Monday, 21 August 2017

19th Century Flood Plain Runner


Spotted this advert for a new housing estate in Dorset in the Sunday Times yesterday. What with the floods in Somerset every year and climate change causing water havoc all over the country every winter, I'm not so sure I'd want to live anywhere near a lake.


Hope the buyers have good insurance.

Was absentmindedly listening to Radio 4 after buying the Sunday paper and it was some church service. It struck me that not only are hymns stuck in the 19th century, but a large proportion of our culture is too. Law court attire, the church, ceremonial military attire, the 1966 World Cup, etc. We're more obsessed than most countries with our past.

Standing in the queue at Lidl, I suddenly realised I'd bought a pack of puff pastry and a pack of shortcrust, when I wanted two packets of puff. This prompted me to think supermarkets could offer a useful service at checkouts - a runner to go and get the thing you forgot, or the thing you spot in the trolley of the person in front and realise you could do with yourself.

With A level results in, a lot of students will now be going on their gap year - or as Hayley calls it, their lazy shite year. I have to agree.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Multicultural Battle Flag


Regarding the Charlottesville statue of Robert E Lee - it'd be interesting to see how many Americans actually had ancestors who went to America before the Civil War. It's safe to say that if your name is British, Irish or German, then there's a good chance your ancestors were there at the time (although not definite), but if your name is Italian, Russian, Hungarian, Hispanic or Asian, they were not, as those waves of immigration were post 1860s. Intermarriage, naturally, will skew the figures.

Was listening to Any Questions on Radio 4 yesterday afternoon and something came up that involved the question of multiculturalism, which is anathema to certain sections of the population, mainly the right.

When the East India Company ruled India as its personal fiefdom, it was not unusual for British officers and administrators to have native wives, siring many Eurasian children with them and dress in the Indian manner - going native was the term used; a more modern term is integration. However, once the British government stepped in and ran India as a colony, this practise was frowned upon and the British started forming their clubs, separating themselves from the natives and isolating their culture from that of the indigenous population while living alongside it. That was an exercise in multiculturalism - the two cultures retaining their own, distinct identities.


Fast forward to the present time - in fact, every period from the mid 1800s - and the British are renowned the world over for taking their culture with them when being posted abroad, or even merely holidaying abroad. The irony is that the British are arch proponents of multiculturalism themselves, but, perversely, detest it taking place on their own soil and demand integration. It's an irony that's completely lost on Brexiteers, for whom immigration is the key reason for their vote last year, are always banging on about immigrants not integrating and insist on exporting their Little Englander attitudes when abroad.

Weather forecasters are predicting Monday to be the hottest day of the month. That won't be hard.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Cottage Cheese Secrets at the Pure Online Pub


OK, so I want to be let into the secret of cottage cheese. Obviously you have to do something with it, or add something to it to make it even remotely edible - so what is it?

Thought of a good idea - the online pub. You just go out to the supermarket, buy your booze of choice, go home and then login to a group experience at your local. No parking problems, no drink drive limit - you can even have a legal lock-in. Would it appeal to the younger generations?

I wonder if it has ever occurred to white supremacists that theories of racial purity based on in-breeding from a small gene pool do not produce a good result.



Friday, 18 August 2017

A Level Statues


Overheard at the Lidl checkout:

Customer talking to his wife, behind The Chairman: "It's getting to the stage where he can't be left on his own."

Chairman (turns round): "Have you been talking to my wife?"

What with all this Robert E Lee statue removal, perhaps we need to ensure the bust of William the Bastard, the usurper and persecutor of Saxons,which was commissioned to commemorate the Battle of Hastings, is never given a place of prominence. While we're at it, the statue of Canute at Winchester needs taking down - bloody foreigner, imposing his pan-Scandinavian empire on us.

Revisionism is a mistake - our history and its artefacts give us chance to look back and contemplate how we got here - the good, the bad and the ugly - how we learned from our mistakes. You can't just whitewash inconvenient or embarrassing history. Just look at how the Nazi concentration camps have been preserved as a very pertinent reminder of folly.


No.1 Son got his 4 A level results yesterday and have managed to get into his first choice university to study economics, although he's considering swapping to maths. One down, one to go. In 2 years we'll be FREE!


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Memes


Spotted these yesterday:





Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Freedom of Speech Conundrum


Following from the Charlottesville clashes, Freedom of Speech is once more in the news. This raises the question of whether Freedom of Speech, which is highly valued in western democracy, is absolute.

Is it valid to grant the Freedom of Speech as a defence to those who would deny Freedom of Speech to others if they came to power via democratic means - or indeed violent means?


As with most things there are two sides to every story.
  1. Some would say it is right to grant freedom of Speech in all cases, as the only way to expose the inconsistencies and dangers in extremist ideologies is to counter them with public argument. The problem here is that this depends on there actually being a public debate when the silent majority are known for their silence and the extremists don't engage in debate.
  2. Others would say that withdrawing the right to Freedom of Speech from certain organisations, such as fascists or communists, would allow authoritarian governments to arbitrarily declare government opponents as being censored, which is not good in a supposedly free society and could possibly itself lead to a totalitarian state. Who gets to pin the label of fascist or communist on the supposed fascist or communist?  Fascists have a tendency to label all their opponents as communists and communists have a habit of labelling all their opponents as fascists. The spectres of McCarthyism and Stalinism come to mind.
  3. Some forms of Freedom of Speech are indeed illegal already, and rightly so, such as falsely shouting; "Fire," in a crowded theatre, or hate speech, which can be incredibly hard to define in some cases.
Answers on a postcard below.

What I find strange about the Charlottesville affair is how Trump is very quick to condemn Democrats for the most petty of reasons, yet takes days to condemn Neo-Nazis who come to a demonstration tooled up with semi-automatic weapons and brandishing swastikas. The Minute Men come to mind.

Trump gives new meaning to the phrase Trumped Up Charges.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Plug N Play Drinking


I'm getting to the stage where I'm starting to hate technology. It's not the technology itself, but the instructions. So much of what we use today is made in China and if the instructions aren't indecipherable in Chinglish, no-one actually checks them to make sure they work. Increasingly I'm finding myself doing just the exact opposite of what the instructions say to get the damned thing working, whatever it may be - and, invariably, with success.

Plug and play was once the panacea to all IT problems, but there doesn't seem to be much focus on that anymore.


Talking of IT, someone needs to take Trump's Twitter away from him. 2nd thoughts, let him be - he's doing himself enough damage with it. It will be his downfall, if it already isn't.

There was an item on the BBC news last night about drunken Brits on holiday flights; it reminded me of a comment made by Laurie Lee in 'As I walked Out One Summer Morning' - he said (and OK, he was talking about 1936) the Spanish considered it the height of bad manners to drink without eating. Certain sections of the British public just like to have a drink with a drink, followed by more drink.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Just Nice People


I'm not fan of athletics and avoid watching it if I can, but it's a shame Usain Bolt and Mo Farah couldn't go out in a blaze of glory. That said, they had a long reign and made their marks on the sport, while also being nice people and role models for those entering it.

This contrasts starkly with Trump and Farage, who have unleashed forces beyond their control and made it acceptable to be a total, self-centred twonk.

Why do we give cats fish-based cat food, or, for that matter, lamb or beef? Bird or rodent - that I can understand...


Sunday, 13 August 2017

As I Walked Out for an Espresso One Midsummer Morning


Bloody coffee pod machine bit the dust earlier in the week - it was over 6 years old, to my knowledge, so it had performed well. Decided to get another on eBay and bought what's called a Krups Dolce Gusto (for the Brexiteers reading this, it's obviously a byproduct of an Axis collaboration) for £25. 

Received it to discover it used different pods to the ones I usually get from Aldi and Lidl, and they're much more expensive. Had a look on Amazon and found some cheapies on Wednesday and ordered them - they finally arrived on Friday, by which time I was suffering from espresso withdrawal.


Not what you'd call aesthetically pleasing, but it does the job and is slightly less of a faff than the old De Longhi. Takes up far less space too. Spent an hour dismantling the vast stash of Aldi and Lidl pods to decant the coffee and put it in a jar for use in the cafetiere - waste not, want not...

Because we visited Slad the other week, I ordered Laurie Lee's book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Lee came from Slad). My God, the man is a descriptive genius. Of course, I'd already read Cider With Rosie and thoroughly enjoyed it, but As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, which was written 10 years later, far surpasses even that. He doesn't just narrate a story, he paints a picture with perfect similes. Every paragraph contains the word 'like', and the like is so accurate that you don't just imagine the scene, you actually see it. The only other books I've read that are so descriptively perfect are those by Yukio Mishima. Unfortunately, Mishima came to a sticky end.

On the basis of As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning I've ordered A Moment of War from Amazon, which recounts Lee's experiences in the Spanish Civil War. 

No Sunday Times inserts at the newsagent this morning - the only reason we buy the Sunday Times. Had to get a copy of the Sunday Telegraph instead (I'm not paying £3 for the Observer), but noticed there was what appears to be a regular column by Daniel Hannan, MEP. Can't even bring myself to read it and am unsure why this proven liar and purveyor of the worst misinformation is even given a column in a national newspaper. I wouldn't mind if the bugger apologised when his lies are exposed, but he won't. His attendance at EU votes is lamentable too - 62.28%. That's fractionally worse than the Ukip delegation, which has the worst attendance record of any European party.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Event Planning in Aberdeen


I've been taking daily electricity generation and consumption readings for 5 years now and I was thinking of generating a chart showing the average generation per day over those 5 years. That would show the historical chances of it being sunny on any particular day, which data I could make available to people in the area wanting to plan outdoor events.

Went to Aberdeen for a business meeting on Wednesday. Overheard in the taxi:

Colleague: "Aberdeen is rather grey with all the granite, isn't it?"

Taxi Driver: "It's a bit brighter on the outskirts."

Chairman: "Yes, I noticed - concrete - it's a slightly lighter shade of grey."