James Miller


Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Beckham Helps Out

A lady in Norfolk wrote to David Beckham asking for a signed photo, so it could be auctioned in aid of a fund for her daughter's wheel-chair.

He didn't send the photo, but paid for a new hi-tech wheel-chair.

It'll be interesting to see what his knockers in the tabloid make of this.



The irony these days is that there are probably more people who have been married over thirty years in this country than ever before. A lot of our friends (and us) have made this milestone.

My parents’ marriage was ended after about twenty years by the death of my father.

But just as this longevity is leading to longer marriages, it is also causing divorce amongst those in their fifties as one partner is still game for everything and the other is slumped in the sofa!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Binge Drinking and Lemonade

Martin Samuel in The Times today blames lemonade for the problems of binge drinking. Or at least the fact that kids like the sweet taste they're acquired as children and then when they get a very sweet Bacardi Breezer at 22 percent alcohol they can't resist it.

I think he's got a point.

I can remember my father showing me how to drink light ale and I can remember the bitter taste. But did it help me to be a reasonably responsible drinker.


Violent Pornography

There are many reasons to ban violent pornography and there are also many reasons why responsible adults should be allowed to view it. I am no lover of pornography, but feel that if you ban something that offends, what is next on the list?

My problem with the proposed government legislation is that it doesn’t take account of how these web sites are advertised using unwanted or spam e-mail messages. So what happens if I inadvertently view a message with some horrendous image? Now as I use a desktop spam filter which corrals these messages and then deletes them automatically, how would anybody know if I had viewed the enclosed images? They were certainly downloaded to my computer in the unwanted e-mail.

A better solution is for worldwide government action on spam. Spam fighting companies know where in Eastern Europe, China, the United States and elsewhere, the spam is originating and it would be a simple matter to stop it.

This approach would not just deal with violent pornography, but with other abuses like fake lotteries, the so-called phishing scams, fake gift cards, Nigerian 419 scams, endless Viagra ads etc.

A final point is that if each of the 15 billion spam message a day costs just a penny in terms of time and extra hardware and software, then this adds up to a staggering £55 billion in a single year.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Not a Bad Weekend

A bit of a triple whammy really.

Ipswich won on Saturday after going down to 10 men, Celia's horse, Sunshine On Me, won her third race on the bounce on Sunday at Great Yarmouth and England beat the Aussies to go 2-1 up in the Ashes.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Favourite Sporting Venue

It has to be the July Course at Newmarket.

Friendly, intimate, delightfully old-fashioned, but safe stands and sheltered. And of course it has some of the best summer horse racing in Europe.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Islamic Dress

Matthew Parris is a writer I admire. He gets to the point and says a lot of things that others only think.

His piece today in The Times is titled "Never mind what the woman thinks, wearing a veil is offensive to me".

Is it wrong to say that I feel exactly the same. Except that I can't say it as eloquently as he does.

I will quote Matthew.

'A robustness of attitude against the subordination of women is growing among us, and the wearing of the full veil is seen (accurately, despite the protests of some Muslims) as an outward manifestation of the that subordination. It is not acceptable; it has to stop; and we should say so, though saying so will offend some otherwise reasonable people.'

Absolutely right!

We are all animals. Have you ever seen how two horses or dogs greet each other? It's often a quiet sniff and a lot of eye contact.

By dressing as they do, a Muslim woman is cutting herself off from the pleasant greeting that is usually exchanged in any shop, office or meeting place between two unknowns.

It is downright rude.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Iraq Needs a Trustworthy Figurehead

If you look at all the countries in the last few years that have thrown off cruel dictators, they generally have one thing a in common; a trustworthy figurehead.

Spain had King Juan the Brief, Russia had Gorbachev, Poland had Walensa, Czechoslovakia had Havel, South Africa had Mandela etc.

Even now George Weah is trying to sort out Liberia!

But where is that man in Iraq? The trouble is because of its history, no-one wanted to put his or her head above the parapet and now because democracy is being pushed on them by Bush and Blair, they don’t really want to come out now!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Doctor's Appointments

I am a coeliac and need to have regular appointments with my doctor and/or nurse every three months for B12 injections and check-ups.

My current surgery allows me to book appointments days and sometimes weeks in advance, which means that I can have my injections at the proper times.

If I had to ring up on the day to get an appointment as many do, it would be a total nightmare and my health would suffer. I would not hesitate to go private. Luckily I can afford to do that, but I get good service where I am, so why change.

Incidentally, one of my areas of expertise is scheduling. In fact, I’m proud that most of the large projects in the world were built using my software. One of the best ways to increase capacity in a system, is to fix jobs and appointments some time in the future, as this takes the load of present. Some of the appointment systems being proposed like ringing each day, will actually decrease system capacity.

Appointments are better kept using text messages. I use a desk-based text messaging system to contact clients and children. Works well and you know if the message has been delivered. It can also be automated so that the surgery doesn’t even have to take any action.

The trouble with the NHS is that it’s driven by politics rather than scientific correctness.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Supporting the Police

I’ve always been very supportive of the Police.

The real problem now is that they are getting arrogant and remote from the general public and this will cause problems in the future, unless they reverse this slide.

Take Nottingham where the area is now riddled with speed cameras. Is there any connection to the high unsolved murder rate?

The Met need all the help they can get and what do they do, believe they are always right.

For instance, I have worked in instrumentation and analysis of data for nearly forty years. The police should be trawling this industry for solutions, but they are not. In the shooting at Stockwell, it is must be now possible to remotely check a suspected bomber for metal, explosives and such things as body functions like temperature and heart-rate.

But where is the device?

Senior Police don’t want to even look for such a device, as it isn’t macho and they know it can’t be developed.

But I know it can!

For a start, Beagle 2 featured a very low-weight mass spectrometer. I know about this sort of technique and if one could be put into a back-pack, then I think it would be possible for someone to walk alongside a suspected bomber and have a good sniff for explosives.

How about a two-person metal detector. One carries a low-post electro-magnetic source and the other the detector. If they then walked past the suspect in the opposite direction, with one going either side, a complete magnetic signature could be taken. How do I know about this sort of technology? Well I worked on it over forty years ago, to detect very small pieces of metal in copper wires. All you need is relative movement and it would be easy to check for anything bigger than a belt buckle.

So that's just two ideas.

Throw it open to the weird and wacky scientists of this world and other ideas will be suggested that are much better than these.

Are the police doing this?

I doubt it.


Mo Mowlam

She did her best to try and sort out Ulster, but failed as everyone does because of the intransigence of both sides.

I never met her, but everybody who did had good words for her except the so-called Reverend Ian Paisley.

"Her battle against illness was faced with bravery and determination and amidst all her health problems she retained her character and personality.

She was, of course, no lover of unionists. Stating that convicted murders were unsung heroes of the peace process caused great offence.

Nevertheless, she did recognise those who were truly unionist, but sadly never faced up to the widespread opposition to the Belfast Agreement.

When the full story of recent years is written one will see just how far the Labour government was prepared to go in appeasing terrorists and thugs.

The unionist cause will continue to achieve its lawful objectives, but my thoughts today are with Mo Mowlam's husband and family."

So we know where he stands.

Whilst on the subject of the vile Protestant bigot, I suggest you look at his web sites at www.ianpaisley.org and www.ianpaisley.org.uk.

If I was a Catholic, I would find what he says very offensive. Just as I find what extremist Muslim sites say about people like me who are Atheists.

Wouldn't it be funny, if a new law to stamp down on religious hatred put Paisley in the dock where he deserves to be for his vile rants?

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Sir Ian Blair Gets the Chairman's Vote of Confidence

Yesterday, Charles Clarke gave Sir Ian Blair a vote of confidence. So that means he'll go sometime in the near future, when he does some small misdemeanour.

After all, isn't football, the model by which all politician's live their lives now.

But seriously, I have believed that right from the start of the Menezes affair, that he should go. Now that he admits in the papers this morning that he didn't know for 24 hours, that his special shoot-to-kill squad had killed an innocent man, he must be held guilty for the faulty chain of command that let to the tragic death.

It was his chain of command.

So the buck stops with Sir Ian Blair and he must go.


Ipswich Midgets 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Ipswich must have put out one of the smallest sides in British football for some years.

They still won and would have done it more easily if Dean McDonald had had a bit of luck!

Friday, August 19, 2005


Employment Protection

I always feel that the more money you earn the less protection you should have.

For instance, if you earn less than say about full pounds an hour, then after six months you get full protection.

On the other hand those earning over one hundred thousand a year would have no protection. This would certainly improve the quality of management.

There would be varying levels of protection in between.


Body Mass Index

I've just calculated the BMI of a member of our family. Normally, they should be in the 20's, but her's was 121.

Luckily she is a basset hound.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Endangered Species

There has been a lot of talk in the papers and on the radio about the saving of species, like lions and tigers, by moving some of them to North America.

It's been done before.

When the white rhino was in serious danger from poachers in the 1960s, they decided to move half of the world’s population to somewhere safe. They chose Whipsnade in Bedfordshire.

The outcome many years later is that the white rhino is now much less endangered and has been returned to the wilds of southern Africa.

So moving species does save them!

But you have to ask hard questions.

As an aside I once met, a very elderly ex-big game hunter who told me, that the camera is the modern equivalent of the gun and the world should be a better place for it.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Sympathy for Israel

I’m part Jewish and part Huguenot, so I grew up with a lot of sympathy for the dispossessed.

As a student in the 1960s, I had a lot of sympathy for Israel and we gloried at some of their exploits in the Six Day War. We also felt sympathy for the Palestinians when such as Michael Elphick (?), the esteemed BBC correspondent, told of the squalor of the camps and how they had been treated by the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Syrians.

But over the intervening years, that sympathy for the Israelis has evaporated, as increasingly they have used more brutal methods to suppress terrorism. And surprise surprise, they’ve made it worse.

Look at my name, when the cameraman died, it all came home to me.

As an aside, my next door neighbour was a Colonel Charles Leverett of the Royal Engineers, who was in the King David hotel, when it was bombed by the Irgun. He told me stories of the British mandate, which I’ve only heard from one other person, who was a respected Israeli academic. Jew and Arab lived a lot more peacefully in those days, but the truth has been hijacked by the zealots and militants on both sides, so it has been lost.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Crap Swimmers and Athletes

Why are they so bad?

With the notable exception of Paula, the performances at both the recent World Swimming and Athletics championships has not been good.

I put it partly down to the fact that most athletes have the aim of getting Lottery funding so that they can have a good standard of living. But perhaps we should fund coaches just as well as athletes and put money into performance schemes.

I also feel that we don't make enough use of the football academies. Could they not provide regional backup for services like sports medicine, diet and fitness at a fraction of the cost of independent facilities? Probably, but everybody likes their independence. I prefer something good, rather than travel miles for something that may not be better.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


The Navy's Here!

In 1940 when HMS Cossack of the Navy rescued the sailors torpedoes by the Graf Spee and held captive in the German ship Altmark in a Norwegian fjord, they went in with the cry of "The Navy's here!"

They did the same when they retook the Channel Islands from the Germans in 1945.

Did they go in with the same cry in Kamchatka, when they rescued the Russian submariners?

Perhaps not in voice, but they certainly did in spirit! Even if they weren't actually sailors but contractors! Still the reason for that is that the technology was developed privately for the North Sea oil industry rather than for the Navy.

I bet when they make the film, that the rescuers will be from the US Navy!

Monday, August 08, 2005


Digital Versus Film

I was recently filmed with one of my horses, for one of the Racing Channels.

The professional cameraman was using a digital video camera, but told me that when he wanted to take stills, he always used film.

As I do myself!



I’m from Jewish, Huguenot, Devon and Northants lines and was born in London.

When a form asks for ethnicity, I always put London Mongrel.

Seriously though, I’m 58, and can remember that when Indians came over in the 1950’s and 60’s, many of the women used to wear saris for work. I am an engineer and worked with a female Indian engineer in the 1970s and she wore a sari, when it was convenient. My mother’s surgeon also did this in the 1950’s. No-one bothered and many thought it added colour to life.

Since the atrocities in London, I’ve noticed that more Indian women are wearing saris.

As with the Sikhs turban and many of the African clothes, the sari is a positive sign of ethnicity. The ones that get complained about tend to be very negative.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Offensive Web Sites

If you want a good laugh, look at www.ianpaisley.org.

Now if I was a Catholic, I’d be deeply offended by the rubbish and bile he puts up. As an atheist, I find it rather hilarious on the one hand and very sad on the other as how can anybody feel so strongly about one of the cleverist hoaxes of all time; religion.

Let’s hope Blair’s new law covers the sort of hatred like the good Reverend pedals.

You can also look at a spoof site www.ianpaisley.org.uk. Not much difference really.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Staying Away From London


My parents told me the stories of living through the Blitz.

Life is full of coincidences!

I used to be a private pilot and in well over 1,000 hours of flying, I had only two accidents.

In the major one I overshot on a wet runway hit a wall and ended in a ditch. Everyone walked away. Just like the Air France jet did in Toronto.

In an earlier one, I’d been flying from Prestwick to Ipswich in a single-engined aircraft, when I had a partial engine failure and had to make an emergency landing. Again all was well!

Where was that incident? Leeds. And as they did this week, they behaved impeccably.

Strange we should get two incidents with large aircraft that mimic my two.

Not really, it’s just a coincidence.

So bombers will not keep me away from my beloved London. When it’s my time to go, I’ll not be able to do anything about it, but the odds of it being a bomber in London, are about the same as being killed on the M25 in a car accident. Strangely, that is more likely now, as more people are avoiding public transport.

Que sera sera!


The Murder of Anthony Walker

A good result it seems for Liverpool Police, in that they seem to have charged two with the murder.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Human Rights

Would there be such an outcry over human rights, if the bombers were white? After all the last bomber in London was a homophobic racist. Not much outrage and call for action to root out people of his views.

We must be very even handed and above all scientifically correct.

So I’m all for phone tap evidence being used in court and other measures that would make conviction more likely, without eroding any of the current human rights.

But the main thing we must do, is develop better scientific equipment and methods, which make us all safer. And not just against terrorists, but other criminals as well.