Standing on the shoulders of giants


5:13 pm - December 25th 2008

by MatGB    


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It is a time of year to reflect, to think upon what has come to pass, to learn from the past and thank those that brought us to where we are today. Today, especially, is an exceptional day for these endeavours, being as it is the birthday of one of the greatest and most influential men to walk those green and pleasant lands.

His works, agitation and beliefs revolutionised the world, and there isn’t a day that goes by in which we are not all grateful for his work and influence.

Merry Christmas
He stood up to Roman oppression, believed himself to be especially chosen by God and his beliefs were considered heretical by the religious leaders of his time. Indeed, he changed the way we look at the universe itself, and affirmed that all things orbit around a greater power.

What is perhaps less well known is that he was also a politician, involved in one of the most radical changes to the established order and removal of a man believed to be a nasty and brutal King in thrall to Roman influences. Acclaimed by his peers, he was elected to serve as an MP during the most important Parliament to ever sit, which established that Parliament rules this fair nation, and that governments could be replaced.

So, happy birthday Sir Isaac, and thank you.

What, you thought I’d suddenly got religious and was talking about that Jewish guy? Nah, Newton himself said they got the date wrong, the early Roman church just wanted to hijack traditional midwinter festivities; and anyway doesn’t everyone know that proper Christian regimes (and indeed early colonial New England) banned Christmas as un-Christian?

When you get some nut complaining about the loss of the “true meaning of Christmas”, offer them a beer and a pie. Because that is the true meaning of Christmas. So, y’know, eat, drink and be merry. And go watch Doctor Who.

(Image by Jennie, this article also posted to my journal)

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About the author
Mat Bowles is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He's mostly a house-husband working part-time at a local school, and is based in Calderdale, Yorkshire. A member of the Liberal Democrats, he is 35 and lives with Jennie Rigg. His general interest blog is currently hosted on Dreamwidth and his old political blog is at Not Little England.
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Story Filed Under: Arts ,Blog ,Humour ,Religion

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Reader comments


Hee! I think that works quite well on the front page, slipping in behind the taxpayer’s alliance and giving them a good goosing 😉

If I make the image any smaller it looks bad on the post page, and yeah, the holly isn’t too bad underneath the news bar on the frontpage.

Sunny? Why do we have a ‘humour’ category but not a ‘science’ category?

Also, I think we need a dedicated science writer or three. Lots of liberal topics within science and research.

Oooh! Lay Scientist was happy when we linked to him the other day. Maybe he could be brought on board?

* doesn’t dare to dream of Ben Goldacre *

Meh, I was thinking of Debi or Dave, but that’d also be cool.

Debi or Dave would be cool. Both also excellent at non-science stuff, Debi especially.

Why are you not calling it Winterval you racist? 😉

Because, um, I know what Winterval was?

Besides, PC is an illiberal communist plot propagated by stalinists and popularised by the Tory press.

Shit, sorry, serious factual point in a silly post, I’ll stop now 😉

The Prayer
Dear Lord we ask you if there are any left , yet to hear the ,old as the quills ,news
that Christmas is also Newton’s Birthday . For lo it is said, and said again; and each
new jejune smarty pants sendeth this feeble conceit echoing though the kingdoms
Of man anew . When shall we be delivered ?
Amen

The Lesson
Its interesting that you quote Blake who , as you may not be aware,( I dunno)
, considered Newton to be a deluded albeit heroic figures personifying man’s
enslavement by rationalism. He pictured him dividing the ground blind to the
reality around him .

I have come to see Liberals as people whose limited viewpoint allows the delusion
that they are uniquely charged with delivering those who are insufficiently
“progressive” from darkness and error with their shiny ‘enlightened’ thinking .How
like the missionaries of their Non conformist past who , sadly , were far less often
eaten than they deserved.

The Blessing

Still , to be fair you are more interesting than East-Enders a double dose of which is
available this eve .
Mrs. N is a pathetic addict as is my mother . Curse curse democracy oh for a
Byzantine voting system which magically excludes all but myself and like minded
people .See ; I can be Liberal too.

9. douglas clark

Newmania,

Sadly, no.

It is up to daft folk that watch East Enders, and folk like us that don’t, to swing votes. This is the thin thead that on which our democracy appears to hang…

Bloody daft, but is there a better alternative?

I don’t think so.

Its a very nice graphic… but how do we make it so it doesn’t ruin the front page? On mine, everything is skewed to the right when its on the front…

And I like the idea of science writers, as long as they can mix it with politics or media critique in the way the great Ben Goldacre does.

Sunny, what browser are you using? I checked with Fx and Opera (both standards compliant) and the image went underneath the news column and didn’t affect the layout at all.

Forgot to check in IE, but it should have done the same thing.

The two I mentioned do when they post science; I linked you to a post of Debi/InnerBrat’s ages back as a suggested post, most of her stuff on her blog is media commentary and personal, but her science analysis is good, as is her politics stuff (she denies ever writing politics posts, I keep telling her most of her content is political…).

Does anyone else wonder what happened to Newmania’s humour circuit? He’s obviously some sort of faulty spambot, but they’re normally able to understand which bits are supposed to be jokes (and I never made claim to being good at making jokes).

>Its a very nice graphic… but how do we make it so it doesn’t ruin the front page? On mine, everything is skewed to the right when its on the front…

Teaching Grandma to suck eggs, you need to resample it to whatever you’re maximum permitted image width is. Thought that WP let you do this anyway (?). Not sure how you get an incorrectly scaled image onto the front page these days :-), the only way I can do it is if I specifically load the wrong image by mistake.

>Also, I think we need a dedicated science writer or three. Lots of liberal topics within science and research.

Anything that breaks down the edges of political blogging is good, but I’m not sure that the Lay Scientist has recognised his own cultural glasses yet.

Matt

btw Happy Christmas.

15. douglas clark

Sunny,

It would be my Christmas present if Ben Goldacre started to write here.

I think the line up of writers on here is second to none, though sciencey folk are distinctly absent.

Matt, the image is hosted off site and I defined the dimensions absolutely because that’s what I’m used to doing. I resized it to fit the post page column width and checked it didn’t matter on the (smaller) frontpage column width. It didn’t in my browsers.

It’s been a long time since I used the WP image upload set up, it was so crap when I last tried it I stopped and went back to hosting on LJ (which I pay for and is very good for image hosting generally).

Douglas, I doubt we’d get Dr Ben (can’t hurt in asking but…), but a blogger that’s good enough to do some of his sort of stuff and also more general roundup stuff would be good I think. I’ll put some feelers out, lots of science bloggers in my readers (mostly because I read them, but, y’know).

>Matt, the image is hosted off site and I defined the dimensions absolutely because that’s what I’m used to doing. I resized it to fit the post page column width and checked it didn’t matter on the (smaller) frontpage column width. It didn’t in my browsers.

Fair enough Matt – not having a go at you, really.

>It’s been a long time since I used the WP image upload set up, it was so crap when I last tried it I stopped and went back to hosting on LJ (which I pay for and is very good for image hosting generally).

I’d agree it can be unintuitive, and I hate the WP image hosting. I use Blogdesk, which has a pretty good image-tweaker built in.

>Douglas, I doubt we’d get Dr Ben (can’t hurt in asking but…), but a blogger that’s good enough to do some of his sort of stuff and also more general roundup stuff would be good I think. I’ll put some feelers out, lots of science bloggers in my readers (mostly because I read them, but, y’know).

If I can stick an oar in, what you really want is the *next* Ben Goldacre. Then there’d be two. Find someone (or three someones) who write about science well and teach them how to write in the political/media space without and putting possibly actionable asitoo many generalisations in.

I (really) wish you luck in finding them. We need more non-politicos writing about politics. But specialists getting off their specialisms can become very non-rigorous.

Matt

Find someone (or three someones) who write about science well and teach them how to write in the political/media space

Got some in mind. Try these for size:

On Intelligent Design

How can a joke make you sick?

Bananas for Boys.

Most of her stuff is personal and/or media portrayal of stuff, especially abuse and women generally, but she’s about to complete a PhD in Evolutionary Morphology at the NHM. Last I talked to her, she wanted to be a science writer but didn’t know where to start.

I have a few others in mind that’d probably be good, but they’d need more ‘how to format a decent blog post’ help to get started.

She’s a bit busy next few days (you do not interrupt a couple ina long distance relationship during their 6-monthly meet up) but I’m seeing her Sunday—got to know her through blogging

19. douglas clark

MatGB,

So,

How soon can you get her talking sense on here? We need that.

We at SES beat you liberal conspirators by a year: http://www.scriboergosum.org.uk/revamp/4

Hi Sunny,

Thought you, and your readers, would be interested in seeing Rupert Read’s new Campagin/Video to post your shoes to the White House:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UTxQ7xy7Ji4

M


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