Monday, November 26, 2007

Another new bike!

I'm buying another new bike, but this time it's not for me. It's a christmas present for my wife.
I've always loved the classic simplicity of the Pashley range and if there is any bike that would get my wife cycling to work this would be the one.
It's not the cheapest bike on the market at £450 but you pay for what you get.
One of the only suppliers in Northern Ireland is Quinns cycles in Kilkeel and as I was doing a juggling job there on Saturday I went in to pay a deposit. Luckily he keps them in stock so i'll be able to pick it up before Christmas.
I'm going to have to clear some space in the garage, I might even put some hooks up to cut down on scratches.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bike Love

Now I love bikes but I wouldn't take it this far.
Scottish man Robert Stewart (age 51) was arrested by police for having sex with his bike!

Mr Stewart was caught in the act with his bicycle by cleaners in his bedroom at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr.

Gail Davidson, prosecuting, told Ayr Sheriff Court: "They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply.

"They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white t-shirt, naked from the waist down.

"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

I know its a bit strange, but was it really any one elses business if he was doing it in the privacy of his own room?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wooden Bike

Been a while since I had apost with a bike on - thought this one was worth putting up though.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Outdoor Swimming

After reading a supplement in the Guardian last weekend about swimming in the great outdoors, I have made full use of my time off this week and have swam twice in the sea so far this week with another swim planned for this Friday!
My first swim was in Ballycastle inbetween shows at the Lamas (spelling?) fair. It does feel a bit cold when you get in but you'd be amazed how quickly your body adjusts, and then you just have the joy of swimming in an unending stretch of water. I'd bought a snorkeling set a while back and this was my first chance to use it - it does take a bit of getting the hang of just breathing through your mouth, and there wasn't much to see besides sand but it was fun anyway.

Then yesterday we went to Newcastle, having bought a body board on the way, and I swam in the sea with the kids. It took a bit longer to get my shoulders under because I had to deal with the stoney beach aswell, but eventually I was snorkelling along pulling my son behind on the board.
After a well earned ice cream - we had a choice between the arcade and the open air pool at "Tropicana Land" (Believe me - it's not as glamarous as it sounds) and the kids opted for the slides and heated outdoor pool. The water felt too warm after swimming in the sea - but certainly more kid friendly. I think next year we may invest in wet suits - for the kids anyway.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Apparently I'm a Socialist.

I took this test on line to find out my true political persuasion and guess what. I'm a socialist.

You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(6% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist (6e/66s)

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Monday, August 13, 2007

Must See TV

There is a programme on Channel 4 tonight which I would say is essential viewing for anyone with a sceptical mind.

8pm Mon 13th Aug - "The Enemies of Reason"

Basically it is Richard Dawkins's take on psuedo science and superstition. I'm sure it will show up on you tube as well some time in the next 24 hours for anyone that can't get channel 4.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Political Correctness

I have recently been using you tube to catch up with certain things I had missed on Radio 4 - in particular I was glad to find Marcus Brigstock's rant about religion that I had missed from the Now Show.

So I was tempted to put up a bit of audio that I had of Stewart Lee talking about Political correctness on David Badiel's programme Heresey. I'll not add anything else as Stewart Lee says it better than I ever could.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Critical Mass - Belfast

There will be a critical mass in Belfast on 31st august at 05.30pm at Custom House Square. Click here for details.
Looks like it is going to be a regular event. The owner of the My Space page seems to think it is the first one in Belfast. There have been several over the last decade but not very regular and usually as part of some wider event - like an anti war demo. So good luck to them and lets hope the numbers will grow every month. Not sure wether i'll be able to make it this month but i'm sure i'll get to one soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Atheism is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while but it’s difficult to know where to start.

I’ve been listening to 100’s of hours of podcasts on the subject and have read a few of the more popular books that have recently been published – “God Delusion”, “The End of Faith” etc. as well as several blogs and forums.

So I pretty much know where I stand, but articulating these thoughts is a different matter.

Some of my posts on this topic may not be particularly well structured or argued, but it’s more my intention to provide myself with a record of how I was thinking at this time in my life. Who knows, I might look back at this blog in 20 years time and cringe at my ignorance on the topic, but it is what it is – I never claimed to be a great thinker.

Dawkins has received quite a lot of criticism for being an Atheist Fundamentalist. He has also got a bit of flack from fellow atheists who question his understanding of the philosophy behind Atheism.

With regard to being a fundamentalist, I would have to disagree. He may be forthright and steadfast in his opinions, but on any occasion I have seen him involved in a debate he has been well mannered and courteous to his opponents. He considers each point carefully before answering and is more than willing to accept an alternate point of view as long as there is the evidence to back it up.

The God Delusion may not be the best introduction to atheism, but it introduced me to a lot of important ideas. Primarily the different types of theism.

"Lets's remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who does some combination of the following: answers prayers; forgives (or punishes) sins; frets about right and wrong and knows when we do them (or even think them); and intervenes in the world by performing miracles. A deist is one who believes in a supernatural intelligence whose activities are confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter. Pantheists use the word God as a non supernatural synonym for Nature, for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs the workings of the universe.
Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts, and above all does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence who set up the laws of the universe rather than the pantheists's metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed up atheism. Deism is watered down theism."

I’m sure many people would redefine their beliefs just from reading that description alone.

Personally, I think the argument that a super natural being created the universe is only of minor interest because even if you believe in a creator (I don’t) that only leads you as far as Deism, it’s the claims people make for this Deity that I have a problem with. And it’s a long way from Deism to Christianity and other faiths.

Believing in a deity is one thing, but believing that this deity can be appealed to in order to effect changes in your life is a completely different kettle of fish. The belief that god has a plan for our life is incompatible with our supposed free will, the belief in prayer, especially the belief that we can be healed through prayer has no basis in truth whatsoever. One of my favourite quotes that I have come across since taking an interest in free thought is from Carl Sagan. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”

In all other areas of our life we wouldn’t accept anything anyone told us on faith. If I told you elephants could fly, you’d want the proof. Why are people so willing to accept anything they are told as long as it came from the bible.

“I know it’s true because the bible tells me so”

When a document makes claims for its own validity by simply referring to itself you just end up going round in circles. I believe Sam Harris called this an “Epistemological black hole”. This makes it impossible to have a proper debate with some Christians as they are starting off from an assumption that the bible is true without seeking further evidence.

That will do for starters, I should have a bit more free time coming up - so a few more frequent posts hopefully.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Easy Ride

I know it doesn't look like much but seeing this post made my day. Previously the ride along the tow path has been interrupted by three gates where you had to stop and manouveur your bike around the side.

But now you can fly straight through without any loss of speed. The council were probably concerned that kids on trials bikes would use the tow path as a race track, but they'd probably do that with the gate there anyway.

It's just made me more desperate to get the recumbent trike I've wanted for my laganside commute, maybe next year.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Well, Northern Ireland finally has the assembly up and running. You could argue that the reason that it has taken so long is that neither the DUP or Sinn Fein would be happy with anything less than their own 2 parties running the show.
So with the middle ground parties playing a supporting role we are finally on the road to lasting peace and prosperity, apparently.

Despite the huge differences between the 2 parties, I think the last few weeks have shown that they can get along. However much I am opposed to Paisley’s views, I still think he comes across as a man with a sense of humour. And by surviving to see this day pass he may be judged a little more sympathetically by the history books.

It will be interesting to see what kind of marching season we have this year. Will people still burn effigies of the pope on the 11th night? Talking of the 11th night – how big must the orange orders carbon foot print be! The nearest bonfire to our house is about 200metres away and reaches 3 or 4 storeys high, I wonder has anybody calculated the carbon emissions on the average bonfire? I feel a google search coming on. (no couldn’t find anything)
Further up the road there is an even bigger bonfire made mainly out of tyres – correct me if I’m wrong but burning rubber can’t be good for the environment.
I don’t mind a bit of tradition but couldn’t they clean up their act a wee bit, the amount of litter left around Belfast on the 12th is a disgrace as well.

Here’s an idea for the first thing for the new assembly to discuss – a carbon trading scheme for orange men! Offset your emissions from the 11th night by planting trees on cave hill!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wizzy's new bike

I was round at my mate Steve's house last night and saw his new chopper - he's using it as a walkabout piece for carnivals etc. and will be dressed in full biker gear. I'll get a few more shots when he's "in character"
Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 27, 2007

Stephen Hawking

I’m not generally in favour of space travel. Claims are often made for the benefits of the space programme back here on earth. But besides the non-stick frying pan (which is apparently carcinogenic) I’m finding it hard to think of much else. I suppose satellites have been ok – global communication, ok, I’ll give you that.
But it’s difficult to see the justification in opening up space travel to the common man or woman. I think the west needs to justify how it spends its enormous wealth, especially with so much poverty in the world. I think we should have some obligation to our fellow human beings before we start taking day trips in to space.
Having said all that, seeing the pictures of Stephen Hawking taking his first training flights in preparation to becoming a space tourist did bring a smile to my face. And if anyone deserves a wee trip in to space – it’s the man who has increased our knowledge of the universe – probably more than any person in history.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another rider in the family.

My son finally learnt to ride his bike this week. I had started teaching him at the end of last summer but when the winter nights set in we didn't get much chance to practice, but now that spring has arrived it only took a couple of sessions and he was flying.

I think half the problems from teaching your kid to ride come from them looking behind to check if you are still holding on. As soon as they do a couple of runs on their own the confidence just builds and builds.

With Easter coming up, it'll be good to get a couple of rides down the tow path. Only one problem though - my daughter has now outgrown her bike. I don't want to buy her any cheap rubbish so it looks like i'm going to have to fork out nearly £200. I'll just have to make sure she gets her moneys worth, or should I say my moneys worth.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cycling Guide

The Guardian had a guide to cycling free with last Saturday's paper. If you didn't get a copy - it's available here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Google, gardening and gearing up.

As the long dark winter nights come to a close it's time to get the bike serviced again. I'm beginning to think a fixed speed bike would be better - maybe if my employer, in their infinite wisdom, decides to run the tax break scheme for cyclists I might treat myself.
Still haven't got round to digging a plot in the back garden or putting the green house up. If I leave it much longer it's going to be too late. A three day weekend would suit me a lot better - 1 day for tidying the house, 1 for doing the garden and 1 to do everything else.
I'm going to have to get this template thing sorted out - the blog isn't looking very flashy at the moment.
Hopefully this year I'll have a few more posts on topics that are currently of interest to me such as scepticism, atheism etc as well as the bike and environmentalism stuff. If nothing else this blog will provide me with a record of how my thinking has developed as I've got older.
I'm now using G-Mail by the way and I must say i'm very impressed and the google personalised home page is a very handy way of keeping up with all the blogs I read - definitley worth considering if you haven't done already.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Happy New Year?

Well – I haven’t made a very good start to the year blog wise. But here are a couple of pictures of stuff I got for Christmas. I’m not really in to presents but at least there was an eco element in what people bought me this year.

Compost Bin and a Solar Powered Charger!

Having posted on a few forums recently about the impending doom that this planet faces, it is hard not to notice that quite a lot of people are still sceptical about the whole global warming issue. In particular, people would argue that there isn’t a consensus within the scientific community about the extent of global warming.
My wife would often accuse me of believing everything I read. A harsh criticism you may say, but then maybe I am just choosing reading material that fits in with my world view.
Over Christmas I read Derren Brown’s book “Tricks of the mind” which provided me with a couple of good memory techniques, but also encouraged me to look on issues with a more sceptical eye, particularly the claims of alternative therapists. From reading this book – I searched out a couple of sceptical podcasts and came across “The sceptics guide to the universe” which I would highly recommend. I’ve also started listening to Penn Gilette’s (From Penn and Teller) radio show, another great sceptical show.

I’ve been going off on a bit of a tangent there, but my point is that even from a sceptics point of view global warming really has become undeniable. Sceptics would emphasise the importance of the scientific method, so when you get 2500 scientists from 30 different countries working on a project about climate change you must attach some sort of credibility to it. And you would have to present some pretty strong evidence to argue against the findings of the IPCC.
It should come as no surprise then, that the oil industry would try to discredit the findings of the IPCC.

From the Guardian last week:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft last year and invited to comment.
The AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees.

When your only opponents are funded by the oil industry I think we really can say