Pride and Pretentiousness, do you know one?

We all know someone pretentious, usually in the form of a “hip” University student, whose sustenance is the WiFi in Starbucks, writing a blog about bloggers who blog about blogging, enjoyed over a steaming cup of extra foam-non-dairy-split-shot-sugar-free-caramel-swirl-minus-the-caramel-touch-of-hazelnut-put-it-in-a-venti-cup coffee, which they neglect as they harp loudly to their equally pretentious friends about utilitarianism and Zeitgeist.

You know who I’m talking about, they look like they’ve stolen their Grandad’s unwanted clothes, and wear big framed glasses with no lenses so they can better see just how inferior anyone with a differing opinion to theirs is. They preach about the environment and Fairtrade then light up a Mayfair and puff about how corrupt the Government is man, it’s all a conspiracy dude, that’s why they’re an Anarchist, who also happens to like hybrid genre music like crunk-house-dub-classical, and is the only vegan so strict they think lentil soup is morally wrong.

Oh, and their parents are totally bang out of order because they won’t let them get the new Apple Wafer-thin Craptop, so just to show them up they’re going to have that massive “off-the-rails” house-party and show off their mad-DJ skills mixing vinyls from the 70’s with electro, alcohol is totally last century they’re T-Total now, but crystal meth is just fine.


Image via Wikipedia

Beautiful Minds Professor Andre Geim

photo of Prof Geim

Nobel prize winning scientist Andre Geim argues that “The fourth greatest pleasure in life” is “pissing off your colleagues” and claims “Annoying your colleagues is one of the pleasures I will never give up.”

His playful approach to physics allows him to think outside the box, and rather than thinking of what end result he desires from an experiment, instead he thinks about the many possible results. As with any decent scientist, questioning your surroundings, the work of others, and even your own endeavours is vital.

From levitating magnetic frogs to creating graphene, the world’s thinnest material, Andre’s work is a marvel. His desire to make science fun, and “perform” it to others, even if it means drinking liquid Nitrogen, sets him apart from many scientists.

Never take life or yourself too seriously. Watch Beautiful Minds here.

Tribute to a Patient

As usual I will protect patient confidentiality with anonymity. I found out today that a former patient I used to care for in the community, Mrs M, has passed away. She spent most of her life in a wheelchair having developed Multiple Sclerosis early on, even swallowing became difficult and she required Gabapentin among her large list of prescriptions. On top of that she had another undisclosed terminal illness diagnosed the Spring before her death.

The only control she had left over her life was through directing others, the Carers (which was my former role). There was no two ways of doing things, she ensured things were done just so, and was frustrated when they weren’t. But this frustration was not really at us, it was at her condition, at the debilitation that prevented her from doing anything, and we all admired what a strong woman she was. She never complained about the hand she was dealt in life, she never broke down or shied away in sadness. Perhaps behind closed doors when the radio was her only company.

I remember the day room, we would Continue reading

Challenge: Can you identify this skull?

What creature does this skull belong to? Ask anyone who knows anything about this kind of thing, take a look at these pictures and see if you can make a guess.

I have had it for years in my room, having found it near some rapids in New Zealand, surrounded by fields inhabited primarily by sheep. But this certainly doesn’t look like a sheep skull, and has no visible evidence of ever having a jaw/teeth. Quite large eye sockets, the skull has a strange snout-like thing with a gaping hole in the middle.

I have also sent it off to the Identification forum of the Natural History Museum.

A Patient is just as responsible as their Doctor

The Patient’s Duty:

Deutsch: Ein Arzt beim Abhorchen der Lungen mi...

–       Know how to communicate effectively with medical staff.

Rudeness will not aid or speed up your care, and there is no 100% success rate for any Doctor, a diagnosis can change based on further tests or second opinion. You are as much responsible for your own body and health as your Doctor is, they will do their job in aiding your health, but you should do the same.

–       Know your rights.

I, as have many others, have experienced problems with Doctors who are reluctant to make referrals or give prescriptions, and instead of having a “better safe than sorry” attitude have an “it’s probably not that” attitude. Well, would you rather a suspicious lump shown up in an ultrasound not be tested further because it “probably” isn’t cancer, would save some funding and the GP’s precious time?

No, it is better to test again to get a clearer picture and confirm that it is definitely rather than “probably” not cancer. The most recent story pertaining to this issue was this article about a lady whose husband could have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s much sooner. The Daily Mail is awful of course, but I found the story interesting.

This BMJ article ‘A horse or a zebra?’ describes a medical student who diagnosed himself correctly, but was told by the GP that this diagnosis was unlikely and would not refer him for testing. This is why sometimes insisting, and knowing your rights, can help you reach a positive outcome quicker, you have to stand up for your health.

Prevention is always better than cure, the funding used on tests to aid early diagnosis, vaccinations, and necessary prescriptions save money in the long-term, and can result in less long-term or chronic conditions that require lifelong medications or treatments.

–       Know when to call NHS Direct instead of an ambulance or going to A&E.

I have heard laughable stories of Continue reading

Horizon The Truth About Exercise and Fat, My Thoughts

The Truth About Exercise with Michael Mosley, of whom I am a big fan, explores the myths about exercise and how sometimes less really is more. Just a few minutes of exercise per week, split into 3 minute bursts of intense workout can improve insulin sensitivity by 24%, particularly useful for those at risk of diabetes. However, your genes play a vital role in how well your body responds to excercise, some people are classed as ‘non-responders’ and their aerobics do not noticeably improve. As Mr Mosley said when discovering he was among this genetic minority; “Thanks mum, thanks dad.”

The Truth About Fat, lead by surgeon Gabriel Weston explores the fat epidemic spreading throughout Western culture. Our genes, programmed by evolution, tell us to look for high calorie foods; a reflection of what life was like many years ago when food was sparse and any meal consumed needed to be high in calories for energy and survival. But nowadays, when we are spoilt for choice and not always surrounded by the healthiest choices, our genetic makeup is against us. As a nation we are eating more than we need to, and not always allowing ourselves to get ‘hungry’ before eating, as well as plentiful meals there are snacks constantly available.

The programme explores how overweight people often lack sufficient hormonal response to food; so although their ‘hunger’ enzyme is not usually higher than yours or mine, Continue reading

Depressed elderly man reacts to music from his era

The video above is really touching, it doesn’t give all the facts about him or where he’s from and why he’s in the nursing home, but his reaction to music is undeniable. This acts as a reminder of the power of the brain, how stimulus through sense of sound can awaken neurological pathways that have remained dormant.

It vaguely reminded me of a film I like, The Music Never Stopped.

Samantha Brick gets Brick to the Face


The reaction to her article, which I talked about in my previous post, has been incredible.

Moral of the story:

– There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, just don’t assume the whole world views you the same way. I have to agree that false modesty, or self-deprecating comments fishing for a compliment are just as bad though.

– Don’t blame your “lovely looks” for your social and career failures. It’s true physical appearance can have an affect, but don’t apply such vain stereotypes to both men and women, and assume they’re either in awe of your beauty or just jealous. Life isn’t that simple and doesn’t revolve around you.

– Don’t write a delusional rant instead of an educated analytical article on the psychological/sociological affects of appearance, you have just given the Daily Mail exactly what they wanted, and frankly done no favours for the female gender as a whole.

Daily Mail – 1                Female Gender – 0

Some of the best responses to Samantha Brick’s delusional “article” are here:

Like Samantha Brick, I have been hated for my good looks

The Mail simply threw Samantha Brick to the wolves

Samantha Brick Facts

Who Said It: Samantha Brick Or Derek Zoolander? (QUIZ)  –  I would have gotten more wrong if I were not a Zoolander fan.

Celebrity Twitter reactions

Youtube: Get Over It – The Troubled Beauty of Samantha Brick

Samantha Brick: The Ugly Truth

Never thought I would link to the Daily Mail, because their idea of ‘News’ is laughable, their journalism shocking and largely not proof-read, but their celebrity gossip and sensationalised stories are amusing, and I like to read it occasionally. It’s like fast-food, zero effort and bad for you, but enjoyable at the time.

Samantha Brick became infamous after posting an article titled ‘Why Women Hate me for Being Beautiful,’ an “informative” article about why ‘there are downsides to looking this pretty.’ There was a huge backlash of negative feedback from male and female readers alike, and she recently defended her article, responding to the uproar here.

I’m not going to disagree solely on the basis of her physical appearance, which is definitely not what I would call beautiful, just an average woman of her age group. I disagree on the basis that she says there is none of this female ‘bitchyness’ and judgement of physical appearance in the US, just the UK. Female ‘bitchyness’ exists in all countries on some level including the US, hence the trouble of high school, beauty pageants, competition in the workplace, friendships and fall-outs in female friend groups, and the high rates of plastic surgery in both the UK and US. But this doesn’t apply to all females, a lot of women care much more about their careers, education and family than bitching about other women or competing, and generally everyone should have grown out of this after leaving school (that’s not to say they all do, some still give in solely to primitive instincts).

Her other points included:

She says she has been rejected by female friends because she thought they were insecure about their husbands looking at her. And ‘not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid’.

News-flash, friendships can fade, particularly when your friends are married, having children, and have less time to catch up, less in common with you or the friendship just wasn’t that strong. They probably weren’t even thinking about you, but if you want to make it all about you then perhaps that is your problem not theirs?

Though admittedly there are some marriages that do exist in this state of insecurity, and single females can be seen as the odd one out at dinner party consiting of married couples, I doubt that this applies to every single one of her female friends’ marriages.

She claims ‘Insecure female bosses have barred me from promotions at work’

This one is the only vaguely valid point, I’ve seen firsthand how some female managers are much nicer to their male staff than female, but this is generally regardless of the female’s aesthetic attractiveness, treating the female gender as a whole differently to the male. Equally some female managers are nicer to their fellow gender and more willing to empathise if their female employee is having a bad day.

But these two extremes certainly don’t apply to all, or even a majority, of female managers. Either way, her “lovely looks” (her words not mine) do not warrant such reaction. I would hazard a guess that it is her inflated opinion of herself, expectation and sense of entitlement from others, that lead her to feeling rejected or unfairly treated. Unable to take responsibility she blames something tangible and out of her control like her appearance.

Lastly, she claims females should compliment each other more but never do

I laughed when I read this part, and had to wonder what kind of company she keeps. The female friends I have always had, across the country, dote compliments on each other, ask advice of each other on what looks best, does this suit me, do you think I should dye my hair this colour etc. Of course you get your bad eggs, usually in school, the chav girls who bitch about everyone because of their own insecurity, but this shouldn’t tarnish the entire female gender.

Has she never wondered that perhaps the reason she doesn’t get more compliments is because: a) she’s keeping the wrong company b) she hasn’t warranted such positive attention, or c) she expects too much from people and is very insecure, requiring compliments to top-up her pay-as-you-go ego.

“I’ve regularly had bottles of bubbly or wine sent to my table by men I don’t know” And she adds that this is not unusual or uncommon

Yes, it is proven that women who men view as attainable or viable can get things for free. Even attractive female sex offenders get out of prison earlier than their less attractive counterparts, we all judge on some primitive subconscious level (the difference is most of us can override basal human instincts with logic and experience). There are lots of men like that out there, but again it doesn’t tarnish the male gender as a whole or mean that because one man buys you some Moet that the entire male gender finds you attractive.

The men who buy things for you without asking, then say it’s because your “smile made their day”, can really be translated as saying “Well, I had hoped for another notch on my bedpost”, I mean come on, you don’t think you’re the only lady they’ve ever done that for? A woman doesn’t have to be a 10/10 to get some men’s attention, in fact some men try to woo ladies who they view as in their own ‘league’ and wouldn’t dare attempt approaching a lady who they viewed as too attractive to be attainable. Again, this doesn’t apply to the whole male gender, just as the “bitchyness”/mistreatment of females to other females does not apply to the whole gender. But really, such naivety and delusion is unhealthy.

I found her whole article quite laughable. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in how you look, every girl has ugly days of insecurity and pretty days of going out feeling good in that new dress. Like Samantha, I also hate false modesty, or the self-deprecating comments some women make when fishing for a compliment, but to exaggerate your appearance and blame it entirely for your social and work-life problems is delusional.

PLEASE NOTE: I do not condone the abuse and threats Samantha Brick has received, and as stated I do not disagree with her article on the basis of her actual physical appearance.

Living and Dying on Death Row

I admit Death Row has always been something that made me curious, as have murderers, serial killers and the justice system itself. But it goes beyond morbid fascination into my desire to understand why people do what they do; a lot of it comes down to neurology, biopsychology, as well social and cultural forces. But this post is not to argue Nature Versus Nurture. This is my ethical consideration.

Title capital punishment

Is Capital punishment ethically sound? I don’t think so; an eye for an eye or a ‘life for a life’ does not equate to justice, it is bloodlust the same as in the Middle Ages. Besides, death is a way out; life in prison is a longer punishment, protecting the general public without having to murder the convict.

I think the real reasons (or excuses) behind Capital punishment are:

1) To reduce overcrowding in prisons.

In other words to save costs and the time it would take to find alternative solutions. This is also the reason many non-capital offenders are released early; it’s not just for ‘good behaviour.’

2) Outdated primitive bloodlust, where ‘justice’ is synonymous with revenge.

You would be amazed how many people call for the torture and death of a criminal, so long as it is not blood on their hands. The executions are generally performed in white tiled rooms by stoic prison staff, legalised murder under the pretense of justice in a clinical sanitary environment. A viewing room is separated by glass so the onlookers can see every bit of gore, but remain clean and separate from any feeling of responsibility. We live in a voyeuristic culture, where we can absorb information from behind the safety of a computer monitor, television screen, windows, the glass panel separating us from the wild animals at the zoo, or a criminal about to have his or her life taken, exposed under the stark lights and glare of onlookers’ eyes.

Many murder victims’ families do not seek this level of revenge and argue: ‘”MVFR (Murder Victims Families for Retribution) knows that – in spite of that pain vengeance is not the answer. The taking of another life by state killing only continues the cycle of violence.” One member writes, “To say that the death of any other person would be just retribution is to insult the immeasurable worth of our loved ones who are victims.”

3) To deter others from committing the same crimes.

At least read this article before making up your mind. The deterrent effects of capital punishment are based on opinion only, not facts, and are therefore not a logical or actual reason to maintain this barbaric practice.

Prevention is a good idea, but this is not the way to do it. Another problem is that most murderers probably aren’t thinking about the consequences of their actions when performing them, a lot of murders are in the ‘heat of the moment’, or driven by anger. But also some are the cold, calculated decisions of psychopaths whose biological makeup disallows them from feeling compassion or guilt, no matter how long they are forced to rot on Death Row.

4) In some countries executions have resulted in nonconsensual organ ‘donation’.

The theft of the convict’s organs regardless of their consent or religious/cultural beliefs still happens today. It has been common practice in China, where they are now allegedly moving to stop transplants of organs after executions due to a global outcry, see here in NYTimes. But why was this allowed to happen in the first place?

If you want to learn more about legalised execution around the world, it is worth visiting Amnesty here. And watch this new series on 40d, where Werner Herzog meets convicted criminals on Death Row, including Hank Skinner who, guilty or not, was not given a fair trial and had to fight for pieces of evidence to be DNA tested. His execution date has been rescheduled three times, and he was even sent to the ‘Death house’ where he ate his last meal, in a cell that overlooked the room where he would meet his death, only to have the phone ring and be told that the execution date had been put off. I question whether anyone deserves to have his or her life not only ended, but also toyed with in this manner.

Religious Child Maltreatment

Religion is no excuse for beating or killing your child, for physically or emotionally hurting a child. “God told me to” won’t stand up in court for good reason, and for any other scenario when the perpetrator told them an imaginary voice told them to do it they’d be carted off to a mental ward. Why does religion sometimes get an easier ride? The parents didn’t “mean well”, it wasn’t an accident, and even without religion these people would still find a way to exact their warped intentions on an innocent being. Why do some things get chalked up to ‘culture’ and ‘belief’? Regardless of where you’re from, who you are, or what you believe, it’s fairly obvious that hurting a child is not acceptable, not in this day and age. Perhaps that’s the problem, some people are still living in the Dark Ages of superstition and punishment. We are privileged to have education, and the ability to develop emotional intelligence sufficient enough to at least co-exist if not help one another.

Join the movement to end child abuse: www.1sta...

Join the movement to end child abuse: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not having a go at religion itself or saying this applies to all religious people, but there’s no doubt some people use religion as an excuse for violence and abuse, a way to disengage from their own responsibility, ‘God’ forbid they would ever have to feel guilt or culpability. I am disgusted to still be reading things like this article here.

My new baby rabbit

My question, if anyone cares to answer, is if you could keep any animal as a pet which would it be and why? You can ignore legal or ethical restrictions, as it’s just a game of course.

And yes this is one of those cheesy “aww my new pet” posts. Those who know me realise I’m not all bunnies, rainbows and unicorns, but I do love caring for animals as well as people. I have a dog, a tortoise, a royal python and now a rabbit. Of course, the snake lives separately, and I just upgraded him to a huge 4ft long vivarium so he can stretch, climb and have extra hiding places, he’s a very content snake proven in the way he never ever balls up (even though his species are often nicknamed ‘ball pythons because they ball up when wary, scared or stressed), isn’t afraid to come out any time of the day or night right up to the glass and watch you, likes being handled; I often let him come to me by holding my hand out, not forcing him, and has never skipped a meal, in fact he eats seconds even in the winter months when male pythons often fast.

This is Boe the rabbit. He likes running around, jumping, munching, sleeping and having his chin and tummy rubbed. I like how simple pleasure can be found by making a rabbit happy, which probably makes me sound weird, but I just can’t understand what pleasure some hideous people get from abusing animals.

Some of the blogs I read

These blogs are in no particular order, and the descriptions are not comprehensive. But here are some of the blogs I like to read when I find the time to get on WordPress, so please check them out.

The logo of the blogging software WordPress. D...

Not Your Average Geek: Definitely far from average is my friend Rooney who I’ve known for years and who thankfully hasn’t changed a bit. He’s the king of all geeks and can probably quote every sentence from anything sci-fi or tech related. His comments on everyday life and the frustration of things like moving house, bin men and car repairs can’t help but make your day.

Geminibe: One of my favourite people, this girl is unstoppable, when she’s not blogging she’s running around, working and charming the socks off everyone she meets.

The Great Unrest: A friend of mine contributes to this blog, which you should read if you want to keep up to date with the world.

Marcello: Long-term blog buddy, and probably the most versatile blogger I know, writing about anything from music, movies, random thoughts, to quirky facts, and events both past and present.

Other blogs I enjoy, all of which use a personal perspective to explore life, the universe and everything:

AIS JournalBraonthreeRaywoman, Ninaheika.

Germguy: Fascinating even if you aren’t a scientist or microbiologist, an educational and informative blog about things even the eye can’t see.

Best blogs I’ve recently come upon:

But I’m beautiful: Every post is of interest however vast the topics, offering the perfect mix of quirky comments and thoughtful observations on life, the universe and everything. This blog has a nice personal feel that makes it addictive.

Science 3000, Exploration of Concepts: An interesting combination of science, ethics and philosophy, writing of things from angles you may not even have thought of.

The New World: Collaborative and excellent writing by Rooney and Steve.

Tyranny of Tradition: Always amusing, from music and movies to history and news. One particularly enlightening post is titled ‘Researchers Say Hitting Yourself In The Face With A Hammer Could Potentially Be Dangerous

Tsactuo: Honest and insightful observations on life and human nature, proving that although life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns it can have whatever meaning we apply to it.

Flick Freak Diaries: Excellent movie reviews, and definitely the blog to go to if you’re wondering what film you should watch or avoid.

Jon Water: This blog talks about life from the perspective of organic living, health and the power of mind over matter. An interesting take on being active in life, and certainly an active read.

JFD Photography: My dear friend Jessica, who went to college with me a few years back. She takes excellent photographs of anything she aims a camera at, and looks lovely in every picture taken of her. Her special interest is in nature and wildlife, so prepare for lush landscapes and curious creatures.

Bohemia Speaks: Beautiful writing, cannot recommend this enough.

Mark: Intelligent opinion and fact based posts about ethical issues such as vegetarianism, the world and everything.

The rising cost of Smoking

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestria...

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestrian crossing in the Orchard Road area in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The price of cigarettes is set to rise again, and while I support anti-smoking and awareness campaigns, I remain dubious that the prices will really put that many people off. This has been tried before and an addiction is an addiction whatever the price. Smokers already accumulate huge annual spending on their habit, yet this is not usually a sole reason for quitting, and one must want to quit to have the endurance to do so successfully.

My main concern is that smoking has been largely associated with poverty or low-income areas, where countless studies have shown that there are higher rates of smoking and obesity, and has been attributed to the fact junk food is generally cheaper than healthy foods, and a lack of sufficient education/awareness surrounding smoking and nutrition. This is despite research showing there are more smoking support facilities in lower-income areas, perhaps more to suit demand than strategically placed as a preventative measure. Will getting these people to spend more really help them? Would they be discouraged from smoking? Or merely encouraged to spend more on their addiction, and less on something more beneficial such as a decent meal.

Something I feel would have been more beneficial than hiking up the prices is the idea of having more graphic images on the packets. The proposed images include that of a smoker’s corpse in the morgue, which is of course extreme and controversial, hence this idea was rejected by the court as a violation of the consumer’s rights. But I happen to think that it is a consumer’s rights to know and see fully the reality of what they are buying into, doing to themselves, and what effect it will undoubtedly (not “maybe”) have on their body, it is not a lucky dip with which smoker doesn’t develop cancer, because regardless of cancer, all smokers will detriment and reduce their health and breathing capacity significantly. And rather than the packets saying “Smoking can kill you”, a more accurate summary would be “Smoking will kill you, sooner or later*” with the small-print “*Unless you get hit by a bus first”.

I’m also in full support of the idea discussed a while back in a BMJ article that postmortem/autopsy certificates should have a cause of death label ‘Smoking’, rather than just merely ‘lung cancer’ or similar, as some people develop these with no self-induced cause. It is already undeniable that smoking is the top cause of preventable death. So I leave you with that theme: prevention.

Smoking is preventable, as is the burden it has on the NHS, and the unavoidable health detriments it has on every smoker. Prevention is always better than cure, so I am not against the rising prices, but I am dubious as to its effectiveness on the socioeconomic groups they should be helping the most.