Trident has once again surfaced as a political issue. Enough has been said to criticise it on strategic, military, financial, ethical and diplomatic grounds that I find it unbelievable that the majority of people still that it’s a useful system. Nonetheless, I’d like to propose the following argument:
Whether as a first strike or a retaliatory strike, any use of weapons of such destructive power as Trident would set humanity back hundreds of years by destroying so much (social as well as physical) infrastructure. If (like me) you believe that humanity collectively has an eventual purpose to work towards, then such destruction should be extremely unpalatable. If moreover (unlike me) you believe that this purpose is set by Heaven, then by committing this damage, you would be intentionally and directly going against Heaven’s purpose.
Or alternatively: Presumably your use of Trident would have some aim in mind, however unsavoury or misguided; Clausewitz defines: ‘War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.’ This would be far worse, because you would essentially be saying ‘Humanity doesn’t need to exist if I can’t get what I want.’ Or, more blasphemously: ‘Heaven’s motives are my motives.’
Theresa May, David Cameron, Tony Blair and George W. Bush all profess to be Christians, and are very public about it; they often allude to it in their speeches. But, to properly reconcile a belief in a God-given cause for humanity with a willingness to destroy it–even as a deterrent–requires a Deus Vult attitude, and it would be called religious extremism if it were practised by leaders of any other country.
Continue reading Trident as the Ultimate Blasphemy
When you blow into a glass bottle, the note that you get increases in pitch as you increase the amount of wine in the bottle. Why does the pitch of a singing wine glass decrease with wine?
I recently took part in a public outreach event at the Science Museum, together with the rest of the granular group. We had an exhibition to demonstrate photoelasticity as a technique for measuring forces.
I found the following mnemonic useful: A newton is the approximate weight of an apple.
We have heard a lot about the notion of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ in the past year. We have seen how a hoax or a rumour, originating from an individual or a small number of people, can spread like wildfire, especially on social media. We have seen how damaging these claims can be, and how they may continue to be believed even after they have been refuted.
These hoaxes tend to be outrageous or emotive. We have seen that extraordinary claims are more likely to spread and to be shared, contrary to the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence if they are to be believed. Then, the fact that it has spread widely is used as evidence of the claim itself.
We have seen that neither the number of followers of a movement, nor the fervour of said followers, says anything about the legitimacy of the movement. We have seen that people will commit daring and sometimes evil acts based on a lie.
Anyway, a belated happy some-books-said-that-a-man-has-been-raised-from-the-dead-and-his-dad-commands-you-to-do-various-things day.
Accurate estimates of the sizes of transgender populations are hard to come by, but according to an article in The Times on Thursday, there are about 650,000 people in the UK (around 1%) who identify as transgender. The article does not cite a source and, unfortunately, the online version is behind a paywall (to which I have no access).
In an article from nine months ago, The Guardian cites a ‘conservative’ estimate of 0.2%, or around 130,000.
I was quite surprised to learn that this number was so high. For comparison, the 2011 census found that around 430,000 people identified as having Chinese ethnicity, and that around 270,000 identified their religion as Judaism. These groups, as well as many other minorities, are not represented well in Parliament or other high-ranking positions.