EvilTony's been pondering stuff again!

Archive for May, 2011

Chimps do not build!

This is my fortress:-
See the strong tall walls I built to keep my enemies out;
See the arrow-slits and cannon-ports through which I could attack my enemy;
See the sturdy gates through which I could admit my friends;
All this I built lovingly over many years to keep me safe.
This is my fortress!

This is my prison:-
I built the walls so high I cannot scale them;
I placed the arrow-slits and cannon-ports so high up that no-one can see in;
I locked the gates so long ago that I have lost any keys I ever had.

This is my prison!

I have sentenced myself to life-imprisonment for crimes against myself.
I am desperately seeking parole.

I must be fecking mad.

Let us not disgrace ourselves

Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith is about to visit us.

She is thoroughly welcome.

But, let there be neither violent protest nor undue deference.

As citizens of a republic we:
a) bow the knee to no-one (remember that when kissing a bishop’s ring next crosses your mind!)
b) welcome anyone, be they head of state or just plain citizen, from a peaceful and friendly nation.
c) expect similar courtesy to be extended to us, be we head of state or just plain citizen, when abroad – we have no grudges agin anyone.

This island holds about 6 million people – over 1 million of them are, of their own volition, her subjects. Let us remember and respect that fact.
The lot of those of us who are unwillingly her subjects has improved vastly in recent years – and further progress is being made daily.

She, and successive governments of hers, are aware of this and endorse the changes. Let us remember that also.

Despite what a handful of repeatedly-proven-to-be-democratically-unpopular-at-election-times diehard isolationists wish to believe, the history, culture, economies and futures of our two countries are inextricably linked more closely then any other two countries anywhere in the world.

Céad mile fáilte dhuit, and when you get home tell them what a lovely time you had here and recommend they come and visit. In so many more ways than one, we speak the same language.
(Although we speak the better English!)



Justice and vengeance

Some of the reactions to the killing of Osama Bin Laden have been thought-provoking, to say the least.

“Justice has been done” is probably one of the mildest. But – raised in a western democracy – one must ask if “Justice” – as we would like it to be applied to ourself in all circumstances – has been done?

While finding it understandable that he was killed, and having some, but not too many quibbles with that, having been brought up to believe that justice is dispensed in impartial courts by independent juries and judges I find it extremely hard to accept that “justice” was done. Certainly not “Justice” with a capital “j”.
This is not to say that there was prior intention to deny him justice, (or to put it better, to deny him to Justice) – it would appear that he was quite prepared to prevent his being brought to justice.

Those who died at the hands of Bin Laden’s puppets have been avenged – certainly. But vengeance is not always justice – even if many seem to believe it is. One often sees in it the aftermath of murder trials, where the bereaved claim that sending the guilty to jail is not justice, how can it be justice when their beloved is dead and the murderer is still alive. This is the old “an eye for an eye” concept of justice among a tribal people struggling with their very existence.

While not a Christian, one cannot fail but to agree with the sentiments in Mark chapter 5

  • Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
  • And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

Those who believe in Jesus might do well to consider that he delivered himself to what would nowadays be termed “due process” – even if the process was faulty, he submitted to the civil power and it’s judicial process.

I am, more and more, convinced that we created gods to give us explanations for the dark areas of our lives of which we had – at the time – no understanding. The God of thunder, the God of War, the God of Spring; they all controlled their domains wherein they interacted with us.

One of the chief functions of a God was to mete out their personal justice. And humans, in the face of the God’s incomprehensible concept of justice, created myths to rationalise the process. If the crops failed it was because the people had erred somehow. If the rains failed they could be summoned by appeasing the God.

One of the major problems with this approach to creating one’s own gods is that known villains escaped their justice. It was seen that A murdered B and yet his life was not blighted, in fact often it blossomed. And so we created the vengeful afterlife day of judgement. That way we could reassure ourselves that A would – sooner or later – pay for the crime.

But, more and more, we seem to be turning away from seeing that as a ‘satisfaction’ of the offence. Many self-professed Christians seem to want a return to visible vengeance – the guilty must be seen to pay, and to pay in measure equal to the offence. The courts are seen as futile. Locking A up for the rest of his natural life is not enough anymore.

The reason that the courts are futile is a whole either day’s pondering.

Upon Infinity

Infinity is the hugely misunderstood child of humanity’s struggle with the big questions of why we are here, what was ‘here’ before us, and – most importantly for many – what happens to ‘me’ when ‘here’ is finished with me.

We find it humbling and challenging when we come across the imponderable periods of time which the universe, or even the relatively-young Earth, presents to us. Are we really so insignificant in the face of the vastness of both space and time.

Consider this
That which is infinite must be indivisible. We ‘reach’ 2 by adding 1 to 1. At 2 we ‘reach’ 3 by adding 1 to the 2 we already reached. Infinity is that number which when we add 1 to it, remains unchanged. Otherwise there would have to be a number somewhere along the addition process which, as 3 is ‘labelled’ half of 6, could be labelled “half of infinity”. So, infinity can have no “half” – and conversely can have no “double”.
But consider this – there is an ‘opposite’ infinity. Not a negative number… negativity depends on where you start counting from. When I was born, my dad was 41 and I was 0 – we started counting from different places. His birth was -41 years to me.
No, this ‘opposite’ infinity is the infinitesimally small.

Think of a number and make it a fraction of 1. 2 becomes 1/2 and 10 becomes 1/10 and so on. Now, take the large infinity and put it into the fraction and you will see that we can never reach 0, no matter how close we think might get to it, there is always a fraction which is not-quite-0.

Time
While many people have trouble with the concept of numerical infinity, they often find the infinity of time easy to consider. They can appreciate that the universe “started” at some point which is considered to be the beginning of time. Correct – up to a point. The concept of the universe – “our” universe – having had a start is easy enough, but they also find it easy to consider that it might very well have no end. That it would – literally – endure for infinity.

The other night on television I came across the best description of the current thinking on the origin of the universe. It was in the Through the Wormhole programme hosted and narrated by Morgan Freeman. It dealt with the dilemma facing the String Theory concept – which posits that there are not 3 dimensions of space and 1 of time, but 10 dimensions of space and 1 of time. This theory comes from the current interpretation of the math involved in particle physics and the most-c0mmonly-accepted theories of the relationships between the ‘known’ laws governing the large and small things in the universe.
The newest theory is known as Brane Theory and it suggests – which some good cause (mathematically speaking) that the “Big Bang” start to our was just that – the start to “our” universe, but that it was caused by the contact of two different universes – ‘membranes’ if you will, which release the unimaginable force – and forces – which created the particles which created the atoms which we ‘see’ as the things in the universe. This theory would suggest that ‘our’ universe is only one of a possibly-unending series of universes to which ‘our’ membrane has been host, and will continue to host.

No matter how ‘we’ measure/divide the time in our universe it is but a tiny fraction of the overall ‘eternity’ which we may never be able to comprehend.

So, if the physical universe can make us feel small, how then do we react to the concept that our universe is tiny.

Is it any wonder that humanity created God in its image? Leave aside all the ‘morality’ aspects of religion, it would appear that being here to no purpose is something which people are not comfortable with pondering. It’s so much nicer to be “special”.

But “nicer” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.