Winter Dusk

Jupiter and a brand new crescent Moon (with Earth Shine) yesterday at dusk.


Doorstep delivery

Mouser is going out hunting again. I haven't given it the fancy tinned cat food it has been enjoying the past two weeks. Kitteh turned up sporting a fresh field mouse. The butcher delivering fresh meat on the doorstep is not something of times long past.



I hadn't had one of these in ages.
I just OD'd on one of these.
Beware of the three B's!
Bread, banana & brown sugar.


Food Pareidolia

Festive foodstuffs at our casa tonight.
The Teens™ felt kinda embarrassed.


Indoor flying

Dr Livingstone has been flying his indoor copter. The Blade mCX RTF by E-flite. That's a synonym for grown-ups-play-things. Every time the battery has recharged, he starts flying the contraption around the living room.
Mouser doesn't like it, but at least it's not as scared as is was from that weasel ball from Prague. The helicoper's trim was a bit off and it kinda flew in silly circles. But it's been adjusted now. I've only flown it only once. I tried to land it on my desk, but failed miserably. After crashing it multiple times I decided I'd had enough.
Dr Livingstone is so exited playing with it, he's even bumped into one of the bookcases and managed to break something that was on one of the shelves. He promised me he'd superglue the bit that broke off...



Yves Leterme fails (again).


Omega Pharma retracts E-waves phone chip

News just in:
According to Belga Omega Pharma have just released a press statement saying they will stop the sale of the magical E-Waves Phone (y) Chip to chemists.
A huge mass of critical voices arose amongst scientists and bloggers after the press conference last week when the chip was launched with a lot of bells and whistles.
Intellectually honest scientists demanded a thorough testing of the chip. Which in my opinion is a very polite way of saying:"It's crap".
See, in this world the evidence needs to be supplied by the claimant.
Now Omeaga Pharma had it tested and -surprise surprise- the tests show it doesn't actually do what they claimed.
"This conclusion, and the fact that we take into account the criticisms of doctors and professors, has motioned Omega Pharma to stop the sale to chemists."
Oh and they have also issued an apology because the brouhaha of the press conference didn't actually coincide with the facts. (In other words; they were peddling porkies).
People who have bought the chip can now get a refund. Now who said there is no such thing as bad publicity?
So that's all right then?

Online Monkey

Plantin-Moretus's online monkey hadn't gotten its banana the day it typed up the text on the museum's 'Practical' webpage. I was looking for some directions on how to get there, where to park etc.
The Site warned me there was difficult access via the "Leien" and referred me to this site: http://www.deleien.be . I don't know what it intended to warn me about but I think someone forgot to pay the internet host and the domain name is up for sale now.
The Online Monkey also informed me that there was free access for people who were hadicaped.

Now my first thought was: Does Iranian Olympic Gold medalist taekwondo fighter Hadi Saei actually wear a cape? And why would I have to go dressed up like that to get into the museum for free?
(sidenote: If I was sitting at the counter, I'd let you in for free if you'd gone to all that trouble btw)
After my absurd reasoning I had to conclude it was just a typo. A bit of a no-no for a museum on the history of printing and all trade associated with printmaking. Including proofreaders and type-setters.
Oh and another thing: There is not a single sign post or map of the city anywhere to be found in poxy Antwerp. It's a bleedin' maze! Even Ghent is one-up on that point (though I hate to admit it).
And all the people actually living there are fully aware of the problem and kind of shrug their shoulders and go "yes, they should put up a few signs. But they're not gonna because everyone who lives here knows their way around".


Anyway, if you're ever in Antwerp, take out an entire day to visit the Plantin-Moretus museum. It is absolutely worth every minute of your time. It has a dazzling amount of important relics of the printing world, including two Gutenberg bibles. It's really enchanting and the 16th-18th century buildings are amazing. The walls are adorned with leather and every room has squeaky floorboards, but no moldy potato hidden underneath them (yes, that is another Blackadder reference). If you're a bibliophile like me you really have to go there..
Oh and pick up your freebies while you're there! I got a nice set of bookmarkers (12 pieces for every month of 2009) and two booklets on the history of typography and a catalogue of all the rooms and exhibits.


Moon Perigee

The Moon last night at perigee.
Only 356,566 kilometers from us.
So close you could almost touch it.


Omega Pharma quantum wave porkies: Follow up

A quick follow up on the Omega Pharma E-Waves Phone Chip scam:
The University of Ghent put up a press statement on their faculty website distancing themselves entirely from Dr Aelbrecht (of the company More Energy solutions). Find it here.

Apparently the Peter Aelbrecht putting the mumbo jumbo technobabble spin on the e chip scam is an entirely different Aelbrecht from the dr. Ir. of the same name who was attached to the Information technology research faculty at the UG.

I had expressed my doubts on Dr Aelbrecht's academic provenance in my Omega Pharma is peddling porkies post and the fact he was dubbed the 'radiation expert' of the UG, and had wondered why no one from the university had contacted the news desks spouting this disinformation earlier.
Now is this due to some sloppy reporting on behalf of the journalists or has Mr. Aelbrecht knowingly taken advantage of the position of his namesake to lend himself some more credibility?
The similarity is just too close for comfort.
I'm not aware if any corrections or apologies have been issued, especially from the public broadcaster who dedicated a lot of air time to the scam.
It's not because a company gives a press conference it's actually news or gobble up everything they claim as the Gospel. Guys, 'cmon.
And here was little Mrs B wondering if it was April Fools already.


Murder & Revenge at the Hair Salon

Morning coffee at the hair dresser. I'm reading Bloodfeud by Richard Fletcher. It's about murder and revenge in Anglo-Saxon England. Eleventh century history is not everyone's cup of tea, but the book is a fun, delightful read and gives a nice, clear explanation on why people were slain and the backstabbing going on prior and subsequent to the invasion of William of Normandy in 1066. Even though there might be some confusion as to the names everyone had. Ælfhelm, Ælfflæd, Waltheof, Eadwulf, Ealdred, Oswulf. And my favourite: Tostig.
"Did you hear about hat guy who got stripped and ty-rapped to a lamppost with a notice on his back saying he was a thief?"
So I'm reading about how King Harald of Norway and his ally Tostig had both met their deaths in an immense carnage and suddenly the hair dressers start yapping to each other, trying to outperform the noise the blow-dryers are making.
News nowadays suddenly seems so trivial.


List time

I'll just jump on the blog bandwagon and churn out one of those 'name x things' or 'have you' lists that go round once in a while:

1. Started your own blog (What are you reading right now?)

2. Slept under the stars (I hate camping but I've done it)

3. Played in a band (I have, until my drum kit caught fire. Yes it does sound Spinal Tappish but at least I didn't explode)

4. Visited Hawaii (Nope, but I'd like to go there and re-enact entire scenes of Magnum PI)

5. Watched a meteor shower (And plenty of 'em)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity (Can I consider myself a charity? Mihi. Btw still accepting donations...)

7. Been to Disneyland (The Paris one)

8. Climbed a mountain (And came down a hill?)

9. Held a praying mantis (Why would I want to do that?)

10. Sang a solo (My life should be turned into a musical)

11. Bungee jumped (And lived to tell the tale)

12. Visited Paris (I've even been kissed underneath the Eifel Tower)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Going swimming during an electrical storm is exhilarating)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (Singing and linocutting (a printing art form) and I've also managed to turn bickering into an art form)

15. Adopted a child (I don't suppose my little darling Mouser counts)

16. Had food poisoning (No and quite pleased about it)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I'm not keen on hights)

18. Grown your own vegetables (I once grew some lettuce, but instead of growing into a nice crop like shape it grew upwards and measured about a meter). 

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (Doh! I've never been to the Louvre)
20. Slept on an overnight train (I took a sleeper train to Portugal once, which was very cool)

21. Had a pillow fight (I never had pillow fights as a child, only as an adult)

22. Hitch hiked (yeppers)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (I was stoned out of my skull and kept falling asleep, so I stayed home because I was useless)

24. Built a snow fort (On the rare occasion there was ample snow when I was a kid, I built a tower with a slide and other kids had to pay tribute money to come on the fort and go down the slide)

25. Held a lamb (every season they break loose and we have to put them on the right side of the fence) 

26. Gone skinny dipping (Frequently but not lately)

27. Run a Marathon (No, and I'm not planning on doing so in the near future either)

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (I've not been to Venice or Italy (yet))

29. Seen a total eclipse (sun or moon eclipse? Hah!)

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (I've seen more sunsets than sunrises. I'm not an early riser myself)

31. Hit a home run (No, I was a gymnast as youngster)

32. Been on a cruise (Not on one of those ships where they get food poisoning all the time. I've done boating trips though. I'll count that as a cruise)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (nooo)

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I've been there, but it's only castle ruins left)

35. Seen an Amish community (No, but I've made fun of one)

36. Taught yourself a new language (Well, I'm still trying to get to grips with Norwegian)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Are you kidding me? Hungry like the wolf)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (Nope, Italy va bene)

39. Gone rock climbing (I usually take the stairs)

40. Seen Michelangelos David (Still in Italy... so no)

41. Sung karaoke (ah, the things you get up to while in higher education...)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (Nope)

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (I'm also known as Mrs Scrooge)

44. Visited Africa (No, It's got scary insects, I'm not going there any time soon)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Coincides with the skinny dipping)

46. Been transported in an ambulance (Yes, but it was only for a short feature film and I had to play dead)

47. Had your portrait painted (No, it would be a waste of canvas)

48. Gone deep sea fishing (Nope)

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (It's the Italy thing again)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (yep, the year after I was there A View To A Kill was in movie theatres)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (No, I don't like not being able to breathe normal)
52. Kissed in the rain (mmmm)

53. Played in the mud (albeit accidently)

54. Gone to a drive-in theater (No, but I would like to)

55. Been in a movie (Being that corpse in the ambulance again)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China (Nah)

57. Started a business (Internet=serious business)

58. Taken a martial arts class (Yes, I actually had a demo judo class taught by Ingrid Bergmans)

59. Visited Russia (No, alas, top of my list is Putingrad*)

60. Served at a soup kitchen (No)

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (No)

62. Gone whale watching (Yep, but the whale had snuffed it because it had washed ashore)

63. Got flowers for no reason (That sweet Dr. Livingstone...)

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (Yep, the dark Leffe afterwards was an awesome reward)

65. Gone sky diving (No way)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (I've been to Breendonk a couple of times, a forced labour camp)

67. Bounced a check (Cheques are so last century)

68. Flown in a helicopter (Yes and nearly fell out of one for the record)

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I couldn't care less)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (No)

71. Eaten Caviar (Mmmm caviar)

72. Pieced a quilt (I'm not a shriveled up prune you know)

73. Stood in Times Square (Nooo)

74. Toured the Everglades (Nooo)

75. Been fired from a job (I've never actually had a job)

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (Yep, but it will bore your pants off)

77. Broken a bone (How's an ankle for a bone)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (since I wasn't driving it, technically I wasn't speeding)

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (Nooo)

80. Published a book (I wish, but who would want to depart with their hard earned cash to read my ramblings?)

81. Visited the Vatican (Nooo, that still in Italy last time I checked)

82. Bought a brand new car (I love my lovely Mini)

83. Walked in Jerusalem (Nope)

84. Had your picture in the newspaper (On several occasions thank you very much; even in colour!)
85. Read the entire Bible (I have sadly enough. Both the Old and New one)

86. Visited the White House (No, but I hope Mr Obama will invite me in the course of his term to discuss the role of the US in the world as a global actor)

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (No, we're not cavemen. I pay people to do that for me)

88. Had chickenpox (One in my eye to be more precise)

89. Saved someone’s life (If it involves giving blood then yes)

90. Sat on a jury (No, I haven't but I'd do it if I were asked)

91. Met someone famous (I have an extensive list)

92. Joined a book club (Online yes)
93. Lost a loved one (Several)

94. Had a baby (Thankfully no)

95. Seen the Alamo in person (If it's that movie starring Dennis Quaid then the answer is yes)

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (No, that's got to taste icky. I would go and see Spiral Jetty by Judd if I was within spitting distance of Salt Lake)

97. Been involved in a law suit (Hell, yeh)

98. Owned a cell phone (And curse at the montly invoices that come with them)
99. Been stung by a bee (I trod on one by accident)

100. Read an entire book in one day (Even -dare I say- two!)

*aka Saint Petersburg

48/100 Not bad.
I must go to Italy, and the US to up that score a little.

And publish that book.

And piece that quilt.


Omega Pharma is peddling porkies

Omega Pharma is peddling porkies. In a big way.
I even saw Dr. Peter Aelbrecht claim the egg being boiled between two cell phones to be real.
How many times has that been debunked?
Something puzzles me about Mr Aelbrecht. In televised interviews he is dubbed the Radiation Expert of the University of Ghent. Now, I may have missed this part but didn't he cease working as a uni researcher almost a decade ago?
Maybe some people over at Imec could illuminate me on this subject of his affiliation with the UG (I know you guys have been lurking on the blog through webproxy).
I just chuckled all the way through the Omega Pharma press release. It's a real screamer and riddled with techno babble.

Here's a small excerpt:
"Their E-Waves Phone Chip beams a quantum physical information wave, which is in counter-phase with the harmful components of the electromagnetic waves — thus neutralizing the potentially harmful waves, as demonstrated in various studies and tests."

Let me run that by you again:
"Their E-Waves Phone Chip beams a quantum physical information wave,"
That's just gobbledygook. A red flag goes up when I spy the word "quantum". I will therefore deduct a minimum of ten legitimacy points.

We continue:
"which is in counter-phase with the harmful components of the electromagnetic waves — thus neutralizing the potentially harmful waves,"
If you cancel out electromagnetic waves... well then you're going to have what techno lay people call -a very bad line-. You are actually messing with the performance of the phone.

It goes on:
"as demonstrated in various studies and tests"
Impressive nonappearance of footnotes = epic fail.

Now, I'm not going to pick the whole terrible thing apart, I have a life you know.
Ok, just one more...

"Artificially created electromagnetic radiation interferes with the natural electromagnetic field. In particular for high frequency radiation (between 3MHz and 10 GHz), as can be found in mobile telephone use or DECT applications, there is a growing international consensus that frequent exposure to such radiation can be potentially harmful. On October 8, 2008 this consensus was reinforced with the publication of the interim findings of the worldwide Interphone study, conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO)."

A growing consensus of potential harm? Of interim findings? They're really being economical with the truth yet again and streaching the use of qualifiers here.

From the Omega Pharma website:
Omega Pharma promotes creativity and entrepreneurship.

How very true. Being creative with facts and making a quick buck during the Christmas season (=the entrepreneurship bit) is something they really go for.

The part that worries me is that it will be sold through chemists, it lends some kind of air of legitimacy to it.
Ah well, they'll just put it next to all that homeopathic hogwash they sell (which, incidentally, is still being repayed by our Glorious Health System).

EDIT: I have awarded this marketing scam riddled with fraudulent claims by Omega Pharma the much dreaded Mrs B's Official Seal of Epic FAIL!

ps: Check out the follow-up post on this scam here



Seasonal depression.
It's that time of year again. Here's something to get everyone through the day.
A cute little Loldonkey with a rubber ducky.