Ever since I was a child…

Act I, Scene I

Actor: Hello, Chris Tarrant’s home.
Agent: Chris, it’s Dan here.
Actor: Sorry, who?
Agent: Dan here. From NMP. Your agent.
Actor: Oh, hi Dan, sorry, I didn’t recognise you there… err… (pointedly) It’s been a while. A long while.
Agent: Right.. er.. yeah.. talk about it… Anyway, we’ve got something new and interesting for you.
Actor: Great news! That’s what we bloody want to hear! What’s it about?
Agent: This’ll be just the thing to get you right back centre-stage!
Actor: Brilliant! So.. what’s it about?
Agent: Are you free this pm? We can get the papers looked over and signed asap.
Actor (suspiciously): What’s it about then?
Agent: It’s a brand new documentary on Channel 5..
Actor: Channel 5? Jeeez! Ok, what’s the documentary about? I always fancied myself as Sir David’s replacement [chuckles].
Agent: Oh, it’s not animals. Oh no, far easier to work with. It’s a new documentary about trains.
Actor: Trains? I hate trains! And what’s new about trains?
Agent: It’s a brand new documentary.. called Extreme Railways.
Actor: Extreme Railways? Extreme?? What’s new or extreme about trains?! Jeez! Is there really nothing else.
Agent: Nope.
Actor: But I hate trains! And they’ve been done to death. It’s always “Railway this” and “Railway that ” wherever you look on the telly.. I’m frankly sick of hearing about them! And I’m hardly the most natural choice to present this, am I? It’ll seem desperate!
Agent (mumbling): This is a different angle.. brand new concept..
Actor: And Channel 5? Jeeez!
Agent: Listen, Chris, nothing would give me more pleasure than to bring you a new show to host, but offers aren’t coming in. Of any kind. The barrel’s empty Chris.. the barrel’s empty… and you’re right, I’ve scraped right through the bottom here, but it’s still telly work…
Actor: …

Act I, Scene II

Actor (To camera): Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the railways, the throbbing lifeblood of a nation..

I imagine that’s how we got this:- http://www.channel5.com/shows/chris-tarrant-extreme-railways/clips/series-trailer


Under One god

I used to think that the idea of everybody believing the same thing was preposterous.

But now I’m coming around to it.

Imagine the whole world united, believing the same thing!

Everybody in harmony.
Everybody in touch with their better self.
Everybody reading the same books.
Over and over again.

Everybody in tune with the right opinion, handed down.
Everybody eating pancakes on a Tuesday.
Everybody munching beaver during Lent
Everybody doing the same damned thing.

(Oops, can’t say “damned”)

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Imagine you try to do a Jihad on your neighbour, and he’s doing one on you!
Imagine you go knocking on someone’s door, and meanwhile they’re round at yours, knocking away as well!

What a kerfuffle!

But a price worth paying to see everybody bowing their head in the same direction.

Some art will have to burn.
Couple of museums as well, actually.
And yes, there will be those oddballs that will need dunking to check for witch-hood.
Hellooo! Oddball Alert!
Inconvenient, LOL!

I can’t believe nobody’s tried this before(!)

Sex with a gorilla.

The quote goes: “XXXXX is like sex with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you want to stop, you stop when the gorilla wants to”.

As a child I loved the imagery of the ‘sex with a gorilla’ part.

Nowadays I struggle to recall which gorilla is taking its time with me.

Transaction-based approach vs Relationship-based approach

In business school we were taught that there were two approaches to conducting business; one that focused primarily on making the most of the transaction each time, and one that focused on building a relationship geared towards increasing number of transactions.

We were told that, broadly speaking, the relationship-based model was favoured in the ‘Orient’ (an example being the Asian corner-shop who will often allow a payment shortfall in the knowledge that the customer will clear it the next time around), whereas the transaction-based approach was synonymous with a ‘Western’ approach to business, (imagine Tesco doing that!).

In reality, of course, mixtures of both should be and are used. But is the situation read correctly each time?

The smart negotiator is one who makes sure the other party has a reason to come back to the table the next time. This would encourage a relationship-based approach. Unless there is a certainty that the other party will/can not come back to the table again. In that case, negotiate for the best deal possible at the time.

Recognising this, is it in the best interests of both parties to pretend to be in for the relationship while hoping to conduct a single transaction?

Between ‘Advanced Speciation’ and ‘Multi-disciplinary Generalisation’

More and more professions in the world are getting highly specialised. This is very true in the case of research and practical sciences; and therefore it seems that apart from any gains to be made from one particular field, progress is more likely to come from combining and borrowing works from several, probably disparate fields. These works can be for example technical advances such as measuring / detection methods, engineering advances such as materials / procedures as well as strategies and theoretical frameworks.

In such a climate it would seem that only ‘multi-disciplinists’ or ‘generalists’ will possibly be able to spot opportunities for ground-breaking collaboration between various fields by connecting the nodes at the ends of different branches.

If there is any advancement to be achieved in this manner, two things are required:

1. Each specialised field to contribute to a shared body of work that explains key concepts of their disciplines in a manner accessible to the layman and a updated register of key contacts within each sphere.

2. A mechanism to select and enable potential collaborative ventures and to allocate funding from a joint revenue.

Both of these will require the services of what I call “Sci-fis” (Science Facilitators) to bring about.

Seeing as it’s my idea, can I be one?

J.B.S. Haldane – An anecdote

Evolution sceptic: Professor Haldane, even given the billions of years that you say were available for evolution, I simply cannot believe it is possible to go from a single cell to a complicated human body, with its trillions of cells organised into bones and muscles and nerves, a heart that pumps without ceasing for decades, miles and miles of blood vessels and kidney tubules, and a brain capable of thinking and talking and feeling.

JBS: But madam, you did it yourself. And it only took you nine months.

-Taken from Richard Dawkins, “The Greatest Show On Earth: The evidence for evolution”

Memoirs of a master forger – William Heaney

“..I looked at the hardness of my own heart and I looked at this great capital city, where we have no leaders and no one to admire. Our government ministers are fraudsters, liars and deceivers without conviction, whose only ideology is to cling to power; our captains of commerce are wolves dining out on blood and bone; our religious prey on small children and feed us stories of nightmare; our media poison us with consumerism, a hideous bloated worm eating its own tail; our football heroes beat their wives and rape young girls; our movies stars and our models are junkies and drunks; our poets are incomprehensible.

I rage! I do! I rage when I see the lives of ordinary people squandered. The lives of young men and women, weak like me, going under the tidal sludge of drugs spilling across the sink-estates of the nation; the homeless drifting like wraiths; people eating themselves into oblivion and doping themselves with bad television; brave boy soldiers sacrificed in deserts for the ambitions of the insanely rich. I do rage! I weep! To see life held so cheap! And all I have as antidote as I stand lost in the middle of these leaders who are not leaders, these demons hidden in the souls of men and women, are my humanity and my rage.”

I could not help typing these words out.

I recommend this… so what?

There was a time not so long ago when it was of value to a company when a friend of yours recommended that company’s product(s). It may still be..

But in this age of hyper-customisation (of many products, not all), a friend’s recommendation doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to.


1. Recommending has become easier, and it’s not always done for the reason you care about i.e. that the product is good. And that your friend has you interests in mind.

2. Products can often be tailored on an even more granular level than your commonality/match with your friend, what they like no longer falls within the same crude group as what you like.

3. There’s probably some shift in “individuality” vs. “peer grouping” to be mentioned here.

On Comprehension

Ready comprehension is often a knee-jerk response and the most dangerous form of understanding. It blinks an opaque screen over your ability to learn. The judgmental precedents of law function that way, littering your path with dead ends. Be warned. Understand nothing. All comprehension is temporary.

-Mentat Fixe (adacto)

Demystifying the suicide attack

Robert A. Pape is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and is well-known in the field of international security affairs. This is what he has to say on religion and suicide terrorism:

“The conventional wisdom is mostly wrong. Suicide terrorism is not mainly the product of Islamic fundamentalism or any other evil ideology independent of circumstance. I have studied 462 suicide terrorists; over half are secular. The world leader in suicide terrorism is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka – they’re a Marxist group, a secular group, a Hindu group. The Tamil Tigers have committed more suicide terrorist attacks than Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Instead, what more than 95 percent of all suicide terrorist attacks since 1980 have in common is not religion, but a specific secular goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Chechnya to Kashmir to Sri Lanka to the West Bank, every suicide terrorist campaign since 1980 has had as its main objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw combat forces from territory that the terrorists prize.”

“The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism, it is an extreme strategy for national liberation”

“Religion is often a component of nationalism, and that is true not only for Muslims. For instance, there are many American Jews who believe that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. They view themselves as completely secular, and yet they have no problem also believing that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. Why? Because in many national histories religion plays a key role, especially religion associated with territory – that is an extremely common feature. It is not that religion and nationalism are at odds with each other, though they can be; it is often the case that religion is a subcomponent of nationalism.”

Further reading: