The Mournes, the merrier!

For some reason this is always one of the top three most popular pages on Naturenet. I took the time to update some information on Northern Ireland’s proposed first national park, the Mournes. The page was previously a bit cynical about the chances of this happening, but it now really does look as though it may, which is good news! So the Ranger has had to tone down some of his rather caustic comments on that bit. It’ll probably only be ten years before the National Park is designated at this rate 😉

Myxomatosis – what do you say?

Rarely – I’m glad to say – does rangering get close to theology. But today I had the job of writing a response to a young lady who wrote to me describing herself as a ‘rabbit lover’, and explaining why we were doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of rabbits with myxomotosis in her favourite beauty spot.

Continue reading Myxomatosis – what do you say?

Get your Christmas gravestone cleaner in now!

Yes, at last there’s hope. Ideal for your seasonal shopping, could this fantastic patented compound end dirty gravestone misery for ever? Tragically the website does not show the images in the catalogue, but via the magic of the web we can show it to you (see pic). Check out the little ‘before and after’ gravestone! And the little festive holly sprig! Ho, ho, ho – Father Christmas certainly has come early this year. Get some soon before it sells out – they’re dying to get hold of it! Gravestone cleaner

Thanks to The C@ for this gem.

If you actually want to buy some, go here.

Online security: the bank of paranoia

I have had a credit card for a while – it’s a necessary adjunct to life on the internet, I find. I have bought quite a few things with it online, and seem to have lived to tell the tale. So I was a bit scornful of the latest government programme to tell us all to be safe online.

It seems like another one of those ‘fear of crime’ things. There’s no point trying to reduce crime, goes the theory, because even if you do, the papers get everyone so excited about it that everyone thinks there’s more crime anyway. So try to reduce the fear of crime instead. Internet security is a bit like that. Those who have not done any online transactions probably imagine, from reading about it in the mainstream, that it is only slightly less risky than forcing your hand into a meat-mincer.

Therefore I was jolly fed up when the time came to try to get my credit card bill visible online. I’m delighted that my bank – Intelligent Finance – is protecting my identity. Really, I am. But here’s what I needed to do to register – and it’s way over the top:

  • Provide a 8-character username
  • Provide an 8-character password that included at least one number
  • Give the answers to four security questions – I hope and pray that only one of these would be used when I log back in
  • Make up a ‘memorable word’ – they didn’t tell you what it was for, or why it should be memorable. Still wondering how it differs from a password
  • Make up a question to prompt me for my memorable word
  • Make up a 5-digit security number

Almost all of this rigamarole needs to be rehearsed every time I log in. And what is the result? The result is that no way can I remember all that. So guess what I had to do with it. And how secure is that? You see what I’m getting at here? Come on, banks, get with it. This sort of thing will make people paranoid, and they won’t bother to use online stuff if it’s not foolproof.

You agree? See what some american bloke from the Wall St Journal thinks about it. I think he’s kinda onto the same thing.

And in case you’re reading this because you are after my identity, I’ve packaged it all up for you to take away. Please help yourself.

Naturenet savours seeing Nigerian scammers scammed themselves!

It’s not big and it’s not clever to trick other people. And spam sucks. I know because we get about 600 spams every day. Yes, 600. That’s 250,000 last year. You thought you had it bad? No doubt you’ll tell me about how you know this bloke who swears his brother gets 1000 spams every day. He probably does – and if so he has my sympathies. Anyway – surfing today I found a teeny little consolation – Scamorama, where you can see some real 419 scammers getting their comeuppance at the hands of some worryingly overpersistent emailers. If you don’t know what 419 scamming is, then you probably will know exactly what it is when I give you the first few lines of a typical scam email:

Dear Sir,

Request for Urgent Business Relationship

I am the group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a member of the ad hoc committee set up by the federal government of Nigeria to review contracts awarded by the past military administration between 1985-1993. The members of the committee are interested in the importation of goods into the country with the funds presently floating in the Central Bank of Nigeria/Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) foreign payments account.Our request is anchored on our strong desire to establish a lasting business relationship with you and your company. We hence solicit your partnership to enable us transfer into your account the said funds.

Recognise it? Ha! I knew you would. Go and see how sweet a dish revenge can be. Oh, and by the way, this is what Naturenet does to avoid spam. It’s great, we recommend it. It costs, mind, but by god it’s worth it.

You lucky Bustard!

A remarkable story from just over the water at Portland. You’ll no doubt be well aware of the Great Bustard reintroductions on Salisbury Plain. You weren’t? Well,whatever. They’re the biggest flying birds in the world. Imagine the consternation and excitement last week when one of these flying fortresses was seen cruising in off the English Channel towards Dorset, and furthermore, turned out to be one of the releasees, presumed lost! A big bird You can even see the wing tags that they put on the released birds. Read the full tale at the Portland Bird observatory site. What a heart-warming tale!

Northern Ireland Environment & Heritage Service

I’ve just updated this page. It was so old it had got fur on it – even saying ‘we expect things to change in 1998’. This is the web equivalent of finding a tin of pilchards in the back of the cupboard marked 2/6. However, I’ve updated it as best I can. I’ve tried before but the problem, as you might see from the ranger’s feeble protestations on the page, is that it’s far from clear exactly what this body actually does, and from what I hear it’s not much clearer if you work there. They seem to be a combination of the functions of English Nature, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, and quite a few other English institutions. What’s better still, the websites always seem to be a bit behind the latest reorganisation. So if you live in NI and know the answers, we’re just waiting to be told. Go on. Please!

Bird Flu – hype or horror?

What a panic about bird flu. Yes, it’s worrying but the possibility of an influenza pandemic is hardly new. I do worry, though, about the tacit threat which may be building against wild and migrating birds. People really do seem to worry about these things -be it badgers, rats, mice, flies and now birds. They think that ‘someone’ ought to do ‘something’ about them. But frankly, they can’t. these creatures are wild, and they do what they like. Nobody owns them, nobody controls them, and they never have. The idea of a natural world which has its own laws and way of life seems odd to some of us who are more used to an urban environment where everything is owned and managed by someone -and, perhaps more sinisterly, where everything that goes wrong is somebody’s fault, and they can then be sued, hoorah! By the way, here’s the offical advice:

There is a small possibility that some wild birds may be affected by the highly pathogenic form of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in the UK this autumn and winter. If you come across a suspicious die-off of wild birds please: Do not touch them. Contact Defra on 08459 335577 immediately (wherever you are in the UK).