4 October 2020
You heard it here first!
From my blog of 1 September last year:
“My flabber would be less than ghasted if it transpired that [Donald Trump’s] tax returns show that his businesses lost a lot of money in recent years and he just doesn’t want anybody to know how incompetent a businessman he is.”
Earlier this week, the American Tax Justice Network said Trump’s tax returns show that “Trump is either a very bad businessman or a tax cheat who is not respecting the tax system … Probably both are true.”
Trump’s election campaign wasn’t helped by the childishness of his interruptions on what was over-optimistically billed as a presidential ‘debate’ while Joe Biden’s campaign raised $3.8m in the hour immediately following its broadcast.
Then he and Melania tested positive for Covid-19 and he’s now been given oxygen and taken into hospital. Anybody who is surprised by an obese 74-year old man who has taken minimal steps to protect himself and believes this non-existent virus will go away on its own should sit down and have a nice cup of tea. Anyway, I‘m sure you’ll join me in wishing him a full but slow and protracted recovery.
The misogynist fringe Christian group called ‘People of Praise’ is deleting all references to and pictures of Amy Coney Barrett from its website before her appointment as a supreme court judge is considered because of “[members’] concerns about their and their families’ privacy due to heightened media attention”. This could be paraphrased as “We’d all be embarrassed if the world discovered how potty Barrett and the rest of us actually are so we’re going to pretend we don’t exist”.
What a pity her name isn’t Amy Coney Rabbit.
Nothing happened in the UK except
- Covid-19 infections continued to increase exponentially,
- even more bits of the country got locked down,
- there was no substantive progress towards a Brexit deal despite the (understandably decreasing) patience of the EU and a ‘no deal’ departure became even more likely,
- councillors in Cumbria who probably couldn’t even spell global warming have approved a new deep coalmine,
- share prices continued to fall back again,
- more business are making more staff (but not directors) redundant,
- high streets and town centres are threatened,
- storm Alex blew through the country and
- Jenni Murray retired from ‘Woman’s Hour’ after 33 years.
So let’s talk about crop circles which are just one of a whole bunch of things on the fringes of our knowledge that fascinate me, including everything from spontaneous human combustion to psychotherapy to telepathy to unified field theories to dowsing to fortune telling to why some people bag up their dog’s poo and leave the bag in the woods rather than taking it home and leaving it in their own garden.
A friend who knows much more about crop circles than I ever will has been educating me about crop circles and has pointed me at some writings and pictures which make it obvious that ‘circle’ is a rather simplistic way of describing them. With the introduction of drones, aerial photographs become much easier to take and some of them are hugely complex and mathematically precise patterns of neat lines and circles and arcs (thank you Mary Chapin Carpenter for that image) – and, incidentally, very beautiful.
A reference to crop circles was published in Nature in July 1880 by John Capron, who thought that the “circular spots” were induced by cyclonic winds and, a century later, the meteorologist Terence Meaden proposed more specifically that airflows in undulating countryside stabilised small whirlwinds long enough to create them.
There is evidence, some only anecdotal, of crop circles in Southern Africa, North America, Australia and on the continent but most of them seem to be found in Southern England and arguments continue about how they were created.
In 1991, two men from Hampshire, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, admitted having been creating crop circles since 1978 although they never claimed to have invented them. In the 21st century, designs have become ever more complex and impressive and have included fractal designs and ‘pictures’ such as a particularly impressive jellyfish in Oxfordshire in 2009.
These developments of course coincide with developments in technology from lasers to GPS and computer modelling which allow the design of such complex patterns. One particularly complex pattern took three nights to complete, which does rather imply human intervention, but the artists leave remarkably little evidence of this.
Other explanations have naturally been suggested, such as underlying soil changes, either natural or caused by earth movements involved when ancient earthworks, now buried, were built. And, of course, aliens who arrive invisibly in the middle of the night and leave messages in the crops which we just haven’t yet deciphered. For example, if you’ve never seen Chinese ideograms, it would be easy to imagine them as the doodles of an artistically precocious child without realising they convey a message like “I’ve gone to bed, your supper’s in the dog.”
Despite all this, I remain open-minded – and I do realise this is at least partly because I would like to believe in ‘magic’ (i.e. something that our scientific knowledge can’t yet explain, like healing powers and what balances the mass of the universe) and that not all of them are created by mischievous humans – but I do worry about their apparent Anglocentricity and, more generally, about humanity’s arrogant assumption that it is nearing a total understanding of life, the universe and everything, which seems so vastly unlikely.
I also worry about whether we could communicate with an alien intelligence. Imagine our trying to explain the workings of an internal combustion engine – make it a diesel for the sake of simplicity – to an ancient Egyptian while they were on a tea break from building a pyramid, or an alien trying to explain why a blangyriff will always apsicardle.
By the way, just in case you were wondering what to buy me for Christmas, one of these would do – doesn’t it look quite wonderful!
My wife thinks I need to become a paramedic to qualify for one so I might have to settle for a compliment about how brilliant I would be if I were a paramedic and if I had one of these and if my dystonic tremor allowed me to fly it safely. If we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs if we had some eggs.