Monthly archives: August 2010

Let’s hear it for the Quakers, Unitarians and other decent Christians 2

Manchester Pride 2010

Manchester Pride 2010

Manchester Pride 2010

As I’m in an ongoing comment argument (on this post) with a couple of homophobic morons who think their religion gives them special dispensation to be bigots I thought I should show that some Christians are decent people who view the world from an adult perspective rather than one tainted by a few sentences in the Bible. I don’t share their religion, and I’ll no doubt disagree with them about a lot of things, but I respect their mature attitude to others.

links for 2010-08-30

  • Online digital storage devices and innovative internet connections mean working from anywhere in the world while travelling has never been easier. For the 20% of UK workers who spend three hours or more commuting each day living as a digital nomad could be more than just a dream.

    Lea Woodward upped sticks three years ago for a life on the road – permanently.

    Since then, she has seen her blog, Location Independent, grow into an online community of 22,000 members.

    But she says working from anywhere is a little more complicated than packing flip-flops and laptops.

    "People romanticise the lifestyle, thinking it is all on beaches and we gad about the globe, but it can be really challenging.

  • Food is relatively cheap and plentiful in Britain today, but will that still be the case in 50 years?

    Overfishing and the decline of species on land has left some experts saying it is getting both harder and more expensive for the UK to feed itself in the long term.

    That decline also opens up questions about the sort of countryside being left to future generations as nearly half of Britain's native land mammals are now considered a priority for conservation, be they hedgehogs, water voles, red squirrels or bats.

    (tags: biodiversity)
  • The moment that war was declared in 1939, Margaret Collins, at the time a guide living in Maidstone, Kent, knew exactly where she was – helping out in the town hall, where she listened in the Mayor's parlour to the declaration of war.

    "Various information offices were set up and I helped direct the evacuees," she says. "First, we Guides scrubbed the large old houses along the London Road, which had stood empty because of the Depression. They were taken over by the council and we got them ready for pregnant mothers.

    "We hardly went to school at all, even though it was my last year. Once air-raid shelters had been dug and blast walls put up, then we got back to school."

    Margaret was one of 750,000 Guides in the UK when war broke out. Suddenly, there was a huge pool of skilled girls and young women willing to contribute to the war effort.

    (tags: history ww2)
  • Darris White is a deep thinker.

    The engineer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US is currently finalising designs for a series of turbines that could be used to harness the immense energy of the Gulf Stream, flowing deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

    The underwater stream roughly contains around 21,000 times more energy than the Niagara Falls and by some estimates, could potentially provide up to one-third of Florida's electricity needs.

    "Hydrokinetic power from the Gulf Stream can provide enough power for over a million households in Florida," said Professor White.

  • Abandoned land in inner cities is often unsightly and neglected and it can soon become a no-go area for city residents.

    It is expensive to keep large areas of land from becoming overgrown and unmanageable, but a council in southern France has found a novel way of controlling the creeping advance of nature.

    They have employed a number of Soay sheep to eat their way through overgrown land. It is working so well, it is attracting the attention of plenty of other councils around the country.

    (tags: sheep)
  • Fried Beer Recipe
    2 bottles of beer (our first attempt was IPA and second was a pumpkin ale, which was much stronger and better, IMO)
    a few cups of flour
    a few dashes of baking powder
    a few cups of granulated sugar
    a wee bit of powdered sugar

    1. Mix equal parts beer and flour (you probably don’t need more than a bottle of beer). Add the baking powder, a bit of salt and a spoonful of cinnamon. Mix it all up and pour into a Ziplock bag.
    2. Throw the Ziplock bag in the fridge for a few hours.
    3. Dump equal parts beer and sugar into a small saucepan and put it over high heat to reduce it into a syrup.
    4. Grab the bag out of the fridge and unzip it a tiny bit. This allows you to squeeze the batter into the hot oil of your deep fryer, making a funnel cake.
    5. Let the batter brown a bit in the oil.
    6. Pull that mofo out and pour some syrup over the top. Dust with powdered sugar.
    7. NOM NOM NOM
    8. Add beer syrup to EVERYTHING because it’s delicious.

    (tags: beer recipe)
  • Creationists have often argued that they did not come from apes, a view usually ridiculed by the scientific community. Recent evidence, however, suggests that they may have actually been right. Scientists think that at the dawn of mankind, when the rest of the human race was busy evolving and adapting to their environment, creationists were refusing to take part in the evolutionary game, and as a result of this are therefore thoroughly unevolved human beings. The DNA of those who deny the glaringly obvious seems to be much more basic in structure. Instead of a double helix make-up like normal human beings, theirs is a single, thread-bare strand of pseudo philosophy. ‘What’s interesting’, says Dr. Spengler, ‘is that their DNA pattern is very unreactive, virtually ignoring everything that’s going on around it’.
  • Ron Hoskins, a 79-year-old retired heating engineer from Swindon, could well be the saviour of the international bee industry. He claims to have discovered a strain of honeybee that's resistant to a parasite that's been wiping out bee populations worldwide.

    After an 18-year search, Hoskins thinks that he's managed to breed bees that "groom" each other, getting rid of the Varroa Destructor mites that are believed to have killed two thirds of all Britain's bees. Since discovering the self-grooming strain, he's been artificially inseminating queen bees with the aim of getting a colony established.

    (tags: bees)

Tiger- Part Thirteen

“What? Hold on a moment.” Kay leaned forward and shouted into Irwin’s helmet, “Turn around!”


“Turn around! Wrong van!”

“I think this evening we may need to take your DWP friends out for a few drinks. We just raided a forgery factory, complete with three trafficked women in a back room. James thinks they’re speaking Czech, but he’s not really sure.”

“But not the wife and child.”


“Time to look at the other van. We’ll head for Ancoats and…… What the Fuck?”

They had been heading along Regent Road toward Eccles New Road and the industrial unit. It was dual carriageway with crash barriers separating the opposite flows of traffic, so an easy turn was out of the question. Irwin had braked hard as they approached a junction and thrown the scooter into a harsh U-turn, pitching it so far over that the bottom of the fairing almost scraped the ground. A dab of his foot on tarmac had kept them from toppling, but only just. Now, to a backing track of car horns, he was accelerating toward town again as fast as the squealing engine would allow.

“Are you alright? What was that?”

“An idiot in charge of a moped. I’ll tell traffic about him later. We’re heading for Ancoats now. Any update on the other van’s location?”

“Last seen heading for the City stadium. The helicopter will be there soon, we’ll patch them through to you, see if they can vector you in.”

“No uniform in the area?”

“None armed. We’ll have as many as possible to back you up if we don’t get there in time.”

“Okay. Got to give directions now.”

“Ancoats?” Irwin suggested before she’d had a chance to tell him.

“Ancoats. As fast as this thing will take us.”

Other fiction by Ian Pattinson

Ruby Red– available as an ebook through or for the Kindle.

So Much to Answer For– available as print on demand or ebook from or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Global Weirding– available as print on demand or ebook from or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

Sounds of Soldiers– available as print on demand or ebook from or for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection.

The Naked Guide to Spinneyhead

At the moment, about a third of all the visitors to Spinneyhead land on the Naked Bike Ride category page. Which is cool. WNBR is great fun and I’d encourage everyone to get involved. But I thought you might like to find out about some of the other stuff here at Spinneyhead.

Since you’re obviously naughty types you’ll all be interested in the posts which fall into the Sex category. All the Sex Toy posts should interest you. Go far enough back and you’ll find out about our project to build the perfect sex toy, which never came to fruition, but did generate the Perfect Sex Toy line at Cafe Press. For toys that did make it into production Love Honey is Spinneyhead’s preferred supplier of sex toys.

As well as the Naked Bike Ride I’ve also covered many other naked or nude things, though obviously there’s bound to be a bit of crossover.

Several of my books are available as print on demand or downloads through Read more about the products available through Lulu.

Owners of the Amazon Kindle can buy ebook versions of my books from (There is Kindle software available for PCs, iPods, iPhones and iPads if you don’t own a Kindle.) Read more about the products available for the Kindle.

If you have an ebook reader which isn’t served by the Kindle, but which can handle pdfs, some of my books are available as downloads from Drive-Thru Comics.

And if you like any of these links then you can subscribe to the Spinneyhead RSS feed to keep getting updates.

links for 2010-08-29

  • The first people to be liberated by Britain in the second world war were our own criminals. As the declaration of hostilities was announced in 1939, the gates of the country's prisons swung open for any inmate with less than three months left to serve and all the Borstal boys who had completed six months.

    Next month sees the 70th anniversary of the start of the blitz and there will be, quite rightly, many celebrations of the courage and stoicism displayed during it. What may receive less publicity are the activities of those who took advantage of the confusion to make their criminal fortunes because, as most of the nation pulled together to help each other, others were very busily helping themselves.

    (tags: ww2)
  • Whisky is the liquid gold that emerges from the distillation of base beer. It is "the separation of the gross from the subtle and the subtle from the gross … to make the spiritual lighter by its subtlety" (Hieronymus Brunschwig, 15th century doctor and distiller). Almost all spirits are produced by distillation: a liquid with a low alcohol content such as wine or beer can be taken and from it a spirit produced. Alchemists believed that through repeated distillation they could extract the essence or spirit of a material and that from wine they could extract the aqua vītae or water of life. The word itself, whisky, is an Anglicised version of the Gaelic for water of life: uisge beatha or usquebaugh is what Irish and Scots monks called their distilled barley beer.
    (tags: whisky)
  • The La Miniatura in Pasadena is among two of [Frank Lloyd] Wright's experimental textile-block homes that have languished on the market, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    In 2008 agent Crosby Doe listed the partially restored home at $7.7 million, but recently dropped it to under $5 million.

    He says it is a longshot but he has been talking to an international art dealer with Japanese art-collector clients who might be interested in buying the house.

    (tags: architecture)
  • They are an impulse holiday purchase that many buyers later have second thoughts about – the fake Louis Vuitton bags and Rolex watches picked up for a song abroad.

    While shoppers are happy with the price, there are often nagging doubts about the items' quality, their legality and who ends up profiting.

    However, such worries are, it seems, over. A new EU-funded report has declared that it is OK to buy fake designer goods.

    (tags: fake)
  • A new study shows that people feel morally cleansed when they are physically clean, and as such are more inclined to judge others more harshly.

    The study, with the somewhat Victorian-sounding name of “A clean self can render harsh moral judgment” was conducted by Chen-Bo Zhong at Northwestern University and appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

    Some 58 undergrads were invited to a lab filled with spotless new equipment. Half of the students were asked to clean their hands with antiseptic wipe, so as not to soil the shiny surfaces. Afterward all the students rated the morality of six societal issues — smoking, illegal drug use, pornography, profane language, littering and adultery — on an 11-point scale ranging from very moral to very immoral. Those who’d wiped their hands made far-harsher judgments than those who didn’t.

I now declare you saint and saint. You may kiss the groom.

Academics have found evidence that, as recently as the 18th century, the church never used to have a problem with homosexual relationships and marriages. In fact most religions took a more enlightened view in the past than they do now. What happened to silence the decent wings of these religions and have the reactionary bigots dominate the debate?

This link was supposed to be part of last nights link dump from delicious, but the database/server was having one of its tantrums and they didn’t appear. I’m posting this one in particular because it was mentioned in the comments to this post.

Ennerdale Show 2010

Ennerdale Show 2010- Fell running

It’s been a long time since I went to Ennerdale show. So long, in fact, that they don’t even hold it in Ennerdale any more. The show has moved from the lakeside field I remember and headed up the hill and over the border into Lamplugh. If you climb far enough up the fell running course, which I, foolishly, did, then you can look down and see the showground and Ennerdale lake at the same time.

Ennerdale Show 2010

The show is really for the locals, it’s not dressed up for outsiders, though tourists and blokes who ran away to the city 20 years ago are still welcome (and, remembered). The displays and competitions revolve around agricultural pursuits. There’s livestock, sheep in particular.

Ennerdale Show 2010

But also poultry.

Ennerdale Show 2010


Ennerdale Show 2010

There were a number of vintage vehicles including, of course, tractors.

Ennerdale Show 2010

I missed the hound trailing, but did see some of the dogs being judged beforehand.

Ennerdale Show 2010- judging the hounds

No doubt the hounds and the horses are a legacy of hunting, though my memory is that hound trailing was still a big part of the show long before the hunting ban.

Ennerdale Show 2010

As well as the fell running there was also Cumbrian wrestling.

Ennerdale Show 2010- Cumbrian wrestling

I attended the show almost by accident. I was up in Cumbria delivering a mountain bike I’d put together from bits to my parents and they were manning a stall. I test rode the bike on the road up to the showground and then around forestry trails back to shake out any issues. As far as the bike is concerned there was only one problem- the lever for the front brake doesn’t work. The rider, however, is another matter. I’m sure those hills have become steeper since I was a kid.

More pictures can be found at my Ennerdale Show 2010 set on Flickr.

Moscow has activated the sleeper agents!

Numbers stations are a mysterious phenomenon possibly related to espionage. They are radio transmitters in Russia which broadcast seemingly random numbers or sounds. Recently one of them, UVB-76, changed from its normal buzzing to garbled messages. Theories abound about what they could possibly mean. If this was part of the prologue to a piece of spy fiction it would signal the activation of a sleeper agent or cell intent on killing key members of the British establishment (or US government if you must insist on not being parochial). They would have been called out of retirement by reactionary forces within the Russian government intent on taking the world back to the uncertain certainties of the Cold War or creating a neo-Soviet empire.

Another real life event which sounds like the opening of a thriller is the gruesome and bizarre murder of Gareth Williams a specialist in codes who worked at GCHQ and had been seconded to MI6. The conspiracy theories are already being formulated on that one, and everyone’s calling him a spy when the label is almost certainly inappropriate, just to sex the story up.

The Irwin series of stories (I have ideas for a few more after Tiger has finished serialising) feature a former MI6 analyst, so stories like this are of great interest to me. The reality will be much more mundane than the imagined reasons behind them, of course, but they fascinate for alittle while.

Tiger- Part Twelve

“If we carry on going around the block they’ll spot us and get suspicious.” the young Detective Constable commented.

“I guess so, James.” the DI agreed, “Pull in over there and get the A to Z out. We’ll play at being lost for a while.”

James turned the unmarked car smartly into the spot the DI had pointed out. He killed the engine and fished in the door pocket for the street guide. Flicking through to the appropriate page he mused, “Do people still use these? I can get all the maps I need on my phone.”

“Some of us don’t like technology. I can hardly use text.”

“They’ve opened the shutters over the personnel door, but not the loading bay.” James observed.

“That’s not going to be easy to enter quickly.” the DI leant forward in his seat and stared upwards to see the helicopter he’d just heard. “The eye in the sky’s here. You get through to their controllers and I shall find out where the men with the guns are.”

Four armed officers were in an unmarked van one street further on, waiting for an entry team- with their battering ram to clear the door quickly- to turn up. Meanwhile, the helicopter was making wide, circling passes of the tram stop further down Eccles New Road but keeping its cameras focused on the industrial unit. Their infra red camera told them there was a huddle of bodies just inside the loading bay and another two or three in the room farthest from the road.

James and the DI passed information back and forth between the armed officers and the helicopter until the entry team turned up. “Okay. Go when you’re ready.” the DI ordered.

A minute later two vans pulled up in the car park of the unit next to the target. Armoured and helmeted officers jumped out of the vans and formed up on the largest of their group, who hefted a large tube with handles at one end and in the middle. They sneaked along the wall to the door, where the officer with the club took a step back and swung it. As the door gave way on the second swing James and the DI stepped out of the car and headed for the action.

By the time The DI and James had reached the shattered door of the unit the armed officers had swept through it and subdued all the occupants. Five men were sat at a long table in the loading bay with their hands on their heads. An officer escorted three young women from another room. “No sign of the hostages?”

“No sir.” responded the man with the hammer.


James was by the table, turning over items of paperwork the men had been working on. “I don’t know if it’s any consolation, sir, but…” he held up a passport, the space where there should have been an image of the subject was empty.

“Collateral success.” the DI sighed. He took out his phone and called up Kay.

links for 2010-08-26

  • For more than 60 years master modeller Philip Warren has been painstakingly creating an armada of every Royal Navy warship afloat, in service or setting sail since the Second World War … out of matchsticks and wooden matchboxes.

    And without even knowing it he was building a unique history of ships – a modern day tribute to the vessels that have been serving his country since 1945.

    His collection of 432 naval vessels – which also includes 60 American ships – has been drawing huge and admiring crowds at exhibitions across the country since 1953. And museum directors are agreed that there is no other collection like it in the world.

    (tags: model)