Monday, June 8, 2015


And now to his great book I turn. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Think it possible that you may be mistaken

'The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, while wiser people are so full of doubts' Bertrand Russell

Monday, January 9, 2012

Socrates and the Hemlock

There is nothing in the entire of history or literature, ancient or modern (with one exception),like the last days of Socrates in Plato.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

There is no truth, saving in thine own heart

Then nowise worship dusty deeds,
Nor seek, for this is also sooth,
To hunger fiercely after truth,
Lest all thy toiling only breeds
New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth
Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then,
No learning from the starry men,
Who follow with the optic glass
The whirling ways of stars that pass--
Seek, then, for this is also sooth,
No word of theirs--the cold star-bane
Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain,
And dead is all their human truth.
Go gather by the humming sea
Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell,
And to its lips thy story tell,
And they thy comforters will be.

W.B Yeats, The Song of the Happy Shepherd

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Maybe the Moons are the Key

Titan - Saturn's most promising moon in the search for life. A world of mountains, valleys, ravines and oceans; a landscape sculpted not by our own sacred H2O - rather the most unterrestrial liquid methane. The palpable shift in focus from the war god red planet to the moons of the gas giants in the search for extraterrestrial life in the solar system has lead the space agencies to begin to consider moons of gas giants from other solar systems as perhaps the most likely sources of life (given that gas giants seem to be far more numerous than those of rocky earth types).

In the end the small step to our moon may be nothing more than a portent, a chance pointer in our search.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jorge Luis Borges

Borges, perhaps my favourite writer these days, described himself as a young man as Hamlet and Raskolnikov rolled into one. One of his numerous pieces of non fiction speaks of the Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti who ordered the building of the Great Wall and also demanded all books written before his reign to be destroyed. Borges reflected on this attack on history and geography and wondered was it not merely another (albeit elaborate) means of self preservation, a grab at immortality.

Taking this thought through history, one thinks of Giordano Bruno who believed in the infinity of the universe and the high walls of the Vatican who burned him to death for it, of the courageous Sofie Scholl and the mad barbarian's bloodthirsty third reich, of the Berlin Wall and the egregious crimes of the stasi thought police, of Israel's walls of war and all bloody borders born of and breeding ignorance.

Today China censors rather than burns, the western gutter press rot and bend the hearts of men. Walls are no longer so in vogue as our species instead has set itself to pillaging the planet, but nature is still fenced off from us. Today's flat earthers (science deniers), rather than piling books on the bonfire, usually spit forth their bile in the mass media. Popes and Emperors once burned books and heretics to keep the past in its box and launched uncountable wars to deny space. Things are different now, but only in form. Borges was right, in that the denial of time and space is the root of most barbarism.