Friday, 30 November 2007

Worlds Fastest Clapper

10 Unique Visitors

Woo-Hoo! for the first time ever I've had 10 unique visitors in one day, I feel an overwhelming sense of power and validation. I will now conquer the world.

Just How Crazy Are They?

Well the answer is VERY! Yes, members of that well known religion of peace demonstrated in Khartoum today calling for the Execution(WTF!?) of Mrs Gibbons for calling a teddy bear Mohammad. Just how angry, twisted & repressed do you have to be to take part in (much less justify) this sort of crazy behaviour? And yet it happens at the drop of a hat in the muslim world - I once saw two scumbags go ape shit at a bus driver because he hold them they must fold up their buggey before boarding, at the time I marveled at their rage over something so insignificant and wondered just how crap their life must be? Is that the problem here? A deep seated anger and resentment? To be fair the doublethink required to be a muslim must be enormous, the infidel West & East are doing just fine thank you, while they have to pray 5 times a day (christ!) and be superior. Surely in the dead of night they must wonder have they got it wrong? To quote Ayaan Hirsi Ari
"In the Netherlands, I saw people we called infidels living an amazing life – men and women mixing, gay people being free, you could say whatever you wanted," she says. "Then I went back to the asylum-seekers' centre and almost everyone was from a Muslim country begging for the charity of these infidels. And I thought, 'If we're so superior, why are we begging from them?'"

Schizoid Nation

No More Mr. Nice Guy has a disturbing post about mental health care entitled Schizoid Nation (NMMNG kindly sent me the direct link) which is about how people can be just declared 'mentally ill' and literally locked away. I've read about this kind of thing recently but can't, for the life of me, remember where so I can't link to it or reference it correctly. In any case NNMNG post is well worth reading so here's a snipet to wet the appetite;

Early on, he (Al Siebert) witnesses a disturbing incident where a resident brow-beats a newly admitted patient: "You must accept that you're mentally ill before we can help you." The patient refuses to do so, and the resident gets increasingly angry and overbearing. Siebert is shocked to learn that this is a routine ritual with new patients; there's been no mention of it in his training. Some residents are unhappy with this practice but are threatened with being dropped from the program if they don't go along. So much for fostering curiosity and re-examination of conventional wisdom!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Good One

Harney Survives

You really have to wonder what the point of voting is!? You can vote for one of the smaller parties whom you think have principles and as soon as they get a whiff of power they give a big "Fuck You!" to the voter's and stick their noses in the trough. The sight of John Gormley defending Mary Harney yesterday gave me palpitations - I don't even know what he said - the fact he stood there and defended that incompetent, overblown corporate shill whose one big idea is to privatise everything really made me loose faith in politics. I've certainly lost faith in the greens. Fuck'em!

Why debate Dogma?

Pat Condell is back with another pod cast, watchable as always. And I have to agree with him on how annoying and dispiriting it is when dealing with Atheist's defending religion or advocating a softly-softly approach. I believe Dawkins refers to them as the "I'm an atheist but ..." brigade.

If Star Wars had been cast differently

Via the excellent Movie Blog a site called Worth1000 has loads of pic's of stars as they might have looked had they been cast in Star Wars. Its good fun and many of them are very good. Below is Darth Bean.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The End Of The Dollar As We Know It

As if theres not enough to worry about, via Seeing the Forest, the collapse of the dollar.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

From Richard Dawkins website comes this interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and its well worth reading. This lady deserves the Noble Prize or something.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Bertie says "No" to Seperate 'faith' schools

Wow! I didn't know he had it in him, but our beloved Bertie actually said "No" to the dimwits! It doesn't mention which "foreign"politicians made "requests" but I bet I could guess where they are from ...

Its from Breaking News, but I include it here in case its gone tomorrow
It emerged today that the Government has turned down requests for separate schools and curricula for children of certain faiths.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil that representatives of some religions, as well as politicians in other countries had asked him personally to accede to the requests.

The Taoiseach said it would be inappropriate to segregate children depending on their faith, and that it would not be in the spirit of integration.

Tabula Peutingeriana

This is really cool. The Austrians are going to put on display the Tabula Peutingeriana for a limited time to celebrate it being include in UNESCO's "Memory of the World" list. The Tabula Peutingeriana is a medieval copy of an original Roman map of the known world covering Spain in the west as far as India to the east. Wikipedia have a nice article about it with an image of the entire map. Heres the west portion which shows Ireland, Britain, Spain and North Africa.

And this site here has the map in contrast to a modern Map.

That Well Known Religion of Peace

Well those crazy Muslims are at it again, this time in Sudan, seems they are going to lash a teacher for calling a teddy bear "Mohammad". It really is about time people woke up to the fact that they really believe this shit! They are not a-la-carte in their approach to religion, they are medieval in outlook and there is zero chance for a muslim reformation. So lets stop "respecting" their beliefs!

Monday, 26 November 2007

My Bloody Valentine are back

Fcuking excellent news in todays indo - I haven't been to a gig in years but if they come to Dublin I'll go to this. I wonder if the G-man would be interested?

My Bloody Valentine: Soon

Quote Of The Day

"If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve their own interests."

Baron D'Holbach


I'm not a big fan of Irish film (I find that generally it relies on accents and cursing to get laughs) so it was with bated breath that I rented Once over the weekend and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The film is about two lonely people in Dublin who come together through a shared love of music but it manages to avoid the thousands of cliches that normally surround romantic films. I think thats why I liked it so much, had this been a Hollywood or British film it would have been formulaic and dull. Likewise, unlike other Irish films, the scumbag druggey makes and early and singular appearance (I thought "here we go") before disappearing permanently and allowing the story to develop. In fact I can't understand the need for the scene at all, there must be some contractual commitment whereby all Irish films must have at least one scumbag and use the word "fuck" ten times in order to get funding from the Irish Film Bord.

Surprisingly the film is also a musical but the music is so neatly and realistically intertwined into the story it almost passes you by. But, at the risk of contradicting myself, it's also a third character and if I was a better writer and a big more creative I could probably wax on about how it symbolises something or other but I'm not, so I won't. And the music is very good, I'm fairly ambivalent about The Frames but this movie may have won me over, I'm not ambivalent about Irish film, but this one is worth seeing.

Angry or Calm

Have a look at the two faces below, the one on the left looks angry right? Now move a back a few feet, which one looks angry now?

The image is taken from this website which provides an explanation.

Friday, 23 November 2007


The third and final episode entitled 'THE QUANTUM REVOLUTION' aired the other night on BBC4 and was the most optimistic of the 3 episodes, or at least the the least doomsday like. I found it really enjoyable as it discussed very SciFi sounding ideas as real possibilities such as Arthur C. Clarke's Space Elevator due to advances in Carbon Nanotube's.

This clip about superconductivity wasn't in the show but they demonstrated the effect, I include it here because its so cool.

The Hillary Nutcracker

interesting new product on Amazon ... made me laugh anyway.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Quote Of The Day

'Cause it made me laugh
"Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest."
— Émile Zola

Latro in the Mist

I've just finished Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe and like his other books its a challenging read. This edition is the compilation of two books Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete which contain the writings of the protagonist 'Latro', an ancient Italian mercenary, who has suffered a head wound during the battle of Platea and as a result cannot remember anything from day to day but has left him with the ability to see and converse with the many gods and spirits inhabiting ancient Greece. Because cannot remember he records everything in a scroll and it is these daily writings that make up the book during which Latro tries to find a way to cure himself of his 'curse'.

The challenge when reading these books however is that Latro is an unreliable witness leading to sometimes ambiguous chapters. In addition he records conversations with mortals and gods but, because he lacks memory, fails to make important connections between people, motives and events, instead this is left for the reader to do. Several times I found myself wondering just what was going on as the narrative seemed to jump track or even contradict itself but usually the answer lay a few chapters further on (but not always).

Of the two books I preferred the first (Soldier of the Mist) more, I even liked its rather inconclusive ending. The second book (Soldier of Arete) was tougher going with another inconclusive ending which this time, to me at least, seemed a little rushed. Overall though both books are a great read and certainly recommended. Soldier of Sidon (a long awaited sequel apparently) is out now. I'll have to pick it up and see what happens next.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Don't Support the Red Cross

Theres loads of reasons why - heres another one, Red Cross ASSISTED Bush Law Violations!

Romulus & Remus

Some cool news on the archeology front today, the sacred cave of Romulus & Remus has been found. It seems you can't dig a post hole in Rome without hitting something amazing.

The Landmark Thucydides/Herodotus

I don't propose to write about books I haven't read but in this case I just can't help myself. I've long been looking for a decent edition of "The Histories" but have always been put off either by the archaic translation or the lack of decent maps to help understand the text. Anyway the all seeing eye that is "Amazon Recommendations" popped this new edition entitled "The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories" onto my list. I was instantly hooked (Damn you direct marketing!) and was then doubly hooked when I noticed the authors previous book "The Landmark Thucydides" had received so many excellent reviews. I really had no choice, I brought both books and I'm very happy I did. They arrived last Friday so I had the weekend to browse them and they really are excellent. The translation seems pretty clear (judging by my initial scans) but the best part is the pages are packed with notes, annotations and, most importantly, maps. There are also extensive indexes by scholars discussing various aspects of The Histories in relation to their fields of expertise. I realise I sound pretty nerdy here but that "Nerd Panel" in my head lite-up when I got a hold of these, they really are very cool...

Heinikan Cup : Week Two

Well Leinster returned to form over the weekend as Toulouse trashed them 33 - 6. I only watched the highlights but it was pretty clear Leinster completely collapsed in terms of leadership, skill and tactics, they even managed to give away the fourth try in the dying seconds of the game to hand Toulouse the bonus point. They are playing Ospreys on Friday in the Celtic League, I assume they'll play brilliantly.

The good news from the weekend was Munster's excellent win against Clermont Auverne, I just wish someone would take Donnaha O'Callaghan and Denis Leamy aside and bang their heads together until they finally stopped giving away stupid penalties - they are two of the most maddening players in Irish rugby the way the continue to do that!

Friday, 16 November 2007

A Word to Islamofascists

I watched a few of Pat Condell's videos and they are always interesting and entertaining (I wish we had someone in power with his balls) one quibble however- I hate the word "Islamofascism" - it doesn't make sense. Fascism is the blending of state and corporate power whereas Islamist's seek Theocracy under the Koran. I assume the word was invented as
A. Everyone knows fascism is evil
B. It allows the speaker to differentiate easily between between muslims and the "evil" muslims
C. It avoids pointing a finger directly at religion because, as we know, that finger could end up pointing anywhere and we wouldn't want that.

That aside watch Pat tear the Islamo-fascist-communist-scariest-craziest a new one...

Hands Off Venezuala

Generally when I read or hear anything about Hugo Chavez it paints him in a bad light, this makes me suspicious because the major media organisations are lying bastards and can't be trusted. Anyway Greg Palast thinks he's great and thats good enough for me. These short videos (by Palast) offer an outline as to why "The West" (a.k.a. the rich and powerful) hates him so much (you already know the answer - he takes money from the rich and gives it to the poor).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Robots that are "self-aware"

Another short TED talk entitle "Robots that are self-aware" related to my previous post about the BBC4 program Visions of the Future. Its only 6.30 minutes long but we see rudimentary self awareness and replication in robots. Fascinating stuff!

Is copyright corroding our society?

Yes is the answer, but don't take my word for it, this blog has a short video of a TED talk outlining the issues, Is copyright corroding our society?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Cults & Brain Washing

The Psychology Behind Cults/Religion is well worth a read
The important feature about brainwashing is that it is done over and over again to achieve the desired goal. When people stop thinking independently for themselves, when they stop questioning their own personal sense of right and wrong, and when they refuse to listen to information that conflicts with their own beliefs… then they have been effectively brainwashed.

but if you find it too long they provide this great summary at the end.

1) Find lonely, desperate people

2) Break them down: Make them feel much worse about themselves

3) Build them back up: make them feel good about themselves again

4) Repeat 2-3 until their sense of self-worth is completely dependent on you

5) Reveal the “true” beliefs of the cult and take all their money

This is a "moderate"

Via Richard Dawkin's website I read this article about Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an alleged moderate. He has some charming opinions, such as;
Sir Salman Rushdie should never have been knighted, he says. "He caused a huge amount of distress and discordance with his book, it should have been pulped."
Because no conversation with a muslim moderate would be complete without at least one call for censorship ... theres also;
"Alcohol is the worst drug long-term," he says, and adds that the Government should consider banning drinking in public places, as it has done with smoking.
I can't help but think that if these guys relaxed and drank a little more they wouldn't be so scrary, on the thorny issue of stoning women he adds;
"It depends what sort of stoning and what circumstances," he replies. "When our prophet talked about stoning for adultery he said there should be four [witnesses] - in realistic terms that's impossible. It's a metaphor for disapproval."
Yes, but involving real rocks. Something tells me I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of any islamic metaphor, I'll close with this little gem;
In Dr Bari's view, suicide bombers are victims as well as aggressors. "I deal with emotionally damaged children," he explains. "Children come to hate when they don't get enough care and love. They are probably bullied, it makes a young person angry and vulnerable.
This ones so sick it actually made me laugh, meanwhile "polite" society reckons we should respect this medieval horseshit! The correct response should be to burst out laughing at their backwardness and then offer them a cold beer and some physiological help.

Dangerous Minds

Malcolm Gladwell of Tipping point & Blink fame has a great article in the New Yorker about Criminal Profilers. He raises a lot of interesting points about how they reach and phrase their conclusions (hint: he compares them to cold reading "psychics") and is well worth the read.

The Law of Evolution

Heres an interesting article about how to tackle the abuse of language by creationists. In a nutshell the author suggests scientists should stop using the word "theory" as in "Theory of Evolution" as most people mistakenly believe the word means something akin to "Hunch". Of course in every day life it does, but not in the scientific context and it is this gap in understanding which allows creationist to get away with so much bullshit. To overcome this the article suggests scientists should replace the word "Theory" with "Law" in common parlance, after all, who would argue with the "Law of Evolution"...

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Americans Are NOT Stupid

A friend of mine (who I may have to start identifying him as "Braniac") sent me this funny video. Its the normal stuff of people on the street knowing absolutely nothing about basic geography, current events and history. No matter how many times I see things like this it always amazes me how people can get themselves into such a state of ignorance.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Heinikan Cup : Week One

I went to see Leinster V Leicester on Saturday and was really happy with the performance. I had serious concerns that the rot from the Rugby World Cup had infected the provinces but instead Leinster put in a sterling performance. Of course they have a habit of blowing hot and cold but I'm actually optimistic...

When to the pub afterwards to watch Munster and despite the result felt maybe Irish Rugby is not about to collapse. Roll on next weekend.


Part two, entitled "THE BIOTECH REVOLUTION", of this excellent series aired on BBC4 last night and it was as good as the first. Last nights episode dealt with genetics and biotechnology and, like the first episode, was simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. The potential of this technology is mind bending, from being able to grow replacement body parts to "improving" ourselves physically & mentally to dramatically increasing our lifespans - pretty much, the sky-is-the-limit for what we may be able to do. The program also discussed the dangerous potential of this technology such as the rich and powerful literally genetically enhancing themselves into a permanent ruling class (with near immortality) or how we could evolve ourselves away from humanity into a new species to even how we could remove all the distinguishing foibles of being human and become "perfect". Obviously none of this is possible today but its not too far off and we need to start deciding now, how we are going to use this technology. The overall effect of the program was to give the sense that we really are on the cusp of science-fiction becoming science-fact - a dizzying notion. It reminded me of that Chinese curse, we are living in interesting times.

Friday, 9 November 2007


I went to see Michael Moore's new film "Sicko" last night and I really enjoyed it. As with his other films its a roller coaster of emotion as he moves from funny/heartwarming scenes one minute to sad/heartbreaking scenes the next. The film leaves you in no doubt that for profit health care is a very bad idea, for example, when one of these insurance companies has to make a payment its termed a "Medical Loss". In this environment the profit motive sweeps all before it and its the people who suffer. There were a lot of hard cases featured in the movie but my greatest sympathy was reserved for the couple who went bankrupt at age 60+ and had to move in with their daughter who seemed slightly resentful at the prospect: the small room she put them in hadn't even been cleared out (it contained a PC desk, display case and chest of drawers, but no bed) and bunk beds where mentioned for the parents to sleep in - nightmare!

The worrying thing from an Irish perspective is that Harney et al seem intent on bringing the US model here and the way to do that is to throughly undermine and destroy public confidence in the health service while at the same time touting the benefits on competition and private health insurance. I'm sad to say I imagine they will be successful, not only where the current bunch of crooks and liars returned to office but the Greens have totally sold out and the opposition are a bunch spineless centrists who will continue to do the bidding of whomever's got the money. We're screwed!


The current theory is that ordinary matter (the stuff that you, me, the planet, stars and galaxy's are made from) accounts for about 5% of the universe which brings me to this excellent motivational poster. Enjoy.

Bring back the Greek gods

Here's an interesting article from the LA Times arguing that religion isn't the problem; it's monotheism. The author suggests that having one all powerful god leads to notions of "truth" and "certainty" which polytheistic societies lack.
The polytheistic Greeks didn't advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view.

She argues that it also allowed them to be more open and tolerant to different ideas and faiths, even merging them into their own religion from time to time.
The Greeks and Romans did not share the narrow view of the ancient Hebrews that a divinity could only be masculine. Like many other ancient peoples in the eastern Mediterranean, the Greeks recognized female divinities, and they attributed to goddesses almost all of the powers held by the male gods.

The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people's gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety. If the Greeks were in close contact with a particular nation, they gave the foreign gods names of their own gods: the Egyptian goddess Isis was Demeter, Horus was Apollo, and so on. Thus they incorporated other people's gods into their pantheon.
Now I think the author is presenting a rather rosy view of the ancients as they could be incredibly cruel and they tended to treat women abysmally even though they worshiped goddesses, but the idea has merits. A whole pantheon of rowdy, randy and petty gods carousing around the place cause all sorts of mayhem would be a welcome change from the stiff, uptight, guilt ridden austere god we have at present. It would also open a whole new dimension to believers Sunday morning, "Shall we go to the temple of Zeus or Athena this week?" or "I need to know whether or not to take that new job, lets go worship Apollo today and ask him for a sign". It all sounds like great stuff to me and would make a welcome change from the dry mumbling I grew up with. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start praying to Zeus or anything but the ancient Greeks did have a God of Wine ........ perhaps I'll offer a libation at some point over the weekend and see if anything happens.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Money As Debt

It seems like every other day the price of oil goes up and the value of the dollar goes down. Have a look at this video, it explains just what money and inflation actually are.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 6

I just found out they are making (have made) season 6 of Curb Your Enthusiasm! This is great news, I love this show.

Rome Playing Movie Reviewer

As a follow on from my post yesterday, today's Times of London carry a new story "Rome Condemns Queen Elizabeth Again" in which a Vatican historian hits out at the new Elizabeth movie as being anti-Catholic. This would be funny it it wasn't so tragic. You'd imagine "spiritual" men would be too busy being "spiritual" to bother commenting on the latest movie/book/whatever but they're not! It seems that these guys think "Spiritual" = "Cosmic Censor" in the never ending battle to ensure "Right Think". I'm reminded of that famous definition of fundamentalism by H. L. Mencken
the terrible, pervasive fear that someone, somewhere, is having fun.

Allow me to mock

The Manchester evening News has this article about a new scratch card game which had to be withdrawn from sale. The point of the game was to firstly scratch away a panel to reveal a temperature and then to scratch away the remaining panels in order to try and get a lower temperature and thereby win a prize. This however proved too much for some who couldn't understand the wintry themed negative numbers,

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it.


I watched a great new documentary on BBC4 last night called "VISIONS OF THE FUTURE". Last nights first episode was about the steady merging of computers into our lives and the possible effects of the rise of Artificial Intelligence on society and individuals. One of the highlights was the treating of a clinically depressed woman by inserting electrical wires into her brain to help regulate her mood. They showed how her mood could be altered by literally the turning of a dial, fascinating and worrying all at the same time.

Theres two more episodes to come;

2. The Biotech Revolution
3. The Quantum Revolution

Monday, 5 November 2007

Rome Playing Politics

You have to admire the Roman Catholic Church, everything concerns them. From what your doing in your bedroom to international politics to the latest in science and technology they have an opinion on everything. And they're not shy about having the "wrong" opinion either, down on gays, down on women, not understanding abusing children is wrong and then covering it up, everything can be justified because (after all) they are "The Church". If the Pythons had come up with a skit involving a bunch of weird old virgins obsessed with sex, trying to tell everyone what to do it would have been a classic* but unfortunately truth _is_ stranger than fiction and thats exactly what's going on. A.C. Grayling has written about some of the latest goings on, this time in Spain Rome Playing Politics. Its depressingly familiar, why can't they just prerecord this stuff and bugger off into the sunset?

* strike that, its been done.

Friday, 2 November 2007

The Business of Death

Interesting little video about the business of death. Johnny K may be interested in the polution aspects of the video.

A Day with the Homeopaths

I really hate Homeopathy. It neatly wraps up nonsense, stupidity, credulity and then sells it as a valid "medicine" to people who believe water has memory (Man, I wish I thought of it). Anyway a really good rebuttal can be found here, Part 1 and Part 2. Its an account written by one Steve Novella about his participation in a debate about homeopathy. In keeping with the "None so blind as those who will not see" spirit of all things "Woo" I don't think he converted anybody to reason but hopefully a small crack was made in the mental shields one or two of the practitioners present.

Thursday, 1 November 2007


A friend of mine sent me the link to this comic, thought I'd share.

Quote Of The Day

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart

H. L. Mencken

Think-tank: 'Mark all religious festivals'

This is from todays Independant, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has suggested the UK celebrate all major religious festivals as a way of improving race relations. Good Fcuk! Yes thats the solution to all our problems - more religion. What are these guys thinking? "Yes, we will bring people closer together by high lighting their strongly held, mutually exclusive superstitions". This kind of nonsense really annoys me, I'm still waiting for a think tank to suggest that we ridicule, mock, and patronise religious believe until it slinks back into the world of the personal and private where it belongs along with sexual fetishes and liking "reality" TV.

The End of Mr Y

I picked up this book on a whim because I liked the cover (it reminded me of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) and because Philip Pullman had a blurb on the back cover praising it and also because I compulsively buy books in exactly the same way an alcoholic buys cheap cider the day before Good Friday.

Its a strange book to describe as it starts off as a mystery surrounding a supposedly cursed book (The End of Mr Y) but then quickly delves into the philosophical world of existence, language, thought, creation, religion, time travel, while at the same time not forgetting the ubiquitous bad guys chasing our heroine and trying to kill her. Its a fun read but its major weakness is in its characterisation, the heroine Ariel Manto is a supposedly emotionally damaged young woman due to her tough and impoverished upbringing but only for the fact she keeps telling you this (with the occasional reference to self harm) you'd never guess. In fact she sounds like a regular person, a regular American person even, certainly not a northern English girl with a degree from the 'Life of Hard Knocks University'. The other characters pretty much suffer from this paper thin portrayal as well which is handy as it enables them to leap plot holes in a single bound and provide the necessary impetus to move the plot forward to a neat, if not surprising conclusion. In short its a good fun read but if you want philosophy and physics I'd look elsewhere.