John Cleese’s “Letter to America”

This was from 2008 but again it applies to today’s potentially disastrous result

Things Are Looking Up...

Originally uploaded by Browserd.
Dear Citizens of America,

In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how…

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Converting OS Grid coordinates into Lat/Long using PostGIS

I had a case of needing to convert Ordnance Survey grid coordinates like 548420,247240 that were in a table from NAPTAN into latitude & longitude so that I could display them in a map.

Most references online appear to do this by running the data through some application then importing it back into the database but as I’m using PostGIS I wanted to do it directly on the database.

So here’s how I did it.

First here’s the table I want to process:

gis=> select crscode,stationname,easting,northing from naptan limit 5;
 crscode |           stationname           | easting | northing
 ABA     | Aberdare Rail Station           |  300400 |   202800
 AUR     | Aberdour Rail Station           |  319100 |   685400
 AVY     | Aberdovey Rail Station          |  260600 |   296000
 ABE     | Aber Rail Station               |  314870 |   186950
 AGL     | Abergele & Pensarn Rail Station |  294612 |   378681
(5 rows)

Now you see we have the rail station’s coordinates as an easting & northing pair.

First I added a geometry column to the table naptan:

gis=> select AddGeometryColumn( 'public', 'naptan', 'the_geom', 27700, 'POINT', 2);
 public.naptan.the_geom SRID:27700 TYPE:POINT DIMS:2
(1 row)

Here 27700 is the ESRI code for the OS grid system.

Next I updated the table to create geometries for each entry:

gis=> update naptan set the_geom=GeomFromText('POINT('||easting||' '||northing||')',27700);

This updates each row using the easting and northing columns.

Finally I needed to add two new columns for latitude & longitude and populate them with the final values:

gis=> alter table naptan add column lat real;
gis=> alter table naptan add column long real;
gis=> update naptan set long=st_x(st_transform(the_geom,4326)), lat=st_y(st_transform(the_geom,4326));

That’s it, we now have the table populated with lat/long coordinates:

gis=> select crscode,stationname,lat,long from naptan limit 5;
 crscode |           stationname           |   lat   |   long
 ABA     | Aberdare Rail Station           | 51.7151 | -3.44308
 AUR     | Aberdour Rail Station           | 56.0546 | -3.30056
 AVY     | Aberdovey Rail Station          |  52.544 | -4.05707
 ABE     | Aber Rail Station               |  51.575 | -3.22983
 AGL     | Abergele & Pensarn Rail Station | 53.2946 | -3.58262

Hopefully this is correct – if it isn’t please let me know but the final data looks ok to me.


If in emacs you need a different file coding system (line terminator), for example you are on a windows system and need to type a unix like text file (or vice versa), you can easily convert the buffer coding system.

Dos to unix

M-x set-buffer-file-coding-system RET undecided-unix
save the file (C-x C-s)


C-x RET f undecided-unix
C-x C-f

Unix to dos

M-x set-buffer-file-coding-system RET undecided-dos
save the file (C-x C-s)


C-x RET f undecided-dos
C-x C-f

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