Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Noticed a new program being advertised on the History Channel called "Know Where You Stand", looks like the kind of thing I'd like. It's centred around the idea of superimposing old historical photographs onto modern views. Here we have a view of the Eiffel Tower taken from the exact spot where Hitler stood in 1940 during a fleeting visit to Paris, it's a great illustration of how transient we Human beings really are, here today, gone tomorrow!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Brut force

I ventured into virgin beer territory over the weekend, a new IPA style all the way from San Francisco called a "Brut IPA". Apparently the trick is to make a high ABV full and flavorsome American style IPA (chocked full of tasty hop varieties) and then to use the enzyme Amylase to break down any sweetness remaining in the beer rendering it bone dry, like Brut Champagne. Normally amylase is used in big, heavy dark beers to snag excess sugars so that they're not too syrupy it's not normally needed in regular IPA's.

Anyway, I had one called "Hop Fizz" from my local brewery Siren on Saturday night and all I can say is wow! With little to no bitterness, the punishing dryness seemed to accentuate the hop flavour to such an extent that I could still taste them the next day (and I only had one small 330ml bottle!). I would wager that this style becomes popular among beer geeks over the coming months, just when you thought every conceivable style of beer had been done to death, along comes a new one!

Anyone there?

I always wonder how, in those quiet moments of reflection when we question our delusions, how religious people reason about their various God's lack of apparent presence in the real-world? Our little planet seems to function exactly as you'd expect if were are no such entities at all. Perhaps it's a bit like the popular phenomenon of ghosts, goblins, spirits, fairies and angels since we invented cameras and photography. Judging by the quantity and apparent veracity of stories told a century ago you'd have thought that putting a high resolution digital camera into the hands of practically every human on the planet would supply sufficient images of supernatural entities to fill the dome of Saint Paul's Cathedral by now?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Smirk

How is it that people think putting dog turds into little plastic bags and hanging them on tree branches, perfectly preserving them for years whilst littering the countryside, is an improvement on just letting the animal crap in the woods like every other animal already there?

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Beer-mat propoganda

Apparently (un-verified) these two lie riddled beer mats have been spotted in a Wetherspoon pub. The owner of that dismal chain is a well known Brexit fanboy, I guess you don't have to be that smart to be successful at the bargain-basement end of the pub-trade. I remember going into one of these pubs once several years ago, my lasting memory is of how the floor was slightly "sticky" and the place had a lingering odour of vomit and bleach, I'm sure there must be some good ones out there somewhere but it didn't appeal to me. Anyway, the beer and the ambience weren't in the tiniest bit memorable and when combined with the Brexit issue I decided that I won't be returning to a Wetherspoon establishment any time soon, unless of course, it's to steal or deface these ridiculous beer-mats!

Blinkered Liberals

Lots of people getting upset about a comment in the Telegraph by Boris Johnson saying that Women wearing burkas "look like letterboxes". The remark has triggered a tsunami of virtue signalling from every corner of the political spectrum, especially those on the left and those with deeply vested interests in shielding Islamic culture from any kind of criticism.

My view is that Mr Johnson has indeed caused deep and serious offence to many in this country. For example, he presided over a lacklustre tenancy as Lord Mayor of London wasting much taxpayer cash, he lied to its people about Brexit, he made a mockery of high political office, he has shamelessly promoted himself and has made so many serious gaffs and errors whilst maintaining his position in office that any competent person has to seriously question the motives of those that put him there and their reluctance to remove him. In short he's a walking disaster, an embarrassment and a parasite. But, I wouldn't go as far as to call him a racist, as many on the left are now doing. Being a stickler for evidence I see none to suggest that he is? His remark is certainly a criticism of the cultural practice of insisting on the complete covering of Women's bodies in public (often against their will) and is indeed a statement of observational fact, but it's not racist. To call him racist for this remark is simply providing cover for real racists, the left need to take heed of the fact that if you cry wolf too many times eventually people stop listening.

I prefer to take my lead from the people within this culture and religion who are trying to reform it from the inside, people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz whose viewpoint I agree with when he says, "The Hijab and it's more extreme sister the Burka are the uniforms of medieval patriarchal tyranny. Liberals who defend it are akin to Conservatives defending the confederate flag".

Monday, August 06, 2018

Elementary, Anti-Vaxxers

I came across this little gem on the inter-webs today. It'a a couple of letters written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, him of Sherlock Holmes fame, on the subject of compulsory vaccination in 1887. What's interesting about it is not the fact that Doyle was very much in favor of saving children's lives by protecting them from one of histories biggest killers, Smallpox, but that the objections to vaccination were pretty much the same 140 years ago as they are today. The same cock-eyed arguments are trotted out by today's anti-vaxxers, here's a summary of the dialogue..

1. Is it "moral" to neutralize any agent "sent by providence" (i.e. God) or suffer any Government  to do the same?

Doyle answers by reversing the logic, he asks, "is it immoral to inflict passing inconvenience upon a child in order to preserve it from a deadly disease? Does the ends never justify the means? Would it be immoral to give someone a push to save him from being run over by a locomotive"? He concludes with the following. If all these are really immoral, I trust and pray that we may never attain morality.

2. The question of effectiveness.

Doyle points out that the smallpox vaccine had been around for nearly a century, with more unanimity than any other medical subject. In past centuries whole tracts of the country were decimated by the disease but by 1887 many doctors never saw a single case in a lifetime of practice.

Just as today's Anti-vaxxers claim that the disease might have changed or other factors (like hygiene or safe drinking water) may account for the reduction. Doyle points out that doctors and nurses had worked in smallpox hospitals for over fifty years without a single case of them catching it, because they were protected by vaccination.

3. The Question of adverse effects

Another tack taken by the anti-vaxxers of the time was that vaccination caused "indescribable" effects. Perhaps the reason why the effects might be indescribably was that they were imaginary. We're still seeing this claim today with concerns over autism, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

People argue that vaccines are "poison". Doyle points out that the most useful drugs like opium and digitalis are also poisons. We accept a small risk to get a great benefit.

4. Lies damn lies and statistics

Detractors often cite occasional outbreaks as a "failure" of vaccination, Doyle points out that such outbreaks strengthen the case for vaccination, because there are far fewer deaths in those that have been vaccinated than those that haven't, even at the time there was 20 years of data on this,

  • Of those with four vaccination marks: 0.5 percent died
  • Of those with three marks: 1.9 percent died
  • With two marks: 4.7 percent died
  • With one mark: 7.7 percent died
  • With no marks but claiming to have been vaccinated: 23.3 percent died
  • Non-vaccinated patients: 37 percent died

Doyle's thinking on this subject was clearly reasonable, he seemed to be fighting the same battle as many heath-care professionals are still fighting today, although it's worth noting that he wasn't perfect, his views on other matters such as parapsychology, telepathy and spiritualism weren't so insightful.

Reminder from a Remainer III

Brexit: An evolution of deceit & dissembling.
1. "They need us more than we need them."
2. "It should be the easiest deal in human history."
3. "No deal is better than a bad deal."
4. "They have to believe we'll walk away."
5. "Shit. They believed us. We're screwed. Blame them."


My biggest fear regarding this whole machine-learning gig is that, as well as the useful patterns, data-points representing many of our Human biases, prejudices and stupidity are sitting in a lot of the data we're using to train the models, particularly the ones to do with behaviour. I wonder if we know enough about ourselves (and are honest enough) to recognise and filter out the cruft?

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Fake news

When evidence-free, ridiculous and unsubstantiated stories circulate for a few weeks these days we call it "fake news", if those same stories circulate for a thousand years we call it "religion".


Another pleasant half-hour in the sunshine at the Siren Tapyard yesterday. Popped in to try a new beer (see pic. above) called "Suspended in Ekuanot" it's an American style pale ale that features a hop called "Ekuanot" hence the name. Made in a hazy "east-coast" style it was really good, fruity with a small amount of bitterness on the finish, good body/mouth-feel too for such a sessionable beer (only 4% ABV) could of easily sunk a couple of these but unfortunately had teenage offspring to pick up from the train station, pesky kids.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Friday Smirk

I guess it's all about perspective...