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February 21, 2013

Respect for the Lifestyle Equipment

Dear all

We hope you are all enjoying training in the new Lifestyle gym using the new equipment and hopefully getting some great new ideas for your training programme.

It saddens me to see that we are barely weeks old and we already have damage to equipment. Having seen it myself - you guys can see in the images below, it is clear that it is not because of proper use of the equipment.



I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that this equipment is state of the art, we have invested in this because we feel our community deserve to have this experience. However, as users and members we expect you all to RESPECT the equipment, each other and the team. If anyone is found misusing, damaging equipment or not respecting the environment or the team then you will be subject to a reporting and investigation process.

I would ask that you are all diligent in the way you use the space so that all if the community get a great experience. Can you please ensure the following:

1. If you notice that something has been damaged please report it to a member if the Lifestyle team;
2. You all make sure that you leave the areas you have worked in as you found them when you arrived, including wiping down all equipment after use.

Thank you for your cooperation on this and hope that you all continue to enjoy the new environment.


February 10, 2013

What a nice bush!

The bushes are in!

The Bush

As is all the equipment!

If you are already a member of the gym, please see induction link here:


The Lifetyle Team are getting everyone inducted as fast as they can. For any queries please email lifestyle@warwick.ac.uk

We can't wait to welcome you all into the brand new facility.


February 06, 2013

Countdown to the opening begins – 5 more days!

5 more days! 5 more days of donning my high vis jacket and bright yellow helmet to walk around the gym and see all the wonderful progress the team are making upstairs in the new Lifestyle Gym.

I can't wait to replace these safety clothes with a gym kit and get in there! If you haven't seen some photos online, here's some of the progress so far:

Here is our training cube and kinesis machine placed behind it - on this you can workout every muscle in the body - who will shotgun this first?!

Functional Training Cube

Here are a few of the cardio machines, and part of our water feature installation. On our cardio machines you can watch televsion, record your fitness progress, do British military fitness exercises or stick your USB in and revise! You'll love it!

Cardio Machines

The S&C floor - 5 benches, 3 1/2 squat racks and 3 bench press, plus a reinforced floor in the room for safe lifting.

S & C Floor

HELLO new gym.

Keep you updated - Health Commitment forms and induction news will be out over the next two days and all members will receive an email. facebook & twitter

James Ellis.


#Varsity #TeamWarwick

Ice Hockey tickets

Rugby Finale tickets

January 31, 2013

Take a 3D walk through the new Lifestyle Gym

If you haven't see this yet, then believe you me, you will want to! The Lifestyle Gym


James Ellis.

January 28, 2013

Countdown to the countdown

Hi folks,

I trust you all had a nice weekend? I am hoping that we start to leave behind the Arctic spell that has been lingering over university the past few weeks and begin melting the snow with the heat from our new Lifestyle Gym.

Soon we can look forward to a more spacious, and better equipped gym than we have ever known before at Warwick. In the countdown to the opening of the new gym, the Lifestyle Team will be releasing photos, gym instructions and workouts from the new Technogym equipment each day on this blog. Keep checking back here for previews of the new equipment. Alternatively, you can find updates on facebook, Lifestyles and twitter.

Personally, I am looking forward to getting involved in this workout:

Technogym Equipment

There's going to be wires everywhar!

Enjoy your week

James Ellis.

PS #Murray #betterlucknexttime #youryear #Wimbledon : 'Be inspired... get active' @warwicksport

December 21, 2012

A new look

Driving, walking, or even better… running or cycling past The Sports Centre these days, you would have started to notice lots of changes. The ‘croquet lawn’ outside the sports centre is now home to new Warwick Sport Offices as the top level of The Sports Centre is renovated.

Later on in the week we can look forward to some videos and news stories from the Lifestyle Team being posted here of some of the work that has gone on so far. Make sure you have a look at the plans and photographs page as there will be continual image updates as the spaces upstairs change in look and feel! There is also now a set of 3D images of what the new gym will look like… Really exciting, please note the water feature and greenery!

For now I wanted to show you some of my latest photography work – thanks iPhone.

Sports Centre

The swimming pool is enjoying some attention, as you can see here with some Warwick Sport logos and straplines installed. It is also looking rather clean with a new pool cover!

New Logo by pool and a new cleaning machine

New pool cover

The corridors have been painted in our Warwick Blue. It is really amazing what a bit of paint can do; we can hopefully start to make the building feel a little bit more like ‘ours’. We will be making more effort in the New Year to carry this feel throughout the building.

Blue Wall

Cryfield Centre

I hope many of you will have enjoyed this new facility already. As well as being a sporting venue for our teams like Rugby, Football and Lacrosse, it is also a London 2012 Football Training Venue and host to the annual high profile tournaments such as the U15 Nike Cup and Premier League age group competitions.

The venue is bookable for events and formal occasions so if you’re department, society or club is interested then please click through here

Cryfield Centre (refurbished)

Renovated Cry field

As always please give us any feedback you wish

You can follow us on facebook or twitteror Warwick Lifestyle

Have a wonderful Christmas and a great break


November 26, 2012

The S&C Room Makeover

I hope that many of you have had a chance to flick over the photos and plans for the redevelopment of the Sports Centre.

It dawned on me over the weekend that no matter who we are at Warwick, staff or student, postgraduate or part time; we all have one thing in common… our lives at Warwick are: busy. We juggle our lives around studying, work, activities and socialising and it can be quite tough! (Breathe). The team at Warwick Sport is working really hard to create the new Warwick Lifestyle programme so that all of our members can enjoy the great benefits of physical exercise to our busy daily routines.

Myself, I enjoy a morning swim. I find the water very peaceful, though I sometimes envy the faster swimmers that seem to race past me (I’ll get there – watch out please swim team). However, lots of us at Warwick enjoy the Strength and Conditioning Room – whether you’re looking for that holiday body, training with one of our sports teams or simply want to increase personal strength – the S&C room is always packed.

With this in mind, the Lifestyle Team has decided to share some of the TECHNOGYM images with you:

s_c_image_1.pdf s_c_image_2.pdf

The new facility you can see is located in the current ‘Studio’. It includes Olympic half racks, Scott bench, adjustable and flat benches as well as radiant and dual adjustable pulley machines (DAPS).

DAPS complement the traditional strength and resistance equipment, as they are multi functional systems that allow a full body workout through a pulley system and various accessories. This will be available to all S&C members, be a great asset to our Focus Club programme as well as provide excellent training facilities for all our sports clubs. I know our Lifestyle Team can’t wait to see you all use it!

I’m sure you can see that members will be able to train in the same way that they can in the current S&C room but there will be a lot more opportunity for additional training methods and systems. Very exciting!

Tweet us your thoughts @warwicksport or like us on facebook pages: facebook.com/warwicksport or /warwicklifestyle

Please email lifestyle@warwick.ac.uk if any of your questions can’t be answered through the FAQ link.

Have a great week,


November 20, 2012

First steps into the blogosphere…

Hello, and welcome to our blog. My name is James, and I am the Director of Sport Operations here at Warwick Sport. I must say, I never pictured the day that I would write a blog. However, after working on the most exciting project Warwick Sport has had in years, I thought I would embrace the social media phenomenon and get to writing one. Fundamentally, this blog has been created because I wanted to share mine, and the team’s, excitement with readers on the new sports development initiatives at Warwick Sport. You may have started to hear about the new programme we have at Warwick Sport; Warwick Lifestyle. This is designed to get our community engaged in a whole new range of activities and provide a brilliant way for staff and students to maintain a healthy lifestyle – which let’s face it, can be quite difficult due to the busy nature of life at Warwick!

As part of this new offer we are getting the ultimate new Christmas present – a brand new gym! TECHNOGYM is a world class gym technology supplier and Warwick Sport will receive the latest equipment for cardio, resistance and strength training. TECHNOGYM also supply equipment to the National Football Centre at Burton, Loughborough University and other high profile locations so we really are lucky to have them on board.

The 5th December is when work really gets started. The S&C room is going to close at 9.00pm, and on the 7th December at 10.00pm the gym will close completely. From 7th January the activity room will be available for use again and in early February we can all look forward to the full use of the new state of the art gym. Furthermore, we have the reopening of the Studio and Functional Training Area to look forward to.

This transformation has come from a lot of hard work behind the scenes and we are really looking forward to being able to offer our members a truly world class facility. I hope that you find this website useful during the redevelopment period.

Click here to view our frequently asked questions, and if you have any other queries then please don’t hesitate to get in touch at lifestyle@warwick.ac.uk

Or you can follow us on twitter @warwicksport. Told you I was getting into social media.

June 13, 2012

web 2.0 legal power 2.0

This is an education into how great the internet is sometimes … via Wil Wheaton. http://digitallife.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/12/12187665-cartoonist-turns-lawsuit-threat-into-100k-charity-fundraiser. Interesting that the lawyer guy for funnyjunk is completely out of touch with 1) how the internet works … says “I’m completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I’ve never really seen it before,” and also is completely unaware of what a douchebag he is .. “I don’t think that what I did was unreasonable,” he says … wtf? Claiming damages and stealing someone else’s work. And has the ridiculous posturing to refer to the public’s outrage as “mob psychology”. This is the way power works in the 21st century (when it works properly) the people rule, not the prevailing institutions, and not only do they not get it, they actually think that it’s wrong.

May 15, 2012

Considering Impact

Two things have triggered a series of discussions about impact recently. One of these is working on the evaluation of a series of JISC projects, the other is working on a bid for AHRC and preparing the Pathways to Impact for that.

I first really came across this as an issue when working on the REF for my university. I pulled out of this (I didn’t see why they should have my publications when they weren’t paying me a salary) so only saw the document I had to respond to … an didn’t actually have to respond. I could see the point, the relevance of the research to the wider community is also important, and also saw the panic of colleagues, none of us had much idea what counted as impact or how we could demonstrate it.

I think the idea of impact is a good one to include for research, as long as this doesn’t take precedence over just finding out stuff for its own sake. I can see why the government brought it in, theyre paying for research so they want to see it doing some good, but it is indicative of a move towards a more mundane pragmatic approach to knowledge, education, thought. Like the employability and enterprise agenda in universities. Yes education should have a practical application too, when i got my MA in consultancy i realised that it was the first qualification I’d got that had a practical use since my cycling proficiency. But that’s not the only thing that’s important. We need to continue to do things and learn things purely because they’re interesting. If we don’t instill that love for pure knowledge in our students we’re failing them as much as if we’re sending them out without a skill they can actually earn a living from.

For a funding body I have more sympathy, paying the piper and calling the tune and so on. If you’re ploughing money into something and have to have something to show for it, then describing impact helps to tell the story that you’ve achieved something. the struggle is in what constitutes evidence.

If you’re doing robust science, you need a control. Measuring impact, you can have no control. Yes you can show things have changed, but alone this falls prey to that post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. While I’ve been self-employed I’ve lost 14kg ... so is this the impact of changing my job, or cutting out carbs or going to the gym? Hard to say just by measuring a difference. You’d really need to do some research in this universe and simultaneously observe another universe in which the research was not taking place (and keep every other variable the same) to really be able to measure impact. This could be tricky. And if I had that level of omniscience I’d be doing something else anyway.

The other problem is measurement. What metrics do you use? If you can use a mixture of things with numbers attached (students retained, or staff on prozac) and show improvement, then that’s going to keep a lot of people happy. You can measure beneficiaries, students attended, workshops held, but this isn’t really impact, people may attend but how do you know it makes a difference to them, or that they’re even paying attention. There’s also a lot of types of impact that can’t be measured like that, student satisfaction, inclusion. But showing a shift in responses could work here.

I thnk the key thing is to acknowledge all of the above failings with the idea, and do it anyway. Yes the measurements won’t be robust scientific data, yes the may be spurious or fail to take account of some elements. But trying to account for some of these things will give a sense of the degree of change that may have been caused by the research or project and it does focus the mind on what it is really all for.

May 13, 2012

Random ramblings

Oh another thought … obviously it’s been a slow day. Was reminded of the Pandora myth again (via the jewellery not the planet). I think the message is that if you’ve let War, Death, Famine and Plague out, that having hope left is somehow A Good Thing. but actually it’s totally the opposite. Like death, supposing you live in a place where life expectancy is 40 and you die at 45, you’re happier than if you hope to live to 80 and still die at 45. My cats get really riled if i take out their food, because they hope to be fed, whereas without the noise of their food rattling they’d be OK a bit longer (not that going for a few hours without their Dreamies constitutes famine, but you get my point). Nope that myth is totally screwed. The Four Horseman may lay you out on the floor, but it’s Hope that follows it up with a swift kick to the nuts.

April 20, 2012

Return from China

Hi everyone, just got back from China and am starting to catch up with work. First task, setting up a blog for the JISC programme. I’m pretty sure I can use this blog (just reactivated after 15 months offline) but with my critical friend entries filtered into a separate feed using a tag. This first one is a test to see if it works.

November 11, 2010

Too scared

Follow-up to Windows 7 "Upgrade" for a MacBook Pro without windows. from Musings on Medical Student Education

I got scared after reading the boot camp installation. Unless someone can reassure me I think I'll have to give it a miss....

Windows 7 "Upgrade" for a MacBook Pro without windows.

I'm just in the process of trying to install windows 7 on a MacBook Pro. Here's the chain of events so far.

  1. I bought the software from "Software4students", as a student thinking it was the bonafide software. Its not.
  2. On arrival of the software it was an upgrade disk. The software came in an unmarked, loose, nonsealed plastic wallet.
  3. I sent it back because I thought I wouldnt be able ot install it on my mac, although i do own genuine windows 7 on my desktop.
  4. "Software4students" refused to give me a refund, and sent the software back to me, stating it was in thier T's and C's. I was pretty annoyed by this, but essentially there was nothing that could be done other than trying to take them to court.
  5. They sent the disc back to me.
  6. I have just read on a blog that I may be able to install it directly on a Mac.

So here goes, installing Windows 7 'Upgrade' on a mac with no windows, although I do own Windows, albeit its on another PC.

windows 7

  • Is it just me or is the 'upgrade' bit on the picture above just a little bit too small?
  • Am I pretty amazed that its pretty unclear as to weather or not this works or not? Yes.
  • Are there lots of students who will by the Windows7 student edition? Yes.
  • Do I think I should be able to get a refund for software that I haven't used or entered a licence key for? Yes.

As it turns out I think Im just going to give it a go and hope for the best.

Will it work? I will find out.... Hopefully in less than under 2 hours!

PS... if you are reading this and you know that its not going to work, feel smug now...

October 31, 2010

Trick or treat

Just in case anyone tries to interpret this as at all anti-American, it’s not. There are lots of things I like about the US. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve had a great time (once I’ve got past the utter utter bastards who are always on the passport control) and there’s lots about American culture I like. But I like it at arms’ length, and I like to pick and choose.

There’s a movement in the UK though to mindlessly adopt US traditions. High school proms. Spelling. Using Americanisms (like “crib”, “sidewalk”, “elevator”, dropping the last syllable in “alternative” or “orientate”) rather than their UK e*uivalents. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it indicates a lack of confidence with our own national identity. I think it undermines it to some extent. And I don’t understand why people here hate being British so much. If these things were fun, if they made life better, than maybe that would be a good thing. But actually they just seem to make people’s lives more stressed.

It seems to be part of this “special relationship” between the countries changing from being a relationship of e*uals to being an owner and pet. It seemed to happen during the period Labour was in power, Blair being Bush’s lapdog and so on, and as a society our readiness to adopt whatever the Americans do uncritically indicates our approval of our government doing the same. It’s like a mandate to say, yeah, let’s just be a pale echo of everything going on over the other side of the Atlantic. Let’s be like them as much as possible, because they’re so much better than we are.

Basically, people who go trick or treating are the reason we’re at war with Ira*.

OK – that’s an exaggeration, but it was part of a rant I’d prepared if anyone did come begging with menaces for sweets. I thought they’d appreciate a scare. But no-one turned up, so I’ve let it loose here instead.

October 20, 2010


Writing about web page http://www.usafa82.org/spec_int/wit_wisdom/rules.htm

Getting late now so I’m just picking out the more erroneous of CJ Sykes’s “rules”.

_ 7. Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom._

You need to stay idealistic because the rainforest does need saving. And why the hell would there be lice in the closet? eeuggh. I’m beginning to suspect CJ is a republican and probably a climate change naysayer.

__ 9. Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to

Sure you only get 2 days as standard instead of two weeks but errm that’s what annual leave is for, d’oh. If you want to take an Easter Break, take it. Even the lowest clerical job I had had five weeks leave to go with it. My current one has eight. Plus in the real world you have the money to go somewhere neat for the two weeks, and you don’t have the anxiety of summer exams bearing down on you. And while we’re at it, if you not in a job that fosters your self-realisation, you really need to keep looking.

12. Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts._

Well no, smoking does look a bit idiotic when you know what damage it does, but actually purple hair and piercings look very cool. every adult knows this, but few will actually admit it because they’re too chickenshit to do it themselves and they just envy that the kids have the nerve too.
14. Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it as to be a kid. Maybe you should start now__

Again, crap. Life as an adult is far more fun and has less hassle. Sure there are bills, but if you;re not stupid about buying stuff, you can cover them. There’s more freedom, and no aggro with exams. There are pressures, but you’re used to handling them, so ultimately, less of a bother. I hope some kid who’s being read the riot act by some adult who’s read CJ’s book comes across this blog, so at least they can take some comfort in the fact that their parent is just trying to guilt trip them. CJ is just trying to be a buzzkill because he has issues.

Just checked CJ is a radio presenter and journalist. Funny .. I had him down as an economist or banker or something. Doesn’t sound like the kind of job where you’d encourage people to work for The Man, but maybe they do things differently in Milwaukee.

Some rules kids won't learn in school

Writing about web page http://www.usafa82.org/spec_int/wit_wisdom/rules.htm

Occasionally I come across something that winds me up so much that I want to meet the author and start ranting at them. Obviously that’s usually a bit tricky, and is maybe a bit anti-social, so I let off a bit of steam here—and try to put the record straight.

The latest irritation is a guy called Charles J. Sykes since I came across his rules kids won’t learn in school. He’s based a book on his so-called rules. They’re a few years old now, but still need counteracting in case someone passes them on thinking they’re somehow insightful. I don’t know what’s wrong with CJ – he obviously had a way better time as a kid than anyone else I know and had a far worse a time, but his rules are nothing like reality.

1. Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids.

Well OK it isn’t fair, but you should never get used to it. Continue to rail against it and maybe there’s a chance you might make it a bit fairer.

2. The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it’s not fair._

Bullshit. Most employers know that to get the most out of their employees you need to motivate them, and the best way to do that is boost their self-esteem. Most colleagues will reinforce the good stuff you do. In the real world you get treated with way more respect than you ever get as a kid.

_ 3. Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label._

So? Most kids I know are really happy to be earning anything at all. Move along CJ.

_ 4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.
The teachers I remember were way tougher than most of the bosses I know. Well, both had their fair share of psychos in the list, but as an adult you’re in a far better position to handle them and stand up to them. And every teacher knows that tenure is always very tenuous in reality.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain or Britney Speers all weekend._

I know people who work in McDs. They think it’s an opportunity too. But it’s not a great opportunity. There’s no embarassment in making minimum wage but it’s pretty reasonable to be unhappy about it. And I have never met anyone who would talk about Britney all weekend.

August 16, 2010

New student webmail… seems to work!

I am quite amazed that the university's switchover to live@edu service from Microsoft seems to have gone very smoothly. In fact I had a problem this morning.

  1. I used  the web to find the contact number
  2. Rang the contact number
  3. Received helpful advice
  4. Now my email address seems to work perfectly...

If only everything was this simple... I do have some concerns about the listings of the 5 digit login codes on the address book, and I have emailed the IT service desk to flag this with them (I assume ti is an error?).

August 09, 2010

The PhD trail begins here…

So I'm delighted to say my PhD in virtual patients is beginning her, supported in full by an arthritis research UK educational research fellowship. I feel very privileged to be sponsored by a charity to perform educational research, and hopefully I will be using this blog as a record of my journey through the PhD application Arthritis Research UKprocess (which started on Friday following my last submission of my MMedEd project to Warwick Medical School. Onwards and upwards...

Arthritis Research UK can be contacted via their website. I hope to  be organising my own fund raising for the charity, which provides excellent research funding both for clinical and educational research into the management of arthritis.

July 08, 2010

Sativex: Cannabis extract comes to the UK without a whimper?

Writing about web page http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

Its been a while since those "cannabis to be grown in the UK for medical research" stories in 2002, but it has finally come onto the UK market in the form of Sativex, a cannabinoid spray marketed by Bayer, for use by  Neurologists in the treatment of the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. So a friend tells me.

So far this week in the news on my drive to work I have been told that:

I nearly choked on my weetabix when ICannabiods make Sativex what it is, but the image of cannabis leaves is not going to make Middle England rest easy for the new sub lingual preparation found out that doctors could be dishing out "cannabis" (well its actually cannabinoids) to anyone (or at least people with Multiple Sclerosis) by my non medical friend. He was told so 'by another friend'. So I investigated, and yes its true. But worry not, I am not a crazed physician on a war against medication, but I'm just a little surprised by the absence of any significant media attention for this.

So a cannabis based medicine is licenced in the UK. Do you have an opinion on this? Well I certainly did before I went to medical school. But lets consider the evidence for this for a minute. If you're not a health professional why not have a quick glance through why. You may not know that you can browse abstracts of virtually all medical research of any quality on the US site PubMed, for free. This is quick, simple, and available to anybody on the internet.

The two main studies are linked below.

Randomised controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
Published in the European Journal of Neurology link here.


A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled parallel-group study of Sativex in subjects with symptoms of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.
Published in Neurology Research, link here.

So. I've read them. Here are my thoughts. Essentially the first study seems to show that about 40% of the patients given the medicine had at least a 30% improvement in their spasticity, measured on an objective spasticity scale.

Seems to work. I am just a little surprised that it hasnt made it into any of the main newspapers or mainstream media from what I have seen. So if you heard it here first, you heard it here first!

Cannabiods make Sativex what it is, but the image of cannabis leaves is not going to make Middle England rest easy for the new sub lingual preparation. What about the potential for abuse? Could it become a street drug with a value to other recreational drug users? A quick scan through PubMed reveals no case reports of illicit drug use. But as compounds as common as co-codamol find their way into recreational use, it will be surprising if there is not some misuse of the drug, albeit perhaps in small amounts.

What about if you really want to know more? A good place to start is often an established charity. With a quick Internet search, the MS Trust has a well written patient information leaflet on the drug, listing the indications, and the likely responses from the medicine. I found it quite informative as a (non neurology) Healthcare professional.

For a bit of light hearted relief, lets look at the side effect profile of the drug, from the pharmaceutical company. Any of these sound familiar? They compare fairly well with what a leading UK drugs charity says about the side effects of the street drug. 

Thoughts or comments (in particular on the media reaction) to this introduction anyone?

Side effect profile of Sativex, cannabinoid extract(1 in 10 to 1 in 100people) [source patient information leaflet, direct quotations] Common side effects of Cannabis [Source: "Talk to Frank" a leading UK drug infromation website for teenagers]

Feeling depressed or confused.

Feeling over-excited or losing touch with reality.

Problems with your memory or having trouble concentrating.

Feeling sleepy or giddy.

Blurred vision.

Difficulty speaking.

Eating more or less than usual.

Changed sense of taste or a dry mouth.

Constipation or diarrhoea.

Feeling or being sick.

Mouth problems, including burning, pain or mouth ulcers

Lack of energy or feeling weak or generally unwell.

Feeling abnormal or drunk.

Loss of balance or falling over.



'Panic attack'



perhaps 'Talk to Frank' need to update thier list!

May 20, 2010

Remember Labour aren't The Good Guys

I have a few Labour supporting friends. They’re already getting misty-eyed about the government that’s just gone. I agree with them that they were probably better than Dick Clemaron’s lot are going to be, but look at what they did while they were in power …

anti-terrorism laws
student top-up fees
against a transparent Parliament
against laws to stop climate change
the Iraq war
against an investigation into the Iraq war
ID cards

Of the people standing to be the next leader, all of them were behind most of those things above, which makes them scum, obviously. The exceptions are Diane Abbott who only fails on half, but is still a total tosser for being into magic beans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Abbott#Support_for_homeopathy

Only one of the candidates seems to be one of the few politicians to be not-scum and that’s John McDonnell. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/john_mcdonnell/hayes_and_harlington

Here’s an excerpt from his maiden speech.

“Despite my respect for the conventions of the House, I shall not perjure myself by praising my immediate Tory predecessor… He was a stain on the character of this House, the Conservative party which harboured him and the good name of my constituency. He brought shame on the political process of this country by his blatant espousal of racism and his various corrupt dealings. He demeaned the House by his presence, and I deeply regret that the Conservative party failed to take action to stem his flow of vile bigotry. Thankfully, my constituents can now say good riddance to this malignant creature.”

How cool is that?

It looks like Labour has one chance to stop being the utter dickwads they were over the past 13 years. What’s the betting they won’t take it?

May 03, 2010

Twitter for Medical Student Lectures?

Writing about web page http://www.medbiq.org/events/conferences/2010/index.html

I had a great time at the International Conference on Virtual Patients in London last week. One of the real positives to come out of the web2.0 discussions was how to hear how students can get engaged with elearning technologies. I personally took one idea as being a really helpful one.Twitter in action

The concept of using twitter and the use of hash-tags (like #lecture) to allow students to post up comments on a running board during the process of a teaching session sounded to me really attractive.

I wonder if anyone else is using a similar technique to help teach, and what their experiences have been. It can be a little daunting teaching groups of 150+, and I guess things could get out of hand, but it sounds like quite an engaging thing to get the students to do. I think Ill roll it out the next time I get to teach a few medical students.

There were quite a few other comments from people attending the conference, I hope to put some of them in a more formal form here.

There is also a great clip on YouTube which really summed up the buzz or the vibe that I'd like to create trying to deliver these new things, from a chap from the University of Arizona. It was interesting to hear the opinions of some of his previous peers on his teaching style, he certainly gets my vote for the high quality production and the messages you get from the video.

May 01, 2010

Responses to Nortongate

It’s nearly a week now since Nortongate, the inclusion of a banner trailing the following programme over the climax to an episode of Doctor Who. There was the outcry from people watching the programme (over 5000 complaints). Then the inevitable backlash from those saying that it’s typical Whovian over-reaction and it just makes them all look like nerds.

I’m not a major Doctor Who fan, but like anyone born in the UK in from the mid-50s to the 70s I grew up with it, it’s not a matter of being a fan, it’s just part of your life, like breathing.You don’t consider whether you like doing it or not, you just do it.

But I complained, as did a few other people I know. And for all of us it was for the first time. But it wasn’t really just about the climax being ruined, I think it’s part of a greater fear.

I’ll try and explain.

Experiencing art is an integral part of the human condition. We need it because engagement with it transports us from our normal daily lives. It elevates us. It varies from person to person what art gets to us, but everyone really human gets it from somewhere. It might be music, movies, painting, but while we’re engaged in it the real world is gone and we’re somewhere else. Psychologists call it telepresence, writers called it the pathetic effect, movie analysts call it the diegetic effect, but it’s a precious thing. It’s why people get angry if people talk in cinemas, or if a mobile goes off in a theatre. Because it’s denying the opportunity for everyone else to experience that moment of transportation.

Putting a banner across a TV screen to advertise another programme does just that, particularly if it obscures a quarter of the screen, particularly if it’s during the climax, and particularly if it’s the first really good episode of the season. It denies that emotional experience of being taken into the moment.

Philip K Dick when discussing his inspiration for Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep spoke about a line he read from a Nazi’s diary, in which the Nazi spoke about being kept awake by the sound of crying children. Instead of a normal human response, this person was just annoyed that he couldn’t get to sleep. PKD postulated that the author wasn’t really human because he had this fundamental element missing from his psyche. He was an android, a robot that just looked like a human.

People who vandalise art, like slashing at a Picasso or something, do so because they know it will shock people. They want a reaction and to have the notoriety that comes with that. That’s bad enough, but these people are human enough to realise that people will react. What’s worrying is that someone at the BBC deliberately vandalised their own art, in fact several people colluded in it. They must have done so without realising that it was vandalism, without knowing that there could have been a pathetic/diegetic effect there to undermine, or that there was and it didn’t matter. This must only make sense if they don’t realise that this is what art is for. They have never experienced a fundamental and essential part of what being human is. I bet they talk in cinemas too.

I think this is what prompted the outcry. It’s not just that people were deprived of an emotional experience that is really a basic human need, but that there are people who are essentially incapable of experiencing human needs in control of one of the major creative institutions in the UK.

If the androids are in control, and if the majority of people don’t care that the androids are in control, then we’re really screwed as a species. The least we can do is complain.

April 15, 2010

Health plays key part of UK's first televised election debate: leaders clash on cancer waits

The future of the NHS and service provision formed a central part of this evenings national election debate from Manchester screened live on ITV with concurrent audio on BBC Radio 4. Health care as expected did play an important role this evening. Here are a few quotes from the chief protagonists, Brown and Cameron:

Gordon Brown on the leader of the opposition, and on health care in general.

He [Cameron] couldn't give the same personal guarantees that we're giving about specialist cancer care

Fair to our National Health Service

Protect our helath service

David Cameron: rhetoric, with some serious points.

Choose hope over fear

Stop labours 'job tax' which could destroy our economy

If you work had 'll be behind you

If you're old and you become ill we will always be there for you.

Gordon Brown attacked the leader of the opposition about their plans and possible changes to the two week wait.But what is this two week wait? If you work as a doctor in the NHS, you'll already know, but for those that may not be so well informed, what does the two week wait actually mean in practice?

Essentially the 2WW (as its popular abbreviation) is the target that a patient with suspected cancer should be seen within two weeks of the referral being received. A good system? It seems so. Actually the targets go further, with the first 'definitive treatment' being delivered within the first 62 days from referral. This essentially means if you need an operation to have your cancer out, it is the responsibility of the doctors to diagnose it and treat it definitively. This means the necessary scans, biopsies pre-op checks and the like to achieve things. Lots of NHS initiatives have been criticised. The four hour wait has long been criticised by doctors (including this one) in Accident and Emergency departments, however it does seem to have driven up standards and efficiency in our hospitals. In principle, the two week wait is a good thing. So why would it be cut by the conservatives?


The answer is complex, and not explained in the media writ large. There has been much focus on labours mailshot to potential cancer sufferers, but what politician in their right mind would cut such progress? (Guardian coverage here). The answer lies in policy and procedure, and represents why health is such a sensitive topic. ON the basis of Browns comments above, who without health insurance would not vote Labour? Unless the plans are presented clearly and simply (tonight they were not) it is difficult for those even inside healthcare to make informed voting decisions on such issues.

The conservative leader did consistently focus on the fact that Labour has had 13 years to fix things: how is Labour currently planning to fix things? By saving money, lets look at if its going to hit the workers in the health service (me) or the patients (me). Are there tough choices that have really been outlined for the NHS to date in terms of cuts?

Efficiency Savings: What is the level of 'pain' the NHS can expect?

These points come from the Department of Healths own press release hereI cant help but provide my own bottom line opinion for what it means to staff and patients.

The Department of Health and the NHS will meet this target through a range of activities including:

  • "Up to £1.5bn will be saved by driving down the costs of procurement through securing best prices for goods and services"
    • The bottom line: no pain for the workers or the patients
  • "£100m will be saved by taking a new approach to the National Programme for IT that offers greater choice to local hospitals"
    • The bottom line: no pain for the workers or the patients (unless you're in IT!)
  • "£60m will be saved by reducing the amount of energy the NHS uses, to deliver a 10 per cent cut in carbon emissions"
    • No pain for the workers or the patients, lots of energy saving light bulbs on the shopping list
  • "Up to £70m will be saved from more efficient use of NHS estates"
    • No pain for the workers or the patients, don't expect to buy the local hydrotherapy pool at a cut price
  • "Up to £555m by reducing staff sickness absence in the NHS."
    • No pain for the workers or the patients, unless you're doing things you shouldn't be.

Andy Burnham the health secretary had the following to say on the 4.5billion saved in the budget.

The NHS budget is in a strong position after a decade of record  investment. I am pleased that today’s Budget locks in that growth, guaranteeing that frontline NHS funding will rise with inflation in 2011-12 and 2012-13.  As a result of this funding, the NHS is today more resilient, has more capacity and provides better care than ever before.

Healthcare, two week waits, cancer services, provision of care for the elderly, the payment of this care, and taxation of those receiving it will continue to play a key part in the election leading up to May 2010. As you can see how these policies, and changes to current policy are presented is likely to influence the publics next choice of government.

Missed it? You can catch up on ITV here on what went on. Id be interested to hear comments from anyone and everyone on the above musings...

March 15, 2010

Ten commands for a digital age

Writing about web page http://sxtxstate.com/2010/03/12/douglas-rushkoff-program-or-be-programmed-ten-commands-for-a-digital-age/

This is a response to Douglas Rushkoff’s, Ten Commands for a Digital Age, because I think he got some of them wrong.

The original set are (and follow the link above)

1. Time. Thou shall not be always on. We are turning an asynchronous net as always on. He encouraged saying “My time is mine.”

2. Distance. Thou shalt not do from a distance what can be done in person. Using long distance in short distance situations. Don’t use distance learning in localized context.

3. Scale – the Internet is biased to scale up. Exalt the particular. Not everything scales, should scale or needs to scale.

4. Discrete – everything is a choice. You may always choose none of the above. Sites like Facebook promote forced choice, you have to choose from a set of options.

5. Complexity – the net reduces complexity. Thou shalt never be completely right.

6. Non-corporeal – out of body. Thou shalt not be anonymous. Rushkoff says “work against tendency of the net to promote anonymity.” Anonymity encourages becoming part of polarized mobs with no sense of consequence, it side steps prejudices. It is liberating to promote yourself online.

7. Contact is king (not content). Remember the humans. “Social marketing is an oxymoron.”

8. Abstraction – as above, so not below. Print abstracts text from the scribe. Hypertext takes it a step further.

9. Openness. Thou shalt not steal. When there is no social contract, openness can continue until there is no one left to give things away. Nothing is free.

10. End users – technology is biased toward consumers. Programmed or be programmed.

I think these are more productive, and more accurate:

1. Time. Thou shall not be always on. Though shall not always be off. Finding people who are never available synchronously is pretty irritating. Having people who demand synchronous communication is too. People can’t stand that I have no work phone. Why should I when it means you can phone me at any time? Skype goes on when I’m ready to be called, and goes off when I’m not.

2. Distance. Thou shall not do face-to-face what you can do at a distance. Why travel to a meeting when you can videoconference? It’s a waste of time and petrol. Sometimes it’s worth it, but not every time. Get to know my avatar (he’s better looking than me anyway).

3. The long tail. Being online is about talking to the particular, not everyone. Help them find you, learn to find them.

4. Personalise. Get to use the features and tech you want, and try not to get sucked into the stuff you don’t. No I will not work on your farm.

5. Complexity. The net increases complexity. There are more opinions and more information than you know what to do with.

6. There is no rule 6.

7. Be master of your own identity. Use the privacy settings. Embrace pseudonymity, create multiple identities. Try not to mix them up.

8. Contact is king (not content). Remember the humans.
Elearning is not just dumping your lecture notes in Blackbored.

9. Openness. Thou shalt not own. Property is theft. When everything is given away there is no-one left to steal.

10. Program or be programmed. The 20th century was a battle between those who resisted technological change, and those who wanted the technological age. The neo-luddites lost. Deal with it.