Friday 26 January 2024

Messages in a bottle

This is my last scheduled entry in this blog. These blogs have always been no more than messages thrown into the html ocean. I took to blogging enthusiastically because my letters to the press (mostly about politics, but also on my other interests) were either disregarded or published so late that they had lost all significance. I recognise so much of myself in the wise post by David Tebbutt, whose writing has been so much of my computing life from the first days of Personal Computer World on.

At the same time, I have tried to remain true to the original concept of the blog, by passing on the URIs of other sites which are of interest.

I have avoided repeating what is self-evidently true while adding my voice to those seeking to correct.

That is why I have eschewed pimping myself in such things as Liberal Democrat Blogs, possibly passing up the chance of prizes.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

The paternal paradox

 One does not want to die, but neither does one wish to live to see ones children die.

Monday 25 December 2023

Last Christmas

So Wham!'s catchy song has finally topped the year-end poll. It is of course a song about the break-up of a relationship and not anything more serious, though some have taken it as a portent. More serious is the diagnosis of a terminal medical condition - but this is as assessment, admittedly based on knowledge and  years of experience, but still an assessment, not a death sentence. The human spirit can do surprising things and my Christmas wish to all those in the situation, particularly in my extended family, is to apply Winston Churchill's personal mantra: keep on buggering on.

Sunday 24 December 2023

"It's OK, lads, I'm with the AA"

 Standing on a wet grassy slope behind a crash barrier on the M4 for ninety minutes on the evening of the eighteenth while the rain steadily fell and we were steadily splashed by the usual mix of personal and commercial traffic, I did wonder whether we would have done better if we were bank robbers. (For those who do not get the reference, have a look here.) The soaking I received led indirectly to the indisposition of the last few days and thence this five-day pause in blogging for which I apologise.

Seriously, I understand the difficulties the emergency services were under that night. There must have been loads of emergency calls that night. Indeed we were probably lucky to be attended to when we were -we could have been waiting twice as long according to the emergency operator's first estimate. When Viv of the AA arrived (I don't believe my daughter, who had been driving, caught his surname) he expeditiously applied, under difficult conditions, a temporary support (a "stepney"?) for the blown tire and guided us to a garage where the correct replacement could be provided. 

The whole procedure was efficient  and as fast as could be expected, living up to the AA's claims.  I just wish the TV ad did not imply virtually instantaneous service.

Sunday 17 December 2023

Solar panels on canals

 When I first read the headline, I thought: what a splendid way to combine two green issues, but how would it work? Then it dawned on me: "canal" in America implies irrigation rather than navigation. So turning the Neath and Tennant canals into a cheap energy source was clearly not on. However, the idea is clearly a goer in the appropriate areas, as this article explains. 

It has the beneficial side-effect of reducing water loss due to evaporation from direct sunlight. This was carried to the extreme by the ancient Persian qanat (a useful word for Scrabble-players because it does not need a U). Several of these underground aqueducts are still in use today. 

Less ecological is the Libyan Great Man-made River, a project begun by Gaddafi and completed by 2007. The infrastructure was attacked by NATO in 2011 and has since been prey to campaigns by warlords and neglect, but is still delivering some water. The source of the water, piped to reservoirs in the north of the country is a fossil aquifer which is not being replenished and may be exhausted by the end of the century, though other estimates give lifespans of up to one thousand years. 

Saturday 16 December 2023

Salty tea, anyone?

On this day in 1773 occurred the Boston Tea Party, after which a radical Republican group which is anti-tax among other things, takes its name. 

Sathnam Sanghera and William Dalrymple discussed the matter further in the recent Empire of Tea series on Radio 4.

Friday 15 December 2023

Those rare metals the modern age depends on

 There is an outline of the importance of rare earth elements and the shift in power resulting from China's exploitation of them here. However, what the Bloomberg article fails to mention is that Afghanistan also sits on deposits of rare earths. There must be an opportunity for a nation which is not China (oppressor of the Muslim Uyghurs), Russia (hated occupiers) or America (imposer of corrupt government) to take advantage.