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Showing posts from August, 2011

The Revolution

Written for The Activists and can be found here.

"The revolution" is a phrase I've often seen bandied about. It's as if the revolution is imminent, as if nothing anyone could say or do would stop it from hurtling towards us and giving us our long-deserved dues.

That is a pack of lies.

The revolution will not come unless we fight and toil and sweat blood for it to come; the revolution will not come if we simply sit here talking about it. The politicians and the media and the corporations who finance them all will make sure of that.

No, the revolution will only come if we grasp it with two hands and nurture every little spark of resistance.

The revolution will only come if we set aside our differences and reach out to others who share our agenda. As painful as it may be - some would prefer to pull out their own teeth without anaesthetic rather than thrash out a compromise - we must fight the establishment instead of quibbling amongst ourselves.

The revolution will only…

Enter the Media

This was originally written for The Activists and can be found here.

We live in an age of much information and little knowledge; facts, figures and events are all around us, but few if any people have the tools to filter and interpret them.

Enter the media - and by this I mean old media primarily, such as newspapers and TV. They present the news in a clear, accessible format which anyone can understand, served up with some opinions on the side. All in all, fairly good for people.

Except the media frequently misreports things, burying the facts at the bottom of the article (and sometimes getting those wrong as well). They prefer drama - selling stories and scandals - to cold, hard data. They cast anyone they hate - minorities, the poor, rebels, the government, anyone who isn't white and middle-class - in the worst possible light. They report PR stunts as news and kill with their poor understanding of science.

And people fall for it, every time.

The media controls access to informat…

Kratein

Everyone knows about me and my crazy politics - legalise pretty much everything, complete net neutrality, corporations have a duty to society and not just to themselves, governments rarely (if ever) have the best interests of the people at heart, we should rise up and govern ourselves...

...so it may seem a bit odd that I'm now advocating a technocracy.

The thing is, as patronising as I sound, what people want and what's actually good for them may not be the same thing - hence you get people with actual qualifications to run the country instead of relying on a bunch of lawyers and novelists. Thus teachers/educators/psychologists run the schools, scientists are in charge of science, economists run the Treasury...

...It's not perfect - no political system will ever be - and I can imagine that there'd be almighty arguments about funding. The head of state would probably have to be a world-class diplomat just to stop the Cabinet from tearing itself apart. But individual mi…

Revolutionary Secrets

I spend way too much time on Twitter, I'll admit. I follow all sorts of left-wing types, especially those who believe in revolution as the only way forward (it isn't, and it may actually make the problem worse given the ah...messy transfer of power involved) and shun consumerism like it's going out of style.

They have an agenda - that much is obvious. Everyone has an agenda. Theirs involves shunning human weakness - presumably it is unbefitting of a revolutionary.

Meanwhile, when the mainstream media does pick up on those people (if ever), they're characterised either 1) as brave freedom fighters who could never put a foot wrong or 2) as one step above terrorists, and sometimes not even that.

As for the people who know them, the people who are closest to them? They may describe them as being obsessed with power/freedom/whatever. It can be scary to see someone that fired up about something.

I will tell you a home truth now. It will seem obvious to you after I say it, bu…

Some questions about power

Right. So, as I've mentioned before, The Activists is awesome, and they run an equally awesome blog which is apparently contributed to by awesome people. However, some of the articles are...not so awesome, like this one. Go on, read it - it's very short.

(If you can't be bothered to read it, it's a rant against powerful people.)

Anyway, I have some questions for Adam Haddad and anyone who thought to pass this article. You are intelligent people - think about my questions, really think about them, and answer me honestly.

Isn't not being weak part of being powerful?

Didn't many politicians start off wanting to help people?

You'll take power after your revolution - at the very least, you'll have to take the helm during a transitional period or risk chaos. Won't you also become dogs, or is the rule magically waived for you?

Is there not a part of every person, strong or weak, young or old, slave or free, who loves power?

Is power not addictive by its na…

Politics.

I'm sick of liberals and I'm sick of conservatives.
I'm sick of Labour and I'm sick of the Tories.
I'm sick of the Republicans and I'm sick of the Democrats.
I'm sick of fascists and I'm sick of anarchists.
I'm sick of the Left and I'm sick of the Right.
I'm sick of people refusing to look at the facts, in fact cheerfully ignoring them when they get in the way of political ideologies.
I'm sick of people making shit up because it's easier to blame an ancient conspiracy than admit that there's no-one to blame.
In fact, I'm sick of people - liberal, conservative, Labour, Tory, Republican, Democrat, fascist, anarchist, left, right - not looking at the truth.

I've always believed that you can only fix the world if you actually know what's going on in it. It makes sense, right? If I didn't accept the truth of basic principles, like needing oxygen to respire, I'd die pretty quickly. If you don't understand what&#…

Blind Rhetoric

At the end of the day, at the end of that long road, fine words are just those: fine words. Empty rhetoric. Nothing more. And perhaps for a time they will soothe you and paper over the cracks in your consciousness. But if you've looked into the darkness where nothing looks back...that fine rhetoric does very little. Only logic, a powerful, blinding logic, will help, and that logic is difficult to come by.

In other news, I have my results for C2 and P2 - both 100% A*. (Slap me if I'm boasting too much.) The modules do seem to be quite easy, as I know loads of other people with A*s...

Live fast, die young

Increasingly, I find myself wanting to die young. This isn't because I'm depressed, or because I have some kind of death wish. It's because I think that a short life full of worthy acts (such as protesting) is better than a long, quiet life lived doing essentially nothing (i.e. what most people do), and because I fear growing old.

But why would I, a future scientist - not a model or actress - fear growing old?

Because as well as being a future scientist, I might just be a future activist. I've gotten myself involved (foolishly, some might say) with radicals and motivated people. It's...it's best described as enlightening. I've learnt so much that I never could have in the classroom; I've met people from all walks of life who share my crazy views, and it doesn't matter that other people think us crazy because at least our beliefs can get a proper airing here. I try to think critically, evaluating everything I come across, and I try to join in the dem…

Since when did being a liberal mean all this?

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Let's get a couple of things straight. I'm a godless egalitarian liberal who distrusts big corporations and has a virulent hatred of Rupert Murdoch. So far, so good, right? I fit in quite well amongst the crunchy-granola ranks of fashionable liberals - perhaps, with my political compass score, I stand out from them a little:
In short, I'm a die-hard left-libertarian.
But now things get a little more problematic. You see, apart from being a perpetual doubter, I also like science very, very much - to the point where I'd like to be a physicist when I'm older. This already annoys some feminists - thankfully very few of them - who think that some of the most basic principles of science, such as scientific objectivity, are geared towards men. They're pretty much the reason why I self-identify as an egalitarian rather than a feminist.
It also seems to annoy members of the wider liberal community, who think that the scientific method and academia are the stomping-grounds,…

Futility

I post too much but...

...I believe that one should work for one's treasured goals. So far, so good. Very few people would disagree with me.

I also believe that one should work for these treasured goals even if one believes that they are impossible to achieve. This is the part where people start to look at me weirdly and ask "Why would you do that? Dear God, why?" After all, why should one sink time and effort - perhaps a life's worth of time and effort - into an unreachable goal? Why should one try to do the impossible?

Well, pardon me for saying this, but that's based on fallacious reasoning: that either one accomplishes the goal or one does not accomplish the goal, with nothing in between. If that were true, there would indeed be no point in working towards it and we should all give up now.

But that's not the case. We don't live in an all-or-nothing world; we can still get partway to a goal, still do a good turn for a society desperately in need of one…

About Death

If you have Twitter, follow The Activists. It is a VERY cool left-wing account and if you are a left-winger, you really should be following it. However, some of the things it says are questionable - not least what it says in this blog post.

Go on, read it, take your sweet time. I'll be waiting.

For those who didn't read it, it talked about how death "is a meaningless concept with the intention of making people afraid". There is a lot wrong with this, firstly and most obviously that death is neither meaningless nor a concept. Death is a real, documented phenomenon: breathing and heartbeat stop, as do brain activity and other important biological processes (e.g. respiration). Then all the rest sets in: pallor mortis, livor mortis, algor mortis, rigor mortis, decomposition...in short, it exists and is therefore probably the antithesis of a meaningless concept. It is real, not imaginary, and it is all around us.

Most people, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, th…

The quick, dirty and nonexhaustive list of bullshit indicators

Right. So it's the Internet, and apart from more-or-less respectable news sources such as the Guardianand Telegraph, you also have the more...ah...unconventional elements, such as Infoshop and Ye Olde False Flag. I see nothing wrong with that - the more news sources, the better. I get quite a lot of my news from Twitter, as the mainstream media often takes a while to pick up stories.

Unfortunately, with the Internet comes Sturgeon's Law and an army of tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists. The mainstream media has got things wrong before, and it's always good to have new perspectives on things; there's nothing wrong with questioning authority.

This is not about those people.

This is about the people who think that the world will end in 2012, the Illuminati fixed everything up to be this way, the government put sodium amytal in the water sources, or whatever random crap they're coming up with next. I have no respect for them. Instead of applying cold, hard logic to a …

I'm a socialist!

Probably not - on my good days I verge on anarchy and on my bad days I stop verging - but at least my title got some attention.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, the censorship of social media scares the crap out of me. Freedom of communication is a human right, and we already have enough repression in the world as it is without governments deciding to crack down on it some more.

In this day and age, social networking is more than just important - it's a part of life. Facebook helps one keep in touch with one's friends and acquaintances, while Twitter is a great (and addictive) way to keep up with all of one's favourite causes. Youtube's great for sharing things, BBM is a way of life for some people...I could go on, but I won't.

Some people might like to butt in right now and say that social networking is a Bad Thing. Yes, with the capitals as well. They might smirk at the recent sentencing of two men or deplore the moral collapse of society when they see a bottl…

Fettered

I'm The Fettered, and I willingly admit it. I've got no religious reasons for doing this - only philosophical ones, and ones to do with my personal tastes. I shouldn't really be abiding to a code at all, only a few tenets.

I've touched on this.

I'm a questioner, too. I can't go a day without questioning someone or something. I question the political movements I hate and the causes I love. I question the ideas which are like air and water to me, which amounts to me shooting myself in the foot.

I've touched on this as well.

OK, now that the shameless self-promotion's over, I just want to say that it really, really, really, honestly does suck being either of these things, let alone both. Being fettered, otherwise known as having a conscience, means not being able to do things that you'd really enjoy doing, having to justify that to everyone else, and having to go it alone with little or no moral support. I know I sound whiny, but most people are comforta…

Why be erudite?

Why be erudite? Why be learnéd? I don't claim to be either of these things, though I aspire to them.

Most people can't see the point of learning for learning's sake, and many never make an effort to out of pure, unadulterated anti-intellectualism. I come up against this question, whether other people ask me to my face or whether I ask myself: what's the point of learning for fun?

I've got two answers, the first fanciful (and rather weak) and the second hopefully more robust.

The first answer is, well...more of a question. What's the point of whatever hobby you're into? Why do you do it?

Enjoyment - simple enjoyment, that's all. Follow it up with a little bit of relativism about how other people's interests are generally not subject to such questioning, and BAM! Instant pretentious argument!

I don't like this way of thinking. Relativism is a little bit dodgy to rely on, and the argument itself is shallow, stating "I enjoy it" but no more…

De Libertate

Well, everyone seems to have differing definitions of freedom. The Tea Party think it's found in gun ownership and low taxes; the liberals think it's found in freedom of speech and communication; the cynics think it's found nowhere on earth, and the power-mad think it's found in the domination of others.

Freedom isn't gun ownership.

Freedom isn't being able to buy and sell things.

Freedom isn't the right to enter into a contract where you slave yourself half to death.

Freedom isn't low taxes.

Freedom isn't having the biggest collection of nukes in the known universe.

No, freedom is when you can say what you want, when you want, where you want.

Freedom is where people will listen to you and actually pay some damn attention for once.

Freedom is where you don't have to be scared of the authorities tracking you down for a loose tongue here or a hashtag there.

Freedom is where no-one regulates your life but you.

It's not an impossible dream, and …

Vivamus, mea Lesbia

Otherwise known as the Catullus Fangirling Post. (If you don't know who Catullus was, read the link and be ye educated. It's very, very worth it.)

Right. So while off at Latincamp (shameless self-promotion is shameless, but still), the Hellenic Book Service came along to sell stuff to us. Ignore the aesthetics of their website - their actual physical shops and services are very, very good, especially for Latin/Greek/Classics geeks (and non-geeks as well - a day in there is a day well spent for anyone who wants to cram their head full of knowledge). They also sell some second-hand stuff as well, including a copy of Fifty Latin Lyrics which I picked up for a pittance compared to the price on Amazon. This isn't product placement - this is me explaining how I got where I am now.

Anyway, I'm working through said Latin Lyrics to keep my brain sharp and broaden my horizons a little, since I've been meaning to read more Latin literature but haven't really had the time.…

Take My Word For It

So Conservative MP Louise Mensch has called for temporary shutdowns of Twitter and Facebook to stop panic spreading. According to her Twitter, she would only support "one or two hours shutdown at the height of the crisis as an interrupt, if police needed it." I don't in any way support her or her proposals, as they'd be at best unnecessary (one or two hours would stop panic spreading? Really?) and at worst may violate human rights, as it blocks certain kinds of communication. Still, people are making too much news about it - it's turned from "oh hey, maybe we should shut it down at certain times IF the police agree and IF it would make the situation better" to "Evil Conservative wants to shut down teh Facebook and Twitter!!!! OH NOEZ!!!!!!!!!!11!!1". This is probably not helped by the media and people's desire for a black-and-white narrative instead of the murky, muddy shades in real life.

This is more of a plea for people to calm down abo…

Antitheism

I'm surrounded by religious people, which is very odd for an atheist. On the plus side, it makes you more tolerant of other people's beliefs and better able to understand them. Keep in mind this is coming from a former antitheist - someone who hates religion.

I first converted to antitheism when I read The God Delusion. Rereading it now, I see that Dawkins is basically an intelligent, subtle, moderate antitheist - but when I was ten, I happily skipped past all that and only caught up on the "religion is evil" bit. Thus began three or four years of me being a douchebag to anyone religious, convinced that I was in the right and they were in the wrong.

Quite a lot of that changed due to the efforts of my school chaplain, a Christian liberal in the best mould with real passion for his religion. He was unfortunate enough to take me for Year 9 RS and respect for religion was pretty much the only thing I learnt in that class (hey, it's RS, what did you expect?). I came …

Reactions to the London riots

All right. You've probably heard about this already, so I'll try and give those of you who haven't a quick overview.

Some guy who may or may not have been part of a gang (but was definitely part of an ethnic minority) was shot by police. As far as I can work out, while he had a gun wrapped in cloth he didn't fire it - all bullets were fired by police.

Important notes: Tottenham's been hit by the cuts quite badly, the ethnic minorities/non-whites there (not sure of the PC term) have been stopped and searched by police more times than others and being suspected of crime really gets to you after a while, Britain has a history of rioting in recession, other countries are doing the same thing.

Taking all of these factors into account, in hindsight it's really not that surprising that riots broke out there. As far as I can work out, the others have been given confidence by what's happened at Tottenham and they're rioting because of austerity measures, because…

On Fattism and Discrimination

Let me make one thing clear before I start. I'm not a fattist: I oppose discrimination on the basis of anything other than merit and I wouldn't dream of treating someone any better or worse because of their weight. I dislike eating disorders as much as the next person and I think being too thin is arguably a worse problem than being too fat. I understand that it can be difficult to lose weight, especially permanently, and I understand that obese people may have underlying conditions. Having read a little about weightism, I do find it quite horrifying.

All the same, I don't think that it gives them any right at all to feed their kids silly or to complain about discrimination while stuffing themselves full of fast food. I can understand why people with a genetic predisposition to obesity would find it harder, and I'm willing to cut them some slack as long as they watch their diet - because if you know you're going to be predisposed to something which isn't very g…

In Defence of Love

In my own defence, I never thought I'd be writing this...I've never cared much for love or lust.

Thing is, this got to me. This was written by a girl my own age. I don't want to be a sentimental sap and stand up for love and romance, but I think that she's out of her head. Her message is quoted below.
This troper's very first brush with crushing resulted inMind Rape/Break The Cutie, even though she technically didn't even have a crush on the boy in question. For years I actively avoided unnecessary contact with any boys near my age for fear of what would happen if Ididlike one of them and they found out. Needless to say, I may have a more biased opinion on the matter than I should.
The fact that all my friends dabble in the hopeless world of dating and, as theTeam Mom/Cool Big Siswith no romantic life whatsoever, I'm usually the shoulder/chest to cry ondoesn't help this view.Niether does the fact that 95% of this tropers' friends have divorced parents…

De Vita

Again, this was written while I was off at the JACT Summer School, and I haven't edited it in the slightest, which is why it might read a bit weirdly.

I freely admit it; I know nothing about like. I am young - too young, some people say, for my opinions to be worth anything - and inexperienced, and, being a teenager, people say that I'm prone to melodrama.

I also freely admit that I know nothing about my purpose in life, and I have very little idea of how to make one for myself. I am too young to be free - which would help - but I'm too old not to believe that fundamentally, life is meaningless. We exist because however many years ago someone fertilised an egg and the resulting ball of cells was carried to term and lived; our only purpose is to make as many more balls of cells as we can, and if we reject that we have nothing.

Bleak diatribe aside, I'm not treading any new ground here. I'm not treading any new ground either when I say that I find it wonderful that w…

The Best Days of our Lives

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I've just come back from the JACT Latin Summer School at Wells - 10 days of intensive Latin and letting my inner geek run free. To anyone as geeky as I am, I highly suggest you go: it's hard work, but fun, and you'll find people from all walks of life yet who still understand you. Of course, if you're not geeky, disregard the above...you don't know what you're missing, though. Seriously, you don't.

I have piccies of the two badges I bought as well:
That first one says "I am a Roman king and above grammar" - something which makes me laugh, both because of how one can ever presume to be above grammar and because I'm actually a stickler for it in real life.
Meaning "I shall not altogether die", this is one of my favourite quotes.
I didn't come here, though, to talk about the wonders of Latin camp...I came to post up something which I wrote while there: I haven't edited it, so it might be unpolished - I know that there's at leas…