ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE...

...ONE HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

Political and irreligious thoughts of an ageing pensioner

 

Last updated:  March 2020                                                                      Back to home page

March 2020   CORONA VIRUS

While the most powerful people on this planet can't agree on measures to tackle global warming - or even recognise that it is happening - it is ironic that a microscopic organism is forcing action which is already drastically reducing carbon emissions. Mother Nature seriously pissed off ?

 

February 2017

Phew, a marathon comment & reply session on Facebook re Brexit issues. Not sure why I bother – I'm unlikely to change anybody's views, though I do feel moved to challenge some of the more controversial statements.

Time to step back a bit and reflect.

Let us put aside all debate about the nature of the referendum campaign. No doubt some voters were influenced by it while others would have cast their vote regardless. There are likely to be many reasons why people voted in a particular way, and, also a number of reasons why people who were eligible to vote didn't do so – including indiference to result, indecision, or just plain apathy.

Had the vote gone the other way – to remain in the EU – nothing would have changed. Leave campaigners may have moaned in a similar way to how they have accused remainers of moaning, but we would still have had the status quo.

Things have changed. There was vote in favour of leaving – a small majority, but nevertheless a majority of those who voted. People who would have been happy with the status quo now have to face the real prospect of leaving. Those who voted to leave have to consider in more detail what it is they actually want to see from an exit from the EU. People on both sides of the debate will have different priorities in the various issues – the economy, immigration, free movement of labour, single market, etc – on which they are prepared to compromise or stand firm as politicians try to sort out the terms for Brexit and seek to obtain a deal that will gain the support of the majority of the electorate, and not just those who supported Brexit in the referendum.

In a way, I welcome this debate to review the relationship of the UK with Europe – and the rest of the world. It is a very real and immediate issue that has to be addressed. It would not have happened had the vote been to remain, and any challenges to the inefficiencies and bureaucracy of the EU operates would have fallen on deaf ears.

I would have been comfortably unchallenged by the status quo. I am concerned about some of the negative consequences of the Brexit vote, particularly the rise in xenophobic hate crimes, and the attitude in some quarters – even in government - that there should be no challenge to the process of Brexit and no criticism of whatever proposals the Prime Minister feels inclined to put forward. I would suggest that it is a very important part of our democracy and our right to free speech that such proposals are scrutinised in detail, whether one initially voted leave or remain. One thing is certain – nobody is going to get everything they hoped for. I am cautiously optimistic that the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be something that the majority of people in this country can live with. The alternative is despair, despondency and civil disruption - and I, for one, don't want to see the country going down that route.

And I now intent to ignore Facebook postings on this subject for a while

 

November 2016

TB or not TB ? That is the question.

Are you badgered to death by claims and counter-claims of those on opposing sides of the field with regard to the role of small furry creatures in spreading bovine tuberculosis.

Those in favour of a badger cull and those vehemently opposed to it produce their ‘independent’ experts to justify their respective positions and get emotionally hot under the collar when their views are rubbished.

To many people who have no direct involvement in farming or wildlife conservation the debate must appear totally bewildering. Whom should one believe? Is the so-called evidence just opinion served up with scientific veneer and a large dollop of blind prejudice? Do the majority of the general public give a toss either way?

Let’s take a step back, consider some indisputable facts and ask some difficult questions.

Undoubtedly there are farmers who are facing real hardship through slaughter of cattle infected with bovine TB. Is the killing of large numbers of these animals of no concern to animal welfare groups such as IFAW and PETA? Or do domesticated farm animals not count?

Modern farming practices have contributed to loss of habitat and subsequent decline in population of many indigenous wildlife species, even to the point of extinction. While the badger population is healthy in this respect, would a cull put the species under threat? And would a cull eradicate or exacerbate the incidence of bovine TB?

There is a test for TB in cattle. If it proves positive the beast is slaughtered. If a badger could be tested in the same way, it should meet the same fate if infected.
But, like cattle, why shouldn’t uninfected badgers live?

If, instead of bullets, trained hunters used tranquilising darts to capture and test badgers for TB, only the problem creatures would need to be killed. The rest, vaccinated if possible, could be released into the wild, preferably microchipped so that we could also gather information about their movements. This, of course, would be more expensive. Compensating farmers for slaughtered livestock is also hugely expensive.

Perhaps both farmers and animal welfare groups - and the government - could jointly finance such a form of badger management rather than wasting money on increased security, litigation, campaigning and compensation. .

Should the public be concerned? Too right we should, for we face the prospect of civil disorder, at least, from animal activists that will make demands on our already over-stretched and under-financed police force. If bovine TB is unchecked we face increasing costs for dairy products.

I have no intention of getting into the debate of whether we should be eating meat and dairy products. We are. Live with it.

 

March 2016 THE EURO HOKEY POKEY

I'm fed up already of the sound bites & spin from both the Europhiles and Europhobes - and the main campaign hasn't even begun. I will vote to stay in the EU - it's bureaucratic & unwieldy and needs reform, but no way are we going to influence any change from the outside. No do I relish the prospect the likes of Michael Gove, Boris Johnson & Ian Duncan-Smith running the government if Cameron loses - not to mention twerps like Farage having an influence on policy. My take on the campaign is summarised below (to the tune of Hokey Cokey):

 

Your left wing in, your right wing out In out in out debate it all about

Loads of hokey pokey and spin around Eyes shut ears bent blah blah blah

 

So now we’ve got a referendum Oh dear how will it endum

There’s a hidden agendum For in out in out blah blah blah

 

Dave he wants us to stay in Boris for Brexit he is braying

And Jeremy has hardly got a say in For in out in out blah blah blah

 

We’ll have immigrants sleeping in our alley Unless the UK border stays at Calais

But from the EU they all come in legally In out in out blah blah blah

 

We need the EU for our trading ! We get bugger all for all we’ve paid in!

Truth behind the soundbites fading For in out in out blah blah blah

 

So throw our left wing in, throw our right wing out In out in out hear politicians spout

Their load of hokey pokey and media spin We’re better out and we’re better in

 

November 2015   GOD CREATION 

Since the dawn of civilisation man has marveled at the beauty and complexity of our natural world and the universe. – and has sought an explanation as to how it all came about. It is little wonder that imaginative people attributed supernatural powers to those things that impacted profoundly upon everyday life - the sun, the moon, and various creatures (real or mythical) in an attempt to supply answers in terms that the populace could appreciate. Unsurprisingly, too, that those sages who offered an explanation would have found themselves in a position of respect, and in consequence, in a position of power to influence the very society in which they lived. Veneration of some ethereal spirit, with homage paid with sacrifice and ritual would have been a progression easily implanted in primitive minds. Nor would it have been difficult to make the transition from presenting their theory of natural order to claiming that they alone could interpret the wishes of an imagined creator, and thus impose whatever set of rules they wished as being demanded by a higher, superhuman authority.

The word superhuman is used deliberately. The ‘priests’ of these ‘religions’ graced their deities with human characteristics and passions – anger, love, jealousy, for example – and in multitheistic cultures, the conflicts between rival gods mirrored such emotions in earthly society. Furthermore, alternative theories would have been actively discouraged since they would present a threat to the credibility and therefore the power of the priesthood.

The concept that the very existence of a complex ordered world implies some driving force in its creation would almost certainly have arisen early in man's consciousness. Personification of such a driving force into a creator, or god, would seem to have been a heaven-sent opportunity for sages to consolidate their influence. God speaks to the prophets, the prophets convey the wishes of god to the people, with the threat of everlasting suffering for failure to comply with their edicts. What a brilliant strategy for control of the masses by the self-appointed few!

Much of the world today is still effectively under the control of the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They all share common roots and many of the same prophets who have offered their interpretation of god over the millennia. Right from the earliest written accounts, this all-seeing, omnipotent master of the universe is bestowed with those same consuming human behavioural characteristics of anger and love, offering vengeance for disobedience and reward in the afterlife for compliance. Thousands of years since the time of Abraham and over a thousand years since the coming of Islam, bitter rivalry of creeds continues with bloodthirsty inevitability as their exponents all claim to have the same one god on their side in defending their position of power and influence. To me this seems a strong argument to support the view that man created god in his own image, not vice versa. I am willing to accept that Jesus and Mohammed, undoubtedly the most influential figureheads over the past two millennia, were most sincere and genuine in their views of how we should lead a better life. Regrettably, both have had their whole existence and message hijacked by those who play the power game.

Throughout history right up to the present day challenges to the belief systems of established religions has been met with at very least ridicule and often with violence. Even when faced with clear scientific proof many 'believers' prefer to rely on highly selective extracts from texts written over two thousand years ago. If we are created by god, with brains second to none in the animal kingdom, is it not likely that god would have expected us to use those brains to discover more about the nature of his creation? If science challenges the dogma of the church, why should it matter if it's still all part of god's creation?

I believe that there is a driving force behind the existence of the universe. Call it god, if you wish, but the concept of a loving(?) super-being watching over each and everyone of us just does not make sense to me. And if I am wrong, then presumably god will be aware of my inner thoughts and judge me accordingly. And everyone else too - so why should mere mortals take it upon themselves to impose punishment on transgressors and unbelievers in their concept of god, other than to satisfy their own status, and even bloodlust. To them I say, stand back and leave it to god, who, in your own view, has a far better oversight of the whole scheme of things than you will ever have!

Many millions of people believe in the conventional views of God as propagated by the world's established religions. There are probably many reasons, too, why they do so. I may not understand their reasons but I don't question anyone's right to believe what makes sense to them. Belief is, and should always be, a personal thing, not imposed through need to conform to society or through fear or intimidation.

All the world’s major religions have a common theme expounded by their respective sages – in effect, to treat other people as you would want them to treat you, or ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. It seems that the zealots of all faith systems need to be reminded of this principle.

 

2015 General Election MY MANIFESTO

NHS

I would look at cutting unnecessary administrative posts

I would increase income tax by 1p with increased revenue going to NHS

I would charge anyone arriving drunk at hospital the full cost of treatment, to be recovered from their wages or benefits or assets.

I would withdraw free surgery through the NHS for cosmetic ‘beauty treatment’ Only cosmetic surgery for injuries or congenital birth defects (e.g. hare lip) would qualify for free treatment.

I would not permit ‘queue jumping’ for surgery through voluntary payments to the NHS.

All costs for treatment to EU citizens from member states should be charged to that member state. A reciprocal arrangement for UK citizens in other EU states would apply.

All visitors from outside the EU should be required to provide proof of insurance cover for health care to cover the duration of their stay. All immigrants from outside the EU should also be required to provide proof of insurance cover for health care for twelve months or until they have been in full time employment for 6 months, paying National Insurance.

ENERGY

I would cancel all contracts for new nuclear power stations, and phase out existing ones.

I would ban fracking

I would put an embargo on on-shore wind farms within sight or sound of any human habitation, and subject single unit wind turbines to strict planning regulations.

I would make it a condition of planning permission that all new housing development include solar panels / solar tiles and/or heat exchangers.

I would prevent good agricultural land being used for solar farms.

I would encourage the use of small scale water powered generators wherever feasible.

I would require all water companies to invest in biogas generators for the treatment of sewage, and give incentives for livestock farmers to also invest in biogas generators for slurry.

I would encourage investment in geothermal energy, tidal turbines and wave energy projects where appropriate.

I would encourage the development of technology to produce 'clean' gas from the vast undergound reserves of coal.

THE E.U.

I would refuse to make any increased payments to the E.U. until the E.U. accounts have been properly audited and accepted by the European Parliament

In principle I would support continued U.K. membership of the E.U.

However, I support the right of the British people to voice their opinion about the E.U. An 'In or Out' referendum is far too crude a device to properly address the many issues and concerns about possible withdrawal, and would be subject to sound bite scaremongering - on both sides of the argument. I would instead promote a multi-questioned national survey on a number of key issues, with a summary of 'pros' & 'cons' drawn up by an independent 'neutral' body made available to everyone (through social media, newspapers, and/or post). The results of the survey would be published and used by the government to determine policy towards the E.U.

EDUCATION

I would make all schools - state, private, 'free', academies - subject to the same rules and criteria for inspection.

I would introduce a moratorium on setting up of any new 'free' schools or academies for 3 years until an independent professional judgement of their effectiveness has been made.

I would require all schools to teach comparative religion to the same agreed syllabus. Schools supported by any particular faith would be celebrate their particular festivals and put their reasons why they believe in their religion. Proper provision, without any degree of punitive sanctions, must be made within such schools for children of other faiths.

I would set the formal school leaving age at 16. However, all people in the 16 - 25 age group would be entitled to 3 years (or equivalent part-time) full funding for further education through F.E. college, university, or apprenticeship.

Tuition fees at university would be capped at £5,000. Student loans would be government funded at zero interest providing the student completed the course successfully. Interest would otherwise be charged at current bank rate + 1%. Repayment would be made through PAYE once the salary reached 1.5 times average national wage.


January 2013  LETTER TO NEWSPAPER - THE WORD OF GOD

Your correspondent clearly implies that the ‘Word of God’ should be regarded as man’s record of Divine inspiration, and thus subject to human error in interpretation or translation. While this does not appear to have weakened his faith or respect for the Bible it does however suggest a reason as to why so much religious conflict exists in our world.

It is man who purports to convey God’s wishes and, since no-one can be privy to what God may have actually said, if anything, to an individual, the message is inevitably influenced by that individual’s own experiences and views, no matter how sincere that person may be. It makes nonsense of the concept of one God if God were to be conveying very different, and even contradictory instructions for mankind through his supposed messengers. For any persons or group to claim that they represent the only correct interpretation of God’s will is therefore totally at odds with reason.

It seems to me that man has – and still does – claim divine inspiration to justify actions that serve only to enhance his own standing and influence in society. We may all have our own view about God but it makes absolutely no sense to argue and fight about different interpretations for which there can be no absolute proof – at least in this life!

 

October 2012  HEAVENS ABOVE 

Someone has a vision of the Almighty or claims to receive the word of God (impossible to prove or disprove) writes about it, persuades others of his or her ‘divine’ revelation, seeks to suppress or rubbish any other version of the ‘truth’.

This just about sums up the cause of religious conflict over the millennia.

Belief is a personal thing not something that should be imposed for political or religious correctness or control, even though many are obliged to pay lip service to a cause for their own safety. I firmly support the right for anyone to believe in whatever view of God they like, or in fairies at the bottom of the garden for that matter, but I object most strongly to those who claim that theirs is the only right interpretation of God’s wishes or use heavenly authority to legitimise unjustifiable intimidation and violence.

If God exists and is truly the one great architect of the universe, then there can logically be only one God – not a Catholic God, a Methodist God, a Moslem God, Buddhist God, and so on. Is Heaven divided into separate compartments for each?

The Bible is not God’s word – it is a wonderful anthology of human concepts of God over time, and thus subject to the writers’ personal prejudices and the social and political influences at the time of writing.

 

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