Odds and Ends

23 September 2011

There was a stir in the news at this time when it was reported that particles in a controlled environment had apparently traveled faster than the speed of light. It was later thought that there was an error in measuring the speed.

KIRK: Warpspeed, if you please, Mr. Sulu.
MR. SULU: Ay ay sir.
MR. SCOTT: Cap'n, she's breaking up. She'll nae take any more.
KIRK: Scotty, what's happening? You said that without moving your lips.
MR SPOCK: That'll be because light speed can be outpaced by particles, Jim.
KIRK: I love it when you talk dirty, Spock. Now, get us out of here and to hell with Einstein.

15th September 2012
In early Spring of last year Mr. Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster from (where else) California predicted, with great confidence and a knowing air, that the world was about to end. It would end, to be precise at around 6pm on May 21st.

He invested a considerable amount of money in advertising the fact on hoardings around the area and predictably, many credulous individuals sold everything they had; house, car, children's inheritance, clothes etc, in order to be able to travel light on the Last Day.
The rest of us just waited, some with bated breath, it has to be admitted, as the days and hours ticked away. It reminded me a little of what happened or rather, didn't happen at the very end of the last century. There was a theory going around that all the computers in the world, including those that ran airplanes, trains, the Pentagon etc, might stop, because they hadn't been set right for the millenium. I never really understood that because my understanding of maths is not up to it, but there were people who took the possibility seriously.
Anyway, I wrote an open letter to dear Harold Camping at the time. I don't suppose he ever read it, but here it is.

So, Mr. Harold Camping, you wanted to be famous and now you are. And some. But not for the right reasons. I suppose you saw yourself at the head of a great army, twenty million strong, heading into the skies with the wind streaming through your hair, '...the loading had begun; taking Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun...', except you didn't need the silver spaceships.

Why, o why are you so gullible, Mr. Camping? Are you so convinced of your own superiority that the brakes and curbs that most people have on their imagination don't work in your case, or is it that you just don't have a sense of humour? I mean, surely half an hour spent Googling should have been enough to convince you, Harold, (can I call you that?) that your forecasts (two of them, remember) were simply the latest in a long line of prophesies stretching back almost five thousand years.

A clay tablet, identified as Assyrian, has been dated to about 2800 bc. On it is written, amongst other things '...there are signs that our world is speedily coming to an end' and dire apocalyptic warnings have been trotted out regularly ever since.

I must admit I started to Google up a list of end of the worlders, starting with the Assyrian one I mentioned, but the list seemed to go on for ever (OK Harold?), an endless parade of bishops, popes, mystics, one 'anti-pope', (who he?) and seers. The only names I recognised in this impressive list were Isaac Newton and Christopher Columbus. Columbus even wrote a book called The Book of Prophesies. I don't know why that surprised me but it did. In it he said the world would end in 1658.

Columbus died in 1506 so he was spared the kind of mirth you've had to put up with, Harry. Maybe you should have done the same as Chris. If you pitch the Last Day 150 years into the future, nobody could object and you wouldn't get egg on your face. Why don't you try it, Hal? It's not too late to change the date. Oh yes, well, maybe it is...

In any case, Harry baby, I can hardly wait for your next pronouncement - October, isn't it? What is it they say in your country, Harry; three strikes and out, and what is it that the other Harry says; 'Are you feeling lucky, punk - make my day'.

P.S. In March of this year, Harold Camping stated that his attempt to predict a date for the end of the world was 'sinful'. He is now searching the Bible "even more fervently...not to find dates, but to be more faithful in his understanding". This is a man who doesn't know the meaning of defeat and for that at least, I salute him.

22nd May 2013

A sincere apology

Today I killed a deer with my car on the road which goes past Spynie Hospital in Moray. I never saw her coming. She leaped over a wire fence straight onto my windscreen. She didn't die straight away, but I won't go into that. I just want to apologise to her and all the other animals that we kill with our cars without meaning to. Rest easy, baby.

14th March 2014

From Facebook. In response to a comment about 'reasoning' being the essential difference between man and animals.

Reasoning is over-rated. Reasoning has brought us to the point where the tiger, the lion, the wolf in many places, and a host of other animals are unlikely to survive for much longer. Btw, the list of endangered species could well include our good selves. The American sage Chief Seattle warned 150 years ago that if we kill off 'the beasts' as he called them, "Man would die of a great loneliness of spirit". He went on to say that all things are connected and that we are part of nature. It is folly to think we are somehow a superior and separate species. I expect the more intelligent dinosaurs also thought that.

15th March 2014
From Facebook.

My reply to a man who thinks there are too many wolves, that they attack people, children and pets and that there is a need for 'culling', ie mindlessly slaughtering them.

Hi Dominic. Who've you been talking to? Nowhere are wolf populations 'too dense'. Just the opposite, mostly. Try substituting 'humans' for 'wolves' ('wolves' is the plural, not 'wolfs', btw), in your sentence about wolves attacking people etc, and you'll see it makes more sense. Have a good day.