Blog anniversary

Today is the 12th anniversary of my beginning to blog, starting at first on a platform provided by my university before moving in 2012 to Freethought Blogs. It has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have made the online acquaintance of many highly knowledgeable, insightful, funny, and thoughtful people among those who have read and commented.

Thanks to all very much for providing the stimulus to write. I feel that I have become a better (and quicker) writer because of the constant writing and editing and feedback.

Raising funds to fight the Carrier lawsuit

As some of you may know, there is a blogger named Richard Carrier who used to be on this network but left after certain allegations were made about his behavior. He has now filed a lawsuit against FtB and other skeptical networks and some individual bloggers such as P. Z. Myers.

In order to fight the lawsuit, a GoFundMe page has been set up for contributions. You can read more about the case here.

The strange story of H. H. Holmes

In the episode The Lying Detective of the latest season of Sherlock, one character referred Sherlock Holmes to the case of a famous serial killer named H. H. Holmes who had constructed a building with secret rooms that enabled him to kill his victims in various ways and dispose of the bodies undetected. I had never heard of H. H. Holmes but the reference seemed to be factual and my curiosity was piqued so I looked it up (on Wikipedia of course!) and the case is truly bizarre. Holmes’s real name was Herman Webster Mudgett and he was a bigamist and conman who adopted various names of which H. H. Holmes was one.
[Read more…]

Graffiti grammar police

Two activists in Quito, Ecuador were offended by the poor grammar and punctuation that they saw in the city’s graffiti, seeing them as showing a lack of respect for the language and people. So they decided to do something about it, by becoming grammar vigilantes who prowl the streets at night, anonymously correcting errors wherever they saw them.
[Read more…]

Nice card trick

Via Mark Frauenfelder I came across this nice card trick. I like it because it is very simple and does not require any manual dexterity. It enables you to look as if you can predict the outcome of a sequence of cards from a shuffled deck better than your opponent. It is not even a trick in the usual sense of the word but an exercise in logic that someone could work out. But thinking of it at all is what is clever.
[Read more…]

I’m back! And am now a grandfather!

I have just returned from a trip to welcome our first grandchild! He was born on Tuesday and we managed to get there in time to see him a couple of hours after he was born. Everything went well and I had a wonderful few days with him and his parents.

Being a grandfather is a strangely wonderful experience, hard to describe really. It definitely feels like the passing of the baton to a new generation, more so than with the birth of your own children, because you are now much older and you know that you have not many years left to live. When your own children are born, you think that you will be around long enough to protect them until they reach adulthood. With grandchildren, you realize that your children have that responsibility because it is unlikely that you will be there that long.

While I have always had the sense that we have a duty to leave the world in a better place for future generations, that feeling gets even stronger when you see a grandchild entering it now and wonder what it will be like for him when he grows up.

Cyrano was a man before his time

Most people are familiar with the fictional title character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, a man who was so self-conscious about his big nose that he hesitated to declare his love for the beautiful Roxanne because he thought it was hopeless. However he was willing to compose beautiful love letters that Christian, his inarticulate rival for Roxanne’s affections, could pass off as his own, and Roxanne is so charmed by Christian’s borrowed eloquence that she falls in love with him. We might think that Cyrano was a bit of a dope to be so self-sacrificing but people can do surprising things when they are in love.
[Read more…]

The British are really serious about their tea

While Australians seem to really care about their beer, the British love their tea. I have commented before that you cannot watch British TV shows without being impressed by the major role that tea plays in them. People are always either drinking or making tea and as soon as anyone enters someone else’s home, even if it is a police officer investigating a crime, the first question is whether they would like a cup of tea. They seem to drink it by the gallon.
[Read more…]

Social pressure to drink alcohol

I do not drink alcohol. I have no objections to it and do on occasion drink a beer or some wine but usually only because there is no alternative or the occasion is festive, like toasting someone. My reasons for not drinking are that I do not enjoy the taste of alcohol and on one occasion when I had a little too much, I did not enjoy the sensation of being lightheaded and losing control.
[Read more…]