Monday, 31 March 2014

A recent opinion poll suggests that just 49% of people in the UK believe in God ( bit of a biased question for those who believe in two or more Gods) and 55% believe in the super natural.

actually both figures are slightly down from a similar poll in 2008  - 58 percent believe in the supernatural, including paranormal encounters, while 54 percent believe God exists.

Predictably, certain commenters - like Melanie Phillips
trot out the usual line from G.K. Chesterton "when people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything." The implication is that people abandon religion and take up belief in anything from psychic healing, telepathy, astrology, ghosts and demons etc

My experience is that actually, the self declared atheist is actually far more sceptical of super natural claims - its inherent in rejecting a super natural God.

Plenty of religious believers I have met have had no problem reconciling their religious belief with astrology, crystal healing, and all sorts of super natural phenomena.

So it would be interesting to see the polling data broken down to see whether my anecdotal evidence is backed by the polling figures. Mostly, I just find the assumption by people like Melanie Philips rather odd.

With just 6% of the population claiming to be regular church goers, I suspect even believers in God have but a vague comforting idea about karma, things we don't understand, everything being OK when you die etc  just in the same way someone guessing the person calling them on the phone - might find it comforting to think it was a sixth sense that made them 'know' who it was.

Making Fire

Lovely article by Ray Mears on what sets humans apart from other animals

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shout - the Beatles by Philip Norman

A strange book - packed with details and information but one is left feeling short changed.

Norman obviously has a bee in his bonnet about George Harrison, described pretty much as an average guitarist who ought to be grateful he played with Lennon and McCartney and constantly referred to as grumpy, etc. 

Rather weak on the music - The Revolver Album for example is covered in two pages,  it lacks a joy that the Beatles music brings.

Tiny things niggle - in the Film a Hard days Night, the The frequent reference to McCartney's grandfather (played by Wilfrid Brambell) as a "clean old man" sets up a contrast with the stock description of Brambell's character, Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son as a "dirty old man". But Norman misses this and attributes it to reference in Gilbert and Sullivan !

Magna Carta - did she dies in vain

1215 is a great book about the Magna Carta - or great charter signed by King John of England in the year 1215 AD in order to placate the Barons. 

Taking most of the major clauses in turn it explains the background and reasons for their inclusion at the same time giving a great insight into life in England at the time.

A final chapter covers some of the myths about Magna Carta - from being only about the rights of Barons (OK it was mainly about the rights of Barons!) to being a foundation of liberty (Ok it has a place as rallying point for human rights)

Strangely enough King John soon went back on his word, meaning the immediate impact of the document was very small.

Two snippets - English Law moved from trial by ordeal  to trial by jury (whereas most of the rest of Europe rediscovered roman law which use torture on both accused and accuser to get to the truth)

The loss of the French Lands by King John (at one point the English Kings ruled more of France than the French King did!) was a pivotal moment in the development of both England and France.  Prior to John, England was ruled by Kings based in France. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

the ukrianian situation

Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man, moved in during 2011. A typical oligarch, Akhmetov made his money during the collapse of the Soviet Union by acquiring public assets at bargain-basement prices, and has since denied allegations of past links to organised crime. He is the owner of System Capital Management, a holding company that from its headquarters in Donetsk runs a steel and coal empire, as well as banks and media businesses, and the football club Shakhtar Donetsk. As an ally and backer of the departed pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, he sat as a powerfully influential member of the Ukrainian parliament. In January, his companies reportedly won nearly a third of state tenders while his son's companies won most of the rest. Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at £10bn in 2011.

Akhmetov paid £136.4m for two flats spread over the top floors of One Hyde Park, – Akhmetov is liable to pay Westminster council £1,353.48 a year.  Band H, the top band.

every day sexism

Saturday, 15 March 2014

No need for feminism ?

I am indebted to Sandi Toksvig for supplying the figure that women own just 1% of global assets.
If you want to quibble that it's really 2% go ahead, the fact remains distribution of wealth is incredibly uneven and unjust.

solicitors "regulation" biased - well there's a surprise

Having solicitors regulate themselves is laughable - it like having the Police investigate themselves.

Conduct that in most other walks of life would be gross misconduct and lead to dismissal gets no more than a letter from the SRA, if that.

Tony Benn RIP

Tony Benn ..... "continued to make the case that a world in which the richest 400 have the same wealth as the poorest 2 billion is probably a bit wrong, and could do with putting right. And he did it to the end, in such a way that made anyone listening believe it was possible."

three of my favourite Tony Benn quotes:

1. "After the war people said, 'If you can plan for war, why can't you plan for peace?' When I was 17, I had a letter from the government saying, 'Dear Mr. Benn, will you turn up when you're 17 1/2? We'll give you free food, free clothes, free training, free accommodation, and two shillings, ten pence a day to just kill Germans.' People said, well, if you can have full employment to kill people, why in God's name couldn't you have full employment and good schools, good hospitals, good houses?"
To a PBS documentary in 2000.
2. "If one meets a powerful person - Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, -  one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system."

3. When you think of the number of men in the world who hate each other, why, when two men love each other, does the church split?"
On equal marriage and the Church of England. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

More emigration please

The latest figures provided by the British government - and gathered by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) - are an estimate. They're the best guide we have as to where Brits who have moved abroad are living in the EU.

Interestingly, they suggest that the number of Brits living outside the UK but in another EU country is 2.2 million - about the same as the number of EU citizens who are now living in the UK (2.34 million).

Tough to take for UKIP who want to get rid of all the non British EU citizens in the UK - but the flip side of that will be  taking back 2.2 million Brits who live in other EU countries

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Co-op divvy of £3.6 million

My touching naivety is still intact and I was actually shocked to find that the new head of the co-operative group is being paid £3.6 million for less than 8 months 'work'.

For older readers - that is a lot of green shield stamps !

I can't help but feel that this is hugely at odd with the philosophy of the Rochdale Pioneers, usually seen as founders of the co-operative movement.

co-operative members believe in the ethical values of:
  • Honesty
  • Openness
  • Social responsibility
  • Caring for others

  • Once again I have not heard anything from any politicians of any party on the subject.

    Monday, 10 March 2014