All entries for April 2006

April 28, 2006

Energy beyond oil talk

Last term, Paul Mobbs (an engineer, activist and author of 'energy beyond oil') was meant to speak during Go Green week but unfortunately couldn't make it due to illness. Instead, he is coming to speak next friday (5th May 2006). The talk is at 4pm in MS04, new maths building. Whilst I don't agree with much of Mobb's views and analysis, I think considering all views and contribution to the energy debate is important, and judging by blogs I'm not alone in my interest in this issue. Sadly I can't make it as I'll be 130 miles away next friday, but for those who are interested the talk is there.

April 22, 2006

Continuing the political theme

"Sleaze has become the hallmark of the dying days of this administration" – Tony Blair just before the 1997 election


April 21, 2006

Political comedy

Follow-up to This is worth a look from From tractors to reactors

Again alerted to me by Iain Dale, this is a piss-take of the Labour "Dave the Chameleon" campaign I blogged about a couple of days ago. Watch that before you watch this if you haven't already, and enjoy a good political chuckle :-)

The video can be viewed here.


April 20, 2006

I've finished my deadline work for this week, so here's a meme!

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Name:
Christopher Stephen Sigournay

Birthday:
14th August 1984. I'm a young'un

Birthplace:
Taunton, Somerset

Current Location:
My room in Tocil, campus

Eye Colour:
Brown. Although the light must have been on them in a weird way because Amy B decided that they were orangey yellow yesterday. Unless she meant the not-so-whites of my eyes!

Hair Color:
Darkish brown

Height:
5'10". Currently awaiting arrest by the European Commission for refusing to give up proper measurement

Right Handed or Left Handed:
Right handed. Did you know that left handed people make up 75% of mental health patients?

Your Heritage:
English. My family name comes from migrants at around 1700, but have had many many generations of Sigournay's here since then (think I'm 11th). And my mother's family are farmers from Devon way. Both my paternal grandparents are Cockneys

The Shoes You Wore Today:
My off-white trainers. They were originally properly white, but I wear them a lot. I'm very much slated for my footwear by my friends who seek to advise me on matters of fashion, but I buy cheap, comfortable and practical footwear that looks ok to me

Your Weakness:
An inability to compromise and give ground. And caring far too much, a lot more than most people know

Your Fears:
Failure, loneliness and restricted freedoms

Your Perfect Pizza:
Margherita with ham, standard base

Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year:
Complete my degree with a first, drive the Warwick Formula Student car to the highest position we've ever achieved (top 10 would be great, top 5 would be out of this world), get through my summer without getting a bollocking from my boss, get a new car by the end of the year

Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger:
"Uh-huh" (which is not meant to be dismissive!)

Thoughts First Waking Up:
Run through my to-do list for the day and decide if I want to have a bacon sandwich or jam on toast for breakfast

Your Best Physical Feature:
I have received compliments on my chin (which I'm indifferent to), my eyebrows (which I don't like), and my bum (which I'm indifferent to). I would like to have slightly more muscular arms without their ridiculous hairiness on the bits where my t-shirt covers up, but until I get back into some form of physical activity that's not happening

Your Bedtime:
Ideally I like to be in bed between midnight and 1 because I'm an early riser (between 7 and 7:30 usually), but if I'm working or procrastinating at uni then it's anything from 1 to about 3. Or sometimes not at all

Your Most Missed Memory:
Kestor, the house I grew up in when I was in Somerset. Closely followed by working out in the countryside, or watching May and June go by in Somerset. I wish I could spend a few weeks there around that time, I haven't been able to since uni started

Pepsi or Coke:
Coke every day of the week. Pepsi is piss by comparison

McDonalds or Burger King:
McDonald's. Large quarter pounder with cheese and a sprite every time

Single or Group Dates:
Just me and my date. I've never tried group dating, but I'd imagine it to be scary unless you knew other people. Which in that case could very easily get political

Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea:
Neither

Chocolate or Vanilla:
Vanilla. Chocolate is ok, but vanilla is better. Rasberry ripple or mint choc chip are the best though

Cappuccino or Coffee:
Hot chocolate is the only hot drink I can stand. Unless cuppa soups count as hot drinks

Do you Smoke:
I smoke tyres a lot. And I cook brakes (my last set of discs and pads lasted 20,000 miles). But apart from when I'm in a vehicle, the only time you'd see me making smoke is if I was burning things

Do you Swear:
Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

Do you Sing:
Very occassionally. Only when driving really, I don't sing in the shower at all or much when I'm in my room, and never in front of others

Do you Shower Daily:
Yes. My hair should be declared as the main non-conventional oil reserve for the UK, Shell could make a fortune out of me. Consequently, I wash it daily to avoid a complete mess on my head (and it needs re-gelling after sleeping anyway, as the high grease content means my hair restyles itself overnight)

Have you Been in Love:
Yes

Do you want to get Married:
Unsure at present. I always used to think I wanted to, but right now I'm unsure and I have other things I'd rather think about

Do you believe in yourself:
Mostly. I like to think I know myself – if I can do something, I know I can. If I can't do something, I know I can't. Mostly I can do the things I want to, and the things I can't do I'm not terribly fussed about

Do you get Motion Sickness:
Never. Roller coasters, fast cars, boats in rough seas… Never had any motion sickness. I did once feel exhausted after half an hour's aerobatics though, it takes it out of you more than you think

Do you think you are Attractive:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. From the feedback I get back from people I know, I would say I'm physically attractive, but that my mannerisms can be attractive or offputting in equal measure. Probably unequal in favour of being offputting actually. Whatever it is that initially attracts women to me though, it doesn't last

Are you a Health Freak:
No. I like to keep reasonably healthy, I have a strong immune system and resilient body. But I don't particularly take the best care of it with well planned diets, plenty of exercise or avoiding damaging me. My body is lived in and gets plenty of wear and tear. But I think I eat sensibly mostly – I conciously restrict my sweets and crisp intake, and try to eat some fruit and drink plenty every day

Do you get along with your Parents:
Yes

Do you like Thunderstorms:
Thunderstorms are nature's firework shows, and as such are great fun to watch. Especially when they're really close, loud and it's belting down with rain. Really spectacular things

Do you play an Instrument:
I am capable of dicking about with a guitar a little bit because I learnt it when I was younger, but I never had the patience for music. I'm just not into it enough to practise; I'd rather be learning how to do other things

In the past month have you Drank Alcohol:
Yes. I miss proper cider when I'm up here though :-(

In the past month have you Smoked:
I've never smoked in my life

In the past month have you been on Drugs:
No. Not even Pro Plus or Red Bull

In the past month have you gone on a Date:
I last went out with Alayne about a month ago

In the past month have you gone to a Mall:
No. I avoid shopping where possible

In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos:
I think Oreos are some kind of chocolate sweet. I've never tried them though

In the past month have you eaten Sushi:
Never tried that either

In the past month have you been on Stage:
I had to give a presentation last week, but I don't do performing/acting

In the past month have you been Dumped:
I think dumped isn't really the right word. That implies some kind of real harshness. I would say I've been broken up with in the past month

In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping:
I've never been skinny dipping

In the past month have you Stolen Anything:
No

Ever been Drunk:
Yes

Ever been called a Tease:
Yes

Ever been Beaten up:
No. I've been hit at school, but I fought back quite well so I guess that's not really getting "beaten up". That implies some kind of helplessness I think

Ever Shoplifted:
No

How do you want to die:
Old and happy, at peace with myself and those around me, and with a life to look back on that I can be proud of and content that I gave it my all

What do you want to be when you Grow Up:
Rich

What country would you most like to Visit:
New Zealand

In a Girl…

*Favourite Eye Color:*
No real preference. I think blue eyes are pretty though

Favourite Hair Color:
Not bothered between redhead, light brown, brunette or blonde. All can be pretty

Short or Long Hair:
Long. Some short hair can look good though, and you don't get a mouthful of it

Height:
Between 5'3" and 5'7"

Weight:
I don't really know about weight; I find it difficult to judge. Between a dress size 10 and 14 though is about right I think.

Best Clothing Style:
Casual dressed down works well for me – jeans or slightly above knee length skirt (not a really loose one), casual top. I also like the dressed up professional look on some women though. I'm very particular about shoes – I much prefer girls to wear boots without much heel to strappy/pointy shoes or stilhettos

Number of Drugs I have taken:
Illegal? Zero

Number of CDs I own:
I dunno, about 10 to 15 music CD's I've bought I guess

Number of Piercings:
None

Number of Tattoos:
None

Number of things in my Past I Regret:
More than I care to mention


April 19, 2006

This is worth a look

Writing about web page http://www.davethechameleon.com

I was alerted to this from Iain Dale's blog. Normally you wouldn't find me advertising Labour's election material, but I strongly urge people to go take a look at the above site to see just how comical Labour's advertising has become. I'd be annoyed at the 100% negative campaign they are running if it wasn't so downright funny! For the Labour party of all people, who have Tony Blair in charge of their party and have done for over a decade now, to accuse their rivals of having a chameleon of a leader is about the most hypocritical thing I've seen… Well, ever really. I find it strange how Labour's main election strategy for years now has been of mud-slinging at the Conservatives; surely having been in power for two terms now they should have plenty of success to promote instead. If the best the party machine can come up with is this campaign, I suspect success stories are even thinner on the ground than even I thought.

In case anyone is interested, you can compare the Labour campaign above against the Conservative one here. Solely on the strength of these campaigns, which would get your vote?


April 17, 2006

I've been tagged

Thank you to Lindsey for tagging me, which means apparently that I have to blog 6 weird habits of mine. I therefore have had to think of 6 things that seem perfectly normal to me but everyone else might find weird. Here goes:

1. I iron everything. Everything, that is, but underwear and socks. Note, this therefore means that I iron jeans (apparently slightly odd), duvet covers and bedsheets, and towels (which even I admit is a little weird).

2. I eat very methodically. I will eat one thing at a time from my plate, I practically never mix more than one food type on the fork or start on another thing on my plate before I've finished the first. I even eat things in the same order every time. Roasts for example it goes greens, meat, potatos, carrots, parsnips, yorkshire pudding. Never altered.

3. My method of dealing with wasps in my room involves a can of spray deodourant and a lighter. Apparently to most people this is weird.

4. I will try my damndest to shave the last few seconds off of my journey time, and then spend huge amounts of time in my life procrastinating or doing time consuming and not very necessary tasks. Like ironing. Or cleaning my car, which I do an awful lot.

5. When I have a drink from a can, I have to crush the can afterward with my hands. If it's from a bottle, I usually have to throw it around up in the air and then catch it for a while (I just generally have to keep my hands busy all the time; I'm a dreadful fidget). And I usually eat the ice in a drink if it's provided.

6. My brain isn't very good at interpreting speech or paying a great deal of attention. Consequently, if someone has said something to me and I haven't been paying enough attention, I'll say "what?" and then my brain will replay what they said and I'll think about it, and answer the question without the other person needing to repeat themselves. I'm sure this infuriates the crap out of people.

And now the fun part where I get to tag 6 people… I'm going to go with Chris H, Lorna (because you don't want to be left out!), Amy B, SiY, Em and Vicky G. Enjoy!


April 07, 2006

Why H5N1 isn't to be taken so lightly

DON'T PANIC (A la Hitch hiker's guide)

I've noted a lot of people over the past couple of days talking on blogs about avian influenza and the spread of the H5N1 virus around the globe, now confirmed also in the UK. Most people seem to be rubbishing the media coverage as being panic inducing, pointing to the facts that H5N1 and other strains of avian influenza are only spread to humans in rare cases, and even then only with direct contact with infected or dead birds. While there's some truth to this, it doesn't paint the whole story.

If you do a little background reading on avian influenza then you quickly learn an awful lot more than you do from the media coverage. Check out Wikipedia's section on it and also the Department of Health information page on avian influenza. There are a number of facts that stand out to me here, which make it very different from previous health scares such as BSE and SARS, which I believe have made us immune to media coverage in a manner analogous to the story of the boy who cried wolf:

  • The current variation of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, and rapidly spreading across the globe

  • Like all viruses, it mutates with ease. We know what factors make a flu virus a human virus (easily passed from one human to another human), and from this knowledge we know that H5N1 is the biggest pandemic threat of all stains of influenza in circulation. It is just one antigenic shift mutation or a couple of antigenic drift mutations from being an avian influenza virus to a human influenza virus

  • The difference between an epidemic (such as the regular outbreaks of influenza we have yearly) and a pandemic is that a pandemic threatens a global population, compared to an epidemic which is concentrated on one population

  • In order for a flu pandemic to occur from H5N1, it must first mutate into a form in which it can transmit easily between humans. This rapidly will then turn into an epidemic if not caught, and then from an epidemic it will become a pandemic. Experts widely believe that it will not be possible to prevent any of these stages from happening with H5N1

  • Pandemics have the capability to kill millions, if not hundreds of millions of people. The current worst case projection for H5N1 is somewhere around 150 million

  • This has happened before. In 1918 and 1919, an avian influenza became pathogenic and killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide (called "Spanish flu"). And compared to today, world travel was minimal.

  • There are serious technical problems with combatting a pandemic with vaccines. Once the virus it identified, the development takes several months. H5 appears to require relatively large doses of vaccine to be effective. A large trial found two injections at 6 times the strength of a seasonal flu jab (which you only get once a year, if you have one) gave protection in only 54% of a population. Currently, the world has the capability to produce around 900 million does at a strength for the seasonal flu jab; therefore we would need at least 12 times this production capacity just to immunise less than a sixth of the world population with 54% success rate. Furthermore, there are two different clades (like branches) of virus in circulation. Research is focused on clade 1 viruses; the clade 2 virus is antigenically distinct and a clade 1 vaccine will be unlikely to offer protection against a clade 2 virus pandemic

  • About the only bit of positive news on H5N1 is that it currently hasn't mutated into a human virus, so as yet we have little to fear from it. Most experts believe it's not a matter of if but when this happens though. There's no need to panic right this instant, but taking it seriously would be wise

I would like at this point to explain why I'm making these points. Firstly, I'd like to educate people beyond the media hype; I believe the readership here has more than enough brains to grasp more than the basic facts you can hear on the 10 o'clock news. Secondly, I want to make it clear to people that it's not a case of the authorities crying wolf, there is a very real danger here for a huge virus outbreak. I don't however write this with the view of initiating mass panic. Rather, I think it's important to approach the facts with a level head and accept the reality of a possible outbreak, but when that outbreak happens (it could be tomorrow, it could be in a year, it could never happen) we have prepared ourselves for it, that we don't panic, and that we have well thought out contingency plans to put into place.

Awaiting corrections on the technicalities from Craig and other biochemists/geneticists etc.


April 05, 2006

A survey most people might not have seen…

… Cause I nicked it from Lindsey's LJ. So anyway, here goes…

Can you name 12 people you can think of right off the top of your head? Don't read the questions underneath until you write the names of all 12 people…This is a lot funnier if you actually randomly list the names first…No Cheating!!!

1. Chris
2. Lindsey
3. Laura
4. Amy B
5. Em-bob
6. Amy H
7. Ben
8. Chris P
9. Kim
10. Alayne
11. Dave
12. Craig

THE QUESTIONS:

How did you meet 10? She's a friend of Kim's. I met her at the pub on New Year's eve, although I'd talked to her before then.

What would you do if you had never met 1? Well given the number of times he's saved my life from disaster, I guess I'd be in a lot worse shape!

What would you do if 5 and 2 dated? They're both girls and they're both straight. So raise an eyebrow!

Have you ever seen 4 cry? No

Would 7 and 8 make a good couple? They're both straight and Chris P is getting married in June… So again I think no

Describe 9: Kim's a very people-person, kind hearted and bubbly, but she needs to cheer up sometimes and be a little positive/have a little patience. Luv ya Kim!

Do you think 12 is attractive: I personally don't find Craig attractive, no. I'm sure this is of much relief to Craig!

Tell me something about number 3: Laura is one of the cheeriest people I know. I don't think I've ever seen or spoken to Laura when she's that upset!

What's 9's favorite color? I have NO clue! I recall she wears purple every once in a while though. Purple is a good colour for her

What would you do if 7 just confessed they liked you? Again, Ben's straight and I'm straight… So probably laugh and suggest he was winding me up!

When was the last time you talked to number 1? On MSN? Last night. I haven't spoken to him voice-wise since the end of term though.

What language does 6 speak? English and Ken-house, which I frequently get lost in.

Who is 5 going out with? As far as I know, she's single. Form an orderly queue chaps!

What does 1 do for a living? He's currently a finalist at university with me, but the git already has an operations management job at Rolls Royce lined up. Good effort sir, could use a bit of your job finding technique though!

Would you ever date 4? I'm great friends with 4 but I think that's where it's staying. We work well as friends and I wouldn't want to mess that up in any case.

Would you ever date 10? Well I did, so I guess yes!

Is 2 single? Yeap that she is.

Where does 8 live? I believe in Enfield, London. If not there then somewhere near there.

What do you think about 2? I was Lindsey's 2, so her answer "We're the opposite sides of a coin, with the middle area being the FEW things we have in common!" is quite appropriate. She cheers me up with her randomness when I'm down. Mostly, I think she lives too damned far away though!

What is the best thing about 11? I have memories of quite a few fun chats with Dave about all sorts of destructive contraptions and whatnot… Good times.

What is the best and worst thing about 5? She's really supportive when I need a friend, and offers good perspective. I appreciate her muchly for it.

Are you going to know 4 forever? I'd like to think so. You can't predict the future, but I see no reason why not.

Who is 9 going out with? She's single. Again, gentlemen form an orderly queue!


April 04, 2006

The wheels are at last beginning to turn

Writing about web page http://www.morrisons.co.uk/1424.asp

It would seem that at long last, biofuels are beginning to arrive in this country properly. I found this after seeing an advert for it outside our local Morrison's. I'm not going to pretend that the opening of one pump is going to change the world, but it does signify the start of biofuels properly arriving in the UK. E85's been around in the states for ages, and it's about time we had it too. I'm definitely going to look into modifying my next car to run on it if more stations open up. The blended biodiesel is also taking a while to arrive in this country; I really wish they'd hurry this up a little. Still, such is the slow march of change, and at least we can see that it is marching, even if very slowly!

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