Last night in the Smoky Drinky Bar, Joe L suggested that I back up my blog, and send it to him and Emily.
I hadn’t done that before, so I straightaway went and did it, using the Export facility that WordPress provides. Ten minutes later Joe had downloaded all 60 MB of the zip file that had been created. And that means that if WordPress decides to delete my blog one day, or somebody hacks into it and deletes it, there’ll be a few copies of it floating around. If anyone wants a link to the file, I’ll be happy to send them one. I believe it has all my posts going right back to 2009, and all the comments as well.
These days 60 MB is peanuts, but I can still remember, in 1978, getting a Motorola 6800 microprocessor development board with just 256 bytes of RAM on it. Programs were stored on cassette tapes which made funny whistling and burbling sounds as they played. The display unit was a couple of red hexadecimal leds. I spent hours squeezing code into the 256 bytes to do all sorts of things. It was a bit of a relief when, 6 months later, we got hold of an additional 256 bytes of RAM. That was like a full sized living room. And when next year I bought my first computer – an Exidy Sorcerer – it had a whopping 32 K bytes of RAM. I had a little ditty I used to hum to myself back then: “Thirty two Kay: I’m going away.”
And I can’t really comprehend the amount of memory inside computers today, and the amount of data stored on hard disk drives with terabytes of memory. Nor do I understand cloud memory, which I vaguely imagine to be a cloud of millions of terabyte hard disk drives floating somewhere over the surface of the Earth, and accessible using WiFi or Bluetooth. But I still have my early ingrained habits of making code and data as compact as possible, so that you could fit it all into, well,.. 256 bytes.
I also wonder how long all this memory is going to last. I was reading something recently about how long storage media lasted, and books could last hundreds of years, stone tablets thousands. But how long does non-volatile memory last? 10 years? Less? I’m wondering if we’ll find that we’ve got more and more data, but none of it lasts very long – particularly if it can all be wiped with a sufficiently large electro-magnetic pulse. We might all wake up one morning to find that all our data has been wiped, and all we’ve got left is a dog-eared paperback copy of The Wind In The Willows.
LONDON — Nigel Farage has dismissed medical experts who warn that smoking kills millions of people every year as “clever people” who should be ignored.
The former UKIP leader urged his Twitter followers to ignore a warning from the World Health Organisation that smoking kills more than 7 million people a year.
The organisation was welcoming a decision by the Vatican to ban the sale of cigarettes in Vatican City.
“The World Health Organisation is just another club of ‘clever people’ who want to bully us and tell us what to do,” Farage tweeted.
This is not the first time that the leading Brexit campaigner has dismissed the otherwise almost universally accepted link between cigarettes and smoking-related diseases.
“I think the doctors have got it wrong on smoking,” Farage told the Daily Telegraph last year.
I thought this was interesting because it suggested that Nigel Farage was becoming as sceptical of antismoking Public Health as he is sceptical about the EU and global warming. And not many people are sceptical, particularly about tobacco.
But after speaking out last year, this latest pronouncement of his suggests that his scepticism is deepening. And it also suggests that he is surrounded by growing numbers of sceptics.
But I’m not sure what he means by “clever people”. Maybe he means people who can juggle with statistics, or produce research papers at the drop of a hat that prove anything you want proven. Are such people “clever”? They most certainly want to bully us and tell us what to do. But is “ignoring them” the right response? I don’t want to ignore Tobacco Control: I want to destroy it.
Anyway, I’m wondering if more people are soon going to start coming out of the woodwork and saying they’re sceptical as well, and don’t believe the doctors got it right either. What happens when Paul McCartney says he doesn’t believe it? And Prince Charles? And Clint Eastwood? What will be the response of Tobacco Control to growing numbers of sceptics? Most likely it’ll be the same as AGW, and sceptics will be called Science Deniers, or more recently by the Pope, “perverse.”
I’m certainly getting more and more perverse. I’m believing less and less of anything I’m told. And it seems that everybody else is too. We’re entering a world in which nobody believes exactly what anyone else believes, and everyone has a different opinion about everything.