Saturday, 11 October 2014

Earth in True Perspective - We need to make the most of this beautiful moment in time

Earth in True Perspective

This taken from baba mail page

Everything is relative. You don't need to be Einstein to understand that. A human is as big to an ant as a building may be to him. However, the world always seems such a huge place; so many countries, cities, forests, oceans, lakes, icebergs. So many animals and species. So much history.

But ever since we developed the ability to look beyond our atmosphere, it became more and more apparent that our blue marble is tiny. Too tiny to even comprehend, when compared to other planets, stars, galaxies and the universe itself. So just to give you an idea of how tiny we really are here on planet earth, here are some visual aids.

Given that there is an infinite (or near infinite) number of galaxies, stars, planets, it is impossible to comprehend that intelligent life, in some form or other doesn't exist, or has never existed or will never exist. Only religion can be true, for that to be a fact, which is something of a contradiction in terms really.

So assuming intelligent life does exist or has existed or will exist on other planets (if religion is not a fact) this means to the vast majority of the universe, I do not exist yet, or have existed and I'm now dead.

We need to make the most of this wonderful coincidence that we all happened to be living here on this single planet, in this single beautiful moment in time, and pool our resources including love, especially love, to make wonderful things happen, even if they are gone in a universal blink of an eye.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Labour is failing to capitalise on people's disgust at Tory attacks on the most vulnerable in society reports today:

Last night we reported that John Prescott has used his Sunday Mirror column to complain that Labour are pursuing a “core vote strategy” – but it turns out that’s not the only tough reading for Ed Miliband in today’s paper.

First, there are the polls. A YouGov poll in today’s Sunday Times (£) gives the Tories a two-point lead over, 36% to 34%. While one poll can be brushed aside (as Mark Ferguson explained after YouGov showed a single-point lead on Friday), two in quick succession cannot be ignored. Not a trend, but not an outlier either.

In the Rochester and Strood by-election meanwhile, a Survation poll for the Mail On Sunday suggests that UKIP’s Mark Reckless is heading for victory, with a nine-point lead over the Tories and 15 points clear of Labour. While no one (bar Luke Akehurst) really expected Labour to challenge here, it is a seat that we held (under different boundaries) in 2005, and the 25% Survation show is a drop from our showing there in 2010. Eight months to go, underperforming on 2010 is not good news anywhere.

The Sunday Times story also reports that senior Labour figures are unhappy with the party’s direction of travel. Lord Noon, a major donor, has joined the criticism for the mansion tax policy (criticism being led by London Mayor hopefuls Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Tessa Jowell), describing it as a “hopeless and desperate idea”. Noon said: “The mansion tax is going back to the 1970s.” Noon has donated over £100,000 to the Labour Party in the last year alone, but said that the leadership “really need to buck up”.

Prescott and Noon are not the only unhappy Labour peers. They are joined by Lord Levy, a chief fundraiser to the party under Tony Blair and who recently has been privately celebrated by party sources as being particularly “helpful” to Miliband.

Meanwhile, in today's Sunday Mirror, John Prescott writes:

If a Martian had landed on Earth and said “take me to your leader” he’d have ended up a bit confused.

At Labour’s Manchester ­conference he’d have seen a party ahead in the polls and seemingly heading to victory.

But he’d ask why the atmosphere was flat, where were the policies and who’s this guy in the park called Gareth?

Then our visitor would have visited the Tories in Birmingham, reeling from UKIP defections and facing defeat, but see smiles on faces, a confident leader and policies galore.

In Manchester, Labour had a great opportunity to put flesh on the bone, with papers and TV ­channels giving Ed Miliband and his team a blank page to get their policies across.

But bar a mansion tax to fund an increase in NHS funding and raising the minimum wage to £8 an hour by 2020, nothing sticks in my mind.

I do remember Ed Balls saying he would freeze child benefit but I can’t see many people racing to the polling booths for that.

Both, I feel, are missing the more obvious point. Labour is failing to capitalise on people's disgust at Tory attacks on the most vulnerable in society.

I don't think it's about courting business more, or courting business less, for that matter. I think it's about connecting with our values of decency, fairness, peace, ecology and along with that presenting a progressive vision for how we'd like society to be... And presenting that, for its own sake, regardless of whether that's pro-business or not. It's pro-people!

Lord Prescott suggests it's Ed Balls who is tying everyone's hands behind their backs, refusing to allow them to make any election promises which involve spending money.  I think Balls is way off beam if he thinks most people are behind these brutal cuts, to services people rely on. 

Ed Balls, and, for that matter, his wife Yvette Cooper, are ministers the public associate very much with New Labour. This is the New Labour the electorate rejected, spectacularly, at the last general election.  Why are such people still influencing Labour Party policy so heavily? That is the question many people are asking.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Cassetteboy - Cameron's Conference Rap

1 million views, in a day - that's how hated he is!

Warning, may contain swearing, naturally... ;-) Please do share!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

To be Sartrean is to have courage, and the anxiety he talks of comes from knowing you do not have the option to just blame someone else. Every decision you make is something to judge yourself by.

I am a Sartrean, to a large extent, but I think most people struggle with the concept that we are free to make any choice we like, but we have to live with the consequences of our actions and take full responsibility for everything we choose to do (and this is the ultimate autonomy I have often talked of.)

In my experience, most of the people I have known, certainly known romantically, struggle to find the courage to accept full responsibility for the things they do in life. They prefer to blame external factors or blame others or say they were pressurised into things, and therefore they have a lifetime of regrets. I don't think a Sartrean can ever really have regrets. You do what feels right at the time, and have to come to terms with those decisions you made along the way.

To be Sartrean is to have courage, and the anxiety he talks of comes from knowing you do not have the option to just blame someone else. Every decision you make is something to judge yourself by. So being Sartrean requires, I would say, immense personal integrity, to have good judgement in your decision making because your whole sense of self is coloured by what you decide to do.

And that's why most people don't seem to like him, but I absolutely love him. That learning to accept who you are, your limitations, maybe, leads to healthy self-love - and this where JAMism takes over from Sartre's version of existential philosophy.

Obviously I share his leanings towards Marxism, or my own take on Marxism (not Marx's version or Sartre's version of Marxism, mine can only ever be my reality of Marxist philosophy) and increasingly I find I share his view on the pointlessness of marriage, and a desire to find something which is less about owning another person, and more a cerebral coming together which then manifests itself in physical ways, and is never about feeling obliged to stay, which ultimately most marriages seem to end up being, as far as I can see. 

There is lot of insecurity in most marriages and although Sartre talks a lot of anxiety and despair, ultimately you would not feel insecure or any need to coerce or possess another person, not even your own children. They have to be free in their own right, and you have to be free of them on some level, though of course we have a moral responsibility to them when they are young. But I know so many parents who are hoping their children will grow up to have the parents' values and this is completely contrary to Sartrean thinking. You have no ethical right to want to control what your children might or might not be.

Again, one has to have enormous personal integrity not to need to actively influence one's own children. But it can be done. I think I've achieved a version of this, and people often think I'm a very odd parent. I totally accept my sons' own right to be their own person, I have never once said or even thought they should have one set of values or another set of values. They are completely free, or as free as it is possible to be,to be their own person and to make their own life choices. It has never been my place to pass judgement on them, or them on me...

I can also come across as incredibly pious... but my values are just for me, I don't expect anyone else to have my values.