Acorns

As a child I took the acorn
From where it lay
On the forest’s lawn
As by way
Of the woodland path I went
Content
In my harmless play.

Shall I take
The acorn today
And break
The shell
I know so well?
The truth forlorn
Is that many an acorn
Have I broken in play.

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The Myth of “Free Will”

According to the author of this article, (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/14/yuval-noah-harari-the-new-threat-to-liberal-democracy) “free will” is a “myth”. While we can choose who to vote for, our choices are, for the most part products of our biology and societal influences (E.G. family upbringing). The author contends that governments and corporations will, in the future be able to “hack” us and know us better than we know ourselves for, in his view we are “hackable animals”.

The author is right that we are not free in some respects. For example there is considerable evidence that one’s sexual preferences are biologically determined (I.E. gay people have a natural/biological attraction for the same sex, while straight people have a natural/biological attraction to people of the opposite sex). For this reason it is, in my view cruel to try to change a gay person, by religious or other means into a straight individual. It doesn’t work and one is forcing them to adopt a way of life which goes against their natural inclinations.

I do, however fundamentally disagree with the author’s assertion that “free will” is a “myth”. Take, for example the young man attracted to a pretty girl. It can be argued that he lacks “free will” in the sense that he can not help being attracted to the beautiful woman. However where that same man to pester that young woman for sex or, god forbid sexually assault her, can we really say that he lacked “free will” and his actions where predetermined? We can not, for the overwhelming majority of men attracted to beautiful women do not make inappropriate advances or force themselves on the object of their desire. Where there no such thing as “free will” the number of sexual assaults would increase massively. It is moral precepts and the existence of “free will” that makes us human.

The author is correct that corporations and individuals can (and do) try to (and sometimes succeed) in influencing our behaviour. For example a person who frequently searches for news stories with a particular political bias may well find himself confronted by only those kinds of articles. However the educated person does (in my experience) go out of their way to find stories which challenge their preconceptions and its through education that we can help to combat the danger of “echo chambers” in which people only find themselves exposed to views that reinforce their existing view of the world.

With the growth of artificial intelligence, we do need to think seriously about the hacking of humans (the author is undoubtedly right here). However his view of “free will” (the lack thereof) is, in my opinion wrong and dangerous.

(My thanks to my friend Brian for drawing the above article to my attention).

Guest author: Kevin Morris: Heartless, witless nature…

My thanks to Sue Vincent for publishing my guest post.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

In his fine poem (one of my favourites), “Tell me not here, it needs not saying”, A. E. Housman beautifully expresses his love of nature while (in the final verse) acknowledging that Mother Nature is, when all is said and done “heartless and “witless”:

“Possess, as I possessed a season, the countries I resign, where over elmy plains the highway would mount the hills and shine, and full of shade the pillared forest would murmur and be mine.

For nature, heartless, witless nature, will neither care nor know what stranger’s feet may find the meadow and trespass there and go, nor ask amid the dews of morning if they are mine or no”. (Poetrybyheart.org.uk).

Nature is (as Housman says) both “heartless” and “witless”, for she is a myriad of processes and natural forces which proceed with no “concern”? for we humans for, in the final analysis nature is…

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There Was A Young Lady Called Anna

There was a young lady called Anna
Who lived in a haunted manor.
A ghost named White
Sang at night
In a most delightful manner …!

There was a young lady called Anna
Who lived in a haunted manor.
A ghost named Ria
Filled her with fear
So she left that haunted manor!

Guest author: Robbie Cheadle ~ Churchill’s War Rooms

They don’t make them like Churchill anymore, unfortunately. I very much enjoyed reading this post. Kevin

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Background

World War II was the first time in its history that Britain faced a concentrated threat from the air. This aerial threat necessitated some discussion about how the British government would run the impending war and from where. Initially, there was some talk of evacuating key personnel out of London and, if necessary, to the West Country. This was dismissed due to the adverse effect such a move was expected to have on public morale.

A quick survey of suitable London basements took pace in early 1938 and on 31 May the site was confirmed as the space underneath the western end of the New Public Offices. The site was close to both Downing Street and Parliament.

Over the next few months Churchill’s War Rooms were established.

In July 1940 the Battle of Britain commenced and on 29 July Churchill’s war cabinet met for the first time in the…

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A Short Analysis of the ‘Thirty Days Hath September’ Rhyme

I have often wondered about the origin of this rhyme.

Interesting Literature

As Groucho Marx once said, ‘My favourite poem is the one that starts “Thirty Days Hath September”, because it actually means something.’ The meaning of ‘Thirty Days Hath September’ is self-evident and straightforward. But what are the origins of this famous rhyme? ‘Thirty Days Hath September’ runs, of course:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone.
Which only has but twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

One early reference to ‘Thirty Days Hath September’, from William Harrison in 1577, actually begins, er … ‘Thirty days hath November’:

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