Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Missing the Point

This morning's news mentioned a problem of terrapins living wild in Britain.

They are not a native species, and are here because people who bought them as pets got tired of them and turned them loose. They are considered a problem because it is feared they may eat too much. As more and more of the creatures are rounded up, people are struggling to find caring homes for them.

No one sugested the obvious solution - turtle soup!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Check the Time Zone for your Wireless Router

When I set up a new wireless router, it wouldn't allow connection to the Internet.

The radio signal was loud and clear. When I conected the boudband modem directly to a computer, Megaherz of conectivity came gushing through, but through the router there was only a local connection.

Eventually a sharp eyed friend looking through the settings, spotted something I'd missed. The router, which was made in China, had its clock set by default to Hong Kong time.

Once he changed it to British time, all was well.

Monday, 28 December 2009

I didn't bother to listen to the Queen's Christmas message

Until my grandfather's death in 1965 my parents and I always ate Christmas dinner at his house, with various aunts, uncles, and cousins. We always had to stand for the National anthem that preceded the royal message, and were then expected to listen to the message in reverent silence.

Standing for the National Anthem ended with grandfather's death, but I've usually listened to most of  one or another of the repetitions of the message, but no longer. It is usually a collection of plattitudes, so even when I saw a link to a recording, I didn't bother.

Has she said anything perceptive or unexpected the fact would have been widely and loudly reported, and I came across no such report.

I feel no ill will towards the queen, but I've lost interest in her pronouncements.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Vinegary Mincemeat

Beware, the mincemeat sold in shops usually contains vinegar.

The table of contents rarely says so in as many words. The label writers usually try to confuse the naive by calling it 'acetic acid', but vinegar it is.  The stuff reeks of that pungent anti-condiment.

This year I made my own mincemeat, with orange juice and lemon juice as acidifiers.

Friday, 18 December 2009

An Unusual Memorial to a Great Scientist.

Last month, while visiting Grantham for the first time for more than forty years, I noticed it now has an Isaac Newton Shopping Centre.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Divine Responsibility

There’s one aspect of the priestly child abuse scandal that, to my knowledge, has never been discussed.

To what extent is God responsible?

I ought to rephrase that. I, and most of my friends, think there is no God, so what I really mean is:

If there were a God, how far would he be responsible?

Theologians say that evil is the fault of sinful humans, acting in spite of God, and anyway he’s so powerful that if he intervened to prevent evil it would reduce us all to the status of robots so we shouldn’t have the opportunity for character building by using our free will to resist temptation.

That may have a little superficial plausibility (but see the discussion in chapter 7 of my Philosophy notes) However at best the first argument only precludes our blaming God for everything on the grounds that he supposedly created the world; the second argument excuses him only from intervening ostentatiously at maximum power, denouncing sin in a voice of thunder and turning the unrighteous into pillars of salt. He could still have anonymously emailed a few incriminating digital photographs to police or journalists without drawing attention to his omnipotence.

The abusive priests got away with it for so long because they were perceived to be God’s agents. A Human employer aware that employees were using their jobs as a cloak for criminality would be expected to intervene. Why should God try to wriggle out of his responsibilities by hiding behind a metaphysical quibble?

Of course, if there were a God he wouldn’t, so there isn’t.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

My Virtual Christmas Card

I decided to make my own Christmas card this year. I then decided to go one step further and get people to read it on my website, with the option of printing a copy if they wish.

Follow the links on my website.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

'Last Best Chance'

I recently heard that phrase in a broadcast comment by the Leader of the Opposition.

I don't remember what he was talking about; my horror at his choice of words distracted me from his subject matter.

Did he mean 'this is the best chance, and it's also the last' or 'this is the best of the remaining chances'. I suspect he didn't mean anything so definite, but felt rather than thought that two superlatives were better than one.

I fear that others will now adopt the phrase - verbal ineptitude tends to be catching.

Alistair Cook once attributed the word 'normalcy' to President Harding's ignorance of the word 'normality', and we still hear that word from time to time.