08 May 2012

Some People Have Pure Custard Between Their Ears

When it comes to climate change, I consider myself to be pretty agnostic.  I personally believe that there is insufficient data to draw an accurate conclusion as to whether mankind is actually destroying the environment or that we are possibly in an unknown period following the last ice age (20,000 or so years ago), or indeed a myriad of other reasons.

Despite this, I think neither side has acquitted themselves well.  There has been Climategate (although subsequent reviews have since found that although the methodology was flawed, the findings were correct - eh?) and the ignoring of data that did not support the climate change theories, but all of this pales to insignificance with the latest actions from the skeptics.   Heartland (an organisation in the US that I refuse to link to) ran advertising campaign in Chicago that beggared belief.  Rather than apologise for this disgrace, they claimed it a success. The global campaign group, Avaaz are now running a campaign to encourage their corporate sponsors to abandon them - hopefully this will be successful.

03 May 2012

Do Androids Dream of Electronic Donuts?

Over the last few days, something has been puzzling me: a lot of science fictions movies have "replicants" - robots that are considered a facsimile replica of a human being, complete with skin, hair etc.  Examples of these appear in Alien and Aliens (I stopped watching the trilogy after that monstrosity) and Bladerunner. Within these movies, they are sometimes shown eating a meal with their human counterparts - this presumes that they obtain their energy from food as we do.

Anyway, the question I have is: do androids suffer from obesity?  Obviously, if we assume that the android knows the limits of its requirements, it is reasonable to expect that it will stop consuming when it no longer needs to. But what if there is a bug in the software?  It is possible that it could continue to "eat" and there would be an excess of energy that it is unable to process.  Then there is the example of Rachel in Bladerunner - she was an android that believed she was human. Therefore, would she gain the same pleasures from (for example) eating chocolate?  And if so, if she ate to excess how would her weight gain be shown? (Not that we want a fat Sean Young).

Then there is the issue of alcohol & drugs.  The replicant in Alien knew that he was one, but had to fool the human crew members.  How would he emulate their effects?  And again, go back to Rachel - she would have had to been able experience all the effects. Does this mean her designer had to be an alcoholic druggie in order to fully describe the effects?

These are questions that movies have not addressed....

01 May 2012

My Thoughts on the New England Manager

Today the English FA have formally spat in the face of "popular" opinion and appointed (Uncle) Roy Hodgson as the new England manager, following the ignominious resignation of Fabio Capello (despite having the best win ratio since 1966).  In what can be considered a ballsy move, the media darling that is Harry Redknapp was not even interviewed for the role so naturally the knives are already out.

The televised press conference probably had around 20 questions asked of Hodgson and Bernstein (the FA chairman) of which no more than 2 or so were actually related to the matter of football.  The remainder of the questions were along the lines of questioning selection process, who else was considered, etc.  It was almost disappointing that not a single journalist had the courage to ask what they were really thinking "why didn't you appoint Harry Redknapp?"

Despite the Hodgson's struggles at Liverpool, I do think that he will prove to be an effective England manager - he already has international management experience, having got Switzerland to the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup (and 3rd in the FIFA rankings). As long as the press and the England fans can get behind the team, that is.  He will also be reliant on the England players following his instructions, but I am sure that there won't be any attempt to make them play unfamiliar formations or putting in inexperienced keepers in critical games.

As can possibly be appreciated, I am slightly more supportive of Hodgson than the last English manager that lead England to a lack of glory.  I may even renew my membership to England fans+ - although I may wait until after the Euros.  Although, naturally we are now destined to win it!

14 July 2009

Budget Airlines - They're Just Not Worth It

In these challenging times, many cost-conscious travellers often think they can save a few pounds by travelling with one of the many budget carriers such as Ryan Air or EasyJet. If you want to enjoy your trip, then I implore you not to. A regular airline such as British Airways may be slightly more expensive when booking, but often by the time hidden costs are added, the savings are not that substantial. In addition the minimal costs savings, the whole "user experience" tends to be somewhat better with a regular airline.

A typical flight on a budget airline starts of all well enough, but with no allocated seating you could end up arguing with a chav from Essex because he doesn't want to be separated from any of the 17 illegitimate kids that he is taking with him to his annual pilgrimage to Majorca. Inflight services are non-existent unless you are ready to open your wallet, where you find the foot options are of the quality you would expect while shopping with a severe hangover. Roughly about halfway through the flight, you will be offered a chance to buy a lottery ticket. Has anyone actually ever actually won anything? What is the maximum prize? Naturally, this key information is witheld from you as they try to find yet more ways to part you from your wallet. I am suprised they haven't installed coin slots alongside the reading that you have feed while you read anything to distract you from the 3 hours of tedium.

When it gets to landing at your destination, you are lucky if the plane parks up in the same airport that it landed at. In an attempt to keep their costs down, these budget airlines will pay for the remote spots that are normally reserved for keeping hijacked planes away from the airport buildings. On a recent flight into Gatwick, the shuttle bus had to take us so far, I was convinced that then plane had parked up in a field in deepest West Sussex.

Finally, when you do actually to get to the airport and passport control, there are normally about 12 plane loads of budget travellers trying to get past the 2-man team of immigration controllers. Bedlam is assured while you hope that your baggage was loaded on to the plane that you were on, and the handlers did not decide to test the off-road capabilities of their baggage trucks on it.

So, use BA, Singapore or whomever (except Air France) for all your flying needs!

06 June 2008

Big Brother...

No not, Channel 4's attempt to turn the nation in to one populated by knuckle-draggers.

I noticed this article today, and I am of two minds. While copyright theft is a concern, especially for newly emerging "talents", I am against the wholesale admonishment of people that do download music and or movies. For example, if someone wanted to buy a movie and discovered that the DVD had been deleted and was no longer available, I believe that they should be able to download it. Of course, that is not to say that BPI, etc would necessarily agree with that theory, so if they want to prevent illegal downloading, they need to extend consumer choice by providing catalogues of older material and charging people to download them. Everyone would be a winner...

Of course, there is also the issue of DRM and what not but that's not likely to be fixed anytime soon.