Thursday, February 28, 2013

Personal Video recording and Big Idea number 65 is wait for it ..God

I was fascinated by a story |I heard on the radio the other day highlighting the growth of video recording of car journeys. The reasons being :

1) Increasing cost of car accidents- to individuals and insurers
2) The low cost and miniaturisation that is possible in the solution.
Here's an example of a UK unit.

Seems that this sort of technology is being included in new US models - I've just got a Mini DV camera from Maplin's the ED20 produced by AEE Technology for the incredibly low price of £50.
It's used mounted on your ear but not sure if I'll use it while I'm driving perhaps for crowded moments on the pavements or vlogging.



God is a concept and Big Idea number 65

This follows the ideas of Religion and Theology from the last couple of posts - it is for me  worth thinking about God away from Religion and Theology ...

In hindsight it seems slightly puzzling that although I took what religious studies I had to at School and also went to Sunday School (not out of choice) for several years (from I guess about 7 to about the age of 10) that some basics (as below) did not get imparted or embedded with me- I'm not sure what is taught as religion now but think something factual (History of religion?) and a social/comparative course would be of value - whether you 'believe' or not it is a big question and reflects something in  how society has arrived at where it stands today.
Ok so God is an  old white guy?
Here's a 'picture'/representation of god it tells us more about religion than god (being westernised and male).

Anyway salient points  that can help us become involved in the God question when it crops up:

Theism - Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially (?) belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his/her creatures. - Conversely (for completeness) Atheism is disbelief in the existence of God or gods.

Deism - Holds that there is a god but he/she having done the creation thing is not actively involved in day to day stuff it's a view established by the  thinkers during the times of reason and  enlightenment. The good aspect (for me and my interpretation) here is that Deism adheres to 'Christian' values but does not rely on slavish followings of the bible.

Monotheistic religions have a single god Islam Judaism and Christianity  fit this bill (I suppose as so called Abrahamic religions they actually share the same god although I expect some strict adherents to each of these religions would probably argue about this.) The Baha'i faith is also of the  Abrahamic tradition but is often overlooked, it has routes in Islam and has a  somewhat crazy annual calendar of 19 months with 19 days in it.

Buddhism and Daoism are religions with  no god as Buddha says "gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains sacred groves sacred trees and sacred shrines"
Taoism/Daoism is more complex in its hierarchy of deities although Tao itself is not God, nor is it a god, nor is it worshipped by Taoists it does have many gods, most of them are borrowed from other cultures and religions. These deities are within this universe and are themselves subject to the Tao.

Polytheism -is religion several gods a good example of Polytheism is ancient Greece but it is worth noting that within Polytheistic religions the gods have a hierarchy for the Ancient Greeks religion the top god was  Zeus although he was not omnipotent.

Pantheism - is the religion that holds that God is found in everything in the universe poets liked this one and (again from me) Pantheism sounds a bit new age to me but has some big name exponents and credibility(?)

Oh yes and John Lennon also had a view on God.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trade shows e.g. BVE 2013 and # 64 Theology

BVE 2013 didn't get my pulse racing!

I suppose trade shows have a use but probably they are of less significance than they used to be - so much is about the application and the people you want to do business/work with for many it offers a chance to meet up with colleagues and to double check that they're not totally missing the next big thing.
This year BVE London (as opposed to the Northern version) has moved from its old Olympia home (West-ish and more central-ish London) to the more purpose designed  ExCel centre in East London- I made a quick visit today.
Conference and show 'expo'

It's very much a 'techie' occasion with hardware all over the place as well as  lots of Seminars which cover production, storage and  distribution - last day (this year) tomorrow if you want to make the journey.

I noticed plenty of overseas visitors were there  but nothing leapt out at me on the 'TV meets Social phenomena' which I expect to start unleashing further change in the next 18 months or so. ExCel is a good modern functional venue for the event but it is in a soulless part of London well away from the established media communities.

Number 64 it's Theology as an Ian Crofton Big Idea !

Theology pretty much means the study of God and is derived from two Greek words theos (the God bit) and logos ( which I'm reliably informed means word).
Blindingly exciting 'expo'
Theology is thus all about the God thing and can include sacred texts and the paraphernalia and procedures associated with worshiping God

For Christianity theology has two bits
1) Natural which is  deduced from the natural world and experience. (No supernatural experience here.)
Natural theology takes an evolutionary process where stories about "Gods" are developed and created. Nietzsche argued that this probably had to do with the idea of respecting one's ancestors swelling up until they reached a concept far greater than just former peoples (which seems credible to me).

2) Revealed which is theology that is  based on the doctrine that all religious truth is derived exclusively from the revelations of God to humans. Revealed Theology  can perhaps come by  scriptures that are already known to us, or through revelation from God. When scriptures are read the person reading them may be considered to have the truth of them revealed by a feeling that it is 'true'.

Revealed theologies  involve a point where a person has had a revelation or an inspiring event has taken place. In Christianity this revelation was said to be one that was made by Abraham, and later Jesus.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

UK TV market developments and # 63 Religion

UK TV market developments 

The UK has a varied and sophisticated TV landscape with a mixture of Free-To-Air and Pay TV operations. Today a number of significant changes were announced that will create further pressure on Sky and Virgin.
1) Freeview announced a campaign to drive customers from pay platforms to  the 'free' service - much is made of the fact that in Pay TV households the vast majority of viewing time is spent watching the main channels BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and 5. In a time of austerity this may resonate with some hard pressed subscribers.
2) BT announced it has purchased ESPN in UK/Ireland, BT Vision continues to enhance its' sport offering. It appears that  in future the ESPN channels will only be available to BT Infinity subscribers. Not sure how this will work for those who do not have the possibility of BT Infinity service. BT Sports is in acquisitive mode but the numbers will need to add up and viewers will need to ultimately foot the bill, this is likely to be a tough battle Sky is renowned as a formidable competitor and many sports centric viewers   are likely to be regular viewers of other sports like cricket and Formula 1.
3) VOD Professional  today has reported that ITV set to  support micro-payments on the new itv Player  delivered content - ITV is stepping up the move to other revenue streams principally leveraging its archive here - this is a brave move with so much content free or on subscription it will take a change in viewer behaviour to make this pay.

The other big  leisure option  in the UK (apart from TV) is perhaps Religion which is Crofton's big idea Number 63

Religion is generally a belief in one or more gods and tends to expect 'faith'  from the followers.
Community is also very much tied up with faith - although some religions hold that they are open to all (Christianity and Islam spring to mind here)
Religion has elements of Cultism - typically rituals and meetings -worship are held in in a sacred consecrated place.
The fact that Communism  lack the spiritual dimension means that some commentators do not accept it as a religion.
Here's a chart from Adherents com showing the big religions world followers.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Food Chain and # 62 The Affective fallacy

Food Chain

Horse jokes abound
As I took part in our weekly shop I reflected that Shopping in supermarkets does not feel as it did only a few months ago.
Food safety and integrity is now on the agenda and It will be interesting to see how consumers have adjusted their behaviour since recent revelations around meat products. For me I feel less comfortable with processed products like pies and lasagnes than I did. What do the recent revelations teach us and how are the big chains reacting?
The following stories are reported

Asda - Now Asda bans meat from Glasgow factory from February 14th

Tesco  Tesco (where hamburgers and other products with horsemeat have been found) and the horsemeat scandal.

Morrison's -who have strong claims on their own retail meat chain:- Morrison's meat: Journey from abattoir to final package.

Sainsbury's  where the media friendly Justin King has been holding forth, Sainsbury's chief Justin King warns of 'new reality' after horse meat crisis.

The posh ones have not been immune to answering questions either but Waitrose and M&S like Morrison's are looking better bets although Waitrose have withdrawn a number of products from their shelves.
Like much in modern life there is a need for active consumers who are not merely intent on getting the lowest prices - I believe that cheap food can often mean poor quality food. Strangely we're far more careful with the food we put in our cars than with the materials we consume.

Crofton and number 62 The Affective Fallacy.

Following on from the work that William  Wimsatt Junior and Monroe  Beardsley did on The Intentional Fallacy (Number 61) in 1954 they produced a critique around how literary criticism  which is known as The Affective Fallacy.
This from the Northfield Mount Hermon School website

The “affective fallacy” refers to the fallacy, or mistake, of confusing what a work of literature does and its result (how it affects the reader). This is a highly significant term in the world of literary criticism, running back to Aristotle’s conception of “catharsis” and all the way through present day discourse over the vice and virtue of New Criticism. At heart, the “affective fallacy” results in more of a suggestion of what not to do in that it suggests that a critic not make the mistake of focusing on how a piece of work affects the reader because of how subjective these results can be. For example, a poem can affect different individuals differently due to a variety of personal reasons. The argument, then, is to avoid the “affective fallacy” so that the discourse about the poem can pursue greater objectivity by focusing on the work of literature itself. The practical application of this concept is that writers should avoid talking about the audience, whose responses to a work of art or literature are individualistic, personal, and ultimately unreliable in a objective sense.
One way of looking at the “affective fallacy” is by examining the objective of the mode of writing. If the purpose of the writing is to produce objective analysis, then avoiding the “affective fallacy” will push the piece further along these lines. In this regard, if it is an evidence-driven piece, then realizing that any mention of the affect of the poem on the audience is ultimately unprovable will help to steer the piece away from the fallacy. (Stick to what you can prove!)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

# 61 The Intentional Fallacy

Monroe Beardsley (with moustache)

Idea number 61 from Crofton is The Intentional Fallacy

If you have enjoyed a Garry Glitter song but are unsure if this is okay there is a get out for you as you can see at the Academy website The Intentional Fallacy gives you this exemption.

To précis  the work    written by  William  Wimsatt Junior and Monroe  Beardsley in 1946

at the time of writing  literary criticism was heavily reliant on an author-biography approach.  Wimsatt and Beardsley suggested a 'new' idea that for literary works arguments about interpretation are not settled by consulting the oracle that is the author.  The meaning of the work is not what the writer had in mind at some moment during composition of the work, or what the writer thinks the work means after it is finished, but, rather, what he or she succeeded in embodying in the work. The intentional fallacy is part of the arguments of American New Criticism, which holds that the proper object of literary study is literary texts and how they work rather than authors' lives or the social and historical worlds to which literature refers.  The “intentional fallacy” names the act of delimiting the object of literary study and separating it from biography or sociology.  The meaning resides in the literary work itself, and not in statements regarding his or her intention that the author might make.  These statements become separate texts that may become subject to a separate analysis. 

So what is important is the reader and their interpretation of the work not the writers intention or their view of it once the work is finished.

The Intentional Fallacy  can be applied to other works such as paintings or music.
To go against their views it might be of interest to explain that the two guys were both white Americans born in the early part of the 20th Century.

Friday, February 22, 2013

ITV changes to regional News # 60 Beauty

ITV News

OFCOM is working with the current UK TV Licensees (5 and Channel 3) to assure continuity with the services as we move to the next licence period, the current licences expire in 2014.
It looks as if there will be a separate ITV Wales licence.
To keep some level of 'regionality'  OFCOM is looking for  proposals that include stepping up regional news provision to a more acceptable level,  some viewers  have complained that  ITV regional service fails to provide acceptable coverage for the regions that are covered, this is due to consolidation of ITV leading to  some macro regions.
For English regional licences that are held by ITV, OFCOM has suggested an increase in the number of regions  from 7 to 14, with the cost offset by reducing the amount of regional content required in each licence.
Interestingly enough a different approach could be expected in Scotland where STV is taking an active part in the new Local TV services  

Big Idea Sixty is Beauty

 Hogarth ( 1697 - 1764) the British artist recognised the problem of defining Beauty he famously  wrote a book called 'The Analysis of Beauty'. Hogarth comments

For though beauty is seen and confessed by all, yet, from the many fruitless attempts to account for the cause of its being so, enquiries on this head have almost been given up; and the subject generally thought to be a matter of too high and too delicate a nature to admit of any true or intelligible discussion.

The enlightenment philosopher  Hume (as we might expect) was able to bring more rigour to his definition recognising that it was from within rather than what was seen in nature or works of art
he said,
'Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others. To seek the real beauty, or real deformity, is as fruitless an enquiry as to ascertain the real sweet or real bitter. According to the disposition of the organs, the same object may be both sweet and bitter...'
Here's a picture by Spencer

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Huggers Intel TV and # 59 Aesthetics

Intel Web TV

Erik Huggers Intel's Media division boss was one of the figures behind BBC's iPlayer  and is now out and about promoting the new Intel TV service.
Intel are known as a product company rather than a service offering but the talk is that as well as producing the Over The Top (OTT) Set Top Box (STB) hardware Intel'll have some kind of fancy Catch-up and cable competing TV service.
Is there room for another 'big boy' offering with players like Google's YouTube and Apple already slugging it out?

Tomato and Cucumber

Have planted seeds for Tomatoes (Alicante) and Cucumbers (Socrates F1) today these will start in propagating trays indoors.

Big Idea number 59

Aesthetics defined as the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty.

Aesthetic cover?
(as a side note I did a quick Google image search to find a suitable picture and felt frustrasted with the returns - have selected 'The Beatles' an example of  minimal album art  but I felt an  Aesthetic example of it.)
Art often strives to represent beauty.
Visual art particularly since the birth of photography has been somewhat problematic and with conceptual art and the rise of artists like Marcel Duchamp who famously labelled and displayed  a manufactured urinal 'fountain'. Some philosophers take it that Art becomes art when considered as such have a listen to some thoughts around what art is here.
Plato didn't believe beauty could be really represented and that works of art would be inferior imitations unlike Aristotle who thought that art had a positive social value.
Aristotle like others before and after  believed that Art was the preserve of the rich and good and although this view is still held in some measure today particularly in the areas of high culture there has been a move to a more widespread appreciation of the 'arts'.
I'm not sure that this is correctly described as a 'philosophical' video but it is splendidly over the top and has some interesting selections of 'art' within it. (I feel that it is shame  the font that selected is rather gothic).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Skype, Cameron in India and #58 Emotivism and prescriptivism


The brand leader in internet telephony is in the process of rolling out improvements and integration to the parent company's (Microsoft) own Messenger. The growth of P2P video telephony appears to me to be somewhat overdue, infrastructure and technology are now both in place as Social media platforms adapt to place the power of video at the core expect a step change in the way that personal communications add the visual. The improvements include the ability to leave video clips and will undoubtedly influence others with ambitions for popular instant messaging applications.

Cameron in India

The rule of unexpected consequences has been very much in evidence as the Conservative led coalition's 'tightening' of immigration controls has impacted on the UK PLC's education business. The rising Asian powers (notably China and India) have appreciated  the UK education's values and standards sending thousands of Students to UK Universities but new rules have made qualified graduates from outside the EU difficult to employ in Britain. The effect is to make the bright boys and girls of the superpowers think twice about studying in Britain -depriving  UK educational establishments of income and limiting private companies abilities  to employ young enthusiastic graduates from some of our most important trading partners. Cameron has undoubtedly been taking some heat for this mistaken policy during his Indian 'trade' visit.

Big Idea #58 is Emotivism and prescriptivism (ought)

Emotivism is also known as hurrah/boo theory

Prescriptivism says that "You ought to do this" is a universalizable prescription (not a truth claim), and means "Do this and let everyone do the same in similar cases." We are to pick our moral principles by trying to be informed and imaginative, and then seeing what we can consistently hold 
Moral beliefs are subject to two basic logical rules:
    U. To be logically consistent, we must make similar evaluations about similar cases.

    P. To be logically consistent, we must keep our moral beliefs in harmony with how we live and want others to live.
R M Hare
Rule U holds because moral judgements are universalizable: it's part of their meaning that they apply to similar cases. Rule P holds because moral judgements are prescriptions (imperatives), and thus express our will, or our desires, about how we and others are to live.

Two Big figures in this niche are:  
R M Hare (1919 to 2002) an Oxford educated who was Japanese prisoner of war during WWII  
his precursor was the impressive
A J (Alfred Jules) Ayer – Oxford educated and  four times married (including one wife twice)Humanist 1910 -1989

A J Ayer

There's a famous (infamous?)  story about Alfred  arguing with'Iron' Mike Tyson who was persistently making himself  available to  the (at the time) little-known model Naomi Campbell. When Ayer asked that Tyson stop, the boxer said:
"Do you know who the f**k  I am? I'm the heavyweight champion of the world,"
to which Ayer replied:
"And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men".
Ayer and Tyson then began to converse, and Naomi Campbell slipped away.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Samuel Morse as well as #57 Acts and Omissions

Morse is significant in the evolution of the modern age. I read a little about Samuel Morse in recent IET Journal such that I wanted to find out more.
Dah Dah Dit
When I worked in BT Tower central London I used to often pass one of those blue plaques commemorating the fact that Morse had lived there -I think from this I thought he was a 'Brit' (he was in fact an American), I also thought he was an Engineer (in reality he was more of a painter).
What I learnt from the IET article was that he missed news of his wife's illness and subsequent death through his travels and lack of effective communication. I also learnt that as he was not an 'engineer' he worked with others.
Have a look at the timeline of his life here - I find it inspiring to learn what he achieved and did - although he did not invent the 'Telegraph' his name is inextricably linked with it and before radio enabled the capture of a murder (Dr Crippen) Morse code had already done this when John Tawell was captured with the help of Telegraphy.

 And Idea number 57 concerns Acts and Omissions

Many say that it is not what they did in life that they regret but what they didn't - the sin of omission.
In Philosophy there are two groups (for consideration of this 'idea') they are consequentialists and deontologists.
So deontologists are concerned with following rules (e.g. Thou Shalt not Kill) consequentialists worry more about the outcomes and could in some cases ignore the rules - e.g. perhaps an instance where a single killing causes ultimately less deaths.
 If you look here you might be able to see that there are downsides to both approaches and here's a video giving some pointers to the two approaches

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Odd collection and #56 The Golden Rule

The Beatles (also known as the White Album) is (for me) a great and varied double record, I have it in the 'white vinyl' version and was intrigued to learn about this Artist/collectors perspective  on making a collection of multiple copies of the vinyl version.

 #56 The Golden Rule

Many believe that part of the reason that we are able to live as well in  Society as we do is that all religions subscribe to  versions of the Golden Rule, this is  rules such as  that in Christianity which is  exemplified by  Love Your Neighbour as  Yourself or  Do as you would be done by  in Marxism we can see a replacement version of Christian The golden rule
from each according to his or her ability; to each according to his or her need.
Other creeds say things like:

"One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self." (Hinduism)

“...and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.” (Islam)

and the rather tidy

"What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." (Confucianism)
For others and to realise (perhaps) that religion is not necessarily a bad thing take a look at this poster

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pop Stars engaging in Philosophy and # 55 Utilitarianism

Popular figures engaging in Philosophy

Styles, Khan and de Botton 
I subscribe to a couple of electronic newsletters by two admirable thinking people, regular viewers of  my postings won't be surprised by one being  In Our Time  from Melvyn Bragg the other one is Jules Evans with his Politics of Wellbeing. In Jules summary this week I was intrigued and impressed by his reference to Alain de Botton's efforts to engage with the wider public on the subject of Philosophy, it seems that Alain met Harry Styles (a popular music performer your honour) and following a conversation Harry tweeted on Socrates.
What next Katie Price on Plato?

I have a slight feeling that Alain is almost a nemesis to Jules but they're ploughing adjacent furrows and I guess it's more of a healthy competition?

Big Idea Number 55 Utilitarianism

Unlike the 'isms' I've mentioned of late this is not an old Greek one, Utilitarianism  surfaced at around the end of the 18th Century.
In short it measures actions by evaluating the outcome of benefit/happiness against 'pain' and believes that benefit and happiness are what we (human race) should seek to maximize. if several people benefit then this is better than just one person so (in my view) government is in the benefit of using utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism is described as the doctrine that the morally correct course of action consists in the greatest good for the greatest number, that is, in maximizing the total benefit resulting, without regard to the distribution of benefits and burdens.

Utilitarianism springs from Brentham's desire to create a 'law' in parallel with  what Newton had done for Science/Gravity. Brentham can be considered to be well ahead of his time particularly with his liberal views on sex and animal welfare.

Although the concept is from  Jeremy Bentham it's more likely that you'll have heard of it in connection with John Stuart Mill.
Mill refined and  of course there's a great In Our Time on the subject (The Mills angle) but if you want to learn more about the fascinating figure of Brentham take a look at the Brentham Project here.
Here's a review/explanbation of Brentham's view

Friday, February 15, 2013

Late and early vegetables along with #54 Stoicism

On Wednesday down on my allotment I started clearing some weeds and the remaining vegetables from last year, I picked Parsnips a single sad Leek and some Sprouts. On Thursday I've started sowing some more seeds Onions (Ailsa Craig) and will be purchasing and planting more fresh seeds in the next week or so. Last year I grew Onions only from sets and I have already planted sets this winter but thought seeds could be worth trying as there are some advantages suggested here.

Number 54 of the big Ideas - Stoicism.

Now once you've read what follows you might consider my allotment labours demonstrate my personal Stoicism.
Stoics are famed for their belief in the virtues of treating both good and bad fortune with equanimity.
Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium who was a pupil of Diogenes Laërtius a biographer of Greek philosophers.
Famously the Sisyphus myth is considered a parable of Stoicism.
Seneca was also a famous Stoic ( and was both a philosopher and playwright)  who advised Nero.
Stoicism has much to teach us about living in the modern world as you can see from this brief video and also by listening (of course) to the In Our Time on the subject.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Car parking VsTree Fellers and #53 Cynicism

Ealing is well known for being one of London's leafier suburbs and maintaining the appearance is something which requires some effort both in organisation and in the actual physical reality. Argyle road which runs pretty much between the Uxbridge Road and the A40 has a number of trees that are lopped every two or three years. Increasingly the challenge for the guys (invariably as far as I can see men in this case) is being able to get to  the trees because of parked cars. The increased cost of rail travel along with the UK residents desire to be away from their fellow commuters means that car parking on the outskirts of London has reached epidemic proportions. Where I live strong local lobbying has meant that 'resident parking' will shortly be introduced this will have the effect of reducing the practicality of commuters using residential streets for free parking - and making them use streets even further away from where they'd like to park (by tube and rail stations).
Is this a good thing, in one street nearby a homeowner has taken to putting bollards in the spot outside their house when they're using their car?
 I suppose it doesn't help that there are so many 2 (or more) car households and that so few people and (myself included) so few people using the garages they have.
I guess this is one of many challenges we face in living in a world with other people and accommodating them (and they accommodating us), generally (in my view) there's too much intervention by government/local authorities but unless we speak to one another then such problems will remain unresolved, apart from the irritation the lack of affordable local parking gives the ' out-of-town'  and 'big-boys'  like Tesco's Asda etc. an unfair advantage over smaller high street shops.

Big Idea Number 53 Cynicism

Many of us relish being termed Cynics thinking the world weary badge when attached by others behove upon us the virtues of wisdom and experience but in truth Cynicism means much more than a lowly judgement on our fellow man.
Crofton's book pointed me at Antisthenes said to be the originator of the Cynic philosophy and Diogenes famed for both living in a barrel and  asking Alexander the Great to move out of his light. Cynics believe broadly that we (people in society) are stopped from leading 'honest' lives as we compromise and lie to reach an accommodation.
It may be interesting to reflect while we consider hedonism Cynicism etcetera how these 'strands' have ultimately evolved from  Aristotle and Socrates and are often a difference of emphasis and perspective that does not necessarily imply a complete break with the founding figures.
Here's the In Our Time on the subject and a really good summary of Diogenes (who didn't write down his philosophy but lived it)  below.


Monday, February 11, 2013

YouTube on Freesat, the Pope quits and # 52 Hedonism

Bye Bye Benedict

So the big story of today is the imminent departure of the current pontiff Pope Benedict XVI he's leaving the Roman Catholics top job to pursue other interests. After a long time working with one of leading brands in the religious lifestyles sector he's moving on to allow for a CEO who can bring some new life to what many see as a somewhat behind the times sect.

Many have been asking if it's time for a Black Pope or perhaps even a woman but any dramatic change will need to be carefully handled as the followers are very much conservative (with a small c).
The Pope is said to have an on-going  connection with St Peter who Roman Catholics believe created the Papacy.

Of course despite the fact that at 85 and said to be suffering from Parkinson's disease there are rumours and conspiracy theories abroad over the timing of the former young Nazis departure.

Whoever the successor to the current Pope is to remain relevant in the 21st Century they will need to deal urgently  with structural and theological renewal as well as reviewing the church's teachings on birth control, homosexuality and the role of women in the Church.

Freesat adds YouTube (Freetime only)

Another example of the competition amongst UK TV platforms was on show today as the Freesat platform announced that next month (March) YouTube will be available on the newish Freetime models (so far only a Humax decoder offer this).
It's a shame that successive additions demand new hardware purchases but this sounds like a nice option.

Big Idea 52 is Hedonism

It seems logical (well done Mr Crofton) that the follow up to Happiness is Hedonism.
Aristippus was a leading figure in the Hedonistic movement and made clear that there was more to Hedonism than just self indulgence, Epicureans built on his work.
This might throw a bit of  light into an ideal Hedonistic lifestyle.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Compost, Ealing Arts and # 51 Happiness

Happy New Year (Chinese version) to all


Current composting
Preparing timber for compost box
When I visited the Kensington Gardens allotment  I very much admired both the tidiness and the Composting system, it'll be a real struggle for me to get anywhere close to the same level of attention to detail on my own plot but my intention is to emulate the 3 stage system of compost making and I'm currently putting together a box for the final compost stage, not sure how it'll work and how the enclosure will survive the moisture and pressure.
The box is made from old packing crate and am painting it inside and will apply preservative to the outside.

Open - The West Ealing Arts Centre

West Ealing had an Arts centre by the Fire Station in the Uxbridge Road, it's now under development. Not sure where they'll relocate too but the website for the project is here.

Big Idea # 51 is Happiness

It seems logical that after Good, Evil and the Golden Mean Crofton should point us towards Happiness.
Sometimes Hedonism is used as a description of Happiness but it is (to me) more complex than this explanation.
Happiness (or at least the pursuit of it) is enshrined in the US declaration of rights - but this (to me) means practically nothing - if you want to consider happiness further and have limited time available I would suggest you consider this list.
I like this interpretation (below) by Phelps too he has created some other fine quotes too.
And here is the In Our Time on the subject.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Bill Phillips and #50 The Golden Mean

Phillips with his machine
Tim Harford can be relied on to provide stimulating subjects to his audiences be they in print or via his radio programmes, I'm not sure how he came to know of Bill Phillips (described by him as the Indiana Jones of Economists) but really made me want to know more about the guy - you can learn  a little of this New Zealand polymath and War hero  here.
As Harford infers (I think)  there was in the post WWII firmament an idea that things could be 'fixed' rather than just analysed and explained -not sure if this spirit can be revived?
You can see Harford talking about Phillips here. Get Adobe Flash player


Wow I'm at number 50 - The Golden Mean

Aristotle was a man who saw the benefits of moderation and the Golden Mean is all about moderation.
An example often given is how we consider courage, extreme courage is recklessness and a deficiency is Cowardice. Here's a summary of the concept of Aristotle's Golden Mean.

The Video's here!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

V&A Visit and #49 Evil

V&A London

Today we took a visit to the V&A and had a nice bowl of soup in the (perhaps surprisingly)  first Museum restaurant in the world - very nice too, one of the restaurant rooms is designed by William Morris.
The museum has an awful lot of things to see but to my mind it's noticeable that it offers a far more relaxed ambience than either the Science or Natural History Museums. It has a relaxed attitude to photographing the exhibits as well.
Part of the education in the visit for me was to learn how long the British Government has taken an interest in the design of British products.
Social history is well in evidence around Silver and the way it is (and was) utilised in the dining rooms of the country.  Some truly Fantastic Stained Glass Windows on show including this one of the last supper.
Crofton's Big Idea today is Evil (Number 49)

Crofton picks the obverse of Good (we considered yesterday) and puts Evil under his analysis, he notes two Evils that of the natural world (like plague or natural calamity) and the other which is morally wrong.
Crofton says that in Theology Evil is an abstract (but real) entity that is personified by the Devil and goes on to note the question
Is killing always wrong?  which has and does  trouble philosophers.



Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Post and Media developments .... #48 Good

TNT is Going Postal in West London 

Over the last 3 months I've become conscious first of getting two daily postal deliveries to our home  and subsequently that one of these deliveries (generally the earlier one) has been made by TNT.
Now I know that things change and that the postal monopoly which served the UK well for many years is no longer in force (in part because of EU rulings) but I'm not yet clear in my mind if the arrival of a TNT service improves the situation long term or not. It is worth noting that the area I live in is probably one that can be profitable/subsidise the more geographically spaced out housing and office premises in other parts of the UK.

Local TV

The evolving evidence of Jeremy Hunt's tenure at the DCMS is manifested in the local TV licence award of Channel 8 to the owners of the London Evening Standard.
The fact that the operator is already a successful media company may lead one to believe that the new entity has a chance of surviving the challenging times but it does little to promote new enterprises and the diverse voices that can fulfil the potential of the idea of promoting this great city.
The ESTV bid includes a commitment to Ultra local TV delivered (I presume) by IP, be interesting to see how this addition is manifested, created and monetised.
The commitment of Evgeny Lebedev (The Russian born Evening Standard proprietor) to plurality and a positive reflection of London to date perhaps augurs well for the enterprise.

Virgin Media as takeover target will have enormous ramification in UK Telco business

Virgin has its liberty taken
News in the city (financial bit) is that Liberty Media has agreed a  bid for Virgin Media (which perhaps surprisingly  has as its biggest shareholders  Capital World Investors which own 14.6 percent and Capital Research Global Investors which has 10.9 percent).

Virgin Media reports 2012 results on Wednesday. The Press are seeing the story as a battle between Malone and Murdoch (as the obvious personalisation of a very complicated structural business deal), it may also be worth considering how significant the deal is for the former state monopoly Telco BT.

Big Idea 48 is Good

Good (or value) in Philosophy is a term that can be challenging to define.

Plato (as you might expect) had a fair amount to say about Good.

Wikipedia has a nice, concise example to help show what 'Good' is for a philosopher.

an economist may say that the Mona Lisa is a very valuable economic good because it can be sold for a lot of money. A philosopher may say that the painting is good because of how it is painted. The economist sees relative good, because people may later not want to pay for it. The philosopher sees absolute good, because it will always be painted well.

I guess these 10 virtues from the School of Life tie in with a good life (I'd add Moderation if there was an 11th)  and a rather insightful video here (below).

Monday, February 04, 2013

Huhne admits guilt and # 47 Morality

So first of all I did feel a (small) amount of sympathy to Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne as the pretences around his earlier claims were revealed to be lies.
I then listened to what he said and revisited some of his earlier denials.

Does Chris Huhne believe that the passage of 10 years means that the lies he told recently made the earlier lies any less lies?

Does Huhne not think an apology is in order to those who stood by him - there wasn't one.

Huhne like so many of those in politics is a rich man and could well have managed without his driving for a period of disqualification following the speeding offence but presumably felt that the law should not apply to him?

As many have pointed out many politicians enjoy danger and it has been suggested that they may profession may attract people who exhibit  the tendencies of sociopath - might be worth  taking a look at the list here before poo-pooing.

Huhne  now he joins the  group of disgraced UK politicians that includes Jonathan  Aitken and Jeffery Archer a victim like them of a distorted view of their own importance and invulnerability.
If you look at this clip I think you'll recognise the political world will not be poorer as a result of him leaving the Westminster stage - but still ultimately there's a sadness to this story

Strange then that the big Idea today is Number 47 Morality.

Morality is a noun, and the word's defined as

1. Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.
2. Behaviour as it is affected by the observation of these principles.
In Philosophy morality is a system  of beliefs about what is good (and bad) when the agreed standards are ignored the behaviour is typically labelled as immoral.
Some (still) believe that  morality is defined 'divinely'  (this - of course can be problematic) in modern western societies the law is used as a means of implementing morality.
If you do not adhere to the morality through ignorance you might be labelled amoral (not immoral).
Here's an interesting podcast on the topic from the Philosophy Bites gang.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

A little about Chad Varah

Chad Varah by all accounts was a remarkable man  born over 100 years ago he is said, when confronted by difficult situations  to have asked himself  "what would Jesus have done?"
As well as the founding of the organisation that came to be known as the Samaritans  he was a pioneer in welcoming divorced people to celebrate their second marriages in church, he was also a patron of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
The fact that Varah was able to remain with in the Church of England and be honoured as a Companion of Honour by the Queen says much of the man.
Unusual in the extreme  he worked as an illustrator for the Eagle comic and believed in reincarnation.
As suicide and angst continue to blight the lives of many in the UK and across the world the organisation he effectively founded (The Samaritans) continues to offer a non-judgemental  ear to those in crisis.
You can hear Chad's record selection for Desert Island Discs here.
And here's a YouTube  related to the Samaritans work in the UK.