22 November 2010

vatican ribbed

Dear Jo

Top Hole!

Can't tell you how delighted Mrs Root and I are that you are going to allow all those cheeky chappies to use condoms!

All the alter boys are over the moon, one less thing for the poor darlings to worry about eh?

We sense business opportunities here Jo, and, if we may be so bold, think you must be aware of them too?

Being forward thinking Catholics, Mrs Root and I installed a machine next to the wet fish counter some years ago and now we eagerly await our first consignment of Vatican Ribbed(TM).

We'll take a dozen boxes of Haddock flavour, two dozen King Prawn - arf arf - they should go well, and we'd better have a half dozen of Sole flavoured too.

We quite understand that they are only to be sold in exceptional circumstances and we will get totally rigid sticking to that. But as you know Jo, Aids is like shares: it can go down as well as up, so we'd better sell them to everyone that's at risk. Sinful but safe - that's our watchword.

The first step is always the hardest Jo, but you've taken the church on its first one towards morality. Congratulations.

Here's a pound for the advertising campaign.

Roll them rubbers! Get it on Jo (not literally of course)

Your avuncular friends - Henry and the missus - still Rooting for you.

16 November 2010

on pringles and strings

If nothingness is limitless and there is an infinite amount of it within which thingyness can take place then there is no problem with either an infinite amount of nothingness or an infinite amount of thingyness is there? It’s not really going to bother you much one way or the other.

If there are a couple of hundred billion or trillion universes out there, or if string theory is correct, and there are teensy weensy bits of strings vibrating one way to make protons and another way to make gluons and gravitons and wot not, or if there are multiple dimensions wrapped up hidden within our own, I see no reason for coffee not to taste good or sleep to be not sound.

It doesn’t seem even that hard to envisage – at least not to my cloddish mind – I twang an open 1st on my guitar and get the note E or play it on the third fret and get the note G. Curled up dimensions hidden from our perception?….Hmmmm, bit more problematic: but if I roll up a sheet of A4, and show it you side on, you're going to have a problem knowing if it’s rolled just once or twice or three times, and the exquisite drawing I made on it when it was a flat sheet is going to have disappeared into dimensions you can’t easily see that will also play havoc with my fine artwork. Ha!

A squadrillion universes? Kind of exciting to think of it actually – but not a problem if it’s not so; this universe is quite entertaining enough for one lifetime, thank you very much. If our universe is held on an M theory brane – with other universes snuggled up alongside it - like a nice loaf of medium sliced wholewheat Hovis or a box of Pringles, with only gravitons being able to make the transition between the different universes/branes/slices?....Nope, still not going to lose any sleep over it - unless vodafone release a pulsed graviton mobile to enable me to converse with other internet sloggers (they’re called that there - in the parallel universe), then I would like one for Christmas please, pretty please.

One thing.... in a world of spontaneously generating and disappearing universes, the concept of god becomes about as useful as a Planck length on a pirate ship - unless it's Christmas.
Shan't lose any sleep over that either.
[edit: the Planck length, denoted ℓP, is a unit of length, equal to 1.616252(81)×10−35 meters = kind of small.]

the world is watching

I'm celebrating the release from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, a truly remarkable woman, and hoping that it may eventually lead to the democratisation of Burma which has been ruled by a military government for over a generation.

Regimes have to be terribly brutal to repress citizens' freedoms and those that do it have to do it with ruthless violence because, if people want anything, they want not to be oppressed by government and they want freedom of speech and the right to associate freely and a place in the sun to grow.

Regimes that deny this can persist for generations, but only at the cost of much pain and suffering and by suppressing oposition and maintaining an iron grip on power. Most regimes that do it seem to fall apart eventually, either because of internal conflicts and rivalries within the regime, or because the people rise up and seek to throw out the oppressive rulers, whether peacefully, as Aung San wishes, but often with violent confrontation.

In releasing Aung San therefore, the Burmese regime has taken a big risk, or perhaps sufficient numbers of its leaders have had a change of heart. I don't know. I hope for the latter.

The hard religious right wing in America that campaign for, what is in effect, a theocracy - a government run on biblical principles, the christian equivalent of sharia law - with punishments of like kind for adultery and homosexuality and so forth, should be wary of what they ask for, because if they wish to do that, they will have to do it with a similar brutality, ruthlessness and violence that characterises the Talibans, the North Koreas, the Irans, Chinas and other such oppressive and dictatorial regimes of this world.

If America relinquishes its separation of church and state for a move towards the above, it is in deep trouble - for a people who have tasted secular democratic government will not relinquish it lightly or without a fight - and in the end, it is only such a government that can actually defend religious freedoms for all.

May your freedom last long, Aung San, and may your people soon taste of it too. The World is Watching.

14 November 2010

glass act

The gales gusted at about 80mph: they were bound to cause some damage. The owner of this plot is by no means the only one to plonk a shed down and expect it to stay put without any foundation or anchoring. As sure as night follows day, this is inevitable. Next time I see someone do that, I'll have a quiet word with them I think. Ours rests on bearers attached to concrete flags and has old scaffold poles driven into the ground on each side. It ain't goin nowhere. The old rotting wooden greenhouse we inherited is a mess though and another gale like that may do for it.

Now all the produce is out of the greenhouse, the chikkins are enjoying having it as part of their territory once more. Best of all, the soil is dry and they can have luxurious dust baths to their hearts content.

As well as the six sheets of roof glass we've lost to the winds, I'm having to replace all the horizontal bearers round the bottom of the glasshouse as they are all rotting away. This involves taking all the glass out, removing the rotten timber from the bottom and cutting back any rotten bits of the uprights to get back to sound wood. Then laying a new 4x3" bearer and fixing it into position and attaching the upright supports making sure they are all lined up properly so the glass will fit back in. Last bit is fixing the glass back into the frame with pins and silicone sealant (I'm using that because it's quicker and easier than putty).

The job will have to be tackled in (probably) 4 sections as I don't want to leave too much of it exposed to more high winds that may come along.

Pity glass is so expensive these days; I would be tempted to replace some of the other cracked pieces here and there if it was.

The ducks and chikkins are curious about it all but have a tendency to get under your feet while carrying chunks of glass around. Don't worry, they all survived. One section done, three more to go... *sigh*....


08 November 2010

coming up rosettes

It's too wet to do anything on the garden so we went up to Crooklands to see our friends from Cumbria Ferret Rescue centre at their ferret show.

Clodlet entered Pan in the sandy hob class and won first prize. It will go to Pan's head, I know it. Clodlet also won third prize in the young handlers section.

There were a gazillion ferrets there. It's nice to see a 'pong' of ferrets all cuddled up together in a hammock....looks so cozy. A man came up to me and said he was just passing in the car and came in for a look. 'Are these all working ferrets?' 'No,' I sais..'they're all on job seekers allowance, this lot.'

We don't make a habit of going to shows....don't really believe in them, but it was a fun day out and somewhat gratifying that Pan won against all the ferrets that get tarted up for the show with coat conditioner and vitamins and fur-brushed to death. Pan goes in straight out the cage and beats the lot.....go figure!