Search This Blog

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

If you see no other film in a cinema this year, see this documentary film. It beggars believe how complicit the Catholic Church has been in suppressing and hiding child abuse cases by priests world-wide. The complicity goes right to the pope. No wonder he has decided to resign. Shame on the lot of them!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

N-back test in neuro-science

For several years now I've taken part, as a guinea pig, in some Cambridge University research in the Department of Speech, Language and the Brain. It involves doing occasional audio and visual tests on a PC and the occasional MRI scan of my brain.

Today I did a 2.5 hour long test that included a fiendish test called an N-back test where you have to say if the letter on the screen is the same as the one before, or in further tests the one before the one before, or the one before the one before.

Now, whereas I could do almost every other test they gave me without difficulty, this one I found almost impossibly hard.

"Meta-analysis of 24 n-back neuroimaging studies have shown that during this exercise the following brain regions are consistently activated: lateral premotor cortex; dorsal cingulate and medial premotor cortex; dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; frontal poles; and medial and lateral posterior parietal cortex." ...according to Wikipedia.

Now I am unsure what a poor performance in this test tells the researchers, but I hope my contribution helped.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Buying everything British - not easy

On BBC TV this morning they featured the Bradshaw family who are trying to buy everything British during 2013 i.e. food, clothes, electrical goods, fuel etc. As most of our manufacturing base has disappeared overseas, mainly to China, to reduce manufacturing costs, it is increasingly difficult to succeed in this challenge. The PC I am writing this on is made in China for a start. I see they have just run out of black pepper and are now stuck for a replacement as most pepper comes from exotic places. Buying BP petrol is a bit of a cheat as this company is really a large multi-national, but short of running a car on chip fat oil made from British grown sunflowers it is quite hard to find British petrol.

In my own small way I'd like to try to emulate them, in shopping if in nothing else, by buying British meats and British vegetables and fruit far more than hitherto.

Can someone explain to me how our economy works if nearly everything we eat, drink and use is imported from abroad? What we export surely does not balance the costs of these goods, so doesn't it mean we are just stoking up our debt still further?

The Bradshaws website is at

In the limit world trade would collapse if we traded nothing outside our country, but they are trying to make a point that virtually nothing is made in the UK these days. Surely there has to come a time when more of what we need will be made in the UK again?

Monday, 14 January 2013

The bonus season fiasco

The BBC News website mentioned that Goldman-Sachs may be postponing their UK bonus pay-outs this year so that employees who qualify will only have to pay tax at 45% rather than 50%. I do not know if this is factually correct but I have strong views on this:
  • No company should be paying its employees average bonuses over £200k as I understand G-S did last year. Is this a correct figure? If correct, such payments look OBSCENE. Who needs this sort of money?
  • No company should be manipulating bonus payments for tax avoidance reasons.
See .

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Spareone mobile phone

Spareone emergency phone available from
Amazon and others are selling the Spareone emergency mobile phone. This interesting product uses a single AA battery (all types) and will hold its charge for 15 years (they claim) if the phone is not used. It is therefore ideal to have in the car or in a handbag in case of emergencies. It retails at just under £40. Neat idea that has won several awards.

Why is weather forecasting in the UK so bad?

The Met Office weather app screen
On my iPod Touch 4g I have the Met Office weather forecasting app. It is great with forecasts every 3 hours for the current day and for the following few days. There is a lot of detail there. The problem is it is frequently wrong, even at the current time!

I know all the excuses about butterfly wings flapping, but with huge mega-computers now in use is it really so impossible to get a decent weather forecast just a few hours in the future?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

RFID chip security risk to credit and debit cards

Did you realise that your credit card and debit card may have an RFID chip embedded inside it that can be used to hack into the card details? Neither did I. Watch this video and see. Clearly it needs someone with the right software and skills to do this, but as this demo shows it cannot be that difficult.