Tuesday, December 31, 2019

See you next year!


Thank goodness for that, 2019 is almost over, I don't want another year like that anytime soon! Too many lows and hardly any highs, crappy (in the UK) weather, flat economics and crappy politics into the bargain. Thought I'd round off the year with a cartoon from my all-time favourite cartoonist, Gary Larson, not sure what it's got to do with anything I just liked it, so there we are, all the best for 2020 see you next year!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Made it!


Made it, peak calories survived!... Had a nice day with my family yesterday, we got up late (kids are both teenagers now - hurrah!) did some present unwrapping, had lunch, went for a long (10 kilometers) walk, got home (all glowing) and opened a bottle of nice warming red wine and settled in for Gavin & Stacey followed by a marathon of trivial pursuits, peanuts and chocolates. Happy and contemplative now, thinking about the people we loved and lost these last couple of years and those just starting out on their journey, the circle of life (without the hyena) It's been a fascinating decade, my feeling is that we're ending it with much less optimism than we started it with, however as this little infographic suggests many things out there in the real world are a lot better for millions of people so perhaps (I hope) I'm wrong about that! We've got 10 for lunch in a couple of hours, so I can't contemplate for too long, those turkey curries won't make themselves!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Count down


Finishing off one or two bits and pieces in the office this morning, watching the rain through the window (and hoping it will pass by this afternoon). All quiet here today, most people decided to take the day off so at least the car park was nice and empty for a change. I'm thinking of shutting things down and kicking everyone out at midday, no point in dragging things out any longer I can sense that people haven't got much to do (judging by the games being played and the noise being generated!) Anyway, here we all are again, another year another mince pie, both sit uncomfortably on the waist as time goes by, hopefully the calorie-fest this year will be one of quality over quantity (doubtful), all the best and see you on the other side!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Cheap land?


Premier Inn's discovering why that land they bought next to the river Loddon was so cheap...

Solstice


Well, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere we passed the mid-Winter point (longest night & shortest day) over the weekend and from now on things will only get better (wasn't there a song about that?) anyway, looking forward to longer days and shorter nights from now on, just need to evolve some webbed hands and feet to deal with all this rain water, and we'll be set.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Electric boats

.

Tesla charging points near where I live are now only available for electric boats!

Scholars


The excellent J&M pointing out the futility of trying to get the to the truth through theology, or as I call it "the study of the unknowable". For non-believers the practice of religious "scholarship" is simply literature review, psychology, history, anthropology and politics rolled into one but without the discipline and objectivity of any of them, I guess it could be fun if you don't take it too literally. As for professional religious scholars themselves, as the old saying goes, "it's difficult to get a man to understand something when his livelihood depends upon his not understanding it", although you could apply that to many endeavors these days (I'm looking at you climate-change deniers and anti-vaxxers)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Smirk


Jesus warning his mates he expects none of that "combined birthday and Christmas" present crap..

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Basically theocratic


I posted on this subject a little while ago, it's the thorny issue of biological sex and whether or not it exists. Now, like most things it depends on your definition, if you are a grown up and educated you will probably reach for the Biological (i.e. scientific) definition since that's the one that has been held to the highest standard of critical thinking and evidence. When you look at the science (and understand it) then to say that "it exists and people cannot change their biological sex" is simply stating a fact. However, as most of us realise, our society and certain elements in it don't much care for science and all of its "theories" and "evidence" and wot-not, they prefer to go with things like "gut-feel", "authority" and "feelings" to determine what's true. The beauty of everything being subjective, and objective reality not existing of course is that then we can all bend and flex our views of that reality to suit our preconceived opinions, dogmas or political agendas.

Maya Forstater, a tax expert, was fired from her job recently (via a tribunal) for questioning (via a few tweets) the Government's plans to allow people to declare their own gender. The judge in her case deemed her view to be "not worthy of respect in a democratic society" which seems to be like robbing Peter to pay Paul? Anyway, in Forstater's view a man identifying as a woman, for example a trans-woman, should not be able to describe themselves as a women. Her reasoning for this was that it permitted (biological) males to violate female only spaces (such as changing rooms etc.) and as such is illiberal. I think this is a subject worth discussing and debating more, and certainly not something anyone should lose their job over. Many people seem to be agreeing with her, Author J.K. Rowling took Maya's side and tweeted on the subject which caused the internet to melt, what she said was as follows,

Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. 
Live your best life in peace and security. 
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

I must say that I agree with her on this, nobody should be harassed or discriminated against for their gender expression. However, trans-women are not women, they are at some stage of transition certainly, but will never be biologically women, and that's fine! But, being forced to pretend that sex doesn't exist is basically theocratic!

Bumper beer year


2019 was a really busy year for my local (and favourite) brewery Siren, the picture above shows all of the beers they've brewed up this year, over 90 different ones. The standard beers (on the left hand side) are brewed more frequently than those on the right but they must be kicking out 4 or 5 batches per week. An amazing throughput for such a small facility (it's only a couple of small units in a small industrial estate) The rumor is that they're expanding production next year, if the quality of this year's output is anything to go by that's great news!

If you can't stand the heat..


So the news from Australia is that the hottest average (Summer) maximum temperature record has been broken, again. Previously the record (in 2013) was 40.3 centigrade, but this was broken on Tuesday with a new high of 40.9. Yesterday saw that smashed and a new high of 41.9 centigrade (107 F) was reached, a whole degree higher which is pretty unusual for an average value. This is doubly worrying since Australia is already in the grip of a bush fire epidemic, these average temperatures will only make that situation there worse. What with all the ever mounting evidence for climate-change and the lack of progress shown on the international stage you have to conclude that our species has a fundamental flaw, I call it our "delusion gene", comforting answers to uncomfortable questions are irresistible to us..

Tim Minchin sums things up in the picture he posted on his Twitter feed today..

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

White van privilege


Popped out this afternoon for an hour to go pick up some Christmas bits and bobs at around 2:30 pm. I figured that the roads would be slightly quieter after the lunch-hour rush. Wrong, and utterly terrifying. The roads seemed to be full of white-vans* rushing around with no clue where they were going, I was nearly side swiped twice as vans aggressively cut corners because they didn't know the road and their speed was too high. I guess it's the culmination of our high-streets dying off and online shopping taking over, all those Amazon boxes need to be delivered by someone, and this time of year those someone's are mostly temporary staff less skilled in the art of knowing where the hell they're going and considerate parking. 

I'm thinking that I'm only venturing out now via train or after 6pm when all the white-vans migrate to where ever vans go to sleep (I'm imagining a huge car park, hidden in the woods somewhere, full of empty white-vans parked up for the night). Christmas works better sans-car and after dark anyway, it's the fairy lights that do it, and there's always the mulled wine to provide a quick warmth boost when needed.

*I'm not saying that it's just white vans that are the problem, other coloured vans are equally as bad...

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Curbar chills


Love this photo, taken today (not by me), of the Sun over Curbar Edge in the Peak District, Derbyshire. As you can see there's a cloud inversion going on, must be quite chilly! I used to go climbing here many years ago, when I was in my 20's  I usually went for long weekends with good friends at the time (a couple of whom are dead now) and that whole area holds a special meaning for me I really must take a trip back up there sometime, maybe visit a few of our old watering holes, ideally in the Summer though!

Tuesday Titter


An old one, sure, but still worthy of a tiny titter...

Monday, December 16, 2019

Richard rant


There's been a gradual transformation of litter in and around towns in the last decade or so, we've gone from having  to avoid dog turds on the pavement to having to avoid little plastic bags full of dog turds instead! I can't say that the addition of non-biodegradable plastic to this equation has improved the situation much in my humble view, maybe we should bar-code the bags somehow so that they can be returned to their owners as soon as possible?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

#Hitch


Eight years ago today Hitch died, he was in Houston, Texas where he was being treated for cancer. With everything that's happened in politics since then I do sometimes wonder what he would have written and said about it all? I bet it would have been beautifully barbed.

The physics of wisdom..


Came across these little pearls of wisdom from the late Richard Feynman while reading about him in a biography I picked up recently, smart guy.

1. See failure as a beginning.
2. Never stop learning.
3. Assume nothing, question everything.
4. Teach others what you know.
5. Analyze objectively.
6. Practice humility.
7. Respect constructive criticism.
8. Take initiative.
9. Give credit where it's due.
10. Love what you do.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Smirk II


This resonates, personally I blame the "AI", no sense of humour..

Results


So here we are, the results are in, since this is a day for analysis, here's mine..

Jo Swinson: I guess you learned last night that Parliamentary seats, like sex, are binary.
Jeremy Corbin: I guess you learned that to change things you have to win.
Boris Johnson: I guess you learned that playing the crowd and lying pays-off these days.
Nigel Farage: I guess you learned nothing at all, I hope we never hear from you ever again.
Nicola Sturgeon: I guess you learned nationalism is a vote winner, performance, not so much..
Lord Buckethead: Nice helmet.
Arlene Foster: I guess you learned that your days are numbered
Mary Lou McDonald: I guess you learned that the long game might just eventually pay-off
Gerard Batten: You can just fuck right off.

As one commentator put it, "this isn't the worse that could have happened, that is yet to come" I dearly hope she is wrong but I fear probability isn't on my side.


Friday Smirk


J&M reminding me of the old saying, "people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks", many religious people get confused between them causing offence and them receiving offence; strange thing that, you would have thought it fairly easy to distinguish between the two.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Critical thinking


Seems appropriate for a day like today. The problem for Georges' argument is what happens when lots of people treat belief and knowledge as the same thing and they choose to believe a politician is worthy when in actual fact they are corrupt? A deficit of critical thinking skills rather than morality.

Camb-Ridge


I had to wait for my Son to do his last interview at St. Johns Collage in Cambridge on Tuesday, so with an roughly an hour to kill I sought out the Cambridge Wine Merchants on Bridge St. It was a great little spot with a view of St. Johns in the background, I treated myself to a glass of Ridge Estate Cabernet, a Californian wine I've had before but always a treat. Blackcurrant for days and so well balanced, I really must try to secure a few bottles of this from somewhere!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Craft Beers of 2019


2019 has been a great year for trying new beers for me, I've been mixing it up in style, and have been trying everything from sour beers to fruit beers through Belgian beers, IPA's, lagers, DIPA's and even some BIPA's. I was lucky enough to attend a couple of different (local) festivals, the notable stand-out of which was "Craft Beer South" down in Southampton in October. The year isn't quite done yet but I feel confident enough to release my top 20 beers of the year, and here they are...

1 - Leyana by Vibrant Forest (New Forest, Hampshire) A 4.5% hoppy pale ale featuring Citra and Summit hops. A delightful beer, had this at Craft Beer South in October, a real stand-out for everyone, hopefully visiting the brewery in the new year.

2 - Summer Ale by DEYA (Cheltenham) A 4.5% pale IPA made with Galaxy and Vic Secret hops (Australian) Drunk at the Siren Barista festival back in April, blew everyone away at the time.

3 - Rock, Paper, Scissors by Siren (Berkshire) and Northern Monk (Leeds) An absolute beauty, hiding it's 8.5% ABV dangerously well. Layers of flavour in this one, a real fruit-bomb of a beer.

4 - Citra Mosaic IPA by Polly's Brew Co. (Wales) Had just a quick half of this in the Fox & Hounds in Caversham one evening, it was stunning!

5 - PUPA by Vibrant Forest (New Forest, Hampshire) Another Vibrant beer, this time a 4.5% pale with more flavour than you can shake a stick at, excellent.

6 - Thousand Things IPA, 5.5% IPA made by Siren (Berkshire) especially for the Tate Van Gogh exhibition, flavoured with Cypress wood, wonderful combination (great label design too)

7 - Oats on Oats, Another Siren IPA a hazy one this time made in conjunction with Kings and Daughters an American brewery. Interesting combo of Nelson, Citra, Mandarina and Hallertau hops a thick gloopy haze-bomb of a beer, delightful combination of flavours.

8 - Into the Haze, from DEYA (Cheltenham) One of the standard DEYA beers, it's a classic NEIPA (New England IPA) and one of the UK's best IMO

9 - Running with Scepters, a lager from Lost and Grounded (Bristol), flavoured with American hops and absolutely delicious, if you see some buy it immediately!

10 - Farmhouse, a collaboration between BBNo (London) and Finback (New York) Brewed for the Skyline project, by far the stand-out beer of that 6 beer series.

11 - Headband, classic Verdant (Falmouth) NEIPA drunk at source in Falmouth; wonderful

12 - Socks & Sandals, a collaboration between Siren (Berkshire) and Humble Sea (USA) a murky 6.6% IPA featuring Citra, Centennial and Simcoe hops. Had this at the Siren investors party, you could say I was in from the first sip!

13 - Corbel, made by Eight Arch down in Dorset this light 5.5% IPA uses just Mosaic hops but the flavour was fabulous, drunk at Craft Beer South.

14 - Medjuica, Siren (Berkshire) A classic session IPA from Siren, could drink this all day and not get tired of it, excellent from cans.

15 - In the Belly of a Shark, Another Siren beer, this time an unusual black-IPA, very pine forward flavour, worth seeking out. Quite pokey at 6.5% so take care!

16 - Light-bulb, Verdant (Falmouth) Another banger. 4.5% Totally hazy, light in colour but so much flavour, top beer.

17 - Sabrage, Siren really topped themselves with this one, unusually dry style, lemon sherbert flavours in this pale 6% IPA, hope they brew it again soon!

18 - Small Pale from Cloudwater (Manchester) Low alcohol beer 2.9% but not as you know it, I'd happily drink this all night long, flavour in spades, reminds me of some of their 8%+ DIPA's

19 - Saratoga Springs, a 5.8% Cascadian ale, dark ruby colour and wonderful hop combo from Pressure Drop (London). Drunk from can, hopefully will see again some time.

20 - Striding Edge, Northern Monk (Leeds) A supermarket beer but a pretty good one, low in alcohol 2.8% but not flavour, try it!

A game of two halves

Image result for jo swinson

Jo Swinson, the leader of the Lib Dems did an interview recently where she said that sex wasn't binary, i.e. that there are more than two sexes (male and female) This is a scientific claim and unfortunately for her it's nonsense. Whilst we can all see that she was attempting to nurture popularity with LGBT voters, it would probably be better for all of  us if politicians stuck to established science rather than going "off-piste" just so they can sound "woke". I realise that politicians seldom factor in small details like scientific accuracy into their claims, but, I had hoped that there might be one or two who at least had some small degree of conscience around avoiding or correcting incorrect important claims like this. 

For clarity here's the actual scientific definition of "sex" and the reason why there can only be two (see image below)


Logic, reason and experience would seem to suggest that people need to be free to express their sexuality however they wish (under the law) but for the record they can't actually choose their own sex.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Cambridge bridge bridged


My Son traversing the bridge of sighs in St. Johns College Cambridge. We visited today as he had an interview for a possible place there. Afterwards he said it was the hardest (intellectual) thing he'd ever done, sounded like a really tough set of questions/topics for a youngster to tackle, but then again, I guess that's what it's supposed to be like? Anyway, I'm very proud of him getting this far regardless of the outcome, he's a smart kid..

Monday, December 09, 2019

Seasonal walk-outs..


This little cartoon seems totally appropriate for what's going on with my local train service at the moment. SWT (Southwest Trains) are currently on strike for the whole month of December! Now, sometimes labour disputes are reasonable but in my estimation the union in this case seems to have lost all sense of proportionality? The only thing this current dispute seems to be achieving is the hastening of the end of this franchise and previously unattained levels of public resentment for old-school industrial action.

Health and safety


Some things require Human brains to exist and, in life, it's usually wise to rely on a rule of thumb that states, it's best not to count on such things when dealing with matters of health and safety. 

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Incentives


Brewdog doing what Brewdog do best, edgy advertising; although it's not a totally mad way of getting some people out on Thursday.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

(anti) Sperm Donor


Spotted on social media, some Woman looking for a sperm donor! If you ask me this reads like the ultimate contraceptive, or as we used to say in the 80s, "a complete bunny boiler" ..

Dark Movie night


Watched a movie with the kids (not actually kids anymore) last night, IT 2, sequel to the popular supernatural-clown horror flick (based on a book by Stephen King) that was popular a couple of years ago. The movie was awful but the beer I had to accompany it was stellar. An IPA (usually IPA's are pale) made with dark malts and therefore black-ish, ergo a black IPA or BIPA as they're known. Made with a mix of American and Antipodean hops it was singing, pine resin and tropical fruits with a light toasty background, perfect Winter warmer!

Belief and evidence


Latest Jesus and Mo cartoon illustrating the uncomfortable truism that there's always a "bigger fish". I find it interesting that many people simply can't cope with the idea that the number of people who believe something (in itself) says nothing about the validity of the claim, it's only evidence that counts. When you have evidence for something you don't need belief, it's a simple equation, belief is never evidence but evidence (or lack of) should encourage belief, this isn't a new idea of course, philosophers figured it out centuries ago the rest of us are just catching up..

Friday, December 06, 2019

Ruddy Vintners


Spent a great evening up in the City yesterday entertaining around 100 of our (my software company) best clients. My gift to them was to personally host a wine-tasting, we all partook of a little wine quiz with the winner picking up a decent magnum of fizz. The venue was fantastic, Vintners Hall on Upper Thames St. home to The Worshipful Company of Vintners and incorporated by royal charter in 1363, a highly appropriate setting for an evening of vinous delights. After dinner we invited Amber Rudd to speak to us (for money of course) she was very impressive giving us an insiders view to the current state of play in the election and interesting opinion on the leading players. I left thinking it's a shame she's not still being a "grown-up" voice of reason at the centre of things any more. Anyway, the tasting was a success, people seemed to leave a lot merrier than when they arrived which is always a good sign, and I had a mixed case of 12 left over, yum!, roll on Christmas holidays and New Year!

Armenian Drum'n'Bass


Amusing description of a Brewdog beer spotted in a supermarket... 

Trains and house prices


Things are starting to get interesting on the commuting to London front for people around these parts (Berkshire) - The latest tube map shows Reading as the end of the Elizabeth line and TfL takes over running local services from there into Paddington from December the 12th (new trains yay!). Once the underground portions of the line are completed it should be possible for me to get to Bond Street in around 50 minutes, amazing, I bet house prices around here will jump upward even more on that basis! 

Friday Smirk


Saw this photo and couldn't help trying to come up with a caption - "Run forest, run"?...

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Anti-vaxxers


Some deluded anti-vaxxer posted this on Twitter recently, the responses that it got are hilarious, see below...

"You think Anti-Vaxxer is inflammatory? Wait until you try Measles!"

"OK, how about pro-plague?"

"Instead of using anti-vaxxer I'll instead use nutcase"

Out: “Anti-vaxxer” / In: “Vaccine benefit denier and super duper risk exaggerator/maker-upper”

"No"

"I think anti vaxxer is pretty respectful given what I’d like to call them."

"You're right. Anti-vaxxer is a bit buzz wordy.  I'll call you what you really are, a Bio-terrorist"

"How about, pro-lime-pits full of dead babies"?

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Prisoner of the zeitgeist


I find it amazing that such a brazen act of public deception has entered our collective consciousness to such an extent that politically correct corporations feel that it's perfectly fine to leverage that deception to sell burgers and onion-rings. Such is the state of the zeitgeist we seem to find ourselves currently held prisoner by.

Not a scooby


Is there anything more stressful than trying to find a present for that special person in your life when you don't have a scooby do what they want and more critically they only have some vague idea too!

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Hitchens Razor


It's amazing how much less crap you end up wasting your life debating with people when you apply this simple rule the only problem is the "definition" of evidence. For some people it's a pretty low bar, kittens therefore God etc..

Monday, December 02, 2019

Sunday, December 01, 2019

New superheros


Forget Spiderman, these guys are the new superheros..

Sunday Sermon


J&M pointing out a well known religious phenomenon, that is, the best way to make Atheists is to get people to actually read their holy books. (spoiler alert, they don't make a whole lot of sense a whole lot of the time)