Hogging the high road

The Philippine’s capo del capi, Rodrigo Duterte, yesterday spoke of his “sorrow” on having to give-up his motorcycles on becoming president, and offered his thoughts on riding and why it’s not worth owning a Harley. He banged-on (at some considerable length) about touring the Philippines by motorbike and how as a city mayor he used to ride every week on a motorcycle that his security team made him junk after winning the presidency earlier in the year.

Duterte’s pose as an urban cowboy is a major part of his “hard man” image that has endeared him to those millions of Filipinos who haven’t yet lost a family member to his “robust” approach to law enforcement. In spite of his apparent enthusiasm for dishing-out legal proceedings to offenders at the “pointy-end” he boasted of having reached speeds of 180 kph and owning a Yamaha and Honda as well as a Harley Davidson, although he said he was not too happy with the “hog” model as it over-heated. “Throw it in the ditch. It is useless and hot,” he said.

So far, in his presidency, more than 2,500 people have been killed, about three-quarters in police operations, and the rest apparently victims of vigilantes or druglords eliminating rivals.

armored-harley-davidson-motorcycle-ww2

The new ‘bike for the Drug Squad in down-town Manila, 2017.

I wonder how long before traffic offences start to attract the same level of official approbation.

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2016 Ig-Nobel winners

It’s that time of year again, and what a marvellous crop of erudition is laid out before us.

The 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 22, 2016 at the 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live.

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] — The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.
REFERENCE: “Effect of Different Types of Textiles on Sexual Activity. Experimental study,” Ahmed Shafik, European Urology, vol. 24, no. 3, 1993, pp. 375-80.
REFERENCE: “Contraceptive Efficacy of Polyester-Induced Azoospermia in Normal Men,” Ahmed Shafik, Contraception, vol. 45, 1992, pp. 439-451.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] — Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.
REFERENCE: “The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale,” Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, Shelagh Ferguson, Marketing Theory, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 451-475.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mark Avis and Sarah Forbes

PHYSICS PRIZE [HUNGARY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND] — Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.
REFERENCE: “An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat,” Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Åkesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.
REFERENCE: “Ecological Traps for Dragonflies in a Cemetery: The Attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by Horizontally Polarizing Black Grave-Stones,” Gábor Horváth, Péter Malik, György Kriska, Hansruedi Wildermuth, Freshwater Biology, vol. 52, vol. 9, September 2007, pp. 1700–9.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Susanne Åkesson

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY] — Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.
REFERENCE: “EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations”, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news release, September 18, 2015.

MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY] — Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).
REFERENCE: “Itch Relief by Mirror Scratching. A Psychophysical Study,” Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas F. Münte, Silke Anders, Andreas Sprenger, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no 12, December 26, 2013, e82756.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Andreas Sprenger

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, CANADA, USA] — Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.
REFERENCE: “From Junior to Senior Pinocchio: A Cross-Sectional Lifespan Investigation of Deception,” Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon D. Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, Acta Psychologica, vol. 160, 2015, pp. 58-68.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Bruno Verschuere

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] — Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”.
REFERENCE: “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gordon Pennycook, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang

BIOLOGY PRIZE [UK] — Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.
REFERENCE: GoatMan; How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, Thomas Thwaites, Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1616894054.
REFERENCE: Being a Beast, by Charles Foster, Profile Books, 2016, ISBN 978-1781255346.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Charles Foster, Thomas Thwaites. [NOTE: Thomas Thwaites’s goat suit was kindly released for Ig Nobel purposes from the exhibition ‘Platform – Body/Space’ at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, and will be back on display at the museum from 4 October 2016 till 8 January 2017.]

LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.
REFERENCE: “The Fly Trap” is the first volume of Fredrik Sjöberg’s autobiographical trilogy, “En Flugsamlares Vag” (“The Path of a Fly Collector”), and the first to be published in English. Pantheon Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1101870150.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Fredrik Sjöberg

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.
REFERENCE: “Perceived size and Perceived Distance of Targets Viewed From Between the Legs: Evidence for Proprioceptive Theory,” Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, Vision Research, vol. 46, no. 23, November 2006, pp. 3961–76.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Atsuki Higashiyama

ignobel-2016

Solving tomorrow’s problems last week.

 

View from a Rhino House: mousing

The airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, suffering from a host of problems with its decision to become the first European budget airline to fly the profitable long-haul routes, was forced to delay a flight from Oslo to New York by over five hours on Tuesday because of a mouse in the cockpit.

“The pilots discovered a mouse on flight deck,” spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh said yesterday evening. “We had to make sure that no cables or wires had been chewed..”

Norwegian has recently had a string of technical troubles with its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners delaying many of its flights & leaving passengers stranded at airports as from Bangkok to Florida.

The airline has in recent weeks managed to improved its reliability, but it runs its Dreamliners 18 hours a day, significantly longer than traditional carriers, so even small delays can cause significant schedule disruptions.

“At least the mouse was caught,” Ms Holmbergh added.

"I don't know why they gave us this job anyway, I just wanted to serve the nuts....."

“I don’t know why they gave us this job anyway, I just wanted to serve the nuts…..”

View from a Rhino House: Better out than in?

A British man who has spent a total of seven years in prison, for wandering around naked in public, lost his legal battle to wear no clothes yesterday as the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) told him he must respect the rights of others.

Stephen Gough, usually, & predictably, known as “The Naked Rambler” by British tabloid media for his bid to walk the length of the country wearing no more than a hat, a bulky rucksack & an irritatingly smug air of self-righteousness, has a record of around 30 convictions for public order disturbances & other offences.

Gough argued that European laws on “respect for private life & freedom of expression” gave him the right to nudity whenever he chose it. But the Strasbourg-based Court ruled that they did not apply given his “deliberately repetitive antisocial conduct”.

“He had plenty of other ways of expressing his opinions,” it concluded.

People eager to keep their breakfast down will be cheering all over the UK.

Now where did I put the damned car keys?

Now where did I leave the damned car keys?

View from a Rhino House: die laughing

In that bastion of capitalism & good taste (the USA, where else) an enterprising company has just sold-out its entire “Ebola stock”, including the “Small Ebola Doll”( $9.95), the very large “Gigantic Ebola Doll” ($29.95) & the back-to-school “Ebola Petri Dish” ($14.95) according to the company’s website.

“Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the T. Rex of microbes,” says the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of the “uniquely contagious toys” on its website, which promotes them as gifts that also have an “educational value”.

During the latest Ebola outbreak, which has already killed more than 4,500 people, discerning customers, looking for that special something for the gifting season, have snapped up the toys, which look like an untied pretzel (except for the “Ebola Petri Dish”, which looks like an untied pretzel on a petri dish).

“You do not want to get Ebola,” suggests the website, offering a clear glimpse into the level of healthcare advice under the iniquitous Obamacare dictatorship. “A short incubation period of 2 to 21 days presages symptoms which include fever, aches, sore throat, & weakness, followed by diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, & both internal & external bleeding…. & then, for between 50-90% of victims, death.”

Sadly beyond suggesting that you don’t want to catch the disease the advice doesn’t go on to suggest how you might avoid Ebola, but at least if it does arrive you’ll know what it looks like.

"But I wanted a transforming, killer robot....."

“But I wanted a transforming, killer robot…..”

View from a Rhino House: home alone

In the USA police mistook a black teenager for a burglar & pepper sprayed him inside the home he shared with his white foster parents, authorities said this week.

Responding to a neighbour’s report of a break-in, police said they used pepper spray on Monday when 18-year-old DeShawn Currie “became profane, threatening & belligerent” (simply because a bunch of armed men broke into his home & threatened him – surely not) & “refused to follow instructions” from officers.

Currie’s foster parents, Ricky & Stacy Tyler, said he has lived with them for about a year. The Tylers, their three young children & Currie moved into their new home in July & don’t yet know some their neighbours, they said.

Police said there had been a rash of crimes in the area recently, but did not specifically say how many or what kind (illegal entry & assault, maybe).

Authorities said when they entered the house, Currie produced “inadequate identification” which showed the family’s previous address.

A police spokeswoman did not reply when asked specifically about what instructions Currie did not follow. Police also have not said how many officers entered the home, their length of service with the department or their race.

Currie was treated by medical personnel at the scene, police said. No charges were filed (guess he was lucky to get-off so lightly).

Somedays it really doesn't pay to be black.

Somedays it really doesn’t pay to be black.