Sunday, 2 September 2012

The future of earth

It is very possible we will wipe ourselves out. On the surface, this won't mean much to the earth, because species have been going extinct since there were species creeping around the primordial ooze. However, one of the two greatest dangers to the earth is a giant asteroid coming from deep space and hitting the earth.

Today, our modern greedy capitalist governments are trying to put weapons in space. These weapons might terrorize humans for generations, but they are also the fledgling technology required to destroy a 300 mile wide asteroid.

 The second greatest threat to the planet earth would be a run-away greenhouse effect, and it is a very real threat. However, a human created global warming is not the only way that this could happen. Venus is an example of a naturally occurring run-away greenhouse effect. The human-driven global warming is hopefully an incentive to create planet cooling technology faster.

**Technology is the ultimate weapon we have to wield on behalf of the earth; the only thing that separates us from any of the uncountable number of extinct species in earth's history.**

I know the instinct is to say that we should be preventing global warming, but all of this anthropogenic damage that you talk about has come from the progression of civilization. We would not be able to create vaccines, clone organs, or do complex surgeries with incisions no wider than a dime if we still lived an (environmentally friendly) pastoral existence. We would not have the amazing computing powers that we do now, and computers will be integral to our ability to track asteroids or travel to different galaxies.

If we did all suddenly lead a sustainable agricultural lifestyle, we would not create the technology needed to prevent future ice ages (because human propelled global warming and earth warming-cooling cycles can actually both exist) at which point the agriculture based human race would be under threat, (and without asteroid busting technology we're all likely going to die anyways)

And it's not just asteroid busting we have to worry about, it's asteroid tracking, which I hate to tell you we are putting a poor effort into right now. It is possible that the first inkling we will have that an asteroid is about to hit us is the feeling of being on fire.

Obviously we don't want to just fuck the earth up, because our rate of technological success is not guaranteed to outstrip environmental catastrophe. We don't want poisoned air and water to kill off all our future generations of scientists.

Space is ultimately the only hope for the human race, and our greatest threat. We will have to master inter-stellar travel at some point, but until then we have to make sure a giant asteroid doesn't vaporize us all.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Dinner, tea, supper, and British social class.

Shibboleth  n. [shib-uh-lith, ‐leth]
A peculiarity of language, pronunciation, or behavior, regarded as distinctive of a particular group, class, or  nation that distinguishes them from others.

In Canada and the US, "dinner" and "supper" might be used slightly differently by some people but are generally considered synonyms. However in Britain, the name you give your meal is a shibboleth that can instantly identify your social origin.

Working-class and lower-middle-class people are more likely to refer to the midday meal as "dinner" and the evening meal as "tea", which is eaten around 5:00-6:30 PM. They will have breakfast in the morning, and "elevenses" as a snack between breakfast and dinner.

In the middle ages, "Dinner"* referred to the first meal of a two-meal day. It was traditionally the the heaviest of the two meals, eaten around midday. Eventually, the meaning of "dinner" shifted, referring to the heaviest meal of the day, when "breakfast", a light meal eaten early, became the first meal. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the upper classes began to eat their main meal of the day later and later, while the working classes continued to have their heaviest meal, or dinner, at midday.  From 1738 onwards, the meal that followed a working class "dinner" was called "tea", later referred to as  "high tea"** and was eaten after work.

In today's society, people have to travel farther away from their homes to work, so the main meal is usually after work with the family. This means that "tea" may now be the largest meal of the day for working class families. To add another layer of confusion, working class people might have a small snack before bed and call that "supper", although it is not considered a meal.

Upper class people will eat "lunch" at 12:00PM. A "luncheon" is a noontime party where a meal is served, or a more formal lunch with guests.  To fill the increasing gap between lunch and the evening meal, upper class people in the 19th century had "afternoon tea" at about 4:00PM. Since many upper class people now have careers instead of estates, afternoon tea is no longer a daily occurrence, and is usually reserved for weekends or special occasions.

The upper class "afternoon tea" was very different from the working class "tea" that was served at 5:00PM. However, children of upper class families used to have their supper at 4:00-5:00PM, and their mother would sometimes eat with them instead of having afternoon tea, and then have a formal dinner afterwards.

Today, the upper class will refer to the evening meal as "supper" if it is informally eaten with the family at the kitchen table,(or if you are really wealthy, in an informal dining room) and it is eaten about 7:30 PM. "Dinner" refers to a more formal evening meal of several courses, eaten in the dining room, perhaps with guests and a dress code, and usually eaten from 8:30 onwards. (Think "dinner party")

Middle class people will eat "lunch" at 11:00AM. They refer to the evening meal as "dinner", regardless of formality, and eat it around 6:30-7:00 PM. Cafeteria meals in (state) schools are referred to as "school dinners". "Christmas Dinner" and "Sunday Dinner" refer to the main meal on those days, even though they are often eaten early (around 4:00PM).

If all this makes your head spin, now you know why these phrases are shibboleths; people go with what they know, therefore it is easy to recognize where they come from.

* Etymology: Dinner: from Old French disner "to eat, to dine, to have a meal", from Gallo-Romance desjunare "to break one's fast," from Latin dis- "undo" + jejunare "to fast"

 **Disambiguation: Outside of Britain, many people refer to "afternoon tea" (served with cakes, scones, sandwiches, and tea) as "high tea" but this is an incorrect usage. "High tea" is low class, but served on a high table, whereas "low tea", (which is what most people think of when they hear "high tea") is high class but served on a low table, like those found in a sitting room.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


I love running now. I have worked up to 16km (10 miles) per week.

This morning I was getting frustrated at myself for not being able to go faster and farther, for getting a cramp, for running out of breath, for having to walk a little.

Turns out I ran a personal best, I did 5k in 32:05 which is a bit more than 2 minutes faster than my previous times.


I seriously need to stop being so hard on myself and curb my inner negative voice.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Glasgow at night

I don't go out at night in Glasgow. I walk home after work far more than what is reasonably safe. Glasgow is, unfortunately, a dangerous city between the hours of 7PM and 6AM. Random violent crimes (stranger rapes, muggings, stabbings) happen often enough and wide spread enough that saying "it only happens in the east end" or "you're fine if you stay out of trouble" are meaningless rationalizations.

It's a shame, because Glasgow is a beautiful city, and despite the drunk and disorderly downtown area on friday and saturday night, it is a beautiful city to walk around at night.

Here are some photos of Glasgow at night by Jason Hawke in his series 'Britain at Night'

Cars drive along the M8 motorway in Glasgow at night
Picture: Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media

The Gallery of Modern Art on Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square at night
Picture: Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media
An aerial view of George Square in Glasgow
Picture: Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media

The Clyde and central Glasgow at night
Picture: Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media
A view of the Riverside Museum: Scotland's Museum of Transport and Travel,
and the tall ship Glenlee, in Glasgow
Picture: Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media

Saturday, 31 March 2012

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
~C. S. Lewis

Thursday, 29 March 2012

self harm

Today I freaked out and put my hand on a hot frying pan. No permanent damage but it huuurrrts.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011)

I love books so much. I was looking for a photo of either Captain Kirk or Captain Picard reading a book to illustrate how my version of the future has books in it.

I found this instead: