Sunday, 4 December 2016

Rambling Sunday Bollocks

Okay, this brain requires modification. Some of this shit I can relate to. Cartoon theme songs is not even close.  And what the fuck is an internet meme? You need to throw in some white matter about ferrets and just a pinch about hot women jelly wrestling or mud wrestling, I'm not that fussy or pedantic. It wouldn't hurt to have a scantily clad Katie Perry warbling on video, but as always with the sound on mute. In my mind the useless trivia part of the brain would have to be much expanded, as would the math and science bits.

Actually my social skills are enhanced. I'm not some strange mumbling geek; I'm just strange. I converse well with all sort of folk, even fools. My thoughts remain mine, unless provoked. And I can be real charmer when I can be bothered.  

Consider this in the light of constructive criticism: where is the portion of the brain allotted to beer and women?  C'mon, beer and women are the main pleasures in life. Otherwise what is the point of existence? Obscure references, wandering off into dark dank places when you are shivering, in the foetal position, gently rocking, doesn't even get an honourable mention.

Seriously folks, this simple model of the workings of a man's brain is insulting and patronising in equal halves. I would raise a petition against this sort of thing, but lethargically, I can't be arsed. In the final analysis, I'm a very, very, lazy man and a tad, odd.

Nobody Expects the Italian Inquisition  

Behold the visage of a Great Man
Galileo (1564-1642) was truly a great thinker and scientist and a herald of the scientific revolution to come. As such Galileo relied on the scientific experimental method to advance knowledge. Today, most educated people are familiar with the power and utility of the scientific empirical method. However, in Galileo's day the usefulness of the technique to elicit new knowledge was vastly underestimated by the educated men of the time. This takes me neatly to the educated men of the time: Throughout the Middle Ages, education was controlled by the Church. Men of letters were invariably monks. Furthermore, the curriculum was strictly controlled by the church. Emphasis was strongly directed toward Christian devotion. Philosophical development of Christianity from the 4th century AD onward evolved from ancient Greek philosophy, particularly the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. The wisdom of these sages was deemed sacrosanct and not to be questioned. To question or refute some aspect of Aristolean doctrine was tantamount to heresy. And you know what happens to heretics, don't you? They get a light singeing with the dedicated singeing rod administered with loving care by the Inquisition. During the 16th century the laity in the West could receive an extensive and deep education if they could afford it at one of the Catholic controlled universities. Inevitably the education centred on Latin grammar and theology according to prevailing Catholic dogma. Galileo as a young man studied medicine but his studies were curtailed due to financial circumstance and he never completed his degree. Even so his talents were recognised and he managed to secure a teaching position at the Italian university of Padua. 

Due to Galileo's fertile, inquisitive and scientific nature, he broke new ground in the physical sciences. He is remembered for his seminal work on the laws of motion and mechanics. Once he acquired the new fangled telescope he published several tracts on his findings. From his observations he became convinced of the truth of the heretical Copernicus heliocentric world view. According to Catholic dogma, the Earth was the centre of the universe. This was in accord with Holy Scripture and supported by the ancient Greek savants. To say that the Earth orbited the Sun was to invite a visit from the infamous 'Inquisition'. Generally this was not a pleasant experience (see above regard to singeing implement). 

A simplistic synthesis indeed: Actually many learned Clergy were sympathetic to the Copernicus system. It simply wont do to see the Catholic Hierarchy, as a whole, totally opposed to the Heliocentric system and to new science. Some Scholastics were convinced, especially after peering through Galileo's telescope and were prepared to recant, albeit slowly. Tis true the more pedantic and devotional (stupid) of the ecclesiastic fraternity refused to partake of Galileo's visual revelation and remained steadfast in their dogma. Generally history has not been kind to such folk.

 It seems that there were sensible elements within the Catholic Church trying to reconcile the rapidly advancing, and as far as they could see, unstoppable march of science with prevailing theology. Smart Clergy realised that theology needed to be receptive to the new science even if it meant discarding cherished and long held notions about the world. After all, theology is about fluid interpretation. If you are clever enough and inventive of mind you can reconcile all, even science and theology, but this is nothing but sophistry and intellectual gymnastics and thus should be judged as such. 

Galileo was a genuinely pious man and tried hard to accommodate his observational science with prevailing Catholic theology. Sadly, the conservatives prevailed and Galileo's views and publications were deemed inimical to Catholicism and placed on the 'Banned Book List'. On occasion his books were singed with the dreaded singeing rod' (I made this up). Throughout his later career he was interrogated by the Inquisition and Papal representatives. As a matter of whimsy (not really), Galileo wrote a book (Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems) comparing both the accepted Ptolemaic and the upstart Copernicus systems. He phrased it in the form of a debate. The adherent to the Ptolemaic system was represented by the character of, 'Simplico' . Galileo's argument and thrust of debate is clearly in favour of the heliocentric viewpoint. The Pope of the day certainly got the point and regardless of his moderate stance, the outcome was predictable. Whatever the Pope's private views, in public, he was fettered by political and theological constraints and let's be frank, Galileo was not being very subtle: In Italian 'Simplicio' has the connotation of 'simpleton'. Galileo had powerful friends and thus his final years were spent under gentle house arrest rather than rotting away in a dank dudgeon.  

From our lofty perspective of nearly 500 years later it is hard for us to appreciate the power hefted by the Catholic Church in the preceding centuries. The tentacles of Catholicism reached through all levels of society. Monarchs quaked at the feet of Popes and generally complied with Papal edicts and Catholic doctrine. Henry the VIII was a bold exception. But that is another story for another day. I wonder if Henry would have had the temerity to break with Rome if England had been a continental power. The channel is a mighty antidote to the disease of Catholic power. Sorry, I'm starting to digress. 

At the fundamental level, science and theology are irreconcilable. Theologians and scientists who attempt a 'fusion' based on some form of commonality are involved in a doomed enterprise. Scientific methodology and scientific knowledge is totally contrary to notions such as 'blind faith' and 'revelation'. Simply put, it is impossible to reconcile the rational with the irrational. In any 'knowledge 'conflict between science vs religion, religion is always going to come off second best. Religion always peddles inferior and often shoddy intellectual goods. Thoughtful theologians have always known this. This is why, religion, when they hold sway and power over matters secular have always endeavoured to suppress new knowledge and individuals of intellectual quality. Now, isn't that the sad truth?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Petitions: not worth the paper they are not written on

Usual suspect
My last post was a tongue in cheek nod to the silly season with a hot gypsy side salad.

Imagine my obvious pleasure to learn that the new British five pound note contains traces of animal fat. The note, made of plastic, is virtually indestructible, unless you decide to burn it. Perchance to leave it in your trouser pocket and expose it to a heavy wash, spin cycle optional, and it will come out pristine and brand new. Hoorah, I hear you say. No more soggy notes and heavy labour matching up friable fragments so you end up with two definable serial numbers: thereafter trotting to the local bank to convince a dozy spotty teller to proffer a replacement. We truly live in wondrous times.

Some sectors of the populace are not convinced. In fact the presence of rendered animal fat has upset the vegetarian fraternity (and sorority) and indeed they have been moved to pen a petition, to wit: The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and other clueless sods in the U.K. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use. Apparently over 15,000 signatures have been garnered from folk with nothing better to do. The Royal Mint and government are dearly worried and are considering recalling all five pound notes. All future issues will contain only the finest tofu lightly seared with extra virgin olive oil. ARSE. This will make the notes more palatable to meat eschewing, whining, pansy minorities. Anyway, who gives a fuck about what the Jains want?

This sort of thing is likely to tip your gallant host over the edge into frank insanity and propel me on an incendiary bound frenzy. And let’s be honest, my propensity to ‘burn stuff’ is never too far from the surface at the best of times. Just one more push.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Dog Days of Summer

We are fast approaching the 'silly season', well at least in the southern hemisphere. That time of year renowned for its lack of meaty news stories. It is no coincidence that this time coincides with the closure of Parliament and the law courts. Seasoned journalists need to cast a finer meshed news net to capture stories for the delectation of the eager reading public. Tis the time of year when we hear of how 'Mittens the kitten' became stuck up a tree. Heart warming stories of the frivolous type which momentarily restores our gentle faith in humanity and distracts from our trite, meagre and often pointless lives (steady Flaxen). I am not interested in those stories today. Instead I'm going to share a few news headlines which have made me smile. Don't expect to feel all warm and fuzzy inside after casting your meat pies (eyes) over this sorry collection. If you are a seeker of wisdom then I beseech you to close down your browser, NOW and go and delve elsewhere. For here lurks madness which appeals only to those endowed with a twisted, nay sick, sense of humour. And if you are kind I might even be tempted to throw in, gratis, a few hot flamenco gypsy dancers. Hola!

Whether it is a well placed typo, a weird statement or sentiment, or a phrase which  simply defies belief, I now place them before you like a ferret dropping a well chewed Kiwi.

Read on and weep

Yes, that is a woman: A face that would worry rats
A face that launched a thousand binges. I suspect, at some time or other, we have all been tempted to 'freshen' up the black bean beef. And let's be honest who would notice the difference?

Who said pasties are not 'hot and sexy'
This one reminds me of the classic scene in 'American Pie'. The poor bugger in this story should have waited a while before putting his twinkle in the hot meaty goodness (silly sod). Luckily for future generations, this moron has voluntarily decided not to have kids. And for that we thank him.

Too clever
This is funny and clever. For god's sake give this journo a  pay rise, he or she deserves it.

"Who's a pretty boy, then?"
Poor Tommy is no longer with us, he is no more, bereft of life and joined the choir invisible. He is an ex-budgie. I'm hoping they put the intrepid Inspector 'Kipper' of the Yard on the case. Can't be having unsolved suspicious budgie deaths now can we? Spoiler alter: Twas the cat.

One word-Magic mushroom
Here we leave reality as we know it and enter a parallel universe fuelled by psychedelic drugs. Actually this one reminds me of the 70s, if only I could remember the 70s........

Not an easy word to spell
O the irony. I can sympathise as I'm not the best spella in the world. That said, with the ubiquitous spell chucker, there is no excuse.

Naughty ferret
My personal favourite. I've owned ferrets (no shit, you say) and I'm at a total loss how anyone can confuse a dog with a ferret regardless of anabolic steroid misuse. Just goes to show how gullible and stupid some folk are. 

Why would you think this is a good idea?
I suppose as long as you insert 'going with the nap' it shouldn't be too much of a problem, that is until you want to remove the poor hedgehog.

No comment
That looks like a very contented dog.

I do see the resemblance

Got it all: dwarf, sex, badgers and syndicated chef. Isn't life great?

Enough to put me off my vindaloo
For once I'm lost for words. I'm off to lie down and take my medication.

As promised

                                                                     Bloody gypos

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Nature vs Nurture

You don’t have to be a genius to realise that women tend to live longer than men. When I visit my mother in the ‘Old Folk’s Home’ it is clear that the old ladies outnumber the old fellas by a heavy margin. It is not too far from the mark to describe the home as a ‘Granny Farm’. And to be fair there is the air of vegetation amongst some of the poor inmates, er, clients. A wise man once said: “Old age is a shipwreck”. Not only is old age a shipwreck, some of the wrecks have accumulated a heavy crust of barnacles and the anchor has long since drifted away…….
So why do women, as a group, outlive men? Do men take part in riskier pursuits? Does testosterone drive us to violence? Are we more stressed? Maybe we take less care of ourselves and eat and drink less healthily than women? Are men exposed to hazardous work environments? Could it be that when we become ill we are less likely to visit a health professional? I can certainly relate to this last piece of folk wisdom, or as I like to call it: “First sign of death I’m off to the doctor”.
I think there is an element of truth in all of the above and perhaps combined they help to explain the observed discrepancy to some small degree. Also noted is that males are more prone to cancer overall, than females. And this being the case and accepting that cancer is relatively common, especially amongst the aged, it may go a long way to explain life span differences between the sexes. Many factors affect predisposition to cancer and environmental factors as mentioned previously may have their role to play. Certainly stress, testosterone and unhealthy living contribute to cancer predisposition although not as great as you might expect. Certainly not as great as finger wagging, lifestyle controlling politicians and doctors would like you to think: but that is another story, for another time.
Cancer is essentially a genetic disease and I’ve always suspected that the difference in cancer rates between the sexes may come down to genetic differences, but to date I hadn't seen any hard scientific data to back up my suspicion. Speculate no more! Researchers publishing in the prestigious, Nature Genetics, found that females have an extra copy of a gene which confers a degree of protection from cancer. The gene represents another line of defence against cells growing uncontrollably. Tis no surprise that this gene is carried on the X chromosome. Males only have one copy of the X chromosome while females have a luxurious, two. The gene in question is called a 'tumour suppresser'. If a mutation occurs which destroys its function then the affected cell is not necessarily cancerous but becomes predisposed. Generally, further mutations in other tumour suppresser genes are required to provoke the cell to become cancerous. Because women have two copies of the gene, both copies need to 'knocked out' to achieve the same mutational state of the male counterpart with one copy.
Researchers estimate that this gene may be responsible for 80% of the bias in certain cancers. Overall males carry a 20% excess of cancer burden in comparison to females. So once again an important trait in humans is mainly down to genetics and only marginally influenced by how we live our lives.
The debate concerning the extent environment and genetics differentially influence our make up as humans has become contentious; bitter and understandably carries political overtones. For instance, there is very strong evidence that our innate intelligence is mostly determined by genetics and the influence of environmental factors is marginal. Wise politicians and educators stay quiet on the issue. Scientists who talk openly about the issue are shouted down and branded as fascists. Just because society, or some aspects of it at least, do not like the findings of objective scientific endeavour doesn't mean it is not true. Science, or good science, should be indifferent to whether it is in accord with prevailing mores or political correctness. Anyone is free to disregard what they like and on whatever grounds, but let us hope Anyone never becomes a scientist.    

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Harden up

The world is a tough place and let us not diminish it's impact. That said, sensible folk navigate life's minefield with care. The foolish man runs amok and suffers accordingly. The wise and prudent man treads carefully as if in a burning building.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Tipton Secondary Modern c1972

It was a shit school- but burnt well

I was rummaging through some old documents the other day when I found this newspaper clipping betwixt the pages of an old book, entitled: 'The Art of the Incendiary'. The news article concerned the tragic conflagration which engulfed my Alma Mater the day after I graduated.

The police came knocking on my door a few days later with all sorts of questions. And of course I had an alibi. On the morn of the fire I was in the company of fellow ex Tipton school pupil, Sally Ault. As I distinctly recall we were involved in extra curricula activities in my unkempt bedroom. Sally's testimony, bless her heart, was unshakable and remarkably consistent. 

The evidence against me was circumstantial at best. And just because I'd had my shoulder length blond locks sheared on the afternoon of the incident proved nothing. The Inspector was unrelenting in his questioning and hung in there like a ferret clinging to a rabbit's neck. Confess, confess! Tis true the suspicious youth seen hanging about at the time matched my description exactly, as several witnesses were willing to attest, but I'm a great believer in doppelgangers and parallel universes and such. Wisely the witnesses had an epiphany and recanted. On second thoughts the youth's hair looked more mousy brown than golden hued. This ruled me out in a thrice. No way it could be me as I had just washed my golden locks which bedazzled in the sun and bathed the scene in an ethereal glow as if a cleansing H bomb had gone off in Tipton High Street. Here is a gratuitous tip: never use cheap shampoo or conditioner- false economy and I should know. Have I digressed? Anyway, without witnesses or a confession the poor Inspector was bereft of a conviction. No court in the land would have convicted on the evidence to hand and rightly so. It is better for ten guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be unjustly convicted. Isn't our justice system wonderful? The arsonistically (not a real word) inclined miscreant was never caught and probably lurks unrepentant within our very midst waiting for an opportunity to assuage a hunger which never abates.     

Is there a statute of limitation on this sort of thing? I suspect after 44 years it would be very difficult to identify the perpetrator and gain a conviction. Best to let it go then, eh Inspector?

Sally on the day of our graduation- I wonder what she is doing now?