jimi

May 082014
 
duck

Do you like ducks?

Well the answer to that one for most people is yes! In fact kids love them, nothing better than a lovely sunny day when the whole family head toward the park or lake to feed our feathered friends, and of course for most people the first port of call is the bread shop where we purchase a loaf of bread and hand it out EQUALLY (if you have children you will understand the caps) to the children to feed to the ducks, swans or geese.

Feeding the Ducks 300x300 Feeding bread to wildlife can be fatal

All good intentions mixed along with fun, but are you aware you may be doing serious harm to these birds? Let me explain, bread products are not nutritionally complete diets for wildlife, and although as a treat you may think it’s fine, the problem is, so many visitors feeding the wildlife frequently equates to the birds getting fed an awful lot of bread. Birds fill up on the bread and no longer have the hunger to forage on what nature intended such as insects, aquatic plants and fish. This causes debilitating nutritional deficiencies which in turn lead to deformities like “Angel Wing” or “Crooked Wing”. (note also, Mouldy bread can also cause a disease known as aspergillosis, a fatal lung affection that can eradicate entire wildfowl flocks).

Have you ever noticed in urban parks that some of the birds look like they have been in some form of disagreement with their companions whereby the feathers on their wings look out of place? This is angel wing, where in fact the wing has become distorted through diet, it sometimes means the bird cannot fly to find natural food and therefore makes it more dependable on hand out food, and if business is not so good they may even die.

There are also other reasons why it can be bad to feed ducks bread of any kind on a regular basis. Firstly, when the birds are tiny ducklings or goslings they must receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Whilst the problem with immature and adult birds is fattening up, growing too quickly and developing angel wing, the opposite is the case with juveniles, as the deficiency in vitamin E, can cause malnutrition. Furthermore, ducks in general will always try and seek out the easiest possible food source, so if that means human hand-outs, the ducklings will find it much harder to forage natural foods, thus leaving them at a disadvantage.

Angelwing 1024x681 Feeding bread to wildlife can be fatal


Angel wing

As far as my research takes me, angel wing is not painful and the good news is that it is preventable as most things are with a little knowledge. We can continue to enjoy the day out at the park by using healthy alternatives to feed the birds, here are a few, cracked corn, duck pellets from your pet shop, greens such as turnip, dandelion, basically greens and grains, there are lots more, have a little search on the Internet. Never buy food that is medicated.

So there you go! Keep the bread in the cupboard and head to the pet store or vegetable store and have a great day out, also try to remember that these birds require food around Winter time also.

Images Flickr

Apr 222014
 
space_debris

Terrorism in space

A new report released recently from The Council on Foreign Relations has suggested The United States is increasingly vulnerable to space terrorism. The United States national security operations are becoming more reliant on satellites and other space installations for security, and as the leading player in space has more at stake than other countries.

The report identifies that,

“Threats to U.S. satellites would reduce the country’s ability to attack suspected terrorists with precision-guided munitions and conduct imagery analysis of nuclear weapons programs, and could interrupt non-cash economic activity depending on the severity of the attack and number of satellites disrupted,”

The main players in the game are North Korea, Iran and China, who have stepped up their military space projects and cause a potential threat to target US space capabilities. US satellites could eventually become prime targets for leverage in negotiations, revenge in response to hostile acts or in defence in imminent conflict.

According to the report, the US has larger problems in the space ballpark, space debris. It states that areas of low Earth orbit have hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris, larger than one centimetre which will collide with others therefore multiplying the risk of collision to satellites and craft.

images 2 Space Terrorism

“Significant growth in the quantity or density of space debris could render certain high-demand portions of outer space unnavigable and inutile. Currently, there are no legal or internationally accepted means for removing existing debris.”

China escalated the problem by carrying out an anti-satellite test (ASAT) in 2007, whereby the country targeted its defunct Fengyun-1C weather satellite in low Earth orbit, where half the world’s 1,100 active satellites operate, and increased the amount of space debris by 40%. These pieces of debris, even a fleck of paint can travel at a speed of eighteen thousand miles per hour and cause catastrophic damage to satellites and manned craft.

The US and Russia have an agreement on notification of intercontinental ballistic missile launches, but there are no agreements with China ,which could cause a major international crisis if any of the US space equipment was damaged by Chinese launches or debris.

Because the US is currently at the head of the table in space technology the report recommends that it has a unique obligation to lead international efforts in preventing a dangerous space event, by implementing a variety of technical and political adjustments to maintain its space policy objectives.

Space Junk Space Terrorism

 


Jan 222014
 
the law

The rule of law is a term that has a pretty clear meaning by consensus, in a society we are all bound on equal terms by a common set of rules.

One of the most  honourable and admired  elements of the historical legal tradition is The principle of presumption of innocence , whereby a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, where the  person is brought  to a fair trial with procedural  guarantees, one of the proudest ethical traditions. Since 1649 and the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act, citizens have been protected from false and arbitrary imprisonment and restriction of their personal liberty by the presumption of innocence until proof of their guilt is established by a jury of their peers in an independent court.

 

law3 300x236 Innocent until proven guilty

Nuremberg Trials

Believe it or not, even during the Nuremberg trails, where maybe the worst criminals in history, the Nazi war criminals, the chief prosecutor insisted that they were subjected to a fair trial, condemned if they were proven guilty, and furthermore he added if we ever do the things they are accused of, that we must suffer the same consequences  otherwise the proceedings would be a complete farce.  So presumption of innocence is a very deeply rooted principle.

But in today’s society its totally dismissed even with praise, as an example, and I’m in no way whatsoever condoning any sorts of terrorism, Osama bin laden the prime suspect for  9/11, where commandos  invaded another country apprehended and murdered him and tossed his body in the ocean, without an autopsy, this was praised as a great achievement of the Obama administration, a couple of months later American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi an American citizen a cleric who was accused of not of committing crimes, but the main charge was he was a fluent speaker of English and offering support to terrorist operations was killed, and the general reaction was a celebration of the death of radical cleric. There were few outspoken critics who call for the presumption of innocence.

 

Basically, we have abandoned this principle, not just abandoned, but forcibly rejected it, to the extent of being charged with providing material assistance to a group who are on the terrorists list, the material assistance may be legal advice, not supplying arms or guns, but legal advice to the extent of advising an organisation not to use violent means, this is now criminal under US law. The terrorist list in the United States is accepted as a legitimate category, it is established, there is no justification for being on it, those on it cannot say they shouldn’t be on there, it’s a decision by the executive that if they don’t like you, they will and can prosecute you, no reason required! Even Nelson Mandela was on the list for until recently.

So the rule of law has drastically changed, whereas, that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty stands only as an ancient principle, and laws can be manipulated without reign by Governments who’s only answer when questioned by few, is the fact that these standards are the way forward to ensure against any internal or external threat to the freedom of their citizens.

 law4 1024x682 Innocent until proven guilty

The reason most of this is done is to show others that power is unchallengeable, power is not constrained by law,  it’s a signal to would be challengers to that power, that there are no limits to what can be done , if you discover any illegalities at higher levels of that power  and want to expose them, then  the repercussions are there for all to be seen , it’s a strong shield for all occasions, terrorism can basically be whatever the powers that be, want it to be, to suit any situation of noncompliance or rebellion at any level.  The Terrorism Act 2006 (UK) meant anybody suspected of terrorist related activities by the Home Secretary, but without any kind of trial, can be electronically tagged, monitored, be restricted from making phone calls, using the internet, be banned from certain kinds of work, can be restricted from going certain places, have one’s passport revoked and be under a duty to report to the police.law8 198x300 Innocent until proven guilty

Whistleblowing is now a huge threat to the higher executive and is treated with full force, people who have leaked information of serious wrong doing have themselves been incarcerated, only to watch the very people who broke the law be shielded and move on upwards and onwards to more criminality. This has a clear message that if you expose anything criminal and wrong at a high level, you will be the one who is punished using the dressings of law to do it. It’s those in power using law as a weapon to entrench their power.

Lawlessness has become normalised, even an American president  can act against anyone he wants  with no constraints whatsoever, in total secrecy with no transparency or checks,  to target anyone for violence  or interrogation  or incarceration without any oversight, it has become  the norm, Its removed from political debate,  it is no longer shocking  or controversial,  these policies of lawlessness have become embedded in our time.

 

People who rise to this level of power come to believe that the protection of that power is acting in the public interest.  All efforts by those that see through the smoke and mirrors, and seek any kind of equal footing are identified as out of step with the common good and met with the establishments army of force and violence, from street level up, where free speech and any form of demonstration is quickly kettled in the name of law and order.

law5 300x200 Innocent until proven guilty

The mutations on the basic rules of our society do not grow overnight, they are edited slowly and without headline as a means of protection of a Governments self-empowerment, it has become the most hard practical politics to let go of control to others, to give up trying to dominate the scene, not only at high level, but these mutated laws are being trickled down to street level, the blatant disrespect for ones rights in any form of protest, more often than not, peaceful protest leads to innocents bearing nothing but a sense of righteousness and fair play, being beaten and locked up without any channels of complaint, therefore being guilty before being presumed innocent. The law and basic rules of society, which were once used to serve and protect every citizen, have become a weapon of choice to protect only those who manipulate it for their own preservation.

 

Although seemingly trivial compared to a huge pool of information on the Internet, the growing weapon of choice for the citizen is the use of the smartphone, here and in the U.S. people are recording acts of injustice with their smartphones, at the very least, exhibiting a smartphone or camera instantly commands a pause for reflection on official parties to think about how they undertake their role. The real time recordings can also be used as proof of injustice whenever it takes place, where many officials have been reprimanded for their corruption of the law, but more importantly public awareness, especially through social media is being increased especially within the younger generation. The most important aspect to this viral use of smartphones in such situations is the fact that it is awakening  a previously dormant inquisitiveness  into the law and ones rights.

law1 Innocent until proven guilty

Government’s only functions should be only to protect your rights, and that means to protect you from those who initiate force to remove those rights, but as the oppression increases and people are reduced to having little to lose, then the same laws will breed disrespect from the masses where rebellion inevitably follows.

Video: Demonstration observer at Barton Moss anti fracking being arrested by police. Has this guy broken the law?

Images flickr/utube


Dec 282013
 
sun

Three years of our Sun in four minutes.

NASA launched it’s Solar Dynamics Observatory way back in February 2010 with the aim of monitoring solar activity and the impact it has on space weather. The spacecraft has been monitoring solar activity now for three years out of its intended five years, but has in reserve an extra five years of fuel if NASA wants to extend the mission. The four minute video has been made using two snapshots of the Sun per day by the satellite which orbits the Earth at 6,876mph. (variations in the Suns size are due to the distance change in the satellite as it orbits)

Solar Dynamics Observatory Time lapse video of the sun

Solar Dynamics Observatory

 

 

Images Utube/NASA


Dec 052013
 
colours

Your spiritual colours

 

Colours are thought to affect our personal mind state and the way we see the world around us, here we have a list of colours that may effect our spiritual connection.  

 

Blue is the colour of truth, serenity and harmony, by helping to soothe the mind. Blue is good for cooling, calming, reconstructing and protecting. Blue will help feverish conditions, it will help stop bleeding and it will help with nervous irritations. It is very good for burns. Too much blue could leave you cold, depressed and sorrowful.

 

Purple is also a colour that will connect you with your spiritual self. It is good for mental and nervous problems. It will assist very well with rheumatism and epilepsy. Helps with pain, is used in deep tissue work and helps heal the bones. Too much purple and you don’t tend to live in this world.

 

Red is the colour of energy, vitality and power. It is used for burning out cancer, drying up weeping sores or wounds, etc., it will warm cold areas to reduce pain. Red is a powerful healing agent for healing diseases of the blood and circulation. It will help with depression. If you are a sales person – try wearing something red.

 

ORANGE The mental body in both its logical and conceptual form. It is used to increase immunity, to increase sexual potency, to help in all digestive ailments, chest and kidney diseases. Orange will have a gentle warming affect if used lightly. Orange, like red should not be used for too long. It is not a good colour for nervous people or people easily agitated.

mandala Your spiritual colours

Mandalas have a spiritual and ritual meaning in both Buddhism and Hinduism

PEACH The peach frequency is used for peace, truth, and balance.                     

 

YELLOW Yellow is the colour of intellect and it is used for mental stimulation, it will help you think quicker. It is good for clearing a foggy head. To help cure dermatitis and other skin problems and again it must be used carefully because it is very stimulating and it could cause exhaustion and depression.

 

Green is the colour of healing and traveling back in time. It will balance the emotions and brings about a feeling of calmness. Green is a good general healing colour because it stimulates growth therefore it is good for helping heal broken bones – regrowth of tissue of all kinds.

 

Lavender is the colour of equilibrium, it helps with spiritual healing.

 

VIOLET Violet is the colour of divine freedom. It is used to burn off karma from other lifetimes on all levels.

 

White represents purity. It will purify the body on the highest levels. It is the highest charging field to bring peace and comfort at the highest level.

 

SILVER Silver is the colour of peace and persistence. It is the major purging colour so it is very good for removing unwanted diseases and troubles from the body. It is best for cancer of tissue and blood.

 

GOLD Gold is the strongest colour to help cure all illness. It is so strong that many people are not able to tolerate it, so people have to be conditioned to gold over a period of time. Gold strengthens all fields of the body and spirit.

 

BLACK Black is a colour that is not used very often but it will help bring a patient to a state of grace. It will help them reach the silence and the peace of God. We are all drawn to the colours we need to create the balance we need in our lives.

 

Ref:TheOrder/splellsofmagic.com
Nov 272013
 
facebook

Should social media become a feature in today’s education system?

Like it or not, social media has become a major part of today’s society, and it will inevitably grow into our children’s future society, simply burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the fact won’t do, as widespread expansion of social media and networking sites demand the acceptance of reality that our children should be prepared and ready to embrace technological advances, not only for their own safety and social responsibility, but also have the tools to enhance their learning, collaborate worldwide, share ideas and improve their quality of life by having access to multiple opportunities.

school Should social media become a feature in today’s education system

So, the question is, should social media become a feature in today’s education system? I personally think that the issue of safety and social responsibility should be incorporated at some level. More and more children and teenagers, as we see in the media news are being bullied on social media, some even committing suicide, they are also tempted to gamble, be exposed to sexual content and at very least spoil their future job possibilities by posting stupid comments which later catch up with them via their future employers. Of course most of the above is lurking all around our good (or bad) old Internet, but the young initially navigate these waters without adult supervision or guidance with social media as the first port of call.

car Should social media become a feature in today’s education system

 

Yes kids are kids, and you only have to look behind you to see one with a smartphone texting every 30 seconds about their favourite outfit, game, boyfriend and band, but this doesn’t inhibit the opportunity to use the same platform to engage responsibly and find interesting ways to learn. Kids are also more often smarter than they are given credit, and would welcome information such as, The US Library of Congress has archived every tweet from Twitter, 170 billion tweets and counting, scarier, they are making them available to researchers and other interested parties. We can educate our children about privacy concerns, about social bullying and how to handle it, about an online personality, the pros and the cons, in fact children may even become facilitators in educating parents about responsibility and the power of social media.

At another level, most teenagers in education already have access to computer training as part of the curriculum, social media would greatly enhance the experience by sharing views, assignments, interacting with different cultures, maybe having International classrooms, again teenagers are not stupid and usually have a sense of freedom, righteousness and an open mind, some may say that’s lacking in their elders. Social media training would also be a fantastic tool to find employment, for example, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with over 200 million members, where 90% of employers who were surveyed said they planned on using social media to recruit and hire new employees.

The groundwork has already been done, where most children and teenagers have already taught themselves the technical aspects via their smartphones or laptops, indeed teachers would have to be trained specifically about social media, just as they needed to be taught about using the web and email when that was new.

Parents would naturally be sceptical about privacy, safety and the educational value, but by being taught properly the younger generation would be enlightened to the fact that social media is not just a fun game, but to be used with caution, responsibility and full attention, thereby securing and safeguarding their online footprint where they can learn, share, integrate and respect different views on life without having to look back with embarrassment and regret in future years, because with today’s technology, what you do now can come back and haunt you in the future.

Social media is here to stay, it’s not a fad, here are just a few examples;

  • Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide. That translates to 19% of all time online. To break that down even further, it means that 1 in every 5 minutes is spent on social networking sites globally.
  • Although social networking engagement varies per country (93%  in the U.S. compared to 53%  in China) it is pretty safe to say that in general, over half of local online populations are actively using social media.
  • The importance of Facebook cannot be overstated. Not surprisingly, Facebook (launched in 2004) reaches more than half of the world’s global audience (55%) and accounts for approximately 3 in every 4 minutes spent on social media and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world.
  • Micro blogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking. This is in large part due to the Twitter phenomenon that began to emerge significantly in 2009. Twitter now reaches 1 of 10 internet users worldwide and grew 59% in the past year.
  • Social networking is the norm for digital natives between the ages of 15 and 24 that have grown up with the internet. In fact, most communication is now over social media versus email and mobile. The highest average engagement worldwide is with this age segment, which is an important indicator for the future.
  • Mobile devices represent the future of social networking from a technology point of view. One third of the U.S. population accessed social networking sites on their mobile phones at least once a month. Across the five leading European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom, that number was nearly 25%.  Of special note is the increase in smartphone usage and popularity of tablets as an influential factor on mobile social media engagement.

army 1024x341 Should social media become a feature in today’s education system

Do you think it would be beneficial to teach social media in our education system, would replacing something like religious studies with social media studies be a step forward, or do you think it should be left to parents, and out of a classroom?

images/flickr/utube/research across the net.


Nov 272013
 
christmas and suicide

Christmas and suicide not related, recession is!

It is often thought that over the holiday Christmas and New Year period that the rate of despair through suicide and attempted suicide increases dramatically. There is no evidence to support this claim, and it is a myth.  100,000 adolescents die by suicide each year and suicide is the biggest cause of death amongst 15-19 year olds worldwide (source; International Association for Suicide Prevention), and there is no peak in figures for Christmas or holiday season, but there are other reasons for the loss of life through suicide.

Recently a report suggests that suicide has rocketed in the U.K. since the economic downturn , and the largest rises in areas of most unemployment.

lonely at christmas Christmas and suicide not related

lonely at christmas

Debt, unemployment, drops in income and housing problems contribute highly to suicide and attempts of suicide, The share of households in Britain whose income is not enough to pay their bills has risen from 14 per cent a year ago to 16 per cent, Legal and General’s Money Mood survey has found, and it is well know that the link between suicide and recession is substantial. For example, the number of people unemployed in north and north-east Somerset and south Gloucestershire doubled over the three years and suicides increased by 50 per cent. Another reason for the rise in a time of recession is the fact that when local services are cut for economic reasons,  those who have mental health problems and other vulnerable members of society can lose part of their support structure, becoming more distressed therefore triggering thoughts of suicide.

 

However the Christmas and New Year period can substantially have an effect on our emotional wellbeing, especially amongst people who live alone or people who are going through a bad time such as divorce or losing their job especially when being told it is the most wonderful time of the year, but there are few to tell us what to do when it simply isn’t the most wonderful time. So here are a few things that may help to deal with the celebrations even when you may feel you have nothing to celebrate.

Try a change in tradition, if your family invite you to join them at Christmas and you enjoy the support then that’s ideal, but if you think it would make you feel worse how about taking a short holiday in the sun and taking a break until you are stronger to deal with things.

If you have no family or short on friends, it’s not the end of the world as many are in this position in life, treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally buy and look forward to it, maybe save for a lavish meal in a restaurant without looking at the menu prices. Treat yourself to a show or take in the cinema more than you do normally.

decorate Christmas and suicide not related

change things around

If you are financially restricted how about making changes to your surroundings by decorating on a small scale or moving and revamping your furniture or rooms, or plan the garden. Keeping busy is a great way to get through the festivities when you are not feeling festive. If you have a friend who has had difficulty or have a friend you haven’t seen for years, how about asking them to join you in a double venture.

There’s nothing written in stone about having to experience an exciting and frantic time over the Christmas or New Year period even when the media forces us to think just that, so why not utilize the time to relax and have some quiet time, reading, play music or learn a new hobby.

 

happy person Christmas and suicide not related

It’s only Christmas

 

You can’t ignore Christmas or New Year, the worst thing you can do is pretend it’s not happening and shut yourself off completely by hanging on negative thoughts which only run into a vicious circle in your mind and distract you from feeling better. Mark this time of year as a new start and even if you pass on all the extras don’t pass on the opportunity to be strong and reflect on the fact that billions of others have been in your position and have gone on to better and happier times.

 

 

 

 

Resources: Pics Flickr.com/The Independant/The Samaratans

 

My Google+ Profile

 

Oct 312013
 
facebook likes

Like, like, and like again!

Why do you have a Facebook page? Simple and obvious answer, to stay in touch with your family, friends, new and old, keep up with the latest trends and news and have access to topics you care about, great! Nothing wrong with that and it’s become the main hub of social interaction arguably along with Twitter.

But it gets more complicated than that, your input to Facebook, in fact any social media platform has widespread implications, no offence, but where there’s muck there’s brass, in fact there’s brass, or money, to be made in anything that is popular, because the golden commodity is you!

Let’s focus on the Facebook “like”, an innocent view of the like button is to show your friends that you are interested in a certain post you have read, indeed maybe a post you have written, why are we concerned who likes it? My opinion is that we want to prove our self-worth, we ourselves want to be liked. Whatever is unusual about ourselves can be drowned into the background if we get enough tribute in the form of likes, we fit in, we become liked, we get social approval, in fact to the point where we don’t show our true selves online, but conform to the opinions of others around us, simply to be liked.

Whether I’m right or wrong, the fact remains that millions of us share our opinions in the form of “likes” but once you innocently hit that button, the technical wheels of motion start turning behind the scenes, your button press has now become information, and information makes money. There is even a Facebook algorithm, a programme written to analyse how many “likes” on a certain post and what worth this has from an interacting level. This is called edge rank, the bigger the rank the more the post will be exposed in other peoples profiles.

crying Facebook likes

This type of post is the lowest of the low!

Here’s how it works, let us take a post where the content unashamedly hits an emotional nerve with the readers, something on the lines of a child’s image along with the title “All my dad wants is a million likes before his cancer stops him seeing Christmas” now, what kind of person would you be not to hit the button? But, the child or father doesn’t exist, it’s a scam, it ranges from fluffy cat images to suffering people, why? Because the page this story comes from, along with other posts of the same nature, now has millions of “likes”, it has a high rank, where its posts are now sent not only to your page, but your friends also. The scam Facebook page is now worth lots of money, it now has access to millions of people, an advertisers dream. In fact the usual step now, is to change a few details on the page and sell it as a highly ranked fan page for big money, and the whole process starts again.

dislike Facebook likes

It’s big business, there are “like” farms, where “likes” can be bought and sold, dirty tactics in play, one recently on television where a donation to charity is made for every “like” received, great for charity you may rightly think, but why don’t these companies give to charity without any ties? Because they make back their money through advertising because of the “likes”, did you really think they were being kind?.

So, did you realise you were worth so much when you clicked the “like” button, not to mention the “share” button? If you see any post desperate for “likes” it’s not that they want to pull at your heart strings and help any particular person, they simply want to make money. It really is up to you if you want to fall for these unscrupulous posts, but the price you unwittingly pay is fighting through the increasing amount of scam posts on your page just to see what your best friend is doing at the minute, Facebook boasts the fact that it will always be free, just ask yourself how many things in life are really free, and what changes are we to see on Facebook, and other social media sites in the future, simply because interaction and information are equal to money. The next time you see a post with this kind of content, a puzzle, a question, a sorry tale, it’s simple, don’t click on it, this way you will see less of them.

Please “like” or “share” this post if you enjoyed it, why? Because more “likes” and “shares” on my site may attract more people to visit it, which in turn means more people may click on an advert and I get another penny from Google, hardly enough to make a living, but I enjoy writing and therefore won’t be too upset if you prefer not to. Be sure to “like” for the right reasons icon smile Facebook likes

 

images; flickr


Oct 212013
 
doctor

Are you aware your personal medical information, isn’t personal anymore?

 Have you read George Orwell’s 1984? If you have you are well aware of the Big Brother society, having your whole life monitored, your life controlled at every corner with your individualism destroyed by Government, well, you may think it’s total fiction, and maybe your right, but Georges ideas are based on one thing (in my opinion of course) personal information, a log of who you are, what you do, and who you interact with.
George Orwell Personal information at your local GPs

George Orwell

Yes, I’m sure we are all fully aware of today’s Big Brother, advertising companies. We see them collecting as much information on us as they can so that they can focus on specific needs, in specific areas and therefore target their products efficiently. No harm in that you may think especially if you are looking for that special washing machine or garden fence. But recently however Government have decided that they can stimulate investment and economic growth by publishing, and charging for personal data they collect from you, to numerous third parties, some who may have dubious credentials.

Even British Telecom where defended by Government when it was discovered they had third party spyware trials on their servers, collecting customers information without their consent, and yes we have The independent Commissioners Office to protect misuse of our personal information, but they have the same in common with a chocolate teapot, they are poorly understaffed and can be flicked away at a glance by the Government.

 

But the latest gathering of your information is at your most historically trusted General Practitioners. In the UK, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 introduced important changes that will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to collect and share confidential information from medical records without explicit patient consent. It is expected this will encourage inward investment by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and facilitate medical research.

keyboard Personal information at your local GPs

So yes a good thing? This will enable medical research, it may even help in the investigation of crime and besides if you haven’t done anything wrong why worry? Unfortunately things aren’t that simple when it comes to losing your confidentiality. Let me run this past you, let’s say you have been a rape victim in the past, or you have a medical condition you would like to keep private, even from them closest to you, this information is now available to any business who could benefit  from your details. Now you get leaflets through your door, telephone cold calls and even a salesman at your doorstep promoting good news about your predicament, but they may be speaking to any of your family. Other areas may be protecting adopted children, witness protection, religious prejudices, mental conditions. Personal medical information may lead to insurance companies non acceptance because you smoke or drink too much.

In other words your personal information is not personal anymore and GP’s are sending your medical information to these third parties without your direct consent. You may have been given a leaflet at your doctors explaining the system, but the onus is on you to prevent your details going forward, you have to tell your GP that you do not want your information released. This can be done by sending a letter to your GP or calling to your surgery. This action will have no detrimental effect on the service you receive and you will not be alone in doing so.

There was a time when  your doctor was classed as a family friend who was approachable and even gave guidance in unrelated medical issues, unfortunately saving money and profiteering have left such a time to history.

Just a reminder the uploading of your medical information at your local GP’s will be uploaded (shared to others) by default! Unless you do something about it, and that involves telling your GP you do not give permission to share this information. You will not be classed as a trouble maker or segregated, you are simply controlling what other people know about you.

 

I have included links below for further detailed reading, also a link to a template letter if easier for you to approach your surgery.

How to opt out. http://medconfidential.org/how-to-opt-out/

What’s the story. http://medconfidential.org/whats-the-story/

Dear Dr Roberts, http://www.hotlaptop.co.uk/surveillance/dear-dr-roberts/

Excellent article by Mark Davies : The Kernel, The companies paying to view your medical records


Sep 162013
 
Aloe vera

Aloe Vera  the magical plant.

Part of the Lily family, (Aloe Barbadensis) commonly known as Aloe Vera, is one of the oldest know medicinal plants and has been mentioned in history back to pre- biblical times. Some say it’s origins stem from The Cape Verde Islands, but it is known to be a plant indigenous to South Central Africa. Today it can be seen growing in the United States, Mexico, the Pacific Rim countries, India, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Australia and Africa.

Aloe Vera is not a cactus but is a cactus like plant with a rubber touch, growing in the warmer tropical climates of the world.  Aloes’ thick, tapered, green, spiny leaves grow from a short stalk near ground level. It is a sub-tropical plant and member of the tree Lily family. Aloe is closely related to other members of the Lily family such as onions, leeks, garlic, tulips, turnips and asparagus.

Aloe Vera is one of the most versatile plants on the face of the earth. It can be used to treat many ailments both external and internal and comes in tea, gel, juice, salve, capsule and decoction forms. It is effective for animals as it is for humans. It is found in almost every part of the world with a warm tropical climate but cannot survive freezing temperatures.

aloe vera gel Aloe VeraThe major ingredient in the internal gel of Aloe is water, making up 99% of its content. The remaining 1% or so of solid is divided amongst 200 different constituents, constituting a diverse mixture of antibiotics, pain inhibitors, cell growth stimulators, inflammation fighters, burns healers, capillary dilators, vasoconstrictor inhibitors and moisturizers all having a remarkable degree of penetration. Thus Aloe possesses almost a complete drug store of medically useful ingredients along with pH reaction factor of pH 4.5 the same as human skin.

Aloe Vera as a commodity  for use in nutritional foods, and cosmetics is due to the proper stabilizing procedures that enable processors to store and ship the Aloe Vera Gel without fear of spoilage throughout the market places of the world. The Aloe industry has established high ethical standards for business and their Aloe products. Research conducted around the world leaves little doubt that certain biochemical properties of Aloe Vera be proven facts. Such attributes as moisturizing and penetrating properties are known, but the attributes such as healing abilities and analgesic action to bacterial activity have not been clearly defined and documented enough with properly controlled scientific research of testing.

Through chemical analysis this clear gel has been seen to contain Amino Acids, Minerals, Enzymes, Proteins, Polysaccharides and Biological stimulants. Public interest in Aloe has grown quickly and now there is a considerable amount of research into the various components of Aloe to find out more about its properties and to characterize these components so that more specific research can provide clues to the “magic” that is attributed to Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera is a nutritional storehouse, containing vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, niacin amide, choline and 18 amino acids, in addition to many other nutritional substances. Aloe Vera juice is an ingredient in many commercial topical creams, lotions and shampoos.

Here’s a few things the magic plant claims to do;

  • Aloe has at least 6 antiseptic agents which kill bacteria, viruses and fungi
  • Aloe has a clearing effect on the body’s nervous system
  • Aloe has the ability to reach deepest body tissues some 7 layers deep
  • Aloe stimulates the birth of new healthy tissue
  • Aloe detoxifies and normalizes the body’s metabolism
  • A neutral cleanser
  • Penetrates tissue
  • Anaethesis tissue, relieving pain associated with joints and sore muscles
  • Bactericide in high concentration with infectious bacteria – acts as a strong anti-biotic, destroying bacteria even when diluted
  • Vericidal when in direct contact for long periods
  • Fungicidal
  • Anti- inflammatory
  • Nutritional – provides vitamins, minerals, sugar
  • Breaks down and digests dead tissue including pus (acne)
  • Enhances normal cell proliferation – hastens healing
  • Moisturizes tissues
  • Antiprunic – stops itching
  • Antipyretic – reduces the heat of sores

aloe vera Aloe VeraExternal uses of Aloe Vera

  • Hair and scalp
  • Hands feet and nails
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Sunburn
  • Scratches
  • Open Sores
  • Herpes Simplex
  • Burns of any degree
  • Lines due to aging
  • Irritations and Infections
  • Ulcerated Skin Lesions
  • Eczema

Internal uses of Aloe Vera

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Stomach problems
  • AIDS/HIV Infection
  • Pain suppression
  • Inflammation
  • Leukaemia
  • Anaemia

Well as you can see, an impressive list, although some claims can be exaggerated by the Industry without full research, but never the less this plant has lots to offer. It is also worth mentioning, not to take anything internally unless you are 100% sure it is safe, always ask guidance from your doctor. It is also recommended that the use of refined gel and plant extract is used, growing the plant and using it yourself can be harmful. Aloe Vera can be harmful to pets.

 


Images/flickr/research/“Aloe Vera – The Magical Plant Amongst Us” by Dr. Reuben Titus
Aug 162013
 
The South Atlantic Anomaly

The South Atlantic Anomaly

Ok we have all heard a little about the Earth’s Ozone layer, the greenhouse effect and so on, but there’s one subject that escapes the main newspaper headlines and is as important. The South Atlantic Anomaly  (SAA). Know what I’m talking about? Then I’m sure you could enlighten me further, but I’ll do my best to explain my findings on the Web, and the effects this anomaly has on our planet.

So what is The South Atlantic Anomaly? Our Earth is surrounded by a close to spherical magnetic field, the magnetosphere, which is being generated by dynamo action in the Earth’s interior where conducting liquid metals are kept in motion by the forces of convection (heat exchange), coriolis, and gravitation. This, or these magnetic fields are quite common to us, we see their affects in compasses, or the Northern Lights, they protect us from space radiation by deflecting high energy particles from deep space or by capturing them in the so-called Van Allen Belt.

Simulated Van Allen Belts 300x203 What is The South Atlantic Anomaly

Simulated Van Allen Belts

The nearest portion of the Van Allen Belt forms what is called the South Atlantic Anomaly. Although the inner surface is 1200 – 1300 kilometres from the Earth’s surface on one side of the Earth, on the other they dip down to 200 – 800 kilometres. But above South America, about 200 – 300 kilometres off the coast of Brazil, and extending over much of South America, is the nearest layer of the Van Allen Belt, or SAA. The South Atlantic Anomaly was discovered by the first US satellite, Explorer in 1958 and can vary in shape over time, the problem, from current reading, is the fact that this geomagnetic field is slowly weakening therefore the Van Allen Belt is getting closer to Earth.

 

There have been a few instances, where the SAA or belt is nearest, where communication network losses, missing flights, NASA computer breakdowns (when the Space Shuttle passed through), failure of satellites and even birds losing their magnetic reference in migration. The Hubble Space Telescope stops taking observations while passing through the SAA and Astronauts have been reported experiencing peculiar shooting stars (phosphenes) in the area. NASA have recently discovered another radiation belt around the earth.

van allen radiation belt 640x352 300x165 What is The South Atlantic Anomaly

Many have related the Bermuda Triangle (off the coast of Brazil) to the SAA, where NASA satellites that do travel in the region are shut down, or go into SAFE mode to avoid damage while passing over. One example of strange things happening in the area is the flight of Air France flight 447 where 216 passengers lost their lives on 1st June 2009, although early reports blamed unusual thunder storms along with being in the area of the SAA, later when the aircrafts black box was located, data pointed to instruments failing due to ice crystals. The point here is that although there is no doubt the SAA can effect electrical equipment, all air disasters in the area cannot be attributed to it, there are very few low altitude flight accidents.

Van Allen Probes A and B What is The South Atlantic Anomaly

Van Allen Probes

 

There are those that also think the SAA is contributing to the accelerated Global Warming Effect and the fact that the field is weakening could be the start of the Earth’s magnetic pole reversal. One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that the geomagnetic field will continue to become weaker and the anomaly will become larger, where extra precaution in commercial and space flight will have to be addressed.

The Earth’s radiation belts still are capable of surprising us and still have mysteries to discover and explain.

Video: Anomaly in Magnetosphere may be causing bird and fish die-off

Images; flickr/NASA/utube


Aug 032013
 
Internet big boys

Here’s a look at the state of play concerning the current state of the Internet, based on areas of market share. The infographic shows: browser, mobile vendor, non-mobile operating system, social media, and mobile operating system.

the internet war report 2013 51faa4347044c w587 Internet big boys

Thanks to KISSmetrics.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 


Jul 312013
 
buying your first car

Buying your first car can be a nightmare or a breeze!

Thinking of buying your first car?  Here are  a few tips I’ve picked up from personal experience and my travels across the Web. The majority of first time buyers will be looking for a used car, the pitfalls are plenty and it’s worth, as everything else, doing a little research before you go ahead, armed with a little knowledge could save you lots of money in the long run .

Spring is a good time of year to be in the market, whatever your budget. New registration plates become available from March 1 and of course this has a knock on effect on the price of used vehicles.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the cash to cover the car you have in mind, there are various other options. The easiest way of financing your vehicle is to take out a loan from a bank or other financial provider or use a 0% interest credit card. Be careful and think carefully if you want to lease or Hire Purchase the vehicle, because this means you do not actually own the car and this could cause problems if you hit on hard times.

It’s a good idea to have a plan and have in mind a couple of models you would like to own, heading straight out and looking at everything on the forecourt with a feeling of excitement can seriously damage your wallet or purse, and you could end up owning a car you regret ever seeing.  First time buyers, especially if new drivers should look at something with a small engine, this makes sense for a few reasons, firstly, the vehicle will be relatively cheaper, secondly, the vehicle will cheaper to run and maintain, and thirdly but most importantly the insurance will be lower.

The first step is to read about the models you are thinking about and get to know the car before you buy it, there are plenty of magazines on the Web and by doing a keyword search you can also find common problems related to that car. Good sites include Parkers and Which Car.

Giving false insurance deatils can land you in hot water. Buying your first car

Giving false insurance details can land you in hot water.

The next step is to enquire about car insurance for your particular models, insurance can quite often cost more than the price of the car, especially for younger drivers. Do a few quotes online to give you an idea on how much it will cost. Remember engine size, where the car is kept overnight, and which type of alarm is used, weigh heavily in your quotes.  A good tip is to visit Parkers where you can pinpoint which insurance group applies to your model, which in turn may highlight a slightly different model but at a lower insurance group.

When you’re fully armed you can start looking around, I would stay away from auctions, from experience you can get easily stung here, the people you bid against are old hands at the game, usually dealers, and before you get over excited at the look and colour of your model, you could be taking home someone else’s trouble. Always take a knowledgeable person with you if going down the auction route, it’s money well spent in hiring an Automobile agent such as The RAC or the AA to check out the car you have in mind before you start bidding.

Buying privately is a good idea, but the same rules apply with taking someone with you. If you buy your first car privately you have fewer legal rights. The car must be ‘as described’ but the other rules don’t apply i.e. there is no legal requirement that the car is of satisfactory quality, although the car must be roadworthy and safe to drive if it is being sold to be driven on the road. The ‘as described’ covers all statements made about the car, in writing, in a conversation over the phone or in the showroom, in a newspaper, website, email or text, or in documentation.

forecourt Buying your first car

Take your time on the forecourt

You can do the rounds to the forecourts, there are some good cars at bargain prices, I could write a more lengthy article on what to check on particular cars, but again I can’t emphasize the point strongly enough, take someone with you who is knowledgeable about mechanics. Before exchanging any money you should give the car a thorough check over. The security system fitted on the vehicle will have a huge impact on the price of your insurance and therefore should be a priority, and always take a test drive with your knowledgeable friend. Also enquire what guarantees apply and ask for all paperwork including service reports. If you buy a second-hand car you MUST make sure you are given the correct V5 certificate. You will need to use the V5 to inform the DVLA that you have bought the car and are now the registered keeper.

 

 

If your budget permits, it’s a good exercise to get your car serviced, or at least checked out by a reputable garage as soon as you get it home, this will save any heartache and embarrassment of the car breaking down on your first trip out. If any major problems are found the quicker you can confront the dealer the better. Getting a service with at least fresh oil, plugs, filters and water/anti-freeze will put you in good stead for months ahead. I always buy a new battery for any used car I buy, batteries are pretty inexpensive these days, and it can be quite depressing when your car won’t start due to a faulty battery, and it usually happens when you need to be somewhere important.

So the key points are, research your favourite models (get to know stock faults), check out what your insurance is likely to be, do a few quotes (try to tweak it by adding a good alarm system, never tell lies, this can seriously affect a future claim), take someone who is a mechanic with you, and if you can, don’t buy on impulse, come back the next day. By the way, asking for a lower price or asking for the petrol tank to filled up as a deal clincher isn’t cheeky, it’s business, the dealer will still have a profit and will do his/her best to finalise a deal. Good luck!

 

 

Images/flickr


 

 

 

Jul 072013
 
Interesting facts about the brain

Interesting facts about the brain Infographic

 

So what’s the most important tool that we carry around with us every day, Our smartphone, our notebook, our laptop? It doesn’t really matter how many Apps we have or how versatile our technology is, without our good old brain everything is completely useless. The brain is the most complex tool of all, and considering it’s made up of 75% water, that’s not bad going, especially when you have around an average of 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day.

The understanding of how our brain functions continues to baffle scientists, not surprising as our brain contains billions of nerve cells that send and receive information from all areas of our body. Each side of the brain interacts largely with just one half of the body, but for reasons that are not yet fully understood, the interaction is with opposite sides, the right side of the brain interacts with the left side of the body, and vice versa.

Important areas of the brain include the corpus callosum, cerebral cortex, thalamus, cerebellum, hypothalamus, hippocampus and brain stem, the largest area being the cerebrum. The brain itself is suspended in Cerebrospinal fluid, effectively floating in liquid that acts as both a cushion to physical impact and a barrier to infections, protected by our skull (cranium) a protective casing made up of 22 bones that are joined together.  The brain of an adult human weighs around 3 pounds (1.5 kg). Although it makes up just 2% of the body weight, it uses around 20% of its energy.

The most notable diseases of the brain include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, strokes, resulting from a blood clot that restricts blood supply to the brain can also cause damage to tissue and cause a variety of symptoms.

Below are some interesting facts about the brain,  Infographic shared by the good folks at visual.ly designed by eyecandy.


Jul 052013
 
organ donation

Is organ donation a highly admirable and responsible thing to do, or do you have some reservations?

The issue is a very personal one. Recently in the U.K. a change in the law in Wales has a new system presuming the consent of donors, despite opposition from religious groups. (an opt-out option has been raised). There is much controversy on the decision whether we have the right to choose if we donate our body parts, or have that choice overridden by law. I’ve been doing some digging around on the Web, and there are, as with every subject, pros and cons related to people’s views on the matter of donation.

Firstly lets tackle a couple of myths, donor families do not have to pay for any expenses for a donation, in fact a care team is assigned to help a donor family through every step of the way to give support and answer any questions with careful understanding. Secondly, some believe that doctors and surgeons might not try to the best of their ability to save them when they find out they are donors. However,this again is a fallacy as the surgeons involved in donations are completely different from those who are going to be saving you. To them no one life is more important than another, and they are of course going to focus on saving the person in front of them.

 

Most deaths give the potential of donating tissue and eyes, but when we think of organ donation we usually think of hearts, lungs, kidneys, the large organs. To be able to donate these, the patient has to be diagnosed with brain death. The body must be kept in this state for a day or two while tests are run to see which organs are good for transplant and while recipients are found for each of your organs and they prepare for surgery to receive the organ.

 

organs 675x1024 Organ DonationThat means their heart is still beating, and their lungs are still moving oxygen (with the assistance of a ventilator) after their brain is dead. A person who has been diagnosed with brain death looks like they are still alive,  just like a coma. It’s very hard for a family to see your chest rise and fall, and your heart rhythm flow across the monitor and accept that you are dead. As far as the family receiving the organ it can mean years on their life, and a healthier life, but being on the waiting list means having to be available for surgery at a moment’s notice. When the organ is received, the patient will have to take drugs that decrease the immune system in order to keep the body from rejecting it. This can increase the risk of the patient becoming sick, and sometimes the body rejects the organ.

 

On the face of it, it is a win win situation, If you have ever known someone who has received an organ, then you will know just what an incredible gift this is. If you can save someone from dying, then of course most of us would see this as a highly positive thing. At the same time though, being an organ donor can actually help you to save more than one life, rather it can help you to save several and a single donor may touch the lives of up to 50 people. This can also have more repercussions as you lead by example and convince more people to do the same.

So what’s the problem? I have read that one person was against donation because of the fear of future law being changed where cells could be taken from their organs to “clone” the person, but the majority of views seem to be mainly relating to emotional and religious beliefs. Many believe that their bodies should be buried, or cremated whole, to accommodate a passage through the afterlife, or indeed to return to another life. There are religions where donation is frowned upon, even to a direct family member, Jehovah’s Witnesses require that organs be drained of any blood due to their interpretation of the disallowance of blood transfusion from the Bible, and Muslims requires that the donor have provided written consent in advance.

 

The other consideration for many, is the thought of a loved one being dissected and operated on with a sense of vulnerability for the person we love. (When the organs are taken from the body, the dead person is taken to surgery and given anaesthesia just the way you would a live person). Because of the uncertainties of death we sometimes feel that there may be a sense of being, even after we die, and also the thought of disrespect to our bodies (even though we assume we can’t feel anything) crosses our minds with a real vision that our loved ones have already gone through enough.

after life terracotta 1024x680 Organ Donation

after life terracotta

Transplants are now so successful in the UK that a year after surgery:

  • 94% of kidneys in living donor transplants are still functioning well.
  • 88% of kidneys from people who have died are still functioning well.
  • 86% of liver transplants are still functioning well.
  • 84% of heart transplants are still functioning well.
  • For lung transplants the figure is 77% while 73% of heart/lung transplants are still functioning well.
  • Heart transplants have been available under the NHS since 1979 and heart/lung transplants since 1984. Lung transplants have been available since 1986.
  • Improved patient management techniques have led to improved success rates.

 

My personal view? Well, as my father used to say, “when you’re gone, you’re gone!” and the thought of being able to help someone improve their life is a nice thing to carry around. It is though as I say a very personal matter, one which is not given much thought, unless the time arrives where you are in the middle of a huge life crisis, you have just found out that your loved one is dead, and now you have to make this decision and you don’t have much time to make it in. Consideration of how a recipient and their family would feel and benefit, may help to make the decision?

 

Images/Flickr