Friday 31 March 2023


                                             Don't Pat the Cute Puppy Doge

I became inspired to tackle this subject by a news report released the other day: 'Patient with Rabies detected in New Zealand'. This is the first case ever to be identified in this country. The report states that the disease was contracted overseas and there is no subsequent risk of further infection. The patient eventually succumbed to this horrific disease. Without a lengthy and rigorous treatment, rabies is virtually 100% fatal.

Rabies is a serious disease, although mercifully not endemic in the West, yet. Thusly, 
this post will be serious and friviourless nonsense will not be part of this essay.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but can also be contracted through exposure to infected saliva, such as a scratch or lick on broken skin or exposed mucous membranes. 

A bit of science stuff: The rabies virus belongs to the family Rhabdoviridae and is a bullet-shaped virus approximately 180 nm long and 75 nm wide. It is a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus, meaning that it carries its genetic material in the form of RNA rather than DNA (retrovirus).

Rabies is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans. The virus is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals, and can be transmitted to humans, or other animals, through a bite from an infected animal. Dogs, racoons, bats, skunks and foxes represent the most common animals to be affected/infected with the virus and then able to that transmit the disease to humans.

Once the virus enters the body, it travels to the central nervous system (CNS), where it replicates and causes a local inflammatory reaction. The virus then spreads to other parts of the body, such as the salivary glands, where it can be transmitted.

The incubation period for rabies in humans is typically between 1 and 3 months but can range from a few days to several years. During this time, the virus can spread to other parts of the body, including the brain, where it causes severe neurological issues. Symptoms of rabies in humans include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle weakness, and tingling or prickling sensations at the site of the initial wound. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms develop, such as insomnia, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, and hydrophobia (fear of water). The disease is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. 

Treatment involves a series of injections of rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine. The immune globulin is given to provide immediate protection against the virus, while the vaccine is given to stimulate the body's immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. The vaccine is typically given in a series of 4 doses over a period of 14 days. If treatment is started soon after exposure to the virus, it is almost always effective in preventing the development of rabies. However, once symptoms develop the treatment regimen is usually ineffective. Thus, treatment should be prompt and aggressive following exposure.

Rabies is a significant problem in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 59,000 people die from rabies each year, with the majority of deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. Despite the availability of effective vaccines, access to these vaccines remains limited. This is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of resources and infrastructure, as well as cultural beliefs and attitudes towards animals.

I think I have been sensible long enough and that this post should terminate on a well-deserved and elongated, Arrrrrrrrrrse. Nuff said. 

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Russell's Paradox

                                                               Herr Cantor in a set of one

In this post, I'm taking a break from my latest obsession with 'Roman History' and interlarding my general nonsense with something very sensible and philosophical   

Bertrand Russell was an English mathematician, logician, philosopher, and undoubted intellectual powerhouse of the 20th century. I consider him the last 'Great Polymath' as his interests and abilities were diverse and multitudinous. His book: 'A History of Western Philosophy' is a wonder to behold. A great book by a great man. In this book, Russell not only encapsulates philosophic development spanning 2,500 years he also manages to place individual philosophers within historical and intellectual contexts. He cogently and eloquently represents philosophers within their intellectual milieu. He goes to great effort to consider the influence of prior philosophers upon man (philosophers are always, men- except in modern times when they are not), and the subsequent furtherance of intellectual development on those to come. In addition, his style is compact, elegant and without unnecessary embellishment. He comes from a time when folk of genius seemed to burst forth like ripe fruit in the summer sun and their abundant cornucopia spillethed (not a real word) upon a florid landscape (steady Flaxen-Arse). Alas, those times are no more.

Anyway, I've waxed enough- tis time to get to the point. Today's fare is a little on the dry side and intrudes upon the esoteric. It concerns, 'Set Theory'. Set theory was initiated in the 1870s by the brilliant German mathematician, Georg Cantor. Simply stated it concerns stuffing stuff into boxes, of different hues, or the same hue,  just because we can. As you will note, my style for the following is vastly different from my usual grandiloquent style. Tis more in keeping with my professional stance, in times past and not a single 'Arse' shall impinge, unless I get bored.  This post is not for all as it is, as a consequence of the subject matter a tad dry. But, gentle reader, it is difficult to present the problem in a more 'user-friendly' manner.  

Russell's paradox is a classic paradox in set theory that is named after the English philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell. The paradox arises when we consider the set of all sets that do not contain themselves. This set, known as the Russell set, is defined as follows:

R = {X | X is a set that does not contain itself}

The paradox arises when we ask the question: Does R contain itself? If R contains itself, then it must satisfy the condition of being a set that does not contain itself, which is a contradiction. On the other hand, if R does not contain itself, then it must satisfy the condition of being a set that does contain itself, which is also a contradiction. Thus, the paradox shows that there cannot be a set of all sets that do not contain themselves.

The paradox was first discovered by Russell in 1901 when he was attempting to find a way to avoid the logical paradoxes that had been discovered by the German mathematician Georg Cantor. Cantor had shown that there are different sizes of infinity and that the set of all sets is a larger infinity than any other infinity. This led to paradoxes like the set of all sets that do not contain themselves, which seemed to defy logic.

Russell's paradox is significant because it shows that there are limits to what we can define using set theory. It reveals a fundamental inconsistency in the way we think about sets and collections. It demonstrates that some assumptions we make about sets can lead to contradictions and inconsistencies.

To understand the paradox in more detail, let's consider the two cases that arise when we ask whether R contains itself or not.

Case 1: R contains itself

Suppose that R is a set that contains itself as an element. This means that R satisfies the condition of being a set that does not contain itself because R is a set that contains itself as an element. But this leads to a contradiction because R cannot both contain itself and not contain itself at the same time.

To see why, suppose that R contains itself as an element. Then R satisfies the condition of being a set that does not contain itself because R is a set that contains itself as an element. But this means that R does not belong to the set R, because the set R consists only of sets that do not contain themselves. This leads to a contradiction because R must belong to the set R since we assumed that R contains itself as an element.

Case 2: R does not contain itself

Suppose that R is a set that does not contain itself as an element. This means that R satisfies the condition of being a set that does not contain itself. But this leads to another contradiction because R must be an element of the set of all sets that do not contain themselves. But R is itself a set that does not contain itself, so it must be an element of this set. This contradiction arises because we cannot consistently define the set of all sets that do not contain themselves.

The paradox shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we think about sets and collections. We assume that any collection of objects can be made into a set, but this assumption leads to paradoxes like Russell's paradox. We cannot define a set of all sets that do not contain themselves, because such a set leads to a contradiction.

Russell's paradox has significant implications for the foundations of mathematics and logic. It shows that some of our most basic assumptions about sets and collections are flawed and that we need to be careful when defining sets and collections. It also shows that there are limits to what we can prove using set theory and that we need to be aware of the limitations of our theories.

A select few great thinkers have proposed ways of circumventing the above contradiction. However, I deem that if I continue in this vein I will lose what little readership I already have.

Tis enough for today. I will endeavour to pen a less boring post on the morrow, but only if I remember to take my medication.  


Friday 24 March 2023


What a Pooftah

No doubt my astute readership will notice the flurry of posts toward the end of this month. In truth, I have a number of posts ready and waiting for posting but for the want of a little editing. Some of these posts 'in waiting' are quite old and thusly I've decided to put forth a little editing effort.

The Roman Emporer Elagabalus ruled Rome for but a short time. The reign was truncated and tumultuous, marked by scandal, corruption, and religious controversy.

I've written extensively about ancient Rome including vignettes on the more famous/infamous Roman emperors. Of course, there are many to write about, although most are unremarkable and demand to be forgotten. During the 3rd century, during a crazy period of political instability, emperors came and went at an alarming rate and it is a wonder why so many seemed so keen to take office when the average tenure could be measured in months. A time unimaginatively known as the 'Crisis of the Third Century'. Anyway, I've decided to continue the theme, concentrating on some of the more interesting and colourful characters ever to don 'The Purple'. Today's post concerns emperor Elagabalus. This was not his given name but a later addition/affectation due to his adherence to weird and exotic Oriental religious practices. This character was unfit to rule and was not expected to. A mere marionette whose strings were pulled by powerful personalities behind the screen, notably his mother and grandmother. 

If decadence can be measured by its rulers then the 'rule' of Elagabalus indicates how far the once great Roman Empire and society had declined. An institution initiated by Octavius in 27BC had seen a plethora of incumbents, of varying competence by the time of Elagabalus' rule. However, the general reader only remembers the like of Nero and Caligula. Who recalls Marcus Aurelius or Vespasian?

Elagabalus, also known as Heliogabalus, was a Roman Emperor who 'ruled' from 218 to 222 AD. He was born in 203 AD in Emesa, Syria, as the son of Sextus Varius Marcellus and Julia Soaemias, who was the niece of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus. His real name, assigned at birth, Sextus Varius Avitus Bassinianus, was more in keeping with his eventual destiny. He adopted the nickname Elagabulus due to the worship of a sun deity of the same name. Like Gaius Caesar Germanicus, who from an early age became known as Caligula (little boots), Elagabalus is virtually unknown by his birth name. At the tender age of 14, this unremarkable wretch became emperor after the assassination of his cousin, emperor Caracalla. Caracalla is also worthy of my literary ministrations- mayhap a blog topic for the future? 

Elagabalus was known for his extravagance, particularly his lavish spending on religious rituals and ceremonies. As mentioned, he worshipped an Eastern sun god and was a self-appointed priest of the effete deity, Elagabal, and rashly brought the cult of Elagabalus to Rome when he became Imperator. He ordered the construction of a temple to Elagabalus on the Palatine Hill, and he himself would perform the religious ceremonies, wearing extravagant robes and jewellery. He even tried to introduce the worship of Elagabalus as the primary religion of the Roman Empire, which caused outrage among the Roman people. Rome was usually tolerant of the importation and inclusion of foreign gods into their pantheon, nevertheless, there was a strict hierarchy of deities with the traditional Roman gods at the pinnacle. Even the dissipated Roman populace of the period was not quite ready for the usurpation of their religion by a lush Oriental idol. Eventually, Christianity would fulfil the role once Roman civilisation was at its nadir. 

Elagabalus was also known for his scandalous personal life. He married five times, including a Vestal Virgin, which was considered a grave offence in Roman society and without precedent. And indeed, in more enlightened times, a Vestal who broke her vows of chastity would be buried alive. He justified his decision by stating that the union, if fruitful, would result in 'god-like children'. A Roman should stay within cultural norms or be Caesar. He also had numerous sexual relationships with both men and women, which was considered abhorrent by conservative Romans. His behaviour was seen as disrespectful to Roman values and traditions, and he began to accrue opposition from the Roman Senate and more importantly and disastrously, the military. 

In addition to his religious and personal controversies, Elagabalus was also known for his ineffectual rule. He was heavily influenced by his mother, Julia Soaemias, and his grandmother, Julia Maesa, who were both ambitious and sought to control the emperor. Elagabalus was often distracted by his extravagant lifestyle and did not pay much attention to the affairs of the state. He appointed incompetent officials and advisors, which led to widespread corruption and mismanagement.

Elagabalus faced several challenges during his reign, including military uprisings and invasions by foreign powers. In 222 AD, he faced a rebellion led by his own cousin, Alexander Severus, who was supported by the Roman Senate and the Praetorian Guard. In March 222AD whilst visiting the Praetorian camp Elagabalus was assassinated along with his mother, Julia Soaemias, by his own troops. Alexander Severus became the new emperor and attempted to restore order to the Roman Empire. For the period, Severus' reign of 13 years (222-235AD) is to be considered almost miraculous.    

Despite his short and controversial reign, Elagabalus  left a lingering impression on Roman history. His introduction of the cult of Elagabalus to Rome had a lasting impact on Roman religion, and some scholars argue that his influence can be seen in later Christian practices. His scandalous personal life and extravagance also contributed to the further decline of the Roman Empire and the erosion of traditional Roman values. Elagabalus remains a fascinating figure in Roman history, representing the excesses and corruption of the later Roman Empire. 

Wednesday 22 March 2023

The Unkindest Cut of All

 The Tool of Religious Devotion 

Today's contribution is a little off the beaten track in comparison to my usual literary fare. Here I briefly consider, in my opinion, one of the vilest and most despicable practises enacted by the Catholic Church in a long history and litany of horror put forth in the name of 'Religious Devotion'. A practice performed on boys, subject to coercion, or at worst, performed without consent. A procedure that left the abused mutilated and forever locked in sexual immaturity.      

Castrati were male singers castrated before puberty to preserve their high-pitched singing voices. This practice originated in Italy in the 16th century and continued for a further three centuries. Testicular removal was deemed, and designed, to preserve a male's prepubertal voice. A most desired characteristic to please the rich and higher clergy alike. Mutilation was seen as a way to produce a type of singer who could perform the elaborate and highly ornamented music of the Baroque and early Classical periods. In this post, I will examine both the history and controversy surrounding this perverse/perverted practice.

The act of castrating young boys for the purpose of musical prowess began in the late 16th century in Italy. The demand for castrati arose from the growing popularity of opera, which featured highly virtuosic singing that required a range and flexibility of voice that few mature, and intact, male singers could achieve. Castration, prior to puberty, prevented the boy's larynx from fully developing, allowing them to retain their high-pitched singing voices forevermore.

The procedure was performed by cutting off the testicles, which produced a number of physiological changes in the body (no shit). The lack of testosterone during a critical developmental time prevented the vocal cords from thickening, which, in turn, allowed the retention of prepubescent vocal tones. The castrati also had larger lung capacity and therefore greater endurance, which allowed them to sustain long, complex vocal passages.  

Castrati quickly became the stars of the opera world, and their popularity spread throughout Europe. They were highly sought after by opera companies and performed for royalty and the wealthy elite. Their voices were considered to be the pinnacle of vocal artistry, and they were revered for their ability to sing with incredible power, range and emotion.

Despite their success and popularity, the practice of castration was controversial, and enlightened folk railed against the custom. The Catholic Church initially supported the practice, as castrati were considered to be an acceptable alternative to women singing in church choirs, which was deemed inappropriate. Of course, there was no way the inferior female, the wretched instigator of the 'The Fall' would be allowed to sing in God's sacred house. Arse. The Church believed that only castrati could provide a pure, angelic sound to enhance the liturgy, sans bollocks.

However, as the popularity of castrati grew, so did its criticism. In time, it began to be viewed, by many, as an abomination against nature. The procedure was also dangerous, and many boys died during the procedure, or by subsequent infection or other medical complications, post-op.

As the 18th century progressed and with the 'Enlightenment' in full swing, attitudes toward castrati began to shift about a bit. Enlightened times brought forth a greater focus on reason and ethics, and castration was increasingly seen as barbaric and a violation of basic human rights. The Church also began to distance itself from the practice and issued a decree in 1770 that prohibited the castration of boys for musical purposes.

Despite this, the popularity of castrati persisted into the 19th century, although it began to decline as musical tastes changed. The rise of Romanticism and the emphasis on naturalism in music led to a greater appreciation for more natural, unadorned singing styles. By the mid-19th century, the practice of castration had largely disappeared.

Today, there is a renewed interest in the castrati and their music. Modern technology has allowed us to recreate the sound of the castrati using computer modelling and voice analysis. Recordings of modern singers performing castrati repertoire can be found online and in music stores.

The controversy surrounding castrati raises important ethical questions that still resonate today. The practice of castration for musical purposes violated the natural rights of the child and caused immense physical and emotional pain. At the same time, it produced some of the most sublime and beautiful music ever written. The legacy of the castrati reminds us of the power of music and the lengths to which people will go to achieve musical perfection. And also, it is a reminder of the power of the Catholic Church in times past. What an execrable institution.  

Thursday 9 March 2023

Ode to Shagger the Ferret

                                Shagger in his prime: Go Shagger!

Tis the first post of the merry month of May (poetic licentious)

and I have penned an ode to my beloved ferret, Shagger. I'm inclined to style my prose with an archaic lilt just to show what a pretentious cunt I am. Arse

Oh, Shagger, fair ferret of the land,

With fur as soft as finest sand.

Thy whiskers long, thy eyes so bright,

Thou art a creature of delight.

From field to field, thy feet doth tread,

A nimble soul, with grace instead.

A playful beast, with tricks to share,

Thou art a creature beyond compare.

With every bound, and every leap,

Thou dost evoke a joy so deep.

The children laugh, the elders smile,

Thou art a creature without guile.

Oh, Shagger, creature of the wild,

With spirit free and heart beguiled,

Thou dost run and jump and play,

And fill our hearts with joy each day.

Thy nimble form, with grace and charm,

Dost fill our souls with sweetest balm.

Thy playful ways, thy gentle soul,

Thou art a creature of the whole.

From dawn till dusk, and dusk till dawn,

Thou art a creature to be drawn.

With love and laughter in thy wake,

Thou art a creature we must take.

Oh, Shagger, fair ferret of the land,

With fur as soft as finest sand.

Thy spirit free, thy heart so true,

Thou art a creature we pursue.

In fields and woods, in hills and glades,

Thy spirit free, thy soul ne'er fades.

Thou art a creature of the wild,

With heart and soul both sweet and mild.

So come, dear Shagger, take my hand,

And lead me through this wondrous land.

With thee beside me, heart so bright,

I know my days will be filled with light.

Oh, Shagger, creature of the wild,

With spirit free and heart beguiled,

Thou dost run and jump and play,

And fill our hearts with joy each day.

So there it is gentle reader. My heart overflows with plaque and assorted cellular detritus. So before you go, take heed, and be overjoyed to know that my next post will be very sensible indeed. This will manifest my true nature and detract/distract from my palpable, nay glaring, ferret fixation.