Saturday, 25 October 2008

Flat Fucking Earth (eventually)

Yeah I have like no ideas for this week. Seriously I haven’t even been in school since Wednesday (I love half term break) but I haven’t been able to get round to writing anything. Yeah, I’m a mess. Anyways, I though I’d try to write my way into this, maybe come up with some awesome idea while ploughing though this paragraph. In the mean time I suppose I’ll just keep on babbling, trying to waste some time… ah fuck it. I’ll go look for some news story on the BBC website to rant about. Thank fuck for the Internet.

*A few minutes later*

So we are officially approaching a recession. Woohoo. I think I’ve covered that one. Hmm, science and environment, sounds interesting.

*A few minutes later*

Nope. Nothing remotely interesting. Damn our world is fucking boring. Didn’t we pass some law on abortion of something this week? Let’s check health.

*A few minutes later*

Nope. We are boring people. Fuck it. Lets look at some random stories that the BBC can’t manage to categorise, there’s bound to be something bizarre and worth writing about.

*A few minutes later*

Bingo! Flat-Earthers; morons who believe that the earth is flat. Let’s laugh at them for being stupid. Apparently there are people out there who think that the earth being spherical is all just a conspiracy theory. Instead, they say, "the Earth is flat and horizontally infinite - it stretches horizontally forever” according to one Mr Davis, some nondescript computer scientist with an age and estimated IQ of 25 "And it is at least 9,000 kilometres deep" he adds, as if such bewildering detail that he could have made up on the spot is going to convince us. Or maybe it’s a disk. That is the theory James McIntyre, who moderates the Flat Earth Society Discussion Website (it is me or is that a web forum?), advocates. What a fun website that must be! I bet they have some really productive discussions.

Mr nondescript Davis: I think it is clear from the evidence available to us that the earth is in fact horizontally infinite. Anyone who could possibly disagree with this view, given the vast bank of evidence is quite clearly deluded.

James Jobless Moderator McIntyre: I’m sorry to be disrespectful nondescript D (what an awesome nickname), but your evidence is clearly made up by the Society of the Flat Infinite Earth. The arguments in question were famously refuted several years ago by Twat McTwaty on the Disk Earth website. I think you need to get with the times sir.

Mr nondescript Davis: I have read Twat McTwaty’s article and find it to be a load of rubbish. Twat clearly misrepresents the Horizontally Infinite position. His contributions to the debate are very harmful.

*Post deleted by A-Prick. Reason: offensive and unfair comment*

Ok so maybe it is not that polite. Anyway, the idea that there is some debate over how the earth is actually shaped within Flat Earthism is brilliant! While rejecting all available evidence about the shape of the earth, they then go on to invent their own evidence to try to prove their own points of view. Or maybe they don’t, maybe they just make it up as they go along, trying to be as gratuitous as possible. But if that’s the case, I’m sure they could do a much better job of it. Let’s give it a go shall we.

Ok, so the earth is not spherical. It is in the shape of a penis. That’s right; God is that immature that he decided to make the earth in the shape of a penis. The bit that we always see on the photos, is just one of the balls, the rest has never been photographed. The government wants to conceal the true shape of the earth because they think it is indecent. This censorship of the earth must stop. The people must know the true shape of their earth and when they do they will throw of their chains and the penis earth revolution will begin. Men will no longer be shamed of their genitalia and allow them to dangle in full view, declaring; if it’s good enough for the earth it’s good enough for me!

Ah silliness is fun.

Anyways, there is more to the article, so more for me to make fun of!!! Apparently Mr Davis says he is currently creating an "online information repository" to help to bring together local Flat Earth communities into a "global community". Brilliant! So they can all meet and march on parliament, asking for the censorship of the shape of the earth to be lifted! They can send petitions to Ten Downing Street asking that this conspiracy be uncovered! Great! Good luck with that nondescript D. Also note the ‘global community’. More like a ‘horizontally infinite community’ methinks.

Jobless Moderator McIntyre claims “circumnavigation is a case of travelling in a very broad circle across the surface of the Earth." Interesting. So the night sky is weirdly distorted, so that when you think you’re travelling in a straight line you are actually going round in circles. That explains it! The earth is flat after all! How much simpler life is now that I have shaken off the dogma that the earth is spherical and seen the light! Antarctica is not one landmass; it goes around the edge. There is no south pole, anyone who says they have been there is all part of the government conspiracy. Well thank you Jobless Moderator McIntyre, you have opened by eyes.

Amusingly, according to Christine Garwood, author of Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea (I must’ve missed that one when it was on the bestsellers list), the flat earth phenomenon is fairly recent. Ever since the Ancient Greeks (you can always rely on them to be sensible) we have fairly well accepted that the earth was spherical (or an oblate spheroid according to Nick L from Cirencester). It was not until the 19th century that some nutters decided to start saying that the earth was flat in response the scientific rationalism, which was undermining the Bible. That’s progress for you.

So I can only conclude that, in the words of Isaac Newton, these people are either ‘in liquor or insane.’

To take the edge of this rather pathetic and eminently botched blog, I will end by wetting your appetite for next week, which will probably not come to you until Sunday or even Monday. I am going to see the Quantum of Solace next Saturday, so I will review it here. Looking forward to it, like I’m sure you are(n’t).

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Animal Rights and Wrongs.

I’m moving away from my pseudo-political ranting this week and onto something slightly different. I am going to try to take head on the strange combination of militant fanaticism and ultra-fluffy liberalism that is the Animal Rights Movement. It is amazing just how worked up people can get over such a compassion fuelled issue like Animal Rights. It’s like going on a violent terrorist campaign to promote peace and harmony between all of mankind, except this time it’s a violent terrorist campaign (at times) to promote the prevention of cruelty to animals. Seems paradoxical but hey, that’s the fucked up, two-faced, utterly bewildering world we live in!

The thing I, and they, get confused about is what Animal Rights protesters are actually campaigning for. I suppose there is probably a lot of disagreement between activists as to what they actually stand for, some want the complete liberation of all animals, from your pet dog to the cow that you will at some point eat (unless you veggie, in which case you’ll probably just drink the milk, unless you’re also a vegan, in which case you can go fuck yourself you presumptuous twat.), to simply treating the battery chickens with a little more compassion; killing them before boiling the feathers off for example. The latter I sympathise with (obviously, I suppose you would probably stop reading this if I didn’t), but the former and most of the people in between those two extremes tend to get on my tits.

It’s not that I want animals to suffer or anything; I’m not some sort of sadist, I’d just like to think that the human race is slightly more sophisticated than a rat, so our needs should probably override the rat’s. However this is all scratching the surface thus far, what we need to do in order to see why some people think that rats should have the same rights as humans and why I think people who believe that are morons we need to look at the issue deeper. That involves using the grey stuff that sits up in our skulls using a hell of a lot of energy rather than the big muscle that pumps the red stuff (no not wine you alcoholics) round our body.

Ok, this may get a bit conceptual, so brace yourselves (as if that’ll help). The problem as I see it is twofold; one an unclear definition of rights, and secondly a disagreement over what gives us (and/or animals) rights in the first place. In true scatological fashion (by the way, that word doesn’t meant what you think it should mean in this context, for a few extra giggle look up what it actually means. Yes you have to work for your kicks today!) I am going look at the second problem first and the first problem second.

The second problem is a disagreement over what gives us rights. To understand the Animal Rights Movement we have to understand why they believe we have rights and to understand why the Animal Rights Movement repulses me you have to understand the problems with their definition. Right, so the filthy liberal types who think animals have rights base this on the undeniable observation that animals can feel pain. Their argument goes somewhat like this: humans feel pain, humans are animals, humans have rights, therefore animals have rights. Sounds logical doesn’t it? Unfortunately there are several mistakes; primarily the argument assumes that the ability to feel pain is a prerequisite for rights. Wrong. This is completely unfounded and is little more than an assumption. Using pain here is arbitrary, we could replace it with anything and the argument would still work in format and give us some really odd conclusions. Lets play with the idea: Humans can reproduce, humans are living, humans have rights, therefore all living things have rights (including bacteria). Looks like we aren’t going to be able to eat today, because plants have rights too you know.

So, silliness aside (for now), pain, as a prerequisite for rights, makes no sense. But what is the alternative (other than ability to reproduce, which also makes eunuchs fair game by the way)? I would argue (and plan to) that consciousness is a prerequisite for rights (and that does not mean that when you’re asleep you have no rights, a different application of the word conscious, dimwit). Consciousness in this case means the ability to reason and make a conscious decision about our lives and how we should live them. One could argue that this is as arbitrary as pain, but I can actually rationalise it so bare with me. In order to do this however we need to establish a definition for the concept of rights.

According to our old friend Wikipedia (citation needed), a right is a ‘moral entitlement’. So it is fundamentally associated with ethics, which we knew already. We have to understand that (in my view) ethics are a human construct. They concern themselves with human actions and establish how we should and should not treat our fellow man and the world around us (it is to be noted that, just because ethics are a human construct does not mean that there are no absolutes, but that is another blog altogether). If ethics, and therefore rights are a human construct they do not concern animals. Human beings are the only living organism that has the ability to make a conscious choice; we can choose to do what is right or wrong. Animals on the other hand live purely on instincts; there is no choice involved and, because ethics are reliant upon volition, anything that an animal does is entirely amoral (so a dog that mauls a man is not immoral per se). So moral entitlements only apply to beings whose actions can be considered on a moral level, which relies upon it’s ability to choose, which relies upon it’s ability to reason, which in tern relies on it being conscious. So consciousness is a prerequisite for rights. Simple eh?

So what exactly are these rights? We’ve established that human being are entitled to rights, and we’ve established what the definition of ‘rights’ is in the process, but we’ve not touched on what those rights are. Rights are a moral entitlement, so your views are depends upon what moral standard you uphold. Such a question would have to be discussed at length and would take up a lot of space. I do not want to distract from the main thrust of this entry because that would be counter productive. I leave it up to you for now to establish what mankinds moral entitlements are, I may write a sequel entry discussing my own views, but until I do you’ll have to guess them.

I want to round off by discussing the consequences of the Animal Rights Movement. I have touched upon the extremes, and these are extremes; there is plenty of middle ground that most activists occupy. This middle ground is just as dangerous as the extreme however. The fluffy compassionate filthy liberal don’t-hurt-the-poor-chicken extreme is fairly docile (it fails to take the ideas behind the movement to their logical conclusions so nullify their effects) however their seeming harmlessness allows for the fallacious ideas to become acceptable to us, allowing the more extreme (or consistent if you’re being cynical) element to thrive behind a fa├žade of harmlessness. ‘But what harm do they cause?’ I hear you ask in an overdramatic fashion more at home in a Greek Tragedy than my blog. In trying to elevate animals to a level on a par with humans, they actually drag the value of human life down, rather than bring the value of animal life up. While they sound fluffy and compassionate, the consequences of their beliefs are the downgrading of human life from a magnificent achiever, who, while not without its faults, is the most successful creature on the planet, to a ruinous monster that is enslaving animals for it’s own selfish aims with no regards for the animals assumed rights. I don’t know about you but the latter does not sound all that encouraging to me.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the Animal Rights Movement (I’m getting bored of typing that) would have us living in perfect harmony with animals scratching around in the dirt, trying to come up with a basic meal.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

the belated economic mess...

Well this was meant to happen last week, but it didn’t as I explained in my last entry. It may be a week late, but to be honest it doesn’t matter; the situation has not exactly changed! Anyway, enjoy.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year or so you will know that the world economy is not doing so well at the moment, in fact it would probably not be a bad description to say that the economy’s tits are moving firmly in the skyward direction (i.e ‘tits up’ for all the slow ones). It may have also come to your attention last week that the Americans were trying and failing to pass a bill to help bail out the failing banks on Wall’s Street. Fortunately congress came to their senses and passed the bill at the end of the week, although it doesn’t seem to have helped because the world economy is still in freefall.

You have probably guessed that I am for the bail out. The reasons for this are not as clear as one might think, I do not, in principle agree with government control over the economy; because in my experience no government can organise a piss up in a brewery, and if they can the end result is normally an awful lot of corruption. I am in favour of governments stepping in this time because it is a mess that they have created and so they have a moral obligation to try and fix what they have broken.

My limited understanding of the economy tells me that, if the government is going to tell a bank that it is ‘too big to fail’ (in essence giving it a blank cheque), it has to regulate the bank to stop them from taking to many risks. After all it is not the bank taking on the risk; it is the government. In this case the government is giving the ‘blank cheque’ to the banks, but not regulating them enough.

In my opinion giving the banks a black cheque cannot be a good thing; it can result in one of two things, one the situation we land ourselves up in now, which is a load of failing banks who have taken on too much risk and now are relying on the government to help them out when the going gets tough and those risks do not pay off. Or we end up with over-regulated banks that are, in effect, nationalised and, because the government is so incompetent, they will inevitably be poorly run and overly bureaucratic.

The alternative is no ‘blank cheque’ and therefore a high risk that if one big bank fails the entire economy will fall flat on its face. Apparently. Although this line of reasoning seems to ignore the fact that other banks will suffer greatly if one bank collapses and confidence is shattered, so they will try to support a failing bank in order to save their own skins. The government simply does not trust the banks enough to act in their own interests and keep the economy as strong as possible. Maybe it’s time the government realise that the economy will actually regulate itself in order to keep itself strong, everyone gains from a strong economy so it is in his or her interests to keep it strong. Government intervention just distorts the issue by not allowing the economy the freedom to self-regulate.

Another interesting little titbit however is that many of the banks should not even be in any trouble at all. House prices will naturally rise faster than other goods prices (in line with earnings), so they are a very secure investment in the long run. House prices may take a short term hit, but they will recover, so it makes sense to keep money in housing, which is why it is odd that so many banks and building societies that deal mainly with property should be failing. This can be attributed to a change in the way in which banks assets were valued a few years ago. This new way in effect undervalues assets by focusing too much on short-term prospects rather than the long-term value of an asset, which in the case of property is very secure.

This obsession with short-term gains is damaging, not just to the economy, but also to society. Our consumerist society is obsessed with short-term gains and does not plan for the long run enough. Obviously we should not concentrate on long-term issues so much that we loose sight of the here and know, but we surely must be rather more long-sighted than we currently are.

So once again, while also planting considerable blame on the government and some on the economy, I have to conclude that human nature and human stupidity is the greatest danger facing our society. If only we could all smarten up realise that the long-term is just as important as the short-term, then I’m pretty sure that the world would be a more secure and well off place. But I suspect that we’ll be seeing whole squadrons of pigs to aerobatics before that happens.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sorry...

Yes I know, it's late, yes I know, it's short, Yes, I know it's not was I was going to give you. I'm sorry!

I was going to have a rant about the economy, I even wrote it up and all... then I forgot to post it and left it on my dad's laptop, which is now with him in Morroco. I'm using my dad's laptop because the computer I use is not connecting to the internet and I can't be arsed to buy my self a laptop. So now I'm using my brother's computer (he's at uni). Anyways, it seems I'll have to edit this weeks intended post for next week!

Sorry my faithful and loyal readerdship (I'll leave it up to you if you take that as sarcasm or not)