bookmark_borderHusk at skylle ud!

Pudge playing with the toilet
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Forleden råbte jeg til Léon, der stod i badeværelset: “Husk at skylle ud!”

Han svarede: “I did skyl ud!”

Dette svar overraskede mig, da jeg havde forventet “I did skylle ud!”

Ved nærmere eftertanke er det nu ikke så underligt.

Selvom vi på dansk skriver “husk at skylle ud”, plejer vi at udtale det som “husk og skyl ud” (hvilket jo er grunden til, at DSB kunne kalde deres blad “Ud & Se” og ikke “Ud At Se”).

Man lærer meget om sit eget sprog ved at lære det til et barn! 🙂

bookmark_borderDivorces and the happiness of children

Let’s Get a Divorce
Originally uploaded by Monochrome

Conservative politicians often claim that kids are happier when they grow up in strong families with both parents, but they often conveniently forget that for many parents, the alternative to a divorce is staying in an unhappy, rowing relationship, and is that really better for the kids?

Finally a study on this topic has been released.

The results are very clear:

Young people who reported that their family “gets along well together” are on average 20 per cent happier than those who do not, regardless of whether they live with a single parent, a step-parent or both their birth parents, the study found.

The impact of family conflict on children’s happiness far outstripped family structure, with a child in a lone parent household just 2 per cent unhappier than one living with both birth parents. Children were on average 10 per cent more unhappy in the immediate aftermath of a family break-up or another change in family structure such as gaining a step-parent.

But after a year happiness levels then recovered to almost the same levels as for children who had experienced no family problems.

Hopefully studies like this will eventually make the Tories realise that giving tax-breaks to married couples is probably not the best way to increase child happiness.

bookmark_borderHow will you hold the iPad?

Apple iPad
Originally uploaded by nDevilTV

The usual crowd seem to love the new iPad, but neutral observers seem to be distinctly unimpressed (and not just because of the sanitary name).

I tend to agree.

If it’s supposed to be Apple’s netbook, it should be running MacOS, not the single-tasking OS of the iPod Touch and iPhone that is restricted to applications from Apple’s application store, and it should have at least one USB port so that you can connect a printer, a camera or a keyboard, and a monitor socket so that you can connect it to a lightpro if you’re giving a presentation.

If it’s a hand-held web browser, it should support flash (which is needed for 90% of the web games that are Marcel and Charlotte’s main reason for using a computer).

If it’s an eReader, would most people not prefer a “real” one like the Kindle which uses electronic paper instead of a back-lit LED display, especially as the iPad is only 132 pixels per inch (ppi) compared to the Kindle’s 150/167 ppi or the iPhone’s 163 ppi?

I can also see a problem with how to hold it. You typically balance a netbook on your legs or put it on a table, and you normally hold a smartphone in one hand while you operate it with the other one. Neither seems practical for the iPad: If you balance it on your legs or put it on a table, the angle is wrong for looking at the screen (and you could easily drop it if you’re using it on public transport), and if you hold it in one hand, you only have one hand to operate it with (which is not ideal for fast typing), and it could easily be snatched out of your hand.

I therefore think that most users will buy the keyboard dock and/or the iPad case, which allows the iPad to be positioned upright or at an angle (scroll down to the bottom of the page if you follow the link), but that makes it even more expensive, and even less practical to carry around.

To conclude, I really don’t think the first-generation iPad will catch on. However, Apple could easily design a very attractive second-generation device if they added a few ports, upgraded the OS and integrated the case.

bookmark_borderMarcel feels Sick

Family communication!
Originally uploaded by PhylB

I had dropped off Léon at nursery yesterday and was about to have breakfast with my beloved wife when we unexpectedly heard Marcel’s voice, asking us where he could find the toast.

When we expressed surprise that he wasn’t at school, he said that Charlotte had left us a note.

This turned out to be true – there was a tiny note on the fridge, amongst all the other papers there, saying “Marcel feels Sick”.

I guess it was quite considerate of Charlotte not to wake us, but it was perhaps not too clever given that we’re supposed to call his school early if he’s ill, and we don’t normally scan the fridge door as soon as we get out of bed.

I guess it’s hard to please parents, though. If the kids ask us questions when we’d rather be asleep, they’re damned, and if they don’t, they’re still damned…

bookmark_borderThe general election will take place on 3rd June

gordon brown sauce
Originally uploaded by Rakka

The news that the UK is only just out of recession (provided that the 0.1% growth figure isn’t adjusted downwards, and its “chances of being revised down by 0.1pc or more are about evens“) means one thing: The next general election will take place on the 3rd of June.

In theory, Gordon Brown can call an election for March, April, May or 3rd June.

However, the next figures will come out in three months’ time, and given that even the Chancellor thinks they might show we’re back in recession, only a very brave man (which he is not) would call an election that saw the figures being released during the election campaign.

This means that he has the choice between March or June.

The sensible choice would be March, while we’re at least officially out of recession, but I’m sure Brown will feel the figures aren’t convincing enough to allow him to pose as the saviour of Britain, so the feartie from Fife will wait till he has had time to massage April’s growth figures if they aren’t to his liking.

I hope I’m wrong, though. The sooner we get rid of Brown, the better.

bookmark_borderUnlikely intelligence

Originally uploaded by [Soren]

The Independent reports that professor Conway Morris has claimed that “alien biospheres will be strikingly similar to the terrestrial equivalent and that in such biospheres intelligence will inevitably emerge”.

From statements such as this one, one would have thought that intelligence had developed many times during the history of this planet.

For instance, it’s reasonable to assume that life on planets with similar gravity and air density will have quadrupeds, bipeds and flying animals, and that eyes and ears and brains are all likely to develop.

Just think about how similar the body shapes of fish, dolphins and ichthyosaurs are, although they have very different origins.

However, it doesn’t seem to be the case that human-level intelligence has ever developed before on Earth.

This makes me wonder whether there’s something about high intelligence that makes it almost impossible as an evolutionary strategy.

I think I read somewhere that there is genetic evidence that the human race almost died out before it really got started (cannot find the link just now), so although we were eventually very successful, it was hard to get there.

Another way of looking at it is that there has only been human-level intelligence for approximately 100,000 years out of the past 500,000,000 years (the time of the Cambrian explosion), or 0.02% of the time.

I wish somebody could explain to me why high intelligence never appeared before. Surely evolution could have produced it many times, and much sooner, if only it had been a successful evolutionary strategy.

bookmark_borderA man-sized garlic press

Amaia’s garlic press
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Most garlic presses seem to have been designed on the premise that most people will use just one or two cloves.

However, given that we’re normally cooking for at least six people, we use more garlic than most households.

So it was a huge relief when our friend Sabine gave Amaia a garlic press as a welcome-to-the-world present.

Just look at it!

It can hold three big cloves side by side, and it’s heavy, chunky and sturdy!

Just perfect!