Friday, October 23, 2009

URT needs YOU tell us what to review. That's right, our next URT podcast is going to be an ALL-REQUESTS special. James has rather foolhardily declared that we will review whatever our listeners ask us to, and so I guess we are honour-bound to do so. So if there is something which you particularly desire to hear us hold forth on for 10 minutes or so from a position of very probably absolute ignorance, just let us know! You can put your suggestions in as comments here on the blog, or via twitter (We are at @urtheory).

Looking forward to your suggestions! (And by looking forward to' I really do mean 'worried and slightly terrified by)...

Saturday, October 17, 2009


(Biscuits. Or are they?)


Choco-Leibniz is a chocolate biscuit, which bears the slogan 'More chocolate than a biscuit', which I find rather confusing. It reads like a slogan translated from another language (presumably German) to English, by someone with an imperfect grasp of one or both languages. One way of interpreting the claim is that it means:
"More chocolate than a[nother] biscuit"
... i.e. that Choco-Lebinz offers a more generous proportion of chocolate-to-biscuit than lesser alternatives such as the humble McVities digestive or Hob-Nob, and such a claim is certainly true. Another interpretation offers an even bolder proposal; it is arguable that the slogan means to imply that Choco-Leibniz is:
"More [a] chocolate than a biscuit"
... i.e. that the aforementioned chocolate: biscuit ratio is indeed so prodigious that technically the product must be classified as chocolate, rather than biscuit. But that's just silly, it's clearly a biscuit. It's on the biscuit shelf in the shop, and everything.

The clue to solving this apparently intractable riddle perhaps lies in the biscuit/chocolate's name, so we must look to the works of celebrated 17th-century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for an explanation. In his 1685 Discourse On Metaphysics Leibniz introduced his famed 'predicate-in-notion' principle, which claims that every single predicate of a true contingent proposition is contained within the terms of that proposition. If we apply this to the proposition "[Choco-Leibniz is] More Chocolate than a Biscuit", we can see that the predicate 'chocolatiness' is indeed contained within the notion of 'biscuitiness' - that is, that the idea of a biscuit logically contains the possibility of a certain degree of chocolatiness. And yet there is a contradiction, precisely because of the claim that the chocolatiness of Choco-Leibniz is higher than the degree of chocolatiness permitted by the concept of 'biscuit'. Paradox inevitably ensues.

Clearly the makers of Choco-Leibniz are on very shaky metaphysical territory. Perhaps they would have been better advised to seek inspiration for their slogan in another of Leibniz's theories, the idea that the world as it exists is, despite the existence of imperfections, suffering and evil, the optimal of all possible worlds that God could have created. Thus we get:

"Choco-Leibniz: The Best of All Possible Biscuits"

Which, actually, it pretty much is. They're very chocolatey you know.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Having an Infected Cyst

(Condition/Journey into the Heart of Awfulness)

JAMES says:

You can probably guess that this is not going to be a glowing review. Or pleasant. Also, as no one could choose to experience having an infected cyst it will be of no use to anyone. Well, I had to suffer so why shouldn’t you?

There are a number of things that are undesirable about having an infected cyst. I will now list them:

1. The pain. The absolute burning constant unrelievable pain. Now, belonging to the gender I do it is normal for me to shun painkillers, preferring instead to complain to my wife as relief (mine, not hers). I am currently at maximum suggested dosage of both Ibroprofen and Paracetomol Extra, and am a long way past the pain peak.

2. The lack of sleep. In my case the cyst was on the back of my neck, meaning there was only one position I could lie in that was not agony. Unfortunately this involved my arm being in a very unnatural position and meant that very soon after reaching unconsciousness I would attempt to adjust my position, roll over and very suddenly and unpleasantly no longer be asleep.

3. The sore back. Having to hold my head in an unnaturally crooked position led to, along with mocking from my wife, a very sore back. Attempts to relieve this with a warm bath were not terribly successful as I had to perch awkwardly half out of the water to avoid my dressing getting wet.

4. The squeezing. When you visit a member of the medical profession, they need to remove as much icky stuff as possible. This is done by squeezing. Imagine a part of your body that is so sore that you wince if someone even touches it. Now imagine someone placing that body part between their thumb and forefinger, and applying as much pressure as they can. Repeatedly. Whilst you have to make conversation with them.

5. The lack of sympathy. Due to my aforementioned constantly tilted head I had many concerned enquiries about my neck. When I informed them of the state of affairs (I tried lying and saying that I had been stabbed in the neck during a bar fight but it didn’t fly), the concerned look would be replaced by one of disgust. It is unfair but despite the relative amounts of suffering involved, start mentioning pus and people just don’t want to know.

6. And they are were right. It’s horrible. Now the inflamed, painful stage has past it has settled on constantly producing a sticky and smelly goo, which I have to dispose of discretely.

7. The pain, again. It really was very bad.

The positives are:

1. It makes you appreciate not having an infected cyst.

2. Umm...

So, in summary, don’t get an infected cyst. And feel sorry for me.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

URT Podcast, Episode 4: Sleepytime!

In this very special episode of the Unified Review Theory podcast we review various subjects related to the subject of Sleep with the intention of providing suitable sleepytime listening for the toddlers in our audience, but unfortunately do so in an expletive-filled manner filled with SUDDEN LOUD NOISES.

Join us for a vigorous and wildly incoherent discussion that takes in such subjects as Flying Hippy Yoga Monkeys, Sleep Deprivation as an Easy and Cost-Effective Form of Torture, and the Amazing Phenomenom of Unihemispheric Slow-Wave Sleep Which James is Totally Bored By.

This episode features special rubbish clicky-fuzzy sound quality to simulate the feeling of being semi-conscious while listening!

(We promise to do better next time. Honestly.)

Download MP3
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