Wednesday, 27 February 2008

If time is money, would you not buy more time?

Those with money allways seem to want more time, many of the ancient wonders are testiment to it, the teracota army, a army of hundreds made of stone burried with thier emporer and a river of mecury folowing around his tomb all to help and protect him in heaven. He conquered all China, but he could not conquer death, he was told by his doctors that if he drank mecury he would live longer.

I guess the mecury shops must have been like tobbaco companies back then "doctor's choice." Well it probably shortened his life and definatly made him insane. The pharoh's buit thier pyramids as tombs for the after life, and seemed to have conquered physics with a building bigger not being built until the 19th century, and it is still a mystery how they could ever be built without modern machinery, on the blood of thousands, they were burried with some of the most beautiful objects ever seen as in Tutankhamun tomb in an atempt to conquer biology once more.

In our matierialist world of a protestant work ethic- "time is money" or "buisiness before pleasure" as if to suggest that money itself is the end in life not a means to an end. I think perhaps my time isnt going to be about aquiring money but about how to spend my time.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Will History Absolve the man who would have ended History?

The man who we know would be president, dictator, saviour, commandant, nationalist, communist, hero, demagogue of Cuba stood in the dock before Batista’s court after the attack on the Moncada Barracks and in a characteristic four hour speech he justifying his actions thus “History Will Absolve Me.”

My history teacher was telling us about communism when we were going to study Stalin “real communism” juxtaposing this with Cuban communism or “beach communism.” In the pseudo obituaries of the past few days as Fidel steps down you will read of the great healthcare system Cuba has, remarkable for a third world country, now officially a higher life expectancy in Cuba than in the United States

But Americans can still say “yeah well you don’t see people trying to float on doors to Cuba” You do however see people coming from all over the world to come to Cuba’s healthcare system One of the very few exports allowed to the United States was the meningitis b vaccine which you probably have had, which was developed in Cuba Cuba sends aid to over 80 countries particulaly helping in illiminating illiteracy and in free healthcare.

Cuba also has a very respectable education system, Cuba is still poor, it can still take two days to earn enough money to buy a toothbrush, once more you can never leave the island, you’re not even allowed an internet connection, unless through a controlled filter.

Not all Human rights abuses in Cuba happen at Guantanamo Bay either Amnesty international writes on the darker side of beach communism, writing: .

“Freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be severely restricted. At least 69 prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned for their political opinions. Political dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and detained, some without charge or trial. Cubans continued to feel the negative impact of the US embargo.”

And points to

“Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano González Pérez, an independent journalist who was arrested in July 2005 as he was about to take part in a demonstration in front of the French embassy, remained in detention without charge or trial.”

Cuba has however put a moratorium on the death penalty.

As for democracy – surprise, surprise the congress of people’s deputies (incidentally who aren’t allowed to campaign) voted unanimously to make Raul Castro as the new president of Cuba... What many on the cli-che – t-shirt left won’t acknowledge is that human rights abuses repression of democracy and free expression are the same whether it’s Pinochet or Castro doing them. Amnesty international has absolved neither and as for history Castro nearly ended it. Castro has always said that if he had been in control of the nuclear weapons in 1962, he would have used them had Cuba been attacked. – Robert McNamara reaction on meeting Castro and asking him what he would have done.

There is no doubt what the USA would have done if the Soviet Union had invaded the USA as the US invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs but this is not an excuse to cause Armageddon. Noam Chomsky points out who saved the world that day, and has suggested he get 1000 Nobel peace prizes.

“the world was saved from nuclear devastation by one Russian submarine captain, Vasily Arkhipov, who blocked an order to fire nuclear missiles when Russian submarines were attacked by US destroyers near Kennedy’s “quarantine” line. Had Arkhipov agreed, the nuclear launch would have almost certainly set off an interchange that could have “destroyed the Northern hemisphere,” as Eisenhower had warned.”

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

nationalised rock

Have you ever thought about the idea that on everything you buy your paying a tax to the rich? all the margin between the costs of the production and the profit to the rich shareholders making up the very highest percentiles of the population. The fact is that company's are generally not run by thier "owners" but by managers appointed by thier owners with very high sailories.

The Marxist notion of turning over the ownership of the means of production from the capitalists to the workers is turned on its head, who is more the capitalist, the worker who ownes shares in the company or the chief executive who ownes no shares but works for the company in that managerial role? The government can own shares in different competing companies while not stifling this competition. This need not stifle competition if the government simply gives the mission all private companies have of making as much profit as possible possibly with other indecies of success such as low carbon footprint or low prices.

What if the government could genuinly keep companies "at arms length," as the British government did yesterday in announcing the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Let people who know how to run companies at the going rate do it in thier own way for the public benifit without central mismanagment and run by people of expertise and talent ran the company with the bulk of the profit going to the government to fund health, education and regeneration bearing the fruits of a performing economy rather than creating disincentives to work

Friday, 15 February 2008

One Notch

“After every major terrorist incident the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. Every quarter the State Department should identify the top 10 hate mongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world.”

- Thomas Friedman -

Let us just conduct a thought experiment. What if i wrote in my GCSE history exam why the Nazis came to power and was asked what role the treaty of versailes played in the Nazi rise to power. And i just wrote

"those historians who argue that the treaty imposed on Germany after the first world war caused grevances which contributed to the rise of Nazism are one notch above being Nazis, further more the real reason Nazis came to power because there was an increasing percentage of people who hate freedom" What mark do you think i would get?

There is surely an enormous difference between identifying grevances leading to acts of terrorism and condoning them. Most historians would aggree that treaty imposed on Germany by the UK, USA and France after World War 1 contributed to the rose of Nazism, does this make these historians near Nazis? Don't let the neo con ideology fool you.

In time history will examine critically what the reasons for the hatred of America in the middle east and history will find Thomas Friedman a man of his time. Why is it that there are so many more Al Quieda attacks since the war on Iraq? As Bin Laden himself said:

"Let him [George Bush] tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example."

Yes he is evil, Even if the neo con ideology scorns all those who link forign policy of the west with terrorist attacks it is implicit in the reasoning given for forign policy decisions. As Ron Paul points out

Paul Wolfitiz sited that the War in Iraq was a major event because it would mean the US could take its troops out of Saudi Arabia implicitly regonising that the US troops presence was an important reason for animosity towards America.

The pentagon would have you believe that Saddam Huissain had something to do with 9/11 that there was a link with Al Quida, but in reality the reason why Ossama Binladen hates Saudi Arabia so much is because instead of allowing in his Muja Hadeen fighters into Saudi to fight of the invasion of Kuwait the American's where invited with thier troop presence in the area continueing. The great irony of a war with the stated aim of ridding Iraq of Al Quida is that it has now lead to Iraq having more Al Quida fighters than any other country.

The British and American government would have you believe that,
  • Palastinians forced from thier homes,
  • overthrowing democratically elected government in Iran and installing brutal Shah.
  • American arms industry serial numbers found on missles fragments fired on lebanese ambulances from Israeli helicopters,
  • the refusal to recognise Palastines democratically elected government and punishment of the people for thier election
  • he rejection of the UN resolution 242 ,
  • the thousands of children who died as a result of sanctions against Iraq
  • the detention without trial of muslims at Gautaimo Bay and the destruction of video tapes of thier "tough" interigation techniques to not expose the interogators, as if the CIA dosn't have the technology to blur a face on a video.
  • the Abu Graib torture scandel and the serial abuse by US forces in Iraq
  • the support of the use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1980s,
  • the shooting down of a civilian Iranian airliner, leading to the deaths of 300 civilians,
  • the support for bombing of lebanon in 2006, leading to 10 times more lebanese civilian deaths than Israeli and calling it war of defence while Israel occupy's part of Lebanon's land,
  • the imposition of democracy where 90 percent of the population want to the US to leave and a majority support attacks on them with US remaining thier being legitimised on helping Iraq build its "democracy,"
  • one million people having died in Iraq in violence following the invasion
has got nothing to do with terrorist violence aimed at the west. And Thomas Friedman would say anyone who sees this causal relationship is just one notch above being a terrorist. The fact is you have got to ask yourself, with all of the money spent and blood spilt by countries in the "war on terror" why have the number terrorist attacks increased exponentially?

On an interview with Amy Goodman. Amy Goodman asked

"AMY GOODMAN: And why do you trust the State Department to make the determination on who they would call terrorists for being critical of the invasion?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: We clearly know what hate speech is and we know what legitimate opposition is. I know the difference.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you think the State Department knows the difference? The Bush administration, President Bush?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I think they could. I know the difference between hate speech and people who oppose a policy on legitimate grounds"

Bearing in mind that this is an administration which has said that "you are either with us or against us" in the "war on terror," I wouldn't. Notice how say "imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted." has now become "hate speach."

One of the top groups he should be put on Thomas Friedman's list for hate mongering against the US is perhaps the CIA in the drafting of secret report released in 2006 for saying what everyone knows, that Iraq has "worsened the terrorist threat."

I will leave you with a Robert Fisk talking about his documentory: "from Bosnia to Beruit"

"I hear my voice on the soundtrack, saying: "When I see things like this, I think of the place I work, the Middle East... I wonder what the Muslim world has in store for us... Maybe I should end each of my reports with the words: 'Watch out!' " And when I checked back to my post-production notes, I find the dates of all our film sequences listed. I had walked into that Bosnian mosque, watched by Serb policemen, on 11 September 1993. My warning was exactly eight years too early."


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

ASBOs for shops using Moskito "security" device

Who deserves the ASBO, the “loitering” (the offence of being a stationary teenager) young person or the shop that uses a “security devices” plays a sound of selective discomfort aimed at children and teenagers where wearing *gasp* hoodies?

Exactly, if a teenager plays their music too loud in public place they get an ASBO if a shop plays a sound of deliberate selective discomfort its called a “security device.” The website writes:

The Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent is the solution to the eternal problem of unwanted gatherings of youths and teenagers in shopping centres, around shops, your home and anywhere else they are causing problems. The presence of these teenagers discourages genuine shoppers and customers’ from coming into your shop, affecting your turnover and profits.”

So shops have the right to use their selective discomfort device against “unwanted gatherings” they don't have have to be beating up old ladies and stealing their handbags just “gathering.” Then they can play their selective discomfort device on gatherings of teenagers in public places places.

Anti social behavior has become the biggest threat to private property over the last decade and there has been no effective deterrent until now.”

I aggree with the first bit “Anti social behaviour has become the biggest threat.” Shops seem to think public streets are their property. What if as young people we said we don't like old gits in shops next to public places where we hang out? What if we said lets play music of their selective discomfort ie all the music we listen to as loud as we can. Say play Dragonforce, well that might be selective discomfort to everyone apart from me, but select a genre of your choice something they won't like why not battle metal, happy hardcore, infected mushrooms, Maralyn Manson, Disturbed, perhaps best Rage Against the Machine, Whatever, and play it outside a store with one of these devices activated until they stop using it, and if you are threatened with an ASBO demand they are given an ASBO for their anti social discriminatory behaviour.

“Imagine no religion” - dream on. The Old Athiests

“And when we speak of “abandonment” – a favorite word of Heidegger – we only mean to say that God does not exist, and that it is necessary to draw the consequences of his absence right to the end. The existentialist is strongly opposed to a certain type of secular moralism which seeks to suppress God at the least possible expense. Towards 1880, when the French professors endeavoured to formulate a secular morality, they said something like this: God is a useless and costly hypothesis, so we will do without it. However, if we are to have morality, a society and a law-abiding world, it is essential that certain values should be taken seriously; they must have an a priori existence ascribed to them. It must be considered obligatory a priori to be honest, not to lie, not to beat one’s wife, to bring up children and so forth; so we are going to do a little work on this subject, which will enable us to show that these values exist all the same, inscribed in an intelligible heaven although, of course, there is no God.”

“Dostoevsky once wrote: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted”; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.”

Jean Paul Sartre – Existentialism is a Humanism

Christopher Hitchen's debating his brother Peter Hitchens. The debate can be found here

Peter Hitchens when he speaks of an “absolute good which atheism denies” he is of course right. To use this is an argument (as it often is) against atheism is like objecting to gravity's existence because no gravity would be more fun. The realisation of the way the world is should precede the implications not visa versa.

Christopher Hitchens when asked where atheists can derive an idea of absolute right and wrong said “human solidarity.” To say that ethics are made objective by the fact that an almighty creature powerful has told you what to do patently infantile, like following big brother because he can put you in room 101 if you don't do as he says... the idea that “human solidarity” is the root of objective ethics is to base “absolute good” upon the behaviour of sheep.

Satrian existentialism does not evade the question of “as arbitrary collections of atoms is there an objective way in which atoms should rightly formulate?” Scientific Materialists as the “new atheists” are they surely they would accept this conception of our existence as a “thing that thinks” but have not accepted its full implications. Dostoevsky wrote “without God anything is permitted” and as Sartre put it “man is condemned to freedom.”

To help your fellow man is a choice not an obligation, Peter Hitchens says

“there is no basis for things such as selfless courage, which have absolutely no objective self interested justification”

Peter Hitchen's argument seems to be condensible to “there is no basis for selflessness as there is no selfish reason selflessness.” The idea that threat of punishment or reward from the “celestial dictator “ as Christopher Hitchens calls him is the only reason one could have for selflessness (if we ignore this paradoxical relationship) is punishment of hell or heaven seems highly cynical. Bob Geldoff is an outspoken atheist and yet one of the third world greatest advocates of charity an altruism on its part.

Thousands of years of athiests fighting their philosophical corner and for what? Interlectual mastabation?, “Imagine no religion” That's all it will ever be a hypothetical world for intellectuals to debate the rights and wrongs of. My Facebook religious views column used to say “Richard Dawkin's I'm your biggest fan but if I say I'm an atheist I can't wangle out of it if God exists” I was a member of the group “if I wasn't an atheist I would think Richard Dawkins was God.” If Russell, Freud and Darwin weren't going to convince the world to give up religion then I'm sorry Mr Dawkin's I don't think you will either but you will probably sell allot of books.

Meanwhile in the real world of suffering, war, starvation, terrorism and environmental devastation there are both atheists and theists willing to step up and stop it or ignore it and perpetuate it. One must ask whether to judge on what people believe or what they do? This isn't to say there is no link but you will find atheists and theists on both sides of almost every important political question of our time, questions concerning the the very continuation of the species. Whether you value the continuation of the species and of the world itself is your choice and yours alone.