A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hooptedoodle #247 - Hmmm


This was passed to me - I have no idea where it came from, and certainly no right to borrow it, but - at the end of a Christmas holiday which seems to have been dominated by arguments about how much time my son might be able to spare from his computer games and his new phone - it does have a certain wistful quality.

Of course, why should we care about the thoughts of an old man, with wrinkly skin and unconditioned hair? [No - I am referring to Albert...]

9 comments:

  1. I think its fair to say that Einstein was a genius on so many levels.You must be getting old.

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    1. Indeed so. The rate at which I am ageing is pretty much as it always was - assuming I stay well away from the speed of light - but somehow becoming old always seemed to me to be a problem for others. In other words, I was always about the same, but other people seemed to think I was getting old, and behaved towards me accordingly. I see now that I might have been mistaken. Sometimes I believe I may be beginning to lose interest in what passes for progress.

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  2. Son-in-law is a lecturer at a thoroughly modern university which encourages feedback from its service users (you'd be wrong to assume they're students there to learn). At the end of each academic year students are required to submit feedback forms and last year's batch included two gems. I can't remember the exact quote for the first, but it was a complaint that no photocopies or lecture notes were provided, which meant that students had to actually attend classes if they weren't to be disadvantaged and they were expected to read and quote sources. The second I can quote more or less directly: "It's unfair for tutors to assume prior knowledge of the subject and they continually ask questions during lactures and tutorials"
    That's from the allegedly educated five percent, God help us. Not so much advances in technology as the evolution of a consumer society.

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    1. The world is driven by the profits of the smartphone manufacturers, and by the ad revenues generated by Facebook. It is a privilege to belong, to conform, to join in. I used to travel on buses and trains, and I used to work on song arrangements, or write stuff, or think about stuff. Does anyone actually do that sort of thing now? Would Einstein have ever had his great vision on the tramcar in Bern, if he had been texting his pals at the same time? Have we, perchance, lost something?

      I am not downhearted - tomorrow I must drive my van over to Fife, and I shall see the wonderful new bridge. I like it. Now that is progress.

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  3. Ah, but did he say this though? I have my suspicions about this quote. The use of the term idiots is a touch pejorative for a rational thinker like Einstein and it taps too easily into our old boy scepticism of modern habits.

    The closest quote I could find attributed to Einstein from which this has probably been created is this -

    "It’s become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity".

    And I think he's talking about the powerful forces that science had unleashed rather than predicting an intellectual breakdown of society.

    I'm in the University 'business' as well and the more depressing feedback from some of my students is the fact that paying tuition fees has led many to believe that they are buying a degree, as opposed to financing the opportunity to study for one.

    These are, I think, far from happy times to be young.

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    1. Why, bless your heart.

      I really didn't bother checking the quote - I was confident someone else might take this on. I think this confirms the risks of using secondary sources - I should really have spoken directly to Einstein. It is a well-known fact, of course, that Einstein, along with Napoleon and Wellington and many others, never went anywhere or said anything unless there was a scribe handy to record it. Every time I watch the film "Waterloo" I am reminded that they omit the bit where Napoleon accuses Soult of stealing his pencil sharpener.

      It was never easy to be young. Equally, it has always been true that it is a little easier for those who opt not to spend their entire time with their heads jammed up their arses.

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  4. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, "Don't trust everything you read on the internet".
    Several times this year while driving I have had to sharply apply the brake to avoid running down a young person walking with eyes fixed on a phone, or wearing earphones and a vacant gaze, or sometimes both. I am convinced that future generations will have a permanent stoop thanks to their phones, unless future generations move on to direct neural stimulation via implants, but by then all cars will be driverless so they will probably be ok.
    As for getting old, I noticed that while my wife was hospitalized for much of November and December, the nurses were overwhelmingly a third of her age, and while many were quite competent, they treated her and addressed her in the patronizing tones that one uses with those in their dotage. She found it infuriating to have her life, wisdom, extensive education and experience dismissed out of hand. Of course, it didn't help that she was on a ward where a large number of dementia cases were warehoused. I have resolved never to end up in such a place. I shall drink a large amount of scotch and paint thinner and then throw myself on top of a large 28mm pike block.

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    1. I believe it was Lincoln, yes - it is attributed to his Gettysburg Email Address (abe.the.babe@gettysburg.com).

      Your idea for a heroic way to go out is splendid. I wish I'd thought of that - I shall quote it as soon as possible.

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  5. In Melbourne town (the proper one, not the village in Florida) one person per week is struck by a tram. Admittedly we have too many people, and the largest tram network in the world, but still ... it takes an especially zombie-like frame of mind not to notice a 40 tonne steel behemoth bearing down on you with squealing brakes and clanging bell. I attribute this exclusively to "smart" phones used by daft people.

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