Worth Quoting

3rd June 2013

“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”

Issac Asimov and bloody well said!

The religi board at the front of my old house. It was great fun. Sometimes my posts were rubbed out! Haha. The religites didn’t really approve.

Public Libraries in a fascistic country

The first Library at UWA. I also sat exams in the Undercroft - bottom floor.

The first Library at UWA. I also sat exams in the Undercroft – bottom floor.

One of the things that distinguishes an educated, well read and intelligent country is its reverence for and preservation of learning in science, literature, research and creativity. The repository of collections of the recordings, writings and other media relating to these lies in Public Libraries, University Libraries, Archives and Museums.

On a national level, all countries have central collections of archives; publications are held and stored; thanks to people like Dewey we have systematic ordering of all our publications held in central libraries; universities have many libraries devoted to the writings and other recordings of different disciplines within their purview. This is good and a comprehensive record of human achievement. It sounds grand, maybe grandiose on this level.
When we come to the humble local public library, many of which serve communities within our countries, there is a lesser sense of grandeur and more a sense of how much do these small repositories of literature and research materials cost to maintain.

Well … to my mind, it matters not how much the monetary cost of maintaining public libraries. It matters that these public libraries are maintained and developed for the benefit of the populace. It is one of those educational and social repositories that all communities need.

So it is with dreadful distress that I have had to read this:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/29/libraries-facing-greatest-crisis-in-their-history

One of the best places to spend constructive time.

One of the best places to spend constructive time.

Quote: ‘ Nearly 350 libraries have closed in Britain over the past six years, causing the loss of almost 8,000 jobs, according to new analysis.’
In a country that prides itself on its supremacy in education, erudition, science and research, it is dreadful, to me, that the UK can elect to spend £167 billion on renewing a nuclear weapons facility and warheads in an age of ‘austerity’ while allowing our cache of public libraries to be halved. And, of course, that is not all to be decimated, halved, privatised or otherwise fucked.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cost-of-replacing-trident-is-167bn-double-previous-estimates-calculations-suggest-a6708126.html

Now we all know that we will never be consulted on whether or not Trident should be renewed and that is because the Westminster Government is beholden to the US and the US dictate what we will do in Defence spending in the UK.
But it is of absolute concern to me and many others that the education system (or should I say systems) is in utter disarray. We have so-called ‘faith schools’ burgeoning out of every city, ‘academies’ – otherwise known as the privatisation of schools – being snapped up by private groups and companies eager to get their grubby fingers on the largesse of funds being offered by our cash strapped government.
Besides, the control on the standard of education is slipping away like a greasy rope in the hands of those who no longer seem to care. Not that you would know it if you were to listen to the bleatings of the ultra right wing press that operates in the UK.

No – everything is fine so long as we agree to Westminster’s selective austerity programmes and tighten our already anorexic  belts and suck it all up.
Back to public libraries: my wee library is in Glenwood.

The Kid's Corner of a great wee Library

The Kid’s Corner of a great wee Library

A friendly place with good staff and a warm (I mean under floor heating) environment for us to access, use computers, wifi, borrow books, order books for borrowing and/or just sit and read the daily papers. It is what is called a community hub for the local catchment and the old folk who enjoy a blether, a good read and some comfort. There is a cat – a fixture and the whole atmosphere is one of welcome. The kids use the computers, the oldies read the papers, the not-so-oldies borrow books, DVDs and audios. In short it is a good place. I use it a lot. I often sit in the comfy armchairs and just read my current book.
This library is scheduled for closure and demolition. Apparently it is one of 16 public library closures in the next three years in the Kingdom of Fife. Fife Council is charged with making some £813,000 savings – partly because there is a reduction in the funds our non-independent Scotland receives from the Westminster Government.

So public libraries – to be fair, savings are being made across the local government board (even employees are being ‘retired’ – some 2,000 of them in Fife. It does make me wonder how often local government recruiting is used as a sliding indicator for national employment figures. God I am so cynical!) – and there are other areas in which ‘savings’ are being made. And, this is not the first time Fife has closed public libraries but I wasn’t living here then and didn’t know.

To target libraries is one of the most counter-productive actions I can think of. It is not just dear Glenwood suffering – new Council housing is in the offing in the Glenwood area  and that means more young families. Fife Council has closed two public schools – thus over loading the poor school charged with taking the educationally orphaned students – it is across the Kingdom that these 16 library closures are happening.

Scotland has been a country of villages since its habitation by humans. It is so linguistically insular that you can tell the difference in speech within a few miles and a different village. The libraries that operate in these villages are far more than an operational budget item. They are the hub of small villages. They are the meeting place for the local people.

In the early 2000s, there was a directive in international standards that required a triple bottom line in accounting.  Called the 3BL, it is an accounting framework that incorporates social, environmental (or ecological) and financial bottom line figures.  It behooves companies to adopt this framework but it would appear that many haven’t bothered. I surrendered a directorship in an agricultural co-operative because the rest of the Board wouldn’t address these criteria.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line

What is happening now seems to me to be a refusal to understand the social, environmental impact of financial decision making. If it is recognised at all, it is ignored. We have a burgeoning global population and a seemingly fascistic central government called Westminster. At the very  least, Westminster under Tory rule is aping US republican libertarianism. I have said before that the Tories eat Ayn Rand for breakfast every day.

Mind you, my friend in Australia is very sympathetic and also very pissed off – he sees the same thing happening in Australia and so I think – what on earth happened to the socialist left wing politics that put people before profit? That developed welfare safety nets, state funded secular education and a health system for all? We all seemed to gravitate to that in the 1970s and (sort of 1980s) when we were aware of our fellow man. What happened to all that? I do know the answer, of course. Globalisation happened and we knew it was on the door step in the 1970s. But it doesn’t stop me asking the question – what happened to our humanity? It seems to be dying as so many species are dying weekly, slowly etching out our own demise. What has it all been for? Our smarts have been our downfall and ultimate extinction. What a fucking waste!

 

Argumentum ad Monsantium

This is pure gold. It is just about the perfect response to intellectual midgetry and its terrible assault on science, chemistry, soil science and critical thinking. As I said just gold!!

The Logical Place

by BRIAN DUNNING, Nov 08 2012

It’s my favorite new logical fallacy, the “Appeal to Monsanto”, the world’s largest producer of biotech agriculture seeds. This is the logic that compels many anti-GMO activists to reply to any argument in support of biotech crops with “So you love Monsanto?”

It’s so wonderful because it combines many other logical fallacies into one, and is thus a great time saver. For example:

  • It poisons the well (cloaks a viewpoint with negative weasel words) by associating the scary, evil word Monsanto.
  • It’s a non-sequitur (a logical association that does not follow). IF (a) THEREFORE (b). IF (genes can be used to confer traits such as drought resistance) THEREFORE (I love Monsanto).
  • It’s a straw man (misrepresenting what I said into something that’s easy to argue against). If I had actually said “I love Monsanto”, then plenty of rational arguments are available to show that’s…

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The Assisted Dying Bill – a disgaceful vote by the House of Commons

So – Westminster has voted 330 votes to 118 against changing the law to allow people with terminal illnesses the right to end their own lives with assistance from professionally trained medical personnel. That’s 448 members out of a total of 650 members had the guts or interest to vote anyway. 202 of them didn’t bother to show their faces or merely sat on the fence.

In the first time in twenty years, Westminster debated the Right To Die. In twenty years the members of this Parliament have moved forward not one jot. Well – maybe a jot – there were 118 members who voted for the Bill, proposed by Rob Marris. Yet even that number constituted a 2% swing to the Nay sayers this time around. It really is disgraceful.

I watched part of the debate and saw the tears and heard the wobbly voices from those who had nursed and lost family members; sons, daughters, mothers and fathers and others. Heart rending as those stories are, they are personal anecdotes. They do not, under any circumstances, reflect the view of the general public whose number have, over the years of polling, increased to the point that some 80% of those polled are in favour of assisted dying for the terminally ill.

The salient point in all this is that by virtue of the Private member’s Bill introduced, assisted dying has to be requested by the dying patient; such request has to be approved by a high court judge and two doctors. The weasel words from those who opposed the Bill had to do with ‘not enough control measures were proposed in the Bill’. Utter bollocks!

I know I must sound angry and I most certainly am. I am appalled that 330 parliamentarians – that’s about half of all members voted against the people’s voice. They called it a conscience vote! Smacks of religious woo-woo and mealy mouthed fear to me. Their own feelings influence their ability to determine legislation? Feelings should have no place in legislative matters! Just over 50% of Westminster voted against a Bill that some 80% of polled constituents approved. The medical profession itself has organised into a lobby group to tell Westminster that the Bill should be passed. And these parliamentarians are elected representatives. Of course it makes me angry.

Tory Fiona Bruce said: “We will have crossed the rubicon (sic) from killing people being illegal to killing people being legal.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-overwhelmingly-reject-plans-to-legalise-assisted-dying-for-people-with-terminal-illnesses-10496918.html

Tell us more Ms Bruce. How many of the military (healthy young people) have been killed because of wars/skirmishes sanctioned by this government of yours? How many disabled, homeless and desperately ill people have died because of your government’s sanctions on available benefits? How many children have died as a result of poor monitoring over fostering? How many people commit suicide because they can no longer abide living under Tory austerity? How many dying people commit suicide in horrendous fashion because there is no safe alternative available to them? Have you ever added those figures up, Ms Bruce? How many of these deaths have been legal? Or would you prefer to say that all the deaths have been illegal and you have washed your hands of them all? I forgot to mention that Ms Bruce is an evangelical Christian and therefore cannot be trusted to vote for the whole community, only for those who have been ‘saved’. In a country whose polls show a larger percentage don’t even have religious belief. This makes me even more angry.

Your Tory government crossed the Rubicon many moons ago. More people have died under your Government’s regime than would ever make the choice to die because they are already dying.

I find the lack of reason and ethical thinking abominable in our leaders. It is easy to blame the churches and religion and their lobbying – it is less easy to accept that mealy-mouthed and weasel-worded parliamentary representatives are more interested in themselves and their own stories than in the plight of those few people who are requesting the ability to determine their own deaths and the means of those deaths and to be able to call on professionally trained people to help them.

There have been several high profile people coming out publically in favour of assisted suicide – the most recent was Terry Pratchett. Then there were the tragic cases of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb who took their pleas to the highest court they could find – only to be knocked back. Poor Tony – he cried at the verdict, stopped eating and died 8 days later. Thank you High Court – for nothing. And what about those (who could afford the ten grand) who had to go to Dignitas to achieve their wish to die at the time of their own choosing?

Why on earth haven’t we a place here in the UK that is registered to deliver the needs of sufficient people to warrant it being an NHS supported directive?

I was going to mouth off further about this but then found this article in The Huffington Post and decided that the author was a better writer than I am.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/bex-felton/its-time-the-well-stop-te_b_8122374.html

We really do have to stop the well among us from telling the dying how to die.

Sailing on the hole in the heart

This is one of the most compassionate and angry blog articles I have read. Read it and weep with understanding.

Wee Ginger Dug

There are truths that are true because they actually happened. And there are truths that are true just because everyone knows them to be true. The UK media specialises in the creation of the latter. The latest true truth that’s only true because everyone knows it to be true is that Charles Kennedy was hounded into his grave by Scottish nationalists. But everyone isn’t everyone. Everyone isn’t you or me, it’s everyone with power, everyone with influence, everyone with a position to lose. They say it must be so, and so it becomes the truth.

So now we have another true truth that never happened, the latest in a litany of the lies that comprise the story telling that passes for news. Like the truth that Nicola Sturgeon wanted the Tories to win so it doesn’t matter what the French ambassador said. Like the truth that Dennis Skinner was driven…

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Mediocre Failures

I read this blog article with sadness and total agreement. Gove in the UK and Pyne in Australia are disasters in Government and are totally hopeless in dealing with their portfolios,

Quote:
‘So, Gove, Morgan, and any other cloistered, uncomprehending Central Office SPADs who had a hand in producing this execrable policy, and that quote in particular, let me tell you what failure is. Failure is an adult who, through ignorance, stupidity, laziness or a simple callous lack of empathy, happily labels the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children in the country as “mediocre failures” simply because you haven’t the wit or humanity to care about the impact on them of a policy which will make their educational experience narrower, less useful, more soul-destroying. And for what ? A cheap headline in a propaganda rag.’

Indeed. I couldn’t say it better myself.

Disappointed Idealist

My children are adopted. They were adopted at the ages of three, four and six. As with nearly all children adopted in this country over the last couple of decades, this means that their early life experiences were pretty terrible. As each was born, their collective experience of life became more damaging, as their circumstances worsened. So the eldest is least affected as her first years were perhaps less difficult experiences, while the youngest is most affected, as her entire first two years of life were appalling. I’m not going to go into detail here about their specific early life experiences, but if you want to read up on the sort of effects which can result from serious neglect or abuse, then you could read this .

Why am I writing this ? Especially now after midnight in the middle of the Easter holidays ? It’s because I’m so angry I…

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Andrew Wakefield loses again in court; what happened?

This is the latest update I have found detailing the life and fortunes of erstwhile Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his egregious, self-serving and very damaging lies regarding autism and the MMR vaccine.

I would like to say that due to Wakefield, measles contagion has increased worryingly in Australia, the UK and definitely in America where he is holed up still spruiking his rubbish.
Andrew Wakefield

Violent metaphors

You may have seen the news about a Texas court throwing out Andrew Wakefield‘s lawsuit against Brian Deer, the investigative journalist who did so much to uncover Wakefield’s fraudulentanti-vaccine study. You can read the court’s opinion for yourself, but I’ve already seen some inaccurate commentary on it. Here’s a little background on the case, and a quick explanation of what happened last week for non-lawyers.

view Apparently this is “Asquith as John Bull giving cheap sugar and an old age pension to a child and an elderly couple.” I have no idea what it means. But I dig old editorial cartoons (and the headline).

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Why Tony Abbott isn’t even a bootlace

This is reposted from a very clear comment made by an Australian mate – Laurie Fraser. I am not the only one to approve of the way Laurie has nailed this. I listened to the National Press Club Luncheon address that Abbott made on Tuesday. Cringe-worthy is far too mild a term to express what I felt. And this is how Laurie reports it.

From Laurie’s Facebook page:

A highly anticipated speech, such as yesterday’s by Tony Abbott, is an opportunity for the speaker to advance his vision for his society; to bind the people in common purpose; to allow the audience a glimpse of the nature of the speaker; and to move the discussion of nationhood and commonwealth forward.

Great speeches exhibit all of these qualities – one has to only think back to Noel Pearson’s brilliant eulogy of Gough Whitlam to see that this is true. Pearson captured the nation, partly by his eloquence, but more importantly by tying Gough’s legacy to a vision of what a future Australia might look like.

For a little while, at least, we came together as Australians to realise and recognise that the most important issues we face are not about debt and deficit, fiscal bottom-lines and taxation margins, but the broader and deeper concerns of equality, opportunity and social building. Pearson made it plain that the reality of a society lies in its attitude towards the greater ‘goods’ – the arts, community, lifestyle and health, education and enterprise – to which economics is merely the foot-servant.

Yesterday Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, failed us miserably. Not once was any vision employed; his address (which he alone wrote, by the way) was a pedestrian, carping, and pitiful apologia for his superficially-believed failings. Blame was everywhere poured on his predecessors; the speech quickly became a mantra of mendacity – yes, his first lie came nine seconds in, and tediously, repetitively, each lie tumbled upon the next.

Abbott wasted his opportunity, that is for sure. But what could we have expected?

The problem for Abbott is manifold. To begin with, he is unintelligent. And a low intelligence disallows grander sentiments; it constrains someone in that position to be, at best, a technocrat – a pusher of buttons and mover of levers – in other words, a tinkerer. Where, oh where, were Abbott’s grand designs for his society? They were missing from his speech because they are missing from his mind. ‘Vision’ appears not from nowhere – it is the result of deep thought and reflection; it comes from a complete understanding of our shared history and culture. Abbott simply doesn’t have the intellectual grasp of these things to develop a coherent idea of what the future could and should be.

And Abbott is a careerist politician whose ideology is conditioned by the milieu of hard-right Catholic political theology – which is the reason he surrounds himself with like-minded old boys from that peculiar strain of reactionary world-view that began with the Split, the DLP and A.B. Santamaria. It is a recipe for political torpor.

Thirdly, there is no sense of Liberalism – the only saving grace of the Liberal Party of Australia – left in Abbott’s re-imagining of our country. Pluralism is gone; in Abbott’s febrile ‘vision’, it’s his way or no way at all. It is possible, indeed probable, that he has never understood Liberalism at all – and for a leader of the Conservative side of politics in Australia, that is one black hole down which any notions of egalitarianism, equity, multi-culture and freedom will fast disappear.

What Abbott revealed yesterday was the unmistakeable stench of neo-fascism. If any vision of our society was forthcoming, it was a vision of meanness and constriction, of the morals of hard times and know-your-place. Bleak House, anyone?