Friday, October 29, 2010

This Is How Many Deer There Are In The UK

Over one and half million deer in the UK. Wonder where they all are?

This Is How Many Deer There Are In The UK

A contributor going by the name of Snowhawkeyeone answered the question I posted yesterday on the BBC Nature UK website messageboard asking how many deer there are in the UK.
I was prompted to ask because of hearing Chris Packham say in AutumnWatch Unsprung, that 350,000 deer are culled in the UK annually.
The article states that there are more than 350,000 red deer, more than 800,000 roe deer, 150-200,000 fallow deer, more than 150,000 muntjac deer, approximately 35,000 sika deer, and approximately 10,000 Chinese water deer.
That’s a total of around one and a half million deer in the UK.
I guess that most of the 350,000 deer that are culled annually are roe deer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bisphenol Found In Plastic Bottles Kills Sperm

I have said for a long time that if you can smell the plastic of a plastic bottle, then you are going to ingest the plastic that the bottle is made of.

Have you ever noticed how vile-tasting some plastic bottles are? Just to put a bottle to your lips is enough to transmit that acrid, bitter, invasive plastic.

Putting warm or nearly hot food in a plastic container is even more of a bad idea.

But hang on a moment - this surely isn't the first time I have heard about Bisphenol A....

Oh yes, it's all coming back to me. It was the Nalgene bottle scare back in 2008 before they took bisphenol A out of their bottles, as reported in a million sites including this one:
So what is 'new' in 2010?

Can any manufacturer say in 2010 that 'Oh my, we didn't know it was dangerous.'
Amplify’d from
A controversial chemical found in plastic bottles, soda cans and many other common products appears to adversely affect sperm in men, according to new research.
The study of more than 200 Chinese factory workers found that those who were exposed to bisphenol A, or BPA, were more likely to have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality. The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, is the first to produce evidence that the chemical could adversely affect sperm quality in humans.
"This adds additional human evidence that BPA is bad," said De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., who conducted the study with funds from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. "The general public should probably try to avoid exposure to BPA as much as they can."
After long maintaining that BPA is safe, the Food and Drug Administration in January reversed itself, saying it was concerned about the compound's health risks, especially in the development of fetuses, infants and young people.
In the meantime, many manufacturers have pledged to take BPA out of baby bottles, water bottles and other products, and a handful of jurisdictions across the country have banned BPA from baby products.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nikon Small World Images

These are all images of microscopic-size objects - animals, plants - and they are well worth wasting/spending some time on.

Times and Sunday Times Online Subscriptions – Yes Or No

I don't buy into the model that says that subscriptions to online versions of print newspapers will keep newspapers alive. I think they will hasten the death of print. And I like print. So I shall not be subscribing to the Times and Sunday Times Online. Am I swimming against the tide? Here is make the case for the foldable, crushproof, easy-to read reader - formerly known as the newspaper.
Amplify’d from

Times and Sunday Times Online Subscriptions – Yes Or No

And somehow I think that if I were to subscribe to a model that I don’t want to be caught up in – namely TASTO – I will be hastening the death of print journalism.
There was also a leaflet for Mature Offers – Special Deals For The Over 50s that I hardly glanced at, and there was an invitation to take out a subscription to the Times and Sunday Times online (TASTO from now on in this article).
I just opened the copy of the Radio Times that arrived on our doormat and there is a heartbreaking leaflet from Save The Children that I will talk about another time.
I know there is a counter-argument that runs something like – online will help support and maintain traditional print journalism. I don’t believe it.
I think the model is wrong.
I often read a Guardian article in the print newspaper and then look it up online. The online version is usually abbreviated. It’s useful to link to if I want to spread the word about something – but the print version is better.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Has Everyone Seen These? Red Riding Hood Demise

The page layout on the website is as lovely as the photos - well worth a look.

Screencasts Online

I've been a ScreencastsOnline member for a couple of years now so I know how good his reviews and tutorials of Macs, iPads, applications, etc, are.

ScreenCastsOnline Offer – Get In The Draw For A Macbook Air

Don McAllister of ScreencastsOnline emailed me today to invite me to become an affiliate. I don’t know why he hasn’t had affiliates before because his shows are certainly share-worthy.
He writes about Macs, iPhones, iPads, and all things Apple, including programs and applications that are tailored to the Mac.
His screencasts are not dumbed down and they are immensely practical. They are explanations, reviews, and tutorials all rolled into one on how to get the best out of a piece of Mac hardware or an application.
Come to think of it, you don’t need to take my word for how good his reviews are. Several of the leading application software houses use his reviews in their websites.
There Are Some Free Episodes Too
There are also quite a number of episodes that are freely available to non-members and I suggest you watch a couple of those because you will get a good idea of just how good and how easy to watch and understand his tutorials are.
I just checked and the affiliate commission is 30%, so I hope lots of people click and take out a subscription.
One more thing, Don is offering an 11 inch Macbook Air to one lucky member and the draw is on November 30. You are going to be in the draw if you sign up before that date.

In The End We Will Conserve Only What We Love

Says it all - "In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

His other blog is at and is well worth a read.
DrTom's Field Biology

(An "Old and in the Way" project)
For inspiration, I could cite dozens of insightful, even moving, passages from the great Aldo Leopold.  In fact, my graduate advisor at the University of Arizona, Lyle Sowls, was one of Leopold's last grad students; I have, therefore, a sort of academic lineage with the man.  But my favorite quotation on conservation is by Baba Dioum, the Senegalese environmentalist:

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

I believe this statement is as true today as it was when Dioum first uttered these words in a speech over 40 years ago.  His message has guided my teaching of natural history for most of my adult life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Genomes, Genes, And Gene Therapy

There was an article in the Sunday paper about Ozzy Osborne having his genome sequenced. 
Last night there was the first in a new drama series about a man who finds out after his wife's death that he may not be the father of all of their children - and he is given a DNA kit so he can find out.

Then on the TV tonight there was a programme about gene therapy and how the future is shaping up.

It seems to be gene-talking time.

And I am thinking that with billions of items in the genome sequence it seems remarkable that there are not more mutations in the pairing and copying process as each new person is made.

I recall someone I knew a long time ago (he had a mouse named after him) mentioning that mice have a high rate of mutation in their offspring. Why, and why don't humans?
What is the answer -  redundant circuits - longer gestation for faults to kill off the mutant? Something else?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Price But Not The Value

Polly Toynbee writes "The glee club on the government benches could hardly contain their delight. Even Iain Duncan Smith smiled as £18bn was hacked from his budget. How Jeremy Hunt beamed with pride at the 30% he had cut from the arts funds while gouging the BBC."
Why the surprise from everyone? - Their plan from the start -generations ago - has been to hack apart everything that belongs to us all and to sell it to their chums.
Amplify’d from
The price of everything was laid out, but not the value of anything about to be destroyed. The glee club on the government benches could hardly contain their delight. Even Iain Duncan Smith smiled as £18bn was hacked from his budget. How Jeremy Hunt beamed with pride at the 30% he had cut from the arts funds while gouging the BBC. What the governor of the Bank of England calls the "sober decade" began with unsuppressed smirks of satisfaction.
These were cuts beyond the dreams of Margaret Thatcher, an £83bn shrivelling of the state drawn from a Chicago School economic blueprint. How cleverly the man who re-invented his party as nice, green, caring and socially concerned has used the crash to turn it into a radical neo-liberal cutting machine. What's more, so far he has done it with public approval: 60% say this brutality is necessary.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ryan Block Asks About The Mac App Store

I am interested in what others on Amplify think of Ryan Block's opinion here.
Further into the article (it's quite a long article) Ryan says:
"The universe of desktop apps that the average person will pay for has shrunk. For me, the consumer desktop software that tends to get me to pull out my wallet is stuff I can try out first, and it tends to be a little more esoteric. It’s the kind of software that gets down and dirty in fixing, changing, or extending stuff in ways Apple doesn't, like Growl, Perian, Smartsleep, Stay, TimeMachineEditor, MagicPrefs, Default Apps, and Cinch. Naturally, these are the areas where Apple's stringent rules and need for control come into play. Here are some examples of App Store rules that would apparently exclude some of my favorite (paid) apps on the Mac App Store:
2.6 - Apps that are "beta", "demo", "trial", or "test" versions will be rejected
2.18 - Apps that install kexts will be rejected
2.26 - Apps that are set to auto-launch or to have other code automatically run at startup or login without user consent will be rejected
6.5 - Apps that change the native user interface elements or behaviors of Mac OS X will be rejected"
Will the Mac App Store have enough to sell?
Apple bringing the App Store to the Mac was a pretty obvious move -- I know I’m not the only one who was predicting it would happen sooner or later, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this is going to have a huge impact for some Mac software developers. But what happens when Apple’s growing need for control over its ecosystem meets the inexorable trend of software migrating to the cloud? Will there even be much left to sell in an App Store in a few years?
The real issue with the desktop software market is that (unless you're talking about productivity software) there just isn't all that much consumers need to buy anymore. The boxed software business didn't die because of app stores, it died because of an overabundance of great programs that are free, open, or otherwise subsidized that are available through other web or internet services. To put it another way: lately, how often have your parents bought software for their computer (that wasn't Microsoft Office)? Read more at

Friday, October 22, 2010

"On Nov. 12, Google will turn off 800-GOOG-411 forever." via @SkiCat56

What you never had, you never missed. But here is a very good run-down on what you soon won't have and what you can get instead for a free, voice-activated directory-assistance service.
Great article - and it's his (where is the underline pen?) article - not a mash-up - from his own fair brain. [Ignore me - I am having one of those days as the autumn nights draw in]

Farewell, GOOG-411

Oh, it’s a sad day in techland.
On Nov. 12, Google will turn off 800-GOOG-411 forever.
It was one of the best, juiciest, most useful services in all phonedom. It didn’t cost anything. It didn’t require a smartphone. Its accuracy was uncanny.
In case you missed it, GOOG-411 is a free, voice-activated directory-assistance service. You say the business name or category you want—“Freestyle Gym,” “taxi,” “Sakura restaurant,” “hospital,” whatever — and the city and state. In one second, the guy’s voice starts reading a list of the best eight results.
Anyway, if you intend to soldier on in the post-GOOG-411 world, here are your options:

Another Photo From David Noton

Another quote from David Noton - about cameras: "As with our images simplicity is the key. The old style dial for exposure modes on the top left of the 5D mkII is far more practical then the tedium of scrolling through menus. The important stuff like mirror lock needs to be immediately accessible, not buried in the menus. And generally speaking the bods who design our cameras need to know that we do use them in the cold, in high winds, in the dark and with gloves on."

David Noton Photograph

Quote: "The light was to die for; crystal clear, golden and pure at that altitude. It felt like all of South America was spread out below; Lake Titicaca sparkled, the altiplano stretched away to the south, and the snowy mass of the Andes reared to the east as the sun set over Peru"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Background Image in Blogger Templates

This is a screen-grab of the Blogger Template Designer.

I wanted to add a background image to this blog, which is easy to do. Just click on 'Background' and then click on the template you are using and that will bring up options to choose a background that is sitting in Google's repository, or to upload your own image.

I uploaded an image that was a plain color overall except for the printed words down the left side. I made the image and uploaded it.

Where were the words? I couldn't see them.

That's when I noticed something I had not noticed before.

See the little white square within the larger outline of a square? Mine was set with the white square at top middle. So the design was hidden behind the content.

I clicked to move the white square to top left and - Bingo!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Almond Bread - Benoit Mandelbrot

"Mandelbrot attended the Lycée Rolin in Paris, but was not a good student; it was said that he never learned the alphabet (he could never use a telephone directory, for example), nor his multiplication tables past five.
Despite his poor performance at school, he found that he had a quite extraordinary ability to "visualise" mathematical questions and solve problems with leaps of geometric intuition rather than the "proper" established techniques of strict logical analysis. "

Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot, who died on October 14 aged 85, was largely responsible for developing the discipline of fractal geometry – the study of rough or fragmented geometric shapes or processes that have similar properties at all levels of magnification or across all times.

In a seminal essay entitled How Long Is the Coast of Britain? (1967), Mandelbrot showed that the answer to that question depends on the scale at which one measures it: the coastline grows longer as one takes into account first every bay or inlet, then every stone, then every grain of sand.
First in isolated papers and lectures, then in The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982), which has sold more copies than any other book of advanced mathematics, Mandelbrot argued that most traditional mathematical and classical geometric models were ill-suited to natural forms and processes. "Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line," he wrote.
Benoit B Mandelbrot (he awarded himself a middle initial, although it stood for nothing) was born on November 20 1924 in Warsaw, Poland, into a family of Lithuanian Jewish extraction. His father made his living selling clothes while his mother was a doctor, but the family had a strong academic tradition and, as a boy, Mandelbrot was introduced to mathematics by two uncles.
In 1936 Mandelbrot's family emigrated to France where one uncle, Szolem Mandelbrot, a Professor of Mathematics at the Collège de France, took responsibility for the boy's education. Mandelbrot attended the Lycée Rolin in Paris, but was not a good student; it was said that he never learned the alphabet (he could never use a telephone directory, for example), nor his multiplication tables past five.
Despite his poor performance at school, he found that he had a quite extraordinary ability to "visualise" mathematical questions and solve problems with leaps of geometric intuition rather than the "proper" established techniques of strict logical analysis. After the war he passed the entrance exams for the École Polytechnique, achieving the highest grade in Algebra by "translating the questions mentally into pictures".

You couldn't make this stuff up: Heroin smuggler DEA informer terrorist (via @ProPublica)

So he turns out to be a terrorist - Pakistani father and American mother. DEA informer after being caught as a drug smuggler - and the DEA thought he was a good choice as an informer? It beggar's belief

Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA

Federal officials acknowledged Saturday that David Coleman Headley, the U.S. businessman who confessed to being a terrorist scout in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was working as a DEA informant while he was training with terrorists in Pakistan.
Federal officials, who spoke only only on background because of the sensitivity of the Headley case, also said they suspect a link between Headley and the al Qaeda figures whose activities have sparked recent terror threats against Europe.
Headley is the son of a Pakistani father and an American mother. He became a DEA informant in the late 1990s, after he was arrested on heroin charges. His U.S. wife told investigators that he told her that he started training with Lashkar in early 2002 as part of a secret mission for the U.S. government. On Saturday, a federal official said Headley’s work as an informant appears to have lasted until sometime between 2003 and 2005.
Another federal official said Headley was a DEA informant in “the early 2000’s.”
“I couldn’t say it continued into 2005, but he was definitely an informant post-9/11,” the official said.
In March, Headley pleaded guilty to charges of terrorism in the Mumbai attacks and to a failed plot to take and behead hostages at a Danish newspaper. He is cooperating with authorities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Look So Fat Here

I am sure that many people will take comfort in knowing that looking like a stick insect is not a reflection of the style of the last few years but something that was around when Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and other curvy figures were the epitome of sexy.
I guess 'Joan' from Mad Men can credit herself with single-handedly moving the goalposts for a whole new generation.
Apropos Mad Men, last night's episode her in the UK [Don gets an award for Glo Coat] was a good chance to see Jon Hamm - an actor with real range - at work.

Hide This Please

Ransom Riggs over at mental_floss has created a nice post of found snapshots. "One thing I’ve found a lot of," he writes, "is photos where people have written deprecating things—usually about themselves—on the back. 'I look so fat here!' is a shockingly common theme; I guess people were as concerned with their weight (and as self-conscious about pictures of themselves) fifty and sixty years ago as they are today."
I agree with him about the poignancy of the "sad and plain" one (the plaintive cry of the self in the world), and "Pardon the beak!" is funny.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This is an article my wife wrote on her experiences drinking tea in Korea, India, and England

It is also a history of how tea came to be introduced into England and how it changed the social milieu in which women could enter an establishment to drink a beverage - and do so alone.

Tea Stories From The East To The West

A Gift Of Tea
A Hymn To Korean Tea
I drank a cup of tea and watched the flowing and stillness.
Quietly and naturally I seemed to forget the return of time.
The Korean monk Cho-ui wrote this in 1837 in one of his set of poems called The Hymns To Korean Tea. This and his Tea Spirit Message created seven years earlier encouraged a tea revival in Korea, a country where the first historical records documenting the use of tea date date back many centuries to 661 AD.
Since that time, Korea has created tea from different sorts of materials including fruits, leaves, grains, and roots – the latter of which I encountered in the guise of ginseng tea when I lived in the country for several years during the 1990s.

How the production designer of 'Eat, Pray, Love' chose the color palette for the settings

It became clear right away that Bali would be represented by the blues and greens of the water, and the sky reflected in it, and the tropical foliage that covers the island. Bali is where Liz finds balance in her life, and water seemed to be the perfect metaphor.
Was it natural for you to consider depicting New York as a stony, cold world dominated by a grey palette?

Is There A Heaven For Pumpkinheads?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

See The Visual

Pelitarmgral - No More News

Pelitarmgral - no more news. Not seen since July and unlikely to be seen with the unaided eye, A sailor who is used to taking a night watch might see it in the right conditions - otherwise, who knows?

'CMS from Scratch' - easy, FREE solution for web designers to make a back end for their customers

If the demo video is anything to judge by, it looks good.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

'A List Apart' surveyed 'What kind of people build websites?'

Old or young, freelancer or tethered to a company, many years in the job or less than a week, work all hours God sends or balance the laptop next to the cocktail on a beach - it's all here.
Once again, A List Apart and you have teamed up to shed light on precisely who creates websites. Where do we live? What kind of work do we do? What are our job titles? How well or how poorly are we paid? How satisfied are we, and where do we see ourselves going?

Lead Investigator Of Team That Announced CCD Due To Disease Was Paid By Bayer

Ouch, it is revealed that the lead investigator in the study that just published results concluding that colony collapse disorder (CCD) is due to the combined effect of a virus and a fungus.... was paid by the insecticide company (Bayer) that is blamed for producing insecticide neurotoxins that cause disorientation and weakening of the immune system in bees!
FORTUNE -- Few ecological disasters have been as confounding as the massive and devastating die-off of the world's honeybees. The phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) -- in which disoriented honeybees die far from their hives -- has kept scientists, beekeepers, and regulators desperately seeking the cause. After all, the honeybee, nature's ultimate utility player, pollinates a third of all the food we eat and contributes an estimated $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the U.S. economy.
The long list of possible suspects has included pests, viruses, fungi, and also pesticides, particularly so-called neonicotinoids, a class of neurotoxins that kills insects by attacking their nervous systems. For years, their leading manufacturer, Bayer Crop Science, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG (BAYRY), has tangled with regulators and fended off lawsuits from angry beekeepers who allege that the pesticides have disoriented and ultimately killed their bees. The company has countered that, when used correctly, the pesticides pose little risk.
A cheer must have gone up at Bayer on Thursday when a front-page New York Times article, under the headline "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery," described how a newly released study pinpoints a different cause for the die-off: "a fungus tag-teaming with a virus." The study, written in collaboration with Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center outside Baltimore, analyzed the proteins of afflicted bees using a new Army software system. The Bayer pesticides, however, go unmentioned.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Art Event In Leeds This Evening - Cardboard Gramophones

Sent from my iPhone

Nosema and Mites Combination: Colony Collapse Disorder In Honeybees

There are digested articles with commentaries on this study, here in this article by Bee Culture

The Magazine Of American Beekeeping

and from the English newspaper The Telegraph - with comments from the English Beekeeping Association

Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline

These findings implicate co-infection by IIV and Nosema with honey bee colony decline, giving credence to older research pointing to IIV, interacting with Nosema and mites, as probable cause of bee losses in the USA, Europe, and Asia. We next need to characterize the IIV and Nosema that we detected and develop management practices to reduce honey bee losses.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do Not Reveal Password? Do Not Pass Go: Go Straight To Jail

Man Jailed For Refusing To Tell His Password To Police

I saw a short news item yesterday on page 7 of the The Guardian newspaper.
The news item credited the Press Association with the original report and stated that a young man from Lancashire (no point in repeating more of his details here) had been jailed for four months for refusing to give police the password to his computer.
Apparently the man was arrested last year and his computer seized by police “tackling child sexual exploitation” but that they had been unable to access the data on his computer because it was protected by a “sophisticated password”.
Comment And A Question
Did the man refuse to hand over the password as a matter of principle?
Did the man weigh up the likely outcome of officers seeing what was on the machine compared to the penalty for refusing to hand over the key and decide that to refuse would invoke the lesser penalty?
Did it surprise you, as it did me, that there are encryption keys out there that the police cannot crack?

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Hello, Goodbye: Offsite Redirect Upgrade

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Color Matching

"Result: Circle B still appears lighter than circle A. " - but the truth is...

Color: Why close enough is good enough

| by John McWade
As with most things graphical, there’s a short answer and a long answer. The short answer: Pantone’s Solid-to-Process guide (now called Color Bridge) will give you the closest CMYK to a given Pantone solid. But that represents a small fraction of the millions of possible CMYK mixes. Rogondino’s Process Color Manual will give you 24,000 printed CMYK swatches, which will get you in the ballpark, but it’s still relatively few.
But here’s the thing to know: You don’t need a perfect match. Even if you could roll her wall paint right onto her business card, they wouldn’t look the same.
(Above) Which circle is darker, A or B? You fuss getting your two greens just so, then a shadow crosses the wall. What happens? Our minds compensate for the shifting light. Result: Circle B still appears lighter than circle A. Your swatch book, however, will tell you that color B is both darker and grayer (below).
The takeaway: Get your colors as close as you can, but don’t sweat perfect. Close enough really is good enough.