Monday, 24 January 2011

Cancer is a fungus. And can be cured by baking soda. Barmy

So claims the notoriously accurate David Icke. I was alerted to this nonsense by a conspiracy-obsessed friend on Facebook.
One such case is the Italian doctor, Tullio Simoncini, a brilliant and courageous man who has refused to bow to the enormous pressure he has faced, and continues to face, after he realised what cancer is and how it can be dealt with.

Simoncini's 'crime' has been to discover that cancer is a fungus caused by Candida, a yeast-like organism that lives in the body in small amounts even in healthy people. The immune system keeps it under control normally, but when the Candida morphs into a powerful fungus some serious health problems can follow - including cancer.
Naturally, Icke has an explanation for why Big Pharma is trying to silence Simoncini (I can't bring myself to give him the title "Doctor").
But look at what has been happening as cancer numbers worldwide have soared and soared. There has been a calculated war on the human immune system that has got more vociferous with every decade.

The immune system is weakened and attacked by food and drink additives, chemical farming, vaccinations, electromagnetic and microwave technology and frequencies, pharmaceutical drugs, the stress of modern 'life', and so much more.

What defences are today's children going to have when they are given 25 vaccinations and combinations of them, before the age of two - while their immune system is still forming for goodness sake?

This is how the Illuminati families are seeking to instigate a mass cull of the population. By dismantling the body's natural defence to disease.
Yes, of course it's all a dastardly plan by those blood-sucking lizards to keep the human population down. How could we ever have doubted otherwise?

We can leave aside Icke's deluded ravings, but cancer is a serious business. Cancerous cells reproduce uncontrollably inside the body, invading and destroying healthy tissue. Generally, the only treatment is to remove the cancerous cells, and then follow up with courses of radiation or chemotherapy, to ensure all the cells are destroyed. This also damages healthy tissue, and unfortunately doesn't always succeed. The prognosis for some cancer survivors, even after surgery, may be less than 50/50.

Given such an unpromising diagnosis, it's understandable, I suppose, that many turn to alternative (or as I like to call them, untested and dangerous) treatments. And this is where quacks like Simoncini enter the picture. According to Icke:
Instead, Simoncini found something much, much simpler - sodium bicarbonate. Yes, the main ingredient in good old baking soda (but I stress not the same as baking soda, which has other ingredients).

He used this because it is a powerful destroyer of fungus and, unlike the drugs, the Candida cannot 'adapt' to it. The patient is given sodium bicarbonate orally and through internal means like an endoscope, a long thin tube that doctors use to see inside the body without surgery. This allows the sodium bicarbonate to be placed directly on the cancer - the fungus.
Baking soda. 

A quick bio of Simoncini:
Tullio Simoncini lost his offcial license to practice medicine in 2003  in Italy. On May 2006 he was convicted to 3 y. for manslaughter of the first patient and 16 months for having charged 7.500 EUR each to the other 2 patients.
Even a prison sentence didn't stop him. In 2010, a Scottish man suffering from cancer turned to Simoncini after refusing chemotherapy on the NHS.
"I've always refused chemotherapy because it just kills your immune system. I think if I'd gone through it I'd maybe even be dead by now.
Of course, Simoncini's baking soda doesn't come for free.
He has agreed to treat Mr Fyvie, from Musselburgh, but they must come up with £10,000 by 21 March to make the procedure happen.
He has the full backing of his children, one of whom ran a sponsored ten miles on Friday to add to the £1,200 they have already collected.
£10,000. One pound of baking soda costs £1.47 from American Soda. By my calculation, that money could have bought 6,802 pounds of baking soda. That's one big shopping trolley.

In any case, it did Fyvie little good, because within six months, he was dead.
The family of Robert Fyvie has been left devastated after he passed away last Friday morning, with his 10-year-old son, Marc, distraught his dad will not be there to see his first boxing match.
Mr Fyvie, 54, of Eskview Terrace, died peacefully beside his wife Angie as they slept, five months after he travelled to Rome in the hope that a cutting-edge treatment would help him overcome his illness. Sadly, it was not to be.
Still, presumably Simoncini put the money to good use.

I do think Fyvie's actions were fundamentally irresponsible towards himself and his family - he also travelled to Thailand for herbal treatments for cancer, and refused chemo, so he was dicing with death anyway. But Simoncini deserves nothing but shame for taking an obscene amount of money from a dying man and his desperate family for his sham treatments. People like that are wasting perfectly good oxygen for the rest of us.

The Sun are campaigning for better mental health care for armed forces veterans

Of course, the best way to avoid mental health problems is to keep away from unnecessarily stressful situations in the first place.

In which case, shouldn't the Sun be campaigning to end the conflict in Afghanistan and bring all the soldiers back home? I mean, if you really want to save public money...

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Friday, 21 January 2011

An exquisitely beautiful return to blogging

Haven't posted for what seems like ages. What a pathetic excuse for a blogger I am. In mitigation, I've been busy clambering onto the bottom rung of the property ladder, and I've still got a lot of sorting out in my new house to do, so it'll probably be a little while til I get back to proper blogging.

Meanwhile, I'll post this exquisite and lovely video by the Mummers, whose album and sad backstory I acquired from the Guardian.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Proof that Power Balance bands work!

Or not. I suspect that England's marvellous, historic Ashes victory (which I've already promised not to gloat over) is more to do with superior skill, preparation and execution over an unusually aimless Australian team, than a silly, rather expensive rubber band that has been shown not to have any magic properties whatsoever, whose manufacturer has been forced to issue a statement retracting its claims.
Power Balance Australia said: ‘In our advertising, we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility.
‘We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the trade practices act 1974.’
Perhaps if Ricky Ponting had bought a Placebo Band, things might have worked out very differently.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

No gloating please, we're English

In anticipation of England's third innings victory of the Ashes series (well, at least a comprehensive win, now that Australia's challenge in the final test has been all but extinguished) I do not want to gloat over the triumph.

That wouldn't be cricket.

No, I'll just post, from 2002, a reminder of how not to behave in victory.
After Nasser Hussain's men sealed their fate in Perth, Matt Price wrote in The Australian: "There have been numerous excuses put forward for England's poor showing during the Ashes series: a collective lack of skill, nous, courage, coordination, commitment, knowledge, fitness, resilience, imagination, talent, esprit de corps, energy, nerve and I could keep going but I'll run out of space."
The triumphant march of Steve Waugh's team through the series prompted renewed calls for the Ashes to be sent to Australia. The Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, ran three separate pieces demanding that the trophy – which resides at the MCC – be looked after by whichever nation wins the tournament.
The Telegraph invited its readers to telephone a hotline to express their views on the subject. One columnist, John Pierik, wrote: "Hand it over now. The time has come for the stuffy-nosed Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord's to hand over cricket's most famous prize to Steve Waugh and his world champion Australians.
"It's ridiculous that the original urn... remains housed in England when the Old Dart hasn't won a series against us in 14 years."
Writing in the Herald the day before England's collapse in Perth, Peter FitzSimons bemoaned the disappearance of England's once-vaunted fighting spirit. Under the headline "No sign of the old bulldog, only poodles", he said: "The most perplexing thing about the whole English débâcle that they are pleased to call their Ashes 'campaign' is that these blokes come from the same country that produced the likes of Boadicea, the Duke of Wellington, Ian Botham, Darren Gough and Michael Atherton.
"Where is their manhood? Where is their fury at their fate and determination to fight their way out, come what may? Are these blokes really the toughest, hardest, best cricketers that England can produce?"
Some cricket writers said the series boded ill for the future of the Ashes. Mike Coward, writing in The Australian, described the win as a hollow victory. "England's breathtaking ineptitude is bringing Test cricket to the brink," he said. "The traditional game is so fragile it cannot afford a pitifully weak England and rarely can England have been so pitifully weak."
Other commentators were more restrained. "If anyone still has anything bad to say about the Poms, let them speak now or forever hold their peace," said Peter Roebuck in the Herald. "There is no fun to be had in driving staves into a corpse."

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Christians want liberty, and by God they're going to fight for it

Sam Webster, in Christian Today, kicks off his New Year by whining about the "persecution" of Christians in the UK.
As Christians living in modern Britain we enjoy precious freedoms that our fellow believers in less open nations could only dream of. These freedoms didn’t fall out of the clear blue sky, they were won for us in past generations by courageous Christians who wrestled for them and passed them on to us.
Now, I was under the impression that the head of state of the United Kingdom was also the head of the Church of England. How much, do you think, have Christians in this country had to fight, over the centuries, to practice their faith? Not a lot, I suspect.

On the other hand, it wasn't until 1753 that the Christian rulers of this country would actually allow Jews to become citizens of the UK. Even then,
on being brought down to the House of Commons, the Tories made a great outcry against this "abandonment of Christianity", as they called it.
When Webster claims
There is not one inch of liberty that isn’t worth fighting for
I wonder how far he intends to go.

He backs up his moaning by providing examples of harassed Christians, such as
Lillian Ladele, the Christian registrar from Islington who was threatened with dismissal unless she performed homosexual civil partnership registrations. The Supreme Court said the case “does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance”. Miss Ladele is now taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the UK has unlawfully infringed her rights to religious liberty.
Liberty in this case meaning, the right to bring your prejudices against homosexuals to work, and refuse to carry out the job you're paid to do. If Miss Ladele was a bus driver, and refused to allow homosexuals onto her bus, would people like Webster be making a song and dance about it? It's exactly the same principle.
There was good news in April when a case involving a Christian mother and part-time school receptionist was settled without going to court. Jennie Cain had been disciplined by her employers following a dispute about a private prayer email.
Mrs Cain took legal action against her employers for religious discrimination and the matter was settled out of court. Her employers paid out an undisclosed sum of money and agreed that Christians should be treated with “sensitivity and respect” at the school.
What isn't mentioned is that Cain's daughter had been going around informing her classmates that they would go to hell if they didn't believe in Jesus. After the headteacher admonished her daughter, and then reprimanded Cain (since, after all, the child didn't pluck notions of original sin and eternal damnation out of thin air), Cain sent around an email whining about her treatment.
Mr Read defended the school's treatment of the matter and said they encouraged all children to "think independently", but would not condone one child "frightening" another.
He said: "We have 271 children in our school from a diversity of backgrounds.
"We encourage all our children to think independently and discuss their beliefs with their teachers and classmates when it is appropriate to do so.
"What we do not condone is one child frightening a six-year-old with the prospect of 'going to hell' if she does not believe in God.
"We conveyed to her mother, in a perfectly respectful manner, that we do not expect it to happen again."
Webster then cites the case of the homophobic B&B operators, who presumably have no problem with a husband raping his wife in one of their double beds, but can't abide the thought of two gay men having a good night's kip in one.
In the same month, the Christian owners of a Guesthouse appeared in Bristol County Court to defend themselves against a claim of discrimination brought by a homosexual couple. Peter and Hazelmary Bull’s guesthouse restricts double bed accommodation to married couples. The guesthouse is also their home. But civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall say the policy is unlawful and are suing the Christians for £5,000, including for injuring their feelings. The trial lasted two days and the judge has reserved his decision until after Christmas.
More pathetic whimpering. If you want to provide a service which is open to the public, why do you feel that your beliefs earn you a right to opt out of whatever equality provision you choose?

To sum up, then, Christians want their place in society while taking none of the responsibility. As their book states, they deem themselves special, and demand their prejudices be taken seriously. They want the right to discriminate against whoever they choose, and not to be discriminated against themselves.

It's time they started to stop complaining about their lot in life, and start accepting that in a modern secular society, which is what it is, there's going to be a lot of people who disagree with you.

Anyway, isn't it supposed to be good for you to suffer? And aren't you going to have the last laugh on Judgement Day anyway?

This is an example of a militant Muslim

Mumtaz Qadri assassinated Pakistani provincial governor Salman Taseer because of Taseer's assault on Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. By Qadri's twisted logic, Taseer's support for free speech and the rule of law meant he had to die.

And the response from the religious parties in Pakistan?

Qadri appeared in court, unrepentant, where waiting lawyers threw handfuls of rose petals over him and others in the crowd slapped his back and kissed his cheek as he was led in and out amid heavy security.

The internet had already been hosting fan pages for Qadri, with one Facebook page attracting over 2,000 followers before being taken down, while there were small demonstrations in favour of the killer in north-west Pakistan.

That's a militant Muslim, someone prepared to kill because someone might say something they don't like.

I hope that people now think twice about using the term "militant atheist" pejoratively for thinkers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens etc.
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Nescafe coffee - "bursting with antioxidants"

Been reading Ben Goldacre's frabjous book "Bad Science". Excellent stuff - he goes after quacks, homeopaths, big pharma, Gillian McKeith et al in a big way, sparing no-one from his sharply critical eye, and taught me a lot about scientific procedure, and how to interpret science and health reporting in particular.

I was reminded of "Bad Science" driving home from work this morning, when I spotted a bus (N26 to Chingford Station, for the saddoes out there) with a large ad for Nescafe coffee on the side, dominated by the words "Bursting With Antioxidants".

Hmm. Clearly, as such prominence is given to their inclusion, antioxidants must be a prime selling point for Nescafe. But why? Ben Goldacre explains.

The antioxidant story is one of the most ubiquitous health claims of the nutritionists. Antioxidants mop up free radicals, so in theory, looking at metabolism flow charts in biochemistry textbooks, having more of them might be beneficial to health. High blood levels of antioxidants were associated, in the 1980s, with longer life. Fruit and vegetables have lots of antioxidants, and fruit and veg really are good for you. So it all made sense.

But when you do compare people taking antioxidant supplement tablets with people on placebo, there's no benefit; if anything, the antioxidant pills are harmful. Fruit and veg are still good for you, but as you can see, it looks as if it's complicated and it might not just be about the extra antioxidants. It's a surprising finding, but that's science all over: the results are often counterintuitive. And that's exactly why you do scientific research, to check your assumptions. Otherwise it wouldn't be called "science", it would be called "assuming", or "guessing", or "making it up as you go along".

Now, as Ben suggests, the science behind the benefits to health from antioxidants may not be entirely wrong - eating fruit and veg as part of a balanced diet is good for general health, and fruit and veg is rich in antioxidants - but there may be more going on than just "antioxidants are good for you". Antioxidant supplements don't appear to be enough for you to reap health benefits.

But you don't take that message away from that Nescafe ad, do you? No. "Bursting With Antioxidants". Fairly unambiguous, wouldn't you say? In fact, the Nescafe ads could be construed as saying "antioxidants are good for you, they help prevent disease, our coffee has lots of them, please buy our coffee".

Although cleverly enough - "Bursting With Antioxidants" is the entire message. They induce you to make the connection between antioxidants and health in your own mind, while avoiding making any claims for antioxidants themselves. These advertising people are good.

Well, not this Supertec. I'm off to buy some Carte Noir tomorrow - first checking the label to make sure it's not trying to poison me with those darned antioxidants.

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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Thoughts on the Millennium Trilogy

Stieg Larsson's books seem to be like Marmite - you either love them or hate them, but they're bloody awkward to spread on toast. Having just finished listening to the whole trilogy in audiobook format, and seeing as the publicity machine shows no sign of relenting with the English-language film adaptationout soon, I thought I'd offer my own thoughts on the books.

  • Lisbeth Salander is one kick-ass heroine, and easily the best thing in the books. As she takes her revenge on people like the perverted lawyer Bjurman, I found myself almost cheering her on. Her complexities aren't quite fully explored - it's occasionally suggested that she's somewhere on the autism/Asperger's spectrum, but nothing much is ever made of this. Likewise, her 'special abilities', her photographic memory and almost savant-like computer skills, have to be accepted at face value, and hint at Larsson having watched "Rain Man" once, but didn't really do all that much research afterwards. Her punk/emo/goth stylings, though, are a refreshing break from the usual crime thriller cliches, and the descriptions of her bisexual relationships feel natural, rather than something that was chucked in for shock value. Salander's attitude towards authority, and indeed people in general, is probably what kept me most interested.
  • Mikael Blomkvist is an annoying, sanctimonious prick. It didn't take long for me to realise that Blomkvist is Larsson's idealised version of himself - women jump into bed with him at the drop of a hat, and he always ends up with his enemies crushed and himself vindicated. Just imagine The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo without Salander, and you'll see what I mean - I don't think I could stomach more than a few chapters in the company of Blomkvist alone. A little less shagging, Stieg, and less triumphalism when Blomkvist saves the day yet again, and we might have had a flawed anti-hero on our hands. As it is, he's just an annoyingly self-important journalist.
  • I'm amazed Sweden hasn't drowned in coffee. The drink is everywhere - when a character walks into a room, first they turn on the light, then they switch on the coffee machine. Yet they never visit the bathroom. Weird. The coffee obsession eventually becomes almost parodic - the meticulous detailing of Salander's high-end coffee machine in her apartment verges on coffee porn, and it's barely believable that, in the final chapter, she detects Niedermann's presence by the warmth of the coffee machine. In a derelict brickworks.
  • The films are better than the books. For the simple reason that the books try to do too much. Dragon Tattoo would have been better without the tedious, drawn-out financial journalism angle, which is obviously Larsson getting one over on all the people he hated in his own life. Condensing the plot into a two-hour movie requires the excising of a good part of this, and although Blomkvist's rattling off his issue of Millennium in prison seems rushed after reading the books, in hindsight it could have done away with it altogether and lost nothing. I haven't seen the last two movies, but as the focus is much more on Salander herself, I imagine the problem of how much guff to leave out was not as pressing.
  • It's better having Larsson at the top of the bestseller list than Dan Brown, or JK Rowling. Brown's novels are about clunking plotlines, nonsensical religious imagery and dreadful writing. The Harry Potter series is about a bloody boy wizard, for God's sake, and is written for children - adults who are caught reading them should have their voting privileges removed. In this context, Larsson is on a par with Shakespeare. The Salander books will never win any prizes for their florid prose, but skewering prejudice against women, and attacking Neo-Nazis, is always going to be more welcome in a bookstore than wizards and Bible codes.

The Republican plan for healthcare, exclusively revealed by Alan Grayson

Having sung the praises of Rory Stewart, I would still trade him in for an MP like Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida. Grayson recently lost his seat in Congress, which means we'll lose scenes like this classic from September 2009 in the House of Representatives.

We need more standups in the House of Commons, the comedians in there just aren't funny anymore.

H/T to Dangerous Minds.

Faith healing, or faith killing?

Susan M. Grady, who tried to heal her son from diabetes with prayer, and paid for her ignorance wih her son's life, has been charged, rightly, with neglect.
Susan M. Grady, 42, formerly of Broken Arrow, prayed with others over her son, Aaron Gregory Grady, when he became ill on June 2, 2009, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court. His condition worsened, and he died June 5, according to the affidavit.
Apparently, she never even thought about taking him to the doctor.
Susan Grady told detectives that she did not consider taking Aaron to the doctor. She told them that “I was trying to live by faith and I felt like God would heal him,” according to the affidavit.
What surprised me was that it seems that her deluded beliefs are accommodated, to an extent, by the law.
Oklahoma statutes allow parents to rely on prayer to try to heal their children up to the point that the child’s life is in danger or may face “permanent physical damage.”
According to the law, it is a misdemeanor if parents refuse to obtain care and a felony if the child dies.
If parents refuse to seek medical help for their children, the courts can intervene on the child’s behalf.
Meanwhile, her pastor remains unrepentant that leading Grady to ignore medicine resulted in the death of a child.
“We just preach faith,” said church leader Earl Weir. “It (the Bible) says to give your all. The whole church believes that way.”
Asked why that teaching requires a total denial of medical help even when an illness becomes serious or fatal, Weir said, “That’s everybody’s opinion. We’ve had the doctors kill people.”
In this case, clearly, it was OK that God decided to kill the boy himself. Can't this sham of a preacher be charged too?

Rory Stewart - the Tory it's OK to like?

I'm not a right-winger. That might be obvious to you if you've ever read one of my posts. I don't really describe myself as occupying any particular position on the political spectrum, not any more - in my younger days I would have called myself a socialist, but there's bits of all political philosphies that I like or dislike - perhaps I could call myself an anarcho-liberal-socialist-democrat, but I prefer to avoid labels. Fortunately, because that wouldn't fit well on a badge.

By and large, then, I tend to dislike politicians of the right. Just take a look - Margaret Thatcher, George Osborne, Silvio Berlusconi, George Bush, powermongers all, obsessed with attacking the state, the poor, the workers, anyone who stands in the way of the rich elite and obstructs their path to unadulterated wealth and power.

Try as I might, though, I can find nothing to dislike about Rory Stewart.

Who, I hear you cry? Potted history alert - Eton, Oxford, British Diplomatic Service, Montenegro, Kosovo, walked across Afghanistan and wrote a book about it, became province governor in Iraq and wrote a book about it, founded a charity in Afghanistan, professor at Harvard, elected MP for Penrith in Cumbria in 2010.

Phew. That's some CV. This isn't your standard policy wonk MP, like Ed Miliband, or David Cameron. This guy's actually achieved something in his life.

It was this article in the Observer that alerted me to Rory Stewart. Not only is it intelligently written, by someone who clearly has taken the time to get to know his constituency, but he actually puts into practice a form of localism, the kind that Cameron and his cronies espouse without ever really convincing you that they mean it.
But our Eden communities may have the solution. In Great Asby, one volunteer discovered there was already fibre, paid for by the taxpayer, for the school. The school let him splice off the fibre to a cabinet that he calls a "parish pump". From that he ran a wireless network, with transmitters in the church tower and one, powered by solar panels, on a dead tree to reach the outlying farms. He has persuaded 70% of the village to sign up and is making enough money (as an unpaid volunteer) to upgrade the network. Local farmers have agreed to lay the fibre, at a fraction of the commercial cost. This is not a just impressive technology, it's astonishing community action.
I got to the end of the article without realising that this was a Conservative MP writing - it's never apparent. Party lines don't seem to count with Stewart.

On his website, Stewart addresses Afghanistan, clearly a place that looms large in his life, and again writes with eloquence, intelligence and insight, not to mention an understanding of history that's alien to most politicians.
No politician wants to be perceived to have underestimated, or failed to address, a terrorist threat; or to write off the ‘blood and treasure’ that we have sunk into Afghanistan; or to admit defeat. Americans are particularly unwilling to believe that problems are insoluble; Obama’s motto is not ‘no we can’t’; soldiers are not trained to admit defeat or to say a mission is impossible. And to suggest that what worked in Iraq won’t work in Afghanistan (or that what worked in postwar West Germany or 1950s Souh Korea won’t work in Afghanistan) requires a detailed knowledge of each country’s past, a bold analysis of the causes of development and a rigorous exposition of the differences, for which few have patience.
He goes on to expound on civil service opinions of Afghanistan in the 19th century.

I'm sure there must be some point of principle that I'd disagree with him on - for one thing, his embrace of local empowerment might work well in Cumbria, where independence and self-sufficiency is forced upon you by the environment, but I doubt it would translate to a council estate in Peckham, for example. But I find it admirable that someone of obvious intelligence and experience wants to represent people, and actually seems to care about the people he represents, without apparently having any ambition towards higher office. From publicservice:
"Without being too pompous about it you are trying to be useful. It might be I could do something useful being a backbencher. My suspicion is I like managing things and getting things done. I am very interested in the civil service, so if I was lucky enough to become a junior Foreign Office minister I would be fascinated to go back to a department where I had worked.

"The Department for International Development, for example, was the most extraordinary department under Clare Short – she managed to really give it energy. But the idea of being an MP is a wonderful thing as well and I wouldn't like to live in a world where that is just a stepping stone to being a minister."
Scary. I've found a Conservative politician I actually like. Whatever next?

Monday, 3 January 2011

Stewart Lee's mum is an Orient supporter

For fans of Stewart Lee: 41st Best Standup Comedian Ever, in the Leyton Orient store today, I found proof that his mum follows the mighty O's.

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Leyton Orient 4 Colchester United 2

Sometime in the early 90's, I was an 11-year-old mascot for Leyton Orient in an FA Cup replay against Colchester United (I got photos taken with John Sitton, the then captain, and "Ooh" Terry Howard, terrace favourite, and also, incongruously, the autograph of Frank Carson, the comedian, who was a director of Colchester at the time).

Orient won 4-1, I recall, and today they also got four against the same opponents, although they didn't ask me to be mascot this time. It's understandable, I'm probably too old now.

After the 5-0 mauling Brighton dished out to us at the weekend, we needed to bounce back, and I thought Orient gave arguably their best home performance of the season. Coxy found acres of space on the left wing, Chorley was dominant in central defence and showed some clever distribution, and Jones made some good saves, although it could be argued that the two Colchester goals were softly conceded.

Highlight of the match was undoubtedly Paul-Jose Mpoku's 30-yard screamer near the end of the second half - well, it looked like 30 yards from the other end of the ground, anyway. In all honesty, we deserved the win - Colchester played OK and took their chances well, but Orient played the ball around well and created too much pressure and too many openings for the Essex Boys to handle.

Norwich up next for us in the FA Cup on Saturday, and I'm not expecting us to repeat the Colchester score in that match. Hope springs eternal, though.

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Sunday, 2 January 2011

The oldest dentist in town

An Israeli archaeologist claims to have found a 400,000 year old human tooth, in a cave in Israel - and, fairly predictably, wild conclusions are now being drawn from the erstwhile molar.

Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University found eight teeth in Qesem Cave. The team said the discovery challenges theories of the origin of humans.

Avi Gopher, who led the team, told Agence France-Presse that it calls into question the widely held view that modern humans originated in Africa.

But in an interview with, Gopher appeared to row back a little from the conclusions being drawn from his paper.

Do the teeth that you found in Qesem Cave really provide evidence that Homo sapiens did not evolve in Africa?

We don't know. What I can say is that they definitely leave all options open...

There is a range of variation and no single unique trait that identifies a tooth unambiguously as modern or archaic or Neanderthal.

So, there's not really any definite evidence that this tooth does come from a human population hundreds of thousands of years older than we would normally expect.

There's always new findings in archaeology ready to jump up and throw our preconceptions in the fire. This, I have the feeling, isn't one of them. For one thing, a population of early humans very close to Africa hardly begins to disprove the "out of Africa" theory.

For another, the Denisovan population, described only last week, shows just how much variation there is in ancient hominid populations, and that our ancestry may not be as homogeneous as we may have previously thought, given that the Denisovans appear to have contributed a significant proportion of DNA to present day Melanesian populations.

The tooth may well be homo sapiens, or not, but it seems that Gopher and his team, while content to take the plaudits for the discovery, don't want to state it unambiguously. Instead, they've left just enough room for their findings to be liberally interpreted, while still sitting on the fence.

Of course, it doesn't take much searching on teh interwebz to find those who will claim, given the historical significance of Israel, that it's all evidence of god's master plan, although it's been oddly ignored by the YECs.

I do notice that no DNA testing appears to have been done on the tooth. I think judgement will have to await those findings.

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Saturday, 1 January 2011

The tabloids get the suspect they wanted

The disappearance and murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates has been front page news for the last couple of weeks in the UK. Just a few days ago, her landlord was arrested on suspicion of her murder ( he's now been released on bail, I've just read.)

Of course, the fact that he's a little eccentric to say the least has delighted our tabloid press. The Sun has jumped in with both feet as usual, digging up as much dirt as has been possible in the short space of time available to them.

It occurs to me that this is exactly the suspect papers like the Sun and the Mail could have wanted. An oddball older man, with a surfeit of apparently strange stories around him - it's easy to paint the picture of a murderer with such a helpful canvas.

In such a context, I admire the bravery of Yeates' family and partner, in releasing the statement that they have today. Apart from the obvious sorrow they are feeling, they managed to spare a thought for Chris Jefferies as well.

"Jo's life was cut short tragically but the finger-pointing and character assassination by social and news media of as yet innocent men has been shameful.
"It has made me lose a lot of faith in the morality of the British Press and those that spend their time fixed to the internet in this modern age.

David Walton makes the case for the anonymity of suspects as eloquently as ever, but I feel that the rush to blame someone, anyone, for a tragedy like this, and the tabloid hysteria that rises like scum to the surface at every opportunity, means there's little chance of that ever happening. The media frenzy needs feeding, and Jefferies, who may or may not be innocent, is easy prey.

Hopefully, for the sake of all involved, the whole affair will come to a swift resolution.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Yew Hear Nappy!!!

Or Happy New Year, for those of you who bothersomely insist on putting letters into the correct order.

In time honoured tradition, I saw in New Year at work, grimacing at the celebratory messages flying back and forth on Twitter and Facebook, while failing to console myself with the prospect of double bubble for my loyal 12-hour shifts over the holiday period. Ah well.

To alleviate the boredom, I did find a couple of lovely apps for my iPhone:

Fstream, which streams radio feeds off teh interwebz, and allowed me to listen to England's fantastic victory in the Fourth Test, not to mention the Barmy Army playing every song in their repertoire, from Coronation Street to Live and Let Die.

•And Reeder, which has revolutionised my blog following. Much easier than bookmarking stuff on Safari.

•Not to mention that, through trial and error, and also clicking buttons to see what happens, I've found an easy way of inserting hyperlinks into blogposts on the Blogpress app. How technologically challenged I am.

Tentative thoughts for the New Year include investigating the music of Laura Marling, and hoping that a 5-0 defeat away to Brighton isn't some kind of omen for the rest of Leyton Orient's season.

Happy New Year, people.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone