Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dunning-Kruger syndrome

Came across this gem the other day, it's well known Brexit fan Tim Martin (owner of Wetherspoon pubs) who seems to be claiming that the cumulative IQ of lots of stupid people exceeds that of fewer intelligent people. Someone should explain to him that IQ doesn't work like packets of pork-scratchings and that, sometimes, less is more. 

(I bet he reads the Daily Mail and doesn't trust experts either)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Flu time

Half the office is off sick at this week; flu season is upon us - going for my flu-jab tomorrow, get one if you can..

The World according to creationists..

Wine whine

I see that the budget yesterday delivered an increase of around 8p per bottle of wine. Doesn't sound like a lot but it's on top of the already one of the highest rates of duty on wine in Europe. This increase alone is more than the French charge altogether. I've visited Scandinavia several times over the years and have always scoffed at how much drinks cost there. It's always seemed utterly outrageous how much the Governments in the Nordic countries cream-off of things like wine, spirits and beer etc. but looking at the numbers and when VAT is included, we're not that far off them now!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Worst places to be rational

Here's an assessment of the worst places on Earth to be an Atheist (click the link for an interactive map). Top of the list are places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia etc. (red = bad), no surprises there, but what grabbed my interest were the yellow countries that I would have predicted to be green (good) The UK ranked worse than France for example, this came down to our state religion and the way it interferes with education and politics. I was also surprised by New Zealand and Australia which I'd have thought very secular places, quite conservative though when you look at the numbers. Most other ratings were un-controversial, generally Islamic countries are bad and countries with very authoritarian regimes like Russia and China don't fare too well either. Personally I'd have given the USA a slightly worse score than it got because of the pressure on people to be religious, but then again that's mostly only a factor in the middle of the country, around the edges where the population centres are it's much more liberal.

New news week

Reading through the various news threads over the weekend, the following stories stuck in my mind; probably says more about me than what's going on in the world.

New 50p coin to "celebrate" Brexit - I see that the Government are to produce a new Fifty pence coin to mark our exit from the EU, why? Anyway, there was a poll to ask people what should be written on the coin, I voted for "20p" which is exactly what it'll be worth when we get a no-deal Brexit.

Irish blasphemy referendum result - Good news from across the Irish sea, the result of the recent referendum on Ireland's archaic blasphemy laws is that the people there have decided to remove them! Next job is to get the Catholic church out of your schools (not that we in the UK can shout too loudly about that either).

Israel and Turkey removing evolution from schools - Talking about schools and religious interference in them, Israel and Turkey have all but removed the subject of evolution from their public schools. This has been entirely driven by religious fanatics of course, Islamic and Jewish, two sides of the same coin ending up at exactly the same place, ignorance and child abuse.

Archaeopteryx not a fake after all - In 1985 Fred Hoyle the renowned astronomer took some photographs of the famous Archaeopteryx fossil at the Natural History Museum. His conclusion was that the feathers so clearly visible on one side of the specimen were probably fake and added later. Much controversy ensued as Hoyle was pretty well known and ever since this story has become a pillar in anti-evolutionary circles (like the ones depriving school kids in the Middle East of a decent education) Thanks to advances in laser and imaging technology, the specimen has been scanned with unprecedented accuracy and (unsurprisingly) the two main parts of the fossil match exactly (at the microscopic and chemical level), the feathers are real, Hoyle was wrong.

New Brazilian President - There's a new leader in Brazil, right wing Christian fundamentalist Jair Bolsonaro is being dubbed the "Tropical Trump", he promises to run the country "according to the Bible", get ready for genocide, misogyny, human sacrifice, pillage, homophobia, slavery, rape, more rape and scapegoating then..

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday snickers

Birthday Treats

As it was my Wife's birthday yesterday, we decided to treat ourselves, let our hair down a bit and spend the day in London doing a little light-shopping and grazing "up the smoke", so it was an early start with some long shadows at the train station!

First stop the V&A museum to check out a couple of things there. The boys headed off to the video-games exhibition and the girls took a look at a fashion and nature show. Great way to spend a couple of hours, I never run out of things to interest me at that place. After that we popped over to Soho for some burgers at Patty and Bun and then on to the shops around Covent Garden, the boys took a slight detour over to Shoreditch to have a look at the new bar that Rick Astley (yes him of rick-roll fame) and Mikkeller have opened, it was suitably rammed, standing room only, but nice enough (needed more seats!) After perusing Box Park and a few other hipster places we ended up meeting up around Holborn where we had a Belgian (mussels and chips) feast at Belgo, bit plastic but nice enough. Got home about 10 pm having walked about 17 km - going to feel tired tomorrow, lucky we all get an extra hour in bed!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Converts corner

I see that Sinead O'Connor, the singer and early 90's pop star with "attitude", has nicked a few headlines again recently by converting to Islam. Islam? I hear you say. The Woman must certainly be a few tins short of a six pack (probably not breaking news!) Having left one misogynistic and patriarchal religion (Catholicism) because she hated it, she then goes and joins the MOTHER OF ALL misogynistic and patriarchal religions Islam! I wonder if this is what media-starved D-listers are doing these days to get attention and promote their next album? I guess it's nothing new, these arty types are always chasing the next "mystical" experience, I guess their imaginations run out right at the point where reality impinges on ego, who knows, maybe she's just trying to quit the booze?

Friday Smirk

I've always wondered about edible things with the word "urban" in front of them..

Thursday, October 25, 2018

And the prize goes to...

I dunno, close run thing with Mormonism

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer XII

So long suckers..

Billionaire James Dyson, industrialist and land-owner and recipient of many an EU farming grant, has announced that he's going to manufacture his electric cars in Singapore. The fact that this company is making things outside of the UK might strike some as slightly hypocritical of the very vocal pro-Brexit and pro-UK (knighted) business leader, but, his company makes pretty much all of the things they make outside of the UK already, so he could argue that this is normal. My question would be is there any link between the EU announcing a free-trade agreement with Singapore the day *before* the Dyson announcement, is this just a coincidence? For someone who promotes "ruthlessness in business" as his mantra, it's hard to believe that this uber-salient fact had passed Dyson by.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Pulling out

Another set of placards I thought were clever... (and funny!)


Sometimes it's difficult to see the benefit of things (like studying for A levels or degrees) from the perspective of the present, for young people today this seems ever more difficult as the world around us changes ever more rapidly and it feels like the learning of the past can become redundant even more quickly. I always advise the younger people I deal with at work to hold onto the thought that no learning, however small or seemingly irrelevant, is ever wasted and the trick is to be patient, a time will come when most of the things we know can be used, re-used or adapted to meet a new challenge. 

I was reminded of this recently at work where we're in the process of building a new software product. It's a tricky piece of engineering, in a subject area where we (as a team) have little experience. One of the biggest challenges when putting together a new product is to find an over-arching model or metaphor into which you can layer and fit the various concepts and components you need to build, this helps you to develop a set of terminology that everyone can learn and a structured way with which to describe the functioning of it to those inside and outside the team. We struggled for a while to capture this for our new product until I managed to dig up an old model for a product that I built back in the late 90s. That product is long since dead and was totally different (in purpose) to this one but it had an underlying dimensional-rule based model that suited the new product perfectly! With a quick dust off and a little re-jigging, the concepts and (updated) language could be re-used and learned by a whole new set of people to achieve a whole new set of outcomes. Of course the technology, architecture, data-storage and programming languages used to build the new product (i.e. the tools) are completely new and different and much more efficient that the original ones, but the underlying conceptual framework and terminology is about a 90% fit. 

I wonder if these same ideas will resurface again in another 20 years, when I'm long gone and the youngsters on the team now are scratching around trying to design some new product and need a bunch of solid concepts upon which to base it, what goes around etc..

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Stuck in the middle..

I rather liked this placard, very clever.. #PeoplesVoteMarch

Team celebration

Fun evening yesterday. Took the team (work) out and treated them to an afternoon of food and beery delights at the new Brewdog bar in Town in celebration of getting a new product finished on time. Here we have a small selection of the many collaboration beers on offer for the Brewdog "Collabfest 2018" festival which is on this weekend. Loved the little third of a pint tasting glasses, a really good way to get around the board (see below) without drinking too much, even so, we managed to spend about £350 between 12 of us and were all pretty merry by the end of the evening as we wound our way through the mean streets of the metropolis that is Reading to the railway station and home.

My favourite beer of the evening was a collaboration with my local brewery Siren called Brut Romance, a really dry IPA style that was flavoured with strawberry and hibiscus, they were going for a "pink Champagne" kind of vibe and pulled it off really well.

Friday, October 19, 2018

No shouting...

I saw this cartoon the other day and it made me think that a phenomenon I'd noticed recently might not just be a figment of my curmudgeon old mind. 

The thing that I'm talking about is how younger people seem to equate a verbal disagreement (that's not going their way) with "shouting". Much like extreme left wingers often shout  "Racist" or "Sexist" in order to shut down dissenting arguments, seemingly regardless of the actual position of their opponents. I've had several disputes recently with my teenage kids where it's ended up with them asking me (and my wife) to stop shouting at them (ironically often in a louder voice), when quite demonstrably we haven't raised our voices one single decibel. Is this a new thing? Are we entering an era where it's customary to deflect from losing an argument by redefining English words, like shout, racist, sexist etc. and then to use them as an ad-hominem tactic against your opponent.

I'm put in mind of the excellent Monty Python sketch about witches, a parody of many current cultural and political debates in my view, burn-em I say...

Friday Smirk

I'd say that's about right..

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer XI

Well said Sir John Major, strong stuff, hard to argue with.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer X

This is what I like to see. Business leaders putting their heads above the parapet and expressing an opinion on issues of the day that affect them and their employees. After all, the BBC have made sure that we've all heard the ridiculously simplistic views of people like James Dyson (who thinks it's fine to just "walk away" from pre-existing UK/EU financial commitments) and Tim Martin (who thinks English sparkling wine is superior to Champagne). In this advert it's pretty obvious that the guy running Pimlico Plumbers is unhappy about Brexit, he's not alone! 

I'm thinking seriously about heading up to London on Saturday afternoon now..

Reminder from a Remainer IX

This is the bit where the denials start (i.e. when it's beyond obvious that the whole thing is a festering shit-bag).. 

Queasy images..

A static image that looks like it's moving when you stare at it, don't gawp for too long though, I did and it made me feel slightly queasy!

Wrong type of cable?

Nothing like a bit of Autumnal rail chaos to brighten up your day. Reading station absolutely rammed this morning due to an issue with overhead cables between Maidenhead and Paddington (apparently they were shredded by one of the new trains) meaning that there were no services from the West of the country getting into London at all. The only route still limping along was from Reading into Waterloo (a local service) for which this (see picture) was the queue. I always find it best to try to relax when faced with situations like this, often you see people getting madder and madder to the point of super-nova but in the greater scheme of things it's only one day and there are plenty of nice coffee shops and bars in Reading to wile away a couple of hours* doing email while the crowds disperse..

*Update - gave up waiting, life too short, went home :(

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer VIII

Handy list for Brexiters needing to create their own masturbatory narratives for why they made what will probably turn out to be the most culturally divisive and economically destructive decision in British political history..

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Jingle bells?

I noticed that our local supermarket now has an official "Christmas section", it's only October and still warm enough to wear a tee shirt outside but for those people that need a fix of mince pies and stollen cake they have it covered!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Smirk

So, it seems that according to our High Court Christian (or Muslim/Jewish) bakers are fine refusing to put words on cakes that they think might have offended a few first century goatherds. You have to hand it to the Christians in question, their persistence in finding a suitable loop-hole for their prejudices has been exemplary. In summary they came up with the "love the sinner, hate the sin" defense, although since that was a saying of St. Augustine in the fourth century, you'd have thought they would have come up with the idea a bit quicker and saved a few quid for the roof-appeal? 

Personally I think gay people that own businesses should now consider if they are able to serve anyone believing in any of the Abrahamic religions, you know, owing to the various homicidal dogmas against them encouraged by their various "holy" books. I can think of quite a few great bars, restaurants, theaters and pubs that would be off-limits;I'd love to be a fly-on-the-wall for that thought experiment. It would never happen of course, most gay people I know are pretty secular in outlook, and would put tolerance and sensible business practices way above the petty pedantry involved in the selective interpretation of bronze-age literature.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Slow news day..

So rapper Kanye West (and no, I can't name a single song of his either) visited the Trump at the Whitehouse to chat! (bet that conversation ran deep) West, that master of meretriciousness who doesn't like books, once said "time is a myth"... wonder when he said that..

Hard questions..

This cartoon probably encapsulates most debates I have with most people most of the time, and it's not only Science that helps you get the "right" answer but more often than not just simple reason! It's amazing how far you can get just thinking seriously and rationally about what might be so, using the evidence (or lack of it) rather than emotions, feelings and what you would like to be true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Evidence dear boy

Another excellent J&M today, pointing out the blind-spot that many religious people seem to have in that they can't understand why an atheist like me thinks their belief in supernatural entities are flimsy at best and downright ludicrous at worst, but, have no problem at all discounting the beliefs of other religions, often for exactly the same reasons (i.e. lack of evidence)

Hanging around in London

I was up in town again yesterday and it was such a nice day that I decided to walk to my meeting from Paddington station. This took me past Marble Arch and down Oxford Street, on the way I passed this little memorial. If you didn't know it was there you'd miss it, it's set into the middle of a traffic island and commemorates the site of the famous Tyburn Tree, essentially a gallows where many of London's criminals (and Catholic martyrs) were dispatched from 1196 through to 1783. In those days public executions were a spectator event, crowds would often line the streets from Newgate prison to Tyburn as prisoners were transferred in open top carts to meet their unfortunate fates. Many were destined for dissection after their execution, I suppose there's always an upside if you look hard enough. Several people also survived their hanging, some being reprieved after 30 minutes dancing the "Tyburn jig" as suffocating body spasms were known. In 1740 William Duell was hanged but, showing impeccable timing, came round on the surgeons table hours later! He had his sentence commuted to transportation, I'm not entirely sure if that represents good luck or merely delaying the inevitable?

In the illustration below it shows what the scene might have looked like back in the day.

I often find it amusing that many people look back at scenes like this and think that this represents the "good old days", fortunately thanks to the evolution of secular ethics, we've come a long way since then, and thank goodness!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Peak cookies?

Had this beauty on Saturday, it's an imperial chocolate stout called "Accept all Cookies" by my local craft brewer Siren in collaboration with American (Florida) brewer Slim Pickens. It's a 9.3% imperial stout made with lactose, cacao nibs and husks, Muscovado and vanilla, it tasted just like the famous Ben and Jerry's cookie dough ice-cream, but with alcohol and bubbles! It was a very nice drink, but I could only manage a half, after that it would probably get a bit cloying, not to mention make you fall over! 

It's amazing the kinds of mouthfeel that brewers manage to achieve with stouts and imperial stouts these days, an almost treacle like consistency that is both sweet and bitter at the same time (if that's not a contradiction). There are many such beers on the market at the moment and I can't help wondering if we've seen peak-cookie yet? Much like haziness in beers particularly extreme appearance or taste attributes tend to be limited in their scope of interest as people discover them and get excited until their hype threshold is reached and then re-discover older styles or a new one comes along. 

The modern brewing market seems to be a bit like that these days, one hype-cycle after another! Long may it continue as, personally, I'm a fairly superficial type and my attention span is short! Of course I always tell people that I just love trying new things which, as we all know, on a CV is code for "flighty".. 

Monday Mirth

Planning a city break at the moment, saw this, made me smile...

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Old and New

New business meets old business...

Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday Smirk

What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Lies, damn lies and...

Pretty much every piece of software these days is "AI" if you believe the marketing twerps - we have definitely reached the top of the hype-curve, as we all know, the trough of disillusionment is next.. 

Birthday bash

It was my birthday yesterday so my wife and I took a day off work and travelled up to London to have a lazy lunch and to potter around a bit, take in a museum or two. I'm pleased to report it was a lovely day. We started in the Tate Britain and ogled the Turners, Blakes and the Constables then we headed over to Hackney Wick to try out Tom Brown's new restaurant called "Cornerstone" the food was outstanding (mackerel pate to die for and boy oh boy the carrots, just amazing) and all pretty reasonable too, although as you can see from the photo the location is a bit scary. More East-end hipster than West-end swank. The staff were great too, they even knew it was my birthday (we didn't tell them) I guess they knew from the booking system, anyway a couple of free champagnes were waiting for us when we arrived!

After a long delicious lunch we headed back to Covent Garden and had a little mooch around the shops then ducked into Lowlander for a handful of chips with mayonnaise and a nice Belgian beer (or two - see below) then a quick hop across to Paddington and home. I must say I was a little slow getting to full revs. this morning and I'm expecting to sleep quite well this evening but we had a great time.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018


If you thought the dilemma faced when you find out (too late) that there's no toilet paper was bad how about this one?

Youth employment

Been interviewing youngsters for jobs recently, can't get this cartoon out of my head :)

Naked religion

Here's a weird story... Canadian police attended the scene of a collision last year and to their astonishment found five deranged and aggressive Jehovah's Witnesses, four of them stark naked! As the story unfolded it transpired that the group had come to believe that they were living through the "great tribulation" a mythical period of suffering in which Jesus would return. The fact that they hadn't eaten for 3 days may well have contributed to them being a bit cranky but the nakedness probably speaks to much deeper repressed feelings. Anyway apparently there was also some neighbours involved who were rescued kidnapped by the group but managed to escape, and when the police arrived the JW's thought they were "monsters" hell bent on killing them! And there was I thinking "Thought for the Day" was often a bit odd.

If you ever wondered what harm (in this real-world) religion can do to otherwise perfectly sane people then look no further, if you abandon logic and reason like these folks, then anything is possible.

Traditional Fraudulent Medicine

Apologies for the sickening image but sometimes it's necessary to bring home the impact that certain belief systems have in the real-world. In this case the system in question is called "Traditional Chinese Medicine" or TCM, a set of beliefs and practices that claim to cure diseases but are mostly about simple placebo. It should be obvious to most intelligent (un-indoctrinated) people that consuming the bile from a bear does nothing but cause countless bears misery and early death. Many people claim that there is some scientific evidence that things like bear bile have useful chemical compounds in them, this is unlikely, but even if true, all of these compounds have long be manufactured artificially or have suitable non-harmful natural substitutes. Bears are not the only victims of TCM, tigers, rhinos, sea-horses, snakes and even rarer animals such as pangolins are killed and various bits of them ground up to make magic elixirs and potions that people are told make them more virile and other such nonsense. Sometimes natural sources do provide real medicines, it's worth noting that the main compound in Aspirin is found in the bark of the Willow but we no longer decimate a river-bank every time someone has a headache. We don't need to hang onto hundreds of bogus claims just because one or two proved useful when we isolated and extracted the active chemicals and figured out how to deliver an effective dose.

Recently the WHO (World Health Organisation) endorsed TCM as a set of medical practices, this is an outrage. The WHO is supposed to be devoted to improving the health and medical care of people around the world, but in this instance seems to have taken a big step back toward medieval times. The motivation (of course) is money, the TCM market is worth $50 billion and without the need to prove efficacy through exhaustive testing and rigorous double-blind clinical trials I expect the margins are irresistible to the unscrupulous. There is no good reason to use Chinese medicine, you may as well insert any name and the effect is the same, French medicine, Aboriginal medicine or even Boggy Bottom medicine! (it's in Hertfordshire) If something works it's simply called "Medicine", the vast majority of TCM doesn't work and therefore isn't medicine and shouldn't be sold to gullible people along with false claims; the term for this is "fraudulent medicine"..

Monday, October 01, 2018

Reminder from a Remainer VII

Our "leaders" look like donkeys at this point...