British Progress

‘We’ve been sitting here since Christmas 1914, during which time millions of men have died, and we’ve moved no further than an asthmatic ant with heavy shopping.’

– Joseph M. 1998. Blackadder The Whole Damn Dynasty London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (1999) p. 439

Birds of a Truckload

Coereba Flaveola, or Bananaquit

Imagine a lorry, filled with birds. If a sealed truckload of birds is transported onto a scales, and the birds are prompted to fly up at once – and no longer touch the floor – the weight would remain the same if the lorry. The volume and air pressure of accounted for the birds still remains in the sealed system.

So the load’s weight of the truck is not the weight of the load touching the floor but it is weight the mass in the sealed space.

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Left or Right?

Simplistic Example of a Semantic Network used as an Example Explanation

There is no semantic explanation of left and right.

For instance, it would be impossible to describe right and left to an alien in a distant galaxy verbally without a visual cue or common reference point.

Also – on a completely different note – it might be the case that the alien might not be symmetrical and who have no need to know left and right.

Adults have been noted to remember right and left by looking at their thumb which they sucked as a child.

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Falling Tree Paradox

A Juglans Regia Tree in Ticino, Switzerland

A tree fell down in the middle of the forest. If no-one was there to witness this – did it make a sound or not?

The answer is both or neither. A tree falling in the forest may or may not make a sound, depending on if you ask a semanticist or a neurologist.

For a sound may be something that is perceived by the vibration of the ear drum or the vibration of the source of the sound. But if there was no ear close enough to the tree – there could not have been a sound. After all, no-one heard the falling tree. The sound on the other hand, was most probably there for anyone to hear, but we cannot be sure of that, simply because no man can claim there is a sound if there is or was not a sound to be heard.

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Sir Walter’s Head

Around 1600 royal favour with Queen Elizabeth I had been restored by this time but did not last. The Queen died in 1603, and Raleigh was arrested at Exeter Inn, Ashburton, Devon and imprisoned in the Tower of London on 19 July. On 17 November, Raleigh was tried in the converted Great Hall of Winchester Castle for treason, due to alleged involvement in the Main Plot against King James.

During the court case Raleigh essentially was objecting on that the evidence against him was the 17th century equivalent of hearsay. But the tribunal refused to allow Cobham to testify and be cross examined. Although hearsay was frowned upon under the common law, Raleigh was tried under civil-law, which allowed hearsay. Mercifully, King James spared his life, despite a guilty verdict.

Nevertheless, he remained in the tower until 1616. While imprisoned, he wrote many treatises and the first volume of The History of the World about the ancient history of Greece and Rome. His son Carew was conceived and born in 1604 while Raleigh was

legally declared dead and imprisoned in the tower.

In 1616, Raleigh was released to conduct a second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. During the expedition, Raleigh’s men, under the command of Lawrence Keymis, attacked the Spanish outpost of Santo Tomé de Guayana on the Orinoco River. In the initial attack on the settlement, Raleigh’s son Walter was killed by a bullet. On Raleigh’s return to England, the outraged Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, successfully demanded that King James reinstate Raleigh’s death sentence.

Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on 29 October,

Sir Walter Raleigh

1618. According to many biographers Sir Walter’s final words – as he lay ready for the axe to fall – were: “Strike, man, strike!”

Having been one of the people to popularise tobacco smoking in England, he left a small tobacco box, found in his cell shortly after his execution. Engraved upon the box was a Latin inscription: Comes meus fuit illo miserrimo tempo “It was my companion at that most miserable time”.

Raleigh’s head was embalmed and presented to his wife. His body was to be buried in the local church in Beddington, Surrey, the home of Lady Raleigh, but was finally laid to rest in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, where his tomb may still be visited today. “The Lords”, she wrote, “have given me his dead body, though they have denied me his life. God hold me in my wits.” In fact, Sir Walter Raleigh’s wife kept his severed head in a red velvet bag for almost thirty years. After his wife’s death twenty-nine years later, Raleigh’s head was returned to his tomb and interred at St. Margaret’s Church.

The Need to Know

‘The fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, and therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt that the information that he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known, and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not, at that time, known or needed.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1986. The Complete Yes Prime Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1989) p. 412

A Road to Damascus Moment

A road to Damascus moment is a change, an important point in someone’s life where a great change, or reversal, of ideas or beliefs occurs.

The term is based on the conversion of Saul in The Acts. As it is written by Luke; God orders Saul to go to Damascus:

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. – The Acts 9:6

Caravaggio’s Conversion of Saint Paul

Also, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus is a masterpiece by Caravaggio, painted in 1601 for the Cerasi Chapel of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in Rome.

The painting depicts the moment recounted in the ninth chapter of Acts of the Apostles when Saul, soon to be the apostle Paul, fell on the road to Damascus. He heard the Lord say “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? […] I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks […] Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do”. And so Saul entered into Damascus and preached in the synagogue that Jesus was the son of God.

This event has been the subject for many a compilation of medieval biblical interpretations, and it has most probably framed the event for Caravaggio.