British Standards Institute introduces Standard British Idiots:
Following a 30 percent increase in domestic accidents, the British Standards Institute has recruited 1000 Standard British Idiots (SBIs) to perform safety tests on a range of appliances. A spokesperson explained: ‘For years we have worked on the assumption that nobody in their right mind would stick a spoon into a live socket, but they do. We have recruited this calibre of person: someone who will look for a gas leak with a match, or set off across the channel on a lilo.’
I’m thinking of setting up a nomination web page for them.
The Evolution of House Cats: Scientific American:
[genetic analysis] revealed five genetic clusters, or lineages, of wildcats. Four of these lineages corresponded neatly with four of the known subspecies of wildcat and dwelled in specific places: F. silvestris silvestris in Europe, F. s. bieti in China, F. s. ornata in Central Asia and F. s. cafra in southern Africa. The fifth lineage, however, included not only the fifth known subspecies of wildcat — F. s. lybica in the Middle East—but also the hundreds of domestic cats that were sampled, including purebred and mixed-breed felines from the U.S., the U.K. and Japan. In fact, genetically, F. s. lybica wildcats collected in remote deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were virtually indistinguishable from domestic cats. That the domestic cats grouped with F. s. lybica alone among wildcats meant that domestic cats arose in a single locale, the Middle East, and not in other places where wildcats are common.
The article goes on to postulate that wildcats took advantage of increased rodent populations in proximity to humans, caused by the commencement of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent — much earlier and in a different location to the established wisdom of where the relationship between man and cat started. Makes sense though.
(Via Scientific American.)
I’m glad to see that finally, some scientific investigation is being done on this old canard. And it turns out you don’t need to drink litres of water per day at all:
According to Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School who specialized in kidney research and spent 45 years studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, the answer is no.
The National Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Medicine also researched this in 2004:
Its panel on “dietary preference intakes for electrolytes and water” noted that women who appear adequately hydrated consume about 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water a day and men about 125 ounces (3.7 liters). These seemingly large quantities come from a variety of sources—including coffee, tea, milk, soda, juice, fruits, vegetables and other foods. Instead of recommending how much extra water a person should drink to maintain health, the panel simply concluded that “the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”
So there you go. Your body has a perfectly good way of telling you it needs a bit of topping up. Short of an illness that requires you to over-hydrate, or weather requiring the same, drink when you’re thirsty and stop worrying.
Via Scientific American
Messenger of Peace, with carnations
Originally uploaded by AlanFleming
The Messenger of Peace statue (Barbara Pearson, 1986) sits in St Peter’s Square in Manchester, outside the town hall. Someone has added carnations, each with a person’s name written on a tag on the stem.
Click on http://todayisa.com/ and find out.
It’s a mashup of news, stock prices and the weather forecast.
(At the time of writing, it’s a good day. It’s right.)
MacUser: News: GeoCities crumbles to $4 billion dust:
Yahoo is shutting down GeoCities, a free service that hosts personal home pages for consumers, which it acquired for more than $4 billion during the dotcom boom 10 years ago.
This makes me feel a bit sad — my first ever homepage, designed in 1995, was hosted on GeoCities. Long gone unfortunately.
I always kinda wanted one of these very cute, very clever robotic dinosaurs — but I’ve missed the boat. It seems as if Ugobe, the company that made Pleo, has gone the way of the dinosaur and filed for bankruptcy. A real shame.
White House North Facade
Originally uploaded by AlanFleming
I’ve been off on a break again — San Francisco and Washington DC. Here’s a set of my holiday photos from Washington on Flickr.
I’ve been travelling again — San Francisco and Washington DC this time. Well worth it, and more on Washington later. Meanwhile, in Sf I actually gave money to a panhandler. Because he’d trained his animals to do the following:
I thought that was well worth a couple of dollars.
The dog wasn’t being hurt by the cat, the cat was sitting on a leather pad on the dog’s back.