Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The West European Hedgehog

Hedgehog an endangered species

The latest UK List of Priority Species and Habitats¹ which has just been published includes quite a few shocking items. One which would surprise most people is the common garden hedgehog. The continuous attack from being used as footballs, burnt alive in garden fires, spiked by garden forks, squashed by cars and being used as a crisp flavour² has finally taken it's toll.

So if you do want to see our prickerly garden visitors in the future I suggest you put out a saucer of cat food or slugs to help them on their hazardous potter through our habitat.

1:After two years of work involving in excess of 500 people, the proposed UK List of Priority Species and Habitats was presented in a UK BAP website report in June 2007. The Priorities Species and Habitats Review Working Group and the Priorities Review Group recommended that this list was formally adopted. The Governments of all four UK administrations have now adopted the recommendations of experts and published the UK list of priority species and habitats. The new UK BAP list is an important reference source, bringing all the scientific information on UK BAP species and habitats together in one place.
This list, a result of the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken in the UK, contains 1149 species and 65 habitats that have been listed as priorities for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).

2: No hedgehogs were actually used in Hedgehog crisps, Hedgehog flavoured crisps were actually flavoured with pork fat and no hedgehogs were used in the manufacturing process. Consequently, it wasn't long before Hedgehog Foods Ltd was in court (1982), up against the Office of Fair Trading, on a charge of false advertising.Bizarrely, a settlement was finally reached when Mr Lewis, of Hedgehog Foods, interviewed gypsies who actually did eat baked hedgehogs, to ascertain the flavour of hedgehogs. Mr Lewis then commissioned a flavourings firm to duplicate the flavour as closely as possible and changed the labels from "hedgehog flavoured" to "hedgehog flavour".

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google Sky

Google have just launched their newest tool. 'Google Sky'. An astronomical 'add-on' of Google Earth. The program allows you to discover parts of the universe only seen by the Hubble telescope. This concept is nothing new though, back in the 80's Ian Bell and David Braben created 'Elite' for the BBC microcomputer. "Now where should I fly".

Google Sky

Tuesday, August 21, 2007



Cascade by Matchbox®

I was perusing a website about 70's and 80's games when I saw an old Christmas present that I received which was really good for about 2 weeks and then never seen again. It was a game called 'cascade'. I remeber thinking it was a load of rubbish when I first opened it but once set up the ball bearings bounced along the three rubber drums perfectly landing in the scoring bay and would be raised up to the top again by an archimedes screw type affair. A bit Heath Robinson but amazing to watch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lizzie's Wall

Middlesbrough amateur photographer, Jason Hynes, had one of his photographs selected for the new Tate Britain's exhibition; How We Are: Photographing Britain.

Photo of a wall and a door

Jason describes his photo ('Lizzie's Wall') : "The image is from a series about how we all change and progress in life and I chose the image for the competition because I think it conveys a sense of longing. Whether it be for the good or the bad Britain is, culturally and economically, constantly changing and developing. I feel my photograph freezes this evolution and holds the viewer in a place and time that is safe and comfortable but the imagery contained within the photograph, the door, the blossoming fruit, and the shaft of light, show that growth and change is inevitable and constant. "

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Balloon Fart

The Balloon I should have been on yesterday evening.

Yesterday I won a 'balonvaart' (Hot air balloon trip) on a local radio station (Radio Meerssen) competition. It was the star prize in a 'vacation top 100' competition. I only entered it as I was disgusted by the choice of most people's top 5's. So I put mine is with 'The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays'. Needless to say none made the top 100.

Anyway they rang up and said that I have won the 'star prize' of a hot air balloon trip and could I come in live on the radio show on Tuesday to pick it up.

They actually wanted to present the prize to me yesterday and take the trip there live on the show which was being transmitted that day from a small caravan site. But as I was out they gave the ride to other volunteers at the event.

Strangely enough whilst sitting here at the PC I then saw the balloon floating towards the house with the volunteers on board. They landed somewhere in Belgium.

I've always wanted to take a trip in a balloon but now I have the chance I have to admit I am bricking it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mahjong : Public Health Warning

Mahjong - The most complicated game on earth

My Mother bought a Mahjong set about 30 years ago but we never actually played the game. Which I always thought was a bit of a shame as it cost a lot of money. But it seems we might have been better leaving it on top of the wardrobe as it has emerged that mahjong can actually be bad for your health.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud

Brian May is friends with Glockenspiel maestro Sir Patrick Moore

Brian May has finally handed in his PhD 36 years after starting it. Mr May decided to not complete his PhD and instead pursue a musical career with the pop group 'Queen', fronted by rockstar legend Freddie Mercury, back in 1971.

But after a recent research trip to Tenerife he decided to start work on his thesis and today handed in the 48,000 word work to Imperial College, London.

The thesis entitled "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud", studies Radial velocities in the Zodiacal dust Cloud.


Panorama showed on Tuesday the huge amount of child violence being posted on YouTube. The Google run company repsonded that they have '0' employees in charge of vetting such videos and it was the 'YouTube' communitie's resposibilitiy to 'flag' and remove such videos.

So the next morning I searched and found 5 school/street fight videos online and flagged them as "Inappropriate".

Google, and YouTube have said they will review them usually in 20 minutes of flagging.

2 days later and all 5 videos are still on line.
One of these I found was from Middlesbrough. Makes you proud!.

If you do take a look make sure you click the flag as "Inappropriate" button below, if we click it enough times maybe the 1 employee might get a 'heads-up'.

But I would suggest you don't watch. God I sound like Panorama.

The second one is the lovely Boro one.