Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ethics: They’re like cooking (but different)

By ethics, I mean principles by which you might seek to live your life by. Examples would be telling the truth, not stealing, always showing kindness to others. Equally I would consider only telling white lies, or stealing from the government, or being able to hurt another if they did not share your values to be ethical principles - perhaps of a differing standard.

By cooking, I mean the activity of preparing food for the purpose of eating it - but frame the word ‘activity’ widely. Hence personally purchasing ingredients and making a pizza from them is ‘cooking’ just as much as purchasing a pre-prepared frozen pizza is, or ordering a take-away pizza is. Again, it just involves a different standard.

So, ethics are like cooking. To some extent they are common to all - one person might choose to tell the truth as much as another might permit lying in certain situations. One person might eat their steak medium-rare, the other well done. I’m sure another wiser person has more to say on the general characteristics of ethics.

What I do want to think out loud is whether or not ethics are generally perceived as good. More particularly, the ethics set out in the Sermon on the Mount (I know, you’re thinking ‘can - worms - all over the floor’). Seriously though, consider the exhortation - ‘be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect’. Does that strike you as good news - something encouraging? I think it should, but I know that most people would consider advice to tell the truth at all times rather naive or quaintly old-fashioned, if not unhelpful. I’m gutted that the subject of ethics has been allowed to accumulate negative associations in people’s minds over the years.

Ethics - they’re like cooking. Jesus lived a three Michelin-starred life. He knew how to wrest the freshest flavours from life’s gristle. He knew what a pinch of ‘this’ or sprinkle of 'that' would do in any given situation. He had impeccable taste. He truly knew the good things in life.

So, while I pick moodily at my microwave-meal habits, should I be surprised if they don’t satisfy me? What is it that keeps me coming back to a fast-food burger pastime, when I could be eating finer meat and drink prepared with care at home?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Select highlights

Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation — Any statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror.

Hlade's Law — If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person; they will find an easier way to do it.

Stigler's Law — No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer, named by statistician Stephen Stigler who attributes it to sociologist Robert Merton.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I am a snob

At least, according to a survey reported (indirectly) here, that has unearthed an amusing collection of stats about Mac-users vs. PEE CEE users.

Scarily, I have to admit to having perfectionist tendencies, owning a notebook (laptop), driving a station wagon (Puegeot 406), paying for downloaded music (use iTunes), and caring about "green" products and the environment.

And whilst I have gone to Starbucks, and used teeth-whitening toothpaste in my lifetime, I can honestly say I don't own a hybrid car, or buy five pairs of sneakers in a year (although Mrs Hope would be happy to give that last one a go).

I'm not only amazed that someone came up with these questions to ask computer users (do you use teeth-whitening products/drive a station wagon/buy five or more pairs of sneakers per year?) but also to then deduce that there are 'cause-effect' links with the computer they use...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Getting along well

Just updated my Flickr site with a few new photos of Reuben. Here's one for free.


With my day off on Fridays I've been able to take up the responsibility of Friday dinners. Found a new pasta recipe in Jamie's Italian book last week (I would sound slightly contrite for mentioning Jamie, except it's utterly delicious and now my second favourite pasta recipe) and did a pretty decent toad-in-the-hole this week. Then, whilst ad-libbing on Saturday, found that creme-fraiche on hot pasta has almost the same 'sour milk' aroma as Reuben's nappies after a No. 2. Sorry. But we still ate it.