Archive for the ‘Semi-Paranoic Mish-mash’ Category

Bangers, Mash & Beer!!!

In Quick Mish-Mash, Semi-Paranoic Mish-mash on July 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Saturday lunch is usually a bit of a budget lunch. Recently we’ve found ourselves at the AB Hotel in Glebe for lunch a couple of times. Their specials are reasonable quality, reasonable price in good surrounds, not too far from home, easy parking – $2.20 per hour metered parking.

Great!! The AB is the chosen venue for today’s lunch.

Chris orders Pho and she wants to try their dumplings (on special) … I decide to go for an old pub favourite – Bangers & Mash.

Our calculations have the food at a total of $26 for the 3 dishes!!

I order a beer. I am not a beer afficionado and I spotted a brand that was not familiar to me. That was what I would try with my lunch!

The barman gets a branded glass, a goblet/chalice style glass, pours the beer – it looks good, really good, the head perfectly complementary to the beautiful tone of the beer.  It could have been a bigger glass but … hey!

It looked magnificent and I was already thinking about having another.

The barman turns to enter our orders into the POS terminal, he turns back announcing …

“That’ll be $52!”
“Whaaaaaat! … But, …”
“It’s the beer.” he casually informs us. “It’s 26 bucks.”

We gag.

Budget meal! Ha!

A second beer with lunch? No hope!!!

A single goblet of beer – exactly doubled the cost of our meal for 2.

By far the most expensive beer I have ever had!

In London in 2004, I had a beer that was 10 quid – but that was a pint!!

This one was closer in size to a middie.

This beer is one of only 7 beer brands world-wide that can call itself a Trappist beer. It is produced within the boundaries of a Trappist Monastery, by Trappist monks. Fantastic …

This one is a Monastery in Belgium.

To qualify as a Trappist beer. The Monastery must be self-sustaning and their products (including beer) are to be sold only to help the monastery and good causes.

This was a relief to find out. I am all for good causes and self-sustaining ventures.

But I doubt the publican relinquished his share of the $26 to the Trappist order, or any other order for that matter.

Anyway the beer that so elegantly accompanied my bangers ‘n’ mash was Chimay Draught. The brewery is inside Scourmont Abbey in the Belgian town of Chimay.

I sipped it delicately, savoured every drop, and made sure it lasted through the meal. God forbid what would have happened if I had to have a second!!!

Here is where it is made:

Scourmont Abbey - Chimay - Belgium

Here is the pub that sells it (though lose the reindeer …)

AB Hotel - Cnr Glebe Point Rd & Bridge Rd, Glebe

And here is the beer …

The beer to wash down my snags

I must say that I was a bit cranky (silently cranky) at the barman who did absolutely nothing to prepare us for the shock … there was certainly no warning, the beer does not appear on a menu, there is no price list, the price of this beer does not appear anywhere in the pub (not that I could find anyway) … and the barman didn’t caution us!!

Who’s in control of my online world? Me?

In Semi-Paranoic Mish-mash on June 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Only the other day I expressed some suspicions/misgivings about the reputed benefits of the web and social networking.

Is there really a shift in power structure, particularly with respect to the distribution and consumption fo information?

Well, it seems that I am not alone in havuing misgivings  – not that I ever really thought I was. Eli Pariser has had them for some time now and he gives a great talk on TED about this very issue. Elis has also published a book about the subject – if you click on the bubble graphic below, it will take you to his page at Penguin books.

His focus is on filters and how choices are being made on our behalf.

These choices are being determined by algorithms and processes applied against what is known about us and our activities.

They take into account not just the preference we show through our usage but even the type of computer we may be using, the settings we have, our geographical location, and anything else that might be available and metered.

If I set a Google search on a specific topic, it is likely I will get a profoundly different output to someone else who has different attributes, location, usage etc.

Someone, or something, is making decisions about how information is filtered for me. Decision are being made about what I see and, importantly, what I don’t see.

So, rather than my online world being one of (perhaps) infinite connectivity and potential, it is really one that is bounded by the filtering algorithms applied by the Googles, Facebooks, Yahoos etc .

Pariser’s assertion is that my online world is a bubble, a bubble created and bounded by the filtering algorithms applied by the online powerhouses & information gatekeepers.

My online world is bounded by ...

So, what has changed? Have we just exchanged Murdoch for Zuckerman and landed with a very similar aggregation of power and information?

I dunno. But I do know that like Pariser, I would not be without the web.

Eli Pariser’s talk on TED is at the end of this link. His talk runs for about 9 minutes  – Filter Bubbles

Pariser’s book is called The Filter Bubble and is ominously subtitled “What the internet is hiding from you.”  I have not read it yet but looking forward to getting hold of a copy.