Raymond Tallis: A "philosopher" who is either ignorant or in bad faith.

I was listening to the BBC Start The Week podcast a few weeks ago. It was called "Dissecting Death", and was about death. Halfway through this bloke, introduced as a "philospher", Raymond Tallis came on. I've heard him waffle on other programs before. He just published a 700 page (yes seven hundred page) book about time and lamentation.

The other guests on the program were intelligent informative and interesting:
Mark O'Connell talked about transhumanists, Carla Valentine talked about life and death behind mortuary doors, and Laura Yunbridge spoke about late works of artists. But all Tallis could say was: "Physicists have shrunk time to little 't'. So it can be squared or used as a denominator in an equation. Well you'd never do that to an afternoon..."

Now why did a "philospher" say such stupid things? I can think of only answers:

Answer 1) He is ignorant of how time is still an important and large mystery to scientists. He is ignorant of any physics research/thought into time and space since he left school. At school he maybe he learned those few equations which deal with speed and acceleration. He thinks that since he left school (maybe because he left) all physics research into time stopped. He is a "philosopher". Hasn't heard of Wittgenstein's saying: "Whereof we know knothing thereof we must remain silent"?

Answer 2) He is in bad faith. He knows he is being flippant. He knows that the few equations he remembers from school (or has looked up) have nothing much to do with the real physics mystery of time. He is playing to an arts audience who have trouble adding 41 to 32 (and are proud of the difficulty). Maybe they'll buy his little 700 page book and feel they can grasp the the reality of time that way.

Whichever answer is true, he can't be listened to seriously. If he is ignorant and/or in bad faith how can we believe whatever else he pronounces on? Shouldn't we expect a bit more rigour in the arguments of a philosopher?

One last, er, idiocy, he said was that it was impossible to live in the moment because the moment is infinitely small. So suddenly he has gone all calculus on us? So he has never experienced the sudden and fleeting pleasure of seeing something in nature which will not repeat itseld? The swoop of a bird, or a cloud which transforms itself second by slow second into a different abstract shape?

If you want to know about the physics of relativity time and space I can recommend this book:

It shows you step by step how the equations come about. To be honest I had to write my own extra explanatory notes to myself to be able to completely understand it, but that was an education in itself. Microstep by microstep I saw the strangeness of time. Real strangeness. And remember your GPS would not work without Einsteins Theory Of Relativity. And there'd be no medical scanners without physicists.


Who was the marketing genius who got to associate SEAT with crime, death and drug dealing?

Crime dramas on ITV1 are currently sponsored by SEAT. But who was the marketing genius who persuaded SEAT to associate their good looking cars with death, crime, missing persons and drug dealing? Take Vera for example. Just before the start of an episode, and at the end of each commercial break, there is an ad which associates a SEAT car with a crime scene. All the ads are shot at nighttime. Some examples I can remember:
  1. A woman in white walking in the middle of the road picked out by the SEAT's headlights.
  2. A message to a missing mother (really? a missing mother?) on the smartphone (presumably connected to the SEAT's electronics system).
  3. A nasty looking package lying in the dark near a white SEAT car.
  4. A man who drops something as he closes the boot of his SEAT car, probably a clue after his murder in a few minutes time.
Surely they could have come up with something more reassuring. Something which suggests that SEAT cars are solidly reliable and will keep you safe even in the urban night environment. 

Every time I see a SEAT car now I think of murder, death, crime...


Since I wrote the above the other day I think I have changed my mind. I was thinking about a supermarket logo (Tigros) which annoys me...

...and I've vaguely thought I'd never go to a their shops. Then they open one directly on my route to and from work...and in I pop. 

I don't like the logo because it is aggressive and twee at the same time, with the tiger in one two tone 2D style, while the apple is colourful with a shadow to give a 3D look. But though it annoys me it does not stop me shopping there, which leads me to think that much marketing/logo design/adverts have no effect whatsoever.

So maybe I will have a look at a SEAT car the next time it is time to buy a new car. Hopefully not for years...

Marketing (apparent failures or successes) does not always beat convenience and price.


Usually the cat doesn't get to sleep in the bedroom

Usually the cat doesn't get to sleep in the bedroom, but one evening he snuck in and arranged himself on my pillow, near my head.

I could hear his purring quite loud. I like gentle sounds when I go to sleep, distant trains, planes, dogs barking, even cars. So I enjoyed listening, in the dark, to his purrs. Then slowly they faded away and all I could hear was him breathing deeply.

I'd heard him fall asleep, it was wonderful feeling.


Food: The most important thing is that I don't have to clean up much afterwards.

I don't mind other people cooking for me, as long as I don't have to clean the messy pans with sticky sauces, congealed cheese etc. Apart from the fact that I dont' eat fish or meat, the most important thing is that I don't have to do much washing up. I've developed a dish which means that I only have a single bowl and a single spoon to clean. 

Here are the ingredients:

Apart from the vegetables (which you can vary according to what you have on hand) and the beans, there's olive oil, turmeric, cumin seeds and balsamic vinegar. Chop up the vegetables, add the other ingredients and...


(My family have given up and now allow me to eat my salad with spoon.)


Orion over my roof

A few nights ago I went onto the balcony to have a look at the loverrrly sky to the east:

Then I looked behind me, over the roof, to the west. And there was my favourite constellation, Orion. His belt is made of the three stars in an almost horizontal line you can see in the center of the photo:

It is not a great photo, but you can see the real thing these days if you live in the northern hemisphere and look east. And the real thing is a real wonder. In the photo Rigel is the star, below the belt, which is almost touching the roof. And Betelgeuse is the one above the belt and in line with Rigel. When you look at the constellation for real you'll be amazed at how these two stars have definite colours, Rigel is blue and Betelgeuse is orange. 

Follow the line of the belt leftwards and you'll find Sirius, the Dog star, the brightest star in the sky. In the photo is is near the end of an antenna.

Go back to the belt and extrapolate along it to the right, you'll find another bright star, this time called Alderbaran.

If it is night-time, and you're in the northern hemisphere, and there is a clear sky, and you're just browsing the web on the sofa (with the TV on in the background) it is really really worth getting up, going outside and having a look for Orion, Sirius and Aldebaran. Use your own real naked eyes, they be receiving light direct from the stars and not from a pixel on a screen...