Wine and Beer

Wine and beer we’ll drink without fear,

We’ll drink a success to The Innocent Hare. (Trad. song)

 

Our good friends Q and A meet about once a month to go for a meal. Today, we find them in Herman’s Hermitage, just next door to Hernando’s Hideaway in Norton Throssle.

(Should be somewhere like Horton Heath in Hampshire to keep the alliteration going. Ed.

Yes, but they never went there.

Well, they never went to Norton Throssle, either. You made it up!

Sound of keyboard being trashed. Other noises off)

 

A is checking out the snacks menu, while Q rhapsodises philosophically over the a la carte.

 

Q: A fine meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.

A. Yeah, but meat pie without beer is just bloody queer.

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

Freud:       An die andere Seite zu kommen. (Much laughter)

Hamlet: That is not the question.

Thomas de Torquemada: Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I’ll find out.

Jack Nicholson: ‘Cause it (censored) wanted to. That’s the (censored) reason.

Very practical answers, but for deeper meaning we must turn to:

Plato:    For the greater good.

Kafka:     Hardly the most urgent enquiry to make of a low-grade insurance clerk who woke up that morning as a hen.

Karl Marx: It was a historical inevitability.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained.

Hippocrates: Because of an excess of light pink gooey stuff in its pancreas.

Jacques Derrida: Any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is DEAD, DAMMIT, DEAD!

Nietzsche: Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.

Timothy Leary: Because that’s the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

Douglas Adams: Forty-two.

B.F. Skinner:         Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while Jean-Paul Sarttebelieving these actions to be of its own free will.

Carl Jung:            The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Jean-Paul Sartre:     In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Ludwig Wittgenstein:  The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road”, and circumstances came  into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Albert Einstein:      Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Aristotle:            To actualize its potential.

Buddha:               If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Howard Cosell:        It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history.  An historic unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo sapiens pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurence.

Salvador Dali:        The Fish.

Darwin:               It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Emily Dickinson:      Because it could not stop for death.

Epicurus:             For fun.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Johann von Goethe:    The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Werner Heisenberg:    We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.

David Hume:           Out of custom and habit.

Henry David Thoreau:  To live deliberately … and suck all the marrow out of life.

Ernest Hemingway:     To die. In the rain.

Pyrrho the Skeptic:   What road?

Mark Twain:           The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Oliver North:         National Security was at stake.

Ronald Reagan:        I forget.

John Sununu:          The Air Force was only too happy to provide the transportation, so quite understandably the chicken availed himself of the opportunity.

The Sphinx:           You tell me.

Mr. T:                If you saw me coming you’d cross the road too!

Molly Yard:           It was a hen!

Zeno of Elea:         To prove it could never reach the other side.

Chaucer:              So priketh hem nature in hir corages.

Wordsworth:           To wander lonely as a cloud.

The Godfather:        I didn’t want its mother to see it like that.

Keats:                Philosophy will clip a chicken’s wings.

Blake:                To see heaven in a wild fowl.

Othello:              Jealousy.

Macbeth:              To have turned back were as tedious as to go o’er.

Dr Johnson:           Sir, had you known the Chicken for as long as I have, you would not so readily enquire, but feel rather the Need to resist such a public Display of your own lamentable and incorrigible Ignorance.

Mrs Thatcher:         This chicken’s not for turning.

Supreme Soviet:       There has never been a chicken in this photograph.

Oscar Wilde:          Why, indeed? One’s social engagements whilst in  town ought never expose one to such barbarous inconvenience – although, perhaps, if one must cross  road, one may do far worse than to cross it as the chicken in question.

Swift:                It is, of course, inevitable that such a loathsome, filth-ridden and degraded creature as Man should assume  to question the actions of one in all respects his superior.

Whitehead:            Clearly, having fallen victim to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

Donne:                It crosseth for thee.

Pope:                 It was mimicking my Lord Hervey.

Constable:            To get a better view.

via http://philosophy.eserver.org/chicken.txt

Laws for Life

 

Lion and Thomson's Gazelles
Image by Stig Nygaard via Flickr

 

Throughout recorded history, societies and individuals have compiled laws and philosophies to guide us in our day-to-day activities and relationships. They range in form from the rather prosaic, such as The Ten Commandments, to the more poetic, such as this African proverb;

Every morning in Africa a gazelle awakens knowing it must today run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning a lion awakens knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It matters not whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun rises you had better be running.

Sometimes, the advice proffered is so straight-laced and serious that we cannot help making fun of it.

“… and so, Simba, the gazelles eat the grass, and then we eat the gazelles, and thenlion and cub we poop out the gazelles and they go back into the grass. And then a baboon smears Welch’s Grape Jelly on your forehead and that’s how you become king…

 

 

 

 

 

But the ultimate rule for survival, whether you are the hunter,

Jack Russell terrier, Rosie, on the alert
By the pricking of my thumbs, something foxy this way comes

 

 

 

 

 

or the hunted,

You looking at me?

 

 

 

 

 

is something that everyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces , or any disciplined service knows…


Rock And Roll

 

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Susterma...
Image via Wikipedia

 

“And yet, it moves.”

Legend has it that the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei muttered this phrase after being forced by the Inquisition in 1633, to recant his belief that the Earth moved around the Sun.

In other words, “You can force me to say what you want, but that doesn’t mean that it’s true.”

At this point, for the sake or dramatic narrative, let us contrast Galileo’s stance with the philosophy of perception as  proposed by George Berkeley.

George Berkeley was an Irish philosopher who created and promoted a theory he called “immaterialism” later referred to as “subjective idealism”. His dictum was “Esse est percipi” – “To be is to be perceived”.

If a tree falls in the forest

George, of course, did not have the benefit of the discovery of Quantum Theory, where, in the uncertain, fuzzy world of quantum mechanics, particles do not have fixed properties until they are observed.

Instead, objects that obey quantum rules exist in a “superposition” of all their possible states simultaneously. This would enable him ,as an observer, to perceive something, while at the same time, not perceiving it, choosing what woiuld be the results of his observations (who needs the scientific method?), or going to lie down in a darkened room with a cold compress.

Mildly interesting, then , to speculate what he would have made of Karen.

Karen is, or, more precisely, was one of the larger sailing stones, also known as sliding rocks and moving rocks, which are a geological phenomenon where rocks move in long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention.

They have been recorded and studied in a number of places around Racetrack Playa,Death Valley, where the number and length of travel grooves are notable. The force behind their movement was not observed until recently and has been the subject of on-going research.

Karen -designated as stone J, rather than stone K, for reasons best known to Bob Sharp and Dwight Carey, who researched the stones in 1972, – is a block of dolomite weighing an estimated 320 kg.

Perhaps not surprisingly Karen didn’t move during the monitoring period.

However, Karen disappeared sometime before May 1994, when a fresh bout of scientific monitorings was conducted by Professor John Reid of the University of Massachusetts.

Disappeared, eh?. Well perhaps she learned a trick or two from her Colombian cousins.

The rocks of the highest coastal mountain on earth, Columbia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have achieved the geological equivalent of Michael Palin’s Around The World In Eighty Days.

In the course of its 170 million year history, the mountain has travelled a total of 2,200 kilometers. In fact, according to a report in the Journal Of South American Earth Sciences, “The mountain travels from Peru to northern Colombia and finally rotates in a clockwise direction .

Rock on, Karen.

Vampires In Warrington

Vampire or Werewolf?

Is this anything worth giving up an afternoon’s drinking for?” muttered Bill Warrington as he staggered blearily along Bridge Street in search of Vampires and Zombies. A story had recently appeared to his editor in a dream, suggesting that vampires, werewolves and similar had been seen indulging in secret beer-drinking rituals in Warrington’s underground caverns. The information, which came from an unusually unreliable source , suggested that a series of cellars connecting  Warrington Station with a secret location was the scene of some strange goings-on. Whether these cellars these cellars were originally constructed as part of storm drain Bunker leading to the Manchester Ship Canal, or were a lost branch of the famous Williamson Tunnels, was of no interest to anyone.

Bill had been tasked to manufacture (investigate , surely? Ed.) a story about the descendants of the tunnel builders,a zombie-like race, known as Irish Navvies, who never saw the light of day. At least when sober.

Lots of important people who know all about Warrington have denied that there were ever any such tunnels. One bloke in a pub drinking a.Vampire’s Kiss said he couldn’t care less. It appeared that there was no story about Zombies.

.But Bill had a source of information on Vampires.

Tracking Deep Bite to his lair in a booth in Porters Ale House was an easy task for a hack with Bill’s drinking habits. He found him sitting there wearing a pair of Grouch Marx spectacles and moustache, drinking a long ale.

But the initial reaction of Warrington’s foremost authority on underground culture was to deny any knowledge about anything.

Worldly-wise Warrington wearily withdrew a wodge and wafted it in front of the dubiously disguised Deep Bite. “Is there something in this hand that would make you remember about vampires?”

Deep Bite:

First thing I have to say about vampires. We do NOT… I repeat NOT… Sparkle in the daylight. Last thing I want to hear is another mortal swooning over Edward Cullen!

Bill W:

It has been reported in the British Psychological Society, that Vampires may be classified as succesful psycopaths who are ruthless, callous, fearless and arrogant.The report says that thanks to their superior self-control and conscientiousness, rather than landing in prison, they end up as company chief executives, university chancellors and Queen’s Council barristers. What do you say to that?

Deep Bite:

There are a lot of famous people who are actually vampires. You can tell who they are, because to make them look ‘normal’ they have to apply a LOT of fake tan. I can not tell you their names however, as we are all sworn to secrecy, however, If I say “Cheap as chips” or “Supermarket Sweep” I think you will know what I mean.

Bill W:

OK, how about this, then? Leading vampire expert Stephen Marche, writing in Esquire magazine on 13th Oct said,“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.” He went on to say “vampires are normal. They’re not Goth, they’re not scary, they’re not even that weird.”

Deep Bite:
W
e do not like the emo clique at all. They are annoying beyond compare. We are not as dangerous as people might think however. Yes we do bite, etc… however the Were’s are worse, with all that hair, all over their bodies.

And its not just the Werewolves, there are weres of pretty much every creature out there, including the weresquirrell… You can spot them easily by there huge red beards and their strange habbits when eating nuts. To try to blend in, they often just call themselves ‘furries’.

At this point our reporter made an excuse and left.

As he drifted off into the night, Bill wondered what the physicists Costas Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi would have made of these revelations. After all, they had recently published a report proving that vampires didn’t exist.

They argued that, if vampires had first appeared on 1st January 1600, then the human race would have been eaten up by June 1602. They had gone on to say;

Another philosophical principal related to our argument is the truism given the elaborate title, the anthropic principle. This states that if something is necessary for human existence, then it must be true since we do exist. In the present case, the nonexistence of vampires is necessary for human existence. Apparently, whomever devised the vampire legend had failed his college algebra and philosophy courses.”

Obviously, they never met Deep Bite.

Since this story first came to light, a significant silence has settled on Warrington, which has more than 100K residents. Not a single one has commented on this story. A conspiracy? Or something even less sinister?

Tweeting is the New Psychology. Philosophy, Too.

Rooney playing for England
Image via Wikipedia
It is a fact of modern society that those in the public eye have little choice but to have their private lives subjected to public scrutiny.
Hard on the heels of the revelations about Wayne Rooney’s off-pitch activities comes the hard core psychological analysis and advice from some of the Twitterverse’s deepest thinkers.
Natalie Rooney
Natalie Rooney, one of Wayne’s cousins, used her Twitter account within hours of the news surfacing, tweeting:
“Just bag him & bin him. You deserve a million times better. Not someone who does this to you and treats you like dirt while he’s out sleeping with dirt. Xx”
This advice seems to be wholeheartedly endorsed by the British Psychological Society.
Accor4ding to research by  Xiuping Li and colleagues of the National University of Singapore,
“If something’s troubling you, write it down, put it in an envelope and seal it. Doing so will help bring you psychological closure.
Sealing a disturbing news story in an envelope reduced the negative emotional impact of the story and reduced participants’ memory of it.”
This advice is being published in Sealing the Emotions Genie: The Effects of Physical Enclosure on Psychological Closure, with Liyuan Wei and Dilip Soman, Psychological Science, 2010
Natalie has arrived at the same scientific conclusion via her personal philosophy. As her Twitter bio says, Natalie “No longer thinks…just tweets!! Wayne Rooneys Cousin LOL!!”

Reviewing the Situation

Everybody’s a critic these days. The Age of Information has dawned and there is simply no limit to our ability to tell the world what we think. Or is there?

 

Information travelling through the Web

 

We can view what sites we like on the web, and Twitter can tell the world instantly whether we like it or not. Sure, there’s a limit to the number of characters that can be used, but LOL, OMG, WTF, and all the other alphabetti spaghetti get the message across that you liked what you saw. Or not as the case may be.

Is it being too pedantic to declare that these statements are just that; statements? They are a thumbs up or down, a vote for the one with the biggest…assets, a hand in the air saying “Please, sir, me, sir, I know, sir!” They respond to the question, “Do you have an opinion – Y/N. Tick one and go to the next section.”

It is the ‘next section’ that concerns us, the one that asks, “Explain your opinion (be brief)”.

An example is called for. Here is a selection of reviews taken from StumbleUpon pages:
love it
Great
Awesome
nice representation
i was impressed
This is an interesting idea
omg
That is sooo cool!
WTF!
WOW…..Just damn!

These are all from different sites., and they are supposed to be reviews.

Really, they are just comments, like this spam comment from The Works of George Berkley (honestly, that’s how it is signed) in response to the post Rock and Roll; “rock and roll”.

Now, since George was a philosopher,albeit now deceased, this is probably a highly profound comment. In fairness, the post does actually refer to George in passing.

These so-called reviews, however, are just obscure;

“It reminds me of that Star Trek TNG episode where they find out that criminals from another civilization actually are suffering from a brain defect… It’s another reason I don’t believe in the death penalty.”

“How amazing and awesome is this! I wonder how they did it. Mix your own YouTube song, of sorts…”

“Stumble must be tied to the ECCO or something because I was listening to a Chomsky lecture talking about the same thing today.”

And the list goes on.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you happen to be looking at the article/picture/song under review at the time, then at least you know what the comment (!) is about. But, (picky, picky) it isn’t a review if it doesn’t tell you what it’s about.

Oh, then, you say, if that’s all….Now wait a minute. Here are ALL the reviews for Twittley;

First up, so you know what we’re talking about, here’s the official ‘About Us’ column from twittley.com;

About us
What is twittley?
Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network, by submitting links and stories, and voting and commenting on submitted links and stories.

With me so far? OK, now here are the 7 reviews for the site:

1) Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network

2) Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network

3) From the page: “Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network

4) Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network

Are you beginning to sense a trend here?

5) Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network, by submitting links and stories, and voting and commenting on submitted links and stories

6) From the page: “Twittley is first Twitter social news website made for people to discover and share content through Twitter network, by submitting links and stories, and voting and commenting on submitted links and stories

 

Cute Princess

 

And finally, my personal favourite, from CutestPrincess (cool name!);

7) Twittley – About us

Aaall righty, then. But let’s not be too harsh; 2 of the reviewers did at least say they were quoting from the page in question, and by this time, I think we all know what Twittley is.

So, here it is. Your task, Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to Twitter a review of this article, using words of no less then one syllable, describing what the article is about and giving reasons for whether you like it or not.

Closing date for the competition will be when we get a reply.

All replies, regardless of content (asking for trouble, I know) will be published on this blog under the title ‘Right of Reply’.

Prizes have yet to be found, but I reckon Twittley should sponsor this, what do you say?