Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Allen Banks

I'm quite proud of this picture. it's of a bridge over the River Allen near where I live. The original picture is very large (2048 x 1536) and makes a great desktop wallpaper. If you want a copy of it you can download it free here. The reason I'm so proud of it is it was taken with a low resolution camera. It's actually four pictures stitched together. Bet you can't see the joins! There's more of the picture - a 360° panorama at this location.

The area, Allen Banks, is owned by the National Trust in the UK. It is a great place to go for a walk on a hot summer day. It's not too bad on a winter's day either. I'm just waiting for about four inches of snow and I'll be back there to take more pictures - but this time I'll take a better camera.

I have no idea who the people on the bridge are. I'm glad they were there though because the image wouldn't have been as interesting without them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The night I saw a ghost

I didn't believe in ghosts. I'd always told myself, 'There's always some sort of explanation.'  Either it would be an over-active imagination, something misinterpreted or just the words of a liar trying to sound interesting. Graveyards at night held no horrors and ruined houses? Only a fool would enter in poor light where they might easily hurt themselves. Ghosts? No such thing!

At least that's what I thought until the night I saw one.

I was driving in Northern England at about ten at night. There were no street lights and few cars sharing the road from Allendale to Hexham. I was on my way to Hexham, the site of a famous abbey. There was no Moon, an overcast sky and a slight mist. The road was mostly downhill though, fairly straight and the sort that it's easy to speed on. The council had even improved the road by taking out the sudden rise and dip which left your stomach behind near the racecourse turnoff. As I came round the corner near the turnoff just before I dropped down to the long straight stretch to Low Gate I saw it. A vaporous cowled figure with outstreched arms and two glowing red eyes. It was approaching rapidly and I was going too fast to stop!

Icicles ran down my back. I could feel my hair rising and with awful dread at that moment I BELIEVED IN GHOSTS!

Then I figured out what it was. The road although straight, had a sharp rise and fall in it. A car, hidden from me behind that rise, was lighting up the mist with it's headlights and the trees on either side of the road were the exact shape to frame the mist into the cowled figure. The two glowing eyes were the tail lights of a car in the distance braking to turn the corner at Low Gate.

The effect had only lasted a second or so but in that second I didn't know what I was looking at and jumped to the wrong conclusion.

I still don't believe in ghosts but I can now understand why some people do.
The ghost road in daylight (Google Earth image) Even in daylight you can't see the hidden dips in the road.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oops! I just broke US law. Hope they don't extradite me.

When I click the 'Post' button on this blog I will have broken US law by linking to a site which hosts copyright material. Now that's not illegal in the UK where I live but the US has some pretty stupid laws and that is one of the things that they've made illegal. 

Richard O’Dwyer a a British computer student has just fallen foul of that law. He produced a website which listed sites where pirated material could be downloaded. Note he didn't host any of this pirate material on his website, he just linked to sites which do host it. The US says he made money from his website and that's against US law.

The US applied to have him extradited to stand trial in the US and used the Extradition Act, passed in haste by Labour in 2003, designed to allow terror suspects to be extradited. Richard and his family naturally objected but the law is the law and final approval now rests with the Home Secretary.

Now let me invite you to watch a video at this point which tells you about this. It's about ten minutes long so watch as much as you feel you want to, then I'll explain how I'm breaking the US law.

Did you find that interesting? It's hosted on YouTube and I just linked to it from my blog ...and that's where I broke US law!

You see there are often copyright videos hosted on YouTube. They are not hard to find and most shouldn't be there because the person who put them there did not have the permission of the copyright owner to do so. Now YouTube is aware of this problem and frequently takes down this pirated material but as fast as they do so, someone posts it back up.

Now linking to YouTube isn't illegal. You tube even were nice enough to give me the code needed to embed it in my blog. The problem is I posted it on blogspot and down the sides of this post you'll find some advertisements from which I make a few coppers a month. Heck just to make sure I'll post an advertisement for some of the books my wife and I write below:
Take a touch of humour, add some genetic science and nanotechnology. Steep with conspiracy and stir in murder and despair. Season with romance between three people in a secret location. Garnish with morality.
The result is 'A Vested Interest', a novel series by John and Shelia Chapman
Now if someone decides to buy one of these items advertised here (Please do!) then I will have made money from a web page which has links to sites hosting pirated material and that's against US law!

This is a classic example of  'reductio ad absurdum' or taking something to a ridiculous but logical conclusion. It's a stupid US law and the UK allows another stupid law to compound it.

Now SOPA and PIPA...?

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