Friday, January 31, 2020

53 Times

Apparently there's some political bollox going on later today, I've made my position on it clear over the last few years so at this point my only comment is to refer the jury to the cover of a rather interesting book by James Felton (recommended!) Which now needs to be revised...

Friday Smirk

J&M pointing out a very common theistic position, i.e. everything good that happens is "evidence" of their particular "God" and everything bad is either "Satan" or "mysterious", by any standard of logic this is defined as "confirmation bias" or in plain English "playing tennis without the net"...

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Stunned (not dead)..

Only programming nerds of a certain age will get this joke... (in tribute to Terry Jones who died last week) We'll be watching Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life tomorrow night and raising a glass to the great man..

Unexamined lives

From my many conversations over the years about religion, the existence (or otherwise) of any Gods and Theism etc. I find a common tactic being frequently used to shut down any possibility of proper illumination of many core beliefs. The strategy seems to be that as soon as an obvious absurdity or logical fallacy is pointed out "offence" is taken and the "hurt" card is played, i.e. "you mustn't hurt my feelings so stop making fun of my religion!" This, of course, is a classic diversion/sophistry tactic, not only is pointing out facts about a belief not "making fun" of anything (although the absurdities may indeed be funny!), but, there's a clear separation between the person holding a belief and the ideas contained within the belief itself. Otherwise, we'd never be able to discuss and resolve truth claims about anything (perhaps that's where we're headed?). Any conflation between ideas and people is dangerous since it bars the path to criticizing ideas, i.e. the bedrock of free-speech and free-society. This is an odd place to find ourselves, because people had this largely figured out 2,500 years ago, see below..

It's no wonder that, as a species, our political and ethical progress is so glacial, we should all "man-up" (sexist?) and grow thicker skins (any colour is fine), the critical art of the debate is being lost. As as wise man (Socrates) once said, "the unexamined life is not worth living" and I must say I agree with him!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Mid-Week Mirth

Errr, OK then, if you say so...

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Better red than dead

Popped over to the Siren Tapyard on Saturday afternoon to pick up a couple of cans to consume whilst cooking and eating dinner that evening (tagine style lamb with apricots and couscous - delish!) The first was a collaboration between Siren (Berkshire) and Northern Monk (Leeds) called Paper, Rock, Scissors (left) which was a DIPA or "double IPA" fully loaded with Citra, Chinook, Centennial, Azacca and Nelson Sauvin hops (a right old mix) At 8.5% ABV it's not a beer you could realistically drink more than one or two of (without falling over!) but after a long week at work this really hit the spot, flavour in spades, soft, fruity and so easy to drink. The second was a "red IPA" (right) made with darker malts and rye then flavoured with Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. A nice beer, malty/spicy flavours are prominent but the hops are also there in the background, I felt it could have taken more hops but I accept that I perhaps overrate exceptionally hoppy beers, maybe this one is more of a mainstream brew?

Deal of the century?

So, I reckon swapping Prince Andrew for Anne Sacoolas would be a total bargain (ethically-speaking), in fact in the spirit of the new post-Brexit trade free-for-all, I reckon we could stretch to a twofer and chuck Megan or Harry in as well! As the orange one would say, "This is the perfect deal of the Century, no question, true.."

Monday, January 27, 2020

News to me

I see the helicopter crash that killed American Basketball hero Kobe Bryant yesterday is all over the UK media today, messages from Presidents and celebrities to radio DJ's and TV presenters, it's seemingly the headline story of the moment. It's surprising that a sports person should generate such a level of interest outside of the only country that plays his sport seriously (i.e. the USA, who have won 15 out of 19 Olympic golds going back to 1936)

Like most people in Europe I suspect that professional basketball isn't high in our collective consciousness, but, having lived in the USA it's a really big deal over there, a big money game. Even so, I'd only heard of Kobe (fleetingly) because of the high profile 2003 rape case against him that was dropped under suspicious circumstances (allegedly settled later in a civil court for $2.5 million) and the $4 million diamond ring that he bought for his wife after it. Sounds like he had some skeletons in his trophy cabinet that, luckily for him, his obvious talents on the court were able to deal with. No doubt we'll get the inside scoop on all the news programs tonight, nothing like a good celebrity accident story to shift those ad-bearing gigabits..

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday smile

One for the math's geeks out there, shit just got real!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sex and Henry VIII

So, I came across this on the inter-webs the other day, it's a brilliant example of how religion attempts to insert itself into our intellectual and biological existences in order to boss people around and remain relevant. The CofE says that sex is for married heterosexual couples ONLY! For those of us who feel that our state religion has zero authority anymore I guess the simple answer is to ignore things like this, which most of us usually do! But, just for fun, let's unpack this statement for a moment and see what we think about the assertions contained within it.

- So, we're to follow the moral teachings on sex of a church founded by a medieval-monarch essentially because he wanted to shag more (fertile) foreign birds?

- I notice that the article states that the "Christian" definition of "Marriage" is a lifelong union between a man and a woman and it's only this relationship where sex is appropriate. Most "Christians" I know have been divorced (at least once) So, "lifelong" is a bit of a stretch and there's no definition of "man" and "woman". Since words (like "marriage") seem to be able to be defined willy-nilly by the church to suit their own preferences we wonder where this leaves trans people who do the same with the words like "man" and "woman", are we to think that the CofE is trans-phobic?

- Same-sex marriage is apparently verboten, but civil partnerships sans sex are OK.. If sex is the issue what about marriage without sex (I know a few like that) or marriage where either partner pays for sex with someone other than their partner (I know a few like that too) or even people who redefine the word "sex" to mean something entirely unconventional. The whole thing needs the application of Occam's razor if you ask me, hetero and homo-sexuality are forms of "love" as well as sex, if the CofE stuck to pronouncements and definitions on that subject instead of drifting into Biology it might get closer to the allegorical stuff talked about in it's books perhaps?

- I thought people were supposed to be created in the image of "God"? And I'm told that God creates us and is "perfect", so, how can LGBT people therefore be faulty in some way and not permitted to follow their "god-given" nature?

- Didn't "Christians" used to say stuff like this about black and white men and women and also about mixed-faith couples too? Either these people know what their God wants or they don't, sounds a lot like they don't to me? Can we assume that a change will come at some time in the future, like it always has on these matters?

Oh well, I guess the establishment will continue to prevaricate as they seem to insist on doing, and people will continue to evolve their morality according to what went before and matters to them at the time, eventually the establishment is forced to catch up. This seems to be the way of things, i.e. exactly the way you'd expect if it were all invented by men in the first place.

Friday Smirk

I thought the existence of this was unfalsifiable?

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Twitter can be wonderful sometimes, especially when conspiracy theorists or science deniers have their bottoms handed to them on a plate with simple logic, the following exchange is a perfect example of this, it involves climate change and some smart arse who had a brain-fart and thought it was a clever little dig at climatology, the original post was..

You can image a certain kind of person nodding approvingly at this, it's an utter over-simplification and unrelated to climate change, but, obvious enough to have the feel of an analogy to it but with none of the detail to bother someone who can't be bothered with detail.

The response was great, although I can imagine the kind of person who would think a tweet like this is "clever" probably wouldn't understand the response anyway..

Weird indeed...

Celebrating Brexit

I think it's a great idea to mark the occasion of "Brexit" on the 31st Jan, how about some special edition stamps? Perhaps something like the ones above?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

I fart in your general direction

Very sad to hear that Terry Jones of Monty Python fame died today aged 77, I loved that show and all the films, so did my parents and so do my kids, evidence would suggest that he must have been doing something right! No doubt the famous and the good will be lining up to praise him over the next few days, I expect there'll be a little satire too, all good. It's often easy to forget that no only were Python very funny they were also culturally cutting-edge and controversial too (as the best comedy is) The above letter is from the UK censor to the Python team recommending some cuts to Life of Brian, fortunately all ignored. Often the first step to toppling stupidity, tyranny or injustice is to laugh at it; IMO a much needed strategy in today's over-woke and under-reasoned world.

A year ago today

Following on in my "weather a year ago" series, here's what it was doing round our way exactly a year ago today (to the hour). Thankfully we just have some regular pea-soup today, although the traffic congestion this flurry of snow caused at the time seems to have remained..

Midweek Mirth

Another excellent J&M suggesting that the best tool to find out the truth isn't faith, I agree, I find that "faith" (without evidence) often turns out to be simple Human gullibility and wish-thinking.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Monday, January 20, 2020

Spanish garage soup

After the cinema show on Saturday we needed to wait in town for our kids to finish their Saturday-jobs and so popped into our local craft-beer bar where I made a new beer discovery. The beer in question is called "Soup" and is by a brewery called "Garage Beer Co." much to my surprise (with a name like that) the company turned out to be Spanish (Barcelona)! It was delicious, not normally considered a strong "beer country" I associate Spain more with great wines? Anyway, this specimen was hazy and rich featuring Citra and Mosaic hops giving lemon and stone-fruit flavours, in summary, a really good beer, must look out for Garage in future!

If you need to know what "soup in a can" looks like then I grabbed this photo from the brewery WEB site; my humble suggestion is that if you see one of these then buy it, si?

Film club

This Saturday afternoon my Wife and I decided to go to the cinema for a change! This decision was largely prompted by the opening of a new cinema in our town run by a company called "Everyman". Their USP's are that their venues are kind of like restaurant/bar/pub's that also show films, the individual screens are quite small (about 100 people) and all the seats are like sofa's. You can choose a one, two or three seater, ideal for small groups and couples, they even supply cushions and blankets if you want them. The other thing is that they serve proper drinks in proper glassware (not crappy plastic cups) and bring said beverages along with proper food (burgers/pizza/pasta etc.) to your seat (i.e. waiter service) they even serve decent craft beer! We both really enjoyed it and thought what luck to get one of these places withing walking distance of our house! The film was pretty decent too, we watched 1917 the WW1 epic directed by Sam Mendes, a roller-coaster of a movie telling the story of a mission across no-mans-land to deliver a time-critical message that will potentially avert a massacre, edge of the seat stuff! If you get a chance go see it! We enjoyed ourselves so much that we may just make this a regular Saturday afternoon thing, beats shopping any day of the week!

Friday, January 17, 2020

King of the Gods

Of course, this high resolution photograph of Jupiter is totally beautiful and represents a stunning achievement for humanity, but can you spot the resident "Jupiter dolphin" surfing the turbulent waves on it's surface? Eat your heart out Dingle bay...

Water wings

Damn, didn't bring my water-wings, guess I'll have to choose another route for my lunchtime walk then...

Friday Smirk

Excellent J&M (as usual) pointing out that the problem with rooting your life and morality in a fixed thing like an ancient story book is that you have a real problem when the world changes around you and the ideas within it become out of date. When people realise that literalism in anything is all about saving face and nothing about improving our reality we can all hopefully let it go and pitch in, trying to figure out how our species might move forward.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Apparently atheists are "fools" for believing that biological complexity arose from an unimaginably vast series of (explainable) molecular replication events spanning billions of years, the results of which were all subject to ruthless natural selection thereby causing speciation and adaptation within populations. No, clearly a supernatural being "magic'd" us into existence first from mud in the case of males and then from a rib bone from the male in the case of females (of course juggling the X and Y chromosomes in the process) We wonder, if this being can magic entire universes into existence, why he would need either mud or ribs to make something as trivial as a person? Although McRibs do taste a bit like mud so you never know...

Monday, January 13, 2020

Traditional hypocrisy

Apparently the customers of pub-chain and brewery Samuel Smith aren't allowed to use mobile devices in their pubs. I guess there's some kind of  "natural selection" process taking place here, most businesses that can't or won't adapt to changes in the habits of their customers tend to fail fairly reliably. I wonder if there's a fear of change or some kind of bigotry hiding behind the word "Traditional" in this case? Anyway, as fate would have it some bright-spark managed to snap the mercurial owner of the company (Humphrey Smith) sitting in a Wetherspoons establishment enjoying the fruits of modern mobile telephony.

The British public tend to be a skeptical bunch but also fairly tolerant and easy going (relatively speaking) However, I'm not sure hypocrisy on this level is something that will be tolerated for very long. I think it would be fair to ask, what, other than the pretty buildings that some of them occupy, is there (certainly not the beer) to attract modern beer drinkers to Sam Smiths pubs anymore? Perhaps Humphrey is using the term "traditional" here in the same way as the British car manufacturing industry clung onto it during the 70's and 80's, right up to the point that industry didn't exist anymore.

Monday Mourning

Another person I enjoyed listening to and reading has died, Roger Scruton the philosopher and author lost a battle with cancer this weekend, aged 75 (far too young these days, and why is it that we always say "battle" in relation to cancer - more like a war that we're losing!). Someone I've only recently latched onto (last couple of years) but no question in my mind, an excellent thinker. Scruton was generally acknowledged to be on the Conservative side of the political spectrum but to be honest when I listened to him, many (not all) of his views just seemed sensible to me; sometimes the best solution isn't the most radical.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Drum roll please..

Just learned that Neil Peart the drummer of legendary rock band Rush has died. Apparently Neil had a brain cancer that he hadn't publicly disclosed and had been suffering with it for the last few years of his life. I recall watching a documentary about the band a few years ago, Neil came across as a really decent bloke. Rush is one of my all-time favorite bands and I never saw them live, something I deeply regret, feeling particularly melancholy this evening.

Friday Smirk

Happened to be walking past the National Gallery in London today, saw this and it reminded me of Donald Trump and modern American politics; i.e. taking a dump on the Founding Fathers ..

Thursday, January 09, 2020


It's not often that we can actually see atmospheric events, we can see the effect of them of course, like fallen trees in a storm etc. but we can't see the air moving at the time. Here is one example of where you can see air moving indirectly. I was out on my daily walk yesterday and noticed a flock of birds (mostly gulls) circling a lone Red Kite (harassing it) however the Kite was sitting in what's known as a "thermal" which is a column of rising air. You can tell the bird was in a thermal because it was rising up into the sky without flapping it's wings, it was effectively sitting in a rising air elevator along with it's tormentors. You can see the Kite in the middle of the cluster of birds and all the Gulls surrounding it.

Now, the air in a thermal is not only rising, it's also drifting according to the prevailing wind, i.e. it has horizontal movement as well as vertical movement, for the thermal in the picture I've shown this with the white arrows as well as suggested the extent or size of the thermal with the vertical (parallel) lines. Thermals will always have a source, usually a heat source that causes a big blob of air to have a temperature slightly higher than the surrounding air, hence it becomes less dense and rises. There are a number of possibilities for sources. In this particular case I reckon the dark coloured, smooth steel roof seen on the building in the bottom left of the picture is the source of this thermal, being dark it absorbs whatever infrared radiation is hitting it much better than the surrounding lighter surfaces, thus heating it up slightly above ambient temperature. Then, through convection the air above it is also heated thus causing the thermal to rise at a suitable density tipping point.

Back in the day when I used to do paragliding we watched out for birds doing this same thing as a fairly bullet-proof way of finding thermals that we could then ride for free (sometimes for many miles) - a little knowledge of physics can often lead to some really cool activities!

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Mid-week Mirth

J&M pointing out the more obvious reason to think that the problem of evil might just be a nail in the coffin of the idea of a "loving/merciful/caring" deity and therefore any deity at all. (oh and that horrible habit people have these days of sprinkling the word "like" into every sentence, whether it's, like, needed or not)

Fetid BS

If you'd like to see what a flaming pile of fetid bullshit looks like take a look at this promotional video from Gwyneth Paltrow and her company "Goop". No doubt millions of gullible people will take a bunch of hard-earned money and piss it up this particular wall (there are so many walls to choose from these days) for absolutely no benefit at all and probably give themselves a hernia into the bargain. If you have a medical problem, don't expect a (clueless) movie actor to help you, go and talk to a properly qualified MEDIC about it (the clue is in the name!) 

I can't help thinking that extinction is the only reasonable projection for our species.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Weather and Climate

Interesting historical data on weather events on the met-check web site, you can type in your postcode and see the most likely (statistically) first and heaviest snow dates where you live. For me the heaviest is most likely around the 25th of February, which is quite late in the Winter but even anecdotally, from past experience, feels about right. Of course weather isn't the same as climate, whilst there may well be extreme weather events from time to time, like a heavy downpour of snow, climate is much more about the averages over much longer periods of time. It's a common misconception among non-science types that just because it snowed heavily yesterday that global warming must be a hoax, there are many comical examples of this fallacy (by a senior US politician in this case) on the inter-webs. To scientifically literate people these examples are of course laughable but it's scary to know that there are people in real positions of power and influence out there that think this way.

It's been shown, beyond reasonable doubt, that the climate is warming, it's also been shown (historically via ice cores, and, theoretically via climate models) that high levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause the average (over time) atmospheric temperatures to rise. The amount of greenhouse gases created by the burning of fossil fuels in the last 500 years by humans has created appropriate levels to raise temperatures noticeably, i.e. it's most likely that we're causing it or at least contributing significantly.  Regardless of culpability, the expected effect of all this extra gas in our atmosphere will be temperature rises (on average) of around 2 centigrade in the next 30 years, which doesn't sound a lot but it's important to understand that this doesn't mean a 2 degree rise in local temperature uniformly across the globe, its does mean that the probability of extremes increases and on average will be more extreme. For example warmest months will be warmer by more than 2 degrees and colder months may well experience colder or more extreme storms. Overall we will see dramatic impacts on our climate (i.e. the character of the average weather as it's distributed over the globe) We will likely see London experiencing Barcelona levels of heat (and drought) in the Summer, which sounds like it might be a good thing, unless of course you suffer from asthma or have a house built on London clay which gets brittle when too dry. The impact on cities further South will be even harsher, drought and crop failure becoming much more common.

The issues with average temperature rises will potentially be dwarfed by the issues caused by melting arctic ice. This will causing sea levels to rise significantly and therefore cities located on low lying land next to the sea could literally be swamped and may have to be largely abandoned. Not great news for many valued national assets, such as London and New York for example. Sadly I think that this is one of those problems that will only be solved bottom-up, i.e. from individual action driving state-action, our politicians seem not to have the courage to do much more than pay lip-service to it.

Monday, January 06, 2020


In these troubled times it's good to see that the American secret service retains a sense of humour..

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Dolly bus

What a way to make a livin' ...

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Saturday stats..

I found this interesting table on the inter-webs the other day, it's the top 50 breweries in the UK at the moment according to their accumulated ratings from thousands of punters on the "Untappd" app (a beer/brewery rating app) I was glad to see that many of my favourites of the moment are up there, Verdant from Falmouth (1st), DEYA from Cheltenham (3rd), Northern Monk from Leeds (9th) and local firm Siren (23rd) and I also noticed some unfamiliar names that I must try to seek out this year. One of the other interesting facts in this table is the number of different beers brewed column, the shear diversity in the beer market these days is staggering, long may it continue!

Friday, January 03, 2020

Friday Smirk

First J&M of the decade, loving the word "Imperious", will be using that one..

Thursday, January 02, 2020

University Twankey

My Son and I were enjoying University Challenge last night when, in the thick of the action, a question about pantomime and specifically Widow Twankey came up. For a brief second (in a subliminal image kind of way) Paxman appeared in full Twankey get-up! For the next question, he immediately appeared back in normal garb, we both looked quizzically at each other and without speaking, both had exactly the same thought, i.e. "did you see that too?" It was surreal, and if I'm honest, slightly alarming (in a demonic clown kind of way), well played sir!

Easy answers

I have a sneaky feeling that in this new decade our species (on average) will still find easy (false) answers more appealing than the true ones that require real physical and intellectual effort to materialize. I'm sure that the future battlegrounds for our hearts and minds in the next decade will be the obvious ones, topics such as climate, religion, equality, education and politics etc. Whatever happens, I'm sure we'll all see plenty of upheaval over the next 10 years in our lives, some of it exciting, like, advances in technology and health-care and other things less so, such as climate change and mass migration etc. In the mean time you'll probably find me on the "stollen cake detox diet" for most of 2020, after all it's incredibly difficult to reason someone out of something they didn't reason themselves into in the first place.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Something to consider

Something to consider for the next decade, particularly being kinder to our planet.