29 May 2009

GFP Monkeys

Chemistry World blog draws our attention to a story in the closed source periodical, Nature.

"Japanese researchers have created marmosets that glow green under ultraviolet light by adding the gene that codes for green fluorescent protein (GFP). This latest research, published in the journal Nature, represents a key milestone in animal genetic engineering - but is also proving to be a new focus for animal-rights activists and anti-genetic engineering pressure groups."

That's all very well but what about Alba?

I remember reading in the Newscientist a few years ago about an artist who commissioned a laboratory to create a luminescent rabbit for him - this rabbit was called Alba.

The artist, Edouardo Kac, explained, "[m]y transgenic artwork "GFP Bunny" comprises the creation of a green fluorescent rabbit, the public dialogue generated by the project, and the social integration of the rabbit. GFP stands for green fluorescent protein. "GFP Bunny" was realized in 2000 and first presented publicly in Avignon, France. Transgenic art, I proposed elsewhere [1], is a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering to transfer natural or synthetic genes to an organism, to create unique living beings. This must be done with great care, with acknowledgment of the complex issues thus raised and, above all, with a commitment to respect, nurture, and love the life thus created."

Kac's ideas are certainly interesting; as to whether or not Alba existed, I'm not sure.

Here's a wikipedia link to Kac. I'm a bit dubious as to whether or not he managed to commission Alba but his ideas are certainly interesting. I remember in the original article he asked, as a pet, should we (his familly) love him any more or less because of his genetic engineering?

Update - useful video, "A Green Light for Biology -- Making the Invisible Visible."

28 May 2009

Purpose Presumed To Be Charitable

Common Purpose is an educational charity which delivers leadership training programmes. Their existence seems to upset a lot of people - google will provide more details for those interested.

Of these many google links, "Common Purpose - a Fraudulent Political "Charity"," is of interest. Following the link will take the reader to what appears to be a web enquiry to the Charity Commissioners about the organisation, Common Purpose.

The enquiry states that the organisation is a political organisation and asks the Charity Commission why they regard the organisation as a charity.

In reply, the Charity Commission say,

"I thought it might be helpful to set out the general principles we follow when registering a charity. In order to be charitable in law an organisation must be set up:

* for a purpose which is charitable in law; and

* for the benefit of the public generally

Common Purpose is registered as a charity with the following objects:

"The advancement of education for the public benefit and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, to educate men and women from a broad range of geographical, political, ethnic, institutional, social and economic backgrounds in constitutional, civic, economic and social studies, with special emphasis on civil and social awareness and responsibility in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, provided always that nothing contained in the Memorandum and Articles of Association shall authorise, or be deemed to authorise the carrying on of any activity for any purposes save those regarded as charitable by the laws of England and Wales"

Advancing education in the named topics is charitable, and the class of people to be educated is broadly defined enough to demonstrate public benefit.

At first glance, that seems straightforward enough.

But have a look at the Charities Act 2006, particularly section 3 which provides -

"(1) This section applies in connection with the requirement in section 2(1)(b) that a purpose falling within section 2(2) must be for the public benefit if it is to be a charitable purpose.

(2) In determining whether that requirement is satisfied in relation to any such purpose, it is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit.

(3) In this Part any reference to the public benefit is a reference to the public benefit as that term is understood for the purposes of the law relating to charities in England and Wales.

(4) Subsection (3) applies subject to subsection (2).

Noting particularly,

section 3(2) "[...] it is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit".

Now, re-read the Charity Commission's note. Haven't they just presumed that Common Purpose's description of "education" is for the public benefit?

It looks to me like they're in breach of section 3(2) of the Charities Act 2006 with respect to Common Purpose, charity number 1056573.

ps As for the picture at the head of this note - the Stuckists once fell out with the Charity Commission. You can read about it by following the links under OFILI TRUSTEE SCANDAL.

24 May 2009

Ames' Going Postal

Mark Ames' book Going Postal is well worth the read. I read it about twelve months ago and found it to be fascinating.

Since reading it there have been more rage murders as Ames calls them. These have appeared to endorse his thesis; namely, that we are living under a system of intolerable stress. Some people respond to that stress by snapping, rebelling and killing.

Meanwhile, over at the Exile they tell us that there is going to be a Going Postal documentary on BBC-2 on 25th May.

If you don't read the book, try and see the documentary.

Here's a link to a newspaper article discussing the making of the documentary, "Going Postal: making a film about mass murderers" from The Telegraph.

Update - Stick to the book.

One That Got Away

The Serious Organised Crime Agency has a facility where one can report Chemical Suspicious Activity; they seem to be hoping to catch people who misuse chemicals by preparing drugs, explosives or other nefarious things.

Curiously, I don't see the following compound on their list of banned substances ...

... so, what's so special about the above compound?

Well, it is part of an unpublished (until now) route to amphetamines.

Dissolving the compound in an anhydrous, aprotic solvent, adding a reasonably strong base, and quenching with acetic anhydride (or, some say, ethyl acetate) gives the following intermediate.

The cognoscenti should be able to see the next steps as hydrolysis and decarboxylation to give one of the compounds that is on the banned list.

The ROC Wealth Transfer Mechanism

The Whitelee wind farm in Renfrewshire was officially switched on yesterday (20th May, 2009) by First Minister Alex Salmond, reports The Daily Record.

This will result in a massive and continuing transfer of wealth from poor people to the owners of the wind farm.

Wikipedia explains how this happens in, "The Renewables Obligation".

"Through the Renewables Obligation, British electricity suppliers are now required by law to provide a proportion of their sales from renewable sources such as wind power or pay a penalty fee. The supplier then receives a Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) for each MWh of electricity they have purchased."

The 'law' mentioned in the wikipedia article is here - The Renewables Obligation Order 2009 (No. 785).

It is anticipated that the Whitelee site will generate 846,216 MWh per annum of electricity.

Using the 2007/08 buy-out price of £34.30 per MWh as the price of each ROC we have a wealth transfer of -

£34.30 x 846,216 = £ 29,025,208.8.

The source of this wealth is the consumers of electricity in the UK.

So, if your electricity bills are high; have a look around and see how many wind turbines you can see. Not only on hill tops but inside factory sites and ask yourself whether or not you would be able to generate sufficient capital to build your own turbine and hence get a slice of this particular cake.

Lastly, ask yourself whether or not you think this is simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from poor people to rich people.

16 May 2009

Tories and Torture

Craig Murray has released an "... uncorrected transcript of [his] evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights."


One of the many things that stands out is the comparison of attitudes towards torture between Blair and Thatcher ...

"Q78 Mr Sharma: In your experience had the US and UK authorities previously taken a strong line against the use of information received under torture or had you not encountered these issues before?
Mr Murray: I had encountered the issue before when I was working in a unit known as the embargo surveillance centre which was tasked with preventing Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement in the run-up to the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. Essentially, we were an intelligence analysis unit and we commissioned action. The question of intelligence that appeared to have been obtained from torture did arise on that occasion. I had direct contact with the question then. As a unit we reported directly to 10 Downing Street, not to a government department.
Q79 Chairman: Did you get the impression that there was UK complicity on those occasions?
Mr Murray: On that occasion we received a clear direction from the then prime minister, Mrs Thatcher, now Baroness Thatcher, that we were not to use any intelligence that might have come from torture.

09 May 2009


Andrew Sachs writes in the Daily Mail under the heading, "Andrew Sachs: Ross and Brand have ripped my family apart."

The article refers to an incident where lewd messages where left on Sach's answer 'phone by Ross and Brand during a BBC radio programme. Sachs tells us that "... he's deeply upset" and alludes to the vicarious liability of the BBC, "'I didn't understand it. It shouldn't have happened,' he says. 'I really don't know why the BBC ever let it go out.'"

Curiously, Sachs writes, "'I've written to her several times [his grand daughter, the subject of the lewd telephone calls] but got no reply. Well, not until a couple of days ago. She wrote to say she wants to make amends in some way, so I'll be responding to that." Does this mean that there was collusion between Ross, Brand and Sach's granddaughter; ie that she was complicit in the stunt?

Ross's liabilities have been outlined; it looks like Sachs has a legal remedy.

If Sachs took legal action, would it expose some sort of conspiracy by Ross, Brand and the grand daughter, to use the BBC to raise the profile of Sach's grand daughter?

How Much?

The Times tells the tale of "Teacher Matthew Wren [who] wins battle to have DNA records deleted". The article explains that the teacher was falsely accused of assault by one of his pupils; during the course of events, the teacher went to the local police station with a solicitor in order to give an interview. Unfortunately, the police decided to arrest him.

The story focuses on how the teacher has now managed to have his DNA details removed from the police database.

But what is of interest to me is the paltry amount of damages that the teacher got for being wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned; namely, £1,000.

Looking at the case law, in Raissi the court reminds us that,

"... in English law every imprisonment is prima facie unlawful and it is for a person directing an imprisonment to justify his act."

Going back to the newspaper article they explain that "... under Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 a police officer can arrest anyone he reasonably suspects of committing an offence but only if it is necessary to do so."

There wasn't any necessary reason to arrest the teacher, a person who had voluntarily gone to the police station to be interviewed. The police could not justify their act and so the arrest was unlawful.

If I unlawfully arrested you, would you be happy to receive £1,000 in damages?

04 May 2009

Update 01 Prejudicial vs Probative

Yesterday I posted about the rape conviction based upon evidence given by a four year old child, see Prejudicial vs Probative.

The Telegraph tells us that, "Boyfriend of Baby P's mother to appeal rape conviction giving as one the bases for the appeal,

"[t]hey [the lawyers]are expected to argue – as they did during the trial – that the victim was too young and unreliable to be a credible or competent witness."

This was the point that I was making in my comment.
Update - 24th November 2009 ... "Man jailed over Baby P challenging rape conviction. Expect the conviction to be overturned.

03 May 2009

Alien Abduction

Murphy (2005, p 5) has,


Judicial reasoning is a combination of three different kinds of logical process, ie, inductive reasoning (reasoning from an accumulated data base of known instances towards a new first principle); deductive (reasoning from first principles towards a conclusion in a particular instance); and abductive (reasoning by way of comparative analysis of rival hypotheses towards a qualitative preference for one of them over the others).

For me, it is the last form of logical reasoning, abduction, that is part of what lies at the core of conspiracy theory. When there are a number of rival hypotheses that explain an event the manner in which one hypothesis is chosen by society and imposed upon dissenters is that of enculturation. Where enculturation is defined as, "... the process by which a person learns the requirements of the culture by which he or she is surrounded, and acquires values and behaviours that are appropriate or necessary in that culture."

This process should be obvious to all who express dissenting views concerning official narratives. The phenomenon has its own fascination where those who attempt to impose the encultured view, like the majority in Étiene de la Boétie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, ...

... participate in their own tyranny.

Murphy P (2005). Murphy on Evidence 9th ed, Oxford: oxford University Press.
Esprit d'Escalier - In view of my header, I should have called this post "Julia's Abduction."
Note - hat tip to nourishing obscurity, "[inference] deduction, induction and abduction", which tempted me to post a comment on their site about this subject, 20th April, 2009.

Rice's Intelligence Analysis

An interesting quote from, the "Psychology of Intelligence Analysis" by Richards J. Heuer, Jr is ...

"The commonly prescribed remedy for shortcomings in intelligence analysis and estimates—most vociferously after intelligence “failures”—is a major increase in expertise. Heuer’s research and the studies he cites pose a serious challenge to that conventional wisdom. The data show that expertise itself is no protection from the common analytic pitfalls that are endemic to the human thought process. This point has been demonstrated in many fields beside intelligence analysis."

An example of the sort of intelligence expertise in question can be gleaned by considering Condoleeza Rice. Reading the link to wikipedia it is obvious that her accomplishments and talents are many. Unfortunately, as Heuer puts it, "... expertise itself is no protection from the common analytic pitfalls that are endemic to the human thought process."

I think that an example of one of these analytical pitfalls is illustrated by, "Rice gave early approval for CIA waterboarding, Senate report reveals", a story which reveals that ...

"Condoleezza Rice gave permission for the CIA to use waterboarding techniques ... as early as July 2002, the first known official approval for the technique, according to a report released by the Senate intelligence committee yesterday.

The revelation indicates that Rice, who at the time was national security adviser and went on to be secretary of state, played a greater role than she admitted in written testimony last autumn.

Prejudicial vs Probative

In R v Sang [1979] UKHL 3, Lord Diplock explained that,

"A fair trial according to law involves, in the case of a trial upon indictment, that it should take place before a judge and a jury; that the case against the accused should be proved to the satisfaction of the jury beyond all reasonable doubt upon evidence that is admissible in law; and, as a corrollary to this, that there should be excluded from the jury information about the accused which is likely to have an influence on their minds prejudicial to the accused which is out of proportion to the true probative value of admissible evidence conveying that information."

The Times reports that, "Man who caused death of Baby P guilty of raping two-year-old girl"

The story says, "Almost the entire case rested on the child’s video evidence and her cross-examination, as there was no strong forensic or medical evidence to support the charge."

What was the probative value of the evidence given by the child? Did it really tend to seek the truth?