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Archive for February, 2004

Jam Revival

Posted by Ed on February 29, 2004

The Jam have been enjoying something of a revival of late, in my house. Coming right on the heels of punk at the end of the seventies, they were the angry young men of their time, but with a maturity that was missing from most punk bands. Their music is full of energy, from the menacing “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”,

Hating, waiting
“Hey boy” they shout – “have you got any money?”
And I said – “I’ve a little money and a take away curry,
I’m on my way home to my wife.
She’ll be lining up the cutlery,
You know she’s expecting me
Polishing the glasses and pulling out the cork”

to the vitriolic “Eton Rifles”, about fighting between Eton school pupils and right-to-work marchers,

Thought you were smart when you took them on,
But you didn’t take a peep in their artillery room.
All that rugby puts hairs on your chest.
What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?

and an undeniable Britishness. If you don’t know them, or its been too long since you heard them, check them out. Definitely worth your trouble.

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The Lancet 351, Issue 9103, pp. 637-641.

Posted by Ed on February 24, 2004

OK, before we get carried away by discussions of whether Wakefield has been smeared or not, let’s remind ourselves of the authors’ own conclusions in the original paper:

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

MMR and Measles again

Posted by Ed on February 23, 2004

There seems to have been a flurry of activity on the MMR scene of late. The latest emergence is that Wakefield, who kicked it all off, may not have been as impartial as he should have been, and may now be the subject of an inquiry. The Lancet, which published the original article by Wakefield, has issued a statement concerning the allegations of conflict of interest and other improprieties, concluding that knowledge of this conflict would have been influential in their decision to publish the paper.

The BMJ carries another paper finding no evidence of a link between autism and the MMR vaccine, this time in a study involving 600 autistic children and 1800 controls.

This all follows a Channel 5 docu-drama lionising Dr. Wakefield for being a lone voice in the wilderness. The Istitute of Child Health says that the programme “distorts the truth in, what can only be described as, an irresponsible and reckless way.”

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New Toys…

Posted by Ed on February 16, 2004

At last, the digital camera comes of age.

dmc-lc1.jpg

Not quite sure how the manual focus works though, as it doesn’t appear to be a reflex, or a rangefinder. Any ideas? And then there’s the other question of course: have they fixed the shutter lag? Dpreview.com has the press release.

There’s also a Leica version, slightly more expensive.

Posted in Photography | 1 Comment »

Cartoon of the Day

Posted by Ed on February 3, 2004

from Steve Bell.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Miners strike 20 years on

Posted by Ed on February 1, 2004

Another intersting read in today’s Observer tells the story of a former coal-mining village in Yorkshire, hit hard by the 1984 strike which devastated the industry and broke the back of the trade union movement. The effect of government policies at the time is nicely summed up by this comment:

The end of the strike didn’t just mean the death of the pit, it also meant the dismantling of an entire community. When Mick Carter talks about working at Silverwood, he points out that while it’s only eight miles away, for a community used to the early- morning stroll down Pit Lane, it might as well have been in Cornwall.

If you’re not familiar with the history, the film Brassed Off will give you a good idea.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Hutton aftermath

Posted by Ed on February 1, 2004

The war between the government and the BBC is showing no signs of abating. Today’s Observer has details of a leaked document suggesting that the BBC is not willing to let it lie. The government obviously wants to ‘draw a line under it’.

As Tony Blair prepares to ‘give some ground’ on the issue of weapons of mass destruction at an appearance before a parliamentary committee of inquiry on Tuesday, the fresh evidence reveals that far from letting it drop, many senior executives want to continue the battle.

The report, entitled Freedom of Speech and obtained by The Observer, says Hutton was ‘wrong in law’ and ignored key evidence critical of the Government.

It is also instructive to look at the Guardian’s timeline of the whole affair, including a government email from September 2002 (pdf) which finishes with this question:

Third, if I was Saddam, I would take a party of western journalists to the Ibn Sina factory or one of the others pictured in the document to demonstrate there is nothing there. How do we close off that avenue to him in advance?

How can this possibly be construed as anything other than that they had already decided they wanted a war and were trying to block any peaceful solution to the crisis?

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