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.