Posted on  UTC 2024-04-01 02:01

23.04.2024 – St. George's day

A representation of St. George in the church of Sankt Georg in a village near mine.

George giving it good and hard to the dragon

Image: FoS

He has a determined expression, quite butch in fact, apart from overdoing the rouge a tad. And that helmet: 'Kiss me quick' or what?

18.04.2024 – Even more site changes

The hosting provider for Figures of Speech has carried out a major version update of the database used by the search function. As a result, I have been able to add some features to the search function: Site search.

09.04.2024 – Donald Trump vs. Father Time

No one can really dispute that Joe Biden (81) has the kind of serious physical and mental impairments that are common in someone of his age. He's not ageing well. The thought of what he would be like if he were to be elected and serve another four year term has to be a worry, even for his most tribal supporters.

In contrast, Donald Trump (77) radiates much greater energy and has no obvious problems with his mental faculties. His mastery of social media and particularly the fine art of trolling his opponents show a high level of cognitive ability.

This is the Donald Trump we know from nearly all of his public appearances – it's a smart operator who can troll his enemies with a police mugshot:

Fulton County Sheriff's Office, mugshot of Donald Trump.

Image: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

But when we compare President Trump's carefully groomed appearance in interviews or at political rallies with more informal shots such as these that were taken at a recent golf tournament, we realise that Trump, too, is now an old man. Though certainly not as decrepit as his opponent, we catch hints that age is taking its toll on him too.

Various recent photographs of Donald Trump.

Various recent photographs of Donald Trump. Image: Source: various; montage: FoS.

The first two photos illustrate the golden rule that elderly gentlemen, even ex-presidents, should in public always wear a good shirt with the collar closed and a respectable tie. The other photos show the perils of breaking this rule.

07.04.2024 – Paradise lost

After a few days of rain and temperatures no longer below zero, the snow retreats and the meadows start to wake up. The earliest flowers appear as if from nowhere, perfectly timed for the first bees and the occasional butterfly.

FoS image, size 708x809

Observe that these are not leafy plants with flowers attached, but flowers with a few spindly leaves. Leaves can come later – the present task is to catch the eye of the passing pollinators.

On sunny, south-facing banks gentians appear, seemingly overnight. The throat of the flower and particularly its striae glow brightly in ultraviolet light, signalling the pollinator's landing path. At alpine altitudes UV light is strong, a reason why the colours of alpine flowers appear so intense, even to human eyes. Nature is harmony.

FoS image, size 708x605

A blessed distraction from the gruesome world of humans, which is anything but harmony at the moment.

Then it all went wrong and the human world intruded in the form of a middle-aged woman walker who crossed my path. After a platitude or two she looked pointedly at my camera and asked me whether I took a lot of photographs. Quite a lot, I told her, since I have always wanted to keep a diary, but being lazy and undisciplined, taking photographs seemed to me to be the next best thing.

Did I realise, she responded, how much energy the datacentres of the world needed to store everyone's photos. Not, she added, that she was saying I should stop taking photos, but just did I realise how much precious energy that used?

Well, there is plenty of energy, I replied – coal, gas, oil, nuclear, we just need to pump it or produce it. This prompted an agonised lecture about storms, temperatures, plants dying off, floods, droughts, glaciers retreating. We were already well over the danger mark of 1.5°C warming.

I thought of the gentians, basking in the sun.

In my experience you can't argue with the climate deluded. The best you can do is to get a few jabs in and hope it stimulates some self-doubt. I told her that Hannibal's elephants were happy not to have glaciers to trouble them and that in her journey down to the town in the valley she would experience a warming of around 4°C without suffering or even noticing it, so 1.5°C didn't seem very frightening to me.

She told me she understood that 'older people' like me were not concerned about what was going to happen in our children's future.

That's it. There comes a point when you just can't go on with this demented rubbish. I'm 36, I said – I've had a hard life.

On that our ways parted. She strode off down the hill, happy to have proof that climate change deniers are lunatics. For me, however, all the deep happiness of the natural world in spring had evaporated and my thoughts were once again in that gruesome world of humans.

31.03.2024 – Thought for the Day

Easter Sunday. Even a grumpy, wrinkled atheist like me can enjoy Easter – weather improving, Nature waking up etc. – so I'm grateful to the Christians for this institution. Which does not mean that I believe any of the doctrinal nonsense on which it rests. For me, the figure of the crucified one in Galilee has the same ontological status as the Easter Bunny.

I consider myself a respectful atheist, which means that I prefer to leave believers in peace, however deluded or deranged their ideas are. But there are times when the sheer number of those who subscribe to such nonsense gives me pause. Particularly the number of US citizens.

The Daily Signal brings us the results of a Scott Rasmussen National Survey poll conducted on 20 and 21 March. From this we learn that '[n]early 70% of registered voters believe that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead' … 'by a margin of 68% to 13%'.

These 'voters' are the ones who, in November, will have to choose between the erratic Donald Trump and, it seems at the moment, the senile Joe Biden. Perhaps there is a god. Perhaps this god enjoys the symmetry of having a mass of delusional voters selecting their President from two such oddities.

Mid-march snowdrops in the wasteland.

Mid-march snowdrops on a wasteland of old building rubble. Could be a metaphor for something. Could be just a photo of some snowdrops. Image: FoS

The core message of Easter for Christians is that god cares about people. If there is a god, he(?) manifestly does not give a fig about humans – history gives us no examples of a beneficial divine intervention in the affairs of man, but very many examples where a bit of divine intervention would have been very nice, thank you, but never happened.

The Greeks and Romans viewed their gods as rather tetchy tricksters, who might aid you, or refrain from harming you, or more likely bring catastrophe down on your head. Best to do what you could to keep them onside. They had their favourite humans, but certainly didn't care in a general way for the mass of plodders. This is a much healthier and much more realistic model for life in our hostile universe than the Christian 'god is love' model.

So perhaps this god is calmly watching yet another civilisation, the works and days of defective, insignificant humans, lining itself up for obliteration, perhaps thinking of his son's words in the Sermon on the Mount, most of them, if you are honest, incomprehensible:

… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Bible, Matthew 5:45 [Authorized King James Version].

At this moment, this Easter Sunday, it looks as though there will be a hard rain falling soon on all of us. Happy Easter!

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