Polonius

To thine own self be true

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I’d take Brown’s chaos over Blair’s i

Posted by Polonius on 4 September, 2011

I’d take Brown’s chaos over Blair’s insane certainty any day.

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Testing Posterous

Posted by Polonius on 16 June, 2010

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The Universe and your place in it

Posted by Polonius on 7 June, 2010

From the evidence, it’s apparent that our universe emerged from a big
bang some billions of years ago. If you choose to believe that that
big bang was initiated by a sentient creator, you’re perfectly free to
do so.

If you believe the creator has intervened in any way since the Big
Bang, you should acknowledge that the only evidence to support that
hypothesis is hearsay from interested sources.

If you believe the creator looked remotely human, you’re ignoring the
fact that human appearance is the product of evolution.

If you believe the Universe was created to give Man a place to live,
that’s hubris on a cosmic scale.

If you believe an omniscient creator made the Universe to see what we
would do, that’s Orwellian doublethink.

If you believe the creator, in his omniscience, could see the
consequences of his actions, yet you describe him as ‘loving’, you are
either insane or stupid.

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Respect should be earned

Posted by Polonius on 26 April, 2010

The emerging evidence suggests that the pope was involved in a number of incidents where paedophile priests were protected and their crimes covered up. I'm not aware of evidence that this was widespread or systematic, but the church is doing nothing to counter the widespread belief that it was both. Of course, one instance is too many, and it now appears there are three or four credible accusations that really need to be investigated. It is grotesque but true that these crimes pale into insignificance against his idiotic, but legal, pronouncements on condom use, which contribute to 1.5 million deaths a year in Africa alone.

And now the UK Foreign Office has seen fit to apologise to this grubby little man! For shame!

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What’s in a name?

Posted by Polonius on 20 April, 2010

What am I? Skeptic? Humanist? Something else?

I'm a scientist by training and inclination. I think the word "rational" best describes my views.

The word "skeptic" has some notable aficionados, but I feel it's been devalued in the UK by the use of the term "eurosceptic" to mean "rabid, drooling, xenophobe". I'm not a member of the Skeptics Society, but may join one of these days.

I dislike the term "bright", but it certainly seems to have attracted lots of sensible rational people.

I am  a member of the (UK) National Secular Society.

I might join Project Reason, but I'm not sure whether to use my real name there.

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The war on photography continues

Posted by Polonius on 26 February, 2010

Much of this was drafted last May but, by an oversight, not published before now.

As I’ve remarked elsewhere, the notion that all photographers are paedophiles has been around for a long time, but it’s only since September 2001 that all photographers are paedophiles, terrorists or both. Bruce Schneier has written about the “war on photography“. Though much of his writing is from a US perspective, that article originally appeared in the Grauniad. There’s a useful summary of the UK legal position at sirimo.co.uk. I’m not sure if that may not need to be updated (at least for Scotland) following the disgraceful behaviour of Sheriff Kenneth Hogg.

The only new thing to add is the latest halfwit to join the war, and the original article.

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Charity begins at home

Posted by Polonius on 3 February, 2009

[Resisting the temptation to end the title “…homo”. What a pity many readers would have misconstrued it.]

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle about animal charities in Scotland today. The Scottish SPCA accuses the RSPCA of  allowing Scots donors to believe that the RSPCA spends money in Scotland, when in fact it doesn’t. I’m sure the same confusion exists between the NSPCC and Children 1st (The bloody stupid name doesn’t help.)

But I think there’s a much more shameful comparison to be made here. In 2007, the RSPCA made £114.1 million to the Scottish SPCA’s £11.984 million. In the year to March 2008, the NSPCC made £119.435 million  to Children 1st’s £9.270 million. The real disgrace is that the figures for the children’s charities are much the same as the animal charities’. Aren’t suffering children worth more than suffering of other species?

Gary Larson once did a Far Side cartoon titled “Bobbing for Poodles”. In one of his books, he talked of the number of complaints it had attracted, and expressed his relief that he hadn’t gone with his original title of “Bobbing for Babies”. I have no doubt whatsoever as to which title would have attracted more complaints in the UK, and it saddens me.

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Doctor Who at its best

Posted by Polonius on 8 June, 2008

Russell T. Davies is due a lot of credit for regenerating Doctor Who for the 21st century, but his artistic contribution hasn’t been the greatest. Hats off to Eccleston and Tennant as the Doctors, and a huge surprise in Billie Piper, whom I fully expected to be the worst assistant since Bonnie Langford. But among the writers, Steven Moffat reigns supreme. His CV outside Doctor Who is impressive, with Press Gang and Jekyll as notable landmarks. Within Doctor Who, his The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances was nothing short of stunning.

Given my high expectations, I was slightly disappointed in last week’s episode, Silence in the Library, although I was pleased that it introduced a concept I’ve long felt was strangely absent from time-travel fiction in general, namely that two people can encounter events in a different sequence. But last week’s episode was the first of a two-parter, and this week’s Part 2, Forest of the Dead, was better than I dared hope. It even managed to get a fair performance out of the real worst assistant since Bonnie Langford.

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Takes me back a bit

Posted by Polonius on 23 May, 2008

I’m sitting in front of Pink Floyd Night on BBC4. I don’t watch much television, and I don’t listen to much Pink Floyd, but it’s fascinating stuff and it takes me back to a time when adolescent hormone imbalance made this stuff seem so earth-shatteringly significant.

There are four old guys, frightfully English Public School, terribly decent on TV and probably a huge PITA in person. I’m struck by the fact that Rick Wright reminds me so much of Nigel Havers, more by manner and accent than physiognomy. The image is so striking, I have to see resemblances in the others. Roger Waters looks like Richard Gere, but then I start to struggle. Nick Mason looks vaguely like Douglas Adams and I’m really struggling with David Gilmour – perhaps a touch of Christy Moore?

They’re talking (well, Wright is) about music in terms that are very frustrating to me. I’m a scientist by nature and training. He talks about chords in a way that is completely alien to me. I struggle to tune my 3-year-old daughter’s Spongebob Squarepants Ukulele; I certainly can’t see why Wright thinks one chord sounds so effective – I like some jazz, but obviously I lack the intellectual grounding to understand much of it.

I can’t analyse it, but I must go and play Dark Side of the Moon.

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Briefly

Posted by Polonius on 3 December, 2007

I imagine there’s lots of stories like this. I don’t know why this one has attracted attention. Obviously, it’s a law drafted by morons, and the consequent tragedies will go almost entirely unreported.

I had occasion to chastise Stephen Fry yesterday.

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