Fandango’s Provocative Question (30 October 2019)

We’re at Wednesday again, and Fandango has posted another Provocative Question, where he asks us to ponder an issue each week. This week, he’s asking whether the phone call has become obsolete.

At the outset, I have to say that I don’t have a clear-cut answer. I read about Fandango’s own use of phones and it is quite similar to my own. Hardly makes any, hardly receives any, and very judicious about the calls he does and doesn’t take. All those things apply to me too, with the added twist that for 90% of my online activity, I use a traditional Windows laptop. No phone was even remotely involved in the creation of this post.

So, just considering my own scenario, I can agree that yes, phones calls are way past their prime. But I can think of two examples to the contrary.

Last night, I picked up the phone to wish my aunt a Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday, Auntie Margaret. She has a mobile phone, but has never even used a computer. So whilst I guess a text message is an option, the internet certainly isn’t. As it happens, neither of us are big users of text messages.

Also, I did my telephone volunteering session yesterday afternoon. By definition, that is using the phone to speak to people. Some of the clients view the telephone as just another method of communication, but some of them only have the phone. It’s quite scary, when I myself use computers so much. But nevertheless, true. I think nothing of looking up the movies at the cinema, or what time the next bus goes, but for them, it isn’t an option.

The one thing my auntie and my clients have in common is age. My auntie is almost eighty and my clients typically range from seventies to nineties. So, perhaps it is a generational thing?

Probably. A lot of people think that the computer is going to meltdown when they hit the wrong button. When I hit the wrong button, I tend to blame the program, for not making it obvious which button I was meant to press. So, a whole different perspective. But I can think of an example which even shoots down my age-related argument.

My daughter is twenty. She’s quite close to my wife, but not to me. They both have Apple tech. They use Facetime video quite a bit to speak to each other. As you might guess, my daughter is remote. Thank goodness!

But there are also a surprisingly large amount of voice calls mixed in. (My daughter will usually want to speak to my wife two or three times per day. It seems weird that somebody should be that dependent, but there we go. I’m a cold fish.)

I mean, my daughter is different to me. I have a landline, used mostly now for internet, and regard my cellphone as something I must remember to take out with me. She, on the other hand, does everything though her cellphone. So, there might well be a discussion to be had on whether the landline has become obsolete. But fundamentally, she still relies on that voice communication, and at least fifty years younger than my other example.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback (25 October 2019)

It is that time of the week again, and Fandango has posted his Friday Flashback. He uses his post to re-blog something from this day in a previous year, and I try to follow suit.

My blogging is purely spontaneous, I write when I feel like it, and in previous years I have gone days or weeks between posts. This week, I can just about get within a few days of the anniversary.

A very short post from a couple of years ago. Don’t worry – I have long since reconciled myself to it being a topsy-turvy world – that people having dumb ideas earn a lot more than I ever did!

Mister Bump

I was up at the hospital the other week. All the signs there are that NHS white-on-blue, with the exception on those to the Eye Clinic, which are bumble-bee black on yellow. Great, must make it easier for people with vision issues to find the place.

And then you think, “what if they’re not going to the eye clinic?”

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Lost in Translation

I’m still quite green on this platform. To this post, I would actually like some responses, please, if you feel inclined.

I follow a blog on here. I found it early. They comment on things sometimes, which is how I first found them. I receive notifications of their posts – mostly quite a few, at least a dozen per day. Mostly not writing themselves, but reposting material. That’s fine, I can live with that. I can skim past the reposts very quickly, and just click through to the original blogger’s page if the title takes my fancy, or to show my appreciation.

This morning I came across “quote of the day” a regular. I quite like the quotes that people have come up with, little gems to help you start the day. This morning’s:

Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.


As far as I’m concerned, a great one-liner. In fact I’d go further and say that we should ecourage all the time, regardless of censure, sun or showers. That’s my #1 goal on here – I know it is small potatoes but I hope my likes and my comments encourage other bloggers. The late Tony Benn [a UK politician] was almost ninety when he died, and he used to say that the job of old people was to encourage. Again, for me, doesn’t matter what the age – we encourage each other, period. I think that the only thing about age is that the older you are, the more likely you are to actually realise that.

So I commented:

That’s our job. All ages really, but especially as we get older. To encourage.

and thought nothing more of it. I didn’t think it was particularly humourous. And just now, I had a “laughing” smiley face response, a 😀 . Not a “like”, not a smile, not even a proper word, just one of these emoticon things that I never really got the hang of.

I know that over of Facebook, a “laugh” response normally means “your contribution is so pathetic that it makes me laugh”, i.e. purely sarcastic. But so far I have found wordpress to be a whole lot more civilised and yes, good-natured.

So I would be grateful if one of you old hands could explain to a noob exactly what they think this “comment” actually means.

A Philosophical Wednesday Afternoon

Ahhh. Wednesday afternoon and it is time to downtools to address Fandango’s Provocative Question. This week he’s asking whether it is true when people say they’ve seen it all before – how well do we innovate new ideas.

There is a semi-flippant answer to this question. In terms of our knowledge, I think we do innovate. For example, in the whole of human history, nobody ever had an iPhone 10 before. Is that the latest one? I don’t keep track. But even if you had an older phone (presumably at one stage, there was an iPhone 1!) their latest gadget must be barely recognisable.

Whilst I think the iPhone is evidence enough, I think we can always find more elegant examples in human history. Once upon a time, nobody had any idea about the sky or the stars – nighttime might as well have been somebody drawing a curtain over the earth. Only later did we learn about our atmosphere, other atmospheres, stars, hydrogen, fusion….

So I conclude that our (humankind’s) knowledge increases with time, and probably not linearly either – we have probably learned more in the last hundred years than we did in the previous thousand. The limit? Well, I suppose physics is the limit*.

However as I read Fandango’s question, my mind instantly sprang to a quote by Spanish philosopher George Santayana:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana

I’m sure that this quotation will ring true for many of us. How often have we seen politicians, especially, make the same mistakes time and again?

My post today will not be a long one (sighs of relief). Probably that quotation is enough, but I would also point out its origin. From his The Life of Reason, written in 1905-6. Over a hundred years ago. Why do we think he wrote this? Because, way back in 1905, he witnessed those same mistakes, made over and over again. Just as we have in the hundred years since.

* – until we find otherwise

Fandango’s Friday Flashback

He catches me every time! He reminds me that it is Friday once again, reminds me how little I have accomplished this week! Yes, Fandango has published his Friday Flashback, and prompted me to go scurrying around for a post of my own.

I find it helpful to write thoughts down, it helps to turn them into coherent ideas. One of the reasons I like blogging in particular is that it allows me to explore subjects in perhaps a greater detail than I’d want to in a Facebook post.

One of my interests is in current affairs and politics. I’m a guy in my fifties, so many of my beliefs are pretty-much cast in stone. But some issues are ambiguous. I’m not sure. That they are ambiguous makes them interesting.

Here is one such question.

The backdrop is that here in the UK we will be coming up to Remembrance Day in a couple of weeks time. The day we take out to remember our veterans. I guess pretty similar to Veterans’ Day in the USA, although I don’t know for sure. My ponderings go a bit further though. A conflict may be right or wrong, so what responsibility does a serviceman have, to call it out when they think it is wrong?

I’m sorry, it rambles a bit – probably relects my own uncertainty on the issue. A year later (to the day) and I hope my current writing is a little clearer.

Mister Bump

In the UK, we are coming up to Remembrance Sunday once again. I must admit, I’ve struggled with this in recent years.

A hundred years ago, say, for example, in World War One, the average man-in-the-street would not have known about, or would have had a limited view of, world events. They would have trusted the judgement of their “betters”, who sent them off to war.

If people had known what they now know about the reasons, would they have been so prepared to fight? Especially as the “war to end all wars” was repeated just 25 years later? Certainly, as I understand it, we were sucked into war almost accidentally, due mainly to distant alliances coming into play, and was far from clear-cut.

On to World War Two, and I think is an easy one to justify, in the light of Hitler’s behaviour towards minorities such as Jews, for…

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Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Fandango has posted another provocative question, in which he asks us to opine on the most significant event in human history.

Human history? Okay, so straight away, things like the Big Bang and dinosaur extinctions are out. I’m also going to leave to one side disease, which has played a very significant part in our proliferation.

Actually, in human history, I would go for an event in just about living memory, the rise and fall of the Nazis.

There are all sorts of lessons there. Even beforehand, we had an American government which was isolationist, which deliberately looked the other way. And we had European governments who were only too willing to appease, to look the other way as well. We know from history that the signs were there, even pre-war. But communications weren’t then what they are today, so perhaps leader might argue that there was reasonable doubt? Even Hitler himself looked inwards – it was the National Socialist Party, after all, and one of its slogans was Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer. Indeed, I think that one of the undeniably good things about the EU, which itself came out of the war, is that it fosters a spirit of looking beyond national boundaries – and in that respect, Brexit worries me.

So I think there are lessons there for us all. Firstly, about looking the other way, and secondly about the dangers of allowing a weak man to become sufficiently powerful that he may destroy us.

That last point makes me uncomfortable. I can quite happily be anti- the UK’s recent wars, Afghanistan, Iraq, even Libya, but can’t they be justified as trying to prevent a weak regime from becoming stronger? So I think there are deeper questions to be answered – it’s no good bombing villagers in Syria, for example, then claiming we’ve hurt Assad.

Overshadowing the whole of the Nazi regime was the Holocaust, I could quite justifiably have claimed this as my subject, but I think the wider subject contains more overall lessons.

An attempt to eradicate a whole race of people – which very nearly succeeded. As if they’d never even existed.

At this point I justify why my “most significant” event had to be quite a recent event. Many times in history, one race has tried to eradicate another, so just the intention is nothing new. But the Nazis had the means to do it – the organisation, the transport infrastructure, and not least the death camps. So, I think whenever we’re talking about the most, or the -est of anything, we’re pretty much confining ourselves to the age of mass transit.

I must admit to a personal connection with the Holocaust, for my wife’s mother, Belgian by birth and now just celebrated her eightieth birthday, was one of the last batches of children to come to the UK as part of the Kindertransport programme, in 1939. On her mother’s side, my wife has no family. A real effect, still felt more than 75 years on – they might have been good people, they might have been assholes, but we never knew. My daughter has a couple of aunties and a grandma, but there it stops.

I’ve written enough for today – this subject upsets me. How best to conclude? Perhaps just a few numbers? I’ve seen estimates that up to 6,000,000 Jews were killed – approximately two out of every three in Europe. A continent. Imagine that you have three friends, and two of them are just disappeared! Then mutiply it by a continent. And that number doesn’t include any other people the Nazis happened not to like – Russians, Poles, Serbs, etc.

Actually, I do want to end this with a message. That when somebody stands up and tells you to vote for them, because they know who is responsible for all your ills, think twice!

3-2-1 Quote Me

I have been challenged to complete a 3-2-1 Quote Me prompt, initiated by Rory from A Guy Called Bloke. Hello, Rory!

Rory’s rules for this challenge are:

  • Thank the person who tagged you — thank you, Fandango.
  • Post two quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day: lifestyle
  • Select three bloggers to take part in ‘3-2-1 Quote Me!’

…and the subject this time around is lifestyles.

Now, I have only been on here two seconds, so don’t really know any of you well enough to judge how you’ll respond to being “selected”, so will pass on that one this time. However if you’d like to take part, please just do so and pingback to this post.

That just leaves the quotes. The first one is easy. Sorry, no fancy graphics.

We refuse to be what you wanted us to be,
We are what we are, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Bob Marley, Babylon System

which I think is an excellent philosophy, no matter what lifestyle you happen to follow. My second quote, I’m not sure it is strictly lifestyle, but it could certainly be applied to our outlook on life:

“Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself”

Tony Benn

For my American friends, Tony Benn was a British politician (1925-2014). In addition to serving for a time in the top tier of our government, he was also an acclaimed diarist. I’m a big admirer of his, have read most of his work, and was lucky enough to hear and to meet him. As I take part in future challenges, I will doubtless be quoting him further.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback – 27 September 2019

Well, it is Friday lunchtime once again, and I’ve had quite a productive morning. Diem, my Diabetes web site – in nearing completion. But more on that later…

I saw in my Inbox a notification from my WordPress friend Fandango. Every Friday, he posts a “Flashback” post, something that he posted on this day in a previous year. The intention is just to give the reader an idea of what he was up to back then.

So, I follow suit. Rather than just reblogging my old post, I wanted to provide a short commentary, complete with links and formatting, and I haven’t worked out if I can do that yet with WordPress’s “reblog” button.

Earlier on in my recovery, I used to be involved with other stroke survivors in a peer support group. It was a very informal affair – we met in a certain coffee shop at a certain time, and just caught up with each other for a few hours.

Peer support is a big deal. When you first come out of hospital, you can’t be bothered with things like computers and you don’t have the strength to get out, so you just sit there in the chair all day, thinking “I’m the only guy who ever went through this”. And you gradually get your head straight enough to use a computer, and your body strong enough to leave the house, and lo-and-behold you realise you’re not alone. That other people have gone before you.

That’s why peer support is a big deal. You’re meeting people precisely because they’ve had the same experience as you.

Our group was very laissez-faire. You either turned up, or you didn’t. I was somebody who did turn up because I think it is important to be consistent. But this state of affairs meant that several times, I turned up on my own. Even getting to this coffee shop was a five-hour roundtrip for me, and if I was going to spend that time sitting on my own… well, I can think of better things to do.

I don’t want to re-gurgitate the original post in my commentary. Plus, there are other posts in the blog which tell more of the story (same category), if anybody is interested. Suffice it to say that I stopped going a year ago. The group presumably folded. I have the contact details of a couple of the guys who went occasionally, but I’m not really in contact. Sad, but people move on. They moved on. I moved on.

The “better thing I could be doing” is developing my own software, which brings me full circle. With one product released, and another almost there, I guess you could say it has worked out okay. And, I still meet with other stroke survivors, by virtue of the charity work I do at the hospital. If one of them sees me, and thinks “I’m not the only guy…”, then it is worthwhile.

With all this in mind, I hope you enjoy the post.