30 September 2007

Thought for the Day

Is Bluetongue what you get as a result of Foot in Mouth disease?

28 September 2007

Friday Five: Racing on the Thunder

1. Do you dance? No. I never have except at the occasional disco as a student. My knees wouldn't do it now.

2. Would you consider yourself religious? Not in the least. I am anti all religions. I believe they are only devil worship, unnecessary and do more harm than good.

3. Do you talk about politics? Not if I can help it; after all politics is only another religion.

4. When is the last time you asked for forgiveness? Haven't got a clue. I generally don't need to be forgiven as I seldom if ever do anything wrong. :-)

5. Friday fill-in:I’m holding out for a big lottery win and retirement. :-)

[Brought to you courtesy of Friday Fiver]

23 September 2007

Quote: All that we are ...

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.

[Dhammapada, Chapter 1:1-2]

21 September 2007

Not really so unlike today ...

… England’s burgeoning prosperity, carried on a tide of coal and woollens and overseas ventures, and London’s unassailable claim to be England’s only city worth a fart, … with a boom that drew thousands of new dwellers to the capital each year, from across the land and from across the seas. And so the monasteries had at last been cleared, or their better halls kept and taken over for use by the city’s wealthy … grand town houses of the nobility now stretched along the Strand, each with its private stairs down to the Thames, for boats were the fastest and least troublesome way to travel about the crowded city, … and Thomas Gresham’s Royal Exchange, with its great open piazza and arcaded colonnade and hundred shops for goldsmiths and armourers and financiers, had opened on the east end of Cheapside, heralding London’s arrival as the great centre of European trade and finance it had become.

And with the grandeur of prosperity came the squalor of prosperity, for each year the city burst a bit more to accommodate the destitute and the adventurers and the ambitious and the refugees drawn by hope or impelled by need. Within the city, hovels and tenements jostled with grand houses and merchants’ stalls; just beyond the gates, beyond the reach of the law of the good bourgeois aldermen, the filthy cottages of the poor crowded along the main roads to the north and the east, colonizing the fields where cattle had grazed but a few years before. Farther out, the brick kilns of Islington attracted the more desperate, the homeless unemployed looking for a warm place to sleep while they scrounged for work. And across the river, to the south, the suburb of Southwark teemed with shipwrights and sailors and semi-skilled craftsmen and foreigners and prostitutes, and with the crowds who frequented prostitutes and the bull-baitings and bear-baitings nearby.

The watermen who jammed the Thames calling “Westward ho!” and “Eastward ho!” for fares, and the carriers who carted in water to all who could afford to save themselves from the sickness and death of drinking right from the foul river; and the speculators who divided up some of the old decaying palaces of the wealthy into rude tenements, and the prostitutes, and the bull-baiters, and the butchers, and the tavern keepers, and the prison wardens, all saw little to choose between grandeur and squalor: demand was demand, and prosperity was prosperity.

It was not democracy; but London’s hugger-mugger jumbling together of rich and poor, merchants and seamen, aristocrats and tradesmen, cosmopolitans and vagabonds, foreigners and yokels, meant that all kinds of men crossed paths in London’s streets and alleys and churches. The parish register … lists them all in their succinct catalogue of baptisms, marriages, and burials: knight, parson, stranger; baker, cobbler, carpenter; gentleman, silkweaver, scrivener; merchant, blackamoor, vintner, broker, sugarmaker, porter. And so they all lived upon and walked upon the same streets, and rubbed elbows in the same taverns, and occasionally even the same prisons; and they heard things, and knew things, well outside the conventional stations that Elizabethan society assigned to men.

From: Stephen Budiansky, Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Franis Walsingham and the Birth of Modern Espionage; Plume/Penguin; 2006; ISBN 0452287472

14 September 2007

What we Value -- Branding

I was interested to see a recent article in Businessweek showing the world's top 100 brands. No I'm not going to list all 100, you can find the full article here, but the top five are:
A number of things surprised me about this. First of all that GE (General Electric) were in the top five. Secondly the significant difference in brand value between the first four and Nokia in too surprised at most of the entries. Perhaps not surprisingly I had at least heard of all the top 100 brands. I was surprised that Ford and Kodak had both fallen over 10 places in the last year. The top UK brand is HSBC in 23rd place, and the full list contains only 6 UK owned brands. Of course just over half the brands are US owned, followed by 10 which are German owned.

06 September 2007

Zen Mischievous Moments #134

Sign seen recently in a bookshop:
Fantasy Fiction -- 2 for the Price of 3

Quote: Everything

Everything is imprinted for everwith what it once was.

[Jeanette Winterson]

02 September 2007

What is Your Dangerous Idea?

Steve Mirsky has written an interesting column in the"Antigravity" series in September issue of Scientific American. It talks about a book with the title What is Your Dangerous Idea? edited by John Brockman in which scientists and intellectuals pose what they consider to be dangerous (mostly intellectual) ideas.

Some of the ideas quoted in the article include:

The planet is fine. The people are f*^#ed ... the planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.
The idea that we should all share our most dangerous ideas.
Test the hypothesis first posited as a child that a red towel tied around the neck will indeed confer the ability to fly.

Mirsky ends with

Bertrand Russell’s truly treacherous notion: “I wish to propose ... a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it true.” The danger of ignoring this doctrine can almost certainly be found in the politics or world events stories on the front page of today’s New York Times. On whatever day you read this.

You can find the full article here.

So what is your dangerous idea? Add a comment to tell us! If nothing else it's a fun game!

Oh, what, mine? Well let's start with: Ban the motor car and the aeroplane!