| Friday, December 30, 2005
| TSUNAMI'S, EARTHQUAKES, HURRICANES AND RESPONSE
|A recent BBC poll which took more than 30,000 votes in more than 25 countries came up with this list of the most important events of 2005...
It provides an indicator (though no more than that) of how messed up (some) people's priorities are.
I discount some of the issues in the poll. I discount the death of the pope because, although it is important for many catholics around the world, the death of an 85 year old man in poor health really does not come into the same category as the others.
The London and Bali bombings are symptoms of the same problem and whilst they were horrific I don't belive they were the most important thing in the world this year.
There is a case to be made for global warming being the biggest crisis we face but that is also in a different category. Avian Flu is in a "what might happen" rather than "what has happened" or "what is happening" category, so that is removed.
I want to have a look at the financial response to the three big natural disasters. I believe it shows just how out of step the world reaction is...
For the tsunami relief fund the worldwide total was around $12 billion. As well as the 200,000 to 250,000 deaths, around 1.5 million people were made homeless.
For the Pakistan earthquake total donations are around £5 billion so far (figures from Reuters). There are reportedly more than 73,000 dead but the worst is yet to come with up to 3 million made homeless and facing a brutal winter. This could get a lot worse. I have just noticed it is not in my opinion poll and I am ashamed at myself for leaving it out.
For New Orleans the total spend could be up to $200 billion. The people affected by the Hurricane will most likely not see much of this. A large corporate friendly redesign of New Orleans looks to be on the cards. Big companies will be getting big contracts and people will be getting the shitty end of the stick again. Whilst the hurricane disaster was horrible it comes nowhere near the scale of the other two. It also showed the either the ineptitude or sheer indifference of certain elements of the US government when it came to dealing with something like this.
Some groups claimed that the tsunami aid mainly went to the richest people.
Corporations grabbing for money anywhere they can get it is nothing new. The only people to come out of the Iraq war well are the major corporations and private security contractors (that we also saw running around in New Orleans).
The most major crisis right now is in Pakistan. This is where people will DEFINITELY die soon if nothing more is done. Why has the response to the situation in Pakistan been so muted?
Is it racism? Possibly. There were some vile letters in the UK press and people on radio explaining that although they had given money to the tsunami they did not want to give money to Pakistan in case they were inadvertently funding terrorism. As sickening as this nonsense was it surely couldn't have accounted for more than a few people.
Is it lack of government money? Yes and no. The UK government has given more (as a percentage) of the aid raised for Pakistan than it did for the tsunami.
I can only think that it is because people are not as aware of what is going on there as they were with the tsunami and with Hurricane Katrina. It just doesn't get the press coverage it needs. If you want to give some money to the relief fund then my friend from the area tells me that these are the better organisations...
Islamic relief - www.islamic-relief.com, The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust - www.shaukatkhanum.org.pk/donate.htm and the Edhi Welfare Trust www.edhi.gwat.net/
The hurt caused by these disasters will not be cured by money, but some of the wounds, starvation and homelessness can.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 2:23 pm
| Wednesday, December 28, 2005
| I just made this - you can read it if you click on it.
I know this isn't topical but seeing this twat pimping himself to politicians again does more than irk me.
I have just heard that Geldof has agreed to become an advisor to the Conservative party. He will be advising them about World Poverty. This is analogous to advising sharks about how to keep fish healthy.
I have posted about ths twat before and I am not the first to say this and I won't be the last..Bob Geldof and Bono can go and f*ck themselves.
His TV company often seems to come up with the contracts for the programmes made about 'Bob going off to see the African Children TM '. These 2 arseholes do far more harm than good by creating the impression that something has been done when it obviously hasn't.
Geldof declared the whole thing a success. War on Want had this to say ...
"[the G8 have] given less than 10% of our demand on debt cancellation and not even a fifth of what we called for on aid. On trade, the G8 has hardened its stance, forcing more countries to open their markets and threatening millions with the misery of poverty. When the moment came to act, the G8 turned their backs on the world's poor."
Jubilee South were even more scathing... "The multilateral debt cancellation being proposed is still clearly tied to compliance with conditionalities which exacerbate poverty, open our countries further for exploitation and plunder, and perpetuate the domination of the South."
Apologies for posting the obvious and I will be back tomorrow with some newer stuff.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 3:24 pm
| Tuesday, December 20, 2005
For the furtherance of international understanding I have decided to do a bit here about Scottish language and words. When Scots go to England or America some people claim they cannot understand them and therefore Scots can become very over-conscious of the way they are speaking.
It's best summed in the lyrics I have put below. You can listen to it here
THROW THE R AWAY - The Proclaimers
I've been so sad
Since you said my accent was bad
He's worn a frown
This Caledonian clown
Some days I stand
On your green and pleasant land
How dare I show face
When my diction is such a disgrace
You say that if I want to get ahead
The language I use should be left for dead
It doesn't please your ear
And though you tell it like a leg-pull
It seems your still full of John Bull
You just REFUSE to hear
Oh what can I do
To be understood by you
Perhaps for some money
I could talk like a bee dripping honey.
I'm just going to have to learn to hesitate
To make sure my words
On your Saxon ears don't grate
But I wouldn't know a single word to say
If I flattened all the vowels
And threw the 'R' away
There are actually three languages in Scotland, English, Gaelic and Scots. Not many people speak Gaelic (more people speak it in Nova Scotia than in Scotland) and it is different from Irish Gaelic. It is mainly spoken in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, sometimes as the first language, but there is probably no one who will speak Gaelic and not know English.
The interesting part is the interplay between the English and Scots languages. Scots or Lallans, often called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Gaelic, is a West Germanic language (like English) used in Scotland, parts of Northern Ireland, and border areas of the Republic of Ireland, where it is known as Ullans.
In Scotland all education, nearly all newspapers and magazines, most TV are done in what is erroneously termed 'Standard English' (how it can be standard when the only people that really speak that way are BBC newsreaders is odd) and yet Scots still bursts through in everyday speech. In the lift on the way up to this PC (the urge to standardise is so strong and must be fought - I nearly wrote 'elevator' instead of 'lift' there) it looked too full for me to get in but the guy said "c'moan in, dinnae worry aboot it". Bits of it are everywhere although there have been efforts to eradicate it for years.
I just find some of the stuff bizarre though. For example, there is a small Wikipedia in Scots language. This is not an attempt to further understanding or knowledge, the entries are not in depth or properly researched. It is more an attempt to rephrase familiar things back into full traditional Scots from English. In other words, it's an exercise in language and not knowledge...
For example, here is the entry on the UN Security Council
The Unitit Nations Security Cooncil (in Frainch: Conseil de securite des Nations unies, in Inglis: United Nations Security Council) is, unner the Unitit Nations Chairter, the bodie that hauds the lane richt tae, on maiters anent peace in the warld, mak resolutions that aa kintras maun tak tent tae gin they are members o the Cooncil or no, acause thay are syne thirlt tae thaim bi law. At the meenit the Cooncil conseests o fifteen members, wi five kintras (Fraunce, Roushae, the Unitit Kinrick, the Unitit States China) that haes the richt tae aye be members an that forbye haud the pouer tae nae-say onie resolution pitten forrit, alang wi ten ither members waled bi, an frae, aa the kintras that maks up the Unitit Nations as a hail.
Monie kintras nou conseeders that thare shuid be mair nor fifteen kintras on the Cooncil, an that mair nor five shuid hae the richt tae aye be on it. Houaniver, ilkane o the five kintras that wad hae maist pouer taen frae thaim bi sic a chynge yit haes the richt tae nae-say it, gin thay chuise tae uise it.
I can understand that and English speakers could probably get most of that from the context and the few English words that are in there; and a lot of the differences from English are just phonetic.
That said, people here would look it up in English and not Scots, even if they knew about the Scots one.
There is an argument that keeping up an old language is nothing but looking back longingly at a distant past and ignoring the present set of circumstances. "If language had been the creation not of poetry but of logic, we should only have one" Friedrich Hebbel
In other words what benefit would it give the Scots to make themselves harder to understand?
Storm Jameson, an English writer, Socialist and Anti-Fascist expressed it perfectly when she said "Language is memory and metaphor." Each area has its own metaphors and memories and they are expressed best in the language that has grown and developed in that area.
More languages and more forms of human expression are always preferable to fewer - even if it makes things trickier sometimes. Imagine if just one instrument e.g. saxophone (sorry Keir!) had never been invented or had died out. People would still make music, maybe even would still have wrote the same notes in the same order for a different instrument and yet it would not sound the same nor give us the same expression. Something would have been lost.
There are a few people working very hard to keep Scots Gaelic and Scots alive while many people just use words from those languages as a matter of course without any consciousness of their origins. I am not interested in nations with any of this - just cultures. Of the estimated 6800 (at least) languages in the world about half are thought to be under threat of extinction. The UN declared 1993 the year to save endangered languages but little or nothing was done. It has been predicted that in the 21st century 70% of the world's languages will die out. We are all going to lose a lot if that happens.
This is a little song to finish. I would be interested to know if any non-scots can get all of it. There is a dictionary of Scots to help if you need it.
Listen Tae The Teacher
He's 5 year auld, he's aff tae school
Fairmer's bairn wi a pencil and a rule
His teacher scoffs when he says "hoose"
"The word is house, you silly little goose"
He tells his ma when he gets back
He saa a mouse in an auld cairt track
His faither laughs fae the stackyard dyke
"Yon's a MOOSE ye daft wee tyke"
Listen tae the teacher, dinna say dinna
Listen tae the teacher, dinna say hoose
Listen tae the teacher, ye canna say maunna
Listen tae the teacher, ye maunna say moose
He bit his lip an shut his mooth
Which one could he trust for truth
He took his burden o'er the hill
Tae auld grey Geordie o' the mill
"An did they mock thee for thy tongue
Wi them sae auld and you sae young?
They werena makin a fool o' ye
They were makin a fool o' themsels ye see"
Say hoose tae the faither, house tae the teacher
Moose tae the fairmer, mouse tae the preacher
When yer young it's weel for you
Tae dae in Rome as Romans do
But when ye grow an ye are auld
Ye needna dae as ye are tauld
Don't trim yer tongue tae suit yon dame
That scorns the language o' her hame
Then teacher thocht that he was fine
He kept in step, he stayed in line
Faither says that he was gran'
He spoke his ain tongue like a man
An when he grew and made his choice
He chose his Scots, his native voice
And I charge ye tae dae likewise
Spurn yon pair misguided cries
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 2:34 pm
| Saturday, December 17, 2005
| WHAT DO YOU THINK?
|Firstly, there is a new opinion poll if you scroll down the right side and a new 'warmonger of the week' just below.
As for 'what do you think?' then it is about Nuclear Power this week. There is a (phoney) debate on in the UK at the moment about how best can we maintain energy supply given that oil and gas are running out. The government seems to be pushing the nuclear option and even suggesting that it is the 'green' choice. They are also saying that nowadays it is possible to do it safely. Just after they said this there is a radiation leak in Chechnya. It is true to say that it is unlikely that the current demand for energy could be met by renewable sources. So I think the only option available is actually a massive reduction in energy use. No government will suggest this, because it is not a vote-winner. So what's to do? What do you think?
Here's what bLIAR and Greenpeace had to say about it
For some very good articles about it read Monbiot's pieces here and here. Much of the info in these articles is UK specific but the issues are general.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 7:05 pm
| Thursday, December 15, 2005
| POLITICIAN SPEAK TRANSLATED - PART 4
|This is slightly different from the other parts of this series. It's a handy guide for any budding young politicians (aka arseholes, parasites etc etc) of some the things you can do but it is wiser not to, or at least not get caught doing...
Leaking To The Press - this is one of the best weapons in a politicians armoury, provided of course that they know how to use it properly. Nearly everyone in the political field leaks, presidents, prime ministers, civil servants, even journalists leak stories to politicians occasionally the trick is to not get caught doing it.
Leaking has long been a way of preparing the public for a potentially unpopular policy.
Here is how it works - firstly you give the basics of a possible new policy to the press who will cite it as being from "sources close to the government" - its easy to get away with it as technically everyone is close to the government in some way - what do I mean? Do you pay taxes? Do you get benefits? Then technically you are directly related to the government. Then the press will run the story and the public will react. If the public don't like it you can say it wasn't your policy anyway it was only "sources close to the government" that were mentioned. If they do like it then you can press ahead with the policy. All you need is a compliant media and you have got it made.
Poetry/Singing - politicians are like adolescents in many ways. They are always certain that no one else really understands, they sulk or don't answer if anyone asks them a pertinent question and most disturbingly, they seem unable to resist the temptation to try their hand at poetry. There are some really, truly awful attempts. Tony Blair at the TUC conference and John Ashcroft at something or other spring to mind (or rather my attempts to eradicate them from my mind have not succeeded).
Physically Attacking Those You Wish To Elect You - A rule famously broken by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott MP who attacked and punched a voter who threw an egg at him and by former Scottish Office Minister and Conservative MP Allan Stewart who, while still in office, threatened activists protesting against an expansion of the M77 motorway by brandishing a pick-axe handle and saying to them "Useful weapon a pickaxe; there's a lot you can do with a pickaxe". It is not clever to bring your siblings or offspring along to such incidents either - at the same incident Mr Stewart's son was charged with a firearm offence.
Being The Aggressor - As much as you talk in other interviews about strong government it doesn't pay to be seen to have picked a fight, from television interviews to invading other countries it always has to appear like self-defence. Therefore you must convince people there is a genuine threat to security before going to war and you must put on a pious aggrieved face when asked a difficult question in interviews - it is vital to appear like a victim before you strike out. If anyone can find a historical exception to this I would be interested to hear it.
Ever Admitting You Were Wrong - with one exception - when the tabloids owned by the most powerful moguls say you are, in which case its good to make an obsequious climb-down speech.
Suing Members Of The Media And Losing - Rupert Allison springs to mind. The TV Show Have I Got News For You suggested that Mr Allison could be referred to as a "conniving little shit". Officially however, this is now true as the TV show won the case!
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 7:17 pm
| Tuesday, December 13, 2005
| MAD AS HELL
Really very busy at the moment so proper blogging will begin again on Thursday. In the meantime some more classic passages from the 1974 film 'Network'. If you haven't seen it, you should....
Firstly, Howard Beale the Newsreader on live TV - how often have you wished they would come out with something like this?
HOWARD - Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the twenty-fourth, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday, I announced on this program that I would commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened -- I just ran out of bullshit…
(looks around) am I still on the air?
Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living, and, if we can't think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit. We don't know why the hell we're going through all this pointless pain, humiliation and decay, so there better be someone somewhere who does know; that's the God bullshit (pauses again)
If you don't like the God bullshit, how about the man bullshit? Man is a noble creature who can order his own world, who needs God? Well, if there's anybody out there who can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me man is a noble creature, then that man is full of bullshit.
- I don't have any kids - and I was married for thirty-three years of shrill, shrieking fraud and every day, five days a week, for fifteen years, I've been sitting behind this desk - the dispassionate pundit reporting with seemly detachment the daily parade of lunacies that constitute the news and so I don't have any bullshit left. I just ran out of it you see.
Last night, I was awakened from a fitful sleep at shortly after two o'clock in the morning by a shrill, sibilant, faceless voice that was sitting in my rocking chair. I couldn't make it out at first in the dark bedroom. I said: "I'm sorry, you'll have to talk a little louder." And the Voice said to me: "I want you to tell the people the truth, not an easy thing to do; because the people don't want to know the truth." I said: "You're kidding. How the hell would I know what the truth is?" I mean, you have to picture me sitting there on the foot of the bed talking to an empty rocking chair. I said to myself: "Howard, you are some kind of banjo-brain sitting here talking to an empty chair." But the Voice said to me: "Don't worry about the truth. I'll put the words in your mouth." And I said: "What is this, the burning bush? For God's sake, I'm not Moses." And the Voice said to me: "And I'm not God, what's that got to do with it --And the Voice said to me: "We're not talking about eternal truth or absolute truth or ultimate truth! We're talking about impermanent, transient, human truth! I don't expect you people to be capable of truth! But, goddamit, you're at least capable of self-preservation! That's good enough! I want you to go out and tell the people to preserve themselves -- "
Ok... So How did this manifest itself....
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job, the dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air's unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our TVs while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything's going crazy. So we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is please, at least leave us alone in our own living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my tv and my hair-dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything, just leave us alone. Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad.
I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to write your congressmen. Because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is first you got to get mad. You've got to say: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more. I'm a human being, goddammit. My life has value." So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!"
Get up from your chairs. Go to the window. Open it. Stick your head out and yell and keep yelling. First, you have to get mad. When you're mad enough we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. Things have got to change. But you can't change them unless you're mad. You have to get mad. Go to the window ---- Stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!"
If you haven't seen this film then make it a priority.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 4:08 pm
| Saturday, December 10, 2005
| WHAT DO YOU THINK
|The new weekends on thumping the tub will be the 'What do you think?' section. Just things I can never make my mind up about.
So here goes. Do politicians deliberately set out to be deceptive and malicious? Do they sit and think 'Ok, what is the worst thing I could do today?'. Or is it that they sit and think 'ok, how best can I make money for me and my friends today?'.
It may be that the lackeys, sycophants and lobbyists that surround them prevent the truth from getting to them and that as they bomb people and keep the world in poverty through unfair trading systems they genuinely believe they are doing some good?
In short are they malicious and malevolent, just plain greedy or is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions?
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 12:30 pm
| Friday, December 09, 2005
| NEW LOOK
|Welcome to the new look 'thumping the tub'.
There are some new sections if you scroll down the right hand side including a new 'Warmonger of the week' section. Keep tuning in to find out each weeks winner.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 8:12 pm
| Wednesday, December 07, 2005
| ACADEMIA NUTS - PART 2
In a 1778 sermon Phillips Payson commented on 'circumstances favourable for a free government and public liberty'. He states that "A wicked rich man soon corrupts a whole neighbourhood, and a few of them will poison the morals of a whole community". To counteract this he suggests the "general diffusion of knowledge" as a remedy. The idea is for the 'general diffusion of knowledge' to bring about social good and counteract the machinations of the monied and the powerful.
One hundred years on we see such ideals were losing ground. Charles Francis Adams (son of President John Quincy Adams) stated in 1880 that
"The future is in the hands of our universities, our schools, our specialists our scientific men and our writers and those who do the actual work of management in the ideological and economic institutions"
which is a group of people now often referred to as the 'technocratic elite'. Adams saw this as a potentially a way to concentrate power rather than 'diffuse' it and as a good development though many would question whether it is (including me). A term was often used to describe this group in the American labour press was "the bought priesthood". This refers to "the media and the universities and the intellectual class, that is, the apologists who sought to justify the absolute despotism that was the new spirit of the age and to instil its sordid and demeaning values".
Some academics in the U.S. certainly formed part of a 'bought priesthood' by working in covert operations with the U.S. government and intelligence communities in military operations. 'Project Troy' was conducted in the 1950's in America. The US government sought to recruit top academics in both the natural and the social sciences in order to help with both psychological warfare and propaganda during the cold war. Furthermore
"it provided a model and many personnel for a series of large-scale, classified consultancies between leading social scientists and U.S. military, intelligence and propaganda agencies which have persisted in one form or another ever since" 
One of the members of the Project Troy team, Elting Morison (an historian), showed his conception of the social sciences as being within the realm of current political constructs rather than as attempting to improve, change or do away with them. He asked how values "created by our relatively free society in a past that was, for the most part serene" (How anyone, social scientist or otherwise could describe a past that included the annexation of part of Mexico, wars with Britain, Spain, France, nuking Japan and the genocide of almost an entire race as 'for the most part serene' is beyond me) could be "perpetuated within a relatively controlled society during an ominous present? Or how…more simply…can we maintain democracy in a garrison?"
This suggests that Morison saw one of the functions of social science as preserving rather than critiqueing what already existed. This is not something that the Greeks would have approved of.
After 'Project Troy' Morison got almost contrite...
"In the long run [secrecy] might prove to be more dangerous to free communication than any other single thing.[ An award for stating the obvious perhaps?] At the moment, to be sure, the influence of the classified idea has not been much felt [he obviously means outside of the hard and engineering sciences]; it has been extended only with great caution and...to the few universities that have secret projects for the government. There is pause in the thought, however, that universities are, in this society, one of the great wellsprings of ideas and that the source and supply for these things is the unobstructed flow of information and ideas".
Control over academic output is not usually so conspicuous as 'Project Troy'. I believe that there must have been similar events in the UK but the UK is generally a more secretive society and the declassified record is not as complete as in the U.S.
In the UK there are other methods of control. The universities were originally filled for the most part by the 'higher' levels of society in terms of both staff and students (and it still is so to a lesser extent). Like any institution they began to develop their own conceptions of what was permissible behaviour and good practice. The privileged elites who populated the universities pre-20th century became self-perpetuating. As more specialisation was called for in an increasingly industrial society then those best placed to exploit the educational resources were put at an advantage-so another form of 'intellectual elite' grew up. The best off were also the best educated. This does not encourage a fair or equal "diffusion of knowledge".
Education could serve the function that Payson hoped it would, but it certainly doesn't at the moment. There are many university staff who genuinely want to help people find the best methods of finding things out for themselves. This is by far the most useful sort of education . Unfortunately, there are also many who use their position to reinforce dogma whilst claiming objectivity.
The way out of this is not more objectivity. It is to declare your own prejudice as early as possible - then work against it, in a transparent manner. No one is objective. Let's end this fallacy. The 'objectivity' lie is often the first lie forced on you.
For more about on this topic take a look at
Norman Finkelstein's work,
The Cold War and The University, by Noam Chomsky and others,
Universities and Empire, by Christopher Simpson and
Captive State - The Corporate Takeover of Britain, by George Monbiot
 From 'Democracy and Education' Noam Chomsky, Mellon Lecture, Loyola University, Chicago 19/10/1994. Available at http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/talks/9410-education.html
 Christopher Simpson,
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 5:51 pm
| Tuesday, December 06, 2005
| POLL RESULTS AND NEW POLL
|The results are in and in a fortnight there were an incredible 25 votes!! 
Gallup, ICM and Mori are at this moment trying to get me to go and work for them. It's a tough business.
21 people thought we should leave Iraq 'Yesterday'. 3 felt there should be a pull-out in 6 months. 1 person said that troops should stay 'as long as it takes' but he has since told me it was a joke.
There is a new poll on the right if you scroll down.
 Three of them were me.
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 2:00 pm
| Saturday, December 03, 2005
| THE SPACE PACE
|The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace. - Bill Hicks
I love space and astronomy stuff. I even read the Stephen Hawking book and didn't give up on it halfway through. That's not to say I like science-fiction very much. Most of it is very poorly written and Star Trek is a thinly veiled representation of US foreign policy. The 'Prime Directive' is to never interfere in the 'natural' development of other societies and yet in every single episode something happens that offends the Enterprise crew so much that they just have to intervene to save these poor people from themselves. Sound familiar?
Despite the interest I have in it we need to leave it and leave it now.
The main humanistic arguments for exploring space are
1- To further our knowledge of the Universe and therefore our own origins
2- To see if we are alone in the Universe
3- To (possibly) prevent us all being wiped out by an asteroid strike
4- Humans are natural explorers - It is inherent in our nature
5- Technical gains for current Earth use and possible extraction of resources for future use
As for number one, this is probably the most fascinating information that space exploration has come up with so far. Pictures like this one from the Hubble Telescope (which shows one of the most complex planetary nebula ever seen, NGC 6543, nicknamed the "Cat's Eye Nebula.") are fantastic to look at and tell us a lot about the make-up of the Universe.
The second point is an important point philosophically and spiritually but the question is...would we know we were looking at life even if it was right in front of us? Think how long it took us to work out gravity, or that light moves. Life elsewhere is likely to be so different that we wouldn't know it even if we were looking at it. It is also very hard to define exactly what is life and what isn't....
If you think about it, a collection that includes a fruit fly and Richard Dawkins and the Great Barrier Reef is an awkward set of objects to try and compare. When we try and figure out what the rules are that we are looking for, trying to find a rule that's self-evidently true, that turns out to be very, very hard. Is [life] something, to coin someone's earlier phrase, that'll go squish if you step on it? (Douglas Adams)
It is also likely to be so far away that it could never get here. Even if it could get here, if your house is in a disgraceful condition do you invite visitors?
The answer to the third point is that it is highly unlikely we would see an incoming asteroid (until it was too late) or be able to stop if it was (unless Bruce Willis was on form that day).
As to the fourth reason, it could be argued that people migrated (explored), and still do, with animal herds or to find good arable land - not from any inherent desire to do so.
On the fifth point it is unfortunately the case that technical gains tend to be used for military purposes first before they filter to the public - the military got Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and spy satellites, the public got Velcro and Teflon. Is the trade off really worth it?
The exorbitant costs of the space program just aren't justifiable at the moment. Especially given that a lot of space missions don't work. $300 million dollars was wasted in one venture because the European made components were designed to work in kilometres and the American components were designed to work in miles. There are other things to be investing our resources in. I think everyone knows what they are.
That's the Humanistic part of it.
Now the militarisation part.
NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe- everything NASA does from now on will be "dual use" (meaning it will serve both military and civilian purposes) has said, "propulsion power generation advances that are so critical to the purposes of achieving our exploration and discovery objectives are the same technologies that national security seeks to utilize." It has long been claimed by the Pentagon that they will require nuclear reactors in space to power space-based weapons.[i]
A fleet of space planes will be designed to attack and destroy future satellites of enemies and rivals. A prototype is expected by 2005 with deployment envisioned around 2014.
In other words, with total domination of space instant annihilation of any state that gets out of line is possible. Stopping short of destruction, communications can be disrupted to ensure domination of the airwaves and then we can all watch reruns of Star Trek.
Lets not just call for an end to the militarisation of space. Let's try to stop anything that doesn't have a direct and immediate effect in pulling half of the world’s people out of poverty.
Once we have done that, then we can get round to "explor[ing] space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."
Oh, we would finally be able to get rid of shitty satellite TV channels too.
[i] Iraq War Emboldens Bush Space plans - Bruce Gagnon, http://www.counterpunch.org/gagnon08082003.html
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 11:40 am
|What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?
Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
See my complete profile
|Thumping The Tub Video
I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc
Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie
How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song
What You Like
I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.
What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.
Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing
Gorillas and us
I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams
art not oil>
campaign for press freedom
cost of war
downing street says>
food not bombs>
mixed up records
radio 4 all
snow shoe films
video activist network>
U.S. MONETARY Cost of the War in Iraq - other people are spending too, and the human cost is much higher
|some of the blogs I look at
|Arse of the month
The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..
NODOBY KNOWS ME>
|It's All Gone Scottish
A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.
The Scottish Patient>
big stick small carrot>
J. Arthur MacNumpty>
World of Jack McConnell>
The Firefox Chronicles>
Radio Free Scotland>
Scots and independent>
Scottish Independence Guide>
Inveresk Street Ingrate>
|Want to Swot?
If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.
politics and the english language>
the gore exception>
your tax dollars at work>
a cultural chernobyl>
choose life (not trainspotting)>
shooting an elephant>
a war crime within a war crime...>
>the menace of liberal scholarship
the modern era of law>
naming the problem>
the four ages of sand>
a news revolution has begun>
>money is the cause of poverty
countering corporate power>
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