Thursday, 28 February 2013

It Doesn't Matter Any More

Yestern was of course Wednesday, meaning that only the minimum amount of time was available to make this video:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/eE6tg .  One thing we can all be sure of is that consciousness exists.  The subjective qualities of individual experiences are referred to as "qualia", as in Thomas Nagel's famous "what is it like to be a bat?" essay.

Since it appears to be impossible to account for qualia in terms of behaviourism, physicalism or even functionalism, i choose to adopt panpsychism.  This is the belief that all matter, or even the whole world, is in some way conscious.  It is similar to the idea that everything is alive, known as hylozoism.  The word "panpsychism" is from the Greek words "pan" - everything, and "psyche" - soul or mind, in other words consciousness.

I would explain the way it works by analogy with magnetism.  All charged particles have a magnetic field but only certain arrangements of matter are magnetic in the conventional sense, because of the structure of those arrangements.  Rare earth magnets sometimes contain no iron at all, but can be magnetic, for example.  Similarly, any arrangement of matter is conscious, but few can actually exhibit consciousness.

Suppose there is a robot which behaves exactly like a human being but is completely electronic, or for that matter positronic or clockwork.  Simply denying that it is conscious would come across as mere prejudice rather than a rational judgement, like saying that women have no souls while men have.  This is because that arrangement gives it the opportunity to exhibit its consciousness.

I also hint in this at my basic ontology, which is to assume ethics first and allow metaphysics to proceed from that.  Since i used to be vegan, i acquired a remarkably uncluttered perspective on the nature of consciousness where i had no need to rationalise the killing of non-human animals.  This is the conclusion that i came to as a result - all reality is conscious.

Finally, the question of vitalism and what counts as fundamental science arises.  Whereas we tend to see physics as fundamental, i see no real reason not to suppose that some form of biology could be the basic science from which all other natural science could be derived.


 This proved to be a very unpopular video.  By 7 pm last night it had had just two views.  I must say i'm not terribly surprised but it's still disappointing.

In the meantime, there's a weird phenomenon going on with the views.  Although there was a dip and the recent videos have been unpopular, views have increased in the last few days in spite of unpopular videos.  I have turned automatic playback on at the channel page, but this doesn't explain it as the featured video only had two views.

Today's video, in the meantime, is here:

Advice on preventing hair loss and restoring hair growth, including how to make your own shampoo to prevent hair loss.  Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/7Tccr

Note that this is quite a big subject to cover in five and a half minutes and i've had to simplify and omit quite a lot of information - for instance, i haven't mentioned autoimmune hair loss or scalp damage from hair treatment, or even traction alopecia.

Nonetheless:  there are two main types of hair loss:  male pattern baldness and diffuse hair loss.  Both can occur together of course.  Male pattern baldness involves a receding hairline and eventually only a small "coronet" of hair at the back or not even that, which is how my uncles and grandfather all ended up quite early on.  This is due to testosterone reducing circulation to the scalp and can therefore be counteracted by shampoos containing topical circulatory stimulants such as rosemary oil.  By contrast, diffuse hair loss is often stress-related and requires a systemic approach involving stress management and the use of sedative nervines such as valerian, chamomile and betony.  There are also dietary factors, particularly iron and B vitamins.  Hypothyroidism is another cause of diffuse hair loss and can be assessed by measuring how long it takes to swallow a mouthful of water.

This is a very simple recipe for hair loss shampoo.  If you want to avoid SLS (sodium laureth sulfate), you will either need to acquire shampoo or shampoo base without any, which can be difficult, or make your own, which means you will need both to remove the glycerine and any excess oil as well as balancing the pH using mild acids such as vinegar or lime juice.  Or, you can just go and buy some shampoo.

It's really very simple.  All you need to do is measure out a quantity of shampoo base (500 ml here), add 2% rosemary essential oil, which i pour in half way through to help with mixing, then stir thoroughly and pour into a plastic bottle.  Then, just use it normally.

You can use the same recipe to make headlouse shampoo (with other oils) or anti-dandruff.


As it happens, there's currently a promoted hair loss video too with almost six million views.  It advertises what seems to be a product which colours the scalp.  The difference between that approach and mine is of course that mine actually leads to new hair growth and slows down hair loss.

I would've preferred to put more in this video as it feels quite sketchy and dumbed down, but even as it stands it's over five minutes long and it's a kind of "how to" video rather than "all about hair loss", so that's where it stands.

A couple more videos in the pipeline, one almost literally, are:  urinalysis and one i thought of yesterday - "The Adsense Mirage".

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Working For The Yankee Dollar

First of all, let's get this over with:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/B70d3 . A follow-up to yestern's video on whether Homo sapiens is arrogant, which is here: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75ZFijbokEM .  To see Liz's blog post on this, go here:  http://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/well-are-we/

Philosophy In Pubs (PiPs):  http://www.philosophyinpubs.org.uk/

Right, that was a bit of a linkfest!

This is a summary of my thoughts after last night's discussion on this topic.  My main points here are as follows:

In terms of our importance to the biosphere, we are probably more important than giant pandas but less important than saprophytes, detritovores or marine algae because if giant pandas disappeared, it seems there would be very little difference to the ecosystem, but if marine algae disappeared there would be no aerobic organisms left after about three or four decades.  If we disappeared, there would be a geologically short period of instability followed by business as usual for Planet Earth.

We also had a go at defining arrogance in this context.  For instance, does it involve the assumption of the right to use resources non-renewably or without regard for the well-being of other species?  That would in any case be reckless or imprudent if not arrogant.  Another element is not feeling the need to account for or excuse one's behaviour - i couldn't do very much with that thought because it has a distracting tendency to abut on a lot of other attitudes which have no connection with arrogance.

Valuing an in-group more than an out-group, on the other hand, has quite a lot of mileage as a concept.  This means we may be speciesist along the lines suggested by the philosopher Peter Singer - we unfairly prefer our own species to others.  There may of course be rational arguments for preferring a particular species though, for instance inter-subjectivity, although such inter-subjectivity may not be equally extensive in all human communities.  Another, related phenomenon is moral agency.

There is also a sense in which the humble are arrogant.  They may have a world view which means they regard themselves as in some way superior to the rest of the human race.  For instance, leaving the rat race might lead to a humble social position but also a sense of moral superiority.

Finally, there's the question of religious positions as humble or arrogant.  I regard true religion as humble but many ex-Christian atheists would definitely say the reverse.


This is the "after" video to yesterday's "before" video.

Lapsing into the personal for a change, i'm feeling discouraged and have very little idea why. I gave up editing yesterday's second video halfway through and just uploaded it as it was.  This is because for some reason my videos are not being watched and getting subscribers is almost impossible.  It has taken six years to reach seven dozen and ten.  There really is a big issue in my mind about comparing this channel to the Other, because the Other is perversely successful.  One of the problems with this one is that the variation in videos means it probably doesn't encourage loyalty.  To me, the videos are connected but to others they seem not to be.  Continuity is therefore probably not apparent.  The last two videos which were anywhere near popular were the meteorite and the schools ones.  This shows in my analytics too - i dropped below 144 views and continued to fall for several days, and i suspect also that yesterday's stats will be down too.  Last week's totals were the lowest so far this year and ignoring Christmas, which is likely to be anomalous for a number of reasons, it was the lowest for eleven weeks.  It's not helpful that this blog is never read either.

Other things are bothering me too.  I have never received an Adsense cheque and i don't know why.  I did the various things necessary to link both channels to Adsense, and going by the view count, the Other Channel ought to have generated over £400 by now, but it hasn't.  I can only assume that for some reason, i can't get money from Adsense and to be honest i'm wondering whether people claiming they have received money from them really have.  I don't want to accuse anyone of lying, but it's the usual problem of my reality seeming completely different from everyone else's for no apparent reason.

So that's it for now really:  feeling pretty down and discouraged, but i'll carry on.  The looming problems with HMRC and Universal Credit don't help of course, but i also get the impression there's something biochemical going on which is affecting my mood.  It's also extremely discouraging when people don't come to Big Science, don't pick up medicine and then i haven't got enough money to post medicine people have ordered.

So basically, i'm feeling completely shit at the moment and everything feels like too much effort.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Black Planet

Right, let's get this over with:

Video number 1:
Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/y7fdu

Human world views and attitudes seem to suggest that we're an arrogant species.  For instance, the Abrahamic tradition appears to view us as the pinnacle of creation, the apparently altruistic and selfless Jainism puts humans at the centre of the Universe and says only we can achieve enlightenment, even through non-violence, and humanism and rationalism make similar assumptions, such as the perfectibility of human nature or the accuracy of our reasoning.  However, i would say that all of this means nothing because our apparent arrogance is like anthropomorphism in human form - we are judging ourselves as if we can be objective, whereas the human condition involves not being able to step outside our own perspective.  Saying a human being is arrogant is a little like saying a peacock is proud, a monkey is cheeky or a sloth is lazy.  They're not:  these are stereotypes and we cannot meaningfully stereotype ourselves any more than we can attribute such characteristics to another species.

For a meaningful judgement to be made of what we are like as a species would involve another species able to make that judgement.  We ourselves cannot see the wood for the trees and therefore we cannot claim to be either arrogant or humble.


Not much of a doobly-do on the second.

However, the view count on both of these is crap.  I'm kind of wondering if i'm wasting my time, to be honest.

In other news, i've now verified my other channel.  This may mean i receive a cheque from YouTube, ha ha.  If i do, however, the plan is to make a video of me shredding it and upload it to YouTube because it'll probably get lots of views.  In reality of course, that's a complete fantasy because i won't get one.  I am, to be honest, seriously wondering if people really get paid by YouTube at all.

And, to this end, since nobody ever comments on this blog thank God, here's a comment i left on someone else's about this issue:

Sorry, comment got eaten!

What i was going to say was, i have two channels.  One is six years old and has 70 000 views.  I'm not surprised not to have received any money from that one.  The other one, however, has almost half a million views and is around two years old.  Both are long since verified, linked to Adsense, have not violated any intellectual property or other terms of service and so on - everything, so far as i can tell, has been done right.  I have, however, not received any money for them.  I am puzzled by this, but that wasn't the main point i was going to make.

My main point is that this needn't be a problem!  On the strength of my channels, i have sold books, ebooks, given consultations and been able to tutor via Skype.  In fact, i suspect that i've made a lot more money that way than i ever could've done via Adsense monetisation, and wanted to make the point that ads are not the only or even the best way of making money from YouTube.

Having said that, i am still, on an intellectual level, puzzled regarding why i haven't received any money from YouTube.  I am thinking, though, that if i ever do get a cheque from them i may make a video of me shredding it so i can dramatically demonstrate that there are many other ways of deriving an income.  In fact, the cheque might be worth more to me that way than its monetary value.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Type 40

Yay!  Chameleon Circuit song!

Here's today's rather clunky effort:

http://clicktotweet.com/TOqfx .  Doctor Who and the daleks are copyright (c) BBC Worldwide and the estate of Terry Nation.  No infringement intended.  However, the dalek itself was designed by Raymond Cusick, who died yesterday.  Supposedly inspired by a pepper pot, Mr Cusick was given a one-off payment for the design and apparently did not resent the arrangement, although reports differ.  In this video, i make a dalek model out of a small aubergine (eggplant), some cocktail sticks and olives.  Unfortunately, it does not go according to plan, and the Doctor's not there to save me.

Lots of people die in the winter.  Not only have Richard Briers and Roobarb guy died, but this morning i heard that Raymond Cusick, the designer of the dalek, has also passed on.  The weird thing about the news report was that they were talking about it as a "design classic" as if it were a Morris Minor, which in a sense it is, i suppose - a vehicle for disabled aliens.  Not that the Morris Minor is particularly aimed at the disabled.  Daleks are also less streamlined.

Back to the clunkiness.  I can't act for toffee and the software leaves something to be desired.  It was shorter partly for that reason but it has at least got an outro.  I need more energy in these videos.

Theintrostealer will probably be doing outros for my playlists, which is excellent.  I also thought it might be helpful to list the playlists on here, so here they are so far:

Movies
Blog Titles (a silly one)
Valentine Videos - A closed list about love.
Big Science Goes Global - these are currently for chemistry IGCSEs but will be widened.
Crossdressing - as it happens i object to terms like "transvestism" and "crossdressing" but people need to be able to recognise what this is about.  It's a bit like the term "homeschooling".  Speaking of which:
Home Education - again, even "Home Education" is the wrong term.  There's a video about that in this playlist.
Yoga
Webcam Wednesdays - unedited videos made on a Wednesday when i'm short of time.
Philosophy
Becoming YouTube  - This is currently stalled because Ben Cook is only publishing fairly irregularly.
The 12 Days Of Christmas 2012 - this is closed.  It won't be going anywhere although i'll probably take the "2012" off soon.
Really Short Videos
From Handsonisbetter - a playlist of the content on the other channel which isn't a secret.
Videos relating to the Other Channel - Less said about these the better, though they might give you a clue as to what's going on.  It's not a secret, just something which isn't appropriate in social chit-chat really.
Herbalism - this is supposedly what i am, so here's some stuff on that.  It should grow quite quickly - for instance, i have a video on hair loss planned, plus one on cybernetics.
Religion & Spirituality - for my sins, i'm Christian, so i'm quite interested in that.
Tour Of The Solar System - videos made with Celestia.

That's it for now.  I wonder which vids are not on any playlists.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Shut Me Up

This should mark the last attempt at a subscriber drive for a while.  However, cringeworthy though this may be, i do stand by what i say in it:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/x89NH

I could look at this as a sextuple dip recession in my YouTube views.  There are six points at which that line starts to go downwards.  If i were the media and that was a graph of economic growth, i would call that a sextuple dip recession.  I would also shout that from the rooftops and as a result, everyone would get nervous, hang on to their dosh and the recession would get worse.

However, this is not the economy, i am not the media and i do not regard that graph as a sextuple dip recession, partly because i've been here before.  A couple of years after i started up as a herbalist, i was looking at a graph like that and found it very depressing.  Then i realised that it meant absolutely nothing.  If you're trying to listen to something very quiet above a background hiss, you may well end up thinking you can hear things which aren't there.  This is probably how electronic voice phenomenon works.  People listen to hissing on an FM analogue radio and end up imagining voices.  If i take that graph too seriously, i will end up imagining that the videos i'm making influence it strongly.  However, in reality i'm not at the stage where i can tell what difference it makes because i haven't got enough subscribers.  This is where you come in.

At the moment, i have no idea if my videos are any good or not because i haven't got enough views to get me above the noise level of my channel.  You want there to be good videos on YouTube, and i want to make good videos.  We both want the same thing.  We can get to this common goal very easily.  You can do it right now:  subscribe and watch the videos on this channel once you've subscribed, like and share them if you like them and if you dislike them, tell me why.

My immediate goal is to get to 144 subscribers, but i don't just want you to subscribe.  I can't tell directly if you are personally watching my videos, so what i'm going to do is this.  I will make a note of everyone who subscribes from now until i get 144 subscribers.  When i get there, i will wait for a week.  Last week i got 1213 views.  If i get more than 1900 views in the seven-day period after i get to 144, i think it's a fair assumption that the videos i'm making are keeping pace with what you want to see.  At the end of that period, when the subs may have gone above 144, i will choose a random person from now until that point, ask them to send me their address and post them a copy of my two books 'Here Be Dragons' and 'You Could've Thought Of That', for free.  I also want to remind you in the meantime that anyone who subscribes can have the free ebook bundle - just contact me and i'll point you in the right direction.

For this to work, you are going to need to watch the videos on this channel.  If you like them, share them with other people.  If you dislike them, tell me why and what you'd like to see on here.  This is not a TV channel:  this is YouTube.  We're supposed to be interacting, and when we interact, we all have a better experience, we improve YouTube and everyone will get a better experience.

Here's a clickable list of my ten most popular videos.  Take a look at them and let me know what you think.


I realise this is very probably an example of trying too hard and coming across as desperate.  If anyone can crack the problem of attempting to promote one's stuff without this happening, i'd love to hear from you.  I'd also like to point out that if i wasn't like this, i would probably have a 9-5 job and had a girlfriend at school.  Embarrassing pleas like this go with the territory.  However, looking on the "bright" side, i'm sure this will sink without trace.

There is a problem with things getting too up their own anuses here of course, and i also have a tendency in that direction.  It will be replaced by one which is considerably less like that in the neighbouring future.

Having said all that, i have to say i'm fairly keen on the thumbnail and it's a shame it's so small, so here it is again:

These are eight of the ten most popular videos on the channel, ignoring Liz drinking her wee as i usually do.  Incidentally, a new wee video will appear soon.  Three of those eight videos are about current affairs, at least another three are about appearance, one is of us snogging and the final one was picked up by South Asian people interested in Yoga.  That probably gives me some indication of what i need to do.  It suggests that my vague idea of doing "Does my bum look big in this?" and a video of me twerking while talking about Heidegger would indeed be popular.  However, there are various others in the pipeline, including "Am i my brain?", at least two more cooking videos and loads more science stuff, which is unfortunately not very popular.  There's also "Herbalism as cybernetics".

Hmm, i should make a list of these.  Why not here?  A numbered list in fact, to keep track of how many ideas i have - these are only working titles:

  1. Fractional Distillation and Fossil Fuels.
  2. Special Relativity.
  3. Twerking while talking about Heidegger.
  4. Does My Bum Look Big In This?
  5. The Dad Meal.
  6. Herbalism As Cybernetics.
  7. Overvalued Ideas.
  8. Pizza.
  9. Why I'm Not Currently Vegan.
  10. Hair Loss.
  11. Coughs and Colds.
  12. I'm Old.
  13. Writing an Ed Phil.
  14. Abundance.
  15. Are We An Arrogant Species?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Two Minutes To Midnight

It's possible that subscribers today will get the impression that i've uploaded about ten videos today.  This is not in fact so.  What i've done is switch all but two videos to public from unlisted.  As a result, i thought i owed people an explanation and uploaded this:

The other videos are mainly the low-bandwidth versions of others.

Today's actual, proper video is here:

A mathematical argument for the end of the world.  Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/KJULv

The Doomsday Argument is a mathematical, or rather statistical, argument that we are likely to be in about the middle of the number of human beings who have ever or will ever exist.  Due to exponential increase in population, however, that seems to imply that we are near the end of human history.

The argument is roughly that one's life can be considered to be at a random point in human history.  Since for most of history, the world's population has been very small and only recently has our population started to grow, exponentially in fact, the probability that we are towards the end of history is much higher than if we are at the beginning.  Even if we assume that we are only half way through the sequence of human births in history when we were born, considering that population has been doubling every thirty years, that gives us less than two centuries to go.  If the population reaches a plateau of about 10 billion, that apparently gives us about nine millenia, though i can't see the maths there.  That's not very long compared to the history of the species.

However, i think this argument is wrong.  Firstly, it is really an argument about the probability that that thought will occur at a particular time, not that your birth will.  Since most human beings die in infancy or childhood, most of them probably don't have that thought.  Subtract those numbers from the population and you are left with a smaller number.  It also seems to assume we will stay the same throughout history, i.e. that we will tend to have thoughts like that.  That's not the case if the argument is refuted, we adopt a mindset which is incompatible with the argument or we become too stupid to understand it.  It also won't work if we become immortal, or even if the future consists of a very small population persisting for many millenia.

Therefore, so far as i can see the argument doesn't work.  Whereas it's possible that the human race is about to become extinct for a whole load of other reasons, this isn't one of them.  However, note that several of my counter-arguments mean the future is pretty bleak even though we survive.


I think there's a place for the Doomsday Argument, but it isn't how it seems.  It's more an argument that thoughts that the world or species might end soon will become rarer per head of the population. This could be because some kind of process will take place which reduces the number of human heads, or it might just be that we're going to cheer up a lot in the future.  I don't know, we'll have to wait and see.  I suspect, in fact, that it's unprovable because if it turns out to be true, nobody will be around to know about it.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

View To A Kill

Here's today's:

There is a recipe to getting views and subs.  I stumbled across it by mistake a couple of years ago and want to share.  Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/01Dey

First of all, this is only one way of doing it.  There will be many others, but this is something which i know works.

You may well ask why someone with a six-year old channel which has only 30 000 views and 92 subscribers (at the time of writing) thinks he has any business giving advice on views and subs.  Well, the answer is that this is not my only channel.  I have another channel which is quite a bit more successful in spite of very little input.  It has almost half a million views and 132 subscribers.  No, i'm not going to tell you what's on it, but it's entirely legitimate content for YouTube.

There are a number of key points:

* Elicit a strong emotional response. Make someone laugh, do something funny, something sad and affecting, something disgusting, something which makes the viewer angry, frightened or curious.  Comedy, horror, fascination - these are the kind of things you need to aim for.  Then the viewer will want to share the video, blog about it, respond to it, comment on it, discuss it and so forth, and it'll get views.  Example (not for the weak of stomach - you have been warned):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEeMJgV75nQ - 26 million views.

* Make videos with rewatch value.  Make the viewer wonder what they've just seen so they want to watch it again, put Easter eggs in or make a video which needs to be watched repeatedly by its very nature, for instance for hypnotherapy purposes or because it's part of an interactive series.  Example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HA7RzIM5rU - ontological paradox game.  This only has 26 000 views but that's not too bad for a video about philosophy.

* Do something unique and startling.  Make a video of something nobody has ever seen before which is visually stunning.  Lots of these are made by people who are in the right place at the right time.  Example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl_RknL9G-Q - 2.4 million views in less than a week.

* Be yourself:  Don't try to be something you're not unless you're an actor, musician or some other kind of performer.  Example (probably the most obvious one ever!):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_56nx3eHK4c - 1.48 million views so far.

* Post links to videos in the communities you really care about.  Don't just post a link to a load of random places and run.  Example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk - nearly 2 million views after two years.

* Be consistent without being ridiculously diverse - this is a failing of this channel.  Example of someone who doesn't fail in this respect:  http://www.youtube.com/user/SamSailsShips/videos?view=0 - please subscribe to her, i don't know her at all apart from on here but she is good.

There is also an element of luck.  An important factor, unfortunately, is that older YouTube videos used to get counted in a way which inflated the views inaccurately, meaning that when people look at older channels they appear to be more popular than they really are.  Viewers are therefore likely to perceive them as better initially, watch and subscribe, and the gap will therefore probably increase.  The other channel had more videos on it when the method of counting changed in 2011, so it's more popular now as well.

Finally, put a link to your channel on your sig on whatever fora you happen to be on, e.g. IMDB, Outpost Gallifrey or all the literally millions of other message boards and forums.

If you do all of these things and are fairly lucky, you will succeed.  Hope it works well for you.


This couldn't be more blatant, could it?  However, it's also an attempt to attract more content creators to subscribe, because people who are actually making stuff for YT probably see it in a different way.

Two things happened in the past day which underlined something i've long suspected about YouTube, along with a third thing which was slightly annoying and not entirely related.  The first two were looking at YouTube on the Wii, where it turns out you can't see channels or comment - it's just a huge smoosh of vids with no association with users or anything, and the basic Android YouTube app, which won't let you comment or upload.  I've temporarily (i hope) uninstalled the fancier app because it had stopped working.  This is the wrong way round.  YouTube ought to be about individuals' content creation, not passively watching what's on there without being able to comment, upload videos or even know the usernames of the people uploading.  It's completely ridiculous to have it like that instead.  It makes me think that the majority of people don't perceive YT as consisting of channels or a place you can comment and upload videos, but more like a television set.  As far as i'm concerned, TV sets are extinct - they serve no purpose at all if you have internet access and a device on which you can watch videos - and in fact that style of video use itself is currently a little suspect to me, although that's the fervour of the convert, probably, because i do of course watch TV programmes.

The other thing is a minor gripe with YouTube.  My views more than halved overnight and are now very low on one channel and unchanged on the other.  What appears to have happened is that views of currently unlisted and private videos are no longer included in the total, because it dropped by just over 38 000 views, the same number of views as Liz's wee-wee video got.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Over The Rainbow

Two days without a blog entry, so here's yestern's vid:

How to make a mozzarella (or tofu) and tomato salad.  This takes about fifteen minutes if you've already boiled the kidney beans.  Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/fwtF6

You will need:

Two limes
About 15 ml of cooking oil, preferably olive but sunflower is an option.
A fairly large number of tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes (no need to chop).
About 200 grammes kidney beans.
500 grammes (dry weight) pasta.
Two mozzarella balls or hunks of firm tofu.

1. Rinse the vegetables in cold water, including the kidney beans if they're warm to cool them down.
2. Boil a couple of litres of cold water using a kettle.  Put the pasta in a saucepan or steamer.
3. While waiting for the water to boil, top and tail the cucumbers and then slice them lengthwise into four.  Chop them crosswise into fairly thin segments.
4. While STILL waiting for the kettle to boil, dice the tomatoes if they're large, otherwise just sling them in.  You can also add pitted or stuffed olives, capers and/or sweetcorn niblets at this stage.
5. Just before the kettle comes to the boil, turn the ring on full and put the pot with the pasta in it on the ring.  Then cover them with the boiling water as soon as possible so that the pasta is entirely floating in the water, but not too high as it will waste energy and water otherwise.  Cover immediately with a close-fitting lid.  Turn down as soon as it begins to bubble and leave to simmer for ten minutes or until the pasta is the consistency you prefer.
6. While this is going on, mix the other ingredients together in a large bowl.
7. While this is still going on, chop each mozzarella ball into sixteen pieces and tear each piece in half.
8.  Start adding the white stuff to the bowl about four bits at once, mixing thoroughly each time.  Then put the bowl in the fridge or freezer to chill.
9.  Just before the pasta's ready, chop each lime in half and squeeze it.  You don't need a lemon squeezer for this.
10. Put the oil in a jar (or the bottom of the lemon squeezer) and shake it or whisk it with a fork or whisk.  Remember that metal and oxidation destroy vitamin C very fast.  However, luckily most Citrus fruits in Britain probably haven't got any vitamin C in them anyway!
11. When the pasta's ready, drain it using a cold, preferably metal, sieve or colander, then drop it into a bowl full of cold water.  Try to avoid draining the pasta water into the bowl.
12. Drain the bowl out until the pasta is almost falling out itself.  Then add more cold water until it's full again.  Stir the pasta around to cool it down and separate any which are stuck together with your fingers.
13. When the pasta's cold, drain it through another cold, again preferably metal, sieve or colander.  If you only have one, make sure it's cold.
14. Take the bowl out of the fridge and mix the pasta in.  It can help to separate the salad into two bowls for this.
15. Pour the oil and juice mixture into the bowl(s) in a spiral pattern and serve.


Two things about this video:
1. It wasn't supposed to be about salad. I was planning to make the Richard Briers video but the day ended up being so hectic that all i could manage to fit in was one which incorporated what i was doing anyway, so this is all a bit thrown together.
2. It's a recipe video, for a surprisingly cheap meal as it happens - about fifteen bob a person.

Here's the other one, which is a webcam video:

My tribute to Richard Briers.  Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/O8iZ7

Richard Briers is chiefly remembered for 'The Good Life' in which he played a man who turned his back on the ratrace to live an alternate, self-sufficient lifestyle in suburbia.  This is kind of what we've done except that we were not successful in another career.  I'm also quite a stubborn and obsessive person myself, like Tom Good, so i can relate to that.

Another one is Roobarb and Custard, the first TV cartoon i ever saw in colour.  This was animated interestingly by drawing each frame twice, giving it a wobbly appearance as used today in Charlieissocoolike's outro screen.  I considered doing the same but haven't got time - i was going to try drawing a green Tom Good and a pink Barbara Good and make them wobbly, but that would be hard on a webcam!

Another one is Oneupmanship, in which his character taught people how to pose to succeed.  One memorable scene for me is the winetasting scene, where he dips a pentorch into some red wine and exclaims "tramlines!"

Something Liz is a fan of more than i, although i do see it partly as a satire on suburban madness, is 'Ever-Decreasing Circles' where he plays the obsessive Martin Bryce.

He also appeared in Shakespeare plays, notably the film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, and in Torchwood, where ironically for today he played an old immortal man who wanted to die.

One interesting thing he said was that in order to subsidise theatre in this country, it was necessary for him to do a lot of commercial voiceovers, which makes me feel better about all that.  Because theatre acting is poorly-paid, actors such as him are hard to find and appear rarely on stage, on the whole, but he was one to buck the trend.  He also did a lot more than simply deliver the lines - he was visually very funny too.


Both of these videos were of course made in haste.  In the second case, it's a fairly shameless attempt to leap on a bandwagon and if it gets few views, that probably serves me right.  My father pointed out that my glasses are too reflective in this, so i may either remove them or turn off the monitor from now on for webcam videos.

The views have changed again.  They seem to be updating more regularly in the last couple of days and i now have seven and a half dozen subscribers, so i'm approaching, very slowly, the psychological barrier of the

I am now tempted to make two graph-based videos in a row, one on the idea of the triple-dip recession and the other on the Doomsday Argument.  I will probably be more creative with the second than the first.  In fact, why wait until the day after tomorrow?  Here's the graphical basis of my first idea:

Here is a graph of my views in the past month:

Here is the same graph with each decline in views from day to day marked (and yes, it's a bit crap but i'm tired and nobody reads these):

The point i'm trying to make with this is that if you regard every dip in numbers as a recession, you will end up seeing rather a lot of recessions.  With views on a single very small YT channel this is not important, but with the national or international economy, this is more important because the belief that the economy is doing badly can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People will hang on to their money against a rainy day, and as a result, it rains.  However, since a free press is clearly important it's hard to know what to do about this.

That's a future video though, with a nicer set of graphs.  Do graphs scare people off?  We shall see.

Monday, 18 February 2013

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE! AND I BRING YOU...



...an organic chemistry video that got slightly out of hand:



An introduction to organic chemistry and organic compounds - WITH FIRE!!!!

In nature on this planet, there seem to be two types of matter, which vary according to how they respond to heating.  One lot, such as sugar, alcohol, urea, vinegar and olive oil, changed

irreversibly when heated, and the other changed reversibly.  The Swedish chemist Berzelius noted

that whereas the reversible substances were from things which had never been alive - inorganic -

the irreversible ones always seemed to be from things which were either alive then or had

recently been alive - organic compounds.  Another oddity was that organic compounds could appear

to consist of exactly the same elements in the same proportions without being the same substance.

 For instance, diethyl ether and ethanol (known commonly as alcohol) have exactly the same

formula, but diethyl ether is an anaesthetic gas and ethanol is a liquid used as a recreational

drug.

All of these compounds contain carbon (although not all carbon chemistry is organic).  Carbon is

special because it can form into chains and rings, and also form double bonds.  Whereas silicon,

which is immediately below carbon in the periodic table, can also do some of this, its compounds

tend to be more unstable.

Natural philosophers (scientists) used to think that organic and inorganic chemistry were

governed by entirely different rules and had nothing to do with each other, a philosophy known as

"vitalism".  That is, life and non-life are entirely different.  However, in 1828, Friedrich

Wohler (missing umlaut) managed to synthesise urea from entirely non-living substances.  Up until

that time, it was thought that only a kidney could produce urine, so the boundaries between

inorganic and organic chemistry began to blur.  In 1845, Adolph Kolbe managed to make acetic

acid, the acid in vinegar, in a similar way, and it became clear that organic compounds, although

special, could be understood using the same principles as inorganic ones.

As can be seen from the structural formulae in this video, the explanation for the differences

between such substances as diethyl ether and ethanol is that although their molecules contain the

same atoms, the atoms are in different arrangements.

Organic compounds are organised into homologous series, which are named systematically.  The

prefixes, such as meth-, eth-, prop-, but- and then the various Greek number words, describe how

many carbons are in the molecular "skeleton", and the suffixes, such as -ane, -ene, -ol and so

forth, indicate what class of compound they are - organic acid, alcohol, various types of

hydrocarbon and so on.

The second video will cover more basic organic chemistry, including fractional distillation and

fossil fuels, as well as some more of the nomenclature.


Unfortunately, that nasty double-spacing is in the doobly-do - i blame Notepad.  I hate double-spacing.

Anyway, the purpose of this particular blog entry is to provide materials for the video, so here are the structural formulae for them:


 
(That last one is straight from Wikipedia, which is why it looks different).

Thankfully, that seems to be done now.  Tomorrow's video, which is on the Doomsday Argument, follows.  I might as well start on it now.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Still Ill

I really am still ill.  Or am i?

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/9bhb4 . Women get sick and men die.  Then there's "man 'flu", something i haven't currently got, and here's why.

Rather than making a helpful video about what to do about coughs and colds, which would make me a massive hypocrite, instead i've decided to do one on deciding to be ill.  This is based on something Jonathan Miller did in 'The Body In Question'.

There are four categories in  deciding to be ill:  threat, suffering, stigma and inconvenience.  Unless you have an illness into which you have no insight or makes you comatose, you will probably make some kind of subjective judgement about your disease based on these criteria.  A symptom or sign may be threatening, such as a lump in the breast or blood in the stools, without any of the other features.  It may be inconvenient as with arthritis or shortness of breath in COPD.  It may simply be painful or unpleasant like vomiting.  Or, it may carry a stigma with it like acne or hair loss.  Illnesses have various combinations of these features.  I illustrate this using "Pandora's Jug" and my cold, and decide i'm not ill, although you might think i am.


Incidentally, i know this is too long.

So there you go:  man 'flu (which should really be called "man 'flu'", but then it would look like a quote).  Not particularly man 'flu so much as an adaptation of a Jonathan Miller demo from the late '70s, but there is still a gender difference in the social construction of illness:  women get sick and men die.

Incidentally, just after i made this video, the glass labelled "THREAT" smashed when i tried to peel off the label and it fell into the breadbin.  Incredibly, i later cut my thumb on the doorknob in the next room when it turned out a shard of glass had become embedded in it, which is doubly weird because it was round the corner.  I don't understand how that happened.

One thing i missed out was the question of Sein versus Seiende and the ontic versus the ontological in this context.  Firstly, a common view of mental illness is that it often involves lack of insight, which means that the patient's personal construction of mental illness is that it doesn't exist.  Secondly, there are various illnesses which may not exist for the patient to the same extent as they exist for the people around them, such as petit mal epilepsy, stroke and coma, or for that matter halitosis.

This is just the beginning of the question of social construction of illness.  I wish i could think of a better way of summarising it though.

I am approaching another bottleneck.  Someone has requested a video on the doomsday argument and tomorrow's video will be on organic chemistry for Big Science.  Then it's Webcam Wednesday again and so on.  I don't understand how people can ever run out of videos to make right now, although there may come a time when i get it only too well.  There's also a video i want to make about the concept of a "double-dip".  In the meantime i have a patient tomorrow morning, Big Science tomorrow afternoon (in theory), another patient, this time a home visit in an outlying village the next morning and i'm seeing my ex on 7B, sod it, (13732) afternoon.

I now have seven dozen and five subscribers (thank you everyone!) and 70 236 views.  The meteorite video has been very successful so far but i expect it to go into decline.  I imagine a piece about winter illnesses would do moderately well although it's also a bit annoying.  I could also upload a proper video about winter infections i suppose!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

World Without Zinc

Sorry, i cheated with the title.  Anyway:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/2e0Y8 . Yesterday's asteroid and meteorite strike were, amazingly, unrelated!  The Chelyabinsk meteorite strike yesterday morning caused 1200 casualties due to broken glass, but it was coming from the opposite direction from 2012 DA14, yesterday's asteroid approach.  The asteroid came from the south, the meteorite from the north.

The meteor was first detected in Alaska and presumably crashed into Earth a few minutes later.  It had a mass of about 10 000 tons and was seventeen metres in diameter, so it wasn't that much smaller than the asteroid, in a way, which has a mass of 190 000 tonnes, which is about the same as a supertanker, and is forty-five metres in diameter.  However, clearly an asteroid weighing twenty times as much would've been a much bigger disaster if it had hit us.  And there is of course spectacular footage of the meteorite hitting, which of course has presumably now mainly been sold to news agencies and therefore i can't show you.

2012 DA14 is a stony asteroid and may, like other asteroids, be a rubble pile, i.e. rocks adhering together due to gravity.  As such, it could easily come to bits.  However, we no longer need to worry about this particular asteroid as its approach caused it to shift from an Apollo asteroid (those which cross our orbit) to an Aten class asteroid (those which mainly orbit closer to the Sun than we do).

Having said that, we clearly didn't spot the one coming the other way, and this is a concern for us because we don't want to go the way of much of the life on this planet after Chicxulub, when the asteroid which wiped out non-avian dinosaurs hit.  In order to avoid that, we really do need to get more interested in astronomy and space travel.  There are various possible techniques for avoiding them once they're picked up by telescope.  Blasting them to bits with nuclear weapons is not one of them as the chances are we'd just get pelted with them instead, which would probably be a lot worse.  An interesting approach is to paint the asteroid so the pressure of sunlight moves it away from us.  Finally, a mass driver could be placed on the surface to push rocks off it and move it away that way.

Whatever we decide to do, we should do something, because one day an asteroid will most definitely hit us, and we need to be prepared.


Well, i had to do this, didn't i?  It would be silly not to.  It also has interest beyond the topical, since we could be hit by an asteroid at any time.  Incidentally, i also thought about using this thumbnail:

I'm not sure people know about Chad nowadays, but there he is on Eros.  I also wonder if people will twig it's Eros and the link with Valentine's.  Actually, no i don't - i realise nobody at all will realise and wonder why i bothered, but it's probably the easiest photo of an asteroid to finden.  Red's probably not the best choice - maybe it should just be covered in foil.

To be honest, though i haven't performed any calculations, i find it a little hard to believe that just painting an asteroid white would make any difference to its orbit, though i realise they are very light and a tiny change can snowball.  I briefly wondered why this didn't make our orbit bigger during ice ages but i presume that's to do with momentum.

The really surprising thing about all this is that the Russian meteorite seems to have had no connection with the asteroid, although I wondered if it might have been something in a very large orbit round it.  I have in fact asked a question on Y!A about this.

Anyway, here's a fairly easily avoided human extinction scenario:  nobody bothers to look up or go up (or out, rather), and all of a sudden a dirty great rubble pile hits us and we're all dead.  Shame that.

A sign of my madness (and by the way, here's an old video describing my policy on being mad:

) is that i have chosen to believe that the K-T event was the result of technology.  I have refined this delusion somewhat in recent years to the point where it's more parsimonious than it used to be, and now believe that intelligent coelurosaurs steered an asteroid into Earth orbit and something went wrong.  This is an improvement over my previous hypothesis that they wiped themselves out in a nuclear war because of the lack of radiation - i used the iridium anomaly to justify that.

Incidentally, the idea that i have an actual policy on my own psychosis is going to make no sense to you at all unless you watch the above video, and it will seem completely pointless.  Speaking of which, i'm openly wondering why i bother with this blog right now.  It makes sense to post educational resources here for Big Science, and in the past it made sense to post rants here, but i no longer seem to do the latter.  Nobody (other than you, VanillaRose and you're a brick!) ever comments either, so i presume it's not read and has no following.  So why do i do it?  Well, as Liz pointed out yestern, most of what we do is pointless and in a way that's a good thing because it means we don't end-gain.  This is in fact such a wonderfully good point that i find it has a siren-like attraction, making me want to waste 100% of my time doing this kind of thing rather than occasionally taking breaks from it to do things like see patients.  Theintrostealer has also pointed out that i'm way too focussed on views.

Ah!  Forgot to mention - i interacted with Wheezywaiter!  Not in a big way, but i did.  I have to say he somehow gives the impression of being more approachable than many other popular YouTubers.  Of course, the thing is that they're all basically human beings like me.

Anyway, on the subject of being obsessed with views and subs, there's this:

So they've both gone up.  One is a sub-4-sub, which i dislike because i doubt they lead to views and are not motivated by talent, but it was on a whim.  I've been wondering how to get round this problem.  I want to come up with something which means that people either - well, two things actually.  I want people to subscribe if they like and watch my videos but not otherwise.  Simply having subs is not the point.  I also want people to give me helpful feedback rather than just ignoring me or putting a single word comment like "Useless", hence this "dialogue":

 Clearly i am being a little sarcastic here but my point is that yes, maybe i'm useless but one thing which would help me, and therefore lots of other people, improve would be to have constructive criticism.  It's along the lines of "if you like us, tell your friends.  If you don't like us, tell us."  That kind of comment is not going to help the person making it.  I don't feel strongly about the comment, as it happens, but i do feel strongly about the attitude.

So what i'm trying to do is come up with something that will encourage people to make helpful criticism and to share at the same time, which is the YT equivalent of what that does.

One more thing:

That video is an hour old and has eighteen views.  YT want me to advertise it for some reason.  It's probably a blip, but it's there.  Which reminds me:  double-dip recession.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Three Shadows

'80s art-rockers shouting about fish.  Or:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/0zJhe . Giant puffballs can be up to two metres across and contain countless millions of spores. If they all survived, within two generations the volume of puffballs produced would be eight times the size of Earth. Similarly, cod lay about nine million eggs at once. Assuming all of those lived to reproductive age, again, within three years the volume of cod produced would be the same as that of the oceans themselves.

Clearly neither of these happens because although these organisms produce enormous numbers of offspring, almost all of them die before adulthood. Connected with this is the fact that the adults in these species often die immediately after mating. For instance, there's a species of bootlace worm which has no way of getting its sex cells out of its body, so it basically explodes with pleasure at the end of its life and the sperm and eggs combine that way. If that kind of thing didn't happen, the adults would still be there using up the resources needed by their progeny, an issue which is also important to us. This is also why female spiders eat their mates after mating and why praying mantises eat theirs - they need the food for their children.

Another thing some species do to spread their genes is to have babies without mating. Greenfly and other aphids, for instance, are born pregnant and give birth at the age of twenty minutes. Stick insects and water fleas are similar. Some species are even exclusively female, such as some skinks and geckos. This means they can reproduce without the problem of finding a mate or having a mate find them. However, this comes with a price: children from virgin births are genetically identical to their parents, so an entire species of individuals born without mating in this way has little genetic variation, with the result that they are vulnerable to extinction because similar threats will kill them all, rather than only some of them as would be the case with more variable species such as our own.

Human beings are not like that. We get together, have small numbers of children together and raise them, investing a lot of time and energy into doing so. These children are all, with the possible exception of identical twins, unique - we do not have clones. Rather than dying immediately after mating or giving birth, we stick around and bring the kids up. In fact, unlike almost every other species, we go so far the other way that we actually stop reproducing long before we get old, possibly so we can raise the grandkids.

Our individuality enables our society to be flexible and adapt to change and we need a huge amount of interaction early in our lives because there are so few of us and otherwise, none of us would survive to have children of our own. With respect to society, this means that we cannot really pursue a strategy of child-rearing which attempts to standardise children's achievements - that would make them more like clones and lead to an inflexible and vulnerable society or mental illness - or raise children in large groups with relatively few adults involved. Therefore, schools of the kind we have now are not educational institutions. That could be OK, provided it's also OK that we will die out soon as a species and our descendants will suffer a lot in the process - i'm serious about that as a viable and acceptable option, though it's not one on which i'm personally keen.

Hence schools are for fish. They are suitable for homogeneous groups where there is no parental care, almost all of whom die in infancy or which are genetically very similar. That does not describe our species and we are therefore risking our extinction to raise children in this way. As a result, we chose to make our children aware of and feel free to opt in or out of school and to change that at any stage.


This is only sort of about fish.  It's more about the fact that schools would work as educational institutions if we were a different kind of species, which makes me wonder if somewhere out there in the Galaxy there is in fact such a species, and if so, whether it's quite vulnerable to extinction.  I'm a little nervous putting this out there because i know there are a lot of people with a great deal of respect for the educational system and i have a great deal of respect for them in turn.  It's also too long, a problem which is getting worse.  I will get this sorted.


Back to the aliens.  What would it take for there to be a tool-using species which was suitable for school?  It would lack parental care as we understand it and the individuals would be genetically very similar, with the result that to succeed, they would either need to have castes like social insects or be multi-talented themselves.  I have a feeling this is the same species as the one with the fixed hereditary language.  It would also be very similar in some ways to a social insect, and in fact throughout the process of making this video, i've had termites at the front of my mind.

So:  it's insect-like in terms of social organisation but not anatomically, and clearly it can't be chordate because chordates are improbable, at least large ones.  Well, it could be, but let's not complicate things.  Is this species going to get into space?  Is it already there?  Hold on, let me just get this out of my system:

The point is that in order to have schools, we would have to have had them already in the sense that there would have been some kind of instinct to engage in school-like activities, whereas there is instead a learning instinct.  I don't know what to think.  He's dead, Jim.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Bring On The Night

I'm not exactly sick of this because i can still think of many new angles, but it's probably not healthy to dwell on it too much, what with Nyarlathotep around and that:

Happy Valentine's Day!  But what about all you lonely people?  I used to be one of you and i've not forgotten.

One thing i dislike about Valentine's Day generally is that it prioritises romantic love over friendship, something i think is epitomised in the admittedly excellent film 'When Harry Met Sally',  SPOILER SPACE
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which i think is ruined by the ending.  Not only does Billy Crystal effectively almost stalk Meg Ryan, something which is portrayed as pathological in 'Fatal Attraction' but perfectly OK in this fim because it's a man doing it rather than a woman, but romantic love is somehow seen as a step up from friendship, when it is in fact potentially quite a nasty thing.  It's exclusive, leads to self-absorption and is frequently centred around lust, although of course making love is at best an expression of love and a form of bonding.

The other thing is public displays of affection, something which annoys people and used to distress me, but which i do, and one reason is this:  i think it's important to signal to people that you are both in a relationship in order to nip nascent desires in the bud and avoid heartache for other people.  I'm perfectly aware that i'm ugly, but my wife is beautiful and people need to know she's mine, not because i'm possessive, but because i don't want them to be sad and frustrated.


It's actually really easy to think of Valentine-themed videos, to the extent that it's tempting to carry on after today but in fact it'd probably be a good idea to knock them on the head at this point.  Having said that, there's always the cardioid:

I have to admit it's very tempting to explore this shape in greater depth, and in fact i may not drop this until i've done that, which means tomorrow.  The cardioid also turns up here:

Now, i do have a bit of an idea about another video, namely "what would happen to someone whose heart was heart-shaped?"  To be honest, i'm not sure how far it goes.  The uterus is occasionally "romantic", as it's rather irritatingly described, so there's another one.  There's also the question of blood being pink, i.e. pink heart - pink blood, meaning it would probably be manganese based like Klingon blood allegedly is due to a complicated story about not being allowed to show blood on a particular film because of the certificate.  The details are presumably on Memory Alpha somewhere.  In fact, here we are:

Oxygenated Klingon blood usually appears red in a Class M atmosphere. However, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Klingon blood appears pink/violet in one scene. The scene, as originally written, instead included green Klingon blood, though this was changed due to Vulcan blood commonly being said to be green. (audio commentary, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD) It is possible that Klingon blood is "canonically" pink in color, because of what Colonel Worf says in The Undiscovered Country regarding the difference in Klingon blood compared to Human blood (after Colonel West, disguised as a Klingon, is shot down). On the other hand, with the sole exception of Star Trek VI, Klingon blood has always been red in every instance that it has been shown, including in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek Generations, and multiple episodes of all of the Star Trek television series. 

(From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Klingon).  There's also this:


  However, love hearts are not reliably pink and are often boring old red.  So the thing to do would be to morph a heart into a cardioid shape and see what would happen.  I also think i'll insist on the great vessels being placed dorsally, since love hearts are not generally depicted as having veins and arteries coming out of them.

So yeah, maybe one more Valentine video, but we're getting to the point where it'll be in decline. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Funny How

There seems to have been something of an improvement.  Anyway, today's Webcam Wednesday of course, so this looks dire and isn't fancy:

Valentine's Day is cutesy and a bit naff.  In fact i think maybe British people are less into cuteness than most other cultures, but anyway, it is.  Putti (cherubim), fluffiness, pink, love hearts (which btw are completely useless as organs) and so on.

In fact, it reminds me of all those cliches about Romantic love that float around everywhere, and i wonder why it's like this.

I think it's partly because we're scared of love.  We're putting something out there and making ourselves acutely vulnerable, and Valentine sort of gives us permission to do it in a kind of joky and anonymous way.

However, i personally also find it extremely creepy.  Look at it this way.  We have a holiday which gives permission for people to engage in anonymous activity whose targets may well find it unwelcome, or if they do find it welcome it might only be because they don't know who it's from.  They might imagine some cute person, perhaps someone about whom they've been daydreaming, has sent them the card, but what if it's some nasty lurky person with a personal hygiene problem and no respect for your personal space.

I have sent anonymous Valentine cards myself in the past.  On one particular occasion, i was trying to reach out to someone, and of course i have no idea how it was received.  However, oddly, on that occasion it was immediately followed by her getting together with someone, and i sometimes wonder if i was instrumental in that.  In which case it was a good thing.

I'm afraid i don't think of Valentine's as "just a bit of fun", because love is serious business.  It's not the cute, pink, fluffy bunny stuff but something a lot more gritty and real than that, even if it's romantic love, and that cute padding can stop you reaching people because you will do the clicheed, stereotypical stuff and somehow regard that as enough, when in fact it's just tired old rather ineffective symbolism.

So no, i'm not very keen on Valentine's Day, mainly because it's sort of an invitation for stalkers to stalk, and believe me, we really, really don't want to be encouraged to do that.  Maybe all i need is a bit of balance, but at least for me, i don't wanna go there.  Any such advance i would've made would've been unwelcome and spurned, and rightly so.  Maybe it's just for the beautiful people.  But if it is, isn't that a bit unfair?  There's this holiday for pretty people and us ugly people are in the outer darkness.

So no, not a fan really.


Now, there may of course be an element of sour grapes here but i address that at the end.  Whereas it may be OK for the Beautiful People to celebrate Valentine's Day and people may imagine their secret admirers are among the Beautiful People, some of us live forever in the outer darkness and i get the impression that that "some people" refers in fact to rather a lot of people, probably the vast majority in fact.  So yeah, sour grapes maybe but sour grapes i probably share with most of the human race.

Who are the Beautiful People anyway?  Well, apart from the play title, which is oddly uncelebrated on this 'ere blower tangle, they are the people who turn up in adverts and propaganda films with wonderful lives because they chose to vote for a particular party or not to buy Brand X.  They are the people who were listening to the lecturer, who was probably also one of them, in 'Dasein Ohne Leben' (which is this:

).  To be sort of fair, they're also the people with big shiny biceps striding forth into a sunny future where the next Five Year Plan will bring a 300% increase in the production of tractor parts.  Here's one of them:

On a slightly related note, i'm reading 'The Hydrogen Sonata'.

So, these are the Beautiful People and i am not one of them, never have been and never will be.  To be honest i'm not even sure being beautiful makes you one of them.  No, no, no.  I dwell in the Outer Darkness instead, the social Siberia.  And i'm not even blaming anyone.  I'm rambling.  Off to look at more Soviet propaganda posters now, in an attempt to recapture my lost youth, and a lost world come to think of it.

I've decided there is to be one more Valentine's video this year - tomorrow's.  After that it'll be urine strips from here to homelessness.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Right, before i get going, i just wanted to show you this playlist .  I think you can guess what it is yet.

Anyway, there i was getting going on my Valentine vids when all of a sudden i realised that the Pope had resigned.  Since this hasn't happened since 1415, i decided to vlog about it, thus:

A Pope has just resigned for the first time in nearly six centuries.  The Prophecy of the Popes, allegedly written by St Malachy, an Irish saint of the 12th century, predicts that the next pope, Petrus Romanus, will be the last.

The Catholic Church itself rejects the Prophecy of the Popes as a forgery and also as a form of divination, and in fact there is no reference available for it before 1595 when it appeared in Lignum Vitae.  However, it has been claimed that the list, which consists of a series of "nicknames" such as "De Labore Solis", "Gloria Olivae" (which seems to refer to Benedict XIV) and "Petrus Romanus", was compiled by the Neo-Platonist Nostradamus.  Whether or not it's valid, it is quite reminiscent of his style, so this could be correct.

Interestingly, Gloria Olivae, supposedly the current Pope, is also the penultimate pope before Petrus Romanus, after which it seems to be implied that Judgement Day will come and Rome will be destroyed.  In fact, this is less far-fetched than it might seem because of the Doomsday Argument, which holds that because of exponentially increasing human population, the chances of being alive just before human extinction are actually higher than at any other time simply because there are more people then, and therefore that the chances of the "end of the world", at least for us, are higher now than ever before.  This is one reason i always go on about the world ending.  A similar argument means that we are actually quite likely to be alive during the resignation of Benedict XIV (or Ratzinger) simply because, again, there are more people than ever before.

The Catholic Church is currently in trouble, and secularisation is also on the rise.  However, it has weathered storms in the past and there's no particular reason to suppose that it will end now.  On the other hand, the extinction of the human race would probably also put paid to the Church.


To me, the most interesting thing about this is that i was alive when it happened - makes me wonder if i'll see Betelgeuse go supernova now.  However, this may not be as remarkable as it seems, looked at from one perspective, though it's still improbable looked at in the opposite way.

There have allegedly been popes for a total of (11B9+4)-29 years, which is 11B5-29; 11A6-20; 1186 years.  If i live to be six dozen, which is unusually low for today but high for a man in the past, this period is 118.6/6 lifetimes long, or 11.86+11.86=23.5 lifetimes.  Since this has only happened five times, the probability of me being alive when it happens, assuming we're talking about the Christian era, is therefore 23.5/5, which is one in five.  That's not that improbable as it happens.

However, this whole thing can be turned round thus:  suppose we take the pope's resignation this year as one given and compare it to world population on the other four occasions.  These were roughly as follows (in decimal, population figures rounded up to next date available, high estimates):

Pontian (235):   450 million
Marcellinus (304):  450 million
Benedict IX (1046):  450 million
Gregory VI (1046):  450 million
Celestine (1294):  500 million
 Gregory XII (1415):  500 million
Benedict XIV (2013):  7.2 billion.

It's therefore at least fourteen times more likely that i would be alive during this papal resignation than each of the others, and in fact two and a half times as likely than all of the others put together.

Is this starting to look familiar?

Petrus Romanus is supposedly the next pope (who, incidentally, might not be European - the last non-European pope was in the seventh century).  The prophecies attributed to Malachy (which might actually be from Nostradamus, but that's another story) say the next pope will be the last and in fact, each pope, except maybe for Clement VI and Innocent VI, has stood a greater chance of being the last pope than his predecessor from the viewpoint of Christendom rather than their own.

Now imagine that instead of a papal resignation we're talking about some kind of doomsday scenario, and instead of it occurring on five possible occasions, it could have occurred at any time between the time attributed to Jesus's lifetime and the present day.  The chances of being alive at the end are greater now than ever before for the same reasons.

Therefore, in a sense "Malachy's" final prophecy stands a good chance of being accurate!