Tuesday, 24 November 2009


A marketing genius at Microsoft has hired the only UK girl-group everyone thinks was better in a previous iteration to promote Windows 7. Well thought-out, that man.

(Also, I pity the fool whose job it is to read the submissions to the competition: "Win a private gig with the Sugababes! Enter your perfect gig ideas now..." - didn't someone just get sued for that sort of thing by Girls Aloud?)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stephen Fry vs Catholics

From the recent Intelligence Squared debate, here's Stephen Fry on the Catholic Church:

(skip to 2m30 to avoid Ann Widdecombe)

He starts out in such a measured and nice way that when he begins to round on the church for all its ills it really is magnificent to watch and considerably better than Christopher Hitchens' blustery attempt. Fry really is an excellent lecturer.
According to PoliticsHome, Evan Harris has written to Alan Johnson accusing him of a litany of errors.

Bless him (in an entirely rationalist manner) for this.

I think it's pretty shameful that the Home Secretary is allowed to wander into Parliament and basically lie about everything in order to get his way. Harris's comprehensive demolition of Johnson's comments probably won't change anything at all, but it does demonstrate how morally bankrupt the arse-end of Nu Labour's ministerial picks have become.

This is one of those days on which I find politics deeply depressing rather than exciting.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Hurray! The Lib Dems website has finally got an accent colour! Now everything is not just varying shades of piss-yellow.

This is a massive improvement.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

On the ACMD

According to this Times leader and elsewhere:

The classification of drugs involves many issues besides its harmfulness — the social context is important.

But the ACMD's job is explicitly to consider social implications of drug use. That's why of the 28 members listed here:
- 6 are police or probation officers or judges
- 8 lead drug charities or work in social work
- 7 are medical doctors or vetinarians (one vet and one dentist!)
- 6 are what we might normally call "scientists" (3 psych and 3 chemists)
- 1 is a school inspector

(The 3 resignees are 2 pharmacologists and 1 medical doctor iirc).

As you can see, the council is already made up of several members whose job is to investigate the social effects of substance (ab/mis)use. To claim otherwise is to either not do your homework or be deliberately misleading.

Dispiritingly, I presume that the media simply can't be bothered to check their facts properly.

Monday, 2 November 2009

If you're as angry about Alan Johnson's sacking of Prof David Nutt from the ACMD as I am, you could do a lot worse than signing this petition and passing it on.

You might think that these petitions rarely go places, but there's a chance to catch the popular zeitgeist here if thousands and thousands of people pile on.

It's really important that scientists are able to express their reasoned scientific opinion in public even if they do work for the government, and attempting to gag them in this way is unacceptable. Stand up for rational debate in this country! Sign the petition!