What makes people happy? Happiness is of course a complex issue whose complexities I'm not going to discuss, but the Understanding Society survey suggests that married couples, married for less than five years and with no children, are the happiest people of all, although Oscar winners are also happy.
But what else makes people happy? I wonder what it could be? Let me think now, what could be a sure fire way of ignoring all the world's problems? Hmmmm, oh yes, I remember, did you know that having a religion makes people happy? It doesn't even have to be the true religion, like Christianity, any religion will do, no matter how nutty it is? If there's anything guaranteed to help you forget all about this world's troubles, it's to imagine that everything will all be sorted out later in magicland. It's so much more useful than mindless delusion. A famous theologian agrees with me, so I must be right.
I suppose it's because we people of faith have hope. Those of you who don't have an Invisible Magic Friend obviously don't have any hope. You have to rely on people sorting out their own problems and we all know what a waste of time that is! People of faith also benefit from a strong sense of community and a healthier lifestyle.
Just telling people to "don't worry, be happy", can be quite irritating. As one of my favourite hip hop bands says Damn if I say it you can slap me right here (Get it) lets get this party started right, Right on, c'mon.
But it's not just that people of faith have hope, community and health, it's also that we flourish throughout life, are open to change and are so much less selfish than everyone else. We get this through knowing the beauty, goodness and wisdom of the Invisible Magic Friend.
So despite being married 19 years, having two children and no likelihood of an Oscar, I'm off to do a bit of flourishing today. How sad it must be for those of you who are not in my happy state? Excuse me while I stick my fingers in my ears and go "La, la, la, la, la..."
Friday, 25 February, 2011, 09:55 AM - TFTDI won't be around to do the Platitude of the Day tomorrow (Sat 26 Feb). So if anyone happens to be up early enough on Saturday morning and fancies having a go, then be my guest.
Well things are certainly happening.
This reminds me of a story from the Big Book of Magic Stuff Part I (the original and still the best Big Book of Magic Stuff).
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived which is why he built the Temple to the Invisible Magic Friend. Then he got himself 1000 wives, which just goes to show the benefit of being the wisest man who ever lived. Then Solomon died and Rehoboam became king. The people said,
“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
So Rehoboam went to the wise elders and said.
"What shall I say to the people who say, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you'?"
And the wise elders said,
"Say to the people who say, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you', that you will lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on them, and they will serve you."
But having sought the wise advice of the wise elders, Rehoboam unwisely ignored their wise advice. He went to the less wise youngsters and said,
"The wise elders have said that I should say to the people who say 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you', that I will lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on them, and they will serve me.
"What do you say I should say to the people who say, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you'?"
And the unwise youngsters said,
"Ignore the advice of the wise elders who say you should say to the people who say 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you', that you should lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on them, and they will serve you.
"Say instead to the people who say, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you', that 'My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.'"
Rehoboam unwisely took the unwise advice of the unwise youngsters. He went to the people who said, "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you," and said,
"Oh people who say, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you', I say unto you, 'My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.'"
And the people who said "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you" said,
"Well sod you, we're off to seek freedom under Jeroboam, an alternative hereditary absolute monarch with a slightly different name."
Things never change do they? It's exactly the same today. Well, tut tut.
Derek Redmond struggled over the finish line, in the arms of his dad, despite a hamstring injury. Some know-it-all surgeon told him he would never represent his country in sport again, to which Redmond responded by sending him a signed photograph when he had secured his place in the GB basketball team.
Two of my children overcame disabilities in order to go to university. Although they struggled at first, they persevered. Despite being told that he would never hold onto a job or marry, next year my son's going to get a Masters in Mathematics.
Perseverance in sport or academia is a bit like perseverance in faith. Everyone's favourite apostle, Saint Paul, used sporting metaphors over and over again, that's why we always quote the same two endlessly on TFTD. You must fight the good fight and run the race to win the prize.
Don't you want to be like Saint Paul, Derek Redmond and my two children, one of whom is only a year away from his Masters in Mathematics? No matter how ridiculous the basis or how absurd the arguments, don't you want to keep the faith? Don't you want to struggle to be heroically last?
Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow
We all have roots, where our cultural values originate, places where we were born, where our fathers and our fathers' fathers and our fathers' fathers' fathers were born. Many of these places allow children to be adopted. Some even allow adoption without any sense of shame - none at all. What's important is what is good for the child.
The government has revised the rules on adoption. A child's race will no longer be of such importance in finding suitable adoptive parents.
Conceivably this is possibly, just maybe, a potentially not so bad thing, perhaps. India may be the place of my fathers and my fathers' fathers and my fathers' fathers' fathers, and that place of my fathers and my fathers' fathers and my fathers' fathers' fathers will always be part of me, but I don't agree with absolutely every cultural trait from the land of my fathers and my fathers' fathers and my fathers' fathers' fathers. So maybe race and culture are not so static and well defined as we sometimes suggest.
Muslims tend to be confused about adoption. Islam, as the religion of peace, tolerance, love and caring, exists to help the poor, the widows and of course, the orphans. It is really, really important, and as a Professor of Islamic Studies I can't emphasise this enough to you, Radio 4 listeners, that orphans be looked after.
Perhaps it is time to look beyond a child's race, culture and yes, perhaps, possibly, maybe, even their religion. Won't someone please, please think of the children.
They all want freedom in the Middle Easht (hic!). They've toppled Moo-baa-rack. Gadflyfi's shtill hanging on in there. But what is (hic!) freedom?
Is it a shymbol, a great dream that they lay down their (hic!) lives for? What will they get inshtead of the autocrats? Theocrats? Military autocrats? Democrats? Aristocats? We've already sheen one revolving-cushion go horribly wrong, where an oppressive regime wash (hic!) removed, only to be replace (hic!) replaced by a bunsh of religish nuttersh.
Thish putsh me in mind of the Parable of the Grand Inquisitor from Dosh-toy-(hic!)-inshki's novel, The Brothers Kalashnikov. Jeshus comes to Sheville during the inqui-(hic!) inqui-shishon, where he is promptly arreshted (hic!) by a bunch of religish nuttersh.
"I didn't expect that," said Jesus.
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition," replied the Grand Inquisitor.
The moral is clear (hic!).
http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/news/In ... ticle.html
Monday, 21 February, 2011, 08:31 AM - Rabbi Lionel BlueRating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)
Good morning John, good morning Jim and good morning to you all.
Well isn't the news just terrible, whatever it is. I don't pretend to know how it all happened or how it should all be solved, but I do want to point out that it's all happened before.
Long, long ago, when I was a lad and woolly mammoths still roamed the great icy plains, we had an economic downturn too. People moaned about the lack of crumpets to toast while sitting at their mammy's knee. At times like these, people become angered and embittered, they turn to scapegoats. Well let me tell you this is precisely how Nazi Germany started.
My friend, Baroness Vera von der Heydt, she was a baroness you know, lost everything to the Nazis when she came to Britain. She didn't remain all bitter and twisted. Instead, she prayed to the Invisible Magic Friend and he told her to become a psychoanalyst.
I too wandered from chapel to chapel, being bitter and muttering bitterly.
"What should I do?", I asked the Invisible Magic Friend.
"WELL, YOU'RE IN A CHAPEL, WHY NOT BECOME A RABBI?"
"What a good idea," I said.
Laughter is also a good way of not being bitter, so here's a joke that I learned long, long ago, in the distant past, from my grandfather, who was married to my grandmother, that being the accepted fashion at the time.
A Jewish beggar finds a £5 note, but being the Sabbath doesn't want to pick it up.
"What will I do, oh Invisible Magic Friend?" he cried.
The LORD understood his problem, and in his divine mercy, waived the death penalty for gathering fuel on the Sabbath.
"LET IT BE WEDNESDAY WHERE YOU ARE," said the Invisible Magic Friend.
Well, time for bed. Good night John, good night Jim and good night to you all. Good night Invisible Magic Friend.
"GOOD NIGHT LIONEL."
Rev Dr. (hon. Kingston) Dr. (hon. St. Andrews) Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Human Rights Commissioner, Council Member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
Is your GPS playing up lately? That's because of the recent coronal mass ejection from the sun. It's something to do with sunspots and the sun reaching it's "maximum", which sounds kinda cool. Anyway, the sun's been throwing billions of tons of whatever it is it's made of, out into the solar system. And it's done it before. In 1989 it blew out the power systems in Quebec. It's all very fascinating and awe inspiring and complicated and stuff, but I'm only a simple country Rev Dr Dr and I don't really understand it, so I'm going to talk about something else instead.
Amongst the other things I don't understand is the Invisible Magic Friend, which is why I've been invited on here as an expert to talk about him. I don't comprehend what he is in the crucible of his own being. He makes the sun shine and is even bigger and brighter and lovelier than the sun, and as majestic and powerful and awesome. If you ever came close to the Invisible Magic Friend that I don't know anything about, you'd be blasted away by the raw energy of him. He's so loving and really, really big and full of justice and you wouldn't want to be around when he does an ejection.
We've got hymns to him that explain how immortal and invisible and incomprehensible he is and an entire Big Book of Magic Stuff to explain how we don't understand him.
Isn't the Invisible Magic Friend that we don't understand just fantastic! Now that's reality.
Friday, 18 February, 2011, 10:03 AM - Not TFTDMy eagerly anticipated copy of Richard Feynman's book on Quantum Mechanics arrived yesterday.
For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Feynman took an idea by Dirac and turned it into a completely different (but equivalent) version of QM as devised by Heisenberg, Schrödinger and Dirac. (This was Feynman's graduate work!) In Feynman's formulation, particles take all possible paths between a source and a destination. When he first explained his ideas to Freeman Dyson, Dyson responded "You're crazy!" which is the response of most people when they first hear it, but nowadays, Fenyman's ideas are indispensable tools in the Standard Model of particle physics.
Near the start of the book Feynman describes the famous double slit experiment, but performed with electrons rather than light. He says that the experiment hadn't actually been performed, which at the time was true, but physicists were sufficiently confident in QM that they could predict it's results.
This updated version of the book provides a link to an experiment performed by researchers at Hitachi with a beautiful video showing clear interference bands between electrons, just like QM says there should be.