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October 31 2005

Conflict of greed and manipulation

It's a measure of how corrupt this government is and particularly Blair, that it's thought ok for a minister, who had to resign for misconduct, using his ministerial post for non ministerial purposes, to take a director job with a DNA testing company which is to bid on government contracts, and then to resign that to go back as a government minister only weeks later. Blunkett also bought a skipload of shares in the company which he thought would be ok if he 'gave' them to his sons! And Blair supports him totally. The only thing anyone seems concerned with is that he broke 'the rules' in not consulting a committee that examines conflicts of interest. Conflict of interest! Why would this company be interested in employing a blind man for a few weeks? What did they stand to gain from this largesse? Quite breathtaking. They act like looters as soon as they get power.

He may be corrupt, or not even quite understand the concept, but at least he's not a nazi like his replacement as home secretary, Clarke, responsible for shoot to kill and for letting the Metropolitan Police dictate policing policy. We seem no nearer to the police murderers of De Menendez standing trial in the near future.

October 30 2005

Astonishing or just plain incredible?

Came across this recently:

'The New Scientist reports on a new fuel that could finally free us from our catastrophic dependence on oil and lead to economical pollution free driving.
The astonishing thing is that this new fuel is not a gas or a liquid, but a metal--iron. That's right, ordinary iron can be made into an excellent fuel capable of powering internal combustion engines with no residue and no pollution.

This can be accomplished because of a new process that pulverizes the metal into nanoparticles, which release more energy than gasoline when heated, leave no residue and, incredibly, can be reused.

David Beach, a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has come up with the new process, which is probably the most promising solution to the oil crisis so far. There are problems to be worked out, but they are far less of a challenge than those involving hydrogen fuel cells.

It's early days yet, but this is just another example of why we need to look at the future optimistically, instead of taking the relentlessly negative approach of the general media. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18825221.100.html

The thing that strikes me about all these 'alternative ways to carry on as before' that keep popping up is the desire to keep on the same as before, and the lack of understanding of scale. We've got to the present state with millions upon millions taking to cars and their very lives revolving round them. Look at the jams on roads every morning - especially into London - to see the sheer scale, many couldn't get to their jobs without the car. And the population is increasing, and they all want cars. A vast industry satisfies this 'need', every aspect polluting from the equipment and energy to extract the oil, transport it, refine it, deliver it to burning it in jams, and to change that to something else would take ages. To have our cake and eat it, we would need to remain as we are, but that won't happen. China is racing into industrialisation, India too along with many other countries. As workers become more affluent, they all want cars.

As for the use of iron, technically possible to get it to burn when in powder form as with many other substances - flour is explosive when finely ground and released into the air as many bakers have found to their cost over time. Why not flour fuelled cars? At least it comes from a renewable source grown from solar energy. Iron, on the other hand, isn't, and we've been using iron dug out of the ground for millenia, so chances of there being enough left to keep all the cars on the roads as well as for making our labour saving devices like washing machines, freezers, microwaves and the like, along with bridges, railways, trains, planes and cars, is highly doubtful.

Apart from anything else, I don't want to breath iron oxide any more than carbon dioxide/monoxide.
All in all, 2 out of 10 for originality, 0 out of 10 for forward thinking, and 0 out of 10 for practicality.

There ar no techno fixes, why can't people get their heads round this and stop this constant fantasising about clean fuels. We can't continue forever burning the stuff of the planet to enable us to continue scurrying like ants in our self important busy-ness. As for 'it's early days yet', it isn't, it's too late, we can't afford the time. Seems the NewScientist is a sci-fi magazine. I didn't know that.

October 27 2005

Rumours rumours

Rumours are easy to spread. It used to be by word of mouth but now it's via email. Some are true, some are false, and some are malicious and plant a virus or trojan on your hard drive if you click 'the attachment' or 'link'.

A recent one was about Osama Bin Laden being captured or killed. He's alive and well. If in doubt, have a look on http://www.truthorfiction.com/ where lots of rumours are examined and marked fraudulent or true. They have the full stories, along with info on where the pics actually came from, and the dangers posed by the mail, often none. The internet is above all a rumour mill, with millions [billions?] of emails wizzing around every day. This one I liked, and it's also true, which calls into question whether humans are the only species to act humanely!

Summary of the eRumor
A story and pictures tell of a baby hippopotamus and a giant tortoise who linked up as friends after being displaced by the tsunami waves in Kenya, Africa.

The Truth
This odd pairing really did happen.
According to numerous news accounts the hippo and the tortoise found each other at a wildlife refuge where they were taken after being stranded by the tsunami disaster.

According to the BBC, the hippo is about 1 year old and was found alone and dehydrated near the Indian Ocean in Kenya.
He was taken to a wildlife enclosure near Mombassa where keepers have named him Owen.
He and a 100-year-old tortoise named Mzee struck up a friendship and have been partners ever since.
Keepers say they are inseparable and that the tortoise has been mothering the baby hippo.

Updated 6/28/05
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Tsunami Survivor

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean , then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added.

"The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

October 22 2005

Slow thinking of politicians

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at it, but the news that a parrot has died in quarantine from avian flu is proof, if any were needed, that government is full of exceedingly stupid people. The parrot, which was imported in a consignment from Surinam, almost certainly caught it from birds imported from Taiwan. With avian flu rampant in asia, it didn't occur to anyone to stop the import of birds from anywhere in the area. Importation of wild birds is indefensible purely on animal welfare grounds, and should have been stopped long ago, but to allow this vile trade to continue in the present circumstances, on purely human health grounds, is downright thick. While talking incessantly about the spread of avian flu, now found in Europe, and the likelihood of a pandemic and how to cope with it, no one thought to limit the spread by controlling deliberate bird imports, especially from the area where the disease is coming from. Nothing must interfere with business profits, no matter what the risk. The government is now talking of banning wild bird importation. Duh.

Homo sapiens is really overdue for culling, if only for gross self interest and the inability to see beyond immediate gain. Joined up thinking, now there's a concept most naked apes don't seem capable of. While talking of keeping all free range chicken inside for fear of infection from wild, migrating, birds, others are allowed to be imported, bringing the disease into the country by aircraft.

Catastrophes seem to have come thick and fast this year; the world, still coping with the after effects of the tsunami, then had the hurricane devastation to Mississipi, and then the earthquake in Kashmir, which seems to have been too much to concentrate on, and after the initial flurry of concern, has receded in importance, while millions are homeless and facing the approaching winter. It's all too much for politicians to concentrate on. So the death toll from immediate damage, already over 50,000 is bound to be added to with many thousands more dying from exposure, untreated injuries and even starvation. Or perhaps the human losses are beginning to be seen in the same light as mass deaths of other species, just numbers. And still the hurricane season isn't finished, with Mexico currently being lashed and Florida waiting to see if it's hit directly by the biggest storm on record, or gets just a sideways swipe as it changes direction.

October 19 2005

Sales and traffic

I'm wondering why my ebook sales come in spurts. None for ages, and then three or four come in the space of a day or three. Either serendipity is playing a part and several people think of looking for an ebook to buy around the same time, or somewhere my urls get boosted into ranking higher than usual. Some people make a study of this, and even spend money calculating how to increase visitors by a multitude of strategies. It seems like the prevailing attitude is 'never mind the quality feel the width', for sums of money, one is promised hundreds of thousands of hits. Millions of people are therefore clicking away aimlessly, getting lost along pathways of links, ending up on link farms with no content but links and banners, and forgetting what it was they started out looking for. Maybe the mini-mall might help if any of those lost souls ends up here, they momentarily remember what it was they went shopping for [just like in real life!] and can do a search here for the very thing.

There's no knowing why people might click on a link to come here, although I believe there are stats which tell you how many people did and what time of the global 24 hour clock they chose to do it. But that would just be yet more to think about, and I have quite enough already. So I'm not bothered if the only visitor is my American friend who apparently loves my writing. So be it. This blog is mostly an internal railing against an unfair, brutal and pointless world gone wrong, a view from the hill. It's enough to just be that, and no one has to read it for it to have been written and to exist, albeit until the electricity finally dies and the servers of the world wide web no longer function, and the web dies. What will the world be like then? Initially an age of dying and barbarism, not that we've ever been short of either in our short brutish history, and then gradually a healing, a returning, a rebirth of innocence, a natural cycle disrupted too long. My waking dreams are of that future, even if the subconscious still dwells in the irritations of the present, and runs insane movies in order to come to terms with it.

October 18 2005

He's back!

Having thought the neighbour must have killed the squirrel, we were overjoyed to see him after a week, skipping down to the house looking for what might have been left for him. Of course the birds had cleared it all up, so he left again, but will be back, nuts and apple slices await him. They have a varied diet, the grey squirrel, unlike our native red which lives on nuts alone, and that's why the grey has been successful at surviving in the changed environment man has created, while the red is retreating.

On the right is my new mini shopping mall! It contains a search box so that if there's anything you're looking for, you can find the best deals straight from here. This is a new departure for me, so it's all a learning situation. Any income from this will go towards the running costs, which at the moment are ahead of earnings, so if you're thinking of shopping on line, here is a good place to start. This is a new service for bloggers to help them earn a little, but major brands are involved and secure online shopping is guaranteed, so there's no risk. The 'mall' is interactive and will display details of anything it finds for your searches. Clever, huh?

Horrendous tales coming from Kashmir, where still the Pakistani military are incapable of organising a storm in a teacup. With winter coming ever closer, the thought of living in a tent that high up is horrific enough, but there aren't enough tents to go round [or in the world], so many are stuck on mountain sides or sheltering under bits of fallen buildings, and with mostly just a blanket wrapped round to keep out the cold. More will die yet, and still the talk will be of rebuilding, rather than abandonement of a region which is clearly not a viable place for humans to live. So far 43,000 odd have died, but the media have largely lost interest and are now obsessing over whether a contender for leadership of the tory party took drugs as a student, such is the mushy state of the minds of virtually everyone in the media these days. There are no longer journalists, merely tabloid-brained luvvies with a fixation on the no more intellectually gifted political chatterati class.

October 16 2005

The strangest dream

The other night I had the strangest dream [if I'd been Bob Dylan I'd have written Bob Dylan's # whatever Dream, but I'm not, so I didn't] in which I was berating Colin Powell for not realising invading Iraq would stir up a hornet's nest that would be hard to calm down, was warmongering, unjustified, started with lies and deceit and had killed thousands of innocent people. He was trying to justify and apologise all at the same time, but I wouldn't let him get a word in, such was the ferocity of my rant. Just then Bruce Willis came flying headfirst through the window in a shower of glass, clutching an impressive firearm as if it was the last he would ever cuddle like he does. He said 'there must be some way outta her' and I just said 'follow me', and we dived down a hallway, fleeing from I knew not what, and just then I woke up, disappointed, high flying, down the hallway. It might have been Bush, or Blair, but this wasn't a nightmare, so I guess I chose the amicable Colin for my rant. I tried to get back to dreamtime, but alas it was not to be, so I listened to the birds wake up and then to Radio 4. [that should have been Radio three to complete the ryme, but I cannot lie, even for art's sake, I never listen to anything but Radio 4, by far the most intelligent, broadminded, varied and interesting radio station on the dial, and even still they piss me off regularly. My tolerance for the others varies between 2 and five minutes before I have to move on].

Bird flu, in birds, has reached Europe, which is bad news for birds, but not of any great importance viz the threatened pandemic, as that is being nicely brewed in the stinking conditions most Asians keep chicken and other animals. Sooner or later it will mutate into something nasty for humans to be concerned about. They are unconcerned with the deaths of millions of chicken, or even in the way they are killed. Stuffed into a sack and asphyxiated with carbon dioxide isn't a very nice way to die. Many of them seemed to be still flapping when thrown into pits to be incinerated. Treated as inanimate product, they are of concern only as loss of profits.

This casual unconcern at animal suffering, and the attitude that they are all expendable but humans are so precious, really pisses me off. My neighbour, who makes a living killing animals for farmers [called pest control], and goes out late at night for 'sport' with a gun because he can't get enough of it in his job, has been asked by his next door neighbour [an obese lard mountain] to kill the squirrel because he makes a mess in her flower pots burying nuts. So now we live in fear he will be trapped and killed by a peasant as vermin, when all we see is a beautiful wild creature who knows what it is to be a squirrel and who survives by his own efforts without harming any other living thing. It's a pleasure to see him moving warily towards the french windows, and then, relaxing, eating the peanuts we left out, his tiny hands turning each nut over expertly as he removes the outer covering and bites into the oily interior, storing up fat for what we are told is to be a harsh winter. And the religionistas say 'we can do what we like with other species because we're special' and the truly loony ones say 'god made all the animals for us to eat and play with and hunt and kill to our heart's content'. And the non-religious just eat anything that tastes good. I may start a candid camera album of the result of that by photographing the more extreme examples of obesity, which, strangely, this sheep rearing area seems well stocked with. They are not pretty. As they're also stupid, it shouldn't be too difficult to do it without them being aware as they're mostly too distracted with munching on something.

October 12 2005

Good news: Chinese Bear-Bile Farmer Eaten by own Animals

A Chinese man who raised bears to tap them for their bile, prized as a traditional medicine in Asia where ignorance still rules, has been killed and eaten by his animals, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
Six black bears attacked keeper Han Shigen as he was cleaning their pen in the northeastern province of Jilin on Monday. Animal rights groups have long campaigned against the practise where bile is extracted through surgically implanted catheters in the bear's gall bladders, or by a "free-dripping" technique by which bile drips out through holes opened in the animals' abdomens. In order to do this, the bears have to be confined in cages all their lives. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/32925/story.htm Now if that ain't karma, I don't know what is, and I hope he suffered for a while before death relieved him. Perhaps the news will spread to all the other bears, and they'll exact revenge against these unevolved apes.

Extraordinary how two huge countries, India and Pakistan, have been arguing, and sometimes fighting, over an area of major earthquakes - caused by India continuing its crashing collision with Asia begun millions of years ago which produced the Himalyas and continues to raise them and the surrounding mountains by several metres a year. Kashmir is not a place to live, let alone build schools and hospitals and to behave as if it was Surrey. Somewhere to visit on holiday definitely, but not suitable to live in. Despite this, millions do live there despite there being Earth tremors every day, and quakes quite frequently, no wonder so many Kashmiris have moved to the UK over the years, quakes are pretty rare here. This latest quake, which appears to be one of the bigger ones with 43,000 so far dead and more expected, shows up the inability of Pakistan to cope with such an event, having wasted untold millions on weapons including nuclear, and very little on emergency response infrastructure. Guns aren't much use to dig people out of piles of rubble, so they've had to ask the rest of the world for help. Perhaps they should be encouraged to spend less on the military in future. Two nuclear armed, barely developed countries quarreling over an inhospitable and dangerous Earthquake zone, pathetic.

A perfect illustration of the military 'mind': a journalist wondered why a group of soldiers were standing around doing nothing with people buried alive a few feet from them. When asked, they said they had received no orders. Anyone who can't see what's to be done in a situation like this and do it, is just what is needed. The only justification for war is the culling of such failed humans, who would otherwise be a burden on society. Even the normally detached foreign journalist was moved to scrabble in the rubble to help pull people out.

While in the UK, two-thirds of people in flood risk areas said they were unlikely to take any precautions to protect themselves or their homes, while a third did not know whether their insurance policies covered flood damage, a recent survey by the Environment Agency found. So we can look forward to more idiots removing their DNA from the gene pool.

October 8 2005

Attishoo, attishoo, we all fall down - Flu Awareness Week

The recent research news from the 1918 flu outbreak, with material from frozen bodies of people who died recombined into the virus responsible, is bad news. It was thought the current avian flu virus had to mix with a human flu virus in order for the dna to mix and produce a hybrid in order to transmit between humans, but the researchers have found that the 1918 virus was an avian flu virus which adapted without exposure to a human flu virus, and was much more lethal than the two major outbreaks since then, which were indeed combined avian and human virus caused. This probably means we are heading for a similar pandemic [with the H5N1 virus] as the 1918 one, in which 150 million died worldwide. Different circumstances mean there's no way to estimate accurately how many will succumb this time. There are more people on the planet, and they are concentrated more into urban conurbations, and with a massive increase in intercontinental air travel. But in 1918, there were a lot of malnourished and sick people already, returning soldiers from the war in distant lands, and worse hygiene in western nations than the present. There was also less medical preparedness and less ability to respond. The current suspect which is killing birds in Asia and has already killed fifty plus people, is almost always lethal.

The 1918 pandemic caused enough chaos to lead to a major world slump. What effect something similar might have on our highly complex and interrelated world economy is anybody's guess, but it won't be any more manageable. Add to this serious disruption from hundreds of millions of deaths and the resulting need for safe disposal, things could get out of hand. That many bodies being burned would add substantially to the carbon input into the environment which is already still increasing by around 3-4% a year.

There is evidence coming out of Indnesia that human to human transmission is already happening. There are 63 suspected cases in Indonesia, but probably others not being reported or tested. Birds are being tested positive, and another zoo in Semerang, Indonesia has been closed to the public because birds there tested positive.

http://www.dymaxionweb.com/h5n1/archives/2005/09/ - Lots of information contributed from people all over the world.

http://www.fluwikie.com/index.php?n=Main.PFAW - Flu awareness week, educate yourself

October 6 2005

Feedback and links sorted at last!

All sorted and working and I now have a headache. Gave up on the old feedback form and went to an expert, the site wizard.com here ...

Free Customized Feedback Form (PHP / Perl Script) (Wizard)  and it works a treat. I just love the way so many people are happy to give the results of their labours away for free, it's how the net started out before the business suits heard about it and their cash register minds started working overtime, which is pretty hard for one lonely brain cell, I wish there was a search engine which filtered them all out. Then there's spam and the get rich quick affiliate schemes that plaster the net and are just another version of the pyramid selling game, where you are supposed to make money by suckering more gullibles, and they yet more. The 'net gurus' call this MLM [multi level marketing] and in essence, all they are selling is the idea of getting rich and idle without doing anything. The net is awash with millions of hopefulls trying to scam each other. Their web design skills are nonexistant as well.

For anyone building a site, and lacking a techie's knowledge of the finer points, people like this are invaluable, and with a little bit of customising, you're home and dry. Entering your crucial personal info such as where the feedback form is to be sent, this site automatically generates the code needed, and then it's just a case of copy [from the window that appears] and paste [into your own file].

Getting free stuff like this inspires me to give away freebies also, just like someone being polite and courteous towards you on the road makes you feel good and wanting to be polite and courteous to someone else, something that bad, aggressive drivers and money making suits on the net will never understand.

October 5 2005

Here's a free gift for everyone

I've just got an ebook together of all Bob Dylan lyrics, for all those times when you want to place a line, identify a song, or just read again for pleasure. It's in pdf format with bookmarks arranged alphabetically so if you know the title you can go striaght to the letter it starts from and go down the list. You can also search on several words and it'll find where they appear. It's taken longer than I imagined because he's one prolific writer, with 51 albums so far, that's a heck of a lot of songs, 441 pages! Just click on the link to download. Enjoy.

I'm struggling. Some of the links aren't working and I haven't sorted them out yet. Despite having an explanation on the contact form page and asking anyone who wants to contact me to email rather than use the form, someone [or maybe several people, are still sending me contacts using the form, so I get a blank email. I just delete them, so no hassle, but I'm left wondering if anyone actually reads anything any more. So, until there's a message saying it's all fixed, please write to me with my email address: all fixed now so use the feedback form [Contact, top left] . Spammers seem to have no difficulty, so I don't see why anyone else does.

The problem with links seems to be that no matter how I place the links, they seem not to be recognised by the browser, yet I enable them by selecting the directory and the file which is then automatically placed in the link, so it's not immediately obvious why it's not working, but I think the software changing upper case to lower case no matter what I do might be a clue, although case isn't supposed to matter. I shall persevere. The Dylan ebook link is now live at least, now to sort out the rest.


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