Archive for August, 2007

Commenting on posts

August 31st, 2007

Traffic to this blog has increased significantly over the past couple of months, although comments have not. Up to now, out of fear of spam, I have restricted comments to those who are registered.

However, as an experiment, I have lifted that restriction and anyone can comment now, whether they are registered or not.

Dear God…

August 31st, 2007

I am reliably informed that holy water doesn’t actually burn the skin of sinners. Good to know.

Seeing as it can’t handle disease either, what’s it for?

Perception and Prejudice

August 31st, 2007

It amazes me how even educated, rational people can be governed by their perceptions and prejudices.

I have an Irish accent. Granted I don’t sound like Colin Farrell or Liam Neeson (if you have ever heard their native accents), but that’s because there are lots of regional accents in Ireland. In Dublin, you only have to travel a few miles to hear a different accent.

So I have this colleague. He is a lovely fellow and both intelligent and educated. We get along very well and I respect his work. Yesterday he said asked me: “How come you don’t have an Irish accent?”

I was a bit perplexed. I replied that I do have an Irish accent. Then came the bit that surprised me. He insisted that I don’t.

I tried to point out that in trying to identify my accent as “Irish”, all he could do was compare it to his preconception of an Irish accent, which is probably based on whatever Irish accents (real and fake) he has heard on TV and in the cinema.

My colleague is from Africa, so I am one of the few Irish people he has actually met. Instead of adding my accent to his “database” of Irish accents, he insisted that I didn’t have an Irish accent.

I repeated that he simply hasn’t heard my Irish accent before.

He continues to insist. I continue to be amazed at how the human mind can choose to stick to its preconceptions in the face of contrary empirical evidence.

No insult intended!

August 30th, 2007

Famed Insultant Rowan Manahan has contacted me to point out that he is not, in fact, a “self-proclaimed” Insultant.

By the way – I’m not “self-proclaimed.” That title was awarded me by a presentation skills client many moons ago. And I quote: “I can’t believe I’m paying you so much to sit there and abuse me. Hey! You’re an Insultant!”

I trust he prefers the epithet “famed”.

Holy water banned on Lourdes flights

August 30th, 2007

It seems pilgrims have been banned from taking bottles of holy water onto flights departing Lourdes.

You’d think the attitude would be “The more holy water on a flight the better”.

Still there is a foolproof way airport authorities can check whether that plastic virgin really is full of holy water. Simply keep criminals shackled next to the security desks and when a passenger produces a bottle of water, sprinkle some of it on the criminals and watch it burn their evil skin.

Dear God…

August 29th, 2007

What’s the story with pork?

Thank you, America

August 29th, 2007

I was on the Tube in London recently and I saw a poster for some kind of event. The poster featured a quote. I don’t remember the precise wording but it was talking about England’s contribution to world culture and finished with the line “You know, something more than a hot dog.”

My assumption was that this was a dig at the USA, which is regarded by some as an uncultured country.

Now I’m not a fan of the USA’s military actions over the past few decades but it’s all too easy to bash the USA and its citizens. It’s all too common to describe them as fat and stupid. Well, OK, they’re fat. But I’ve never met an American I considered any more stupid than some of the Europeans I’ve met.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to list some of the people who are representative of the USA’s contributions to world culture, for which I think we should be grateful. Note that I don’t like all of these myself, but I recognise their importance.

  • Miles Davis
  • Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Al Pacino
  • Kareem Abdul Jabbar
  • Mark Twain
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Helen Keller
  • Elvis Presley

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Musing #19

August 29th, 2007

Did William of Occam ever cut himself shaving?

Moving Musings

August 29th, 2007

I used to have a page on the ballog titled “Musings” as a place to collect random thoughts that pop into my head. I have decided to move these thoughts into a category called, strangely enough, “Musings” and post each one separately. If you want to see them all together, just click on the appropriate category on the right.

Schrödinger’s Bloke

August 27th, 2007

So there I was on the Gatwick Express (why is it called the Gatwick Express when its on its way to Victoria?), looking out the window as the south of England whipped past. José Gonzalez’s acoustic cover of “Heartbeats” started playing on my iPod and it seemed a perfect soundtrack to looking out the the window of a train on a sunny afternoon. So of course, I started thinking about quantum mechanics, the way you do.

As we passed through Purley Oaks station, I saw a young bloke sitting there, presumably waiting for a train. I wondered whether until that instant he had also been in East Croyden Station, but my observing him made him appear only in Purley Oaks. What if someone had observed him in East Croyden at the same instant I observed him in Purley Oaks? Would he have been ripped in half? Would he have been instantly cloned so as to allow the dual observation?

My brain hurts.

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