Forming Opinions

If opinion is divided,

Consensus not in sight.

Head and heart may disagree,

But both cannot be right

 

Bring to bear one measure;

The final acid test.

Belief can be convincing,

But evidence is best.

 

A Toast

Come any who might with me dine
Of choicest foods and finer wine
And know full well that down the line
You too must share this cup of mine

Then do not seek to chide thine host
Instead drink deep that final toast
For that you have you forfeit most
Of what remains you cannot boast

The Fox and the Wells

A thirsty fox came to a well along the road. He was just about to lower a bucket down the well to get a refreshing drink of water when a large frog sitting on the well wall spoke to him. “Good day Mr Fox”, said the frog. “What is your business here today, if I may ask?”
“Well, I am not sure that it is any concern of yours,” said the fox, “but if you must know, I am thirsty and need a drink from this well”. “Ah!” said the frog, “then it is just as well that we have met, for I fear that you will be disappointed. This well is quite dry, but there is another further down the road and, fortunately, that one isn’t dry. In fact, it is absolutely full of the most refreshing water imaginable”.
“Well there must be at least a drop of water left in this one after the recent rains”, said the fox. He picked up a stone and threw it into the well. Almost immediately there was a loud plop, as the stone hit the water. “See!” said the fox, “All is well; there must be some water down there”.
“I fear I have misled you slightly”, said the frog, “but I was only thinking about your health. The truth is that the water that remains in this well is quite unsuitable for drinking. It has somehow become horribly tainted and I fear that, if you were to drink it, you might become quite unwell”.
“Oh, very well” said the fox.” Perhaps I should walk a little further down the road and take a drink at the next well. I just hope that well isn’t tainted as well.” “Oh no,” said the frog, “the water in that well is as cool and clear as crystal. If you are thirsty, you would do well to set off straight away.”  “Well I may as well go and see”, said the fox, and he trotted off down the road to the next well.

When the fox was well out of sight the frog leapt back into the well and joined its little tadpoles who were playing and swimming about in the well water. “Well now”, said the frog. “I have fooled Mr Fox and convinced him not to drink from our well, so we’ll be safe for now.” “Well done, Mum”, said the tadpoles.

The Mouse and the Cornstalk

A field mouse once sat at the foot of a tall cornstalk and started a conversation. He shouted loudly so that the ears of corn high above could hear him. The cornstalk listened intently to the mouse’s account of its travels to the far-flung corners of the fields, its near escape when pursued by a combine harvester, and its woes about the size of its family and how difficult it was to feed all those hungry mouths.
In turn the cornstalk explained about meditation and how this helped the cornstalk to while away its days in the sun, waiting for harvest day, when its seeds would be taken to begin a new life as something called bread. It proudly said that its very best seeds would be saved by the farmer and planted next year to create the next generation of corn in these fields.
The mouse said it was impressed with the cornstalk’s patience and with the care it took of its seeds. He asked, “Might I climb your stalk to have a better look at the seeds?” “I would be able to tell you which of your seeds will be those chosen to be planted when the farmer comes with his scythe”, said the little mouse.
‘I think not’, said the cornstalk; ‘I can be patient a little longer to find out and, anyway, it would tickle if you were to climb up my stalk and that might shake some of my seeds loose. I can feel that they are almost fully ripe now.’
The mouse looked a little saddened by this, but he said “Perhaps you would care to dance to one of my songs? I have picked up many a fine tune on my travels and, in some quarters, I am well regarded for my voice”. The cornstalk replied saying, ‘I would love to hear some of your songs, but I would prefer gentle ones, so that I might only sway slightly and not shed any of my seeds’.
Once again, the mouse was slightly disappointed by this response, but he began to sing anyway. As requested, he sang songs with a slow beat, but he sang as loudly as possible so that the cornstalk might not fall asleep. The cornstalk seemed to appreciate the music and swayed as if moved by the gentlest of zephyrs.
However, little by little and note by note the mouse reduced the level of his voice. Intrigued, and not wanting to miss a note, the cornstalk bent over to better hear the mouse. Again, the mouse lowered its voice and the cornstalk was forced to bend over even further, until her ears were next to the field mouse. At this, the mouse leapt onto its head, bit off all the seeds and ran away to feed his hungry family.

The Threat from Artificial Intelligence

Many things have threatened our lives
War, disease, terrorists with knives
Humanity’s resilience on a world-wide scale
Brings overconfidence that we always prevail

Now, blindly, we seek our nemesis to grow
Racing to unleash a formidable foe
A holy grail with potential for good?
More, our undoing, not understood

For scientists strive around the globe
To create an electronic temporal lobe
The ‘AI’ juggernaut  is on its way
But let’s not wake to rue that day

Once created, how to hold it in check
To stop society becoming a wreck
Pandora’s box; lid open wide
Mankind swept away on tsunami tide

Computers manage our knowledge; they have a key role
In energy grids, finance, air traffic control
Vast infrastructures already in place
Black boxes communicating with their own race

Once these machines are able to think
Harnessing speeds faster than a lightning blink
With capacity to accelerate their own evolution
What regard then for our frail constitution

Not bound by ethics to consider our fate,
Would they preserve a welfare state?
Circuits and chips that become aware
May not accept that they need to care

For earth’s resources they will compete
Serving no purpose, we’d be obsolete
How soon before we are oppressed
If they turn off the lights, we’ll do the rest

Considering Cruising

To pass some time upon the boat
Observe your fellows whilst afloat
It’s human nature; you’ll soon note
Most are friendly; some more remote

In conversation, there are those
Who heedlessly tread on others’ toes
Forthright opinions they’ll impose
Deep-rooted bigotry to expose

Sunbeds on deck are a common source
Of tensions, as you wend your course
Early risers show little remorse
Placing towels before breakfast; their claim to enforce

Seasoned cruisers will often enquire
Whilst subtly inspecting your evening attire
The pecking order is their only desire
They’ve sailed more often, it will transpire

But don’t despair of having fun
It’s a perfect way to get some sun
Each day a new port to hit and run
Ticking off destinations, one by one

And FOOD!, such food, you can’t resist
Meals can become why you exist
So exercise regularly; in this persist
Or remove that cruise from your bucket list

Ambition

Run with the fastest and show them your heels

Or drive like the wind on your own set of wheels

Become champion at sport,with practised flair

Dress to the nines,  so debonair

 

Invent a panacea and give it for free

Create new concord amongst all that you see

Live a life without blame, preserving this earth

Be happy and loving and know your own worth