Showing posts from 2012

Just Who Is On The Right Track?

Did you view the Parliamentary TV Channel the other evening and watch the Select Committee on Rail questioning firstly the leaders of the privately-led rail development management, followed by the questioning of the trades unions' representatives? Mmmm ... It doesn't sound very appetising (does it?) and if you didn't view it then I'd not be too surprised.

But - do you know - there are valid reasons why a lot of people should have seen it. In the one hour or thereabouts that I saw, I was hugely disturbed by what must have been blatant misleading of the select committee by the development management chair and vice-chair. In contrast, the four trades unions' members (including Bob Crow!) seemed to be talking very good sense.

In one question directed at the development management pair (about whether they consulted with the trades unions), the answer was of the variety, "Oh, yes, we're in regular contact ... and when our plans are sufficiently developed, the u…

Bob Dylan and 2012

In my previous article I stated that the British athletes have been saying, "If we can accomplish what we have, then everyone can do it!". I asked if that was really the situation.

It would be quite easy to (and sometimes I do) dive into a rant against Tory-ism and their record of elite-ism, which I fear is what the Olympic legacy idea will turn into. The Tory government is hell-bent on their plan to pull in the reins on expenditure, therefore it is difficult to see them stopping the selling of playing-fields and investing (other than through Lottery funds) money into the 'Legacy'.

To be fair, the Socialists in this country don't have such a good record either - well, at least since the post-WW2 years, perhaps one of the bravest periods of government this country has witnessed. But the people got tired of grey-ness and wanted something of what the toffs had. By the mid-1990s, the Labour Party decided that to try and live by some form of decent well-thought princ…

How To Get A Level Playing Field?

The 30th Olympiad in modern times has - they say - come to an end. The cauldron has ceased burning and the Olympic flag has been handed over to Rio de Janeiro. Speeches have been made saying how great this Olympic event has been and of how the government is suddenly going to further support the development of new athletes, particularly by bringing about a greater interest in schools. 'Legacy' is the new buzz-word.

Fine - all that is good. But it is a terrible shame that the Thatcher government all those 30 years ago started the trend of selling off school playing fields - and all the governments since have followed suit. Even last week the government were to sign off the sale of another few dozen playing fields - have they now decided not to do that? The ways and means of governments are wonderful to behold.

But back to the London Olympics. The fact is, it's not yet over. The Paralympics is about to start. Are its participants regarded as a separate breed so that they are…

Team GB

I have been blown away by Team GB's performance in the Olympics. I don't know whether it interests you but having seen Andy Murray win the gold in the most remarkable way against Federer made me think that it just shows that anything is possible ... it just takes self-belief to achieve what you want to do.

More particularly, if we all in this country were to become as focused as these medal winners on what we should do both socially and spiritually, then, again, anything is possible. The world can so easily become such a wonderful abode if were to desire it enough!

Mr. Bond, The Queen and Mr. Bean

Some of the items included in last night's opening party were class i.m.o. ... The Queen and Mr. Bond, the animation of Churchill's statue, Mr. Bean during the Chariots of Fire interlude ... and what I thought was the truly magnificent theme and engineering of the Olympic flame. That, I thought, was worth all the tea in China ... Well, surely it was at least something that was a truly innovative perspective incorporating the unity of the nations present.

Having said that it seems churlish to criticise anything ... but I must. I felt that the first hour was a bore and the piece about the industrial revolution a total misrepresentation of history. Yes, Britain led the way in industrial development, but at the cost of the gross manipulation of workers and domination of a world that did not need dominating. Furthermore, the process led the world to think that all so-called "progress" was OK despite the pollution of the depths, the surface and the air. And parts of the wo…

How Can Anyone Like Toryism?

The Tory machine grinds on in its determination to impose its will, claiming that it's policy on financial cuts is necessary in view of what that naughty Labour Party did.

Well, the last Labour government was by no means perfect - it certainly did not provide for a rainy day - but the Tories live according to (putting it politely) kidology. They say they're "cutting" but in the process are borrowing more, and wasting more as a result of their various u-turns. They do not know what they're doing, and instead of doing something directly to help the young get into work instead decide that letting the banks have more money to loan to business is the way forward. Will the banks do what is intended at affordable interest rates? I doubt it.

It seems that a one-time very senior Tory figure not so long ago succinctly explained that the Conservative Party was a "coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins election…

Advanced Technology in Ancient Times

My last posting about the Antikythera Mechanism prompts me to write a little bit more about technologies that existed before the Buddha and the Christ appeared on Earth.

Back in the mid-1970s, I went through a period of evaluating alternative theories on what really happened in ancient history. It had always bugged me since my schooldays when I suggested to my teacher (in the 1950s) that the land masses of Africa, Europe and the Americas were once interlocked. It appeared obvious to me judging by the near-matching shape of their coastlines. The teacher poo-poohed my suggestion and that, effectively, caused me to question just what education was about. Education seemed then to be concerned about railroading people into mechanical thought processes, and it's not far different today, when material gain seems to be the be-all.

Coming back to the point at hand, my delving into alternative writings in the 70s produced a whole galaxy of new perceptions about what went on in the days BC. …

A 2,200 year-old computer

I first read about this object over 35 years ago, in the days when no-one knew what it was, having been pulled from the Mediterranean back in 1900. Even 35 years ago, people were wondering whether the object (showing advanced gearing) was some form of computer.

And now (having used advanced x-ray equipment and modern computers to solve the problem, impossible 35 years ago), here is the remarkable answer.

It was probably first designed and made by Archimedes, and derivatives appeared during the rise of Islam. Eventually the design made its way back to Europe and there is an unusual outdoor clock at Hampton Court that employs some of the gearing principles used in Archimedes original work.

Enjoy, it's a fascinating subject. Oh, and in that book I read 35 years ago, it was stated that objects thought to be electrical batteries were also found, also over 2,000 years old. I wonder what has happened to the investigation into those?


All in it together? ... Phooey.

Back in 2010, I made a few pronouncements about what I thought of the government coalition, but since then I've rather kept my powder dry. It did not take much imagination that pronouncements such as "We're all in it together" (Cameron) would rebound on the governing parties, and the truth of it all is at last coming to the surface.

Don't get me wrong - cuts were always going to be necessary and drastic. But the Labour Party knew that and were already drawing up their plans (slower pace cuts with less pain and providing for room for growth) when they were ousted by what turned out to be a coalition. The Labour Party has since derided the coalition for the swingeing cuts with no or little room for growth. The government said: "Ah, but staffing cuts in the public sector will be picked up by self-generation in the private sector!" Phooey number 1: Since then, unemployment has increased and growth predictions have had to be hugely downgraded. And I say a 1…

Robert Fisk and Islam

I have been an admirer of The Independent's crack Middle East reporter Robert Fisk for 15 or more years. I have read some of his books; I have read many of his articles. I was surprised, therefore, to read to-day's 'I' (a subset of The Independent) and a comment by Fisk about the singer Cat Stevens (a.k.a. Yusuf Islam).

In the article, Fisk refers to Stevens' conversion to Islam (in the late 1970s) and infers that Stevens "... frittered away more than 20 years of his life ...". Presumably in Stevens' pursuit of knowledge about Islam.

Just how had Stevens "frittered away" his time, I wish to know. Clearly, Stevens was guided by something about Islam that had inspired him, and I happen to know that he became a respected figure at Regent's Park Mosque in north London, where he was frequently to be seen. I believe that Stevens' presence in Islam has been of a constructive nature.

Islamic people were civilised centuries before Medieval E…