Sunday, 19 April 2015

Good news! WHO calls for results from all trials to be reported

A bit belated but good news worth sharing nonetheless. From Ian Bushfield at Sense About Science, and as reported in Science and other media sites:

For the first time ever, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken a position on clinical trial results reporting, and it’s a very strong position! The WHO now says that researchers have a clear ethical duty to publicly report the results of all clinical trials. Significantly, the WHO has stressed the need to make results from previously hidden trials available. Ben Goldacre said, “This is a very positive, clear statement from WHO, and it is very welcome.” Ilaria Passarani from the European Consumer Organisation BEUC called it “a landmark move for consumers.” It is the position we and hundreds of you wrote to the WHO last autumn urging them to adopt. Well done everyone!

You can read more about the WHO’s statement and responses to it on the AllTrials website.

Further reading: Goldacre B (2005): How to Get All Trials Reported: Audit, Better Data, and Individual Accountability. PLoS Medicine 12(4): e1001821.

What happened on April 15/16? (And more dodgy Blogger stats)

My blog is a fairly modest affair that gets around 500 pageviews a day - mostly of old posts. However, this week has seen a rather unexpected spike in activity:

What happened on the 15th of April? It seems to be something to do with MacBook Air storage expansion, as that’s the post that seems to have the lion’s share of pageviews this week:

The odd thing is that in the detailed stats view, the peak of views is on the 16th. More dodgy Blogger stats it seems. Clearly unimportant but if anyone knows what’s going on (in either case), I’d be interested to hear!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Love chocolate? Love ice cream? Love coffee? You'll love a Magnum Espresso!

I do like good chocolate, ice cream and coffee. What could be better, then, than something tasty that combined all three‽ Behold! The Magnum espresso

Magnum vanilla ice cream is not spectacular but it is good - and surrounded by really good dark chocolate. (It makes me wonder whether you can just buy bars of the stuff.) Stick in some swirls of coffee syrup and you’ve got a winner. It’s chocolate with a splash of coffee, rather than coffee with a splash of chocolate - so don’t be too disappointed if you are after COFFEE!

According to their Facebook page, it’s a limited edition. I hope its not too limited!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Easy (and delicious) slow cooker beef chilli

Autumn has arrived in Sydney and with the dropping temperatures - we sometimes need two layers now! - there is an increased desire for warm, comforting food. We’ve therefore been seeking out recipes that are either made or can be adapted for the slow cooker. Today’s was an adaptation from a recipe for shredded chilli beef. (It was too yummy to remember to take a nice photo once dished up, so a photo of the pot will have to do!)


  • About 1kg beef chuck steak, cut into pieces and large bits of fats removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 690g jar passata (plus/minus) + water (see below)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tins of red kidney beans


  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in the oil. Our slow cooker has a “sear” function, so I used that. If feeling lazy, I’m sure you can skip this step.

  2. Lightly fry the onions to soften. Again, I used the slow cooker “sear” function.

  3. Bung everything except the kidney beans in the slow cooker. Use a bit of water (50-100 ml, maybe) to get as much of the passata out of the jar as possible.

  4. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

  5. Drain and rinse the kidney beans before adding around half an hour from the end. (My slow cooker had already flicked to "keep warm" so I added them and put it back on low whilst the cornbread was baking.)

  6. Serve with Firecracker cornbread and sour cream. (My wife made the cornbread, so I can’t brag about that.) It was also be good with rice, tortilla chips, or just about anything of that ilk.

Easy and delicious!

Edit: as I almost did in life, I forgot the kidney beans!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Beware of fusion when drying your face with a hand-drier

The hand-dryer in the bathroom of a restaurant we went to recently:

I’m not sure what “fusion” is but it sounds scary. (The drier wasn’t strong enough to make be believe it was nuclear powered.) Who knew it could be so DANGEROUS! (Personally, I close my eyes if I ever stick my face it hot air but maybe that's just me.)

It may have been Australian made but I am not convinced that it was Australian proof-read.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Connecting to an AWOL bluetooth mouse on Mac OSX

If you are like me, you sometimes turn your Apple Magic Mouse off when leaving your computer unattended for a while. The problem is that sometimes it does not seem to want to connect again when you turn it back on. What to do? Without a mouse, how do you open the mouse preferences to reconnect?

One option is obviously to attach some other kind of pointer - a trackpad or USB mouse - and use this. But (a) you might not have one to hand, and (b) that’s rather labour intensive. So, instead, use the keyboard shortcuts:

1. In Finder (use cmd+tab to cycle through to Finder if other applications are open), use shift+cmd+a to open the Applications folder.

2. Select System Preferences using the arrow keys. You might need to tab into the window first. Hitting t will jump you to the first T… application, then just use the up arrow.

3. Open System Preferences with cmd+o.

4. Hit tab to enter the Search box and start typing mouse. The Mouse icon will get highlighted. Hit enter to open.

5. After a few seconds of looking, your bluetooth mouse should be found. Hit enter to connect. Job done!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Lack of religious discrimination should start with schools

A modern society has to be a secular one. A secular society is not an atheist society; it is a society in which no one gains undue favour or faces discrimination due to their religious beliefs - or lack thereof.

According to the British Humanist Association:

1.2 million school places in England and Wales are prioritised for young people whose parents are of a particular religion, which is more than the total number of places at grammar schools and private schools combined. The law permits ‘faith’ schools to discriminate in all sorts of ways, including in admissions and employment, which has been shown to contribute to social segregation in communities up and down the country.

Religious discrimination is bad enough. What’s even worse, is that some schools seem to be using their ability to select students to discriminate against students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. It’s not clear whether this is direct or indirect discrimination but given the general negative correlation between wealth and religiosity, it is hard to see how it could be accidental. Either way, it’s clearly not good.

To combat this discrimination, the Fair Admissions Campaign has been established.

Are you facing the prospect of your child being unable to gain admittance to your local school, because of religious selection? Or have you had to game the system in order to get them in? Are you happy to live in a society in which children are discriminated against on these grounds, while parents feel compelled to behave in this manner?

This situation is clearly unfair, and that’s what we’re here to challenge. We are a new campaign that is supported by a wide coalition of individuals and national and local organisations, aiming to tackle the single issue of religious selection in school admissions.

Happily, many organisations - including religious ones - are supporting this campaign. Religious selection as a basis for education has to end.

Religions already have tax-exempt institutions in which they can try to influence the minds of the innocent. They do not need schools as well. If you live in the UK, please support the campaign.