Saturday February 28 2009
This week Sir David Omand, the former Whitehall security and intelligence co-ordinator, described how the state should analyse data about individuals in order to find terrorist suspects: travel information, tax, phone records, emails, and so on. “Finding out other people’s secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules” he said, because we’ll need to screen everyone to find the small number of suspects.
There is one very significant issue that will always make data mining unworkable when used to search for terrorist suspects in a general population, and that is what we might call Read the rest of this entry »
I was on newsnight a second ago, debating the rather indulgent claims of Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield and Dr Aric Sigman about Facebook and Twitter. It’s 40 minutes in to the show, which can be seen here as a wmv/rm file or here on iPlayer or here:
“Seven hundred British troops seized four Taliban narcotics factories containing £50m of drugs” said the Guardian on Wednesday. “Troops recovered more than 400kg of raw opium in one drug factory and nearly 800kg of heroin in another.” Lordy that is good. In the Telegraph, British forces had seized “£50 million of heroin and killed at least 20 Taliban fighters in a daring raid that dealt a significant blow to the insurgents in Afghanistan.” Everyone carried the good news. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve just been sent this excellent selection of slightly dangerous science videos, as part of an effort by the Institute of Chemical Engineers to persuade science teachers that health and safety is no barrier to bangs and giggles in the classroom. Some of them are rather good.
I met the lovely Conrad Quilty-Harper (true) in a toilet recently. He made a video of our encounter and posted it on the internet. I’ve embedded this below for your amusement and edification: I hope you find it stimulating.
Select committees are almost the only place in parliament where MPs actually do what you’d naively hope they do all the time: sit down, hear a lot of evidence on an important issue, and then have a good hard think about it. The Science and Technology committee in particular have produced some fascinating and readable documents over the years. The report on the abortion act offered transparent, evidence based policy advice, package up in a very good piece of accessible popular science writing. (It also ended with a memorable tantrum from some christians). The House of Lords equivalent, meanwhile, did a very good piece of work on the public understanding of science in 2000, during the aftermath of GM and BSE.
Now SciTech has merged into DIUS, and they are asking us, which means you and me, “the public”, for topics that deserve a good hard think. We have until Friday 27th February to come up with something good, and I thought you might have some interesting ideas?
Hi there, very briefly as I’m busy, I’ve been contacted by the Programme Director of LBC. He says that Jeni is upset by emails she has received. Do not send Jeni abusive emails, it’s not nice or helpful. I shall not post Jonathan’s email on this occasion, although I do feel – like everything I’ve had from him – it was rather intemperate and unkindly written, but I must be clear again: I do not think you should be abusive personally in emails to Jeni. Please address the arguments and the actions, not the person, as the overwhelming majority of you have. I would want nobody to be disproportionately unpleasant, but I also wouldn’t want anybody to use this to cloud the more important issue, which is the media’s gross irresponsibility with regards to MMR, of which the actions by Jeni Barnett – and more importantly LBC/Global Radio – were highly representative illustrations. I am sorry to see that LBC have failed to address everybody’s wider concerns, and I am sorry to hear that Jeni has been upset by emails she has received. But I also do wish these people would address the issues. Read the rest of this entry »
I thought since a few days have passed that I should let you know what’s happening with the slightly ridiculous LBC situation. If you skip to the bottom you will find a discussion on some mischievous activism which I think has great potential.
Since LBC unwisely threw their legal weight around to prevent you from being able to freely experience and ponder that astonishing 44 minute tirade against MMR, the inevitable has happened. The audio has been posted on a huge number of websites around the world, over 120 blogs so far are linking to the story, and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of people are talking and reading about the ignorance that Jeni Barnett exemplified in that worrying broadcast. It has been covered in the Times, and an Early Day Motion is being set down in parliament.