just an interesting, bbc related pbservation

I do not have much to blog about tonight, other than quite an interesting observation. I have been watching quite a bit of the bbc news channel recently, and I noticed today that at least two of their correspondents have a disability. Not just underlings either: their foremost military consultant, who they call on to speak on subjects like Afghanistan and Iraq, is a wheelchair user, and one of their foremost commentators on politics is blind. These are not just minor correspondents, but seem very much foregrounded in the BBC news. This is surely just another example of the beeb leading the way.

adress to a rightist

[I just wrote this for one of my online right-wing correspondants. I got carried awayy, but I think it would be kinda wasteful of me not to reprint it here. I hope she doesn’t mind]

There is nothing rational in the type of rancid politics you promote. If you were a rationalist as you claim to be, you would have realised that there is no ‘normal’ state for man, no fixed set of values and behaviours everyone must adhere to. You would also have realised that there is nothing tangible fixing a specific people to a specific place, and that the free-flow of people helps spread the exchanging and generation of ideas. You would have realised that it is liberalism, the ideology of acceptance and tolerance, which is the only truly rational ideology given that there is no normal state for humanity. Things like morality, ethnicity, gender and even intelligence are subjective values – there are no absolutes. The only ideology liberalism cannot tolerate is intolerance; this is it’s central paradox, but part of tolerance is the constant questioning of one’s own ideas and beliefs. Thus liberals accept there can be no objective truth, and reality is itself is contradictory. That is why the notion of ‘liberal fascism’ is so laughable. Right-wing ideologies lack this dynamic function, choosing only to believe in absolutes – good and bad, black and white and cannot therefore be said to be truly rational. I realise that this can make some uncomfortable, because it states that nothing is fixed, but when you try to be as objective as one can be, this is the only conclusion one can come to. Even the notion of rationality is a subjective concept, so you may be right after all, but to accept such a notion as the subjectivity of rationality is in itself liberal.

Far-right politics needs the Dawkins Treatment

It seems to me that, in a way, Anders Behring Breivik was right when he said he thought himself to be in a war, as there are indeed people in the world who seek to set up the Muslim state he fears. But, rather than all Muslims as he would have us believe, they are a very tiny minority, who, ironically, have views very similar to his. This is a war of intolerance against intolerance, right-wing nutter against right-wing nutter, with ‘normal’, moderate people caught in the middle. The problem is intolerance itself: extreme right-wing xenophobia which, almost ten years ago caused the 9/11 attacks and caused the attacks last week. They are two sides of the same coin, and unless something is done to stem this hatred more innocent people will die.

Of course, people have a right to speak as they will and believe what they whish, but if I started spouting things which are obviously untrue, and might actually harm people, I should be told to shut up. Parties like the BNP, EDL and UKIP, with their manifestos of xenophobia and ‘repatriation’ are part of this problem, helping perpetuate this insane war by preaching segregation and difference. They hide themselves hypocritically behind the freedom of speech, quite unable to back their views up with evidence, while all the time adding fuel to the fire of hatred. Meanwhile we liberals are stuck with Starbucks dilemma, unable to do or say anything while madmen steer us to our doom.

This must change. What Richard Dawkins has done to religion must now be done to extreme right-wing politics; they are, after all, pretty similar. Just as Dawkins, in The God Delusion and other books, laid bare the lack of logic behind religion, so must someone lay bare the lack of logic behind racism or ethnic prejudices. There may be absolutely no evidence for god, but there’s even less for racial differences. More to the point, whereas religion might be a force for good, racism is always destructive and so needs to be exploded once and for all. It’s time these far-right nut jobs were shown their mistakes and made to shut up, before the rest of us suffer even more for their intolerant lunacy.

Beat Science

I have finally got round to listening to Beat Science, music made my old university friend Chris Flackett and his friend Daniel Horton. To be honest, Chris has been asking to give it a listen for a while, but I’ve been putting it off, not knowing what to expect nor whether I’d be able to do it justice. However, I clicked the appropriate link this afternoon, and was instantly impressed. Chris is a very clever guy and a skilled wordsmith, and Daniel Horton has put his thought-provoking, angsty lyrics to some very cool tunes. Together, they form music which comments on the modern world; I like it very much, especially the cynicism directed at David CaMoron and his ‘big society’.

On the horror in oslo

Tonight I feel compelled to write something about the atrocity in Norway, but I don’t think I can. Like most people, I suspect, I can not understand what could bring a man to decide to cause so much suffering and grief. Most of all, I am struck with revulsion at his far-right, extremist politics; I see myself as a liberal who values multiculturalism and equality, and the idea that this man attacked such noble aims so violently fills me with fear. Most of all, though, I am horrified by the idea that this man had links with the English defence League: the leader of that organisation just appeared on Newsnight trying to distance himself from these attacks, but I remain unconvinced. It seems to me that they, as well as the BNP, share a type of xenophobia, directed especially at Islam, which, when placed in the mind of someone far enough unhinged, will always lead to atrocities like we saw in Oslo. I am horrified that anyone among their ranks could remotely justify such actions, as I saw earlier today, by suggesting that ” The fire should be turned on the liberals who allowed uncontrolled immigration to cause so much anxiety and hatred, and who even now refuse to deal with it”, the inference being that it is the liberals, whose ideals of tolerance and freedom of movement regardless of identity who are to blame for this massacre for causing such ‘anxiety’ in this madman.

tom’s stag bash

This morning I woke up and echoed a line once spoken by Frodo Baggins: ”Where am I, and what is the time?” for the first time in a year and a half, I could not roll over and hug Lyn, which made me rather sad. Yesterday was, however, a very cool day: my cousin Christina is marrying tom, whose stag do was yesterday. I’d seen he had posted an invitation on facebook to quite a few people, including myself and my brother Luke, and, thinking I’d only have a coupler of drinks with him then come home, I decided to go along.

A couple of drinks, however, turned into several very nice bottles of wine by the river, which then became my first visit to the dog racing, accompanied by several beers, which then became a visit to Tom’s friends place for a pizza. I rarely turn down a good party, and taking my leave of thee group halfway through would have been rude. By the time it was winding down, however, we were in Wimbledon, and a taxi fare across London at that time of night would have cost a bomb. That’s how, for the first time since I moved to London, I woke up without Lyn beside me, and it felt wrong.

I was also worried that Lyn didn’t know where I was. I vaguely remembered asking one of the guys with us to phone Paula to tell her to tell Lyn where I was, but I wasn’t sure. Thus, once I was awake, even though it was 7am and I’d only had hour hours’ sleep, I couldn’t drift back off. I also felt guilty for imposing myself on tom; I’d gone without a PA, expecting only a short trip, but that had turned into a full-blown overnight stay, so I vaguely remember tom trying to get my very drunk self into borrowed pyjamas at three this morning.

Apart from that, however, it had been an amazing night. I met a few of Tom’s friends, who, to a man, are a most excellent group. Having a flutter on the dogs was great fun, although we didn’t win much. Tom accompanied me home on the tube this lunchtime, and my parents were rather surprised to see him appear with me on Skype, much to our amusement. Right now, though, I’m knackered and probably in need of a bath. What a weekend!

sherlock

I watched Sherlock on Iplayer earlier. I started watching it on the telly last night, but decided to watch something else at nine. However, I was so taken by the half hour I did watch that I thought it well worth a proper reading. I was not disappointed: I thought it a masterful adaptation and modernisation of the original; I was extremely impressed with the writing, which has the subtlety and precision of a scalpel wielded by a master surgeon, yet wasn’t without humour. I was especially impressed with the characterisation of Holmes himself, which seemed both utterly modern yet retained something of the nineteenth century original. Making Watson into a blogger was a master stroke too. In all, it really was a damn fine bit of TV, and one I heartily recommend.

No longer reaching for the final frontier

Today saw the last space shuttle land for the last time, bringing to an end the shuttle project. I can’t help feeling pretty glum about it: of course, those machines were getting pretty old, but given NASA doesn’t have anything to go in it’s place, and given the financial positions of both Europe and Russia, it seems like mankind’s exploration of space has been put on hold. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved programmes like Star trek, portraying a future where we all explored space as one people. perhaps rather sillily, in a way I hoped that one day this would come true – my brothers and I played at flying around in space ships, exploring strange, new worlds. Now, reality has hit, and it would seem that economics has brought that dream to an end, for the foreseeable future, at least.

Yet, maybe one day, perhaps in fifty one years, seven months and fourteen days*, that dream will be reborn. Then, maybe, humanity will achieve her first, best, destiny, and we’ll leave the confines of our planet behind. If we don’t, we are forever doomed to bicker over resources which will grow sparser and sparser, ultimately wiping ourselves out. That’s why I’m so concerned about this halt in progress. You could argue that the billions of dollars spent on space exploration could be better spent on, say, finding new renewable energy sources or better crops, and it would be a good argument, but, in the long run, in terms of the future of the species, I really believe we need to spread out into the galaxy.

*feel free to check my maths

Godard article

Changing the subject slightly, those interested in cinema might be interested in this article on Godard. It’s only short, so it doesn’t go into too much depth, but it gives one a little insight into one of the last great auteurs; a person who saw film not just as a medium for telling stories and making money, but as the quintesential art form of the twentieth century.