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Showing posts from December, 2020

Finally - the good news

  Sitting at my desk, about to pen my last column for the year, I confess I have no clue what I am going to write next.   Except that I do feel it should be something positive. There's a challenge: While the planet burns and melts, and the forests and species are disappearing, write something encouraging. OK here goes - Joe Biden has displaced the blight which was Donald Trump, and is promising to reverse a raft of idiotic measures which were themselves reversals of sensible ones. America is back on track and intends to become a leader in the race to beat climate change. Good for them and all (renewable) power to their efforts. Electric vehicles are becoming mainstream. Despite concerns about the source materials for the batteries and the environnmental cost of their extraction from the earth, this is, on balance, a good thing. UK renewable power output overtook fossil fuels for the first time in February of this year. Governments around the world are making serious commitments to

Recycle - is it or isn't it?

  We had the annual work do at our house last week; and very pleasant it was too. My boss organised the catering and so a van arrived at about midday with a load of food in various packages and containers. We collected empty bottles in a crate and the rest went into the garage with everything else where it gets sorted on a Sunday night, in time to be put out for collection - if I remember to put it out. This week I was sorting through the recycling and I found myself feeling dismayed by the sheer volume of waste which had been generated by our lunch. There were large thick tin foil platters for the meats - not hardy enough to be kept, but substantial enough to make me feel decidedly uneasy about throwing them away. Disposable cutlery, fair enough it was wood not plastic, but disposable nonetheless. Any number of large plastic containers for the salads - and I couldn't find a recycling symbol so I didn't know whether to put them in the bin with the yellow lid or straight into th

On the verge of stupidity

  Travelling on the Southern Motorway last night, towards the Bombay Hills, we found that we were approaching a mass of yellow lights and arrows telling us to slow down and move into the left lane. From a distance we couldn't see what it was all about: Was there   an accident? Was it more roadworks? As we approached we passed a vehicle on our left which was displaying a brightly lit sign telling us that the right hand lane was about to come to an end. Moving into the left lane we then came upon a much larger vehicle to our right carrying a much larger, brightly lit display, telling us to keep left. And then another. It was only as we passed this latest light-fest that we were able to see what was happening: Just out in front of the illuminated motorcade was a tractor with a lawnmower on the back, cutting the grass next to the barricades of the median strip.   I'll admit it was dark and I didn't get a very good look but it appears that this procession of three traffic contro

Good news - or is it?

Scanning through the news this morning, I noticed an article on BBC News which claimed 'One of biology's biggest mysteries 'largely solved' by AI. Normally I like the BBC writers, they make complex subjects accessible, but in this case after a very short time my mind had turned to fog.   The first few lines gave way to a discouragingly complex graphic which I skipped almost immediately in favour of continuing to bounce over the text without really understanding any of it. Reaching the end of the article I was aware that a significant advance has just been made in the field of AI which will be of enormous benefit to the study of medicine and proteins. That's good news.   Still a bit blurry on it, I turned to the Guardian version of the same story. I'm not sure exactly why, but this article was easier to read and made more sense - to me. I was still actively engaged with the text when I got to the bit which read "pave the way for designer medicines, more nutr