First Coffee for 18 Months…

This morning we sat down at an alfresco table in the main square of our local town. On it was a discreet note saying please show your proof of vaccination before ordering. The young lady came up with her smartphone, scanned the QR codes and took our order. It was the first time we ordered anything at a café for 18 months. One still has to wear masks outside in busy town centres, when walking around. But there was no hassle, it was simple enough.

An older man tipped up and he loaded his proof of vaccination up on his smart phone and the lady had phone to phone interaction with him. There were two Brits sat nearer the café one of them with an aperitif at 10:30 AM.

Recently Ursula von der Leyen outlined a new EU semiconductor initiative in which the EU will work together to build semiconductor capacity. It is unwise to strategically depend on China and Taiwan for semiconductor chips. If China does to Taiwan what it did to Hong Kong the chip supply would dry up. The EU has all the skill sets necessary to design chips and run fabrication plants, FABs. There are some operational.

This graphic from the FT speaks volumes.

The USA let its allies down in Afghanistan.

The UK does not do any significant semiconductor production.

Australia has some semiconductor minnows.

I am concerned at the move outlined in the previous post.

I was sat in a nice square and my background processor was whirring away. I am not sure that the UK government really “gets” technology nor the scale thereof.

Hmnn..

Is Knowledge Sectarian?

I’ll wager that there are not more than a few people on this planet who have a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics and over 50 peer reviewed science articles and who have successfully completed a foundation course in North American Indian and Runic shamanism.

I am still reading Le Chamanisme by Mircea Eliade which is a weighty tome and in French. I am about four fifths of the way through, and I am getting to learn some vocabulary that you won’t normally come across. In principle I am “qualified” to set up shop doing dream analysis, healing, shamanic journeying etc.. I have also just put some spirit vinegar, some water and some sodium chloride into the kettle. The latter decreases the pH by the common ion effect. The idea is to remove the calcium carbonate deposits.

For me knowledge in not sectarian.

When I first started the course on shamanism, the people when they found out my background, were very suspicious of my motives for being there, even when I told them that one of my maternal relatives was allegedly a witch. I suspect that many of my science contacts would have thought me a bit of a fruitcake. At this level, yes “knowledge” is sectarian.

In my prior incarnation as a science academic, I have met physicists who have thought themselves better, purer and perhaps brainer than chemists. So even at this level there is a measure of sectarianism. Physics is pure, chemistry is dirty.

Reading the thesis I found the other day, I noted to myself that I really have very little idea what goes on in social sciences, history, even biology at universities. My ignorance is large. When I used to do tutoring for UK Grad for Ph.D. students from all disciplines, I ran a session on careers in academia. Because I am very informal there were no taboos. These were well attended, and I was amazed at how hard it was for not scientists and engineers to get funded for their research. I was fascinated by the stories of some of them getting “white glove” only access to manuscripts. I really badly wanted to go along on one such visit. These people were in many ways more dedicated than the students I knew. Their theses took longer to complete. It wasn’t bang of a couple off papers’ worth of data, write a book and then done.

We don’t really know what goes on in other disciplines. Put me in an organic chemistry synthesis lab and I would not have a clue what to do. I would be more at home in a physics lab than a chemistry one. Someone once told me that doing a Ph.D. was about learning more and more about less and less. But these days much of the interesting science and the new frontiers lies at the interface between “disciplines” and the interface between length scales.

What struck me reading the accounts from over a hundred years ago was how much more interest in things other than the well-defined there was then than there are now. We can define ourselves as a scientist, have a degree of Doctor of Philosophy but be completely disinterested in philosophy and sacerdotal things.

We may show a highly sectarian and judgemental view of things New Age {for example} and we may do this without any exploration thereof. We may be prejudiced against before any inquiry.

Are we in fact by this kind of behaviour being retrogressive?

What about the interface between science knowledge and sacred knowledge?

It certainly does not smack of any renaissance or renascence…

I doubt knowledge itself can be sectarian, those holding it, in possession of it, can be sectarian in outlook.

Is Intellectual Capacity in Part Genetic?

Given that we live in times where the phenomenon of woke is amongst us, such a topic is perhaps potentially contentious. The Ethnic monitoring form previous is potentially sampling, in a very broad way, genetics. You can chase your ancestral make-up with a home DNA testing kit.

I have been reading a couple of very “toe in the water” articles in The Guardian suggesting that there is indeed a measure of causal linkage between a collection of certain gene markers and time spent in education. Boy, were they stepping gingerly in case they get accused of eugenics! My old university has renamed various buildings and theatres because they are loosely associated with eugenics.

What does common sense tell us?

Have we not heard things like, “she is brainy just like her mum and dad?”

So common sense suggests that intellectual prowess is related to genes, in some way. However, “brainy” parents are likely to torment their children, so there is a nurture thing too. If for example you want to tire out a five-year-old, get them to do Sudoku puzzles just before bedtime. Trust me, this works a treat.

This science only type argument only speaks of the physical form, not the indwelling being.

You might have the latest chip set from Intel, but what about a good operating system and who is writing the programmes?

The parents “provide” the nascent vehicle for the reincarnating Soul to inhabit. Each lifetime the Soul chooses an appropriate vehicle for its’ planned learning that lifetime. If this argument is valid then there is more to the manifestation of intellect than a set of base pairs.

The Soul therefore transcends any notion of ethnicity or race, or genetics.

The Soul needs a vehicle in which to learn.

It might choose a Peugeot, a Land Rover, a Toyota, or a Chevrolet. To fix your attention on the car is racist. To inquire only after the driver is inclusive and in no way separative.  The meat does not matter, the indwelling being is and does.

Given that many of us have had many incarnations, if you look down on say a Welsh person for being a Taff {and not English}, it is possible that you too have been one once and that you have forgotten how very fortunate you were to have been one of God’s people living in God’s country.

Do you get my drift?

In years to come there will be literally billions of Souls who have had either an Indian or Chinese incarnation.

Technically the Soul has its causal body and this, in the line of causality, precedes the DNA. The Soul causes the DNA which enables the construction of the nascent vehicle. The DNA is not a cause it is an effect.

Oh, by the way, do you ever judge a book by its’ cover?

Are you susceptible to advertising?

It Takes Power to Talk About Power

This is the aphorism I mentioned paraphrased. I could have written it; it requires some knowledge to speak about knowledge in a meaningful way. Or even; one has to have at least a modicum of wisdom to speak wisely about wisdom, its acquisition and application.

For me personally these Toltec aphorisms are by nature profound and succinct. It would be relatively easy to expand each one of them up into thousands of words.

Take the alternative meaning of power, the one of positional or political power. Until one has had a modicum of this one does not know what it feels like to wield power. One is also unaware of the temptations posed by such power. One might even get caught snogging an aide in front of a security camera.

Power of this nature cannot really be speculated upon; it has to be experienced. There are many people who might seek power but then when they have it be unable to use it or wield it. They may not like the flip side of “responsibility” which comes with great power as Spiderman alleges. The notion of power is one thing, its yoke quite another. There is another aphorism of my own writing.

“Power can do weird shit to people, man.”

When I started teaching it was before the days of PowerPoint. One used an overhead projector or old-fashioned chalk. I thought I was a smart young gun. That was until I tried to do a live chalk-based derivation of some rate laws in front of a hundred ultra-smart undergraduates. I nearly shit my pants when I had brain freeze and white out in front of the blackboard. Boy did I prepare well after that!!

Yellow chalk and black Levi’s are an interesting combination, be careful where you put your hands…

There is a strange quirk to my character that makes it difficult for me to teach other people. I genuinely have to understand it before I am comfortable teaching it. And for an INFJ that means understanding it on many levels and comprehensively. Others are able to confidently teach material without having to probe it, so far. Those that learn by rote to pass exams can teach by rote too. Because I don’t have a binary right / wrong orientation sometimes those brought up in a “I must pass exams” education system have initially found my methods lacking in confidence of delivery. They want to “know” the answer and I want to know even more questions. I want to fathom.

I had a break from undergraduate teaching for a long while. Then when I came to teach some of the material that I had done previously I started to find holes in the textbook derivations, too many shortcuts, wide generalisations. I found myself going back to square one and checking a whole bunch of stuff that I would have previously taken for granted.

There were some mistakes!!

I have had minor exposure to power back in the days of the start-up. Strange how I was more attractive to the ladies when I had board meetings and shares. At the moment in terms of material or temporal power I am powerless.

I can however say that powerlessness has its own special kind of power under certain circumstances. It takes powerlessness to speak on the power of powerlessness.

Having taught some material over a number of years, one can say that one’s understanding of that material changes with time. It is funny how a new facet and new insight can be had from the very same words. Even when we think we know, there is nearly always another level, should we be open enough to inquire.

One’s knowledge at any given time is just a snapshot of knowledge at that point in time, it is wise to acknowledge that this is all that it is, a fleeting understanding in our journey of evolution upon which there is no destination only travel.

If you think anything is absolute you are wrong.

Even the gospel of science evolves in time. There are many examples of scientists being adamant and later being proven inaccurate by the evolution of the knowledge base.

I am comfortable talking about knowledge, wisdom and power, because I have a modicum of experience of these things.

It is up to you to assess if I am bullshitting or not…

The Stultifying Inertia of “Normal”

Cambridge Dictionary

have your cake and eat it (too)

to have or do two good things at the same time that are impossible to have or do at the same time:

You can’t have your cake and eat it – if you want more local services, you can’t expect to pay less tax.

Wikipedia

You can’t have your cake and eat it

You can’t have your cake and eat it (too) is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech. The proverb literally means “you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it”. Once the cake is eaten, it is gone. It can be used to say that one cannot have two incompatible things, or that one should not try to have more than is reasonable. The proverb’s meaning is similar to the phrases “you can’t have it both ways” and “you can’t have the best of both worlds.”

For those unfamiliar with it, the proverb may sound confusing due to the ambiguity of the word ‘have’, which can mean ‘keep’ or ‘to have in one’s possession’, but which can also be used as a synonym for ‘eat’ (e.g. ‘to have breakfast’). Some find the common form of the proverb to be incorrect or illogical and instead prefer: “You can’t eat your cake and [then still] have it (too)”. Indeed, this used to be the most common form of the expression until the 1930s–1940s, when it was overtaken by the have-eat variant. Another, less common, version uses ‘keep’ instead of ‘have’.

Choosing between having or eating a cake illustrates the concept of trade-offs or opportunity cost.

———-

I’ll make a suggestion, and this is that the bulk of humanity is afflicted, to an extent, by the above syndrome, it wants to have its cake and eat it too.

What do you think do many people want to keep “their” precious cake and eat it?

A version of this is playing out in UK politics at the moment. Old people want to keep their capital, tied up in houses, and get “free” social care. They do not want fully means tested social care provision. A million quid house could pay for a lot of social care.

It seems reasonable to some that the old and rich get subsidised by the young and poor. It is a bit of a con…

If you look at the post two previous , seventy years ago, just after a truly massive world war, the Tibetan was hoping for a brighter less materialistic future. His hopes have not materialised. We are more materialistic than ever and now there is also a vast swath of the population obsessed by the plasticity of image.

Not only must we consume we must be seen to consume and in ultra-HD.

Over the last 18 months or so I have heard many, on the TV, say that they want to get back to “normal”. Let’s get back to status quo ante. But you can’t!! You cannot step into the same river twice and whether we wish to believe it or not the world will never be the same again even if there is a post-Covid time.

Trying to be normal is trying to remain stuck inert and unmoving. It aspires to be average. What were we before the pandemic? We were complacent and ill-prepared for a pandemic. Do we want to go back to this complacency?

People do not want climate change, but they also want to keep their highly materialistic and “normal” lifestyles.  Is that not another example of wanting to have cake and eat it too?

It is normal to demand a sunshine air miles holiday. When they change the travel traffic light list the great British public complains.

Do you want to have foreign travel and no imported coronavirus mutants? Cake?

It is not fair mummy; I can’t have both the things I want!!

There is a vague hope that technology will find an answer to climate change. Humanity has ingenuity, so it might help the problem.

Climate change is caused by materialism. It is not simply the fault of big companies, nor countries. It is OUR fault for being so materialistic. Herein lies the cause and perhaps the seed of a solution.

The economic paradigm of continuous growth upon which many western economies are based is illogical. Why? Because the planet is finite. This means that it simply cannot sustain continued growth ad infinitum.

Unless we curtail our consumerism in the light of an ever-increasing population something will pop. I don’t need a crystal ball to see this, nor do you!

 It is not a case of IF rather a case of WHEN.

Do you want to have the very latest smartphone, foreign travel and no global warming?

Is this a very normal aspiration in our times?

Cake, cake, cake

Tacit Assumptions

I’ll make an assumption that people tend to assume a whole bunch of stuff which just is not accurate.

What do you think of my assumption, is it valid, is it accurate, is it presumptuous?

This morning the lady at the place where we were registering for Breton classes heard where the wife hailed from and said that one can fly direct from Brest to there. Implicit in this is a tacit assumption that she may indeed wish to not only ‘phone home as per ET but go “home” too.  Now I am assuming that she, the Breton lady, is fond or at least attached to family and that she was perhaps projecting this sense of familial devoir. Alternatively, she might just have been making conversation.

I’ll make a statement or two.

In the last year I have had only one “social” SMS message to our shared ‘phone.

In the last five months I have had two “social” email exchanges comprising one email each way.

I have had no “social” telephone conversation in the last eight months, not one single ‘phone call.

I cannot remember the last time I spoke with anyone “socially” on the telephone, it could be over five years or more.

I have had no Skype, Zoom or whatever exchange, either, during this eight months’ time frame.

I have not met anyone {other than the wife} face-to-face for “social” purposes in over a year.

I have had only one such meeting in the last 18 months.

I’ll make a tacit assumption that many of you will find this hard to believe and even imagine that I am making this up for dramatic purposes.

Do you think that I am telling the truth? Is it even possible in this day and age?

I’ll make another statement I have not spoken on the telephone or had any face-to-face meetings with any of my former colleagues for over 12 years. If they claim to have spoken to me and hence perhaps for me, they are lying.

——————————

What do you assume from all of the above?

What are your tacit assumptions?

Is Life More Than an Extended Game of Top Trumps?

There is a human tendency, based in comparison mind, where people often compare themselves to others. Some want to feel better than others at least in one dimension. Others compare themselves to others and then beat themselves up because according to the chosen metric they are worse than.

This kind of comparison is the basis of the rather inane game of top trumps, in which you are dealt a hand of cards about cars, football players or some other trivia. One then chooses a category and challenges the other players.

Using the cards below if you chose top speed then the Porsche 928 would be the top trump you would win a card from each player. If however, you chose lowest vehicular mass then VW Sirocco GTi would win.

I am not overly fond of games like this, but some people carry them over into real life. They always have to have something with which to trump another.  

Where we lived last, they used to make very fast boats. Literally over the other side of the farmyard this boat was made, and it was back there with smoke generating accoutrements the morning after the London Olympics opening ceremony. The bloke actually driving the boat is the son of our landlord and a professional boat designer and racer.

One of the guys there, at the boatyard, was fond of fast cars as well as fast boats. He had an Audi TT. I bought a Peugeot 208 GTi and he was really excited. We had a long chat and because I knew that he was a humble man, not a dickhead or braggard, we could talk about our respective toys without metaphorically getting our cocks out. The top speed of the TT was a tad higher, and he said he nearly crapped himself when he did it on the Autobahn.

This who is the best, who has the highest ratings is part of higher education assessment and just like top trumps a university can spin itself. We have the highest research assessment exercise rating, our students have the highest satisfaction levels with teaching, ours students achieve the highest median incomes etc.. A real-world version of top trumps is used to market.

People play top trumps about a whole host of things:

****

Well junior got two As and a B…

That is nothing Jane got two As and an A*

****

Henry is going to UCL

Jack is going to Imperial

****

My dad is an Astronaut

My dad is a Buddhist monk

****

My dad won the Nobel Prize

My dad can drink a pint of lager in under four seconds!!

****

Do you get my drift??

As a little exercise / experiment over the next week or so see how often you play top trumps and see how often people try to play top trumps with you.

Then if you are bold, the next time someone tries to play top trumps simply do not engage.

What do you think will happen?

Genetic Discrimination – A Possibility?

I have been speculating a little on the future. The future as dramatized in Logan’s Run {see a couple of posts back} seems quite contrary to what is happening in the west. We might call this the Grey Crisis and no I am not talking about aliens a.k.a. the grays. The population is ageing and as a consequence the medical bills are rising, soaring even. We can say that our generation not only foxtrotted up the planet but now we want the “youth” still in work to pay for our health and social care too! To my eyes they have every right to be pissed off with us.

We could have a schism along the lines of age.

We, the ageing, still have some power and the dystopian imagination could have some kind of old fart vampirism where we, the old farts, are plugged and plumbed into a “youth” to keep us alive in some bizarre form of pseudo-symbiosis.

This afternoon we were up at the hospital for the wife to get an X-ray. For once it was my turn to wait outside in a covid secure way. I got to watch the comings and goings. There were a lot of greys {vide infra}. We were still close to the bottom of the age range of the clientele. And when we metaphorically said au revoir, I knew we would be back there and with an increasing frequency.

If you think about it genetic discrimination is already here, it is called racism and/or anti-ginger sentiments.

That kind of discrimination does not need a PCR test. Never before in human history has humanity taken so many PCR tests. We have become quite accustomed to them. I had one. People also do DNA testing for tracking down ancestry. The child support agency in the UK does paternity testing as a matter of routine before chasing either the actual or supposed fathers for maintenance payments. Genetic medicine is here. Any close blood relative of mine has an enhanced risk of colon cancer. People with certain genes have a higher chance of breast cancer and some choose prophylactic mastectomy. Your genome contains many pointers at your putative futures.

If you are, for example, a competitive and ambitious person and you believed that your genetic make-up might offer you an advantage in a job interview then it is not beyond the bounds of belief that you might submit to the collection of your DNA. There could be a “black market” in pre-interview DNA testing. Recruitment consultants or head-hunters might scan DNA databases to find the ideal candidate. If you were appointing say a proto professor to bring in a large and continuous amount of research income, you would not want one who would croak it late forties, before her most revenue generating years.

If you were offered a, let’s say £250k job, and as a part of the recruitment process you had to submit to DNA profiling, would you go for it?

Science fiction can point at future realities…

Never before in human history has humanity taken a so many PCR tests…they could become even more common in years to come.

A conspiracy theorist might say covid was a pretext for mass DNA testing and profiling…I very much doubt this is the case.

We already have biometric passports and now vaccination passports…

What a brave new world we live in…

Heartache and Cancer

From time to time I read headlines along the lines of “Devastating Cancer Diagnosis”, “Heartache of Cancer Diagnosis”, “Devastated by the Loss of X to Cancer”, “Fighting a Brave Battle Against Cancer” and “Y Finally Loses the Battle to Cancer and Dies at a Heartachingly Young Age of 57”.

I wonder to myself if I am from another planet. None of this resonates in anyway with my own experience. I know they are headlines.

I wasn’t devastated by my cancer diagnosis; I had symptoms and knew there was a likelihood. When I saw my tumour, I did not freak. Not once did I imagine myself engaged in a “battle” with cancer. OK I did not get chemotherapy.

How can people be “devastated” by somebody else dying of cancer? If they have cancer, there is a good chance that they will die from it, so why the devastation?

I am aware that I will die, and I am not afraid of this. I am more afraid of having a stoma bag than death itself…

Do you see what I mean about being from another planet, maybe the planetary scheme around Sirius, if there is one.

I don’t get it…

In the year 2274…

In the year 2274, the remnants of human civilization live in a sealed city contained beneath a cluster of geodesic domes, a utopia run by a computer that takes care of all aspects of life, including reproduction. The citizens live a hedonistic lifestyle but, to prevent overpopulation, everyone must undergo the rite of “Carrousel” when they reach the age of 30. There, they are killed under the guise of being “renewed”.

To track this, each person is implanted at birth with a “life-clock” crystal in the palm of the left hand that changes color as they get older and begins blinking as they approach their “Last Day.” Most residents accept this chance for rebirth, but those who do not and attempt to flee the city are known as “Runners”. An elite team of policemen known as “Sandmen”, outfitted in predominantly black uniforms, are assigned to pursue and terminate Runners as they try to escape.

Logan 5 and Francis 7 are both Sandmen. After terminating a Runner, to whose presence they were alerted during a Carrousel rite, Logan finds an ankh among his possessions. Later that evening, he meets Jessica 6, a young woman also wearing an ankh pendant. Logan takes the ankh to the computer, which tells him that it is a symbol for a secret group whose members help the Runners find “Sanctuary”, a mythic place where they will be safe to live out the rest of their lives.

Logan learns that the Sandmen have lost 1,056 Runners this way. The computer instructs Logan to find Sanctuary and destroy it, a mission which it code names “Procedure 033-03”, which he must keep secret from the other Sandmen. Then, the computer changes the color of his life clock to flashing red, suddenly making him four years closer to Carrousel. Scared, he asks if the four years will be restored to him when his mission is completed but receives no response. In order to escape this, Logan is now forced to become a Runner. Logan meets Jessica and explains his intention to run. They meet with the underground group that leads them to the periphery of the city.

Logan learns that the ankh symbol is actually a key that unlocks an exit from the city. They come out into a frozen cave, with Francis following closely behind. In the cave, they meet Box, a robot designed to capture food for the city from the outside. Logan discovers, to his horror, that Box also captures escaped Runners and freezes them for food. Before Box can freeze Logan and Jessica, they escape, causing the cave to collapse on the robot.

Once outside, Logan and Jessica notice that their life clocks are no longer operational. They see the Sun for the first time and discover that the remains of human civilization have become a wilderness. They explore an old, seemingly abandoned city which was once Washington, D.C. In the ruins of the United States Senate chamber, they discover an elderly man living with many cats. His appearance is a shock to them, since neither has ever seen anyone over the age of thirty. The old man recounts what he remembers about what happened to humanity outside the city, and Logan realizes that Sanctuary has always been a myth.

However, Francis has followed them and he and Logan fight. Logan fatally wounds Francis; as he dies, Francis sees that Logan’s life clock is now clear and assumes Logan has renewed. Logan and Jessica persuade the old man to return to the city with them as proof that life exists outside the domed city. Leaving the man outside, the two enter and try to convince everyone that Carrousel is a lie and unnecessary. The two are captured by other Sandmen and taken to the computer, which interrogates Logan about Procedure 033-03 and asks if he completed his mission.

Logan insists, “There is no Sanctuary”. What he had found was “old ruins, exposed”, “an old man”, and that the missing Runners were “all frozen”. These answers are not accepted by the computer, even after scanning Logan’s mind, and the computer overloads, causing the city’s systems to fail violently and release the exterior seals. Logan, Jessica, and the other citizens flee the ruined city. Once outside, the citizens see the old man, the first human they have met who is older than thirty, proving that they can, indeed, live their lives much longer.