I’ve just downloaded this week’s Philosophy Bites podcast. it’s on Bentham and Utilitarianism and…

by David on February 11, 2012

I've just downloaded this week's Philosophy Bites podcast. it's on Bentham and Utilitarianism and the guest philosopher is…Philip Schofield.

I've never heard of an academic by the name of Philip Schofield but I'm imagining it's not the same Philip Schofield who used to hang out on Saturday morning TV with Gordon the Gopher.

So Berlin at Easter then. It’s over 20 years since I was there last, the first time Helen and I f…

by David on February 11, 2012

So Berlin at Easter then.

It's over 20 years since I was there last, the first time Helen and I flew together on holiday. Foster's Reichstag hadn't been started, it was my first encounter with the German Poo Shelf, and we had an excellent couple of days. A place so redolent with history you expect it to deliver profundities at every street corner, which of course it doesn't do. But here you'll find the Brandenburg Gate; Unter den Linden; a Le Corbusier tower block; the Bebelplatz, formerly Opernplatz, where the Nazis burned books in 1933 and where today Heine's terribly prophetic words are engraved: That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also

And the Bauhaus museum; and the '36 Olympics Stadium where Jesse Owens's name is carved into the wall many times ; and the bust of Nefertiti in the Pergamon; and maybe a photo of Helen sitting on the knee of Karl Marx Karl-Marx-Platz, if it's still there.

A fascinating town.

Seems that Interpol is now helping enforce Saudi Arabia’s apostasy laws. Interpol also issued a r…

by David on February 11, 2012

Seems that Interpol is now helping enforce Saudi Arabia's apostasy laws. Interpol also issued a red notice for a West Papuan activist who'd been granted asylum in the UK.

As with the UN, these international bodies seem a fine idea for as long as they're helping to support free, open, liberal democracies. When the rest of the world signs up, though, there's a danger of them being hijacked. If you've followed the disturbing efforts around U.N. Human Rights Resolution 16/18 which is attempting to establish standards for criminalising negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of … religion and belief you'll understand what I mean.

And when we can't use these international bodies ourselves to – for example – pass a resolution condemning Syria then I do begin to wonder if we want to carry on playing the game.
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Saudi Arabia used Interpol's system to get journalist arrested in Malaysia for insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Twitter

A tarantella is a fast dance originating in Italy and is supposed to have prevented death from th…

by David on February 11, 2012

A tarantella is a fast dance originating in Italy and is supposed to have prevented death from the bite of a wolf spider, the tarantula.

Athanasius Kircher is a slightly mysterious 17th Century Jesuit scholar once described as the last Renaissance man.

This is a tarantella by the great man. Christina Pluha and L'Arpeggiata do the honours.
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Taken form their official site – http://www.arpeggiata.com/ only for a more convenient listenning in

It seems that according to current Government guidelines the Queen is a binge drinker.

by David on February 11, 2012

It seems that according to current Government guidelines the Queen is a binge drinker.

According to Margaret Rhodes, the Queen's cousin, HM's alcohol intake never varies. She takes a gin and Dubonnet before lunch, with a slice of lemon and a lot of ice. She will take wine with l…

Need to get serious with my development environment again and script Git commits and pushes for a…

by David on February 5, 2012

Need to get serious with my development environment again and script Git commits and pushes for all the projects I'm working on across to my NAS. Something to get sorted this week. Should do something similar at work, really.

Piano tuner round again

by David on February 5, 2012

Piano tuner round again

It’s a few years now since I started the @cdarwin Twitter stream – http://twitter.com/cdarwin – t…

by David on February 5, 2012

It's a few years now since I started the @cdarwin Twitter stream – http://twitter.com/cdarwin – tweeting snippets from the diary Darwin wrote as he travelled around the world on HMS Beagle. In Beagle time it's now February 1836 and this year he returns to England, first to London and then to Down House (now a public museum), never to set foot outside the country again.

Carefully reading his diary to select excerpts to tweet, or choosing snatches from contemporaneous letters for those times when he wasn't pouring observations into his diary, has been the closest I've ever come to a historic figure. Three things strike me about him when he was so young, just in his mid-twenties: his careful observation; his thoughtfulness about what he had observed; and his temperance.

He didn't idly notice things and let them pass by and he didn't make assertions without evidence and reason. He recorded the geology, the fauna and flora, the people, the climate; and then he pondered them to arrive at conclusions.

And his temperance. A cardinal virtue, temperance; moderation and restraint in both thought and feeling. Darwin was an equable chap, almost always controlled and calm. You could do worse than take him as a model.
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The Low Anthem combines folk and blues arrangements with the elegance of chamber music and the fervo

The great BBC R4’s In Our Time this week is on the Kama Sutra. My parents, when i was a child, ow…

by David on February 2, 2012

The great BBC R4's In Our Time this week is on the Kama Sutra. My parents, when i was a child, owned only two books that might loosely be described as classics – the Kama Sutra and Lady Chatterley's Lover. Slightly odd.

From what I remember, the Kama Sutra was far and away the more interesting and better written of the two. Never liked Lawrence since.

In 1978 [Chinese per capita GDP] was $978. So we’ve a 6 or 7 times improvement … in the time be.…

by David on February 2, 2012

In 1978 [Chinese per capita GDP] was $978. So we’ve a 6 or 7 times improvement … in the time between my sitting my O levels and my writing now… the UK was at $974 in 1600 AD: we didn’t get to $6700 odd until 1948. What took us 450 years in economic development has taken China some 45

Someone, somewhere, is doing the right thing in terms of improving Chinese life, aren’t they? Might actually be something to this don’t have Maoist stupidity and embrace neoliberal global capitalism maybe?

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No, not quite: the Chinese themselves stopped having an economic system which denied the possibility of creating those jobs. They abandoned Maoist idiocy back in 1978 or so. When we look at what the c…