Stephen Hawking 1942 – 2018

March 14, 2018

It was Fred Hoyle who first used the term “Big Bang” but it is difficult not to associate Stephen Hawking with the Big Bang Theory.

But for me Stephen Hawking will forever be my inspiration for considering the ultimate question — What is time?

The magical speed of an inconstant time



Gendered aspects of the universe

March 12, 2018

The Canadian Environment Minister (how stupid can you get?) recently expressed concern for the “gendered aspects of climate change”.

I am no doubt incorrigibly sexist but I thought I would try and look at the gendered aspects of the Universe.

Mother Earth must be female and Father Sun must be male. Hydrogen must be male so that makes oxygen female in a polygamous relationship. I put Fire and Air as male which leaves Earth and Water to be female. Summer is male and so is Winter. Spring and Autumn are obviously female. Trees are male and grass is female. Weeds are male and Flowers are female. Beef, potatoes, asparagus and onions are male while chicken, cheese, tomatoes and cauliflower are female. Mushrooms are transgender.

Of the planets it is apparent that Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn are male. Which leaves Venus, the Earth and Uranus (sort of) as female. Pluto has been neutered. Comets are male but galaxies are female. Double stars are gay. H, Li, Na, K, Rb, Ca and Fr are obviously male. It follows that He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe and Rn are all female. The rest of the periodic table falls in line. (Elements with odd atomic numbers are male and those with even atomic numbers are female).

If Physics is male then Chemistry is female. Metallurgy is male and Biology is female. Mathematics must be transgender. Sociology must be deviant.


More mothers than fathers in the world

March 12, 2018

Just playing with the numbers.

Population trivia.

A very crude estimate suggests that about 1,000 million of the world’s 7,500 million are “only” children and have no siblings.


The New Eugenics

March 11, 2018

Eugenics, because of the way it was practised by the Nazis, has become a bit of a taboo word. But it has been practised in silence and by default for some time now.

ktwop (2013):

The trends I think are fairly clear. The proportion of “artificial births” is increasing and the element of genetic selection by screening for desired charateristics in such cases is on the increase. The number of abortions after conception would seem to be on its way to some “stable” level of perhaps 25% of all conceptions. The genetic content of the decision to abort however is also increasing and it is likely that the frequency of births where genetic disorders exist or where the propensity for debilitating disease is high will decrease sharply as genetic screening techniques develop further.

It is still a long way off to humans breeding for specific charateristics but even what is being practised now is the start of eugenics in all but name. And it is not difficult to imagine that eugenics – without any hint of coercion – but where parents or the mothers-to-be select for certain characteristics or deselect (by abortion) to avoid others in their children-to-be will be de rigueur.

As neonatal screening techniques improve, eugenics is no longer just by default but is increasingly due to an active choice being made. Down syndrome is already well on the way to being eradicated.


Human rights are not universal and they are not free: The fatal flaw in the UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (part 3)

March 10, 2018

In part 1  I proposed as a definition:

A right is entirely a social construct. .. I take a right to be an entitlement. It is a possession of status within some specified human society which gives its owner a privilege to act or not act in some specific manner, and/or a claim on other entities within the relevant society to act or not act in some specified manner. …… Rights can not – and do not – exist except when vested by a competent grant-giver in a qualified recipient.

A unilateral proclamation or declaration does not create a right. A human right can therefore only be created between two human parties, where the parties are identified and competent to fulfill their obligations (see part 2). For a right to truly exist, the behaviour of both parties in fulfilling the social contract is crucial. Any right which is an entitlement of one party is utterly dependant upon the behaviour of other involved parties. Without an acknowledged and accepted obligation of the other parties, no right exists. It is meaningless – and entirely insufficient – for third parties to declare that relevant other parties should or ought to have such obligations. A fundamental tenet of all valid contracts is that the parties involved commit to their obligations. It is not valid or acceptable for any party to create commitments for other parties. A contract can only be valid if the relevant parties freely enter into and commit to their own obligations.

Purported rights do not create or overcome behaviour. Actual behaviour creates real rights.

A true right can only exist if a valid social contract between a qualified party on the one hand and a competent party on the other, is in force.

The UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) was a knee-jerk reaction to the horrors of the Second World War and the state of the world immediately afterwards. Certainly intentions were good. But it was more a listing of pious hopes than any kind of a contract which could be a tool to change human behaviour. The UDHR was a document born of the Holocaust and a desire that such grotesque repression would never happen again. It was intended to be a compass for human behaviour. It has been the wrong tool at the wrong time.

It is my contention that the UDHR has not only failed to be an instrument for “improving” human behaviour, it has also legitimised the idea that purported rights are “free” and not linked to any qualifications or duties or standards of behaviour.

In the 70 years since it was formulated, the UDHR has been used as the “bible” for human rights legislation. But the state of humankind today in respect of the real rights accorded to an individual by surrounding society is in most cases no better than in 1948. In many instances it is very much worse. Human behaviour is not any better now, than it was then.   It is my contention that the UDHR has done more harm than good. It frees one party (“everyone”) from any obligations or duties or qualifications in the ownership of an entitlement. The other party which must grant and guarantee the right is never defined. As a “contract document” it is not fit for purpose. It has been counterproductive to its own goals because its very lack of rigour has given mere wishes and desires the false status of rights. This in turn has led to the dilution of the necessary requirements for real rights to exist. It has led us down the wrong path. It has provided a very shaky foundation for the legislation that follows which – not surprisingly – is then poor legislation.

Since it was formulated in 1948 and ratified in 1951, there have been more deaths due to recognised “genocides” than during the Holocaust. Religious fanaticism has increased. Freedom of belief has become the freedom to indoctrinate. Barbarism and terror is the new normal for an extremist. The nuclear family has been stripped of its dignity in many parts of the world. To not offend carries more weight than the voicing of true opinion. Mere accusations (especially on social media) now contain a presumption of guilt. Depravity is glorified in the name of “human rights”. Anti-social behaviour is “protected” by purported rights. Having signed up to the UDHR does not stop nations from cruel and unusual treatment of political opponents. States confiscate more of their citizens’ property than ever before under the guise of taxation. The depths to which human behaviour sinks (whether by Mexican drug cartels or by ISIS) has not changed since the Nazi atrocities.

The UDHR fails as a contract document because

  1. it does not address what constitutes a right, and
  2. it does not define the parties to the contract, and
  3. it does not define the obligations and liabilities of the parties, and
  4. it states that the subject of the contract (human rights) are universal, and therefore
  5. contains no commitment from the involved parties

The UDHR ends up being a good-intentioned but banal collection of maudlin platitudes. The entire content can just as well be summarised as Jack Nicholson’s character puts it in Mars Attacks, “Why can’t we all just get along?”. The UDHR was a document of its time. It had the best of intentions but it does not stand the test of time. If the goal was to improve human behaviour, it has led the world down the wrong path.

There is one fundamental, insidious, and corrosive flaw in the UDHR. It is a fatal flaw. This is the legitimising of the view that human rights are “free” and universal and unconnected to duties and obligations and standards of behaviour. It is this claim, that every individual, regardless of qualifications or duties, has entitlements which must be honoured by the rest of humanity without any obligations in return, which is the fatal flaw. Universality requires that the purported rights be “free” and that is why – as declared – they have no value in the real world. The perceived and the true value of any right depends upon the parties involved. Different rights have different values not only to the right-holder but also to the party granting and guaranteeing a right. Rights have a value for the right-holder and rights have costs for the guarantor. These values and costs are profoundly impacted by human behaviour.

There is also a philosophic failure in the UDHR. This is the adoption of the fantasy that human behaviour can be changed by proclamation and declarations in a top-down approach. There is an arrogance – albeit good-intentioned – in a text written by an elite purporting to represent all of mankind. Declaration of purported rights do not create behaviour. It is behaviour which creates and allows the manifestation of real rights. Human behaviour must of necessity begin with the individual, evolve locally and nationally and build up to the international. A top-down approach as in the UDHR is conceptually and fundamentally in error. If human rights are to be real they must first be created and ensured and exercised locally. They must first be rights which are clearly defined (not amorphous as in the UDHR) and specific (not universal and valueless) such that their ownership is clear and their exercise can, in fact, be guaranteed. Implementation at the local level can then be allowed and encouraged to grow to become global to the extent that shared values produce similar behaviour. Universal, amorphous rights as envisaged in the UDHR are necessarily non-existent and unenforceable. If human rights exist at all they start with my behaviour and yours, not with a sanctimonious declaration from the UN. Freedom of speech starts with what I am willing to allow my neighbour to say without triggering any opposing behaviour. If he slanders me then I find the cost of guaranteeing his free speech too much to bear and do what I can to silence him. Every right has a value and a cost. Behaviour creates the rights that are exercised. The rule of law has a part to play – but no system of law can guarantee compliance. In any event it can only begin with laws created at the local or national level to suit local or national rights which themselves have to be created and guaranteed. Global laws imposed on local societies is the cart before the horse.

Human rights are not “free”. They have value to the right-holder and a cost for the guarantor. And if they were “free” – as universality implies – then they have no value. It is by insisting on universality that the connection between rights and behaviour is lost. I suppose it really boils down to whether it is more important to make sanctimonious proclamations about what “human rights” ought to be, or whether it is more important to change human behaviour so that “human rights” are exercised and actually delivered.

The UDHR is written in the form of a contract with seven “whereas” clauses in the preamble, a proclamation clause and thirty Articles. But it is no treaty and no contract. It is just a declaration. As a contract document it is not fit for purpose since the parties to the contract, their obligations and liabilities are all undefined. Even the subject of the declaration – “human rights” are undefined. To its credit it has served as the basis of much legislation. But it has failed in its purpose of improving human behaviour – if that in fact was its purpose. It undermines itself by declaring human rights to be free and universal (and therefore of no real value).

As the UDHR is written even a divine power, if one existed, could not guarantee the purported rights

This is a commentary on why I find the UDHR not fit for purpose as a contract document.

UDHR commentary

The UDHR is not fit for purpose as a contract document because 

  1. The parties to the contract are undefined.
  2. Neither are the concepts of “rights” and “dignity”.
  3. In a contract document the whereas clauses in the preamble are introductory statements of fact that mean “that being the case.” In the UDHR the preamble and its whereas clauses are, at best, ungrounded statements, and at worst, statements of religious belief.


Four years since MH370 vanished

March 8, 2018

It is almost inconceivable that a commercial airliner with 239 passengers and crew just vanished off the face of the earth. But that is what happened 4 years ago today.

Somebody knows what happened.

Nothing much more is known since one year after the most perplexing incident of modern aviation.

MH370: One year on and those who know still aren’t telling

Some few do know what happened to MH370 a year ago.

My post from April 13th last year speculating that this was a state sponsored and highly successful hijacking, is just as valid or invalid as it was then. There has been much speculation since but no new, certain, evidence has appeared. In fact even the “handshake” tracking which places the plane in the Southern Indian Ocean turns out to be fairly speculative in itself.

Whatever happened to MH370 was no accident. In one year there has been no evidence to alter my belief that this was the most successful hijacking and “disappearing” of a commercial airline and its 239 passengers and crew. And the objective – which was clearly achieved – was to prevent some passengers or cargo or both from reaching Beijing.

MH370: Emirates CEO suggests plane’s flight was controlled, October 11, 2014

MH370: Further indications of a deliberate event to prevent technology reaching Beijing, June 22, 2014

MH370: Very short preliminary report issued – could have been “laundered”, May 2, 2014

MH370: The most successful, state-sponsored hijacking ever?, April 13, 2014

MH370: The altitude excursion which could have rendered most unconscious, April 1, 2014

A deliberate excursion?

The calculations leading to the search area are speculative


You can’t claim a “human right” unless you can identify who guarantees it (part 2)

March 4, 2018

Human rights do not occur naturally. They must be created and they must be bestowed. They cannot be self-bestowed. Once bestowed, if their exercise is thwarted they cease to be rights. Human rights can only be created as a social contract where the parties to the contract are able to, and do, fulfill their obligations.

In part 1 I described the concept of a right taken as an entitlement.

right is entirely a social construct. When encompassed within a legal, moral or ethical system, it could be taken as a social contract. As a contract it requires to be between two parties; the grant-giver and a recipient. ….. I  take a right to be an entitlement. It is a possession of status within some specified human society which gives its owner a privilege to act or not act in some specific manner, and/or a claim on other entities within the relevant society to act or not act in some specified manner. ….  Rights can not – and do not – exist except when vested by a competent grant-giver in a qualified recipient.

Two parties are necessary for a right to be created. The granter must be competent to grant and to ensure the exercise of the right and the recipient must be qualified and “free” to exercise the right. If a right is claimed but it is not clear as to who grants it and who guarantees it, then it is not a right. It may still be a wish or a hope or a desired standard of behaviour, but it manifestly is not a right. The granting party needs, not only to be identified, but also to be competent to grant and guarantee the entitlement. A party – such as a government – may go some way towards the grant of an entitlement by enshrining it in law, but no law (except the laws of nature) can inherently guarantee compliance. Moreover, even the grant of the entitlement is restricted by the jurisdiction within which the granting party holds sway. The party owning a right needs to be a qualified party who has been explicitly vested with the right by a competent party. The very concept of “human rights” is constrained to be applicable only to humans. It is necessary requirement for any right that the grant giver identifies which humans are to be vested with the right. “Everybody” is not a proper definition of a right-holder since there is no grant-giver capable of granting any kind of a right to “everybody”. Any claim of a right being universal and applicable to “all human beings” always fails because

  1. there is no competent agency – human or divine – which is able to grant and guarantee such “universal” rights to all humans, and
  2.  every real claim of a “universal” right is constrained to not be available to some humans.

Most claims of “human rights” fail the test of being rights and are merely wishes. Even where a government can be identified as the party granting and purporting to guarantee the right, the reality is that the right is not guaranteed.

The UN “Universal declaration of human rights” proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 is unsatisfactory at very many levels. As a wish-list I have no great objection to it. As a list of standards to be achieved it has many admirable goals. But it is mainly a collection of platitudes – many undefined and many meaningless. It builds on questionable assumptions and a somewhat suspect philosophy. The title itself is ambiguous. Is the declaration universal or is it proclaimed that the desired rights are universal?

But the primary flaws with the UN document are that

  1. it refers to rights without considering what is necessary to constitute a right, and
  2. it ignores the qualifications necessary to own a “right” by claiming that rights should be universal

It starts by “recognising” the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” with no reference to any party which might be able to grant and guarantee the claimed rights. By claiming that such rights be available universally, it immediately undermines its own intent since there is no human agency capable of granting any right universally. The document contains 30 Articles, and every single Article fails the test of defining, or even trying to define, who grants and who guarantees the proclaimed “right” and to whom.

As a document laying out a social contract it is not fit for purpose.

But more of that in part 3.


Declaring a “human right” does not make it one (part 1)

February 27, 2018

There are no human rights which follow as an inevitable consequence of the natural laws of the universe.

Consider what is needed to create a right. Mere declaration does not suffice. A right is entirely a social construct. When encompassed within a legal, moral or ethical system, it could be taken as a social contract. As a contract it requires to be between two parties; the grant-giver and a recipient. In fact, our entire conception of rights has meaning only when applied to the social interaction between humans.  All rights are about the behaviour of humans.

I take a right to be an entitlement. It is a possession of status within some specified human society which gives its owner a privilege to act or not act in some specific manner, and/or a claim on other entities within the relevant society to act or not act in some specified manner

The granting of a right is a necessary condition but it is not sufficient for a right to exist. It must be granted by a party such that

  • ownership of the right is vested in the receiver, and
  • exercise of the right by the recipient is guaranteed by the grant-giver

Rights can not – and do not – exist except when vested by a competent grant-giver in a qualified recipient. The grant-giver must have the power to grant. The competence of the grant-giver is fundamentally necessary (but also not sufficient) to the creation of a “right”. An individual can grant a right to another individual only if it is within his power to do so. A grant which is outside the competence of the grant-giver to give creates no right for the receiver.

It is also a necessary condition – though not sufficient – for the recipient to be qualified to possess and exercise the granted right. No rights can exist if the grant-giver does not have the wherewithal to vest ownership of those “rights” in the recipient.  Nor can they exist if the recipient is not capable of exercising such vested rights or if such exercise is not ensured. Declaration of so-called animal rights does not create any animal recipient qualified to possess or exercise that right. Such declarations do not vest privileges or claims in any animal and are actually about human behaviour.

Anybody can declare a right but for any grant to be meaningful, the granting party must be able to guarantee and ensure the exercise of that right by the right-holder. A right which cannot be exercised is vitiated and empty. It fails, in fact, to be a right, whether of claim or of privilege. The grant of such empty rights then becomes merely a statement of wishes. A party which can only grant empty rights, where the exercise of such “rights” is not guaranteed, is a party not sufficiently competent to grant rights.

Human rights are neither universal nor absolute. They are not written into the laws of the universe. They are an expression of desires and wishes and hopes about standards of human behaviour. In reality there are no human, or even divine, agencies which have a competence sufficient to grant so-called human rights. They are declared – always – by bodies or entities which lack the full competence first, to vest ownership of the rights in the recipients and second, to guarantee and ensure their exercise.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights (UN DHR) is just that – a declaration.  What it describes are not rights. The UN can neither guarantee nor ensure the ownership or the exercise of those  declared rights or of the implied duties. Neither can the governments of the UN’s member countries guarantee the exercise of the rights declared. Without the ability to guarantee the exercise, the rights declared are not, in fact, rights at all but are merely pious hopes.

UN Declaration Human Rights

The UN Declaration of hopes and wishes is only as good as it is allowed to be, by the assumptions it starts with. The assumptions are not sound. It is a declaration of desirable standards of human behaviour. Unfortunately it ignores the basic requirements for any rights to exist. It does not specify the parties involved. It ignores the competence required of the party granting the rights and ignores the qualifications of the receiver of the rights. The fundamental claim in the UN DHR that “all humans”, independent of their behaviour, should possess these “rights” is untenable. How? Who is competent to grant such ownership? To whom? And who guarantees the exercise of these “rights”.

Whatever the UN Declaration of Human Rights may be, it is not about rights at all.



Never mind the quality

February 22, 2018

I am old enough now to be allowed to be cynical:


Being 70

February 19, 2018

So, I turned threescore and ten last week.

The Bible (Psalms 90)

The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Shakespeare (Macbeth, II, 4)

Old man: Threescore and ten I can remember well: 
Within the volume of which time I have seen 
Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night 
Hath trifled former knowings.

The angels were not visible but there was celestial music all day. Everything I ate tasted like an ambrosia gel and everything I drank was like a single-malt, 18 year old nectar. My understandings of all things philosophical turned profound. The mysteries of life, the universe and everything were revealed. It is not just coincidence that 42 plus the singularity is a prime and exactly half of 86. Ytterbium (Yb) has atomic number 70 and is a lanthanide. There have to be 52 cards in a pack because there are 52 weeks in a year. There must be 13 cards in a suit to account for the missing 13th month. I finally understood why there are 7 days in a week and humans have five digits on each limb. I solved the last missing theorem. A teenager’s speech was almost intelligible and didn’t turn me off. A car stopped in heavy traffic and allowed me to merge into the queue. And it snowed all day.

At 70, the answer to life, the universe and everything on any limb and on any day of the week becomes obvious.

Apart from that it was just another day.

In Sweden, to be 70 is no big deal. Around 16% of the population is 70 or over. In Japan 20% of the population is 70 and over. But in India and China only about 6% are over 70. Globally, the over-70s are just under 6% of the population.


%d bloggers like this: