Not your average digestive system . . .

It seems the French have come up with a novel way to decommission their ageing submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Ares reports: The propellant used to fuel France’s submarine-borne M45 nuclear missiles — which are being withdrawn and replaced by the M51 — will be destroyed by bacteria: eaten not burned. The meal will be relatively pricey: €20 million ($25.3 million) is being spent by propellant-manufacturer SNPE to build the “dining-room” on its site at Saint-Médard-en-Jalles in the south-west of France where the bacteria will digest up to 500 tons of propellant a year. . . . The missiles’ reservoirs will first

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Memories of the Blitz

A new book, published in England, tells the story of the ordinary men and women who endured the Blitz – the Nazi air raids on England in 1940 and 1941. It’s of immense interest to me, because my father and mother were among them. Dad was serving in the Royal Air Force, but Mom spent many nights wide awake, carrying a bucket of water and a stirrup-pump, keeping watch for incendiaries and trying to put them out before they set fire to buildings. The Daily Mail has run three articles taken from the book, describing what it was like to

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Interesting photographic effects

I’ve been amused to see some rather remarkable photographs taken with cellphones, which display the ‘rolling shutter’ effect. According to Wikipedia: Rolling shutter is a method of image acquisition in which each frame is recorded not from a snapshot of a single point in time, but rather by scanning across the frame either vertically or horizontally. In other words, not all parts of the image are recorded at exactly the same time, even though the whole frame is displayed at the same time during playback. This produces predictable distortions of fast moving objects or when the sensor captures rapid flashes

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A tongue-twisting horse race!

One has to laugh at the names of two of the horses in this race – and the commentator’s attempts to keep them straight as the finish line approaches! I understand the horse race was held in New Jersey last weekend. Well done to the commentator for not losing his cool! Peter

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PowerPoint claims another victim – and, perhaps, costs US lives!

I was sorry – but not surprised – to read that after criticizing the ‘PowerPoint culture’ of US headquarters in Afghanistan, Colonel Lawrence Sellin, a reserve officer from New Jersey, has been relieved from his post. His ‘mistake’ (for which I applaud him) was to publish his opinion in an ‘Outside View’ column for United Press International. An excerpt follows. Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no reason to change that now. Consider the following therapeutic. I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters

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The world’s greatest dictionary goes all-electronic

The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) have announced that no new edition of the full dictionary will be published on paper. It was first published 126 years ago and is respected the world over. But the Oxford English Dictionary will never appear in print again, its owners have announced. Instead, the 80 lexicographers who have been working on the third edition for the past 21 years have been told the fruits of their labour will exist solely online. The OED has been available on the internet for the past ten years and receives two million hits a month

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A salute to The Few, 70 years later

Today a special British Airways flight, an Airbus A321 airliner, carried 13 former Royal Air Force pilots, survivors of ‘The Few‘ who defended their country during the Battle of Britain in 1940, on a tour of the area of the Battle. It was joined in formation flight by two historic fighters, a Spitfire and a Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The Daily Mail reports: Every Battle of Britain veteran on board this special commemorative flight had seen the formation before. But the last time most of them flew in it was 70 years ago. Back then, in

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Forgotten heroes

I remember September 11th, 2001, and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I’ve known for some time that those who responded to the attack were suffering health problems, and battling Federal, State and local bureaucracy to get some sort of relief; but I hadn’t realized how serious, or how widespread, the problems really were. An article in the Daily Mail has jerked me out of my complacency. 11 September nine years ago, 2,975 people died in the worst-ever terrorist attack on US soil. The body count was shocking, and the trauma suffered by victims’ families hard to contemplate.

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