random thoughts to oil the mind

Category: Asides Page 1 of 5

[:en]Wee gobbets.[:de]Kurze Nebenbeiträge


One of the key ways we know how genes work is to look at what happens when they go wrong. We do this deliberately in experimental animals, precisely or randomly disrupting genes to see what happens. For obvious reasons, we don’t do that in people, but the equivalent is to study the genetics of disease and disorders.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes by Adam Rutherford

I wonder how small a minority I belong to when I react allergically to such naval-gazing conceitedness as this (emphasis my own).

The Poisonous Thought of Plastic

It’s interesting to watch the ways in which the current crusade against plastics manifests itself. The basic message – plastic is poison – gets through to everyone, but the reactions sometimes resemble a Chinese smithy melting down his tools to increase steel quotas during the Great Leap Awkward.

After a number of do-gooders complained, our company canteen recently replaced its plastic containers with cardboard packaging, for all those people too busy to sit down with a knife and fork. The move was celebrated as a great boon for the planet, maybe a potential way to minimise that already minuscule proportion of plastic waste that leaks out of European rivers.

Mayhaps. I’m not a materials scientist, but since the cardboard is plastic-coated and thus presents problems with recycling, the gesture has probably replaced a product that could be easily managed and recycled, with one which must be burned.

Nothing against using resources sparingly, but a bit of uncommon sense often helps. Just because something is plastic, doesn’t necessarily mean that the alternatives are automatically better for the environment. Think beyond the mantra. Or maybe just sit down with a plate like the rest of us inmates next time.

[Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash]

America Tikdem!

It’s good to see American politicians taking inspiration from Africa. Maybe their derg won’t be so funereal.

German Melancholy

Watching Stefan Raab punch the air with a full-blown Yank whoop and vainglorious ‘Yes!’, it’s easy to forget for a second that this is RTL. At least until he loses the subsequent round, punctuated with a fat Teutonic ‘NEIN!’

German is a sad language. To express moments of joy, Germans prefer to fall back on English. People stand around singing ‘Häppi Bersday’, send one another cards congratulating them when ‘It’s a boy!’, drive off from the church to the clatter of cans and a creamy white ‘Just married’ in the rear windscreen. But only the native language is good enough for the morose. Surveying the greetings cards, there are no English options for sharing your Beileid or showing your Anteilnahme.

Bremain Battle Bus

One and a half years and two tins of paint over budget, the Bremain campaign’s battle bus gets under way.

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