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Havant Philosophy Forum

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Just a post to publicise the Havant Philosophy Forum (HPF), part of the Philosophy in Pubs network. This meets on the first Thursday of the month at the Spring in East Street, Havant. The next meeting will be on the 6th of October at 19:00 (that’s 7pm) and the topic for discussion will be Scientific Realism.

Written by CaptainBlack

September 3, 2016 at 14:04

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Invitation for Time Travellers

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The Havant Philosophy Forum will be discussing Time Travel paradoxes at 19:00 BST (18:00 UT) on the 7th of May 2015 at the Spring in Havant (Hampshire, UK). All time travellers are welcome.

(Note: this was not posted until after the event, so if you are not a time traveller you are reading this too late to attend. But if interested you can attend our next meeting when the topic will be TBD, on the June 5th 2015 CE)

Written by CaptainBlack

May 8, 2015 at 11:44

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The Correct Form for Islamic Death Threats?

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Are Muslims allowed to issue non-Halal death threats? Specifically when threatening to slaughter your local cartoonist is it permissible to say you will make them squeal like a pig?

Surely the appropriate response to cartoons you find offensive to your religion are cartoons critical of the beliefs of the society hosting the cartoonists, perhaps a humorous cartoon showing Voltaire in an unfavorable light?  Ahh.. but that might require a sense of humour and/or creativity, so much easier just to issue death threats or even attempt to carry them out. That is sure to win you friends and influence opinion in your favour in the host society.

Maybe they (the issuers of threats and murderers) don’t want to win approval and tolerance for their religion in secular societies. Maybe they want to create two bogie men to further their political agenda. They want to make enemies of the secular world and engender a sense of fear of the secular world in their coreligionist.

Written by CaptainBlack

February 15, 2015 at 10:18

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Price of Armour in Medieval England

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On the History Stack Exchange site some one asked (I paraphrase) “Was chain mail expensive”. I replied giving some price data found on the internet. This reply received a significant number of up-votes but then a commenter (with very high feedback score) criticised my post for not answering the question “is it expensive”, and suggesting that my answer would be a basis for answering that question.

Now as I had given data for the pay of a labourer in the period any reader could with a little effort compare the annual income of a labourer with the price data given. So only laziness is an explanation of not seeing that one could apply ones own criteria to expensive to this data. Also the site linked to also had a lot more income and price data that could be used (but relying on links on stack exchanged is considered an no-no).

Any-way here is a slightly modified version of that post:

You will find some cost/price data here: List of Prices in  Medieval England

Image of the Armour data:medieval prices

Expensive is a relative and subjective term, the best that can be done to answer the question as asked is to compare the prices with typical incomes/pay. For such a we find that a labourer would earn 1-4 pence per day (the lower pay is earlier the higher later medieval times), and a banneret was getting 4s/day (1316). Alternatively a rough conversion factor of about 1000 between prices in the mid 14th C and today could be used but it would have to be treated with extreme caution as wages and  prices structures were very different then. This could be summarised as mail (armour in general) was expensive compared to the income of a labourer and not when compared to the income of an earl. There would also be a range of prices for differing quality and used etc. A possibly good comparison good today might be a car, where a drivable old-banger can be had for less than ~£1,000 and at the top end prices exceed £1,000,000.

Currency: L – pounds, s – shillings, d – pence. 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = 1 pound

The sources:

[3] Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages, Christopher Dyer,
Cambridge University Press, 1989

[4] English Weapons & Warfare, 449-1660, A. V. B. Norman and Don
Pottinger, Barnes & Noble, 1992 (orig. 1966)

[5] The Armourer and his Craft from the XIth to the XVIth Century,
Charles ffoulkes, Dover, 1988 (orig. 1912)

[6] “The Cost of Castle Building: The Case of the Tower at Langeais,”
Bernard Bachrach, in The Medieval Castle: Romance and Reality, ed.
Kathryn Reyerson and Faye Powe, Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque, Iowa, 1984

[7] The Knight in History, Frances Gies, Harper & Row, New York, 1984

Written by CaptainBlack

January 20, 2015 at 10:12

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New Dog/Puppy

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We got a new puppy, Frodo, a few months ago. This was after a year gap since we had to have the last dog Ben euthanised. When deciding what type of puppy we wanted we narrowed the choice down to a German Sheppard, a black Labrador or a Labradoodle. The final choice was made by drawing from a hat (literally), and the Labradoodle won.

We found a familly with Labradoodle puppies, both parents Silver Labradoodles, all the puppies were black, but it seems the grey comes through as they get older. Anyway we choose one and brought him home and named him Frodo. We had all the usual problems with a new puppy but one thing that is still a problem is that the cats are still wary of them (one of them had grown up with a dog, but is still wary of Frodo, possibly because of his boisterous nature. One thing is that he is now about six month old and shows no signs of turning grey or shaggier, his coat is virtually 100% a black lab cost and strangers who see him assume he is a black lab. His body and face shape though are more poodle like. In all he is an extremely handsome dog.

His boisterous nature has also given us problems walking him, he pulls when on the lead and is prone to jump up at bicycles and strangers, making it impossible to use the expanding lead safely and of course the standard lead is too short to let him sniff about the verges. The first attempted at a solution to this was to get him a halti, but he did not like it, every time he goes out with it he spends all of the time trying to rum it off, and stepping over it. After 10 days of trying to get him used to the halti we decided to try some form of harness. I was a bit doubtful about using a harness as it looks as though it ought to make it easier for him to pull with one. Well we have been using it now for a few days and he seems to like it better than having the lead attached to his collar or the halti and it is now a pleasure to walk him (formerly it had been a continual struggle).

frodo

Frodo, in a quiet moment, at 4 months

 

Written by CaptainBlack

December 7, 2014 at 11:16

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Odd Questions Odd People Ask/are Asked?

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I am something of a stationary nut (paper, pencils, pens …) and so sometimes browse the Fountain Pen Network (FPN) bulletin board.

Quite often there are posts on FPN by people who report that they are or have copied out some literary work for practice or a gift etc. The work is often the bible (or some part thereof) or related text, which passes without comment on choice of the work. Today I was looking at FPN and noticed a post (from some days ago) from someone who has copied out Epictetus’s Enchiridion. What I find curious was that the first reply/comment contained two questions; the unremarkable “How long did it take?” follows by “Why did you choose that particular work?”.

I suppose I should not be surprised since the majority of posters are in the US and inappropriate requests for prayers and other posts which seem to implicitly assuming the reader is a  christian are relatively common.

Written by CaptainBlack

August 22, 2014 at 07:06

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History of the Torpedo Lecture

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In February I delivered my history of torpedo technology lecture for the second time. This time to the IET retirees in Portsmouth/South Hampshire.

The talk seemed to go reasonably well, though I have difficulty telling as I get carried away with what I am saying to be certain of the audience staying with me. Even including the time lost before I started and the questions afterwards it ran to two hours rather than the one scheduled. Though with 40+ slides there was no way I could have finished in an hour!

One thing that did bother me though was after the talk I was approached by one of the audience and asked how I felt about the morality of designing/building weapons (a similar question was also asked by a student at Southdowns College where a was supposedly talking about careers for maths graduates – and not pushing the Aerospace and Defence sector at all). Trying to be polite I batted the question away observing that since the probability our product being used in its service life was so small such projects should be regarded as government financed industrial training schemes for new STEM graduates who will go on to work on projects that are less morally dubious, like financial engineering and fracking.

This is not my real justification, which is certainly more complex, starting with in my questioners terms; I do not pretend to be moral. Followed up with an acknowledgement that even if the present crop of governments seem keen to undertake less than justifiable military adventures, sometimes there are wars that have to be fought. In a functioning democracy working on systems for this eventuality is not intrinsically immoral. The decision to use weapons is at the discretion of our supposedly democratic institutions and so in the end our collective responsibility.

Also; it feeds, clothes and houses my family and pays for the education of my children.

The only people who I consider have grounds for criticizing my attitude are Quakers and their ilk who’s views I respect but don’t share. I have no respect however for those who in normal times look down on the military and defence contractors but are gung-ho for some pretty dubious wars when they occur. The problem I have is with the very large proportion of the British population that seem to fall into this category.

Written by CaptainBlack

April 26, 2014 at 10:40

Posted in Blogroll