Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Which means "Hello" in Russian, or so I'm led to believe.

The reason for my unlikely greeting is that I am currently getting a lot of hits on my site coming from Russia; in fact, around ten times as many as everywhere else put together. I'm not sure why this is; I did make a few uncomplimentary comments about Vladimir Putin a while back, perhaps this has something to do with it.

Anyway, it has inspired me to start writing my blog again after some absence.


Lawmakers in California are drawing up regulations governing the use of self driving cars. They will however, still insist that a licensed driver is behind the wheel in the event of a failure of the technology.

This is strange given that the majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused, at least to some extent, by driver error. The actual figures vary according to who you are asking and how the results are interpreted, but some reports put the figure as high as 95%.

That being so, it would make more sense if the legislation insisted that no-one should be allowed to drive a car without some sort of driverless technology to take control of the vehicle in the event of the driver making a mistake.

It wouldn't surprise me if, in a few years time, such legislation did exist and by then, we would all be wondering how cars could have been allowed to be driven around by people.

It occurred to me that it was rather a case of history repeating itself as it reminded me of the old Locomotive Act of 1865 which required a man to carry a red flag in front of any self-propelled vehicle.

Strangely enough, while I was looking for an image to go with this item, I found this article by Lloyds of London who, it seems, are one step ahead of me and have produced a report on how the introduction of self driving cars will affect the insurance industry. They too have made the connection with the red flag man.


(Without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied views).
(Nathan Poe 2005)

The Thamesmead Grump Interpretation of Poe's Law.

Even with a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied views.
(The Thamesmead Grump 2015)

I know I keep referring to this quote but I just can't get over how stupid some people are.

Look on any satirical website and read the comments posted by readers about the stories published there. It isn't just people being fooled by a seemingly extremist or bizarre story report, they are even fooled when there is a clear indicator of the author's intent.

World News daily Report is one such spoof news site and issue the following statement

"WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people –  are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle."

Clear enough, don't you think? But no, if you click on this link, you will see a report which claims a 14 year old girl became pregnant after receiving a flu vaccine shot. Even the anti-vax loonies haven't made that claim but just look at some of the comments posted by readers who have read the story and still believe it's true.

Many of these stories turn up on my Facebook page as if they were real.

The trouble is that you can't tell if the people posting the comments that make it look like they actually believed the story are doing a Poe as well. Sometimes I just don't know who to believe.


All dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

Anyone giving professional advice about nutrition should hold a Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) approved degree in dietetics or nutrition, or an HCPC-approved post graduate qualification in dietetics. 

The title "Nutritionist" has no official meaning in the UK as it is not subject to professional regulation. This means that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and leaves the field open to cranks and charlatans.

It also is a really useful money making scam for organisations who will dispense fake credentials which make the practitioner look like they are qualified when in fact they are not.

This fact was highlighted in spectacular fashion when Dr Ben Goldacre, was able to obtain accreditation as a certified professional member of the American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC) for his dead cat Hettie.
(Ben Goldacre - Bad Science. Also published in the Guardian newspaper)

This is the same accreditation claimed by TV celebrity "nutritionist" and notorious poo-jabber Gillian McKeith.

While researching this piece, I happened across a sketch by comedian Dara O'Briain that I thought I would share.


While I'm on the subject of cranks, let's talk about detoxing. Most, so-called, detox remedies are fairly harmless. They don't do anything of course but they make people feel less guilty about all the crap junk food they eat and are sold to people who will believe any rubbish told them, especially if it's by a celebrity, and will part with money they would otherwise give away to some other hopeless cause like a silver lined hat to stop all those dangerous rays from phone masts. (This is true and if you don't believe me then go to this website where you can buy one. Actually, when I first saw it, I thought it was another spoof site but it isn't.)

Others are not so harmless and an example of one of the more dangerous is this. It is a product called "Herbal Womb Detox Pearls" and is apparently a small pouch of herbs women are supposed to insert into their vagina in order to correct conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts and thrush. 

Another product is supposed to promote "vaginal tightening". The mind boggles.

This idea, along with the vagina steaming scam promoted by the Fanny Steamer in Chief Gwyneth Paltrow and reported earlier in the year, is not recommended by proper doctors who say that not only are the claims made for the product absurd, they may actually be dangerous. They could cause serious irritation or even potentially life threatening toxic shock syndrome.

Quite why anyone would think that inserting unknown items of vegetable matter into their bodily orifices is a good idea is beyond me but I suppose it takes all sorts.

You can learn more about it by reading this article in the Independent.


That's enough grumping for today. Here is a picture of a Wren I took at the bird hide in Hall Place. You can see it too if you visit.

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