The fact that emotions and faith are important to human well-being is not doubted, the violence and injustice this precipitates when they are used to run our societies is also a matter of historical record. The challenge for rational, sceptical, secular people is that they are trying to use evidence to persuade people who don't value evidence; a new approach is required, but it's really hard to see what that might be.
We had our annual sales conference in London today, one of the speakers we splashed out on was Alistair Campbell, he was excellent. He gave a talk about current affairs, his perspective on the big issues of the day such as Brexit and Trump etc. I had a brief chat with him in our little "green-room" and he struck me as a regular kind of bloke, dry humour, no pretensions, straight talking (I realise many have a different view of him) Having said that though, he left me feeling quite depressed about our current political and cultural outlook, his assessment of the current Government and particularly of the state of play in the USA and the "post-truth" era were very much in accordance with how I see things. He said that he hadn't figured out any solutions to anything in particular yet, but (like most rational people) can simply see looming problems. His overriding fear is that things will get much worse before there is some kind of back-lash against the pervasive modus-operandi of the lying and appeals to emotion of people like Trump and Boris, and that there will need to be a catastrophic failure (somewhere, somehow) before people are galvanised into action. Not your regular bullshit-bingo sales-conference talk, interesting informed opinion and insight (plus a few behind the scenes anecdotes from the Blair years) I might even buy one of his books!
New J&M up today; apostasy is a bit of a "difficult" subject for "Westernized" Muslims torn between solidarity with the Islamic teaching/dogma that apostates should be killed, and earning your living in societies where killing people for their "thoughts" was outlawed a couple of centuries ago. Must be so difficult for them to figure out what the moral thing to do is in such situations... (not!) Ex-Muslims are brave people indeed, they need to be supported by freedom of conscience loving people (religious and non-religious) everywhere, whenever possible.
I feel really sorry for regular commuters who have to travel to London by rail every day. Over the years I've had jobs where projects had to be done at client offices and so inevitably some of those gigs were in town, I used to hate the "commute" part of it. Today I had the pleasure of training it up to London for a board meeting (I usually go up 3 or 4 times a month for various reasons) and it was particularly hellish.
As you already know, if you live in the UK, it was freezing cold this morning, and damp! My local train to Reading (where I change to the main-line) was 40 minutes late. I think I was pretty close to getting frost-bite in my toes standing on an icy-wet platform in "business shoes". The train was full so I had to stand up for the entire journey as my feet thawed out (ouch!), this wasn't so bad for the short connection to Reading (only 2 stops) but then I found the main line into London choc-a-block too. I had to stand in a packed gang-way cheek to jowl with fellow passengers all the way to Paddington, there were also problems on the line, so that leg took twice as long as it normally does. Then to cap it all the Central line was having problems so the trains were exceptionally packed (lovely) Coming home wasn't that much better although I did manage to get a seat for one of the journey legs, albeit next to some bloke who ate burger and chips the whole way, and stank the place out, delightful.
For this privilege I paid the princely sum of £51! (and no, that's not for a week that's just one return trip) - the distance is roughly 31 miles (as the crow flies) or around 80p per mile, sometimes I do wonder what the hell we're all going to do when the oil runs out, will only loads-a-monies be able to travel anywhere?
I was thinking about people's seeming obsession with TV programs Strictly and I'm a Celebrity at the moment; you could say that I wasn't a great fan of either and so was going to have a rant to abrogate my frustrations. But, then I found this little (rather rude) Bayeux Tapestry clip; it sums up my feelings on these matters perfectly and makes me feel a lot better, thanks Wills.
I see that Paul Nuttall has been elected leader of the UKIP party; an accolade somewhat akin to being crowned one-eyed king in the land of the blind. This "little-Englander" is a History graduate and ex-footballer and claims that climate-change is a "hoax", so much for his academic qualifications then. It's almost like the educational establishment he attended did't value "evidence" as a way of finding out what's true. Hold on, I read he attended Europe's only "ecumenical" university, i.e. a religious school, seeking evidence for your position was probably frowned upon, plucking opinions out of your arse with no basis in reality on the other hand. Nuttall is a Christian (Catholic) and seems to lean to the right of that organisation, he cares passionately that women shouldn't be allowed to terminate pregnancies, but once the child is born all bets are off, he wants the death penalty back and smoking re-introduced into pubs, that'll be nice for us all again, I was always partial to a lick of oesophageal carcinoma with my pint.
We shouldn't worry though, UKIP may well get an infeasible number of votes compared to their contribution to the average IQ of our nation but when faced with the important question of what lasts longer, a UKIP leader or a Rowntrees fruit pastille we all know the answer to that one.
So Castro is dead. An icon for some a boogy man for many others, whatever is said about him he certainly split opinion. For me he wasn't much of a hero (maybe in his early days?), his country (Cuba) was essentially a failure economically and socially, it's people divided or exiled and the ways he dealt with detractors were typically Stalinist. Not to mention the fact that he wished for a preemptive nuclear strike on the USA which would have precipitated a holocaust for the entire world. There are a ton of web sites out there where you can see lists of Cubans who "disappeared" over the last 50 years, and in my book, any politician who refuses to step aside for 50 years and clings onto power is a dictator, not a strong leader.
I was interested to read the various remarks made by current day political figures, Jeremy Corbyn was glowing as was Ken Livingstone, unsurprising I suppose, but for me indicative of how far out of touch with reality the left are these days. Many of these comments have been parodied on social media, some quite amusing, for example,
- "Mr. Stalin's greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in the Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms."
- "Today we remember Adolf Hitler, whose vision for the autobahn changed the face of vehicular transportation forever"
Just wow, if this asinine diatribe represents the true beliefs of the second most powerful man on Earth then we are well and truly screwed my friends, well and truly. The lunatics not only have the keys to the asylum, they've broken in, blocked up the windows and locked the door from the inside. I am honestly fearful for my children's future. It's like the opposite side of the ISIS coin has it's fingers on the nuclear triggers and, don't you infidels worry your little hell-destined heads, God is on their side.
Cheadle town councillors are clearly a militant bunch; they insist that every council meeting start with a (Christian) prayer regardless of the fact that not only do they have members of mixed faiths and none they have received complaints from the people they (supposedly) represent to the effect that prayers in Council meeting makes them feel uncomfortable. Councillor Ian Whitehouse (related to Mary?) said that he "didn't agree that Britain isn't a Christian country", his pearl of wisdom was that it's "blasphemy" to say otherwise. Councillor Ron Locker said, "I'm a Christian and proud of it. I think it is a good thing, it puts us in our place. Ours is a good prayer and we do our best in respect of that prayer." (sounds like something ISIS would say) Many other's were in support of the position, basically saying "like it or lump it", i.e. if people didn't want to pray then they "could leave", i.e. these bigots want to exclude non-Christians from a portion of a PUBLIC meeting.
The arrogance and belligerence on display from these Christians is repulsive. The belief that it's their "right" to impose their religion onto people who don't want it, simply because they are (temporarily) the majority group in their particular council, rails against every sense and fibre of fairness, inclusiveness and tolerance that SHOULD be how such organisations are run. The time when all religious practices and privileges are eliminated completely from Government (local and national) is long overdue; the first political party that has the balls to campaign for a properly secular constitution will instantly get my vote!
Trump has picked his "Education Secretary", it's someone called Betsy DeVos (pictured above), from what I read a rich and prolific donor to the Republican party. DeVos is a devout (fundamentalist) Christian who has in the past pushed for the "elimination" of the teaching of evolution from US schools, calling it a "wicked and wain philosophy", clearly she's not educated herself then. Her family is typically "US-Right-wing, Christian", the fortune comes from her husbands father who started the company Amway ($9 billion in revenue last year) where her husband worked for a while until forming his own "investments" company; her brother (an ex-Navy seal) started (and made millions from) the "Blackwater" security firm who were banned from Iraq after killing 17 civilians. From the "squeezed" working and middle-classes they are not.
I wonder how things will now move in the USA, there seems to be an anti-education, anti-science core to the new administration and they seem to be looking backwards and not forwards. Will there be an intellectual recession (i.e. negative growth) now across the pond? or will the democratic party and the educated/scientific communities on the coasts be able to influence and steer the people back toward rationality and away from delusional self-interested, pocket-stuffing preachers and con-artists, it seems unlikely that we all won't be affected in some way.