Science and Magic

As the West moves into the 21st century, it is experiencing a crisis of belief. Little by little, and in no particular order, we have lost confidence in political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, bankers, journalists, civil servants, broadcasters, economists, lawyers and celebrities of all types. Perhaps our parents and grandparents didn’t believe everything they … More Science and Magic

English

Because the English language is my bread and butter, this recent article on the BBC website caught my attention. The basic argument here is that English has ceased to be the property of native speakers and now belongs to the world. It isn’t that this idea is anything new – it’s restating something which I’ve … More English

Black Swan

Every swan in the world is white, as everybody in the seventeenth century knew. That is why the term ‘black swan’ was used to describe an impossibility; something that went against the natural order of things. Then, after 1697 when black swans were discovered in Australia, the term metamorphosed into the rather more interesting idea … More Black Swan

Ship of Fools

  It has been well said that the major disqualification for the exercise of power should be the wanting of it. Unfortunately, most ordinary people don’t even try to acquire power and so it’s left to those who crave it. Although power brings with it many obvious advantages – status, money and the best mates, … More Ship of Fools

The Worm Within

Try this simple thought experiment: A sane and normal-looking person stands up on a street corner and starts berating the leaders of his country. He angrily accuses them of incompetence and corruption and demands they be brought to justice for their activities. How long would this person be able to continue speaking and what would … More The Worm Within

Bubble Trouble

I called Western Civilisation the ‘Bubble’ in my first post, meaning that we inhabit a small and very privileged place in time and geography. In fact, a place that’s unique. But there’s an even more obvious characteristic of a bubble – its fragility. A bubble is so delicate and short-lived that you marvel that it … More Bubble Trouble

Haiku

Haiku are easy enough to define. They are traditional Japanese poems consisting of three lines; the first line has five syllables, the second seven syllables, the final one five syllables again.

Hey! Where Do You Think You’re Going with that Nanobot?

I recently read a prediction by Ray Kurzweil that made me stop and think. Kurzweil is Google’s ‘leading futurist’ and apparently a man greatly respected by Bill Gates. The prediction in question was that human brains will be directly connected to the internet, using nanobots. Now, leaving aside the nanobots for a moment, this is … More Hey! Where Do You Think You’re Going with that Nanobot?

The Minoans

When I was younger I spent some weeks island-hopping around the Aegean, ferry by ferry. The Cyclades, and Greece in general, floated in quieter waters in those days and you could get a better feel for the culture and history cast over the wine-dark sea.