Christ do I need a comment policy now?

I haven’t bothered to do an ‘About’ page yet. But when I do a good portion of this post will go into it.
I don’t mind comments on posts. I don’t seek them, but I don’t block them either. Some can be pretty interesting. But I know what works and what doesn’t so here are some commenting rules:

  1. You must at least have a valid email address. Nobody else sees that but me. Go post on 4chan if you want to play secret squirrel.  Even the most insightful comment won’t be approved unless you have an email address – and for the thin of brain that does not mean and all other variations.  
  2. ALL first time comments are moderated – my days of managing spam are long gone. 
  3. Disagreements are fine. I think being terribly agreeable all the time is pretty boring. But add something to the discussion. Have a little bit of intelligence and at least try to look like you’ve put some thought into it. If I happen to think you’re particularly thick or bigoted in real life I tend to just go with entirely ignoring you – same thing works here.
  4. That’s about it.

I may update this post at later dates. One thing about the internet is it never fails to surprise you.

Security Theatre

Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed just 17 people on American soil, all but four of them victims of an army major turned fanatic who shot fellow soldiers in a rampage at Fort Hood … During that same period, 200 times as many Americans drowned in their bathtubs. Still more were killed by driving their cars into deer. The best memorial to the victims of 9/11, in Schneier’s view, would be to forget most of the “lessons” of 9/11. “It’s infuriating,” … “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

Smoke Screening, Vanity Fair

Presents are under the Tree – cue madness

When we eventually have little kids running around the house at Christmas, I fear for my sanity. MBH regresses terribly when presents are placed under the tree. She still loves the idea of Christmas. Whereas for me its a relaxy, keep the alcohol levels topped up and walk right up to that indigestion line time.  She came in from work the other night,
“No touching”
I knew I should have had a water spray at the ready to keep her away from them.
“What did you get me???”
“Kinda defeats the whole point of Christmas Day that petal”
“An iPhone???!!”
“Er, no…”
“Er, really no” (Deep concern that the Downton Abbey DVD and Jamie’s cookbook among other things is not going to go down as well as I thought…)
“I’m going to wrap yours and put them under the tree”
Now it’s been a long, long time since I got excited over Christmas presents. I think it was over Star Wars figures in 1980 or something. But I am absolutely fascinated by her thought process when getting me presents.
There was the year she bought me a certificate for a plot of land on Mars. Seriously. We’re not allowed to talk about that anymore. I burst out laughing when I opened it and was not allowed to ask the reasoning. Then there was the year where I was bitching about bag weight when I had to go to Africa in December for work. So I unwrapped a handheld luggage scale that Christmas. Thoughtful but missed the edict during bitching that there was “No way in hell I’m travelling as much next year”. I have no idea where that scale is now.
So I try to remember that around October – November anything I may be talking about might be something I get at Christmas. Although I still can’t remember wistfully wishing I owned land on Mars… :)

Ra Ra Rasputin

Now this is why I like my Ukulele. It’s just great fun. Of course now I need to learn the chords to this. And I haven’t mastered the art of playing and singing at the same time (unless I’ve had a few drinks…something about thinking less probably). I learned ‘Have you ever seen the Rain’ by Creedance Clearwater Revival last weekend which pleased me no end.  

Talking about the Apocolypse

Well this isn’t at all scary: 

It was probably the most important research on flu in years, but most people won’t be allowed to read it all. As New Scientist revealed in September, researchers at the University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, created a mutated H5N1 bird flu that could go pandemic – and would be lethal to half its victims.

Thanks to Contagion I now know what an R0 value means (yay…). That was an okay sort of movie if you like to feel utterly depressed. I had to cheer myself up by pretending to sneeze on MBH and looking at the reaction on her face (Sick sense of humour) (Ha! Didn’t intend that Pun at all). 
Back in the day I took a semester course in Human Toxicology. Well it seemed interesting and my degrees have absolutely nothing to do with my current profession – utterly stellar at career planning me… 
Anyway, it was fascinating and utterly horrifying at the same time. The Professor was an awesome guy who was also a WHO and UN advisor so this guy knew what he was talking about. Apart from the feeling of doom, all I remember from the course was learning to create Compound summaries – or whatever they were called. Basically for any compound you had to create a summary which gave every little piece of information you needed and all on one side of A4. I’m very good at summarising things now – so it’s true that you can always get some skill from an obscure course. 
I’m utterly convinced that Pandemics are a significant threat. Ease of travelling and overabundant use of antibiotics are just two of the factors that would contribute to a problem I reckon, 
“I have a cold and feel bad Doctor” 
“Here have a VERY STRONG ANTIBIOTIC and go away” 
What can we do about it? Not a whole lot. But there are people who work tirelessly on it. This was a good talk given by Dr Larry Brilliant when accepting the TED Prize in 2006. This is also a very interesting talk by Seth Berkly on advances in Vaccine development. 

Bioterrorism experts in the US immediately questioned whether the method for making such a plague should be published. Now the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has recommended that the “general conclusions be published, but that the manuscripts not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm”

Wow, that’s surprising. Not like our American friends to overreact to a perceived threat – alway’s seemed such a level headed bunch…COUGH 
Anyway! Stifling research isn’t the answer. The key to combating any potential pandemics is time and a quick understanding. Having some Homeland Security bunch hiding information is not what I’d call helpful. 
I would have loved to have taken Biology and Chemistry, but my ‘Career Advisor’ back in my school days (who was also my woodwork teacher…yeahhh…) said because of my other subject choices I had to take Physics. I feckin hated Physics. Had a knack for Chemistry and Biology but Physics just left me a dry husk – didn’t care at all. Our Physics teacher also subscribed to the ‘Copy pages 101-123 and be quiet’ education framework. Bloody useless.