Category: "Politics"

Bronze age and Roman-era mythology in parliament

We desperately need the separation of church and state in this country. As I previously wrote about in January those indoctrinated into a religious ideology are up to their usual tricks trying to shoot down, or water down the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

I don't have time to go into all the details here, so I refer you to my previous post on the issue.

We've got Des Browne, Ruth Kelly, and Paul Murphy all Roman Catholics blabbering on about saving embryos (read babies), I suppose secretly they all want to ban abortion as well, persecute homo-sexuals and stone to death anybody who tempts them to another god, or anybody who works on a Sunday (it's all in the good book).

This is an absolute disgrace all three should resign. We've got people dying from diseases which we can, and will cure if the chains placed upon science are lifted. Yet they're more worried about a genocidal, blood thirsty and sadomasochistic cook book of stories put together over a thousand years. What's really barking mad is they seem to believe this cook book is the inspired word of god, if that's true god is a really unpleasant character.

When exactly was the Enlightenment again?

Well I'm waiting for the Church of Scientology to get involved in parliament, maybe demand equal rights for the souls of their dead alien friends who got trapped on Earth during the interstellar war thing with Xenu and co. Gotta respect those sacred religious texts right?

Parliament should be a place of rationality, reason and evidence. Not a place where ancient mythology can influence. Hopefully Gordon Brown sticks to his guns and gets this bill through - heck maybe he could demolish all of Tony's creationism schools while he's at it. Sorry Tony Blair but you can keep your Noah's Flood in your Bible and out of my science books.

The Daily Mail as reactionary and hate-filled as ever

So for those that don't know how right-wing and reactionary the Daily Mail is check this e-mail that one of their writers sent out.

From: []
Sent: 13 February 2008 15:57
To: (hidden)
Subject: Response Source - Diana Appleyard , Daily Mail (Request for personal case study)

PUBLICATION: Daily Mail (Request for personal case study)

JOURNALIST: Diana Appleyard (staff)

DEADLINE: 14-February-2008 16:00

QUERY: I am urgently looking for anonymous horror stories of people who have employed Eastern European staff, only for them to steal from them, disappear, or have lied about their resident status. We can pay you £100 for taking part, and I promise it will be anonymous, just a quick phone call. Could you email me asap? Many thanks, Diana

Now I don't know about you, but I think newspapers should report the news, and not create a story (Eastern Europeans are bad) and then look for evidence to fill in their story, in this case evidence anybody can make up and then get £100. What a joke, of course they all do it, but the Daily Mail has a long history of being among the worst newspaper out there, doing today what they did in the 1930s, pick on an ethnic group, then the Jews, the Indians in the 1950s and etc and blame them for all our ills.

Obviously the concept of a free press is a laughable when the press are controlled by a small handful of individuals - who do have an agenda and do push it with their newspapers.

Government's online anti-piracy proposals unworkable

So the government have been drafting out proposals that, at least at the moment would force Internet Service Providers to side with the big content companies, and would place sanctions on ISPs that fail to tackle piracy.

I don't know who they've got putting these plans into place, but they're technically unworkable.

How do you determine a packet being sent over a network contains illegal content or not? Short answer, you can't.

The only thing ISPs could afford to do would be to block ports commonly used by applications such as BitTorrent clients, which will do absolutely nothing to prevent piracy and just create an added hassle for people who legitimately use such ports for data transfer. BitTorrent clients can quite easily be told to use different ports, if such measures became commonplace they'd all simply pick a random port.

The next thing you could do from a technical standpoint would be attempt to analyse the packets of information going over your network, however there is no way at this level to reasonably determine if the packet contains part of a Word document or an MP3 file, let alone if the file is actually being shared illegally.

The only way for ISPs to realistically be able to analyse packets and work out if they were illegal or not, would be to match their users' computer base, and copy everything their users are downloading and then check against a blacklist of illegal files, for examples file names containing song titles, or against MD5 hashes. Even this however would not be reliable.

The biggest problem with this (other than it being illegal under the Computer Misuse Act, and no doubt under dozens of privacy laws) is cost. It would be hugely expensive you'd have to reproduce everything your users are doing online, that means huge networks of computers equal in power to the number of computers your users currently have online.

Then comes the next problem, that won't work. Why? The data will simply be encrypted, the internet would completely go underground, ISPs will end up having a huge pile of scrambled zeros and ones.

In the process what will of happened? They would of also lost the ability to track down more important things like people downloading child-porn, terrorists sharing who knows what data. The pirates would continue to happily download things, knowing now they're more anonymous than ever before.

Not only that, as I previously talked about, people's home networks aren't secure, somebody could login to three of those networks as easily as I login to my own and download whatever they like, once its done there is no evidence of their involvement, trying to drive piracy underground will simply hurt legitimate internet users.

The people putting forward these proposals are living on fantasy island, do they even know what an internet is, let alone how it works. They're just caving to the demands of the music and film industries, its the same old nonsense they pulled with the release of the cassette tape and VHS. You didn't go out of business from that, you won't from losing a few percent of sales from piracy either, you'll just have to adapt without infringing on people's rights like you did before.

Instead of siding with them, the government should be siding with the end-users. There's virtually no limits to how far these companies will go, we have Sony bundling rootkits on their retail-brought CDs, destroying people's computers, losing who knows how much data. Honestly these people are in no position to make any demands, not how they've behaved.

Frankly we need a socialist solution, heck even something similar to the USSR would solve this whole issue. Tetris was copied to practically every computer in Moscow in a matter of weeks and that wasn't illegal, why? Because Tetris was the property of the people, to be shared among everyone.

Speaking long term, content creators need to be able to create music (for example) and be supported by the society for doing it - in return the society owns their work. We lose record companies suing 13 year old girls for sharing a few songs with their friends and we lose the extreme in-equality of a handful of people making hundreds of millions, and tens of thousands of musicians desperately trying to put food on the table. Personally I think that's win-win for the vast majority of the population.

Seems far fetched? Even something like the BBC works almost in this sort of principle, everybody pays a TV licence and in return they get to view whatever the BBC create. Ideally of course the licence fee would be paid from general taxation, so we have one less bill people need to worry about, and unlike the BBC, no works would be copyrighted, they'd be under a form of public licence, after all the public paid for it.

We can do great things if we put our minds to it, these so called proposals however aren't great things, they're a joke, and an impossible joke at that.

Northern Rock bank nationalised

This afternoon the government will bring a bill to parliament that will nationalise the troubled bank Northern Rock. Only the Tories are expected to oppose it.

Virgin's bid for the bank - frankly an insult to the taxpayer was, as even the treasury admitted "out of the ballpark". I wish I could of seen the look on Richard Branson's face when the Alistair Darling told him the government wouldn't accept his ridiculous offer - expecting the taxpayer to prop up his attempts at profiteering what planet is he living on?

As I mentioned back in my post some months ago when this issue first made its appearance, nationalisation was the only solution to effectively safeguard the money that has gone out of the public coffers in order to protect people's savings and mortgages.

The Tories of course think shareholders should come first, that they should get a fair and reasonable offer - frankly they should get nothing, they know the risks of the stock market, they're all too keen to pocket the winnings, yet don't want to take the risks when they lose. It was after all their short-sighted profiteering as well as the management that created this crisis in the first place.

The nerve of some of these people is unbelievable, a few choice quotes from the BBC website. One guy writes:

Northern Rock is a Private Limited Company.

Correction: It was a Private Limited Company. Now it is owned by the British public.

If the Government simply takes it over without paying us a fair price (which I consider to be the book value of about £4 per share), then this is nothing short of THEFT.

£4 per share! You're having a laugh mate, the shares closed at 90p on Friday! If it wasn't for the government intervening in propping up Northern Rock in November your shares would be worth nothing.

And from somebody else, this made it to the BBC opinions piece, along with many other pro-shareholder views:

She questions why the government did not make the decision to nationalise earlier, when share prices were stronger.

Gee, because the government were really keen to get rid of the problem and hand it over to Richard Branson? Because the government however incompetent you think they are, aren't going to be paying ridiculous prices to compensate shareholders - they're spending taxpayers money after all, and our interest it to get the cheapest possible price.

"Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown have made a real mess of everything. It's a Whitehall farce." Now Northern Rock is being nationalised, Sylvia intends to move the remainder of her savings to another bank, because she does not trust her money in government hands.

That's rich coming from somebody who had her money in a business that was so poorly run would of gone bust had the government not stepped in.

She also needs a history lesson by the looks of it:

"Look at what happened to the carmaker Rover when it was nationalised. The company went bust", she added.

Rover was effectively nationalised in 1975 because they were hanging on the edge of collapse and they were considered a key part of the British economy, where they continued to operate quite successfully until 1988 when they were privatised by the Tories - a move which began their steady decline.

Still left to be decided is how much the shareholders will be paid, this will be decided by a panel set up to look at the question.

My thoughts are the government should absolutely not offer anything above 90p per share. Ideally I'd like to see the entire bank brought for a handsome sum of £1, we'll let the shareholders fight over trying to divide that up.

Alistair Darling has however admitted he wants to sell Northern Rock back to the private sector as soon as the taxpayer gets their money back. I'd like to see a more long-term commitment, one which won't have large sections of the Northern Rock staff made redundant like they would of been under Virgin's plans, the business should continue to operate as normal and remain under public ownership for as long as necessary, such a business will get a better price than one which suffers from a quick round of cuts to quickly move it into profitability for privitisation.

More nonsense from the Catholic church

So the Catholic church is on the move to try and shoot down the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which will come before parliament later this year.

Normally I wouldn't be too bothered about them up to their usual ideological agenda stuff - after all if I went after them on every single little thing they do, I'd be spending every waking minute on it. But they've stepped over the line on this.

I'm talking about this little document. This nonsense has been spread to their followers over the last couple of weeks.

Hybrids: The Bill will allow scientists to create embryos that are half human, half animal. For example, from the egg of a woman and the sperm from an animal. To do this would be a radical violation of human dignity.

Trying to conjure up images of half human half animal babies being born. Yeah right, and the world is flat.

What the scientists actually want do is quite different. For example an egg from an animal will be taken, its genetic information removed, and a human cell will be implanted, this will create embryonic stem cells, genetically identical to the person who's cell was implanted. There's no animal genes involved.

None of these may be implanted into a woman, and they must be destroyed within 14 days, or at the first signs of development of a nervous system.

Of course all of what they say is pretty meaningless, after all we are animals. May be half-human half-cow would be more appropriate, hey like my Tauren!

They go on to say this:

How Future Decisions are Made: At present, decisions are made by an unelected and unrepresentative body. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority appears to exclude people who cherish human life from conception.

Exclude people who cherish human life from conception? Wait, I know what you mean! You mean its those evil scientists doing their own thing. Once again this is the church trying to interfere in science - they even try and play the dictatorship card. You've done enough meddling in our schools as it is, why are you trying to get your fifthly hands into the science lab?

The answer is simple, to destroy science. They're upset at the progress that has been made over the last 300 years, they're upset they can't burn people alive for saying the Earth goes around the Sun any more.

What do I think? Let the scientists do the science. Science must be free of all external ideologies for it to perform to the best of its abilities. Scientists should decide what research they do, and be free to do it.

The church should not be stopping them from perusing areas of research they believe will be fruitful, neither should any other organisation - not even the government. Scientists believe it or not are human beings too, and they can make judgement on what they believe is right or wrong just like the next person.

Then they use the abortion card.

The Bill may be used as a vehicle to make abortion more common.

Abortions need to be free and easier to get. Although they like to use the pro-life slogan, and they've been banging their drums on this issue lately, trying to get the 24 weeks reduced. Ultimately this is about the rights of the woman to control what's going on in their body. I of course recognise the collection of cells has the potential to become a human being - which is why I don't think termination should be allowed up until birth, 24 weeks is a fine cut off point.

The fact they mention abortion seems to me like they're desperate to drum up support from the Catholics who are bright enough not to fall for their half-human half-animal nonsense.

One bishop commented in New Scientist:

If people are unhappy about genetically modified tomatoes, they should be made aware of proposals in the bill to allow the creation of genetically modified human embryos!

There's two reasons why people are opposed to genetically modified tomatoes, they're either new-age woo woo fans who think anything to do with science is tainted, or they're ignorant. Oh wait, that's only one reason.

We've been genetically modifying food for thousands of years. Virtually everything we eat is not in its "natural" (whatever that means) state. Using modern technology just allows us a finer level of control over it, instead of breeding different varieties and hoping some of the offspring have the traits we want.

I'm all for genetically modified human embryos if it means future generations won't have to deal with all the genetic faults we've inherited, all the diseases and the death we have to deal with. If we can create cures for Parkinson's disease and other crippling disorders science, and those people suffering shouldn't have the door slammed on them just because its against a religious ideology.

Just in the last few months science has made some amazing breakthroughs, growing organs - virtually from scratch, tailor made for whoever the organ is for to reduce the risk of rejection, using their own progenitor cells. We're quite literally in the middle of a revolution in medicine, to the point where many believe there are people alive today who will live for several hundred years.

The sooner we get religion stripped out of science and all public affairs the better, you only need to look to Africa to see the damage religious propaganda has on things like the spread of HIV.

Social networking websites "romanticising" suicide?

According to MP Madeleine Moon at least, who will raise the issues with the police following several suicides.

From the BBC article:

Mrs Moon said she was growing increasingly worried by the appearance of so-called "memory walls" on networking sites like Bebo, where members leave messages to mark the death of a friend.

I fail to see how that is a problem, or how it promotes suicide in any way. I've used this blog to post messages remembering the deaths of people I look up to. Suicide is beside the point, the messages would be left if they had hanged themselves or if they had died in a car accident or from natural causes.

I'm particularly concerned about this false romanticism of the memory wall that seems to have set up on Bebo giving some sort of romantic idea of suicide and not conveying the huge tragedy and wasted lives that we are looking at here

Me? I say we should ban Romeo and Juliet. I'm confident if you do a study you'll find teenagers more likely to commit suicide after being forced to read that then using Bebo or other social networking tools to keep in contact with their friends. I also think Romeo and Juliet romanticises suicide orders of magnitude more than people leaving their respects on a website.

"The worrying part about internet sites is it is a virtual world - it isn't a real world," she said. "The things that happen there don't necessarily demonstrate the consequences.

Internet sites aren't a "virtual world". World of WarCraft is a virtual world, you have a character in the world and you can do things in the world, a world simulated on computers. A social networking website is like a notice board - just because the data is encoded and sent down a phone line doesn't mean it isn't real, heck using the same logic you could argue a newspaper is a virtual world as the same methods are used to create a newspaper. It's nonsense.

Instead of blaming what you don't understand, why not look at the causes in the real world that make people commit suicide, things like growing inequality within a society.

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