Thursday, 29 September 2016

That's the way to do it.

"My goal, both in speaking at conferences like TED and in writing my book, is to start a conversation that a wider audience can engage with and find helpful. Few things would make this goal harder to achieve than for me to speak and write like an academic philosopher."

Sam Harris - Huffington Post (May 7th 2010)
(The full text was to be found at but I have encountered problems recently.)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Another favourite part of the London Underground

A month ago, I mentioned how the Piccadilly Circus Bakerloo Crossover was my favourite part of the London Underground. So how can I have another favourite part? I can because this part is unused - and technically was never a proper part of the Underground although it was nearly. This 'other favourite part' is Highgate High Level station pictured below.

It was part of the proposed 'Northern Heights Project' and now lies derelict beside the current Highgate underground station just visible in the background. Other photographs and a better history than I can give can be found by following these links:

Disused Stations - Highgate

The Northern Heights (Part 2)

Overground - Northern Heights
(Where my favourite image is Number 22)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Epictetus - 18

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

God hath made all things in the world, nay, the world itself, free from hindrance and perfect, and its parts for the use of the whole. No other creature is capable of comprehending His administration thereof; but the reasonable being Man possesses faculties for the consideration of all these things—not only that he is himself a part, but what part he is, and how it is meet that the parts should give place to the whole. Nor is this all. Being naturally constituted noble, magnanimous, and free, he sees that the things which surround him are of two kinds. Some are free from hindrance and in the power of the will. Other are subject to hindrance, and depend on the will of other men. If then he place his own good, his own best interest, only in that which is free from hindrance and in his power, he will be free, tranquil, happy, unharmed, noble-hearted, and pious; giving thanks to all things unto God, finding fault with nothing that comes to pass, laying no charge against anything. Whereas if he place his good in outward things, depending not on the will, he must perforce be subject to hindrance and restraint, the slave of those that have power over the things he desires and fears; he must perforce be impious, as deeming himself injured at the hands of God; he must be unjust, as ever prone to claim more than his due; he must perforce be of a mean and abject spirit.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Bore Out

A BBC online article recently asked whether there was such a thing a 'Bore Out'? This was occasioned by a French man suing his former employer for "bore out" - boredom's equivalent of "burnout". He claimed to have been turned into a "professional zombie". Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case - and I don't know (or really care to know) its outcome - I suspect that there is something in it. 

To the question posed by the BBC article, my immediate response was a resounding, 'Yes!' I have worked in academia and parts of it are certainly not mind-expanding. Rather they are totally mind-destroying - the endless admin., the petty problems they students should be able to solve for themselves. It seems endless.

I chose academia because I have something of a 'perpetual student' mentality, while also wanting to share the knowledge and insight I was intent on discovering. That combination I would describe as that of a typical teacher/lecturer. Or, at least, what I used to be that of a typical teacher/lecturer in the past. Now I have colleagues who are just going through the motions; just doing it for the money. Wanting not too much hassle, they ensure that not too many students fail - even though the standard of those students is not necessarily very good. The exchanges one has with students - which, in the past, were essential to the enjoyment of working in academia - are no longer stimulating. Instead, they have become banal and mundane; largely about what has to be remembered in order to pass an exam. These exchanges are rarely about the subjects I have spent over 40 years studying and pondering over. Were it not for the fact I am still fascinated by my subject - the more so given that I have more time now that I work only part-time - I may well have gone the way of the intellectual zombies I see on campus.

Monday, 5 September 2016

More Unattributed Quotes

"It is easy to make worthless activity feel valuable. All one has to do is feel tired when it is done."

"Like anybody else, I too make mistakes. However, my mistakes are of such a standard that most people around here will never spot them!"

"You are here to understand your own bit of the universe."