Saturday, October 31, 2020

Yesterday


It's properly Autumn now, the trees around here are dropping their leaves like there's no tomorrow, although having heard the news this afternoon about the impending nation-wide lock-down it looks like tomorrow will probably be significantly more boring than today!

 

Classic Verdant


My usual Friday night tipple was a hazy number from Cornish maestros Verdant called "Even Sharks Need Water", I'm not sure what the reference is about and I've tried this one before (see review here) but the beer was still a corker (no water required!). Murky, lots of citrus and stone fruits, slight bitterness and a really soft mouth feel, classic Verdant.

 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Older = Wiser?


It's strange isn't it, many people you encounter in life love nothing better than to view the past through rose tinted spectacles. Even modern marketing is often aimed squarely at convincing people that some shiny new product is based on "ancient wisdom". New-age entrepreneurs often make fortunes from convincing people that their products and services are based on a centuries old "Native Indian" recipe and most religions sit upon a foundation of perceived authority based on nothing more than longevity (and perhaps dead languages and elaborate hats). 

Why is it that some people automatically feel that the past was better? Perhaps it's because the past is safe, it's past after all and because of that is free to be interpreted any way you like at no cost. The future on the other hand is scary, no one knows what will happen, you only need to look how 2020 has panned out to see that, the past is safe and the future is scary, the only real toehold we have on anything is the present moment. So, the next time you hear someone banging on about how great things were in the past remind them of a few vital statistics (i.e. facts) about the present which put the skids under their thesis..

- The likelihood of a violet death has never been lower that now
- Child mortality is at its lowest level ever now.
- Ten years ago half the people in developing countries lived below the poverty line, today it's 12%
- Sharing ideas has never been easier, the World's information is available to anyone with a phone
- Life expectancy is at it's highest levels ever

Of course, there is no law of physics that says in terms of wellbeing, we can't go back as well as forward! Global pandemics are a blip on that trajectory and climate change may well prove to be somewhat more of a cliff! However, it's probably safe to say that it's very difficult to unlearn things and regardless of a few steps back, on the scale of civilizations we can well afford a bit more optimism about the present now and again.

 

Friday Smirk


Excellent J&M today (as usual) echoing some of my thoughts on this issue earlier in the week.

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Asylum Britain


Here's an interesting map, it's interesting not because of what's there but because of what's missing. This country (UK but especially England) is set to become totally and utterly isolated, commercially, culturally and institutionally! There's even a real possibility that the UK will split up into three or four different countries because of it, something that hasn't seemed likely since the 1700s! But, the real kicker about this story is that we chose to do this to ourselves! Welcome to lunatic asylum Britain!..

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

I hope they can swim..

 


It's quite unbelievable to me that people would stage violent (anti-mask/lockdown) protests about Biological facts that stand contrary to their personal wishes (King Canute anyone?). People gathering in large (tightly packed) numbers during a world-wide pandemic of a potentially lethal virus would superficially seem like ideal candidates for the Darwin Awards and this would be funny if it weren't always other (innocent) people that bear the brunt of this kind of criminal indifference. Still, whatever hardships some people think having to finish drinking by 10pm and wearing a paper mask in shops may imply, I suspect that we haven't seen the half of it yet! Wait until we pile a no-deal Brexit on top of it all, when we see certain drug supplies running out, food prices going through the roof and half of Kent tarmacked over and turned into a giant lorry park while they wait for IT systems that don't work properly. Then, as the whole sorry mess drags on through Winter and we layer on top of all that, record rain fall, extreme flooding (I hope those Canute wannabe's can swim!), ultra-violent storms and the wrong kind of snow.. 

Ah well, not to worry, Christmas soon.

Solution oriented


It's alarming how little rationality there is in the world, it's amazing we ever made it this far when you think about it! The inquisitiveness of a few supporting the ignorance of the many.

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Money talks


A lot of people are getting hot under the collar over France defending (robustly) it's citizen's right to freedom of speech. It's ironic that in a situation where a dogma-soaked lunatic murders a junior school teacher for blasphemy against Islam, that these countries feel the problem here are the cartoons! It's even more ironic that there are plenty of "real" injustices and atrocities happening to Muslims all over the world but these apparently don't even register on the radar of places like Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan! I suppose it speaks to their sincerity on such issues as well as the fragility of the regimes in those places. They seem to be intent on picking the lowest hanging fruit in terms of things to take "offence" at, and it seems totally transparent to the rest of us that this is completely intended to distract their largely impoverished and indoctrinated populations from the fact that their freedoms, prospects and opportunities are comparatively crap compared to ours.

I'm fully behind what France is doing, it's a fundamental principal of their culture that people have the right to freedom of expression and conscience. I fear that our own Government, although supposedly supportive of the same fundamental rights, would never be so robust. Theocratic bullies and the money men that sit in power behind them have always existed, and still exist in many states. They are bullies like any other and employ the same tactics, but, as we all learn in the school playground bullies can be defeated by standing up to them. So, project the cartoons onto buildings and print them in every newspaper! To those people who argue that they deserve "respect" for their religious beliefs then I say that first they need to show a bit of "respect" themselves, condoning the beheading of innocent people over stupid fucking cartoons definitely isn't the way to do that!






 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Flat mates?


I always find it amazing that there appears to exist people who are apparently sincere about believing that our planet is flat. Goodness knows how they explain flying in a plane across the international date-line but in any case, there's so much obvious evidence (including photographic) for the Earth being a globe that it's almost impossible for any rational person to take such an opinion seriously. So, should we ignore, feel sad for or simply mock these people? Personally I think it depends on the context, if the person is obviously sincere and questioning, and not trying to proselytize then perhaps a softly, softly approach is best? Non-confrontational, respectful but firm and factual in a presentation of the evidence that refutes the position. On the other hand if the person is standing on a soap-box in Hyde park corner trying to flog their nonsense (or even tee-shirts!), then the gloves should be off! Humor, ridicule and satire are often the best ways to introduce doubt into people's eyes, perhaps not the zealots or the hucksters, but certainly the bystanders and the agnostics. 

 

Monday Mirth


Never trust a story that doesn't stand up to basic arithmetic..

 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Blankets


Yes, well observed, they could very well be!

 

The can can


Well, it's the weekend again and yesterday while rustling up some tea for the fam it was time for my Friday evening treat! A cracker from one of my favourite breweries, Verdant, it's a beer that I've had on cask before over at a pub in Caversham but never tried it from can. I can confirm it's delicious from can too, perhaps even edging it slightly! I do love a good can when I can..!

 

Saturday Smirk


Here's a church I feel many of us might belong to..

 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Randi series


I'm thinking of doing a little series of the achievements and quotes of James Randi (who died this week), the more you look into them the more you realise he was a pretty decent and rational bloke (even Nike thinks so..).

 

Bish bosh


According  to  this chap (Bishop Ussher) the universe is 6024 years old today, so many happy returns Universe! The only slight problem with his claim is that we have trees still growing today that are older. Never mind, it wasn't his fault, his sources were highly problematic and he was brainwashed as a child into believing childish things as an adult. Anyway, also not his fault that he didn't live to see the birth of the science of Geology and radiometric dating techniques, so maybe we shouldn't bash him too much...

Be skeptical!


Glad to see the Minister for Equalities pointing out that "Critical Race Theory" (calling it a "theory" is a stretch) is not only inappropriate to be teaching in schools (because it's bollocks) but its also illegal. It's a shame that many people with perfectly good brains on the "left" of the house can't quite find it in themselves to point out the obvious flaws and dangers inherent in treating people differently depending on immutable characteristics of their phenotype's, i.e. skin colour or gender. I also agree with the Minister that BLM (in the UK at least) is an organization with some highly dubious goals, like the destruction of capitalism for example, be careful what you wish for, as someone smart once said! Be skeptical, do your research and always check your sources!

 

Friday Smirk


The usual high standard from the Jesus and Mo strip today. It's amusing when believers try to argue against materialists by claiming that we can't possibly know anything for sure because science is always provisional (i.e. until new evidence is found). It's a good job for them that they've found away of getting around this universal absolute, i.e. eyes shut, fingers in ears and just hoping that what you've been told by the man in the impressive hat is true.. what could possibly go wrong?
 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Randi RIP


I read today the James Randi the magician and all round skeptic has passed away at the age of 92. I've watched much of what's available online of his, it's mostly magic tricks and old TV shows but there's also a lot of material regarding his investigative efforts around supernatural claims and ultimately debunking them. Randi was a well known Atheist and skeptic, he trod where others often feared to treat (i.e. on sacred cows) and should be applauded for his exposing of hucksters and frauds who spent their lives fleecing vulnerable and gullible people of their cash. The scourge of woo woo fans everywhere, he famously offered $1M to anyone who could demonstrate paranormal abilities under scientific conditions, hundreds tried, not a single one succeeded (not even by chance), he rests his case.



 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lame ducks


Loving the logic of this message, it's true that the Government wastes billions of our hard earned cash on complete lame ducks, its even worse in a crisis especially a medical one and it's easy to argue that "the people" are where it's top priority should lie. The problem is always "which people" of course, if Manchester is made a special case the bar would then be set for all the other cities in the country, at which point the 60 million starts to look like small fry. Still good points well made, what is clear is that the Government is out of it's depth and the virus has overtaken the policy at this point.

 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Duck and cover


Lot's of people getting very agitated about lockdown restrictions coming back, it seems especially prevalent in the North of the country where the cases are accelerating fastest. Whilst I am no fan of this Government at all, believe me I would fire the lot of them if I were king of the world! I also don't believe that delaying the inevitable at the expense of people's lives helps much either, we have what we call in the trade a complete shit-show going on at the moment! We're damned if we do and damned if we don't and playing politics over health matters is immoral IMO, whoever does it. I remember back in the day when we had that bizarre public service advertisement about "how to survive a nuclear attack", if I remember correctly it involved hiding under the kitchen table (or was it the stairs) "duck and cover" was the slogan, I'm reminded somewhat of the futility of that today when I hear "hands face space", it seems obvious that this virus is a tough little bugger and once it takes hold in a community only the most unpalatable measures seem to halt it's progress and only temporarily at that. Our choices appear stark, old people's lives verses jobs, clearly it's not as simple as that, but when you boil it down and if you had to personally make the choice, which would you be happier to have on your conscience?

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Vins de Pays


One of my friends asked me if we were "going sober for October" to which I replied, no, we're drinking beer for the rest of the year! Actually, we had a bottle of wine on Saturday evening, for a change, and delicious it was too! I bought this wine quite a while ago (probably around 2008) It's quite well known in its region and is one of those wines that defies the standard French system of wine classification (AOC) by being a bit of a rebel, using grape varieties that it shouldn't for the place it's in (near Avignon/Arles). Consequently it's classified as a "Vins de Pays" or a country wine even though the price it commands is more like a famous Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape estate or a decent Bordeaux chateaux. The wine is made by blending Cabernet Sauvignon (usually a Bordeaux variety) and Syrah (a variety used in the South) and it's fantastic, especially with 15 years of bottle age. It's an elegant wine, somewhat halfway between a Southern Bordeaux and a Northern Rhone, a deep ruby colour with sweet cassis and spice flavours, rich, dense with a lingering finish (9/10). I think I paid around £20 for this wine back in 2008 which felt quite expensive for a Southern French red at the time; you'd struggle to find a bottle for less than £80 now, and probably three times that in a restaurant.

 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Our species is doomed..


Horrified to learn about the terrorist attack on an innocent French Geography teacher in the suburbs of Paris yesterday. Samuel Paty was attacked and killed horrifically by an Islamist terrorist because he was teaching his pupils about free speech and one of the topics he chose to illustrate the issues was the atrocity committed over some Mohammed cartoons at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Once again we see how the influence of unfalsifiable superstitious beliefs combined with indoctrination and delusion lead to murder for "blasphemy" in 2020! People are essentially being killed over cartoons. While these ridiculous beliefs exist and divide us, we can only conclude that our species is ultimately doomed.

 

Supper Traditions


As is tradition in our house I made supper for everyone last night (Friday) and to lubricate the process I cracked open a beer for myself and a poured glass of white for my Wife. The beer was delicious, a real stand-out. Hailing from maestros Verdant (Falmouth, Cornwall) it's called "Neal gets things done" and is a hazy, soft IPA made with four different hops which are, Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson. The result is a complete juice bomb with a slightly "umami" vibe, which sounds like it shouldn't be nice in a beer but is really intriguing and addictive. It's quite strong though, 6.5% ABV hence I only had the one 440ml can, although, fortunately I have another tin in the fridge, so I'm looking forward to repeating the experience later on this evening!

 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Smirk


Good J&M cartoon this week. Pointing out how parochial the needs and wishes of the Abrahamic Gods are. Its funny how the designs and desires of Gods always turns out to be very similar to those of their followers, a lucky coincidence I always think..

 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Ingroup interpretation


I always enjoy casting a rational eye over religious imagery. Here we have an example of something (I have no idea what it's supposed to signify) that I found on the interwebs the other day. It seems to be showing Jesus holding a baby (with his hair on fire) projecting a red, white and blue beam at a crying Woman, mysterious! All I can think of is that perhaps he's punishing a sinner who hurts babies by making her French, or maybe Dutch? Anyway, this interpretation malarkey is clearly an ingroup thing.

 

Angels


Feeling especially blessed today as when I popped into my office for a meeting I found that an angel had visited us! I wonder what this means, perhaps I'm going to come into some money or maybe it's going to be a hard Winter?

Hopefully I'll be there the next time the angel drops by, then I can at least say "halo" (boom, boom)..

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Midweek Mirth


If this is an actual pub and not photoshopped, (which it doesn't look like it is) then I approve! Good to see the political discourse in this country isn't beyond a bit of mockery and puerile banter even in these troubling and aggressively "politically correct" times. Although the imbecilic scenes in that city yesterday were just that in my view.

 

The right thing to do


I'm getting really fed up with people ignoring the whole mask thing indoors, it's come more into focus for me recently as my 16 year old daughter has recently started a weekend job in a local shop. She tells me that around 10-15% of older people (to her that means anyone over about 25!) that come in on a Saturday or Sunday are either not wearing a mask at all or are wearing it incorrectly (usually at half-mast under their noses) What on earth is wrong with some people? You have to think that they are either so stupid that they don't understand how flu-like viruses spread (after everything we've been through this year!) or they are so inconsiderate that they just don't give a shit about anyone else. My Daughters' dilemma is as follows, does she a) tell them to put a mask on and risk abuse or does she b) ignore it and increase her risk of infection? Fortunately for our community she has a backbone and usually chooses for the former option (a) However, even though clearly that's the right thing to do, as her Dad, I'm not sure it makes me feel any better about her situation.

 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Cyber?


What the hell does "retrain for a job in cyber" mean anyway?

 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Monday Mirth - 19 Corvids


Yeah, completely agree about the crow thing, evil looking, noisy things, scary..

 

Hot-spots


Well, looks like the second wave of Covid is well and truly here. The Government are announcing some further restrictions on movement and activity later today and it's expected that hospitality venues will have to shut in certain "hot-spots" in the North of the country as they have done in Scotland. I feel sorry for many sections of our community, at one end of the spectrum, for many elderly people the whole thing must seem completely bewildering at times. I see older people wandering, slightly hesitantly, around in shops and town centres with masks at half-mast, they clearly don't "get it". At the other end we have students who were encouraged to head off to university and who find themselves locked up in their halls of residence with only chocolate bars and dried up sandwiches to eat. This period should have been the best time of their lives but turns out it could be one of the worst. I'm not keen on British Winters at the best of times, I have a feeling that this one coming is going to take the biscuit..

 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Peace and quiet..


Another beery post! It's Saturday evening and I'm cooking a pork belly on fennel for my wife and I, and, since the kids are either out or away at Uni we're splashing out on the fancy cuisine front. While the meat is roasting in the oven I cracked open a new Siren beer obtained from the brewery this very afternoon, as fresh as a daisy and a delightful mash up of intense hoppy/resin flavours with a core of soft orange and mango, decent bitterness too. This IPA (Far Above the World) is made using Australian Galaxy hops which impart very vivid flavours to a beer, usually in the orange/tangerine direction, although it depends on the treatment and style of course. Great start to the evening tho, and the food is smelling lush, it's just started raining here so we're looking forward to getting stuck into a good film and hunkering down on the sofa in peace and quiet (for a change!)..

 

TGIF

 


It's been a hectic week at work and so I was looking forward to chilling out with a beer last night. For a change I thought I'd go for a stout rather than the usual pale ale/IPA so I cracked open this little number from Siren. A stout that's seen some maple wood and aged in old rum barrels, the flavour pick up wasn't huge but there was a nice spicy/boozy background note in the beer along with the usual coffee and cream vibe. Just the job for a chilly Friday evening, I bought a few different stouts in the Summer and I reckon most will improve (up to a point) with a bit of age, should be a good Christmas!

Friday, October 09, 2020

Friday Smirk


J&M this week. Quote mining or in other words finding snippets of out of context text in books that seem to support your position appears to be how you're supposed to "interpret" holy scriptures of most religions these days. This is true even when the sentence following the one "mined" absolutely contradicts the claim, I guess you're supposed to simply ignore that part? It's easy! When debating with believers I always try to ask what or who is behind the so obviously man-made, parochial ideas in their holy books, I never get a coherent answer, leading me to the logical assumption that it's man-made "all the way down"..

 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Breakthroughs


So, it looks like there may be a decent amount of efficacy in a monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid 19. If clinically proven then this is a very interesting development, it's basically a chemical that binds to the surface of the virus and makes it unable to attach itself to the receptors on our cells effectively rendering the virus impotent. In advance of getting a vaccine this could give us a way of giving people a much higher chance of surviving an infection and therefore reducing deaths in the short term. It's exciting work and something I wrote about back in March, if correct it's a real breakthrough.

 

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A Life Examined



Watched David Attenborough's file "A Life on Our Planet" recently, powerful stuff, the man has had a truly wonderful life, however, his main message made me very sad and melancholic. I do hope future generations will treasure our natural environment more than past generations have, I fear it's too late for the current incumbents to change their ways, the only hope seems to lie with our children.
 

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Retirement postponed


It's good to have a sense of humor but seriously the hospitality industry is on it's knees at the moment. It seems likely that many small businesses will go under if current conditions prevail (or get worse) and there's no obvious solution in sight other than a mass vaccination program (fingers crossed that's soon). Good time to be hoovering up distressed assets I suppose. I bet the corporate finance guys are having a field day and I do wonder how this virus lead depression will affect property prices in places like London, especially as firms realise they don't actually need shiny office buildings quite so big anymore. It's hard to see how a general downward hit on real-estate valuations won't have an effect on pension funds in the short term, and there I was hoping to retire soon, oh well..


 

Blame game

 


So, the Government has screwed up again. We're told that 16,000 records of Covid cases were "lost" due to an IT "glitch", the second wave is clearly much further advanced than we were being told it was. It's interesting how the spin doctors position this kind of schoolboy error when it involves technology. There is an implied undercurrent that because it's "technology" that errors like this are unavoidable, hence the word "glitch" rather than "mismanagement" but it's just not true. Even the most junior IT practitioner with half a brain would tell you that any organization shouldn't be using CSV files and Microsoft Excel for critical data work, that's what DATABASES were invented to do over 50 years ago! Not only were this team using the wrong technology for the job but they were even using an out of date version of that technology, one that was current in the 1980's i.e. 30+ years old! Excel is a personal productivity tool aimed at small scale ad-hoc projects, not industrial-scale and mission critical data-aggregation tasks.

Having worked on many public sector projects over the years I used to be appalled at the mismanagement often on display there, the endless false economies and bad decisions driven by short-termism, politics and inertia. Tellingly though, I seldom found that the troops at the coal face were to blame, more often than not it was the management layer that was at fault and the most fierce criticism came from below; but unfortunately was invariably ignored and/or discouraged. Mind you, I have to say that often large corporates are just as bad, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen departments holding their most precious data in flimsy, poorly designed and insecure spreadsheets! Including sensitive data on you and I! I hope that the inquiry into this fiasco will uncover the true faults and not simply find someone junior to "blame", for something as important as this, something that really does affect the lives (and deaths) of people, a rich and advanced country such as ours can surely do better than this?

Monday, October 05, 2020

Monday Moaning

 


Well, well, what a miserable weekend for weather that was!

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Birthday trumps


It's my birthday today so we went out for a couple of drinks with some friends yesterday evening to celebrate. Came across a new Siren beer (just when I thought I'd tried them all!) that's only available in keg, i.e. no cans. It's called "Flex" and is a West-Coast style IPA meaning it's clear (ish) and made to be sticky, tropical and piney with a healthy dose of bitterness running through it. This one was a beauty, just what was needed to get my birthday weekend off to the right start. Feels a bit weird this year as my Son is away at University for the first time and so won't be joining us later when we pop over the border into Surrey to visit family. Hopefully he'll face-time and join in virtually, although judging from dispatches from the front, I suspect the lure of his new-found social life may just trump us.. 

 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Friday Smirk


Jesus and Mo this week pointing out the common inability of many closed minded people to see their own biases, and their propensity to cherry pick certain world-view's in order to cling to them against an overwhelming body of evidence that shows them to be faulty.

 

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Nitro nights


One of the new Siren beers tried during September. This one is called "Twin Flames" and is a classic red ale with added American hops. Made with caramel malts it tasted toffee sweet with malt and caramel flavours to the fore, but, with a nice background of citrus fruits and red berries from the hops added cold-side. This particular beer (like this one) has been dosed with Nitrogen gas under pressure (obviously the folks over at Siren have a new gadget!) and so with a million tiny bubbles erupting when opened its mouthfeel is really, really creamy (in a Guinness kind of way), good effort!

 

Random words..


Had an interesting discussion with my teenage daughter yesterday about language (she's just started A-Level English) We were talking about how language changes and how words I used regularly as a teenager she simply wouldn't understand, like the examples above. Of course this works the other way around too, she often uses words like "peak", "sick" and "slack" and even though I know the traditional definitions of these words the modern slang meanings were a complete mystery to me (until I looked them up on urban-dictionary!) It's a funny old thing is language, very analogous to genetic drift in living organisms, isolated populations, selection pressure and randomness all seem to have an impact. I wonder if the number of distinct languages has an optimum value for a given global population of if the path to homogeny is unavoidable?

 

The real Europe...


Fascinating run through the way in which Human projects and conquests ebb and flow over the years. I'm sure every empire, religion, king and culture thought they were the ones in their day, all were wrong the only constant is change.