Happy Fibonacci Day!

November 23, 2021

1123 — the first numbers in the Fibonacci sequence — allows us to celebrate November 23rd as Fibonacci Day. This is in honour of Italian Leonardo Bonacci of Pisa who discussed the sequence in 1202.

The Fibonacci sequence goes as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity. Each number is the sum of the previous two. They were known in India well before Fibonacci and were called Virahanka numbers.

It might seem just like a simple mathematician’s trick, but the Fibonacci sequence is found throughout nature. For example, the petals on flowers follow the sequence — most flowers have three (like lilies and irises), five (parnassia, rose hips) or eight (cosmea), 13 (some daisies), 21 (chicory), 34, 55 or 89 (asteraceae). Spirals, such as in pine cones or conch shells, are also built up in Fibonacci sequences.

One could spend an entire Fibonacci Day finding more examples, from spiral galaxies to DNA sequences to fractal diagrams.


False Memory Syndrome

November 22, 2021

Fifty-eight years ago today, my mother and father visited their closest friends, Ron and Betty, who lived a few miles from us in West London. I was in the backseat of the small black car.  It smelled of leather and my parents’ cigarettes. I was sullen because I was just turned 14 years old and I had far better things to do than visit my parents’ old fogie friends to play cards.

I remember this all so clearly because, just as we pulled up outside Ron and Betty’s row house, the car radio broke off its normal programming and a solemn voice replaced the happy chatter.  The voice announced that President John F. Kennedy of the United States had been shot and probably killed.  I can still feel the goose-flesh that crawled over my skin. I remember the loud gasp as my father realized what had been said.  John Kennedy was one of my father’s heroes, and he was mine too. He was our hope for the future, and now he was dead. Nothing else about that evening do I remember. I’m sure my folks and their friends discussed the assassination, but that has passed from recall.

Within two years of that day, though, JFK had — in my eyes at least — fallen from the pedestal upon which his charisma, his beautiful family, and his martyrdom had placed him.  He was quickly revealed as just another centre-right US politician who was happy to send the boys to war, who was happy to squander the nation’s wealth on weapons and imperialism, who had no answer to segregation but brother Bobby’s federal agents.  We also learned (perhaps we always knew) he wasn’t quite such a great family man, either; that Camelot was an expensive sham.

Kennedy and his people lived in the tuxedoed world of High Society that was soon to be swept away by the real world of Soul on Ice and Revolver.  We might have hated that big Texas bully who followed Kennedy, but it was Kennedy not Johnson who pushed the US into South Vietnam, and it was Johnson not Kennedy who brought forward the Civil Rights Acts. Looking back, we can now see that both Kennedy and Johnson were equal participants in the cabaret that is America the Superpower. Unfortunately for the truth, Kennedy will always have the smile, the beautiful wife, the cute John-John and Caroline, while Johnson will always be pulling the ears off those damn beagles.


Remembering Joe Hill

November 19, 2021

Today is the 106th anniversary of the murder by the state of the great Wobbly songwriter and martyr Joe Hill.

A minute’s silence, and then back to the important work that still remains unfinished.  As he said: “Don’t mourn; organize!”


Memoir: A Day of Infinite Possibilities

November 9, 2021

It was 9th November 1989 and I was watching TV, watching the news from Berlin.  And soon a dozen people are hacking at the Wall from both sides and the party has begun and CNN’s cameras bring this extraordinary and historic wish-fulfillment into the living rooms of the world, and my living room in particular that November night.

And within moments, it seemed, there were thousands singing and candles blazing. And even though I was in Vancouver at the time, my heart was with them because at heart I was and remain a Londoner. And Berlin is VERY close to home to Londoners, especially to those who had spent decades watching people die as they tried to go over and under and around the Wall. And I wept openly and for days when the Wall came down.

It was a day of ultimate possibilities because here was an impossibility happening in front of our tear-misty TV-mediated eyes.


Night Music: Woman

November 8, 2021


Shubh Diwali 2021

November 4, 2021

Diwali2013


On Being Seventy-Two

October 29, 2021

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Today is my birthday, which I share with Bob Ross, Joseph Goebbels, and the ballpoint pen.

I am seventy-two years old.   Just saying that feels unreal.  When I was born in 1949, average life expectancy for a man in the UK was about 65 years; I have somehow managed to beat that.

I am part of the generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty, and who made terribly dangerous choices on a regular basis throughout their thirties and forties. By the 1990s, what with all the drugs and the booze and the carousing, I was certain I couldn’t possibly reach fifty, and I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to.

Now, I have kids in their late forties, grand-children in their mid-twenties, and I am sure that great-grand-children can’t be far away.

The fact that I am still here, walking and talking and pretending (to myself at least) to be young, is astonishing, a wonder, a miracle of modern medicine, and a tribute to the Everloving who takes such good care of me.

My future keeps catching up to my present and I hope it keeps doing so for a long time.  After all, I have promised myself my first ever Big Mac on my one hundredth birthday!


1066 And All That

October 14, 2021

Today is the 955th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings which the Normans won thus allowing them to take over the country of England.

bayeux_tapestry_scene57_harold_deathKing Harold of England didn’t have much time to enjoy his reign. Between being chosen king in early January of 1066 after the death of King Ethelred, and Harold’s own death this day in the same year, the guy had done nothing but march the length of the country twice, and fight two major battles.

Having rid the north of England of a major Viking threat by his devastating victory at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, Harold and his surviving troops had immediately to march back to the south coast. They were tired and footsore but put up a heck of a fight in a losing cause against a Norman army under William the Bastard.

It is hard to imagine what history would have been like had Harold won and pushed William back into the sea. In many ways, the old English foundations — language, legal rights, succession, governance styles — eventually survived to take control once again after a hundred years or more of Norman culture and bureaucratic management. But the Norman influence on our speech, our countryside, our architecture is unmistakable. Even more important in the longest scheme has been the involvement of Britain in Europe through the Norman connection, and the centuries-long entanglements that ensued.

Not many things get remembered almost a thousand years after they have happened. The Battle of Hastings is a vital part of global history, and it is good that we remember it today.


Happy Birthday Gemma!

September 28, 2021

Gemma 2016

 

Happy birthday to our beautiful grand-daughter!  She takes after her gorgeous mother.

 


Poem For Battle of Britain Day

September 15, 2021

We Shall….

 

If a miracle

or the toss of a coin

could have summoned peace

and coated our wounds with a soothing balm

we would not have been tardy

to accept it

in those forlorn days of 1939 and 1940

but as the umber clouds of autumn

turned first to dusky grey and then to the darkest night

of wartime winter

and then it’s spring again

and our boys again

are battling for the open blue skies again

and we settle in for the long haul

we accept that their sacrifice

shall not be in vain

and we pray not for a miracle

or a coin toss

but for victory

 

 

The original Battle of Britain Day was 15 September 1940.


9/11 and the Death of Democracy

September 11, 2021

Forty-eight years ago, on 9/11 in 1973, the US-financed-and-organized plan to overthrow the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was put into action.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the violent military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

allende

What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the extraordinary litany of war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.


Happy Birthday Victoria!

September 9, 2021

Happy birthday to the most wonderful daughter a father could ever wish for, and a fabulous mother to our grand-daughter!


Shanah Tovah!

September 6, 2021

On Labour Day Remember the Wobblies!

September 6, 2021

IWW


Still Remembering Sacco & Vanzetti

August 23, 2021

This is the 94th anniversary of the murder by the State of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for the crime of being anarchists.

fe992-sacco_and_vanzetti_protest

“What from the splendid dead
We have inherited –
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued –
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does not overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.”

— Edna St Vincent Millay “Justice Denied in Massachusetts

Lest we forget.


To Be A Canadian

August 18, 2021

Thirty-five years ago today I became a Canadian citizen. perhaps the proudest and most satisfying day of my life.  In about two months from now, I will have lived in Canada, in Vancouver, for forty-two years — much more than half my life.

These lengths of time seem strangely enormous to me looking back because I had had a quite long and interesting life (with wives and children and a career) in England and Europe before I ever came here.  And that previous life — during the fascinating 1950s, 60s and 70s — now seems like a necessary and irreplaceable prologue to what my life became afterwards.

There were seriously important people and things that I left behind; but I don’t believe in regrets because they have no value. Even if I did, I cannot imagine that my life was anything but greatly enhanced by moving to Vancouver.  I am still a proud Brit, an unreconstructed Welsh Londoner, but I am prouder still of being — by choice — a Vancouverite, of being Canadian.


A Great Day To Remember

August 12, 2021

Twenty-one years ago today, at sunset, the Everloving and I stood on the dock at Trout Lake and plighted our troth. There were a few friends with us, we sang “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life“, and we had our wedding supper at Wazubbee’s.

Her mother said it wouldn’t last a year. My mother said it wouldn’t last a year. Just goes to show, mothers are not always right.


Remembering Hiroshima, 76 Years Ago

August 6, 2021

Today we need to remember the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their people, utterly destroyed by atomic bombs this week in 1945.

I spent my early life in Europe during the hottest days of the Cold War, worried every single day that these scenes would be repeated in London and Berlin and Moscow.

Let us continue to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and do whatever we can to ensure that such events never happen again.


Dada and the Everloving

July 14, 2021

dada 2On July 14th 1916, one hundred and five years ago today, Hugo Ball, a poet, inaugurated the public life of the Dada art movement by reading the First Manifesto during a soiree at the Waag Hall in Zurich.  This followed along with Marcel Duchamps “anti-art” of 1913. As Ball expressed it, “For us, art is not an end in itself … but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”

Dada was always intended to upset, perhaps even offend. It was left-wing, it was anti-war and it was anti-bourgeois.

handsExactly thirty years later, the everloving was born.  Simple coincidence? That’s not for me to say. But she is definitly left-leaning and anti-war.

Born in the industrial northeast, raised in and finally escaped from Kansas — where women are chattel and a genuine throwback is Governor — she is a very bright spot in our Grandview world today and everyday.

Happy birthday sweetheart!


Happy Tau Day!

June 28, 2021

I have for many years enjoyed celebrating each 14th March as Pi Day, in honour of pi = 3.14….  However, I have been persuaded that Tau Day is at least as important if not more so.

The value of Tau = 2pi and is thus celebrated on 28th June (6.28).  Why this is important is explained in this good short piece from ScienceNews.

“The simplest way to see the failure of pi is to consider angles, which in mathematics are typically measured in radians. Pi is the number of radians in half a circle, not a whole circle. That makes things confusing: For example, the angle at the tip of a slice of pizza — an eighth of a pie — isn’t π/8, but π/4. In contrast, using tau, the pizza-slice angle is simply τ/8. Put another way, tau is the number of radians in a full circle.

That factor of two is a big deal. Trigonometry — the study of the angles and lines found in shapes such as triangles — can be a confusing whirlwind for students, full of blindly plugging numbers into calculators. That’s especially true when it comes to sine and cosine, two important functions in trigonometry. Many trigonometry problems involve calculating the sine or cosine of an angle. When graphed, the two functions look like a series of wiggles, shaped a bit like an “S” on its side, that repeat the same values every 2π. That means pi covers only half of an S. Tau, on the other hand, covers the full wiggle, a more intuitive measure.”

So, Happy Tau Day to you all!