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Archive for October, 2009

The scale of things

I  hadn’t planned on learning anything this morning.

In fact, the scale of my ambition was merely to get up and have a cup of coffee on this fine Saturday morning. Having just returned from a trip to Blackpool my laptop was sitting on the table next to the coffee..and as you do I turned it on.  I have an excellent time-wasting program on the laptop called StumbleUpon which as in the last led me to all manner of excellent websites, anyone reading my blogs will recall the “10th dimension” videos… one minute you’ve no idea how a multiverse might work, the next you’re on the road to further learning.

And so it was this morning. Just HOW small are things like the flu viris… do you have a mental model in your head? What about a water molecule – sure, it’s small but do you have any kind if idea how small. I didn’t really. But now that’s all changed thanks to a superb piece of FLASH. Check this magnifier out, it’ll only take you a few seconds.

Meanwhile…. a laugh…

Dumb Cat Can’t Figure Out How To Drink – Watch more Funny Videos

Ignorance is Bliss

I always get a chuckle when the “mums-against-masts” brigade end up in the papers as some kind of local heroes. Totally oblivious to any source of scientific common sense, the protesters line up to stop yet another mast being erected, hence ensuring that the Northeast of England remains a communication backwater (rural Northumberland being a prime example – signals on the A69 from Hexham to Carlisle are almost unusable for any meaningful conversation (hands-free of course). If only these knowledge-free people could see phone signals visually, they’d realise they are barking up entirely the wrong tree.  Almost all kids today (and most adults) have mobile phones and they take them wherever they go (ask any teacher). Whether on silent or not, these phones are TRANSMITTERS, just like the masts, but closer. The signals they put out are small,  but not insignificant in comparison to masts, but then it’s not all about signal strength – distance is important too. 

Given a strong base signal, mobiles put out a weak signal to communicate back to the base – and they do this regularly. Given a distant base, they have to put out a stronger signal (anyone notice how quickly phone batteries go down in weak signal areas?). That means that by ensuring there are as few base stations as possible (economics and misguided protesters have ensured that in large parts of Northumberland, mobile phone communication is unreliable, just where it is needed the most), the phone which sit millimetres away from children’s skin, regularly transmit with the highest possible power, all day, every day. Even those who don’t have mobile phones are probably sitting inches away from someone who does and who’s phone is supplying a regular, close-proximity supply of radiated energy. In operation mobile phone transmitting strength drops to almost nothing if the base station is local, with a poor connection it can be as high as 2 watts, which might not sound a lot but your readers should read this next sentence over and over till it sinks in: The signals from base stations are but a TINY fraction of those received by users holding their own phone within millimetres of their ear!!

Just like the windmill and nuclear protesters, these people will not stop the march of technology, they never do, they will merely succeed in ensuring that we have the worst possible services thanks to lack of thought and lack of basic knowledge.

More Face, Less Burkha

Once again we have someone digging in their heels and insisting on wearing a Burkha in their job. I have a real problem with this – I’m as unhappy as anyone else that we live in a surveillance society but if I can have my face plastered all over monitor screens – so can everyone else.  What do these people have to hide I wonder??  I think we are FAR, FAR to accepting in the UK.

British Airports – the Pits

Bloody typical… we’re picking up Maureen’s mum this morning from Manchester airport so we figured we’d stop over at a hotel to make life easy in the morning…  7am flight arrival.

So before leaving the hotel, a mere 6 miles away from Manchester International, we checked on the airport website. 20 minutes delay… fine – just enough time to go for a sausage and egg McMuffin.

I’m sitting here drinking luke-warm Costa Packet coffee in the airport and doing the blog on my wonderful Windows 7 – equipped laptop.. because – by the time we got here, the delay had increased to 2 hours!  Someone tell me – on a 7 hour flight, how the hell can you lose 1.5 extra hours once you’ve taken off!! And there’s no McDonalds – just a SPA store. Awful place.

Meanwhile I note our local pub has won a silver medal for sustainable tourism! Amazing what a woodchip burner can do for your credibility tick-box. Personally I’d have liked to have seen them win an award for employing all local workers but I guess that’s not going to happen.

Oh and we’re down to one kitten – kept the little ginger one – called Ollie.  He’s my new best friend.