Archive for August, 2010

Money is just another lock and key

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

For a holiday this year we rented an eco-cottage in Somerset. It was situated in the grounds of a shared smallholding which also contained some pigs in a pen and a few chickens. Beyond these animal enclosures was a large shed cum summerhouse.

On our first evening I explored the various features of the smallholding and inspected the shed. On looking through the glass doors I could see that it was more than a place to store things – it had rudimentary plumbing and basic cooking facilities. I tried the door handle and it opened easily. I stood on the threshold and surveyed the interior. There was a camp bed with a sleeping bag on top of it. I noticed a pair of boots in a corner and a harmonica lying on a chair. Various foodstuffs and a bulky utility knife cluttered a small table. In another corner was a rucksack. Someone was clearly living in this space and here was his stuff.

At this realisation, a strange, primitive impulse accosted me. I had to respect this persons property. The fact that there was no lock on the door and was open to anyone who cared to turn the handle increased my respect. This person trusted me and so in return I repaid the trust. I hastily exited from the shed and closed the door. The trust was unbroken.

I then realised what a lock and key is. It is a division, a line between the, ‘have’s’ and the, ‘have not’, it is a broken trust. It represents everything that is unwelcome in human society.

The bible is wrong. Adam and Eve were not evicted from the garden because they tasted the fruit of knowledge. They foolishly invented a lock and key, then stupidly, locked themselves out of the garden.

Work in progress

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010


Oil on canvas

An entrepreneurial idea for Big Issue sellers in London

Monday, August 16th, 2010

As a day tripper to London, I will often buy a travel pass that will last me for the day. As I often catch an early evening train home, I have a card which is valid for a few more hours and which I don’t need. But someone else could make use of it.

Here is what I suggest. Big Issue sellers congregate in or near the large railway stations of the city. People who have no further use for the travel cards donate them to a BI seller. The BI seller then sells a copy of the magazine with a free travel card inside it. In this way, it becomes known that these BI sellers are useful repositories of unwanted travel cards that still have several hours usage on them. Anyone with a long journey would find it worth their while to buy an issue of the magazine just for the card.

This would do everyone a favour; the traveller who wants to help out, the BI seller who would sell more copies of the magazine in a shorter time frame and the final user who gets a cheaper ride home.

“Beam me aboard, Scotty.”

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I have a particular interest in edges. In a moral argument, I always ask, “Where is the extreme edge of this position?” This can often prove difficult. It quickly exposes those ideas which are simply fashion based or prejudiced.

So I considered the transporter concept in Star Trek. For those not familiar with the concept (cue jokes about which planet have you been living on) a beam locates an individual and does something to their molecules which allows them to be transported over great distances to another location where they are reassembled. If this were a reality, the problem in the technology would be in defining the edge of the object being transported.

For example, the person standing on the floor of the transporter would have to be differentiated from the floor. How could this be done?

The quantum laws are at odds with the Newtonian laws of physics. They simply can’t be reconciled. So with the transporter concept, this cusp between the two has to be dealt with. In the programme, there is a casual reference to the problem with the mention of a ‘Heisenberg compensator’, which is supposed to address this issue, but it doesn’t really do justice to the enormous complexity of the problem. With the interconnectedness of things, separating the floor from the soles of the boots of the person being transported is mind bogglingly complex. One can easily envisage a crew member having to replace a pair of boots regularly as each time they transport, they lose several molecular layers off their boots.

Also, a vacuum would be created at the instant of transportation and a mini sonic boom should be heard (but we don’t in the programme). Equally, where is the existing matter displaced when the objects are reassembled on the surface of the planet? How are they ‘moved aside’, rather than incorporated into the object?

Somebody has to ask these questions, otherwise, there will never be ‘progress’. If there is anything I have missed, please let me know.