Wednesday, 30 April 2008

"Think" - I Think Not

This post is not about my thought processes. It's not even about me. The cryptic title refers to my views of the book, "Think," by Michael LeGault. [More reviews are available here.]

I bought this book on Sunday in Waterstones having flicked through a few pages. The subject matter: Critical Thinking appealed to me. Part of the cover blurb stated: "Legault mourns the lost art of sharp, incisive thinking in all areas of American life - and challenges us to reverse the downward spiral of poor decision making that costs time, money, jobs, and lives in the twenty-first century." This was all very promising but unfortunately LeGault fails his own challenge. He makes assertions with no supporting evidence and no analysis: not the best approach in a book about critical thinking.

Quoting another author, LeGault says this of critical thinking, "[It] .... is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not .... It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances."

But then LeGault makes the following statement, "Since 9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq, a fresh wave of anti-American hysteria has swept the world. Even in Canada, a country dependent on trade with the United States for 50 percent of its gross domestic product, over two-thirds of the people say the United States is a negative influence in the world. Two-thirds! This is the same nation that has a love affair with Cuba, a country that has not held a democratic election in fifty years. The opinion of Canadians is not based on critical thoinking or research, but on myth and balderdash dished out by the country's legions of left-leaning scholars and pundits, as well as, ironically, by Hollywood and the U.S. media."

No evidence, no examination: simply a tirade. This is inexcusable even if his view were correct.His whole case blasted apart. Not a scrap of critical thinking here. As a proponent of critical thinking Legault has failed: his book demonstrating the hypocrisy we have come to expect in much of public life.

Do not buy this book.

Use more critical thinking than I did last Sunday. I should have read more and checked reviews rather than buying on impulse.

How disappointing to realise that I am not quite perfect .... yet!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

An L of a Life

Yesterday in a comment to my Limerick post jmb suggested a six word memoir meme to describe my life. I've gone a stage further and used 6 words each beginning with "L". How you group, if you group, the words is entirely up to you.







It's sad to see that my blog is reduced to simplistic posts like this - so far from where I want to be - but I guess this, at least, keeps my blog going and keeps my visibility just above zero. Sometime ...........

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Links Market Revisited

This afternoon I visited the Links Market: 50 years after my first visit and 40 years after my last. Unsurprisingly much was unchanged but much was very different.

But I am getting ahead of myself: most of you won't know what or where is this market. Their own website describes it thus: "The Links Market is reputedly the longest street fair in Europe, running almost one mile in length along the Esplanade, Kirkcaldy, Fife. It runs for one week, around Easter, and marks the start of Scotland's season of travelling fairs.

A few years ago the Links Market celebrated its 700th anniversary. The University of Sheffield says this: "Kirkcaldy remains the premier funfair in Scotland, evolving from a charter granted by Edward I in 1304. The original charter allowed the staging of a trading fair in Easter week for the duration of 3 days.

The modern fair now extends to 6 days, and is key event for both the showmen and the locals to Fife. The amusements associated with the fair extend the full length of the Esplanade and into the famous 'basin' - the rides and shows creating an avenue either side of the Esplanade, rather than facing out to the open sea. The Esplanade was built into its current form around 1923, existing before as a single track with little to offer in terms of enjoyment. Developments in 1956 saw the demolition of many of the old buildings facing the sea, and the construction of the new flats.

The story of the fairground at Kirkcaldy is the story of the Scottish fairground, with the prominent families of the time occupying key positions in the fair. New rides were given priority at the fair, and this continues to the modern era with showmen such as M. and D. Taylor often premiering their big thrill rides at the Links Market.

Early years around the turn of the Century saw the ornate rides of showmen such as the Wilmot and Evans families - steam driven Gallopers and Switchback rides. The years after the First World War saw the advent of exciting electric-driven rides with the huge Scenic Railways being prominent. Scottish manufacturing company Maxwells (based at Musselburgh) defined the atmosphere of the fairground from the 1950s onwards. Maxwells pioneered the famous Waltzer rides and had an eye for incredible flash and lighting. Scottish showmen soon became renowned for their Waltzer and Speedway rides and provided the 'party in motion' for the fair-going masses - a tradition maintained to the current day. The later decades of the 20th Century saw a predominance of rides from the Codona and White families, who flanked the Esplanade with immaculately turned out and lettered transport.

Recent years has seen increasingly thrilling rides being presented by showmen such as the Horne family and the partnership of Matt and Douglas Taylor. The advent of portable Roller Coasters, huge tower rides and giant travelling wheels has meant that the shoreline of Kirkcaldy is transformed into a powerful beacon of bright light and intense activity for a long week of every year.

Some "rides" were unchanged from 40 years ago - dodgems, waltzers, helter-skelter, centrifugal wall (Wall of Death) and some of the simple slot machines - but the big thrill rides are new.

Unfortunately, I can't even manage the young kids' waltzers without feeling sick. If I were to try a big thrill ride my arse - and everything in-between - would be out my mouth within seconds! I restricted myself to one shot as a pasenger on the dodgems.

More importantly, the kids enjoyed themselves - even if their first ride had them needing a sit-down - and my bank balance survived..... just. Cost, that's another massive change but if I say any more there'll be comments about Scots being tight.

I had intended to include a few photos but none can do justice to the scale and colour of the Links Market.

I'll not wait another 40 years before returning. Next year I'll be back ....... for another shot on the dodgems!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Coming Apart at the Seams

I'm a wreck!

I'm crumbling!

My infected elbow has improved and continues to improve slowly. I'm well into my third week of antibiotics but progress is so slow I can see that I'll go into a fourth week of treatment.

But there's more!

A few days ago I sneezed - not an uncommon occurrence - but this time I pulled a muscle in my stomach or so the GP thinks. She's confident that I haven't broken a rib and certainly the pain feels muscular.

A minor niggle no more than that. How wrong I was!

Since then I've coughed and sneezed four times and each feels as though I've been hit by a sledgehammer. I'm frightened to cough properly because I know the pain that will follow. If this continues for another couple of days I think I'll be off to A&E. It's quite amusing writing about this but it's bloody murder to suffer.

I hope there isn't a third problem to come because with the direction these problems are going - right elbow to right side of stomach - the third could be in a very small, but hugely personal, area.

Please no third problem!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Don't do it, Gordon!!

You WILL be good at something!!!!!

Copyright 2008