Terry

A while back I started talking about my two favourite authors. The first was Carl Sagan and now it’s time for the second. Many guessed correctly.

The wonderful and sadly missed Terry Pratchett.

Back in 1983 my mum bought me a book for Christmas. She would always buy me a book as a present. I had no idea who Terry was. Mum had heard him on the TV and thought maybe I would like his new book. I loved it….. He became my favourite author.

That was it. A tradition. Every new Terry book would be given to me at either Christmas or on my Birthday. She never missed a release. Apart from one. His last book. She never got round to buying that one, she would have if she had more time.

The Shepherds Crown was a tough read. Memories of mum and Terry. I decided to not read the last page. I can still say I’ve still not finished reading all his books….

Terry now has his own international day. April 28th. Let’s indulge in a bit of Pratchett wisdom a bit earlier than that.

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they haven’t forgotten this.

Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

Evil begins when you start to treat people as things.

Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.

And what would humans be without love? RARE said Death.

If cats looked like frogs we’d realise what nasty, cruel little b*****s they are.

Always be wary of any helpful little item that weighs less than its operating manual.

The enemy isn’t men, or women, it’s bloody stupid people and no one has the right to be stupid.

The presence of those seeking truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they have found it.

So much universe and so little time.

International Day

Sometimes the soul needs those familiar things. Those things which are uniquely special to you. Things which have been with you through thick and thin. Things which will grow old with you. Things which have become a part of you.

Last night I just needed some of that.

I picked out two books. One from each of my two favourite authors. Randomly opened the books somewhere in the middle – and read.

The first author was Carl Sagan. A brilliant mind, a free thinker, a modern day philosopher and someone who understood the true potential the human race has to offer. He could bring science to life. I would listen to his wonderful, poetic voice and he made me hopeful for the future. He made me dream big.

He is greatly missed.

Yesterday (9th November) was his birthday. Now the 9th November is the annual celebrate Carl Sagan day. I know I’m late but we can always bend the fabric of time just a little.

So while I read a few pages of his novel Contact and watch an episode of Cosmos, I will leave you with a few of his quotes.

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is only bearable through love.”

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality”

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

“It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English – up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

So Carl was the first author can you guess the second. I will celebrate the other wonderful author in another post. As a clue his International Day is the 8th April.

Philosophy

In England we like winding country roads. But occasionally we get a straight one. Like here, almost a French feel to this.

A week ago I was driving along this road and suddenly had a thought. Always dangerous with me. So I parked up and stood by the side of the road. I wonder what the passing drivers thought I was up to. Given the brakes going on the cars, maybe they thought I was a speed camera operative. About 20 years ago I was a civilian manager in a Police Force. It was decided that the handheld speed cameras needed replacing. To cut a long story short the traffic police were asked to test 6 different cameras under similar conditions. Six police cars went to a known speeding zone. Can you imagine the panic on the unsuspecting drivers who screamed over the brow of the hill to be confronted immediately by 6 police officer stood next to each other, pointing 6 cameras at the speeding car. Ones bad enough BUT SIX.

Anyway enough of speeding cars having the worst 5 seconds of their week.

I’d stopped to look at the lane because I had suddenly realised that I had been up and down this road thousands of times over the years and I had never really stopped to look at the beautiful trees. So that’s what I did. But then another random thought struck me. All about which direction to head in. Not easy to choose here as there are so obvious signposts. So left or right – no idea. Bit like life somedays. No obvious direction. Then a smile. My first bit of philosophical thought in years. Why not just head off in the opposite direction to which way your bottom is currently pointing. Yes that works for me.

Philosophy

“Dad I’m watching a YouTube video about Philosophy. Do you agree with Sartre?”

My first thought was – WHY and Why….

I searched deep into the recesses of my memory. When I was at University the second year included one hour a week of an option module. I actually selected Philosophy as the option. Why. Because it sounded like the easiest option available. This proved correct. Every week for for one hour I sat at the back and slept. My strategy was to sleep and then when the exam came round to crash read a little philosophy book (“Seven Theories of Human Nature”) which was purchased on the cheap.

I can’t remember much about the course, although I still have the book. But I do recall one particular lesson. The unfortunate Lecturer had placed a chair at the front of the class and was trying to encourage a philosophical discussion about whether this chair was an actual chair. I was at the back with a hangover shaking my head at this nonsense. Then the door opened and a fellow student called Jonathon entered looking like he had seen a ghost with his hair standing on end. A faint smell of burning seemed to follow him.

“Sorry I’m late my electric blanket exploded”

At which point he sat down on the chair which was subject to the philosophical discussion. With perfect comic timing one of the chair legs buckled sending poor Jonathon tumbling backwards. Clearly the Lecturer had been onto something when he questioned the chairs purpose.

THIS IS ALL I CAN REMEMBER ABOUT PHILOSOPHY.

When I told this story to our son he looked quizzically at me for a few seconds then said quietly.

“Might as well ask the cat”