Euro screwed

So not only do euro-zone countries not have control of their own monetary policy, but their fiscal policy options in a crisis are also seriously limited. This interview with Richard Koo explains …

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Something Snapped

I was directed to a poem by Simon Armitage yesterday that was something to do with National Poetry Day. Best to read the text as a poem first before viewing the multimedia version.

The idea of “the best version of yourself” stuck in my craw and also the whole piece seems to have completely missed the impact of lockdown on most people. I felt compelled to write a ripost …

Something Snapped

Then something snapped and the workstation groaned
under the weight of the infinite immanent potentials jostling in the wires.
But first the daily catch-up call with the multitasking tele-present
almost-but-not-quite-real crowd of fadingly familiar faces.
Then the routine chores to keep on track
and a single fresh cup of coffee and
more task-work till a lunchtime scene-change blurs into view

Same scene as yesterday,
same solitary plate in the empty kitchen
same serious-but-sensational newsreader and
pseudo-sparring politicians on the radio

But back to it, those teasingly infinite potentials still in the wires
and suddenly school’s out and just-as-quick time to get dinner on
and shepherd the family through till bedtime and then collapse
to refresh the same belching, farting, take-it or leave-it,
one-event, only true version of yourself.

Later I watched the multimedia version of the Simon Armitage poem and realised that it’s all just a promotion for BT Broadband. Rather a disappointing use of the Poet Laureate’s talents.

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Infernal machine!

That infernal rowing machine has got it in for me!  It wants me off and no doubt about it.  Lazy machine doesn’t want to be rowed! When cranking the resistance up to life-threatening levels for prolonged periods doesn’t work it then resorts to demoralisation tactics by telling me how unfit I am.  Apparently I could smear myself with electro-conductive goop (steady!) so that the heart-rate monitoring device would work better, but if I did that I’m sure the machine would contrive to connect me to the mains!  Perhaps I’ll threaten to replace it with a skipping rope – see how it likes that!

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Guts and Gonads

It finally went too far … I saw some sort of mission on the wall of a school yesterday that had the ambition of “winning the hearts and minds” of the students.  It means nothing if they haven’t won the viscera – they’ve got to win the guts and gonads as well!

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BMI deceptions

We just got a letter from Islington NHS saying that Jed is overweight!  How can that be – Jed at nearly 5 years old is lean and fit.  There’s barely any fat on him at all.

Apparently this wonderful news is the result of the National Child Measurement Programme whose mission seems to be to use simplistic tools to convince people to be more healthy.  A quick search online led me to this survey from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston that shows that the relying on BMI to determine whether someone has unhealthy levels of body fat appears to be wrong around 1/6 – 1/4 of the time.

I’d heard that muscle is more dense than fat – it turns out muscle is about 18% more dense than fat and so someone who has bigger muscles could well be in the “overweight” BMI range.  There are other, more accurate ways to determine the levels of body fat: waist-to-hip ratio, skin-fold thickness measurements, and weighing in water (hydrodensiometry) are just a few.  This last one is my favourite – I think a better heuristic than BMI is buoyancy.  If it’s hard to stay afloat you’re probably OK.

The worst thing about the whole programme is the large-scale misuse and miscommunication of science.  The BMI is clearly a flawed measure but we’re being told the gospel-truth according to science that Jed is overweight.  It’s clear that he’s not and it seems likely that up to a quarter of these reported results are wrong.  This kind of bad science just undermines the credibility of all science reporting and people will just ignore it.

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Bad Sounds!

It’s incredible that even in the Barbican Hall they amplify things according to their capability and not the requirements of the audience or the music.

It was a session from a series called “Reverberations: The influence of Steve Reich”. First piece I really enjoyed – Clapping Music with Reich himself as one of the performers. From then on, with mostly orchestral pieces, the sound-stage was really damaged by the amplification and the levels were at times painful. The Barbican has a good acoustic – there’s really no need. Might as well just buy the recordings.


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