Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Brexit debates..

For those people still debating Brexiters on social-media, you can't use reason and logic to convince people who don't value reason and logic, you're better off making fun of their haircuts and pointing out that they smell funny just like we used to do in the playground.

Give'm Pell

I've blogged on this topic a couple of times over the years and the subject has also been covered widely in the main-stream media as well as via comedians and other public figures. It would seem that Cardinal Pell, the disgraced Vatican treasurer has finally been banged to rights. Pell was found guilty by a jury of his peers in Melbourne, Australia of multiple counts of child abuse, not once but twice (on appeal) 

Let's hope that the victims of his despicable behaviour can achieve some kind of closure and sense of justice now, and that Pell will finally accept responsibility for his actions and the disgraceful cover-ups perpetrated by the Catholic establishment under his watch. The previously senior position he held in that besmirched organisation won't help him much where he's headed, I believe the criminal fraternity (with whom he'll hopefully be sharing digs for a good long while) still have a pretty dim view of people who commit crimes against children like his.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Strange beasts

Spotted this strange beast on my walk today; I wonder what killed it?

Weather trends

The following comments aren't a scientific analysis of any kind (clearly!) but just something I found interesting. Here are two pictures taken from the same (roughly) vantage point on a road bridge during my daily walk, the only difference is that they were taken exactly one year (to the hour) apart. The left hand image is from the 25th Feb 2018 and the right-hand image was taken today (2019). As you can see the weather in both images is (highly) uncharacteristic (i.e. mild and sunny for February in the UK) Is this a trend? Not necessarily, two data-points count for diddly-squat in terms of climate science, just interesting that the same kind of (rare) weather happened at exactly the same time one year apart.

Fear the love

Young Sheldon getting to the crux of things, as usual..

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Decided to try something a little funky last night. Another local brewery (Reading) Double Barreled with a beer called "Red Jungle Fowl", it's what's known as a "Gose" which is a traditional Belgian/German style made using wheat and soured with lactic acid bacteria. It's a really refreshing and light style, this one was flavoured with Raspberry and Beetroot which sounds like an unlikely combination but it actually worked pretty well. Double Barreled are making a bit of a name for themselves around these parts and have opened a new taproom over in Norcot (West Reading) somewhere, it's a bit off the beaten track for me but if this beer is anything to go by I must make the effort to visit sometime this Summer!

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Lots of people get excited about the Brits. Me, not so much..

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Mid-week Mirth

J&M pointing out the bleeding obvious (at least to some of us) that most of the current set of deities seem to relish any opportunity to punish (often for eternity) us for acting out a nature that the aforementioned beings put there in the first place - deliciously circular and so clearly man-made.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Or... as I expect he really meant, find someone competent and pay them to do it..

Why, and why now?

We've had a Honda of one shape or another in our family for at least 15 years now, we think they're reliable and good value for money. The latest one is a CR-V (see above) which has proven itself over the last 4 years on countless occasions ferrying muddy kids and their various cohorts from one place to another in all weathers without a single hiccup. I read with dismay yesterday that Honda has announced that it will be closing it's manufacturing plant in Swindon (3,500 jobs), this news certainly doesn't inspire me to buy another Honda anytime soon, but then again, what else could you buy in this category (i.e. family cars) these days that supports British people and jobs directly? Are we to become a nation of middle-men and sales reps for other people's goods, perhaps we already are?

I can't help thinking that Brexit is front and centre of this decision, even though everyone involved seems to be claiming that it isn't. The two questions I think need to be answered are similar but crucially different, they are, "why" and "why now", let's hope that we can get clarification on those two things as this story unfolds over the coming weeks and let's hope it convinces more people to favor a second referendum that could enable us to exit the catastrophic path we find ourselves on.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Number One

Just read a little meme on Facebook; apparently the song that was number one in the charts on the day of your 14th birthday defines the rest of your life (I'm assuming it's the chart in your home country!). A quick Google shows that for me this is "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, could be worse I suppose, at least I like the track!

Serious conversations

Had a "is religion actually true" debate with a theist on Saturday evening, I think pretty much all of these excuses had a little run-out at one point or another, all very friendly though. I do like it when you can have a serious conversation with someone about something you disagree on for a decent chunk of time and then effortlessly move topic to more common ground and continue on without any slightest hint of "offence taking" on either side.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

PM's Question Time

Had a bit of a surprise on Friday, I picked up my Son from school as I usually do on Fridays and he was super excited to tell me that Theresa May had visited his school and he was picked to attend a Q&A session with her (because he's doing Government and Politics at A-Level) and actually asked her a question; he even had a picture to prove it (see above) Apparently she looks older and sounds posher than she does on TV according to him (probably not the biggest of her worries this week!). All in all a nice little treat for the students, apparently they were all mortified that they weren't allowed to use social media for 2 hours after she left, security and all that, I bet their WiFi was completely saturated at exactly 2 hours and one minute afterwards! 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

(some) Meetings...

Need to get me a pair of these...

Friday, February 15, 2019


Loving the sunshine this week, almost Spring-like feel on my regular lunchtime walks - no doubt there's some kind of "beast" from the East lurking around the corner though so I'm not getting complacent, the brolly, scarf and gloves are still packed into the boot of my car every day.

Friday Smirk++

One for the software geeks among us, I will be using this put-down extensively..

Friday Smirk

J&M pointing out the obvious weirdness inherent in an apparent obsession with homosexuality while claiming to be straight. So many religious zealots and hucksters make their money from berating gay people and turn out to be closet homosexuals themselves that it's becoming like some kind of law of physics.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Faith vs Science

Excellent work by The Onion here.. It poses the question of what would happen if a Charles Darwin shaped stain was discovered on the wall of the courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee (scene of the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial") Would thousands of Biologists and Zoologists flock to the site to lay wreaths of flowers and hold candle-light vigils? Would the evangelical religious types claim that the stain was just a stain and nothing more, would the faithful flock argue over whether the stain might actually look more like Stephen J. Gould or perhaps Carl Sagan? No, we all know the answer, it's the same reason that Science and Religion aren't compatible, unless of course, your brain can cope with a huge quantity of cognitive dissonance, something most religious people seem to have no problem with, bless.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

London Prices

Went up to London on business today for the first time this year, I noticed that the price of a day-return ticket has gone up to over £55 (it's only 35 miles away) and even then the train was 30 minutes late and I had to stand up for the whole journey, this does stick in the throat somewhat. I do worry sometimes that the cost of doing business in the South-East is getting out of hand and with Brexit, probably getting worse in the near future!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Mirth

I read on the inter-webs that today is "National pun-day", any fully developed culture needs one of those of course, the preferred humour of embarrassing middle-aged Dads across the nation, in solidarity with their weakening bladder control, here's a little sprinkling..

- I got a date with a girl from the zoo, I think she's a keeper..
- Woman walked into my pub and asked for a sexual innuendo, so I gave her one..
- Had to close my origami shop, the business folded..

And the winner is...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saintly wine

Went over to the French side last night, left a beef bourguignon slow cooking all day and then once the sun had set we cracked open this little beauty. It's from Bordeaux and made by the same people that make Leoville-las-Cases (a VERY expensive wine) This wine isn't in the same price league as it's bigger sibling but it's still on the pricey side (around £40), luckily I bought this many years ago for much less than this and it's been resting in it's wooden case alongside eleven of it's relatives ever since. I bought a case of the 2006 on the basis that it was supposed to be an exceptional year for this particular wine, my wife and I visited the chateaux in 2007 and the story they told us was that due to a bad year (weather-wise) quite a lot of the grapes normally destined for the grand-vin ended up in the Clos-du-Marquis. I always take these kinds of stories with a pinch of salt as, after all, the people telling them are usually trying to sell you wine but since I'm a big fan of this wine anyway, in for a penny etc. I'm pleased to confirm that this time the vinous tale seems to be true, the wine was superb. Inky, bursting with dark fruits, plum, raspberry, well integrated oak and a lengthy finish, totally the bees-knees with a hearty meat dish on a wet and windy evening.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Friday Smirk++

No need for cyborgs, all parents of teenage boys will recognise this..


Went for my regular constitutional walk at lunchtime today, boy was it windy, I had to firmly grasp my umbrella with both hands and physically wrestle with it as the wind constantly shifted direction, sometimes trying to rip it out of my hands and the next moment trying to push it into my face. I got about half way around my normal route and the bloody thing snapped, a catastrophic failure in engineering speak. To be honest though I wasn't too upset, other than sitting at my desk right now with damp trousers, the umbrella was a freebie "hotel" one that I found one evening on a commuter train. I'm actually more surprised it lasted the years that it did.

Friday Smirk

Excellent J&M (as usual) - pointing out the baloney that underpins the concept of an "inerrant holy book", everything in the world makes perfect sense if you accept that ALL books were authored by men, for men and from only the minds of men! (apart from the ones authored by Women of course)

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Hollywood chimps with shoes..

Listening to radio 4 this morning on the drive to work and hearing about the distressing story of a nun that had been raped and abused by a Catholic priest. I suspect this is just the latest (Earthly) revelation  to emerge from that pitiful organisation and it will grow in volume over the coming months and no doubt we'll learn that the "problem" is systemic and has been known about for decades. Listening to the Women herself relay her story filled me with sorrow, for years she'd "accepted" her lot whilst under the spell of that cult, she'd convinced herself that "God" must have wanted her to be raped. This idea that the universe revolves around an individual or a particular "in-group" is central to many religions, "the chosen people" is often how you hear it expressed and anything bad that happens is dismissed as "mysterious ways". From the outside it looks and sounds very much like a mental illness.

You often see this same idea expressed in utterly trivial and asinine ways, for example as some deity being accredited with the winning of a particular sports team (see above) I often wonder what state of mind you must be in if you actually believe the creator of a universe of 100 billion galaxies each with a 100 billion stars most with planets orbiting them is concerned with the outcome of your particular amateur football league. If true, what would it say about that same deity's concern for starving children, can she not also fix that too? All of these behaviors, desires, randomness and evil actions are quite easily explained by evolution of course, after all, we're only half a chromosome removed from Chimpanzees all these base-hormonal urges (like lust, greed and a desire for vengeance) aren't buried that deep in any of us, just witness the confessions of a certain Hollywood star recently!

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Mid-week mirth

New word for 2019 perhaps?

The "Big 5"

What are the top five unanswered philosophical questions?

Here are five that I think represent the "Big 5" from a non-philosopher's point of view..

1. Do we have free-will?

Our religious brothers and sisters would like to argue that we do have it (it certainly feels that way to us), in fact free-will is they only way they can rationalize the problem of evil. But, neuro-scientists are leaning toward the idea that we don't have it, the fMRI brain scans seem to suggest that we decide to do things before we're aware of the decision, i.e. free-will is an illusion created by that fuzzy thing called consciousness. In bets between the laws of physics and the wishes of men, I always tend toward the former.

2. Can we know anything?

If we only ever "know" things through our 5 senses, directly and indirectly, and it's accepted that these can easily be fooled then can we ever really "know" anything? Once again science, particularly quantum-mechanics provides a possible solution to this conundrum, strictly speaking the answer is no, but we can know things to such a high degree of probability that we might as well say we do. Some people are happy with that, some are not.

3. Who am I?

This one is all about the relationship between mind and body, what are "ideas" made of? Is it reasonable to hold a dualistic view, i.e. that the mind is somehow separate from the body or is "self" simply the assemblage of all our squishy bits and pieces. It's certainly true that if you damage the brain (i.e. the body) then the mind is also affected, for me that's enough to suggest they are the same thing but for others the ideal of a "spirit" or "soul" is too hard to let go of because it "feels" like duality is true, then again our sense of intuition is almost always wrong.

4. What is death?

We all die and we all know it (deep down!), but is it possible to cheat death? This age old Human concern (and the avoidance of it) is the basis of many religions and cults but could it really be possible? I think the answer probably lies more within the scientific realm than the theological one. I doubt that we'll understand how to make cells reproduce successfully for ever, it seems as though errors and flaws in the replication systems will always show through in the end (as cancer) but there maybe a more tantalizing possibility in information technology. If you could record the state of every living cell in your body at a point in time (and re-constitute it later) would that be the same as creating a snapshot of you, are we just stateful information at the end of the day?

5. Is there such a thing as "global justice"?

Is morality subjective or objective? Are there things which are good or bad universally no matter  what the situation. It seems difficult to make such sweeping judgments without a suitable yardstick to measure against. Sometimes killing someone might be the best thing to do (i.e. Hitler) even though technically we'd probably all agree that murder is wrong. Sometimes people die prolonged and unnecessarily painful deaths because our society has rules that say doctors cannot help people kill themselves, even though they may wish it. It seems that, for now, ethics remain subjective and dependent on Human beings to develop them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Most parents..

Pretty sure most parents can relate to this.. apart from the ones raising sociopaths of course..

Weather vs. Climate

The recent cold snap in the USA put me in mind of this cartoon, I can just imagine some of those good'ol boys getting confused between the concepts of weather and climate, just like their commander in chief does.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Apple watch flaw

I think I discovered a flaw in the Apple Watch exercise application today. I usually go for a brisk walk around lunchtime most days and if I walk around 3-4 km then that's enough to close the green (workout) ring on my watch. Today however we walked into town and back (around 4 km) and this is normally more than enough to complete the ring, today however it only got 30% of the way around. I think the problem was the snow. Not the cold, but the effect snowy pavements had on my walking pace. Because I was treading carefully to avoid falling on my butt the watch wasn't registering the movement properly and subsequently after walking for around 45 minutes it only registered 15 minutes of exercise. Annoyingly, we probably burned even more calories than usual, having to pick our way across very treacherous black-ice and constantly twisting and flexing to avoid falling, having to do an extra workout this evening to make up for lost ground, it's amusing, we're complete slaves to these bloody rings :)

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Competition beer?

Enjoying a nice home-brew this evening, a pale ale made with Citra hops (and lots of them), a neutral yeast and primarily pale malts. It's turned out good, nice carbonation, clean, refreshing, slightly bitter with a nice lingering citrus/orange finish and around 5% ABV so a decent body. If I were going to enter any of my beers into a brewing competition it would probably be this one (at the moment). 


I'm so glad that someone in the UK has at last been prosecuted for mutilating the genitals of a young girl. In this case the criminal was the girls own mother, which makes it even more upsetting. It is not known how many young girls have had their genitals mutilated in the UK but we do know the figure is at least many thousands per year judging from the number of cases referred to the NHS. This barbaric custom us usually done in the name of Religion and/or superstition or cultural indoctrination, there are no medical or functional reasons for doing it and if you read the stories of Women who have had this procedure done to them, it is simply inhumane and fraught with the risk of infections and permanent disfigurement. For many years now the police authorities have chosen to tread a path of "cultural sensitivity" around this subject, preferring (it seems) to avoid prosecution. I don't know why this is so but can guess that it's something to do with a misguided sense of not wanting to be seen to be racist or discriminatory toward particular cultures. In my view this relativist approach is flawed, it causes much unnecessary suffering and simply perpetuates ignorant and dangerous ancient practices that need to die off. There is nothing special in the universe about cultural practices or religions, they are just ideas in minds of people and like any other idea, sometimes they're brilliant and tranformative and sometimes they're just crap.

Friday Smirk

Happy Weekend!