25 March 2011

Cocaine Without The Drug Barons

As I've been saying for quite a while now, the day is getting very close, if not here already, when cocaine will come from a chemical plant rather than a coca plant.

My blogger feed has just yielded, doi/abs/10.1021/jo200069m a paper that describes the, "Total Synthesis of (−)-Cocaine and (−)-Ferruginine".

When I wrote about, "No Future For Cocaine" that should've read, no future for cocaine from coca plants. If you can synthesise the product in your shed you can disintermediate the criminals. As the chemistry develops, this is what is happening.

24 March 2011

What Does Race Mean?

The Daily Mirror tells us about 'The Rainbow Family: Three children with different skin colours born to the same parents' explaining that,
"A couple have called their kids the Rainbow Children... because one is white, one is mixed race and the other is black.

White mum Carla Nurse, 27, and her mixed-race husband Cornel, 31, were not surprised when their first child Jermaine was born with a brown complexion.

But they were stunned when daughter Tanisha arrived with an Afro-Caribbean appearance and second son Jayden was born with white skin and blonde hair. Carla, a part-time model from Lowestoft, Suffolk, said: "It looks strange when I walk around with my rainbow children.""
When the children grow up, they will most probably be confronted with race monitoring forms where they have to tick a box that best describes their race. So, what race are they?

Quite sensibly we might say that they're mixed race; after all, their parents are different races. But what does the law say?

Curiously,
" racial" is not a term of art, either legal or, I surmise, scientific. I apprehend that anthropologists would dispute how far the word " race " is biologically at all relevant to the species amusingly called homo sapiens.
in Ealing London Borough Council v Race Relations Board.

Further consideration of the question leads me to the conclusion that, unless someone is being discriminated against, the question is irrelevant. The word does not bear any meaning except in discrimination law: a close reading of the Race Relations Act 1976 takes us to some definitions in section 3 which says,
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires ...
(my emphasis) so, without this Act, the word does not bear a meaning; it isn't a term of art either in law or science.
And here are a couple of chaps who are illustrating that race is nothing but a social construction. Go on, make up a name for the ones who are white on the left because they are superior aren't they? They should own all the property, do no work and exploit the ones who are white on the right. Everybody knows that don't they?

23 March 2011

Press Harassment

scroll over map for links

Protection from Fear of ViolenceStatutory TortCriminal OffenceInterpretation of HarassmentPHA 1997Prohibition of HarassmentProhibition of Harassment - Defences

We've all seen people become victims of the press. Often they're implicated, tangentially, in some sort of crime. This seems to give the press a bogus right to harass the person.

I wonder why people who find themselves in this sort of situation don't rely on the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

A journalist makes an approach to the person; the person asks the journalist for their details, the person checks the previous reports of the journalist and finds them lacking, then tells the journalist that they don't want them to contact them again. If the journalist doesn't respect the person's wishes, the journalist becomes liable in the statutory tort of harassment, as does the journalist's employer (see, Majrowski "What matters is the closeness of the connection between the offending conduct of the employee with the nature and circumstances of that employment.").

Consider the resignation letter of the journalist Richard Peppiat from the Daily Star. The letter describes very bad practice by that newspaper. Now, imagine being contacted by this journalist - pre the letter - looking at his articles, finding them lacking and telling the journalist that you don't want to be contacted by him again. What can he do?

I wonder how often this mechanism is being used to prevent press harassment.

Update 24th March 2011. Using the novel techniques of 'reading' and using something called 'google'; I've managed to find the following story, The harassment of press freedom.

The story, from 2007, gives details of people using PHA 1997 to stop the press harassing them. The article also points out that the press has some redress via article 10 of the convention of human rights. The real problem is that the law is like the Ritz, open to everyone.

22 March 2011

Tax Tax Tax; or, My Budget

Budget week in the UK, so here's my budget.
Tax Borrowing/Lending
The principal of every loan in the land would be taxed at 5% (maybe more, maybe less). Every mortgage loan taken out would yield 5% of the principal, this would go straight to the Chancellor; likewise, every purchase on tic, every car loan, every holiday etc, etc. Huge city buy outs, using money borrowed against the company being bought (think, Manchester United / Glaser bros; think, Kraft / Cadbury) would yield more cash for the treasury. No, we're not all in it together. Those who borrowed up to the hilt brought it on the rest of us. They can pay us all back.
Tax Benefits
All benefits to be added up and taxed as income. No longer will people be able to get more money on benefit than someone who is working. (Exception: sickness).
Equity for Rent
All rent paid on land will buy a beneficial interest as will any investment in the property. The renter will immediately become a beneficiary and will then have all the settled equitable rights and benefits that are already in place.

19 March 2011

Crank It Up, Mark

Brilliant paper just come over my google feed, "Palladium-Catalyzed Mono-α-arylation of Acetone with Aryl Halides and Tosylates" which says,
"We report the first example of selective Pd-catalyzed mono-α-arylation of acetone employing aryl chlorides, bromides, iodides, and tosylates. The use of appropriately designed P,N-ligands proved to be the key to controlling the reactivity and selectivity. The reaction affords good yields with substrates containing a range of functional groups at modest Pd loadings using Cs2CO3 as the base and employing acetone as both a reagent and the solvent."
In other words, there is a simple, cheap and efficient route to the amphetamine structure.

To understand what I mean, here is the author's drawing of the chemistry described in the paper,
the products formed by this reaction can be used as the starting material for the synthesis of amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstacy.

I've blogged about this sort of thing before in "No Future For Cocaine": I discussed the change of the source of drugs of 'abuse' from natural to synthetic. This chemistry is part of this thrust of technology; drugs of abuse will become yet more cheaper, their control will slip from the hands of drug Barons into the hands of technically minded crooks where they will be manufactured locally. Massive drug importations will be left to state actors (see the work of Alfred McCoy), whilst there will be a steady and continuing transistion from global to local.

Fascinating.

Watch this space for updates.

3.89 MB pdf with procedures etc ... expect to see on Erowid very soon.

11 March 2011

Softened Up

Radio 4 broadcast "Fingerprints on Trial" last night (available for a further seven days) which covered issues discussed previously by this blog. For example, search 'fingerprints', and more specifically, "Fingerprint Examiners Fallacy".

One of the things of interest that was broadcast was the news that the "Fingerprint Inquiry Scotland" was due to report its findings.

If the inquiry has done its job properly this could have profound consequences for the use of fingerprint evidence.

09 March 2011

Oddly feable

Ella Guru's Work
The Telegraph criticises Equality legislation in, "Other odd rulings on equality legislation".

It's a disappointing read since it's very light on legal analysis; the report is aimed at those who might be excited by the gambit of, 'you'll never believe this but ...'

One of the cases chosen to examine is Grainger v Nicholson,
"Tim Nicholson, the former head of sustainability at a property firm called Grainger plc, won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.
....

Mr Justice Michael Burton concluded that "a belief in man-made climate change ... is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations"."

I also disagreed with this finding. For my discussion see, here.

However, as yet, I haven't found any other criticism, with legal discussion, of the ruling. (Apart, of course, from this, from the Employmentlaw Advocate blog).

07 March 2011

Freedom To Squat Under Attack

Her plight ensures your house price. Enjoy!
The Telegraph looks at "The middle class serial squatters exploiting the law", and comes up with a curious conclusion.

The article explains that,
"A ragtag bunch of up to 40 activists and undergraduates has exploited legal loopholes to live for free in a string of historic buildings in London.

Dressed in scavenged clothes and ripped vintage tweed jackets, the squatters have struck four times in the past six weeks.

They occupied a building in Bloomsbury Square belonging to a well-known art dealer before invading a £6m house owned by Guy Ritchie, the film director. Then they took over an empty pub near Oxford Street before moving on to another near Leicester Square.

But despite leaving a trail of damage running into thousands of pounds, they can move on to their next target because squatting is not illegal. "
Rather than explaining that this story is untypical of homelessness and of squatting; rather than explaining that the middle class brats were either amusing themselves or part of some establishment campaign to change the law, our intrepid journalist bring us quotes of MPs railing against the freedom to squat.
"Their case typifies the failings of the law. The Sunday Telegraph is campaigning to reform the law to make squatting a criminal offence.

A change is backed by MPs, including Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove, who said England and Wales should be brought into line with Scotland, where squatting has been a criminal offence since the 1860s.

"It is far too easy to legally squat," he said. "Squatters know they just get moved on without penalty and they are never stopped from doing it again."

Mr Weatherley is backed by other MPs including Caroline Dineage
[sic], Conservative MP for Gosport, and Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby. "
Further into the article the journalists explain that squatting has increased during the recession partly as a rise in the number of empty homes. Why should there be any empty homes? As far as I can see the (genuine) squatters are doing a public service by putting to use an empty property. This should be encouraged.

The article is followed by another piece, deceiptfully titled, How squatters evade the law. This article purports to be a legal analysis of squatting but is full of loaded sentences simlar to its title and makes a mistake. It says,
"Another area of legislation which squatters can use to their benefit in England and Wales is the law on “adverse possession”, which can allow someone who has occupied a building for 10 years to claim ownership of it. "
That should be twelve (not ten) years according to section 15(1) of the Limitation Act 1980.

Addendum Squatting for beginners
See Nothing Gets My Blood Boiling Like Squatters particularly,
"Anonymous | 7 Mar 2011 3:20 pm

I know lots of people who live in squats and have been to several of them. Not one is in a property that was being occupied at the time it was taken. Cases like the Archway property are the exception rather than the rule, as it is counterproductive to squat in somebody's home.

This article is a piece of fearmongering aimed at getting middle class homeowners freaked out at the prospect of anarchists moving into their home - which isn't going to happen! What about people getting evicted from their homes by the banks? Why don't you do some useful journalism and write about the problems going on in modern Britain that have caused a massive housing shortage, countless unused empty homes and a general unaffordable market. Jobs are being cut, benefits lost and more people are squatting."

Update 20th March 2011. It looks like Grant Shapps wants to sully his reputation by ensuring that more properties fall into disuse and more people end up sleeping on the streets just to try and keep up property prices. See, Grant Shapps: why the Government will outlaw squatting 'once and for all'

Update 6th September 2011. A slap in the face for Grant Shapps' campaign to maintain property prices at the expense of homeless people, "Squatters could be good for us all, says judge in empty homes ruling", reports the Telegraph,
"Squatters are not criminals and could be good for society, a judge has ruled in ordering a London council to make public a list of empty homes in its area. "
about, Voyias v IC & London Borough of Camden (Freedom of Information Act 2000) [2011] UKFTT EA_2011_0007 (GRC) 2011.

05 March 2011

Technical Difficulties


Libyan rebels who are part of the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi guard outside the refinery

reports The Independent in, "Gaddafi 'tightens grip' on Zawiya".

The problem I have with the picture is that it is of technicals; ie, mercenaries. As the wikipedia link explains, this region of the world is rife with mercenaries, people who weld a machine gun onto their Toyota jeep and use it as a weapon of war. The War Nerd also explains in an old article,
"Habre's rebels took it from the Libyans in a battle which might've been the debut of one of the major new weapons systems of the late 20th century, the "technical." If you've read up on Somalia, you know that a "technical" is just a Toyota 4wd pickup with a big machinegun or grenade launcher welded onto the bed."

Who is paying for their services?

We've been sold the idea that we are witnessing a spontaneous peoples uprising but the sight of mercenaries seems to undermine that idea. Are we looking at another Charlie Wilson's War?

I left a comment explaining the above on the newspaper website; as yet the moderator hasn't deigned to share it with the readers.

The Problem With Innocentive


Innocentive is a fantastic idea and is obviously proving to be successful.
"InnoCentive is where organizations turn to solve problems that matter. We help companies innovate better, to find the fastest path to solutions. Novel ideas and new approaches are crucial if a company is to survive and thrive."
If you have a technical capability go to the webpage and join up. (You need to go to the website to understand the rest of this post).

The problem that I found with it was that I wasn't playing on a level field: a considerable number of the other solvers were academics. They were using their institutes' money (facilities / time) in order to line their own pockets - when they took on a project, they could do it at leisure. If I took on a project, it had to pay. I was taking on a risk, whilst competitor academic solvers where not taking on this risk. A consequence of this is that the people who set the challenges did so - wittingly or otherwise - such that, largely, they were only feasible for academics to solve.

So sadly, now I'm out.

Obviously there are exceptions to these observations and I wish Innocentive well. I'm simply railing against the effect of State spending leading to the crippling of innovation.

04 March 2011

Retracting Daubert

Jane Ruby as Frida Kahlo
I've posted about Daubert, the persuasive American decision regarding the admissibility of scientific evidence, on numerous occassions.

Here is the relevant passage,
"Faced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony ..., the trial judge, ..., must make a preliminary assessment of whether the testimony's underlying reasoning or methodology is scientifically valid and properly can be applied to the facts at issue. Many considerations will bear on the inquiry, including whether the theory or technique in question can be (and has been) tested, whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication, its known or potential error rate, and the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation, and whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community. The inquiry is a flexible one, and its focus must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that they generate."
The part I want to criticise is,
"whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication,".

As more and more peer review papers are being found to be, at best, wrong by groups such as Retraction Watch; a mockery is made of this Daubert criterion. Expect to see this challenged in the courts.