Category: "Politics"

Religious fundamentalists and anti-homosexuality nonsense

So the religious lunatics are at it again. The rise of fundamentalism in the United States is a real problem and needs to be stamped out.

This time Reverend Ken Hutcherson and his (to quote the Telegraph) "evangelical megachurch has vowed to take over Microsoft by packing it with new shareholders who will vote against the company's policy of championing gay rights."

Microsoft is fairly well known in the United States for supporting a solid policy of employee diversity. There's a group within Microsoft called the Gay and Lesbian Employees At Microsoft (GLEAM). A lot of technology companies are typically quite liberal (well apart from Apple and Adobe, who unlike most others give more money to the Republican Party) when it comes to matters such as this, and I'm surprised haven't yet been the target of more religious nonsense.

This guy is asking millions of evangelical Christians, Jews and the like to buy up Microsoft stock so they can vote against these policies within the company.

Here's a few of the things this guy has had to say:

"I consider myself a warrior for Christ. Microsoft don't scare me. I got God with me."

"I told them that you need to work with me or we will put a firestorm on you like you have never seen in you life because I am your worst nightmare. I am a black man with a righteous cause with a whole host of powerful white people behind me."

"Microsoft stepped out of their four walls into my world so that gives me the right to step out of my world into their world."

"They tried to turn their policy into state policy, making their policy something I had to submit to. And my playbook tells me you don't submit to sin."

Now I know most people in the UK would dismiss the guy as a nutcase, and rightfully so, but increasingly in the United States these people are becoming ever more powerful and they influence millions of people.

Never in the UK have I met somebody who told me that being gay is a life choice, yet on my forums, the majority of members of which are American it is a frequent area of argument. Of course there is zero evidence to support these claims, but when you're dealing with people who place faith above hard scientific facts nine times out of ten you're wasting your time discussing it. If their pastor or priest has told them it is a life choice and a sin, it is probably too late. That method of thought - or lack of thought must be stopped.

This is why faith must be attacked by reason, the scientific method is the most powerful invention we have ever made and we should use it to investigate everything. Religion has been getting a free ride for far too long, and people in the United States must openly challenge it and reverse the damage that has already been done. A secular country where God is mentioned in the pledge of allegiance and mentioned in the country's motto has something seriously wrong with it.

In the UK too fundamentalism is on the rise, creationism is being actively taught in some schools, children can be divided up into faith based schools, some Jewish communities and of course Northern Ireland spring to mind which creates segregation which can well follow them throughout their lives.

Imagine a world without religion

It is time people make a stand against religion, although the majority of religious people are perfectly decent, by their support of putting faith above reason they allow generations of people to be indoctrinated into something that simply has no basis in the real world.

All too often we see fundamentalists causing the spread of HIV by telling people that condoms are evil, we see deadly diseases break out because parents refuse to vaccinate their children, this has cropped up many times throughout Africa killing thousands of people, all because some church said the vaccines gave people aids. Then we have people blowing themselves up because they have been indoctrinated into believing there is an afterlife.

It needs to be stamped out, I believe religion should be a strictly private matter, the intervention of religious ideology in society should be stopped, it is dangerous and regressive. Things look far too similar to the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire, where science was suppressed the Great Library burned and civilisation in Europe collapsed into a thousand years of religious darkness. Never again.

Time for the EU to break iPod/iPhone and iTunes apart

Although Apple is already under investigation within the European Union for a number of different issues, I don't think things are moving fast enough in this area.

iTunes is forced upon iPod and iPhone users, often this takes place without the user knowing at the time of purchase they need to install this other program. I suppose what bugs me the most is how poorly written iTunes is, it has got a wide reputation for being one of the worst media players on Windows, probably not as bad as Real Player, but nevertheless something most people, if they had the choice would rather not install.

It's not just a question of bundling iTunes either, iTunes is itself bundled with QuickTime (also known for its poor quality), which gets installed as well. This creates a bad user experience, they install one thing and get something else installed too, and it isn't like the thing runs only when you decide to run it, it is always running on your system, unless you have the knowledge to go and stop it.

The EU needs to act on the iPod issue, as it has the majority share of the market, I'd like to see the iPhone addressed too, but I'm not expecting that to be successful in Europe (people here expect their phone to be able to record video and send picture messages) so I don't think that should be the priority at the moment.

People were quick enough to get Microsoft in court over just an issue of bundling, with Windows you were never forced to use the applications that were also included, you could always install and use your own. That isn't the case with the iPod and iPhone, you not only have to install iTunes, you have to use it to connect with the iPod and iPhones.

Therefore I'd like to see the EU require Apple to unbundle iTunes from iPod (and iPhone), and allow the devices to be controlled by other applications such as Winamp and Windows Media Player.

I'd also like to see the EU either force Apple to remove all Digital Rights Management from songs purchased on iTunes, or require Apple to do this on request. Apple using DRM in this fashion can only be described as locking people into Apple and not letting them leave unless they want to abandon their music collection.

This is a good video (originally posted by Valleywag, hat tip to Long too) showing how Apple deals with these sort of issues with the press, when the journalist mentioned the word monopoly the Apple PR machine spun up a notch, clearly this is something they're concerned about, and they have good reason to be.

Transport Committee should understand the importance of Galileo

From the BBC: The UK "must do everything in its power" to stop the EU's Galileo sat-nav system going ahead until concerns over funding have been resolved, say MPs.

They say it isn't a good idea, because EU taxpayers would have to contribute towards filling any shortfalls towards the system.

I say the taxpayers should exclusively pay for it, and any private companies should be locked out of running it and its development. The system should remain in public hands and under public control.

The Transport Committee seem more interested in getting the project scrapped instead of actually determining if it is worth-while. There are two key reasons why it should go ahead.

1) Technically speaking it is superior to the US GPS system and as such is much higher resolution, providing much more accurate positioning, and not only for military uses, but for everybody.

2) Politically it gives us control over our own positioning system. GPS was developed for military purposes by the United States, and as such they can disable civilian use whenever they decide too. The construction and launching of the project provides not just jobs, but a boost to science and technology within the EU, areas where we will begin to fall behind in compared to India and China.

The costs involved, in the grand scheme of things are minor, in total about 10% of what the UK government wants to waste on a new batch of nuclear weapons. At the moment it is a joint development between the private and public sectors, this is European-wide project and so the costs are spread thinly between individual member states. Although as I said above, I believe it should be funded entirely from public money, after all positioning systems are becoming more popular, and the general public shouldn't have to wake up one and find their devices dead because the US decides to stop civilian use, or private companies have decided they want to charge people everytime they want to use one. We need our own system, under public control.

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, chairwoman of the committee tries to make some opportunist non-sequitur about it.

What taxpayers in the United Kingdom and other European countries really need and want is better railways and roads, not giant signature projects in the sky.

I'd like to know why we can't have both though Gwyneth? There's no reason what-so-ever why we have to choose between one or the other. Your attempts at slipping arguments that don't follow past me won't work.

You are however dead right we do want better railways and roads. However, the railways for example are privatised, why should public money go into propping them up? If they're failing they should be nationalised, taxpayers should not be keeping private companies in business, they should be nationalising them.

The costs of Galileo are easily outweighed by the benefits, and the system should go ahead regardless of any potential budget shortfalls.

I'd also like to see the system brought entirely under public control and the private sector booted off the project. History has shown that joint private-public ventures are increasingly an unfair deal in favour of profit.

More information on Galileo can be founded on the European Space Agency and European Commission websites.

Why socialism?

From an essay written by Albert Einstein in 1949:

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Read the complete essay online here.

Right that's it, nationalise the railways

Hat tip to the People's Commissar.

"Combining poetic beauty and Sovietesque pride in industry."

You said it Commissar. Nationalise the railways, although I didn't know we were up to reason #352 yet, I must of missed that memo. &#59;)

Cameron moving to destroy the country

The Tories self-centred interests are coming into play now, with Cameron moving one step closer to destroying the Union.

David Cameron is to throw his weight behind the most radical shake-up of Parliament in more than a century by endorsing a plan to strip Scottish MPs of the right to vote on English matters at Westminster.

Great just great, turn the UK parliament into an increasingly English affair, which will weaken the Union until it is no more.

No doubt some Tories want to end the Union, as they'll have a better chance of getting elected; nowadays their power base is almost built entirely on English votes, all the Welsh and Scottish votes, typically further left help push them aside.

Unfortunately it was Labour that got us into this sticky situation, and in my opinion the only way to safeguard the Union - which is progressive for everybody, irrespective of class, is to dissolve the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, this I believe long term is best for all involved. In doing this we need a way to preserve the gains that the working class has won in Wales and Scotland, such as free prescriptions and no university fees, and then to get the assistance from Welsh and Scottish MPs to get this through Westminster so it will benefit everybody in the Union.

At the moment this seems completely unrealistic, and the best I think we can hope for is to not drift any further down the road towards separation, Westminster must remain a parliament for the entire Union, and it cannot be transformed into one for England alone.

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