Thursday, September 04, 2008

[chrome] shape of things to come... perhaps

Wiki ran this summation of the new Google browser/platform Chrome:

Microsoft reportedly "played down the threat from Chrome" and "predicted that most people will embrace Internet Explorer 8." Opera Software said that "Chrome will strengthen the Web as the biggest application platform in the world."

Mozilla said that Chrome's introduction into the web browser market comes as "no real surprise" and that "Chrome is not aimed at competing with Firefox" — and furthermore should not affect Google's financing of Firefox.

The FT ran this summation of Chrome:

At the time, Microsoft’s claim that its web browser was part of its operating system was self-serving baloney. With the arrival of Chrome, however, it has migrated from being false to being true.

Chrome is not going to replace Windows. A computer requires an operating system such as Windows, Apple’s OS X or Linux to make the machine work. It does, however, have the potential to do what Mr Gates feared: make the choice of operating system less important.

Why use it? Some reviewers say:

1. The first release of Google Chrome does not pass the Acid3 test; however, it scores 78/100, which is higher than both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 3.

2. At the end of the day, I'm making the decision to switch to Google Chrome for the same reason that I originally switched to Firefox. The underlying technology and architecture of Chrome is so different from its competition. Chrome has raised the bar and I want to support the team for doing so.

3. Google itself - What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.
Why not to use it:

Sackerson has just run this, for example.

I have just downloaded Firefox 3 and quite like it. Chrome is not available for Mac as yet so it is a moot issue for me at this time.

I'd be interested to know if you like it after you've tried it.

UPDATE via Wolfie - read here.

[arctic shelf] delving behind the statement

First the news:

Arctic ice shelf specialist Derek Mueller of the Trent University in Ontario, Canada said the 19-square-mile shelf is now drifting in the Arctic Ocean after breaking loose in early August. The chunk of ice sheet was part of the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf.

He adds the event underscores how rapid changes are taking place in the Arctic due to global warming.

So he supports the contention of global warming which bloggers assure us is not happening. First step is to play devil's advocate and find the dirt on him which would support the climate sceptic bloggers.

His CV says he completed two years of postdoctoral work at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (supervised by Martin Jeffries). He's the Roberta Bondar Fellow in Northern and Polar Studies at Trent University and is working with Luke Copland. He has an association with Wayne Pollard, of McGill.

The four of them have really only one strike against them - they are primarily geographers, then glaciologists and Trent University is a general Liberal Arts university, within which the department operates.

Each of the four appears to have had an outstanding career path and has been published many times in journals. A minor blip is that McGill rang a bell in the mind in another context and that raises another question - while geography is not psychiatry, still, how far is university research biased, given the issue of who funds it?

Returning to McGill, it is funded by SURF and government and other institutional funding is paramount. One such institution is the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, research of which leads to this site and a statement by Steven Harper, in another area:

... that allowing foundations to operate without scrutiny showed that the Federal Government “has learned nothing from the Sponsorship Scandal.” Harper further said “that scandal happened because the liberals stashed millions away from the watch of parliament. Even after repeated warnings, billions of dollars continue to be hidden away in these unaccountable research funding foundations. When will the government learn and put the foundations under the scrutiny of Parliament and the Auditor-General?”

No doubt the CFI itself is squeaky clean but the question does remain how far the universities, and by a logical process its research departments, are caught in the research dilemma, firstly in this way:

"Our concern is that, by primarily rewarding academic research that's divorced from its practical application, we risk having entrants to the profession taught by people who have never practised it themselves."

... and also in the pressure to produce certain findings, e.g. in the pharmaceutical trade:

Most clinical trials, however, are funded by pharmaceutical companies with enormous financial stakes in the products being evaluated. Furthermore, the scientists who design, conduct, analyze, and report clinical trials often receive monetary compensation from drug companies, in the form of either salaries or consulting fees.

... and:

The effect of competing interests is debated in medical research. It has been found that industry funding has been associated with higher quality than trials without external funding. On the other hand, financial interests may bias the interpretation of trial results.

The above looms as a convoluted strawman, in that by raising the spectre of bias at Trent in geophysics by scrutinizing McGill in medicine which, of course, is a non sequitur, it thereby plays into the climate proponents' hands. That is possible and yet, the nagging doubts about the sceptics persist:

Of all the accusations made by the vociferous community of climate sceptics, surely the most damaging is that science itself is biased against them ... "Most global warming sceptics have no productive alternatives; they say it is a hoax, or that it will cause severe social problems, or that we should allocate resources elsewhere." Andres Millan wrote. "Scientifically, they have not put forward a compelling, rich, and variegated theory."

So we are left with the people on the ground, such as Derek Mueller and colleagues, accepting climate change due to global warming.

The blogosphere, on the whole, begs to differ due to possibly sound, innate distrust of the Gore and IPCC agenda and point to the statements by such groups as the NIPCC, e.g. Professor Frederick Seitz, the past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, who told WND:

... he believes the issue has nothing to do with energy itself, but everything to do with power, control and money, which the United Nations is seeking. He accused the U.N. of violating human rights in its campaign to ban much energy research, exploration and development.

Diametrically opposed to that are the scientists, like Jay Lawrimore, a climatologist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., who said:

... there was no way to account for the trends, be they the melting of Arctic sea ice or the warming of winters, without including an influence from heat-trapping gases.

The Federation of American Scientists states:

“There is no serious doubt that human activity is altering the earth's climate in potentially catastrophic ways. Even skeptics are forced to admit that the risk is real and that prudence demands action if only as an insurance policy, the only serious debate is about how best to respond."

... and here is a list of organizations supporting human agency in climate change.

Whom to believe?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

[budding journos] or just caring for baby

Just went over to Grendel's and was pensive after what he'd written about the difficulties of running the blog:
Part of the problem is the hours which, as we all know, it takes to support these projects. For me it's pretty much impossible to get on the computer before 21.30hrs on any given day. So by the time the posts are researched / written / proof read and published and all the visits undertaken you're just not getting to bed before 01.00hrs.

And that's how things have been for much of the last year and I think it's got to the stage where that's just not a sustainable position anymore. I haven't been feeling too good lately and perhaps a period of getting proper nights rest will help to address that.

I have been thinking of getting out completely. But there is this little voice that reminds me of the time and effort expended on this project and a sadness at leaving the blog friends / associates made since I started.
Yes, that probably sums it up. If you run a consistent blog where you come up with new and interesting things every day, then you are a virtual journo, without being paid one penny. And yet fellow bloggers I've observed will scour the papers and other sources, answer emails, answer comments, plan the post, write and publish, as well as going around other blogs and for what?

Someone I know is not blogging at all - he's out making money. What am I doing? Blogging. Now is that productive? Seems to me one has either too much time on the hands or is not utilizing it to produce income.

Maybe though, just maybe, it is the camaraderie and the way the blog becomes part of us. We don't stop feeding the cat or dog because we tire of the dear. We don't have a hiatus on changing the baby.

Our blogs do seem a bit like babies.

[wednesday quiz] easy one to return with

1. What did Diana Duyser of Hollywood, Fla., discover in her rye bread when she sat down for breakfast one morning in 2004?

2. On the afternoon of April 14, 1865, the Whig Press in Middleton, New York, announced that Abraham Lincoln had been killed by an assassin. What was so strange about this?

3. A company called Technology Investment and Exploration Limited (TIEL) sought permission in 2002 to drill for oil at a site in rural Leicestershire. What was so weird about that?

4. Grandmother Eve Stuart-Kelso had a gnome, called Murphy, stolen from her Gloucestershire garden and then it was returned to her. So what?

5. Many crewmen on the the destroyer escort Eldridge later became ill or insane. What two things had happened to this ship?


The Virgin Mary staring back at her, he wasn't shot until the evening of that day, they were to use microleptons to detect the oil, there was a photo album showing he'd been to 10 countries, made invisible and teleported.

[dale list] right of centre bloggers

I just adore the way different bloggers on the list lightly play it down but I'm quite proud of 77, as it was a result of votes by fellow bloggers and that does mean something to me, especially in a not so good year, personally.

Quite delighted to see Andrew so high and Prodicus in there too but also delighted with 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 13, 16, 19, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 54, 59, 62, 65 [easily confused], 76, 86, 87, 89, 91, 92 and 94.

[bombardier] broadside, bacon butties and cottage pie


Andrew Allison, in pointing out the definition of a gentleman, need go no further than himself and it's only logical that his wife, Becky, is a perfect lady as well. Last Saturday, we wandered down to the Old Town of Hull and would have stayed there except for a raucous, amplified flamenco guitar in the square, masquerading as entertainment.

Well, naturally people can't enjoy their Guinesses that way [which choice, incidentally, marks the end of their recent trip to Ireland] plus it was chilly and so we retired down by the Humber, to the Minerva, which is soon to close down, sad to say.

For the connoisseurs, Broadside and Bombardier were the two brews sampled.

Cottage Pie and Shepherd's pie

Sunday evening, Andrew loaded about 20kg of cooked, spicy mince and mashed potato into a cottage pie which left no room for anything else whatsoever beyond wine and copious amounts of tea and coffee.

Wiki says:
While a variety of meats can be used, the dish is traditionally made from beef or lamb. The lamb version is often called shepherd's pie but neither term is exact.
I was always led to believe that the difference was not in the meat used but in the presence of cheese on top but you could set me straight that way.

Anyway, for those who don't wish to just bung in a bit of mince and taties and wish to do it properly, here is a recipe.

I think you'd be pushing it to touch Andrew's cottage pie and whilst we're there in Hull, you should check out Jailhouse Lawyer's scrumptious, crispy bacon butties.

[holy grail] and the search for sanity

Wonder if this:

Italian cryptographer Giancarlo Gianazza and a team of scientists and Holy Grail enthusiasts found nothing [though he] is confident that the Holy Grail is hidden in Iceland because of clues that he found in Italian artwork and literature.

In Botticelli’s “Primavera” a series of numeric symbols form the date March 14, 1319, which somehow supports Gianazza’s theory, and in da Vinci’s “Last Supper” Gianazza believes to have found outlines matching the landscape at Kj√∂lur.

Further clues were found in Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” and an ancient Icelandic script states that poet and politician Snorri Sturluson was accompanied by “eighty armored Eastmen” at the Althingi parliament in 1217, who could have been the Knights Templars.

... has anything to do with this:

On June 10 this summer an elderly man of Dutch origin was arrested when 190 kilos of hashish and 1.5 kilos of cocaine were found inside his camper which also arrived in the country on Norraena. The man is still in custody with an Icelandic citizen who is believed to be his accomplice.

Don't know what they're going on about. Everyone knows it's at Glastonbury.

If you'd like some links to follow, there are probably more than enough here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stinker of a row over whiff or pong

Stinker of a row over whiff or pong

Boris to star in a remake of The Office?

Did the gaffe-prone buffoon get his story of the history of table tennis from Jonathan Ross?

It could be that what Jonathan Ross meant to say was riff raff played the game in public schools in Victorian England...

Blackberry picking is a dying art

Blackberry picking is a dying art

Wildlife experts say blackberry picking is a dying art, even when economic worries make it the perfect time to make use of what's on offer in our hedgerows

The quintessentially British pastime of blackberry picking is apparently on the wane

Elvis has left the building. You can't get the staff these days. My chief blackberry picker has gone off elsewhere. I hope you find what you are looking for James.

Monday, September 01, 2008

[the road to the library] a life story

His name is Tony, a bit over 60, like, wearing a baseball cap to hide his baldness, quite well dressed all considering, quite soft in manner and to tell the truth, looked a bit bewildered.

He asked me if I knew the way to the police station and I said straight down Beverley Road but he'd probably have to press the call button which connects to the main station. He said he needed to talk to them personal, like.

I said he'd need to go to the main station - did he know where it was? Yes. He started walking in the direction of the railway station towards which I was also heading and he wasn't moving any too steadily but definitely not drunk. He was mentally sharp.

As we walked, he told his tale.

He was in a nice place down one of the crescents, he'd made £25 yesterday so that was a windfall and then, on the way out of the chemists, four youths had started to follow him. As he entered the street next across from his home, they pulled balaclavas over their heads and sped up towards him.

He panicked and ran into a sidestreet which turned out to be a dead end, then ran up to a house with a light on inside but whoever was in there wasn't answering. [I said at this point it might have been better to show he was bald and a pensioner - he might have had the door answered that way.]

They set on him and beat him up, broke a bone in his arm and later he was found, taken to hospital and kept overnight. He was now carrying a carrier-bag of documents to show the police but of course there are no police. He talked of that and somehow we got onto the topic of rubbish bins and how they won't collect your rubbish and he said yeah, tell me about it.

He'd had a nervous breakdown in the late 70s, his wife had now gone, the family had moved out to Australia and basically he was alone. Not complaining, mind, he said. He had £25 at home he'd received yesterday and he had a nice place in XXXX Crescent and was quite happy.

You don't expect to get mugged, do you, he wondered. You read about it in the papers but you don't expect it to happen to you, do you?

He was in some pain so I asked and it was more the head that was the problem so I gave him a paracetamol and walked him as far as the library, telling him I'd most like be there when he got away from the police station and I now half hope he'll turn up and we'll go for a cuppa.

I feel a bit sheepish really because I don't think I did all I could. I should have gone to the police station and might do that now. I was given succour over the weekend myself and the lift was enormous.

As you know, there's been lots of action around here and John Hirst has been great the way he has put me up and up with me. Also on the weekend, I met Andrew Allison for real and his lovely wife Becky. When I say "met", I mean they killed the fatted calf and cottage pie was one of the results.

Another was a mobile phone which I'm now the proud owner of and I was and still am lost for words over that. We shifted a few pints the night before, down by the Humber and I'd like to think I paid my way there at least. I have a mental list now of what I can do to return this sort of kindness and I'm dying to find a base soon so I can start the road back.

JMB wrote of me being a modern day pilgrim. I can assure her that this was not my choice by any means and I'm seeking the day when I can look around four walls and say to myself that this is my place and all my friends are welcome to come and stay [not all at the same time please].

Some details on the state of the pensioner in Britain