Cherry B: Onto New Horizons

I’ve come to the realisation that it’s time to sell Cherry B.

She’s a 2000-era Bavaria 34 sailboat (a sloop!) (10.8 long, 3.5m wide, 1.8m draft, 15m mast) with the double aft cabin which I’ve found super useful for storage and living space. She has a wheel rather than a tiller. I bought her in 2019 from a Training Company in Plymouth where she had never really gone very far. I sailed her to Bangor, Northern Ireland where I lived board through much of Covid. In September 2021, I sailed her to France, then to Spain and Portugal and into the Med where she now lies in a super-cheap berth about 10 minutes from Barcelona (which we have found to be super useful as Barcelona flights are pretty cheap). She’s on the UK Small Ships Register and EU-VAT-Paid.

I added a diesel heating system and 240V shore power system, replaced the batteries and put 12V ports into the bedrooms (so people could charge their phones). She has a new Chartplotter/AIS/GPS (ONWA) as well as the normal nav gear and VHF and the engine was recently given a full service. Her liferaft is brand new as well – god forbid it would ever be needed. She doesn’t have autopilot and I’ve not needed one – always having crew and plenty of cabins to keep them in!

With her age, there’s obviously some things that need fixed and maintained but she has sailed me through storms and winters with ease. Her sails are definitely a little old (though there’s a spare under the V berth) but she’s wholly serviceable for someone that wants to liveaboard as well as do a little travelling.
She has two SUP boards, two folding Kayaks, an eBike, an eScooter and a folding pedal bike which could be part of the deal.

Why am I selling? While she’s great for me, my partner wants more room especially above deck so it’s time to move to a bigger boat, most likely a catamaran. Cherry B remains as a super solid boat, maybe a little rough around the edges, looking for one more new lover to keep her travelling.


I’d like €25,000 for her. That’s a decent discount on her original price but I’m happy to haggle more.

Transitioning to a Green Economy saves more than just lives

A Fossil Fuel Economy Requires 535x More Mining Than a Clean Energy Economy

While it may seem unbelievable, the concept is simple.

Fossil fuel economies need constant investment in raw materials for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure (everything from the drill bits to the engines that burn the fuel). The wear and tear on the equipment throughout the FF economy means regular replacement. The fuel itself is also mined. We also use oil products to try and reduce the wear and tear on the equipment. Think about your oil change in your car. Now magnify that by a billion and you won’t even be close to the cars on the road across the world.

Clean energy economies invest all of the mining in resilient infrastructure. Solar panels have no moving parts. Solar panels last years. The energy they produce is not mined, we are literally collecting free energy that’s landing all around us. If we move away from EVs, the wear and tear decreases further (an EV is a sop to car manufacturers- they’re overweight ICE car analogues).

So while clean energy skeptics may point at the mining needed to produce solar panels, they’re being disingenuous at best.

Remember: we cannot reason with the unreasonable. We cannot use evidence to debate with those who do not respect evidence. We will fail if we use logic to challenge those who have abandoned logic for greed.

The Darwinistic Approach (and why everything worthwhile boils down to Natural Selection)

In my youth, I was lucky enough to study science, specifically Genetics. My thesis was about the change in populations due to natural drift – assuming a small rate of random mutation and some selection pressure. Selection pressure is what we would probably describe as “something going wrong” but it can also be a simple filter. Using a Darwinistic approach allows us to evaluate and iterate on a problem. What we are trying to achieve is “whatever can happen, will happen”. That’s the basis of Evolution and has led to a dizzying array of biodiversity in the natural world.

Mathematician Augustus De Morgan wrote on June 23, 1866: “The first experiment already illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice, what-ever can happen will happen if we make trials enough.” In later publications “whatever can happen will happen” occasionally is termed “Murphy’s law”, which raises the possibility — if something went wrong—that “Murphy” is simply “De Morgan” misremembered.

The thing to remember about Evolution (and by extension Darwinistic Natural Selection) is that the possibilities generated must come before the selection pressure or nothing survives the selection filter. If the organism doesn’t survive to reproduce, then the line ends. The bank of possibilities must be there already.

This translates into “innovation” easily. An organisation must populate itself with a wide heterogeneity of minds in order to generate the ideas (the fundament of innovation) with sufficient diversity that can survive the selection pressure filter. The ideas should not initially be fettered by the selection pressure criteria (otherwise every problem that looks like a nail results in a solution that resembles a hammer).

After the ideation is complete (though, in truth, ideation and iteration should never stop – just like cell mutation), the selection filter can be applied. Ideas which don’t at first make the grade should be subjected to further iteration before they can be discarded. Only this way can you have a truly Darwinistic natural selection.

Natural selection in this way resulted in modern humans – but also resulted in pilot whales, baboons, golden eagles and bumblebees. Each of them adapted to the niche they occupy. If you apply your selection pressure with the single-minded aim of producing something that looks like a human, you’ll miss out on the entirely practical solutions that resemble bees, monkeys, birds and dolphins. In business terms, this means discarding every solution that doesn’t resemble “we have always done it this way”. What happens to organisms that discard new things? They die out.

We are in an unprecedented era with worldwide biodiversity loss. Organisms are simply unable to adapt to the new way of the world quickly enough. Evolution is simply too slow. Unfortunately for us, we are part of that. Humans are tremendously adaptable – mostly due to our brains and the technologies we develop – but it would be arrogant to assume that we are not under selection pressure right now. Humans continue to evolve but, like our counterparts in nature, we will not evolve quickly enough and, due to the way natural selection works, many of us won’t make it. The Selection Pressures of a changing climate (whether you think it is man-made or not is somewhat irrelevant) are presenting new challenges that we need new ideas to resolve.

Our technology may save us, but we are only fielding ideas that look like old ideas, under the same selection pressures. Great ideas (the baboons, bumblebees, eagles and whales) are discarded because the selection criteria are not fit for purpose. The Legacy pressures from “we have always done it this way” obstruct the effective solutions by discarding innovative ideas.

for example

Statement: We need food to survive
Selection Pressure: Food is not distributed equally
Legacy Pressure: We must grow food for profit not to resolve hunger
Result: A lot of people starve to death but we generate some value for shareholders

Statement: We need food to survive
Selection Pressure: Food is not distributed equally
Legacy Pressure: Only solutions resembling beef steaks will be considered
Result: A lot of people starve to death, but some people get steak

As you can see, Legacy pressures are artificial selection pressures. They limit innovation, they hinder success. They leave us without workable solutions and instead present us with short term distractions that bring us no closer to the result we need (avoiding mass extinction).

We have the opportunity to generate all of the ideas we need before the real selection pressure starts. But we have to rid ourselves of Legacy pressures.


First they came for the writers, but I was not a writer.
Then they came for the artists, but I was not an artist.
Then they came for the customer success agents, but I did nothing as I was not a customer success agent.
Then they came for the developers and support, but as that was not my function, I did nothing.
Then they came for the sales team and I did nothing. Maximising efficiency sometimes means sacrifice.
Finally they came for the C-team, but as I had invested everything in the shareholding portfolio, I did nothing.
Finally I am a major shareholder in this company that no-one works at, where no-one can afford our products because we replaced all of the jobs with AI. Why won’t someone do something to help us poor shareholders?

Longing. A not quite poem.

Longing. That’s an odd word. I’ve been chewing it for a couple of days now like a dog worries a piece of cured hide. At this point, like the hide, the word is gnarled beyond recognition and, truth be told, a little soggy.

The problem is what it implies versus what it means. Chew some more. Longing. Longing. Lengthening.

That’s it, isn’t it.

Longing means to wish for something to come sooner but the implication is that the wait is lengthened. Just one more example of how human feelings just make the human condition worse. We want for something so much that it makes the wait even longer. Longing. Lengthened.

And when received, where does this feeling go? It flies unbidden into oblivion. We don’t notice its passing and we certainly don’t mourn it.

Longing becomes a state of being. Or maybe a stateless being. When you’re longing for something, it’s enveloping, all-encompassing. Like an infant screaming for care, ignorant of time, you cannot remember a time before the longing and all you know is how to end it. Longing has no tempo and pace. It is as inexorable as grief and maybe that’s it? Is Longing grief for lost moments, for shared experiences never birthed? Is it the silent loss of these unborn joys that makes longing feel so god-damned terrible?

So, I grieve for these missed delights. And as I grieve I cannot understand how long I have grieved or how long it will be until the grief is replaced. I just know with every cell of my being that at some point the inarticulate shrieking in my soul will cease moments before I touch you.

Sunday with Michael Portillo: Yours Truly on Orca Attacks

This week on Sunday with Michael Portillo, I’ve been invited to talk about my experience with the Orca attack that disabled my sailboat, my observations of their behaviour during the attack and what it means for human interactions with wildlife and climate change. › shows › sunday-with-michael-portillo

I don’t think it’s revenge, grief or memory. I think they’re much smarter than that.

The Guardian on ORCA Attacks

So, Green Software.

Her we are, mid-July in Malta and the temperature is soaring. 34º which ‘feels like’ 39º when you consider the humidity. All over the world weather is breaking new records and none of it in a good way. Record breaking soil temperatures. Record breaking sea temperatures.

My point for today was to highlight the state of green software.

Green Software is software specifically designed (or maybe excellently coded) to reduce resources or to have a positive impact on the environment. You won’t find very many so-called Web3 technologies in the list due, in part, to their huge energy requirements and many of them on Github will be unfinished, non-functional or perhaps one-offs far below what would be considered an MVP.

I am reminded of the Code 4 Good project back in Northern Ireland. I originally kicked it off as Code 4 Pizza. The idea that we would have a hackathon, provide pizza and drinks and focus on an area that really needed fixing for the good of society. Back in 2009, it was a pretty new idea and we managed to hack the local transport monopoly timetables into something usable. Later, I pitched the idea to the Building Change Trust and they ran a series of successful mini-projects where they’d match a programmer with a charity who had a need. Small bits of code to produce web apps and phone apps to make lives easier for charities.

This needs revived. To take on the challenge of fighting environmental collapse during a period when large corporations (fearful of boycotts from climate deniers) are pulling back on their public commitments – and if not held to account – will likely pull back on their real world commitments.

Some of this will be invisible software. Like software that helps a 3D printed solar panel frame orient itself towards the sun. Some of it will be very explicit, like reducing the energy footprint of major apps (Honestly, I’m looking at Firefox and Chrome here). As some of you may remember, I’ve been a fan of ultra-low-power-computing for years. The idea that my Phone has enough computing power for all of my needs has been demonstrated multiple times, the idea that my iPad (with a 20W power supply) was able to outpace the desktop PCs in Film School (with their 400W PSUs) is not lost on me. The concept that the Raspberry Pi, running on a tiny 5V 1A power supply could conceivably replace all of an individuals desktop computing needs is again not lost on me. On the Pi, desktop usage is a little sluggish, maybe not so much that a novice user would notice, but I notice.

But these pieces of hardware use less energy when working hard than a desktop PC uses when idle and I don’t know anyone who’s happy with their current energy bills.

We have the hardware to run highly optimised software – we just need to optimise the software.

Another update, has it been this long?

I last updated in November and here we are, seven months later with another update.

I arrived in Malta in early March and started working almost immediately, getting my residency here in April. I’ve spent the last couple of months just getting settled in a lovely rural location on the island of Gozo.

I’ve decided to resurrect something I used to run back in Ireland about 25 years ago. Around the time when the only support for Mac in Northern Ireland was NIMUG (Northern Ireland Mac User Group – which I founded). People needed a little more than just an online forum and I started to do this evenings and weekends while working full time. Eventually I found it worthwhile to quit the day job and then do Mac support full time – which is what eventually became Mac-Sys. As you probably know, I have Mac-Sys in the background beavering away but it seems that the islands of Malta have a dearth of decent outbound Mac support. So, with Mac Help Gozo, I’m looking to fill my evenings and weekends with helping folks.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been keeping busy with – that and writing.

A year on…

A year ago I was in Sines after two months of sailing around the coasts of Western Europe. I’d already been living on my boat two years at this point (and I have to say that the weather is a lot better in Portugal rather than Ireland.

Things I have missed (or things I previously took for granted):

  • No post. No letters, card, packages
  • Related to the above….Amazon – the company we love to hate – is super useful for getting things fast. Need a mousetrap, they can be delivered literally in less than a day. Need glasses cleaning materials? 24 hours. It’s not the same in mainland Europe and it’s definitely not the same living on a boat.
  • when you change countries, everything changes. Phone numbers, addresses, the price of milk, heck, even the type of milk.
  • People – It’s more than a little isolating.