Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 25 June 2001

The House of Steel weathered a fierce storm yesterday. And my recent comments have produced some more correspondence:

Why is it that folk fail to see humour in anything that's close to them... ;-)

I remember when the US had Reagan in the big house... all that jazz with Russia was scary stuff. I tell you, my grandmother's younger than him, and we don't let her loose with the controls for the telly.....

Probably a good job that Australia isn't a nuclear power - I wonder how restrained they would have been when the French were down in NZ doing their best to destroy nature's work of a few million years?

Now of course, if you were English, you would not only have welcomed France with open arms, you'd have probably sold them the arms in the first place. And that's why I find it hard to listen to Americans going on about how the hell Iraq got all their weapons for the Gulf war (er... you sold 'em to 'em folks) and even harder to listen to Bloody Protestant Irish people claiming their right to march in honour of defending... wait for it... freedom from Communism in the FIRST world war. You really would piss yourself if it wasn't so sad. And remember, I'm not saying that as a Catholic -- as I've said many times before on my pages, I find religion the funniest, two-faced, hypocritical nonsense ever and honestly consider the Bible to be simply a reasonable work of fiction. But I truly don't care what folk beleive, until it starts to invade on reality and common sense.

Some people a) just can't handle facts and b) have no sense of humour. And of course, good humoured comments on reality really do dig too deep. Still, as the Cocteau Twins sang, "the first cut don't hurt at all, and the second only makes you wonder."

Fortunately, most people can see the funny side of reality - which is why folks like you and I will always find someone to drink with down the pub, and why a lot of folk find Billy Connolly the funniest man alive.

Mat

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Mat Lemmings email : mail@matlemmings.com 
web : http://www.matlemmings.co.uk daynotes : 
http://www.matlemmings.co.uk/scribbles

I very much look forward to drinking with you down at the pub. And yes, Billy Connolly is quite possibly the funniest man alive. He still has me laughing at my scrotum: "Isn't the scrotum an ugly bugger of a thing? It's like a hairy brain, an ugly brute of a thing. I'm sure that's why it's tucked away in the corner".

Hi Jon

I'm a sometime reader of your daily diatribes and I noticed that on June 24 you wrote: In reality, the British Parliament, or the Monarch are in a position of being able to legally revoke the independence of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. While I don't know about the vulnerability of Australia or New Zealand to British revocations of their independence, I think the Canada Act of 1982 (an act of the Canadian Parliament) has removed that particular sword of Damocles from above our heads.

Hoping that the Parliaments of the Antipodean Dominions will soon do likewise (although I remain a monarchist - a monarch with powers of dissolution and monitoring is too useful a tool for the electorate to keep politicians somewhat honest and responsible to be abandoned).

Yours sincerely Tim Cunningham timc@quik.com

There's a lot of obfuscation happening here. In 1999, the High Court decided that Australia was a sovereign nation *internally*, but a colony of Britain *externally*. This was an attempt to forestall legal action in the International Court. It is of course illegal for one sovereign nation to make laws for another sovereign nation.

I too am a monarchist. The monarch is legally rather well controlled by THE WILL of the electorate, providing they know or care enough to express it. I imagine that this will happen should the electorate become dissatisfied enough with parliament ignoring the people's will.

Thank you for taking the trouble to read my pages and for responding to them.

Hi Jonathon,

First let me thank you for your hospitality, I enjoyed visiting with you very much. I enjoyed the weather during the last week of my trip a little more though ;-) as I had opportunity to spend a few days sailing out to the Reef to snorkel and dive, as well as take a 4 wheel drive expedition into the rain forests around Cape Tribulation. The temperature in Cairns, up to Cape Tribulation and out on the Coral Sea was typically around 25-26 Celsius and generally pleasant without too much humidity, however upon arriving home in Ontario the temperature was 34 and nearly 100% humidity, so much for the myth of cold in the Great White North.

Now as to your contention that Britain could legally via an act of Parliament revoke Canada's constitution, I believe this is no longer the case. As of 1982 Canada's Constitution was as we say "brought home" and was no longer part of the British North America Act. It was done by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (ruled from 1968-1979 and then again 1980-1984), not all provinces were in agreement most particularly not Quebec as they wanted special power's granted to them in the Constitution Act. While there have always been separatists in Quebec (and they were already in power in 1976 at the provincial level) being "left out" of the constitution as they claim has helped keep them a force in Canadian politics to this day.

The oddest thing about separatists is that they speak as if they would be going somewhere if they separate, as if Quebec is a ship that would leave a Canadian port, rather than a physical location that isn't going anywhere, whether they eventually choose to break Canada as a nation apart or not.

John

First let me say that your visit brought us great pleasure and your assistance with The House of Steel much appreciated.  As for the Quebecois, they of course consider themselves French and therefore have no real grasp on reality. I am especially pleased that you gave me this opportunity to take the piss out of the French :-) Unfortunately, as no real Frenchman would be caught dead reading the writings of an Englishman (or adopted Tasmanian), I doubt any will be offended by my remarks. Last time I looked, my readers are from just about every domain on the planet except France.

I find it particularly amusing that the French do not consider the Quebecois to be French as they are unable to speak proper French.

Hello, my name is Robert Plumb and I live near to Kings Lynn in Norfolk England.

I just came accross your web pages and have spent a happy hour reading and downloading the book. I am fascinated by your ideas in your house, it looks great. Thank you for sharing it.

I am involved in Biological Farming business. I use both Albrecht and Carey Reams methods of Soil fertility building. I am in the process of setting up my own Lab where we will do basic "Plant Available" soil analysis using the Morgans extract and the La Motte testing kits, more interesting we will do the Soil Food Web analysis.

Seeing your great interest in Organic Agriculture I wonder if you are familiar with the Soil Food Web? The have an excellent web site and I recommend it it to you. In particular the ideas on Compost Tea are well worth studying.

I have recently become interested in a novel way of treating water by electrolosis and I would like to bring it to your attention.

There is some really helpful information from "Microwater" and the "Ion and Light" Company, you can find these on Google.

I am bringing this to your attention for two reasons. 1, The treated water is excellent for drinking and you could easily incorporate it in your new home. 2. The applications in Agriculture are VERY interesting. Control of plant disease and improving nutrition in both the soil and crop.

If you are interested there is a Video showing some applications in Japan and a book is now being translated. I just have this idea that it would be helpful to you in your Organic Veg production.

I am not selling this to you, but if you want to know more please let me know, I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

I just thought you might be interested.

Best regards Robert

Thanks Robert. The best mind I know in the area of soil analysis is Philip J Tattersall who just happens to live in Tasmania. You will find a short article of his here. Apropos water treatment, I have seen Virbela Flow Forms in action and have been impressed. Thanks for the pointers; I will make time to follow them up when I research for the book Tim Marshall and I are planning.

Thought for the day:

If you were designing the sort of information-processing system a brain is, it would be extremely impractical to store memories permanently in their original form. You need mechanisms for transforming and recording them; for "chunking" information into categories . Is your memory a phonograph record on which the information is stored in localized grooves to be replayed on demand? Is so, it's a very bizarre record, for the songs are different every time they're played. Human memory is more like the village storyteller; it doesn't passively store facts but weaves them into a good (coherent, plausible) story, which is recreated with each telling.

Judith Hooper Teresi


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Tuesday 26 June 2001

A cold, cold, rainy day. At least the wind stopped blowing so hard.

From Mike Barkman in New Zealand:

Having recently sunk several convivial glasses with the said Mat, I can wholeheartedly endorse your comment. Yes - Billy Connolly rules OK?

Isn't it such a sad thing, when otherwise worthy people cannot see humour in a gentle piss-take and get their high-horses out of the stable. Me -- I find almost EVERYTHING funny in this world. Including sad-sacks. BTW don't come the raw prawn with us upright Kiwi jokers, or I'll come over there and hang five on yer (or I *might* do after I've stopped laughing...)

Cheers /Mike

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Visit my web site and daynotes at http://www.icarus.gen.nz

Rattle yer dags, then. I'm ready for yer, yer wide-comb user. Or I might be. After I stop laughing, too. ;-)

Thought for the day:

Many people love in themselves what they hate in others.

Benzel Sternan


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Wednesday 27 June 2001

I'm off to the city to hand deliver a job application I wrote on Monday. It's that of editorial consultant for a publisher of government directories. Much more interesting than that sounds as it involves a lot of different tasks and will extend my database skills.

As well, I need to buy a gift for She Who Must Be Obeyed's birthday tomorrow. And Saturday is our 17th wedding anniversary. In 1984, late June was pleasant, sunny weather and we celebrated our marriage under the oak tree in Gay Klok's Sandy Bay garden. Today is still windy and cold, though the rain appears to have abated.

Thought for the day:

Let us love nobly, and live, and add again years and years unto years, till we attain to write threescore: this is the second of our reign.

John Donne


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Thursday 28 June 2001

Happy Birthday Marguerite. I purchased her a book about the restoration of a Gertrude Jekyll's garden at Upton Grey in England, designed in 1908 for Charles Holme. Marguerite is an enthusiastic gardener. I notice that Amazon is selling it for considerably more than I paid at Fullers bookshop. How times change!

Yesterday while I was in the city the 10/100 NIC  I ordered arrived from Sydney. It's an AOpen AON-325 -- cheap and cheerful. Only a third the price of Intel or 3Com. I logged onto AOpen's website and checked the driver version. It's the same as the version on the floppy that came with the NIC, so I don't need to download it.

I purchased Prof Ian Plimer's Telling Lies for God: Reason vs Creationism. There's a transcript of an ABC radio broadcast about the issue here. Like Prof Plimer, I find it bizarre that some scientists can publish their work in the scientific literature and then lie to their audiences in church about the substance of that work. One wonders about the motives of people who bring Christianity into disrepute.

Thought for the day:

If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.

Lord Byron


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Friday 29 June 2001

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thought for the day:

Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.

Jean De La Fontaine


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Saturday 30 June 2001

Reading the writings of the so-called "creation scientists" and the religious right has had quite a profound effect upon me. And I suspect that effect was not quite the one intended. As regular readers may have noted in the past, I think and write upon a wide range of subject matter, both secular and the spiritual. It has always been my belief that no other person can do my thinking for me, or tell me what I should, or should not believe. I reason that if there is a God, then that God gave me a rational, reasoning intellect for a purpose. Suppression of rationalism and reason would be an affront to that God: a sin!

Every instance I have come across of dogmatism revealed a self-serving purpose; that is, succumbing to it myself was against my own interests. Mostly I find that the dogmatic religionists are after my money and that what they offer in return (eternal salvation) is not their's to give.

While others live for a better afterlife, I reasoned that living life to the full right now made a lot more sense. I have no idea whether there is an afterlife or not. Sacrificing my happiness now on the off-chance that I have successfully gambled on the correct sect of the correct religion made no sense at all. And by happiness, I am not talking about enjoyment of superficial, transitory pleasures brought by drugs, sex and television. I refer to the deeper pleasure of building an internally consistent world view through reading, doing things for myself, such as building The House of Steel and gardening, helping others, being honest, both with myself and others.

I have jocularly remarked on a number of occasions that while I don't believe in God, He most certainly believes in me. It seems to me that the more in harmony with the general principle of "do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" my life has been, the more rewarding. And that this is no simple linear relationship; rather it's exponential. I get out of life far more than I put in. And the converse appears to be true. The less in harmony one is with the Golden Rule, the more miserable one becomes.

On the argument of Christian faith versus reason, Ethan Allen wrote: "Those who invalidate reason, ought seriously to consider, whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle, that they are laboring to dethrone, but if they argue without reason, (which, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must do) they are out of the reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument."

And Thomas Paine wrote: 

"But some, perhaps, will say: Are we to have no Word of God - no revelation? I answer, Yes; there is a Word of God; there is a revelation. The Word of God is the creation we behold and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."

and

"It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything; and, in this case, it would be just as consistent to read even the book called the Bible to a horse as to a man. How, then, is it that people pretend to reject reason?"

What peculiar things to be thinking of on my 17th wedding anniversary. Time now to cook some pork spare ribs for dinner.

Thought for the day:

The effects of our actions may be postponed but they are never lost. There is an inevitable reward for good deeds and an inescapable punishment for bad. Meditate upon this truth, and seek always to earn good wages from Destiny.

Fu Wu Ming


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Sunday 1 July 2001

Having studied many of the world's major religions over the last thirty odd years, I have arrived at some conclusions. There appear to be two common threads that are mutually exclusive. One is that you must accept the authority of words written or spoken by another person. The other is that you may apprehend God directly, by observing the world around you and your inner self. Those in the first promise a better life at some indefinite time in the future. The second that this is it -- here and now. The world is what we make it.

The first approach seems to always entail suspension of critical thought. You must believe something that no amount of rational thought would lead you to believe. The second has two primary characteristics: living The Golden Rule works to our benefit and there is a higher power than ourselves that we can communicate with directly, through meditation or prayer. This is known as Deism. There are some who believe that Jesus was himself a Deist, including Thomas Jefferson.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "There are many who are living far below their possibilities because they are continually handing over their individualities to others. Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself. Be true to the highest within your soul and then allow yourself to be governed by no customs or conventionalities or arbitrary man-made rules that are not founded on principle."

Thought for the day:

What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.

Bertrand Russell


 

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001