I’m pink, therefore I’m spam

Cogito ergo sum

Fern dust detailDescartes’ dictum states that humans are conditioned to rationalize their experience … even to the point of maintaining ideas that contradict other accepted theories.

A case in point: fern seed. In earlier times, the fact that ferns did not appear to have any seeds was a puzzle for naturalists. They concluded, counter to all other experience, that fern seed was simply invisible. In the popular mind, this idea was transmuted into contagious magic, that possession of fern seed could make one invisible.

As one thief says to another in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part one:

Gadshill

We steal as in a castle, cocksure; we have the receipt
of fern-seed, we walk invisible.

Chamberlain

Nay, by my faith, I think you are more beholding to
the night than to fern-seed for your walking invisible.

(II, i, 95–98).

[Read more from A natural history of ferns]

Thinking fern seed was invisible was not an isolated incidence of bad science – history holds other examples of faulty reasoning, from the theory of phlogiston to the contemporary misguided attempts to pass off Intelligent Design as science rather than religion.

Pass note: It’s creationism with a college degree.
[Read more …]

Why attribute the wonder of the world to some greater being?

Isn’t it wonderful enough to consider the world as it is?

Fern dust reflection

The best thing about fern seed is that it can make great tattoos.

Castleton Gardens, Jamaica

A bribe by any other name

… is still a bribe.

[cont.] The money given by Trafigura Beheer B.V. to the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) was originally described by both parties as a donation. Since then, Trafigura realized that it was illegal in Jamaica for a company with a contract with the government to give contributions to that same government. That is why they now claim the money is part of a commercial transaction. This of course leaves the PNP in an even worse position, since the money went into an account intended for party fundraising, and more specifically an account in the name of the minister of information.

I think this is only the beginning. If an independent audit was done of PNP financial activities (including cut-price land sales to high-ranking officials), the Jamaican people would kick out the government without a second thought.

On the other hand, maybe Jamaicans are inured to this kind of abuse of their trust.

I hope not. They deserve better.

Stand not upon the order of your going

But go already!

Yeah, yeah, I’m not gone yet. Like Peter Seller’s Indian trumpet player, I keep popping up when I should lie down and keep quiet. I’m waiting for the authorization from Paris that we can ship our stuff. Apparently, it takes several days to fax the form from one department to the other, even though they all work in the same building. Something to do with relativity and the position of Uranus, apparently.

Amid 150 boxes, I’ve kept one pc connected and can enjoy browsing and listening to my favourite radio station in the world. Fridge has gone, so the beers are soaking in the bath; still got a cooker, but no pans or plates. No problemo. I’m gonna load the car with the 25-odd boxes of trash and drive 20 metres to the bins. Hey, it makes sense. They’re really heavy boxes, and it’s really hot.

More tootling later … nothing else to do but wait …

10 000 prostitutes

Have to take the movies back to the co-op, Monsieur Hire and Dogville. Didn’t watch either of them. I can’t seem to get engaged by films these days. Once the kids are in bed and we’ve cleaned up, I prefer either to do something creative, like make music or twiddle on the computer, or just unwind with a glass of wine and a bath. A movie is neither demanding enough nor relaxing enough. “Get something like Godzilla next time,” Mr B. suggested. Maybe he’s right.

It’s not all our fault, though. I mean Monsieur Hire is a miserable attempt to garner sympathy for a peeping tom, because in French that’s not as dirty as in English (?). It was written by Georges Simenon, creator of Inspector Maigret, a man who boasted of having “had” 10 000 women, almost all prostitutes. He told his wife, “You were born the day I met you.”

Y a plus rien à dire !

And Dogville? The acting is as wooden as the scenery. Even my beloved Lauren Bacall is hopeless, disclaiming her lines as if she were Lady Macbeth.