Back to the Firebug theme

I’m currently having a few problems with my admin backend (not a euphemism) caused by my preferred theme. Something broke along the way to WordPress 2.8.2 and it’s the Woothemes-written theme that’s causing some problems on the create post page.

I can’t add tags or upload media, so I’ve decided to roll back to a previous theme for the time being.

Is it just me or is my use of the English language completely messed up in this post? That’s clearly a product of lack of sleep rather than any programming issues…

Links for July 29th

It’s all about Science Envy

Fellows of the Discovery Institute seem to be over represented in fringe groups, Paul Nelson is a Young Earth Creationist, the Godfather of Intelligent Design Phillip Johnson and DI fellow Jonathan C. Wells have signed on to AIDS denial and Guillermo Gonzalez has signed on to a climate change denialist list.

Topically, given the debate about science communication that has been happening in the wake of of “Unscientific America”, in a recent article William Dembski dives into the whole Global Warming Denialism thing

Wireless power system shown off

A system that can deliver power to devices without the need for wires has been shown off at a hi-tech conference.

The technique exploits simple physics and can be used to charge a range of electronic devices.

Eric Giler, chief executive of US firm Witricity, showed mobile phones and televisions charging wirelessly at the TED Global conference in Oxford.

He said the system could replace the miles of expensive power cables and billions of disposable batteries.

When science is reduced to a game, anyone can play – The Irish Times – Thu, Jul 23, 2009

THIS WEEK marks the 40th anniversary of the historic first moon landing in July 1969. Or does it? Conspiracy theories have persisted over the decades, with books, websites and even organisations dedicated to “uncovering” Nasa’s gigantic hoax, writes JOHN GIBBONS

Laughable? Yes, but these theories are difficult to refute precisely because of the impossibility of proving a negative.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon, said last week he felt sorry for the “gullible people” being taken in by this nonsense. The fact that millions earnestly believe this stuff is neither trite nor trivial.

Putting the rock into Morocco

Heavy metal is known as rebel music – and that is particularly true in Morocco.

“Metalheads” have been accused of being devil-worshippers, and even locked up because of their passion.

But Youssef Benseddik, a student who heads the heavy metal group Atmosphere does not seem particularly rebellious.

Sensible advise about swine flu

The media are falling over themselves regarding swine flu. There are plenty of stories scaring us all into thinking that there are going to be tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the disease this coming winter, and it’s difficult to sort the facts from the fiction.

I worry about my pregnant wife. She’s obviously at a higher risk than most from this but she’s also asthmatic, making any infection more dangerous.

Luckily for me I follow Annabel Bentley on Twitter. She posted a link to one of her blog posts on just this subject. Some parts of the medical establishment seem to think that pregnant women should just stay at home and watch TV rather than mix with the infected hordes, or either wear a facemask.

My wife, a nurse of significant standard, has told me no end of times that these masks are a complete waste of time. Once your breathe on them they get wet, thus allowing whatever bacteria or virus you’re trying to avoid to enter into your lungs virtually unimpeded.

Annabel gives some very sensible advice:

The bottom line is that hand and respiratory hygiene measures are the best ways to reduce the risk of H1N1 flu in pregnancy. The conflicting messages about masks and staying at home dilute the key messages to everyone about hand washing, sneezing and disposing of tissues. So, perhaps when leaving the house, pregnant women would be better advised to take some soap or alcohol hand gel with them, rather than a facemask, and use it to clean their hands regularly.

This is something that the government, to their credit, have been saying all along. It’s just a shame that the message has been lost amongst a whole bunch of scaremongering by people that should really know better

Amsterdam. It’s anarchy!

Well, Amsterdam is an anarchistic, cesspool of corruption if you’re in the American religious right:

This makes you wonder just how many of these idiots have even been to Amsterdam. I’ve not been but the UK is close enough for me to know several people that have. They’ve all said that it’s a beautiful city full of laid-back, intelligent, friendly people.

I’m sure it’s not quite as utopian as the video suggests but it’s high on my list of places to visit.

One thing is clear: Bill O’Reilly and the dimwits from his Fox show just do not have a clue.

(found on that other cesspool of corruption: Pharyngula)

Life begins at when?

Well, bugger me. You turn your back for a few minutes and life suddenly creeps on you and shouts “Happy 40th birthday, you old bastard!”

I was 40 back in June (not that I blogged about it, mind) and my lovely, lovely wife Jo spent a lot of time, effort and money in throwing me a surprise 40th birthday party last Saturday.

My sister, brother-in-law and nieces were over here from Canada and it was fantastic to be able to celebrate with them. My Dad and Stepmum were also there, along with various friends from work and band, plus (and this really did make my day) some good, good friends from way back.

My bestest mate ever was there. Chaz ( we were Chaz and Dave back in the day!) and his wife Andrea made it to the party. I’ve known Chaz since we were about six or so, and we went to all the same schools and lots of extremely geeky things in his parents attic. Happy days, and it was such a brilliant surprise to see him there.

There were also some good friends from back in my RAF days. Howie and Avril plus Elaine and her family – people I met in my early twenties and just love to bits. So pleased they could make it!

It was great to see my two sisters-in-law plus family too. For the first time we had all four nieces together in the same place! Two of them are called Hannah, which is rather confusing.

Anyway, I had an amazing time. I’m such a lucky fella to have a wife as amazing as Jo. By all accounts she had a stressful time arranging it all but she did a fantastic job and everyone had a lot of fun, especially my work friends who liked to boogie (yeah baby).

I had a great-looking cake too. It was shaped like the number 40 (just to reinforce my advancing decrepitation) and decorated with an iPhone and an iMac. I’m such a geek (though not as much as Chaz).

My fellow banders played a few jolly tunes when I arrived too. I love brass bands and I was chuffed to bits that they were there, especially when they played Hello Dolly – one of my favourite tracks. I do like to sing along you know.

Thanks to everyone that came. It’s not often that I have so much attention paid to me but I loved it. Just this once (although it’d be great to have another surprise party for my 50th…)

Links for July 6th

Coffee ‘may reverse Alzheimer’s’

Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease, US scientists say.

The Florida research, carried out on mice, also suggested caffeine hampered the production of the protein plaques which are the hallmark of the disease.

Previous research has also suggested a protective effect from caffeine.

Historic Bible pages put online

About 800 pages of the earliest surviving Christian Bible have been recovered and put on the internet.

Visitors to the website http://www.codexsinaiticus.org can now see images of more than half of the 1,600-year-old Codex Sinaiticus manuscript.

Fragments of the 4th Century document – written in Greek on parchment leaves – have been worked on by institutions in the UK, Germany, Egypt and Russia.

Experts say it is “a window into the development of early Christianity”.

The truth at Last, in which Paul Carr is reminded that, while comment is free, facts can be a real pain in the arse

It all started on Friday when a story appeared on Techcrunch concerning music recommendation service Last.fm. Back in February, Techcrunch ran a story alleging that Last.fm had passed listening (or “scrobbling”) data to the RIAA, the trade body representing American music labels. The story came from an anonymous source close to CBS who, apparently, was subsequently fired (leaving them slightly less close to CBS).

Love at no sight

In a looks-obsessed world, are blind people immune to appearances when they fall in love? As a new film looks at how sight-impaired people find romance, Damon Rose who is blind, says you don’t have to be sighted to be shallow

Couple’s 81st wedding anniversary

Britain’s longest living married couple have celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary.

Frank and Anita Milford, who live together in a nursing home in Plymouth, Devon, exchanged vows on 26 May, 1928.

Frank is 101 and Anita will be 101 next month.

I’m an atheist, OK?

Disagreement over the definition of atheist and agnostic has cluttered up various threads here, scattering confusion in its wake like a muckspreader in autumn.

The cause of the confusion is that atheists and theists have different definitions of the words agnostic and atheist, and adamantly refuse to accept the validity of each other’s definitions.

Here is a short form of the definitions from the two separate points of view.

Theist version: An atheist is certain there is no God, an agnostic is not certain.

Atheist version: An atheist believes there is no God, an agnostic doesn’t know.

The two versions are only subtly different, but a great deal of hot air has been expended on this difference.

When the new becomes old

Even the new gets old – and that includes the Internet, says regular columnist Bill Thompson

Irish church knew abuse ‘endemic’

An inquiry into child abuse at Catholic institutions in Ireland has found church leaders knew that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions.

It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of institutions.

Schools were run “in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff”.

Reznor takes a byte out of Apple

Apple has reversed a decision blocking a Nine Inch Nails (NIN) iPhone app.

The application – nin: access – was rejected last week on the grounds it had “offensive or obscene content”.

Nin: access allows users to access streamed music and video content from the NIN homepage, including a song called The Downward Spiral.

The band’s frontman, Trent Reznor, accused Apple of double standards – the song could be bought on iTunes – and a few days later Apple relented.

Web tool ‘as important as Google’

A web tool that “could be as important as Google”, according to some experts, has been shown off to the public.

Wolfram Alpha is the brainchild of British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram.

The free program aims to answer questions directly, rather than display web pages in response to a query like a search engine.

The “computational knowledge engine”, as the technology is known, will be available to the public from the middle of May this year.

Surveillance fears for the UK

The UK is risking sliding unwittingly into a police state because of the growing use of surveillance technology, says security guru Phil Zimmerman.

“When you live in that society and it changes incrementally over time you are less likely to notice the changes,” he told the BBC. “But if you come from outside the picture as it stands is more abruptly visible as something wrong.”

Agency denies internet spy plans

The UK’s electronic intelligence agency has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement to deny it will track all UK internet and online phone use.

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) said it was developing tracking technology but “only acts when it is necessary” and “does not spy at will”.

The denial follows the home secretary scrapping plans for a single government database for all communications.