Scurrilous and scabrous journalism can be a good thing

Writing in today’s Thunderer, barrister and former UK Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC presents a solid case against privacy laws which protect the powerful, rich and famous, and work against a free and open society. One particular passage stands out for me: “We have a rich tradition of scurrilous, even scabrous, journalism in […]

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David Cameron’s post-bureaucratic fantasy

British Tory leader and likely future prime minister David Cameron made a speech yesterday in which he talked of the need for “a massive culture change at every level of government to make the state careful, not casual, with public money … a culture of thrift.”. This will be a “post-bureaucratic age”, says Cameron: one […]

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Teens using cannabis for self-medication

An ethnographic study published today by researchers at the University of British Columbia suggests that around a third of teenagers who smoke cannabis are doing so primarily as a means of relieving medical problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, lack of concentration and physical pain. The work by Joan Bottorff and her colleagues is […]

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China’s carbon balance increases the political pressure

With talk of the need for global cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions, and the reluctance of some developing countries to reduce their fossil fuel consumption when North America and Europe are largely responsible for the problem of anthropogenic climate change, it’s worthwhile looking at the numbers involved. We now have an estimate of China’s carbon […]

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Holocaust dealt lasting blow to world’s Jews

All but a few madmen and megalomaniacs accept that the Nazis set out to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe, and that in the period 1941–45 over six million Jews and members of other minority groups died at the hands of the Odin-worshipping fascists. But what lasting impact did the Shoah have on world Jewry? […]

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Media distortion of science or sloppy subediting?

In a recent(ish) issue of New Scientist, Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, complains about misrepresentation of scientific research by subeditors looking for snappy headlines and memorable standfirsts. In his printed response to an article in the Guardian about his research group’s study of foetal testosterone levels and post-natal autistic traits, Baron-Cohen […]

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A very musical graveyard

A lean, mean cycling machine friend of mine took me yesterday on a 100-km cycling tour from Chislehurst into rural Surrey and back. It was a fine, sunny day, and we had an excellent if for me challenging ride up and down the North Downs in Kent, and the rolling hills of eastern Surrey. Before […]

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It’s mob rule on the streets of London

I’d like to think that the tragic death of bystander Ian Tomlinson during the recent G20 protest in London is the least of the Metropolitan Police Service’s worries. However, I fear all that will come of this, and commissioner Paul Stephenson’s promised review of police tactics during public order operations, are one or two scapegoats […]

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Sugary coating

Saccharose sugar crystals (image: Lauri Andler/Phantom – GFDL) Industrial lobby group The Sugar Bureau has recently undergone a makeover, with a website re-launch, and the inclusion of a Science Centre in which the organisation discusses the role of sugar in nutrition and health. Images on the website are mostly of fit, attractive young people engaged in […]

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Why we hate politics (part 99)

You know that something is seriously rotten in British politics when blogger Paul Staines, aka “Guido Fawkes”, is behind the story of the day. Staines, who writes pompously about himself in the third person, is a bloggertarian (read lumpen Tory) with nothing better to do than spread gossip about UK politics and personalities from his […]

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