31 March 2010

Peace for Beginners by Ian Kellas - review by Brian Attwood

Ian Kellas’ Peace for Beginners, success in the excellent Writers and Readers series and proof that, in today’s world, comic books are a more effective medium than catechism lessons.

There is a danger with this kind of presentation that complex issues will be over-simplified, yet the author handles his subject so that the format enhances the argument and never debases it. Kellas is refreshingly original in his treatment, pinpointing the contradictions within peace movements and identifying non-violence firmly among mainstream beliefs,

Any discussion on human behaviour comes down to a question of nature versus nurture. Is violence instinctive or man-made? Ethnology provides many examples sufficiently explain the distinct character of human violence, ‘humans with their practices of mass murder are different. They have an element of choice’.

Why, given the choice, do we consistently opt for violent solutions? Because the way in which choice is conditioned - by attitudes, values and social organisation - has led to a common tendency to form exclusive groups and to seek power over others. Ironically, conflict is only exacerbated by human ingenuity - excused in terms of religion or politics, made more effective through technological advances.

Does this mean non-violence and political power are impossible to reconcile? Kellas’ potted history reveals that when religious-based peace movements came into contact with the state the result was less of an accommodation than a hijack by opportunist rulers. Ambiguous doctrines which recognised ‘we shall always see Truth in fragments and from different angles’ (Gandhi) were open to cynical manipulation. even the justification of war. Hence the spectacle of Gandhi’s funeral, when the prophet of non-violence was carried to his burial on a gun carriage and his assassin hanged.

If divine intervention failed to bring peace on earth, science and the age of enlightenment did little better, The idea that Society could be governed by rules akin to Natural law led to a belief that rational government would end such irrational activities as war, allowing free trade between nations to continue unhindered. However the utilitarians’ ‘business as usual’ approach overlooked the fact that warfare was as much the concern of industrialists as of princes. Today the human obsession with groups and power continues unabated, except the groups are larger and the stakes much higher.

Superficially, Peace for Beginners is a fun book designed to whet the reader’s appetite. Yet the real value of the book is not the superb graphic work but the written content. Perhaps because history favours victors rather than losers it is too easy to forget the contribution to non-violence made by its early proponents. This in turn has allowed critics to misrepresent today’s peace campaigners as cranky or alien to tradition. Ian Kellas has done his bit to set the picture right and to provoke questions rather than provide answers to the present nuclear threat.

Brian Attwood

28 March 2010

The Podcast Four (episode 8 fucking teen, that's an adult!)

This week the discussion basis was, “Learning With George.” George is learning and almost teaching, Dom was angry, and we have another new special Guest, Marcus, together they discussed stuff.

Topics discussed;

The Guest, talk to who? Jack Black’s trick, White Stripes?Drug refute, Peter kay was funny once, Jason Mansfield the diet Coke of comedy, the Guiness Cold of Guiness, past guest quick story, cross who? Snaring tail, iPhone iSouras, eyeBleeds, reviewing stories, pen time, George’s retardation, Ben email time, actual genius moment and plea, bit o’ soccer, George’s lie came true, LIEbrary, Northern, Mac Cunts, Scat-eo, BBFee 1, George waffles into the unknown, research - love that, sporting reference, serious section, he/she story, Slagathor to bikini line, keep it clean, George’s bathroom break, baking Bacon, drugs init, Dyer again, 19 is still a teenager, trendy Dave, Georg’s rage, end.

Cheers Dom. Drumming is banned from this moment, unless I have a breakdown.

26 March 2010

I Love the NHS staff

I need to be clear about this one before any reader thinks I'm talking about the many attractive nurses in equally fetching uniforms. I'm not, although, of course, one must appreciate this form of public service. What I'm talking about is the brilliant staff I have come across over the past 13 months, but in particular, my experience yesterday at the Royal Liverpool University hospital. Administrators, receptionists, nurses, surgeons, consultants, professors, porters, kitchen staff, cleaners and doctors. I have probably come into contact with a thousand staff, and I can count on one finger the number of people who have caused me any kind of negative feelings whatsoever. 

Yesterday was fantastic, I was made to feel welcome, at ease and in one case, in hysterics from the nurse running the scanning machine; he informed me I should be spending my hospital visits in Yorkshire, not Merseyside, and that I should get onto my local councilor to ask him why they haven't built any hospitals in my area yet. Cheeky git. 
Thank you.

23 March 2010

Its been a while... Internet free lifestyle.

Nearly multiple weeks since a post. What on earth has been going on? I have had NO internet for over a week, it was like a trip back to 2003. I felt lifeless. How do people exist without it? Honestly though, it was quite revealing at times, I spent far more 'proper' time with my Son. Not looking at the latest post or tweet or result or analysis, just playing indoor cricket, love it. It will continue, and I have learnt my lesson.

Check this out for brilliant blogging while I was 'away'.

10 March 2010

Your neighbour is a terrorist according to Talksport

Fucking fuckers.

Newsroom: *Breaking News* Some bullshit happening somewhere

Jon Venables: Psychiatric report

“The initial issue that needs to be considered concerns the possible risks to the public should Jon be released now. In my opinion, the risks now are so negligible as to not amount to a serious consideration. The main reasons for that view are as follows.
First, Jon’s behaviour during the entire period at Red Bank has never given rise to concerns regarding significant violence to other people. There was only one episode that might give rise to any concern and that involved a rather minor episode of throwing of batteries. That was several years ago. The nine incidents recorded in 1999 nearly all involved swearing or verbally abusive behaviour and none of the incidents gave rise to the need for either restraint or segregation.
Second, especially during the last two years, Jon’s style of interaction with other people (staff and peers) has been harmonious, non-provocative and not attracting provocation from others. Third, Jon’s increasing mobility outside the unit over the last two years has given rise to no concerns . . . about his behaviour. Fourth, there is nothing in Jon’s personality functioning . . . to suggest any risks of violence. Fifth, although the killing of James Bulger was a particularly horrific act, it had not been preceded by any indication of sadistic or violent tendencies to either other people or to animals. Sixth, Jon has made exceptional psychological progress over the last two years, has gained considerable maturity and responsibility, and is realistic in his appraisal of the past, the present and the future. All the evidence with respect to past risk factors, current risk factors, and behaviour during recent years indicates that the risks to the public are so trivial that, strictly in relation to that perspective, immediate release would be justified.”
“First, although the crime was an exceptionally horrific one, it was, perhaps surprisingly, an isolated episode that did not occur in the context of a more prolonged exhibition of violent or sadistic behaviour. Second, the 18-year-old of today is a very different individual from the 10-year-old who committed the crime. Third, from the point of view of Jon Venables’ rehabilitation, the rapid and very substantial progress over the last two years makes it an urgent matter to have an early, and finite, end to the tariff with the question of release being considered in relation to parole in the usual way.”
I conclude that Jon has reached the psychological maturity now to be able to cope with release . . . Jon has had very limited opportunities to exercise responsibility and no opportunities to test his ability to cope when not supervised. In my view, it is an extremely urgent matter to move swiftly to a plan of graded rehabilitation designed to enable him to cope with release . . . It is difficult to put a precise time frame on the process but something of the order of 12 months is likely to be required.”“The changes in Jon’s behaviour since I interviewed in late 1997 are extremely striking. At that time . . . he had made great progress but he was very dependent on staff (so that, for example, he did not want me to interview him without his key worker being present), he readily withdrew into a posture of social anxiety and communicative mumbling in group situations, and he found it quite difficult to talk openly about both the past and future, although he did so with encouragement . . . He is now much more mature, much more forthright and realistic about both the past and the future, much more relaxed in his social interactions, much more insightful into both his own behaviour and the response of others to what had happened, and much more realistic about the remaining tasks to be dealt with. Both Jon and the staff report his marked uncertainty and anxiety with respect to his first forays outside Red Bank, and the huge progress that has been made in gaining confidence in dealing with the outside world . . . He has dealt very well with the range of different outings that have been permitted under the present mobility regulations . . .
“The next question is whether, when Jon is released, it would be appropriate for him to return to his biological family. Clearly it would. Whatever the family difficulties preceding the offence, the family have been quite exceptionally cohesive, supportive and constructively realistic over the whole period of time when Jon has been at Red Bank . . .
Both parents have exhibited strain . . . despite all this, they show every evidence of being strongly, and unequivocally, committed to Jon and utterly realistic in the huge challenges that remain for all of them to deal with in enabling him to be rehabilitated.”
“It is crucial that Jon be able to encounter, and deal with, an increasingly wide range of real life situations requiring responsibility and decision-making and to do so with a carefully graded reduction of supervision. My strong recommendation is that the current requirement of a 2:1 arrangement for mobility outside the immediate local area be withdrawn and replaced by a 1:1 arrangement . . .
It will be necessary . . . to further diminish supervision and then periods of unsupervised activities in the community before total release . . .
Both Jon and his parents have aspirations for him to attend university but his exam record so far, together with the assessments of his educational supervisors . . . indicate that this may prove to be too ambitious. Jon has done exceptionally well, very much to his credit, and further education is both desirable and fully justified. A college placement providing training in information technology would probably be most appropriate in relation to Jon’s skills and interests.”
“Jon has reached an age that is approaching the upper limit for young people normally accommodated at Red Bank. Nevertheless, my strong recommendation is that he should remain there up until the point of his release . . .
The relationships that he has formed with staff provide much the best basis for him to attain independence and autonomy to move into the outside world . . .
Two alternatives need to be considered. The first, that he move to a young offenders’ institution. I can see no advantages in such a move . . . It would undoubtedly make rehabilitation very much more difficult, it would introduce an inappropriate element of punishment in adult life for a crime committed nearly half a lifetime ago (in relation to Jon’s age) and it would introduce the huge risks of placing Jon in a social environment with major risks for pressures for him to engage in both criminal activities and the taking of drugs . . .
In my view . . . this would be a disastrous move that would provide a very major setback to the hugely important gains of the last few years.”
“A more reasonable alternative would be for a move to a residential, custodial, setting that provided a stage between the high security of Red Bank and the total openness of placement in the community.”
“The Jon Venables of today is a very different person to the Jon Venables aged 10. It has been a very important part of his rehabilitation so far that he has come to terms in a wholly realistic way with the awfulness of his behaviour eight years ago . . .
Similarly, I think that it has been very advantageous for him to accept the benefits of going under his own name at Red Bank and having to cope with the reactions of other people to what he did when much younger . . .
At this point, it is crucial for his rehabilitation that he be able to make a clean start. There are no significant risks to the public in his doing that and there are huge benefits to him in being given the opportunity to make a success of such rehabilitation . . .
Of all the risks in relation to his future rehabilitation, those that surround the possibility of identification are the greatest.”
“The last point to consider is the degree of likelihood that Jon could make a successful rehabilitation in order to live independently in the community. The . . . research evidence that is relevant . . . is extremely limited, if only because of the rarity of individuals who kill as children. Nevertheless, for the reasons given in the body of this report, I think that the chances of successful rehabilitation in Jon’s case are very high. That judgment is, however, strictly contingent on it being possible to undertake the process of further rehabilitation along the lines indicated above and on his being protected for the future with respect to identification. If either were not possible, the risks would inevitably be substantially greater — not for further violence of the kind similar to the original crime but rather for social maladaptation and serious psychological difficulties.”
Further reading from the UCC Law society

09 March 2010

I want Swine-flu (Genius. Funny. Great website.)

From here. Genius. 

I just deleted my mom's number from my cell phone. That's because she called me in a panic after seeing a special on CNN about swine flu asking me what she should do. How about getting a clue, mom? Idiot.

You're all idiots. If you've spent more than a few minutes worrying about swine flu, you are an idiot. That's because it only takes a few minutes to look up the symptoms, mortality rate, and treatment to realize that it's no different from the common flu (which kills way more people and by extension is way more awesome), and going back to whatever it is you were doing, which was probably turning off CNN and canceling your cable subscription. In fact, worrying at all makes you an idiot. Why worry? Cowards worry and there is a 100% overlap between people who worry and people who regularly make cowardly decisions. That's why natural disasters kick so much ass. You never really know when they're going to hit, so you might as well let go and stop being such a scared pussy all the time. You'll cross the bridge of death when you get to it. Time to start taking risks, asshole! Quit your job. Quit answering your boss' calls during your time off. Go do something with your life. Jesus!
Which leads me to why swine flu is stupid. If I were to worry about anything—and I don't—swine flu would be pretty near the bottom of the list. Here's a list of things that are a higher priority of things to worry about: 

See no difference? That's because there is no difference. Quit closing schools down every time someone gets swine flu, morons!
The problem isn't swine flu, but people talking about it (this article withstanding, because I'm the exception to every rule, that rule withstanding). Remember SARS? More bullshit. Fewer than 800 people died from it world wide. Yet the news networks prattled on about it for months. 

Take one traumatised child, classify as 'adult', arrest, lock up, and bundle onto plane, bound for danger - Labour's Britain in 2010

Clare Sambrook8 March 2010
He looks my age,’ says my nine-year-old son. ‘He looks sort of like me.’
There’s a picture on my screen: a small, slight boy who, for legal reasons, we’ll call M. He’s being cuddled by his 17 year old big brother Z. Both boys are smiling. They have been reunited after a long, hard separation.
Back home in war-torn Afghanistan their parents and a sister were killed. Big brother Z was first to come to Britain, traumatised, in November 2008. He has refugee status, studies for his GCSEs at school in Leicester.
This past October little brother M made his way here. Despite M’s size, his vulnerability, his boyish looks, officials said, you’re not 14, you’re an adult.
Instead of being taken into care, M was bounced around between three different adult hostels and a house-share with older men — and refused asylum.
Welsh Refugee Council staff were baffled and concerned. To them he looked every inch a traumatised boy.
Across the Afghani community and Red Cross networks, word rippled out: a boy called M badly needs to find his big brother Z.

A picture of M
The boy on the right: jailed in adult cell, transported
by caged van, booked as an adult onto flight into
war zone

The boys were reunited in February — and just in time, for if the big brother was, by official assent, just 17, then surely it must follow that the younger, smaller, slighter brother must be... younger.
M’s solicitor told his UKBA case-worker the good news and made an appointment. ‘I felt relieved,’ says Sabina Hussain, Welsh Refugee Council’s child advocacy officer, ‘I was looking forward to some stability for the brothers, and reuniting them for good.’
Last Monday, a bright, sunny St David’s Day morning, Sabina went with M to help him lodge his fresh asylum claim at the Border Agency’s Cardiff office.
M was arrested, and locked up in Cardiff Bay Police Cells, in extreme distress, dwarfed in man-sized padded clothing to protect him from self-harm. His seat was booked on a flight bound for Afghanistan, Tuesday 9 March.
In the dark early hours of Tuesday 2nd March, M was taken with an adult detainee by caged van on the 109 mile journey from Cardiff to Oxfordshire and Campsfield House, an adult detention facility run by the government’s commercial partner Serco. He shared a dormitory with seven men.
Welsh Refugee Council instructed solicitors, spearheaded an emergency campaign. Concerned citizens lobbied MPs and the Home Office. On Thursday morning, just days before the flight, Sabina said: ‘M is crying, “please help me, I'm scared, this place is no good, no sleep, no eat, I want my brother”. We are gravely concerned for his welfare.’
Solicitors appealed to the High Court to block M’s deportation. Sabina joined him in Campsfield House to await the Court’s decision.
Meanwhile, up in Glasgow, university professor Alison Phipps was asking friends to testify that she and her husband Robert Swinfen love their foster daughter Rima, that she loves them and that Rima really is 17, and not, as the authorities insist, over 20.
Fleeing religious persecution in Eritrea, shipwrecked off Italy, Rima Andmariam had sheltered in a derelict Milan squat, gone hungry, lost a finger, made her way to Britain and Cardiff — aged 15, according to her papers which Cardiff UKBA and social services refused to accept, insisting she was an adult.
Rima fled, moved from house to house, lived rough until twelve months ago when Alison and Robert took her in as their natural daughter. In May last year Rima was seized and locked up in Dungavel, a former prison.
When Rima’s solicitor lodged an application for judicial review, the Border Agency swept her out of its range, taking her 356 miles south by caged van to Yarl’s Wood, Serco’s notorious Bedfordshire detention centre. Another application for review, deportation averted. After seven days in Yarl’s Wood Rima was home again.
And then, last month, the day after Valentine’s Day, the government told Rima she would be forcibly deported to Italy within weeks. The family campaigns vigorously for clemency, fearing that each new dawn will bring the Border Agency’s arrest squad to their door.
Last Thursday afternoon the Hon Mr Justice Cranston stayed M’s deportation, ordered UKBA to free him and instructed Cardiff Council to provide accommodation suitable for a 14 year old boy, pending a full judicial review hearing. That night an exhausted M was released from Campsfield, driven back to Cardiff and placed with foster carers.
M’s fate and Rima’s hang in the balance — here, in Britain, a country where asking for sanctuary is a right, not a crime, and where, according to the government, every child matters.
This article is published by Clare Sambrook, and openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons licenceYou may republish it without needing further permissionwith attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. These rules apply to one-off or infrequent use. For all re-print, syndication and educational use please see read our republishing guidelines or contact us. Some articles on this site are published under different terms. No images on the site or in articles may be re-used without permission unless specifically licensed under Creative Commons.

This isn't about justice for James

* taken from the brilliant new 'Northernbloke' blog

This article is an exception, sadly, to the tirade of lynch-mob baiting that pours from every outlet of media reporting at the moment.

"There was something tangibly ghastly about James Bulgers murder. I was 13 when he was killed on a railway line in a grim estate in Liverpool, and I remember it well. How could two kids do the things they did? Snarling adults pounding at steel mesh windows of a police Transit Van, trying to get at two 10 year old boys inside. The incendiary headlines like the "Star" offering 20 grand to "snare the bastards who slaughtered Jamie", and the Expresses "Monsters", and the infamous grainy CCTV footage of the two boys luring him to his fate. We have a strange dual standard about children in the UK. On the one hand, as a glance at any of the obituaries to dead children, whether Baby P, or yet another hit and run victim, will show -there's talk of angels in heaven, and innocent tots full of love. But then we are castigated by Time magazine for deliberately alienating and fearing our bling crusted, and hoodie wearing teenagers. It is perhaps not too much of a stretch to say that some of the visceral hatred directed towards them was because they shone a dark and shattered mirror in the publics face about something we don't want to see. Pre teen childhood violence. It lead to much soul searching. How do we square that two boys brutally killed a toddler in such a hideous manner, with the circle of the presumption of childhood innocence, and how they could be judged by adult standard. It created a debate on criminality that has never been adequately settled, and still stirs up strong emotions even today, as we have seen*." 

continued on this link

George said:

I wish I got to read articles of this nature in the press - some form of counter-balance to pre-baiting, the pre-stoking and if the tabloids continue in this vain future-lynching of John Venables.

"...they shone a dark and shattered mirror in the publics face about something we don't want to see. Pre teen childhood violence. It lead to much soul searching."

I was a similar age when it happened, and had many arguments over the attachment of blame. Responsibility, knowing right from wrong, but, for me, the crucial extension to that, the sliding scale of right and wrong. They knew it was wrong - but as ten year-old's - did they know the true consequences. The lifelong pain it causes to his family. Is it possible to rehabilitate that level of apparent apathy. Other European nations refuse to acknowledge criminal responsibility in a criminal court until the age of 16. Before that, the only option is intensive rehabilitation, 'another chance', in essence.

Why do we, as a society, seem to want this murder justified with the potential death of the two children who did it? How would three dead children be a 'better' outcome than one? Spending huge amounts of money - to try the hardest - but truly civilised path of rehabilitation; is a greater reflection on our society. If Jon Venables never spends a day in free society again, I really couldn't care less, I have no sympathy. It's societies reaction that is the key, if we can 'create' ten-year-old murderers, how? What should we change? How should we report it? How should we deal with them?

"It created a debate on criminality that has never been adequately settled, and still stirs up strong emotions even today, as we have seen."

Tough choices. Tough progress. Tough debate. That is the only answer, the hard choices. The hard work. Not, as the tabloids want, the easy, caveman, unthinking, emotional lynch mob. Two more murders - by 'the crowd' - that is progress. Justice. Grab your pick-axe, we have got a cave to build. 

07 March 2010

Democracy in Iraq?

Are we finally going to start to see some progress in Iraq? Another election, another set of inevitable attacks, probably to be followed by allegations of corruption and vote rigging, a sham election, just to prop up a puppet cherry picked by the US administration. 

Nonsense. Look at the quote from Walid Abid, also check out this quote:

"I am not scared and I am not going to stay put at home," said Abid, who owns a cafe. "Until when? We need to change things. If I stay home and not come to vote, Azamiyah will get worse." 

Does that not (and please don't believe I supported this illegal invasion for one second) illustrate the wonderful effect democracy* can have. How the Iraqi people are, for all this conflict's failings, trying to embrace democracy. That all those civilian deaths listed in the pretty graph** above are not for nothing. 

*any person considering not voting in the upcoming General Election should seriously have a rethink. How much we take our society for granted. How apathetic can a nation become? (over a third choose, on a consistent basis, not to vote at all.) And please don't suggest that this group of people are somehow 'protesting' by not voting at all. The vast majority have no passion for the vote, no passion for democracy any more and probably no passion for the society around them. Oh the beauty of Western liberal democracy. 

** The "beauty of Western liberal" democratic media reporting surfaces its ugly head. A lovely pretty graph to illustrate the civilian deaths. Oh look, it goes up in the middle, it was really bad then you know. And then what? It falls, progress you see. A lovely pretty graph to measure death, innocent deaths, civilian deaths. Not only that - look at the smaller word, the killer word, the slightly less bold font than the other words - 'thousands'. So the lovely, pretty, purple up-and-down graph, with the numbers 1,2,3 and 4 running up the left, has a whole different meaning when your eyes scan up the left side of the graph. All those pretty purple bars, are thousands and thousands and thousands of dead, innocent people. You wouldn't know that from all the 'prettiness' though, would you? 

Also read this, Iraqis defy intimidation to vote, attacks kill 36

The Podcast Four - George's Features

Podcast 15! Fucking 15! How many? Yes... fif...bloody...teen! 

This week the discussion basis was, “George‘s Features.” George decided he should be in charge of a podcast, so came in the studio with a list of features, Dom was angry, together, they discussed George’s features.

Topics discussed;

Our best opening, it was brilliant, 1st timers, coffee explained, few features, choke him out, sarcasm in voice, NY Gay, Dan’s gang history, emotional Vs physical scarring, it can be both, build the rage, Glen Beck’s progress cancer, Google it Glen, OLIGARH, wasn’t a John Stewart impression so, racist accent, No 1 fan again, Che Chevara was a good team, worlds best headline, CSI lie, random-wiki-5, status fun with music, assume a month, Alicia Keys love in, Talent - no contest, $ stumps George, random music, radio spaz spaz, ‘94 chart lies, old doesn’t mean classic, NME subscription cancelled, Dom pauses for a lie, stop lying mum, “Fuck I bought Boyzone”, NEXT, Dom rage, NEXT, U.F.No, alien day trip to Manchester, leave the crops you cunt, Dom and George swap impressions, end.

Cheers Dom. I love reading these on a Sunday morning. It's like a blast from the past even though it was only a couple of weeks ago. I'm like, oh yeah, bloody hell yeah, of course, I remember that, as if, can't wait to listen to radio spaz spaz... 

06 March 2010

US facing rise in right-wing extremists.

Forget Islamic terrorists, Osama-bin-Laden, North Korean dictatorships or Iranian nuclear proliferation - in the USA - a huge increase in right-wing 'patriot' groups and militias have alerted law enforcement agencies since the election of Barack Obama.  

According to the Guardian these groups are 'armed and angry', and are encouraged by the "increasing propagation of conspiracy theories by parts of the mass media such as Fox News." 

"The SPLC has identified 512 groups, including "patriots" and militias, which it accuses of pushing extreme anti-government doctrines or promoting political conspiracy theories. It says that many are not directly involved in violence but help feed extremism.

States with several groups include: Texas (52 groups including American Patriots for Freedom Foundation, Central Texas Militia, Texas Well Regulated Militia); Michigan (47 including Northern Michigan Backyard Protection Militia); California (22 including State of California Unorganized Militia, Northern California State Militia, American Armenian Militia, Freedom Force International); Indiana (21 including Indiana Sedentary Militia, Indiana Citizens Volunteer Militia, 3rd Brigade); New York (17 including Empire State Militia); Oregon (14 including Oregon Militia Corps) and Kentucky (13 including Kentucky State Militia – Ohio Valley Command)."
Do you suppose this will be the 'breaking news' on Fox News? Will this be a huge concern to the right-wing propagandists of Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly? I doubt it. Like I said before, it just doesn't fit the narrative.
(Some other examples from the UK and Europe found on this blog.)

04 March 2010

Science, Evolution and Creationism (2008)


How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.
In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.
Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.
Thanks to oleuanna for twitter flag-up. Or check out her blog

It's a free book. Why wouldn't you want to read it? 

03 March 2010

Respect for the recently dead

Let me start by admitting my hypocrisy. I have wished death on Margaret Thatcher many times, without any level of regret or reconsideration. Until now. I hate her, everything she stands for, everything she led her party to change. The communities she destroyed, the industries she closed down, the individual lives she wrecked - all with her 'modernising' alliance with the economic liberalism of the Reagan era. None of this matters. I was wrong. I don't want her to die. I will never wish that on anyone, again, as hard as that might be, although I can't promise or predict the future.

Why the change of heart? The reaction of certain individuals to the death of Michael Foot today. Simple. Yes, all the comments and posts are made by nameless retards. Yes, they have been wishing a painful death on our current Prime Minister for years. Yes, the vast majority of them, as right-wingers, would consider 'principled idealism' as alien to them as collective trade unionism. The vile, abusive, vitriolic hatred typed by these specimens of pure shit , beggars belief. If they said these things in the street - and my words 'they' complain constantly about broken Britain and the lack of respect coming from the youth of today - they would rightly be arrested or condemned. Anyway, my days of entering 'the spirit of virtual assassinations' and 'abusive comment scraping' are over. So are my days of wishing death on Margaret. I hope she enjoys her last few years, and in the spirit of optimism, joins the Labour movement with Carol and helps bring down the next Conservative government. Good old Maggie...

Two hours from London (part five) - narrated by Michael Foot.

(all on You Tube)

I have posted the final part because of the emotion and conclusion of Michael Foot. It is horrific to watch.

RIP Michael Foot (1913-2010) A true socialist, true to himself and the movement

The way the Murdoch press treated him was an absolute disgrace. If only he had won in 1983. If only... A man who took such awful criticism from both sides of the house, usually hidden away with conspiracy, but always managed to stick to his beliefs, his principles and that of the movement. If only we had more politicians like him. True socialist, true speaker, true principles, true brilliance. You will be missed.

"I think the House of Lords ought to be abolished and I don't think the best way for me to abolish it is to go there myself" - On his departure from the House of Commons, 1992.

"Most liberties have been won by people who broke the law" -Interview in 1980.

"Socialism without public ownership is nothing but a fantastic apology" - In the Daily Herald, 1956.

This post, however, does far more justice to the man, more than I could ever wish to do - and is posted on Iain Dale's blog. Brian Brivati - brilliant words.

01 March 2010

Rupert Murdoch: The future of newspapers

From the Hoover Institution and FORA.tv

He talks nonsense. Was this whole issue a set-up to push his agenda? Does he really believe it is possible to charge for online newspaper content? Can't wait for him go bankrupt... yes I am dreaming, but hope is the only way.