As a frequent visitor and skeptic on the HPANWO forum, it has to be said that you get to see a good deal of hit and run posters. That is those that post something rather silly then disappear when questioned. Well one turned up the other day calling themselves Stephen and they left this message:
“Hi, I’m new here but I wanted to show you people how the true nature of the universe is actually a tiny, inverted one. Cyrus Teed’s foundational premise that the Earth’s surface is concave and all the planets, sun, moon and stars are actually very small in relation to it and fit inside a hollow, inverted Earth has never been debunked. In addition to his theory I want to point out the optical illusory effects of the glass ceiling about 70 miles high that plays tricks on the eye and causes one to perceive the sun and moon as spherical but are actually not.”
I don’t think in all the years I have been reading into conspiracy theories have I come across something so absurd. No amount of reason could tempt Stephen away from his notion that the stars are tiny and everything is contained at the centre of the Earth. Although it turns out he isn’t some Poe yet a fully grown man from the USA who not only content with his ‘theory’ he also thinks he is the second coming of Christ. Here are some youtube videos:
As you can see he calls himself Lord Steven Christ and all the other videos I watched are mainly the same thing, ie him telling us what he thinks is true and slagging off humanity for having the audacity to question him. When I dared comment on one of his videos he called upon me to suck his dick! Although that comes after him telling the NSA to put you in a FEMA camp and putting a curse on you.
The reason why he is so adamant of his ideas is because no-one has disproven him or his hero Cyrus Teed. Well, no-one has disproven the existence of a purple pram on Pluto, the list is endless of things that could never be disproven. It would appear Lord Steven Christ is not a well person and should take medical help. His life is not a happy one, surely. He hops from forum to forum constantly trying to get people interested in his ‘theory’ and all he gets is grief. Unless it is just a big joke, well then fair enough, haha.
I think he is genuine, I mean just look into his eyes. You cannot help but feel they are slightly maniacal looking. Anyhow he is probably harmless, but here is his website so you can make up your own mind.
Is there a way, mathematically, to decipher which of the millions of melodies is the most melodious? I wondered this about twenty years ago, even to the point where I started studying maths in the hope I could make a breakthrough. In the end I could only work out the variables that would be needed:
average notes per phrase,
length of phrase (in bars)
pitch range (in semitones)
number of phrases per melody
number of accidentals
Really for me it was an impossible task (what with not even taking into account harmony and timbre) but I was trying to take away some of the frustrating subjectiveness that is found in music. If I were to hazard a guess as to what melodies would be up there as the most tuneful then something by Tchaikovsky or the Beatles. People would still disagree even if the maths were watertight. Yet no one says things like ‘I don’t like the height of Everest’.
Note only would a mathematical equation make the subject objective it may even be able to predict even more tuneful melodies, stuff that has never been written. You could even reach a point where you have the most tuneful tune possible. Music is mathematical in that it follows patterns but is probably too non-linear to write down a happy equation, otherwise it would already been done. Yet saying that, I do get the feeling sometimes that modern pop music is composed by a machine or a software package rather than a human doing it. Could it be that we are running out of tunes hence why older ones are getting recycled more often? Every so often you get one catchy tune but they are getting further and further apart.
Music is simply three chords (tonic, dominant, subdominant) with forays into the relative minor every now and then. It could finally be argued that music is simpler than we think.
Hugh Everett III formulated a new interpretation for quantum physics. It was eventually called the Many Worlds Interpretation, although not by Everett he called it a ‘relative state’ formulation. It is fairly simple to begin with and I am probably wrong on this (being pointed in the right direction would be great) but if you make a choice of say going left or right you actually do both at the same time. Just like the double-slit experiment where the photon or electron goes through both slits at the same time as long as nothing is observing it, even a camera.
So back to Everett. If you get to the end of a road, a t-junction say, you chose to go left but another ‘you’ is going right in a different world. So you are going left and right at the same time. If I am wrong on this I don’t mind being pointed out that I am so. To take it to the extreme, every action that is possible is being acted out in different worlds right down to the fundamental level of electron and photons.
This leads to a very interesting conclusion. Quantum suicide and Quantum Immortality. It is all to do with wave functions collapsing but if someone is shot dead in another world they survive so they are dead and alive at the same time. We are constantly avoiding death. Crossing the road, driving on a motorway, eating and choking, having a heart attack and surviving. Perhaps we never die because we are dodging death at every turn without knowing it. Yet we can witness others die. What becomes of us then? Do we reach 120 years old and find our cells stop reproducing and we just die of old age? So what happens to the brain? It can’t function without oxygen and glucose, but everything a human did in their life is stored there. Maybe in the future the brain could be tapped for information and brought back alive somehow. That has gone of on a tangent slightly, I’m just thinking out loud and utilising the creative writing training I have. Gone a bit sci-fi.
There are plenty of websites about Everett and his ideas. All very interesting.
After having some neat piece of advertising on the HPANWO radio show last night which added no extra traffic to this flop of a blog I had asked to be referred to as a ‘Skeptical Skeptic’. Ben did ponder as to what one was even after saying it was an apt name on facebook. I suppose it means awkwardly skeptical, in other words unless you can prove something with extraordinary evidence I won’t believe you.
If I saw the loch ness monster appear before my eyes I still wouldn’t believe it until it was captured and analyzed to prove it was indeed a cryptozoological creature. Or I would imagine I was hallucinating. Even if I had taken 800 mg of quetiapine everyday for ten years I would assume the drug was not working. Why? Because that is more plausible. What if others witnessed such an event? Well they too would be hallucinating. The thing is I don’t want to believe in anything that goes against scientific inquiry or the scientific method. Why? Because it is sloppy and lazy to just make fiction up and pass it off as fact.
That is what most of the conspiracy world is; poorly written fiction. You can have a hard on over aliens hiding in RAF bunkers or planes pumping out toxic fumes to poison us all, that includes fluoride as well. It doesn’t even make for a decent storyline, yet people gobble it up, but why? Perhaps it makes sense in someone else’s mind other than my own. Perhaps it correlates in some bizarre fashion. It clicks for them and makes some ‘sane’ connections. Doesn’t make it true though. I’d love to know what percentage of the online world is made up of these disastrous brains spewing vomit all over people’s consciousnesses. The David Icke Forum is a good place to start; full of wretched souls trying to make uneducated hamfisted guesses at how the Universe works. Sometimes real science is used to explain poor science and that is why it remains on the DIF and not in some peer-reviewed journal.
So there is nothing wrong with being skeptically skeptical. I think it is healthy and interesting because science is intriguing without adding ladles of sloppy bullshit. To add HPANWO is nothing but the opinions of one man called Ben who just picks certain news articles each day and adds a bit a wikipedia research to it then a touch of conspiratorial bent.
He is a woo a wooing!
I am not talking about hymns here, but music written by composers whom traditionally write secular music. At the moment I am listening to Mozart’s Requiem Mass that just about killed him and remained unfinished in his lifetime. Yet I am not religious in any sense but this genre of music can be just as good in quality if not better then some secular compositions. Personally I am not listening to the words, being an atheist they mean nothing to me anyway. But the music can be sublime and some of my favourites include Dvorak’s requiem, JS Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion and the Mozart mentioned above.
Many composers in the 18th and 19th Century were deeply religious (it is easier to name the atheists: Brahms and Tchaikovsky.) Yet not one, to the best of my knowledge wrote a ‘God’ symphony or a Jesus Sonata. Secularism played a big part in the shaping of classical music even if the various composers were devout. Surprising that it was even allowed. For me, the perfect cross over from secular to religious is Brahms’s German Requiem. It is a requiem for people, not God. And it is deeply moving in character and depth of feeling. Which is strange because according to Dvorak Brahms ‘believes in nothing!’. I think that is why I like Brahms.
Listening to Tchaikovsky’s symphonic oeuvre I wonder as to why it moves me. What is in it that causes emotional stirrings? Not just Tchaikovsky, it can be any music; is it melody, harmony, timbre, contrast? I think it is combination of all those factors but especially contrast; sturm and drang maybe. Storm and stress; roughly translated. It is all very well having a great melody in a nice major key such as A major but it takes a true craftsperson to switch that to say C minor in a bar or two. But it has to be done cleverly and usually takes a genius to do it. Some composers may opt for a quick sudden switch, shock value if you will. Tchaikovsky does that well. Others are more subtle like Bruckner.
A pretty melody can IMO get boring after a while so harmony is instigated to liven the music up somewhat. This can play out well if you have an orchestra at your disposal but writing for the piano and the piano only takes a real skill and where contrast comes into play. You only have the one timbre to play with and a couple of pedals but such a beautiful instrument in the right hands can yield the most amazing results. Beethoven’s piano sonatas spring immediately to mind; each one a testament of how to compose for such a contraption. Chopin and Liszt illuminate the apparatus as if they have sent 1000 volts of electricity through their fingers. Yet it is simple.
Lightness and darkness, or darkness and light, hope and despair. Have your pretty melody by all means, but it means nothing if you cannot counter it with a powerful minor key 2nd subject or development section. This is what attaches this art form to the human psyche. I suppose music has to be bipolar to have any meaning. Or maybe it is just me. I like complicated music, I like a lot going on and seeing how much a composer can get out of an instrument. Take Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata; the opening theme is so utterly depressing yet grippingly awe-inspiring at the same time. And musically it is simple, but as the piece progresses it gets more and more complicated without losing its simplicity. Only Beethoven can do that. The 2nd subject offers some relief yet soon turns back to misery before it has the chance to develop in a positive fashion. Was Beethoven conscious of what he was doing? Did he plan it or did his mind just plop it onto the manuscript without a thought?
Music is littered with countless examples of contrast and they are usually the masterpieces. But it is only music, is it important? What is one meant to feel after listening to a masterpiece? Press replay, maybe and go through it again. Do that for a lifetime and what have you achieved. You will have connected with something that is sublime and unforgettable.