The New York Attack

I predict…

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This blog is only nine months old and already I have written posts about Islamist attacks in…

Westminster in March 2017,

Manchester Arena in May 2017,

London Bridge in June 2017,

And Barcelona in August 2017.

Had I chosen to do so, I could have written posts about attacks in cities as varied as St. Petersburg, Kabul and Mogadishu. I shall not repeat myself but merely make a few predictions about what will happen in the days and weeks following the latest atrocity in Manhattan. Such is the frequency of these attacks and such is the predictability of the response by the Establishment that I am fairly confident that most of my predictions will come true. Continue reading “The New York Attack”

A Proposal For Change

Time to end the stranglehold of the Establishment

It is fair to say that the West is going through a period when faith in politicians and the  political system is at a very low point. Whatever one thinks about the UK’s decision to leave the European Union or Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States, these are, by any standards, unusual events. As were the Front National’s Marine Le Pen winning 34% of the vote in the French presidential election in May (double what her father achieved in 2002) and the AfD winning 1 in 8 votes in the Bundestag last month.

And as faith in politicians has declined so has faith in religion; outside the USA, Christianity is dying in the West and the indigenous population of Europe and North America is not warming to the latest aggressive and intolerant version of the Abrahamic delusion that has poisoned Western society since the fourth century.

People are at once cynical and ill-informed about politics – witness the enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn among people in their 20s and 30s. Some of Corbyn’s most ardent fans support his plan for large-scale nationalisation but also want to want to stay in the neoliberal EU. Both of these positions are intellectually valid but they do tend to be mutually exclusive – you simply can’t have both. Look at the way Greece was treated by the EU when it was forced to sell off state utilities to pay debts to international banks. There was no ‘bailout’ for Greece, only for the banks – privatised profits but socialised losses.

It is time acknowledge that the democratic institutions of the West are in need of a thorough overhaul. I have written before about the debt the West owes to the Classical Greece and Rome rather than to so-called ‘Judeo-Christian’ values. One of the key ideas I think can revitalise democracy and end the domination of the neoliberal Establishment (by which I mean all the main political parties in the West) is sortition – the selection of public officials by lot. Continue reading “A Proposal For Change”

Leap Of Faith 

Science and Religion are not competitors 

If the Sun was scaled down to the size of a white blood cell, the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States. There are between 100,000,000,000 and 400,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way and it is estimated that there are between 100,000,000,000 and 200,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. Even if you take the lowest estimates there are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 sextillion) stars in the universe. Then there are the spaces between galaxies which are even larger than the galaxies. The Milky Way is between 100,000 and 160,000 light years across but the closest galaxy to our own, Andromeda, is around 2,500,000 light years away. The sheer scale of the universe is incomprehensible to poorly-evolved east African primates who only learned to speak properly less than 200,000 years ago. But the most important things to the ‘creator’ of all this are the genitals of one species on one planet that orbits one of these stars and whether one half of said species shows its hair to the other half. Continue reading “Leap Of Faith “

In Defence Of Classical History 

Imagine a world untouched by Christianity.

I recently attended a three day history conference. Now I know that sounds like torture to a lot of people but I loved it. One of the highlights was a professor of ancient history giving a lecture comparing democracy in ancient Greece and modern Europe. In particular he drew parallels between the Brexit Referendum in 2016 and the Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War (431-404BC). Whatever your views of the referendum, it was an exercise in democracy on an very large scale. Over 33,000,000 people voted – 72% of registered voters and 65% of the voting age population. In Athens, the people’s assembly (demos) voted on all government business; it was a direct rather than a representative democracy. In 415BC, the demos voted enthusiastically in favour of a plan to conquer Sicily. The expedition was a disaster and the Athenians lost 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. Whether the Brexit vote turns into a disaster on the scale of Sicily is anyone’s guess (personally, I doubt it). The point I am trying to make is that studying Classical History helps us to understand the workings of democracy. People are people, demagogues are demagogues – although I would hesitate to compare Boris Johnson to Alcibiades because he would like it too much. Upper-class playboy with a penchant for rabble-rousing and swapping sides? Sounds familiar? Continue reading “In Defence Of Classical History “

Education In The Twenty-First Century

University is not for everyone

I saw this on Pinterest and it made me laugh.

Teaching Maths over 50 years

Teaching Maths in the 1950s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Maths in the 1970s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Maths in the 1980s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Yes or No.

Teaching Maths in the 1990s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: underline the number 20.

Teaching Maths in the 2000s: A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: “How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. Feel free to express your feelings eg, anger, anxiety, inadequacy, helplessness, etc).

Should you require debriefing at conclusion of exam there are counselors available to assist you to adjust back to the real world. Continue reading “Education In The Twenty-First Century”

Celebrity And Nepotism

Second generation of pointless freeloaders

It is hard to avoid celebrity culture in 2017. Even if one has no interest in the meaningless antics of people whose only claim to fame is fame itself, a bizarre kind of cultural osmosis happens whereby one cannot help but be aware that Kim Kardashian has bought a new handbag or Angelica Jolie has added another kid to her menagerie. The airwaves are absolutely stuffed with witless reality TV shows and the radio station where I live reports the tedious goings-on from these programmes as if it were news. I understand that producers love this kind of garbage because it is cheap – point a camera at a bunch of egomaniacs and hope they will argue, fight or have sex, or perhaps all three. The most irritating recent development is that the offspring of people who weren’t (and aren’t) interesting are now becoming celebrities in their own right. Continue reading “Celebrity And Nepotism”

Joyless, Angry, Judgemental

Freedom of speech is not in anyone’s gift

I will admit to being a fairly cynical person. Anyone who reads this blog will know I’m pretty sure that those who rule us are determined to keep their privileged positions in our society by whatever means necessary. I studied History at undergraduate level and as a postgraduate and have taught the subject for a quarter of a century. I am unpersuaded by the Whig interpretation that sees History as progress towards democracy and liberalism. I like Marxist methodology and some Marxist economics but, again, I am not persuaded that History will culminate in some classless society. Still less am I convinced by the eschatological delusions of the various Abrahamic religions. However, compared to some of the cynicism I read online, I am a wild optimist of the Professor Pangloss variety. Continue reading “Joyless, Angry, Judgemental”