We invented them, now we gotta live with them

Not much to say on the Virginia Tech shootings. It’s nasty.

My colleague asked why they had to emphasise that the shooter was Asian.

“Ban all brown and yellow people from buying guns and the problem is solved,” I said.

Haha.

It was, once again, heavily discussed on the radio and televion (BBC, I’m old-fashioned). I recall seeing an American journalist being interviewed and saying more gun controls should be put into place. A gun rights advocate rightly (heh) pointed out that criminals aren’t going to respect firearms legislation, no matter how much there is. He went on to say more about the RIGHT to bear arms (where was that cartoon of a person with bear arms??!!) — what he did not mention was that with rights come responsibilities.

Basically, there’s no point trying to eliminate guns from normal life (especially in the US). They’re here. Get used to it. Be responsible about gun ownership and accidental shootings will be minimised. There isn’t a damn thing you can do about deliberate shootings.

Scottish children have crappy teeth

I’ve been reading and listening to the story on the state of Scots’ teeth. On the radio this morning, they had the Lib Dem and SNP spokespersons for… health, I think it was, on the air to talk about their parties’ plans for the dental system, reportedly crap when it comes to the NHS (not enough dentists in the NHS system, it appears).

And another nail in what wasn’t going to be the coffin of my vote for the Lib Dems. They do not support the fluoridation of the water supply, citing something about chemicalising the natural water supply. That concern is fine with me, but surely sometimes public health takes precedence. I think my sister and I are classic examples of the good that can come of water fluoridation, regular milk intake, and dental education in schools.

My biological parents have less than pearly-whites. They have fillings and the condition of their teeth isn’t great (no idea about my father, he could’ve lost all his teeth by now). My sister and I, having brushed our teeth and drunk fluoridated water, do not have a single cavity, let alone any fillings. Every time I visit my (privately paid for) dentist in Singapore she remarks that once again, there is no tooth decay.

In 2004, the Scottish Executive planned to add fluoride to the water supply but this was abandoned following huge opposition from the public.

This makes me think the public is kinda dumb. Maybe they deserve the SNP in government. They’re always going to blame someone else for their problems anyway.

The SNP, I think it might have been, or a text commenter to the radio programme, said fluoridating the water supply wouldn’t work as children don’t drink tap water anyway.

And whose fault is that? Are parents now EXEMPT from responsibility for teaching their children what they should and shouldn’t consume? I was taught at a very early age that even if I wasn’t too keen on the taste of milk, milk builds strong teeth and bones, so by God I was going to drink two mugs a day.

We aren’t hiding anything

How most Singaporeans feel, I imagine: “You’ve got your money, but must you also have the last word as well. Take your fucking money and go fucking choke on it. Just shut the fuck up and get out of my face.” — Chronicles of The Hand, STFU

Via mrbrown.

Neil was telling me about something he saw about a female MP going on some jaunt to France to learn to play the piano, and given the celebrity treatment on teevee. Selfless public servant, that. This was in response to a remark I made months ago, something to the tune of countries going down the shitter when politicians can be so open about how they are personally and financially benefitting from office.

If Scotland was mine to govern I would…

Neil is saying that I won’t get to vote at the parliamentary elections, but will at the local level (assuming my application to get on the register is all sorted). Which doesn’t matter to me.

I’m reading Brian Taylor’s election bloog on the BBC. The latest post is on the council tax and what the SNP and Liberal Democrats want as a replacement, a local income tax (or LIT: this is the one issue that gives me pause when it comes to supporting the Lib Dems — especially since they think scrapping council tax but keeping council tax benefit is a good idea). Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with that permalink. It’s the post titled Taxing issues.

I’m thinking it’s got to be possible to determine a council tax rate based on weighting a combination of property value and an individual’s total income, because using just one variable is unfair.

(I would also then be very interested in reading councils’ accounting of the distribution of all that council tax. I don’t mind the idea of council tax as long as it is spent on maintaining the local area.)

Now there’s controversy over Council Tax Benefits. Would they be scrapped in Scotland under LIT – just as attendance allowance vanished when free personal care was brought in?

No, say the proponents, the SNP and the LibDems. Whitehall wouldn’t be so wicked or politically inept as to punish Scotland for a devolved decision.

Further, Council Tax benefit is worth some £381m annually in Scotland, paid to defray the imposition upon individuals.

The advocates of LIT want the Treasury to continue to pay this sum – but directly to the executive.

What? What would the executive be doing with this benefit from Whitehall? If the benefit is meant to, er, benefit the populace, why would a fairer and more equitable system still require extra money from London? Why is withdrawing council tax benefit branded a punishment, do they mean they see a need to be financially rewarded (not to say they would use it to line their own pockets, of course)? If Scotland’s electorate went with the independence-minded SNP, shouldn’t they be jolly well forgetting about these sorts of things?!

The claims don’t seem to add up to much. I certainly don’t believe in corrupt governments not serving their electorate and enriching themselves off the state, and I definitely have a problem with election promises involving spending without corresponding revenue generation.

Which has led me to think, if the political parties were given the theoretical exercise of starting with a blank policy and legislative slate — given the limits of the devolved parliament — what would they do? What would be their aims and targets? Once they’ve got their squeaky new policy proposals, they should then see where Scotland is now and decide how to work towards their targets. I don’t know if they do that now, since I imagine loads of them have some sort of vested interest in the current system.

PS. the Lib Dems want to introduce 24-hour licencing (and flags!) to Edinburgh. I’m not sure heavy drinking is going to necessarily lead to better science (hehe).

Evanomics on the metric system

I know that my mental arithmetic has got a little better since moving to a country that still uses miles and feet to measure distance: “As it happens, I think the real reason we don’t change is not that we dislike the fact the French invented it, nor that we have a tendency to behave like the French in facing globalisation. It is that in any given year, heaving ourselves through the transition to metrication is a difficult process.” — Evan Davis, The metric system

This weekend I…

  • consumed my after-dinner snack of ribs and wings at Frankie & Benny’s
  • woke up to a gloriously warm and sunny Saturday
  • tried my hand at Singaporean-style half-boiled egg (failed, but it still tasted good)
  • went for a jog, but the traffic fumes gave me minor asthma problems
  • sat out in the back garden and crocheted while Neil mowed the lawn
  • had lunch and watched loads of Grand Designs (one of my new favourite programmes) while computering
  • had a supermarket-bought pizza for dinner (and profiteroles for dessert)
  • went to Brian and Carene’s for a drink
  • took a day trip with Brian and Carene to Blackness Castle (disappointed), checked out House of the Binns (the house was closed but the grounds were open), and hung out in South Queensferry for a bit (middle-aged Hog heaven) — photos will be uploaded when my Flickr uploader stops acting up (Update: pictures!)
  • watched Grey’s Anatomy

Sorry, my sperm have a boner

Researchers have discovered a way of turning bone marrow tissue into sperm cells. The title of the article is Bone stem cells turned into primitive sperm cells.

If these precursor cells can be coaxed into becoming fully functioning sperm cells, the technique could allow infertile men to father their own children, and even allow women to produce their own sperm.

We’re going to evolve into really big worms.

Nayernia hopes that one day it might be possible to inject the sperm stem cells directly into the testes of human patients, so that these men can conceive naturally as opposed to using IVF.

Needles near your bollocks! Bet that makes the boys cringe.