Farewell Douglas Ankrah, inventor of the Pornstar Martini

Tonight LSS bids a sad farewell to one of the greats in his field-Douglas Ankrah, inventor of the Pornstar Martini. We cannot improve on Katie Feehan’s piece for the Mail [1] below. Suffice to say

The Ghanaian-born entrepreneur invented the Pornstar Martini in 2003 while he was working at his cocktail bar Townhouse, in Knightsbridge, west London. The cocktail features a mix of vanilla vodka, fresh passion fruit, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla syrup and lime juice, plus a shot of Prosecco on the side.

Douglas, who was always a gentleman was inspired to invent the concoction while visiting a gentlemen’s club in Cape Town and went on to pioneer it at the famous Town House in London in 2003. To maintain the purity of his art he went on to produce it at his own bar, LAB. If our research is correct, it was right on the site of a former independent music-and-dance theatre which some will remember well.

Everyone can enjoy a good martini if you click on link [2] where Kathryn Maier of Liquour.com has no less than 11 variations: that’s enough for everyone, surely. And let them raise a glass to Douglas, a true entrepreneur, creator and citizen of the world.



#cocktails #fridaynight #pornstarmartini

Nuclear Fusion: Is this finally jam tomorrow?

Everyone remembers the promise of the White Queen to Alice in Through the Looking Glass: “…..the rule is: jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today.” Children of the nineteen sixties and every subsequent decade will remember the same promise for nuclear fusion: it’s just around the corner, it’ll be an endless supply of cheap clean energy, the living standards of the world will step change……..” and so on, and so on.

So news of yet another exciting breakthrough [1] US Lab stands on the threshold of key nuclear fusion goal” by Paul Rincon for the BBC has once again caused us to utter the hackneyed words “oh yeah?” It’s not that we don’t want controlled nuclear fusion. It’s just that we’ve sat around wanting it since 1973 (really, some of go back that far) Good luck to the hard working experts who are still plugging away at it. But they may be missing a trick.

Because sitting close to us is a free source of illimitable controlled nuclear fusion. It’s called the Sun. It already provides abundant power, as anyone with a solar panel will tell you. It drives the winds which turn all those lovely turbines. God help us, it even put the energy in all that filthy coal and oil which ignorant people so love to burn. Wouldn’t a little money poured into tapping that pay better dividends, at least in the medium term?

One day controlled fusion will arrive. But we think the timescale is so long that there is more chance of the White Queen redeeming her pledge to Alice first. Meanwhile, let’s use what we’ve got. It’s so much easier.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58252784

#nuclearfusion #renewables #solarpower #cleanenergy #globalwarming #thesun

More on Reasons and Ladders

You may be fed up with us saying so, but we think that the most pressing issue of our time is the appearance of so many people who defy reason and have become allergic to evidence. We alluded to it recently (LSS 9 august) and we are always open to anyone with any new idea at all on how to solve this depressing conundrum.

Far wiser minds than our own share our concerns, however. Nature Briefings has an intriguing piece by scientist Lee McIntyre on how he goes into hornets’ nests full of science deniers and flat earthers and actually tries to reason and convince. Brave man. Noble soul. Surprisingly he does seem to get results-sometimes. [1] [2] Ultimately the key to all this seems to be respect-and that’s not a bad way to treat anyone!

If we have got this right, both links should lead to the same piece, but we think it’s so important you should have every possible chance

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02152-y?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=13115e4795-briefing-dy-20210816&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9

[2] Talking to science deniers is not hopeless, says philosopher of science Lee McIntyre — if you’re willing to build trust and listen. (Nature | 5 min read)

Something big is happening in Central Asia-and it’s not in Kabul

Something much much bigger than the Taliban is taking place on the dusty plains of Central Asia. News that Russia and China have formally commenced joint military exercises should fill all of us with deep disquiet. Brad Lendon of CNN [1] tries to put an optimistic gloss on things. He says that the interests of the two counties do not converge. China has no interest in Crimea, nor Russia in the South China Sea. Perhaps. But by the same token, analysts of the 1930s would have alleged that Imperial Japan had no interest in Belgium, nor Nazi Germany in Hong Kong. Power finds its own reasons nonetheless.

It is easy to see what China gains from this for they are the overwhelmingly superior partner. But Russia? No one can penetrate the inner workings of the Kremlin. But someone there must have looked at the map and seen the enormous, resource-rich lands of Siberia and how vulnerable they are to a thrust from below. Better perhaps to make friends and supply the resources peacefully, before they are taken by force. It was the thinking followed by Joseph Stalin between 1939 and 1941, and it did not end well.

Western nations, where a flicker of freedom is still alive, have much to fear. We cannot wait in the hope of others falling out. However disastrous the loss of Afghanistan, at least it frees up money and resources to be better deployed elsewhere. Above all it shows how self-defeating our own little quarrels over borders and tariffs really are, when vaster issues are at stake.


#afghanistan #russia #china #taliban #usa #eu #australia

Weekly Round up: Anti-vaxxers, hydrogen aviation, snobbery and Nature

a weekly look at stories which stood out

Know your enemy Overseas readers may have missed it, but UK media this week were treated to the spectacle of an angry crowd of anti-vaccination activists and COVID deniers storming what they took to be the Headquarters of the BBC. Except the corporation had moved out eight years before. The few remaining studios were leased to rival broadcasters ITV, who use them for worthy things like afternoon women’s programmes. Surely the anti-vaxxers can’t object to that? It got a lot of ribald coverage. We chose this link from The London Economic because of the droll tweets it lists:

Green light to fly? Thoughtful people may be genuinely worried that their jet powered holiday to Marbella may be bad for the planet. Fair comment. Now a team at Cranfield University led by Professor Bobby Sethi is on the brink of developing a practicable hydrogen fuel. Here’s a quote from the article by Gwyn Topham for The Guardian as Sethi describes a breakthrough afternoon in the Lab

“……we were almost certainly the only people in the world right then burning anything without producing CO2.”

intriguing or what?


The New Snobbery The moment Labour lost it was in 2010 with the hapless Gordon Brown‘s contemptuous dismissal of the concerns of a voter in front of the TV cameras. It exposed deep fault lines between the educated and those who are less so. The phenomenon is not confined to Britain. At the real premises of the BBC, Brian Wheeler looks at the work of David Skelton, who thinks it is the key political divide of our times.


Know when the game’s up Fans of LSS will know we are big fans of the great Amy Chua, whose searing analysis of ethnic hatred Political Tribes exposed cataclysmic flaws in US policy in both Vietnam and Afghanistan. Whatever the cost in human rights, the West was never going to win in Afghanistan, as Natasha Lindstaedt explains in The Conversation. The USSR thought they were bringing progress there too-remember what happened next? Putin may gloat that he no longer has NATO forces somewhere under his southern flank. But how long can he keep the Chinese out of Central Asia? Good luck with that one, drhoogh!

Well done to Nature A few years ago Nature, the foremost scientific journal in the world commissioned Flora Graham to bring its massive learning to the ordinary Joe. The result was Nature Briefings, a marvellous dispatch from the cutting edge of science, geared down so that anyone can understand it in their coffee break. Today they celebrate a collection of their very best, as voted by their readers. If you have followed LSS to any extent, that means you. Enjoy


#antivaccination #conspiracy #hydrogenfuel #greenaviation #education #brexit #nature

Friday Night: Madeira and its wines

No one should let life pass by without visiting the beautiful island of Madeira, situated in the blue waters of the sub-tropical Atlantic. It’s like a huge garden, full of picturesque towns, gardens and rugged largely unspoilt scenery. And get this- it’s very low in discothéques and other types of dance halls, beaches and all the other drawbacks which tend to attract families, and the -er- popular set, if you see what we mean. They all go to the Algarve, and good luck to them.

The drink of Madeira par excellence is the eponymous fortified wine. A mathematical set theorist would detain you for hours describing all the different combinations of brands and flavours. We advise you to check our links at [1] and [2] below for the details. But what you really need to know, gentle reader, is that it comes in four types: Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial. which describes a range from rich and sweet to nicely dry. Connoisseurs will often kick off a meal with a Sercial aperitif and finish off the cheese and nuts with a good Malvasia. A bit like Sherry and Port? Perhaps. But Madeira has its own history and flavour, and we earnestly advise acquiring a good bottle to sit alongside your decanters of fortified wines, just in case the Queen or Mr Biden drop by and are feeling thirsty.

Visitors to Madeira come by plane and boat, as it’s a particularly favourite stop off on the cruise circuit. All should enjoy a visit to the Madeira Wine Lodge in the middle of Funchal. After six Tours of Duty on the island, we know it well. It’s not just the tastings and all the presents in the gift shop. The building is made of ancient timbers and you can literally smell the curranty flavours of the maturing vintages as you walk round. A must for the sophisticated tourist of all nations.

UK residents can get a good Madeira in our better supermarkets such as Waitrose or a big Sainsbury. A good entry point might be a Blandy’s Malvasia aged at about five to ten years. Even when opened for a quick swig, it usually keeps for years. Sorry we can’t comment on outlets for our overseas chums.

So after dinner tonight, crack out your best cheddar and stilton, turn down the lights and enjoy the savour of this fine wine in the company of a loved one or old friends. And don’t overdo it-because that lovely dark bottle’s got spirits in it as well as wine. So you were warned.

[1] https://www.madeirawinecompany.com/about-us.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeira_wine

#wine #madeira #portugal #aperitif

Apologies and thank you

Massive apologies to all readers for our recent post The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever, which appeared without its hyperlink. This error was corrected as soon as possible.

This was due to our own illogical incompetence and is therefore further proof of why you should read the article by Brian Gallagher. So you don’t end up like us.

Thanks again for your patience and for all our wonderful readers and contributors who have let us put the blog together for another month

The Editorial Board

The Hardest Logic Puzzle ever

What is logic? Why is it important? We at LSS think that logic is the ability to create chains of linked thoughts in a way that the links between them are strong. If A=B and B=C, you can be confident that A=C. When it is used on conjunction with observable facts it’s pretty powerful, giving us satellites, antibiotics, computers, and understandings of things like photosynthesis, star formation and other interesting things which were unknown to previous generations. When it is not used, you get things like climate change denial, opposition to vaccines, celebrity magazines, and all manner of strange and lethal political and religious beliefs.

Now we at LSS know that our intelligent and curious readership like nothing better than a good logical puzzle. So, courtesy of Brian Gallagher of Nautilus, we are proud to offer you the hardest logical puzzle ever. But don’t worry- it comes in step by step guides, with lots of sub puzzles. So you can read as far as you want, solve the puzzles, take your time, and if you finally get fed up, move down to the solution at the end. Here’s the puzzle, courtesy of Professors Raymond Smullyan and George Boolos.

Three gods A, B, and C are called, in some order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language, in which the words for “yes” and “no” are “da” and “ja,” in some order. You do not know which word means which.

We at LSS don’t think pure logic will solve all our problems. But we do think it should be taught a lot more in schools. Because the consequences of illogic can be found today, burning, throughout the world.


we thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for this post

#locic #reason #criticalthinking #climatechange

Don’t use reason, try a ladder

LSS freely admits to being a Whig blog, which of course makes us heirs to The Enlightenment. You remember-that heady time when thinkers like Locke and Voltaire advised the world to run on science and evidence, and roast beef and fine claret were the cult food statements. It seemed to work for a bit, it gave us the Industrial Revolution, modern medicine, computers and a whole host of other things that seemed to make life more interesting and bearable.

Except that now it doesn’t. There are huge groups of people who delight in denying evidence, denigrating reason and accusing scientists of being only in it for the money. (reality check; we have only met one rich scientist in our lives, and he spent more time in business meetings than in the lab) The problem is that with things like climate change, pandemics and any number of political delusions kicking around, the Ignorance of the Many becomes really dangerous. We can no longer afford to run the world from the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck.

Up to now, what may be euphemistically called the reason-based community has tries two things. Facts, and if they failed, trying to shame those whose mental processes are somewhat different. And, with a few exceptions, it hasn’t worked. Why people refuse to respond to evidence, and what to do about it has been a perennial fascination to us since long before Donald Trump invented the Interweb. Now Brooke Harrington seems to have some of the answers. Writing in The Guardian and taking the prickly subject of anti-vaccination as her muse [1], she recommends finding ways of giving the deluded a way to climb down in such a way that they do not lose face within their own little group. For it is there that opinions, prestige and social power are gained and lost, not in the wider world.

Perhaps the mistake of the Enlightenment philosophes was to inhabit their own little community, where reason and evidence were the touchstones. Forgetting that there were other cells where what counted was who had the best trainers, or could induce the most fear in those around them. The world is too small for multiple communities now, and unless we act, the dull will drag us all down with them Perhaps Professor Harrington has an answer.


#reason #education #donald j trump #vaccination #covid-19 #vaccination #public health

Weekly Round up: Child Poverty, Hydrogen cars

issues which we think may be long term

Childhood Poverty History shows that more technologically advanced societies eventually displace backward ones. So you need to recruit the widest possible pool of talent and intelligence. One way to undermine your own best efforts is to raise children so hungry that they will never be able to think or learn properly. Julia Diez tells the story for El Pais (this ones’s in Spanish, so translators at the ready)


Hydrogen a healthy alternative As the planet starts to burn up (see Greece, Turkey, California, Siberia and many, many others) we desperately need alternatives to oil. So far electric cars are making the running-but what about hydrogen? Jack Warrick of Autocar looks at some exciting developments


we thank Mr Gary Herbert of Buckinghamshire for this link

Making clothes sustainable Everyone likes a new outfit every so often. But it’s so depressing to see the enormous amounts of energy and time that go into making and transporting cheap fashions that people wear once and throw away. Hope is at hand as Elaine Ritch of The Coversation runs through some sane alternatives

Tim Vine grows on you Finally we would like to intoduce the work of British Comedian Tim Vine to our world of readers. How can you not like a man whose observations include “Crime in Multi-storey carparks-it’s wrong on so many levels.” He’s got lots and lots and lots and lots more where that came from