That E.coli announcement

There’s an outbreak of E.coli in the UK. And it’s a particularly nasty one.

A lot of people are quite upset that the announcement contained that phrase:

a nationally distributed food item

As if there’s some sort of conspiracy in not announcing exactly what food item it is, presumably in order to allow more people to get sick.

All the blue ticks. All the time.

Surprisingly though, the nationally distributed food item can’t be named, because they don’t know what it is. (Microbiologists will be waving their hands in the air, trying to attract the teacher’s attention so they can tell you that it’s almost certainly a pre-prepared salad of sorts, but that’s because it’s always a pre-prepared salad of sorts which is to blame when you get this sort of thing.)

What they do know however, is where the bug didn’t come from. Not from a particular holiday destination or cruise. Not from “wild” swimming. Not from a single water source. Not from a school canteen. And so on. And they can do this because of the demographics of the patients, and their geographic distribution.

It’s easy to tie these cases down to one specific bug: genome sequencing can do that very quickly. What it’s more difficult to do is to then work out the link between all of those cases. So what the UKHSA is doing with this statement is trying to reassure the public that swimming, drinking water, going on holiday etc etc is absolutely fine.

Can they identify the nationally distributed food item? No, not yet. Or they would have done.

They could guess, but then they’d get into trouble either simply for guessing, or for guessing incorrectly. Damned if they do, and damned – albeit by tossers on twitter – when they don’t.

They’ll let us know as soon as they know. That’s how these things work.

And in the meantime? Well, there’s plenty of advice on that link about the best way to avoid the bug and avoid getting sick. But with a population of about 70 million people, and “just” 113 cases, I honestly don’t think that you should be treating your fridge as a potential ticking timebomb.

I’d still wash that lettuce really well before you eat it, though.

Last chance

Last chance for a bit of high quality domestic football today, so I’m not going to miss it.

Unfortunate that the golden confetti on the borrowed image above makes each manager look like they are suffering from some sort of infectious skin disorder.
But never mind that.
It’s the FA Cup Final that we all the service stations on the M6 and M40 were hoping for.

30 minutes to get all the chores done before kick off.
Writing this isn’t necessarily a chore, but it does need to be done.

And now it is.

Before kick off, nogal.

Polar bear anatomy joke only works until you actually think about it a bit

Spotted online recently:

I haven’t been living in the UK for 20 years now. And I certainly wasn’t there this April.
But I am aware of several (or more) people who were. Among their number, apparently, were some people working for the Met Office, one of the world’s leading weather services, providing forecasts and climate data for almost 170 years, and Paul Cox, a right-wing comedian of whom I had never heard before seeing his tweet above.

Obviously, Paul wouldn’t want to hear that April had been (just) warmer than average, given that this sort of news doesn’t suit the GB News agenda. But then equally, I doubt that the Met Office really cares about the GB News agenda. And I don’t think that the Met Office would deliberately sully its image by just tossing out incorrect information to make Paul and his opinion-orientated cronies grumpy.

Presumably, Paul thinks it’s been colder than the Met Office data suggests and thus doesn’t agree with the Met Office’s statement, but then he’s likely relying on anecdotal evidence like it feeling a bit chilly when he went to pick up some fags at the Spar that Tuesday morning, rather than their more than 200 weather stations across the UK measuring:

…a large variety of different meteorological parameters, including air temperature; atmospheric pressure; rainfall; wind speed and direction, humidity; cloud height and visibility.

No axe to grind here, but I know whose data I think might be more accurate on how just warm April was.

But then Paul goes weirdly off-message and tries to compare the UK’s average temperature in April to:

A polar bears [sic] ball bag

I presume that by “ball bag”, he is using the colloquial term for scrotum.

The thing is though, the UK’s mean temperature for April was 8.3o, and a polar bear, being a mammal, has a body temperature of around 37o. Even allowing for the slightly cooler temperature required for effective spermatogenesis, the seasonal nature of this biological process in polar bears, their bouts of swimming in icy waters, and their light hibernation during the winter, the average temperature of a polar bear’s ball bag will still comfortably remain somewhere in the mid-30os.

This is clearly way higher than the UK in April – or any other month.
What on earth were you thinking about, Paul?

There is absolutely no chance that the average temperature calculated by the Met Office in April is warmer than a polar bears ball bag.

Now if only he’d suggested the bottom of a penguin’s foot

Vicky Ling has my sympathy

I do some photography and people are generally very nice about it. Sadly though, there’s always someone who will go out of their way to be rude.

Look, if it’s not to your taste, that’s fine.
But there’s absolutely no need to resort to – and then publish! – this sort of vitriol:

It might not be the greatest photograph ever taken, but there are certainly some positives in there. The leading line of the path, the tangled branches of the winter trees, some autumnal colour still visible on the ground.

But no, it’s not going to win any awards. Still, for me, the (New Milton) Advertiser and (Lymington) Times‘ critic has really overstepped the mark here.

Wholly unnecessary. Vicky has my sympathy.

Is the tide turning…?

Was scrapping FA Cup replays a watershed moment?

Henry Winter adds his name to those fed up of the Football Association pandering to the whims and needs (of the boards) of the Big 6:

I am also one of these people, but I don’t quite have his pedigree:

Winter is the current Football Journalist of the Year at the British Sports Journalism Awards, where the judges said last month he “has a unique connection to his readership and football fans” and is a “voice of genuine authority and respected by those in the game”.
Winter is also the most recent Writer of the Year at the Football Supporters’ Association Awards.
His authority is long-held: in 2010 he was voted Britain’s top sports journalist in a Press Gazette poll of journalists and the general public.

When people like Henry Winter are (rightfully) getting upset about this untenable situation, then it’s about time the FA start paying attention.

Here’s another veteran football journalist, Alan Biggs:

The fans want replays. The fans love the traditions of the game. But by the end of this evening, it’s quite likely that every English club will have been eliminated from European competition this year, ahead of the semi-final stages, nogal. And we can’t have that happening again, because that means no more money for the Big 6 and the FA, both of whom are really struggling financially, so something else is going to have to change.

And the other 86 clubs and their hundreds of thousands of fans must just deal with it.