Next: Science is now so complex that we can no longer ask What? We can now only wonder Why?

This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Incorruptable Colobuses

This should be a story about Lake Navasha.
But every journey starts with a few steps...or in the case of Kenya, a few road blocks...and public holidays at the end of the month before Xmas are prime road block time. Unbeknown to us our front left mirror had fallen off/been stolen/retired to a pothole. Either way its lack was sheer cash in the eye to Mrs PC Plod Policewoman who started on a good foot of not knowing the difference between a mirror and a sidelight. After the long and cogitative stare at Ida's international license, officer Plod asked for our 'Lifesaver'. Equally meaninglessly I sloped around in the car searching for (in our case) the very non-ubiquitous red triangle which doubles up as a full set of indicators and tail lights for most trans-Africa heavy trucks.
Clearly we had committed 2 heinous and immoral offences and we were read the riot act while Ida's brother (who is also a solicitor) sat on the armco barrier and smoked under a plastic hat.
'Madam, this is very serious. We must now take this car and lock it up in the police station and you must also be locked up tonight in the police station and go to court tomorrow, because there is no court today. can pay the fine to me now. '
In Kenya, there is no provision or paperwork for the paying of either spot fines or just popping into the nearest police station in a few days to pay. Simply no paper work exists. It is either jail or a bribe. Simple. Everyone takes the latter...except for Ida.
So it was that we spent the next 45 minutes discussing with an ever increasing number of AK47 wielding policemen what exactly might be the options available to us. Now remember, us South Africans are used to guns and have lots of time when travelling, being used to many stops for piepie and padkos. So the stage was set for us to dig in for the long haul.
'Everything is possible', suggested Ida, 'from Mother Teresa to paying a bribe'.
'No Madam! This is not a bribe. A bribe costs much more and it is voluntary. This is compulsory.'
Every so often the constabulary negotiators wander off to caucus with one of their mates (normally a more senior officer who then tries his luck). But Ida was unswayable and finally having persuaded them that we were happy to be guilty of an offense and rather insisted on paying the fine and that we were indeed happy to do it then, provided they gave a receipt with the officer's number on........The most senior officer congenially walked up, smiled for an extended moment and said, 'You may go.'
That was the start of our trip to Lake Navasha.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Blue Angel

I have an admission to make.
I do own a car.
As much as I would prefer to be seen as a 'pure' motorcyclist, I have an unmistakeable emotional attachment to a Toyota Cressida, known affectionately as 'The Blue Angel'.
Born in 1984 and married for the first 12 or so years of her life to a company executive, 'Blue' cruised around in the secure knowledge of having all the bells and whistles of those arrogant and flashy Mercs at half the price and twice the reliability. (Disagree? Ask Eagle Taxis about their fleet of Cressidas and Mercs).
Then my late Dad had his gold BMW 528i wrenched from his life sometime in 1996 by dirty car thieves who are hopefully now very dead from at the very least a panga in the skull. Or maybe not. Or maybe they just inspired the congenital thieves who ripped out the young heart of the speed king across the road yesterday evening in the form of his much loved and tarted up blue citi-golf....but that is another and very parallel tale....
So as the 'Angel' approaches the end of her third 12 year cycle she is well buried in my garage, loaded to the hilt with the junk I have been unable to throw way since moving out of my house 15 months ago. And that is another story, but I hope that the little shits who smashed in the face of my sunset home and ripped out her innards are living out the rewards of their miscreant ways with badly ingrown toenails and syphalitic penises....
In the middle of all this, in the salad days of the Blue Angel, I am cruising up the Bongo-Wongo highway to Westville. (Sorry, me and my Nokia GPS cannot keep up with the street name changes so I will use generics).
Once my Dad and I took a long slow drive in the Angel to Cape Town. Long and slow because old Blue has the knack of taking rests every now and then in the form of just going slower and slower and slower then not at all. The technique is to detect the imminent tiredness, pull off the road and rest for 15 minutes or so and then all is back to normal.
So, here I am, thundering up the Strugglite Sithole Highway when Angel gives a yawn and suspicious power drop. Whoops! Rest time. So I gently ease her off at the first exit, and meander into the suburbs in search of a shady tree to rest under.
A suitable tree, a quiet neighbouhood, looks safe enough, sort of clean middle classy. I whip out my SA Flier magazine, tilt the seat back and catch up on my aviation dream world.
5 minutes into our break, I notice out of my left eye's corner, a curtain tweak open in the house to my left. I think nothing of it until at the 10 minute mark I see the front door open (again out my eye's corner) and a slow moving white male emerges, looking at me and the Angel. I now think something of it, but not for long, because next moment he has disappeared.
The face at my window was not entirely unexpected so I was able to retain an unmoving sense of relaxation.
"Excuse me, but what are you doing here?"
"Reading an aviation magazine", I reply, hardly moving my eyes.
"But why in front of MY HOUSE!?"

In Cosmology (the study of the Universe, the Cosmos et al and where 'IT' all comes from) there is a concept known as the Anthropic Principle.
To explain more....
In order for Life to exist and indeed us humans, the state of the universe that gave birth to us has to fulfill an exact set of very precise requirements. These are for example......A particular mix of life-friendly chemical elements is vital for the very formation of early life forms. Amongst others, essentials are Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Sulphur, Phosphorus and water. These basic elements needed a stable and very long term environment to bubble and brew away before they (probably by evolutionary chance) took the quantum leap to the kind of complexity needed to enable self replicating bio-chemical structures (= Life). There are sooo many things that had to be just at the right level, the right time and pace that the odds of actually getting the requisite mix is almost impossible. Yet, people do win lotteries despite 'impossible' odds and Toyotas do stop outside one person's house. So, the fact that we are here to wonder about the Cosmos and the meaning of Life means only one thing - that the universe that gave birth to us just had to be a universe that could. Got it?

OK, here is another explanation.

God did it.

Yes, she simply woke up one morning and said, "After my morning oats I will make the Cosmos and it will be made in exactly the way that it needed for it to support human and other life.
Thus is the word of the Lord.
Nuff said.
27th Nov 2007
Durban RSA

Oh and by the by, after much pestering by my chum, Clive Read (blogging as durbandiaries), I have finally succumbed to the lure of the Blog. But don't expect daily rites of what I did between shower and work and mountain and beach because this is not how my head works.
To justify the time and energy spent on something that nobody may read (except Clive, me and God) I decided to use this as an accountability mechanism to get me to improve on my Idea to Action times. Thus each blog will be accompanie by an idea and a way to DO it. By the next blog I have to have DONE IT or coffee is on me for the lads. This way, I can liberate the time and money I need to be able to do a useless thing like Blogging. And maybe educate a few of the dumbos I have for friends at the same time. haha.
My DONTALKDO this time is to sort out the malfunctioning alarm in the shed and get my house details to the Iranian Oil Trader so I can fulfil my 2007 New Yrs resolution of sorting out my house! See ya and remember that Anything can happen and usually does!