Especially as the landlord is gutting and rebuilding another house he owns nearby so I have an almost endless supply of free wood.

I’ll repeat, then, for the benefit of any smoke-terrified youngsters who might happen by, why the coal/log fire was so damn good.

Apart from being a plaything, and something to stare pensively into, the fire did a really important thing. It sucked the air up the chimney really fast.

The room didn’t run out of air. New air came in through every available gap, any open doors or windows so the air in the room didn’t deplete. As a bonus, if people were smoking in there, that smoke got sucked up the chimney too.

Along with the smoke, up the chimney was the fate of anything breathed, sneezed or coughed out of anyone else in the room. It was the fate of a lot of dust and airborne bacteria and viruses and fungal spores. Now, with no chimneys and eco-sealed draught-free homes, all that crap stays in the atmosphere to be breathed in over and over again.

People don’t even open their windows now. Certainly not often enough. Condensation leads to black mould growing and that stuff will cause a lot more harm than having a few smokers in the room.

Six chimney breasts have been sealed over in this house. If I owned it I’d reopen them all. It would mean having to uncap the chimneys and have them swept and inspected to make sure they’re still okay to use and it certainly wouldn’t be cheap. Well, not the kitchen fireplace. That now has the cooker in front of it and the old chimney contains the vent for the gas hob. Also, the gas pipe comes in through there because it’s the thinnest part of the wall. It’s only about a foot thick at the back of the fireplaces.

Living out here, surrounded by woodland, with plenty of fallen branches and dead trees and a landlord with loads of old wood he’s trying to get rid of, I could heat the whole place for the cost of a box of matches. What do you do if the power goes off and your heating doesn’t work? If it happens here I light up the wood burning stove. I can even boil water on it and have a cup of tea. How about you?

I’d also have continuous airflow through the house. That would be far healthier than sealing the place and breathing the same air over and over.

Best of all, I could sit by the fire smoking my pipe again. A pipe in a sealed room with no chimney draught soon causes something akin to smog. With an active fireplace it all just disappears.

There’s one thing I’d still need the central heating for. If the place is empty in winter, an hour of heating morning and night will keep it warm enough so the pipes don’t freeze. If there’s a power cut for a few hours, it just means the timer will be a few hours out. No biggie.

All those sicknesses on the rise, now blamed on smoking, were never anything to do with smoking. They were caused by the eco-freaks’ insistence on letting no heat escape the house and insisting we can’t burn stuff because ‘the environment, man’.

The environment has coped with humans burning stuff for millennia. Sometimes the environment will decide to clear a forest with fire and produce more smoke and flame than a generation of humans. The environment doesn’t die when that happens. In fact, forests need to burn down once in a while. Otherwise they’d be full of old dead trees shading the new growth from light. A clearout is Nature’s gardening tool.

Even in the 1900s when we had factories and steam engines belching smoke everywhere and smog in the cities, the environment didn’t die. It didn’t even change very much. We really didn’t have that much effect. There was no global warming then, so pretending it’s happening now that we have reduced our emissions so much is really pretty silly.

It’s like blaming the rise in asthma on smoking: global warming is worse now that our emissions are less.

The sealed homes,. the closed fireplaces, the lack of airflow, breathing the same air over and over – there is your asthma link. Most of the other infections too. Those in charge dare not say it, since they forced you to live in what amounts to a Tupperware fridge container.

I say it and I’ll keep on saying it. Smoke and fire are part of human existence and always have been. We have been playing with fire for so long now we are dependent on it – take it away and we become sick and feeble.

The Neanderthals couldn’t use fire indoors. They couldn’t tolerate smoke. Ask them how that worked out.

Oh. You can’t.

The Pen is mightier than the Sword

…but it seems Le Pen is not as mighty as a Macaroon.

France has a pro-EU, Brussels puppet as its leader. Well, it’s what they voted for. I don’t know how much real power the French President has – don’t his pronouncements have to go through Parliament? I’ve no idea, perhaps one of the France-occupying readers can tell us. Not our problem, since the UK is now on a no-going-back route out of the EU. We’ve even been deleted from their propaganda leaflets.

At least there aren’t likely to be riots, at least not by the French. It seems clear in modern politics that one side always accepts losing a vote while the other side scream about voting being non-democratic because they didn’t get what they wanted. Then they have protests to overturn the vote in the name of democracy. These are usually violent.

It’s always the same sides too.

It’s rather like the Church of Climatology’s thought process. It gets a little warmer, that’s global warming. It gets unusually cold, ‘weather is not climate’. In the same way, Socialism only recognises democracy if they win the vote.

This kind of doublethink is endemic now.

I bought New Scientist this week. First time for ages. There is a feature article about air pollution. Apparently, at least in the West, it’s not so bad. China, India, Bangladesh… well they are effectively going through their industrial revolution phase and that’s always messy. The cities in those countries get smog like London used to get. Pretty pointless pushing to ban smoking there – but they do anyway.

The article carries a chart showing causes of death. Predictably, smoking is near the top. What’s interesting is that nowadays, nobody just dies any more. Everyone dies of something that could have been prevented if only the NHS could force them to live pure lives. It seems based on the premise that if we remove all risks from life, nobody will ever die again. Except… of boredom.

While the article shows a rapid fall in air pollution in the UK, the editorial laments the UK government’s failure to tackle air pollution. It’s headed with a picture of a smoggy street which is quite clearly not in the UK. The cars are on the wrong side of the road and the no-parking lines are red, not yellow.  They didn’t even bother to spend five minutes with Photoshop to make it half-convincing. What really hurts is that PhD level scientists will read that crap and not question it.

The editorial calls for some kind of legally-enforced action from the government while the article claims all major atmospheric pollutants are in decline in the UK’s air.

I don’t mean the smoke from half a gram of burning leaves. I mean properly toxic stuff. The UK’s air is getting cleaner. Remember that when the new anti-motorist regulations come into force so that the Green Men can breathe pure air in the cities. I’m glad I don’t live in one.

We now have the latest big push from antismoking to classify vaping as smoking. It’s clearly not smoking. For one thing there’s no smoke. No tobacco either. It’s getting to where rechargeable batteries and USB connectors are likely to be classified as tobacco products – and politicians all over the world can’t seem to understand why they are now openly ridiculed. If there is one thing more likely to see you more universally despised than being a smoker, it’s becoming a politician.

The antismokers say they want us to stop smoking but only using their approved methods. You know, the ones they get paid to push. Not some independent method that’s been shown to work for an awful lot of people, oh no, can’t have that.

“Nicotine is ‘addictive and deadly’. To help you escape its clutches we’ll sell you patches and gum loaded with… nicotine.”

What they really want is to get you ‘addicted’ to their own nicotine delivery method, so they can cash in.

Warnings on cigarettes, warnings about the alleged addictiveness of nicotine on vaping gear… seen any warnings on the patches and gum? Of course not. Seen any public shouting about people under 18 getting hold of patches and gum? Neither have I.

Approved nicotine is magically safe to prescribe. Non-approved nicotine is deadly and will kill you along with everyone in a 100-metre radius. Every time a smoker lights up in public we are like slow motion suicide bombers. That is what modern medicine, and our Governments, actually believe.

Really. They genuinely believe it. In the old days, schools used to teach chemistry and anyone from those days will have no trouble finding the chemical structure of nicotine. It’s a simple molecule. The nicotine in patches is the same as the nicotine in tobacco. The same as the nicotine in vape steam.

I’m still amazed no doctor has been charged with attempted murder for prescribing nicotine patches after telling us it’s deadly and addictive. Why hasn’t that happened? It’s wide open, that goal.

You know, some vapers don’t even have nicotine in their steam. Some have found that it’s the action of smoking they like. The taste, blowing smoke rings, all that stuff. The nicotine isn’t really necessary. I’ve tried it in my own Electrofags. Nicotine isn’t the biggest part of smoking, it’s the taste and the action that matters. That’s why Electrofag has worked for so many people. Not for me, not yet. The strange flavours are a lot of fun but I haven’t found a tobacco flavour that tastes just right. Maybe one day.

It must be difficult to keep a war on smokers and a war on motorists going at the same time. A war on all forms of transport, in fact, other than electric Noddy cars and trains made by Hornby. They have to ramp up the same pretend risks for both wars without anyone questioning how you can die twice. They seem to be managing this quite well because the general public have failed to notice.

There have been several Dalek and other alien invasions of Earth. Remember those? Nobody does, and in subsequent episodes the Doctor puts it down to the human ability to blot out anything that doesn’t fit their worldview.

He’s right. Humanity is easily controlled. Has been easily controlled for a very long time. It’s a herd. The oft-used sheep analogy is not misplaced. Those of us who won’t run with the herd are treated as anomalies and freaks – and perhaps we are. We like it that way.

Some of us will always refuse to obey. Some of us will snarl back at the sheepdogs. Some of us will remember and write it down for the future’s annoying buggers to know they are not alone.

The pen is, still, mightier than the sword.

Just watch out for macaroons…

Dominoes

No, it’s not about pizza.

Today I was blocked again on Twitter. It’s what the indoctrinated and the one-track-minded would love to do in real life: just silence any alternative viewpoint. Except… it doesn’t silence anyone. It just stops the blocker’s involvement in the conversation.

So I guess the one who blocked me won’t see this. Should I start to care, I’ll be sure to post an update. I’ve given up on these people. They cannot bear to consider any other view and I long ago tired of talking to walls.

His argument was that cattle produce methane, methane causes global warming, so if people eat less beef there’ll be less cattle and thereby save the planet.

I pointed out that if he wants less cattle then he must also restrict all milk products. I mentioned falling dominoes. Twitter’s limitations did not allow me to elaborate the difference between beef and dairy herds and I doubt he’d be interested anyway. Nor would he be interested in hearing about all the other ruminant species out there. I’m blocked now but well, I’m not involved in education any more. The wilfully ignorant are not my problem. He’ll see it one day, when his personal domino falls, but I’m not here to save him. I’m here to save me, and anyone else who will listen.

My background is in intestinal microbiology. My PhD was on the metabolism in the gut of ruminant animals. So yes, I know what I’m talking about here.

I saw the bandwagon of methane reduction when it started. I worked in labs that jumped on that bandwagon. Some actually believed it would make a difference but most saw a good way to keep the department funded. Sadly, that part of science is necessary: experiments don’t pay for themselves. So, many labs run high-profile projects for funding and do the interesting stuff behind the scenes. You only get to hear about the interesting stuff when it finally does something impressive.

The interesting stuff won’t get any funding as speculation, it has to prove itself first. It does that on the back of bandwagon grants.

Methane is trivial as a greenhouse gas. It was long ago shown that water vapour is the major greenhouse effector but you can’t take exhalations and you can’t tax the sun on the ocean. Therefore, carbon dioxide and methane, extraordinarily tiny components of the air, have to be continuously blamed. There’s no money in steam.

If there was that much methane in the air then every time I lit a cigarette, the flare would be visible in Edinburgh. Methane isn’t inert, there are soil bacteria that use if for growth so it does get used up. It isn’t the final end product, it’s part of a cycle. I worked on methane oxidising bacteria as one of those Interesting Things at the back of another project. Didn’t get too far but I did get a paper out of it.

You cannot isolate one single reaction and claim you have the answer to the global ecosystem. It’s a very complex ecosystem. Change one part of it and all the rest will change to adapt to it. Like rabbits or cane toads in Australia – meddle with an ecosystem and all hell can break loose. One change is like toppling that first domino. It’s hard to stop the chain reaction once it starts.

The Green God’s religion does not recognise dominoes. To them, every scientific result is to be taken in isolation and then applied to the entire planet as Gospel. Unquestionable. ‘The science is settled’. Yeah, well, if it’s unquestionable then it’s not science. It’s a cult. They can’t grasp that.

The also can’t grasp that cows are not the only source of methane – in fact they aren’t even the major source. Mud flats, peat bogs, any swamp anywhere is pumping out methane all the time (I spent three years working on bacteria in estuarine mud flats too). And we won’t even start on what happens when a subsea methane clathrate collapses. The ice worms that live in them are cute though.

Cows don’t produce methane. No mammal does, not directly. Bacteria in their guts produce methane and those bacteria are not specific to the gut. They live in swampy ground and anywhere it’s wet and there’s no or very little oxygen. Including deep water. Cows are a small part of the whole ecosystem and yet they are to be wiped out to save the planet? Total extinction will have no measurable effect on methane production at all.

That’s not why they are being wiped out. They are to be removed so we don’t eat meat. There’s a reason for that.

I remember when butter was suddenly deemed a Terrible Thing. Spread butter on your toast and a heart attack was only hours away. It’s been shown to be bollocks now but it persisted for decades. It coincided with the rise of margarine, then the pretend-butter spreads I refer to as plasticine. Butter, it turns out, is healthier than the synthetics but it took a long time to get the truth past the censors.

Doesn’t matter if the cows are to be eradicated. All we’ll have left are the synthetics. Synthetic milk already exists. It’s horrible but it exists.

Sugar is suddenly evil. Well not really suddenly, it’s been sneered at for a long time. That started with the introduction of artificial sweeteners and has become harsher and more desperate recently as people are rejecting the synthetics in favour of actual sugar.

Today’s new product is insect protein. A whole industry is trying to get off the ground. Faced with the choice, would you pick the burger made from beef or the one made from cockroaches? Yeah, it’s not a hard choice.

So it has to be made a hard choice. Push up the price of meat with ‘greenhouse tax’ and ‘fat tax’ and boost the guilt trips and soon the roachburger is all you can afford. The drones fall for it every time.

I have seen Twitter drones insist that Electrofag is designed by the tobacco companies to keep us smoking. I don’t engage in conversation with that level of stupid, it’s so concentrated it might be contagious. There’s no point.

Electrofag is the biggest threat the tobacco companies have ever faced.  I have several and I like them – although I still like the real ones too. Many have switched away from the real ones to Electrofag, and many new ‘smokers’ became new vapers instead. Isn’t that what those who hate tobacco companies wanted? A big dent in their profits?

It’s not what those who live on other people’s earnings want. Tobacco taxes account for an enormous amount of revenue and Electrofag is denting that too. This should give anti-tobacco governments a problem. Their drones will want to cheer on the demise of tobacco but those at the top can’t allow it to happen. What happens to their funding, their very reason for existence, if we all switch to vaping?

Fortunately the drone mind is easy to manipulate. Just tell them it’s another kind of tobacco, tobacco companies sell it, and all vapers turn into smokers. Those are all total lies, none of them ever happened, but the drones need no evidence. They will believe what they are told and block anyone who tries to tell them anything different.

Twitter is perfect for drone control. They’ll block any reasonable voice and end up talking amongst themselves, just reinforcing the indoctrination they’ve been exposed to until the Cult of the Green God is ready to launch its own jihad on we filthy heretics.

It’s not new. Many cults have used the same techniques to produce blindly-believing followers. This one pretends to use science. Its pronouncements come from academics.

I’ve met an awful lot of academics. Some are at genius level, most are merely clever but some make you wonder how they got in there. I can think of two PhD’s I’ve met who made me wonder if the qualification was really worth anything at all.

Yes, there are idiot academics. They make up for their uselessness by fast-talking and sounding convincing. The cunning ones build a following and the really devious get the press on side. It’s hard to sack someone when the press has built them up to hero status.

Personally I avoid any contact with the press. I talked to one once, was totally misrepresented and had phone calls from genuine scientists wondering what the hell I was up to. Now, I have no comment for any reporter anywhere. Read the journal papers, wait for the data to be published. I’m not talking until that’s done. At the moment I work as a consultant for commercial companies so can’t say much of anything anyway.

I’ve never blocked anyone on Twitter and never been blocked for abusive language. I’ve been blocked twice for agreeing with people, once for sympathising, and a few times for trying to tell them the truth. They don’t want the truth, they want their beliefs.

Let them have their beliefs. I work in science. Everything I do can be questioned and sometimes, those questions reveal to me something I’ve missed. I do not silence dissent. I encourage it. It’s a source of new information. I have no time to play with those who believe ‘the science is settled’.

That’s a religion. I do not have time for religion.

The Pan Generation

It was a fast transition to the children who never grow up.

In the 80’s we had winters where it snowed so much I couldn’t find my car. It was just one of the white mounds in the street. Yet traffic kept moving, transport was barely affected. We never heard about ‘the wrong kind of leaves on the line’ or anything like that. Everyone just carried on.

Incidentally, I once asked a railway guard about the leaves thing. Turns out some leaves are more oily than others and can make the wheels slip. That part has never changed. The only new part is that it’s now an excuse. In the ‘old days’ (30-odd years ago) they just got on with it.

I saw the news the other day. It’s rare to see the news, it means turning on the TV and I don’t do that very often. There was Snowpocalypse! There was enough snow to fill a bag of flour and deep enough to almost reach your toenails. My shabby Fiesta would have laughed at that much snow as would every other car on the road that isn’t a Matchbox toy.

We were regaled with images of the M74 into Glasgow that morning with stationary traffic in one direction. We were told this was because of snow.

I have had to pass the M74 a few times this year and it’s going through massive roadworks. It’s a standstill every morning. A light dusting of snow will not affect it at all, heck, a real proper blizzard wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. It’s slow going and satnav won’t help because it’s all changing.

You have to be scared of snow. It’s not supposed to happen. Globule Warming says there has been no snow for twenty years so you can’t be expected to cope with the world turning slightly white. Noo! You’re all going to die! The rain has frozen and it’s Snowpocalypse!

In reality it’s the mildest winter we’ve had for ages. Just a few years back, winter started in October and Scotland was frozen until May. That was a real bastard of a winter. This one is a doddle. If this is Gabble Wanking, let’s have more. We won’t though. The shitty winters will come back. They always do.

Oh but now, just a few days after the Ice Age Cometh, we are told Scotland will be hotter than Barcelona. It’s winter in Spain too so we’re going to have a degree C more than another country that’s in the middle of winter for a day… Well I have a rug with a bullfighter on it and that could show up on Twitter with a plate of paella and ‘nyaah!’ if I can be bothered.

I’m not religious but Dear God, can’t you smack some intelligence into the things you made? You say you made them in your image and they make you look like a fucking retard. Aren’t you cringing in embarrassment right now?

I mean look at this one – Tam Fry wants to pay toddlers to eat as directed.

Really? Toddlers have the ability to think ahead and understand bank accounts and compound interest? Toddlers?

Look at any responses to any story about pensions and they are full of ‘why should I pay to keep old fogeys alive?’

Because, dickhead, when you’re an old fogey the kids you hate now will be paying your pension. That’s how the screwed up system works. Want to change it? Go ahead, it means no state pension for you but hey, go for it. I’m buggered anyway, I’ll have to live to 72 to get a penny and most of you will be in the same post office queue as me by then.

So with 20+ year olds having no concept of the future, Tam Fry expects toddlers to understand economics and saving and the banking system. Actually no, that’s not what he expects.

He expects you to believe that they will.

Because in his mind, like the minds of all the sociopathic Righteous who tell governments what to do now, we are just children. We are the lower orders and we need to be instructed in how our betters expect us to live. Many people actually fall for this.

We now drink our coffee from baby trainer cups. We drink approved soft drinks and water from baby bottles. We wear romper suits renamed as onesies. We eat and dress as directed, we stay off the booze in January and we don’t smoke.

Oh, and you all ostracise me because I break every single one of those rules and steadfastly refuse to die or even get any disease at all. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Scared of snow and terrified of global warming.

Don’t take the car, travel by bus, fear the diesel fumes. Bus diesel is not the same as car diesel, like patch nicotine is not the same as smoke nicotine, even though it is. Yeah, believe the shite, you fucking morons.

Decry smoking but fear the steam that might replace it. Calm down, boil a kettle, don’t breathe the steam, and have a cup of tea but no sugar in case it gives you cancer and no milk in case it makes you fat. No tea either. because of something about to be made up…

Live for the children but looking at them or thinking of them is illegal.

Doublethink is not a fantasy. It’s already here.

In God’s image? Really?

God must be Peter Pan.

Or he’s just having a laugh.

Raw meat

Recovering from the cold. CStM is taking longer but then I’m used to recovering from damage, due to many years of frequent practice. Still finding it hard to concentrate though, which is delaying book production but not for much longer.

Tomorrow I collect my car and Thursday the long trek to Scotland begins. This time, we’ll stop halfway or thereabouts because we’re both still groggy from infection and doing the trip in one go doesn’t appeal.

Anyhow, none of this is relevant to the title.

Who remembers the arrival of Carrefour supermarkets? Before they ventured into Wales, shopping meant visiting the butcher, the grocer, the fishmonger and so on. Suddenly it was all there under one roof, in a vast warehouse sized shop.

Lately, the supermarkets have taken to setting up bakery areas, fishmonger, butcher, delicatessen etc in-store. Less like a food warehouse and more like a one-roof indoor market. One crucial aspect remains the same though. It all goes into one trolley.

In those far off days, you’d buy meat in the butcher’s shop and it would be handed to you all wrapped and ready to go in your bag. The butcher would cut the meat, or slice the bacon, while you watched. No mass production in that shop.

Now it’s all pre-wrapped in shrink wrap (sometimes double shrink wrapped and damn near impossible to get into) and should be perfectly safe but… it’s made in a packaging plant. There is no possible way to absolutely guarantee that the outer wrapping is free of meat-origin bacteria. There won’t be many, but bacterial contamination can do something that chemical contamination can’t do. It can grow.

They won’t grow very much on a plastic wrapper in a fridge, of course – but if they are in a trolley and get on to other food, well…

Even in recent years, till operators in supermarkets would put your raw meat into a small plastic bag before you put it in your carrier bags. The carrier bags themselves were single use so internal contamination of the bag didn’t matter. Now they have to charge you for the small bags and for the carriers too. So you don’t automatically get either, and most of us re-use carrier bags until they fall to bits.

Add in the modern insistence on microwaving everything or cooking until it’s just warm and not properly incinerated and it’s no surprise that food poisoning is on the rise.

When microwaves first appeared, we microbiologists investigated their potential as rapid sterilisation machines. They were crap at sterilisation, so we still use high pressure steam in autoclaves. Bottom line: microwaving cannot guarantee food is completely bacteria–free although as long as it goes above 80degC in the middle, there should be nothing dangerous left.

Now the Food Standards Agency is calling for free plastic bags for raw meat, in direct defiance of the Green insistence that we have to pay for those bags.

I think there could be a small war brewing. Time to get the popcorn ready…

The University of Declaring the Obvious

I’m working on a page for the publishing venture. When it’s up I’ll let everyone know.

Two different flashes of the blindingly obvious today. First, one tipped by Zaph Camden on Twitter.

It’s something that has come up many times here and elsewhere, and covered in detail in the past by Frank Davis. Ventilating modern houses has to be done actively now, whereas in the past it pretty much took care of itself.

Before double glazing, we all had at least one draughty window. Every winter as a child I would play with the frost on the inside of the windows in the morning. Coal fires weren’t automatic. Someone had to get up, build the fire and light it. Until then, the house was pretty damn cold. We had thick blankets and thick pullovers. We survived, thought nothing of it because that was just the way life was. Coal fires don’t light themselves.

The coal fire was central to the ventilation of the house. Modern minds will find that hard to grasp. How can a stinky smoky fire be good for ventilation?

The fire caused a strong updraft through the chimney. Unless you had a blocked or long unswept chimney, there was no smoke from the fire coming into the room. You couldn’t smell the coal burning unless you were a curious kid who got close enough to burn plastic toy soldiers on the coal.

Hey, they might have been witches. You can’t be too careful.

So, the fire is heating air which rushes up the chimney, taking the smoke with it. It’s a lot of air moving very fast and it’s all air that’s leaving the house.

Therefore new air is entering the house. All the time. Under doors, through poor window seals – actually we had sash windows which never had seals. Just wood against wood. You really could feel the draft coming in with your hand. Every time someone opened a door or window, new air rushed in. The air in the house was entirely changed several times a day.

You didn’t need to worry about ventilating your house. Leaky window and door seals and a coal fire took care of that really effectively. It just wasn’t an issue.

Now, double glazing, effective seals, central heating… the air in the house doesn’t change unless you actively do something about it.

Don’t imagine I’m some nostalgia freak who wants to go back to the old days of shivering in winter. The coal fire was lovely but it only heated the side of you that was facing the fire. It was common to be toasty warm in front while your back felt like ice.

Double glazing and central heating are wonderful inventions. You can set the heating to come on 15 minutes before you wake up so the house is warm already. Double glazing has never, to my knowledge, had frost on the inside.

No, I do not want to go back to frost inside the windows and shivering until the coal fire heats up the place. Yet ventilation is still important. More so now, because in the past you didn’t have to do it.

I’m in an old building (it used to be a railway hotel, built in 1899 and I have the active railway and the remains of the station visible from my windows). It was retrofitted with double glazing and electric central heating which I try to use as little as possible because it’s horribly expensive.

It was unfortunately fitted with extra windows built into the chimney breast. The violent storm in January revealed that the chimney had not been properly capped. I thought the window was leaking severely but it turned out it was coming in at the top and then down inside the walls. I didn’t get it as bad as the flats below because most of the water went past me. That’s a digression, it’s now been fixed and the final repainting was this week.

The thing is, it was designed for the coal fire and leaky seals world of 1899. Not for the double glazing and central heating world of today. The walls are granite and my windowsills are 16.5 inches (42 cm) wide. It needs to be ventilated and it was designed to ventilate itself. That isn’t happening now.

I have to actively change the air in the house or I get into a battle with black mould. As a microbiologist I know I really don’t want to be breathing those spores so I have to win. It’s not easy. The place is very prone to condensation in cold weather and that’s all the black mould needs. Mould is happy at 20degC or below. It even grows on cheese in fridges. It doesn’t like hot temperatures but neither do I. 20degC is uncomfortable so I stay below it.

At the moment it isn’t easy. It’s snowed for the last few days and there is an icy cold wind, so window opening is limited. Still, it has to be done. The good part about the wind is that I only need the windows open for a little time to change the air. There have been summer days – even weeks – in past years where opening the windows did little good because the air outside wasn’t moving. I needed to use a fan.

Why are people causing the terrible rise in asthma and other respiratory diseases by not ventilating their homes? It was never smoking that caused these things. You could puff on a pipe indoors in the old days and the coal fire took the smoke away. Now you’d just fill the room with a blue haze.

It’s because we didn’t used to have to do it. The coal fire took care of it. The leaky window and door seals helped. None of those are around now. Even in this old place, there is double glazing and draughtproofing, and you need it because heating bills are soaring thanks to the Green idiocy.

It’s also because of those bills. People close window vents and block draughts because heating costs are so high. The Greens are killing you, and since they want population reduction, what did you expect? Did you think that by joining them or voting for them, it wouldn’t be you they wanted to die? Sucker! You’re the one who believes their crap and does what it takes to kill yourself.

New houses come with an instruction manual on how to ventilate it…

Margaret and John Trainer, from East Renfrewshire, were given an instruction manual for their new home which explained how to ventilate it, but they found the document hard going.

“It was too technical,” said Mrs Trainer.

“It was a huge folder and it just went into the drawer and that’s where it stayed. It was designed for someone who was mechanical. It wasn’t any use to me.”

…designed so that nobody will read it. Surprised? I’m not. It’s written by people who assume everyone does the same job as them, has had the same training and knows all the job-specific jargon. It means nothing to most people and it could have been just a graphic of someone opening a damn window.

People close the vents above windows to cut down on heating bills. Something the Government wants them to do, to save the planet. The planet will still be here when the last human dies. It’ll invent a new species to replace us. Perhaps next time it will make a species that doesn’t hate itself to death. We’ll never know. We’ll join the long list of failed species who have become extinct.

Just open the windows. Leave the window vents open. Nobody is asking you to learn rocket science. Just breathe.

 

Secondly, there is a report, specially commissioned and paid for by taxes, showing that BMI is a load of bollocks. Like nobody had worked it out before.

It’s not the weight/height issue at all. It never was. Two people can be the same height and weight and one could be a bodybuilder while the other could make a living as a Mr. Blobby impersonator. The ratio of waist to hips makes far more sense. My ratio is 1:1, as evidenced by the fact I can take off my trousers without undoing them. All I need do is release the belt. But don’t tell anyone, I don’t want people thinking I’m skinnier than Death. I’m not, I’m quite chunky but not bulgy.

Again, it was obvious to everyone except to the modern medics who base diagnoses on ‘computer says no’. The young ones are on strike so the health of the nation will no doubt take an upward spike tonight.

Smoking doesn’t cause every disease in existence. Neither does salt or sugar or burgers or bacon. Weight/height ratio takes no account of whether the weight is fat or muscle and ignores the distribution of either. People are not all the same. This is all anathema to modern medicine but the older medics might remember.

Air sealed into a box will go stale. Everyone used to know this. Nobody does now.

Why is humanity worried about a planet they can’t harm when they should be worrying about what they can harm to death with ignorance and indolence?

Themselves.

 

Morally superior ketchup (and other food-based crap)

I’m still staying away from that ridiculous charade of an election. I decided who to vote for ages ago, and none of them are even going to try make any difference to that.

Instead, here’s a couple of articles on food nonsense.

It seems that, just like antismokers and antidrinkers, those who turn their noses up at a nice big plate of bacon, egg and chips and opt for tofu fried in bat’s urine instead are smug and boastful about it. They claim it tastes better.

Real people can’t tell the difference, even when told which is organic and which is just ordinary food.

The researchers found that feelings of moral satisfaction were the most important factor for the initial purchases of ethical food. However once this taste-moral satisfaction link was established in consumers’ minds, the belief that the taste of ethical food was superior to conventional food took precedence and became the main motivator for continued purchases.

So the morally intolerable are willing to pay more for food that actually tastes the same. Okay. Let them. Let them ignore the part that says ‘the belief that it tastes better’ and let them think it actually does. Idiots.

The team analysed data from a 2005 survey across eight European countries which found a correlation between buying organic tomato sauce and feelings of moral satisfaction.

Just how shallow do you have to be to get a feeling of moral superiority from a bottle of ketchup? Just how empty a life do you need to have in order to feel smug and self-righteous because you paid more for a bottle of the same stuff as is on the next shelf down?

Why does anyone feel the need to feel morally superior anyway? What’s the point? I smoke, antismokers can be smug. I drink, antidrinkers can be smug. I eat meat, vegetables can be smug. How much effect does this have on me?

None at all. It is a tsunami of smugness that passes me by unnoticed. It achieves absolutely nothing whatsoever. If you look down your nose at me I’ll tell you I can see right up yours. I simply do not care if you think you’re better than me.

Especially if your opinion is based on ketchup.

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The organic food crowd are concerned that people are opting for non-GM food rather than going all the way to full organic. It seems people have this strange idea that non-modified food is healthier than modified food and they don’t need organic any more.

The organic sector has cultivated a culture of ethical awareness among consumers that conventional manufacturers are now cashing in on – and new product development is vital for the sector to retain its value, say experts.

This is called ‘mainstream healthification’ (sigh) in which manufacturers of real food are diverting customers from organics simply by stating their food wasn’t meddled with by Dr. Frankenstein. So the organics have to up their game now.

I grow a few things. Some years, my plums are a fine sight as they shudder in a cool breeze. Apples, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, strawberries, rhubarb and of course chillies. All grown with no sprays or fertliser apart from a pot of dried chicken shit. That’s organic and on a small-garden scale it’s easy.

On a commercial scale it’s not easy. I have lost a few things to slugs, mice and birds but since the birds planted the raspberries it’s only fair they should take a few. There’s plenty for both of us anyway. It’s not the same thing if you’re growing them to make a living out of them. Then, you need to get as many as possible before the wildlife tuck in.

Commercial growers have whole fields full of the same plants. A disease will spread easily in such a concentrated population. It’s not really surprising they use pesticides and other sprays to keep their livelihood alive.

Personally I don’t like the idea of food that’s been genetically meddled with. Puts me in mind of that scene from Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’ where there are huge vegetables and a farmer with a giant chicken on a lead. Organic food is a nice concept but it’s always going to be expensive on a commercial scale because it will have losses due to wildlife and disease.

In between is the food we had before. Seems it’s making a comeback.

Works for me.