Coal Yard Couture

Ho ho ho here I am in chi chi chic Coal Yard London, so hipsterly couture you need fingerless hands in your fingerless mittens to fit in. It is so shallowly pointlessly hard-stoop erstatz inspired it gently appalls. My father owns the sheep on a thousand hills and as regards the rest, well I lived in real designer land for 30 years, so for me their fabulous Tomorrowland is so passé. This place is gentrified to the point of desertification. The Kingdom of Heaven on the other hand, is the real thing, whereas this place is just the sad worldly imitation.

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Piano progress

Oh my. Last night I practiced C Maj scale and wrote out the positions of the notes on the staves. Today I downloaded and printed off “You Say” the Lauren Daigle hit. I very slowly and painfully figured out and learned and practiced the right and left hand, again and again until… oh wow I can actually, just about, play it. My fingers ache and it does that funny-I -can’t-describe-it-my-brain-hurts thing that your head does when it is learning a motor skill. It actually felt quite emotional, finally achieving something I have wanted to be able to do for many years (actually more than 5 decades).

The weirdest part is I did it in in just 2 days. When I finally got through it with reasonably fluidity and all the right notes it feel like I felt when I danced my very first tango properly and got it right. So I am feeling very encouraged. It is very very early days but I am thinking maybe I really might be able to do this piano thing – assuming my hands hold up.  I’m hoping the aches gradually get less as I develop muscles I haven’t used. I’m struggling to program my brain to sight read the music and translate it into fingers on keys. I have not cracked that yet but I am thinking it will happen as I just keep at it. I am also struggling to make coordinated movements with my fingers to produce the rhythms I can hear in my head but note make the fingers do yet! Did I mention it is hard?

What I am not doing is using any modern electronic cheats or gimmicks. I am doing it absolutely the old-fashioned hard way, plain black and white manual keys and plain black and white notes on paper, because I want to be able to really do this. It is (at least) as hard as I expected but oh my it is also so very rewarding when another bit clicks into place and it starts happening properly.

I am applying all the learning theory that I was taught in Uni , taking breaks, doing bite sized chunks not too big or small, mixing theory and practice, repeating learning at the right intervals and so forth, as this has served me well with physical and mental learning many times in the past. Learning how to learn will save you time and having that skill is not a gimmick. The book I was taught to was called “The Good Study Guide” and it has been updated recently. You can read it for free at my alma mater (The OU)  http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/_data/documents/helpcentre/good-study-guide.pdf

Musical

I have decided to have some piano lessons next year. I don’t yet have a full size electric piano but once I have checked with my piano teacher I will probably get a Kawai ES8. I want portability and as one day I will probably inherit a good Yamaha upright acoustic I don’t want to be buying an acoustic. We already have a nice Casio keyboard and I just bought a Roland Rubix22 box so it now can connect to the big Mac for GarageBand. So I can at least be practicing some basics to hit the ground running. The wee box is nicely held down by a heavy Anglepoise lamp, hidden away but definitely not going anywhere. So as not to drive anyone insane, I can run it all out to some B&O headphones, but using cable rather than Bluetooth as wireless gives a slight delay, whereas wire is instantly responsive.

Who goes in deep

So week 3 of Jodie Whittaker’s Dr Who. Is it political correctness to do a Rosa Parks story? Well sure it can be seen that way, but do we have a powerful moving story and are we doing the classic time travel be careful about changing history trope? Well yes we are and Dr Who is supposed to do the time travel classic history jeopardy stories occasionally because doh, she’s a time traveller and Dr Who does them. It’s an obligation in the classic Whoniverse. So what we have is classic absolutely top class Dr Who. I require excellent entertainment that excites and interests and even moves me to some thoughtfulness, all to be in perfect accord with long held fan expectations of Whoniversal productions. Wow I got it! Political correctness? That might just have been the butterfly wing but these writers steered that perturbation to whip up a perfect hurricane of totally classic Dr Who. I am so way past caring about some of the underlying motives now to the Beeb’s new Who. All I care is it’s delivering utterly brilliant classic Dr Whi better than we have had for so so long. Thank you BBC for bringing me some entertainment that both satisfies us ancient only guys that have been watching since episode 001 and satisfies mostly our contemporary world. I would love to see disabled folk in there too. Could we have someone in a wheelchair or with a learning disability or a sensory impairment have adventures too? C’mon, BBC you managed it brilliantly in Silent Witness. Let’s get fully representstive here and make it even more fun so even more people can identify and feel they have a stake in the fantasy. Wow did I just catch myself saying the political correctness hasn’t yet gone far enough?

You know, when opening the doors brings in so much good stuff, you just can’t help wanting to open it even further. It’s quite infectious really. That’s what happens when something works. In the end we judge by results and this Who simply is a stunningly good show. If the PC foundation is what it was built on, what ho, it works so well dramatically it has not just saved Who, it really has regenerated it for all generations. Loved episode 3. Total classic.

Who’s next

So we have now seen week 2 of Jodie Whittaker’s Dr Who. There is a sense in which week 2 is even more important than week 1. We expect week 1 to be great, but week 2 tells you a lot about how the series might feel going forward, and whether it will sustain.

My only qualification as a Dr Who critic is that I am a life-long fan. I watched episode one when it aired, as a kid. IMHO the new Doctor is excellent. Her performance in episode 2 was great. It is noticeable that she has excellent support from Bradley Walsh. Would it work quite as well without him? – hmm, honestly maybe not quite. This production feels just a bit more of a team effort. There’s not quite such a focus on the Doctor’s performance alone. Is that the beeb playing it safe? Is it the new writing? Whatever, it’s just fine. Having strong characters around the Doctor is welcome and it works well.

Next week we have Rosa Parks. This, you could be forgiven for thinking is a PC motivated inclusion, but perhaps surprisingly, I would disagree with you if you thought that. Remember Rosa figured in American history and the BBC needs to sell this series in the American market. Rosa Parks is an icon to many who do know her story, and this is an interesting part of history, worth telling and not very well-known to a large part of the British audience. The show is avoiding the same-old same-old routine cameo historical figures and going with something a bit different, interesting, powerful, true, and for many new.

So what about the actual political correctness. There is absolutely no doubt that for whatever reason, the BBC occasionally test us up to the overdose limit. I don’t mean the actors or the subjects or the plots – the whole balance in Dr Who now seems quite good, although I don’t see many disabled people. It’s the obvious almost non sequiteur injection into the dialogue. One “throwaway” line felt so shoe-horned in. A clunky, clumsy, motivated line. Purhleease! Talking about disability – did I see a hidden hearing aid in the Doctor’s ear or is that one of those things they wear to get directions when acting?

As to the second show itself – there were several moments that felt absolutely classic Who. Bradley Walsh is giving brilliant performances that really gel together the rest of the cast. The EMP blast was an FX whammy – lovely. The scene of the Doctor walking across the hill toward her TARDIS felt very classic. The kind of moments you watch Who for. Niggles about clunky shoe-horning aside, the show so far is proper Who and very good to watch.

So let’s run that again..
“The scene of the Doctor walking across the hill toward her TARDIS…”
Do you know how natural writing “her” that felt? It didn’t feel even a tiny bit weird. Saying “her” for Dr Who feels normal, for a nearly 60 year-old guy that only ever saw male Who’s after just two episodes. Talk about nailed it! Jodie Whittaker is well on the way to being not just a Dr Who (as we know there were several that were awful, and thankfully barely memorable) but to being a CLASSIC Dr Who, up there with Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker (Tom), and Tennant.

 

Who’s Who

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There was a nice display in our local bookshop window. Wow I didn’t know they made Jodie dolls already. Cool. I mean that  is actually the coolest doll ever. Like are boys gonna want one for Xmas, like more than an Action Man? Excellent! Like I am a guy that never wanted a female doll (no adult jokes please) but I would have wanted one of these when I was a kid. Tough girls are cool – think Ripley in Alien.

So how did the new Dr do? Action-packed, nice lovable characters, some real sad bits, some humour, some good references to earlier Doctors. Great monsters. Really everything you could ask for. Of course a show can have everything and yet lack something, but this one lacked nothing. Dr Who was my joint top show (alongside Thunderbirds) as a kid ever since it started in the 60’s. I watched episode 1, when it aired, so I know my Who’s and I am a grumpy old critical bloke.

Jodie is a great Doctor Who. I totally approve of the gender change, it was indeed about time, The old formula had got so tired if it didn’t change the show was going to die forever. It really needed a change like this to revitalise the show. Jodi and the new writing has regenerated this show totally. In fact I think she really has saved it. And its no small things that now little girls can enjoy what I enjoyed as a kid, and that’s about time too. No really, we should celebrate this kind of equality – sharing the fun and excitement for girls as well as boys.

Well done BBC for taking Dr Who to the next level. Really nice adventure TV for all ages and genders that absolutely keeps true to what we original old fans really love. Brilliant and inspired. Thank you for saving Dr Who for even more people now to enjoy. Yay!

Being, consciousness, existence, self-awareness.

Being, consciousness, existence, self-awareness.

It would be fair to say, a lot of philosophers, theologists, linguists, psychologists, neurologists and other accidental or deliberate ontologists have expended a great deal of time, thought, ink and small patches of electromagnetic difference on this topic.

The current secular physiological stand is roughly that a complex patternated network of neurons with differentiated potential transmission capabilities along the pathways within it, gradually forms in response to stimuli and that this is a knowledge representation of the world, in which the constant activity eventually also forms a representation of the self as part of this world-model. The relating of the self-portion of the model to the rest of the world-model, constantly necessitated through the interactive experience of agency (tocsin – reticulating actions in babies*) as part of this learning of the self), causes the emergent phenomenon we call consious experience.

This is of course a wholly self-referential system. As such it gives me some cause to question whether such a flying by pulling on ones bootlaces model is really sufficient to explain consciousness. Is it rather that the current theory just cobbles together the few bits of information it has into a partial theory that scientists hope is right and hope to be able to make more robust as more evidence, hopefully supporting it, comes along. Well of course it is, as that is what all scientific theories do. However, as such incomplete things, all scientific theories also have to suffer the slings and arrows of logical objections picking them apart, offering alternative explanations, and demanding a re-think. I present my slings, arrows and demand.

The self-referential emergence (I’ll shorten that to SRE) theory of consciousness does not really drill down into that nub of the question we all really want to get at: Who or what is it that experiences being? SRE just says, in effect, “It is me that experiences being me.” This kind of answer does not satisfy, me.

Generally wholly self-referential answers are deprecated in science, logic and philosophy. The whole thrust of these branches of enquiry is to constantly seek what the next underpinning layer is, with perhaps some vague vain hope that eventually there will be some irrefutably logical underlying truth. The secular scientists of today hope of course that this will not turn out to be some supreme deity forever beyond their understanding. That would bring a whole heap of consequences that society after thousands of years has only just managed to stop worrying about.
The problem is that firstly there is unlikley to be any end to the secular process of scientific burrowing because the answer would need to be sustained by logic and the question is then: “But what sustains logic?”

Are we to arrive at yet another self-referential answer – logic sustains logic? This would seem very unsatisfactory. Despite many attempts to burrow to the bottom, nothing more fundamental has yet been obtained.

We are given clues however. The problem is these clues point to the theistic explanation. One such clue is the etymology of the word we use “logic.” This greek word means “that which is spoken; the word.”

We are burrowing down to look for the bedrock, the underlying truth, the progenitor of being, the foundation upon which logic itself rests.

Let me tell you, anyone that is willing to hear to the (initially) difficult (in terms of personal and social consequences), THIS truth. We have arrived at the bedrock!

It is there written for all to see. Logic (the word) you seek. The spark of being that experiences consciousness you seek. The basic original progenitor you seek. Your answer was already written with absolute clarity by the man who was given all the answers 2000 years ago. He was told to tell them to us. His name was John and he tells you what he was told to tell you, then he tells you who he is, that he is just an ordinary man given a mission to hear the truth and pass it on, then he explains why people will find it hard to believe him. He does not say anything in this immediate answer part, about the consequences of you knowing this truth (that information comes later), he simply answers these ultimate existential queries that we all harbour.

John 1 King James Version (KJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

You can stop digging only if you are prepared to yield that there is a God, that God underpins everything, including space and time so you cannot ask what was before God or where did God come from. The answer is not however self-referential for us, as it refers us and our world to something beyond. It refers us to God. God may seem self-referential to God, but we cannot apply logic to God as God is logic.

If you seek some Biblical confirmation – you will find that important things are usually stated in the Bible more than once – I can refer you to:

Colossians 1:17 King James Version (KJV)
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

There are numerous cross-references of course:

John 8:58 “Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Proverbs 8:22,23 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old…

Isaiah 43:11-13 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior…

1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, …

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Revelation 1:8,11,17 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, …

Psalm 75:3 The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up …

John 5:17,18 But Jesus answered them, My Father works till now, and I work…

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also …

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his …

Finally, why am I spending my time telling you this? Because all my nearly 60 years I have enjoyed having an enquiring mind. “Why, why, why?” has been my way of thinking. Finally God came into my life and supplied answers. Incredible answers. Answers to questions that everybody asks. Answers that can be very hard to beleive, but there they are anyway. Finding answers is joyful and it is my joy to share them. In Mathew 7:7 you find the famous “Seek and ye shall find” passage. Matthew actually tells you that if you seek answers from God, He will give you them. John actually told you the answers already because God knew you would ask those questions. There of course many other questions people have, some very philosophical, some personal, some socio-political, some moral and ethical, and some very scientific. Pretty-much the answers to these are actually already in the Bible, and usually in shockingly more detail than you might suppose.

Today, instead of being in Sunday morning church (usually I am but not today), I have instead read some Bible and chosen to pass on some information, in the hope it might bring joy, enlightenment and blessing into your life. I cannot think of a better thing to do with that freely given by God than to share it.

Enjoy Being as God intended.
God Bless You. Amen.

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NOTES:

* The presence of repetitive movements, described as the repetition of the same movement multiple times, is considered a necessary step for the development of voluntary purposeful movements and seems to have an adaptive role during limited temporal windows of psychomotor development.
(Thelen E. (1979). Rhythmical stereotypies in normal human infants.
                     Anim. Behav. 27 699–715. 10.1016/0003-3472(79)90006-X [PubMed] [Cross Ref])

Disappearing Cambridge

Here is another “episode” of Disappearing Cambridge, again in Mill Road – place of my birth. In a private courtyard at the end of the road near the centre of town, just about opposite the swimming pool, there were two mosaics. Sadly one is almost completely worn away and the other is in a very poor state. Given the condition of this art I think it will not be there much longer. They were commissioned from a world-renowned specialist mosaic artist in 2004. I can find no photograph of them in original condition online. Here they are as of now, sadly. Based on the one still visible, I think they had real class.

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