Dec 012009

With the news that meat might be grown without animals comes a lot of philosophical and practical questions (about the nature of life, feeding the growing population, how our relationship with “livestock” animals might change… Perhaps, after a little thought, you could write your own list of concerns…). The future continues to arrive too soon for us to readily assimilate. However, 30 years ago, the television drama Sapphire & Steel looked at the sort of future that such technology might lead to. If you’re too stingy to buy the DVDs, you can, for the time being at least, spend a few hours watching it on YouTube. You won’t, of course, but, as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t grow it in a petri dish (yet).

Analogue Cheese Flavour

 Communication, Drivel, Society  Comments Off on Analogue Cheese Flavour
Aug 232009


The San Marco brand bills its margherita pizza as a “deep pan pizza base topped with tomato sauce, analogue cheese flavour and mozzarella cheese”. So, does “analogue cheese” contain highly resonant filters that might make pizza-loving synthesiser owners “phat”?

“Analogue cheese” is in fact listed as being “water, vegetable oil, milk proteins, starch, salt, emulsifying salts (sodium citrates and sodium phosphates), colour (beta carotene)”.


Responsible politics

 Communication, Society  Comments Off on Responsible politics
Apr 172009

The UK’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown:-

“I take full responsibility for what happened. That’s why the person who was responsible went immediately.”

(Source: everywhere).

So he takes responsibility, but he wasn’t responsible.

Do you see?

If you did see, straight away, you have a career in politics ahead of you. Otherwise, you pass.

Business as usual

 Communication, Environment, Society  Comments Off on Business as usual
Apr 022009

The BBC reports one Dr Nina Federoff, “science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state since 2007” (another example of the Obama presidency keeping advisors from the previous administration) as saying that “There are probably already too many people on the planet”.

There’s no “probably” about it. However, Federoff carved out a career in biotechnology and is not so delicate about advocating the dream that GM crops will save the day, going so far as to say that opposition to widespread growing of genetically modified crops indicates that “we want to go back to the 19th Century”.

Funnily enough, Federoff would have as all believe that, by submitting the world to GM experiments, we would be going back to prehistory. Her article ‘Prehistoric GM Corn’ in Science magazine (14th Nov. 2003) followed the traditional GM industry ploy of presenting the technology as spectacularly new whilst somehow also being nothing new at all – whilst confounding terms to serve the mission.

No, I don’t have a light

 Birmingham, Drivel, Society  Comments Off on No, I don’t have a light
Mar 282009

No, sorry, I don’t have a light. I don’t smoke. You scowl and turn away, outraged. But have you considered buying your own “lights”, rather than scowling at those inconsiderate non-smokers who do not carry around such paraphernalia for you?

Nor do I carry clean needles, rolled up banknotes, hookahs or portable chemistry sets from Switzerland. That’s very remiss of me, and I should be here to satisfy the cravings and addictions of anyone who accosts me in the street needing a fix.

Speaking of which, do you have a spoon for my coffee? Stir it for me, would you?

No sugar, thanks.

Earth Hour

 Communication, Environment, Society  Comments Off on Earth Hour
Mar 282009

At 8.30 pm (your local time), you are asked by the World Wildlife Fund to turn off your lights for an hour.

The site (well, one of them – there seems to be some redundancy) also suggests that you “Make a video of your event, upload it to YouTube and add it to our YouTube group” and “Write a live blog post during the event”. Presumably that’s if your video recorder, camera and computer run off pedal power or your own wind turbines in the garden.

Well, it’s only a gesture to those in power, and to each other so you might as well join in.

Big Brother is Poking You

 Society  Comments Off on Big Brother is Poking You
Mar 272009

Facebook could be monitored by the government” says a report in The Telegraph. You might be surprised that that is not already being done, but remember:

The proposal follows plans to retain information about all telephone calls, emails, and internet visits made by everyone in Britain through a multi-billion pound system.

So it’s a budgeting issue. Still, the regime (we can hardly grace it with the term “government” any more) thinks it has money to burn so is probably quite happy to burn more.

Perhaps these schemes should be run on a trial basis first? We could start by monitoring our unelected Prime Minister for a start, bearing in mind the damage he has wreaked during (and before) his time in office, and the deranged excesses of his predecessor.

If you take a prescription for medication to a pharmacy (chemist’s, drug store… whatever you want to call it) in the UK, you might well see a sign telling you that the really dangerous stuff can’t be taken away without extra identity checks – and that this is in response to the “Shipman case”. Harold Shipman was the British G.P. (General Practitioner) who murdered 218 (or more, it is suspected) people. So concluding that increased ID checking of people collecting prescriptions, rather than doctors, is surely missing – or perhaps avoiding – the point.

The former (elected – by people who, it is to be hoped, have learned their lesson) prime minister pushed the UK into a war in Iraq that helped inflame terrorist sentiments and provoke attacks. Without a general election being called, his party’s work is being continued by an anointed successor. It follows that these, and the rest of the creepy New Labour control freaks, should be monitored first. They pose an inestimably larger threat to democracy and freedom than any terrorist and have already done enough damage.

At a time of economic crisis in the UK, it might be considered financially prudent to have a trial run of monitoring schemes. The public might be urged to be less reticent in calling its paid servants, the Members of Parliament, to account and suggest where and how cameras might be applied or inserted to keep an eye on those who do the most damage to liberty, instigate illegal wars and seek to safeguard their position and fortune by spending other people’s money to enslave them and their progeny in perpetuity.

Good riddance to TVs on trains

 Birmingham, Environment, Society  Comments Off on Good riddance to TVs on trains
Mar 212009

Rail travellers in Birmingham will soon be free to read, to converse or to gaze out of the windows free from the noise of televisions, thanks to the decision of train operator London Midland to remove all sets from its carriages.

London Midland still has issues to address (their published bar graphs indicating customer satisfaction appear with the top 20% of blank space omitted) but when a train does arrive, travelling on it should soon no longer be as routinely irritating as it has been.

Good. Very good.

Today’s Rapper Spam

 Society  Comments Off on Today’s Rapper Spam
Feb 152009

“if you do not specialise in hip hop/rap can you please forward this to someone who does”.

Oh we are here to serve. Just sit there and take it easy.

A “rapper” walks into an ironmonger’s:

“A cabbage and two oranges right away please. Or if you don’t sell fruit & veg., maybe you can find someone who does and have them arrange home delivery for me”.

And the ironmonger says… Well, it doesn’t really matter what he says, does it?

Snow news day

 Birmingham, Communication, Society  Comments Off on Snow news day
Feb 022009

If you are unfortunate enough to live in Birmingham and need to travel locally by train, you will, on most journeys, be forcibly subjected to television programmes. Sitting in the “Quiet Zone” of each carriage offers no escape since these zones are open to the blaring of the televisions. The signal cannot be shut off. You can close your eyes but you must hear.

Currently the choice (by the train company) of aggravating infotainment is Sky News. Sky News is the sort of station that is unable to think beyond having jingles that have fake Morse code as a theme. That idea was old by the sixties and was done much better back then. Furthermore, Sky News is the sort of station that literally has ONE news story, and today that story is “IT IS SNOWING”.

Here’s what a loop of “news” about the sky sounds like.

It’s snowing.
The weather forecast shows snow.
Here’s a map of the UK, showing where snow will fall.
It’s snowing.
And now a special report from someone by a roadside.
Drivers have been warned not to drive unless they have to. But some people need to travel by car to get to where they want to go (NB: this is very nearly a verbatim quote).
It’s snowing. Back to the studio.
It’s snowing.
Here’s a map of the UK showing snow. The forecast is for snow.
This is the worst snow for 5 years. (They don’t remark on the freakishly mild winters).
It’s snowing. Here’s a special report from London.
Here in London it has been snowing. Drivers are having to drive slowly.
Concern is mounting for Britain’s already ailing economy as shops close early (again, this is pretty much a verbatim quote).
It is snowing. But it is not all bad. This small boy is enjoying playing in the snow.
Back to the studio.
It’s snowing. Here’s a map showing snowfall in the UK. Snow is expected.
And now a comment from An Expert with an excited “I’m on TV” smile. She explains that this has been the heaviest snow fall in “many years” (see elsewhere the report of “5” for “many”).
Back to the studio.
There is no escape.

Yes it’s snowing. But you might prefer walking to catching a train.