“Go Fuck Your Face Abbot”…Derrida.
(Image found on twitter via @TheMichaelMoran)
On the 30th August 2011 MEPs voted on a budget amendment which will see €2 million worth of funds being directed towards research on seeing wether homeopathy works on animals; essentially they are spending a hell of a lot of money on finding out wether magic beans work on other species’. Clearly I’m skeptical of homeopathy and consider the case entirely closed due to the amount of research already held on the concept, however the EU justify such research by stating, in the Agriculture and Rural Affairs budget amendment document, that “Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the EU and worldwide… that is why research on alternative methods has to be moved forward…” This sort of reads to me that the EU have given up on legitimate science, if my painkillers start losing their effectiveness I do not suddenly decide I need to cast a “good health” spell, yet this is how the EU seems to want to conduct itself with this scientific issue of relatively high importance.
Let us assume then that researching the use of homeopathy on animals is a legitimate scientific pursuit, is €2,000,000 a reasonable budget for such research? Of course that depends entirely on the size, scope and type of study being conducted, for that amount of money you’d expect quite a comprehensive study to be undertaken. However it seems that isn’t going to be the case with this study, the budget document states that: “the pilot project should involve the collection of data as to what research projects in the field of homeopathy and phytotherapy have already been set up by the various Member States’ universities and higher education institutions, and what findings they have made.” So basically the EU are spending all that money on a very expensive literature review, not exactly a brilliant use of taxpayers’ money. Respected scientist Dr. Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science, states that:
€2 million seems like an inexplicably large amount of money for someone to review what work has been done in this field. Large definitive randomised trials of pills are routinely done for a fraction of that cost. Something may be very amiss here.” (L)
Now to end this post with some sort of “balance”. The Soil Association, who support the use of homeopathic remedies on animals, argue that homeopathy has been shown to be effective in keeping animals healthy and that increasing its usage would cut the growing use of antibiotics on animals, they therefore actively encourage farmers to use homeopathic treatments as it is an effective alternative.
They are of course wrong.
It has been reported in various national newspapers today that as a part of cutback plans the BBC is planning on decimating arguably one of its best channels, BBC 4. I first became aware of the story last night via the medium of twitter as many of the users I follow were using the hashtags #bbc4 and #savebbc4. I do not usually jump onto a hastag bandwagon all that often myself, I may retweet a few messages I agree with but more often than not I’m a passive observer, however the BBC 4 story did provoke an original tweet from me which went as follows:
#BBC4 is perhaps the best justification for the license fee, it produces many programmes which wouldn’t otherwise be made. #savebbc4 (link)
Now I know the TV license fee is for some a contentious issue but I stand by what I tweeted, BBC 4 represents in my mind the main purpose of having a license fee, slowly destroying BBC4 by watering its content down is akin to the BBC drowning itself to death. The channel both produces and broadcasts a REAL alternative to the mainstream. It airs a variety of show types including drama, documentaries, music, international film, comedy and current affairs, however its raison d’être is its broadcasting of art, history and science documentaries, vintage drama and daring comedy; even Richard Little John from the Daily Mail, often a staunch critic of the BBC ,has stated that the channel “embodies the best of corporation’s public service traditions”.
My previous analogy of the BBC drowning itself to death if it were to water down BBC 4, while providing a useful one, does not perhaps give the whole picture, the problem for the BBC is that if it cuts too much of its mainstream output the public will question why they have to pay the license fee if they don’t watch the content; but alternatively cut too much of what would normally be niche market programming and they face stronger calls from the institutions behind the Daily Mail and The Sun newspaper titles who have a vested interest in getting rid of a force they consider to have an unfair economic advantage. It is then a very hard call that the BBC are having to make who are being forced into saving money in light of austerity measures by the current Conservative led coalition government. Despite being in this hard position I would like to implore them not to cut back on BBC 4, a channel which as it currently stands doesn’t even run 24 hours a day yet often provides the best programming the BBC has to offer.
Wether or not you agree with the license fee it is here to stay for a few years yet, and while it with us the BBC should be concentrating on producing programming which the rest of the market would otherwise neglect, BBC 4 should not be affected at all by the cuts that it is being forced to make, if anything the BBC should invest more into it to demonstrate why its place in the UK media landscape is needed.
If you agree that BBC 4 needs to be saved do feel free to sign up to the following petition: http://savebbcfour.com/
(Also check out this great satirical news story on the issue: BBC to consider cutting channel that requires viewers to pay attention
Well I went back to universery today (Tuesday) for the start of my classes, On Tuesdays I have a double whammy of lectures, applied marketing stategy in the morning and political communication in the afternoon. As always with marketing, the lecture was full of buzzwords which I personally get amusement from; I may very well make up a bingo card for next week.(Buzzword Bingo iPhone app) The class appeard to be nothing out of the ordinary, when a surreal moment occured. In the second half we had a change of lecturer, and we ended up watching a video of man juggling, which seemed to last forever but it was infact more like 5 mins. This, he explained, was a metaphor for marketing, the music in the video was marketing strategy and the balls were the four p’s of marketing (product, place, promotion, price)
The second lecture, on political communication was an introduction lecture discussing the media’s role in providing political information (or disinformation) and the issues that arrise, such as it being essential for democracy yet paradoxically potentially harmful. There was a point at which we got asked to say which political orentiation various newspapers biases lie. I answewred the first one, and while I could have answered them all I didn’t, simply because I don’t think it’s my role to answer every question, a point which relates somewhat to this post by Plashing Vole. However when the group got asked for an answer for the Daily Mail I was so close to saying the BNP/National Front, I really wish I did now :P
Somewhere along the line Watergate got mentioned I couldn’t help but laugh due to thinking about the Mitchell and Webb sketch regarding the use of the word “-gate” as a suffix applied to all scandals. Unfortunatly I couldn’t find a clip online to post, only thing I could find was part of the script:
Mr. DAVID MITCHELL (actor, “That Mitchell and Webb Look”): (as character) I was just going to say that my eye was caught by this whole scandal in America.
Mr. ROBERT WEBB (actor, “That Mitchell and Webb Look”): (as character) Oh, the scandal in America. Yeah, that is interesting. That must be the biggest scandal since Watergategate.
Mr. MITCHELL: (as character) Watergategate? Isn’t it just Watergate?
Mr. WEBB: (as character) No. That would mean it was just about water. No, it was a scandal or gate, add the suffix gate, that’s what you do with a scandal, involving the Watergate Hotel. So it was called the Watergate scandal, or Watergategate.
Inevitably in the search for a clip I ended up watching other things on Youtube, of which two of the clips I’m going to share here, the first one is one of my favourite sketches from That Mitchell and Webb look based on The Good Samaritan:
I then somehow stumbled across this video “A Brief History of America” and to be honest I really don’t know what to think about it, it’s seems to me to be both funny; in places and yet shocking.
My Political Views
I am a center-left social libertarian
Left: 1.76, Libertarian: 3.74
Political Spectrum Quiz
The PlashingVole, at his blog www.Plashingvole.blogspot.com, took the above quiz to determine political views, after seeing it there I decided to give it a shot about a week back, and got the above result. I think that sums me up quite nicely, on my facebook page I’m listed as variable, but I consider myself to be more sympathetic towards the left, as depicted on the diagram. So all be it a little online quiz, I was rather pleased with it.