Tag Archive | science

In the Hands of the Prophets

Are you okay?
Okay? I’ve forgotten okay. I haven’t seen okay in what seems like years.

Episode Summary

Vedek Winn visists the station and causes a controversy when she declares that Keiko O’Brien’s teaching of science about the wormhole amounts to blasphemy as far as Bajoran spirituality is concerned, since referring to the Prophets as alien entities dishonours the celestial temple.

Winn manages to turn all the Bajorans on the station against the Star Fleet personnel including the Bajoran engineering staff, and the school is temporarily closed down.

It all comes to a head when the school is bombed and when Vedek Bareil (the much more progressive and forward thinking Vedek and favourite for the position of Kai) arrives, there is an attempt on his life, as well as another murder – all of which Winn has cunningly orchestrated behind the scenes.

Kira, who had originally supported Winn’s position ends up seeing with painful clarity exactly what sort of woman she is and what she has done, and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get what she wants.


The argument over the teaching of the prophets is clearly a metaphor for the teaching of creationism in American schools (and, to a lesser extent, in private schools in the UK and around the world – my contact Jonny Scaramanga has been working tirelessly to expose the use of ACE teaching materials in the UK. I wrote about this a while ago in “Culture Clash“, although I have changed my mind considerably since I wrote that post – having looked at the details of the curriculum and heard the voices of the affected students).

On the Station

These DS9 posts were originally started on the blog “The Bajoran Exile” that I wrote on Open Diary way back when. I didn’t ever get as far as this last episode of season 1 there before we moved away to the place without an internet connection and meanwhile the platform shut down entirely. So I’m pleased to have managed to resurrect it and finish the season.

DS9 was not my favourite emanation of Star Trek but I grew to love it, especially as I recognised in Kira a fellow angry and feisty survivor, and readily identified with her.

I have found Star Trek in all its forms to be a really useful metaphor and window into life, the universe and everything. It means that I have an almost endless supply of topics to write on, which as you know I find cathartic and helpful, so I’ll enjoy carrying on into season 2 and beyond. (Watch this space!)

Now that I have amalgamated all my blogs, it means I’ll be writing about DS9 and Voyager in the same place, so I hope that’s not too confusing. If it’s Star Trek overload, I apologise, but you may be in the wrong place. I can’t de-nerdify my inner geek. It’s out now and proud; it’s the core of my being!


How bad science misled chronic fatigue syndrome patients

I get all my medical news from twitter, and I haven’t been on for a while (because typing on an android screen keyboard is too much like hard work when your hands and wrists have no strength), so I missed the news that Wellesley’s team had been forced by court order to release the data from their faudulent pace study earlier this year – Thank-you to everyone that made that happen. Full details in the article below.https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/21/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-pace-trial/

As everyone was agreeing on twitter when I looked last night, it’s about time to hear some very loud apologies from journalists, the medical establishment, and especially Simon Wellesley himself. But we won’t be holding our breath.

My question now is, when so much evidence was already out there, and every other medical authority – including the World Health Organisation – agree that ME is a neurological disorder with a possible viral component, how on earth did the UK allow psychiatry, of all the inappropriate disciplines, to take over our ‘care’ at all, ever, in the first place, let alone for so long. And when will they finally be kicked off the case? It would be difficult to find any doctor, team, study, or discipline more thoroughly discredited.

Ohana Home Education Yahoo Group

When I started home educating, the internet was fairly new, and so at the time (1999) the main source of networking between home educators was ‘e-groups’ which eventually got taken over by Yahoo groups.

I know that almost everybody now has migrated over to Facebook, but although I am obviously there (and Ohana Home Education has a presence there), I’m not a big fan and don’t particularly like entrusting photos or files to them, and so while lots of yahoo groups now stand empty or quiet, I have decided to revive one of my groups as a handy place to store files and links that may be of use to home educators.


The group is, surprisingly enough, is called Ohana Home Education and you can find it here: https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/OhanaHE/info

There are already lots of files and links there. Mainly they are related to lapbooking, unit studies, home economics and some religious topics (mainly relating to Messianic Judaism, celebrating the festivals, cooking etc.), but I hope in future to add resources and worksheets on all other topics, and anybody is free to contribute.

It is not particularly meant to be a discussion/ support group, although if it does get used that way it would also be OK. But there are of course lots of other places online (especially, inevitably, on Facebook) for that sort of thing. One of these days I will get round to making a list of the most helpful groups.

So please do go on over and take a look, and if you would like to join to contribute/ make use of what is there, please do make sure to confirm when you apply that you are a home educator. Feel free to suggest as well the topics that you would like to see there.

I know that, when I was first home educating, I very much appreciated the resources that other home educators had made available for free, so it is all good to make sure that there are free resources still available for a new generation of home educators.

Birthday Fun


We have a birthday coming up this week, and we’re heading out to a second showing of Star Wars as one of the birthday treats. It’s always a challenge to organise presents and parties for birthdays so close to Christmas, and it’s difficult to make them memorable, as they’re normally quiet, family affairs.

When birthdays fall during the ‘school’ week, though, it is nice as home educators to have the freedom to take time off from academics to go on outings, or just to chill out for the day.


I thought I would share this birthday memory from the Svengelska Hemskolan archive:

We’ve been gearing up for a birthday this week, so we have managed only to get very little formal ‘schooly’ work done. On Tuesday we received a CD of stories and nursery rhymes from a toddler-group we used to go to (produced and recorded by the group and the Library service), which proved to be really popular. It reminded me that we used to sit down everyday and have music-time with nursery rhymes and action songs, but we haven’t done it for a long while.

On Wednesday, the birthday boy got to choose all our activities, so we ended up watching “The Blue Planet” on DVD (one of his presents) most of the morning, and in the afternoon we went for a walk in Salcey Forest with a group of friends. The children particularly enjoyed running and jumping along the tree-top ‘Elephant’ walk and jumping in muddy puddles! (Mummy was slightly less enthusiastic!)


More recently, I have tried to re-introduce music time or circle time as part of our ‘Morning Time‘ (see Cindy Rollins’ lovely Ordo Amoris blog for details.) But right now all our music books (we love the books from A & C Black such as ‘Okki-Toki-Unga’ and ‘The Jolly Herring’ amongst others) are all in storage so I’m not sure what shape our music time will take from now on. Dragon-tamer has discovered that he loves the Beatles, so we may learn some of their songs to sing, just for fun. I remember learning ‘Yellow Submarine’ at school myself. Thank goodness for the internet! I don’t know how we ever coped without it!

Stuff we’re using


October isn’t over but since I never know when I will have enough energy to get on the laptop, I thought I would write an update now.

There are lots of things we’re struggling with at the moment, lots of things we would like to do but haven’t been able. So instead of dwelling on the negative, I’ll let you know what we have done, and what we are currently enjoying.

In English, we’re currently going through Galore Park’s “So You Want to Learn Junior English” Book 2. We don’t bother with writing as it slows the boys down, we just go through it orally. Sometimes, when there’s a point of grammar that they need to see, I’ll write it up on the whiteboard. We’re also using Jolly Grammar books 1 and 2 for spelling (the grammar worksheets are variable. I like that they’re photocopiable, but we only bother copying the good ones.)

For literature, we’ve been listening to The Railway Children by E. Nesbit and read by Virginia Leishman, which we downloaded from Audible. I decided to join as a member and pay monthly as it works out quite a good deal. This particular book would have cost quite a bit more as an individual purchase.

For History, we have been enjoying the Librivox reading of Our Island Story. I have already read this book twice to the children over the years, and it is a family favourite. Having somebody else read it aloud is obviously really helpful in our situation. We finished the Middle Ages with another film, just for fun: “Les Visiteurs” which is a French comedy about a noble and his servant who are mistakenly thrown forwards in time by a wizard. Very silly but lots of fun. At the moment we’re going through the reign of Elizabeth I.

For Geography, all we are managing at the moment is a daily page from “You Too Can Change the World”  by Spragget and Johnstone which is a children’s version of Operation World (there is also another version for older children, Window on the World). Each page gives a basic introduction to a country or ethnic group and lists points for prayer. One country that has captured the children’s imagination is North Korea, so we may look more deeply at some point. I do also have an old KS3 Geography series by Collins educational consisting of 3 books (United Kingdom, Europe and The World) but haven’t started that yet. When we do, I’ll let you know if it’s any good.

We went out once with the new HE Teens group to the cinema to see the Martian. I’m not sure to what extent that can be counted as educational! (Again, when I’m more well we might follow it up with some real science!) But everyone enjoyed it and I’m hoping that eventually the group will become a bit more active. Being so isolated makes it difficult to connect with other teens.

We have dabbled a bit with Shakespeare over the last year – usually I read the story in one of the story books for younger children, then again in something more complex like Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and then rather than struggling through the text, we find a good film version before going any more deeply, and then only if it’s enjoyable – the last thing I want to do is put them off. So this term we are looking at Henry V and we watched Kenneth Brannagh’s version with a star-studded cast including a very young Christian Bale!

For Science, we’re still going through Apologia’s Botany, minus most of the experiments. We may go through the experiments another time when I’m more well, as a fun way of revision.

That’s pretty much it. Field trips at the moment are reduced to one trip to the library every week plus their evening activities which, at the moment, consist of Drama, Scouts, Bellringing and Local Radio.

Over to You:

What are you doing this month? How do you manage illness and disability with home education?

Climate Change finals

I’ve come to the end of the Climate Change course, I aced the week 8 quiz but i basically failed the two-part final quiz, so i was a little bit disappointed though I wasn’t surprised. Altogether i found it interesting and enjoyable, but it was hard! I realised I am scientifically challenged!

I wanted to share with you the week 8 final feedback video – if you have a spare half hour it’s worth watching. Also, despite my own difficulties, I would recommend the course. If and when it runs again, have a go – even if you just watch the videos and do nothing else, it’d be worth doing.

I liked that Professor Fenton is optimistic – we have all the scientific, energy solutions to prevent the apocalyptic scenario of climate change, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice, ocean acidification etc.

The problem is essentially social, economic and political.

I’m not a fan of governments or governmental control by any means, and I tend to think that they are essentially using climate change as a tool of control without actually doing anything substantial to deal with the real problems. And then there’s also the problem of the fact that governments are so often in bed with big businesses which don’t want to change.

If governments were really taking climate change seriously, they would be massively incentivising people to do the right thing wherever possible – by subsidising *customers* who would like to choose renewable energy but can’t afford to, which would in turn encourage fossil fuel companies to move into environmentally friendlier fuels for example? maybe subsidising organic vegetable growers?

Everybody needs to do their part, and everybody needs to be convinced and get on board, and I don’t think governments are the ones to do it.

I liked the idea that arts and humanities can play their part to change people’s minds and thereby to change their behaviour. (And I liked that my slightly hippy-oriented ideas about living in community, living on the land and planting, recycling, re-using, being vegetarian / vegan and so on are all justified. Our household carbon footprint for example was a fraction of somebody living alone for example.) But the real challenge is that we need to act fast to turn the tide.

I loved that Professor Fenton was not anti-human at all, and he said that we could in effect live very happily and healthily even as 9 billion or however many we become, *if* we live more environmentally friendly lives.

Climate Change Weeks 3-6

I realised I hadn’t added any notes from the Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions course from Exeter University via FutureLearn since week 2, so this will just be a quick review.

Week 3

This week was essentially looking at evidence of climate change.

I found week 3 extremely difficult, and I ended the week not sure that I wanted to carry on to week 4. I more or less failed the quiz at the end of the week, but having spoken to other students, it wasn’t just me – some of the questions were worded differently to the way they were taught on the course itself, and they even included one question that hadn’t been covered on the course at all. Looking at the notes, I have almost nothing for Week 3 so I may need to go back for a review at some point. One of the questions that really stumped me was what, apart from volcanoes, causes aerosols. I still don’t have an answer to that.

Week 4

This week we were looking at possible Geo-engineering solutions. Some of the ‘solutions’ seem almost worse than the problems, and don’t address the root causes but rather try two work around them. It’s actually pretty terrifying because they could end up causing more havoc than we already have with excess CO2.

Week 4 was much better and much easier to understand, and I did pass the end of week quiz 🙂

Week 5

This week we were looking at the effects of climate change on the cryosphere and ocean acidification.

This week was again much better, although there was a lot of chemistry and as I’ve already mentioned, I have no chemistry background. The course requisites said no former knowledge was required, so I think they should have either differentiated between introductory and advanced level, or decided which level they wanted to teach toward.

Week 6

This week we were looking at Human Health and the Built Environment, urban heat islands, and the danger of heat waves in cities. And then Food Security.

The fact that worldwide we are dependent on 3 crops (wheat, rice and maize, or 4 if you include potatoes) is alarming in itself when you consider that monoculture crops are vulnerable to fungi and disease.

Even though the world reproduction rate has essentially gone down to around 2 children per woman, there is still an inevitable population increase (of those children who will grow up) of 50% by 2050. That is, by 2050, we expect there to be 11 billion people.  Therefore, our global food production needs to be doubled by 2050. That is alarming, and the solutions are all pretty scary: ‘new science, new genetics, genomics, genome sequencing, modern plant techniques’. We obviously also need to consider more diversity in farming (monoculture is bad!).

I think the West also urgently needs to address the issues of waste, encourage more home growing and maybe most important of all – discourage greed.

I did pass the end of week quiz, but again had a problem with one question that I ended up still not knowing the answer for. I think the quiz technology could include a “this is the right answer” at the end.

Just Cook for Kids Week 4 Notes

4.1 Basic Concept: Growing a Kitchen Garden

Maya emphasized how good home-grown fruit and vegetables are, and how easy it can be, and how children who are involved in growing their own food tend to make better dietary choices.

4.2 Guest Appearance: Rita Botini – Growing a Kitchen Garden

We were encouraged to grow herbs such as basil, thyme and so on. Maya and Rita made it sound easy but I have never had very much success with gardening so far. One thing Rita did that I hadn’t seen before was to cover the pot in clingfilm to simulate greenhouse conditions until the shoots show through. So I will try again to develop my green fingers 🙂

4.3 What does Organic mean?

Maya emphasised that ‘Natural’ has no specific definition and mustn’t be confused with ‘Organic’ which is mandatorily defined as containing no synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, genetically engineered crops, or ‘sewage slops’ What? I have never heard of ‘sewage slops’ being used in growing food! Does that mean human sewage?! I am shocked. I hope that is an American thing and that the UK is more strict. I will have to investigate that…

4.4 Basic Concept: What does ‘locally grown’ mean?

Maya mentioned that ‘locally grown’ should mean within 100-400 miles, but I’m not sure whether that is a mandatory definition. The best way to be sure that something is locally grown is to buy from farmers or at farmers’ markets. Advantages of buying locally grown include the fact that less travelled food will be fresher and have a lower carbon footprint. Food bought in season is also usually cheaper than imported, out-of-season fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. And then where the money goes was considered: a $1 to a big corporation goes towards overheads and owners/ shareholders with a small percentage going to employees and an even smaller proportion to the farmers. Whereas a $1 at a farmers market goes straight to the farmers which supports the local economy.

4.5 Focus Point: Healthy people = healthy planet

Modern methods of raising meat are very bad for the environment. Grass-fed, organic, traditionally raised meat is a closed loop system, where the sunlight feeds the grass, the cows eat the grass, and the cows’ manure fertilises the grass. Modern American methods, where the cows are stalled (in a ‘CAFO’) en-masse and fed corn (which is not good or natural for them, but is cheaper! But the corn is also grown using fossil fuels) has an enormous environmental cost overall. Even the manure, which in the natural system is a perfectly helpful component, becomes a problem. And then, due to living in such unnaturally close quarters, CAFO cows are subject to more diseases requiring more antibiotics. 80% of antibiotic use in the US is used on cattle.

The conclusion was to limit red meat in your diet, preferring lean meat instead, and choose more veg. But I would say rather, choose grass-fed organic red meat.

4.6 Focus Point: Sustainable Eating

Going on from the previous videos, it was mentioned the deleterious effect of pesticides and fertilisers which are not only troublesome in the right amounts, but they are generally overused to the extent that excess runs off the fields and ends up in the water and when it runs into the sea it creates dead zones where there is not enough oxygen to support marine life. I had heard of these ‘dead zones’ but I had no idea that they were created by pesticides and fertilisers. Very sobering.

4.7 – 4.9

Three recipes this week: a basic, interchangeable soup recipe, basic how to cook fish (using a mayonnaise-based sauce or other ‘marinades’) and steaming vegetables with a basic white sauce.

The course videos are here, but the optional videos aren’t included. I’m not sure if they are available elsewhere, but they are very good and thorough and would be of interest to anybody with a serious interest in Nutrition.

Climate Change: El Nino

El Nino was mentioned a couple of times but I wasn’t sure of the significance. This video seems helpful.
If anybody else has more resources, please share them!

Climate Change Week 3 Notes

3.1 What evidence do we have of the signals of climate change, including an increase in extreme weather events?

In addition to written records over the last 170 years, modern records are able to be taken more widely and more reliably increasingly high-tech meteorological records are now possible, including data from weather satellites, weather balloons, unmanned submersibles for deep sea temperature, thermometers that measure water temperature on board ship, thermometers inside Stephenson screens on the land, which shield from direct radiation and rain.

3.2 How has our climate changed?

– Sea level rise
– Global average temperature rise
– Ocean temperature rise
– Shrinking ice sheets
– Declining Arctic sea ice
– Glacial retreat
– Extreme weather.

There has been a significant rise in temperatures over the 20th century, with the last decade being the warmest within the whole record.

3.3 Do the major extreme weather events of 2012 provide further evidence of climate change or does it all add more complexity to the issue? (National Snow and Ice Data Center for more information.)

The cold weather does make it more confusing, but the fact that extreme weather of all sorts seem to be increasing all over the globe is compelling. It is certainly a complex puzzle.

3.4 What places on Earth have experienced the largest warming from 1980-2004? Are the areas that are experiencing the most warming also showing the largest variability in temperature and or precipitation?

The northern hemisphere seems to have had the largest warming. I found the interactive map a little bit frustrating. To be honest I found the graphs unhelpful and it would have been more helpful to see the differences in countries overlaid on one graph.

3.5 What would you consider the largest threats from extreme weather events to where you live?

Flooding and sea damage seem to be the biggest problems facing the UK; however the UK Government seems to be managing the problem particularly badly – despite the knowledge that an increase in tree-growing can mitigate against the effects of flooding, it seems to be determined to clear the land, which makes me suspect they are doing so with the specific agenda of pushing climate change as an excuse for more government control.

3.6 Our Changing Carbon Cycle: Professor Pierre Friedlingstein identifies the components of the carbon cycle and how human activity has contributed to an atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide not seen since the Pliocene epoch between 2.6 and 5.3 million years ago.

I really struggled to understand this video at all. Subtitles would not have gone amiss. I’ve watched it 3 times and I’m none the wiser.

3.7 Create a graph to show a variety of countries at different levels of economic development by following this link to the World Bank web site. Include the USA and China in your graph. Share your graph in the discussion. You may also want to try plot carbon dioxide emissions measured in metric tons per capita. What conclusions can you draw?

Really frustruated with this, I couldn’t work out how to make a graph. If I figure it out, I’ll post again.

3.8 Week 3 Quiz

Despite everything, I managed to pass this week’s quiz with 15/15.

Altogether, it seems so complex to me that I feel a little bit overwhelmed. Although I am persuaded that climate change is real and that it could mean disaster, I don’t feel as though I’m totally getting to grips with the subject. I haven’t seen enough evidence yet to conclude that the human element is the cause of the rapid changes (although I’m trying to keep an open mind and I’m willing to be convinced) but I certainly haven’t changed my mind about the fact that governments are using climate change as a tool to control people and extend government.