Zen Mischievous Moments #124

From New Scientist, 3 March 2007 …

Viral notices

At the end of last year, we voiced the fear that we are being exploited by viral notices for the purposes of propagating themselves (16 December 2006). Lindsay Brash observes that the notice we mentioned then — “Please do not remove this notice until 23rd July” — “demonstrates the rapid evolution of viruses and the sophisticated tricks they can employ on their hosts. By stating a date, the notice fools humans into thinking it must be legitimate, and they let it be.”

In fact, Brash goes on, it’s even cleverer than that: people “are so gullible that they are not likely to remove it until some time after the stated date. But by then they will forget when they first saw it and, to be safe, leave it until the next 23 July. Fantastic!”

And in James Penketh’s school there is a notice with an even more subtle survival strategy: inducing complete cognitive breakdown. It reads “Take no notice of this notice. By Order.” If he took no notice of this notice, he asks, “would I know to take no notice of it?”

Justin Needham, meanwhile, has found an example of the suicide notice: “Please leave these facilities as you would wish to find them”. Every time he spots one, he writes, “I am tempted (and sometimes succumb) to tear it down. That’s better, just how I wish to find the facilities — with no patronising notices.”

Child fingerprint plan considered

According to a report on BBC News website this evening:

Biometric ID cards will include fingerprints, plus eye or facial scans. Proposals to fingerprint children aged 11 to 15 as part of new passport and ID card plans are being considered.

Under existing plans every passport applicant over 16 will have details – including fingerprints – added to a National Identity register from 2008. But there was concern youngsters could use passports without biometric details up to the age of 20 … This could happen if they are issued a child passport between the ages of 11 and 15, which would be valid for five years.

The challenge that officials have been asked to find an answer to, is how do you make sure that people who are 16 and over have got biometric details recorded in their passports.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the proposal “borders on the sinister” and added it showed the government was trying to end the presumption of innocence. “This government is clearly determined to enforce major changes in the relationship between the citizen and the state in a way never seen before.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said “It is a measure of ministerial arrogance that plans are being laid to fingerprint children as young as 11 without having a public debate first.

Campaigners have long battled fingerprinting of children in schools, a practice they estimate happens in about 3,500 establishments. From this month guidelines from privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner will urge schools to get parental consent before taking biometric data. But under the Data Protection Act schools do not have to seek parental consent, and calls to outlaw the controversial practice have been rejected by the government.

I can choose not to have a passport (for instance) and thus not have my biometric data recorded. A child under 16 cannot by make such a decision as, by law, they are a minor and thus they cannot give their consent. Surely no-one should be fingerprinted, or have any other biometric (including DNA) information taken without their explicit consent.

Yet again this government seems to be ignoring both existing, long-established, English law and our civil liberties on the spurious premise that it will help in the “war against terrorism”. We need to resist this at every turn.

Eclipse of the Moon

Moon, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Here’s a picture of the full moon I took last night about an hour or so before the eclipse started. I was spectacularly unsuccessful with the shots I took of the early phases eclipse, and I didn’t then try the totality as I couldn’t get a good clear view.

However here are a few good shots of the eclipse from various of my contacts:
From fotofacade: www.flickr.com/photos/fotofacade/409230083/
From andyp_uk: www.flickr.com/photos/andypiper/409225738/
From Colin Barnes: www.flickr.com/photos/collicky/409277977/.



Reported to me by an acquaintance a guy on a radio programme yesterday saying that his boss had asked him to:

come down and throw a few things in the ideas wok and stir-fry up some solutions.

I’m just speechless.

Friday Five: Weekends

1. What do you like most: Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays (and why)?
I guess probably Saturday: usually don’t have to get up early, can stay up late, and there’s another weekend day to come.

2. What was the best weekend of your life?
I really don’t know. I should of course say the weekend Noreen and I got married (27 years ago) but as we’d arranged the whole wedding ourselves we were so knackered the whole thing was just a blur.

3. What weekend of the year is your favorite?
Easter is always good ‘cos it’s a 4 day weekend. Bank holiday weekends are good too. Otherwise I really don’t tend to differentiate between weekends.

4. Do you have any weekend routines?
Yes, too many. Noreen and I still treat weekends much as we did when we were students. Switch off on Friday night; have a few beers. Saturday is for shopping and the such like with decent food (whether in or out) on Saturday evening. Sunday is for working; not now doing coursework but for doing housework and similar chores. I tend to use Sundays for fish maintenance, paying bills, doing literary society paperwork, etc.

5. Describe your ideal Saturday night.
Relaxing with good food and wine in a quiet Italian or French bistro with Noreen and possibly a couple of friends.

[Brought to you courtesy of Friday Five.]

Zen Mischievous Moments #123

Marketing Explained
Marketing the buzz word in today’s business world is MARKETING. However, people often ask for a simple explanation of “Marketing.” Well, here it is:

1. You’re a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.”
That’s Direct Marketing.

2. You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and, pointing at you, says, “She’s fantastic in bed.”
That’s Advertising.

3. You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.”
That’s Telemarketing.

4. You see a guy at a party; you straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I?” and reach up to straighten his tie, brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.”
That’s Public Relations.

5. You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.”
That’s Brand Recognition.

6. You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He fancies you, but you talk him into going home with your friend.
That’s a Sales Rep.

7. Your friend can’t satisfy him so he calls you.
That’s Tech Support.

8. You’re on your way to a party when you realise that there could be handsome men in all these houses you’re passing, so you climb onto the roof of one situated towards the centre and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!”
That’s Junk Mail!

Brain Abdication

Oh dear. I saw an item on yesterday’s Breakfast (BBC1 TV) about food labelling which contained the usual snippets of vox pop. One female delivered herself of the opinion

It’s the government’s responsibility that we know exactly what we’re eating.

Spherical things that come in pairs! If she is bright enough to understand the words government and responsibility, how is it she cannot see that what she eats is absolutely zilch to do with the government and everything to do with her. Isn’t it our own responsibility to know what we’re eating? And if we think we don’t like it (for whatever reason: taste, look, hygiene, pesticides etc. etc.) then don’t eat it. Or does this female believe that the government should tell her when to change her socks and knickers?

This is more than just idle non-thinking, this is willful abdication of brain-power and is tantamount to criminal stupidity. It should certainly be classed as using the brain without due care and attention — £200 fine and 3 points on the licence; after 12 points they shoot you. On this showing it would do wonders for world over-population. 🙂

Why is Britain in the state it is, with a government who do whatever they like and no-one much apparently noticing? Because the great British public can’t be assed to think! I somehow doubt you’d catch Joe Public in any of our European neighbours caring so little. But then they do say

  • 5% of people can think and do
  • 5% of people cannot think
  • the other 90% of people can think and don’t

And doesn’t it just show! Is there any hope for us? Or is it my job to turn the light out?

So many books, so little time …

I found this book meme at In the Headlights and as it’s about books I couldn’t resist, being as I am an inveterate book hoarder.

Hardback or paperback: Depends. If I know I want to keep it as reference, or as part of “the collection” then usually hardback. If it is for general reading, bedtime reading, idle interest or for travel reading then paperback. It also depends what’s available, especially as I often buy secondhand books.

Amazon or brick and mortar: Amazon, eBay or Abebooks. Not because I don’t like real bookshops, I love them, and always seek them out when on holiday or visiting somewhere. But there are too new bookstores with too little range of stock of interest to me. And there also aren’t that many secondhand bookshops around. I know they’ve died partly because of Amazon et al. but getting to a bookstore is a major problem given one’s working hours etc.

Barnes and Noble or Border’s: Neither; I’m on the wrong side of the big pond. Book bookstores like Waterstones (or whatever they’re called this week) I find dull and boring. That’s largely because I don’t read much fiction and they just don’t stock a decent range of non-fiction. If I come across something I want I tend to go in for instant gratification and order from Amazon for quick delivery. But I also keep a list of (mostly out of print) books I want and search for these when I get to a secondhand bookshop — or even on eBay.

Bookmark or dog-ear: Always, always bookmark. I hate having books with dog-eared corners — I’m afraid it’s all part of the way I was brought up.

Alphabetize by author, alphabetize by subject, or random: None of those. Books are kept largely by subject, but not well sorted within subject — except the history is largely in chronological order. And there are interesting categories too, like “books by people we know”.

Keep, throw away or sell: Once read, or even if not completely read, books are kept. Books are a treasure trove. This is why we have a house full of books — in fact they’ve taken over. Eventually as they become less mainstream (for us) they get relegated to behind the other books; and every few years we have a purge and dispose of ones we really no longer want: we might give them to friends (if they want them) or to the charity shop, or to a friend who does a car boot sale for his writer’s circle, or sell them on eBay. Books don’t get thrown away unless they are really, really beyond any use.

Keep the dust jacket or toss it: I always keep dustjackets; again part of my upbringing. They are part of the book, make useful substitute bookmarks and (if one cares about such things) enhance its future value. OTOH they irritate me when reading the book, so I often remove them temporarily.

Short story or novel: If I have to choose, novel. But I mostly read non-fiction.

Collection (same author) or anthology (different authors): I don’t really know. I guess it depends. I can read either. It’s more a question of reading what I fancy reading than worrying about artificial distinctions.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket: I’ve not read either. But I guess if I have to choose it would be Harry Potter. Or Terry Pratchett. Or Douglas Adams.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks: Oh, stop at chapter (or at least section) breaks if I can manage to stay awake — not always possible!

“It was a dark and storm night” or “once upon a time?”: Don’t care. I don’t read a lot of fiction so it doesn’t matter. It’s more a case of whether the book interests me.

Buy or borrow: Buy; always. I never borrow books and I never lend books. If I want to read something I’ll buy it; after all I may well want to keep it and read it again or refer back to it.

New or used: Either. Not everything I want is available new; and some of the old books I want are cheaper in reprints than secondhand. Also factor in that there are books I would like to look at and can often pick up cheaply on eBay rather than having to pay full price.

Buying choice: How do I choose what to read? Usually either books I come across by chance, or I want a book on a particular subject, or they’re get recommended/mentioned to me by friends. I seldom read book reviews, and even less often use them as a source of information.

Tidy endings or cliffhangers: I’m organised, so I prefer tidy endings; except when I don’t.

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading: Whenever I can. Which usually means a few minutes in bed at night or when I’m ill. So I don’t actually get through a lot of reading, something which is made worse by being a slow reader.

Stand-alone or series: Not bothered. But see previous comments on fiction vs non-fiction.

Favorite series: Anthony Powell‘s A Dance to the Music of Time — now what did you really expect me to say? Do Lewis Carroll’s two Alice in Wonderland books count as a series? Then there’s Douglas Adams‘s Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

That’s all, except that, inevitably, TAG, you’re it. If you enjoyed this, please perpetuate the meme and comment here so we can all enjoy your answers. I’d like to see Jilly and Kelly take up the challenge. I’d add Noreen and JohnMon as well but I’ve yet not persuaded them to get weblogs (hah; chicken!).

Friday Five: Not Doing

1. What do you try to stay away from?
Germs, crowds, the London Underground, buses (yeuch!)

2. Are you clumsy or graceful?

3. What is it too late for?
Getting somewhere in life. Making a real difference. A decent pension.

4. What/who was your first love?
Sandra Shorer. I think we were eight; maybe as old as ten. She wasn’t interested. OMG that’s a lifetime ago; nearly 50 years!

5. Friday fill in:I believe that the sun will turn green in 38 days time.

[Brought to you courtesy of Friday Fiver]