Efficacy of spent blewit on pythium damping-off

August 4th, 2015

“What,” you may be asked, “is the efficacy of spent blewit mushroom compost and Bacillus aryabhattai combination on control of Pythium damping-off in cucumber?” If pressed for time, you can simply direct the curious person to this study:

Efficacy of spent blewit mushroom compost and Bacillus aryabhattai combination on control of Pythium damping-off in cucumber,” J. T. Chen, M.J. Lin, and J.W. Huang, The Journal of Agricultural Science, vol. 153, no. 07, September 2015, pp. 1257-1266.

(Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.)

Bonus: blewit

Ascetic purity of food, ascetic unidirectionality of electricity

August 3rd, 2015

Rob Rhinehart, the creator of Soylent, the fungible foodstuff, has now turned his simplifying attention to electricity. He explains, on his “Mostly Harmless blog:

How I Gave Up Alternating Current

Soylent, in a bottle, in a hand.

Soylent, in a bottle, in a hand, in a photo.

The walls are buzzing. I know this because I have a magnet implanted in my hand and whenever I reach near an outlet I can feel them. I can feel fortresses of industry miles away burning prehistoric hydrocarbons by the megaton….

Now I don’t need any of them. I am electrically self reliant. My home life runs comfortably on a single 100W solar panel, which cost $150 and was available on Amazon Prime…. I have been living on this system for a few months now and am thrilled how well it works…. Here is how I did it….

I buy my staple food online like a civilized person. It takes me mere seconds to order enough soylent for a month, and version 2.0 does not require any preparation, so I got rid of my noisy blender. At less than $2.50 / meal it also saves me loads of cash, and I appreciate the use of more soy and less rice, finally bringing a nutritionally optimal PDCAAS score of 1.0 while improving the taste and especially texture….

To me the real upside is the pleasure in being electrically self reliant. Nightmares about being trapped in a coal mine have been replaced by pleasant dreams of basking in the sun’s glory. It got a little weird when I had to prove my existence to a local government and they asked for a utility bill. Good thing I still use water, for now. If you can strip wires you can set this up yourself. Everything I used is available on Amazon except for soylent 2.0, which is only available at soylent.com.

Rhinehart last year delivered a 24/7 Lecture, at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, on the topic “Metabolism”, in which he concluded that “Thanks to enzymes, humans are solar powered”. You might enjoy watching it again.

‘Harvesting the guano of insectivorous bats: is it sustainable?’

August 3rd, 2015

JournalOTTA new paper in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, Vol 7, No 6 (2015) asks, and answers the question: ‘Harvesting the guano of insectivorous bats: is it sustainable?’ Investigators Thet Thet and Khin Mya Mya focused their studies on one cave, in a complex of four caves on Sudaung mountain, Sintkaing Township, Mandalay Region (21044.941’N & 96015.570’E, 314m), Myanmar.


“The licence to remove guano from the Sudaung cave complex is issued annually by the Forestry Department and has been held by one family for over 40 years. This, in itself, suggests that the rate of guano removal has not exceeded the rate of deposition, and that harvesting has been carried out sustainably. It also suggests that the disturbance associated with guano removal has no adverse effects on the numbers of bats occupying the caves. The Forestry Department does not impose a quota and the collectors remove all available guano.”

Bonus task (optional) : List possible consequences if the guano collection exceeded the rate of deposition.

Also see, cited in the paper and of poss. interest to nominative determinists : ‘Conservation ecology of cave bats. In: Kingston, T. & C.C. Voigt (eds.). [in press, sorry no link yet] Bats in the Anthropocene – conservation of bats in a changing world.’ Springer, New York. By Dr. Furey and Professor Racey.

“An opera set to ruffle a few feathers”

August 3rd, 2015

Excitement, perhaps spiced with dread and ornamented with down, mounts in London anticipating the performances of the Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera, on 8 and 9 August.

Tom Whipple reports, in The Times, under the headline “An opera set to ruffle a few feathers“:



See here for background, and here to get tickets (if any are still available).

As you likely are full-well aware, the incident on which the opera is based resulted in, among other things, the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology.

The social events objectives of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries

August 2nd, 2015

Question: What are the social events objectives of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries?

worshipful logo

Answer: The answer appears on the web site of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries, on the page devoted to “Social Events Objectives”, in a downloadable PDF document named “Social Events Objectives”. Here is that document, reproduced in its entirety (and shrunken a bit, so it fits on this screen):