Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Drinking Illumination

While in Amsterdam last week we dined at a restaurant in Badhoevedorp called La Bouche. I was struck by a couple of chandeliers made of frosted wine glasses - one large and the other small. The meals were excellent too and the restaurant is highly recommended if you're in the area.

I so loved the chandeliers that I'm determined to get one - making it if necessary - for positioning over our kitchen island. It would look brilliant (literally) hanging from the oak beam.

I managed to obtain a similar hanger from Amazon for about 25 quid, which has room for 21 glasses; however, 21 frosted wine glasses come in at quite an expense (about £70 or more), so Hay found some polycarbonate ones on Amazon, but I don't think they will give as crisp an effect - they almost look dirty.

The hanger contraption won't be delivered till next week, although we've already had 24 polycarbonate wine glasses delivered. Inspection of the plastic wine glasses has confirmed my suspicion that they won't be as good as real glass, but I'll provide an update when the hanger is delivered.

I do, however, have a Lidl sand blasting attachment for my compressor - may make my own frosted wine glasses...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Remembrance Day

I drove past the village war memorial yesterday on the way to pick up the Sunday papers and it was resplendent in swathes of poppy wreaths. This got me thinking; has Remembrance Day had its day? A contentious subject, perhaps.

Remembrance Day was instituted in commemoration of the dead in WWI and was then extended to those who died in WWII. Since then it had been modified again to include all the dead in all wars, but it nevertheless remains rooted in WWI - the war to end all wars, which didn't

YouGov did a poll a short while ago concerning whether people participate in any way in Remembrance Day and I was surprised to discover that almost 2/3rd of the UK population don't participate at all. Given there's no past figures, it's hard to say whether it's a declining institution.

Many say it helps us remember our history and prevents us making the same mistakes, which is clearly tosh - we learn nothing from history and continually repeat our mistakes. We are taking into wars by politicians and for a variety of reasons, some of which have to do with cementing their own names in history.

I don't personally know anyone who died in any war, and I'm 62. I would guess that goes for the majority of people alive today in the UK and that's reflected in the YouGov poll. Yes, there will be people alive today who lost comrades or fathers in WWII, but they're a fast declining number.

We don't commemorate the deaths in the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War or any war prior to 1914 - they've simply left the folk memory due to the distance in time and the fact (with the exception of the aristocracy) that we don't even know whether any of our ancestors took part in them. Yes, we have Waterloo Day and Trafalgar Day, but they're events that are generally restricted to the Army and Navy, are regimental and celebrate victory, as opposed to remembrance of the dead. There's also the fact that many who participate in Remembrance Day, especially from the right, undeniably use it as a form of triumphalism, which was not the original intention.

Then there's the fact that Remembrance Day is not exactly ecumenical, despite the large number of Empire troops who died in both world wars. The cenotaph was designed by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate all Empire dead and is devoid of any religious iconography; however, the CofE appropriated it and Remembrance Day has ever since been an affair with heavy CofE overtones. Recently some poor vicar tried to make his church's Remembrance Day event ecumenical, but was howled down by more vocal members of the British Legion.

I can't help feeling that, within 20 years or so, Remembrance Day may die out - unless we have yet another massive war. We already have the relatively new institution of Armed Forces Day, which honours living servicemen and women - perhaps it will become amalgamated with that at some stage.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Retiring Green Birds

Spotted in Lidl by Hay a few days ago:

Wonder if they're a bit stringy and if they provide a cage.

I keep hearing from Brexiteers about us having the lowest unemployment for ages and this being attributed to a booming economy. No-one seems to have paid attention to the fact that more people than ever before (the Baby Boomers) are retiring from the workforce and those numbers have to be replaced from a smaller pool just to keep up - it's nothing to do with a booming economy. It can't be when productivity is declining.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Headless Concorde Cheeses

There was something on the local news last night about the Concorde that's been opened to the public at Filton. Good to see it's finally set to turn a profit for someone, even though not in the way it was designed to.

I see Gregg's has come under fire for using a sausage roll to replace Jesus in a nativity scene. I'd have thought they'd use Baby Cheeses. What with all these calls for banning the hijab, I'd challenge anyone to find an image of Jesus' mother, Mary, without one.

That mad Italian scientist who wants to perform a live head transplant is crowing about a recent success, but on a corpse. To be fair, just using Superglue would work on a corpse. You wouldn't notice any difference.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Newspaper Russians

Spotted this yesterday, and I fully agree. Newspapers no longer reflect their readers' viewes, they formulate them. All the newspapers owned by these five are 100% pro-Brexit, print misleading, anti-EU propaganda and, most. importantly, desperately want to avoid an impending EU-driven crackdown on tax havens.

Seems the Russians not only want to destabilise the west through interference in cyberspace, but the use of their UN Security Council veto in the Syrian chemical weapons investigation extension will have the effect of prolonging a civil wart which is the main cause of refugees entering Europe in their droves.

I'm starting to join the dots and conclude that Putin is doing everything in his power to destabilise Europe and the USA.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Russian Leaks

All this Russian interference stuff - Russia is one of the most corrupt countries on earth, being the result of capitalism on steroids (and a warning to those who would let business run a country), yet it's somewhat strange that WikiLeaks publishes almost no Russian leaks. It's almost as if WWIII has already broken out, but in cyberspace, and Russia is winning.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Double Dutch Newspapers

Spotted this sign at the exhibition in Amsterdam yesterday:


Given the others I'm with had decided to attend a few of the parties that surround the event and I wasn't in the mood, I decided to walk back to our digs (getting a taxi at a show this size is impossible). A nice, 2 hour walk through various districts. Some enterprising person had set up a Christmas stall in their drive.

Before anyone mentions it's too early, don't forget that the Dutch have Sinterklaas on the 6th December.

Some more photos from my wander back.

What I like about my home country is that the people are very egalitarian. You may be better off than someone, but it's not something that you rub into their faces. The houses are all very similar and decorated is the same cosy style - conspicuous consumption and envy (and corruption) play a much smaller role in defining people here than in the UK.

I see the owners of the Daily Telegraph. the fabulously wealthy and tax avoiding Barclay twins, are keeping up the pressure for Brexit, and avoiding a planned EU crack down on tax havens, by resorting to bullying.

It's strange (and I'm being ironic) that newspapers owned by millionaires, such as the Times and Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express are all in support of Brexit and are doing their utmost to spout negative propaganda (and in some cases outright lies) about the EU. They very obviously don't want their owners' taxes investigated too closely. As usual though, much of the British public can't see further than the ends of their noses and are willing to be led like sheep by newspaper proprietors who prey on their insecurities and prejudices.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Remembrance Parade

There was a Remembrance Parade in Chipping Sodbury on Sunday. Here's one of the photos showing the village memorial where the name Percy Dash can just be made out (6th from the top on the left-most panel - click to enlarge). 

Percy was Hayley's great uncle, who was killed in in one of the first large battles of 1914. His name is also carved into the oak portico of Old Sodbury church. I believe he was 21 when he died.

YouGov did a poll yesterday of whether people participate in Remembrance Day events. As many as 61% take no part, which surprises me, whereas 36% do. Strangely, 3% don't seem to know what they do. When analysed for age, the older you are the more likely you are to participate. Women are less likely to participate than men, but only by a very small margin.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Redwood Conundrum

I hear John Redwood, one of the Establishment Brexiteers and chairman of an investment committee for the Charles Stanley Group (for which he earns £180k a year), has been advising investors to move their money out of the UK and suggests the European Central Bank will pave the way for more fruitful investment than the Bank of England.

That's rather strange advice for a man who has long argued that the UK economy will flourish after leaving the EU.

I've long argued that the main beneficiaries of Brexit will be The City and speculators. Hardly surprising that those MPs with links to capital management firms, hedge funds and private healthcare operators are all for a hard Brexit. A classic case of The Establishment looking after its own interests first.

I'm currently reading Owen Jones' book, The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, an eye-opener as to how business and vested interests are running UK for their own benefit. It's main premise is that a lot of politicians see Parliament as a stepping stone to lucrative boardroom positions following a couple of terms in the House and one in government, and they use policy, which is invariably propaganda spewed out by the press barons to manipulate public opinion, as a means of achieving this. A very well researched and interesting read about the collusion between politicians and the 4th Estate.

We've rented a house near Schiphol Airport for the duration of this maritime trade show we're exhibiting at in Amsterdam. Don't you just hate it when you have a state-of-the-art TV system with a separate box of some description and two remotes, neither of which seem to do anything meaningful, like just turn the TV on to a local TV station? Against all odds I at least managed to get YouTube up and running last night and had to suffice with that. Time was when you could simply turn a TV on, press a number and you'd get a TV channel corresponding with that number. Now you have to perm one input from half a dozen - most of which are superfluous - and read two or three manuals.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Smeared Clooney Trade Show

This thing about porn being found on Damian Green's computer years ago is sounding more and more like a political smear by the dark forces of the Brexit Establishment. They've lost the the economic argument, the intellectual argument - in fact any argument - and they know it, so they're resorting to smearing any Remainers in the cabinet.

The only beneficiaries of Brexit will be a few immensely wealthy people, as more wealth is concentrated into the hands of a few via the City, regulations designed to protect consumers and workers are rolled back and public expenditure comes under increasing pressure, with attendant calls to privatise everything in sight as a solution, with the prime target being the NHS (a surprising number of MPs have links to private healthcare firms). It has finally dawned on the Lincolnshire seafood industry that Brexit will be bad and they're lobbying for Brexit exemption, directly contradicting the Brexit propaganda machine; similarly Cornwall has crops rotting in the fields as there's no-one to harvest them and are also asking for immigration exceptions. Stand by for more smears in the coming weeks and months. Hammond will probably be the next target.

Remembrance Day seems to be becoming increasingly important in the British psyche - more so than ever before. Rather than a quiet contemplation of the senseless loss of life, it's assuming a worrying triumphalist tone. I'm not sure whether much of this is to do with the centenary events around WWI, but of late I've noticed how the fallen from two world wars are being used as unwitting recruits to the Brexit cause.

Jingoistic slogans are appearing on Facebook, such as; "We didn’t fight two world wars for this,"  and; "We saved you Europeans and you owe us." Very few of us alive today actually fought in WWII, so it morphs into; “Our fathers didn’t fight in WWII for this.” My father was in WWII; he didn’t have the luxury of a gun in his hands – he was a sitting target in a Dutch cargo ship and was torpedoed. Nevertheless, he was an ardent pro-European. Just because your father fought in WWII does not mean you speak for all people who fought. They also seem to think Britain beat the Nazis single-handed and forget about the Dutch, Poles, French, Australians, Canadians, Americans, Russians, Balkans, Indians, Norwegians, etc., etc. – a grouping referred to as the Allies.

The EU project was started to tie European nations closer together with trade, hoping to create one bloc, rather than constantly competing powers who went to war every 25 years or so.

To quote Herman Goering: “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.” Sounds worryingly prescient. 

Harvey Weinstein - whatever happened to i before e, except after c? Not an attractive man, is he, no wonder women are coming out of the woodwork with harassment claims. I wonder if women are queuing up to be sexually harassed by George Clooney?

Off to Amsterdam this afternoon for a marine trade show till Friday, so posts may be somewhat sporadic this week - and very maritime.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Afro Secutiry

Saw an interview on the BBC news last night with the model Naomi Campbell about sexual harassment in the modelling industry. When asked about Lupita Nyong'o, the black model who had her hair digitally remastered to make it less frizzy at the back, she castigated the enhancement. Now I'm not sure whether the interviewer, Will Gompertz, asked the question tongue in cheek, as Campbell was sitting there sporting a European style wig.

I went to a business meeting at a satellite earth station just outside of Guildford yesterday:

It's not often you see field artillery at a business meeting:

Now that's what I call security. The owner of the facility is a bit of a military equipment fan - he also has a number of personnel carriers and tanks on site.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Computer Security

Here's some computer and security advice: Systems can be fast, open, or secure, but only two of these three at a time. The three rules of computer security - RULE ONE: Do not own a computer. RULE TWO: Do not power it on. RULE THREE: Do not use it.'

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Kippers for Tea

If you see a social media posts of what someone is eating, there's a high chance they're a Kipper.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Anyone remember this exchange from The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin?

REGGIE: Who are you going to fight against when this balloon of yours goes up?

JIMMY: Forces of anarchy. Wreckers of law and order. Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists, crypt-Trotskyists, union leaders, Communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, namby-pamby probation officers, rapists, papists, papist rapists, foreign surgeons, headshrinkers who ought to be locked up, Wedgwood Benn, keg bitter, punk rock, glue-sniffers, ‘Play For Today’, squatters, Clive Jenkins, Roy Jenkins, Up Jenkins, up everybody’s, Chinese restaurants - why do you think Windsor Castle is ringed with Chinese restaurants?

REGGIE: Is that all?


REGGIE: I see. You realise the sort of people you’re going to attract, don’t you, Jimmy? Thugs, bully-boys, psychopaths, sacked policemen, security guards, sacked security guards, racialists, Paki-bashers, queer-bashers, Chink-bashers, basher-bashers, anybody-bashers, rear Admirals, queer admirals, Vice Admirals, fascists, neo-fascists, crypto-fascists, loyalists, neo-loyalists, crypto-loyalists.

JIMMY: You really think so? I thought support might be difficult.

You could just replace Jimmy with whatever right-wing party you want to.

Here it is on YouTube:

I see the government wants 3 weeks to fiddle the Brexit Impact Study. I wonder when a leak will happen, as it surely must?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Saffron Taxes

Following on from the BBC Countryfile  programme on saffron, I've bought 100 autumn crocus bulbs to plant later this month. They're rather strange in that the foliage comes up in spring and then dies back, but the flowers come up with no foliage in September. They're also rather poisonous and, if ingested, result in a slow death over a couple of days with symptoms similar to cholera. So, they can be used quite safely to poison people providing there's a convenient outbreak of cholera in the neighbourhood.

The usual answer to high net worth individuals getting tax breaks is that they create wealth and hence jobs. What's good for the goose is also good for the gander - ordinary people should then get more tax breaks, as they create demand for the products the rich make (in indeed they make any at all - and I'd question whether gambling on the international exchanges creates anything worthwhile, except tax, which is increasingly getting harder to recoup. There's also the argument that tax breaks for the ordinary person reduces the debt mountain, but that's probably just wishful thinking.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Islamic Spice Carpet

When having a look around St Andrew's church in Castle Combe on Saturday I spotted something quite unusual, which I'd never seen before. Tucked away in a corner of the church, near the altar, were a couple of chaps on their knees - at first I thought they were engaged in making some brass rubbings, but on closer inspection they transpired to be a couple of Muslims performing salah, one of their five daily prayers. Apparently it's not forbidden by Islam, although some hard liners would differ.

I saw this image on Facebook yesterday:

It was an avert for Intel and is a printed circuit board, but at first I thought it was an advert for a contemporary Persian rug. If it were a rug, I wouldn't mind one - love the colours.

It's the time of year when the BBC Countryfile programme is advertising its calendars. We don't have calendars on our walls and I wondered why calendar makers don't investigate digital calendars for use on mobiles or laptops. There was an item on last night's Countryfile about a farmer in the UK who has entered the saffron market by growing autumn-flowering crocuses. Don't know about you, but I've never found saffron to taste of anything. If I use it at all, it's as a food colouring and not as a flavouring. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Senseless Rules Juxtaposed with Gideon's Organ

Hayley had a meeting scheduled in an hotel in London on Friday, but hadn't heard from the woman with whom she was meant to be meeting, so she called to hotel to check whether her contact was in fact there.

Hay: "Could you tell me whether Mrs XXX has checked in?"

Hotel Receptionist: "I'm afraid we can't give that information out."

Hay rings off and immediately calls again:

Hay: "Could you put me through to Mrs XXX's room?"

Hotel Receptionist: "Certainly."


Another juxtaposed BBC News story from Saturdy - again, wishful thinking or accident?

In a moment of ennui late Friday afternoon I watched an old police procedural film from 1958 called Gideon's Day, starring Jack Hawkins and Chief Inspector Gideon. Jack Hawkins was no older than 48 when the film was made and one of his co-stars, Howard Marion-Crawford, playing the Chief Constable, was no older than 44, yet both looked between 10 and 20 years older. Marion-Crawford was only 55 when he died in '69 but looked in his early 60s in the film. It strikes me that people in the 50s always looked and acted a lot older than they were . I suppose it was because they were never teenagers - they left school and went straight into their parents' clothes.

Gideon bought a fresh fish in the morning and left it in his office all day before taking it home for dinner, where it wasn't used anyway. I'm surprised everyone didn't die of food poisoning in those days, but there again it would have been cooked for hours, along with the vegetables, which would have been put on to boil the day before...

On another issue; if it's a choice between scientific experts who have studied climate change and the opinion of the Trump administration, I'll go with the scientists every time. Actually, if it's between the opinion of a village idiot and the opinion of the Trump administration.....

Hay's boss is over from Seattle and staying in a local hotel. We took her on a tour of the local sites yesterday, ending up in Old Sodbury church where, fortuitously, the organist was just finishing practicing. He very kindly gave us a demonstration of the organ before acceding to a request to perform the opening bars of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, which made my scalp prickle. He informed us that each church organ is different, as most are cobbled together from cannibalised, defunct organs, which makes playing one a bit of a challenge.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Juxtaposition of a Whip Word

I've recently heard people pronounce Brexit as Bregsit. When I was a kid I was taught to pronounce Xerxes as Gzerxees - this is a bit similar, although I use the Brexit pronunciation. How do you pronounce it?

Not sure if this unfortunate juxtaposition of news items on the BBC News website yesterday was accidental or on purpose...

All this stuff about sexual harassment claims being covered up in political parties has got me thinking. The original British version of House of Cards and the Jeffrey Archer political novels - in these, MPs' peccadillos and indiscretions are used by the unscrupulous to ensure loyalty and voting along party lines, usually through the party whips. I know these were works of fiction, but written by those with inside knowledge. Could it be that the reason past indiscretions never came to light was because they were collateral and the stock-in-trade of the whips?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Eureka for the Balfour Declaration

It was the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 yesterday, amid further calls for a 2 state solution. If you look at the map of the territorial limits of a Jewish homeland from the Balfour Declaration onwards, there already is a 2 state solution. In fact, the original territorial extent of a Jewish homeland has shrunk by over 70% from the original boundaries.

What's at stake now is the dot of grey at the upper end of the state of Israel - a plot of land which is a strategic weak point for Israel and which could be used to cut the country into two in the event of another war. Israel is not exactly surrounded by friendly nations. An intractable problem for both sides in the argument. The Palestinians call it occupied territory; the Israelis call it disputed territory, with a certain justification in international law. If there was to be a democratic vote in the territory it would undoubtedly be Palestinian, which is probably why the Israelis are moving in with illegal settlements to change the demographic before even countenancing a vote within the territory. The fact remains that it is a strategic weak point for Israel in the event of further hostilities - with any of its non-democratic neighbours. The irony of a vote would be the use of a democratic process to turn the territory in to a non-democratic one under the Palestinian Authority.

Eureka! I've finally mastered the balancing of the under-floor heating system. The secret is the use of an infra-red temperature gun. OK, it takes a while to do but, rather than using guesswork, measuring the temperature of the return pipes is scientific and accurate. 

I switched off the bathroom loop completely (and, as suspected, I had mistaken the bathroom valve for the bedroom loop - it's taken me 4 years to realise this), as there's a towel rail there anyway (plumbed into the domestic hot water circuit, which is always circulating) and is sandwiched between the living room and No.2 Son's bedroom. That alone will produce a saving in energy. There's no need for the bathroom to be permanently heated when it's only used for under half an hour a day anyway.

Then opening the bedroom loop fully and allowing the room to settle, I then opened successive valves, ensuring the return water from each loop was the same, making small adjustments at each iteration. No.2 Son's bedroom is now warm (I feel sorry for No.1 Son, who had to put up with a cool bedroom for several winters). Return temperatures are at around 26 to 27 degrees and all floor temperatures are at around 24, except the kitchen, which is 27 and still needs some slight adjustment for its thermal efficiency.

The normal method of balancing is performed by empirical use of the loop length, but I'm buggered if I know the length of each loop - some, close to the manifold, are small, while others that are further away are huge.

An added complication is that while the house is mostly floored with oak, which is an insulator, the kitchen is floored with limestone, which is itself a heat sink and quite efficient at heat transfer.

Using an accurate measurement of water's return temperature solves all the problems at one swoop. Given the foregoing, you'd think the makers would include a temperature gauge on each return outlet, or even facilitate some form of automatic balancing with sensors.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Asylum for Cowards

I see we're back to this meaningless phrase of; "A cowardly act of terror," for a bloke who is prepared to die for his beliefs. Had it been a US soldier who had died storming an Al Qaeda house and killed several people in the process (perhaps not the best analogy - although many civilians carry guns in the US and all police certainly do), or one of the RAF bomber pilots who bombed civilians in Dresden and got shot down on the way back, he would have been hailed as a hero. I do wish the politicians would find another, more suitable phrase. Certainly not hero (although he will be thought of as such by his fellow ideologues), but at least recognise that anyone who puts their life last and is prepared to die is not a coward in any true sense of the word - 'a person who is contemptibly lacking in the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things'. Warped, misguided or horrific act of terror, perhaps. Coward is a populist politician's word. Cowards are not noted for risking death. And before anyone starts huffing and puffing with righteous indignation, I'm not condoning the terrorist activity, just complaining about a word that cheapens the person using it. It's use should be limited to instances where bombs are detonated remotely and the perpetrator intends to escape without detection.

So Charles Puigdemont is seeking political asylum in Belgium, then he isn't - perhaps he's heard of the the European Arrest Warrant? Now he wants guarantees before he returns to Spain, guarantees that were already made by inviting him to stand in the snap elections before he needlessly opened his mouth. Perhaps his request for a guarantee was calculated to make the Madrid government look bad.

The latest twist is that he refuses a summons to appear in court in Madrid on charges of rebellion and sedition and calls it a political trial. Well, yes - rebellion and sedition are political crimes. Can't fault his logic there, but I still can't understand why he refuses to appear in court on legitimate charges resulting from an illegal referendum.

Wonder if he'll next surface in Panama claiming he was previously invited to speak there. He's sounding more like Trump with every utterance. It will be interesting to see who is funding his stay in Belgium?

"A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

 Alexander Hamilton - The Federalist Papers.

 It was a theme he returned to in 1795. "It is only to consult the history of nations," Hamilton wrote, "to perceive, that every country, at all times, is cursed by the existence of men who, actuated by an irregular ambition, scruple nothing which they imagine will contribute to their own advancement and importance . . . in republics, fawning or turbulent demagogues, worshipping still the idol power wherever placed . . . and trafficking in the weaknesses, vices, frailties, or prejudices’ of the people."

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Under-Floor Halloween

I'm learning stuff all the time.

Ever since we built the house I've had problems getting heat from the under-floor system to the boy's bedroom, which is furthest from the reservoir tank and manifold. I've tried reducing the flow to the rest of the house - called balancing - but nothing seems to work and the thermostat in the ground-floor bedroom temperature is always showing a degree or so below the thermostat setting.

The problem is caused by the bedroom being split into two, with an en-suite. The bedroom itself extends into the eaves, whereas the en-suite has a normal-height ceiling. However, the upper area of the bedroom extends over the en-suite. Both the bedroom and the en-suite, while having individual under-floor heating loops, share the same thermostat, which is in the bedroom. The consequence is that the bedroom under-floor heating has a proportionally larger volume of air to heat, while the en-suite under-floor has a proportionally smaller volume to heat - so the bedroom is much cooler than the en-suite, which can get stifling at times. 

Turning up the temperature of the reservoir water helps, but the temperature needed is far above that which is recommended for the system as a whole, which means energy is wasted, and additional heat is pumped into the en-suite, where it's not required and hence wasted. Basically it's bad design of the heating system - the en-suite should have its own thermostat. The problem is that the thermostats are hardwired in and, while you can get wireless thermostats, the distance from the control centre is too far for one to work.

It took me ages to twig that the control panel in the engine-room, which has lights indicating which loop is on or off, is wired in reverse to the corresponding control valve, so the valve on the right equates to the panel light on the left. Stupid or what? Anyway, I sussed that out a couple of years ago, so it's not a big issue; however. I still haven't identified which of the two loops controlled by the bedroom thermostat is which - bedroom or en-suite. Simply turning one off should work in theory, if it weren't for the fact that everything associated with an under-floor system takes a day or more to to have a noticeable effect when you change a setting.

Anyway, the upshot is that I've switched fully off the loop I believe to be the en-suite, but now the outside temperature has risen to a level where the bedroom thermostat actually works, as not much heat is required to get it to the desired 21.5 degrees (it's not only the boy's bedroom, but his living room too). It doesn't help while conducting a test that the boy comes home from school unexpectedly, raising the temperature of the room by a couple of degrees with his body heat and his array of electronics.

To help me resolve the problem I've ordered one of those infra-red thermometers where you point a laser beam at an object and it gives you an accurate temperature reading to within a 10th of a degree. Hopefully, when it arrives later today, it will help me gauge floor and manifold temperature changes faster and more accurately than by just touch.

It didn't help when I accidentally unscrewed the actuators, thinking they were just ordinary exit valves. Should have realised the wires going to them were for a purpose. Just hope I haven't damaged anything screwing them back on.

God, I detest Halloween. Bloody American import! Never had all this malarkey when I was a kid. It only seems to have taken off in the American way since the 90s. There again, I suppose all traditions have to have a start, but I just wish we didn't have to import them. Christmas wasn't what it is before Prince Albert imported it from Germany and, of course, whatever the monarch does is slavishly followed by the rest of society. Then we only go and make it worse by adding other accretions from America - a Santa wearing a nightcap rather than a Bishop's mitre.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Harassed Pumpkin Maternity Insurance

It strikes me that the high cost of insuring new drivers is resulting in a generation of teenagers who simply can't afford to learn to drive. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing - they're more likely to have an accident, especially boys, but isn't driving them off the roads just delaying the problem? 

All these claims of sexual harassment - it's worrying, from a number of perspectives. While I have no doubt whatsoever that it's rife in certain industries, it's one of those areas where it's the word of two people with, invariably, no witnesses or evidence. Without a shadow of a doubt, false claims have been made in the past, as evidenced by high profile court cases. What a great opportunity this could be for old scores to be settled - and that's the danger where the normal rules of jurisprudence don't apply. There's a great danger of a 'No, I am Spartacus' effect, and making false claims just makes it worse for women having genuine claims. False claims are difficult to counter, as you'd need shed loads of dosh to take someone, let alone more than one, to court for defamation, with very little chance of recouping the loss.

I was listening to an item on Woman's Hour yesterday morning while returning from taking Hay to the railway station. A woman campaigning for better maternity leave rights was saying that allowing women to go on maternity leave presented employers with enormous opportunities. She then reeled off a list of these so-called opportunities, none of which made the slightest sense. She could just as well have been reading off a list of Brexit opportunities. Employers, especially small employers, hate employing women of childbearing age for sound economic reasons and have to be forced to do it by law.

Lidl pumpkins 59p! Bought two over the weekend - not to carve, as that's simply a criminal waste, but to use for roast pumpkin or soup. Enough pumpkin, and our own, homegrown squash, for a couple of months now.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Venus and Mars

Overheard in a shop at the weekend:

Woman: "Well, where should we go?"

Man: "Anywhere you want, dear."

Woman: "How about the park?"

Man: "Oh, no - we went there last weekend."

Woman: "OK, how about the Mall'"

Man: "Oh, do we have to - I don't like it there."

This went on for several iterations with the man objecting to every suggestion.

Overheard while watching The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King:

Chairman: "He was typecast as a hobbit after these films."

Hay: "With your teeth you could only get a role as an Orc in this film, or possibly your feet could be hobbit foot stunt doubles."

Hay can be quite cutting - when I forgot to make her tea the other morning she called me Memory Man.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


What a mess Spain is in. 

All we can be certain of is that 90% of the 42% who voed were for independence from Spain. Assuming there were no double votes, and the stories of irregularities are legion, that's 37.8% of the of the electorate  - not in anyone's lexicon could that be claimed as a mandate.

Some were prevented from voting, some will not have voted due to the referendum's illegality and there are accounts of double voting. We cannot infer any numbers from this - they cancel each other out, probably not numerically, but as a cohort that can be extrapolated into something meaningful.

A country survives by recognition and the international community is certainly not tripping over itself to recognise a newly independent state of Catalonia. This is probably as a result of the way the referendum was conducted, and as a consequence Catalonia appears isolated, which means doomed.

This cartoon from today's Sunday Times just about sums it up.

How far can this penchant for nationalism go? Catalonians are not exactly oppressed - they have a high degree of autonomy. One of the main reasons cited is that it's funding the rest of Spain, which is not exactly  true - Catalonia's rating is tied for worst with between 1 and 5 other autonomous communities of Spain, depending on the rating agency, and is losing businesses to other autonomous areas of Spain (in 2014, for example, Catalonia lost 987 companies to other parts of Spain, mainly Madrid, gaining 602 new ones from the rest of the country). That seems to me the politics of greed. Will Barcelona now secede from Catalonia, citing that it doesn't want its hard-earned taxes being used on poorer areas of Catalonia? Populist madness. Should London secede from the UK. 

That's not to exonerate Madrid. The Spanish government's heavy-handed response to the situation has been an object lesson in how not to handle a critical situation. The only solution is a legal referendum within Catalonia, but Madrid has already played into the hands of the populist demagogues in Barcelona, who will have planned every aspect of this by portraying to themselves to the drones as victims. Inviting the separatist leader to stand in a new election seems calculated to mitigate some of the early response. I'm sure the leader of the independence movement was itching to be arrested, as it is the usual tactic of populists who want to be portrayed as martyrs.

If nationalists have their way, we're headed for a map of Europe that will look something like a larger version of 1871 map of pre-unification Germany, with minor princely states that were constantly at each others throats. Vladimir Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee - the nationalists are doing his job for him, and they don't even realise it.

Yes, people should be allowed self-determination; however, a state's first duty is to protect its citizens, and a small state cannot defend its citizens as well as a large state. That means alliances have to be sought, but alliances can produce unwanted consequences, as we discovered to our cost with WWI and WWII - and, in fact, every European war since time immemorial.

Independence movements are legitimate where oppression is evident, but not when scurrilous populists use emotion as their weapon for their own self-aggrandisement. That's the small-mindedness that the European project was intending to eliminate. Emotive nationalists are the enemy of peace, as many wars have taught us. In the words of George Santayana; "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." The expression lambs to the slaughter comes to mind. Neither Spain nor Catalonia will benefit from this.

It must be their Latin blood. What's our excuse?

Saturday, 28 October 2017


I'm really looking forward to Chris Heaton-Harris' book on Brexit; however, I still can't understand why he wrote to universities teaching Brexit studies when he's a confirmed Brexiteer and these individuals have a persistent habit of decrying experts at every opportunity. Not only that, but all the information about lecturers and course content is already online.

Perhaps he wants to check whether universities are teaching a balanced curriculum. Universities are , after all, hotbeds of left-wing indoctrination - just look at how they teach evolution, gravity, particle physics - well. facts in general. It's disgusting! As one person said to me, they're only theories. We all know evolution is really Intelligent Design, gravity is Intelligent Falling and particle physics is Intelligent Electronics.

It was strange how that paragon of balanced reporting, the Daily Mail, jumped on the story and denounced universities without a shred of evidence. It was somewhat reminiscent of their vilification of the independent jud3iciary, who as we all know are left-wing, Brexit-hating pinkos - like the Church.

The Church is one of the worst bastions of left-wing bias - we all know Jesus was right-wing, and there they go making out that he was a champion of the poor and oppressed. Not many know that Jesus advised Judas to invest those 30 pieces of silver in Somerset Capital Management.

Did you know that universities teach left-wing maths where 318 + 10 = £1bn?

Friday, 27 October 2017

Log Jams

The other day I participated in a YouGov poll about train delays, the question being how long a delay is acceptable on a one hour train journey. I don't use trains a lot, but I hope it's not a poll paid for by a train operatoion company and a harbinger of things to come.

On Wednesday we had a walk into Yate and noticed that one of a couple of iconic trees was being taken down. I'm uncertain of the reason, but think it might have been to do with some nearby power cables. It seemed such a shame.

They have stood at the entrance to what is known as The Ridge for well over 100 years.

Pumpkin season on the shops now - 79p for a whopper in Lidl. The overwhelming number of them end up being carved and then thrown away, which is a sin in my book. I bought a huge one which will be used to make oodles of pumpkin soup for my skinny days.

I wonder if I should complain to the Press Complaints Commission about the Daily Mail. If kid were to read it, he or she could be led into believing it's quite acceptable to tell lies...

Thursday, 26 October 2017

University Social Media Salaries

We're watching a 2 part programme on iPlayer about the Reformation, each part being about 3 hours long. I thought it was going to be a documentary, but it's a drama about Luther in German with English subtitles - which means, unlike Hay, I can at least stay with the plot while making tea. 

It's strange to think that it all came about due to the argument as to whether salvation could be achieved through faith alone, as Luther believed, or through faith and works, as the Catholic church staunchly maintained and had it's logical conclusion in the sale of indulgences - the ultimate get out of jail card for Purgatory. However, the returns from the sale of indulgences weren't exactly going on good causes, wherein lay the problem. I say strange, as there are as almost as many extracts in the bible for each argument. Both claims can be supported - which goes to show how the bible can be cherry-picked for whatever argument you care to put forward.

What is remarkable is that Luther succeeded - but that was only due to Luther harnessing new technology in the form of printing, which, fortuitously, had been invented around that time. He was using the internet of the day and social media to promulgate his ideas, which had catastrophic consequences. Without printing, Luther would have been merely one of many heretics, with a very small audience, who would have become just another Roman candle.

Social media can be a boon and a curse. Disinformation can be spread just as fast as genuine news - as we know, with equally catastrophic results.

The Chancellor of Bath's salary of £450k came up in the local news the other day. I'm in two minds about this; universities have to fund teaching from student fees and, in this manner, are no different from any other business (government money goes only to research, not teaching). We may rant against footballers' salaries, but willing spectators pay these. When all's said and done, no-one is forced to go to Bath University except, perhaps, students from low-income families in Bath who want to live at home for financial reasons.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris is now back peddling furiously about his letter asking to know the names of lecturers and course contents of university Brexit courses and claiming if was information for a book. The fact the letter was on House of Commons letter headed paper is a bit suspicious - you don't use House of Commons paper for personal use, and writing a book for commercial gain is certainly not parliamentary business. "Modest" use of House of Commons stationery is permitted under parliamentary rules, but I smell a McCarthyist rat. A Labour MP was censured for using Commons paper for personal use a few years back.

This YouGov poll result on the matter isn't exactly surprising:

Accusations of left-wing bias in universities and in education in general abound. If true, the corollary of this is that right wingers don't go into the education sector. Now there can only be three answers to this conundrum - they don't like public service, the pay is not enough, or they can't get the qualifications.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Watery Cheshire Fascist Lending

Hay subjected me to a catch up episode of Country File last night. Saw something that surprised me; a farmer who had grown some cereal crop was wanting to test it for water content and I thought that he'd perhaps weigh a certain volume of it and do a comparison with crops from other years, but no, he used a moisture meter which looked as if it cost a small packet.

Also watched a programme where a family lives through the early 20th century. They'd got as far as the 30s and there was a bit about Oswald Moseley and his British Union of Fascists. Giles Coren was talking to the family and called the BUF a bunch of thugs led by a posh twerp. Sounded remarkably like Ukip before Farage resigned.

It's a pity that fascists forced so many Jews to flee to Israel. Israel has benefited and Europe has become poorer, both intellectually and creatively.

Discovered that Cheshire is a  county palatinate, along with Lancashire and Durham. Chester had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in Parliament until 1543, while Durham did not gain parliamentary representation until 1654, and the bishops of Durham retained their temporal jurisdiction until 1836. Incredible.

There was an item on the news last night about the company Bright House, which has been fined for irresponsible lending. While I agree companies selling stuff on credit need to check whether their customers are creditworthy (it makes sound business sense), surely there's such a thing as irresponsible borrowing? One woman who couldn't afford the payments said that credit was the only way she could afford big-ticket items - well my response would be that perhaps she shouldn't be wanting big ticket items and should focus more on essentials.

Another day of promo filming in the house yesterday. Can't wait to see the result, which should be in a couple of weeks time.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


Had a film crew in the house most of yesterday and they're due to return today. The guys who rent one of our cabins have got to the stage of requiring a further round of funding for their new vacuum cleaner and have decided to go down the crowd-funding route. A location was required for their promo video and they asked if they could use the house - we had no objections. I had to stay upstairs and be quiet.

If anyone is interested, here's the link to Lupe Technologies. If you see the image further down on the homepage, some may recognise it as our kitchen. I believe in the product and was an early investor.

Once they leave our cabin (highlighted on the Our Story page of their website) for larger premises, I might turn their cabin into a Lupe Technologies museum - it all started here...

Overheard later in the evening:

Hay: "Did the film guys say what time they'd be back tomorrow?"

Chairman: "Nine."

Hay: "Was that nine o'clock or a German no?"

Monday, 23 October 2017

Cat Meme

Apparently memes are going round of cats behaving badly, with messages from their owners. Here's my contribution - but it's not my cat; it's my neighbour's...

The damned thing has a habit of sleeping on my keyboard.

A new coffee shop has opened in Yate. Gave it a go yesterday while waiting for Next to open so Hay could return the 20 odd items she'd ordered on-line (a constant bugbear with me) and was pleased to find they cater for road warriors - but there's no free internet, which is rather perplexing.

They have those brown sugar lumps that seem to have a dissolve half-life of a million years. Being sited on a car park in the middle of a shopping centre was in inspired choice of site.

Spotted this beautiful double rainbow while returning from taking No.1 Son to the station.

We watched Gunpowder, the new Saturday night drama on BBC. OK, they take a few liberties with historical fact but, on the whole, rather good, despite Kit Wossisname not being a particularly good actor in my opinion. I do, however, take issue with them sporting broadswords when by that time everyone was using rapiers (see, I learned something from that book on Elizabethan swordplay).