Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Open air cinema screenings in London 2019

Last updated: 13 April 2019

Every year I get terribly excited at the prospect of open air movies in London and trawl the various listings, trying to capture them all. It's almost impossible to succeed because there are so many (hooray!). If you know of one I've not listed please let me know @JoBrodie on Twitter.

For the last couple of years I've made the list as a Google Spreadsheet as it's easy to sort and manipulate, though not very searchable on Google and other search engines so I do an additional blog post. I miss doing it on Storify but it closed.

The current list lives at Open air cinema screenings in London 2019 and will be updated throughout the year; the 'season' generally runs from late April to late September. There are free screenings too, some during the daytime (using screens unaffected by bright sunlight) and some screenings are part of other events.

Table of Contents
1. General advice
2. List of films so far
3. List of venues so far
4. Previously...

1. General advice - think about bringing the following
Tickets! Make sure you print in advance, or have the e-ticket visible on your device - and make sure you know where the venue actually is (!)
Something warm to wear (even if it's boiling hot in the day it can be surprisingly cool when sitting outside at 10pm)
Something to sit on (plastic bag as a minimum, blanket or cushion better) as you could be sitting on damp grass or hard stone / concrete or pavement
- Pop Up Screens let you bring camping chairs but many other venues don't (some venues already have seating) - check
• Something to avoid rain (umbrellas are generally a bit of a no-no, I'd recommend rain hat or one of those 'pac a mac' things)
• Something to eat and drink and something to eat it off / drink it out of (most films are in public spaces so you can bring your own picnic, check though as venues like Syon Park and Alexandra Palace might not, always check the website's FAQ) - don't forget a bottle opener if you need one
• A plastic bag to take away rubbish / and for sitting on grass
• Loo roll (public toilets being as they are...)

2. List of films so far
10 Things I Hate About You
50 First Dates
A Star is Born
An American Werewolf in London
Back to the Future
Beauty and the Beast
Bend It Like Beckham
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
Bohemian Rhapsody (sing-along)
Bridget Jones' Diary
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Crazy Rich Asians
Cruel Intentions
Dirty Dancing
ET The Extra-Terrestrial
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Finding Dory
First Man
Forrest Gump
Game of Thrones (TV)
Grease (sing-along)
Green Book
Highway Rat
Jurassic Park
Legally Blonde
Leon: The Professional
Les Miserables
Lost in Translation
Love, Simon
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins Returns (sing-along)
Mean Girls
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Moulin Rouge!
Notting Hill
Pretty Woman
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Romeo + Juliet
Shakespeare in Love
She's All That
Some Like It Hot
Spice World
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Stan & Ollie
The Big Lebowski
The Breakfast Club
The Devil Wears Prada
The Favourite
The Godfather
The Greatest Showman
The Gruffalo
The Incredibles 2
The Jungle Book
The Lego Movie 2
The Little Mermaid
The Lost Boys
The Meg
The Notebook
The Young Victoria
Top Gun
True Romance
Withnail and I
Carmen (opera)
The Marriage of Figaro (opera)
Romeo and Juliet (opera)
Angora Love (Laurel & Hardy)
You’re Darn Tootin’ (Laurel & Hardy)

3. List of venues so far
Alexandra Palace
Arena Square (Wembley Park)
Battersea Park  
Bussey Building (Peckham)
Chiswick House and Gardens
Crystal Palace Park
Danson House (Bexley)
Dulwich Park  
Fulham Palace  
General Gordon Square (Woolwich)
Hampton Court Palace
Horse Hospital Stables Market (Camden)
Kensington Palace  
Kenwood House (Hampstead)
Lyric Square (Hammersmith)
Merchant Square: The Lawn (Paddington)
Morden Hall Park  
Old Royal Naval College (Greenwich)
Opera Holland Park  
Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch)
RAF Museum London (Hendon)
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre  
Roof East (Stratford)
Station Square (Herne Hill)
The Scoop (London Bridge City)
Tooting Common  
Trafalgar Square  
Victoria Embankment Gardens (Embankment)
Victoria Tower Gardens (Westminster)
Wandsworth Park  
Westminster Abbey  
White City (Shepherd's Bush)
Wimbledon Park

4. Previously...   

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Google could warn people who are searching for "how to buy bitcoin" about scams like this email

I've just received another one of those 'warning' scam emails telling me that some malware has been added to my computer to monitor my activity and a video of me is to be sent to all my contacts unless I pay up. It's twaddle.

These emails all ask for payment in bitcoin and include a search suggestion to find out how to do that as presumably most people have no idea (I don't). I ran the suggested search for "how to buy bitcoin" and was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a warning from Google to let people know that this search is often related to scams.


Subject: Fwd: ❗ ATTENTION! You are screwed now Jo Brodie...

Do I have your attention?
You are really screwed now and you better read this... !

Your device was recently infected with a software I developed,
and now you have a problem you need to solve,
because it has gone too far..

You probably noticed your device is acting strangely lately.
That's because you downloaded a nasty software I created
while you were browsing the Ƿornographic website...

The software automatically:
1) Started your Ƈamera and begun recoding you,
uploading the footage to my server...
2) Recording your device screen
3) Copied all your contact lists from mail program, facebook
and your device chain
4) Started logging what you write

The problem is that it has cought you while you have been
ʍasturbating.. and I didn't plan to see that.. but I did.

I now have the Jo Brodie.mp4 file with you
ʍasturbating to this hardcore stuff... ugly!! :((

Let me get straight to the point.

If you do not do what I ask you now, I will upload this
ugly video file with you ... and the stuff you were watching
to several video upload sites and I will send the links
to all your friends, family members and associates.

I am sure they will not like what they will see and I am
also sure you don't want me to do that, right ?

So do you want me to uninstall the nasty software from
your device and stop recording you?
Do you want me to forget about this whole issue??

I think 2,000 USD is a fair price for my silence. I know you
can handle to send me this money - and it is enough for
me to get lost. So how do you send the cash?? Bitcoin.

I checked right now and 1 Bitcoin is worth 4,960 bucks.

Send exactly 0.409482 BTC to my Bitcoin wallet.

This is my Bitcoin wallet address:

If you do not know how to send cash using bitcoin,
type 'how to buy bitcoin' in google. There's plenty
of guides.

Ok.. so what if you decide not to pay ?
Well if you want to test my patience - go on.
I will destroy your social life, you can count on that.

You think that visiting Police is a good idea ? Nope.
I don't live in your country and I know how to stay
Anonymous. I will send the compromising video to
everyone you know!

Just send me the 2,000 USD and we forget about
the whole thing. I have family to feed too.

Send 2,000 USD worth of bitcoin to this address:

0.409482 BTC
to this address:


(copy and paste it - it's cAsE sensitive)

After you send the money to my wallet (exact
amount!) - I will see it and I will remove the video
and deactivate the rec software.

I give you 5 days only to send the transfer..

The time starts ticking after you open this letter
(I included a pixel in this message and I will
know when you read it).

Don't try to contact me - I am using an untracable
email to deliver this message to you.

I am waiting for your cash.
And don't forget the shame if you ignore me.


Friday, 22 March 2019

CEASE Therapy for autism in the UK news today - it doesn't treat or cure autism

1. Listen
The BBC will run a piece* early this afternoon on Radio 4's You and Yours about a bogus treatment for autism, called CEASE Therapy aka 'Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression'.

Listen to it on BBC Radio 4 from 12.15pm today Friday 22 March 2019, or catch up later

Read You and Yours' post about the story "Advertising watchdog rules fake autism 'cure' adverts must stop"

CEASE rests on the false idea that vaccination causes autism and uses homeopathy and supplements to try and "detox" children from the imagined negative effects of the vaccines. Not only is it nonsense it's also harmful and medically neglectful (encourages diarrhoea as a process to eliminate toxins),  a safeguarding concern (vulnerable children and families involved) and offensive (implying that autism should be eliminated). There is no need for it, and it's great that awareness is being raised.

2. Watch
The BBC also referenced CEASE on their Breakfast television show. You can watch it again on iPlayer (you may need to register) until tomorrow (Saturday, at 9.15am), from 19 minutes into the programme (6.18am on the programme itself).

3. ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority's CEO Guy Parker published a blog post today about the action the ASA has been taking against homeopaths who are offering CEASE therapy and who are referencing it in relation to autism. Last year the ASA sent out an Enforcement Notice to 150 CEASE homeopaths pointing out the problems with offering the therapy, this notice has also been published today. Five homeopaths have been referred to Trading Standards but not yet added to their Referrals page.

Why so-called CEASE Therapy claims to 'cure' autism really have to stop

Metro have also picked up the story.
Guardian too.

The ASA have previously adjudicated against two practitioners offering CEASE therapy - Teddington Homeopathy
and Elle Fox (trading as Bubbling Life).

4. SoH / PSA
The Society of Homeopaths is one of several membership societies for homeopaths but is the only one regulated by the Professional Standards Authority. SoH members are already required to adhere to ASA's guidelines but last year the PSA had to step in and address problems with some members' claims about CEASE.

The response by the SoH to the ASA's action has been described as "staggeringly inadequate" because there have been "discussions taking place on how the therapy might be renamed" instead of addressing the underlying nonsense. This merely "(e)ncourages CEASE quacks to continue as before, while hiding from ASA." 

Today (and over the weekend) Oxford University's Lady Margaret Hall is hosting the SoH's AGM and conference (on fertility and pregnancy).

5. See also
CEASE Therapy on Wikipedia
• Westminster Autism Commission (PDF) on other harmful interventions on autism (CEASE not included)

*"We report on what's being done to stop a bogus treatment which claims to cure autism in children. The Advertising Standards Authority has told You & Yours it’s served enforcement notices on 150 homeopaths who offer so-called CEASE therapy. The treatment claims to purge heavy metals, vaccines and antibiotics from a child’s system. The National Autistic Society says there's no cure for autism and it's wrong to claim it can be cured. We speak to a mother who tried the treatment for several months and now regrets it. The Society of Homeopaths say there are discussions taking place on how the therapy might be renamed to make claims aren't made that can't then be substantiated."

Friday, 8 March 2019

List of Twitter traditions

On Christmas Day 2018 I created a new page on Wikipedia to celebrate the List of Twitter traditions. The page lasted until late February when it was tagged for discussion re: possible deletion as not satisfying Wikipedia's requirements for lists. Sadly it didn't survive the discussion but a copy of the page is preserved here.

List of Twitter traditions

The list of Twitter traditions includes examples of annually repeated 'events' on the internet micro-blogging service Twitter, usually linked to a hashtag or a particular account.

#DuvetKnowItsChristmas - Christmas Sleeping Arrangements

In December 2011 musician and writer Rhodri Marsden found himself sleeping in his sister's old room[1] during the Christmas holidays, tweeting to his Twitter followers that "I think it's time for a photo meme of grown adults in single beds in their parents' house."[2] His tweet unleashed a flood of responses from those staying in childhood rooms (now turned into offices or used as storage spaces) who shared photos of incongruous bed linen and undignified sleeping arrangements. The hashtag #DuvetKnowItsChristmas was widely adopted in 2016 after Twitter user CrouchingBadger suggested "Also, can we refer to this as #duvetknowitschristmas?"[3] (though user 'Hashithappens' used the tag in 2015[4] in a reply) and it continues to be a popular annual Twitter event.[5][6] In 2018 Twitter partnered with Shelter to encourage those sharing images on the hashtag to donate to the charity in support of those without a room at Christmas.[7]


Comedian Sarah Millican sent a tweet on Christmas Day 2012 reminding her followers that they were not alone and encouraging them to share what they were doing: "And if circumstances mean you're on your own today, remember, you're not! We are here. I'll post up what i'm up to and join in if you like".[8] A little later she followed this up with a tweet suggesting a hashtag[9] (#joinin), which let people keep track of the shared conversations.[10]


During the NFL's annual championship 'Super Bowl' game advertisers, unless authorised to use the official trademark, must use a different term (such as 'The Big Game') to refer to the event. Comedian Stephen Colbert used the technically permitted phrase "Superb Owl" in 2014 and others adopted this term with #SuperbOwl being used on Twitter to share photographs of owls. Twitter does not distinguish between the hashtags #SuperBowl and #SuperbOwl so tweets from fans of the game and fans of owls overlap.[11]

John Lewis and John Lewis retail

For a number of years the UK department store John Lewis used the Twitter name of JohnLewisRetail (now @JLPartners)[12] however this did not stop customers from sending customer service-related tweets to @JohnLewis[13], a man living in North America who merely shares the same name. The tweets 'to' him peak in the Christmas season in response to John Lewis' annual Christmas advert.[14][15] His good-humoured and helpful responses have become a popular internet tradition resulting in his account being verified[16] and his own appearance in a Twitter UK video advert in December 2018.[17]

Ed Balls Day

On 28 April 2011, Ed Balls, urged by an assistant to search Twitter for a recent article about him, accidentally entered his intended search term in the wrong box and sent a tweet reading only "Ed Balls".[18] The tweet has never been deleted and the incident is now celebrated as Ed Balls Day every 28 April, with followers retweeting his original message and commemorating the occasion in other ways.[19][20]

International "When's International Men's Day?" Day

On International Women's Day in 2013 (8 March) comedian Richard Herring tweeted "International women's Day? When are we going to get an International MEN'S day? ... On November 19th. Hope that answers your question"[21] after noticing a tendency among some people on Twitter to ask "When's International Men's Day?" in response to the existence of a day celebrating women. The following year he continued[22], quote tweeting a variation of his response to hundreds of people asking the same question, and this tradition has continued.[23] In 2018 he raised £150,000 for the charity Refuge by spending the day answering everyone who asked.[24]
Category:Social media Category:Twitter-related lists Category:Annual events

  1.  "Christmas: When people return to their childhood bedrooms". BBC. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  2.  ""I think it's time for a photo meme of grown adults in single beds in their parents' house."". Rhodri Marsden on Twitter. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  3.  ""Also, can we refer to this as #duvetknowitschristmas?"". Crouchingbadger on Twitter. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  4.  ""or....#duvetknowitschristmas"". Hashithappens on Twitter. 24 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  5.  ""#DuvetKnowItsChristmas is a brilliant Twitter tradition where people Tweet @Rhodri to share their often hilarious seasonal sleeping arrangements. This year we've partnered with @Rhodri and @Shelter to tell the story. Not everyone has a home at Christmas, please give what you can."". Hashithappens on Twitter. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  6.  "This man has been sharing the weird sleeping arrangements people have to endure over Christmas". The Telegraph. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  7.  "#DuvetKnowItsChristmas returns to show the reality of people's sleeping arrangements over Christmas". Metro. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  8.  ""And if circumstances mean you're on your own today, remember, you're not! We are here. I'll post up what i'm up to and join in if you like"". Sarah Millican on Twitter. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  9.  ""Let's use a hashtag. #joinin if you're joining in with me."". Sarah Millican on Twitter. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  10.  "Sarah Millican's #JoinIn campaign is here to help if you're lonely this Christmas". Metro. 25 December 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  11.  "Why is r/Superbowl about owls?". Reddit. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  12. "jlpartners". John Lewis Partners on Twitter. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  13.  "John Lewis". John Lewis on Twitter. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  14.  "Man called John Lewis bombarded with messages by confused Twitter users again as Christmas advert comes out". Mirror. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  15.  "American Man Named 'John Lewis' Responds To Christmas Ad Hype". LadBible. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  16. ""HEY! I've been verified!"". John Lewis on Twitter. 24 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018. 
  17.  "Man named John Lewis is revealed as star of Twitter's UK Christmas film after he gets bombarded with tweets every year that are intended for the retailer". Evening Standard. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  18.  Balls, Ed (28 April 2011). "Ed Balls". Twitter. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  19.  Collins, Lauren (28 April 2014). "Happy Ed Balls Day". The New Yorker.
  20.  Sini, Rozina (28 April 2016). "Why people are celebrating Ed Balls Day". BBC News. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  21. ""International women's Day? When are we going to get an International MEN'S day? ... On November 19th. Hope that answers your question."". Richard K Herring on Twitter. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2018. 
  22. ""Is it International "when's international men's day?" again already?"". Evening Standard. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2018. 
  23. "Relax, guys – it's International Men's Day (the official one)". The Guardian. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2018. 
  24. "International "When's International Men's Day? Day"". Just Giving. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Some encouraging regulatory news on CEASE therapy for autism - #homeopathy

Summary: the PSA has already taken on board skeptics' concerns about some of the Society of Homeopaths' members who use homeopathy and CEASE therapy in treating (and claiming to treat) autistic children. In January 2019 the PSA added an additional point to consider, which is that the treatment "seeks to ‘eliminate’ a characteristic that not everyone would think necessary or desirable to eliminate" and is a safeguarding concern.
CEASE therapy is a bogus treatment for autism. It stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression and consultations are regularly offered by homeopaths via Skype, widening the pool of possible patients to anyone around the world. CEASE relies on the incorrect idea that it's possible to detox from vaccinations by using high dose vitamins, other supplements and homeopathic remedies.

The Society of Homeopaths is aware that some of their members offer CEASE and that the marketing of the intervention is often deemed problematic. There have been adjudications by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) against homeopaths who've made misleading claims about the treatment and it's generally considered that writing CEASE out in full itself makes a marketing claim.

For the last couple of years the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) have had their register of members accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Skeptic bloggers (including me) have been regularly in touch with the PSA to express concerns about the problems that promoting CEASE therapy entails. The PSA has taken some promising action.

In February 2018 the PSA re-accredited the SoH but with provisos attached that they monitor CEASE-offering members' advertising material, put a position statement on their website about the treatment and what can't be claimed for it and review the risks of the treatment.
• More detail on this can be found here Better monitoring of homeopaths advertising CEASE therapy for autism in the UK - hooray (28 Feb 2018)

A fellow skeptic has just alerted me to the recently published outcome from a Board Meeting the PSA had on 16 January 2019. It covers all of their accreditation processes but specific mention is made of the PSA's own concerns about CEASE therapy / homeopathy, raising a new issue that I confess hadn't occurred to me (Equality Act, see first para in the quote below).
• More at Update on Accredited Registers (19 Jan 2019), a 6-pg PDF.

Point 6.12 on page 5 of 6 says (emphasis added by me)
"...In the light of our experience with considering the issues involved in CEASE therapy we would highlight one additional point. Whilst we addressed this primarily from a safety perspective, it also raised an ethical issue under the Equality Act in so far as the therapy seeks to ‘eliminate’ a characteristic that not everyone would think necessary or desirable to eliminate. Since we already consider observance with the Equality Act within our assessment process we do not think we need to amend the principles.

We consider the safeguarding legislative gap to present an ongoing risk to the public and we will continue to raise this matter with the DHSC and Ministers. This year we will focus our assessment activity on accredited registers risk management procedures, which will include reviewing their safeguarding arrangements and if this continues to highlight a problem, we will present our findings to DHSC to strengthen our call for action."
Update on Accredited Registers (19 Jan 2019)DHSC = Department for Health and Social Care
Encouragingly the Society of Homeopaths has already appointed their first safeguarding officer (Sep 2018) which is a positive move, but there are still a number of their members whose websites make claims about autism that shouldn't be made. More on that in the next couple of months or so.

As for the SoH's current accreditation? Along with a couple of other members' registers their status is "Annual review under assessment"...

Further reading
Pic credit: Schüssler tablets homeopathy