digital makeup

Dramatic performances ask of their audience that they suspend their disbelief. An aspect of this can be that we are asked to believe that actors, mostly unrelated, are actually blood relations. Film and TV close ups make this more of an issue. How long will it be before computer post production allows actors, that are supposed to be blood relatives, to have their faces digitally modified by means of an inbetweening algorithm so that they …

a new covenant with nature

It is no surprise that human rights as a formal system, as legislation, should have arisen from the two cataclysms of ‘civil war’ that the Europeans brought upon themselves, and into which they drew so much of the rest of the world. As a way of trying to avoid descent into the horrors of the Rape of Nanking, of the Eastern Front, and of the Holocaust, it is essential, that at the heart of our …

competition versus brotherhood

A mania for competition so possesses our societies that it is hard to imagine any other way of being, and yet I think it is critical that we free ourselves from its grip. In the West, the Christian churches, from long habit, had an explanation for everything. Alas, with the rise of science, these churches chose to cling to Old Testament ‘certainties’, with the result that, when the cosmology of ‘Creation’ was overturned, the New …

the experimental past

The study of the history of non-Western societies – especially those that have ‘failed’ – may be one of the most valuable resources that we have to help guide us through the coming ‘time of difficulty’ that we seem to be heading for. Watching a good BBC documentary about Tiwanaku, I was struck by how pertinent to our present climate change woes was the story of these people, not only surviving, but flourishing in an …

the cherry on the cake

I have a notion as to why the Chinese authorities are delaying the opening of the tomb of the First Emperor, and it’s not the official reason given. I think I can also make a reasonable guess as to when it will be opened… In 221BC Qin Shi Huangdi became the first emperor of a unified China. Even though his dynasty collapsed shortly after his death, that unification has not been undone to this day. …

an argument for scottish independence

(In the Autumn of 2014, the people of Scotland are going to vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to separate from the UK. There are all kinds of arguments that can be made for and against this separation, I would like to add one of my own.) Humanity seems unable to focus on doing what would have to be done to head off global warming of 2ºC – and, the way things …

vitruvian lobster

This attitude that Man is the very centre and the purpose, the crowning glory of Creation can surely only be held by people who live in fear and terror of their own insignificance. I have no doubt that early Man, close as he was – necessarily close – to Nature, did not dare these absurdities. For him animals were his brothers, sometimes even his gods.

the retreat from reality

For most of human history our facsimiles of reality were very clearly man-made representations: no colour we could produce or use could compare in subtlety or vibrancy to those in nature; no fabric could approach the glossy texture of a rose petal; nothing, not even the finest acted mimicry, could hope to capture an animal in motion. Reality in all its splendour remained unassailably enthroned beyond our attempts to emulate it. This hierarchy has, more …

tablets and the cloud…

I’ve been hankering after a tablet computer for many years (I hope not as a result of having been brainwashed by Star Trek!?). Specifically I was wanting Apple to produce one. I have been using their computers since 1984 and supported them through the hard years before Steve Jobs returned – much in the way other people support a football team that keeps losing. Now that they are becoming masters of the galaxy I find …

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