Saturday, 29 November 2014

True Patriotism or Nationalism

This rant is a lot less objective than  I usually am but I am getting really sick of politicians and the press appealing to a bogus sense of patriotism and I despair of parties that should know better such as the :Labour party for abandoning core values of the basis of socialism such as that what ever country you come from shouldn't matter as to how you are treated.

Dr Johnson a person, who given my instintively left wing sympathies I would not have had any sympathies with, summed the current situation up precisely, when he claimed that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel. It seems to me that both Alex Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage are all scoundrels in that respect. Their so called arguments are essentially appeals to the lowest denominator of tribal instincts.

None of them appeal to what has actually made Britain great (and  I use that word delibrately as opposed to Scotish or English) the Britain that  makes me proud is the contribution to the intellectual and aesthetic contribution to the world not the flag waving nationalism of those who thought it right to display a saltire during the referendum or a St George cross in rochester.

No, the Britain that makes me proud is the scientific acheivements of Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Charles Darwin, Crick and Watson, and Fleming and Peter Higgs, the mathematical achievements of Napier, Hamilton, and Wiles, The poetry of Shakespeare,. Dryden, Milton, Pope, Byron Shelly Keats Coleridge, Wordswith and Burns. The novels of Austen,. the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy and George Orwell. The philosophy of Locke, Berkely Hume, J S Mill, and Bertrand Russell. The music of Purcell, Handel (who spennt most of his compostional life here), Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten. (And I am sure there are plenty of others who I have missed)  

How many of those idiots who feel it necessary to drap a Saltire or a St George cross outside their windows even know who most of the people I have mentioned above are or even appreciate what the afoerementioned people have achieved. 

No it's all a bogus appeal to the lowest common denominator of tribal instinct to enable the scoundrels who dress themselves up in the nationalist flag of whatever country be it Scotland or England without any appreciation  of the people in their countries who have achieved lasting achievements which will transcend the vagaries of the current political situation, as opposed to an appeal to the lowest common denominator of flag waving nationalism of the worst kind.

If that makes me snobbish  I don't give a monkeys.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Piano Grade 1 result Pass

This is just a short post to let those lknow that I passed my Grade 1 piano exam with 110 marks. A respectable pass but nothing great. I think I'll have to postpone my booking for the Usher hall :)

My main problem is that I find it difficult to maintain a steady pulse and two hand co-ordination this is only going to get more difficult as time progresses. I am handicapped by not having a natural sense of rhythm which some people seem to have. I was never good at dancing, I don't buy the idea as some people seem to think that you either have it or you don't. I believe firmly that by training you can gradually improve. Although I do find trying to follow a metronome really tedious and boring. Obviously it's more difficult but I believe you can actually get there. I must have improved my sense of basic pulse from last time as I was able to do the hand clapping example without any problem whereas at my last resit. I was unable to do so.

I am now faced with a dilemma, as the ABRSM syllabus for grade 2 has changed but you are allowed to do the past syllabus for the next time round which would be in March. I have been studying the three pieces on and off and am reasonably confident about two of them, so I could put myself forward for the grade 2 exam but unless I get my rhythm sorted out then it would be marginal whether or not I pass. I will make the decision in the next two months or so

On another topic I want to make a few remarks about Duncan's comment to my last post that we don't know anything about the nature of dark matter or dark energy. That's not entirely true, we know their equations of state and also their ratios. Also we can use the Friedmann equations to predict the future expansion rate of the universe. In a way the situation is similar to the classical ideas of gravity, electromagnetic fields and entropy. It was never possible to get an idea of what these entities actually were however just like dark matter and dark energy their effects on other objects were able to be predicted and measured. To some extent it doesn't really matter that we don't know what dark energy or dark matter actually are because as inputs to cosmological models their effects on the universe can be calculated. Just as say knowing that the gravitational force between two bodies obeyed an inverse square law enabled planetary motions to be predicted. I would say this is more important, given the lack of experimental evidence, than a fruitless attempt to undestand the true nature given  the lack of experimental evidence as to the nature of dark matter or dark energy.

It seems to me that physics has made great strides in developing our understanding of nature works, without getting bogged down in trying to understand the actual nature of some of the important entities that it has used. I'll leave the speculation to those cleverer than me in the mean time I want to focus on the uses of physics which is more than enough to keep us busy for a long time. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Grade 1 piano Resit

Hi first of all apologies for not posting for a while. I guess without the pressure of OU TMA's there is not that much to post about

Anyway today I resat my grade 1 piano exam. I felt a lot more comfortable than before and think I've done enough to pass but it won't be a great one. So how do I feel slightly ambivalent to say the least. I know on a good day I can knock off the pieces set for grade 1 no problem, but in a different environment it's not so easy. I still had problems adjusting to the feel of the piano in the church as opposed to my home one. Maybe I should ask the church if I can spend a few hours practisinng on their piano.

So I stumbled on most of the tasks I was asked to do but unlike last time I was able to recover. Is that enough to pass who knows hopefully yes but for me piano playing isn't a natural thing. I'll persist in practice and see how far I can go, until I really do hit a brick wall.

As for other stuff I have been trying to understand the cosmological revolution of the late 1990's where it was established that the current universe is

a) Accelerating

b) Appear's to consist of 70% dark energy and 30% matter of which 26% is so called dark matter and only 4% is baryonic matter

c) Flat

I hope to finish my write up of this by the start of the new year until then watch this space

Best wishes Chris