Friday, 31 December 2010

In summary... (or should that be "in wintery"?)

Goodbye 2010! Goodbye forever. This has been a major year for me, probably the busiest my life has seen so far.

Planning a wedding and getting married dominated the first seven months, somehow during that time we also managed to buy a house. Working part-time is useful. Also I passed my English Language course and moved to a new church. Changes all over the place.

This Christmas holiday has been great too. Despite problems in the heating, plumbing and vehicular departments we've had a good time with our newly-extended family. Here's a photo I took on Boxing Day while me and Lis were waiting for a neighbour to jump-start the Clio:

I haven't been as active on the blog recently, but in 2011 you can look forward to...
- A summary of my new year's resolutions
- The conclusion of my "Deep Thought" series (hopefully)
- My report on the annual Youth for Christ staff conference
- Fiding out whether we manage to eat all of that chocolate in the cupboard. It makes me feel full just looking at it. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. Golly.

And more exciting events are bound to happen in Baggleswich.

Cheerio for now.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Exciting word usage graphs!

I am aware that I started a series of posts a while ago. I'll continue that shortly, but I decided to make a few changes to it and in the meantime I've found this very very interesting tool...

Google and some other organisations with too much time and money have put together a digital database archiving millions of books (in fact they think it's 4% of all books ever published). Using this website you can search all those books for a particular word or phrase, and it will display a graph showing you how the frequency of that word has changed from 1800 - 2000.

For example, if you search for "fish pie"...

You can see how everyone was writing about fish pie in the 1940s, then it trailed off, but is starting to increase again. "Blunderbuss", however, has just been going downhill since 1820.

And then you find sudden changes, like the explosion of "pink pyjamas" around 1914.

Fashion designers commonly refer to this event as the "pink pyjama awakening".

Have a go, it's great fun.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The world is getting more corrupt

So says a recent survey taken by Transparency International (not the company that makes acetates). Apparently one in four people have paid a bribe in the last year, and here's what they paid for:

Why pay a bribe?

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 67%of bribes were to avoid trouble with the authorities
  • In the Arab world and Latin America most bribes were paid to speed things up
  • In Asia-Pacific, 35% of people bribed to get a service they were entitled to
  • In North America and the EU, most bribe payers say they could not remember why they had paid
Read the article on the BBC here.

So any suggestions on how to reverse this trend? I assume that most people's first response will be to place the blame squarely on "the authorities" who are behind all corruption in the world, thereby avoiding the idea that all humans are naturally selfish creatures.