Dec 202013
 

The correct moral thing to do was obvious. So why did the LSE take so long to admit that they may have been wrong? Summary by Jerry Coyne available here:

Not good enough.

Here’s one of my previous blogs on the LSE:

Anyway, I subscribed to “Jesus and Mo” quite a while ago as its light-hearted humour are very insightful. Go meet them! Here’s one that’s quite apt:

http://www.jesusandmo.net/2013/10/04/anti/

2013-10-04

Dec 152013
 

OK, the year isn’t quite over, and this is really only about the movies that I’ve seen. However, there can be no doubt; the worst 2013 movie, by a long way, is “Pacific Rim”. Do not pay to watch this movie. Seriously!

As a bonus, here’s one of those brilliantly hilarious YouTube Honest Trailers for Pacific Rim:

Dec 082013
 

There I am, enjoying a mild and sunny December on my mountain bike today and I begin accelerating for maximum speed, clicking up the rear gears, and then a problem. It’s suddenly got awfully hard to pedal, and I try going down a gear but nothing happens. In dread, remembering the time when my Shimano RD-M980 rear derailleur had ended up in the spokes of my wheel this year, I stopped the bike and had a look at the rear derailleur (RD-M986).

The chain had become unseated from the jockey-wheel and was jammed between the cage and the outside of the jockey-wheel. Also, the Bionicon C.Guide had rotated 180 degrees so that it was now sitting above the chainstay, and one of the C.Guide barrel legs had snapped; the three remaining functional cable-ties meant that the C.Guide was probably still functional though.

This all looked fairly easy to fix, but when I managed to reseat the chain onto the jockey-wheel, the jockey-wheel would not rotate easily. To compound it all, I had neglected to bring any tools (this was only meant to be a short fun ride!).  The hub was still freewheeling, so I walked the bike home.

The first thing I did when I got home was to remove the jockey-wheel. Unfortunately, the jockey-wheel bolt/screw seemed to be stuck so the Allen hex tool just ended up rounding out the head on the bolt. Oops. I needed some help now but we managed to drill the bolt and remove the tapered head, which then allowed the cage to be removed, and then the bolt could be removed with pliers. Whew!

I could see why the jockey-wheel wasn’t turning. The bushing had been displaced by a couple of millimetres so that the jockey-wheel was off-centre and rubbing against the rear derailleur cage. This probably happened when the chain became unseated and had applied a force against the side of the jockey-wheel when I was pedalling (the jockey-wheel was heavily lacerated by the chain but still useable). Judicious use of a vice soon had the bushing centred correctly in the jockey-wheel. Of course I had sacrificed the bolt, but luckily I was able to scavenge a bolt from my older broken RD-M980 rear derailleur which fit perfectly. Result!

I soon had everything reassembled. But I decided to completely remove the C.Guide as I wasn’t convinced that it was really needed on a bike with Shadow Plus technology. Shadow Plus had arrived on my bike in the guise of the RD-M986 which had replaced my broken RD-M980 earlier this year. Anyway, I should really see how Shadow Plus works on its own, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the C.Guide had ended up on top of the chainstay as a result of it getting caught in my Five10 shoes whilst pedalling furiously, and that this had then unseated the chain from the jockey-wheel. It’s just a suspicion.

Dec 072013
 

I’ve just read an excerpt from the book “The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution” by Henry Gee regarding the misunderstanding and misuse of the word “evolution” as it applies to natural selection or descent with modification, and the different way that the word is used outside of biology.

I enjoyed how Gee provided a brief history of the word “evolution” and of the people who employed that term. And this is an important explanation; I’ve always felt unease at how the media’s usage of the word is different to the biological concept but used in a way that suggests that there was no difference. For example, a new product that is “an evolutionary improvement on the previous product range”; it implies goal-oriented improvement. In biology, evolutionary change is not goal-oriented, and it does not always result in an improvement to the health of an organism but change can make the organism more likely to survive to reproduce in an altered environment; the example given in the book on sickle-cell anaemia is classic.

Based on what I’ve read so far, the book is easy to read and has a certain humour that I rather enjoyed; I am encouraged to buy the book. I also think that this book may become a good companion to the popular evolution books “Why evolution is true” by Jerry Coyne, and “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” by Richard Dawkins.

The excerpt is freely available as a PDF at NCSE’s website:

The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution

I’m about to purchase the eBook version of the book and will post a fuller review once finished.

Dire David Dobbs

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Dec 062013
 

First I read this…

…then this…

…and then, finally, this…

Oh dear. It seems that David Dobbs has done his reputation no good.

Nov 242013
 

It was April 2011, just after dusk, and we made our way to a restaurant in central Baghdad along Abu Nawas Street by the River Tigris. This area is well known for serving Iraq’s favourite fish dish…the “mazgouf”.
Our "mazgouf"; fish grilled over an open fire of burning lemon/orange tree wood. We chose the live fish that we wished to eat and the fish were then stunned, gutted, seasoned then slow grilled for our pleasure. It takes about an hour to cook the fish. This resaurant was next to the banks of the Tigris in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo taken in April 2011.

The restaurant, although having a roof, is open to the elements and was filled with many customers; obviously a popular place.

Having selected our live carp (allegedly from the adjacent Tigris but more probably from a fish farm), the cook removed the fish from the tank and then stunned them with a stick, gutted them by cutting along the back, applied some seasoning, and then impaled them to be slow-grilled next to an open fire of burning fruit tree branches such as from lemon trees and orange trees. What we didn’t realise was that it takes about an hour or so to cook the fish, so we had a lot of time to chat!

Carp are bottom feeders and if they were from the Tigris around Baghdad then I’m not sure that I’d have too many fish dinners; there has just been too much dumped in the river following the recent war. Once I’d got past wondering where the fish came from, I did enjoy the meal. I’m not a real fish eater so I can’t say it was a fantastic meal. It was good for sure but I certainly wasn’t jumping up and down in delight. Many would disagree with me and defend the fish. That’s fine. We all have different tastes, literally!

But the mazgouf is an important dish to the Iraqis and the Iraqi diaspora, and it helps to unite them through social gatherings and reinforce their identity and uniqueness; something that’s very much needed in these trying times.