You’d be surprised that just two companies dominate the global eyewear market

In The Guardian’s Long Read article on, The spectacular power of the Big Lens, it’s hugely informative on an industry that most of us rely on, eyewear. [My spare glasses in photo]

In the article I learned from the article’s author that,

The lenses in my glasses – and yours too, most likely – are made by Essilor, a French multinational that controls almost half of the world’s prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years.


There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets ……. such as Ray-Ban, Vogue, Prada, Oliver Peoples, and Oakley all owned by Luxottica, and John Lewis Opticians run by Luxottica, or Sunglass Hut also owned by Luxottica.

and, now they are becoming one company.

On 1 March 2018, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world’s largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames.

I’d imagine that the majority of us would have imagined that there’s as much a multiplicity of manufactures as their opticians in the country. Not so, which is what I learned from the article.

I started wearing glasses in my early thirties, and have subsequently had numerous different frames and lenses. Currently, my lenses are Varifocal, an Essilor brand, in a Silhoutte frame, which is an independent Austrian company, and jolly expensive they are too. I only moved away from Specsavers as their range of rimless frames was limited.

It wasn’t long ago that we collected all our many spectacle cases and specs, and recycled them. They’d built up on drawers through our house. Now I’ve only kept the last two prescriptions. The photo is of one of them.

Possibly the second greatest physicist of the 20th century you’ve likely never heard of

Albert Einstein is rightly acknowledged as the 20th century’s greatest scientist. It’s more difficult to suggest who’s in the group of theoretical physicists sitting just below Einstein in terms of greatness.

That list would reasonably include Niels Bohr, Madame Curie, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Enrico Fermi, and Paul Dirac. You probably should have heard of Bohr, Curie, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and Fermi, but of Paul Dirac I imagine you might not have recognised the name. [Click on image to expand].

Paul Dirac [1902-1984] was an English theoretical physicist, who, among his contributions to quantum mechanics, proved the existence of anti-matter based purely on mathematical calculation. Tim Radford writes in his Guardian article about Graham Farmelo’s biography of Dirac in, Paul Dirac: The man who conjured laws of nature from pure thought.

Dirac was among the world’s leading physicists at the October 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, where the world’s most notable physicists met to discuss the newly formulated quantum theory. See photo and the names of the delegates below.

Declarations of Independence, once lost are now found

We’ve all done it, that is filed something away, perhaps incorrectly, and then lost track of it. Well, in the past month two lost Declarations have been found.

Perhaps the more important of the two, certainly for the Lithuanian centenary celebration in 2018, is one of the three missing original copies of the Declaration of Independence of Lithuania in February 1918. The Guardian reports that the document was lost during the turmoil at the end of World War 1. It was found in the German Foreign Ministry archives in Berlin by a Lithuanian professor. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

The other lost document is a parchment copy of the American Declaration of Independence dated around 1780. The document was found in the West Sussex County Archives by two researchers from Harvard University. Again The Guardian has a report on the finding. Click on the image to link to the article [also, click to expand]

As I said at the start, things are easily lost, yet take years to find them again.

Old photo of Lightwater’s Budgens used for news story

I happened, as is my wont, to be trawling through the days news, only to find a photo of a place I recognised. And the photo is of Budgens supermarket in Lightwater as it was around 10 years ago.

You’ll have to visit The Guardian’s story about the closure of 35 Budgens stores to see the photo as it’s copyrighted.

The nearest I can get to that photo is one I took in 2006 of Budgens in Lightwater. My photo is nowhere near as good as the one used by the news media. Reinforces my view that I’m a happy snapper with pretensions.

Oddity 2: Fossilised flower in amber perhaps 30 million yrs old

It’s a day of oddities. Here’s the second one. A perfectly preserved fossilised flower, discovered encased in amber and dug out of an amber mine in the Dominican Republic some 30 years ago, is now classified as Strychnos electri.

The research paper in Nature Plants describes its etymology, while The Guardian has a more accessible report – Fossilised flower is beautiful, deadly and new to science.

Photograph: George Poinar

Photograph: George Poinar

Quality journalism debased

TGuardian article 22Jul2013he power of the blogosphere is a fearsome thing. None more so than in the Guido Fawkes blogs.

On Monday, The Guardian newspaper claimed an exclusive story of a serious lobbying ‘conflict of interest’ by the Tories election strategist, Lynton Crosby [click on image to expand].

How interesting that The Guardian’s strength in investigative reporting, holding truth to power, is found to be a hollow sham, by no less than the Guido Fawkes blog.

Here’s what you need to know about how a ‘serious’ newspaper seeks to mislead the reader, and by association the BBC.

  • The original Guardian article, erroneously implicating Lynton Crosby in another lobbying row.
  • Guido Fawkes exposes the tendentious nature of the ‘exclusive’ article.
  • The BBC naturally follows up on the Guardian article and the ‘shocking conflict of interest’.
  • Communications consultant Ed Staite describes the motives behind the Guardian’s article.
  • Guido Fawkes shows where the journalistic power lies, getting a graceless correction from The Guardian. 

Oh, how I love Guido. It’s surely no surprise that The Guardian’s newspaper sales are falling. When a ‘serious’ newspaper loses its reputation for accuracy, what’s left.

Improve your grammar, take the Guardian’s test

I’m a sucker for online quizzes, better for you than playing solitaire.

In the Guardian’s Teacher Network section they have an online Grammar test. Take it HERE, and see how you perform. I scored 13 out of 14, and was annoyed with myself for not identifying the correct prepositional phrase in Q13. Hmm, careless.

New population figures for every local authority

This is the third of my short series of posts from the Guardian’s DataBlog about facts and figures on Surrey Heath.

DataBlog takes the release of the data on changes to UK population, in UK population estimates: how many people live in each local authority? by the Office of National Statistics, HERE, and makes it easier to interpret. 

Here’s the data for Surrey. Column 1 is the mid-2009 population estimate; column 2 is the % change 2008-2009; and column 3 is the % change 1999 to 2009. 

Looks like we’re the among the lower growth areas, but good to see that we’re growing. Stagnation or contraction won’t attract employment or public investment.

Carbon emmissions by local authority

This is the second of the three recent Guardian DataBlog’s that mention Surrey Heath. The value of the Guardian DataBlog is that it uses data visualisation techniques to help interpret the data.

This data blog – Carbon emissions in every local authority in the UK – offers readers two additional ways of seeing the data released by the Department of Energy & Climate Change. It’s easy to see from the Department’s website, how valuable the service is that is provided by the Guardian. Simplification is all.

 The Department’s website provides the raw data. It also provides the associated report on the data by AEA, Local and Regional CO2 Emissions Estimates for 2005 – 2008 for the UK. In this report it’s worth noting that while the results are estimates, they are compiled from data on gas and electricity consumption, and emissions from industry.

I’ll let you browse and dig into these reports. I’ll just extract one piece of data on Surrey Heath for you delectation, that of the per capita CO2 emissions from road transport. See the blow-up from the report and its scale, which shows Surrey Heath in the middle in red surrounded by blue areas, indicating the highest CO2 emissions from this source. Why is this so? Well, there’s another fact, for which I can’t remember the source, that Surrey Heath is the borough with the highest number of cars per head of population.

So, the estimated does fit with other data. Interesting? well, it is to some.

Update on council spending data

The Guardian has an excellent datablog. I’ve been remiss in not adding it to my blogroll. I’ll be correcting that.

There are three recent datablogs that mention Surrey Heath. The first is – Local council spending over £500: full list of who has published what so far – which brings up to date the list of councils who’ve published their spending for public examination.

The Guardian is right to criticise the lack of uniformity in the councils publishing of their data. But they’re overly critical when they call this “disturbing”. They know that Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has promised to issue standards shortly, and that councils have until January next year to publish their data. A case of looking to find fault, when praise and support for the transparency revolution should be the case.

It’s interesting that the Guardian, I imagine in common with all the press, see publication of council spending as “a fantastic journalistic resource”, ignoring the fact that taxpayers are the main beneficiary, enabling them to become ‘armchair auditors’, in Eric Pickles words.

It’s good to see that our council is one of the early adopters of transparency. In time, I’m hoping to see from our council further developments in publishing spending data, with such as trend data, and performance data.