I’d just like to draw attention to my dear friend Vib’s latest entry with which I agree entirely and which I hope many people will read…
(unfortunately I seem to be unable to track back to the entry – Blogs doesn’t like me)
In response to Trev’s heartfelt pleadings and the fact that I haven’t blogged for a VERY long time…
An article decribing some of the comments of Warwick sociology professor Steve Fuller was printed on the front page of the Boar on 7th November (a long time ago, I know). In it, Fuller is said to advocate the use of fraudulent data in scientific research in order to tweak results and make conclusions more convincing. He has even defended the actions of South Korean professor Woo Suk Hwang, who pretended that he had managed to clone a human embryo. He decribes the approach he suggests as ‘idealising’ results rather than ‘fraud’.
The article also details a survey take by Nature in the US which suggests that a third of postgraduate researchers did not follow ethical guidelines in their research. Currently, when articles come to publication, the journal editors have to essentially take them on face value. Fuller argues that we shouldn’t put so much trust in our scientists.
Should we take the scientists’ word for it? Should there be some kind of vetting system aiming to identify fraudulent research? Would measures of this kind ‘slow the pace of science down prohibitively’, as Fuller puts it? How easy would it be possible to maintain some kind of uniform standard in this vetting system? Does the fact that some kind of scientific fraud takes place already, and that eradicating it would be very difficult, justify its existence to the extent that we shouldn’t do anything about it? If you allow some kind of fraud (the ‘tweaking’ of results, for instance) how do you then stop it from going beyond just ‘tweaking’? Can we then trust the scientists to ‘tweak’ their results in the direction of the actual truth (inaccuracies can happen either through intentional bias or just because the data subtly suggests something that on further investigation actually turns out to be fictitious)?
Why is it that people are not blogging anymore?? Surely writing on your blog is far more fun than doing work.. I wonder if the freshers even know that the phenomena that is a blog exists. Anyway, I’m writing an essay on prostitution. It’s highly entertaining stuff. I mean it, it’s really interesting.
I have now come up with names for my now two remaining fish, as I can indeed confirm that the third little one is still missing, presumed eaten. After a whole lot of deliberation I have christened my fish Mini-me and Chip. Wanting at first to name them Fish and Chip I soon realised that it was cruel to the little creature named Fish and would most certainly only result in bullying from the much larger Chip. Really, would you want to be named ‘Human’, or someting of a similar nature?? Clearly not!! So not being able to name my fish Fish how then could my mind not wander but to the ruler of the Oceans; the sword fish of sword fish; the majestic Marlin (ie. MEEEEEEEE in a sort of weird sense). In my logic I decided that the nearly-named Fish did indeed look like a mini version of me; certainly after scaling me down about 100 times and removing the spear-like snout you end up with something that looks just like Mini-me!!
So that you can all see this likeness I’ve inserted two images. Clearly
Obviously I did think of naming my fish Mini-me and Nemo but there is just no likeness at all between either Mini-me or Chip and a Clown fish to warrant the name Nemo. Besides, implying that one is the father of the other would just be absurd!!
The other day I sat down (a relatively rare occurrance at the moment) and watched the Horizon programme about Isabelle Dinoire, the first person to receive a face transplant. Isabelle was mauled by her pet dog, an horrific incident which left her without her lips, part of the flesh on her chin and the bottom half of her nose. Nearly a year ago she underwent the first ever face transplant operation, which was a success.
Whilst Isabelle was, herself, incredibly positive about the operation and its results, a huge amount of contraversy and argument has surrounded the proceedure.
I used the library for the first time today. Well, properly used it. I got a book out and everything and whilst I was wondering around aimlessly, not really knowing where to look I was wondering to myself whether some people just instinctively know how to use the jungle that is the Library. Is it a gene that I somehow lack?
I was slightly embarassed at being a third year student and still had to ask someone how to use the photocopyer properly :s or how to return an SRC book. I felt stupid and now I wallow in self-pity because I’ve got a cold…
Anyway, I think that one of my fish has been eaten. I can’t seem to find him anywhere and to be realistic there’s not that many places that he could hide. Who ever knew goldfish were carnivores?
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5296200.stm
Yesterday the British Fertlity Society announced recommendations for all seriously obese and underweight women to be refused IVF on the NHS, something that some Primary Care Trusts already practise, in an attempt to homogenise the availability of treatment throughout the country.
Why is it that obese women are being refused IVF? A representative from the BFS has cited a reduced chance of falling pregnant and an increase in complications during the pregnancy itself. Why, then, are women smokers allowed IVF so freely? According to one news report yesterday smokers do have an equal chance of falling pregnant as completely healthy women, but the increased chance of complications is significant. If the mother has a medical condition that causes or at least exacerbates her obesity should she be treated any differently? Should we merely consider the probability of conception or also bear in mind the long-term health of the mother and child?
Or is this starting to infringe on our civil liberties?
The BFS also recommended that single women and same sex couples should be given the same priority as heterosexual couples.
Some PCTs are reported to take into account social factors when deciding if IVF is permitted, including whether either parent has already had children from a previous relationship and whether they have undergone IVF privately before turning to the NHS. Should these factors be taken into account? What if the couple have already had children together and want more?
Should the NHS fund IVF at all? Is having children a right? Is it equal to the right to life-saving treatment of injuries and diseases, bearing in mind that the money for all treatments comes from the same budget, and that the NHS has been beleaguered with many much-publicised financial strains? Or is it a luxury that the parents themselves should fund? Or do you agree with Dr Gillian Lockwood of the BFS ethics committee, that “the fourth richest country on earth should be able to afford effective fertility care for its citizens”.
What do you think?
I'm currently listening to an interesting programme on Radio 4 about the current 'crisis' in sperm donation. Recent law changes have given the children of sperm donors the right to trace their fathers once they reach adulthood. Unsurprisingly, this has significantly decreased the numbers of sperm donors to a critical point.
Writing about web page http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg19125591.800.html
In a recent New Scientist article about the practicalities of polygamy as a lifestyle choice, a psychology professor said:
Infidelity in monogamous relationships is estimated at 60 to 70 per cent, so it seems that attraction to more than one person is normal.
I found that statistic quite surprising, if not slightly scary… is it really true???
On a different, but not unrelated, point… is the divorce rate going up because more relationships are actually failing? Or is it just because relationships that would previously have been maintained due to the stigma attached to divorce, but that had really failed, are being actively severed? How can we tell?
Writing about web page http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19025556.200?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg19025556.200
Thank you to Duncan for sending me a link to the above article.
The internet is a fantastic tool: I myself would feel significantly at a loss without it. It allows you immediate access to a wealth of information, allows instant communication across the globe and transfer of data and ideas.
The advantages for scientists, for instance, could be huge: they will have unprecedented access to each other's experimental datasets and will be able to perform their own analyses on them. Searching for products such as holidays will become easier as price and availability dates will have smart tags, allowing powerful searches across hundreds of sites.
However, a comment was posted on my recent entry suggesting that certain contributors might want to restrict the things they mentioned in a public forum. Whilst I have no problem with people contrubuting in whatever way they like to my blog, I do worry that sometimes we may reveal too much. Several times I have read surprised entries from students who have discovered that their parents read their blogs.
"I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley–based maker of encryption software. He is far from alone in noticing that fast–growing social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster are a snoop's dream … "You should always assume anything you write online is stapled to your resumé. People don't realise you get Googled just to get a job interview these days"
New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code–breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology – specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C – to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all–embracing personal profiles of individuals.
There are examples of people who have been sacked from their jobs for revealing details of excessive drinking and drug–taking, and some who have been barred from religious colleges after revealing their homosexuality.
Why do bloggers so readily reveal such information online? Do we really consider the potential readership? Should we be more worried about the information employers and even governments can gather? Did the people mentioned above deserve their dismissal or should their treatment have been more lenient?
Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/documents/t20060626.shtml
I heard, whilst prising myself from a rather deep sleep this morning, the words of Clifford Longley on Thought For The Day. He emphasised the need for a reasoned dialogue to begin about Trident and general nuclear issues.
Catholic bishops in Scotland have started the ball rolling with an outspoken rejection on moral grounds of the whole theory of nuclear weapons. They are just not compatible with God's commandment Thou shalt not kill, they argued, because possessing them entailed a conditional willingness to use them. That means an intention to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It is immoral to sign up to such a policy, say the bishops. But if so, how do we defend ourselves from the ultimate threat, a nuclear 9/11 or 7/7? Isn't that a moral duty too?
How exactly do we follow through this moral argument? Is a nuclear weapon morally wrong because of the intention to kill? If so, what about an armed police officer? Yes, they will presumably use is as a last resort and only ever when provoked, but the possibility of injury or even death is still there. I've read many recent comments applauding the killing of Abu Musab al–Zarqawi, the leader of al–Qaeda in Iraq. Granted, he was a brutal murderer and in the opinion of many got what he deserved, but was his killing morally right?
In the hands of politicians, these decisions are going to be reduced to issues of national pride and/or the cost to the taxpayer, or even personality clashes between ministers. As a nation we have to lift our game. Sometimes politics really is too important to be left to the politicians.
How important is the moral debate when weighed up against the other considerations of cost and practicality?
I read a comment in a newspaper recently, I can't remember where, in which the author complained about the commemoration of important tragedies: 9/11, 7/7, the world wars etc. He moaned about constantly being forced to remember depressing events.
Another man, Charles Wolfe, who moved to New York in 1979 and lost his wife Katherine who was working inside Tower One on 11 September, said: "I'm ready for the big ceremonies to stop, it is bringing up grief unnecessarily."
I seem to remember an outcry from some at the incredible extent of the mourning following Princess Diana's death. Speaking seven weeks before the anniverary of her death, the Most Rev David Hope, England's second most senior archbishop, called for people to stop "wallowing" in it.
Are we wallowing in the remembrance of tragedies to a greater extent than we have done before? How important is it for us to continue to celebrate the lives and sacrifices of soldiers, disaster victims etc? Does it also serve as an important reminder for future generations? And is any of our commemoration too over–the–top or even utterly inappropriate?
Last weekend Justin and I went for a stroll down the Grand Union Canal – a very pleasant way to spend an hour or two. Whilst we walked I was struck by something I'd almost forgotten about but that I have been intending to blog for quite a while.
Almost every time we came across someone a generation or more above us we exchanged a 'hello', 'good afternoon' or something similar and we even struck up a short conversation with a couple on a passing canal boat. This was the same when I used to go walking and cycling in the South Downs at home. However, I'd probably think twice about doing the same with someone of my own generation. This to me seems to be a real shame.
Why have we stopped being friendly? Is it because we have become more aware of the potential risks posed by strangers? If so, why should someone of the younger generation necessarily pose less of a risk than an older person? Why are we so friendly when out in the countryside, for example, whereas similar exchanges are not usually seen on the streets of a town? Is it the expression of some feeling of companionliness with someone who obviously enjoys a similar pastime?
I heard a comment last week, I think at the beginning of a TV programme I didn't actually stay up to watch, that someone found the abundant England flags that are so prevalent at the moment to be threatening. This interested me.
As a country I don't think we are particularly patriotic any longer. Indeed, as a contrast, Anna remarked on arrival on the other side of the world that the Brazilians for one are incredibly proud of their country and are not backward in showing it. Why do we not fly the flag to the same extent as we once did? Do we feel that it's politically incorrect in some way (do we not express feelings of pride because we feel they are inappropriate or do we really no longer feel so much pride)? Why does it take the advent of a major sporting tournament for us to become so patriotic?
Why on earth should an English person feel so threatened by a flag representing his own country displayed in his own country? Is it because of the association with the darker and more violent side of football that has gained some England supporters unwelcome notoriety? If so why should all displays of patriotism be associated with this minority?
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5018998.stm
I found this article on the BBC News website very interesting, not least because it made me think about my own habits.
The idea put forward is that random exposure to subjects, viewpoints and media that you would not usually search for is important in broadening people's horizons and even in increasing their creativity. But is new technology increasing or decreasing the incidence of serendipity it? And is it really that important?
Am I the only one who considers some questions in exams worthy the phrase ‘to kill for’?? You know those questions you can actually answer!! Why is it that they only appear in past exams, and usually last year’s as well so that there is absolutely no chance of them appearing this year??
Why is it that the only topics I consider not worthwhile to revise, because they have never appeared in the past, always show up in the compulsory part of the exam?? Using this logic I’d say that the topics that will turn up in my exam tomorrow will be on auditing, cash flow statements and probably activity based costing. There won’t be anything on absorption costing or ratio analysis now that I have learnt all the 17 equations by heart and know how to apply them.
On a good note though, I have realised that the maths and stats department have a sort of reward scheme. Meaning if you overload on your CATS, which I have done, you can in theory get a 2 (1) without actually performing to a 2 (1) standard. So you see for me to get a 2 (1), as an example, I only in fact need to get an average of 57.3% in my exams. Similarly for me to get a first I only need 66.8%. So it really pays off to do fuck–loads (obviously up to a point) and overload your CATS. It makes me happy, although it was pointed out to me that I should always aim to get a 100%, which I’d say is relatively impossible but none the less I get the point.
So yes, this little 'reward scheme' is why people in the past have got more than 100% as calculated using the Seymour Formula in their exams, sadly not me though.
Anyway, enough of geekyness. Exam tomorrow (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!), have to continue with my revision. (And yes I know that one can say that blogging is not geeky whereas revision is…)
Sitting there on the Piazza eating ice–cream with Mez, Helen and Ros I was watching all the finalists celebrating the fact that they have finished their exams. Alcohol aplenty; champagne, beer, you name it, they were drinking it. Anyway what I want to say is: please have some compassion for those of us who haven’t actually even started our exams yet. Yup, that does include me; I’ve got another 18 days and 6 exams to go!!! Don’t tempt us with wild parties and call us losers when we turn them down. It’s just not fair… sobs quietly I won't even be finished by the time the World Cup starts.
oh well, I’ve got revision to get on with.
You know you’re losing it when…
1. You put shower gel in your hair as opposed to shampoo
2. You walk out of your house to the library with your bedroom slippers
3. You walk out of your house to the library in your pyjama bottoms
4. You wear your shirt inside out
5. You pay for shopping with your NUS card
6. You use your bank card to get into the library
7. You get immensely annoyed at that ANNOYING TWAT GIRL sitting next to you in the SILENT READING ROOM yakking away to ANNOYING TWAT GIRL’S mate and then eating food and having the window WIDE OPEN when it’s –394723498203 DEGREES OUTSIDE so much so that you want to rip your own arm off and beat her with it (but obviously it’s okay if you chat to your mates and eat food and have the window open if you’re hot, duh)
8. You actually try this 4 hour sleep cycle pattern bullshit (due to rather recent experiments (i.e. last night/this morning), the author can safely conclude that it is, in actuality, a crock of shit)
9. You can’t spell anymore and temporarily develop mild dyslexia
10. “Rape” or “shafted” are your new favourite words. For example: “I just got absolutely raped in that exam, [insert lecturer’s name here] totally shafted me”, or “exam was awesome, I totally raped it.” (unfortunately author has not used latter phrase as of yet)
11. You try to cook something without turning the fire on
12. You go to your seat in the exam hall with your notes still in your hand until you’re politely reminded by your mate that “er…should you be taking them to your seat?” No.
13. You put milk into your green tea
14. Despite planning desperately ahead, you still somehow end up with only 7 items for the 8–item Rootes breakfast (and still don't know how or why)
15. You set 39810934734027 alarms but still can’t sleep in the fear that they will not go off and you’ll miss your beloved exam
16. You look more rough than an old man's wrinkly bottom (and every day is bad hair day)
17. You’re about to put your toothbrush in Vaseline thinking it’s toothpaste
18. You get lost in the library (the SRR is a fucking maze)
19. You love the fact that it’s wonderful weather (i.e. pissing it down) so no one can go out and play because you can’t either (“if I’m going down on this sinking ship I’m bringing everyone down with me” motto innit)
20. You get totally soaked trying to get home due to abovementioned wonderful weather and realise that you had a brolly in your bag all along
Obviously, I’m not losing it as I’ve done none of the above.
P.S. Happy Birthday Els xxxxxxxx
With the current murmerings about the rights of criminals being overplayed and victims being put at extra risk a story in this morning's Metro seemed particularly apt.
Jonathan Wright was assaulted by Michael Donohoe and hit over the dead with a nail–studded post, leaving him with a three–inch gash over his ear. However, when he applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation he was turned down because he swore at his assailant. Quoting from the letter of refusal…
Your conduct, in being verbally abusive towards the assailant, was an important factor in the incident.
I had a rather random conversation today, the upshot of which was the following:
I was attempting to avoid the H5N1 bandwagon but it looks like I failed…
Many have complained recently about the coverage of the bird flu story in the media, saying that it has been sensationalist and potentially panic–inducing. This is clearly a difficult subject because whilst the chances of the virus mutating and becoming a transmissible human virus are relatively low, if this does actually happen the resultant pandemic could be terrifying. It depends on how you classify a potential crisis. The BBC has on its forum, as many have highlighted, a series of alarmist comments from members of the public (as well as, presumably, a swathe of others asking everyone to calm down). The BBC and newspapers have been criticised for their own coverage of the situation.
The opening paragraph from a recent New Scientist article read:
I have nothing against miracles, but whenever there's a big buzz about a new drug, it's a fair bet it'll be down to the usual suspects: vested interests, early research, and uncritical journalists.
I'm sure everyone will be aware of the hype surrounding the release, and subsequent variable availability, of the new breast cancer drug Herceptin. The media pronounced it a 'wonder drug', but how many people know the real truth about its successes? The tests carried out showed that Herceptin benefits only a small number of women – shrinking tumours in only 15% of cases – yet the early reports did not make this clear. The trial was carried out on women who had cancers that had been treated early. Emphasising a figure of a 52% reduction in recurrence in a group who already have a small chance of re–contracting the disease is misleading (even those who have no treatment after surgery have a recurrence maximum of 10% per year, dropping to 3% after 10 years). The test groups were also very small – only in the 10s – so the perceived advantages could have been down to pure chance. Yet this drug was described as a potential ‘cure’ by the 2006 President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology: a man who is also a paid consultant to Genentech, Herceptin’s US distributor.
Another important recent medical story was about the drugs trial that left six men critically ill. Many criticisms were voiced at the time criticising and even blaming the manufacturer of the drug. Yet when a follow–up story came out declaring that the manufacturer had followed all the required protocols and was thus not guilty of any negligence it didn't make the BBC News website front page, nor the Science and Nature front page. In fact, I had to do a search to find it.
Now, I don’t begrudge anyone access to a treatment that may save or help to sustain their lives: far from it. However, bearing in mind the huge variation between the hype and the reality in the case of Herceptin I can’t help but think that the injustice has been blown slightly out of proportion. Again with H5N1, there is a balance to be had between the potential risks. But is it the duty of the media to reflect these issues realistically and in a balanced manner? The newspapers need to sell and the TV companies need to maximise viewer ratings, and sensational stories will help with this. However, whereas newspapers are private companies, the BBC is publicly funded and has a Board of Governors who purport to act as ‘trustees of the public interest’. Is it in the public interest for these stories to be reported in a totally balanced manner or should we be expected to draw our own conclusions based on the true facts? How do you ensure a balanced coverage when many important stories may be reported many times, each time with a potentially different slant? Surely the purpose of a forum is to air the views of the public: should the BBC or any other company censor its fora to prevent potential hysteria or is this unfair?
I just want to say congrats to everyone who got the position they wanted in the football elections yesterday. And while it’s great that so many of the positions were contested it’s certainly never easy to choose between friends. It was never clear cut who was going to win. This is the line up for next year:
VICE PRESIDENT – Amanda
1ST TEAM CAPTAIN – Kirsty
2ND TEAM CAPTAIN – little Jen
SOCIAL SECS – Tam and Soph
1ST TEAM FIXTURE SEC – Slipper
2ND TEAM FIXTURE SEC – Fosters
TOUR SEC – Els
KIT & SPONSORSHIP SEC – Ros
Despite this being a “young” exec with only 4 people having been on the exec this year, I’m fairly certain that we can work well together.
Obviously I’m pleased to have been elected president. Think that it’s always been expected of me to run for the position, which is probably why no one ran against me yesterday.
PS. Thank you Rich for picking me up yesterday. Don't know what I'd do without you.
PPS. Well done to everyone who got (proper) awards yesterday. Can't think of people who deserve them more than you guys.
It’s that time of term again. The dreaded end to a good social life; being able to eat when you feel like it; not having to care about anyone apart from yourself (if you’re single that is). Yup, tomorrow I’m going home…
It also means that I’m edging closer to my birthday. This year I’m turning 22!! Why does that feel so much older than 21?? Before I know it, I’ll be 30, still single and well…I don’t know…something.
But obviously, it’s also time for something I’ve been looking forward to for months now. It’s nearly time for TOUR. On the 20th I’ll be jetting off to Spain, together with other equally as mad people. It’s going to be amazing!!
Have to tidy up my room; parents are coming in a few hours time. Tomorrow they are taking me to Crufts at the NEC. Clearly my idea of heaven!! I would not much rather have a long lie-in, or just relax. Nope, I absolutely love watching dogs run around a ring for a whole day. It's bliss.
So anyway, tomorrow I'm going home. Start working as a dental nurse at 8 o'clock Monday morning. Will be back on Saturday though for football :)