Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Another entry in the Public Address Medical Journal

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  • Tim Michie,

    I've a distinct recollection of being told "Be grateful we're allowed to teach you more modern song."

    And snap on 'Sound of Silence' and that Diamond feller. Thankfully no-snap on 'Suicide is Painless' but even the tame songs can put you off. 'In an English Country Garden' anyone?

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    Heroin was once marketed as a cure for morphine addiction.

    Swallowing spiders was once regarded as a very useful way of catching flies, if the songs we sung at my primary school are anything to go by.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I saw Neil Diamond! At the Houston Rodeo. He was actually kind of great, with a knowing cheesiness. And leather pants.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Did anyone else have to sing 'Lily the Pink' at assembly, or was that just my weird-assed primary school?

    I never learned it at school,but then I never had to because I already knew it off by heart. How, you may ask? Because when I was about 4 - so the mid sixties - it was played on the radio all the time, and it was my most very favourite song, of all time. I can still remember most of the words, too.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I'm guessing someone had been told to include popular songs and so be relevant to the kids but hadn't really thought the whole thing through.

    Ah, state-sanctioned pedagogical grooviness - the long road to the final hegemony of The Wiggles. BTW, am I the only one that finds it a little weird that, in a world prone to moral panics about child molestation, three rather creepy child-imitators are Australia's all-time top-grossing act?

    The long term effect was to leave me with a lasting hatred for Neil Diamond.

    So there was a certain soundness underlying the method. Though perhaps they slightly overdid it - a detached disdain for Mr. Diamond (& all his works & pomps) would have been sufficient.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Evolution, for example, is still a theory - of course the evidence for it is substantial.

    Evolution is an established fact.

    The theory part is the mechanism - no-one really understands how or why it happens (although we know if definitely does happen).

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    And 'Lydia the Tattoo'd Lady'?

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    no-one really understands how or why it happens

    Nobody is really asking why it happens, are they? It just happens, reproduction does not produce perfect copies. It'd be a bit like asking why gravity happens. And I thought we had a pretty good idea of the how: natural selections of replicators, copying errors that give certain organisms a reproductive advantage. No?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I remember the immense relish with which all my classmates did the 'weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'll drinkadrinkadrink' part. They fell down a bit on the verses though.

    state-sanctioned pedagogical grooviness

    The seventies were (was. I hate that agreement rule) a decade in which everyone made some vague attempt to be groovy. My grandad even grew sideburns to go with his walk shorts.

    (It's too soon to 'rediscover' Neil Diamond, right? I'm all alone in thinking he wrote some good songs? 'I'm a Believer'! That's a good song!)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    And 'Lydia the Tattoo'd Lady'?

    I'd go with Groucho's version.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Neil Diamond, right? I'm all alone in thinking he wrote some good songs? 'I'm a Believer'! That's a good song!

    Cracklin' Rosie
    Cherry Cherry (She got the way to move me)
    Daydream Believer

    I believe I could go on, but Ghod there were some real turkeys. And you can have Hot August Night. I mean, feck, have you seen the cover? He appears to be miming auto-eroticism on stage, and it's, like, about four feet long. That "knowing cheesiness" has hopefully improved with the years.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I had a form 1 teacher with a guitar and a taste for top 20 hits. Back in the days before the internet, there was plenty of scope for eggcorns, though - Thorn in My Side had a line about "just put down the phone" rather than "shiver to the bone"; I Knew You Were Waiting had a bit about "when I paint the walls of disappointment", instead of thinking of all the disappointments.

    Before that, we had several waiata, lots of songs about rainbows, and Sailing Away. My sister's class had Lily the Pink.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    It'd be a bit like asking why gravity happens.

    Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory. Oldy-goody.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Nobody is really asking why it happens, are they?

    You mean apart from any researcher who wants to try to get to grips with superbugs and various other nasties that are evolving away from being affected by pennecillin and the like?

    Proper medical research using proper scientific theorising, y'see :)

    Evolution as theory and fact

    It'd be a bit like asking why gravity happens

    Well, there's plenty of debate around that, too.

    And plenty of money being spent trying to track down the elusive Bos'n Higgs and his mate Graviton, who've been on unauthorised shore leave for quite a while now.

    And I thought we had a pretty good idea of the how: natural selections of replicators, copying errors that give certain organisms a reproductive advantage. No?

    But the bazillion dollar question is why

    Why does life not just make a perfect copy? OK, we have a theory, as you have pointed out - reproductive advantage. But how did that come about? How did life know to introduce an error?

    Which leads to the really big questions: What is life? How did it come into existence? Why are we animate, and not just inanimate collections of cells? Why are we more than the sum of our parts?

    Who are we, and how did we come to be?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    You mean apart from any researcher who wants to try to get to grips with superbugs and various other nasties that are evolving away from being affected by pennecillin and the like?

    Proper medical research using proper scientific theorising, y'see :)

    Are they really asking themselves why it happens? What good could that do? If they work out how to inhibit it, it will be ultimately because they've somehow isolated how it happens, not why. I'm confused, also because then the link you give about evolution as theory and fact says nothing about whys.

    Why does life not just make a perfect copy? OK, we have a theory, as you have pointed out - reproductive advantage. But how did that come about? How did life know to introduce an error?

    Reproduction is a messy process, even for a bug, its imperfections are consistent with the elements of casuality that we find in other physical phenomena everywhere else in nature. And of course the vast majority of mutations are disadvantegeous, so there is no evolutionary advantage in the process being error-prone per se; in other words, if mutation itself was a characteristic that organisms were somehow able to lose, they would have by now. But we can't reproduce perfectly in the same way as we cannot mutate into having X-ray vision. Physics and physiology still apply.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    ... The Wiggles. BTW, am I the only one that finds it a little weird that, in a world prone to moral panics about child molestation, three rather creepy child-imitators are Australia's all-time top-grossing act?

    No offence, but how much Wiggles have you watched? For one thing, there's four of them. Plus, the major strength of the Wiggles is that they don't imitate children - they are clearly depicting adults, who occasionally interact with children. And I have it on good authority that their special Wiggly gesture (extend forefingers on each arm, make rapid back and forth hand gestures) is intended specifically so that you can always see where their hands are when they're having photos with young fans.

    I wouldn't sit down and watch The Wiggles for protracted periods by myself. But of the child-targeted media out there, I personally really rate the Wiggles as one of the better franchises. They beat the hell out of, say, Hi-5, who are genuinely a bit creepy and are sailing a little too close to the sexualisation of the presenters for my liking.

    Don't mind me, I'm still hacked off about the upcoming redesign of Dora the Explorer...

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Reproduction is a messy process, even for a bug, its imperfections are consistent with the elements of casuality that we find in other physical phenomena everywhere else in nature. And of course the vast majority of mutations are disadvantegeous, so there is no evolutionary advantage in the process being error-prone per se; in other words, if mutation itself was a characteristic that organisms were somehow able to lose, they would have by now.

    A better argument is that imperfect reproduction is a good way of ensuring a range of physical characteristics within a population. Within a population, as long as the median physiological characteristics of the population cope nicely with the environment, you're fine. Outliers (individuals with atypical physiologies) will usually be less successful at reproducing, as you note. But if the environment changes, the presence of outliers enables the population as a whole to converge on the form most advantageous to the new environment.

    Or: you don't want perfect, asexual reproduction all the time, because you need some variation in the population in case the environment changes. Yes, severe mutation is likely to be severely disadvantageous; but minor mutation isn't likely to be bred out too quickly.

    This is just a point about how a minor degree of mutation can be adaptive when considered at a population level. Mind you, it's astonishing what's adaptive when you look at it at a population level. ;)

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    A better argument is that imperfect reproduction is a good way of ensuring a range of physical characteristics within a population.

    Evolution doesn't care about the population, nor about long term surviva of the species, it cares about the single organism's ability to reproduce one more time. Since it's statistically better for the individual not to mutate (most mutations are bad for ya), it increases your chances of reproduction. Hence if it was somehow possible for a "stop mutating" mutation to develop, it would give an advantage to the carriers, and soon enough nobody would mutate anymore. But there is nothing that happens perfectly and always identically in nature, not even asexual reproduction is mutation-free.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I personally really rate the Wiggles as one of the better franchises.

    I'm just saying: Yo Gabba Gabba. It is rad. Biz Markie teaches you how to beatbox.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Evolution doesn't care about the population

    We get no love even from abstract ideas?

    Hence if it was somehow possible for a "stop mutating" mutation to develop, it would give an advantage to the carriers, and soon enough nobody would mutate anymore.

    Until their failure to mutate led to them all dying out from their environment changing or something.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    No offence, but how much Wiggles have you watched? For one thing, there's four of them. Plus, the major strength of the Wiggles is that they don't imitate children - they are clearly depicting adults, who occasionally interact with children.

    You got me on the numbers - if only I'd taken the time to remember the colours. As it happens, I've been subjected to enough Wiggles to find them annoyingly smarmy - though, as you note, less so than their many imitators.

    What bugs me is the way their franchise is protected against even well-meant parody, such as the group of volunteer firefighters at Ararat in Victoria a few years back, who let it be known that they were preparing a "Giggles" skit as part of a fundraiser for bushfire victims. The Wiggles' lawyers served them with a cease and desist order, along with a demand to surrender their costumes. Intimidated by such formidable legal clout they quickly complied. I find that downright creepy.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Evolution doesn't care about the population, nor about long term surviva of the species, it cares about the single organism's ability to reproduce one more time.

    Evolution is actually a process without a care in the world. It is not a directed process so it has no over-riding direction; it tends to be reflected in the survival of individuals with traits that better suit them to the environment in which they find themselves.

    It annoys me that some people see humans as 'the pinnacle of evolution' rather than just a side-effect of cumulative selective pressures. We are just not that special*

    *PAS readers & posters excepted, natch

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    @Jack - couldn't agree more with what you said about the Wiggles and Hi-5. I didn't know about the re-design of Dora, but it was a favourite of my daughter.
    [Disclaimer: I've been to a live Wiggles concert in addition to watching both Wiggles & Hi-5 on TV!]

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I have to own up and admit that the very brief "I'm a cow" song on an early Wiggles Video (Big Red Car possibly?) is one of my favourite songs ever.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Evolution doesn't care about the population, nor about long term surviva of the species,

    Evolution doesn't care any more than gravity does. ;)

    it cares about the single organism's ability to reproduce one more time

    No, what makes the difference is an organism's ability to have offspring that survive to be able reproduce themselves.

    ence if it was somehow possible for a "stop mutating" mutation to develop, it would give an advantage to the carriers, and soon enough nobody would mutate anymore.

    Only if the environment remained static. As soon as the environment changes - and the one thing you can guarantee is, the environment will change - a perfectly asexual reproducing being is going to be at a relative disadvantage to an imperfectly reproducing one with a greater variation in the population. Adaptation is inter-generational rather than intra-generational; the environmental change applies selection pressure to the population, and members more suited to the new environment gain a comparative advantage in survival/reproduction.

    Plus: there's no such thing as absolute advantage/disadvantage in nature; it's all about how you're doing relative to all other organisms competing for the same resources. If everyone's the same, it's basically going to be a lottery; if everyone's just a little bit different, you can expect small relative advantages to be reflected in genetic change over time.

    So I'm arguing that a purely asexual reproduction isn't adaptive. Even species that can reproduce asexually (say, most plants) also usually reproduce sexually, as it's advantageous to have some variation within the population.

    [Disclaimer: I've been to a live Wiggles concert in addition to watching both Wiggles & Hi-5 on TV!]

    We saw the Wiggles earlier this year. Best atmosphere at a concert I've been to in years. Standout moment was my five-year old turning to me in astonishment and saying "Daddy! They're REAL!"

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

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