Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Cooling Down

Feeling uncomfortably hot I called on the latent heat of evaporation of water. I took off my shirt and wet my skin with a flannel soaked in cold water. I did not dry myself and did not replace my shirt, just letting the water evaporate. I cooled down in a few seconds. Once body heat had dried me, I applied the flannel again.

Why didn't the media recommend this simple treatment?

Saturday, 16 July 2022

The Incautious Multitude

I still wear a face mask when shopping but on recent shopping expeditions I noticed that very few others have worn them. During the lockdown I never had a cold and realised that promiscuous gregariousness spreads many other diseases as well as covid19. A permanent lockdown would be impractical but wearing a face mask in crowded places is no burden. Do some people want to spread infection?

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Welcome Clouds

In my childhood the occasional very hot day was welcomed with joy - at least joy on the part of my parents; I had some revervations. The parents revelled in the large numbers hot weather scored on the Fahrenheit scale and welcomed the opportunity to acquire sunburn - in those days considered a badge of honour proving that one had survived a challenging encounter with the elements. With no refrigerator milk went sour and butter melted, but we bore those afflictions with fortitude. Father converted the sour milk into cheese by straining it through one of his socks which he suspended from the tap over the kitchen sink.

Today I was very pleased that the day started cloudy, and went shopping earlier than usual to avoid the heat. The television shows maps coloured according to the expected levels of high temperatures, ranging from the merely worrying to a possible emergency. We no longer boast about sunburn!

Monday, 27 June 2022

Slowing Down

When I started to backup files on my primary PC I noticed that this was my first backup since January. I'm becoming very slack; yet another sign of my antiquitiy!

Monday, 20 June 2022

Wittgenstein's Tractatus

I bought a copy of Wittgemnstein's Tractatus Logico Philosophicus more than 60 years ago. From time to time I have dipped into it, puzzling over a few remarks here and there, but I'd never read the complete work until now. A few days ago I started from the beginning and, reading a few pages each day, I finished yesterday.

As the title suggests the Tractatus is primarily concerned with philosophical logic. In it Wittgenstein affirms that all logical truths are truth functional tautologies, so no apparatus of proof is necessary, since the truth of a tautology is in all cases obvious. That thesis is false as are a number of Wittgenstein's remarks about Mathematics.

Among philosophical works the Tractatus is unusual in containing so many statements which are clearly false.

My edition has the German original and an English translation on opposite pages, and would be useful to an English speaker wishing to learn the vocabulary to discuss philosophical logic in German, or to a German speaker wishing to discuss such matters in English. Someone looking for an introduction to the subject matter would be wise to look elsewhere.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Imperial Measure.

Noticing suggestions that we should in some way rehabilitate Imperial Measure, I tried to see how much I could recall about it. After writing this I shall check, but first I want to see what I can remember.

I remember spending a lot of time at the primary school performing complicated calculations with imperial measures. There were definitely sixteen ounces in a pound, 112 pounds in a hundred weight and 20 hundredweights in a ton. There were also stones and quarters. A stone were a multiple of 7 pounds - I'm strongly inclined to think there were 14 pounds in a stone, but am not quite sure. My memory of the quarter is much vaguer. If it was a quarter of a hundredweight it might have been two stones.

There was also the bushel, but that may have been a measure of volume. There was also more than one ounce I think there were Troy ounces and Avoirdupois ounces - I have an idea that gold may have been weighed in smaller ounces than boiled sweets.

Ounces too were subdivided; there were drams, which may or may not have been the same as drachms, and there were also grains. I think that one of the ounces may have been divided into 480 grains. While I was preparing this reminiscence a comment in an Internet forum reminded me of the scruple, which I believe was intermediate beteen a dram and an ounce. Perhaps a quarter of an ounce, perhaps an eighth.

When I was 10 years old, in my last year at the primary school, we were given horrid calculations on the lines of:

"Multiply 7 hundredweight five stones eleven pounds thirteen ounces by 37". We had no calculators in those days. I doubt if any of us ever had to perform such an absurd calculation later in our lives

Lengths had 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, 22 yards in a chain, 10 chains in a furlong and 8 furlongs in a mile. Areas were usualy square inches. feet or miles. I don't recall encountering square chains or square furlings, but an acre, 4840 square yards = 10 square chains = one tenth of a square furlong = 1/640 of a square mile

Then there were volumes. The obvious measure of volume is the cube of the unit of length. Although cubic feet were used from time to time, the common measures of volume were pints and gallons.

Few, if any, enthusiasts for the Imperial system could convert gallons into cubic inches. The most knowledgable could do not better than stall by asking which of the three gallons one had in mind, replacing one question they couldn't answer by three, all of which still baffled them.

A pint was 20 fluid ounces, and the fluid ounce was the volume of an ounce of pure water, at some temperature and pressure that I never heard specified. Hence:

"A pint of clear water weighs a pound and a quarter"

Five fluid ounces also had a special name which I can't recall, though there was something called a gill. Eight pints made a gallon. We weren't taught any other imperial measures of volume, though I think bushels were rather larger than gallons, and minims rather smaller than fluid ounces.

Finally I recall mention of rod, pole and perch. I have an idea they might all be the same and be units of area, but we weren't taught about them at school, so I shan't be sure until I do my check.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Slowing Down

Yesterday I timed myself walking to the shops. It took me just over 19 minutes to walk from my house to the Market Hall, and I'd have struggled to do it at all had I not had my shopping trolley to lean on. When I was househunting in 2014 I could manage a sligtly longer walk in 9 minutes. Visitors should not expect me to provide a conducted tour of the town!

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Quadruply Jabbed

Last Friday I joined the ranks of those who have been innoculated against covid-19 four times.

I'm not sure why anyone should be interested to learn that, but it is a snippett of news I can post here, thus reassuring anyone doubting my continued existence that I am still alive and moderately alert.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Solving the Irish Problem

When I first heard of the proposal to create a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain it struck me as too ridiculus to contemplate. At that stage the Irish problem could have been dealt with very easily. Tbe British Government could have said that negotiating terms for Britain's departure from the EU was proving unexpectedly difficult, and as the referendum was only advisory so that its recommendations were not binding, the Government had changed its mind and Britain would stay in the EU after all.

However it is now too late for that. The government has agreed to accept the so called 'Protocol'. In a recent election in Northern Ireland, a majority of those elected are prepared to accept the Protocal, so we should all just wince and accept it too.

The remaining problem is the government of Northern Ireland. The province needs a new constitution in which it is not possible for a minority to immobilise the Assembly. I suggest that the speaker be elected by a simple majority of assembly members. The first and second ministers should be elected by assembly members using the single transferable vote. The person first elected would be first minister, and whoever was elected second would be second minister. The first and second ministers would then take it in turns to nominate other ministers. A party boycotting the election would simply not be represented in the Government

Friday, 6 May 2022

Old Favourites

As a child three gastronimic treats I specially enjoyed were fish and chips from the fish and chip shop - the only take away food available in the early to mid 1940s, Heinz baked beans, and Heinz tomato Soup. I still enjoy baked beans on toast occasionally, usually for breakfast these days, but a recent sample of fish and chips was very disappointing. The fish was edible but the chips were soggy and greasy. As I usually avoid fried food it was my first fish and chip meal for about a decade, and it may be my last. A few days ago I tried tomato soup, for the first time for at least 30 years. I found it edible, but not at all exciting. So old favourites now score about 1.5/3

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Misconduct in the Mother of Parliaments

A member of Parliament has applied for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds after admitting to using his mobile phone to view what shocked colleagues have called 'pornography'.

At first I thought he should have been paying attention to the wise words spoken by his fellow members and should not have been viewing anything on his mobile phone, but I now learn that he was whiling away time while waiting to vote in a division. The supposed offence is therefore not failing to attend to parliamentary duties, but viewing material that some fellow MPs find disagreeable. I see no reason to object to his choice of distraction and so no reason for him to leave the Commons.

Those who complained were all women. Were they annoyed that he chose to look at pictures of other women instead of looking at them?

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Early Blossom

Blossom on the pear tree was over last week and that on the apple tree has nearly all fallen now. Things were much the same last year, but a decade or so ago the apple blossom would have still been in bud at this time of year. I leave my readers to draw their own conlusions.