The other week I was confronted in a supermarket by another customer who appeared out of nowhere, boiling with anger and screaming at me to apologise to them. It turned out my trolley had accidentally touched theirs, some time earlier. It happens a lot in supermarkets, but to this customer it was a mortal insult, … More A disturbing lesson about human aggression
One of my frustrations when writing is that I’ll often come up with a way of illustrating a concept or idea, only to have somebody ‘correct’ me because some minor detail only they know of is an exception to the trend I’m describing, and therefore I am a worthless idiot who is ignorant of my … More The frustration of writing about concepts and ideas
The hurricanes of the past few weeks that have devastated the Carribean and parts of the United States have been record-setters. The human cost is huge, and our first thoughts must be to the victims and their families. Unfortunately it’s the likely shape of where things are going, worldwide. New Zealand’s been unusually warm and … More Why is the weather going mad? Humanity’s ongoing stupidity, that’s why
It’s two years this week since my Mum passed away. She was hugely interested in the why of the universe and usually asked me if she wanted something about it explained. It’s a while since I’ve done a science post, so I thought I’d run one this week. It’s about why our law of energy … More When energy isn’t conserved – a physics conundrum
There was, I suppose, a universal sigh of relief when New Year 2017 ticked over and the world left the Year from Hell. We do like our arbitrary calendar dates. Reality, of course, seldom conforms to calendar dates. After all, Lemmy Kilmister kicked off the 2016 celebrity die-off just after Christmas 2015. A friend of mine suggested … More Reality isn’t just defined by calendar dates. Unfortunately.
One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth
One of the flaws of twentieth century thinking was that a lot of it was geared towards systematising the human universe around us. Everything had to be reduced to mechanisms, often simplistic, often single-cause. This was certainly true academically, particularly in the humanities which were styling themselves as ‘scientific’ on the basis of that systematisation. … More The flaws of twentieth century thinking