Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gertrude Stein

From the Futility Closet ...

"When Bennett Cerf published Gertrude Stein’s Geographical History of America or the Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind in 1936, he included this “Publisher’s Note”:

"This space is usually reserved for a brief description of a book’s contents. In this case, however, I must admit frankly that I do not know what Miss Stein is talking about. I do not even understand the title.

I admire Miss Stein tremendously, and I like to publish her books, although most of the time I do not know what she is driving at. That, Miss Stein tells me, is because I am dumb.

I note that one of my partners and I are characters in this latest work of Miss Stein’s. Both of us wish we knew what she was saying about us. Both of us hope too that her faithful followers will make more of this book than we were able to!

Interviewing Stein on his radio program, Cerf said, “I’m very proud to be your publisher, Miss Stein, but as I’ve always told you, I don’t understand very much of what you’re saying.”

She said, “Well, I’ve always told you, Bennett, you’re a very nice boy, but you’re rather stupid.”

Public Service Announcement

"Outdoor cats risk injury, disease, or getting hit by cars and millions of small birds and and other animals are killed each year by outdoor cats.

Your outdoor cat can find plenty of entertainment indoors.

For more information and a Teachers' Guide see the website of the American Bird Conservation Society at www.abc.org.

Make the world a safer place for cats and birds - keep your cat indoors."

Broadcast on Richmond Independent Radio (WRIR) on 18 December. What the fuck! Haven't the Americans heard of cat-flaps! This is ridiculous!! Meeoww!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reply from MAFIAA Fire

Hey Angus,

Thanks for contacting MAFIAAFire!

Sure, we are most happy to answer questions about the addons, and tech people can check them out for themselves as well as it's open source.

>   The immediate impact of this is that I cannot select a country-specific proxy, for example a UK proxy allowing me to view BBC programming via the BBC iPlayer 

No you cannot, and for good reason. It would make it easier for particular countries to stomp down on proxies, this way they dont even know if their countries proxies will be used for sure.

UK proxies are anyway avoided because we want to make sure everyone can get to sites like Newsbin if they need to, which is supposed to be banned in the near future.
We do not use French proxies for the same reason.

>  A repressive regime, China or Syria or Israel, can set up a proxy server (or many) and MAFIAA Fire selects it randomly  

It is possible, but unlikely.
The reason it's unlikely is we will "cycle" the proxies, so even if one of their proxies end up on our list, it wont be there long because on the next cycle a new bunch of proxies end up on the list and the old are out.

We randomly chose our proxies from many places of the internet (which we don't disclose where), the chance that the Chinese setup a proxy, put it in the right place for us to find it, it passes all our tests and beats out the other 1000s of free proxies to come on our list are pretty tiny.
But yes, it is possible just as given enough time a monkey sitting at a typewriter can accidently type out one of Shakespeare's entire plays.

>   is MAFFIA Fire selecting its proxies randomly Or is it filtering which countries, ISPs etc are legitimate for hosting proxies - in which case which countries and which ISPs? 

Yes, we do pick proxies randomly and yes we do filter proxies depending on which country they are hosted.
France, Denmark, Italy, UK and a few others cannot come on our list. If SOPA passes the US proxies will also be excluded.
Basically, the countries that offer proxies to the full, uncensored internet end up on our list.

Whats your blog address?


Thursday, December 22, 2011


The Futility Closet is a wonderful source of aphorisms of which my regular readers know I am particularly fond. Two more below ...

“Sleep is death enjoyed.” — Friedrich Hebbel
“Character is that which can do without success.” — Emerson

... which got me thinking "What exacly is an aphorism". Yes, I know how ro recognise one but I don't know how to define one. So off to Wikipedia and it tells me.

"An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic (concise) and memorable form.[1] Aphorism literally means a "distinction" or "definition", from Greek ἀφορισμός (aphorismós), which is from ἀπό (apo) and ὁρίζειν (horizein), meaning "from/to bound". The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. The oft-cited first sentence of this work (see Ars longa, vita brevis) is:

"Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult."

SOPA,MAFIAA Fire, Mobile Phones and more

Lots has been happening on Internet access and censorship in the last few months.

Western/Northern governments have been praising the attributes of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, in the last few months as northern African and Middle Eastern goovernments topple and fall.

These very governments tacitly support the efforts of organisations and activist groups, such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), Anonymous etc in their work to set up proxy networks which allow users in "non-democratic regimes" to read Western/Northern "propaganda" websites.

The efforts of EFF through its promotion of Tor, Privoxy etc have been admirable in the extreme. The latest offering is MAFIAA Fire which allows you to connect to any Internet site anonymously and automatically via proxies. It avoids the configuration difficulties of the Tor/Privoxy solution but has the disadvantage that you cannot choose your proxy. The immediate impact of this is that I cannot select a country-specific proxy, for example a UK proxy allowing me to view BBC programming via the BBC iPlayer (see previous posts) ... but I see problems here. A repressive regime, China or Syria or Israel, can set up a proxy server (or many) and MAFIAA Fire selects it randomly ... is MAFFIA Fire selecting its proxies randomly Or is it filtering which countries, ISPs etc are legitimate for hosting proxies - in which case which countries and which ISPs?

The very same networking sites are being used by activists in the cities of the Americas and Europe in the current Occupy Wall Street protests, in the UK to avoid police kettling strategies (Sukey), by international relief organisations in natural disasters (Ushahidi).

As the police and other other security agencies across the world, from Western/Northern governments to those "repressive" regimes the former express the wish to do away with the latter, all are increasingly dependent on gathering intelligence from social networks as their own "secure" communications networks are failing ... we learn that the UK police network's whistle-and-bells new VHF radio system failed dismally during the recent disturbances and individual police officers had to use their personal mobile phones ,,,

"Among the failings highlighted by the [Police] federation, which represents 136,000 officers, were chronic problems, particularly in London with the hi-tech digital Airwave radio network. Its failings were one reason why officers were "always approximately half an hour behind the rioters". This partly explained, it said, why officers kept arriving at areas from where the disorder had moved on.

The Airwave network was supposed to improve the way emergency services in London responded to a crisis after damning criticism for communication failures following the 7 July bombings in 2005.

It is being relied upon to ensure that police officers will be able to communicate with each other from anywhere in Britain when the Olympics come to London next summer. The federation wants a review into why the multibillion-pound system collapsed, leaving officers to rely on their own phones.

"Officers on the ground and in command resorted, in the majority, to the use of personal mobile phones to co-ordinate a response," says the report.

Ironic that during the July 2005 London Underground terrorist attacks large sections of the London mobile telephone network were shut down.

As Alex saays "And it's the UK, for fuck's sake. We do radio." http://yorkshire-ranter.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-you-hear-me-now.html

At the same the Western/Northern governments want to curb internet freedom, under entertainment (film, music, sex etc) industry (RIAA and MPAA to name just two of hundreds) pressure.

So the Western/Northern governments seem to be in a Catch 22 and cannot resolve it.

The latest is this ...

"The New America Foundation's Open Network Technology Initiative, a US State Department-funded project to build an "Internet in a suitcase" that can be dropped into repressive zones where protesters need network access and the state is trying to take it away. The project -- a very complex piece of technology -- has gotten to the point where it needs a live test, and lucky for the Open Technology engineers, Occupy DC is just down the street, and that's a great testbed.

The idea is that the system will automatically set itself up. Drop a unit near another unit and they’ll start talking to one another and trading data. Add another and all three will talk to one another. Add a thousand and you can cover a whole city. Then if one of those routers is hooked up to an internet connection, everyone on the network can connect. If that connection disappears, users can still try to update an application like Twitter or send e-mail to the larger internet and the outgoing notes will go into a holding pattern until the mesh network finds another connection to the greater net.

That’s harder to pull off in practice, even under ideal conditions — as anyone who’s tried to link even two Wi-Fi access points in their own home could attest. Now throw in the variables that the access points should work in urban and exposed environments, as well as protest zones like Tahir Square. You’ll want to protect dissidents with encryption and deniability. And you don’t want your beta-testers to be arrested or even killed because of a software bug. All together it’s the kind of challenge engineers like to call “non-trivial”.

“Finding a place to use the system is difficult,” Meinrath said. “Thank God for the Occupy movement.”

So the USG  is using its democratically legitimate Occupy Wall St movement which it diametrically opposes to testdrive cyberweapons it can use against countries/regimes it opposes? And if I am in Egypt, Syria, China, I can then bittorrent download what the fuck I like ...

... but hang on wasn't the US just getting heavy with China about "intellectual piracy"?

Oh and I forgot the Stuxnet virus...! Backfire!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Study

Thanks to Futility Closet ...

“A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” — Samuel Johnson

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” — Plato

“Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.” — Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lighters II

So here we have our latest range of cigarette lighters ... whoops, spliff lighters! A little bit racist and anti-Rastifarian methinks ... but I do love the ganja theme!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers.
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind the own business.
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the memories—all right let’s see your arms!
You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

I've read most of William S. Burrough's but had never come across this - I wonder what he would add to this today.

Video clip here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black and White

I learned how to play chess as a child and, although I have never forgotten the moves and basic rules, I was never very good at it. And I never had patience for those newspaper chess puzzles ...

However, this one, presented in Futility Closet, is incredibly simple but requires some lateral thinking.

White to mate in two moves by Auguste D'Orville

Black cannot move anywhere - neither the king nor the two pawns. White can move its king and two knights in various directions but to what advantage? It would still not allow black to effectively move. However, if the white knight in the lower right quadrant moves into a position by which the only move black can make is to take the white knight. This allows the white pawn to move two squares forward thus checkmating the black king.

Simple, huh?

The Health and Social Care Bill 2011

As part of its campaign against the UK government's Health and Social Care Bill 2011 (which has unfortunately passed both the House of Commons and House of Lords), 38 Degrees (a campaign organisation one of whose aims is to oppose the aforesaid legislation) commissioned two legal opinions on the likely impact of the Bill.

1. In the matter of the Health and Social Care Bill and the application of procurement and competition law

2. In the matter of the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 and in the matter of the duty of the Secretarty of State for Health to provide a national health service

They are difficult reads - the nuances of legal language, the references to national and EU legislation and case law interpreting the legislation are indeed complex. So much so that I wonder whether our honourable Members of Parliament took the time to read them, and understood them even if they read them.

Although the subject of the second report is perhaps clearer to the public - the absolution of the Secretarty of State's power to govern the National Health Service and its devolvement to the private sector, the first report is of more interest dealing with the nitty-gritties of applying the bill to the daily running of the NHS.

The first issue is whether the NHS is subject to national and EU procurement and competition law. This depends on whether the NHS or its constituent parts are considered to be "economic undertakings" - if so, then they are subject to procurement and competition law. Legislation is appropriately vague as to what constitutes an "undertaking" and there has been no definitive case law to define this.

The new bill promotes the formation of "consortia" comprised of both public NHS components and private entities (with existing Alternative Provider Medical Service - APMS - contracts) to undertake commissioning/procurement.

(A by-note: APMS contracts "are intended to be used for the provision of essential services, additional services where GP practices opt out, enhanced services, out-of-hours services or any one element or combination of those services. There is therefore already considerable involvement of the private sector in the provision of NHS health care services.")

Individual members of the consortia, whether public or private, will be able to bid on the very procurements they have drawn up. So all of us consortia members sit around a table to elaborate the procurement that we will all individually bid on!

The current cost of running a procurement for an individual authority is from £5000 to £30000+. This will rise under the new legislation - for example, the grandiose NHS information technology project is now being devolved to individual authorities (who these will be is uncertain as the bill also aims to restructure the entire bueaucracy of PCTs, SHAs. Foundation Trusts etc). The cost and complexity of IT procurement will rise. Procurement run by the consortia or amalgams of consortia will be on a larger scale than previously run by individual authorities.

So we now arrive at Kafka's Castle.

"The complexity of the regime and the administrative burden in complying with the rules (which are constantly evolving through a rapidly expanding body of case law) cannot be underestimated. Even if consortia were to expend resources recruiting the expertise of procurement consultants in order to assist in early stages, it is very likely that those consultancy services themselves would require to be procured through the Regulations through a full competition where those contracts exceed the relevant threshold of £156,000."

i.e. to recruit a procurement specialist to help you draw up your procurement package may be above the current limit for non-competitive tendering which is £156,442. So you are going to have to put out a competitive tender for a procurement specialist to help you draw up a procurement!

EU legislation classifies service procurement into two categories - Parts A and B. Part B services are not subject to the full range of EU competition regulations. Health and social services come under Part B. However, non-clinical services and goods, such as information technology, fall under Part A and are subject tho the full extent of EU competition regulations. There are apparently moves afoot to abolish this two tier approach and make all procurement subject to the full range of regulations.

In spite of all its anti-EU rhetoric, the government seems pretty keen on EU competition/procurement regulations and is pushing for the NHS to become a commercial health provider.

Chewing sticks

Another meme - I have been known since adolescence to have a taste for "eating" plastic, particularly ballpoint pens. I could never abide the sickly sweetness of bubble or chewing gum. Tough chewable plastic is better than brittle plastic that breaks too easily and splinters in the mouth. A biro cannot reach the end of its natural life once I get to work, or rather chewing on it!

Morais was determined to break me of this habit so provided me with some sticks of Pau Ferro, literally "Iron Stick", which as its name suggests is extremely hard but highly chewable and with a slightly astringent bitter flavour. It has had the desired effect!

But I wonder if my life would have been different if these had been around - liquorice bark pencils! These have been specially designed for inveterate pencil chewers. The graphite only comes halfway up the pencil leaving a full two inches of delectable liquorice to chew on. I can see this easily being adapted to ballpoint pens.

Dangers of Licorice warns me that eati
ng too much liquorice can lead to irregular heartbeat or even heart failure due to its glycyrrhetinic acid content. If you tend to overchew, you might be advised to seek out DGL (de-glycyrrhizinated) licorice.

From the Smithsonian (via bpoingboing):
"Liquorice Wheels when consumed in large quantities, (glycyrrhetinic acid) can cause your body’s potassium levels to fall to the point that some people experience arrhythmia, a rise in blood pressure, swelling and even congestive heart failure. People taking diuretics or medications for high blood pressure should be especially wary as the licorice may inhibit the effectiveness of the drugs. How much is too much? According to the FDA, a diet including 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks might merit a trip to the hospital to have an irregular heart beat checked out. And consuming one to two pounds of licorice candy in one go may cause the blood vessels in your eyes to spasm, causing temporarily impaired vision. Though predominately a concern for persons over 40, it is recommended that everyone should moderate a high licorice intake."

One symptom of potassium deficiency is leg cramps from which I have suffered in the past. My solution has always been to eat lots of potassium-rich bananas!


Funny how memes crop up both within and across websites ... and you often don't pick up on them until you're laid up in bed, as I am now, and can do some intensive extensive Internet reading.

A cross-website meme has just come to my attention. boingboing took me to the marvellously whimsical blog the Futility Closet where I found this quote.

“My opinion of mankind is founded upon the mournful fact that, so far as I can see, they find within themselves the means of believing in a thousand times as much as there is to believe in, judging by experience.”

Augustus De Morgan

How true!

Back at boingboing I come across this post Why being wrong makes us angry on a presentation given by the science journalist Christie Anschwanden at the National Association of Science Writers conference on why people get angry when presented with evidence that their beliefs are wrong.

Maggie Koerth-Baker rightly concludes that "we all (me included) need to remember that being questioned — and being wrong—doesn't mean there's something wrong with us."

Which obviously leads on to the recent "discovery" of neutrinos that travel faster than light (by a staggering 60 nanoseconds i.e. billionths of a second!) at the CERN particle accelerator. The scientists who observed this were so surprised and mystified that they decided to publish their results on the open source arXiv website which publishes pre-peer review research papers. The scientists want feedback - as boingboing says, this a way of saying "Woah, we just found something crazy, please tell us if you see something we've done wrong".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do I need a Doctor?

Seemingly not ...

"The statement “You will recover from this illness” is either true or false. If it’s true, then it has been true for all eternity, and you’ll recover whether you summon a doctor or not.

If the statement is false, then it has always been false, and you will not recover even with a doctor’s aid.

So there is no point in calling a doctor."

From Cicero’s De Fato. Thanks to the Futlity Closet posted as Healthcare Reform!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Access Week

From October 24-30 it is Open Access Week.

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its fourth [actually fifth year], is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward.

OA Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks have used Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more."

Britain's most prestigious scientific institution, the Royal Society, made its entire archives open-access and online on 26 October

"The Royal Society has today announced that its world-famous historical journal archive – which includes the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal – has been made permanently free to access online.

Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available.

The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher, with the first edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society appearing in 1665. Henry Oldenburg – Secretary of the Royal Society and first Editor of the publication – ensured that it was “licensed by the council of the society, being first reviewed by some of the members of the same”, thus making it the first ever peer-reviewed journal."

News on Open Access in Africa can be found here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness

boingboing draws my attention to this article How the News Media May Hurt – Not Help – Health Literacy Efforts by Gary Schwitzer of the Health News Review which questions the efficacy of screening for breast cancer.

Strangely enough my friend Helena draws my attention to the role of big pharma in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


We have three aging mechanical typewriters in the office - an Adler universal 390, a Triumph matura 490 and a Swedish Facit. All three are amazingly still operational and occasionally still in use.

The solicitor in the office next door to us still uses a typewriter for all his work!

What amazed me even more is that you can still buy typewriter ribbons! I guess there is still a demand for this amazing machine in countries that sorely lack both computers and electricity ... and, of course, they must be far easier and cheaper to repair.

I was amused to find today the USBTypewriter - "a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence. Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer".

Convert your mechanical typewriter into a USB device that will type to your computer screen!

Of course, you need to have both devices ... and a printer!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Taming of the Shrew

And if you don't know the height of a "safe" Free Fall ... look it up on Wikipedia!


I thought Halibut is a fish - according to Alan Davidson of excellent quality although I have never had the opporunity to try it.

But now I learn otherwise - it is a Zinc oxide dermatological cream.

Friday, October 21, 2011

iklan sabun giv

Well blow me down with a feather!

Someone speaking "Indonesian" searched on Google Indonesia "iklan sabun giv" and found my entries on Giv soap and proceeded to visit seven pages corresponding, more or less, to all my entries on the aforesaid.

I can only wonder whether it was their beautiful model or their advertising department?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Form C2 - Kezia's Passport contd

So finally we ascertain we cannot use IPS Form SE04 to apply for Kezia's replacement passport as she is not resident in the UK but must use Form C2. My brother managed to find a downloadable pdf version of the form and sent it to me.

Instructions for completing the form state "Please use black ink and capital letters, if handwriting" which implies to me that you can alternatively complete the form on your computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If only ...

The form is a) encrypted so as to even prevent you from superimposing text objects and b) contains no data fields. As a result you are obliged to print out the form and complete it by hand. The space available for many of the entries is so small that your block capital handwriting must be miniscule (Mothers town and country of birth: Sao Tome, Sao Tome e Principe - there are precisely x centimetres for this).

So I have gone through the laborious process of finding and downloading a free pdf deencryption tool and then downloading a trial version of Adobe Acrobat Pro Portable and adding data fields. Now I can complete the form on a computer and size the text accordingly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's worse than having Leukaemia?

boingboing has posted about Amit Gupta who has just been diagnosed with leukaemia and requires a bone marrow transplant. The post highlights the difficulty of finding an appropriate donor of South Asian descent. The same applies to anyone non-white.

The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust in the UK campaigns to increase the number of registered donors on the UK donor register. It has managed to raise the number of African-descent donors in the UK from 550 to 33,000 - but this is still not enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Handmade Vacuum Tubes

Radio is a bit (just a little bit) of an interest of mine having worked for a radio retransmission station for many years and being a licensed (albeit not very active) radio amateur. Radio hams in general are enormous Makers, although I regrettably never have been.

This article (at boingboing) on handmade vacuum tubes equals my recent post on the Memex tide calculator. Awesome!

See also Aleksander Zawada's page on making vacuum tubes and the report on this visit to his lab.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Maker Faire Africa

I've been reading about Make from time to time on boingboing and yesterday did a little bit of investigation into what Make is.

To quote from Wikipedia:

"Make (or MAKE) is an American quarterly magazine published by O'Reilly Media which focuses on do it yourself (DIY) and/or DIWO (Do It With Others) projects involving computers, electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking and other disciplines."

O'Reilly Publishing ... the Bastard Operator From Hell!

The Make magazine was launched in 2005 and a year later Make organised the first Maker Faire in the USA bringing together amateur and small professional inventors and innovators who support an opensource philosophy and are seeking collaboration on creative and business levels to promote their ideas. The most recent US Maker Faire was last weekend in New York.

The Maker "movement", for that is what it has now become, was initially a "First World" phenomenon, is now spreading fast as it becomes apparent that it is ideal for the promotion of appropriate technology in the developing world.

Advancing from Schumacher's original philosphy, that inspired "Intermediate" and "Appropriate" technology and were developed world led, the Maker movement, although originally started in the developed world is now taking off in the developing world. The emphasis now is that the people who know what is appropiate are the users themselves and that technology should originate from and, most importantly by users ...

I haven't found time to this. Here are important links ...

White African

Timbuktu Chronicles

Maker Faire Africa


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Getting Help Through Cancer Support Groups and Networks

A guest post from David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance:

"Being diagnosed with cancer can often be a stressful and overwhelming experience for many people. However, to help increase the chances of survival, this disease requires early detection. Mesothelioma is one such cancer that is not easily diagnosed and is often detected during the latter stages. With a skilled and frank doctor, a good medical team and emotional support you can receive significant help to cope with cancer and improve you quality of life and recovery.

If you are a cancer survivor or are in remission or going through treatment, you may
benefit from the experience of trained volunteers who have been affected by similar treatment and who are fighting the same cancer disease. By using cancer support groups and networks you may receive important benefits such as:

•Receiving emotional support and having a friend in need,
•Getting useful suggestions, tips, advice and ideas on how and where to get information and dealing with side-effects,
•Having practical support during and after treatment as well as during recovery,
•Receiving encouragement and hope for survival and living your life to the fullest,
•Having an outlet to ask questions and share your concerns, story and experience.

Survivors and those who are in remission who help with cancer
support groups or networks may benefit from managing survivorship issues, including recurrence of the cancer.

The types of cancer support networks and groups may differ, but you are sure to find one that best fits your needs and situation. Some groups may meet in person, but if you don’t like opening up to people or find it difficult to travel, you may look for a telephone or an internet support group. Other types of group support such as lectures and workshops, faith-based groups or groups led by a doctor or professional therapist are also available.

Other helpful
ways of expressing your feeling as you cope with cancer is through journaling or writing. This helps you to get in touch with your true feelings and provides and outlet to share them.

Expressing your feelings through writing or on a one-on-one basis may help you to feel less burdened and dispel any fears and misconceptions that you may have about your cancer. You may also find valuable information by using online resources provided by cancer support groups and networks. Two such resources are
the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society’s Network."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I married Nanda in February 2006 in order to pass UK nationality to Kezia because a UK father could not pass his nationality to the child of a foreign mother if they weren't married. The law changed in July 2006.

"From 1 July 2006 the definition of of a parent for British nationality purposes changed to include illegitimate child/ren born through a surrogacy arrangement to a British citizen father; provided that the mother of the child is not still validly married to another man."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kezia's Passport contd

My few regular readers may recall my post of 15 February this year regarding the renewal of Kezia's UK passport. The upshot was that I never heard back from the UK embassies in Angola nor South Africa.

The new UK ambassador to Angola and São Tomé e Príncipe recently visited to present his credentials. We met and decided it would be easiest if we apply direct to the UK domestic/internal passport service (the Home Office Identity and Passport Service). Yesterday I grabbed the bull by the horns, and as I relate from an email to my brother ...

"Try downloading the passport application form! I couldn't find it either on FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] or IPS [Identity and Passport Service] websites. IPS actually says "most domestic printers cannot print to the standard we require" wnatever that means. FCO wants us to apply through the embassy in Angola who will send it to South Africa who will then send it to the UK to print the passport and return by same route. IPS says it can require the applicant to attend an interview so has to be in the UK at time of application. So even if we put 10 Butterfield Sreet as UK residence, the fact she is not physically at 10 Butterfield Street, means we cannot apply directly to the IPS from Sao Tome.

You can ask the IPS online to send you a paper application form through the post - but obviously. given the above, it seems unlikely they would send it to STP!".

The bull's horns have slipped through my hands! I hope Her Majesty's Secretary of State will help out. I really need to read Kafka's ""The Castle" again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It is easy peasy to forecast the times and heights of the tides at any location in the world using computers. Online applications such as the UK's Admiralty EasyTide makeLink this a click away.

But it wasn't always so easy ...

Originally, it had to be done by compex manual mathematics but then William Thomson,, later Lord Kelvin (i.e. of the temperature unit), built a mechanical tide calculator in 1872.

This was crucial to the planning of D-Day, the Allied invasion of continental Europe in June 1944. The man in the photo above is Arthur Doodson of the Liverpool Tidal Institute who led the planning team. This article in Physics Today explains.

This takes me back to pre-calculator schooldays of slide-rules and Log Tables ...

Thanks to boingboing.