Back on the V-wagon after a minor faceoff on the game.

Four months ago I blogged about my struggle with vegetarianism and, not long after that, I reasoned that I would become vegetarian.

It seemed an ethical, moral and karmic nobrainer once the cartesian calculations were done.

And I lasted.. month after month after month (ie three months) until today when I became a faceeater once more.

It wasn't a drunken kebab implosion. Or a Christmas Turkey break. It was the result of a reasoning process that went a little something like this:

I am going to the woods with a bunch of men to do manly things.
It's my responsibility to provide lunch.
I will get some hunted game as this has not suffered much, if at all, and would have a good and wild life, far from industrial meat.
Moreover, I will casserole it, thus dissolving any remnant negative karmic payload.

So here I am, a vegetarian for about 6 hours, and thats Ok with me.

As a man who has spent years more than most with my face in a handheld screen, I have to agree. Now feel a low, but real, a shandy strength shame, even checking a message as I walk through the day. I feel something close to smug, scented with contempt, when I eye the many, hands up, heads bent, faces glued, eyes skewed. It's a time sink, and a waste, it's rude and it's crass, it's enslaving and ensuring and sucking out... the ripe of life and spitting it, with tapping fingers into the pointless aether or... This technology I was at the start of, the featureless set of features I have dreamt of and been close to the heart of, is a shackle for a shekel for a "like", for a score that makes me want to shout across the street or the restaurant or the forecourt, "Tech down!" "Phone away!" "Disconnect!" This is not great. This is not good. This is not any network to liberate, and yet, I am proud, I just got 512 on 2048;)

Abstaining from Abstain The Grain for one experimental week.

So... I was wheat free for a longish time until last week when, as an experiment, I thought I would try going back on the wheat to see if there was any effect. Now of course, I must be aware of confirmation bias, potential cognitive dissonance and anti placebo type effects but on the whole I hope I can be at least impartial enough to get some grasp on wheat and gluten's effects on me.

Firstly, let me say I enjoyed it. There is something incomparable to nice bread. I also ate a lot of it and a little of it on different days, to se if i could notice any effect. 

Secondly, there were negative effects, in order of my perceived impact, 1 being highest:

  1. My appetite went up dramatically. This occurred in a general sense and in the sense of wanting to eat more wheat. 
  2. I had Sloth. Especially after eating a lot of wheat. It was very discernible, and unmistakably negitavising.
  3. I had what they call brain fog. This might be a low level but persistent version of Sloth, or it might be a distinct effect. I would describe it as having a head a bit like a hangover but without any headache.
  4. My mood was down. This is a hard one to discern but it does seem that way, especially on the Friday night when I ate it first. 
  5. I put on five pounds, which is the heaviest I have been for many months.
I am now going back to Abstain The Grain. I was pretty open to the possibility, if I found no neg effects, of eating it, but a week later I'm pretty convinced that wheat is not good for me. This is a judgement independent of the mounting scientific confirmation of the claim, and based just on my experience over the last week.

A Cartesian Analysis of My Sticky Below Window Area.

A question from myself and my father in law:

  1. My car, 7 years ago, had company decals on both front doors.
  2. Just over a month ago I tried taking them off. 
  3. The first one came off a breeze, in one go. I think I even have it in my shed. A decal intacticus.
  4. The second one, I tried to take off right afterwards.
    1. It was a disaster.
      1. It would not come off except in tiny bits.
        1. Even after trying:
          1. WD40
          2. Furniture polish
          3. Elbow grease
  5. The second, the passengers side decal, remains in a state that can only be described as a disappointing attachment.

  1. Questions about the above state of affairs:
    1. How is it possible that two identical decals can have two radically different dis-adhesions?

Our speculations and deductions:

  • The Cause Of Difference must must occur in time.
  • The COD can be:
    • Formative
      • When decal P was made, decal D was made differently with regard to its adhesion.
    • Applicative:
      • Decal P was applied differently to decal D:
        • Perhaps the technician had a cup of tea before the driver's side, and after the passenger side, and this delay changed the properties of the glue.
    • Instantiative:
      • The COD is caused by change in the instances after application.
      • These changes can be:
        • Environmental:
        • Perhaps one side gets more weathering from wind or sun.
        • Internal:
        • Perhaps one side gets more heat from the engine than the other.
    • The domain of the COD is most probably to do with heat.
      • As opposed to:
        • Electrical
        • Aerodynamic
        • Gosh, what else?

Answers on an e-postcard please....

The Death of Google Reader reminds me of the Death of Newsraider.

A long time ago in a development house, far, far away we were working hard on our cross-platform application called "NewsRaider". It was an advanced program that would go to news websites, find the unread articles, strip them of all the adverts, junk and irrelevancies and then output them to a bespoke application on a handheld, desktop, PDA and website. In its time NewsRaider (published by Proporta), was pretty advanced and, for a while, it gained that popularity of momentum that our TomeRaider app had for many years, at least in SW lifespan terms. We were proud of it.


I remember the day well. I was in the office in Columbo when Dilan, the director and lead coder, called me over and said, to paraphrase, "look at this, this kills NewsRaider, doesn't it?"

What We were looking at was Google's Brand new "Reader" website. Dilan was right, the web based approach meant that our bespoke install based approach, no matter how innovative, couldn't compete with great free gifts in the cloud..  Pretty much there and then, we realised the game was up, for "Newsraider." Another one bites the dust(this principle gives software development a vibrancy that most wouldn't expect).

I loved Google Reader as much as a grown man can love a web-based news aggregator, and with no bitterness, I was an avid user, right from the start. In many ways, I felt its greatest fan, for many years. 

Today(ish), Google Reader itself got disinterized by Google. That which creates, also destroys. The cause of the anhiliation of the loved newsaggreation remains largley unspecified. Google Reader has joined Newsraider and Diggfeeder in the place where dead software goes, and there is a mystery as to the motive, to my mind.

Like the Mccafees, I am not bitter. But I am a little surprised.

Tech On Down

Planned Disergonomics

Ergonomics is the study/practice/art that sees the harmonics and aims to optimise them. In chairs, this would be comfort, space, physiological... etc. In a computer program it would be memory use, processor use, interface efficiency, portability, and so on.

If something is "disergonomic" then it negativises the the ergonomics of a system (ergonomics is an architectonic(system) property). Traditionally, diserganomics come about due to bad design or bad implementation skills, but there is a demonstrable sense in which diserganomics has been, and will be, intentional, that is, planned diserganomics.:

Consider the Godaddy Control Panel: you don't need to have seen the GCP to be able to understand the planned diserganomics of the GCP. It is designed not to be ergonomic but to be disergonomic; it approaches maximally awkward - it wants you to spend as much of your eye-time on its adverts and upsells as is ergonomically possible. That is business rational (Duh!), but it means that the Godaddy customers get their precious time wasted.

Ooops a stove.

Ostensibly this blog is about applying Cartesian principles to home economics  Mr and Mrs Moneytard both follow these simple principles when it comes to optimising our domestic environments. Why would anyone not?

But today my other party could find no Cartesian path from where they saw our economic status to my new purchase of a two thousand pound wood burning stove.

"You did what?!"

But my justification for this outlandish purchase of elite camping equipment. Only available from Scandinavia.

This is the nub, the rub, the essence: it will turn pretty much anything into heat. Dry wood, wet wood, newspapers (you find yourself constantly tearing away at adverts to keep the beast fed) and , in a emergency plastic (this is not environmentally responsible, but if it would save your life and you could do it, you would do it.).

It has this stainless steel water boiler that forms its skin, its hard to explain. It never needs cleaning, just flush the ash (I am not sure of this claim yet, the glass is stained after a day. The glass is amazing, the inside shape is supposed to direct the fires light out through the glass, its  like a 1 watt electric bar fire, really cool. My other half hasn't seen it in action yet.

Anyays, they are quite irked right now.

Chase The Butterflies

I have long been a collector of the various ways we humans have found to express that abstract goodness to life, and the singular, hopeful, response to that goodness; Seize the day. Play The Game. Don't Worry, Be Happy.

My Uncle Andy died a couple of years ago, he was a great man; all thought. My older cousin, and Andy's first male nephew, Yeof , he came to stay, from LA. Just the other day. He told me how Andy had been such a fertile influence on his life; as Andy was to many. He told me of the  wise and pristine advise that his uncle had given him, without claim, many long, long years ago... .

"Chase The Butterflies"

Uncle Andy '47'10

What the internet thinks about Vitamins and Devon

I found this site today from a Vsause video called What does the internet think.

This is what I found out about vitamins:

Vitamin A: 51% Positive
Vitamin B: 94% Positive
Vitamin C: 45% Positive
Vitamin D: 99% Positive
Vitamin E: 33% Positive

This is what I found out about Devon and Cornwall:

Cornwall: 99% Positive
Devon: 41% Positive

Password remembering tip

If you want to get better at remembering your big passwords (why would anyone not use Lastpass?), consider this method: every time you enter the password correctly from your mind, give yourself a point.

"Getting pwned on ones own techdown."

We have a game in the house called Techdown. The name comes from my cousin Pinhead, he taught us how to play this game.

The rules are simple: If one person in the room calls a "Techdown," and someone else in the room follows with  a "Techdown," then all in the room must remove switch off and disconnect from any technology; including, it transpires, tin-openers. It is quite a life enhancing game if you are a tecchy kinda family.

Today we got owned, my wife and I.

We called a Techdown, and the kids played the game and teched-on-down to past Analogue Town. But then... in a moment of glee revelation, they decided to play the game to its logical conclusion. They switched everything off. Electrical and gas all over the house (we narrowly avoided the great "Is water technology?" debate before they were done). So there we were, sat in a state of Luddite stasis, which, as you would expect is easily comparable as a slice of time to sitting, faces in interfaces; connected in disconection.

RE: Baltic Anomaly: Far Stranger Than Any UFO Discovery | Truthfall

This is an interesting mystery and it's one that is happening right now (I've been following since they found it, last year)

I think it is either a:
  1. Hoax: If it is a hoax it is a very elaborate and expensive one. If it is a Hoax it is one that has not been found out by the mainstream or alternative media for many months. 
  2. Astounding Mystery: There is a designed and constructed large structure on the seabed of the Baltic sea.
  3. Astounding Coincidence: The strange apparent structure on the sea bed that contains many configurations (holes, right angles, symmetries...) that do not normally belong in nature and these rare coincidental configurations happened themselves by a statistically and demonstrably astoundingly unlikely coincidence.
  4. Erroneous Evidence: The sonar evidence, testimony, images etc is messy and unclear and it has been interpreted erroneously.

Either way, its curious and interesting to me.

Some mysterious objects

I have read a fair bit about all of these. Please read the article if interested and then let me know what you think of my conclusions:

My thoughts:

  • I think 1,2 and 10,11 are significant mysteries.
  • I think 3 and  4,8,9, 12  are interesting but not overly mysterious. 
  • I think 5, 6 and 7 are either astoundingly mysterious or mysterious hoaxes.
    • A mystery is a mysterious hoax if even if you accept that it is a hoax there remains a signifigant mystery to be solved. I figure this term belongs to Gerald Hawkins. Even if a hoax, there is a significant mystery to be solved, eg as with crop circle theorems).
    • A mystery is astounding if it's truth challenges a paradigm. For example, finding cocaine in an Egyptian is astounding.
Just my thoughts...

Of Modern Wisdoms, not Eternal No Brainers.

Any browse of a quotes dictionary for topics like kindness, honesty, wisdom, morality and positivity will always reveal a collection of, I think,  eight types of Principles Of Wisdom.

And any comparison of, who said what will show that these eight core POWs (or happy-ninja skills) are found in all the great belief systems of the world; often in uncannily similar senses.

Take one of the core suggestions/instructions, ABK. This is found in the great littérateurs time and time again:

  • The highest form of wisdom is kindness - The Talmud
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle - Plato
  • In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind's concern is charity - Alexander
  • Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses - Confucius
  • Love Your Enemies - Jesus
  • My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.- Dalai Lama
  • Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments - The Talmud
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop
  • What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Rosseau
These are just some the Eternal No Brainers...

What I find is interesting is that pretty much all of the POWs are ENBs, that is to say, there are not many new principles of universality when it come to wise suggestions. So Far I can just think of three Modern No Brainers, these are:

  • Crocker's Law
  • To Two Minute Rule (from GTD)
  • Archive Or Delete
  • (There is a fourth, perhaps in the 80% Rule/Pareto Principle?)

I don't think it was that the ancients were necessarily much wiser than us, they just had a bit of a head start, and probably ate a healthier diet of seafood, olives, fruit and qworn which gave them special abilities to see the obvious:)


Celebrating The Ancient Fastival of Janadan

Every year about this time it seems that most, like us, are thinking things like:

"I think I will diet in the New Year."
"I never want to drink again."
"It befuddles me how so few mince pies can turn into so many pounds of self-loathing."

So this year, as a family, we have decided to observe, nay... celebrate, the ancient Fastival of Janadan.

Not many people outside of Cornwall have heard of the Fastival of Janadan; a period of one month in which the foundational principal of Less is More (Le yw moy), is taken to the max and translated as Even Less is Much Much More (Hwath le yw marthys mo). 

It seems there are no specific rules to the observance of Janadan; if you will it is a pick and mix of abstinences and reductions of consumptions. 

Happy Janadan for 2012!

Don't Eat the QCH!

How to AAR

Since being in in my 40's I have started thinking more about my strategies of growing old. Hoping I remain lucky enough to remain continuing to do so. "Growing old is a privilege" and all that jazz....

I can think of lots of mini strategies that I hope to employ to MMH but one that I think is going to be essential is the steadfast pursuit of AARing. I know and have known many happy oldies... and I would say that what unites them all is that they practice AAR in conjunction with the other more obvious POWs.

The practising of AAR requires simply the recognition of the value  of AAR in MMH/ABK/ABH/ETC.

Small Disaster in Big Perspective

Recently many moments of mind have been spent thinking about the catastrophes  of the planet, be them natural or man made. The New Zealand Quake and Lybia Major being two pertinent examples. Global charity, care, the passion for compassion; all noble ideals, yet fragile they are in the face of calamity within the very shores of this green and pleasant land. 

Today I stumbled upon (not in) a disaster that, like Haiti, has remained unresolved for nearly a year. Like the Gulf Disaster there have been anonymous messages from persons unknown. A disaster, person for person, bigger than Tungunska and causing more disruption to traffic than the last ice age and yet it is has been suppressed and subdued by the British press. It if was half the size, it would still be exactly what it is.

The Beerphifany of St Carlsberg: Part Three

Last weekend was my birthday and I was in hungover bed the next day, all day. I wasn't even drunk, quite tipsy, but not drunk.

I have two issues with getting older. One is an existential angst that smothers me as I gaze into the pointless abyss of nothingness that is filled only by my pleads of "WHY IS THERE NOT MORE THAN THIS!" and the other, is that my hangovers get worse. Thanks to Dharma the angst is much better now thanks but ever onwards, year by year, my hangovers become crippling ordeals that last all Sunday, even if they began on Saturday morning.

In my twenties I could party-hearty, turn up at some all-night-tavern beneath a meat-market (a real meat-market, I wasn't being sexalist) and drink on through, like a champion. These days, even my 70 year old dad recommends I go to a doctor to get it "checked out," as he nurses his lack of hangover.

I wouldn't mind so much if I was going out and getting smashed but it's the fact that I am just getting quite tipsy that makes it so unfair. Oh yeah, poor me, bring on the somber marching band. But there is no charity for people with Age Related Alcopocalypse Syndrome, no Earth Day for men who suffer from an unfair beer related fun to suffering ratio. Men like me are on our own, even our mothers refuse to help us.

As a lone wolf, I have tried to defeat the beast. I have search-learned (ie spent not very long becoming a shallow expert on the subject thanks to the the free (for now) internet) about the subject of hangovers. I have learnt that there is a process called "ageing" which makes the way our bodies do things do them not as well as they did. Moreover, I have discovered, using the search-learning technique, that this "ageing" process is not homogeneously applied to homosapiens, we age at different rates and - this will blow your mind out of the water that is your experience - we age in different ways.

Last night I decided to drink Bitter rather than Lager. This is not quite a paradigm shift (that would be the creme de menth switch) but it was a significant change of drinking technique. Bitter is considered the drink of old men, I knew this last night, and it is right; Bitter is the drink of old men because it is an actual hangover preventative.

It works! This morning I could have jumped right back in to the fray, probably even Flaming Zambucas with my Sugar Puffs. It may even be the case that Bitter actually prevents hangovers the next day and for weeks afterwards, but more research is needed.

Is it all good, now?

Assuming that the curse has been lifted once and for all, some less male readers may well consider my problems over. They are not, there are issues that still need to be solved before I can really, with any dignity, ask for a "pint of bitter" all night.


  1. I don't really like drinking much of Bitter, after a while it starts to taste like sweet soup.
  2. It makes you feel older drinking it; that murky froth becomes a mirror of the aforementioned existential chasm.
  3. I am not sure if the hangover reduction properties are not due to the simple calculation: 4 pints of export lager equals 5 pints of bitter. (People say it's the impurities in lager, I suspect it is more to do with mathematics rather than meth-additives.)
  4. The nicest lager experience is always and always, going to be nicer than the nicest possible bitter experience. I think this may be a universal law, though it is theoretically possible that this is just my opinion.

I will end this revelation with a poem:


You do the math,
You do the time.
Can almost do Bitter,
But never white wine.

News Short Story: The Enlightenment of The Buddha


I have just put up a Short Short (1000 words) on my site.





The Last Words of The Buddha

I have argued elsewhere that we cannot really know with accuracy any of the sayings or events of the Buddha's life or teaching. At best we have shadows of shadows.

We might expect that the Last Word’s of the Buddha would be exempt from this lack of certainty and authenticity but, alas, this is also not the case. There are countless translations and interpretations and suggestions as to the Last Words and no way to know if any of them are authentic.

What we can see is that the meaning of the Buddha’s last words, in all various instances, can be divided into categories.

The first grouping of meanings captures the centrality of Impermanence and the necessity of diligence with regards to Dharma. This meaning of the Last Words comes from interpretations of the Maha Parinibbana Sutra and has such examples as:

"All compound things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"


"Everything is subject to change. Remember to practise the teachings earnestly."

The Second set of purported Last Word takes a more radical tone, especially when compared with the rigid orthodoxy of Buddhism as it is today. In this version the Buddha's Last Words implore a global scepticism (As in the Kalam Sutra) and self-guided path towards one's enlightenment and happiness.

In this view the last words are simply:

"Doubt everything. Be your own light."


If the Buddha taught the Middle Way

If the Buddha taught the Middle Way,

Why is Buddhism, Today, Enticing Enlightenment,
From so far, far away?

Thought Experiment Two: The Single Point Universe

Thought Experiment One, More Readable Version
Thought Experiment Two, More Readable Version

Please don’t do this experiment without first doing the First Thought Experiment here, The Glove Universe. I can’t be responsible for the accidents that might happen if you venture into this level of philosophy unprepared.

This thought experiment is exactly the same as with the Glove Universe, except that it will have less parts. We will simply stipulate a new Universe for the game and then look at the Truth Lists for this Universe

Imagine a universe that is just a circle. No different on the inside or out, but a circle, perfect in its simplicity.

Your Glove Universe and my Glove Universe would have been distinct, it's very unlikely we could imagine identical gloves, especially not if we started getting really trivial with our Truth List. Perhaps yours had stubbier fingers than mine or yours had thick external seams whereas mine were concealed.

With the Circle universes our Imaginings, and thus stipulations, will be identical. To see this, try to imagine a statement that could be true of your perfect Circle Universe but not True of mine. If you can imagine one in your Universe then you have cheated and not imagined a perfect circle.

Now let’s play the Truth game with this new perfectly circular board.

I will write my Lists using Bullets from now on. I am no mathmetition but perhaps I may start my Lists like this:

  • True:
    • The proportion of the area of the circle is Pi times the radius squared.

  • False:
    • The circle has four axis of symmetry.

  • Meaningless:
    • The King is dead.

It is a lot harder with Circles than Gloves to fill the Three Lists because the very act of stipulation/imagination/creation limits what’s possible to say about the Circle Universe. Also, and importantly, the fact that all circles in the Game are perfect means they must also be identical. Two things are identical if the totality of their Truth Lists contain all of the same statements on each List, as would be the case with Perfect Circles but nor red gloves. We can imagine difference in gloves, but not in perfect circles. And therefore, if follows that we can have no differneces between our Circle Universes, to show me wrong here you just need to come up with a statement that would be true of your universe but not mine (without changing the rules of the game.)

We are going to move to the even more simple "Board" for our next variant of the Game, in the next part of this Thought Experiment.

Imagine a Single Point universe.

I don’t know what that means in any deep or metaphysical sense. I can’t imagine a Single Point Universe like I think I can a Glove Universe or a cosmic Universe and I certainly cant imagine it like I can imagine yesterday’s lunch. But, just like with gloves and circles and anything else, I can fill out the Truth List for the Single Point Universe.

So... let’s play, fill out the Truth Lists for a universe that is just a point. No space or time, without change and structure.

When you try to do this, you will soon see that the Meaningless List can be added to easily, but the other two, Truth and False, are much more challenging.

There are only two true statements I can think off about the Single Point universe, and even these I am not sure what they mean. Here is my Truth List for the Single Point Universe:

  • True:
    • The Point Exists.

    • The Point is Identical with Itself.

How can I even be sure that I can have these two True Statement’s on my list? I am not sure that I can, but it strikes me that whatever “existence” is if it is True of the Glove Existing then why would it not be True of the single point existing.

We have stipulated that the universe contains no change. It follows from this stipulation that the point must be identical with itself. If it was not, there would be a change, either in sequence or structure (We shall see what these terms mean in future experiments).

Let’s look to the False List:

  • False:
    • There is no existence.

    • The Point is Identical with Itself.

The Single point universe has two False statements on its List, these are, as you can see, simply the opposite of the Truth List.

If this was the case, if the two lists contained items that couldn’t exist within the same game’s Truth lists, then we would have a problem, the most fundamental of problems, the Contradiction.

Underlying all of these Games we can play is a rule set that contains as its most fundamental rule:

There Can be No Contradictions

It doesn’t matter what Universe we try to imagine, if we are reasonable then the underlying truths of Logic dictate that things will be consistent. There can be no contradictions. Soon we will see how emergence is a dependency relationship and we will be able to test this with any statement against any possible universe and see that this NonContradiction flows thought reality, possible and actual.In onther words, if you are not prepared to accpt this m,ost fundamental rule then these Thought Experiments just cannot be for you:)

Conclusion: The Single Point Philosopher

The Single point universe is logically the most Simple Universe any thing could consistently imagine or represent. All we can say are four nontrivial staments, is "that it exists" and "thatit is identical with its self" and the negation of these two statements. That's all we can say, but as we shall see in the next experiments comes, from this most minimal of atoms we can create some amazing things. Befpore this, I think it would be good to ask the questions we cannot really answer about the Single Point Universe.

So far we havent been anywhere near what is traditionally and culturally considered the deeper side of philosophy. In fact, we haven't really been doing any "philosophising" at all in these two thought experiments. We have been reporting "the facts" about imaginary universes rather than asking the big Why/What/How? questions common to Philosophy.

As a final exercise, which is ideally suited to the bath, bed or pub, I want you to think about the Single Point Universe in as many ways as you can (or can't). Try to contemplate the Single Point universe, as we have been; asking questions and suggesting answers. Try to meditate on the single pointed universe, focussing on it with as little distraction as you can (I find this very hard!). Try to visualise the Single Point Universe, even if you never can. Try to doubt it. Try to disprove its possibility.

And when you have tried the above, try, however you can to answer these kind of questions:

  1. Could it exist?
  2. Can I make sense of it not existing?
  3. What is the differnce between it existing and not existing?
  4. Does it contain Pi?
  5. Does it the anything like time or space?
  6. Is it true that 4+6=10 in the Single Point Universe.
  7. If it exists can it then not exist?
  8. Are the Truth Lists of the Single Point Universe contained within the reality we are now in , This Universe. Are all things identical with themselves in this universe? Do all things in this universe exist in some sense in this universe?
  9. What happens if we add another point exactly like the first?

If you are like me you wont be able to clearly answer most of the above, but that really doesn't matter.

Thanks for Reading!

If you would like to read the PDF of all of these Experiments please email me:)


Thought Experiment One: The Glove Game

A more readable version can be found here.

Close your eyes and imagine an ordinary, small, red ladies glove. Imagine that in the wrist part of the glove is a slit and one side of this is a small red button. Imagine that on the other side of the slit is a small loop that can go around the button, to hold the glove in place on a hand.

You have just imagined a glove. Now I want you to imagine this glove floating in a void of nothingness. No other things, no time, no light, no observer, just the glove. I want you to imagine The Glove Universe.

In fact, you cannot imagine a universe that’s just a small red ladies glove. For a number of reasons:

You can’t imagine something being "small" if thats’ the only thing there is. Smallness is a relative property, it needs more things to be realised.

You can’t imagine something as being red if there is no light and no observer. "Colour’s" don’t make sense in the glove universe (Though you can imagine the surface of the Glove has properties that were it on your hand right now would make it red).

You can’t imagine just a glove because gloves are what’s called "enantiomorphs" (One of my favourite words), this means that they are left or right handed structures that cannot exist without a "counterpart."

Perhaps, even without the above three issues, we just cannot imagine universes in anything like the same way we can imagine tomorrows weather or the things we can imagine. Perhaps we can’t imagine the unimaginable.

Luckily. We don’t need need to imagine the unimaginable to be able to think about it discuss it and learn from it. Too see this point and too see some other things we are going to play an imaginary game, but one we could all play any time.

The Glove Game: Round One

Start a document that has room for three lists. You can use pen and paper, bullet points, mental notes, whatever, it really doesn’t matter. I will use bullet points for my side of the game.

Label the first List, "True List."

All you have to do to win Round One is add more True statements about the Glove Universe than I do. When we say "True" in the context of this game we mean:

True: "A statement is True about the Glove Universe if what it describes can be found within the Glove Universes."

Here is my first Truth List:

  • True:
    • The Glove has four fingers and a thumb.

When I look at the imaginary universe I see that this is True. The meanings of the words are from outside of the Universe but what they represent can be found inside the Glove universe. If you’re going to try to imagine a six fingered glove, then you lose the game because the game requires an "ordinary, small, red ladies glove."
It isn’t hard to come up with True statements about the glove as my "True List" shows:

  • True
    • The Glove has four fingers and a thumb.
    • The button is not between the index finger and the thumb.
    • The little finger is not longer than the middle finger
    • The thumb is not between any fingers.

You can add to your list and I can add to mine and on and on we go. Sometimes we may come up with statements where it isn’t so clear if the statement is True. For example, what do we say about?:

It is possible the tip of the thumb could touch the tip of the index finger if the rest of the glove remained the same.

I don’t know what to say about this. It mentions possibility and conditionals ("if the...") that don’t seem to belong. We shall discuss these in Round Three, for this round, its pretty clear, none of us can win.

If you want to imagine that the loop is has a tangent that intersects the seam of the thumb at 23% degrees, that’s fine, it’s your thought experiment and so long as your Stipulation of any single fact is consistent with your stipulations of the other facts, you can "imagine" it. And this means the Truth List is just a repository for facts that are consistent with a universe that consists of just an "ordinary, small, red ladies glove."

The Glove Game: Round Two

For the next round, we have to start on the second List. Label this the "False List".

The winner of Round Two is the person who comes up with the longest statement list of False statements about the Glove Universe. To see if a statement is False just see if the thing it describes is to be found in the Glove Universe, if it is not, then the statement is False.

Here is the start of my "False List" (Comments are in the lines below):

  • False:
    • The volume of the thumb is greater than the volumes of the other fingers combined.
      • Although we can easily imagine gloves with very big thumbs, that would be outside of the rules of this game which requires "a small red ladies glove...".
    • The glove has symmetry.
    • It is possible to weave the thumb through the other fingers
    • The glove has the same topology as a doughnut.

It’s pretty easy to come up with False Statements about the Glove Universe. And like with True Statements, when seeking False Statements we also find some statements that don’t seem to be False. For example:

    • The Glove Is underneath a Hat.

Seems to be False because the Glove is not underneath a hat. However, it’s not False and yert equally it doesn’t to be a True (That is, Not Flase.). These statements that don’t fit on either list will be discussed in Round Three.

The Glove Game: Round Three

The Third List in the game is the "Meaningless List" and it will take only statements that are meaningless relevant to the Glove Universe. This will take a little bit more to appreciate before we play.

A statement is Meaningless relative to the Glove Universe Game if it is nether True nor False about the Glove Universe. You might like to think of Meaningless statements as containing things that simply cannot be found in any possible Glove Universe.

  • True statements describe things that exist within the Glove Universe.
    • By "things" here we mean structures, relations, properties that are contingent upon the stipulation of the universe.
  • False statements describe things that do not exist within the Glove Universe.
  • Meaningless statements describe things cannot exist in the Glove Universe.
    • That is, "cannot exist" without cheating and stipulating something other than a ""a small red ladies glove...".

With an idea of what it means to be "Meaningless," here is my Meaningless List:

  • Meaningless:
    • Paris is the Capital of France.
    • Mars is often called "The Red Planet"
    • The glove is larger than an elephant.
    • All gloves are smaller than houses.
    • The glove belonged to Audry Hepburn.
    • The Glove is left handed.
    • We understand this experiment.
    • All games are not fun.

This game is rubbish!

Nobody could win Round One, nor Round Two and it now it looks like nobody can win Round Three. In fact, it strikes me that there are always going to be more meaningless statements because most possible statements simply won’t refer to things in the Glove Universe and thus, are meaningless.

Conclusion to the First Thought Experiment

This experiment has highlighted a number of things. Perhaps most importantly it’s shown what a Thought Experiment is, in case you didn’t already know. A thought experiment is simply a stipulated possible Universe that is created to be experimented on or questioned about.

We make Thought experiments all the time, "If I won the lottery I would..", "Imagine all the people, living in Harmony..."

It’s also shown that thought experiments are about what’s relevant to them by stipulation, not by assumption. You can imagine things that are not really possible to exist or imagine and yet, you can see how still we can ask relevant questions about them.

But with the Glove Game we have employed a useful tool in the Truth Lists that allows us to speak about the possible universe in a pretty precise and useful way. I hope in the next experiment you will have an even more intuitive understanding of the potential.

The last thing we saw from this experiment is that all possible statements seem to fit into only one of three categories, True, False or Meaningless and that which list any statement belongs on depends on the stipulated nature of the relevant universe. This will become very important in future experiments.

The next Experiment will be published here shortly.

Thanks for reading, keep on thinking!


A more readable version of this Doc can be found here on Google Docs.