Tag Archives: humour

Maybe we should all lighten up a bit?

Younger readers who may not understand this sketch can get the background to it here.

Rumours that Monty Python’s Life of Brian remained banned in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth until 2009, actually turned out to be false according to Auntie (the BBC)

(By the way, I hope my regular readers like the new urban image. Let me know what you think — if enough people complain I can always reverse the re-branding.)

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René Descartes — an apology

Recent posts on this blog may have given the unwary reader the impression that Monsieur Descartes was an outdated Platonist with pagan ideas of a  free-floating soul taking up a short-term tenancy in the body during its current incarnation. We may have seemed to imply that Descartes’ dualism means that mind and body are distinct to the extent that their co-occurrence in a single person was little more than a happy coincidence and that as disembodied minds, we are free to desert our bodies at will.

A more careful reading of the Sixth Meditation has now been brought to our attention the following passage:

Nature also teaches me, by these sensations of pain, hunger, thirst and so on, that I am not merely present in my body as a sailor is present in a ship, but that I am very closely joined and , as it were, intermingled with it, so that I and the body form a unit. If this were no so, I , who am nothing but a thinking thing, would not feel pain when the body was was hurt, but would perceive the damage purely by the intellect, just as a sailor perceives by sight if anything in his ship is broken (AT VII 81).

Clearly, this embodied Descartes not merely accepts but asserts the orthodox view (endorsed by the sainted Aquinas) that the body is more than just a vehicle for the soul – this latter view erroneously held by Plato. We can only apologise and lay the blame squarely at the feet of the notorious Cartesian Duellists (sic), a shady terror network that has as its sole aim sowing the seeds of discord and disharmony in a despicable attempt to divide minds from bodies everywhere.

And if further proof were needed that Descartes is not a dualist (in this sense), here is a diagram drawn by Descartes himself, illustrating the connection between perception and action.

Descartes' diagram

Descartes' very non-Cartesian image of the union of mind and body


A Happy St Urho’s Day to all our readers!

From The Nashua Telegraph 15.03.10

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Finnish-American department store worker Richard Mattson was well aware of this, having invented St. Urho, the mythical patron saint of Finland whose feast day we celebrate today.

In the spring of 1956, Gene McCavic, one of Mattson’s co-workers at Ketola’s Department Store in Virginia, Minn., asked Mattson why Finland didn’t have anyone like St. Patrick, whose feat of driving the snakes out of Ireland is celebrated annually on St. Patrick’s Day.

Mattson quickly came up with the tale of St. Urho, who saved Finland’s grape harvest st urho figurine(and by association, the country’s wine) by chasing a plague of frogs out of the country using nothing more than his very loud voice. St. Urho gained the strength for this incredible feat by consuming feelia sour (sour whole milk) and kala mojakka (fish soup).

As is the case with many legends, the tale of St. Urho has evolved over time. The plague of frogs is now a plague of grasshoppers, and St. Urho is said to have bellowed “Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen” (which translates to “Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, go from hence to Hell!”) to scare the grasshoppers into skedaddling.

St. Urho’s Day is typically celebrated by drinking wine, grape juice and purple beer (in memory of the rescued grape harvest), eating kala mojakka, and wearing purple and green. And of course, should you see any grasshoppers, you know what to do.

Go to official St Urho website

And kiitos to Tevye’s Song for tipping me off about this wonderful example of DIY mythology.


Sanon, sanon, sanon!

A Finnish detective goes up to Utsjoki to interrogate a murder suspect.

“Where were you on the night of November 22nd to January 16th?”


Walk away René

Encouraged by the number of visitors searching for “Rene Descartes” I plan to write something philosophical in my next post (suggestions and questions welcome). But I really have to get some essays out of the way first so, to whet you’re appetite, and so you don’t feel that your journey here was entirely wasted, here’s my favourite Cartesian joke.

René goes to get his haircut. The barber says, “The usual sir?”

“I think not,” replies Descartes, and disappears.