How to stop your baby

After my recent baby-related musings I’ve been almost constantly thinking of ways to use Velcro as a home safety product. You know, there are all sorts of ways to use this wonder product.

I think that one of my ideas could be a winner.

Once baby starts to crawl there are all sorts of potentially injurious situations for your ankle-biter to find itself in. One of these danger-zones is the stairs. Parents up and down the country install gates with fiddly catches that are difficult to open even for adults. These stupid things are clumsy solutions to this most dangerous of baby problems.

I have a better solution: the velcro “cattle” gate.

I know what you’re thinking: “WTF are you talking about?” However, bear with me for a tick.

Rather than installing gates at the top and bottom of stairs, simply attach a few strips of Velcro across the entrance and exit of the staircase. Then, and this is the crucial bit, sew more Velcro onto your child’s clothing, preferably across the arms and stomach. If Baby gets too close to the stairs then they become stuck, unable to free themselves with their weak, chubby arms.

Simple and elegant, no? In much the same way that a farmer stops his cows from eating his crops with a cattle grid, baby is not able to pass into danger due to the power of Velcro.

I love Velcro

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Baby-related thoughts

Our baby is due mid-September and we’ve been looking at prams and carseats for the little tyke. These things cost a bloody fortune  and just browsing through the various systems on display in Mamas and Papas offends my Yorkshire sensibilities.

However, I’ve had an epiphany.

These carseats don’t last ten minutes. Babies grow and before you know it you need a bigger carseat, then boosters. The expense just builds up and up. There has to be a better way.

Velcro.

Velcro could be my saviour. I reckon I could just buy a few strips of that stuff and attach it to the upholstery in our car in some fashion. Then all I would have to do is modify a few baby outfits to attach Baby Rutt to the aforementioned upholstery. It’s an ingenious system, I think. As Baby Rutt grows into Toddler Rutt we will just need to attach some more Velcro to newer outfits and away we go.

I’ve not seen a system like that in Mothercare but I bet it’s possible. It’s certainly worth giving it a try.

Excellent timing

I finished work at 2pm today (early shift) and got in the car to come home. I figured I’d like to listen to something half decent on the drive back and decided, wisely, to not bother with Radio One.

I selected Iron Maiden – Powerslave on my iPhone and plugged it in. The first, classic chords of Aces High set me on my way.

I love this album. When I were a lad (Yorkshire colloquialism there) I had a mate called Kev, and he got me into Iron Maiden, Saxon and AC/DC. I bought Live After Death, which inevitably led me to getting Powerslave. Both albums remain among my favourites, but there’s something amazing about Powerslave; it’s probably one of just a handful of albums that are perfect five stars all the way in iTunes.

Anyway, I headed up the M69 to Two Minutes to Midnight and pulled off the M1 near the start of Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Now, Mariner may well be my favourite metal tune of all time. It’s got everything: pompous, overblown lyrics, incredible guitars and a helium-fueled singer at the height of his powers. This song is amazing.

I had a fantastic drive back. The sun was out, BMW drivers were (mostly) courteous and I was only barged out of the way once by White Van Man. Powerslave was my lucky talisman today, and by an astonishing bit of luck I just happened to pull up outside our house just as Bruce was warbling the final refrain:

The mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell this tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.

And the wedding guest’s a sad and wiser man
And the tale goes on and on and on.

Now, obviously Taylor Coleridge wasn’t up on evolution so I’ll ignore the Creationist nonsense in the lyrics and just admire the general awesomeness of Iron Maiden’s magnificent creation.

Links for April 16th

UK ‘has the worst copyright laws’

UK copyright laws “needlessly criminalise” music fans and need to be updated, a consumer watchdog says.

UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed, says Consumer Focus.

The call came after global umbrella group Consumers International put the UK in last place in a survey of 16 countries’ copyright laws.

Secret filming nurse struck off

A nurse who secretly filmed for the BBC to reveal the neglect of elderly patients at a hospital has been struck off for misconduct.

Margaret Haywood, 58, filmed at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for a BBC Panorama programme in July 2005.

She was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council which said she failed to “follow her obligations as a nurse”.

EC starts legal action over Phorm

The European Commission has started legal action against Britain over the online advertising technology Phorm.

It follows complaints to the EC over how the behavioural advertising service was tested on BT’s broadband network without the consent of users.

Last year Britain had said it was happy Phorm conformed to European data laws.

But the commission has said Phorm “intercepted” user data without clear consent and the UK need to look again at its online privacy laws.

Fool disclosure

What we have seen in these past few days is another rattle in the slow, but eventually complete, death of privacy. In the developed world, whenever there are at least two people in a room, it’s a statistical near-certainty that one of them will have a camera, and the means to instantly upload photos to the web. Increasingly, it’s becoming likely that they’ll also be able to upload sound and video too.

Saudis ‘to regulate’ child brides

Saudi Arabia says it plans to start regulating the marriage of young girls, amid controversy over a union between a 60-year-old man and a girl of eight.

A court in Unaiza upheld the marriage on condition the groom does not have sex with her until she reaches puberty.

The power of the child within

Under pressure or on our own, we often hear songs or poems we’ve learnt by heart as a child. Remembering helps us cope in extreme and dangerous situations, but why?

“It was all in my head – my father would play the piano and I would have a mental party in the hole in the ground.”

That hole was where Peter Shaw was held captive for five months in 2002, after being kidnapped while working in Georgia for the European Commission. The businessman from South Wales was chained around the neck and kept in the dark almost constantly.

It’s hard to imagine how people survive in such extreme conditions, but those who’ve been through such stressful situations say reciting a childhood song or poem helps.

I’ll tell you what really offends me

I was deeply offended by something on the BBC recently. It wasn’t Clare Balding laying into a jockey’s teeth, but this time with a cricket bat, or Frankie Boyle’s 10 best jokes about the Queen’s genitals, or even a repeat of Diana’s funeral with an added laugh track. No, it was a new low.

It was Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, eliciting a round of applause on Any Questions for suggesting that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should pay the BBC’s “Sachsgate” Ofcom fine. The rest of the panel bravely agreed with her.

David Mitchell talking a lot of sense. Sometimes government – any government, not just ours – makes me despair

Venezuela’s giant rodent cuisine

While in many countries the Easter dish may be lamb, in Venezuela a traditional delicacy around this time of the year is the capybara, the world’s biggest rodent.

The capybara is a distant cousin to the common guinea pig but bigger and river-based like a beaver.

Many Venezuelans regard the semi-aquatic creature as more fish than meat – a useful description during Lent when it is eaten as a replacement for red meat in this largely Roman Catholic country.

Links for April 10th

To Newspaper Moguls: You Blew It

The Newspaper Association of America is meeting in San Diego this week and they’re preaching up at their own choir loft with angry, self-righteous fire and brimstone about their plight. They need to hear a new message, a blunt message from the outside. Here’s the speech I think they should hear:

You blew it.

Free-access World Digital Library set to launch

Libraries and archives from around the world have come together in a project to share their collections of rare books, maps, films, manuscripts and recordings online for free.

Almost four years in the making, the World Digital Library will launch on 21 April, functioning in seven languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – and including content in additional languages. A prototype of what will be on offer includes a voice recording of the 101-year-old grandson of an American slave, a 17th-century map of the world and 19th-century Brazilian photographs.

The brainchild of James Billington, from the US’s Library of Congress, the project has been developed by Unesco and the Library of Congress, along with 32 other partners from around the world, including national libraries from Iraq, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Uganda.

How can DRM be good?

Here’s a thought. I just had lunch with someone who works for a broadcaster and is wrestling with the idea of distributing content online and we both agreed that what’s missing from the whole DRM debate is a strong case for “just enough DRM”.

Phorm eyes launch after hard year

Online advertising firm Phorm is pressing ahead with plans to launch more than a year after it first drew criticism from some privacy advocates.

Phorm executives will meet with members of the public on Tuesday, following a similar meeting in 2008.

The service has proved controversial for some campaigners who believe it breaks UK data interception laws.

”Lap-dancing nun’ performs for Church

Anna Nobili is no ordinary nun.

The 38-year-old used to be a lap-dancer, and spent many years working in Italian nightclubs.

She is now using her talents in a rather different way – for what she calls “The Holy Dance” in a performance on Tuesday evening at the Holy Cross in Jerusalem Basilica in Rome, in front of senior Catholic clerics including Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s Cultural Department.

Miss Nobili told the BBC World Service that the transformation from podium lap dancer to nun happened gradually.

No use crying over spilt ink

It’s the end of the party, the booze is all finished, almost everyone has gone home, and the rest are too drunk to make conversation. You decide to call it a night and, bidding your host farewell, you step over a pool of vomit and make your way out of the flat, heading for the stairs. It’s then that you hear her. The fat girl half way down the stairs, sobbing her fat little eyes out. You know the one – she’s always there, at the end of every party you’ve ever been to.

Science IS imagination

People don’t understand science.

And I don’t mean that your average person doesn’t understand how relativity works, or quantum mechanics, or biochemistry. Like any advanced study, it’s hard to understand them, and it takes a lifetime of work to become familiar with them.

No, what I mean is that people don’t understand the process of science. How a scientist goes from a list of observations and perhaps a handful of equations to understanding. To knowing.

And that’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful thing.