Wednesday 19 June 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Constant confusion – when bake day is thrown into total chaos by the appliance of science'

Weight for it: Mary Berry of 'The Great British Bake Off' would never have such problems. Photo: Mark Bourdillon
Weight for it: Mary Berry of 'The Great British Bake Off' would never have such problems. Photo: Mark Bourdillon
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The 2019 redefinition of the SI base units came into effect this week, by setting exact numerical values for the Planck Constant (a discovery by a German physicist based on energy quanta which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918) instead of using the physical paradigm of kilograms which was sealed up in a French basement somewhere - with immediate consequences for my 'bake day'.

You see, my kitchen scales is one of those new-fangled yokes which updates itself by downloading these exact numerical values instead of using the programmed paradigm for the kilogram.

As a result, it downloaded the wrong Max Planck information and blankly refused to give me a measure of anything that wasn't a quantum entity.

Now flour, it seems, is not such an entity, and there I was with not a clue as to weight of said flour in my jug.

After an hour of useless negotiation, I decided to use the scales in the bathroom. I could get a reading and remove the known constant of my own weight from the sum presented. But no. The same thing as the kitchen, except it was stuck in a loop of quantum indeterminacy, waiting, its seems, for some level of atomic decay it could accurately calculate to its own satisfaction.

I wasn't waiting, I had a cake bake to get on with. Bright idea! I'll go down to the local 'speak-your-weight machine'. Bingo!

Apparently the same problem affected this contraption too. I spent three solid hours immersed in a metaphysical debate with this thing about the nature of the mathematical and the material. Eventually it got into a huff, and decided to retain the tangible and return to imperial, which was no good to me, my recipe was in metric.

Not being able to ascertain the exact quantities of a Victoria sponge on a quantum scale I abandoned my bake and took to my bed. Thank you Max Planck, the only constant here is discombobulation.

Malachy Maguire

Clune, Co Kildare

Trump's vindictiveness hurts ordinary Iranians

The current greatest threat in the Middle East, and thus to world peace, is the US administration of President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump is a bully, as is his National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital was a huge mistake and an affront to Palestinians.

Now threatening Iran over its nuclear programme while Israel, the United States and Britain possess nuclear weapons themselves is simply double standards.

The 1979 Iranian revolution was a consequence of US meddling. The former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, narrowly escaped a richly deserved place before a firing squad for his cruel regime of 1941-79, backed by Savak, his vicious secret police.

Britain put the despot criminal on the throne in 1941 for its own interests, not Iran's.

Mr Trump underestimates Iranian resolve. His vindictive sanctions are hurting ordinary Iranians. I make no secret of my support for Iran's government, and hope it prevails in any conflict with the US.

No Iranian warship has ever sailed provocatively off the US coast.

Dominic Shelmerdine

London, UK

Céad míle fáilte to the American president

For those of us whose preference is a reasonably stable and peaceful world, the Donald Trump presidency has, so far, been very reassuring.

Firstly, we had to endure the disastrous neo-con adventurism of George Bush, who naively assumed you could impose democratic regimes in the Middle East. With horrific consequences.

As if the Bush administration was not bad enough, the succeeding Obama-Clinton double act compounded matters - particularly Hillary Clinton's reckless adventurism in Libya, resulting in a refugee crisis for which Europe is still paying the price.

Clinton's diplomatically insensitive comment in relation to Colonel Gaddafi - "We came, we saw, he died" - must surely rank among the grossest remarks of any US secretary of state.

Fast forward to President Trump, who has, by and large, lived up to his promise that "America cannot act as the world's policeman".

Since the president's election, by and large, the world is a safer place. There are still many dangerous and volatile regimes out there but so far, so good.

From this perspective, all peace-loving people of goodwill will surely wish the president a céad míle fáilte on his forthcoming visit to Ireland.

Eric Conway

Navan, Co Meath

No happy ending to our housing situation

I'm very lucky not to be part of the young house-hunting generation.

A Georgian building in Limerick is being converted to accommodate eight people, sharing a kitchen and living room (Irish Independent, May 22).

These units are for rent, not for purchase, and sharing with seven others. Seven bowls, seven plates, seven spoons, seven cups - really a seven dwarfs' life. But what happens if each dwarf has a partner? Fourteen bowls, plates, spoons, cups - and these dwarfs don't know each other. The outlook for young people here is truly shocking, and no, there isn't a market for this kind of communal living, not for a squashed kitchen arrangement.

On the same page in the Irish Independent, the local council is examining a proposal to buy 43 apartments for an average of €491,503 per unit in Sandyford for social housing.

Where is the happy ending for our young people?

Margaret Docherty

Terenure, Dublin 6

How Mog helped bring down the far right

It is heartbreaking to hear that Judith Kerr has finally died at 95.

She wrote 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' and the semi-autobiographical 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit' trilogy, but it was the iconic ditzy Mog - every domestic cat that ever was - which started my and many other children's lifelong affinity with the world's purr monsters.

Ironically, she received an unexpected sales boost during the 1983 general election in the UK when she received accidental product placement in the last ever party political broadcast by - of all parties - the National Front.

Television viewers howled with laughter as a walrus-moustached bemedalled Colonel Blimp grew increasingly beetroot-faced as he ranted that he had not been shot and shelled in two World Wars so immigrants and "subversives" could take over - followed by a scrawny droning Brummie mummy with a child on her lap holding 'Mog the Forgetful Cat'.

Come election day, the National Front, as ever, failed to save a single deposit - but sales of 'Mog' meanwhile had gone through the roof.

A Holocaust refugee benefited at a party of Holocaust deniers' expense - who said Yahweh hasn't a sense of humour?

Now Ms Kerr has finally joined Mog, whom she killed off in 2002, in the Elysian Fields but shared a TV encore in a hilarious supermarket Christmas advert only two years ago as Mog demolished a kitchen faster than an army of Inspector Clouseaus and Frank Spencers ever could.

Her books and pictures will be delighting future generations long after we've joined them.

Mark Boyle

Renfrewshire, Scotland

Gee whizz! Breggsit should have X factor

Like most people, I am tired of the whole Breggsit saga.

After a break for the Easter holidays, during which we have been spared round-the-clock Breggsit coverage, it is ramping up again.

Breggsit, I hear you ask? Well, according to our national broadcaster, that's how it is pronounced.

Whatever about the rest of us, surely RTÉ newsreaders and reporters should pronounce Brexit properly, that is, with an X rather than two Gs.

However, this is unlikely to happen as, according to a response to a letter to RTÉ asking that it be pronounced with an X, a senior RTÉ manager replied to say that, and I quote, "Breggsit is exactly how it is pronounced".

Paul Kennedy

Dublin 5

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss