Recently in Spouting Category

It's that time of year again

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Yup, it's Halloween and yet again I'm expecting to be subjected to demands with menace.

Apple Fan Boy?

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I've got a Mac Pro, the famously quiet workstation

When 100% isn't enough

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I originally started this in April 2008 but ironically didn't get round to posting it. So I was interested to see a recent article on the BBC site covering a similar topic.

Anyone else getting fed up with the increasingly generalised mathematical innumeracy?

Thank God for Siberia

I've never like trick-or-treating. As far as I am concerned it is an imported American habit (much like those ghastly school "proms" that seem to have sprung up every summer complete with screaming girls hanging out of limo windows) with little to recommend it. No doubt it has been imported through endless teen movies, although there doesn't seem to be the full follow-through

My recollection for Halloween is toffee apples, costumes, carving pumpkins (or in our family swedes because they were much cheaper), parties and ducking for apples - what was wrong with that? OK, I can't really take offence at a few tots dressing up and being escorted round knocking on doors in the hope of a handful of sweets. But more usually it's a gang of teenagers demanding money with menaces, the "tricks" being thinly disguised vandalism and any offer of sweets as treats being turned down with a sneer. 

So thank God for Siberia, or more particularly Siberian winds, because that seems to have done the trick and I've not been treated to any unwelcome visitors tonight.

Update: Oh Dear.

6 Million Idiots

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Apparently because 6 million idiots injured themselves by not watching where they were going the taxpayer has to provide padding around the lampposts.

Carbon Asset Units

I was reading my friend Paul's comment on open plan cube farms and discussing it with another friend.

We felt that perhaps the division of the space into cubes and offices was reinforcing the feeling that cube occupants were "human capital". Certainly a large scale cube farm can have the feel of the stockyard about it (although many people will never have seen one due to the death of local markets).

The original usage of "capital" (orig. Latin capitalis "of the head") was as shorthand to refer to the amount of farm animals that were owned, since these were counted by the head (as in "heads of cattle").

I have never much cared for the various euphemisms for "employees" that have gained favour in recent times: "human resources", "human capital" etc. I'm sure they were introduced in an attempt to persuade stockholders and investors that employees were a good thing. But internally they end up dehumanising. What's wrong with "personnel" ? Presumably it doesn't allow the mental trick of considering all employees equivalent "resources" to be swapped around at will, rather than as persons with unique abilities, knowledge, attitudes and concerns ?

My friend then coined the term "Carbon Asset Unit", or CAU for short, to refer to cube occupants. It is, of course, pronounced "cow".

The Government's Shell Game with ID cards

Oh come on now, how dumb do you think we are ? The cost of the ID card will be capped at £30 ?

Bollocks, the *price* might be capped at £30 but the cost will remain far higher, what with £10 *billion* of infrastructure to provide. Not even counting the inevitable doubling of the cost like every other government IT project. And of course this money just floats down from the money tree farm doesn't it.

This is just a shell game, the rest of the money will have to come from general taxation. So that's several £billions that could have gone to providing real security, or schools, or hospitals. Say No2ID.

Completely Stupid Menu Design On Canon IXUS 700

I bought Tamzin a new camera (IXUS 700) because her Sureshot S45 was a bit too large to carry around. The Canon digitals' have a neat feature called "StitchAssist". This makes creating a multi-shot panorama easier by presenting a portion of the previous image in the viewfinder to simplify alignment.

That is not a carrot

I had honestly thought that my taste buds must be wearing out, since food just doesn't taste how I remember it tasting as a child. But growing the odd vegetable at home, combined with a recent trip to France has actually reinforced the truth - vegetables just don't taste like they used to.

Supermarket Carrot

And now a slew of programs on television are concentrating on this fact, and just how bad British food is. Tonight I watched the second part of the Dispatches "Supermarket Secrets" program, and finally we get the explanation: it's not exactly the supermarkets' fault, they attempt to maximise profit by determining what people will buy. The real cause : British consumers don't know how to buy food - going for looks over taste.

It's not clear why this has happened. It is possible that we have never cared much about food and it's taste, but the development of technology, intensive production and the centralising power of the supermarkets have taken this to the logical conclusion - tasteless, cosmetically perfect food, produced with the aid of high doses of pesticides and computerised sorting that wastes upto 30% of production.

So my recommendation is to set aside a small portion of your garden, or even the odd plant pot, and grow a handful of vegetables yourself. This way you will discover that they come in strange shapes and sizes,
Real Carrot

but they all have far more taste. This carrot, freshly pulled, could be smelt from the other side of the room. Scrubbed clean, it can be eaten raw with the skin left on (since we grew it ourselves, we know that no chemicals were applied). Fantastic !

Re-educate your palate - and start to demand Real Food.

PS: What's a real pity is that large industry lobbying power may force France and other EU countries down the same path, all in the name of "efficiency".

Are Americans Genetically Optimistic ?

After watching an episode of Channel 4's Pioneer House, it struck me that you'd have to be pretty optimistic to have been an early migrant to the New World. Even if news of the appalling survival statistics didn't make it back to the motherland, the migration would be a step into the complete unknown, starting with a terrifying ocean voyage. Even later migrations, whilst frequently fleeing abject poverty, would be based purely on the hope of a better life. That seems a pretty good definition of optimism to me.

So I wondered if this meant that the population of the US was seeded by overwhelmingly optimistic people, and this has led to a genetic bias in favour of optimism in the US ?

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