Month: March 2005

Not only..

My Gran was kept in hospital for the last couple of nights, precautionary measure as she’s doing fine. Not sure when she’ll get out though.

Back from the doctor’s myself having had the stitches removed from my back, a little raw still but feels a lot better.

And in a nice bit of juxtaposition, whilst I stood waiting at the chemists to pick up a prescription I spotted Punch and Judy toothpaste, although it looks a lot different now than it did when I were a lad, it was something I used to be “allowed” at my Gran’s house. It’s strawberry flavoured toothpaste aimed at kids. And yes I almost bought a tube.

Aside from that not a lot going on, working at home today and tomorrow, and spent a fair portion of last night going through the archives adding titles. God, I used to post some real crap but I won’t delete or edit it, although the temptation is high! (and yes I realise that a lot of you consider my current posts as pretty crap as well so you can just keep your sarcastic comments to yourself!)

Whilst I remember, I’d like to take a moment to point out, again, that the views expressed here are mine, and whilst I encourage you to disagree with them I’m really not looking for heavy handed patronising debate. I hold a very few fixed viewpoints, the rest are dependant on many many factors and can only be best judged by those involved in the circumstance. I post here at my whim and fancy, and base a lot of that on what I read elsewhere. I am not a journalist nor ever hope to be one. I offer my take on things, and welcome those with better insight and knowledge who wish to make comment. If you just want to pass judgement then trust me, I don’t really care. Disagree with my views all you like, but please don’t patronise. Ohh and LEAVE A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS NEXT TIME!!!!!

Yours, disgruntled and hacked off AGAIN,

Gordon McLean

GhostWritten

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell.

A quick search confirms some basic facts about this book, including the oft repeated fact that it is an astonishing debut. Written in the style of a series of short stories that share a common thread the writing style never seems forced and flows from tense set pieces to languid descriptive prose without missing a beat, and somehow manages to keep both the stories and the reader involved.

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Real news

Every now and then something really important happens, not important in the “newsworthy” sense as is evidenced by the fact that it is already being shunted off the front pages (although I am in no way belittling the victims of the recent earthquake in Indonesia and the surrounding area) but important in the sense that it will effect you, and I, and billions of people around the world.

Well it might.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was drawn up by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years. Essentially it’s an account of the current state of our natural resources, resources which are hugely depleted and still under increasing threat.

“Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,”

There is a lot of necessary doom and gloom listed in the report but some of the suggested policies for starting to correct the damage are refreshing and, wait for it, show a level of common sense and understanding not normally associated with the United Nations.

The report offer four ways to turn the tide and they all work on the same principle, namely that economic growth, more trade, lower taxes and a reliance on the private sector is the key. I’ll hand you over to Tim Worstall now as he states WHY this is a good thing:

This is marvellous, a real step forward. We can now all agree with the tree huggers, indeed, the planet is in bad shape, so let’s go and do what the report tells us we should. Abolish subsidies, create markets where they currently do not exist, provide the legal and institutional framework for such markets to work (that is, private property ownership), drag the poor up out of their destitution by incorporating them into the globalized system. In short, the report is telling us two important things. One, that there are problems, and the eco-weenies will of course agree with this. Two, that the solution is more markets, properly structured, so that externalities are properly reflected in the prices paid, something that the greenies will not like, but if they accept the first part of the report they need to accept the second.

Tim Worstall

Of course it won’t be that simple, and there is a tinge of dread in the back of my mind when you mention terms like “globalized systems”. Getting the balance right will be very difficult as there is only one thing in which the private sector is truly interested, but hopefully the governments who have signed off on this report will finally start to take their responsibility seriously.

Related Articles
“The four-year research project … backed by the United Nations, World Bank, and international scientific and development agencies, represents the widest-ranging study of the planet’s life support systems.”

“Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than at any time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber and fibre”

“Nature, the scientists warn, is not something to be enjoyed at the weekend. Conservation of natural spaces is not just a luxury.”

“The over-riding conclusion of this assessment is that it lies within the power of human societies to ease the strains we are putting on the nature services of the planet, while continuing to use them to bring better living standards to all.”

“Achieving this, however, will require radical changes in the way nature is treated at every level of decision-making and new ways of co-operation between government, business and civil society”

Environmental advocates such as Nadia Martinez … applauded the report’s findings but said she is concerned that governments could implement its market-based recommendations while ignoring its caveats.”

“There will undoubtedly be gainsayers, as there are with the IPCC; but I put them in the same box as the flat-Earthers and the people who believe smoking doesn’t cause cancer”

Download the Assessment (PDF) or view a summary of the key facts.

Clarity

I have four blogrolls, the one on the left, one for “Other Blogs”, one for PhotoBlogs and an “Auditioning” blogroll. I’ve come to rely on and be comfortable working with them. They are loaded into a custom home page every time I start my browser.

I can’t use bl.ogs as it only allows one “blogroll”.

I DO use Bloglines for a huge myriad of other “sources” but I actually enjoy visiting websites to see the scenery (FeedDemon and other news readers fall into the same category).

I can’t use WordPress as the “recently updated” feature doesn’t work in 1.5 and I can’t pull info from there into my browser start page without hosting THAT page on a website and.. ohh too much hassle (but an option if the feature starts working again!).

UPDATE: I realise that you can use WordPress but it requires the running of a schedule “cron” job on the server and so you don’t know, until that job is run, when a site has been updated. It may work as designed but it requires ME to have input to the process. Blogrolling doesn’t it just.. works..

I like the idea behind Website Watcher but don’t want to have ANOTHER program running, if it was web based I’d jump at it.

So I think I’ll take the easy way out and stump up for another year of blogrolling. I MAY remove it from this site though and have a generic “links” page (like wot I do at the moment) but we’ll see. As mike pointed out, MyBlogLog indicates that sites on my public blogroll do get clicked every day so it might get a stay of execution.

Thanks for the suggestions though. Much appreciated.

Blogrolling

My blogrolling subscription is due in 7 days. Or I need to find an alternative, bl.ogs is OK but I have FOUR blogrolls and it only allows one. Maintaining links by hand is OK but then I don’t see when people have updated. Bloglines still hasn’t wormed it’s way completely into my way of surfing. I’m stuck.

On the other hand, with the current exchange rates it’s only about £11 for another year.

In other blog news, Orbyn.com is hiating. She’s off in search of something called real life, whatever that is…

RADAR

Jonathan King. Guilty or not he needs to learn the meaning of the word dignity, although I doubt he’d recognise it if you filled a large bucket with it and twatted him upside the head. Twice.

On what scale do you judge musical popularity? Critical acclaim, album sales or a varied level of both? What was the last GREAT album you heard? (I’m going to start reviewing CDs here as well as the occasional movie)

TO DO: Finish draft post on “women in blogging” currently titled Chasming the Tipping Velvet (geddit).

TO DO: Finish HaloScan Wiki, getting close.

M74 extension, a good or a bad thing?

When I offered to be the book keeper for my wife’s new venture, she said: “You don’t have the figure for heads”. We spent the next ten minutes giggling like children.

WORDPRESS: Miniblog plugin?

Miscellany

I’ve seen it used several times in the past week or so. It DOESN’T make you look or sound cool, smart, or ‘better’ in any way shape or form. To what do I refer?

grok – tr.v.: To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy.

Please, PLEASE, stop using it. You know who you are.

~

I got paid today. Thankfully no charges from the bank and as it turns out my company accounting monkeys DID process the pay run on Thursday, we even had the Director of… er.. summat or other… come round to apologise.

~

I want a laptop. A small, thin, cheap laptop on which I can write up blog posts and stuff. Needs only be capable of text editing, holding some MP3s, and viewing photos. Ohh and I’m skint so if it’s free so much the better. Anyone??

Maybe I just need a keyboard for my phone? (This MAY be a hint).

~

My Mum has printed off your best wishes and will be taking them to my Gran this evening in hospital. So thanks again to you all. My Mum has spoken to social services about my Gran’s situation so we’ll see what comes of that (and yes my thoughts on the matter are currently sitting in a draft post).

Sassafrassin Rassafrasser!

This is driving me nuts.

It may be an issue with my WordPress installation, or my CSS, an example of the problem can, currently, be seen two posts down.

If I add a blockquote in WordPress, it adds [blockquote] around the area of text. All well and good. But if the quote has more than one paragraph, it adds a [p] tag within the blockquote, but only for the SECOND paragraph causing the blockquote to get all huffy (technical term).

Currently the CSS for the blockquote looks like this:
#content-float blockquote { color: #663399; padding: 8px; background: #F6FBF7 border: 1px dotted #CC99FF; font-style: italic; font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; }

The [p] tag within the blockquote won’t inherit from it as [blockquote] is below [p] in the CSS hierarchy (I think) but I can’t seem to get my head around how to structure the CSS to cope with this, or should I be looking to the format of the HTML rather than the CSS??

Suggestions, corrections, amendments or even disbelieving comments about my stupidity all welcomed (well all apart from the latter, obviously, that’s just nasty…).

Life update

Gran spent the night in hospital and should be well enough to go home today. The entire event (not the first of it’s kind) will again raise the question of whether she should really be in a sheltered housing complex, but it depends entirely on how stubborn the old dear is going to be.

~

The easter weekend has passed and, as usual, I worked Friday and Monday. People often ask me why I do that, and other than the fact that I don’t get them by default (which is good, I’d rather choose my own holidays thank you) I simply don’t enjoy them. Why? Ask diamond geezer.

~

Watched a couple of movies over the weekend, Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow and part of Girl with a Pearl Earring. More on them later.

Information Design and the Web 1

Inspired by John Zeratsky although I seem to have headed off with my own train of thought.

Part 1 of 2

INFORMATION DESIGN – Sounds ominous, right? But it’s not. In fact it’s so everyday you probably don’t realise it’s affecting you every single minute of every single day.

First things first though. What is “information design”?

One of the best explanations I’ve come across is by Nathan Shedroff who states:

The processes involved in solving problems, responding to audiences, and communicating to others are similar enough [across differing communication tools] to consider them identical …

These issues apply across all types of media and experiences, because they directly address the phenomena of information overload, information anxiety, media literacy, media immersion, and technological overload — all which need better solutions. The intersection of these issues can be addressed by the process of Information Interaction Design.

Sounds simple enough, to me. He goes on to say that:

“In other circles, it is called simply Information Design, Information Architecture, or Interaction Design, Instructional Design, or just plain Common Sense.”

From this we can make the simple statement that the core aim of Information Design is to make information as effective as possible. So in order to understand Information Design, we need to understand the types of information with which it is concerned.

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