Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Macca tack

Sir Paul McCartney has said he will boycott China because of the way dogs and cats are treated there. I saw a snippet of the film that has brought this about and I agree that it wasn't nice, animals that we consider to be pets were treated very badly by people keeping them for the fur trade.

Sorry Paul but this is facile. Don't go because China denies people the right to religious freedom, don't go because of the restrictions on free speech and a free media, don't go because of the endemic torture and ill treatment of people thrown in jail without charge for months on end before being brought before courts which are not independent of the ruling party, don't go because of the ongoing occupation and pillage of Tibet, don't go because 77% of the people executed in the world in 1993 were killed in China and on a single day, 9 January 1993, 356 death sentences were handed down by Chinese courts, don't go - please don't go. But please don't go for the right reasons and whatever we think of fluffy bunnies and cats and dogs placing them above human beings is just plain wrong.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Idle blogging

I feel rubbish, my cold has finally hit with a vengence and it's taken most of the day to get my stuff in a pile enough to get myself bathed and fed let alone plugging in any logical thought. Anyways - Twenty Major saves the day with an absolutely crackingly jolly post which doesn't have his trademark language but does show his humour and (whisper it) some posh words that might risk him losing his crown as a foul-mouthed ejit. Grab it here.

Saturday, 26 November 2005

How much????

Ministers have hailed the £386m Excellence in Cities scheme as a key initiative for some of the poorest parts of the country but the evaluation for the Department for Education and Skills found that GCSE grades had not risen. [Rebecca Smithers, education editor, Guardian Education,
Call me cynical, call me a dyed in the wool sceptic and remind me that hindsight is always 20:20 but having had some involvement in this project I feel able to offer a few thoughts.
A DfES spokesman insisted that the evaluation only covered the period up to August 2003."This research ... doesn't reflect where we are now. In 2005, the rate of increase in GCSE performance for Excellence in Cities areas is nearly twice that of other areas for the fourth year running - up three percentage points on last year."
EiC was rolled into Aimhigher just over a year ago so, just like the shell game, it's going to be harder to draw conclusions from the data following the integration of these projects. Don't forget that funding for Aimhigher is another substantial lump of change.
The Excellence in Cities (EiC) programme was introduced in 1999 to provide extra money and support for struggling inner-city schools. Schools taking part in the scheme have been awarded £1bn with a further £700m committed over the next 18 months. [Polly Curtis, Guardian Education, 11/10/2004]
Hang on! My maths isn't great but I can already see a difference between the numbers being bandied around!EiC joined schools together in twons and cities. the aims included sharing good practice and, if possible, "expert" teachers. It included the Gifted and Talented activities and thus we can muddy the waters even more - pick from that list to determine what, if anything, is improving the performance of pupils.Big wads of money are mentioned by successive Ministers but much of this funding goes into admin and paying people who don't meet school age children unless they are their own. Most schools used the money for EiC coordinators to pay existing teachers for additional responsibilities but didn't give them additional time to carry out extra tasks. The administration of these schemes - at school and college level - is very time consuming and aimed at offering an audit trail rather than actually having a positive impact on the outcomes for the students involved.I don't think anyone doubts that education in this country can always use more money, particularly in inner city "sink" schools but why spread the money so thinly? In order to rope in the grammar schools they also received funding yet most have results suggesting that they cannot really improve the outcomes for their pupils. In my experience there is little or no articulation between schools regarding the G&T status of ppils, they move from primary to junior and then to secondary and college with their SATs scores (sometimes) but rarely with any additional information about the "whole" person. Sadly this government is "initiative driven" - it must make more sense to give the money to the professionals appointed to run the schools, the head teachers, and let them get on with it!

Friday, 25 November 2005

George has gone

Sadly but inevitably George Best has died. Although nobody can be surprised by this there is still a sense of loss, I admit to having tears in my eyes as I write this. I've mention Best already and some of what he meant to me growing up during his time at United and his death feels like the loss of part of my past.

If I hear one more sanctimonious arschloch saying "He brought it on himself" or "What a waste of a liver" I think I'll sceam! We all die. Some a nice, tidy death in a nursing home and some a horrible death screaming at the inequity of it all. If your not being born you're busy dying. George made mistakes, we all do, and he probably had regrets but who doesn't? Nobody can doubt he lived a full life and crammed far more into his 59 years than many people who live a good deal longer.

Gone but not forgotten.

Enya Vs Godzilla

I know that Twenty Major isn't everyone's cup of Guinness but his posting about Enya Vs Godzilla is a blinder!


WIKI is given to mean What I Know Is......... And the biggest embodiment of a wiki is Wikipedia, a "public good", an encyclopedia written and owned by the masses.

This concept of a public good goes way back to the start of the Internet culture and the gift economy. Unfortunately you guys aren't paying me to give you a lecture on the culture and history of the web (occasionally I turn a shilling in such pursuits) so here's a freebie curtesy of John Naughton who found it elsewhere. An aside - if you want to read one book that is a great read and explains how we got here in the wired world grab a copy of Naughton's "Brief history of the future", one of the finest books of the genre and written so damn well I'd kill for a fraction of his skill - except that as a "sort of" Buddhist I won't kill and as an employee of the Technology faculty of the Open University killing a guy that high up in the faculty may be a bad career move.

Anyway - I say that a lot by the way - John has found a super-cool way of searching Wikipedia because that baby is getting so big.

LumRiX is based on some sort of clever doings or other but let the propeller-heads worry about that, it's just very quick and that's the other thing that wiki means :-)

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Chocolate teapots

During a bit of badinage with my Canadian friend, El Mouster del Echo (just practicing my Brazilian Carrie :-)), the subject of chocolate teapots came up (as it would).

Now we all know that people residing in the Americas don't drink tea, they sling it in Boston Harbour and go off in a hissy fit that ends up with them inventing rap music, Coke Cola, Intelligent Design and stories about WMD but I digress. Sadly there is a place in my head for name of the leader of the rebels at Boston too - Samuel Adams esq.

Anyway - here's the nub of it. I've found a smashing site which features a proper scientific test of a chocolate teapot. It's wonderful. Find it here!


Just over ten minutes ago the licensing laws in this country changed again! Now in a political coup from the "Lunatics have taken over the asylum" school of planning Tone and co are also banging on about "responsible drinking" so we now have a two-tier system.

A high ranking plod was interviewed last week. Standing in a pub, sipping a glass of water and standing next to Charles Clarke - probably there to make sure that if the policeman went "off message" he could give him a thump and restore New Labour order - he explained that nasty little scrotes who go out and get bladdered on a few lager tops are the problem but upstanding pillars of society such as himself would welcome the chance to enjoy a glass of wine on the way back from the theatre or cinema. I may have missed the details of how people will be assessed on entering the pub - two doors maybe? Upstanding citizens in the snug and leery binge drinkers in the vault? perhaps you can only get a drink if you show the stub of your theatre ticket or the programme?

"Sorry sir, seeing that film only allows half a bitter and out by midnight"
"Opera at Covent Garden Sir? That'll do nicely - pull up a comfy chair, I'll crack open the Bollinger, you can stay all week, would you like to meet my wife?"
No plans to change the licensing laws at The Mermaid you'll be pleased to know.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Brilliant quote

Radio Five are broadcasting from Sizewell B as nuclear power is such a hot topic right now. Interviewing one of the guys there he said that the standing joke is that the station could be run by one man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to bite the man if he touches the controls!

University accused of bias against Christian schools

From the NY Times

According to an evangelical Christian school the University of California is discriminating against students from that school and they are taking the university to court. A spokesman for the university said,
"All we are saying is that unapproved courses cannot be submitted to satisfy the requirements for entry."
The argument appears to be that some of the courses taught at Calvary Chapel Christian School simply don't meet the requirements of further study at the university and given the current debate about Intelligent Design it's probably easy to see how that might happen. How on earth can someone who has studied ID then go on to study Darwin at a higher level? Angie has a posting about the University of Kansas offering a course entitled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" as a response to the state Board of Education adopting new science teaching standards which treat evolution as a flawed theory.

It looks like this one will run and run!

Every generation.........

.......puts a hero up the pop chart. [Paul Simon, Bubble Boy, Gracelands]

Suddenly the Internet is causing problems with homework.
Technological solutions alone will not be enough to prevent children using the internet to cheat in their coursework, a government adviser has said.
and this is clearly a new threat!

Some years ago, back in the days of black & white, I submitted a piece of school work which I based on an article in the "Radio Times". Now, of course, I know that all academics are across every piece of work in their sphere but not then because I got a pass! Of course in those days I might also have popped down to Longsight library and selected a few choice phrases, suitably bowlderised, and slung them into my homework but I can't now - the library is a social centre.

Is any of this new? Is, once again, the Web the issue?

I helped Calum do his homework this weekend. It was "Solids, Liquids and Gasses" - not too tricky really, I can deal with molecular agitation and endomorphic and exomorphic reactions. I can explain the Carbon cycle and how plants use C6H12O6 and CO2 in photosynthesis and we played some great games discussing how soot comes from logs and the relationship between ice and steam and how heat releases the scent from candles. We also covered one of his favourite topics - steam engines and how energy is released from coal to produce motive force.

Were we cheating? Am I just another "middle class" parent giving my child a leg up? Who knows - but the web ain't any more a problem than the libraries that we used or the Readers Digest or anything else. And my father would be overjoyed to think that I'm middle class :-)

In my world academics have to stop shouting "foul" and accept that there is nothing new and the Web is no more a threat than anything else. Stop bitching and accept that it's out there and happening!

Pat Tambrin is 66 and a grandmother.
Magistrates heard police raided her home and recovered seven cannabis plants, cultivation equipment and 17g of the drug in her kitchen.
Pat has denied growing cannabis though the evidence appears, to my untutored eye, to be pretty damning and thus the case will go to Crown Court.

At first glance this may seem harsh, little old lady growing a bit of weed is crushed beneath the jackboot of police oppression but I say No! Cannabis is given to be a "gateway drug" and if we let her get away with seven plants now who knows where it might end? In a few years time she'll have thousands of acres of Northumbria given over to opium poppies and the economy of the golden triangle will collapse. The regeneration of war torn Afghanistan will stall and US and British soldiers will be there for generations because the economic heart has been ripped out of that benighted land. Chinese Triads will also suffer and the knock on effects on the cuisine of this country will be catastrophic. Legitimately employed drugs mules will be forced to claim benefits as the need to bring in these noxious drugs collapses. BA will probably have to cut flights and Customs and Excise will be laying off staff.

Of course, if she's paid her Poll Tax she should escape jail! Read the BBC's take on this here.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Get tough on the unhealthy

A poll of more than 2,000 people by private health provider Bupa found 34% supported charges for treatment for people who smoke, drink or are obese.

More than four out of 10 favoured some sort of penalty for people they considered to have self-inflicted health problems.

And 8% said people who led an unhealthy lifestyle should be denied treatment.
The BBC precise of this report is here.

My own view? Well let's ignore for one moment the additional revenue HMG currently gains from smokers and drinkers and look at some of the other issues we might address in this way - and don't forget that the new licensing hours kick in this week. Clearly anyone foolish enough to eat junk food should be excluded too and carcinogenic effect of eating meat has been know for a while so vegetarians only? Being born poor is just stupid so we should select by postcode and, a personal bugbear, Sun readers are often beyond help so lets charge them if they get ill too.

In fact my own view is that the best way of sorting this is that anyone over the age of 25 who doesn't have at least a degree should pay more for health care - big win this as it ties in nicely with HMG's drive for a better qualified workforce.

So there you have it - two policies for the price of one - and you know they followed my lead on nuclear power so if you only have a couple of GCSEs my advice is get studying and don't get sick or have a traffic accident or make the mistake of being born with a congenital defect or working in a high risk employment sector. If you feel that you may be a little off colour in the next few years best sign up for a Masters degree soonest as "qualification inflation" means that soon a BA or a BSc will only get you a couple of Asprin and you'll be sent to the back of the queue.

Monday, 21 November 2005


A possibility of snow by the weekend? Of course this is all because of global warming but I'm wondering whether Mouse might be able to email her SUV over? I live in a valley - today the fog didn't clear so Britain was cut off from Bishopsbourne - and so snow makes it tricky getting out as it's all uphill whichever of the two little lanes I take. Nice chance to show another photo of the snow here in March :-) Give the image some clicky-clicky to see the big one.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

HMG listens to Nog!

The UK is unlikely to meet its 2010 target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20%, the government's chief scientific advisor has admitted.
Sir David King is the chief scientific gadgy quoted here on the BBC site. He then goes on to support my advice to build nuclear power plants, by 2101 we'll only be producing 4% of our energy requirements from nuclear plants. Of course Sir David hasn't mentioned reading my blog and no doubt will pretend that he thought this up all by himself - as if!

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Spooky car advert

Here is a spooky one you...........make sure you read the story before watching the video.............

Strange but interesting. This is a car advertisement from Great Britain. When they finished filming the ad, the film editor noticed something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist. They found out that a person had been killed a year earlier in that exact same spot. The ad was never put on TV because of the unexplained ghostly phenomenon. Watch the front end of the car as it clears the trees in the middle of the screen and you'll see the white mist crossing in front of the car then following it along the road....Spooky!

Is it a ghost, or is it simply mist? You decide. If you listen to the ad, you'll even hear the cameraman whispering in the background about it near the end of the commercial (so make sure you have the sound on at a level you can hear it). A little creepy but pretty cool!

The file is a wmv (Windows media player) and is just over 800k. Click here to download it.

John Timpson

John Timpson has died aged 77.

Timpson and Redheadwere what made the Today programme compulsive listening every morning and millions of us laughed, gasped and screamed at the radio as they brought humanity, humility and humour to current affairs broadcasting. They managed to ask the questions we all wanted asked and didn't shirk from grilling heavyweight politicians. Timspon also wrote some lovely books and they focussed on the oddities and eccentricities of this country.

Friday, 18 November 2005


Last night was bloody cold and today wasn't much better. I went to the car at 17:15 and the external temperature (according to the display in the car) was -1, I had to de-ice the screen before I could move. I'm sitting next to a listed sash window and a draft that started life on the Russian Steppes is streaming under the curtains and freezing my left arm. The central heating is on and the fire is also burning, Calum is here for a couple of days and he loves the fire - as do I - so we always light it.

Anyway. I hate being cold, I now have two duvets (one winter, one summer) on the bed and the heating might be on until March - we had snow in March this year! If all this stuff about global warming is true I think I'll do my bit by driving at 100MPH and burning fossil fuels at every opportunity (but not on the fire, logs are cleaner and look better). Stuff a 3 degree increase in average temperatures - I don't want them to fall below 16 even in winter!

I think we're losing

From Timothy Garton-Ash's piece in the Guardian:
The erosion of liberty. Four words sum up four years. Since the attacks of September 11 2001, we have seen an erosion of liberty in most established democracies. If he's still alive, Osama bin Laden must be laughing into his beard. For this is exactly what al-Qaida-type terrorists want: that democracies should overreact, reveal their "true" oppressive face, and therefore win more recruits to the suicide bombers' cause.
Of course we all know that this is typical left-wing liberal bleeding heart stuff. Everyone in the UK knows that if we ignore the "Prevention of Terrorism Act", the fact that we cannot hold a political demonstration near our elected representatives and that those same representatives wish to take powers to hold, without charge, "suspects" for 90 days then our liberties haven't been eroded at all! And although the Patriot Act in the US allows for the government having the power to access your medical records, tax records, information about the books you buy or borrow without probable cause, and the power to break into your home and conduct secret searches without telling you for weeks, months, or indefinitely I'm sure it's all in the best interests of everyone..... unless they have dark skin and a beard (both of which I have).

Gotta go - someone is at the door..............

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

On being a Northener

Now there's a place in Wigan a place you all should know
A busy little factory where things are all the go
They don't make Jakes or Eccles Cakes or things to stick on walls
But night and day they work away at Uncle Joe's Mint Balls

Sitting on the shelves opposite where I'm writing this is a small red tin. On it is the smiling face of a gentleman in a top hat.

The chap is Uncle Joe and the tin contains his world famous mint balls. Mike Harding, a very famous and very, very funny Northern chap, celebrated this wonderful delicacy in a song, the first verse is quoted above. The chorus is (all together now):

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls keep you all aglow
Give 'em to your grannie and watch the beggar go
Away with coughs and sniffles, take a few in hand
Suck 'em and see, you'll agree
They're the best in all the land

Now this led me to thinking about how else those of us lucky enough to be born in the North of this wonderful land can be distinguished from the poor beggars born elsewhere. Sterling Times A - Z of Englishness quotes Cecil Rhodes ""To be born English is to have won first prize in the lottery of life" but most of us know that being born in, say, Slough really doesn't work as well as being born in Lancashire.

Northerners are generally well spoken and rugged (the blokes are rugged too), we are fearless (find "Napolean's Retreat from Wigan" in the poems section of Mike Harding's site) and resolute. We support the underdogs - 30,000 used to turn up at Maine Road when City were in Division three - and retain our sense of humour no matter what, remember that Manchester and Liverpool are both in Lancashire whatever the Boundary Commision claim.

But what else distinguishes us from the rest? Is it the tradition of liberalism that gave birth to The Manchester Guardian? Is it our inherent work ethic which meant that we were the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution? Is it our generous welcome to all those who want to settle in the North - it's no coincidence that in 1908 a New Zealander and a German were working in Manchester when they invented the Rutherford-Geiger detector of single ionizing particles, still known as the Geiger Counter.

Those unfortunates who don't know about the North West of England could do worse than visiting this site to find out a little more about the area.

And yes - I have a flat cap :-)

The antidote to A207

Some time ago I posted a link to Dr Anne Stott's wonderful blog published to support students studying an OU course, "A207: Enlightement to Romanticism". I've now been pointed to the antidote! It's at A207 Study Help and is wonderfully irreverent and probably helps people like me who tend to remember things if they are bashed at me in a number of different ways; humour is a great tool in learning and understanding, and Anne has mentioned this blog on her's!

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Blair abolishes elections

I spotted this link on Memex 1.1. Well worth a visit :-)

Foster review of FE.

Further education was "the neglected middle child" between schools and universities.
The words of Sir Andrew Foster in the report commissioned by the government to look into the FE sector. The full report is here and here is the BBC report. Frankly I'm sure anyone who has worked in FE will suggest that Sir Andrew is following the theme of the week and stating the bleeding obvious - I hope they make this an Olympic event because it seems that our present leaders are able to find world beaters at every opportunity.

Classrooms without walls

Here ya go then - the scourge of teachers the length of the country, mobile phones, are set to take centre stage in teaching and learning! This report in the Guardian looks at a project being tried in Islington. Just another fad or a real opportunity for some "joined up" learning?

Peter Drucker

Peter Ferdinand Drucker, management consultant, born November 19 1909; died November 11 2005
If you haven't heard of Drucker go and learn about him - a special guy in management theory who also made sense!

Monday, 14 November 2005

And again..............

Up front - I admit that I exceed 70 MPH on the motorway when conditions allow. It's not unknown for me to exceed the speed limit by a significant amount when there is no traffic around and the road is dry and in good condition and visibility is good. I spent a year living and working in Germany where I learnt a good deal about driving quickly and safely on motorways which only have speed limits when the road is wet and while I make no claim to being a good driver I've never been involved in an accident on a motorway and the UK motorways are statistically the safest place to drive in the country. But now HMG are considering clamping down on motorway speeding in the name of global warming.
This piece in the Guardian discusses a report commissioned in September, 2004. The part which piqued my interest is:
Officials acknowledge that any move to force the 15 million motorists who currently exceed the 70 mph speed limit to slow down would be "politically sensitive", but they say it would save significant amounts of carbon dioxide pollution. Engine efficiency falls quickly beyond 70 mph.
Do all cars suffer from this decline in efficiency beyond 70 MPH? I have a feeling that BMW, Mercedes and Audi might have something to say about this! What about the latest generation diesel HDI engines?

I am not suggesting that this is a crock of rubbish but yet again the information we're being given is "dumbed down" to a level that Sun readers will accept and this process assumes a level of comprehension far below what I'd suggest is the average in this and any other country in the developed world.

I think we need to move away from the conditioned response that anything which saves the planet by reducing global warming is automatically good to one where there is a reasoned debate about balancing the needs of the planet with the needs of society. And I'm sure that there is no intention of filling the government's coffers with the windfall from enforcing motorway speed limits - that would simply be cynical wouldn't it?

Grasp the nettle. Stop generating power using fossil fuels, build nuclear power plants or gas fired plants (I know that gas is a fossil fuel but it's cleaner than coal and also doesn't have the same transport on-cost) and generate more power from renewable sources. Stop importing cheap, "dirty" coal from Poland to fire Drax (850g CO2 per kWh). 27 of the 30 dirtiest power plants are coal fired and four of them are in the UK according to WWF (that includes Drax) and Friends of the Earth (in a BBC report) point out that coal fired stations emit three times the volume of greenhouses gases that gas fired stations create.

According the the government report;
Stricter enforcement of the 70 mph limit, the document says, would save 890,000 tons of carbon a year - more than the biofuels obligation and many other listed measures put together.
Drax alone generates 16.49 million tonnes of CO2 each year, and for the sake of this argument the difference between tonnes and tons is immaterial. We can't simply close the coal fired stations, we still need the power, and how ever they are replaced there will be CO2 emissions but let's start looking at long term solutions rather than short term gimmicks. WWF have a wonderful summary page on Drax which looks at the effects of replacing Drax with another coal fired plant, a gas fired plant or renewables - and uses the number of cars taken off the roads as a comparison.

Am I being selfish and greedy when I drive at 80 MPH? Possibly. Am I endangering the plant? Possibly. If all of the 15 million who travel above the speed limit slow down will it cut CO2 emissions? Certainly. Will it make as much difference as a long term plan for cleaner energy generation? No. And is it a long term solution to anything - not even close. Look at power generation, a coherent public transport infrastructure, sensible planning, a real commitment to cutting greenhouse gas and stop messing about.

This latest suggestion is like changing the wiper blades when the engine blows up - or rearranging the deck chairs on The Titanic.

Saturday, 12 November 2005


Tough game today. Canterbury played in their change strip of blue and without their first choice scrum half as he broke his arm playing against London Welsh last weekend. At start of play both teams were unbeaten in the league and it wasn't too difficult to see why - grief but the tackles were flying in! This was hard, grinding rugby from both packs and towards the end of the game many of the forwards, on both sides, were moving no faster than walking pace. Canterbury scored their only try from a charge down in the second half and it brought the scores level with little more than 5 minutes to go, they'd been behind for much of the game, but Richmond drove for the Canterbury line and despite heroic cover play on their own line Canterbury were ground down by a series of penalties and Richmond won by a converted try.

And it was damn cold on the touchline, Calum managed to eat three small pork pies and four Chuppa Chuppa lollies as well as his Diet Coke while I had the other three pies and a coke and a coffee during the second half - it was 50p but for the chance of getting warm I'd probably have paid much more! November 26th is the next home game - against Ealing - and I'll be wearing my thermals.

Friday, 11 November 2005

Music again

I've just seen Green Day on the TV, they did American Idiot. I know I'm far too old to be tapping my feet to this stuff but I really like that track and the lyrics actually seem to say something other than most of the mindless pap currently filling the airwaves (or so I'm told - I've only just heard that Take That have split up!) Yes - it's a jolly little song indeed.

Desert Island music

I should be finishing this marking but many of us know that anything is usually better than marking a difficult script so here's some thoughts on music for a desert island:
  • Dylan - Blood on the tracks
  • Dylan and the Band - Before the flood
  • Bowie - Live at the Towers
  • Sinatra - Live at the Sands
  • Lynard Skynard - One more from the road
  • Alice Cooper - From the inside
  • The Who - Who's Next
  • The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Led Zepplin - Remasters (Okay I know it's a cheat as it's a compilation but it's my bloody list! :-))
  • Springsteen - Born to run
  • The Doors - LA Woman
  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
  • Steely Dan - Aja
  • Al Stewart - Year of the cat
  • U2 - Under a blood red sky
Writing this I realise that I really cannot go to this mythical desert islands because of all the music I've not put on the list - I've just quickly counted and there are over 200 cassettes, the same again in CDs and 60 LPs here and it would be easier to take them all and make sure I have a connection to Amazon or similar so that I can keep buying more so, sorry, if anyone thought you were getting rid of me - I ain't going!

Thursday, 10 November 2005

What file extension are you?

You are .doc You change from year to year, just to make things tough on your competition.  Only your creator really has a handle on you.
Which File Extension are You?
(Yes - I should be working but...........)


Vince Furnier has been all over telly and the radio over the last week or so because he's working in this country again. Lovely bloke, his dad was a vicar and he's a committed Christian too. He doesn't drink and he's never done drugs, been married for 20 odd years and for a bloke of 57 he's in good nick. Great family guy, member of the local PTA, his daughter works with him, and he also takes a pet or two to work with him. Oh, and he has an honorary doctorate from a Christian university, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Top stuff!

His name isn't Vince anymore though - he changed it by deed poll some years ago so you might know this chap by his stage name and if you ever get chance to see him in concert I'd grab it with both hands - Alice Cooper live is simply awesome.

One eyed undertaker

This evening I went over to Maidstone to sort some technical problems with Rowan's headphone/microphone combo. Being distracted I went the wrong way and had to travel through Canterbury during the rush hour. Glaciers move faster!

I'm not a stress bunny anymore so I chilled with some sounds that I haven't listened to in ages.
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky.
How good is that?

And then my mind moved to all these things going round about the last book you read or the last CD you bought. I'm not playing that game but I now have a list of CDs I must have if I am ever stuck on that desert island, and you can keep the Bible, read it already and I know how it ends. The complete works of Shakespeare and the menu from the local Indian free delivery restaurant please. For my luxury? Well I guess that Joanna Whalley or Cheri Lunghi are out of the question?

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

More science for you

Now don't say I didn't warn you but............

According to this article at the New Scientist site looking at mucky pictures can make you go blind!

Monday, 7 November 2005

Stating the bleeding obvious

So we have adverts saying that if we save 20% of our energy usage we will help reduce CO2 emissions. Let's just deconstruct this a little shall we? It assumes that any reduction in energy usage is directly related to CO2 but this isn't so. If all the energy available is generated by nuclear power the the CO2 output is almost non-existant. And any reduction in energy usage will (by their reasoning) reduce carbon dioxide emissions so why this magical 20% figure?

The UK is responsible for 4% of the world's CO2, the US generates 25% of the CO2 output. The UK led the world in the development of renewable energy sources but messed up big style on all fronts and we now buy the technology we developed - and we have the NIMBYs who want cheap, non-CO2, energy but rail against wind farms and nuclear power. And in terms of global warming the effect of the thermal islands caused by large cites is far and away greater than CO2 production. The argument that man is actually changing the rate at which the earth's temperature is also not completely made - we are currently (officially) in an ice age and when the last one finished and the ice melted leaving this sceptered isle cut off from the mainland of Europe it had nothing to do with CFCs or light bulbs. The Met office cannot predict weather patterns much beyond 7 days ahead so the idea that they can say that the global temperature will have increased (or decreased) by x or y degrees in 100 years is a little thin isn't it?

The best way to make your fridge more efficient is to make sure it's full - I recommend Stella Artois and champagne. The best way to reduce energy consumption is to make sure that the fridge is near where you sit so that you don't have far to travel to it.

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Nude Brits shop while drunk

I'm sure we all have moments when we read a piece of "research" and think - "That's just a statement of the bleeding obvious!" So it was when I read about BLOTO on The Register. I work online much of the time and I've certainly been "working" while in a state of undress and sometmes while with drink too - who hasn't? And the idea that we might buy things online that we otherwise wouldn't seems a bit silly - I really needed that three-legged dining table and the painting of a Spanish Lady might still be wrapped up but I'm sure I'll find somewhere suitable to hang it - okay the signature isn't Van Gogh as I was led to believe but I know it'll retain its value!

Saturday, 5 November 2005


Okay - I admit it, I have a strange sense of humour at times.

I use Mailwasher Pro, a superb bit of kit that checks my email accounts every three minutes, downloads the headers, decides if it's someone I should be getting mail from, flags the spam and marks it for deletion and (when appropriate) bouncing. Those deleted are added to the blacklist and forever consigned to being ignored and told that I've moved/married/died/gone away or whatever is appropriate to stop them sending me adverts for extensions or Viagra or whatever. On a separate note - if you get a bounce notification from me you should ring and let me know. I once put a customer on the blacklist by mistake and nearly lost a few quid because Mailwasher convinced him that I was living a life of crime on the Costas!

Anyway. The preview pane in Mailwasher is text based rather than HTML. To dodge round heuristic spam protection most spammers put random text in the mail and bung the advert in as an image. Because Mailwasher ignores images I just see the text and frequently this is a terse "Get a capable HTML mail client" but increasingly the random text is interesting. It's philosophy or jokes or ramblings of amazing complexity (it has to make some sort of sense or the heuristic filters flag it as spam). From tonight's crop "Many difficulties which nature throws in our way, may be smoothed away by the exercise of intelligence" really made me think and sometimes there are long screeds of stuff that is really cool. "Life is governed by an economic system in which the production and consumption of insults tends to balance out" is probably true and I make no comment on "Never take a wife till thou hast a house (and a fire) to put her in".
The moral? Spam might be more useful than you think!

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Cows with guns

If this isn't one of the best SWF animations with music I really don't know what is. Check out "Cows with guns". It runs about 6 minutes but is brilliant - certainly best with broadband I'd have thought.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

12 x 7

On Monday we took Rowan and six of her friends to the local ski centre for Rowan's birthday party, it was rearranged as she was a bit under the weather when it was first planned. Despite the weather they had 45 minutes on the snow tubes and after large plates of junk food they hit the toboggan run - in driving rain. Seven 12 year old girls really do make a large amount of noise! The photo is Rowan on a snow tube.

More sheep stuff

I seem to have found everyone's level so here's another sheep photo from yesterday. A couple are helping themselves to some grass from my garden (the good stuff is elsewhere! :-)) while the others are checking my car. As I took this a sheepdog was sent to keep them out an it did a handbrake turn on my garden as it directed them off down the road.
The second shot shows the dogs turning the sheep towards the field so that they don't make a dash hard left up the hill towards the main road or along the lane to the left of the sign - this is towards the cricket ground.

Tuesday, 1 November 2005


Another number - this time it's the number of sheep who have just passed my door! They came past at 14:00 heading from Bourne Park to the field at the end of the terrace. I didn't count them - I asked! :-)