Whisky Timeline

One of the upsides of not working is that it has afforded me the luxury of reading somewhat more than before. Having left gainful employment, one of the first books I read was about the whisky distilleries of the Scottish islands, written by Ian Buxton and entitled Whiskies Galore.

The crossovers/overlaps in the histories of the distilleries discussed and various characters and companies involved got me thinking that a visual timeline of the history of whisky would be a good thing.

Primarily this timeline was for myself, since numbers, names, and words have always been difficult for me to remember, unless there is some kind of graphical tag associated with them. Hence the visual web based timeline idea was born.

So the task of creating a timeline began; both the technical implementation and the research of the subject itself. The technicalities of a web based timeline proved to be relatively easy … well at least for someone whose hobby & work has been IT since age 12.

Researching the history of whisky proved to be a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole! In fact, I’ve yet to decided where to draw the line … thus the timeline is a true work in progress! See what you think by accessing The Whisky Timeline.

An embedded preview of the whisky timeline is shown below, but the thing does look a lot better when viewed via a device similar to that on which it was first designed e.g. a laptop. On a smartphone I guess it’s okay, but you won’t experience it as this … erm, artist(?) intended.

Note also that some of the graphics are pulled in from the web sites of distillery’s. Unlike their whiskies, their web sites do change from time to time, thus I have found some graphics do go AWOL. If do you spot the signs of a broken link, please contact me and inform me of the offending slide.

The full URL is shown below.


The Future of Humanity

No, I’m not getting all beard stroking, navel gazing and blue sky thinking! The title of this post equates to the book title of Michio Kaku’s future gazing book, which covers topics such as terraforming Mars, interstellar travel, immortality and our destiny beyond Earth.

At this point, I should point out that the timeline of this blog is somewhat out of whack, because I read this book prior to reading Carlo Revelli’s book, Seven Lessons in Physics. In comparison, Michio’s book is somewhat disappointing. for two reasons.

Firstly, Michio is somebody that I’ve encountered over the years in many a BBC documentary. Primarily, Horizon documentaries (when Horizon was good – less thematic, and more hard facts). Michio is a professor at City University of New York, and one of the co-founders of string theory, and this isn’t his first book. Thus, in my book, he is a known entity, a kent face, a good chap, he has gravitas. However, reflecting the route taken by the BBC with Horizon, the book turned out to be somewhat dumbed down. The book didn’t deliver what I expected of Michio.

Secondly, and worse still, from the perspective of somebody who is a bit of a geek and has followed a wide spectrum of science related subjects for decades (yes, I do very much like my tech and science!), in reading this book I discovered nothing new.

Throughout, I found myself willing myself to continue to read the book in the belief/hope that it would get better. All the time, I was somewhat frustrated in that I found myself knowing more about some of the subject matter and asking myself, when is he going to mention “X” … and disappointingly, Michio never did. And, I should point out, that’s not because events have subsequently overtaken the book – I have taken into account the book’s publication date.

The book also suffers from being just a bit too whimsical and, dare I say it, erm … starry eyed at some points.

If you’re somebody to whom the subjects covered are all new (why would you be reading this blog … ?), then perhaps this book would be an eye opener. I’m sure that as a teenager, eager to soak up all the science/tech latest, I would gorge myself on the book’s contents.

As it is, I’m no a newbie to the subjects covered, so this book gets a C-

America City

Arthur C Clarke Award winning author is what the book cover if America City proclaims … before telling you who the author is (Chris Beckett) … and then the title of the book. That order is significant, because Mr Beckett certainly didn’t win the award for this piece of fiction.

That perhaps sounds a bit harsh, and granted America City is quite good at extrapolating where we are at present, with regards to technology and the ecology of the Earth, and fast forwarding a century or so hence.

Also, from the perspective of where politics sits and seems to be heading, America City is a bit of food for thought in terms the wall across the border between Mexico and the USA, and all the hoo-ha that Trump stirs up.

Nonetheless, I found America City uninspiring and unsurprising. The story line and the characters were predicable. The final chapters had an inevitability about them and the hoped for twist just never transpired.

Nevertheless, America City was still good enough to make me feel inclined to hunt down Mr Beckett’s award winning novel Dark Eden.