A comedian stands up for sums. From New Scientist

Sounds like a great read with a bit of involvement.

PLEASE everyone, look into the fun side of maths for your kid’s sake. Kids need to enjoy maths and appreciate it is just a set of rules and facts they can commit to memory, just like any other subject. You don’t have to be good at maths to enjoy its many aspects in our daily lives.

A comedian stands up for sums – physics-math – 04 November 2014 – New Scientist.

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We need this program in Oz: Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions

Ruby-Wax-Black-Dog-Tribe_1

Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions | Channel 4 goes mad | Documentary | Blog | Time To Change.

Reading the summary and readers’ comments on this British TV program from their Channel 4 made me think about how I am coping right now with my own head.

Crepe myrtle from L Street

Crepe myrtle from L Street

In the midst of a few physical health issues I’m not doing too badly. As the people in the above program and the commenters pointed out, I could do with some company and a  bit of real-life support. I feel a bit stigmatised as people don’t invite me to stuff. Now maybe they’ve just forgotten about me because I’m not around much or maybe I DO make them feel uncomfortable. That must be the difficulty about having a mental illness that doesn’t make you think or behave in  unexpected ways – you can never quite tell if a drop off in friends is just chance or if they’re deliberately avoiding you.

As I’ve said before, I never really feel lonely and I AM alone during working hours; I just feel the need for different environments and social input from different human beings. Now I can’t drive or walk to the bus stop, my lack of regular company apart from Spotrick and the cats has become more salient. What strategies could I use, apart from spending even more time on the Interwebs?!

Need to stop thinking about…

I’m wishing tonight, after having a pleasant dinner out, that I could stop thinking about things that touch me too deeply. Tears are welling in my eyes and threatening to fall down my cheeks as I can’t do anything to help. I’ll try to concentrate on something I COULD do last weekend.

I managed to help my young friend Olu “Climate” Idowu from Nigeria raise the last couple of hundred dollars that enabled him to attend an important meeting in Ethiopia. He has been running a program to teach youth to sustainably work the land so they can become employed and feed themselves and their families. By flocking to urban areas, rural people in developing countries have lost the skills they thought would be useless in the city. As Olu and I were chatting on Facebook I also got a message from Thalini who is training to be a surgeon in NSW, Australia, wondering how to do something that I know all about, and I thought !! Bingo!!

Maybe Thalini would have some of the cash Olu needed for his conference and I could in turn help Thalini with her problem! It worked and didn’t cost me a cent of the money I haven’t got!

So this week I became an international online entrepreneur! That must be an achievement I can be happy with.

What techniques can I use in the future to stop myself becoming too sad and emotional about problems that other people are in a much better position to fix? Genuine help needed!

Positive post script:

The rescue cat pictured below was adopted and neutered. She was previously on death row at Manhattan Animal Rescue in New York City because she was found roaming the streets. She was approximately 5 years old, and as you can see, not the most attractive-looking animal you might expect to take home.

Kitty's got the blues

Kitty’s got the blues

I contacted a heap of people who lived in or near NYC to try to get her a kind, warm home. Someone responded and I am so very relieved.

Praise was a no-no

Child development: The right kind of early praise predicts positive attitudes toward effort.

_____________________________________________________

When I taught developmental psychology to young teacher- and childcare-trainees, I fought a losing battle most of the time trying to show them how to use praise in the best way to enhance the lives of the little ones in their charge. All the other teachers on the programs thought that you must “treasure the precious little children” by [wrongly] “boosting their self-esteem” in saying “wow, that was good” or “don’t you look gorgeous”, no matter the merit of child in any way.

This article points out where I was doing OK and they were NOT encouraging the children to try hard and put their best efforts into whatever they did. I believe the “wow, you’re wonderful” style of upbringing has resulted in generations of youngsters who won’t put in an effort, try to get by on appearance [at which many succeed & others derive much misery from], feel entitled to a good job no matter how lackadaisical their performance and are intolerant of less than perfect traits in a partner. Who knows?

As I mentioned on Google+ in response to this article, my life has been heavily influenced by getting no praise or the wrong kind when I was a little kid. I was virtually “squashed down” because apparently the “tall poppy” syndrome reigned in the 1950s. I can only remember a few instances where I was praised for any achievement, and this was by school teachers or other kids’ parents. As an adult [in years, maybe not in mind!], I have not usually tried very hard at most things, because I achieved most things as a kid by just turning up and doing. No one will believe me, but I got into med school that way- however, lack of effort after being ill for a long time probably made me drop out, where I might have been able to cope with some coaching and support for a while.

Kids I went to school with apparently often tried to topple me from the top of the class, but, not having put any effort in myself, I didn’t notice their frustrated efforts! Therefore, I didn’t congratulate them or praise them either because I hadn’t experienced it myself. These days I sometimes chat on Facebook to some of these old friends and discover how “victorious” some of them felt when they topped me at something and how some of them were jealous of my performance/”marks”, disliking me as consequence. It all seems so trivial now, but THEY have mostly succeeded in life with good jobs and happy families, whereas I am long term unemployed with a still “itchy” mind!

So, from many years of experience and contemplation I would say to parents “Be alert to your children’s achievements in every sphere and give them plenty of praise about the way they achieve.” My idea would be to teach kids as many things as you can quite deliberately so they don’t have to make so many mistakes along the road to becoming adults themselves. Teach them about praise too, once they are old enough to get the idea, and they will become sought after companions in life for their peers. Show children how to do things and don’t keep saying “No not that way” and correcting them – let them work through and discover for themselves the best methods once you have shown them, except when it’s dangerous, eg. diving off the high board!

Surely I might be happier and healthier now, maybe even suitably employed if I had been able to build on a solid basis of feeling competent and autonomous when I was learning to become human. I’m working on it.

It is a genuine dilemma in this age of new-fangled “molecular” drugs, that some seem to work very well during their first human trials, but we have to wait years to get them to the public.
Of course there is massive cost to consider in some cases, but I don’t know about eteplirsen. Public health advocates can have a terrible time deciding if a few people can have an expensive drug vs. a lot of people getting a cheap one. For instance, how many doses of polio vaccine would you trade for one of eteplirsen? These are the realities of government budgets. I wouldn’t like to do it, would you?

 

Health & Family

Austin and Max Leclaire are brothers. Austin is older, Max is younger. Like most siblings, they have many things in common and just as many that set them apart. For now, though, their strongest bond is over something they share — Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common lethal genetic disorder among children. Duchenne’s hallmark is increasing muscle weakness that eventually makes it hard to breathe and confines kids to wheelchairs, which is where Austin finds himself these days. Now 14, he lost the ability to walk four years ago, a development that helps explain why the disease looks so different in the two brothers today.

Because Max, 11, was still able to put one foot in front of another in the summer of 2011, he was eligible to enroll in a drug trial for Eteplirsen, which is designed for children like the Leclaire brothers who have trouble producing a protein…

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What will keep me going in 2013?

Just gathering my wits at the moment to make a blog post. I managed to get through 2012 with a few wobbles in the middle surrounding mis-haps in the arts and the inability to intervene in the fate of a beautiful cat. Around Christmas things were better than the previous year due to a win in the arts, brought swiftly to earth by an abrasive encounter at a pre-Christmas party.

On the upside, I managed to recover from the abrasive encounter with the support of dear friends and family, plus juggling my pills and vitamins! Currently I feel pretty good and I’ll do my best to continue along this trajectory.

Several things lying around the house (never tidy, but usually not a pigsty) have reminded me that reading has been a good tonic in the past, so I am glad to have a large pile of reading to look forward to this year too. Sonia Faleiro‘s book Beautiful Thing. Portrait of a Bombay bar dancer, is still sitting on the edge of the coffee table, reminding me how surprisingly moving some books can be. I was captivated by this tale of the knife-edge existence of a young woman with the “ambition” to be a genuine dancer, not just a roughly used barmaid. Convinced that her life was quite positive compared to others in India, she made me realise how different circumstances shape different personalities and how everyone has their own frame for their dreams of a “better life”.

While there is nothing in my “to-read” pile that promises to be as inspiring as that book, there are plenty that will keep me occupied with mayhem and mystery!  eg. Michael Connelly‘s The Black Box. He’s always a good read.

Spotrick gave me for Christmas a little book of poems titled I Could Pee on This and other poems by cats.(Author Francesco Marciuliano). On the cover is a cheeky ginger & white kitten who looks similar to our Bendix. The contents are hilarious and are good cheer-ups if I’m feeling a bit meh. Here’s the beginning of “Unbridled love”:
I knead your chest with my sharp claws
To show you my affection
I bite your arm and don’t let go
To show you adoration…

That is sooo characteristic although I wish there was something I could do about the biting! My forearms sometimes get gory teeth-marks from those “adoring” chomps- ye-owww.

I could pee on that

I could pee on that

Books are generally for bedtime reading for me, whereas I often get occupied with online courses during the day while Spotrick is at work. While in 2012 I was finishing my Masters degree, with that merely needing some corrections this month, I’ll have more time to concentrate on other things. Last year I did some online courses through EdX and Coursera including “Listening to World Music”, and “HarvardX: PH207x Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research” , gaining course credits that could be used in real life if I wanted that. Several other courses I sampled, but didn’t complete formal assessment were Computing for Data Analysis (4 weeks of learning to progam in R), CalTech‘s Machine Learning and Community Models of Public Health . I have just started “Economics for Scientists”  as I think it will help me understand more about health economics and the political economy of health, with the hope of enrolling for a PhD connected with those later in the year.

Incidentally, I was stunned to hear of the death of the man who practically invented the “political economy of health” . Gavin Mooney was murdered in Tasmania, along with his second wife Del Weston, whose son from a previous marriage is being held in connection with their cruel slaying. I only met Gavin late last year at a seminar and he seemed a great believer in making the best health facilities available to the most disadvantaged people. He was a lovely guy, and was obviously held in very high regard by people throughout the community as seen by the tributes in Melissa Sweet’s Croakey blog.

Not ruminating about things like the previous paragraph is something I have to develop this year and I have become sufficiently motivated (I think) to get back to some of my art & craft activities, like knitting and quilting. I meant to make some cushions for several friends for Christmas, but time flew by too fast while I was finishing off the degree. Though Christmas is almost a distant memory, I’ll keep going on the cushion project, starting with a log cabin pattern in greens for a friend who has an unusual green leather lounge suite.

Green theme

Green theme

These fabrics are in the mix and I am putting my new electric scissors to work cutting the strips just right as my wrists and thumbs are wrecked for working with manual ones.

There’s a lot of fabric hanging around here that needs to be made into clothing as well, but I’ve been very slack on the sewing for many years- I can’t get moving on it. This year I’ll get out some projects and see what happens- maybe inspiration will stay with me for a while. I really like these bright, lightweight cottons for making summer dresses and tops:

The garden is starting to look more lush than it has since we moved in, largely due to Spotrick’s efforts in tidying up old plants and pots. I’ve also been blitzing the plants with plenty of fertiliser and misting water under the larger ones on hot days. My ambition is to almost obscure the courtyard walls!

 

Book Banquet 2012

Shai Coggins’ blog reminded me that I have read quite a pile of books this year that I should list, even if just for myself. If you have read any of these and have an opinion, please comment!

  1. Nonfiction. Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society Will Hutton. This book applies equally well to the Australian scene since the Global Financial Crisis and is a big influence on how I now view the political economy of public health.
  2. Nonfiction. David Harvey. The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism. This book was the basis of a pre-conference workshop on the Political Economy of Health before the international Public Health Association meeting in Adelaide in September 2012. It convinced me that I’m on the right track with my lack of capitalism in its present form ever leading to fairness in the distribution of resources compatible with good health in a nation. All capitalism depends on gambling that the small amounts of money held by “lesser” people can be collected together by crooks on the stock market to increase the large amounts held by people who consider themselves “the bosses” of the rest of us. It can’t keep happening as eventually the poor run out of resources, get angry and disrupt the system, or the rich find there is little value in their cash because workers are not producing anything more for them to buy with it. They can then either stockpile wealth to absolutely no avail or start financing jobs for the unemployed so the economy can start moving again. Have I convinced you? Anyway, I could rave about this forever, knowing absolutely nothing about economics!
  3. Jo Nesbo The Redbreast. A horrific Scandinavian thriller, as are the next four.
  4. Jo Nesbo The Leopard
  5. Jo Nesbo The Devil’s Star
  6. Jo Nesbo The Snowman. These are so well-written I couldn’t put them down.
  7. Henning Mankell The Troubled Man. Detective Kurt Wallander has turned sixty and thinks he is succumbing to the dementia that ended his own father’s life. Meanwhile he is struggling to help solve the mystery of a murdered naval officer.
  8. Peter Hoeg The Quiet Girl. Odd but thrilling, with a young girl kept apart from others by an apparently obscure group of “nuns”, helped by a strange Bach-loving clown. There are touches of magical realism about the tale but it all hangs together in the end
  9. Camilla Läckberg The Ice Princess: The body of crime writer Erica Falck’s childhood friend is discovered, wrists slashed, in an ice cold bath. Was it murder or suicide? The investigation leads her to a community on the brink of tragedy.
  10. Camilla Läckberg The Preacher: Twenty years ago, two young women disappeared in Fjällbacka – now their remains are found, along with a new victim. As Patrik Hedström works to solve these murders, do the dark secrets of a local family hold the key?
  11. Camilla Läckberg The Stonecutter: When a little girl is found in a fisherman’s net, the police realize it was no accidental drowning. Patrik Hedström investigates the death of a child both he and Erica knew well.
  12. Hakan Nesser – but can’t remember the title- think it’s different in Australia than the USA. But it’s another crime thriller.
  13. Yrsa Sigurdardottir Last Rituals Set in Reykjavík, this thriller concerns the murder of a student who appears to have odd symbols carved into his chest linked to ancient folk tales.
  14. Martin Walker Black Diamond. Policeman “Bruno” Benoit Couregges is on the trail of truffle merchants who are rigging the price of their expensive finds in French provincial markets.
  15. Martin Walker  The Crowded Grave. I loved the description of the French countryside in this mystery about a modern murder victim concealed at an archeological dig against the suspicion of local cross-border terrorism.
  16. Non-fiction. Ted Nield Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet. About the history of the major tectonic plates that cover the earth and how we can see the ancient links between them by matching the minerals and landforms at the break-apart sites.
  17. Non-fiction. Simon Winchester Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms & a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. I skipped most of the battles etc. & concentrated on the accounts of how the Atlantic is being widened by the upwelling of volcanoes along the mid-continental ridge and the currents that carry whole species to unusual destinations on its shores.
  18. Nonfiction. Richard Dawkins. The Ancestors’ Tale. This gave me a really clear view of evolution by tracing the origins of all living species back to where they branched off from their closest genetic relative on the evolutionary tree. The explanations for the sometimes bizarre separations of different species or varieties of animals and plants from each other by geological changes, such as continental drift and tectonic plates and climate change are quite revelatory as well. One of the best books on genetic evolution I’ve ever read- much better than all the ones that start with a single cell and come from past to present!
  19. Geraldine Brooks Caleb’s Crossing. The Pulitzer Prize Winner’s novel of early America- Caleb is the first Native American to attend Harvard University, after being brought up quite traditionally on the site of modern day Martha’s Vineyard.
  20.  Lars Kepler The Nightmare. Detective Inspector Joona Linna investigates the recovery of a young woman’s body from an abandoned yacht drifting around the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, and the forensics team is sure that she drowned. Why, then, is the pleasure boat still afloat, and why are there no traces of water on her clothes or body? The story involves international conspiracy and crime on a horrific scale, not easily relatable to the original death.

You can see by this selection that I’m a great fan of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, the history of the planet and the relationship of economics to health- what a weird mix  eh?! What’s your mix look like?

 

I’m writing a post. Duh!

I haven’t posted much in either blog for a while- just the occasional outburst. However, my head has been FULL of ideas on what I want to say to the world. My drafts are also getting a bit overwhelming.

So- here I am. The first thing is about my disappearance from Facebook. I was quite happy on Facebook and made lots of online and real life friends there. It also allowed communication with various groups I belong to in photography, wine and dining. The problem happened over the last four weeks, with Facebook twice banning me from “Adding new friends” for 7 days. I hadn’t been aware of trying to friend anyone unusual or completely unknown to me and I hadn’t said anything offensive to anyone there. Maybe the new relatives I had been given the names of in New Zealand and Queensland complained about me, believing me to be a stranger, despite sharing my surname. Or, they suddenly got worked up about some feud my father is supposed to have had before I was born- who knows?

Most likely it was a series of totally false “complaints” by people connected with our mutual friend’s suicide last year as the first Facebook ban came around the anniversary of his death. If people want to blame me for a suicide, I don’t want to argue with them- but they needn’t interfere with my interactions with other people I know as friends. Further hints that these people might be behind the Facebook bans was at a dinner I attended, about which I previously blogged (above)- a woman came up to me and said something like “Oh you’re that Kay Walker from Facebook- humph!”. I didn’t know her, but vaguely recognised her face from some social events years ago. I guess she wasn’t pleased to find me at the dinner with a Facebook Group so made further complaints. It’s a mystery to me.

Maybe I am paranoid, but I’ve also discovered that some people on Twitter and Google Plus have recently banned me as well- or “blocked” etc. I have commented on one person’s blog a few times as I share similar experiences with depression and drugs with her, but the comments never appear. What have I done to her? Maybe I should learn to use more lists on Twitter so friends from one sphere don’t suffer the Tweets of my other spheres. Irrelevant Tweets don’t bother me- I know people lead multi-facted lives- but if they bother others, perhaps I could change my ways.

You see, the Internet is one of the few ways I get to interact with other people these days. I’ve been completely unemployed for 5 years now and was only employed sporadically for 7 years before that. I’ve been up and down with my depression [like the Assyrian Empire], but managed to maintain a small group of real life friends over all that time. The rest of my socialising has been via the Internet. With my exit from Facebook (I feel I have been hounded off there) and the way others are blocking or dropping me elsewhere, I’m starting to get a bit worried. I’ve made a few moves to join some other sites to make up for my losses, but they are not so much with people who could ever be friends IRL- eg. on Pinterest or Tumblr. They’re more to share interests.

Speaking of interests- Spotrick & I attended a pleasant (if freezing cold), sunset photography meetup yesterday at Gillman, near the industrial Port Adelaide, north of the City Centre. There we met some previous acquaintances and a bunch of new people who all seemed very pleasant. We also took a few good photos and shivered together!

Here are several pix from the trip.Image

Image

I’m Everywhere I’m Everywhere [in the USA]

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
207
people with the name Kay Walker in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Since I’m Australian, the proportion would work out that there are probably 14 or 15 of us over here!

When I was on Facebook I had 7 Friends named Kay Walker. We used to wish each other Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas. I am keenly following the education and career of one of us who is a college student at a place oddly named [to me] Quinnipiac University & has a small photography business. My regular readers will know I’m also a keen photographer.

Kay Walkers of the world

Kay Walkers of the world

On Google Plus I have a Circle titled Kay Walkers of the World with 6 members so far! At one stage when I was a health researcher and publishing regularly, I discovered two other Kay Walkers in academia, both of whom were also in health: one in nursing research and the other in allergy. I know of three MALE Kay Walkers, but none have joined me on any of the social media sites. Where are you, guys?

While I was researching some health conditions in Australia, a person with my name presented themselves for an assessment interview, so Kay Walker interviewed Kay Walker. Another coincidence was when I was registering for the local artists’ festival [SALA] as a glass artist and discovered I had already registered as a print artist! That was a bit scary!

Cat by printmaker Kay Walker

The Cat Bed by printmaker Kay Walker

Lastly, there is also a TV director/producer in Australia with my name which explained a very strange incident where I was sent an urgent message to please contact someone on a TV show team in Sydney NSW. When I rang the number they were very puzzled to hear I was a health researcher from Adelaide, not the prospective producer they wanted to employ!!

 

Has anyone else had such amusing or alarming experiences with name-doubles?

By the way, although there are so many Kay Walkers, I have absolutely no problem with identity confusion! I know who I am. Who are those others??

Obviously lots of us die all the time, eg. there were at least ten pages of obituaries at http://www.iannounce.co.uk/United-Kingdom/23/Obituary/obit?_fstatus=search&keywords=Kay%20WALKER

We're dying everywhere!

We’re dying everywhere!

But I couldn’t find any new birth announcements- I think Kay is a little passe!

 

The sun goes down on solar

At last! The Australian government has announced the end of the cash rebate on solar power/hot water panels.

Industry heavyweights and installation contractors are said to be “furious” after the seemingly sudden announcement, but the scheme was always going to end in 2012.

I am quite glad it has finished and wish it had never started! To me this was yet another scheme to subsidise the rich to buy an expensive alternative to providing cheaper electrical power via state utilities.

Solar roof panels

Solar panels to generate 3 kW

Over the past 20 years electricity generation facilities have been sold off by the state to private enterprise, who were assumed to be able to run them more efficiently. In reality, states have sold these solid assets off to raise cash, often when a state has got into financial difficulties over unwise state banking deals (eg. the South Australian State Bank collapse) or capital works over-runs (eg. highways or hospitals). The price of electricity has climbed enormously since it was privatised and things are getting to the stage where people have had their power disconnected due to inability to pay their bills.

The projected benefits of installing solar panels for generating power at home were that not only would the panels pay for themselves over time through feeding excess electricity back into the grid, but also homeowners would get reduced charges for their regular electricity consumtion, ie. smaller bills. However, the cost of the panels has been pegged quite high by retailers, compared with average household income, and only households with spare savings or higher than average incomes can afford to install a large enough system.

Solar tower near Seville, Spain

Solar tower near Seville, Spain

It is interesting driving around the suburbs spotting solar panels on house roofs because there is a glittering array of them in the more affluent suburbs and hardly a faint sparkle in the less privileged areas. My own suburb is overall quite affluent and there are large solar arrays on at least 50% of houses, but not on ours. We couldn’t afford to install solar as well as pay the mortgage, AND having to pay off a loan to purchase the panels in the first place. A persistent salesman visited us and talked his way right through a 2 hour spiel, only ending with the statement that the total price would be $32 000, for which we would be able to obtain a personal loan (ha-hardy-ha). He didn’t mention that the panels probably don’t last much longer than 15 years and so we’d have to renew them at even greater cost later on. Since our power bills are around $2 000 p.a., we’d have to generate ALL our own power for 16 years to get the cost back and that just does not compute! Crazy world.

My take on all this is that the Federal government noticed that Australia’s power generation capacity was being outstripped by increasing consumption, so they invented a way for private individuals to fill a gap while big business could be leant on to build further, and less carbon-emitting, power stations. The bottom line is that the cost of solar energy produced by individual households is massive compared with the cost of producing it in bulk at giant solar generation stations. While the subsidy for home installations sounded lovely on the surface, there was nothing much in it for the average home-owner. Most people don’t seem to have noticed, so the government is keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit!

What I DO KNOW is that quite a few groups of entrepreneurs are lining up with power generation proposals so that Australia can meet its future power requirements in the mass market while reducing the amount of carbon emitted per kilowatt hour.

SA wind power capacity

SA wind power capacity

While wind power is forging ahead well, especially in South Australia, we don’t seem to be building any of those huge solar furnaces or arrays that we’ve seen from Spain, for example. Why is the country with the most sunshine and open space NOT got heavily into solar power already? You tell me!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Four_solaire_001.jpg

Solar furnace at Odeillo in the Pyrénées-Orientales in France

I welcome explanations from those in the know. [Please]