Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


So today I sent this email as a reminder to the members of my research team.

“I write this email because University management has abdicated all responsibility towards the wellbeing of their staff and students, and their families. Current University and UK government Covid ‘rules’ contradict the most simple evidence, which is based on exceptionally solid physics and biology/medicine. We are scientists capable of critical thinking, and we should carry these qualities into our daily lives.  

(more…)

Read Full Post »


The UK schooling system is an example of the mirage of choice and how the mantra of ‘choice’ is used to reduce choice, opportunity and promote ideology.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Clots and vaccines


Blood clots, for example, deep vein thromboses or pulmonary embolisms, are serious and we should rightly be concerned about these. With ~ 17 M doses of the AZ vaccine delivered into people, we have reports of 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis occurs at rate of 0.1% (so 1 in 1000) across all age groups, increasing with age. So every day that means around 47 cases in a population of 17 million – in fact it will be more, because those vaccinated are not representative of the population, but an older segment.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


In three weeks schools re-open and a few weeks later undergraduates return to university. Universities appear to be moving to a model of having all students in attendance, and using a lot of remote teaching. This in itself is not necessarily a bad idea, as there will be facilities available and for 1st years in Halls and for many later year undergraduates they may have better internet connectivity, plus there is the library various computer rooms.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


The UK fiasco in school exam grades highlights the poverty of the political class in all the constituent nations, though the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon are rather better than their Westminster counterparts. Better because after defending the indefensible, they came up with the only equitable solution given the circumstances. In contrast Westminster keeps digging.

The challenge was caused by locking down too late, though this has not been admitted and never will. Consequently, schools could not re-open, so no examinations (Highers, A-levels etc.). Add in the multiplicity of exam boards separate from government, with a central office responsible for oversight, and you have a rigid system, unable to adapt to new circumstances. So impossible to construct alternative assessments, as was done successfully and to great effect in other countries.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


My e-mail of July 6 has yet to elicit a response. That is over 3 weeks ago, and our representatives should at the least acknowledge receipt of correspondence from their constituents within two weeks. Of course, it is quite possible that, as my representatives grapple with the complexities of their new hi-tech offices and systems, things are slipping through the net. So today I have resent the e-mail. With summer holidays on (though an MEP should maintain a skeleton staff at all times, since they have the taxpayer-funded budget for this), I would expect to receive a reply by the Bank Holiday.

Read Full Post »


I have written the following to my Brexit Party Representatives in the European Parliament. At the heart of parliamentary democracy is the idea that our representatives do indeed represent the interests of their constituents, regardless of Party politics. Of course interests have to be balanced but when these are win-win, there can be no reason for not representing a particular interest. As the matter is not a personal one, then I have also put it on my blog, since there is no reason for secrecy.

I will, of course, post any further correspondence, unless it is confidential for some reason.

“Dear Ms Fox (& cc’ed to Mr Nielsen and Mr Bull)

I am writing to you as one of your constituents regarding an issue which affects me personally and the region. As a University Professor I have over the years been awarded research funds from various Framework Programmes. Most recently, I am part of the €4M FET-OPEN programme “ArrestAD”. This aims to test a new paradigm for Alzheimer’s Disease screening and lay the foundation for a new class of drugs that would arrest the disease.

FET-OPEN projects are very much blue skies and in our case we appear to have hit the jackpot. The trials of the diagnostic in Paris and Warsaw  are quite spectacular and our own work has shown that the targets which ArrestAD has proposed are eminently druggable.

ArrestAD is a 4 year programme. As in any blue skies research, towards the end of the penultimate year a decision is made by the research team whether we should apply for a new, larger project, under one of the translational programmes available under H2020, or to can the idea, in the event it isn’t going to deliver.

Since ArrestAD is delivering its promise, the team will be going forward and applying for a translational programme. This will involve further clinical centres and greater industry participation, since we need more patients and, for drug development, far greater resource.

Alzheimer’s being what it is, ArrestAD obviously impacts widely and not just on myself: there are substantial social and economic ramifications for our region, the UK, and beyond.

The problem we face is that with a so-called No Deal Brexit, the UK loses access to funding from H2020 and the future framework programme. There is no  legislation in the UK Parliament that would guarantee funding as a 3rdcountry. The upshot is that Brexit will prevent my continued contribution to this likely life-changing research programme. Importantly, it will prevent the UK from reaping economic benefit (clinical trials, pharmaceutical industry).

As my representative in the European Parliament, it is imperative that you work to find a solution, which ensures that the drug development arm of this project remains based in the UK, and that the UK is able to participate fully in the wider clinical trials of the diagnostic. I think you would agree that given the impact of this dreadful disease, this is in everyone’s interests.”

Read Full Post »


For those who follow the news, though helium is rather common in the solar system, it is rare on earth. The shortages were predicted some years ago, and were put off only by the Pentagon agreeing to put some of its strategic reserve into the market.

We now face the first self-inflicted shortage: helium is now rationed in the UK. Self-inflicted, because we waste it, e.g., balloons and no recovery of the gas at point of use. This of course is all down to cost, and testimony, in a small way, to the failure of applying market principles across the board without any strategic consideration.

Read Full Post »

Vote or be damned


We now have two UKIP parties, UKIP led by Batten, and The Brexit Party led by Farage. They and their MEPs rarely turn up for work yet collect a big fat salary.

There is ONLY ONE WAY to stop these freeloaders getting a fat salary for no work: vote for someone else.

How to get rid of these scum

  1. Register to vote and go and vote (MEP elections will follow the Council ones).
  2. Check that 10 of your mates are registered and that they go and vote on the day.
  3. Make sure each of your 10 mates gets 10 of their mates out.

That way we get a result.

Who to vote for? Anyone, but not UKIP or The Brexit Party.

Why will this work?

The elections to the European parliament are by proportional representation. That means each party is allocated seats according to the % of the vote they get.

This is completely different to how we elect Councillor sand MPs, where the candidate with the most votes in a ward/constituency gets elected, regardless of the % of the vote a party gets across all constituencies in the country.

Core  UKIP voters vote anyway. The reason UKIP gets MEPs is because the rest of us cannot be bothered to turn up and vote. So there are less votes in total and the UKIP % is inflated accordingly. The more of us vote, the lower their %, the fewer MEPs they get. It is that simple.

Read Full Post »

Let’s focus on real problems?


As the UK political class is consumed by Brexit and that in the US by the Mueller investigation, things are happening in the world.  Chatting with my brother on the ‘phone this weekend I was amazed to hear that Vancouver has been hit by wildfire smog. So I checked the map. Yes, BC is on fire.

While logging doesn’t help, drought is a major contributor. The coastal ranges of BC where there have been substantial fires are a wet place, a temperate rainforest. These don’t catch fire easily unless it doesn’t rain.

Look south of the border and the entire west is on fire.

It would be wise to act vigorously before it is too late. Brexit here has a major lesson. No country can go it alone and maintain its current level of civilisation and development, we are too interdependent. Alone, you lack many key ingredients that we take for granted, from medicines to electronics, because these are by necessity made (or parts are) somewhere else. The super rich buying up properties in New Zealand as a bolt hole against the catastrophe that is global warming are rich and stupid in equal measure: New Zealand may be ‘safe’ physically, but have they considered where the factories making their medication is? No.

While some politicians in some countries take this seriously, it isn’t where it should be on the agenda – in top spot, with a regular broadcast in the news of CO2 production, as one can get for electricity generation (just one source of greenhouse gases) in the UK for @myGridGB. The reason why this has not happened yet is not one of science communication, but one of corruption and an unwillingness of government to lead.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »