Archive for ‘miscellaneous’

June 10, 2022

Human nature

by Neil Rickert

I saw this post on an Internet forum. The thread topic was about the war in Ukraine, but this post was not specifically about the war. I thought it a good description of one side of human nature:

I’ve been a commercial lawyer for over 30 years now, and in that time I’ve had a bit of exposure to the vile world of mega wealth and power. What goes on there is complex, revolting and without any degree of humanity. People only make it into that world if they are bereft of kindness and decency. Ultimately, it’s about wealth and privilege and the desire for power. That is a complex and impenetrable web of pulleys and levers.

Sadly, no revolution ever gets rid of that – it just replaces one group of dictators with another group of dictators, pulling the same pulleys and levers.

Incidentally, the author lives in England.

August 2, 2021


by Neil Rickert

I decided to take a break from my usual fare, and post something a little different.

These days, people are concerned about climate change. So there is a move toward using electric passenger cars. Thinking back to my youth, I remembered that most of our travel at that time was electric. And we did not have to worry about lithium batteries spontaneously bursting into flame.


Yes, that’s right. We mostly traveled by electric tram.

I grew up in South Perth, a suburb of Perth (Western Australia). And trams were how most people traveled, at least for local travel. It was actually quite convenient. Our house was perhaps 400 ft from a tram stop. We could quickly go downtown (i.e. to the city of Perth). And we did not need to hunt for a parking space. And I’m pretty sure that the typical carbon footprint was far smaller than what is typical today.

This was actually good for me in learning how to be independent. At around age 8, I was recruited into the choir at St George’s Cathedral (part of the Church of England in the city). So I was taking the tram to the city twice per week. One trip was for the rehearsal, and the other for the Sunday performance. I didn’t mind singing, and I got to ignore those boring sermons because it was only the singing that mattered.

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April 25, 2021

The garbage thief

by Neil Rickert

It’s been a while since I last posted, and a reader is encouraging me to post some more. The truth is that, as I get older, my enthusiasm for posting dwindles. But let’s give it a try.

I’m starting with a story that happens to be true.

In our town, we are expected to separate recyclables from regular garbage. We are required to purchase a sticker to attach to the regular garbage, but the separated recyclable items are taken for free. This is intended to give us an incentive to recycle, though I would have done it even without that incentive.

We only put out the recycling bin every 3-4 weeks. And our regular garbage is usually fairly small in quantity. The best way we can help the environment is to live our lives so as to produce very little waste.

So on Friday, we put out the regular garbage. The wasn’t enough in the recycling bin to put that out. We put the garbage in a black garbage bag, attached a sticker, and left it on the driveway near the curb. This was at around 8:30 am.

When we looked at 9 am, the garbage bag was gone. We know it was not collected the usual way. The contractors who collect it make a lot of noise, and usually collect it around 2-3 pm. So it had just disappeared.

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April 12, 2016

That must have been a rhetorical question

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at his blog, Bill Dembski asks whether listening to an audio book counts as reading.

Comments are closed, so it is impossible to give an answer.  I guess that must have been a rhetorical question.


It’s been a while since I last posted.  I’m going to try to get back into the posting habit.

October 5, 2015

My appendectomy

by Neil Rickert

I haven’t posted for a while.  I was thinking of some more topics, when reality intruded.  This post is related to how I have been spending my time over the last week or so.


Let’s start at the beginning.  Almost 2 months ago, I had what was supposed to be a routine colonoscopy.  That’s where they push a camera up one’s rear, and look around.

For the most part, a colonoscopy isn’t too bad, if only because you are under an anesthetic for most of the time.  The really unpleasant part is the “bowel prep” on the previous day.  That’s when you take some heavy laxatives to clean yourself out and make room for the equipment.

The colonoscopy itself came out okay.  There were three small polyps, which were removed and biopsied.  The test showed that they were not cancerous.

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December 23, 2013

Best wishes for the season

by Neil Rickert

Hmm, I haven’t posted for a while.  The end of semester, and exam grading happened to me.  And then I couldn’t make up my mind on exactly how to say what I wanted to say — I guess that’s a kind of writer’s block.  At this time of the year, you probably don’t want serious thinking.  So I’ll delay posting anything serious until the new year.

To all of you who are fundamentalist Christians:  Happy Holidays.  There, that should stoke up that Christian persecution complex that you so enjoy.

To everybody else:  Merry Christmas.  And if that offends you, then you need to get a life.

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October 14, 2013


by Neil Rickert

A photograph on a Panda’s Thumb post brought back memories.  It’s a picture of a grass tree.  I’m not sure of the copyright status, so you will have to visit that PT post to see the picture.  The lighting is what makes this photography particularly startling.

I grew up in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, so grass trees are very familiar.  Almost anywhere out in the bush, we would see them.  We called them blackboys, which is probably a politically incorrect term these days.  The ones that I saw were most likely Xanthorrhoea preissii, which are the common grass trees of that part of the country.

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August 14, 2013

Sean Carroll on Scientism

by Neil Rickert

Hmm, long time, no post.

Sean Carroll has a blog post on scientism that is well worth reading:

I agree with the sentiment expressed in that title.  His main point is that the word is poorly defined, and causes confusion.  I agree.  No go read the full text of his post.


January 28, 2013

Maps are false

by Neil Rickert

This is intended as a companion to my recent post “Kepler’s laws are false.”

I have, in front of me, a Rand McNally road atlas of the Chicago area.  It is a few years old, so a tad out of date.  But it is not that “out of date” aspect that I will be discussing.

I am currently looking at the part of the map that covers near where I live.  I see that some of the roads are red in the map.  But when I drive on those roads, they are the same gray/black color as most of the other roads (such as the ones shown as yellow or white in the map).

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January 10, 2013

All emeralds are green

by Neil Rickert

This is a completely made up story, that I intend to reference in a future post about induction.

Long, long ago in the small village of D’La Mere, the residents lived a relatively simple life.  They were employed in a number of different kinds of work.  Some of them would go daily to the village quarry, and collect pebbles that they could spread on their walking paths to inhibit the growth of weeds and to keep the paths from becoming muddy when it rained.

While Peter, one of the residents, was at the quarry loading gravel into his wheelbarrow, he noticed a green glint in one of those pebbles.  Looking more closely, he could see something green and perhaps crystalline behind a rocky outer crust.  He pocketed that pebble, and later took it to his friend David, a craftsman.  David was able to chip away the outer rocky crust to reveal the gleaming green part that remained.  He made it into an ornament that Peter could give to his girlfriend.

On receiving the ornament, Peter’s girlfriend Angela said “That’s very nice of you, Peter.  So what shall I call this?”  After thinking for a moment, Peter replied, “If we spell the name of our town backwards, we can use that and call it an emerald.”  “I love that name,” said Angela, giving Peter a kiss.

Word soon spread through the small village, and before long several of the residents had found emeralds.  Making emerald rings and bracelets was becoming a cottage industry.  The village mayor was very pleased at this.  So he asked Peter, “What can you tell me about emeralds?”  And Peter replied, “Since we find them by looking for the glint of green light reflecting from them, we can say that all emeralds are green.”