Wednesday, November 24, 2010

While Buddhism Meets Our Spiritual Needs

I must just be having one of those days, but something about turning religion on its head and saying that it meets their spiritual needs sounds to me akin to saying that food does, or drink does, or drugs do, or exercise does - and it is both open and frank and at the same time so person-centered that it realigns the relationship with the divine.

Ah, third eye opens - all is clear now - must get back to work.
Three of the 14 members of Japan's kabaddi team at the Asian Games are reportedly monks, while five others have graduated from a Zen Buddhist institute.
"Training in kabaddi makes our bodies stronger and healthier, while Buddhism meets our spiritual needs," the Beijing Daily quoted Japan's team leader Kokei Ito as saying.


Readability Of Coloured Text

Good for designers - originally from one of the points raised in 100-things-you-should-know-about-people 100 Things
Colour Text Legibility
Experiment with readability of coloured text over a coloured background. Move the sliders to see the effect of colour changes. The ‘seems good’ tick should tell you that the text is legible.
Use the sliders or the colour picker to see the legibility of a text colour over a background colour. For the sliders, thanks to Erik Arvidsson

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Article On Leeds Linked By Guardian Newspaper

My article is entitled 'The Best Of Leeds: Poverty And Grandeur' and that is the name of the Guardian's article, more or less.

I owe the title to a to-and-fro with my wife Tamara, who suggested a variation on that title after she edited my draft. {She edits my articles and I edit hers - it's how we work.}

So if there is any credit due for the title that the Guardian liked enough to copy, then the credit is due to Tamara and much as to me.
Amplify’d from

Leeds today: Poverty and grandeur, Leeds arts debate and news hub event

A round-up of today's news and views with help from the city's best websites and blogs
The Best Of Leeds: Poverty And Grandeur, is a post by David Bennett over at the Quillcards blog.Read more at

To Serif Or Not To Serif

Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces?

In an effort to get at the truth, I reviewed over 50 empirical studies in typography and found a definitive answer.
What initially seemed a neat dichotomous question of serif versus sans serif has resulted in a body of research consisting of weak claims and counter-claims, and study after study with findings of “no difference”. Is it the case that more than one hundred years of research has been marred by repeated methodological flaws, or are serifs simply a typographical “red herring”?

Why We Do The Things We Do

There is no other motivation other than to have the relationships we want.

Why We Do The Things We Do

The point of doing the things we do is to be in the relationships with other people that we want. This applies to obvious things like drinking alcohol and to not so obvious things like whether we become entrepreneurs or work in an office or become a sales rep or a travel agent or a travel guide.
There is no other motivation. Money is not a motivation: It is a route to setting up a scenario where we can have the relationships we want to have.
The only failure is to do nothing. Even here, there may be a scenario we are chasing – the down and out – the dissolute – the hobo – that we may find by doing nothing.

47 Mind-Blowing Psychology-Proven Facts

This is too long, too good, and too excellent for me to snap anything other than the intro paragraphs.

I humbly suggest that you read it - it's well worth it - from

47 Mind-Blowing Psychology-Proven Facts You Should Know About Yourself

100 things you should know if you are going to design an effective and persuasive website, web application or software application.
Or maybe just 100 things that everyone should know about humans!
a series called 100 Things You Should Know about People. As in: 100 things you should know if you are going to design an effective and persuasive website, web application or software application.

Or maybe just 100 things that everyone should know about humans!

Monday, November 22, 2010

In late October Russian Investigators Seized...

Spammers and phoney pharmacies - from

A great deal out there

The flow of spam is disrupted, briefly

AN OMINOUS message remains on the home-page of Spamit, once one of the world’s prolific sources of junk e-mail: “Le roi est mort! Vive le roi!”. In late October Russian investigators seized computer equipment from the apartment of Igor Gusev, who has repeatedly denied being the man behind Spamit. His whereabouts is unknown.
Spamit’s business model, by contrast, is well understood. Its closure coincided with a steep drop in global e-mail volumes. But outfits of this kind do not themselves clog in boxes. They build legal-seeming sites to take orders and credit-card information. In Spamit’s case these were mostly “Canadian” online pharmacies which in fact shipped bogus Viagra and other popular pills from China or India.
The spam itself comes from “affiliates”—groups of criminal freelancers who are paid a high commission on every sale they generate. They send the spam from “botnets”, networks of hacked personal computers. Some of these were controlled by servers hosted on McColo, a Silicon Valley firm, until internet-service providers forced it in 2008 to shut them down. That briefly cut global spam volumes in half (see chart). Armenian police last month arrested Georg Avanesov, who is alleged to have operated a botnet of nearly 30m PCs.
Such disruptions may cut spam but will not put the lucrative phoney pharmacies out of business. Last year Dmitry Samosseiko, a researcher at Sophos, which sells computer-security equipment, found that the average value of an order was $200. With such money on the table, affiliates will find new ways to get through users’ defences—and the spam king, or a suitably counterfeit version, will be back.

Bayer And Bees: Hero Or Villain

Read this and you would think Bayer was the hero coming to rescue bees from varroa mites.

But read this article I pieced together a little while ago and you will see Bayer may be the cause of colony collapse disorder, not its saviour.


Bayer CropScience To Study Colony Collapse Disorder

WINCHESTER, United Kingdom -- Bayer CropScience recently acquired a product to control of varroa mites (Varroa destructor) from Exosect Ltd., Winchester, United Kingdom. The acquisition allows Bayer CropScience to study and produce bee health solutions and to commercialize new bee health products worldwide, according to the company.
The product is based on the innovative Entostat technology, a food grade powder refined from a natural wax which is sustainably harvested from a particular species of palm tree, combined with the miticidal active ingredient thymol, according to the press release.
“Bayer is aware of its responsibility as a producer both of crop protection products and of bee health products”, said Dr. Franz-Josef Placke, Head of Development at Bayer CropScience in a prepared statement. “Therefore, we are investing in research and development to provide beekeepers with sustainable solutions to improve the health of their bees and beehives.”
The Varroa mite is considered a crucial factor in the decreasing number of honey bee colonies in Europe and North America.


Deeply Offensive

What a crap thing to say - that a marriage will only last seven years. I don't care who he is - that he is a bishop is irrelevant to me - but why make hurtful comments?

A Church of England bishop has apologised for saying he believes Prince William and Kate Middleton's marriage would only last for seven years. Skip related content
The Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, admitted his comments, posted on Facebook, were "deeply offensive".
He said he has passed on his "sincere regrets" to the Prince of Wales and the newly-engaged couple for any "distress" he has caused.
The offending comments contained reference to the Royal Family as "philanderers".
He also described the media furore surrounding the wedding as "nauseating tosh", likening the Prince and his fiancee to "shallow celebrities".
On the day of the royal wedding announcement the bishop also made derogatory comments on Twitter.
His post read: "Need to work out what date in the spring or summer I should be booking my republican day trip to France..."
But in the statement offering his apology, he said: "I recognise that the tone of my language and the content of what I said were deeply offensive, and I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused.
"It was unwise of me to engage in a debate with others on a semi-public internet forum and to express myself in such language.
I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."
"I wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a happy and lifelong marriage, and will hold them in my prayers."

The Best Of Leeds Architecture

From the back-to-back houses of the workers to the grand arcades -

The Best Of Leeds: Poverty And Grandeur

Leeds Arcade
The Roof Of Kirkgate Market In Leeds
Library Staircase - Leeds
See more at

Friday, November 19, 2010

Government Gives Environment Minister 100 Million Reasons To Sell Forests

Oh the poetry and the rewards of the ‘planned sequential sales of the forestry estate’

Treasury gives Defra £100 million ‘bonus’

THE Treasury has awarded Defra a £100 million ‘bonus’ for agreeing to an early settlement on its spending cuts during the Comprehensive Spending Review, it emerged this week.
Caroline Spelman, the Defra Secretary, said the bonus was a ‘very important feature of our settlement’ when she agreed to cut £661 million from her £3 billion budget over the next four years.  
Under the deal the Treasury will allow Defra to retain all proceeds from the sale of capital assets, such as national forestry and properties that form part of the departmental estate, up to the value of £100 million.
Mrs Spelman added:  “It will be perfectly possible for us to use the proceeds from sales of our assets towards increasing capital spend on flood defences for example.”
Over the course of the next four years Defra anticipates recovering between £30 and 40 million through the rationalisation of the Defra estate, plus tens of millions from the ‘planned sequential sales of the forestry estate’ and ‘possibly’ some more from the Covent Garden Market Authority.
The Treasury has given Defra an added incentive to sell its assets ‘at the right time’ by allowing the department to keep 120 per cent of profits if the sales are higher than the £100 million originally budgeted for.

Tory Peer Quits Over Recession Gaffe

Now here's an interesting question: Did he have to fall on his sword because he didn't paint a dark enough picture to satisfy the coalition government's contention that things are so bad they have to sack all the menials?

Tory peer quits over recession gaffe

A Conservative peer has resigned as David Cameron's enterprise advisor after claiming that most Britons have "never had it so good". Skip related content
In a newspaper interview, Lord Young of Graffham said the Bank of England's decision to cut base rates to a record low of 0.5 per cent since March 2009 had left many home-owners up to £600 a month better off.
He told the Daily Telegraph the swingeing Government cuts announced last month would only take state spending back to the levels of 2007, when people were not "short of money".
Lord Young wrote to the Prime Minister to "apologise profoundly" for his "inaccurate and insensitive" comments, saying: "I deeply regret the comments I made and I entirely understand the offence they will cause."
Mr Cameron, who has accepted Lord Young's resignation, said earlier: "He has given a very strong apology and I have said very clearly he doesn't speak for the Government, he is not part of the Government, and he should be doing a lot less speaking in the future".

Working Out The Price

The principle is simple: take a product that is ubiquitous and market-aware and price sensitive in the countries in which you want to sell. Find out what it sells for and use that as your price converter.
And the products he suggests using?

Big Macs from McDonalds - and for higher value items he suggests iPods.

How would you determine the price of a product or service for multiple countries?

  • You could go through each country and work out a value.
  • You choose a base currency and do real time conversions.
  • You could use comparable item counting.
Product Counting - (Finding a product similar to your own and using its price in each country to set your own.) The problem is that the product has to be the same in each country, and it doesn't account for import costs.
So how do burgers help? Well, let's start with an example:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Caroline Spelman Speaks With Forked Tongue On Forest Sell-Off

With a hat-tip to Horticulture Week

I have just read the article in the Guardian by Environment Minister Caroline Spelman. Please read the article in which she says - No we are not selling off the forests and yes we are selling them off but there will be safeguards blah blah blah

Setting the record straight on the sale of England's woodlands

The idea of England's woods being sold off piece by piece to developers is enough to chill anyone's heart. It would certainly chill mine. Thankfully, it is not going to happen.
This is no fire sale by a cash-strapped state. We think it's much better to give individuals, businesses, charities and local authorities the chance of a much bigger role in protecting their natural environment – and, frankly, those who live closest are most likely to protect it.
Putting more woodlands into alternative ownership will not lead to a free-for-all of golf courses, holiday parks or housing developments – I imagine local planning departments would have some strong views and use a range of safeguards to prevent this happening. Any proposals for development will come before the town and country planning process.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Even The Telegraph Worries About Caroline Spelman And Our National Parks

The Telegraph newspaper - bastion of Tory thinking - [well written though] asks what is it with Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, who speaks up for the environment in the international arena and wants to sell of our forests and defang the guardians of our National Parks in England.
I ask the same. What is it with Caroline Spelman? 
And I answer - my intuition tells me she is a died-in-the-woold tory who wants to return England to its feudal roots; begin a new round of the Enclosure Acts by stealth, and pave the way for the government to sell the best bits to her chums' chums.
Oh the polarisation of English politics heralds a new reinvigorated day for satire. Bring it on and - Out With The Tories.

Does conservation stop at home?

The Environment Secretary seems intent on weakening our national parks and stifling criticism, says Geoffrey Lean.

What is it with Caroline Spelman, the new(ish) Environment Secretary? She seems enthusiastic about conserving wildlife and beautiful landscapes, just not at home.
By all accounts, she was a hero of this month’s UN conference in Nagoya, Japan, which secured a new agreement to protect biodiversity and wild places – including measures to strengthen and extend national parks.
Back in Blighty, however, Ms Spelman has set about weakening our national parks in a consultation document that threatens to give economic development within them the same importance as conservation. Whereas most countries make their parks inviolable wildernesses, ours have benefited from sympathetic farming, but it’s a delicate balance which Miss Spelman threatens to upset.
Her department’s new business plan also promises to defang the wildlife and countryside watchdog, Natural England, by depriving it of the power to address policy. Taken with a similar restriction on the Environment Agency and her abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, this removes all sources of independent advice and – as ministers admit is the point – criticism.
Miss Spelman believes policy should be monopolised by her department because it is “democratically accountable”. Of course she does. This move could only be welcomed by those who think the man (and woman) in Whitehall knows best.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tarnished Earth - The Tar Sands Of Alberta Are Weeping

In pedestrianised Briggate in the center of Leeds there is an exhibition by the Co-op 'working with Greenpeace' featuring about two dozen huge photographs by Jiri Rezac of the wonderful endless lakes and forests of Northern Alberta and the encroaching ruin of it by the extraction of oil from tar sands.

The Co-op thinks its a catastrophe in the making.

Who would have thought it about those nice Canadians.

It involves running pipes for miles deep into the forest, stripping off the forest and the peat (the 'overburden' as that is called) and then pumping hot water into the tar sands to liquify the oil and then pipe it away.

It involves ruining an area the size of Switzerland and then spreading the toxic waste water wherever that eventually finds a home.

And it's on tribal lands that are treaty-bound to be left alone.

They are taking 1.3 million barrels a day out of the tar sands and there are 170billion barrels of oil in the tar sands still to be extracted - second largest oil reserve in the world.
The co-operative presents
Working together with WWF Working together with Greenpeace
Tarnished Earth: an exhibition of devistating power
Tarnished Earth is a dramatic street gallery of photographs by Jiri Rezac telling the story of one of the world's biggest ecological disasters.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Come Out Fighting In The Big Tweet-Off

Two great contenders, one hour and one hotly debated topic - after the first twenty minutes of the contestants slugging it out, it’s your turn to join the debate – start your tweets with either B (for blue corner) or R (for red corner), state your oppinion and don’t forget the #bigtweetoff hashtag

We are living in a Twitter bubble…

…well, I think so, but my good friend Adam Vincenzini thinks otherwise, which is why we’re putting on our gloves, and coming out fighting.
Here are the details:
Let’s get ready to rumble! It’s a #CommsChat co-organiser special!
Over in the blue (comms) corner is Adam Vincenzini, who lives his life through Twitter. In true fighting spirit, Adam has even pledged to change his blog, The Comms Corner, blue for this week only.
In the red corner is Emily Cagle, comms consultant, blogger, and gadget-obsessed Apple fan. Emily loves Twitter, but she’s not afraid to put it in its place.
Two great contenders, one hour and one hotly debated topic.
Want to be part of the The Big Tweet Off? Here’s the run down of how it works:
  • On Thursday, 11 November 7.30pm GMT head to Twitter and follow#bigtweetoff
  • For the first 20 minutes the session will be lead by Adam and Emily who will put their argument forward in 140 punches
  • Following this, it’s your turn to join the debate – start your tweets with either B (for blue corner) or R (for red corner), state your oppinion and don’t forget the #bigtweetoff hashtag
  • Of course, Adam and Emily will continue to spar throughout the debate
  • The session will be guided and moderated by @thebigtweetoff which will slap any deviants in to shape – remember, this is a fair fight
  • We will run a Twitt Poll throughout the session for you to vote on the winning argument
  • The bell will ring at 7.30 sharp so dust off your boxing gloves and get training!
Here’s what our contenders said:
Adam: With the exception of a few bots, Twitter is a people driven destination. How on earth can real people be living within a fake bubble? They’re human and have feelings whether they’re on Twitter or sitting in the pub sharing a beer. I even met the love of my life through Twitter.
Emily: Want to meet like minded people? Twitter is the place to do it. Why? Because we’re kinda geeky, pretty friendly, we like our tech and we aren’t afraid to share, chat & debate online. Twitter’s great, but it’s not representative of the population as a whole. A Twit Poll tells us what tweeps think, not what people think (oh I met the love of my life on Twitter, too).
To understand the background of The Big Tweet Off, visit our launch posthere. Feel free to shout any questions to @thebigtweetoff@thepaulsutton or@beth_carroll.
Got an opinion you want to fight out in public? Let us know and you could be next in the ring.
Now I don’t want to sound overly confident, but I think we all know who’s going to win. Come join in the fun and be sure you’re in the Read more at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

6.88 Billion People | How many Cameras

Think About This
Oct 30 (commentary)--As of yesterday, there were an estimated 6.88 billion people on the planet. Here are some other estimates to compare that with:
  • 1.7 billion imaging sensors sold this year (~one for every four people)
  • 250 million smartphones with 5mp+ sensors sold next year (~one for every 30 people)
  • 100 million compact cameras sold this year (~one for every 70 people)
  • 12 million DSLRs sold this year (~one for every 575 people)

Friday, November 5, 2010

American voters voted green

Voters Support Clean Energy and Climate Solutions

Yesterday, American voters made plain their anger over the economy and their frustration with the party in power. But they often did something else: they supported clean energy where they could.
California voters defeated an oil industry attempt to undermine the state’s climate law, and most members of Congress who helped pass clean energy and climate legislation in 2009 kept their seats.
The vote in California was particularly significant. This was the first time climate solutions were put to a public referendum. And despite the millions of dollars that fossil fuel companies poured into the race, Californians made it clear they want to build a cleaner energy future.
In his new book, A Force for Nature, NRDC Founder John Adams tells the story of when Newt Gingrich’s 104th Congress overplayed its hand. The Republican leadership loaded the 1996 budget with dozens of anti-environmental riders and told President Clinton they would shut down the government if he didn’t approve it.Read more at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Portrait Photo

Mine -  If you use Stumbleupon and like these photos - follow the link and please 'stumble'.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman Says

Just keeping an eye on what Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is saying about forests because it seems she - as part of the coalition government - both loves the environment and wants to sell off the national forests: From

Spelman hails global biodiversity plan

CAROLINE Spelman, the Defra Secretary, has hailed an historic agreement to protect the world’s most threatened animals and plants. 
The Nagoya Protocol, adopted by nearly 200 nations in Japan last week, aims to halve the loss of natural habitats over the next ten years.
Mrs Spelman was in Nagoya to finalise the agreement. “These have been long and hard negotiations, but we have successfully achieved a new global plan to help protect our natural environment,” she said.
She added: “We have also secured an agreement to link climate change, global poverty and biodiversity together in protecting the world’s forests, which is essential if we are to achieve our aims in these areas.”
Key elements from the Nagoya agreement will be written into the Natural Environment White Paper due to be published in spring 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just keeping an eye on what Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is saying about forests

Just keeping an eye on what Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is saying about forests because it seems she - as part of the coalition government - both loves the environment and wants to sell off the national forests.

Businesses may benefit from sale of forest estate

The Coalition Government has confirmed that publicly owned forestry land will be sold to interested businesses and organisations, despite protests.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Defra) announced that it intends to fundamentally reform the public forestry estate, with private owners and civil society partners taking over a large portion of the Forestry Commission’s land.
Confirmation of privatisation rumours came when Environment Secretary of State Caroline Spelman sent a letter to MPs on Friday.
"We are committed to shifting the balance of power from 'Big Government’ to 'Big Society’ by giving individuals, businesses, civil society organisations and local authorities a much bigger role in protecting and enhancing the natural environment and a much bigger say in our priorities about it," Spelman said in the letter.Read more at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things About Bees

The author of the article in the Telegraph is Dr Reese Halter - a conservation biologist at California Lutheran University and author of 'The Incomparable Honey Bee and the Economics of Pollination'

At the end of her article she states " is tragic that hundreds of billions of honey bees are dying worldwide due to CCD, which many scientists blame on a group of pesticides called neonictinoids..."
Importantly, she has no problem from her expert position in suggesting that neonicotinoids are the cause of CCD (colony collapse disorder).
 You may recall the NY Times article in July

that reported on the work of the team that came to the conclusion that the cause of CCD was the combined effect of the varroa mite and a virus.

Everything looked promising until it was revealed that the lead investigator of the team was paid by BAYER Crop Science - a leading manufacturer of neonicotonids. I amplified that here:

Amplify’d from
honey production is booming in the UK
bees can count to five
whereas sniffer dogs are accurate about 71 per cent of the time, and require at least three months' training, honey bees are accurate 98 per cent of the time, and require less than 10 minutes' training.
The Red Cross estimates that between 80 million and 120 million landmines exist in 70 countries, maiming 22,000 people (mostly children) each year. A system devised by the University of Montana counters this by fitting honey bees with miniature microchips. As the bees fly around, the electrostatic charge from their bodies attracts TNT residue, the explosive component from landmines. Once they return to the hive, this can be detected, and a scan of the chip will reveal the appropriate location.
Honey bees are already being used as early detectors of lung and skin cancers, diabetes and TB, as well as to monitor fertility cycles and confirm pregnancies. Patients breathe into a glass diagnostic tool; when the trained bees detect any of the diseases or hormones, they move towards the tubes that lead closer to the breath. 

England Best-Loved Forests And Woodlands May Be Sold To Large Landowners, housing developers and international

"Tonight, conservationists and opposition parties as well as landowners warned that the land sale would be a costly disaster unless stringent safeguards were put in place." - MY COMMENT >> I wouldn't trust 'stringent safeguards' however strigent, as far as I could throw them. Once the land is in private hands it is gone, gone, gone.
As for any idea that the poor innocent government that must do this right for the benefit of all - this is the Tory government that is carrying on the tradition started centuries ago with the Enclosure Acts of throwing people off the land.
Amplify’d from
Bluebells in Heartwood forest, Hertfordshire
Bluebells in Heartwood forest, Hertfordshire. Photograph: Felix Clay
Many of England's best-loved forests and woodlands may be sold to large landowners, housing developers and international power companies in what could be the UK's greatest change of land ownership since the second world war.
Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, is expected to announce a new strategy later this week that will lay the foundations for more than 150,000 hectares of forest and other land owned by the state in England to be sold within three years.
Tonight, conservationists and opposition parties as well as landowners warned that the land sale would be a costly disaster unless stringent safeguards were put in place.
In addition landowners warned that the land could be snapped up by industrialists with no concern for the environment or landscape value. "I have no doubt that this is something our members would be interested in. What we would be concerned about is if the land is put on the market all at the same time. This would enable industrial landowners to buy them all up and aggressively control the market", said Mike Seville, forestry and woodland advisor for the Country Landowners' Association.
In England the commission is subsidised by £30m a year, but generates an additional £63m a year in income. A government economic study released earlier this year calculated that it provides £2,100 in value per hectare per year if benefits such as erosion protection, pollution absorption, carbon sequestration, health provision are included.