edinburgh view
Originally uploaded by campru

Ryanair must be reading this blog. It’s less than a month ago that I blogged that they should be opening a route from Billund in Denmark to Scotland instead of one to Birmingham.

And now they’re finally doing what I’ve been waiting for ever since I moved to Scotland, opening a direct route. The one they’re starting is Edinburgh-Billund, which makes good sense, I guess. Aarhus Airport is a bit far away from most attractions, and so is Prestwick.

Just a shame they’re not opening it in time for the summer holidays.

bookmark_borderBrune øjne?

Anna’s right eye
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Da Anna blev født, var hendes øjne nærmest skiferfarvede.

Med tiden blev de mere og mere klart grå, men i dag fik jeg pludseligt øje på en lille brun plet (omkring vestsydvest) i hendes venstre øje.

Er det et tegn på, at hun er ved at få brune øjne som sin mor? Eller blandede øjne som sin morfar og faster? Eller er det ikke et tegn på noget som helst?


Originally uploaded by viralbus

Some years ago, while I still lived in Denmark, I went to a TeX conference in the Netherlands. During the conference, we went on a day trip to Maastricht, and I got a chance to pop off to a specialist beer shop (together with Arne if my memory serves me well) where I bought different beers, especially some that I had never seen before.

When I got back home, I went on to taste them, and I still remember that there was one big positive surprise among them: A witbier called Korenwolf (“corn wolf”, i.e. “hamster”). It was similar to a Hoegaarden, but more aromatic – lots of herbs and elderflower.

Given that it was local beer from the south of the Netherlands, I didn’t expect ever to taste it again, unless I went to another trip to Maastricht.

So imagine my surprise when I found it in our local Tesco yesterday! It’s just as nice as I remember it, and Phyllis seems to like it too.

I hope they’ll still stock it when Anna gets old enough to drink it with me! 🙂

bookmark_borderID cards

My Flickr Badge
Originally uploaded by viralbus

I got another email from Nick Clegg today about his opposition to ID cards. I must admit my opposition to them is much more subtle.

I’m actually in favour of a simple ID card scheme, if it’s seen primarily as a cheaper passport. That is, if one could buy a passport-light which consisted only of the laminated page with the photo and the name at fraction of the price of a real passport, it’d be really convenient, and for people travelling only to Europe, it would replace the passport completely. Such an ID card could also be useful for documenting who you are, for instance when opening a bank account. This is how ID cards work in Germany and France, for instance.

It’d also be useful to have a central database with basic information about everybody in the country – their names, addresses, relationships and so on. This would make it much harder to acquire a false identity (thus battling crime and terrorism), and it would be so much easier to change one’s name or address because it would only have to be changed in one place, and that information could then be passed on to subscribing organisations and companies. This is what one has in Denmark, for instance.

However, if one combines the two approaches, and especially if it’s extended with information from other databases as well as fingerprints and other biometric information, it gets scary. Sure, it would be really useful and convenient, but it becomes far too big-brother-ish for my taste, and it could really be misused by an evil regime. Unfortunately, this is the scheme New Labour want to introduce.


I’ve been a satisfied customer with smile, the Internet bank, for years. They pay decent interest on a current account, cash-back on the credit card, and their email-based customer service is normally helpful and fairly efficient.

My first grievance with them was when I added Phyllis to my credit card last year. They didn’t give her a separate pin number, and when she tried to change it away from mine, the card was swallowed and had to be replaced.

More importantly, when I asked them to add Phyllis to my current account, we discovered a major flaw in their system: You log on to their system using your account number and two passwords. However, these passwords are defined by the account number, so the only way Phyllis can log on is to ask me for my passwords. This is a major breach of security in my book – one should never tell one’s passwords to anybody. It’s also illogical – some of the passwords (or rather, secure information) are things like place of birth and first school, but she’s unlikely to find my first school as memorable as I do.

Furthermore, this system also means she gains access to the accounts I haven’t shared with her, such as my cash ISA. I don’t mind too much about that in this particular case, but it’s rather absurd that she can access my ISA while I can’t access hers.

Why haven’t they implemented a normal username system, so that we could have separate usernames (and passwords) while accessing a joint account?

Update (28/2): When Phyllis recently logged onto smile’s website using the details for her personal current account, our joint account suddenly appeared, too. So now the problem is solved, it seems, although I still wonder what they’d’ve done if she hadn’t had an account with already.

bookmark_borderWhat does a scientist cost?

I was flicking through the job ads in New Scientist today, and as usual, I was appalled by the salary levels. Some examples:

  • Acoustic scientist in the navy: £25,000.
  • Middle Atmosphere Scientist (PhD required): £29,360–£34,630.
  • Post Doctoral Research Scientist (biochemistry): £24,200–£27,200.
  • Scientist – Viral Vaccines: £20,575–£25,000.
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Polymer Synthetics: £28,289.

At the same time, the government is frustrated because so few youngsters pursue science. No wonder! Doctors earn upwards of £100,000, as do many successful bankers, lawyers, broadcasters and so on. Why on earth would anybody pursue a career in science if it doesn’t pay?


Glass of water (4/365)
Originally uploaded by Jim Murphy

Dominic Lawson has a good rant about water in The Independent today.

He’s questioning why so many people are drinking so much water:

This organised panic about dehydration seems to stem from a misreading – quite possibly deliberate – of guidelines from the US Food and Nutrition Board in 1945. These stated that “a suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is one millilitre for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” As Shapiro notes, the last sentence of that advice is always left out, leading to the idea that we need an extra eight glasses of water over and above our actual requirements.

Apart from that, I’ve never understood why the same amount of water is recommended everywhere. If I’m in a really hot place, such as walking around in the midday sun in July in Spain or Georgia, I naturally drink lots of fluid. However, during winter in Scotland, I simply don’t feel the need to drink as much (which is natural given I sweat much less), but the water fanatics still claim I should drink the same eight glasses as in the Mediterranean summer sun.