Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Electric scooters/bikes for sale in the UK

"It's not a toy!" As with cars, what I would be looking for is something practical - and practical in the suburbs means having a range of around 60 miles and a top speed of around 50 mph.

As with the previous post, let me know if there are omissions, and I'll rectify them,

NamePriceRangeTop SpeedCharge time
Zippe scooterFrom £899 (sale)Up to 30 miles30 mph6-8 hours
G3000 LX£319530 miles42 mph2 hours 90%
VectrixUp to 60 miles63 mph2 hours 80%

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Electric cars for sale in the UK

If people can give me links to other electric cars for sale, I'll include them in this table. Cars should be available for purchase now - I know there are several others that are planned to appear later in the year.

As a suburbanite, what I am interested in is a car that will seat 5, with a range in excess of 60 miles, and a top speed of at least 60 mph.

NamePriceRangeTop SpeedCharge time
G-Wiz iFrom £8995Up to 48 miles51 mph2.5 hrs 80%
Citroen C1 ev'ieFrom £1986060-75 miles60 mph6 hours
Mega City 2 SeaterFrom £12684Up to 60 miles40 mph5-8 hours
Sakura Maranello4From £9950Up to 45 miles30 mph6-8 hours
ZeCarPOAUp to 100 milesUp to 56 mph8-16 hours
MyCarFrom £1049530-60 milesUp to 38 mph5 hours
Tesla Roadster£100000?236 miles125 mph3.5 hours

"The Lost Symbol" and "The Seven Day Circle" - not a review

I just finished reading Dan Brown's latest book - an abandoned copy. Following "The Da Vinci Code", Brown had been a bit of a bogeyman for Christians, having shown a gift for quoting the Bible out of context and distorting the text, as well as changing history to suit the purposes of his plot. I'd not read "The Da Vinci Code", though perhaps I will now.

One of the things that struck me about "The Lost Symbol" was that Brown does have a good grasp of a lot of Christian theology, and accords Christianity a deal of respect. He is correct when he talks about religions largely being built upon the idea of sacrifice, and he is correct when he says that Christianity is a religion in which a human sacrifice is at its heart. He doesn't take seriously the idea of incarnation - that a sacrifice that was simply human would not be adequate. His character Mal'akh doesn't recognise the Christian idea that the sacrifice is now complete - that what was foreshadowed in Abraham nearly killing Isaac is actually completed in the death of Jesus. But basically, Brown has a good grasp of the content of the Bible and Christian theology - perhaps only from a comparative religious perspective, but that's still more than most people have - including many people with traditional Christian backgrounds.

He obviously continues to be strongly influenced by the gnostic writings - he takes seriously their provenance, despite the fact that proper Bible scholars are more sceptical about them. The net overall result is that his text effectively critiques parts of Christianity for taking some parts of Christian writings as literal and some as metaphorical/allegorical, when he does exactly the same himself. What is needed is a basis for interpretation that works, and that isn't founded on the presuppositions of the interpreter, but on some absolute external standard. Authorial intent would be one such, of course ....

Brown has things in common with the book "The Seven Day Circle" by Eviatar Zerubavel, which I'm also reading at the moment. This looks at how the week has developed through history, from a sociological perspective. Starting from here, he remarks that Christians adopted Sunday as their day of rest primarily to differentiate themselves from the Jews, and in much the same way, the Muslims adopted Friday. Given that this is a sociological analysis, it is unsurprising that the social dimension should take primacy. What Zerubavel seems not to have done, though, is taken seriously the Bible's own account - that in the opening days of the church, Christians met every day of the week, and meeting on Sunday "Resurrection Day" seems to have developed amongst non-Jewish believers, as this was the most appropriate single day. It was not a day of rest - believers would likely have met early in the morning or late in the evening, so as not to clash with work. It wasn't the case that Paul particularly thought that observing the Sabbath was "wrong" - a conclusion reached by taking a text out of context - just that people who didn't feel the need to observe the Sabbath (as Christians from a Gentile background wouldn't) should not have the burden of Jewish law placed upon them.

More interesting books ....

Monday, March 22, 2010

"God, Design and Fine-Tuning", Robin Collins

H/T Telic Thoughts

In this paper, considering the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for the presence of life, Robin Collins argues that using the "Prime Principle of Confirmation", a design hypothesis should be preferred to the atheistic single-universe hypothesis. That is, it is more reasonable to believe that the universe was designed than that it is not designed.

The argument is as follows:
Premise 1: The existence of fine-tuning is not improbable under theism.

Premise 2: The existence of fine-tuning is very improbable under the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.

Conclusion: (From 1, 2 and the prime principle of confirmation) Fine-tuning data provides strong evidence in favour of the design hypothesis over the atheistic single universe hypothesis.
Dissent from this conclusion requires either dissent from the premises (which he justifies in the paper) or dissent from the prime principle of confirmation (which has proved a reliable guide in most other contexts).

He also argues that atheistic many-universe hypotheses - that is, invoking a multiverse - do not provide an explanation of the nature of reality that necessarily avoids the issue of fine tuning and design. The required properties of a multiverse are themselves highly specific.

It goes without saying that the paper, brief as it is, is philosophically more credible and better referenced than "The God Delusion".

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Planets - sweet!

With a fairly broad range of interest in arts and sciences, it's quite unusual for me to be brought up short by something. But one of the points that Michael Ward brought out in "Planet Narnia" did.

There were seven medieval/ancient "planets". The word "planet" means "wanderer", and the planets were the objects that moved around in the sky, relative to the fixed backdrop of stars. So the list doesn't correspond to the current catalogue of planets (with or without Pluto) - it consisted of the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These planets represented different deities, and (Ward argues) these different deities themselves really represent different aspects of a single Deity, certainly within Medieval Christian literature.

What I'd never considered before was that each of the seven days of the week is, at least in Northern Europe, associated with a different one of these planets. It's a little masked, as our names of days make reference to the Norse "images" of these planets. Sunday is the Sun's day, Monday is the Moon's day, and Saturday is Saturn's day. Thursday is Thor's day - Thor being the Norse ruler of the gods, the equivalent of Jove/Jupiter. The Mediterranean god is more visible in the French word "jeudi" and the Spanish "jueves". Friday is Venus's day (Frig/Freia) - again, in French, we have "vendredi" and in Spanish "viernes". Wednesday is Woden's day, the equivalent of Mercury ("mercredi") and Tuesday is Tiwes' day - Mars' day ("mardi", "martes").

What intrigued me about this is that these names of days, and their identification with these different planets/deities, either spread across cultures at some stage or predated the development of the languages. It would be interesting to know just how widespread a seven day week was, and how widespread the association with these planets actually is, and whether the seven days were always associated with those planets. If anybody has any insight into this, I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

War in Sudan

The gunship hovers close to the village, just outside of rifle range - that being all the village would have to defend itself. The soldiers look for the two long roofs, and put a rocket into each. The church building and the school - they want to deprive the village of education as well as Christianity, because education is power.

The oil is in the south, but is pumped to the Muslim north, and the money for the oil pays for the helicopters and aeroplanes, which were used to impose the will of the north on the south.

Over a million people had died before Darfur.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

An amazing sequence of films

I just finished watching the third of a series of African-themed films, all of which deserve watching (if you can stomach the sex, violence, drug references, and language). They all have very strong plots (in my opinion), set with the social, political and economic situation in the world as a backdrop at varying depths.

"Blood Diamond" is about the way in which diamonds, sold to the developed world, are used to fund conflict in the developing world. Leonardo di Caprio plays a Zimbabwean mercenary in a role very different from his rather androgenous ones in "Titanic" and "Romeo and Juliet".

"The Constant Gardener" is a love story set against the backdrop of a drug company seeking to defend its indifference of the welfare of people in the developing world as it carries out drug trials. Ralph Fiennes is the diplomat who falls for the politically enlightened Tessa, Rachel Weisz.

"Lord of War", based on real events, features Nicholas Cage as a freelance arms trader, seeming to be above the law, but ultimately living in his own personal hell.

All are excellent, and all use the medium of film to draw attention to some of the ways in which we in the developed world are abusing Africa.