Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

Decadent or depraved

December 11, 2017

So are we decadent or are we depraved?

Decadence

dissipation, dissoluteness, degeneracy, debauchery, corruption, depravity, vice, sinfulness, perversion, moral decay, immorality, lack of morals, lack of principles, lack of restraint, lack of control, lack of self-control, immoderateness, intemperance, licentiousness, wantonness, self-indulgence, hedonism, epicureanism, voluptuousness

Depravity

corruption, corruptness, vice, perversion, pervertedness, deviance, degeneracy, degradation, immorality, shamelessness, debauchery, dissipation, dissoluteness, turpitude, loucheness, profligacy, licentiousness, lewdness, lasciviousness, salaciousness, lechery, lecherousness, prurience, obscenity, indecency, libertinism, sordidness; wickedness, sinfulness, vileness, baseness, iniquity, nefariousness, criminality, viciousness, brutality, brutishness

I suspect it is decadence.

Bit it is surely one or the other.


 

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Five decades

December 8, 2017

One ages and one gets nostalgic.

The past gets compressed into some kind of a zip-file in my memory and sometimes the file is difficult to open.

But five decades of a working life does not take much space to summarise.


 

Political Dyslexia

November 7, 2017


 

Some marvellous inventions that changed my world (and are now obsolete)

September 3, 2017

Marvellous inventions that changed my world and which are now obsolete. (Dates are when I came across the invention).

  • 1959 – My first fountain pen
  • 1960 – first biro (not quite obsolete yet)
  • 1961 – Kodak box camera
  • 1962 – birthday present of a Sony transistor radio
  • 1963 – My own book of log tables
  • 1964 – a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder (which I could play backwards!)
  • 1966 – a Faber-Castell slide rule
  • 1967 – allowed to use a Curta mechanical rotary calculator
  • 1968 – a Kodak Instamatic
  • 1969 – a casette tape recorder
  •  1972 – a Sinclair pocket calculator
  • 1974 – allowed to share a Hewlett-Packard 9100A desktop
  • 1975 – allowed to use a PDP-11 mini-computer
  • 1976 – using a Telex machine
  • 1977 – a Sony Betamax video player
  • 1978 – a Polaroid camera
  • 1980 – used a facsimile machine (G1)
  • 1983 – first PC (not obsolete yet)
  • 1984 – used a fax machine (G3)
  • 1989 – First Nokia talkphone (model now well obsolete)

image birmingham history

and the rest is still unfolding.


 

Sunday morning blues

August 27, 2017

The world is a round hole and I am square.


 

In the galaxy of my childhood

June 30, 2017

Long away and far ago, in the galaxy of my childhood, in a space-time continuum that has ceased to be:

  • Nothing was impossible,
  • Banks were known to handle cash,
  • customers were always right,
  • shop-keepers thanked you for your custom,
  • restaurants were happy for you to eat and dawdle,
  • the milkman brought the cow around every morning and evening to be milked,
  • coffee beans were roasted and ground every morning for the day’s consumption,
  • if it wasn’t raining it was hot,
  • if it wasn’t snowing it was cold,
  • ice cream and chocolate bars came once a week,
  • cakes were for birthdays,
  • a girl could be a tomboy and remain a girl,
  • scientists were skeptical,
  • the postman was always on time,
  • extreme weather was just extreme weather, 
  • newspapers told the truth, and
  • everything was possible

 

Disillusionment

June 29, 2017

It is one of the worst feelings one can experience. To have reality intrude rudely on illusions one has cherished.

And the worst of the worst is when it is another person who is the disillusionment. When somebody turns out to be not quite what they seem to be.


 

Full emancipation

June 19, 2017

In a certain country, it eventually came to pass, that women gained equal rights to men.

Every man was still allowed up to 4 wives, but now each woman was also allowed up to 4 husbands.

This led to some complex situations arising and a few additional rules had to be introduced.

Marriage was defined as between men and women. Men could not be wives and women were not eligible as husbands. Same-sex relationships were perfectly acceptable but did not constitute a formal marriage.

In each marriage the parties had to be designated in hierarchy (first wife, second husband, third husband, fourth wife and so on). Spousal points were introduced. Being first spouse gave 4 points to the partner, being second spouse loaded the partner with 3 points, being third gave 2 points and being a fourth spouse gave 1 point. No person could have more than 4 spouses and no person could accrue more than 10 spousal points. A person’s spouses took their spousal hierarchies in sequence. (A person could not take a third spouse without first taking spouses one and two). No person could have two partners having the same spousal hierarchy (having two first husbands or two third wives was not permitted). But a man could be first husband to two different women and fourth husband to two others. Similarly, a wife could be first wife to two different men but then could not be greater than a third wife to just one other husband or a fourth wife to two more.  A man could be second husband to three women or, third or fourth husband to four women, if he (and they) so chose.

Monogamous relationships were permitted but considered mildly anti-social. Generally having two spouses or less was considered a sign of eccentricity or social failure.

On the demise of a spouse, changes to the hierarchy of the surviving spouses was permitted – provided there was consent from all affected parties. In practice, such consent was impossible to obtain and hierarchy changes rarely took place. For example, suppose that a first husband to one woman died or was divorced.  In theory she could then elevate her second husband (or fourth, for that matter) to be her new first husband. However, such an elevation could (would), in turn, affect the hierarchy of that husband’s wives and their husbands. Such elevations could lead to the spousal points exceeding ten. Exceeding the 10 spousal-point rule required the shedding (by divorce) of a spouse (also by consent of all affected parties) for compliance. The lowest ranked spouse usually had to be shed first but this was not obligatory. Shedding by murder was not permitted.

Divorce was, of course, permitted as the right of every person on demand and whenever spouse-shedding had to be exercised.

A household was required to be registered to an individual (joint ownership was not permitted). However while every individual could only be responsible for one household, he or she could also belong to a household registered to his or her spouse. Each person’s assets or liabilities devolved first to surviving spouses in proportion to their spousal points (a death then leaving 40% of assets or liabilities to the first spouse, 30% to the second spouse and so on) and to surviving offspring only if no spouses were surviving and in the very rare cases they could be unambiguously identified.

While the mothers of children could generally be identified, determining the father was a little more difficult. All children were therefor made wards of the State and were transferred to State custody at the age of 12 months. Naming of children after their parents or relatives became impossible so the State allocated numbers to all people. This was a simple 16 digit, unique identification number (an 8 digit gene-scan id and 8 digits for the date of birth).

Inherited wealth virtually disappeared.

It soon became established practice for young people to begin married life as the third or fourth spouse of a much older partner and progress, with experience, to be higher ranked spouses of other partners.


 

Number theory was probably more dependent upon live goats than on raindrops

June 14, 2017

It used to be called arithmetic but it sounds so much more modern and scientific when it is called number theory. It is the branch of mathematics which deals with the integers and the relationships between them. Its origins (whether one wants to call it a discovery or an invention) lie with the invention of counting itself. It is from where all the various branches of mathematics derive. The origin of counting can be said to be with the naming of the integers, and is intimately tied to the development of language and of writing and perhaps goes back some 50,000 years (since the oldest known tally sticks date from some 30,000 years ago).

How and why did the naming of the integers come about?  Why were they found necessary (necessity being the cause of the invention)? Integers are whole numbers, indivisible, complete in themselves. Integers don’t recognise a continuum between themselves. There are no partials allowed here. They are separate and discrete and number theory could as well be called quantum counting.

Quite possibly the need came from counting their livestock or their prey. If arithmetic took off in the fertile crescent it well may have been the need for trading their live goats among themselves (integral goats for integral numbers of wives or beads or whatever else they traded) which generated the need for counting integers. Counting would have come about to fit their empirical observations. Live goats rather than carcasses, I think, because a carcass can be cut into bits and is not quite so dependent upon integers.  Quanta of live goat, however, would not permit fractions. It might have been that they needed integers to count living people (number of children, number of wives …..) where fractions of a person were not politically correct.

The rules of arithmetic – the logic – could only be discovered after the integers had been named and counting could go forth. The commutative, associative and distributive properties of integers inevitably followed. And the rest is history.

But I wonder how mathematics would have developed if the need had been to count raindrops.

After all:

2 goats + 2 goats = 4 goats, and it then follows that

2 short people + 2 short people = 4 short people.

But if instead counting had been inspired by counting raindrops, they would have observed that

2 little raindrops + 2 little raindrops = 1 big raindrop.

They might then have concluded that

2 short people + 2 short people = one tall person

and history would then have been very different.


 

Human evolution wish list

May 9, 2017

Evolution is reactive and has no direction. Evolution only gives the good-enough. If it can be said to have a goal it is the growth in numbers of the surviving population. “Quality of life” is irrelevant to evolution. But if it favoured excellence it could have been much more focused on the “improvement” of humans rather than just the increase of population.

My top ten wish-list.

  1. Inheritable memory
  2. Eyes with light sources
  3. Third eye for uv
  4. Telescopic limbs
  5. Hard-wired translation in the brain
  6. “Intelligence” based fertility
  7. Scent producing organ
  8. Direct absorption of light and heat energy by skin
  9. Organs for production and detection of radio waves
  10. X-ray sight

 


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