Thursday, 28 April 2016

The deadening spirit of secular materialism

I read the following article:

The Reasonableness of Religious Belief

I emphatically agree with just about everything she says!  Especially interesting is when she says:

I myself believe that the most epic spiritual battle of our time is . . . with the deadening spirit of secular materialism, which cloaks itself in the guise of reason and enlightenment, and ultimately consumes all its children into a black pit of nothingness.

 She sounds like me after a few drinks! I agree with her though, and I also agree that it is not hyperbolic.

At infants

I remember when I was in the infants (about 5 or 6 years old) the teacher asking me to work out something or other (can't remember what). I kept saying I can't. I can't do it! She said there's no such word as can't! So I replied I cannot do it. The look of exasperation on her face was a picture! But I didn't understand why at the time and for some time afterwards I never used the word "can't" but said cannot instead.

Sunday, 17 April 2016


 John Lanchester on sugar as the new tobacco, from earlier this year from this article:

‘Eighty per cent of all foods in British supermarkets contain added sugars. Once you start looking at sugar content you find yourself again and again recoiling in horror. My personal unfavourite is Sainsbury’s “American-style mustard”, which clocks up an astounding 16.8 per cent sugar. Well, OK, I thought, after my first encounter with that horror, but this is really the fault of the American mustard they’re trying to emulate. Not so. French’s mustard, immediately next to Sainsbury’s concoction on the supermarket shelf, is a mere 0.9 per cent sugar. It contains no added sugar at all. Sainsbury’s mustard is 19 times more sugary than the thing it’s emulating.’

80% of all foods in British supermarkets contain added sugars. But most people say it's the fault of the individual that they get obese and get diabetes since they choose what to put in their mouths. So we should all just buy the 20% of food which hasn't had any sugar added?  I submit that this is completely unrealistic. For a kick off, even if people read the ingredients (which are always in very small writing), the different types of sugar come under a variety of names. And the sugar laden foods tend to always be available and on apparent special offers. And they generally taste nicer.

If a food is widely available, cheap, and nice, then inevitably many people will buy it. Blaming the individual is essentially to ignore human nature. We can't expect human nature to change to ignore the environment, we have to change the environment to accommodate human nature. In short this 80% figure has to be drastically reduced, or the diabesity epidemic will continue.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Materializer

The Materializer was completed.

Ned Quinn stood back, wiped his hands, and admired the
huge bank of dials, lights and switches. Several years and
many fortunes had gone into this project. Finally it was ready.
Ned placed the metal skullcap on his head and plugged the
wires into the control panel. He turned the switch to ON and

`£20 note.'

There was a whirring sound. In the Receiver a piece of paper
appeared. Ned inspected it. Real.

`Martini,' he said.

A whirring sound. A puddle formed in the Receiver. Ned
cursed silently. He had a lot to learn..

`A bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale,' he said.

The whirring sound was followed by the appearance of the
familiar brown bottle. Ned tasted the contents and grinned.
Chuckling, he experimented further.

Ned enlarged the Receiver and prepared for his greatest
experiment. He switched on the Materializer, took a deep
breath and said,


The whirring sound swelled and faded. In the Receiver stood
a lovely girl. She was naked. Ned had not asked for clothing.
She had freckles, a brace and pigtails. She was eight years old.

‘Hell!’ said Quinn.


The fireman found two charred skeletons in the smouldering

(unknown author)

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Man by the window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band -he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Thursday, 7 April 2016

An Aristotelian Proof of the Existence of God

I just watched this lecture.  It was excellent!  Whether I agree with it will take a lot of careful thought.  But an objection such as "what caused God" will not suffice!

England’s 2,800-mile Coast Path to open in 2020


England’s 2,800-mile Coast Path to open in 2020
For a small country like Britain, the idea of claiming one of the longest footpaths in the world sounds a little ambitious. But that’s what we’re up to with the creation of the England Coast Path, and the proposed completion date of 2020 is not too far away

That's excellent!

Below a photograph that is part of the established South West Coast Path in Exmoor, north Devon

Modern Life

Just read the following article:

Depression Is a Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key to the Cure

Modern life can be a perpetual debilitating state of anxiety. Hunter-gatherers and the "stress" they deal with is of a different nature to the stress that we often feel.  Any "stress" hunter-gathers felt would presumably have been short lived.  Escaping from a predator might have short term stress, but then there's the thrill of escaping from such a predator, relying upon others to save your life, and you saving other peoples' lives in your turn. It's living life in the raw and all the thrill that entails.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Lack of exercise in the UK

Apparently in the UK (where I live) 48 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men are too unfit to run for a bus. And 47 per cent of women felt they could run up to just half a mile, while one in five said they could only manage 100 metres.

From here:

The BHF called the figures 'worrying', warning heart and circulatory disease affects around seven million people in the UK and is responsible for around 155,000 deaths each year - an average of one person every three minutes.
It's not worrying, on the contrary, it's good news.

The figures for circulatory disease are a given. They exist for the lifestyles we have at the present moment. So, if we are to believe these figures, this includes many people who do little or no exercise. This would seem to suggest if most people attempt a moderate amount of exercise these figures might reduce.

On the other hand, if these figures existed despite most people doing moderate amounts of exercise, this would be more of a puzzle and the solution would be more complex.

The charity has launched a new fundraising campaign called MyMarathon, which urges the public to run the marathon distance of 26.2 miles over the course of a month.
That's just about a mile a day, which is totally unrealistic. People will just not do any exercise at all rather than do that. More realistic advice would be to run 0.5 miles (~1km) once every 5 days or so. People might keep that up over the long term.

Twitter is a waste of my time

I created a Twitter account a fair few years ago, but it's only in the past 5 weeks or so I've started to use it.  I hate the 280 ch...