Saturday, 31 January 2015

Death of Original Sin

I hear the church (in both its Anglican and Catholic guise) is getting its knickers in a twist over so-called 3 parent babies that eliminate lethal genes and prevent them being passed on.

I'd have thought they'd be delighted - especially the Catholics. IVF = no-sex procreation = sinless procreation = the death of Original Sin (if you believe the ridiculous doctrine of OS is transmitted by the act of procreation).

Hang on though, that would negate the need for a Catholic church. Ah, I now see why they're against it - self-interest....

Friday, 30 January 2015

My Fridge

There was an item on the BBC website yesterday about what the contents of your fridge says about you, Well, here's ours.

Mostly condiments (sweet and savoury), home-made soups, dairy-based products and drinks - along with my sourdough starter in the Kilner jar.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Decanting II

After much fiddling around, using just about every tool in my possession and a lot of time, the conversion of the apothecary bottles to decanters is complete.

LIQ. SACCH. UST is apparently burnt sugar, water and chloroform and was used for colouring elixirs. It's now gin.

ACID. HYDROCHLOR. DIL. is what it says, and is now scotch. Here are some of its uses (the acid, not scotch, although I'm sure some scotches would perform as well, if not better).

  1. To ‘pickle’ steel. This is a process whereby rust and scale is removed from steel sheet or coil with the use of a dilute solution of Hydrochloric Acid. The metal can then be processed.
  2. To manufacture organic compounds such as Vinyl Chloride and Dichloroethane which are used to produce PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride).
  3. To regulate the pH level in a wide range of manufacturing and treatment processes, including the production of drinking water, pharmaceuticals, beverages and foods.
  4. In the processing of additives for the food industry including fructose, citric acid and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
  5. To produce inorganic compounds for water treatment including drinking water and waste water.
  6. To neutralise the water in swimming pools making it safe for bathers.
  7. To regenerate ion exchangers.
  8. To process leathers in the tanning industry.
  9. To purify common salt.
  10. In North Sea oil production where it is used to facilitate oil well acidizing.
Perhaps, given the caramel in the LIQ. SACCH. UST. I should have used that one for the scotch.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


The up-cycled apothecary bottle booze decanters arrived yesterday. Which one for gin and which for scotch?

Not bad at £20 for both. I bid £13 each on four others, but while a two went for £13.50 each, another two went for over £30 each.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Offensive Terms for Man-flu Pan Lids

Apparently Dominic Cumberbatch has been censured for using the term 'coloured' in reference to black people, as it's offensive in the USA. According to reports, he should have used the term 'black', which was highly offensive when I was younger.

At this rate, we'll need a weekly update of offensive terms so we can stay abreast of the rapidly changing, bandwagon world of offended people.

Man-flu alert! Been down with it since Friday and am struggling to make it to the computer. Is Man-flu an offensive term somewhere?

Handy little idea I picked up on from the internet on a Life Hack site.

Saves you having to dig around in cupboards for wayward pan lids.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Pet That's Not a Pet

Hay found this NorthFace coat on eBay.

Advertised as from a smoke-free, pet-free home. One of the photos shows an interloper.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Overheard in the Bedroom

The Chairman wants to have a shower:

Chairman to Hay: "Are you having a shower?"

Hay: "Yes."

Chairman: "When?"

Hay: "In a minute."

Chairman looks at Hay quizically.

Chairman: "I know your minutes."

Hay: "OK, half an hour."

An hour and a half later:

Hay: "Just going for a shower."

Saw this story yesterday:

It was followed by comments from Christians ridiculing the people involved for their belief, especially the pastor. Yet belief in the power of this chap to help women get husbands through kissing their bare backsides is no less ridiculous than;
  1. a belief that wine and bread can transmogrify into blood and flesh when a magical incantation is uttered over them, or 
  2. that water can be turned into wine without a detailed knowledge of organic chemistry, or
  3. that a sky god impregnated a virgin, resulting in a man-god (that one was quite ubiquitous in antiquity, but apparently only the Christian one was the genuine article), or
  4. that a man can walk on water, or
  5. that a man can come back to life after death, or
  6. the dogma of the Trinity (which is truly the most mind-boggling and illogical piece of tomfoolery you could wish to hear, and even those who believe in it have difficulty explaining it).
If you believe in any of the above, then you simply have to believe anything anyone ever tells you, as you've obviously lost the power to discriminate between reality and blatant quackery.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Americans & Obama?

A certain section of the American public is really strange and stupid.

Spotted something on Facebook from Fox News (which is slightly to the right of Attila the Hun) comparing Bush with Obama, and the comments from people in support of Bush and vociferously attacking Obama were incredulous and naive. The fact Bush was considered a buffoon in the rest of the world is lost on them.

While GDP is up, debt down and unemployment falling (which most economists, and sane people, will take as proof of an improving economy), the comments were overwhelmingly negative and saying the economy has been trashed by Obama (among other patently ludicrous charges).

Some Americans (especially right wing ones) never seem to allow facts to cloud their views, as demonstrated by the Fox News debacle.

Click the image below to blow it up and see some of the more outlandish Obama conspiracy theories emanating from the American right, many of which were repeated as fact on the Facebook comments.

Also try watching this (I can't embed it). OK, they may have been cherry-picked, but the comments are nevertheless unbelievable and demonstrate congenital stupidity on the part of people Obama's policies are helping - and these people have a vote.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Feminists decry the Sun Page 3 Girls while at the same time being all for mothers breastfeeding in public. Talk about cognitive dissonance! Make up your minds girls...

Perhaps it's not breasts in themselves, but what you do with them - a question of context. However, one has a choice whether to buy the Sun or not.

Perhaps breastfeeding mums should shield their breasts from the public gaze with pages from the Sun? Or Page 3 Girls should only be shown breastfeeding?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Upcycling Sun

What with up-cycling some old forks as napkin rings a while ago, we're having a drive to see what other old dross we can up-cycle into a new and chic forms. Apparently it's all the rage in the middle classes now.

We have turned this heart I dug out of an old tramp into a tasteful ornament and conversation piece by encasing it in ceramic.

Some of these old apothecary bottles will shortly be turned into either drinks decanters (nice little personal touch, with Hay being a biochemist), or oil lamps (if I can find wick holders - you only seem to be able to get them in the USA).

One hears the Sun actually contains news. Disgusting!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Contraceptive Sky Priority Mosaic Scenes

I hear the pope has been saying what popes are expected to say about contraception. I've always wondered whether the Catholic church is against artificial conception in the same manner as it is against artificial contraception.

Discovered how the municipal governments in Holland deal with abandoned bikes. They apparently go around putting stickers on what look like abandoned bikes, warning that the bikes will be removed within so many days if the bike is seen again with the sticker.

Coming back from Schiphol last night, I was rather amused by the fact that passengers who had paid 12 Euros for Sky Priority had bought themselves nothing more than the privilege of getting on the bus first at the gate. Naturally, if they are first on the bus, they are last off and consequently last on the plane. I'd be demanding for my money back.

Not sure about you, but from my photo collection, and what I've seen of the collections of others, it's apparent that while old fashioned paper photos were mainly of people, modern digital photos are preponderantly of scenes.

Stayed at a great little B&B in the heart of the Jordaan area of Amsterdam, comprising a self-contained ground-floor flat on one of the canals. The owners are Greet and Neils. Greet is a ceramicist and makes mosaics, having made some beautiful ones for the flat we stayed in.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Atheist, Coffee Making, 112 Year-Old Pope on a Conveyor Belt

I've sussed why the Dutch are happy riding old bone-shaker bikes; bike envy just doesn't exist here, whereas it's rife in the UK.

I often wonder how the Dutch government deals with old bikes that have been abandoned, or where the owners have died. That's probably why there are so many bikes here - they've been lying around for decades and no-one has bothered to gather them up. Millions of dead people's bikes littering the streets.

We've been frequenting a bar in town that serves the best beers in Europe (Gollem). The problem is it's very small, and thus the opportunity for expanding the business is severely limited - it's all down to throughput. I think they should reverse the Japanese fast food restaurant concept - the one where you have a conveyor belt of food going past the diners - and instead have the customers on a conveyor belt so they have to finish their drink by the time they've done a circuit of the pub. The bar staff can then speed up the conveyor during busy times, or slow it down in slack periods.

The Britain's oldest woman celebrated her 112th birthday yesterday (no, not Hay - it was only her 50th). Do you think that, like most women, she was lying about her age?

Muslims in Niger attacking and burning churches. Isn't that a bit like the UK declaring war on Mexico at the start of WWI or WWII? The stupidity of religious fanatics simply astounds me - it has no bounds. I would posit that the majority of the people poking Islam through Charlie Hebdo are not in the least bit identifiable as Christians in the first place. The problem is you can't attack atheist churches, so you have to make do with the next best thing. Crass idiocy!

"The pope is God's representative on earth, and so speaking to him is like communicating directly with God." Saw that on the BBC news site yesterday concerning the pope's visit to the Philippines. Got news for the Filipinos - the pope is an old bloke, voted for by some other old blokes, in response to political developments in a multinational conglomerate known as the Catholic Church. I don't think God had much to do with it, if anything. Dead phone line!

Can I expect a papal punch after that?

Talking of God, was a tad surprised yesterday. Jesus is not dead, he's alive and well and working in an Amsterdam sandwich shop (at least the western idealised version of Christ depicted in Renaissance art as a blonde Nordic type)..

Philips Senseo Up coffee maker - 70 Euros in Holland (50 Euros if you look hard); £229 on eBay in the UK (although you can find them for £99 on the Cool Shop website, which took a bit of finding). Rip-off Britain?

Holiday over and back to Blighty this evening.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ultimate Designer Shop

Overheard is the street in Amsterdam:

A woman is walking toward us wearing a cloche hat and one of those huge ladies' coats from between the wars - looking like a refugee from Downton Abbey.

Hay: "I've got one of those coats. Haven't worn it since...."

Chairman: "1922?"

Saw so many designer shops yesterday. I have a morbid desire to create the ultimate designer shop - would call it The Shop,  decorated in stark black and white, staffed by a bearded hipster with a withering sneer and having just a single, tiny item for sale, placed on a white plinth in the centre of the shop. Perhaps have some very expensive coffee served.

You wouldn't believe how popular the G Plan Danish Modern range of furniture is here, as a vintage design classic! Mind you, it's becoming pretty sought after in the UK too.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hipster Bike Loos in Amsterdam

Overheard on the plane to Amsterdam:

The Chairman went to the back of the plane to find the loo, but couldn't find it. He then went to the front of the plane, but there was no loo there. He returned to the back of the plane and found the loo. He then returns to his seat.

Hay: "So how come you didn't find the loo the first time you went back there?"

Chairman: "It was cunningly camouflaged behind a door."

They must have had an incident at Schiphol - this plane appears to have landed on the terminal buidling.

I'd like to see all religious people demonstrate their faith by not visiting Accident and Emergency or a doctor for the rest of their lives. Now that's a test of faith that I would respect.

Have constantly risked being scythed down by bikes here in Amsterdam. The Dutch just ride along dressed in business suits with nothing more protective than an umbrella and cycle clips, whereas the Brit has to be resplendent in the full regalia of dorky Lycra, protective headgear, obligatory TdF yellow jersey, special shoes that clip on to the pedals and a bike costing 3 or 4 grand.

Have you noticed how bikes are now a status symbol in the UK? Whereas you used ot be able to get a decent bike from Halford's for a couple of hundred quid, they now cost 10 times as much.

Now this is a bike I like:

Went past an art gallery opening yesterday. Lots of svelte, slim hipsters, glasses of white wine clutched in their paws, cooing appreciatively over pieces of coloured plastic. Looked a bit pseud to me.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Respect Repeat Birthdays

The pope says people's faiths should be respected. I guess he means that if people believe in magic, god-men, parthenogenesis in humans, the power of prayer (despite all evidence to the contrary), men teleporting, the death sentence for apostasy, evil spirits taking over pigs, bread turning into flesh, putting a dirty milk glass and a plate from a roast beef sandwich in the same dishwasher can contaminate your soul, beheading, subjugation of women, hostility to homosexuals, sacred underwear protects believers from spiritual contamination and, according to some adherents, from fire and speeding bullets, stoning to death, genital mutilation, etc., we should respect that. Sorry pope old chap - you have another think coming. I live in the 21st century, not the 10th.

Respect is a positive emotion, and to respect the above you have to respect every crackpot, pseudoscientific theory anyone ever came up with. If science were to operate like that we wouldn't have progressed beyond alchemy and we wouldn't have Accident and Emergency departments bursting at the seams. It's an abdication of both moral and intellectual responsibility to automatically accord the same respect to all beliefs.

Tolerance and respect are two different things and the right to criticise has the same basis as the right to believe. While I may tolerate some of the hare-brained things above, I can't respect them - that would be stretching credulity beyond all bounds.

Criticism is essential to seeking truth, and most believers (illogically) portray themselves as seekers of truth; seekers of self-delusion, more like.

I wonder if the pope respects astrology or homeopathy - he probably does.

Talking of science, yesterday I collected my final, paid, repeat prescription. The next one will be totally free, as I'll have reached that magical age of 60. The next milestone will be the free bus pass at age 65, although I imagine the age qualification will have increased to 70 by the time it's my turn. I really don't know why governments give all this free stuff away - surely it should be means tested and given only those who actually need it?

We're off to Amsterdam today for a long weekend to celebrate Hayley's 50th. The original idea was to go to Belgium to see the grave of Hay's great uncle who died in the early stages of WWI, but the thought of trudging through fields in January was not attractive. Far better to go and have a look at the Foam Museum, or the Museum of Prostitution in Hamsterjam.

Left No.1 Son in charge of the house and the cat. Will I regret it?

I do like this. Couldn't stop laughing when I saw it:

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo III

I'm sure that the majority of us in the West feel no great desire to upset Muslims unnecessarily. That said, so long as a certain section of Muslim society in the West goes around demanding sharia law for all, denouncing western decadence and resorting to intimidating or even killing those with whom they disagree, then upsetting Muslims in general is going to be a natural corollary of that activity.

Upsetting people is no reason for those who are upset to kill the people who do the upsetting - unless it's Germany that's upset. They do have a bit of previous there. Actually, wars generally are caused by a bit of upset or an unfortunate misunderstanding (who remembers the War of the Stray Dog?).

The mass purchase of Charlie Hebdo yesterday was not an act calculated to offend Muslims in general, it was a reaction to being told what to do and how to think by a vocal, vociferous and dangerous minority of Muslims who want control of minds. It's cocking a snook at fascism, communism, hypocrisy and any ideology that wants to control how we think. I don't think it upset the Germans - at least I hope it didn't.

Islam and politics are intertwined and cannot be separated; Islam is not just a religion, it's also a political movement with Islam at the base, the pinnacle and all points between. Islam governs every activity from waking to going back to sleep - a bit, but not totally, like the situation in Europe before church and state were separated and religion's teeth were drawn.  

Due to state and religion being inextricably linked, and also due to the nature of Islam itself, practice of any religion other than Islam is proscribed in many Islamic states (leading to persecution), and in a few it is a capital offence. That is not the case in the West - Muslims are free to practice, as are atheists - or in the case of the latter, not to practice at all. As for the death sentence for apostasy, that's a truly medieval and unenlightened offence that has no part in modern society. I'm not sure whether Pastafarianism is a capital offence in Saudi - perhaps it should be.

So before lecturing the West on tolerance, fundamentalist Islam must tolerate other religions, or even the total absence of a religious viewpoint within Islamic states. Tolerance is a two way street, unless your name is Hitler, in which case it's an Einbahnstrasse.

Nor can they harp on about the Crusades. The Crusades were fought on behalf of indigenous middle eastern Christians against Moslems who had invaded from Arabia and ended in the 13th C., comprising no more than 20 odd battles and culminating in a resounding defeat for the West, including Germany. There have, however, been over 500 Muslim battles based on invasion (200 in Spain alone) stretching from the 600s to the 1920s and reaching into Spain, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the very gates of Vienna (hence  the croissant - and very probably Eccles cakes too). No comparison.

The history of Islam in the West is not long enough for it to have yet evolved into a reformed, moderate, westernised Islam, like namby-pamby Anglicanism (I call it Old Sodbury, or Cotswold Islam). Only time will tell whether this will happen with 3rd, 4th and 5th generation descendants of the first Muslim immigrants. Christianity, after all, has a 600 year lead on Islam, and Christianity went through some bloody times in the fight for freedom of conscience. Islam is going to have to face its own Reformation if it is to be acceptable to the West, and the Protestant Reformation did not take place in the heartlands of Catholicism. The result of the Reformation is that the worst an Anglican bishop can do to you if you draw a cartoon is to serve your sherry at the wrong temperature.

Similarly, reformed Islam is not going to happen in Islamic nations where the dead, repressive hand of conservative fanaticism has an iron grip. No, reformed Islam can only grow in the West or on the borders of Islam, where church and state are separated, and we must allow, nay (I like the odd nay) we must positively encourage it to take root, flower and flourish, hoping it will filter back and counter the encroaching tide of medieval fundamentalism emanating from and funded by the Arabian peninsula (and parts of the old Empire) .

The West has its own Holy Cows (like whether the tea or the milk goes in first), but cartoons of people isn't one of them, nor is apostasy. In the words of the Moslem Mayor of Rotterdam, my hometown; "If you don't like the freedoms of the West, then pack your bags." Common sense, as The Pub Landlord would say. Mind you, The Pub Landlord advocates locking up the unemployed to prevent crime.

As for my own views on religion, I must quote a great late 18th C. and early 19th C. French cartoonist, Pierre-Simon Laplace....; "I have no need of that hypothesis," and you can't make me think otherwise, as I have a brain and free will (although the subject of free will is another matter, which I think I've addressed previously, but may bore you with again at a later date).

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Nine Out of Ten Career Politicians


Chairman: "You treat that damned cat like it's your child."

Hay: "No I don't - I treat her far better than that!"

Hay and I were having a discussion about career politicians yesterday.

The oft repeated mantra is that career politicians have no experience of anything other than politics. Well, is that necessarily a bad thing? You don't, for example, expect your brain surgeon to have had experience of running a corner shop for a couple of years, or your lawyer to have spent his formative years as a butcher. Specialisation is seen as a good thing in professions, and most of those reaching the top in politics do at least have a degree in PPE (although some might not see that as a proper qualification).

What galls me, however, is the fact that once they leave parliament, MPs get a golden goodbye of between 50% and 100% of their annual salary - a severance package. Hay is on an NHS contract and when that contract finishes she gets nothing, having to trundle off competing for another contract. A politician's term in parliament is, after all, nothing more than a 5 year contract (although the average MP spends 8.5 years in parliament). His or her employers - the electorate - may renew the contract, or they may not. I see no valid reason to recompense him or her with up to a year's salary on the contract finishing - well, not unless all public contracts attract the same severance terms. Politicians should not be a special case.

A politician's job is walking a fine line between what his or her electorate wants, and what is possible or indeed ethically and morally right. If the electorate had its unbridled way, we'd probably still be hanging, drawing and quartering felons at local gibbets (I suspect that will make its way into the UKIP manifesto anyway). A portion of the electorate is just plain stupid and sees reading the news as the height of intellectual achievement (and then it's the sport pages), having no attentiveness toward anything in the outside world beyond its own narrow interests and sod the rest.

Neither of us can understand Russell Brand and his call for revolution. What's so particularly bad about our form of government that it needs overturning? It seems to work, bar the odd hiccup, and is infinitely superior to other forms of government which are far more corrupt. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Lock Up The Youth of Today

I was in Tesco and Argos on Saturday with No.1 Son and thought I'd have a go at remotely switching off the serried ranks of Samsung TVs with my Samsung TV remote phone App, confusing the hell out of the shop assistants. No.1 Son told me to stop being so silly and embarrassing. My God - it was like being out with my dad! Today's youth just have no sense of humour.

Here's the latest addition to the house, on the kitchen back-door, a digital lock:

I can't understand why more people don't use these digital locks as standard. I just need to share the code with anyone I care to, without having to give them a physical key. I can change the combination whenever I like.

My mate Dave from the Chipping Sodbury Yacht Club fitted it for me yesterday. He also changed all the tumblers on the other key operated external door locks so they all work on the same key, which again seems a sensible move. He additionally gave me the tumbler numbers in case I ever I get locked out - if you know the tumbler numbers you can get a locksmith to cut a key and not have to break in if you lock yourself out (which isn't really possible with the digital lock, unless I get dementia).

He told me never to use a Chubb or Yale lock, as these were the most common, and therefore the ones thieves focus on when learning to pick a lock.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Chairman's Detox in Birmingham

Now the holiday season is over, just like all the Sunday magazines, I will provide you with a detox diet. 

Now the human body has its own detox mechanism and is perfectly tuned by evolution to get rid of toxins entirely by itself. However, occasionally even evolution needs a little help, and I recommend  a handful of Senokot tablets. That should speed nature up a bit.

Detox diets - self-delusional nonsense!

An American has apologised after describing Birmingham as a Muslim city where whites don't venture. He then compounded his mistake by saying he would be issuing an apology on his website for "this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham". Birmingham - beautiful? It's obvious he's never been there in his life! He obviously meant Bradford...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Philosophy for Beginners

If you don't take a selfie and post it on Facebook, do you actually exist?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Offending Believers Having Sex in Russia

As an addendum to yesterday's post: religion should teach the believer himself how to behave, not how other people should behave or how the believer should behave toward people who don't share the believer's belief system.

Last word on the Ched Evans case. I heard Gordon Taylor's interview where he was accused of offending Hillsborough families by comparing the Evans case with the Hillsborough case. Taylor had compared the cases only inasmuch as there was a miscarriage of justice in one, and a possible miscarriage in the other - nothing wrong with that and only a cretin would think otherwise. Also, I don't think any Hillsborough families actually complained - just a lawyer who happens to be involved, and lawyers have other agendas. Taylor was manipulated by the interviewer into giving an apology for something that in my opinion he didn't need to apologise for in the first place - and even the apology has been blown out of proportion to become major news. However, I guess he thought that discretion was the better part of valour in this case.

It's surprising how many people get offended on behalf of other people, who probably weren't offended anyway.

Saw a headline on the BBC website yesterday that read; "Russia says drivers must not have sex". Fair enough, I thought - certainly not while driving. Could cause all manner of accidents and be worse than texting. Then I spotted the word "disorders" on the next line. Russia is becoming a police state as bad as the bad old days of communism. They'll be gassing homosexuals next as a threat to road safety. I wonder whether Putin will have his driving licence taken away for posing base chested on horseback in a very homoerotic pose.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie II

The whole of France stands together to defy Islamo-fascist gunmen while Oldham Athletic prostrates itself before pressure from sponsors and unsubstantiated death threats from mob-rule idiots who gained their knowledge of the Ched Evans case from the Daily Mail, Facebook or Twitter, rather than doing any basic research into the case or reading the court transcript (you have to sign in), which is a matter of public record. To do otherwise is merely having an invalid opinion based on hearsay, bias, bigotry, prejudice or just plain ignorance. As for the people making death threats against Oldham Athletic staff (and the girl in question, for that matter) - they're cut from the same cloth as the perpetrators of the Paris massacre.

The current mantra is that, as a footballer and a role model for impressionable youngsters, Evans shouldn't be employed in football till he apologises. Putting aside the fact that his case is currently undergoing a review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission with regard to a possible miscarriage of justice, and the fact that an apology is a de-facto admission of guilt and therefore logically incompatible with Evans' stance, how many footballers can you honestly say are role models? There is, today, probably only a handful. The daily rags and Sunday papers are filled with odious footballers' antics. Role models? Don't make me laugh!

Concerning the case, one first has to question why his pal in the 'rape', Clayton MacDonald, who was charged with the same offence, got off Scott-free while Evans was found guilty. They both had sex with the same girl that night in the same room (Evans was second, when the girl was arguably more sober). Was one jury right and the other wrong (which trashes the myth of the infallibility of the jury system)? I could guarantee that in any jury I could find evidence of bias and/or prejudice over something - they are attributes that we cannot escape as humans living in a social environment and subject to Group Think.

One has to ask whether being two and a half times over the safe driving limit (which in itself is very low) affects your judgement to the degree that you can't be held responsible for your actions. That's very subjective after the event. It's a crime to operate a car at the drink-drive limit - should it then also be a crime to operate your own body at the same level of intoxication? Or can the drunk driver be held not responsible for their own actions due to intoxication?

One has to ask why the girl in question didn't initially complain to the police about an alleged rape, but about her drinks being spiked (which they weren't - or at least there was no evidence in her blood). It was only later that the police themselves escalated it to a rape accusation - and they are under external pressure to get rape convictions up.

There are lots of unanswered questions about this case, and until they are answered, mob rule should not prevail - not that it should ever prevail in a civilized society anyway. In the words of Gordon Taylor; "He wouldn't have been the first person to be found guilty, maintained their innocence and been proved right."

Returning to Charlie Hebdo, some commentators are saying free speech, satire and offensiveness shouldn't encroach on religion, but the answer to that is to ask what it is about religion that inspires criticism and satire. Generally it's hypocrisy and religion's craving for power over minds - hypocrisy and power are the lifeblood of satire.

Buddhism doesn't attract much in the way of satire, but that's because it's not a hypocritical religion with dogma - it's actually refreshingly free of unquestionable dogma. In fact, none of the legal codes of traditional Buddhist cultures included blasphemy as a criminal offence (although some Thai Buddhists with a desire for power are now questioning that). The only real blasphemy in Buddhism is killing anyone.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Dead Photoshopped One-Pot Labour

It's about time FaceBook did something about its dead subscribers. I keep getting notifications of FaceBook friends who I know have been dead for quite a while. FaceBook, and the internet in general, has become a kind of immortality.

The internet is a great democratising agent, yet I can't help but think that some people just shouldn't be heard. Pre-internet they wouldn't have, but now every Tom, Dick or Harry in a rage or with hateful thoughts has a platform (including me).

Overheard While Discussing Dinner:

Hay: "What are you cooking tonight?"

Chairman: "I already told you, one-pot chicken."

Hay: "Yes, but there are thousands of ways of doing a one-pot  how are you going to make it?"

Chairman: "Everything in one pot!"

Saw this advert yesterday and couldn't believe my eyes:

Surely Photoshop is more than £5? Or is her trick like that a lot of people on dating sites employ - just use a very old photo?

Gone right off Labour. Heard one of their child MPs moaning that the NHS's record on waiting time targets are the worst since records began. The phrase "since records began" is designed to be misleading and make you think the data goes back to when the NHS was created. No, waiting time monitoring only started in 1992, but it was acknowledged that the metrics were meaningless for comparison. Thus new methods were introduced in 2004 (and targets set), only to be revised yet again in 2008.

Just goes to show you can't take anything an MP says at face value. I don't think the Lib Dems will ever get power in their own right, but my vote will go to them in the hope that are part of a coalition and can curb the more harebrained excesses of either Labour or Conservative.

Talking of waiting lists - we're just getting older (and hence iller) as a nation, and stupider (for not understanding the concept of accidents or emergencies and going to hospitals for a cold). A £10 fee per visit is surely the only way to educate people about when to visit hospitals and deter the time wasters?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Voter Apathy

A friend recently made a comment about voter apathy in elections. Given the way people tend to vote (with complete disregard for policies), perhaps making Ed and Dave appear on Strictly or X Factor would solve that.

A quick recipe.

Got this from Seagrass restaurant in St Ives over Christmas (highly recommended, by the way). I had seared squid and chorizo salad with sweet poached cherry tomatoes. The poached tomatoes were heavenly and I asked the chef how he prepared them:
  • A shot of white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water 
  • Quarter cup of sugar
  • 2 sprigs of thyme 
Boil liquid mix then add cherry tomatoes. When the tomato skins start to split, turn off the heat and let the mix cool. Leave the tomatoes in the liquor until serving, so the flavour keeps absorbing.

This produces wonderfully sweet/sour tomatoes with a herby hint as a salad accompaniment. You can actually bottle them and keep them in the fridge.

I like to roast them afterwards, which concentrates the flavour.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Overheard At the Chemist

Overheard while heading for the chemist to collect a prescription.

Hay: "Don't you need your pre-payment card to get your prescription?"

Chairman: "Not necessarily - the guy in the chemist knows me and always says; 'Hello Mr Van Bergen.'"

Hay: "Probably expressing surprise you're still alive."

Sunday, 4 January 2015

I Squander Where it All Went

The bill for policing Julian Assange's 2 year stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy is allegedly £9m.

One copper (or even two), 24 hours a day for 2 years can't come anywhere near that figure, so where has the rest been squandered?

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Big Red Button

I was nearly seduced by a tool in Lidl yesterday. Not sure what it was (might have been a winch), but it had a Big Red Button - a magnet for any bloke.

I have often questioned the wisdom of providing American presidents with a Big Red Button. The level of self-control required must be phenomenal.

Friday, 2 January 2015

It's Only a Theory

Don't you get fed up with people when they say; "It's only a theory," when referring to a scientific theory, and usually in reference to the theory of evolution?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Overheard in the Charity Shop

Overheard at the charity shop:

Chairman (from the changing cubicle): "No, these trousers are far too short."

Hay (too loudly for my liking): "Now don't forget to put your clothes on before you come out - remember what happened last time."

Perry is Hay's sister's partner. Perry's mum sent Hay's dad a Christmas card. Now Perry's mum, bless her, has dementia and tends to forget things. In this case she forgot that Hay's mum, Sylvia, died a couple of years ago and Hay's dad now has a new girlfriend called Barbara. She did remember at the last moment though and made the correction in a somewhat unique manner.

Luckily Hay's dad saw the funny side, as did we. Perry was mortified.