Home page Site map Terms of use Website design services
Mailing List
If you'd like to be informed about updates to this site, click here


moon phase

Current solar state SOHO 28.4nm
Solar X-rays
X-ray status
Geomagnetic Field
Geomagnetic field status

More data

I question the AIDS establishment. Join me!

Confessions of a Serial Prover

A space for anything and everything that seems worth sharing and which I don't plan to write a bigger piece on. The odd (!) rant. Invitations to think “outside the box” on all sorts of matters. “Weather reports” on the energies of the moment. Insights provided by the latest proving. Updated as and when I've got anything to say and the time to say it. (I may also update existing posts from time to time if they seem to need expansion and clarification.)


Creative Commons License  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

Revitalised and sun-tanned

June 7th, 2009

This blog has had quite an extended holiday. And like most of us after a good holiday, it’s come back all revitalised and sun-tanned.

At last I’ve finally (what’s that they say about the cobbler’s bairns …?) upgraded it to WordPress software! All posts and comments have been transferred from the original manually-maintained blog. It should be a bit easier to use now, and much easier to find previous posts on various subjects.

I’ve also transferred my website hosting to Solar Host who are one of the very few hosting companies I’ve found whose sites are genuinely powered 100% by renewable energy. Several hosting companies, particularly in the US, are making a big deal of providing hosting powered 100% (or even 300%!) by renewable energy, but when you read the small print, you find that they use grid-powered data centres just like everyone else and the only difference between them and other hosting companies is that they’ve purchased “green energy tags”, “certified renewable energy credits”, “renewable energy certificate system (RECS)” or “carbon offsetting” to cover their calculated power usage. While this is undoubtedly better than nothing, and many of the companies seem genuinely concerned about the environment, this is “green” hosting by accounting convention only and is not really what it claims to be. It’s not hosting powered directly and exclusively by real world onsite renewable energy.

Ecological Hosting and Solar Host are different. They both host all their sites at a 100% solar-powered Californian data centre which is the only commercially available facility of it’s kind in the world at the moment. This data centre, created and run by Phil Nail of AISO, has an energy-efficient design and construction, uses servers controlled by chips that consume 60% less energy and generate 50% less heat than the most popular brands, source their water through rainwater harvesting, run refrigerant-free natural air conditioning to cool the servers and offices, use solar tubes for all their daytime lighting and are currently installing a turf roof. They don’t just use renewable energy, but work on being incredibly efficient in their use of power. Their Power Usage Effectiveness rating is 1.14 (1.00 would indicate 100% efficiency, ie. all their power is effectively used by the IT equipment). Most US data centres operate with a PUE between 2.0 and 3.0.

Ecological Hosting and Solar Host both rent dedicated servers from AISO which allow them to configure and offer their own hosting plans. There are also a number of UK resellers of AISO’s hosting plans, including Lightbeing CreationsEco Web DesignGreen Web Hosting, and Solar Web Host.

To me, this facility and the companies using it as their data centre are well worth supporting and encouraging as the internet continues to expand and demand more and more power to run. What amazes me is why there aren’t more facilities like this in Europe, particularly southern Europe where there’s no shortage of sun.

Pigs might fly

May 7th, 2009

Pigs might fly

“It is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
Carl Gustav Jung

Haven’t we been here before?

And I’m not talking about 1918, but the avian flu scare that took flight at the end of 2005. About the only upshot worthy of note from that little global panic attack was the fat profits made by Roche Pharmaceuticals in the wake of their highly successful Tamiflu® marketing campaign that saw governments stockpiling the stuff with the idea of dosing every member of their populations. But since the goose that laid the golden egg has now well and truly flown the coop on that one, I guess it’s time for the viral marketing specialists to jump species and give it another go. After all, it’s a well tried and successful formula and we seem to fall for it every time.

A few journalists, like Simon Jenkins in The Guardian and Deborah Orr in The Independent, have tried injecting a strong dose of at least some reason into the general hysteria, but to little avail. This morning the postman dropped an NHS leaflet entitled “Important Information About Swine Flu” on my doorstep. (You can download a copy here if you don’t already have it.) This “public information” campaign is really scraping the trough when it comes to trying to spin a convincing yarn (as well as aiming itself at a reading and comprehension age somewhere around the 7-10 year-old mark). Take these extracts for instance

“Because it’s a new virus, no one will have immunity to it and everyone could be at risk of catching it.”

Err, well, um … That’s actually true of the vast majority of flu outbreaks. Viruses mutate. That’s part of their job desciption. This year’s flu isn’t the same as last year’s flu or the year before or the year before that, (which is one of the principle reasons why vaccinating people against last year’s flu with the aim of protecting them against this year’s is so nonsensical, at least if you’re coming from the perspective of disease prevention and prophylaxis).

“Pandemic flu is different from ordinary flu because it’s a new virus that appears in humans and spreads very quickly from person to person worldwide.”

That’s not actually the definition of a pandemic. The principal criterion for a pandemic is the number of people affected (the word comes from the Greek ‘pan’ = all and ‘demos’ = people). This is necessarily far in excess of an epidemic, which itself is a widespread and prevalent occurence of a particular disease that quickly and severely affects a large number of people. Swine flu isn’t even coming close to approaching an epidemic yet.

To put this in even clearer perspective, since January, around 13,000 people in the US alone will have died of complications from “ordinary” flu, It’s estimated that “ordinary” flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 worldwide annually.

Modern medicine also seems to continually forget this, but the difference between “ordinary” flu and flu that becomes a pandemic is as much to do with the people it infects as it is anything to do with the virus itself. In 1918, the world had just been through 4 years of the first World War. War is an intense and devastating trauma that substantially lowers the immunity of entire populations affected by it. We’re not in that space right now. Though give the global recession a few more years and who knows …?

There were also doctors at the time who noticed correlations that made them suspect a decidedly more man-made aetiology.

In the last swine flu panic in 1976 we were told that thousands might die and to prevent that 40 million US citizens were vaccinated. Thousands developed permanent paralytic nervous problems and dozens died from the vaccine. Only one person actually died from the flu, and it never moved outside the Fort Dix area in New Jersey where it was first identified.

Of course the stockpile of Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) purchased back in 2005-06 will be coming to the end of its shelf life soon. If there were reason enough to get governments to distribute it all to their populations (though not before demand is stoked to fever pitch by empty pharmacies – pharmacies emptied by people who’ve paid $100 a prescription for a course of the drug), then the storehouses will be bare again and ripe for refilling. What’s more, if the flu isn’t actually that bad to begin with, then the “success” at preventing worldwide population devastation can all be attributed to the drug! Bingo! What better way of ensuring continuing healthy profits during a global recession? Or of boosting the reputation of a drug which, at best, seems to shorten the duration of the flu by a mere 24 hours, and at worst will have you vomiting, coming out in skin reactions, suffering cramping pains, headaches, deafness and insomnia, and even commiting suicide? (And let’s keep quiet about the fact that the CDC have detected widespread oseltamivir resistance in nearly all of the influenza A (H1N1) viruses tested so far during the 2008–09 season.) Jings, this is all so easy! We could all be pigs at the trough chowing down on fat salaries as pharmaceutical industry strategists!

Cynical? Moi?

HEALTH WARNING: If you intend taking Tamiflu, and especially if you’re considering giving it to your children, PLEASE read this site first.

Changing times

January 30th, 2009

“I think if we could get Earth in a living and stable state, not a constantly degrading and dying state caused by our actions, then we have won some right to go to the stars. But at present I don’t think we’d be welcome anywhere else in the universe. You wouldn’t welcome anybody who’d laid waste to their house and wanted to live in yours, I’m sure.”
Bill Mollison

I finished my last post on September 7th (jings, was it that long ago?!) with the words “Time to emigrate …” but had absolutely no idea at the time just how prophetic they’d turn out to be. Not that we’re emigrating quite yet – there will be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over the next while – but the seeds are sown.

A lot has happened in the last 4 months. Rather than explain it all in great detail again here, you can get the full story at the new site I’ve created here, which is a much more personal one than smeddum is or will continue to be.

Really it boils down to the opening paragraph of my first blog entry on the new site:

The older I’ve got and the more I’ve observed of nature and how humans play their part in it, the more disgusted I’ve become with so much blind stupidity and greed, and the arrogance, hubris and species chauvanism that supports it. But disgust has little to offer (apart from being an incentive to change), and to stay in that state is to continue to be part of the problem, not the solution.

I’ve had more than enough of being part of the problem. Each time I’ve needed to do some maintenance on this site which has involved reviewing a page or several of this blog, I’ve found myself wryly but inescapably facing the amount of criticising I’ve been doing. Sure, much of it might be a reasonably accurate observation of the general craziness out there, but equally well I had to face the fact that it was as much a reasonably accurate observation of the general craziness in here – an expression of frustration at my own paralysis and inaction in the face of things which clearly called for a more proactive transformational approach. Time for ‘Disgusted of Finchley’ to get out of the armchair and get digging.

It’s got to be more than skin deep. Got to walk it right the way home to earn the right to talk it.

Happy New Year all.

A hole in the wall

September 7th, 2008

“A teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.”
Arthur C Clarke

I subscribe to TED talks and last week received their latest selection of video links. One in particular caught me, so after watching it I posted it to a home education forum I participate on. Since then, I’ve noticed posts about it and links to it in all sorts of places, so clearly I was one among many and it’s a talk that’s grabbed a lot of people’s attention.

Why should this talk be so remarkable? It describes an educational project in India to examine the role of information technology in education, and formed part of a wider study into the impact of such things as urban poverty and rural isolation – both expressions of remoteness – on educational achievement. What’s so compelling about it is that in devising his Hole in the Wall project, Sugata Mitra revealed an essential truth about human nature that our conditioned thinking about modern education seems to have completely blinded us to. This is a hole in the wall in far more ways than one.

Mitra’s premise was that education technology had consistently been trialled in all the places that would least benefit from it. High-achieving schools in affluent neighbourhoods are already high-achieving: any improvement through the use of ET would be marginal at best. He wanted to see what impact it would have at the opposite end of the scale. His holes in the wall were quite literally that – a hole in a wall filled by a PC monitor and touchpad – and they were installed in places where children were unlikely to have ever encountered one before. Urban slums. Isolated villages in the hills. The PCs were installed, switched on, and left running either a search engine where internet was available, or a computer game on CD where it wasn’t. Both the search engine and CD games were English-language based. That was it. Cameras were set up to monitor what happened next, and the machines were left for the local children to discover them.

Watch and listen for yourself …

You can download a high resolution version here (283.4MB).

What is so extraordinary about this experiment is not that the children reacted the way they did – what they did was perfectly natural. Left to our own devices, it’s what human beings do. What is so extraordinary is that the collective “wisdom” that’s emerged from 140 years of compulsory, organised, authority-based, institutionalised education should be so ignorant of this simple fact. Bertrand Russell (below) was spot on.

“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.”
Bertrand Russell

Stupid isn’t the half of it. Forcibly incarcerate children in a system which frustrates and represses these natural instincts for self-organised community learning and discovery, and it’s no wonder our state education system is in the parlous state it’s in and why it’s dismally failing so many.

And England’s answer to this? Force children to stay in the system a further year until they’re 17. If, by the age of 16, all natural curiosity and desire for learning has been comprehensively squashed, exactly how is another year of the same going to be of any benefit? At least Scotland, Wales and N Ireland have had the good sense not to follow suit.

“A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university … This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.”
R D Laing

But what’s even more revealing (and depressing) are the comments posted to this article. If these constitute a representative sampling of the British public, then not only does it vivdly confirm the nation’s appallingly low rankings in child friendliness, but leaves no doubt that a sizeable proportion of the population eagerly support the establishment of a totalitarian state.

An example:

“If a child cannot read, write, and hold a sensible conversation about current affairs (and not just the latest reality tv rubbish or ‘pop’ music) by the age of 14 they should be sent out to work in a factory or forced to do some form of community service.”

Time to emigrate …

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
Albert Einstein


August 25th, 2008

"I Shop Therefore I Am" by Barbara Kruger

“I am always telling people that our century is very important historically for the planet. There is a big competition between world peace and world war, between the force of mind and the force of materialism, between democracy and totalitarianism. And now within this century, the force of peace is gaining the upper hand. Still, of course, the material force is very strong, but there is a kind of dissatisfaction about materialism and a realization or feeling that something is missing.”
Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Back on the word meanings again. I do love how so much of what seems to be crying out for our attention is hiding in plain sight, or should I say lurking in plain hearing – in the everyday colloquialisms of the language that we let trip off our tongues without a second thought. This time it’s stuff.

Is it any accident just how eloquently the juxtaposition of the myriad colloquial meanings of the word (especially in British English) expresses the fact that stuffing ourselves has got us – not to mention the planet – well and truly stuffed? The sterner stuff that keeps us on the stuff-creating treadmill is ultimately just stuff and nonsense. We’re stuffed up with stuff. Time we told it to get stuffed. Is it any accident either that our newest coolest word for stuff – stuffage – seems to hint at a concept that’s passed its sell-by date?

I’ve just been reading Jeffrey Kaplan’s article The Gospel of Consumption which paints a disturbingly clear picture of the evolution of our presernt situation, and of how a more sensible, humane and human alternative was deliberately subverted. As one commenter put it,

“It is a strange experience to realize (again and again and again) that our society’s misfortunes can be attributed to the greed of a few and how far-reaching a handful of events, conversations, meetings, etc. can be in establishing a widespread, mostly-unquestioned paradigm. Kudos to the author for presenting this information in an approachable manner that will hopefully encourage a few of us hamsters to question the wheel and, perhaps, begin devising a way to step outside of the cage.”

And to go with the article, here’s some essential viewing (click on the image or here):

The Story of Stuff

As the blurb says,

“The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. “

This sort of stuff is the stuff of real progress.

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard