UK state sanctions intellectual property theft

Welcome to the world of state-sanctioned intellectual property theft, courtesy of the British government, which last week saw its Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act achieve royal assent. This wide ranging yet little reported new law includes a major change to copyright that will take power away from individual content creators and hand it to commercial […]

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UK benefits claimants – welcome to the digital dark age!

Are you resident in Britain and thinking of making an online claim for pension or welfare benefits? That’s fine as long as you are running the Netscape 7 browser under Windows for Workgroups 3.1 on an IBM-compatible PC with an Intel 80286 processor. Anything more up to date and you are left with no options other […]

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Searching for the keyword

Back in July of last year I came upon a fascinating paper on quantitative linguistics which looks at keywords in text and how they convey content. At the time I struggled to find a context in which to report and comment on the study by Dresden and Bologna physicists Eduardo Altmann, Giampaolo Cristadoro and Mirko […]

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The British Conservative Party – not what it used to be

It says a lot about the once esteemed Conservative and Union Party, and indeed UK politics as a whole, that this statement may be made with only the tiniest hint of irony… “He [Kenneth Clarke] claimed some of its supporters were fruitcakes and nutters, the phrase Cameron first used in 2006, but has subsequently not […]

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Can science spot a paedophile?

If a psychological test could distinguish potential or actual child sex offenders from those with natural inclinations, would it be ethical to use it to screen applicants for jobs that involve contact with children? Many of us would surely answer yes to this question, and as a first reaction I would be among the assenters. […]

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Big Society – from interns to volunteers

A volunteer trade union activist writes… There is a discussion underway within the UK science communication community concerning the use of volunteers to run science festivals and the like. We are talking of unpaid roles ranging from logistics to highly skilled science writing and PR. In particular we have a recent call from the Royal […]

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Statutory underpinning – an idea stillborn

With today’s single-digit salute from Britain’s newspaper industry to the Labour-Liberal-Hacked-Off demand for press regulation by statute, and the shrugging of shoulders in Whitehall in response to the alternative Royal Charter, I guess that’s it for Leveson. Apart, that is, from the small matter of an exemplary damages threat that continues to hang over those […]

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Cycle ride: Rochester Sweeps, 6 May 2013

Where: Rochester Sweeps Festival When: Monday 6 May 2013 Meet: 08:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, London SE10 9LW A highlight of the Kentish cultural calendar is the Rochester Sweeps Festival, held over the weekend of the May bank holiday. The Sweeps festival is a mix of music, Morris dancing and various other folk arts, with […]

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London Cycling Awards 2013

The London Cycling Awards are an initiative of the London Cycling Campaign. Traditionally part of LCC’s annual general meeting, providing a chance for hardworking volunteer activists to celebrate their and others’ achievements as well as engage in critical cycling advocacy work, the awards this year will be spun out into a glitzy standalone event dominated […]

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Are we all Thatcherites now?

BBC political editor Nick Robinson writes to argue that prime minister David Cameron’s statement on Radio 4 “in a sense we are all Thatcherites now” is not the offensively partisan political point many take it to be. Oh yes it is. Margaret Thatcher did not forge a new political consensus. The crisis of European social democracy […]

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