Friday, December 16, 2005

its windy today

And now the local residents around the oil depot are struggling – they’ve lost their jobs, their homes are wrecked – no-one’s helping them. At the least the oil companies running the depot should stump up immediately and unconditionally.

If not them – then the government. Or do we all have to live in the shadow of multi-national corporations; the risk is all ours and none of it their’s? What the fuck do we have a government for anyway? More proof that Blair is a useless c**t.

The bloody wind today! It stopped me riding my bike for part of the way into work. I could barely hold my ground, with dry leaves and grit being blown into my face. I got off and walked. I’ve never seen the waters in the docks so choppy. The Woolwich Ferry has been suspended too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


An oil depot blew up near Hemel Hampstead the other day, which was nice.
S woke me to tell me what had happened - it was pretty early- soon after 6.00 I think. We weren't woken by the explosion like some people though.
However - by about midday there was a definite smell of petrol in the air.

Through the day we were show some pretty alarming pictures - the black cloud, produced by burning the equivelent to a quarter of all the petrol used in Britain in one day, was supposed to be non-toxic. contains benzene, carbon monoxide, and carcinogenic particles. How is that non-toxic?

By dusk - the smell of burnt petrol was unmistakable - we couldn't have windows or doors open on that side of the flat.

Fortunately the wind changed direction the next day towards the south west. The sun came out and it didn't rain on us. Once it raisn on us our water will be contaminated with benzene, which is extremely toxic, even though we breathe it in every day coming out of exhaust pipes.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Autism Research

Being a person with Aperger Syndrome, a form of autism, I was interested to read this article. I've always been amazed at how little information there is regarding autism, understandable to the layman.

Scans of autistic children show faults in brain circuits

Ian Sample, Science correspondent
Monday December 5, 2005
The Guardian
Brain scans of autistic children have revealed striking faults in key brain circuits that could explain the range of social difficulties such youngsters experience, neuroscientists claimed yesterday.
Detailed snapshots of the children's brains showed that networks of nerves thought crucial for understanding other people's emotions and intentions did not spark into life at the appropriate moment. The more severe a child's autism, the less activity the circuits showed.
In the study, neuroscientists led by Mirella Dapretto, a psychiatrist and brain mapping specialist at the University of California in Los Angeles, showed a series of faces to two groups of children with an average age of just over 12 years. The children in one group had been diagnosed with autism; the others showed no signs of the disorder.
Every child tested saw 80 faces, each of which expressed either anger, fear, happiness, sadness or a natural state. In separate scans, the children were asked to observe the face or imitate the expression.

The researchers found a striking difference between the brain scans of the two groups of surveyed children. When the non-autistic children saw the faces, various parts of their brains flickered into life, including clumps of nerves called mirror neurons. This group of nerves is thought to play a key role in helping us understand how others are feeling, for example by mirroring in ourselves feelings of sadness if we see someone looking miserable.
Significantly, brain scans showed that when autistic children looked at the faces, they processed the features properly, but the mirror neurons conveying the emotion of the expression failed to light up.
In the next test, children were asked to imitate the expression on each face flashed up before them. Again, the scans showed that clumps of mirror neurons burst into life in children with normally developed brains. When autistic children mimicked the expressions, they hardly flickered at all. The scans suggest that while people with autism can recognise expressions, the brain circuits that attach emotion to them are faulty, making it hard or impossible to read others' feelings.
The study, which was published in Nature Neuroscience yesterday, shows that the problem lies with a particular region of the brain known as the pars opercularis, which is rich in mirror neurons. In a final set of scans, the scientists showed that increasingly severe autism went hand in hand with rapidly decreasing activity of the mirror neurons.
"This mirroring mechanism may underlie the remarkable ability to read others' emotional states from a mere glance," said Dr Dapretto. "Our findings suggest that a dysfunctional mirror neuron system may underlie the social deficits observed in autism. This is exciting because we finally have an account that can explain all core symptoms of this disorder."

which is nice.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tony B Liar Strikes Again

I got this in an email today:

The British Government has warned media outlets against publishing further details of a leaked memo of an April 16, 2004 meeting at which George W. Bush allegedly told Tony Blair he wanted to bomb Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar. The Mirrorآ quoted an anonymous source who stated that Bush "made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem." At the time US forces were attacking the Iraqi town of Fallujah. "The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over U.S. claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors," The Mirror reported. Following the original report, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warned news outlets that publication of any further details from the memo would be treated as a breach of the Official Secrets Act.
SOURCE: The Mirror (UK), November 23, 2005
For more information or to comment on this story.

The leaked memo was mentioned several times on “Have I Got News For You” by Ian Hislop, along with the gagging order. Hislop seemed to be inviting the wrath of number 10.
That the US have been deliberately targeting al Jazeera is something that I have long suspected – and have been stashing the news clippings into my chaotic filing system at home where they will emerge eventually. NATO forces in Serbia targetted the local news media there. Al Jazeera weren't the only victims of this policy however. Large numbers of independent western reporters were wiped out during the Gulf War - including a blatant, purposeful US tank attack on the hotel where many such journalists were based.

I’ve been enjoying a period of exceptionally good cycling recently – the new bike helps. The weather is good for it too. Makes me laugh though – where are all those new cyclists now? A little bit of cold weather and they’re back to taking their chances with suicide bombers on the tube. And what makes me laugh? It’s actually better to cycle in this weather – you get less sweaty – and there’s less incompetent cyclists on the road too.

My days of cycling along the canal sides, through Victoria Park and onto the Woolwich Ferry are numbered though. I’m changing location to Central London in January. I’ll be working at Baker Street after that. The route is not so nice, but I can do a little bit through Hyde Park. And I’ll be spitting distance from Regents Park, the Zoo and Camden Lock.

I walked back through Woolwich the other day. This was because I saw some odd things going on. A crane, a large shining ball, lots of lights, a police cordon, loads of vans carrying movie equipment. It was between takes, clearly, as I was allowed to walk straight through the middle of the set. There were a little group of shacks with a stuffed cockerel sitting on top, lit by massively powerful indirect light. I’ve no idea what was being filmed though.

I wandered past M&S, McDonalds, and had a flashback to my student days. I suddenly had a clear memory of rushing into M&S for a large bag of crisps just before going into a 3 hour engineering lecture. The old Thames Poly is abandoned now – and it was the main building. It’s also the heart of Woolwich. Can’t see any sign of redevelopment though. I find it a little sad – I must go down and take some pictures before it all disappears.

Then I saw it. A stink pipe. A big one. It was right in front of the student accomodation – where I lived for a year – where my friend Dave lived for the year after that. I must have walked past it a hundred times while I was in Woolwich, and probably never really noticed it. Well, there you go.

I’m going to a pub quiz tonight with S and some friends. I used to run a pub quiz up on Clapham Common – back in the mid 90s. It was to raise money for Greenpeace, and it became quite a tradition. Friends of the Earth always used to join in, as well as several people who just happened to be in the pub at the time.

Coming up with questions was the hardest bit. The one time I was able to enter was in ‘93 after coming back from a holiday in Sicily – I’d set the thing up before I went away and arranged for someone else to write the questions. They arrived in sealed envelopes – so I had no idea what they were, allowing me to join in with the Greenpeace team.

The event petered out after a couple of years – I’d stopped doing it monthly – eventually doing just a couple a year – and then the new management in the pub signalled that they weren’t really very keen on us continuing.

This 24 hours drinking thing is a bit of a let down – I haven’t even found a pub yet that’s extended its hours by minutes, let alone hours. Last orders still goes at 10.50. where’s my bloody 24 hours drinking then?!?

My Dad’s been ill. He went in for a routine hospital and ended up with a massive infection. Although, according to my mum, he’s getting quite a bit better now, and is likely to be coming home today.