Links for March 12th

Cyprus conflict closes leaders’ eyes to water shortage

Water has been rapidly disappearing in Cyprus since the 1970s, but conflict between Turkish and Greek communities means fixing the problem is not high on the political agenda. Alex Bell finds that Cypriots are now struggling for control of land that is slowly dying.

Atheists meet in Melbourne to celebrate lack of faith

More than 2,000 atheists from around the world are gathering in Melbourne, Australia, to celebrate their lack of religious belief.

It is thought to be the world's largest gathering of atheist thinkers.

They plan to issue a statement on what they say are the negative effects of religion on society.

Leaked documents: UK record industry wrote web-censorship amendment

Last week, the UK LibDem party was thrown into scandal when two of its Lords proposed an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill that would allow for national web-censorship, particularly aimed at "web-lockers" like Google Docs and YouSendIt. Now a leaked document from the British Phonographic Institute suggests that the amendment was basically written by the record industry lobby and entered into law on their behalf by representatives of the "party of liberty."

Leeds University Students’ Union refuses to show Fitna

If you've been reading this blog today, you might have seen that I've been engaged in a strong debate on the post below about the merits of right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who's in town today to show his anti-Islam film at the House of Lords.

Funnily enough (perhaps they'd been reading my earlier post, I don't know), just this afternoon I received an email from the secretary of the Leeds University Atheist Society telling me about how Leeds University Students' Union banned the society from screening Fitna at an event.

BBC News – Internet access is ‘a fundamental right’

Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

The survey – of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries – found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.

Expiration dates mean very little

There's a filet mignon in my fridge that expired four days ago, but it seems OK to me. I take a hesitant whiff and detect no putrid odor of rotting flesh, no oozing, fetid cow juice—just the full-bodied aroma of well-aged meat. A feast for one; I retrieve my frying pan. This is not an isolated experiment or a sad symptom of my radical frugality. With a spirit of teenage rebellion, I disavow any regard for expiration dates.

The fact is that expiration dates mean very little. Food starts to deteriorate from the moment it's harvested, butchered, or processed, but the rate at which it spoils depends less on time than on the conditions under which it's stored.

Australian copyright society blows more than it gives to artists

The Copyright Agency Limited, an Australian copyright collecting society (an organization that collects money on behalf of authors for use of their copyrighted works) is spending more than they give to authors on their own salaries and expenses. The Chief Executive is paying himself AU$350,000 a year out of the money that he is meant to serve as trustee for. They've also paid for staff junkets to China and Barbados out of the sums. All told, the staff are spending AU$9.4 million a year, and giving the creators whom they are meant to serve AU$9.1 million per year.

The Bleakest Day for Homeopathy

The much anticipated House of Commons report into the Evidence Check on Homeopathy has now been published and it may well be the report that changes the face of homeopathy in the UK. But more than that, its implications will also be felt around the world.

In a thorough appraisal of the issues and evidence that will become required reading for any health official looking at the public funding and provision of homeopathy, the MPs conclude,

By providing homeopathy on the NHS and allowing MHRA licensing of products which subsequently appear on pharmacy shelves, the Government runs the risk of endorsing homeopathy as an efficacious system of medicine. To maintain patient trust, choice and safety, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments, including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products.

Grow Onions from Discarded Onion Bottoms

This Instructable outlines how to grow fresh onion plants from discarded onion bottoms that would otherwise be thrown in the trash. You can theoretically create an endless supply of onions without ever having to buy bulbs or seeds, and if you're as big of an onion lover in the kitchen as I am, you'll have a full bed of onions in no time.

Fish Pie

Fish Pie

Fish Pie, originally uploaded by rutty.

10/365

Ten days into trying to take a photo a day for a whole year and I’m already taking photos of me tea!

Still. I like food so expect to see a few of these, especially if I’m hiding from the impending Snowpocolypse (still to arrive) and not getting out and about.

This is one of our favourite dishes – fish pie. I made it with sliced new potatoes on top rather than mash. I’ve also added a dash of Nando’s medium peri peri sauce for a bit of spice – works quite nicely

Links for February 17th

  • BBC – Newsbeat – Technology – Sky to replace 90,000 HD boxes -

    Thousands of Sky+ HD customers are to have their boxes replaced after a fault was discovered by manufacturer Pace.

  • Food intolerance test – Watchdog -

    Julia Bradbury went under cover to reveal how a ‘food intolerance’ test available from high street gyms, spas and chemists is a waste of money.

    It’s called the Kymatika K-Test and is marketed as a ‘revolutionary’ non-invasive way to diagnose food intolerances. The test costs on average £30, and, according to the company that developed it, is the culmination of three and a half years of dedicated research.

    However, when Julia took the test twice in the same afternoon, she got very different results.

  • Facebook terms of service compared with MySpace, Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter -

    With today’s outrage over Facebook’s newly altered Terms of Service at its peak, I figured I’d do a quick comparison of their terms of service as regards user-uploaded content to the terms specified by other social networking sites, just to see if said outrage is fully justified. It looks as though the finger-pointing at the Bush robots.txt file wasn’t justified, for instance, and I was guilty of spreading that story.

    Conclusion? Go ahead and be outraged. Facebook’s claims to your content are extraordinarily grabby and arrogant.

Return of the pie

We’ve been eating mostly healthy food over the last several months and so a previous staple of my diet has mostly disappeared: pies.

I love pies – savoury or sweet. They’re the pinnacle of pastry-topped food and I love them. I just haven’t been eating them very much recently.

However, I managed to revisit Pie Heaven today during a visit to the rather excellent Bottle Kiln. This is a lovely old pottery that’s been turned into an artsy shop with a café and Japanese garden. The menu is very simple, and a little expensive, but delicious. I had a large slice of ambrosia topped with shortcrust pastry – an utterly delicious pie with pork, stuffing, leek and apple. I even had the mixed salad – it was lovely and I normally hate salad!

Jo and I needed cheering up today and this was just the ticket. A little bit of luxury.

I’m not clairvoyant but I’m not seeing too many pies in my immediate future. It matters not, though, as I can still taste this one. Lovely.