Tuesday, January 26, 2010

70's music

The news in Britain is so bleak and I am full of cold (again) I thought I'd cheer myself up by reminding me of what I wrote for a school bulletin some years back when I chaired the equivalent of the PTA.

This was part of the publicity for our fundraising party, the last and best we've had, with our parents band singing 'live'.

You don’t need to go Sailing, Walking on the Moon, to the Mull of Kintyre, the Yellow River, the Mississippi and certainly not the Rivers of Babylon to find Clair, Vincent, Fernando and Maggie.

May, some time between January and The Twelfth of Never but after December ‘63 is not a Space Oddity, yet as Night Fever In the Summertime (one of those Seasons in the Sun) might Knock Three Times before you can put Another Brick in the Wall.

Grandad with his Combine Harvester is not a Sad Sweet Dreamer. Don’t Give Up on Us! Don’t Cry for us, Argen. Tina is Three Times a Lady and she can’t live Without You.

How Can I Be Sure? She’s got to Love Me For a Reason. I Don’t Want to Talk About It.

O, Silly Billy, Don’t Be a Hero. Stop Kung Fu fighting! You’ve got to Take a Chance …, that’s the Name of the Game. It’s not just So You Win Again or Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. Mamma Mia! If you are prepared to say I Only Have Eyes For You, then be prepared for Tears on (your) Pillow. Go Stand by Your (wo)Man.

Even when she fancies herself a Dancing Queen?

O Yes, Sir, (You) Can Boogie. Don’t Go Breaking (Her) Heart! That will be your Waterloo.

Under the Moon of Love, and O! is that a Wandarin Star?, who knows what else might happen? All Kinds of Everything?

You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me!

I nearly forgot to mention: 70’s / ABBA Party: 19th May (Saturday) 7.30pm to late.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What? Whose freedom?

Recently on a private (Singapore) forum group someone posted a copy of "A German View of Islam" without comment. (This widely circulated "view" admonishing peace-loving Muslims to speak up against the fanatics or risk having our freedoms curtailed has in fact been traced to a blog post here that had got modified along the way.)

There was a quick response from a practising Muslim who noted that she was offended. That kind of sent a chill through the cyber space of this network spanning much of the globe. Two other people (included myself) responded to the original post with what I thought were considered opinions.

I didn't mention, though, that my husband was evacuated from the City of London when 9/11 happened following rumours that London would be the next target. Then he went incommunicado till he got home. I remember the overwhelming sense of relief when he did.

The first news I heard of the 7/7 bombings was of a bomb at "his" station. Does anyone reading this know what it feels like to see wall-to-wall TV coverage of a major incident near where your spouse works but is unable to contact him/her?

I felt physically ill. My fingers were trembling as I dialled and re-dialled his number, shouting "Pick up the phone! Pick up the phone!" but only in my head, as I also had to try to keep my young son calm. Even after we spoke on the phone there was the prospect that it was not possible for him to get home, and I then had to worry about him missing his medication.

Moderator of the forum stepped in reminding us of etiquette. Original poster promptly posted an apology to member who was offended.

So should I be offended by attempts to limit my freedom to express an opinion? After all, I merely live in fear every day that when my husband goes to work, he might be blown up by some lunatic. The irony is he risks his life going to work, works hard for his money, pays taxes, and these taxes are supporting the lives of these lunatics spouting religious venom (see below).

"Back at the ranch" here in the UK five men were tried and subsequently convicted of abusive chants at returning soldiers. Then they boasted about how their fines will be paid by taxpayers as they are on social benefits, believe it or not. What incentive is there for people on benefits to refrain from any form of criminal behaviour? Far better for this lot to do something useful like scrub toilets or in the current climate, clear some snow/ice.

Elsewhere the planned anti-army march in the town through which the bodies of our dead soldiers are processed has been banned, and so is the group calling for it.

What made my blood boil is the fact that the same people who -- on the premise that there is freedom of speech in this country -- claim that it is their right to express whatever sick opinion, are the same people who are shouting "Sharia law in the UK" and "Freedom can go to hell".

Where is the logic in that?

You could either believe in this freedom or you do not. If this freedom is so bad to your health, so repugnant even, you want it removed, how then can you (in the same breath) quote the right to this very same freedom to stir up hatred and dissent?

If someone has the freedom to say something that I find deeply offensive, then I, too, should have the right to do the same in response. Why should there be one rule for some and another rule for others?

(If this is necessary, does that mean that one group is more sensitive or less tolerant than another and therefore should be given extra protection?)

Do a quick search of the name of their leader and you'd find his views on why Muslims in UK should not work but live on benefits so that they do not contribute to the wealth of this country. Actually, don't bother. If you could believe this report he gets £25,000 a year on benefits.

This is not a rant against Muslims. This is a rant against any of those parasites in this country who do no work not because they can do no work, but because they much PREFER not to do any real work and are allowed to continue to live this way because this government is too soft on them.

My husband and I pay an obscene amount of tax every year. I am sick and tired of people coming into this country for free medical treatment or free education on some spurious ground. My view is simple: you do not pay UK tax, you do not get UK benefits.

If, for some reason, you end up receiving social benefits then you are morally obliged to support the system that feeds you. To accept benefits on one hand and then use that money to try to do down that same system that gives you those benefits is sheer, sheer hyprocrisy.

I do not believe any religion worthy of that definition teaches hypocrisy. To practise hypocrisy in the name of a religion is an affront to that religion (unless that religion really does preach hypocrisy). How could any upstanding Muslim let this "cleric" claim that his social benefits come from his god?

No, Mr C, my husband and I and millions of other hardworking people in this country -- including the cleaning lady in your children's school -- gave you that money. It is OUR money. By your argument, Mr C, that makes us 'God'.

It is snowing again and the pavements and roads around me have not been gritted for more than a week. Whose fault is that?

If only this government does not hand out so much money to the lazy, feckless and undeserving they would have the wherewithal to grit my road. Then the people of this road would have the freedom to come and go.

Meanwhile many remain prisoners in their own homes. Freedom?

Ironically back in Singapore McDonalds is caught in a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation.

They are running a promotion on soft toys representing the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. BUT in deference to the Muslim population they have replaced the "Pig" with Cupid. (My husband was born in the year of the Cupid. No wonder he is so ... Cupiddely!)

Non-Muslims are now claiming to be offended by this "bending over backwards" gesture and McDonalds disrespecting Chinese culture. Our poor Muslim friends are probably more embarrassed than anything. I don't know.

I mean do our Muslim friends in Singapore have anything against the Pig in the Chinese zodiac? Do MY Muslim friends mind if McDonalds gave a pig soft toy away. I think not.

I know some white people object to children singing "Baa baa black sheep" in deference to black people. But the non-white people themselves (yes, I've asked) don't see any offence in this!

Freedom of speech when unlimited can lead to anguish and anarchy. I grant you that. Sensitivity to cultural differences in a multicultural society is usually a good thing. But sensitivity must not go overboard (like banning the use of "Christmas" in some parts of this country because it is deemed to offend the non-Christians). When "political correctness" goes "mad" (as we say here), it limits our freedom.

Some articles that put this post in context:

Islam4UK ban: a sensible step or a defeat for pluralism?

Luton's Muslim extremists defy public anger

Shaaz Mahboob: It's time for moderate Muslims to step forward

Five guilty for Islamist protests in Luton

16/01/10: Islam4UK’s radical spokesman Anjem Choudary pledges to keep preaching

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Workshop, not Casino

This is a very interesting comment on the state of manufacturing in the UK. The writer says that UK should be 'making things' (workshop) and not pushing bits of paper around in the financial markets which to all intents and purposes makes it a casino.

What manufacturing is there in the UK? My Geography lessons at school (admittedly this was rather a long time ago) taught me about the significance of shipbuilding in the UK. Where do you find a shipyard in the UK now?

It reminded me of a "blue-sky thinking" piece called Money, manufacturing, farming that I wrote nearly a year ago.

Then read it alongside this much earlier article by David Green, Director of Civitas. Tell me what you think.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Dangerous Idea

We've been out clearing the snow from our pavement. Actually it was more like ice. I put my shovel into it and removed chunks of snow/ice and thought: what would an Eskimo call this kind of "semi-snow-ice"? (What is the colloidal equivalent to snow/ice?) Is this the type of snow to make an igloo with?

Turn on the (24 hour) TV news and you hear constant reports of how people are snowed in and councils are not gritting the smaller roads, etc. etc and it is dangerous, icy, slippery, treacherous, unacceptable, etc.

Picture this: it rains, your house is flooded, the rains subside. Do you wait for the government, local council, whatever, to come to clean up the mess? Or do you try to clean your house out?

So why, my Singaporean mind wonders, do people complain about pavements and roads not being gritted when they could simply clear their own pavements and even the bit of road in front of their own house?

Is this a culture of dependence gone too far? The government has to do this. The government has to do that. We sit. We wait. If nothing happens, we complain.

Is there a law that says we are not allowed to clear our own pavements? Or that bit of road in front of our house?

If everyone did the same there will be clear pavements and clear roads for teachers to get to school and schools do not need to be closed and children can walk (?) to school or get driven there, etc. etc.

Would this qualify as utilitarianism of the JS Mill kind?

OK, I have a simple mind: I think something is a problem, and I think what is a possible, plausible solution. But it does not necessarily mean I have the answer. Of course not!

Then I came up with an even crazier idea.

You know those thousands detained "at Her Majesty's pleasure"?

First of all I am amused at that phrasing as it gives Her Majesty no pleasure whatsoever to have to detain these people at all.

Then if it was really "at her pleasure" then she should be able to require these to do whatever pleases Her Majesty. Logical so far? There should be no restrictions on what they are required to do.

Next, roads and pavements are iced up on one hand. Old people risk not getting their meals on wheels. On the other, prisoners are being bored silly.

Bingo! Why not get the people "detained at Her Majesty's pleasure" to do something that will really please her? Make them get out there to clear the roads and pavements.

Exercise, fresh air and service to the community. A chance to do something useful and feel useful to society. A chance to redeem oneself. An opportunity at rehabilitation, at engaging with society. Now if I were Her Majesty, this would give me no end of pleasure.

And think of the pleasure that this would give the old lady who would now get her meals on wheels, the driver who is able to deliver these meals, the schools which are able to stay open, the parents who can now get to work, etc. etc. the trickle-down effect of the simple act of giving prisoners an opportunity to do something useful.

Chain gangs. Chain gangs?

But of course this is never going to happen because of something to do with civil liberties.

Conclusion: utilitarianism is dead.

We are not allowed to work on the principle of the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people. So I'll let you lot remain miserable and complaining about icy roads and pavements and schools closing, and so forth.

Update: Look what I found! Click on link then scroll down to find report.

A little bit more on this.

UK gone mad here.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Smacked children more successful later in life

Wonders never cease. Saw this report yesterday.

What the report does not say is -- as I've said before -- you should only need to smack a child once.