Saturday, 18 September 2021

Philosophy in a Nut Shell/Bag

Whilst imbibing Ale, according to strict recommended guidelines, (not a drop less, not a drop more) in my local Tavern, 'The Frolicking Mustelid', Tipton (where else?), I was accosted by the local inebriate and impresario, Pissed Pete, he of rubicund and florid countenance/demeanour. Pickled Pete spake thusly: “Flaxen, you are renowned hereabouts, in these environs and locally, as a savant without peer. Mayhap you are able to address a question of major import, a query that has engaged the best minds for over 2 millennium. Flaxen, are you up to the task"?  I replaced the foaming mug of Ale, 'Ole Scrote Blaster', upon the care worn table of a million drunken spills and squinted wistfully, as if in a reverie or lost in a dream of enchantment and regarded my interrogator, with a wistful eye (just the left one). Pete belched, and the wind of a thousand furies assailed my olfactory system with disdain. The 'Plastered One', regarded me with sanguineous, rheumy eyes and continued. “Flaxen, what is the best definition of 'Philosophy', and if you will, how does it differ from Science' and Theology”? I pursed my lips as if in deep contemplation and responded as follows:

'Philosophy', in ancient Greek can be interpreted as 'Love of Knowledge'. Mayhap this is not a definition that would satisfy the modern mind, as it lacks intellectual rigour, but it sufficed for those pesky Hellenes of yore. The ancients did not distinguish between 'philosophy' and 'science' as we do today. All knowledge, regardless of how it was obtained, was considered under the hefty mantel of philosophy. The Ancient Greeks were not great fans, with some exceptions, of the scientific method as we understand it today. Deep thought, on its own, was the premier method for unlocking nature's secrets. They paid scant attention to what we call Empirical Data and its acquisition.   

This post, is exclusively and unashamedly devoted to Western Philosophy. Eastern Philosophy, throughout the ages, although of academic interest, has/had a tendency toward the esoteric and mystical, often adding a hefty dose of mythical elements masquerading as true, enlightened wisdom. This not to say that the Western variety is exclusively rational. For instance, check out the writings of Plato and Kant to name but two. Rational Western philosophers, are not always rational and irrational philosophers are not always irrational; tis extremely difficult to be consistent, all the time. And indeed, Western savants have oft been happy to sprinkle, or sometimes drench their work with theology. Alfred North Whitehead and Schopenhauer acknowledged their debt to Hinduism. While, Aquinas' philosophical system is only comprehensible within a Christian context. Even the great founder of modern Western philosophical thought, Descartes, added theology to his works. That said, too much of a generalisation tends to over simplification and the risk of lapsing into unintelligibility and lack of clarity. Arse.

Western philosophy, at its best, makes a distinction between knowledge that can be accessed by the Scientific Method and knowledge that can obtained by thought alone. I wont delve into the distinction between these distinct modes of knowledge acquisition as I have covered this ground in previous posts- if you are a true seeker of wisdom, then all will be revealed. 

Philosophic discourse, is eminently suited to such conundrums as: what is courage (Laches?); how can we live a moral existence?; what is the mind, can it be separated from matter?; does life have a purpose or are we adrift in an insouciant Universe? This is just a meagre selection of topics amenable to the Philosophic method, whatever that might be..... The answer to these questions cannot be resolved in the lab. Even the most powerful electron microscope will shed no light, or electrons, on the topics under scrutiny. Most of these enquiries are open ended, and therefore there is no precise, definite answer. In contrast, logical analysis and the quest for knowledge (Epistemology) can provide definitive solutions that defy dispute and remain forever true. And it here that we discern an overlap with the domain we identify as Science.  

Imagine a Venn diagram consisting of the spheres of Philosophy and Science. This would reveal a degree of correspondence between these two domains. The overlap would not be great, but the relationship is clearly significant. There are those who would argue that there should be an additional sphere; the sphere of Theology. I find it difficult to imagine any degree of interaction with our neatly arrayed spheres of  Philosophy and Science. Theology, consists of  a series of dogmatic beliefs and doctrine. The answers to life's mysteries are already known with a certainty that revolts the modern mind and remains in stark contrast to the temper of rational thought. Faith, provides solace to those who believe, but faith does reveal true knowledge. On the basis of faith all is possible. Religious certainty provides comforting fairly tales for those seeking assurance in a chaotic world. Theology, as a topic, remains outside the acquisition of knowledge and is best confined to the realm of psychology and sociology. 

A simple definition defies analysis and belittles the enormity of the task. I favour a series of phrases that interact to build a coherent framework. Each phrase should interlock into this framework and each phrase should be internally consistent as well as exhibiting consistency with each other. This is deceptively difficult to achieve in theory and practice as we run the risk of becoming bogged down in a morass of detail. Conversely, the definition may appear too simplistic, rendering it devoid of real meaning and content.

And therefore, finally.     

Definition:  Philosophy is universally defined as the study of the wisdom or knowledge about the general problems, facts, and situations connected with human existence, values, reasons, and general reality.

My Personal Definition:  Speculations on humanity, the 'self', existence, matter and the universe. An understanding, recognition of what constitutes knowledge and how true knowledge is to be distinguished from irrational beliefs. And finally, an understanding of the limitations of knowledge acquisition.

NB: With reference to knowledge, I have taken care not to include, definite knowledge, as determined by empiricism, as this strictly remains with the domain of science, not philosophy. 

As an exercise, I challenge my readers to propose a definition of philosophy, that makes sense to them. Perhaps, if get enough people to participate it could form the basis of a mass-debate. 


 


     

 

 

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Side Effect of Scant Consequence?



 I have to confess, to date, I've been free of significant side effects of my medication regimen. Even the classic problem of constipation, following opiate medication, troubles me, not at all.

Recently I was prescribed a new medication to add to the list: Amitriptyline. Amitriptyline belongs to a class of drug termed, tricyclic antidepressants and is prescribed for a variety of ailments. For instance, in low dosage it helps with sleep disturbance and promotes nocturnal rest. It is also used as a prophylactic in the prevention of severe migraines. At higher dosage it is prescribed as an antidepressant generally where other antidepressants have proved ineffective. In addition, it is used for the curtailment of nerve pain and has been shown to be effective as a treatment for children after significant head trauma, and as an adjunct in ADHD therapy. Thus, it seems Amitriptyline is a panacea for all that ails us; a drug for all seasons.

Like all medications, Amitriptyline has a number of known side effects. The majority of these  associated problems are relatively minor, such as: dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, and weight gain. On rare occasions more serious issues have been reported, specifically blurred vision, tremor, heart palpitations (tachycardia), dizziness, etc.......

This brings me to my sad story, to relate: I had been taking the medication for about a week (75mg/day). Twas a gorgeous Spring day and I was pottering about in my 'Man Shed/Emporium' engaged in a little light woodwork. At about 2pm in the afternoon I espied a dog wandering about on the property. The dog seemed friendly so I approached and checked the collar for an identification tag. There was none so I attached a piece of string to the collar in preparation to hawk said pooch to my immediate neighbours in hope of finding the owner. As I was leading the dog off the property my daughter approached and asked what I was up to. I explained the situation and afterward she looked as if I had gone stark raving mad. It transpires that I had placed a leash on my daughter's dog, Rocco. For context: my daughter, and the hound, had been living with us for the past two years! Of course, my daughter found the whole situation absolutely hilarious. I found the situation mildly disturbing. In all other respects I felt completely normal. And no, I hadn't been drinking or partaking of non-prescription medication. Curiouser and curiouser (not a real word -go tell it to the Caroll).  

I have never experienced this type of 'dissociation/dislocation from reality' before and I'm on my guard for similar episodes. Naturally I have ascribed this 'strange phenomenon' to the Amitriptyline. Of course, I could be wrong. I did consider stop taking the drug, but I do feel I'm getting some benefit from the medication. I've decided to continue, unabated, but not without increased vigilance. I'll keep note of any similar episodes and my family will also monitor my behaviour for anything odd or outside the normal, for me at least. I'm scheduled for a consult with my G.P. in just over two weeks and I'll certainly raise the matter with the good Dr Mugumbo.

My question/quest: Do any of my readership take said drug, and if so, have they experienced any side effects similar to mine? I would be grateful for any input that might shine a little light on my, rather disturbing experience.        

Monday, 6 September 2021

Flaxen Talking Bollocks


I'm sure that in the middle of the night you have contemplated the thorny problem of why the body's most sensitive organ, the testicles, are outside the protective carapace of the male chassis? Anyone who has received a football to the bollocks will testify to evolution's folly for not contemplating internal stowage. Only a mature male can experience the nagging, dragging, agonising pain that will inevitably transpire following contact with a hard unyielding object; transsexuals, take note. Upon impact there is the inevitable two second delay as the neural signal travels from the organ of contact/impact to the brain. The finale is a paroxysmal wave of agony experienced by the soma, (O deep joy). You might conclude that males would be better served by sequestering these sensitive glands deep inside the body cavity. The fact that this profoundly delicate male organ swings unfettered and free, awaiting the exquisite vicissitudes of life's slings and arrows, seems but a cruel joke of biology. Indeed, tis the most cogent argument for an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent deity being of the female persuasion. 

The testicles are enclosed in their own 'protective', yielding bag of skin. The rugeform and elastic scrotum encapsulates this valuable organic package and keeps it sequestered from the somatic mass of the main organism. It is has not gone without notice that the scrotal sac waxes and wains according to the ambient temperature. Its inherent properties of malleability, pliability, extensibility and thermal compliance are responsible for the propensity for extreme contraction and augmentation. 

The relationship between temperature and scrotal volume has been exhaustively researched, by myself, during a time when I eschewed medication. This involved placing said sac in water of varying thermal content. Fortuitously, the water itself also serves as a measure of volume due to the ancient principle of Archimedean water displacement. Overflow was conveniently collected in a strategically placed scientific grade measuring cylinder. The result confuted and confounded expectations, and belied simple analysis. And thus, it transpired that the correlation was not an equal, direct, correspondent, comparable, proportionate relationship. To my chagrin and vexation, my data revealed a binomial, sigmoidal relationship. This is counter to intuitive expectations. However, on reflection and further research, the result was found to be in perfect accord with the general properties of elastic materials as illustrated by Charles Law.  

Science Stuff

After the above preamble tis pertinent to address the fundamental question/quest as stated, cogently and with veritable aplomb, in the first paragraph of this esteemed post.   

Testicles have two main roles in the physiology of mammals. Firstly, they are responsible for the male hormone, testosterone, that defines masculinity, in all its manifold aspects. Formation and excretion of testosterone is not exclusive to the male gender and lesser amounts are secreted by the female of the species (don't ask). Secondly, the testes are the seat of sperm production. The development of male spermatozoa is a complex and interesting topic in itself. The average healthy male 'manufactures' 50-200 million spermatozoa per day and the average ejaculate contains, on average, 7 billion of the little, wriggling buggers.

In my professional capacity as a geneticist I have had the privilege to research and develop a diagnostic laboratory technique for sperm analysis. Specifically, the methodology was aimed at detecting genetically abnormal spermatozoa in the ejaculate of men carrying a known genetic anomaly. I posted a whimsical side swipe of the experience, here:  The Flaxen Saxon Chronicles: Search results for consummate professional

My interest in matters 'Scrotal' is not confined to my professional proclivities. Indeed, I'm an esteemed inventor of note and have used my talents, as an innovator, to combine my prodigious practical proficiency with my passion for the science of Bollockology, to engineer a mechanical device for the measurement of scrotal movement following a thermal insult. The Scrotometer (pat pending) and its practical deployment can be accessed using the following link:  The Flaxen Saxon Chronicles: Search results for scrotometer

For some reason, if you click on the links provided, the relevant posts will appear when you scroll down the page.  

Some say that I'm in line to receive the Nobel Prize for being a Smart Arse (Arse).


     

  

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Latest Status Update


I retired three years ago and moved to rural New Zealand. About two years ago my old boss offered two days work a week on a series of six month contracts. To be honest, the commute has been gruelling, entailing three hours of travel by public transport- O deep joy. My current contract runs out in November and I had already decided that this was going to be the end of my employment. For the past two weeks I have been off work due to the latest COVID lockdown infesting NZ.  

On Monday evening, whilst contemplating my fate, I had an epiphany. I seriously asked myself the following question: do I need to work at this stage of my life? Of course not. I'm getting too old for 16 hour Mondays and sitting on cramped trains for hours next to an accountant from Carterton. 

As if on cue my boss phoned to discuss my status. I explained that I don't want to continue regardless of contractual obligations. I'm done. Work no more. My boss is an old friend from way back when we both worked together in England. He is sympathetic and understands my current medical status. And so after discussing the situation with the family and explaining my intention to the section leader, I irrevocably decided to resign and hand in my resignation without notice. 

As for the future. As my regulars know, I set up an archery business with my son (Saxon Archery). I envisaged the enterprise as an extension of my passion without any pretence of turning a profit. Obviously I didn't take into account my son's drive and business acumen. Although he has a demanding full time job he has managed to market the brand with deft ability. His effort and hard work have paid dividends  and orders have started to flood in. We have reached the break even stage and with further determination, and effort, we are on course to earn a modest profit. 

My break from the daily grind will allow me to devote quality time for the business. At the moment I deal with selection, packaging and despatch. With more time on the my hands I hope to takeover some of the technical and marketing aspects of the business. The aim is shift some of the burden from my overworked but highly talented son.

I'm going to leave it there. There are several posts in the pipeline and September will prove to be a time of bounty. My intuitive creativity is bursting through the dura pouring forth unto an unsuspecting blank tableau. Arse.                          

Friday, 27 August 2021

What's in a Name?

                                                                  Go whiteys! 

I've commented many times on this blog concerning the toxicity of society's emerging 'woke culture' driven by a few left wing-nuts obsessing over censoring/cauterising the best we have in our Western culture. Time and time again, the 'wokey pokey' brigade are shown to be divorced from reality and the aspirations and opinions of the reasonable majority. The masses are starting to revolt and are expressing disaffection with forced attempts of societal engineering by 'voting with their feet'. In other words, withholding their endorsement (gelt) and expressing frank disdain. Just look at instances where companies think they are tapping into the buying population's minds (read=pockets) by producing excruciating and cringe worthy adverts supposedly pandering unto the 'woke mindset'. Ill thought out campaigns of this ilk have seriously backfired in nearly all occasions resulting in a serious loss in revenue. Check out the debacle at Gillette after airing a series of bewildering 'woke ads' for the Gillette razor. The ads were blatantly insulting to men, particularly white men, and strayed into other world lands. Who can forget where the father is teaching his trans son how to shave. The backlash was swift and severe ultimately costing the company 12 billion dollars in lost revenue, overall. Advertising execs with their lattes and pony tails are so blinkered, arrogant and out of touch with the population they are trying, so unsuccessfully, to influence it borders on the insane. 

The main narrative of today's post concentrates on New Zealand's sports governing body decision to seriously consider 'removing' the informal, unofficial name for the nation's football team, 'The All Whites'. This affectionate moniker is long standing and is in accord with Kiwi tradition where national sport teams have been colourised and branded with the likes of: 'Black Sticks' (Hockey); 'Black Caps' (Cricket); 'Silver Ferns' (Netball); 'All Blacks' (Rugby); and of course, the infamous and irrepressible/irascible 'Taupe Ferrets' (National Ferret wobbling Team).  

The NZ Football Chief, Andrew Pregnell, stated that discussions were ongoing with a view to change the name of the nation's footy team. He was quoted as saying: "we are on a journey around cultural inclusivity."  The implication, of course, is that the current name can be seen as excluding non-white ethnic groups. What a sensitive bunch of snowflakes we have become. When the name 'All Whites' was first introduced forty years ago it was seen as a slight whimsy to contrast with the more popular and more famous 'All Black' rugby team. Only a moron, or more to the point someone with a political agenda, could seriously impute racist connotations to this rather bland nickname.  

But let us expand the nature of the debate for the sake of consistency and inclusivity. Notable for its absence from the discussion is the mention or inclusion (what happened to inclusivity?) of the iconic, NZ rugby team, 'All Blacks'. Surely, this is racist, highly inflammatory and deeply offensive to melanin depleted folk. Mayhap we should raise a petition demanding a change in the derogatory appellation? I'm sure the good folk of New Zealand will prove highly receptive to a proposed name change.  After all, what's in a name?  

Let me know in the comments your suggested alternative designations. To get the ball rolling, I'll add a couple of suggestions of my own: 'The Fluffy Pink Bunny Rabbits'; 'The 18 decillion varieties of colours'. You can see the fans in the stands, shouting- "Go 18 followed by 33 zeros". And my personal favourite. 'The frolicking ferrets of indeterminate hue'. Go ferrets.    










    

 

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Bugger!


O bugger. And so New Zealand joins the 'Merry Go Round' that is COVID. A single individual from Aus is responsible for the whole country being forced into lockdown with all its implications. For the past week we have wallowed at level 4 and the Auckland region will remain thusly for the next 7 days while the remainder of the country is so blessed until Friday, with the option for an extension.

This is NZ's second COVID wave after the prompt implementation of control measures (level 4 implemented 25th May 2020) which effectively eradicated the virus, give or take a couple of cases. This all changed just over week ago after a visitor from Australia was shown to be positive for the highly contagious delta variant. COVID started to disseminate in the Auckland community and to date (24th August) 148 people have tested positive. With alarmist predictions suggesting that this outbreak might culminate with a 1000 cases, the country, once again, is in the grip of draconian measures. It appears that the majority of Kiwis are in accord with the swift government action however, there have been dissenting opinions. Many business owners and in particular, restaurants/cafes, are struggling with this second lockdown with the attendant loss in revenue. And of course, the average New Zealander, denied work, and in spite of government subsidies, will experience varying degrees of hardship.      

The main criticism levelled at the government concerns the 'open borders' policy with Australia, especially after the recent outbreak of the delta variant in New South Wales. Of course, economic factors determined our exchange with our closest neighbour. This has to be balanced against current losses within the economy estimated to run into billions of groats, er dollars. To be fair, hindsight is a delightful distraction of absolutely no help in our current dilemma. 

On a sobering note, it appears that supermarkets are starting to run out of beer. What a cruel virus, indeed. It robs us of our health and the best anodyne for treatment. How can folk believe in a benevolent deity under such heinous restraints? Makes my heart bleed.   

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Oscar Wild

 


Let's be honest, the Oscars this year were a travesty and completely pointless. And yes, I'm well aware that I'm a little late in my critical appraisal, as the Oscars were screened in April- did anyone notice?

Not only the Oscars, but other 'Entertainment Extravaganzas', such as the Golden Globes, are starting to merge into a political rally for the far left. Privileged, often white actors, seize their opportunity onstage to rail against the establishment and white male societal dominance. What formally used to be light entertainment has now become a rallying event for the 'Woke Brigade'. The only glimmer of hope was last year's Golden Globe awards hosted by the irrepressible Ricky Gervaise. He pulled no punches and gave the self absorbed, self important celebs, a right royal roasting. His caustic invective caused verbal ripples and consternation among the stars. They were none too pleased to have their egos viciously pricked; he was relentless and totally merciless. And the viewing public loved it. Sadly, as Mr Gervoise predicted, it is unlikely that he will be allowed to run rampant at an awards ceremony, ever again, which is a bloody shame.

Gone are the days when award ceremonies were perceived as entertainment watched by the masses. Over recent years the 'events' have become an arena for highly paid, so called stars, to berate the audience for a host of perceived ills in society. Folks at home are not impressed and expressed their disenchantment by tuning out. They argue: what right have a bunch of 'lovies' to lecture the public? Why should we listen to a gaggle/rabble of millionaires who have found fame and fortune on the basis of good looks and luck. How are they qualified to berate the populous concerning complex issues of which they have absolutely no understanding? As Mr Gervoise so wisely expostulated: “why don't you shut the fuck up and get pissed”. Wise words indeed.

Disaffection with this year's Oscars was palpable. In 2015, the Oscars pulled in over 37 million viewing punters. This in itself was a major decline from the 1990s, when the Oscars were watched by 58 million. This year not so much. Only 9.5 million folk could be bothered to tune in. Some of the smarter celebs are seeing the 'way of the wind' and express disdain with the proceedings by not showing up to the debacle. Sir Anthony Hopkins, although receiving the Oscar for, 'Actor in a Leading Role' category, for his performance in 'The Father' couldn't be arsed to show up. Apparently, Sir Anthony's agent stated that his esteemed client was fast asleep at home.

The ceremonies have trailed away from their prime directive and are no more than a sounding board and a finger wagging exercise for a bunch of twats totally out of tune with the viewing public that they are supposed to serve. Award events have become increasingly irrelevant over recent years and deserve to wither away as befits their futile status. Will anyone notice? Gone are the days when celebs could command public awe and unjustified adoration. Our critical age has revealed their true worth. No one gives a shit. So called celebs and screen stars need to adapt to their new found, lowly status and take on board a good dose of well deserved humility, if they can. Arse.