The Plucky Greeks

Sir HumphreyAs I have previously posted it is by no means obvious what the Greeks were really being asked to vote about in yesterday’s referendum. But whilst the meaning of the question is shrouded in mystery, the answer was a clear “no”.

The BBC says:

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that the Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms of an international bailout.

Sir Humphrey Appleby used to use the word “brave” as a synonym for “stupid”, and this may well be the position that is now facing Greece. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis are evidently banking on Continue reading

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Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts

So wrote Richard Feynman, who was one of the real heroes of the 20th century. He was absolutely right.

A reminder of this quote appears in Matt Ridley’s excellent article, The Climate Wars’ Damage to Science, which should be essential reading for anyone who still believes in the groupthink of catastrophic climate change.

Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, British MuseumHappily, the attention of the world has moved on recently from imagined problems with the climate to real problems with the economy, and in particular Greece. Greece is a particularly interesting pointer as to what happens when the serious socialists get into the driving seat, and spend, spend, spend money that their countries simply do not have. I do not think that either Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras or Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis are stupid. Misguided, perhaps, but not stupid.  So it is an interesting question why they are putting up such an apparently stupid referendum question this coming weekend. It is thus Continue reading

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Coffee Wars – The Spanner of Death

spannerI always knew the coffee machine would fight back.

Its main weapon is the spanner of death. There is no way past it. It has to be removed before coffee is to be had.

Various techniques sometimes work (but usually do not). They include:

  •  Turn it off, wait, turn it on again, and try to trick it by ordering it to make a cup of coffee with ground coffee, even though you have put no ground coffee in the ground coffee gurgle hole. Ha!
  •  Turn it off, wait, turn it on again, and then exhaust it by ordering it to produce hot water or steam through the wandy thing. Take that!
  •  Whack it sharply on the top right hand side, preferably without any warning:

A dog, a coffee machine, a walnut tree Continue reading

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Known Unknowns

Adelaide hillsSo, I have sold the matrimonial home in Adelaide, with a leisurely settlement date, and it is time to find somewhere else to live.

Some things are knowns. I do not need to go to an office in town every day; most of my work can be done anywhere with a decent internet connection and telephone line, or involves getting on an aeroplane. I do not want to be shut in a small box in town. But neither do I want to go so far away that I never get to see the teenagers.

Can’t go west, that is all sea. Can’t go north, obviously. So it is the hills to the east or south. There are 2 good roads, the Freeway which goes to Mount Barker to the east, and the Expressway that goes to McLaren Vale in the south.

I have started looking, and there are some houses with lovely views. I think I would find a view cheering. Bizarrely, it seems that properties with 50 acres or so Continue reading

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Sweet impossibility

My last post might have sounded a bit down computers. I didn’t mean it that way. Computers are wonderful in maths, particularly in the area of iteration. It would be easy to get the real solution of the orange sweet problem (how many sweets were there in the bag?) by writing some code, but it can be more easily demonstrated using a spreadsheet. See sweets.

There must be at least six sweets in the bag, because Continue reading


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Sweet ignorance

The children in the UK have been moaning about an exam question, which was as follows:

There are n sweets in a bag. 6 of the sweets are orange. The rest of the sweets are yellow.

Hannah takes a random sweet from the bag. She eats the sweet.

Hannah then takes at random another sweet from the bag. She eats the sweet.

The probability that Hannah eats two orange sweets is 1/3.

Show that n² – n – 90 = 0.

equationsThe question isn’t hard. You just take the odds of the first sweet being orange, and then multiply that by the odds of the second sweet being orange, and that is 1 in 3. It is 3 lines of calculation.

But what I think might be quite hard is doing it if you don’t have a piece of paper, but merely a computer. I guess Continue reading

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Going, going…

toop 90It looks like the house is about to go.

A shame. I like it. But, on reflection, I really do not want to take on the mortgage that I would have to raise in order to buy out my wife. Ex-wife, I should say. The divorce order was the saddest piece of paper I have ever seen.

I will see if I can find somewhere in the hills to go and live.


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Cold comfort

jeremy-cordeaux-webI woke up this morning with a streaming cold. Nose like a leaky tap. Our children will hopefully live in a world where the medics will know how to treat the common cold virus.

In the afternoon, I was stopped at random in the city by Jeremy Cordeaux, of FIVEaa, who was armed with a microphone. He wanted to know what I thought about gay marriage. I said that I thought people should be allowed to do what ever they like, as long as they do not do it in the street, frighten the horses or hurt anyone else.

Had my head not been spinning with this streaming cold, I might have said something more profound.

Hopefully, the cold will have receded a bit by tomorrow. I have deployed my favoured remedy of hot orange juice, honey and whisky.  Probably does no good at all, but it is a comfort.

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The No Sex Game

BreakThis is quite a fun dinner party game. You have to identify the three most wonderful physical sensations you ever experienced. Apart from sex, of course. Otherwise, most people would include sex.

It is surprising how often the same things crop up: scuba diving on a coral reef, riding a decent motorbike through country roads and that sort of thing.

Of the sports, rugby crops Continue reading

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He was a Wyatt

WyattI was talking to a friend at lunch yesterday about why it is that I like so much Sir Thomas Wyatt as a poet. A little bit of it, of course, is that he was rather a cool dude. Apart from anything else, having had an affair with Anne Boleyn before Henry VIII got interested in her was quite stylish.

He has always been rather underestimated I think, partly because at the time he was overshadowed by Surrey, and partly because William Shakespeare came along in the next generation and outdid Continue reading

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