Thursday, May 25, 2006

lies, damn lies and complete idiots

My brother pointed out crime 'hotspot' study angers city on bbc news:

Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council, demanded the study be withdrawn until its authors "get their facts right" and "before it does any further damage to Nottingham, its businesses, its universities and its reputation".

"There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Once again, people are bandying around statistics without fully understanding them and the implications of getting them wrong," he said.

"How can we possibly be the most dangerous city in the country when, for example, there are 10 times as many murders in London, according to this report, than in Nottingham?"

hmmm, without fully understanding them eh? it's called per capita you dolt! who put you in charge?

Monday, May 22, 2006


brilliant interview on c4 news tonight with the head of mcdonalds in the uk. he managed to get his lengthy prepared spiel out in answer to a question about how mcdonalds is changing - apparently they're striving for greater transparency and to dispel the myths that have appeared about their food and business - but when pressed further about exactly which myths he wanted to dispel he just repeated the same blurb, twice!

bloody brilliant, were it not for the fact that the interviewer was heard to ask a continuation of the question (i.e. there was change and dialogue) i would have sworn it was on a tape loop... same expression, same tone, exact same wording. what a guy, i would say he'll go far but it seems he already has.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

it's all been said before

"Hasn't he got any patriotism?"

"Won't you fight for your country?" Colonel Korn demanded, emulating Colonel Cathcart's harsh, self-righteous tone. "Won't you give up your life for Colonel Cathcart and me?"

Yossarian tensed with alert astonishment when he heard Colonel Korn's concluding words. "What's that?" he exclaimed. "What have you and Colonel Cathcart got to do with my country? You're not the same."

"How can you separate us?" Colonel Korn inquired with ironical tranquility.

"That's right," Colonel Cathcart cried emphatically. "You're either with us or against us. There's no two ways about it."

"I'm afraid he's got you," added Colonel Korn. "You're either for us or against your country. It's as simple as that."

"Oh, no, Colonel. I don't buy that."

Colonel Korn was unruffled. "Neither do I, frankly, but everyone else will. So there you are."

- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller


very excited! just uploaded the website i've been working on recently: sideprojects. it features a bunch of my brother's music, brilliant!

check it out!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

da vinci crap

'earthshattering... strikes at the foundations of the catholic church... a secret so shocking that it could completely change the world...'

balls to that, haven't you heard?

there is no god.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the trouble with you

"The trouble with you is that you think you're too good for all the conventions of society.[...] You're immature. You've been unable to adjust to the idea of war."

"Yes, sir."

"You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you're at war and might get your head blown off any second."

"I more than resent it, sir. I'm absolutely incensed."

"You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconciously there are many people you hate."

"Conciously, sir, conciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. "I hate them conciously."

"You're antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or decieved. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you're a manic depressive!"

"Yes, sir. Perhaps I am."

"Don't try to deny it."

"I'm not denying it, sir," said Yossarian, pleased with the miraculous rapport that finally existed between them. "I agree with all you've said."

"Then you admit you're crazy, do you?"

"Crazy?" Yossarian was shocked. "What are you talking about? Why am I crazy? You're the one who's crazy!"

- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Sunday, May 14, 2006

right to live, right to die

"As a caring society we cannot sit back and complacently accept that terminally ill patients suffering unbearably should just continue to suffer for the good of society as a whole."
- Lord Joffe

Why is my life not one of my rights? That’s the question that no one seems to want to answer on this issue. We have a right to life, yet we don’t seem to have any right to choose to end that life if we wish. This doesn’t make any sense to me, how does a government have a say over this thing most precious and most unique to you? Yet historically governments have felt that they do have a right to tell you to sacrifice your life in war, or to take your life through the death penalty. A soldiers’ death, an ‘honourable’ death, a brave death; yet assisted suicide seems to be viewed as cowardly, unnatural, morally wrong.

Of course the God card comes out. Religious members of the House of Lords, a phalanx of bishops in particular, have argued with religious fervour against Lord Joffe’s Assisted Suicide bill and could be seen as the key force in its blocking on Friday. But their arguments are so flaccid as to be completely untenable. Rowan Williams said:

"Whether or not you believe that God enters into the consideration, it remains true that to specify even in the fairly broad terms of this bill conditions under which it would be both reasonable and legal to end your life, is to say that certain kinds of life are not worth living."

And who is he to decide if your life is worth living? He conflates the idea of personal choice with the idea of judgement and generalisation. The point is to be able to make your own decision, not have an enforced edict be it religious or secular. And it must always be a judgement call dependent on the exact situation, there is such a range of severity and so many symptoms in the category of ‘terminal illnesses’ that it must, can only be, decided by the patient.

The Bishop of London came out with "we are not autonomous beings", nicely summing up the more general line of religious argument which appeals to God as the giver and taker of life. In this context the oft-used phrase of ‘a natural death’ seems to be the wording of choice, but is actually a complete non-sequitur as it wilfully ignores the corollary of ‘a natural life’. Following this logic it seems to me that to be kept alive by doctors, operations, drugs and modern medicine is not a ‘natural life’, it is against their god’s will. So what, exactly, is natural about a death that comes slowly thanks to the prolonging of life via medicine? Are they too against modern medicine because it is not a ‘natural’ expression of god’s will? This is never mentioned, there is no argument forthcoming for the abolition of medicine, but why is a death after weeks of medication and coma, followed by the removal of feeding tubes and the withering and shutting down of the body ‘dignified’ and ‘natural’?

Or perhaps, as I might see it, nothing is inherently unnatural because we create it from elements of ourselves and our world. Is a computer unnatural? It is made from materials that surround us, uses science that governs the universe; how can anything that exists be unnatural? So medicine, the prolonging of life, as a human creation is not, cannot be, unnatural; neither then is death or suicide unnatural. Whichever line of convoluted, philosophic argument may be followed here there is an even simpler answer to the god card: I don’t believe in your god so why should I be governed by your interpretations of your god’s will? I wouldn’t expect a secular doctor to force assisted suicide on a religious patient who viewed it as wrong or sinful, neither should I expect a religious doctor to deny treatment that he regarded as sinful to a secular patient if it were requested. No matter how many times statistics are bandied about – as by the bishop who appeared on newsnight last week and answered the question of ‘why should religious leaders be allowed to have such a big say when they represent minority interests’ with ‘75% of Britons say they’re Christians’ – it still comes back to personal choice and the question of why anyone should be able to hold sway over the most personal of choices because of their faith, not your own. Anyway, to play the stats game some more, it’s worth noting that other surveys have reported 75% of people are in favour of such a bill, presumably many of these must be Christian.

Another issue here, as so often, seems to be fear and power. Religious leaders are worried that a wider debate in the Commons or by the public might lead to another blow to their power and the centuries old legacy of a church which ruled the populace by diktat and fear but now finds itself being overtaken by logic and reason and democratic debate. They espouse the view that the bill will lead to a slippery-slope of euthanasia parties, of people being put to death left, right and centre because they have a disability or a cold or can’t be bothered to go to work on a Monday, of a complete loss of the sanctity of life. This is a rather blinkered and scaremongering view, the extension of the belief that people are inherently sinners and it is only by the fear of god and divine punishment that they behave as good and decent citizens. Rubbish! Morality and ethics do not require an appeal to the supernatural. This is not to say that everyone feels the keen need to be a good person, many clearly don’t, but this has always been the case in both older, religious ages and more secular modern times.

The same ‘slippery-slope’ view of the bill has been put forward by some disabled rights groups. I can see here a slightly more legitimate fear that situations arise when disabled people may be euthanized simply because they are disabled; the argument that a loss in the sanctity of life ushers in not just mercy killings but convenience killings. But again this seems to take an unnecessarily black view of the world. No one for the slightest moment has suggested that a ‘right to die’ law means that someone with a disability will be recommended death as a cure-all. No one is saying that lots of lives aren’t worth living, simply that you should be able to make that call for yourself. Really there is no disabled rights issue here at all, simply a human rights issue that applies to everyone equally.

I have no doubt there are many other groups and issues that I’ve not touched on here, but logically and philosophically the case for the bill seems so clear-cut as to not warrant any debate apart from what legal measures should be in place to ensure that no abuses of a ‘right to die’ occur. I’ve seen death close-up, watched cancer consume my mum, watched her body slowly turn to a skeletal husk while she had no external signs of consciousness and hopefully nothing internal either. Morphine was administered, that’s allowed. Feeding tubes were removed, that’s allowed too. But a week of rasping, wheezing breath as her body died from starvation and morphine was not peaceful. A letter in today’s observer opined:

"I have watched two of my closest family members die slowly of cancer. It was a horrific process, but I would dispute that they did not die with dignity. Is being given a lethal injection dying with any more dignity?

I would be interested to know if any hospice nurse or doctor would dispute the dignity of those dying in their care. I am opposed to the Assisted Dying bill; it would lessen the dignity of our overall humanity."

I don’t understand exactly what this notion of dignity is supposed to mean, but I certainly know that I didn’t witness it. I saw pain and death, drawn out over long, long weeks. If dignity is a stiff-upper-lip, endurance through suffering, then it doesn’t sound like a good thing in this context where the end is certain. If dignity is self-respect and the ability to make your own decisions about your life, then this isn’t it. If we’ve anything in our power to stop this kind of suffering and pain then we should, that’s our obligation to ‘our overall humanity’.

- Polly Toynbee & comments (12/05/06)
- Observer letters (14/05/06)
- Care not Killing (umbrella organisation against the bill)
- RADAR (disability rights)
- Right to die Q&A and report on Friday’s reading of the bill
- Death with dignity
- The world federation of right to die societies

Friday, May 12, 2006

when the sun comes out

where do people go? the tram has been a bit quiet the last couple of days, but i boarded the bus this morning to find i was the only person on it. it's usually fairly full, sometimes with no seats at all. all very twilight zone, they could be taking me anywhere... the feeling enhanced by the driver asking 'what pissing time is this meant to go?'. or one of those dreams where you go to work on sunday by mistake. odd, off-kilter, kind of fun.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

just perfect

"A cyclist who travelled 335,500 miles on the same bike had it stolen within hours of arriving in the UK.

Heinz Stucke had reached Portsmouth, Hampshire, on his continuous voyage - which began in 1962 - when his bicycle was stolen as he slept in his tent."

the guardian

Monday, May 08, 2006

lsd #6

well it has been almost a year since #5, but the impulse seized me last week and a new issue is born. yay.

find it at longshore drift .

Saturday, May 06, 2006

more vintage

Originally uploaded by monkeyinfez.

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