Saturday, December 30, 2006
So far, I haven't seen this, so it is my own original thought, but I'm sure it will occur to other people. It's just that I'm blogging about it first.
My second meme is one that I've already used in a previous post talking about the barrier that Blogger had up temporarily, which prevented me from commenting on Beta blogs. I referred to it as the Ion Curtain. It can be extended to refer to any electronic barrier in cyberspace. Feel free to use both memes. Just remember where you heard it first.
Friday, December 29, 2006
I started off in the primary school there as the one English pupil in a class of Scots speakers. My younger sister adapted to the new speech patterns, but being older, my accent was just about fixed. I say just about, because there was obviously still some flexibility left in my neural structure. Slowly, my accent has evolved. Now, if you could hear it, you could tell I was Scottish, but you wouldn't be able to say from where in Scotland. No-one can. Patients are always asking me where I come from. My accent has been placed in the Highlands and Islands, Buckie, the Borders, even Ireland. They're always surprised when I tell them I'm local.
Of course, I can't hear my accent. To me I sound as if I'm speaking straightforward English. It's everyone else who has an accent.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
So far so sci-fi. Reality however has a knack of catching up with our imagination. A Komodo dragon in Chester Zoo has just laid eight self-fertilised eggs! The biologists' conjecture is that this is an evolutionary strategy to enable a single female to colonise an island by producing a batch of male offspring who can mate with her, and kick start the population.
I'd always felt that this was one of the weaker plot devices of both films. Parthogenesis? In large lizards? Yeah right. And now it seems that biology has proved them right. I bet it's morphic resonance really.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
But people trying to reconstruct history based on Exodus should also be wary. Although it may be based on ancient texts and oral tradition, Exodus probably wasn't written in its final form until the exile in Babylon, about a thousand years after the events. The description of the Thera event of 1628BC could have been incorporated into a later description of a mass migration following an earthquake round about 1500BC.
Here's another possibility, suppose the great famine that occurred under Joseph's governorship was the aftermath of Thera? Seven years of famine caused by a couple of degrees cooling of the Earth resulting from the release of tons of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, sounds like a plausible scenario.
The chronology problem of biblical times is not going to be sorted until we have rock-solid date markers to hang the known history on. For me, the 1628BC date for the Thera eruption is about as solid as you can get, assuming the science behind the ice-core dating is sound, which I believe it is. The biblical account of Exodus is not solid. It should only be used to colour in the historical record, after the chronological structure is in place. For that, we need more markers, and a willingness to abandon any preconceptions.
It's the ultimate jigsaw. We're missing most of the pieces, and we've only got one of the corners.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
This is how it works. There are 365 days in a year - 364 working days and 1 Christmas day. In Quantum Santa Time, it's the other way round - 364 Christmas Days and 1 day off (probably his birthday). Being quantum time, these 364 days can all overlap, giving Santa 8736 hours to work with. There are 24 time zones, so Santa starts with a ration of 364 hours per time zone. But not all time zones are equally populated, so Santa can borrow hours from the time zones straddling the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and add them to the time zones covering Europe and the Eastern and Western seaboards of America where the bulk of the Santa-believing children live.
So if you were to be at the North Pole on Sunday night, you would observe Santa and his reindeer-drawn sleigh fissioning into 364 quantum Santas, heading south in an ever widening ring until they disappeared over the horizon.
And that is how Santa is able to deliver all those presents in one night.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Before you write your comment, click on other. A different comment box will appear with a space for your blog handle and your URL. Enter these, then type in your comment. Now you can post the comment, and it will appear in the list of comments on the beta blog. The only problem is that your name appears in black, indicating that readers of the blog will not be able to link to you by clicking on your name, so it ain't a perfect fix, but it'll do for the time being until Blogger see fit to undo all the chaos they have sown.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In the real world, there's Iraq, and the recent US elections. In the Blogosphere there's the Beta Blogger conflict, and the recent voting for the Weblog awards.
In the real world there's Bush, Blair and the Beckhams. In the Blogosphere there's Markos Zuniga and PZ Myers.
Whereas most people in the Blogosphere have heard of the real world, I find that most people I know in the real world are more or less unaware of the Blogosphere's existence. It's difficult to have a conversation about blogging, when you've first got to explain what a blog is. There's no mention of the Blogosphere on the media, no coverage of the exciting campaign waged by Pharyngula and the Bad Astronomer to win the Best Science Blog Award.
It's as if the Blogosphere were some kind of Phantom Zone, invisible and undetectable to the vast majority, constructed from massless blog-neutrinos.
And yet, it has an effect on the real world. The recent Democrat landslide in The USA would surely not have been so devastating were it not for the liberal blogs providing a communication outlet that counterbalanced the traditional media establishment.
If this is merely the beginning, what will happen later? Will the Blogosphere ever break through to the real world, and its events and personalities become familiar to the many?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
One blog I'm particularly having difficulty with is Bentley's blog, now entitled Blogging with Gzus. (whatever a Gzu is?) If you're reading this Bentley, I haven't stopped visiting your blog, I just can't log in to comment. I keep typing in my password, both for Blogger, and for Google without success. I've even tried leaving an anonymous comment - but no joy there. I know he's recently converted, so I'm wondering if that's why I can't get in, or if it's some other reason? When I could get in, he told me he couldn't see that much difference between the two, so if anyone has any further experience with beta, this is the place to share.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
If you want a slew of examples of these phenomena - though why you would want to? - you should check out this website: www.crank.net . Be warned, there are a lot of disturbed people out there, and they've got computers.
I wish I could have read this thirty years ago. It might have acted as a signpost to better things.
So read it. Then, if you do know someone struggling in that situation, e-mail them the link, or print it off and give it to them. Don't say "I know what you're going through." Just give them the essay. If they want to talk about it, they will. Then, if you've been through the same hell that is secondary school, tell them, "I've been there."
Monday, December 11, 2006
Time gets really complicated on the Blogosphere. You find that the time that you post bears little resemblance to the actual time at the bottom left corner of your computer (except on this blog, where I've jiggled it round to Greenwich Mean Time.) It's probably because most of the blog hosts operate out of California, which is about nine hours behind. It's most inconvenient to have to go to bed, just when people are logging on after coming home from work.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The CU continue to deny that the course is homophobic:
"Homosexuality is a very small part of the course. It's mentioned in the same category as fornication and adultery, not the way God intended relationships to be. It does not single it out as worse than anything else." (emphasis mine)
So that's all right then. It's no worse than fornication or adultery. No homophobia here folks. Move along.
The trouble is, they don't consider themselves to be homophobic. They wouldn't dream of kicking a gay man in the face, or spitting at him, or swearing at him. Their religion is one of love. They love the person but hate the sin. They are sad that these people are engaging in activities that sets them apart from God. But they're not singling out gay people. They're no worse than adulterers or fornicators you understand.
In order to get people to admit they have a problem, you have to get them to admit they have a problem. The CU are feeling persecuted for their belief that gay people are sinners, and they can't see why the EUSA and LGBT have to be so mean about it.
Meanwhile the University faced with legal action, is desperately searching for an answer to this situation. But they've got rules for organisations who use their facilities, and one of those is a commitment to equality and diversity. Well at least gay people are equal to adulterers and fornicators.
Friday, December 08, 2006
The terrain underneath is a photorealistic depiction of the San Francisco Bay area. I've now flown over the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Park, and Alcatraz. At some point, once I've learned how to handle the machine better, I'm going to attempt a flight under the Bridge. That's the beauty of virtual reality, you can do things you could never dream of doing in the real world.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
It'll make colonisation of Mars that much easier, now we don't have to cart water and oxygen all the way there.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Polar ice would be a wonderful find, but recent experiments have put that possibility into doubt. It'll just make the project a bit harder, that's all.
Let's postpone a Mars mission until we've rehearsed it on the Moon. The improvements in technology will make Mars much more accessible
Sunday, December 03, 2006
It's Love and Will by Dr Rollo May (Souvenir Press, London 1970). Janiebelle, who I got the meme from said last night that she'd found out which book it was, and that wasn't long after posting. I suspect she found out through the internet, but I can't rule out her having the book in her possession, and having read it. If, of course, she turns out to be a close relation of Dr May, then I'm giving up skepticism for good, the universe would then be too darned weird.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
It's a meme I found on U dream of Janie. I thought, what the hell, let's give it a shot. Here we go:
1.Grab the nearest book. No cheating! The nearest book.
2.Open the book at page 123.
3.Find the fifth sentence.
4.Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5.Don't you dare dig for a cool or intellectual book on your shelf. Pick out whatever is closest!
The sentence at the top of the post is number five. Here are the next four sentences of the book.
When this power goes awry and one element usurps control over the total personality, we have "daimon possession," the traditional name through history for psychosis. The daimonic is obviously not an entity but refers to a fundamental, archetypal function of human experience - an existential reality in modern man and, so far as we know, in all men.
The daimonic is the urge in every being to affirm itself, assert itself, perpetuate and increase itself. The daimonic becomes evil when it usurps the total self without regard to the integration of that self, or to the unique forms and desires of others and their need for integration.
Whew! I wish now I'd picked the book on the shelf above - a Dilbert book by Scott Adams, instead of this tome, one of my wife's psychology books.
I'm not supposed to tell you which one. You have to guess. So to keep up the suspense I'll wait until my next post to tell you. I promise.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Deacon Barry star rating **
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It's been exactly six months since I started this blog. I didn't know when I started if I would have the perseverance to make it this far, or if I would run out of things to say. But I'm still here, still blogging onwards, and now I've got to get to my first anniversary. I couldn't have done it without you reading and commenting. If I hadn't had your feedback, I couldn't have got this far. It's knowing that people are counting on me to write posts that gives me the encouragement to carry on. Thank you.
I was planning, just to post about getting to the six month milestone, when today, one of those serendipitous events occurred. This morning I got my letter of assimilation to Agenda for Change (AfC).
Agenda for Change is the new pay structure for the NHS. All employees - apart from doctors who have their own pay structure - are being matched, according to their job descriptions, to a pay band, running upwards from 1 to 10 (or is it 8? I can't quite remember). Guess what? I'm band 6! Specialist Nurse. It's because I've got the Diploma in Ophthalmic Nursing. I'm gob-smacked. I keep re-reading the letter, just in case it's a misprint. But it's there several times in the documentation - Band six! Call me cynical, but you see, I was honestly expecting to be in band five. This is way better than I ever thought. It makes a big difference to the amount of money I can eventually earn in my present position. The ceiling is so much higher.
And there's two years back pay to come in February.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The results are in, and guess what? No water!!
Geological science -1 Pseudoscience -0.
Jersey States have now wasted a few hundred pounds searching for non-existent water, that the geologists told them wasn't there!
Remember this story, and remind people of it when they look like making decisions based on woo and flim-flam
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Contrary to what you may have heard, the CU has not been banned, nor has the course itself. The CU are at liberty to hold the course off campus, though why they would want to after all this negative publicity beats me. They're bound to get hecklers coming along now wherever they hold it.
As far as I can make out through all the conflicting reports, the course hasn't even been officially banned from the campus. It's just if they try and hold it at the University they're going to get picketed. This is what free speech is about. You have a right to express your opinion, but others have a right to challenge that opinion. Opinions which are discriminatory, racist, sexist and homophobic, need to be challenged. If students are not doing this, then something's gone wrong with their education.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
There was more torture in my final lesson, guiding the blind patient. The class got blindfolded and had to make their way about the ward, and do various tasks. The following is the exercise that I devised for this.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
In a previous post I expressed my concern about the Eye Pavilion being on prime development land. Recently, someone mentioned that it's actually built in the back garden of Chalmers Hospital which was willed to the city by one George Chalmers, who died in 1836. This implied that the land had to be used for medical purposes, and Lothian Health Board wouldn't be able to sell it to redevelopers like they've done with the old RIE.
They didn't get it quite right. Chalmers Hospital is certainly named after George Chalmers, but it wasn't his property. He left money to the Faculty of Advocates for the purpose of building an infirmary. This indeed was built about forty years later, and lasted over a century until its move to Little France in 2002.
It seems that NHS Lothian do have the freedom to sell the site, since as long as an infirmary in Edinburgh still stands, the spirit and letter of George Chalmers bequest is being fulfilled.
Whether the Infirmary will still be standing in twenty years is open to question. The new RIE is funded by the Public (or is is Private) Finance Initiative - PFI. This is how the Government has got a number of hospitals built, without having to show the cost in the public finances. Basically, a private consortium builds the hospital, then charges the Health Trust rent to use it.
The location of the new RIE, called Little France, used to be the site of a caravan park, which used to get flooded regularly. There's a small river running right behind the hospital. They've diverted it with a couple of 90 degree bends. All it will take is a period of heavy rains after a few wet summers, and a fallen tree to jam in the corners, and the nurses and doctors will have to wear wellies to treat casualties.
Everybody in Edinburgh knows it's built on a flood plain. We're just waiting...
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Did you know that rods and cones are similar to fingernails? They're modified hairs that grow continuously and have to be trimmed regularly.
Here's another factoid. You've got about seven million cones - colour photoreceptors - but only 1% of them are actually in your fovea, where your central vision is focused.
Anyway, I'm working my three twelve-hour shifts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday this week, so I'll be unlikely to be posting again until Thursday.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
If you're the smallest, the tallest, if you do it all
If you're the fattest, the thinnest, if you really win
If you're the quickest, the slowest, if you really go
Then you're a RECORD BREAKER!
The Bad Astronomer posted about this, if you're wondering how I found out about it.
The Blogosphere now has its own mountain for climbing. How high will it go?
Friday, November 17, 2006
There was a road going south from Cramond, and twenty years ago, my first job after leaving college was as an archaeological site assistant, excavating a short section of that road. I found a couple of roman coins and a cow's skull.
Although the road itself, is long gone, the route has persisted. A few miles south, it becomes Morningside Road.
Now I know that New York has a posh area called Morningside Heights, but it doesn't hold a candle to our Morningside.
The area is the fabled home of the legendary Morningside Ladies. These delightful creatures think that sex is what coal comes in. Their feared greeting, when guests arrive, is: "You'll have hed your tea?", implying that if anyone should be so crass as to say no, requiring the hostess to be put to the expense and trouble of offering food and drink, they will be treated to an icy civility henceforth.
The third weel kent fact about Morningside Ladies, though it is one that is only whispered out of their earshot, is that they are "All fur coat and nae knickers." though this description is also often applied to the city of Edinburgh herself. Indeed one is the embodiment of the other.
In reality, Morningside is not the poshest part of Edinburgh. That honour goes to Barnton. What it does have is shops. Apart from Sainsbury, there are no chain stores. They're all individual shops, selling a wide range of goods - jewelry, artworks, clothing, clocks, toys. It's the best street for your Christmas shopping.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Jack Palance, who died this week, was, for many years, known to have owed his trademark looks to plastic surgery during the war. Now it turns out that this was a myth put out by the publicity machine, and his looks were due to his Ukrainian heritage, nothing more.
A duck's quack does echo, and Flobadob is not the sound of boys farting in the bath.
I'm beginning to wonder if any of the fascinating facts I've collected over the years are actually true, or is the real world so dull that urban legends are the only way to maintain interest. What will happen when programmes such as QI and Mythbusters have disposed of the last so-called fascinating fact? Will there be any mystery left?
I won't let it happen. Off the top of my head, to celebrate the premiere of Casino Royale, some James Bond related trivia.
Dr John Dee, the famous Elizabethan magician, worked for her secret service. His number? 007!
Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story called .007. It's like an early version of Thomas the Tank Engine, with talking engines.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Oh, and it's wholly inclusive of deaf children who are now likely to be at the centre of events, instead of on the periphery.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Ma wee spyug's deid
Ma wee spyug's deid
It wis a muckle pun' o' mince
Fell oot the freezer
Hit him yince
Atween the e'en o' his sweet heid
And noo he's deid.
Pair wee spyug
(Ah cried him Shug)
Sic a sad demise.
He scarcely hud the time tae wince
When yon big doad ae frozen mince
Cam hurtlin' fae the skies
And dealt wee Shug
That mortal slug
Richt atween the eyes
And sent him oan a wan wey trip
Tae Burdie Paradise.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
My wife and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon. We hired a gypsy caravan, drawn by an independently- minded horse called Molly, and spent a few days traveling round the Dingle peninsula.
On the Thursday, we camped in Annascaul, and took a bus ride into Dingle. We took a boat trip round Dingle Bay and saw Fungi the dolphin, then we went into a pub for lunch.
In the pub I saw a deaf couple signing a conversation. Now I had worked at the East of Scotland Society for the Deaf, where I picked up a bit of sign language, so I signed "Hi there."
Their faces lit up. In no time I was telling them with my hands that we had come over from Scotland for our honeymoon, and that we had parked our caravan and horse in Annascaul, and we were enjoying our holiday in Ireland, and so on.
After our meal, we waved goodbye, and spent the rest of the day in Dingle, ending up in the cinema, watching Phenomenon starring John Travolta.
When we came out, we found we had missed the last bus back to Annascaul so we had to get a taxi. As we were waiting, who should appear, but this couple, and they lived in Annascaul! They invited us to share a taxi with them, and insisted on paying the fare!
Learn sign language. It comes in handy.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
It wasn't such a good day for the lifts at work. Both of them stopped working this morning at the same time. We couldn't move patients between the ward and theatre. There were delays and cancellations. Typical Wednesday!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
It's my sister's birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday! The present's in the post.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
No, Ted has to come to terms with his gay yearnings, and do a St Paul-like conversion, to use his talents to push for gay marriage. That way he can find redemption.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Encourage everyone to have a solar panel on their roof, and a windmill in their garden.
Use the world's deserts as solar energy farms.
The more solar panels there are, the more surface area there is, to reflect sunlight away from the Earth and help cool the planet, thereby reducing the global warming. Of course, if there's too much reflection, there's a risk of triggering an ice age, so we might have to balance it with carbon emissions.
Why's no-one talking about the Gaia Hypothesis any more? A very good scientific test, is to see whether the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere triggers a reaction in the Biosphere to counteract its effects.
We should be looking at this global-warming crisis, not as a disaster, but as a learning opportunity - a crash course in planetary management. If we come through this, we will be masters of climate control - an essential skill if we intend to terraform other worlds.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Not many guisers tonight. We've bought a couple of bags of sweets, but so far only two parties of three.
I got a Halloween joke from one of them:
Q: Why is today a monster's favourite day?
A: Because it's Chews day!
Monday, October 30, 2006
I'm Scottish. The cultural costume for Scots men is the kilt. Now I don't have a kilt, and I haven't worn one since I was 14. But if society said they didn't want to see Scottish men wearing kilts, I would go out and get one, and wear it, just to show my solidarity with my fellow countrymen, and to annoy those who disapproved.
Disapproval of the niqab is turning it from a symbol of subjugation into a symbol of empowerment for muslim women.
Banning stuff stirs up the rebel in us all.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
It was also the scene of the most famous resurrection in Scottish history.
Maggie Dixon was found guilty of killing her child, and hanged in the Grassmarket. Her body was loaded into a coffin and transported out of the city. The wagonners stopped at the Sheep Heid for a quick hauf, and to their horror, watched as Maggie pushed back the coffin lid, climbed out, and staggered home. In those days (18th century), hanging was not yet a scientific art, so survival was possible. Because the sentence of the court had been carried out, Maggie was free. She lived the rest of her life as a local celebrity, and was nick-named Half-hingit Maggie.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Horologium is made up of a number of faint stars, the brightest being magnitude 3.85. Iota Horologii has a planet twice the mass of Jupiter, 0.91 AU from the star, orbiting in about 311 days. Now if it's got a large enough moon, orbiting far enough out to avoid the intense radiation, it could be within the star's habitation zone, and have liquid water on its surface, and possibly life.
This makes Horologium much more interesting, so my candidate now for most boring constellation is Caelum - the Chisel. It has no star brighter than 4th magnitude. It's got a Mira-type variable star (R Caeli), and that's about it.
It's also a neighbouring constellation to Horologium.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The idea behind this exhibition is that artists pass their work on to another artist who uses it as inspiration for their work. It's like the games Consequences and Chinese Whispers. It has produced a number of chains of artwork, where you can see how the ideas have been used and moulded by the artists. There are also some chains of sketches which had to be done in three minutes, and they are a fascinating insight into the artists' creative thought processes.
In the centre of the hall though is a wooden, interactive machine/sculpture. The idea being that you turn a wheel, which turns cogs and levers, and draws a design in a container of sand.
Well I had a go. I turned the wheel anticlockwise. The pulley went back. the wheel on top turned. The lever hit the pegs and reversed direction, moving the brushes in the sand drum in a different direction, then...
The bottom fell off.
It was broken.
It was a large wooden wheel with a plastic cable round it, to turn the sand drum which had fallen. Mind you, it was only held on by a single screw. A heavy thing like that? No wonder it fell! I went and found one of the staff and pointed it out, so I did the right thing. It looks like it'll be easily fixed, thank goodness. Now I know how the man who crashed into the Ming vase felt - shattered!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It's a simple system. Flogging or execution for all crimes. No need to keep criminals locked up in prisons for years at the public expense. Do you want to live in such a society?
I admit, it's about as extreme as you can get. It makes Sharia law look merciful. But don't ever say that it couldn't happen. This was the norm three thousand years ago. The Middle Ages weren't much better. We are capable of creating this kind of society. It just won't happen suddenly, that's all. To get from here to there requires a lot of small incremental steps, that get the population thinking that law and order based on biblical teachings is not such a bad idea. America has already gone some way down that road. We, fortunately, are much further behind.
Complacency and apathy are the tools that will help the theocrats gain momentum. There are already about a dozen religious channels on Sky, including Britain's very own Revelation TV. The evangelical churches are growing at the expense of the traditional churches, and they're against abortion, evolution and homosexuality.
Britain is nowhere near as religious as the USA, and the likelihood of it moving towards this theocratic mindset is, I admit it, extremely slim. But if America succumbs, then the outlook is bleak. We've seen how the government wants to maintain that special relationship with Washington. Would the pressure be on to adopt more christian-friendly policies?
Let's just say I'm concerned. I don't want us to sleepwalk into a second Commonwealth, so I'm going to shout about it as long as I've got access to the internet.
All I can do is spread the word.
Monday, October 23, 2006
6 may be an estimate, the people who run the site say it's a ballpark figure. It's also based on the 1990 census. My Book of Dallmans doesn't list any American Christophers. So I'm left with only the three I know about. (Three of eight? Sounds like a borg!)
My message to any of those missing Christophers out there is: Get yourselves noticed! Don't be anonymous!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
If you want to get an idea of what it would be like, read Tad Williams' Otherland series. It explores the concept of virtual reality, and downloading personalities. For another take, there's a humourous short story by Bob Shaw called Harold Wilson at the Cosmic Cocktail Tea Party, where the downloaded character is a right wing dictator, being kept online by his government. Unfortunately, he's become more interested in conquering virtual realms than running his real one.
Seeing virtual worlds through a plasma screen is a delight. Being part of them, would be an afterlife worth pursuing.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Most often, when asked, people reply "Church of Scotland" which I write down as 'C of S'. Some just say "protestant." Occasionally, someone will tell me they: "Don't really have a religion." For that I put down 'none.' I have hardly ever had someone describe themselves as atheist. Yet I suspect that many of those C of S's are just giving me the church they were christened or married in, which they haven't been to for years. Agnosticism seems to rule in Scotland. True believers always describe themselves as "Christians."
Nobody has ever objected to being asked their religion, and I would be overjoyed to hear someone reply "Jedi", or "Reformed Odinist"
The dearth of atheists troubles me. I feel it wouldn't take much to herd these soft agnostics back into the fold of more evangelical churches if the right charismatic preacher came along. The only reason most people don't bother with church-going is the boredom factor. One hour of a typical presbyterian service is the most mind-numbing experience you can have in a week.
The traditional churches are dwindling as their aging congregation expires. Evangelical churches, on the other hand are gaining momentum and young converts to a hard core message that is fertile ground for intolerance against their three big bugbears: evolution, abortion and homosexuality.
The allegiance of the soft agnostics is the prize, and there are so few atheists, and so many evangelicals. The Culture War rages in America, and the storm is coming to Britain.
atheists of Britain arise! Your country needs you.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
She's got a Starbucks theme to the event. I'm at the end of the menu under Irish Coffee. Ireland - Scotland? Close enough.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I enjoyed it. It was well put together. They've managed to splice footage of Bush and Cheney seamlessly into the film so that it looks and sounds like a real documentary. The date of this fictional assassination is 19th October 2007 - just over one year from now. It will be interesting to see what happens then. I think Bush should avoid Chicago on that date, just to be on the safe side. I don't agree with his policies, but I am opposed to anyone trying to assassinate him.
It was an interesting film, but because it is so obviously fiction, one is tempted to ask what the point of it was. Last year, I watched a similar type of film - a fictional documentary - about a plane collision over London. I didn't catch the start of the programme so I thought it was a genuine documentary about the risk of collision. When they started showing the pictures of burning wreckage, it felt very weird. I felt I was witnessing some alternative history that had somehow interfaced with my universe. Surely I would have remembered something as dramatic as a plane collision over London? I soon realised it was fiction, but with an important warning about the state of our airways. This was an accident that could happen.
I didn't get that feeling with this film. The risk of assassination is always there for US presidents, but they have a substantial security team whose job is to prevent it happening. The film touched on the consequences of Bush's assassination, and all I can say is I fear it would not be a good thing for America.
I may discuss this later once my readers in America have had a chance to see this film. It's definitely worth watching, and I give it three stars.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Creationists see themselves as doing God's work, which is getting everybody to worship Jesus as fervently as themselves. The Theory of Evolution is a major obstacle because it is logically incompatible with the Creation account in Genesis. Without Genesis, there is no Original Sin, therefore no need for the Crucifixion. This renders Christianity meaningless.
The creationists can't push their literal version of Genesis directly, because most people consider it a myth. Therefore, they must first sow the seeds of doubt by getting schoolchildren to question evolution by putting forward arguments that some biological structures are so complex, they couldn't have evolved naturally and therefore it's reasonable to assume they were designed. By whom? Oh...a creator.
If you press a creationist to define what he means by a creator, it becomes obvious that he's not talking about an Arisian*** or a Flying Spaghetti Monster. There's only one creator he wants you to know about, and that's the one written about in Genesis.
These (dis)Information packs need to be shot down in flames and banned from science classes. If they are included in Religious Education classes, they need to be ridiculed and scorned, as an example of the foolish things some people believe.
*The 'bowel' is implied.
**Sorry, couldn't resist.
***Literary reference to EE'Doc'Smith's Lensman books.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The problem with this from my point of view, is that just up the hill is the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, where I work. £10 million would come in very handy for the Lothian health trust...
Monday, October 09, 2006
I don't know much more about him, what his last name is, or what he looked like. He lived in San Francisco. Hopefully somebody will post an obituary on the site.
I'm sad he's dead. The Blogosphere is still in its infancy, and already a leading light has been extinguished. He'll never see how blogging matures and develops over the next few decades, or how GiFS fares. I hope it survives. It is a communal blog with a number of contributors. But Sean will be missed.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
In Greek mythology there is the Ogygian flood, whose survivors are Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. This flood, however, seems to date to a few generations before the main events of Greeks mythology such as the voyage of the Argonauts, the Theban wars, and of course, the Trojan war. A flood dating to 4,000 years previously is incompatible with Greek writings. A flood dating to 1628BC, on the other hand, is well within the timeframe. That's when Thera erupted according to ice cores excavated from the Greenland Ice Sheet. It caused a tsunami that devastated Crete, and drained then flooded the marshes of Northern Egypt, an event which may have been remembered as the parting of the waves in the Bible.
And what of Greece? The tsunami would have been as devastating to its coast as it was to Crete, and just as traumatic to the survivors as the Black Sea flooding was centuries before. And it has not gone unrecorded. My hypothesis is that the Ogygian flood of King Deucalion was the result of the Thera eruption, and not a distorted retelling of an earlier flood legend.
Two floods. Not one.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
So what has Mother Jones tagged me with?
Monday, October 02, 2006
And it comes less than a month after Disney's mock assassination of Clinton! (Which I avoided like the toxic candy floss it was.) This sounds way more(4) appealing. If I do manage to record and watch it, I'll review it for you.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
Are all things going wrong?
Wipe away that frown,
And listen to my song....
Raindrops on noses and whiskers all soggy,
Clothes ripped by roses on days dull and foggy
Soft wormy apples gone mouldy and bad
These are the things that make me sad.
Grumpy old beggars with snotty moustaches
Snowstorms that freeze up my hair and eyelashes
Brown paper envelopes, each with a bill
These are the things that make me ill.
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When the sailors curse
I simply remember that life is no good
And that makes me feel much worse.
Rickety wardrobes with pull-away handles
Slippery sand that seeps into my sandals
Motor-car engines that splutter and choke
These are the things that gie me the boak.
Clouds grey and sleeting on snip-snappy poodles
Pies with no meat in and green soggy noodles
School-dinner custard that's lumpy and thick
These are the things that make me sick.
When the toast falls
On the jam side
And the fat lady sings
I rattle my fist and I write out a list
Of my least favourite things.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Oh dear, it's a sad time for astrologers everywhere. They had managed to incorporate the subtle guidance of Pluto into their comprehensive system, and now it's all been taken away from them - woe, woe, thrice woe!
Do you think part of the reason the IAU decided to demote Pluto was to seriously piss off the astrologers? Sadly, probably not, but it must feel oh so good even so. Astronomers probably loathe the trine and square brigade as much as I do iridologists.
I've not seen any astrologers on TV recently talking about this. Maybe they're hoping for it to be forgotten quickly, so that they can go back to bilking the public with one less planet to work with.
Fat chance! Do you want to know how to wind up an astrologer now?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I'm having an interesting discussion over on Beep beep it's me, on two threads. One about the Exodus, and another about the Resurrection. Why not get over there now, and join in before she moves onto another topic. The comments section for both is getting quite long, people seem to be posting screeds (myself included), as opposed to the normal short pithy paragraphs.
How I wish I could get a comment thread this long on this blog. I'm sure it'll happen one day. I've only been going four months. It takes time to build up a readership, and I know I have you, my band of regulars. Knowing that there is an audience, gives me the strength to persevere.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Still, can't complain, I prefer doing it this way. I'm used to the long days now. The hours after teatime are invaluable for getting loose ends tied up. And I love all those days off.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
What about Britons being forced to spell things the American way? And Americans having to play rugby and cricket instead of football and baseball?
The purpose of nuclear weapons is to dissuade attack. If America tries to invade Iran, it would be a disaster of biblical proportions. What's needed is another Cold War in the Middle East, just to keep a lid on tensions until a new generation comes to power and diplomatic solutions have time to be worked towards.
Monday, September 18, 2006
The political set-ups of the new millennium are evolving. The Country as a unit of administration is slowly moving towards the Continental Region as a political/economic structure. China is the oldest by far, followed by Russia, India and the USA. Europe is coalescing fast. Pan-Islamiyya - the uniting of all the countries of the crescent - is as yet a far off dream, but is feasible, given the common languages and religion. A unified Latin America is even more feasible, given the dominance of Spanish (except in Brazil**)
Which brings us back to these two leaders. Imagine the strength of a Pan-Islamiyya/Pan-Latina alliance compared to the present Europe/USA alliance. Serious competition I think.
Anyway, in the wake of the Pope's verbal gaffe, these two leaders at least, are showing that it is possible for Muslims and Catholics to overcome the religious divide and work together. This can only be a good thing, right?
*We may have the beginnings of a Monty Python sketch here.
**But Portuguese is easily translated. Just change all the -cion suffixes to -cao***
***I haven't worked out how to put a squiggle**** over the o. Just pretend it's there.
****The squiggle probably has a name. I can't think of it at the moment.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
There are a lot of fine fantasy novels, but we had to wait for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, before we had a truly epic fantasy film. It wasn't the special effects that were the problem - they were good for the era - the actual plots were all a bit weak.
(Warning - plot spoilers ahead)
In Dragonslayer, Ralph Richardson plays a wizard who dies in the first act, returns to life in the final act only to do a suicide bombing on the dragon. In Willow, it is prophesied that the baby will bring about the destruction of the villianess, in fact it's Willow that does it. The baby is irrelevant. In fantasy fiction, prophesies should be iron-clad. They may not unfold as the characters expect, but the prophecy must be fulfilled to the letter. George Lucas has redeemed himself by incorporating the best example of a fictional prophecy - Anakin Skywalker bringing balance to the Force - in the Star Wars epic.
Which of these films is your favourite? My vote goes to Dragonslayer.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The only thing is, these two worlds have been Xena and Gabrielle for three years, and names have a habit of sticking. Who's to say that a planet can't have a proper name and a nickname? People do, objects do, why not worlds. There is a precedent: Arrakis and Dune!
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Not that it makes any difference to his Prime Ministerial ambitions. Barring any cock-ups of biblical proportions between now and when Mr Blair finally goes, Mr Brown will be our next Prime Minister. Whether he can win a fourth term for Labour is another matter entirely.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Congratulations to Sapient Fridge who was first with the answer.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
If you said Mauna Kea, you're getting higher. Everest is 8.848km above sea level, but Mauna Kea is over 9km from sea floor to summit. But it's still not the answer I'm looking for.
There is, in fact a mountain, who's summit is 2.1km higher than Everest's. And that mountain is...?
Tune in tomorrow to find out.
(Man, I love cliffhangers)
Monday, September 11, 2006
I didn't watch it again tonight. Instead I finally caught LA Confidential. Cool movie.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The climactic scene at the end of the first part - where the NSA boss slams the phone down on his agent, ensuring that Bin Laden goes free - didn't happen. Bill Clinton being too distracted by Monica Lewinsky to hunt down Bin Laden - didn't happen.
The film is a deliberate attempt to smear the Clinton administration before the November elections, and the BBC are party to this. All I ask is that you spread the word.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Guess what? We get to see the film before the Americans. It's being shown tonight (the 10th) on BBC 2, the day before they see it. I hope the BBC realise that they're opening themselves to some serious legal sanctions. The film is defamatory, and there are laws against that sort of thing.
Friday, September 08, 2006
All I hope is, that this is the last time they restructure the NHS wage structure, until after I retire, anyway, and that's a couple of decades away. It's been a major hassle. I don't think anyone foresaw how complicated an operation it was going to be. I feel the problem is one of trust. We have none! We feel the Government is out to shaft us with weasel words. Unless we nail them down with cast-iron guarantees, they'll wriggle out of any commitment, and sell us down the river. (How many mixed metaphors in that?) Last year's heckling of the Health Secretary, what's-her-face, at the RCN conference was merely a public manifestation of our mood.
How good a deal is AfC, if the doctors and senior managers don't want to be involved, anyway?
Thursday, September 07, 2006
We went to the Historic Docks at Portsmouth, and saw the Mary Rose, the Warrior and Victory. It was interesting seeing the development of naval warships from Tudor times to the Victorian era.
If you were in Cambridge last weekend and saw or heard fireworks, we were right there, celebrating a family birthday.
I am now returned, refreshed and respirited (12-year old malt whisky) and ready to blog!
Thursday, August 31, 2006
OK, I really am off now on my hols. See you next week!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Ebony, road, hut, him, Mary, amen, bane, bint, puss, nature, bee, cow, emir.
Nwt is town backwards. The dead are incarcerated in a carcet (coffin), Nob is gold, which is a noble metal. The chem in chemistry and alchemy comes from the name for ancient Egypt which was Khemet. And the word for beer is Heneket, which is not that far removed from Heineken.
Friday, August 25, 2006
It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. This enables us to assimilate you into the correct banding for your perceived status. We will recognise only three categories of attire:
a. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we may assume that you are doing well financially and therefore do not require a high banding.
b. If we see you wearing clothes by George or M&S that are neither ostentatious nor poor quality (Classification: Just right), you are right where you needed to be and do not require a higher banding.
c. If we see you dressed poorly, you need to manage your money better, so that you may buy clothes by George or M&S and move into category b. which as stated does not require a higher banding.
We will no longer accept a doctor's line as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.
Each NHS employee will be entitled to 104 personal days per standard calendar year. These are known as Saturday and Sunday.
Each NHS employee will be entitled to 260 stress days per standard calendar year. These are known as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
To ensure Government targets are achieved, savings will be made in the amount of time NHS employees spend in the toilet. A strict three-minute time limit will be observed. At the completion of this three-minute period, if the cubicle has not been vacated, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, and the cubicle door will spring open, triggering a high megapixel digital camera. After a second offence, both pictures will be posted on the NHS website in the Chronic Offenders' Bogroll.
Anyone pictured smiling at the camera will be sectioned under the NHS mental health policy.
Thank you for your loyalty to the NHS. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. In order to facilitate this, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternations, input, output and throughput should be directed elsewhere.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Still, all is not lost; Pluto now becomes the first, and nominative, member of the class of objects known as Plutonian bodies. And there's already more of them than there are planets.
The status of Pluto is really a fuss over semantics. It doesn't change in the slightest the structure of the Solar System. We still need to send a probe to study it. It's still by far the closest Kuiper belt object. It can tell us a lot about the formation of our System and its workings.
And now the textbooks will have to be rewritten.
The mosque in Edinburgh serves lunches. For a small charge, you can partake of some tasty Indian cooking in the middle of the day, if you've been shopping. If you don't have the good fortune to live in Edinburgh, why not check out what the mosque in your area is doing for the community, and go along. The only way to break down barriers is for you to do something.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Now I actually have in my possession Ophthalmic Nursing by P.Garland which was published in 1966. It has a whole section on The application of leeches.
'One is straight from the horror films: for acute glaucoma, relief was given by applying leeches to the eyeball.'
The leech should actually be applied to the orbital ridge, and should be prevented from accidentally biting on the eyeball! The leech takes between 20 minutes to an hour to feed. They should never be pulled off:
'Leeching may be ordered for the relief of pain and congestion in cases of acute glaucoma and acute iritis. It is difficult to assess the efficacy as the treatment is so often combined with other measures, but patients with recurring attacks often welcome the apparently unpleasant application.'
'A little salt put around the spot where they are attached will cause them to vomit and so lose their hold.'Explanation to the patient should be sensitively timed:
'He should not be told until the tray is brought to the bedside, and the jar of leeches will be kept out of his sight and also that of other patients.'There's even a list of equipment:
'Leeches, Mackintosh cape, test tube plugged with wool, dissecting forceps to handle the leech, unscented soap and a small bowl of water, sweetened milk, salt and teaspoon, Carbolic 1 in 20 in a kidney tray, receiver, swabs, square of lint, eye pad, small pressure pad, large wool dressing, two inch bandage, adhesive strapping.And let's not forget who'll be carrying out this procedure:
The top pillow should be protected by a jaconet pillow case.'
'The inexperienced nurse may feel apprehensive of handling a leech.'