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:

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.

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.

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!



When Islam Breaks Down


This image from Church&State

This image from Church&State

This is a remarkably insightful article from City Post by Theodore Dalrymple. I have to share it here – I have not read such a comprehensive piece on Islam before. I hope that everyone reading this blog gets as much from this as I do. I read the following article on the Church and State site but it was first published in City Post – a quarterly review published by The Manhattan Institute.

Editor’s note: “When Islam Breaks Down” was named the best journal article of 2004 by David Brooks in the New York Times.

There are so many appropriate quotes to be taken from this article – I have chosen this one:

‘Is there an essential element that condemns the Dar al-Islam to permanent backwardness with regard to the Dar al-Harb, a backwardness that is felt as a deep humiliation, and is exemplified, though not proved, by the fact that the whole of the Arab world, minus its oil, matters less to the rest of the world economically than the Nokia telephone company of Finland?
I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.’

If I were to continue from this quote, I would mention the intractable problems that Islam faces but Dalrymple has written so lucidly that his words are the ones to read.

Religious Observance vs Comparative Religion

Ah well. One can hope they don't take it seriously, I guess.

One can only hope they don’t take it seriously, I guess.

This interesting and welcome article in the on-line BBC News will no doubt garner a heap of support. As it should. Whether or not the City of Edinburgh Council will have the gumption to take on the Church of Scotland and the other denominations that have their religious hooks into the (devolved) education system and curricula in Scotland is another matter entirely. And I can’t add my name because I live in Fife.

The Headline reads: Parent calls to remove ‘religious observance’ in non-denominational schools

‘A parent in Edinburgh has launched a petition calling on the city council to look at banning religious observance in non-denominational schools.’

The article does point out that parents are entitled to let their children ‘opt out’ of such religious observance, however that option tends to isolate and disadvantage the child. And, it appears, that parents are not being apprised of the right to opt out. Another BBC on-line News item several months ago

‘… only 20% of parents asked by YouGov on behalf of the Humanist Society of Scotland said they had picked up this information from schools.’

There has been a suggestion that if the damn thing is to stay, then the legislation or regulations need to change to allow the option of ‘opting in’. I can’t see that option flying though. I do remember opting out in the ‘50s and with a few others spent the weekly religious period in the library. I don’t recall being traumatised though or feeling victimised. I think we few, we happy few, felt we had escaped – whew!

My preference, like that of Veronica Wikman the parent, is to get rid of religion all together in schools. The only way to treat religion is through an historical perspective. Teach Comparative Religion. Teach that human beings have, from time immemorial, developed ideas of supernatural beings and events to explain what was, at the time, un-explainable. List and discuss various religions and why beliefs were held. Not a problem really. We teach history and the differing views held by different factions in wars, political movements, patriotic stances etc.

Ms Wikman’s point and that of the Edinburgh Secular Society that is backing this petition, is that the churches’ schools chaplains have unfettered access to vulnerable children. Indeed, the media contact for the ESS likened it to direct marketing and said it was inappropriate when he was on BBC Radio Scotland’s programme a couple of days ago.

The religious callers to the programme tried to rationalise their trenchant views in various ways. One said that because the streets were not safe anymore, that children were exposed to a sense of spiritual community and growth in the safety of the schools. Another tried to say that indoctrination was not the aim, but to grow up as healthy human beings children had to be taught about ‘light’ and ‘dark’ – I heard this woman on talk-back and the religious over and undertones were blazingly apparent. They are getting more clever at marketing the BS, that’s all.

School kiddies in thrall (I hope not)

School kiddies in thrall (I hope not)

I realise that in the western world, at least, religion is fading and a good thing too so far as the intellectual health of our societies is concerned.

With the churches targeting the poor of Africa and with Islam moving outwards into the further reaches from its home base in the middle east, we are seeing quite a battle being enjoined for the hearts and minds of ordinary people.

All religions are charged by their superstitious godhead through the holy books to proselytise. Islam is more violent than modern day Christianity but Judaism is more barricaded against the outside world. The slight resurgent hiccup in religious extremism being experienced in post industrial western cultures will fade fairly quickly, I would think – a generation maybe. But Islam is still a fierce wild eyed ideology that threatens and carries out murder for apostasy or conversion to another religion. It also has some deeply held belief that its particular brand of religious law needs to supplant the laws of any land it starts to populate. This, of course, is a problem with two cultures clashing in a single society and this is what is happening now in Britain and in some European countries.

I seriously think it is time to get religion out of everywhere in society except the churches premises. Out of education system, out of health and hospitals, out of the armed forces, out of the legislature and out of the judicial system.

It is time – to quote several politicians’ catch phrase. Maybe parents of other countries could try to eradicate the assumed arrogance of the religious to easy access to schools. To say they are not trying to indoctrinate is simply disingenuous and they need to be called out on that.

Same Sex Marriage & Real News

Well, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has passed the second reading in the House of Commons. Now it is off to committee for tweaking and going to the House of Lords. A hard task because there are 26 unelected Bishops of one flavour or another who are members of that House.

I have to say that in this, I stand with Cameron (even though nearly half of his Tories voted against the Bill) because this is the right thing to do.

This is Cameron

This is Cameron

Cameron enjoys my wrath on most things, but on this he earned a qualified respect.

The bleating of the religites in the papers and on the comment threads has been staggering. All the irrational arguments you can think of:

*The sky will fall in

*Next thing will be polygamy and/or polyandry and/or bestial sex

*Or – the next thing will be incest

*The debasement of traditional marriage

*Betrayal of the electorate

*Increased incidence of child abuse

*Increased incidence of bullying

*Increased incidence of HIV/AIDS

*God’s wrath will be upon us

*Great Britain will be the laughing stock of the world

*Homosexuality will become a much larger percentage of the population

It has gone on and on and on and on. Mind you the newspapers have had a field day. Up to their eyeballs in articles, blogs, opinion pieces, quotes from the bishops and others, hand wringing and despair. Loud wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But, I think this is one step closer to a state run and managed civil marriage register and celebrants will be state employees.

The Humanists don’t want this because they think it will threaten some of their income stream. The Secularists want this because it removes some religious privilege which is the aim of secularism.

This is Great Britain where there is an established church and it gets the special privilege regardless. I mean the Queen heads the Church and is Defender of the faith anyway and even if Charlie takes over from her, he has said that he wants to be the Defender of all faiths. Good grief.

In the meantime, in the real world, a Tunisian democrat politician, lawyer and activist has been assassinated presumably by Islamic extremists as he was outspoken against Sharia law and Islamists in his country. (Late edit) The Tunisian Government has collapsed because of this.

Shokri Belaid - shot to death

Shokri Belaid – shot to death

Lars Hedegaard - the guman missed

Lars Hedegaard – the gunman missed


A Danish critic of Islam was shot at by (probably) an Islamist.

Nahla Mahoud

Nahla Mahmoud






And this woman Nahla Mahmoud slams the idea of Sharia law in the UK or anywhere else. Read what she has to say – the possibility of this law being acceptable in the UK makes me sick.

Japan and China keep fronting up to each other over disputed territory. A tsunami hits the Solomons and people are dead. The French and Malian forces clash with militant Islamists outside Gao.

Little girls are still having their genitals cut by trusted mothers and other female relatives. Although, a small light of care comes from Comic Relief and other trusts including Rosa that have collaborated on a £1.6m programme to tackle FGM in the UK. In the UK, can you believe it!!

Rosa's Chairman

Rosa’s Chairman

But the Mother Grundies are bleating about same sex marriage in the UK, shock, horror and how it will end civilisation as we know it. Unbelievable.

FGM-a proper legal response


It is with interest that I noticed an article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that details the beginnings of legal actions to be taken against those in Australia that undertake this horrendous practice of mutilating little girls.

As anyone reading this blog is aware my reactions to FGM, as one of the disgustingly barbaric, disfiguring and revolting things that can be done to defenceless and vulnerable children under the control of deluded adults, raises my ire as little else does.

Sheikh Shabbir Vaziri, 56, who police sources say is part of a lesser-known branch of Islam, has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of female genital mutilation and hindering investigation of a serious indictable offence.

Also arrested today was a 68-year-old woman who has been charged with two counts of prohibition of female genital mutilation.

A 42-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman were arrested last Friday and charged with two counts each of female genital mutilation.

This final statement in the article drew my interest:

Female genital mutilation is illegal in NSW. It is also an offence to take a NSW resident overseas to have the procedure performed.


To begin with I hadn’t realised that FGM had been made illegal in NSW and that it is an offence to spirit girls away overseas to have the procedure performed in places like Pakistan and in Africa.

It is heartening that more and more news stories indicate that FGM is becoming unacceptable even in places where hitherto it had been seen as a cultural norm rather more than a Muslim practice (which it isn’t except that Muslims are the ones practising this barbarism).

There is another SMH report two days ago about WA girls and babies undergoing FGM. It appears that some Catholic groups also perform FGM. It is obvious that FGM pre-dates any and all religion. The Catholic must be the African Catholics having been proselytised by white Catholic missionaries sticking their noses in where they shouldn’t.

While its original raison d’être seems to relate to cleanliness as did male circumcision, the fact that these procedures still occur has more to do with tradition than any real sense of ‘need’. There is a belief that clitoral and labial removal and stitching up whatever is left of the external genitalia is to stop women from being ‘overly sexually active’. What a load of codswallop!

I have enormous difficulty with this as babies are the ones undergoing the procedure. The only thing I can see is that the children are under adult control and the women are the ones to perform this barbarism.

I suspect that hidden amongst the traditional rubbish and crap, FGM is to keep bloody paedophiles away from girls. It obviously didn’t and still doesn’t work. Men still abuse girls and women, get away with it while the women undergo humiliation, torture and are often stoned to death. In western countries stoning has been replaced by shooting or knifing.

We know about Ayaan Hirsi Ali but I hadn’t heard of this woman who is on the same warpath and from the same country of Somalia. This is Waris Dirie and she is quoted as saying something that I can relate to:

The idea that things are too private to mention is, after all, what keeps them shrouded in silence. ”You’ve got a vagina, I’ve got a vagina, every man in the world knows you have got one, like he’s got a prick and an arse!” she snaps. ”There is nothing to be ashamed [of], that it should not be discussed because it is private! But then it is private and should not be touched – that is the point. And it’s not just my world, it’s everywhere.” 

Waris Dirie – another FGM victim

She is strong and angry and this quote from the SMH article is good:

”But I’m sad this ignorance is still happening. I know the world knows it’s wrong. If I’m angry, I’m angry with those who have the knowledge to change something and are not changing it.”


Female Genital Mutilation – FGM – in tolerant Britain

I am sick to bloody death of the so-called ‘cultural sensitivity’ that abounds in this damned country. The cultural sensitivity that I call wimpishness that allows, by tacitly condoning, some of the more repulsive and barbaric practices that have been imported into Britain.

These practices include the outrageous and egregious practice of female genital mutilation that has infiltrated this country via different immigrant peoples all of which call Islam their ‘religion’.

The British seem to have no idea how to make multiculturalism work but keep opening their arms to disparate groups of immigrants – mostly post colonial, some of whom are internecine enemies. The British then allow pockets of immigrant groups to form in housing estates thus allowing (again by tacit acceptance) a ghetto culture to develop with rival groups at loggerheads with each other. So much of this stems from the old days of Empire when Britain had some pretty horrendous practices of its own. But, really! Is that any excuse to encourage the barbarism that some of the immigrants’ cultures embrace with religious fervour. The Brits stand by limp-wristedly and spruik cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness.

Today the BBC online news had an article advertising its Newsnight programme tonight:

Hidden world of female genital mutilation in the UK

It must surely be unacceptable in any so-called self-styled civilised society to turn a blind eye to cutting off the clitoris, the outer labia and inner labia and then sewing up the raw flesh of the vagina leaving a tiny hole for urination and menstruation. Done when the girl is anywhere from three years old onwards. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was six when her grandmother held her down and in highly septic conditions mutilated her. That was in Somalia.

I understand how hard it is to track and monitor this revolting practice because it occurs usually in a domestic setting and on a kitchen table. I also understand how pathetic Border Control is – but that is where the monitoring should start.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – mutilated at six

Read Ali’s book; read the BBC article; watch Newsnight tonight or watch it tomorrow on BBC iPlayer. Become aware of what is going on in the cities across Britain.

I fail to understand why, if France can use its enacted laws to prosecute the practitioners of this disgusting practice of hacking off female genitals, Britain has yet to prosecute anyone despite having enacted similar laws to France at the same time in the 1980s.

I get so angry when I try to imagine the horror and pain these children feel; what must seem as an act of betrayal from the parents and grandparents they have learnt to trust. Because it is an act of betrayal. Parents are expected to love, cherish and nurture their children, not mutilate them for some stupid tradition.

And then the aftermath when these girls grow up (some, of course, die from blood loss, toxic shock and other infections) – painful sex, reconstructive surgery, agonising childbirth after being cut open again for the passage of the baby. And I am supposed to accept that crap because such practices are part of the social and religious culture of various peoples? Bollocks! It is barbaric and stems from primitive beliefs and gender control measures.

This is how France’s seasoned campaigner sees it:

‘She (Isabelle Gillette-Faye) is trying her best not to be rude about the English.
“In England, you are very respectful of your immigrants,” she says.
“It is very different in France. They have to integrate and they have to obey our laws.”’

What sort of religious claptrap is Britain going to handle so that girls can be cut because the Brits are oh so ‘culturally sensitive’. What a load of rubbish. France has it on the money. Integrate and obey the laws of the land. Stamp this horrible dehumanising behaviour out – and Rowan Williams – stop bleating on about how Sharia law needs to sit in concert with British law so that Islam can continue pretending it can exert its barbarism in this country.

It is time to take a zero tolerance stance on this rubbish. Massive fines, gaol terms and banishment from our society. Come on Cameron, Gove, Clegg and the rest of you wimps. Do something!

Western BMI and the culture of overconsumption

World population pie chart

World population pie chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a fascinating thought! The BBC News Health report on 12th July (not a good day in Northern Ireland!) offered readers the opportunity to enter their weight, height, age, sex and nationality into a calculator to gauge their BMI and measure that against global averages using data from other countries.

All well and good; typical of the simplistic nature of these online things. However what caught my eye was that researchers are apparently saying that the increase in obesity could well have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people. Well, wow! I hadn’t quite equated those two things. Now I am beginning to.

If the global population is about 7 billion and global obesity ratings equate to an increase of another billion on top of that, the projections for 8 billion actual people on the planet means we are near the 9 billion that is projected for 2030. Whoops!

Now that makes the whole scenario more interesting (from the perspective of the fly on the wall). I subscribe to Population Matters which is the new name for the old Optimum Population Trust that is a great resource for all things global and to do with population growth, density, ethnicity, health, planning and all the rest in this growing list. The list is so long it actually does seriously encompass everything we do. This quote from Attenborough is part of their header page.

“All environmental problems become harder – and ultimately impossible – with ever more people.”

Sir David Attenborough

It seems the awareness of the burgeoning global population with this little added fillip of observation by researchers appears to increase the delusionary aspect of human perceptive ability. People refuse to think that any problem related to any population be it human or not has anything to do with them.

It is almost like thinking that you are part of the human race until there appears to be a massive problem that is outside your own personal control and then you become the fly on the wall – an observer rather than a participant and a much safer place from which to declaim.

It would seem to be actually impossible to pound the necessary information and its implications into the thick heads that constitute humanity. Even the better educated ones of us living in developed countries with magnificent lifestyles (comparatively speaking) have little if any sense of responsibility to our species’ genetic survival.

It is fair to say that we are in the middle of an extinction period but we seem unable to appreciate any stretch of time longer than our life spans. Except if it is history – then we lift the palette and a brush and colour the historical canvas with our biases. So that’s not much good for a real view either.

I know that I do it and I am no different from anyone else. I taught history to students from the middle east in the 1970s and their view of their history was so removed and insular from my view of their history that it brought me up short. It was an eye opening experience to understand how different we all are while being all the same.

Anyway enough of that. The bare facts are:

  1. We need to curtail our breeding not least because medical technology is advancing at such a rate that we are not longer replacing ourselves but increasing our number insupportably.
  1. We need to stop consuming as much as we do in the privileged and wealthy areas of the world. This means a deliberately enforced austerity so that our consumption of food and associated problems do not constitute a greater consumption (also unsustainable) of available medical and health services.

We seem blithely unaware of our seriously unfortunate fellows in truly awful places with little or no food, health, medical aid, water, electricity and suffering from heaps of diseases.

Being white, middle class and having an income (wherever it may come from) is just terrific for maybe the next 30 to 50 years (if that long). It can’t last.

Time we all saw a sliver of reality amongst the neon.