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Everything posted by DamnSaxon

  1. There seem to be two unspoken assumptions both in this thread and out there in the big, bad world. One, that there should be cuts and two, that these should be in the way of reducing the support available for the weakest members of society. I disagree with both, although I certainly see many things which need cutting. Plenty of respectable economists (as distinct from the PR puffers of the banking fraternity, who have been sucking a very fat living out of the common people for a very long time) wuold prefer to see a Keynesian bout of public spending, which could simultaneously result in giving employment to those who want it and increase the country's stock of (for example) Council housing - two "goods" for the price of one. I also agree with Lexander that most, if not all, of our former publicly owned assets - water, power, communications etc. - should be renationalised, as they generally dealt with things which are important to the life of the country and ought not to be left to the whims of the gamblers in the City of London and beyond. It really doesn't matter if (say) the financial structure of one of the big holding companies goes titsup - as long as there is a way of maintaining the employment of the workers on the shop floors who do real work for a living, and who are the ones who really ought to be receiving the profits of their work anyway. It does matter that, for instance, we're told that the UK can expect "brown-outs" on the electricity supply in five years or so because none of the private moneymaking houses feels like gambling on building this or that sort of generating station for PR reasons. The Gov. may hum and hah, but unless they have real power over the decisions, all talk of them having a "policy" on energy are just hot air, aspirations, daydreams. As for what should be cut, start at the top. £10 a week is a great deal to someone on benefit, almost nothing to the director of a company. It shouldn't be beyond the wits of the political class (who, let's not forget, believe that we have to pay more for them and their pals in the City "so as to attract the best and most talented people", unlike the system at the other end of the income scale) to put both taxation and benefits on a sliding scale. Those who are "Comfortably Off" can afford a reasonable level of taxation, and shouldn't need benefits. Those of "Moderate Means" should pay less tax, but should still be above benefit level, while the "Hard Pressed" clearly do need help (and, okay, yes, given that some will always try to cheat the system, there should be some control over the benefits to stop that). Those enjoying "Urban Prosperity" can easily afford more in tax than the comfortably off, while the "Wealthy Achievers" might like to show their gratitude to the society which supported their achievements by giving back a larger percentage of their income to it. I repeat, £10 a week is a great deal to someone on benefit, almost nothing to the director of a company. Bear in mind that a handful of City bankers between them could pay off the entire UK "overdraft" tomorrow, and still have more than most of us will ever see. Bear in mind also that it is us, the ordinary people, who are expected to pay OTT in taxation for the next God-knows-how-long to keep them in their obscene greed. A pal who worked in Amsterdam for several years said that the first thing he noticed as a Brit was that about half his salary (which was respectable, but not excessive) went in tax. The second thing was that everything in the public sector worked, the streets were clean and well lit and safe, the population generally happy. If we want a society worth living in, it has to be paid for, and the people in the best position to pay are the rich, not the poor. Cutting the safety net is not the way it should go, though sadly it looks like the most likely outcome in a country ruled by the rich for the rich.
  2. Good News for Uploaders Bad News for Uploaders Both pretty much inevitable, really. Looks like torrents (etc) could be getting even bigger before long.
  3. http://www.boingboing.net/physicsjoke.jpg
  4. ^^^ much difference? Meanwhile, another high-ranking copper comes out in favour of decriminalisation. Good on yer, Tim Hollis.
  5. ^^^ Thanks Fjool, probably a better place for it. He's dead, which is probably more important to him at this moment. Also, tonite on R3 6.45 - 11pm, Goethe's Faust. That'll test your endurance. You must admit, they don't do things by halves at R3. Nine solid days of non-stop Bach a few Christmases ago, an entire Wagner Ring cycle in a day, and now four hours or so of Goethe. Just hope they remember today is Talk Like a Pirate day, or all that effort will have been wasted. Perhaps one of those Radio 3 producers who like to relax scanning through Shetlink might care to consider a performance of Robert Wilson's "Ka Mountain and Gardenia Terrace; a Story about Some People Changing", which ran continuously for seven days and nights at the 1972 Shiraz festival in Iran. I'm afraid I'm holding out for a co-production with BBC2 TV on that one, though - doing the soundtrack only would be cheating.
  6. Arrr, an' what day do it be terday? ... Talk proper or I'll scupper ye! (String me from the yarrdarm, I nearly fergot.)
  7. Couldn't find a thread for spreading the word about generally interesting-looking stuff coming up on the radio or TV, so here's one. (Mods - if I'm wrong about this, you know what to do!) Don't miss Archive on Four on R4 tonight at 8pm (shortened repeat Monday afternoon, or of course iplayer for 7 days). This week it's about Richard Feynman, Nobel physics laureate, safecracker, bongo player and all round splendid human being. If you know about him, it'll be nice to hear some of it again, if not, pick up on a really lovely guy.
  8. I want one, I want one, I want one ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh2nLWYnxkM (***Mod Edit - Youtubified Link***)
  9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/7997601/Woman-obsessed-with-computer-game-left-children-to-eat-cold-baked-beans.html
  10. My place is "older" (though admittedly not in Shetland). The Council did loft insulation here a few years ago and TBH it made very little difference. Most of the heat escapes through the non-cavity walls and the single glazed windows (not to mention the wee winter breezes coming in round the aging window sashes). It would be worth getting a survey first, just to see what would be the most helpful thing(s) to spend the money on.
  11. To see/hear him, no chance. I might pay that for a copy of some of those long-suppressed books he's got in the Vatican Library, though.
  12. ^^^ UKIP are not as barking mad as the media like to portray them - note that recent survey showing that about half of the UK (including myself) want out of Europe (= UKIP policy). Back on climate, though, check out the GWPF report on the Climategate "inquiries" here. As anyone with experience of official "inquiries" would expect, the word "whitewash" sums it all up nicely. Oh, and if you really, truly admire Al Gore and Rachel Carson, don't read this!
  13. If you are quick visiting the iPlayer, "The Choice" on Radio 4 last Thursday (9 a.m. and 9.30 p.m.) was an interview with "Frank Evans, a Salford man who decided to become a bullfighter after a holiday in Spain". A very interesting listen, given his rather different take on it from the average Brit.
  14. Only a commercial site, but a pleasingly eccentric product.
  15. Now it appears that not only cannabis, but also magic mushrooms "appear safe" and "may improve mood among patients with advanced-stage cancer and anxiety". As far as I can recall (it was a very long time ago, yer honour) they can improve mood in people without cancer or anxiety, too ( ) - so long as you get your mushrooms right. (If you don't, then just ... so long ... )
  16. An interesting article suggests that another, er, constant - the fine-structure constant - may not be quite as constant as we thought. The value of that constant determines the energetic characteristics of all atoms, so if these guys are right then our assumption that the universe is everywhere the same will need some revision.
  17. I'm another voice in favour, for reasons already very movingly expressed above. What constitutes a "dignified death" is entirely a matter for the individual whose death it is, and their family and friends. All that's gained by keeping someone in pain and suffering alive for as long as the science makes possible is - pain and suffering, a strange goal for people who are committed to the well-being of their patients. "Thou shalt not kill, but need'st not strive, Officiously to keep alive." It's never going to be an easy decision, but it is absolutely right that the option should be there. Well done Margo and, if she succeeds, well done Scotland.
  18. It really shouldn't be that much of a deal, except perhaps in the light of the old Jesuit saying "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man". Given that organised religions are basically earthly power hierarchies, you can see the appeal to the elders of having a steady flow of well-indoctrinated "canon" fodder (sorry!), many of whom probably won't ever seriously question what they learned when young. If an "atheist run" school similarly sets out just to indoctrinate the pupils in (say) militant Dawkinsean atheism, I don't think it would be any better than any other extreme faith school. If, on the other hand, it can ... give them a broad comparative view of many religious beliefs ... and their roots in different human cultures ... as attempts to answer the "great questions of life" ... point out the broad areas of agreement on basic ethical questions like theft, compassion, justice ... generally make them aware of how to live among other people in a spirit of mutual respect ... then I'm all in favour. Surely we need to help the next generation in our crowded world to rub along in a friendly manner and get on, not indoctrinate them with the old hatreds - or new ones - at a tender age so that they end up at one another's throats in the usual good ol' human way. I really don't care whether my neighbour believes in this face of The One God or that, or a whole pantheon of gods, or none at all. What's important is, is it safe to let my young daughter accept a lift home from school with him on a rainy day? As Matthew says in the "Good Book", "by their fruits ye shall know them". (Hm. Two Christian quotes in one post. Not bad for a Philosophical Taoist. )
  19. It has to be a cat for me - I think the Ancient Egyptians (who venerated them as gods) had the right idea. Plus, they are the world's number one teachers in how to r-e-l-a-x. Alas, living two floors up with only a ladder fire escape, I haven't had feline company for many a year. As someone once said, dogs have masters, but cats have staff. My big sister, OTOH, is a big softie who will make a fuss of pretty much any animal she encounters - despite having been bitten on the nose by a dog which didn't appreciate the attention when she was a girl. Despite being retired, she still regularly travels halfway across the country to pet-sit for friends, although her efforts at home don't currently extend beyond the plant kingdom. Her sitting room is not unlike a tropical rainforest in density of greenery ... actually, there might be animals living in there somewhere in the upper branches ...
  20. Ah, if it wasn't for venetian blinds, it'd be curtains for us all ...
  21. Gibber, if I'd sprayed your civilian vessel with gunfire from a military helicopter and support boats, and swarmed down onto it with my team of heavies, I'd say you had every right to go for me with anything and everything you might have to hand. As Ken O'Keefe said at the time, their (temporary) home was under attack; they defended it as best they could. As for your claim that a few metal rods off the handrails of the ship, chairs, or the impressive array of mostly kitchen knives shown on Panorama count as "armed" resistance in the face of a full-on aerial assault from a highly trained military force, there's really nothing I can say. It's just the Israeli government's argument all over again, and I think most people would see it as, at least, rather overstated. (Side issue: How can you declare any of the video clips from one side to be "accurate non biased footage" when you are not seeing any clips from the other side to compare them with?) Re Adolf himself, well, what can you say? I'd heard the rumours, of course, but deliberately didn't include him in my original list precisely because I only knew them as rumours. Given that our faourite newspaper of record (/irony) sported this article from a Belgian mag this week, might as well add him to the mix. If anyone can find any pictures of Benito Mussolini hanging around the local synagogue as a boy, that'd be just about the full set for WWII. I have to admit that the more of this stuff turns up, the more completely bemused I feel about what, exactly, was going on. I love the way the Mail says that Hitler was "biologically linked to the 'sub-human' races he sought to exterminate". I'm sure a modern PR firm would "emphasise the positive" and point out that at least he had the integrity to exterminate himself, too. There was a reasonably thoughtful comment in the Telegraph, here, from Julian Kossoff. He concludes (incidentally, I believe he intended "substitute for addressing", not "substitute for avoiding") Quite so. The BBC's partisan coverage of Middle East affairs, however reprehensible, is not the issue - although certainly worthy of comment given their oft-trumpeted "impartiality". The issue is how the Hades the appalling situation in that area can be resolved without too many more thousands of people having to die. And that is a job for very high-level diplomacy, not for propaganda machines, and certainly not for hairtrigger military over-reaction against civilian vessels in international waters.
  22. Well, I'm certainly not the only one with serious doubts about the BBC's vaunted "impartiality", nor about Israel's over-enthusiastic militarism. Mairead Maguire fully agrees with me about this programme, as does Lauren Booth about Israel's modus operandi. As for "mistranslation", I'd recommend people to read about how practically all the "al-Quaida" BS you hear and see in the Western media seems to originate with the "SITE" "News" agency run by Rita Katz in ... oh, Israel. No propaganda channel there, then. As I said, we see the same stuff, but notice quite different bits of it. Perhaps we should try both listening to or watching, say, a week or two of BBC news and comparing notes. I'm pretty sure the exercise would prove my point rather than yours. Mind you, after listening to all the BBC's "news" output for a week, we might both end up with terminal brain damage.
  23. Following on my previous post, I found a pair of "Mini Speakers, Ideal for MP3 players, ipods, DVD/CD players, Laptops, etc" in one of the Pound Shops today. Checked them out on my CD player and ... yep, they are truly vile. If you turn it up to full distortion level, they just about get over 60dB sound level - so if everyone else shuts up and the wind isn't blowing outside you can just about hear them. If you want to hear them for yourself, GR, PM me your address and I'll stick them in a Jiffy bag (also available from the pound shop ) - I think it would nail the idea permanently for you. Certainly confirmed my pessimistic assumptions!
  24. The Big Brother Watch site is well worth visiting once a week or so. A scan through the (true) stories there will definitely confirm any impression you may have that the world (or at least the UK) is, indeed, going completely barking mad.
  25. ^ Hi, khit, glad you liked the place. Was your course at thr University of Nott'm (The rather nice green campus a few miles out of town)? - If so, that's my 'alma mater'. It is a good, relaxing place to learn - we often did our philosophy sessions sitting out on the grass when the weather was OK, very pleasant. I'd still swap you Nott'm for Shetland anytime, though!
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