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Showing posts from April, 2010

The shape of the horizon

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"Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." Chief Seattle They've started tearing up the countryside near where I work. It's ostensibly to provide a new access road for Stanmer Park and the University of Sussex , but in the long run is preparing the area for the new Falmer football stadium and forthcoming Saturday invasions of the area by the associated hordes. No, I've no idea why all must give way to the Great God Soccer either, but that's apparently the way it has to be, despite the South Downs having recently been made a National Park . I don't know who was involved or when but am suspicious of what might have gone on behind the scenes for this expensive yet frivolous building project to have become a reality. But then again as an odd boy (who doesn't like sport) I would say that, wouldn't I? There's something very unsettling about the landscape being changed to

Malevore

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I have come in search of evil. This place looks the part. No-one notices me step from the crowd and mingle with the journalists and photographers outside the courthouse, their anticipation my aperitif for the feast to come. They're waiting for the appearance of a monster and so am I. We malevores have probably existed since the first time a human being picked up a weapon to use against his own kind. For millennia we gorged, harvesting the baleful mental produce that was abundant wherever mankind went about his business. On the battlefield, in the torture chamber and pouring from the mouths of priests and prophets like manna from hell. Things have changed in recent years. There's a famine on. It's not enough for us that people think bad thoughts - they have to express them and act on them. These days they're loath to do so for fear of what others might think. In these desperate times we have had to take up emotional husbandry. Given enough encouragement and a nudge

Schrödinger's Brain

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"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it" Niels Bohr So, smelling is quantum. No really. As mentioned in an earlier blog entry , it turns out that the underlying biological mechanism that allows us to smell relies on quantum tunnelling to get the job done. It seems to me that if one neurological mechanism - and quite an old one at that - uses the very structure of reality itself to function, then it's likely they all do. But what would the implications be if we discover that our very thoughts are subject to the new physics? As is so often the case I have to put in a disclaimer; I Am Not A Scientist . I am someone interested in science; someone who, upon reading about the latest bleeding edges of physics in the quest for ultimate truth, starts performing thought experiments based on his very dim understanding of what he's just read. So bear in mind that I may very well be talking rubbish. Don't slouch, Albert I am not shocked by qua

We Obey No One

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One of the problems with writing a blog that is read by anyone you know is the danger that they will take some of what is said personally and get offended. Even something as seemingly innocuous as the previous sentence. On the whole it's safe to say that I am never referring to anyone in particular when I write (unless I specifically mention someone) and do try to stick to the rule of "hating it when people do such and such" rather than "hating people who do such and such " - big difference. I can't pretend I always stick to it, but then I'm only human. Bearing that in mind, everything I write should be taken with a pinch of "present company excepted" . The reason I bring this up is that I'm going to talk about what can happen to people when they become car owners and start driving. Some of my friends, family and acquaintances do have cars. I'm not having a go at people who own cars or even at the institution of car ownership. I

Green Rage

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I would bet that if you conducted a survey of a hundred people and asked what the Western World's contemporary aspirations were, Being Green and Keeping Fit would be up there in the top five. Call me cynical, but I believe this is why we cyclists are hated with a passion by motorists and pedestrians alike. In combining both 21st Century aspirations in one quick and easy activity, we make non-cyclists feel bad about themselves and they have no choice but to vent their collective spleens. I have talked about cycling before, and once again freely admit that there are a number of cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name. You've probably seen them speeding the wrong way down the cyclepath before (somehow) leaping up onto the pavement and weaving in and out of bewildered shoppers before bouncing back into the traffic again and rocketing through a red light. All without a helmet or reflective gear of course, and usually talking on their mobiles whilst doing it. But we'r

Why won't the blighters land?

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The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilisations ought to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it. The Fermi Paradox Why haven't we come across any aliens yet? I'm talking about convincing scientific proof, not garbled " ...them thar moon-critturs been done abducted me ag'in ..." reports from the likes of Cletus Hickson in Bumfuck, Arkansas . It feels right that aliens should exist. Surely by now we should have come across some hard evidence? A belief in aliens is older than our knowledge of the wider universe. Even before we had any idea that there existed worlds other than our own we had a concept of non-human intelligent beings. These concepts were quite distinct from our ideas of other humans. Even if Thugg the Caveman had taken a gap year before going to The University of Central Ugland and had trekked across Europe and d

Dimensionally Transcendental Confession 10: In The Morgue

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So that was it for Doctor Who, I thought. A shame in many ways but probably for the best, I thought. I was wrong on both counts. 1991. The first sign of the Doctor's return occurred in the basement of Forbidden Planet (in its larger home in New Oxford Street). A confirmed geek, I'd been continuously visiting the store in its various locations since foundation. In those pre-internet days it was often the only way to get news about what was going on in my favourite fictional worlds without crossing the line into the scary territory of fanzines or hanging out at the Fitzroy Tavern , something which, for some reason, I was unwilling to do. That had obviously been my undoing. This rebirth as a series of books entitled The New Adventures of Doctor Who published by Virgin was apparently masterminded by a cabal of uberfans. Flicking through these new novels they seemed to be self-consciously more adult than the former TV series and its Target novelisations , with chapter titles