Saturday, August 31, 2019

Little pricks

Came across this interesting picture on the inter-webs today - it's taken with an electron-microscope and is human skin after an injection. I always thought my fear of needles was perfectly reasonable!

Friday Smirk

J&M pointing out the rather obvious contradictions in the ways that people justify sexism and misogyny and it's cultural accouterments in various places around the world. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thought for Thursday

Might as well get down with the new zeitgeist.. 

Thanks and goodnight..

This photo beautifully represents the new position of Britain on the world stage, the current state of our country and its politics breaks my heart. For all open-minded, optimistic, forward-looking patriots (as opposed to selfish, delusional, frightened, solipsistic gammon's) this picture feels like looking into the future, and it doesn't look pretty! Sure, no one knows exactly what will happen but most intelligent people should be able to estimate outcomes based on prior-experience and (actual) data. However, unfortunately, like the most literalist of religious believers all the Brexiters I've ever listened to seem to rest their views on delusion, wish-thinking and negative emotion or they're adherents to the Sex Pistols school of economics, i.e. "cash from chaos"!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Undemocratic voting

I happened to catch Andrea Leadsom on the news last night calling members of parliament who are organizing themselves in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit undemocratic. I nearly spat my cup of tea out all over the carpet! What utter hogwash, how on earth did such a dim politician get into the cabinet of the United Kingdom? I guess it's the age we live in; apparently you don't need to understand the finer details, or even the less finer details of the system of government that you are supposed to represent in order to be a leading member of it. For me this is akin to a player in the premier league not understanding the offside rule! Leadsom is either terminally dim or simply acting in a cynical and sinister way by attempting to change the definition of terms like "democracy" on the fly to suit her own narrative, it's "blasphemy" in disguise, don't agree? Then you're a traitor!

We've been here before with her, back in February in an astonishing statement she claimed that democracy was not about trying again until you get the result you want in reference to the possibility of holding a second referendum. If this were true then a couple of toffs would have had one vote at the first session of the first ever Parliament back in the 13th century and we'd all still be digging up their fields for 18 hours a day and receiving a turnip for our troubles. Surely this is the whole point of democracy, it's a process of continual change that never ends, this is the whole point of it and why it's vastly superior to a system governed by dictatorial or religious dogma that can never change.

We hear today that Boris wants Parliament suspended in September. In what seems to be a clear attempt to prevent MP's having time to organize opposition to a no-deal we are pretty close to having an unelected charlatan leading a party that will cause incalculable financial and cultural damage to the country whilst benefiting a tiny minority of billionaires wagering against a rational outcome and wishing to conceal their ill-gotten gains offshore sans-tax. This my friends, is most definitely not democracy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tuesday Titter

Some people are just hopelessly addicted to conspiracy...


When it comes to defining requirements for a new piece of software I find that everyone (even people who aren't involved in the business) have unique and insightful perspectives on what is "really" required (or so they always claim) my method for capturing, prioritizing and disambiguating said offerings is to ask for requirements to be written down, in long form, with diagrams. This request is often followed by extended periods of tumbleweed, which helps get to the crux of things enormously..

Monday, August 26, 2019

An embarrassment of Sunshine..

A sunny bank holiday weekend in the UK, must be a sign of the impending apocalypse! What with the cricket yesterday there's certainly a whiff of nervous energy in the air. We went to our local town festival yesterday, our little field in Berkshire was like sitting on a beach in the Med! The Sun was so hot that we ended up seeking refuge in the shade next to a tent rather than sit in the open. It's strange that we've lived in the same town for over 25 years but have never attended this annual event (and we can easily walk to it!) Anyway a good time was had by all, we even got our teenagers up dancing which was a bit like spotting big-foot in Waitrose, and obviously a huge embarrassment for them! Not dancing of course, but dancing with their parents. Fortunately it was dark at this stage and the field was large so they could easily pretend we were nothing to do with them.. :)

Saturday, August 24, 2019


Fascinating animated chart showing the fortunes of leading brands since 2000.

How low can you go?

Tried a new beer last night, it's by Northern Monk (based in Leeds) and is called "Striding Edge". It's one of the new wave of low alcohol beers that actually taste nice, this one is the best yet. A hazy, fruity India pale ale (IPA) that's totally refreshing with incredible body for a 2.8% beer. I found this one in Waitrose if you see it try it, in fact if you see any of the Northern Monk beers grab them, they're a brewery that's really on form at the moment.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Definition of insanity

What with the hairpiece in chief wanting to "buy" Greenland in order to exploit it's carbon and mineral resources and now the money grabbing leader of Brazil (Bolsonaro) laying waste to vast tracts of rain-forest so that his cronies can fill them with cows to feed already obese Americans with even more burgers, it's a shame the Amazon rain-forest isn't a Cathedral, maybe then a few more people would pay attention! We really do need to take a close look at our attitudes and the way we're treating our planet, with July being the hottest month on record, ever, this really isn't good news!

I do seriously fear for the well-being of our children. Our family will be taking even more action in the coming months/years to seriously reduce our carbon footprint, more walking, more trains, less cars, less plastic, more insulation, independent power generation and additional recycling are all on the cards, things are getting serious.

Friday Smirk

J&M pointing out that never in any field of human endeavor has a single religious claim ever successfully debunked a (properly peer reviewed) scientific one, it's always the other way around. You never hear the sentence "all these years those scientists were wrong, it's like the Bible said all along, whales are indeed fish...". The apologists out there of course bleat that religion doesn't make the same kinds of claims that science does and "interpretation" is required, unfortunately for them you don't need to look far to find claims in scripture that are clearly either right or they are wrong, either bats are birds or they are not (Leviticus 11:13-19), either Jesus knew about seeds or he didn't (Matthew 13:32:1) nothing allegorical about it..

Thursday, August 22, 2019


It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that we're insignificant on the scale of the universe. As if to rub it in we're told that there's a billion billion stars in our own galaxy and a billion billion galaxies in our universe, each one harboring trillions of planets. Then again from a different perspective, here's a chart showing where all the various elements come from. When you consider that every atom, of the otherwise quite rare element Phosphorus that sit inside every DNA molecule of every cell in your body is essential in defining every aspect of your existence and ONLY came from the heart of an exploding star, it's quite a neat thought.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cascadian Ale

New beer tried at the weekend. It's something labelled as "Cascadian Dark Ale" and I believe the recipe idea hails from the Pacific Northwest of the USA where Simcoe hops have long been used to impart piney, resinous flavours into pale-ales. The difference here is that the beer has been made dark using roasted malts rather than the pale malts used in paler ales, these dark malts also impart chocolate, plum and coffee flavours which actually marry with the Simcoe very well. This beer was made by Verdant down in Falmouth, Cornwall in collaboration with Buxton Brewery in Derbyshire and is one of the cans that I bought back from my holiday. I'm wishing I had more boot space now.. should have packed one of the kids off back home on the train...

Machine Learning

Best (simple) explanation I've found so far for Machine Learning systems (or what most mainstream media outlets label as "AI" or artificial intelligence) The important point about this is that in order to build a good system you need to have a bunch of questions (or data) to which you have a bunch of correct answers with which to train or "build" a set of rules with. This is the thing that most management types have no clue about, they usually think that you can simply pick a problem and set the computer off solving it, at which point I usually point out that if that were true the national lottery would be a bit boring. As usual in this life there's no such thing as a free lunch..

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Metaphorical brick walls...

J&M on the money as usual. How some people can call this a "Christian country" these days is a complete fallacy, some people sure like to beat their heads against the metaphorical brick wall of faith based reasoning.

The dark side

I've noticed that the number of virus bearing spam emails has been increasing alarmingly lately, it really is a minefield for the unwary in cyber-space these days. In my company we regularly test the resilience of our own people by sending out mails that attempt to entice them into clicking on spurious links that then simulate some kind of phishing attack, interestingly, no matter how much training we do, when we send mails to 50 people we're guaranteed to get at least three that fall for it! Maybe I should think about a change of career over to the dark side?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Mirth

Funniest thing I read all day...

Fear, ignorance and obstinacy

Everyone should read what Roald Dahl wrote in 1986 (click this link to see a longer version) on the death of his daughter Olivia from measles in 1962 (the year of my birth). It's a salutary reminder that children need to be vaccinated against this highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. People who don't do it without good reason are irresponsible and are allowing their own fear, ignorance or sheer obstinacy to put the lives of their children and their fellow travelers on life's journey at risk of reaching an early and unnecessary terminus.


Back to work today after a week off in Cornwall, hitting the mid-morning energy low as my body is expecting some sea-air and a cream-tea but isn't getting either. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Beery fun in Kernow

Spent a stellar week with the family in Falmouth, Cornwall got back Friday afternoon. We stayed in a town-centre AirBnB which was a bit quirky but in a brilliant location being only a 5 minute stroll from the high-street. On a random note, whilst strolling along said high-street I noticed the above plaque on one of the buildings, it commemorates the landing of Charles Darwin in the town at the end of his pivotal voyage on the Beagle in 1836, an interesting detail. One of the other attractions of Falmouth as a place to stay (for me) is the craft beer scene. 

Ever since star brewers Verdant set up their brewery in the town several craft beer bars and restaurants featuring their products have sprung up attracting fans from far and wide, Verdant themselves even have a tap-room slash tapas bar in the town centre which is excellent. Falmouth was also a good place to be based for day trips out to various Cornish attractions, like St. Ives, Padstow, Port Isaac and beauty spots along the coast such as Harlyn Bay (see below) where the kids did some surfing while the adults popped over to nearby Padstow for some lunch! We certainly made the most of what was a fairly rainy week. 

Another beer related discovery was the Padstow Brewing Company who have a tasting room in Padstow town centre, not a bad selection of ales, I sampled a few of their core beers and grabbed a couple of more exotic cans to bring home to share with friends.

All in all a fun and relaxing seven days, not looking forward to work next week though.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Friday Smirk

Excellent J&M up today. The Dunning-Kruger effect seems to be the leading philosophy for politicians, religious apologists of all stripes and newspaper reporters these days, in fact, historians may look back at this time and call it the "Dunning-Kruger age"..

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Fear and Wonder

Popped over to Bracknell on Saturday and came face to face with this fella, a moving roaring T-Rex! It was highly amusing to watch the battle between fear and wonder on the little kids faces when it started to move, brilliant!

Small Pale

Tried a new beer at the weekend (see above) it's by Manchester maestros Cloudwater and is called "Small Pale" and its a revelation. 

Traditional wisdom is that to get bigger flavour and mouthfeel in a beer you need to create more alcohol in it by using bigger charges of fermentables (like barley) and possibly even ramping up the sugar by adding maltose or candy sugar so that the yeast has more food to convert into alcohol; we all know that the weaker the beer the more "watery" it tends to taste. Of course in days gone by low strength beer has been a perfectly respectable drink, back when workers liked to down a few pints at lunchtime and return for the afternoon shift in reasonable shape they tended toward the traditional session bitters at around 3-4% ABV but since the influx of continental lagers and more recently flavorsome American IPA styles, the ABV of beer has been steadily creeping upward. It's not unusual for a modern craft beer bar to not have anything on tap under 5% and sometimes even higher, the emphasis these days is most definitely on variety and the taste experience (half pint by half pint) and not getting blotto by drinking 8 pints of 6% lager on a Friday night.

Enter Cloudwater, who have a stellar reputation for BIG flavour double IPA style beers usually coming in at around 6-8%. This time they've created a low alcohol version of this big taste profile at a miserly 2.9% ABV. I wasn't expecting much from this beer but boy was I wrong! Blindfold I would have sworn blind that this was a 5-6% American IPA style beer, and a good one at that! Plenty of body and wonderful fruity/citrus flavours in a modern hazy, perfectly carbonated package, a brilliant beer and the best bit is you can session it with ease and not feel like you've slept in a tumble dryer the next morning, good effort Cloudwater!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


As many of us have realised over the years, and is also backed up by scientific studies, people with conservative oriented personalities prefer the status-quo whereas people with a more liberal disposition tend to embrace the new a little more readily. Studies have shown that liberals tend to make better entrepreneurs but aren't so good at running a steady-state business, for conservative types it tends to be the other way around, conservatives are generally better at being managers. The bottom line though is that to have a successful society you need both personality traits, you need people that defend the status-quo and who manage things in an orderly fashion, however, you also need people who are outward looking, seeking new ideas and trying new things, without this, a culture eventually withers and dies. Unfortunately the more mature we get as individuals and the more mature our culture becomes the conservative traits seem to dominate, it's particularly visible in the UK and the USA at the moment, we seem to be much more inward looking than ever before in my life-time. I do wonder if this has something to do with people living longer or if it's just one of those natural cycles that invisibly doom all empires, political systems, cultures and religions eventually to the scrap heap. Anyway regardless of the psychology, it's a worrying trend for us liberals, lets hope the next generation are able to address the imbalance somehow.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Monday Mirth

Saw this on the inter-webs the other day, made me smile, particularly the last two entries :)


One of the many little perks that we offer in my company is allow people to take their birthday day off, i.e. as paid holiday. It's a little gesture which seems to go down well with everyone and quite often people pop back into the office at lunchtime with cake and sweets to share with their colleagues anyway. Most of the time if you treat people like grown-ups they tend to behave like grown-ups, particularly when it involves a win-win, i.e. they get a day off, we all get cake!

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Seeking funding

I've got an idea for a new start-up, how about a WEB based scheduling platform so that American gun lovers can organize their mass shootings sensibly spread over the year (in order to maximize media exposure). We don't want another repeat of this last 24 hours do we, just a waste of TV coverage, we can't have our world-wide audience becoming de-sensitized to massacres of innocent Women and Children whilst they attend school or do their grocery shopping can we...

19th Hole

J&M commenting on recent moves at a UK church to drum up more business. The entertainments committee at Rochester Cathedral decided to install a 9-hole crazy golf course to attract more visitors. It's not clear if people will turn up for a religious experience or because they saw it on the telly, what we can be pretty sure about is that most 8 year olds won't experience a miraculous conversion moment as they tee off into the mouth of a cardboard crocodile. I can't help be cynical about this, stripping away the medieval architecture, pretty windows and "fun" based marketing, it's just another religious organisation trying to lure children into it's clutches with gimmicks! In other words a blatant attempt to target vulnerable (intellectually) segments of the community with a particular set of ideas and dogma in an attempt to extract resources from them, it should at least be taxed as such!

Friday, August 02, 2019

300 couture ?

Saw this, immediately thought of some recent splatter-movies I've seen, 300 for example..

Friday Smirk

Might smirk if we weren't such a bunch of masochists..

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Radio ga ga

Reading today that Zoe Ball has lost nearly 800,000 listeners from the Radio 2 breakfast show since taking over from Chris Evans in January. I can't say I'm surprised, our family always puts the radio on in the mornings whilst eating breakfast and getting ready for the day etc. We switched to Virgin (where Evans moved to) after about a week of listening to the new format, we tried to like it but unfortunately it just wasn't for us. I do wonder if the BBC has fallen foul of an over-reached desire to level the numbers in terms of male and female presenters? Perhaps, the liberal loveys that run the show at our state broadcaster have lost sight of the fact that whatever gender the presenter of that particular peak-time show is, they still have to have a certain star quality, and Zoe just doesn't have it IMO, she's a competent presenter but the whole "stream of consciousness" thing doesn't cut it for many people, including our family, we find it's like overhearing a couple of women having a chat on the bus, fairly mundane and seldom interesting from a third-party perspective. What Evans did much better was to rely on his "crew" of co-presenters and many more guests to break things up and keep a certain momentum and energy going. The radio 2 breakfast show is still very popular though, I'm sure they'll persevere with it and good luck to them, radio is still by far the best way to start the day.