Posts Tagged ‘philosphy’

Jeremy Corbyn says he is going to betray “the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them,”


I normally try to avoid posts on politics, especially Labour politics, since my views lost in the Labour leadership election then in the referendum about Europe. I am clearly on the wrong side, the others won so shut up.

However, you knew that would be coming didn’t you? The headline has given away that I am going to write something about the Leader of the Labour Party, that I did not support last year.

OK, so what great political insight have I come up with that requires a breaking of my self-ordained silence on the matter? Nothing. This is not a political post but a logical one. If you ask me to be more precise, a symbolic logic one. A search for how we can decide if a statement is true or not.

Symbolic logic tries, this is my own description from what I understood studying it so I know I may be wildly off course, to represent the logic of sentences with symbols so it is easier to understand the logical meaning and consequences of what we say, are they true or not.

The beginning of my study was “and statements” and “or statements.” Sentences with and in and/or ones with or in. How do we decide if they are true?

Basically, for statements involving “and” both parts of the statement had to be true for the statement to be true. Whereas, statements involving “or”, only one half of the statement had to be true for the statement to to be true. Symbolically it works out like this, I thank for the following table:

Symbolic Logic

Conjunction (AND statements)

A conjunction is a compound statement formed by combining two statements using the word and. In symbolic logic, the conjunction of p and q is written pq.

A conjunction is true only if both the statements in it are true. The following truth table gives the truth value of p∧ depending on the truth values of p and q .

p          q         pq

T          T           T

T          F           F

F           T             F

F           F              F

So, for example, if we say “He likes oranges and lemons.” Then, if he likes lemons and oranges it is true, but if he likes lemons but not oranges then any statement saying he likes oranges and lemons or vice versa, will not be true as he does not like both of them. If he does not like both of them then any statement saying he likes both of them will not be true either.

Disjunction(OR statements)

A disjunction is a compound statement formed by combining two statements using the word or. In symbolic logic, the disjunction of p or q is written pq.

A disjunction is true if either one or both of the statements in it is true. The following truth table gives the truth value of pqp∨q depending on the truth values of pp and qq.

p           q             q

F            F                F

T             F                T

F             T                 T

T            T                T

So, if the statement is “He likes oranges or lemons.” will be true so long as he likes both of them, oranges, or lemons, but not if he hates them both.

Thus, using symbolic logic we can see that Jeremy Corbyn’s statement “I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me – or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them,” logically means, he could betray the trust of those who voted for him, or the supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them. It is an “Or statement” so he could be seeking to betray anyone.

However, if both statements are true the whole statement is true. But, if that was the case, why not use an “and statement” to make sure the logic is clear and doubly locked in? I can only assume that by not using an “and statement” and by choosing an “or statement” Jeremy, or the people who speak for him, unwittingly highlighted a truth about him, that he, and/or they, know that he will betray the trust of one of them. He cannot keep the faith with both.

Is it “those who voted for me” or “the millions of supporters who need Labour to represent them?” Who does he think his continued leadership betrays?

The headline is my answer to that question.

Feeling Gravitys Pull


I’ve written about the conversion of my albums to MP3s before, but its OK this is not going to be another of those posts. I have just finished converting my R.E.M albums and, whilst listening to Fables of the Reconstruction as I converted it, was reminded of the great song titles on the album. As well as the heading for this piece there is ‘Cant Get There From Here‘, ‘Maps And Legends‘, ‘Life And How To Live It‘ and ‘Good Advices‘.

I wonder if there is a Masters Thesis in the number of marriages saved by the rise of the plastic toothpaste tube and the decline of the aluminium one? For some reason in the 70s and 80s it was regularly said that people in relationships were always arguing about where a person squeezed a toothpaste tube. Unless they both squeezed it in the same place I guess. The point was that a toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle from the beginning is supposed to be more wasteful, as, if you start at the end and squeeze towards the top it was supposed to get more of the toothpaste out of the tube. If you try to maximise the amount of toothpaste got out of the tube when it had been squeezed from the middle it had to be rolled from the end and it then cracked, leading to toothpaste coming out of all parts of the tube except the nozzle; making a mess as well as wasting the toothpaste. How much simpler things are now eh?

Except, except, except…… My shaving gel comes in a pack where the end that you squeeze is thinner and it gets wider at the end the gel exits the tube. It is designed with the part of the tube the gel exits from at the bottom. So gravity helps the gel down the tube and the design at the end means when you can no longer get anything out, it is empty. This is so much better than the packaging used by, for example, some lying Jew hating soap producers. When you can no longer get anything out there is still quite a lot in the bottom of the container, no matter how hard you squeeze or shake it there is always quite a bit left when you come to throw it out. I have taken to leaving it, and things in similar container like washing-up liquid, upside-down so that, when I came to use it, what remained was by the exit and came out easily without too much squeezing or shaking. I know my doing this is thought of as an eccentricity and is tolerated as such.

Is there another possible problem on the horizon? Could the way the new plastic tube is stored be the new ‘squeezed end or middle’ problem? When stored in a glass, to rinse the mouth with after, does the way the tube is put in the glass make a difference? Might it lead to all sorts of marital disharmony?

To explain. In good times, when the tube is full, it poses no problem. But, as the tube empties, and it gets more difficult to get the toothpaste out, storing it the way pictured means that gravity will move all the remaining paste to the bottom. Making getting anything to clean your teeth with long-winded and difficult. Whereas, if the tube was left with the large end and the exit at the bottom, gravity would make sure that when you came to squeeze it there was enough toothpaste to put on your toothbrush without taking a lot of time and effort. As I asked before, is this the new ‘squeezed middle/bottom’ marriage destroyer? Is this more important now that families are under more pressure because of the decline in living standards and well-being since the election of the coalition?

Frankly, surely, I think we are all much too grown up to get hung up on a toothpaste tube. We, well most of us eh,(No name no pack drill but lets just say, Reading and Labour) have moved on since the 1970’s. There are more important things than toothpaste and if it is a problem people will sort it out by talking about it won’t they?

Vote early, vote often


One of the things I like Twitter for is that it allows people to share things that are interesting, challenging or just a laugh. In the past I wrote about my accumulated Management wisdom, which amounts to:

  • Do it now,
  • Get it right first time,
  • When something’s not right it’s wrong.

This blog has had a manifesto since it started but it doesn’t have a mission statement, I don’t really think it needs one. If it did then one way to get one is the ISMS Mission Statement Generator©. I don’t know who pointed me towards it but it has created a mission statement for this blog:

We will strive to sponsor iconic e-business with internal impact for the benefit of our organisation and other public services.

Then this week I was pointed to the web economy bullshit generator. In the past I have studied management theory and other similar subjects and this would have been invaluable. So, we need to “…enhance sexy e-commerce, streamline real-time e-services and aggregate bricks-and-clicks ROI.”

The weather for the past couple of weeks has been beautiful here, as many places. The first picture is of the cathedral taken from rue d’Austerlitz, next to the Au Canon restaurant earlier this week. The blue sky shows what a beautiful afternoon it was, in the high twenties as it seems to have been forever. However, at the same time the trees have started changing as can be seen from the second picture where a brown leaf made it into our hall.

As I wrote about just over a month ago, I am a Germanophile, and my study of the language included taking part in an exchange with a pupil from a school in Osnabrück. It was on these two trips that I discovered the pictured biscuits which are a couple of plain ‘rich tea‘ type biscuit as a sandwich with a chocolate cream between them. They were not regularly available in the UK at the time. The times I have been to Germany since I would often buy a packet of the biscuits. One of the things I noticed on moving here was that the biscuits were available in my local co-op. I have been very restrained and have not bought them regularly as when I do I tend to eat a number each time which would not be good for my weight. Thursday I did buy a packet. I have never had a poll on this blog before. The first one is on the subject being talked of up and down the country. Vote, vote, vote. Oh, by the way it is set up that you cannot vote often.

Elementary my dear Watson


The christmas market has long gone and the decorations have mostly come down and the number of visitors is noticeably low so a lot of the infrastructure for tourists is resting. No doubt the operators are taking their main holiday – being too busy to do so during the Summer.  So its the time for repair and the first picture is of the lock which is the exit from the basin of the Vauban Dam (wiki) which can also been seen behind, covered for its own maintenance work.  When I arrived it was possible to go up on top of the dam to the Terrasse Panoramique which was a good viewpoint for a picture of Petite France (wiki) but it has been closed for most of the time I’ve been here.  It also has a passage through it that was a very good shortcut although the old statues from the Cathédrale could make it a bit spooky as the light fell.

With the tourist visitors being at their lowest numbers the retailers near the Cathédrale are more happy about losing trade from their shops being taken over for a few days for filming.  This week the area around the centre of Strasbourg is being transformed in to the 19th century for the filming of Sherlock Holmes II.  There is quite a lot of disappointment about the non-arrival of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law for filming.  Here’s a video from about the preparations of the city for the filming.

Yes I did know that in the book Sherlock Holmes never said the words in the title.  As a philosopher I’ve been stunned at the greater interest in the subject here.  Most of the major newspapers have a philosophy correspondendent who write regular comments, they turn up on chat shows – of which there are a lot on French TV – pontificating.  So, I shouldn’t have been surprised to se the following advert but I still was:

The castle


Václev Havel is  a hero to me.  Before 1989 he was a human beacon shining for human rights in the then Czeckoslovakia.  After the fall of the wall he did the practical politics of being president of the country.  ‘To the Castle and back‘ is one of my favourite books about practical politics, setting out a wonderfully human politics but also showing that even the president of a country is frustrated about achieving nitty-gritty little things, yet he achieved a massive amount.  Being a signatory of Charter 77 (wiki) which called for human rights for the Czech people, many of which the constitution of the country and the Helsinki Accords,(wiki) which the country had signed, already guaranteed.   This inspired Charter 08 in China, one of whose signatories, Mr Liu Xiabao, has been serving an 11 year prison sentence for signing the Charter since 2009.  This week he received the Nobel Peace Prize.  Among those who nominated him for the prize was, you’re probably ahead of me here, a Mr Václav Havel.  I’d like to thank the Normster for pointing me to the Democracy Digest blog which published an English translation of the letter written by Václav Havel to Mr Liu Xiabao in which he confirmed there is a ‘moral minimum’of rights and values shared by all nations and civilizations.  (Picture on the left is of Václav Havel trying to deliver a petition in support of Liu Xiabao to the Chinese Embassy in Prague.)  I totally agree with him on this, the proponents of moral relativism are so wrong.  There are universal rights of which Human Rights are amongst the most important.  But then I would say that living in the capital of human rights, the home of the European Court of Human Rights. The letter from Václav Havel is:

Dear Liu Xiaobo

I am one of the thousands and possibly millions of people who rejoice that you have received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. It is always encouraging when one sees that respect for human rights and freedoms does not capitulate in the face of power and might, and does not make concessions to practical political and economic interests, as if often the case. You are not the only hero of the day – those who awarded you the prize are also heroes. And this award is not only comfort for you, it is a good deed for all, because it tells the whole word that it is still possible to serve the truth and such service can receive public recognition and thus be proposed to others as a source of inspiration. In other words, there is still hope.

Among other things I am profoundly convinced that if international interest in your fate  is maintained, your government will relent and release you, and then, successively, all other Chinese political prisoners. After all, it too must think in practical terms and realise that it is not in its interest to have the sort of reputation acquired by persecuting such people as you.

Like probably all the signatories of the Czechoslovak Charter 77, I am naturally touched that our campaign provided inspiration for the Chinese Charter 08. I am touched not only because it recalls our own efforts of many years ago but because it is confirmation of something I have long believed, namely, that fundamental human rights and freedoms are universal values that are shared in their basic outlines by all nations and civilisations in today’s world. I have had the opportunity to meet dissidents from many different countries and been surprised how similar their ideals, experiences and concerns are. And even the repertoire of persecutory skills of the authoritarian governments in their countries was strikingly similar and was totally unrelated to whether the governments in question went under a right-wing or a left-wing banner. There simply exists a sort of moral minimum that is common to the entire world and thanks to which people from countries as different and far apart as the Czech Republic and China can  strive for the same values and sympathise each other, thereby creating the basis for true – not simply feigned – friendship.

It is not clear when your efforts will achieve concrete successes. They need not be immediate. For the time being only partial and indirect successes might be apparent. But sooner or later the status quo in your country will change, partly because in the long term the market economy is fundamentally incompatible with authoritarian government.

You should not be perturbed by uncertainty about whether or when the struggle for human rights will bring concrete results. This was our experience: we sought to do good things because they were good and not to take into account the times or what might be gained. That approach has many advantages: not just the fact that it eliminates the possibility of disappointment, but also that is lends authenticity to the efforts in question. Being guided by tactical considerations does not win anyone over but instead tends to encourage further tactical manoeuvres. From reading your Charter 08 I am convinced that you are aware of all that.

In all events you should also be prepared for the alternative of early success. Although I am rather suspicious of those who are too prepared for history, it is necessary to be prepared to a certain extent. That is our experience. It would be splendid if you managed to draw lessons from the various blunders and confusion that our countries experienced after the fall of the Communist regime, and steer clear of them.

I send you my heartfelt greetings, dear Liu Xiaobo. I congratulate you on the Nobel Peace Prize and I wish you health and good cheer, if possible.

Yours sincerely,

Václav Havel

UPDATE: I have now finished reading ‘Life‘ by Keith Richards and greatly enjoyed it too.  Towards the end he talks about Václav Havel and I thought it worth repeating here:

“At the end of the Steel Wheels tour we liberated Prague, or so it felt.  One in Stalin’s eye.  We played a concert there soon after the revolution that ended the communist regime.  “Tanks Roll Out, Stones Roll In” was the headline.  It was a great coup by Václav Havel, the politican who had taken Czeckoslovakia through the bloodless coup only months earlier, a brliiant move.  Tanks were going out, and now we’re going to have the Stones.  We were glad to be part of it.  Havel is perhaps the only head of state who has made, or would imagine making, a speech about the role rock music played in political events leading to a revolution in the Eastern Bloc of Europe.  He is the one politican I am proud to have met.  Lovely guy.  He had a huge brass telescope in the palace, once he was president, and it was focused on the prison cell where he did six years.  “And every day I look through there to try and figure things out.”  We lit the state palace for him.  They couldn’t afford to do it, so we asked Patrick Woodroffe, our lighting guru, to relight the huge castle.  Patrick set him up, Taj Mahal’d him.  We gave Václav this little white remote control with a tongue on it.  He walked around like a kid, pushing buttons and going whoa!  It’s not often you get to hang with presidents like that and say, Jesus, I like the cat.”

The picture accompanying this post comes from this piece on Radio Prague which I listened to occasionally when it was more likely to be a broadcast about tractor production – I did really hear one about that – than about the visit of ‘decadent western musicians’!

Another 2 years?


The French government has been quite impressive in the way it has handled the media around the retirement reforms.  All the media discussion that I have seen in the Anglophone media has been aroWorkers take to the streets during a protest in Marseille, France, on Tuesday Oct.12, 2010. Teachers, mail carriers, bus drivers and other French workers tried to shut down France in a showdown with President Nicolas Sarkozy over his government's attempt to raise the retirement age by two years to save money. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)und the change in age in which you can take early retirement from 60 to 62.  Huh bolshie French think they don’t have to work and the rest of Europe should support them.

Last week I received a letter from Revenue and Customs in the UK.  It stated that in the 2008-09 tax year I earned almost enough to count as a qualifying year for my pension.  I am surprised at that because I believe I only worked for less than three weeks in the UK in that tax year.  If I make an additional contribution of less than £400 I will have another qualifying year to my pension.  I currently have 27 qualifying years to my pension and if I make 30 I will qualify for the full state pension.  I don’t know anyone who says the UK state pension is generous but it would obviously be better to have a full UK state pension when HMRC logo I retire than to not have it.  So I will pay on the assumption that I will get out after my retirement more than the almost £400 I have to pay to get closer to a full pension. 

How long do you think someone in France has to work to qualify for a full state pension?  30 years?

If this were ‘The Price is Right’ there would have to be shouts from the audience, higher, 32? Higher, 34? Higher, 36? Higher, 38? Higher, 40? Higher.  The answer is 40.5 years.

One part of the reform not much is heard about is the part of the plan to increase the number of years it is necessary to work before qualifying for a full state pension in France to 41.5 years.  A full 11.5 years more than in the UK.  When for most jobs it is necessary to train, perhaps go to university and then train afterwards, it could be the late 20’s before someone enters the workforce and starts qualifying towards their pension.  What then?

Englishman in Strasbourg has another aspect of this.  He says:

“In France, retirement is about one of the few ways you can let go of your employees legitimately without going to tribunal.  This explains why only 12% of those capable of work in the 60-64 age bracket remain employed in France, compared with 40% in the UK and 23% in Germany.”

So, the French, who are the most productive European workforce, do not get a much better deal of things and respect to them for standing up when the government tries to make their conditions of employment worse.  When I was a union steward the line was that pension was payment deferred to retirement so any attack on your pension is an attack on your terma and condition of employment.  Would people expect the French workers to take a pay cut?  No, I thought not. (Here’s a very interesting Spiegel piece on what’s happening in France.)

My accumulated management wisdom


My management philosophy has three elements.  Time management, quality management and ethics.  The first came from JTO who met someone who had been running a time management course.  She asked what the secret was and he said that if he told her she wasn’t to tell people as he would lose his lucrative living running three or four day courses on the subject but that time management could be boiled down to three words, “Do it now.”  The second came from a senior officer at Reading Borough Council, we were joking about how at the time quality management was all the rage and she said that quality was get it right first time.  Finally, the last element also comes via JTO from Bob Dylan who sang in ‘You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go’ off ‘Blood on the Tracks’;

I’ve been shooting in the dark too long

When something not right it’s wrong.”

So, my accumulated management wisdom is:

  • Do it now,
  • Get it right first time,
  • When something’s not right it’s wrong.

And you get that for free and without having to attend a residential course to learn it.

A place called home


On my previous site I had written a piece about a new place becoming home.  I don’t mean a new flat or house as they become home when you move in, disperse you possessions around it and for the fact it is the place you have chosen to be and the people you share it with are the people you want to be with.   No, I’m talking about the place that is home, the village, hamlet, town or city.

Obviously, as the saying goes, home is where the heart is, where the person or people you most care about are, where you want to be, where you are happiest, where you have chosen to be.    This was an assumption I left out of the last post.  The core  of what defines home.  After this I believe there are then layers which build upon this centre and cement the feeling of a place being you home.  I am currently reading the memior of Guenter Grass, ‘Peeling the Onion’ where he peels back layer after layer of the past, like you can peel back layer after layer of an onion.  I know an onion doesn’t really have a centre but a place becoming home is like layer after layer being added upon the centre above.  In the previous post I then talked about milestones which can add layer upon layer cementing a place to be home.  Getting to know people, having a party and people coming, being invited to and going to someone else’s party, leaving to go elsewhere and coming back, having family or friends join you and showing them around the place you now live; just bumping into a friend whilst walking around, then bumping into one  and going for a drink, spending Christmas or other special time in the place, following teams from the new place.  This is my experience as a first-time ex-pat. Do others agree/disagree?

The reason for this philosophical treatise is that today I had another layer added.  Seeking to get a jacket and a couple of shirts dry-cleaned I went to our normal dry-cleaners to find that it was closed and the proprietor had died.  It wasn’t that we were great friends or anything, but we’d chat about football, he had suggested I might like to help his son with some English, he was always cheery and friendly, even when my French meant there were difficulties communicating.  So he was a friendly acquaintance, someone who made the neighbourhood a better place and now he’s gone.  Another layer, Strasbourg more of a home, the death of an acquaintance.

Normblog has a feature on a Friday where he interviews a blogger.  The last one had included amongst his favourite music a track from the ‘Soul Mining’ album by The The.  It reminded me that I hadn’t listened to it for a long time and I got it out again and have been listening to it again.  It was something I played a lot on journeys between my home in Liverpool when I was a student there and my parent’s home, when visiting them for holidays.  It has strong links with sitting in a train and watching the English countryside pass by.  Here’s ‘This is the day’:

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