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Archive for October, 2011

Science… is it necessary?

This afternoon I happened to stumble upon this recent recording of the BBC with Professor Brian Cox


The subject matter was interesting and Brian Cox is emerging as a great orator, the kind of person we really need to reverse the current trend away from scientific thinking and back to mysticism which I personally find extremely worrying.

In a world where some understand more than ever about the world and universe around us but in terms of numbers, less and less people can be bothered to try to understand the world around them, the BBC must take much of the blame (for the UK – religion pretty much takes the blame single-handedly in other parts of the world). There was a time when "Tomorrow’s world" at least made an attempt to explain the new emerging technologies but since then the BBC has been on a path of deliberate dumbing down, appealing to illiterate children and adults at the expense of doing what a taxpayers auto-visual tool really SHOULD be doing – and that’s educating us.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the audio recording above as the hapless interviewer tries his best awkwardly to make fun of quantum mechanics instead of taking the opportunity to learn and to help the audience learn from Mr Cox.

I so hate being forced to pay for the continued existence of the BBC – they need to be forced to fight for survival – how many Brits I wonder when comparing SKY with alternatives realise that ITV don’t get the TV licence, so of all the many channels (except for the variations on the BBC) only the one company gets our money (which we have no alternative but to part with) – the BBC – yet when presented with the opportunity to help enrich our knowledge – the best they can do is make fun – thinking we’re just as stupid as they are and won’t understand or care about what Brian Cox and others have to say. What a wasted opportunity.

Retail versus the Web

Never let it be said I don’t try to shop retail….

After a tip-off that Asda have a Bluetooth keyboard the same width as the iPad, I put my Apple keypad on eBay and planned a trip to Gateshead for the weekend to get the new keypad – along with a replacement soldering iron bit for my bog-standard Antex soldering iron. In addition, the backlight went on my keyboard and so I decided it was time, after several years, to go buy a new one.

First stop Maplin in Gateshead, one of very few places left where you can buy electronic stuff locally (there is always RS Components but they close on Sundays and as for so many others, Sunday is my best day for shopping). The guy showed me a pack of generic soldering iron tips that weren’t even remotely suitable – that was it, our main electronics component shop and they had one set of soldering iron tips. Fail. While I was there I had a look at keyboards – nothing but low-end rubbish.

Next stop Asda. After a thorough look around the relevant section of the store I finally asked an assistant who clearly didn’t know what a Bluetooth keyboard was – she rang up the store manager who obviously didn’t know either. You would think they’d simply get on the computer and check stock, but no.

Last stop PC-world. You would imagine as a shop that sells games, they’d have a range of top-end keyboards – but no, just one vastly over-priced Logitech gaming keyboard and the rest were your average run of the mill.

So.. when I got home I spent 5 minutes on the web and ordered everything I need, wondering why on earth I ventured out in the first place.  I did manage to buy an excellent stand for the iPad from Poundland but that hardly justified the fiver or so in petrol for the wasted morning trip.

Peter Scargill