Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Posted @ 23:05Bits & Pieces II

Well, here's a thing - me posting on consecutive days. It's not so much that I've got a lot to say (!) more that I've stumbled across a few interesting things this evening and felt that passing them on (and my own little thoughts on them) to my regular readers may enhance or enlighten their days. Plus I needed to expose the world to a few little random thoughts of my own. Enjoy!

By the way, "Bits & Pieces I" appeared here in January 2006.

Has is ever occurred to you... I

Has it ever occurred to you that unicellular organisms multiply by dividing? Is this the clue to some previously undiscovered arithmetical principle?


In the USA the election-feast has come and gone, it seems I have placed enough temporal distance between myself and those events to make some sort of comment. Or, at least, make some indirect comment.

During the campaign I read a lot of stuff on US websites (and other websites authored by US ex-patriots) regarding the great issues being debated and the personal insults swapped in the name of democracy (the latter seemed to appear with greater frequency than the former; however, my sample was small, possibly unrepresentative and certainly unquantified). The thing that seemed to get most Republicans (and right-wing Democrats; US political organisation is very strange) especially hot under the collar was the issue of gay marriage. For a country which has a constitution which specifically excludes a state religion, they use religion as an argument for and against everything.

The UK avoided any trouble by legislating for Civil Partnerships but knowing that everyone would call it Gay Marriage.

Anyway, reading Beth's Own Blog today, I came across this wonderful list: "10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong". Give it a read, it will give you a smile.

Has it ever occurred to you... II

Has it ever occurred to you that computers on TV and in films always work faster and better than the ones you have to use? Actually, the same goes for cars, telephones and TVs. And spaceships. And stargates.

Science is not just for geeks

People appear to think that: (a) science is difficult to explain; (b) scientific words endow any statement or proclamation with undisputed certainty; (c) science is boring and, anyway, can't explain everything. I won't bother to explore (c) just now, maybe another time for that. Two articles I've come across recently, however, can be used to argue against (a) and (b).

Calculus is one of the most important mathematical tools we possess. It owes its development to Liebniz and Newton (those in the know will realise that they erected the vast edifice on the foundations of others). To understand the history and meaning of calculus is to understand the history and meaning of our modern technological society. A very readable and very accurate and very enjoyable article on the history of calculus has come to my attention: "to infinity and beyond". I'm grateful for Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy for pointing me at this gem.

Some of you have been bored by my constant griping about the plethora of products proclaiming their high content of omega-3 and its supposed benefits. I'm not the only one (doing the griping, not the boring). Without going into the details of what omega-3 fatty-acids actually are and how they're used in the body, let's just say that there is some question about how the evidence for the alleged benefits was obtained. [if anyone does want to know the details, a private consultation can be arranged with suitably qualified individuals]

Durham Council has been the instigator of the trials which have produced the evidence for the claimed beneficial effects of omega-3-rich fish oils. The trouble is the don't seem to be keen on sharing the details of these trials, just the sensational conclusions. Ben Goldacre — who writes the Bad Science column for the Guardian — has been trying to find out what exactly was done in these trials in order to assess how significant the findings are. Durham Council seem to be reluctant to provide the required information. You should read all about this on Ben's site: "Just... Show... Me... The... Data..." (love the use of ellipsis).

The End

Well, I think that'll do for today.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well , Woja old son, Kinky Friedman had it when he said (something along the lines of) "Of course I'm in favour of gay marriage- why shouldn't gay people suffer the same misery as the rest of us?". Kinky is at present unmarried, and failed to become the Governor of Texas.

Ian O.

Mon Nov 20, 08:38:00 pm GMT 
Blogger woja said...

Ta, baji mi old mate.
Forgot the guy's name so couldn't Google that quote (but I did remember it.

Mon Nov 20, 09:14:00 pm GMT 

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