Friday, 31 May 2013

Om Nama Sivaya

...I suppose.  To be honest, i was a bit stuck.

I can't remember how i got onto this subject, but in the past two days i've made two videos about Indian atheisms.  The first one is on my home ground, as it were, of Samkhya:

(Yay!  It worked!):

Click to tweet: .  Atheism in Samkhya

Rather annoyingly, someone seems to have plonked theism on top of Samkhya at some point, which is extremely inappropriate and reminds me of those bits of Ecclesiastes which laughably assert that it's a good idea to believe in God etc, which have obviously been added later.  So i'm going to go out on a limb and say i reckon Samkhya is really nastika and not astika at all, unless somewhere or other there's an argument which says the Vedas are somehow revealed without a revealing agent, which is conceivable i suppose.  However, apparently the Vedas say the origin of the Universe is Prakrti, not God, so those "revealed texts" seem to say they're not revealed, unless God is somehow subject to the Universe rather than the creator.  Then again, maybe it's something to do with Abrahamic religion making me think of God as independent of the physical, whereas Indian thought is more pantheist (which might be atheism for sentimental people anyway, come to think of it).

Leaving that aside, Samkhya rejects the ontological, First Cause and design arguments for the existence of God, and so do i (although i am theistic of course).

One interesting thing is that Samkhya actually uses the notion of karma to argue for atheism.  The idea is that since karma governs the Universe, there is no need to suppose that there is a conscious agent controlling it.  Instead, the law of karma runs everything.  This is the kind of thing that appeals to me, although i probably disagree with it, because it's a kind of atheism which is quite exotic to the 21st century Western intellectual mind and reminds me that atheism to me is the opinion that God does not exist, and only includes beliefs which are entailed by that belief rather than anything else, such as metaphysical naturalism, although of course metaphysical naturalism and a whole load of other ontologies imply that there is no God themselves.

More arguments from Samkhya that God does not exist:

* God cannot be observed and there is no a priori argument for God's existence (so that's empiricist i suppose and also argues against the ontological proof).
* The problem of evil.
* God seems to be subject to desire, which means that God is not all-powerful - God is enslaved to desire.  Also, if God has desires, God must have unsatisfied desires and experience suffering, so God is no better than any other entity which exists in the Universe.

I think that's it, anyway.

atheism, yoga

(I've now remembered where this came from).

Samkhya is what my own metaphysics are based on but this is probably misleading because there's also Heidegger and the ethics of the face, so it's quite a long way down the line logically from another set of beliefs and it'd be fairer to say it forms part of my belief system.  Also, i interpret the gunas as the experiential, the ontic and the noumenal, so it's not quite the same.  However, Yoga is definitely, to my mind, based on Samkhya and i'm not alone in that.  I am, of course, also theistic but deliberately exclude theism from certain explanations of the nature of things.

One thing i'm definitely not is Carvaka:

Click to tweet: .  Unlike Samkhya, which i covered yesterday, Carvaka or Lokayata, which like Samkhya is atheistic, is an entirely naturalistic and materialist school of Indian philosophy in the Nastika category - it rejects the Vedas entirely as revealed knowledge and sees them instead as nonsense.  It rejects the ideas of God, the soul, the afterlife, reincarnation, karma, the supernatural and anything you care to name as stereotypically associated with religion as a belief system.  Oddly, it is sometimes categorised as Hindu, but it is only really Hindu in the sense that it's an Indian belief system, which is also true of Buddhism and Jainism, which are not generally seen as Hindu but as separate religions entirely.  According to Carvaka, the only valid beliefs are those gathered using the senses.  Therefore, it is more generally sceptical than it is merely atheist, materialist or metaphysically naturalist, and this is reflected in the rest of its philosophy as it resembles Epicureanism to some extent in being hedonist or egoist, saying that the aim of life is the avoidance of suffering and the pursuit of pleasure, although some suffering is seen as good because it enables one to contrast it with pleasure.  I'm not sure whether the kind of pleasure sought by Carvaka is similar to that sought by Epicureanism or something else.  It's possible that it would be more like Objectivism, Ayn Rand's idea which rejects both conventional morality and religious belief.  By contrast with this, although it's not implied, the New Atheism tends to be more associated with liberalism and humanism.  In that way, the scepticism of Carvaka is more wide-reaching than that of most western atheists.

Carvaka is a lot closer to Dennett-style atheism than Samkhya, being materialistic and naturalistic, but in a way it goes further and that direction is, i think, a little insulting to atheism and probably says more about the motivations behind Carvaka than about atheism, since it concurs with the bankrupt and insulting belief held by some theists that atheists cannot be good people.  It appears also to be hedonist, although that hedonism may or may not be Epicurean, i'm not sure.  The reason this bothers me is that it makes it look like Carvaka is just general rebellion against conformity rather than a proper, calm position taken on something.  It seems disingenuous.  It's also rather reminiscent of Tantrism, as in, "yeah, have lots of sex", which is obviously fine, but also "eat loads of meat", which isn't.  That said, presumably there are a load of atheists out there who are also more or less ethically sceptical or hedonist, and there's no incompatibility between the two.  However, on the whole i've tended to find that Western atheists who are vocal about their atheism tend to be liberal or humanist.  Other positions are also possible, for instance communism and anarchism, and there are also plenty of non-libertarian conservative atheists too.  I realise i've mixed up politics and ethics there.

Meanwhile, on the pregnancy channel:

I wasn't very happy with this video because i felt i wasn't big enough in it.  However, some very nice guy came along and said "You look really uncomfortable.  Your belly is beautiful."  I realise this is motivated by lust but it's still a nice thing to say.  As it happens, yesterday was quite a struggle because my body was refusing to do what it was told, but by the point of making that video i was actually not that uncomfortable.  The other thing about this is that body image is a weird thing.  I honestly cannot tell now what my chest looks like.  On the one hand, i seem to be developing boobs but on the other they seem to disappear.  It's also hard to see them clearly without the hair.  I'm currently toying with the idea of a bra, although i also think bras are a bad idea.

That's it for now.  See you tomorrow, though God knows what it'll be about then.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Night

I thought of a really good title for this entry but it's completely gone out of my head now.  Still, doesn't really matter, does it?

I came up against a problem.  The AQA IGCSE chemistry, and in fact biology, syllabi both cover water fluoridation, including objections to it, but yet ("but yet"?) i feel there's a bigger problem encompassing the disagreement, and i also wonder if that problem is growing.  Anyway, here they are:

This was initially one great long sixteen-minute video.  The question i raise may be naive, but i'd like someone to tell me why it's naive rather than just say nothing.

Here's today's:

This is about sin, wickedness and evil.  I would've preferred to video it at the venue, but it was not to be since not everyone's happy to appear on camera.  Ah well.  Still, trying to introduce a bit of variety.

I kind of feel things are starting to shift a bit.  Actually, hold on a minute, i've just remembered something.  There's some kind of thingy YT are doing.  Here's a trailer or whatever:

Basically, it probably would be useful if whatever it is that prevents this channel from working becomes clear to me as a result and it's something i'm prepared to change, or can change.  However, i suspect that it'll turn out to be unchangeable.  Whereas the advice on the creator playbook is good, i feel i've followed it as far as i can without much result.  For instance, tentpole programming works to an extent but that will inevitably fade as quickly as it grows and you're left with a whole load of videos which nobody watches any more.  I am aware that the other channels work better partly because they stick to one subject and leave breathing space, and are outrageous and elicit a strong emotional response, and all that works quite well.  However, once again i have a strong feeling of dissatisfaction that the main channel just won't take off no matter what i do, and i think it may be part of my personality or trying too hard.  I suspect that what will happen with the creator academy is that a lot of people will pick up a lot of useful tips and maybe even mentoring, and move on up, but i'll be left where i am now with not only nothing to show for it but a whole load of channels that are even harder to compete with than before.  However, there's more to life than views and subs.  It's just a really long, slow slog basically, and i'm not even sure it's leading anywhere, but there are other benefits.

Also, i think i'm still ploughing my own furrow too much, not just in the haphazard nature of my channel but in terms of not interacting effectively with other people on YouTube.  I've noticed recently that i've paid less attention to what's going on with other channels.  I think this may be to do with Becoming YouTube.  Benjamin Cook's big gaps are a bit weird and i tend to switch off during them.

The pregnancy vlog, on the other hand, is both going well and fun.  I am doing various things to my body to get it to do what it does on there and that's proving to be a challenge, but it's also similar to body piercing and tattooing - a kind of non-health based interaction with the body as art which is very creatively stimulating and seems to be opening new doors to me.  Thursday's video will be called "Human Baby Buggy" and i was planning it today.  One thing i'm going to add is an account of the baby's development and i'm also going to try meditating on the imaginary baby to increase my conviction that it's in there.  Another very interesting development is what's happening to my chest.  As i type this, there's an ache on the medial side of my right breast and i've been experiencing similar twinges for several days now.  Whereas when i last measured them, they turned out to be 38A of all things, rather than 38AA, it's very hard to see them objectively. I need to start taking galactogogues, i think.  I am probably fooling myself into thinking i'm starting to get a let-down reflex.

Right:  bye for now!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Bowstring Bridge

What?  It's a SONG!

I did this:

Click to tweet: . In Yoga, the concept of raga dvesha refers to likes and dislikes respectively and is a varsana. We are both pulled towards things we like and pushed away from things we dislike. This can be illustrated with a glass of urine and another of apple juice. This means we constantly waver between raga and dvesha rather than being free from desire. Indifference or detachment involves freedom from craving and passion, and that freedom is akin to the ideal of Stoicism. The virtue that results from independence from both is the middle way or a happy medium.

This occurs in all aspects of life, so it also happens in Yoga. Our friend Nerissa, who teaches Yoga, sometimes says "and then you smile because you're enjoying it so much!" when her students are undergoing a particularly challenging

Whoops, didn't finish it.  OK, so i'll tell you what:  i'll link to this blog there and finish it here.

Basically, what i said in the description (yes, this is a continuation of the description on the blog) was in the video, as usual.  However, i haven't explained the motivation for this video.  Let's drop the italics.

Certain practices in Yoga are perceived as unpleasant, notably the kriyas, although dvesha also arises with asanas or the very practice of asanas.  The same could be said of ordinary exercise of course, or even getting out of bed.  Even so, i get the impression that some kriyas are specifically intended to provoke aversion and i presume this is to enable one to overcome it - something unpleasant is done in order to assert control over that and perhaps weaken that aversion through habituation.  This can, and probably will, be explored this week in my "real" life.  In fact, this realisation and another connection means i currently have a sense of breakthrough.

Moving on - weirdly - to this:

Click to tweet: . Copyright (c) 2013 by us, all rights reserved - we haven't made a decision about intellectual property rights yet, sorry. Three of Sarada's poems from International Women's Day for Peace - 'The Lady In The Van', 'To The Looking Glass' and a poem written for 'Sing For Water' (which is next week).

 The purpose of this video, which is of course from the same event as the other one and has the same purpose, is to provide Sarada, whose name i should really explain at some point, with a video of her reciting some of her poetry so she can get to do it more.

Still feeling weirdly positive.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Sound Of Silence

Hello Blogger or whatever you call yourself.  I haven't spoken to you much recently because i never get a reply and your unnerving silence freaks me out and makes me think i'm wasting my time.  Also, i wasn't exactly enamoured of you when you stopped letting me post my videos on here.  Let's see if you've relented:

Nope!  OK, so can i do this?

Ah!  Although, you have posted it above where i wanted it.

OK, so, how many videos is it since my last "confession"?  Nine, apparently.  OK, so i have my work cut out here.  First, here's the dooblydo from the above one:

Click to tweet: . Doctor Who is copyright the BBC - no infringement intended. This is just my wild mad guess about the Doctor Who season finale tomorrow. I'm probably completely wrong. I should also point out that there may be spoilers in it for both Doctor Who and Kurt Vonnegut's 'Sirens Of Titan', so stop reading now if you want to avoid them. Clearly there are no spoilers for tomorrow's episode, 'The Name Of The Doctor', because i haven't seen it!

This is really about the mystery of Clara Oswald. I have a poor record of successful speculation about TV series as i tend to go off on tangents mentally in general, but my thoughts are this. In Kurt Vonnegut's 'Sirens Of Titan', there's a phenomenon called the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, where all the agreed perceptions of the Universe coincide. When Niles Rumfoord, a character in the novel, enters the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, his existence becomes smeared between past, present and future and the only place he can exist permanently as a physical human being is on Titan. I think that in 'The Doctor's Name', it will turn out that Clara hearing his name will have the same effect on her, and she will turn out to exist in all sorts of places and times. I also think the same has happened to River Song, who also knows his name. Also, i'm just wondering right now if the Doctor's name is a key to the Time War - it will unlock the events of the Time War and make them accessible to the rest of time.

Whereas i'm sure i'm wrong about this, i don't necessarily think my version of events is worse than that of the writers. One of the weird things about Doctor Who is that its canon is not firmly defined.

It turned out i wasn't very wrong at all about that, which was a little surprising.


Click to tweet: . Cartwheels at the second Leicester YouTube Gathering, Saturday 18th May, 2013. Whereas just posting a video of cartwheels may seem a bit random, the whole day was fantastic so i might as well just upload a sample of it. If you've not been to a YouTube gathering and this is in any way typical, GO TO ONE! This was bloody fantastic! People were really supportive, made big efforts to include me in spite of my great age and there was no ego or attempts to show off or prove anything. Thanks to HollyHoldsworth and danlacuna, the organisers, and great to meet you all: InAVloggyFashion, Lownefication, Rotten Playground, theapachepenguin, TimmyzDarkrider, pulpgaming, MXGabsy, Lellahisblue and the rest of you (sorry i can't remember everyone's names but that's a reflection on my awful memory and not you). Great to meet everyone.

Now this video is not even slightly good and it strikes me that i need to work on, dunno what to call them, reportage-type videos because they have an appeal but somehow it's hard to bring them out compared to the usual talking head business.  Even so, to me the really big thing about this is that there are people out there in Leicesterland and further afield whom i can meet and who are nice enough not to treat me as a fossil.  It reminded me of the summer school at the end of my first training year on the herbalism course, when i finally met people and it started to seem real.  Also, the age thing:  yes, i am older, yes i put weird stuff on YT compared to most vloggers but maybe everyone had their own issues and things which might have made them feel like outsiders.  Certainly everyone relaxed a lot more at the end.

Moving on (though this is probably the most significant step since i last blogged):

Click to tweet: . Last week was Christian Aid Week, which is the big push the charity does for its fundraising, where volunteers go door-to-door. I'm really talking about the values of Christian Aid here although clearly these are not abstract, so i also want to mention what they're actually doing.

Christian Aid this year has focussed on projects in Bolivia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, as far as its publicity is concerned. In Bolivia, they are helping indigenous people with legal claims to their own land and protecting them against wealthy landowners, which among other things prevents wealthy landowners from using expensive lawyers to take the land off them. Among other things, this prevents deforestation. In Kenya, they are involved in a project to send text messages to farmers (mobile phones being very popular in sub-Saharan Africa) about weather forecasts, which help them time their crop-planting. In Zimbabwe, they are helping with the use of sand dams, which are natural water filters where the water is protected from evaporation, but can easily become contaminated if the wells are dug alone.

Christian Aid employs and works with Christians, non-religious people, people of other faiths and atheists. Its values are based on dignity and respect. Poverty and want are entirely unnecessary today and can be overcome. Christian Aid focusses on that. They are also transparent in their dealings and 85% of funds raised go on their partner projects.

There were some negative reactions to this.  The point of this video was to do something less abstract.  I always try to cover a religious theme on Sundays because of the issue of the Sabbath and the danger of distraction from a day i really do think needs to be set apart.  It has been claimed that Christian Aid are involved in some dodgy stuff, though i'm not sure which and i'm not sure it's Christian Aid.  They are supposed to be transparent and i'll be looking into this.  Having said that, of course all organisations are susceptible to corruption by virtue of the fact that they are organisations, and charities are notoriously unexceptional in this regard.

The last Big Science video can't be embedded but is here:

Click to tweet: . First of all, thanks for the YouTube gathering, Holly Holdsworth and danlacuna, and all the rest of you who came. Very encouraging.

Anyway, metal extraction! This is on the AQA IGCSE Chemistry syllabus and is linked to the reactivity series, which is here: . The most reactive elements are also the hardest to extract because they are so firmly bonded to other elements. These include the alkali and alkali earth metals in groups I and II, which are extracted using electrolysis. An electric current is passed through a substance containing the metal concerned (all elements of Group I and II are metallic), either molten or in possibly acidified solution, and the ions in the solution will move to opposite ends and accumulate at each electrode. Clearly it may be insufficient to do this if the element combines with something in the atmosphere or solvent.

Aluminium (aluminum) is also extracted using electrolysis but in a more complex process using another aluminium containing mineral used as flux called cryolite. The raw material is bauxite. It is energetically cheaper to recycle aluminium than to extract it, since it has a low melting point. This is just as well because aluminium refining is extremely polluting and often also involves the construction of hydroelectric dams for power because the fluoridated smoke they produce has to be released in remote areas. Until this process, was developed, aluminium was a precious metal, wherefore the Washington Monument was capped therewith and Napoleon had a cutlery set and plates made of aluminium instead of silver.

Lower down on the reactivity series are most of the transition metals. These are often found in nature combined with oxygen or sulphur (sulfur), examples being zincblende, haematite (hematite) and cinnabar, which are ores containing zinc, iron and mercury respectively. A common extraction method for these is to heat them with coke, i.e. carbon, or sometimes carbon monoxide, since the oxygen combines more avidly with these than the metal and it can then be driven off as carbon dioxide gas. This is how iron is refined from haematite in a blast furnace. These metals are generally known to alchemists. Further down still on the reactivity series are noble metals such as copper, silver, gold and platinum, which were also known to the alchemists, with the exception of platinum and the other similar metals. These least reactive metals are often, or even usually, found alone and need no extraction.

The properties of the metals and their methods of extraction are also relevant to the three-age system used in archaeology and descended from Hesiod's golden age - silver age - bronze age - Heroic age - iron age system. At the end of the stone age, people discovered how to make bronze from copper and tin, and were therefore able to make relatively precisely shaped weapons and tools, but they were limited by the relative natural scarcity of copper. Iron was mainly only known in the form of meteorites. Eventually, it was found that certain ores heated with carbon yielded iron, and the Iron Age began, with the Hittites, our linguistic ancestors (more or less). This gave the Hittites a major military advantage because of their weaponry being easier to make and stronger, so it was a military secret. However, as often happens, the technique leaked out and spread throughout the planet and technology advanced. Oddly, we're still in the Iron Age although presumably if the extraction of titanium becomes more economically viable, it will finally end.

This and the previous video brought with it the worry that the new subscribers i'd gained from the gathering would lose interest and unsubscribe.  The thumbnail is also not very good.  I've committed myself to upload these every Monday but OMG, so turgid!  It's the fault of schooling as an ethos of course.

Incidentally, the doobly-do is screwed up by the wrong kind of carriage returns.  Hold on:

Click to tweet: . I'm as horrified as the next guy about "It's inaugural short film" in a

certain famous YouTuber's trailer, and i can definitely get on board generally with the

biggest and most pedantic grammar Nazis on the internet. Using "you're" for "your" or vice

versa, makes my skin crawl and want to strangle the perpetrator. Nonetheless, there are a

couple of points with which i would most certainly take issue, and if you're anything like

me you will already have noticed what one of these is: "i" versus "I".

In every single other language written in this alphabet, and in fact every single other

language that makes a distinction between capitals and lowercase letters in existence, and

which has ever existed so far as i know, the first person singular pronouns are never

capitalised. Examples:

Swedish: jag
Finnish: minä
Indonesian: saya, aku
French: je
Castilian: yo
Dutch: ik
German: ich

Moreover, even in English this is not consistently the case. We use "me", "my", "mine",

"myself", "we", "us", "our", "ours" and "ourselves". None of these are capitalised in the

middle of a sentence. Furthermore, historically even the first person singular nominative

pronoun was not capitalised. Anglo-Saxon used "ic" and the East Midland dialect of Middle

English used "i", not "I". Not even the closest languages to English, such as Frisian, Tok

Pisin, Scots and Yola, capitalise the equivalent form.

On the other hand, the second person pronouns can be capitalised, as with:
Danish (i think): Du
German: Sie, Du (in handwritten letters)
Finnish: Sinä
Castilian and Latin American Spanish: Usted

This makes sense to me as a mark of respect, and is in fact even practiced in English with

the use of "Him" for God. Nonetheless, we never do it.

Therefore, for reasons of consistency i insist on writing "i", not "I". This provides me

with an extra facility present in many other languages but absent from ordinary English

usage. It means i can choose to mark emphasis in writing by capitalising "I". Pro-drop

languages such as Italian are able to mark this by expressing the first person singular

nominative pronoun along with the verb when it would otherwise be omitted. If we choose to

emphasise "I" in this way, we can make a written distinction between "this is what i think"

meaning "I think this but it's not important that it's my thought" and "this is what I

think", meaning "I personally think this, unlike others". The fact is that I see this as a

useful distinction. See what i mean?

Another thing which might be nice is to overcome English egomania by capitalising the

second person pronoun as a mark of respect, as found in German, Danish and Castilian and

other dialects of Spanish. If we tried that too, it would overcome the problem of the

absence of a proper distinction between levels of respect in the second person. Sadly, we

never write "You". We should.

Don't get me started on the whole issue of "amn't i?" versus "aren't I?"!

This is intended as a response to Lowneification, whose video is here:

I doubt it's been approved but responses are supposed to be what you do, so i did one.  I realise it's old.

Pressing on:

Can't embed it, here it is:

Never mind about the description.  I was worried about this one because it's like cashing in.

Click to tweet: . As well as "i" and "I", there is also "I and I", the RastafarIan replacement for "we" and a few other things, and the general "I" language used by RastafarIans.

The reason for the Rasta use of "I" in this way is that "me" is seen as passive and a recipient of actions. "Me" is someone things are done to, that is a victim of circumstances and the like: in other words, a slave. it also makes a religious point, that every Rasta is in the image of God, the "I AM".

I am in some ways attracted to Rasta but am also put off by its keenness on patriarchy and its odd connection to the Judaeo-Christian tradition. I find this odd too, because Voodoo, for example, clearly does partake of native African religious traditions, although i realise the slavery theme must strike a chord with them.

Well, i couldn't really avoid mentioning the other "I and I", could i?  I realise it's not exactly a viewer magnet, but there it is.

Last night's vid is here:

Click to tweet: . Sarada Gray reads her new poem 'Face Lift' at International Women's Day for Peace.

This is my beloved Sarada performing a poem.  It's one of several videos i made last night, and yes, once again it's thrown together but i got back just before my bed time.  This and the YT gathering vid have problems with the audio.  I shall be putting the others together and sticking them somewhere in a bit.

This and the gathering vid form part of what i hope will be a new trend coming with the spring of filming outside the home at other events - i will probably try Drink And Think with permission.

Finally, here's today's:

Click to tweet: . Towel Day is a celebration, held on 25th May each year, instituted by the followers of a bipedal, carbon-based life-form native to a small blue-green planet orbiting an unregarded yellow sun in Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, in the outer reaches of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy. Douglas Noel Adams was born 1923 years after someone was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change. This entity was responsible for many works, not least the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, conceived while intoxicated by certain fermented vegetable juices while in the centre of a large peninsula of one of the planet's landmasses. He was also known for his concern for the other native species on his world, including a large armoured quadruped renowned for its nasal weaponry, and was so amazingly primitive that he still considered the primitive graphical user interfaces of his time to be a pretty neat idea.

Douglas Adams was also responsible for the creation of several hundred new words, including Grimbister, Goosnargh, Scraptoft and Wetwang, for things there weren't any words for yet, and for the scripts of the Fourth Doctor as well as several episodes. He was also well-known for his procrastination, which once led him to say - oh, never mind, i'll finish this bit later. One of the best pieces of advice he ever gave was that one should always dirk gently.

As has already been mentioned, computers fascinated the Adams being. He wrote a number of computer games, including the computer version of the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which has been described as bearing the same relationship to the radio series as 'Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead' bears to Hamlet, 'Starship Titanic', set in the Hitch-Hikers universe and 'Bureaucracy'. Unusually, the inspiration for Bureaucracy was a change of address card.

His magnum opus, 'The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy' is notable for being the only known work of literature to be made available in towel form. As the Guide itself explains, as well as being of great practical use, a towel is of even greater psychological value, since possession of such an item will automatically convince the uninitiated that one is clearly to be reckoned with.

Sadly, Douglas Adams died in 2001 but the spirit of his works lives on and he has provided the inspiration for much of today's world. Only one question remains: what do you get when you multiply six by seven?

Just realised there's no click to tweet on this one.  Hold on...there you go (  Anyway, this took ages and was really fiddly.  I'm also concerned about copyright issues on it, as you can probably gather, so if i get a strike i shall delete it.

Right, now there is something else.  Because i always try to do something spiritual for the Sabbath, i've started to come across as madly Christian, which i'm not.  Well, i am, but the C-word means something else to me than it seems to mean to others.  Therefore, i plan to make a completely different type of video tomorrow, on aversion and attraction, because i see religion as universal.  I also have an idea about extending the ideas of sources of authority to non-religious areas:  reasoning, Scripture, the Holy Ghost and church authority.  The odd one out there is probably the Holy Ghost.  Not sure how that would translate.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Double Dutch

Right, let's have another go at this:

Click to tweet: . This is the first of a number of videos planned on the chakras. The Sanskrit word "cakra" means "wheel", and represents a centre of energy. At first this sounds like it has a lot of metaphysical overheads but in fact chakras are potentially natural kinds like species, elements or different kinds of digit such as fingers, thumbs and toes. They can be considered as at least points where the spine changes direction associated with endocrine glands.

A lot can be said about chakras, but i'll keep it very simple. There are seven major chakras, each associated in the West with a colour of the rainbow:
Muladhar - where the kundalini lies sleeping. Associated with the anus and gonads - ovaries or testes. Red. Animal energy.
Svadhisthan - gonads again (testicles or ovaries) - orange. Fertility.
Manipur - pancreas or adrenals. The solar plexus chakra - yellow.
Anahat - thymus. The "heart" chakra.
Vishuddha - thyroids and parathyroids - communication - blue.
Ajna - third eye - pituitary.
Sahasrara - crown chakra - pineal.

There will be a lot more on chakras on here. It's a big subject. For now, though, there's just this.

I realise i could've said a whole lot more about chakras than this and i'm rather embarrassed about the mistakes, particularly the one about the adrenals.  However, this video, i think, is chiefly remarkable for the following two scenes:

In the upper picture, i think my abdomen is more distended than usual, at least i hope it is - it may not be.  In the lower - well, tell me what you think if you're reading this.  Suffice it to say that my abdomen is not my only concern in that picture.

This is a good illustration of why naturism would be in no way sexy.  These two flabby specimens are typical of the kind of thing you'd see, except that my own body is probably in a bit of a state compared to most people's.  It also illustrates body dysmorphia, or at least the great difficulty i have perceiving my own body as i would perceive others', which kind of relates to the subject of the video.

I also did the pregnancy vlog today and demonstrated a technique i use during it.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


Apparently you read my blog, so hello!  I'll tell you how i do the belly thing in a bit.

Anyway, i had virtually abandoned this, but i'm back.  In about two days' time, the Other Channel will reach half a million views, which is nice-ish.  In the meantime, i've uploaded three videos to the pregnancy vlog and also plan to make a slideshow about how it might be achieved.  Also, i've had plenty of new video ideas for the "main" channel, one of which i've just finished off:

Actually, i haven't just finished this off because for some reason blogger went all weird and wouldn't let me post any of my own videos, so it's now been several days.  Here's the doobly-do:

Click to tweet: .  Humans are unusually hairless and fat for apes.  This and a number of other features led Elaine Morgan to hold that in the relatively recent past our ancestors were partly aquatic.  There's a whole list of features which suggest this:

* Like aquatic mammals, we lack hair - seals, whales, elephants, hippos, manatees and dugongs for example.
* We stand upright, like other apes when they enter the water.
* Our bodies are insulated using fat rather than hair, which is also true of aquatic mammals, where it also provides buoyancy.
* We have breasts like dugongs, which are aquatic mammals.
* Unlike other land mammals, we have a diving reflex where our respiration and heart rate slow down when we are underwater.
* We have good breath control, which enables us to speak.
* Our nostrils face downwards, like the Proboscis Monkey which is semi-aquatic.
* We have a hymen which protects the reproductive system from debris - this is a less popular idea than the others.
* We make love face to face, like aquatic mammals, for instance whales.
* Our genome lacks an endogenous retrovirus which entered all other African primate genomes several million years ago, suggesting that we were not in Africa at the time.
* The oldest hominin fossils are found nearest the coast and newer ones gradually move inland.
* The oldest stone tools are made of pebbles rather than the irregular stones more likely to be found away from water.

The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (or theory - the endogenous retrovirus is good evidence that we were at least not in Africa when that happened, and we weren't in Asia either so the possibilities are very limited) is not widely accepted among palaeoanthropologists for various reasons.  It is seen as feminist, it is not published widely in peer-reviewed journals and it is seen as an individual explanation for a wide variety of phenomena.  However, taking a Kuhnian and pro-feminist view, this reflects the tendency for established academics to hold on to power with respect to beliefs and accepted practices in the scientific community.  This reflects my experience in academia.

Desmond Morris and David Attenborough are both proponents of this theory and it is difficult to break into publishing in any area, including academia.

In fact, i think i'll add to some of the others.  This:

won't post, apparently.  There's also a great long rambling video on the periodic table which i've divided into two.  See if that posts:

Yep.  Right, now this gets me where i want to be since i want to add stuff which is new, namely on the Etruscan language.  The claim that Etruscan used "el-em-en" to mean "letter" as in letter of the alphabet, as it was LMN, like ABC, seems to have no historical basis at all.  There was at some point an idea that the Etruscan alphabet split down the middle.  In fact, it runs as follows:

This would split the Etruscan LMN at N.  Incidentally, the English alphabet, which is descended from the Etruscan, is divided into three groups of eight, so it's not entirely unfeasible, but it seems not to be true.

Etruscan fascinates me.  It's close to being a linguistic isolate like Basque is.  However, it now turns out that it was related to Lemnian, spoken on an island near Asia Minor, and Raetic, spoken in an area which is now part of Switzerland.  All of these may be related to Minoan as well.  Nonetheless, it is clearly unrelated to Indo-European languages and may not even be Nostratic (if Nostratic even exists).

On to today's callouts, at long last, and once again it can't be posted.  Suffice it to say, then, that i've made a callout video for danlacuna, jeremyhansen100, skateman70 and Tasarla Skaara.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


So i'm sitting here waiting for the latest video to upload, typing this because i can't post a link yet, and thinking, why do i bother with this blog?  I have a diary which is better because i don't have to think about what i want to keep private, and i know this isn't read, so why am i keeping it?  I suppose it's partly because i think it could become more popular if, for example, i put resources on here or added information in other ways, but the thing is, nobody would read it even then.

Actually, one thing which really annoys me is this.  I put very little effort into this blog, partly because i know people don't read it.  There are, though, many excellent blogs out there which are a lot more worthwhile and into which people do put a lot of effort.  Those are not the popular ones.  Well, they can be, but there's a lot of unfairness because i see a whole load of old rope put up by bloggers all the time which is basically dead simple stuff which either tells people how to do what i think everyone knows what to do or says very little that's of any value, and it gets read.  I don't actually care very much whether anyone reads this and probably can't manoeuvre it into a position where it will be, and i accept that it's a load of blah which nobody cares about, including me, but even from my fortress of total apathy i can feel the sting of the injustice.  I realise one issue is that everyone's shouting very loudly and of all people i recognise the value of prostituting oneself, but surely people can't want to read yet another entry about how to strike a match, cut your fingernails or the cyber-equivalent.  I mean, i can say this because i lack emotional investment in this, having a crappy blog i put no effort into and don't care about, but what about someone like Vanilla Rose?  I would be pretty peed off if i was her right now.  This is obviously another example of a good blog but then i'm obviously going to be biassed about that.

I'm not going to link to any crap blogs but oh dear oh dear.  What is wrong with people?

OK, is my video ready yet?

Well, it is, but apparently the thumbnail isn't.  Anyway:

Click to tweet: .  Following on from my previous video, 'Creationism Is Blasphemous', i wanted to address a few issues which arose from it, such as the claim that Darwinism leads to totalitarianism as with the Nazis and Stalin.  Adolf Hitler used whatever he thought would lead him to power, including the idea of white supremacy and therefore a ladder of evolution like the great chain of being, and organised religion, i.e. the Church, though to a lesser extent than Fascism.  Stalinism is another ideology linked with Darwinism, as is Social Darwinism, but in that case Stalinism uses Marxist rhetoric rather than being a continuation of rationalism, which is what Marxism could fairly claim to be, and in the Soviet Union Lamarck and Lysenko were more popular than Darwin for ideological reasons.

The E and J documents have different accounts of the Creation, so we can fairly conclude that, unlike many other parts of the collection of disparate texts which comprise the Bible, that is not meant to be taken literally.  Scripture is remarkably sparse in certain areas - for instance, it rarely refers to colour or attempts to describe how things are done.  This is because it's not a practical manual, but a means employed by God to draw us closer to him.  Judaism and Roman Catholicism both take the Bible very seriously but reject creationism.  Even Orthodox Jews also object to the inclusion of intelligent design in state school curricula because they see it as an erosion of the distinction between church and state.

A major concern i have with this, though, is the barrier it presents to evangelism.  If people are expected to accept Christianity with creationism or not at all, they will in all probability conclude that Christianity is irrational and those people will not benefit from God's love.  Even if you honestly believe creationism is true, forcing people to accept it as a sine qua non of the Christian faith goes against what Paul said about not eating meat sacrificed to idols - it can cause one's brother to stumble in faith.  We definitely shouldn't be doing that.

Yeah i know, a bit similar to 'Creationism Is Blasphemous' and a bit God-bothery, but i wanted to respond to some criticisms.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Star Wars

OK, stupid pun time of course:

Star Wars is a registered trademark and copyright belongs to Lucasfilm.  No infringement intended.  Click to tweet: .  May The IVth Be With You.  Star Wars is important to me mainly because it provoked me into defining science fiction as "fiction whose plot depends non-trivially upon the setting".  Star Wars expresses universals and timeless truths in a space opera, pulp-like context, partly illustrating that the archetypes and mythology it expresses can be transposed to any setting.  In terms of the story, it could equally well be set in mediaeval times, in Ancient Greece or a host of other situations.  This gives rise to the paradox that in a sense, that makes the plot of Star Wars depend on the setting, which is why i inserted the phrase "non-trivially".

This is a rather surprising definition of SF, i realise, as it doesn't refer to technology, science, the future, space, aliens or anything like that.  Star Wars is set "a long time ago in a galaxy far away", which i understand but that also frustrates me.  I dislike the sound in space, humanoid aliens, one-climate planets and faster-than-light aspects of Star Wars.  However, since it is pulp rather than SF, that makes it rather like Doctor Who in a way, which i do like.  Dr Who is a lot like Star Wars in that respect.

"You" may note various things about this video.  The thumbnail is rubbish and the doobley-do is short.  The reason for this is that i did it at 6:30 am.   It gave me a little cause for concern due to the love many people have for the series, particularly IV-VI.

I'm going to be frank here.  At the time, 'Star Wars' felt like the bane of my life.  I was seriously unimpressed, mainly due to my own devotion to hard SF (although i did also like Doctor Who, which is in a category of its own).  Asimov and Le Guin were both very critical of it.  My feeling now is that it's rather unreconstructed and good as a film, but as i have now harped on about on and off for three dozen years, it is not science fiction (and nor is Who, but in that case it doesn't detract from its quality).  The problem with Star Wars apart from that is of course that since it attempts to express mythic stuff, it's rather old-fashioned, even for the time it was written.  Having said that, it has a few saving graces.  I was too harsh about the single-climate planets for a start.  Single-climate planets do exist, for instance Venus and Jupiter.  Even Earth may have had a single climate at various times in the past.  So that's OK.  I haven't mentioned the droids either of course, and in fact i seriously feel there is no problem with the possibility of robots behaving like humans, although i can't understand the point of Artoo units because they surely don't need to communicate with a series of beeps, do they?  The FTL business is a common trope in science fiction which makes the stories possible, and as i may eventually get round to doing, there are a couple of ways this might happen, notably the rather disconcerting Alcubierre Drive:
Hmm.  High dubium.  Roll on the Yates-Leason device.

At the time, androids got on my wick a lot more than now, although R2s are not android so that's OK.  Sorry to jump about.

However, leaving aside the values there are two things which really bug me a lot, and they're connected.  Firstly, there's no way of placing the setting historically except that it is kind of in the past.  That's actually quite neat as such and of course 'Consider Phlebas' is in the past too and i regard that as neat, even though he says the reason for that is poignancy.  However, what bothers me about this is that it closes off aspiration and optimism for the future and makes it about something else.  We "know" (of course we know anyway, but that's another thing) that no matter what happens, Star Wars is not in our future.  It's in someone else's.  This brings up the second problem - humanoid aliens.  Even the "humans" in Star Wars are not in fact human at all - it's just convergent evolution.  The other humanoid species are as improbable, of course, unless convergent evolution makes a very large number of species humanoid.  Another saving grace here is that not all of them are humanoid after all.

On reflection, i seem to cut the Culture a lot more slack than the Empire.  I think this is to do with politics, but not entirely, particularly considering that at the time i was monarchist and "default Tory", and still disliked Star Wars.  Not sure what to make of that.  So, when i came across 'A Gift From The Culture' in Interzone almost a cycle later, i was blown away by the quality of the writing, the emotional realism, characterisation and most of all the political milieu implied.  So i'm afraid it's not the politics of Star Wars that bothers me but the quality.  I realise it's a difficult comparison because one's a film with no original written version which depends substantially on visuals and the other's an awesome written short story by Iain M Banks which is largely character-based.  My feelings about Wrobik were that he's a perverse idiot who doesn't know how good he's got it, rather similar to my feelings a couple of years later, despite my rejection of Stalinism, that the people of the DDR actually threw away their constitutional rights to food, clothes and shelter in favour of consumerism.  I didn't live there though, did i?  Anyway, the point is, that huge constellation of sympathetic feelings about 'A Gift From The Culture' is a testament to the giant of a man that is Menzies, and i don't feel like that about anyone else i don't know personally.  George Lucas, by contrast, is just warmed over Flash Gordon.  But then i believe in low-budget SF and also this.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Beatles And The Stones

I did say i was going to put loads of extra information on here but as it happens i'm completely knackered.  I should probably explain stuff about this video:

Click to tweet: . Blog entry with more info soon. Kidney stones are usually made of uric acid, calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate, also known as apatite, but there are also several genetic factors which end up producing unusual kidney stones such as cystinuria and another one which can even produce caffeine or other xanthine stones. If you think you might have them, please go to see a doctor or other healthcare professional. They're more painful than childbirth, according to a friend i know who has experienced both.

The risk factors include dehydration, alkaline or acid urine, infection, tumours, stasis, immobility, parathyroid dysfunction and trauma to the kidneys. If urine becomes more alkaline than it should be, alkaline stones can begin to form, i.e. calcium phosphate or apatite calculi; if more acidic, uric acid (urate) or oxalate may form. Oxalate stones can result from excess vitamin C, an inborn metabolic defect or ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning (whose antidote is ethanol, or ordinary alcohol - however, there are many other problems this would be the least of your worries if you drank antifreeze). Uric acid calculi can form as a result of the breakdown of large amounts of purines, one of the classes of compound found in DNA and RNA, and uric acid itself is also responsible for gout. Such deposits can be due to diet but are sometimes also linked to leukaemia and some other serious illnesses. Please don't jump to conclusions - see someone if you're worried. Ileostomy can also cause urate kidney stones.

Alkaline stones - calcium phosphate - can result from infection, as bacteria often make urine more alkaline. This can result either from an ascending infection from the bladder or from a systemic infection such as . Alternatively, they may form due to excess release of phosphate or calcium into the urine by mineral loss from bones during immobility or as a result of hyperparathyroidism. Excess vitamin D can also cause them.

Kidney stones can sometimes form into "staghorn calculi", where a stone fills up the whole space inside the kidney, leading to purulence, hydronephrosis and sometimes metaplasia, where the specialised epithelium which reabsorbs water changes to a less specialised form and more urine is excreted. In some ways, it makes more sense to think of the kidneys as organs for reabsorbing urine rather than excreting it. This leads to excessive urination and permanently watery urine, meaning that the person suffering from this needs to drink a lot. Staghorn calculi (and others) can be broken down by lithotripsy, where ultrasound is used to break them up. Madder - Isatis tinctoria - and parsley piert are two of several herbal remedies which can be used to break them down. Other solutions include changing the pH of the urine to the opposite required for their formation and drinking lots of water.

Cystinuria is a genetic condition which reflects the fact that most of our body fluids constantly pass through our kidneys. Some people can't reabsorb all of the amino acids, resulting in cystine and other amino acids crystallising within the kidneys. This also happens sometimes with xanthine and caffeine, among other substances, depending on the precise metabolic issue.

An important process in this respect is stasis. If urine stands still in the renal system for whatever reason, for instance obstruction, it can begin to crystallise. This reflects the general principle that health depends crucially on flow.

 OK, the reason this is so unembellished is that i basically had no time whatever today and had to make three videos.  I was going to insert a load of diagrams but haven't.  However, i can do this:

which is the T-shirt design for invisible illnesses such as cystinuria.
Tomorrow's video will be on why reptiles don't exist.
The difficulty today, apart from lack of time, was the necessity of making the pregnancy vlog and also a third, very long video for the Other Channel, which will receive much attention before it's ready.  I was also quite tense when i made the pregnancy vlog, which caused problems.  I made the kidney stone video while "pregnant" too, as may be apparent.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

School's Out Forever

Just typing that sends shivers down my spine.  Just imagine if it were true. Just imagine if we finally reached the stage of social evolution when schools no longer existed.  Wouldn't that be incredible?

Leaving that aside:

Click to tweet: .  We all probably know our own children better than anyone else knows them, and our families have individual needs and values.  When we bring up our own children, we may come to believe that the style and content of education (parenting?) which works well for us will also work well for the majority of other people, but we may well be wrong.  This makes it very easy to develop dogmas about structure, autonomy or content - we may be into classical, technical, liberal arts, Steiner (anthroposophy), Montessori, child-centred or other approaches to content or style, and that should be dictated by our own beliefs as well as the character of the children.  It can even be that, in theory, a child is best off at school, though i am convinced that this is extremely rare.  Nonetheless my mind needs to be open to that possibility.

I was startled and fascinated to discover that one of our children seemed to lack curiosity completely.  Prior to that i wouldn't have believed that that was at all possible - that it was part of what makes us human and that it never happened.  If i'd encountered that in a child with different parents, i would've concluded, quite intolerantly and prejudicedly, that something had happened to crush that child's natural curiosity.  However, i can't for the life of me see that that was what happened with our daughter, though that could be down to self-deception.  Her needs were therefore very different than our son's.

We should listen to each other and recognise that because every child and family is unique, simply because something works for us doesn't mean it'll work for someone else, and that although i am probably most sympathetic to the efficacy of autonomous education, that won't work for everybody, and if we fail to tolerate that, we're being somewhat like people who are opposed to home ed entirely.

I've now established that nobody reads these.  This was my intention of course, but it makes me wonder what i should do instead.

Tomorrow should include a video for the Other Channel, though i won't upload it immediately, a pregnancy vlog (already planned, going to try to get to 107 cm - ouch!) and a video on kidney stones (also ouch, and more so!)