Monday, 29 June 2009

Absent Mindedness

I've just deleted a post that duplicated the one I made on 24th.

Oh dear!!!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Reith Lectures

I'm not a great enthusiast, but this year's Reith lectures coincide with my washing up after breakfast. I usually listen to Radio 4 then and so far the lectures haven’t irritated me enough for me to dry my hands in order to switch off, but they do irritate me a little.

The lecturer bases much of his argument on scholastic ideas of nature and necessity. Qualities of subjects are divided into the essential and the merely contingent, and the nature of something seems to consist of the set of its necessary qualities.

Those distinctions involve great difficulties, in my opinion so great that the distinctions are useless. However there is no sign that the speaker is even aware that there are any difficulties.
See chapter 5 of my Philosophy notes for a discussion of the problems involved.

I wonder if he's using long words he barely understands in the hope of impressing.

Friday, 26 June 2009

A penny Drops

I'd long been baffled by the suggestion that when data from a form is sent according to the GET protocol it is included in a URL

Enlightenment came yesterday. I was pouring over an example in a book about CGI programming and suddenly realised what was meant.

The data is attached to the URL of the program designed to to process it.

I've never come across an explicit statement to that effect. Why do computer folk so often feel the need to communicate in winks and nudges, instead of in plain English prose ?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Alone On the Top Deck

The bus I caught into town today was a double-decker. When I climbed the stairs I found I had the top deck to myself, so I was able to sit at the very front.

That's always been my favourite seat, but there used to be keen competition for it. These days I'm rarely denied it.

The top deck used to be populated mainly by smokers and schoolchildren. The former have been abolished, and there seem to be far fewer of the latter on buses these days, but it still surprises me that more people aren't attracted to the top deck for the wonderful view of things hidden from those who travel nearer the ground.

Most buses on the routes I use are single-deckers; perhaps many people forget there ever is an upper deck.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Judicial Arithmetic

I recently heard a broadcast interview with Lord Carlisle, in which he explained the need for detention orders against potential terrorists. He said that 'ninety nine point nine recurring percent' of the Muslim's living in Britain reject Al Quaeda and terrorism.

99.9 recurring = 100 so his assertion entails that they all reject terrorism.  If there were no terrorist sympathisers, there would be no need for detention orders.

I'm sure he didn't mean that so he should have chosen his words more carefully.

Those who don't understand arithmetic shouldn't use long words like 'recurring' just to impress.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Counting Slowly

Yesterday evening I watched the reporting of  European Election results on the BBC 24 hours news program.

I was surprised how long it took for the British results to appear. We voted on Thursday, yet many countries that voted yesterday still produced complete results while all we had were the results for the North East.

Perhaps our civil servants need bigger abacuses !

Friday, 5 June 2009

A Devious Journey

On Wednesday I went to London backwards.

My train left Leicester travelling Northwards, turned East to go through Melton Mowbray and Oakham, then entered Peterborough travelling in a South Easterly direction.

At Peterborough I was able to scamper across the bridge to arrive at platform 2 just in time to board a Southbound train for King's Cross, whence I had an invigorating walk to St. Pancras where I had arranged to meet Gerard, with whom I then visited Kew Gardens.

It was all  much more exciting than the conventional journey, though it was not what I intended when  I set out that morning.

What I hadn't allowed for was the body at Bedford.

When I arrived at Leicester station, rather early, I noticed the train before mine waiting in the station, it's expected departure time moving forward so as to be always a minute or two later than the prevailing time. On the platform were two groups or railway staff in earnest conclave, mobile phones pressed to their ears.

When I asked if anything was wrong I learnt that trains had been stopped until police had finished examining the corpse of someone who had inconsiderately jumped underneath a train near Bedford. The devious route through Peterborough as suggested as the best bet.

We do make an unreasonable fuss about bodies. Once someone is dead, their remains are of little significance except as evidence where foul play is suspected, or as teaching materials if someone has died in an especially instructive way.

 Usually it should be enough for someone to take a few witness statements and a few photographs and then move the body to the side of the track where the police could examine it at their leisure, allowing trains to thunder by at their customary 100 mph.