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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thinking About: The Summer

We’ve just slipped into British Summer Time (BST) here which means that it’s almost time for me to start popping my anti-histamines. For 23 years now I’ve had to take a daily dose of drugs to make the summer months bearable – not great, just bearable. I’m sure that I used to like the summer. I’m not a huge fan of heat but we don’t often get really hot weather here and there are ways to cope. I always liked the way that the warmth brought out the pretty girls in their thin summer dresses but these days I try to stay indoors as much as I can. So summer is no longer my favourite season. Of course some years are better than others. I’ve found an anti-histamine that seems to work pretty well (thanks to CQ’s advice) so I don’t suffer too much – most of the time. But it still irks me that I only developed this affliction in my 20’s supposedly – according to my doctor – because of the stress of my final exams, as if that could bring on hay-fever.

Suffice it to say that I look forward to the next 4 months with a certain amount of trepidation. At least I can afford the drugs I guess and it’s not as if I need to be outside because of my job or family commitments. I don’t have to walk the dog or take the kids to the park. I don’t even like gardening that much, so it’s not as if I’m going to miss being outside overly much. It’s just that I guess I’d like to at least have the choice. Part of the problem I have is that hay-fever symptoms don’t exactly make you attractive. Constant sneezing, blotchy skin and red inflamed eyes are not exactly a turn on. Maybe I’m lucky that I didn’t have it during my teenage years – not that it would’ve made a whole lot of difference I’m guessing.

Maybe I should just be stoical about the whole thing. I’ll throw enough drugs at it, hide when I have too and cope – just like I always do. It’s not exactly going to kill me it’s just going to irritate my nose and give me something to bitch about. At least my new building is air-conditioned which should help. I wonder if they’d mind me setting up a fold-out bed in there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ministers 'using fear of terror'

From the BBC

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties. In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of "tortures". The Home Office said it was vital to strike a right balance between privacy, protection and sharing personal data. It said any policies which impact on privacy must be "proportionate".

Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards. "It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state," she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. She said the British security services were "no angels," but they did not kill people. "The US has gone too far with Guantanamo and the tortures," she said. "MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect - there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

Dame Stella's comments come as a study is published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) that accuses the US and the UK of undermining the framework of international law. Former Irish president Mary Robinson, the president of the ICJ said: "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years. Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats." The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner said the ICJ report would probably have more of an impact than Dame Stella's remarks because it was a wide-ranging, three-year study carried out by an eminent group of practising legal experts. Dame Stella appeared to be more restrained in her comments than the ICJ, he added. She was keen to stress the risk of civil liberties being curtailed, while the jurists insisted that international law had already been "actively undermined". Shadow security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said the Conservatives were "committed to ensuring that security measures are proportionate and adhere to the rule of law". The Tories said the government's push to extend the detention time limit for terror suspects was the kind of measure condemned by the report. Human rights campaign group Liberty pointed to a number of other recent developments it said represented "a creeping encroachment on our fundamental rights":

Government plans for a giant database to record the times, dates and recipients of all emails and text messages sent and phone calls made in the UK

The growth of Britain's DNA database - it is now the world's largest, per head of population, with samples from some 4m people

The use by councils of laws designed to track criminals and terrorists to spy on ordinary citizens. In one case a family was watched to see if they were really living in a school catchment area

The spread of CCTV cameras. Britain now reportedly has some 4m, the highest density in Western Europe

Proposals for "secret inquests," excluding relatives, juries and the media, which the government says would prevent intelligence details leaking out

Isabella Sankey, director of policy at Liberty, said she was "enormously heartened" by what Dame Stella had said. "Over the last seven years, we've seen a number of measures passed, some of which affect very few of us in a horrible and terrible way, whether that's house arrest under control orders or rendition and torture in foreign states," she said. “We have very broad police powers which sweep the innocent up with the guilty. We've also seen many, many measures that affect all of us just a little bit and, most of all, which seriously impact our rights to privacy”.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government has been clear that where surveillance or data collection will impact on privacy they should only be used where it is necessary and proportionate. This provides law enforcement agencies with the tools to protect the public as well as ensuring government has the ability to provide effective public services while ensuring there are effective safeguards and a solid legal framework that protects civil liberties." Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: "This is damning testament to just how much liberty has been ineffectually sacrificed in the 'war on terror'."

[Well, I think that makes it pretty much official – don’t you? Our Government are using fear to drive us further along the path of a surveillance society. The question is: Why?]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just Finished Reading: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This is the second book in the Penguin Great Ideas series – though the third of that series I’ve read since I’ve also read The Social Contract out of sequence. My plan – which has so far failed miserably – is to read one of these slim volumes each month.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Stoic philosopher and Emperor of Rome and lived from AD 121 – 180. His collection of thoughts presented in this volume of twelve books covers a variety of topics and are basically his thoughts on how to live a good life. Unfortunately I found this rather hard going – unlike the previous Stoic writings of another Roman philosopher Seneca – because Aurelius seemed to be endlessly repeating himself. He appeared to have these basic ideas which recurred in various guises:

That the use of Reason should be paramount in any decision making process and that one should not give any weight to emotions.

That everything is ruled by Fate and you should just get used to the idea. The trick is to figure out what you are Fated to be and then simply be that person. Fighting your fate is pointless and will only bring you grief. Not recognising your fate is just confusing and will lead you into counterproductive activities.

You are going to die – soon. Anyone you know now will be dead – soon. Everyone who has ever heard of you will be dead – soon. So why bother trying to impress other people or spend your time trying to be famous? Such attempts are fruitless and the time can be spent more productively.

Don’t get too attached to things. People you love will die. Property can be stolen or destroyed. Do not accumulate hostages to Fortune who can be fickle at the best of times.

Don’t worry about the actions or thoughts of your neighbours. Their lives are their problem – not yours. You can try and correct their mistakes but only they can make the decisions to improve their lives.

Harm can only be self-inflicted. A reasoning person with the right attitude towards the universe can never come to harm.

It’s all good basic Stoic philosophy but 100+ pages of that did honestly wear a bit. Some of it makes a great deal of sense. I’m even getting an appreciation of the Stoic idea of Fate, though I do struggle with the idea a great deal. I’m a firm believer in Free Will but now understand, from my other readings, how Free Will and Fate can operate in the same Universe. I still remain far from convinced however.

I expect that I’ll have problems with the next book in the list for different reasons – its Confessions of a Sinner by St Augustine. Wish me luck – I think that I’m going to need it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Favourite Movies: Vanishing Point

I blame my brother for this I really do. As some of you might know I have never driven a car and have never had a driving licence. Most of the time I hardly notice cars except when I’m stuck in traffic with them. So why is it that I enjoy car chase movies so much? My brother – the petrol head, that’s why. He’s the one who used to drag me along to these things – not that I took much dragging.

Anyway the plot, such as it was, is that ex-cop, ex-road racer Kowolski (no first name) is delivering a 1970 Dodge Challenger to San Francisco and bets his friend that he can deliver it before 3pm just two days later. To do this he needs to drive non-stop whilst taking speed to help him keep awake and alert. Early on in his journey he has a run in with some highway patrol cops who chase him to the State line. They hand the pursuit over to the next State and the chase develops. On the edge of California a radio DJ hears about the chase and starts broadcasting messages to Kowolski and portrays him as the last American hero fighting for his freedom on the open road. It’s all very 1970’s, Existentialist and quite possibly Nihilistic too.

Even the cops don’t know why they’re chasing him and Kowloski himself – played by Barry Newman – has no reason to continue the chase. It’s not a film brimming with a whole lot of sense. But maybe that’s the point? Kowolski meets a few people on his journey. Some are good and help him, some are bad and try to hurt him. He is pretty much indifferent to both kinds. We get a few flashbacks that explain part of his character but nothing substantial. He’s pretty much an enigma from beginning to end. As I say it’s a rather odd film and a particularly odd film for me to like. Maybe I just saw it at an impressionable age? I don’t think I saw it when it came out – I would’ve been too young to get in. Maybe my brother sneaked me in? I can’t remember that far back.

I won’t ruin how it ends only to say that it keeps in with the style of the rest of the movie. The car is, of course, one of the un-credited stars and must have made a young Cyberkitten’s paws sweat with excitement as Newman drove it effortlessly along seemingly endless blacktopped roads at high speed. The movie is about freedom and lost innocence as far as I can tell. Maybe it was part of the backlash against the na├»ve optimism of the 60’s. Or maybe I’m just thinking about it way too much as always?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thinking About: Reading Science-Fiction

I’ve been reading SF now for about 35 years. I was introduced to it by a friend of my brother who leant me a few battered copies of E E ‘Doc’ Smiths space opera series. I still remember the rush of reading 40’s pulp SF. It was and remains to this day my mind expanding drug of choice.

I definitely had a good start and a better grounding reading classics such as 1984, Dune, I, Robot, A Fall of Moondust, Rendezvous with Rama, The Deathworld Trilogy, Slan, Foundation and much else besides throughout my teenage years. I read voraciously anything by Clarke, Asimov, Herbert, Simak, Heinlein, Harrison, Moorcock, Pohl, Shaw, Farmer, Vogt, Blish, Cooper, Wyndham, Anderson, Burroughs, Dick and on and on. Part of this was fed, guided and encouraged by one of my Maths teachers who recognised in me a huge fan of the genre. We made a pact. He would lend me a book if I leant him one. Of course it was a ruse – to get me buying SF for myself. I seriously doubt looking back if I’d lent him a single book he hadn’t already read or had no intention of reading. But it certainly worked. I started my obsession with all things Scinence-Fiction. 35 years later I have no idea how much SF I have held in my hands and passed through my brain. Lots – I know that much. I have at least 6 floor to ceiling bookshelves jam-packed with SF/Fantasy books and many more scattered around the house waiting to be read. I estimate that I must have read something approaching two thousand SF novels and I still have most of them providing expensive insulation in my library like home.

But how, you might be asking yourselves, can anyone read so much from such a narrow genre. Firstly – as you will have seen here – I no longer read SF exclusively of anything else (indeed I’ve always read other things) and find that I also enjoy Thrillers, Spy novels, Historical novels, War novels and even occasionally main-stream books too. But I always return to SF for the simple reason that it is anything but a narrow genre. SF has the whole Universe to work in and the whole of time to base its plots. The scale of the tale can also vary enormously from a single room, to a generation ship making its way between the stars to a galaxy spanning history of civilisation itself. It can be technical enough to warm the heart of any kind of Geek or can explore societies in alien environments or alien civilisations themselves. Such tales have always fascinated me and I always relish losing myself in an alien city full of exotic sights and sounds. SF can be full of robots, monsters, star-ships and the fizz of ray-gun fire but it is often far more sophisticated than TV or Movie SF would suggest. It can chill the heart or quicken the blood and the best of it can thrill like nothing else I have experienced. It is the ever present thrill of the yet to be discovered, the thrill of the possible and the thrill of what might be just around the corner. Quite simply I love SF above all else and if I live that long will probably be reading it in another 35 years – though by then this increasingly SF-like world might make it like watching the nightly news, though hopefully a little less dramatic at times!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just Finished Reading: Homegoing by Frederik Pohl

Young Sandy Washington is going home – or more accurately being delivered home by his alien family. Sandy is an orphan – raised on a starship on its thousand year long voyage, cast off from its home-world into the void and in effect lost. Sandy has been brought up on old TV and movies which had, rather mysteriously, stopped being received by the ship decades before. So his new family and Sandy himself hope that their second-hand knowledge will help him blend into human society before the aliens reveal themselves to an unsuspecting world. Unfortunately for all concerned the Earth has changed a great deal from Sandy’s expectations and its occupants are far from unsuspecting. But what are the alien’s real motives for returning Sandy and who is Sandy really?

I haven’t read any Pohl for a very long time and thought I should reacquaint myself with him. Whilst hardly the ‘dazzling tale’ promised by the cover, this was certainly a pleasant enough read – if a little plodding and ordinary. The characterisation was adequate and the aliens where fairly interesting. The portrayal of a post Global Warming world was fairly well handled and a bit of a surprise considering that the book was published in 1989 before such things had become the accepted vision of the future. In many ways a juvenile novel it provided just enough entertainment to keep the pages turning. Reasonable enough I suppose but if you want to try this author out I’d recommend the first 3 books of his Heechee series rather than this pedestrian example of his work.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sorry......

I'm addicted to my new game. I'll post something as soon as I finish this level...... [grin]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"There is a doom inexorable and a law inviolable, or there is a providence that can be merciful, or else there is chaos that is purposeless and ungoverned. If a resistless fate, why try to struggle against it? If a providence willing to show mercy, do your best to deserve its divine succour. If chaos undirected, give thanks that amid such stormy seas you have within you a mind at the helm. If the waters overwhelm you, let them overwhelm flesh, breath, and all else, but they will never make shipwreck of the mind".

Marcus Aurelius.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Galaxy has 'billions of Earths'

From the BBC.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard. Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms. He was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. So far, telescopes have been able to detect just over 300 planets outside our Solar System. Very few of these would be capable of supporting life, however. Most are gas giants like our Jupiter; and many orbit so close to their parent stars that any microbes would have to survive roasting temperatures. But, based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one

This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life. "Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited," Dr Boss told BBC News. "But I think that most likely the nearby 'Earths' are going to be inhabited with things which are perhaps more common to what Earth was like three or four billion years ago." That means bacterial lifeforms. Dr Boss estimates that Nasa's Kepler mission, due for launch in March, should begin finding some of these Earth-like planets within the next few years. Recent work at Edinburgh University tried to quantify how many intelligent civilisations might be out there. The research suggested there could be thousands of them.

[Of course once you start talking about thousands of intelligent species in the Galaxy you have to inevitably ask where the heck are they? Do they just burn ourselves out? Is intelligence an evolutionary dead end? Are they stupid enough to end up killing themselves and some of the species unlucky enough to share a planet with them? Do they go quiet for some reason? Maybe, like a child crying in a dark forest they attract predators and are simply being picked off before we hear about them? Or maybe they’re just too far away and whatever radio-type messages they may have sent just haven’t got to us yet? Maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll find out. I do hope so.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Finished Reading: Slide by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr

Based in present day New York and Dublin this book follows the criminal escapades of dug dealer Max Fisher, his ex-girlfriend Angela Petrakos and a serial-killer who goes by the name of Slide. Without a single redeeming feature between them they go through life stupidly blundering their way from drug deal to murder to kidnapping and much else besides.

This was actually a painfully bad book to read. Probably the only reason I finished it was because by the time I’d given up on the idea that it could possibly get better I was already two-thirds of the way through. The only way I could work my way past the uninteresting characters and the equally uninventive ‘plot’ was by treating the whole thing as a parody of the Noir style. The authors seemed to be attempting to overcome their blatant inability to write above the juvenile level by piling ridiculous characters on top of stupid situations – or was it the other way around? There was a quite an amazing amount of pointless swearing and meaningless sex scenes – in both senses of the word. Quite possibly one of the worst books I’ve actually managed to finish in years. Luckily another book by these pair was easy to delete off my Amazon Wish List before I wasted money on it. Dodged a real bullet there I think. Avoid.

Monday, March 09, 2009

My Favourite Movies: Die Hard

I’ve been a fan of Bruce Willis since his days playing David Addison alongside Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting. The role of rogue New York cop John McClean was idea for the wise cracking Willis – who apparently ad-libbed most of his lines. Called to LA over Christmas to meet up with estranged wife Holly (played by the sexy Bonnie Bedelia) he becomes involved in what at first seems like a terrorist hostage situation in the newly constructed Nakitomi Plaza. In an attempt to thwart their plans McClean begins to slowly pick off the bad-guys acquiring more deadly hardware as he goes. Pitted against him (at least inside the building) in the razor sharp mind of ex-terrorist Hans Gruber – isn’t it funny that most believable bad guys are European? – played to perfection by the fantastic Alan Rickman. A fun time (with explosions and countless witticisms) ensues.

This is such a fun film. It’s an ideal vehicle for Willis’s style of acting and his delivery of the killer one-liner. It also showed that he can pull off a staring role in an all action movie. I loved the scene where he’s trying to radio for help only to be told he’s breaking regulations and the channel should only be used in emergencies to which he responds “What does it sound like lady, I’m ordering pizza?” followed by a hail of deafening gunfire – hilarious! Of course being that kind of film Willis needs to basically destroy the building in order to save the people inside it which, I suspect, is one of several unsubtle swipes at corporate America. There’s another wonderful scene where Alan Rickman is discussing men’s fashion with the head of the Japanese head of the US operation – just before he cold bloodily executes him for not providing the information the gang needs to open the safe. No wonder it was an 18 Certificate. It is infinitely watchable though and the sequel “Die Harder” is almost as good. After that things begin to tale off a bit. I thought “With a Vengeance” was OK but not great and didn’t care for “4.0” very much, though it did have some wonderful moments. All in all I still think the first in the franchise is still the best. Simply good dirty violent fun.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Rationality

Reason can wrestle and overthrow terror - Euripides

AC Grayling for The Guardian

Saturday March 16, 2002

Before the scientific revolution of the 17th century, mankind found its picture of the universe a satisfying one. The world existed to serve mankind; it had, indeed, been created by a supernatural agency for that express purpose. Our home the Earth hung from the glittering floor of Heaven like a jewel, with Hell beneath and Chaos around; while above, in the crystal spheres, burned the greater and lesser lights, set in everlasting motion by the creator to illuminate our days and mark our seasons - making music, as they flew, too beautiful for us to hear while we remained imprisoned in our "muddy vesture of decay", but promised to be audible to us if we merit it when dead.

When it was proposed that the Earth flew too, and as one modest member of a vast swarm, occupying an insignificant corner of a vaster universe, the affront to human self-importance was incalculable. But the calm deductions and patient observations of science, not to say the extraordinary difference it has made to the conditions of ordinary life, did not allow the preceding mythologies to retain their plausibility long. But humankind, like its individual members, finds it difficult to give up bad habits, least of all ancient superstitions and beliefs. Proof of this comes in news that a number of schools in the UK are teaching "creationism" - the "theory" that the universe was created by supernatural agencies - alongside, or as "more true than", scientific cosmology and evolutionary biological theory. Reports do not specify which creationist view is being taught; is it (to take a few random examples from thousands) Babylon's account of the mingling of Apsu and Tiamat, who thus gave birth to the gods who went on to create man? Or the Aztec story of how Quetzalcoatl formed humans from the ashes of a previous earth (no one explains the origin of the previous earth)? Or the Genesis story of how a supposedly omnipotent god took six whole days to separate the waters (where did they come from?) and make the plants and animals? How, by the way, do "creationists" tell which of these accounts is better than the others, and the right one to believe?

The trouble with these tales being taught as comparable in intellectual worth to evolutionary theory is that, whereas scientific accounts of the universe and life within it are based on evidence gathered from observation and experiment, then interpreted by reason, tested by careful and rigorous procedures of evaluation, and subjected to revision or rejection in the light of further evidence, the creation myths are based on nothing but the fantasies of the ignorant who lived long ago. Thinking of the latter as even a remotely serious competitor to science is a nonsense. The key here is rationality. Rational thought proportions belief to evidence. To believe that there are sparrows in the garden is rational because the publicly available and checkable evidence is powerful, repeatedly accessible, undeniable, and conclusive. To believe that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden is irrational, not least if based on the testimony of one flaky member of the family who got the idea from an old book. This sums up the comparison between science and creationism in a nutshell.

But to teach creationism to children as if it were a serious competitor to science is worse than irrational, it is educationally and morally irresponsible. Let creation myths be taught along with other myths and fairy tales - some are beautiful, and most are fun, especially the sexy ones about heaven mating with Earth. But to tell children that ancient traditions, the dreams of our uneducated forefathers, and holy writings which must not be questioned or impugned for fear of blasphemy, are sources of authority about the world on a par with science, is a travesty. "By their fruits ye shall know them": the legacy of scientific rationality includes antibiotics, electric light, computers, aeroplanes, central heating, anaesthesia, and clean water; that of religious irrationality includes inquisitions, crusades, persecutions, strife and hatred. The case rests.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Just Finished Reading: The Spanish Civil War by Antony Beevor

Back in the days of my youth I used to read Military History almost exclusively – concentrating on WW2. Doing so, I knew about the Spanish Civil War but only in the most general sense. I knew that both Germany and Russia had troops and some of their best weapons ‘in theatre’ to try them out in battlefield situations but I wasn’t aware that the Italians also had substantial forces involved too.

What I really learnt from this very well written book was the sheer horror of the war fought in Spain as well as the sheer incompetence and waste of life exhibited on both sides. After decades of slow but steady decline Spain had virtually fossilised by the beginning of the 1930’s. Being both an autocratic and theocratic state it did not tolerate dissent easily so when the Left came close to winning an election and the resultant government started timidly to bring in limited land reform the forces of the Right staged a coup – which failed. Unfortunately for the population the coup did not fail completely and the country quickly divided along political lines. Because of the weak positions of both Left and Right the violence against opposition groups in areas held by both factions was severe and brutal. Thousands of people were simply lined up and executed for having voted for the opposition. If possible the war actually made things worse. Most of the Army officers had joined the Nationalist side – led by General Franco whilst the larger Republican Army had to use militia’s from the Socialists, Communists and Anarchists. Although full of political fervour, these poorly trained and poorly armed workers died through their own inexperience and the incompetence of their officers. Luckily for the Left – at least initially - the Nationalists spent almost as much energy in political in-fighting as on the battlefield. But the writing was on the wall from very early on. The Left had a mountain to climb if it was to defeat the Nationalists. Not only where the Left badly armed but it seemed that most of the world – from Europe to the USA – did everything in their power to make sure that they failed.

Enter the International Brigades (made famous by George Orwell amongst others). These rag-tag collections of left-wing intellectuals and workers from all over the world flocked to the Republican cause and stayed in Spain until the bitter end despite their often awful treatment by their frequently Communist leadership. Although told as dispassionately as possible, Beevor’s ire at several groups involved in the conflict shines through his prose. He clearly shows the brutality of Franco and his Nationalists. He confirms time and again the ideological stupidity and viciousness of the Soviet led Communist forces who were, as often as not, their own worst enemies. He vilifies the actions and the rhetoric of the Catholic priests both inside Spain, the United States and the Vatican - and relates one speech where a priest offers the killers of any Communist one less year in purgatory for each one killed. His sympathies are, it appeared, with the Left but it would be too simplistic to leave it at that. His deepest sympathies, though this may be influenced by my own beliefs, are with the peasants and especially the Anarchists who were very badly treated by all sides.

All civil wars are recognised as being particularly nasty. In a very real sense it would seem that they were talking about the Spanish Civil War. I am not easily shocked or dismayed but parts of this book almost brought me to tears. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow men confounds me. Here amidst the examples of heroism and simple bloody-minded survival are countless examples of breathtaking and almost casual brutality on an industrial scale. It beggars belief what people did to each other in Spain in the years between 1936 and 1939. Few came away from that nasty little war with clean hands. If anything says that our species does not deserve to survive it is events like this. Knowing that we are capable of atrocities undertaken in the name of political ideology makes me despair that there is any hope for us. Read this book and weep for humanity and hope that the likes of this bloody conflict never happens again.

Monday, March 02, 2009

15 Albums……

An idea from Laura over @ The Sarcasm: 15 Albums that affected me in some way…. Basically albums that made me glad to be alive when they were produced.

They are: (in no particular order)

Tuesday Night Music Club – Sheryl Crow

Release – Afro Celt Sound System

Tidal – Fiona Apple

Garbage – Garbage

Eels – Beautiful Freak

Gorillaz – Gorillaz

Debut – Bjork

The Joshua Tree – U2

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Eyes Open – Snow Patrol

Fallen – Evanescence

Under My Skin – Avril Lavigne

Infest – Papa Roach

Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

Eye to the Telescope – K T Tunstall