Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/26/letters_2608/
Fat is a technologist issue
As are plagues, currency and triffids
Letters Let's kick off with an easy one. How fat is fat?
New figures from the states suggest fat is really quite fat and likely to get fatter, as obesity levels soar. However, the ever sceptical Reg reader is not taking this kind of statistic waving lying down. Not when there are generalisations to be made, and bizarre experiments to be suggested:
Judging health by comparing height and weight is idiotic. It completely ignores not just muscle mass, as your article pointed out, but any variation in body type. A person with short legs will be judged fatter than a person with longer legs, even if their relative percentages of fat is the same.
What this study shows is something that should be obvious by now: when they're not being maniacally patriotic, Americans like to be alarmed about themselves. There's nothing an American likes more than to be driven into a panic related to a deep-seated and well-hidden inferiority complex. (Sputnik! The Japanese automotive market! Obesity! Maybe next year it'll be table manners.) And then the foreign press reports these studies, because everyone else on the planet wants to be alarmed by Americans, or at least feel superior to them.
Is it not high time we put one of Einstein's theories to the test once more?
Every object with mass exerts a gravitational force. Put enough mass together and you're putting a dent in the space-time continuum. So: given all these large people are available and more to come. What would happen if we put 2 million of them in close proximity? Would there be a gravitational lensing phenomenon that is measurable? Would they bend light even ever so slightly? I think we have to look into that some more.
And what about tidal forces. 2 million large people at 200 lbs. each, that's not overstretching it is it? Given the fact that people are about 70% water, that would mean 140 million pounds, plus or minus a drop here and there, of water in close proximity. Would we be seeing tidal effects exerted on that water as the moon goes about its orbit?
I realize that over here (in the US) we've stolen and bastardized both the name of a game (football, which strangely here doesn't involve feet at all) AND money (pound!=lbs), but I just have to ask... What the fu*k is a Stone, with regard to the BMI chart?!?!? :)
We could tell you, but it is a state secret and we'd be shot.
Next up, phone masts. Undoubtedly, this is a fascinating subject at the best of times, and the news that councils will publish phone mast emmission data has you utterly enthralled:
I would like to see some of that monitoring near where I live (Biggleswade, Bedfordshire). We (the residents of this area) live about 3 miles from the Sandy Heath transmitter - one of the three most powerful analogue TV transmitters in the country (the other two being Crystal Palace and Sutton Coldfield, if anyone was interested!?).
The mast is spewing out 1 Million Watts ERP (Effective Radiated Power) of analogue power for BBC1, BBC2, ITV, and Channel 4s (at least, that's what the charts used to say). That's 4 Million Watts already! Channel 5 only manages a paltry 10kW. There are also 2 lots of 1000W from BBC 3 Counties (95.5MHz) and Chiltern Radio (96.9MHz); 200W in bursts from Wide-area-paging; plus two cell-sites for Vodafone and O2. Let's not forget the digital TV and digital radio! For good measure, we also have the 440kV National Grid about half a mile out of town and 25kV from the railway within shouting distance of my house.
So far, my brain hasn't fried, and despite the noise from the A1 and flights from Standstead, this insomniac can sleep from time to time. I think people are making a lot of it up to fulfil their boring lives!!
This being a council run project you can bet that each unit will be fitted with a 1000 gig-watt transmitter which is used for the following purposes.
1. to cut through ALL other transmissions in the area, and send data back to the town hall to ensure the pen pushers get stats.
2. to keep EM emissions to a suitable high level when mobile phone usage in that cell area is low.
More developments on the whole impending bird-flu disaster, this week, when the government warned that poor innocent piggies might have to pay the ultimate price to protect us from disease ridden avians:
Is this the excuse for Pig Passports the DEFRA has been hanging on for?
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father completing a form, recording its government bar -code, and contacting an approved songbird disposal company" if I remember my Bible correctly.
I'm deeply disappointed. Your article "UK mulls pig clampdown to combat bird flu" was BEGGING for a comment about flying pigs being the vector transferring the avian flu virus to humans :=)
A terrible oversight, we must acknowledge. We can only apologise profoundly and profusely, and promise that we shall all try to do better in future.
This week also saw pretty pink lights over Utah. We just liked the picture, but you think there is something more sinister going on:
Are they *mad*?!? Haven't they read "The Day of the Triffids"??? Every sane person should automatically treat any event involving pretty lights in the sky as an imminent sign of impending plant-lead doom!
Now where's my weed-wand...
Much as it pains us to say it, especially in the middle of an Ashes tournament, the Australians are right. Research has confirmed this week that we truly are a bunch of whinging poms, even if we come a poor second to the Swiss:
I feel that any top 5 list of complainers that doesn't contain France, is plainly wrong. I have no doubt that the statistics point to UK and Swedish expertise, but the statistics don't take into account the whinge economy that exists in France.
There are no statistics for for the wads of complaints that circulate in France, because the people who receive them are trained from birth in shoulder shrugging indifference. There are no customer service quality guarantees here... if your baguette is stale and mouldy well you can stick it up your Anglo-Saxon consumer obsessed derrière.
Every expat in Paris worth their salt knows that the art of complaining is a fine balance of outrage and emotional manipulation. If you get a satisfactory response from your customer services representative, it's because you've managed to convince them that they've personally saved you from some life-threatening situation.
Not that this gets to me at all,
I think you Brits need a reality check. You are quite happy to whinge and moan to each other about poor service but never seem to confront the actual companies face-to-face about the problems. How many times have you heard someone at a restaurant say 'This meal is terrible', 'The service sucks' and then when the waiter asks how your meals are a corus of 'Great thanks!' comes from the table? Even worse you seem quite happy to pay the 'optional' 12.5% service fee that gets tacked on to the bill at the end.
Now get back to the pub and drown your sorrows in a pint of bitter...
Regards, A Kiwi Expat
But our lovely non-confrontational nature is exactly why we need to whinge so much to our friends...
"and poor old Taiwan (one per cent), although we suppose that the average irate Chinese person's willingness to complain is mitigated by the knowledge that they will probably end up being executed as a result."
Ignorant Fool. Taiwan is not China (unless you ask the Chinese) and they don't kill people like the butchers in Beijing. Maybe they do it like the nice friendly policemen in the UK instead?
Sidestepping the rather uncomfortable question of how friendly or otherwise our local bobbies may be, we'd just like to draw you attention to the 10 words that preceded the section you chose to quote:
"China (four per cent) Saudi Arabia (three per cent) and poor old Taiwan (one per cent)".
Loudly complaining about everything ? Especially the job ? Even the weather ? Well, sounds like you Brits are finally ready to become French. Congratulations ! Next step : learning that crisps are called chips, and chips are called frites. Hang in there !
Somehow, we suspect that we will never be welcomed into French society with open arms. Not as long as that Eurostar terminates where it does, anyway...
And again, we'll round off with more comment on the most important story of the week: the campaign for the 99p coin:
You know all the "It's a Quid" shops and "PoundLand" and the like?
Well, there is actually a 99p shop buried in the bowels of Erdington, Birmingham, that obviously must have stockpiles of pennies to hand out to punters as change...
£133 million a year lost? That's 13.3 billion one-pence coins. Per year. 2 for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Is that really right?
Wouldn't the IT angle be the saving of bits and hence easing the burden on programmers. It takes a substantially greater number of bits to represent 0.99 than to represent 1. Go ahead and do the binary math, the former is 0.1100011 while the latter is just 1. Memory usage would drop dramatically and the price of hard disks and memory chips would plummet to well...no less than 1. Oh wait, here's an idea, replace coins with pieces of eight or sixteen or even 32 but don't go too far, think of the little ones, just not too little.
It's called a Kibblesworth.
According to "The Meaning of Liff", by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, the 'amount by which an item is priced beneath a sensible amount' is known as a Kibblesworth.
Something with a price of 1.99 has a Kibblesworth of 1p.
Just so you know. Sam.
Well, I feel better for knowing...
I agree that the X.99 thing is a terrible habit in which the world has got into, but to save the cost of having to design, promote and in essence rebrand the concept of money, when what happened to other companies when they rebrand, try and re-invent the wheel.
Although the Lords, commons and public money would spend hours, weeks and months debating it, I'm sure it would cost less for us to ban selling anything at X.99 instead, therefore removing the need for the 99p coin. Also, part of the act would be to ban.X.49 as well as .89, .79 and also petrol to be sold for the .001p more to make it a full number of pence per litre etc etc
This would cost less and save a lot of time and effort, more importantly tax payers money.
I hope this is seriously considered.
Someone once told me that the reason for the 99p nonsense came about because it forced the shop assistant to open the till to retrieve the change, which (apparently) goes some way to stopping the shop assistant from just pocketing the cash and not telling the boss. I don't believe a word of it though, and even if true, provides no excuse at all in this day and age of plastic and online shopping.
Here's the IT angle - given your NO2ID success, you could set up a PledgeBank pledge about it :)
"I will join a flashmob outside the treasury tomorrow to demand the introduction of the 99p coin but only if 250 people will join me"
If you do, please in God's Dear Name please keep my name out of it!
Anonymous mysterious stranger
We'll think about that one over the bank holiday weekend...®