Sunday, September 30, 2018

Meanwhile in the USA..

A few of my favorite things..

A couple of my favorite things in the picture here, good beer and good bread! We have a little market on Saturdays and it's enjoyable to stroll the couple of km's into town order to a) have a stroll and b) pick up some artisan bread from the bakers' stall. We went for a bulbous sourdough number this week and stunning it was with some nice soft cheese and my favorite IPA of the year so far from our local brewery Siren. An incredible beer that they made earlier in the Summer in collaboration with Finback brewery in New York, called "Low Side" it's a most splendid concoction, hazy and bursting with hops and flavour and, I can confirm, excellent with cheese and bread!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday Smile

I do hate it when the BBC (one of the worst culprits) does this, particularly when they give fossils like Nigel Lawson media time to simply spout plausible sounding lies on subjects like climate change..

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Smirk

The most common debate in the technology industries, the one where marketing and engineering meet and it's explained that every complex project only has three simple variables, time (how long it takes), content (what it contains) and cost (resources applied) But, that it's also a fact of reality that you can only ever fix two of them, you've just got to decide which two. 

Another fact of reality is that most clueless marketing/sales types think you should be able to fix all three; many tend to get most indignant when people who know this refuse to be delusional.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


What a glorious day! Caught an early train into Paddington (see above) and spent the day at various business meetings around town. I thought I'd keep my regular walk going by walking from Paddington station to Holborn, where my first meeting was, it took about 30-40 minutes and the weather remained so fine that at the end of the day I walked back to Paddington (see below) from my last meeting, covered about 14 km over the course of the day.

Yellow ink!

We quite enjoy watching Michael Portillo's railway program, it's popcorn for the mind and he goes to some great places. I noticed that he has a new book out (see picture above) and I wondered if a conversation took place between his publisher and him about the industry running out of yellow ink if they allowed his trousers to appear on the cover?

How likely is it?

Jesus & Mo. asking the question, "How likely is it that one or more of our books aren't actually authored by Human beings, rather they were penned by the invisible creator of the universe who seemingly only had a level of cultural, scientific and ethical insight available to the people who lived in Bronze-age Palestine" - the answer is not likely at all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Demolishing religion

If you've ever wondered how dreadfully dreary and soul-destroying it would be to live under a theocratic regime then look no further than the Maldives, a place some would say is a tropical paradise, but where an Islamic government operating under "Islamic law" wields absolute power. Recently that same Government has had demolished a beautiful sculpture commissioned by a hotel resort there (with permission) The purpose of which was to act as a semi-submerged marine habitat for the wildlife juxtaposed with interesting life-casts of local people to keep the tourists interested.

From the pictures I've seen it looked amazing however the medieval-muppets in the presidents office decided that a piece of art like this, i.e. featuring human figures, would be a "threat to Islamic unity", my, my such delicate little snowflakes aren't they! This is what you get when religion has power, incoherent rulings based on nothing more than emotion and/or political greed, all of which are grounded in concepts that are totally unfalsifiable and which can therefore be considered nothing more than parochial "whim".

Expected Life

Interesting story on the BBC site today about life expectancy in the UK, basically it claims that in recent years the rate of increase for the average figures (which have been increasing since 1982) has slowed to the point that now it has stopped. In some parts of the UK the averages have even fallen slightly. For women the average now stands at 83 years and for men a little less at 79 years, people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have seen falls of around 0.1 years. It's interesting to speculate what the cause of this might be? I would put my money on the prime factor being the general increase in obesity and apparent lack of regular exercise going on. When you gaze around in public places these days it's quite alarming how many (very) overweight people there are (>50%?), food and drink content (adverts and programmes) saturate our media and people seem to spend a much larger proportion of their free-time focused on calorific consumption than I remember we used to. 

What data there is in the public domain does seem to suggest that as a population we're less healthy than we used to be 10 years ago, although I do get the sense that the current generation of teenagers do seem to be more aware of the issue than middle-aged people. Unfortunately though, these kinds of problems take years to filter through, I wouldn't be completely surprised if we see further falls in life expectancy before people start to realise that just because we've got smart phones and 4K TV our bodies still require sensible management. One of the outcomes of Brexit is that experts are predicting that food prices may well increase by up to 8-10% due to increased tariffs, if this happens (likely) then perhaps it will provide the catalyst required for people to start to be a little more sensible and measured about what they eat? (I think I may have found the only positive outcome of Brexit!)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Curry Night

A couple of old favourites with a delicious chicken curry last night (made by an Indian friend who dropped by) Both beers from the excellent Beavertown Brewery in London. On the left we have Gamma Ray (5.4%) a fruity, tropical pale ale and on the right a slightly stronger (6.7%) and more resinous IPA called Lupuloid, both beers perfect with the food. I've made clones of both of these beers before and they've always turned out well, although, the fact that I can pick them up at my local Waitrose these days does mean that any spur of the moment social gatherings can be catered for much more easily.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Wild Beer

Picked up a couple of Wild Beer Company beers yesterday in Waitrose. Based in Somerset these guys have a specialty for alternative fermentation's and unorthodox yeasts as well as barrel-ageing and blending, the beers they produce are usually guaranteed to raise eye-brows! The first one I tried was called "Nebula" a hazy New England style IPA weighing in at around 5% ABV - nice and fruity up front with reasonable bitterness, not the most balanced beer I've ever had but nice enough, could easily sink a couple of these. The second beer was a stout called "Millionaire" (see below)

This beer was amazing, velvety smooth and highly complex it's made from dark and caramel malts and includes sweetness from lactose sugar and a salted caramel/chocolate from cocoa nibs and actual sea salt - it sounds like a dogs breakfast but was more like a posh ice-cream Sunday! Usually you'd expect a mouthfeel like this to come with a 10-12% alcohol penalty, but this beauty was only 4.7% - perfect!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Smirk

Apparently these are "Nigel Farage" condoms, leading to much mirth on Twitter today, here are some of the example tweets...

  • "Usually the condom is on the bell-end not the other way around.."
  • "Should do well, lot's of dicks in UKIP"
  • "For when you stand 7 times and still don't get in"
  • "Prevents unwanted pregnancy by removing any possibility of sex"
  • "As if someone going to the UKIP young independence shop is going to ever need 4 condoms"

..and many more far too rude to mention :)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Razor dodging..

Jesus and Mo looking at why it's usually intellectually easier for people to ignore Occam's Razor than implement it. A good fiction is always more satisfying that simply admitting that you don't know.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mafia Boss

Apparently, many of our religious brothers and sisters would actually like the "Mafia Boss" model of the Universe to be true? Anyhoo, fortunately there's absolutely no evidence for it whatsoever..

Reminder from a Remainer VI

Excellent analogy. When the cartoonists get it you know the message is starting to get through.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Early Adopter

I am a habitual early adopter, it's one of my greatest weaknesses. I got the original 1st generation Apple Watch when it came out, wore it for about a month then put it in a draw and forgot about it, this is often what happens to technology that doesn't grab me from the get-go. However, when I started on a bit of a health kick 18 months ago, and, as I got going with some habitual activities (like regular walks) I decided that I wanted some way of recording those activities, their duration and distances as well as give my self reminders and some way of capturing the raw data that I could then use to chart progress. 

Around two months ago I was reminded (by my wife) that I had this device, and, that it has some pretty comprehensive fitness features built into it! So, I dusted it off and started to wear it. I must say, I'm totally hooked on it now! For me, it was definitely a case of finding the right application that snared me rather than the underlying technology (which after all is just a glorified digital time-piece with a speaker-phone in it) Now I'm a complete sucker for completing my "rings" which on the Apple Watch is essentially a measurement, against a daily target of exercise, movement and standing up (as opposed to sitting down) which ultimately translates into calories burned. It tracks my excursions using the GPS in my phone and it measures pulse rates and distances covered as well as little pings and haptics to let me know when goals have been reached and when movement is desirable. I like it! Almost tempted to get the new one when it's out so that I can go swimming with it too, shame the price is so eye-watering!

Last of the Summer wine..

Took the train into Reading on Saturday night, had a top burger and local beer (Siren Soundwave) at Honest Burgers in the town centre and then wandered across the bridge and through the park to Caversham where we enjoyed a good old chin-wag in the Fox and Hounds (along with their excellent selection of murky craft-beers, Siren Suspended in Chinook on cask!) luckily the evening was still warm enough to stroll back to the station at 9 ish and tucked up in bed soon after..!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Smile

Excellent J&M today, pointing out the obvious issue holding back the theocratic state of Pakistan

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ursine fecal matter

Looks like the ABC Justin Welby has got himself into a bit of bother this week by criticizing companies like Amazon for not paying enough tax and the concept of zero hours contracts. I agree with him, both of these things are problems that our society needs to deal with, but, his problem is that his church lists Amazon as one of it's top 20 investments whilst paying hardly any tax itself, and, also advertises for zero hours contracts at least a couple of its cathedrals. People would be forgiven for calling him out as a bit of a hypocrite, which is what is happening.

Look, there are many obvious facts hiding in plain sight out there, we may debate and argue about the veracity of various aspects of them but in the end we all know that most human organisations aren't what they want people to actually think they are. For purposes of relieving you of doubt here's a few controversial points straightened out...

- The Pope is Catholic
- All religions are man-made
- Brexit will make most of us poorer, financially and culturally
- Ghosts, Goblins, Fairies and Gods don't exist
- No one knows what happens when we die, but we all will
- You will find ursine fecal matter in wooded areas..

Now can we all now just quit the virtue signalling, stop pretending to know stuff we can't possibly know and get on with our (real) lives here and now in this reality. Enjoy the weekend!

Friday Smirk

There's a lot of "blagpipers" in the software industry..

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Jordan v. Sam

I've been keenly following the debates between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris recently, they've been good and both speakers have something interesting to contribute. Sam is famously atheistic and Peterson is famously theistic in outlook. Ultimately, my conclusion from many hours of viewing and reading is as per the picture above. Peterson simply doesn't make sense at too many critical points, although he is highly skilled at sounding confident enough in what he asserts such that a superficial skim leads you to believe there's depth where there really isn't, a mile wide but an inch deep as an old boss of mine used to say. However, this skill (gift of the gab) is highly sought after and valued in our society currently, so I expect Peterson will be the one that cashes in most successfully on fame out of the two of them.

Active brown nosing

I've been noticing a very strange phenomenon recently during this glorious spell of good weather, many more people have been walking around at lunch-time. The strange thing isn't that there are more people walking around but more the way they walk around. Every day (at lunch-time) I walk around an office/industrial park in order to get some fresh-air and also to keep myself active. I have one of those jobs that involves sitting at a desk all day long and believe me 25 years of that takes its toll on your back and joints, movement is my friend! I tend to walk fairly fast and in a "determined" fashion, i.e. I'm not sight-seeing! 

Often I notice a huddle of people approaching me in the opposite direction, usually, if it's three or more people they form themselves into a straight line, this is obviously so that they can all participate in the same conversation, at this point they're effectively blocking the pavement (which is only wide enough for three people) When there's more than three you get two or more parallel lines of people. As I converge on the group one or more people speed up or slow down in order to break rank and move ahead or behind the group in order to allow me to pass unimpeded, but, occasionally no one moves and it's like a game of chicken! Today I actually walked right up to someone (nose-to-nose) who simply wouldn't move out of the way and was insisting on maintaining his rank. I'm not quite sure what this chap expected me to do, jump into the busy road? Or perhaps the many thorny bushes lining the non-road side of the pavement, anyway he quickly realised his error and stepped to the side. I wonder if this is male dominance behaviour, plain stupidity or something deeper?

I find the chicken game is much more likely to be played by groups of Men rather than Women, and I'm particularly suspicious of besuited sales types, some of whom clearly have a problem with their adrenaline glands being too big and their frontal lobes being too small. I wonder also if the problem is amplified when their "boss" is out walking with them, perhaps no one is willing to break rank first and risk missing out on a brown-nose opportunity with their governor? Perhaps they'd rather risk a collision than miss a single sage-word or witty quip from the person they are trying to impress, could this behaviour be an expression of insecurity?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


It's often easy to get carried away with how significant individual Human Beings are in the Universe, after all we've got mobile phones that go ping when we stand up and microwave ovens for goodness sake! However, it's beneficial to take a step back now and again and review things in light of some relative measures regarding our existence, measures like these for example.

- There are roughly 7 billion humans on planet Earth
- It would take over 200 years to physically count to a billion
- Roughly 4 people are born every second and roughly 2 people die
- You could fit roughly 1000 planet Earth's into a globe the size of planet Jupiter
- Jupiter could fit inside our Sun nearly 1300 times over
- At the fastest speed ever achieved (50k mph) it's 80,000 years to our next nearest star
- Over 5 Billion of our Sun's could comfortably fit inside the largest star we know of..

And I thought it was a long walk to the newsagents..

End of a life

My family, particularly my Wife, have been caring for her 88 year old mum for the last 10 months or so, ever since she had a nasty fall in December 2017 when she fractured her shoulder and needed to be hospitalised for a few weeks. It's been a long road dotted with optimism but also balanced with sadness, a classic tale of gradual decline.

Recently she was diagnosed with Leukaemia which has been getting worse over the last few weeks, it eventually took her life at 9 am this morning. Fortunately, my Wife was with her, holding her hand as she died, it was very peaceful and she was in her own bed; this arrangement was her last wish. There's not much to say about the end of life process that hasn't been said a million times before, a time to reflect on the value of good health, family bonds and, most importantly, a life well lived and appreciated. I'm sure like most people, my own feelings are mixed. When we reach the end of our lives we're most thankful for the knowledge, compassion and skill of those that went before us, for modern medicine and for education, the alleviation of pain and the understanding of what is happening to those affected counts for much. However, because of this greater understanding we also realise that so much more could be achieved! Better, quicker diagnosis, more effective treatments, more Human dignity at the end, and, the raw potential of a longer (healthy) innings; life goes on, as it must.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tool hell

Thought I'd be smart and save myself £15 by fitting a new battery to my car myself (rather than letting Halfords do it for me, which is what I normally do). After about an hour and a half and 500 calories of running around trying to find tools that I don't have and then bombing over to the shops to buy them, I'm pretty sure I'm down on the deal. Honestly though, why car manufacturers think it's OK to require someone to have 8, 10, and 11 mm sockets and a socket extension in order to simply remove a battery is beyond me, why not just settle on 10 mm nuts all round? With numerous chunks missing from my finger joints I'm beginning to remember why I went into software and not mechanical engineering now..

I guess the car manufacturers are in cahoots with the tool manufacturers, well, that's my conspiracy theory for today done, tomorrow I need to fix some guttering before the rain gets here, wish me luck..

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hate hurts...

When I first saw this I thought it must be some kind of parody or spoof, unfortunately not. Can it really be so that our police force are expanding their remit to investigating "insults" and "offence"? Personally I'd prefer them to be policing crime instead of speech! We already have sufficient laws preventing incitement to violence but who the hell knows what a "non-crime hate incident" is or how it might be arbitrated? Should I phone them the next time I'm the victim of road-rage or perhaps when I'm particularly offended by the cheap, nonsensical analogies used by Boris Johnson in the Daily Mail? Technically "hate" is not illegal. For example, I "hate" criminals who abuse children, rob pensioners and exploit vulnerable people in our society, and I would be quite comfortable using "hate-speech" to communicate that feeling, am I now a criminal too?

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer V

Quick straw poll to see how Brexit is going... er, not great then...

Saturday, September 08, 2018


If you see one of these lurking on the shelves at around £20-25 snap it up! Excellent Chardonnay from Dog Point a refreshing change from the usual New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (although that can be good too!) It's full of apple and pear flavours, crisp and well balanced with a pronounced flint-smoke or "struck-match" vibe on the finish, this is an indication that the wine has had little or no exposure to oxygen throughout it's ageing process, which is usually a good thing! If I tasted this blind I'd have said this was an expensive Burgundy probably 2 or 3 times the price. Highly recommended!


So whilst out for my constitutional walk yesterday I noticed that the blackberry bushes round our way are absolutely loaded to the gunnels with fruit, couldn't remember if that means a hard or a soft Winter, either way, who cares! My favourite pudding is apple and blackberry crumble with custard, delicious!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Friday Smirk

A sculpture in Berlin, "Politicians discussing Global Warming"...
Unfortunately (for our children) a truism if ever I saw one..

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Big Five...

I was chewing the fat with one of my colleagues the other day about how, from an IT support point of view, in any given team or organisation certain people seem to have a lot more trouble with technology than others. Superficially it would seem that the amount of trouble they have is usually correlated to seniority (and therefore age), but, as we explored the data more and knowing the people involved, there seemed to be other possible correlations in the mix too. 

After some analysis, we summarised that there also seemed to be an important correlation between personality type and the volume of technology woes experienced. We reckoned that the more outgoing, gregarious or simply "loud" a person is then the more likely it is that they will have issues with their phones, computers, software or photocopiers, high on extraversion and high on neuroticism would be how I would position this in the "big-five". Of course, our data-set was pretty small, but this would be quite an interesting experiment to run on a bigger scale; maybe I could get a university grant? For completeness, those people who almost never seem to have IT issues were high in openness and also high in conscientiousness but usually low on extraversion. Interesting, this personality stuff.

Beer zeitgeist

This picture perfectly sums up the beer-scene zeitgeist in the UK over the last 12 months. The hazy, low bitterness, hoppy and fruit-forward pale ale reigned supreme; everyone (worth their salt) tried to make them and when they were good, people loved them and lapped them up. Verdant down in Falmouth, Cornwall were one of the best proponents of the style IMO but, of course, nothing ever stays the same forever! Just when we'd gotten used to the hazy pale along looms the "Brut IPA" with all the major craft brewers releasing batches to market over the Summer it would seem that perhaps this new style represents the next wave?

Having mentioned the "next wave" it's worth noting that the only thing guaranteed about future predictions is that they won't pan out how you think; there are several candidate styles for the next hype-wave in beer, you've got your barrel-aged versions of every other style, sours, Belgian-American hybrids, Lambic, blends and many others, who knows, we may even see a return to traditional "bitter"? But, I reckon if that happens it'll be under the guise of some kind of chimeric US/UK style. The world of beer has changed so much in the last few years!

Heavy Machinery

This little picture made me chuckle yesterday, it's a photo of some kind of 19th century "snake-oil" medicine for coughs, although looking at the ingredients list it looks more like a recipe for a very long sleep. They must have been as hard as nails those Victorians, I bet they even operated heavy machinery after taking it too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Some people...

We've been getting a bathroom renovated over the last week or two and have had a skip parked up on our driveway. Over the course of a few days it's been filled by one or more people who clearly think it's simply fine to dump their unwanted crap on someone else's property. Along with a dozen bin liners full of old clothes we have a full set of moldy old garden furniture including about 4 chairs and a large table. Today I noticed an old hoover in there and a new bunch of unrecognizable detritus, WTF? I really wish I had a camera on the front of my house to catch the bastards in the act, it would be such a delight to re-dump the whole lot on their front lawn!

Baffling fact of the day

Why is it that many Americans are burning their Nike clothing because of the opinions of some black guy, but are happy to belong to the Catholic Church even though an alarming number of it's priests raped American children?

God on your side

The Excellent J&M (as usual) 

To many people "freedom of religion" means "freedom to do whatever the hell I interpret my particular ancient scripture to mean". After all, if you have "God" on your side then anything is possible, who can possibly say or prove otherwise?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Summer 2019

Been mostly cutting code and listening to Motorhead today, blue sky and sunshine, but with a slight morning-nip in the air! Roll-on Summer 2019!

Monday, September 03, 2018

Corporate safe-space

So, in the land of the brave and the free we see that neither is really true. Here's a video of some security guy preventing a couple of people entering a Starbucks coffee shop inside a Hilton hotel because (we assume) of the words on one of their tee-shirts. If you're wondering what offensive and derogatory filth must written on a shirt in order to be refused entry into a Hilton hotel then apparently "I'm an Ex-Muslim, ask me why" will do the job nicely. I guess simply the word "Muslim" visible in any kind of controversial setting these days is sufficient to trigger the corporate types into some sort of "safe-space" lock-down; is this a case of profit before principal perhaps?

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Not boring

I so wish the Hitch were still alive to participate in the political and cultural debates of today, Brexit, Trump, Relativism and Free-speech to name but a few. I'm sure his contribution would have been significant or at the very least certainly not boring!

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Alpha mail

One of my friends sent me an email the other day with a link to the Alpha-Course (She's a keen Christian) suggesting that I might like to attend it. She claimed it was "the best thing she'd ever done" so I thought I'd check it out and see what I could find out so that when I declined the offer I'd at least sound like I hadn't completely dismissed it out of hand.

There's a ton of stuff on-line about this course, you can pretty much view the whole thing if you can bear wading through the wall to wall logical fallacies, contradictions and fancy-footwork around the more obviously nasty bits of the Bible. From what I can see it's just your bog standard Christian apologetics wrapped up in a cloak of fake "gravitas", I think they were trying to appeal to the new-age types by posing questions such as "what is the meaning of life", the answer to which is "Jesus" of course (apparently that's the answer to pretty much every question, which I suppose is at least predictable). Of course, a simpler and more obvious answer is that some questions are just stupid questions and if the answer is "Jesus" then the question should be "what's the 6th most popular Mexican boy's name?" 

I watched several videos of various parts of the course and honestly found the whole thing a bit lame, you could drive several (metaphorical) buses through most of the arguments presented and although most of the people involved seemed nice enough and generally sincere it was clear that this was indoctrination with tea and biscuits. Clearly, I'm coming at this from a position of having read, viewed and mostly agreed with many of the counter-arguments to religion (and Christianity in particular) but it was striking that many of the people engaged on these courses seemed never to have heard any of them. Then again, I guess that's what most religions rely on to snag new recruits.