Wednesday, 26 November 2014

THE IMITATION GAME

Alan Mathison Turing:
23 June 1912 - 7 June 1954
Mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, philosopher and hero
Hut 8


Mr. P.J. Evans wrote a BLOG piece 'The Imitation Game: Fact and Fiction'.  And I love what he has to say and in lots of ways feel that I haven't got anything to say, as he has said it all for me.  It really is well worth a read.



The Imitation Game is a film made in 2014 about the World of the 1940s.  This was a very different World.   A World that we can hardly understand today. This was a World without Computers, a world where if a girl was 25 and unmarried there was serious concern. They were 'left on the shelf'.  The Horror.  The Shame.  I am 41 and am unmarried. I am convinced Papa would sell me on eBay if only he knew how to access eBay.  Although I am getting a little worried as he can now text without sticking his tongue out. This is technological progress.



Keira KNIGHTLY is beautifully cast as Joan CLARKE and her warmth and frank intelligence shines as a woman inhabiting a man's world, and you see why Alan TURING obviously respected her intelligence.   The role of Joan CLARKE is perhaps glorified and exaggerated to make more of a role for Keira KNIGHTLEY.  But, it is a film, it is a story, it is as many people have said a 'film' not a 'documentary'.  It doesn't claim to be the 'real' and 'definitive' story.  It aims to entertain, and it does.  It entertains and it educates.  It is a story based upon facts, and if you want to know the real story, read the books and go to Bletchley Park. Please Please Please visit Bletchley Park.



Dr. Sue BLACK was instrumental in 2008 in setting up a website and starting a campaign to save Bletchley Park, trying to raise public awareness of Bletchley Park and the importance of the role of the people who worked there:


Dr. Black was also instrumental in the campaign to put Alan Turing on the back of the £10 Bank Note, which became a e-petition:


Yes, the film was an oversimplification of events.   In reality more than ten thousand people worked at Bletchley Park, more than eight thousand of them were women. The Bombe prototype is fondly referred to as 'Christopher' in the film, a reference to 'Christopher MORCOMB' Turing's School friend at Sherborne, who like Turing excelled at Maths and Science. They were 16 when they met.  Christopher suddenly and tragically died two years later on Valentine's Day 1930 from complications of bovine tuberculosis contracted after drinking infected cow's milk some years previously.  Turing didn't build the Bombe himself and didn't refer to it as Christopher; but this is a story.


This is not only a World where a single girl of 25 is a concern; and cannot become a fellow of Cambridge University because she is female; this is a wicked, judgemental and intolerant World, a World where it was illegal to be Homosexual.  The persecution of Alan TURING for being gay and his subsequent 'Chemical Castration' really is unspeakably shameful.  That a society so lacked understanding is unbelievable and is embarrassing.  That this punishment was in any way considered fair and just is unthinkable.  In a Society today, which is, thankfully more educated, and more tolerant it is just sickening and shaming to look back upon.  Political Changes have thankfully been brought about ensuring that Society is more tolerant and follows more robust principles of equality.


We cannot change the past.  We can only learn from it.  Gordon Brown as Prime Minister may well have apologised and pardoned Alan TURING but I agree with Mr. P.J. EVANS that until everyone so barbarically treated receives an apology the matter is not closed.


I think that an apology is somehow not enough.  Alan TURING did break the law of the land, regardless of the fact that it is shameful that such a law ever existed, and he was punished. But the punishment was unthinkable and inexcusable and marks a very sad period in our history and evolution.  It is Society who should be begging for a pardon from Alan TURING for subjecting him to such a barbaric and heinous punishment. 

A celebration of the life of Alan TURING is certainly not before time.  Benedict CUMBERBATCH is, and I am biased, as I think he is splendid; but he is SPLENDID. Simply Splendid. He really is as Alan TURING was, or as I like to think he was; a little bit different, a little bit clever, a little bit impatient, a little bit at odds with the world around him, an 'odd duck' as his mother used to refer to him so we are told.  Alan TURING was an outsider that didn't fit in and somehow doesn't belong.  Benedict CUMBERBATCH does somehow capture the essence of what I believe, or what I want to believe Alan Turing was like.  Yes, there is something of the cliché about him, the 'absent minded Professor' but having worked in Higher Education Institutions and not wishing to be rude, but, there are some qualities that are almost expected intrinsic qualities of academic personalities.  Academics who are completely oblivious to the fact that they are wearing their shirt inside out and, with a childlike-innocence are completely unaware that to other this may be regarded an unusual behaviour.


Personally I adore absurdity; I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  Intelligence and absurdity. 
 
Alan TURING wasn't a superhero but he did, with the help of many other exceptional characters achieve the unachievable and break the unbreakable.  He should be celebrated, my goodness he should be celebrated and I have not even mentioned the work he did to establish Computer Science; and his Mathematical Papers 'Computing Machinery & Intelligence' which considered the question can machines think, the devised the Turing Test, or 'The Imitation Game' from which the film takes its name, all of which slightly confuses me if I am brutally honest.
 

As the quote that runs throughout the film promotes:
"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."

Friday, 21 November 2014

VW BUG

I loved my car.  My VW Beetle.  My Bug.  My Platinum Grey Bug.
I say 'loved', I speak in the past tense, as the other week I was forced to sell her.  I say 'her' as I had named her.  I named her 'Scout'.  I named her after the narrator in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.  I had to sell her as I hadn't driven her.  I hadn't driven her in the last c. six months due to my poor balance and poor spatial awareness, which are only getting worse.  My poor balance and my poor spatial awareness due to my MS.
The DVLA returned my driving licence the other week, I'd had to send it off to be reviewed (my licence is only issued for a fixed period of three years), and after about three months I had it returned and renewed for another three years.  So technically I am legal and road worthy.  I had a driving test about a year ago at work to enable me to drive the fleet vehicles, and I passed that and they didn't raise any concerns about my ability to drive.  But, so much has happened in a year, and I know in my heart of hearts that although I have my licence that I am at an increased risk of having an accident and this is a risk that I cannot take.
The decision to sell my car, to sell 'Scout' however was not a decision that I took lightly; and was not a decision that I wanted to make at all.  I didn't want to sell her.  I really didn't want to sell her.  It broke my heart; it really honestly, absolutely broke my heart.  To watch someone drive away in Scout, knowing that she was no longer mine and wasn't coming back, was utterly utterly heart-breaking. and Yes, I did I sobbed.  I sobbed for about three days.  I have tears welling now just thinking about it.  It seems so fucking unfair.
But, as much as I loved the car, it isn't so much the car, as the car is an inanimate object, but it is everything that she represented.  My Freedom.  My Independence.  They are gone.  So, now as well as 'mourning' the loss of my health, I am 'mourning' the loss of 'Scout; and am 'mourning' the loss of the Freedom and the loss of my Independence that Scout afforded me.
And we had some adventures.  Blimey did we have some adventures.  Up to Newcastle.  Over to Wales.  Down to Southampton.  Up to Liverpool.  Up and down the Country.  We went to visit a friend in AMAZINGstoke.  We went to Oxford.  We went to Cambridge.  We navigated Milton Keynes.  And even with my TERRIBLE sense of direction and inability to Map Read and No SatNav; we still always managed to navigate our way wherever we were going.  Adventures aplenty.
I did, I loved my car and I hope that she brings as much joy and as much pleasure to her new owner that she bought to me.  She enriched my life immeasurably and I will always look back on happy memories of owning my bug.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

LONELY

There is a simply wonderful quote by Paul TILLICH:
"Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone."
And that seems to sum it up rather neatly really. I hate the loneliness of being alone. It is hateful. An awful feeling. The longing for company. For affection. For chat. For love. For conversation. For ... For ... Something ... Rather than nothing, rather than the nothingness, the silence of loneliness. When you yearn for someone else to share the nothingness with you. Someone to be there. The physical presence of someone. Or even something. The Cat. The Dog.
But then, yes, the glory, the absolute glory, the absolute joy of solitude. The luxury of time spent alone in your own space, with your own company and your own thoughts. I love, I do absolutely love sitting and organising my thoughts. Perhaps with a cup of tea and a biscuit. How heavenly?
And I have become very adept at hiding my lonely. I can appear happy and cheerful and independent and the least lonely person on the planet. And I'm not lonely. I revel in the glory of solitude and appreciate that I can enjoy that time alone; really enjoy time to think and think and over-think. And to get lost in my thoughts and ideas. But then when I have ordered them and organised them, I want to share them and that is when I feel lonely.
I have got Albion, my cat, and she is marvellous. She listens intently and offers affection, but she never seems particularly interested and never offers an opinion. Never either agrees not disagrees.
And I have some of the most tremendous friends that as girl could ever even hope to have. And I know that they would hate to think that I feel so wretched. They will ask what they can do to help. And that is the thing. There isn't anything that they can do. I know that I am loved, and that is a tremendous help. But I still have that empty feeling of being alone.
They say it is better to be alone than to be with someone and still feel alone. And I am sure that that is absolutely true. I think it was Marilyn Monroe who said, "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone."
So perhaps that it the thing. The thing that loneliness relates so closely to unhappiness. Perhaps that empty feeling of feeling lonely is actually unhappiness manifesting itself in another form? 
And loneliness is one hell of an epidemic.  Anne Hathaway said; "Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I'm most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me."
But you are never alone with books and ideas and tea. I can amuse myself for days ... But then I realise that perhaps it would be nice to share it all. Sometimes I do think that. That it would be nice to share ideas and thoughts and dreams ... To share all of that with someone who would like to share. 
I mean even Pooh Bear, the intellect and philosopher, Pooh Bear or was it Piglet who exclaimed that; "it is so much friendlier with two." And I am sure that it is.

And it sounds miserable. And it is ... And yet ... And yet ... It isn't ... It really isn't ..  It isn't at all ... It is marvellous ... Simply marvellous. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

HAPPY2

Well I have just completed the 100 Happy Days Challenge.  This is an initiative of the Random Acts of Kindness (#RAK) Foundation.  It has been great fun.  It really has been great fun.
We are reminded that, "We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in.  The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it is the base for the bridge towards long-term happiness of any human being.  We need to be reminded to take joy and take pleasure from the small things.  And in doing so, we may discover that these things are not so small after all.  These are in fact the big things."
So, "The idea is simple.  The idea is to every day submit a picture of what made you happy!"
A snap-shot, of a moment, that captures; that truly captures the 'happy'.
You are reminded that "It is important to remember that the #100happyday challenge is for you - not for anyone else".  It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest.  If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures - you lose without even starting.  Same goes for cheating."  It is important to remember that happiness is not a competition.  Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
This reminds me of the quote by Henry David Thoreau, (the American author, poet, philosopher, historian, and leading various other things) which was on a card sent to me by a dear friend, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder...”

Visitwww.100happydays.com/foundationfor more information. 
Apparently, "71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason". These people simply did not have time to be happy.  How can you not have time to be happy?  Surely you are doing something wrong if you can't find the time; make the time, to be happy.  
So, you take a photo of something that has made you happy.  "It can be anything from a meet-up with a friend to a very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place, from a feeling of being at home after a hard day to a favor you did to a stranger."  Your favourite beer; or favourite fabric softner on special offer at the SuperMarket.  A cuddle with the cat, or watching your favourite TV Show or a piece of music played on the radio; a photo that captures and represents that moment.
I have enjoyed it.  I have really enjoyed it.  I have enjoyed the discipline and challenge of taking a daily photo.  I do already want to do it again.  I am sure that at some point I will do it again.

Friday, 24 October 2014

SILENCE MS


Yes!  I am going to Shut Up.  Well I am going to shut up for 48 hours at least (on 20-22 November, 2014).  Well, I am going to try.  I am going to try and shut-up, be quiet, stay silent.  I am not denying it is going to be rather a big challenge.  It is going to be a huge challenge. It is going to be a massive challenge.  Quite a big ask; as yes, I do rather like a chat.  I am rather a chatterer.  In fact, I don't really very often shut up.  But, I am going to give it a go.  I am up for the challenge.  Well-Done me.




MS is a silent and often isolating disease.  We at 'Shift.ms' and I say 'we' as I am delighted to be included as one of the team, as I run the 'BLOG Post of the Week' feature on the Shift.ms Social Media sites.  Shift.ms are hoping to 'break the silence' by staying silent in order to raise funds. Raise fund and raise awareness.




So, I am going to be silent for 48 hours for Shift.ms because MS Awareness needs a voice and needs to be heard.  And I can really think of no better reason than that.


You can find out more information at the following address: http://silence.ms/

At that address you can find out more and you can sign up to take part yourself.  Are you up for the challenge?








Thank You for your support.  Thank You for reading this.  Thank You for your sponsorship.  Thank You very much indeed.  It really is very much appreciated.  My Just Giving Page is at the following address:
https://www.justgiving.com/Hanya-Gordon


Thank You x

Friday, 26 September 2014

RELAXATION

It is argued that relaxation is one of the most effective self-help strategies for a healthy body and healthy mind.  It can help to prevent the development of stress and anxiety and depression, and can help you sleep.

Relaxation exercises and techniques are used to combat the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, to relax the body and clear the mind - that sounds ACE.  I thought that I would give it a go.

Of course any exercises or guided relaxation won't magically make the cause of your anxiety disappear; but what they can and will do is provide you with the necessary skills so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever is/was that was/is once the source of your anxiety; and it will do this by releasing you of any fear or tension that you may feel, and by clearing your thoughts. Right, OK. I'm ready to give that a go.

Most relaxation techniques combine breathing more deeply, and combine this with relaxing the muscles.  As with most things, this is learnt behavior. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned, and it will come with practice and become easier.  Both Yoga and Tai Chi (see previous TAI CHI BLOG) have been found to be good forms of exercise that help to improve posture and breathing and relaxation.

Awareness of ourselves and the world around us – is now often called, or is referred to as 'mindfulness' – and it is felt participating in 'mindfulness' and practicing 'mindfulness' that this can improve our mental wellbeing.  Mindfulness is advocated by the Mental Health Foundation.  Mindfulness therefore is a "mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences." 

This is sometimes referred to as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  "Mindfulness training helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we're better able to manage them."  Mindfulness is felt to be a valuable tool in restoring people's quality of life: "Mindfulness therefore is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety."

Research has found; and there is growing evidence that 'Mindfulness' can help with: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Chronic Pain 
  • Chronic Fatigue Symptom
  • Insomnia 

All of these are symptoms that can be experienced with MS.

It is important to remember that relaxation or meditation or mindfulness won't make the cause of the anxiety disappear, it won't alleviate the source of your anxiety; what it will do is it will equip you so that you will probably feel more able to deal with whatever it was that was causing your stress.  Surely that has got to be a good thing?

While Mindfulness can be practiced quite well without Buddhism, Buddhism cannot be practiced without Mindfulness.  In its Buddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes: 'knowing the mind'; 'training the mind'; and 'freeing the mind'.

Relaxation and Meditation and Mindfulness are each concerned with developing techniques that enable us to live in the 'here' and 'now'.  They are about living in the present, about learning to live in the present.  About enjoying the moment.  About enjoying this moment.  I have slowing been trying to re-educate myself, to ensure that I live in the present.  This isn't easy.  This is not an easy thing to learn.  But, I am learning.

I love Audrey Hepburn, I adore Audrey Hepburn, everything about Audrey.  Her grace and her beauty, obviously; but she radiated other qualities of kindness and goodness.  She was kind and thoughtful in her actions, she took time and was appreciative of the good things that she had in her life.  She knew hardship and sorrow and heart-break, but she appeared to deal with everything effortlessly with style and grace.  She appeared to know the importance of living in the moment and taking pleasure from the simple things in life.  This is something that I have always admired tremendously.  Therefore an approach that I have taken to life is: 'What would Audrey do?'  That is my mantra in trying to be a better person.  What would Audrey do?