Sunday, March 07, 2010

Expanding the legal framework of marriage - why should we draw the line where we do?

Why do we think that the state has the right to intervene in some aspects of relationship (such as the expanded definition of marriage to include homosexuals) but not others. Why stop there? Why not expand the definition of marriage to allow polygamous groups of men and women to all be married if they so desire?

Similarly why do we allow certain “religious” rights to groups such as Christians, Moslems and Jews, but bar similar rights from groups of people such as Jedi Nights or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster, or followers of “The Dude”.

Both of these questions point in the direction of the historicist nature of our moral framework. The answer to both these questions is so obvious and yet terribly confronting to our law makers. There is no real ground upon which our moral framework rests, other than the weight of the past, combined with the relative size, determination and assertiveness of any such special interest groups.

The reason we allow air stewards to wear crosses, but not carry plastic toy light-sabres is because people have been wearing crosses for 2000 years, whereas they have only been wearing plastic toy light-sabres for 20.

And same sex marriages between couples is a more similar structure of commitment between people to the previously existing framework of marriage, than is marriage amongst mixed or same same-sex groups of an arbitrary size or self-determined composition.

What makes us think that the laws we make in such cases are right and acceptable, is not ever based on any reference to some Platonic notion of “The Good”. Rather it is simply an extension of our prejudices from our past as they colour the determination of those alive in the present to stand up for their own vision of what is personally desirable.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You don't have to have been speeding to get a speeding fine

Things you may not know about speeding fines in the UK:

(1) You don't have to have been speeding to receive a speeding fine:

For example:

You don't have to have been speeding to get a speeding fine

Not a speeding fine but still a fixed penalty notice:

Man given a fixed penalty notice for blowing his nose while in a stationery car

(2) You are assumed guilty until you manage to prove yourself innocent. To prove your innocence will probably take hundreds of hours of your time, may require hiring specialised lawyers and expert witnesses, and even after all that work and stress and worry and time and money spent, a judge may still decide you are guilty even if you are not.

(3) Speeding fines tend to get issued to the "easy targets". Anyone with any real intention to flout the law regarding speed limits, simply invests in the top of the range radar detection equipment, and doesn't get caught. It is the people who can't afford that equipment (and hence also can't afford the fines and extra insurance they have to pay because of points on their license) who are the ones who suffer. As usual, rich people are at complete liberty to do whatever they like. While poor people are made to suffer for momentary lapses of concentration like slipping a couple of miles an hour over 30. Like 32 in a 30 zone.

(4) Speed detection apparatus is inaccurate and prone to operator error.

(5) Speed limits are in often applied in a random and arbitrary manner.
Residential areas may be zoned anything from 50 to 40 to 30.
On some roads the zoning flips back and forth between these bands.
To avoid fines you must transfer your attention off the road ahead, and on to attending to what the speed zone indicators are saying, and what the speedometer is saying.

[Aside: For 26 years the closest I have ever come to a road accident is scraping a wing mirror in a car park. I drive safely and carefully and keep a safe stopping distance of clear road in front of me. Where there are obstructions at the side of the road that people could step out from behind I slow down, often to significantly below the speed limit. I use my judgement in a reasonable and sensible way. I take the road conditions into account. The chances that you or your children would die at my hands on the road are about as small as they get with any driver on the road. Now I am being told that I should take my attention off the road ahead, and transfer my attention on to the speedo and the road signs. And that is supposed to be making the roads safer?]

(6) In my experience the police have no inclination to supply all the information that might be useful to demonstrate your innocence. With the initial "Notice of Intended Prosecution" there was the absolute barest minimum of information relating to the alleged offence. It required several phone calls and perseverance to get further information and evidence. Even after sending photographs, the police still had not told me where the offence was supposed to have taken place (I only have their word to go on that I was even in a 30 zone). They refused outright to supply me with a copy of the video evidence that they keep on file (they would only send me two photographs taken from that video). I would have thought this is a violation of the Data Protection Act to not supply this information. However they are much more practised at playing their little game than I am. The impression I get is that they know exactly how much they can get away with, and they get away with anything they can.

(7) If like me you do tend to drive very carefully leaving a safe stopping distance in front of your car, and keeping within the speed limit, the thing you will find out is that other drivers tend to overtake you - including in 30 zones. As to whether the consequence of having lots of drivers slowing up and then overtaking makes the roads safer or more dangerous on the whole I think can only be a matter of speculation.

(8) The actual statistics of road deaths paint a very different picture from the one that is used to justify fining easy target drivers:

Department of Transport statistics > Statistics (data, tables and publications) > Accidents and casualties

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chocolate cake such as for a birthday


Gently melt in pan 5 ounces of marge
1 tblspoon of syrup
6 ounces of icing sugar

2 round tblspoons coacoa
and mix
(set aside to cool)

beat up 3 eggs
mix with 8 ounces of flour

FINALLY mix two mixtures together
Put into 2 8 inch tins and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes
Tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it is done.

FILLING - alternatives
Filling A:
1 table spoon of marge
ditto syrup
ditto cocoa
melt together and spread when cool

Filling B:
2 level tblsps of cocoa
1 tblspn of water
heat or mix together
beat together 2 ounces of butter
6 rounded tblspoons of icing sugar
mix with cocoa and water mixture

Improvement, Variation, double quantities

Gently melt in pan
11 ounces of marge
2 tblspoon of syrup
11 ounces of sugar (sugar is icing sugar throughout)

4 round tblspoons coacoa
and mix
(set aside to cool)

beat up 5 eggs
mix with 16 ounces of flour

FINALLY mix two mixtures together
Put into 2 8 inch tins and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes

Get someone to help clean up the bowls!

Tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it is done.
Turn out onto a wire mesh with an air gap under it to cool.

Melt together:
3 ounces marge
12 ounces icing sugar
3 tablespoons coacoa
3 desert spoons milk
Melt together, leave to cool.
Stir before spreading.

Put the two cake halves together with fudge filling in the middle and on top.
Add candles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bonkers Brown and Conniving Cameron

I can't bear to watch Bonkers Brown make an idiot of himself at the Labour Party conference today, however I would still trust him before Conniving Cameron any day of the week. The labour government have done all kinds of idiotic things over the last 10 or so years and even some evil things - the most evil of all being to invade Iraq. The labour government has done nothing to reduce the absurd amount of bureaucracy that I as a small business owner have to deal with, and the tax system is so complicated that no one can be really sure what a lot of it means without a court ruling. Political correctness hasn't just gone mad, its gone completely insane - for example a failure to distinguish between attacking someone's race (which is obviously abhorrent) and attacking people's beliefs (which is the foundation of freedom of speech). As usual, I will be voting Green in the general election (somebody's got to), but I will be hoping beyond hope that somehow the British people manage to see thru Cameron's PR machine. I sadly doubt we will... As a country that can't see the absurdity of having a foreign monarch as our head of state, what chance do we have?

The thing I find objectionable about Cameron is the pontificating. The same pontificating has been coming from other senior tories all this week. There seems to be a mood in the country that wants to replace the Brown government, and in our resignation that the only viable alternative is Cameron, sickening as this is, people will vote for him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Torchwood: Children Of Earth reivew

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

This post assumes you have read all the regular reviews about this. I'm not trying to provide an overview, just adding some comments to what I have seen written elsewhere, such as: and and

What made CoE (Torchwood: Children Of Earth) interesting was that it confronted us with a whole series of related but different ethical questions, and attempted to contrast them from each other.

Under what circumstances is it ever acceptable to sacrifice a person's life to save others?
How about if that person was a child?
How about if people being sacrificed are choosing to make the sacrifice themselves?
Can it ever be ok to choose to make a sacrifice of someone else's life?
What if the number of lives sacrificed are very small and the number of lives saved are very big... could you not be persuaded to change your mind?
If you were saving all of humanity, how small would the number of lives sacrificed need to be before it became acceptable? Would 10% be acceptable? Or would it have to be less? ... Just 1 in a million... Just 12.... How about if it was just one life in exchange for everyone else? Is that still wrong? How about if it was just the stupid people who got sacrificed? Or how about if it was children that no one would miss?

When Jack walks into the Thames house building and confronts the 456, although he doesn't intend to do this, he effectively sacrifices the lives of (nearly) everyone in the building including his lover. This is contrasted with obsequiousness of the impotent British government. Although the ministers sitting around the cabinet crisis meeting are revealed to be self-serving, callous, and discriminatory against the disadvantaged, they get rewarded with this great "I told you so" moment when Jack's attempt at brinkmanship achieves nothing but loss of life. Being "un-killable" Jack cannot ever make the choice of sacrificing his own life. And in addition this aspect of his character brings with it the prospect that his moral actions are motivated from a very long term view. What might that be like? When he ultimately sacrifices his grandson what might allow him to be able to do that? I think most of us could not. Someone who lives (nearly) forever though is presumably accustomed to seeing his friends and family die.

The 456 mockingly points out how the infant mortality rate is 29158 deaths per day - that many children dying every day under the age of 1 year old. Most of these deaths are preventable and due to causes like malnutrition. If we take Jack's stance of "not one single child", an alien drug dealer might be excused for wondering why humanity are happy to put up with this daily sacrifice of children.

When Frobisher is told by the prime minister that he must relinquish his children in order to protect the public perception of the government's compliance to the demands of the 456, he concludes that it is better to sacrifice the lives of all his family, than to allow the 456 to use his children in the way they intend.

It became clear through the development of the conversation in the cabinet room that the truly appalling thing was not the difficulty of how to respond to the choice/threat being exerted by the 456, but rather the fact that the cabinet was colluding with the 456 to keep the whole matter secret. If the debate over how to respond to the 456 had been conducted in public rather than in the cabinet room, how would it have been different?

RTD is gently teasing us into appreciating the value of public and private information and into seeing the impossibility of putting a market value on life ("units"), the value of any life, the value of one life. The impossibility of answering any of these questions in the abstract. We can only ever answer them with the concrete choices that we make, and even then we must always doubt those choices.

CoE succeeded where much of previous Torchwood has not because it was great drama with believable character motivations (regardless of whatever else was or wasn't believable, when character motivations are believable it is not hard to suspend disbelief on other matters). That CoE was about an extra-terrestrial threat, and a group of established characters merely provided a convenient setting for a brilliant thought-provoking drama. This is the way round it should be. The contrivances were put in service of the drama, rather than the drama in service of the contrivance. When Russell T Davies gets this right, he is an outstanding dramatist - as was shown in the Christopher Eccleston series of Doctor Who, but sadly only rarely since then.

Found this today, which highlights the aspect of CoE that is our cultural "obsession with children". Thought it was interesting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the UK, more abuses of public money

Reference this BBC News item yesterday

If it was an MP abusing public money in this way there would be an outcry (as there has been over the last several weeks). But because it is traditional for the UK population to take it up the arse from the monarchy we just roll over and ask "which hole would you like next, Charles?"

An MP paying for his duck island out of expenses is thought to be a national scandal. But Charles paying £3million on things like his butlers and dressers is all just hunky dory.

I know, in terms of my friends in the UK, I might just as well talk to a wall. We'll all so brainwashed here with the royal family's PR machine.

No offence. I'm sure the man himself is no worse a human being than I am, although I doubt I would have cheated on a wife as attractive as Diana. I guess all that inbreeding loosened his marbles. But really that is all beside the point. The "good job" he is apparently doing could be done by someone electable and elected. (See: The Big Monarchy Campaign )

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway

For those of us who hadn't already heard this story and I was one of them until this morning (April 8, 2007 - 2 years ago now), as part of a social experiment, Joshua Bell played incognito in the subway and was largely ignored. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100. I posted this story here because it struck me it has some resonance with the point of the NotReallyRelevant project. (See:

Below is a longer version of the story story that has circulated via email. (See snopes: Snopes: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway But the story checks out. You can read the full story as it was originally published in the Washington Post here: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway, including video. Also the Washington Post have a channel on YouTube. A video to go with the story is here: YouTube video of Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway... that's the video I decided to embed above. The Washington Post's channel on YouTube is here.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The 4 Georges: 'Born 2 Rule'

Clarification for anyone who gets their english georgian kings mixed up. Which George was which? ... This video should help you! The four Georgian kings sort it all out for us, by means of forming a boy band. This is just a tiny part of the terrific content from BBC's "Horrible Histories" season. Supposed to be for children, but I'm a lot older than that and it still teaches me a thing or two. For more similar's see: Horrible Histories Songs. They also have a channel on YouTube: Horrible Histories channel on YouTube. Or just search "Horrible Histories" on YouTube.

If you want to put place the 4 Georges on the royal family tree, this seems to do the job

... and for more information about the "Georgian" period of UK history, try this

"You had to do what we told you to, just because are blood was blue" ... nothing changed much since then. Join the "Big Monarchy" campaign on Facebook: Big Monarchy Campaign on facebook

Here is another good one - Henry VIII sings about what he did to each of his wives:

Add on - Who was Thomas Paine?

It's 200 years since the British-born "father of the American revolution" died. His words also helped shape modern Britain and France and yet few people in the UK know much about him - or maybe have not even heard of him.

See this article on BBC news or this one about Thomas Paine and this one about his revolutionary pamphlet called "Common Sense" both on WikiPedia.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Copyright violation, expenses claims, crooks and statistics.

"Copyright violation" otherwise known as "sharing" is the new frontier in equality of opportunity. Throughout human history groups of people in positions of power and in possession of wealth have used their power and wealth to keep control over their power and wealth.

Of course Apple don't want people to be able to modify their iPhones (see today's New York Times) because it sets them free from Apple's control over their invented market for iPhone apps.

Of course it is easy to point out the inconsistencies in the arguments of heroes like Pirate Bay but fundamentally there is something solid behind what they and many similars are doing. The issue is that when it costs nothing to provide someone with a copy of some digital information, how is it that you justify charging for it? How do you justify charging for something that costs nothing?

Of course credit where its due. Give unto Ceasar etc.

Of course it is right that music makers and all creative and productive people who are making the world a better place get rewarded for their creative and productive output. It is harder to see why Elton or Sting or Mick or Simon need my £ 1 pound per iTune download, when they are sitting on pots of money between £175 and £300 million each.

Meanwhile in the UK, elected members of parliament are being shamed into paying back money for thousands of pounds of questionable expense claim items one as much as £41,709. It isn't just one party. Pretty much across the board every elected MP in the UK parliament is having to pay back something... here are some leading conservative members of parliament with questionable expense claims. All of this only came to light because of new freedom of information legislation. Organisations like the Campaign for Freedom of Information kept pointing out that UK MPs had created legislation that forces disclosure of information by public authorities but then had excluded themselves from its remit - And we had to ask the question: on what grounds were they excluded? Freedom of information really gets to the heart of the matter here. Making information free has the effect of levelling the playing field between the poor and disenfranchised on the one hand and the rich and powerful on the other. In a way, what is known as "copyright violation" is really just another kind of freeing up of information, and the outcome of this kind of sharing of information points in the same direction as other kinds of freedom of information.

Stephen Fry is absolutely right that over claiming in the grey area of expense claims is not as important as so much else - not as important as who we're dropping bombs on or selling arms to, or what countries we are invading. However just because most people fiddle their expenses as long as they can get away with it, doesn't make it right. I don't expect politicians to behave any better than other citizens, but I don't think they should be allowed to behave any worse either.

As the Bernard Madoff saga continues to rumble on today the latest is that in the months leading up to his arrest he managed to squirrel away about $12 billion. Something for his family to fall back on after the shit had hit the fan I expect. Madoff was only able to get away with his massive frauds by virtue of his entitlement to keep information away from others.

This guardian article makes it clear that people in the higher echelons of society all have their snouts in the trough. BBC presenters, just as much as politicians. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that given the opportunity to make your own life better at the expense of others, most people will take it. Bankers like Madoff (and there have been several similar cases in recent weeks) are probably only different in that they have more opportunity to make bigger gains at the expense of others, than BBC presenters and politicians.

When times are good, people don't care so much - we all just get on with it. But in tough economic times like the ones we are going through, the selfishness of the affluent people starts to look rather more selfish than it otherwise would.

Less than two months has passed since Sir Fred Goodwin had one of his houses attacked. For those who didn't follow that, Sir Fred is the ex-boss of Royal Bank of Scotland who after managing to incur such enormous losses for his bank that they needed a government bailout, rewarded himself with a huge pension - something around $1.5 million dollars a year (which, since the bailout, is coming out of public money).

Tom Utley in the Daily Mail fails to understand that Fry's point is that lying in the service of warmongering is a worse thing to do than lying about an expense claim. I agree. This does not mean that fiddling your expense claims is ok. It just means that it is not as big a deal as lying in the service of taking our country to war.

I agree with Tom that a lie is a lie - a big lie or a small lie is still a lie. If it is a lie about WMD or a lie about how much rent you're paying its still a lie. However the consequences of a lie maybe that the UK goes to war, or the consequences maybe that Freda Bloggs MP bags a few extra thousand pounds of tax payer money. My thought would be (and I think this was Fry's point as well) that some lies are consequential and some lies are inconsequential. A similar point was made about Bill Clinton lying about not having sex with M.L. Some lies matter (more) and some lies don't (matter as much).

To reiterate my theme: throughout human history groups of people in positions of power and in possession of wealth have used their power and wealth to keep control over their power and wealth. Chief Executive pay, which has been rising steadily over the past decade, compared to everybody else, is just another example.

Meanwhile this is the state of the world...
According to Worldometers realtime statistics regarding the state of the world - you can check their sources -

  • in about 45 years the oil is going to run out, but we're going to have coal and gas for quite a while longer.

  • So far this year (as @ May 13, 2009) almost 17 million abortions, almost 3 million people have died from cancer.

  • So far this year (as @ May 13, 2009) 390,000 people have committed suicide.

  • Right now there are over a billion people with no access to safe drinking water.
These are just a few of the stats that caught my attention... visit the worldometers link above for more interesting statistics. I've no idea how accurate these numbers are, but I have no particular reason to doubt them.

So here is my question: What is important and what is not?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kirsten O'Brien Doesn't Get Topless (Big News)

Kirsten Obrien Amii Grove Topless

Kids TV presenter Kirsten O'Brien is way more media savy than the premise of the program suggests.
She expertly has concocted an hour long conceit about showing her breasts to the world without actually doing so.
Consequently the marketing opportunities for pictures of her breasts are 10 times the size they were yesterday.
And the lads mags can start to speculate about whether she will or won't.

Its a massive TEASE!

As the wisdom from Pooh bear reminds us, although hunny is very good, the moment just before you eat the hunny is even better.

Strangely the show was titled "Kirsten's Topless Ambition" when a much more obvious and appropriate title would have been "Kirsten's Naked Ambition". I'm guessing they thought that was too blatant. But in a show that is all about being Too Blatant, while at the same that show is itself being Too Blatant, it seems to me only fitting to have a title that is equally Too Blatant.

Today the student forums and discussion sites are therefore crammed full of chat about her.
Yesterday most of us had never heard of her.

Here are just a few examples:

The buzz about Kirsten O'Brien
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more
... and more (including completely misleading headline)
... and more
... and more
... on and on and on and on and on.

(Even I'm doing it!)

Today everyone's talking about her!
What's worse from my point of view is that she has got me talking about her.

The whole premise of this show is wrong.
You don't get your tits out because you want to be famous.
You get your tits out because you want to show people your tits.
If Vogue magazine would allow me to show my body to the nation, I personally wouldn't hesitate.
My tragedy is that there is no market for pictures of my naked body.

Flirting on the edge of questions about sexual politics, celebrity and popular culture, the show pricks at all kinds of worrying cultural currencies.

The BBC web site programme notes start with
"Kirsten O'Brien is facing a huge decision" ... and this is where the con begins.
Before the programme has even begun, we are already being sold something which is not true.
The promo is sneaking in the idea that the decision is "huge" - and notice how that line slips by without really being questioned.
Actually the decision is trivial, and makes almost no difference to anything.

A much more interesting question is: how do you get BBC 3 THREE 3 to commission you to make a program about your own media profile, which thereby massively raises your media profile?

This really is a question for all of us, and one that Kisten clearly knows the answer to. All power to her! 8-)

What was really interesting about this show, apart from that Kirsten O'Brien didn't show us her breasts, was all the other things that she didn't show us:

She didn't show us the conversations that led up to her being commissioned to produce the programme: how did she wangle that? She didn't show us all the set up that went in to filming set-pieces like when she appears to walk in unaware on Amii Grove doing a topless shoot, like as though the people in the room weren't expecting her to arrive at precisely that moment.

We did briefly get to see an agent calling up the lads mags to see if they would be interested in her doing a "shoot" for them. But only briefly. For the most part Kirsten also didn't show us the conversations wherein she negotiated "interviews" with leading lights in the UK's celebrity fame game, but I can imagine how those conversations went...

"Hello, this is Peter Stringfellow"
"Hello, this is Kirsten O'Brien. You probably have never heard of me, but I have been a children's TV presenter for 10 years, and I have wangled an hour to boost my media profile on BBC Three at 9pm on a weekday. If you are willing to have an interview with me, then it will boost both my media profile and yours. How's about it?"

Similar conversations were doubtless had with the various other celebrity movers and shakers, that she did interviews with.

With the power of having a primetime slot on BBC TV to broadcast the interviews behind her, Kirsten had just the leverage that she needed. It was just the ticket. But the ticket wasn't to a show about radically changing her career path, although it was presented as such. It was a ticket to a show about doing precisely what she was doing. It was a ticket to get interviews with a load of leading lights in the UK's celebrity fame game. Those people are precisely the contacts that she needed to be speaking to to raise her profile, and now that she had some cameras on her, they were obviously all going to be happy to talk to her - because it would boost their own profile to do so as well.

Whether or not Kirsten realised it, she had at the moment she got the contract from BBC Three, already accomplished the objective that she had set herself.

For more of an analysis of this kind of deceit, you can read the post on the Ecstatic Union blog: "How did this blog become so popular?"

If you didn't see or hear about the program you could read this to get you up to speed:
Summary of the programme
or if you are living in a place where you can watch this:
Watch the programme on IPlayer - not available in all countries
(although the first five minutes is enough).

If you really want to see Kirsten O'Brien's boobs, I'm guessing this is about as close as you are likely to get

Addenda - 16 August 2009
Well what a surprise.
Kirsten O'Brien's flagging career has (as predicted) been given a boost by her 60 Minute Tease-athon.
All of a sudden she is popping up doing stuff like this:
Kirsten O'Brien one of two presenters at World Freerun Championship from London's Trafalgar Square

Addenda - 2 September 2009
Ah whaddaya know!
Since teasing us with the prospect her breasts, Kirsten's flagging career has really started to zing.
More exposure from BBC Three... someone on the inside? think you?
Kirsten O'Brien doing yet more "presenting".

Monday, March 30, 2009

2008 Latest Edition - Did You Know 3.0 - From Meeting in Rome this Year


Not quite sure what to say about this.
The stats quoted need verification and clarification (as statistics always do).
But just the idea that some of these stats might be true is worth some thought and investigation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Madonna takes on AIDS


Monday, March 23, 2009

Dancing On Ice Final 2009


Dancing On Ice Final 2009 - Ray Quinn & Maria Flippiov - Favourite Dance And Bolero Dance

Full story from the BBC:

BBC News: Dancing On Ice Final 2009 - Ray Quinn & Maria Flippiov - Favourite Dance And Bolero Dance

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Google Maps Street View comes to the UK

Google Maps Street View comes to the UK.

Where I used to live with Dyfrig and Rachel above the chemist and opposite the NatWest on Great Portland Street. 8-) ... Funny old world.

Drag the map for a 360 view of the street.

Click the arrows pointing up and down the street to move around at street level.

View Larger Map

Exercise for the reader... go take a walk around regent's park!

And where I used to live with Vip - just by the bridge that is down the quay in the distance. Where Pierce Brosnan as 007 adjusted his tie while driving a motor boat under water.

View Larger Map

... And while we're about it, where I used to work in San Francisco.

View Larger Map

... And where I used to live with Agnes and Jim

View Larger Map

Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference today that a the world is heading for a global crisis by 2030 if action isn't taken now to prevent it. Food and energy and water shortages, rising population predicted to exceed 8 billion and all of it exacerbated in unpredictable ways by global climate destabilisation.

Well nobody say he didn't warn us!

The full story from the BBC is here: Global crisis 'to strike by 2030'

This is the accompanying picture that the BBC is showing along side this story...

I'm not sure how the picture is representative of a "global crisis" but I thought I would include it.

You can read about Prof Beddington's appointment as UK science advisor here: Prof Beddington's appointment as UK science advisor.

He is a member of Imperial College, London University.

Find out more about the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference here and a rival Sustainable Development 09 conference here.

On a related note, The Hunger Project has been working to end (not merely reduce but end) areas of chronic persistent hunger in the world for the last 30 or so years. In contrast to working to alleviate famines when they strike (useful and necessary work, but not work that provides a sustainable long-term solution to the problem of hungry people), there approach has always been oriented to developing long-term sustainable solutions by partnerships of local people and global investors - providing "opportunity" rather that "aid".

A partner organisation "Results" is working to create the political will to end hunger and poverty. Those who take Prof Beddington's warning seriously today, would do well to support the work of Results and The Hunger Project.

Polar bears and dogs playing

The other side of nature from buffalo, lions and crocodiles fighting each other.

This shows footage of polar bears and husky dogs or wolves playing together. Polar bears are sometimes seen to be affection towards husky dogs and wolves and even cuddle them.

Almost as though they think of them a bit like pets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lions vs buffalo vs crocodiles - a three-way fight

A three-way fight between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo, and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa's Kruger National Park while on safari.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Art and Science of Moving Rocks

Wally Wallington has obviously devoted a lot of his life to the art and science of moving heavy lumps of rock in all dimensions and all situations.

He truly has turned his chosen subject into a work of majestic art... almost a ballet.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Roller coaster greater than vertical drop (UK)

Please no one ever ask me to go on this! 8-)

Full story is here: Roller coaster greater than vertical drop

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Still the wrong side of my first billion

Another BBC news item caught my attention today.

See: Bill Gates back on top as the world's richest man

Apparently he has assets of around 40 billion US dollars.

Meanwhile I'm still the wrong side of my first billion - but I'm enjoying the journey! 8-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woolworths becomes Wellworths

A news item on BBC web site caught my attention today... see: A Woolworths store which closed when the firm collapsed has been reopened under the name Wellworths.

The personal note here, is that Dorchester referred to in this news item is the town I grew up in, and where I have moved back to live.

Those of you not from the UK may not have caught the passing of the great british retailing institution that is "Woolworths", so the summary version is that a retail store that just couldn't quite get its head around modern retail trends, and then lost its supply of credit as the crunch crunched, collapsed earlier this year and high streets all over the UK lost a bit of their heart.

Now people have all sorts of opinions about "Woolies", but some of us liked buying our toy daleks and astonishing cheap mugs and garden sheers there.

So from where I stand this is a good news story on all fronts: the difference that individuals can make when they simply refuse to take the accept "the inevitable", the courage of local entrepreneurship, resilience in the face of the global financial crisis, people acting locally and on a small scale able to inspire all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Making cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufactures think of that?!

Hope for the future:

Making cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufacturers think of that!?

If you're like me, you may be wondering who the manufacturer of the white egg-shaped pod-like car shown on BBC's Odd box today is. Well I did some hunting around and found it...

In the light of sharp falls in car production here in the UK and car plants facing the possibility of closure today , but also across the globe as it faces its current financial melt-down, innovative manufacturers are likely to be the ones who do best in the long run, and the car companies who have been kept in the pockets of the oil companies promoting petrol gasoline as the only viable automotive fuel will fall aside as well they deserve to, stifling innovation as they do and have done.

Meanwhile at they have been building fully electric cars (as well as some hybrids I think) and although they initially are only accepting down-payments from people living in California, they plan to make their products available across the USA and the entire globe as soon as they can manage to.

Amazingly the Aptera, which looks a bit like a small star trek shuttle craft, can be charged up by plugging it in to a regular mains socket!

Apparently about half of an average cars energy is used pushing air out of the way at a speed of 55mph. With a low drag coefficient of 0.15, the Aptera 2e realizes less drag than a cycling superstar such as Lance Armstrong on a ten speed bike! You can drive about 100 miles on a single charge without recharging for about $0.50 worth of electricity.

Link to Aptera manufacturer's web site... Make cars aerodynamic - why didn't regular car manufacturers think of that!?

See Aptera test drive on

Plane-car article

The organisation "Better Place" is mapping a global plan for car charging stations

"Better Place" is looking to build an electric car network using technology available today. Sustainable transportation, global energy independence and freedom from oil.

"Better Place" is just beginning to build its first prototype battery-changing stations in countries like Israel, Denmark and Japan. It hopes to be a critical link in the evolution of the electric-car market.

To go to Shai Agassi's Better Place, click here

New York times article on Shai Agassi and Better Place - you may need to create a free NY Times account to access this link.

Regretting our pass mistakes:

Who killed the electric car, and why did they do it?

Who killed the electric car, latest trailer

Friday, November 28, 2008

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs new book "Common Wealth"

Not sure if I should really post this... it is a bit relevant to lots of things. Oh well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Google's 10 to the 100 project

Not that the 10 to the 100 project needs promoting (when there is a link to it on Google's homepage), but Google's 10 to the 100 project seems to me to be a validation of the NotReallyRelevant project. Google's 10 to the 100

Google say:

Never in history have so many people had so much information, so many tools at their disposal, so many ways of making good ideas come to life. Yet at the same time, so many people, from all walks of life, could use so much help, in ways both little and big.

In the midst of this, new studies are reinforcing the simple wisdom that beyond a certain very basic level of material wealth, the only thing that increases individual happiness over time is helping other people.

In other words, helping helps everybody, helper and helped alike.

The question is: what would help? And help most?

At Google, we don't believe we have the answers, but we do believe the answers are out there. Maybe in a lab, or a company or a university - or maybe not.

Maybe the answer that helps somebody is in your head, in something you've observed, some notion that you've been fiddling with, some small connection you've noticed, some old thing you have seen with new eyes.

If you have an idea that you believe would help somebody, we want to hear about it. We're looking for ideas that help as many people as possible, in any way, and we're committing the funding to launch them. You can submit your ideas and help vote on ideas from others. Final idea selections will be made by an advisory board.

Good luck, and may those who help the most win.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

CERN Large Hadron Colider LHC Switch On

On Wednesday the large hadron colider LHC at CERN is being switched on for the first time. It is expected to be able to simulate the conditions that were present in the universe shortly after the big bang. It may help provide answers to questions that are fundamental to our understanding of the nature of the universe. This is a 3 minute film about CERN and the LHC. There are documentaries on BBC iPlayer about it too.

3 Minute Introduction to the work of CERN and the LHC large hadron colider

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

May I introduce Fibby?

May I introduce blogger Fibby. She has three blogger blogs - you'll find the links at the bottom of her profile page. Curious eclectic tastes. 8-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Set-back for the Big Monarchy campaign

The Big Monarchy campaign has had a set-back in its campaign for an elected UK royal family.

The Big Monarchy campaign attempted to create an e-petition on the 10 Downing Street e-petitions web site.

The first attempt was as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'have the
family occupying the royal palaces and fulfilling the role of
being the british royal family be elected to serve a three year
term via a Big Brother style reality TV show'

(1) The institutions of the UK royal family should be retained
exactly as they are (2) The family that occupies the job of
being royal family (opening fetes and such-like) should be
elected by public vote to serve a three year term (3) The
family chosen to act as the UK's royal family should be
selected on a whole family basis by means of a "Big Brother"
style reality TV show called "Big Monarchy".

We can keep every facet of ancient institution, and turn it
into something that is democratic. The family occupying the
palaces get voted in to serve a three year term. That is why we
are advocating a "Big Monarchy" - that is to say a monarchy
that is drawn from the contribution of all the people of our

The second attempt was similar, but was still rejected:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'have the
family occupying the royal palaces and fulfilling the role of
being the british royal family be elected to serve a three year
term by a public vote'

(1) The institutions of the UK royal family and monarchy should
be retained exactly as they are (2) The family that occupies
the job of being royal family (opening fetes and such-like)
should be elected by public vote to serve a three year term (3)
The family chosen to act as the UK's royal family should be
selected on a whole family basis by means of public vote.

We can keep every facet of our ancient institution and turn it
into something that is democratic. The family occupying the
palaces should be voted in to serve a three year term. We are
advocating a "Big Monarchy"; that is to say a monarchy that is
drawn from the contribution of all the people of our country.

You can read the response from 10 Downing street here:
10 Downing Street response to the Big Monarchy e-petition

Monday, February 11, 2008

Big Monarchy

The NRR campaign for the UK royal family to be elected via a Big Brother style reality TV show, has been upped a gear by means of the "Big Monarchy" Facebook group. See Big Monarchy facebook group.

Here is some of my discussion in which I have tried to encourage people to join the Big Monarchy group.

It for just the reasons that Mark is stating, that I am recommending a retention of all the current institutions of monarchy, but having the people fulfilling the roles of being King, Queen, etcetera, etcetera be elected for a 3 year term via a reality TV show.

We could keep every single facet of that "ancient institution", and turn it into something that is democratic. The family occupying the palaces get voted for to serve a three year term. That is why I am advocating a "Big Monarchy" - that is to say a monarchy that is drawn from the contribution of all the people of our country.

Well it started out with the term being 5 years, and then a discussion amongst the Big Monarchy group members we decided that 3 years would be as much as most families would be able to comfortably cope with.

Although it hasn't been explicitly stated in the Big Monarchy group, I think everyone has been assuming that once a family has been the royal family for a term, they don't get to have another go... so there is no politics or re-election coming in to it.

The idea of the choosing the family via a Big Brother style reality TV show, is that having had your every move scrutinised by the public for the 15 weeks of the elimination competition, and prior to that having gotten your family on to the short list in the first place, the chosen family is as good a choice as any that we are likely to get to represent us at fetes and opening hospitals, and all the other things they do.

Ok, fair dues. It is a bit absurd. But less so than the current situation, I think. Also very future, very now, very forward. ;-) I think its got to be a step in the right direction.

Like when the berlin wall came down, before it happened no one would have predicted. Now its "well of course", and we all take it for granted.

Anyway, as a proud englishman, I would prefer to be known around the world as the country that made people laugh, than as the country who dropped bombs on their children, stole their natural resources, cast their people into slavery, subjected them to ridiculous religions, is wonderfully good at thinking up games that it's people have no natural ability at, who can't loose a sports fixture without having a tantrum, and who can't have a drink in the evening without having to behave like five-year olds.

Now if there's anyone left in UK that I didn't just offend, are you with me!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alice - A Journey - a new auto-biographical narative by Chrissy Merton

You can buy Chrissy Merton's new book, Alice - A Journey, from the following site (click link below), £3.50 cheaper than from Amazon!

Alice - A Journey - a new auto-biographical account by Chrissy Merton based on a true story

Chrissy speaks about her experiences and the process of writing the book on video. Click the link below:

Video Interviews with the author.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


More exploration of the delights of wikipedia.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

wicked wicked problems

Yesterday the 2 sides of "the project" (the 2 sides being "NotReallyRelevant" and "EcstaticUnion" were brought together rather wonderfully for me by being introduced by a potential software development client to the concept of "Wicked Problems".

The following is reproduced from the Innovation Works web site.

  • You don't (fully?) understand the problem until you've developed a solution

  • There is no stopping rule (there's always a better solution if you have unlimited resources)

  • There is no right or wrong answer

  • Wicked problems are unique and novel (they may appear the same but small changes make everything different, like every project)

  • Solutions to wicked problems are one-shot; the solution redefines the problem

  • There are no given alternatives; solution A does not automatically define the alternative solution B.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Questions Only Blog

As google, wikipedia etc. seem to have real downer about my "Questions Only blog", I thought I would mention it here... Also known as the "Is this a blog" blog, you can get to it by clicking the link above or via Wikipedia (click the little [1] in square brackets on this Wikipedia page Questions Only discussion on WikiPedia). Cheers.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Self belief

Thought for the day:
Self belief in the wrong hands is a very dangerous thing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Heather Cairncross is on MySpace!

Here's some exciting news! The serene vision of loveliness that is Heather Cairncross, whose voice has been interenationally celebrated and used on sound tracks of hollywood blockbusters like lord of the rings, now has a page on MySpace. Last time I checked there were at least 4 of her mellow recordings to listen to there - silky smooth. To me, Heather is like the Madonna of Jazz and Classical singers, packing enough sex appeal to make strong men drool. Certainly I have personally drooled.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Looking on the bright side

Looking on the bright side, the world has an increasing army of heroic people who want to make it a better place, and only a finite number of problems. In fact in some areas groups of people trying to solve a particular problem are very much in competition with each other, to see who can save the world first. Before very long I predict that global problems will start to seem like a scare resource, and groups of rival do-gooders will find themselves in conflict with each other. Instead of fighting over middle-east oil wealth, we will instead be fighting over who gets to save the planet, and international emissaries will have to be sent in to stop greenpeace suicide bombers blowing themselves up in crowds of oxfam volunteers.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Possibility of an Elected Royal Family For the UK

Here's an idea, not a very good one I'll grant you - or well you can decide for yourself - but it appeals to me so I thought I'd throw it out there.

There has been much discussion of the last 15 years about the continuation of monarchy in the UK. On the one side we have the monarchists who say that the historic significance of the monarchy is too good a thing to lose. In rather the same way as we preserve our old country houses in an attempt to preserve our historic record and heritage, these people argue that we should keep our monarchy as part of Brand UK, its boost to tourism, its role as ambassadors for our national interests, and its provision of figureheads who stand for the embodiment of our national pride.

Against them stand the new republicans who don't like things like our national anthem being so queen centric. Why when we give three cheers for ourselves do we even need to mention her? Do we really want to hold, even in a figurative role, an institution which is the embodiment of anti-democratic ideas - an institution that drags along with it endless structures of power which favour the status quo and endorse the rights of rich and powerful people to use their wealth and power for the soul purpose of staying that way - ensuring that they and their friends and family keep hold of as much wealth and power as possible.

A possibility that I have never heard being entered into this 2-sided debate is a MIDDLE WAY. A third possibility that stands between the absolute fall of the monarchy, and the absolute continuation of it... namely an ELECTED ROYAL FAMILY. The suggestion is that we should keep all the current institutions of monarchy, all the existing property and land, all the existing jobs like opening fetes and hospitals, and international tours and so on, but have the people filling each of these roles be elected. This surely has the capacity to satisfy both sides of the argument. We keep all the institutions of monarchy, but have the people filling the roles be electable and accountable to the voting public.

One possible way to vote in the people to fill each of the jobs would be to do it on a family-wide basis. It could be done on a job by job basis, but I think there would be something good about voting for a whole family to take up the whole set of roles. The family could then serve a term of say 5 years, and then another family could be voted in to replace them. During their time as the Royal Family, each of these voted for families would take up residence in the various palaces, have use of the crown jewels, and be assigned with the various jobs like opening parliament that the current royal family do.

One possible way of choosing which family should be voted in would be a Big Brother style scrutiny of the families who are standing for election... I'm sure the nation would enjoy following that for 10 or 15 weeks... mega buck television for a broadcasting company that wants to get behind the project...

Don't forget, you heard it here FIRST... NotReallyRelevant

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A question of what is really relevant?

I was prompted by my friend, Carl, to explore the merits of Wikipedia - which is of course wonderful and terrible - the very antithesis of the Not Really Relevant ehtos. However. Fight fire with fire? Infiltrate? Transform from the inside out? Lets see what we can do... ;-) ... Here is my user page: Not really relevant on Wikipedia

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Positive Discrimination for the Socially Inept

Sometimes it seems to me, with all the various new disability legislation (and all power to it), that there ought to be positive discrimination for people who are socially inept. I mean I look around for a category of disability that covers me, and I think there ought to be one. People have all kinds of disabilities, and if society is going to go about re-dressing the balance regarding the lucky or unlucky, why stop at obvious physical disability. Some of us have just been born with a foot in our mouths, and didn't we ought to get some extra help with that? In many ways it is just as disabling as these other things.

This week David Cameron has been talking about giving tax breaks to married couples. How about some tax breaks for balding lonely losers? I'm not claiming to be grotesquely ugly, but I've been dull enough looking to make certain aspects of my life considerably harder work than they would have otherwise been. Perhaps some sort of sliding scale could be made, whereby the uglier you are, the more benefit you get.

I mean all joking apart, if society does consider it right to rebalance our various personal inequities, being so obnoxious that people at cocktail parties turn and run when they see me coming - doesn't that count for something?

I'm not saying I necessarily want a parking space outside the door at tescos, but how about some help paying people to pretend to be my friends?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lynne's Site gets a new look

Lynne Hazelden's project, "PEACE in OUR lifetime" is here: Peace in our lifetime

Lynne Hazelden's site has just had a bit of a design tweak done to it. You can read Lynne's vision of a possible future for communication.

future for communication

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dorchester Nursery / Preschool

Last week I was helping my sister with search engine optimisation. She has created a really cute site for the Dorchester Preschool where she works, with information about prechool term dates and all sorts of other useful stuff for pre-school parents with young children in Dorchester.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Third day

Third day
Originally uploaded by notreallyrelevant.
The various strands of my life are bound together by chocolate pudding... ;-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My small ads online dating

My latest money making scheme... online dating. Would you like to go out with me? I had this idea that rather than paying online dating services like "" $10 a month for their kind generosity of letting me post my dating profile on their web site, bolster their brand and their traffic, and on top of that giving them my cash... THEY COULD PAY ME... My small ads online dating.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

PDA camera wrapper opennetcf

Can I link the web cam on my 3G PDA so I can respond to people visiting my web sites... May this will help... Camera program wrapper technologies in opennetcf

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Whatford Wazzangers and Search Engine Optimisation

Whatford Wazzanger? I hear you ask ?

I've never heard of a "Whatford Wazzanger".

What an earth is a "Whatford Wazzanger"?

Well, I'm just having a bit of fun with my old friends at Joshordan software. If you visit their site here: Joshordan Software you will understand... at least a little, what a "Whatford Wazzanger" is. At least you might do, as long as they don't change their site.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NRR puts it's first ad for interviews on Craigslist

Title says it all really, but I am excited about it...
See the really thing at I want to interview you

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Festive spirit at

Festive spirit at ... yeah, well.
Its funny if you have the right sense of humour.

Microsoft Consultants

UK Microsoft consultancy