Saturday 19 October 2019

All is Sophistry.......

On occasion, I feel so moved to resurrect an old post for the edification of my 'newish' readership. Of course, it has nothing to do with me being a fundamentally lazy arse...... O, no. Anyway, this is one from my 'Blue Period'. A time when I was trying to 'wing it' without the medication. It has always been a dilemma: If I don't take my meds my creativity runs riot and the thoughts tumble through my brain like tumbly (not a real word) things. But on the downside, I sometimes take note of the voices exhorting me to burn stuff- although, not necessarily a bad thing (see link). When medicated, the cacophony in my head is leashed however, my creativity suffers according. But at least the good Burghers of Tipton can sleep secure in their beds at night without getting their bed shirts singed, spontaneous combustion excepted.   

How many angels can you fit on the head of a pin? Don't laugh, this was a hot topic for debate amongst Clerics, c1332. This is a surprisingly subtle question and raises further questions about the fundamental nature of our existence. Anyway, if angels are not made of matter and are pure 'spiritual energy', whatever that means, then they are without dimension and form and occupy no space. Having said that however, ultimately all matter can be reduced to waves and therefore solid matter is but an illusion, although a very persistent one. What is perceived as matter is really ‘a whizz’ of wave radiation bound by forces which are poorly understood.
But contemplation of angels as 'energy' is not as simple as envisioning angels as photons. Angels are sentient and therefore their 'energy' is not the energy we are familiar with. Angels are supernatural entities and therefore reside outside the natural world and by extension are not subject to causality. Even if we could persuade a host of angels to gravitate toward the vicinity of a pinhead they would defy measurement. This is but one aspect of the discourse. 
This raises the question of how sentient supernatural beings can interact with us at all. In the distant past angels apparently communed with man; tis in the bible- look it up........
According to the Bible, angels can connect with the natural world and therefore, during this interactive interlude, they must be subject to natural law and hence causation. So, let us take a different tack for sophistry's sake.
"The medieval doctors of divinity who did not pretend to settle how many angels could dance on the point of a needle cut a very poor figure as far as romantic credulity is concerned beside the modern physicists who have settled to the billionth of a millimetre every movement and position in the dance of the electrons." 
According to Thomas Aquinas, the ultimate Catholic scholar and medieval ‘Angelic Doctor’, no two angels can occupy the same space. This is in accord with quantum physics and abides with the Pauli Exclusion Principle. The next point concerns the size of the pinhead under question: to wit, the size of a standard pinhead. In order to move this argument along it is necessary to make an assumption. 
For our purposes, said size will be a sphere of 1Angstrom diameter with an associated mass of 9.5 x 10-29kg. Also, we need to note that space is not infinitely divisible. This limit is denoted as the Planck length, or 1.6 x 10-35 m. Next, we need to decide the information carried by a standard angel. Note: I have made no allusion to mass. In fact, in this simple case, I’m assuming mass-less angels. The introduction of mass into the equation will result in ‘reducto ad absurdum’- which would make the whole argument just silly. So for our purposes, I will assume that angels comprise of ‘one bit’ of information. They cannot be less than this information limit and logically remain within our reality. There is one last concept to be introduced before we begin our calculation. The Bekenstein bound (k) or universal entropy bound is a limit on the entropy that can be contained in a physical system or object with a given size and total energy. It follows: In a system of diameter D and mass M, less than kDM distinguishable bits can exist, where k=2.57686 x 1043 bit/metre kg. From this, we can derive an upper limit of 2.448 x 105 angels on our pinhead.    
There are some clever bastards who demand that the angels should be 'a dancing'. This introduces a whole new set of thermodynamic and velocity parameters into our hypothetical situation which will undoubtedly alter the upper limit of angels gyrating on the pinhead- basically, these bastards can fuck off. 
Makes me want to burn stuff.

Sunday 13 October 2019

The Lizard Connection

David Icke in repose

Let me introduce you to the entity called David Icke. In the 1970s David was a professional football player resplendent in the English football league (c’mon the baggies). When his career ended due to an auto-immune condition (rheumatoid arthritis) he became a sports commentator on the tele. He was articulate, opinionated, popular and obviously intelligent. In 1990 he had an epiphany while in a Ryde bookstore on the Isle of Wight. Apparently, a voice commanded him to go to the ‘Psychic Section’ and it was there that he espied a book written by a psychic living in Brighton. He felt compelled to visit the psychic and during the interview, she told him he was about to become an important recipient of supernatural and psychic messages. From that moment the ‘scales fell from his eyes’ and a worldwide conspiracy became evident…… Subsequently, he popped up on a popular talk show, ‘The Terry Wobegone Show’. He appeared in a turquoise tracksuit and calmly announced he was the son of god and the world was about to end. The audience did not seem to be overly impressed and greeted the revelation with howls of derision and laughter. Overnight he went from a respected television personality to a full-blown fruit loop and a bona fide swivel-eyed, looney. Although his views have evolved over the intervening years, as described graphically in his 20 or so books, there are a few consistent themes. In the following paragraph, I’ll outline a few of his ideas: read and weep.

He believes that aliens from another galaxy came to earth several thousand years ago. He calls these aliens, Archons and they are depicted as tall reptile-like creatures. The Archons manipulated human DNA to produce human/alien hybrids. These hybrids have become the leaders of the world and are in collusion to manipulate and control world events. Apparently, the goal of the lizard hybrids is to cause worldwide strife and discontent which releases negative energy. The Archons, residing in their ‘other galaxy’ home are able to feed and gain sustenance from this energy. Also, the moon is hollow and contains reptile aliens, probably on holiday from their home galaxy. They use the moon as a base to broadcast mind-controlling beams in order to manipulate the way, we humans, think and behave. The Queen, the Clintons, the Bush family and apparently Justine Beiber are part human/lizard alien. We don’t observe their natural form as they are able to shapeshift through the dimensions.

So why am I bothering to write about a man who is clearly delusional? David Icke interests me for several reasons: firstly, I honestly believe that he is sincere and earnest in his beliefs. I do not think he is a charlatan or conman in the American tel-evangelist mould. Of course, I may be wrong and it is possible the whole, ‘lizard alien’ conspiracy is a means to fleece the gullible. I suggest my readers listen to the man in action on YouTube in order that they may form their own opinion (refer to the link below). Secondly, David Icke has seemingly/seamlessly tapped into the modern preoccupation with ‘new age’ sensibilities and other- world consciousness. A hash of pseudo-scientific, Eastern spiritual and other associated nonsense. From this wobbly edifice, he speaks to packed auditoriums throughout the world holding forth for eight or 10 hours to an enthralled and captivated audience.

There is no doubt that David Icke has charisma- a quality difficult to define but you know it when you see it. How otherwise is he able to keep people seated and presumably listening for such long periods? I’ve listened to a few of his monologues and I was struck by the way he introduces and delivers his fantastical/phantasmal material without a shred of evidence or coherent progression. He talks a lot about energy and like a lot of ‘New Age folk,’ he appears to have no idea of what energy actually is.  
I don’t think Mr Icke is mad in any conventional sense. Although, I suspect, like me, he doesn’t always take his medication, prescribed or otherwise. When he holds forth on topics not related to lizard folk and a hollow moon he makes a lot of sense. I watched a video of Icke discussing the transgender movement and I found myself in agreement with many of the points he raised. He also makes some very salient points about the world we live in, none of which are particularly controversial or new. A lot of his non-delusional material is actually commonplace and mundane: it is the delivery which makes it appear novel and supposedly interesting. His ideas concerning the control of society by powerful and rich oligarchies would ring true if espoused 2,000 years ago: truly there is nothing new under the sun. Again, I suggest my readers listen to him in action- it is difficult to paraphrase all of his opinions and ideas, mainly because he holds forth on everything and at great length. His mind must be a tumult of ideas and competing voices- reminds me of someone I know. I must admit to a grudging respect for Icke. Whatever his motivation for doing what he does, he clearly is imbued with astonishing energy (whatever that is) and a singularity of purpose which is frankly admirable. I cannot dislike a man for doing what he thinks is right, although, I disagree with much of what he has to say.

I would be interested in what my readers think of David Icke: Is he a charlatan?; a man of vision?; a true prophet of our times?; or madder than mad Jack MacMad on a particularly mad day? Let me know what you think of this rather strange and driven, man. 

In this video he talks a lot of sense. In other videos, not so much.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

On Ancient Greek Mathematics

Now, where did I leave my car keys......

As moderns, all we can do is gape in wonder at the intellectual achievements of the ancient Greeks. With the eclipse of Greece following their conquest by Rome, Greek genius descended unto stasis. In the West, their achievements would not be matched for over a Millenium.

Mathematics is the epitome of clarity of thought. The scientific method, although powerful, can only give us mere mortals a side shifted glance at true knowledge. To view knowledge full-on there is only one vision, and that vision is mathematics. Only mathematics can lead fragile humans to true knowledge. One plus one is always two, at least in base ten, regardless of context and intellectual stance. To think otherwise is to contemplate the mind of a madman, or perhaps a genius.   
The ancient Greeks were the first civilisation to undertake mathematics for its own sake regardless of any practical application. The ancient Egyptians had developed their own mathematics but it was subject to matters of state and engineering. It was a practical discipline and there is no evidence that the Egyptians had any abstract concept of mathematics that was not allied to the practical and mundane.

Although the Egyptians initially influenced Greek mathematics of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the Greeks expanded and developed mathematical principles far beyond anything envisioned by the Egyptians. The Greeks, as far as we are aware, were the first ancient culture to undertake rigorous mathematical proofs to underpin their geometrical conjectures.     
In the realm of abstract mathematics, the Greeks were supreme for their time and managed to squeeze everything that could be possibly imagined from a straight edge and a compass. They achieved much even though their mathematics was limited by their crude number notation and the absence of the concept of zero. Like the Romans, the Greeks substituted letters for numbers. The system was additive and unlike the system we use today, the position of the numbers was not important. Thus, the development of algebra was denied to them. It can be argued that the development of algebra and its advanced offshoot/offspring, calculus, is the most majestic and exquisite branches of mathematics; they are certainly the most practical. And even though Greek mathematics, of the time, could not work with abstract numbers and notational substitutions, they did manage to develop a form of geometric proto-calculus under the auspices of the last great mathematician of Western antiquity, Archimedes.  The death of Archimedes in 235 BC, at the hands of a Roman soldier, signalled the end of Greek mathematics in any innovative sense. Archimedes’ calculation of the area of two-dimensional figures by the product of the infinitesimal anticipates the great insights of Newton and Leibnitz in the 17th century.

Up until a hundred years ago, Euclid’s 14 books on geometry, ‘The Elements’, were an essential study for Victorian grammar school pupils. All of geometry is laid bare in these worthy tomes. These books are crammed with ancient mathematical wisdom and wonderful expositions of mathematical proofs. The basic geometrical axioms established by ancient Greek thinkers is probably one of their greatest legacies.

Most folk have heard of Pythagoras and the theorem that bears his name, although it is unlikely that Pythagoras ‘invented’ this theorem himself. Why he has become associated with this cardinal rule has been lost in the vast (nay extensive) mists of time. Pythagoras and his acolytes flourished in the 6th century BC and were a rather a strange bunch. If they were existent today we would describe them as a cult. They espoused some rather odd ideas and they were obsessed with numbers. To the Pythagoreans, everything was related to number and they extended their mathematical insight into the realm of musical harmony. When one of their acolytes discovered irrational numbers (a number that cannot be expressed as a fraction) he was taken out to sea and drowned. In this way, they hoped to suppress this seditious and dangerous notion. With the discovery of irrational numbers, mathematics lost its impeccable perfection and symmetry at least in the eyes of the Pythagoreans. The discovery that ‘rogue numbers’ had an abstract existence was a serious blow to this rather weird aesthetic sect- they would never be the same again. I’ve discussed Pythagoras, and his followers, previously in this blog: here is the link.

Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia and parts of India introduced the Greeks to Babylonian astronomy. During his excursions, Alexander founded a number of cities throughout the former Persian empire, the greatest, of course, was Alexandria in northern Egypt. Egyptian Alexandria became a seat of great learning and knowledge and attracted eminent mathematicians and philosophers throughout the Hellenistic world.

With the subjection of the Greeks by Rome and their integration within the Roman Empire, innovative mathematics ceased. The pragmatic/phlegmatic Romans had little time for abstract mathematical concepts. If maths could help with the building of straight roads or the manufacture of engines of war, all well and good, however, the Romans had no interest or aptitude for mathematics in general, especially in the abstract. And it is probably true that all Roman mathematics was wholly dependent and derivative from Greek ideas and principles.                            

Western mathematics would languish until invigorated by Indian mathematical concepts, transmitted through contact with the Muslims, during the early middle ages. The power of ‘Arabic numerals’, our current counting system, was quickly recognised by the scholars of the day, although the Catholic church was against it (O, what a surprise!). It allowed Western mathematics to develop beyond geometry and expand into new and exciting mathematical territory. From the Hindus, the West came to understand the concept of zero. The importance of this simple (?is it) concept cannot be underestimated and historically, together with the development of the positional decimal number system, represents perhaps the most important insight in the development of mathematical theory.

Perhaps, I will be so moved by zero’s noble and lofty countenance, that I will pen a post dedicated to its magnificence: I’ll put it on the list for future contemplation.   

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Sharon Thunderberg-Whine

Sharon in  Repose

Greta Garbage
Great news from the humble Hamlet of Tipton as it nestles within the folds of its grime besmirched coal fields. For it can be revealed today that Tipton is about to receive a state visit from the diminutive juvenile environmental activist and annoying twat, Sharon Thunderberg-Whine. As you will no doubt be aware, Sharon obtained international stardom after burning down her school in her native Dudley as a protest against emissions from burning fossil fuels and the ubiquitous presence of ugly smelly people. She has inspired mentally challenged pupils throughout the world to set fire to their schools in a mass conflagration of mass ignorance.

Little Miss Sunshine
Little miss wonderful will arrive in Tipton by a luxurious and sumptuously appointed barge. In order to save the earth’s precious resources, she will travel up the Dudley to Tipton canal in a barge powered by ferrets. The ferrets will be cunningly arrayed in serried ranks and their little scurrying feet will turn a spindle attached to an oil-burning turbine. In addition, little solar panels have been sewn into their skin and if the guttering Tipton sun manages to break through the smog it will provide enough energy to light one of Greta’s cigarettes (non-filtered, of course). Once alighted, Greta will address a meeting of the Amalgamated Research Society for the Environment (ARSE) in the well-appointed town hall next to the gas works and the lard rendering facility.

Little Miss Gobshite
Previously, she has presided over meetings as far away as Birmingham. In one speech she described the West Midlands as a shit hole full of unwholesome, smelly poor people. In a flood of tears, she blurted out that she didn’t want to live in a world where women shop at Aldi in housecoats and slippers. A world where gas emissions vented by people subsisting on a diet of kebabs, chips and blue pop fill the atmosphere like a miasma of doom. She wanted a future populated by nice, quiet, middle-class folk. Folk who can read and string together coherent sentences and don’t fart in public. She expostulated, in between vales/hails of tears, that she would burn down every school in the West Midlands if that is what it would take to achieve her dream.

Fifteen Minutes of Pain
Miss Thunderberg-Whine has been lauded for her lifestyle and pundits have implored the populace to do as she tells them. She eats only pig’s pudding and whelks washed down with copious amounts of brown Ale. She smokes only the finest non-filtered fags with a carbon emission footprint of a Yeti. It has been speculated that Sharon (pronounced Sharone) is the greatest thing to hit the West Midlands since the German bombing raid of March 1941. It has been put forth by folk, who talk loudly in Indian restaurants, that Greta is likely to win this years prestigious ‘Scowling in Pigtails Award’. An award originally inaugurated by the Tipton impresario, Alfred Nobhead in 1911 for the citizen with the best scowl whilst sporting a pigtail.  

Smelly People and Ferrets
Miss Thunderberg-Whine has not gone forth without criticism. It has been pointed out that the ferrets propelling the barge are apt to release tons of methane gas from their anal glands. In addition, the barge crew is perhaps the smelliest, poorest and most uneducated folk in the Greater Tipton Metropolis. This has prompted some to state that Greta’s penchant for burning down our education edifices is only going to compound the problem she is advocating against, moving forward.

The Inevitable, Mrs Mugumbo
Mrs Impromptu Mugumbo of no fixed bowel movements had this to say when berated by an intrepid reporter in Tipton High Street yesterday: “I wish she would just piss off and return to the obscurity she undoubtedly deserves. Why should we listen to a 16-year-old schoolgirl with mental health issues and who clearly has no conceptual grasp of the complex issues she bangs on about. Go back to your special school and obtain some well-needed education. You are being indulged and cynically exploited by politicians and sundry hippy types. Your unrealistic childlike dream is a but a gossamer phantasm fueled by environmental left-wing liberals with a wider agenda. Perhaps when you are older you will gain a little wisdom and humility. Then you may be qualified to hold forth on some of the world’s most complex and intractable problems. However, by then no one will be listening to you as will have been consigned to the rubbish bin of history".

Wise words Mrs Mugumbo, wise words, indeed……..