23 November 2007

6 free range eggs

Quoting Waitrose, "Columbian Blacktail Hens - these British-reared laying hens thrive on the freedom of their outdoor life and are kept in small flocks on the open pastures of family run farms."

I'm all for fair treatment of animals, but 'free range' would have been ample.

"Our hens are ethically raised by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, woken gently each morning by the sounds of pan pipes playing and provided with relaxation day tokens to spend at their nearest Hilton hotel."

Image: Michael Grunow

21 November 2007

High speed flip flop

So I'm browsing the latest issue of Patents and Designs Journal, just for fun, as you do. And I come across a patent application for a 'high speed flip flip'. Wow, I think, what's that? Sounds kinda spacey. Maybe it's a beach shoe with rocket blasters that makes an annoying 'thwack' noise... So I run a quick search on patent application number GB0719451.7 and discover there's no information on it. Hmm, slightly irritating, but I'll live.

Next thing is, on page 5226, someone's trying to patent a 'seagull tidy'. What? Like a desk tidy but for seagulls? Now this I have to see. Sure I won't be disappointed a second time, I feed the number into the patent finding machine. And it spits out... nothing. Again.

Okay, so last try. According to PDJ, Gavin Waxkirsh is planning to patent a bubble-blowing showerhead. Ooh, that sounds like fun. I don't know what possible use it could be - probably about as much use as a high speed flip flop or a seagull tidy - but I want to have a gander at it. So, typing the number in very slowly and carefully (perhaps this will encourage the search engine to look a bit harder) I give it one more shot. Aaaand, zip. Nowt.

On all three occasions I am told, quite abruptly "! Application details not yet published."

What do you mean, "not yet published"? You've just published them in your own sodding journal! You can't allude to a rocket powered flip flop* and then leave us all dangling for three years whilst you make your mind up about it.

So if anyone knows where I might find the details of a patent application and how soon they become available, do tell. I've got a garden full of seagulls I'd like to put in order.

*I have a suspicion this might turn out to be something rather boring to do with electronics, and not, as one would hope, some sort of futuristic sandal.

14 November 2007

Forgotten how to laugh

I've been watching repeats of Have I Got News for You lately, which, now I think about it, strikes me as a rather pointless exercise, being as all the news in them happened months ago... I think it's a work avoidance tactic.


I watched a show the other night with a fellow science communicator and an archaeologist. At one point, Paul Merton and co. were taking the mickey out of a scientist for getting over excited about spaghetti physics. A comedy photo of said scientist (honoured at last year's Ig Nobels) was shown wearing a white lab coat, eyes near popping from his head at the sight of raw spaghetti breaking.

General hilarity and derision ensued; as, we're taught, is often the case when science comes under the scrutiny of the media. Both science communicators sat silently, intestines tying themselves in knots no doubt, while the archaeologist chortled along with Merton obliviously.

This was last year's Ig Nobels. They're meant to be funny, dammit.

Really, I thought afterwards, no wonder science communication is in a state. We've had it drummed into us for so long that it's WRONG to stereotype scientists and EVIL to laugh at them, that we've not an ounce of humour left for white coat jokes, even Paul Merton's. What a shame.

4 November 2007


Note to self: this needs exploring.

I had a very entertaining conversation in the car on the way back from the Downend fireworks extravaganza (a.k.a. Chaville Tennessee) on Friday night. It culminated in the bold assertion by Passenger Seat that Mr. Hayley was more of a chav than me. At which point Back Seat Driver 1 countered that I drove a Peugeot and was therefore more chavvy.

What makes someone a chav and do we all have elements of chav that we're happy to embrace? Do we all, in a sense, attain different levels of chaviness? Is wearing gold hoop earrings to chavvy what bad apostrophe use is to dyslexic?