Tuesday, September 30, 2014

At the Royal Society to find out what causes psychosis.. (yeah right)

Yesterday evening I took (another) outing to the hugely impressive Royal Society with the hope of finding out a bit more about   psychotic disorders and their causes.

A fair amount of interest
The speaker was  Dr James Kirkbride  who is carrying out research around the topic. James spoke about the subject, the challenges and a number of questions were fielded.

 Psychosis has multiple causes and is characterised by a loss of contact with reality it can range  from minor hallucinations through to disorders such as schizophrenia, the symptoms are wide-ranging and diverse.  .

Psychosis is a major problem for those suffering the affects and for the economy. In the UK the cost is reckoned to be something like £12 Bn per year in total including costs  of lost working hours and support to sufferers.

The research being undertaken is looking at environmental and social causes.

Here's some points I noted:

 Ethnic grouping suggests that immigrants are more prone to suffer, in the UK this is seen in Sub Saharan African and Afro Caribbean West Indians there are also statistically significant more women from Pakistan and Bangladesh  than would be expected.

This grouping might be connected with the environmental conditions of immigrants as the numbers of Psychosis cases in their original country are similar to the UK norm, also the immigrant groups affected in other nations vary (i.e. the immigrant groups similarly  affected in Italy are from different countries).
A rapt audience listens to the speaker

Heavy use of recreational drugs (and heavy alcohol use) can cause an increase in the incidence of  psychosis.

The biggest factor appears to be inheritance.

The 'urban environment' is also a risk factor but cultural cohesion and support  within the community can help reduce this risk.

Psychosis can result in reduced Life expectancy  by as much as 10 years.

Various questions were asked including:

Q  How is the incidence measured?
A  Large data sets and deprivation indices are used as well as UK census data.

Q Is psychosis seen in animals?
A Experiments have been conducted with rates where they were living in 'tower blocks'

Q Does ethnic factor remain across successive generations?
A Difficult to tell using UK census data.

Q What additional data do we have regarding the links from cannabis and other drugs?
A THC (in some cannabis) has an effect on pathways in the brain.

Q is there a climatic factor?
A Some believe that Vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate the effect.

Q Has  the incidence of  psychosis increased 
A it has broadly remained at the same as a percentage of the population -although as a result of changes in reporting particular 'flavours' (perhaps designed to limit stigma) the diagnostic trends may have altered.

Q does abuse increase likelihood of  psychosis?
A Helen Fisher has done work around this

and for me what was very enlightening was that for those suffering from  Psychosis who were hearing voices scans of brain activity showed that the same areas of the brain were active as those responding to 'real'  aural stimuli.

It was good to hear from James that treatments do show some benefits to sufferers some of whom are able to return to work and near normal functionality.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ealing update - the noisiest coffee shop.

The people of Ealing are able to enjoy various things chiefly cited in their 'My Ealing' in The Ealing Gazette as 'a thing they like about the borough'  is the green spaces but they're also spoiled for places to eat and drink coffee.

Well after having a look at how Turtle Bay and Limeyard  (funny how Maggies and Bill's opened at around trhe same time too) are doing we decided to have a hot beverage in what used to be a Costa Coffee and is now Patisserie Valerie.

 I suppose it's something of a luxury to have waitress service but there's not much of a change in the layout since the Costa days and the place is incredibly noisy, I don't know if it's the hard surfaces or the lack of any masking noises but after being there about 20 minutes or so my ears were ringing.

Anyway the experience wasn't great and it'll be some time before I venture there again.
Turtle Bay - nearly ready
Limeyard- Ealing now open for business

Other features of the weekend were

The Ealing Half Marathon which I understand went well although during the road closures people did get a bit confused and tried to use back-streets to minimal effect.
Confused drivers.

Also in nearby 'the Avenue' first regular Antique Market had a good day for its premier.

 [Don't forget that if you like my photo's do follow me on twitter #tjbourne there's generally one or two each day]
What you got Cowboy?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ealing History - The Drayton Court Plus old Brown Shoe Part two

Last week I went for a pleasant drink at what I suppose is my local Pub, there's scaffolding up there as the exterior is being a once over.

It's nice to see that one of Ealing’s most historic pubs is being kept properly preserved  but what a shame that it like so many other historic landmarks in the borough does not commemorate its history more.

The Drayton's a great pub and we've been to the comedy nights there fairly recently - Phil Z MC and organiser generally gets a good attendance with a strong bunch of performers each month.

Ho Chi Minh who led South Vietnam in the war against the USA  in the 1960s was said to have been employed as a Kitchen porter there  100 years ago.”

I reckon that there's an opportunity for Ealing to make more of it's past  with a focus on Tourism and things to see- a Tourist Information bureau in on of the many shops might help and volunteer guides for walks etcetera.
The amount of filming for TV and cinema in the borough would make an interesting walk for sure.
A nice pub to have as a 'local'.
[If you like my photo's do follow me on twitter #tjbourne there's generally one or two each day]

Old Bown Shoe

As well as a nice 'George'  Beatles song it's for me a short personal saga.

I was really please to find my missing shoe on the plot next to mine - I guess the fox realised it wasn't that good to eat or play with and I'll try and keep it in a place where they can't reach it from now on.
Hello old friend on Plot 204

Friday, September 26, 2014

Photo's from London's Southbank

Earlier in the week I was out in the early evening around Waterloo Station - it's (to my mind) very photogenic and I felt a little like a kid in a candy store as I snapped away.

Here's a selection from the pictures I took.

First around the railway Station..
This reminds me of the 'Artists
Impressions'of a 'new' development
and Pink Floyd circa Wish you
Were Here

 From the  bridge to the Southbank

After the station I walked towards the river, the sun at this time  of year casts a golden glow on The Shell building and the reflections from the London Eye can be bewitching too.

A warm sun lights up the Shell building

A Pod on the London Eye

As I walked along the river I saw the 'cultural life' books for sale and rides to be taken it was almost like the left bank in Paris.
I'll go on of you do
Any Jean-Paul Sartre?
finally the musicians and performers who bring so much to the place..

[If you like my photo's do follow me on twitter #tjbourne there's generally one or two each day]

The singer Susana Silva a great performance 
Gimme a beat..

A Magician
And here's the route-map the camera generated via GPS

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RTS/IET IBC Review at IBM Southbank and a missing shoe

Well I thought I'd get my cards on the table with a bunch of letters- I'm a member of the IET and long term RTS supporter too.

[The IET is the Institute of Engineering and Technology and it means I can legitimately put IET after my name and the RTS is the Royal Television Society]

Nick at IBM prior to his chairing of the event.
Many times I've visited the IBC even as far back as Brighton days
[The IBC is the International Broadcast Convention an exhibition and convention around the Broadcast Industry held in Amsterdam every year].

The RTS London holds talks through the year and its programme starts in September generally with a review of developments observed by  attendees at the convention - This year the review was chaired by the Broadcast Journalist Nick Radlo.

Here's a quick run through of the contributors to the review and their contributions.
Let's start the show

Vali Lalioti was the first speaker, and I'd like to point out that she was well qualified to speak as both a technologist (PhD) and a businesswoman (MBA) who had attended the IBC.

Vali identified four products:

1) Holodeck (as seen in Star Trek she told us) this is something called Free viewpoint Television and was brought to us by Hideyoshi Horimai.

It's about other ways of experiencing TV the hope is that by 2016 for the next Olympics you'll be able to see the swimming events in the floor of your living room (a well immersive experience one would imagine).

2) Venue Explorer
This was a method of using the UHD (4K) type image capture to enable viewers to get more from the image - you can zoom in on a tablet or smartphone and get extra data too - It's a BBC initiative and Vali showed us some of her chat with Rebecca Gregory-Clarke of BBC R&D.

3) Antelope -Polecam -this was a high speed camera  (around 350 frames per second of capture) aimed at Sports coverage it can give instant replay showing what one might miss with normal capture , Steffan Hewitt was caught on camera (at normal rate) by Vali and spoke about how it was now able to be used underwater too. Interestingly the topic of co-operative working was brought up too.

4) Vahana VR
This was a development that a cameraman/skier  (and he's a mathematician too) had developed after seeing a need. His name was Nicolas Burtey and the 'product:  it's like the panorama/stitch you can apply on your digital stills photos only it's live and driven by 6 cameras to give you a 360 degree experience - this'll be a winner no doubt you can see an example here

Next up reviewing was David Austerberry who's a technical commentator he spoke about trends , the IP connected world which included Ericsson's acquisition of Mediaroom, the integration of the viewing experience across devices (which didn't seem to new to me), Cisco's connected life (creepy he said), he also highlighted the new focus on quality beyond just quantity in pixels exemplified by  ideas such as the Dolby High Dynamic range.
David mentioned too how LED lighting including that which uses  Quantum Dot Technology (very flexible)   is now very widely  adopted even in very traditional companies.

The third speaker was the RTS young technologist award winner Bobby Moss from BT,

Bobby was enthused by speakers he saw  including; Dr Brian Cox (who spoke about BBC and Public Service Broadcasting) and Matt Brittin  (of Google) who spoke about of course Youtube.
Bobby identified augmented reality as the aspect to watch in the future.

The final speaker on IBC review was Simon Gauntlet of DTG, Simon spoke about the UHD and Higher Frame rates but his clear message was that there was still a gap and work to be done around Search and Discovery -as media becomes more pervasive an effective application to find what we want and enabling us to easily manage it is pressing.
IBM - a new venue for RTS London

All in  all a very good evening which gave a great feel for the new (er) trends and products in Broadcast (and by the way- IBM thanks for the the chance to be in  the venue ).

Old Brown Shoe

Bit saddened to learn that some of our allotment sheds have again been broken into, I seem to have been spared this time unless it was a one legged thief .
My guess is though that a fox has (again) nicked one of my gardening shoes from the greenhouse.

Limited use now

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Further) Ways into Philosophy

Yesterday I was reminded how challenging (for me anyway) the subject of Philosophy is.
On your bike near the Holborn City Lit HQ

I reckon that Philosophy is a subject much neglected educationally and nt just in the UK, it's not that it isn't taught but it seems that those who are exposed to it are often something of an elite - unlike religion it is not universally acknowledged as being significant (whichj I think it is).

At City Lit Holborn three session on Philosophy are taught  per year (in as far as it can be) earlier in the year I joined the module Ways into Philosophy : Great Thinkers which used a Bryan Magee TV series of the 1970s as a starting point, this module is Ways Into Philosophy Key Themes and it uses the Thomas Nagel 'What does it all mean?' book.

The Nagel book I found very interesting and subsequently I have been told that it is quite layered so am looking forward to further analysis of it.

One of the chapters in the book (the penultimate) is entitles Death and I found the subject covered to by a Stephen Cave Ted Talk which again caused me to reflect. (you can see the speech on-line and here's the transcript)

One of the pleasures of attending a 'physical' course is the dynamic of the group, let's face it the same pleasure is not available via the virtual experience of on-line and distance learning I'm already enjoying the company of the like minded souls (I guess) who are intrigued by the area of study.

Although soe classroom learning takes place we are supported via electronic means with a Moodle capability.

I was delighted to find the course is (as before on my previous session) led by Scott Biagi who is well organised but manages to make the running of the group appear almost effortless - very impressive.

Some handouts were provided and one was 'Maxims for doing Philosophy' - it's not a special offer at the restaurant but some things (short and pithy I'm told) you'll observe - pleased to see that the one I came out of the class with this week was there..

Defining the word is the whole problem

Hyde Park

Here's a commemorative stone and the words it holds from a meander I took in Hyde Park.

A very physical presence in Hyde Park near the Serpentine
And the words written.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Serpentine without Marina (shame I say)

Well a good friend of mine has pointed out that Marina Abramović  has already been featured fairly heavily in Private Eye's Pseuds Column so I'll get into  the Zone and mention that today I visited the Serpentine P.M.  (and that's  Post Marina and a  very different time).
Outside the Sackler

 First stop today was the Sackler and I've often not enjoyed the exhibitions there but this time the artist was Llanelli  born Cerith Wyn Evans (who I' embarrassed to say I didn't know was a man) -this is an artist I'm new to but quite a blend of influences I would say, textual, literate and audible are all adjectives one can (this one anyway) attribute to him.

A small extract -and a tiny flavour

I felt a touch of the Dan Falvin's about some of the work with illumination(?) but found the lyrical nature of the deployed prose had a touch of the  Japanese about it  - gentle and quite evocative.

Cerith is doing a little of the arthouse film curating at Gate Picturehouse if you're interested.

In contrast with the Wyn-Evans display I found that (on first encounter) the Trisha Donnelly at the Serpentine Main (if I can call it that) was not easy to relate to, quite cold and monochrome and all projections without any explanations as far as I could see- looking at the review here -it could be (as is often the case) that   I've missed more than I saw.

Beam me up - It's actually  the  Serpentine Pavilion

Monday, September 22, 2014

Plot 202 tidying and painting

The peak of many crops is now over - only the odd courgette and cucumber now along with a couple of strawberries .
Celery has done well.

Pumpkins, Grapes, Celery, Rhubarb  and Tomatoes (loads) this weekend and a few more potatoes. (Wait I hear you say What can you do with pumpkins?)
Plenty of Pumpkins

More dead mice removed from the water butt- it seems to be that there regularly falling in not sure if it's when they try and nick nuts from the bird feeder or just generally running about will try and limit the access to the top to give them more of a chance -seems they do this on other plots.
The cover- Let's hope it saves a mouse or two

While the sun is still shining I'm protecting the shed and other wooden structures as well as  adding extra bolts on the Greenhouse to makes sure it can withstand winds and storms.

A handle to help with the door

Making good for the winter - looks tidier (for a while) 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Open House London

"wouldn't it be lovely?"
It has long been  recognised that the built environment has an effect on how we feel and behave.

The way that many of us who live in cities is evolving with changing family structures where more and more people work from home at least part of the time it bound to change what we need.

An  increasingly  aging population wants different things from the accommodation where they spend much of their life as they physically change.

Energy prices and pressures have changed the view on what is acceptable for heat loss .

Nick Baker explains a little about his home project

Against this backdrop the initiative of Open House London should be applauded.

The idea is that various homes and offices  thrown themselves opne to promote discussion of what can and has been done.

We went to look at a local project in Ealing  that Architect Nick Baker had  designed and where he now lives, the brief is illuminating but I suppose as he was the client/designer  he knew about it anyway.

Building amongst existing housing and allowing light in but preserving privacy had been one challenge and plenty of solar  panels adorned  the roof.

It's a bit of a voyeuristic indulgence and Nick's place seemed like a low key Grand Design type house -  tasteful and well considered with loads of books and wine as any home should be - not too sure about the hot tub though.

The experience did have a  with a touch of Through The Keyhole but would recommend it.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kingston-on-Thames as a Model shopping destination (versus Ealing and other places)

Yesterday we hooped on the 65 bus for a wander around Kingston in the late summer sun.
When it comes to shopping (which certainly isn't the be all and end all for me) I like Kingston, it's got a lot going on with a pedestrian area at it's heart with music and street performers.

Swans take a snack in Charter Quay 
It's got water (The Thames) which is a diversion it doesn't seem constructed but has a structure and has a centre and edges.

As well as retail it has a Theatre (The Rose) and a Cinema Multiplex which is modern and central (ish called the Rotunda) with bowling and restaurants.
Kingston has some great 'name' retailers that aren't in all the high streets like for example Clas Ohlson and Lakeland
I'm not sure if it does all this despite not being on the underground or because of it but it is so different from such shopping centres as Westfields or Brent Cross which exist only for retail.
Brown's do a decent lunch

Kingston does face challenges keeping alive the independents and attracting the multiples is a a difficult balance thew new eateries by the river are largely national franchises which feels a shame but I expect the rents require a hefty footfall and professional corporate operators.
We ate our lunch at Brown's which was very pleasant and well pitched at a single course meal with soft drinks coming in at just a shade under £25 it was unhurried and the view across the river made it seem a treat.

Kingston also has an open air market (admittedly not on a Friday) but instead on the day we were there was a musician playing and people were sitting and listening. 

Kingston has a big Bentall's and a John Lewis two proper department stores. 

Let's contrast with Ealing no departmental sores (unless you call M&S a departmental store), no cinema and no theatre - when I was first in Ealing it two as well, it   had a Bentall's and a John Sanders. 

For me Ealing needs to move forward and use it's heritage but it'll be a challenge to carve out it's own niche using the attributes and history it has. (Perhaps a Tourist information and council focus on visitors would help?)
Listen to the music
Home for the weekend market

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Saatchi visit including Newseum

It's quite a while since I was last at the Saatchi Gallery and a recent  e-mail flyer made me realise it was time to make a trip to Sloane Square again.


Well it was something I'd not really anticipated but as far as I can tell it was a fairly straightforward (and good) piece of PR for The Times.

Having been reflecting on the distortions and superficiality of the news (via Alain de Botton) this gave another perspective and some sense of the excitement around news in days gone by.

It's easy to decry this establishment organ but the exhibition in fact made me recognise how much The Times had created the quality press in England - The first foreign Correspondent, the use of technology and the exclusives were all well documented with short video clips and documents - It made me think that perhaps the battles with the unions in the 1980s to preserve the paper were for a purpose.
  Some of the tools used by The Times  through the years

One of the things that surprised me most was that at the time of The Kennedy Assassination the paper did not have 'news' on the front page, this in fact didn't happen until 1966.
The front page!

Also the Times had been at the forefront of 'exclusives' since Howard Carter went into Tutankhamen's tomb in 1923 and had scored again with the exclusive of ascent of Everest in 1953.

A very interesting hour or two can be spent at the Newseum  (there's a free broadsheet paper summary of the history too) and it is useful to help us consider how news coverage has changed already and continues to evolve- this is  illustrated by the speed of stories coming in while you look around.
The 'stories' via  Reuters, are updating every few seconds and shown on the dangling mobile phones.
News dangles


Also at the Saatchi 

Sam Taylor-Wood the Turner prize winner and now an acclaimed  film director (working on 50 shades of Grey) has contributed some lovely photographic images from Coco Chanel's private apartments - all dark and detailed with no people.


I liked the works by Xavier Mascaro which included 5 figures outside (reminded me of a sort of  scrapheap Homage to the Terracotta soldiers)

They were rusty before they encountered the London weather
Inside there were ships (the scale reminded me of the religious homage we saw in Glasgow)

Sailing out .. somewhere

A group of faces
And one alone

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rhodes Day 7 coming home to more philosophy.. (and a cracking London Image)

The final day of our holiday was upon us and there's something about the end even of a short trip that feels sad to me.

Nick-named Alex
The last day blues for me are made worse by a late flight (ours was set for a departure at around 10:00 p.m. local) it didn't go too badly but it was about 3:30 am when we finally got home to our West London home.

From our holiday Hotel we were able to see lovely sunsets and also energetic sea sports - gosh they're difficult to photograph though - these images will stay with me.

What will also stay with me is the poor care taken to keep rubbish from the streets of Rhodes Town and the awful airport (see I'm not the only one to mention it), very poor facilities and accommodation there- toilets not good and this reflects badly on the place as you wait to go home.

Action from a 'Kite surfer' -I bet his arms ache!

The mandatory sunset shot to mark the end of our holiday.

More reading and the Philosophers Arms is (are back)

As well as reading Alain de Botton's News A Users Guide I read most of What does it all Mean? by Thomas Nagel (now completed), it's only about a 100 pages long and is the 'set book' for the course I start next week but even without that I'd recommend it to those with a questing mind .

Nagel (quite a figure it seems)  is able to ask some very big questions in a straightforward way -(spoiler alert) I didn't like the ending.

I also managed to read a bit more of Socrates a very short introduction by C C W Taylor - I'm fascinated by the parallels of Socrates and Jesus both of whom failed to write their own accounts but left something of value in lessons on how me might live  which continue through the years- despite this (The book has a nice cover too).

The problem (for me) around Socrates is that as a result of this he enigmatic as a person  in the extreme- but I will persevere (nice IOT biography podcast here on him).

On the Philosophy side very pleased to report another (too short) series of The Philosophers Arms in on the Air (BBC Radio 4) - 'check it out as' they say.

A cracking London Image

Sometime ago I went on a Photography tour around the newer buildings by the monument - have just seen this photo - it's great wish I'd taken it -'the gods were smiling on you'  well done Alex Pink.