Sunday, 17 April 2016

Skepticab Blog of Randomness to 15 April 2016

Things that arose as I drove my cab this week:

Monday 11/4

Monster Munch

Today I drove past a cat in a window with a Monster Munch bag on its head, to much hilarity in the car.  I went back to make sure the cat was okay and to get a photo- it wasn't in distress and got the bag off a couple of minutes later.

An easy mistake

Anna (a regular customer) won't thank me for this but she did confess that she found a dead cat at the weekend.  After asking her neighbours if they recognised it she took it in a blanket to the vet so that the microchip could be scanned and the owner informed.  Very commendable of her.  The vet opened the blanket and announced that the poor cat was unlikely to have been microchipped as it was actually an otter.  Ooops!  A very red-faced Anna.
Should have gone to Specsavers

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Woo?

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, podcasts and BBC iplayer programmes as I work.  Today I gave 'How to Take Charge of Your Life: the User's Guide to NLP' by Richard Bandler.  I was expecting to be irritated by it as being woo (see link for definition) but I was pleasantly surprised that it was just a book of motivational techniques that seemed to make sense.  I like the idea that we should be able to tap into whatever makes the placebo effect work, although I can see potential dangers in this.  NLP seems to be all about the power of positive thinking.  Not my cup of tea though.

Tuesday 12/4


Doris is the loveliest lady in the world.  We had a lovely chat and she bought me some shortbread from M&S, just because.  Made my day :-)

Wednesday 13/4

Harlow's horses

The subject of the many horses around Harlow often crops up.  Many local children think it's lovely to see them all on the green spaces around the town but I am concerned about how they are being kept.  They are always tethered, often without shelter, fresh water, enough food or the ability to exercise.  I have heard that they are travellers' status symbols.  If so, there seems to be little incentive for them to be looked after well.  Here's the Council's information page on them, which basically says that unless they are in dire need it is not their concern.  What to do?  It's not nice seeing so many seemingly neglected animals like this.
A horse on Katherines Way


I've been wearing shorts since Easter.  Yesterday I was told I had started 2 weeks early.  Today it was bright sunshine and 18 degrees.  I feel justified now.

BTW- these are shorts down to the knee, not the shorts as shown when we discussed the issue in episode 109 of the Skepticule podcast (see photo in shownotes).

Left v. right

A mobile hairdresser has difficulty distinguishing left from right.  I told her about the primary school trick (for right-handed people only) of using the phrase "I write with my right hand".  This was no use to her as she is naturally left-handed but was forced to use her right hand in childhood because being left-handed was not considered acceptable where she came from in Africa.  

Top Gear

Paul delivers Suzukis to and from journalists and others to review.  Today his colleague got the plum job of taking a car to/from the Top Gear Amazon Prime team in some secret location, whereas poor Paul got the somewhat less exciting job of being driven by me to pick up a car from North Weald.

Green fingers

Thanks customer Sandy for showing me how to grow a cutting of rosemary.  I really appreciate your time, and I was inspired to take some cuttings from Staple Tye.  After thinking about it I turned the cuttings into rosemary powder for culinary purposes and bought some ready-grown plants instead.

Thursday 14/4

Dodgy diet advice, spurious correlations and pirates

This is serious.  I've been eating low-carb since August 2013 and have lost 5 stone so far, although I haven't really lost any in the last year.  The main reason for the weight gain in the first place is my type 1 diabetes and my resistance to insulin.  That's just my back story.

Listening to the BBC's excellent More or Less programme on the Great Cabbage Myth, my interest was raised why so much research into what is supposedly good for you to eat is so flawed.  The programme is based on this article from the excellent  The upshot is that the whole subject of what is good for you is really flaky as it is difficult to get an accurate picture of what people actually eat, and it is also difficult to make links between different foods and lifestyle choices.  They were saying that all sorts of spurious correlations could be found with enough data, such as the statistically significant link between those who trim the fat from their steak and atheism, and an even stronger correlation between those who like cabbage and those who have innie bellybuttons.  Of course the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's correlation between global warming and the number of pirates is altogether different.  As ever, correlation does not mean causation (somebody please tell me what this is in Latin so I can pretentiously have it tattooed on my arm) but it's important to bear in mind that correlations are sometimes spurious.
From the Church of the FSM
Just as I was listening to the podcast and thinking of the above I got an unusual job to take five pirates and wenches in full dress, complete with cutlasses and rum, at 10 o'clock in the morning to the train station.

Friday 15/4


I always think of my friends Rick and Tracey, friend-of-a-friend Fran and the other 93 innocent people who lost their lives 27 years ago today at my beloved Sheffield Wednesday's football ground.  I feel the club should take more responsibility for what happened.
Rick Jones
Tracey Cox

No particular day

Blossom update

Lots of cherry about now.

Not sure what this is- big white flowers, very dramatic.

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