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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A brief word on the death of the Canadian-born economist and writer, John Kenneth Galbraith. Not that he had a short life..he was 97 after all, but doubtless there are few still alive today who could match his grasp on the political-economic scene.. his 'Affluent Society' should be required reading for anyone with a vote..
More problems with Tony's Cabinet... There are serious calls for the resignation of the Deputy Prime Minister after his affair with a secretary.. calls for the resignation of his Home Secretary over the release of more than a thousand prisoners who should have been deported immediately after serving their terms, a situation made far far worse by the re-offending of at least five of those let loose.. catcalls from those employed by the NHS, where millions have been spent while hundreds still face unemployment, or redundancy as they now call it.. The nurses are threatening strike action, and if that comes to pass, god help those who must be admitted to hospital..
Two points here. The one being that it is absolutely risible that we should expect our elected officials to be as 'pure as Caesars wife'.. that they are no more than any of the rest of us, with the obvious exception of the power they weild, power we gave them.. And while it has been an horrendous week for Tony, it's for the most part smoke and mirrors..
The release of those foreign criminals was indeed a reprehensible mistake by the Home Office, but that is in itself about the substance of all the media has been playing with..
And the second is somewhat of a non sequitur, in that it deals with the International response to the civil war in Sudan. We have George Clooney, for god's sake, walking about refugee camps in Darfour, begging for foreign money. The question is, would anyone give a damn, if Sudan wasn't sitting on oil reserves that rival those of Saudi Arabia?
George, Bush in this case, gave lip-service to the need to wean ourselves from petrochemicals, but the fact remains we are still 'addicted to oil', and no government legislation has yet to be presented that would take us in any other direction.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Interesting to note, that the new, infllexible non-smoking laws may yet me ammended to allow actors to puff away while on stage, thus providing god knows what danger to those sitting in the front seats..
This issue came to the fore when the Actors Guild complained this new law would seriously affect the portrayal of such characters as the cigar-puffing Winston Churchill, or Patsy Stone when playing in a production of 'Absolutely Fabulous'... Our Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, is writing to the industry concerning this exemption, and what is exceedingly interesting is, a spokesman for 'Action On Smoking and Health' says his group would not oppose such leniency..
One wonders when pubs will start presenting Panto's, involving all paying customers in the cast..
Tony's woes continue..
The media is not being kind to himself and his Party, and persists in reporting on the row over the NHS..The escape of those nasty unwanted immigrants.. John Prescott admitting he's had an affair.. and of course the ubiquitous problem of Gordon Brown taking the reins when Tony steps down..
The vississitudes of political life, especially when one's is coming to an end..
To any normal mortal, it would be daunting indeed..

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It just never ceases..
As Labour waits with some trepitationfor the end of Tony's reign, they're also watching their senior Ministers commit blunder after blunder.. This time it's once again the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke in this case. Now he's not to be confused with David Blunkett, his immediate predessessor, who resigned for reasons of a personal, read sexual, nature..
Clarles is on the griddle because he's released more than a thousand, actually thirteen hundred and a bit, illegal immigrants into the general population.
These were people awaiting deportation, for reasons of association, direct evidence, or just because they'd outstayed their welcome.
This is our Home Secretary.. Amazing...
Of course David and Menzies (pronounced 'Ming') have pounced on this, as has the media. It is incredible in this country, as far as the man on the street believes, for such a Senior Minister to allow such a breach of secutiry..
It's almost the British equivalent to the Rio Grande, this Immigration Service we have..
One must take things in perspective, and while it is indeed a blunder on the part of Charlie's department, it's not as though the dams have broken, the floodgates overwhelmed.. it won't be long before most of these people show up on some sort of government radar, the most likely being Social Service..
And if indeed this mistake has allowed seditious and malicious people loose among the general population, then the situation will need be re-examined..
And while this particular writer has yet to find much right with Labour, again, it's a matter of perspective. Surely there's better skeleton's to unearth..
Italy has apparently agreed that Prodi is in charge, albeit by the skin of his teeth.. No doubt we'll see a reasonably rapid recall of Italian troops from Iran, for this new PM has no great fondness for George.. Watch Italy concentrate it's diplomatic efforts towards cultivating a better national position within the European Union, and there will doubtless be a cooling towards the West in general..
As for the EU itself, if it's hardiest constituent states continue to founder economically, it will find itself looking up it's own backside for hard cash.. The new additions simply cannot at this point, and will not for the forseeable future, be able to contribute as much as they take, and with yet another expansion due in two years time, Germany and France might begin to re-think their own positions..
Perhaps the Deuchmark and the Franc weren't so bad after all.. at least they only depended on the stability of their respective countries for worth..

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's come to light that China has been harvesting the organs of executed prisoners for transplant purposes, apparently at a rate of thousands per year..
Now this would suggest two things; one, that the Chinese do not have the moral qualms we suffer from in the West concerning the 'sanctity of life', and are willing and able to condemn those who breach societal rules to death, and two, that they have the foresight to use those cadavers to aid those in dire need.
The apparent boggle, at least from the British Transplantation Society, is that these organs are being taken 'without consent'.
That begs the question: Do those who are executed for a crime acually have any rights? After all, once the bullet passes through the brain, and you're left with a corpse and nothing else, do ethics come into play concerning the disposal of that body?
Personally, if it were a case of a child or a loved one, or even one's self who was dying for the lack of an organ or two, it would be a welcome announcement that replacements were available.
Perhaps selling the organs would become an ethical point, but if they're given to those in need on such as the NHS, it would no no-one any harm, and certainly do good for those on endless lists..
On the home front, David Cameron, perhaps soon to be merely David after the next elections, has been branded a chameleon after a speech which claimed the Tories would try to change Britain into a more ecologically aware state..
The Conservative leader, s do many on this island these days, scoffed at Labour's attack, and brand Tony's men as far far behind the times.
Record floods in Europe you say? The Dandube flooding as far south as the Ukraine you say?
It seems Labour would all wish us to put the pot on the hob, and have a nice cup of tea.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Interesting to note..
A recent poll indicates that up to as many of 25% of voters are seriously thinking of vasting their ballots for the B.N.P., our own version of the Nazi Party..
Now perhaps one is being too harsh in it's association, the British National Party hasn't it's version of Brownshirts panting for a UK Kristalnacht, but it is aimed at keeping Britain British..whatever that means to the rest of us, to the BNP it means racial purity, and the exclusion of immigrants..
This swing by those with a vote is hardly contained within the UK.. it's worldwide, and is spreading.. Exclusionism is being expressed by the populations of most countries these days, and all that holds us together is the need for mutual trade..
Economics, while perhaps the cause of all this nonsense in the first place, may well be the only cement holding us back from shutting borders completely..
Other than for, of course, tourists..
Pathetic, is what we are..

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It would almost be enough to make one despair, if one wasn't prepared for it all..
Britain on the verge of 'eating the world' so to speak, meaning this island has used almost all of it's own combustibles.. the continued presence of occupying forces in the Middle East utterly bewildered at the fact democracy hasn't blossomed.. the civil war (let's not mince words here) in Iraq with Iran egging it's former enemies to continue to slaughter themselves, along with the announcement the afformentioned country has itself produced the enriched uranium needed to build atomic weapons.. the Pentagon and the White House still red-faced over the discovery of plans to nuke Iran if the above scenario took place.. and Iran's donation to Hammas, bolstering their political 'war chest' in the fight for a free Palestine.. Even the Copts and Muslim communites in Egypt have been at each other for the past three days.. two thousand riot police in front of a church in Alexandria, as some 200 Copts charged out to face Islam with crosses, clubs, and machetes..
Add to this the fact that Europe is in utter chaos..France periodically in flames and riots.. Italy without a firm leadership.. Germany still struggling to clear the debt incurred when the country was re-unified..
And of course.. the Western leaders the likes of Tony and George will be gone soon, leaving a huge power vacuum..
And of course, the fact the earth itself is evolving, either to cope with us.. protect itself from us.. or in a natural sequence.. choose the theory which suits you best, the facts remain.
Of course they exist, but in this particular world we've created, it would take a miracle to effect any of them.
Or a global war..

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Part The Fourth

On, to contrition.
This is yet another simple concept that becomes more and more complex as one looks within one’s self. It is the act of reparation, of making it better.
The operative word in that sentence is ‘act’, because contrition is a kinetic rather than a static element, it requires one to make movement towards fixing the damage, the feelings, the emotion.
This is not to be underestimated, either in difficulty, or importance to the whole process.
For this step in the process, means one must examine, and change the behaviour that led to the wrong being committed. This is the step wherein self-examination must be without shadow, and judgement, being that it comes from within, but be sure.
A few years ago, there was a movement among those in the psychiatric fields, to establish and develop the ‘inner child’. This undeveloped part of our psyches was lauded at one point, as the last untouched remnant of our unpolluted innocence.
I regarded this then, and still do now, as unadulterated self-serving crap; as a field of thought ploughed deep by those who preyed on the unwary naivety of the general public. Be that as it may, this ‘inner child’ concept gave license to people to utterly disregard the process of contrition, because it would be denying the childishness of the initial act, and therefore denying the child within. More damaged people are working their personalities into ethical knots these days because of that psychological fad, than perhaps is healthy for the rest of us.
One of the fundamental problems with getting practitioners of this behavioural pattern to stop is that it’s so damned easy to keep doing it.
It works to great effect on most people, and to those, on whom it has no sway, there is practised disdain, for who in this enlightened age would deny a child, even if that child is within an adult of forty or so.
Children avoid contrition at all costs, because it reinforces their wrongdoing, and makes them think on the consequences of their actions.
It is the tactile admission of guilt to the very person wronged, and that is anathema to those who cannot see themselves weakened.
It is unfortunate that their perception does not include the vision of self-enhancement through honesty.
It is amazing the lengths one will go, to defend the indefensible, when that is also what one has staked one’s ‘right or wrong’ on. The effort expended in justifying that which was wrong to those who don’t care, is far and away more than would have been spent on a simple apology, or the assumption of a contrite nature.
The solution in this case, is far simpler than the avoidance of it, and prolonged delays in starting this process bespeaks the mindset of the one doing the dodging.
But again this is a remnant of childhood, when the possible rejection and disdain of a parent was to be avoided at any cost.
It’s a spectre from unresolved youth that haunts so many people these days, those that cannot find the strength in the role of ‘adult’, that they need to perform it. It also speaks volumes about those who were entrusted with the job of teaching them.
For it is sad but true that we are nothing more than the sum of our parts, and those who raised us, were a very large part, for a very long time.
However, that is in no way justification for allowing our baser side to affect others. It only means we, individually, must wage daily warfare internally, to counter the learned responses from our childhood.
Confess, repent, and be contrite to those you wrong, and this world will seem less daunting.
Yours will be the knowledge, that someone’s doing it right.
Sometimes, that’s all that can keep you, that faith you’re doing the best one can.
A bit of a digression for a moment.
One of the most unpleasant of human traits is that of childishness. Mind you, this term covers a myriad of behavioural aspects, from surliness through self-deception, but the root is common to all, that being the refusal to end the time of life when someone else was ultimately responsible.
We all have within us the tendency to look for another to blame, it’s a facet of our makeup that must be trained into submission.
Part The Third

We could take a page from the Japanese, who because of their culture’s history, have made an art of ‘manners’; have formulated characteristic responses to almost any social situation. To them, these steps are as ritualistic as any dance, and because of their familiarity, the process is deeply satisfying to both parties involved.
That is paramount when redressing a wrong that both parties feel good when it’s finished. Not indeed that it’s always the outcome, but in any situation, at least one will receive satisfaction, that being the confessor. For if the party you have wronged does not, after a reasonable and allowable amount of face-rubbing, forgive or forget once one has confessed, then at least the ethics of the situation have been resolved for the one who has initiated the dance.
That in it self, is satisfaction.
Now, the issue of repentance.
A simple concept, which expresses the regret one has for committing the wrong to the party wronged.
It’s the application that proves problematic. For what it requires is one the one hand, a truly repentant stance, and on the other, a forgiving nature.
Neither is normal human behaviour these days, wherein fast food, fast relationships, fast money, have replaced the more sturdy values seen in past decades.
Not to say people these days are shallow, merely to point out what when examined, becomes glaringly obvious.
It might be said that it is more difficult, today, to subscribe to ethical behaviour than it was some forty to fifty years ago. But in saying that, one would be understating an historical trend, one which has repeated itself throughout the millennia, throughout the civilised worlds. As we begin to expand on the value and importance of self, and self alone, we tend to allow the niceties of civilised behaviour to slip away, and become a blend of sometimes antipathetic philosophy and faith. It becomes more and more an ‘issue’ to assert oneself, and to be in the moral right.
A delusion in itself, because moral correctness can not exist beside or because of moral suasion, and it is this manipulative force that has become the mover of our worlds.
I say worlds, plural, because we are slipping away from one another in our competition to be the one with the Truth.
This is one of the reasons true repentance, an integral part of the sequence, is so difficult to achieve. It means one must realise one’s error, feel truly sorry for the mistake, and must inwardly examine that which led to the flaw in judgement in the first place.
This is not only the fawning of the weak we are talking about here, but the abasement of the strong.
For those who fawn with their repentance, inwardly seething at the necessity, and the indignity, and the true unworthiness of the one to whom the wrong was originally done, are paying no more than lip-service to this process, in an ingratiating manner trying to glean forgiveness without effort.
One might then say it was an effort in itself to be so obsequious and slavish, and that it was a measure of their true repentance.
But be not fooled by those who slobber when they apologise. As a rule of thumb, they feel sorrier for themselves being in that position, than they do for that which they did.
The feelings of resentment common to those who cannot follow these steps, is surely manifest at some later point, when perhaps a position of moral superiority has been achieved by them. When the shoe’s on the other foot, so to speak, those who cannot put wrongs behind them by step-by-step eradication will draw from the well of their indignation, stored against just such an opportunity.
For them, the issue of their guilt is never laid to rest, and their thoughts concerning those who brought them to that which they inwardly realise was justice, are never friendly. For justice is subjective, and those crimes people commit and consistently deny, become cornerstones of ill will. Those who cannot admit their wrongs yet are convicted through their actions, motive notwithstanding, will deny, deny, deny, and believe their own innocence eventually.
Such is the power of self-delusion, that fantasy becomes reality, to be fiercely defended against all whom would chip at the foundations of the dream.
And such is the measure of the person, whether or not reality itself is worthy of defence.
Repentance is a process by which thinking people unload their baggage, and deal with the spectres of self-indulgence and stupidity as they apply to one’s self. Without it, one will never heal, but will wander incomplete and bleeding from the countless cuts we self inflict on a daily basis.
Part The Second

But, back to the examination of the concept of faith.
Perhaps it could be said that faith in it self is admirable. Indeed, faith in any religion or philosophy, if followed as a template for daily behaviour, is most probably that one intangible that allows us all to remain in each others company, without flying off our collective handles to run amok. It is the ethics and the practice of those, which faith provides.
If one believes in an higher being, or in a life after death, or in the divinity of words or historical figures, or even in the simplicity of one’s self, then one has a foundation upon which one can build a code of conduct.
This sense of ethics is a by-product of faith, that intangible sense of right that is at the root of all actions.
For whether we choose to follow our ethical path or not, is moot at best. The fact we know there are at least two roads to follow, is enough. The right has been established, as has the wrong.
Equally, so not to become entangled in meanings not necessarily meant but still implied, we could say ‘light and dark’, or ‘blessed and cursed’, or black and white’.
The sense of the matter lies in there being two entirely opposed forces or directions, and we, having ethics born of faith, have now the knowledge to judge between them.
It also, at that point, becomes blatantly evident, that no matter what explanations or excuses might be proffered to choosing the wrong road, they are only as much as noise, unless there is accompanying action.
That, brings us to the concepts of ‘confession, repentance, and contrition’, and how humans deal with ones they have wronged, and those who have wronged them.
These three simple tenets, perpetuated by the Roman Church within its dogma, are ethically foundational. They are the backbone of a beings ability to cope with the reality of actions, in concert with the ethereal element of faith.
In many religions, historical and contemporary, the mainstream followed the tenet ‘do unto others..’. It maintained a religious element in a totally sociological function, that of maintaining mainstream peace within a changing population.
It ensured that those ‘of the faith’ kept themselves with a benign pattern of behaviour, at least where others of the same faith were concerned.
It also allowed for the formation of an ecclesiastical court, which would hear complains from the congregation on matters internal. This court indeed, was betimes more influential and powerful than the actual judiciary, for the law at it’s most severe, could only sentence one to death, whereas the church could condemn you to an eternity in Ghenna.
Be that as it may, the Roman institution of the rituals of confession, along with the ensuing repentance and contrition, forced ethical behaviour on a growing and uneducated population. While the tenets were borrowed piecemeal from earlier religions and redressed to suit the occasion, they were regardless, still of the highest ethical order.
This was the gift faith brought to mankind, as in various civilisations throughout time. The requirement to act rationally, and with consideration, for the sake of ones eternal soul, was one to be taken seriously.
While it was by no means followed stringently by all professing faith, it was a way of life for a sufficient number for the pattern to have become instinctive in some members of our own society today. It is today, as important a factor in our individual development, as it ever was, or ever shall be.
Perhaps in this day of technological ease, the study of ethics and their origins is thought irrelevant and anachronistic, but such study should never be underestimated in value. It is the measure of the man, the degree to which he can adapt to situational ethical dilemmas; the measure of his soul the depth to which he can be plumbed.
Now lets look at people, and their various reactions to the process of redress, that of ‘confession, repentance, and contrition’.
This set of actions, in response to any situation where ethics will render one wrong, is essential to follow if one is to justifiably say one has a sense of justice. A sense of justice is essential for one human to deal with another in any situation.
The first step is confession, and that is at least on the surface, an simple thing to define.
It is nothing more than the admission one has wronged another.
However, as in most situations in life, nothing is as simple as it looks, and this first step is where most people find themselves ‘talking the talk, and walking the line of self-justification and expedience’.
One must never be afraid to admit mistakes, to anyone. And if a wrong has been done to someone, then their ire is to be expected, and tolerated with humility.
More, concerning this, when we get to contrition.
But the beginning, is the confession aspect, wherein one goes with true intent to repair a wrong, and admits to the wronged what was done, and what part one played in it.
This should be done without false humility, and without dramatics or hysterics, but with an attitude of acceptance and regret. There should be neither currying for instant forgiveness, nor smarming or ingratiation.
It is an action that always should be presented with dignity, whether it be child to adult, adult to child, friend to friend, or antagonist to protagonist.
It is an affront to yourself, and also to the one you have wronged, to trivialise that which was done with anything less.
While the Japanese have a society so structure bound it can be stifling, there are aspects of their code of conduct which are perhaps the best examples of how to deal with others; how to coexist in relative peace. They seem to have a fine grasp on the niceties of apology, retaining dignity.
Here in the western societies where we are supposedly more ‘personally developed’, our inward-turning perspective has in some instances, made us insensitive to that which is constantly around us.
Perhaps it is because we have so much ‘space’, both figuratively and literally, that we have chosen the path leading us to insist on self-fulfilment at any cost, to ourselves, and to others.
One of the phrases common to this society is ‘well I could have done worse..’ which is meant to force the wronged party to step back, and wryly shake their head in agreement.
It’s a common ploy in emotional manipulation, to put the focus off the actual wrongdoing and onto an hypothetical situation which in effect, nobody has perpetrated. So now in the argument, we have no villain, no wrongdoer, and the need to apologise has disappeared.
Children do it all the time, to maintain the precarious place in the pecking order. They manipulate their playmates, friends, parents, shamelessly.
But as one assumes the privilege of adulthood, so one assumes the terrible responsibilities, and one of those is to cease the manipulation of others for personal gain, and admit responsibility for one’s own, actual, actions.
Thus, the absolute need for confession.
Part The First.

There have been times when all of us, regardless of age or gender, has questioned the "why’s and wherefor’s" of everyday existence.
The question of what we are doing here, while we putter through out quotidian lives, is fundamentally a good one, for it bespeaks a questioning mind, and an unsatisfied curiosity.
It’s an issue that should be pondered seriously, for the answer can define one’s patterns of behaviour throughout one’s entire life.
When addressing the issue of faith, one is constantly being drawn into a position wherein the argument will falter, for it becomes an entirely subjective matter. That which one person believes need not be anything close to that which another does.
In fact, when examining shared faiths, one can see the point at which the true ‘undefined’ belief in the deity begins to be replaced by assumptions, interpretations, and extrapolations. When two or more people agree they have the Truth, it then becomes something for them to define, and categorise. They must face compromise, and temper that which was original for the sake of expedience. Their need to share their faith, becomes more important than the faith itself, or the deity which is underlying.
Religious faith has always been a tool of a political force, and it is through man’s fear of the impending void that is death, that the wise are made foolish, and devils, saints.
It is interesting that many religions draw the emotion of ‘love’ into the equation. While it can be easily understood, the inevitable anthropomorphism of our gods renders them something less than omnipotent, and ascribing to a god the human emotions, leaves the believer in a logical cleft stick.
Is the god omnipotent, and without emotion, or is the god contradictory; all-powerful while still a slave to intangible feelings.
This ‘concern’ a god feels for his (or indeed her) creations could be seen as nothing more than an encapsulation of the eternal ‘parent figure’, the benevolent father, or all-caring mother, who will always, throughout time, be there, a source of comfort and forgiveness.
At least, for those who subscribe to a particular dogma or creed in which this genus of deity figures prominently.
A note here concerning internet chat..
Now it's been a while since one had occasion to take part in any discussions on the Net.. but it could be said 'plus que change, plus que le meme chose'.. Inanities abound, perhaps to an even greater degree than observed some three years ago. The lack of intelligent active forums is a gap which should be filled by some server or another.. Not all who logon are there to spend their time sifting through the tripe for the occasional gem.. The Net has deteriorated, perhaps due to overcompensation on the part of those who offer chat facilities, and that is a crying shame indeed..
As for the world in general, and the overview of ongoing politics, little has effectivly changed since 2003..
We do have a new leader for both the Conservatives and the NibDems in the UK.. David Cameron may well turn the Tories around, and give that Party a chance in thenext elections..but change is slow to effect, and the voters will know this. One would expect a loss of ground for the Conservatives in the next Council Elections, and perhaps a slight gain for the LibDems.. Sir Menzies (pronounced 'Ming') Campbell has taken the reins from the hapless Charlie Kennedy, but Ming's age is in itself an obstacle to his becoming PM..
There's little doubt that Tony will step down before his term of office has expired, and it will be Gordon Brown leading the Labour Party in the next plebiscite.. and that alone might be enough to leave Labour out in the cold..
A slight digression here.. but doesn't David Cameron remind you of Brian Mulroney..?
The US and Britain continue to fumble with another foreign culture in Iraq.. what should have been a fast and easy deposition has turned into a full-time occupation..
One has to smile as Iraqi's vent their displeasure at Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek's statement that Iraq itself is in a state of civil war. Hosni's simply stating the obvious, with Shi'ite and Shia blowing each other up by the score, each in turn..
It might well be time that George puts words into action, and begins the process of weaning the US, and therefor the rest of the West, from this 'addiction to oil'.. Alternatives are available, and rather than restricting the freedoms of the individual in Western Block countries, perhaps legislation should be concentrated on changing the way the Western man on the street feels towards his car, or truck, or whatever else might run on petrol.
The signs of our indifference are manifest, in the drought facing the British Isles, the massive flooding on the Continent, the disappearance of the polar icecaps and the diminution of glacial presence throughout the world..
It may well be that we are caught in a perfectly natural sequence of climate change, but it cannot be denied we're contributing to the rapidity of climate change.
Odds are though, considering the clout of lobbies in all governments committed to the status quo, that we'll see no action until there is a drastic, cataclysmic alteration of that which we have come to think of as normal. Such as a shift in the Gulf Stream, or the stratospheric wind currents..
It may well take the disappearance of Florida, the Eastern Seaboard of North America, and the lowlands of Europe, before anyone decides those elected need to commit themselves to our preservation.
Well just have to wait.. and watch.. and keep a fixed smile firmly in place when governments make promises..
We've little other choice..

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Gosh Almighty, but time does fly!
Much to recount.. much to say..but, all in time.

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