Archive for September, 2006

itunes and ipod

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

When it came out last week I was very excited to get the new iTunes 7 – it’s got some pretty nice features including the very nice new album browser. However there’s one massive problem I’ve encountered – my iPod no longer plays music purchased from the iTunes store.

I don’t have a whole lot of songs purchased from iTunes – most of them were actually free after I’d bought some plane tickets – but even so, it’s supposed to be my music and it’s not usable on the iPod (they do play on the PC through iTunes but that’s hardly the point). They show up on the iPod’s screen, but when I select one of the purchased tunes it just skips over it after a second or so.

I ran through all the help from Apple but it still doesn’t work at all.

From a quick google, it seems that a number of other people have faced this problem, including one blogger who had a great result in the end. I hope it works out for me too. At the moment I’m less than impressed.

tall people

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Well this is somewhat galling: The Dutch Are the World’s Tallest People. Nice for them. My father is Dutch (or was before he became an official Brit) but for some reason he forgot to take the height gene with him, so I’m a paltry 5’7″. By contrast, the average Dutchman stands just over 6 feet, while women average nearly 5-foot-7. So if I moved to Holland I would be the height of a woman.

nonsense and nonsensibility

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

This week at Toby’s school the theme is the five senses. So tonight at mealtime we were asking him about it to see what he’d learned:

Us: Toby, have you been learning about senses at school this week?
Toby: Yes, the five senses.
Us: (somewhat impressed) Nice – can you remember what they are?
Toby: Yes, they are things that you need … when you go to the beach.
Us: ?
Toby: There is your father and your mother and your brother and a baby.
Us: Not, um, touch and taste and…
Toby: Oh yes, we did talk about those too.

So I’m not sure if there was a lot of metaphor used when the teachers described this to the kids, or if his mind was wandering or what, but I think he gets it in a three-year-old sort of way.

swimming and growing

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Last night we took Toby to the Foss Swim School for his first ever swimming lesson and were pleasantly surprised at his confidence and willingness to go in the water and take part. The school came highly recommended by friends, and we were impressed as soon as we arrived at the setup and the enthusiasm of the kids and instructors.

Toby was in a beginners’ class for 3-4 year olds, and there were three kids with the one instructor which is a great ratio. They spent a fair bit of time sitting on the steps at the edge of the pool with feet and legs in the water while they used cups to pour water on themselves, then the instructor supported each of them while she pulled them along to learn how to kick or paddle while using floats. The first couple of seconds of this Toby was quite upset but almost immediately started laughing and shouting “Look Daddy I’m doing it!”. The only thing he really didn’t like was when he had to go on his back, but apart from that we were quite proud. As I was getting him changed afterwards he was saying that he wanted to go again right away and that he missed his coach already.

This morning we took him to the doctor’s for his three and a half year checkup. Fortunately no shots were required but that didn’t stop a bit of grief – he got quite upset when he had to take off his clothes and wear the gown for Dr Williams to check him out. We were reassured that examining screaming kids is a large part of a pediatrician’s day. Toby did a bit better with the sight tests, although he didn’t like wearing an eyepatch to test his eyes independently, but he did very well with the blood pressure monitor and the hearing tests. For the hearing tests he had to wear some 50s looking headphones and after the nurse had demonstrated what the testing machine’s beeps sounded like, he sat with a very intent frown listening for each instance of the sound, and when it came said, “Oh! I hearded [sic] it!” So he seems very healthy as we suspected – everything good and his height and weight are both in the 50th percentile so he’s progressing along just fine.

clash of civilizations

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Quite an amusing and also sad story on the BBC about a priest who made a hoax bomb alert call to try to get a Madonna show cancelled. He was upset about the fact that she does a mock crucifixion routine in the show, and that this would/could be offensive to Christians.

The priest’s approach would appear to have backfired on several levels – firstly the show went ahead anyway, secondly it just draws even more publicity to the show, thirdly a bomb hoax is pretty darned offensive if you stop to think for just a moment, and hardly a Christian approach to anything, fourthly just grow up and get over yourself and your getting all het up about things being offensive and being all touchy, and finally and perhaps most importantly, he was caught because he made the call from his home phone, so clearly it was a snap for those crafty Dutch police to find out who dunnit.

from mumbai

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

When I was in India in August 2005 I was taken on a great tour of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). As part of the tour I visited the Hanging Gardens in the district of Malabar Hill, right by the Zoroastrian funeral grounds. They have an interesting method of dealing with the deceased, but it seems that there are issues as documented in this news article. Interesting to see the clash of religion with the realities of life.

If you’re interested, here are all my Mumbai photos.

ignorance is…

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

Brace yourself for one of the most ignorant articles about the difference between science and religion ever written. I almost want to apologize for linking to it.

I didn’t manage to find the link on the site (and didn’t want to hang around too long) to log in and post a comment, but here’s roughly what I would have said:

This would be a laughable article if it wasn’t so ignorant (I’m leaving aside the horrific “how long is a light year?” question. Did no editors look at this and try to stop the train wreck?)

It’s hard to no where to begin but I’ll just stick to the paragraph:
“Which is the whole point of this column. So many scientific theories are so incomprehensible to people like me, and so many scientific “facts” are constantly changing, it seems that science itself has become another religion.”

This shows the author’s basic misunderstanding of what science is. Science is pretty much by definition a changing set of rigorously peer reviewed theories backed by evidence and observations. Scientists will suggest and attempt to prove theories based on findings and will then open these theories up for discussion, argument etc. As scientists learn more they can adapt, strengthen or completely negate previous findings.

This is almost the complete opposite of religion, where faith is used by its followers to uphold a set of unchanging ideals and ideas. Some progressive faith traditions may allow some of their interpretations to change based on changing social structures but will never allow the central tenets to change. Science is constantly changing, and will happily let go of even the most fundamental theories, for example new reinterpretations of the theory of gravity and refinements to the theory of evolution.

Oh yes, and he’s also falling into the “Science is hard therefore I don’t understand it therefore it must be a religion”. Nice.

soft notes

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Emma used to think that Toby really didn’t like her singing, and would tell me that every time she sang he would cry, which wasn’t actually true. But she was finally made to feel better by a request a few days ago.

As well has having some “real” Kipling for Toby (he quite likes some of the Just So Stories) we got him a book of the Disney version of the Jungle Book. When she reads it for him, she sings little bits of the Disney songs in the appropriate places. A couple of nights ago they were hanging around and he said “Mummy, will you sing a song for me?” When he was asked what song he would like, he said “The soft notes that the girl in the Jungle Book sings”


Friday, September 1st, 2006

This morning I got a message from my brother Richard this morning about a jolly jape he inflicted on BBC Radio 5 Live:

Last night I was listening to FiveLive on the BBC and they were doing one of their “send in your amusing names” items. It was full of things like “One of my teachers was called Mrs Strict” from John in Barnet – all very boring. So I decided to liven it up and emailed them this from Rear Admiral [you'll have to listen to the clip for the name] (Mrs)

Click here for the audio clip.