Archives for: "September 2007"

Organ donation by default

Saw this pop up on New Scientist...

Should doctors assume that people are happy to donate their organs unless they make the effort to opt out?

That's the scenario being considered in the UK, as a means of reducing the widening gap between supply and demand for donated organs. At the moment, a dead person's organs cannot be taken unless they registered themselves in life as a donor.

"Around 8000 people in the UK need an organ transplant [each year], but only 3000 transplants are carried out," said UK health minister Alan Johnson on 20 September, announcing a reappraisal of "presumed consent" by the government.

The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomes the rethink. "We believe that a system of presumed consent, with safeguards, will help to increase the number of donors available," says Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the BMA.

The answer, obviously, is yes. The dead don't need their kidneys, or hearts or anything else, the living should take what they need.

Sadly every time this does make the rounds, it's always the same, some right-wing, usually religious organisations have a whinge about it and the plans are shelved. This time let's shelve the religious nuts and save some people's lives.

I'd also however, like to see the opt-out reversible if it will save someone's life, somebody shouldn't be dying in a bed opposite a corpse who thought that they need their lungs in the afterlife.

Chris Pirillo you're an ass

This guy has turned from a fairly balanced geek into an absolutely opinionated ass. In his latest blog entry he installed the beta version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and then complains because it hosed his machine, it booted to a black screen - which strangely I've heard no other reports of. What do you think the beta means Chris?

He's been ranting for months about Windows Vista failing in the market, why? All because he had some issues when he first got it - his printer didn't have drivers. My 10 year old Deskjet works fine! May be you should shop around for printers that have solid driver support for multiple platforms.

Some of his readers/viewers point out to him the stupidity of his ways, and counter the XP/Apple fanboyism creeping into his stuff.

G.J.Edwards wrote about his experience with Windows Vista:

I have absolutely no idea what all you people are talking about. In April this year I bought a relatively inexpensive Compaq laptop pre-loaded with Vista Home Premium, I THINK IT IS BRILLIANT, everything works very well, the built in security features gives me a lot of confidence and the step-by-step operating instructions are clear and well thought out.
The updates download automatically without any problems and I have downloaded numerous programmes e.g. open office and Picasa without any trouble.
I think that "the average PC user" like myself just want something that works, whereas the Anoraks want to find problems so they can write about it.

Then Gordon points out about warning Pirillo about installing beta software on a production machine (common sense).

Chris, I watched you install that BETA version of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista on your Ustream.tv web site live.

I questioned your actions in live chat about installing beta software on a production Windows Vista computer at that time, yet you ignored my comment in live chat.

You lost credibility, Chris, since beta software was not meant for use on a stable production Windows Vista machine.

I also have no doubts what-so-ever that Chris provided no useful feedback to Microsoft about this, people like this shouldn't be allowed pre-release copies of Microsoft software, because obviously they don't get it, nor the point of a beta program.

I think Windows is in huge huge huge trouble.

Pirillo, get real, 90% market share, that's huge huge huge trouble? Windows Vista is the best operating system to date, and tens of millions of people agree.

Stalin was opposed to world revolution

So I was browsing the politics forum and came across somebody who said the following:

Yes, I have [heard of socialism in one country], but I don't buy it. I was reading a book which was written by Edvard Radzinsky on Stalin. His book discusses these comments and many other issues. His book was based on recently released Soviet Archives. Archives, which have not been known until years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My opinion is that Stalin was a genuine marxist who sought global revolution. A mass murderer, who had his own reasons for his purges, but was geared towards a world proletariat revolution.

How wrong can you be. Stalin in favour of world revolution? Hang on, the same man who did coin socialism in one country, the same man who did shut down the International, the same man who gutted the Communist Party in the purges of Marxists and internationalists, the same man who put down revolutions in Eastern Europe when the Red Army liberated them, and installed Stalinist regimes, for the sole purpose of keeping the working class down, because he knew that such ideas would spread to the USSR and would threaten the bureaucracy.

Yes that sounds a lot like a man in favour of world revolution.

Got an awkward question for a Democrat? Eat 50000 volts

This is just sick, watching this made my blood boil. Tasering some guy for asking John Kerry some awkward questions. The guy half way through his question had his microphone cut, he was then grabbed from behind by the goon squad.

What's worse is nobody in the audience defended him from those "police officers". Somebody in the audience would of been well within their rights to point a gun at those things and tell them to let him go.

This has come up several times at the US Supreme Court. "Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary." from the case of Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306.

Ofcom green lights BBC HD

Ofcom has said the BBC launching an HD channel would not cause a "significant" negative effect on commercial stations and green lighted the move to launch BBC HD on Freeview.

However due to lack of space on the radio spectrum it will only be for four hours a day, between 02:00 and 06:00. Something that won't change until we stop wasting bandwidth on analogue transmissions, which is planned nationwide for 2012, although some more advanced, modern and developed regions of the country will be doing it in 2008 and 2009.

I say we turn off analogue NOW. Scrap all these rubbish channels like QVC, Bid TV and Price Drop TV, just by taking those offline we'd have enough bandwidth for one HD channel running all day long. Then cut back on the amount of +1 channels which everybody is wasting bandwidth on, and kick Murdoch's crap off Freeview too.

Come on Ofcom stop pussy footing around and free up the spectrum, and don't think about giving it to mobile phone companies if they're only going to waste it on low-speed data services.

Joined the ranks of Facebook

OK so the pressure has been building for a while for me to join one of these social-network things.

Catherine said I should join MySpace, which I did, but being owned by King Murdoch and having no improvements made to it in years, and the bad UI, and that stupid astrology nonsense being forced down your throat with no way to turn it off, I just never bothered doing anything with it.

After being destroyed from the first Facebook I've re-created myself on the new Facebook, all well and good much easier to use than MySpace, and much less annoying.

However, I have two key faults with it.

1) The United Kingdom is not listed on the countries list, not even Great Britain. What the hell? The name of the country I live in is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

2) The options for political views are a JOKE. We've got:

Very liberal.
Liberal.
Moderate.
Conservative.
Very conservative.
Libertarian.

What is this some united right-wing front organisation? They might be able to get away with this sort of thing in the United States where everybody's politics are essentually the same mass-produced mass-marketed nonsense, but I'm in Europe, we have a broad spectrum of political views here.

I propose they should add:

Socialist.
Communist.
Anarchist.
Nationalist.
Fascist.

In that order of priority, yes it would be nice to let the BNP goons use nationalist and fascist.

There's already one group on there with over 5100 members demanding that socialist be added to the list, you can see that here.

On a lesser note, Jedi isn't listed under religions, surely if something is good enough to be on the 2001 UK census it should be on their list of religions.

Key improvements in Windows Live Photo Gallery

As many of you will know one of the things that bugged me about Windows Vista was the photo import tool was a regression compared to Windows XP. You could only import all the photos from a connected digital camera, you couldn't select the images to import.

However with Windows Live Photo Gallery (currently in beta), they've changed that by adding a way to not only select which photos to import but also group them, allowing you to quickly select a mass of images that all have the same date for example.

Another key improvement in my opinion is the ability to resize images in batches, Windows Vista has a photo resize tool, but the only way I could find to launch it was to use the Send to e-mail feature, now you'll be able to right-click on images and select resize.

On top of those there's also an ability to stitch images together, lots of new ways to tweak images and upload to Windows Live Spaces. You can install Windows Live Photo Gallery beta by using the new Windows Live Installer. It is however still in beta, and needs a good few months to polish it up a bit and match the stability of the existing Photo Gallery in Windows Vista.

Thatcher back at Number 10

Brown and Thatcher

Mr Brown this is a highly inappropriate time to be inviting Thatcher around for a friendly chit chat. There's something very wrong with this Labour government.

An Autumn of Discontent is exactly what we need.

Remembering the 11th of September

Surely, this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes. My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, titular commanders in chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself Commander of the Navy, and Mr. Mendoza, the despicable general who only yesterday pledged his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has appointed himself Chief of the Carabineros. Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign!

Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seeds which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever. They have force and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested by neither crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector who today are hoping, with foreign assistance, to re-conquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address you, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition that was supported by professional associations, classist associations that also defended the interests of capitalist society.

I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours -- in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to act.

They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely, Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to his country.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, great avenues will again be opened, through which will pass the free man, to construct a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.

Salvador Allende,
11 September 1973.

US prison population 55% higher than USSR under Stalin

The US prison population now stands at around 2.3 million. This is around 800,000 higher than the PRC with around 1.5 million (with a total population of 1.3 billion) and around 55% higher than the number of prisoners in the USSR under Stalin, which peaked at 1,500,524 in January 1941.

The level of crime and the levels of inequality in a society go hand in hand, statistically you are more likely to commit crime the more oppressed you are*. These numbers should be a stark reminder of how polarised the United States is becoming.

Throwing more and more people in jail isn't a long term solution, tackling the causes of crime, such as crippling poverty rampant in many inner city areas in the US and shrinking the gap between rich and poor is. Many British politicians too, especially the Conservative Party should take note.

Americans should ask questions, why does a country with 4% of the world's population have 25% of the world's prison population?

Last year on the 1st of May millions of workers went out on strike, the actions of these people is the example all American workers should follow because only through their combined action can these problems be tackled. They can't be touched by voting in a different pro-business party, only by grass roots action with trade unions and a formation of a labour party upon them; with a radical program of social reforms, nationalisation and re-distribution of wealth can these issues be tackled.

*Unfortunately the crimes the capitalists (and Lord Brown) commit screwing the workers with pay cuts and the theft of thousands and tens of thousands of pounds per year per worker in unpaid wages isn't recognised yet as being a crime, just good business.

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