Friday, July 11, 2008

Some countries, in this case the USA, never learn from history

I'm indulging in a bit of provocative lateral "what-if" thinking.

The US and Israel have started rattling sabres again this time towards Iran because they're afeared that Iran's uranium enriching programme is intended for the manufacture of nuclear warheads for missiles, so the US and Israel feel that they would be justified in a pre-emptive strike to prevent said missiles being made.
Hhmmm....then I thought, well surely the US must see the irony inherent in that logic and it isn't going to escape many people's minds that perhaps the Japanese in 1941 were also justified in their pre-emptive strike agaist Pearl Harbour to prevent themselves from being attacked by nuclear weapons. That is to say of course, if they even knew that Oppenheimer was working on them, which I doubt.
But it would be a beautiful irony wouldn't it. Either way it didn't work becasue the US as we all know dropped two A bombs on the Japanese.
And just as that attack only added to the USA's resolve to enter the war, a joint Israeli-US pre-emptive strike on Iran would only make the Iranians even more determined to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and presumably to launch attacks against the USA.

Seems to me that the US hasn't learned from the historical mistakes of others

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Restricted music competition stomps on culture

This was the last entry on my free thought blog.

26th May 2008
Not only irrelevant music but...

…no right to free speech or free expression
What am I talking about then?
Well, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) of course.
The rules clearly state that the lyrics must not be offensive, must not contain swearing, and must not contain poltiics in any shape or form (in other words no free speech) . Added to that is the rule that limits each performance to a maximum of six people on stage (in other words no free expression) and the rule preventing political manifestations, symbols and uniforms means that the ESC is not only irrelevant from a sociopolitical viewpoint but also from a cultural viewpoint.
And so it is thus reduced to a collection of songs for Europe supervised by a committee that still wants to see Europe (and the rest of the world presumably) through rose tinted glasses, ignoring all the sociopolitical strife and upheaval going on all around us and pretending that everything is all hunky-dorey, peace & love and hugs & kisses and everyone’s happy! All one big happy family from the west coasts of Iceland and Ireland to the Urals and the Caucases! RUBBISH!

And why do I think the music is culturally irrelevant? Well, because all music is based on the culture it is created in, and a large part of any culture is the sociopolitical situation of that culture’s homeland. So for example, if you prevent that which is a huge part of, for example, Irish or Serbian or Israeli culture, in other words a long history of sociopolitical problems, you are in turn preventing a huge part of the cultural make-up of Ireland or Israel or Serbia from being represented in song. Thus making the songs as about as irrelevant as it is possible to make songs.

Whether you like the music or not or whether or not you think the music and the whole show is good or bad is I’m afraid yet another irrelevance.

Status quo protection v free expression

This was the third entry on my other blog, and agian osme editing needed and desired for my part.

Status quo protection v free expression
12th May 2008

At what level of management, leadership, supervision do you think an individual starts worrying about protecting the status quo, in other words, protecting his/her job, wage, reputation, lifestyle, and overly worrying what others think about them rather than defending strongly held personal opinions? And to what level will they sink in order to protect it?

I have in the past, as have most people, encountered many individuals who clearly follow the party line or their company’s policies or preferred opinions regarding certain socio-political, gender, cultural workplace issues that they obviously don’t agree with, and would rather prefer not to support.

And that is quite normal in the workplace even for managers on the lowest rung of the ladder. And usually they don’t have any leverage or tools to support their position if someone should express a view contrary to the workplace views or policies in force.

Yet they continue in that role year after year, simply to protect the status quo, their position, their livelihood, and occasionally being hated for it by workers under their supervision.

Middle managers of course, in this battle between the status quo and freedom of expression and thought, do have tools at their disposal. For example, they can withhold benefits, time off, holidays, pay rises. And worst of all influence the co-workers of the free speaker/free thinker by even resorting to bullying, or “abuse of authority” as it is called in polite legal terms.

Then at the top of the pile we have those who have the most to lose should they express something they really feel or think rather than defending the status quo and their own jobs and reputations when spouting the party/workplace line in conflict with a normal worker who is ironically expressing support of something the top dog him/herself secretly agrees with.

And that can’t be healthy for the top dog, be s/he a Director General, CEO, MD, Colonel, Mayor, Commissioner etc.

In fact, it must be mentally tiring, defending the socio-political, gender, cultural views that your workplace encourages but which you don’t agree with when in conflict with someone saying something you do secretly agree with. Or defending them to such an extent that you must clearly realise that you are infringing on the rights of the worker expressing the contrary.

And so the level of status quo protection here includes all forms of management bullying, peer group pressure, making the individual look stupid or basically trying to shut them up with threats that are not the reserve of top managers but rather 12-year-old children in the school playground.

Free speech is not at all the same thing as free expression

This was the next one,again with some necessary and wanted editing:

Free speech is not free expression
20th March 2008

However, one should never confuse the right to free speech with the ability to express one’s self freely as a result of free thinking. The two are only similar semantically.
Something to consider and digest as an example.
Free speech: kill all abortion doctors - The very contradictory rallying cry of “pro-life” activists outside abortion clinics. “Pro-life? but you’re advocating murder, do you know what the word hypocrite means?”
Free thinking and subsequent free expression of a thought : use aborted foetuses to provide nutrition rich food for new mothers - Why not? Many cultures eat the placenta so why not aborted foetuses?

The Earth is no longer flat

Well, at least The Earth is Flat is no other words I'm shutting down my other blog The Earth is Flat and I'm going to move the old posts from there over here. And then continue with this blog with a combination of serious and more lighthearted input.

Here to start off is the first post I wrote over there, with some necessary corrective and self-preservation editing:

Being a Free Thinker
13th March 2008

One often hears people using the phrase, “I’m a free thinker”. What they are in fact doing when they say that is marking the fact that they don’t consider themselves to be like anyone else. Well, let me ask you, who in their right individual mind does consider themselves to be like anyone else? Everyone, who is mentally healthy, should consider themselves to be unique to some degree, and in various ways, both large and small.

No, people who say that are usually far from free thinkers, they simply want others to know that they generally don’t agree with one or more commonly held views, for example, racism is wrong. So many racists, rather than say, “No it isn’t” fall back on their standard phrase, “Well, I’m a free thinker” rather than defend racism.

The “I’m a free thinker” crowd nearly always use the phrase as a get-out clause. And truth be told the one thing they are most frightened of is free thinking. They want to be part of the status quo but they also want to be viewed as different to Joe Bloggs. And that’s a dilemma most of them can never work their way out of.
That’s just an example of the misuse of the phrase “free thinker”.

With this blog, I want people to consider what free thinking and free expression really are. Thinking freely, devoid of influence from society as a whole, being able to express your innermost thoughts, ideas, desires and so on, devoid of what your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours might say if you express something, some desire, some wish, some need outside the norm. Devoid of influence from the accepted norms, ethics, standards and morals of modern society.

Free thinking and expression is about analysisng what you personally feel, not what your employer, your superior officer, your parents, your spouse, your church, your political party or your pensions advisor says you should feel.

It’s about using your intelligence and your emotions to think and form opinions for yourself. To decide what you really want, not on some nonsensical, abstract, Oprah level about “life’s goals” and other such pseudo-spiritual rubbish.

But about what you want on a daily basis with regard to work, food, sex, money, clothing, sports, hobbies and so on. And about not being afraid to freely express your innermost thoughts, opinions,desires, hates and so on.

Free thinking and free expression is being able to say that, no, I don’t buy into that oft repeated platitude ”all races are equal”. And I don’t think all peoples are equally as developed and intelligent as each other. And I don’t think everyone thinks the same the world over and I know that not everyone shares the same ethics, standards and morals. And I know that not every nationality values life equally. A simple look at the conflicts currently ongoing around the world will tell any sane person all of the above. But saying all that doesn’t make me a racist or even the same as the racist, who simply falls back on “I’m a free thinker” without any explanation. I’m simply an acute observer of people’s behaviour the world over, behaviour and values that differ so greatly from my own!

So don’t tell me I’m the same as a Saudi Arabian executioner cutting off a person’s head in public, because I could never contemplate killing someone, I’ve never even felt like I really want to.

Being a free thinker does mean of course that you will have to defend your views more often than not. But if that frigthens you off, if you let society, colleagues, family tell you that your thoughts, views, emotions are wrong then you are not a free thinker.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The cult of the individual....

...and the perceived rights of the individual and the whole notion of liberalism advocating each man (woman) for him/herself and advocating the individual as being more important than society as a whole, is for me the only reasonable explanation for the selfishness, naivety, self-centred attitude, and lack of respect for
others displayed by the 22 year old woman in the following incident that occurred at Arvika last weekend. And the only possible reason why incidents like this are becoming more and more commonplace.

Ok, the 22 year old woman complimented a 25 year old woman (who was a complete stranger to her) on her hairstyle.

The 25 year old, not knowing this woman, made some presumably throw away comment as you do to strangers that suddenly say things to you out of the blue.

The 22 year old took offence to this response and poured her cup of hot coffee down the inside of the 25 year old's blouse.

And so quite rightly the 25 year old in shock and self-defence gave the 22 year old a slap in the face.........but guess who it was who reported the incident to the police?...WRONG! It was the 22 year old.

I mean talk about naive, talk about lack of respect, talk about self-centred. Talk about a total absence of the rights of others.


Well the last month has gone by in a flash.

I spent 16 to 20 June trying to get everytihng done at work before going on two weeks holiday.
Now I'm back after those two weeks working for one week and trying to get everytihng done at work before going on three weeks holiday. It feels like work never adopts a stadard run-of-the-mill everday pace but is always either urgent and rushed or slow and boring.

Then about a month ago I started up a some cricket with some Pakistani and Swedish friends. A great way to get a bit of exercise and sun and have some fun for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. Apart from when we got absolutely drenched 3 weeks ago.

I was at Arvika festival on Saturday/Sunday for THIRTEEN hours and discovered some great goth, industrial and synth bands I'd never heard before intermixed maongst the boring indie pop bands.

I'm going to see Iron Maiden at Stockholm Stadion on 16th July.

And on 22nd July we're flying to London for a week there.

Then by the beginning of August I hope life and work will be back to "normal". I really don't like the summer or taking holidays.