Knowledge Of Others

When I was learning about Gandhi it was a critique of his method to say that he knew the British. If he had been seeking freedom from the Nazi mentality thousands would have died in like fashion to the massacre at Amritsar. Gandhi it was said, knew his enemy and in this knowledge lay the foundation of his political activism and his entire success. There is some truth to this give his special and unique philosophy of non-violence.

There is an art to ‘knowing’, that comes from a mixture of analysis and perception. Napoleon knew his enemies and almost establish a European Union single handedly a hundred and fifty years before it was and would have ensured Bismark and Hitler never existed if he had succeeded. Ironic in a way that the Prussians were his downfall and even more ironic that the British empire reached its height after his defeat and was lost fighting the descendants of those very same Prussians. That is the difference between opportunist politics and Gandhi’s well structured ethical approach.

They say to be successful you have to believe in something. But actually that’s the gloss, what you have to have is the conviction of your purpose and the ethical foundation to that purpose that makes people believe in you as a person.

Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

The Seriousness of Comedy

They say that to play the piano badly but nonetheless take the audience and tune with you, you actually need to be a very good pianist. Likewise in a  world where there is little true comedy it takes someone who knows about the seriousness of life to pull out the nuggets of laughter and show people how to laugh at the tragic. Whether it is the Greeks poking fun at the way men have all the power, Oscar Wilde lurking behind the hypocrisy of the tight-minded English society,  ‘The Owl’ walking the street of the French Revolution and ranting against the irony of it all or the brilliant Li Po always half drunk so the secret police don’t arrest him ( can there be a better example of a life-long performance).

You don’t do comedy lightly as Spike Millighan proved with his black depression ( a common ailment amongst comic writers). The precision of their wit is a commentary on the foibles and stupidities of people taking themselves seriously. In a strange way it is seriousness that is the ultimate joke for if it were not how could anyone ever make fun of it? For comedy is comment, ideas the mind uses to play with reality. Seriousness and comedy are two sides of the same coin.

As Walpole once said in paraphrase, ‘The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those feel.’

History Bites

Galileo warned the catholic church that if they insisted that the sun went around the Earth and evidence irrefutably proved the Earth went around the sun it was the catholic church that would end up looking stupid. No matter the power they had to limit the dissemination of his proofs and over his own life, he was assured that reason was a gift given throughout the human race and no one organisation nor one ruler can stop reason indefinitely.

I was once talking to a liberal who said the UK should not have fought Hitler, that Hitler would have gone the way of all things and Nazism would have mutated and vanished along with every other political ideal over the course of history and war would have been averted. I fervently disagree with him but the span of history shows that what we think important today, is not in a hundred years. Our antagonisms look backward and strange to future generations.

And yet those same antagonisms come back again and again only with different names, in different guises.  No Canute did not stop the sea coming in, and the Inquisition failed to stem the flood of reason but reactionary forces always come to the fore,  because reason gives evidence and evidence requires change and human beings are given to the status quo.

But like the liberal I once knew, the status quo can make cowards of us all.

The Old Man Of The Sea

The old man of the sea is an ancient Eastern story that has many versions but the simplest of all goes something like this. There is a young sailor walking the cliff paths who happens upon an old beggar sitting by the path, wizened and small, who asks the sailor if he would give him a helping hand to the next village. The sailor readily agrees and hoists the main onto his shoulders. But the old man of the sea never lets go and immediately he starts kicking the sailor and holds on so tight he could barely breathe and he had to go wherever the old man told him to go like a donkey responding to his kicks.

 This goes on for months until one day the sailor slips and falls and the old man hits his head and is slightly dazed. Feeling the death grip lessen the sailor makes off to enjoy his freedom.

You may take many ideas from this amongst which might be: good deeds can cause us grief, you can get out of almost any situation depending upon how cruel you want to be, and people do not like being treated the same way they treat animals.


It is little wonder the population think they have limited power when they work for forty years towards one goal only to have the money they set aside and the goal move due to circumstance and government. One wonders what the governments were doing with all the money their populations were earning for decades that they managed to destroy so many people’s retirements so absolutely.

In the past people used to think leaders took wealth for themselves and it was the aim or being a leader to end up rich. When I was at university I was appalled at how so many of the brightest minds in the country only wanted to be merchant bankers; as if we are trained to think accruing wealth is the ultimate aim of all human beings. Even when we know this is not true and we go to study more about the universe where our future homes will be found we still glue the work to a salary.

And to create that salary we need to always grow as a population into the resources of the Earth for economics cannot be static. Economics only works as long as the economy grows. They said once you do not fight the new war by the rules of the last war, and we have to learn that the economics that has past was a place of rich resources and growing populations. We have murdered each other in our millions to assure new countries and renewed wealth.

The new economics will be a stagnant, difficult and eventually broken system.

One Step Forward We All Fall Down

I have been following (it seems for most of my life) the paroxysms of the Conservative Party over Europe. Stemming as they do from men and women who live in history, the ineluctable arguments to leave the European Union bubble up through the ranks on a regular basis, spewing out on the floor of the House of Commons, wrong footing party leaders.

In the main there are those who see Europe as a bind, as an ancient enemy and would much rather ally themselves to America. The European union is mainland Europe’s answer to war and as the British like to remind everyone, but for the UK Europe would be Nazi today. The idea that the UK also has to pay good money to Belgium and be told what to do by men and women who were elected by Italians, French and Germans, rankles like a vomitory medicine. There are of course, millions of Commonwealth citizens who feel the same way about the UK.

I was a great fan of the Star Trek ideas of human beings having no countries and no need of personal wealth apart from intellectual, but we are a long, long way from any such ideas in the Conservative Party. It is a party of privilege and most importantly for them, of personal property. The UK is personal property and they don’t want anyone else ruling over it even with interesting and worthwhile laws.

The idea of one world is anathema to them unless it is ruled by a business in which they own shares.

Nothing Is Free

I mean this is the Physics of things that everything takes energy. I have dealt elsewhere on my thoughts about money and the nonsense of the financial system in human affairs.

But I am fascinated by physical systems and how one thing feeds off another, a law that has worked its way into the realms of life as all life feeds off other life. It seems so central to our universe that we almost ignore it and take for granted the way in which reason can ameliorate an otherwise impersonal law like this. Preferring as we do to not think about it as it would take too much energy and bring about huge compromises in our own selfish behaviour to act in such a way as to limit what life dies so that we might continue to live.

As far as Physics is concerned though the earth is going to die and bits of our solar system one day may collide with others and set off a chain reaction that will develop a new sun. Without us dying that new sun may never be created. The idea of dying is different for living beings than it is for matter as a whole, or so it seems. But we have no idea if atoms can feel pain. Or even if that observation has any validity outside of sentient life. All we know is that atoms make up everything.

For all we know the universe is screaming in agony.

Digital Marketing

The greatest challenge in today’s digital publishing world is pretty much the same challenge that faced publishers since printing was invented in China; how do you tell people your book is available?

The art of marketing is simply the art of getting a message out to as many people as you are able, the art of advertising is to make that message alluring and ineluctable. Marketing on the Internet at its most basic is using twitter and other outlets to blitz people with a message or newsletter about what is available. This is more-often-than-not seen as spamming even if you only do it once as it is very much in your face. The whole power of the Internet is one where the user – the computer surfer – is in control and marketing is not a matter of immediate returns but of building up a reputation so that people come looking for you.

It is as important to build that reputation in the real world as well as have an on-line presence but the importance of the on-line presence is to appear high up in searches when people come looking for you. The easiest way to do that is to have a unique name.

The main piece of marketing in the future will be the use of copywrights on personal names.

Melody and Movement

I was wondering about the life of pirates in the classical pirate period (there have always been pirates and there are still many today) when they all hanged out in Jamaica.

The typical screen rendition is of either a wronged man seeking revenge or a lovable rogue who kills the really rotten pirate. The derivation of this probably are the privateers who stole from the Spaniards who have always had a bad reputation for their cruelty. The privateers all worked under the unofficial command of the British monarch.

However it doesn’t take much to realise the life of real pirates must have been harsh, vile, cruel and vulgar. That it was honour amongst thieves only up to a point. Disease must have been rife and many people who became pirates were probably once slaves or disaffected from their own families or even captured and turned to become pirates with the lure of some wealth. The idea that they shared their wealth is also probably ridiculous as the least democratic people on the face of the earth are robbers. A fair share would not be likely to be given and the death rates were probably high as boarding ships was dangerous even before the other ship’s crew got busy.

I wonder if they will ever make a film about the true life of a pirate.

Overlooking Insects

Without insects all life on Earth would cease to function within weeks, if not sooner. Quite apart from the fact they are an integral part of the food chain and the smaller animals that live on them are predated by others right the way up the line, they perform numerous pollinations vital to the ability of plants to survive, and the plant eaters are the mainstay of human dining.

Yet insects are everywhere overlooked because of their abundance and never taken into account when we build or do anything on the land. Humanity notices animals and notices extinctions in animals they notice but out-of-sight is truly out-of-mind when it comes to insects. Many years ago the krill beneath the Arctic Ocean seemed to be in decline due to pollution. They are at the bottom of a food chain that encompasses all sea life. If they dropped in number or died out, life in the Oceans would cease.

It is considered probably that once life in the oceans died out land life would soon follow because of the differences made in weather conditions from the differences in the exchange of gases at the water’s surface.

I have never seen a krill but my life depends upon theirs. Insects should not be overlooked simply because we are functionally blind.

The Cherished Argument

I was watching some you tube videos on the reasons some people give to disbelieve there is a god. Having studied proofs for gods existence at university and, at that time, agreeing with Kant that such proofs are either easy to refute or so abstruse as to be virtually incomprehensible to reason, I have always had an interest in the arguments people have to believe or not.

Yet what strikes me is the way in which thinkers have one reason above all others and how they seem to be always different. Stephen Fry mentioned that people see beauty and say there must be a god completely ignoring anything in nature that is wretched or ugly. Ricky Gervais said he was very young and accepted what his mother said until his brother questioned the reason for believing in god and he picked up his mother’s discomfort and knew she was hiding something from him.

For myself I have always found much to critique in each religion but that is because I have made a study of many philosophies. But even I have one overriding argument because I have always looked with interested into the need people have to believe and see all religions as founts of human ignorance used to explain and control – most atheists do.

We all need reasons. That is both the strength of humanity and its weakness because reasons are often hidden or simply unknown or mis-assigned.

Shanne Sands

Sheila Fell
(On hearing of the death Of Cumbrian painter – Sheila Fell)

I remember you, Sheila Fell,
I remember your small Belsize Park
Bedsit; stinking of oils –
Your cats dinner stinking too –
And your black cat as thin as you!

I remember your lover Irish Clifford –
And all of us standing in no.38
Glenlock Road’s hall, talking –

I remember lying next to Alan,
As we in silence listened to music
On the ‘third’, we artists of youth.

I remember how you couldn’t kill
A moth, even if it ate thro’ the
Few clothes you had –
And how you wanted my ‘gift’
And I ‘yours
Used to be poet and I to paint –

Now you are dead; could we
Exchange that gift too – I would
Enter into your enchantment
And you take my poverty –
The stranger to you –

I remember your gazelle –
Brown-eyes and tonight
At your demise
My hazel-eyes
Sheila Fell is dead –
And I, who still survive,
Hear somewhere in my head
The ghost-voices of thirty years ago –
Calling, clear and sweet
As poet to painter
Gives a tear.


The sea is one of the most beautiful and yet dangerous places on the face of the earth for human beings. Oceans of fascination which have been instrumental in human civilisation by both denying people the ability to cross them and then allowing them too. Like so much on Earth this duality appears to be fundamental to how we experience life.

Astronomers and cosmologists are attempting to understanding the universe in terms that bring everything down to a single theory and it may be that this is what mathematics leads us to look for, but is not actually what the universe is like. Mathematics is a brilliant tool but it is still just a  tool that opens up understanding and we should use our understanding in more expressive and wide-ranging ways. Getting the universe we see to work inside our mathematical formulae without allowing those formulae to evolve to include two answers might be distracting.

I say this because observations are opening up a series of unknowns in dark matter,dark energy, dark flow which do not seem to fit easily with what we know about how the Big Bang, being an explosion, should have produced.

Maybe there is more than one kind of explosion. Maybe at those temperatures and those masses, explosion isn’t even a viable term. Maybe imagination and mathematics have to work together as two sides of the same equation to resolve the problem.

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