Thursday, 31 January 2013

Dinosaur over the cuckoo's nest

I heard a story about the billboard outside a cinema in 1975.  They pasted up the poster for the Disney movie One of our Dinosaurs is Missing . . .

One of our dinosaurs is missing - Disney
One of our dinosaurs is missing - Disney

. . . and underneath it there was this amazing and amusing coincidence . . .

One flew over the cuckoo's nest - was it a dinosaur?
One flew over the cuckoo's nest - was it a dinosaur?

Apparently, one of them flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Thermodynamics of Hell

You sometimes see amusing explanations using science to demonstrate that heaven is actually hotter than hell, or that hell is endothermic or exothermic.  (Don't let those words put you off reading further!)

But what about the concept of the eternal existence of hell?  Is it even a possibility that eternal torment can be maintained?

The second law of thermodynamics seems to suggest that it is not possible. It uses mathematics to describe the way that hot things cool down and that the universe will end its days uniformly cold and lifeless. 

Of course maybe hell is not in this universe but in one where our laws of physics do not operate.  And just in case you get too excited about this, bear in mind that it might take trillions of years to ensure that hell is cold enough to be comfortable.

So that leaves us with one of the usual quandaries. 

Even if hell exists in some non-physical sense, what kind of merciful god would sentence someone to torment for a mere trillion years just because of the sins that they committed during an adult lifetime of a few decades?

Would you worship a god like that?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Epimenides brings a paradox to the bible

Those who claim the infallibility of the bible might not have noticed something hidden in the book of Titus.  It is a version of a paradox attributed to a Cretian called Epimenides.  It is said that he made one immortal statement:

"All Cretians are liars."

As the Wikipedia article says, a paradox of self-reference arises when one considers whether it is possible for Epimenides, as a Cretian to have spoken the truth. 

In the book of Titus it appears in this form:

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Titus 1: 12-13 (Authorised Version)

So are people from Crete always liars or is this one telling the truth?  When verse 13 says that this witness (evidence) is true, which part is true?  They can't both be true can they.

It seems that the Epimenides Paradox was regarded as a bit of a joke in the first century, and it is surprising to find a joke in the bible, even if when one is quite well hidden from modern eyes.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Over-rated champagne?

Do you like champagne?  It is not fashionable to criticise it, but it seems to be used a little bit too frequently at celebrations, major or minor.  I'm not (necessarily) suggesting that it is too frequently from the point of view of the taste but too frequently because it is sold at a premium price.

There is a Yorkshire word that is rarely used outside the county - and I don't really know how to spell it . . .


. . . or something like that (as I have never seen it written down) has a specific and distinct meaning.  It means that its not that I can't afford something, but I just don't think it is worth that much money.  If it was in more common usage I would be very pleased, and it would have application in many situations.

Madame Bollinger apparently disagreed - but then again it must have been more cheaply available to her.  Anecdotally she said

"I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad.  Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone.  When I have company I consider it obligatory.  I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am.  

"Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty."

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The small matter of orientation - that's solar panel orientation

I have been thinking about installing some solar panels.  Now obviously if you are installing them on a building, it is easy to see that mounting the panels to face in some directions would be better than others.  In the Northern hemisphere, pointing the panels in a generally southerly direction is obviously better than a northerly direction.  At a particular time of year it might even be possible to find the optimum angle.

However, on a movable structure - namely a boat - it would be much more difficult to choose the best direction.  On any day of the year the boat might be facing to the North, South, East and West at some time of the day.  That could leave you constantly worrying about setting your panels to produce the largest amount of power.  This is something that I don't want to bother with.

The one direction that you can always guarantee to point to, with reasonable accuracy, is UPWARDS!   So I have been wondering whether this is could be the best compromise.  Obviously it is not the very best in ideal conditions, but from the point of view of a pragmatist who wants a tidy roof and the least possible bother, would this be a silly choice?

It seems not.  According to this site, pointing vertically upwards will lose 10% of the optimum energy collection (in the UK at least).  At lower latitudes that loss would obviously be reduced.  A mere 10% loss is much better than pointing the panels in completely the wrong direction for a lot of the time.

Now the only problem is that England is often rainy.  A flat panel will collect water.  How much shall I tilt the panels to keep them clean and relatively dry?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Forlorn snowmen

As the big thaw hits the south of England, I came across a slightly melancholy sight . . .

Forlorn and melting snowmen in the school playing field.
Forlorn and melting snowmen in the school playing field
This is a photo of the remains of a crowd of snowmen in the school playing field in East Hagbourne, Oxforshire.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Children drive parents to distraction!

Are the children of this century harder to deal with than in the last?  I doubt it.  I suspect that children have always pushed the limits and made life difficult for their parents.

My mother says that I didn't (although I don't think I really believe her).  Perhaps that demonstrates a flaw in my character, or in her memory (or mine).

I suspect that my de-conversion from Christianity to determined atheism hasn't even affected her view on that topic.  She will never be an atheist, but I'm sure she understands why I have arrived in this state.

I observe other parents of today struggling with their own children and I sometimes want to reassure them with a classical quotation.  How about this one?

"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannise their teachers." -- Socrates

So it is not a very new problem then!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Snowmen guard against flooding . . .

The radio woke me this morning, as usual, and in a state of half sleep I heard a news story that the UK Government was asking people to build snowmen.

Well of course, by the time I was fully awake (a few hours later!) I started to wonder whether I had imagined it.  But no!  I hadn't.  Someone really had suggested that the risk of flooding as the snow thaws would be mitigated if some of the snow was in larger, denser heaps, so that it melted more slowly.

Could this make a difference in real terms?  Yes of course -  but only if every family in the country made a few snowmen of the prodigious proportions illustrated here.

Massive snowman - protecting us against flooding!

This glorious edifice was built in Bishops Auckland this week.  It exhibits impressive proportions!

Otherwise the whole idea is quite risible!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Stridency is the least you should muster!

Richard Dawkins sometimes seems to rejoice in the way that his critics refer to him as 'strident'.  Shortly before the death of Christopher Hitchins, Dawkins interviewed his fellow 'horseman of the apocalypse'.

He told Dawkins in the interview:

You have a discipline in which you are very distinguished. You've educated a lot of people; nobody denies that, not even your worst enemies. You see your discipline being attacked and defamed and attempts made to drive it out.

“Stridency is the least you should muster . . . It's the shame of your colleagues that they don't form ranks and say,
Listen, we're going to defend our colleagues from these appalling and obfuscating elements.’”

Well said - of course!

One small thing that I can claim is that I frequently defend Dawkins against the way that he is mis-represented.  Religious family members might not like him, but they can't, in all honesty, use stridency as an excuse.

You can read more at this link.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Stephen Law on The Malcontent's Gambit

One of my favourite philosophers was interviewed recently on one of my favourite podcasts.  I don't know how Alan Litchfield pulls it off to get such good guests on his podcast, 'The Malcontent's Gambit', but he seems consistent in that ability.

This podcast features Stephen Law, who is author of a number of books including 'Believing Bullshit' and a former speaker at Oxford Skeptics in the Pub.  Stephen will also be noticeable in the annual Oxford event called Think Week, where he will be in discussion with Richard Dawkins.  Tickets sold out quickly, as is common for these Dawkins events in Oxford!  (Yes - I have got one, thank you.)

Given his track record, being acknowledged as one of the few people who have significantly defeated William Lane Craig in a debate, I think the discussion with Dawkins will be interesting.

Without having to speculate about future events, I highly recommend The Malcontent's Gambit podcast.   In this interview, Law dismissed the Euthyphro Dilemna before going on to talk about the 'evil god hypothesis', which turns out to be difficult to contest.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Satellite dishes everywhere

Some people refer to satellite dishes as 'architectural acne'.  And however useful these dishes are in these days of widespread competition in the TV market, I find it surprising and amusing to discover them attached to trees and posts next to the waterways that cross the English countryside.

Satellite dish on firm ground - Kennet and Avon Canal
If you want satellite TV on your boat, perhaps it is wise to fix the dish to 'terra firma' at your mooring.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Long live free will!

My friend Steve Zara has recently become involved in an online 'debate' with Jerry Coyne about free will.  As you might remember, I wrote a blog post about the role of Determinism and Chaos in free will, a few months ago.

It seems to me that Jerry Coyne puts up a bit of a straw man when arguing against Jim Al-Khalli's view of free will.  Al-Khalli hardly touches on the question of dualism, at least in the sections quoted by Coyne, and anyway this is all a paper tiger.  (The word is never used in the whole of his article.)

The more serious part of the argument is about how chaos can come to the rescue and actually give us free will without falling into total anarchy.

As I explained in my earlier post, the detailed future state of the universe is not predictable, even in principal.  I gave three reasons to support that idea, namely chaos, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and quantum fluctuations.

Chaos appears to me to be the strongest factor in this.  The other two might not be significant in everyday life, but over a greater length of time they could build up to make a difference.  It might be possible to compute your way out of the chaos conundrum, but by increasing your computing power you only delay the moment of uncertainty.

However, it is important to note that this unpredictability comes in small doses.  Although we can't predict exactly what we might think or do tomorrow, as new uncertainties approach us, we can at least predict what are the more likely trends.  Without resorting to dualism, our minds have an emergent internal consistency which tends to make us act in a way that is consistent with the way we acted yesterday.

This means that chaos and unpredictability make the future uncertain, but without robbing us of our free will they ensure that future trends are likely to be consistent with what we expect.

Long live free will . . .  even if Christians do often use it as an excuse for the atrocities committed by their God!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Pope blocks Jesus

Another great episode from Jesus and Mo.

I recommend you to visit the site regularly.  There is always a smile to be had.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Restoring the right to insult!

The UK Government has been threatening for some time to introduce dangerously restrictive clauses into Section 5 of its 'Public Order Act', but it seems that common-sense has prevailed after all.

By including the word 'insult' in the act, it made it possible that you might be arrested for calling someone a policeman in the wrong tone of voice.  (And yes - that definitely was the wrong tone of voice in the last sentence.)

The fight against this egregious intrusion into civil rights has been led by the organisation called Reform Section 5, with support from many others including the National Secular Society (NSS).

That the government has backed down on this case seems truly surprising. Yes -  they experienced their heaviest ever loss in the House of Lords, being out-voted 3 to 1, but this rarely seems to make a difference to the barely elected coalition.

Read more about the story on the NSS newsletter.   While you are there, why not consider joining the organisation.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Dogma against alleged dogma - from The Pope

If the pope preaches that agnosticism contains its own dogmas, does that make it an example of someone using dogma to fight another dogma, or is it just a fallacious claim that is unsupportable.

In his January 5th statement, The Pope stated "Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs".

Let's think about that.  Can it logically be true?  If agnosticism is the state of claiming that you can't (or don't) know whether to believe in God, wouldn't the people who are agnostic want to ask questions and wouldn't they be interested in any questions that shed light on the situation?  It is only by a process of discussion that they can get off the fence on one side or another, and surely that is something quite important.

In other words, even more than usual, The Pope is preaching nonsense that is unsupportable by evidence of any kind.

This is another of those cases of Christianity claiming to be the victim, when in fact it is preying on other innocent victims for the sole benefit of the priestly class.  All Christianity works towards this aim, but the Roman Catholic Church's work is particularly egregious.

One also has to ask the question - does the wise old Pope confuse agnosticism with atheism or secularism?  He might perceive all three as threats.  I wonder why he singled out agnosticism.

Perhaps he is even more afraid of atheism and didn't dare to use the word.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A hollow victory - with a wry smile!

The news this week is full of the 'victory' in the European Court of Human Rights of an employee of British Airways, who wanted to wear a cross over her uniform.

What a hollow victory!  She was awarded the magnificent sum of 2000 euros in compensation for her distress.  The size of that award demonstrates that the whole case was risible, and that the judges in the court have a sense of humour after all.  When you consider that every lawyer involved in the long series of court appearances leading to this small 'victory' probably earned an order of magnitude more money than their client was awarded, you have to ask who really won the case.  As usual - it was the lawyers.

Do I care that she won?  Of course not.  That is the basis of secularism.  If she wants to wear a cross over her uniform so that its chain get caught and breaks from time to time I don't mind.  It won't affect my views about her religion (even if I personally feel different about her as a rational being).  

If someone wears a cross so obviously and ostentatiously then I feel that it is open season for people to ask them questions.  They could be practical:

"What does the T stand for?"

or doctrinal

"Do you really believe that the wine turns into the blood?"

or theological, sectarian, denominational . . . or simply logical

"How do you actually know that the bible is true?"

None of those questions would be appropriate with a normal person who did not advertise their point of view using an iron age symbol of torture.

What the news has almost failed to mention is that the other three cases heard at the same time were dismissed.  One cannot discriminate against gay couples on religious grounds or put patients at risk. (I think it was slightly perverse and contra-evidential to assume that hospital managers know anything useful about running hospitals, but we will let that one slip as it is probably true that lawyers know even less about it!)

The strangest thing is that the British Airways case was only won because the airline had tried so hard to reach a compromise.  They had changed their uniform policy in order to appease - and as a result they lost the court case.

Never mind.  Almost everyone is laughing at a militant Christian and it was worth it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


It is rumoured that The FSM will be touring a large city near you this year.  However, I'm sure that this is just Catholic propaganda.  Unlike the pope, the FSM would not need four inches of bullet-proof glass for protection!

FSM-mobile . . . Catholic propaganda!
FSM-mobile . . . Catholic propaganda!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Country Style

Walking in rural England you often reach fences which are supposed to keep animals in a field (or out of it) but to let people pass.  Often there are footboards so that you can step over the fence.  We use the term 'stile' to describe them.

However, across a public path in Hungerford church yard, close to the Kennet and Avon canal, I was confronted by this alternative design.  I had just passed a group of people coming the other way and doubted that they had climbed over it, but it looked just like a fence.

An interesting type of gate (or style) in Hungerford - closed.
An interesting type of gate (or stile) in Hungerford - closed.

Looking at it from the other side, I found an odd looking post that seemed to have been cut into four sections.

An interesting type of gate (or style) in Hungerford - closed.
An interesting type of gate (or stile) in Hungerford - closed - from the other side.

And then I realised that the left hand post sections act only as counterweights, and that the pins through the smaller post were pivot points for the horizontal bars.

When you press the top bar down this happens . . . 

An interesting type of gate (or stile) in Hungerford - open.

and you can step over the fence at its lowest point.  When you let go, the bars rise again under the influence of the weights on the left hand side.

Surprisingly ingenious!  I've never seen one of these before. 

Small but appreciative note:  Thanks to regular reader, Darryl, for pointing out that I had not spelt stile correctly.  I think I have changed the spellings appropriately now.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

No large dogs

Just a bit of canal-side graffiti today.

Graffiti - no large dogs!
Graffiti - no large dogs!

Someone has added a funny caption.  It made me smile, at least

Small note:  Photo taken at Hungerford, Berkshire. And I did see a dog almost as large as that today!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Canal tunnels

Today I went through the Bruce Tunnel on the Kennet and Avon canal. 

The Bruce Tunnel on the top section of the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The Bruce Tunnel on the top section of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

This is the view, emerging from the south-east end of the tunnel.  Having done 7 miles and 15 locks today with a crew of two others, I didn't see another boat moving at all. 

Just three more locks tomorrow and I can moor up and relax.  Apparently there is snow coming.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Could Nick Cohen be the new Hitch?

At the National Secular Society's conference last September, Nick Cohen gave a rousing speech entitled "How modern blasphemy works in practice".

In his introduction he included a quote from the late Christopher Hitchens:

Its not enough to have free speech.  People must learn to speak freely.”

The contents of his speech and accounts of his work lead me to wonder whether he might pick up the mantle that was so tragically dropped a year ago, and the following notes might help you to understand why I suggest this.

A lady had said to him that morning on his journey, “What's the point of the NSS?  You've won haven't you? We're a secular society.

She was missing the point.  We have a de facto blasphemy law.  It has not been passed by parliament and is not enforced by courts.  It brings with it no right to be innocent until proven guilty and there is no right of appeal. Instead, it is based on the threat of violence.  There is a huge system of self-censorship which overwhelmingly hurts the country. 

Cohen often sees the fear in editors and broadcasters eyes.  If we provoke the intolerant then we put people at risk.  People have now worked hard to develop this whole theory that to insult Mohamed is to perpetrate Islamophobia when in fact it is nothing of the sort.  Those who threaten retaliation are little better than truculent children and we can't expect them to behave as Westerners.

He suggested going back through the great writers in favour of free speech.

Milton's Areopagitica, 1644, pointed out the absurdity of censorship.  What kind of person would want to be a censor?  It certainly couldn't be anyone of talent or they would want to do their own work.  On that basis, anyone who wants to be a censor is unfit to be one.

More recently, The Jewel of Medina by Sheri Jones strove mightily not to cause offence, and in her version of the story of the life of Mohamed, Jones made him tell his wife to remain with her parents until she had grown up (which probably never happened even if a real Mohamed actually did exist, for which there is absolutely no historical evidence).  The book got a $100K advance.   Then in spite of bending over backwards to avoid telling the truth she was accused of causing offence!  Publication of the book was pulled.  A professor in Texas had said “This book is an insult to Islam” so the publisher believed him.  Eventually it was released by a new publisher, whose home was subsequently fire-bombed.  The very fact that someone said the above led to fire-bombing. 

Also everyone is afraid to admit that self censorship exists.  Journalists all like to pose as dissidents in a dictatorship, challenging establishments, transgressing boundaries – normally this is nonsense.  They simply seem unable to acknowledge that certain topics are just off-limits.

One reason why the banking crash came out of the blue was that journalists knew that challenging a city institution costs a lot of money to defend.  But no journalists want to say that they and their editors are afraid of litigation.  Because we can't admit our fear we make excuses. 

Cohen wants to emphasise the importance of at least being honest about being a coward.  The language of the liberal left has been corrupted and turned on its head to accuse people of racism etc.  Many people who use this language are genuinely afraid.

(John Stuart )Mill realised that there were other ways of confronting extremism than the law.  Online public opinion is one way now.  It is not hard to beat a holocaust denier in open argument and if you can't do it you shouldn't be in the business of trying.  It is important to have your answers ready and to make people feel absurd for using silly arguments.

A few hundred years ago you would know that the finest minds in the world, such as Isaac Newton, also had supernatural beliefs as a broad explanation of the world around them.  Now that is no longer possible.  As soon as you reach some level of knowledge you will know that the greatest minds of today do not hold those unscientific views now.  Religion is no longer able to be involved in high culture.  This makes religious people defensive and wary of learning.  Religion now knows itself to be intellectually on-the-back-foot.  Instead it can become ultra-fundamentalist and aggressive.

People don't understand the point of political extremism is that there always HAS to be something to keep their supporters inflamed. 

I think it is time for me to read more of Cohen's work, but first I need to complete reading Hitchens long book of essays, "Arguably"

Thursday, 10 January 2013

You say . . . God says . . .

This informative item came up on Facebook recently.  I thought it would be worth sharing.  (Click on it to see a larger version.)

You say this, but God says that!
You say this, but God says that!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Things Christians say, part 42: Who are you to question the almighty?

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

Who are you to question the almighty?


That is another interesting question because it leads us in unexpected directions.

Are you saying that nobody should ask questions?  What if the word of God has been misunderstood for all these centuries (as for example it seems to have been in the case of slavery).

If it turns out that some questions are allowed, then how do you decide who is allowed to ask them.  Clergy?  Theologians? Only the pope?  Surely none of those can be called unbiased, and therefore the questions should be asked by the only group of people who are absolutely unbiased about your God and all the other gods.

Atheists should ask the questions.



Having said the above, we might reasonably point out that all the different churches have different approaches to matters of dogma and doctrine.  Are we allowed to ask questions of Christians of the 'wrong kind', (and specifically not of your kind)?  Or should we leave them in their current state of ignorance (as you seem to do)?

And I would like to point out that I definitely do exist.  I'm not sure that the same quality of evidence is available for any god.  Whether your God is almighty or not is clearly a moot point given the amount of suffering in the world.  So your question is really meaningless.

I'm me and I ask questions.  Your almighty is probably a figment of your imagination.

Last episode:  You confuse Christianity with religion
Next: God bless the pope

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Annoyed by BBC Christianity

Listening to the morning service on BBC Radio 4 last Sunday, recorded in nearby Oxford, I found myself reminded about the reason for finding church irritating.

That isn't the same as the reason for failing to believe in god - as I think that happened a bit earlier.

The Anglican Church's friendly and pious nonsense is both familiar and annoying.  I got a horrible reminder of the many hours that I wasted sitting in church on a Sunday morning.

I even found myself annoyed (and subsequently amused - as I had been in my school years) by the tone of voice of Canon whateverhisnamewas.  His undulating notes were almost enough to induce sea-sickness.  The content of his talk was typically vacuous and hopeful, and bears little connection to biblical christianity as opposed to another 'nice' religion, if there are any other 'nice' religions.

At least it was traditional, and vaguely lovely, and English.

I prefer my English traditions in other forms these days.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Dolphins attack . . . or do they?

If you were one of these surfers and saw this sight, what would go through your mind?

Dolphins at play - a frightening sight for surfers
Dolphins at play - a frightening sight for surfers

I must say that I wouldn't feel comfortable in that situation!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Lichtenberg Figures

I recently came across this fascinating image on Facebook.  It shows the interesting pattern left on the green of a golf course after a lightning strike.

A 'Lichtenberg Figure' on a golf course.
A 'Lichtenberg Figure' on a golf course.

Apparently the crazy patterns are called 'Lichtenberg figures', and if you do a Google search for images of these figures you find some other amazing pictures like this one.

Lichtenberg figure on a man's back - struck by lightning!
(from this interesting site)

A quick glance at the relevant Wikipedia page is also interesting.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

See the Northern Lights

I once saw a spectacular display of the Northern Lights and I have always wanted to see them again.

This seems to be the ideal site . . . in a glass topped igloo in Norway.

Igloos with a view of the Aurora, Northern Lights
Igloos with a view of the Aurora

What happens if it snows?  I assume that the view is obscured quite quickly.

How do you draw the curtains though?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Which lands first?

Test your knowledge of basic Newtonian mechanics.

If a marksman fires a bullet perfectly horizontally over a level stretch of ground and at the exact same instant drops an identical bullet to the ground, which of them hits the ground first?

Of course we are all tempted to say that the one that has been dropped will land first, and of course we will all be wrong to say that.  Both should hit the ground at the same moment.

The really surprising thing is that the fired bullet has travelled so far in the short time before it lands.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A site for sore eyes . . . is said to be a site for sore eyes.

In more ways than one I think that is true.  From a skeptical and scientific point of view I think it fails to be very convincing.

But still the concept is funny!

Off to the Land of Nod

Many of my well educated readers will know this already, but there is a biblical basis to the phrase 'off to the land of nod'.

As far as I remember, there is nothing to suggest that the inhabitants of this mythical land were particularly sleepy, but then again the book of Genesis is hardly notable for the accuracy or believability of the stories that it contains.

Of course this legendary area to the East of the Garden of Eden is where Cain was sent to after he had murdered his brother Abel.  (Genesis 4:16)

In fact, it seems likely that the people who were sent to Nod had a lot of hard work in front of them.  Having been banned form the Garden of Eden they had to start to work hard to survive.

Maybe that is why they were tired?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Only two countries . . .

Did you know that there are only two countries in the world that do not have laws permitting divorce?

One of those isn't actually a real country, but more of a small patch of Italy which has a special dispensation to avoid paying tax on its obscene wealth.  It is The Vatican.  (It is also the 'country' with the highest crime rate per capita, and that figure even excludes the predatory activities of the priests who the Roman Catholic church has failed to surrender to the proper authorities.)

The other country, perhaps the only real country involved, is The Philippines.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

First Cruise!

I bought a boat yesterday, and took it for the first cruise on the Kennet and Avon Canal today.  This is a view from the helm (at the stern (i.e. back) of the boat).

Kennet and Avon canal, The view from the helm of a narrowboat in a lock at Devizes, Wiltshire.
The view from the helm of a 70' narrowboat in a lock at Devizes, Wiltshire.

So far so good!