Discoveries in the USA

Boston refuge areaI recently spent a very interesting 3 weeks on holiday in the USA – although I couldn’t resist doing a little work while I was there.  Whilst visiting the cities of New York, Washington and Boston, I met with the transport professionals responsible for accessibility.  They were very welcoming and I shared ideas from London, and picked their brains about US provision.  Using the public transport systems to get around was fairly straightforward – the subways in particular worked well for us and we found at least one ‘little gem’ in each city.  In New York, overhead signs showed the best place to board for level access; in Washington, platform edge lights flashed when a train was approaching, giving plenty of warning to board; and in Boston we found refuge areas for wheelchair users in the subway (pictured).  My companion and I sampled most forms of transport – including Amtrak, which made our National Rail services look quite good!

Highly Recommended…

I had the pleasure of enjoying a celebratory weekend in London recently where I got to enjoy a double cultural treat. Firstly, the National Theatre’s award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the West End. Wow – I can highly recommend this entertaining winner of 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awards® including ‘Best Play’ – it gripped me the whole way through.

Then secondly, I also got to see the new Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake. An excellent film of our time that will stay with you. It’s a moving, sometimes funny film that is a painfully realistic representation of welfare bureaucracy at its worst: failing to listen and thereby disadvantaging further those who rely on it in times of hardship. Well worth watching…

It’s Good to Talk… Contrarian Prize Debate

conformity-debate

On 30 November I attended an fascinating panel debate discussing conformity at Cass Business School in London. The event was hosted by The Contrarian Prize which aims to recognise individuals in British public life who stand up for their principles and demonstrate independence, courage and sacrifice.

‘Contrarianism in an age of conformity’ was the debate topic. The panel of 6 distinguished speakers discussed the threats to free speech in Britain and the role of contrarian thinking in challenging the status quo.

Their diverse viewpoints gave me much food for thought especially in light of the recent UK and USA political turbulence where political discourse has become increasingly visceral and polarised.

 

Interesting View from the Other Side

I attended an interesting lunchtime talk by Syed Kamall, the Conservative MEP for London and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists, on the 2 November 2016 in London.

Syed offered a controversial and informed insider analysis on Brexit from his pro Brexit viewpoint at this event hosted by the Champollion Group.

Always great to hear differing views especially when so eloquently delivered.

Who’s advising the government on human genetics?

Since May 2014 when the ESBAC (the Human Genetics Commission’s replacement) disbanded, there has been no independent body advising or holding the government to account.

genetics

I believe this is a mistake. I think that the government needs ethical advice about new developments in genetics. The implications are too far reaching for us as individuals and for society as a whole. We need an independent forum that includes those who work in the field and those who don’t, to help ensure we balance the risks and rewards. This is how sound decisions will be made in shaping our future.

 

My commentary in BioNews explored this subject further. Read the full article here. Bionews is published by the Progress Educational Trust and provides news, comment and reviews on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas.