Saturday, February 29, 2020

Zombie pale-ale

Bought a couple of cans of this some weeks ago at the brewery-tap and finally got around to drinking them yesterday evening. They went down great with some cheesy crisps and a cheesy film (Zombieland  II) watched with my Son, Jack (who enjoyed both the beer and the film) 

The beer is a hazy 4% IPA made by my local craft brewery Siren (Finchampstead) and is a light and fruity session beer chocked full of juicy German, American and Australian hops (Hallertau Blanc, Mosaic, Chinook, Ekuanot and Azacca). The film on the other hand was what you might call a black-comedy, tongue in cheek zombie apocalypse movie with Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg, both not too serious and both thoroughly recommended!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday Smirk

Excellent J&M (as usual) referring to the recent abolition of Blasphemy as a crime in Ireland (hurrah!) That country voted back in 2017 to remove the relevant laws from their statute book and it finally happened on the 1st January this year. The amusing thing about the cartoon is that the boys are actually "blaspheming" whilst asking their God for help, nice little double whammy there!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Electile Dysfunction

I've had a severe case of this at the last general election, hasn't improved since then..

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Weather Trends

So, in the spirit of science here is the latest in my series of weather photo's. Every year on February 25th at 12:15 I take a shot of a scene during my regular lunchtime stroll, i.e. from the same spot (roughly). So, from left to right we have 2018, 2019 and now 2020, as you can see the sky had much more of a February vibe to it this year although the temperature was still above average (which is 7 degrees) at around 11 centigrade. Just goes to show that weather is not the same as climate but I reckon if I keep going for another 20 years the proportion of anomalies we'd see compared to the averages in 2018 would be significant.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Superstition will get us in the end

I read that the epicenter of the huge spike in COVID-19 cases in Korea (the largest outside of China) emanates from a fringe religious sect called the "Shincheonji Church". The sect is Christian in character and like superstitious sects the world over clearly attracts a certain "mind-set". Apparently patient zero was a 61 year old Woman who refused to be admitted to hospital and instead attended several religious gatherings where the disease was transmitted. 

Unfortunately in this case it seems as though her arrogant and ignorant attitude that "Jesus (or insert whatever imaginary deity you like here) will save me" has put a huge number of people at risk. Viruses don't care what wacky shit you believe, they're just genetic robots that will do what their bio-chemistry dictates they must do, which is to hijack our eukaryotic cell replication mechanism killing the cell in the process, 1st century Jewish mystics or greedy Korean hucksters claiming to be the second coming of said mystics simply don't enter into it.

In another travesty of ignorance it seems that the original animal incubator of this new strain of Corona virus may well have come from the much abused Pangolin. This is an animal that is prized in Asia for it's scales and being essentially a scaly anteater has quite a few. The scales are used for that ultimate bastion of confirmation-bias "Chinese medicine" or in other words an industry founded on ignorant superstition and fueled by greed and snake-oil. The Pangolin is on the brink of extinction, as are many of the animals having the misfortune of being valued by this utterly bankrupt and vile trade.

So, superstition of two different flavours contributing to significantly helping to (potentially) kill millions of people, let's hope the Korean outbreak can be controlled and the good weather arrives before we have a pandemic to deal with. Anyway, make a mental note, when someone tries to convince you that their particular superstition is "harmless", perhaps challenge the point and use these two examples as evidence to the contrary.

Monday, February 24, 2020


Sometimes I get news that makes me really think, I suppose it's the same for all of us. This weekend we learned that a lifelong friend of my Wife's, who was just about to retire to the Sunny uplands of Southern Spain with her husband (literally next week) had a stroke on Friday evening, and is now in intensive care. Apparently it was a serious episode and her condition is still critical several days later. Of course we remain optimistic that she will make some kind of recovery, and will be going to see her as soon as we can to lend whatever support we can, but the news put me in a reflective mood. As we get older I guess it's normal to start to see older generations as well as some peers starting to fade away; it's never easy but the longer I live the more I feel I understand those cheesy quotes that you occasionally read on the subject. The one that sprung into my mind this weekend was "life is a tragedy filled with joy". I can't even remember who said it or where I read it, but thinking about all the wonderful things our two families have witnessed and enjoyed together over the years while simultaneously trying to comprehend the terror of her current predicament, I can certainly see where they were coming from.

Sunday, February 23, 2020


No, not parrot flavoured beer just a rather quaint name for a craft brewery based up in North Wales. I've had a few of their beers before over the last couple of years and have always been impressed, this one was no exception, totally delicious, a real murky fruit bomb, perfect for a rainy Friday night with a handful of peanuts!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Slippery knowledge

I was helping my daughter with her Chemistry revision (GCSE) yesterday afternoon and was starkly reminded that there are some things that you just have to know, and I'd forgotten them. I suppose at least it's much easier to acquire facts these days than in my time, a quick Google sorts most questions out. Funny thing knowledge, it's sometimes slippery and sometimes rock-solid and it's unclear why. If our brains are anything like the neural networks that we implement AI software with these days then we should be able to remember and recall every single thing we've ever learned but clearly that's not the case (well at least it's not in my case!)

Friday, February 21, 2020


What it feels like to walk into a lot of large craft-beer bars in London these days...
(not complaining BTW, just observing)

Friday Smirk

Lawyers reside the set of things that you really can't see the justification for and therefore don't need, until you do.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Baggage games

This is a pretty good idea. I always hate to wait for luggage to appear in the airport baggage hall, not because it's too long necessarily but because at that point I'm usually keen to crack on with the next leg of my journey. Something like this (above) would give that inevitable delay a distraction value, making it seem shorter; maybe even indulge in a big of gambling to spice things up a bit?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mid-Week Mirth

On point as usual from J&M. The current gender-sex-rights debate would seem to be a perfect example of why what we think is moral or not evolves over time, and, is therefore not "objective" or necessarily "god-given". Not sure where in the Torah, Bible or Koran they explain intersectionality theory but there's plenty of stuff about killing the "other" (the only difference being who the "other" is) All pretty much what you'd expect from primitive dessert cultures like the ones that created those particular myths, nothing magical or unique at all, just evolved apes in sandals.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Cloak of respectability

Sometimes leaders get things right, occasionally they are on the leading edge of the zeitgeist even though they may not even appreciate it themselves. I think Macron is right on the money with his stance on the case of a young Muslim girl in France who received death threats after posting anti-Islamic rants on Instagram. As he points out, it's not just the criticism of religion that is being (typically) misunderstood here (i.e. that religion is just a set of ideas and criticizing them is legal, not hate speech and frequently morally appropriate) but that the state has a duty to protect children from bullies, be they wrapped in the respectability-cloak of a "religion" or otherwise.

Hard Rollin'

Tried a new beer on Saturday evening, something to supp on while I was cooking dinner for the fam. "Hard Rollin" from a local brewery (Siren) it was a hazy, boozy, hoppy delight that was thick and unctuous with typical US hop citrus/grapefruit notes and a gentle orange/apple finish. Quite heavyweight at 7% ABV but the fullness of the flavours hid that perfectly, not cheap at £4 a can but recommended for cerebral beer fans looking for that classic NEIPA/IPA hit.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Dennis the menace

Arrived at work this morning to find that the main road into Reading was suffering from massive over-moistness, apparently the river Loddon decided to try a different route to the sea overnight as a result of storm Dennis and the huge volume of rain it dumped in it over a short period of time. It's happened before but the traffic chaos caused is as bad as ever, probably a long drive home tonight (darkness and unanticipated lagoons are never a good combination)..

Saturday, February 15, 2020


Only thing for weather like this is to give up what you're trying to do and find a pub with one of these (above)..

(oh yes, and ideally some of this too, suddenly that thing you were doing seems less important..)

I may be some time..

I have to catch the train to Guildford today and judging by the scene that greets me out of the window this morning... I may be some time..

Friday, February 14, 2020


Love this cartoon, it's an accurate representation of reality in most software app shops I've ever encountered. Most of the stuff that you have is as brittle as f*ck simply because it was written over time by many people of varying skill levels and evolved against a backdrop of hopelessly unclear requirements and pathetically naive wish-thinking. We live and learn..

Pale blue pixel..

I reckon this is probably my 2nd most awe-inspiring photo ever taken. It's not the first time I've posted it here but my excuse for a re-run is that this is a "re-processing" of the original data from the Voyager space craft showing the planet Earth taken from over four billion miles away (let that number sink in for a minute) as the little craft  was passing Saturn (the Earth is actually behind one of the rings) Carl Sagan talked about it on one of his TV programs and coined the title "The Pale Blue Dot",  he also wrote a book inspired by this image. In his famous TV speech he intimated that everything we (Human-kind) cares about happens on this little insignificant dot, all our lives, all our successes and all our failings on a fraction of a pixel - it's a powerful message and one that should make us all reflect more on how tenuous our position in the universe is.

If you're wondering what my #1 picture would be it's the Hubble deep-field and probably #3 would be Earth-rise, all pretty amazing achievements when you think about them.

Friday Smirk

Next time a Christian claims brownie points for their particular God saving a baby from a plane crash or causing someone's cancer to go into remission, remind them that if their God exists (vanishingly unlikely) and is truly omnipotent and omniscient then he's also responsible for the COVID-19 virus! (Unless of course someone else up there creates new viruses, a divisional manager that the boss is powerless to prevent perhaps?)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Happy birthday to you...

Happy birthday to Peter Gabriel, one of my all-time favourite musicians and song writers. Loved his work in the early Genesis (Foxtrot, Selling England etc.) and (although it took me a while to come around) his later superb solo career. I also thoroughly enjoyed his recent concert videos (back-to-front), shot in 4K video and shown in cinemas, really clever and utterly compelling, felt like you were there. Peter is 70 today, let's hope there's much more magical music to come!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The minds of Men

Excellent J&M pointing out the rather obvious fact that if you have a value system that is based upon a claim that is not verifiable (i.e. the existence of your particular God) then you don't actually have an objective system at all, you just claim you do. I must say I love it when religious people think they have a killer point against Atheists when they trumpet the assertion that without their particular "God" a person can't have morals or they say things like "if you don't believe in God then where do you get your moral standards from?" - the answer is simple and obvious, the same place you do dear believer, from the minds of Men.


I must say that quite a lot of people I meet seem to think this way. Particularly those who believe they already know the truth behind questions like "where do we come from", "what is our purpose" and "what represents a good moral life". Ultimately in the reality we find ourselves in, no one really knows jack about any of those things, so in my experience it's better to distrust with extreme prejudice anyone that claims otherwise.

NB: Actually every point in the universe is where the big-bang started, it's how singularities work, but who wants to spoil a perfectly good joke on a technicality?

Monday, February 10, 2020


A truly abysmal photo (taken with my phone) of the Moon and Venus before storm Ciara kicked in over the weekend. It's amazing when you think about it, in the short space of 10-12 years pretty much everyone (certainly in the West) has a fully functional digital camera in their pocket almost all the time and are able to take random snaps and videos of their everyday sights, sounds and lives. I wonder what the long term impact of all this recording of history will be in the future, will we reach a stage where our entire lives are captured and shared, will we simply record everything? You can see how we might end up there, and, if we do how that might have some kind of effect on our capacity to imagine. After all, why expend the energy trying to imagine/describe something when you can simply watch/show it in high-definition?

Sunday, February 09, 2020


A decent mantra to live by...

Friday, February 07, 2020


If you thought that the selling of merchandise or "merch" as it's known these days at popular gatherings like concerts, festivals and public-executions is a new thing then think again. Here's a medieval painting of the crucifixion (presumably of Jesus) showing someone in the corner flogging "Jesus tee-shirts" you've got to give them points for enterprise (and foresight!) You can tell this painting is one of those medieval ones that blurs the supposed time-line of the Bible stories, the people in the crowd are wearing armour (unlikely for 1st century Palestine) and I didn't think "men in tights" were invented until Mel Brooks did Robin Hood! 

Anyway, interesting how people like to drag ancient myths into their own periods of history, you can see how old stories evolve and change  to fit modern values and get perpetuated this way, it's all about making a few bob by re-hashing old tales, after all, it's a lot easier than inventing new ones! Just ask Walt Disney!

Friday Smirk

New J&M today pointing out that for many people modesty goes against their Human (mammalian) nature, and that when we have conflict between man-made stuff like culture, politics or religion and Biology, eventually Biology always wins. To quote Jurassic Park, "Nature finds a way"..

Thursday, February 06, 2020


We're all Spartacus today...

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

U wot m8

Someone replied to one of my less coherent tweets with this little GIF the other day, it made me laugh out-loud, not sure why? Anyway, there we are, thought I'd share it.

Arrival at La Ciotat

Here's a rather impressive thing. A famous clip from an 1895 film by the Lumiere Brothers of a train arriving in La Ciotat (in the South of France) has been "up-scaled" to 4K using an AI algorithm, presumably to interpolate missing pixels. In any case it looks really good when compared to the grainy blurred original, I wonder if there's a market for re-processed B&W classics from the early 20th century and before? Amazing how the world has changed in 120 years, what will it be like in another 120, circa 2140? I wonder if we'll still have a habitable planet to film?

Mid-week Mirth

An old J&M pointing out the contradiction in most of the desert theologies around today. Hate the sin love the sinner is what they say, like the believer hate the religion is what I normally reply.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Human Evolution

Sometimes people think that evolution is a progressive and straight lined affair, with one species gradually improving generation by generation. Not so, it's just as likely that within a generation or two that a species becomes disrupted and becomes less fit; when the environment changes suddenly for example. It's also possible that species diverge for a few millennia and then converge again, current thinking is that Human evolution was like this. For example, there's significant DNA evidence that more modern Hominid groups interbred with archaic (older) species (like Neanderthals) around 40,000 years ago, resulting in ancient DNA popping up in populations living today. Like most things in Biology, sex is anything but simple, we should just be thankful we're here at all, the number of possible people far outweighs the number of actual people that have ever lived.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

The run-around..

I've decided that 2020 is the year I get back into running as a way of keeping fit. A few years ago I did some damage to a tendon in my foot and it more or less buggered up any possibility of running, in fact walking any distance was difficult enough. However, over the last 12-18 months I've been focusing on specific exercises (like yoga, stretching and walking) to strengthen my gammy foot and having reached a level of around 30 km of brisk walking per week, I finally feel confident enough to give running a try-out. Today I bit the bullet and did a little local 3 km run, it took around 23 minutes and felt great! I haven't run since 2013 (see picture above) when I did the 5 km leg of a mini-triathlon in 24 minutes for a work event, hopefully I can slowly build things up so that I get back to that level of ability again, it'll be nice to get out there once more!

Saturday, February 01, 2020


Just leaving this here, found in Norwich and apparently it's not a fake as far as people closer to the source can tell. Brexit is potentially emboldening Neanderthals like this, we all have to ask ourselves, what kind of society and culture do we want to nurture and grow, stunted and inbred or outward looking and open?