Thursday, May 31, 2007


Circa 2015, there's a good chance that the following events will occur:

1) Cheap oil will run-out.

2) The limits of silicon miniaturisation will be attained, Moore's law will fail, and economic growth predicated upon increasing computer processing power, will cease.

3) The size of the working population in European countries will decline to the point that it is unable to support the retired population.

4) The early effects of global warming will seriously kick-in.

It's likely, therefore, that any money you're putting away now into a pension will become totally worthless before you can access it. As Tom Hodgkinson points out in 'How to be free', the people selling you pensions want your money now; they aren't spending their time ferreting away money for the future, they're buying opulent houses and extravagant cars now, based upon the money you're giving them now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tell me where it hurts

Shirley Manson once said "I hate boys who are frightened of pee and shit and menstrual blood. I want a man who will let me pee in his belly button." Which just goes to show how multi-purpose the belly-button really is.

To be honest, Garbage ran out of steam some years ago, but there's a 'Best of' album out this year, and this single, 'Tell me where it hurts', to promote it.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Courtesy of Susan B. comes this superb video from Russia. It's very difficult to stop a road-car crashing once it's into a tank-slapper because the suspension is so soft; just when you think you've caught it, the suspension unloads and throws you back in the opposite direction. Check out the bus-driver in particular; I wonder if his passengers alighted at the next stop...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chalk and charcoal

It was back to the drawing class this week. Disappointingly, our promised trip to Hengistbury Head didn't materialise, but instead we did some chalk drawings, and refined our charcoal drawing techniques. According to our teacher, Felicity, my main charcoal work here reminded her of Bonnard (the post-impressionist), and displayed a 'lightness of touch'.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The death of narrative cinema

Quote of the week goes to Radio 5 film critic Mark Kermode, who described the love-scene between Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean 3, as 'like watching a couple of pieces of Ikea furniture mating with each other.'

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rum 'n' Raisin

Today I was so desperate for strawberry ice cream, that when I found Waitrose had none, I bought some Neapolitan, and scooped out the strawberry block. Despite the proliferation in ice cream brands over the last decade or so, it seems to me that the range of flavours available in the shops is still pretty poor. People in England seem to think that raspberry ripple amounts to an exotic flavour. Whenever I went on holiday as a kid to Devon or Cornwall, I would look forward to a Rum 'n' Raisin scoop. So why can't you get Rum 'n' Raisin ice cream from a Tesco or Waitrose now?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Physics of Christianity

Well, Frank Tipler's latest book has just been published, and one can find the opening chapter reproduced here. It's hilarious stuff. Lawrence Krauss reviews the book in last week's New Scientist:

As a collection of half-truths and exaggerations, I am tempted to describe Tipler's new book as nonsense - but that would be unfair to the concept of nonsense. It is far more dangerous than mere nonsense, because Tipler's reasonable descriptions of various aspects of modern physics, combined with his respectable research pedigree, give the persuasive illusion that he is describing what the laws of physics imply. He is not.

For example, he argues that the resurrection of Jesus occurred when the atoms in his body spontaneously decayed into neutrinos and antineutrinos, which later converted back into atoms to reconstitute him. Here Tipler invokes the fact that within the standard model of particle physics the decay of protons and neutrons is possible, although he recognises that such decay would likely take 50 to 100 orders of magnitude longer than the current age of the universe: thus, the probability of such an occurrence is essentially zero. However, using a strange "Christian" version of the anthropic principle, a subject he once co-authored a book about, he then claims that without Jesus's resurrection, our universe could not exist - therefore, when one convolves this requirement with the almost, but not exactly zero, a priori probability, the net result is a near certainty.

Monday, May 21, 2007


For some time now, mathematician Shahn Majid has been promoting the mathematical notions of self-duality and quantum groups as the basis for a philosophy of the physical world. He has now written a paper developing these ideas into a Kantian-Buddhist perspective upon physical reality. Think of him, if you will, as the M. Night Shyamalan of mathematical physics.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

XI Krakowska Konferencja Metodologiczna

I have just returned from a week in Krakow, where I delivered a paper at Prawa Przyrody, the XI Krakowska Konferencja Metodologiczna. I shall write more about this in the days to come. For the moment, however, I'd merely like to relate an event which occurred on the BA flight from Gatwick to Krakow: I developed a headache that morning, and duly asked the stewardess for a paracetamol. To my astonishment, I found that I then had to fill in an 'Incident Report' form, listing my name and address, and the medical 'event', before I could have the paracetamol! I was also asked a series of questions such as 'Are you allergic to paracetamol?'. Unbelievable!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A touch of landscape

'Throop' sounds like an unpleasant medical condition to me; one treatable by a topical cream, perhaps. However, to my continual surprise, Throop is actually a pleasant residential district to the North of Bournemouth, adjacent to some pleasant pasture land around the River Stour. This week our drawing class moved outdoors to Throop Mill, where we attempted to draw some landscapes with Indian ink and water, using brushes and sharpened lollipop sticks for the finer detail. This was not altogether successful, and I compounded the difficulties by drawing on the wrong side of the paper! You can see the results here.
As a suitably incongruous juxtaposition, I've included below a pencil drawing of a trainer, completed earlier in the week.