Saturday, December 27, 2003

"Perpetrators of violence are often victims of a cycle of abuse with its roots deep in the past" - David Cox
"Differential fees will reflect neither course cost nor the graduate's earning potential, because, in a market, cost is determined by supply and demmand." - Jessica Baily
"It is likely that the collective benefits flowing from a widespread acceptance of certain moral sources allow us to lead better lives than in an atomised world of private morals" - Richard Reeves
As Grayling put it "In humanist ehtics the individual is responsible for achieving the good as a free member of a community of free agents; in religous ethics he achieves the good by obedinace to an authority that tells him what his goals are and how he should live."
"Neither faith nor politics can be simply about believing - it must be about action. Religous beliefs and political beliefs will achieve nothing until people are prepared to act on those beliefs." - Tony Blair

Abridged from NS- The US has rouge leaders, but that does not make it a rouge state - Jenifer Rankin

At first glance the US displays all the hallmarks of the classic rouge state. Its foreign policy is aggressive; it ignores international law; it is relentless in its pursuit of WMDs. Factor in that the president came to power on a minority of votes.

The language of the rouge state...inhibits constructive dialogue.

The shaky way it [USA] divided the world into right and rouge states opend the US to charges of hpocracy.

Critics probably also know which of these 'rouge states' that they would rather live in.

The creation of a safer fairer world will be inaugurated not by naming rouge states, but by reforming states.
We live in a sexualised society.

Abridged from NS, New Science, old myth

A day will come when no one dies in vain. In the past, it was believed that God would bring about this happy state. Revolutionary movements such as communism promised something even more fantastic. By using the power of science, human beings could ceate it themselves.

After all the babble about the irresistable spread of democracy and free markets, the reality is war, protectionism and the shifty politics of secrecy and corruption.

The lesson of science is that death has a vital function in the natural environment. In the only world we know, nothing is immortal. The hope of escaping death comes from religon, not science. Yet science has been appropriated (cryogenic resurrection) to give this mystical hope a new lease of life.

It has long been known that ideas can spread by a kind of contagion...Persecution and war, the power of wealth and the ability of governments to shape the news are only some of the factors explaining why some ideas spread and others do not.

The biblical story of the Fall is closer to the truth. Knowledge is not an unmixed good; it can be as much a curse as a blessing. If the superseded science of the 20th centuary could be used to wage two hideously destructive world wars, how will the vastly superior science of today be used?

Which is the greater leap of faith: to accept that humanity has eaten from the tree of knowledge and must somehow live with the consequences, or to believe that science can deliver humanity from itself?

Laws abridged from NS - People no longer have the confidence to follow their own conciences - Frank Field

Rules are kept by convention, habit and self-interest, and, to a large extent, becuase other people keep them. Once a significant number of poeple start to breach the code with any frequency, self-interest becomesself-centredness and the whole system falters.

Given that we cannot recreate the religous faith of the past, how can we re-establish a belief that rules will be kept? What could be the basis of a new social highway code?

Antisocial behaviour is not low-level crime by another name.

Antisocial behaviour arises because the people who should naturally stop it - parents - cannot or will not act.

How can we restore the principle of communities/self governing communities?

The gateway to each benefit should be signing of a contract between claimant and society.
"In a more religous time," Shawcross wrote in Deliver us From Evil, "it was only God whom we asked to deliver us fro mevil. Now we call upon our own man-made institutions for such deliverance."
We live in priviledged times. We can buy virtually anything even if it is at someone elses expense.

"There is life in everything" - unknown
With regards to donations Andrew Carnegie asserted that "the man who dies rich dies disgraced".

Means Testing

"Means Testing has eroded the incentive to save" - Patrick Hosking

The war on Terror

The war on terror, like the war on crime, can never be won. However it has been marketed as a war with a start and an end. It cannot be sutained indefinately with the prospect of victory. It must be sustained some other way. Fear.

"To claim we face a significant risk is incapable of disproof, but all too capable of proof. No one can ever say "the terrorist war is over"" - NS leader - When it's right to be fearful
Expect little and you'll not be dissappointed.
In a multiculteral society of contradictory religons the law cannot be determined through religous belief.
"Thrift is the really romantic thing; economy is more romantic than extravagance...thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste...if a man could undertake to make use of all the things in his dustbin, he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare." G K Chesterton
Martin Niemoller, the german pastor : "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist... Then they came for me. And there was nobody left to speak out for me."

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"I'll believe it when I see it" so many people say. Why not, "I'll see it when I believe it?" - Robb Tracy

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Nowt so queer as folk" - Unknown

Public or Private Health Service?

Our current 'two-tier' health service allows queue jumping for the wealthy.
Social constructivists have argued that there is no such thing as natural; it is always a social construct.
"No-one ever puts flowers on the grave of a flower" - Tom Waits
"In journalism, death trumps life" - Timothy Garton Ash

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Will people work for the common good?

"Life after capitalism ... as long as incentives to cheat exist (and they always will) none of our alternatives could be applied universally without totalitarianism" - George Monbiot

"For communism to work, the members of the society either need to be altruistic enough to want to work for the benefit of their neighbors, or they need to be forward thinking enough to see that what benefits the whole benefits themselves. They must be very far-sighted indeed, because large-scale social benefits tend to be more abstract in nature, and more difficult to recognise." - http://www.germane-software.com/~ser/Files/Essays/Communism.html

"If people are basically selfish, then they won't work for the common good, and there will be a tendancy to freeload or otherwise take advantage of the system." - http://www.germane-software.com/~ser/Files/Essays/Communism.html



Abridged from Organic Farming Will Feed the World by George Monbiot

"If anyone tells you that GM is going to feed the world," Steve Smith, a director of the world's biggest biotechnology company, Novartis, insisted, "tell them that it is not. … To feed the world takes political and financial will - it's not about production and distribution."

Professor Jules Pretty of Essex University has shown how farmers in India, Kenya, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras have doubled or tripled their yields by switching to organic or semi-organic techniques. A study in the United States reveals that small farmers growing a wide range of plants can produce ten times as much money per acre as big farmers growing single crops. Cuba, forced into organic farming by the economic blockade, has now adopted it as policy, having discovered that it improves both the productivity and the quality of the crops its farmers grow.

Traditional farming has been stamped out all over the world not because it is less productive than monoculture, but because it is, in some respects, more productive. Organic cultivation has been characterised as an enemy of progress for the simple reason that it cannot be monopolised: it can be adopted by any farmer anywhere on earth, without the help of multinational companies. Though it is more productive to grow several species or several varieties of crops in one field, the biotech companies must reduce diversity in order to make money, leaving farmers with no choice but to purchase their most profitable seeds. This is why they have spent the last ten years buying up seed breeding institutes and lobbying governments to do what ours has done: banning the sale of any seed which has not been officially - and expensively - registered and approved.

Abridged from The Poor Get Stuffed by George Monbiot

Many of those who have begun to understand the finity of global grain production (livestock already consume half the world's grain, and their numbers are still growing almost exponentially. This is why biotechnology - whose promoters claim that it will feed the world - has largely been deployed to produce not food but feed: it allows farmers to switch from grains which keep people alive to the production of more lucrative crops for livestock) have responded by becoming vegetarians. But vegetarians who continue to consume milk and eggs scarcely reduce their impact on the ecosystem. The conversion efficiency of dairy and egg production is generally better than meat rearing, but even if everyone who now eats beef were to eat cheese instead, this would merely delay the global famine. As both dairy cattle and poultry are often fed with fishmeal (which means that no one can claim to eat cheese but not fish), it might, in one respect, even accelarate it. The shift would be accompanied too by a massive deterioration in animal welfare: with the possible exception of intensively reared broilers and pigs, battery chickens and dairy cows are the farm animals which appear to suffer most. If lacto-vegetarians want to stop the trade in veal calves, they should drink less milk.
"The Christians stole the winter solstice from the pagans, and capitalism stole it from the Christians." - George Monbiot
"As I have begun to acquire a better understanding of the material world, I have come to see how liberating the loss of our belief in a Christian (or for that matter Buddhist or Hindu) reincarnation can be. The selfish, individualistic notion of an independent resurrection instead gives way to the idea of a collective reincarnation, as you begin to see how our components are scattered then incorporated, inevitably, into other organisms. To me this is infinitely more reassuring than the awful lottery of the Christian Heaven or the Christian Hell." - George Monbiot

We're Not Materialistic Enough by George Monbiot

Ask anyone what's wrong with consumer society and they'll almost certainly tell you that it has made people "too materialistic". We are obsessed, we're always told, with things, and our material engrossment is killing the environment, our relationships and our spiritual lives. It strikes me that precisely the opposite is true: we are not materialistic enough.

Consumerism demands the fast and careless use of materials. It relies on our detachment from and incomprehension of the material world. Do you know where the components of your TV or your computer come from? Do you even know what they're made of? Have you ever considered how these materials were extracted, which peoples needed be displaced so that their lands could be mined or logged? Can you sharpen a knife? Or are you forced to buy knives with serrated edges, or buy a new one every time yours gets blunt? If the answers to these questions embarrass you, then you are, like most of us, a non-materialist.

Abridged from A Weapon With Wings by George Monbiot

The men who attacked New York and Washington on September 11th 2001 drove one symbol of power into another. The aeroplane, more precisely than any other technology, represents the global ruling class. In the past we raised our eyes to the men on horseback. Today we raise our eyes to the heavens.

Last week the World Health Organisation calculated that climate change is causing 150,000 deaths a year. This figure excludes deaths caused by drought and famine, pests and plant diseases and conflicts over natural resources, all of which appear to be exacerbated by global warming. Flying is our most effective means of wrecking the planet: every passenger on a return journey from Britain to Florida produces more carbon dioxide than the average motorist does in a year.

All over the world, the aircraft industry was built by means of government spending. All over the world, it is sustained today through tax breaks and hidden subsidies. Mysteriously exempt from both fuel duty and VAT, in Britain the airlines dodge some pounds10 billion of tax a year.

Monday, December 15, 2003

''Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains'' - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Meaning of life

Do you need a purpose in life? To be done.

Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity's life.

Frankl, by contrast, believes that man's deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose.
A person cannot be changed, but can change themselves.
"Whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither." - Benjamin Franklin

Live to your needs, not to your salary

The more you earn the more you spend.

"How many times have I heard students about to start work for a corporation claim that they will spend just two or three years earning the money they need, then leave and pursue the career of their choice? How many times have I caught up with those people several years later, to discover that they have acquired a lifestyle, a car and a mortgage to match their salary." - George Monbiot

Is human intelligence a good thing or a bad thing?

Human intelligence is being used to resolve the problems that human intelligence created.

Human intelligence will probably be the root cause of the extinction of humans.

Humans as a species have been successful. We have multiplied to around the limits that our planet can 'naturally' sustain. More than ever we now need to use our intelligence to create technologies and processes that can 'cheat the system' and support us.

Taken from "Is the Pope Gay?" By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 13th July 2000

Morality is surely meaningless unless it refers to the impact we have on other people. Interestingly, even the Vatican appears unable to point to any ill-effects of safe sex between consenting gay adults, other than to suggest that its acceptance might "deprave" or "corrupt" other people. What this appears to mean is that they might be led away from the teachings of the Church. Heterosexuality is quite another matter. Reproduction among prosperous people has a demonstrable impact on the welfare of others: thanks to the depletion of resources and the effects of climate change, every child born to the rich deprives children elsewhere of the means of survival. In a world of diminishing assets, being gay is arguably more moral than being straight.

The claim that homosexuality is "unnatural" is more interesting. This could mean one of two things. Perhaps the Pope is suggesting that it lies beyond the scope of "normal" human behaviour. If so, this has uncomfortable implications for an association of old men who wear dresses, hear voices and practise ritual cannibalism.
"Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it." - George Monbiot

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Nelson Rolihlahla MANDELA - Abridged from www.anc.org.za

Mandela's words, "The struggle is my life," are not to be taken lightly.

In 1944 he helped found the ANC Youth League, whose Programme of (non-violent) Action was adopted by the ANC in 1949.

When the ANC was banned after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, he was detained until 1961 when he went underground to lead a campaign for a new national convention.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, was born the same year. Under his leadership it launched a campaign of sabotage against government and economic installations.

In 1962 Mandela left the country for military training in Algeria and to arrange training for other MK members.

On his return he was arrested for leaving the country illegally and for incitement to strike. He conducted his own defence. He was convicted and jailed for five years in November 1962. While serving his sentence, he was charged, in the Rivonia trial, with sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In prison Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.

It is significant that shortly after his release on Sunday 11 February 1990, Mandela and his delegation agreed to the suspension of armed struggle.

He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on 10 May 1994 - June 1999

Nelson Mandela retired from Public life in June 1999. He currently resides in his birth place - Qunu, Transkei.
After the Sharpeville massacre Mr. Sobukwe told the court: "there will always be others to take our place".

If you could meet anyone who is alive today who would it be?

I would like to meet someone who is responsible for lots of death and destruction, and ask them how killing people is helping their cause.

Is it the content of the lyrics of the sound of the lyrics that matters?

I enjoy must in languages that I don't understand so the sound on its own is enough, if it has a good story to tell as well then thats a bonus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you" - Gandalf

Saturday, December 06, 2003

How to produce apathy...

"Fill their bellies and keep them entertained" - ??? (Not quite word for word. James kept telling me this and it's finally sunk in)
"For the moral Right, the appearance in the mass media of activities it approves of promts the cry 'Watching is a substitute for doing', while the appearance of activities of which it disaproves prompts the cry 'HorrorQ They'll all be wanting to try it at home!" - Matthew Paris
'The explosions in Istanbul are good news for prejudice and good news for George W Bush' - Matthew Paris

Our son of a bitch (abridged from The Spectator, Our son of a bitch, Daniel Hannan)

Despite Bush's post war speach on no-longer supporting evil regimes even if they are on our side, in Uzbekistan we are propping up precisely such a regime. In an eerie repetition of what we did in Iraq during the 1980s, we are supporting a brutal dictator simply because he has had the wit to call himself an opponent of Islamism.

These Regimes must go (abridged from The Spectator, These five regimes must go - and soon, Micheal Heath)

Profound changes in the following countries are needed if the war on terror is to suceed. Terrorism's most brazen patron (Syria), its ideological inspiration (Iran), its paymaster (Saudis Arabia), a critical source of manpower (Sudan), and its most dangerous weapons supplier (North Korea). These are the fronts on which the war must be fought: it's not just terror groups, it's the state actors who provide them with an infrastructure and extend their global reach.
There is no such group as the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people is at least four distinct groups, all of whom have differnet views, and who want power so as to be able to impose there views on the other groups.

The speed of the war on terror (abridged from The Spectator, These five regimes must go - and soon, Micheal Heath)

Forcing the USA to go the extra mile with the UN, allowed the peace movement to change from a "small anti-war fringe" to a worldwide mass peace movement. As every month passed the legitimacy of the war in teh eyes of the public was reduced. Taking a year to amass overwhelming force on the boarders of Iraq may have made the war shorter and simpler, but it also made the post-war messier and costlier., as teh regieme had time to movestuff around, hide it, ship it to Syria, and allow interested parties to mull over tactics for a post-liberation insurgency.

Henceforth, 'engagements in the war on terror will be swift, sudden and as low key as can be managed'.

The far Right and new Left have Globalisation in common (abridged from The Spectator, Who hates the Jews now? Mark Strauss)

"Anxiety over globaisation provides opportunaties for the far-Right political parties to exploit the fears of those who see their way of life threatened by migrants from the developing world, and who believe that their sovereignty is beseiged by regional trade pacts and monetry union. In their war against globalisation the far Right has also found common cause with the new Left."

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Touch/contact has been sexualised

Touch/contact has been sexualised resulting in adults experiencing little physical human contact.

Is society any better off now than 10, 20, or 100 years ago?

The divide between the rich and the poor is greater now than it has ever been.

Martin Luther King

"man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love"

"...three evils that had grown out of man's ‘ethical infantilism,’ racial injustice, poverty, and war, which were all intertwined. Nonviolence ‘seeks to redeem the spiritual and moral lag . . . to secure moral ends through moral means.

"Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. That I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind."

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Is Science good or bad (abridge from The Times, Mugged by the science mafia, Bryan Appleyard)?

Science is not necessarily beneficial to mankind.

Science is a value-free investigation of the material world.

About all things we regard as most important - love, life, art, imagination, peace, tolerance - science can say nothing of value. When we let it into those areas, the results usually involve millions of corpses!

'Science is a powerful instrument. How it is used, whether it is a blessing or a curse to mankind, depends on mankind and not on the instrument. A knife is useful, but it can also kill.' - Albert Einstein

'How responsible are scientists for the consequences of their discoveries?' - Albert Einstein
John Donne wrote "No man is an Island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main,,, any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

"Fear leads greed" - The New Statesman
Geoarge Orwell pointed out that "people who are tired, demoralised and poor do not want to come home to some healthy grated carrot or rough porridge oats. What they want is something comforting, easy and pleasurable".

Prime Minister or Prime Manager - abridged from the times (It's not so easy, electing the prime manager, John Humphrys)

Elections were once battles between class interests. You recognised which class you belonged to and voted accordingly. Then the middle class expanded, and opinion had to be appealed to as well as ones own interests.

There are now no ideological differences between the main parties, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem, and politics is about marketing and who can manage things best.