Saturday, March 29, 2014

End of the Ideal Home (show)

Show Entrance
On Friday we went to Earls Court to the Daily Mail Ideal Home exhibition   take a look around particular interest in everyday cutlery and Herb gardening.

It's getting near the end of the run but when we left mid afternoon the exhibition hall was far busier than I had anticipated, an odd mix of people with loads of mobility scooters quite a number of pushchairs and a number of very disgruntled looking men.
An Ideal home

What's amazing about the show is the number of dodgy products that get shifted, I'm not sure if the so-called promotions (generally half price) are genuine are the hideously over-priced items normally double ??

One of the key features of this sort of event is the lack of seating and the requirement to queue for pretty much anything that is not a buying opportunity and Earl's court had this in spades. Oh yes and we didn't see any Herbs or Cutlery.
Tommy gets Plastered.

We did though see TV's slightly threatening   Tommy Walsh    (he used to be on Ground-force) showing people how to plaster and an Italian TV Chef, by the end of the visit my feet ached but I did have my spectacles very well cleaned (for free) and had drunk a cup of  coffee and eaten a bacon sandwich.
A TV Chef

Friday, March 28, 2014

At Westfield

On Wednesday I was in Westfields (West London version) -after a somewhat disappointing turnout  to a totally free Energy Best Deal  presentation.
I had my camera with me so I took a few photos on a rainy afternoon - noticed that there were more children in the Centre than usual as a result of the action by teachers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ai Weiwei and not all Londoners will benefit from higher house prices

Great film I saw on BBC Iplayer recently   was all about   Ai Weiwei, it was under the Storyville strand and was really interesting both in terms of the creative work of Ai  and the Chinese states persecution of him.
Ai was thew creative consultant responsible for the creation of the concept of the 'Birds Nest stadium' at the Olympics in 2008 but is no longer in favour with the powers that be in China.
A brave artist in China

During the time the film was made Ai Weiwei was working on work that examined his recent imprisonment on what appears to be trumped up charges - these were a series of 3-dimensional works representing his treatment while he was held by the state authorities.

Several very interesting things came out of the film one was that a modern consumer state that micro-manages and puts its artists under surveillance is ultimately doomed Ai when the  question was posed to him when it would fall apart was unable to put a date on it but was clear that it will change.

Problems for people

The news that the average  price for a house in London is now over £400,000 brings renewed focus onto the plight of many who will not be able to own their own home in the nation's capital.
What is striking about these times where the successful thrive is the hard times that many suffer often as a result of loneliness as much as by their relative poverty.
On discussing with people who suffer as result of low fixed incomes it is apparent that human contact is often missing or malfunctioning.

Red are the London prices Blue the rest of the UK

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Husserl, Heidegger and the Email hijack -Please Don't get caught

The Philosophy course is sadly for me coming to  to an end and this week we took a short journey down Existentialism Avenue.
One of the many delights I have experienced on the course is the weekly removal of what I thought I had learnt  from the reading/viewing that have been the basis of the course - that is The Bryan Magee Great Philosophers dialogues  

The acknowledged expert that Bryan was chatting with on the subject of Heidegger for this week's session  was Professor Dreyfus although previous weeks our course leader has generally looked past the 'expert' this week he felt unable to ignore the issues he had around Dreyfus (I think he said he was recently dewad but from Google I'm beginning to think this was wishful thinking on his part).
Martin a Nazi?

Scott identified Dreyfus as someone who had a career around his work on Heidegger and attempts to reconcile the existentialist view with that of the more Pragmatic U.S. perspective.

What I got from the discussion and reading  was that Husserl who established a 'new'/'fresh' analysis known as phenomenology. What Husserl created  was a critique of the  Descartes  mind and body dualism. Husserl had what he though was an able and gifted  student in the shape of Martin Heidegger's who he felt would be better equipped to carry forward this project but in time he was badly let down by him.

I had looked briefly at Phenomenology briefly before and come to the conclusion on the revisit that it did not tell me much but I now reckon it is of value and that the question from the existentialist Heidegger 'What are we doing?' is one we need to address. 

But Heidegger developed the thoughts in a somewhat different way and is now better known than Husserl who is often overlooked.
Heidegger brought to life the idea of living life in his seminal work the 1927 published book  Being and Time (let's face it that's a great title for a book), The idea is that “being-in-the-world,” and that which goes with it  is about the phenomenological principle that philosophy is not empirical but offers the  (perhaps) self-evident insight into the structure of experience. There's a 'nice' post on 'Being and Time' here.

I am someone who finds it difficult nbot to look at the nature of the people in the analysis of thier works (be it written work, music or 'Art') and I am under the impression that Martin Heidegger was not a great guy who chose to be a Nazi either because of his beliefs or to further his career, I think neither viewpoint would reflect well on Heidegger-   Husserl who was of Jewish birth (but chose to become a Christian) suffered under Hitler because of his Jewish family.

 Email hijack - Don't get caught

I think/thought I was quite savvy as far as computers and IT goes but I got caught - please do be careful and think long and hard  before doing anything that's suggested in an e-mail message if it involves 'passwords' (and then don't do it).
Well I got badly burned  following a  Message headed

Your BT Yahoo! account information has changed

I followed a link and changed some settings that resulted in my contacts being sent a 'begging' e-mail  (about being stranded in Manila).
In my defence I would say that generally these messages get caught by my spam filter and that they do not usually have  the secure  https://  type address which this did.
Please do be cautious, and thanks to those who contacted me and let me know they were concerned and also to BT's e-mail staff who helped me out.

Monday, March 24, 2014

London Live coming soon

It might not have got a lot of coverage as yet but the new 'Local TV' station in London could be something of a game changer when it arrives on 31st March 2014.

 London Live  is backed by London's free evening Newspaper  'The Evening Standard' it's got a great potential audience and if it gets the programme mix right it could steal viewers from all the main existing terrestrial channels.

 After negotiations with Freeview and Sky the Local TV brand has managed to get channel 8 on Freeview and 117 on Sky, as the service is encrypted on satellite it won't appear on Freesat at least for the time being.  Those high profile slots in the prime area of the EPG are important in terms of grabbing eyeballs in the multi channel TV World and mean that flickers are more likely to  browse to the nascent station.

 Entertainment as well as news is the section of content that is all important to London Live and it's playing against big hitters like E4 and ITV2 to get in the TV minds of the young affluent viewers of the capital.

The current on-air barker format promo reveals  the channel to be a generalist one with plenty of   prime comedy running,  they're repeats but of high calibre offerings  like 2012, Peep Show and Green Wing.
The truth of the matter is that new TV channels often have a rocky start although London Live has the advantage of an improving economy and a bunch of attractive demographics  to pitch too, what it needs to offer a professional channel that stands up against the competitors but is also able to differentiate itself sufficiently to secure enough of that audience of around 10 million eyeballs to make its own identity clear this will ensure that it at least meets the monthly bills for running the station in the short to medium term.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Robert Dyas Ealing Opens & Metaphysics (1)

Yesterday I half planned to be present at the Opening of the new Robert Dyas in the Ealing Broadway centre, as it happened I didn't make it there until after lunch but was pleasantly surprised with the size of the shop and the range of their stock.The Shop replaces the Arcadia  branch that has been lost to the new Morrison's.
Robert Dyas Ealing -Now open

Although the shop is now open for business the 'full razzmatazz'  opening  will be taking place on Friday 4th April at 10.00 a.m. when the  owner Dragon's Den veteran Theo Paphitis will be cutting the ribbon.

A new shop in Ealing aimed at the
Polish community
 It's good to see new shops opening along with  new housing being created  and the centre of Ealing looks set to boom over the next few years (I hope).

1) Metaphysics

The term Metaphysics like so many philosophical terms was actually created many years ago in Greece the word is derived from the  Greek words metá ("beyond") and "physics".
Metaphysics is the term used to describe the branch of Philosophy that looks at what is beyond the subjects that are handled by science, what makes up matter from the smallest things we can perceive to the largest - The Cosmos.
Metaphysics isalso concerned with many of the other big concepts like the split between Mind and Matter.
Here's Kit Fine in conversation on a Philosophy Bites session in which tries to define what Metaphysics is..

Friday, March 21, 2014

Now Google Chromecast goes on sale in UK

Well it's taken a bit of time but the neat little Dongle or the back of your telly  from Google is now being made available in the UK.
The price  point at £30 is a little high when compared with Now TV box at £9.99  but very acceptable when compared with  Apple's £99  TV box .
Neat little Dongle

It's not too clear what it offers content-wise that will make it difficult to resist but Google are smart cookies and I expect they'll address this one way or another.
The arrival will though along with Roku's streaming stick drive move more UK viewers away from their 'boring' conventional linear TV routine  to the 'a la carte' delights of an easy to view IP TV life.
Here's the video showing the joys of Chromecast ...

'Making sense of our world' a presentation given by Professor Nick Braisby and Philosophy in (lots of) Minutes

Yesterday evening I went once more to the St. Mary's Road Ealing Campus site of the University of West London to attend a public lecture

This is the third of such events that I've attended and they've been great covering a wide variety of topics with engaging  delivery by knowledgeable  speakers and they're only a walk away from home.

Last night's talk was great in that it was by an accomplished academic and it neatly dovetailed into a topic that's on my radar at the moment (Analystics) but from a different angle (Psychology rather than Philosophy).

The title of the talk was  'Making sense of our world: Perspectives from the psychology of categorisation and deference' and it was delivered by the UWL's  Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Student Experience) Professor Nick Braisby who is a a Chartered Psychologist, and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Nick comes from Swansea and has had an impressive academic career to date including an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and a PhD from Edinburgh as he told us a little about his history he spoke of the inspiration he got from Carl Sagan and Konrad Lorenz (with his book Behind the Mirror it is clear that Nick took note of what Konrad espoused).

As Nick got into the theme of his research and academic interest  'Deference and Essentialism' he spoke about the importance for humans of classification and gave the example of how those who had not visited the campus and lecture hall before managed to navigate the journey including realising what were chairs and what were other attendees!

Nick showed a slide of Dogs and Cats showing how we allocated categories but then spoke about a 'doggy dog' and Philosophical and Psychological perspectives citing Aristotle (for Philosophy and forms)  and Medin (for Psychology)  .

Nick then spoke about the challenges that Captain Cook and his colleagues had when they arrived in Australia seeing creatures that they'd not encountered and the particular categories that a Platypus might fit into (It's a bit reptilian, but it's got a mammals warm blood and is almost a fish in some ways).

This look at categories then led to his research into experts and deference, if someone (an expert/authority figure) told us that Genetically Modified  chicken was not chicken would we agree? Well there were mixed results with some conforming and some resisting or showing 'contrariness' but in fact further research in this disputed territory showed a more complex negotiated result with communication and social norms playing a significant part.

Nick then spoke about work around deference done by Putnam in the Meaning of Meaning (1975) and  the philosopher Jerry Fodor (1998). 

Nick has also done work around categorisation of  Sexual Orientation (2009) with his partner Ian Hodges and Mental illness (2013) that have led him to believe that Essentialism is not supported.

Following the presentation Nick answered questions on:

Q Why were his researches generally binary inviting yes or no when many responses elicited more nuanced or creative  answers particularly when children were responding ?

A It was easier to analyze and often people did have a yes/no answer

Q. Are there similarities with Wittgenstein's work?

A . Yes it is, perhaps tied in with intentions 

Q How do History and fantasy play into concepts and deference 

A Yes they do play in (particularly History) and are interesting 

At the end of the  lecture Nick's  view was clear that Concepts have Multiple senses perhaps a view that many of us  would  agree with from our real life experiences but for me I felt  that (surprisingly to me ) the Psychological framework and research appeared woolly and less rigorous than an exhaustive philosophical analysis would demand.

Introduction to my trip with ' Philosophy in Minutes' book 

Last year I completed a somewhat exhaustive look at a book about 'Big Ideas' by Ian Crofton I've just got a similar volume called Philosophy in Minutes again with 200 concepts and I am to struggle through this volume in a similar way.

As I try to make some sense I will also be using The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and of course Wikipedia and Youtube.

The author of  the  Philosophy in Minutes  book  (it's published by Quercus at £7.99)  is a guy called Marcus Weeks, who has worked as amongst other things a musician , language teacher and writer - I'd like to thank Marcus for attempting the subject matter covered in this wide ranging book, it's the sort of thing that children should be set at school but of course aren't.

The first thing Marcus does is explain the field of study and some of the categories which make up what we call  Philosophy -the ones he mentions are:

Metaphysics - as Bradley says 'Bad reasons for what we believe on instinct',

Epistemology - Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as "theory of knowledge",

Ontology - Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations,

Ethics -a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct,


Political Philosophy -  the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gravitational Waves & News of My Energy Provider Change Process

Recent news that evidence of Gravitational Waves found as part ofd the BICEP2 Project  has actually got as far as the mainstream media, I mentioned recently that I had watched a BBC Horizon programme about doubts around the Big Bang and what had happened before it.

Gravitational waves can be considered as ripples through space-time and are made by the motion of anything massive through space. when you throw a ball into a pond the ripples created will move away from the point of impact and bounce around the pond’s surface. These gravitational waves can be thought of similarly, but instead of rippling across a surface, they propagate at the speed of light through 3-dimensional space. They are theorized to be generated by the collisions of black holes and are thought to have been generated in abundance by the inflationary period just after the Big Bang around 13 billion years ago.

The Guardian offers some explanation of the idea which goes back to Albert Einstein here.

The concept of Gravitational Waves is part of the Inflation/Big Bang Theology and those who have seen this news as confirmation of their beliefs include Stephen Hawking.

And here's a video

Moving to Ovo

Following my own kicking off of the process to move to a cheaper energy provider I have in the last week received from Ovo indication of the mechanics and a provisional changeover date in early April.
I have also had a phone call from our current provider (British Gas) who confirmed that the process was ongoing, they asked to say why I was changing and I explained that it was price, British Gas said they were sorry to lose me as a customer and would (with my agreement) look to see if they could match the  Ovo offer, they have not to date called me back with an improved deal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Jealous Prize

I could not ignore an invitation to see works awarded  The jealous Prize, it's such an intriguing (and it seems prestigious) thing to get.
Although I understand that  jealousy is a sin it is one that does confer some sort of honour to the one that you're jealous of - so I went along last night to the Saatchi Gallery by Sloane Square to see what the recipients had done to be awarded their honour.

 The Prize Fine Art MA  is in fact named for the gallery (The Jealous Gallery)  that provides the prize and it
My fave
does seem a worthwhile concept, awarding  graduates from the well known galleries in London including Central St Martins and Goldsmiths.

Of the works on show by Sean Penlington (Chelsea College of Art and Design), Olivia Kemp (Wimbledon College of Arts), Charlie Billingham (Royal Academy Schools) Nicola Thomas (Royal Academy of Arts) Trevor Abbot (Camberwell School of Art), Teo Ormond-Skeaping ((Slade) and Mitra Saboury ((Goldsmiths)   I would say  the print I liked best was 'A Safe Zone' by   Hwa Seon Yang  who completed her MA at Saint Martin's.
Hwa Seon Yang seems to be an intriguing figure and it will be a revelation to see how her work develops over the coming years.
There was printing too

The visit included free drinks and the gave me the chance to see some posh looking people but it was rather crowded and not a big space so this meant that it was not easy to really look at the works

As part of the show there was some actual printing going on - probably not as messy as I'd expected  but we're talking about some really beautiful prints.

The Lebanese cafe Comptoir nearby is now open and I'd like to try it some time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Philosophy and the challenges of the Analytics -

Next to CityLit
The format of the sessions in the course 'Ways into philosophy: great thinkers' at London's City Lit works well for me - although I find the endeavour challenging to say the least, looking and reading the Magee discussions does at least prepare me for the area of study and  our leader Scott Biagi does all the tremendous  favour each week of making us feel that learning has taken place  in the 2 hour sessions.

Now on first confronting the Philosophers who we were making at least a cursory look at this week I must admit I felt a degree of discomfiture, the very clear break from Philosophers who shared some of the values of Freud and others in the field of Psychology  was jarring and Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege  seemed very mathematical and 'cold'.

Bertrand Russell

What the German mathematician Gottlob and the British academic Russell saw was that there was  something lacking in mathematics around defining the elements  and to address this they concerned themselves with was the formalisation of ordinary language statements into a logical language.

I have though been somewhat won around by the discussion and explanation as to the importance of language and definition - it's clunky and hard work but without the right ground rules is it difficult to make progress on understanding -the mathematical formulas used in this branch of philosophy  look intimidating though  - here's one ~[(∃x)(Mx & Gx) & ∀y((My & Gy) → y=x)].

It was interesting to hear that in academia the split between Analytics and non-Analytics is almost absolute with each side finding little common ground with the other.

Gottlob and Russell did communicate and Russell discovered flaws in the work of the German mathematician.

Interestingly the two were very different in character Gottlob was an early supporter of German nationalism  and  something of an  inconsistent anti-Semitic with extreme right-wing political opinions.

Russell is remembered now more for his role as a peace activist and backing of the CND, Beatle Paul McCartney claims to have met Russell and discussed the Vietnam war with him ( but probably not  formalisation of ordinary language statements into a logical language).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Golden Raspberry fields forever and Pubs in decline

I keep meaning to draw up a plan for plot 202 but in fact find that it organically (as you'd hope) develops.
Today I was clearing some more weeds for an area where this year I'll plant potatoes and Adrianna from an adjacent plot very kindly  proffered half a dozen Yellow/Golden  raspberry bushes - I had an area almost clear next to the raised Strawberry bed and it seemed custom made for this  soft fruit so they're in and hopefully in a few months will be producing some tantalizing  fruit.

Walpole Park

I know that town centres get redeveloped but it seems odd to see tractors and builders adjusting a local park. 
Here in Ealing Walpole Park one of the biggest parks in the area that is the  home to both Ealing Jazz and
Is this what happens to Public Parks? 
comedy festivals each summer is having a makeover.
The change is planned and mapped out to deliver a functional 'space', as we move out of the most recent economic downturn it's good to see new buildings going up and areas being brought back to life but do we need a more organic approach?

The Kent

And it's not just the Councils and Government who transform our shared spaces.

30 years or so ago when I was  new to London life West Ealing's Kent Public House was a pub where you could go for a pint and on some occasions there'd be a Jazz band playing, Fast Forward to today and  it's still called a Public House and is doing well - but now there's no smoking and certainly no live Jazz music  now it's more like a themed restaurant than a place to get drunk.
When we went on Sunday evening there were plenty of people
Used to be a 'local'
 eating and you could still get a pint but it's clear the direction of travel for this and  for many pubs is towards  the licensed eatery trade and when  the journey's complete  the historic link with the Hogarth-ian Pubs with their Drunks and Harlots will be gone  forever and the warmth and revelry will be replaced with function and value - perish the day.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Greening the Vale, HHG2TG along with Mentoring, fixing and progressing..

Greening the Vale is a video produced by the Alan Miller and is one of many productions supporting  the goals of the UK 'Transition project' this onbe coming out of the Vale of Eveaham .
It's a really nicely shot and edited (by former ITN cameraman Mike Coe)  and highlights some of the environmental issues that can get overlooked by the mainstream media - if you get a chance take a look, you'll learn about  the possibility of vastly reducing your carbon footprint and see the  pleasure that locally produced food  can bring.

BBC RADIO 4 EXTRA REPLAYS Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy  

I would not describe myself as either  a science fiction fan or someone who likes 'fantasy' entertainment but I do consider the work of Douglas Adams very highly, his early death has robbed us of some great amusing and insightful writing.
What a treat it is for Radio 4 Extra to provide a 36th year anniversary rerun of the series that brought him to the publics attention?
To me it still sounds fresh and modern - and there are some great jokes like the  'I wish I'd listened to my mother' from episode 2.
What I found curious about Douglas was his near obsession in getting the story transferred to film, the idea that even with a mega budget such a complex and engaging story could be realised is a 90 minute Hollywood Blockbuster seemed naive and counter intuitive - it's a cliche that Radio has the best pictures but in the caser of HHG2TG  a true one.

What gives us satisfaction.

The idea of doing something for nothing (no monetary reward) can sometimes seem odd, let's face it the rules of business are often summed up by phrases like 'Time's money' or 'What can we charge them?'.
Well now think back to your life in school which I'm hoping was not always miserable or bad - so specifically think back to time you enjoyed it could be on the Sports Field, in the laboratory or (hold your breath) in a class - well some of it was fun wasn't it?

So why was it fun? Did something click, were you pleased with some painting you'd done or just the sheer pleasure of running along with a ball at your feet?

Fast forward a number of years and you're employed - yes even here we can have pleasure - but is in connected with monetary reward, probably not it's perhaps helping someone or solving a problem or doing a task to your own satisfaction.

In fact I heard or read somewhere that one of the problems with work is that rewards are often stated as 'compensation packages', you're being compensated for giving up your time to do something you don't want to do with a bunch of other people who you might not choose to be with.

Well what I would say is 'If you can, do what makes you happy.' and hopefully it's a positive thing (however that's defined!)


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Starting work on Greenhouse

Last week I mentioned that I was going to add a small greenhouse to Plot 202. Well B&Q dispatched the unit in a most timely way and it arrived on Tuesday afternoon as mentioned I bought some concrete slabs to create a greenhouse base Yesterday I spent some time in the early spring sunshine, lining them up ready for the addition. Plan is to put some sand around the slabs to further level and fill gaps hopefully I will then be able to secure the  structure onto the base - will see how this goes.
This year we have had some quite strong winds and I don't want to be recovering pieces of my Greenhouse from neighbouring boroughs so some fixing will be needed.

Tony Benn - Another Iconic Figure of The Left  Dies.

Yesterday was another sad day for those of us who take an interest in political debate - Tony Benn's death at the age of 88 was announced.
I never saw Benn  in the flesh but my brother Nick fought a
the Chesterfield By-election (1984)  against him and said he was a nice guy. Certainly he was of the  upper class 'toffs' variety of left winger but he was the sort of maverick that all major parties should have. Benn has split those on the left in death far more than Bob Crow, as Harold Wilson a man for a great quote summed him up so well with 'he immatures with age'

Adding the tiles

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We finally visit Harris + Hoole in Ealing

Street Art or Statement?
On Tuesday when I was in town I snapped this  image (left)  just north of  Centre Point in W1.

It's rather cool whoever did it and what ever it means are not revealed from searches.
It does trigger the thought on the ubiquity of brands and branding.

Yesterday having been and bought some stuff ahead of the erection of a small greenhouse on plot 202 we stopped of in Ealing and finally tried the 'Harris + Hoole' located in the main high street.

As pluses the service was more friendly than some of the competitors, the loyalty card a touch more generous ( 6 coffees earn you a freebie)   and the fayre a little more varied against this I would say that it is at the upper end of the branded coffee experience and it is rather poorly laid out on the ground floor  for those taking their coffee on the premises.

My other half had the hot chocolate which was quiet enjoyable for her but not as good as the more chocolate- ey (and less milky) Nero.

Would I visit again? Possibly  but it's not so different that I'd search it out.

Loss of Bob Crow

Sad that Bob Crow should die at the age of 52 - he was a great negotiator for his members and something of an anachronism in what is now a rather grey world of trade union officials.
He recently secured the right to negotiations over changes to London Transport (he knew what he was doing despite my fears).
I wish the best to his family and friends who will suffer the loss of such a sudden departure.
I don't agree  with 'that it's the way he'd want to go or whatever' but hope that his life has left something of a legacy for working people to hold to.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Photo of the week (mine) -Crossrail

A couple of pictures I took yesterday while I was in town- the first is showing what is happening at Tottenham Court Road underground station, it drove me to find out what exactly Crossrail is expected to do and when.
What I've found out is that it'll finish (?) in 2019 but will start service in 2018 the reason for the project is not actually that clear to me - if you have the reason for this project which has a bigger spend  than the 2012 Olympics and is second only to HS2 do let me know.

My expectation is that apart from higher property prices in some areas of the South East it'll achieve little interesting article here (and the comments tell us a lot about Telegraph online readers).

Look what they've done to my station

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hegel, Marx and non-alienation

Today's session on philosophy was about Hegel and to a lesser extant  his errant disciple Marx. 

Hegels's logic is challenging and within it contradiction is taken seriously.

What I got from the lesson today was that Hegel had 3 major themes which were (I think) somewhat intertwined

History -  there is a historic dimension to thought and as time moves forward we move towards greater clarity through knowledge which bestows upon s 'freedom' .
The group existed before the individual .
We're progressing,History has a 'sweep'  and the Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis bring us closer to this, synthesis is in fact not necessarily an easy option somewhere between the two polar opposites that might describe the Thesis and Antithesis.

Geist - The Geist is about something that is not God but is spiritual (or as characterized by course leader Scott linked with Societal groups).

Alienation (which as a theme was adopted by Marx) leads to 'the negation of the negation'.
A rather charming film clip from  a  brilliantly written script (by Pinter) which was a great film  'The Servant' was attached to the quote  'I'm a Gentleman's Gentleman but you're no Gentleman'  as we saw The Bondsman and the Lord epitomised. by Fox And Bogarde.

What I personally experienced on my return after the lesson was the opposite of alienation (I think), someone I knew in a car tooted an acknowledgement and a stranger greeted me  in a most friendly manner.

This of course does not mean that Hegel (and Marx) are wrong all around us there are examples of how society and economic exchange can alienate us or how our attribution of the good is attributed   to a god or God .

Monday, March 10, 2014

Newtonians and Richard Duncan Rudin

Last weeks' BBC TV Horizon  - What happened before the big bang was another example of how good TV can broaden and extend  the knowledge   of its viewers, I was prior to the programme somewhat ignorant of Edwin Hubble's work only associating with the famous telescope.

Hubble - more than a telescope
What I learned was that Hubble was the guy who observed that the universe was dynamic and expanding, the idea of this expansion is such that it leads to the idea of the formation being from a 'big bang' this had until fairly recently been the accepted wisdom for the formation of our (and perhaps all) universes.

Now in several research facilities this theory is being questioned and a number of ideas are being researched - I must say my mind felt further stretched at the end of the programme - what is a vacuum - is it just something with gas removed?

What I took from this  Horizon programme  was the idea that a big mystery exists not only in the very small sub atomic engineering research but also in the Cosmology which  seeks to answer how we started to exist and  in another way seek to answer the question of  what all 'this' is about.

The question here concerned how we can envisage what might happen without/before time - can Time not exist is it another construction?

So tomorrow the Philosophy session that I attend at CityLit is about Hegel and Marx- as I venture further into the field of Philosophy I become more aware of how connected it is with Physics and the other
Newton - modern father of determinism 
In the events that have coloured our view of reality Newton, Darwin  and Copernicus have been big figures whose central ideas have helped create the modern world view.  The question though is do their theories go beyond being theories -or  are they merely solutions which 'seem' to fit?

Newton in particular with his work on Gravity and motion provides  physical equations which if consistent and true removes free will and replaces it with determinism - can this be correct?


Nice to see that I have a highly regarded (by me) follower in the twitosphere - he'll not get to much noise or anything else from me though -check out Richard Duncan Rudin.
A foggy  follower

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Dishwashers in Richmond and the Wholefoods Market there.

Having yesterday seen the touring production of The  Dishwashers by the Canadian writer Morris Panych I would say that it has much to recommend it.

The themes in the play  covered are major ones but it is achieved with a lightness of  touch and warm
humour, avoiding to a large degree simple cliché and leaving the  audience thinking about there own lives which is to my mind  no easy goal.

The play is set in a single setting the home of the working 'Dishwashers' of the title and celebrates the near Zen like existence of the workers who wash dishes in a swanky restaurant their discussions and conflicts  reflect without pretentiousness what happens in the wider society.

The staging of the drama was naturalistic and the acting top rate, it was a 'tour de force' by the three main actors David Essex, Rik Makeram and  Andrew Jarvis.

The play was for me a philosophical one  with Essex  a seemingly stoic figure, a Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill regardless of the unending pile of dirty plates emerging from the dumb waiter.

It was interesting to see David Essex holding the audience so capably ,  there was still something of  the 1970s  pop singer  I recall from my youth but now he is very much the actor, with timing and stagecraft gleaned from stage and TV performing Essex was the initial London Che in Evita and had a lead role in the successful Eastenders TV Soap opera.

Here's a review from when the production was in Birmingham.
and here's a sort of 'taster' from David's YouTube channel

Richmond Wholefoods Market

If you're in Richmond do pay a visit to the new-ish Richmond  Wholefoods Market, it's probably outrageously overpriced but it has helpful staff, nice ambiance and makes food shopping kind of fun.
New wholefood in Richmond 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Getting a Greener Energy Provider and Getting a Greenhouse

As a volunteer Financial Capability Trainer I've assisted in half a dozen or so 'Energy Best Deal presentations to various groups in West London and I recognise that understandably people are resistant to changing their Gas and Electricity suppliers.
One of my worries was that I would not be able to rely on British Gas's Homecare servicing service if I chose a more reasonably priced energy provider - having finally (after  three or four e-mails!) got the answer that this cover would not be affected. I decided to take a look at how easy a change would be and
 used the 'Which' energy service  to look at providers as the Which service is well regarded and I had told is trustworthy.
By filling in a web form with details of energy consumption I was provided with several cheaper options including a British Gas option that would save around £160 for the year (assuming the same energy consumption), I was temporarily tempted by this 'fixed' deal but on considering it decided that  if I could get a better deal (to all intents the same Electricity and Gas would be arriving at our home) I should choose it particularly as the favoured supplier Ovo was more highly regarded by users than my present one. Ovo also has the bonus that it is a Greener' company battling the 'big-six (as we saw when the energy companies were grilled by UK parliamentarians) .
Ovo looks over £200 a year cheaper than our present deal - I've got to wait for a contract to arrive by post and the process will then start of migration to the new deal - be assured any hiccups will be reported here.

Greenhouse Purchase

One of my many bad poits is that when I've saved some money I tend to spend it (sometimes more than once but that's another story), although it's 6-8 weeks before we go onto our new energy deal I decided the time was right to take advantage of B&Q's excellent deal on a Harmony greenhouse  the model in question is selling at more than £225 at many suppliers and has good reviews - it's ordered I will have to sort out  and level a spot to erect it on but hey happy days!
The Harmony 6 x 4 Greenhouse

Thursday, March 06, 2014

BBC3 TV to close/go online only and on Plot 202

The announcement  that the BBC 3 TV channel which is aimed at a young audience is to disappear from our TV guides is an interesting  piece of news.
The channel which has premiered new ideas and been a nursery for new strands looks set to be decimated by the decision.

The BBC has struggled of late to fully justify encampment in all areas of TV, Radio  and on-line both from the point of view of crowding out commercial activity and on the grounds of creating content that is not
necessarily in tune with the Reithian values of Entertain, Educate and Inform.

Management within the organisation are able to point to the non-linear habits of its viewers as a reason to make the bold decision to go away from the conventional broadcast model but some are saying that as well as freeing up some cash it will enable the already announced BBC1 + 1 channel to have a slot when it starts

The message that the  move to a purely online delivery makes is  confusing to say the least, content delivered by the Internet costs far more per view than traditional broadcast means and removes a large section of the audience   (the so called digital 'refuse-nicks')  - look here for more details on the capacity the BBC use  the idea that BBC 3 will continue as a channel is hard to credit and the indication that the content budget for the channel will remain is also questionable.

Performers and producers are already being interviewed, tweeting and raising the issue of the loss of the channel but there are those within the BBC who will be pleased that this experiment looks set to end.

Do we suspect that the BBC anticipates a large scale uprising by the 'youth' for their channel a la the earlier plans to remove Radio Channels BBC 6 and the BBC Asian services?

With many modern TV's the idea of an IP delivered branded BBC 3 TV is easy enough to envisage but it will not (I fear) carry equal weight of the linear channels.

I would expect  BBC 4 (another possible target) and ITV 2 bosses to be happy at the news but not too sure who else  will celebrate.

Give Peas a chance

On the Plot

Yesterday was a splendid day weather-wise and as well as popping some peas into modules I spent some
Let's hope there'll be fruit
 time on Plot 202, moved some Strawberry runners to the raised bed and also did further weeding. Fruit trees generally looking healthy with Conference pear beginning to bud.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mr Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche does not offer an easy ride.

Recurrence in West London
Until the introduction to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche I thought Schopenhauer was a challenge but having today  made a very brief acquaintance with his realm of interest I am intrigued but somewhat bemused by his take on some of the big questions.

 Having watched and read the dialogue between Magee and Stern I thought I had something of an idea of Fred's  angle but it seems that he was not a 'Philosopher' as much as he was a cultural critique and essayist.
Prior to Freud Nietzsche was a 'Freudian' and much of hist thought is concerned with the mysterious workings of the  subconscious, although chiefly remembered as the man whose catchphrase was God is Dead he also thought about recurrence and has been (perhaps unfairly) been given the title of Philosopher to the Nazis.

In his brief life (1844- 1900)  Nietzsche who was initially on the path to being a priest  suffered poor health and having lost his father at the age of five his early life was dominated by women . Nietzsche suffered what some would term a 'broken hart' as a result of his unrequited love for Lou Andreas-Salomé and lived his
She didn't want him
later years in an asylum.

Our course leader when prompted by one of the group started the session today with what seemed at face value to be an example of Nietzsche's unreconstructed misogyny for a collective critique. What I took from this dissection of the sections 237A and 238 from 'Beyond Good and Evil' was that  Nietzsche's prose must be considered critically before passing judgment on it.

Similarly as we looked at sections from other works including The Gay Science, On Truth and Lies in Nonmoral Sense there were questions that were challenging which Nietzsche did not offer simple solutions to his idea of  'Superman' has it seems been widely misinterpreted .
As well as being a seminal figure in modern philosophy   Nietzsche was hugely influential on some of the great figures in literature  including George Bernard Shaw and Herman Hesse.

Here's an introduction to the man..

Monday, March 03, 2014

Getting help to people in the right way

This  E7 bus driver needs some lessons
in customer care
There are a number of issues I have encountered in the last week which include bloody minded bus drivers who don't let people on to their vehicles for some unknown reason - even when it's pouring with rain.

But the challenges when  you're involved in delivering services to people who find themselves undergoing really  challenging  situations in their lives can of course be even more serious

The changes in UK benefits and rising energy prices are a challenge to all but for people who have too much month at the end of their money it can lead to stress and for many family/relationship  tensions.

How do you reach and help people, how do you avoid being patronising and what can you use to measure
Is this where we meet clients?

I've been helping with some initiatives that the CAB are working on in West London and would say that so far the benefits to those (few) attending have been mixed.

The primary things I've noted are:

1) The audience - it needs to want to address the issues and they should be ready for hearing messages that need to be faced up to.

2) The messages  need to be delivered in an engaging way for effective communication to take part  - people are used to high quality  professional graphics and being treated as sophisticated clients - they are resistant to being grilled about their circumstances and what would seem irrelevant (for example their racial background and sexual orientation).

3) Speaking to the right people with the right 'voice' at the right place - some of the presentations I've been to have been held in Public Libraries  - true these are now more welcoming places than in years gone by but many people in need of help do not feel at home in a Library, they need the vernacular to be used and to feel that they're being treated as adults.

Apart from the  issues above I'd add how do you get people  (the ones who really need it) to know what's on offer from the CAB without this you're whistling pretty much in the dark.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

More seeds set & Stop the Naming of the August Bank Holiday as Margaret Thatcher Day

Seed selection
Today I've got round to sowing some further seeds and transplanting the Iceberg lettuces sown a couple of weeks back.

I reckon unless we have a prolonged period of drier weather there could be a challenge in getting things growing on the allotment
Today the sowing has been Peppers (Sweet California Wonder), Broccoli, Lemon Grass and  Cabbage (Golden Acre- Primo) the room where the seed trays are housed  is  beginning to get a little congested and April will be another month of starting things off.
Hopefully next week or so I will plant some peas outside in modules with a view to planting out soon.

Thatcher Bank holiday?

It was news to me that the late August bank holiday is going to be used to commemorate Margaret Thatcher - I'm not a fan of hers but regardless of this even if I was I do not consider it a sensible step to start to make such national days partisan in this way - if you agree that this is a step too far sign the petition against this strange idea.
Surely some mistake?

[I had to go and double check this as it does seem so very odd and I think it has not really been debated the way it should - it is true!]

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Recognition at last - Picture of the Week & Ealing Police

My published photo'
Yesterday morning I was looking at the local newspaper (The Ealing Gazette) over my breakfast and thought ‘oh that photo looks like one I took’  I then realised it was the one I had taken and submitted - quite nice to see it published and odd that my first thought was it looks like.

Please note if you see the picture in the paper I am not responsible for the slightly cheese-y wording that goes with it.

I suppose that although I know that it's not for a prize or that it's anything big it is slightly odd that they didn't let me know that they'd be using the picture - I'd submitted the picture by e-mail  so a simple reply would have done the job.

Stopped but not searched

On Friday evening unusually I went to  a fairly local pub The Plough to meet up with a small group of people, I only had a pint and around 10:30 pm I left to walk home, just beyond Northfields Station a police car drew up to me and one of the guys in the car asked me where I'd been and to see my hands - it was all handled in a polite manner - but unusual I was told I answered the description of someone they were after - not sure
West Ealing Pub
about what they'd have seen on my hands?

Odd that after so many years I should get stopped by the police but no harm done to me or my view of the local force.