Bring Out Your Dead & Your Cheque Book

8 Jun

Proprium Corpus [Latin – Own the Body]

For legal purposes a dead body doesn’t belong to anyone & why should it. After all in life the right to self determination and autonomy are enshrined in multiple articles of international Human Rights Law and only under very rare circumstances can you be forced to do something against your will. So why does the ownership of a dead body matter? When your loved ones get the bill from the funeral directors & they want £5,000, (minus the headstone; another £1,000 at least) – that’s when……

So, why do we spend unbelievable amounts of money disposing of the dead? Tradition; predominantly as result of anachronous Christian doctrine, which the majority of intelligent people accept is nonsense but blindly follow anyway. A dead body is dead body; the transient shell of a conscious, thinking person. I’m not suggesting that the loss of a loved one should not be honoured & their life celebrated, but there is nothing to stop that happening without having to adhere to the usual inordinately expensive cost of a ‘traditional’ funeral. So, whose responsibility is it to pay the bill?

Usually, the family take care of the arrangements but they are under no obligation to do so. Lack of knowledge is what can make you unwittingly liable. Firstly, acting as the executor makes you automatically liable. Many people take on this role unknowingly. For example: your relative or friend dies. Liability is the last thing on your mind when you are in shock, devastated at your loss & in the surreal bubble that is the precursor to mourning. Even if there is a will naming you as the executor you are under no obligation to accept. But if you unwittingly handle any part of the process, such as registering the death, you become responsible. It is your right to simply say it has nothing to do with you and responsibility becomes a matter of public health. Responsibility becomes the duty of the state. They then make and pay for the arrangements; sometimes referred to as ‘a pauper’s funeral’. Although the term is an antiquated leftover from the 19th century, it does tend to put emotional pressure on people who are already in a delicate disposition……

Secondly, if you arrange the funeral you have entered into a legally binding contract with the funeral director, who can later sue for breach of contract if it turns out that the deceased assets do not cover the cost of the funeral. Not something that is made clear as you are whisked off into the room with the comfortable sofas and they begin the emotional manipulation by talking about your loved ones whilst writing down a long wish list, none of which is priced as you go. Only when you’ve made your choices does the calculator appear and, let’s face it, nobody’s going to start asking where they can skim off a few quid.

So, there you go. When I snuff it don’t have anything to do with me. Oh, and don’t do the sycophantic “What a fantastic bloke he was” bullshit. Tell it like it really was. In fact, don’t tell it at all……

Remember, just say NO…….

Apples, Gravity and Tall Tales……

30 Mar

 

‘Nothing imprints a story on the public’s imagination like a good anecdote. Not all are mythological or embellished. However, some accounts of purported events are clearly exaggerated and don’t add up……’

A recent item on the local BBC news covered a story of cuttings from the Apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor, the ancestral home of Sir Isaac Newton, being taken to keep alive the source from which the apocryphal falling Apple inspired the Natural Philosopher to formulate his theories of gravitational attraction. But several things about this legendary story don’t add up.

imageThe story of the the Apple falling on Sir Isaac Newton’s head first appeared in the “Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life”, written by William Stukeley and published in 1687. As a young man, Newton returned to Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire to avoid the Plague. Newton was born on 25 December 1642. The Plague affected England in 1665/1666 when Newton was 23 years old, which leads to the conclusion that story was at least 22 years old upon publication. Newton makes no mention of falling Apples in “The Principia Mathematica”, which has led many scholars to believe it never actually happened and may have been used by Newton, first as a metaphor in lectures, and latter as an embellished anecdote at dinner parties.

Whether you choose to believe the story or not, there is still a problem with the BBC imagenews story. The preservation of the tree which sits in a small garden at Woolsthorpe is very unlikely to be the same allegorical tree because Apple trees usually only have a life span of 80 to 120 years. The oldest recorded Apple tree is 204 years old; still not old enough to be the tree under which Newton supposedly had his epiphany that led to his theory of gravitational attraction in 1665/1666.

I don’t question the validity and genius of Newton’s work, given what was known about physics at the time. Nor do I have a problem with the story of the falling Apple being used to educate children in schools today. But to make them believe that they may have a sibling of the original tree in the school gardens is on a par with the suspect King James Bible, venerated in every RE department and purporting to be “the gospels” of Jessie Chreezies disciples, which anyone with an IQ of above 80 should know to be nonsense, had they not been lied too since childhood by bigoted self-serving zealots with their own disreputable agenda……

Perhaps they could plant them next to the tree of “forbidden fruit” from the garden of Eden next to Jack’s Beanstalk……?

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What is Reality……

8 Mar

The answer to the question “What is reality?” is actually quite simple and can be put into one short sentence: it’s whatever you perceive as real. However, the simplicity immediately becomes complicated by the word ‘perceive’. Perception is subjective but there are many things we all perceive in a very similar way, but those things, such as the sky being blue are largely down to a common evolution. In the case of the sky, we agree on the colour because the receptors in our eyes are fundamentally the same in everyone (unless you are colour blind, which is a genetic defect of the eye). There is, however, a further complication to reality which is much, much deeper……

It is well known that an atom is predominantly empty space. It could be argued that it contains nothing ‘solid’ at all as we probe ever deeper. If everything we perceive as solid contains nothing at all, then how can anything exist to make our reality? This is the point at which we have to disassociate everything we think of as real and remind ourselves that perception is nothing more than an interpretation created by the sensory input to our brains. It becomes difficult to discuss, because all we have is language and mathematics to describe things, and both are coloured by our perception of reality……

Physicists ran into difficulties in the early 20th century. Called ‘The measurement problem’, the act of making a measurement actually affects the outcome. This is easily demonstrated visually with the famous double slit experiment, is still as yet unexplained and is one of the central mysteries of quantum mechanics. Follow this link to see a demonstration and the paradox will become clear. A well known thought experiment by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935 applies the double slit experiment to the macro scale with a cat in a box. Follow this link to learn about Schrödinger’s Cat and the paradoxical nature of the measurement problem becomes abundantly clear……

As we have developed the technology to ‘see’ things on smaller and smaller scales using particle accelerators, it appears that our ‘solid’ particles vanish altogether and all we are left with are forces and ‘virtual’ particles. The illusion of reality is a consequence of those forces being slowed down by the Higg’s mechanism; a sort of cosmic treacle that slows down the forces from the speed of light, giving them mass. Without it everything in the universe would move at the speed of light and nothing would exist at all……

So, what is reality? In our daily lives it is what we see, no matter how strange it is. But we have to accept that it is an illusion and, personally, I don’t believe we will ever really know. It’s a Rabbit hole which just get stranger the further down you go……

The reality right now is that I need a coffee, a smoke and more time to scratch my head……

Infinity

Great Fucking Britain……

27 Jan

Cold, grey, miserable shit hole. One week of sunshine but not in succession.
Oppressive routines, zero hour, three month contracts that don’t even pay the bills.
Employers that want more from their Sheep for less and less. No taxes for those cunts though.
Scraping a living like a Seagull on a rubbish dump. Begging bowl in hand when management consultants have taken your job. Treated like Oliver Twist, “Please Sir, can I have some more?”
No car? No life. The next bus should be along in an hour; maybe two, just as long as it hasn’t gone half past six.
Need a doctor? Try again tomorrow if you’re not dead.
Kids glued permanently to their iPhone, common sense absent from their minds.
Press one to be put on hold whilst we charge you and connect you to the first available moron that can’t help due to a complete apathy, no box to tick and no incentive to tick it anyway.
Taxed to fuck at every opportunity unless you happen to be in the ‘club’.
Need somewhere to live? No problem if you like damp, cold flats on estates filled with the dispossessed.
Insecurity, depression, despair. We’ve got it all in Great fucking Britain.
And for what? There is no after, just like there was no before.
You can kid yourself there’s a God, pay lip service with prayers at the funerals that become more and more frequent as you slowly wither away till you’re institutionalised and they take away what little you may have saved over a lifetime.
Truth is, you’re just an over developed evolutionary bacteria whose only purpose is to replicate DNA. Not even an option for me.
I don’t deny we live on a beautiful planet but one which I’ll never get to see from the metaphorical prison in which I’m serving ‘life’.
So, Great fucking Britain, what’s the point……

I Don’t Like Nothing……

31 Oct Infinity

‘And no, my command of the English language hasn’t gone adolescently double negative. The ‘nothing’ I am referring to is the one from which our universe appeared approximately 14 billion years ago, according to the Standard Model of Cosmology. Therefore, this has to be an exercise in philosophical thinking because science has yet to find a satisfactory answer……’

(For clarification: the absence of proof cannot be used as justification for divine intervention. This is the usual fall-back defensive position of ‘believers’ of varying dispositions and/or mental health issues……)

Physicists’ measure the interactions between forces; gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces being the main four at larger scales. They have yet to answer the key question ‘How do you get a universe from nothing?’ Although there are several multiverse theories which could account for the possibility of an event starting the Big Bang, I cannot accept that there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing; it seems completely contradictory.

‘Nothing’ is a concept that philosophers have toiled with for thousands of years. Even when it was demonstrated by inverting a sealed tube of a liquid (Mercury) to create a void, they still thought everywhere contained something, and not without reason, because even light passes through a vacuum; they later called that medium ‘the ether’.  We now know that the ether does not exist but even in the perfect vacuum of empty space quantum mechanical processes take place, so nowhere in the observable universe contains absolutely nothing. This leads me to conclude that there was never ‘nothing’, therefore, the universe has always existed in some form.

If the universe has always existed in whatever form it leads to something else which has its own contradiction and paradox; infinity.  To accept the proposition that the universe has always existed you must also accept that the universe is infinite in some way……

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The Power of Imagination……

15 Oct

‘This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity; proven decisively in 1919 when observations made during an eclipse showed the apparent positions of stars were affected by the Sun’s mass. The implications of Einstein’s work cannot be underestimated as it replaced 200 years of accepted wisdom and changed the way we think about the universe……’
Einstein is one of my heroes. One amongst many who left their mark on modern physics but with one big imagedifference. Although he eventually produced the mathematical equations and experimental proof to back up his theories, it is the way in which he initially approached problems that interests me; using nothing more than the power of pure imagination. The General Theory of Relativity is not as hard to understand as you may think. I recommend that you read it. It does contain some complicated equations but Einstein’s reasoning is fairly easy to grasp. You don’t need a degree in physics or mathematics to understand it. Einstein’s well presented argument and use of analogies make it possible for anyone to follow……
imageThe General Theory of Relativity beautifully explained many things. Before Einstein time and space existed as separate entities, with time regarded as absolute. Time was thought to be literally universal. Having deduced that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (The Special Theory of Relativity), Einstein could see that events are dependent are the relative positions and momentum of observer and event. It also led to the realisation that Gravity was not a force of attraction between two masses but the effect of the curvature of space caused by them. Space and time were now intrinsically linked; what we now call spacetime. And all of these groundbreaking ideas were conceived through Einstein’s famous ‘thought experiments’……
Einstein was also misunderstood. He was a lifelong pacifist and although he was the most influential signatory to the imagemletter that led to the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb, he never intended it’s actual use on populations; rather as a demonstration of unbeatable force that would lead to unconditional surrender. He is also famously quoted as saying ‘God does not play dice’ which is frequently misinterpreted as his refusal to accept the paradoxical outcomes in Quantum Mechanics. Obviously, a man of Einstein’s intelligence new that the experimental results were unquestionable but his quote was an expression that there must be an underlying law of nature to explain it, not that it was wrong……
Surprisingly, Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1922 for his explanation of the photo-electric effect; how electromagnetic radiation such as photons and electrons could be treated as packets of energy (quanta) and not for his work on special relativity, general relativity or mass/energy equivalence, although his services to theoretical physics was noted……
Einstein continues to inspire professional and amateur physicists alike and many of the ideas driving progress begin with the power of pure imagination……
A full digital archive of Albert Einstein’s papers have been made available online for anybody to view by Princeton University……

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The Whole World’s a Stage……

1 Oct

‘Approximately six million years ago we and our furry cousins went our separate ways. In the interim period our prefrontal cortex continued to develop. Useful though it is for executive functions such as the ability to understand abstract concepts, project forward and problem solving, unfortunately, it comes with baggage; a lot of baggage……’image

Though a highly developed prefrontal cortex is useful it has one huge caveat. It controls emotions, and emotions are irrational. To ‘survive’ in the world we have to constantly moderate our behaviour in order to satisfy a ‘social contract’. Therefore, people lie. They lie to their family, they lie to their friends and they lie to themselves…….

The daily lies and banal platitudes that people exchange confine them within a social Pigeon hole but allow them the self-delusion that they are a unique individual, which in truth is as individual and unique as the mock-Tudor house they probably live in. As if solitary confinement within a society is not stifling enough, people habitually make decisions using their emotions; as emotions are empirically irrational any decision influenced by them must by definition be irrational. It is a strange twist of evolution that having the ability to act rationally makes people think and act irrationally……

Hypocrisy is alive and well too. Not only the hypocrisy between inner thoughts and outward presentation but also, as the gap between venerated belief systems and reality widens, people who claim to believe in gods and spiritual nonsense rarely follow even the basic rules of their chosen arbitrary system; deceiving themselves as part of an irrational ‘insurance’ policy. All belief systems are redundant in light of what science tells us. You speak to an imaginary friend every Sunday you’re religious. Your imaginary friend speaks to you and you’re Schizophrenic. – Do it all. Do none of it or, by definition, you are a hypocrite……

Everybody dies; deal with it. We have a finite, insignificant existence and yet we credit ourselves with ‘delusions of grandeur’ when it comes our own self-importance as individuals and as a species. Prior to being born, for the first 14 billion years of cosmic evolution you were unaware that you would be born, ‘existing’ as it were in darkness. It is to that darkness that you will return for infinity having by chance beaten the astronomical odds that the sperm and egg that gave rise to you was ever fertilised……

An extension of blind faith and one which requires no religion, just self-deception, is ‘fate’. Maybe it helps people feel like they exercise control over random events. They find comfort in what is a non-deterministic universe with no predefined outcome, yet gives a false impression of stability, ergo anything that goes in your favour is ‘fate’; things that don’t are ‘bad luck’. Another irrational and uniquely human thought process……

If you are prepared to take off the mask you must first accept that you are wearing one. You are an Ape with higher brain functions. It isn’t easy for people to accept that they are irrational, lying, hypocritical Monkeys engaged in a game of ‘keeping up appearances’. If you apply rationale and logic to life and loose the mask, it can leave your opponent in a social interaction shocked at your brutal honesty. The usual defence to being told the truth is to take offence and rather than accepting that you are wrong, accuse the challenger of threatening or aggressive behaviour. Admittedly, being confronted by someone who doesn’t apply social etiquette is unnerving. However, if you feel offended, tough; there’s no given human right to protected you from feeling offended, it’s just another irrational function of the prefrontal cortex……

Liberating yourself from the ‘game’ makes decision making much easier; rational decisions are either good or bad. Telling someone the dispassionate truth may violate their expectations but leaves no ambiguity or confusion about the point you are making. It does have the effect of making people think you’re rude or arrogant but if you are truly uninhibited you simply don’t care. If your point was reached using unemotional logic and reasoning and the Ape you are talking to fails to grasp why, the problem lies with them and their need to fit into the social order…….

I am not immune. I act irrationally and deceive myself but as I watch the world as an outsider I have started to free myself, make logical decisions and tell people precisely what I think. It’s a liberating experience. The question is: dare you do the same…..?

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