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Category / Individual Issues

Got milk? 12 August, 2015 at 5:53 pm

This morning a friend posted:

Help a brother out with a job application!

“Describe a time when you had to be self-motivated to achieve an important goal. What was the goal? What were the challenges? What strengths and/or learning opportunities did you identify as part of this process?”

What kind of examples do people use for these?

My initial response was brief: “Something about making breakfast when there was no milk left in the fridge.”

Then I wrote the following (with a few minor edits made since).

Eating breakfast is of course important. The challenge is cereal without milk. Having run out of milk is clearly an operational oversight. However, despite the early hour, lack of energy and disappointment, I knew that I could draw on my internal resilience and resourcefulness to come up with a solution.

There were several options. One was to go to work without breakfast. Yes, I would survive, but I knew that it would take the edge off my productivity and creative output.

An unpleasant option was to use water in place of milk. I don’t know if you have ever eaten your standard breakfast with water in place of milk, but I can assure you it is worse than not eating it in normal circumstances.

A third option was to go to the supermarket, however this trip would be fairly time costly, and involve driving, which is a little financially and environmentally irresponsible for just an item or two.

The best option was to use my excellent interpersonal skills and rouse my neighbour to ask if they could spare some. In return I offered to invite them over for dinner that evening. They had recently moved in and I had not had a chance to get to know them well. The milk was offered, breakfast was saved, and the satisfied feeling propelled an excellent day at work, completing tasks early, including assisting a colleague with a backlog of customer callbacks. I left the office slightly early and used the extra time to restock my groceries – as well as a replacement for the neighbour, of course – and collect ingredients for a nice meal to cook. The meal was lovely and it turns out the neighbour and I get along very well, and we hatched a plan to do combined grocery shopping with home delivery. Split between two households, the delivery fee is quite reasonable, and the time saved on shopping allows us more time to have BBQ’s together, enjoying some music we both enjoy and discuss our hobbies. And I now also never run out of milk.

What I learned is that obstacles and problems can be turned into opportunities. Even a small problem can be just the catalyst required to reexamine outdated processes and result in a better life.

This experience of course translates directly to the business environment, where challenges must be met on a daily basis, and to obtain a competitive edge, improvements to existing systems must be looked for occasionally, explored and implemented.

Perhaps not a true story, but I think I might try this, or something like it, some time.

-spxl

Supported Projects 6 November, 2011 at 6:07 am

I’ve supported a few ‘crowd-funded’ projects in recent months, including the production of a DVD of visuals by the Joshua Light Show in New York (who provided visuals for famous music acts in the 1960s), The Sensorium Project (an 11.11m dome for video/interactive/psychedelic art to travel festivals here in Australia), and helping Professor Kliq (a musician / producer in Chicago) obtain his music composition degree.

The Sensorium Project has not yet reached its funding target and has just 5 days to go; I have just doubled my pledge and encourage any Australian VJs and visualists to contribute if they can.

See the new Supported Projects page for more links, videos, etc.

-spxl

Meetup.com – how many groups are started by authoritarian control freaks? 22 April, 2010 at 6:11 am

Case Study

Confucius & Western Historical Philosophers-A Stutdy Meetup (sic)
http://www.meetup.com/confuciusandotherphilosophers/

Organiser

pete” (possibly not his real name)

Location: Sydney
Hometown:
san francisco (sic)

Organizer of this Meetup Group since January 21, 2010

Introduction

I am interested in philosophy and different cultures, I feel only reason and logics [sic] can save the humanity [sic] in the end. ‘We may take fancy for a companion, but must follow Reason as our guide’. Samuel Johson [sic]

Reading is to find out whether what you are trying to address, has been addressed.

Reading is to find out whether what you are trying to address was already addressed by someone 100 ago [sic] or not.
Please read the philosopher we specify before the meeting otherwise listen and learn . Please do not join this group if you do not agree to observe this simple rule.

Premise

STUDY ONE PHILOSOPHER A MEETUP- 50 philosphers after 50 meetups.

THIS IS THE SOLE INTENT OF THIS PHILOSOPHY STUDY MEETUP, LET’S STUDY ONE PHILOSOPHER AT A TIME (AT A MEETING) ALONG THE HISTORICAL TIME FRAME SO AFTER 50 MEETUPS YOU WILL KNOW 50 HISTORICAL PHILOSOPHERS. READING IS TO FIND OUT WHETHER WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS HAS ALREADY BEEN ADDRESSED.

(more…)

Reach out and touch some…thing – SubPixel / Studio Kanzen 25 November, 2009 at 12:02 am

The following is copied from an email addressed to Studio Kanzen, creators of SubPixel – a digital culture video blog.

Studio Kanzen,

this evening I discovered someone/something called “SubPixel”. My sister asked me what videos were mine on YouTube, saying that she did a search for “subpixel” and found something that looked like porn, so didn’t open it at work. Something about a guy with his shirt off and a girl with her hands somewhere near his groin. “No, I don’t think I have anything that looks like porn, or anything with a guy with his shirt off.”

What was she talking about? YouTube. Search.

I see… SubPixel: Clone a Willy Penis Mold Kit Review

Quite amusing, but no, not one of my videos.

Hi, I’m subpixel. I’ve been pushing pixels under that name since 2002 when I started taking club and party photos for Australia’s dance music community at InTheMix: “sub” as in music, and “pixel” as in pictures (digital photographs). On later reflection it occurred to me that the name had other interpretations, such as “subpixels” meaning “images from a subculture”, or “subpixel” being the thing (or person) underlying/behind the images I was capturing, especially since I was responsible for the images and rarely “in front of the camera” in my own photos, or those taken by other photographers in the Sydney scene.

After being an InTheMix photographer for a year or so, and having made many new friends along the way, I was more inclined to go where some of those friends were going, and less inclined to take on ITM photography assignments elsewhere, though still continued taking photos, including as “official photographer” for an underground party called Undercurrents, and today have an archive of some 70,000+ images and short video clips. I was without a camera – I mean a camera I cared to carry with me, since, now I think about it, I did actually have at least one other – for about 6 months two years ago, and found that to be a bit depressing. That slowed me down a bit, and I don’t seem to have been taking as many since then (or perhaps for a while before), though do go through spurts on occasion.

Photo madness in decline, I am still behind the pixels nonetheless. I acquired subpixels.com in 2003, and continued to use the name, especially for creative projects. In 2006, after a late night laptop-and-video-projector good times retrospective for a friend’s farewell at a city fringe music bunker (another friend’s house with a killer sound system and wall to wall wax) in Sydney, I was asked to supply visuals for a live electronic music gig called Laptopjam, and so the subpixel name moved on to be my VJ moniker.

I appeared mainly at live electronic gigs, VJ meetings and house parties in Sydney until I was roped in as resident VJ for a fledgling club night (Mind! Reggae Dubstep) in Brixton by Italian DJ Unity Selekta along with Earl Gateshead [Trojan Soundsystem] when I moved to London in 2008, strangely enough from my Gumtree listing looking for a place to live. Around the same time I discovered a local VJ community, VJlondon, where I made friends, had fun, and through which landed various gigs around London including a couple more live electronic gigs. I also joined the sizeable contingent of VJlondon crew appearing at LPM 2009Live Performers Meeting – in Rome, apparently the only Australian representative. Through Dr.Mo, who organised most of the VJlondon gatherings, I met architect and artist Alex Haw of atmos (currently working on the CLOUD for the 2012 London Olympics), with whom I collaborated to realise the Weather Projection installation at the inaugural Smart Light Sydney festival – me, a Sydneysider, scrambling to write the code in London (and in Rome after LPM!), and Alex, a Londoner, scrambling to put together the hardware (and content) in Sydney – such a mixed-up world we live in! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to Sydney to see the result, but I’m back in Sydney now, and have rejoined forces with the live electronics party/promoter Midi In The City as well as taking up residency with the closely related TECHnique crew for their monthly techno parties and festival vibes at the Earthdance Sydney 2009 Campout. I have just completed another international collaboration, this time with Venetian producer and deepindub netlabel founder, Maurizio Miceli: a “VJ clip” for Way Out [DIDVJ002] to promote his latest EP.

You can find clips from and information about past VJ gigs at SPXL.TV, and other stuff like my blog including experiments with Processing at subpixels.com.

Startpage metasearch engine: search without the privacy violation 30 July, 2009 at 5:15 am

Startpage 
  • Users’ IP addresses are not logged (Startpage is currently the only search engine that does not log IP addresses).
  • Other data like the anonymous search queries are deleted from the log files within a maximum of 48 hours, often sooner.
  • Startpage servers have been enabled to handle https requests using SSL (encryption available in most browsers).

Check the Startpage site itself for more information.

Link: https://startpage.com

-spxl

Once upon a time in London 16 November, 2008 at 4:43 am

This is an entry I’d started writing on Tue 28 October, but didn’t get around to completing until now, so mostly references a weekend three weeks ago…

Tuesday 28 October

It seemed to be quite chilly when I was out last night, and this evening, when a houseguest came inside, they announced that it was snowing outside. What?… I open the window to take a closer look outside, and sure enough… snow!

I guess it is time to go shopping for a warm jacket then. Especially since my last jacket was nicked a couple of months ago at the Notting Hill Carnival (or just after it, since the carnival was closed for the night at that stage).

Speaking of things getting nicked, I might recount a tale from Saturday night. I had a mind to write about it just after it happened, but instead became engrossed in playing with visuals and making some new videos. Put on your slippers and dressing gown, grab a blanket and come sit by the fire…

Shunned // Shunt

Saturday night, 25 October, I caught a bus down to London Bridge to check out the final night the Netaudio mini-festival at Shunt Bar. It had been running there the previous two nights without me knowing about it, and I was keen, from what I’d read it was about, to go. There was some warning about arriving early as the bar tends to get very busy, but I didn’t manage to get down there until a bit after 9pm. When I arrived I saw a queue. Walking, walking… where does it end? Woah, it goes around the corner and far beyond that. Eventually find the end, wondering if it was going to be a complete waste of time. Soon enough, one of the staff came down and said that, based on last night’s experience, queuing from around that point we could expect a three hour wait. Yes, three hours. And, given that they close the doors at 11pm (the bar itself closing 2 or three hours later), that essentially meant there was no chance of getting in at all.

Disappointment!

Well, what could he recommend nearby that might be somewhat similar? There’s nothing else anything like it, apparently (I’m not surprised, really), so I decided to head back to see what Shoreditch held in store.

Spacelapse // London Bridge

I decided that I would walk back to Shoreditch. A chance for some healthy exercise, even though it was a bit chilly, and reflection on why I hadn’t left the flat earlier to go to the Netaudio gig. Also hoping that I didn’t get lost, given that I didn’t have a map.

Crossing London Bridge, I decided to take a bunch of shots of the Tower Bridge and see if i could make a ‘spacelapse’ animation something like I have seen made by Dr.Mo. And so I’d take a long exposure (4 seconds) photo with the camera resting on the bridge’s railing, take a bunch of steps (about 8), and snap again. This tooka little while, and I had a few strange looks from people, but noone getting in my face or being aggressive, which is a good tradeoff. :o)

In the end, I’m not sure that the photos are of suitable quality, nor perhaps great enough quantity to make a decent animation, but I haven’t really played with it much to see for sure. A project to put on the back burner, I think.

Seeing the Light

It didn’t seem like too long before I was back at Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street Station, theh Shoreditch High Street. I didn’t know what was on or where I wanted to go, but had a general idea to check out some place(s) that I hadn’t been to before. One such place was The Light. Open. Plenty of people around. In I go. Seems to be a lot of (fumbling for right term) “classy”/snooty/suited/gold-digger-y people around in the bar on the ground floor. Perhaps nice to look at, but I didn’t attempt barging in on anyone’s conversation.

The music seemed irritating-less enough, so went upstairs to see where it was coming from. At the door I’m told that there are some private parties, but it is also open to the public for a fee. How much? Two pounds. Okay, I think I can deal with that. :o) The night is called Mediterraneo, though I’m not sure exactly what the Mediterranian connection was. The DJ had copies of a mix CDs scattered at the front of the booth for the taking, so I stashed one in my pocket before taking my stuff down to the cloak room.

Had a dance for a while, and a few beers (I’m still not overly keen on beer, but I don’t find it so terrible any more that I can’t drink it), and ended up chatting for some time with a guy who was evidently friends with the DJ (since he was behind the booth) about music production and I can’t remember now (three weeks hence) what about. I remember he was from eastern Europe, but can’t remember if he was Polish or from somewhere else.

Anyhow, had a nice enough time there, had a good dance, had a chuckle at a couple of trashy drunk girls doing crazy stuff all around the place, and all for not much more than the entry price might have been for the Netaudio festival. (Note: I have to talk it up else feel depressed about not getting to spend my tenner at the Netaudio festival!) And I’d finally seen the Light.

The Light is scheduled to be closed down, for redevelopment, I believe. There’s a big poster about saving the light in the downstairs bar.

Canadians + Kebabs // Hoxton

I was hungry well before leaving The Light, so was on a mission to find some food. I stopped by T-Bar to see what was happening – about to close, so continued on. Takeaway Chinese sounded good, so head over to the place on the corner where Great Eastern Street meets Old Street, thinking “honey chicken”… but finding they were about to close when I arrived, with a few measly scraps of stuff I wasn’t excited about, so left empty-handed. Made a decision to head back over to the Caltex / Somerfield minimart on Shoreditch High Street, but walking along Old Street decided to check out Hoxton Square on my way through. In that directin encountered a kebab shop and decided that food now was better than food later, so went in and queued for service. A couple of guys came in after me, and I ended up talking to them about the menu, wondering just what exactly an order of “meat and chips” would land us. It seemed like a “good idea”, since so far I’ve not been impressed by the pocket bread they seem to use here to house the “kebab”, only I wanted one of those big juicy peppers with it. I think that’s what I was after most, since my first encounter with them in kebabs when I was in Berlin last year…

Anyhow, kebabs, meat & chips, whatever, we were talking for a bit before deciding to exit the shop. I have a vague recollection of a someone walking past and asking us some strange question; we were all in some sort of take-the-piss mood and I think we confused them, even though it seemed their initial intent may have been to confuse us. It was three weeks ago now, so can’t remember really what that was about. One of the Canuks spied some girls and made a comment about “follow the legs”, so we parted ways. Shortly after I saw one of them giving a girl a piggy back down the road. Time for another chuckle.

Byron // Old Street

On my way home I encountered an Aussie who was looking for “Dalston Street”. He’d had a few drinks and was asking pretty much everyone he passed, saying he’d only been in town for a day. I didn’t know where Dalston Street was, but figuring it is in Dalston, thought I’d help him at least find the right bus to go there, especially since it was in the direction I was already walking and not far away.

Anyhow, this guy is from Byron Bay, and is staying with friends in London, just arrived the night before. Working or studying in Byron? Studying. At the SAE? How did you know?! .. It’s the only school I know of in Byron. Lucky guess. Talked briefly about the school, asking about whether they have the (multi-)media, 3D etc courses up there. Yep.

On to more important things – someone said to me not so long ago that Kinglsand High Street is notoriously dodgy. Not the whole area, just the corridor of the street where a large number of people pass through every day and night. I told Byron (I didn’t catch his name) about this, and he said he knew something about it, and that’s why his wallet was in his front pocket. Okay, good start. Anyhow, at the point where I was about to say ti him that if he sees anyone looking a bit strange in the area (we were on Old Street, near to Shoreditch High Street / Kingsland Road, at this point) to stay away from them, we were greeted/accosted by a group of four guys.

Artful Dodgers // Old Street

I still had my hands full, eating the “meat and chips” as I walked, and the meeting started with one of the group asking Byron “What’s your name?” Uh-oh… this is not something you expect to be asked by someone you’re just walking by on the street. Given what I was just abou to talk to Byron about, I was instantly suspicious. I was asked my name too, I think in a bid to keep me distracted. I was trying to keep an eye on what was going on with Byron and saw what appeared to be the leader of the group give him a big hug, reaching straight for Byron‘s back pocket – not into it, just feeling the outside to see if something was there. Oh, shit… I’m trying to ignore the guy who is more or less standing between me and Byron, being wary of him coming any closer or trying to touch me, still holding my dinner, but he is successful in distracting me enough that I can’t quite follow the action. I see the group leader hand Byron his phone – some sort of (intended to be seen as) playful/friendly gesture, and I knew there was a good chance that the phone wasn’t all he’d managed to get his hands on. Byron, still fairly drunk asked somehing like “Where’d you get that?” and might have even thanked the guy… I made my way closer, raising my voice saying “Come on, man, we have to go”, putting my hand on his shoulder and trying to physically drag him away. The group of guys let him go, and walked off towards Shoreditch High Street.

Now was my chance to tell Byron what I was about to say before we were interrupted, and suggest he check his pockets. Sure enough, his wallet was gone. Byron asked what to do. I didn’t really know, and suggested he could try asking for it back. Four gangsters vs. me and a drunk guy didn’t seem like good odds if there was any (more) trouble… Byron chased after them. Seemed like a bad idea at that moment. I checked my own pockets and continued walking along, hoping I didn’t have to make an emergency call to the ambulance and/or the police. Amazingly enough, when I caught up with Byron, he’d retrieved his wallet. He thanked me repeatedly, and found that his ID was still in there and either his credit card was still in it, or he’d left it at home, I’m not sure which (and I’m not sure if he was sure).

Anyhow, Byron stll needed to get home, so I continued on with him to the bus stop on Kingsland Road to find out what bus he should take. It started to rain when we were there, so I asked another passenger if they could try to guide Byron on to the bus, which they would be getting themselves. I had to assume Byron would know where to get off (I asked him, and he seemed to think so), and I had to dash home myself in the rain (using the foam takeaway pack as a tiny attempt at sheltering myself). As I went, I hoped that Byron didn’t get done over again before making it back to his friend’s house…

-spxl

NHS South Central – Fluoridation public consultation 15 November, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Water fluoridation has recently become a hot topic for me. I’m fron Sydney. Sydney and most major Australian metropolitan areas have an artificially fluoridated water supply. What does this mean? It means the “tap water” contains an added fluoride compound. I, like pretty much everyone else, grew up with the belief that fluoride was added to the water to keep your teeth healthy. That’s what it said on TV. That’s what the dentist said. Why should I question it?

Same reason as you should question anything really, and it perhaps seems strange that I hadn’t really questioned this particular thing before that I can think of.

Anyhow, as I said, Australia’s water supplies are (typically) fluoridated. As are many or most in the USA. I’m currently  living in the UK, and it isn’t the norm here. Yet. There are current proposals to introduce water fluoridation in to more areas. One such area is Southampton, and the NHS (National Health Service) is currently conducting a “public consultaiton” about it, inviting the public to express their views. I’ll note that the views are not considered as ‘votes’, so regardless of what the public has to say, the controlling body can still decide whatever it wants.

Given the massive bias in favour of fluoridation on their website, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what they might want.

I’m not a resident of the Southampton, but I decided to take some time out to fill in the Share your views response form anyway. Someone from the University of Birmingham is supposed to read it as part of an independent review. Meanwhile, I’m posting my answers here for everyone else to see. I haven’t corrected it (except where noted), but did add hyperlinks for your (and my!) convenience).

-spxl


Share your views

Have your say: what do you think about putting fluoride in the water?

In 2009 the Board of South Central Strategic Health Authority will decide whether it is a good idea to put fluoride in the water supply. They will base their decision on research evidence, surveys, expert guidance and feedback from local people. The consultation is not a ‘vote’ so the option with the most support will not necessarily be chosen. It is more important for the Board to understand the reasons for your views and the pros and cons of putting fluoride in the water. Please spend a few minutes to let us know what you think. Feel free to attach a letter or additional pages.

1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Leave blank if you do not know or have no opinion.

The consultation document describes the evidence in a clear way

Response: Strongly disagree

Adjusting the level of fluoride in the water supply will help improve dental health

Response: Strongly disagree

I support increasing the level of fluoride in the water supply up to one part per million

Response: Strongly disagree

2. What are the main reasons that you support or disagree with putting fluoride in the water?

Reason 1

Essentially forcing people to take a medication or medicament is completely unethical; placing fluoride in the water supply makes it extremely difficult to avoid. This fluoridation program has been expressly indicated for relief to areas of lower socio-economic background, and as such, many of the people, even if they do want to avoid exposure to fluoride (for example those who suffer acute toxicity) will find it virtually impossible.

Reason 2

Fluorides are known poisons, and have never been proven by valid scientific research to be safe for consumption nor topical use at any concentration. Fluoridated water has also never been proven by valid scientific research to decrease the incidence of tooth decay (dental caries). There is valid scientific research that shows an INCREASE in the number of dental caries in children with an increase in the level of fluoride (the exact opposite of the intended benefit of water fluoridation), and fluoride is known to have significant health risks, especially to children and infants, the very group this program is intended to help. Even if we were to believe that fluoride was safe and that water fluoridation does decrease the level of tooth decay, the proposed program to introduce water fluoridation in some areas does not cover even most of the at-risk children this program is supposedly targeted on (as discovered by Stephen Peckham, BSc., MA(Econ).). This raises the question of, even assuming water fluoridation works, what to do about the remaining large portion of this group in need of attention.

Reason 3

Fluoride at one part per million only specifies the concentration in the water supply, and says nothing of the dose administered to any given person. Nor does it take into consideration a person’s level of fluoride exposure due to other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride treatments from your dentist, fluoride in foods and in products such as baby formula. Even more alarmingly, the fabled “safe” 1ppm concentration is an “adult” strength which will be equally applied to children and infants. The 1ppm figure itself does not have any particular scientific basis – it is only thought to (or, more accurately, said to) provide enough “positive benefit” (keeping in mind no positive benefit has ever been proven) whilst keeping the incidence of undesirable “fluorisis” at around 10%. Even in that train of thinking, the 10% incidence of fluorisis is an underestimate, from evidence in areas that have introduced water fluoridation, and the number of people requiring expensive medical treatment for higher level fluorsis far outweighs the supposed cost reduction gained by introducing fluoridation in the first instance.

3. What are the main advantages and the main problems with putting fluoride in the water supply?

List any advantages, with most important at the top; List any problems, with most important at the top

Advantage 1

Some company/companies/persons will make a profit from dumping toxic waste into the water supply. Certainly an advantage for those involved, but not an advantage to the community.

Problem 1

Toxic waste will be dumped into the water supply. The chemicals used are not “pure” or in any sense “pharmaceutical grade” – the (already toxic) fluoride compounds put into water are often contaminated with lead, arsenic and other substances. Aside from the alarming health consequences from exposure to fluorides (from drinking water and other sources), fluorides are probably the most significant environmental pollutant; adding fluoride to the water supply is another form or source of fluoride pollution in the environment. The chemicals from water fluoridation tend to have negative impacts on infrastructure, leading to destruction of pipes and therefore additional costs and water supply problems.

Advantage 2

Fluoridating the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire will add weight to the argument, or public perception, of the safety and “normal” or “widespread” implementation of water fluoridation (and also the fluoridation of other products such as salt, milk, other foods and fluoride treatments), just as other existing examples of fluoridation are being used to justify the legitimacy of introducing fluoridation to the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire. This is an advantage to any company/companies/persons who might like to introduce (to profit from or otherwise) fluoridation in other areas and/or products, but not an advantage to the community.

Problem 2

Fluoridating the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire will add weight to the argument, or public perception, of the safety and “normal” or “widespread” implementation of water fluoridation (and also the fluoridation of other products such as salt, milk, other foods and fluoride treatments), just as other existing examples of fluoridation are being used to justify the legitimacy of introducing fluoridation to the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire. That is, the public perception of fluoride safety will be increased by the use or existence of fluoridation, absent of (and indeed contrary to) medical and scientific evidence. People will then, essentially, be a making medical desicions based on non-medical evidence, unwittingly endangering their health (and the health of those who otherwise object to fluoridation).

Advantage 3

Fluoridating the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire will, from historical evidence, probably increase the level of dental decay (or dental caries) in the local population (compared to not fluoridating the water supply and excluding other factors such as future increased education of access to dental treatment). This, and other adverse health efects, will be an advantage to companies/organisations/people who stand to profit from (or otherwise desire) an overall increase in the level of dental and other medical problems, supposing that the community will tend to insist that more be done to address the problem(s), but not an advantage for the community.

Problem 3

Fluoridating the water supply in Southampton and south west Hampshire will, from historical evidence, probably increase the level of dental decay (or dental caries) in the local population (compared to not fluoridating the water supply and excluding other factors such as future increased education of access to dental treatment). This is clearly in contradiction to the responsibility of the Southampton City Primary Care Trust, the organisation responsible for the health of the people in Southampton.

4. Are there any alternatives or things that health services should be doing to improve dental health?

Alternative 1

Improve access to dentists. Increase the number of dentists available to the community, and reduce the cost barrier. It is already known that access to dentists is a problem in the area, and there is no excuse not to address this problem. Almost by definition, children who don’t have their teeth checked are going to suffer from unchecked problems – if they (or the parents) are not initially made aware of the problem, the problem will almost certainly continue. Access to dentists could include the (re-)introduction of dental checks in schools so there is not additional burden for parents who might not have the time or other resources to make/attend dentist appointments.

Alternative 2

Improved education. The trend of reduction of the incidence of dental caries across the Western world has been much the same both in countries/areas that introduced water fluoridation and those that didn’t introduce water fluoridation. It is important also to note that areas that did have water fluoridation and have since stopped, did not then have an increase in the level of dental caries. The main reason for the reduction has been the increased education and awareness of dental hygiene, as well as access to dentists. Education includes not only how to properly brush/floss teeth, but also on the factors that damage teeth in the first place – notably sugar and acids, for example as found in soft drinks and many juices. The education needs also to be for the parents who supervise and care for their children and infants. The current education mentioned in the consultation document mentions “using a fluoride toothpaste”, the implication here being that the very fluoride in such toothpaste is a cause of dental problems. The rejection of water fluoridation should be a rejection of fluoride generally, especially from products for infants such as formula and baby food, both of which currently carry (in some cases) excess dosages of fluoride (under the current “recommended” dosage guidelines, noting that any fluoride at all should probably be considered excessive).

Alternative 3

Look to the health services of other European countries for advice on non-fluoride-based dental care.

Do you have any additional comments?

The information presented, both on the http://www.southcentral.nhs.uk/fluoridation/ (sub-)site and in the linked documents such as the “Water consultation fluoridation document” is extremely biased in favour of fluoridation, and cites particular favourable references that are themselves biased towards fluoridation and/or considerably dated and inaccurate.

The report, “Economic Implications of the Fluoridation of Water Supplies in Hampshire and Southampton City PCT“, is cited as “[a]n independent study, commissioned by the SHA to assess the impact on dental health of adjusting the level of fluoride”. Aside from the fact that it is not a medically based nor relevantly independent (disclaimers, “Abacus International is relying on data provided by South Central SHA”; “South Central SHA limited the scope”; it is an economic model: “By nature, Health Economic modeling is ‘assumptive'”), makes no claims as to the medical/scientific basis for water fluoridation, instead taking the given values for effectiveness of reduction of dental caries. The quoted estimate of preventing childhood decay in 36,032 “teeth” (that should be carious lesions) over a 20 year period at a cost of £11,526 (32 pence “per tooth”) is  for the a specific set of model inputs including “as estimated reduction in the incidence of carious lesions in the fluoridated area of 25%”. This is a gross misrepresentation of the report, since it is only one set of outcomes for the model.

The report’s conclusion states, “The primary driver of this analysis is the assumption that fluoridation of the water supplies in parts of Southampton City PCT and Hampshire PCT can reduce the future incidence of dental caries by 25% compared with the current level of caries incidence in Southampton City PCT.” There is no medical or scientific evidence to suggest that a 25% efficacy is supported. What else does the report say? “Reducing efficacy of fluoridation to 12%, reflecting [the] worst case scenario [supplied by South Central SHA], will result in a net cost to the NHS of £782,271 and a cost per carious lesion avoided of £45.23. The total number of carious lesions avoided is 17,296.”

Even a press release for the referenced York Review contains an admission that “water fluoridation does appear to reduce the incidence of caries (tooth decay), but it is smaller reduction than previously reported”. Later their press release indicates that they found “an average 15% reduction in tooth decay”. It is likely that the actual figure is significantly less, possibly zero.

The report’s closing words (before references, etc): “For the purpose of South Central decision making, Abacus would suggest to treat the economic picture as a cost neutral, with a potential downside of a net cost of £782k over 20 years and a potential upside of £226k dental health care cost savings.”

Overall, the report is meaningless in terms of whether or not dental decay will be reduced. It can only speak of the potential economic benefit (or additional cost) in certain cases where average efficacy is assumed.

The York Review, published in 2000, which the presented information appears to rely on heavily, claims “an average 2.25 less decayed missing and filled primary/permanent teeth amongst children living in fluoridated areas compared to non-fluoridated areas” , which is completely outrageous given that the average DMFTs for 12 year olds in many non-fluoridated countries at the present time is less than 2.

That particular example, in words taken directly from the FAQ on this site: (4.1) “Reviews of the evidence show that fluoridated water can increase the percentage of children free from tooth decay by around 15 per cent. The average decrease in the number of teeth that are decayed or filled or extracted in the studies examined was found to be 2.2 teeth.” (2.1) “The average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth for five year olds in Southampton is 1.76, compared with the national figure of 1.47.” Clearly the average of 1.76 in Southampton cannot be reduced by 2.2 to a figure below zero, and as such is complete nosense.

Another reference from the York Review: (2.1) [correction: FAQ 5.1 Is fluoride safe?] “Studies carried out by York University and the Medical Research Council systematically appraised and reviewed the scientific literature and found no evidence that fluoride added to water causes harmful side effects.” Later in the FAQ appears, (5.13) “In some developing countries where people are exposed to high levels of natural fluoride in the ground water – skeletal fluorosis is a widespread problem. Bones become weaker than normal and the bones of the legs can become deformed. Ligaments can get stiff and become less mobile.” This of course makes the first “implication of fact” (that there are no harmful side effects) glaringly disingenuous.

Fluoridation proponents often claim there is no scientific data to support claims of any ill health effects from fluoride. This claim is not true. On the flipside, there is no valid scientific data to support proponent’s claims of safety, nor of achieving the supposed dental health benefits.

It is true that a large number of dentists publicly support fluoridation, but this is likely to be more out of ignorance, or, for many, out of pressure to maintain that public support despite private reservations or objections – it is well known that dentists who have in the past spoken out against fluoride have been forced out of business. Note that is quite distinct from having any sort of rational argument; it is financial and political pressure with no sound medical or scientific basis.

Given that the purported economic costs are based on an efficacy (dictated by South Central SHA) of 25% reduction in the incidence of dental caries, and that the model, as stated in the report, is highly sensitive to the assumed estimated efficacy, if the actual efficacy is significantly less, then the proposal is a huge white elephant, at best. That is neglecting any negative health impacts that might be caused.

I will note at this point, the reference in the “Easy read” version of the consultation document, beside the photo of a man wearing a “Dentist” nametag: “Many dentists think putting fluoride in the water is a good idea”. There is no mention of “Many dentists think that fluoride is a poison that will make you ill and harms the environment.” Dentists and other health professionals have, in the past, been used to advertise all sorts of products, including cigarettes, and I find it deplorable that this depiction/propaganda (in particular) is being used against those possibly less able to understand the issues (I’m making an assumption about the target audience of the easy read document).

I do note, on a positive side, that admission of the source of the fluoridation chemicals is better than some other references (which completely deny that they are waste products of, for example, fertiliser manufacture). There is a link to “Hampshire Against Fluoridation” (http://hampshireagainstfluoridation.blogspot.com/) on the Useful Links page of the site under “Interest Groups”, but this seems a small consolation to the massive bias elsewhere throughout the site, links and related documents.

A little about you

We would like to know a little about you to make sure that we have the views of a wide range of people.

This section witheld for pricacy reasons.


Result page

Thank you for your response to the fluoridation consultation. All responses will be logged before being analysed independently by a team from the University of Birmingham. A final decision will be made by the Board of South Central Strategic Health Authority in February 2009.

If you would like to be informed of the decision made by the Board in February 2009, please send your e-mail address to fluoridation@southcentral.nhs.uk.

Cops and robbers 25 August, 2008 at 4:58 am

I went to Notting Hill this evening, ostensibly for the Notting Hill Carnival, but by the time I arrived the carnival had already finished for the day. I met up with the friend I went to meet, had something to eat and a chat with him and his friends, and afterwards we went into The Duke of Wellington on Portobello Road. It was crowded. Extremely crowded. Had been there for a while with my bag and a jacket on a table behind a couch against the wall in the corner, and left them there while I went outside for about a quarter of an hour to make a phonecall. Before the end of that call I’d mentioned that I’d hoped no-one had nicked my stuff, and was relieved to find it moved slightly, but still there. Five or ten minutes later, different story. Oh… no… don’t tell me…

Suffering from attachment. Attachment to the bag, which on days gone by traveled and journeyed with me to faraway places attached to my main backpack. Attachment to the jacket, which, while I didn’t really like it, served a purpose. Attachment to the stack of fliers I’d stickered and written on the night before, which I was going to give away of course, but had some intangible (and potential financial) value. Attachment to the £1.49 can opener that I’d bought last year in London, taken home to Sydney and brought back to Europe with me this year; on a few occasions it gave access to that basic necessity of food, and with that a small feeling of power and majesty. Attachment to the £3 mini tripod I’d bought for my camera at a computer fare off Tottenham Court Road; though I’d only used it a few times, it held so much potential. Attachment to the daggy emergency rain poncho that my mum had given to me as one of the many small items she thought I might need just before I left home for Europe last year. I drive her crazy sometimes, but in her own small ways she still tries to protect me. Attachment to the tiny bottle of Blink’n’Clean, which i don’t think I can reasonably leave home wearing contact lenses without, even though I often don’t use it while I’m out, and I knew I’d have to replace eventually. Attachment to the memories that are triggered by any and all of the physical objects that are now gone. In the bag was more than stuff, it was a connection to my past, to where I have been and to who I am. I’ve always been a hoarder, and I think I’ve just discovered why. I’m afraid of forgetting. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is an object worth? It is a picture, many pictures, and more.

It is a strange situation that the entire area of the carnival was teeming with police, but something basic like theft of personal belongings goes on regardless. I asked one of the several officers standing outside (some five or ten metres from the scene of the crime!) about reporting it and was given the location of an area designated for making reports, a few minutes’ walk away.

Before going there, I spoke to the manager at the bar and was surprised at how helpful he was. His opinion is that theft is really terrible, that taking other people’s things to sell for maybe a few pounds is really low. He took me up to the office to review the CCTV footage. Unfortunately, even though there was one camera facing that corner, it was too dark and far away to be able to reasonably make out details of who was there or what was going on. He took down my details, but I don’t think there’s anything more he can do.

I made a report at the special location then headed back towards the tube. The bar was just closing, so I had a quick look around inside to make sure my things weren’t on the floor somewhere – of course they weren’t, but it didn’t cost much to check. The main cost left was the fact that this fussing about meant that the tube had now closed and I had to find another way home. The P.C. who took my report called to let me know that he’d entered the report into the system, give me a reference number and ask for a couple of more details. The police here seem to be mostly polite and helpful where they can be.

There was a long queue in the Biegel shop in Brick Lane on my way home. All I wanted was a sausage roll, and I had to have an argument with the guy who’d jumped the queue in front of me. Somewhat by accident, perhaps, but his explaination to his friend that it was better I be let in front because I was angry (about the theft) belied the fact that he was the person who was being unreasonable in the first place.

Good news when I arrived home – I’d asked SCEEN Magazine about how to obtain a copy of issue #2 and they wrote back to me to say how (and that i can get it delivered to London). Yay! More good news that a Couchsurfer in Linz can host me for the duration of the Ars Electronica Festival next month. Double yay! I also have an email from Unity Selekta about some tracks to practice with for Mind! – even though it is ‘work’, it is still good news. Oh, and I left out that just the fact that my home is still here and it hasn’t been robbed is good news! My laptop is still here (typing on it now) and iPod, left on the table in my room, and I’m supposing everything in my pack, which is (unlike the day bag taken from the bar) locked and cable-attached to the wall… there seems to be a little bit of inconsistency in my managing of security!

-G.

Sweet, sweet eye candy 11 August, 2008 at 2:37 am

From the What’s Cooking? department…

I’ve been to a couple of VJ events this week: the vjlondon.org meetup on Wednesday at T-Bar, and Immersion (a live experimental electronic music + visuals gig) on Thursday in The Flea Pit. I’ll mention that it’s great now living in Shoreditch, as both these venues are only a short walk away from my flat! :o)

Back to the story… it has occurred to me on more than one occasion that I will probably want (need?) to get into 3D at some point, and at these two events I saw some nice interactive 3D animation by pixelpusher (Evan Raskob), an earlier version of which can be seen in the video from the previous post (London VJ Meeting, Wed 9 July at T-Bar). I’m talking about the kinetic squiggles (which are input as gestures via his digital tablet) which zoom around. Evan had been working on this simple idea since last meetup, upgrading it from 2D only to 2D and 3D (combined), allowing multiple gestures to be loaded up as a set before “launching” (these are my own terms, I don’t know what Evan calls them!). I’ll have to clear some space on my Laptop (or get hold of another external drive – the one I brought with me from Sydney is out of reach at a friend’s house while they are at the Boom! festival in Portugal!) to upload the video I took at the event, and until then all I can say is that it looked quite amazing. That particular visual is produced in Processing from processing.org. I haven’t had much of a play with it just yet, but it looks promising! From the home page:

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain.

I’ve also had a word in my ear from Dr Mo about XNA the last couple of times we’ve met. I’d had the idea that I might use DirectX to build my own visuals engine at some point, and Mo’s feedback is that XNA is nice to work with, especially as the coding is done in C#.

I found myself installing the XNA Game Studio last night and discovered there is a free 3D modeling package: Truespace 7(.6) from Caligari. Upon further investigation I see that Caligari (or at least this product) is now owned by Microsoft, hence the plug from XNA. I remember the name “Caligari 4D”, and think it may have even been one of the packages available back in the day of the Amiga.

In any case, this eventually ends up in looking at videos of 3D animations, and this excellent example appears in Vimeo Staff’s Choice Picks:


Interstellar Sugar – Suryummy from Suryummy on Vimeo.

It reminds me of stuff done by the demoscene crew Farbrausch. If you like Suryummy’s video, you should check out the stuff that Farbrausch pump out in real-time!

Of course this video was created with software other than TrueSpace. Suryummy lists in a comment: maya, adobe*3, particular, live, reactor, absynth.

There is talk on the London Electronic Music Meetup (EMM) group about an Ableton Live DJ Workshop on a Saturday some time soon. I saw Live being used at Funckarma’s Dubstoned ep launch in London, but it wasn’t a “live” set, it was a DJ set, using Live. I want to know more… about using Live generally, but also because I know it has some sort of capability for triggering visuals. I have a project to work on with a DJ here in London, Unity Selekta, to produce visuals for his gigs, and I think I’m going to need some sort of sequencer. Live may be that sequencer.

-G.

h4x0r3d 16 July, 2008 at 10:09 am

Someone’s been playing games with me, and I’m a little concerned about how far it’s gone. I had to cancel my credit card a month or so ago after noticing a suspicious transaction to an online gaming site – contacting the site operator by phone I discovered that the account associated with my credit card number was under investigation, and was given the recommendation to contact my bank and the police. Oh, joy. It’s amazing how inconvenient things start to become when you don’t have access to things like your credit card – going to Spain later that week was virtually out of the question; I couldn’t even reserve a bed in a hostel on the net or over the phone. Sheesh!

I don’t know how someone managed to get hold of my details – it could have been from using my card in a shop, but I think I booked a bus ticket to Bristol using my credit card from an internet cafe in London, and maybe there was a keylogger installed or some other dodgy happening there, and that seems the most likely place (to me). My bank almost insisted that it was probably an unconnected someone out in the wild trying random credit card numbers… the fact that I was in London and the online gaming company was London based seems like too much of a coincidence to me.

In any case… however it happened, it happened. What I noticed today was something different – an index.html page on my webserver had mysteriously been replaced by a .phtml page, with an identical appearance but also a chunk of PHP script that had references to some dodgy-sounding porn domain. What the bleep is that about? And how did it happen? I immediately reverted the page to a regular .html file and removed the script, and sent a support query to my web host letting them know what I had discovered. I also asked if they could audit my logins and/or suggest an exploit in some installed PHP applications that might have been used. They, of course, recommended that I change my administration and FTP passwords (good idea!), and I while looking for the page to change the password noticed that there is a section in the administration panel that displays the IP addresses of your recent logins. All the recent logins were the same (I’ve been logging in from a hotspot in my hostel) except for one: an IP address belonging to a server in America: 209.67.214.58 (mariolet.servidorlatinoamerica.com). I wrote to servidorlatinoamerica.com and they replied:

thank you for your communication.
the server with hostname mariolet.servidorlatinoamerica.com
is not active, is a hostname that is not within our network server
However, find out the reason for your report

again, thanks for communicating and thank you communicate if you have more information on this subject

Si tienes alguna duda, solo háganoslo saber y responderemos en el mas breve tiempo.

Sin otro particular, quedamos a la espera de vuestra noticias y aprovechamos la ocasión para saludarlos.

Att

Strange. Maybe there’s a hacker inside their network? Maybe someone is able to fake their IP? Maybe the information from the administration panel is wrong?… Whatever the case, it’s bad. Bad I say! Bad in a way that is making me grumpy because it looks like I’m going to have to change ALL my passwords from accounts that I have used recently, and that is more than a little inconvenient.

A note to friends and contacts: if you see some strange, unexpected email, especially with some sort of unusual attachment, bin it. I don’t generally send programs and such – it just doesn’t make sense. Practice good email hygiene!

-G.