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Friday, 31 August 2007
Sun Clock

sun dial discuss the measurement of time:

The origins of our current measurement system go back to the Sumerian civilization of approximately 2000 BC. This is known as the Sumerian Sexagesimal System based on the number 60. 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour - and possibly a calendar with 360 (60x6) days in a year (with a few more days added on). Twelve also features prominently, with roughly 12 hours of day and 12 of night, and 12 months in a year.

A large variety of devices have been invented to measure time. The study of these devices is called horology.

An Egyptian device dating to c.1500 BCE, similar in shape to a bent T-square, measured the passage of time from the shadow cast by its crossbar on a non-linear rule. The T was oriented eastward in the mornings. At noon, the device was turned around so that it could cast its shadow in the evening direction.

A sundial uses a gnomon to cast a shadow on a set of markings which were calibrated to the hour. The position of the shadow marked the hour in local time. Pliny the Elder records that the first sundial in Rome was looted from Catania, Sicily (264 BCE), which gave the incorrect time for a century, until the markings appropriate for the latitude of Rome were used (164 BCE). Noontime was an event which could be marked by the time of the shortest shadow on a sundial. This was used in Rome to judge when a court of law was open; lawyers had to be at the court by that time.

Wikipedia has a more interesting definition of time itself:

There are two distinct views on the meaning of time.

One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence, and time itself is something that can be measured. This is the realist’s view, to which Sir Isaac Newton subscribed, and hence is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time.

A contrasting view is that time is part of the fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number). Within this structure, humans sequence events, quantify the duration of events and the intervals between them, and compare the motions of objects. In this second view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that “flows”, that objects “move through”, or that is a “container” for events. This view is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, in which time, rather than being an objective thing to be measured, is part of the measuring system used by humans.

Interestingly, large chunks of the text of both entries are electronic carbon copies.

Meanwhile, according to Newsweek:

China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

You couldn’t make that up.

Posted by bigblue on 31/08/2007 at 02:45 PM
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Thursday, 30 August 2007
Kapha Pitta Varta


These guys seem to get around - here they are in Southall, London.  Ironically, for a company that is named after a word meaning a large tillage plot (of land) they seem to be obsessed with digging up the land all over the place.

I’ve been reading the Chronology of Waste via ChickYog. If you look at nothing else, check the graph three-quarters of the way down.

Posted by bigblue on 30/08/2007 at 08:27 PM
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Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Today the old man was in London, unveiling a statue of himself in Parliament Square. Zefrog was there and posts some photos of the event on Flickr.

The photograph above is from earlier in the year when Graça Machel (pictured with her husband) was awarded an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University in South Africa.

Posted by bigblue on 29/08/2007 at 06:20 PM
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Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Oh dear


This is a story from about three weeks ago, but I had forgotten about it until earlier today.  The above photograph shows a billboard which announces that the Sevenoaks Chronicle, one of our local rags, is covering a new twist in a “sex debate row in Oxted”.  Not knowing that there had been a sex debate row in the first place (let alone the new twist) I went online to find the story. It turns out that the row concerns a leaflet that was stocked in our local bookshop, Paydens (pictured below).

The “new twist” can only be the news that the bookshop no longer stocks the leaflet, entitled The Outrage of Immoral Sex, which summarises the aims of sex education in schools, saying:

It is not difficult to see that sex education is a weapon in the hands to those who are promoting a revolution against God’s standard of sexual behaviour.

Our children and grandchildren are the targets of a massive state-sponsored propaganda campaign against Biblical morality.

Oh dear.  It seems that person behind the leaflet is a member of the right-wing group Christian Watch. For examples of their modus operandi, see here.  They were one of the groups that objected to the GPA advertisement linking homophobia to Christians (a complaint which was largely upheld).

Meet Griff quotes Doctor Seuss’s Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? in his comment on those who feel “called by God” to watch over the rest of us naughty people. If these groups object so strongly to being associated with homophobia then why don’t they ever bring out pamphlets attacking bullying and homophobia in our schools as being “unChristian”?

Posted by bigblue on 28/08/2007 at 09:47 PM
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Sunday, 26 August 2007
Comparing adverts



Posted by bigblue on 26/08/2007 at 02:01 PM
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Saturday, 25 August 2007
Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger

I don’t want to belittle the real risks of stranger danger, but it is known that:

the number of so-called “stranger” killings of children in England and Wales has remained stable for about 30 years ...
[And] it skews the public debate away from the area of greatest risk to children, which has always been the home and those relationships forged in innocence, with baby-sitters, teachers, sports coaches and so on.

(from BBC article from 2002).

The other immediate thing that came to mind when looking at the sign above was: “Why the dog”?

Meanwhile, with reminders of a schoolboy joke, the rings around Uranus are currently aligned with earth - a once every 42 year event.

Posted by bigblue on 25/08/2007 at 12:49 PM
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Friday, 24 August 2007
Over the cliff


This is the view over the chalk cliff down to the sea below: the final view of many. Link: Home Truth’s interview with Keith Lane.

Keith Lane is a window cleaner from Eastbourne and his wife Maggie died a year and a half ago, she was suffering from depression and committed suicide by jumping off of Beachy Head .

A week after her death, whilst visiting the spot where his wife died, he saved a women from jumping.

Since then he has been visiting the beauty spot regularly to try and stop other people from dying the same way. He talks to Paul about Maggie and why he’s keeping his own ‘suicide watch’.

Thanks to Keith and other volunteers, the numbers were down last year.

Posted by bigblue on 24/08/2007 at 11:08 PM
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Thursday, 23 August 2007
Another one of these

What you saw:
What you saw

What I saw:
What I saw

I have a huge selection of these, after swapping photographs with my colleague after the walk on Sunday.

The following Reader Offer at the Guardian is amusing, but it’s a good cause. Plus it could easily be a hot and dry summer next year again.

With the prospect of another hot and dry summer, it’s time to start collecting precious rainwater now to help guard against possible water shortages. Most garden plants prefer rainwater to chemically treated tap water and there is the added benefit that it is free!

Posted by bigblue on 23/08/2007 at 11:42 PM
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