Tuesday, 26 March 2013


The first video is, for no particular reason, filmed outside:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/qcK8A .  Part I is here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPjF54RAAik&list=PLGWy7AFv1dkIn3UbP1E7XpvTAnXZY2yzv&index=9 .

This is a "morning after" video like the ones about us being an arrogant species and superficiality and depth.

First of all, i'm a little concerned that we may have been discussing a caricature of the idea of political correctness because none of us there was prepared to defend the position, although of course i made some attempt yesterday.  We can, however, transcend that by saying that the definition of political correctness on which the argument was based was taken from Wikipedia and reads as follows:

a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent.

Leaving off the end of that sentence is fine, incidentally.  We believed it was excessive, but for the purposes of this video, you needn't accept that.

Firstly, political correctness involves an attempt to avoid over-generalisation and recognises the flawed and possibly fallacious nature of inductive thought.  However, induction has to be used in order to function healthily and to abandon it completely would indeed be psychotic - almost literally, "political correctness gone mad".  Induction exists because of biological and social evolution and has been selected for.

Secondly, political correctness is an attempt to quantify ethically and politically acceptable behaviour.  It enables one to account for behaviour to an authority which may have legal force, and to convince oneself that one has done the "right thing".  In doing so, however, it misses out the messiness of empathic interaction in everyday life and as such may be more about making oneself feel better about what one does than actually doing well.  It reminds me of the Pharisees, in fact.

Actually, the reason this was done in the woody bit next to the erstwhile Bowstring Bridge is that i had to fit a lot in this morning, being assaulted as i was by incessant urges to make and upload videos, and this was a way of fitting two in today without it making the day unbearably frenetic.  I did, however, have some difficulty finding a quiet spot sheltered from the wind.  I'm happy with how it turned out though.

I also feel i should say we pursued a notion of political correctitude which was probably rather simplistic.  However, so do many advocates of the idea.

The second video is the reason i've entitled this entry as above, but seems to be a bit screwed up, which is a bit problematic.

Stop press:  it's now sorted and here it is:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/0aUyW .  Most people would probably either believe in the Fall literally and be creationist, probably Young Earth Creationist, or see it as a metaphor or allegory of a process we all go through in early life and believe in evolution, or of course they might reject both and simply believe in evolution as non-Christians.  I hold a third position.  Although i agree with the allegorical understanding of the Fall, i also think that it may reflect a series of real events.  Whereas i do present a particular hypothesis here, i'm not attached to it and am prepared to accept that i'm wrong.  In the context of the Fall, this is the correct and humble thing to do.  It would be perverse of me to assert that in spite of my sinfulness, limitation and proneness to error and self-serving "rational" thought, this is the definitive, correct version of events.  It's more presented as an illustration of how believing in a literal Fall is compatible with evolutionary theory.  I doubt anyone else at all believes this, including Christian palaeontologists and palaeoanthropologists.

This is my hypothesis:

Back in the Miocene, there were many different species of ape (incidentally, the Aegyptopithecus zeuxis in the video was not an ape although it was, like apes, a catarrhine primate - sorry about the mistake).  The climate back then was somewhat more humid and warmer than today, and there were widespread rainforests.  Apes were found in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Then, at the close of the Miocene, the climate became more arid.  This was due to the build up of ice, possibly due to the diversion of the Gulf Stream northwards and the appearance of snow in high latitudes, or orogeny (mountain building).  The following epoch, the Pliocene, was therefore more arid and the rainforests shrank.  Hence our ancestors were forced to survive on the savannah, where food sources were scarcer and not ideal nutritionally for a species which had evolved in the rainforest.  As a result, they effectively suffered from malnutrition, since the phytoestrogens and MAOIs in their diet were missing.  Even today it's possible to tell we are not eating the ideal diet because we cannot produce our own vitamin C.  This diet along with the harsh environment jointly led to a situation where foetuses did not develop healthily in the womb due to brain and hormonal problems, and the harsh environment and impairment of development combined to brutalise the species.  By the time of recorded history, this vicious cycle had been going on for many millenia and we had come to believe it was natural.  This is the biological explanation of how sin entered the world - this is the Fall, a uniquely human problem.

It's crucial to recognise two things about this.  One is that every single neurotypical individual since this event has been confronted with the choice to avoid or commit sin, and with one single exception throughout the whole of the history of the human race, every single one of us has chosen freely to sin.

As i said this is an hypothesis, but i also believe there is some evidence for it.  One is the behaviour of chimpanzees compared to that of bonobos.  The relative harshness of the environment of chimps has led to them being more aggressive than bonobos.  They are examples of the kind of thing which went "wrong" in the Pliocene and led to "Adam and Eve" being "expelled" from the Garden of Eden.

It may be possible to test this hypothesis via the analysis of wear and tear on fossil teeth, dating the production and nature of stone tools and the isotope ratios of calcium and phosphorus in fossilised bones, but it probably isn't.

OK, so it sounds completely insane, but as i say i'm not 100% attached to this idea.  I'm just presenting it to show that evolutionary theory is compatible with a literal Fall.

This is a bit crazy of course, but it's not about the specific hypothesis so much as the principle that a scientific world view including belief in evolution is compatible with belief in the Fall.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hole In My Shoe

Two videos today, plus a number of other conceptual videos there just wasn't time to upload - and i've lost a subscriber, probably from the Other Channel:

Music: 'Move Forward' by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/r4TW2

Since it's Easter and it's snowing, i thought i'd make a snow Easter Bunny, so here it is!

Then there's this:

 Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/01285 . I would define political correctness as language and other behavioural and cultural practices which seek to minimise offence to ostensibly oppressed or repressed identities, perhaps to an excessive degree, and in a sense as a form of politeness.  It's a near synonym to the terms right on, ideologically sound and looney left.  I'll defend it, then attack it.

First, to defend it, it is essentially a liberating enterprise and in a sense left wing.  It's therefore not surprising that those whose dominance is threatened by these practices refer to it pejoratively and turn it into a straw man.  Language and culture can be seen as determining our world views - the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - so the preparation of an environment where we are able to divide the world differently may be a positive thing.  Iain M Banks uses this idea in the Culture universe, where he posits the existence of the ultimately politically correct language, Marain.  In this language it's impossible to express gender or possession because the language cannot be structured in that way.

However, this very idea has been used by George Orwell in '1984' with his Newspeak and the Thought Police.  This can also be seen as a measure which prevents free thought.

I personally see the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis as flawed.  For instance, Islamic societies have sharply defined gender roles which is reflected in Arabic grammar.  This has feminine and masculine grammatical categories which are moreover more pervasive than those in most Indoeuropean languages because they extend even to verbal forms in the second person (although this does also occur in Indian languages).  This seems to corroborate the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.  However, there are a number of Islamic societies where the vernacular completely lacks grammatical gender, for instance the languages Indonesian, Malay and Persian have no grammatical gender at all whereas Swahili has something similar in noun classes but they don't separate different biological sexes.  Nonetheless these societies have strongly defined gender roles.  The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis fails to account for this.  I would say the reason is that sexism is so ingrained in those societies that nobody would even imagine a doctor was female, for example, and so language doesn't even need to have gender - the political incorrectness of those societies is reinforced so strongly elsewhere that doing it linguistically is redundant.

Political correctness can also be seen as a substitute for action.  Just as empty worship, prayer, petition-signing and protest can be a substitute for action, so can playing about with the minutiae of language or other behaviour.  It's a comforting form of slactivism rather than actually doing any good.  There's also an assumption that the view is correct, implying that one group of people have a monopoly on rationality, that rationality is achievable and desirable, that they are objective and that they have the justified true beliefs while others lack them.

Political correctness is partly about counteracting prejudice, for instance racism, sexism and homophobia, and as such is opposed to erroneous or fallacious conclusions reached as a result of inductive reasoning.  However, fallacious though inductive reasoning may be, it nevertheless enables us to reach true conclusions.

The whole phenomenon of political correctness is something on which i can't make up my mind.  It reminds me of  W. C. Sellar's and R. J. Yeatman's description of the Cavaliers and Roundheads in '1066 And All That' (copyright 1930 by Methuen & Co) as respectively Wrong but Wromantic and Right and Repulsive.  I have no idea what the answer is.

This second video is Part I of a two-part video, so that's one i've committed myself to making.  I also want to respond to Hypergraffiti on an evolutionary approach to the Fall, and there's possibly the most boring video ever made coming up, which will be about concrete, cement and limestone in accordance with the content of the GCSE chemistry syllabus, which frankly sounds so boring that it'll probably lose me subs unless i do it "stupidly".  So that's three videos just for tomorrow.

The first video is also the first time i've messed with timing or used a music track.  It was done on a whim, basically, insofar as setting anything up like that and then editing it can be described in those terms.

Now for more general points.  I'm having a bit of a problem with the whole channel now.  Right now, it seems to me that i can throw as much work as i like into it and it goes nowhere.  I get a few views, mainly from Facebook, then it dies a death after a couple of days.  I also get the impression that even on FB, people just look at the thumbnail and make a few general comments rather than actually watching the videos on the whole.  This is not to blame them, but i'm wondering what i'm doing wrong.  This is the perennial problem of not getting feedback - everything i do is completely in the dark and i have no idea whether that's just the result of a profile needing to be raised or people being too polite to criticise my work.  If it's the latter, my constant requests for criticism are apparently falling on deaf ears, perhaps because people stop watching after the first few seconds.  I'm aware that this is quite likely because the mean viewing time is about 20% of the video.

I am now strongly tempted to do a series of videos on religious themes but think it'll drive people away.  This is presumably why Hypergraffiti started her second channel.  In fact, i'm fully aware that my channel is too diverse and that probably a strength of the other one is its strong focus on a single theme.

Right:  Drink And Think looms.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Brothers In Arms

I'm ahead of myself.  Here's this evening's video:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/eM0yF .  I reject the Design and First Cause Arguments for the existence of God.  Should i also go further and conclude that Jesus is not a historical figure?  I look at the evidence.

Firstly, the references to Jesus in the work of Josephus are unreliable.  They appear to have been inserted at a later date, as the earliest quotes lack references to Jesus, they have a jarring style with the rest of the passages concerned and are a complete change of subject.  Therefore, they are probably forgeries.  With the Talmud, where the criterion of embarrassment can be applied, although there appear to be references to "Yeshua", they cannot be directly connected to the figure of Jesus as understood by Christians, and are therefore not very useful.

However, there are various reasons for supposing that he may have existed, by which i mean someone who founded Christianity, possibly as a Jewish sect, rather than the miracle-worker born of a virgin who rose from the dead.  The reason i think it's rational to believe this is that claimants to the title of Messiah have existed before and after his time and that it's a possible career for a nice Jewish boy.  Besides this, someone must have written the Sermon on the Mount and the other sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Q document.

Of course, i am being a little disingenuous here but i think this argument should be allowed to stand on its own rather than being affected by ad hominem.  Atheists who flat-out deny the possibility of Jesus's existence are going too far and not being genuinely sceptical.  Of course it's possible that he didn't exist, but it's a bold statement to say he didn't, and it seems to be more about maintaining a strong or extreme position than obeying the demands of logic.

Thisses sources include Holy Week and Hypergraffiti's fascinating series on Seventh Day Adventism, along of course with what i see as hyperpolarisation for irrational reasons.  At the same time, i am rather bothered by my own overstatement here, which is rather similar to the manic street preachers' sneaky manipulation of the truth as manifested in planting people in crowds and producing misleading publicity, which of course i've witnessed at first hand.  Even so, it is the case that both the Design and First Cause Arguments are fatally flawed and i have suggested that people follow the anno to the R&S playlist, so they can easily discover i'm theist if they engage, as is also the case if they read the description.  This gives me an insight into the position of annoying evangelists.  They clearly expect a straightforward message to be rejected early on and therefore  embellish their truth.

So, i'm also thinking about a Holy Week playlist, but of course that could scare a lot of people off so i'm going to have to go on a different tack.  I could bore people senseless with religious videos even though I find them fascinating, so it'll have to be circumlocutory.  So, whereas i can easily think of stuff to do on the doctrine of the Trinity, the Fall and theories of atonement, i think i'm going to have to ration myself there.  Fortunately i can also think of videos on chocolate and Easter eggs.  It's a fine balance.  Hypergraffiti has a knack of producing videos to which i want to respond, and i'm very glad she's decided to start this second channel.  In fact, i'm tempted to respond to her videos but it might annoy her and it certainly wouldn't generate views, though of course Theintrostealer is basically right in his approach.

Another aspect of this video is that it highlights splitting and polarisation for simplicity's sake, along with faux scepticism, so all that's interesting.  Also, Drink And Think is coming up and that's going to be about political correctness, so i ought to put a video together on that.  However, tomorrow is also Big Science, in hypothesis.

It amazes me that people run out of ideas for videos.  This may indicate that i have no quality filter and that they have as many as i get, then realise they're awful and forget them.  Or, it may mean that they're busy or that they've been uploading so long that they have run out of ideas, or that they're more focussed, something which worries me.

Anyway, list of potential videos on Easter:

  • Chocolate
  • Easter Eggs (metaphorical)
  • Atonement
  • The Fall
The ones i'm missing out are in my head too but i don't want to hector people about the Lawerd.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Throw The R Away

Accent Tag:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/uoa4S
Aspersive's channel is:  www.youtube.com/channel/aspersive .  Please visit his channel!

YouTube Accent Tag/Challenge:

The Words:
Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Naturally, Aluminium, Envelope

The Questions:
1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
2. What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
4. What do you call gym shoes?
5. What do you say to address a group of people?
6. What do you call the kind of spider (or spider-like creature) that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
7. What do you call your grandparents?
8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
9. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

This is one of those standard YouTube things which in general i should either do more or less of.  Nonetheless, it interests me rather a lot because i'm interested in language and accents generally.

You can see, incidentally, that this video depends particularly strongly on the description compared to most of the others i've uploaded, which raises the question in my mind of how many people read descriptions or comments.  I suspect that the average viewer's approach to YouTube is to see each video in isolation.  Thinking back to the days before 6649, when Imrational piqued me sufficiently to induce me to start my channel so i could reply to his video on herbalism, i probably thought of it that way too.  Incidentally, and sorry to harp on about him again, i have a horrible feeling my channel is older than Charlie's and that the three of us (Nineteenthly, Sleepoversweet and Sonicissocoollike, now known as Theintrostealer) were pretty early subscribers of his channel.  However, in spite of his self-doubt after Blade376's criticism where he deleted all his videos, unlike me he didn't institute the idiotic policy of deleting every video which got fewer than a gross of views in the first week after uploading.  Having said that, i'm under no illusions about the alternative status of this channel, though it is a bit annoying that the Uddiyana Bandha and wee-wee drinking vids are the only ones left from that "era" - even my reply to Imrational is gone.

Anyway, it so happens that this video, like that one, is a reply to Aspersive, whose channel is here.  Though he has yet to upload many videos, i think he would appreciate the audience and feedback, as uploading videos to a deafening silence is most disconcerting and unhelpful, rather like writing a blog nobody reads, so just in case you happen to be reading this i would implore you to click on that link.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Don't Look Down


There is a great variety of phobias, some of which are common and extensions of more rational fears, such as acrophobia (heights), arachnophobia (spiders), the dark, loud noises, balloons popping and thunder or loud noises.  These generally make sense, although probably the hardest to understand is arachnophobia, at least in the British Isles.  There is also a "second league", as it were, of phobias such as buttons, cotton wool balls and being overwhelmed by peacocks.  I myself have a button phobia.  In these cases, there may not be so much a reason as a cause.  For instance, i believe my button phobia is based on an instinctive aversion to skin blemishes such as sores, blisters, boils and warts, which we have because it means we avoid infection or sexual partners who are not going to be good at parental care or even pregnancy.  Of course, in my case this fear misfired and became a button phobia.  It is quite disabling in fact, because it makes it hard for me to dress formally and would impair me going to job interviews or working in offices.  It was actually really hard for me to make this video because of the buttons in it.

Similar to phobias are forms of epilepsy with very specific stimuli.  There is a case on record of a man whose seizures were triggered off by the sight of an open safety pin.  It's fairly easy to imagine a form of epilepsy triggered by seeing or feeling buttons.  More commonly, epilepsy can be triggered by strobe lighting of course, and certain kinds of "op art" can also cause fits in some people.  This brings me back to the idea of being overcome by peacocks, because this is a phobia but also, for the peacock, a sexual display.

Sexual kinks, deviations, paraphilias, perversions, call them what you will, similarly can have an explanation based on cause and effect where an early experience starts one on an idiosyncratic sexual career.  A fairly well-known example would be feet and shoes - many people think the reason shoe and foot fetishism is so common is that they are in the line of sight of crawling babies and that the association can therefore grow quite easily.  Other kinks are more arcane and seem to be in-born, but the archetypes are often fairly clear, examples being leather, rubber (skin-like), inflation (erection or pregnancy-like), vaporization and disintegration (orgasm), looners (both) and so on.  BDSM - bondage and whips - is perhaps more complex and harder to explain in this way.

In other words, i think fetishes and other sexual kinks are the other side of the coin to phobias, and that both are linked to epilepsy.  It's obvious why someone with unusual sexual desires might want to keep them - they derive a lot of pleasure from them - but less obvious why someone with a phobia would want to retain that.  My answer is twofold in fact, and i only addressed one issue in the video.  Firstly, as stated, it's part of me and i think i need to accept myself as i am.  Secondly, to be honest a world with buttons in it is just wrong and it needs to change to accommodate the needs of us button phobics, even though we're a tiny minority.

...and along came an asbestos spider!  Which will either help or hinder, i think.  I may have struck it lucky through having made a video which mentions spiders just as the asbestos tarantula news broke.  Consequently, i've cheated and inserted the tag "asbestos". People are afraid of asbestos, after all, though probably not phobic.

There really could be a world without buttons though.  As a child, i used to imagine a world with no buttons or wheels, which was however high-tech.  It had touch-sensitive panels and sliders instead of push-buttons and knobs respectively.  I was strongly influenced by Arthur C Clarke's idea of air cushion vehicles, which ironically did use rotary motion because of the propellers and fans.  I have, however, considered the idea of a peristaltic hovercraft which pushes itself up by farting air down forcefully.  It wouldn't be very quiet of course, so active noise cancellation, another obsession of mine.  And then there's the Caroline Timeline of course.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

O Superman

Two vids today, both short:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/SwVfU . Back when i was a child, i had the opportunity to go on a plane to an island across a lake on a school trip, but a mix-up meant it didn't happen.  Later on, i almost went down a coal mine but again, things got in the way and i couldn't.  On numerous other occasions, it looked like i was about to go either up or down from the ground or the sea, but it never happened.  Planes would be cancelled, hovercraft would be full and so forth.  I eventually came to the conclusion that i was destined never to leave the surface of the Earth, and that if i ever did, something terrible would happen, not to me, but to other people.

Eventually, when i was thirty-four, someone bought me a plane ticket to Madrid.  I got on the plane, fully expecting the engine to break down or something, but it didn't.  We left the ground without incident, flew to Madrid, spent a week there visiting friends and came back to Heathrow (incidentally, there's another story about getting to and back from Madrid which i'll share with you all eventually).  The plane landed, nothing terrible seemed to have happened, and we went home without incident.

The date was September 10, 2001.

(hence the title - more of that in a minute), and:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/5_hsX . Welcome to this channel, where you will find videos on herbalism, home education, general education, philosophy, religion and spirituality, vlogs and more.  I upload videos daily.  Please subscribe and share.  Feedback exceedingly welcome!

Blog:  homeedandherbs.blogspot.co.uk
Scribd:  http://www.scribd.com/mark_ure
Home ed:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkLgy8KF5RPpwzC1M2YIperO
Herbalism:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkKmeQeRYJZ1K9PBzpZgZiJS
Philosophy:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkIn3UbP1E7XpvTAnXZY2yzv
"Crossdressing":  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkKEBO8U7Y93Kj92zpgFZ86u
  Science videos:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkKMpILsypJDc0ILyyKY317q
Religion and Spirituality:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGWy7AFv1dkLGH_AX6StQ23xl0IjqmW1d
All playlists:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa-j3lgC_ThPt9Ggov0yIyA/videos?view=1&feature=guide

 This second one is my trailer video.  I hope it works better than the ad hoc trailer video i plonked there because it happened to be working quite well and it'd be really annoying (and typical) if the one explicitly intended as a trailer works less well.

So today's quite atypical.  The first video is a response to Wheezywaiter again.  The thumbnail it's showing me is the original one, which i changed because it shows a plane with livery appearing to be about to crash into me.  I decided this was bad taste, so i changed it.  The story is, now i come to think of it, remarkable.

Let's take this slowly.  First of all, the first video is to do with the title, not the second.  'O Superman' is a well-known, possibly the only well-known, Laurie Anderson song.  I was very keen on her in the early 'eighties along with a lot of other forgotten performance artists such as Sylvia Zaradic (i think) in an earlier incarnation of my identity, now almost completely submerged and unknown to anyone outside my family.  I alluded to it yesterday in the Aspie video.

Back to the point though.  Here are the lyrics to 'O Superman', copyright Laurie Anderson and Warner Bros i imagine:

O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a
message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you
coming home?
Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don't know me,
but I know you.
And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come
as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.

And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said:
This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes.
They're American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom
of night shall stay these couriers from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
And when justive is gone, there's always force.
And when force is gone, there's always Mom. Hi Mom!

So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me,
Mom, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
In your electronic arms. 

I can't say i'm any further forward than i was in 1981 in my understanding of this song.  Leaving everything else aside, it lends itself very much to the projection of different interpretations which say more about the listener than the composer, although of course some would say that's always so.  I long lost the qualification to comment meaningfully on that - i never, ever play basketball now.  I should also mention in passing that the name Big Science is also inspired partly by Laurie Anderson.  Notable projections of meaning onto the lyrics include my own understanding of a connection to Olaf Stapledon's 'Last And First Men', specifically the incident where an American invasion of Europe is stopped by a nuclear weapon, thereby dooming the human race to millenia of spiritual and moral bankruptcy (which come to think of it may not be too wide of the mark considering that it's apparently partly inspired by the Iranian hostage crisis), a friend's interpretation in terms of Jungian psychology, and most of all that it's a prophetic vision of 9/11.  It is of course possible with hindsight to look at my own attitude to flying in the same light, but in fact that's very much a post hoc interpretation.

Rather more interesting is the Nostradamus quatrain connected to the same incident.  First of all, here's the quatrain:

Cinq & quarante degrés ciel bruslera,
Feu approcher de la grand cité neufve,
Instant grand flamme esparse sautera,
Quand on voudra des Normans faire preuve.

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees,
fire approaches the great New City.
Immediately a huge, scattered flame leaps up
when they want to have proof of the Normans. 

This looks like gibberish of course, but what's interesting about it is that Erika Cheetham's interpretation, for which i have just ransacked the house unsuccessfully by the way, is that it's about an attack on a NYC skyscraper by a plane.  Even more interestingly, so-called "sceptics" have since claimed that this is an interpretation with hindsight.  Well, it isn't, which is one reason i put quotes around the word "sceptics" just then.  At some point i need to address the issue of the precise nature of scepticism, along with about fifteen billion other things.  There is a fake quatrain floating around of course, but it isn't this one.

 I sort of feel like i'm getting submerged into the nuts and bolts of making this channel work.  The Wheezywaiter response is fine, but it means i can't comment on the press regulation issue today and it's losing topicality.  The trouble is, i think both are forms of rigidity.  I would prefer to get a good run of on-topic videos, but i also want to participate in the YouTube community, such as it is.  Incidentally, i don't think this is what Craig really wants but it's what i've got.  It sort of treads on the toes of the bereaved as well, which feels risky.

 As to the trailer, it also makes me a bit nervous every time i post the "Custard Boobs" thumbnail:

...and there it is again.  Oh dear.  Then again, i need to make a video on non-Newtonian fluids, which has however been waylaid by my inability to track down any silly putty.

Holly Holdsworth approved my response, which is nice.  No interaction though.  Don't think that means anything at all.  I must stop being a drama queen.  Maybe that's something i can learn from doing YT.



Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Iko Iko

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/Wqcf2 .  I want to say first of all that i'm very much a fan of the "disabling world" view of disability and not so much a fan of the medical paradigm of mental "illness", so that informs my perspective.  I also think the use of the term "neurotypical" on an equal footing with "autism" and similar such phrases is more useful than seeing Asperger's as a disorder and "ordinary" interpersonal behaviour as healthy.  Incidentally, it's not now fashionable to see Asperger's as a separate diagnosis but as a position on the autistic spectrum.

The traditional view of Asperger's is that it involves a low degree of empathy combined with clumsiness, stereotypical or obsessive behaviour and getting bogged down in details.  I would say that it's more to do with the blizzard of stimuli not being filtered for the appropriate interpersonal cues to be noticed, which means that people don't learn to interact empathically in the first place.  I have reasons for this but no time to go into them right now.

So the question is, am i Aspie?  I would say that i have some of the features of people on the autistic spectrum but also lack very many of them.  For instance, my approach to the Bible is largely figurative and metaphorical rather than literary, despite current appearances i am very much more an arty, literary person than a sciency person, and my work requires a very high degree of empathy with my patients.  I also experience sympathy pain and other symptoms a lot.  I am also frequently overwhelmed by people's opinions and feelings in a way which others seem not to be so much.  This suggests to me that i don't lack empathy.  At the same time, it is the case that i focus excessively on detail, am rather obsessive and also clumsy.

However, i see interpersonal behaviour as a challenge to which i rise and what's actually behind this is two things:  social anxiety and ageing.  I am in a sense lazy and try to avoid going into these things precisely because i feel them too strongly.

You might want to take a look at some of my other videos and decide for yourselves on this limited evidence whether my behaviour looks like that of someone on the autistic spectrum.  Then again, you also have to remember that, deliberately or not, everyone projects a persona on YouTube and you're also seeing a particular period of my life.

Let me know what you think.

Now to blog at a rate of knots!  Basically, i don't accept that ASD is ideally a useful category.  Whereas it outlines a set of characteristics which certain people have in common, we live in a disabling world and it's more about the interactions between that world and that of those people where the problems emerge.  In some ways the world is becoming friendlier to people on the autistic spectrum but as it stands, and as it has been for many millenia, perhaps forever, it has not generally done so, although presumably if it does reflect a lack of empathy, and i don't think it does as such, it may originally have been the state in which all our ancestors were.

Here's why i don't think it reflects a lack of empathy, or at least that if it does it's overdiagnosed:

  • A child who was diagnosed with autism used to take delight in winding up other people, and whereas it may just have been the excitement of the resultant sensory stimuli of shouting, screaming and running away, to me that reflects a desire for attention and probably a recognition that there are such things as other people.
  • A child who was expected to spend time with an estranged father would play up just before she went because she wanted to see it as a treat but was aware that her siblings got to spend as much time as they wanted with both parents, who were still together.
Both of those situations involved children who were supposedly on the autistic spectrum.  If they were, how would you explain that behaviour?  Am i just attributing this to them and imagining it or what?  I don't know.

This has had to be brief because i'm out the door in a couple of minutes, so there it is.  Bye!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Taxman

Yeah i know, it was like "Imagine no possessions" as Lennon sat there in the video in his enormous house with his enormous piano and so on.  But it's a song title relevant to this video:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/e3m31 . The Inland Revenue seriously need to get themselves sorted out.

This video, actually, is also connected to my firm belief that there are no bad people, only bad groups of people.  I have nothing against anyone personally in the HMRC, but think their organisation leaves a lot to be desired.

To set things out clearly, the situation is this.  We have until recently been a partnership rather than sole traders because we wanted to set ourselves up as a complementary therapy business into which people could buy annual membership if they chose and also to receive fees from charities to provide respite care and the like.  Unfortunately, this didn't materialise, but we stayed as a partnership.  As a result, we filed both the SA800 partnership tax return and the SA100 personal tax return.  Initially, this was done either by post or in person by going down the local tax office and handing in the forms, but we were repeatedly told we had not filed when we had and could not provide evidence due to the fact that like some other public bodies, the HMRC do not issue receipts for the documents received - the same is true, for example, of Job Centres.  As a result, we chose to file online.

The system whereby the SA100 personal self-assessment tax return is filed is straightforward and free at the point of use.  However, filing an SA800 partnership tax return requires the purchase of commercial software for the task, which only runs on Windows and possibly Macs rather than open source operating systems or Android.  We had a cashflow problem and a hardware problem which made it impossible for us to purchase such software for quite some time, so i wrote to HMRC informing them of this.  This was some time after i had written to them informing them that i now considered myself solely responsible for the partnership tax affairs because of my wife's health problems (which i won't disclose here out of respect for her).

We were, naturally, charged £10 a day per partner for not completing a partnership tax return.  I wrote a letter of complaint to them about this, and have now paid most of my own £770 fine.  However, my wife was also charged in spite of my letter to them, which they said they could not trace.  It also proved impossible to contact them online or by telephone, hence this video.  There was also a glaring spelling mistake in the letter, which did not contribute to my confidence in their ability to do the job properly.  They also stated that the software ("softwear") situation would not change.

My specific objections to the situation are as follows:

- HMRC should either provide both SA800 and SA100 for free or charge for both.
- We have no moral obligation to pay the late fee, although legal coercion will of course be brought to bear upon us.

Since the HMRC is naturally and should be a monopoly and competition would open them up to incompetence, bureaucracy and the interference of commercial interests, it is particularly incumbent upon them to be fair and rational in their dealings with taxpayers.  They are not.  The main problem is communication, but there are a number of others, such as the existence of software for a need which they themselves have created, but which is provided by private companies.  That in particular looks suspicious to me.  Clearly it would not be expedient to charge sole traders because it would be unpopular, but it's inconsistent to charge partnerships for software which has no need to exist, and the whole process has brought HMRC into disrepute in my view, which is something they're not supposed to do.

Obviously this is something different.  I am honestly trying to get through to HMRC with this video because they have a history of failing to acknowledge my attempts to communicate with them, so instead of sending them letters, i've simply decided to do this instead in the vain hope it might go viral on the back of the recent news story about the poor performance of the Inland Revenue.  You never know.

Really what i should be doing, and in fact plan to do this aften, is put together a slideshow on Blueberry and Unrealistic, so that's what i'll do.  Tomorrow's vid will probably be on Asperger's.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Lip Up Fatty

I always hear this as "Lipo Fatty".  This is on lipids:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/6XBka .  Lipids are small organic molecules which include fats and oils produced by living things.

I was rather surprised to find lipids on the GCSE chemistry syllabus, but they nevertheless are!

Fats and fixed oils are generally triglycerides of fatty acids.  There are also mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids such as the food additive E471.  Each molecule is based on glycerol, commonly known as glycerine, an alcohol with three hydroxyl (-OH) groups.  Alcohols are simply organic compounds with hydroxyl groups and include the familiar ethanol or ethyl alcohol, but also a large number of other compounds not generally thought of as alcohol such as phenol and retinol (vitamin A)  These groups are dropped in favour of three fatty acids, which can be the same or different from each other.  A fatty acid is a long-chain organic acid which, apart from the carboxyl group (-COOH) which makes it acidic, may contain zero, one or several double bonds between its carbon atoms.  Saturated fats contain no double bonds, monounsaturates one and polyunsaturates several.  Examples of saturated fatty acids include palmitic and stearic, found in palm oil and lard, monounsaturated fatty acids include oleic acid, which is found in olive oil, and polyunsaturates include arachidonic acid, which is a component of peanut oil.  Lauric acid is a small fatty acid with a twelve-carbon chain.

Fats and oils mainly differ in melting point, with fats having a melting point above 20 Celsius (Centigrade) and oils below it.  A few oils, such as walnut and grape seed oil, have a melting point fairly close to room temperature and are therefore waxy or solidify in cold conditions such as in warehouses.  Saturated fats are also harder than unsaturated ones, and tend to be animal products rather than vegetable, though there are exceptions such as coconut oil.

Saturated fats are widely considered to be worse for the health than unsaturated ones, although this applies to cis fats rather than trans, of which more later.  They are often considered to be a factor in the furring up of the arteries which contributes to heart disease and circulatory problems, also including strokes.  There are certain things i'm not saying in this video because of the nature of the subject.

As unsaturated fats are less viscous than saturated, they are sometimes altered to make them thicker so they can be used in margarine.  This is done by bubbling hydrogen through vegetable oil in the presence of nickel as a catalyst, which buckles the fatty acid residues into L shapes, making them tend to hook onto each other and therefore thickening them.  This is probably very unhealthy.  A rare biological example of trans fat is found in sebum, the bactericidal secretion which keeps skin oily.  Heating a cis fatty acid can also convert it to a saturated form, but again this is unhealthy.

Oils are also important in emulsions.  These are suspensions of droplets of one liquid in another, achieved by means of saponins, detergents and other emulsifiers.  Examples of these include margarine, skin cream and mayonnaise.

Finally, vegetable oil can be made into biodiesel.  There are plenty of videos on here which address that process and i don't know the details, so i'll leave that to them, but in general terms, potassium hydroxide is added to remove the glycerol, which is itself then removed and the potassium is then replaced with hydrogen.  However, this is controversial as it drives up the cost of oil crops which could be used as food and also means that more land is devoted to fuel crops rather than food.

 I keep feeling i'm missing the spot with what i'm doing.  This is OK as an educational video although i feel i shouldn't gloss over the biodiesel and TFA controversy quite as much as i should.  However, i also seem to be making the wrong videos somehow.  I'm also rather surprised this is even on the GCSE chemistry syllabus, although i am aware that hydrogenation of vegetable oil was part of the GCSE i studied in 1993.

One thing i am happy with, though, is the outro screen:

I really need to start making more elaborate videos, but they'll take time.

Oh, who am i kidding?  Nobody's reading this anyway.  Bye.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

...and a strange and growing restlessness had hung in the air all day

I haven't made a video today because of the fact i made two yesterday, but i'm a little concerned about them because i think i was in a bit of a weird state of mind on Saturday.  The problem seemed to be a combination of fatigue (did Nitelite the previous night) and isolation, which is why i need to inject reality, but how?  I'm trying.

I'm working through my list and adding to it.  Someone wants a non-Newtonian fluid video, so that's coming, probably the day after tomorrow.  I also need to do a subscriber trailer.  The list on FB now reads as follows:

Am I My Brain?
Special Relativity.
Twerking while talking about Heidegger - learning to twerk.
Does My Bum Look Big In This?
The Dad Meal.
Herbalism As Cybernetics - made a start.
Overvalued Ideas.
Coughs and Colds.
Writing an Ed Phil.
Tablet Turing Test.
Non-Newtonian Fluids.

I should also add the Grey Goo Scenario and tomorrow's vid on vegetable oils.

To be honest, one thing that's blocking me (having dealt temporarily with the other - more on that later) is that some of these videos will probably take a long time to make.  The Tablet Turing Test in particular needs three videos, quite a lot of scripting and careful audio editing.  It's probably worthwhile.

OK, here's my little bit of internal mental drama.  After yesterday's first video:

i hid away because i was concerned about a certain person's reaction.  However, i now realise that the most likely explanation for the complete lack of a reaction is that she simply hasn't been on YT in the past couple of days, which makes me want to fiddle with the image to make the moustache enormous or keep growing it until she responds.  However, the real fact is that she has a life and is doing other stuff, even if she considered it appropriate to respond, which is probably not the case.  All this stuff is going on in my own head, and it's hard to know what to do about that.

Anyway, the "strange and growing restlessness" i mentioned in the title is to do with my feeling of impending doom.  In fact, i seem to live my life under a cloud of looming doom.  Not sure what to do about that, since it's being going on since the '70s.  In this particular case, it's to do with the line i've just crossed, but almost certainly that'll not be the biggest deal.  The big deal will probably be the indifference.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Two For The Price Of One

They do say that you should seize opportunities and i'm wondering if there's one here:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/JP5en .  This is a bit of a departure from the usual routine, and it does apply more generally but it is actually addressed to someone local, which is a bit weird.  However, what i'm saying also applies to every vlogger.

From time to time, i get blocked on YouTube, not because i run out of ideas, however bad they may be, but because i want to make a particular video but am too shy to make it, and it distracts me from what i'm trying to do.  This is an example of that.

I often try to address people personally in videos as well as intending them for a wider audience because it makes them more meaningful, i feel.  However, on the whole i usually talk to people i know personally, as with the Big Science vids, or big YouTubers in the wider community, who are often thousands of miles away.  This is different.  I'm trying to talk to you because you are neither someone i know nor a stranger on the other side of the planet, but a stranger who is local.  Therefore, i feel a bit weird about this, but it's important to take risks.

I have my own story to tell for this channel, which is that when our children went to college, in order to avoid empty nest syndrome i started to make daily YouTube vlogs and other videos, which is what this channel is.  You have your own perspective and your own world, and when i watch your videos i see this neighbourhood through your eyes.  This is important because it's exactly the kind of thing YouTube is good at.  It's very easy to look at someone from afar whom you know you'll never meet and criticise or admire them, but quite a bit more scary to engage with a person who is a stranger, though only two degrees of separation from you, to make the same kind of approach.

So, this is sort of me trying to get over the hurdle of this video being in the way of other stuff i want to make for YouTube, but as it's blocking me and i ought to say something, i've put it out there.  Please do keep making vlogs because they're good and they show your inestimable value, and reveal the true complexity of the world on a personal level, which i think is really good!

I feel very nervous about this video, but nothing ventured i suppose.  Also, it was blocking me, which is interesting.  I've noticed recently that if i have an idea for a video which i really want to make but am nervous about, it makes it harder for me to concentrate on the ones i make in the meantime and they become a form of displacement activity on which i'm not really focussed.  Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to grasp the nettle, grit my teeth and just do it, so i have.  God knows what's going to happen now.  Probably nothing very much.

Having unblocked myself, i found it quite easy to make this:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/f6O9H .  For some time now i've been puzzling over the nature of the GCSE syllabus, with its excessive focus on inorganic chemistry, aqueous solutions of acids and alkalis and concentration on the lighter elements in the periodic table, and i have now reached the inescapable conclusion that it was written by aliens.

Clearly the beings concerned do not have parental care or family life, so they're likely to reproduce asexually.  Nor are they individuals, so they must live as some kind of hive mind.  Like us, they use water, but the planet they originate from seems to be low in heavier elements.  Then i hit on the ideal candidate:  the Horlanians.  These are termite-like beings which reproduce asexually using a light inorganic compound found in the upper atmosphere of their planet and which therefore live in sky cities.  However, they do need water.  These are clearly the entities which wrote the GCSE chemistry syllabus and to be honest, i think they probably run the AQA.

This follows on from yesterday's blog entry of course.  It's yet to be public, although it's in the playlists and linked to in the other video.  This means i can now have a proper Sabbath without ending up sitting in church thinking about vids other than the ones on the screen.  It can be quite difficult to be truly offline nowadays.

That alien, incidentally, is a very early attempt of mine to draw a Martian.  It's kind of a companion to a M`ubv but is nothing like how i imagine a Horlanian looks.  Amazingly, up until i typed the above, the only place the word "Horlanian" appeared on the web was on this blog.  It's odd how many things i'd expect to be found through Google are in fact still obscure, and how easy it is to come up with nothing, easier for me than others in fact.

So, i suppose i just have to sit back and wait for nothing to happen now, which at least stops me from looking obsessively at the view count.  On that subject, my current view count on the Other Channel is now 480 523.  Vidstatsx forecasts that i will reach half a million on the 8th May.  This tempts me into making more videos for that channel, and in fact i now have a series, the hypnosis videos and a live action sequence in mind and almost did them today.  That's probably about nine more videos, and the scripts for the series are almost finished now.  If the two other hypnosis videos perform as well as the one that's there already, which incidentally is less popular than the Soundcloud versions of the others, it should get me well on the way.  It's had 5097 views in the past three months.  Taking the other two as the same, that gets me to 490 000 using those videos alone.  I've also just noticed it's got NINE thumbs ups!  NINE!  Someone else has a request too.  In fact, it's looking like i probably should go over there and do some more stuff in the next few days.  Ulp.  It's only fair to my subscribers though.

Oh yeah, something annoying:   the silicon video views were in single figures all day and comments on FB seem to indicate that people haven't been watching it.  I wonder how often that happens.

Friday, 15 March 2013

It's Life Jim, But Not As We Know It

Never has a title been more appropriate!  Right!  There's this:

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/600hU . The idea of silicon-based life is a staple of science fiction and has been used in many places, including Star Trek (property of Paramount) and Doctor Who (property of the BBC).  However, is it really possible?

All life known to science on this planet is organic - it has carbon-based chemistry.  Most of what it's made of is water, but leaving that aside, most of the compounds making it up, the "nuts and bolts" of biochemistry as it were, are organic.  They are generally large molecules containing chains or rings of mainly carbon atoms.  This is because a large number of different kinds of compounds are needed to make even the simplest single-celled living thing on this planet, because in turn biochemistry is very complex, and the element with the most complex chemistry is carbon.  However, it's often suggested that silicon-based life is also possible.

Silicon, like carbon, can produce chains and rings and complex compounds with large molecules can be made of it, such as silicone rubber, silly putty and silicone oil.  It's also much more common than carbon on this planet.  In theory, any organic chemical has a silicon-based equivalent and in some cases the compounds are actually known to exist, such as silane, disilane and trisilane, analogous to methane, ethane and propane respectively.  It does look at first glance that silicon-based life is possible.

However, looking at it more closely, as usual, makes things more complicated.  The Miller-Urey experiment in 1952 involved passing an electrical spark through a mixture of chemicals thought to be found in Earth's early atmosphere, specifically methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, water vapour and ammonia, and it was found that in fact, given this mixture, many chemicals from which living things are made were formed, such as glycine, several other amino acids and sugars, along with bitumen (tar).  It would be interesting to repeat this experiment with silane instead of methane, and in fact i've written this about it elsewhere:


However, it can't be guaranteed that a primitive alien atmosphere would be high in silane or other silicon-based gases, and although the known molecules in clouds of gas in space are of various kinds, but all the large ones are carbon-based and there are about 120 of them known compared to about ten known chemicals which contain silicon.  Therefore it seems unlikely that a planet would have the right kind of silicon compounds on it for silicon-based life to arise naturally.

Having said that, even life on this planet does use silicon-based compounds such as silica glass, opal and silicic acid, often for structural purposes.  The Venus Flower Basket sponge, diatoms and radiolaria all have glass skeletons and there are also examples of animals which have used transparent minerals as lenses for their eyes such as trilobites, which however had calcite (calcium carbonate) eyes.  It's conceivable that life elsewhere is keener on using silicon-based compounds in other ways than life here, for instance as bones, teeth, eye lenses, stings and horns, or whatever their equivalents are on those planets.  Such structures can be made by living things from glass, examples being nettle stings and the "scouring powder" ash derived from horsetails.  The difficulty, i think, would be the production of substances like silicones and siloxanes from raw materials, although for all i know enzymes making those are possible.

Although this seems to rule out the idea of natural silicon-based life, i wouldn't go so far as to bin the idea.  There is a project to make a minimal cell, which is the simplest possible cell which could function at all.  Just because our biochemistry is complex and needs thousands of different chemicals to make it work doesn't mean that's the only way life can exist.  I think it's conceivable that a new, silicon-based form of biotechnology would be able to produce a living organism based on silicon, and that this might even have replaced organic life in some places.  I can see this going two ways:  the "Grey Goo Scenario", where silicon-based microbes or devices turn much of the surface of a planet into copies of themselves and a silicon-based ecosystem evolves, similar to the oxygen catastrophe on this planet, or perhaps the opposite situation where a silicon-based life form has such special requirements that it can only exist within a specialised environment and is actually specifically designed as silicon-based to avoid the Grey Goo Scenario.

So i do think silicon-based life is possible, though not "natural" life (whatever that means), and that there could also be biospheres where life uses more silicon than it does on Earth.

Thumbnail based on an image by Mateuszica at the English language Wikipedia.  All other images public domain, from the NOAA (Venus Flower Basket) and University of Tasmania.

You might remember this:

It's an old standby of SF, but also possibly real - watch the video and you'll see why i think so.  I've also started a playlist on extraterrestrial life, which so far only has two videos on it, one of which is this:

This is so old that i actually look younger on it!

However, my main motive for making the first video is not so much the question of extraterrestrial life so much as the question of which species wrote the GCSE syllabus, because it seems not to have been one which had instinctive curiosity, was self-motivated or had much individual variation.  I imagine it was rather termite-like, perhaps the Horlanians.  Here's a painting of a Horlanian sky city:

I may have to fiddle with the size of that one.

The Horlanians live quite close to us.  It's hard to work out exactly how far but it's more distant than Asterion, which is twenty-seven light years away, but closer than Ras Algethi, which is three hundred and sixty, so that's probably about the roughest estimate i've ever made!  They're hexapodal asexual termite-like life forms which are presumably not silicon-based but are sentient, who have got really unlucky with their planet some time towards the start of our last ice age.  The orbits of Horlan and Taban were quite close to each other, to the extent that they came close to colliding and Horlan was devastated by tidal forces, leading the Horlanians to leave the planet.  However, they were only a Phase II civilisation, so they were not able to leave the system and instead colonised Taban itself.  Their method of reproduction requires a substance carried in the atmosphere and they fertilise each other using aerial gametes.  Because their original planet is the source of the substance, they were driven to the brink of extinction, but discovered that it was being carried into space by volcanic eruptions on Horlan, then captured by Taban, where it was richest in the upper atmosphere.  They therefore built sky cities in which they now live.

All that besides, i think these are the people who run the AQA.

You see, the thing about madness is that it can be a form of escapism and when it is, that escapism can be marketable.  I really must get round to talking about marketable madness soon, because it's worth it.

I'm not expecting this video to perform particularly well, but it was on the list and fairly easy to do.  It's also too long of course, but what can you do?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

New Rose - Blue Hotel

Two videos, done in the past two days:

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

So now we know why Alex Day sticks that graphic at the end of all his videos along with six other things about him.

Blue roses are symbolic of impossibility and attempting to achieve the impossible. There's a poem by Rudyard Kipling called "Blue Roses", now in the public domain:

ROSES red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies—
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest—
Roses white and red are best!

Many years ago, my girlfriend sent me a bunch of flowers and i thought it was a nice gesture but didn't give it much thought beyond that. It was a fairly casual relationship and we split up shortly after. I got married. Many years later, i found a photo in which that bouquet happened to be present and i got curious, so i looked up the meaning in a book. I found that the flowers were used in that way to declare undying love. I could in theory have chosen to pursue this, but since i had a life, was happily married and so forth, i obviously didn't. If i had, it would've been the pursuit of a mirage, an illusion, because as it happens, i'm completely convinced that the flowers meant nothing. So, in a sense, she sent me a bunch of blue roses and it would be an over-interpretation and an example of over-thinking.

There are two ways of making a blue rose. One, which doesn't really make a blue rose at all, involves genetic modification and ends with a lilac-coloured rose which is however simply called and advertised in the media as a blue rose, so that's an illusion of its own. The other is to put a white rose in something blue, such as ink, and allow the capillaries to draw up the colour, making it blue. Neither of these are real of course.

So basically, blue roses are illusions, which is appropriate because they are herbs of Venus, which are about superficial appearance.

Click to tweet:  http://clicktotweet.com/hrV6g . What if this Pope is the last?  What would the consequences for the world be?

The prophecies attributed to St Malachy claim that the new Pope, Francis I, will be the last, referring to him as Petrus Romanus.  Whereas i'm not sure what i think about the list, it's certainly conceivable that scandals and secularisation could bring the Roman Catholic church to an end.  However, would this be a good thing?

I'm Protestant, and am therefore quite cynical about the Papacy.  I am also aware of the Roman Catholic opposition to homosexual activity, women priests, contraception, abortion and believe their stance on contraception has contributed to the spread of AIDS.  However, this first non-European Pope since Gregory III died in 741 may also be more in touch with the poor and more aware of the apparent hypocrisy the wealth and opulence of St Peter's basilica in the Vatican seems to represent.

One of the positive things about Roman Catholicism is its acknowledgement that it is asserting its own authority explicitly.  Though it believes itself to have a privileged position with respect to Scriptural (Biblical) interpretation, it at least acknowledges that fact.  Some Protestant churches, though they claim to follow Sola Scriptura, in fact follow an unacknowledged, prejudiced form of church authority.  You can go into these churches with the understanding that your own prayerful, listening understanding of the Bible will be accepted and then find that in fact there is an implicit "church line" on the matters concerned, and that they will neither listen to you (and therefore possibly also God's will) or admit that that's what they're doing, even to themselves.  Because the Catholic church has "DOGMA", it fully acknowledges what it's official position is, and this is healthier than the insidious presentation of dogma and church authority as Holy Writ found in certain Reformed churches.  This is of course a gross generalisation.

In spite of the historical conflict between science and the Church, for instance Giordano Bruno and Galileo, the modern Catholic Church is also much more in favour of science than some fundamentalist Protestant churches.  Monsignor Georges Lemaitre composed the Big Bang Theory and it also accepts evolution.  Protestant churches can be rigidly and irrationally creationist.

Therefore, i present you with the following scenario.  Suppose the Catholic Church were to end soon, but instead of secularisation you end up with fundamentalist Protestant Churches making an unopposed claim to being the only authentic form of Christianity.  Protestant churches such as the Westboro Baptist Church with its homophobia and sexism, or other Protestant Churches with their advocacy of monopoly capitalism.  That's not the kind of world i want to live in.  I would prefer a world where Protestants and Catholics coexist and balance each other.

This last one is an example of my common difficult middle position.  I often feel that i have opinions which won't fall easily into any widely-recognised category.  This applies in religion, politics and health.  It's very common for me to disagree with everyone, and at some point i will have to address this on YT as well.  Don't know why it happens.

That first vid is a response to this one:

Ooh, that's a weird one!  Why the little box?

It's a shameless response, but as usual a tangential one.  Speaking of which, at some point i presume Holly Holdsworth will make another video and when she does, i may well respond to it, which brings up an issue which is really bothering me right now.  Or several.

Three things which have happened in the past few days have been: 
  • After the mini-tablet keyboard broke, i felt a strong urge to go into Connection Exchange yesterday morning, and found a generic 7" tablet case with keyboard identical to the one that's now defunct.  In combination with the urge combined with the facts that CEx don't usually sell them and that it was a self-conscious urge which i felt at the time was divine in origin, i have chosen to interpret this as a Sign.  Before you write me off as insane, please bear with me, because i'm going to talk about that.
  • I am now acutely aware that there is another prolific and more competent YouTuber in the neighbourhood - Holly Holdsworth.  She is in fact two degrees of separation from me via, for example, my daughter, and is tantalisingly close to being an acquaintance.  At the same time, it feels like having anything to do with her would be going into a weird area.  She's also Christian.
  • The ordination "near-miss".

The first thing to address is the madness.  All three of these thoughts strike me as apparently irrational and represent the kind of thing that happens when one has sufficient input into a project from others - other people off whom one can bounce one's ideas and do a sanity check.  Liz hasn't got the same kind of scepticism as i have in this respect - she often just plunges in and accepts these as what my mother calls a "Godincidence".  I usually lack the conviction to do that and see them as potential signs of mental disturbance, and as such i am currently finding them quite frightening.   This is the kind of situation which makes me want to "shut down" to protect myself, and also to think i should do more grounding stuff, but since yesterday consisted almost entirely of such grounding activities as housework, shopping, helping my mother and the like, and today will consist of the same kind of thing, it doesn't seem to be working.  I don't know what to do about this and it's really stressing me out.  Jod once said that you know you're insane because "everything suddenly makes sense".  Well, that's what's happening to me now.

This whole thing is also horribly reminiscent of the whole Nyarlathotep situation, which felt like incipient insanity, and looked like that to observers, but the difference is that - ooh, i have a thought, but more of that in a minute -that this is not about relationships in the same way.  Ms Holdsworth is like a child to me, though clearly a child who is exceptionally capable and mature.  She's also in the increasingly common and paradoxical position of someone i look up to at the same time as regarding her as my junior, which on reflection i think is going to become more frequent as i age.  I do have to say also that i find the behaviour of people in their early twenties quite trying, and feel it's OK to say that as i'm sure i was just as annoying, and probably still am as irritating in a different way to people in that age bracket.

Now back to the thought that occurred to me earlier:  insanity as a coping mechanism.  Just as a mouse being chased by a cat might stop and wash its face or a pupil in trouble with her headmaster might blow her nose, both as coping mechanisms, my current situation of being confronted with the introduction of Universal Credit and HMRC bearing down on me like a ton of bricks might be leading to fantasies about significant events which in reality mean nothing.  I no longer subscribe to the idea of religion as collective insanity, but i do sometimes think people see things which aren't there and i'm trying to protect myself against it.

I dunno, maybe it's too much caffeine.  It'd be nice to be balanced though.