28 October 2010


Even atheists/skeptics can enjoy Halloween - it's my favorite holiday and a chance to let my skeptical hair down, so to speak. Reading Poe is one way.

 Please enjoy.

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what there is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

22 August 2010

There is No God

One of my favorite quotes is "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." -- Stephen Roberts 

Yesterday  in front of the Broadwalk Mall was a group of Muslims trying a bit of public relations. I think their banner illustrates the quote perfectly. 
I also feel that the first sentence pretty much tell me everything I need know in the last sentence.

Too bad they didn't stop with first four words.

13 August 2010

Going Home: Part 1

I'm going to shortly (3 weeks) be back in Florida & in November is the election for state governor. I hadn't thought about this too much until I saw Bill McCollum's bid to win the Teabag vote by proposing a law on illegal immigration - that has the potential to use racial profiling in it's inforcement . (The proposal would require police to check a suspected illegal immigrant's status while enforcing other laws - BBC News)

So I've started researching the alternative candidates -Alex Sink, the Democratic front runner seems to be liked by several of my friends on Facebook. Friends, I might add, whose opinions I respect - but there is a third candidate, someone that needs a closer look - Michael Arth And his blog is here.

I suppose I should mention the other Republican candidate, Lex Luthor umm, Rick Scott Looking at his strong stance on issues, the word bigot comes to mind.

15 May 2010

Face It

A few weeks ago I opened a Facebook account. Why? Because I'm about to move back to the States & want to re-connect with many of my friends that I came to know through-out my life. I'm amazed at & humbled by those whom I have found & who actually remembered me, then still wanted to add me to their list of friends.

Of course there is one fly in the ointment - the friend who is now a fundalmental creationist. His first remark on my Wall was:

"Hey Mike, glad you connected after all these years.....after reading your page I find we may have some spirited debates (or not) :) about spiritual things. I'm an ardent Christian creationist. Let the fun begin :))"

Now I'm sorry, I don't think it's fun to 'debate' an 'ardent' Christian - I'd rather bang my head against a brick wall. You can't reason with those that prefer blind faith over evidence. After a couple of tries on his part to suck me into a 'debate' I rather stridently told him:

"I'm not going to be drawn into a battle between faith & reason. I am using my FB profile to find old friends & catch up on their lives, to let them catch up on mine.

There are other pages for debating this. It's not going to happen here."

I truly get annoyed with the fundy Christians that want try to convert me. I grew up in a household with a father that was a Southern Baptist preacher. I can see both sides of the argument & I can't see any evidence for, or any reason to believe in a creator.

02 May 2010

The Bowl of Contention

When my wife and I were still living together I had left the lid/seat up on the toilet 4 or 5 times in those 5 years. I would receive hours - sometimes days of verbal abuse over it. Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe in leaving them up and there is at least one good reason not to. Here are some reasons that come to my mind.

1. The next person using it might fall in.

2. According to feng shui
- you're flushing all your money away.

3. Millions of bacteria are spread by an aerosol effect.

Guess which one she chose to gone on about. Yep - #2 - I was causing us to lose money by some mystical bit of woo. Never mind the amount of money she wasted spent on magical crystals that were to bring us luck & wealth.

What is it I believe is the good reason? Well not #1 - anyone who sits down with out checking first can only blame themselves for the results. (Yes - I did that very thing just the other night)

Number 3 however is a very good reason - as putting the lid down limits the amount of contaminants spread by the aerosol effect. Think about it next time you put that toothbrush in your mouth. Please click on the title for a link to a NY Times article for more about this subject.

Now - if I could just get my flatmates to put the lid down........

Addendum: It appears my wife's view of feng shui toilet practice may be wrong, according to at least one site on this subject - the seat should be down, with the lid up.

To quote the feng shui hippo:

The Feng Shui of the Toilet Lid

The feng shui of toilets is very important, toilets are the gaping bowels of your lovely home.

Consider the Seat down, lid down toilet: the ancient art of Feng Shui teaches that a low seat means low energy, hence low qi. Not a happy feng shui toilet!

Seat down and lid up: the energy is rising! feng shui is rising...

Lid up and Seat up: happy feng shui - The wise should be wary of the lady of the house who counsels in favor of toilet seats in the down position! The Ancients have been leaving seats up for thousands of years!

Of course, woo is woo and neither one of these conflicting feng shui ideas are or can be scientifically proven, making them worthless. Just put the lid down and reduce the contamination - that has been researched and shows some validity. It isn't "lid up: the energy is rising! feng shui is rising..." but "lid up: the bacteria is rising! fecal matter is rising..."

03 April 2010


In one way, celebrated by thousands of children, hunting for boiled & colored eggs. The eggs were co-opted by the Christian religion to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, but the egg has a more ancient meaning. One of re-birth.

This year I'm celebrating my re-birth/resurrection of my obsession with photography. Many years back I had 'developed' a love of photography, I was in the service and film/processing was relatively cheap, but after I had my cameras and photos stolen from storage I wasn't so enthusiastic. Finally in the late 90's I started buying cameras again and taking pics, however due to the high cost of getting the film processed, I didn't take near the amount of photos as before. The cost killed the passion.

Last year - in March I was laid off (made redundant, as they say over here) and I took my check - purchased a decent dSLR (went to work with a temp service so I wouldn’t starve) and over the year I have finally rekindled my love. With well over 2,ooo images on Flickr, I would say it's an obsession - maybe even an addiction. I do go through withdrawal if I forget to take a camera out and shoot an image.

No - my photos aren't works of art - but I do love trying.

Happy Easter everyone - no matter why (or how) you celebrate it.

02 April 2010

On Religion & Politics

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.
Robert A. Heinlein

07 March 2010

Bringing an End to Public Funding of Quack Medicine

If you think homeopathy is harmless (the potions are either
just plain water or sugar pills) then think of this
the NHS spends money on these so-called remedies. (The Government doesn't know exactly how much, but estimates are in the millions.)
This is money that could be used to pay for life saving drugs
that are being denied to cancer patients & others
because the NHS deem the treatments too expensive.
If that doesn't convince you - think about the
emergency rooms that are being closed across the
nation due to a lack of enough funds.
Please look at the report just released by the
Parliament Science & Technology Select Committee here:


If you are a resident or citizen of the UK - Please
sign the petition.


The petition was created by Dave Cross and reads:

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Implement
the recommendations of the House Commons Science and Technology
committee evidence check on Homeopathy.'

Thanks to 10:23 for the email updates.

UPDATE: NHS Scotland has withdrawn the funding. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-11475061

31 January 2010

There's Nothing in it:

Further to my last post - I decided to email Boots to find out what kind of 'interactions' there may be between paracetamol & homeopathic remedies.

Here are copies of the emails:

From me:

I read the info sheet in a package of paracetamol caplets and on the sheet it said: If you are unsure about interactions with any other medicines, talk to your pharmacist. This includes medicines prescribed by your doctor and medicine you have bought, including herbal and homeopathic remedies. What kind of interactions could there be with homeopathic remedies? Those 'remedies' are either sugar pills or water.
Many thanks

Michael Mills

From Boots:

Dear Michael

Thank you for taking the time to write to me regarding the interactions statement on the leaflet for Boots Paracetamol 500 mg Caplets (PL 17907/0001). Boots Paracetamol 500 mg Caplets are a licensed medicine and as such the labelling of the product is reviewed and approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (known as the MHRA), which is the UK medicines regulator. The statement referring to "medicines prescribed by your doctor and medicine you have bought for yourself, including herbal and homoeopathic remedies" is a statutory statement that must be included in the leaflet to alert users of the product to potential interactions with medicines obtained from a variety of sources. Therefore, the statutory statement is designed to alert the user to inform the Healthcare Professional, such as a Pharmacist or Doctor, of all concurrent medication as it is the responsibility of the Healthcare Professional to review the potential for interactions between medicines and advise the user accordingly. I hope that this information is of use to you.


Paul Williams MRPharmS

Medical Information (Pharmacist) Officer

Medical Services

Notice - no answer to my question on interactions.

Next (short & sweet) from me:

Dear Paul Williams MRPharmS So as a pharmicist - can you tell me what potential interactions there may be with homeopathic remedies?

Mike Mills

Boots' (Paul's) reply:

Dear Michael

Thank you for you further e-mail regarding the leaflet for Boots Paracetamol 500 mg Caplets (PL 17907/0001) and interactions with homoeopathic remedies. I am afraid that although I am a Pharmacist when acting as a Medical Information Officer for a Marketing Authorisation (or license) holder I am obliged to only answer specific enquiries relating to Boots Brand licensed medicines from the clinical information that we hold on file. I can confirm that according to the clinical information we hold on file for Boots Paracetamol 500 mg Caplets (PL 17907/0001) no interactions with Homoeopathic remedies have been reported. However, the clinical information is based on information derived from reports made by Healthcare Professionals and from literature searches. Therefore, although no interactions have been reported this does not mean that the potential for an interaction to occur can be ruled out. Therefore, it is important that users of the product, if concerned about interactions, are directed to speak to a Healthcare Professional about all concurrent medication who can review all of the available data and make a judgment for an individual. If you wish to speak to a Pharmacist in general about interactions with Homoeopathic remedies then of course you can speak to a Boots Pharmacist in store who can give you personal medical advice.
Paul Williams MRPharmS

Medical Information (Pharmacist) Officer

Medical Services

Bit worried now that he said ' I am a Pharmacist when acting as a Medical Information Officer'. I wonder what he is when not acting as a Medical Information Officer.

My last (so far) email:

Hi again and thanks for being prompt in your replies.
Should I be concerned then that there may be interactions between paracetamol and milk (lactose), sugar or water? I only want a bit of clarification on this as homeopathic remedies are diluted so much that the only thing left in the water used in making these, is water. The pills themselves are either made of lactose or sugar.

Again many thanks
Mike Mills

Am waiting for the next reply.

Of course there can't be interactions with the unless it is an interaction with lactose or sugar, because in homeopathy - there's nothing in it!

Photo above is from the 10:23 mass overdosing at Red Lion Square, London - 30 Jan 10

28 January 2010

Useless Warning

I get headaches - I take ibuprofen & paracetamol to get rid of them. Yesterday I looked at the information sheet that was included in a pack of paracetamol caplets from Boots, the British pharmacy. Included in the info was a warning to contact the pharmacist for any interactions if taking any other drugs - prescribed, over the counter, herbal & homeopathic.

Homeopathic??? Does this mean that I nee
d to ask if there might be an interaction if I take a candy drop & paracetamol?

Bloody heck!
Click the title
of this post for
a related blog by
PodBlack Cat.