Sunday, 19 August 2007


Whilst this may only be a renaming or reclassification of what many have thought before, it seems that there are two types of activity: those that make you happy for doing; and those that make you happy whilst doing. The rarity are those that are both. For me, eating chocolate makes me happy whilst doing, whilst cleaning my room makes me happy for doing.

After life

If there is an afterlife, what form will we (hopefully including me although my relationship with God has been a little rocky) be present in?

If we maintain our physical form, is that the form we have at death, do we age or change further? Or is it our physical form at peak physical condition? Will it be warts and all?

If it is only the mental/spiritual, will we not be very different to our mental/spiritual side in real life that is so much influenced by the physical?

Perhaps we should strive in life to isolate that which is the spiritual/mental side from the physical side and its influences.

Commuter trains

London has a larger number of terminus commuter train stations (e.g. London Bridge, Victoria, Waterloo). This is largely the result of different train companies at the time of the first railways, but I'm sure its limitations are not confined to London.

Whilst all rail stations are connected by the tube, a cross London journey requires changing on the tube and perhaps changing the tube line once or twice, probably not the optimum solution. So what would we design if we were tasked with designing a city transport infrastructure today?

I think I would have all trains coming into one fairly inner ring and going round most if not all of the ring. Or other services that come into the city, round half of the ring and out of the other side. Obviously the ring would need to be several tracks wide to accomodate all the trains, but there would be no need for a dedicated ring service, as so many trains would be traveling the ring.

I have produced a rather basic diagram below to illustrate the point (on the left is a terminus system, on the right is a ring system):

The mobile internet revolution

Whilst Vodafone may be advertising that the web it now mobile and we can all save time, the mobile internet revolution will not happen until we have low-cost flat-rate broadband-speed internet on a phone with a screen big/good enough to use it.

Savings accounts, current accounts and moving money

It frustrates me moving money between bank accounts to get better interest. I understand the reason i.e. you're being paid for the illiquidity of your cash in the savings account, but I'd prefer not to have the hassle.

I suggest having all your money in one account, but being able to "lock" a certain portion of it for a certain length of time (i.e. unable to use without a fee). The interest rate you get is proportional to the amount you have "locked". This way banks get their cash to play with, and I get my interest.

Obviously, this would only really work well with online accounts where it's easy to log in an "lock" your money. The bank site could have a bar chart showing each portion that is locked, what date it is locked to, and the interest rate it is getting.

Pub names

I do appreciate a good pub name, both the traditional, modern and funny. I'd like to see a pub named competent, so that all those people shouting down their phones when they're meeting their mates would be saying "I'm in Competent".

Team loyalty (the new nationalism)

Whilst I am of the opinion that nationalism is bad, its replacement, football-teamism is hardly better. How can this be eliminated without eliminating competitive sport?

Perhaps the obvious answer is to deprofessionalise it and relocalise it. Have teams made up of people who live and work near the stadium and fans that know the players.

Whilst this is unlikely to happen another possibility is to have hybrid teams in particular competitions where the hybrid is the best possible team of several teams that are drawn out of the hat. For example, imagine there are teams named A through I. In the normal season all of these teams playing in a league. In the hybrid season, team ABC may play DEF etc. And the next random season, BGI may play CDF etc. As people will always be cheering on people from other teams, the opportunity to create grudges and bigotry is reduced.

Whites of the eye

Are the whites of the eye an example of sexual selection? Humans seem to have much more white than other species and it would be reasonable to assume the bright colour is a selection disadvantage in camoflage terms. That the whites are less white when one is ill is another factor that would suggest sexual selection, as is the attractiveness of large white eyes.

Another interesting aspect of the whites of the eye is that they make it easier to see where the eye is pointing; to make eye contact. It is harder to make eye contact with other animals as it harder to tell where they are actually looking. Perhaps the advantage of eye contact is communication and hence it evolved through group selection.

Train phone mode

It would be convenient to have a phone mode where both parties remain connected to the call unless either presses the hang-up button. The actual connection may break, but is automatically reestablished. This would be particularly useful when on the train and going through tunnels.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Why I'm writing a blog

There is no sense in writing down information if you don't take steps to preserve it.

Is religion a symptom or cause?

Whilst at face value, religion seems to be the cause of much suffering and ignorance in the world, if we think about it more deeply, it is the symptom of inequality of power, lack of education and unhappiness. Perhaps most significantly, it is a symptom of the lack of purpose to our existence.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

This idiom (ok, as the meaning can be determined from the definitions of the words it is not really an idiom, but it is not necessarily a cliché as this implies overuse. It is perhaps a stock phrase; it could be considered a truism. It is like an old wives tale, something people say in confidence that it is true, without ever considering its truth. I think perhaps I'll refer to them as expressions to cast the net as wide as possible) has two possible interpretations: that having absolute power will corrupt absolutely; or that the quest to obtain absolute power will corrupt absolutely. I see truth in the second interpretation, but not the first. If one day you woke up with absolute power, the power to create anything, or destroy every atom in the universe one by one, perhaps even the power to change the laws of physics (why limit our definition of absolute power) would you feel the need to abuse it? Sure, you'd make your life easier, you'd create doughnuts rather than walking to the shop for them. You could force everyone you met to be nice to you. But would you hurt or abuse other people? Why bother? I think the point is, the most efficient way of obtaining power is to hurt and abuse other people, hence why it is the quest for absolute power, not the fact of owning it, that corrupts.

All good things come to an end

Well, if you accept the occilating theory of the universe (expanding/contracting, bang/crunch) then, with the exception of the universe, all things come to an end. Even, a refreshing thought it is to have, religion.

How to be completely honest

Don't ever lie, just time the truth to perfection

Net worth

How much of people's net assets is payment for their effort compared with inheritance and gifts, and return on investments?


I should not hate people, because there is always a reason they are the way they are; but I can hate life, because there is no reason at all

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

Being the model of escapist fiction, it ignores the mundane, and counterbalances woe with a sense of purpose and acheivement. The only bad thing was leaving it to return to reality.


Doing everything in a calm and measured way can instill calmness in the soul. I just wish I could remember to do it in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Being special

Don't let your wonder at your own existence lead you into thinking that you are special.

Solar power

I have read that solar cells are fairly inefficient at converting the sun's rays to electricity. I am aware of solar power stations that focus the sun's rays using mirrors to heat water and hence turn turbines like a normal power station. I am wondering whether a lo-tech mechanical method of using the sun's rays is possible. Picture an airtight box with water inside. One half of the box is transparent with black matting on the floor, heating up the water, causing evaporation. The other end of the box is sheltered from the sun and has a surface that seeds condensation. The water condensing here drops down a small hole turning a turbine, generating electricity. Possible? I expect so. Energy efficient? Haven't got a clue.

Keeping on a short leash

It occurs to me that the combination of three technologies may solve the problem of dogs that go walkabout. The technologies: Global Positioning System (GPS), mobile phones and ultrasound; the idea: put a GPS reader, mobile phone and ultrasound emitter into a dog collar. The collar is then programmed (remotely of course) to emit the ultrasound, which is uncomfortable to dogs, when the dog moves outside the range of a certain GPS coordinate. The ultrasound would be emitted at increasing volume as the dog moved further from the coordinate, encouraging it to stay within the perimeter. The GPS coordinate can be either a fixed one, such as your house, or a mobile one, i.e. your GPS/Mobile dog tracking device that you take walking with you. The walker-held device would having a direction/distance meter to help find the wandering dog. As GPS is being implemented in many mobile phones, the walker-end device could just be software that utilises the mobile and GPS technology on the phone.