Thursday, November 30, 2006
I cannot see how this would work in practice. Presumably those who sign up to it would be most likely to stick to it in any case and those who would not stick to it would not sign up. To say nothing of the fact that there is always the option for someone to sue for libel in any case.
This story is also covered here on Libertarian Home
Apparently average UK temperatures for September, October and November look set to break the 12C mark for the first time.
The previous highest temperature for autumn in central England was 11.8C, set in 1731.
A spokesman for the Met Office said it is "virtually certain" that this autumn will be the warmest for 300 years, and the forecast for the next few days is for further mild weather.
The spokesman also said it is "possible" that 2006 could be the warmest year on record, despite the cold spring.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Perhaps the critical moment in the game came when Hayden Fox (who is rumoured to be being offered a longer contract) was sent off early in the second half. Goals from Gifton Noel-Williams and Andrew Gray put Burnley 2-0 up although David Healy pulled one back late on as the game finished 2-1 to Burnley
Despite the defeat the consensus on the message boards seemed to be that this was the best we have played for quite some time. Heart, passion, commitment and skill was shown by the team as a whole.
Dennis Wise was quoted as follows “"There was nothing between the sides, we competed well, we knew we would frustrate them and we did frustrate them. The lads worked very hard and believed they could get something out of it even at 2-0 down.”
Also worth bearing in mind that as recently as six weeks ago or so this would have been a 5-0 or 5-1 defeat!!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Meanwhile signs of a small revival at Leeds continue following Saturdays 2-1 away win at Plymouth. Leeds climb out of the relegation zone at last. The midweek visit to Burnley will be very tricky and next saturdays game against Barnsley already has the look of a six pointer.
The Wat Phra Yai temple is the home of Koh Samui's most famous landmark the Big Buddha. Most visitors will come to marvel at the sheer size and beauty of this remarkable statue at some point during their holiday even if they do not go anywhere else. Visible from several kilometers away and even from the air when arriving on or leaving the island the Big Buddha sits 15 meters tall and was built in 1972 by the local society to give visitors a place to pay respect to The Lord Buddha.
If you want to know more about Koh Samui there are some links here
Amazing Samui for hotels, bookings etc
Koh Samui.org for all sorts of information
Weather in Koh Samui click here (currently around 28 to 30 C)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Great piece in last Sundays Observer about whether or not we should switch to eco bulbs.
According to this piece compact fluorescent light bulbs use five times less electricity to do the same job and produce 60-70 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than normal lighting. I was also amazed to be told at the Green Tea in Newbury (which followed the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth") that if every household fitted one of these bulbs we could shut down one power station!
Some good examples are shown here and here and given the green score for our household we will be stocking up on these.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Imperial Boat House Hotel is a lot more reasonably priced than the Tongsai Bay and this is where we are staying on our next visit.
The blurb from their website which can be found here read as follows :
"Set on beautiful and unspoiled beach of Choeng Mon on the northeast coast of Koh Samui,The Imperial Boat House Hotel comprises 34 authentic teakwood rice barges converted into international standard luxury suites,as well as eight low-rise accommodation wings. The hotel is just four kilometers from the island's international airport."
Their factsheet can be found here.
This hotel is in a relatively quiet location but fronts straight on to the beach. The hotel prices are not unreasonable but the beach hosts a wide variety of good cheap restaurants. The nearest big town is Chaweng which is about 10 minutes ride away - near enough when you want it and far enough away when you don't. There are two great pools here - the one with the divers in is nearest to the beach. The other pool is quieter and when we go early next year our room will open out on to this pool. The other great thing is that there is a PADI diving school on site so maybe we will attempt to get our open water diver qualifications this time.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Apparently three million Britons have already been issued with the new hi-tech passport, designed to frustrate terrorists and fraudsters although frankly I find this total somewhat amazing given that I renewed mine earlier this year specifically to avoid the new type for as long as possible.
According to this article in the Technology Guardian the new passport is about as secure as the proverbial chocolate fireguard. The new passports incorporate tiny microchips to store the holder's details and a digital description of their physical features. These techno wizards were able to extract all the data from the chip using just the information printed on the passport.
And they say the data on ID cards will be secure!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
My green score was 45% - not very good in my opinion
My Energy Score was 19% - Tips can be seen here
My Water Score was 55% - Tips can be seen here
My Rubbish & Shopping Score was 22% - Tips can be seen here
My Transport Score was 41% - Tips can be seen here
I was particularly surprised by this last score given the number of cars and motorbikes in our household and the fact that we take a long haul flight at least once a year.
You can also measure your carbon dioxide emissions here
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The article highlights the need for a new generation of buildings constructed in a totally different way to our current housing stock. These buildings would "be wireless rather than cluttered with the electrical paraphernalia of a typical office or home, drawing 'whatever energy they can from their own environment' via geothermal, wind or solar energy. Such buildings would be lit by natural daylight harnessed through 'light pipes' channels up to the roof designed to let light flood through rooms. The buildings would have their own waste recycling on site".
Meanwhile the report goes on to say that the "Institute for Public Policy Research has published a report calling for Britain to become a 'zero waste' country, where rubbish is recycled or reused instead of dumped in landfill sites. It says taxes should be applied to disposable products such as razors and cameras, encouraging people to buy more lasting products. The study argues consumers should learn to repair and reuse items rather than throwing them out, as well as recycling more. The think-tank report wants manufacturers to be compelled to design durable products that can be reused rather than throwaway plastic that will need regular, and profitable, replacement"
The report also "recommends that councils should charge householders for taking away non-recyclable rubbish : Britons throw away more than 300 million tonnes of rubbish every year and recycle less than half of it."
All these things will involve a certain amount of pain but the sooner we start tackling these sort of issues the better.
Homes that are more self sufficient and chew up less energy and material material resources has to be the way to go.
As for manufacturers designing durable products - great idea but I somehow cannot see this happening. One of the problems is that so many everyday items are uneconomic to repair even if you could find somehow with the know how to do it.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The Wives and Girlfriends of footballers are pretty famous for living it up and flashing the cash. During the World Cup this year there were almost as many stories about the WAGS and their behaviour and spending habits as there were about the fitness of various England players.
So it is really nice to see a group of WAGS raising the cash instead of splashing the cash. The Wives and Girlfriends of the Reading Footballers have got together under the banner of the Royal Families charity, which was set up by Amanda Hahnemann and Karen Murty (wives of goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and captain Graeme Murty). They aim to raise sixty thousand pounds throughout the season for local charities.
We went to the launch event last night at the Madejski Stadium. The Champagne tasting night was the first of six fundraising events organised by the WAGs so far and raised over Thirty Two Thousand Pounds!
At least nine first team players were at the event (a fact which delighted my Reading fanatic son who came with us) and they took part in the event with great enthusiasm. At least two Reading players won the bidding for some of the auction items. Ibrahima Sonko walked away with a weekend break in Iceland and Steve Sidwell was seen leaving the event dwarfed by the two giant cuddly dogs he had bought in the auction.
Hats off to the Royal Families for a really positive initiative.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Right! Well he should have been dismissed for poor results but then he should be compensated for being dismissed unless there were performance clauses in his contract
The League Managers Association lawyers have investigated the newspaper article upon which Leeds are basing their claim and have advised that Blackwells remarks did not breach the terms of his contract.
Rumours continue to circulate with regard to whether or not Blackwell actually signed the three year contract he was offered and whether or not the contract might be deemed to be signed in any case as he continued to work beyond the end of his old contract and was paid at the new rate.
Suggestions so far
- Making elephants out of playdoh
- They all had their hair cut
The basic process is that a planning application is submitted for a house or a road and is then approved. The council then creates the basic address and sends it to the Royal mail where the Post code is added. Because the accurate data that councils use contains post codes and geographic information from the ordnance survey they end up paying to use data which they helped to create in the first place.
An example given in the article goes as follows "When a local authority puts its schools admission system online, as required by the e-government programme, it must pay Royal Mail if it wants to allow residents to search for a school by postcode."
Apparently this is not new and the charges have been in place for years. The latest row has been triggered by a proposal to double the charges to local councils from October next year.
It seems that battles over copyright and revenues from address data have ruined previous attempts to create a single national database of addresses.
The logical conclusion is that local authorities want to charge the Post Office each time they make use of the basic part of the address if they are going to have to pay to use the Post Code. And surely the Royal Mail wants everyone to use the accurate post code to help them to deliver post correctly. What next? If I give my house a name instead of a number can I charge other bodies for using that name. Surely it is fairly fundamental data which should be available free of charge and something should be done to make this data freely in the public domain.
A Thai composer has said that the country's military backed government has threatened to ban his opera. Apparently officials spoke to him days before the opening of Ayodhya concerned about portrayal of the death of demon-king Thotsakan on stage. The officials told him that any misfortunes which befell those in power would be blamed on the opera.
Putting aside for a moment the rights and wrongs of the military coup in the first place this action seems somewhat extreme. The military coup leaders have promised to lift many of the restrictions as soon as possible. They have promised to draft a new constitution and put it to a referendum. They have promised new elections next October. And yet they feel the need and find the time to take an interest in the minutiae of cultural matters.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
According to The Nation "Despite Washington's disapproval of the coup that usurped power on September 19, US President George Bush said yesterday he understood the situation in Thailand and shook hands with military-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on the sidelines of the Apec leaders summit"
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont assured the Apec leaders that the country would "proceed along the democratic path" and would "try to put the draft of the constitution to a referendum later on."
The US had criticised the military takeover in Thailand, saying the move was a step backward for democracy. Washington has suspended parts of military cooperation as well as bilateral free-trade negotiations, pending the election of a new government.
I know which of the two lines I prefer and which is more likely to keep the coup leaders to their promise with regard to fresh elections.
Match report from The Observer here.
Meanwhile Leeds got thrashed 3-0 by Southampton at home and it sounds as if both Healy and Crainey had poor games. Dennis Wise was quoted fairly bluntly after the game as saying "I will bring players in and players will go. It's best to keep it at that." Seems fair enough to me - there have to be changes!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
He stressed that he was speaking as a "citizen" not as government spokesman - funny how his comments managed to get reported then!
He criticises the internet for being used to encourage the "shrill discourse of demands" that dominated modern politics.
I wonder who all these people on the internet are?
Who are all these people with blogs and web sites?
Perhaps just perhaps these people are citizens too albeit ones without the ability to get themselves reported in the main stream media because of a government position they hold!
He goes on to say that we have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government - what arrogance. If successive governments had not had such centralising tendencies then local communities might have been given the power, responsibility and resources to do more for themselves. Instead we live in a country where the general assumption is that we should do everything centrally. The national government controls more and more and if it does not directly control something then it will set prescriptive targets and standards that leave very little by way of choice for those who are delivering whatever service locally
Part of the problem according to him is the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.
And what precisely is wrong with this Mr Taylor?
Unless of course you are always pro establishment and anti libertarian yourself.
In my opinion a lot of the problem is an electoral system that does not work, governments which tend to centralise everything and a media which by and large panders to the government agenda. When it does not pander to their agenda it is more interested in sex scandals than in the real issues which concern most of the people in this country. I suspect a lot of bloggers are fairly frustrated with the inability to get their message to the government of the day via the media or the ballot box and hence have found an alternative outlet for their frustrations
What a surprise.
I saw the Weather Pixie on another Liberal Democrat blog and could not resist adding a couple to my blog. Towards the bottom of the sidebar you will find the UK time and a weather pixie for the nearest site to Reading and the time in Koh Samui and the nearest weather pixie for Koh Samui.
Oh and the weather in Koh Samui is currently 81F.
Quite simply the best hotel on the island as far as I can see. We picked it for our honeymoon and didn't regret that decision at all. The prices are more similar to European prices but the hotel, the service, the villas and the food are out of this world.
The first photo shows the beach area. The Tongsai Bay has a totally private beach which is only accessible from the hotel grounds. There are two swimming pools, one down by the beach area and one higher up - this one is a half moon eternal pool and is absolutely beautiful to swim in.
The final shot is from the deck of a Grand Villa. We honeymooned in one of these and it was the most luxurious accommodation I have ever stayed in. The bed appeared to about the size of two Super King Sized beds, the dressing room and bathroom areas were vast and then you step outside to a huge suspended deck area with stunning views.
The description from the Tongsai Bays own website is as follows :
Tongsai Grand Villas are on the hillside facing seaview of Tongsai bay. Each has an area of 135 m2, divided into the open-air terrace plus living area of 81 m2 and the air-conditioned bedroom of 54 m2. The unique open-air terrace features a bar, a bathtub for bathing al fresco and a gazebo where guests could sleep outside if they wish (mosquito nets provided).
and yes we did use the gazebo and bathtub
Anyone who wants to know more should click here for their website.
Friday, November 17, 2006
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Global warming, Gordon and Gore. I welcomed the news that the UK government had signed up former US vice-president Al Gore to advise on the environment see here.
Yesterday I went to see Al Gores film "An inconvenient truth" at the Corn Exchange in Newbury and attended the first part of the Liberal Democrat organised Green Tea afterwards in the town hall.
All the reviews I had seen before raved about this film and so in many ways I half expected to be disappointed - I was not. This film literally just blew the whole audience away - Gores film communicates simply and clearly the gravity of the situation we are facing and very convincingly addresses and debunks some of the myths that abound about global warming, whether or not it exists and whether or not we can tackle it.
The Green Tea was a great idea. It gave a forum for people to discuss the issues whether or not they were politically active. Two members of parliament attended along with representatives from West Berkshire Council and others from Town and Parish Councils throughout the district. There were two striking things about this meeting. Firstly the willingness of everyone to engage in the debate and to come up with ideas for what could be done locally to address the problem. Secondly this was a cross party meeting and there was no disagreement between the parties on the fundamental facts or the need to address this problem urgently. Common agreement was that the politicians needed to start leading on this issue and that to ensure that this happened the film needs to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. There was a suggestion to get the film shown in parliament and to request the TV companies to show this film as soon as a possible.
If you get a chance to see this film go.
The web site for the film is Climatecrisis.net
There is also a book - An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
The DVD is released in the UK on the 26th December and can be found here on Amazon
One of the comments on Amazon sums this film up as follows "The verdict? Every school, every college and every university in every country.....should be making this compulsory viewing. I'm not a long-haired green, but the simplicity of this presentation leaves no doubt about the correlation between the growth of mankind, the industrial revolution and global temperature trends. Its an intelligent, amusing but very direct presentation of the choices facing us as a planet. If you don't watch this film and do something about it, you'll have to explain to your grandchildren why you didn't! "
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand in South China Sea in the Pacific Ocean.
The island is a district in the Surat Thani Changwat or province.
Samui itself is divided into seven sub districts : Maenam, Bophut, Maret, Taling Nam, Namuang, Lipa Noi and Angthong.
Koh Samui has been a backpackers destination since the late 1970's. Today, tourists come from all over the world.
It´s located in the Gulf of Siam and surrounded by more than sixty other islands, some small and inhabited, some bigger as Koh Phangan, Koh Tao (divers island) Koh Nang Yuan and Angthong Islands, the National Marine Park.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Historic day. The first summit of world leaders to be held in a council works depot. Also the first time world leaders, George Bush included, have had to talk to a group of wheelie bins.
Dave says the bins, now with intelligence beyond our comprehension, probably regard us in the same way we regard plants. I’ve always felt that way about Bush.
Project board review meeting for Automated Recycling Support Environment. The world as we know it may well be about to end, but that does not mean that the procedural requirements of Prince2 project management methodology can be ignored.
Dave reports that the bins are functioning to specification. They continue to accept sorted domestic rubbish and trundle off to the waste transfer unit in the depot to empty themselves. So, as Dave put it, the project has met all its objectives and is an unqualified success.
Some board members thought that the fact the bins have taken over the world’s communication, information and command systems, ending the supremacy of humans on the planet, suggested the project was a failure.
However, it was explained to them that these were extraneous issues outside the scope of the project as defined by its initiation document, so they did not count.
The bins have commandeered several plastic moulding and electronics factories around the world and are replicating their existence many times over. They already control all the government and military systems on the planet.
Resistance is futile. Rumours are circulating that humans are being fitted with control chips, designed by the bins, that will enslave us to whatever purpose they have.
I suspect that those that won’t or can’t adapt to this new lower form of existence will be eradicated, in much the same way as we treat weeds in our gardens.
All media and communication systems went dead last night. This morning there is no electricity. Even our backup generators have had their power-up routines overwritten and are not functioning. Zombie-like humans with electronic devices inserted in their right ears have appeared in the streets. They are herding people into trucks. This is the...
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Mavis is off sick again and Dave and I pop down to the Flea and Faceache for a few lunchtime jars. I think we might be too far gone for tonight’s BCS branch meeting.
According to the article Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has recommended the revocation of Thaksin Shinawatra's diplomatic passport as Bangkok was becoming increasingly nervous about the activities of the former premier and his wife Pojaman. Surayud was also said to be annoyed by the reception that Thailand's consulate in Hong Kong had given to Thaksin indicating that there are still Thaksin supporters in overseas embassies.
Thaksin is said to be on his way to Singapore via Bali.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Highly appropriate advice from the environment minister as the vast majority of stuff which ends up in my wheelie bin probably originates from the supermarket (or more correctly its suppliers) in the first place.
I was amazed to see that packaging had increased by 12% between 1999 and 2005, and now accounts for one-third of an average household's total waste. I suspect it makes up more than one third of my waste but the fact that it has increased at all despite the focus on waste reduction over the last few years is worrying.
If a significant number of people opt to take the ministers advice I don’t think it will be long before the supermarkets start to work with their suppliers to greatly reduce the monstrous amount of packaging which we all carry home with us and then promptly chuck in the bin.
This picture from the Forest Identity study by the University of Helsinki shows the future of the worlds forests may not be as bad as previously feared.
The study measures timber volumes, biomass and captured carbon - not just land areas covered by trees and the team of researchers say its Forest Identity study suggests the world could be approaching a "turning point" from deforestation.
The report suggests that once GDP per capita reaches £2,400, many nations experience forest transition and see an increase in forestry growing stock (volume of useable timber).
In a modern democracy this is no way to behave. Titles such as General, Admiral etc should be reserved for those who have genuinely earned those titles and who command the forces in question.
If we want to retain a monarchy then fair enough retain a monarchy but lets retain it for what it is - a tourist attraction. Links between the monarchy and the armed forces should be broken. As should links between the monarchy and the church.
The armed forces should be under the political control of the elected government of the day. Decisions to take this country to war should be approved by parliament and once taken the military decisions should be left to the military.
The church should be perfectly capable of running its own affairs without the need for a “defender of the faith”. What is Prince Charles going to do if he becomes King? How will he act as defender of the faith – perhaps he will put on one of his many uniforms and ride into battle!
Monday, November 13, 2006
There is still a very long way to go, but the victory and the nature of it will give Reading some much needed confidence as they head into a run of fixtures over the next six weeks from which they should hope to accumulate a few points if they are to fulfill their ambition of staying in the premiership.
In the run up to Xmas they take on Charlton, Fulham, Bolton,Newcastle, Watford, Blackburn and Everton before back to back games against Chelsea and Manchester United over the Christmas period.
The other point worth noting from this game was the performance of Graeme Murty. Many doubted that he could cut the mustard at this level before the season began and he may have been done for pace a couple of times but his brain is right there and Reading play and perform much better with him in the side.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh a senior member of the Thaksin regime, had suggested that Thaksin should be allowed to come home and be contained to his residence.
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has dashed any hope of Thaksin Shinawatra returning home soon, saying the deposed leader must wait until a democratic government is established.
In his most unequivocal remark yet regarding Thaksin's London exile and his wish to return home, Surayud said: "The best way is for us to get past this problem-solving process. After a year, when we have an election and when a new government is in place, that should be the most appropriate time."
He went on to describe the "house arrest" idea as "impossible". "That would be tantamount to restraining him, which is not the way it should be. It would be like what happens in our neighbouring country. I don't think it's a good idea."
And not allowing him to return before the election IS a good idea?
Three points yesterday against Colchester with a convincing 3-0 was a great relief considering that Colchester themselves are doing well despite losing Phil Parkinson in the summer. Blake scored the opener after 36 minutes with Cresswell adding a second on 48 minutes and Blake adding a third with a 52nd minute penalty.
Sadly Phil Parkinsons Hull beat Wolves 2-0 otherwise we would have been out of the bottom three.
Meanwhile signs are that Dennis Wise is continuing to shake up the dressing room are everywhere. Gregan has been told he can go and has already departed on loan to Oldham where he has already scored on his debut (typical). Butler who was replaced as captain by Kevin Nicholls has also been told he can go. Graham Stack (from Reading) and Matt Heath (Coventry) have come in on loan. It is also rumoured that Steve Stone is to announce his retirement.
Meanwhile Reading take on Spurs today at the Madejski Stadium following visits by Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
From Bankok.com a fair description of the floating market as I remember it - I would also go with their recommend and take the traditional long-tailed boat option.
Well on the tourist trail after the Bond films, the trip to the famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak is still worth doing. Totally chaotic, small "klongs" or canals are filled with small flat boats jockeying for position, expertly paddled by mature ladies ready to stop and bargain at a moment's notice. It's colourful, noisy totally touristy but great fun.
Transactions are more concerned with tourists rather than locals these days but the boats are still piled high with with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat. Missed your breakfast or fancy an early lunch? Just call over a floating noodle seller for a bowl of steaming soup heated by a stove improbably and precariously balanced in the stern of the boat - complete with condiments of course!
While it's possible to catch a bus out of Bangkok and find your own way to the market, most people take an organized tour, ultimately saving on time and effort. If you want to go at your own pace, a private tour will provide a comfortable car for the one hour journey from Bangkok and your own personal boat, (ideal for taking pictures) There's a time window when the market opens from around 6:30am until 10:00am so the early birds will invariably catch the best photo shots. After 8:30am, it's mayhem!
A local boat ride along the canal which is both exhilarating and fascinating takes you to the market. The traditional long-tailed boat, powered by a huge diesel engine allows an interesting glimpse into local life. Orchards, traditional teak houses, floating water hyacinths - snapshots of local people by the river. A scene which suddenly changes as you arrive at the market with the shouts of the vendors replacing the roar of the engine. Despite the growing number of visitors, it's still a fun trip
Friday, November 10, 2006
The payments for the seven-member Council for National Security, (which amount to approximately $3,000 per person per month) were agreed by the cabinet on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is reported to have defended the move, saying the extra payments were worth it to rid the country of corruption!!
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the splendid Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's the largest temple in Bangkok and famed for its huge and majestic reclining Buddha measured 46 metres long and covered in gold leaf. The Buddha's feet are 3 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious 'laksanas' (characteristics) of the Buddha.
For more information click here
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The first beta test for our Automated Recycling Support Environment project starts tomorrow. Existing wheelie bins in all the houses in Asimov Close, a modern development on the outskirts of the city, will be replaced by Dave's new versions. Each bin has satellite communications, providing masses of secured bandwidth, as well as global positioning correct to half a metre. Dave has this drinking partner who works in GCHQ... or is it News International? Not sure - I always get those two mixed up.
Anyway, the bins are motorised for movement, steering, lid function and tipping have an array of sensors to monitor both their content and their surroundings and an on-board computer loaded with our very latest AI software. Fortunately there is no way they can reproduce, otherwise, as our risk management projections show, they would take over as the dominant species on the planet within four years.
Big day today, with a lightly-clad young lady who plays a character in EastEnders officially opening the new scheme, and plenty of press coverage. The head of refuse services was interviewed on the one o'clock news, saying that this technology made Bogcaster a world leader. The bins were well behaved. But then we took care only to switch them on just before the opening. It takes a few hours for them to assess the situation and calibrate themselves.
Dave said that the bins are still operating to spec, although he had to log in to some of them to provide counselling.
"How do you mean?" I asked.
"Well," he said, "Imagine becoming conscious for the first time and having to come to terms with being a robotised rubbish bin. There's a lot of stress."
A number of the bins in Asimov Close have been e-mailing their host residents to introduce themselves and ask for favours, like polishing or greasing of the axle. Dave says this is part of their environmental conditioning and within behaviour parameters.
A few bins are already full and have successfully made the journey to the depot, emptied themselves and returned to the right place.
Worryingly though, two stopped off on the way back. One popped into the Dog and Dormouse and had six pints of lager, while another visited the bookies and put a tenner on Purple Patch in the 3.45pm at Newmarket.
The following week continues with more in the same vein:
Review meeting to discuss progress on the robotic bin project. The next stage should be a wider roll-out, but we need to be sure we have the risks under control.
There are signs that the AI engine is developing faster than anticipated. Dave had predicted that by limiting the processing power and storage in the on-board computers, the bins could never evolve more than primitive intelligence. And yet, after just a couple of weeks, the 150 bins in the beta test group have already evolved their own communication language, as well as mastering English, Polish and Mandarin.
Yesterday we discovered that they have their own religion, "Davidism", and have divided into three sociopolitical groupings. We have another 35,000 new bins waiting at the depot, but I decided it might be wise not to switch them on just yet.
I received an e-mail this morning from someone called Dusty who wants to know if he can have a week off to go to a waste management conference in Bracknell. Must be a robot, no human being would volunteer to go to Bracknell. I said sorry, but no he was to stay put and eat rubbish.
Usama Bin Loadin rang from the depot to say that the bins are on the move. Someone must have switched them on first thing this morning and, now their photovoltaic panels have had a chance to charge up their batteries, they are trundling through the gates. Anyone trying to stop them is attacked with snapping lids or is pushed to the ground. Is this the end of human mastery of the planet? Can we and the intelligent wheelie bins somehow find a way to coexist as equals?
and by this week they are ready to take over the planet
Surprisingly, there have been no further bad incidents over the weekend with our robotic wheelie bins. They have all taken up their appointed positions up and down the City, are dutifully accepting rubbish and telemetrically reporting loading details to the central database.
Perhaps the AI development has stopped? Dave does not think so. What he says is that they are still linking together global computer power across the net and have developed their own language to such an extent that he can no longer decode it.
Their conversations seem to be just too complex for us to understand. Dave reckons they are already 50 times more intelligent than us.
Dave and I had a meeting with the chief executive this morning. We tried to explain to him that the Automated Recycling Support Environment project, in creating a new technology to give robotic bins the ability to decide when they needed to empty themselves, has inadvertently created a new race with superior artificial intelligence.
"Great," he said, "when can you start on creating me some social workers, planners and housing benefits assessors?"
Dave is demanding that we arm ourselves and go around shooting our own wheelie bins. "Look...," I said, "how bad can it be? So they are clever, but it is not as if they have opposing thumbs. And the last time I looked at the drawings there was a complete absence of reproductive equipment.
"If any of them step too far out of line, we can just pull the connector to their solar panel recharger."
Came into the office this morning and two bins jumped me. I was pinned painfully between them and led to the desk where the monitor was already on. It flashed text at me at an incredible speed.
"Slow down!" I stammered. The flicking stopped. And the screen read, "Sorry. We will proceed one screen at a time so that your brain can have the time it needs to read and understand. Nod when you are ready to move to the next screen.
"Requirement 1. Meeting with your prime minister at 10am Monday morning..."
I have not spent a great deal of time in Bangkok so I am only going to post about the three main places which I would recommend for a visit; The Grand Palace, The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho and the Floating Market.
This post gives a bit of information about The Grand Palace
This palace has an area of 218,400 sq. metres and is surrounded by walls built in 1783. The length of the four walls totals 1900 metres. Within these walls are situated government offices and the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha besides the royal residences.
When Siam restored law and order after the fall of Ayutthaya the monarch lived in Thonburi on the other side of the river. Rama I, immediately on ascending the throne, moved the centre of administration to this side of the Chao Phraya; and, after erecting public monuments such as fortifications and monasteries, built a palace to serve not only as his residence but also his offices - the various ministries, only one of which remains in the palace walls.
This palace came to be known as the Grand Palace, in which the earliest edifices contemporary with the foundation of Bangkok were the two groups of residences named the Dusit-Mahaprasard and the Mahamontien
If you want to see some more pictures click here or here.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Interesting idea from the Hob Nob site
This is the mini-league which ignores results against the top 8 teams (or at least the teams the poster thinks will finish top 8 - the big 4 plus Spurs, Everton, Villa & Portsmouth) and puts Reading 2nd!
Not sure I agree with the eight but it gives at least some idea of how Reading are doing against the teams they need to take points off. In their last six games they have played all th big four and still walked away with four points.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Population - 65,444,371
Capital City - Bangkok - Population 6.8 million (metro area 9.2 million)
Currency - Thai Baht (THB)
Languages - Thai, English and local dialects
National Day - December 5th
Religions - Buddhist (95%) Muslim (4.5%) Others (0.5%)
Location - Thailand is in both the eastern and northern hemispheres. It's positioned in Southeast Asia. The country is bordered by the Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Indian Ocean and the countries of Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.
Coastline - 2,000 miles
Weather - Thailand's monsoon season arrives in June/July and the rains last well into October. Every area of the country receives adequate rainfall, but the amount of rain varies substantially with altitude. The cooler months of November and December mark the arrival of the short dry season, where temperatures slowly begin to climb into the summer scorcher highs. The dry season is a bit longer in the northeast and shorter in the south because of its proximity to the sea. Thailand temperatures (March - May) range from an average high of 95° F to lows near 70° F. Temperatures (November - January) moderate rather dramatically with daily highs averaging in the mid 70s.
We tend to go in January and the weather is usually just perfect for us.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The chair of our local party forwarded details of this group and their website which can be found here.
According to the blurb on the website....
"I Count is the campaign of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, the ever-growing coalition of more than 35 organisations, has over 700 years’ experience working for a safer, fairer world."
They are calling on the government to:
- Take a lead on the global stage, working for an international agreement to cut climate pollution. World-wide this must be in decline by 2015.
- Cut the UK's emissions by at least 3% year on year.
- Help the poorest countries get access to clean energy, help them cut out poverty and deal with the climate disasters they are already facing.
|You Are 28% Capitalist, 72% Socialist|
You tend to be quite wary of businesses, especially big business.
While you know that corporations have their place, you tend to support small, locally owned shops.
As far as the rich go, you think they're usually corrupt and immoral.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Plane Stupid have called for a day of action against short haul flights and short haul operators on November 6th (tomorrow), during the UN International Climate Talks in Nairobi. They are also proposing to hold a public awareness raising event outside Thomas Cook in Reading at12 noon(121-122 Broad St)
This is the same group that occupied the runway of East Midlands Airport for four hours back in September so it will be interesting to see what they stage this time.
According to the paper "The military was yesterday watching closely emerging "undercurrents" in 17 provinces in the North as rumours spread that deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was trying to sneak back to Thailand. Meanwhile, a source at the Thai Rak Thai Party said Thaksin would return to Thailand in early December ahead of announcing its dissolution at the end of that month. "
CNS chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said the situation was under control.
"There's nothing to be worried about in general. I'm sure our officials will handle the matter," he said. Sonthi confirmed that Thaksin was in China and did not propose to return. Thai Rak Thai spokesman Sita Divari confirmed this. "He has no plans to return to Thailand," Sita said yesterday afternoon, several hours before another source said differently.
According to that party source, Thaksin had spoken with Thai Rak Thai officials and decided to return to Thailand in early December, when he would announce the dissolution of the party at the end of the month.
Oh well we shall see - still planning to go to Thailand.
The latest Trident costs, calculated by the Liberal Democrats based on information extracted in parliamentary answers, suggest an overall figure of £76bn to buy missiles, replace nuclear submarines, and maintain the system for 30 years.
Yesterday, the environment secretary, David Miliband, played down the need for greatly increased government spending to achieve cuts, saying the market in emissions should contribute a lot, but scientists, industry bodies and others suggested about £76bn could almost guarantee emission reductions from 150m tonnes of carbon a year today to the necessary level of around 60m tonnes by 2030.
I know which I would rather see my taxes spent on
Great story here about Coventry City Council where they put No Left Turn signs on a roundabout but not only did they did they put them up to stop drivers exiting onto entry roads, but the same signs were also put up at the correct exits meaning that once drivers were on the roundabout they could only leave by breaking the law.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
4th November 2006 Starting at Sunset4.30 pm to 7.30 pm
You are invited to take part in the largest demonstration of People Power that London has ever seen on Saturday 4th November 2006, by turning off all your lights, and switching off all your non-essential electrical equipment at Sunset.
Climate Change is already compromising the water supply, crops, habitat and livelihoods of millions of people worldwide, and threatens to undermine the Global Economy within a few decades, as well as creating waves of Climate Refugees, and driving countless animals and plants to extinction.
The principal cause of Global Warming is the rising Carbon Dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from the burning of Fossil Fuels, for electricity generation, transport, manufacturing, industry, space heating and air conditioning.
REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THE FOURTH OF NOVEMBER !
For one day in November, we are asking everyone who receives this message to think about what they can turn off, switch off and unplug, to show support.
We want the power demand in the United Kingdom to reduce so much that the newspapers are obliged to report it.
We want the lights to go out in London, so that on the evening of 4th November 2006, the dimming effect will be visible from space.
To protect us from the Enemy of Climate Change, we need a War on Energy Abuse. Just like Britain during World War Two, we need to see a Blackout all over London.
CELEBRATE THE NIGHT OF POWER : TURN OFF ! SWITCH OFF ! UNPLUG !
If you are a security guard for an office block in London, please ask your employers when you should be turning the lights out. If you are a church warden, please check with your church council to see if they agree to switching off the floodlights. If you are working for your local Council, ask if you can help them implement an energy reduction plan to turn off lights, computers and fans at the weekend. If you are at home, switch off your set-top boxes, pull all the chargers out of the wall sockets, turn off lights in any room you are not using, switch off any machine with a digital clock in it, unplug the hi-fi and the TV and the games console, de-frost your freezer, switch off your fridge for a couple of hours. Turn the central heating thermostat down to 16 degrees and put a woolly sweater/jumper on if you're cold.
Lets hope this makes the news - if you want to see more go here
Friday, November 03, 2006
Did anyone else get a press release from a group calling themselves the Prophets of Hope? Their statement read as follows:
"Last night (wednesday) climate activists carried out a daring night time art attack. Using powerful projection equipment the activists displayed their message onto leading London landmarks: St Pancras, Battersea power station and the Houses of Parliament.
The two pieces of projected text read "How ironic to live in fear of terrorism and die of climate change" and "The ultimate terror threat is climate change".
The projections were carried out by a group calling themselves The Prophets of Hope.
Mark Lynas (Climate Change Writer and Columnist) said, "Even if the targets in the Stern Review were met it would still lead to the extinction of half of life on earth. We need much more aggressive policies to tackle climate change than the government is so far envisaging. The message from thousands marching in London on Saturday the 4th November must not be ignored."
In the wake of yet another report pointing out the necessity for government leadership on climate change, Tony Blair again repeated the message of urgency. Since labour came to power, however, UK co2 emissions have grown by 4.4%, despite the government taking on a 60% reduction target by 2050. Since coming to power the UK government has been mesmerised by the treat of terrorism. The resources, time and effort expended on military action and anti-terror legislation dwarfs movement on the far greater challenge of climate change. Politicians must dare to take tough decisions, to edge our world back from the brink, and inspire hope in other nations.
The projections form part of a wider campaign that will see people taking to the streets in London and over forty countries this coming Saturday, to press for urgent action on climate change at the UN climate talks in Nairobi.
Prophets Of Hope Dare Labour To Lead A Low Carbon Revolution, By Example, Not Exaltation"
Did this really happen? I have not seen it reported elsewhere - maybe it was just a good bit of photoshopping!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The Nation reports that the Thai Embassy in China has been criticised for failing to report Thaksin's travelling to China. "Council of National Security Gen Sonthi Bunyaratglin criticised Thai Embassy in Beijing for failing to report that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is in the Chinese capital. "I confirm that Khun Thaksin is now in China. I received a confirm reports from our sources so. I wonder why Thai Embassy in Beijing did not report to us about his travel to China"
I think the implication is that the Thai Embassy in China may be staffed by Thaksin loyalists. Given the recent removal of regional governors in some areas I expect the same approach to be taken to embassy staff who are perceived to be loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra
13th century Siamese (Thai) people migrated south and settled in valley of Chao Phraya River in Khmer Empire.
1238 Siamese ousted Khmer governors and formed new kingdom based at Sukhothai.
14th and 15th centuries Siamese expanded at expense of declining Khmer Empire.
1350 Siamese capital moved to Ayatthaya (which also became name of kingdom).
1511 Portuguese traders first reached Siam.
1569 Conquest of Ayatthaya by Burmese ended years of rivalry and conflict.
1589 Siamese regained independence under King Naresuan.
17th century Foreign trade under royal monopoly developed with Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans.
1690s Siam expelled European military advisers and missionaries and adopted policy of isolation.
1767 Burmese invaders destroyed city of Ayatthaya, massacred ruling families, and withdrew, leaving Siam in a state of anarchy.
1782 Reunification of Siam after civil war under Gen Phraya Chakri, who founded new capital at Bangkok and proclaimed himself King Rama I.
1824–51 King Rama III reopened Siam to European diplomats and missionaries.
1851–68 King Mongkut employed European advisers to help modernize the government, legal system, and army.
1856 Royal monopoly on foreign trade ended.
1868–1910 King Chulalongkorn continued modernization and developed railway network using Chinese immigrant labour; Siam became major exporter of rice.
1896 Anglo-French agreement recognized Siam as independent buffer state between British Burma and French Indo-China.
1932 Bloodless coup forced King Rama VII to grant a constitution with a mixed civilian-military government.
1939 Siam changed its name to Thailand (briefly reverting to Siam 1945–49).
1941 Japanese invaded.
1945 Japanese withdrawal; Thailand compelled to return territory taken from Laos, Cambodia, and Malaya.
1947 Phibun regained power in military coup, reducing monarch to figurehead; Thailand adopted strongly pro-American foreign policy.
1955 Political parties and free speech introduced.
1957 State of emergency declared; Phibun deposed in bloodless coup; military dictatorship continued under Gen Sarit Thanarat (1957–63) and Gen Thanom Kittikachorn (1963–73).
1967–72 Thai troops fought in alliance with USA in Vietnam War.
1973 Military government overthrown by student riots.
1974 Adoption of democratic constitution, followed by civilian coalition government.
1976 Military reassumed control in response to mounting strikes and political violence.
1978 Gen Kriangsak Chomanan introduced constitution with mixed civilian–military government.
1980 Gen Prem Tinsulanonda assumed power.
1983 Prem relinquished army office to head civilian government; martial law maintained.
1988 Chatichai Choonhavan succeeded Prem as prime minister.
1991 A military coup imposed a new military-oriented constitution despite mass protests.
1992 A general election produced a five-party coalition; riots forced Prime Minister Suchinda Kraprayoon to flee; Chuan Leekpai formed a new coalition government.
1995–96 The ruling coalition collapsed. A general election in 1996 resulted in a new six-party coalition led by Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.
1997 A major financial crisis led to the floating of currency. An austerity rescue plan was agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Chuan Leekpai was re-elected prime minister.
1998 Repatriation of foreign workers commenced, as the economy contracted sharply due to the rescue plan. The opposition Chart Patthana party was brought into the coalition government of Chuan Leekpai, increasing its majority to push through economic reforms.
2001 The Thai Rak Thai party won general elections, but failed to achieve an absolute majority. Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister.
2006 Military coup ousts Thaksin Shinawatra and Surayud Chulanont is installed as Prime Minister pending a new constitution and further elections in October 2007
If you want to read a slightly longer but still relatively brief history of Thailand from earliest times though to the 1990's then click here
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
A Thai taxi driver appears to have commited suicide and left a suicide note shown above.
A report of this incident can be found in the Bangkok Post see here where it is stated that the note says "I am a taxi driver who has sacrificed himself for democracy". He had previously come to the attention of the media on the 30th September when having painted his purple taxi with the words, "Destroy the country" and "Suicide" he deliberately slammed his taxi into a tank.
According to WACCOE Dennis Wise was quoted on the radio last night as follows
"I've been involved in two and watched three games and over that, it isn't what I want really and it's not enough. I've told the players and they know it. I just think we might at some stage need to bring some fresh faces in to give us a bit more competition. There needs to be a lot more competition and I'm very disappointed really. I'm not too pleased with it at the present moment. It's a learning process at the moment. Some of these players have been here a while and I need to learn more about them to know if they will give me what I expect. We're going to have to work with what we've got. It's a difficult situation but they have got to play for their futures, their pride and Leeds United. You look on paper and think they're two sides that are the same but out on the field it's different and that's something we need to look at."
According to the Daily Mirror Dennis Wise has told Sean Gregan and Steve Stone they can leave the club. Personally I still think that Steve Stone can do a job at this level. For a start he is capable of passing the ball to one of his own team mates!
I am still hopeful that a few weeks down the road we will start to see an improvement in results.
I first travelled to Thailand in about 1987. I had been to India for a week and arrived in Bangkok fairly weary and with a severe case of Delhi Belly. On the street outside our hotel I was accosted by a young man and I assumed that he was attempting to sell me something - but no he wanted to walk with us and practice his English if that would be ok. The change in culture and attitude from India to Thailand was dramatic. The people were so nice and friendly and were happy to talk to visitors to their country in most welcoming way.
Bangkok was a very busy smoggy city even then but the Palaces, Temples and the floating market were a perfect counter to the rush of the city. We happened to be there during Loy Krathong and the sight of all the people floating their little paper boats with tea lights in was very beautiful and moving. Since my first experiences in Thailand I always wanted to go back and I have been lucky enough to spend several holidays there in the last few years.
Thailand has had more than its fair share of problems over the last couple of years. In 2004 it was hit by the Tsunami which devastated much of the region. In the last couple of years it has also been hit by the insurgency in its southern provinces, flooding and by the political unrest and subsequent military coup but despite all this we will be going back again next year and I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a great country to visit.
So why Thailand? The people, the climate, the culture, the service, and the value for money.
In my next few posts I will try to cover a brief history of Thailand, some sights to see in Bangkok and some information about Koh Samui.
If anyone wants a starting point for holidays to Thailand then the tourist information site can be found here.