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Today is the 40th birthday of Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4. Radio 1 was launched as a new station after the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act had successfully made the supplying of or advertising on pirate radio stations illegal. As a schoolgirl I and all my friends had listened to Radio Caroline North which was broadcast from a ship off the Isle of Man in the North Sea. I can still remember collecting empty bags of Ross frozen peas to send in for ‘Caroline Cash Casino’. I have no idea how it worked but it certainly caught our imaginations. When the stations were banned we were furious and were not enthused with the idea that the fusty old BBC could even begin to compete with the pirates. Six weeks later and radio one began; I can still remember the jingle and the frequency – 247 mw.

The BBC had of course been providing radio broadcasts since the 1920’s but this saw a complete revamp for the corporation. What was the Light programme became Radio 2, The Third programme became Radio 3 and the Home Service became Radio 4. The Today programme on Radio 4 weekday mornings is in fact celebrating its 50th birthday on the 28th October this year and are asking for contributions from people born on that day.


I promise this is the last time I’m going to post about this man. I went to the opening night of the Ilkley Literature Festival which started with a drinks and canapes reception for those who were friends of the festival. The evening took the form of a question and answer session with Baroness Lockwood a Yorkshire labour party activist asking the questions. It didn’t start too well as she asked why he hadn’t mentioned that he had spent a year at Bradford Grammar School. He kindly explained that the book started in 1994 when he became Tony Blair’s press secretery. He was funny, insightful and charming. In whatever way he is portrayed in the media, he was nothing of that. There was no sign of the anger which is an obvious presence in a lot of the book. At the end he took questions from the audience which varied from ‘what next’ to ‘ what job would you have given Claire Short’.  He said he would be on the side of caution if he were advising Brown in the question of whether to call a snap election and was fiercely loyal to Tony Blair.

He finished with a lovely statement which I thought my pal Kev would like – ‘If you read the Daily Mail, then don’t’ It was a great evening, and I’m really glad I went.

Tonight the Ilkely Literature Festival starts and its headline opener is Alistair Campbell. He will be talking about ‘The Blair Years’ diaries and hopefully answering questions from the audience and yes I’m going. I think I’ll re-read the section from the summer of 2003 when Andrew Gilligan triumphantly announced that the Iraq dossier had been ‘sexed up’ on the Today programme which tragically lead to Dr Kelly’s suicide, the Hutton Report and Campbell’s eventual resignation. This is obviously an on-going and bitter row between the two men as Gilligan has a strong attack on Campbell today on Comment is Free, part of the Guardian. I’m sure the audience at Ilkely will have some questions to ask about this. I also wonder if he can be persuaded to talk of stuff that is not in the diaries, the Tony/Gordon relationship.

A final note, I received a request to join a Facebook group supporting the monks of Burma. If you haven’t yet signed up it is here. Over 78,000 members so far and growing fast.

I’m in the wrong job.  I’ve just been for a dental check up.  My appointment was at 9 o clock and at 3 minutes past nine, I was handing over £15.90.  Good grief – that’s £318 an hour for counting backwards!

A great story was reported in New Scientist yesterday about crocodiles swimming long distances. They are normally seen basking on river banks and only showing short bursts of energy as they lurch into the water to grab some unfortunate for dinner. However, in 2004 the University of Queensland, with the help of the late Steve Irwin captured 3 large saltwater crocs from the coastal areas. They were then transported by helicopter 56, 99 or 126 Km away and after being fitted with a satellite tracking device, released. They all behaved in much the same way, exploring their new habitats for a few weeks, then having looked around, decided that there was no place like home. They took between 5 and 20 days to swim back to where they had been initially captured. Even the scientists were astonished that they were able to swim for days at a time. How they navigated is also a mystery. The policy of rehoming ‘rogue crocs’ is now being revised.

Another great picture from the Astronomy picture of the day site.


Saguaro Moon
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip (Astro Meeting) Explanation: A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. For example, tonight’s Full Moon, the one nearest the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, is popularly called the Harvest Moon. According to lore the name is a fitting one because farmers could work late into the night at the end of the growing season harvesting crops by moonlight. In the same traditions, the Full Moon following the Harvest Moon is the Hunter’s Moon. But, recorded on a trip to the American southwest, this contribution to compelling images of moonrise is appropriately titled Saguaro Moon.

I’ve just read that there is a bug in Excel 2007 and if you multiply 850 by 77.1 it will give you the answer 10,000.  So in the course of scientific research I tried it and it does.  Change it to 77.2 and you get the correct answer of 65620.  Apparently any multiplication with the result 65535 is at risk, though I cannot find any other combinations – well in the 5 minutes that I tried.  Come on Bill you can do better than this.

The Bob Dylan website has a fantastic piece of viral marketing. Using the cue card scene (which the writers of Love Actually stole) from Don’t look Back, you can send your own message to friends. I’m told you can embed it in your facebook page but the technology is getting the better of me so I can’t seem to do it but you can see my message – here.

I’ve been a fan of the stuff that Lee LeFever does for a while and have blogged about his videos a couple of times. Their videos have been translated into a number of different languages on a superb site called subDOT. Here is the RSS in plain english with French subtitles. The videos are uploaded to the site and anyone can go along and add their own subtitles, so that the video above is in fact available in 39 different languages including Hebrew, Latvian, and Tagalog (whatever that is). The latest CommonCraft video is featured explaining Google Docs – I’ve also discovered through this site that today is One Web Day celebrating online life. I’m now going to go and check out what Tim Berners Lee has to say about it.


Wired web site is giving you the opportunity to vote for the ideas of Richard Dawkins (the God Delusion) or Francis Collins (former head of the Human Genome project and onetime atheist) check out the site here.

Oh and The Hobbit is 70 years old today.

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