Monday 25 September 2017

You may not be able to say "Ruddy Duck" 10 times quickly

But they can have some most surprising attributes, especially when females are scare and the competition is strong.

I'm not sure whether this is rude, fascinating science, puerile, extremely funny or just a poorly understood bit of developmental biology. Possibly all of them.

Some thoughts about upbringing and preference.

Funny how stuff lands on your mental desk sometimes.

I recently read this article about impressing on children the pattern they will adopt as adults. Of course the article was written in a negative sense about how wrong it is that children are being imprinted with their cultural patterns. Obvious, innit?

We live in an age where there is a lack of leadership, of clarity, where self-will is the law and personal freedom of expression in any and every way must not - may not - be denied.

What if this patterning is beneficial to the majority of children and subsequent adults. Suppose instead of a gender straitjacket, one helps girls to be normal healthy heterosexual girls and the boys to be normal healthy heterosexual boys. You help them recognise the strengths and weaknesses that characterise both their sexes in general and their bodies and minds in particular, you work with them to develop them to the best of their potential?

Would this lead to them growing up distorted and reduced or would it give them reassurance in knowing who and what they were? I rather think it would reduce much of the uncertainty and also the pressure to try all kinds of things, and enable them to be happier, more secure. Sexuality and gender is somewhat plastic in most people, and we are attracted to what we are told is attractive.

What about those who don't fit?

I still think they would be happier, particularly if given opportunity to be guided in their exploration and understanding of who they are, by people who wanted them to be the best they could be. In all ways.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

But are you a mouse or a man?

A recent article in New Scientist suggests that in male mouse brains there is a link between aggression and sexual behaviour - these behaviours are controlled by the same section of the hypothalamus - while for females there is no such link. While it's a big jump to extrapolate from this research to humans, these parts of the brain are often quite conserved.

From an observed social perspective, humans seem to often behave as though sex and violence are connected in the male as frequently portrayed in films and books, while traditionally sex has had a passive approach from females. Of course there are many exceptions to this, and it's hard to image a marriage being long and happy where violence and sex were irrevocably linked: one would hope that people were not completely at the mercy of their basic lusts and desires. Likewise one occasionally comes across stories of women where these behaviours seem linked, but much more rarely.

Why bother to comment at all?

There has been scholarly work done to demonstrate that male and female brains are no different, yet here is something that suggests otherwise, subject to further investigation. This obviously has overlap into sexual preference and gender too, but that's another blog post. To me, it seems that the differences between men and women, are many and various, and much more than 'just' about the controlling brain. While there's a feminist approach to women in society that seems to suggest they are really the superior side of homo sapiens, repressed by stronger but inferior males, it seems far more likely that the 2 halves of the species are complementary.

Friday 15 September 2017

Eugene Peterson The Jesus Way

So I've embarked upon reading another Christian book.

EP described consumer church as antichrist church in the introduction. Which, as I've just realised, is interesting for someone who authored what I always thought was THE consumer translation of the bible (I appreciate that may not have been the intent).

Thursday 14 September 2017

Why shoot urbex*

This short video gives one perspective.

Personally I like the feeling of going somewhere abandoned, and it certainly takes me back to being a kid in London, growing up with all kinds of places and facilities that had fallen out of use and could be used as playgrounds (providing one did not get caught). I've done a little urbex work over the last year, as can be seen on my flickr pages.

*Urban exploration, if that's not obvious.

Link to flickr album:

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Ever wonder what 'reading mode' was for?

Over the last year or 2 I've seen a 'reading mode' mentioned as a new browser feature, that clears away clutter & just presents the user with the page content. Now I normally run ad-blockers on my own computers, and usually my pages are uncluttered with moving, flashing, irritating content and I've been wondering who would actually care about such a feature.

So about 3 months ago my 'own' laptop arrived, provided by Oxford Innovation using their standard build. No ad blockers by default, and I'd decided to leave it that way.

Suddenly I get reading mode.

It converts Tech Radar's hideous monstrosity of a review site buried in flashing adverts and unexpectedly playing videos into something pleasantly readable without ghastly distractions. TR has been one of my go-to review sites in the past, but without ad blockers the useful content gets buried in pulsating visual faeces and it's simply horrible to view. It was so bad that I'd often prefer not to bother unless I was feeling especially focussed and robust that day.

Perhaps this is the browser designer's answer to adverts? It made me feel like I had my browser back.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

And when you write software, everything can look like a technology problem.

I saw and liked this quote because it's kind-of true:

“There’s an intrinsic incompatibility between the internet and nation states,” says Santiago Siri, one of Democracy Earth’s co-founders. “If we’re going to think about digital governance, we need to think in a borderless, global way.”

People connect across frontiers, cultures, ethnicities, religions and age differences. I can't tell if you're gay, straight or trans unless you choose to tell me when you're on a forum. I have no idea if a comment on a blog came from a Goan, Eskimo, Catalan or Tutsi unless there's additional information provided. And we can - sometimes even do - talk freely to each other.

So starting from the point of the quote, it seems that some clever people are trying to put together a voting system that can cross borders and even political parties.

And that's great.

But it completely ignores human nature, which not only revels in diversity, but is still affected by all the differences I've mentioned PLUS by various levels of honesty and of a desire to control others.

My first thought when reading the articles was about how quickly and easily votes could be bought by those with hard cash or actual bitcoins*. How a transparent system like this was bound to very very quickly fail because human nature is corrupt and greedy, careless and arrogant. Yes, there are many thoughtful, loving, kind, gentle, honest and careful people out there, but there's also a lot of stupid, greedy, careless, hard-hearted or even just plain poor or easily misled people out there too. 

You can connect people across borders, cultures and all the rest, but they will still be people, susceptible to all the things to which people fall prey. Any any voting system they use will be susceptible too.

*I first came across bitcoins in around 2010, through the Diaspora network, and had no real idea what they were. The guy running a particular server through which we connected had a computer fail and was asking for donations in bitcoins to help him buy new parts, presumably because of the anonymity aspect/alternative culture of the currency. I slightly wish I'd bought a couple then, but y'know how 20:20 hindsight goes.

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Local rogues gallery

Well, maybe not quite. As part of the millenium celebrations I was asked to photograph every household in the village. The pictures seem to have been scanned, and are now all available on the Somerton village website. It was an interesting project, and I managed to get almost everyone.