Monthly Archives: April 2013

What’s really important?

Just some thoughts for today, I’ll try to keep it brief.

I was reading an article the other day about people rioting over gay marriage legislation being introduced in France.

And the thought occurred to me – we live in a world where people riot over gay marriage, but celebrate the murder of innocent people, and venerate their killers. We live in a society that spends more money on researching male pattern baldness, than cures for fatal diseases such as Malaria.

To any rational person I suppose this kind of behavior is rather nonsensical. What harm does one’s sexual orientation cause to other peoples lives? What benefit is it to humanity to have a head full of hair, compared to protection from a lethal disease?

The value’s we instill and give to our children propagate through the generations. We often argue that concepts such as war are inherent to human beings, an evolved quality that cannot be simply abolished. Yet history paints a very different story of how we humans came to be. For the better part of the million year journey we have taken to reach this point,.humanity has been a predominantly peaceful and reciprocal species.

For us to continue down the path of self interest, greed and destruction, would be the self inflicted undoing of mankind. With the power of rational thought came the ability to break free from the shackles of inherited behavior. No longer are we burdened by the unwavering dogma of genetic code, the four walls of instinctive behavior.

If we are to accept that man and woman alike has something we have labelled “free will”, then it is within our power to dramatically alter the course of the future, and commit to an action using the power of reason, and the capacity of our intellects to guide us in this decision making. As living humans we have an unprecedented access to the collective knowledge of humanity, and we ought to make use of it.

Hence, I think it both important for us to dramatically alter the way we perceive the world, our actions within it, and the lessons or “values” we instill in our offspring. We can create a world, and a version of humanity, that value’s Freedom, that permeates a sentiment of equality and mutual respect for one another. We can be the generation that powerfully changes the world and the course humanity finds itself currently on.

Throughout the ages, every great civilization has met the same catastrophic fate. It is up to us to change this preordained course of events. And how can we do this? In every action we make, in every thought we express and share with others. In a previous post, I made the claim that time and pressure have the power to change even the most unwavering beliefs. Indeed, it is the evolution of ideas that will shape humanity in the coming centuries. And for the first time in the history of life on this planet, we have taken this process into our own hands. We define what is morally good, we collectively agree on the rules of society and how we ought to treat one another, and the planet as a whole.

Let us harness the power of compassion, let us propagate a sentiment of love among all of brothers and sisters on this earth, for the short spell we find ourselves here.

That’s the end of my rant for today. Hadn’t posted in a while since I’ve been busy learning to design blogs (or trying to at least). My plan is to make a few Photoshop tutorials using what I’ve learn’t, so check back beginning of next week for some useful design tips.

Till next time friends.

Peace
x

The Ascent of Man, The Cosmos and modern Television

A short post from me today. Just an update on what I’ve been up to, and a reason for the lack of posts recently.

Over these last few days I have taken a very insightful and enlightening journey. I was watching Charlie Brookers Screeenwipe Thursday evening I think, when something caught my interest from the fast paced barrage of joke after joke spewing from the screen. The episode in question was exploring the effect television has on society. Unsurprisingly, Brooker had some very interesting points to make, namely, that television, by and large leads to alienation, despair and fear – the message delivered with his usual mix of cutting wit and frightening accuracy. However, he notes there are exceptions to this rule, and gives the example of one show in particular.

The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski

For the uninitiated, Brooker very eloquently compares watching the documentary to “taking a warm bath in university to juice”. And I’m sure most will concede, it is very hard to not feel a sense of wonder and awe when listening to Brownowski speak of the history of mankind, its journey through the ages, an epic voyage that spans across millennia. From mere humble beginnings, scrapings upon once bare lifeless stone, humanity has come a great way indeed. And while I have covered anthropological issue’s before in this blog, nothing can compare the pure breadth and articulation to which Bronowski describes the processes that have shaped modern man. He turns history, science and mathematics into poetry, and it is of no surprise then, that I have been unable to tear myself away from the series of essays since I began watching.

Watch below the whole thing, for free, using the embedded player below:


Similarly, if you enjoy this series, I would recommend you watch Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, first aired in the US over 30 years ago (That’s 1980, for the lazy or mathematically challenged). 


The Cosmos” by Carl Sagan

Another prominent scholar from the time, Carl Sagan speaks with a passion and understanding that penetrates the heart and mind equally. There are few in this world who can speak so well about such topics, and ignite such passion within the listener for Astronomy and the Physical Sciences. An inquisitor by nature, a poet at heart, Carl Sagan is very widely known for his essays on the nature of the Cosmos. Recommended viewing for anyone interested in the story of creation, our inevitable demise, and the universe in its entirety. The persistence of memory in particular, is an episode I have seen countless times, and has stuck with me. I consider this series a wonderful bed time story for the budding intellectual. Unlike Bronowski, Sagan is a resolute optimistic, and the most wonderful idealist, but also a very stringent realist at the same time. His idea’s profound, and his legacy everlasting. 

Again, you can watch it all for free, using the link to YouTube below (apologies it would not let me embed the video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHb-Sn40cSk&list=PL8AB00392CBEDD473

The Future of Television
Despite their age, the quality and insight of both these series has suffered little. I find this strange, considering the great deal of time that has accrued since their original inception and creation. The plethora of scientific revelations that humanity has come to discover since then, have undoubtedly made the shows obsolete in terms of their accuracy.  Yet their is some intangible value that still remains, and is hard to find nowadays in modern incarnations of such ground breaking documentaries. It seems in our quest to simplify, in our desire to make television more accessible and popular, we forgot about the very thinkers that forged and crafted such idea’s, through the process of silent and solitary diligence.

Brooker was right when he claimed we need  more academics on television, and fewer celebrities. The  leisurely journey of learning and discovery that both these men take us on, bear testament to how thoughts are everlasting, and that wisdom can span over ages. 

If you haven’t already, watch these two documentaries, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Till next time friends.

Peace and Love

x

Amnesty International and Human Rights

So this Friday (or tomorrow, depending if I finish this today or not) I have an interview at Amnesty International. The position for a Volunteer Internal Communications Adviser  and understandably so, I am very nervous along with excited at the prospect of working for the world renowned non-government organization. 

Hence I thought in light of he impending interview, and my need to prepare, perhaps it best I write a post pertaining to the history of the organization, along with some useful information regarding Human Rights, and some of the work Amnesty does. Also to finish with, I’m going to give some pro tips for job interviews I found on the intertubes.

Let the good times roll.


It all started with one man and a vision…

“Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government…The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done.”

The tale of two Portuguese men and a toast to liberty…
Peter Benenson – the man who started Amnesty International firmly believed that collectively we can instigate change in this world. One autumn day over half a century ago, Peter happened to come across an article whilst traversing the London Underground. The story in question was of 2 Portuguese  students from the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. The two men had been unjustly detained for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. “Having drunk a toast to liberty” was an arrestable offence at the time, and in the Spring of 1961, both were sentenced to seven years in prison for this supposed crime. 

Benenson was not a man to stand idly by upon hearing such harrowing news. Rather than succumb to idleness in the face of such injustice, he chose to express his views and garner public support for their freedom. And it was here that Amnesty International was started, instigated by the writing of one very important article. One we might attribute to a categorical change in the world and how we view Human Rights. “The Forgotten Prisoner”, published in “The Observer” on 26th May 1961 marked this change. The article also launched “The Appeal for Amnesty”, calling for united “common action” to free the unjustly detained Portuguese men. 

This marked the birth of an idea – together we are strong, together we can cause monumental change in the world. Benenson’s appeal for amnesty on the 28th of May 1961, became the starting date, but since then Amnesty International has matured, pervading much of the world to help mitigate human rights abuses far and wide. The primary objective of the organisation remains the same,  which is to “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated,” but much of how this has accomplished has changed. The prevalence of the internet has dramatically altered the manner in which we communicate idea’s, and thereby a great deal of Amnesty’s public awareness campaigns, petitions, donations and the like, are accomplished through this prevailing medium. 

Amnesty International and the work they do…


There are 6 key area’s in which Amnesty International attempts to deal with using the donations and efforts of their 3 million members worldwide. These are outlined below:


-1-
Women’s, children’s, minorities’ and indigenous rights
There is an estimated 5,000 minority groups in the world, and more than 200 countries and territories have significant ethnic, religious or linguistic minority groups. About 900 million people belong to groups that experience disadvantage as a result of their identity, with 359 million facing restrictions on their right to practise their
religion. Minorities are among the most marginalized communities in many societies. In wealthy countries as well as in the least developed regions, they are often excluded from participation in socio-economic life, and experience long-term poverty. People from minority groups rarely have access to political power to influence policies, or a government that is accountable to them. Furthermore, they frequently encounter obstacles to manifesting their minority identity, such as not being able to speak their own language freely, profess their religion, or enjoy traditional cultural practices. Last but not least, minorities are the habitual victims of conflict, facing violence, ethnic or religious persecution, and in the extreme case, genocide.

-2-
Ending torture
Torture is the practice or act of deliberately inflicting severe physical pain and possibly injury on a person, though psychological and animal torture also exist…Reasons for torture can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, interrogation or coercion of the victim or a third party, or simply the sadistic gratification of those carrying out or observing the…[Torture] is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention officially agree not to torture prisoners in armed conflicts. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 147 countries.

Despite these international conventions, organizations that monitor abuses of human rights report widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world. Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some of them openly.

-3-
Abolition of the death penalty
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.
It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.

-4-
Rights of refugees
A refugee is a person who has fled from their own country due to human rights abuses they have suffered there because of who they are or what they believe in, and whose own government cannot or will not protect them. As a result, they have been forced to seek international protection. Refugee rights include:
1. Protection from being forcibly returned to a country where they would be at risk of persecution.
2. Protection from discrimination
3. Protection from penalties for illegal entry
4. The right to work, housing and education
5. The right to freedom of movement
6. The right to identity and travel documents
-5-
Rights of prisoners of conscience
A prisoner of conscience was defined by Benenson as:
“Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence. We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own.”

Most often associated with the human rights organisation Amnesty International, Benenson’s article was instrumental in its foundation, the term can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views. It also refers to those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for the non-violent expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.

-6-
Protection of human dignity
Everyone wants their dignity respected and protected. We understand this concept intuitively. But what does dignity mean for law and human rights? In the UK, dignity is an emerging legal concept, an adjunct to human rights, which is used to protect people’s humanity and identity. As such, it sits in the wider human rights landscape of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) brought into UK law through the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998.
Protecting and defining dignity through human rights law is not always a straightforward business, especially because it often raises, in the words of the European court of human rights, a question of civilisation. Every breach of human dignity not only affects the individual victim, but also society as a whole, by raising the question of how we choose to live (and die) and relate to each other. It thereby calls into question the state’s role in protecting our dignity. 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The full text is published by the United Nations on its website.
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights

Overall Amnesty International have been a presiding force in the enforcement of Human Rights worldwide, and cover a broad range of abuses. I would recommend you do your own reading into the UDHR and the organization, and perhaps think about volunteering or becoming a member. 

All of us at some point in our lives have been made to feel small, have been powerless to help ourselves – as long as there are people being oppressed, there will always be people trying to win back and uphold their unalienable rights. Keep on fightin’ yo!!


So now for some pro Interview Tips: 
So I’m not gonna take credit for these tips…I found them on reddit. But very useful information nonetheless, and worth a read, even if you are fortunate enough to have a job. 
And to those of us who arnt fortunate enough to have employment, good luck with the job hunt, I hope these tips prove useful.
1. Answer their questions. Lots of people will start answering the question but never really finish because they go off on a tangent halfway through. It’s frustrating as an interviewer to have to ask someone to get back on point, but it’s also a little embarrassing for the candidate and it can throw you off your rhythm. I want to know the information because it’s important. It also shows you listened to what was being asked of you and you delivered what was required.
2. At the end of the interview, ask if they have any concerns about your resume, your interview answers or your application in general. It’s a great way to see if there is anything they perhaps misunderstood or you didn’t explain well enough. I’ve asked this in every interview and in all but one it’s given me some immediate feedback and the ability to allay any concerns they might have. For example, I once had someone say I interviewed great but they were concerned I lived too far away, something that didn’t come up in the interview. I was able to then say I would be relocating.
3. Do interview prep before you go. You should be able to predict most of the questions, but just writing down what your strengths are and thinking about them will increase your confidence. Make notes on the company and role from the job description; how does that match up with your skills and experience? This crossover is important because it’s usually why they will hire you.
4. Take a notepad, for example the one you used for your interview notes. Make sure you ask if it’s okay that you have your notes out, or if you can take notes during the interview. You won’t always be able to do this because of a strict NDA, but that’s why you ask. Good things to write down include the person’s name since it can be easy to forget, especially if more than one person is interviewing you.
5. Ask what the next steps are and when you might be hearing from them. Use your instincts when it comes to follow up. If you interviewed at retail and it went well, check in with the manager in a week and let them know you enjoyed your interview and you’ll be available to start very soon if they pick you. But if you interview at a large company that specifically doesn’t take phone calls then don’t harass them. If I’m in HR you email me asking when you will hear, chances are I’m chasing the hiring manager for an answer too.
6. Do not be scared of failure. If you perform poorly, you’ll know it straight away and my best advice is just to take the rest of the day off and forget it. Then when you’re feeling better try to figure out why it went poorly; bad preparation etc. I find a big one is the stress of getting somewhere new, where to park, who to ask for when I get there etc. Then work on these for the next interview.
If you did well and didn’t get it, there was probably someone better. Don’t take it personally. 
And always look for an occupation that enthuses you – do what you love and you’ll have a great deal more satisfaction in life (or so I’m told). 
I hope this post proved to be insightful friends, till next time…

The Boston Bombings put in perspective


A terrible tragedy occurred yesterday in Boston.

Left: Victim of Boston Bombings  Right: Victim of US Drone Strikes
Three innocent people were killed and dozens more injured at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The cause of this disaster? Two bombs were detonated 50 to 100 yards apart as competitors crossed the finish line at the world renowned sporting event.

The reaction, and rightly so of course, has been a volatile mix of sadness and mourning, coupled with anger and a seething appetite for justice. In regards to the issue, President Obama made a statement, claiming that they “will get to the bottom of this”, and “any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

Three people needlessly died yesterday in Boston, lives brought abruptly and very sadly to a catastrophic end. My question is, what would constitute as justice in this regard? More death? More destruction? This has been the response from the White house in regards to previous attacks on the US mainland.

The Boston attack has been the worst of its kind since the September 11th bombings, hence it is of no surprise then that this should be such a pressing matter for the US government, and a dominating headline for the media worldwide. The army, navy and FBI swarmed the devastated city to catch any lingering presence of the assailants – closing down phone lines, roads, and searching bags for any more explosives left undetonated. And we all saw this with live coverage,  beaming into our rooms, from the many news teams scrambling to give us every morsel of information they could conjure.

And this pertains to the issue I hope to raise today, which is simply; why does something like this always seem so much worse when it happens to a wealthy industrialized nation? What constitutes as justice to such an abhorrent attack on innocent people?

I think we need a little perspective before we can really gauge what is an appropriate response to the deaths and injuries incurred yesterday at the Boston marathon. If we are to accept the premise that every life counts, every life has objective meaning – then surely the weight of yesterday’s tragedy pales in comparison to the many deaths that accrue worldwide on a daily basis. Many of these deaths may also be directly correlated to actions by the US government, the actions of wealthy industrialized nations and their citizens.

For instance, one of the three killed yesterday was an eight year old child, and we mourn for them – rightly so of course. However, when you look at the issue of infant mortality worldwide, over 16000 children die a day from easily preventable causes, such as hunger, poverty or curable illness. Throughout the 1990’s more than 100 million children died from starvation. A terrible loss undoubtedly, and more so even, when we consider that all these deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers. All these lives could of been saved with what the world spends on its military in two days. Did you know, that the cost of a missile could feed a whole school full of children for five years straight? Even in wealthy countries such as the US, one out of every eight children under the age of twelve goes to bed hungry every night. A child died as a result of a suspected retaliatory attack from the loosely grouped extremist organisation known as Al-Qaeda. Thousands die every day because we’re to busy waging war to care about our sick and impoverished, our poor and destitute – you tell me, what is the real tragedy here? 


Disparity between the wealthy and poor families in the world. 
In aggregate, there are a great deal many more lives lost in the pursuit of power, the financing of destruction for profit.  Similarly, there are also many lives lost through capitalism and the allure of unrbidbled wealth and enterprise. All of these deaths are considered acceptable,  as they produce substantial economic gain for a privileged and unscrupulous few. And often we find such stories are very rarely adequately reported, and such data only found and used by the most persistent of fact checkers and activists. Sadly, it seems the majority of us are uninterested in the cold hard facts, which make for somewhat depressing and uninteresting news. Several more people were killed in Iraq? Happens to frequently to care about. Thousands die of hunger every day? We’ve heard it all before apparently, and we feign empathy for these poor individuals, watching their plight on fifty inch plasma screens whilst we tinker away on frivolous and expensive gadgets. 

Three die in bombings in Boston, and it’s all over the news – 24 hours of unrelenting live coverage. I turnt on the TV at 3am yesterday, in the UK, and there is still little I can do to avoid coverage of the attack. Yet there was no talk of world hunger, there was no mention of the Iraq attacks, the Afghan drone strikes that killed 40 at a wedding prior to the Boston bombings. We can’t just cherry pick what lives matter like this. We ought to be impartial in how we treat others and how much we value their well being.  While a dramatic and fear provoking attack in Boston caused people weep, caused the world all over to send their prayers to the people killed and maimed, their families – yet today alone, over 16000 children have died quietly and unknown of starvation. The most basic human need, we could not provide for these children. And not a single tear was shed by us for them, the people in the wealthy west, who live lives of comparable luxury. 

Death knows no hierarchy, hence every life should hold equal importance. Every life lost should surmise in the same amount of sadness and anger. But being merely evolved primates, that rely on social interactions, that depend of mainstream news outlets to tell us what to think and how to feel – we simply can’t empathise with these people who we seemingly hold no relations to. The use of repetitive, headline grabbing, mass produced and simplified content for the general public has blinded us to the real grave injustices  perpetuated in this world. US led drone strikes to the Mumbai bombings in 2011, where 26 were killed and 130 injured – they just don’t seem to resonate with us as much, nor do the killings seem as profound. The many deaths as a result of world hunger or curable disease also seem to lack the potency of a terrorist attack in rallying a nation behind a cause. But the point is, they are just as appalling, and even more so, when we consider that our tax money pays to finance such destruction, and to antagonize those who now wish to harm us. 


What would you rather we made? Schools or Missiles?
Instead of sending bombs to oppress those in these distant lands, why don’t we build schools to educate their children? Instead of making missiles and stealth bombers to kill and destroy, why don’t we facilitate the industrialisation and modernisation of these countries? What’s really important to us in this world? The lives and wellbeing of others? Or our own safety? The well being of our neighbours over the well being of people in distant lands unbeknownst to us?

We advocate, or at least allow the killing of many innocent souls in state sponsored terrorism. Families destroyed, lives wiped out by an unmanned drones that drop well coordinated, and well financed terror from the skies. Two days ago, four innocent people were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. Yesterday, 40 innocent died in Afghan drone strikes, and many more seriously debilitated. Where is these peoples press coverage? Where is the outrage we feel for the Boston victims? Why should these lives matter any less to us? If we are to accept that these are people also, with their own dreams, hopes, ambitions and worries – then why do we not care for these lives, as we do for the citizens in our own nations? 

The problem is that these people have become mere statistics to us. A foreign life destroyed holds no comparative importance to a domestic life lost. Where is this sense of entitlement coming from? Simply because we live in a rich and powerful nation, and we are not used to such domestic attacks, a domestic attack seems so much more unjust. Yet the reason for this infrequency is predominantly because we are too busy oppressing the very nations that are likely to have carried out the Boston bombings. When you wage war in other nations, of course you must expect some retaliation. If this does ultimately turn out to be another “terrorist” attack, it seems America’s chickens are coming home to roost yet again. 

In regards to the far right’s response to the issue – I read a story of a Fox News reporter, who tweeted after hearing about the bombings, with no evidence or inkling as to the perpetrators, that we should kill “all Muslims”  because they are “evil”. This is a foolish and narrow minded viewpoint to take. If the Boston Bombings upset us, so too should all deaths worldwide, particularly those we could alleviate by simply objecting to our government’s foreign policy, and those lives we could save with little loss to our own well being. Erik Rush should know very well that genocide is never an acceptable means of ending violence – there are innocent Muslims just as there are innocent American’s. Further death is never the solution to such problems. 

On the issue of media bias – of course we expect, and are used to media bias for a news agencies country of origin. And perhaps the frequency of such events, or the lack of more concisely, played a part in the stories dominating of headlines. Yet the US media is wide reaching and pervades many global news outlets. Thereby the stories leaving the US have a large sway in what the world thinks, and how the actions are perceived by the international community. Afghan media for instance, does not have the financial backing nor international credibility to spread such stories of US terrorism as effectively. And any US citizen who should question the US’s tacit use of drone strikes is an unpatriotic extremist supporter in the eyes of many. However, I believe that the media at large should be an impartial force for good in the world, and consider the welfare of all people when choosing what news to report. Hence, news outlets ought to report stories impartially, giving the appropriate time to all tragedies and human rights abuses that require our attention. And similarly, we the public who consume this content, ought to take the time to treat all stories objectively, and give all people the love and respect we show our neighbours, friends and kin – even those in distant lands that are unknown to us. 


Mourners from different parts of the world.
Left: Boston Bombings Right: Drone strike victim in Pakistan
My love and condolences to everyone who died today. The starving children and adults alike, the people who died in the Iranian earthquake, the Afghan bombings – those murdered through the pretence of war,  those who died as a result of curable illness in poverty stricken lands, those of us who are underpaid and overworked, those who’s lives were cut short working as slaves to the corporate elite. RIP to you all, and may the responsible groups “feel the full weight of justice” one day soon.

Never underestimate the power of a good nap

A day in the life of an unemployed graduate…

I had one of those really bad sleeps yesterday night. The kind when you’re woken up abruptly to a cat meowing, or a roaring fart from the other room. You then toss and turn trying to fall asleep again, but to no avail. My only consolation now is knowing an afternoon nap awaits me. A brief trip to the land of nod will be just the respite I need from the pervading tiredness, creeping through every facet of my being, dulling my wit and diluting my thought. Even as I write this I can’t help but let our a deep yawn, stretching that gullet open, sucking in the warm moist air and sighing with exhaustion.

And its no wonder then, that the infamous siesta is making a comeback in Spain as of late. But for me, it’s always been a staple routine of everyday life.

The humble cat nap, peaceful snooze, a light doze, catching forty winks before you get cracking again with your day – I couldn’t recommend it enough. But that’s just because I’ve always been a bit of a snoozer. Some have even gone so far as to compare to the legendary Snorlax (a sleepy pokemon, for the uninitiated). Eating and sleeping are two of my favourite pastimes. Nothing beats a big lunch followed by half an hour of dream time to wash it all down.

Nap time at the petting zoo
But also we find that in some cultures, particularly in warmer climates, an afternoon snooze is common place. So here’s four reasons why people might choose to nap, and why you ought to join them…
1. It’s bloody hot outside

 

So this doesn’t really happen as much as we’d like in rainy ol’ England, but it is no coincidence that the birth place of the siesta is a very warm place indeed.

The average temperature in Spain often soars above 30 degrees Celsius throughout the nations summer months. In fact, most countries that do have a designated time for napping during the afternoon do so because of excessive heat. This generally tends to be between 2-4pm in topical or subtropical regions, including Greece and Egypt

There’s no point in risking serious harm to yourself working away in the hot afternoon sun – heat stroke ain’t no joke. Better have a nap instead.

2. Maybe I shouldn’t of eaten all those taco’s for lunch…

Ever eaten to much? Then you know that sleepy “maybe I shouldn’t of eaten all that cheese at 1 pm” feeling. Congratulation friend, welcome to the club.

While copious amounts of cheese is never a bad thing in my opinion, the consequences can be drowsiness and a strong desire to not move as the food curdles and digests away.

When you eat, blood is diverted away from other organs to your stomach to aid digestion. Your red blood cells are needed to digest the food and circulate nutrients throughout your body. Hence, less oxygen reaches your brain, and you start to feel tired.

For most, lunch tends to be the biggest meal of the day. Why not enjoy a large meal inside with family and friends, then have a light snooze to let that shit settle? It makes sense people, don’t question me on this.

3. Need to recharge

Research shows that a short nap can be effective at boosting productivity. In countries like Japan, workers are encouraged to sleep after lunch in order to reinvigorate, and thereby increase productivity.

Don’t just take my word for it – the National Sleep Foundation states that: “Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.”  

Substitute your afternoon coffee or caffeinated drink for a light nap, no longer than 40 minutes, and you’ll feel  increased alertness for several hours afterwards, without the aid of chemical performance boosters.

4, It’s a wonderful tradition

History is littered with the legacies of great thinkers, and great snoozers alike.

Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.

So basically, if you nap, you are great.

Whilst I’m not particularly a fan of Bush nor Reagan, the point stands – it is a tradition that many before us have followed, and we ought to maintain. The humble afternoon nap has truly done wonders for mankind, and what better way to show your appreciation, than turn off the computer, and have a good ol’ snooze.

 Happy napping friends!! = )
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Me peacefully napping on a warm June afternoon, whilst clutching a teddy bear.
Damn it I’m so cool
For more information about napping, follow the link below:

The concept of Moral Progress

So I saw a very interesting TED talk (thanks for that Freddie Collins), and considering ethics is the only module at university I actually enjoyed and tried to take part in, I thought I might have something to contribute to the discussion.

First off, watch the talk by Sam Morris, who is a neuroscientist and author of a New York Times best-seller:


Early in the talk Sam introduces this concept of “Moral Landscapes”. This is a frequently used term, one also used by a Peter Singer, a prominent ethicists and one of The Times 100 most influential people in the world. Here’s a video below outlining some of his views:


So now I take it you’ve watched these video’s, its time for us to begin the discussion  What do we mean by the concept of moral progress?

We live in a world of good and bad, light and dark, the enlightened and the barbaric. Or so it seems at least, we can broadly categorise moral agents and their actions within these two different groups.

Yet the world we live in also has varying definitions of what is considered good and bad. Social behaviour is something that is evolved, and hence we find across the ages and different cultures, there tends to be very differing moral premises, thereby altering the conclusions we draw from our social interactions.

Let me put it like this – morality is fickle. Like the great statues of Ozymandias, the sands of time will inevitably destroy all old ways of thinking.  Morality is ever changing in the collaborative eyes of society. Throughout history there have been both seismic “shocks” to our perceived view of what is good, and what is morally bad, influenced by exogenous as well as endogenous factors. Almost always however, progression of morality, or what we consider to be progression, has been shaped by the profound need of humanity to survive and adapt to its environment. Increasingly, reciprocity has become more prevalent in our globalised world, along with empathy and non-violence for these very reasons. It makes sense to promote nuclear disarmament for instance, when you could potentially be eradicated yourself in the event of international thermo-nuclear war.

On the topic of religion and morality – I find it no coincidence that with the birth of organized religion came an explosion in human population. While I concede that there are a great many socioeconomic factors that contributed to the relative success of the human species (including are industrialization, education, marriage, social status, family structure, health care and nutritional status), it is religion that has been integral to the progress in morality that we have today. I think for us to live in a cohesive and functioning society we required religion.  Sam states that “most moral talk is viewed through religion…[and] this is why we spend our time talking about gay marriage…and not genocide, or nuclear proliferation, or poverty or any other huge consequentialist issue.

Sam, along with Peter and other prominent ethicists of the 20th century, have shied away from religion. It seems we now live in a secular society, particularly more so in the west, which separates the laws of the state from the religious duties of church. However, as Sam notes, many still view moral questions through the perspective of religion. Is this a hindrance to moral progress? Does this cause backwardness?





So these are two images that stuck with me after Sam’s TED talk. The second in particular, is quite a poignant image in itself. The disparity in our ways of thinking are quite shocking when juxtaposed like this. On the one hand, in the west where we are free, where we have the utmost liberties and freedom, unburdened by the shackles of religious obligation to bronze age texts – we still have the “wrong” answers to questions of morality. Is this the kind of world we want our children growing up in? Not only that, but if you watch TV, read the news, media, film – anything these days that is produced for mass consumption, you get a sense that humanity has really taken a turn for the worse even in the supposed civilised world. Greed, self interest, lust – these qualities that were once considered morally “bad”, are now virtuous, are now necessary for a person to succeed in life. Yet Singer believes we ought to think differently, we ought to

In a society like America… bring up our children, both for their own good and for those of others, to know that others are in much greater need, and to be aware of the possibility of helping them, if unnecessary spending is reduced. They should also learn to think critically about the forces that lead to high levels of consumption, and to be aware of the environmental costs of this way of living.

However, despite this we can still rest easy knowing life in the west is comparatively easy when compared to that in Islamic or more conservative nation. Here the welfare of the individual is also dramatically compromised by adhering to a strict ideology, maintaining past beliefs and customs that we can consider to be outdated. We do not need to worry about eating pork any more because of religious duty or infectious disease. But we should still refrain from eating pork (and meat in general), because the resources that are used to produce it are unjustifiable with such rampant world poverty. The individual does not have the liberty to conceive and reason their own consequentialist conclusions like this however. They are not given the freedoms in which to figure out what is good, and what is bad given their moral premises. Does this mean that morality is subjective? Sam believes there can be moral truth. He gives the example of how in Chess, sometimes sacrificing the Queen is good a move, but generally speaking, it is always best to keep the Queen alive. Hence, it is always wrong to lie, but sometimes there can be exceptions to this rule. 

But as stated before, without religion of course, we would not have the moral progress that we have now. Reciprocal relations are integral to any civilised society, and religion provided stepping stones upon which our current moral topography is based. Through a slow process of miniscule changes, almost like the movement of tectonic plates, coupled with these tremendous “seismic” shocks in our concepts of basic human rights and individual liberties, we now have a very different moral landscape to lets say, 2000 years ago, and the birth of christianity. One that has a great deal many less peaks and troughs – we are more equal than ever it seems.

We can also use another Singer example to illustrate how our thinking has evolved, with the following moral premises;

If it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.
Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

It was religion that originally taught us the virtues of altruism, and promised us intangible rewards upon death, or even during life for exhibiting such qualities. However, with Singers reasoning, any individual can conclude that we are obliged to help those suffering,   for we can do so without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant. Yet religion also teaches us things that are just no longer applicable. The “moral exception” becomes the new rule of law, with enough time and frequency. We know that this is the nature of good and bad. What is good today, is bad tomorrow, and vice versa. Several hundred years ago to defame the king would be blasphemy, and your head would be chopped off as punishment. Nowadays we consider it good to question those in power. This change accrued out of necessity. Time and pressure have a way of changing even the most seemingly unwavering beliefs and customs. (Hence why I find this topography analogy to be very befitting when talking about changes in moral thinking.)

Similarly religion also changes, it adapts with morality as well. Sam’s example of demi-gods – new popes have saw fit to progress the Catholic religion as its code of ethics became less popular and applicable to people. 


And while we frequently see on the news, the hate filled and backward few spewing their (subjectively at least) ignorant views – there is still progression. Even in religion – the moderate majorities views coincide with the secularist progressive. It seems while some of us may be inherently good at “moral thinking”, on the whole, moral progress is a collective movement of societies views, of our movement along these moral topographies. 

What are my views then? A quote from Einstein below sums it up quite nicely I think –

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons close to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


I think, put very simply, what the world needs is love, love sweet love – and a damn lot of it. 



Just another article about North Korea…

Another day and another attempt at a blog entry. So I thought I’d write about North Korea.

How original.


It seems the news has been increasingly inundated with stories on the topic. North Koreans trapped in a destitute land – impoverished, waiting for a knight in shining armour to come sweep them off their feet. I imagine many North Koreans believe a carefree life of unbridled wealth and luxury awaits them in the free world. I heard a story of a North Korean defector recently, who having never eaten rice before, wept when they first smelt rice cooking on the streets of China. There are other tales of North Koreans pining for a life outside the solitary state, secretly listening to South Korean radio, trading illicit TV shows inconspicuously like Pokemon cards during year 5 maths lesson. Indeed, there is no denying that the DPRK is a hard and brutal dictatorship in which to reside for the unfortunate few born inside the communist regime. The individual strpped of their rights, their freedoms, everything that makes life so wonderful and enjoyable. It’s rampant inequality and human rights abuses I’m sure would make even the most poverty stricken democracy look like a veritable paradise.


Yet as of late, there has been strange smell in the air – festering, lurking in the shadowy corners of the internet, the media, and particularly in the nations within the supposed 3000km firing range of the North. Yesterday I read the story of a Japanese woman, who called for massacre of all Japan-based Koreans. Upon hearing this the crowd roared with boisterous warmongering. How very enlightened. And it seems the Chinese are also growing increasingly frustrated with the North. For instance, a clip from Jon Stewarts daily show mocking the nation gained millions of views from the predominantly Mandarin speaking nation. Even Russia has called for North Korea to play down their talk of war, and return to the silent obedience the UN requires of its smaller and less influential members.


Video: Japanese woman calling for massacre of Koreans.

Video: Jon Stewart on North Korea rhetoric

However, arguably most importantly the US also has become ever more wary of the declarations and actions of “imminent and all out” war repeatedly echoed from the isolated nation. “American, Fuck yeh!” seems to be response to any threat or inkling of war against the powerful and self proclaimed world police, the international bastions of “freedom” and “peace”.  So the the trumpet of war plays its enticing melody, and we rise to the occasion with unwavering zeal, with a wanting to silence the impoverished nation once and for all.

From what I’ve read and hear from the mainstream media it seems Kim Jong-Un and his band of mischievous merry makers are hell bent on destruction of the Western hemisphere. All those who should oppose the mighty Kim legacy shall “burn in a sea of flames”. And now I’m going to say that word everyone seems to going on about – rhetoric.


What does that even mean? I have two definitions of the word which might apply.


1. Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous:

or
2. The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.

Two very different meanings attributed the same word. Funny that, eh? Which definition are we to take in this particular situation? To be frank, there isn’t much to say about the unconvincing call to arms spewing from the North Korean propaganda machine these last few months. It is hardly persuasive, nor particularly vacuous. For over half a century the Korean peninsula has been divided by a bitter dispute, over economic and political ideological differences  The stern “communist” regime versus the devout “capitalist” democracy of the South. Both have their political alliances – but that seems to be waning for North Korea as of late. What does North Korea really want to achieve with this latest bout of verbal diarrhea? Do they really want to reunite the two nations, as they so often proclaim? Do they really want to wage a thermo nuclear war against the South Korea and its allies?


Despite appearances, it’s patently clear that Kim Jong-Un is not a foolish man. So it seems that the cause of this reinvigorated aggression may lie elsewhere, other than simply destroying the “western oppressors”, or rejoining the divided continent. Perhaps this is simply part of a political chess game, with cunning tacticians such as Kim’s aunt and uncle, Kim Kyong-hui Jang Sung-taek, pulling the strings from behind the curtains. Many sources claim these persons to be the one’s who truly hold the reins of power in the communist dictatorship. What we must understand is, that the North Koreans are not irrational monsters. Far from it in fact. It takes a certain degree of intelligence to run a state, albeit, even if it may be very poorly run comparatively speaking. Many have also speculated that this rhetoric is a move to establish Kim Jung-Un’s aptitude as a wartime leader. Domestically there have been numerous reports from defectors of internal political grievances, particularily within the North Korean military, over the leadership of Un, or more precisely, his capacity as a leader of the hermit nation. One defector responsible for for the 1987 plane bombing that killed over a hundred, claimed Un is “struggling to gain complete control over the military and to win their loyalty. That’s why he’s doing so many visits to military bases, to firm up support.”



When the US and South’s drills finish, I suspect the rhetoric will be toned down. A victory for the North, a success for the free world. Nuclear war has been averted once again, and we all go on with our boring lives. Back to the mundanities of everyday life. Back to the rice fields and cabbage growing for North Korea’s standing army of 1.2million, who are predominantly farmers when not primed for all out war on the peninsula.


On an international level however, it may be that this increased North Korean posturing has been to gain notoriety amongst the international community, an effort to “get a seat at the table”, if you will. However, the real cause of the problem, when you look at the issue objectively, is the UN’s and other nuclear armed states reaction to the third North Korean test earlier this year. Imposing fresh sanctions on the nation has done little to deescalate the situation, and has seemingly pushed Un further to the brink of war. This war of attrition has taken its toll on the people of the North, and its leaders alike. The last shipment of aid from the US was ceased in August 2008, when North Korea allegedly resumed its nuclear activities at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.


When it comes to nuclear warheads, is the DPRK really a threat at all? Some statistics for y’all – the US and Russia combined have over 16,000 nuclear warheads. The UK has 255, while other nuclear armed nations such as India and Pakistan have a 100 each. In fact, Pakistan just recently conducted a nuclear test with a Hatf-IV ballistic missile, to little international outrage as you’d expect with North Korea. What is the reason for this double standard?


In comparison, North Korea has an estimated meagre 10 nuclear warheads, and lacks the capability to properly use them at range. Disregard the rhetoric used by both sides, North Korea has no chance at winning any nuclear war. Not only that, the international community knows this, and expects no kind of tangible nuclear strike from Kim Jong-Un any time soon. Yet they still play up the issue – perhaps this is propaganda used by western powers, to manipulate us also? I can only speculate on such issue’s, but it is widely accepted that propaganda is also used by western states, in a much more tacit manner than Kim Jong-Un and his cronies. Is that better or worse? I think it’s better to know when you’re being lied to, and have to feign ignorance, than to blindly follow the news you are provided, without any idea of the corrosive deception it has been laced with.


So, back to the issue at hand. Disregarding what the news tells us, lets see if we can find our own objective truth here. I feel that is important that we do not let issues like this divide us. Ultimately, we all want a world that is free of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. Yet, as I’ve stated before, and will do again I’m sure – we have no right to coerce nations into abandoning their nuclear weapons programs, when we refuse to fully commit to the disarmament process ourselves. When it comes down to it – we have a huge stockpile  of nuclear weapons. Take a moment to look at the issue impartially – if we are to follow the thread of causality, the threat of nuclear war actually stems from us, and not North Korea. We are told having a nuclear deterrent is vital to our safety, and invest billions of tax payers money to maintain one – but let me ask you this, what about North Korea’s right to a deterrent? The North Koreans are not irrational monsters, as I stated before. They are human beings just like us, with a strong desire to protect themselves, just as we also have a very strong desire to protect ourselves and our interests. We must keep this in mind when trying to comprehend the motivation behind Kim Jong-Un’s actions.


Let me put it like this – if Kim Jong Un were to suddenly cease and desist his quest for nuclear arms, the world would only at best have 10 less nuclear warheads. A mere blip in terms of the overall number worldwide. We must begin the process of disarmament. This means nations such as the US, Russia and UK, who facilitate destruction by producing and distributing most of the worlds arms – and then perhaps these “terrorist” nations, such North Korea, Iran and the like, may be more inclined to follow suite. 


Because as it stands, we’re just a bunch of warmongering hypocrites. 

Ding dong…there’s someone at the door?

Ding dong…there’s someone at the door?
So, with all the talk of Thatcher’s recent demise, I thought it best I write a post on the topic. Now, you may be wondering, what would I, a man at the young tender age of twenty something, have to say about the woman?
Stereotypically I presume I fall within that category of the staunch anti-Thatcher unapologetic left winger –  one of a “new generation of leftists” representing “a backlash against the demoralisation of their routed parents.” I have found myself arguing with many on the internet about nature of her tenure, and if we can be justified in mocking the deceased woman.
So with a little time and patience, I have set about documenting her achievements and also her shortcomings. Some fun facts below:
1. Thatcher took power after the winter of discontent in 1979 – after which Labour was divided into two groups. Half of Labour became further left wing whilst the mid left members formed what we now know to be as the liberal democrats. This divided the vote. The reason the Tory’s remained in power for so long was because there was was little choice for the British voter. Eventually Thatcher went bat shit crazy and was angst from her own cabinet. The fact is inequality, poverty and unemployment all increased during her tenure as prime minister.
2. Thatcher was probably the single biggest political trailblazer for neoliberalism in the 1980’s, surpassing even President Reagan in the the extremity of her views, and how far she was willing to go to realise them. A bastion enterprise, a pioneer of Friedman’s free market policies. She championed this revolution globally, and many facets of these dramatic policies still remain.
3. Her biggest political success was her hawkish stance on the Falklands war. This wasn’t without controversy however, and her support of and friendship with mass-murdering dictators such as Pinochet (Chile) and Suharto (Indonesia) is somewhat indefensible. Oh and, lets not forget the infamous supporting of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, whilst dismissing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. (While Mandela arguably used forceful tactics during the apartheid, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorists. Hence, I concede perhaps you could give this one to Thatcher, but in retrospect, the human rights violations of apartheid far outweighed any dubious means Mendalla used to overcome it.)
4. She helped break William Beveridge’s post WWII Keynesian consensus, which was beginning to break anyway. We went from a mixed economy with the nationalisation of major industries, the establishment of the National Health Service and the creation of the modern welfare state in Britain, to the free markets more akin to our friends from across the pond. The policies were instituted by all governments (both Labour and Conservative) in the post-war period, until Thatchers regime of course. And her legacy still remains in this regard – many of the industries privatised during this period are still in the hands of private owners.
5. She set up the ideological framework which UK politics still uses today. Ultimately however, Thatcher extended state power to pursue the project of the free economics  Her along with her supporters argue a smaller government is important to efficiency, and free markets

“Thatcherism was championed by both the Hayekian market liberals of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute, and by the social conservatives led by Roger Scruton at the Salisbury Review. This uneasy alliance brought Thatcherism a breadth of intellectual and political support which a more coherent economic and social liberalism could not have emulated, and could make common cause in reducing union power.” 
http://www.ippr.org/juncture/171/10610/ideology-in-politics-reflections-on-lady-thatchers- legacy

6. She was a ‘true believer’, and naturally that means she is loved and hated. A polarising figure, for lack of a better idiom (I’m really starting to hate that term). However, as recent events have shown us, there is a clear trend to who hates Thatcher, who loves and venerate her, and those who are impartial to the issue. I understand that the latter two would dislike any ill words spoken of Thatcher, both being a woman who is deceased, and the founder of their political movements for the Thatcherite’s  Any public figure will be open to both defamation and veneration by their fans and enemies alike. We must accept the right to free speech we are all entitled to, even if that may go against our own personal beliefs.
7. She famously took on organised labour, breaking the miners union (NUM). She also sold off of social housing and focused on financial services at the expense of investment in industry. She closed many coal mines without proper retraining or compensation for miners. While this industry was arguable haemorrhaging, wasting tax payers money, there were far better ways to bring about this change in a slowly and less damaging way. She over relied on the relatively short term potential of North sea oil, using it to manipulate interest rates. She joined the ERM which caused the infamous Black Wednesday crash of the pound sterling. She introduced the dreaded poll tax, testing it in Scotland first, and then instigating an ideological sell off of nationalised industry, with a general tendency to take any policy to the extreme. Some of the hate is also directed at her for support of General Pinochet in Chile and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Also the Hillsborough cover up – where 96 people were killed, and the South Yorkshire police exonerated of any wrongdoing.

When it comes down to it, It’s not about getting angry at her – people have been angry for decades. This has merely resurfaced those grievances. We should take this opportunity to see what Thatcher did wrong, what she did right, and learn what we can from this experience. She was a bastion of neoliberalism, a champion of Friedman’s free market economics. And the legacy of her economic and political policies remain. People have every right to be angry, but they should use their anger to be constructive and not insult her. Thatchers death touches upon the bigger issue of if we are a welfare state that cares for its citizens and sets equality of utility as its precedent and guiding principle – or a free market capitalist, that gives equality of opportunity. The latter will always lead to income inequalities, as such policies tends to funnel wealth upwards. Trickle down economics has shown itself to be a dream, an absurd concept that has had little tangible reality. In fact, during Thatchers tenure as Prime Minister, the wealth of the poor grew considerably slower than during the Keynesian consensus days of pre Thatcher. This is why I dislike Thatcher and her policies. If we don’t discuss the issue how can we ever have knowledgeable discourse? And this means we mustn’t insult her – this does little to help bring the point forward, and abolish Thatcherism once and for all.

A thought just came to me…perhaps I should try and write it down?

– On the nature of writing and the prevalence of the internet –

 

A thought just came to me…perhaps I should try and write it down?
A word, an idea – the utterance of a phrase which bubbles and swells into a raging river of conscious thought. Perhaps I ought to write these thoughts down? So many times I have found, such thoughts slipping through my fingers, and into the deep empty stillness of moments past. It is quite a remarkable invention, adaptation – whatever you wish to call it. I’m talking about language that is. The ability to convey thoughts so superbly – the depth of meaning and insight that can be crammed into a few blobs of ink and a couple of sheets of paper is simply astounding. This process has been refined through the intentional modifications of an arguably highly developed primate since its original inception. In this technological revolution, the golden era of science – we find ourselves expressing our thoughts ever more frequently through the process of writing. I find it very interesting to observe how uniquely yet effectively we as individuals do just this, with the aid these technological innovations. From humble beginnings, scrapings upon once bare lifeless stone, the historians of prehistory – to the now widespread and prevalent use of the internet; emailing, web link compilers, social networking sites and the like. We have come a remarkably long way it seems. All these are seemingly rather interesting and novel adaptations, born of necessity and chance, by a still young and inquisitive species.

I speak to you as if I am separate and distinct from this very revolution in language and the spoken word. The pervasion of such innovations in communication however, I believe have very much altered my life immeasurably. Yet still, despite being so well traversed in the strange and wonderful of the internet, I am by no means afraid to admit, I often struggle to find the words to properly articulate my thoughts through these very new prevailing systems devised. This seems strange, doesn’t it? Surely, writing, only second to speaking and thinking, should come naturally to us all? And by no means is it that I cannot write, my problem remains, what to say? Is something worth being said, simply by virtue of the former two? That it can be thought and spoken? Mankind has always struggled to find absolute truth. Why are we here? How did we come to be? What is our inevitable fate? How should we treat one other? All profound questions that to date we have still not managed to answer with any degree of certainty. While we do as individuals seemingly have a greater voice in the big wide world of the internet, and an unprecedented access to words and ideas, it seems we are no closer to finding any real objective truth.

I know what you’re thinking now, this guy’s against the internet, this dude hates free speech. Now, before I start receiving hostile stream of comments. I just want to clarify; I do not question that the internet is truly a marvel of mankind, and firmly believe that free speech is integral to any real democracy. My problem is simply, the ability to write and express one’s view, to have a voice, is a responsibility in itself, a privilege of its proprietor, and not a right of the beholder. Of course as it stands, you can speak, think and write without constraint, and I don’t think this ought to change at all. My concern is simply perhaps we ought to change the manner in which we think, in which thoughts we choose to share with others. It is my belief that one is obliged to ascribe a certain level modesty, an open objectiveness to their thoughts and actions alike. Any fool can write – any person with an internet connection and some time to kill can express themselves and their ideas with little hindrance. But often I find, there is very little thought given to the meaning or validity of what is written and shared. For instance, I have often found many popular websites littered with comments from seemingly depraved and misinformed persons, spreading their venomous hate and repugnant ignorance with little obstruction. Yes, the internet is wonderful, but are we collectively making full use of its capacity to bring our thoughts together? Are we fully capitalising on its benefits to answer the truly important questions? I again, am by no means exempt from such behaviour. Many a time, I have found myself talking shit, to be quite frank with you. To people who are almost invariably, talking shit. And realization has slowly crept up behind me, from the shadows in which it hath lain hidden; that if we’re all just talking shit, then when are we ever going to get to any real truth?

That’s enough shit for today…and with that, I leave you, as I have nothing of any importance to say, nor any further significant insights left to divulge  Till next time, friends.

Who am I? What am I?

– A short philosophical article with an accompanying poem –

Who am I? What am I?

I am something…a bundle of mass that thinks and feels.
Protons and neutrons that blur around in a blurry haze,
Molecules crafted by time and chance to produce me, a living entity.

Yes, I think and feel,
and perhaps I am something real,
but I am no different to things that simply are.

The conscious manifestation of the universe,
I try to put it down in a verse,
What it is that makes me, me – and what it is that makes you, you.

I am embody all that is known,
I am aware of all that has been,
and I know of things yet to come.

Yes I have my own place in time like others,
this arrangement is unique to me
for this one moment in history,
within a boundless ocean of space and time.

So I embrace all that I am,
knowing that we once all united as one,
that we were all once part of a sun,
burning a million miles away…

Once I was told, that we live to die,
but I live to live, the only difference is – 
Some live on through what they give.

 

Indeed, who am I? This will be the subject of discussion today. I start to think on the topic, and a little voice speaks to me inside my mind. Is this little voice me? It sounds like me I presume. To be honest, I’ve never really thought what my little voice sounds like. It doesn’t seem to have a sound, even when I really try to listen to it. Words assimilate; memories accumulate, and my senses aggregate, to form a seamless stream of consciousness. Intuitively, this seems to be an accurate description of who I am. However, the fact remains that I can very easily subdue that same voice, and often, this person seems to disagree with themselves, exhibiting altering and irregular beliefs. This person is fallible, prone to error and misunderstanding. When it comes down to it, I have great disdain for this person for these reasons, and maintain that they are only a small part of what truly makes me, who I am.

 

So, let me explain this idea a little more. While it may be an intuitive thought at first to assume this little voice is in fact me, if you were to question my acquaintances; family, friends, colleagues and enemies alike, I’m sure you would find very differing incarnations of the person that is me. How could this be, if I am this single voice residing deep within my cerebral cortex? Hence, this is why I put it to you dear reader, what truly defines the individual, the essence of what they are, what they ever were, is external to the person and their mind. Everyone you have ever loved, hated, envied, have formed longstanding relationships with, to even those you may have only had a brief encounter – these are the people who define you. Perhaps a passing stranger in need of assistance, a shop clerk you spoke rudely to once, who you might of met for just a fleeting moment in the entirety of your life to date – these people and your interactions with them are what define you. Your actions, individual moments, they are a part of the cosmic you in some very small way. For these are your imprints in the causal motorways of time. Intertwined, weaving together in an intricate tapestry of cause and effect.

 

You could argue this to be an overly assertive and unwarranted claim. For I concede that the individual is capable of having an unprecedented impact in the world through the process of silent and solitary diligence. The persistence of the retiring investigator has had an immeasurable impact on humanity, despite a lack of direct interaction within a world of things and persons. It is ultimately the legacy of such thinker’s thoughts that remain. I merely need to incite the ideas of those great person’s littered throughout history, captured forever in the consequences of their thoughts, the words they spoke – the insights they left us with. I find it both deeply humbling, as well as incredibly motivating, that such people still left us with such significant revelations, despite being just as capable of error, lapses in judgement – just as human as you and I. So it can be argued, through their lasting impact, their prevailing influence, that they are more than just alive despite their lack of consciousness,  Such people are arguably more alive than any of us merely breathing individuals, and remain forever ingrained in the collective consciousness of humanity itself. So, with this realisation at our disposal, how would I define who I am now? I am everything and everyone that I have affected in my short spell upon this earth. I am every thought I have left that has changed the world, affected others and their thoughts, and thereby their actions alike – no matter how seemingly insignificant.

 

So now we have some idea of who I am, the question remains, that in the world of things, what am I? At its most basic, we have access to certain “truths”. These are; that I am most likely something, perhaps a living being to put more precisely. Someone who is aware of themselves and the very fact they are living. I have various senses that allow me to interact with a world of matter that in itself is unbeknownst to me to some degree. Not only am I aware of myself, but am aware of the consciousness of other beings, again, to some extent. I am a collection of particles that has manifested itself through the heavy hand of microscopic forces, a slow process of churning masses, created by a miraculous mix spontaneity and improbability. I am everything that has ever been, all that shall ever be, confined within a few cubic centimetres, in lump of living mass that called itself a “brain”. This organism is a manifestation of a need to “survive”, a need which itself would not exist, if the cosmos in which we reside did not exist. We are, put very simply, the conscious manifestation of the cosmos itself, for the cosmos is our creator, and we are its little voice, residing in some lowly corner of its magnificent magnitude. This is quite a feat, one which any being is entitled to hold, simply by virtue of living, breathing a single breath, expressing but one conscious thought.

 

Congratulations to you and I, we are indeed quite wonderful things it seems. Not only do we have the power to dramatically alter the course of the future, but are the embodiment of all that has ever been, living on the frontier humanity, forging a path that has not yet been walked by any living being before us. But while it was time and chance has crafted us, humanity now rests at a pivotal point in the story of the humanity and the cosmos itself. A prestigious and self appointed promotion, if you will, to the narrator of its tale, the story of its existence and inevitable demise. With the gift of consciousness, comes the burden of being the bearer of your own destiny. And what is the destiny of humanity? If only we could all subdue those primitive inclinations, the fallacies in our thought, like many before us have done – perhaps the world in which we currently reside, the world of the future, would be a better one for it,