Archive for the ‘Grumbles’ category

Am I bothering someone’s god?

May 30, 2011

Yesterday my wife and I were walking through a popular local park with our two rather large and very dopey/friendly dogs, enjoying the sunshine and trying to teach the dogs a little about self-control when they encounter other dogs. There was some kind of large group of families in the park area and rather pleasingly, at different times we had groups of kids run up to us and ask to pet the dogs. We love kids and we are proud of our dogs so of course it was fine for them to say hi and we enjoyed the youngsters enjoying the goofy friendly mutts.

Both of us were, therefore, slightly surprised to be handed individual copies of the new testament by the children – and apropos of nothing whatsoever (it seems the large group was a church outing). Of course the kids were just doing what they had been told or programmed to do, and so we had no problem with them doing so, however on principle I find this kind of thing rather annoying.

I am very happy to share our public spaces with people of whatever belief or non-belief, but the handing out of religious material is taking ‘sharing’ too far. I neither ask for, nor implicitly welcome anybody patronisingly giving me their religious propaganda. In this case the kids are possibly required to do so by the adults, or taught to do so as a merit-gaining exercise in the eyes of their deity. No doubt the adults know that it’s hard to tell a kid that their gift is not welcome. Sadly it was a waste of resources and the bundle of paper was tossed into the recycling at the first opportunity.

I wonder what would happen to me if I had approached the children or adults with a leaflet extolling the virtues of agnosticism or atheism? It won’t happen beacuse I don’t believe I have the right to make the kinds of assumptions about other people’s beliefs which entitle me to press my message into their hands. I don’t bother them or their god(s), so why should I allow them to bother me with their stuff? There is, in my mind, no difference between being harrassed this way or being harrassed by a group of noisy protesters – both are intrusive and unwelcome.

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It’s hard to avoid this topic

May 7, 2011

It seems like the subject of OBL’s death is everywhere right now and it’s difficult to turn a newspaper page or open a news website without having the story slap me round the face and tweak my nose, then run away laughing after ringing my doorbell. Frankly I find it all very predictable – America’s quite obscene national triumphalism over killing one man, the garbled ‘facts’ issued by publicity-addicted state departments, and now the whole circus of ‘experts’ and pundits who will continue to make money from endlessly arguing points about the killing, all of which have a simple resolution when common sense is applied. There are so many elements to this whole thing that make me shake my head, but just some of the issues are experienced by me as follows;

  • OBL was undoubtedly an enemy of the US. His views were contentious but by no means unique, however his methods were of course totally reprehensible and without any ethical foundation. He should have been brought to justice.
  • OBL has long been held ‘responsible’ for 9/11, however I would be interested to know what the trail of evidence is which linked him to the attrocities of that day – in other words, exactly what role did he play? I still don’t know any evidenced details and perhaps now is when we should be hearing the full story. Let’s hear what he did to make 9/11 happen.
  • The raid in Pakistan was without doubt an assassination mission, clear and simple. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck…etc. Claims that it was anything else are an insult to the intelligence.
  • What the hell was the Pakistan government thinking? That nobody would find out? Stupid, duplicitous and immoral. The Pakistan people have the right to ask some very difficult questions.
  • Assassinations carried out by nation states are no less an act of murder than when committed by individuals or private groups. The USA’s interests do not transcend morality.
  • Based on the sometimes sickening hype we are force-fed through Hollywood and the media about ‘Navy Seals’, what was so amazingly wonderful in military terms about attacking a civilian compound with three or more helicopters full of ‘super soldiers’, being fired on by only one man, and killing an unarmed man in his bedroom? Apparently he was a genuine military combatant and therefore ‘killable’ – unarmed in his bedroom. Does this mean that anyone who has committed crimes of terrorism is not entitled to a trial? There are dangerous precedents and principles at play here…Overwhelming force was successfully applied and still the guy was shot because he allegedly resisted (or somehow demonstrated that he wasn’t happy with the idea) arrest? Come on! I think the US has brought into the light something which civilized society cannot allow.
  • Why did the US not want this man to go to trial and allow the law to deal with his crimes if the evidence was sound? There are many theories about what the US didn’t want aired in public, many of which are compelling, even more so in the light of this result. Shooting him because he would have been a difficult prisoner politically is out and out murder.
  • Any country which views itself as ‘exceptional’ must in my opinion enshrine the rule of law in its words and actions. For many decades now the US has said one thing and yet done another in the name of its own interests and the much vaunted ‘national security’, which seems to be the umbrella justification for anything, including covert CIA disruption of entire nations’ political systems, propogating violent revolution (how many civilian deaths?) and going to open war halfway around the world to ‘protect’ themselves (how many more civilian deaths dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ in the questionable pursuit of national security?). The raid to kill OBL (and those words paraphrase Obama’s, which is a little chilling) is an example of a country operating outside of international law and is no different in principle than an act of terrorism.
  • The US is an intimidating power right now. As a nation they seem incapable (or more likely are unwilling) of looking within and finding fault. As a result they seem blind to the open fact that a great many people around the world distrust and even actively dislike the country as a direct result of its at times ridiculous foreign policies. First on the list of realizations for America must be that no country has a right to protect itself at any cost – to sanction that is to sanction a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, which would only lead to endless atrocities and war. Second on the list is the FACT that America is not an exceptional nation (nobody becomes something simply by repeatedly saying that they are) – at  least not in the way that is trumpeted so often. No nation so obssessively addicted to the almighty dollar has the right to occupy the global moral high ground – in fact no nation anywhere can do so. Crime rates, murder rates, drug company manipulations, health care scandals, almost a third of the population without health care…just a few examples of why USA exceptionalism is a lie. America, take a look at yourself and be honest!
  • OBL was wrong, the Taliban and Al Qeada are wrong –  they follow twisted self-serving philosophies disguised as religious fervour, and they cannot justify their methods with any arguments. Those methods are disgusting and evil and cannot be tolerated, but those who police must not descend into the same darkness or else there is no dividing line.
  • Policing terrorism necessarily involves the use of appropriate force. This example of state-sponsored assassination was a mistake and is a symptom of a broken political system that is desperate to tap into nationalistic zeal as the most powerful way to a voter’s heart. Justice – and national leaders in the 21st century should not be delivered from the muzzle of a gun.
  • I hope that ordinary Americans can come to a realization and break free from the brainwashing that tells them that the USA has some divine right to stride across the planet and violate national boundaries, disrupt other governments, create coups etc. etc..The rest of the world knows these to be falsehoods. Step to one side, take a look at yourselves and see how worship of the almighty dollar has taken your society and economy to the brink of collapse. Government is now conducted to appease the largest corporations rather than address the needs of the people. Ignore meaningless political nationalism and deal with the real issues – what the people deserve and need. Stop the nightmarish expenditure on paranoid defence policies and feed your children.

We are all allowed to have opinions, and my opinions do not exclude anyone else’s.

Whether weather…

May 3, 2011

I’m lately becoming increasingly curmudgeonly about our forecasters. The current pattern seems to be;

  • Forecasters predict weather for up to seven days in advance.
  • Only the next day following the forecast is likely to be even in the ball park .
  • Second day of seven day forecast will be amended on day one.
  • Each subsequent day bears no relationship to the original forecast.
  • By day three, a total revision of original forecast (with no mention of the original)
  • Forecasters present themselves every day on TV in chirpy denial of how their predictions have been totally arse.

I’m not a meteorologist and I understand that predicting weather involves the planet’s most powerful super computers to run the models. But if they don’t know what the weather is going to be, would they please just be honest about it?  I mean we have a cable channel entirely devoted to the weather, and even they get it wrong just as often! I have taken to the old seaweed outside the front door approach…