Brit living in Belgium and earning an income from building interfaces. Interestes include science, science fiction, technology, and European news and politics
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*Who actually moves? Maybe three percent

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*Who actually moves? Maybe three percent

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acdha
4 days ago
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Washington, DC
expatpaul
5 days ago
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Belgium
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Road hauliers will soon need a permit to enter Kent

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Remember how Brexit was meant to reduce red tape?

The Department of Transport has issued a document on proposed legislative amendments on enforcing Operation Brock, the scheme to have lorries queue for the channel ports inland if there is a need.

There you will find this gem:
From that point on, the legislation would require any haulier using designated roads in Kent leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel to be in possession of a ‘Kent access permit’ (KAP), which would be digitally issued to drivers receiving a ‘green’ or ‘amber’ result from the SF service.

Each KAP would be valid for 24 hours to cover a single trip, and police and DVSA enforcement officers could issue penalties to hauliers found heading for Dover or Eurotunnel without one. Thus, travelling in contravention of a ‘red’ result (being advised not to travel) or failure to use the SF portal at all and so not having a valid KAP, would be a fineable offence.
That's right. Brexit won't just introduce a hard border with our European neighbours: it will, as far as hauliers are concerned. introduce borders within the UK.

Why didn't business leaders speak out sooner? We heard little from during the referendum campaign.

I suspect they could not believe any government could be this mad. Even Vladimir Putin is wondering if he hasn't gone too far.
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expatpaul
9 days ago
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So much for Brexit reducing red tape
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Donald Trump calls for delay of US presidential elections

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United States president Donald Trump has suggested delaying the US presidential election in November.

The election should be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” Trump tweeted.

Each US state can decide the way they hold elections, and many are opting to allow people to vote by mail in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the United States hard, with 4,263,531 confirmed cases and 147,449 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the World Health Organisation.

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There are two ways to vote by mail – universal mail-in voting and absentee voting. According to Trump, that first system, in which all registered voters receive their ballots via the post, can easily be subject to fraud. He did not provide evidence for this claim.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden predicted in April that Trump would try to delay the election. “Mark my words: I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow; come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” he said at the time. “That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win,” he said.

While Biden has not yet reacted to Trump’s tweet, Democratic senator Kamala Harris, who is rumoured to be Biden’s future running mate – meaning she would be the vice-presidential candidate -, tweeted that “we will see you at the ballot box on November 3rd.”

Trump cannot decide by himself to delay the presidential election, which, according to the law, must be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Only Congress can change the date of an election, and Trump’s Republican Party does not have a majority in the House of Representatives.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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Taika Waititi confirms he has begun writing his Star Wars movie

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Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok and The Mandalorian, has revealed that he has begun writing his Star Wars film. When news broke that Taika Waititi would be directing his own Star Wars movie, there was a lot of excitement, especially from those who are fans of his work in the MCU. Nothing is known […]

The post Taika Waititi confirms he has begun writing his Star Wars movie appeared first on Flickering Myth.

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expatpaul
18 days ago
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I'm looking forward to this
Belgium
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Grading Trump’s Cognitive Test: For Me it was Easy – Dean Burnett

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Grading Trump's Cognitive Test: For Me it was Easy

Brain Yapping by Dr Dean Burnett

Donald Trump is repeatedly insisting that he has great cognitive abilities because he passed a cognitive test. But that’s not how they work.

At the moment, the US is dealing with the world’s worst surge of Coronavirus cases, increasingly-strained relationships with China, ongoing racially-charged protests, economic meltdown, and who knows what else. And what is President Trump focussing on in these uniquely troubling times?

The fact that he passed a cognitive test, which proves that he’s mentally and intellectually capable of being president. Priorities, and all that.

To clarify, I’m not here to question Trump’s claims that he is mentally sound and cognitively able. He may well be, or he may not be. I don’t know. I don’t have the information, the access, or even the necessary medical training and experience, to make firm judgements about the US president’s mental health. Same goes for anyone else, both in the sense that I shouldn’t be diagnosing anyone else, and nobody else should be diagnosing Trump.

At least not from afar, and especially not without the relevant training an expertise. Psychiatric diagnosis is a difficult, uncertain process at the best of times, without basing it solely on stuff you read or see in the news or online, regarding a person you’ve never actually met. No good can come of this sort of thing, and I’m on the record as saying this emphatically, even in the case of someone like Trump

However, Trump’s claims that his cognitive test shows he’s smart, capable, fully-functioning, better-than-average, or anything else he’s said along those lines? I can confirm that it’s all nonsense. Because that’s not what those sorts of cognitive tests are for.

Assessing IQ and cognitive ability is a very tricky process. Representing it as an illustration is even more so.

The test trump completed was apparently the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MCA). I can’t help but wonder if Trump is aware it’s called that, because I genuinely suspect he wouldn’t knowingly big up something Canadian in origins. But that’s by the by.

The MCA is a widely used and reasonably robust cognitive assessment tool, particularly when compared to older, similar tests, like the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). The MCA and similar tests assess short term memory, attention, language, reasoning, visuospatial processing, orientation, executive functioning, and so on. These are the main aspects of someone’s cognitive functioning, we do them all the time during our waking lives, they’re how we operate as humans.

But the MCA and other tests assess all these in 10 minutes. This is not even close to being enough time to truly, and thoroughly, assess and determine someone’s mental state and cognitive abilities. No, the main purpose of these tests is to determine whether an individual has any obvious and immediate cognitive deficits that, even if mild, imply some more serious underlying issue, like vascular dementia. The tests are for finding obvious problems, not for providing a detailed evaluation of someone’s cognitive powers.

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Trump has repeatedly boasted about correctly remembering a sequence of five words and being told ‘nobody gets it in order’ (which is incorrect, even small children can do it), implying that he has above-average cognitive abilities. But this is nonsense; the test’s can’t tell you that. Even if you get everything 100% right, the maximum ‘score’ you can earn is ‘has cognitive abilities on a par with that of a bog-standard human’. Hardly the most ringing endorsement for someone insisting they’re the best person to control the world’s biggest economy and nuclear arsenal.

This is why they’re usually used as screening tools, not anything more in-depth. The MCA and similar tests are, essentially, thermometers of the mind. You put a thermometer ‘in’ a patient (never mind where), and it tells you their temperature. If it’s too high, doctors know something’s causing a fever etc. If it’s a normal temperature, doctors know that something isn’t causing a fever. This is useful info for determining whether someone needs treatment. But they can’t tell you more than that.

What Trump is doing right now is tantamount to saying doctors took his temperature and it was 37°C, and that’s ‘the best temperature’, ‘nobody has as good a temperature as that’. Even though, you know, literally everybody does.

The fact that you can easily imagine Trump saying this and meaning it is somewhat alarming.

Based on his current rhetoric, it’s entirely possible that the reason Trump won’t wear a mask is because he’s had a Covid19 test before and it was negative.

On top of the minimal insight provided by these cognitive tests, it should also be flagged up that they provide a glimpse into an individual’s ability to cognitively function at the time of the test. Our cognitive abilities tend to decline as we age. Not usually to the extent that it’s anything to worry about, it’s just like with any other body part; age causes our brain to wear out a bit, so it has to work harder to do the same stuff as we could do when younger. It’s just life.

But many other things can impact on cognitive function too, like sleep deprivation, intoxication, even mood. The brain’s an incredibly diverse organ and what it’s capable of doing can vary considerably day to day, even hour to hour. Even when it’s being seriously disrupted, this remains the case. If you’ve ever worked with or cared for someone with dementia, you’ll know that they have good days and bad days. Some days they can barely function at all, other days you wouldn’t know anything’s wrong with them.

The point is, Trump is a 74-year-old man in a very high-pressure situation. There’s a lot going on in his life that could easily hamper his cognitive abilities. He may well have passed (or ‘aced’) a 10-minute cognitive test, one to two years ago (the timeline is confused), but this doesn’t automatically mean he has impressive mental acuity now.

In fairness, acing the test 2 minutes ago doesn’t prove impressive mental competence now, because, as stated, that’s now what they do.

So, Trump is constantly insisting he has impressive cognitive abilities, because he completed a 10-minute test over a year ago. This is akin to someone telling the police officer who pulled them over that they’re actually an extremely good driver and couldn’t possibly be drunk, because they passed a breathalyser test last April.

Someone talking like that would make you more worried about them, not less.

Dean Burnett has several books on how the brain works if you want to improve your own cognitive abilities. He was recently on the Cosmic Shambles as part of the Teenage Student Neuro Hurdles panel.

Dr Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist and best selling author of such books as The Idiot Brain and The Happy Brain. His former column Brain Flapping for The Guardian (now Brain Yapping here on the CSN) was the most popular blog on their platform with millions of readers worldwide. He is a former tutor and lecturer for the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education and is currently an honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School and Visiting Industry Fellow at Birmingham City University.  He is @garwboy on Twitter.

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The post Grading Trump’s Cognitive Test: For Me it was Easy – Dean Burnett appeared first on The Cosmic Shambles Network.

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expatpaul
18 days ago
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Belgium
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Teardown nerds delve into Dell's new XPS 15 laptop to find – fancy that – screws and user-serviceable parts

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Repairability score good? Well, yes actually

Infamous tech vivisectors iFixit have dug into the innards of Dell's latest XPS 15 ultrabook. And what did they find? Philips screws, user-serviceable components, and very little adhesive.…

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expatpaul
27 days ago
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Worth noting: The Dell XPS 15 has an iFixit repairability score of 9 out of 10.
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