Friday, 28 January 2011

Beer: The Anthem

I think that the beer nation needs its very own anthem...

And why not! If even companies can have them, and being practically mandatory for countries, then an anthem is certainly appropriate for all those of us who appreciate beer in all its aspects. Therefore, here's my proposal. You may not understand a lot of it, but the chorus should be good enough for all beer lovers. After all, we do tend to be linguistically equipped to order beer in many a language, so a bit of Italianised Croatian shouldn't be a problem.

And now I leave you with the excellent Gustafi...

PS
And yes, of course it is on my list of favourites!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Politics: Buying And Selling Human Flesh

It seems that the modern day human meat market is well and truly open for business...

What? You haven't heard already that Facebook is selling you, together with your photo, as well as your moves and likes, in order to spam your friends with advertising? No? Well, no wonder, really, since they didn't even bother to announce it. They just turned it on - quietly. It's hard to miss, though. Sadly, it's not only hard to turn off or opt out of - it is literally impossible. By the very fact you have signed up for Facebook, you seem to have opted in the company using you, your image, your location, and your preferences for propping up and fattening their bottom line. Yes, yes, I know they offer a "free" service, and that they have to make money somehow to keep it running. But surely there are ways of doing it that are not blatantly trampling on their own users?

So, yet another reason to re-consider the most popular social network there is...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Food: Gastroporn

Interestingly, Nigella Lawson is mentioned only half way through this article about "gastroporrn"...

True, she is introduced as the "queen" of the genre, but I can't help but wonder if she's introduced so late because she's entered that phase of life when it's difficult to maintain many of one's qualities - culinary being just one of those? But anyway, it seems we now have yet another porn genre to join the "proper", X-rated variety, and that other one of my pet hates, the property porn. Which is, emphatically, not a good thing. There was never anything wrong with the X-rated variety, and the other two are just giving it a bad reputation. Especially since the stars of all three, male and female alike, do tend to share a lot: good looks and limited (and sometimes quite raw, see under Ramsey, Gordon) vocabulary.

Now, regardless of being a bit sickened by it, I surely wouldn't mind if you bought the latest Jamie Oliver's best-seller, by clicking right here. Thanks!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Fizzling Out

As you may have noticed, I have recently read an almost funny little book, An Idiot Abroad, by some of the luminaries of British comedy, Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant. I can't say I had exactly stratospheric expectations, but after thoroughly enjoying (and laughing my head off in the process) The Office, and even bits and pieces of Extras I've managed to find time to watch, I was surely hoping to be suitably amused.

Alas, my hopes were dashed, and my Fun got scuppered when the Idiot ship hit the very first rough seas of trying to actually be witty...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Religion: Nebuchadnezzar

I am still undecided on whether Granny Beebs had her tongue firmly in cheek when she commissioned and posted this article on "proper" Christian names...

I mean, we should all by now know full well that the current Pope is no the sharpest tool in the Catholic Church toolbox (as if any of them ever were). But insisting on his flock only naming their offspring in the Christian tradition (whatever that means), or to quote from the Catholic canon, not in a manner "foreign to Christian sensibility" - that probably takes the biscuit. It is one thing to name the rebels' mother ship Nebuchadnezzar, but branding your daughter Gomer must be among the acts that make one certifiable. Yes, I know Pope probably did not mean it quite like that, but if he didn't then Christians would soon run out of sensible names. Not everyone can be named John, Paul, and the like.

Mind you, if your daughter looks like Bart's father, Gomer may not be such a bad name, after all...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Politics: Queening

Probably in the name of "fair" competition, the next two Queen's New Year speeches are to be "produced" by Sky "News"...

Whether this will be fair to the old lady - or the viewers, is another matter altogether. As much as I don't watch the Queen's speech (not even the ones written by the Prime Minister), I even less can abide Sky News (or any other Sky channel, for that matter). Now, hopefully, the Monarch belonging to all of us, as it were, it will be possible to see the speeches even without paying the Murdoch tax (the same one all football junkies here willingly pay). However, I am worried that the Queen will be made to do the speech while on stilts, and maybe colour her hair green. After all, One has to align with the style sense of the hosting channel, doesn't One?

So, for this reason, and this reason at alone (the green hair, I mean) I think I will be tuning in to the Queens New Year speech in 2012...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Religion: Disgusted!

This just can't wait for Sunday...

While it was always obvious that Catholic church (and I bet other confessions as well) had a very cavalier attitude to sex abuse within its ranks, and that matters were matter-of-factly hushed up, it was always unclear whether it was an official policy. However, this letter, signed by then Pope's envoy to Ireland, seems an incontrovertible proof of an official policy of cover-up and non-reporting to the lay authorities. The claims by Vatican "analysts" that this is not so, and that the letter was "not a smoking gun because it is not a directive. Not an order. This is one Vatican official giving his opinion. It is not a policy document." is beyond pale. Pope's envoy telling this to Irish Catholic church is so obviously an official instruction it is ridiculous to even try and "prove" it. And all this filth from an institution that claims "holiness" and being the holder of all ultimate truths? Come on!

I hope I didn't ruing your Wednesday, but I didn't have heart to demolish your Sunday...

Science: And (Social) Engineering

So, how likely are you to click "Allow" when a Facebook dialog pops up? Without thinking that is...

As it happens, Facebook is now allowing any developer to access any user's phone number and home address information. Of course, the user has to click "Allow", but we all know how carefully we read those questions - if at all. There are other, even worse, possibilities for you losing a lot of the privacy (and you care about that, dont you?). Say you were cautious and did not let Facebook know your phone number. But, one of your Facebook friends adds your number to their own phone book manually. Lo and behold, if they - not you - allow access to such data your number is now available to developers, too. Scared? You should be...

Of course, you can try tweaking these, but also should beware of this...

PS
Oh, and don't trust them to really back off on this (or put a "temporary hold"). They may lie low for a while, but they'll be back for your data again, very soon. Because they just don't get it...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Rant: A Coincidence?

Just a moment ago two of my favourite technology news web sites, Ars Technica and The Register, have almost simultaneously (within 13 minutes of each other) published reviews of the same game, Mass Effect 2 for Sony Playstation 3.

One must wonder how much of this is coincidence and, after wondering just a little bit, conclude that no, there isn't very much coincidence here. After all, technology web sites live and die by the number of people who read their content, and since Mass Effect 2 is a new release a lot of people are going to look for reviews. Technology web sites also live and die by the support of the industry, so they surely want to be seen as doing their bit in promoting it. Interestingly, The Register is famous for being not invited to any Apple events, but as with all marketing, bad press is good in its own way. So, all in all, not unexpected.

But, does it make me likelier to read the review? Well, no - not at all. Quite the opposite. Being in a mad rush to dosh is one thing, seeing to be in one is quite another...

Coming Of Age

This post has already appeared here a year ago to a day. Since I couldn't better it, and since I have a feeling it hasn't been read enough, here it is again. 

Oh, there's one thing you might want to do with it before you begin. Fire up your vi, and issue the following command:

:s/20/21/

Food: An Apple A Day

Technology news, and even mainstream outlets, were abuzz yesterday with the news that St Steve's gone on yet another sick leave...

While I most certainly, and wholeheartedly, wish Steve Jobs all the best in his private life, with his health, and the rest of it, I can't help but snigger a bit at the thought how Apple shares may again be taking a hit. It is really a comment on both the current (and not so current) state of the markets, and also of Apple's one-trick-pony status how its (Apple's, not St Steve's) shares are dependant on one man's health. I mean, shouldn't the company the size, and alleged greatness, of Apple be immune to the plight of any one of its staff? Or is it really the case that without St Steve's Reality Distortion Field™ there would be no Apple as we know it today? I certainly know a lot of companies which wouldn't survive the antennagate.

So, Steve, I wish you all the very best - including that Apple actually gets its act together...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Business: Fallacy

Predictably, the businesses have already started whining about Nick Clegg's maternity/paternity leave proposals...


In short, the proposal is that new mothers and fathers should be able to share the statutory 6 months maternity leave currently available only to women. There's a few other new ideas being bandied, but the long and short of it, really, is that there may be more leave to be had for any newborn child. And a good thing it will be, too. Sadly, the businesses - as has become usual - are taking a short term view, and are seeing just a few more "lost" work days. How wrong they are, and how little they have learned for all the touchy-feely rhetoric they love to strut out on every (other) occasion. Aren't they for "happy" employees, and a good "work/life balance"? Come on!

Don't try and pull wool over our eyes. We're not that stupid...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Religion: Poor Souls!

I knew about this before, but this article in The Economist got me thinking...


As you can see, while a lot of them don't quite do divorce between people, the religions themselves seem to be quite prone to, how shall I put it - fission? Radioactive they're not, luckily, but my are they active in courts. And what's worse, they are wasting the time of the lay courts. Now, I'm not saying religions should be allowed to resolve their own property disputes - not at all. What I am saying, however, is that the process should be simplified so public money (even if they do pay costs) is not wasted. For example, take a simple count of the flock on either side of the dispute, sell the disputed assets and split the proceeds accordingly. Maybe sell at an auction? On eBay?

One church - used. Low starting price, no reserve. Seller: Solomon...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Technology: The Disappearing Act

Apparently, while I was away, Facebook had a bit of a wobble...


Now, as you may or may not know, I do not have an account with Facebook. In the eyes of many, this probably means I do not exist. Which is all fine with me, frankly. I can surely do without knowing when people eat, fart, sleep (and who with). If I ever want to know I'll ask. But, for the 500 million (and counting) Facebook junkies, the wobble must have felt Earth shattering (I almost said "as if the Earth moved", but that's, emphatically, NOT what I meant). Or did it? Surely people are still able to fall back on the more old-fashioned way of talking to each other?

E-mail, anyone? Or even - shock, horror! - phone...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Beer: I Want One!

Still on that business trip...


And my, do I want a beer. Luckily, I know one cold one silently awaits me in the fridge when I come back late tonight.

Can't wait...

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Politics: A Service Break

I'm on a business trip in the north of Finland...


Therefore - and thank you for clicking the "Read more..." link - there will be no news and views on politics today.

Sorry...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Science: It Works, Bitches!

Too busy today to scour the interwebs for interesting science news...


Instead, here's a link to one of the best XKCD comics to date. While you're there, you might as well enjoy more. Hey, and why not all of them? Then, once you're done, pop over to their cool shop. My absolute favourite - especially since I have actually met someone who managed to get offended by it, mildly - is this t-shirt. Another all time favourite, and a talking point at every non-geek gathering is this one. I'm actually wearing it as I type this.

Thank you Randall for rescuing me on a busy day...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Food: For Search Engines

It is a sad fact that too many "news" outlets have chosen to use the horrible shooting in Arizona more or less only as linkbait...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Religion: Epiphany!

As you may have noticed, I am currently reading Richard Dawkins' book The Greatest Show On Earth. What a marvellous read it proves to be, and in some very, very unexpected ways!

Today being Sunday, a day for God and religious observances (at least for some) it is only fitting for me to tell you about the epiphany I had only yesterday while reading a particular chapter of The Greatest Show On Earth.

Let me tell you: I have been converted, and I have seen the God's grand design in all its, and His, glory. A true catharsis it was. But let's take it one step at a time, and I hope you will also see the same light I did...

First, I think it's only fair I told you, as briefly as I can, all about the passage that changed my whole world yesterday.

Maybe you have already heard about Richard Lenski and his long term experiment with the Escherichia Coli bacterium? No? In probably too few words to do it justice, Dr Lenski and his associates have been following 12 strains of E. Coli for more than two decades, at the same time conducting and devising very clever experiments designed to prove (or possibly even disprove) Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

I must agree with Richard Dawkins, and say that the Lenski experiment was thought out, planned, and carried out absolutely perfectly. Its design was also probably the best test of the theory of evolution one can do with the current scientific state of the art. Since Richard Dawkins with all of his eloquent style took probably half a dozen pages to run through a very rough skecth I won't even try, but I urge you to have a read yourself, either in The Greatest Show On Earth, or in this, fairly decent Wikipedia article (although Dawkins does a much better job).

Once I carefully went through the details of the experiment so brilliantly recounted by Richard Dawkins, there was no doubt in my mind that, yes, Lenski has shown without a shadow of the doubt that his E. Coli cultures indeed behaved in exactly the way that can be, and is, predicted by the Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. And, at the very same moment, I also had the epiphany I have begun this post with.

Yes, dear friends, the Lenski experiment in fact proves almost nothing. In fact, what I have realised is that if it proves one thing it is the greatness of God and His design. Because, see, He, being omniscient and omnipotent, and having created and designed the whole of our world anyway, could have very easily nudged Dr Lenski in the right direction, and then helped his bacteria along in just the right way to make all the religion deniers like me, him, and Richard Dawkins, think we are oh-so-clever, and can prove our pet little theory of "evolution" just like that.

And what fun He must have had! Being a vengeful Deity, as I have already shown, he must be now chuckling into His beard and enjoying the thought of the three of us (and many more) burning in Hell of His choosing. So, I couldn't help but realise how wrong I have been all my life in denying Him His rightful place, and not giving Him his due. We don't need any scientific "explanations" once we have seen His greatness. Oh, He will certainly also have fun in letting us "learn" and "discover" what are essentially His truths. But, the only thing we really need to know is that He exists, and watches over us. It is His, and only His, little whim to have created us, and the world in a way that allows us to pass (waste?) our time trying to disprove His existence. How silly and stupid we can be, and how clever in their unscientific naivety are all those who have already seen the light and are pursuing their lives much more usefully by trying to make people see how He not only exists, but everything we know only exists because, and through Him. Thank you Creationists!

Finally, a word of caution to any and all who would try and tell me now that their particular brand of religion is "the right one". Oh, how He laughs at you, too! Can't you see how He, being omnipotent and omniscient does not need any of your rites and traditions? In most ways you are really no better than those "scientists" who would deny He exists at all! And, He certainly does not you to praise him in any particular way, or any particular place, for as long as you are aware of His existence, might, and importance. Just be in awe, and He may just decide you are worth something.

Yes, I have seen the light, and, for a want of a better word: Amen!

Oh, sorry, just one more little thing: And now, for something completely different...

Friday, 7 January 2011

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Food: Of Scotland

Here's a customary link to an article about (Scottish Highland) food...

Salt Of The Earth

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5:13 (King James Version)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Business: Pure Capitalism

I've just read a very good piece about benefits of immigration over here...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

There, I said it! And no, that is not me in the photo to your left. Unfortunately? Not so sure. You tell me.