Archives for the month of: January, 2009

Terrorism is terrorism. Whether State-sanctioned or Rogue. It’s all terrorism, and all the “eye for an eye” nonsense is just blinding everyone, to paraphrase Gandhi. An extra point is that sadly it’s also bolstering an over-glamorised, uninformed cowboy mentality. I don’t mind if someone wants to take himself down in a “blaze of glory” (although it does make me sad). I really do mind when they happily take down a few hundred innocents (who don’t yet want to die) with them. Equally, any country’s “defense” must treat all citizens’ lives as sacred – not merely those living inside their own borders.

People must not mistake this situation with its various cultural and religious labels. It is a war, but not between nations (or for nations), as most people are led to believe. It is a war between a dangerously corrupt government and a few dangerously corrupt rogue organisations (of which one is presently much more potent). It is being manipulated from behind the scenes by very rich and ruthless men (from within the “warzone”, and from around the world) to increase their own power and wealth. The whole facade of “ideals” is just being cynically exploited by these men as tools of manipulation, to stir up the emotions of the masses and keep them at breaking point.

The Palestinian and Israeli citizens need to both rise in solidarity and have a full-blown two-nation revolution against their own dysfunctional and immoral tyrants (I say “tyrants” for both countries because even “democratic election” is such an easily subverted system these days, when the price is right). Only after such a revolution can they try to mutually build a sensible solution together, based on the needs of the people. And the added bonus would be that shady multinationals like the Carlyle Group won’t be able to make so much money from it.

Following are some links which make valid points about how people are being misled and manipulated in both directions. For what it’s worth, each of them also include things which I suspect are not entirely correct too:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD_niyudWyY

thesecretsofvancouver.com/wordpress/will-ap-and-reuters-be-the-hamas-propoganda-arm-again/activists

www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi/noframes/read/91303

www.crimsonpolitics.com/cnn-shows-hamas-propaganda-fake-cpr

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUTgIyOLLaw

www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-9mUZEN9-Y

To summarise my opinion about all of this I recommend these two xkcd comic strips:

xkcd.com/285

xkcd.com/381

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We are not cynical enough. At least, not in the right ways. It seems, we stubbornly refuse to learn from history – reading this wikipedia entry about Operation Mockingbird reminded me of that. Bummer.

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Having heard various things about the HAARP project, which has a home page and a wikipedia entry, I did a bit of digging myself. It seems to me that there are three distinct causes for concern, and for debate:

  1. is it really only being developed and used for the benevolent purposes (research & environmental/societal protection) that the authorities would like people to believe, as opposed to “weather-warfare”?
  2. might it have a dangerous capacity for malevolent use even if developed benevolently?
  3. even if used with purely benevolent intentions, can it potentially have dangerous side-effects (damaging/destroying the ionosphere’s capacity to protect us from cosmic rays)?

After much reading and cross-referencing I realised it is one of those rare subjects which is really quite split down the middle in terms of debate and facts. This is due to a deeply cynical and speculative post-Bush public clashing philosophically with a paranoid military who have surrounded certain aspects of this project with a veil of secrecy (cunningly cushioned by an apparently contrasting level of openness about the more innocent aspects of it). I won’t draw conclusions yet, I’ll wait and see. I only recommend following a trail of links about the subject though. The two links above are a good place to start. Regarding “debate”, the talk page for this entry on wikipedia makes for entertaining reading…

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It always amazes me how stories like this one (about a potential whistle-blower against Bush who died in mysterious circumstances in a plane-crash) seem to be so explosive, yet never seem to get any major exposure, but instead briefly visit approximately page 3 of a small paper and then disappear.

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Check out Earthrace, the so-called Coolest Boat In The World. It set a new world record to circumnavigate the globe on the 27th of June 2008 and broke the previous world record by 14 days.

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Finally I found somewhere to download (legally) a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. I’m happy. Check out the awesome powers of The Internet Archive. I found the book in the so-called Open Source Books section.

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Each time I watch this video I laugh out loud, even when alone. That doesn’t happen often…

I’m betting this will be another internet phenomenon, it’ll probably peak at about 5-million hits (…?).

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If you’re not in the mood for looking up terms in serious dictionaries like wiktionary.org or dictionary.com, check out this insight into urban group psychology.

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When people ask me:

“What religion are you”

I usually start by mumbling something vague about being “spiritually” motivated in my approach to everyday life, but not aligned with any particular religious spirituality or manifestation thereof. When people then stare at me as if I’d just coughed up a particularly complex hairball on their carpet, I usually clarify with something like:

“I don’t claim to know what exists and what doesn’t, and beyond that I would be wrong to say I was utterly convinced of the existence of one god or another (or several), or conversely to claim to know that all apparently religious phenomena are nothing more than absurd imagination. This means that your question is impossible for me to answer honestly, whichever way I spin it.”

Usually people then say something along the lines of:

“Oh come on, that’s just a cop-out because you don’t have the courage to say you believe in one thing or another. Which option do you think is more likely than any other?”

At this point I usually consider starting a debate about how many Sunday churchgoing “believers” actually live and breathe their religious beliefs relentlessly, 7-days-a-week, without hesitation, doubt or distraction… but then decide against it, because that usually just descends into unsophisticated nitpicking. Instead I usually reply more-or-less with:

“OK, if you pressure me to give myself a label by stating what I believe is most likely of all the systems of concepts I have come across, I would have to call myself an atheist.”

Usually at this point, once people have regained the ability to breathe after their shock at my sheer audacity and insensitivity for mentioning the A-word without even coughing into my handkerchief self-consciously afterwards, I find myself thinking about something which to me is far more important than what I believe (or disbelieve), and that is how I believe. I always strive to believe anything within a certain context, which is beautifully summarised by Albert Einstein:

The only justification for our concepts and systems of concepts is that they serve to represent the complex of our experiences; beyond this they have no legitimacy.

Namely, I strive on a daily basis to respect any other person’s right to believe differently, and also to respect their potential to convince me I am “wrong” (relatively speaking), particularly if they introduce new facts which replace any prior assumptions I might have made. I always struggle to remind myself that it all boils down to guesswork and approximation (sometimes informed, sometimes not). Regardless how certain I may feel about some things, I always think:

“allow new information the opportunity to revise your opinion”

To me that just makes sense. Then I think about how often I see friends and colleagues who are self-proclaimed “believers” of various religions and creeds, and who browbeat each other and enact shallow façades in which they pretend to engage in dialogue, as a mere excuse for taking turns to blow their respective trumpets, and to glare contemptuously at the “opposing” party who is so obviously “wrong”. This is the point at which I start to feel a boiling frustration at the fact that I am often seen as the “bad guy” and the “uncaring one” with regard to spiritual/religious matters when in fact I often feel I have more respect and sensitivity for the various people’s beliefs than they have for each other’s…

Then I remember there are people like Gandhi, sometimes. And people like the ones who maintain this refreshingly sensible website, which reminds us what terrorists really are and what they aren’t, and that terrorists are not the same things as religions & countries. Then I have hope.

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I’m not quite sure what to say about this article, other than to just link to it. People can really get lost in their own reality if they allow themselves to…

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