Roll up, roll up!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Out Of Context Quote Of The Week

"As I was watched the jury's verdict being announced on June 13, 2005, my toast popped up just as Michael was acquitted."

Network Of Contradictions

Rail passengers could face congestion charge-style price hikes at rush hour to combat rising passenger numbers.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) proposed "rail peak pricing" to combat a forecast rise in travellers of at least 28% in 10 years.

Atoc said the government's road charging plan could prompt such a move by forcing more people on to trains.

The strategy document - entitled Looking Forward: Contribution to Railway Strategy - also said scrapping under-used trains and stations could help operators handle growth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

No Where To Hide

Eleven of the world's most influential science academies have warned world leaders that the threat of global climate change "is clear and increasing" and that they must act immediately to begin addressing its causes and consequences.

The stark warning came in an unprecedented joint statement from the heads of the science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US.

Money 1 – Morals 0

Chinese bloggers posting their thoughts via Microsoft's net service face restrictions on what they can write.

Weblog entries on some parts of Microsoft's MSN site in China using words such as "freedom", "democracy" and "demonstration" are being blocked. Also being restricted on the free parts of the site are journal entries that mention "human rights" and "Taiwan independence".

Chinese bloggers already face strict controls and must register their online journal with Chinese authorities.

Microsoft said the company abided by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates.

Those using these banned words or writing entries that are pornographic or contain sensitive information get a pop-up warning that reads: "This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression."

Both Yahoo and Google have been criticised for similar activities and restricting what people can search for and read online.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Man Of The People

The Indonesian president's mobile phone line has crashed after he gave out his number to the public at the weekend.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he wanted people to feel free to call him with their problems.

But by Monday the line was dead after more than 3,000 calls had been made to the number, local media reported.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said messages varied from simply inquiring after Mr Yudhoyono, to giving him information about local situations.

He said that five more phone lines were needed, but a new computer system would have to be installed first.

A resident of South Jakarta suggested that an email address for the president would be more efficient.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The government has defended plans to monitor children as young as three for potential criminal behaviour.

Children's minister Beverley Hughes said it was important to identify problems as early as possible.

"What you can begin to identify is children who are having difficulties at an early age and on the basis of that concern, make sure that parents and the child have the assistance to avoid those problems becoming any deeper."

The Home Office leaked document said children who were not "under control" by the age of three were four times more likely to be convicted of a violent offence.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rather Interesting Statistic Of The Week

“If you have been awake for 21 hours straight, your abilities are equivalent to someone who is legally drunk.”

Man Made

Voyager 1 has officially crossed the "termination shock", the region where the speed of the solar wind drops abruptly from supersonic to subsonic, and has entered the shell of dense solar wind called the heliosheath that separates our solar system from interstellar space.

Voyager 1 launched on September 5, 1977 from Cape Canaveral.

Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object from Earth.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Happy Birthday Baikonur!

Baikonur cosmodrome is the oldest space launch facility in the world.

The remote site in Kazakhstan was chosen in 1955 as the nerve centre for the Soviet space programme.

The facility is located near Tyuratam on the Kazakh steppe. The town of Baikonur actually lies 400km (250miles) north-east (The name was a ruse to hide its actual location).

On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, from Baikonur aboard an R-7 rocket.

It kickstarted the space race between the US and USSR.

In November 1957, Baikonur was the launch site for Sputnik 2, carrying the dog Laika into space.

The mission gave scientists the first data on behaviour of an animal in space. But there was no way to return Laika to Earth, so she died after a day or two in space.

The cosmodrome experienced the worst disaster in space history on 24 October 1960.

The attempted launch of an R-16 missile resulted in an explosion on the launch pad that killed over 100 personnel, including rocket forces Marshal Nedelin.

The rocket's designer was spared because he nipped into a bunker for a cigarette at the time of the explosion.

Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space when the spacecraft Vostok 1 blasted off from Baikonur on 12 April 1961.

The cosmonaut orbited the Earth once, spending 108 minutes in space before his capsule touched down in the Saratov region of the Soviet Union.

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space when she blasted off from Baikonur aboard Vostok VI on 16 June, 1963.

Most of the modules that made up Russia's Mir space station (the first permanently occupied space station) were launched from Baikonur.

The first element was launched in 1986 and it remained in orbit for 15 years before being brought back into the Earth's atmosphere for a fiery death.

Today, Baikonur is in constant demand for commercial satellite launches and to supply the International Space Station.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What Are We Drinking?

The secret to one of the world's most famous brands lies deep in a bank vault somewhere in Georgia, US. Its exact location is reportedly known only to between two and four Coca-Cola executives.

It is rumoured that measures are employed to protect the chosen few - the executives never travel together, and must approve a successor should one of them die.

Outlets which make the drink are simply supplied with syrups and other ingredients from Coca-Cola - but not the original recipe.

People have revealed what they claim to be the official recipe after analysing the drink, but Coca-Cola remains tight-lipped.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Desperate Times. Drastic Measures.

A wave of informality is due to sweep through Japan with a government campaign to persuade office workers to abandon their jackets and ties.

Temperatures and humidity rise to unbearable levels over the next three months in Japan's cities and so does the use of air conditioning.

The government thinks this is standing in the way of lowering its emissions of greenhouse gases.

So it has launched a campaign to get the country's salary-men to abandon their suits this summer.

It has asked businesses to raise the temperature in their offices to a sweaty 28 degrees, making the standard jacket and tie uncomfortably hot.

At the moment Japan is well behind its agreed target under the Kyoto Protocol.

Rather Pointless Statistic Of The Week

A dog could detect five grams of cannabis in a room the size of five-a-side football pitch in three to four seconds.