28 May 2009

Amended DID Meme


Amended DID Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

As most UK readers will know Desert Island Discs (DID) is a radio programme where a celebrity is asked to nominate the 8 records they would want if cast-a-way alone on a desert island. They are also allowed one book (they get the Bible and Shakespeare as well) and one luxury item (as long as it doesn't aid them in escaping). It has been broadcast every week for well over 50 years!

This week's Flickr meme follows the DID theme: chose 5 CD's (to be loaded onto an iPod), 2 books, 4 luxury items and 1 food item of which you get an unlimited supply.

OK, so here are my choices:
1. CD: Monteverdi, 1610 Vespers
2. CD: Beatles, Let It Be
3. CD: Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
4. CD: Granados, Goyescas (Piano Music)
5. CD: JS Bach, Complete Organ Works
6. Book: Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time (yes, I'll have all 12 volumes, thank you!)
7. Book: Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
8. Luxury: Digital Camera with Assorted Lenses, battery charger, etc.
9. Luxury: PC with Internet Connection and Photoshop
10. Luxury: Prolifically Fruiting Avocado Tree
11. Luxury: Large Swiss Army Knife
12. Food: Nuts (assorted types)
Oh and I've mixed it up a bit as every one of the images is a collage.

This week’s Flickr meme could go one of two ways: either show us 12 of your favourites from other photographers or show us 12 favourite pictures you've taken! I have chosen to do the former; so here are 12 of my favourites from 12 other photographers -- and not a pretty girl in sight (for once!). I might do 12 of my own favourites later in the week; or I might do 12 pretty girls from amongst my Flickr favourites.

1. Detail2 Poppea, 2. Art Project I, 3. Two lost souls, 4. The Crooked Coda: Toccare, 5. Orgelmuseum Malchow, 6. Sparkle With The Joy of Life, 7. Tales and Legends ~ Alice in Wonderland, 8. four amigos (hockney style), 9. Collage fragment3, 10. avocado, 11. Swiss army yo-yo, 12. Well Grab Your Drink And Clear A Space, I Think It's Time To Torch This Place

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

24 May 2009

Pandemic

Following on from my post of yesterday, it seems that WHO really are bowing to political pressure and redefining pandemic to take account of virulence as well as geographical spread. As an academic, Vincent Racaniello, author of the Virology Blog, is typically scathing:

WHO redefining pandemic is absurd. Pandemic is an epidemiological definition that has nothing to do with virulence [...] Although pandemic is most frequently associated with influenza virus, other infectious agents may cause worldwide epidemics [...] WHO should leave textbook writing to others. To paraphrase Andre Lwoff, a pandemic is a pandemic. The word implies nothing about virulence - and has little to do with politics.

As a fully paid-up pedant (and erstwhile academic) I entirely agree.

23 May 2009

H Asleep - Join the Dots


H Asleep - Join the Dots, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Harry the cat asleep on my study chair; he was so dead to the world he didn't even twitch a whisker while I leant across for my camera and took photographs until I moved the chair slightly; even then all he did was open half an eye! The cropping was a bit of an experiment.

A Practical Use for Cats

Another snippet which interested me (as an ailurophile) this week is from the May 2009 issue of Subterranea*:

A Practical Use for Cats

An unsubstantiated item of Derbyshire folklore claims the application of a cat to useful purposes, in connection with the development of lead mining at Bole Hill, near Wirksworth. Here shafts had been sunk, and lead ore raised, to considerable depths, until the water-table was reached necessitating expensive pumping if mining was to follow the ore deeper.

From 1772 a drainage tunnel (the Meerbrook sough) was driven under the hill from the valley of the river Derwent, intended to connect with a shaft then of the order of 200 metres deep. The tunnel was not in one straight line, as it made diversions from time to time to follow veins of galena as they were encountered. After 26 years or so, when the tunnel was getting close to the shaft, the question arose how to effect the meeting of the two with least wasted labour.

The solution, local legend has it, was provided by a cat, taken along the very wet tunnel into the heart of the hill. Boring was commenced at the bottom of the shaft at a predetermined time. The cat in the tunnel turned to look in the direction of the sound, thus indicating the exact alignment needed for the final length of the drainage tunnel. This was repeated several metres further along the same tunnel, allowing the determination of the shaft's location by triangulation.

* Subterranea is the magazine of Subterranea Britannica, the "society devoted to the study of man-made and man-used underground structures and the archaeology of the Cold War".

Pandemic or Not?

Revere over at Effect Measure, has been writing a lot recently about the so-calle "Swine Flu" outbreak; not suprising as the editors are public health practitioners. A post the other day caught my eye; it explored when is a pandemic not a pandemic. Basically Revere explores the position with the current Influenza A/H1N1 outbreak and touches on some of the posturing going on by governments, WHO etc. to avoid declaring this a pandemic.

Yes, all very well; this is what we would surely expect of politicians. What struck me though was this wonderful paragraph:

The argument boils down to this. We shouldn't call a pandemic a pandemic, because people might misunderstand that this means it's a pandemic. And then they would do things like panic, like UK officials are doing now when the prospect is broached we are having a pandemic. And since even the considerable wiggle room of the current definition of a pandemic is insufficient to avoid calling this one a pandemic, please provide us with some more wiggle room by adding severity to the mix, so we can then argue about whether the pandemic is severe enough to be a pandemic.

The original post isn't technical and it isn't long but it does highlight the way in which governments etc. use as much (and more) wriggle room as is available in their own interests. Politics was ever thus!

21 May 2009

Favourites Meme the Second - for Relaxation


Favourites Meme the Second, originally uploaded by kcm76.

I am so drained this evening after a non-stop, battering day at work that I just cannot get to do anything! Sorry to those who are waiting for emails or literary society work from me; it just cannot be did this evening. I can't even concentrate on writing a decent weblog post! So I decided to do a second version of this week's Flickr meme, only this time containing some of my favourites from amongst my own photos. Looking at my Flickr Photostream it contains an awful lot of crap, but amongst it the odd gem. These aren't necessarily my best shots (anyway who is to say what is best, you or me? -- your best is my rubbish) but are the first dozen I picked that I like. So have an evening off and enjoy! Now I shall go and read.

Oh and just for the record these shots span some 20+ years. #9 is the earliest; taken I think in the mid to late 80s (and obviously on film); #10 is the most recent taken just a 3-4 of weeks ago.

1. Apothecary's Rose
2. Tabby Tiger
3. Red Shoveller Duck
4. Iris 3
5. Double Departure from Alexisbad (3)
6. Warbrook House (Rear)
7. French Lavender 2
8. Deep Pink Cyclamen
9. Floss Cat
10. Camellia
11. Armco Sundown
12. Early Morning December 2

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

18 May 2009

Favourites Meme


Favourites Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week’s Flickr meme could go one of two ways: either show us 12 of your favourites from other photographers or show us 12 favourite pictures you've taken! I have chosen to do the former; so here are 12 of my favourites from 12 other photographers -- and not a pretty girl in sight (for once!). I might do 12 of my own favourites later in the week; or I might do 12 pretty girls from amongst my Flickr favourites. ;-)

As always these photographs are not mine so please click on individual links below to see each artist/photostream. This mosaic is for a group called My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and normally 12 questions to send you out on a hunt to discover photos to fit your meme. It gives you a chance to see and admire other great photographers' work out there on Flickr.

1. Frühling - spring in Oberberg, 2. Washing station in Nikko, 3. Wintery Temple, 4. New!, 5. Untitled, 6. Golden Clusters, 7. Tranquillity, 8. Detroit People Mover: "Voyage," Joe Louis Arena Station--Detroit MI, 9. Nothing compares to you, 10. Just before Dawn, 11. CurlyFred., 12. Don't Be Koi

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

16 May 2009

Word of the Week

Hamthrax. n. An influenza-type disease, possibly originating in pigs and mostly benign, about which governments get paranoid.

All-Weather Spectacles

The Feedback column in New Scientist recently asked its readers

to describe your own Wallace-and-Gromit-style invention in no more than 100 words. Many of you focused on just one important aspect of the Wallace and Gromit canon: reading through your entries, it has been a revelation to us how many productive uses cheese - especially Wensleydale - can be put to. Knitting, mice running on treadmills and modified bicycles also figured in many of your inventions.

However of the five published winners, this was my favourite:

As well as having reactive lenses, these spectacles have a built-in rain sensor that activates lens wipers in wet conditions. There is also a light detector, which will switch on lights in the spectacle arms when it is dark, to help you see. In strong sunlight, a nose shield will automatically be unfurled to prevent unsightly sunburn on the nose. In extreme cold, the frame of the spectacles will heat up to help keep your face warm. The spectacles are powered by a small wind turbine attached to each arm. Stylish yet practical.

It was the small wind turbines that finally finished me off!

Maybe that's because I went to the opticians this week for a new pair of specs, during which I discovered the new "must have" frames ... they come with magnetic "clip-on" polarizing sunglasses. Magnetic? Where does magnetism come in? Well rather than clipping on to the specs with what one might term "adapted paperclips" they are held on by small magnets. On the sides of the shades (where the hinge would normally be) there is a small magnet. On the equivalent place on the frames, integrated into the hinge, is another small magnet. An instant docking mechanism. So simple when one thinks about it, and yet it apparently hasn't been tried before; no doubt someone will tell me they've been around for years but I've never seen, or been offered, them before. OK, they're not cheap, but in the overall scheme of things they aren't expensive either especially when one considers that my lenses cost a week's wages. Eeeekk!

10 May 2009

Who, What, When Meme


Who, What, When Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr meme is "Who, What, When".

So here are the questions and my answers:
1. Why … ? Because
2. How … ? Howzat?
3. Who … ? Hoodlum
4. What … ? Watendlath
5. Where … ? Ware, Hertfordshire
6. When … ? Wensleydale
7. Which … ? Witches Knickers
8. Whether … ? Sunshine and showers
9. If … ? If you can dream
10. Why not … ? So it doesn’t come adrift
11. So … ? Somnambulist
12. If only … ? I only had a hammer

As always these photographs are not mine so please click on individual links below to see each artist/photostream. This mosaic is for a group called My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and normally 12 questions to send you out on a hunt to discover photos to fit your meme. It gives you a chance to see and admire other great photographers' work out there on Flickr.

1. Because ♥, 2. howzat, 3. cactaceous, 4. Geese at Watendlath Tarn, 5. Ware, St. Mary's church, 6. red sky at night 4.5 oz wensleydale roving, 7. Around these parts..., 8. Cricket On The Box Again, 9. If you can Dream and not make Dreams your master..- Rudyard Kipling, 10. Bunny blanket buddy, 11. The Somnambulist, 12. If only I had a hammer

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Quote: Sense

Don't worry about things not making sense, a journey only makes sense if you finish it.

[Jose Saramago]

04 May 2009

Katyboo posted this meme the other day, and as she didn't tag people, preferring us to elect or not, I'll take the bait. Well it's better than doing whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing.

The rules of the meme are: Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Then tag eight people.

What are your current obsessions? Depression. I don’t know why I’m so depressed at the moment (I’ll blame work, it’s as good a scapegoat as any, but it almost certainly isn't the only factor) but it is taking over and stopping me doing things.

Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? The Emperor’s new suit. Nudity and getting fresh, cooling, air to the body is actually good for you; it stops you getting all sticky and sweaty in places you don't want to. I do wear a pair of shorts or jeans (more if I need to) during the week, if only so I can get to the front door quickly. Otherwise I follow the maxim "Nude when possible, clothed when necessary".

What’s for dinner? Vegetable Crumble, I think. Well we are trying to be good and reduce our meat intake for the sake of our health and the planet. And Noreen does a mean veggie crumble with mushroom, onion or cheese sauce. Yum, yum!

Last thing you bought? In a shop? Not a clue; I hardly ever got to shops these days. Online? Some scented geraniums.

What are you listening to? The hum of my PC. I can't take continual background music (let alone talk) these days. I suspect that's related to the depression.

Do you have a pet and if not, why not? Yes, two cats and lots of fish (both tropical and in the pond). And no, the cats take no interest whatsoever in the fish.

Favourite holiday spots? Dorset and South Devon, by the sea. Well anywhere quiet by the sea really.

Reading right now? My PC screen, stoopid! :-)

Four words to describe yourself? Fat, grey, snotty, depressed.

Guilty pleasure? Why do pleasures always have to be guilty? Erotica. Yes and I'm unashamed about it. In the words of Jean-Luc Goddard, "Eroticism ... is consenting to live." If no-one ever found anything erotic we'd none of us be here!

Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? edartr at Flickr's photographs of his hilarious two dogs; see here for example.

First spring thing? Zebedee

Planning to travel to next? Norwich to see my mother. Don't know when yet, but it should be soon.

Best thing you ate or drank lately? East Green

Do you have any weird phobias? No. There are things I dislike intensely, like maggots, but nothing which turns me into a complete gibbering wreck.

Favourite ever film? As I don’t do films I’ll change this one. My question is: What time is it now, and what time would you like it to be? It's currently 1150 hrs, and thus fast approaching lunchtime. What time would I like? The time I can drink beer freely again.

Care to share some wisdom? “It’ll pass, Sir, like other days in the Army.”

Favourite song? Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly. Well that’s one of them anyway.

What’s your favourite meal you make without sticking to a recipe? Curry. But then I almost never use a recipe for anything except cake – and I never make cake.

Who would play you in a movie of your life? Who would be stupid enough to even consider it? Maybe Harpo Marx? Actually Woody Allen probably suits my personality better. :-(

Facebook or Twitter? Other or Neither? For preference neither. I do dabble on Facebook from time to time, mainly as a way of not quite losing touch with people. But as far as I can see Twitter is a complete waste of time and everything else; no-one has yet managed to explain the point to me. The same goes for Second Life and YouTube.

What is your favourite word? What do you mean I’m not allowed that one? It’s a perfectly good Anglo-Saxon word. Oh OK, let’s have something boring then, like corvid.

OK, so here’s the question I’ve added: If you were to have one piece of luck this week, what would it be? To win the lottery so I can afford to retire.

Like Katyboo I don't like tagging people – although I'm always happy to be tagged – so you can all choose to take part or not. If you do, just leave a message and a link in the comments, please. Enjoy!

03 May 2009

Do-Nut Meme


Do-Nut Meme, originally uploaded by kcm76.

This week's Flickr "meme is fairly simple – let's all find a dozen tasty treats in a breakfast favourite – DONUTS!"

Well as I don’t normally do doughnuts (I’m diabetic so I have to try to avoid things like that), never for breakfast, nor with American spelling, here are some "do nut(ty)" shots instead!

As always these photographs are not mine so please click on individual links below to see each artist/photostream. This mosaic is for a group called My Meme, where each week there is a different theme and normally 12 questions to send you out on a hunt to discover photos to fit your meme. It gives you a chance to see and admire other great photographers' work out there on Flickr.

1. Do-Nuts, 2. Immunda Aequus, 3. Light wielding, 4. Hyacinth Macaw Cracking Brazil Nut, 5. A squirrel on a mission, 6. He's on the naughty list, 7. "I do nut like nut! I really do nut!", 8. Neon Nuts, 9. Feliz Natal .... Merry Christmas ....., 10. Yowah Nut Opal, Austrailia, 11. Nut Nut, 12. Monkey Nuts ...

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

02 May 2009

Mexican Swine 'Flu Hysteria

Simon Jenkins is right on the money. Writing in last Wednesday's Guardian he lays into all the doomsayers jumping on the "swine 'flu" bandwagon. Just the headline says it all:

Swine flu? A panic stoked in order to posture and spend
Despite the hysteria, the risk to Britons' health is tiny - but that news won't sell papers or drugs, or justify the WHO's budget

As that suggests Jenkins is highly critical of governments; medics and scientists (who, let's face it, advise governments and have careers to nurture); the WHO; and the pharmaceutical manufacturers (who have big profits to make). He starts with a full-on rapier thrust at government:

Appropriately panicked, on Monday ministers plunged into their Cobra bunker beneath Whitehall to prepare for the worst. Had Tony Blair been about they would have worn germ warfare suits. British government is barking mad.

But he also says:

We appear to have lost all ability to judge risk. The cause may lie in the national curriculum, the decline of "news" or the rise of blogs and concomitant, unmediated hysteria, but people seem helpless in navigating the gulf that separates public information from their daily round. They cannot set a statistic in context. They cannot relate bad news from Mexico to the risk that inevitably surrounds their lives.

And then even more tellingly ...

Meanwhile a real pestilence, MRSA and C difficile, was taking hold in hospitals. It was suppressed by the medical profession because it appeared that they themselves might be to blame. These diseases have played a role in thousands of deaths

[...]

MRSA and C difficile are not like swine flu, an opportunity for public figures to scare and posture and spend money. They are diseases for which the government is to blame.

It seems to me the real diseases underlying all this appear to be vested interests and public hysteria.

You can read Simon Jenkins's full article here.