The Lobby: Off-topic discussion

Hello and welcome to The Lobby! Your place to discuss subjects that just don’t fit in our other conversations. Make yourself at home!

Do you want to discuss an issue but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

As with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so on some of our posts because of the precisely defined nature of each subject.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we created this off-topic discussion area – The Lobby.

Any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could generate new posts for debate and discussion on Which? Conversation, so you – our community members – are able to help shape the direction of our community.

What happened to the original Lobby?

Why do we have two Lobbies? Well, like all good franchises, we wanted to experiment with a sequel. But seriously, the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

So we’re starting fresh with what we’re affectionately calling “The Lobby 2”.

No comments from first Lobby have been deleted, and you can still link to comments, but you won’t be able to add new comments.

Guidelines

To ensure The Lobby remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings all of our Community Guidelines apply, with the exception of one:

You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby.  🙂

Looking for other areas to talk?

• Website feedback: Let us know about any technical issues, and share your ideas on the future of Which? Conversation

Which.net closure: A discussion about the closure of Which.net

Which? Members: Discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance

Welcome to the Lobby!

So without further ado… welcome! What are you waiting for!?

Comments

The hard thing about a business is minding your own.

Indeed. There are too many who look for new business opportunities.

We are all time travellers moving at the speed of exactly 60 minutes per hour

Welcome to Women in Engineering Day, the day in 1974 the first extraterrestrial message deliberately sent from Earth into space and the day in 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU

When I was a boy, I had a disease that required me to eat soil three times a day in order to survive… It’s a good thing my older brother told me about it

I’m always concerned when Americans use the term ‘ground beef’. They don’t mince their words.

Well, it seems that the place is rather broken today. Not only has the message of the day been lost, somewhere, but it resolutely refuses to post every joke. And still no edit button.

Let’s try again. Welcome to Women in Engineering day, the day in 1974 the first extraterrestrial message was deliberately sent from Earth into space and the day in 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU.

Ah. Now it;s appeared. So let’s try the final joke:

I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.

That’s better, Ian. I didn’t get the first one and Wavechange’s addendum didn’t make it any clearer unfortunately. I think I’ve worked it out now and you can take a thumb.

It does seem that when things go wrong, here, they really go wrong. (My spell checker rejects “programme” here but accepts in in “Word”.) The last couple of melt downs caused all sorts of aberrations and apologies. Altering one chip seems to have a chain reaction. I would have thought that, for the peace of mind of our controllers, they would adopt software that didn’t do that every time they try and “improve” our experiences here.

Vynor – I think the problem is that the basic software is now over ten years old and it has been subjected to so many tweaks and iterations that the only original thing left is the starting handle. It’s a cat’s cradle of interlocking functions wherein the adjustment of any one dislodges two others which in turn set in train reciprocating counter movements in its basic configuration. The edit button was a new facility a few years ago – we had to manage without in the early days but we’ve come to rely on it lately for corrections, amendments and afterthoughts; I miss it dearly.

Some years ago I believe the server fell over and was probably not put back together again properly despite the attentions of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.

Vynor – In UK English it is normal to use both versions, for example TV programmes and computer programs: https://www.lexico.com/definition/programme

My browser does not object to either version, not knowing which is appropriate in the context.

Vynor: the problem regarding software is that the bed-rock, original code is flawed. That code, written in what used to be called ‘machine code’ contains flaws which, as coding languages progressed quickly onto the higher-level languages, became embedded, so flaw-free coding does not exist.

If you can spare seven minutes, have a look at this light-hearted commentary about concerns about new technology over the years: https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/when-landlines-were-considered-dangerous/p08dwnnz

That’s superb! A little gem.

A little gem? Lettuce see if there are other interesting short videos in the series.

Welcome to Fairy Day, the day in 1901 of the nineteen year old Picasso’s first exhibition and the day in 2016 when David Cameron resigned after the UK voted to leave the EU

To Celebrate Fairy Day.

Take two wings and a small cute apparition.
Very small, perhaps but a full female edition.
Dress it in tule, organza and silk,
With head dress or floral flowers of milk.

Float it around in a nebulous way
Blown by the wind and always at play.
Magic it may be but not so you’d know,
Usually assisting the Queen and her show.

Sexual pleasures are hardly her scene,
Indeed, her motives are far more serene.
She plays with her friends and is ready to ask
Permission to gambol in a delicate task.

We humans can draw the likeness quite well.
Everyone knows where a fairy might dwell.
No one can tell if they’ve seen one or not,
Or if wishes are granted by this tiny tot.

Stories abound and enchant younger ears,
Disney has showered them round through the years.
Shakespeare included them always as part
Of a spiritual family serving his art.

So fairies exist on the canvas and page
Their ethereal presence portrayed on the stage.
Their lives and their history mystify all
No fairy I know will come when I call.

Our previous house was called ‘Oberon’. We took down the blue enamel nameplate when we moved but have not fixed it up here. Commemorating the King of the Fairies has different connotations these days hence our reluctance – but should we pencil in 24 June 2021 to give the house that name? I have never come across another house named Oberon.

The house next to me has a strip of colour changing LEDs under the soffit. They are often on red. As far as I know that is not of any significance……

‘Operon’ would be a good house name for a geneticist.

Yes, it would – but it would not be appropriate in our case . . . although Jean might be in favour. I guess few would understand the relevance.

It has frequently been my desire in life to be an anaesthetist . . .

Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool. I gave him a glass of water.

Great quip – laughed so much I nearly wet myself.

It’s good to know that such people can deep end on you, Ian.

Next time he calls there should just be a tap on the door.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Why don’t we swop thumbs up/down for emojis?

Do you mean 🙂 and 🙃 ?

Or 🙂 and 🙁

Hard to tell apart. I think the present trial is working well.

That one liner ‘i’m not drinking too much tonight’ never goes as planned…

My girlfriend is always stealing my t-shirts and sweaters… But if I take one of her dresses, suddenly “we need to talk”

I’m pleased that Tesco has stopped giving me discount vouchers for women’s clothing. It’s reassuring that their tracking has not been very good at finding out much about me or my buying habits.

I am always amazed that the shops I patronise go to enormous lengths to understand our requirements and buying habits but spectacularly fail to offer products I might like to buy.

John Lewis [& Partners] is a curious one. I have had a personal account with them for over fifty years but they still imagine I am a twenty-something town or city hipster. I never was and certainly can’t be now. Over the years I have had quite a lot of women’s clothing charged to my personal account so I can understand some of the confusion that must induce.

I’ve long wondered if John Ward is a real name. Applying Tesco and JL algorithms there is a good chance that your name is Peter Pan.

In modern parlance they call us late developers, Wavechange.

I did grow up briefly but retirement has brought about a relapse.

Someone who grows up too much is like a failing university. It starts to lose its faculties.

When Ian presented us with three jokes each morning I thought we should have five a day, but it’s getting out of hand. I wonder if posts in The Lobby should be removed from Latest comments so as not to put off people who are interested in more serious issues.

If in doubt tell her to do what the Americans do when in Scotland. Look under the skirt (kilt). If its a quarter pounder is almost certain to be a McDonalds ….”..Ooooooops! Blame it on the heat!

This was a reply to Ian’s @ 10.15.

I guessed 🙂

Personally I’d prefer to see a separate Convo for jokes and leave The Lobby for topics that don’t fit under another heading.

I support that.

I suspect it would wither and die without some humour. Many of the discussions in The Lobby could be usefully moved to an appropriate Convo, where they might be discovered in future.

I agree, engaging in serious consumer related problem solving issues 7 days a week is not recommended without a little humour thrown in to lighten the mood a little.

I doubt there would be any withering and dying. Those who want to contribute and see humour would not be deprived. I thought the purpose of The Lobby was to discuss topics that did not fit into other Convos. There is sufficient regular humour to be a Convo in its own right.

We still have far too few contributors. Those who follow Convos and think of posting might well see the interrupted Lobby as a deterrent to following a particular thread.

Although no topic is off-topic in The Lobby it would be helpful if discussion is moved to any suitable recent Convo, where there is a chance of finding useful information in future. That does not matter if the comments are just chat.

And still no news about the edit button…

Fix being attempted today.

That fix has just been deployed.

I’ve just tested it with a token edit on my previous post, so it is nice to see it back and working 🙂

It works. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in returning one of our favourite features.

When editing a comment, we don’t have to contend with double line spacing either. 🙂

Well done, folks. It was sorely needed.

Thanks very much Jon and Paul for restoring the editing button and facility.

I am still experiencing the double-line spacing so will have to see whether that can be cleared on my laptop.

Update: Nope – clearing the cache hasn’t changed anything.

Further Update: Closed down and reopened > Success > Single line spacing returned > Great. Thanks, everyone, for persisting.

We just need a Ringo now and we’ll be laughing.

I’ll ask Jon about the double-line spacing issue.

The old fashioned solution of switching off and on again might help.

Yes, Wavechange – as I just added to my previous post, I’ve done that now and it worked.

Thanks, George – I’ve resolved the spacing on my laptop and I’m hoping it’s synced with the desktop but that’s inactive at the moment.

No Ringo? Get a Lemur for a pet.

I’m enjoying making mistakes and being able to correct them. It reminds me of when I moved from a typewriter to a word processor.

I am thinking of writing a novel called The Editor’s Button – Life in the Errata©.

I’m so glad that the edit button has returned. I no longer need to fear accidentally writing something like ‘chlorine-washed children’ in the debate about food standards.

Tracking common threads

It’s not unusual for two or three threads to be running simultaneously in The Lobby making it difficult to keep track. I wonder whether when someone starts a new topic in The Lobby they could give it a headline. This could be repeated in replies so that the several parts of a common thread can be connected mentally even if not physically.

I agree, John. I have sometimes attempted discussions on a topic using a headline, but it has not worked well.

What is particularly annoying is that when we have a ‘thread’ on a topic someone will start a new thread. Few do this but it happens.

Yes, if they start a new thread without breaking out into a parent comment then it completely ruins the original thread and causes a major distraction. It doesn’t help that the margin indents are not always clearly indicative, especially when a series of replies has been accumulating for a long time since the parent comment.

Tracking common threads It’s not unusual for two or three threads to be running simultaneously in The Lobby making it difficult to keep track. I wonder whether when someone starts a new topic in The Lobby they could give it a headline. This could be repeated in replies so that the several parts of a common thread can be connected mentally even if not physically.

This is standard on forums everywhere but sadly this software doesn’t support the approach. However, we are supposed to be getting some new software…

Surprising what turns up in the early hours from the night birds among us. I am probably guilty of dropping in and posting something irrelevant, though I do use the “Reply” function to join an existing thread. One might also need to be clairvoyant to interrupt a conversation which might, or might not have finished. Indeed, the site does not allow us to choose where our comments are placed, except where we choose to annex one to another further up the page. This is, of course, is then queued to the bottom of that list.
If we are to get into the habit of headlining new comments, it can be done by highlighting the first line with something short and relevant. This etiquette needs to be adopted by everyone and could be tiresome for brief entries but useful for something more substantial. If others do it, so shall I.

I have tried using capitals to highlight a post on a topic that I think might be worthy of discussion, but usually the post is either ignored or someone posts something that promptly takes the discussion off-topic. A couple of others have tried the same approach.

In most other forums the ability to create new topics is vested in the members themselves-in some. Again, this software doesn’t lend itself to that degree of flexibility.

Agreed John.

Continuing a thread with a new thread might be partly down to the title of the new thread box Join the debate especially when you reply to the last post on the page.

Would a better title be Start a new discussion on this convo.

I think the problem is one of discipline on the part of the frequent contributors [me included]. We have a tendency to go off on a tangent that takes on a life of its own. A good example of that is the Conversation on the coronavirus contact system which – fairly predictably, I suppose – has gone off on a dissertation on mobile phone technology and manufacturer support. Not entirely irrelevant, of course, but it has marooned the original purpose of the Conversation. Then again, that might have already run its course and there might not be much more to be said.

In organised activities like work and voluntary bodies there is usually someone chairing the discussion and keeping it on track. I was the frequent recipient of an under-the-table kick on the leg for digressing or making unwanted remarks. That can’t happen here, and the author of the Conversation cannot effectively steer it, desirable though that might be.

The Lobby is a special case because there is no concept of ‘on topic’ there; it is an open forum so disparate parallel threads get intermingled. In other Conversations there is generally a form of serial development and to some extent extraneous comments form their own threads and get shunted into sidings while the rest of the discussion proceeds along the main line. To achieve a similar result in The Lobby would require further sub-divisions of the threading and I am not sure that would work without some form of signalling and supervision.

Probably about half of all the comments in Which? Conversation emanate from a relatively tiny number of contributors. The other half are posted by people who say something but have no ongoing interest in developing the discussion. They make their point and go. Some have a look around and like, or dislike, what they see and then either enter other Conversations, or they leave and just wait until they are summoned to the next hot topic. The question is whether a change in behaviour by the minority could improve the experience and the engagement of many others, and, if so, how to bring that about.

The minority certainly dominate Convos. Do potential new commenters feel inhibited about breaking in to their discussions? We are all familiar with the characters of the minority and, rather like in a club or family, feel comfortable when making our thoughts known. Only occasionally does that provoke slightly unpleasant responses which we can usually take on the chin but which might put others off.

I wish we could greatly expand the contributor base. It is, in my view, a Which? creation that ought to involve Which? members far, far more than it does. They would make constructive and knowledgeable contributions. I think this could begin to be achieved by publicising serious Convos in the magazine, actively encouraging contributions but, more importantly, assuring contributors that appropriate Convo topics are designed by Which? to seek views, knowledge, information that will have a real objective, a partnership investigation between Which? and it’s members with a real purpose. Proper member engagement. I cannot believe the other 659990 members who are not (regular) commenters have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

This is not meant to exclude non-members in any way. I’d like to see a forum that is essentially more than entertainment interspersed with some education.

John – Second-level threading (or whatever the term is) was tried, John. It helped in some cases but often created problems. I don’t remember anyone mourning its loss when we went back to the present system.

You are right about the coronavirus tracking system, and I have been part of the problem. People will keep saying that older smartphones must be supported without any evidence that this is realistically possible. I could suggest that all petrol and diesel cars should be capable of 100 mpg but I don’t know if that would be practical.

Many of the Convos where new faces make a number of contributions focus on suggestions that would be difficult or impossible to achieve.

Malcolm – I would like to know if posts by regulars do put off others. We often have long interchanges that are not inclusive and of little interest to anyone else. I can imagine our Convo team saying that Malcolm and Wavechange are at it again. 🙂

We are seeing more input from Which? Legal in certain Convos but it would be great if staff from the Which? teams would drop in to discuss topics such as exploding washing machine and oven doors. Over the years we have had plenty of input from those who have had breakages.

I think at least we explore different aspects of a topic constructively rather than argumentatively. I think it is what a conversation that has any purpose is about.

I have seen no evidence that regulars put newcomers off. Their comments are treated with respect, answers are given when people ask questions – travel, Consumer Rights, for example – and the community is polite, welcoming and helpful.

I don’t understand why Convos are not used as a more core activity by Which?

I hope so but it would be interesting to know what others think.

When we are trying to help visitors perhaps we could get them more involved, perhaps by asking for more information about their problem. What often happens is that two or three of us give our thoughts and the enquirer is forgotten, or that is how it may appear to them.

Many enquirers never respond when they are given help or asked for more information. I wonder why?

Dare I suggest that those who write here are inclined to do so and to spend the time necessary to write and read? Those who do not, probably have interests elsewhere. The casual interloper has a point to make and no further need to contribute. We don’t know how many silent readers there are, but enough people make some access to the site to flood it on occasions. However, a flood here is probably measured in the low hundreds at most, so isn’t really a significant section of the population. I mention Which? Conversation to many relatives and friends, but as far as I know, not one is interested in coming near us. I have yet to meet anyone who contributes or says they’ve read anything. I don’t see much point in worrying about our current community. It exists and flourishes because we gain pleasure, intellectual satisfaction and a platform to “pontificate” um – sorry, elaborate on themes of interest. Yes, it should go much further and , yes, it should be part of the magazine, and, yes again, there are quite a few brains asking to be used to help others but that is something others have to put in place, we can only let them know we are here.

Well said Vynor. George is still pushing for more acknowledgement of Convo in the magazine. Recent topics are mentioned on the Which? homepage. Maybe we need a poem about pontification (preferably one that rhymes).

Replying to Malcolm:

One factor that has often been discussed is that enquirers who do not sign-in may not be able to find their post. Others who do sign-in might not know how to find their own posts, especially if they do not visit regularly. Sadly, not everyone does offer thanks for help.

I suspect that our answers are often far too detailed for most enquiries. In the real world we would usually explore what someone knows about a topic and then give an answer pitched at the right level. If several of us respond in detail about a consumer rights issue the enquirer may be bemused or even ungrateful.

I wonder if our Community Manager, Jon, might give us his thoughts either here or privately.

John – You started a topic about tracking common threads and before long we drifted onto other matters. What was the saying about herding cats?

My impression of responses to consumer rights issues, often referencing the Which? or the DTI guide, is that they have been concise and helpful. Usually without any support from Which?, that would be useful.

In fact I think many responses are to the point. However, they often raise issues that are developed further by commenters. A good use of Convos, in my view.

I agree that they are helpful and can lead to useful discussions, but why do you reckon that the majority of OPs never return after responses to their question have been posted? I’m not looking for thanks but it would be useful to know whether responses have been read.

No idea. You (I) sometimes wonder why they really post in the first place unless they just look for advice from Which?. and are disappointed when that doesn’t happen and, instead, they get a reply from just another commenter.

I wonder how many people look at the Convos but never or infrequently post. When I ran discussion boards, students would sometimes discuss (verbally) information that had been posted by me or by other students, yet they never asked questions online or contributed in any way.

We have lost some contributors who have posted quite frequently at one time. There was an Ian who used to post about landlines and charging. I don’t know if he looks in because we have a few Ians. There was Banjo, who used to post about printers and still looks in occasionally but rarely posts.

A personal messaging system would allow us to contact individuals without exchanging email addresses and when I contributed to a forum based on WordPress I used PMs occasionally. That was before I came to Convo. After running forums for years, I imagine Ian has gained some insight into why people contribute or remain as lurkers.

I think Malcolm’s note that many people who raise a question are looking for “advice from Which? and are disappointed when that doesn’t happen and, instead, they get a reply from just another commenter” is fairly accurate.

I recall one person recently who was fairly miffed when she got a response to a cancelled flight refund question “from just another traveller” and not an official piece of advice from Which? Perhaps Which? should make clear its limitations and explain how Which? Conversation works [i.e. it is not a helpline or personal advice column].

It would be interesting to know the route that casual enquirers on consumer issues took to reach Which? Conversation. Were they prompted by something they saw in other media, or had a general impression that Which? was the right place to ask the question, or did they put some key words in their search engine and up popped Which? Conversation?

If they were search engine-led, they probably had no idea what to expect but came straight into the targeted Conversation without wiping their feet on the community guidelines or other introductory material, and plunged straight in with a question – not realising they had better remember where they were for future reference and how to get there.

We have speculated on whether conduct within Which? Conversation tends to put off new commenters from making any further contribution. That is a possibility, of course, but I don’t see the point of us agonising over it. Whether they are Which?’s ‘supporters’ who pile on board when the latest mass response topic turns up, or are just casual wanderers who had one problem on their mind, they all have the opportunity to look around and see whether or not it is the place for them. New contributors have participated making up for those who have left and some familiar names from the past have come back after an absence.

In a way it doesn’t matter if an enquirer doesn’t come back to see the response to their question since the information relayed might be of interest to others so is not necessarily wasted. We cannot tell whether or not they have read the reply so it might be best to assume that they have. Enough come back with a supplementary question or further information to show that they have engaged which makes it worthwhile. From casual observation I would say that women are more likely than men to return with an appreciative comment but with so many unspecific user names appearing it is impossible to verify that.

I quite often end up in technical PC related forums if am looking for information on a given topic. In those quests, I am specifically not looking to join a forum but just to find help and information on a given topic.

I have occaisionally joined one or two such forums but have never stuck around, either because I thought I had nothing unique to contribute or because there was too much criticism directed at newbie posters raising help requests in the wriong place, especially if the query was already answered elsewhere. In one case I even got permanently banned from a forum after making a flurry of intial posts. I’m still not sure whether this was due an AI fault in their admin, or for gross and irredeemable breaches of forum rules, such as upsetting its sponsoring advertisers. Ho hum.

I noticed, gratifyingly, that the latest subscribers’ booklet on Scams was peppered with references to Which? Conversation.

You see, constant dripping does wear away stone . . .

I am very keen that we do keep contributors with expertise and we cannot assume that they will be replaced. One one forum that I used to contribute to in the days before Convo there were certain contributors who could be relied on to advise on certain topics and were sometimes summoned if they had not been in attendance when a relevant question was posted.

I can relate to what Derek has said about forums. In the past I have registered to ask questions and pass on information on topics of hobby interest. I now find Convo more appealing because there is more diversity and it becomes tedious to continue to repeatedly discuss the same topic ad nauseam on a special interest forum.

We have seen Which? staff responding to questions on legal matters and it would be good to see contributions in other Convos, particularly where there is obviously a need. In the two-pin plug Convos it took years to learn that companies that run online marketplaces currently have no legal responsibility for what their marketplace traders do. That has appeared in the June magazine but is far from common knowledge and it begs the question about what happens now. Will Which? take further action or not? It would be good to know.

I am not sure that the exemption reportedly enjoyed by marketplace hosts from responsibility over sales by their traders has been legally tested in respect of the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994. This states that “no person shall supply, offer for supply, agree to supply, expose for supply or possess for supply an electrical device unless the requirements of regulation 6 below are satisfied in relation to it. If Amazon and others are not, through their websites, deemed to be offering and exposing for supply contravening products I should be most surprised. In some cases, as the fulfilment agent and the delivery agent, they are also possessing for supply. Surely this legislative requirement overrides the current interpretation of the legal responsibility does it not?

Yes John. This is now my number one priority for action. Notwithstanding the legal interpretation it’s unethical for any marketplace owner to allow traders to act illegally. Yes Amazon and others must be made to act in the interests of public safety. More of a challenge is eBay, where many of the traders are very small companies or individuals that cannot possibly be expected to ensure that products are safe unless they are purchased from distributors that are capable of ensuring that they comply with the rules or arrange to have imported products tested independently by accredited labs. We need to work backwards from the requirements that goods are as safe as those bought in traditional shops and that there is an effective system for recalling products if there is a problem.

What happens to products that are identified as dangerous, for example by Which? Do the marketplaces contact those who have already purchased them (I am not aware this happens) or is there a recall list on the marketplace homepage? Amazon and eBay do not provide one.

Why have Which? not yet responded to this? We have asked them to contribute a number of times.

Welcome to Global Beatles Day, the day in 1960 when Somaliland was granted independence and the day in 2007 when Lincolnshire and Yorkshire suffered significant flooding.

Smoking will kill you… Bacon will kill you… But, smoking bacon will cure it.

I don’t want bacon that has been ill.

My elderly aunties would come and tease me at weddings.
“Well Sarah? Do you think you’ll be next?”
We’ve settled this quickly now I’ve started doing the same to them at funerals.

.

Job interviewer: “And where would you see yourself in five years’ time Mr. Jones?”
“Personally I believe my biggest weakness is in listening.”

On reflection I would look in a mirror.

When I was in my final year as a student I was looking for research opportunities in universities but also explored getting a ‘proper job’ as some people put it. I met the question: “Where would you see yourself in five years’ time” on a job application form for Boots. I agonised over that one for some time before doing what was expected and write a bit of plausible nonsense. Never in my wildest dreams realise that I would make it to retirement without having a proper job.

At my age there’s only ever the present.

Sometimes I think far too many people just live for the present, Beryl 🙂 Not because of age but on a live now pay later philosophy.

Live now pay later is a good way of summarising our unsustainable lifestyle. Future generations will have a big bill for what we are doing to our environment.

You can borrow from tomorrow Malcom but when tomorrow arrives it’s still the present. You can plan for tomorrow, but again, when it arrives it’s still the present. You can’t live in the future and you can’t live in the past because its always NOW. They are just concepts in your mind. NOW is the only existential reality. Some people waste their whole lives living for the future and others spend their lives living in the past. Since neither exist it seems a bit of a waste of the one and only mortal life we have all been given.

I think we’ve been down this road before in the past but, when you think of it, it doesn’t exist anymore.

Except, of course, that planning for the future can often make the new “now” better than it might have been…. Learning from the past makes the current “now” easier to understand and interpret.

True Vynor, as long as you accept that neither the past or future actually exist only as a concept. The past is gone and when you wake up tomorrow it will still be the present. There is no ‘new now’ because it is always current. You could say that time is a concept that enables the never ending now to exist.

My post below appears to show that I appeared to have achieved time travel. HG Wells is more famous but he never did any screen captures.

But then your July Which? magazine was delivered in June………..

More evidence for time travel. I’m thinking about designing a herb dispenser, which I could call a thyme machine.

While Beryl is analytically correct in saying that the past and the future are just concepts in our minds with no existential reality, and that “some people waste their whole lives living for the future and others spend their lives living in the past. Since neither exist it seems a bit of a waste of the one and only mortal life we have all been given”, there is no question that living a life that incorporates aspects of the past and projects to a desired future is satisfying, enjoyable, and can be rewarding in various ways – like having the company of like-minded people. Reminiscence can have educational value and preparation for the future can be beneficial because none of us knows the date of our demise and there is always a future generation to assist. Like all activities, time-travelling taken to extremes can become exclusive, obsessive and anti-social, so best to keep one foot in the present at all times.

You could make a mint.

It’s a truly fascinating topic, John, and one that’s currently being debated by Philosophers and Physicists around the world.

This is an extract from a lengthy article about reality in new Scientist:

“In some senses, it is obvious that subjective experience isn’t the whole story. Humans, unlike bees, don’t normally see ultraviolet light; we can’t sense Earth’s magnetic field, unlike turtles, worms and wolves; are deaf to high and low pitch noises that other animals can hear; and have a relatively weak sense of smell.

“Everybody knows that we don’t see all of reality. I say we see none of it”

On top of this, our brain presents us with only a snapshot. If our senses took in every detail, we would be overwhelmed. Did you notice the last time you blinked, or that fleshy protuberance called your nose that is always in your peripheral vision? No, because your brain edits them out. “A lot of what our senses are doing is something like data compression: simplifying, in order to be able to function,” says Mazviita Chirimuuta at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

In fact, most of what you “see” is an illusion. Our eyes aren’t all-seeing, but capture fleeting glimpses of the outside world between rapid movements called saccades. During these, we are effectively blind because the brain doesn’t process the information that comes in when they happen. If you doubt this, stare into your own eyes in a mirror, then rapidly flick your gaze from one side to the other and back again. Did you see your eyes move?

This is only the start of it. The brain, after all, is sealed in darkness and silence within the solid casing of the skull. It has no direct access to the outside world, and so relies on the information that reaches it via a few electrical cables from our sensory organs. Our eyes pick up information about wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, our ears detect vibrations of air particles and our noses and mouths detect volatile molecules that we experience as smells and flavours. Through complex processes we only partly understand, the brain integrates these independent inputs into a unified conscious awareness.

The question is, how well does this subjective internal picture represent objective reality?

It is a contentious query, much debated by philosophers and physicists. What do we even mean by objective reality? For Donald Hoffman, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, and author of The Case Against Reality, it is “something that exists even if no creature perceives it” (although, ironically, some physicists may beg to differ – see “Do we make reality?”).”

Thank you, Ian. Good stuff from New Scientist, although I think Descartes and Spinoza got there first . . . but then, for part of my life, I inhabit the past.

Fascinating stuff Ian which I can relate to. We only perceive through the 5 senses that which each individual brain interprets.

Working with the mentally ill for many years it became apparent to me very early on, the extent to which their senses are heightened, some to the point where absolute reality becomes an extremely frightening place in which to inhabit, with little or no natural filter mechanisms to lessen the impact on the central nervous system and without appropriate medication suicide is often the only way out.

Each individual brain is unique according to ones genetic and environmental physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of each child from infancy to adulthood. The good news is, as Ians article makes the point, physicists and philosophers are now coming together, exploring theoretically enhanced concepts and, with the aid of electromagnetic scans are able to witness neurological reactions to external stimulus, enabling them to measure the extent of their conscious awareness.

For some the past is not a very happy place to be, which can lead to irrational fears of the future and hinder and impede every day life in the present. Accepting the present moment as it is, is key to living a fulfilling and fruitful life – as it exists on a daily basis, without the impediment of past traumas that no longer exist and worries about what may happen in the future,

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

Abraham Lincoln

A little humour that appeared on my computer screen back in 2012:

Brilliant, I haven’t seen that one before.

All my files transferred from one PC to another have the creation date as the transfer date and the modified date years before that is more likely to be the transfer from camera date.

Tomorrow is the most useful day of the week. I use it quite a lot in my diary.

My computer does the same if set to show this information. I used to send things like this to New Scientist but this one was either not sent or not published.

My ambition is to photograph a sign saying that the stationary department has moved. Tesco came close with a ‘Stationary’ sign in one aisle but that was in the days before I had a camera phone handy, and it had gone when I made my next visit.

I’m sure you can come up with something better, Alfa.

A nearby RAF base is separated from the road by a wooden post and rail barrier to which is nailed an official sign “Ministry of Defence”.

Very good. Keep ’em coming.

Are you still playing catchup with your life John? 🙂

Yes thanks, Beryl. I’ve just eaten my weekly half a grapefruit.

John
Your weekly grapefruit is a very nutritious and healthy addition to your 5 a day. However, coupled with some prescribed medication it could prove detrimental to your long term health. Your GP is the appropriate person to advise on the pros and cons of consuming food that can interact with certain medications. To ascertain the facts please refer to the following website:-
http://www.fda.gov – Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix.

In light of the full facts, the final choice remains yours.

I have been assured that, in the limited quantities that I consume it, my medication will not have any effect on my enjoyment of grapefruit, Beryl, and I continue to take five medicines a day.