March 4, 2021

Episode 4 - The one where we prove that Time exists, that Hogwarts should be shut down and that people should be more careful in their choice of wedding ballads

This week's episode looks at the nature of time, whether the past and future are as real as the present, can it be changed  and why does Foreigner want it to 'Feel like the First Time.' This episode is grudgingly sponsored by a racist breakfast cereal and in Literally the Last Section we see how  broom flying at Hogwarts fits into the 2016 Civil Aviation Air Navigation Order.


Episode 4


Welcome to Frenzied and Sustained.



In this week’s podcast for a post stupid society we make time for Time and wonder why the laws of physics don’t really care in which direction it flows. In our songs under the microscope we examine stalking enthusiast Sting’s song every breath you take and discover that it is much more sinister than a respiratory survey. We have a nautical hat of the week  and a sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce we are going to set off an olfactory explosion with our Tamarind Infusion.


In literally the last section we are horrified at the educational and safety standards at Hogwarts school.


You are listening to frenzied and sustained and I  am Ian Spector and this is a 


Brainy Lecture


If you do a google search of time it appears that there is a raging debate as to whether time actually exists at all. 


A look at some articles in the leading scientific journals gave us

Nature “The Illusion of time”

New Scientist “is time an illusion”   (miss, miss…….

Scientific American “Is time an illusion” (hey, no copying, Scientific American keep your eyes on your own work)

Space “The illusion of time”

And the Daily Star’ led with    Benidumb, Gran Wins Payout as ‘there’s too many Spaniards in Spain’.


Not quite sure what that is doing in there.


Time is not an illusion.


I refer you to the seminal temporal research from Mick jagger where he quite clearly concludes that time is actually on his side. So we now know that it exists and where it can be found.


So we can 


  • Pass time
  • waste time
  • measure time
  • keep time
  • serve time
  • be on time
  • be out of time
  • do it to me one more time
  • Have time go by
  • Do it Time after time
  • Have the Time of my life
  • comment on how The times they are a changin'
  • and it have it feel like the first time


The problem is that we are asking the wrong question. We have devised a method of measuring the flow of events and we can measure the difference in the between two events. So it does exist. But, what is time? Is there a universal time for the universe, does time always travel at the same speed and  in one direction, is time an inherent physical feature of the universe.


Let’s try and address some of these questions.


Is there a universal time for the universe. If you have been with this podcast since the beginning then this will not be that hard to answer. We have seen that time is distorted by speed and by mass. Thus every particle, person or planet has its own time clock. And the impacts of these distortions in time are not that hard to reproduce. The often quoted fact is that the GPS satellites circling the earth need to account for relativistic distortions as otherwise GPS units on earth would be inaccurate by 11Km within a day. Fine, but is that necessarily a bad thing?  If you set your GPS to Wormwood Scrubbs Prison in London and were out out by 11km you would arrive in Buckingham Palace, the welcome would be cooler but the towels softer. Trying to get to Billingsgate Fish Market? an 11Km error would instead have you passing a most enjoyable afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery.


We cannot even agree with the order of things into the past present and future.  The image of Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread may be in Javert’s past, but to someone a billion light years away, that most vile crimes is still in their future. Either way, the West End Stage production Les Miserables will still be running. The concept of future and past needs to be expressed in terms of one’s personal future and one’s personal past. Let’s be very clear, one person’s future could be another persons past.


Most physicists will probably say that the universe is a box universe where the past, present and the future is all determined. Thus the universe is like a 4k BluRay disc. You could look at one frame and call it now or you can let it play and watch the storylines play out. The time indicator is the equivalent of time flowing.The frames you have seen is history and the frames not yet to be seen are the future. But the whole BluRay is there for you to hold. This block universe is also called the view from nowhen. You need to be outside the block universe to view it, or in a frame of reference outside out space time coordinates.  In this model, Physics will treat the past, present and future with equal respect..


Of course the challenge for this view is in the world of the very small, the quantum field. Here we saw that the position and properties of quantum particles are inherently unknowable. There is another problem and that relates to a singularity at the big bang. If all the universe was compressed into a space infinitely small how could all the information to create a predetermined future be contained within that space; how are positions or behaviours that are described by irrational numbers represented if their digits after the decimal point is infinite?


It is true that the laws of physics do not seem to care which way time flows, the models seem to work just as well going backwards as well as forwards, but the exception is a huge one. The second law of thermodynamics has the universe increasing in entropy never decreasing.


And it is convenient to say that time is just another dimension. But whereas I can choose to travel in any direction in 3 dimensional space, I can only move in one direction through time. We are prisoners of the present. This is the arrow of time, we can warp it, slow it but we cannot change its direction. It flows in the direction of entropy, from ordered to chaotic. Distant locations may be a long way off but I can understand that they exist. Time is different from this. The past is not real and the future is not real.


We have a different relationship with the past than with the future as human beings. We can see records of the past, we can have memories of the past, we can find evidence of the past in a way in which we can’t with the future.


Of course you can specify a future event by giving them coordinates, including that of time e.g. Grimsby next Sunday at 0830. So even though the laws of physics can predict what will happen next that is not the same as the universe  still existing in the past. 


This is where the strands of our podcast come together. We know that the universe is inherently local. If I want to affect something else in the universe I either have to go there or send something there. My own personal clock and my own personal locality prevents me from affecting things in the past or things that are not local to me. If I wanted to send a message to someone in part of the galaxy that was moving away from me faster than the speed of light I am all out of luck. 


So the future is an array of possibilities for objects that are local to me in my future and my past was things that I affected within my locality in the past. The past has gone and if I did not send a photon out into space yesterday then that opportunity has gone. I may send the photon out tomorrow or I may not. The past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. We are all riding the crest of the wave of nows. Our memories are chemical representation of what we think happened, but we have no way of knowing that we did not just appear in the universe five minutes ago with those memories. We just have our local heres and our local nows.


And finally some proof that time exists. And I will do it by asking you to imagine that time stops in the whole universe. We would never know. Our brains would stop, our clocks would stop, photons, protons and quarks would stop. There could be no light or matter of existence. As we can observe things changing and we can observe our clocks running we know that time exists and is still flowing. At least they were when I recorded this.



And now it’s Hat of the Week - The Boater


Straw boaters are most typically made from a type of stiff flat straw referred to as sennit. This can be any type of flat and naturally coloured straw, and it’s typically plaited oat angles to construct a boater.

The finished boater will be slightly elliptical in shape, and will also have a flat brim and a flat crown (also known as a telescope crown). A boater will most typically feature a solid or striped ribbon that runs around the crown.



The boater is also known by a wide variety of other names including the basher, the skimmer, and the sennit hat, among others.


By the 1880s the boater was a popular summer formal hat, as well as for its obvious use for boating and sailing activities.


Straw Hat Day was the day when men switched from their felt hats to their straw hats, seen as the beginning of summer. Of course, the exact date of straw hat day could vary from place to place. As you might have guessed, its cold weather counterpart would be Felt Hat Day, which usually occurred in September or October in most locations. In some cities, groups of rambunctious young men would seize and destroy any straw hat that was worn after Felt Hat Day.


Within this  section hat of the week we have a sub section that we call 19th century French impressionist Boater paintings.



The straw boater soon became the symbol of leisure and joy and the painters of the time, like Manet and Renoir drew inspiration. In Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party the boater can also be seen worn by a girl. In fact like the fedora the boater was originally a woman’s hat.  In Monet’s Bathers at la Grenouillère the boaters are out in full force, but not by anyone in the water. They know only too well that boaters are ultimately made of grass and lose their shape if soaked. By 1879 when Renoir returned to the Seine in Oarsmen at Chatou only the men were wearing boaters. In Renoir’s Dance at Bougival the artist uses muted colours except for the hats. The male subject is wearing a navy blazer and his boater is of striking yellow. 




It is an enduring stain on the noble breakfast cereal tradition is that Kellogs was founded by two ardent advocates of eugenics, JH and WK Kellogg. In fact eugenics was too tame for them and they invented their own brand called ‘race betterment’. 


Kellogg advocated that the whites return to biologic living and avoid "race mixing."


In terms of positive eugenics, the encouragement of the fit to reproduce, Kellogg advocated for a eugenics registry for the purpose of establishing "racial thoroughbreds" and called for medical records to be considered before marriage.

He was also in favour of sterilisation of "defectives," particularly criminals, and, while working on the Michigan Board of Health, Kellogg promoted a eugenics agenda to the state legislature. 

The legislature passed the Public Act 34: 1913, "an act to authorise the sterilisation of mentally defective persons." 

At least 3,800 people in the state were involuntarily sterilised, according to research conducted by Kate O’Connor, a Ph.D. candidate in American Culture at the University of Michigan. Michigan's sterilisation law wasn't repealed until 1974. 


John Harvey Kellogg was always seen is his trademark snow white suit with a pet cockatoo on his shoulder. Given his irrational loathing for ‘sexual deviants’ as he called them it may be reasonable to deduce that he was not shy of a cockatoo.


They invented a bland cereal as an anaphrodisiac, and they performed genital mutilations on children to make them associate their sexual impulses with punishment and pain.


I mention all this to you as a background to why I was so particularly loath to do this week’s advert. Frankly I was revolted that Kelloggs even asked us to advertise for them. But then I saw how much they were offering and I was all in.



Is your breakfast cereal not white enough, try new Kellogg’s Special KKK. Fed up with a breakfast snack induced elevated libido then you need to start your day with the soothingly bland taste of Special KKK. Perhaps you found yourself longing for the return of Barak Obama, eradicate those deviant thought with a new ultra right ultra white Special KKK.


Are your feelings towards your Just Right - just wrong, are you anxious your cocoa puffs will corrupt your husband, then say Cheerio to your cheerios and bonjour to blandness with our totally untitillating crunchy confection.




The only thing whiter than your milk in your breakfast bowl is Kellogg’s special kkk





Songs Under the microscope


This weeks song to be subjected to our withering gaze was nominated by Moscow based listener Edward Snowden. (the withering gaze is a metaphor relating to harsh scrutiny and not the LGBTQ boy band of the same name.) It is the famous snooper’s anthem by the Police; “Every Breath you Take”.


This sinister ballad is an open admission to the crime of stalking. Let’s look at the lines “Every single day, Every word you say, every night you stay I’ll be watching you”. According to Section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act a person is guilty of an offence of stalking if they are following a person, monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, watching or spying on a person.


In Sting’s view of relationships “Oh can’t you  see, you belong to me” is an extraordinary insight into his marriage and no doubt part of the reason for its demise.


My research team went to examine the original manuscripts that Sting used to write these lyrics in the British Library. What they uncovered was the crossed out and ultimately unused lines.  These included 


  • Every cake you bake
  • Every lawn you rake
  • When you overcook steak
  • When you forget to brake
  • Every snake you shake
  • Every ball of clay
  • Every thread you fray
  • Every dragon you slay
  • Every dog you spay
  • Every fez you spray
  • Every fish you weigh


We were told that this song is one of the most popular songs played at weddings. Was it the lines


  • Every bond you break
  • Every smile you fake
  • Every vow you break


Why are they getting married if they are already this suspicious? 


How could they choose this awful song, if not to establish a defence of forewarning.


Was ’Suspicious minds’ unavailable.




Here, let me help you out with some more lines that will more fully capture your paranoia 


  • Every time you cheat
  • Hire a hotel suite
  • Get swept off your feet
  • Crumple motel sheets


For heaven’s sake, if your new spouse plays this at your wedding, do not consummate this marriage. Eat you anaphrodisiac Special KKK and run for the hills



A sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce


Tamarind sauce


Tamarind sauce is wonderful with firm white fish such as hake, halibut, monkfish



  • 2 tbsp flavourless oil such as groundnut (if you use a light olive oil then I am not going to judge you)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 spring onions, cut into julienne
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar 
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste (now this is a regular item from Ocado but for our friends the uncontacted arrow people in the Amazonian Basin this is a challenge being outside the Ocado delivery area. I checked on but they do not carry it. So for you, this week go to Sainsbury’s as they have their own brand Tamarind paste for £2, or 15.59 Brazilian reals.
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed to a purée
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger
  • 10 black peppercorns, crushed


Heat the groundnut oil a in a frying pan, add the spring onions and sauté over a

medium heat until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, reduce the heat to low and

cook for 2 minutes.


Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for a further 2 minutes.


Transfer the sauce to a small stainless steel pan with a lit on it and let it rest for about 20 minutes. I just warm through slightly before using.



Literally the last section


Ofsted Report: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry


Inspection Judgements:


The Achievement of Pupils requires improvement.


Pupils at Hogwarts have access to a reasonably wide range of range of school subjects that are suited to its key demographic.  As an independent school, it does not have to follow the National Curriculum closely; however, it is disappointing to note that basic requirements such as English, Mathematics and Physics are missing from the school's syllabus.  This has had adverse effects on all students, many of whom have never even been taught basic KS1 or 2 literacy and pupils are graduating without the ability to calculate a 10% tip at a restaurant. Those pupils who  have attended state primary schools typically perform very well in contrast to their peers.


The majority of students appear to be under-performing, with most pupils struggling in all their lessons, most of which appear to be set at too challenging a level and have an element of peril in them. A key example was Care of Magical Creatures. One pupil was injured in the course of the inspection because he did not follow the instructions around a Hippogriff. This class was entirely set up for such accidents and Hagrid the teacher admitted that he had no teaching qualifications and he had in fact had  no formal teacher training.


 One particular class, which seemed to be based on A-Level chemistry, proved too difficult for even the most proficient students.  Only one pupil managed to complete the lesson objectives, mainly thanks to his use of an annotated text book.  However, certain subjects appear to be either very short-term, or far too easy for the majority of students.  An outdoors lesson was observed where students made very little progress over several lessons, simply performing the same repetitive tasks again and again, counting and feeding small maggot-like creatures.  Clearly the curriculum requires an overhaul to bring literacy and numeracy levels up to the appropriate level for such a prestigious establishment.


Extra-curricular activities are well-established at the school, with chess clubs, animal care groups and 'duelling clubs' all vying for popularity.  There is a definite sense of social responsibility among some students,  with evidence of a student-led campaign to get the canteen workers more breaks and holiday time.  The school library is underused, and often totally empty.  The librarian has no idea why this is the case.


The Facilities


The main school is situated next to a Forbidden Forest. Whilst it was forbidden the pupils regularly entered into it and exposed themselves to mortal peril. On one occasion we witnessed the Forbidden forest being used as a means of detention.


The Philosopher’s stone was kept in a room off the third floor corridor. The room was unsatisfactorily secured by a lock that was easily defeated by a first year student. The stone was additionally guarded by a ferocious three-headed dog so the chances of students coming to mortal harm are significant. We have made a separate referral to animal welfare concerning the manner in which a dog was kept chained up 24 hours a day. 


The sixth form is indistinguishable from the main school, as the students all remain on to study to the age of eighteen.  The subjects offered remain the same, though with more rigorous examinations.   Scores well for developing student employment skills with students  typically going  into government posts, journalism.


The school use a system of moving staircases that change direction without warning. There is a reason that random staircases are not more widely adopted, they are dangerous and hinder rapid transit. We recommend at a minimum an audible warning be issued 15 seconds before a change of direction.


There was a hidden room of Requirements that was not in the building plans that were approved and no planning consent exists for it.




At one time we noted the school was guarded by Demontors. These creatures demonstrated no self control and were likely to suck out the soul of anyone they came across. Their use in the penal system was to induce psychosis in the prisoners, so their use around a school was unacceptable.


A basilisk had been living undetected in the water pipes of the school for several years. It was simply dispatched by a second year pupil but does bring into question the abilities of the headmaster who seemed oblivious to its presence, nor of its impact to the water pressure.


There were reports that the caretaker resorted to torture. Under no circumstances should he be allowed to continue in any capacity at the school.




In the seven years of records that were made available to us we could only identify 4 black, three asian and one jewish pupils. There were no LGBTQ pupils.




The Quality of Teaching is Unsatisfactory


The of defence against the dark arts teacher seems to be replaced every year, often as a result of the death of the incumbent. There is no rigorous and open selection process with the choice being made arbitrarily by the headmaster. The poor outcomes seem to indicate that the school did not routinely undertake background assessments of new hires.


A chemistry teacher was a former death eater and a simple background check would have shown him to be unsuitable for the post.


Teaching at Hogwarts is generally very old-fashioned and lets the students down considerably.  Lessons are formulaic and, other than the occasional impressive display of skills from teaching staff, are dull and lifeless.  Lessons all too often revolve around tedious rote-work and use of text books.  The study of History is particularly poor, with very little teacher interaction and no group work of any kind.  Students were frequently found to be asleep during these lessons and, on one occasion, the teacher was also sleeping at their desk.  


Teachers have very high expectations of their pupils - often far too high for their age and ability.  Again, during chemistry, the teacher was seen to display entirely unfounded expectations of a Year 7 class who could barely keep up with his description of various chemicals, poisons and antidotes.  Students in this class were often punished for their lack of prior knowledge - a worrying trend that the senior leaders of the school need to counter as soon as possible. 


Assessment for Learning is not well implemented at Hogwarts school.  In fact, students seemed only rarely to be given assessments of any kinds, and homework tasks are often over-long and irrelevant (usually essay based).  Tasks within lessons are often over-long and repetitive, lacking anything other than brief modelling from the teacher.  Lessons all appear to be two hours long, but it is hard to say exactly what fills this time, with lessons often dedicated to a single activity with little teacher feedback beyond simple criticism.  


The house system borders on apartheid and cross-house friendships are rare and often mocked by other students. These children are singled out to be in the various houses at a very young age before their personalities have fully developed. 


The house characteristics do not seem t be written down but the broad groupings seem to be :


Gryffindor - Bravery, arrogance, stubbornness, hotheadedness and a sense of entitlement


Ravenclaw - Intelligence, witty, creative


Slytherin - Intelligence, goal-focussed, hell spawn


Hufflepuff - Virgins


The Behaviour and Safety of Pupils is Unsatisfactory


 Frankly, the quality of safety provision for students at Hogwarts is totally unacceptable.  Despite having a highly qualified, capable and over-worked school nurse, many severe and significant injuries have occurred in recent years.  However, saving the child and heal thing their physical injuries does leave them with emotional scars and there were instances of pupils displaying PTSD.


Pupils had unsupervised access to co-ed common rooms at all ages. This is unsatisfactory. Except for Hufflepuff.


The main sport played by the school, entirely internally, is incredibly dangerous and should be reviewed by the HSE immediately.  This is a form of sky hockey that involves flying at great altitudes and high speeds on a broomstick. 

The rich have a very significant advantage as the Firebolts and Nimbus have a huge performance advantage over the Cleansweeps. 



We have not done a full legal review of flying at Hogwarts but during the course of the review we made the following observations with respect to 2016 Civil Aviation Air Navigation Order





3, An aircraft is deemed to be in flight— 

  • (a)  in the case of a piloted flying machine, from the moment when, after the embarkation of its crew for the purpose of taking off, it first moves under its own power, until the moment when it next comes to rest after landing;  We conclude that a broom is an aircraft.


Meaning of “operator” 

4.— references to the person who at the relevant time has the management of that aircraft. 


The following breaches were observed during our on site assessment :


  1. An aircraft  must not fly unless it has painted or fixed on it, in the manner required by the law of the country in which it is registered, the nationality and registration marks required by that law.  There were no such markings.


Certificate of airworthiness to be in force
— an aircraft must not fly unless there is in force for the aircraft a certificate of airworthiness - there is no evidence that the brooms had received an air worthiness certificate, nor would they be eligible based on breaches of minimum equipment requirements


Passengers to be seated and properly secured 

71. The pilot in command of an aircraft  must ensure that— 

  • (a)  prior to and during taxiing, take-off and landing

each passenger on board occupies a seat or berth and has their safety belt or restraint device properly secured. 


136.—(1)  a person must not act as a pilot of an aircraft  without holding an appropriate licence 


Section 228 - personal flying log, each operator must keep a personal flying log stating the time, duration start and destination of each flight.




“aerobatic manoeuvres” means loops, spins, rolls, bunts, stall turns, inverted flying and any other similar manoeuvre intentionally performed by an aircraft involving— 

  • (a)  an abrupt change in its attitude;
  • (b)  an abnormal attitude; or
  • (c)  an abnormal variation in speed,

They are prohibited over crowds of people


They must not be flown closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. 


The sky hockey matches clearly involve an element of aerobatic manoeuvres in contravention of the separation requirements. 


The pilots do not maintain adequate separation with other aircraft, 


Several injuries from wildlife have occurred in recent months. The murderous tree in the grounds should be cut down and removed immediately. The hazards around the school  are not adequately monitored or kept safe by any member of staff other than the groundsman.  This kind of Health and Safety brief is not usually in the remit of a groundskeeper, and it is our recommendation that more staff are drafted in to help with this task.  


The school either turned a blind eye to or permitted the use of the date rape drug Amortentia, and there was wide availability of similar potions such as Cupid Crystals, Kissing Concoction, Beguiing Bubbles and Twilight Moonbeams. There was evidence that two pupils or former pupils were supplying illegal drugs to pupils that the staff chose to chose to ignore or were not trained enough to spot. We recommend that all supplies be confiscated and then this stock left in an open barrel in the Hufflepuff common room where they can cause no harm.


There have been several deaths in recent years, all on site.  


Several pupils had their school experience diminished by lack of access to money. The triwizard competition with a reward in the region of £5000 could attract entrants in spite of the real risks. Even the schools own rules on the minimum age was bent to allow a 14 year old boy enter. This boy did not consent to the competition, the goblet of fire randomly spat his name out. Goblets of fire should not be able to force pupils to face evil mermaids and hardcore mazes. Once in the competition there is no mechanism for the child to withdraw. A boy died in the competition.





Behaviour of students is very poor indeed.  Staff seem to maintain their grip on the school using threats of violence, and yet student disruption is at high levels.  Bullying is   endemic and is barely  addressed by the pastoral team, in spite of it  consisting of some of the strictest staff members in the school.  The bullying often led to physical harm. This behaviour seemed to mimic the bullying of students by staff  with some students singled out from an early age for grudges that seem to date back decades.  





The house championship appears to be corrupt with staff openly favouring pupils in their house. The whole points system is arbitrary with no obvious rules governing the giving or removing of points.


Pupils seem to carry instruments of deadly force with them at all times. Moreover, staff seemed to teach them how to use them to the maximum of their lethal ability including taking over other’s minds torturing and killing them. This is not appropriate for pre-pubescent children. 


Pupils had unsupervised access to co-ed common rooms at all ages. This is unsatisfactory. Except for Hufflepuff.


Pupils who have suffered grief should not have it compounded by exposure to creepy devil horses.


There was a gang called Dumbledore’s Army that trained its members into being efficient killing machines




Hogwarts School is awarded a grade of 4 (unsatisfactory)



And that is the end of Literally the Last Section.


In next week’s Frenzied and Sustained


Our Brainy Lecture dives into black holes, Our Song under the Microscope is The pina Colada song and we ask if it is a modern take on Mozart’s Case Fan Tutte. We give you the dumbed down, stripped down low down and answer the perennial question is Rupert Holmes the new Mozzart. Also next week there will be a sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce and a hat of the week. In Literally the Last Section we delve into the world’s most famous truant, Tintin so please subscribe and pass this round to your friends and families, some of them are not yet listeners. Remember, Sting knows where you live.