Friday, 14 October 2011

Do 275,000 Swiss people engage in Zoophilia?

275,000 Swiss people have sexual relationships with animals, a survey revealed

Up to 275,000 Swiss people — out of a population of 8million — have sex with animals, a survey claimed last year.

I read these stories today and was startled by this fact that was thrown out in the Daily Mail and The Sun. Extraordinary stories which I thought may have received more coverage when the Survey happened.

So I did a little research and found this article in a Swiss paper - which appears to be the on the same story from a few days earlier. Not sure if it's the source of the UK articles, but it does state -
Despite it being against the law, last June Tages Anzeiger reported that an estimated 275,000 people practised zoophilia in Switzerland. The Zurich paper said that 5 percent of Swiss males and 2 percent of Swiss women had sexual relationships with animals.
Theres a link to the relevant article for sourcing this claim - which is here.
Now I never did German at school - but the Google Translate version of the article seems to lay out pretty clearly the basis for this "Survey" number
When Albert Kinsey wrote in the fifties, his report, for which he examined 20,000 interviews with the sexual behavior of Americans, gave at 8 percent of men and 3.5 percent of the women, at least once to have had sexual contact with animals . Because at that time such acts were punished, it was assumed, reasonably certain that the information provided. Mid-seventies, the figures were then due to recent - albeit less - Investigations corrected downwards: It is now estimated that 5 percent of men and 2 percent of the female population at some time sexual intercourse with an animal, usually in the form of orally- genital contact or masturbation of the animal. 
Extrapolated to Switzerland means: There are approximately 275,000 zoophiles. Where it is not at all a rural phenomenon - in the face of hundreds of thousands of pets in the cities, the availability is also ensured since. And zoophiles are by no means marginalized or retarded, but how to become white, formed on the large part.
 So an authoritative "Survey" which the British press quotes as happening last year as a source, is nothing of the sort!
It's a vague extrapolation of a number based on Kinsey's old research, and stated for discussion in a conference speech. Nothing more, nothing less.

 Gotta love the British press

Edit: I think the Original 'Research' comes from here  I believe (also in German) which states the same assumptions, as the article. I can find no other mentions of this 275,000 number so unless disproved - I'd assume this was it.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Torchwood : Miracle Day - a rambling review

In a diversion from the normal crap I come out with I've decided to post some rambling and inconsequential thoughts on the latest Opus of Russell T. Davies. Torchwood Miracle Day.

For those not in the know. Torchwood is a spin-off from the long running UK sci-fi series Doctor Who. Originated and penned by the series producer of the time Russell T. Davies, it was marketed as a more adult and grown-up series than the mostly family friendly Doctor.
The central character being Captain Jack Harkness who originated in the new Doctor who reboot, as a now immortal person who leads a small team of alien investigators, it grew in popularity over it's first 3 series, and also moved channels until the third series premièred as a 5 day event series called Torchwood children of earth on the main BBC one channel, which, though flawed, got generally good reviews, and provided a dramatic, human and dark bit of sci-fi on prime time TV.

Personally - I never watched Torchwood until Children of Earth came on the BBC, and I thought this 3rd series was pretty good, so I was hoping the new series would be pretty good. The series concluded on UK TV a week or two ago, after a 10 week 10 episode run, and, lets say it out front, despite sticking with it to the end I've been disappointed.

Lets start with a bit of background. After the success of the third series The new series was built on Davies attempting to bring the series to the US, and he created it in collaboration with a US producer, and represents a niche UK sci-fi series trying to move into the mainstream. With the relocation to the US, comes a number of american actors, a new style of show, a bigger budget and more episodes for a series. The biggest name of which being Bill Pulman, no stranger to facing aliens, and whole new locations across the US.

So without further adieu - lets get on with the review

The Story
This was the big falling down for me. The initial concept was great, the "No-one dies" concept was a pretty good starting point, and a couple of the early episodes explored the ramifications pretty effectively, along with some decent adult body horror backing it up (especially in the first episode).

However the execution over 10 episodes felt incredibly uneven and ill-paced throughout, after a barnstorming opening episode in which lots of stuff happens rather quickly, our main characters are stuck on a plane not actually doing much, while the deeper ramifications are explored through the doctor character (I've already forgotten her name).
After the first episode the plot development crawls through it's iterations at a snails pace, a neatish actiony bit breaking into some offices, the plot goes back into stasis where it takes 3 episodes to infiltrate and find out what is happening in the overflow camps. This is honestly when I started to get a little bored with the thing and wonder where it is all going.
I also found the reappearance of the Death Camps motif Davies had used before several times to be a bit "what? again?" as he's used them before as plot devices in Children of Earth and in the who episode Turn Left.
Anyway - once the death camps are passed we go into a curious present/past episode involving pretty much Just Gwen and Jack. Frankly this episode jars immensely with as this is where Jacks character morphs into someone who lives at all costs, and is pretty amoral and the relationship with Gwen seems pretty much broken - yet they suddenly are best friends again at the end.

While the two bicker in the present we are treated to a gay romance Jack was in during the 20s in the US.
There's some way overdone love scenes - I was reminded of how out of place the Skywalker/Amidala love scenes felt in star wars - it just broke the entire pace and was overdone. Some tensionless action, and a whole lot of WTF has this to do with anything.

The series picks up a bit for the last 3 episodes IMO, but my caring level was pretty lowish by this point.
Q from star trek turns up with some fun lines as the head of the CIA, a Gruff no-nonsense boss that's a lot of fun actually. There's some decent tension and we finally get a sense of simple fear while Gwen tries to hide her seriously ill dad. That's all pretty well done.
The CIA offices seem to have been lifted direct from "24", and they seem to have carelessly drafted in the mole too, the whole CIA bit does feel a bit too much like 24 to be honest.

The final reveal of the Miracle was a huge "is that it?", I understand it's supposed to be all mysterious and that, but the terror alluded to in the episode where an investigator sees the miracle and jumps of a roof just wasn't there.
Final episode was pretty good, dramatic, tension filled, but it needed to be spectacular to make up for my lost interest personally. It also left to many plot threads hanging (presumably hoping for another series).

The Good
  • I said it earlier, but the root concept was good, if unevenly shown.
  • The switching between US/UK was all right
  • Oswald Danes's character (Bill Pulman) was well played throughout, suitably sinister and greasy. 
  • Likewise the red-headed PR woman was funnily sinister ( forget her name).
  • Likewise the head of CIA character played by John de Lancie was god fun.
  • Was nice to see an epic sci-fi story which didn't really leap to the alien invasion card.
  • There was some flashes of some neat drama, in some episodes. The dramatic character deaths (which appears to be a Torchwood hallmark) were pretty well done, and the bits in wales where Gwen was hiding her dad were properly tense.
The Bad
  • Slow plot
  • Russel T. Davies incredibly unsubtle social commentary. Yes Russ we can see how the financial destruction mirrors the current economy. We see how you think US medical insurance is far less fair than the NHS. We see how you think profiteering drugs companies are evil, and how bad extraordinary rendition is. We don;t really want to be hit over the head with it while waiting for some plot. The best fiction inserts its commentary far more subtly so it doesn't feel preachy in my opinion, this failed at that.
  • Despite Jack claiming his immortality had nothing to do with his blood throughout -it suddenly switches and his blood is incredibly important at the end.
  • The plot with Oswald Danes effectively becoming a cult leader seemed to really go nowhere important. 
  • Similar to the above point, around about the second episode we were hinted at riots, death cults, society collapsing - we really didn't get a good sense of the society outside falling to pieces.
  • As I noted before - death camps again?

Over all
The whole thing was a bit of a let down. There was some neat bits, and some neat characters. Jack and Gwen'c characters were all right, the new Torchwood characters felt a bit lame to me, but were passable in their fashion. It all comes back to the pacing for me. Series like 24 manage to sustain tension across many more episodes than Torchwood by having heavy drama throughout and around each episode, tying it up with a feeling of achievements inbetween. This Russell singularly failed to do.
In the final analysis there was probably enough events and story for a 6 hour mini series. It reminded me of one of those 3 hour films where at the end you think it could easily lose an hour, I think Miracle Day could have easily lost 3-4 episodes with an actual improvement to the end product

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Response to a Peter Saunders' Tweet

Yesterday in a fit of mild annoyance I tweeted the following. did she arrive at her 60k Fewer abortions? The only thing I can think is 30% with mental problems out of 200k. 
To be honest I probably shouldn't have appended #stupid, but I was running out of characters, and I wanted to imply the possible reasoning I propose was daft. But I was questioning how Nadine Dorries arrived at her oft quoted statement that 60k fewer abortions will be performed after the amendment. If anyone was offended by it I apologise unreservedly.

But I am genuinely interested in how Nadine Dorries's proposed changes will stop nearly one in three women considering an abortion from going through with it. It seems a completely extraordinary claim to make without substantial, and large supporting evidence.

I actually got a reply tweet later in the day from a twitter account purporting to be from a Dr. Peter Saunders
notjarvis  60k fewer abortions based on differences in average european abortion rates -  

The twitter account profile says  - CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship.

Now Peter Saunders is a name that's been in the news a bit as someone who advised Nadine Dorries - the MP at the centre of the proposed amendment. I'm unsure what I've done to receive such attention, but I'll gladly respond as I see fit to the tweet (and I couldn't fit my response in a tweet so here it is).

"Based on differences between average european abortion rates"

OK? Thanks for the answer - I presume the two links you posted will lay out exactly how that figure was arrived at.
Link 1 is to this page ->

It basically lays out that pjsaunders blog supports the amendment and reiterates the claim made by Nadine Dorries without any discussion of it.

 Nadine Dorries ... believes this amendment could reduce the total number of abortions by as much as a third, or 60,000 a year. 

So I'm unsure as to why the doctor included it. Maybe its as a reference point for his point of view. Anyway, that's all pretty irrelevant to any discussion of this 60,000 figure.

The second linked article disturbed me slightly to see it included in this debate. it is linked here.
The article is a discussion about the use of informed consent in other countries.
It lays out some ideas about informed consent used in other countries. The informed Consent talked about in this article is this from the first line (my bold).
Abortion legislation in many countries already includes mandatory counselling for women
Already I'm a bit nervous, as Nadine Dorries has insisted again and again that the counselling she is talking about is not I'm not quite sure how this article relates to her amendment.

There is actually some data at the bottom of this one in a table. it's still absolutely unclear to me how this relates to the 60,000 claim as we have already established the Informed Consent in the countries listed is totally different to what Nadine Dorries is proposing.
All I know is Dr. Saunders said to me
 60k fewer abortions based on differences in average european abortion rates

One way would be to take the headline figure of ~180000 abortions a year carried out in the UK and assume we would totally drop to "informed Consent" levels I suppose.
Average abortions / 1000 women in non-informed Consent countries = 18.1
Average abortions / 1000 women in "Informed Consent" countries = 11.9
11.9 / 18.1 = 0.657
0.657 x 180,00 is close to 12000 i.e. a 60,000 drop I suppose.
As I've already stated it's a pretty bogus comparison as Nadine repeatedly states she is not proposing Mandatory counselling, and this sample is rather directly comparing non-mandatory to mandatory counselling countries, and from the sound of it some of them rather pressure women towards not having an abortion.

If it's calculated this way , you could also argue that the effects of different pregnancy rates in different countries are not taken into account in the tables compared, so it's at very best an incredibly simplistic metric.

Another problem with the comparison is if you look at the examples of Informed Consent offered in the article, the least pressured one, that sounds most like what Nadine Dorries claims her amendment amounts to (voluntary balanced counselling) would be the French example.

Comparing the UK directly to the French is illuminating in this case I believe

CountryCounselling offeredCooling-off periodNumber of abortionsNumber of women aged 15-44Abortion Rate
FranceCounselling on Alternatives7 Days208, 80012,282,35317
United Kingdom--181,60010,682,35317

Interestingly similar  n'est-ce pas?

To be honest I'm still rather mystified by the whole thing. It seems extraordinary to me that an elected MP can make various hugely dramatic claims with no-one really calling her on it, and it not appearing to be based in a solid grounding of facts.. 
I'd still love to see some evidence for this number as what Dr. Peter Saunders posted to me makes little sense of it, or if it is the direct source it's a pretty obvious case of comparing Apples and Oranges, and declaring there are 60,000 pears in the banana grove.

Late Edit:
After I created this blog I tweeted a link to it to Peter Saunders's Twitter account (not sure if he's read this blog. Received another reply, I reproduce both for reference
My Tweet:
drpetersaunders still not sure as to where this 60k comes from. The article you linked compares mandatory counselling
His Reply appears to confirm my guesses in this blog to some extent.
notjarvis Yes it is obviously only an estimate but compulsory counselling is unlikely to be much more effective than voluntary
This seems to me to be an extraordinary statement, especially when an elected MP is repeating this claim regularly. I replied again
  Really? I find that hard to believe without some compelling evidence. Especially in systems like Germany's is described. 
I await another reply. Out of interest (again from the Informed Consent article he linked my to),  part of the comparison to create this number is to systems like Germany's which..... (I've added bit in italics).
Germany : [Mandatory] Counselling is designed to protect the unborn life, so the counsellor is required to inform the woman that the unborn have a right to life, and to try and convince her to continue with the pregnancy. The counsellor cannot force this choice on the woman. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

We need Independent Advice for everything

It's come as a bit of a surprise to me as I thought we in the UK were pretty relaxed about the whole issue of abortion rights etc.
Nadine Dorries MP and Frank Field MP's main current beef is that the charities which perform the procedure also provide advice on options etc. and should be stopped from doing so in favour of "Independent" services. -
She also said
"The important thing is that the government have highlighted and agreed that counselling by organisations that are paid to conduct the procedures is not independent [...] That's very reassuring"

And Mr. Field went as far as to say :
"It is a general principle that advice and services should be separate," [...] I have no evidence of [biased advice]. But we had no evidence of mis-selling of pensions until people investigated." (Guardian)

I suppose the implication is that the charities are pushing more women into abortions to make huge bumper profits for their charity.
Now I would never, ever, go so far as to say that an elected member of our country is smearing an entire sector with vague unsubstantiated innuendo's of downright dishonesty with no evidence.
I'm sure that may be going to far, even if I am a supporter of evidence based policy (which there appears to be not much of around here).
Therefore I'm going to take at absolute face value the suggestion that advice and services must be completely separate.
As a result I've decided to petition the government to make the rules consistent when it comes to treatments offered. As far as I can see it there are plenty of providers who currently provide advice on things that they have a hand in providing.
In order to be fair we need to make it a legal requirement for these things to be treated equally in all cases. I decided to start with dental treatment.
Heres the wording of my petition
It has recently been established in proposed amendments to the health care bill that organisations that are paid to conduct procedures are apparently not independent enough to advise on procedures.
Therefore I propose that all patients of NHS dentists have a legal right to receive counselling and advice independent of the dentist who performs the treatment, before the treatment is performed.
Indeed there is currently nothing to stop dentists proposing unnecessary treatment for patients as they receive money for each piece of dental work completed.
This makes sense and is consistent with other pieces of legislation that are currently being proposed
I think this is a completely logical extension to the proposed amendments, and I look forward to Nadine Dorries's support when the petition goes up.
In fact this should be extended to NHS treatment (performed by all willing providers) when the NHS is remodelled under the current governments NHS legislation. Doubtless, to be completely consistent Nadine and Frank will also fully support my next petition at that point.

If you wish to sign the petition - please look here  -


Monday, 22 August 2011

In Which I proclaim the Death of Satire

Tom Lehrer, was famously quoted as saying that political satire died the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I never thought satire could be dead, until recently.

I've been trying to think of something vaguely satirical to write on this blog recently, and I failed miserably as I couldn't satirise the ridiculousness of the truth. I think I'm going to have to declare the end of satire as I know it.

Here comes a few examples, of things I tried to think of something funny to think of, but failed miserably as they are far too absurd to start with (apologies in advance as these are a bit UK centric).

  1. "Big Society" Tsar quits, as he doesn't have the free time.
    Explanation may be needed here for foreigners and other weirdos. "The Big Society" is the current government's key idea, basically for voluntary organisations and people in general to take more part in helping their local society etc. Which is fine as far as it goes, except most people see it as a thinly veiled way to stop providing local services in the hope people do it for free. And it's generally been an utter failure as people worry more about their jobs than about how they can give back more....
    In a society where people work more than ever before, this is found funny. The fact a person who was championing this idea, had to quit as he didn't have the free time is deeply hilarious.
  2. ATOS Get's contract to run IT for Paralympic games.
    The IT company ATOS has been in the news here (in the UK) recently as it has been the administrator of "Work Capability" assessments, which are an software based test for determining whether a person claiming Incapacity Benefit is capable of going back to work. (Incapacity benefit is a benefit that goes to people incapable of work, largely through disability, but also possible through severe injury, long term illness etc.)
    The test has been roundly criticised, by many in the press, users of the service, and MPS. Not least because 40% of it's
    decisions are overturned if people appeal.
    Indeed an MP said in Parliament ATOS assessments cause "Fear and Loathing" in claimants.

    The absurdity that they are put in charge of a key part of an event that is intended to portray disability in a positive light is quite staggering....
  3. Mcdonalds, Pepsico and Diageo take a key role in UK Health policy
    Yup, those bastions of healthy eating form part of the government advisory groups on obesity, and alcohol problems......
  4. Catholic Church Child protection officer is paedophile....
    I can imagine the conversation in head office before appointing him
    "After the damage that paedophilia scandal has done to the church's image, we'd better appoint a child protection officer to make sure it never happens again.
    Shouldn't we check that he's not a paedophile first?
    A paedophile in the Catholic church? How likely is that?"
  5. Tory Government Advisor declares (in the midst of recession) that most people have never had it so good.
    Now many people down the years have characterised members of the Tory party as a little out of touch with the common man, being a little posh, or rich. Often this is satirised.............but who needs to when peers like this prat talk utter rubbish.
  6. Sacked News of the Screws Executives get offered jobs in Siberia
    For your crimes against Journalism Carole Malone, You are being sent to Gulag smile.gif
  7. Of Course it must be noted that Iran recently tried to make their own entry into the satirical comment market when it declared that it wished to send human rights observers to the UK in response to the recent protests. (Although I'm not sure if that should count as I suspect the schadenfreude was strong with this one)