life lessons

Buyukcekmece Lake 2008 | Ömer Sözer
Buyukcekmece Lake 2008 | Omer Sozer

The only time you should look in your neighbour’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbour’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.
Louis C.K.

When asked what lessons he taught his children; this was one reply.

More of us should teach these things.


pretty. powerful. words.


Undulatus asperatus, NZ | Witta Priester
Undulatus asperatus, NZ | Witta Priester


Tornado cloud, Bermuda | Unknown credit
Tornado cloud, Bermuda | Unknown credit


Consider yourself.
I want you to imagine a scene from your childhood.
Pick something evocative…
Something you can remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there.
After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else would you remember it?
But here is the bombshell: you weren’t there.
Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place. Every bit of you has been replaced many times over…
The point is that you are like a cloud: something that persists over long periods, whilst simultaneously being in flux. Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made.
Steve Grand

grade A

How to win friends and influence people.
A brief history.

16th July 1945
The White Sands Missile Range in the New Mexico desert is home to Trinity, the place where the nuclear age began on July 16, 1945.
The Trinity weapon, a version of which destroyed Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, used plutonium. That fuel was more far more efficient than the uranium in the bomb dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, but it was thought to be less certain to work.

6th August 1945
The Hiroshima bomb, known as “Little Boy” – a reference to former President Roosevelt, contained the equivalent of between 12 and 15,000 tons of TNT and devastated an area of five square miles (13 square kilometres). More than 60% of the buildings in the city were destroyed.
Official Japanese figures at the time put the death toll at 118,661 civilians. But later estimates suggest the final toll was about 140,000, of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population, including military personnel and those who died later from radiation. Many have also suffered long-term sickness and disability.

Three days later, the United States launched a second, bigger atomic bomb against the city of Nagasaki. The device known as “Fat man”, after Winston Churchill, weighed nearly 4,050 kg (nearly 9,000lb).
Nagasaki is surrounded by mountains and because of this the level of destruction was confined to about 2.6 square miles or 6.7 square kilometres.
Nearly 74,000 were killed and a similar number injured.
The two atomic bombs, with the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on 8 August 1945, finally left the Japanese no choice.
Japan surrendered to the Allies on 14 August 1945.
(BBC News)

Did we learn?
Instead we gave it to our children.

Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab 1950-51


But that was ok, governments informed us we could just build a shelter against…


…and everything would be alright!

31st October 1959
The U.S. deploys the first operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Atlas D.

Time marched on.
Had we learnt yet? No, but we agreed to tell people how stupid we were being…

31st May 1988
The U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed the Agreement on Notification of Missile Launches.

A lot of posturing and treaty making and breaking between various nations then ensued until…

12th February 2013
North Korea conducts its third nuclear test. The estimated yield is 8-10 kilotons.

Back to square one? Hardly…


The exact number of nuclear weapons in global arsenals is not known. With little exception, each of the nine countries with nuclear weapons guards these numbers as closely held national secrets. What is known, however, is that more than a decade and a half after the Cold War ended, the world’s combined stockpile of nuclear warheads remain at unacceptably high levels. Ploughshares Fund

Trinity – still showing raised radiation levels.

Grade A fools.
We are our own worst enemy.

Is this all a bit too much ‘disarmament style’ for you?
Why not have some good clean fun with Nukemap.

la vie

Early on a Sunday morning and the coffee shop was devoid of life. A man walked in slowly, old brown leather suitcase in his left hand. Fulfilling the usual rite of passage at the counter, he turned and walked steadily toward my table. I realised he had spoken only as I realised he had stopped by the vacant chair opposite me. I looked up apologising for making him repeat himself, as I took my headphones out of my ears. He asked if he might sit down at my table. I found it a strange request bearing in mind every other table in the room was unoccupied; but he seemed polite, unremarkable, bland even, so I gestured toward the chair, inclined my head in permission and replaced my headphones.
A minute later, I realised his lips were moving, he was talking to me. I was not going to get peace, so the headphones were once more detached. I smiled uncertainly, he was asking me a question. “Are you a civilian in this army town?” My reply was guarded, but given. “I spent a bit of time in the legion he said” I nodded and smiled; this person in front of me, the legion, my thoughts and my reaction to his statement were at odds. He went quiet again, took a sip of his coffee and then reached down to the suitcase standing firmly by his feet. A little unsure I sat back a touch, he caught my movement and offered a nervous smile. The suitcase, now open on the chair, was full of the detritus of a traveller. This is someone who barely touches ground at home I thought.
He reached in to a pile of photographs, took just the very top one and placed it on the table in front of me. ‘That’s me’ he said as I looked down and saw a well worn snap of four men in full FFL uniform, standing with their weapons against a backdrop of pure sand. I looked up at him, trying to find similarities between the lined face before me and the image on the table. It was impossible, it could have been anyone. I smiled, and I think he knew my doubt. He reached back into the suitcase and placed a second photo on the table; ‘I don’t know how to live my life now’ he said as I found myself staring at a photo that was clearly this man sat at my table, standing shoulder to shoulder with a fellow legionnaire and smiling the smile of someone with a deep happiness.
I didn’t know what to say, but it didn’t matter. The photos kept coming. He talked to me for more than three hours, of his life and the loss of his sense of belonging.
He was only passing through; he doesn’t settle, he doesn’t know how to.
He is possibly the most interesting person I have met in a very long time.
The point? Never judge a book by its cover.

contagious curiosity


Part eccentric, wholly genius and as a friend of mine excitedly stated the other day “He’s cooler than Snoopy!”; we should all pause to listen to this man’s infectious, radiating enthusiasm for the scientific side of life.

Ground-breaking and inspiring, with a speaker’s ease; Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, the late, Richard Feynman. A man who found wonder and beauty in every single thing.

Richard Feynman – Ode To A Flower from Fraser Davidson on Vimeo.

Or, if you prefer something with a little more drama, there are a mere 4 days left to catch The Challenger on BBC iPlayer. (William Hurt doesn’t do too shabby a portrayal either!)

science . discord . religion . saving ourselves

View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. | NASA Johnson Space Center
View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. | NASA Johnson Space Center

One of the most important things, before any discussion is undertaken, is to define your subject. (Socrates)
The (Oxford) dictionary states:
The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods:ideas about the relationship between science and religion.
A particular system of faith and worship.

Wikipedia states:
Religion is an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.

The (Oxford) dictionary states:
The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment:the world of science and technology.
Wikipedia states:
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

They really are quite bland definitions for two that are so often declared as being diametrically opposed! Yet deeper definitions could be considered subjective, as there can be little that is more personal than someone’s faith.


Sorry Socrates.

Perhaps, if we simply state that science and religion both start with a doubt that the obvious is all there is, then we could agree that imagination must invent what might lie behind the obvious.
If we accept that, then we accept that science and religion do start with the same thought.
It is only when imagination develops into reason, that the two begin to branch out; and it is that fork in the road that causes so much argument.

Yet this discord is not just between science and religion; instead it is amplified by numerous disciplines of science (arguing with each other) and numerous faiths (also arguing with each other).

It’s time we all stopped and really took a look around us.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity.
The time has come to educate people, to cease all quarrels in the name of religion, culture, countries, different political or economic systems. Fighting is useless. Suicide.
His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

One is science and looks from the outside in, one is religion and looks from the inside out; but essentially they both say the same thing…
We are what we have to save ourselves.

We’re not doing a great job right now!

world war tea

World War II | Unknown
World War II | Unknown

A picture speaks a thousand words; this one speaks an entire story in one frame.

And to sit beside it, a tale of true selfless spirit…

“Suddenly along the street, in the middle of the maelstrom, a middle-aged woman – a real East-Ender, the people London was to learn to be proud of – carrying a large wash-stand jug. Beside her was a little kiddie, she can’t have been more than four or five, clutching a handful of tin mugs.
“She came up to us firemen and said ‘Would you chaps like some tea?’ Yes please, we all replied, suddenly we realised how dry were our throats in the gasping heat and smoke.
“Putting the jug down amid the debris, she took the cups from the child and wiped them in her apron, oblivious to the hell around, and then poured the tea. Never did tea taste better…
“But why are you out with your child in the middle of a blitz? She shrugged her shoulders – ‘I thought the men would like a drink. They must be thirsty with all that heat.’
“She took the cups and, with the child at her side, set off towards the dock gates to offer her tea to any man she saw.”
When Jeff got back home he told me he said to his wife, “Where the hell did she get the water and heat the kettle?”

Excerpt taken from:
Are you 17? Vivid real-life story of every-day men and women, who became the fire-fighting saviours of Britain from the World War Two Blitz by Alan G. Sandall (out of print)

I dislike conflict but it is something we all have to deal with, to some degree, at some point in our lives. I do believe that there is usually room to take a better path though; and we should all try to look for it.