Cogito ergo Stoat

I was reading Butterfield (not the palaeontologist) on Antient Science and he refered to Descartes, and so it occurred to me that perhaps I should just read it for myself. Discourse on the method of rightly conducting the reason, and seeking truth in the sciences I mean, by “Doubty” Descartes.

Like so many famous things (or at least, like the ones I’ve ever looked at) it contains a small core of interest, wrapped up in elegantly expressed ravings that would get you (correctly) dismissed as a wild-eyed wacko were you to post them to usenet nowadays. But he is Well Famous, so you can’t say that.

It is also short enough that you can read it for yourself. But why bother, since I have provided this handy pocket guide. Note that the text was, apparently, a sort of introduction to “Dioptrics” and “Meteorics”, which I haven’t read. Also there is apparently an appendix on Cartesian geometry, which I also haven’t seen. It was originally in French because, as he says And if I write in French, which is the language of my country, in preference to Latin, which is that of my preceptors, it is because I expect that those who make use of their unprejudiced natural reason will be better judges of my opinions than those who give heed to the writings of the ancients only. Or in other words he was going over the heads of the Wise.


Apart from some historical interest, folksy homilies, and elegant language, there is nothing of present value to the text beyond “I think, therefore I am”.
Continue reading “Cogito ergo Stoat”


DSC_4358 Well, just one politician really. And an American one, and Republican at that, so I suppose we can hope his stupidity isn’t truely representative. David Appell provides a wonderful quote from Chris Christie and Global Warming, from which I excerpt:

…that’s probably one of the reason’s why I became a lawyer, and not a doctor, or an engineer, or a scientist, because I can’t figure this stuff out.

Yes, that’s right all you lawyers out there: the Law is for people too dumb to figure stuff out :-). And politics, presumably, is for those too dumb even for the Law.

[I apologise for the lack of actual substance here. It is cold and wet outside right now, if that helps. The picture is totally irrelevant; it is Stanage, Black Hawk area: ah, memories of Spring]

Andrew Marr is a Tosser

See the Grauniad for the proof. But ZOMG now I’ve proved him right so I must be wrong. <pfft!> – that is me disappearing in a pile of logical smoke.

More seriously: yes, vast numbers of blogs are full of junk, and probably rude aggressive junk (though I don’t know this from personal experience, since I don’t bother read those). Most (measured by volume) of journalism is junk too – it is just that in general it is fairly polite, well-written junk. At least in the UK the most obviously trash stuff gets conveniently dumped in the Sun, Mirror, Mail and so on. But there is plenty of rubbish left over for the Grauniad and Beeb.

Meanwhile, Marr’s successor as political editor, Nick Robinson, has previously criticised the tone and and quality of online debate, saying he had stopped reading most of the comments on his own BBC blog. “It’s a waste of my time,” he said in March this year, adding that the blog’s comments section was frequented by people who had “already made their minds up, to abuse me, to abuse each other, or abuse a politician”.

Yes, I’ve noticed that at the Beeb blogs whenever I’ve bothered look (which is infrequently, because they are, as he points out, full of trash). This occurs for the obvious reason: they are high-profile but unmanaged. Blogs are not supposed to be a substitute for leader columns (Dead White Man writes from on high to the Unwashed Massed). They are supposed to be part of a conversation between blogger, readers, and other blogs. Unless AM or NR can be bothered to get their hands dirty and (a) weed out trash in their comments and (b) take the time to respond t the better ones then his blog is, indeed, a waste of time.

After the goldrush


Strictly the title has precious little to do with this post; but it is one that I’ve always liked. Seen here is one of our pumpkins, carved according to D’s design by your humble author. They are grown by Nicholas, whose allotment each year is a marvel of productivity, especially his pumpkin patch. But then, he grew up on a Canadian farm. After halloween they sit on our front step growing slowly more and more soggy until they finally collapse into a heap of yuk.

Yesterday was a glorious day for an outing and also for a 5 km run. But happily today was also lovely, so after the important things like lying in bed, and drinking coffee, and hoovering the living room, I spent a fair amount of the afternoon outside in the yellow November sunshine appreciating what felt like the last warm day of the year.

Before doing anything else I felt obliged to harvest some of the grapes that grow against our south wall. They aren’t really eating grapes – they have a seed, and are small – but are still worth eating if you have the patience. Most years the birds get most of them; just for once I got a large bowlful. After that the main task was to construct another compost heap – I have a succession of not-quite-satisfactory heaps around. But I didn’t have time to sort those out so I made another out of some old doors, and proceeded to shovel large numbers of rotten apples into it, whilst rescuing a few to make apple stew. Then could come the real purpose: cutting the lawn, a long-neglected duty, and thereby hoovering up a lot of fallen leaves. Naturally, as someone who regularly scores zero in the “completer-finisher” section I didn’t actually finish cutting the lawn. Or even make a start on weeding the patio.

Speaking of which, the little alpine strawberries still have strawbs on them. Is that usual, I wonder, this late on, with the dahlias dead of frost?

[Update: Mr Pumpkin fades; his sharp teeth become blurred: DSC_5824-d-pumpkin-faded]