Enigma 1118: 2001 – A specious oddity - From New Scientist #2274, 20th January 2001 George is planning to celebrate the new millennium — the real one — by visiting Foula, the most remote of the S...
Friday, July 18, 2008
Digital collage based on my own version of the only portrait, from life, of Jane Austen that exists.
Today, 18th July 2008, it is exactly 191 years since the death of Jane Austen and I just happen to have been going through a Jane Austen season recently, hence this image.
Money and marriage are her themes. And how much money is enough is a common thread. Miss So-and-so with so many thousand pounds is a common way to describe an unmarried woman. The marriage market required money or breeding, preferably both.
I wanted to know just how much this was in today's terms. According to one source (measuringworth.co.uk), £10,000 then is the equivalent of over half a million pounds now. It would have been invested in government bonds that gave a steady income of 5% per year (sorry I've lost that source), so was the equivalent of an annual income of £25,000 now (or $50,000 in US dollars).
No wonder the wealthy Emma, with £30,000, could pick and choose and need not have married at all.
Most of the heroines are not so lucky and Jane Austen experiments with a mixture of bad luck financially and a variety of backgrounds setting herself the puzzle of how to get them from this position to some sort of happy ever after. And being a romantic at heart she was also determined that her favourites would at least like, if not fall madly in love, with their future husbands!
More than enough Enoughs at Illustration Friday.
Friday, July 11, 2008
One of the photo challenges I like to do is the Monthly Scavenger Hunt on Flickr. Back in May I blogged about this and showed this photo for a category of Heavy Fog:
At the time I said I wasn't wearing glasses... since then I've decided that maybe I could do with going back to wearing some for reading at least. And today I had an appointment with my optician, the first time I'd been to see them since 2002:
What's more for this months hunt I took all my pictures using a faceted bead in front of the lens and for the category of computer I showed one with the same blog posting on it because it was about the MSH, though I showed the end of the posting, which was actually about a book I was then reading:
How's that for a well-documented synchronicity?
Here's the mosaic of all of my entries for this month's scavenger hunt using wobbly pictures:
1. Playmobil Playground, 2. Table Soccer, 3. Is it a bird? Is it a plane?, 4. Four Wheeler!, 5. Pink Power Ranger, 6. Aquarium, 7. Fireworks!, 8. Basket Ball!, 9. My Computer, 10. Tin Toy Horse Race, 11. Go faster streaks?, 12. Motorbike, 13. Skateboard, College Green, 14. See you later, Alligator!, 15. A book by a Fox!, 16. Here be Dragons!, 17. Diamond Ring, 18. Ready for the beach!, 19. Camping, 20. Cricket Ground
Someone commented that they hurt her eyes...
More Illustration Friday entries.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I've only just started this book but its already confusing me.
Richard Wiseman gives some examples of lucky people including a few people who've won large amounts in lotteries more than once, e.g. Donald Smith winning $250,000 three times in the Wisconsin State Lottery (May '93, June '94, July '95) or Evelyn Marie Adams winning $4 million then four months later another $1.5 million in the New Jersey Lottery.
He then attracts a load of people who consider themselves either lucky or unlucky to do an experiment with the UK National Lottery.
The idea is to see if they are lucky because they are "psychic".
The outcome is that of the 700 who take part only 36 win anything in the week of the experiment. These people are evenly distributed between the "lucky" and the "unlucky" groups. His conclusion is that being lucky has nothing to with being psychic.
My conclusion is different. In fact this experiment seems to show that feeling lucky is not at all the same as being lucky!
And as for psychic... my experience of precognition is that you can rarely choose to know on demand... and also for something like this which is not a matter or life or death... it would be very unusual to know it as far in advance as his experiment required (several days). Maybe he is being mislead by the media image of super psychics (who are mostly faking it) and not the real experience of everyday psychics (who are mostly hiding it or denying it - see Leah's Dream, Dream, Dream :-).
He is also ignoring another type of potential psychic power - telekinesis - people with this might well be very "lucky" when not in competition with each other but for something like this where they picked their own numbers they are likely to cancel each other out. I used to know someone who was more than usually lucky with dice... even when someone else was throwing...
Wiseman also seems to be assuming something I really wouldn't. He says:
Everyone would have been highly motivated to win.I don't think so. Again I think this would only apply to the media image of a psychic; the sort that makes their living from persuading other people to think they are psychic, playing to the gallery. Several times whilst getting random quotes I've had this one:
Here's something to think about:And each time I've thought only an idiot would want to advertise that they'd won it psychically! But then I'm not interested in fame; especially not the sort of fame that would have all the sceptics onto you straight away trying to prove you weren't psychic...
How come you never see a headline like:
Psychic Wins Lottery?
Jay Leno (1950 - )
And if you are wondering why I do consider myself to be somewhat psychic, especially with respect to precognition (but alas not, so far, lottery tickets), here are some examples:
I've known in advance about several people being about to die. For instance, one of our doctors, my mother, an aunt. Also about several accidents and other unpleasant things that unfortunately have also occurred.
On the more positive side I've dreamt I'd be given money and the next day was unexpectely given some by a stranger. And in turn I've happened to impulsively give a present to someone and then discover its their birthday. I've known I'd bump into someone I hadn't seen for ages and done just that. Etc.
I've not always got it right though... For instance, the night that I was sitting up in bed writing away.... I'm going to die... Jim's going to die... Someone is going to die... for hours.
This is not a normal occupation for me; I hadn't done it before and I've not done it since.
It was only much later the next day, the Sunday, that I found out that Princess Diana and Dodi had died and that I had been writing like this at the time of their car crash.
As I'd no special interest in Princess Diana I'm not at all surprised I didn't get this one right.. and in any case I'd kept on writing Die... not death or dying... and all the papers called her Di... hard to tell the difference between those two as sounds isn't it?
Sorry, to have gone all morbid... lets get back to luck.
I've been really interested in how luck works. One experiment I've been running has been with the Premium Bonds. Jim and I started off with the same number of these. He is a fairly steady winner... £50 at a time, sometimes £100, once £150... whilst I am not, however I did once win £600 one month and £350 another... we are the proverbial tortoise and hare... he is the steady one and I have sudden bursts, and like the tortoise he is winning - just!
What sort of luck do you have?
I forgot a relevant synchronicity.... yesterday Jim had said we might as well stop keeping our savings in the premium bonds as they'd be earning a lot more in the high-rate savings accounts now available... when I complained because it would spoil my experiment he said all we need is one.... later on whilst reading the Morse book of the moment Lewis says his wife has just won £50 with the premium bonds which is especially lucky as she just has the one. One Won!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Fabulous interactive on-line SpiroGraph from David Little.
I had a SpiroGraph set and used to play with it for hours but was often disappointed in the quality of my workmanship - too often a little circle would jump and my pen would skid or the biro would blob... so I've been delighted to play with this one. Its got lots of possibilities that a real world set didn't have too. The only thing you can't do directly in it is superimpose curves on top of each other, which was something I used to do using different colours.
Here are a few unusual curves:
Click on any to see larger.
There are other SpiroGraph sites on the web: gallery of multicoloured SpiroGraphs and another gallery.
Have you found any interactive versions of favourite toys on the web?
Friday, July 04, 2008
Lemon Tea painted digitally in Corel Painter IX.5
I've been re-reading the Morse books by Colin Dexter. Its really odd how on this second time through I keep on noticing all the middle-aged male ego stroking; Morse is a middle-aged, paunchy, morose, sour, crotchety, pedantic bachelor. He is obsessed by pornography, cigarettes and alcohol. He is only able to think with a drink; his lunches are typically liquid. His intellectual superpower is being able to do the Times crossword in 10 minutes and spot a spelling or grammatical mistake in any piece of writing.
The Morse of the books is far less refined than the Morse of the TV series, yet throughout the stories all the women need only see him once, speak to him on the phone or even hear about him to become besotted! At the very least they spend far too much time thinking about him... and at the worst they run around doing time-consuming errands for him in the hopes of pleasing him. No-one ever reacts to how he must smell with all that drinking, smoking and lack of exercise...
It is also interesting to see how the early Morse changes in the later books to become a lot more like the Morse of the TV series... the battered Lancia is suddenly no longer mentioned and he's driving an eye-catching Jaguar; his whisky is no longer Bell's but malt or Glenfiddich and he becomes worse at buying rounds. His interest in music becomes more pronounced too.
But for me its the constant attraction that even the really young women, all of them, find for Morse, and some of the other older men, that is the least believable aspect of the written stories. Its a superpower too far. Luckily the TV Morse is a lot more presentable, though still not my cup of tea.
For more Sour illustrations see this week's Illustration Friday.