Thursday, August 23, 2007

we live in a plutocracy

David Hencke says so, so there.

The Green Party advocates state funding of political parties.

Vote Green!

Dawkins is wrong . . . .

Dan Hind makes the excellent point that Dawkins' obsession with debunking spiritualism ignores the fundamental threat to enlightenment thinking: The corporations manipulating science for their own ends.

punkscience goes on holiday . . . .

Yes, I know you're going to have to find something else to do when you're bored of wanking over porn but I need a holiday. Back in 10 days. With a tan. Yeah.

DEFRA: UK has a "good record" on tackling climate change

Yes, it sounds like a bad joke, I know.

Fuckers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

tidal power takes off

Tidal stream turbines- with a far smaller ecological impact than the vast tidal lagoon projects- are being installed in the irish sea.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nuclear generation is dumb

More evidence, to add to the exisiting mountain, that nuclear generation is a stoopid idea that will not help with sustainable development.

The Guardian walks a mile in "Daily Mail Shoes"

They've been doing this all this week and its very, very funny . . . well, sad really . . . . well, it would be funny if it wasn't so gods-awfully depressing!

More
Video version



I also came across some old slagging articles against the Daily Heil! They are also sadly amusing.

population or overpopulation??

One of the founders of Z magazine has penned this monologue. I am confused, impressed, sceptical and enthused at one and the same time. What a bizarre experience.

I'm gonna have to think about this one.


Thoughts:

If education, development and equality always accompany a falling birth rate, what about patriarchal societies such as Muslim fundamentalist ones or Chinese ones? Where are the falling birth rates there?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Indepedence and hypocrisy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I never encountered this gods-awful piece of shite -and I'm glad, because I nearly had a fucking aneurysm reading the Media Lens media alert over it. I really can't bring myself to read the actual piece- the title is more than enough!

The critique of mass media production by the Media Lens boys is their usual cutting stuff and should be a compulsory part of children's education so that they are aware of just how these corporate mouthpieces manipulate public perception and can go forth into the world equipped to deal with the corporations's propaganda trap (Jesus! Can you imagine the furore if the government tried to introduce that into the national curriculum! Its like a wet dream!).

I know I regularly link to articles from the Independent but I take everything I read at face value and there's a lot of crap in there that I ignore or don't bother to read because its irrelevant to modern society's problems as I see them.

Word.

corporate taxation

why shouldn't we only tax corporation's profits? Why tax their operating costs when you can just take 50% of any profit made? That way shareholders contribute to tax revenue instead of creaming off dividends without any accountability. . . . What? They do contribute already? Ok, but what about the accountability thing?

This article is enlightening. Mark Braund rocks!

social therapy

Johann was writing about Diana- about whom I couldn't give less of a shit, but this passage caught my attention.

"In her brilliant book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, the American journalist Barbara Ehrenreich shows that human beings have evolved a deep atavistic need for moments when we all come together and engage in shared rituals. She writes: "Rock art from around the world depicts stick figures dancing in lines and circles at least as far back as 10,000 years ago. According to some anthropologists, dance and ritual helped bond prehistoric people together in the large groups that were necessary for collective defense against marauding predators." This instinct never went away. Our culture is very good at some things: generating wealth, say, or providing sexual freedom. But we are very bad at meeting this need for what the great sociologist Emile Durkheim called "collective effervescence" - "the ritually induced passion or ecstasy that cements social bonds". Instead we lived in sealed-off concrete boxes, and when we stand together, we look down and shuffle through our i-Pod playlists."

This is a clear advocation of dance music as a social therapy: The chance to meet and interact with strangers on neutral territory; the ability to bond with them on the dancefloor without having to give your name, where you livem what you do or a dozen other icebreakers to conversation; moreover, a place to feel part of the group and to express this through mutual appreciation of the spiritual experience of really, really filthy beats. Wicked!

Naomi Klein is a Goddess!

The text of her talk at Democracy Now! is available here. Its pretty profund shizz.

truncheon-wielding pigs beat climate protesters to the ground

The overreaction by the filth at the climate camp peaked last night as they continued treating the legitimate protest like a cornered al Qaeda cell. Reports from several bleeding protesters leaves little doubt in my mind that this whole police operation was intended as a warning to any subsequent protest planners: "We reject your right to peaceful protest and we will not hesitate to use violence to against you to protect the right of businesses to fuck our climate rotten".

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Peak Oil will bring economic turmoil to a neighbourhood near you by 2012

Climate change is, of course, not the only major challenge facing our civilisation these days. This one is likely to be felt a lot sooner, however. The imminence of the economic and social turmoil that will inevitably accompany this phenomenon is one of the reasons why I believe our government has already missed the boat when it comes to renewable generation. If a concerted development and investment program had been put into effect before the turn of the century we would already be seeing technological progress and a healthy export industry. As oil prices start to spike we would be in a comfortable position to initiate a smooth transfer to sustainable generation. This hasn't happened. Tony decided to invade Iraq instead. (I have a mad vision of him sitting at a table in No. 10 with the two options scribbled on bits of paper and pinned to a dartboard whilst he closes his eyes and prepares to throw a dart.)

Wow! Anthony DiMaggio kicks arse!

This dude has done an awesome job on unbalanced media coverage of various topics in the States from Hugo Chavez to Iraq.

airlines, ethics and emissions

This excellent New Statesman article does a comprehensive job on the emissions of air travel. Someone told me the other day that air freight is a much worse culprit than personal travel. I will investigate.

I think Nick Cohen's a right twat but . . . .

. . . . this piece on CiF is really good. Nick is pro-war and, therefore, a moron. However you can't deny that his article is well-written and his point well argued without (wisely) any attempt to resort to his usual position of neocon cristo-fascist-cuddling, endarkenment-embracing Islamophobia.

He's still a fucking deluded moron though.

Brendan O'Neill is a sociopathic fuckwit

In his developing role as chief anathematic to sutainable development, Brendan is really beginning to shine! His latest piece of industry-funded propaganda dressed up as liberal rhetoric is a polemic in support of increased passenger flights.

Wanker!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

KILL ALL HIPPIES, or at least ban them from the climate camp at Heathrow

From this cover story in the Independent:
"At one end, Mayer Hillman, the 76-year-old climate-change campaigner, is saying to a crowd: "We are on a trajectory towards the extinction of life on earth. In the main, people have done this unwittingly, so it can be excused. But now we know what we are doing, and it cannot be excused.""
The "extinction of life on earth"- what utter, utter bollocks! If you really want to fuck a legitimate cause like the climate camp then all you have to do is let in a bunch of sandal-sporting, tree-hugging fuckwits like this and let their absurd polemic destroy any scientific credibility you might have. The fucking retards! This is the epitomy of counter-productive inclusivity. Handing the podium to unqualified, uninformed retards who simply want their chance in the spotlight to shout abusrd claims of apocalypse and judgement. Who the fuck are they going to have up their next? -Reg Vardy? -Ted Hagger? -A spokesperson from the insititute of "sacred ecology"?

Fucking, unscientific, woolly bastards!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGHRGHGHGHGRHGRHGRHGRHGHHH!!!!!


Additional:


Another example of anti-science here. Apparently the construction of offshore wind farms will create a potentially devastating threat to whales and dolphins due to the noise of construction.


So, I agree that the construction phase might cause some disturbance to cetaceans but as for "the laying of cables and disturbances caused by service boats" creating a perpetual impact- what the fuck do you think is happening out in the Channel, and North and Irish seas at the moment? These are the busiest shipping waters in the world- whales are frequently hit by surface vessels and dolphins massacred in their thousands by fishing nets. How can you distinguish any extra effect from a very worthy construction project?


Wankers!


The complete detachment from reality of this article is revealed by the closing sentence:


"By 2020, offshore wind power is expected to account for 20 per cent of the UK's energy needs."


Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . . NO!


Actually, by 2020, the government has committed to generating 20% of its electricity (very, very different from energy) from renewable sources including offshore wind generation. I am going to give the editor shit.




Additional additional:
-To clarify my fury inthe opening section of this post I am actually ranting about this dirty hippy's gross overstatement of the threat posed by unsustainable development to life on this planet- we will never exterminate all life on this planet and once we have done our worst civilisation will undoubtedly, in the millenia to follow, surely rise again. The threat of human idiocy is specific to our current civilisation and nothing close to "the extinction of all life on earth".

Friday, August 17, 2007

sociopathy grows from a sick society

Decca Aitkinhead (cool name!) has a profound point to make on CiF about the proliferation of violent assaults by youths.


"The proper question to ask isn't how to stop children getting their hands on booze, but why so many feel the need to self-medicate themselves into states of violent psychosis."

"Happy people do not, as a rule, self-medicate with alcohol, or want to hurt innocent strangers when they have. They just don't - whatever the licensing laws may or may not allow. If your head is an essentially OK place to be, you won't suffer from a constant, ravening desire to get out of it."

"This kind of drinking shouldn't be mistaken for hedonism, but nihilism."

I can profoundly empathise with this position as I was in a similar state as a child. I wasn't violent- quite the opposite- I was often the target of violence but I was a deeply unhappy child and I used to self-medicate with alcohol at first and then stronger substances as I grew older. To an extent, I still do. But my anger arose from a very clearly perceived injustice: As a grammar school student I was continually forced to conform to victorian standards of discipline and ethics which rang false with my intuited humanist values of equality, secularism and freedom. My peers in my home town were rarely from the same shool, who's catchment area was far wider than local comprehensives and consequently I was outnumbered by "townies" as they were known at my establishment. The townies- understandably- treated me as a "toff", despite the fact that I was at the school on a scholarship, and I was a pariah to them. So, rejected by my school fellows for being a troublemaker and challenging authoritarianism and my local peers for being part of a perceived elite I had few friends and was even actively persecuted by some of the townies, leading to a sense of rejection and despair and a vicious circle of self-obsession and recrimination that was relieved through intoxication

This situation is far from that of the "youths" described in Decca's article but the underlying unhappiness is the link. The children of today cannot see the values that schools attempt to impose upon them anywhere else in society. Obedience to the law and the rejection of violence as a means to an end: Hmmmmmm, lets try and think of a recent example of government action which might reveal the hypocrisy of demanding that our children adhere to such principles. Moderation and responsibility: Media frenzies over celebrities engaging in affairs, public brawls, coke binges and pointless excess would instantly invalidate that one. Engaging with "the community" and a sense of civil duty: Reports of rampant capitalism, fat cats, city bonuses, corruption, and profiteering abound in every newspaper. Without any evidence that the values we attempt to impose upon them matter to much of the rest fo society it is little wonder that teenagers- who are quite smart enough to see the hypocrisy of this- resort to surly nihilism and sociopathy. And who can blame them? It is not as if there are only a few people like me out there with strong feelings on the injustice and stupidity of our current society but the same government gets voted back in every time and the opposition are even worse! Well done the youths, I say- drink and be merry and if anyone gets in your way fucking stab the cunt- life's not going to get any better so why worry about the future?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

on progressive taxation

"The increasing concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a tiny elite isn't only a gross affront to social justice and any sense of equal worth in a single community. The evidence is clear that greater inequality fuels crime, corrodes democracy, divides our cities, prices people out of housing, skews the economy, is an engine of social apartheid, heightens ethnic tensions, is a barrier to opportunity and stifles social mobility"

Seumas Milne kicks arse!


So, there's a moral argument for this that is hard to argue against. Put simply, everyone is equal and we all deserve an equal return on our investments- in terms of the effort put in. This is the essence of the free market- you earn what you work for. However, "money breeds more money", as the old axiom goes: If you have money already it requires less effort to acquire more than if you had to earn the same amount without any wealth to start with. Therefore, if you possess a large amount of money, you should be taxed more on any income because your earning potential is greater due to your initial wealth.

I think that's how it goes.

This article, which I found whilst randomly looking for an appropriate quote to support the axiom mentioned above, is edifying.

In the Green Party's Manifesto for a Sustainable Society I found this. I like.

"Direct Taxation - Income Tax

EC710 Income Tax is the instrument by which all citizens who are able to are required to contribute a proportion of their labours to the running of public services. It is also, when combined with benefits payments, the primary way in which wealth can be redistributed in order to create a fairer society.

EC711 Personal tax-free allowances will be abolished, having effectively been replaced by the Citizen's Income (see EC730). Income Tax will be levied on all income above the Citizen's Income. Tax rates will be banded and will increase progressively so that those on higher incomes are paying higher marginal rates of tax. In particular, rates higher than 40% will be introduced for those on the highest incomes.

EC712 In order that people are not penalised by paying high rates of tax in one year, whilst their income dramatically drops in the next (either through personal choice or for reasons beyond their control) income will be averaged over five years and the tax calculated on the rolling average figure.)"



Labour's approach to the subject is, predictably, somewhat less ambitious:

"Brown recently refused to rule out raising the top rate of tax. "We're still a very long way from that politically," one cabinet minister said yesterday. "There are powerful forces against us." For which read the bulk of the media and the most influential people in the country, who would all have to pay more tax."

UK rail regulator damns government's blessing of fare increases

Newsflash! - The government wants to reduce its investment in our rail network and passengers to foot more of the bill!

Excessive pricing is what we have already- fuck knows what I'd call the new pricing policy . . . . . . . grossly excessive? Morbidly excessive? "It-would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-for-the-fact-that-I-now-have-to-pay-twice-as-much-as-a-French-person-would excessive" ???

Eg:
Prices for midday, midweek tickets 2 1/2 months ahead:

Paris-Bordeaux (~400km): £16.93 (25 euros)
Bristol - Newcastle (~400km): £15

Prices for next day tickets:

Paris-Bordeaux (~400km): £51.94 (73e70)
Bristol - Newcastle (~400km): £89

Yes, that's nearly twice as much as the French for a next-day ticket. Time to start eating garlic and growing onions methinks!

Kyoto actually promotes deforestation

An FT article supports my position that failure to credit developing countries for not cutting down their existing forests makes them attractive targets. There are some details there but, essentially, its a matter of carbon credits for reforestation and the chance to bung some cash crops down on clear-cut land against no carbon credits for leaving your forests intact and missing out on any cash crops you could plant in their place.

Duh?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

David Colquhoun on Endarkenment

Nice.

On Liberty

When I get round to it ( I am up to my neck in worm poo at the moment!) I am going to sit down and read this.

why the government must legislate to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change

A DEFRA survey demonstrates why climate change cannot be addressed through individual action alone, in this country any way. 25% of the population remain in denial of the truth, despite the vast amount of information available to them which demonstrates that anthropogenically induced climate change is occurring and will have a significant impact upon our lives in 10 years or so. This is a violation of one of the most fundamental principles of human society as the people who will suffer from the selfish behaviour of the few are exactly those people who are also denied the decadent lifestyle that is resulting in climate chaos.

As a quarter of the population cannot be trusted to behave responsibly it is pointless relying on the efforts of the other 75% as any progress made through their efforts will be swamped by the actions of the selfish few who leave television on all night, fly across the country, drive Chelsea tractors everywhere and keep the tap running when they brush their teeth. If these morons can live like this without fear of any ill effects then they will continue to do so. Some people are just wilfully evil.

Therefore, if the population are engaging in damaging patterns of behaviour, it is the government 's responsibility to act to discourage such behaviour through eco-taxes and carbon rationing. So why isn't it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

another day, another dose of lies, corruption and heroic struggles to save the planet

Wolfowitz censored references to climate change at the World Bank.

George Monbiot responds (pretty well, too) to MediaLens' criticism of him publishing articles in papers funded by fossil fuel advertisments.

Peter Tatchell turns his attention away from absurdly trying to protect little, fluffy bunny rabbits and onto the far more pressing matter of slagging Labour's pseudo-green policy.

In a startlingly euphoria-inducing turn-around, the man responsible for bringing anti-terror legislation to bear upon environmental protesters has shot himself neatly in the foot by trying to get a judge to apply it to the Heathrow protesters. The judge told him to go and fuck himself (I'm paraphrasing a little) and declared that hard evidence of collective malicious intention would have to be produced before such legislation were to apply to legitimate protesters.

Monday, August 13, 2007

UK can generate 100% of its electricity from renewables

In my rush to enthuse about George Monbiot's revelatory article on climate change I failed to draw adequate attention to this little document. Its a neat piece of research that demolishes one of the key arguments regurgitated time and again by climate change deniers, which is that renewables cannot supply base-load capacity for the national grid. As usual there is no sign that this knowledge has reached the upper echelons of White Hall and we can be sure that it will remain that way thanks to the profoundly undemocratic nature of our plutocracy.

UK Government caught red-handed trying to sabotage development of renewable generation

The fuckers!

This is what you get when you vote for a bunch of pseudo-socialist, industry whores! I can't believe that they are so stupid as to try to wilfully wriggle out of this essential piece of development. I am so irate I can't even come up with anything vitriolic enough to truly express my feelings.

Fuckers! Absolute Fuckers!

Johann tells us why we should support the Heathrow Protest

And doesn't he do a good job.

Vatican increasingly isolated from reality- threatens boycott of Amnesty!

In a move that is typical of their rational, humanist and secular principles, Amnesty have publically declared their advocacy for abortion to be offered to rape victims. A spokesman (never a spokeswoman, hey?) for the Vatican, steeped in dogmatism and wilful ignorant as it is, has threatened to call for a Catholic boycott of the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize as this directly contradicts their position that a foetus has a human 'soul' from the moment of conception and is, therefore, a victim of murder if aborted.

Personally I would love to see the Vatican attempt this little stunt. It would really bring home to a lot of people how malevolent that organisation really is and would surely aid in snapping large number of people out of the trance-like delusional state that religion induces.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

why America is wrong

Gabriel Kolko tell it like it is.

"In part, expensive equipment and incredibly inflated military budget is premised on the traditional assumption that owning complex weapons gives America power, which is determined by arms in hand rather than what happens in a nation's politics and society. In fact, the reverse is often the case, especially when enemies find the weaknesses in this sort of technology and exploit it – as they increasingly have done over the past decades. Then the cost of fighting wars becomes a liability – and America's technological military an immense weakness when the government has huge deficits or lacks funds to repair its aging public infrastructure – a fact that was highlighted when the collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis earlier this month led to the striking revelation that 70,000 bridges in the U.S. are rated deficient. The Vietnam War should have resolved the issue of the relevance of technology to the America's military ambitions, but it did not. The real question is: why?"

Its nice when someone sums up your own feelings on a subject as concisely and eloquently as this. You see, I'm not anti-American, I'm actually concerned for the fate of America. The people of that country should not have to tolerate the situation they are currently in and there are individuals in the current administration who are criminally insane and need to be stopped for the good of America and the rest of the world.

"
We are at point zero in the application of American power in the world: the U.S. cannot win its extremely expensive adventures nor will it abstain from policies which increasingly lead to disasters for the nations in which it intervenes and for itself as well."

(my bold)

a fine piece of Bush slagging

Have it, you filthy cristo-fascist cunt.

Britain, the cultural dead zone, looks to the continent for inspiration

How long have I been waiting for someone to start this off?

Too fucking long, for sure.

In Auckland there are free music festivals almost every weekend throughout Summer in the city's various parks. I think there are 2 in Plymouth this year.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Media Lens' latest assault upon shite and outrightly biased reporting

The Media Lens crew rock!

Their take on the BBC adds some very much needed perspective to the ongoing furore over that organisation's intransigences.

But it is when they start laying into the tabloids that the really painful truths emerge:

"The elite is very much unified on the need to siphon billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the arms industry and into militarism more generally. Ordinary citizens are largely unaware of their own stake in this and are very much immobilised by effective propaganda, for example from tabloids like the Sun - a billionaire’s propaganda organ parading as a faithful friend of working people. The Sun trains readers to associate militarism with patriotism and lethal arms programmes with ‘jobs’. Thus the tabloid's July 25 headline:

“Carrier job joy.”

The paper commented: “Two massive new aircraft carriers are to be built in Britain, safeguarding thousands of jobs for years.” (‘Carrier job joy,’ The Sun, July 25, 2007)

This was all Sun readers needed to know about the spending of nearly £4 billion of their money on Cold War weaponry in a world refusing to address the terrifying, perhaps terminal, threat of climate change. The carriers will take 40 aircraft each - the Ministry of Defence intends to buy US-made Joint Strike fighters at a further cost of £12 billion. A Mirror headline read:

“Joy as ship deal seals future for troubled yards - just the jobs.” (Maggie Barry, Mirror, July 26, 2007)

Just as democratic citizens, renamed “consumers”, are supposed to be concerned only about the impact of world events on supermarket prices, so working people are supposed to be grateful for “jobs”. The Mirror article contained comments from six individuals supporting the decision - not a word of dissent was printed."



(Bold emphasis is my own).

Lords Reform - A century of waiting

Ruscombe Green has done a good job on this.

Ruth Kelly is a cock-weasel

She is as successful and capable in her current role as Secretary of State for the Destruction of a Sustainable Transport System as she has been in all of her other ones (Secretary of State for Mysogyny and Religious Exceptionalism 2006-2007; Secretary of State for the Abuse of Childhood Innocence and Advocation of Paedophilia 2004-2006).

Her latest plan is to create 10-lane superhighways that will be incredibly successful at increasing carbon emissions, congestion and even poverty in the communities that are bypassed by such schemes.

Well done Ruth!

What's she going to do for an encore? Bring back the Inquisition to test whether pensioners are deserving of their pathetic allowances?

Addition:

More on the stupidity of unrestrained development in an already overpopulated country.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

another victory for the rich in the propaganda war over inequality

As the rich get richer and the poor poorer, public opinion is slipping over whether anything can be done about it.

"People still express concern about unequal distribution of wealth, but are clear that they don't want to pay higher taxes."

So public opinion is that rich people have it too easy but also that higher taxes are bad?

Well, so what? There is an obvious political solution to that problem: Why should your average voter worry about paying higher taxes when the entire point of progressive taxation is only to raise taxes against those earning disproportionately more than the majority? The fact that such policy is alien to the public represents a massive success for the propaganda war waged by the "pseudo-right": The plutocracy which has usurped power in this country over the last three decades. The concept that "higher taxes" is a broad brush which will tar everyone equally is utterly false! It is, furthermore, a damning indictment of the disenfranchisement of the electorate. People are so confused by the torrent of skewed propaganda funded by the plutocrats through the mass media (The Sun, The Daily Mail, Sky, etc.), and filtering through into our society from media sources manipulated by their malevolent kindred in the USA, that they are unaware of the simple potential for politics to function effectively as the Visible Hand (Adam Smith reference, kids- look it up!).

Ah! My misanthropy shines through once again.

Its a fascinating point, that Johann Hari makes repeatedly in his writing, that the UK electorate consistently vote in favour of socialist policies:

"Part of the problem is that the perception of what is a 'centrist' position in this country is distorted by a press that is way to the right of the British people. If you look at the opinion polls and, crucially, how people actually vote, this is a mainstream European social democracy that believes in fairly high tax and spending, and liberal social policies.

Look even at the halycyon days of the British right, the period they believe expresses the true longings of the electorate. At every single election where Margaret Thatcher was leader of the Conservative Party, 56 percent of the British people voted against her and for parties committed to higher taxes and higher public spending. It was an undemocratic electoral system, not a right-wing majority in the country, that made her Prime Minister."

Unfortunately the political position in this country swings firmly against such socialist policies- for reasons best known only to the politicians' accountants.

Addition:

Gruneo's comment at the end of the article is pretty spot-on.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

reflections on democracy

. . . . "Recent reflection on democracy have yielded two valuable insights …. Modern pluralistic regimes have typically come into being not because of some preexisting wide consensus on "basic values," bur rather because various groups that had been at each others' throats for a prolonged period had to recognize their mutual inability to achieve dominance. Tolerance and acceptance of pluralism resulted eventually from a standoff between bitterly hostile opposing groups.

This historical point of departure of democracy does not bode particularly well for the stability of these regimes. The point is immediately obvious, but it becomes even more so when it is brought into contact with the theoretical claim that a democratic regime achieves legitimacy to the extent that its decisions result from full and open deliberation among its principal groups, bodies, and representatives. Deliberation is here conceived, as an opinion-forming process: the participants should not have fully or definitively formed opinions at the outset; they are expected to engage in meaningful discussion, which means that they should be ready to modify initially held opinions in the light of arguments of other participants and also as a result of new information which becomes available in the course of the debate. …

If this is what it takes for the democratic process to become self-sustaining and to acquire long-run stability and legitimacy, then the gulf that separates such a state from democratic-pluralistic regimes as they emerge historically from strife and civil war is uncomfortably and perilously wide. A people that only yesterday was engaged in fratricidal struggles is not likely to settle down overnight to those constructive give-and-take deliberations. Far more likely , there will initially be agreement to disagree, but without any attempt at melding the opposing points of view—that is indeed the nature of religious tolerance. Or, if there is discussion, it will be a typical "dialogue of the deaf"—a dialogue that will in fact long function as a prolongation of, and a substitute for, civil war. Even in the most "advanced" democracies, many debates are, to paraphrase Clausewitz, a "continuation of civil war with other means." Such debates, with each part on the lookout for arguments that kill, are only too familiar from democratic politics as usual.

There remains then a long and difficult road to be traveled from the traditional internecine, intransigent discourse to a more "democracy-friendly" kind of dialogue. …"


How aptly does this describe the situation inthe UK today? Even though outright warfare has been absent from ths land for hundreds of years we are still in the post-civil warfare state of pluralism. Due to the enormous burden of tradition and conservatism amongst our culture it has proved impossible to cast off many of the more absurdly unjust and antiquated customs such as the monarchy and absence of a constitution. This perpetuates and deepens the class divide and leaves one wondering why simple democratic reforms which are- even now- being stalled in the unelected house of lords, have taken so long to appear.


More here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Brown is more bulldog than poodle" - yeah, fucking right!

The depth of my scepticism cannot be described in the English language. Take a very, very, very deep hole and then climb to the bottom of it and dig for a thousand years with a pneumatic drill. Then you won't be any closer to the depths I refer to but you will certainly start to appreciate their magnitude. Brown is the pinnacle of weasellious cock and needs to be removed from power. Derek Wall and Sian Berry should double team him with their green ninja power.

"Green" Liberal Democrats- yeah, right.

I have been having a ding-dong on facebook with the monkeys from the so-called "Green" Liberal Democrats about their alleged green credentials. I cannot see how they consider themselves to be the slightest bit green when the LD manifesto for the 2005 General Elections did not contain a single reference to carbon emissions! Are they trying out their new sense of humour? The very concept of a political party that is ostensibly "green" but doesn't have any policy proposals to deal with carbon emissions is utterly, utterly oxymoronic!

Anyway, after I posted on their group asking why they weren't Green Party members the originator of the group posted an extensive reply:

"Hi @@@@,

Yes you are right – the Severn Barrage scheme has come under criticism for damage to the environment but there is also evidence to suggest that this is exaggerated and that the Severn Barrage scheme will have more of a positive outcome in general.

I saw one of the local GP members on Points West (local news programme) recently and it was not just the design that the local GP were objecting to – there were a fair few factors. On the same programme there were people who had done research and had said that the effects of the barrage would have more of a positive impact – if you look at the one in France what happened there was that the ecosystem adapted and was able to live in harmony with the barrage.

We are now in a position whereby, globally, we have a 5-10 year time frame (MAXIMUM) in which to seriously address climate change by ensuring sustainability – that means having to make compromises to save the planet. I would rather see the Barrage proposal put in place and trust that the ecosystem will adjust as in France rather than not see renewable measures being taken and having to be dependent upon fossil fuels for longer and potentially more nuclear power.

The Green Party do have a manifesto which covers a range of issues – however their approach to the range of issues is based on single issues! It is all about the environment. I want a greener UK but the approach to issues like the economy for example are not practical - they are idealist and quite frankly do not take in to account issues like the fact that we trade internationally and play a key role in the global economy. For example:

"[The Greens'] hostility to business and trade, although well-intended, would condemn millions to poverty, billions if followed worldwide. On reflection, Green Party policies like the 20 mph speed limit throughout built up areas – making cars less efficient and bus services much more expensive to run – were always about getting the basics wrong."

- Joe Otten, a former Green Party supporter and local election candidate

Not everything can be achieved at the local/domestic level and some of the reforms they propose would actually see set backs in many areas – this is not humanistic. Like I say we have a small time frame in which to make progress on climate change to secure the global future, idealistic policies which can not be implemented are not going to help Britain progress. We need practical solutions NOW and the Green Party currently cannot provide this.

I take your point that the reason the Green Party have problems getting in to power is due to our outdated first-past-the-post system. But I believe the point made with regards to their inability to form workable government is based more on the fact that they do not have a holistic approach to domestic governance which is needed. They, by their own admission, are eco-Marxist – the United Kingdom is a Liberal Democracy.

If you look at the Greens in places like Scandinavia and Germany you will find that they have had to make a lot of compromises along the way and are much more advanced in terms of how their Green Parties are structured/campaign and how they approach politics – they have been evolving for longer and thus have a more holistic approach. Ecology for example was founded in Germany and environmentalism was even a strong part of the Nazi regime. In Britain it has only been a serious established concept since the 1980s (as far back as 1950 at a push). We do not however have time for the Greens to evolve, green action needs to be taken now and that’s where groups like Green Lib Dems come in – making government and political parties more accountable.

In addition to this, coalition between political parties (when I refer to political parties I include the Greens) will allow for a greener influence to come through and impact at the local and parliamentary level. If you look within the Tories and the Labour Party, like the Liberal Democrats they too have some very good environmental ideas within their environmental groups and with support and input from the Greens may be able to push these ideas further and make them applicable ASAP. Yes, some members of the Labour Party and the Tories are evil with regards to their environmental progress and decisions but there are also many people within those parties that realise the extent of the environmental problems who are fighting for a greener future. With regards to the Lib Dems being stuck in the middle I disagree with you. I have been involved with the Green Lib Dems since I joined the party in 2003 and they have some very good policies and campaigns on the environment. We have a strong environmental record and are not stuck in the middle of a political spectrum. If you do not believe us radical enough then it is because whilst being environmentalists we are also realists.

If you would like to have a greater input in to party politics why don’t you join the organisation that I have founded since joining the Lib Dems: ‘The Young Green Lib Dems’? It costs £3 to join and you do not have to be a Lib Dem to do so. The idea behind it is that that I have already mention – bringing people who are like minded on environmental issues together to help campaign and influence policy. Why not bring your Green Party views with you and help us to take account of your thoughts and policy ideas. I have just got back from a Green Lib Dem conference in Oxford which was a whole weekend of collecting people’s thoughts and a chance to ask questions regarding latest environmental policy being drawn up by the Lib Dems. In the current political system and with the Green Party not being very efficiently structured the Greens are not going to have a national takeover so working together to influence policy is important.

If you would like to have more info on YGLD or GLD then please get in touch."


I was impressed that someone had taken the time to write so mnay words in reply to my own musings so I composed a response of my own:

"Thank you for responding at length, I will try and keep the flow of this response in rough synchronicity with your own for simplicity’s sake. I disagree profoundly that it is better to circumvent any comprehensive impact assessment to see a barrage constructed at the risk of any associated ecological impact than no barrage at all as this directly contradicts the precautionary principle- the founding concept of sustainable development. If you have “extensive evidence” for the overstatement of the barrage’s ecological impact then please do share it with me. I would also like to know which of the many different proposals for a barrage you are referring to as the trade-off between costs and benefits vary enormously from project to project. The Green Party advocate the lagoon plan in conjunction with tidal stream generation which, like the French barrage, are established and proven technologies. This results in a lower overall generating capacity (however the Swansea bay lagoon alone is proposed to generate 60MW), significantly reduced impact upon the ecology of the estuary and channel and also unimpeded access for shipping.

You make the interesting point that “we have a 5-10 year time frame (MAXIMUM) in which to seriously address climate change by ensuring sustainability”. Where do you get this figure from? The main event which I am aware of is the spectre of peak oil. Informed sources suggest that this will occur anytime from “now” to “15 years away” (eg. “The End of Oil” by Paul Roberts- around 15 yrs; “Half Gone” Jeremy Leggett- around 2008 +/-2yrs). Besides the potential for the creeping advance of climate change to wreak havoc upon our world- the specific effects of which are virtually unpredictable even now- I can think of no justification for your figure. If you want to start throwing dates by which action should have been taken then how about 1996, when the IPCC first declared unequivocally that there was reasonable evidence for anthropogenically induced climate change? I don’t seem to recall the Liberals clamouring for change back then, do you? My point is that, like David Cameron, you have baited your hook for the voters with a little eco-rhetoric but you have manifestly failed to build substance into your manifesto to back up your words. Your 2005 manifesto singularly fails to advocate any sort of significant policy to mitigate climate change. The Stern Review stated clearly that “the scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Climate change presents a very serious global risk and it demands an urgent global response.” Where is your response to this? I cannot see what matching Labour’s commitment to generating 20% of electricity from renewables by 2020 can do when The Stern Review also states that:
-- “To stabilise at 450 ppm CO2e [where we’ll be in less than 8 years at current rates], without overshooting, global emissions would need to peak in the next 10 years and then fall at more than 5% per year, reaching 70% below current levels by 2050. “
--“Stabilising at 450 ppm CO2e or below, without overshooting, is likely to be very costly because it would require around 7% per year emission reductions.”
I can’t find even a reference to carbon emissions in your manifesto!

So, the GP’s approach to economics is all about the “environment”? I agree wholeheartedly. This is purely rational as our ecosystem and environment are either the source of the materials for or the setting for pretty much all of our economic activity. Are you somehow suggesting that the two are not intimately and inseparably connected? Please do explain why you feel this is not sensible policy?

As for Joe Otten’s point about the Green Party being hostile to business and trade. You understand that this is like saying that humans are hostile to oxygen. No political party is “hostile” to trade! That is simply absurd. You obviously feel his position is just so, if you implying that GP policies are somehow uneconomic, then you should justify that position. Joe Otten’s partisan position (he runs his own business) is laid out in his blog (eg: http://joeotten.blogspot.com/2006/05/no-zealot-like-convert.html) and this is not the place to analyse it but, as I have observed before, you have made the point (actually Joe made it in a distinctly polemical fashion and without much substance) but provided no evidence. The 20mph issue is an utterly absurd proposal, and your (his) 1st valid point.

Next you state that “not everything can be achieved at the local/domestic level “. This is what is called “a straw man” as there is no such policy- or anything vaguely similar- in the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society. If you can explain how GP policy advocates this as a solution then I will eat my own left foot. The MfSS clearly advocates change at a local and global level.

Your rejection of idealism and acceptance of pragmatism is exactly what has got us where we are now. Why advocate a policy that you know will not achieve what must be done? Failure to address climate change now will not be counted in lost income but in lost lives! The truth of this situation is being systematically obscured and buried by a hostile media controlled by corporate interests and even the government itself in some countries (eg. the USA, Australia, here- yes HERE- I don’t see the policy proposals of the Stern Review anywhere in the Labour manifesto). Al Gore makes the point in “An Inconvenient Truth” that 100% of a random survey of peer-reviewed scientific papers presented climate change as unequivocal but less than half of media reports did so. If you think our little pseudo-democracy is above such influence I wonder if you’ve heard of a “documentary” by the name of The Great Global Warming Swindle?

Your point that the Greens are “Eco-Marxists” is lost on me. Does that mean that they are wrong? This sounds like character assassination to me. I am with George Monbiot on this- socialism, in the form of enormous state intervention, is the only way to deal effectively with climate change. As for the UK being a liberal-democracy, that is true as far as public opinion goes, however only a fraction of the population are engaged in politics (22% of the electorate defecated a dirty Blair back into No.10 in 2005 even after The Lancet reported that more than half a million Iraqis had died as a result of the illegal invasion [the word ‘genocide’ is persistently absent from the press even now])). Excuse my misanthropy but, after Labour and the Tories have so utterly shattered society that Big Brother is actually considered entertainment, appealing to the masses on an intellectual level is somewhat na├»ve.

Your observation that continental Green Parties have successfully compromised by entering into power-sharing agreements is your 2nd valid point. I am somewhat astounded at the lack of solidarity between the UKGP and its continental siblings- this aloofness seems typical of people who label themselves “Marxist” (I certainly don’t abide being labelled such).

Your statements re: ecology are bizarre. A little time on Wikipedia reveals that the founding father of ecology was a German but that he was just one of several figures of mixed nationalities who were engaged by the Imperial powers of the time to embark on missions of scientific exploration. As a biologist myself I am tempted to observe that the “real” father of ecology is a chap called Darwin, who came up with something called evolution. The environmentalist movement was kick-started by the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” detailing how pesticide residues were bioaccumulating up food chains and causing birth-defects in raptors and other top-predators. The movement was international almost from its inception.

I too am wholly supportive of coalitions with parties that allow GP policies to enter into legislation. I do consider your party to be insufficiently radical as I consider sustainable development to be the most important issue of my lifetime and, whilst the GP put it at the top of their priority list, the LibDems use the term as a sugar coating on their more uninspiring policies without adding anything of substance. You may think you are realists but from where I’m sitting you are populists without any long-term vision for the future of our society and the rest of the world. The Tories are rich people and want to get richer at the expense of the poor. Labour sacrificed all of their principles to become the populist New Labour (and stole some of your policies in the act). You are too close to Labour to compete now except when the protest votes come out. I believe that state-action is necessary to change our political paradigm to one where the needs of the many (the population) outweigh the needs of the few (the corporations). Its that simple. You either agree with me- in which case you value sustainable development, the perpetuation of our society and culture amidst the coming onslaught of various threats to our way of life (peak-oil, a global population of 9 billion people all wanting to live Western lifestyles and the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons [I see that your 2005 manifesto advocates the maintenance of the UK’s existing nuclear deterrent in direct contradiction of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]) or you hold your civilisation in such little regard that you are content to haggle over minor points of ideology with the mainstream parties whilst the elephant in the room slowly mutates into an enraged, rabid mammoth. So which is it to be Lucy?

As a point to anyone reading this I ask you to watch George Monbiot’s interview on TheRealNews.com for a little perspective on the next 20 years of your lives. It can be found here: http://www.therealnews.com/web/index.php?thisepisode=25 "



So . . . .who d'you think's winning so far?

the market has failed

House prices are set to rise by 40% in the next 5 years. If you, like me, aren't on the property ladder now then you, like me, never will be. Its a torrid state of affairs but there simply aren't enough houses to buy. Last year more houses were bought on buy-to-let mortgages than were built. There are three ways that the government can improve the stock of quality, sustainably constructed housing: They can institute an unprecedented building program; they can relax planning laws so that people can build their own eco-properties in green belts or they can tax the shit out of second homes and buy-to-lets. The problem is, I don't see this government having the balls to do any of this. Meagre progress in the field of eco-homes in Pembrokeshire still demand that people are 75% self-sufficient. The 3 million home building program the government is wankingitself off over has already been damned by the National Housing Federation, who say it will bankrupt them. And can anyone really imagine that Brown is going to take the liberal, egalitarian step of using progressive taxation to penalise second home owners?


Addition:
So, if I buy a house now for £100,000, in five years time it will be worth £140,000. This will produce an income of £8,000 a year simply through appreciation of my property (less the 2% inflation but I can't be arsed to work that out). That's pretty much half of my annual income again. Fuck! I'm going house hunting!

Monday, August 06, 2007

this is very interesting

I have been occasionally browsing this blog and I recently went through the section where they discriminate between 'their' version of economics (Environmental Economics) and Ecological Economics. I reckon that the Ecological one is more relevant to today's problems, despite the problems they mention with Robert Costanza's papers. A site more positively positioned towards Ecological Economics is this one.

If you have time, and are interested in this subject, this paper describes the differences between the two disciplines very clearly.

Boris Johnson is a cock-weasel

Johann says he is, so there.

COntrast this with the Conservative party line, as presented by this moron.

Islamism or cristo-fascism, who is the bigger threat?

Well, according to these chaps its the latter. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Misanthropic Principle

I was thinking about the anthopic principle and this line of thought happened to cross with the definition of misanthropy I encountered the other day. Anyhoo, I googled this bastard product of idle contemplation out of curiosity and found nothing conclusive except a bizarrely amusing essay in the style of Douglas Adams, a page of letters on the abuse of the anthropic principle in New Scientist and some song lyrics by a punk rock outfit. I am a little disappointed, although also slightly wowed. It has the ring to it of those epic essays on the human condition such as Kant's "What is Enlightenment?" or Hardin's "Tragedy of The Commons". I am certainly arrogant enough to imagine that I have the depth of vision to pen an equally insightful piece and I think the title has been presented to me by my subconscious. I just wish I had timed it better because I am in the middle of a large-scale sampling experiment for my PhD and this is going to niggle at the back of my mind until I can find the time to do something about it. I also don't want to mess this opportunity up by throwing a half-hearted attempt up here and then being too lazy ever to return to improve upon it.

Oh, the burden of intellect!

author of CofE guidebook shoots his religion in the foot

In marked contrast to the cristo-fascists in the States who frequently foam at the mouth at the mere mention of JK Rowling's name, it seems that the Church of England has taken a more accepting position to the epic saga of one young Wizard's fight against the Dark Lord. Unfortunately, he shoots himself- and all sky-pixie botherers- neatly in the foot with one concise sentence.

"To say, as some have, that these books draw younger readers towards the occult seems to me both to malign JK Rowling and to vastly underestimate the ability of children and young people to separate the real from the imaginary."

Did anyone else spot his error?

the future of public transport

It wouldn't work in Plymouth 'cos of all the fuck off great big hills. But in flatter country this would transform our society for the better. I love it.

I was in The Hague last year for a conference and hired a bike for 5 days for about 35 euros (why does my keyboard have a dollar sign, but no euro?). It was awesome to cycle around the nice (flat) Dutch urban sprawl, through parks and along cycle lanes, in relative safety and comfort. I can't describe how much the experience contrasts with the ride to work I have to endure in Plymouth. Getting skimmed by buses, dodging holes in the road and sleep-walking edestrians and having my muscles abused by the monster hillage. Oh well, at least I get my 20 minutes aerobic exercise a day when I can be arsed. I haven't ridden in for a couple of weeks because my brakes and duralier need attention. Must get that sorted . . . . .

Max Hastings vs The MOD

Max won. By light years.

I agree with the chap in the comments who is quick to observe that Max fails to condemn the wasting of several £billions on the Trident replacement, not to mention the subversion of the NPT.

Johann Hari on our failed public education system

Johann has some insight into the intellect of two of the Big Brother House occupants. Now, far be it from me to even contemplate watching Big Brother, Johann obviously does and- unlike the vast majority of couch-vegetables out there- has used his time in front of the goggle box to analyse and assess the intellectual potential state of these two deprived urchins.

Appropriate quote for the subject matter:

— Mark Twain


The cultural implications of this are detailed also, together with some of his usually warm slagging of Blair. The point he makes most strongly, however, comes across in the quote he inserts from the American author, Martha Gellhorn:

“People will often say, with pride: 'I'm not interested in politics.' They might as well say, 'I'm not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.'"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007