Monday, 24 August 2009

The Last Straw (1)

OK ... I think I'd best explain where the hell that last post came from. Quite an impressive rant if I do say so myself but I think it needs some context. This is my story.

I'll start in December 2000. I could go back to my birth and tell you all about being born with a physically disabled hand and how that really fucked me up right throughout school (and for your information ... being deformed is NOT the fucking same as being ginger or being fat mmmk!). I could also tell you all about the dysfunctional way I was raised but that's way too personal and as bad as I was raised, my folks don't (quite) deserve that. So Yeah ... December 2000 ... the 19th ...

At 6pm my best friend (who thought he was Merlin reincarnated) comes to my door and I let him in to see that he has a rather large longsword in his hands and a maniacal look in his eye. He thinks I'm Mordred and he's there to finish me off for good. Somehow I managed to thwart the sword attack but in the ensuing battle, he breaks a whisky bottle and proceeds to plunge it into the palm of my deformed hand and attempts to gouge off it's remaining digits. At this point I realised that this guy is not the kind of friend I should be with-holding violence from so I responded with extreme prejudice and left him needing 300 stitches. It's only by pure luck (HIS luck) that MY broken bottle somehow evaded his jugular vein, which I was aiming for. I finally manage to hit him over the head and leave him lying there unconscious in a pool of blood while I ran screaming from the house terrified. I later found out that he had been taking Prozac for the last 3 weeks or so but his reasons for doing what he did is academic. He did it and I've had to live with the consequences ever since. Incidentally, for this rather brutal attempted murder he served just 7 months in prison.

So ... I think that it's safe to say that this alone gives me ample reason to be very depressed and emotionally fucked up, wouldn't you? I mean not only have I had to go through life learning how to cope with a deformed hand, this sick fuck makes the whole thing ten times worse and I'm left to try and get used to a new deformity and one that is much more severe than the one I had already learned to live with. I put the picture up of my hand to show how it looks visibly. That index finger (which used to work perfectly well as a thumb after an operation that was performed on it when I was aged 5) is now locked permanently in the position shown. I've also lost about 75% of all feeling and sensation to that side of my hand. I could spend paragraphs telling you all about the resultant nightmares, anxiety, emotional disturbance, hyper-vigilance, sheer anger, self loathing and shame at the things that I wanted to do to that bastard in revenge ... but I'll leave it there. I think you get the idea. It's left me pretty fucked up both mentally and physically.

Now this is how this fits in with the rest of my life at that time. 3 months before the attack I'd chucked in a job working as an administrator for a local small business because I was sick of working my nuts off for peanuts and endless unfulfilled promises of a wage increase. I was on minimum wage and doing about 5 different jobs for them. Accounts, sales, credit control, purchasing, desk top publishing, building a new website, controlling 4 databases of sales and clients etc etc etc. National Sales Director was one of my titles ... pffft! I always give my all to a job. I'm an all or nothing type of guy. Well one day the manager says to me "You have to do more" so I flipped him the finger, told him to fuck off and walked out. As a result the woman I was living with at the time decided that she was going to leave me (it was her first husband that attacked me by the way). I can't go on without saying that she is the only person who I can count on to help me out in times of need. When there's been no-one else, she has been there for me. The results of the attack were hard on her too so I totally understand why she had to leave me.

So anyway, I'd already decided that I would NEVER work my nuts off to make some greedy lazy cunt rich on the back of MY hard labour whilst they pay me peanuts EVER AGAIN. So 3 months after the assault, in an effort to find a place for myself in this world I started a course on Owner Management with a view to starting my own business. Unfortunately, I took this on too soon after the traumatic event and I was unable to complete it due to my precarious state of mind. The woman I was living with finally left because at the time she couldn't cope with my anger which would all come out of me when we had a drink. We used to drink lots. This did not improve my mood. I sank into total depression for 2 years and basically did nothing but play computer games and browse the internet.

In 2003 I decided that I needed to get back on the horse so I went pounding the street. I decided that I wouldn't object to working for a charity so I went in to the offices of the local "area regeneration" scheme and asked if they had anything. It turned out that they were just setting up a furniture recycling scheme and needed someone to kick it off. I got an interview and was given the job there and then. It started at 2 days a week but within several months I had built up the scheme (and my own ability to deal) so that I was doing 4 days a week. Things were looking up. The manager was really cool and she basically left me (and the 3 guys who were also eventually taken on) to ourselves and we went for it. I won't say too much about that here because it's a really good story about how worker run workplaces can function so much better than the traditional boss and hierarchy deal. I'll be covering that in a future post. Anyway, the cool manager left and in her place, nine months later the umbrella organisation took on and appointed two part time managers (yeah I know, don't get me started) who turned out to be self serving political animals with no idea ... about anything. Anyway, I managed to work fairly well with them but over time relations deteriorated. One morning (July 2005 if I recall correctly) just as I and the other guys were walking in through the door (10 minutes before we should have been starting) we were dragged into the furniture showroom and given a nasty and ranty bollocking over something really trivial. I tried to remain calm and politely pointed out the reasons for this oversight only to be given the classic response "I don't want to hear your excuses". So I wigged out and told HER to fuck off too. I complained about this mistreatment to the umbrella organisation but in a breathtaking exercise in self justification, they maintained that it was ME that was in the wrong and they basically sacked me ... for being unwilling to be spoken to like a piece of shit by someone who basically couldn't find their own arsehole with both hands. So much for working for an ethical organisation.

And now recent history. The experience with the furniture recycling scheme laid me pretty low. I'm still not over it and I don't think I ever will be. It would appear that there is nowhere that you can work where you are treated with respect and paid a fair wage for a fair days labour. I've lost all hope in finding a place in this society and I've felt that way for several years. So not only do I have the ongoing depression which I still suffer from the assault (along with the permanent disability which it gave me), I also have to suffer the depression of knowing that I live in a society where I can't find a place to exist with any kind of dignity or honour. I've been on various forms of Incapacity Benefit for the last several years due to my anxiety, stress and depression and my experience within THAT system has made things infinitely worse.

I've gone on here longer than I expected to so I'll leave the whole sad and sorry story about how I've been treated by the DSS and benefit system for the next entry. If you're at all interested in knowing about what happened next I'll (try to) post part two in a few days time ...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Game Over Man ...

In the immortal words of Hudson in the film "Aliens", "That's it! Game over man! Game over!".

I'd just like to inform everyone that I'm officially resigning. From everything. Period.

Why? I'll tell you why! I'm sick to death of trying to convince sheep that the world is run by greedy people who don't give a blue shit about them and only care about money and big business. I'm sick to death of pointing out that governments are insane and immoral and trying to debate people about it. I'm sick of the whole fucking deal. So, as of now, if you think that governments are good, essential or inevitable then just get the fuck away from me. If you like this shit so much then fuck off and wallow in it. Seriously, I have ZERO time for you fucking brain dead arseholes now. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

As for me I've also had it with trying to find an honourable compromise with this system. I now know for a hard fact that it can't be done. So fuck the system too. Here's the news, first chance I get I'm off to join a commune of hippies in the forest. That's right folks, I'm getting the fuck out of here before you arseholes drag me down the shitter with you. You can all carry on taking it up the arse if you like but don't expect me to stand and watch and don't expect me to fight for your freedom anymore.

Fuck you.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Modern Day Newspeak

If George Orwell could hear some of the things that get said today in laughable and pathetic sayings that are supposed to pass as logic then he'd surely be spinning like a top right about now.

In "1984" (a book that all modern western governments seem determined to look upon as an instruction manual rather than as a warning) you may recall that he introduces the concept of "newspeak", a dialectic system of indoctrination used to control and brainwash a population so dumbed down that they would believe such bass-ackwards epithets as "war is peace" or "freedom is slavery" or the wonderful "ignorance is strength". The man was truly a political prophet.

There are three such sayings that are used with alarming regularity in our oh-so-sophisticated society and every time I hear one of them it makes me so fucking angry that it makes my teeth ache! As a (probably far too) vocal evangelical anarchist I hear them all. A lot.

The first one goes like this:

"If you didn't vote then you have no right to complain."

Eh? I feel like spitting bricks just writing that diatribe down. In the tradition of all newspeak this can clearly be shown to be the polar opposite of what any rational person might call logical. Anybody that has two functioning brain cells and a spare five minutes should be able to deconstruct the above nonsense with relative ease. Trust me on this, if any of you ever meet me and try to use this argument then I will tell you in no uncertain terms that you are a dolt. If you voted (particularly if you voted for the winning horse) then in all truth YOU put the offending party in power and thus it is YOU that has no right to complain! QED.

- o - o - o -

Another one that gets bandied about with regard to voting is the following gem;

"It's your duty to vote because people have died to secure your right to do so."

Pure unadulterated bullshit! People died for my freedom and that freedom should allow me to either choose to vote or not, as I see fit. If you're guilty of using this basically fascist argument then in the name of all that's rational ... please stop it! It's rather embarrassing. For you.

- o - o - o -

This third one is quite the jewel in the crown of truth perversion;

"If you don't have a solution then you have no right to be talking about the problem."

As an anarchist I get this one thrown at me all the time and damn it's frustrating (for one because I believe that I bloody well DO have some answers and yet hardly anyone has the bollocks to accept them). People who glibly trot out this sort of verbal garbage can surely only be described as intellectually weak cowards. Should we stop talking about cancer just because we haven't got a cure? Do these people not realise that the only way to provide a solution to any given problem is to first identify said problem as accurately and as comprehensively as possible? Do they not understand that this process can not take place by "shutting up about it" and that in fact it usually requires quite a lot of in-depth discussion and debate? Grrrr ... I'm starting to foam at the mouth now I'm so enraged. >o/

- o - o - o -

So as you can see, I can gloomily report that Orwellian "newspeak" is alive and well thank you very much and residing happily in the numbed minds of the intellectually stunted. I hope that I have convinced at least you, dear reader, to never be tempted to use them in the future. And if you do, you should know that you should NEVER use them in front of me!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Shape of Things to Come

As hinted at in my last entry, here at last is an ever growing list of some of the things I intend to cover in future posts. There will, of course, also be random stuff that just comes to mind but at some point I will be tackling all of the topics below. I'll mark them with an X as I cover them.

  • Science v Spirituality. An ongoing series in which I have a few more things to add.
  • Democracy? Inspired by a series of videos on YouTube by Buddhagem I'd like to give my perspective on what true democracy entails.
  • Rights. Is there such a thing as "rights" without the state?
  • State benefits and taxation.
  • X If you don't have a solution then stop talking about the problem. Is that reasonable?
  • New World Order conspiracy theories. A harmful distraction.
  • A critique of the "Freeman on the Land" movement.
  • Human nature or human behaviour?
  • Do anarchists "educate" effectively?
  • Mental health and the benefit system.
  • A personal story of anarchy in action.
  • Does anarchism equate to utopian idealism?

Nothing too serious then ... mwahahaha!

I've no idea in what order I'm going to attempt to cover these subjects but I will get round to them all eventually [/plan A]. If anybody reading this blog has any points to make on any of the above topics, or if you'd like me to cover something else not on the list, then please feel free to have a say by using the comments feature.


Friday, 24 July 2009

Science v Spirituality (3)

This blog entry was going to be just a glance at some of the upcoming topics on my ever growing list of "Things on Which I Would Very Much Like to Opine". That'll have to wait though. I will endeavour to explain ...

I'm a long time fan of Carpool, a weekly web based chat show hosted by TV personality, self confessed wet liberal and jolly nice chap, Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge). The show has a simple and yet engaging concept in which Robert just gives someone interesting a lift and chats with them on camera. Guests in the passenger seat have included; Ruby Wax, Stephen Fry, Arthur Smith, Michael Eavis, Charlie McDonnell, and each of the Red Dwarf cast; Craig Charles, Danny John Jules and Chris Barrie. You can catch up with any and all of the previous 'casts on Bobby Llewellyn's Carpool website. Anyway, what I mean to say is that it's funny and interesting so that's why I watch it. =P

Now, like myself, Robert dabbles with Twitter and on occasion he "tweets" about his upcoming guests and asks if anyone has a question they'd like him to ask them. A few weeks ago he announced that the CERN scientist and media figure Dr Brian Cox would be on an upcoming show. Thinking that my question might well be overlooked, I nonetheless cast my bread upon the waters. Through Twitter I asked Robert if he would ask Brian the following questions;

"... given that everything (inc time?) was "one" at the moment of the big bang, is there a case for pantheism?"

also, what is Brian Cox' view on the "Unified Field Theory" in relation to Pantheism? ... and can the answer be entertaining hehe."

Obviously that last question wasn't meant be taken entirely seriously. Anyhow, when I watched the released episode last Friday, to my utter surprise (and probably my eternal embarrassment) Dr Cox did in fact read out my first question on the show. Yikes, I thought, as my spoonful of cornflakes froze on it's journey to my still open mouth. Oh the anticipation! The only answer I got though was a look of scornful bemusement on Brian's face (see inset) and a lot of hearty chuckling from Bobby. Now I'm not fragile, I can take the piss out of myself as much as the next guy and I laughed heartily too. I have to say though that in the light of the weird scientific observations that have been made about our universe I feel that my question deserved just a tad more consideration than the implied "Oh dear, nutter alert!"

For instance, Einstein's work indicates that time may be nothing more than "a persistent illusion" (Einstein himself expressed some level of belief in "Spinoza's God", a "God" consisting of the oneness of everything). Furthermore the effects of "quantum entanglement" appear to defy the universal speed limit and our understanding of space and time. Renowned physicist Richard Feynman speculated upon the possibility that our universe may consist of merely one single electron whizzing back and forth through "timelessness". Everett's "many worlds" interpretation suggests at least one extra spatial dimension containing "many" 3 dimensional bubble island universes moving through it. And then there's the retroactive actions of electrons which can be seen in a particular version of the double slit experiment (from Rob Bryanton's blog "Imagining the 10th Dimension"). Oh, you get the idea ... lots and lots of weird stuff has been observed about "time".

Now admittedly I've only got a layman's understanding about these matters. I'm also aware that for the most part the theories I've outlined above are still subject to vigorous debate amongst physicists and yet it seems to me that on the basis of our present understanding it's quite possible that everything that ever was, is or will exist in our universe may be, in actuality, just "one" thing when looked at from the perspective of timelessness. And if we go on to consider that this theoretical "oneness" must then, by logical deduction, include my consciousness (all of it, from my awakening to my death), your consciousness, the consciousness of every person, every living thing that ever has or will walk the Earth, every living thing in the galaxy ... in the whole universe ... ever, then it begs some seriously radical questions and raises some fascinating possibilities.

But it was that word "pantheism" wasn't it? A word bursting with memes and preconceptions about "gods" and creators, praying and religion. It conjures up images of some judgemental entity which is aware of us and with whom we can interact. I guess it was my own fault for using it but when Brian asked me on Twitter to choose a new word I just couldn't come up with one. I still can't. I mean come on, in many ways "theonenessofeverything" sounds even worse than "pantheism"... and nowhere near as snappy.

You see this is part of what I've been trying to get at when I say that I believe Dawkins does significant harm with his
overly strident defence of science. It's very much cool and de rigeur nowadays to mercilessly "pwn" the religious with science and this reinforces an "us and them" and "ne'er the twain shall meet" attitude by insulting, alienating, misunderstanding and unfairly representing theists and, by association, metaphysical thinkers. I believe that this unnecessary chasm of hostility also produces a climate in which any metaphysical speculation is frowned upon and ridiculed too, thus stifling any serious enquiry which might otherwise get undertaken. Apparently, men of science have always shunned anything to do with metaphysics and I think I understand some of the reasons why. Nevertheless, I believe that science would benefit greatly if it could collectively, objectively and neutrally embrace and examine the "metaphysicality" that seems so clearly indicated in our reality. Einstein might have sensed something of this when he said,

"Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind."

I can't end this blog entry without giving Dr Brian his due respects. After being directed by him via Twitter to his site which hosts quite a number of excellent podcasts about the Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss/French border, I found one in there entitled "Science and Religion" (as opposed to my little series here on science vs spirituality ... see the difference?). In it Brian reveals that he is very much aware of the metaphysical debate and admits a certain sense of wonder at what it all may mean. But I think I can say with considerable certainty that Brian Cox does NOT like the word "pantheism". =P

Twitter links: @bobbyllew, @ProfBrianCox, @CaptainFrantic

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Sidebar Links (4)

For a number of reasons I'm going to take a short break from the whole "Science vs Spirituality" issue. I've just re-loaned "The God Delusion" from the library as it obviously forms a central part in what I'm trying to get across. I intend reading it again so that I have a more fresh and imminent perspective which should allow me to be more poignant in my argument. Also, I've recently (and with reasonable justification) had my own objectivity on this matter impugned whilst I was engaging in some Dawkins bashing on Derren Brown's blog over at "All Your Minds Are Belong To Us". If anyone wants to see me having my arse partially handed to me by "flapjack" then you can click through and see it here. Rest assured that I haven't finished with this blog topic yet, not by a long way.

So, back to the point. I've finally added a positive link in the sidebar over there at last. Whoo! It's not exactly a world saving one necessarily but hey ... who knows? =D

Before singing the praises of this weekly web-radio show, let me just say a little more about why I'm so cautious about committing to singular causes or organisations. It's my experience that as soon as you commit to any one thing (be it an ideology or an organisation) then you generally have to accept everything that comes along with it. I rarely find that I can agree 100% with anything to be honest and this can be problematical ... especially in the world of idealistic revolutionary types. There are always fundamentalists (embarrassingly so in regards to anarchists and politicos unfortunately) who will have nothing to do with you unless you accept hook, line and sinker every single fucking dogma which they will insist on ramming down your throat. In worse case scenarios they will actively attack and ostracise you if you disagree with them, garnering support for themselves from other like-minded fundie asshats. I don't deal with that kind of shit. I don't deal with that very well at all. So to a large extent this is why there is such a famine of links over there. I'm working on that though.

So anyway, The Authority Smashing Hour IS something I can get involved with because basically it's run by some really nice guys. This doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with everything on the show but I can say with clarity that I at least rarely disagree to any great extent with the views put forward. Another great thing about the show is that it is participatory, partially through the live chat room where listeners can comment while the show is on air and also through the comments section after each show (which is archived week by week) where you can offer feedback and even suggestions for future shows and discussions. It's exactly this form of free association which I can most heartily endorse.

As I said, this is made possible only by the inclusive attitudes of the guys who've organised and run the show. If I may refer to them by their YouTube names (click 'em to go to their channels) we have Buddhagem, Chomskyan and Mr1001Nights. Sterling chaps all three of them. If only they weren't so far away across the big pond. I'd love to spend a night getting shit-faced with them over a bottle of Jack Daniels. Or even better, Cuervo Gold Tequila.

I must give fair warning that it's not a show for the politically faint of heart. For one thing, us anarchists tend to almost have our own language. Some of the ideas are also very complex and it can be hard to follow for the uninitiated. But if you have any interest at all in the principals of anarchy, freedom and voluntarism then I'd encourage you to come along and listen with us. Join in with the chat room and have your say or ask any questions you might have. Bring your own Tequila though.

The show goes out over the interwebs every Tuesday night at 11pm BST (or 6pm EST if you live in America). Smash some authority next Tuesday.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Science v Spirituality (2)

Of all Richard Dawkins' many and numerous straw-man arguments, his finest surely has to be his "purple teapot circling Uranus" routine. For those unfamiliar with it, it goes something like this ...

"Agnostics are merely closet atheists. Why, you might just as well be agnostic about the existence of a large purple teapot orbiting Uranus. Lots of love. Dicky Dawkins."

Now, I'm agnostic about the existence of "dark matter", I'm agnostic about the existence of free will, I'm agnostic about human-induced global warming and I'm also agnostic about the existence of the Higgs Boson. I'm also (for the record) agnostic about fairies, unicorns, leprechauns, trolls and purple teapots whizzing around Uranus.

So. Fucking. What?

A literal translation of the word "agnostic" might be expressed as "no knowledge" or "without knowledge". This is integral and central to pure agnosticism, or at least to my understanding and application of it. It's merely a recognition of the fact that, at present, there may well be no meaningful and conclusive knowledge or evidences available to us with which to prove or disprove some things. We might obtain such knowledge tomorrow, or the knowledge may even already exist but hasn't been recognised or applied correctly yet. But unless and until you can show me some hard evidences then I'm afraid that all of your so-called "proofs" are in point of fact merely opinions and "beliefs" ... and I'll remain agnostic thank-you very much. So, I'm agnostic about the existence of a higher being and I'm also agnostic about the existence of extra-terrestrial teapots. Big deal!

Another thing about purple teapots. I really don't give a damn if there is one mindlessly circling Uranus. So what? It's of practically no benefit to me to know if there's one there or not. Does it contain loose tea, or teabags? Does it even have any tea in it at all? How big might it be? Do I give a shit? No. I don't. Much the same goes for fairies, trolls, unicorns and Santa Claus. However, I am most profoundly interested in the possible existence of "God", whatever it may (or may not) be. Does it exist? Is it aware of us? Does it have some purpose, some aim? Do I give a shit? Yes, actually I do. So, we can see that it's quite reasonable and possible to be agnostic about stupid things like purple teapots or ghosts and at the same time be agnostic about important things like the nature of free will or the possible existence of some higher being. The difference lies in whether you actually give a shit about getting an answer or not.

And for another thing ... I have absolutely NO reason to believe that there's a flying teapot out there doing it's thing. I can, however, think of quite a few perfectly reasonable things that may lead me to ask if there's a God or not. Whether there fucking is one or not is irrelevant! I think I'll leave that little argument right there as it plainly speaks for itself.

So ... I repeat, I don't care whether it's about the tooth fairy, the Higgs boson or the Almighty himself. If you have no hard evidence to back up a claim then it's deceitful, closed minded and ultimately downright dangerous to claim that science can provide an unequivocal "answer". Here's a quote from a scientist who I consider to be infinitely more worthy of the respect that Dawkins could only dream of demanding:

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
Arthur C Clarke.

I hope I've gone some way here to exposing just one of Dicky's straw-man-isms for what it actually is. Questionable. Hollow. Full of piss and wind. Churlishly subjective ...

... and very, very unscientific.


EDIT - 18.06.09 - It has been pointed out to me that the Teapot quote should actually be attributed to Bertrand Russell. Fair enough. However, it's still true to say that Dicky uses and endorses this spurious argument (at least when looked at scientifically) extensively in his "book" so it makes little to no real difference to the point I'm making.

This bits going to sting. It has also been pointed out to me that in my zeal to reveal Dicky's strawman argumentation, I may have committed the very same crime myself. Although I do point out that Dicky rates himself as a 6 (later he said in an interview 6.9) on Dicky Dawkins' Scale of Atheism, I may have not been very fair or specific (I was right, that stings like fuck). My point remains however that the teapot analogy only stands up within the context of belief systems. It is NOT a scientific refutation of the possible existence of a higher being in any way shape or form (stinging a bit less now =P). I consider my moral obligation to fairness and honesty now discharged. *still smarting just a bit*