Saturday, January 20, 2018

Devil religion

Amusing new entry over at THEATHEISTPIG.COM (that hammy critic of religion) It always amazes me how people can be so scared of immigration whilst at the same time be sitting in countries whose success was largely built on the concept. I believe that it's generally a positive thing so long as cultures are allowed to change at a velocity that they can cope with. The uncontrolled, high-rate of immigration of recent years is almost certainly the aspect of this that's broken the camel's back among the immigranophobes, and not without some justification. If the politicians had had a better measure of planning, control and fairness back in the 90s then I suspect things would have turned out differently on matters such as Trump and Brexit.

I think there'll always be people who value the exchange of ideas and new information implicit in immigration over the risks (and fear) of importing undesirable things. There will always be people who see this equation the other way around, but the right answer isn't one extreme or the other, nor is it exactly in the middle either, velocity and timing is important.

Friday, January 19, 2018

One of our ladders is missing..

For fun here's a quick photo I took on my constitutional walk today. I thought it would make a good subject for a witty pun but the only relevant film I could think of was "Jacob's Ladder" which has nothing to do with ladders! "The invisible man" perhaps?

Friday Smirk

"Quintillions of tons" is a lot! I always wondered why the Sun was that colour..xkcd

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Free speech

I love this interview. It's Jordan Peterson vs. Cathy Newman from Channel 4, it was a car-crash for Newman but that aside, if you want to understand why free-speech must include the right to "offend" then watch the exchange that happens from around 21:35 minutes in.

Essentially Newman confronts Peterson with his well publicized views on a recent Canadian law that makes it mandatory to refer to people using pro-nouns of their choice. Famously, Peterson refuses to accept the concept of legislated speech labeling it identity-politics of the most dangerous kind (and he's right). Newman tries to put Peterson on the spot by asking why he thought that his right to free-speech should trump trans people's right not to be offended. With his response, Peterson rather cleverly turns it around by pointing out that Newman is not in the slightest bit worried about offending him by asking questions and making assertions designed to make him feel uncomfortable, she is effectively exercising her right to free speech in order to learn and to probe the truth of Peterson's claims! Then, he twists the knife by asserting that, this is how it should be! (Gotcha!) Her on-screen realisation that she's been perfectly snookered is toe-curlingly wonderful.

I believe Peterson is right, i.e. mandatory speech is a dangerous and unnecessary step for the Canadians. The Government is essentially legislating what specific words it's citizens have to use, this is distinctly totalitarian in spirit and begs the question what other special interest groups may now spring up and demand their own "special" words? Four legs good, two legs bad, it's basically a free-speech slippery-slope argument.

I like Peterson, he has a common sense, evidence driven approach to things that is refreshing and compelling and he's a very articulate speaker. My main area of disagreement with him is around Christianity and his seeming support for it. I do feel his views on this topic, specifically what "truth" means, are woolly and obscurantist. In my view his reasoning is muddled and leaning heavily toward special-pleading, as exposed in the debate with Sam Harris last year. On the complex behavioural topics around what motivates us and makes us happy, especially men and boys, he is very good (see his YouTube video-lecture series), the breadth and depth of clinical and scientific data he draws upon to back up his claims is impressive.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Atheist puffins

J&M sums up the religious position nicely here. I often wonder how blinkered you have to be to blindly accept the lame excuses that the devout give for wishing to retain controls over our schools and our Governments, it's about worldly-power, it's always been about power and will continue to be so until all communities are like Iceland (and I don't mean freezing-cold and partial to roast puffin!).

Up the workers!

Took my team (from work) into Reading last night for a slap-up meal and a few pints to celebrate the release of the latest version of our product. I was pleasantly surprised to find the beer pictured above on tap in the restaurant we ended up in. It's from Siren Craft Brew and is called "Undercurrent", it's a hoppy pale ale made with barley and oats using American hops (cascade and palisade) it was banging! I could have easily sunk a few of these but had to limit myself to one as I was driving home. PS we went to a new place (opened in December 17) called "Honest Burgers" which is an up-market burger chain, very good it was too. Sensible prices, good food and craft-beer what more could you ask for? Perfect for an informal gathering of the workers!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Transport Blues

Well, here we are again, Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year. 

I've had a particularly crappy morning so far, first it's freezing cold with a delightful side-dish of horizontal rain. Secondly, I had to run my kids to school extra early (out before 7 am) which meant I spent over an hour in the car in various tedious traffic jams around Reading. Having finally arrived at my office I now have to walk to the train station and catch the train up to town (London) and attend a couple of meetings with a 3 hour gap in between, finally coming home during peak rush-hour (joy) It was pitch-black when I left the house and it will be pitch-black by the time I get back at around 8 pm tonight, let's hope it isn't still raining. Oh well, I can't really complain too much, after listening to radio 4 this morning I can at least be thankful that I'm not a Rohingya Muslim at the moment, sounds like those people are going through proper hell (and not just transport delays)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mechanical monopolies

I had a warning light appear on my car the other day, in fact it was the little engine shaped one and so I was none the wiser in terms of what the actual problem was, in fact the car behaved quite normally. Of course most car manufacturers have arranged things so that, for most significant or complex issues, you have to pay for one of their mechanics to plug a computer into a socket and get the computer to tell them what precisely is wrong, it's a great way to scrape another fifty or sixty quid from the punter. Having gone through this business of paying to diagnose (when diagnosis was simply plugging in the right software client) then paying again to fix I really came away with a view that the car manufacturing business is not very customer oriented and seriously needs to be disrupted. 

I began thinking, what would be difficult about having a standard app on a conventional phone that did the same thing, and, what would be complex about having a digital market or exchange where bunch of (proximal) companies could then bid against each other in order to secure the "fix business"? Nothing of course, other than the big monopolistic car firms would lose out on a nice little earner, I bet someone somewhere is working on this.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday smile

Yeah, it feels like this sometimes..