Sunday, January 24, 2010

This and that

It appears that some bloggers out there seem to think that quoting from the Telegraph and adding words to the effect "me too" is worthwhile. Really, it's not. However, I do like to follow their links and seeing how many clicks it takes before you get to some half-arsed "libertarian" nonsense (answer - not many - and it's usually some guff about how "democracy is crap because after all the Germans elected Hitler didn't they?" - answer - no they didn't).

Fortunately, bits are incredibly cheap, so all this nonsense cluttering up the internets isn't really costing anybody anything. But you know, when someone can say
"When drinking was a male preserve that was kept out of sight in backstreet boozers, we never had all this anti-drink hysteria." and at the same time refer to a "wave of neo-Prohibitionist sentiment sweeping the land", I can't help wondering if they should put down the Telegraph and have a go at something a bit more fact-rich
like this:
Fascinating report about the history of temperance and it's relation to alcohol policy from the Rountree foundation

Enough about that.

We had a bit of a scare the other day. Sitting in the office having a cup of coffee while the boil was under way (we do sometimes do some actual brewing you know) a sudden loud bang made us jump up. Bangs pretty much have to be sudden and loud don't they?

Investigation (of the panicky sort) revealed that the circuit breaker on the 12kw copper heater had tripped and couldn't be reset.

We were able to complete the boil (just) on the 9kw, but I really wasn't looking forward to replacing the heater.

Next day, after I've found my little multi-meter under a pile of stuff, I unplugged the mighty heater plug and checked a few things. Everything nominal. B*ll*cks.

I dragged the copper around a bit so that I could get at the heater heads and checked the wiring. Bingo! Chafed sleeving on the earth and evidence of arcing. Smashing, put that right, threw a hundred litres of water into the copper and turned the heater on. Bang! Breaker tripped again. Double B*ll*cks.

More careful investigation of the wiring in the heater head revealed two more distinct faults (caused by vibration and heat I'd guess, along with slightly cramped wiring) and a bit of looseness as the cable passed through the gland. When I'd unplugged the thing I must have twisted the cable just enough to give me nice high resistance to earth - plugged back in we had a short. Anyway, touch of spanner and a bunch of insulating tape and we're laughing. Ah ha ha ha.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breaking the law (of unintended consequences)

I popped into the SIBA North meeting in Southport the other day. On my way from Manchester to Liverpool (no, the Sat-Nav is fine, thank you). All very interesting as usual.

The subject of SIBAs position on the tie came up. Again. The old topic of the beer orders and the "Law of Unintended Consequences" (LoUC from now on) was made much of. You know, how we ended up with the pubcos and that.

It's a pet peeve of mine. The LoUC isn't an actual law. It's not like the Law of Gravity. All it says is that things you weren't expecting (and didn't want) will happen. It's what you call a truism, and is often used to excuse inaction on the grounds that if you do anything - something bad will happen. This is demonstrably nutso, since we don't need to do anything for bad things to happen. They'll happen even if you just sit there. This is the "Shit Happens" theory (the SHT).

For instance, it's not even certain that the pub industry wouldn't have evolved into what we see nowadays (pubcos in trouble), or something worse, without the beer orders. Unfortunately there's no control reality where we don't have the beer orders, but all else is the same, where we can examine an alternative history.

In the absence of access to the alternative reality, everything held to be due to LoUC can be adequately explained by SHT, making LoUC useless as a guide to action.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm not after you. I'm after them.

I think what Pete Brown1 is doing, whacking on those ropey neo-prohibitionist "facts 'n' figures" with his mallet-o-truth is great. He's putting in loads of work and I find it really interesting. But I suspect that this is not about the facts, and a point-by-point rebuttal is not necessarily a good play. (Did you see "thank you for smoking" on the TV the other day? Top film.2)

I can't see there's any point trying to "win the argument" and expecting the people to rise up against the new puritans.

And anyway, we're aware of the negatives of alcohol misuse. Anyone who's had a hangover knows that alcohol can be bad for you. We all know alcoholics, have seen fist-fights, car crashes, etc. Precisely how much of this is down to the booze? Who knows? Do we care? Do we need to know more?

We've already decided it's worth it. We've been on the sauce for thousands of years. Far longer than we've been listening to medics or funding science.

The cost of cars on the roads is worth it (we've decided). The cost of free access to guns and heroin isn't worth it (we've decided). We're grown-ups, and we've made our minds up. We'll keep the booze thanks.

1. Here et seq.

2 Thank You for Smoking

Friday, January 08, 2010

Dihydrogen Monoxide phase change spoils my day

One of the first jobs on a brewing day around here (after putting the heater on in the office) is to run some cold water so we can check the mains temperature. Imagine our horror when a few chilly drops was all we got. As it turns out, the mains isn't frozen (don't believe your water company when they tell you that it never happens - on this industrial estate mains water is now down to 2.8°C - a few more weeks of this weather and it will be frozen, probably on a monday morning).

It took the best part of an hour clambering about exploring to discover that a short length of pipe running against one of the big bits of steelwork has frozen.

So, we remove that section of pipe and soak it in a bucket drawn from the Hot Liquor Tank. And then, when thawed, put it back. Bingo, we have running water, and can make a late start on the brewing. It's cold. The malt is cold. The fridge is just a box with a light in. We've got two heaters in the (cool) store.

I shouldn't complain, but it's 3:30 and we're not even boiling yet, so I'll be home later than I wanted, and I've got a cold, and Becky's got the car so I'll have to try to get home in the van (or near home what with the ice). Grumble groan.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

All work and no play.

Makes me ... something ... something.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pub closures?

There's been some discussion on the effect of TV-watching on pub-going over here
I suspect that there might be more to it ...