Monthly Archives: July 2012

Monkeys – suggested by @Kostika


We tend to think of ourselves as unique on this earth. Monkeys, however, allow us the at times uncomfortable awareness of ourselves by seeing our own behaviour mirrored in theirs.  The photo above, taken by Monica Szczupider, shows a group of chimps reacting to the death of their older matriarch, Dorothy. Some of them showed aggression, others confusion. The majority of them, however, watched the burial in silence. Notice the solicitousness touching between them, the hand on the shoulder or on the back.  There’s also an absence of overt expression on their faces, in that they are staring, rapt, at what is taking place in front of them. Dorothy is gone, and they are made reverent in the face of it.

Emotion, consciousness and self-identity are things that we assume are only human attributes; that we have them and other animals don’t. It seems to me, however, that a sliding scale of consciousness is much more likely, with primates in our genius showing similar behaviour and logic to ourselves. Take Koko, seen here, as an excellent example of unexpected cognitive understanding. It would be tempting to believe that monkeys are usually nicer than people, when in fact that they are as petty and cruel as us, normally. Still, we are granted a mirror on our behaviour from our nearest relatives, and can only thank Nature for letting us see clearly our absurdities, failings and strengths.

Time Travel – suggested by @jc_ie

Ah, time travel. In suggesting this, young JC managed to hit on a fantasy I’ve had for some time now. I would dearly love to go back to my teenage days, say, sixteen or seventeen years of age, and start over again. The fantasies my mind weaves, as I picture myself returned, all knowing, to my home town.


For one thing, the fear I had as a teenager would be gone, and this seems now like a miracle. I was terrified as a kid; terrified of boys, of school, of trying and then failing, of being laughed at… So, as a teenager, I didn’t really do much of anything. Oh, I dreamed a lot. But I never really made friends, went to discos, spoke to boys… I never got a job at anything that would prepare me for life, or just see me break some eggs on the way to an omelette-shaped adulthood. I regret that. I regret not having had courage to make mistakes and take a few falls on the way. So many things that seem so important then were simply not worth any worry at all. So much of that time seems unnecessarily wasted and slipped through my fingers before I could stop it. The idea of a second chance at life seems only fair.

How it would be done?

Wormhole Theory

So how would you do it? Well, most of the theories that exist out there are dependent upon time being a linear passage of events that runs on a consistent basis. From there, physicists have come up with three main ideas as to how you could travel to the past. You could travel faster than light, and then have messages or people arrive at a destination before it was sent. However, current understandings of physics require an infinite amount of energy to be applied to have this result occur. You could discover a Godel Metric, but that seems to have been disproved by the characteristics of space/time. And you could set up a wormhole, but you’d have to ensure it’s stable at both ends (don’t you just hate when you have to do that?)  Time travel in the future results in even more mind bending ideas. There is no working theory as to how it could be done, and there is also no clear way of creating a machine that would get you there.

Who is attracted to it and why.

Rembrandt; Philosopher in Meditation

Still, the idea fascinates, for both philosophers, writers and for us mere mortals. Firstly, where does time go? Seriously, where does it disappear to? We know that this time will go; we know that there will be a future time. So where does it go to? No one seems able to give you an answer on that one. That’s why time travel seems so readily available to us; it almost seems like a matter of willpower to change it, stop it, slow it down, and have it stop.

There are several people who claim to have time travelled, though most of them are clearly hoaxes or mentally unwell. A poster to internet forums by the name of John Titor, who suggested civil unrest in the US was on the way, was held to be a fraud. Most of the stories of time travel are unverifiable, which would seem to suggest that they are false – surely some one, somewhere, could come up with proof if they really did time travel? There would be some way to know if you really did manage to curve the law of physics in this manner, and some way to share that knowledge with others – at least, without seeming like a fool or madman.

One thing that the idea of time travel allows is the opportunity to interact, sure in knowledge of our lives that others don’t have. We would know to value our lives now, because we would be sure of what was to happen. It would be before loved ones were lost, opportunities wasted, chances ruined. We would never take for granted the special seconds we would have again. And we would have the wisdom of experience guide us, instead of the foolishness of youth, a conjunction that never occurs without a miracle.

Forget living your past like that; imagine what your life would be like, if you could live like that today?

Toenails – suggested by @Sharrow


This little piggie..

Whenever I think of these small, ignored body parts, I remind myself that they were, to some, utterly fascinating.

Witches found our soul in them

Delia Smith?

Witches in medieval Europe were supposed to use cast off nail clippings to conduct spells that would allow them to take control over their victims. Most of the fear mongering dealing with witches was created by those hunting them out, by the way, or by modern pagans in the 1960s seeking to create a historical link with modern pagan believers. The reason they were thought to be so useful is that the essence of the victim was thought to be retained in these cast offs, and so they could be used to find locations or even to cause pain from miles away. This was a case of fear, as well as beauty, being in the mind of the beholder.

They were mementos of those lost to us

Pilots before their final flight

A second grouping that saw value in these were the families of Kamikazi pilots. These Japanese pilots would leave home, knowing that they were never to see their families again. More than other soldiers’ sacrifice, however, was the knowledge that they would never have a funeral or be buried. So they would give to their families their nail clippings, finger and toe, so that the families would be able to show some memento of their existence.

Sign you have too much money!

Oooh, look at the pretty pretties!!

One thing I learnt while preparing for my wedding is that there is someone out there who can sell you anything. For any euro note you have, there is someone who can charge you for an item that you don’t need and won’t remember.

The same thing can be said for toenails and beauty salons: You can, in some salons, spend hundreds in getting them ready for summer, say, or just even routine pedicures. Yet with Irish summers, toes get an airing maybe one or two days at best!

A bit wasted…

So it is far to remark that a quick survey of toenails, of how they were regarded, preserved and maintained, shows us a great deal of our own history.


P.s.; don’t look up ‘toenails’ on Google unless you have a strong stomach!

“That…that ain’t right.”