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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Official figures released today, indicate the number of alcohol related hospitalisations, has topped the one million a year mark in the UK.. that's up 12% from last year..Now those figures include liver disease, mental problems caused by prolonged abuse, cancers, accidents, and of course, injuries.. two of three admissions, were men. The charity 'Alcohol Concern' says their figures put it at a million and a half a year in three years..that translates to £3.7 billion a year in NHS costs..
Rather makes the arguments against Cannabis risible, doesn't it..?

But, here in Scotland, we have Alex Salmond laying out a five year plan to eradicate the alcohol and bigotry problems here.. "..bigotry and booze.." as the First Minister called it..
This Scottish culture culture is in itself.. exceedingly caustic, immediately distrustful, perhaps as much of those from the village three miles down the road as those from villages thousands of miles away. There's an unwritten tradition that we Scots have been the fiercest fighters, the best engineers, the brightest minds, and the backbone of the expansion effort of almost any Western country you could name. It allows even the most unaccomplished of us, assume an air of inherent, inherited superiority.
Within this culture, is embedded the sacral right to ingest alcohol until the age old cry of ' worries... Piper down..a Piper's down..' echo's through the pub.. it's a part of our heritage that even the highest of our luminaries, aside perhaps from the religious ones, could not honestly say there had never been time he, or she, was utterly legless.. Australia has it's Bunderberg Rum.. so we have our Buckfast..
For Alec to tackle this, is going to be quite a formidable task.. educating the young.. when must of them are out of work.. ill-educated.. on benefits.. and likely drinking Irn-Bru with vodka from the can.. is a task that would daunt Hercules..
And as for sectarianism.. it's roots are unfortunately as deep as those of alcohol consumption.. in fact, in many cases the one problem manifests itself after the other..
There were many Irish who came to Calvinist Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries.. joining the Jacobite's who still followed the Stuart succession..coming for the jobs industrialised Scotland afforded. And Scotland needed these immigrants.. there simply weren't enough of us to fill all the jobs..
But the Irish brought Roman Catholicism with them.. and with the Orange Order having as much political clout here as it did in Ulster.. there was born an age-old schism that split the major cities in this country.
Not so much the countryside.. they were busy.. and somewhat of a closed community in their own right.. the harvest mattered more than the manner in which the Sacrament was taken..
But in the cities.. where wages were being paid on a weekly basis, and the pubs were full on a Friday night.. and sectarian feelings ran high.. they'd play Football.
The 'Auld Firm' was and is, of course, Celtic and Rangers.. Rangers representing the Protestant culture.. Celtic the Roman..
Then, after the game, they'd fight.
Now these days, it must be said, these scenes of violence are few and far between. The culture has evolved to where the old rivalries are so deeply repressed, they're considered 'bad form' when they bubble up to the surface. Political correctness has relegated 'sectarianism' to that which inspires shock, when it's shoved in our faces by a sensationalist media.. We're not, in Scotland, a population that, for the most part, wears football strips in public..
However, the alcohol problem.
It may well be the one area Alex will fail badly in.. while he will doubtless target youth culture.. the Friday night 'binge drink' is already firmly entrenched.. and that's a problem throughout the Union..
And as a sidebar here.. 'migration' into Britain, which is the official number of those leaving the country as opposed to those entering.. has jumped a hundred thousand this past year. This influx of those from Eastern Bloc countries is another issue Alex is going to have to address.. for while the problem is, for the time being, a southern one, it will certainly bleed into Scotland..

The G8 is meeting.. on the agenda so far has, of course, been the Middle East.. the stalemate in Libya.. Egypt.. Syria.. Tunisia..
But something which might slip under the radar, are discussions on how to regulate the Internet.. Internet movers and shakers, including the founder of Facebook, are attending these meetings..
Now, China has already admitted the existence of a 'super elite group of cyberwarriors'.. designed to penetrate the defence secrets of the West.. specifically the US.. this group.. known as the 'Blue Army' has Western governments exceedingly concerned.. they've been worried for quite a while that China's been hacking into their economic and strategic files.. Now this group was only in existence for two years apparently.. It's been disbanded , for the now, at least..
And Frances President Sarkozy wants the Internet to be 'government controlled'.. policed by a government agency which would tag certain words, published or transmitted, which would raise 'red flags' in dark little offices.. Sarkozy's one of the most militant of all the G8 leaders, in wanting strict controls on the net.. Britain, on the other hand, is somewhat detached.. saying whatever agreement came out of meetings concerning the Net, would be 'uncontroversial'..
A bit of an update.. the Middle East has dominated today's talks.. with plans discussed for delivering aid to the various insurgent groups.. Britain has pledged £110 million..

An interesting article in 'Nature' implies there are different physical characteristics between the brains of 'normal' children, and those which are 'autistic'.. Those terms in quotations for the sake of avoiding the labelling of those afflicted..
Apparently the unique characteristics of the frontal and temporal lobes differ.. that in 'normal' children the genes are active in a certain pattern.. in 'autistic' children, that pattern is consistently different..
Autism and Aspergers affects some half a million Americans.. with the cause split between genetic and environmental.. or a combination of both..

It bears a mention, that Ratko Mladic has appeared before a Serbian Court.. to be doubtless charged with Crimes Against Humanity.. he being the military chief of the Bosnian Serb Army.. Doubtless he'll face the International Court in the Hague before all this is said and done.. Then he'll be found guilty.
It's a non-story in effect.. except for those who are directly inbolved..the families and friends of the men and woman this man exterminated..

India and Pakistani diplomats met today, with the Kashmir situation as the sole item on the agenda.. the official repease read 'Union Minister and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today said an amicable solution is needed for the Kashmir problem which satisfies the people of the state as well as India and Pakistan... but this assumes the Kashmiri want to be part of either of these two countries..
Just as there is a Palestine within Israel faction.. so is there a Pakistani/Kashmiri/Indian State stance..
Should be watched, especially since they all share a border with China..

The latest is, that full civil war is looming in Yemen.. President Saleh treated an agreement brokered by the African Council, and agreed to by the Opposition, with utter contumely.. preferring instead to continue to throw his armed forces against protestors.. More than 40 were killed in the capital of Sanaa yesterday.. and it's only a metter of time before the erstwhile peacefull protestors, turn to using armed force themselves..
Foreign governments have either evacuated their personel already, or are preparing to.. Foreigners are advised, to leave..

There are those who have taken the stand, that Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the joint houses, was a definite slap in the face to Barack.. That while Benjamin took the hard line that Islael would never consider a return to pre-1967 borders.. a matter that while discussed, was never presented as a feasable condition, but as a starting point.. Barack mentioned some 'partitions'.. and offered what could be a roadmap for a peaceful ending to this conflict..
But, Benjamin decided to take the hard line.. and ignore any conciliation which may have been offered..
Why..? Perhaps because he can.. He has Republican support firmly in his pocket.. and canny politician he is, he knows when to play a card..

Another warning from the IMF to Greece.. tighten up another notch, or risk the funds still to come in the bailout package. Greece is staggering, having already defaulted on it's interest repayments, and it's dpowngrading by Moores to B-...
Now Athens says it will bankrupt the country is they don't get the £12 billion instalment on their bailout.. But it begs the question.. is this indeed throwing good money after bad..?

And to continue with the subject of the brain.. researchers have found that the size of your brain can be 'faith' related.. Mainline Protestants have had it hard these past few years.. declining membership.. shrinking economic base.. But they can now say a Duke University study has shown their brains to be larger than Roman Catholics, born-again Christians, and non-believers..
Amy Owen, a psychologist who did a post-doctoral fellowship at Duke and was the main writer for the study, said she hoped others would try to reproduce her methods or offer other reasons for the association.

It's interesting, when studying Islamic tradition, for it is always best to know one's enemy, as they say, that it's development was much a mirror of that of Christianity.. the first recorded quotation from the Q'ran goes 'round the lower roof of the Dome of the Rock, corresponding to Sura 4:171.. a warning to 'the People of the Book' that there were not three Gods, but One.. Although in 1972 in the Great Mosque in Sanaa in Yemen, that even as the Dome was being built, Islamic doctrine was still in flux.. and a cache of Q'rans which have been dated to the late 8th century show there are two versions of text, one written atop the other.. which suggests the Q'ran, and therefor Islam itself, was evolving for at least a century after Muhammad's death..
It was the original tolerance at the heart of Islam which allowed many of the Christian 'heresies' to thrive during the 8th century.. in fact the Roman and Orthodox Church's' originally took Islam to bet yet another one..
It was about the same time as the Q'ran began to take a universally accepted form..
And thus, Islam became not only a faith, but a political force..

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