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.