Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Tipton mourns one of its own

Bruce Fourwives in repose

A Befuddled Populace
Shock news from the picture perfect, 'Tipton upon Tip’ as it resides cosy, snug and warm within the receptacle of human detritus which is the West Midlands. For today it can revealed that the great impresario and chanteuse, Bruce Fourwives, has passed away peacefully in his Dudley mansion.

Bruce was birthed in Tipton in 1843. Even from a young age it was clear that he was destined to be a star. At age 4 he would entertain the local abattoir workers by clog dancing to the refrain of ‘Colonel Bogey’ whilst juggling a barrel of ferrets. His unrestrained risibility and gall bladder infection made him fans from the undiscerning, hard of hearing and Dr Mendip of the Emergency Department.

Sausages and Ferrets akimbo
His big break came in 1920 when he was asked to host the forgettable game show: ‘Chuck a Sausage’. As you will no doubt recall, the gist of the show turned around the premise: 'A thrown sausage is a good sausage'. Minor celebs would throw half a pound of best pork sausage at a butcher's dog wearing a tutu. The first celeb to induce vomiting in Trixie-Bell would earn thunderous applause and gain automatic entry into the ferret wobbling play off round. The genial host, Sir Fourwives, would seamlessly dance the light fantastic while screaming in a querulous stentorian tenor: "Nice to see ya, to see ya, ARSE" and who can forget: "Didn't he throw up well; "Cuddly ferret, cuddly ferret"; “Oops missus I've left my latest wife in the kindergarten, again".

O no, it's that wretched Mugumbo women again
Dame Edna ‘Where’s the Cheque’ Mugumbo was beside herself with grief at his passing. "Oooh he was a lovely man. We will never see his like again. A national treasure chest. He was loved by everyone except by his wives.  Bruce was a veritable leg end. A man so talented his could train a one legged whippet to spin on the spot (sans sausage)". She continued in this vein for several hours spouting a plethora of banal, gushing, platitudes, until the cheque arrived.

Sadly Pissed
Old Bruceeee had a penchant for beautiful young women and accumulated over four wives during a career spanning 80 years. He met his last wife whilst judging the Miss Tipton contest in 1984. Predictably, the soon to be Mrs Fourwives came in first, at a canter.

Bruce is loose in the hoose
During his later career, Bruce gained critical acclaim as the ring master to: 'Come Clog Dancing'. Using the well trodden formula, various D list celebs would rampantly clog dance while chucking sausages (prime beef) at a dwarf called Gerald. The viewing public loved it and he became a firm favourite with Queen, HRH Sharon of Tipton.

Bruce will be remembered as the irrepressible, cheeky cockney; lovable, and vulnerable with a touch of pathos tinged with a modicum of wit and comedic timing. Today we have another star in the firmament, this time with a very, very, large chin.    

Jerry Lewis was 102 years young.   

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday Bollocks

View the above and gape in wonder. A backpack fashioned in glorious ‘scrotex’. Note the texture of the wrinkled retainer. Imagine being the proud owner of a capacious load of bollocks strapped snugly upon your back in resplendent array. Delight in the rugose texture and hair sprouts. Express delight at the symmetry and attention to detail. When applying pressure to the blue vein it instantly drains of synthetic corpuscles. What more do you want of a scrotum cum bag?

The inventor of the ‘scrote tote’ hopes to manufacture copious amounts of the product and sell to them to the discerning punter for $120- that represents $65 a bollock. A handy receptacle for seamen (geddit? What a load of rollicks): contact the navy; contact my psychiatrist (Prof Mugumbo, 100 guineas an hour). This product should not be kept under wraps. It needs to spread its elastic tissue and soar in the wind like a winged scrotal thingy.

All this brings me neatly to my own testicular story. When I was a young spunker I basted/boasted under the moniker, ‘sprout sack’, guess why?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Friday Random Rambles

I initially grew up with the Imperial System of measurements and weights. The Imperial System was formulated as a 'rule of thumb' by an agrarian/barbarian society not overly concerned with absolute measurement. Twelve inches to a foot and sixteen ounces to the pound is an incredibly quirky system that could only arise in a pre-industrial society. The fact that the Imperial system worked so well over many centuries in the English speaking lands is a testament to its practical robustness. And today, the Americans are still happy to embrace this illogical but useful system.

Sometime in the 1960's, the British decided to embrace the logical Metric System. A system based on the rule of tens. Ten millimetres to a centimetre and ten centrimetres, to a metre and so forth. Weights also became destined to be decimalised. Now this is a sensible and pragmatic solution to weights and measurements. And let us be frank, the decimal system makes a lot of sense in our modern world. But here is the rub. Although the change in system occurred when I was a mere stripling, I still can't get to grips with the concepts of kilograms and metres. When someone says to me: 1 metre 75 centimetres (cm), this does not form a conceptual picture of length in my mind. I engage the brain and apply basic arithmetic and convert to feet and inches using the principle that 2.5 cm is very near to 1 inch. Sanity is restored (not really, I rely on the blue pills twice a day for that) and I can picture the height in Imperial terms. The same is very true with weights: by applying  the notion that 1kg is equal to 2.2 pounds I can grasp the item and weigh it according to my workable conceptual model. Clearly at my age I’m never going to be truly comfortable handling Metric quantities in a conceptual fashion. It matters little during my professional duties where I’m dealing with small quantities of materials being weighed. I really don’t have to conceptualise 00.257 grams. It is simply a matter of following a protocol.       

I’m not a ‘nay sayer’ when it comes to the Metric system. It is vastly superior to the Imperial System, although I acknowledge its eccentric lovable quirkiness and its historical and cultural value.

Just to be inconsistent, I still order beer in pints. Both in Britain and in my adopted country of New Zealand, a pint is still the standard measure for a foaming tankard of ale. And let’s be honest, who the bugger can visualise what 500 mls actually  looks like?             

Monday, 7 August 2017

Philosphy in a 'nut shell'

Philosophy is an interesting topic to expand the mind. But let us be frank: it offers no constructive or concrete answers to life or our physical existence. Tis an intellectual toy. Most of the answers asked are of the sort that can't be answered. No longer life light bulb is created and there is no mechanical device that saves space and time. So why bother to pursue simple, sublime philosophy? Yea, here is the great conundrum. As a professional scientist, I have no truck with the irrational. Philosophy is a halfway station between scientific rationalism and the frank irrational. Thus to gain knowledge from philosophy is like entering a mine field. Tread very carefully. And if you happen upon a bomb, don't forget to catch the severed foot (modern surgery can achieve so much if you get to sophisticated medical facilities, quickly). Retreat carefully and take another path.

Personally, a deep reading and contemplation of the Great philosophers is not about uncovering empirical knowledge. Nay, for me tis a method of thinking. It allows plasticity of thought which is endearing and helps solve scientific conundrums by approaching problems from a different stance and aspect. Most scientists and lay folk are ignorant of philosophy. Tis a great shame as the enquiring and diligent thought processes engendered by philosophic thought can clear the mind and offer new avenues for intellectual direction. If the endeavour leads to a dead end, then pick a new philosopher/philosophy. There are many to chose from and most of the doctrines are complete shit.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Stinky Eric

Lucky old ‘Stinky Eric’. When you spend all your begging money on Thunderbird wine and that cheap ‘Pirate beer’ which comes in at a noggin twisting 9% you don’t have much left over for the fripperies of life. I know you don’t have to pay for internet porn these days but you still need to pay for the netty and ensure that you have enough data thingy so it doesn’t stall during the groany moist bits. O yes, and of course there is the problem of having no fixed abode. The fella who runs the ‘Night Shelter’ doesn’t allow porn on the communal telly, so the poor itinerants are doomed to watch reruns of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ on a continuous loop. Stinky Eric is even showing signs of pathos and connection with the characters especially the one who plays ‘Hoss’ or is it the other brother? Who can actually say after 3 litres of Thunderbird, the premium wine of champions?   And anyway, Mr Mugumbo (who else?), the ‘Night Manager’ and sluice cleaner has a stash of DVDs in his office/broom cupboard which would make a scoutmaster/priest blush. His favourite, apparently, is the delightfully entitled: ‘The Crippled Nun and the Rhino.’ Bit like the sound of music without Julie Andrews and singing, but with more screaming and blood. 

As it turned out, Filthy Eric was in for a let down. He blamed the cold and she said it didn’t matter. Poor Eric didn’t even manage to get to the vinegar strokes. Too much wine Filthy Eric, too much wine. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Life, the universe and everthing

Why is this image at a jaunty angle?
Most of us at some time in our lives have reflected on the deep mystery concerning the 'meaning of life’. Those of a religious persuasion are generally sure in their conclusions. This life is a mere preparation for the next ethereal and eternal existence in paradise or life is part of an endless cycle of growth and rebirth. Thus there is solace and meaning for religious folk. The reason why we are born at all or why we require a testing corporeal interlude is rarely addressed.  As an atheist, by default, I cannot think or gain consolation from these doctrines. And in a way I feel a grudging envy for those whose minds find satisfaction and stillness in religious belief. But the distraction is fleeting. Gaining any degree of cheer or comfort from something fantastic and patently false is a wondrous diversion and a sweet lie.

As a biologist living in a post Darwin/Dawkins intellectual paradigm it is hard to consider life in the sense of purposeful direction. Life I suspect, in the universe, is relatively common, 'life' as is understood by a professional biologist anyways. Complex life, however, I suspect is a rare beast indeed. Mayhap we are lucky that conditions on earth fostered complex life that eventually evolved into sentient intelligent life capable of self awareness and self contemplation. Indeed, evolution is not progressive in any sense. Any organism which survives its environment and passes on its genes is an evolutionary success. I suspect that the evolutionary line resulting in increasing brain capacity and ultimately intelligence has proved a successful strategy, for now. Remember, that some of the most prolific organisms on earth are bacteria- creatures without a nervous system and hence consciousness. Evolution does not favour the brave or the smart, just the reproductively successful and on occasion, the lucky; evolution can be capricious.    

Classical Greek philosophers tended to consider the ‘meaning of life’ in terms of living a good and virtuous life without malice and evil. There is a down play of the pleasures of the flesh to be replaced with the attainment of knowledge and mental development. However, Aristippus, a pupil of Socrates, emphasised life’s pleasures of wine, food and sex. Although not as morally uplifting as some of the other classical notions, it is probably more in tune with reality, at least for most of us. Even the lofty distracted intellectual must climb down from his/her ivory tower for a belt of single malt and a gentle caress once in a while, unless their aesthetic is rigid and severe. Aristippus certainly bucks the main philosophical trend. For Aristippus, hedonism is the way to go and physical gratification is more intense than mental pleasure. Later Christian philosophy was subsumed to devotion to the one true God and the meaning of life was meaningless. Life itself a mere passport to heaven or if you failed to gain the entry stamp, hell.

So if there is no God, heaven or eternal paradise how can life have meaning? Surely a disbelief in a redemptive God leads to nihilism? And I agree nihilism can be an attractive alternative for the non-believer. On dark winter nights, whilst alone in my unlit study, the state of nihilism can be alluring, like a perfumed whore. However, in my rational and lucid moments, depending on medication cycle, I realise that nihilism is not a real concept as such; just a negation of life and therefore an epistemological dead end. Nihilism is not a new concept and certainly the Ancient Greeks articulated something akin to metaphysical nihilism. Nihilism has never left us and paradoxically raises it’s truncated and muddled head in times of relative comfort among contemplative folk who really should know better. 

With the coming of the Enlightenment in the West, secular philosophers by their very designation discarded much of the religious focus and swerved to a consideration of ‘life’s meaning’ according to the individual and social interaction. Lofty ideals came to the fore without a consideration of mundane humdrum human nature and reality. Surely there is nothing new under the sun.

Nietzsche is sometimes associated with nihilism. Undoubtedly Nietzsche wrote about nihilism but I see little evidence that the man was a nihilist himself. In fact his attitude to the meaning of life was one of subjectivity. Each can find an answer which is valid for the individual. This is a sound pragmatic viewpoint not overly dressed up in philosophical finery but Nietzsche, towards the end of his life, was completely barking mad. Make of his philosophy what you will.

There you have it: no great insight from the golden haired one and I confess that I side with Nietzsche on this one. The meaning of life is not an objective or empirical question. Each individual must make up their own answer. The subjective conclusion, if there is one, is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, I could be writing total, utter and complete pretentious bollocks. I have a tendency to do this, especially when drunk. Arse.