Thursday, 28 January 2016

Why is ‘Hairspray- the Musical’ such an act of genius?

For those who’ve never encountered it, ‘Hairspray-the Musical’ is one of the best theatrical experiences you can ever have, offering witty lyrics, great tunes and superb song-and-dance numbers. But it also lifts the heart. Why?

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Parable of the Lifeboat- a Mind Problem

There was once a lifeboat crew who really enjoyed their work. Lifeboat crews are usually unpaid, and each lifeboat station is run by a network of volunteers and supporters- but this particular crew were particularly well supported. Local businesses would make regular contributions for maintaining the boat, the boathouse and its tractor, and there were many fundraising events that brought villagers and townsfolk out in force. Their boat (the Amelia Dagsworthy) was particularly well kitted out, with all the latest gadgets and hardware.

But there was a problem.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

A parable for teachers everywhere... and for anyone else approaching their annual performance review

The Carrots
Douglas was an excellent vegetable gardener. He had been doing it for years, had built up a vast store of experience, and occasionally won prizes when he could be persuaded to enter competitions. But it took quite some persuasion – he honestly wasn’t bothered about comparing his efforts to those of others. He believed that the important thing was to make the best efforts possible in the time available, and grow the best vegetables.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Has it been long enough yet?


(From our New Delhi correspondent.)
India is now mourning the death of its greatest, most sacred cow of all, Ziggarami Stardusteri, living incarnation of all that is great about our proud nation. When news of the great creature’s death was announced last week, millions surged on to the streets to express their sorrow.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

An Angel's Dictionary

Many years ago, Ambrose Bierce published a satirical 'Cynics Word-Book’ (retitled ‘The Devil's Dictionary') of cynical definitions about Life, the Universe and Everything, based on his observations about life in San Francisco during the 1860s. It’s all wonderfully dark, but let’s begin the New Year with some (slightly more wordy) alternatives.
‘(n.) Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.’ (Ambrose Bierce)
 The good thing about Science is that’s it’s true whether or not you believe in it.’ (Modern T-shirt slogan)   Fail. Anyone saying that doesn’t understand Science, which is all about making a hypothesis, then testing it to destruction. Any body of knowledge is based on a series of interconnecting hypotheses about why things are the way they are, all subject to change, depending on whoever comes up with a better hypothesis that then needs to be considered and tested.
Some hypotheses (eg Newton’s laws of thermodynamics) have stood the test of time better than others (phrenology, eugenics) but they’re all up for testing. Establishing the Truth in Science requires a lot of belief that the Truth is Out There waiting to be discovered, and it can sometimes be stranger than we can possibly imagine (Thank you, Professor Brian Cox).