The last truly great man

There are few men left in the world one can call great; few truly amazing people, leading remarkable lives. There are no Churchils or Hemingways – no men who, for all their flaws, captivate, fascinate and inspire. Perhaps their era is simply passed. Yet, there is one left: one man as great as any of history. David Attenborough inspires and fascinates me, as he does most people. It was great to see him back on tv last night. I find it remarkable how, even after sixty years on tv, he still presents the best things on the box. To me, he is a comforting, reassuring constant; a (grand)father figure, who, no matter where I am, I’ll always be able to find. Long may that continue.

Hawking gets everywhere

Stephen Hawking appears to be getting everywhere these days. First he appears on star trek; then he took centre stage at London’s paralympic opening ceremony. He has been on the Simpsons, the big bang theory, and, my personal favourite, Monty python live. There has very recently been a film released about him, my response to which can be read here; and now I hear he just filmed a sketch alongside David Walliams and Katherine Tate for comic relief. He is currently everywhere you look. I am in two minds about this: while it is great to have such a high profile disabled person out there, it could get too much, go too far and start looking like selfpublicity. The professor seems to be currently being wheeled out at every opportunity, like some symbol or totem of human greatness. Yet he is not a symbol but a man, and should be seen as any other human. Besides, what with all these media appearances, it’s a wonder the dude has time to do any physics research.

Defending Katie Price

I would count myself a negligent blogger if I didn’t direct you to this fascinating and wise Guardian article. It defends the right of Katie Price to have services for her severely disabled son paid for by the state. People have apparently been up in arms on social media about it, screaming their tiny little brains out that Price can afford to pay for such things herself. Yet, as the article points out, the point of the welfare system etc is that it is universal, there for all; as soon as we start begrudging it to certain people, we start down a path that ends in it’s complete collapse. Thus, the way in which everyone is now lining up to lambast price is symptomatic of a culture we’ve been lead into: a culture which scapegoats those who rely on benefits as scroungers and shirkers. In other words, Price is being used as a tool with which to make public enemies of those who cannot defend themselves. It’s the old ‘divide and rule’ ploy, and is indeed precisely what the nazis did in scapegoating minorities. Kate Price’s right to state help for her son must therefore be defended. After all, she presumably pays high-rate tax; if she contributes to the economy that way, she has the same right to state help as any other member of society.

One thing about WW2 history which puzzles me

In all the current talk of the holocaust, I need to get off my chest that there is one thing that still puzzles me. If the nazis believed that what they were doing was right, why did they go to so much effort to hide it. I am not trying to deny that they are guilty of the crimes they are accused of – only a complete fool would attempt to do so – but it strikes me as odd that they would try to hide their crimes. To them, they were acting justly; they believed they were a master race trying to purify humanity. Why would they care what others thought? To A Nazi, only nazi opinions matter. Yet hiding their actions, not recording their murderous actions, implies they knew others would think what they were doing was wrong, and cared about what they thought. Why would a master race, arrogantly considering itself above all others, feel the need to hide its actions from those it considered inferior? Surely it would want to record what it saw as its glorious actions for posterity.

Restraining myself during PMQs

I did it! For the first time in a long while, I just sat through an entire prime ministers question time without shouting at the TV. It’s not that I didn’t want to – once again we had to endure the sickening sight of CaMoron refusing to answer for his misdeeds – but last week I got so agitated that Lyn told me off. ”Do you mind?” She said ”I’m eating!” This week, then, I made an effort to restrain myself, and apart from a yelp or two I think I succeeded. Yet it nevertheless demonstrates how frustrated I am with politics right now: so what, for instance, if Miliband said he wants to ‘weaponise’ the NHS? It is a major issue, and the Tories need to be held to account for the damage their top-down reorganisation has done to it. Labour has every right to use it as a subject with which to attack the current government.

There are ninety-nine days until we hopefully get rid of the Tories, lowering taxes while people starve; 99 days which can’t pass soon enough.

did DPAC go too far today?

Today, as we all know, marks seventy years since the liberation of the extermination camp at Aushvits. DPAC had a protest up at westminster o coincide with it, their aim being to draw parallels between what the NAZIs did and what our current government is doing, with it’s rather fascist-sounding ‘back to work scheme’ and so on. I was going to go, but left it too late to leave. Truth be told, though, I was in two minds as much as I hate this tory government, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t help thinking the protesters were using probably the most barbaric event in history for their own ends; almost usurping the suffering of others. Moreover, as vile as they are, the tories don’t deserve to be compared to the Nazis. While people are suffering and indeed dying under the tories, what is happening does not constitute the methodical extermination of an entire people. It was a bad move on our part, and probably made ‘us’ look childish, as much as I sympathise with the sentiment behind it.

Greek questions

As a blogger, political commentator and leftie, part of me knows I shoul write something about the Greek election. Of course I can quite understand why the Greek people voted as they did; truth be told I would probably have voted the same way. The Greeks were desparate, feeling humiliated – of course they elected someone who promised to solve their problems. Yet part of me can’t help thinking they have simply elected a con man claiming to have a magic wand. If Greece were to unilaterally refuse to pay its debts, chaos would ensue: for one it would set a dangerous precedent other endebted nations would be tempted to follow; for another, how would we make up the cash we are owed, having effectively been robbed by Greece. It would probably make matters worse for the rest of us, so, oddly, I find myself siding with those demanding the Greeks continue to pay, even though I know it means they continue to suffer,

an embryonic possibility

Today I received some awesome news. To be more specific, I got an email regarding something which has the potential to become awesome. It is very early days, and might yet come to nothing, so I better not go into detail, save to say that it regards my academic life. A lot of talking must happen before anything becomes concrete.

However, it was an email with an embryonic possibility, which, hopeless optimist that I am, has me very excited indeed. Watch this space. [spastic squeal of glee!]

Naming my slow but sturdy vessel

I still haven’t given my new wheelchair a name, despite having it for over a year. The truth is, I had not warmed to it: compared to my old chairs, it is slow and unwieldy. In my internal monologue, I thought of it as sapoc, or slow-ass piece of crap. Today, though, I went on one of my long walks. Slow as it was, the chair kept its end up, performed admirably, and earned my respect. I resolved that it needs a name. The question is, what to call it? My previous chairs, defiant and bat’leth, had Star Trek related names, but I thus far can’t think of a name for this slow but sturdy vessel. Any ideas?

Being treated like something dirty

I am suddenly very angry indeed. I was just at my building society getting money. I wear a bumbag with my wallet in, and invite people to get out and put in money as and when needed. The last couple of times I have noticed that the staff at the bank have taken to putting on plastic gloves when I come in. While I understand the need for hygene, I find it utterly condescending and insulting. It looks like they think I am dirty or contagious. I was so upset that I asked to speak to the manager, but she batted me away with the usual condescending bullshit. Think they were right if you must, but I will not be treated like something dirty.