Nov 172013
 

Had a quick blast on the mountain bike yesterday. Part of the ride was next to a river which sometimes gets flooded when the river breaks its bank. Going down hill and around a corner, a quick glimpse ahead indicated that the area was not flooded although it looked a bit damp. No problem. Except that I ended up in three inches of accumulated river silt; the black, gloopy and smelly kind! Having misjudged the situation going in, I did not have enough speed or momentum to take me through this gloop and out uphill. I soon ground to a halt and had to walk my way out. Oh my poor Five 10 Impact shoes!

I got out of the gloop soon enough, trying not to slip walking uphill, but now both the bike and myself were like mobile masses of glue; leaves and other plant detritus sticking to us and not shifting! I normally don’t mind riding through mud, it’s a lot of fun actually, but this black gloop was something else!

Come to think of it, I hadn’t been this way for a couple of months and I do recall that the area had been flooded for an extended period of time…it’s entirely possible that it has remained flooded until quite recently, and that this has given enough time for the black, gloopy silt to accumulate and trap the unwary or foolhardy.

When I got home I immediately washed everything down; that decaying stink had to go! The Five 10 Impact shoes will take longer to dry out being the older model that soaked water and never let go, like those super absorbent kitchen towels. I do have Teva Links shoes that I can use in the meantime.

I guess it’s also time to change my tyres to something more suited to wet winter conditions. Rather than go for an all-out mud tyre like a Specialized Storm Control or Continental Baron, I’ll probably try a Continental Mountain King II 2.4 ProTection on the front in a tubeless configuration to replace the X-King 2.4 RaceSport, and leave the rear on the X-King 2.2 RaceSport (also in a tubeless configuration). The Mountain King II can be used in a wider variety of conditions than the Baron and I really do not want to constantly keep changing tubeless tyres for specific trail conditions. Last winter I used a pair of older Rubber Queen 2.2 UST tyres but I’d like to see how the Mountain King II stacks up.

Nov 132013
 

This has got to be the biggest news in mapping for several years. The Ordnance Survey (OS) have significantly reduced the price of their digital maps and this reduction is reflected in the new prices announced from suppliers of GPS mapping companies such as SatMap (I’m a SatMap user hence the plug).

Here’s an example; a SatMap “GB Platinum South” map bundled with a “GB Platinum North” map (both at 1:50k, 1:25k and 1:10k scales) covering all of Great Britain would previously have cost £2,100. SatMap are now offering both of these maps for a total price of £230. Wow, a reduction from £2,100 to £230. I keep doing the sums and can’t believe it!

I’m sure other mapping services using OS digital maps are also passing on the OS price reductions. I suspect that free online map services from companies such as Google may have been a factor in these price reductions.

I admit that I’m a geek when it comes to maps and always have been as far as I can remember. So these price reductions have me pretty excited and I hope will benefit those who venture, or wish to venture, outdoors.

Nov 132013
 

I’ve seen quite a few reports over recent years indicating that the police do not care about bike thefts. Even if the victim goes to all the trouble of tracking down the stolen bike or the thief, there just isn’t any positive reaction from the police. The post below is one such case:

Just a heads up really, I took a last minute decision to go and ride at Swinley tonight. I pulled into the car park and parked up. Got changed and then got the bike out and lent it against the back of the van. I noticed whilst i was getting changed that an red Ford Fiesta pulled into the car park and drove up to the visitor centre which i couldn’t quite see from where i was, then within a couple of minutes left the car park. I thought the car looked dodgy but I didn’t really think anything off it too much. I then knelt into the back of the van to get my shock pump and i suddenly realised that a guy in a black beanie was getting on my bike. I shouted and instantly took chase. Luckily it was in a lowish gear so it took him a while to get going and I managed to grab his arm as he shifted under massive load making the gears jump! I pulled him down on to the ground. The downside was i also ended up on the floor and he managed to get up quicker being on the opposite side of the bike and leg if off down the car park! I probably then should have given chase to get the scum bag but just decided that I was very lucky to still have my bike!

I then decided that I may be would still go for a ride but I would move the van into the Water World car park, I drove into the car park and couldn’t believe my luck but the Fiesta was in there with the guy who tried nicking the bike being in the back seat still wearing his beanie along with another 4 people. So i got the registration number and called the Police, who didn’t seem that bothered even though I mentioned they was CCTV in The Lock Out car park that would have captured all this!

I got the impression that they have tried to do this before (may be even been successful) so don’t leave your bikes unattended in the car park at night. I was half a metre at the very most when he grabbed it! If you are on your own take extra care as it makes you a very easy target because there is no one to give chase on another bike.

The car registration number was T608 PRJ – Colour Dark Red.

If you also know anyone this happened to please let them know about this post!

My own interest in this, apart from being a bike owner, is that I do use Swinley for cycle rides although not at night. Are our police forces so stretched that they are unable to investigate even if all the work has been done for them? Or do the police have a standing policy of not investigating ANY bike crime as 9 out of 10 lead nowhere?

Nov 062013
 

Jerry Coyne has a justified pop at Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra and the uncritical support from the BBC on woo:

A quote from Carl Sagan comes to mind:

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Nov 042013
 

David Colquhoun’s damning indictment of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and certain other organisations:

Conclusions

The main conclusion from all of this is that the General Pharmaceutical Council is almost criminally negligent. It continues to allow pharmacists, Anthony Pinkus among them, to endanger lives. It fails to apply its own declared principles. The members of its Council are not doing their job.

Individual pharmacists vary a lot, from the superb to those who believe in quackery. Some, perhaps many, are embarrassed by the fact that their employer compels them to sell rubbish. It’s too much to expect that they’ll endanger their mortgage payments by speaking out about it, but the best ones will take you aside and explain that they can’t recommend it.

The GPhC itself is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority, the subject of my last post. We can’t expect anything sensible from them.

In the USA there is a shocking number of pharmacists who seem to believe in quackery. In the UK. nobody knows, though judging by their failure to vote against the daftest of all scams. homeopathy, there is no cause for complacency here.

It seems that there will have to be big improvements in pharmacy education before you can have much confidence in the quality of the advice that you get in a pharmacy.

It seems to me that society, in general, is not informed and that various businesses push their agenda to generate more revenue and increase profit. This has created a weak and flawed regulator.

Nov 032013
 

I’ve come across quite a few presentation by Richard Carrier over the last couple or so years so I was quite interested in this interview by Scott Burdick. Again, another sharp-as-a-laser performance by Carrier. Worth it if you’re interested in reason, and also if you’re interested in some of Carrier’s thoughts on very early Christian documentation. In Burdick’s own words:

Here’s a one and-a-half hour interview I conducted with noted historian Richard Carrier that explores the latest scholarship regarding the evidence of who, when, and where the Gospels were written as well as the historicity of Jesus. We also discussed Dr. Carrier’s views on God in general, as well as his recent clash with historian Dr. Bart Ehrman.

Nov 012013
 

An interview with Marwa Berro (a blogger at Between a Veil and a Dark Place) is available at:

Do also check out her blog at Between a Veil and a Dark Place; it’s powerful stuff and beautifully written.

Oct 152013
 

This article at SBM clearly explains the mistakes that some people make with regards to understanding what treatments work, and the delusions that seem to consume them.

It’s a long article but it is extremely important for those who care about truth and rationality.

Oct 152013
 

The LSE Student Union is wrong. This blog at the forum for the “Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain” explains why, and it also has an interview with the author of “Jesus and Mo” (and that’s pretty cool).

The LSE Student Union is basically equating criticism of Islam with racism, but then fails to mention any linkage of racism for criticism of Christianity…don’t forget that the context is on the Jesus and Mo cartoons. You can see the game that the LSE Student Union is playing.