Hello and welcome to the new-look Rod Fleming’s World. This is a simpler, cleaner design than the previous one and I hope it is easy for everyone to use. I will be bringing the daughter sites that were a part of the old design into this one as soon as time permits.
It seems to be a staple of my life that every two years or so, the site self-destructs spectacularly and, after two weeks fighting with it, I surrendered to my fate and rebuilt it. I think it was worth the headache, even if I could barely spare the time!
Using the site
Rod Fleming’s World uses the WordPress CMS, so items are grouped into Pages and Articles (Posts). Below you’ll see snippets of the three most recent articles arranged sequentially. In the right column there is a Category list, where all the articles are grouped by subject matter. Underneath the Header picture is another menu for site navigation. If you click the Articles link there, then you’ll see them all arranged sequentially. The Archives link leads you to a title-only list of every article published on the site. At the extreme top right there is a search box which allows you to search by keyword.
Other links in the top Menu lead to dedicated subject Pages on the site and through these you can access links to scientific papers and download off-site articles and even whole books.
As you scroll down this page you’ll see a panel for my photography, a panel for my books and finally a panel all about me.
As usual, I’ll continue to give you plenty of varied content. For new visitors, there’s over half a million words on this site, and hundreds of pictures.
Enjoy the site and please use the Contact Form to let me know any suggestions you might have.
The great myth of ‘gay sex’ is that it occurs between two big alpha males. In reality, usually what happens is that weaker, submissive males offer themselves for, or are simply coerced into, sex with an alpha male, to use the wolf-pack analogy. Wolf-packs contain both patriarchal and matriarchal hierarchies, which makes them even more …
What is ‘sex tourism’? It’s a subject that generates a great deal of copy and little enlightenment. Is it just ‘mongering’, the practice of buying sex, but this time in foreign lands? And if it were, would there be anything wrong with that? Or is it any sex abroad? Is having sex when you’re on …
I am a Scottish multimedia artist and writer, with a long career as a freelance journalist and photographer.
I have held staff and executive positions in the national print media. I write books on a variety of topics in both fiction and non-fiction. I am active as a writer, photographer, printmaker and publisher.
I graduated with Bachelor of Art with Honours from Edinburgh College of Art in 1983, majoring in sculpture and also pursuing life-drawing, printmaking and film-making.
After graduation I worked in film-making before returning to photography. Subsequently I worked for a number of national titles on staff and nearly all, as well as internationally, as a freelance. I was one of the launch crew for Scotland On Sunday, and became Picture Editor there.
During this time I also pursued Journalism Studies through Napier University in Edinburgh.
I graduated with a Master of Fine Art degree from Dundee University in 2011, where my practical area was photography and printmaking, especially photogravure.
I grew up lucky, though I didn’t fully realise how much, then. In my home there were microscopes and telescopes and, perhaps more importantly, too many science books to count.
My father, though he was an engineer, was fascinated by science and subscribed to the weekly science magazines that were available in the 1960s. Through them I learned about Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle; about basic psychology and anthropology; about physics and space.
This was the era of the Space Race; terms like ‘escape velocity’, ‘orbit’, ‘action-reaction’ and ‘solar system’ were everyday language amongst primary schoolchildren.
The 1960s was a fantastic time to grow up in another way too — we had no internet. This meant that you had to find things out using two methods: by reading books; and by going and looking for yourself. And we did both with enthusiasm beyond measure.
Chemistry sets — quite capable of causing a fair-sized explosion or setting the house on fire — arrived every Christmas. I was always fascinated by the amazing colours of the crystals in the small jars that came. The intense blue of Copper Sulphate, for example. We made crystal gardens and learned how reactions work — long before we were taught chemistry at school. For me, chemistry was never the dry stuff of equations, it was the sheer wonder at making something new out of these dry powders.
At the same time, I lived in the country and all around me was an immense
laboratory to do science in. I immersed myself in The Observers’ Books series — pocket-sized volumes that were designed for the field. I still have some of these and The Observer’s Book of Astronomy sits, today, by my telescope.
We had a big, old-fashioned brass microscope and soon — with the aid of another Observer’s book — myself, my brother and often mum too would be splashing about in the water at the old quarry nearby with nets made of mum’s old stockings and a jar at the end. I remember the first time I saw a living amoeba under the microscope: Gosh! It’s just like the book!
Many flies were sacrificed to science, their legs and wings minutely examined.
We discovered some strange stones in an old wall full of crystals of the most amazing colours. What were they? Though I was but 10 or so, I could see that whatever they were, they were insoluble. A hunt through the huge collection of books produced — you guessed it — The Observer’s Guide to Geology, which quickly identified our mystery crystals as quartz, (SiO4) which forms in bubbles in volcanic rock. We traced these stones to their source, which was the old quarry itself.
I learned to draw well because drawing, then, was still an essential skill for a biologist; and that led in turn into other things.
How it shaped me
All this could not help but have an effect on me and the way I thought. What it did was to teach me to rely on evidence. In those youthful days the world around me could be encompassed by a young mind. I was like a 19th-century Natural Historian; I could learn everything there was to know about the world I lived in.
Well, even in the 1960s, the fact was that no one individual could possibly hope to learn all there was to know, even about a small patch of Scottish countryside. And now, science is so much greater.
The way we get round this, I later discovered, is through Scientific Method and the way that it is applied today. Discoveries, when made, are submitted to specialist journals and these are then ‘peer-reviewed’. That is, they are subjected to intense criticism by other experts in the same field. If they agree, then the paper is published and other scientists will try their best to disprove it.
This is the only reliable way that we have to know the universe we live in. Religion is for children; it was an early attempt at explaining the world. Philosophy, once a huge leap forward, has proven, now, to be redundant in our understanding of the real world. Indeed, while Philosophy still has uses in fields like justice and social policy, its frequent misuse, by non-scientists, to undermine true science, is deplorable and should be challenged whenever it appears.
Denying science is denying knowledge
No good can come, ever, of ignoring or denying the science. If you don’t like the science, then make it better.
Departments of Humanities across the planet should be shamed for their pseudo-scientific preference for politically correct nonsense over scientifically established knowledge. If we were to take any heed of them, we might as well go back to believing in an angry Sky-father and bowing in abjection before distant volcanoes.
This site respects science and scientists.
If you would like to discuss any of the above please contact me using the form below.