Thursday, November 30, 2017


Here's a photo of a nice assortment of grains that I used for a brew at the weekend; we have, pale malt (malted barley). flaked oats, Vienna malt, roasted golden oats and Carapils (adds body and head retention). All contribute something different to the flavour, texture and strength of the final drink; if alchemy was real I somehow think it would be a bit like brewing.

Brain-fart culture

Lot's of hot air being expended in cyber-space over the last day or two about Dunkin-Donald and his hilarious tweets. I've met a few people like Donald over the years, you learn to spot them and basically steer well clear. Narcissists who only like you when you have something they want and with whom you always fall out eventually; often successful, but toxic, concoctions of over-simplifications, arrogance and ignorance. 

If we're honest with ourselves, the UK and the US haven't had a "special" relationship since Suez. We kid ourselves if we think that the yanks give a rats-bum-hole these-days about a minor trading partner like us, they'll screw us over as quickly as they'd screw anyone to win a good deal for themselves; they are and always have been a mercenary and insular bunch. Of course, like any population there's a distribution and in my experience of having lived and worked in the USA, some Liberal Americans are really quite reasonable and nice, easily lulling a naive Brit into a sense of false security. However, our problem today is that rational Liberals seem to be in decline over there and the Trump seems to be quite adept at exploiting his very own "brain-fart" culture to take advantage of this. Now if only we could ride-out this storm from within the safe-harbor of membership of the largest non-US trading bloc in the world, oh wait...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brain box

Back in October my daughter had a brain scan at Reading University. A research team there were scanning the brains of teenagers whilst they performed specific tasks to see if the areas of the brain that were stimulated aligned among close peer groups. Today we received a picture of her brain from the team, probably the coolest picture I have of her ever! Just had to share it.

Pulling a few strings

New J&M today, exploring the idea that Jews hold positions of undue power and influence in our societies. This isn't backed up by any hard data of course, unless you count the number of Nobel prizes awarded to that particular Human segment. You could argue that Jews seem to do quite well at things requiring hard-work, diligence and intelligence, clearly something unattainable to those that propagate this kind of cultural conspiracy theory.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Chemistry gag..

I'm not a "proper" Chemist (I studied Chemical Engineering) but I saw this and smiled..

Sunday, November 26, 2017


I saw a nice little story on the inter-webs today about a new species of finch that has evolved in the Galapagos, but not through genetic mutation. In this particular case scientists 40 years ago observed a Large Cactus Finch from a neighboring island (65 miles away) mating with a local Medium Ground Finch, the offspring from this coupling proved sufficiently different and able to carve out their own ecological niche (food/habitat etc.) that after a period of only decades the descendant population no longer inter-breeds with the resident finches, the definition of a new species.

The surprising thing about this observation is the hybridisation aspect of it, potentially providing another variation mechanism or trigger for speciation. What will, I'm sure, be much less surprising will be the predictable reaction of the anti-evolution brigade who will no doubt be revving up their fallacy engines as we speak to claim the obvious "it's not "proper" macro-evolution until the Finch turns into a velociraptor" but then again these are the same people that look at the Flintstones and believe it's a documentary.

Fake, fake news

Saw this little Photoshop'd magazine cover today, it made me smile..

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Smirk

Says it all really..

Show me the money..

J&M - illustrating one of the realities of organised religions.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Earliest memory?

Saw this picture today, it instantly transported me back to my teenage years, fond "memories".

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


J&M on the money once again, cleverly picking up on "SJW" (Social Justice Warrior) themes in current social-media threads and the potential free-speech catastrophes going on in our Universities over the last few years.

Handling gaps

Love this XKCD cartoon today; this is exactly how technical teams behave. The excitement and imagination involved in innovation often manifests itself as this kind of gap filling game; I think it's part of the stimulating the very same circuits in our brains that are needed to make real intellectual bridges between what we know and what we don't but desire to explain. Of course in rational spheres, evidence and the scientific method serve to invalidate these ideas so that only the correct ones live on and eventually acquire the status of knowledge.

Many religious people (particularly the fundies) play this exact same game of course, but it seems to me that in their case the crazy ideas they pluck from their butts get elevated to "knowledge" (only in their minds) by shear weight of authority, time and numbers. Re-enforced and spread by the indoctrination of children with those ideas, and, the shoring up of the original memes by apologetics along with threats of violence or exclusion (often perceived to be worse than physical pain for a social animal like Homo Sapiens). Humans always seem to prefer easy or stupid explanations rather than no explanations at all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Black days..

Black-Friday... since when was that a "thing"?

Monday, November 20, 2017


I noticed a little story floating around today about a recent vote in Parliament to repeal EU legislation recognizing the "sentience" of animals, essentially a majority of our MP's don't believe that animals feel emotion or pain, or at least that us Humans shouldn't be concerned about it. A more transparent attempt to slip in the wishes of a minority of "animal-exploiters", particularly the fox-hunting brigade, you'll struggle to find within our current, crappy, weak Government.

The ethical, scientific and logical flaws in this unbelievable move will, I'm sure, be pointed out in the coming days and weeks by people who actually work with animals, like the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Society, respected Biologists and members of the public who campaigned hard to get this important principal into EU law in the first place. This legislation has helped to curb animal exploitation since 2009, including things like inhumane slaughter, isolation cages and the testing of cosmetics. Asserting by a vote that animals aren't entitled to be treated as sentient beings is a ridiculous denial of scientific facts, a suspension of humanity, whatever next? While we're at it, should we perhaps have a vote on Gravity too?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Brew

Two new brews to try last night while cooking up a risotto for the family; on the left we have a chocolate orange imperial stout and on the right an American pale-ale. The stout was flavoured with cacao-nibs soaked in Cointreau and whilst subtle you could definitely get a nice hint of Terry's Chocolate Orange on the finish that contrasted the toasty flavours of the dark malts well. The pale ale was a basic recipe using American hops, it turned out OK but a little on the thin side, although I probably shouldn't have tasted it straight after the stout (which was "syrup" in comparison!)

If I made these two again I reckon I could improve both. First I'd add 20% more cacao-nibs to crank-up the chocolate flavour in the stout and perhaps sling some orange zest into the boil too up the citrus element a bit. Then for the pale ale, it needed something like flaked oats to improve the mouth-feel, or perhaps to up the grain volume a little to give a slightly higher alcohol content, which is another way of doing the same thing. The hop flavours were spot-on though.

All in all a nice brace of beers, the refinement process continues!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday smirk II

Looks like the tautology department library is closed again..

Friday smirk

Above, one of my favourite "far-side" cartoons.. (now 30+ years old!) Below another..

Liturgy for "chavs"

I see that Greggs, that temple to poor nutrition, has been upsetting our superstitious brothers and sisters recently by placing a sausage role into a nativity scene in the place of the baby Jesus. Why they thought that a sausage role should or could provide a metaphor for a mythical Jewish shamen is another mystery, but, the marketing stunt seems to have twisted a lot of theocratic knickers and has prompted an apology from the company.

I must admit I do struggle to take these "takings of offence" too seriously these days, it seems to take so little (like a pork-product placed in a plastic model) to trigger a reaction and so much (like discriminating against a whole gender) to trigger none at all. Let's face it Christmas has so many hijacked layers to it these days that most people really don't care about or understand what it means any more, and those that do are free to revere whatever they like, however they like as much as they want. Such is the benefit of living in an (almost) secular society.

Geographical bad-luck

I came across probably one of the most depressing stories I've read in a long while today.

With everything going on at the moment you would have thought it would be about the latest Brexit insult to our intelligence, Russian cyber-warfare or perhaps The Trump crime gang deciding that killing endangered animals for fun is cool again, nope, moronic as these certainly are, it's not them. It was a story tucked away on the BBC site about an indigenous tribe of people in Sumatra who after resisting for decades have finally been forced to adopt Islam. This harmless and perfectly happy group of around 60 families were bullied and eventually bussed en-mass to a nearby town to get their "appropriate" Islamic clothing and prayer mats. One of the spokesmen for the theocratic thugs that facilitated this "conversion" was quoted as saying,

"For now we are focusing on the children. It's easier to convert them - their mind isn't filled with other things. With the older ones it's harder,"

Of course, these people had their own animistic beliefs, appropriately evolved for the environment they live in, no more incredible or less likely than the ones they're being replaced with. Now, their Abrahamic overlords have imposed an alien belief system imported from a different place and time, a medieval mash-up of tribal, misogynistic nonsense that, like every religiously oppressed native community before them will fuck them up for generations and until all knowledge of their past tradition is erased from the cultural consciousness. This kind of involuntary assimilation is, I believe, a form of intellectual slavery, as immoral in many ways as the North-Atlantic slave trade. No longer will the men of the tribe be able to hunt the wild pigs that frequent their local habitat and no longer will the girls of the tribe be able to wear appropriate cloths without shame, physical prohibitions to go alongside the intellectual ones.

Of course, it isn't just Muslims that persist in this keenness to indoctrinate, dominate and bully, Christians missionaries have been doing exactly the same for centuries. We only need look to populations of native peoples in places like North-America, Africa and South-America (the only "growth" areas for Christianity) to see how that pans-out. Even here today, in our own UK school system this desire to "indoctrinate" children is as strong as ever. Fortunately in the "West", this primitive instinct for conformity has been watered down by years of secular philosophy and the limiting of religious excesses through anti-discrimination and equality law, but, we need to stay on our toes and remind ourselves, through case-studies and examples like this, of how people with these philosophies behave when they're in-charge.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Spotted outside a (good) pub in town, put a smile on my face.. so true..

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fighting fire with fire..

J&M humorously pointing out the bleeding obvious, i.e. that pretty much everything substantive about modern religions is firmly and demonstrably rooted in older versions of the same, parochial stories and cultural myths, i.e. almost everything about it suggests man-made evolutionary-memes and not historical fact (intentionally in a lot of cases). Religious people (especially apologists on the internet) seem to constantly try to anchor their unfalsifiable dogmas in the real-world, whether it be "christian-science", the historicity of Jesus, end times predictions, creationism or the efficacy of prayer, intentions are often sincere, but you never need very dig too deep to discover a rich seam of wishful thinking or just plain hucksterism.

Australian equality

Congratulations and well done Australia! I agree with the majority vote just held there. Equality means everyone being treated the same, despite the delusions your religious brothers and sisters seem to wish to assert or impose (without a single shred of humanity, reason or evidence). 

Slowly this world is becoming a more tolerant place, usually in the teeth of opposition from people whose perspectives rest upon centuries of indoctrinated superstition, myth and toxic cultural conventions. Australia won a small victory yesterday but unfortunately the UK at the moment seems to be travelling against this arc of progress. But, I'm an optimist, I have confidence that we'll come around again soon, progress is never a straight line and we just need some strong secular, rational leadership, we're certainly overdue some.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Night moves

I travelled up to London this morning as I had a meeting in the City (Liverpool St.) at 9 am. So, it was an early start for me! There's something surreal and exotic about standing on the platform of a railway station in the dark and the train arriving with its "headlights" on.

I only go up to town (London) a couple of times a month these days so it's infrequent enough to remain pleasant enough, although, crowded tube trains full of people coughing and sneezing soon knocked the novelty-value out of me today.

Traffic challenges..

I noticed this copy of a tweet on the wires today, it made me smile and reminded me of the horrendous traffic jam in between my Wife and I and the Royal Berkshire Hospital when our Son was arriving. In the end I had to take matters (and our lives!) into my own hands by ignoring signs and traffic cones in order to circumvent road-works. As it turned out, he took another 24 hours after that to arrive so I needn't have worried.


I was talking to one of my friends the other day about splitting up from partners and divorce et al. He's going through a split at the moment and was saddened (and slightly bitter) about the fact that, even with the best will in the world, in such divisive processes there's an almost inevitable tendency toward acrimony. Different strokes for different folks of course, but I reckon you can tell a lot about how your divorce is going to turn out from how healthy your marriage was/is. Behavioural attributes like how often you argue, what you argue about, how quickly you recover from arguments and how generous each party is with the other would seem to me to be quite good predictors of how likely, easy or hard such a journey might be. 

Like most of us he felt much more free to (honestly) elaborate on the highs and lows of the relationship now that both parties have accepted it's finished, it was quite eye opening! I couldn't imagine living with such confrontation over such seemingly trivial matters over such a long period of time. It may be an obvious observation but clearly different people have vastly different tolerances for stress and tension in their lives. Generally, I favour compromise and consciously letting things "go" simply to avoid unnecessary confrontation and to live more harmoniously (anything for a quiet life!), evidently some people struggle to let anything go! That's got to wear you down eventually? 

I'm sure there are pitfalls to my approach too, but, after the conversation with my friend, I couldn't help concluding that my way was better.

Monday, November 13, 2017


A truism from the wonderful XKCD - How many of us have spent ages crafting those "special" emails in anger, love, regret, respect or hope, agonising over every word? I must say that as I get older and the amount of time I have left to author emails diminishes, my ability to efficiently get to the point should feel like it's becoming ever more imperative. This thought doesn't help much though.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bubble, bubble, no trouble at all...

Got up early today and spent a pleasant morning making a new brew. It's a fruity, hazy IPA made with a London yeast strain, which, will hopefully impart a fruity-ester character to what is normally quite a dry style. 

I'm using a type of yeast for the first time and in the picture above you can see the pack it comes in. Rather ingeniously they put a sealed pouch of yeast nutrient inside the pack and a few hours before you're ready to use it you "smack" the packet to burst the inner pouch to release the goodies into the yeast suspension. Then the yeast goes to work and the pack swells up with the Carbon Dioxide produced by the cells, that way you know that the yeast is healthy and it gets a head start on activating ready for fermentation of your beer. Looks like I have a healthy batch so have high hopes for my brew; we'll see how it progresses through the day, should be bubbling away by tonight. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Making plans for Nigel

I see that people are laughing at Nigel Farage again this week. He tweeted that the World Health Organisation is just a bunch of "clever people" who want to boss you around, like, advising people not to smoke because it kills them. I love the fact that this moron thinks that calling someone "clever" is an insult. I reckon remarks like this say more about him than the WHO; the many responses to this tweet are exactly what you would hope for, mostly advising Nigel to stand by his guns, ignore the advice and ideally smoke more.

Friday smirk

For God's sake Trevor, slow down, you're going to get us both killed!!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Malodorous Republicans

Why is it that many American Republican politicians come across to us Brits as total hucksters? Is it their sickly and pious assertions regarding their imaginary friends or perhaps it's their seeming obsession with guns, war, sex, fossil-fuel, flags and money? (or maybe they just are hucksters - Occam's razor etc.) 

A particularly good example of this is Paul Ryan (among many). I'm sure if you look up the phrase "hypocrite" in the dictionary it refers you directly to Paul Ryan. Here we have him on Twitter weaselling his way around the fact that donations to his campaigns from the NRA (National Rifle Association) are the largest of any American politician. In his tweet he substitutes doing something about saving lives through gun control (as proven by every other country in the world that's done it) for praying, i.e. doing nothing at all but scoring points with the credulous.

One wonders how stupid people who support politicians like this can actually get; if prayer actually worked things like mass shootings wouldn't happen in the first place, would they.

Punk Government

I've not got much to say about it but thought I'd just leave this image here.. 

I guess this kind of weird shit is what passes for Government these days? Still, not long until the Jungle is back on our TV, then we'll all have something to distract us while the country slides down the pan.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


New J&M today that reminds us how we all possess a little thing called "bias", even if our religious cousins often like to portray any opposition to it as "discrimination".

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dear America,

Monday, November 06, 2017

The programmers dilemma

Found this cartoon today - me like..

Trendy Muslim?

I see that Islamic apologist and Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan is in trouble over some alleged sexual misconduct with minors. This isn't the first time that Ramadan has been accused of impropriety of this kind. Last month a female French author accused him of rape and since then two more women have come forward claiming similar offences. Prof. Ramadan denies all these charges but if true, they represent a dramatic fall from grace for this frequent TV chat/debate-show visitor and once adviser on Islamic extremism to Tony Blair after the 7/7 London attacks. 

The Charlie Hebdo cover above pokes fun at his predicament (for which they've received death-threats apparently), the speech bubble reads "I am the sixth pillar of Islam" a reference to one of the key differences between Shia and Sunni philosophies, a theological question for an Islamic theologian with perhaps a more "secular" dilemma in front of him today.

Standing up for reason..

In an interesting reversal of the normal apologetics that our (Western) politicians engage in I noticed that the Governor General of Canada (a former astronaut) recently stood up at a science conference and ripped into the usual superstitious nonsense that many people in the world (incredibly!) still cling onto. She had a dig at Astrology, Homeopathy, Creationism and climate-change denial. To most rational people it was simply a statement of what we know to be true from evidence and study, hardly controversial. Except, of course, the usual contingent of "believers" that don't value evidence when it comes to their personal heartfelt delusions. This group predictably got their knickers in a twist about the speech, "Governor General Mocks religion" was the headline in some papers.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised, it must be frustrating for people not to have anything tangible or concrete with which to defend their beliefs, attack must seem like the best (and only) form of defence to them.

Tax parasites

So, it seems that, along with many of the "super-rich" our royal family have been squirrelling cash away "off-shore" in tax havens like Bermuda and investing in questionable companies that rip people off. I also wonder if the Pope is Catholic and bears, well, you know... 

It's mildly amusing to see the hoards of royal apologists coming out of the woodwork this morning to engage in some turbo-charged, knee-chaffing, grovel-mongering, appealing to a majority of people in this country who seem to turn a blind eye to the excesses of our parasite in chief and her extended family, for no other obvious reason than they seem to like a nice hat and a bit of bling at Ascot. I particularly like the defence that "she didn't know what the money was being invested in", next time I get a tax bill from the revenue, I might try that one. I wonder how far I'd get by pleading that I lost track of what I earned? Not far I'd bet.

It would seem ironic that the country (i.e. the UK) that administers most of these so called tax-havens is the one complaining that it's richest inhabitants seem to be benefiting from them. If the government is so offended by this then why not just shut them down? I think we all know the answer to that. Most of them have their noses in the trough too (or aspire to), and even if they don't they're paranoid that if they upset the money-men too much then they'll bugger off somewhere else (which is probably what they'll do after Brexit anyway) You have the think that sometimes we get the leaders we deserve.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Bonfire night

It's that time of year again, when people up and down the country celebrate a failed Catholic terrorist who died over 400 years ago with bangs, whizzes and bonfires. I'm not a great fan, I always found standing around in wet fields with soggy feet watching little flashes in the sky a little samey. I did used to like the hot sausages and mulled wine part although that doesn't seem to happen so much these days. For a while I thought this was something we did for our kids, but, all the kids I know think it's a bit boring too, they spend the time gazing down at their phones rather than up at the pyrotechnics. I guess firework week (because that's how long it really lasts these days) has ended up being a ritual mostly enjoyed by the grown-up kids, you know who you are ...

Sunday smirk..

Best tourist poster ever?

Lagering in the sun..

Crisp, sunny Autumn day here. Brewing up a tasty "IPL", or India Pale Lager, basically a lager (pilsner and amber malts - see above) with the hop profile of an ale. I'm using American Cascade and Amarillo hops to hopefully give a citrus/fruit edge to the finished beer. It's only when we get to November that parts of the house are cool enough to ferment lager styles, they need around 12 Centigrade for a couple of weeks, any warmer and you can get off-flavours developing. Should be ready in about 6 weeks, just in time for holiday season!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Those others

New J&M up today. Perfectly illustrates the fallacy present at the core of all revealed truths. What can be asserted with no evidence, can be dismissed with none.