Archives for category: Thoughts

It may surprise you when I say that I have had ideas for blog posts to write over the last year. The complete dearth of content obviously suggests otherwise.
I’ve decided to call this a lack of creative inertia.
Let me explain. I have the idea. Perhaps even do a bit of research and gather some material to use towards a post. But then for one reason or another, I’ll stop. And never pick the idea up. I’ve lost the inertia.
In some cases this is legitimate. For example if I’m at work then I don’t feel that I can spend time writing for a personal blog. In other cases other things in my life take precedence.

Can I promise to write more from now on? No of course not, but I really hope that I can start creating on a more regular basis.

How many people do you think enter the lottery with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? Zero, nill, nothing. Surely no-one would enter the lottery with these numbers, or any consecutive numbers because they’ll never come up. Statistically though a consecutive run of numbers like this has the same probability of occurring so why do we instinctively mistrust it? Instinct is the nub of the problem, we have not evolved to have any natural understanding of odds. So we go on what we’ve experienced instead – this is actually why people enter the lottery in the first place. Saying that there is a one in fourteen million chance of winning the lottery doesn’t help anyone, we can’t imagine what this actually means. Our experience of the lottery however is that most weeks someone wins, and every week the numbers are ‘random’ i.e. something like 3, 5, 17, 20, 35, 47.
To some extent the media coverage skews our judgment, you never hear a news report saying ‘and last week 7 million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand people didn’t win anything in the lottery’.
Or to put it another way lets assume that eight million people play on a weekly basis. To give equal coverage of winners to losers with a ten second skit on each the news would need to be two and a half years long, every week. Even a one second clip of the winner with a thumbs up and every other entrant just looking bored or morose the full coverage would still last for ninety-two days.
So going back to a consecutive string of numbers. I think this is actually one of the few times that everyone has an instinctual understanding of the odds, but they are not just the odds of a straight coming out of the lottery machines, they are actually the odds of any combination of numbers coming out. Essentially what I’m saying is that if you’re unwilling to play the lottery with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 then you shouldn’t play because that bad feeling you get about the chances of those numbers winning are actually your chances of winning regardless of which numbers you choose.

I’ve just finished watching ‘The Cell’ on BBC iplayer. Not the rather dodgy film with J.Lo in but a three part documentary originally aired on BBC4 about the scientific process that led to the current understanding of the cell and life on earth. It is totally mind blowing how far science has come in just four centuries, and to be honest I wish I’d seen it sooner so I could recommend it before it expires on the iplayer site (runs out this evening). It served – for me – to highlight how much of what we take for granted took massive intuitive leaps for scientist of the day. For example, when the cell was first discovered by a linen maker in Denmark it was well understood that new life just appeared. Literally just popped into existence. There was even a written method for ‘appearing’ mice. Leave some grain in a jar along with some sweaty rags and ‘pop’ – one week later you had mice.
Then from seeing the cell for the first time there was a long time and lots of experimentation to find some ‘well known’ facts. e.g. All life is made of cells, cells have a nucleus, the nucleus contains chromosomes, cells with-out a nucleus or with more than one don’t work. Chromosomes are DNA, DNA is the code of life etc.
In the last episode the current state of the art research was outlined. In Harvard scientists are on the brink of making life.

Making life. I don’t think there is any way in written words to express how completely ground-breaking, history making and philosophically challenging this is. As soon as the human race has made life then we can essentially act like gods in our own playground. A scary thought at the best of times – but it’s actually happening. The next ten years have the potential to be very very interesting time to live in!!

I’ve been getting a lot more spam recently, has anyone else been noticing this?

If you leave them for too long they rot.

Think about it.

So how can a visit to bingo cause a sudden change of heart where the thought of eating an animal is concerned? Well ok the visit to bingo was an incidental factor. Bingo by the way is surprisingly fun, even for an active young adult like me.
Matt’s girlfriend Charlotte is a vegan. One of the people that was going to bingo had recently had a birthday and Charlotte had baked him a vegan chocolate cake that was actually very nice. With no eggs or milk I have no idea how that works.
Charlotte explained (after revealing the lack of animal in the cake) that she always hoped that people would turn vegan after realising that it’s not actually all that bad.

This is not the reason I have been considering the whole vegetarian aspect. What really impressed me was Charlotte’s compassion towards all living things, including flies. Conversations can meander and an anecdote came up to illustrate this point, but I won’t delve into that now.

You see this compassion got me thinking. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism, Taoism and general eastern philosophies and religions. Quite a few of these condemn or discourage the consumption of meat. So the thought came about that perhaps if I feel like taking any of these beliefs seriously I should give vegetarianism a go.
However considering vegetarianism from a moralistic standpoint raises lots of problems with my lifestyle. I couldn’t take the ‘moral high ground’ of not eating meat without becoming a hypocrite. I have leather shoes, and a suede jacket. I live far from work so my journey is probably quite bad for the environment. My job basically entails making it easier for people to kill other people. I’ve always taken a slightly patriotic and pragmatic standpoint to this; I can’t stop there being wars and I’d rather that ‘our guys’ had as much of an advantage as possible. All this would be called into question if I became a vegetarian for moral reasons.
There is a possibility that I would try it for a few months ‘just to see’, I can quite easily imagine my resolve crumbling the first time I had a meal out though. (Unlike with the whole alcohol thing, still T-total and three days to go).

So will I become a vegetarian? It’s still a thought that’s going to tumble around in my head, but in the short term is seems highly unlikely – i.e. not today.

Metacognition is what that’s called, I think it should be called hyper-thought; much snappier.
Anyway, thats what I’ve been doing, thinking about the nature of thought. While doing this I couldn’t help but notice that my thoughts on thought took the form of an inner monologue, as all my thoughts do. It occured to me that if I could think without the use of an inner monologue, would my thoughts be faster?
It also came up while discussing these thoughts that the inner monologue is not the native nature of thoughts in the brain. The reasoning being that if it were then dreams would contain a lot more speech.
Unless I’m strange and everyone else has dreams full of dialogue.
So my curiousity as been tweaked, and my already slightly daunting list of things to look up has been added to.

Look forward to some interesting posts.*

*This is no guarentee that any future posts will be interesting

If I wake up in the night and have to leave my bed, going to the toilet is an obvious example, it can take me a little while to get back to sleep again. When I was a kid (by this I mean child; not goat), I’d wake up and make a mental note of where I was positioned in bed, my warm spot. Then I’d get up do the deed and get back exactly into that warm spot again. I was so good at it that I could even tell if the duvet needed adjusting.
I would then fall asleep instantly.
Oh to get back to the state of mind where the first thing that pops into my head when I wake is how I’m lying, rather than ‘what time is it, will I have to get up soon, etc. etc’

Simpler times :)

Irrational self: “They haven’t called back, I must have done something to upset them!”
Rational self:”STOP!! The world does not revolve around you!”
“What do you mean?” Demands irrational self
Rational self:”Well, just because they haven’t called doesn’t mean they don’t want to. They may just be busy. And if they don’t want to call you it’s probably not because of anything you’ve done.”
Irrational self:”What would it be then?”
Rational self:”Well they could be tired, caught up with something else, working, problems with friends or family that you’re not in a position to help with etc.”
Irrational self:”What you mean like a death in the family?”
Rational self:”That’s a bit extreme but possible.”
Irrational self:”Well then I should call…”
Rational self:”You’ve already called, and not that long ago. You left a message, and you know how getting obsessive is never a good idea.”
Irrational self:”Text, e-mail?”
Rational self:”No! Just leave it a few days and see what happens.”
Irrational self:”But… I worry.”
Rational self:”You’re just going to have to keep that to yourself for now, until you know what’s actually going on.”
Irrational self:”I could…..”
Rational self:”No.”
Irrational self:”But…”
Rational self:”No!”
Irrational self:”Maybe just…”
Rational self:”NO!”
Irrational self:”FINE BE LIKE THAT!” Irrational self goes to the corner to sulk and mutter.

After a few hours irrational self will be back. This will continue ad infinitum….

If only I had more control over my brain.

Once again my faith in customer service has been re-affirmed. This time by a car hire company. To be more specific Alamo National car rental in Bracknell. They have been requested by my insurace bods to supply me with a replacement car until my car is fixed (of course the cost will be covered by the third party insurer), more news on that in a minute.
Recently (as in yesterday) they replaced the ford Mondeo originally provided with a brand new vectra. Not entirely sure why, but shelves came into the explination. The moment you start imagining shelves big enough for cars the rest of the conversation is lost.
Anyway, the vectra provided had a problem, the heating blowers could only take one of two positions: Off, or full bast. Being slightly British I was unsure about whether to complain about it, seeing as it’s not really a huge fault. After some contemplating I decided that it did annoy me and it never hurts to ask.

So, I call and explain. Increadably friendly lady on the other end immediately agrees that this is a bad thing esspecially given the weather (what!). So the car is being replaced tomorrow, it would have been replaced today if it weren’t for the fact that it wasn’t my turn to drive in today so it’s at home, and the keys are in my pocket.

So National Alamo get the Rob thumbs up seal of approval. (C)
Great!

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