Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Gurkhas' joy at court victory

"BBC NEWS | UK | Gurkhas' joy at court victory
Cold London rain could not dampen the spirits of retired Gurkhas as they celebrated winning the right to stay in the UK. Dozens of them milled about outside the High Court, sheltering from the September rain in the portico of the ornate Royal Courts of Justice, as a judge inside was ruling on their two-year legal battle. They successfully challenged immigration rules which said that those who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay."

Congratulations guys - well deserved. The ban was absurd pettyness by the Government.

BBC NEWS | UK | Gurkhas' joy at court victory

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Personnel records stolen from MoD

"BBC NEWS | England | Gloucestershire | Personnel records stolen from MoD
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is investigating the theft of computer files with the records of thousands of serving and former RAF staff on. The information was stored on computer hard drives at the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency at the RAF Innsworth site near Gloucester. The theft of the files took place on 17 September, within a high-security area on the base.

A spokesman for the MoD police said: 'We can confirm that an investigation is being conducted by MoD police, with the support of Gloucestershire Police into the apparent theft of three USB portable hard disk drives. In view of the ongoing nature of police inquiries, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.'
"

Portable - when will people learn? Stop storing personal data on portable devices!. For goodness sake - its not rocket science.

BBC NEWS | England | Gloucestershire | Personnel records stolen from MoD

Large discounts by home sellers

"BBC NEWS | Business | Large discounts by home sellers
Home sellers are being forced to accept offers on average 9% below their asking price, said the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics)."

Or put it another way: home sellers are still asking for prices 9% above what their houses are worth in the current market.

BBC NEWS | Business | Large discounts by home sellers

Friday, 26 September 2008

The philosophy of a cyborg - Pt.1

Watching my Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles DVDs this afternoon, it occurred to me that when we write a cyborg character into our science fiction, we often give it a desire to become Human, or "more human". Why is that? Is it supreme arrogance? Do humans consider themselves so close to perfection that something we created would automatically desire to become a reflection of its creator?

In the first Terminator movie, the Arnold Schwarzenegger character wishes to mirror human characteristics in order to better fit in to its environment, to better achieve its aim of wiping out the Connors. So this is an exception.

In Red Dwarf, as soon as it breaks its core programming (with the help of Lister), the robot Kryten frequently expresses a desire to become Human. In one episode, it actually achieves that aim but discovers its not all that it's cracked up to be. He believes he has "betrayed his kind" and wants to change back.

Surely an intelligence would see the flaws of its creator and therefore not wish to mimic them?

UK opposes green aviation target

"BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | UK opposes green aviation target
The UK government is lobbying for aviation to be excluded from an EU target to increase renewable energy. Documents passed to BBC News reveal that Whitehall wants the industry exempted from a general target of 20% renewable energy by 2020."

Here we have New Labour protecting the airline industry again.

"The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) says it is pointless holding aviation to a legally binding target if there is so much uncertainty over biofuels for planes"

Well, they do have a point here - its apparent that in some instances, the production of biofuels has had a decidedly negative impact on the environment. But that's no reason why curbs on emissions from the airline industry as a whole shouldn't be in place.

"A BERR spokesman said the rules demanding a percentage of renewables on new and refurbished homes were too prescriptive. It should be up to member states to decide on their own strategies for homes, so long as they stayed within the overall target, he added."

Given the current Government's desire to concrete over the entire South East of England with houses, I think this just as serious. It completely trashes their "eco town" ideas.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | UK opposes green aviation target

BBC NEWS | Hundreds at mass 'eco-town' demo

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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Kelly attacks Thames airport plan

"BBC NEWS | Politics | Kelly attacks Thames airport plan
London mayor Boris Johnson's idea of building a new airport on the Thames estuary is 'irresponsible', Ruth Kelly has told the Labour conference.

The transport secretary said the idea, aimed at easing congestion at Heathrow, was also 'opportunistic' and would prove 'environmentally disastrous'. Ministers are set to decide on a third runway at Heathrow later this year.
"

Unless the Government drops its plans for Heathrow, I don't see how anyone in their ranks can make comments like "environmentally disastrous".

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Freeserve and ten years of boom and bust

"BBC NEWS | dot.life | A blog about technology from BBC News | Freeserve and ten years of boom and bust
In Bradford today the National Media Museum is holding a little party to celebrate the tenth birthday of an Internet Service Provider. Why is that interesting? Well this particular ISP can lay claim to have brought the web to the mass market in Britain. What's more, in its rapid rise to fame and then back to obscurity, you can read much of the history of boom, bust and technological change in Britain."

Freeserve were my first ISP - via a 28k modem. My first domains were bought from and hosted by them too.

BBC NEWS | dot.life | A blog about technology from BBC News | Freeserve and ten years of boom and bust

Record one-day jump in oil price

"BBC NEWS | Business | Record one-day jump in oil price
The price of oil has jumped by more than $16 to $120.92 a barrel, the biggest one-day gain on record."

So much for petrol prices going down. You just knew, didn't you, that the oil industry wouldn't tolerate any significant reductions.

BBC NEWS | Business | Record one-day jump in oil price

Britcar 24 Silverstone


Got some decent photos at the Britcar 24 weekend at Silverstone. The start of the 24 hour endurance race was marred by a bad accident - hope the drivers are ok.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Recession good news for Lloyds?

"BBC NEWS | Business | Thousands face axe in HBOS merger
Thousands of jobs could be lost in the wake of Lloyds TSB's £12.2bn takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS). While Lloyds dismissed claims that up to 40,000 jobs faced the axe as "ridiculous", it refused to rule out compulsory redundancies. The takeover will lead to cost savings of in excess of £1bn, Lloyds added."

I can't help thinking that this "crisis" is a dream come true for some of these big financial organisations. Normally, such a big merger wouldn't have been permitted given it will reduce high street competition in the banking sector by such a degree - the Monopolies and Mergers Commission would have said no. But the recession has given Lloyds an opportunity to clean up. Just keep an eye on the bonuses that the directors of these companies receive in the coming months...

BBC NEWS | Business | Thousands face axe in HBOS merger

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

AA: Petrol price fall expected

"Petrol price fall expected - AA - News - Virgin Media
Falls in the world price of oil have not been reflected at petrol pumps, the AA has said.

Average UK petrol prices have barely fallen in a month despite oil prices going back down under the 100 dollars a barrel mark, according to the latest AA fuel price report. The AA said it anticipated a drop of 4p a litre for petrol and 6p for diesel in coming weeks.
"

About time too - funny how increases in the price of oil are immediately felt at the pumps, but drops take a good few weeks to filter through...

Petrol price fall expected - AA - News - Virgin Media

Monday, 15 September 2008

Police expand car journey surveillance

"Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project | UK news | The Guardian
The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.

A national network of roadside cameras will be able to "read" 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.
"

Big brother really is watching us. Does any other country on the planet - even the paranoid US of A - watch its citizens to the extent our Government does?

Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project | UK news | The Guardian

Why hasn't petrol dropped back to £1/litre?

"BBC NEWS | Business | What is driving oil prices so high?
Oil prices have hit a record high at $100 a barrel.

The biggest catalyst for oil's seemingly remorseless rise has been the simplest economic driver there is: the balance between demand and supply. Demand is at an all-time high, fuelled by the continued breakneck economic expansion of the Indian and Chinese economies.
"

When this story first appeared on 2nd January this year, petrol prices were approaching £1 a litre.

Now that oil has again dipped to around the $100/barrel price, how come the price of petrol hasn't dropped back to that level? Its currently around £1.12/litre.

BBC NEWS | Business | What is driving oil prices so high? - 2 Jan 2008

BBC NEWS | Business | Volatile oil prices slide again - 11 Sept 2008

Sunday, 14 September 2008

NMCC Motocross, Crick

MotocrossThe Northampton motorcycle club finally managed to host a race, this time at Crick near J18 of the M1. This summer's weather has been so poor, at least one event had to be cancelled - this time, it was ideal.


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Friday, 12 September 2008

No university meddling

"BBC NEWS | Education | No university meddling - minister
Universities Secretary John Denham insists the Westminster government is not going to "start meddling" in the way universities choose students."

That makes a change for this government - they've done nothing but meddle with school education.

BBC NEWS | Education | No university meddling - minister

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Mark Thomas Arms Talk

Mark Thomas Arms Talk
Mark Thomas Arms Talk,
originally uploaded by hockeyshooter.
Mark Thomas visited the OU today to give a talk on his feelings on British higher education receiving funding from the arms trade. A replay of the event will shortly appear.