Archive for July, 2018

This tiny protein could solve climate change forever

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 | Science

Human-caused climate change, commonly called global warming, is perhaps the biggest threat facing our time. But some scientists believe they have a solution that could solve the problem forever. And the planet’s saviour could be one of the simplest building blocks of life.

It’s called a prion disease and it is fatal to humans in 100% of cases.

“When it comes down to it, we know what is causing climate change and we know how to stop it”, explained Professor Ben Roberts from the School of Climate Science at Castleford University. “We just need to kill all of the humans and the planet will be fine. And this protein could be the key.”

Members of the campaigning group Save Our Climate recently started a petition that has so far gathered 11,000 signatures, calling for the government to begin a mandatory introduction of the protein to the population.

At a press conference on Monday, former foreign secretary John Borison said he lamented the red tape currently imposed by the European Union that would prevent such actions, which technically count as genocide. “Once we’re free of those over-dressed health-and-safety-mad European twits, we’ll be free to introduce these proteins everywhere”, he told reporters.

Castore’s Facebook ad

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 | Business & Marketing

This advert popped up in my Facebook feed recently and I thought I would re-post it as it is an excellent example of an advert.

It’s great for two reasons. The first is that they pick a really specific pain point and promise to take that pain away. In this case, it’s literally a pain point: no more bleeding nipples.

If you’re a runner, which is their target audience, you will probably know how sore and painful your nipples get after a long run. And having to vaseline up. And forgetting to vaseline up and running along thinking “it’s just a matter of time until this gets unpleasant”. They promise to fix this problem.

They could have talked about loads of different things. The material is designed to keep you cool, to wick away sweat, dry quickly, etc. But they don’t get distracted by that. They keep it for separate adverts. They pick one specific point to get people hucked and then sell them on everything else later.

Second, it’s an excellent offer. Try it for 100 days and if you don’t like it, send it back. It takes all of the risk out of buying with them.

Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 | Sport

Allerthorpe is a village about ten miles outside of York. They are hosting a series of triathlon over the summer, including this one, the Allerthorpe Sprint.

The swim wasn’t great. Few venues have the luxury of the beautiful clear waters of the Blue Lagoon or the size of Waterloo Lake. In this case, the lake was small, requiring two laps for the 750-metre swim, murky and shallow: you could walk a large amount of the swim.

T1 wasn’t smooth, either. I got everything done and then realised that I hadn’t vaselined my toes, so I had to take my shoes and socks back off, do some toe care and then put everything back on.

Once on the bike, things started looking up, though. I was really pleased with my average speed of 28.6 kph that I set at the Evolve Quarter and at the start of the bike section here I thought to myself “if I keep training hard, I’ll hit 30 kph eventually”. As it happens, I did just that. Faster even, as I managed 31 kph.

T2 and the run were smooth, also. I was about 25 minutes in the run, which clocked in at a little over 5km, so I’m happy with that given the heat.

In the end, my time was:

1:30:17

My spreadsheet predicted I would be around 1:33:11, so I was pleased to be ahead of that. But it was disappointing that if I hadn’t made the mistake in T1 I would have gone sub-90.

I am happy enough with Allerthorpe as a venue, too. Which is good news because I am back racing there at the start of August and again at the start of September.

Leeds Anxiety Clinic opens

Monday, July 9th, 2018 | News

We’re pleased to announce that Leeds Anxiety Clinic has opened its doors. Here are my personal thoughts about it.

I’ve been working in mental health for around five years now, running the charity Anxiety Leeds, blogging over at Worfolk Anxiety and conducting research into mental health technology as part of my master’s degree. Getting involved with a company like this seems the next logical step.

The feedback we’re getting at the moment is that Leeds IAPT has a 9-month waiting list. Therapy takes time to work, so if you’re looking for help, realistically you’re looking at more than a year of your life before you can see any change. That’s too long.

And whether you go via the NHS, or you go via private therapy, you will usually get a generalist. Some organisations run “mental health” group sessions, for example. You might be a high functioning anxiety sufferer but you find yourself sat next to a schizophrenic. They’re both very different conditions that require different skills. Or your counsellor also does bereavement or addiction, and sidelines with anxiety. They don’t have the specialist skill set. It’s like taking your boat to Kwik Fit because “all vehicles are pretty much the same”.

We’re aiming to fix both of these problems by providing specialist care, with a range of options to suit different circumstances. Including some educational events that we’re planning to announce shortly.

All of this runs alongside my existing commitments to research and Anxiety Leeds, which will be unaffected by anything we’re doing here. Although, I very much hope that what we do at the charity will be informed by anything we learn at LAC, so that we can continue to improve the group.

Brompton announce first TT bike

Friday, July 6th, 2018 | Distractions

Brompton, the company famous for making folding bikes that you can take on the train with you, have this week announced they are releasing their first TT (time trial) bike with integrated folding aero bars.

“Now that TransPeninne Express have banned bikes, the demand for our foldable options has never been higher,” explained Managing Director Andrew Spin. “But what happens when you have a national time trial championship, and the only way to get there is by train? We think this bike is the answer.”

The new bike could also help commuters running late, allowing them to sacrifice the safety of themselves and pedestrians in order to shave a few seconds off the cycle leg of their journey.

NHS overwhelmed as millions hallucinate England winning a penalty shootout

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 | Distractions

NHS mental services have admitted they are “overwhelmed” after millions of people sought voluntary admission to psychiatric hospitals, claiming they vividly experienced England winning a penalty shootout.

“It was so real,” explained Michelle Herbert. “I felt like I was actually happening. Obviously, it didn’t happen, because it’s England, so it seems like I am no longer able to tell the difference between imagination and reality.”

“Our services are already stretched beyond capacity,” an official for NHS primary care mental health. “Thankfully, we’ve received expert assistance from the Swedish medical authorities, who assured us that the episode would pass by the end of Saturday.”

Health secretary, Jeremy Cunt, released a statement confirming that the lack of capacity to deal with the current crisis had everything to do with the unpredictable nature of healthcare and nothing to do with him having cut 15,000 in-patient beds across England & Wales since 2012.

Flossing

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018 | Life

I’m trying to improve my flossing technique. The dental hygiene kind. Apparently, it is a dance, too, which makes it more difficult to find the content I want. I had a similar problem when searching for “oral”.

My first stop was YouTube. Here is a helpful video on what to do.

The problem? My teeth are in my mouth. That spot where her hand is: that’s where my head is in real life.

Here is another video demonstrating the technique.

Look how far that fake mouth is open. No wonder dentists are constantly telling us to open our mouths wider if they think that people could open it to 90 degrees like a cartoon character.

We should think carefully before insulting Jordan Peterson

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 | Religion & Politics

Jordan Peterson appears regularly in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Some of it is good, most of it is bad. A lot of it is people making disparaging comments about him without any further explanation or details.

I don’t know what to make of him. Given there is such divided opinion, I tried to form one. But his YouTube video lectures were so long and boring that I soon gave up. So, the jury is still out. But my thoughts aren’t important. What is important is how those who don’t like him express their opinions.

If you’re going to attack him, make sure you do it with valid evidence-based arguments, and not simply name calling. Those who would choose the latter, clearly have a short memory.

It’s no surprise that people opt for this. It’s the predominant strategy of the left. We don’t attack the right best on the weaknesses of their arguments. Most of us seem too scared to do that but instead shout “you’re a racist! Shut up! You’re oppressing me!” And why not? It has been very effective in silencing a lot of people.

Occasionally, though, someone comes along he doesn’t care what we think of him and won’t shut up.

People like Nigel Farage. Farage doesn’t listen when you call him a racist and doesn’t shut up when you say his views are offensive. He just keeps making arguments. They’re not good arguments. But he makes them, and because we’re not making the counter-arguments, he beat us in the EU referendum.

And even more notably, Donald Trump. Nobody could believe that someone who hates Muslims and grabs women’s vaginas could possibly be elected US President. But when we told him “shut up you sexist racist arsehole” he just kept going because he understood that well-off white people vote way more than oppressed minorities and therefore, if you want to win an election, it’s okay to go on saying you’re going to oppress minorities in the interests of white people.

And he won. He’s now the president of the United States. The actual president. Not some comedy figure-head president as Stewart Lee would say. The actual, real president.

Jordan Peterson doesn’t give a shit what you think, either. His campaign is called “Professors Against Political Correctness”. He has said openly that he doesn’t respect trans people because he thinks it is a mental illness. It’s like he went out to go find the least PC thing he could possibly say just to annoy the left. He isn’t going to be silenced by us calling him out on it.

But what he is doing, like Trump did, is to speak to a very powerful group (white men) and telling them what they want to hear: that they don’t need to feel guilty for all the privilege they have and that they don’t deserve to be attacked. We white men are not under attack, of course, but to anyone who has enjoyed a lot of privilege and is now having that em>slightly eroded, it feels that way.

Worse, not only has he found this audience, but he is able to galvanise them by saying “look at how the left attack us: the attack is real and there is the evidence. They call us names and try to shut us up, but we keep speaking out!”

It worked for Farage. It worked for Trump. And if you call Jordan Peterson names, rather than dealing with the issues, it will work for him, too. How much support do you want to give him?

Shoe Dog

Sunday, July 1st, 2018 | Books

Shoe Dog is a 2016 memoir by Phil Knight, founder of Nike.

Most of the story focuses on the early days, from just before he founded Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 to when he took Nike public in 1980. It feels like a true entrepreneurs story, grinding it out from selling trainers out of the back of his car, through the almost-bankruptcies and endless crises and eventual triumph.

It paints Nike in a good picture. They innovated, brought new shoes to the market, changed the industry. But then, any memoir is likely to do that. If you read Grinding It Out, Ray Kroc comes over as lovely guy. But I guess I want to believe because I genuinely love the stuff Nike makes. I’ve tried running in other people’s shoes and they’re not as comfortable.

When I bought my Nike holdall, it came with a label saying “we’ve been there since the beginning. For as long as we’ve been making shoes, we’ve been making bags.” I’m sure this is 100% true and not just a strategy to ward off buyer’s remorse. But it is weird that Knight didn’t mention bags anywhere in his book, even though he did talk about the launch of their apparel launch long after he had started selling shoes.

If you’re interested in the story of Nike, or you like tales of entrepreneurship, this is a good read. Otherwise, you’re probably not going to get much out of it.