Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

St. Paul's from the South Bank

In 1977:-
In 2009:-
The obvious change is the Millenium footbridge. This is obscuring the tall building towards the left side of the picture which, from the details that can be made out, appears to be unchanged.  The new terrcotta-coloured building on the riverside is now obscuring the College of Arms and the Welsh Church of St. Benet's in Queen Victoria Street.  The building to the right on the riverfront appears to have been rebuilt but with some architectural references to the original. St.Paul's itself, gleaming white, is clearly showing the effects of the cleaning that has been carried out since the 1977 shot.

Regrettably the NatWest Tower and another tower block to the right of  St.Paul's dome are now degrading the skyline.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Lego felt-tip printer

There are some clever buggers out there . . .

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Tombola tale

I was at a village fete today helping on a tombola stall in aid of a local charity. In pride of place was a large cuddly toy, a pink & white fluffy dog with  number 176 on it. This caught the eye of a small girl who asked how much it was. I explained it was a prize which she could try for by purchasing a 50p ticket. She rushed off and came back a minute later with a a 50p coin. I took the coin and proffered the bucket of folded-up ticket stubs. She plunged her hand in without hesitation and drew out - 176. She accepted her prize quite calmly. Of course she was going to win it.

I hope this hasn't given her the wrong idea about life  . . . .

Monday, 14 June 2010

Electric lighting causes cancer

"The advent of electric lighting at night is one of the major reasons why the cancer rate has increased substantially during the last 100 years. The reason for this -melatonin. This hormone, which puts us to sleep, is a powerful anti-oxidant and cancer preventive agent. Results of in vitro and in vivo studies, suggest that melatonin helps the immune system to eliminate neoplastic cells, before cancer develops.
What to do about this? Sleeping in complete darkness is very important, of course. If your bedroom is not dark, wearing a sleeping mask keeps your melatonin levels high throughout the night. Interrupting the darkness, however, for example by turning on a bathroom light, even for a few minutes, can turn off your melatonin for an hour or more! That's why for many people it's hard to go back to sleep after getting up to go to the bathroom."

From: Sentient Cosmos

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Friday, 16 April 2010

Lamp Longevity

This Philips SL*18D, an early, energy-saving fluorescent, (18W) has just given up the ghost. It was bought in 1985. I estimate that over the ensuing 25 years its use has saved, very roughly but of the right order, 700 kilowatt-hours. Taking the average energy price over the 25 years to have been 5p per kWh that means the cost saving has been about £35.

The lamp itself would have been fairly expensive in those days, probably about £10 but I suspect this has been more than offset by the number of incandescent lamps I would have had to buy over the same period..

It is very heavy weighing in at 550 grams and been in a suspended lamp-holder all its life: but the flex and anchoring seemed to stand the strain.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Wind Power - the killer argument

Wind turbines pay back the carbon cost of their manufacture in about 6 months and last for 20 years or more. After that first 6 months every kilowatt they generate is carbon-free and nuclear waste-free and a gain for our grand-children.

That is not to say that it is not preferable to site them out at sea rather than in areas of outstanding natural beauty; but one also should not be misled by nimbys with their arguments about lack of efficiency, and the fickleness of the wind. These are not relevant to the matter in hand, the saving of the planet.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


I know someone who once met someone who had once shaken hands with Hitler.

Just thought I'd mention it. . . .

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Last Lines 7

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

From 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer."

From the first paragraph of the poem by Dylan Thomas. Surely a poetic expression of a basic unalienable truth, the common ancestry of all life. When I feel the need to indulge the spiritual side of my nature I turn to works such as this. Of course much of the King James's version of the Bible is superbly poetic and can be enjoyed as such but where is truth to be found in its preposterous subject matter?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Last Lines 6

"As she went on her way, gossamer threads, spun from bush to bush, barricaded her pathway, and as she broke through one after another of these fairy barricades she thought, 'They're trying to bind me and keep me'. But the threads which were to bind her to her native country were more enduring than gossamer. They were spun of love and kinship and cherished memories."

From 'Candleford Green' by Flora Thompson

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Domestic Waste Recycling

I have always have had worries about the viability of domestic waste recycling. Take, for a simple example, plastic bottles. These occupy large amounts of space, even when partially crushed but are low in  weight of recoverable plastic. To collect them necessitates a heavy vehicle frequently stopping & starting along miles of residential roads;  then, when full, transport to a depot and from there to a recycling plant for recovery of usable plastic. Is the carbon saved at the point that reclaimed plastic granules issue forth into a delivery lorry more than that expended by all the handling and transport involved?

Will the cost of this recovered plastic to the bottle-makers be less than that of new material; or are taxpayers subsidising recycling as a matter of Government policy in order to keep the raw materials in the ground and waste out of land-fill?

Presumably someone has done the sums.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Louis Comfort Tiffany

In the UK Tiffany windows can be seen in situ in Kimbolton Church, Cambridgeshire, and New College Chapel, London.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Last Lines 5

"One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

From Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Also inscribed on a cross on Observation Hill, Antarctica, in memory of Scott & his party

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Test your Risk Intelligence

Risk Intelligence Quotient (RQ) is a measure of a person’s ability to estimate probabilities accurately. People with high risk intelligence tend to make better predictions than those with low RQ.

High risk intelligence is quite rare. Fifty years of research in the psychology of judgement and decision making shows that most people are not very good at thinking clearly about risky choices. If risk intelligence was more common, the world wouldn't be mired in financial crisis, since this was largely caused by unwise lending and borrowing - both of which involve risk intelligence. Too many lenders and borrowers overestimated the chances that loans would be repaid.

The 5 minute test here will measure your will your RQ.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Rien à dire

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Etiquette advice sought. . .

If a friend (not very close) invites you, among others, to their home for a meal and then serves unmistakably under-cooked chicken, what procedure should one follow?