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Doodlecat's Homepage

Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

I would love to be able to say that Doodlecat is all my own work, but it isn’t. Much of the outdoors content is courtesy of the splendid people who participate in the annual TGO Challenge (there is a section entirely devoted to this unique event) and many others.

To help in tracking down that elusive morsel on Doodlecat, the search facility under the title bar above is tailored to help you find it, either on this home page (Doodlecat's Blog) all the rest of the site (Main Site) or – if all else fails - the internet!

So have a rummage around the old cat basket and enjoy your time with us!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Green and pleasant land?

Whilst many southerners ( me included, I must confess) fulminate about so-called "wind farms" in remote upland areas, few seem to comment on the defacement of many of our beautiful village roofscapes by the unfettered proliferation of solar panels. I have observed this with a growing feeling of despair.

Whilst out with Miss W this afternoon I was stunned to see one of the views that I enjoy obliterated. What I expected was a view across a meadow (usually with a few cows or sheep) to an exceptionally fine group of victorian farm buildings.

What I saw was this.

view of solar panels in field obscuring farm
Victorian farm goes green

The irony is that our local power station (Sizewell B) is capable of supplying the daily domestic needs of every home in Suffolk - and Norfolk too. In fact it produces as much power as every windturbine in the UK put together, around 3% of the total daily requirement of the UK

With the removal of subsidies for these solar horrors (in part at least) hopefully we can expect to see a similar approach to the wind industry from Cameron, Osborne & co. The squeals and squawks of anguish and indignation from the double glazing solar energy salesmen was music to my ears. De-subsidise the lot, I say. Then our money can be spent on reliable, secure energy generation.

We don't need this - just Sizewell C, please. And a few more.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lies, damn lies ...

A Pork Pie
Phil's home-made Market Harborough pie
... and statistics.

The latest scare being the shock news that eating the odd bacon sarnie will render you 19% more likely to die of pancreatic cancer.

Bollocks. 19% of what? Well an increase of 19% over and above what it would be if you never ate bacon. This provokes two questions:

1) How did the "researchers" ensure that their control group had never touched a bacon roll or pork pie?

2) The base risk of contracting pancreatic cancer is infinitesimal until you are into your seventh decade, when it rises to (wait for it) around 0.75% - tops.

19% of 0.75 is 0.14%. So eating red meat, pork pies and enjoying a bacon buttie is increasing your risk overall, not by 19%, but by 0.14%. One might argue that such a small difference falls within the margins of error that any survey has. Not so dramatic now, is it?

Spoof newspaper scare story
A typical health scare
Doesn't make for an arresting headline either.

Burrowing a little deeper we begin to find the truth - the "study" was nothing of the sort. It was in fact an analysis of other people's research which may well have been looking at other factors and with differing controls and standards. From the Independent:

They analysed 11 studies involving over 6,000 people with pancreatic cancer. The results showed red meat consumption also increased the risk of the cancer for men by 29 per cent for each daily serving of 120 grams. But there was no significant increase in risk for women, raising doubts about the robustness of the finding.

I suspect that the researchers are more concerned about the robustness of their funding than their finding - note that they analysed 11 studies by others, not their own. No doubt they will now obtain the funds to embark on a long and fruitful study of their very own.

Cynic - moi?

Not really. As what the press would term a "cancer survivor" myself I am all for good solid research - but I am also all for honest presentation of the facts. It is regrettable that researchers feel compelled to present their findings in such sensationalist terms to get the backing that they need. This sort of misrepresentation of the real facts can sometimes get out of hand and destroy people's livelihoods. I bet our local butchers, pig and beef farmers loved it - not.

And if you think I'm over-egging this point, cast your mind back to another case of over-egging by Edwina Currie. That destroyed many egg producers almost overnight, both feathered and human.

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