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30 October 2006

Messing about with Clocks

Well, once again we have performed the twice-yearly ritual of changing the clocks. What a waste of time and a misuse of time! Supposedly there was once some logical reasoning behind this regular disruption to our sleep patterns and the imposition of a seemingly never-ending round of clock adjustments on each occasion. In our own case, what with watches, clocks, ovens, boilers, cars, automatic timers etc., we have to carry out sixteen separated clock adjustments.

It's not as if we actually get any more daylight out of the exercise - it's just shunted from one end of the day to the other. The winter months are made more dangerous on the roads because although we now have lighter mornings, we have darker evenings, and by the time we are well into winter children are coming out of school in the dark, and people are driving home from work, tired and in the dark.

I believe there used to be some benefit to farmers, but today with modern agricultural machinery and buildings it's not uncommon to find farmers ploughing fields in the middle of the night under the glare of powerful headlights.

To get more hours of daylight we would have to slow down the earth's rotation, but I don't think anyone knows where the brake pedal is.

18 October 2006

Wearing of the Full Veil

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has added to the current debate over Muslim women wearing the full veil by supporting Burnley MP Jack Straw's assertion that they cause difficulties with communication and are a visible statement of being separate from mainstream British society.

My own view is that European society has bent over backwards in recent years to avoid "offending" Muslim society, in some cases to ridiculous excesses of "political correctness", e.g., some local authorities avoiding the use of the word "Christmas", and British Airways suspending an employeer for wearing a visible cross (even though items such as head scarves and turbans are permitted). It is about time, perhaps, that the Muslim community returned the compliment and started thinking about whether or not the rest of us are sometimes offended or made to feel uncomfortable, and I do place the wearing of the full veil in that category.

There are also security implications. We are not allowed to walk into a bank wearing a motor cycle crash helmet because we would be unidentifiable. The full veil is an equally good disguise for anyone bent on committing serious crime.

15 October 2006

Large Airline - Tiny Brains

I think I am in the company of a very large number of people who are incandescent with rage at British Airways for suspending a member of their check-in staff because she insisted on wearing a small cross. The official line is that it's OK to wear the cross so long as it's hidden beneath the uniform. How petty is that? Apparently other religious apparel such as turbans, veils and head scarves are OK because there is no practical way of concealing them.

I have e-mailed British Airways to tell them I am amazed that such a large airline can be run by such tiny brains, and also that I shall make a special point of never flying with them until or unless they inject themselves with a dose of common sense.

13 October 2006

My Brain Hurts!

I recently enrolled in a course of adult education classes to learn how a computer works, how to dismantle one, assemble one, load and configure any of the Windows operating systems, and troubleshoot faults. At this stage in my life it's important to keep the brain alive.

I now know how to convert decimal numbers into binary numbers, binary numbers into hexadecimal numbers, and vice versa. I can answer the question: will an electrical input into a series of Logic Gates expressed as 1 AND NOT {[0 OR (1 OR 0)] NOR [1 AND NOT (0)]} result in an output of 1 or 0.

I am sure this is stuff that most of us have always wanted to know!

The other evening we were presented with an empty computer case and a pile of small boxes containing brand new mother boards, disk drives, processors, fans, and ribbon cabling so that we could spend a riotous two hours putting the whole lot together and bolting it to the case so that it looked something like the computer we all know and love. One of my fellow classmates actually got his up and running, but I took comfort from the fact that he already had a knowledge of electronics. My own effort looks credible, but has yet to be properly wired up, so its current situation is being in a situation without current.

In Tune with the Chief of the British Army

I do not know General Sir Richard Dunnatt, the new Chief of the British Army, and he does not know me, but I am encouraged to learn that we share the same views on Iraq! Yesterday he said the following ...

"As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time. The military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in. Whatever consent we may have had in the first place, may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance."

He thinks that we are part of the problem and that we should be looking for an exit, and soon.

07 October 2006

Representative Mark Foley

I imagine it is now time for the erstwhile Congressional Representative Mark Foley to turn over a new page in his life.

04 October 2006

Testing the Amish

A terrible evil has been visited upon the Amish people of Nickel Mines, PA. No words adequately describe my feelings towards a man who can walk into a school, take children hostage, then systematically shoot ten little girls. Five have died.

If there is any test of the power of the Amish to practice the philosophy of forgiveness then this is surely the test to end all tests. I cannot imagine how they will cope with this.

Apparently Charles C Roberts had no previous history of mental illness of criminal activity and has been described by his wife as a loving and caring person. It is said that the loss of his newborn baby nearly ten years ago made him feel bitter and angry towards God and life in general. Well, he's not the first person to have lost a child, and you have to be pretty damned twisted to think that because you've lost one it would be a good idea if several others sets of parents should experience the same thing. There has also been mention of some abuse he committed against a family member when he was twelve, though the police have been unable to corroborate this.

In any event it must be the case that here was a man who was unbelievably bitter, mentally disturbed, or evil, or all three and yet managed to conceal these characteristics to those all around him.

I hope and pray that this Amish community can find it within themselves to come through this ordeal with their core beliefs intact.