Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

The Samaritans Radar app – the problem is right there in the name.

I am distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of a system to alert people to any mental health related terms that I have not consented to.

I would be supportive of an opt-in system, where people who might know they are likely to have crisis moments might set something up to alert certain trusted friends and family, and having Samaritan volunteers contactable through twitter in the first instance makes a lot of sense.

I strongly suspect that this is a very well intentioned, but very poorly thought through system.


**This entry is about the Samaritans Twitter app and has brief references to stalking and suicide**

It’s always been assumed that in large organisations, the higher-ups don’t really know what the lower-downs are doing and decisions often get made that leaves those who do the work shaking their heads at what’s going on.

Full disclosure: I used to be a Samaritans volunteer. I worked on the phone line, the email and face to face. I did this for roughly three years. Samaritan volunteers get very good training on how to do their job.

Today the Samaritans released information about a new app – the Samaritans Radar. It’s designed to monitor the tweets from the people the app-user follows on Twitter and flags up any Tweets with specific key words and phrases  that might be concerning, and reports them to the app-user. At first glance a nice way to make sure…

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A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism.’


Imagine this:

The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.

Your world is full of freedom and possibility.

Then you…

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Today at the shops I got… (a grudge against a dangerous driver)

Today I will nominate a black Vaxhaull Astra driver (see edit at bottom) for cunt of the week. Please read at least the last paragraph to see if you can help me find them, and the rest to see why you should.

I cycle about 120 miles a week at the moment, and always wear a helmet. This evening to do a 3 mile round trip I didn’t bother. Whether that’s a really good thing I don’t really know.

I had just down a short steep hill, onto a flatter but still downhill bit. I was going straight on. A black Astra was coming up the road, and turning right across my path. It stopped as we approached, I assumed because I clearly had right of way and no way would it get safely across me. All good so far.

But then, having stopped and held for a second, it went to turn. I was a few metres and carrying speed. I slammed on the anchors, and it’s a bit of a haze from there. I remember lying on the road seeing my blood coming from my head. I remember a part of me screaming at me to get up – get either safe or ready. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t even get to my hands and knees. I couldn’t see properly, I couldn’t focus, and not just because my glasses had come off.

I remember seeing three cars pulled in in the moments after – the black Astra (I think, partly because that’s what another witness said it was), one woman who I think saw it called Nicole, and a couple who saw me lying in the road and decided to help out. Nicole, the witness, phoned the police. Kathryn was, luckily, a first aider and a good bosser-abouter, and so as I regained composure she checked my neck wasn’t broken and got me to the pavement. Her husband, whose name I didn’t get took my bike back to mine and told my wife that I’d fallen off.

The black Astra vanished. I assume they saw me bleeding from my head and face, and unable to get up. Because of them. And they left.

The ambulance people and coppers were great. I was in A&E for a while, but I was awake, responsive and clearly not in too much pain, so I perfectly understand that I wouldn’t be top priority. My doctor was young looking, but very pleasant and reassuring, and I’m assuming competent. The nurse was no-nonsense and a bit bossy – she kept telling me to get off my phone – which is perfect for the Saturday night drunk shift. After X-ray showed a fractured arm but nothing else, I have an appointment in the fracture clinic tomorrow morning.
So today when I went to the shops I got the inability to train for a big charity bike ride, a cancelled first wedding anniversary weekend, twisted handlebars, a smashed set of prescription Oakleys, a few stitches in my left eye socket, a badly grazed knee and shoulder, superglue in my head, massively swollen and tender but not broken back and ribs, and a fractured arm, and a serious desire to have words with the driver of a particular black Astra. I count myself lucky.


They started straightImage

Update – I have managed to claim for my bike and prescription sunglasses on insurance now, so I’m thankfully financially square except my excess and loss of no claims.

The witness seems to have said it was a Mondeo when asked the next day, which I’m sure is wrong. It was a small/medium black car, not a family saloon.

It seems that there is no cctv of the incident itself, and I don’t think there has been any joy in identifying the car responsible.

However, thinking again about my injuries and having heard snippets of the witness reports, I clearly hit the car, and fairly hard. I have badly bruised spine and ribs, and minimal scratching, which is clearly impact.

So THAT means that somewhere out there is a black small/medium black that took some damage on Saturday evening, probably to the left hand side, and probably to the rear.

If you have noticed any cars that this fits – and I am not at all confident of the make /model – please let Lancaster police know on 01524 63333, or you can contact me.


The Met – stealing clothes from the cold and food from the hungry?

I have just sent something through to the Met via their online feedback, based on this story, in which police officers took blankets, sleeping bags and food from homeless people. The justification apparently given by Ilford Chief Inspector John Fish being:

“The public rely on police to reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers, this includes the need for us to assist in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”


I naturally want to know a little more about this, because it seems at first horrific. So I have tweeted the Met a couple of times, and have now sent the following.


Hello all at the Met.

I saw a news story that said that said that officers had taken bedding and food from homeless people. I first read it here . Could you confirm what happened here, what the motive for this was, and what the supporting laws are? Will the items be logged and returned to their owners, and if so under what conditions?

Could you also confirm the quotes given in that story?



I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Optimist On Tour poster

Hello all. Here is the poster for the next Lancaster Skeptics in the Pub – please feel free to print this out and stick it wherever you’re allowed.

Remember, this has had to move to Monday 25th, and will kick off slightly later than usual, at about 8.15

Thanks, and see you there!

Mark Stevenson poster

Martin Robbins poster

Hello all,

I have done the new poster for the next Lancaster Skeptics talk with Martin Robbins about Bad Science in Africa. Please feel free to print this out and stick it up anywhere you are allowed! As ever, I am finding it difficult to get the time to do this myself, but will try to get as many out as possible over the next week or so.

I saw an earlier version of this at London SitP, and am really looking forward to this. This is upstairs at The Park Hotel, Lancaster on Sunday 27 May.

See you there!Image

NHS Pledge

As I suggested in my previous post, I am going to be contacting MPs and parliamentary candidates to ask them to pledge to repeal the Health and Social Care Bill. To keep track of this, I have started a new blog at to keep track of any responses I get. I might even tweet at @NHSpledge as news comes in.

If you get in touch with your MP and get a response, please let me know, and I will try to keep track of it all there.