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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Invisible Monster

"Prunes don't give you the shits".  At a time when we're all wondering whether Greece will still be around next summer, and whether we ought to start planning to holiday in Cleethorpes instead, the European Commission have decreed that prunes don't act as a laxative.

If,  like me and millions of others, you suffered the indignity of being force fed prunes and custard at the slightest hint of a slow down in the functioning of your alimentary canal, this piece of EuroNews has come a bit late.

As a nipper it was drummed into me that regular bowel motions turned you into a regular guy.

Many a school dinner was further ruined by a plate of cold prunes (with the stones) and cold congealed custard. They ran a close second to cold tapioca (frogs spawn) in the puke inducing stakes of the 1950's.  My mother, who had a supra natural belief that the nastier a thing looked or tasted the better it was for you, would regularly strap me to the dinner table and insist that unless I ate my prunes I'd go straight to bed and miss "Journey into Space". 

Today such treatment would have seen her up before the European Courts of Justice, not to mention possible imprisonment for a severe infringement of the EU Convention on Human Rights.

This latest lunacy from the EU can only redouble young David's belief that we'd be better off having nothing to do with the French and German, not to mention the Greeks, Italians, Spanish and all those other foreign speakers on the other side of our moat. I suspect that pretty soon we'll be wishing we had nothing to do with young Cameron, his fag Osborne and their whipping boy Cleggy.

I find the following difficult to believe. However, last  month the European Commission banned drinks manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration. Strictly speaking this is probably correct, dehydration can be caused by something other than lack of water, but on a common sense level it does seem pretty silly. However, the same scientists do endorse drinking water as a way of keeping cool and healthy. That's useful to know.

Talking of things European, do you understand what Professor Brian Cox is on about? I mean CERN and the hunt for Red October; sorry I mean the Higgs Boson. He was on the telly last night all chipper and dandy "explaining" what and why zillions of scientists in Geneva and elsewhere were beavering away trying to track down the elementary particle's equivalent of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

After seeing him completely bamboozle the poor news reporter and me, I went to Wikipedia. (I've this theory that Wikipedia is God's latest upgrade of the Bible). Anyway, it didn't help one bit.

"The Higgs boson plays a unique role in the Standard Model, by explaining why the other elementary particles, except the photon and gluon, are massive. In particular, the Higgs boson would explain why the photon has no mass, while the W and Z bosons are very heavy. Elementary particle masses, and the differences between electromagnetism (mediated by the photon) and the weak force (mediated by the W and Z bosons), are critical to many aspects of the structure of microscopic (and hence macroscopic) matter. In electroweak theory, the Higgs boson generates the masses of the leptons (electron, muon, and tau) and quarks." Savvy?

Frankly Mr Boson you're much better off undiscovered. Think of the hoards of press camping outside your front door, all those interviews and endorsements lined up. I'd just continue getting on with your day job, maybe putting in one or two special appearances on "Strictly" or "The X Factor", but keeping your head down. Don't ever, ever get invited on a talk show with Brian Cox.

 "Infinite Monkey Cage" my E=MC squared!

Yesterday my brain ached. I'd listened to a lovely radio programme called "Great Lives", in which famous people talk about their heroes. Yesterday a philosopher I'd never heard of introduced his hero - Ludwig Wittenstein. This hero was a super hero. Of him Bertram Russell once said he was
"the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived, passionate, profound, intense, and dominating". Not bad!

Although the programme only skirted Wittenstein's philosophy; the interviewer blew a whistle whenever the  conversation got too unfathomable, it was enough to make me wonder what it must be like to have such clarity and depth of thought. In one sense it was a hell. We were told that he could never stop thinking, always questioning, always probing. Incessant enquiry. Even if he wanted to shut down for a moment he couldn't. His one relaxation appeared to be the cinema which he loved and would sit in the front row to be completely absorbed in the experience.

He was described as the complete man, his philosophy, his actions and his life were as one. A unique person.

We're just off the see "Puss in Boots". Oh well, there goes any chance of a chair in Philosophy I suppose.


The Sagittarian said...

Oh, it was HIGGS BOSON...not Pigs Bottom.
Now thats what I call a 'quism' (well, actually that was just the WV but dammit, I like quism!)

Anonymous said...

A very good read. Prunes, philosophy, physics and Puss in Boots in one piece. You are a renaissance man! Who may I ask though is "Bertram" Russell? Is he the guy who used to run a circus?