Keydet Piper I'm thinking bagpipes

Monthly Archives: June 2008

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New video: 6/8 marches

The other day I recorded myself playing three of my favorite 6/8 marches: Cameron MacFadyen, Pipe Major Donald MacLean of Lewis, and Mrs. Lily Christie.

I had intended to record an MSR as well, and indeed played one, but due to a stupid mistake on my part I didn’t actually record it…. I think I never hit the record button before I started playing, so when I actually did push it at the end I started recording instead of stopping. I got some great footage of me tuning, but none of an MSR. Ah well.

Anyway, 6/8 marches.

The Danger of Cell Phones

I recently found a podcast called “Skeptoid,” in which skeptic and writer Brian Dunning picks a topic each week and then discusses it from a scientific standpoint in short episodes that run about 10 minutes or so. His topics range from alternative medicine to conspiracy theories to psychics, UFOs and ghost hunters, and from the title of the podcast you can probably guess the conclusions he draws. He also likes to take common misconceptions and lay the facts down; he’s kind of like the Bad Astronomer in that way. In general, my opinion of the podcast is A+, great stuff that a lot of people need to hear.

However, in the episode I listened to this morning about cell phones on airplanes, I found points where I disagree. Read the transcript or listen to the episode, then come back.

As Brian points out in the podcast, a cell phone operates on a completely different frequency than any of the navigation or communication equipment, and in no way provides any danger to the operation of the aircraft. I’m not disagreeing with him on this point, not at all. However he mentions “those of us who hope to get this groundless ban dropped,” and I’m not sure I’d like to see the ban disappear.

My reason has nothing to do with the science of the phones or anything, but sheer selfish human comfort. I don’t want to hear other people on the plane blabbing on their phones from Boston to San Diego. There’s a limit to the number of one-sided phone conversations you can hear without going crazy, and in the confined and inescapable space of a commercial aircraft that limit can be exceeded extremely quickly. It’s true they may not pose a danger to the aircraft itself, but there is a risk to the blithering idiots who feel that everyone around them should know what is important to them. Hang up the phone, read a book or magazine, listen to you iPod, and wait until you get on the ground to call your coworkers and loved ones.

Which brings up another interesting point: why are mp3 players, laptop computers, PDAs, CD and DVD players, and anything else with a battery not permitted below an altitude of 10,000 feet? If your phone doesn’t interfere with the operation of the plane, it’s pretty safe to say that the small battery of your iPod doesn’t either, especially since the device doesn’t actually transmit anything in the first place.

I have an opinion on this, and the reason is indeed derived from passenger safety. Mind you this is not verified by any sources but it makes sense to me. Think about a plane flight. The times in the flight with the greatest risk for an accident are takeoff and landing, when the plane is nearest the ground. Also, accidents here have a chance for a fatality rate of less than 100% (I mean face it; if the plane develops a fatal flaw and drops 35,000 feet the safety briefing won’t help anyone). So my theory is that in case something goes wrong the crew will need to give instructions, and they need everyone to be listening. I developed this theory while on a JetBlue flight; JetBlue has the nice feature of an individual TV and separate head phone jack for each seat. They make you turn off mp3 players for takeoff but if you’re watching TV they can override the audio with the intercom.

So while the gadget ban may not be rooted in science, it is rooted in common courtesy and dissemination of information. My thoughts.


Over the weekend I posted a few videos on You Tube of me playing the practice chanter and pipes. Fun stuff, no serious competition tunes, just playing some good tunes.

First on the practice chanter, a hornpipe and jig: The Man from Skye and Alex MacDonald

Download Firefox

The top ten reasons to use Firefox

10. It is the fastest browser out there

9. Firefox has a really good popup blocker

8. You can import your bookmarks from other browsers

7. The bookmark toolbar = really handy

6. Firefox has about 20% market share, and you always like to support the little guys, right?

5. Firefox has nearly 30% market share in Europe, and they know a lot more than we Americans do.

4. It’s free.

3. Firefox is not made by Microsoft

2. Internet Explorer is terrible

1. Using a different browser than the one bundled with your OS shows you know what you like when it comes to the internet and are not a slave to conformism.

Download Day - English