Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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‘Biodynamic farming’ bullshit

This was always going to be nonsense. The first time I clocked “Biodynamic” produce was as advertised by a stand selling waffles with an added egg option at the (wonderful – you should go) Maltby Street Market in London (UK).

What the fuck is a biodynamic egg?!

I exclaimed quietly to myself, assuming it was some quirk specific to this company or a small group of hipster cafés. Sadly not.

On a call with a friend recently, he asked “Guess what the latest woo nonsense I came across is?!” and told me what biodynamic farming is actually about. Friends, we’ll get to that.

In between those two times, we took a trip to Sonoma county, CA USA, with some friends – a wine weekend! Let’s tour or do a tasting at one of these cute vineyards, we thought.

Then, the first one we arrive at has “Learn all about our unique Biodynamic Farming practices!” plastered on its signs. Ohhh, nooo. We shan’t be going here. (Sometimes the skepticism thing doesn’t earn you friend points). Where we ended up was lovely though!

So, what the hell is biodynamic farming?

In summary, it’s homeopathy magic for your fertiliser, with a bit of astrology and alchemy thrown in, based on the idea that a farm is a special cosmic entity whose “energy” you can manipulate to help your crops grow better.

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QEDcon 2017

Rhys boyo and me! Ah, old now.

My 7th QED in a row came around in October 2017. The usual mess of train snacks and a bit of celebratory boozing on the train up, a different (bizarre) hotel – thanks, The Britannia! – and straight into catching up with old friends.

Volunteering last year was enjoyable, but there is always a great team managed by organiser Nicola so I felt OK giving someone else a go this time around.

Another brilliant event with lovely people and if I don’t make it in 2018 (due to being on another continent – more on that later!) – have a great 8th!

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Substituting for ‘crazy’

As I’m sure I’ve argued before, words really do matter in some contexts. They both reflect and define our realities, and can indicate to each other what we feel and think about things, as well as what’s acceptable in groups.

People might now switch off because “omg the PC police” but, try replacing “political correctness gone mad” with “people would like respect” and see how things look…

booksinsane

Yeah, no, it really isn’t

Today’s subject is the increased use of terms that usually reference mental ill-health being substituted for descriptors of the unusual and notable like baffling, unconscionable, inexplicable, astonishing, amazing, awesome, fantastic, brilliant, shocking, clever, super, awful, despicable, outrageous, indefensible, unfair – and many more besides; I am (sadly) not a thesaurus.

That’s a big range of stuff to throw words like crazy, insane, mad, batshit or mentally ill at. I think it’s more common in America (especially insane) but seems fairly ubiquitous now, especially in clickbait headlines (a root of many ills).

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Seattle Down

This June I made my way over to the Pacific North-West to see a dear friend of mine who had to move away from London last year.

I had THE BEST TIME so here’s a series of photos of me enthusiastically pointing at cool stuff, in an homage to another friend, the now world-famous (or at least in Canada) James O’Malley, who pointed at all the Canadian things.

I didn’t want to do a video, so you’ll have to make do with this! I’ll write some stuff at the end for those who are interested but first, pictures…

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Life of Pi

I’ve moved this book/film review over from my Posterous space because, well, Twitter bought them and it’s closing down. Boo!

Towards the end of 2012 I picked up, read and passed on my copy of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.

I wanted to read it before I went to see the film, because generally I prefer to compare film adaptations to books than the other way around. Once you see a film, you have your visuals and you carry them over to the book. I quite like to let my imagination (and the author’s words) do the work first time around.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book; it’s bite-sized compared to most of the 1000-odd page fantasy tomes I tend to wade through. It is at times amusing, upsetting, magical – there were some poignant lines I noticed and should have made a note of as I went along.

Before seeing the film, my impression of the story was that it was one of interpretation. The reader is left with questions and decisions to make by the end and I suppose the conclusions you come to are probably guided by the kind of person you are and the values you hold.

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Beehave in the beehive

A queen honeybee surrounded by workers.

This is an expanded post built on a pre-interview* task I completed recently – I found the material quite interesting and thought a few of my hymenoptera-fan friends would enjoy it!

In a honeybee colony, the queen is the centre of attention. She needs constant maintenance from her worker babies in order to remain happy, healthy and productive. How does she make sure they’re loyal and hardworking? 2007 Research from Professor Alison Mercer‘s lab at the University of Otago, New Zealand, offers some explanation.

Queen bees produce a cocktail of chemicals called the Queen Mandibular Pheromone (QMP), which attracts her young worker progeny and entices them to groom her. However, prolonged exposure to QMP can have some nasty side-effects and older workers actively avoid her for this very reason.

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No Yeo Valley

My brother recently sent me some interesting correspondence he’d had with Yeo Valley reps, due to stumbling across this fairly shocking content on their website:

the routine use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to treat our cows’ ailments is not permitted.

Well yes, good, but…

As a result of this Steve, the Herd Manager on one of our farms began investigating alternative options to the use of antibiotics and began studying a course on homeopathic treatments. Since then, Steve has been implementing what he has learnt by using homeopathic treatments and remedies to treat his cows for a number of issues, including warding-off flies and easing the cows’ stress levels when having their feet clipped.

The treatments have so far proved successful and, unlike with antibiotics, cows don’t build up immunity to these remedies. In fact, they encourage the cows’ immune systems to fight bugs themselves.The use of homeopathic treatments not only helps to develop a more robust immune system, it also means no withdrawal periods for milk and meat while the animal is being treated, as would be the case when antibiotics are used.

Really?? What a load of tosh.

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