Monday, 27 February 2017

Panda song

What can I say, she loves pandas... This is audio only (with a pic at the beginning). A touch on the surreal side, though proud that she went to the bother of recording herself and uploading to YouTube. Love her. You'll all be singing it tomorrow...

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Consciousness explained (!)

Louie and I are continuing at a pace with our conversations as part of The Existential Files. Available on iTunes and YouTube. Some of these conversations take place while I find myself in a room with a whiteboard, and so I make a few notes. 

Below are my notes from a podcast conversation last week (in fact, it was split across two episodes) in which we were joined by Peter Hankins who, among other things is the author of a blog called Conscious Identities. Not surprisingly, our focus of this podcast was on 'consciousness'. That old chestnut. You can get a sense of how these notes emerge by listening here and here


Friday, 24 February 2017

Lee Mack on a cloud (as though in a panto)

As part of a course we are currently running at the University, we asked the students to keep a dream diary for a week. The idea was that we, the tutors, would also keep the cream diary so that we had dream report to share at the next teaching session.

Of course, for the first three days of the week, I completely forgot. By the fourth day I endeavoured to remember that night's dream* and make a note of what I could remember in the morning. It turned out to be the only dream that week that I remembered and was simply noted in my dream diary as 'Lee Mack on a cloud (as though in a panto)". That's all that I could remember. Hardly profound, and I don't know what Freud would have made of it ("Who ze fuck ist Lee Mack...?!").

In preparation of writing this blog post, I thought I'd ask a certain Dr Savva (who is a dab hand with PaintShop), to mock up a pic of Lee Mack on a cloud (as though in a panto). He duly did. And what I love about that is when I typed the request into Whatsapp, he simply responded, "yeah, sure". No questions asked. 

Lee Mack on a Cloud (as though in a panto) 
* I'm toying with the iPad's facility for turning voice to text as a supposedly quicker way to write some of these blog posts. Of course it doesn't always hear quite what you say. For "night's dream" it changed it to "night stream". Perhaps a good analogy for a dream? A night stream? Please yourself. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Learn colours with Bing

In a slight departure from the usual intellectual discourse on this blog (!), I post here a never before seen piece of footage of Freya and Connie learning colours with Bing (think slightly slow but loveable bunny character who wears dungarees). If you need some kind of justification, you might consider this as a critical commentary on modern society and the nature of user-generated content on the web and what kids these days will happily watch for hours on end. Or you could just watch quietly and learn your colours. Up to you. :-)

Saturday, 18 February 2017

It's a love thang...

A belated happy Valentine's Day! Earlier in the week I, perhaps foolishly, spent a chunk of my Valentine's Day chatting to Dr Savva. We recorded a couple of podcasts exploring 'love'. Louie, being the efficient person that he is (and because he has bugger all else to do... joke, Louie, joke*), uploaded these quickly. You can listen on iTunes here (episodes 17 and 18).

As I found myself in a room with a whiteboard (gotta love a whiteboard!), I made a few notes:

*He really does have bugger all else to do.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Existential Files on iTunes!

My partner in existential crime, Dr Louie Savva, has been busy cutting and uploading recordings of our podcast conversations and submitting to iTunes. Good man, Louie! As of today episodes 1-10 available. More on their way...! You can also listen via YouTube

It's Groundhog Day!

From the archives :-)
Every year, on February 2nd, the world's media (or rather a small proportion of it) turns its attention to the small town of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania, USA. In particular they go there to observe a character called Punxsutawney Phil. Phil is a groundhog. But not just any groundhog... Phil is a special groundhog, because legend has it he has an uncanny ability to predict how long winter is going to last. According to his very own website,
"At sunrise, Phil will emerge from his burrow at Gobbler's Knob, and his handlers will announce whether or not Phil has seen his shadow. If Phil sees his shadow, legend has it that we can expect six more weeks of winter weather. No shadow indicates an early spring."
Back in 2001, one guy, an economist, even undertook some kind of analysis of Phil's forecasting data and concluded that over the years he had been around 70% successful and predicting either an early or late Spring.

That's all very well, but the thing that actually interests me about this rather strange tradition is the 1993 movie Groundhog Day that's based around this rather quaint annual event. In the film Bill Murray plays TV weather forecaster Phil Connors who is assigned to cover the event for something like the third or fourth year running. Connors is, to say the least, fairly cynical about the whole thing and can't wait till the piece is done so he can get the hell out of Punxsutawney and back to civilization. The trouble is, a blizzard means that all routes out of Punxsutawney are blocked and so he has to stay there for a second night. The next morning he is woken up at 6am, just like the morning before, by the same song on the radio (Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe). He initially thinks that the local radio presenters must have simply forgotten to change the script from the previous morning, but slowly as he goes about his day he realizes that he is actually living the previous day again. It's still Groundhog Day! Eventually the end of the day comes again and he's back in his hotel bed (because just as with the previous day a blizzard prevents him from leaving town). At 6am the next morning he wakes again to the same song on the radio! And so it goes on... every morning he awakes only to relive Groundhog Day. Imagine that! Imagine having to live the same day over and over and over again. Once the realization sets in that no matter what he does, Phil Connors is going to relive the same day again and again he even tries a variety of ways of killing himself... only to find himself waking up at 6am on Groundhog Day to the sound of I Got You Babe. There's no way out.

Eventually Connors resigns himself to the fact he is going to have to relive Groundhog Day ad infinitum, and so starts throwing himself into his recurrent daily activities. By doing this he finds he actually enjoys having the opportunity to relive the events of the day again and again and discovers that he can learn from his earlier encounters with the day's events. The question is, will he ever live to see the day that follows Groundhog Day or is he destined to remain in this day for ever? And do you ever get that feeling you've been here before?