Saturday, 31 January 2015
Thursday, 29 January 2015
In short, we sample the world to ensure our predictions become a self-fulfilling prophecy and surprises are avoided. In this view, perception is enslaved by action to provide veridical predictions (more formally, to make the freeenergy a tight bound on surprise) that guides active sampling of the sensorium.
As an aside - maybe the majority do see the benefits of withheld assent. Maybe it is mostly the chattering classes who assent too readily to fashionable consensus. As this isn't the least action approach their brains overheat.
Withheld assent feels similar to detachment if we see detachment as perpetually withheld assent. We've known about detachment for centuries - where some people seem to prefer to remain outside the easy brainwork of consensus.
All of which seems to fit modern life quite well.
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
When a banana is picked for the grocery store, it is picked and shipped green (unripe). In this stage the banana is comprised of a type of resistant starch for which the human body lacks the enzyme to break down. This banana (#1-5) will plug you up. Plus it has that awful “dry” texture that makes you want to spit it out.
Monday, 26 January 2015
We were out walking through Carsington Pasture today. It’s a somewhat barren landscape above Carsington Water, pockmarked with old mines and spoil heaps and now home to four huge wind turbines which can be seen for miles. You may be able to judge their size from the trees and the ruined stone windmill in the foreground.
The sound made by these things has been the subject of much debate, but I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. In the stiff breeze we had today, they make a low thrumming noise rather similar to the sound and the rhythm of a dishwasher. I wouldn’t want to live nearer than a couple of miles though; the sound must carry at night.
Big wind turbines are an impressive sight, especially up close on a windy day. What strikes me is the power behind the technology, the power of greedy and ambitious men. Women too no doubt, but let us leave the main responsibility where it belongs.
One is left with an acute reminder of the formidable realities of power, the ability to manipulate and persuade, the power to promote unworthy causes and harness worthy people to them. Voting will never change that.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Mr Bashir, a former Conservative, was elected as a UKIP MEP last year.
Before the defection was announced, UKIP suspended him and said he was being investigated for matters including "unanswered financial and employment questions" and "interference" with candidate selection processes.
I see no problems with our elected representatives swapping parties. Kicking against party discipline is no bad thing, but sadly I don't see in Mr Bashir a trend towards more independent political principles.
Amjad Mahmood Bashir (born 17 September 1952) is a Member of the European Parliament for the Yorkshire and the Humber region for the Conservative Party. He was elected in 2014 for the UK Independence Party and defected to the Conservative Party on 24 January 2015. Earlier on the same day, UKIP announced that they had suspended his membership and that he is under a continuing investigation over various allegations of impropriety.
Whether or not Cameron should have welcomed him back is one for the pundits. On reflection and taking everything into account I think I'd have told him to f**k off.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Thursday, 22 January 2015
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
In an age when mankind can send robots to look for life on Mars, why can't science stop so many forms of life from being wiped out here on Earth?
The question comes amid the loss of species on such a relentless scale that conservationists call it the Sixth Mass Extinction - the fifth being the asteroid that killed the large dinosaurs. This one is driven by human activity.
It seems to me that there is a scale of possible reactions to this story.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
As we enter the umpteenth year with no global warming the short answer is a rather obvious YES if scientific theories are still falsifiable by physical evidence. Uppercase indicates shouting by the way.
We see the issue most clearly in the abject failure of hugely expensive climate models to predict global temperature trends. The science and the scientists have failed miserably but the policies continue. Falsification is not allowed and never will be unless the political situation changes. It's like finding the school bully during a game of hide and seek. Really there is no point - better leave him hidden. Or indeed her.
Many would-be immigrants risk their lives for much less.
Monday, 19 January 2015
Four food outlets across Derbyshire were given a zero-star hygiene rating in 2014, it can be revealed.
The damning scores – based on the latest inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – mean “urgent improvement” is necessary.
Ratings are based on how the food is handled, the condition and cleanliness of the premises and the management of the business which includes good record keeping.
All very interesting for those of us who sometimes eat out in Derbyshire, but we'd rarely touch a place with less than a five star rating anyway. These things are insidious though. There was a time when the general appearance of a place was enough, those tiny and not so tiny clues which scruffy folk seem unable to hide.
Now we look for the rating and I'm not sure it's an improvement. Not only that but one naturally goes on to wonder if such schemes will ever move on to other aspects of official nutritional approval. Should we expect a lettuce rating to arrive in due course?
Sunday, 18 January 2015
|Swiss Cottage - Chatsworth Estate|
|Emperor Lake - Chatsworth Estate|
Saturday, 17 January 2015
Des glaneuses by Jean-François Millet
Friday, 16 January 2015
Thursday, 15 January 2015
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Grandson (aged 7) told me about the new school food regulations today. He thinks the idea is stupid.
On the other hand Nick Clegg (aged 48) thinks it's a good idea.
Nick however, is an unreliable authoritarian tit so I'm with Grandson on this one.
Monday, 12 January 2015
The post title "Better of worse?" is not a question to take too seriously. I have no great wish to return to the late seventeenth century, not even this fairytale version. Commuting would have been easier though.
Yet even discounting Siberechts' fanciful eye and the rose-tinted mist of nostalgia, there remains a certain sense of loss. Nothing is for nothing as they say and we certainly gave something away during the industrial revolution.
Three centuries ago England would have seemed achingly beautiful even to our jaded modern eyes. A country of winding lanes, clean air, clean rivers, thatched cottages, small towns, tiny villages and buildings all built to a human scale.
Best seen from a distance no doubt but still beautiful.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
We seem to be remarkably good at choosing houses where ridge tiles are likely to be blown off in high winds. Lost another three in the recent winds. One landed on the garage roof, smashed about six tiles but the ridge tile itself is unscathed.
Ah well, at least it missed the car.
Friday, 9 January 2015
Thursday, 8 January 2015
I recently stumbled across the story of Neil Moss while browsing through some Derbyshire history. It must be one of those events that lie dormant in the memory for decades because I recall quite vividly being horrified by it at the time.
Neil Moss (full name Oscar Hackett Neil Moss, (1938 - March 22, 1959) was the victim of a famous caving accident in England on Sunday, March 22, 1959. A twenty-year-old undergraduate studying philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford, Moss became jammed underground, 1,000 feet from the entrance after descending a narrow unexplored shaft in Peak Cavern, a famous cave system in Castleton in Derbyshire.
Initial attempts to haul him free failed because the rope broke several times. When he lost consciousness as carbon dioxide from his own respiration built up in the base of the shaft, he was unable to assist further rescue attempts made with a stronger rope. More rescue efforts were made: June Bailey gave up after six hours, "driven back by foul air," and caving veteran Bob Leakey, in a frogman suit, could not get to him. He never regained consciousness and was declared dead on the morning of Tuesday, March 24, after the final rescue attempt had failed.
His father, wishing to avoid further injury or loss of life in an attempt to retrieve his body, requested that it be left in place, wishing no one else to risk life or limb. The fissure was sealed with concrete and an inscription was later placed nearby. This section of Peak Cavern is now known as Moss Chamber.
It's not my thing, caving. I still find it horrific, the idea of dying like that. Yet expiring as a result of his own exhaled carbon dioxide would have been quite painless. It's the thought of it, his inability to struggle against that unimaginable weight of rock.
The stuff of nightmares.
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Monday, 5 January 2015
Sunday, 4 January 2015
One of a series of three videos from the seventies worrying about a new ice age. The usual suspects are all there - visual drama, doom-laden commentary, tame experts and a celebrity - in this case Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame. The other two videos are here and here. h/t Gore Lied.
The third video features the late Stephen Schneider who later switched to predicting global warming and according to the same Gore Lied post had this to say to Discover magazine in October 1989.
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
To my mind these are the words of an ethically naive man rather than an out and out liar, but even as I write those words I wonder if I'm being naive too.
Saturday, 3 January 2015
An Old Politician and a Young Politician were travelling through a beautiful country, by the dusty highway which leads to the City of Prosperous Obscurity. Lured by the flowers and the shade and charmed by the songs of birds which invited to woodland paths and green fields, his imagination fired by glimpses of golden domes and glittering palaces in the distance on either hand, the Young Politician said:
Ah - the City of Prosperous Obscurity. A fable for modern times, as so many fables are. I wonder if Clegg or Cameron know where it is? I suspect they do.
Friday, 2 January 2015
For, after all, this deity of his, like the deity of every other man, was but his temperament exaggerated beyond life-size and put in perfect order — it was but the concretion of his constant feeling that nothing could be trusted to behave, freed from the still, cold hands of Power.
Thursday, 1 January 2015
Scientists at Fradley University in Staffordshire have proved conclusively that toast is not an aphrodisiac. It may be eaten in comparative safety with little or no risk of unwanted attentions from MPs, the Daily Mail or small dogs.
“So this is what prompted you to test the aphrodisiac properties of toast to see if it serves a deeper purpose than a mere marmalade platform? How did you go about it?”
"Yes. We tested for certain biochemical markers in the blood and compared to the control group the negative effect was quite marked. Unfortunately we can’t actually do any follow-up tests because the Warburton group have all disappeared. They seem to have changed their mobile phone numbers too – which is odd.”
“Probably not,” Dr Baz mused after a long hesitation. “Although there are some loose ends such as a number of subjects from the Warburton Group who vanished before the experiment was completed. Nevertheless we’ve demonstrated what we set out to demonstrate.”
So that's that. Another urban myth demolished thanks to the tireless efforts of scientists such as Dr Baz.