Thursday, June 29, 2006


Aside from the fact that the good Archbishop means 'Christianophobia' (christophobia means fear of christ, which is different to fear of christians), this is pure paranoia. A good chunk of our government are born again christians (starting with Tony Blair himself). And as for the US government...

There's a good review of 'The End of Faith' over at the London Book The point is clear, tolerating religion is like tolerating belief in the flat earth. Sure, people can believe it if they want, but surely they don't expect any respect because of it?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Power walking

Now this I do like a lot - an alternative power source that utilises the kinetic energy of people walking to generate electricity. Neat. Also neat is this story about using urine as a source of low-current power for medical devices.

Not so neat are the growing levels of hype in favour of nuclear power. With parts of the 'green' movement switching to supporting the nuclear option, the government is slowly but surely heading in the pro-nuclear direction. And the latest headline green to rethink the nuclear option is none other than George Monbiot. In a piece for the LA Times he comes out in favour of nukes as a way of stopping the advance of coal.

With influential figures like him swapping sides it will be interesting to see how the movement against nuclear energy develops.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cellulosic Ethanol

Excellent article on this over at Environmental Science & Technology Online. Things are looking better on this technology all the time. If the technical hurdles can be overcome then this makes the future look a lot rosier than it could be.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A criminal absence of logic

Just found the above article on timesonline. It's an op-ed piece by Jamie Whyte (author of Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking) , on the relationship between crime and imprisonment. He's partly right in attributing high-imprisonment with a reduction in crime, but there's more to it than that, as Steven Levitt showed in Freakonomics.

Still, it's an interesting and amusing read and well worth seeking out.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Animals are less valuable than human beings

Excellent piece in Spiked-online about medical research on animals. Not for the first time Spiked leads the way in arguing for human superiority and for scientific research. Even the vexed question on research on primates is tackled head on - yes, we should be able to experiment on primates if the research is important enough. Nobody wants to use apes for finding heart burn drugs or for cosmetics.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Knife crime

Good article by Shaun Bailey in the Telegraph today. Writing about the kids he works with on estates in West London, he describes a situation where carrying a knife is the norm, and using it is common-place. The knife amnesty that the police have just launched is a fairly pointless exercise for the cameras. The people most likely to hand in a weapon are those least likely to use it.

What to do about it? Unfortunately there are no easy answers, no matter what politicians would like us to think. A simple step, however, might be to make searches for weapons a routine part of contact between the police and teenage boys (and girls). Anytime that the police have to deal with these kids, whether it's because someone's made a complaint or because the police are suspicious, then there should be a search for weapons. And if a weapon is found then it should be prosecution - with repeat offences warranting increasing sanctions.

If there's a high risk of being caught and the sanctions get increasingly harsh then you'll reach a point where it becomes too 'expensive' to go out with a knife. That's what we should be aiming for. If the risk of getting caught is low, and the sanction not very onerous then carrying a knife is a 'cheap' option.