I live in Nottingham but work just outside Coventry. It’s a great job but the daily drive up and down the motorways are a complete pain in the rectum.
The trauma of the journey is much reduced due to the availability of a few colleagues that live close enough for me to car share with. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to not have to drive every day. The journey isn’t that long and arduous, or at least not as long as some poor sods have to put up with, but it really helps to be able to share the experience with others.
The other thing that really helps is cruise control. I like to get on the motorway, find a decent speed and switch it on. The car sorts itself out, generally, and all I’ve got to do is point it in the right direction. The only problem with the cruise control in my car (and most other people’s cars too) is that it doesn’t pay the slightest attention to how everyone else is driving around you.
For instance, I’m driving at one speed but the guy in front might be driving at about 0.05 miles an hour slower than me. Eventually I’m going to have to overtake but it’s going to be a tortuous manoever if I leave it on cruise control; I’m much better off giving the car a burst of juice to get past him. If the motorway is even remotely busy there are no end of drivers all driving at different, inconsistent speeds, and it really buggers up my desire to stay on cruise control.
Wouldn’t it be great if your car could adapt its speed to the vehicles around it? Well, apparently some very clever people in the good ole’ US of A have developed just such a thing:
Heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Ford Motor Company engineer Jerry Engelman swings his 2010 Taurus into the left lane to pass a semi. The Taurus hesitates, slowing down, and then Engelman adjusts his heading. The car takes off. “Larry,” he calls to his colleague in the back seat, “write that down!”
Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He’s been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn’t touched a pedal in an hour.
Sounds fabulous to me. Do you think they could fit that in our Seat Leon by the weekend please?
The media are falling over themselves regarding swine flu. There are plenty of stories scaring us all into thinking that there are going to be tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the disease this coming winter, and it’s difficult to sort the facts from the fiction.
I worry about my pregnant wife. She’s obviously at a higher risk than most from this but she’s also asthmatic, making any infection more dangerous.
Luckily for me I follow Annabel Bentley on Twitter. She posted a link to one of her blog posts on just this subject. Some parts of the medical establishment seem to think that pregnant women should just stay at home and watch TV rather than mix with the infected hordes, or either wear a facemask.
My wife, a nurse of significant standard, has told me no end of times that these masks are a complete waste of time. Once your breathe on them they get wet, thus allowing whatever bacteria or virus you’re trying to avoid to enter into your lungs virtually unimpeded.
Annabel gives some very sensible advice:
The bottom line is that hand and respiratory hygiene measures are the best ways to reduce the risk of H1N1 flu in pregnancy. The conflicting messages about masks and staying at home dilute the key messages to everyone about hand washing, sneezing and disposing of tissues. So, perhaps when leaving the house, pregnant women would be better advised to take some soap or alcohol hand gel with them, rather than a facemask, and use it to clean their hands regularly.
This is something that the government, to their credit, have been saying all along. It’s just a shame that the message has been lost amongst a whole bunch of scaremongering by people that should really know better
Well, Amsterdam is an anarchistic, cesspool of corruption if you’re in the American religious right:
This makes you wonder just how many of these idiots have even been to Amsterdam. I’ve not been but the UK is close enough for me to know several people that have. They’ve all said that it’s a beautiful city full of laid-back, intelligent, friendly people.
I’m sure it’s not quite as utopian as the video suggests but it’s high on my list of places to visit.
One thing is clear: Bill O’Reilly and the dimwits from his Fox show just do not have a clue.
(found on that other cesspool of corruption: Pharyngula)
A friend of mine had been working for Nortel for a number of years and found out in March that he was going to be made redundant. This is a sad story in itself, but it’s made worse by the way that Nortel’s administrators Ernst and Young have implemented these redundancies.
They’ve chopped these UK employees out without giving any notice, nor giving them their contractually-agreed notice pay. All they’ve got is the measley statutory redundancy pay (as paid by the tax payer) and subsequent job-seekers allowance of £65 or so a week. All this while paying $23million in bonuses to some executives while these redundancies were being announced.
It stinks, and they’ve been protesting in London:
Watch this and hope that other employers don’t try the same thing.
The system is broken. If there’s money in the company to pay bonuses then there’s money to pay a fair severence to the unfortunate many that have been cast off. Shame on you Nortel.
In a recently introduced piece of bureaucracy, the Metropolitan police have started requiring live event producers across London to fill in the innocuous sounding “Form 696″.
Here’s the catch: it requires four pages of information from event organisers 14 days before it takes place. If you need to make last-minute changes – tough luck, the event can’t go ahead. The Met police not only want to know the type of music to be played, but also names, aliases, phone numbers and addresses of performers. It will not only make putting on live bands very difficult for small venues, but also spell the end of impromptu open mic sessions.
The Macintosh – the first Apple computer to bear the name – turns 25 on 24 January. The machine debuted in 1984 and kicked off a product line that were Apple’s flagship computers for many years. The Macintosh helped popularise the combination of graphical interface and mouse that is ubiquitous today.
Yesterday was an historic day in world politics: Barack Obama became America’s first black president and probably the most powerful man in the world.
He’s an intelligent, eloquent man and a significant improvement on the clown they elected, twice, before him. The early signs are good. There’s a chance for change, for things to get better, for the world to wake up and make our planet a better place.
He’s still a politician though and can’t be trusted.
Websites all over the world have been spewing their thoughts on this historic day for a while. There’s been an avalanche of advice for the new President and I’d like to add my own carefully considered advice:
I wonder,Â sometimes, who comes up with these ideas.
Our beloved government think that in order to combat crime, especially terrorism, they will need all the ISPs in the country to keep details of every single email that anyone sends or receives on their services. If they do that then we’ll all be able to sleep snugly in our beds,Â safe in the knowledge that our enemies will be unable to communicate with each other.
From March all internet service providers (ISPs) will by law have to keep information about every e-mail sent or received in the UK for a year.
Human rights group Liberty says it is worried what will happen next.
The Home Office insists the data, which does not include e-mails’ content, is vital for crime and terror inquiries.
Great.Â So, no email content but they still want to keep more of our private data available for their perusal.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said ISPs already kept the information on a voluntary basis.
“The thing we have to worry about is what happens next because the government is already mooting plans not just to leave this stuff with the providers but to create a central government database where they hold all the information.
“I’m afraid we just don’t trust any government or any organisation to keep that much very sensitive information about us all and to keep it safe.”
Exactly. Our incompetent government, and the similarly incompetent “security” firms that they employ, just can’t keep our private data private when they have it. Why should we trust them with this information?
In fact, why do they think that this’ll help at all? They may catch the odd criminal who’s too stupid to keep their plans to themselves but will it catch any terrorists? I doubt it.Â It’s too easy to communicate privately and securely over the internet for this scheme to be of any use.
It’s a complete waste of money and a very unwelcome intrusion.
Our friends over the other side of the Atlantic have added another layer of complication to visiting their great nation. From this week visitors to the USA need to fill in an electronic form before they travel, otherwise they could be refused entry into the country.
Over the last year or so I’ve developed a taste for scepticism. I’m finding myself questioning the reporting of news more and more, but mostly I’ve just been appalled at the quality of critical thinking in the media. I’m also distressed to see that our planet seems chock full of people that are happy to believe any old crap if they set their mind to it.
The media's MMR hoax
Most of the British news media are ignorant of science, at least, that’s the logical conclusion considering the lack of objectivity when considering news stories that feature anything vaguely science-related. Ben Goldacre is the exception to the rule – a journalist that actually knows what they’re talking about, especially where medicine-related news is concerned. He’s a physician by trade and writes a weekly column in the Guardian concerning poor science practice and the shocking quality of reporting of such things.
Ben expands on his Guardian column on his blog – Bad Science. I subscribe to the blog feed and I’m often entertained by his dismemberment of various news stories on pseudoscience and other quackery, especially his article on poo-specialist and closet Terrahawk impersonator Gillian McKeith.
I was especially pleased to read one of his latest articles on one of the British press’s darkest hours – the reporting around the MMR link to Autism. Ben postulates that the media needs to take a good look at itself over the way it’s reported on this whole mess. He also points the finger at Leo Blair (or rather, his parents) for giving members of the British public more reason to try and avoid giving their own children the MMR vaccine.
Ben points out, quite correctly, that there is no proof that the MMR jab causes Autism. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. MMR is an important boost to an infant’s immune system and the media’s insistence in fueling this hoax has put many, many children at risk.
Don’t believe the anti-vaxxers. The evidence suggests that vaccinations do not cause Autism. No matter how loudly people may shout to the contrary (and they do) just about all the research into MMR (and associated international alternatives) shows that the jab gives children way more benefit than any potential risk.
Don’t put your children at risk due to this media frenzy. Immunise.
Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease but it seems that one recent cancer-related news story has driven a considerable amount of extra traffic here.
It was announced on Tuesday that Jade Goody has cervical cancer. This is a sad state of affairs even if I do think that Jade makes a pretty worthless “celebrity”. It’s unfortunate that she’s had this diagnosis and I honestly hope that she’s able to beat it.
So, why has this story suddenly driven extra visitors here? Well, I happened to mention a certain Ms Goody in a post around the time she was in Big Brother. I also used such intellectual words as “naked” and “tits” in posts around the same time, and so I started to get hits from people looking for images of a certain (very) minor celebrity displaying her nether-regions and other such rude things. I then made the matter worse by creating a post called “Jade Goody Free Naked Pics” where I complained about this unfortunate happenstance.
Since then Google has been serving my site with visitors interested in seeing Jade Goody sans clothing. It’s by largest key phrase for search engine hits and highly inaccurate. I don’t have any naked pictures of the young lady and I really don’t want any.
There are a couple of things that I find a little disturbing about this. Firstly, the new breaks that Jade has cancer and the first thing that goes through some people’s minds is to seek out naked pictures of her. How messed up is that? I’m also a little distressed, but not surprised, to see that The Sun newspaper seemed to think that Jade’s diagnosis is the most important news of the day, inserting “Jade Has Cancer” in huge letters across its front page. It’s sad news, especially for her and her family, but it’s certainly not the most important thing happening in the world at the moment.
Anyway, I hope she recovers. I hope that anyone with cancer is able to beat the disease.