Friday, August 31, 2007
We seem to be living in a society which is less & less prepared to trust. Under a Government which does not want to trust its citizens. Prove you are who you say you are or we will have to assume youre a money launderer or a terrorist. Prove you have no criminal record or we will have to assume you are a paedophile
Squawking at you all the time. Smoking is a criminal (!) offence. Approval needed to buy matches or the Saturday edition of The Times.
All sorts of officials may or may not have the power to fine me for something or the other. Putting an empty sardine can in with the non-recyclable rubbish. Failure to wash my plastic bottles. Who knows - nobody I suspect, with the number of new offences created in recent years
Ignorance of the law may well be no defence, but the citizen ought to have at least a sporting chance of knowing what it is
And with such a proliferation of offences, enforcement must become more random & thus increasingly arbitrary & unfair. This can only add to a general sense of cynicism, among both enforcers & enforcees. It it any wonder we can hardly be bothered to vote? We are just acting like bored & bolshie teenagers - yeah, yeah, whatever
If a (normally) lawabiding old lady can feel like this, its no wonder some just take the attitude - may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Only one year - so far
If it goes on for 3, how long before people make the connection with the Irish Famine? And start questioning the wisdom of decrying food miles & the fad for trying to live only on food grown close to home?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
But derelict or semi-demolished urban buildings hold a beauty too.
A wall can be merely a wall, but in some of Cartier-Bressons photographs the walls are painfully human, & live & talk about themselves. There is that vulgar wall behind the man in the brass bed; that great lonesome wall of broken paint & plaster along which some child is wandering; there is a huge sun-bright wall of a prison or an apartment house with a boy who is like a shadow at its base … There is the clash of sun & shadow, like modern music, in a Cartier-Bresson picture
Langston Hughes introduction to catalogue for Mexican exhibition 1935
Friday, August 24, 2007
This rang a bell & I found this in my Commonplace Book:
If we collect a man's urine during 24 hours & mix all this urine to analyse the average, we get analysis of a urine which simply does not exist; for urine when fasting is different from urine during digestion. A startling instance of this kind was invented by a physiologist who took urine from a railroad station urinal where people of all nations passed, & who believed he could thus present an analysis of an average European urine!
Claude Bernard 1865
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
One of the things which struck me quite forcibly was the contrast between the obvious passion & intellectual force (& rightness) behind the idea of Human Rights & the sheer triteness of much of the result
It often simply seems unfair to enforce someones right at others expense. It seems just unfair, & so it goes against what seems to be the first, earliest moral judgement we any of us make
There seems to me to be a host of good reasons not to send back to Italy the young man who is currently the focus of a media frenzy, & mostly only bad ones for doing so
But to claim that his human rights somehow trump all other arguments adds only to the sum of human grief & anguish & causes irritation & annoyance to neutrals, people who would otherwise accept any decision to let him stay with sadness & equanimity
He also commented on how semi-naked men occupy more space than if they are clothed. This explains why men who go to supermarkets dressed only in shorts & flipflops are so bloody annoying!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
But serendipity is so much nicer. Especially as it seems now to be emerging from its phase of being a devalued advertisers word. Hopefully
The kind of thing I mean by coincidence is well illustrated by Googling, especially on the blogs.
Even more powerfully, something you werent even searching for will suddenly pop up out of nowhere to remind you of all the infinite ways we are connected. Not entire unto ourselves. A piece of the continent
Related post: Only connect
What struck me most about them was the very distinct differences there seem to be in the patterns of subjects studied & the grade distributions of boys & girls. Looks much more subtle & interesting than just Boys do more physics or Girls do better than boys
Must try & get round to doing a more detailed analysis
Meanwhile I am left pondering why CHEMISTRY & HISTORY should be the only 2 subjects with a 50:50 split between boys & girls
Monday, August 20, 2007
I hope they will soon do Reluctant Neighbours too
And that all his books will be republished
A back of the envelope calculation. A ball park figure
It goes like this:
- 3/4 million babies born each year
- add 1/4 million for pregnancies which end in abortion (medically induced or spontaneous miscarriage)
- total population 60 million
- so 30 million females
- so 1 in 30 gets pregnant each year
- average length of pregnancy 30 weeks, say, (to allow for premature births & all those which do not result in a live born child)
So, on any given day, any female (of any age) is, on average, 1 week pregnant
We could refine the calculation. Adjust it to apply just to females 'of child bearing age'. Make other adjustments to allow for women who could not possibly be pregnant
Its not a fundamentally silly calculation. Quite useful for thinking about the overall provision of maternal & antenatal services, for example
And vital to bear in mind before you submit any woman to X-ray radiation, or a job involving exposure to substances which may damage a foetus, or prescribing any drugs
But silly if applied unthinkingly to every female, in any circumstances. Cruel, even
The moral of this story is: Statistics apply to populations, they dont apply to individuals
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Interesting that the current panic is largely about who owns all the debt
Friday, August 17, 2007
The most intriguing question is : what will it do to time? The time taken to decompress the signal varies from set to set. So Big Ben or the Greenwich time signal pips will no longer be reliable guides
Will this matter? After all, we have only had to work to a standard national time since the coming of the railways. But before that people did at least generally work to a standard local time. With digital you could even have 2 different times in your own home
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I suppose we ought all to think that this new, strict policy of not selling a whole range of goods to people who are LUCKY ENOUGH TO LOOK AS IF THEY ARE UNDER 21 is a GOOD THING
But the policy produces very public social embarrassment for teenagers. Especially when the 16 year-old behind the checkout has to refuse service to someone who is obviously eighteen, maybe even a school or college mate who just doesnt have a proof of age card on them
Just as CCTV gave us hoodies, this well-intentioned policy will probably produce its own dodgy tactics
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Manchester University erstwhile mathematics building, now demolished.
I used to think that this was a monstrosity. Then I realised it was one of the few landmarks I could see from the train & started to like it some. Then saw it, literally, in a different light, & started to love it.
Friday, August 03, 2007
These days if you see someone who doesnt look Muslim but who is wearing a scarf, you tend to feel a twinge of sympathy, thinking they must be on chemo. Or the Queen, if theyre on a horse
But if everyone was doing it, & Hermes replaced Burberry as the Chav must-have - ???
Times cryptic crossword clue 2007: What might set off hard faces? (9)
Thursday, August 02, 2007
To illustrate the need for faith he used the example of paternity. A woman can always know that she is a mother (though not necessarily with absolute certainty of any particular child). A man can only ever know that he is father through faith
With DNA testing there is now more information available to a man. But even so, there is no absolute, objective certainty - for example if he has an identical twin brother. I dont know how certain one can be if there are other close male relatives in the frame
There has always been a strong presumption in English law that a womans husband is the father of her child - getting a legal ruling that this is not so is still difficult, I believe
If the parents are not married to each other then a simple declaration on the fathers part is sufficient to get his name on the birth certificate. And there are routes for getting a man declared legally responsible if he is unwilling to do so himself
There are new moves to make all women declare the name of her childs father, & to make it compulsory for any donor of gametes to be named on the certificate
I am not directly commenting on these proposals here. What concerns me is whether we are on the way to creating a new underclass of 'bastards'. Those whose mother simply does not know who is the childs father
And what legal responsibilities will married couples have, if one or both of them know that someone other than the husband is or maybe the biological father, purely in the old fashioned way?
I dont in any case understand the argument that a child has a right to know its true genetic inheritance. If you can read anybodys genome, why do you need to know where it came from?