bookmark_borderBeing more positive about NemID

På besøg i Jyske Bank
Originally uploaded by M*rten

I know I’ve been a bit negative about NemID in the past, but I’m starting to change my mind.

Because I’m a customer with Jyske Bank, I received a letter with a NemID code card last week, and when I then logged on to Jyske Bank, it transferred me to NemID. The only hassle was that I needed to install an extra Java package to make it work with Ubuntu.

The brilliant thing is that I can now access almost anything in Denmark using my NemID code card – I can access my tax information, change my name, move house, etc. (Of course most of it is completely irrelevant these days, but it would have been useful eight years ago.)

The UK could really learn from this – there are so many things that you still cannot do yourself over the Internet, and having one single access key really makes a difference.

bookmark_borderHow do you fit in six bins?

six types of recycling
Originally uploaded by absentmindedprof

East Renfrewshire have now decided that we need to put food waste into a separate bin.

This means that we need to fit six bins into our kitchen:

  1. Compostable waste (fruit, veg and egg shells)
  2. Other food waste
  3. Metal and glass
  4. Paper and cardboard
  5. Hard plastic
  6. Everything else

(I’m excluding from this list batteries, medicines, electrical equipment and other items that shouldn’t be thrown into the normal bins at all, but which still need to be collected somewhere in the house until we find the time to go to Ikea or the recycling centre.)

However, it’s starting to be a problem to find enough space for all the bins, even though we have a relatively big kitchen.

Of course we could pop outside whenever we’ve eaten an orange or finished a pint of milk, but that’s not very practical in the long run.

How do other people fit in their bins?

bookmark_borderWhy didn’t Blair sack Brown?

Originally uploaded by Ronnie23

There’s a new revelation about the war between Blair and Brown in the Jonathan Powell’s new Book, “The New Machiavelli“, as mentioned in the Guardian’s Wintour and Watt blog (hat-tip: Liberal Democrat Voice):

Given the Treasury’s refusal to share information with us, we had real trouble working out what the financial implications for Britain of the Luxembourg proposal would be. In desperation, we kidnapped the Treasury’s expert at the UK mission in Brussels and took him with us to Luxembourg so that he could explain to us what the offer really meant.

He was enormously relieved when we finally let him go. He didn’t mind that he was being dumped in Paris, the next stop on our trip, without a passport or any money. He just wanted our assurance that we wouldn’t tell the Treasury that he had been travelling with us: that would blight his career for ever.

Why didn’t Blair just sack Brown?

I know he was afraid of Brown creating a backbench rebellion, but surely nothing could have been worse than this?

bookmark_border‘Air’ is Applish for ‘netbook’

What should one call a computer with the following specs?

  • 11-inch monitor
  • 64GB flash storage
  • 2GB memory
  • weight: 1.06 kg

I’m pretty sure that most people would call this a netbook, but Apple don’t like netbooks, so they call it the MacBook Air.

I can only conclude that Air is Apple-speak for ‘netbook’.

Of course, by not calling it a netbook, they think they can defend the price (£849), which is very high compared to non-Apple netbooks with similar specs.


indefinite article
Originally uploaded by

Jeg er for tiden ved at lære Léon at læse dansk, og selvom han kæmper lidt med forskellen mellem dansk og engelsk, er han da ved at komme efter det. Det sværeste er næsten de forskellige bogstavnavne – på engelsk siger man i første klasse /b?/, /k?/, /d?/ o.s.v. i stedet for /bi?/, /si?/, /di?/ o.s.v. for at gøre det lettere, men det er jo helt ukendt på dansk.

I går sad vi og læste nogle simple sætninger, bl.a. “her er en bil”.

Han læste det naturligvis ret langsomt, med lange pauser mellem ordene:

/hæ??? – æ?? – ?n – b?i??l/

Læg mærke til den ubestemte artikel, en.

Jeg ville selv (og jeg tror, jeg på det punkt er helt typisk for andre, der er vokset op med dansk som førstesprog) i denne kontekst have sagt /e??n/ (eller måske /e?n/), men bestemt ikke /?n/, selvom jeg i hurtig tale helt sikkert ville have reduceret ordet til /?n/ eller endda /m?/.

Mit gæt er, at det er påvirkning fra engelsk, hvor ‘a’ og ‘one’ synkront set jo er to helt forskellige ord.

bookmark_borderAre we related to people born before 1575?

Babbitt Family Tree
Originally uploaded by FrodoBabbs

While sampling some nice beer in Århus earlier this year with my good old friend Thomas Mailund, we had an interesting discussion about how long our genes live on for.

I was reminded of this discussion when I managed to find my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather on Google. His name was Georg Widmann, and he was born around 1532 in Heiningen in Württemberg.

However, as I discussed a few years ago, we get half our genes from our father and the other half from our mother; we therefore get 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent, etc., so when do we reach a point when there’s nothing left?

According to Wikipedia, the “haploid human genome contains ca. 23,000 protein-coding genes”. 23,000 can be halved 14.49 times, which equals around 435 years (at a generation length of 30), and this means that any ancestor born before the year 1575 is likely to have contributed less than one gene to our genome. (Georg is of course an exception – ignoring the possibility of adultery and mutations, my Y chromosome is an exact copy of his.)

One can look at the numbers differently, too. Genes are defined by the “2.9 billion base pairs of the haploid human genome”. 2,900,000,000 can be halved 31.43 times, taking us back 943 years to the year 1157, but that will include ancestors who have only contributed junk DNA.

The “human genome contains vast regions of DNA the function of which, if any, remains unknown. These regions in fact comprise the vast majority, by some estimates 97%, of the human genome size.” 3% of 2.9 billion base pairs is 87 million base pairs, which would take us back 791 years to the year 1219.

However, the “nucleotide diversity between humans is about 0.1%, which is 1 difference per 1,000 base pairs.” That would take us down to 87,000 base pairs that actually matter, and that number can be halved 16.41 times, which would take us back 492 years to the year 1608.

To conclude, I’m not absolutely sure what the cut-off point should be. There’s definitely no point in doing genealogy further back than the year 1157 (except for pure patrilineal and matrilineal descent), but there are good arguments also for stopping in 1219, 1575 or 1608.