on inconsistency and weekends
Another excellent weekend away, leaving me with a mild lack of sleep, but I did my best at university in the first year and I barely had any sleep then. So therefore that must have been the cause.
Britain's views on freedom of speech, are, to be honest, insane. Seriously. Recently Ken Livingstone has been suspended for making some possibly unwise statements to a Jewish reporter... while being harrased randomly. Abu Hamza has been thrown in jail for encouraging violence, Nick Griffi, the head of the BNP is apparently NOT racist, but the Danish cartoons are fine. I love it, I really do, the way we can apparently hold all these conflicing ideas at once and have no problem at it. I suppose maybe people just don't seen the connect between all these things. Do I have an opinion on freedom of speech? Honestly I'm not sure. Generally it's much safer to err in favour of it, simply because the other way can lead to abuses, to people getting censured for saying anything that might be perceived as racist (and it is interesting how sacrosant the holocaust is- I can happily give comparisons to the Rwandan genocide (1 million people dead), without accusations of insensitivity). So I guess generally I favour the free speakers. Should Abu Hamza be thrown in jail though? The argument is, I imagine, that he creates these violent people, that he is behind the spread of violence, and just because he does not not do it does not mean he is not powerful.
And such complex debates is why I avoid organised politics. Heh, seriously I do enjoy the old debates, but I think for tonight I will give it a miss. I might have a serious think about the limits of freedom of speech- but it's something that I do not honestly have an answer to right now. And I'm tired.
A terrible drought!
I love the UK, for our complete wusiness when weather comes. People talked about our stoicness after 7/7, but if it had been a natural disaster we would have gone on about it for years. Seriously- we still talk about the storm of 1987 which was almost a hurricane, in which 13 people died. Whenever it snows our trains break down, and if the temperature goes anywhere near either extreme there will be many, many complaints.
One of the most amusing pieces of extreme weather is the "drought
". Apparently we are headed for one this year. So what does this involve?
"Water companies in south-east England are being urged to bring in hosepipe bans to avoid the introduction of more extreme water-saving measures."
That's right. A hosepipe ban. Good lord! How we will clean our cars and water our lawns? Cricket games will be ruined! Hilarious practical jokes involving pretending the hose pipe is broken will be outlawed! Truly Britain is in dire straits....
Went very well, in case you were wondering (I know you were on tenterhooks, you really were). 'Tis quite confirming. My tutor, from whom I have to collectmy results, pointed to a mark which was lower than the others and said it was a little disappointing, and I replied that I had kind of expected to get that mark as a maximum.... Hehe.
Our shower has decided that it is going to malfunction again, providing a trickle of boiling cold water over my head. This morning I attempted to wash my hair, and retreated with shampoo still there, saying something along the lines of "christ thats cold!" It appears to have been winter since october, which is awfully unfair, I feel. It's probably time for spring now. I'd like that.
I know it really doesn't matter
But it really bugs me when people make a particular mistake. Surely, if they think about it, everyone must know that food, doesn't, in fact, "all come out of the other end", yet a remarkable proportion of people will claim that it does. Seriously, this is just obviously wrong- otherwise there would be absolutely no point to eating, other than as exercise I suppose. So stop claiming that it's true. I am probably the only person in the world to find this irritating, but we all have to take stands somewhere!
Toby is a swine
So here was I feeling fairly good, going to bed in about an hour, when I get a text from Toby reminding me that we get our exam results tomorrow. Thanks a lot Toby, now that's all I can think about.....
Shout out to
To my lovely ladyfriend Alice, 6 months yesterday y'all. Represent. So yeah, I am reasonably happy as I can be when she is in York and I am exhausted from a failure to go to bed at a reasonable time (well, for a 7:30 get up anyways). I know people from the world of work will chuckle at my failure to deal with that kind of time, but I'm a student- I'm not meant
too. Unfortunately most of the impressions I got from university were from non-science students, who have about one lecture a year, and basically spend their entire time at university having an absolutely fantastic time and probably doing a lot of illegal drugs.
Not that I don't know any illegal drug takers amoungst the student body at Bath, but those who are very efficient time users, or really smart. Or, you know, just failures.
Economics students of the future
Sitting in the university library you get to here a lot of conversations. One of the most amusing forms is always the group work that certain courses, generally economics and international development, it seems, have. This work seems to involve them sitting around and talking a lot while getting very little done, which is probably the very definition of a meeting (ho ho ho, office humour).
What they say can be truly disturbing, if one is bored enough with ones own work ( a situation I find myself in a reasonable amount of times a day) to listen. These include asking who the current leader of the conservative party is, something I might expect an economics student to know. Actually I'd hope that any student would know to be honest, but you can't get everything.
Then one student seemed to not, in fact, understand economics. I have never formally studied economics, but I'm pretty sure the statement "well, couldn't governments increase inflation to reduce their debt?", is one that should never be made by anyone who has studied it for any amount of time. When someone did query the gentleman who made this comment on this assertion, he pointed out that if inflation went up, the relative amount they would owe in debt would go down. Which would be true, if interest rates weren't in fact adjusted to increase with inflation.... Otherwise banks might find it quite difficult to stay in business. Glad to see the economics education is so effective....
I am currently reading Bad Thoughts by Jamie Whyte. It's an enjoyable book, so far, and one I would reccomend- it talks about the logical fallacies we are all susceptible to.
One of these that frustrates me is the "pot calling the kettle black" argument. We've all experienced it, maybe even used it. You are watching, perhaps, someone play a game of some sort, and say "you aren't doing well there..." Their response? "Yeah, well you can't do any better!" Huh? It might well be true that I can't do any better, but thats hardly the point. It doesn't make you good. Just better than me. Often it's applied against people who don't even claim to be good at that. This is true for morality- the mother telling her daughter to be more careful, with the retaliation "well you weren't!". It might be frustrating to have a murderer tell you not to murder, but it does not stop murder being wrong. Ultimately this argument answers nothing, other than to bring the other person down with you.
I must admit that I have used this before, in the heat of the moment- perhaps because it does feel unfair to have someone tell you off that you know they've done before, and will do again. It doesn't make your action right however, and I think we should all keep that in mind.
Action packed excitement
It's all been happening lately. If, by all, you mean lots of lectures, in the same ol'grind as always, then yes it has. I did get to point out that my girlfriend's election slogan sounded like a white supremacists'. Which isn't something you get to do every day. Unless, of course, your girlfriend is a member of the BNP, in which case it's probably redundant to point it out. Also, are there female members of the BNP?
It'd be nice to think that there has existed a national party which has standed for nice things, like cupcakes and sharing (I'd be deeply tempted to vote for any candidate who's manifesto just said that), from National socialism, to the national front, it's hardly the sign of rational politics. On irrational politics, I am beginning to get suspicious of the Socialist worker. It never seems to get much circulation- I can't imagine they sell all that much (but then I have only ever lived in middle class towns full of conservatives, so that might be why)- yet every single march I've ever been to there have been hundreds of placards made by socialist worker. Where do they get the money from? Something fishy going on there.
Incidentally, if anyone cares to give me examples of national parties which are nice, then I am fully prepared to go "la la la I'm not listening!"
Amnesty have sent me a bunch of leaflets to hand out, about conflict diamonds- diamonds sold to fund war, mostly in Africa. Now, while this is something we should of course be concerned about, I am the chair of a student group
. Students are not traditionally known to have a large portion of money, so to be fully honest I doubt we have much weight over the diamond industry.... I'm sure they'll be very upset that I won't be getting that 1 crt diamond, but I think they'll live. Oh well, some mixed signals at the campaign office perhaps.
Not that our society is of the highest of priorities in their minds, I suspect. Our 5 or so members are doubtlessly contributing a lot to saving a world, but a little less than Bristol university's 40 or so. Stupid Bristol university.
Seriously, whats the deal with those things that have handwash, soap, and air dryer mixed together? What exactly is the point? It surely can't be all that much cheaper, it's certainly not more convinient, and it is almost inevitably nigh on impossible to get soap out of the damn thing. I blame mcdonalds, as that is the first place I ever saw one. And also, when everthing fails... blame mcdonalds.
So, yeah, it's valentines day. My mind goes back to the days when the classroom was full of comparisons of valentines, as if they meant something- you're either dating someone or not, a bit of card will not really change that. I would, however, like to point out that I did once get a valentines card from someone who I was not dating. Once. From the girl who I "dated" in primary school. So it probably doesn't count. But I'm gonna count it anyway, because if there is someone up there counting in some indecphirable way, I intend to be ahead of you all.
Me-1 Everyone else-0.
It's not that difficult, one would have thought. On each train, there is a coach which is called the "quiet zone", for passengers who want some peace during their journey. If you want to sit there, then you need to not converse, and to only text if you use your mobile phones at all. If you feel this atmosphere is a little restrictive, you are welcome to go to the rest of the train.
So, why, oh why, did two women choose to sit their children in front and behind me today? Listen, mothers around the world- I understand your lot is hard, that your children can tire you out, and you cannot always keep control of them. That's fine, they are of an age where it is sometimes difficult to keep them still all the time. But surely you are also aware of this? Seriously. I do not understand why she decided to sit here- the train was decidedly empty when I got on, and yet she had chosen to ruin my peace and quiet as I left York. Of course, she was not the only trangressor. People talking, people coughing, people listening to music... it's enough to make one cry. Added to this that during a bus journey up to campus for the lecture I had come back for I had to deal with more children, the vasectomy plan sounds very tempting right now....
Garfield without garfield
. Sheer genius.
invent your own day
I hit 500 posts the other day, which is nice- I've been doing this blog for a long time now, about a year and a half now, and I intend to keep this up for a long time. You never know, I might be celebrating my 70th birthday on here! Of course by that point I will be in control of the remaining population centres of the planet, the war of the spoons having eradicated most of you.
I wonder if all boys love destruction. I know I did when I was younger- I was fascinated by war, and my toys would regularly declare full scale wall. In fact it got to the point where there were sophisticated cultures at war with each other, only complicated by the complete lack of women and children- a back story was generally invented. Certainly my sister's toys did none of this- to be fully honest I have absolutely no idea what exactly she did with her toys. Alice, my lovely girlfriend, tells me that when she was younger she used to play doctor and patient, with the patient inevitably dying, so maybe the girls do get some interesting games- or maybe she's just crazy.
On that note, valentines day is coming up, that annual day where people in relationships get to spent a large amount to prove to people without someone how dark and lonely their meaningless existences are. Or something like that anyhow. We have a holiday for love, but not the other emotions. I'm not talking about hatred, or anything so crass (besides I did that last year
) but rather more undefined emotions. How about an ambivalence day? Get people cards saying "I'm not entirely sure how I feel about you." It'd be brilliant! Or a moderately unnerved day "You sat next to me at a party. I wish you hadn't.". Or a mildly indignant day "You picked your nose in public. That's nasty."
Invent your own day!
a new blog
I've started a new blog entitled writing about webcomics
. In which I will be... umm.. writing about webcomics. Hopefully I will write things that will interest you whoever you are, but I want to keep it seperate from this blog. So I have.
This semester I have taken a module called conjecture and proof. It sounded interesting, the sort of thing I really want to refine. I have discovered that, at least so far, it involves solving problems. All the time. With no lecturing. Which is cool in a way I guess- get to engage my brain. Unfortunately, I'm not sure my brain is all there. Meh, in my defence the first few questions have been about geometry and god I hate geometry so much. Oh well.
So this Islamic cartoon thing is getting a little out of hand now... I have heard very strong arguments for both sides, both arguing that this is endemic of a much larger problem. I'm actually not sure what's going to happen. I imagine it might have cooled down naturally, but with newspapers all over the world seemingly eager to pour fuel on the fire, who knows when it will all end. Or with what. Iran, rather cleverly, have commissioned cartoons about the holocaust. Disgusting, of course, but if we are to claim that we embrace freedom of expression, then it must be all freedom of expression. It's a big mess, and honestly I don't understand it. I think the average muslim is probably not angry about the cartoon- rather more the attitude of not having any cultural sensitivity it represents. But I could be wrong, because I'm an aetheist and not as easy to offend. I'm not completely sure what cartoon would cause me to assault an embassy.....
Speaking about Iran, while I am not happy about the idea of them acquiring nuclear weapons, can you blame them? With North Korea now practically untouchable, and us (the west) turning a blind eye as Isreal Pakistan and India all happily acquired nuclear weapons, just as much in contravention of the NPR treaty as anyone else. For that matter the UK and the US have all happily broken the treaty in the past. It's all well and good to say "well we're the good guys", if you want someone to respect an international treaty you have to actually apply it always, not when it will help you. So I'm afriad in an argument on legality we don't reaaally have a leg to stand on. After all, we've all seen what happens when a nation can't hurt us at all, and are considered an enemy- they get regime changed. With many neocons gunning for Iran, no wonder they took this step.
Again, not happy with them getting these nukes, but ultimately if they do, it will merely mean invasion is no longer viable- with their nuclear capacity (which, incidentally, won't be ready for 3-8 years even if they do go for it), they will be able to destroy a couple of cities. A horrific idea, certainly, but considering the retaliation would be the annihalation of Iran, I don't think it's going to happen. Ultimately we have failed utterly to disarm, and because we have nuclear weapons, I'm afraid that eventually our opponents might well get them too. It's unpleasent and it's scary, but, hey, we survived 50 years in "cold" conflict with a nation with enough of the things to kill everyone a few times over.
the language guy
It's occured to me that I have not linked the Language Guy
yet, so, here is a link. He writes some very interesting stuff, very much worth a look.
(I promise I will write a proper post someday faithful readers!)
So lessons are restarting tomorrow, and I am, as always, desperately eager to learn. It could all prove to be pointless if it turns out I've done badly on my exams, but thats the risk I take I suppose. I could have done a module that was 100% coursework this semester.... but I think not somehow. That might be a legitimate test of my mathematical skills- and we wouldn't want that!
I'm not a big fan of faith schools. I think in a society that is multicultural, it is imperative that we learn to at least get along with others, and we are going to find it difficult to do so if we have no idea what Islam is. I'm happy for parents to teach what they like, but I kind of feel that at school we should be taught about all religons- the knowledge I gained was cursory at best, but at least I have a passing knowledge of other religons, rather than treating them as some kind of evil thing. This is also why I oppose single sex schools. Schooling is about more than learning just academic knowledge. It's actually vital towards building social skills, learning how to interact with other human beings, in a controlled environment. If you go to a single sex school you are inevitably going to be a little weird towards the opposite one, because it is doubtful you have had a large amount of contact with them. So what if achievement is a little better in single sex schools? There is more to life than just economic success, something that is almost forgotten about in our very work orientated society- you can see in labour's dictacts that school is considered a tool for learning and that's it, and thats very blunt. There is far more to it than that. People meet friends who will stay with them for the rest of their lives- some even meet their lovers there. School is a vital piece of everyones life, and should be done right.
Don't worry, theres nothing rude. Well, other than dildos. But anyway....
"The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill". I know it's not healthy to read too much into sayings, but I can't help it. My main problem with this expression is that the grasses' greenness appears to be a judge of quality. So in other words, the greener the grass gets, the better it gets. Other than the difficulty to judge this objectively (what's greener, a leef or some grass?), it also beggars the question, why? Who is it that wants greeer grass? Thicker grass? Perhaps? More spring grass? Certainly? But greener? Who exactly has this as a requirement for their grass? It strikes me as odd, and as it is a saying used o frequently, I think there should be some kind of organisation- some sort of quality control to prevent inferior sayings from being used (I originally wrote inferior grass there, which would be a completely different discussion).
Another thing that gets me is signs telling me to keep off the grass. Huh? What exactly did you put the grass there for? If you wanted something nice, why didn't you grow flowers or something? Grass is not made for looking at. Actually, it's not made for anything, but if I was going to assign a grand purpose to grass, it would be to be walked on and eaten (by cattle. And sometimes small children). Thats surely what we should use grass for. Stupid signs.
Blood and treasure
has said what I was about to say, but I'm going to reiterate. I hate it when people do things like this
. See, I am all for free speech, and I really do think we cannot ban things like this without going down a slippery slope towards banning anything someone might find offensive. But seriously.
A bomb. In his turban. Riiiiight. That is pathetic. The distinct problem being a complete lack of, you know, humour, in it (not that that seems to stop many newspaper cartoonists. Seriously, where do they find these guys?). It's a silly thing to get angry about, but it's a stupid thing to defend. It's crass, unfunny, and deliberately offensive. Yes, they are free to do it, but that doesn't mean they should
Honestly, it's a pretty embarrasing affair. THIS is what gets angry muslims on the streets, and not the continuing oppresion of the palestinians or the state in Iraq. THIS is the free speech we defend, and not that being opressed in China, or even here in the UK, or in the US. Can we have a fight about something thats less... silly?
Very hard puzzles....
make your way through the 138 or so and I shall be impressed. Am currently stuck on level 8...