Yesterday I went to Imperial College to see two talk / roadshow things. The first was the Ig Nobel roadshow which lasted about two hours and had talks from the chap who runs the Ig Nobel awards and also from four scientists who had won the prize. The Ig Nobels are awarded for science that:
makes you laugh, then makes you think
It was a lovely couple of hours hearing about the endeavours of scientists from around the world trying to make the world a better place.
I laughed and smirked and reveled in the atmosphere of nerdery and geekiness. You can watch it below:
After an intermission of a couple of hours there was the London round of BAHFest. The Bad Ad-hoc Hypothesis Festival. I went last year and enjoyed it immensely. I really liked it again this time around. The ideas were delightful and thoroughly entertaining. Watch it now:
Hopefully my calendar will allow me to go next year. Such a delightful event.
Over the weekend I went to a chapel communion service and I did this voluntarily. I was away at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre and while there one of the members of staff was going to deliver the chapel service. I went to the chapel service to support her and be a part of her experience. There is also the very slight possibility that one of these services might persuade me a little to partake in religion. It’s not happened yet and perhaps I secretly want this. I am, very slightly, jealous of those who have such faith, such comforting thoughts about the world.
As it turned out my friend couldn’t deliver the service because there are rules about who can touch certain parts of church paraphernalia and I guess you have to be a certain rank within the church before you are allowed to commit certain acts. I find it all rather confusing and very amusing. I think that every church has these man-made rules to govern who can do what within their made up system of belief. Everyone seems to take this very seriously.
I was once at Amport House and someone mentioned that although gay priests are allowed your vicar licence has to be approved by the local bishop and if that bishop is homophobic then you lose your licence to priest if you come out to the church. That seems utterly ridiculous that your ability to church is dependent on what your human boss thinks. But then again, the idea that a committee of humans can overturn the common ideals of a religion within a committee and change a religion’s view on a particular issue amuses me greatly.
The sermon on Sunday was interesting. The padre [I honestly don’t understand the terms for vicar/priest etc] spoke about Valentine’s Day and the love that we receive from partners on that day. He then linked this into the love that Jesus gave to us and also the love that God gives us. There was general chatter about two holy men who gave their lives for strangers. One of them was at Auschwitz and he sacrificed his life for another man. The other man went on to live to an old age and had many children. The other priest was a man who got entangled in another soldiers parachute on D-Day. The priest cut himself free to fall to his death and the other soldier went on to do his job. These stories were interesting and not ones I had heard before. While they showed a love for the stranger I do think they missed the point that they occurred within a time when there was great evil on the Earth and millions were dying in concentration camps and in battle. But religious people gloss over the problem of evil.
Within the sermon the padre talked about a passage from John. He mentioned words that Jesus said:
[side point: Jesus didn’t say these things. This was written about thirty years after Jesus died. Go back and think about any conversation, important or not, from thirty years ago and try to be convinced about how accurate you are. It amuses me just how much study is made from the EXACT words in the bible when it’s all translations and copying errors]
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Hey, it’s only my way or no way. You must do as I say or you won’t get to heaven. Do as I say you muthafuckers because I will damn you if you don’t follow my exact words.
“But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
This part was read out and the message was meant to be that if you love Jesus you will get to heaven. My problem is the bit IN THEIR OWN BOOK which clearly shows signs of an abusive relationship. This part wasn’t talked about in the sermon and it’s interesting the bits of their own book they are willing to gloss over. You see that little bit in there which is along the lines of:
Follow my rules or else. Follow my rules and I will love you. Don’t follow my rules and you are damned to everlasting hell.
Do as I say or you will be burnt and suffer in indescribable pain forever. This section of the reading was glossed over in the sermon but it screamed in my head and really bothered me. If christians take this book so seriously and believe it is the word of god then why don’t they see these parts. The parts that require complete submission or else. They don’t see them because they are either glossed over or they think it is a good thing. That passage has really bothered me for a few days now.
Follow my rules or get fucked.
It’s not like following the laws of the road or those at work. This is referring to eternal damnation and the only path to heaven is through following the rules of Jesus. Well, screw that. This book has been used to justify hatred and murder for the last two thousand years and probably will be used for another millennia. I do hope that one day we grow out of following a book written by men about two thousand years ago which is demonstrably wrong about so much.
You don’t need Jesus to understand that being nice to people is the best way to go. You don’t need Jesus to believe that treating people as you would wish to be treated is a good maxim for life. These things are self evident and don’t require a god or his naughty boy. It’s easy to use the principle of BE NICE to inform all your choices and decisions. If only more people realised you don’t need god [or the threat of hell] to be good.
On a bit of a whim I decided to get ordained in the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I think this will allow to undertake certain duties within the Church. I really do feel as though I have been touched by His noodly appendage.
I’m looking forward to undertaking my new duties as part of this Church. I’ve owned a copy of the Gospel for a long time.
I’ve had a FSM on my car for a while because those stupid fish really annoy me. I’m not sure how many people understand the concept of the Church but maybe they should. I’m always amused when people say “but that’s not a real religion” and my response is “what’s a real religion and how do you know?”.
I haven’t yet decided to go full Pastafarian but I might. I probably need to ask someone to get me a metal colander as a gift though.
A while back I looked at a BBC News page about the Great Wall Of China. Actually it’s not a news item, it’s more a magazine piece with no bearing on the current world. You tend to see lots of those these days. Anyway back to the point. In our current civilisation we have all these marvellous cultural treasures dotted around the world:
Great Wall Of China
We, as a modern “sophisticated” tribe, look at these buildings in wonder and awe. We think they are entirely fascinating. But I suggest a change to this. Most ancient economies and quite a few modern economies and powerful nations were built on slavery. They were built on possession of humans and treating humans like shit.
These buildings and modern economies should have some sort of statistic applied to them to reflect the pain and cost of human misery that went into their creation.
The Great Wall Of China
20% of the country’s population was forced to build it. Many people died during its construction, due to the heavy work, a short time deadline and difficult conditions
The first result on the web doesn’t even mention numbers. The next result:
While the great wall was in construction over 1 million people died in the making of the wall
There seems to be a great number of results in a search that also use the “more than 1 million” people died making the Great Wall. Some sites don’t mention slaves some do. Some sites mention “population forced to . . . .”, well that sounds like slavery to me. Add into all this the human misery associated with such a large scale project and relocation and the Wall seems an awful lot less glamorous and even fucking ugly. Perhaps it should be renamed the Great Wall Of Death.
I have read through a number of pages and I can only find reference to 10,000 workers who may or may not have been slaves. Whether there were deaths or how many there were due to construction is unknown. Records weren’t kept. I suspect that industrial working practices weren’t that great so deaths would probably have been common. We should rename them The Great Pyramids Of Oppression.
This monument was honestly included as a giggle. Although impressive it’s not as impressive as the others in terms of age, size and deaths. This is another artefact for which deaths in production can’t easily be counted. These are to be renamed the Stones Of Speculation.
An estimated 100,000 prisoners were bought back to Rome as slaves after the Jewish War. Vespasian had a limitless work force. In the building of the Colosseum the slaves undertook the manual labor such as working in the quarries at Tivoli where the travertine was quarried.
There are no references to numbers of deaths or the emotional cost and general distress to the workers. Obviously the Colosseum is now considered a magnificent monument to the Roman Empire but the human cost in creating this probably doesn’t justify the rapture we hold it in now. Let’s rename this building the Arena Of Death.
That wondrous white stone mausoleum in India was built within written historic times and there is plenty known about its construction. But there’s not a lot on the Wikipedia page about how many workers there were and how many died. There’s a single answer on Yahoo which states 22,000 people worked on the building and thousands perished. This sounds within the levels of plausibility. We could legitimately rename this one Monument To Sadness.
This city in Central America has many buildings and is impressive and a symbol that should ruin the natural superiority that the Europeans believe they have. I can’t find any details on people dying while it was in production or who built it, but apparently it was unlikely to be slaves. The city was used by the europeans to collect slaves though. This place should be known as External Factors Will Kill Your Empire.
These great endeavours of human achievement probably wouldn’t have existed if those in charge at the time had given a shit about the welfare of the workers. It’s pretty similar to these days where the little person has so much to overcome in the face of the repression of their rights.
So people fully understand the place these monuments have in our society they should all be forced to have numbers after their names showing the human cost. These numbers should be placed after everything so we cna get a true measure of what our society does.
Firstly: We’ve had plenty of warning that there was going to be snow. It wasn’t a surprise.
Secondly: People should have been prepared for the roads to become bad and for transport to be cancelled. BECAUSE WE HAD WARNING.
But, why doesn’t anything work when it snows?
Because you don’t spend LOADS of money on services that are going to sit idle for 360/365 days of the year. If you want everything to work “just fine” when there’s a lot of snow then bloody well pay for it. It will cost a lot of money. It just doesn’t make economical sense.
Hopefully, many services have plans for getting through the snow. Hospitals and emergency services are important and I somewhat suspect that they HAVE plans. Being forewarned about the snow means those plans can be enacted.
Mathematics is used everywhere from telling us whether a drug’s effects are significant to calculating routes in satellite navigation devices. It also exists in the abstract, within the human mind and without practical use.
When will I use this mathematics I am learning?
In some ways if you feel the need to ask this question then you probably won’t. Arithmetic and basic number work will suffice for you.
However, we learn these things because they expand our understanding of the universe, because mathematics is a challenge and because we should learn for learning’s sake not because we are expected to. We learn for ourselves.
If you plan on becoming a scientist or engineer or similar then mathematics will be the language of your every minute’s work.
If you want more detailed examples and discussion about why there is mathematics then click here.
Last night after work was complete I headed to Rochester Cineworld cinema with trepidation. I note that the tide was high as I drove along Chariot Way. I had booked in to see Blade Runner 2049. I knew it was a long film and I knew that a friend had seen it and loved it. Would I agree? I needed some food and now because of this I chose nachos. Blade Runner was such a gorgeous beautiful film of my teenage years and holds so much sway with my heart that this film could ruin it. I was nervous.
As is usual I rated the film on the IMDB database and tweeted the result.
I loved this film. It actually worked very well with the original film. If you aren’t sure what sequels can do for a franchise then just understand that I care not for Star Wars after episodes 1-3 and 7. I forced myself to stop being bothered by them.
There’s a lot I could write but in essence I don’t want to spoil this film for anyone. Let me just say that the look, feel, sound, atmosphere and smell of this film is similar to the first. It is a gorgeous piece of film. It all works. The length of the film is entirely justified. I loved it.
I don’t know how Jo got from San Diego back to his apartment.
I have become a vegetarian [nominally]. This decision took about a half a year from first thoughts about it to actually doing something about it. So first I’ll explain my reasons and then the process.
Firstly, I’m not that fussed about the conditions in which animals are kept or treated. If you want mass production to feed the human race then you have to accept that it’ll be done at the cheapest. While the conditions would probably affect me if I was to see them, it is poor regulation and market forces that has made all this possible. You don’t become vegetarian to stop poor treatment of animals, you become a politician or farmer.
I don’t have any issues with eating meat because animals might have souls or are sentient. Once it’s dead it’s dead and the remains may as well be eaten or used for the common good.
My reasons are split roughly between health reasons, feeding the world and environmental reasons. Cutting out mammal meat is a good thing to do for health reasons. Now, there’s no real reason to go in to details but at one point I had high cholesterol and although I thought my diet was largely healthy looking at advice certainly made me think about giving up meat. That was March time this year and giving up meat germinated in my mind.
It seems largely strange to me that I can go to the supermarket and buy pretty much any amount of food and whatever type of food that I want. I can even buy some to purposefully throw away. And yet, too many people in this world go without food, or are severely ill from not enough food. This is fucking disgusting. We can produce enough food to feed the current population of this planet but we don’t have a global distribution system. Except, we can globally move food around to get to my supermarket but we don’t care about those poor fuckers dying or malnourished.
If we transferred the food we grow to feed animals to feeding humans we could easily support everyone on this planet with plenty spare. We use field space for animal feed. That just seems crazy to me. Also, the field space used for tobacco is a disgrace.
The production of animals for food has a huge CO2 impact. We use / produce more CO2 for meat production than we do for just growing vegetables and corn. It would be very easy to argue that it’s immoral to continue to do this given the effect that CO2 has on our delicate planet. Now my argument is seeming a little vague because as I said earlier if I wanted to change the world I should become a politician or a farmer. I guess I like to think I’m doing my little bit. Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is going to fuck this planet over. I have zero confidence politicians will do anything about it until it is way too late.
Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars – The Guardian
Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food – New Scientist
The age-and-sex-adjusted mean GHG emissions in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per day (kgCO2e/day) were 7.19 for high meat-eaters ( > = 100 g/d), 5.63 for medium meat-eaters (50-99 g/d), 4.67 for low meat-eaters ( < 50 g/d), 3.91 for fish-eaters, 3.81 for vegetarians and 2.89 for vegans. – Dietary greenhouse gas emissions
So, my reasons are colonic health and greenhouse gases. I have called this Nominally because while I have given up meat, if there is no other alternative I would eat some. I also had to eat all the meat in my freezer after I made the decision. That took about six weeks of occasional meals. My decision was made after returning from the M’era Luna festival in the middle of August.
I have had two moments where I just forgot! One day I went to the cinema after a run and my plan was to have a hot dog in the auditorium. I was queuing when it dawned on my I was vegetarian and I couldn’t have a hot dog. Well, my reader, bollocks to that. I ate two. The next “slip” was a week ago when a work friend brought in a pork pie to school and I just cut some and ate it. It took about five hours before I realised that I had eaten meat, when I kinda don’t. Oh well.
I don’t expect friends or people to make extra effort for me. If I go somewhere and there’s no alternative then I’ll eat meat. I’m not that fussed. It’s more a thing just for me.
One further, minor reason, would be that when going to music festivals it is best to spend as little time as possible in the portaloo. They tend to be smelly, dirty and quite horrific. A vegetarian diet over the course of the weekend contributes to reducing time spent in the cubicle. Eating meat extends the sitting time required.
I had a leaflet put through the door a few days ago. Normally these are put straight into the round filing cabinet because I already know who I am voting for but this one struck me as something to read.
This leaflet was like bait being dangled in front of me. So, let’s see what these “christian” people believe are christian values and how they want to treat people.
John Gibson wants to give christians a voice in parliament. Well, that’s interesting. They already have Bishops in the house of lords and the current Prime Minister [hopefully for not much longer] is a “committed” christian, the daughter of a vicar. The number of crusty MPs who will gladly go to church and say they are christian is more than those willing to stand up and say “what a load of bollocks”. There’s this idea that a person who believes in god is more righteous and true than someone who doesn’t. That idea is bollocks.
The Christian People’s Alliance has “true Christian values”. I’m not entirely sure what true christian values are. Much like there is no true Scotsman there are no true christians. This is similar to the how English do you have to be to be English. It’s a logical fallacy and you can’t define that particular thing at all.
If your rules come from the bible then what about all the shit rules that mean you can rape your slaves and beat your wife. What about ownership of women and people? You can’t cherry pick all the bits that fit your current view of life out of the bible. Oh, yes, you can and do. Let’s quote mine the little bits of the bible we want our church to follow.
If your argument is that we don’t pick the slaves bit of the bible anymore because we recognise it doesn’t work in our society then you have lost EVERY argument for any of your pathetic rules.
Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
If you then want to say that you only follow the new testament then again you are cherry picking and you are pathetic.
Marriage As God Intended
What they mean here is that marriage should be forever. Let’s keep all those unhappy people stuck with each other for all eternity. They also mean that marriage should be between a man and a woman. They don’t recognise same sex relationships. They don’t want people who love each other to be able to get married and promise their love to each other. They want to exclude forms of relationship that don’t meet their stupid beliefs [much like the current Prime Minister]. There are detailed policies to force unhappy couples to stay together. What if the husband beats the wife? What if the husband is a thief?
Why can’t people who love each other get married and those who decide they are happier apart leave each other?
All Life Matters
Of course it does. But that doesn’t mean we can make our own choices about our bodies. We are autonomous creatures. Women can choose when they want to have children and people should be allowed to die if that is what they want.
So they believe life begins at conception [why not fertilisation?] and then ends when you NATURALLY die. Does this mean we should accept all disease? Are doctors doing the bidding of god? Who decides when natural death is happening? Should we have defibrillators in public places? What about all the clusters of eggs flushed down the loo when something goes wrong after conception?
Care For The Poor
They don’t want anyone sleeping rough. That’s a good thing. But they won’t give a bed to those on drugs or drink. What the fuck. This is a classic. If you aren’t willing to help people who have alcohol or drug problems then how christian are you? There are probably very good reasons these people rely on drugs or alcohol. But no, fuck ’em. It’s their own fault and we won’t help people who can’t help themselves. How christian is that?
Support Persecuted Christians
It’s not just christians persecuted in Pakistan. Atheists are being murdered out there, and in Saudi Arabia, and in loads of other countries. Perhaps this party should promise to remove persecution entirely. But, no. That doesn’t support their narrative that christians are persecuted and should be protected. It doesn’t help their cause. Be nice to people as long as they are like us.
I tried to see the CPA website but it wouldn’t load.
John Gibson’s website loaded fine and it has a rainbow-like pattern on the homepage.
Will I vote for these preachers? No.
Do I think they are hate preaching wankers? Yes.
Do I think they have true christian values? No.