Next MOOC enrolled!

After my last MOOC I decided to bite off something a bit bigger.

Christianity Through Its Scriptures – Harvard/EdX

It’s a big course, and I paid up front a voluntary $49 to get tests marked, a final exam with certificate and a capstone project. You don’t have to pay but you don’t get marks, certificate and the other goodies if you only do it for free. As it’s such a big course I decided I would like the extras, and you do have to decide whether to pay or not up front – I don’t believe you can change your mind later (although I don’t actually know).

It is an academic Bible course, NOT a devotional Bible course. That means its not just for Christians and it does not assume that Christianity knows the ultimate truth about whether there is a God and that God being the Christian one with a Son called Jesus etc. It is academic enquiry about the sociological history of the Bible as it has developed since Christianity (as distinct from the Jewish period of its origins).

I decided this might be more interesting for me than a purely devotional Bible course at this time – although I might well want to do one of those one day. I have a strong academic background in the social sciences, so this influenced this decision also. I thought – and am finding as I am embarking on the course – that my (rusty) experience with sociological enquiry would help me understand the course and what is expected off me as a student in this milieu.

So if you are seriously interested in the Bible and the History of Christianity, from a serious social scientist’s point of view, and are up for a fairly long and challenging commitment to study, check it out!

MOOC done it was fun

I just did Elements of AI (Artificial Intelligence) MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) with Helsinki University (Finland).

The course is in English, open to anyone, free of charge, and can get you a certificate free if you score OK in the exercises (I got one). It is fun. It is not too hard but is hard enough to be a worthwhile challenge. It does get your brain working and revives academic and learning skills that you might not have used for a while, which feels really good.

Subject wise it will open you eyes about AI, and you only need basic math. It is pretty good if you have very basic understanding of computers. It will help you see that some stuff we hear about AI is nonsense, and some of what we hear may be a bit sensible. It will show you where AI will be a good thing, where we needn’t be as worried about jobs as we might think, and that sexy deadly cyborgs are not really likely to be killing us all any time too soon.

Check it out 🙂

C'est triste – It is sad

C’est triste mais je serai toujours ami avec les Européens. L’amitié n’est pas un projet politique, c’est la façon dont nous choisissons d’agir les uns envers les autres simplement parce que nous nous aimons.

Vive l’UE, vive le Royaume-Uni, mais vive la différence!

It is sad but I will always be friends with Europeans. Friendship is not a political project, it is how we choose to act toward each other simply because we like each other.

Long live the EU, long live the UK, but long live the difference!

Agency by William Gibson – book review

Many many years ago I was a literary critic for cyberpunk books. I had a regular column in a magazine and it was really cool to be able to pick up a magazine on a newsstand and see my own writing in it. These days I very seldom review a book, but Mr Gibson was and remains a favourite of mine, so here goes. Let’s just plug that jack back into my temple and fire up the MC400 word application heh heh.

Agency is set in the time travel lite “stubs” universe where future rich folk get their kicks interfering with the past and creating different timelines. Like the first in this supposed trilogy, Peripheral, Agency flits between the two times, playing with fanciful and charming extrapolations in the future, and keenly observed little aesthetic vignettes on fashion, consumer goodies and modern life. There are little frissons of detective story and street life drama, but not a really compelling story. A compelling story isn’t really what Gibson does and it isn’t why I like him. Gibson works even better as an audiobook than a text. Gibson is more like stream of consciousness aesthetically astute consumer goods eye candy, but dialled down to a very cool soporifically ambient level. Its word wallpaper, text texture, very nice background for driving or at bedtime.

So, thoroughly recommended if you like coffee table books of Pantone colours, quiet Philip Glass piano tinkling, close-up studies of the weave in denim, and other gentle accompaniment to your latte. Do it as the audiobook for maximum relaxation.

Anti China Bias In Wired

The recent Wired article about blue dot AI spotting the coronavirus outbreak sooner than humans is great until the biased remark about China not sharing epidemic information is inserted into the article. China has as far as I can see been exemplary in how it has communicated and managed this epidemic. China is giving a masterclass in how to handle such a disaster and they are certainly trying to save foreign lives as well as their own people.
I have had enough of pointless constant anti China propaganda. No they are not a democracy. In our democratic system millions of people who know nothing about governing get to put a cross on a paper once every 5 years to choose people they don’t know who may also know nothing about governing. In China people with an interest in governing have to choose to work their way up over many years learning to govern and get chosen by their peers who also have experience of governing. No it is not democracy but can we really say that democracy is better than the Chinese system? If a people that had extreme poverty escaped from oppression and are now seeing an incredible growth in prosperity, do you really think they would want to change things and possibly jeopardise that? Is it perfect? No. Is our system perfect? No. We have crime and injustice and inequality and cruelty and failures and people lacking the means to change things. So do they. In reality, on the ground, is it really even so different? So puhlease, let’s all just be realists and shove the useless futile childish propaganda where the sun don’t shine and try and be more adult and constructive eh?

Strange attractor version of the gravity and inertia theory

So gravity is when mass makes mass move toward it. Inertia is when mass keeps moving in the direction it is already.

So we have something that makes mass move.

We already know from the gravity side of the effect that what makes mass move is mass.

We already know from the gravity side of the effect that where there is mass there seems to want to be more mass.

Remembering that stuff is only statistically more in one place than another, it is everywhere but not evenly, and it only becomes apparent when the 90 degree slice-through of our perception brings it from the wave to the particle apprehension making it real rather than virtual, we know that being in a place simply means there is a higher chance of being in that place. (If you slice along through the tops of a set of waves of differing amplitudes, you get a set of domains separated by gaps when viewed from above. Veiwing from above is the 90 degree shift. The separated domains are discrete from each other, in other words they are particles. They still affect each other because they are really all part of one waving continuum – they are all just one thing. Note the one electron theory.)

So where we have some mass there is statistically a greater chance of there being mass. That’s a no brainer huh? So other mass will start to appear there, as that’s where statistically it is supposed to be. It is attracted, rather like a strange attractor making a complex pendulum tend to certain movements rather than other movements.

Our mass won’t suddenly jump from lower probability location to higher probability location. As it starts at a distant position the effect of the other probability location is filtered by a large field of probabilities between it and the other mass. It starts to reappear at closer locations only slowly, but as the number of other probabilities between it and the higher probability diminish, it jumps larger gaps. This is acceleration due to gravity.

It is not hard to see how the gradient of probability of being where the mass is explains the curvature of space around masses.

So the probability wave theory of gravity explains acceleration due to gravity (force) and curvature of space. It can fit easily with the day to day Newton, the bendy EInstein, and the spooky Quantum theories.

Inertia. Stuff wants to be where it is, statistically. Time says that stuff was at A, is at B, will be at C. Movement is just an orderly series of matter existence probabilities at adjacent locations in space and time. The series is set out in a neat row (for this simple example) along space and along time. Time 1 be at A, time 2 be at B, time 3 be at C etc. As you jump to the adjacent time, the matter moves. At each time the probability has appeared at the next nearest location so the mass collects there. One after the other as you go along the time line. It will just keep going unless there is an intervention to change the sequence of probabilities. It will take some effort to change the probability otherwise it will just keep going. Like inertia. Yes not like. That IS inertia.

So the probability wave theory also explains inertia.

And particle wave duality.

Not a bad theory really.

Japanese Gin

Right now Suntory the Japanese drinks company seem to be having a bit of a promotion into the UK market. Not only are there several of their whiskies on sale in UK supermarkets, but their Roku gin is on promotion in major UK supermarkets. Now I am a whisky lover and I like a decent gin too. I have not tried Japanese whiskies yet but I know the Japanese have a mature and educated whisky market so I would expect their offer to be of quality. Meanwhile I was intrigued to try one of their gins Roku.
Interestingly roku is the name of a very effective Chinese acupressure technique for toothache, but that is not what it means in Japanese. In Japanese it just means the number 6 – because the gin features 6 special botanical ingredients.
Now I did not serve it exactly as the recipe on the bottle suggests – I served it with ice-cold Fever-Tree mediterranean tonic and a tiny tiny dash of Fever-Tree ginger beer.
The result I have to say is nothing exotic in say the ambit of Opihr gin . It is actually a very classic London Dry gin flavour. There is a distinct and very welcome pink peppercorn flavour, but other than that is simply a top-drawer dry gin.
All in all my first serious venture into trying Japanese spirits is proving worthwhile and enjoyable, as I might have reasonably expected bearing in mind the maturity and well-established relationships Japan has with British and American spirits, especially Scotch Whiskies. Although UK and Japanese cultures are in many ways far apart, there are some things, like Scottish scenery, Whisky and golf where we agree wholeheartedly, and that it seems may now include Gin.
I get nothing out of reporting on Suntory or Fever-tree products and have no relationship with them whatsoever other than as an ordinary consumer. I am simply interested in telling people about something I found nice and interesting. The photography is my own.

Rainbows Genesis Science Refraction Noah

As waves travel into the denser medium, they slow down and wavelength decreases.

Part of the wave travels faster for longer causing the wave to turn.

The wave is slower but the wavelength is shorter meaning frequency remains the same.

Think of it this way:

The source (whatever) send out a wave every second.

So they will keep coming at one a second.

That is the frequency, 1 Hz.

Just doing something that affects the wavelength of the waves after they have been sent won’t affect the frequency, basically they will keep arriving at one per second because they are one second apart.

Changing the wavelength differentially along the length of a wavefront is a trick that can make it turn a bit of a corner – refraction, but that has no effect on the frequency.

The colour of light is an effect of its wavelength upon the eye. Therefore differential refraction causes the light to spread into a rainbow as different wavelengths refract by different angles.

copyright BBC bitesize

In this diagram, the right hand side of the incoming wave slows down before the left hand side does. This causes the wave to change direction.

Credit to BBC bitesize for the diagram and some of the explanation of refraction –

Now listen up ‘cos this is important…
The refractive index of air changes as humidity increases.

Liquid water (eg raindrops) refractive index is equal to a number which is 1.33 and for the humid air the number is generally in the 1-1.33 range. Yes that’s right, it can be 1.33, exactly the same as the water. When the numbers are the same you don’t get any refraction, so no rainbow. So if the air is very humid, no rainbows.

Genesis 2:5–6:

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground.

So pre-flood the air was very humid so there were no rainbows, then the fountains of the deep opened and the huge amount of dust that would have been sent into the atmosphere by these enormous space-reaching fountains like those we see on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Credit for image copyright NASA

These fountains were caused in the case of Earth by the collapse of the outer crust/upper mantle onto the lower mantle, forcing down onto the underground ocean 350-450 miles down that could only then escape by fountaining out at incredible pressure upwards like a volcano – the remnant of which underground ocean is now trapped into a layer of rock called ringwoodite, and is of course some of the water now also exists above ground as the familiar oceans such as the Atlantic and Pacific that cover 3/4 off the world, a covering that was not formerly present.

This eruption of water would have provided a huge injection of dust into the atmosphere, giving nucleation sites to form droplets, clouds and eventually rain. Water vapour needs little specks of dust to form droplets. This means that water collects together out of solution, making the air less humid, allowing than for rainbows to form.

Hebrews 11:7:

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. 

The thing he had not yet seen was rain, but when it came it was a deluge for not only were there the fountains of the deep crashing back to earth all the way from orbit, normal rain started as well.

These events of course completely transformed the earth geologically giving us the mountains oceans and continents we have today. The upheavals that started with the cracking and collapse of the other crust split it into the moving tectonic plates we now know. 

All this is the result of the hot earth thinking as it cooled.

So, what the bible says about the flood is generally supported by the sciences of geology, astronomy (eg Io), meteorology (details like nucleation) and physics (refractive indices). One of course would expect nothing less if the Bible is true. 

Several items used in this article are copyright to others and are re-presented here. That is the nature of research. I believe my use of this is fair use but if the copyright owners wish I will happily remove their content if they contact me through WordPress or directly to request this.


So, since I last posted we are sponsoring 3 children in Africa and we have two Smart Cars – one red and black, one orange.
Jesus has given me a mission – finally I have a clue what He wants me to do.
It is to help make Africa a better place. So I am volunteering in my professional organisation (I work for a global construction company and am a Chartered member of a global professional health and safety charity) to mentor health & safety professionals, hopefully in Africa. I am not planning to go there, it will be by remote access – internet, letters, Skype etc. I am also doing whatever I can, wherever I can, to raise money for things that help people in Africa.
So here’s some ways you can help me do that:

Specsavers Opticians here in the UK are supporting

You can drop off your unwanted old eyeglasses at Specsavers branches and they will recycle them and spend the money of giving spectacles to poor people in Africa.

There is another great UK charity called Orbis. They help prevent blindness and restore sight in poor countries. They have the flying eye hospital plane, which is simply amazing. If you’re in the UK, the British Government will DOUBLE your donations up until 23rd June 2019.

Of course one of my favourite charities is Compassion UK, which is how I sponsor children in Africa. They have a campaign to help new mothers in Togo, and once again if you are a Brit, the UK will DOUBLE donations up until 23rd June 2019.

If you are in Europe take a look at One Dollar Glasses

In the USA and other countries you can also check out Sightsavers at

Our pretty new cars

Music update

Well, I still like Tango and I still like electrotango / Nuevo tango. However, I have been out of the scene a good while, and listening more to various forms of jazzy lounge stuff, Christian music, piano blues and some classical piano. The piano is because I am thinking about learning to play piano. I invested in a Roland Rubix 22 MIDI box to connect my big mac to my wife’s rather good Casio keyboard. This lets me access the nice sounds that you can make in garage band from the keyboard, and paves the way to connect a serious electronic piano such as the Kawai ES8 – although the ES8 is fabulous as a standalone. I will eventually become the owner of a nice real acoustic upright Yamaha piano, but that may be some years away so if I do start serious lessons – I have a very good teacher lined up – I will need a full-size 88 key piano. The ES8 is one of the more expensive electronic pianos so I would rent it for the first 6 months to be sure I was progressing and it was really for me before buying it. You can rent to buy so all your rental comes off the price when you buy it.

Here are some video links about these items:

Meanwhile, I received an I-tunes voucher as a gift for Christmas from my lovely wife, and I stumbled across some electrotango that I had not heard before. As its from 2016 I realise how out of the scene I have been, so its not new music, but it is new to me, and its so good I want to share it. The album is called DJ Ralph von Richthoven – The Tango Club Night, Vol. 4, There is well over 5 hours of fabulous electrotango in it. Here’s a video and you can buy the album on I-tunes for UKP 9.99 in the UK.

I-tunes link: