Monthly Archives: April 2012

On eating and drinking simultaneously


Flanders, Netherlands

And not a glass in sight… or is there?

It has been a few weeks not so much hectic as rather completely crzay, hence my kind and loyal readers might with reason consider themselves somewhat neglected by this blog. In order to put that right, I shall attempt a brief post on a useful topic which may be of help to many people.

Some years ago my dear friend Leslie Grufford informed me that you should not eat and drink at the same time. I was not convinced of this at the time as I knew that Mr Grufford was prone to making statements that I didn’t agree with, although with the passage of time some of them have increased their plausibility and this statement of his is no exception. Looking at the matter today I trawled the internet looking for opinions on whether you should avoid fluid intake close to mealtimes and if so why?

Of course I had an inkling myself of why this should be, and this was confirmed by those who said that the stomach contents are flushed into the lower reaches of the Alimentary Canal more quickly if you drink fluids, whereas it hangs around longer in the “pouch” as some commentators put it, if you don’t drink at the same time, which not only enables the feeling of fulltitude to happen with less food, but also better digestion of the nutrients in the food.

Which all kind of makes sense. The best reason to have liquids at hand is of course in case you find yourself choking, but hopefully that doesn’t happen very often and if anxiety to avoid choking makes you eat slower, then well, there’s a third advantage.

It is one thing to know the above though, and quite another to put it into practice. People like to have a drink with meals and there are some social kinds of eating which rather call for the drinking of fluids at the same time.

Maybe we need to change social morays and other sociable eels like the conga in order to reflect what actually is conducive to better health. Maybe we should wait for a good hour after desert before we start to drink coffee. In a lot of restaurants I’ve been at that tends to be what can happen anyway even whn you don’t want it to, so maybe that should be formalised and written into the newest editions of Debretts?

Aperitifs and wine with meals which are included in the price with certain set posh meals are a big temptation to let all that go by the board on occasion, but if that happens at least we need to get back on the programme when we are eating in normal life. It isn’t what happens on conferenced that determines if we are fat or thin, but what happens in our own kitchens and dining rooms and at our desks or canteens at work.

I will say this – an unexpected side effect I noticed when becoming vegetarian was that the desire to drink while eating automtically went down. I need to remember to drink after meals.

The recommendations people on line say that their doctors had given them is not drinkning from 15 minutes before eating a meal to 30 minutes or in some cases 60 minutes after finishing eating. Maybe 45 minutes is a good compromise. I like the 80:20 rule but I’m not sure it would apply here very well.

On the Origins of Speeches


Tower of Babel Русский: Вавилонская башня

Tower of Babel Русский: Вавилонская башня (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Origins of Language Species
(or: “We don’t know what’s right, except that the Bible‘s account of language origins must be wrong!”)

Way back over eight years ago now, on 26th January 2004, I wrote this article in talk.origins, free.christians and alt.fan.uncle-davey which kicked off no little furore, and got me labelled by Aaron Clausen, a talk.origins regular, as a “science-fiction writer” and “the most dangerous and mischievous kind of Creationist“.  He called my account “nothing more than a piece of fiction. It’s like good science fiction, it weaves fact and fiction together in such a way as the improbable seems no more surprising than the probable.” He also wrote on 2nd February 2004 “To my mind, Davey, you are the most mischievous and dangerous kind of Creationist. … You even know the holes in the knowledge of the study of language, and you can use the terminology to great effect. People … seeing your essay, would likely fall for it hook, line and sinker. Because it mixes fact and myth so very well, you give it an air of plausibility.” That was in amongst admitting that he didn’t know any better answer to the origin of language families, and when I asked him what he would tell his kids on the subject if they asked him whether there was a polygenesis of language families or linguistic monogenesis, (this being the sort of thing they ask at the breakfast table in American skeptics’ households) he said he would tell them “we don’t know“.

It seems like even no explanation at all is better for these “knowledge-thirsty” evolutionists than the Bible’s one, if and whenever the Bible invokes supernatural intervention by God, as at Babel.  And their counter to the perfectly reasonable claim, (straight out of atheist Conan Doyle, by the way) that if you cannot disprove a theory it must be true, is that that’s the ‘goddidit’ argument, also known as the “God of the gaps” argument.  They think that by giving silly, mocking designations to the perfectly logical and consistent lines of thought that Christians have, they have somehow effectively dealt with them. Either that or they make out that the questions which we raise are invalid in some way. In all they do they are like lawyers who, having trouble with the evidence, use odd points of law to attack the procedure, so that justice and fairness and true rationale flee out of the window, pursued by the harrying hounds of unscrupulous rhetoric.

Obviously, I’m not out to deceive anybody or produce fiction or stir up mischief as Aaron Clausen claimed, but I really think that if someone knows the facts about where we are in the reconstruction of earlier languages, and doesn’t have a world view that excludes a priori the chance for God to work directly on the human mind, en masse, they will say that the explanation I gave, based on the Babel account of scripture, is just as valid an account of how we got to today’s languages as any other. Only prejudice against the possibility of such action by God is a reason not to acknowledge that I have offered a workable and valid theory, and one that reflects observable fact more clearly than such theories as would dovetail well with evolutionary views of the origin of man.

Anyway, the person who got me started is ‘Sloggoth’ and he/she is in the quotes.

Some of the following is quoted from the time, and some has been added since to improve the communication of the ideas.

Well, Uncle Davey, you’ve confused a lurker pretty well here. If you would be so kind as to clarify:
When you speak of linguistic evolution do you mean:
 1) The evolution of the *capacity for language* in humans? Biological evolution must indeed be able to explain this.
or
 2) What everyone else means, i.e. change in language, such as that which produced French and Spanish from Latin? There is no reason why a theory which deals with genetic change should address a purely cultural phenomenon, beyond explaining how it is biologically possible in the first place.
or even
 3) If one cannot trace linguistic evolution beyond the known families, (which probably arose at some time in the past that could very loosely fit the Babel account), then the Babel account is thereby not contradicted?

The way I see it is that what happened at Babel everyone received their own language. Even husbands and wives could not talk and little kids could not communicate with their parents. This meant that in order to have an established family language, families needed to isolate themselves, and then they would all learn the language of the mother of that family, as mothers are and always have been the main one to teach the little children language. The men therefore would also have needed to take their wive’s grammar and syntax, but the wife would in return take a lot of the lexicon from her husband, and in the process already the family language would become at once grammatically simpler but also lexically richer than the Babel exit languages each member spoke. We have the expression ‘mother tongue’ in almost every language but Welsh, which is like the exception that proves the rule, exactly from this time, which was only one generation in the history of man.

That’s right. There was only one generation from Babel in which individual languages became family languages. The majority of the languages that came out from Babel would have gone into disremembrance when that person dies. In some cases the vocabulary will have been loaned into the family language, and in most cases the phonetics will have influenced to some degree the family language. People who had no families and no successors therefore had their individual languages vanish probably without trace.

You see, this was the mechanism that would have driven people out of Babel into their own place, so that they could quietly re-  establish a common language with those who meant most to them, their family, without linguistic interference from all the others who would come babbling over the horizon, preventing their children from achieving any linguistic competence.

Within a further forty years, that one language per family (already maybe only one fifth of the number actually made at Babel) was similar conflating and merging into tribal languages. The basic model would then be the family language of the most dominant family in the tribe. This process took longer than the family language process, as the new languages were being learned as foreign languages by all in the tribe but the dominant family. These dominant families are the ancestors of the aristocratic families that grew up later in almost every culture.

The tribal languages would have taken over from the family languages so that by about four hundred years after Babel the single family language was as redundant and extinct as the single person language had been forty years after the Babel event. But each of these tribal languages would have been a selection of grammars, phonologies and lexical materials that came out of the Babel event. We are told in scripture that God confused the language, which may suggest that he took things which were already in the Adamic language and mixed them up. However, my personal belief is that none of the exit languages had all of the material that was in the Adamic language. When given directly to Adam by God, this language was a perfect thought vehicle for the man that He had made, and to be able to be taught and used by future generations. In Isaiah 65v20 as well as in the early Genesis chapters we see indications that the original plan for the length of human childhood was 100 years, setting up for a lifetime of up to 1000 years. Up to the Flood we see nobody doing any “begetting” until they are over one hundred, that’s for sure. The language given by God originally would have been a rich language taking the full measure of 100 years to acquire from parents and enabling thought and worship on a level unparalleled by people living today. Because there were relatively few of them and the Flood was such a huge cataclysm, we cannot see any indications of the achievements they had made with this linguistic tool, but they must have been amazing.

Once we arrive at post-Flood times and you see in scripture the lives of post-Flood generations going down to below what would have counted as infant mortality before the Flood, people maturing already in the second decade of their lives and then expected to have finished their educations (one of the reasons why there is this conundrum that we barely use a fraction of our brains’ synaptic capabilities – they are still the same size as those brains were which held Adamic, but now our childhoods are too short to learn it properly anyway) so the Adamic language was probably already deteriorating – probably people started to use a debased, pidgin version of the old language at Babel, although as a Community they may still have possessed the totality of it.

So the size of the confounded languages were probably much smaller – it’s reasonable to suggest about 20% of the complexity and richness of the original Adamic language. Each individual language probably held a unique mix and match combination of about 20% of what was in Adamic, but shifted and confused so that Adamic could not be put back together again.

And of such languages, getting back to the story, tribal languages emerge within up to 400 years and we come to the rise of the supertribal language.

Some of these early tribal languages exist until today. Basque is a good example. It isn’t visibly related to other languages around it, it has simply been there, carried in a small tribe in enveloped in the Pyrenees, for thousands of years.

Other tribes conflated again into the supertribe, and the supertribe is where we find the original languages at the heads of the family trees that we can easily recognise. The Aryan supertribe spoke a language whose name we don’t know, but we know it must have existed and we call it Proto-Indo-European. They themsleves could have called it Yaspriyakis, Blurbnurb or something like that, or just “Smith’s Tongue”, for all we know. It was a supertribe, and as with all supertribes, it fell apart, with people who spoke it leaving
and mingling with the languages of the substrate where they went, which were generally tribal, not supertribal peoples, and could not compete with them.

So we have a tendency for common grammatical elements to be seen, but a lot of different lexical stock from the borrowings. Even the supertribe itself had not been stable long when the emigrations started; some thought the word for ‘a hundred’ should be ‘kentum’ and others thought it should be ‘sati’. About all they could really agree on was the words for beech trees, snow, and about twenty other matters.

So the supertribal language was the turning point. From Babel to the supertribal period, maybe a hundred thousand languages got down to maybe ten thousand. After that time the supertribal languages started to have multiple descendents, and even some descendents had multiple descendents themselves, so that they replaced the exit languages being spoken by peoples like the
pre-Celtic cultures of Ireland, and then many of those languages, like Irish Celtic, themselves became forced into a minor role or often made extinct altogether, like Cornish, by more vigorous languages of their distant cousins, such as English.

In sum, if we have had six thousand years since Babel, one of those thousand has seen the rise of the linguistic supertribe, and the other five thousand has seen mainly supertribal languages disintegrating into the language families we know today (and others which have gone extinct with no trace). In some parts of the world smaller languages, even ones that have resulted from supertribal disintegration, have started to grow again into supertribal languages, so the whole ebb and flow described here is something which didn’t necessarily happen just once in that length of history.

Incidently, even broader groups than Nostratic have been proposed, including attempts to reconstruct words of Proto-World. Unfortunately the only one I recall at the moment is rather indelicate.

There’s every chance that we can guess at a word that was in the vocabulary of somebody who walked out of Babel, maybe in a sound-shifted or abbreviated form. After all, all the material in every tribal or supertribal language came from someone or other’s Babel exit language. It’s not common for languages to invent words, so even ‘shit’ has good cognates in Greek. If we say that ‘skata’ is closer to the Babel exit languages, because we can tell it didn’t go through the Germanic sound shifts which we know all about thanks to the Brothers Grimm, then we can assert with a good probability of truth that some rather powerful man or his wife, with a penchant for talking about his or her bodily functions, received the ancestor word for ‘skata/shit’ in his or her personal language at Babel. It is very interesting how reluctant mankind is to introduce linguistuc material out of nothing. Almost everything is a loanword or a calque or an  omatopoeia, or a contraction of other words.  Even on the internet existing language was massaged to create the terms we are now using worldwide over the  last 25 years. Very little by way of truly random words have been used. Even the search engine “Google”‘ links from “go ogle” and “Facebook” comes from two very basic monosyllablic English words.

Anyway, this account, which has no shortage of fantasy in it as I am more than aware, and make no apology for in the face of the fantasy required to make a dinosaur drawing complete with colours and habits from a couple of bones, this being the sort of trick on which most people’s understanding of evolution seems to base, is consistent nevertheless with both on the one hand the observable fact that we cannot get back any further than PIE or PFU, and find further common ancestors, obviates the absurd and counter-intuitive notion that language systems fairly equal in complexity could have evolved in the human race at different times and places, but without the organs of speech of the races then changing so that an infant could not acquire a perfect accent in a non related system, and where we do not see easier grammars compounding into harder grammars, but rather the reverse, and one the other hand it is consistent with what scripture says about language origins.

And so, in conclusion, evolutionary science is at odds with what is known of philology, and the Bible is not.

By the way, in the rest of the original talk.origins discussion,  it became apparent that the evolutionists have nothing to offer but rhetoric, and try to divert the uncomfortable topic onto archaeology, where they attempted to argue from negatives assuming that Babel hinges on the archaeological work of Babylon, when there is no reason at all to expect to find any traces of Babel and its tower. However large it was, it was doubtless less in terms of mass of fabric than the Berlin Wall was, and people recycled that in the space of a few months, let alone a few thousand years.  If anything has changed, and any evolutionist has something to offer which is new, please go ahead and make your comments.

I remind evolutionists reading this article of their right of immediate and public reply on the bulletin board of this site, which as I said earlier is not edited or moderated except for things that are illegal and for spam.

I hope Christians are encouraged by all this not to believe that science has all the answers, it doesn’t. But as we see evolutionists, especially those who are only using the evolutionary fallacy as their charter for atheism or apostasy, will fill in the gaps between real science and their world view and then try to convince us that this philosophical putty of theirs is good science too.

(DJJ, based on material added to the old site usenetposts.com 29/4/04, original debate from Jan-Feb 2004, now with 25% added material)

Vegetarian experience on European British Airways flight.


I attach the scan of my comments sent in today during the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Warsaw.

It would be self-explanatory, if one could actually read it, so I will type it out to make that a bit easier.

Every time I fly this route you seem to run out of vegetarian option sandwiches. This flight was about 4 short.

Bearing in mind that anyone can eat our food but we cannot eat carnibals’ food, doesn’t it make sense to overestimate the number of vegucated people rather than underestimate?

That would probably reduce food wastage, increasing your green credentials, as proudly boasted on every item of packaging!

The number of us is growing, so more amd more catering for vieegies should be in BA’s plans for the future, IMHO.

PS: Unless you indicate the contrary, I’ll include your reply in my blog huliganov.tv

So there we have it, I’m awaiting their response and you will be able to read that in an updated version of this post if you’re subbed to us here on Huliganov.TV.

I want to say clearly that this is no reflection on the cabin crew, who were outstanding today. Lindsay who was handing out the food actually went above the call of duty and raided the catering for the return route so as to get vegetarian sandwiches for the 4 of us who otherwise would have gone hungry. Roberto who was bursar explained also about how once people who are really vegetarians get a veggie sandwich, a lot of other people looking on would would quite like an egg sandwich even though they are quite happy to eat a ham sandwich if there’s no alternative.

The problem is that on the flights with real meals you can book a vegetarian option, but there’s no way of booking a vegetarian option beforehand on the snack-based flights that we have around Europe. So anyone who books into an economy class on a European flight will not be able to state a dietary preference – which would be all very well if all the snacks were plant-based and kosher but since they are not (I made the point also, which was well taken by Roberto, that the UK to Poland flight is sometimes going to hold parties of Jewish kids on excursions to Auschwitz or to heritage places, and they are not going to be able to take a ham sandwich either. This is not, repeat not, the fault of the people handing out the food and drinks on the flight, who could not have been better especially as it was a busy flight today, but this is just a call to the guys on the ground who design these meals. We read on all the wrappings how concerned BA is to have sustainable this and free-trade that, but still the choice of any meat, especially ham in sandwiches means that the ethics in place are still falling short of the expectations of a growing number of passengers.

Lindsay was kind enough to provide me with the information that 16 of the 123 sandwiches provided for the flight were egg and cress, the rest were the meat option. This means in fact that the estimation of the people planning the food was 13% vegetarian. This in itself, all else being equal, would in fact be a reasonable reflection of the current level of vegetarianism in most of Europe. I researched it the other day when my mother said it was for a lunatic fringe of cranks and the sources I saw put it between 10-15%.  However, the point Roberto made that in his experience as soon as the first vegetarian has refused the meat and taken egg, then a larger number of people suddenly start wanting to exercise a choice, this means that you cannot really just go on the basis of the number who are vegetarian.  It is hard for cabin staff to start challenging people’s vegetarian credentials in the flight over an egg sandwich.

And on top of that, in the UK there is getting on for 10% of the population who won’t eat pork on religious grounds even if they are not vegetarian. Diversity is a hallmark of what modern Britain stands for, and an airline flying our flag, and hoping soon to boost its fortunes no doubt with travel to the UK of people from all over the world both for the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and also the Olympics in London coming up very soon now this year, is duty bound to have this approach in its menu choices. Like it or not, vegetarian sandwiches are acceptable to most religions and to vegetarians also. About ten percent of vegetarians are full Vegan of course, but they are aware in any event that they are hard to cater for and if someone wants to be a no-exceptions Vegan and not an 80% Vegan like me, they will have to prepare their own in-flight food for a good while in the future, I expect. If I were uncompromising, I’d be a Vegan too, but I sometimes have to go half way in a social situation and accept egg and dairy products, but then I do expect that these options are readily available, and that’s the other party’s part of the compromise as I see it.

So what’s my recommendation to BA? And to representatives of other airlines who may have stumbled upon this? I would say that if your main sandwich is chicken or fish, you might get away with 35% vegetarian option and 65% your chicken or fish option. But if you are doing pork or shellfish, you probably need about 55% vegetarian option.

The clincher really is what I started off with in my note, that carnibals can almost always eat vegetarians’  food. They may not like it, or indeed they may have discovered that veggie food is tastier than meat based food, but there are very few who can’t eat it at all. The same is not true when the only remaining option is the meat option and as the cabin staff get down to the tail end of the plane they are coming up against people who are not happy because they will be going hungry when others are eating.

The advice given is to let the cabin staff know if you are vegetarian, so that they save one for you from the people who are taking the vegetarian option facultatively, but surely a better option is to let people choose and to have it so that when the choice finally does run out, at least the one thing left is something that we can nearly all eat?

I await the British Airways response – they’ve got my email. Unless they tell me I’m not supposed to publish it, you’ll also see it when they do respond.

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