Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Homeopathic poisoning and other rubbish

This (should) be a short blog about a few things that have amused me today: firstly there is a wonderful story online at the moment about a homeopathic bomb. Although I think they missed a trick: surely making a homeopathic bomb is as easy as holding a few drops of what ever it is you want to explode above the sea and threatening to drop it (near instant dilution to an insane quantity plus sufficient shaking from waves should work wonders).

The other wonderful homeopathic rubbish I came up with is DIY homeopathic treatments: why bother spending money on diluted belladonna? By swallowing a smallish doss yourself you can let it dilute in your stomach: all you have to do is jump up and down a bit then fall over as you die and the world will be a smarter place. It's all a conspiracy by big Homie to stop people realising they can make their own placebos at home.

In other 'news' if you haven't I suggest you go and check out blag hag where as a wonderfully skeptical responce to certain stupid Iranians Jen has instigated (and analysed) boobquake. Go read it. Now.

Anyway as I said this would be a short post so it shall be. There may be something longer cropping up soon as I try my hand at some fiction - you have been warned.

In the interim I must return to poking a Clock and Control board with a probe and code. I may write about it later (you lucky devils) until then: adios!

Monday, 19 April 2010

You may not be able to fly but at least it's for a pretty reason

This is an amazing picture of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, with its ash plume lit by lightening

It's just damn cool so I thought I would share.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Does the end justify the means: are 'Libel Tourists' a real problem?

This post was prompted by something that has been annoying me for a while (since I read this excellent blog it goes into a lot of detail but is well worth the time) and in light of Simon Singh driving off the BCA (see my update earlier today) it seemed a good time to raise it. I fully support the libel reform campaign but I object to their 4th argument:
"4. London has become an international libel tribunal
We recommend: No case should be heard in this jurisdiction unless at least 10 per cent of copies of the relevant publication have been circulated here"
There is nothing inherently wrong with people coming here to settle libel cases; it is a sympton that are libel laws are in someway very attractive to other people but per say there is nothing wrong with them coming here to use them. It is the attractiveness of our libel laws that encourage people to come here to sue others nothing more. As campaign we do ourselves a disservice by falling into the trap of using people's inate xenophobia to promote our cause.

I doubt this is intentional on the part of those who lead the campaign but it does worry me the number of people who will happily repeat it without thinking about how it looks or even if its actually the problem they say it is. Who cares if people want to come here to sue each other

The only logical argument that I can see to reduce the number of people who come from overseas to sue here is if they were preventing residents from having access to the courts by clogging them up but as the number of libel cases in 2008 was 8 the made it to court from 259 that were brought this is obviously not the problem (although the apparent chilling is, even if some of these cases the defendant was obviously wrong I doubt they all were).

If anything all these people coming here with money can only be a good thing, so can we please drop the "libel tourism" and focus on what's important: that our libel laws cost 140 times that of equivalent cases in Europe, that even a successful libel defence will cost you money (to the tune of several thousand) and that more and more publishers are scared to publish here for fear of being sued or just don't publish at all.

Our libel laws are stiffling good journalism, stopping vital scientific debate and ultimately stopping the UK progressing as an educated nation; libel tourism is only a symptom of this and like homeopathy only treating the symptom does stop the problem.

Singh update

It's been a while and this will only be a short post until I figure out what else I want to write about but today the BCA (British Chiropractic Association) withdrew their libel case against Simon Singh, after 2 years of hard work and the fairly heavy duty thrashing of their reputation they have realised that they were onto a non-starter.

Anyway the BBC have a piece about it here and I highly recommend you read it.