I really enjoy taking pictures and uploading them to Flickr and I do believe that slowly but steadily I’m getting better. But I still take really bad pictures and have accumulated a ton of them over my lifetime. However, I still use Flickr as a photo archive and have no intention of deleting them. So over the next weeks, months, whatever I’m going to be making the worst offenders friends only. There are enough bad photos in the world without adding to their number.

And yes, I’m still procrastinating the job of uploading the pictures from Cornwall and Jordan! I was nearly there with Cornwall but the new Flickr uploader crashed out on me. Damn you!

Also, I’ve stopped downloads of my pictures apart for Friends & Family.

This has been buzzing around in my head for a few days now, since I read something about it… somewhere. Knowing what my daily reading is like, thanks to Google Reader, it was most likely Wired News. But there it is.

For some companies I, like most people I suppose, considered myself a customer even if the transaction was of zero value. Let’s pick out free newspapers and commercial radio stations here. I don’t pay for them, but I considered myself a customer and they subsidise the free distribution to me, the customer, by regretably taking in advertising. But that’s not the way it works at all. I am demographically analysed within an inch of my life, together with cross-sections of polls, letters-to-the-editor, call-ins etc etc. And all this information is packaged up and sold to the advertising companies. ‘You want access to these juicy morsels? To these eyes, ears and, sometimes, brains? That’ll cost you.’ And the wider the distribution, the greater the number of eyes and ears, the greater value the product has.

This became an issue some time ago when the console game Kane & Lynch was being promoted. Gamespot, a game review website had accepted a huge wad of cash and effectively revamped their site, splashing Kane & Lynch logos, sounds, images and labels everywhere. And then the reviewer assigned to the game completely annihilated it. And then got fired two days afterwards for a completely unrelated, yet undisclosed, reason. The outcry was huge. After all, surely the site owed it’s integrity to it’s customers? Yes. Yes, it did indeed. It’s just that we ain’t them.

Smokers make up 26% of the general population, but 70% of mental health inpatients are smokers, according to Mental Health Today.
40% of mental health service users smoke
70% of mental health inpatients smoke
50% of those using inpatient units classed as heavy smokers
Between 70% and 74% of people with schizophrenia smoke
56% of people with depression smoke

Sundown at Woking Station

Sometimes you just have to get lucky, and I certainly did with this picture. On my way to part of my birthday celebrations, a beautiful sunset and actually having the camera to hand all came together to make this lovely view of the much- (and rightly-) derided Woking Station and Centrium.

I always end up scrabbling around for actual numbers whenever talking about the National DNA Database so, in light of , I’m compiling a summary:

  • Number of records: 4 million (; 05/09/07) or 3,785,571 at 31/03/06 ( p29; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of population: 5-6%, higher than any other country (Derived from above; 05/09/07). The official figure is 5.2% (; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of US population on their DNA database: 0.5% (; 05/09/07)
  • Age: 12 Years (; 05/09/07)
  • Monthly growth: 30,000 (; 05/09/07)
  • Number profiles of unconvicted 10-17 year olds: 24,000 (; 05/09/07)
  • Official stance on children on the database: Under 18s make up 23% of all arrests, and so a comparative proportion of profiles is to be expected. There are no legal powers to take a DNA sample from anyone under ten without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. (Source; 05/09/07)
  • Number of crimes solved per year using DNA database: 20,000 (; 05/09/07). The official figure is 45,000 crimes in 2005 & 2006 (; 05/09/07)
  • DNA profiles deleted in 2005: 21,661 (; 20/06/07).
  • DNA profiles deleted in 2006: 8,860 (; 20/06/07)
  • Cost: £300 million over last five years (; 05/09/07)
  • Gender split: 80.26% Men, 18.72% Women and 1.02% Unknown ( p32; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of database by ethnicity (men): 76% White European, 9% Unknown (41% of which is collected in Scotland which does not track this data), 7% Afro-Caribbean, 5% Asian, 2% Dark-skinned European, 1% Arab ( p34; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of population with a DNA record: 40% of Black population has DNA record, 13% of Asian population and 9% of White population, and (; 05/09/07)
  • Number of replicated profiles: 646,890 or 16% (Source; 03/12/07)

I’m sure there’ll be more as I find them…

Updated 4/12/07: Replicated profiles

From :

October 03, 2007

Latest Terrorist False Alarm: Chili Peppers

In London:

Three streets were closed and people evacuated from the area as the search was carried out. After locating the source at about 7pm, emergency crews smashed their way into the Thai Cottage restaurant in D’Arblay Street only to emerge with a 9lb pot of smouldering dried chillies.Baffled chef Chalemchai Tangjariyapoon, who had been cooking a spicy dip, was amazed to find himself at the centre of the terror scare.

“We only cook it once a year — it’s a spicy dip with extra hot chillies that are deliberately burned,” he said.

“To us it smells like burned chilli and it is slightly unusual. I can understand why people who weren’t Thai would not know what it was but it doesn’t smell like chemicals. I’m a bit confused.”

Another story.

Were this the U.S., that restaurant would be charged with terrorism, or creating a fake bomb, or anything to make the authorities feel better. On the other hand, at least the cook wasn’t shot.

EDITED TO ADD (10/4): Common sense:

The police spokesman said no arrests were made in the case.”As far as I’m aware it’s not a criminal offense to cook very strong chili,” he said.

EDITED TO ADD (10/11): The BBC has a recipe, in case you need to create your own chemical weapon scare.

Last year I promised myself that I’d watch more movies in the cinema than . Well, I’ve certainly managed that, and there’s still more year, and movies to come. So here the movies of this year so far, in approximate reverse order of enjoyment.

9) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

8) Spiderman 3

7) Atonement

6) 300

5) Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End

4) Stardust

3) In Pursuit of Happyness (sic)

2) 28 Weeks Later

1) Hot Fuzz

Obviously I reserve the right to change the order in January once I’ve had a chance to mull it all over. Amusingly, the above list is almost exactly upside down when compared to the cinema earnings chart for this year.

Movies I still want to see this year:

Beowulf – Ideally in the Imax

Grindhouse – If I can see the whole thing together, not the separate parts

Bladerunner: The Final Cut – I’ve always wanted to see this in the cinema

Other movies I’ve seen that stand out in my mind:

Brick – This movie is actually two years old,but I first saw it this year. It is really excellent and I’d probably say it’s my favourite film I’ve seen this year.

Good night and good luck – Another late viewing but another excellent film. George Clooney directs this B&W movie about Ed Murrow, McCarthyism and the degeneration of television.

Silent Hill – This one surprised me since this horror film is based on a game, but I actually enjoyed this.

Sunshine – This one stands out because I really wanted to see it, but it certainly isn’t very good at all. Boyle’s sci-fi flick never quite decides what kind of film it wants to be.

Update: Forgot Pirates 3!