Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Believe it or not this butterfly was hit by a train! On my lunchtime walk today I had to pass under a railway bridge, I did so just as the fast train from Gatwick was passing over. This little critter fluttered down as I was walking past. Such vivid colours, such distinct shapes, an amazing evolutionary adaptation to scare and avoid predators , just beautiful.

Progress update

- Since the referendum results, investment in the UK car manufacturing sector has fallen from £4.5 billion to less than £0.25 billion (we export 60% of cars we make to the EU)

- Sterling is now trading at 1.21 against the Dollar, down from 1.48 in 2016, against the Euro it's performed similarly badly, down from 1.40 in 2016  to 1.09 yesterday.

- We've spent roughly a billion pounds of taxpayer money on Brexit preparations so far, the cost is predicted to exceed £2 billion.

- Aviva is moving £7.8 billion in assets from the UK to Ireland (Feb 2019)

- BOA Merrill Lynch is moving it's HQ from London to Paris and is transferring 125 jobs to Dublin

- Barclays has moved £166 billion of client assets to Dublin from London

- British steel risks going into administration with 4,000 jobs on the line (with 20,000 jobs in the supply chain)

- Dyson is moving it's HQ from the UK to Singapore

- Ford is cutting jobs in the UK, threatening the viability of three major plants in the UK

- Goldman Sachs is moving staff to the continent ahead of Brexit

- Honda is closing manufacturing in Swindon, culling 3,500 jobs

- Jaguar Land-Rover is cutting 4,500 jobs, the firm currently employs 44,000 people in the UK

- JP Morgan Chase is removing 4,000 positions from London and moving to Frankfurt

- Lloyds is opening a new EU base, transferring business to a Brussels subsidiary by 2020

- Nissan is abandoning manufacture of it's new X-Trail SUV in Sunderland, relocating to Japan instead

- Panasonic is moving it's European HQ to Amsterdam

- Philips is losing 430 jobs in the UK, all roles being transferred to Holland.

- Rolls-Royce is cutting 4,600 jobs in Derby by 2020, moving aero engine production to Germany

- Sony is moving it's European HQ from London to Amsterdam

- UBS is choosing Frankfurt as the base for EU operations over London

- Unilever has abandoned dual HQ plans and is making Rotterdam it's EU HQ.

Now you could argue that these things may have happened anyway and that Brexit is just a coincidence, but, that's a bit like trying to argue that our planet isn't getting warmer when the hottest 10 years on record (since the 1800's) have all happened since 2002, i.e. not likely. Brexit is likened to the UK's "Vietnam", the only difference is that the people of the UK are fighting and paying on BOTH sides!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


Having been on the receiving end of some management training recently this little cartoon rang bells. During the course we were supposed to define what our "10 year goals" were, laughably some people actually took this seriously! Honestly, if a single group of people could agree on a single set of goals over such a long period of time in such an uncertain economic climate with no idea what's going to happen next we would all live in a very different world than the one we do, we should leave that kind of wish-thinking to religion.

Monday, July 29, 2019


There's a story breaking today about a couple in Oxfordshire who have removed their children from assemblies at a local primary school because they object to them being told by teachers that Christian mythology (i.e. Noah's flood, Crucifixion/Resurrection, Good Samaritan etc.) are literally true. The couple claim that the school made their children take part in Christian prayer and watch re-enactments of Bible stories. It seems as though the NSS have taken up support for their case in offering a legal challenge to the school board for not providing their children access to inclusive assemblies representing a plurality of people having many faith based traditions and none.

I suspect this is quite a common issue among primary schools run by Church organisations, my own children had Christianity forced down their throats on many occasions, both by evangelical teachers acting on their own and also by the institutions themselves in the form of compulsory worship etc. My Wife and I were fairly relaxed about it since we have raised them to think critically for themselves and fortunately (so far) that seems to have acted as a kind of inoculation against this kind of thing. Like most parents we have no issue at all with religious studies, in fact my Son ended up doing an A-Level in Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics and found it to be his favourite subject (the Philosophy bits at least) The real problem here are teachers teaching young children in a state funded organisations that idea that their supernatural "beliefs" are true. No one has a problem with people believing whatever they like or even sending their kids to private religious schools, but, in a modern pluralistic society they shouldn't get the right to indoctrinate everyone else's kids with those beliefs on the taxpayers dollar.

Threatening advertising

Interesting catch-phrase from Delta airlines, very easy to mis-read and feel rejected or even somehow threatened. Can't imagine what kind of marketing pitch for an airline came up with the idea that being "out" in the world would be a good thing to think about while travelling at 30,000 feet in a metal tube..

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Spent a lovely weekend down in the New Forest attending a good friend's birthday bash, stayed in Brockenhurst and was quite excited on Saturday to have a couple of hours of down-time and the possibility of visiting one of my favourite breweries of the moment nearby in Hardley. The brewery in question is called Vibrant Forest and seems to be on top form currently, unfortunately though my Wife wasn't as keen to visit as I was, to be honest I can't blame her, we did only have a couple of hours and the prospect of 25 minutes in a hot car verses sitting in a pub garden in Brockenhurst wasn't a balanced equation in anyone's books. Luckily we took a stroll through the village instead and came across a little wine bar called "The Sett" low and behold they stocked a nice little range of Vibrant Forest beers and a few other local offerings to boot (see board above), we sat in the sun and scoffed a wonderful platter of cheese and bread with our beverages, the missus had a couple of glasses of white and I necked a couple of local brews, very nice they were too. I think we've reached a point in the UK now where it's almost possible to get locally sourced craft beer pretty much anywhere, much like cask beer in the 70s and 80s, the craft movement is becoming totally pervasive, onward and upward!

Friday, July 26, 2019


Gender and gender expression are topics that seems to generate quite a lot of "heat" in this era of political correctness and virtue signalling. As far as the science is concerned there are two things, biological sex, which can only be male or female and then there is gender expression which is much more fluid and can involve many combinations and permutations. I think it is important that we don't confuse these two things, particularly in legal settings. On a passport, for example, I think it is important to record biological sex or gender, but not gender expression, which I believe is none of the business of the person reading the passport and should not be a factor in any action (i.e. allowing entry to a country) resulting from reading such a document. In some situations it seems as though people are confusing what they are with what they would like to be, both are real and deserving of Human dignity, it's just that they're not the same thing.

Friday Smirk

I love the smell of a good pun in the morning...

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Who needs experts..

I've lost count of the number of times I've watched the inevitable car-crash of a bunch of people trying to implement a data-processing system using spreadsheets or isolated reporting tools. It ALWAYS ends up wasting time, money and emotional energy, ultimately being discarded and started again (usually with exactly the same flaws) The strange thing is that many people seem unable to learn this simple lesson, which is just the classic "stitch in time" one, not complicated but indicative of the fact that most people don't understand either data or software and yet when combined with ego and arrogance (who needs experts!), some software tools are simple enough to use (superficially) to sucker them into thinking that they do. I've given up trying to talk people down on this, these days I simply refuse to get involved at all, more useful things to do with my life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mid-Week Mirth

J&M pointing out the bleeding obvious for us again. If you suppress a key part of a Human Being's biological and hormonal make-up, i.e. the desire to have sex as  a result of hormonal activity in their bodies and brains then it tends to make them a little cranky, sometimes even deviant.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


So apparently the hairpiece in chief is super excited and pleased that Bojo has been elected leader of the Tory party and by default Prime Minister of the UK, he even praised the Farage to boot. I was wondering why it was so bloody hot today, it seems that we have in fact gone to hell in a hand-basket.

Management training

Been doing some management training stuff lately with an external facilitator/trainer, some of it is OK but some of it I have to distract myself by counting the number of logical fallacies I hear over the course of 10 minutes or so. False equivalences, analogies and equivocation fallacies are the most common although we did get a Motte-and-bailey fallacy, some kettle logic and a few fallacies of composition. Some might say it's money for old-rope but that might just be an Argumentum ad populum on my part.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Awesome (right) stuff

Loving all the stuff on telly at the moment about the Moon landings, I especially like this photo. It has the enviable context of being a photo that captures (indirectly) every single Human Being in existence at the time, apart from Michael Collins who was behind the camera, pretty awesome.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday Smirk

Listening to DD on the TV the other day, talk about fluff and bluster, an utterly content free individual in my estimation, why the BBC still treat him like someone would should be involved in the debate is beyond me, the man has nothing useful to say, he had a big job, he totally failed and now seems to spend his time being paid to tell everyone what "should" have happened... nice work if you can get it..

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Imaginary worlds

This cartoon is so true, many people have this image of software and technology that is totally based on (imaginary) movie representations of it and honestly believe, what I call, the "War Games" (or Superman III) version of reality. One of the best ways of hacking someone's system I've ever encountered is to leave a virus infected memory stick in the car-park of a large corporation, it's almost guaranteed that someone will pick it up and slot it into their computer thinking they've gotten something for nothing. Basic Human nature, often the weakest link in the stuff we do.


Excellent J&M cartoon pointing out the logical inconsistencies present in many of the "theistic" narratives. Many religious people seem unable to countenance the possibility that their particular God might not be all-powerful or omniscient and omnipresent etc. It's a bit like a toddler being unable to admit that their dad might just not be as big as your dad, an obviously childish and human-ego driven emotional thing that is universal to our species, shame they don't see that, could have prevented much bloodshed over the millennia.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mid-Week Mirth

After the latest BSA survey results management at the head office of the Church of England have issued a prophets warning.. (old but still good)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hard currency

Sterling turns out to be the worst performing currency over the last day, month and year! This must be what the Brexiters were harping on about when they talked about "taking back control"? So glad that's worked out well for us, oh well, at least we're going to have blue passports again, shame we won't be able to afford to go abroad anymore...

Overdue acknowledgements

It's about time this country recognized Alan Turing, his huge contribution to our freedom as a nation in the 1940's and then the huge injustice dealt to him by a homophobic establishment in the 1950's. That period of time seemed to be dominated by closed minded, conservative philosophies, witch hunts were de rigueur back then and alarmingly seem to have regained ground in recent years, let's hope that this small symbol adds some friction to movement of the zeitgeist in that direction.

Monday, July 15, 2019


A wonderful feast of sport on the telly this weekend, my Son and I spent a lovely day yesterday watching the cricket world cup final and were, along with the rest of the country, hyped up into a frenzy of anxiety and delight as the run-chase came to it's ultimate climax. We also had one eye on the tennis and the Grand-Prix but to be honest the cricket won out, we all learned about "super-overs" and bylaws on resolving draws via boundaries in an utterly compelling match the likes of which will almost certainly not occur again in my lifetime.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Only in America

In a routine traffic stop in Florida of a stolen SUV an Oklahoma couple revealed that they were in possession of the following items,

- A rattlesnake
- Radioactive Uranium
- Hand guns
- An open bottle of Kentucky Whiskey

Either they were trying to manufacture some kind of new Marvel character or it was going to be one hell of a party !

Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Smirk

Classic state religion, what's mine is mine but the rest of you buggers have to pay for it anyway because, er.. we used to be popular and powerful and charity and stuff...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Minority rule

The latest British Social Attitudes Survey showing some interesting results. Religious people in this country are now a minority and in particular the state-religion (Anglicanism) can only muster 12% of the population as followers, this is particularly true of the 18-24 age group where only 1% are church-going. Whilst these statistics could be viewed by many as fairly innocuous, those of us in favor of a properly secular constitution in the UK (i.e. where religion and state are separate and no particular religion or none is given special privileges) see it as further grist to the mill that change in this area is well overdue.

A quick wine..

Tried a new wine (for me) last Friday evening, we decided to crack open this little beauty from South Africa. Called "Anwilka" (2012 vintage). Anwilka started life as a collaboration between famous Bordeaux producers Bruno Prats and Hubert de Bouard and local boy Lowell Jooste, but has since been merged with a larger SA producer (Klein Constantia). It's from the Stellenbosch area (near Cape Town) and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot and it's delicious, you can really taste the French influence on this, a classy drop, deep, layered, rich dark fruits displaying great balance. Quite pricey compared to supermarket plonk but dirt cheap compared to even a low-end classed growth from Bordeaux, normally around £25 for a bottle but I picked this one up in the BBR (Berry Bros & Rudd) bin-end sale for less than £20, one to look out for.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mid-Week Mirth

At least Thanos had a coherent reason for killing everyone, i.e. over-population. Yahweh on the other hand seemed to do it just because he was pissed off that people didn't suck up to him with sufficient goat sacrifices... 

Vive la difference!

Years ago traditional (large) brewers created a couple of recipes and spent their entire time and energy attempting to replicate those beers over and over and over again, seldom selling or making anything different, this was seen as a positive thing. The argument was consistency and building a following for your particular beer, but as with many other things (such as religions, politics or food) the "spooky" thing was that people's "preference" was simply the beer that was available to them in their local pub, they seldom ventured far from home, i.e. not really an informed "preference" at all.

These days things have changed, many people have a preference for variety over consistency, and exhibit a low tolerance for the same old beer week in and week out. My local craft brewer (Siren) for example has been producing a series of beers over the last couple of years called their "suspended in" series (see picture above). The idea was to showcase different hops and ingredients on top of the same base beer and "suspended in X" was born, where X is different varieties of hops and other adjuncts (yeasts/ingredients), pretty much a new one every month. A wonderful idea and a huge success, this kind of initiative is illustrative of the revolution that's happened in brewing over the last 10 years, for those of us interested in understanding and experiencing different flavours and tastes, vive la difference!


Yay - religion soaked Northern Ireland about to enter the 1980's ...

Saturday, July 06, 2019


Our local brewery (Siren) were showcasing the new artwork for the upcoming release of their beer in cans. Here are four examples on show at the brewery bar, very impressive they look too. I guess these days with so many craft beers turning up on supermarket shelves etc. that you need to ensure that your stuff stands out for those people not necessarily familiar with the name/product/brand etc. Wine labels have been going this way for years, most non-wine-geeks I know buy most of their wine based on the label rather than the wine/producer per se, it makes sense that beer tracks the same way.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Friday Smirk II

Ha ha! - looks like bath-time round our house when the kids were toddlers :)

News roundup

What if a Government official speaking from the inner circle of the Prime Minister called for "Muslims to be hunted down", do you think there might be some kind of public reaction? Of course there would, and rightly so, it would represent the worst kind of authoritarian intolerance imaginable, but.. In Malaysia a government official (Shahidan Kassim) seem quite happy saying the exact same thing about Atheists, this is what happens when evolved primates become delusional enough to believe that they have their "god" on their side. Sadly another country on a downward fundamentalist/populist trajectory and struck off my to-visit list until the people there wake up to reality (not that politicians in the UK are much better on the topic of "hunting").

In more enlightened news, how about a machine that plays perfect 10 pin bowling, impossible you say? How about this... wow!

Then to cap off a perfect week we have the hair-piece in chief making a complete balls-up of an independence day speech, apparently the continental army took control of the airports during the war of independence in 1775... Looks like Hollywood will be quick to celebrate this momentous historical discovery...

Such displays of political, historical and intellectual failure isn't restricted to our trans-Atlantic cousins, like our Women's football team on the pitch, here in the UK we have very credible competition for our American friends in the ignorance league! Witness Ann Widdecombe in this incredible display of ahistorical shite and a complete lack of self-awareness, she claims that membership of the EU is like "slavery". I didn't realise the slaves of the triangular trade could vote, had freedom of speech and movement or standardized industrial safety legislation - this changes everything! (she is an embarrassment to the entire nation!)

Suitably depressed now? Don't be, just smile, this is the stuff Fridays are made for, just need a beer now!

Friday Smirk

J&M pointing out is his inimitable way that pots shouldn't call kettles black, or is that racist now?

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Travelling man

It's amazing what the internet and tracking technology can achieve these days, above is a (free) live track of a plane flying from London to the USA, the aircraft contains my Son who is visiting an old school friend who now lives there. Of course I'm interested in the progress of this particular flight but there are so many planes in the air at once that you have to use a setting in on this web-site to render them invisible otherwise you can't see the wood for the trees! The track is very accurate too, we were able to predict the exact moment the plane flew over our house (which is near to one of the Heathrow flight paths) and I snapped a picture for posterity (see below)

It's also impossible to point a camera into the sky in the South East of England these days and not snap at least one aircraft passing over somewhere..

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Mid-Week Mirth

Did I mention that it was hot in London this weekend :)

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

One for the road?

In a move reminiscent of the worst kind of environmental terrorism or in other words a blatant disregard for the natural environment (essentially "giving the finger" to the international community) Japan has restarted whaling after 30 years, this is against all scientific and ethical consensus elsewhere on this (shared) planet. According to commentators in the know this is a populist move made by a weak politician looking to buy votes from the ignorant and ill-informed among their population; so I guess you could argue that Japan is simply catching up with the rest of us over here in the UK (Brexit), USA (Trump), Russian (Putin) and so on, the political class milking the ignorant seems to be de-rigeur these days. Watching populist politicians is a sport like watching very drunk people at the bar arguing with a hesitant barman that they should be able free to drink more alcohol. We annihilated whale populations to the brink of extinction and we continue to destroy their environment and kill them indirectly with plastic pollution and global warming, now Japan is arguing that they should still be free to kill "one or two for the road".. 

Japan is not the only country claiming that killing whales is "part of their culture", Norway and Iceland have similar "fuck-you" attitudes to whaling, my view is that if your culture insists that you should be free to kill other sentient beings (when there are plenty of alternative sources of protein) to the point of extinction then, I'm sorry, but your culture sucks!

Monday, July 01, 2019

Proving the negative

I relate to this cartoon, it's a large feature of the kinds of questions I get asked all the time and have to answer with more or less degrees of success. Technology (particularly software) is a bit like "magic" to most people, you can't see it, feel it, smell it etc. and yet it controls so much of what we do these days. Consequently many are often unable to place an idea within the bounds of reality, they struggle to put it into any of the usual boxes that decision makers need to put things in, for example, is an idea, impossible, possible but hard or perhaps even easy? 

Sometimes things are easy to say but impossible to do, for example "predict the lottery numbers". However, some people I've met actually think this is something that might be "possible but hard" using technologies like "artificial intelligence". Of course such a view betrays a lack of understanding of both the problem space (i.e. probability) but also of what something like AI in it's current forms can and can't actually do. Quite often when someone's bubble is burst by an expert the response is "yeah but you can't prove it isn't", and the answer to that is simply that as a collective our species has invested time and energy in understanding both problem spaces and the possible solution spaces and in this case, they simply don't overlap. Of course, we can never really "know" anything with perfect certainty but we can know things to such a degree of certainty that for practical purposes we may as well deem them as "known", death and taxes for example.

The challenge of the "expert" is particularly acute when the detractor is someone who is charismatic, particularly ignorant, has financial backing and political connections, think, Brexit, Climate-change denial, Anti-vaxxers, creationists et al, sometimes people prefer to judge you based on your accent and haircut rather than investing precious energy in understanding what you're saying, charlatans thrive in such environments.