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Wednesday
Jan302019

Renan and Truth

Truth sometimes has a big T and sometimes a small t. As Ernest Renan pointed out, logic deals with the small t. Logic, by definition, does not deal with nuances. And since Truth always resides in nuances logic is no use in the search for Truth. Nuances are the connections that join us to the whole, that which is greater than our little old selves. 

Saturday
Jan262019

sticky genes and the baby's bathwater

You might reasonably ask that in the fifteen years since the human genome has been fully sequenced and other great genetic leaps forward have been made that the oat problem could have been solved. The humble oat, beloved of all porridgemen and not a few others, can grow in some fairly poor and unpleasant conditions. You can grow oats on a windblown Orkney isle and eat your porridge just fine. Just not that much porridge. Tough oats have a low yield. There are othr places, the fair south, where oats grow lush and resplendent, but they need good weather and a bit of coddling. Now the obvious thing is to add the gene for hardiness with the gene for yield. But try as hard as they can at Hovis and other places where more oats mean more groats, they simply haven't managed to do it. These are what are called 'sticky genes' low yield sticks to hardiness and high yield sticks to fragility and that's that. 

An intuitive grasp of entropy suggests this is right and proper. If we could keep growing bigger and lusher plants in worse and worse places we'd have a nightmare feedback loop with the world engulfed in triffid like luxuriance. So it isn't that surprising. But it does provide a salutary example of how some things just go together and won't be separated.

Think about the people you know who have some infuriating habits. But they're also great people. If only they could change a bit. Think about so called masculine and feminine virtues- wouldn't it be great if they could be combined? 

And then there are issues- it would be nice if we could have freedom of speech without hate speech, meritocracy without a braindrain of the disadvantaged, scale savings without organisational bureaucracy.

Like babies and bathwater. They look very different but it takes real effort to not throw out one with the other. It has always struck me how in recent times almost all important issues divide the public 50/50. It's astonishing how many public votes are only a few points either side of the middle. Reason: because both are right! When you have to decide by a vote there are usually equally good reasons for each side, which means we have a baby with its bathwater and you just can't separate them.

Sticky genes- they just go together. Live with it. Work around it. Accept you can't have everything in the exact manner which you just might want it...

Tuesday
Jan222019

setting

A man can only be as wise as his setting. This is why the great teachers put so much effort into set and setting. They know that we are only channels for the wisdom that is actually out there not in here. By controlling setting they channel more. The ignorant heap praise upon them and even worship them. But they have simply been doing an exemplary job of channelling what is available to them. Instead of focussing on 'getting more knowledge', think about the kind of setting that would require you to be more wise, and act more wisely.

Monday
Jan142019

another ancestor who strangely also ran a writing school...

TWIGGER, Robert

1713 - 1800

Robert Twigger, was born in 1713/14. In 1741, when of Hadleigh, Suffolk, was a beneficiary under his uncle Robert Twigger's will (AW3 71 Essex Wills Beneficiaries Index). He married at Elmsett, Hadleigh, Suffolk on 7 April 1743, Mary Steames. On 15 December 1744, Twigger was licenced to teach at a Free School at East Bergholt, Suffolk and in 1749/50 was running a Writing School at East Bergholt (Ipswich Journal 10 February 1749). By 1758 he had returned to Hadleigh and was exercising other skills 'Draws Sun-Dials, paints Alter-Pieces in Churches, writes the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and Commandments, in the neatest Manner; draws Scriptures Sentences upon the Walls, with beautiful Margins round the same. He has lately beautified Hadleigh and Hitcham Churches. Any Gentlemen, Church Wardens &c. who will be pleased to employ him, shall meet with entire Satisfaction, and the Favour gratefully acknowledged by their humble servant' (Ipswich Journal 11 February 1758). His wife died in 1766 and he married secondly at Hadleigh on 21 February 1767, widow Sarah Carew (died 1796). He was buried at Hadleigh St Mary Church on 20 January 1800, aged 86.

Sunday
Jan062019

Some notes on the poet Edward Thomas

In an account of his life the year 1900 merits this entry: "Gains a second-class History degree; starts a precarious and lifelong career as a writer."

A hard grafter on grubb street, in one amazingly productive week he reviewed 15 books. He wrote several books each year.

What is astonishing is that he didn't start to write poetry until he was 36. His last poem was written when he was 38. He enlisted even though he could have avoided frontline duty owing to his age. Killed by a bullet through the chest in 1917 at 39.

Friday
Dec282018

new years resolutions

1. Tidy the office

2. More walking

3. Build a skin boat

4. Take analogue photos and colour them with watercolours

5. Write a journal instead of using social media

Monday
Dec102018

justice, fairness, rights

You cannot reduce high level activity (meaning only adult humans with considerable competency can carry them out) to lower level activity without missing out the crucial ingredient. So it is when people parrot that 'justice is fairness'. If it was, then there wouldn't be any justice. Justice is fairness+foresight. Foresight, of course, being the factor X that no simplistic moral rule book can deal with. It is just happens to be somethig humans can do.

Which leads us to rights. How can we talk about rights unless there is a structure in place to enforce those rights? That means a non-corrupt judiciary and an executive police force to make sure rules are adhered to. That's quite a tall order. So before any talk of rights we need to look at what makes for non-corrupt civic behaviour. This probably requires family and tribal bonds to be weakened. if they are not, talk of rights is premature. You need to relocate justice within a different tribal or familial framework.

Likewise, within a family, there can be no talk of rights unless family bonds are reduced to almost nothing. The concept of justice within the famlly requires fairness and foresight; both of which taking a second place to love, which in this context means attention to others and doing things for others in a non-transactional way.