Friday, 31 March 2017

Those Annoying Little Jobs

Why the hell do  people use portrait mode when videoing something on their phone? Looks totally naff and unprofessional. 

Now we have the lighter evenings I've been trying to do a few jobs around the house, like clean our limestone floors with my pressure washer and and fix a couple of chips in it. When the floors were laid the installers left me with a pot of powdered limestone, a pot of white cement and a pot of lime. I've never had any success in making a hard-setting mixture and have tried all manner of combinations and ratios. Look it up on Google and all you get is companies wanting to sell you their grout, which I ain't doing.

Finally hit on the idea of using a two-pack epoxy glue that I just happened to have lying around and mixing it with the limestone powder, filling the damaged areas with that, and pressing more limestone powder into it before it sets.

As with anything with epoxy glue added to it, the colour darkens on application.  Once dry I thought I might get the limestone colour back with some judicious rough sanding.

No - didn't work. Went back to the grout mix and used about 4:1 sandstone and cement, leaving the lime out completely. Still as soft as chalk. Had a word with our builder and neighbour, Colin, who told me the cement was probably too old - I've had it nearly 4 years, and thinking about it, he's right; cement has  a shelf-life, and 4 years is well beyond that.

Talking of Colin, he's taken advantage of his Mrs being away to get rid of his lawn and replace it with artificial turf. I have to admit that it looks fantastic. It even has fake little dead bits in it to make it look more realistic.

Unlike us, with a whole field, he only has a postage stamp sized garden - but with young kids, so this stuff is perfect.

Talking of grass, the welder finally answered his mobile and will get back to me on Monday as to when he can do the job on the mower cutting deck. So, no lawnmower for the best part of a week.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Garden Gate Holiday Rip-offs

Anyone else remember having garden gates like these as a kid?

They were usually cream and black.

We're having a week in Murrisk on the west coast of Ireland later this year, staying with an ex work colleague who has converted an annex into a holiday let. A week of walking, kayaking (hopefully) and sightseeing in gorgeous countryside framed by mountains and the sea, as you can see from her photos below. 

Yesterday morning I wanted to book the Bristol airport car parking. There is a myriad sites that maintain they can get a better deal for you if booking in advance - one is Airparks. Tried them and the cost would have been £46.99, which they allege is a saving of £17.01. What that is a saving over is not mentioned - for obvious reasons - but you're led to think it's over the standard price when booking direct. 

Being a suspicious individual, I went to the official Bristol Airport car park site and got exactly the same price. Bastards! Beware of these sites that make you believe you'll get a better price by booking through them. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Gas (Welding) Man Cometh

It's that time of year again - lawn mowing.

Removed the ride-on mower's deck belt in order the get the bodge that's held it together for the last year welded. Took a bit of effort, but got there in the end. Don't think it's ever been off in the mower's life.

One of the pulleys is out of line due to a weld having cracked and being bodged previously. I tried levering it into the semblance of alignment using hose clips attached to another upright, but it's once more shredding belts, so time for a proper repair.

Too fiddly for me to attempt - the only welding experience I have is to welding 10mm steel plate, not wafer thin mild steel, added to which my welding gear's mask is so dark it precludes seeing anything at all. Needs cropping, reinforcing and gas welding by a professional. 

Emailed the local TopWeld guy, but no  response after 24 hours. Followed it up with a call to his number yesterday - got his voice mail and he didn't get back to me. Will probably have to find an Eastern European to do it...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hotel Staff Laptops

One thing I forget to mention about the hotel we stayed at in Porlock. You hear these apocryphal stories about British people not wanting to do menial jobs; well, on our departure we got speaking to the hotel manager who was short of staff. He'd advertised for two staff and two Brits sent him their cv. A trial shift was organised, but both of them failed to turn up - not a peep from either of them as to why. He added that any Europeans he offered a trial were guaranteed to turn up and invariably got the job. All the staff I had dealings with (with the exception of the manager) had foreign accents.

Seems the selective airline laptop ban in unworkable, according to experts, as those having to put their laptops in hold baggage can mix with those who don't in the airport departures lounge and be handed a laptop. The only way this would work is for security checks to be done again at the departure gate, or for laptops to be banned on all flights. Experts, eh?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Eurovision Holiday Weekend

Overheard during my birthday weekend trip:

Chairman: "This is the best cream tea I've ever had - much better than a Devon cream tea. By the way, where are we?"

Hay: "Devon."

Later - the Chairman has an itch and is scratching his bum.

Hay: "Something in your eye, Badger?"

While passing through Lynmouth I spotted what was advertised as a 14th century tea room. I  wasn't aware there were such things as tea rooms in the 14th century, et alone tea. That said, I suppose roving baronial armies must have needed somewhere to  stop off for a cream tea before besieging the odd foe's castle, but could you imagine the problems with all those pikes -  could have had someone's eye out in a tea room.

The place we stayed overnight in Porlock, Millers at the Anchor, is very quirky, but beautiful and I can't recommend it highly enough. I had a look at some  of the guest comments, and as usual, you had the vegetarian brigade making a damned nuisance of themselves and complaining about the lack of variety in the vegetarian dishes. A vegetarian option is a bloody concession, not a basic human right!

I believe there's some kerfuffle about Russia's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. This bloody event is becoming a larger diplomatic nightmare with each passing year. It would appear countries try to get themselves banned so as to garner sympathy. The best thing Britian could with Brexit looming is to submit a song called 'Up Yours Germany' and get banned. That would get us sympathy from other European nations for Brexit negotiations and we might get an easy ride...

Talking of Brext, Countryfile was again speaking to farmers on last night's programme - specifically Welsh hill farmers. A sheep farmer was saying that 80% of his income is from EU subsidies and he faces ruin. Doubtless the Brexiteers will today again be shouting; "Unfair and biased BBC reporting," from their fake, Utopian echo chambers, into which inconvenient truths are forbidden to enter. They'll conveniently ignore the report on adders and the fact Brexit will not  affect them in the slightest, nor indeed the black grouse...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Stiff Upper Lip

Don't know about you, but I'm detecting a creeping emotional exhibitionism evident in the news. It all seemed to start with the death of Princess Diana and has just got worse in the last 20 years. Rather than new stories concentrating on the news and giving us a few basic facts, we're fed a constant stream of 'human interest' stories that delve into the lives of individuals who have suffered tragedies. News media have become like women's magazines. I find it all somewhat vapid, mawkish and very un-British.

Yes, people having suffered a tragedy need to grieve, but not in public and certainly not the whole damned nation, as if they were our personal friends. When a tragedy happens at the other end of the country, even the local news focuses on it to analyse its impact on the local area, however tenuous (or even totally non-existent) that may be. From being a nation renowned for its stiff upper lip and just carrying on, Britain has become a nation of sentimentalists that are portrayed as needing trauma therapy whenever something untoward happens (which I don't actually believe to be the case).

An example is the recent media headlines saying that Britian is 'recovering' from the London attack. No it's not -  for the vast majority of people it was an incident that had no impact on their lives whatsoever. The Daily Mail castigated Holyrood for continuing with business after a brief lull, rather than packing up early and slinking off with their tails between their legs. Carry on, I say!

It may not be politically correct to say this, but the news media is also over-using the term hero or heroine for people who do something at no, or very minimal, personal risk to themselves. The term has become debased through overuse by the media to the  extent that someone who is accidentally thrust into danger and does no more than anyone else in a similar situation would do, is hailed as a hero. No, a hero is someone who purposely thrusts him or herself into danger, knowing the possible consequences or, finding him or  herself in a perilous situation, does something extraordinary. Achilles was a hero; not every last Greek soldier outside the gates of Troy was a hero. Capt. Oates was a hero; not everyone who  goes fell walking is a hero. Heroes are a rare commodity.

Perhaps it's a generational thing, or aligned to the slow demise of the public school system where psychological resilience was prized and admired and passed down.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Friday Jaunt

Went on a little jaunt yesterday to use up the last of my 2016 holiday allocation and spent some of it in this place, which many will recognise from a famous '70s TV advert directed by a young Ridley Scott for a brand of bread. The advert made out it was somewhere up north, but it's actually in Dorset.

Allegedly it's England's steepest street - Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.

We came back via Glastonbury which, despite being only 30 miles away, I've never visited before.

Most of the shops there sell crystal magic bollocks and many of the inhabitants walk around wearing beatific smiles and uniforms comprising kaftans or 70's style patchwork clothes. They look stoned, if you ask me. Incense emanates from most shops and it's like being in a theme park for superannuated hippies. You feel like telling them to just grow up.

Also took in Lytes Carey Manor in Dorset - National Trust, Elizabethan and quite beautiful. Must be one of the few NT houses in the SW not funded by the slave trade.

Apologies for the quality of the photos - it's that blasted temporary phone I'm having to use while mine's being repaired.

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Typical Cotswolds Pub

Hayley's on holiday now till she starts her new job in a month's time. Next week she's off to Broadway in the Cotswolds with her dad and his girlfriend for a few days (functioning as chauffeur and general factotum), leaving me behind to get some peace and quiet.

She was looking for somewhere to stop off for lunch with the old folk and alighted on the website of The New Inn at Coln St Aldwyns. She looked all over the website for a menu, but none was to be found. She could watch a video of the chef talking about his rare breeds, but not find a bloody menu! She had to phone them to get them to email it to her.

It seems to be one of those Cotswolds pubs that's suffered an upmarket make-over that has turned it into anything but a typical Cotswolds pub, despite the website calling it such. The only place this looks like a typical Cotswold pub is in in the pages of Ideal Homes magazine. It's a Londoner's idealised image of a traditional Cotswold pub and run by someone called Rupert or Sebastian. Hate the places - all Farrow and Ball paint and MDF - it's just an excuse to bump up the price of the food, as evidenced by £13 for fish and chips, £14 for a risotto and £16 for a piece of chicken breast. I was incredulous.

A typical Cotswold pub has lots of damp, as befitting a building several hundred years old, as well as a hideous toilet that's always cold. It serves beers you've never heard of before from local breweries, is a bit rough and ready and, if you're lucky, has delicious food at reasonable prices that locals don't need a mortgage to pay for.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Pig Pen Tapping Bias

Had to laugh yesterday: I was busy sending emails to  customers and one was called Franzia Eckhoff. Her email address is f.eckhoff@xxxx. I guess she gets comments all the time.

Seems I may have been right about Trump's people being 'incidentally intercepted' while the US security services were monitoring Russians. This isn't going to turn out well for Trump, as he's more or less admitted people on his team were communicating with the Russians. Someone will have a field day with this and his ego will eventually get the better of him.

I'm a tad confused about this airplane cabin laptop ban. Surely a laptop going through a passenger security check with you means it gets much closer inspection than if it's in hold luggage that isn't actually opened? You have to take your laptop out of your cabin baggage and open it (although no always). I just can't see the point of it. Perhaps hold luggage does get closer inspection after all. And why only on certain flights - can't terrorists board planes in Europe or the USA? If I were asked, I'd say Mr May is slavishly following Trump's illogical agenda.

Whenever I put on a clean top, Hay always makes comments, such as; "Ah, a clean canvass for you to do your work on by the end of the day." I have to admit that I do seem to attract a lot of muck to whatever I'm wearing and light colour are anathema to me ever hoping to put something clean on in the morning and go out in the same clothing in the evening. Hay's convinced that Pig Pen from the Charlie Brown cartoons was modeled on me.

The question of BBC bias is in the news, yet again. The BBC regularly comes out in studies as being close to centre, if  slightly left. That's  hardly surprising when you consider the people who work there are usually of graduate quality and there's a distinct correlation between educational level and political leanings. Bias can never be eliminated, yet the fact both the left and the right complain about BBC bias suggest  to me that the BBC has it just about right.

What the BBC should never be is a  mouthpiece for the government of the day. The BBC also regularly comes out in studies as being harder on the government than the opposition - which again is hardly surprising, given government calls the shots and needs to be more accountable.

There's no denying that the further to the right or left you are, the further away from your position you're going to see anything centrist. Those that complain most about the BBC seem to come from the extremities, not the centre.

The total elimination of bias, by giving the breath of legitimacy to ridiculous stories, is not in the best interests of news reporting either. There is a creeping 'balance' being given to news, which is counter to investigative journalism and the search for truth. One only needs to  think about the MMR scandal.

Talking of the MMR scandal, one thing I take issue with in journalism is science reporting. A single study may show something new but, until several studies corroborate that finding, it's not consensus - it's merely an hypothesis - yet the news media report it as hard fact. This is why we get conflicting stories about what's good for us  and what's bad for us. It's not the fault of the science, it's the undue weight given to single studies by the media. The Daily Mail had a field day with Andrew Wakefield and must have thought Christmas, Easter and several birthdays had come at once; a story about kids, science and vaccines - what a crowd puller. The fact kids died through not having measles vaccinations can be laid directly at the feet of the DM and its pitifully poor science reporting.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Galaxy S7 Edge Unedged.

Regarding the death of Martin McGuinness; much as I detest Norman Tebbit, I can't blame him for not having a good word to say about him. I would probably feel the same had I been at the end of an IRA bombing. That said, it's so welcome to see the vast majority of those across the political divide giving him credit for the work he did in eventually bringing about peace in Northern Ireland. Neither side was blameless.

As for Colin Dexter's death - who do you reckon dun it?

Phone went into a bootloop on Monday night while charging and started to overheat while we were asleep. It was lucky I came down at 00:30 and unplugged it, as it was so hot I could hardly touch it. Couldn't even switch it off and had to put it in the fridge for 5 minutes before I could get  any sense out of it. Took it back to Vodafone yesterday morning and hopefully Samsung will either replace it or change the battery. There was a very real chance it could have burst into flames.

The Galaxy S7 Edge is one of those stupid phones that are factory sealed, so you can't simply change the battery yourself. A retrograde step taken up by many manufacturers. It was problems with the battery that caused the Note 7 issues.

There's a good chance Samsung'll try it on and say it's out of warranty due to me having installed Nougat, but providing it's a hardware fault (of which I'm 100% convinced, as numerous factory resets, operating in safe mode and even switching the firmware didn't cure the problem), an EU law says they have to repair it under warranty for 2 years. See, there are many such EU laws which protect the consumer.

In the meantime, Vodafone have given me a crappy old device that's slow as treacle, has as much memory as an Alzheimer's patient and is running Kit-Kat. I'm using it with a skeleton set of apps.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Countryfile Technology

What with flashing phones with new software at age 62 (well, I will be tomorrow), I surely can't be typical of my age group? I should be asking my  kids how to operate the TV remote and all kinds of things like that, but invariably I find myself giving them technical advice.

I was trawling through various Fabceook posts early yesterday morning and alighted on one of those ideologue Brexit posts - the kind where dissent or reality aren't allowed, where Brexit is almost a religion to be enforced and any factual disclosure is met with tirades of abuse. Ultra-Brexiteers, as I call them, were complaining about BBC Countryfile's alleged pro-Remain stance on Sunday evening, where Tom Heap reported on the plight of market gardeners and the lack of migrant workers to harvest this year's produce. 

Mantras abounded, such as; "There are many Brits who would do the job," when, plainly, there aren't (as evidenced by not a single Brit any longer applying for these jobs), and; "They should go to the EU if they like it so much," "Totally unacceptable," and; "Totally biased reporting," all of which demonstrate a complete refusal to engage with reality. 

Ultras were threatening to switch off in their droves. Hello! - the programme is about farming and farmers who, in the main, are anti-Brexit. Market gardeners, almost to a man, are anti-Brexit. The item was factual, unbiased in terms of reporting and highlighted the problems Brexit will bring to our market gardeners. Market gardeners were interviewed, for heaven's sake, so it wasn't as if words were being put into  their mouths.

The post-war, idyllic, Darling Buds of May days, when East End London families went out to Kent in the summer to pick hops and fruit are long over. University students on summer vacation either want to go home, work in a pub or get an internship to aid employment prospects. Unemployed people don't want to work in seasonal jobs involving living in a Spartan barracks redolent of Stalag Luft IV for weeks on end - they look for permanent jobs and the ability to be home every night.

The Ultra's position is to put his or her fingers in his or her ears and shout; "La, la, la, la," while trotting out the magical incantations we're familiar with, in the firm belief they protect them from nasty facts that don't adhere to their dogma. It's like reading the ramblings of flat Earthers or  Young Earth Creationists. Many even seem to express a gleeful joy that market gardeners are facing ruin and it being their own fault for using migrants.

What a country this has become when dogmatic ideology triumphs over intellect, rationality and reasoning. Of course some sections of the economy are going to be hurt badly - that's why the referendum was such a close run thing. Is it to be forbidden to report facts that don't agree with ideology? Is TV to become one, long, tedium of sanitised, pro-Brexit, groupthink in the hands of these Ultras?

Monday, 20 March 2017

VE Day


No.1 Son: "Remember when you cut part of your finger off and it went into the chili con carne?"

Chairman: "It was tasty, wasn't it?"

No.1 Son: "You didn't mention it till after I'd eaten it."

It was only a nick...

Happy 100th Birthday, Dame Vera Lynn. As a kid I remember my mum singing her songs incessantly as she was cleaning the house.

Apropos of the above, I  was reading some drivel on the Leave Facebook page about a proposal for a UK Independence (or Brexit) Day once our separation from Europe is complete. It'll be just like VE Day and it can mark the start of food rationing...

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Man Cave

I was assisting Hay in cleaning the cabins yesterday and, while putting a few items away, I came across this in Cabin No.1 - Cabin No.1 being rented to a couple of electronics engineers.

Now, whereas I see nothing strange in keeping electric motors in kitchen cupboards, Hay thought otherwise.

Just who is this Ed Sheeran bloke who  seems to be omnipresent?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Sneezing Medications

The meme doing the rounds concerning Trump having met with the leader of the free world (aka Angela Merkel) yesterday is quite amusing. One wonders how much longer this paranoid-psychotic can cling on to power before the men in white coats come to take him away for treatment.

Taking advantage of us both having a day off yesterday, Hay and I went for a coastal walk at Sand Point near Weston Super Mare, followed by a coffee at a sea-front restaurant in Clevedon. The restaurant was filled to the gills with retired people in their 70s and 80s (Clevedon and Weston are popular retirement destinations) and Hay noted that hardly any of them were drinking. It then struck her that alcohol probably interfered with all the medications they are taking.

Are you one of the 18~35% of the population who have the gene that when you want to sneeze, looking a a bright light brings it on faster? Hay simply refuses to believe me when I tell her of this effect, which is known as the Photic Sneeze Reflex.

I can sometimes be sat looking at a bright light for half a minute to encourage a sneeze, sporting a vapid, open-mouthed expression that suggests I'm having a fit or in a trance.

The switch to Nougat on my Galaxy S7 Edge hasn't rid it of the random reboot syndrome (even when operating it in safe mode), so the conclusion is that it's a hardware issue.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Kefir Fatigue

Do you think Trump wears a tin-foil hat at home?

Am I the only person in the UK who, without fail, has to have a 2nd eye test when getting spectacles from Specsavers? Every time I get new specs, one lens just isn't right and I have difficulty seeing through it, necessitating another eye test and another wait of a couple of weeks.

Perfected the kefir making. The secret would appear to be to multiply your kefir grains to at least one tablespoon full per pint of milk before trying to make anything even resembling kefir. Unless you have that amount, you'll be waiting forever for the fermentation to happen and when it does it won't be thick.

Blitzing some frozen fruit (the type you get in packets at Iceland) and adding that to the kefir improves the taste too. A few blueberries are excellent, but mango just doesn't have enough flavour to do anything really beneficial to it.

Here are a couple of photos of my grains, which started out very tiny and less than half a teaspoon full. and have grown to a couple of tablespoons. They look like miniature cauliflower florets.

That said, I'm just about over my kefir fascination. Getting to be a bore now. Peak kefir has come and gone. Kefir fatigue has set in. Going to put this little microbial colony to sleep in the freezer for a bit. Apparently they can last a year, or possibly more, in the freezer.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hiding in the Open

Our neighbour's cat has been hiding in our house again!

Behind the object we most look at in the evening seems to be the logical place to not advertise his position...

Talking of hiding, this Android Nougat on my phone is a bit of a bugger - different on-line cloud systems are competing to store my photos for free and it's difficult to switch these facilities off. A couple of photos I took yesterday must be in at least three different cloud systems, none being the one I actually use seriously. No wonder it's so easy for hackers to obtain celeb photos.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Nationalistic Smartphones

Well, the Brexit vote appears to have released the nationalism genie from the bottle, and it will be impossible to put the stopper back in. The EU is falling apart, the UK is falling apart and I hear Old Sodbury is declaring unilateral independence. Cameron should have limited the referendum to the individual nations, and if just one voted to remain, then the lot should have remained. The group is more important, and stronger, than the individual. 

Spent most of yesterday in a mild panic. The random rebooting of my Galaxy S7 Edge became intolerable over the weekend and so I resolved to return the damned thing. However, the Vodafone shop offered to merely send it off to Samsung and give me a temporary phone. Given the problem is random and (I  think) aligned to the battery level, that would not have resulted in a solution and the phone being handed back after a week. So, I did yet another factory reset, but managed to screw it up by finger poking, resulting in an FRP lock which made the phone useless.

Eventually managed to discover that if I re-flashed the firmware I could overcome the issue. Found the latest relevant firmware, flashed it and discovered I'd downloaded Android Nougat by mistake. No problem - it's the latest pre-release version, so I'm ahead of the curve and it might just have cured the random rebooting.

Can't see any obvious benefits over Marchmallow, however, and there are a few bugs with the standard keyboard when logging into Apps, but I use the Swiftkey keyboard anyway, so not an issue. Rooting isn't recommended yet, so I'll leave that for the time being.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Elites - we've always had them and there would be anarchy without them. From tribal leaders to war lords to kings to Prime Ministers and Presidents. What's the obsession with getting rid of them - what do the people who want to get rid of them want to replace them with? Direct democracy is no more than the tyranny of the majority and can be as bad as the worst of the elites. 

The cry of the day is that certain sections of society feel they have no voice, but they have the same voice as everyone else through the ballot box. If the elites were swept away and replaced by an autocratic government, do they think they'd have more of a voice? Chances are they'd have no voice at all. In their eagerness to rid themselves of elites they could find themselves with something infinitely worse - like Trump.

Do you think Erdoğan going to enforce a kebab interdict on the Netherlands? That said, was there really a valid reason for the Germans, Dutch, et al to ban Turkish political rallies? It's just playing to Erdoğan's victimhood narrative, and the response plays to that of the far right. 

As for the Scottish thing - it seems to me that every time Mrs May takes a swing at Mrs Sturgeon, she ends up hitting her own face and the argument she uses against Scottish independence can be equally leveled at her and Brexit.

Monday, 13 March 2017

A Carrier by Any Other Name

People Carrier - where on earth did that specific name come from when all cars are designed as people carriers? We don't half give things some silly names.

If anything, is should be called a slightly more people carrier...

Took this photo of an airborne people carrier flying over the house this morning. from the colour of the trail, I'm sure it must be burning diesel.

On another note, I wonder if Erdoğan is going to build a wall around Europe? The world is going mad and I fear the lurch to the far right is making politics so unstable that it will take just a small spark to kick off something that everyone will come to regret.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

PC Nonesense

I couldn't believe my ears when listening to the news yesterday morning. A female judge has warned women who get drunk that they are putting themselves in danger of being targeted by rapists. Some bloody PC idiot from an outfit called Rape Crisis then slammed her comments as "outrageous" and "misguided". Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of Rape Crisis South East, said: "As a judge and a woman she should know better. "The only person who is responsible for rape is the rapist. "Women are yet again being blamed for rape."

What utter, unadulterated, unmitigated, idiotic, politically correct garbage. The judge was just saying that if you get wrecked you make yourself more vulnerable - not a word about blame.
  • Rapists exist,
  • They prey on vulnerable women,
  • Getting bladdered makes  you extremely vulnerable and, additionally,
  • If you're wasted then your testimony can't be relied upon as much as if you were sober.
These are incontrovertible facts and I dare anyone to gainsay this without bending the laws of logic. This Yvonne Traynor is very the reason people get so annoyed by political correctness.

What Yvonne Traynor actually means by her criticism is that the judge's words don't suit the narrative of Rape Crisis, on which she depends for a job. Whereas the judge said that there are eminently sensible ways of reducing the risk of being raped, Traynor is in effect saying women should actually feel no compunction about putting themselves at increased risk, because it won't be their fault anyway. She's actually inviting them to get raped.

If we look at culpability; leave your door unlocked and your insurers won't be too happy with any claim and will likely reject it; the burglar, if caught, will still get locked up though. If you're wrecked and walk out in front of an oncoming car, I'm sure a court would find you at least partially culpable if the driver was speeding and entirely and irresponsibly culpable if the driver was doing the speed limit. In fact, I can't think of a single example in civil life where if you act such as to increase the risk you aren't at least partially culpable for the consequences of ensues.

You know how antibiotic resistant bacteria are now a problem? I think we have the same issue with an intelligence-resistant strain of humans.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Self Security

I forgot to mention something I found rather strange during my departure from Mariehamn. I arrived at the tiny airport rather early for my flight and it was obvious that the place was running with a skeleton crew of one person, who seemed to function both as overnight security and check-in clerk. 

After a wait of around an hour the place started to come to life and the baggage security check staff started to arrive. The first to arrive opened the glass door to the passenger screening area and proceeded to screen herself - she placed her coat in a tray and put it through the baggage scanner, going through the person scanner to the other side to check the results of the baggage scan. It all seemed a bit pointless - even if there's an audit trail she could easily have pushed something dodgy round air-side.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Plane Sailing

You have to admire those KLM pilots - just how the hell did someone manage to land that plane there?

There are some things I hate about flying:
  1. The person in the security queue who has never flown before and keeps having to go through the security procedure about ten times because they forgot to remove some metal item from their person.
  2. The person who doesn't prepare for the security procedure and takes forever to lay out his or her effects.
  3. The person who, when boarding a plane, blocks the aisle by carefully positioning their luggage in the overheard locker and and proceeds to strip down and carefully place their clothing in the locker too.
  4. The person in the aisle seat who is no hurry to disembark - especially when you have a connecting flight to make.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Nordic IT Architecture

Another image of Mariehamn yesterday. Wonderful architecture.

One thing I noticed while wandering the streets for my appointments; there's a free, city-wide Wi-Fi system. How enlightened!

Not the fastest of speeds, but more than adequate if you're on the move around town.

Saw on the BBC news that the Azure Window on Gozo has finally collapsed. Glad we saw it in 2013, but we didn't go on it. I think at the time the authorities had banned tourists because it was unsafe.They were obviously right - their engineers are experts after all. It was just a matter of time

Brexiteers, take note.

Oh well, headed home today.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Finnish Confections

Saw a headline on the BBC News website saying that Kit Kat is to lose 10% of its sugar. Does that mean Kit Kat is the next confection to reduce its size by 10% and stay the same price, or that the cost of importing sugar is now so astronomic, given the ridiculously low value of sterling?

Talking of confections, I bought one in Stockholm airport yesterday evening.

I'm travelling with a Norwegian colleague - he advised me not to eat it, saying it tastes like shit.

Arrived in Mariehamn to find it snowing and there were no taxis. After a five minute wait I noticed someone using a phone in the foyer - you had to phone taxis on demand. When one did arrive, it took three of us simultaneously - we were all headed to the same hotel. We were also each charged the full taxi fare. That's enterprise.

There are two hotels here - both owned and operated by the same outfit. I had to check into one, then walk 100 yards up the road to the other one, where I'm staying. Unfortunately the bar and restaurant is in the first hotel and not the one I'm staying at.

I'm impressed by the hotel Wi-Fi - 17mbps in both directions - the best I've ever seen, but you'd expect that in a Finnish hotel. Good at technology, the Finnish.

I say Finnish, because the island belongs to Finland yet, strangely enough, most of the population actually speaks Swedish. The history of the Aland Islands is interesting to read.

The locals are driving around on this snow, which would be suicidal in the UK. However, snow tyres are mandatory here between November and April.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Mariehamn Bugs

I'm off on my travels once again in a couple of hours - this time for a business meeting on a little Finnish island in the Baltic called Aland; specifically to its capital, Mariehamn.

Bugger of a place to get to; I  have to fly to Amsterdam, then Stockholm and then Mariehamn and it's going to take me all day. Once there I have a couple of meetings  on Wednesday and then can't get out again till early Thursday morning, following the same track back and returning home Thursday evening. A good chance to check it out, however, as a possible holiday destination and I'm quite looking forward to visiting somewhere I've never been before.

All this furore about Trump Towers being bugged - here's my conspiracy theory. Now, this is what we are being told:

  1. Something spooked Trump into believing his offices were bugged - so some conversation got out that couldn't have been heard by any 3rd parties, unless the conversation was subject to an intercept.
  2. Official sources say no-one bugged his office - in any case, Obama could not have bugged a US citizen without a federal judge's approval, for which he must have just cause.
Assuming Trump isn't just lying (hard to believe for a person the Washington Post has tracked as lying, on average, 4.5 times a day), for 1 and 2 above to remain logically consistent, it's eminently feasible that the object of the bugging was not Trump Towers, but the Russian Embassy or a Russian diplomat, which would be a legit surveillance target, and Trump or his cronies were possibly heard on that intercept but, crucially, at the other end of a bugged phone line. That would also chime with the Justice Department not saying anything, as they don't want blow the gaff to the Russians they're tapping. Trump just possibly jumped to the wrong conclusion - to his cost - believing his people were the object of the intercept, whereas they were an unexpected casualty and bonus catch.

We can but wait and see what plays out and whether it comes back to bite  him in the bum as part of the law of unintended consequences.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Overheard Wolves

Overheard when Hay went into my tool shed:

Hay: "Who's been buying pressure washers at Lidl?"

Chairman: "I used my dinner money."

Hay: "Dinner money?"

Chairman: "Well, I didn't get back home till late Friday night, so we didn't go out to dinner."

Overheard in Lidl:

Hay: "Do you want a bottle of Côtes du Rhône?"

Chairman: "No - don't really like French wines. They haven't got the hang of it yet."

Hay: "Crianza?"

Chairman: "Isn't that a large piece of living room furniture? Oh no, that's a credenza."

I've often wondered if, when you're being attacked by a wolf, the best weapon is a stick - not to beat it with or fend it off, but to throw, hoping the wolf would stop in its tracks and go and chase the stick.

If there's a dog breed I hate with a vengeance, it's the chihuahua. They have a massive chip on their diminutive shoulders and have a habit if sitting stock still, peering at you sideways with their pop-eyes and snarling. Detest the little buggers. Nearest thing to a cornered rat.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Presidential Twitter

I don't use Twitter, or rather, I haven't used Twitter in a very, very long time. Certainly not in the last 5 or 6 years. I did dabble with it when it was first launched. Despite deleting my account (or so I thought), I keep getting emails from Twitter to resubscribe to my original account. This morning I thought; "Why not?"

Once I'd signed in I wondered what to do next. Some suggestions of people to 'Follow' were presented to me and near the top of the list was Donald Trump. Had a quick scan and thought I'd stumbled into an alternate reality. Page after page of angry rants that look like the ramblings of an unhinged, paranoid psychpath with a narcissistic disorder.

I then found Barak Obama's Twitter feed and had a quick scan of that. What a contrast! Calm, measured, insightful. Obama uses his Twitter feed to inspire an inform; Trump uses his to levy baseless accusations and vent fury. Makes you ponder Trump's suitability for President.

Trump has 24M follower; Obama has 85,3M. That's going to annoy the hell out of Trump...