Did you ever tread on a British power plug?

April 29, 2009

It seems the founders of Ridings have done so. So they have invented a folding-pin plug, which goes flat into something without huge spikes to puncture your feet and is called Slimplug.

The official blurb is short and sweet:

Slimplug by Ridings Ltd is a power lead with a revolutionary folding pin plug. Designed for the laptop user, Slimplug is a space saving device which will fit a number of electrical items that use a figure of eight connector. This makes it suitable for most laptops and camcorders, as well as PS2, Xbox and all sorts of other devices.

The limitation is that “figure-of-eight” connector. Many laptops these days use three-wire mains cables (a design which enables better electrical safety) and you can’t connect the Slimplug to them.

Price: dependent on supplier.


Sanity check on “mobile data”

April 29, 2009

Strange arithmetic by Apple: it is claiming a billion downloads of iPhone applications. This has tickled people who can actually count, because what Apple has actually announced is “downloads of a billion apps” which may just not be quite the same thing!

The Digital Evangelist commented wryly:

I am not an iPhone user but I am someone with a Touch. I have 20 applications that I use on my iPod and have removed 6 that didn’t work. The average for each of my applications is 4 updates since I have installed them. Does Apple count these as 26 Apps or 90 something?

He has a point. Much too much is being written by uncritical commentators about the glory and wonder of mobile data. And many such commentators aren’t asking obvious questions. As the Evangelist says,

“…the next time that someone tells me that Mobile Data is mainstream can they at first demonstrate that what they are doing is possible on a handset that is not Smart?

The next few months will be interesting in that the economic downturn means that the old subsidy model is over and so will smartphone numbers grow if the consumer has to pay up front for the handset? Without a Smartphone what of the market for Apps?

When I can get Opera on my Touch I will consider that Apple is Open and Mobile Data is more than niche,”

he concludes.

Helping improve bowel cancer treatment…

March 13, 2009

“Not enough progress,” says Professor Hochhauser, referring to  “digestive cancer” – the story of his research. Well a bit of the story!

The story popped up back in 2008, when the
Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue Web Site | Home was looking for a charity to endow, and chose the University College cancer institute. The head of the drive, Brian Sass, wrote:

“We are supporting the research of a group of scientists and clinicians led by Prof Daniel Hochhauser. The area of research is digestive cancer which includes the throat, gullet, stomach and bowel. Advances in these areas have not been as great as with other cancers where much headway has been made and survival rates hugely improved.

“I learned of Daniel Hochhauser’s work when seeking every possible avenue to find a cure for Veronica. She saw him and he conferred with her specialist in Northwood and the treatment was agreed. Sadly the treatment was not successful.

“Prof Hochhauser invited me to see him at the Cancer Institute and explained the work that he and his group are doing to find methods of treating and curing this particularly aggressive type of cancer. There is a new class of drug that stops the division of cells and this, combined with the chemicals used in chemotherapy, will stop the spread of the disease and make that which is already there dormant.

“They have all the ingredients to do this but do not know in what order these drugs should be given and how the quantity ratios of drugs and chemicals should be administered. Professor Hochhauser said and I quote, ‘with this knowledge we hope to devise better ways of combining these treatments to eradicate the cancer cells’.

“The project will be undertaken in the UCL Cancer Institute which is the foremost centre of its kind in Europe and is located in a purpose built, state of the art building opened in 2007. 340 scientists work there and in addition, doctors treating cancer patients, work closely with them. They have particular expertise in all the areas needed for the success of the project. Clinical trials will be designed.

“To push the project forward needs time and money. The incredibly dedicated teams that I saw there give their time and expertise for nothing. Furthermore all overheads are paid by the University, and so the whole of our donation will be used for the research.

“NPLS are well known there because we supported the Haematology Department and bought a machine that enhanced the speed of one part of their research by eight times. That machine bears a plate stating that it was donated by NPLS in blessed memory of Frances Sacker.

“It is said that this year 300,000 people in this country will contract cancer in one form or another. It is important for research to be carried out speedily in our days and we are able to significantly help with our donation.

“You will receive a letter from me in the course of the next few days with a brief synopsis of this appeal. You will also be able to read the appeal in full on the NPLS website.

“Please give as generously as you can so that we can increase the number of donations from last year’s 260 out of a possible 740. All donations of any size will be most welcome.”

I wish you all a good year.

Ghastly demons, fecal demons…

March 1, 2009

There are two cartoons about shit demons which aren’t indexed by Google Images.

They are in the worst possible taste, and also hilariously funny. Do not show Ghastly’s Ghastly Comic – Tentacle Monsters And The Women Who Love Them to anybody squeamish, or sexually up tight.

The author’s only comment to this one:

God I wish I could say this comic wasn’t based on real life events.

That’s the first one.

The second is the sequel: where we find something really shameful about Glemph’s sex life. Apparently, Ghastly isn’t drawing this from his own experiences; all he has to say here is:

One of the things I love about drawing this comic is trying to get as much facial expression out of Nort and Glemph as I can which is pretty damned tricky considering that technically they don’t have “faces”.

I really like the panel where Nort’s wee mind goes “ping!”.

No, the spoon is not the only item that can be “runcible”…

November 29, 2008

For this, I am obliged to the Edward Lear home page. I shall let Mr Lear take over from here:

“How pleasant to know Mr.Lear!”
      Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
      But a few think him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious,
      His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
      His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
      Leastways if you reckon two thumbs;
Long ago he was one of the singers,
      But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlour,
      With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
      But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, lay men and clerical,
      Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
      He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in waterproof white,
      The children run after him so!
Calling out, “He’s gone out in his night-
      Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!”

He weeps by the side of the ocean,
      He weeps on the top of the hill;
He purchases pancakes and lotion,
      And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish,
      He cannot abide ginger beer:
Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
      How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

The mystery of ScribeFire… continued!

November 29, 2008

I have a blog to post, so these days, rather than go straight into WordPress Editor, I open up ScribeFire. It’s got a lot of features which WordPress itself needs, but lacks.

I haven’t actually used ScribeFire on this machine for ages. So I was prepared to find that I’d been doing some work, and hadn’t got around to posting it. In fact, what I found – shown below – utterly baffles me.

But I’m sure The Fates wanted me to blog it, whatever it was! Hopefully, the Reader (you!) will let me know what on earth I could have been doing…

Try these collections:  



Pirates of the Burning Sea

Alexander McQueen

The Hills

The Bachelorette

University of Pennsylvania

The Chronicles of Narnia

Tour de France

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


Kelly Osbourne

Ryan Phillippe

Tara Reid

Keith Urban

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Valentine’s day for Halloween

October 25, 2008

Valentine Warner has this thing about “food in season” and does a TV series called “What to eat NOW” – and in October, one of the foods in season is, of course, the pumpkin – so here’s his recipe for –

pumpkin soup.

Serves 8-10

Preparation time 30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time 1 to 2 hours

1 x 4kg/8lb 13oz pumpkin
125g/4oz butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.7 litres/3 pints chicken stock (vegetarians may substitute vegetable stock)
3 tablespoons sherry

1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle and discard.
2. Using a sharp knife and a spoon, carefully hollow out the pumpkin, removing the flesh and setting aside. (It is imperative that you do not cut right up to the inside of the skin or pierce it. Leave 2cm/1in of flesh all around the inside.)
3. Roughly chop the scooped-out pumpkin flesh.
4. Melt the butter in a large pan with a lid over a low heat and add the onions. Cook the onions gently for about 15 minutes, until they are softened and golden-brown.
5. Add the pumpkin flesh, the cinnamon and nutmeg, and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cover with the lid. Cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the base from burning, until the pumpkin is cooked through.
6. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the soup to a food processor in batches and blend until smooth.
7. Return the soup to the pan and bring to a low simmer and cook for a further half an hour.
8. Forty-five minutes before eating, preheat the oven to 170C/335F/Gas 3.
9. Pour the soup into the hollow pumpkin shell, add the sherry and stir to combine.
10. Place the reserved pumpkin ‘lid’ onto the pumpkin and place onto a large baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, to bring the soup up to temperature.
11. To serve, carefully remove from the oven and serve the soup in the pumpkin at the table. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Agatston on “insulin resistance” and his discoveries.

October 19, 2008
South Beach Diet - Supercharged - buy from Amazon

South Beach Diet - Supercharged - buy from Amazon

This is an extract from “The South Beach Diet” by Arthur Agatston, MD

I asked the most respected cardiologist I knew this question: ‘What is the best way to prevent heart disease?’ His answer: ‘Pick the right parents.’ If you inherited the gene for cardiac longevity, you were likely to live to a ripe old age. If heart disease struck early in your family, there was not much you could do to change your destiny.

Then, in 1984, I attended a course at the Heart House in Bethesda, Maryland, the national headquarters of the American College of Cardiology. There, I heard a lecture by a brilliant researcher and charismatic teacher, Bill Castelli, who headed the world-famous Framingham Heart Study. Dr Castelli told us about the results of the recently completed National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored Lipid Research Clinics Primary Prevention Trial (LRCPPT). This was the very first study to prove that lowering cholesterol via diet could reduce heart attacks. At the time, the only known treatment for high cholesterol was an unpleasant, grainy powder known as a resin, which was taken several times a day before meals. Therefore, we were all very excited when Dr Castelli told the conference that if we put patients on the very first American Heart Association diet, we could lower their cholesterol and end the scourge of heart disease in America.

We physicians all returned home filled with fervour, ready to guide our patients to restored cardiac health and dietary wisdom. I came back to Miami confident in my newfound knowledge of how to save my patients’ lives. My wife and I even joked that with heart disease out of the picture, I might be better off switching to a growth speciality, like plastic surgery. It wasn’t long before I learned that unemployment as a cardiologist was going to be unlikely.

I began counselling my patients on the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet advocated by the American Heart Association, but the results fell far below my expectations. Often, there was an initial modest improvement in total cholesterol with mild weight loss. This invariably was followed by a return of cholesterol to its previous level or higher, along with a return of the lost weight. This scenario was not only my experience but also that of my colleagues. It was reflected in the many diet-cholesterol trials documented in the literature that showed our inability to sustain cholesterol and/or weight reductions using low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. There were no convincing studies showing that the American Heart Association diet saved lives.

Over the years I had suggested most of the highly respected diets out there — going back to Pritikin (see chapter three) and then through the various, more recent, heart-healthy low-fat regimes, including the Ornish plan and several American Heart Association diets – and seen each of them, for different reasons, fail miserably. Either the diets were too difficult to stick with, or the promise of improved blood chemistry and cardiac health remained just that – a promise. Discouraged, I had all but given up on advising my patients about nutrition, because I was unable to suggest anything that actually helped. Like most cardiologists in that period, I turned instead to the statin drugs that were just coming on the market, medications that had proved extremely effective in lowering total cholesterol, if not weight.

But I also decided, as a last-ditch effort, that I would devote some serious study of my own to diet and obesity. Like most physicians, I was not particularly knowledgeable in the science of nutrition. So my first task was to research all the weight-loss programmes out there, the serious scientific ones as well as the trendy attempts that topped the best-seller lists. As I acquired that education, I was also reading in the cardiology literature about the prevalence of something called the insulin resistance syndrome and its effect on obesity and heart health.

The science of success

One side effect of excess weight, we now know, is an impairment of the hormone insulin’s ability to do its job of processing fuel, or fats and sugars, properly. This condition is commonly called insulin resistance. As a result, the body stores more fat than it should, especially in the mid-section. We’ve been genetically conditioned to store fat since the dawn of homo sapiens, as a survival strategy to see us through times of famine.

The problem now, of course, is that we never experience the famine end of that equation, only the feast. As a result, we store fat but never require our bodies to burn it off. Much of our excess weight comes from the carbohydrates we eat, especially the highly processed ones found in baked goods, breads, snacks, and other convenient favourites. Modern industrial processing removes the fibre from these foods, and once that’s gone their very nature – and how we metabolize them – changes significantly, and for the worse.

Decrease the consumption of those ‘bad’ carbs, studies showed, and the insulin resistance starts clearing up on its
own. Weight begins a fairly rapid decrease, and you begin metabolizing carbs properly. Even the craving for carbs disappears once you cut down on their consumption. Finally, cutting out processed carbs improves blood chemistry, ultimately resulting in lowered triglycerides and cholesterol.

So my eating plan’s first principle was to permit good carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grain) and curtail the intake of bad carbohydrates (the highly processed ones, for the most part, where all the fibre had been stripped away during manufacturing). We would thereby eliminate a prime cause of obesity. This was in marked contrast to the Atkins Diet, for instance, which bans virtually all carbohydrates and leaves the dieter to exist mostly on proteins. That regime also permits limitless saturated fats, the kind found in red meat and butter These are, as most people know, the bad fats — the ones that can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. That hasn’t stopped millions of dieters from adopting the plan. But from the moment I learned of it, the diet set off alarm bells in this cardiologist’s head. Even if you do lose weight and keep it off, your blood chemistry is bound to suffer from eating so much saturated fat.

My plan cut certain carbohydrates, but not all. In fact, it encouraged eating the good ones. For instance, I banished white flour and white sugar. But our diet permits wholegrain breads and cereals and wholemeal pasta. We also prescribe lots of vegetables and fruit. I had a practical reason, beyond their obvious nutritional value and the beneficial fibre they provide, for that decision. Not everyone wants to give up vegetables, fruit, bread, and pasta for ever even in exchange for a regime that allows a pound of bacon for breakfast, followed by a pound of hamburger (with no bun, of course) for lunch, topped by a thick steak for dinner And if people want bread, pasta, or rice, a humane eating plan should be able to accommodate that desire.

To make up for the overall cut in carbohydrates, my diet permitted ample fats and animal proteins.This decision flew in the face of the famous diets that had been developed specifically for people with heart problems, like Pritikin and Ornish. For a cardiologist, this was skating on thin ice. But my experience with patients showed that those so-called heart-healthy diets were nearly impossible to stick to, because they relied too heavily on the dieters’ ability to eat superlow fat over the long haul. The South Beach diet would permit lean beef, pork, veal, and lamb.

The low-fat regime’s severe restrictions on meat were unnecessary – the latest studies had showed that lean meat did not have a harmful effect on blood chemistry. Even egg yolks are good for you – they’re a source of natural vitamin E and have a neutral-to-favourable effect on our balance between good and bad cholesterol, contrary to what we once believed. Chicken, turkey, and fish (especially the oily ones such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) were recommended on my diet, along with nuts and low-fat cheeses and yogurt. As a rule, low-fat prepared foods can be a bad idea -the fats are replaced with carbs, which are themselves fattening. But dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt that are low fat are exceptions to this rule — they are nutritious and not fattening.

I also allowed plenty of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like the Mediterranean ones: olive oil, rapeseed oil, and peanut oil. These are the good fats. They can actually reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. In addition to being beneficial, they taste good and make food palatable. They’re filling, too – a major consideration for a diet that promises you won’t have to go hungry.

Next, I found a suitable guinea pig for preliminary testing purposes, a middle-aged man who was having trouble keeping his growing paunch under control: me.

I went on the diet. I gave up bread, pasta, rice, potatoes. No beer. No fruit even, at least in the very beginning, because it contains high levels of fructose, or fruit sugar But otherwise I was determined to eat as normally as possible, meaning three meals a day plus snacks when I was hungry.

After just a week, I noticed a difference. I lost almost 8 pounds in those first seven days, and it was easy. I didn’t suffer any hunger pangs. No terrible cravings. No noticeable deprivation.

Almost sheepishly, I approached Marie Almon, MSRD, chief clinical dietitian at our hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, and told her of my experiment. She conceded that the low-fat diet we had been recommending to cardiac patients wasn’t working. So we took the basic principles I had developed and expanded them into an agreeable eating plan…

Feminine treasures? Wossat, then?

October 18, 2008

I have to ask what sort of person would apply for the job of copywriter for MetMag…

The images are, as you might say, formulaic …not quite EVERY picture shows a young woman, naked, with her legs wide apart… no, indeed. Quite a few have the same young woman on all fours, arse to camera, and arse high in the air.

About the only concession I can see that they make to “good taste” is to photograph their models in a state of non-arousal. Nothing “moist” about these shots, thank you very much!

Otherwise, the phrase “explicit pose” is really all you could say about them – but the metmag writer has to make it sound beautiful, feminine, erotic:

“Four Princesses of Pretty at Met-Art”

says this week’s headline. They change the content every week, but you can see this week’s metmag here: – http://www.met-art.com/metmag/ and one model, Natasha, is posed in “ballet gear” on a ladder. And the writer lets rip:
Yes, you can see the cunt

Natasha has never looked prettier than she does in the first feature image, which pictures her graceful head and décolleté, framed by mist. Up close, Natasha’s complexion is creamy perfection, while her lovely green eyes sparkle beneath the studio lights. Her hair tied back simply, Natasha is pared down elegance and intrigue. From below her extended arms, her soft bosom is dappled in droplets and her nipples pert.

The second feature image [right] highlights Natasha’s natural creativity as a model. Using the ladder as a prop, she balances on tiptoe. This photo generously showcases Natasha’s slender and shapely legs, as well as her perfect rear, as she is bathed in luxurious white light. Bringing her pointed toe to her knee, Natasha swings her hips towards the camera, revealing just a touch of the feminine treasures between her legs. Looking over her shoulder, Natasha throws the camera a sizzling look from her huge green eyes.

Natasha is utterly feminine and wholly seductive in the final feature portrait. Leaning against the metal ladder, this unabashed vixen extends her legs and rolls her hips to reveal every inch of the feminine flesh between her legs. Curling her arm above her head, she dips her chin and looks at the camera. This photo is one of many explicit and aesthetic photos in “Choreography.”

Run that again! “Bringing her pointed toe to her knee, Natasha swings her hips towards the camera, revealing just a touch of the feminine…treasures between her legs.”

Feminine treasures between her legs? Hahahaha! What they mean is: “You can see quite a lot of her cunt.”

Ayckbourn as a service. Just like Citrix…

August 22, 2008

Ed Iacobucci headed IBM’s OS/2 project. Then he set up Citrix. Then he created an airline which is, he says, “software as a service” – but uncopyable software.

And from there, we go to Wendy Grossman’s net.wars column where she’s watching an Alan Ayckbourn play, and trying to get video copies.

She writes in Newswireless:

Talking of “software as a service” – a couple of years ago I did an interview with Ed (“Mr OS/2”)Iacobucci, now CEO and founder of Dayjet, a new kind of airline.Wendy M Grossman

Dayjet has no published timetable; instead, prospective passengers (mostly company CEOs and other business types with little time to spare for driving between ill-served smaller cities in the American south) specify their departure point, their destination, and a window of time for Dayjet to get them there. Dayjet responds with a price based on the number of full seats in the plane. The airline, said Iacobucci, is software expressed as a service. And he was – this is the key point here – constructing an intellectual property business in such a way meant he didn’t have to worry about copying.

Full article explains how this applies to Sir Alan and his policy on copy protection.

Sir Alan AyckbournShe writes:

It’s hard to understand the severity of the official Ayckbourn Web site’s warning about bootleg copies. Given that they know the demand is there, and given the amount those 71 plays are making in royalties and licensing fees, why not buy up the rights to those productions and release them, or begin a project of recording current SJT productions and revivals with a view to commercial release? The SJT shop sells scripts. Why not DVDs?

Asking that risks missing the essential nature of theatre, which, along with storytelling, is probably one of the earliest forms of intellectual property expressed as a service. A film is infinitely copiable; every live performance is different, if only subtly, because audience feedback varies. I still with they’d do it, though.

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