All entries for December 2004
December 30, 2004
Graphic created by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The total energy released by the earthquake, I've read, was equivalent to the total amount of energy consumed (by human activity, I assume) in America in a whole month. The Earth wobbled about its axis by as much as an inch and its rate of rotation increased, shortening the legth of a day by up to 3 microseconds. (Apparently tidal effects from the moon's gravity lengthen Earth days by 15 microseconds every year anyway, so I wouldn't worry).
I'm a little more sceptical of the article's other claim, that the same energy could boil 5000 litres of water for every person on earth. Actually, just thinking aloud here (back-of-the-envelope calculations all the way!) and combining it with the America statistic above, that means every US citizen uses energy equivalent to boiling 3800 litres every day. Include industrial processes, transportation etc. and that can't be far wrong – so the 5000 litre fact is about right. That energy was released all at once. Wow.
Another less awesome fact is that in some areas, so many bodies have been cremated they're appealing for more kerosene to continue the clear-up efforts. As I said before, 0870 60 60 900.
December 27, 2004
Writing about web page http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/portal/Default.asp?url=ARTICLE&article_id=202Felicitous news, people! The guys at UWSU Ents have seen fit to grant us not two but THREE nights of Crash this coming term! Add that to the Battle of the Bands final and we get four, yes four nights of non-rubbish music out of 67. Ah well, small mercies and all that.
December 25, 2004
There was I thinking it would be really sad to blog on Christmas Day, but it seems I'm in a minority of one. If that's a sign that I'm the only attention-seeking WB'er with any self-respect remaining then so be it, but that self-respect is clearly something I can do without.
It's been a great family Christmas with all the trimmings & I feel filled with festive good cheer. It's a sure sign of reaching manhood when your Christmas presents include shoes and a power drill :-D
Normal service will resume shortly.
December 24, 2004
Merry Christmas one and all! Hope to see some or most of those of you I encounter regularly on the blogs system, some time in the new year!
December 22, 2004
Thought I'd keep the blog-momentum going with some anecdotal amusement from my Dutch business course thingywhatsit.
Young Professional (about to launch into a Transferrable Skills talk): Now, how much of your time do you think you spend negotiating with other people? Put your hand up if you think it's 0 – 10%... 10–20%?... 20–50%?... More than 50%?...
A fairly even split
Voice from the back: Well it depends if you've got a boy- or girlfriend.
December 21, 2004
But I'm pro-European! I'm pro-Europe, I'm just anti-Brussels.
– Jim Hacker MP, Minister of Administrative Affairs
I've just been watching "Yes, Minister" and want to issue my recommendation. It's almost 25 years old now but still as funny (and true (and hence scary)) as it ever was.
December 20, 2004
Courtesy of googlism.
December 19, 2004
Shamelessly stealing a concept from Othersimon, may I inform you that:
- Simon Young is a writer who listens to your needs.
- Simon Young is.
- Simon Young is also attending the meeting.
- Simon Young is one from which we can all learn quite a bit.
Despite poor grammar, I'll let that last point stand. Incidentally, from the same source, it may interest you to know that
- Warwick University is to stop trying to bend minds.
December 18, 2004
Well it seems I've missed lots of excitement in the few days I was away, what with changes to the home page and this new favourites feature! I've put some favourites down the sidebar, but I must have another 25 blogs bookmarked which I check a couple of times a week. (Note to self: please re-read previous sentence and take appropriate action, a.k.a. get-a-life).
Also I've decided that it's close enough to Christmas to justify a festive colour scheme. Merry Yuletide.
Now for the home page! I agree with many of the sentiments being expressed by Dan et al, although I'm reasonably willing to click one extra time to view Most Recent entries. I understand some of the University's concerns at impressions conveyed by subjects previously shown in a cross-section of the Hot Topics or Recent post – but the point is that it represented a true cross-section of WB!
Anybody who tried to browse through the system would immediately see that the number of people blogging "silly" far outweighs strict academic exercise – and thank God, because while university students should (and largely do) have a passion for their subjects, that's no reason to expect them not to have other interests or a need to let off some comical steam. The system is up and running now, and this is how it's developing. It almost seems like somebody in University House is embarrassed that we're not sat discussing Plato, Chaucer, Brecht, Freud and Brunel and wants to hide all trace of actual content from casual browsers (corporate sponsors or prospective students).
Browsing WB by department is frustrating and almost futile – the system is currently at about 5.4 posts per blog, with many completely empty blogs balancing out the high productivity of a small number of bloggers. Browsing by other peoples' Favourites lists is an improvement, but probably very easy to get into a self-referential loop. Recent Posts is a great way to find new blogs, as everything has an equal chance of being seen. What is missing, though, is some way of facilitating intelligent discussion.
I think most WB'ers are agreed that the mechanism of Hot Topics was open to abuse and was indeed often abused. I can even see how prospective bloggers may have felt slightly put off that the same dozen names often appeared on the list, and that everybody in those conversations appeared to know each other. However, it was a great way to find out who was talking about what, and to give some input of one's own. Browsing through sites belonging to random blog commenters was a great way to find new authors, and reading the comments themselves a great way to hear new opinions.
It's been stated that the purpose of Warwick Blogs is not for a small group of people to have a soapbox to speak to the whole university community. Well of course not, and nobody ever claimed their own personal right was more than that of any other Warwick Blogger. But surely the point of Warwick Blogs is to engender discussion, comment, discovery and social and academic networking among students (and staff). Removing Hot Topics completely, and taking steps that are reducing blog browsing to clicking on the same few people's favourites bars, does already seem to have given that principle a bit of a kicking.