Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The BBC



Sir Cliff Richard has just been awarded considerable damages against the BBC. The damages, and the much larger sums in legal costs will be met by taxpayers, not by the BBC employees whose incompetence and irresponsibility created the liability.

I think that the Governors of the BBC, who are at present nominated by some arm of the Government, should instead be directly elected, bringing the Corporation under public control.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Noxious Nick


I'm pleased that the man referred to as 'Nick' is at last to be charged for making false accusations of abuse, but puzzled that his identity is still keep secret.

Those he unjustly accused were named even though they had not been charged. Naming an accuser could prompt other people who have been falsely accused by the same individual, or have other evidence of that person's unreliability to come forward to discredit them. Secret testimony is unreliable testimony.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

There's still some life in an antique brain


Without referring to any text book I recently constructed the deduction of Snell's Law for refraction from the assumption that light traveling between two points follows the path that minimizes the time taken.

It is reassuring to note that my brain still works, to some extent.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

Revelation


Browsing through the local branch of Waterstones I came upon an intriguing volume called 'Quantum Mechanics The Theoretical Minimum'. Following a reference in that book I discovered a website with a series of lectures on theoretical Physics with various supporting materials.

The object is to explain basic physical ideas as simply as possible, avoiding both the superficiality of the popular books that avoid Mathematics and therefore explain very little, and the obscurity of the texts that use quite abstruse mathematics without making any serious attempt to explain what they are doing. What I have read so far seems to be quite a good attempt. Two things that had been puzzling me are now clear, and I look forward to more enlightenment.



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Stray Hairs


I can't abide feeling hair over my ears. Now and again an obstinate strand drifts over an ear and resists my attempts to push it away.  I reach for the nearest pair of scissors and snip it off.

Most women and many men style their hair so that it completely covers their ears. How can they bear it!


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Linked Numbers



I've just realised that, to quite a close approximation, the mass of the earth in kilograms is given by

M = pi2*A  where A is Avogadro's Number



Sunday, 17 June 2018

Remembering Mini-Skirts


The current discussion of 'up-skirting' has reminded me of the days of mini-skirts.

In the late 1960's I was teaching a class of FE science students, all boys aged 16 or 17. Their 'General Studies' was taught by one of the teachers of English, a young lady who wore very short skirts and, to the delight of the students used to sit on one of the desks while she taught, so after each class the lads would announce the colour of her knickers, though without mobile phones they had no corroborative photographs.



Monday, 11 June 2018

Exhausted by Idleness.


Often I feel sleepy in the afternoons, but only on days when I'm not doing anything in particular. If I do some gardening, tidy the attic, or cook something elaborate, I stay wide awake and don't feel at all tired.

To summarise, nothing can be rather tiring.



Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Today is Tuesday


I make the announcement for the benefit of anyone else whose temporal bearings are disturbed by bank holiday Mondays.

When Monday is so much like Sunday, it is easy to mistake Tuesday for Monday. Occasionally my disorientation lasts for most of the week. However I'm making a special effort today, and am sure it's Tuesday, and that tomorrow will be Wednesday.





Thursday, 24 May 2018

A Fuss About Information.


I have quite a few interests and have therefore arranged for various organisations to send me information about their activities. Recently I've been irritated to receive numerous messages telling me that 'data protection' legislation requires that the flow of information must be discontinued unless I confirm I still want to receive it. That seems to me impertinence on the part of legislators. If I change my mind about a source of information, I can easily have those emails discontinued, without the intervention of self important politicians.


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Check Your Insurance Charges


It will soon be time to renew my house insurance, and I noticed the premium had risen a good deal in the last two years.

I rang to question it, and secured a reduction of about £190 in the premium.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

A Happy Coincidence


From time to time the flow of news in the media is disturbed by some event of no great consequence which still attracts unreasonable attention.

Today two such events coincide - the royal wedding and the cup final, so the tranqility of our thoughts is disturbed only once even though there are two distractions.

Happy day!!!



Sunday, 13 May 2018

Learning from Poirot


I recently gave into an impulse to buy a mango, my memories of the last time I wrestled with one having become faint.

As I wondered how to deal with it I remembered a television adaptation of a Poirot mystery, in the course of which the resourceful detective demonstrated the use of a dessert spoon to remove the stone from a mango, which he then turned inside out exposing the flesh.

Although I didn't make as neat a job as Poirot, who probably had support from the television studio's mango evisceration team, I found that mango much easier to eat then others I have dealt with.



Thursday, 10 May 2018

A Devious Television Set


I recently bought a new television set. After using it for a week or two I found that it is sometimes very slow to respond to its remote control.

Using a combination of reading glasses and magnifying glass I was just able to read the instructions, and noted that the set can be connected to the Internet. So far as I know no connection has been made, but it might have detected the WiFi signal in the  house and attempted to connect.

Unplugging the set and leaving it unplugged for several hours seems to have restored correct operation, at least for now.



Wednesday, 9 May 2018

An Insight into Local Money


I've long been puzzled by so called 'local money' - notes that are bought with orthodox currency, but can only be used in a certain locality "Why Bother?" I used to wonder.

Enlightenment was provided by a discussion of Lake District money on today's television news. Tourists who buy the local currency often don't spend it all. Some apparently keep notes as souvenirs. Although that wasn't mentioned on the program, I suspect some don't notice they have unspent local currency until they've gone home where they can't spend it. Lake District Pounds issued now are valid only for this year, so any not spent this year will become valueless. The local notes that can never be spent represent profit for the organisation issuing them.

I thought there must be a catch of some sort. It's quite satisfying to have found it.




Friday, 27 April 2018

Shivering in April.


Eliot chose his words well when he said April is the cruellest month

A few days ago we were charmed by the warmest April day for many years, but today I changed back into my Winter jacket, put on a scarf and raincoat and struggled through the rain wishing I'd remembered my gloves.


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Managing without Television



The television set in my dining room, which is the set I watch most, recently stopped showing pictures, though it still relays sound, so I can use it to listen to radio broadcasts. I find I can also follow television news programmes quite well even without the picture. However it's no use for detective stories or murders.

An advantage  of this is that I eat rather less. I'd been spending much of the evening watching the television, and eating snacks or sweets. Now I potter around the Internet, and manage without the snacks and sweets, which helps my campaign to lose weight. I'm therefore not in a great hurry to replace the television.


Saturday, 14 April 2018

Three Signs of Spring


Today, for the first time this year, I walked to the shops without an overcoat, I dried washing outside on the washing line, and I sat in the garden drinking a cup of tea and reading The Economist.


Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Misleading Statistic



Half appeals against Home Office decisions to deny people permission to live in Britain are successful. My initial reaction to that news was to wonder what was wrong with the Home Office, but on reflection I think that the proportion may be about right. It is not half of all decisions that are being overturned, but just half those that go to an appeals tribunal.

I should expect those to be cases where both the person appealing, and the Home Office officials consider they have a good case. If both sides exercise good judgement we might expect the result to be a draw, with each side winning about half the time.



Monday, 9 April 2018

Confessions of an Unwashed Ancient.


I'm just recovering from a rather bad cold. When it was at its worst, just over a week ago, I went without a bath for four days. I just couldn't face the prospect of getting wet all over.

I seem to have survived the period of uncleanliness unscathed. In my youth, when there was no heating in the bathroom, a weekly bath sufficed.  I suspect that these days we spend for too much time washing ourselves and our clothes.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The End of a Grim Story


When I learned of the death of Winnie Mandela, my only thought was of the 'necklace killings' of which she boasted so proudly.

Tires were fastened around the necks of victims and set on fire, so the victims died slowly and horribly. Sometimes the victims' relatives were encouraged to try to rescue them. As the burning tire welded to the victims neck, attempted rescue just pulled the victim to pieces, doubtless to the amusement of Ms Mandela and her followers.


Saturday, 24 March 2018

The Irish Border



Free movement of people and goods across the border between North and South Ireland is important to all who live in Ireland. Free movement of people has been allowed ever since Southern Ireland became the Irish Republic, and Irish people have always been allowed to settle in Britain and vote in elections here.

I remember going on holiday to the Irish Republic with my parents in the 1950's. No passports were required and I was intrigued to notice that Irish banknotes were guaranteed by the Bank of England.

Understandably people worry about the inconvenience of imposing border controls between North and Sough after Britain leaves the EU.

One solution would be for Ireland to be reunited with Britain, but that would offend the pride of citizens of the Irish Republic. An alternative would be for Britain to join a Greater Ireland, which could then hold another referendum on whether or not to be part of the EU.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Enlivened by the Spring


For the last few weeks I've been distressingly lazy, neglecting both blog and web site, instead messing about reading inconsequential odds and ends on the Internet, and gossiping with the cat - who is deaf and may well not be able to lip read.

Once the snow had melted in the Spring sunshine, I've been like a man reborn. I've walked all the way through the park, have planted by tomato seeds and replanted the camellia seedlings, and today I made a batch of lime marmalade, despite a power cut in the middle of the process. Allegedly a nearby substation caught fire.



Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Paucity of Pedestrians.


It recently struck me how few people I encounter walking along the street, and how few people I see walking past my house.

I live in walking distance of the shopping centre and walk there and back almost every day, but I see very few other people similarly occupied.

I fear that many people walk no further than their cars which they use even for quite short journeys.



Thursday, 8 March 2018

An Undiplomatic Diplomat


It was most unwise of our Foreign Secretary to hint in public that the recent use of nerve agents may be the responsibility of the Russian Government.

That possibility may have occurred to many of us, but official pronouncements on the question should await the collection of evidence. If the responsibility eventually turns out to lie elsewhere Mr. Johnson's remarks will be a great embarrassment. If investigations do reveal Russian involvement, the Foreign Secretary's premature comments will make it easier for the Russians to dismiss evidence by saying that we intended to blame them all along and manufactured evidence accordingly.



Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Expensive Tickets


From time to time there are media reports of high prices charged for tickets to sporting events and concerts.

The organisers appear to sell all their tickets rather quickly, but tickets are still offered for sale by secondary suppliers that charge much more than the nominal charge.

That suggests to me that the organisers of the events do not charge enough in the first place. Raise the official prices and the 'tickets touts' and internet re-sellers would no longer flourish.



Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Neglected Lavatories in Newham


A few days ago there were news reports that Newham Council had appealed to shopkeepers not to sell corrosive materials such as lavatory cleaners to anyone younger than 21.

The lower age limit for marriage is 16, so I imagine Newham has married couples both younger than 21, and some of those may have their own accommodation. There may be other households in which someone younger than 21 does the shopping for relatives too dilapidated to shop for themselves.

I do not envy them their unclean lavatories!



Friday, 23 February 2018

Making Education Fun ???



I note that the President of the USA considers arming teachers so that they can defend their pupils against armed attack.

How would the president respond if some teacher, infuriated by a disorderly class, shot them all?

Perhaps children would then be armed so they could protect themselves against berserk teachers.

Schools might then be as exciting as those computer games in which players try to shoot as many individuals as they can, and children could be judged by the number of their kills.



Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Facts of the Matter


Inspired by seeing an Internet posting suggesting that there might be no such things as facts, I wrote a short note on the subject. here it is



Sunday, 11 February 2018

Puritanical Over Reaction


I have reservations about the fuss over Oxfam staff employing prostitutes in Haiti.

The affair is being treated as if it were on a par with child abuse, or senior staff abusing their authority by making advances to subordinates.

The employment of a prostitute may be a straightforward transaction between consenting adults, in which case it is a private matter between the two people concerned.

There may well be other factors, but if there are they have not so far been explained.



Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The End of Home Chemistry



There are proposals to prevent people younger than 18 from buying corrosive substances.

Such a restriction in my youth it would have been a serious impediment to my intellectual development.

I received a chemistry set when I was about nine years old - I don't remember whether it was a Christmas present or a birthday present. It was made up by a colleague of my father's and contained several substances too poisonous to be permitted in a modern chemistry set.

For a year or two I just performed the experiments recommended in the instructions. When I started at the Grammar school, just before my eleventh birthday, I began to learn some chemistry and started to extend the chemistry set so that I could duplicate what we did at school. Chemistry became my hobby and I read well beyond the school syllabus, and by my fifteenth birthday I was studying Chemistry Physics and Mathematics at A Level, and had converted the small third bedroom to my 'laboratory', in which lethal substances abounded without ever causing me any injury.

Gradually my interest in Mathematics grew at the expense of Chemistry and I eventually became a Maths teacher, but it was Chemistry that led me to Science and Maths in the first place. What would have become of me without that stimulus ?