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the modern age - no ability needed, or wanted

‘The artiste speaks’:

“Through elevation onto the plinth and removal from common ground, the body becomes a metaphor, a symbol and allows us to reflect on the diversity, vulnerability and particularity of the individual in contemporary society.

A.N. Other ‘artiste’ speaks:

“For me it's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK.”

And what are they going on about?

“More than 2,400 people will occupy Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth over 100 days as part of a living artwork.”

One hour of ‘fame’ each 24 hours a day.
Don’t just stand there!

Uhhh urrrrhh - perhaps its better you do just stand there.

Yet another inspiring British achievement.

How painful is the society of sheep.

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but, but I don’t want to buy vista,
contributed by a.n. walker

[Genuine conversation. I didn’t buy.]

“I quite like this machine. How much will you knock off if I don’t have Vista?”


“I don’t want Vista, I want to install Linux.”

[Brightens] “Oh, I see sir, yes, we can sell you Linux.”

“No, I already have Linux, I want you to remove Vista so that the computer is cheaper.”

“But we’d have to charge you for removing Vista and adding Linux.”

“ No, I have Linux and can install it myself. I can remove Vista myself too, I just don’t want to pay MS for it."

[Desperately] “But you have to pay for Vista even if you don’t use it, and then you’d need to pay a licence fee for Linux.”

“No, Linux is free, and I don’t want Vista at all.”

“ But the computer won’t work without an operating system.”

“ Yes, that’s why I use Linux.”

“ Sorry sir, I don’t understand, why don’t you want Vista?”

“ Because it’s expensive and I want to use Linux instead.”

“ But Vista is Very Good, and it comes free with the machine, we can’t take any more off, it’s already in the sale.’


the web address for the article above is

the sums on killing germs - hey, someone is trying to sell me dettol

Apparently it kills 99.9% of all germs.
Thus, it kills all but 1 in 1000.

Each bacterium can become 2,000,000 by morning.

So if I start with 2,000,000 germs, Dettol will leave me with 2000 germs.

So, by tomorrow, I’ll have (all things being equal J)
2000 x 2,000,000 = 4,000,000,000 by morning.

And I expect those’ll be the toughest germs in the pack.

This does not look like a done deal to me.

Naturally, some smart ass suggests I may have more than 2,000,000 at the start, but I can’t see that helping with this sort of payoff!!

the web address for the article above is

make two pounds worth of oil a day in your backyard - a snip at only 69,000 euro start-up price

algae growing plant that makes 1.5 to 2.5 litres oil a day. Image:
algae growing plant that makes 1.5 to 2.5 litres oil a day. Image:

Are these people confused, or can they switch fluently between dollars, euro, gallons, litres?

Is the chaos of information offered part of the salesman’s smokescreen?

  • The kit includes “6 meters of transparent synthetic tubes with a diameter of 300 mm Ø with a total volume of 3.5 m³, with a warranty of “0 years on the tubes”.

  • “The unit produce [...] between 1.5 L to 2.5 L oil per day” and “Algae oil is sold (today September, 2007) as high as $ 3.00 per gallon” [1 US gallon = 3.8 litres]

    “Delivery times for the demo photo-bioreactor is 8 weeks. Delivery times for large scale photo-bioreactors are approximately 4 to 6 months.”

    “Payment terms: 60% by ordering; 40% before shipping”

These people must see the marks - sorry, customers - coming right from the other side of the Atlantic [ is based in the Netherlands].

the web address for the article above is

useful fun for those with spare time and some persistence - swarm behaviour

Swarming 'birds' from Swarmwatch. Image:

Download software, including data source files from this page, which also includes short sample videos.

This software was created to scientifical analyse flocking behaviour, but it makes pretty patterns as well:

“Systems composed of a large number of interacting heterogeneous agents often display complex properties that cannot be deduced in a simple way by studying the behaviour of the single agent. This research aims to study three-dimensional complex pattern formation, in order to get a strong insight into features that may be relevant in more complex situations where the components move in a high dimensional configuration space. Animal group movements look very promising in this respect and we will concentrate our attention on the flocking behaviour of starlings, representing perhaps the best widely known example for the above class of behaviours.[...] Our goals are the following:

“a) By getting three-dimensional reconstructions of their movements, we aim to characterize experimentally in a quantitative and qualitative way these movements. [...]

“b) We want to construct new models that give rise to such complex group behaviour. The experimental data should be crucial in inspiring these models and to discriminate possible differences among them.

“c) We intend to interpret the biological meaning and relevance of the formation of thesepatterns.

“d) As far as collective movements are common phenomena also in human behaviour (particular relevant in economics) we would like to explore the possibility of exporting the models and the techniques to economic collective choices. In this way we try to develop ways to investigate the reasons of social events, e.g. fashions, to understand socio-economic herding, and possibly to devise methods to tame dangerous excessive market fluctuations.”

Swarming birds above Rome. Image:

related material
modelling behaviours - the study of apparently complex behaviour, arising from (often very few) simple rules

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peak oil and the one horsepower answer

One-horse-power-mobile. Image via

related material
peak oil


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boomeranging in zero gravity - from xavier

Japanese astronaut, Takao Doi, took two paper boomerangs with him when he was part of the recent Space Shuttle Endeavour trip to the International Space Station.

Yasuhiro Togai, 2006 world boomerang champion, taught Takao Doi how to throw a boomerang and provided the ’rangs.

The question Togai wanted answered was, “Does a boomerang fly in zero gravity?”.

And the answer:

Yes, his boomerang did come back!

related material
space robots - international space station
Cité de l'espace - Space city

Lead from Pink Tentacle.

the web address for the article above is

jobsworths, politicans and rubbish collection

“A father-of-four has been left with a criminal record for overfilling his wheelie bin by four inches.

“Gareth Corkhill, 26, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, received a £110 fixed penalty notice after Copeland Council staff photographed his raised bin lid.

“When he refused to pay he was taken to court where magistrates added a further £115 to the fixed penalty.”

“ "Two days later two enforcement officers turn up on my doorstep wearing stab vests, read my rights and then issued me with an on-the-spot fine.

“ "I recycle and all my boxes are always full.

“Mr Corkhill, who shares a house with his partner and three children and also has a child from a previous relationship, said the authority recently switched from weekly to fortnightly refuse collections, but added that the supplied bins were not big enough to cope.”

[From a Whitehaven jobsworth:] “ "It is important that we all reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

“ "We can do this by recycling more of what is in our bins, and we would advise anyone who has a problem with too much waste to look at what can be recycled." ”

Try and understand jobsworths. The objective is not to provide bin space or rubbish removal, the objective is to maximise income.

That can be achieved in three ways:

  1. halving collection frequency
  2. halving bin size
  3. increasing fines.

No. 2 has the problem of providing for, and therefore paying for, more bins, and the jobsworths have to do twice as much work every two weeks.

No. 3 has the associated problems of reprinting forms, retraining jobsworths and squeezing increasing amounts out of the poor.

Obviously, the most satisfactory and cost effective method is the method chosen by Whitehaven Council.

You require intelligence to be a politician. These are not simple problems.

It is also the duty of politicians to increase employment. Thus, to drive the offender into penury will provide more work for tax inspectors and dole executives to replace the money purloined from ‘the offender’.

With real effort, imprisonment could follow with much benefit to builders, prison officers, probation operatives, rehabilitation services and others.

Finally, remember the common British ‘solution’ for too much rubbish is to drive a few miles and dump the unwanted trash outside someone else’s abode, or in a skip, or on some lonesome embankment.

the web address for the article above is

new uk coin ‘designs’, symbolising the break-up of the UK

The new coins for the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Image: Paul Grover
The new coins for the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Image: Paul Grover

The new, official coinage for the United Kingdom, or Great Britain as it used to be more commonly known, has no image of Britannia, the lady that has symbolised Great Britain for centuries.

Instead, the coins show the royal coat of arms in fragments. One wonders at the (unconscious) messages being given out.

the web address for the article above is

living pictures in rice paddies

“Each year, farmers in the town of Inakadate in Aomori prefecture create works of crop art by growing a little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety.”


Rice paddy pictures of two of Hokusais 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Image:
Rice paddy pictures of two of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Image:

The images remain until they are harvested:

Hokusai's wave and Mount Fuji being harvested. Image:
Hokusai’s wave and Mount Fuji being harvested. Image:


'Inakadate * 2006 in the village 
        of rice paddies * Art and the dragon.*
“Inakadate * 2006 in the village of rice paddies * Art and the dragon. * ” Image:

[Lead from, where further rice art examples are shown on this page.]

related material
the best crop circles of 2007

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