Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Some Very Long Trains

I've just been reading about the Ghan train that goes from Adelaide on the South coast of Australia, to Darwin on the North coast.. I gather it's quite common for trains to have 30 coaches and sometimes even more.

See http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/site/home.jsp

Part of the case made for a new railway line  from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds is that there is little spare capacity on the existing railways, but the possibility of having longer trains seems to have had little attention.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Very Late Harvest

Pottering round the garden this afternoon I examined some fallen apples and found a dessert apple undamaged and free from slug nibbles. When I ate it I found it was in excellent condition. That is by far the latest time in the year that I've ever gathered anything edible in the garden.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Quiet Christmas Eve.

When I went into town today to do some last minute shopping, I was surprised how quiet things were.

It was busier than on a normal weekday, but not as busy as it usually is on a Saturday, even though what would once have been called the 'January Sales' were already underway.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Is our Prime Minister Guilty of Contempt of Court?

The judge hearing criminal prosecution has told the jury to ignore comments about a witness made by the Prime Minister .

Lesser mortals might be sent to prison for such a transgression!!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Don't Forget the Necklace Killings

Prominent politicians seem to be competing to see who can pay the most absurd sycophantic tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Mandela did indeed do surprisingly well in keeping South Africa relatively peaceful while the apartheid regime was dismantled, but I think his virtues fall well short of sainthood.

It may sometimes be reasonable to use force to remove an unrepresentative and tyrannical regime that refuses to to submit to the test of elections, but I think that even then force needs to be carefully targeted, at key people in the regime, and at people who play an active part in suppressing dissent.

The African National Congress seems to have killed people just because they did not agree with its policies, and when it killed people did so with horrible cruelty. I don't think anyone who sanctioned or approved of necklace killings is fit to hold high office anywhere.

Monday, 9 December 2013

December Flowers: A Second Boast

I've just looked round the garden, and counted seven different varieties of plant in flower, and also four different varieties with brightly coloured berries.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Very late flowers

There are usually a few flowers in the garden, even in midwinter, but this is the first time I've seen antirrhinums flowering in December. A plant in my front garden has been flowering at full power for months.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Late Harvest

Yesterday I gathered half a dozen tomatoes from plants still surviving in my greenhouse. I'm also still eating homegrown apples, Ellison's Orange and Lord Lambourne dessert apples and Bramley cooking apples.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Mental Powers of the Powerful

I just watched a House of Commons Committee questioning representatives of 'payday lenders'.

Confronted by the information that 3% of a set of 1.25 million borrowers had difficulty repaying, one MP decided to calculate how many people were involved.

His first attempt was 3% of 1.25 million = 125 000

He then resorted to a calculator, and after taking rather longer than I'd have expected, opted for 'about 40 000', which is I suppose near enough, but what a lot of fuss about a very easy calculation !!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Negative Royalties

As I struggled with the 'child proof' top on a bottle of cough medicine, I reflected that some disagreeable person, or antisocial company, holding the copyright or patent, may receive royalties to reward them for inconveniencing me.

I wish that inconvenient inventions could attract negative royalties, so that those who devise them could fined every time their pernicious invention is used.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Is Washing Up Liquid Necessary

I've noticed that if the washing up bowl gets greasy and discoloured, filling it with washing powder dissolved in hot water and leaving it to soak overnight restores it to a state of purity.

I'm tempted to use washing powder for my washing up, but I keep the washing powder in the garage near the washing machine, so it's never handy when I wash up.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Puzzled by units

A micro-meter is referred to as a 'micron' . Why isn't a nanometre called a 'nanon' ?

That thought was prompted by my converting Angstrom units into nanons. I've always found Angstrom units very counter intuitive and thought they were being phased out, but they still crop us quite frequently.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A False Sense of Security

The head of MI5 has complained that Mr. Snowden's revelations about the activities of our and the American security agencies puts us all in danger.

I doubt that. I suspect that mutual spying by various national agencies has given each of them a good idea what the others are doing. Large criminal and terrorist organisations probably have agents in at least some national governments, so they too will have the information.

The only people kept in the dark were the ordinary citizens who pay for it all. Now we know.

All that has been damaged is the dignity of our spies.They should be thankful that they are no longer deluded into a false sense of security.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Marriage and Tax

There is to be a tax concession for some married couples. I think the government may be overreaching itself.

I doubt whether the relationship between two people need concern anyone but themselves. There are many possible relationship between people yet the government has singled out for approval relationships between just two people. Until recently the people had to be of opposite gender. That has been liberalised to any two people regardless of gender, but why just two? Groups of three or more people sometimes live together in happy partnerships.

When two people have children it is a matter of public concern that the parents co-operate to care for their children, though I'm not sure how responsible parenthood could be rewarded through the tax system, without penalising the children of uncaring parents, but where there are no children partnership arrangements should be by civil contract drawn up to suit the people concerned.

That leaves the question of inheritance; bequests to partners are exempt from inheritance tax. Inheritance tax has always seemed to me a particularly spiteful tax, so I should be happy for it to be abolished, but failing that everyone could be allowed to designate just one person whose inheritance from them would be tax free.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Caring, Sharing Incompetents

People repelled by what they have seen as the predatory recklessness of commercial banks have sometimes trusted their affairs to the Co-operative Bank.

That too is now in trouble, unable to pay the interest on its permanent interest bearing shares, so some elderly folk are likely to lose a substantial proportion of their income.

I've long been puzzled by the co-operative movement. Its shops are not supposed to make a profit, yet are markedly more expensive than their profiteering rivals. It appears that unimaginative self righteousness fares no better than reckless greed.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Rhetorical use of Percentages.

I saw this headline on the BBC web site:

"A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s">

How accurate is the 95 supposed to be? Was that number the result of a series of calculations. Might it just as well have been 94 or 96?

I believe that people decided they were fairly sure but not quite sure and decided that 95 was a suitable number to represent that degree of qualified confidence. That is sloppy thinking and undermines my confidence in the people concerned. Sir Karl Popper said the probability of any scientific hypothesis is zero. That too was rhetoric, but his zero is a stimulating challenge to the optimistic 95%.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pricing Energy

It's been proposed that energy prices be frozen for a while.

That strikes me as perverse. We are trying to reduce consumption of energy to slow down global warming, so higher prices should be helpful.

People sometimes worry about the profits energy companies make. I see little to worry about. Retained profits will be invested in improving supply, and distributed profits will mostly go to pension funds, and help maintain aged folk who might otherwise need state support.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Little Used Cycle Lanes

During my bus journey into town today I noticed two people cycling on the pavement on the opposite side of the road, but didn't see anyone using the cycle lane next to that pavement.

I have occasionally seen cyclists using cycle lanes, but it's a rare sight.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fascinated by Fireworks

Wondering why politicians often seem so eager to find excuses for war, it occurred to me that a state of military readiness requires stocks of various explosives which are likely to have only a limited shelf life. It must seem wasteful just to throw them away when they pass their 'use by' date. We could enjoy the flashes and bangs produced by dropping them on someone, so that's what we do.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Pursuing Malware

A few days ago I reported on BrowserDefender, malware already installed on my new laptop when I collected it.

A few days after uninstalling BrowserDefender I discovered that a bit had survived. There was a folder in ProgramData containing the executable, a dll file, and a collection of 'logging data' The date of the folder suggested it was created when I uninstalled the program. All the files in question resisted deletion, claiming they were 'used by another program'. Eventually I removed them by using Bullguard.

Incidentally the ProgramData folder is officially 'invisible' so it doesn't usually appear in listings. In the routine check on settings that I make when I get a new computer I'd chosen to restore visibility to invisible files. It's as well I did!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Restful Activity v Exhausting Indolence

There are often times when I seem to be getting very little done and yet feel tired. If I can make myself do some job or other, the tiredness usually goes away. I offer this anecdote to the world at large in case people may find it helpful.
To anyone who can't think of anything to do, I suggest that if you have a garden you put on thorn proof gardening gloves, pick up a pair of secateurs, and patrol the garden, looking for brambles to pull up, and overgrown shrubs to snip. Non-gardeners may sort out the contents of their attic/junk room/garage.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Extreme Gullibility

A man was recently convicted of fraud after he turned out to have sold a completely ineffective device that was supposed to detect explosives. Many of these objects were sold to governments to equip soldiers. I find it hard to believe that no civil servant or soldier tested a device before authorising the purchase. The devices seem to have had no working parts, in which case they would never have given any indication of anything.

If someone offered me a gadget of any sort, I'd want to try it out, and also to have a look inside to see how it worked. I fear that many people in important positions feel it would be beneath their dignity to examine a mere machine. We are so dependent on gadgets these days that I think it is unsafe for any position of authority to be held by anyone who doesn't like to play with all available toys.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pre-installed Malware

I recently bought an Acer laptop.  As I already had a subscription to Bullguard which I was allowed to put on up to three computers, I installed that in place of the anti-virus software already there. I then started to get warnings about dangerous software called Browser Defender, which I have now removed. I wonder if I should have been alerted to it had I not changed the antivirus software.

This pernicious program seems to have been included in the original installation. I intend to investigate how much of the software came from the manufacturers and how much from the retailer.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

An Unintelligent Machine

A few days ago I visited my Sainsbuy Supermarket and bought just one thing - a bottle of milk. Using the automated till I absent mindedly told it I was using two of my own bags. I usually distribute my stuff between two bags, and only after pressing the 'enter' button did I realise  I'd told it I was using two bags for just one item.

I feared that red lights and alarm bells would herald my imminent arrest for 'over-bagging' or whatever the word is for claiming to be using more bags than one is, but all was well. I was credited with two points for my bags, and went my way.

Afterwards a particularly wicked thought came to me. The maximum number of bags one may claim for is nine, and each bag earns a point worth half a penny. Therefore anyone buying an item costing 4p or less and claiming to be carrying it away in nine bags, could get enough points to cover the purchase with a halfpenny to spare.

What can one buy for fourpence in Sainsbury's ?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Praising LibreOffice

My purchase of a computer with Windows8 installed created a problem: what should I do about my large collection of files created in Microsoft Works?

An admirable piece of software, Works provided all the 'office' facilities any reasonable being might need, without the 'bloat' of the more expensive Microsoft Office. Microsoft has now withdrawn Works and the free reader it provides for access to Word files can't cope with Works.

I think MS wants to bully people into buying MS Office; it provides a utility that allows Office to read Works files, but nothing to help those who don't have Office.

Open Office, the free-ware alternative to MS Office can't cope with Works files either and I spent several hours searching the Internet for hints. Then I mentioned the problem in Cix Conferencing, and very soon had the answer.

LibreOffice, an offshoot of Open Office, can import files in a wide range of formats, including Works files and also files in that irritating docx format, which proud owners of the latest version of MS Office like to use to show off at the expense of those who don't have that particular piece of bloat-ware.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ugliness Therapy

When I taught inn Further Education I used to joke about the College's so called 'Beauty Therapy' courses, saying that they ought to be called 'Ugliness Therapy' because it was ugliness that they were curing.

Recent news suggests that it might sometimes be useful to produce ugliness.

The couple recently convicted of murder after first starving and then beating to death their four year old could be subjected to counter cosmetic surgery to make their appearance reflect their cruelty. They could be made to resemble the pictures of wicked witches and goblins that enliven some children's story books, with long twisted noses with warts on the end, and tufts of transplanted pubic hair spouting from their ears, so people would shudder at the sight.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Joys of Exercise.

I spent yesterday Nottingham, visiting Wollaton Hall and Green's Mill.

I did more walking than I've done in a single day for years, and also climbed about 12 flights of stairs - not all at once, but here and there.

By the time I got home my legs ached so much that I feared I might never walk again, but when I got up this morning the tiredness had gone and I found I was walking better than before.

I shall try to walk about more.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Agreeable Distractions

It's a long time since I posted anything here.

Fear not, all is well, I've just been distracted by by the garden. After the cold Spring fruit is ripening late, but in copious quantities, and plants seem to be growing prodigiously fast, so I've been busy pruning shrubs, thinning plums and apples and, more recently, harvesting redcurrants and making jelly.

I've also taken quite a number of photographs of one thing and another, but haven't yet found time to put them on the web.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Time saving Generosity

In the market today I asked for 15 mandarin oranges, priced at 15 for a pound.

The young man who served me shovelled a number of handfuls into a bag, making no attempt to count them. When I counted them at home I found I had 21.

A few weeks ago, a different young man at the same stall gave me 3 pounds of apples for the price of 2; too busy to weigh them, he just put lots in the bag to make sure there were enough.

The deprived folk who do all their shopping at supermarkets never have such entertainment.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Strawberry Jam

Today I made my very first batch of strawberry Jam.

I've often made jam by combining strawberries with other fruit, especially gooseberries but have never before used just strawberries because jam makers I know say that jam with just strawberries won't set, though I'm not sure whether that's because strawberries lack pectin, or because they aren't acid enough.

Just to be on the safe side I added some lemon juice, but I still found setting hard to achieve until I added a lot of extra sugar.

My observations suggest the following recipe:

1 kg strawberries
200 ml lemon juice
1.6 kg sugar

The standard proportions for jam are equal quantities of fruit and sugar, so that's 33% extra sugar.

I wonder if extra sugar would work without the lemon juice. I may try with tiny quantities.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Intermittent Memory

I forgot to take my shopping list when I went to town today, but I still remembered to buy everything I'd put on it.

I'm treating that as a triumph !

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Sir Robert Filmer Walks Again

I caught a few seconds of the service honouring the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that she did not choose the office, but was 'called to it by God'

Does the Archbishop want us to believe in the Divine Right of Kings ?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Naming Suspects

Recently several people suspected of sexual misconduct, but not charged with any offence, have been named by the police at the time of their arrest.

On the other hand two people arrested after their dog killed someone, and several people arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, were not named.

I suspect the naming of the suspected sex offenders may have been because the police had it in for them but lacked evidence, and hoped accusers would come forward if encouraged - a very dubious proceeding.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

One-upmanship Frustrated

Since the very beginning of the current debate about gay marriage, I've been puzzled by one argument used by those who oppose it. They claim that allowing people of the same sex to marry would reduce the value of marriages between members of the opposite sex.

How could it do that? A marriage is an alliance of two people to symbolise that they plan to live together united by love and companionship. It is something between the two of them and should not be affected by the relationships other couples may have.  Those who fear their marriages might be devalued are using their marriages as status symbols, to assert their supposed superiority to others who are not married.

The wish to sneer at others is a weak foundation for a lifelong partnership.

Something else has occurred to me. Many marriages end in divorce. Do people who consider their marriages superior to gay marriages also consider their divorces superior to gay divorces ?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Varieties of Loon

The Oxford Shorter Oxford dictionary says of 'loon'
1, A rogue, scamp ; an idler. A strumpet, concubine.
2. A man of low condition.
3. A boor, lout , clown
4. A boy, lad, youth

Shakespeare's Macbeth called a frightened servant a 'cream faced loon', which suggests 3 or 4, but I'm puzzled by the contemporary  'swivel eyed loon'.

Is 'swivel eyed' meant to assert that the eyes can moved, rather than being fixed in one particular basilisk stare, or does it mean they are constrained to move with only one degree of freedom as opposed to ranging freely over the landscape, and which of senses 1 to 4 best fits Conservative activists ?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Neglected pence

Twice in the last few weeks, the self service machines in Sainsbury's have given me an extra penny change.

I think that's unlikely to be mechanical benevolence and suspect that the previous user didn't bother to collect a penny change.

Perhaps children are no longer taught to look after the pence so that the pounds may look after themselves.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Astonishing gulibility

A man has just been convicted of fraud for selling an ineffective device supposed to detect bombs.

Although the device was quite ineffective, and consisted mainly of an empty case, he'd been selling the devices, many of them to the Iraqi government, for ten years before being detected.

I'd have expected anyone buying such a device to demand a demonstration first, and I'd have expected technically sophisticated users to look inside. Suspicions should have been aroused by the generality of the claims made for the device.

I can believe that one might be able to make something that would detect a particular sort of bomb - one containing a particular explosive, or a certain sort of timer, but something capable of detecting any bomb would have to carry our many different tests and, if such a device could be made, it would be a full scale laboratory. Anyone with even a modest scientific background should have smelt a rat.

Sophisticated technology is so important these days that officials who approve purchases need at least a smattering of technical knowledge.

Monday, 22 April 2013

More Sloppy Talk from the BBC

This afternoon I heard a BBC interviewer say that caring skills were 'part of the genes of every nurse'

I don't suppose he knows what a gene is, but he may think that using the word sounds clever.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Waiting for an Apology

One aspect of the dreadful events in Boston Mass has attracted little comment.

When Irish terrorists were contriving similar horrors in England and Northern Ireland, they received a good deal of financial support from people of Irish descent living in Boston.

One might hope that now they have been on the receiving end of terrorism, Bostonians who used to make donations to the IRA would express regret for the suffering they helped to produce here.

I'm waiting.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Treasure Trove

I'm not sure what started me thinking about slide rules this afternoon, but once I did, I wondered if they are still available.

Manufacture seems to have stopped in the 1970's, but second hand rules are still available, in fact they are collectors' items, with prices ranging from just over $100 for a simple rule to more than $300 for a rule with lots of scales.

I suspect that my 24 scale Thornton's two sided rule, with vector scales and differential trig scales is quite a treasure.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Very Late Forsythia

By commenting on the late flowering of various plants, I risk being a bore, but in my garden the forsythia seems even more conspicuously late than anything else. It's usually in full bloom before the end of the winter, but this year is still dormant.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Versatile In Spitefulness

Yesterday someone delivered a leaflet attacking gay marriage on the grounds that it would be a great threat to the family. There was a picture of someone using a hammer to smash a family picture.

It surprised me that the publisher was SPUC = Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, and asked people to show their disapproval of gay marriage by sending donations to that organisation.

I suppose it makes sense in a twisted way. People inclined to force women to bear children against their will, may also enjoy being spiteful in other ways, and attacking gay marriage seems to have become a popular way for the spiteful to vent their spleen.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Defining 'Bedroom'

A recent change in housing benefit seems to extend to council house tenants rules that already applied to tenants in other accommodation, so I suspect that protests are coming much too late to make much difference, but that should not deter us from commenting.

I don't at all like the thought of the authorities enquiring what we do in each of the rooms of our houses, and doubt whether they need to know.

Dividing benefits into two parts, one for housing, and one for other needs seems inconveniently complicated. I'd prefer that people in need be given a single benefit to cover everything, and allowed to make their own decisions how to divide their money between their various needs.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The language of the Irresponsible

I forget just where I came across it, but I recently hard someone say:

"If you have an accident, and it's not your fault..."

If an event is an accident, it isn't anyone's fault, but language has been corrupted by the self justification of motorists. Many of them are reluctant to take responsibility for anything, so it has become the custom to refer to any motoring mishap as an 'accident', even though many crashes and collisions are nothing of the kind.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Suffering in Instalments

I always find it rather confusing to lose an hour when we put the clocks on, so this year I I tried two 30 minute shifts.

I moved the clocks on a full hour on Saturday night, but also set my alarm clock to awake me at 8:30  BST, instead of the usual 8 am. The last night I changed the alarm to its usual setting.

It worked well on Sunday, but this morning I woke rather tired and so stayed in bed listening to the news for an extra 15 minutes.

I judge the experiment a moderate success.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Fragmented Holiday

Banks were closed on Friday, but open on Saturday.

If I worked in a bank I'd prefer to get a longer weekend break by working on Friday and taking Saturday off instead. I suspect that that's what would happen if the holiday times were settled by negotiation between banks and their employees.

As all too often happens, Government has imposed a less convenient arrangement.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Spite in the name of Love

Today two Clerics were televised denouncing gay marriage as a threat to Christianity. One was a superannuated archbishop who reigned in Canterbury long ago, and the other an evangelical Anglican with the hard face of a Calvinist bigot.

Gay marriage is no threat at all to to Christians content to love their fellow men. It is only a threat to those Christians who use their religion to justify feelings of superiority to the rest of us, feelings which encourage them to tell us how to behave. Feeling their status challenged they respond with spiteful invective, creating a religion of spite on the ruins of what was supposed to be a religion of love.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Reassurance of Youth

John Major was the first prime Minister younger than I and since his appointment I've gradually become accustomed to important people being my juniors, until now every member of the cabinet is younger than I.

What a relief it is that at least I'm still younger than the Pope !!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What has become of Coffins ?

Reports of the death of the late President Chavez of Venezuela mentioned a procession accompanying his casket.

For me the word 'casket' conjures up a picture of a small box suitable for holding small precious items such a jewellery, or perhaps the ashes left after someone has been cremated.

A complete human body needs a much bigger box. I'd call that a 'coffin'.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

My First Biscuits

Today, for the first time in my life, I made some biscuits. I found a recipe for 'spicy biscuits' in the Penguin cookery book, the first cookery book I owned, bought when still a student.

Before cooking the mixture was surprisingly soft and therefore hard to shape. I feared I'd got the quantities wrong, but the final product was eminently crunchy and biscuity, so I concluded I'd got it right.

Incidentally the spell checker tried to change 'biscuity' to 'promiscuity'. While the perils of promiscuity are many, I shouldn't expect them to include biscuits crumbs in the private parts.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Coy Evasion

As we hear ever more accusations of 'inappropriate' behaviour in the distant past, I wonder precisely what the miscreant is supposed to have done. Was a private part caressed, a bottom patted, a knee squeezed, or just a non-consenting head patted?  We cannot be reasonably expected to conjure up the 'appropriate' degree of moral outrage unless we know what happened.

I think that acts that would at the time have been dismissed as just bad manners are now reinterpreted as serious assaults.

In a biographical essay on Bertrand Russell, Alistair Cooke wrote:

"During his wartime stay in Princeton, when he was in his early seventies, the groves of academe were flustered by rumours of Lord Russell's goatish ways. One lady whose testimony is to be trusted made the shivering confession the the groping of the noble lord in an automobile conveyed the sensation of 'dry leaves rustling up your thighs' "

That was published in the 1970's without provoking any public outrage.

The quotation is from Alistair Cooke, Six Men  p. 204 in the Penguin Edition.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

More Worry About Profits

A few weeks ago there was much indignation because some firms were reporting either no profits, or very small profits, and thus avoiding Corporation Tax.

Today  complaints that Centrica has increased its profits, are not accompanied by any gratitude for the extra tax it will therefore pay.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

A Minor Success

I've decided to find our more about dynamic web sites, and have therefore installed server software (Apache) and php on one of my computers so that I can test php scripts without connecting to the Internet.

I actually works !!

I've also installed SQL, but haven't tested that yet; I'm saving it up for a later boast.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Fizzy Fallacy

I've recently heard demands for a 20% tax on 'fizzy drinks' blaming them for obesity.

Fizzy drinks fizz with carbon dioxide, which is unlikely to produce obesity in anything except a chlorophyll carrying green plant.

I gather that the objection to fizzy drinks is that many of them are also sugary, but not all are sugary, and many sugary drinks, and indeed sugary non-drinks, are not fizzy. However the self righteous do not condemn sugary drinks.  I suspect they concentrate on the fizziness because it make a big contribution to the drinkers enjoyment, and the real target may be not obesity, but enjoyment.

Puritanism about sex has become less popular so puritans have taken to pontificating about diet instead.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Senior Railcard Holders Beware

There seems to be a new scam.  I've just had an email from

It claims that there are 'only a few days' left on my railcard and bids me visit a website.

In fact my railcard has months to run.

I hate to think what would happen if I visited the indicated site.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Regulating Childcare

I recently heard that no child minder is allowed to look after more than two children under the age of 2.

How long will it be before we hear demands for triplets to be made illegal?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

High Speed Trains

Look at a map of England, and then meditate on the thought that the quickest way to travel from London to Nottingham might one day be through Birmingham.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Expensive Self-Indulgence

The Prime Minister has promised that, if he wins the next General Election he will hold a referendum on European Union membership after he has re-negotiated the terms.

I expect that, if he is ever in a position to keep his promise, things will turn out much as they did in the last referendum on the subject in 1975.

Minor cosmetic changes in our conditions of membership will be presented as a great triumph, and membership will be ratified by a large majority, with the Prime Minister claiming a great victory.

However, nothing significant will have been won, and the cost will be high. Business confidence will have been undermined, and it is possible that the cost of servicing the National Debt will rise. As we have more than two years to wait for the next General Election, much of that cost will be incurred even if the Conservatives lose the next election so the Prime Minister cannot keep his promise.

I think the Prime Minister is clever enough to realise the consequences of his announcement, making his action especially reprehensible.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Battery Care

A recent news item mentioned that batteries are often thrown away while they still hold a fair amount of charge.

What was not mentioned was that even if completely discharged, they can be recharged.

Many years ago a student told me that even batteries not sold as rechargeable can be recharged a few times. As I use mainly rechargeable s I'd never tested the claim until a few days ago when the battery in a remote control expired, and I had no rechargeables of the requisite size. I therefore tried recharging, and it worked!!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Distracted by Computer Code

I've been neglecting this blog to the extent that this is my first entry of the year.

I have been distracted by websites - my own and that of the Leicester U3A.

The problem was handling the menus. Originally each page had its own menu - very tiresome when I had to edit every page on the site to change the menu.

A few years ago I devised what has come to seem a distinctly Heath Robinson arrangement using frames and JavaScript to weld a single menu file onto whatever page was being viewed. Not only was it clumsy, but it behaved oddly. The refresh command took one back to the page one originally logged onto, not to the page one was viewing at the time.

A few weeks ago I investigated php, in particular the include command, and after pottering about for a while got it working. I then had to resolve competing styles, those used on the main pages and those needed by the menu, but today I got it all working, with considerably simpler code than I had before.

I'm so happy I don't mind even the snow !!