Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sharing data and results with EditGrid could be a biologists dream but will they ever want to share data in the same way as other researchers (e.g. economists or computer geeks)? There is no doubt that sharing scientific data would accelerate the pace of research especially in the slow moving fields like taxonomy and systematics. It is also important to put information into the public domain especially as most of the grants we are funded with come from the tax payer. See "Of lice and birds" for further details of my grand plan.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
biodiversity climate change conservation
Thursday, November 02, 2006
List of questions
1. The interpretation of bioinformation
a. In your view, is the SGM Plus® system, which uses ten STR markers, sufficiently reliable for use in ascertaining the identity of suspects in criminal investigations and/or criminal trials?
No, Balding (1999) suggests using 11 STR markers and the FBI use 13. We should use as many as possible.
2. Sampling powers
a. From whom should the police be able to take fingerprints and DNA samples? At what stages in criminal investigations and for what purposes? Should the police be able to request further information from DNA analysts, such as physical characteristics or ethnic inferences?
The police should only be able to take DNA samples if someone has been cautioned or they have reason to suspect the person was involved in a crime. DNA samples should only be taken once the police have sufficient evidence to charge the person. The police should be able to request further evidence from the DNA analysts from the crime scene DNA samples if they have no other leads.
b. Should police expenditure on bioinformation collection and analysis be given priority over other budgetary demands?
No, police expenditure should be prioritised towards training more police and increasing wages.
c. Do you consider the current criteria for the collection of bioinformation to be proportionate to the aims of preventing, investigating, detecting and prosecuting criminal offences? In particular: is the retention of bioinformation from those who are not convicted of an offence proportionate to the needs of law enforcement?
No. The recent developments that enable police to take and keep DNA samples from anybody they stop, whether they are charged for an offence or not, is totally disproportionate to the aims of providing justice to society. DNA information should not be retained if the person is not convicted.
d. Is it acceptable for bioinformation to be taken from minors and for their DNA profiles to be put on the NDNAD?
No. Only if the minor is charged with an offence should the police be able to take a DNA profile and only if the minor is convicted should they be able to keep the DNA profile.
3. The management of the NDNAD
a. Is it proportionate for bioinformation from i) suspects and ii) volunteers to be kept on forensic databases indefinitely? Should criminal justice and elimination samples also be kept indefinitely? How should the discretion of Chief Constables to remove profiles and samples from the NDNAD be exercised and overseen?
No, it is not proportionate for either I) suspects or ii) volunteers bioinformation be kept indefinitely, nor should criminal justice and elimination samples be kept indefinitely. Volunteers and unconvicted suspects should be asked whether they want the bioinformation removed from the database after the case has been closed.
b. Is the ethical oversight of the NDNAD adequate? What, if any, research on NDNAD profiles or samples should be permitted? Who should be involved in the oversight of such databases and granting permission to use forensic DNA profiles or samples for research?
No, the ethical oversight does not seem to take into account the human rights of the person. The information is being treated as data without consideration to whom the bioinformation belongs to. A committee that includes representatives from the police, from human right organisations and ethical organisations should determine whether certain research should be permitted on the DNA profiles.
c. Who should have access to information on the NDNAD and IDENT1 databases and how should bioinformation be protected from unauthorised uses and users? Should forensic databases ever be made available for non-criminal investigations, such as parental searches, or the identification of missing or deceased persons?
Police detectives should have access to the information on the NDNAD and this information should be used for the identification of missing or deceased persons but only used for parental searches if it is a criminal investigation. Parental DNA tests in non-criminal investigations could be carried out by companies.
d. What issues are raised by the transfer of bioinformation between agencies and countries? How should such transfers be facilitated and what safeguards should be in place for the storage and use of transferred data?
The British government should be able to ensure that the bioinformation is not being kept by the foreign government, if the person is not convicted for the offence and data should only be shared with foreign governments if the person is a suspect in a criminal case.
4. Ethical issues
a. Is the use of DNA profiles in ‘familial searching’ inquiries proportionate to the needs of criminal investigations? Do you consider the use of familial searching may be an unwarranted invasion of family privacy?
No, ‘familial searching’ is an unnecessary invasion of family privacy.
b. Certain groups, such as ethnic minorities and young males, are disproportionately represented on forensic databases. Is this potential for bias within these databases acceptable?
No, this bias can put certain groups or minorities under greater suspicion.
c. Is it acceptable that volunteers (such as victims, witnesses, mass screen volunteers) also have their profiles retained on the NDNAD? Should consent be irrevocable for individuals who agree initially to the retention of samples voluntarily given to the police? Are the provisions for obtaining consent appropriate? Should volunteers be able to withdraw their consent at a later stage?
No, any volunteer should have an automatic right to withdraw their bioinformation from the database if unconvicted when the case closes. Keeping this type of data, increases the chance of ‘innocent’ matches and automatically increases the risk of suspicion against someone who was in the vicinity of a crime scene even if they were there several days before the crime.
d. Would the collection of DNA from everyone at birth be more equitable than collecting samples from only those who come into contact with the criminal justice system? Would the establishment of such a population-wide forensic database be proportionate to the needs of law enforcement? What are the arguments for and against an extension of the database?
Yes, the collection of DNA of everyone at birth would be more equitable, but it would NOT be proportionate to the needs of law enforcement. There are in my view absolutely no arguments for the extension of the database. Civil liberties and human rights are central to the democratic process.
5. The evidential value of bioinformation
a. What should be done to ensure that police, legal professionals, witnesses and jury members have sufficient understanding of any forensic bioinformation relevant to their participation in the criminal justice system?
Education must be improved so that all strands of society have a better understanding of forensic bioinformation. Courses on DNA forensics and the necessary statistical tests used should be provided to police, legal professionals, witnesses and jury members so that they can make informed decisions in a court of law.
b. How much other evidence should be required before a defendant can be convicted in a case with a declared DNA match? Should a DNA match ever be taken to be sufficient to prove guilt in the absence of other evidence?
A DNA match should never be taken alone as evidence of guilt. Proof that the person was present at the time of the crime and motive for the crime should be prerequisites.
6. Other issues
a. Are there any other issues, within our terms of reference, which we should consider?
Citizens should be able to know at any one time, the bioinformation that is being kept on them and the reason why this bioinformation is being kept.
freedom DNA bioethics forensic liberty ID
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
2 Conference pears weighing 480g provided 300mL of juice: 0.62mL/g at a price of £2.40/L
The juice was sweet, creamy but not powdery and gave an olive green colour.
2 Comice pears weighing 510g provided 375mL of juice: 0.73mL/g at a price of £2.36/L
The juice was thick with small bits, pulpy, sweet and a muddy brown colour.
2 Williams pears weighing 285g provided 125mL of juice: 0.43mL/g at a price of £3.47/L
Very thick juice almost like a smoothy, strong pear flavor with a creamy brown colour.
I would suggest using Comice pears for juice as they provided the most juuice per gram although Conference pears are probably just as good as they are usually a bit cheaper so the price per mL is very similar.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Virgin mobile, my mobile carrier charged me the following:
21:52:29 Accessing other sites £0.03
21:52:29 Accessing other sites £0.04
I think these two separate charges are for the initial connection to EQO and then the actual call.
The call didn't last but here are the Skype details:
21:55 SkypeOut to my mobile for 00:00:45
21:55 Skypeout to Mexico city landline 00:00:36
With a cost of £0.1548
The total cost to phone a Mexico city landline from my mobile using EQO and Skype for 36 seconds was 22p, calling using my Virgin carrier would have cost 80p.
EQO Skype mobile Motorola L6
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Installation was not to bad but the pricing system is far more complex. I phone France for 1 min and these are the pricing details:
Virgin charged me twice for data transfer
21-Sep-06 10:41:28 Accessing other sites £0.03
21-Sep-06 10:41:28 Accessing other sites £0.07
And Skype charged me twice:
21/09/2006 10:42 My mobile 00:01:02 duration
21/09/2006 10:42 France, Landline 00:00:47 duration
This cost me €0.22=£0.14
TOTAL COST of £0.24
This is mainly the cost of the SkypeOut from my computer to my mobile for the initial connection (£0.166 including VAT). I've actually been charged a bit less.
Calling France would normally cost me £0.40 per minute with Virgin.
EQO seems a bit cheaper. Next time I call, I will spend a bit more time on the line and I will report back to you. I think that if Skype and EQO got together to give more appropriate information about pricing, they might get a few more people interested.
mobile EQO Skype motorola L6
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The rest is priced as follows:
- For an incoming call to your EQO wireless Skype phone from a Skype buddy there will be no additional charges.
- For an outgoing call to your Skype buddies there will be no additional charges.
- For an outgoing call to a landline or cell phone you will be charged the appropriate Skypeout rates on top of the Skype out rates for the incoming call.
So it would cost me a bit more than 26p to make a 1 min phone call to a landline in Mexico and an extra 6p per additional minute. Whereas phoning Mexico without using EQO and SkypeOut would c ost me 80p per min. I think it could be worth it. I will see whether I can install EQO on my Motorola L6.
EQO Skype mobile motorola L6
Monday, September 18, 2006
Lets hope that Conservation International manages to protect the area before these very localised species disappear.
Technorati Tags: diversity "new species" discovery wildlife
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I find this BBC news article particularly worrying but unlike the scientists who carried out this research, I don't think that subsidies for fruit and veg are going to change anything. Rather, the companies which produce foods that cause obesity or have any known effects on human health should be heavily taxed and the money directed towards the hospitals and sport centers.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
In an effort to find out whether it was possible to use a bluetooth enabled mobile as a headset for Skype, I have come across some interesting software.
The clever EQO software which you need to install on your PC and your phone enables you to phone from anywhere to anywhere for SkypeOut prices. If I understand correctly, when you make a call to a Mexican landline for example, EQO software on your mobile contacts your computer via some EQO server, for this you will be charged by your mobile carrier for data transfer, then EQO on your PC uses Skype to SkypeOut to the Mexican landline and then SkypeOut to your mobile so essentially it will cost you 2p + carrier data transfer cost to phone Mexico from your mobile.
But really what I am looking for is a way to have something similar to BT fusion, i.e. a set up that would enable me to call for Skype prices when I am at home using my mobile so that I don't need to use a headset and don't need to be in front of the PC.
Now EpyxMobile is close enough to what I wanted as you can see from this Skype article for mobiles. Unfortunately, I have been unable to download the free software for the time being so have been unable to test it. Sorry!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
By evaluating the role of a species in an ecosystem such as its position within the network of species in the community/ecosystem and thus the stability that it provides to the community, we could evaluate the importance of that species. The loss of some species on the periphery of the food web might have a much lower impact than central species that are interconnected with large numbers of other species. This still makes it bloody hard to put a £ value on a species but at least they species could be ranked in order of importance within the ecosystem. Then again maybe not?
I think it is great that someone in the government, i.e. Margaret Beckett, is standing up to the US and lets hope that we continue to distance ourselves from the terrible US foreign policy. I think that we should publicly deny the US request for 2 further stopovers at Prestwick in the weeks to come. This would demonstrate that we are not their lap dog and that we do not support their foreign policy. Also, we would not be seen as hypocrites, helping Israel bomb Lebanon while sending humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Only 22% of Brits believe Israel has reacted proportionately to the kidnapping of soldiers..
64% of Canadians back Israel's unjuste war in Lebanon.
43% of web opinion think Israel's war on Lebanon is unjustified.
28% of British voters back Palestinians versus 14% supporting Israel
Israelis still overwhelmingly back the war, with 90 percent wanting it to go on until Hizbollah is driven from southern Lebanon
59% of Europeans interviewed describe Israel as the top threat to world peace ahead of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran.
69% of Lebanese and 98% of Egyptians are against the United States policies and the country as a whole.
20 out of 23 countries think that Europe would do a better job than the US in world affairs.
66% of a French opinin poll was against the invasion of Iraq before the war started.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Unlike the "Vase with twelve sunflowers" by Van Gogh which is worth over $39,921,750, it is difficult to put a price on a species or biodiversity. Why is it easier to put a price on a painting than on the sunflower species, Helianthus annuus? I think that is only once we start releasing the information that naturalists, ecologist and systematists have gathered on the millions of species which we know about, that we will begin to be able to put a value to the diversity of life on this planet and then at last we will be able to protect the planet's biodiversity.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I have started to wonder whether as a first time buyer, I might be better off waiting until prices stabilise or come down but before leaving the game, I feel it is my duty to give a bit of guidance to first-time buyers. So come back to this site soon as I will be giving you the prices at which properties were put on the market, the price at which it sold and the schedule for a number of properties in Glasgow. Hopefully, this will be usefull for determining what offer to put on a property when it is on the market at offers over.
Friday, April 28, 2006
I'm getting really worried that the government is seriously thinking about nuclear power. They are even suggesting that to get rid of nuclear waste, they bribe communities to bury the waste under their houses. The waste will only be safe after more than 100 years. The government is so thoughtful. They only think of the immediate future: the next election. Who cares about the next generation?
We could be taking a central role in the development of clean, renewable sources of energy and lead other countries by example but Tony Bliar prefers to follow the gringo way, i.e. lets pollute the planet so that the next generation can't survive on it.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I am considering changing so have compiled price comparisons for Skype, VOIPcheap and Gizmo for countries I call on a regular basis.
* Rates mentioned are per minute, and calls are rounded up to next minute.
your billing address is in the EU, you will be charged 15% VAT when you buy Skype Credit.
However, the calls will be shown on your call list and your account will be credited exclusive of VAT.
At the moment it is not really worth me changing completely, but I will use Gizmo when phoning Mexico city mobiles. That is the advantage of VOIP software, is that you can so easily switch from one company to another for calling different countries.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Still, I have been looking for products that are energy efficient and water saving and here goes (CAREFULL not all products on the sites are necessarily energy saving):
Household equipment for saving water and energy-saving light bulbs
Energy saving light bulbs
Garden compost and rainwater collection
Range of water-saving taps, shower heads and toilets flushes
Tap inserts to reduce flow
Everything from Eco Kettles to water-saving flush
Lots of energy saving gadgets:
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I have written to a couple of peers about the 6th of March ID card bill that is going through the House of Lords. I am glad to see that I am not the only one. Well done CuriousHamster. I hope that this issue picks up a bit of momentum in the blogosphere before it is too late. I think it is imperative that the House of Lords stand by their re-amendments. I really hope they do.
See how big Blair's nose gets when you pull it!!!
Technorati Tags: ID cards, freedom, terrorism
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
These cards seriously threaten my freedom! Join me and say no to ID cards.
Technorati Tags: freedom, ID cards, trust, NIR
Monday, February 27, 2006
I read a recent article in the Times suggesting the diversity of hair colour arose some 10,000 years ago and that blonde hair was a selective advantage for women. I have gone to the original scientific publication (Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 27, Issue 2, Pages 85-168, March 2006) because I was intrigued at how they measured that this trait arose prior to 10,000 years ago. Essentially, it seems that sexual selection must have played a role in Europe as humans moved further north 35,000 years ago. The women became more reliant on the men for food and men having to hunt further away from home were more likely to die probably resulting in a higher proportion of females competing for the males attention, thus colourful hair being an advantageous attention-seeking trait.
It turns out that the molecular data gives a rather different date for the origin of the hair colour: "Harding et al. (2000) have investigated this evolutionary scenario and found that the time to the most recent common ancestral hair color would be about a million years, with the redhead alleles alone being approximately 80,000 years old. Templeton (2002) has come to a similar conclusion: If the cause were relaxation of selection, the current level of hair-color diversity would have taken 850,000 years to develop."
The more rapid evolution suggested by the anthropologist Frost is a result of positive selection (rather than relaxation of selection being the cause for polymorphism in hair colour).
Performancing have also added functionality for Technorati Tags making it really easy to add tags to your blog.
Technorati Tags: internet, blogspot, blogging
Friday, February 17, 2006
Blog posting from Gmail
I am also trying to figure out a way that I can send the emails or post the blogs at a specific time. At the moment I am usiing iCal on my iMAc to send an email automatically to my blog, but this does not allow me to attach hyperlinks or pictures. Any advice or help is very welcome
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Other technologies that they have been slow to embrace, are the web and oline publishing. The web provides an ideal working platform for a field like taxonmy as it enables the dessimination of work across the world instantaneously. Rather than needed to travel across the world to search through publications and specimens draws, the web and online publishing could facilitate the sharing of information.
I think this is a topic that will be blogged sporadically as it is dear to my heart.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Being a postdoc can be bloody hard. Not knwoing what will be next and
whether there will even be a next job is probably the most depressing
thing. Funding is never easily obtained even though postdocs are the
backbone of research these days. It seems that the number of PhDs
continues to increase, whereas the faculty positions for us to go into
have not. link
I think that a revolution in the way academia is run is desperatly needed.
First, I would suggest that some security is provided to postdocs, by
that I mean a salary provided by the government so that postdocs can
continue working until they are awarded a grant or fellowship. This
would save us from claiming unemployment and at the same time give us
the financial support we need to continue our work.
Secondly, the countries like France that force postdocs to go abroad
should provide garanties for reentries to their homeland link
Thirdly, most importantly we need to be listened to. For that I
suggest that we form a postdoc union so that we can collectively
bargain for issues specific to postdocs. The postdocs at the
University of Connecticut Health Center have already gained status as
both employees and trainees as well as improved pay and benefits link
If a union of european postdocs (Europan Postdoctoral Association)
could be built, we might improve our plight.
I am really interested in knowing of anybody you feels the same way
and anybody you knows about setting up such a union.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
I think the cartoons that have been recently published of the prophet Mohammed are just trying to improve the way we understand one anothers culture and I hope that the people that have seen these cartoons as disrespectfull can attempt to see the funny side of some of the cartoons.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Well this is a good definition:
but I prefer the following poem that explains it well:
"Each thought, each word and each deed
has to be accounted and compensated for in Nature.
Every cause has an effect and every action brings about a reaction.
Uproot the cause and the effect disappears.
This has been done by the Masters
who have transcended these laws..."
- Sant Kirpal Singh
I think the idea of having a balance in Nature and everything we do,
is central to much of the research life scientist do. They try to
understand why species are kept in check and how ecosystems stay
stable. Critically, in this time of change where humans have had and
are still having a huge impact on the environment, life scientist are
trying to understand how the balance in Nature could return and
stabilise before we go extinct. "Every action brings about a
reaction". We know that we are the cause of climate change but for its
effect to disappear we really need to start changing our behaviour.