Friday, 30 January 2009

So much heaven, so much hell...

(Faithless - Bombs)

"So much heaven, so much hell, so much love, so much pain
So much more than I thought this world could ever contain"

Many many times I see this, I feel this, it is as Echart Tolle says: "Things are getting worse and better at the same time, although the worse is more apparent because it makes so much ‘noise’"

When reading or thinking about things going on in the world my feeling can be so dramatic, and at times so opposed. On the one side I come across subjects that cause me much grief and despair: there are those who are developing more and more sophisticated ways of killing people (Wired for War); those who are damaging people's health in the pursuit of profit; there is the loss of much of beauty in the world; there are those that through their ignorance hurt others so badly, that through maliciousness can destroy lives; and such like.

On the other hand there are those things that give me so much joy, that lift me up, that make me feel everything is alright: there are those developing a deep understanding of how to heal others, and freely sharing their work; there are days with friends when we all share in many ways; there are times with my niece, who shows an intelligence and innocence of being that adults could learn from; their are those developing new, sustainable, loving ways of living; there are those who are waking up spiritually, are looking at the world through fresh and compassionate eyes; and there are those moments that awareness and peace descends, being felt in the soft rain, or in the streetlights reflecting off the pavement, or the sound of birds singing in the dark.

So much heaven,
So much hell,
So much love,
So much pain.

It is hard sometimes, the problems can seem so large, so beyond our power to change. But they are not, they can never be. As ever, the words of Gandhi speak to me:

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always."

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Mark's Sustainable Eating Challenge

The challenge:
  • To eat nothing but food grown in the UK.

Additional factors:
  • Vegetarianism and limiting dairy, eating organic.

Length of challenge:
  • Four weeks.

As part of my uni course we have a nutrition module, as part of that we have to put ourselves on a diet. For mine I chose this. I believe learning to live locally is the only sustainable way of living right now and will be the only way of maintaining a secure food supply in the future. However, a large part of the food I eat is from abroad. In the last two days I have eaten food from the UK, Turkey, Swaziland, Spain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Holland, the Dominican Republic and many other countries that were not listed on the food - and this is the norm, or even better than the norm as I do already get all my vegetables locally.

I am really excited about undertaking this challenge, although after looking around my local health food shop and my local supermarket I realise it will not be easy as very, very few of the foods that I looked at were from the UK. I have a good supply of vegetables, as I am a member of an organic box scheme that delivers organic vegetables to me weekly that are all grown in the UK (Abel & Cole), but other than that it will be a real challenge.

I should be reasonably ok with getting grains, as wheat, barley and oats are grown here, but getting enough proteins will be difficult - so far all I have found is local organic eggs. My normal sources of protein such as lentils, chickpeas and many nuts and seeds are all imported and I am yet to find UK equivalents. I will of course have to cook most things from scratch and will not be able to buy snacks or anything like that as all of these food items contain ingredients from various countries, often with them not being listed.

I start next Tuesday and I will keep you updated as to how I'm doing. If you know of any good UK food or have useful recipes please let me know, I need all the help I can get!!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Where the TV Should Go

In five months I will leave the uni I am at behind and so with it the student house I now occupy. This means that at the moment our landlord keeps showing triplets of little students around.

So today as I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen I heard a voice from the other room:

"That is where the TV should go"

Amazing! The student didn't say "that is where a TV COULD go", it was definitely "that is where the TV SHOULD go". As if there was a TV shaped hole in the universe that quite obviously needed filling, that the idea of it not being filled was something that could not be comprehended. The universe would be right again when the TV was properly instated.


In the words of Einstein: "A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?"

Anyway, walking back up to my room, soup simmering nicely, it occurred to me I could do a little product placement in my own house, see if I could influence the subconscious of all the visitors! I put some extra herbs on top of my soup so the house smelled nicely of herbs and good food cooking, rearranged my organic veg box so the name and the 'organic' showed, positioned some good books so the titles could be seen, had some
of my camping equipment partially on show so it would give the impression of activeness, had the title of my blog up on my laptop. If I had had more time I could have made posters with subtle subconscious cues in them, hey I could even have had music playing with very subtle background words. Ah but I must resist the dark side!

But after all it wouldn't work - we have no TV! All I would do would be clouded by that aberration of nature!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Medicine, Money, Malaria and You!

The production and supply of pharmaceutical products is an entirely commercial venture, or in other words, your medicine is supplied by those who have to put profit before social and environmental costs. In the words of the Director of Roche in Korea "We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business."

I have discussed before the problem of pharmaceutical companies manipulating the medical profession in order to make money (see here), but in this post I will address the issue of the provision of health care, of who gets treatment and who doesn't, of who lives and who dies.

In an article in the Independent today it was stated that the weak value of the pound could lead to a shortage of drugs in the UK as imports become less profitable and exports more profitable (see article). Basically, you may not get the medicines you need on time because the money market dictated otherwise. This situation is, however, a very positive one compared to how it is in some other countries or how it could be here in the future.

I first became aware of this problem a few years back, about the time I was becoming interested in studying herbal medicine, when I went to a seminar on using natural medicines in the tropics. The seminar was run by an amazing charity call Anamed (, whose basic aim is to educate people who may not have access to medicines, such as in parts of Africa, to be able to treat common conditions, such as malaria, effectively with herbs. It was when reading up on the information for this seminar that I found out about the problems concerning the provision of medical treatment and realised how they might apply to Western countries in the future.

In parts of Africa the reasons for the lack of medicines can be many, though mainly it comes down to money. Often drugs are simply not affordable. In some cases where a person can buy the drugs even simple medication may cost a month's wage. In other cases it is the problem of infrastructure that makes drugs inaccessible - health centers are too far away, roads are too poor, deliveries can't get through. So what is done? well, a lot do the only thing that can be done: die. They may die of a serious case of malaria, or they may just die of diarrhoea. So this is where Anamed comes in - teaching simple things like oral rehydration solution for diarrhoea, herbs for malaria (Artemisia annua) and other things.

The question of poverty in Africa is a topic for a different post, but I will look here at how it relates to a specific case, that of malaria. Artemesinin is (in combination with a few other medicines) the leading drug for the treatment of malaria and it is currently extracted from the plant Artemisia annua. It is grown in huge plantations in some African countries, is purchased by pharmaceutical companies at a very low price, it is shipped over to America or a European country, the artemesinin is extracted and then sold back to the African country at a price most people can't afford - so people die. Where the drug is purchased by those rich enough, the money goes back to the pharmaceutical company, meaning the African country gets poorer. The actual herb Artemisia annua can be drunk as a tea to treat malaria and is just as effective as the drug, though taking slightly longer to have its effect.

So anyway, drugs become scarce if a country becomes poor or the infrastructure breaks down, and pharmaceutical corporations follow where the money leads. Who is to say that our country will always stay rich and function smoothly? When you consider the far reaching effects of financial instability (which is likely to increase in the long term) and the looming problems of both the energy crisis and climate change it seems wishful to think that we are immune to these problems. Pharmaceutical companies are no more stable than other industries, such as the automotive industry, or the money grabbing industry. So as things can't or won't stay the same, and as millions are already dying due to the lack of health care, what needs to happen?

Take the money out of medicine

Pharmaceutical corporations should not be allowed to profit from what they do, health should not correlate with your pay packet, essential medicine should be freely available to all whether an individual has money or not. An option may be nationalising the pharmaceutical industry with the development and production of drugs being paid for by the government. This would be easily funded by the savings gained from the NHS not having to buy drugs from pharmaceutical companies and by the profits from the sale of non-essential over-the-counter drugs. Knowledge of how to manufacture the drugs could be freely shared between countries further increasing benefit. Or maybe there is some other scheme that would work, but however it is done it should not be a profit making business. If this was done it would also have the following benefits:
  • Doctors would have less bias information on the effectiveness of drugs.
  • Research showing harmful effects of drugs would not be hidden.
  • More holistic drugs could be researched (pharmaceutical companies don't want people too healthy, it is bad for business).
  • Drugs would be freely accessible to all.
  • Drug supply would be more stable.
  • Government money would provide more medicine instead of making a few rich.
  • Effective alternative treatments would not be suppressed.

Increase the use of natural medicines
  • They can be produced where ever in the world you are.
  • They are cheap.
  • They have been shown to be effective (Artemisia annua can effectively treat malaria, with treatment only lasting a couple more days than treatment with Artemisinin).
  • People could easily treat themselves for minor complaints, therefore reducing the pressure on the NHS.
  • They have limited side-effects and are generally more safe.
  • They can help the local economy when produced and used locally.
  • They are much more environmentally sustainable.
  • Focusing on a more holistic approach to health would mean less people getting ill in the first place.
As always your comments are welcome.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Time monster

Recently I am forced to postulate the existence of a new creature. It is quite a large creature, just a little smaller than your average cow, although it manages to fit into fairly small spaces such as a person's bedroom. It manages to remain quite hidden, but if you could see it, you would see it is quite stocky, like a softer and more flabby hippopotamus, and has a long snout that flares at the end, a bit like an aardvarks snout, but much bigger.

The reason why I'm convinced of its existence is that there is one following me around; I know this because it is using its snout to suck up time, my time. This animal that we are dealing with is in fact a Time Monster (Monasteriense vicis). I do not believe this is an unusual case either, you too may be a victim.

I believe our uni library may be a breading ground for these creatures: you walk in there in search of a few books and several hours get sucked up, leaving you wondering home in the dark, feeling slightly dazed and a little sick with only a handful of books to account for your time. It would seem these animals will follow a person back to their place of residence where they will make themselves quite comfortable in the person's room. It would appear that here they can make night time pass more quickly, meaning you have to sleep for longer and wake up late. They seem technology savvy and can manipulate computers to their advantage, with them being so familiar with the Internet as to make me consider whether part of their existence is in fact a part of cyberspace.

There is though one place were these creature appear not to be able to tread...

A place where time is felt in its entirety...


If only I could train these animals!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Not One Death

Not One Death

Not one death is acceptable,
Not one civilian casualty.
Not one dead child in a father's arms,
Not one freaked child at a dead mother's side,
Not one man left lying in a street,
Not one emaciated corpse thrown in a hole.
Not sad but unavoidable,
Not acceptable.


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Sleep deprived with aching body and raw fingers, but very happy!

So it all started at midday Friday. Half way through my meditation session my phone goes, I answer, it's Tim: do I want to go climbing? yes!

I leave my meditation, grab my harness and climbing shoes and head off to the pub where we are meeting and having a bite too eat first.

Tim and Meg have already finished eating by the time I get there, but they dutifully watch me munching through my (free) veggie-burger and chips. We chat for a little while, with music videos shining down on us from the walls in the dark, relaxed Adephi pub.

Tim drives us over to the leisure centre with the inside climbing walls, and Meg signs a form making her responsible for my life and death, so that I can get in. The entrance area is warm and smells of chlorine, but we walk through some double doors into a spacious hall where the air is fresher and full of life. On all the walls going up to the tall ceiling are huge fake rock faces with ropes trailing up them and smaller rock faces with thick cushioned mats underneath them. We put our climbing shoes on, I take mine off again, remove my socks, then strap myself back in - lots of little customs to learn in this new world.

We warm up by climbing the smaller walls with the padded floor: that's fun, scaling up the fake rocks feeling like a monkey, then falling or jumping back down onto the very compassionate flooring. Tim and Meg are very good at this, flowing up the difficult walls gracefully, I... well... give me time!

After this we strap ourselves into our harnesses and tie ourselves on to ropes. The bigger walls await. This is fun, but there is nothing like being suspended by a rope a distance from the floor, trying to get a firm grip on the next handhold to make you realise the importance of strong arms - I made myself a commitment to get my weights out again! It tests your faith also - letting go of a wall high above an unsympathetic floor, when your comparatively little friend (I'm about 2 meters tall) is the only person on the other end of the rope, isn't the most natural thing to do, but still, she said it would be fine, and indeed it was. Meg did not go shooting into the air as I shot towards the ground, indeed, it was quite a leisurely backwards stroll to the floor. I however, did send Tim shooting towards the floor when it was my turn on the other end of the rope, for some reason I though that was what he would want, it didn't occur to me that he had no idea he was flying towards the floor because I was controlling it that way or because I was out of control, but I slowed him before he and the floor got to know each other too much and apologised for my rather large mistake!

A bit more climbing later and it was time to go, my hands worse-for-wear and my upper body muscles fatigued. We headed around to our different houses to collect the gear we would need for the following day, stopped of at the supermarket to stock up with food, and then off to Meg's house where Tim and Meg cooked us a tasty Moroccan dish. After munch Tim taught us how to read the details on maps, to take grid references, and take bearings. After sitting cross-legged in a quiet corridor with map and compass in my lap I finally managed to figure out in my head what was going on with all these difference Norths (true north, grid north, magnetic north) and what this meant for not getting lost. A relaxed evening chatting and watching cartoons later and it was time for bed. My sleep patterns were messed up so I lay awake in my sleeping bag most the night reading 'The God of Small Things' - I really good book that is amazingly difficult to describe!

We woke up early in the morning and the sun was shining - not quite living up to the 'severe weather warnings' of the forecasters. No worries, breakfast of eggs, beans and toast, a quick shower and a packing of bags and we are off to Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills' place. Still sunny.

At Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills' beautiful house in the hills we drink tea and look at maps. Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills' sister arrives and off we go. The weather is cold and very windy now, no worries, warm and windproof clothes and my neck warmer sorts that and we begin, maps and compasses at the ready.

Walking up the road towards where we will get on to the moors Tim tells us how to count our paces to measure distances. Mine are about 54 paces to every 100m. The map tells us it is 500m to the next pub so we try it out...

1,2,3,4,5,6... hmmm the sun's nice ...33,34,35,36... I'll take my hat off ...50,51,52,53,54 100m! 1,2,3,4... why do these cars think we shouldn't be on the road ...44,45,46,47... there is the wall, the map is trustworthy ...53,53,54 300m, or was it 400m? 1,2,3,4,5... definitely 300 ...20,21,22,23... my paces are shorter, should add more to make up ...54,55,56,57,58,59,60 400m ...33,34,35... its windy, my hair is in my face, nice though ...52,53,54 500m! Yeah sweet pretty much by the pub. Not the most well looked after pub in the world that, it looks like it had be left on the bottom of a scummy lake for a millennium before being lifted out, dumped at the side of the road, and left to dry. But no worries, we have food, we carry on walking, I keep counting, 150m 'til the path we need.

Well the path wasn't obvious, but the counting meant we knew where it should be. We climbed the fence that had been inconsiderately been built across it and carried on. On the moors now, with the strange grass, and the spiky plant with flammable sponge inside that I have no name for, Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills has a possible name for it, but I forget. Burnt patches of moorland are here too: they have strange moss and lichen growing on them, vast empires of tropical rainforest no more that a centimeter high, an ant's paradise.

Now it is time to look at maps, we look at the surroundings, look at maps again, put compasses on maps, line up where we want to go, set compasses to grid north, alter compasses to magnetic north, chanting the magic words 'grid to mag add, mag to grid get rid'. We're set, the compass points the way, we pick out land features and walk. And walk, and stop, and stare and walk again. Chat and wonder, and amble and joke and breath fresh air! And feel hungry. We head towards some rocks and find a spot out of the wind, hemmed in by the rock, a spot popular with the sheep. Out comes the stove and soup, out comes the tea, the hot chocolate, the bread, the snacks: all made twice as nice by the walk, the scenery, the company and the warmth on a cold day.

We finish eating and I step from out of the rock shelter and the wind hits me, not just the wind but snow as well. Great! I jump around on rocks a bit, then get packed to move. We head back, it's probably not best to go on, some are too cold and it is still a fair walk.

We head towards a reservoir, hats down, neck warmers up to nose, brightly colour ninjas, flying over heather. Or stomping through heather, tall heath, with hidden holes and streams. Falling, laughing, stomping, down towards the reservoir.

We are back to the road. It is a shame to walk on a road with countryside about, but it is the best option. I practice counting!

1,2,3,4,5... hmmm, hard to talk while my mind is counting, hard to use the vocal part of my brain for two things at once ...27,28,29,30... how about I set my mind counting in the visual part of it ...41,42,43,44 [seeing the numbers in my head, more than hearing] 45,46... difficult, not quite there ...51,52,53,54... hmmm, the one hundred could be a picture too ...100m [larger, in red, to the side of the picture of counting numbers in my head] 1,2,3,4... this will need practice, but how amazing if my mind could do it automatically, I could be talking, doing other things, and occasionally look back at the pictures in my mind to see how far I had come, will need a lot of practice though!

We are back to the car park, nearby is a strange dome with round window holes and a globe that reflects all. It immediately becomes one of my favorite random installations. Pictures are taken.

Back to Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills' house where she prepares us a bean stew with dumplings. We lounge around sipping wine, with me dozing slightly, feeling very hungry with the smells from the kitchen. Jessie the cat sniffs my hand then enjoys a bit of petting before going to eat. We have a bit of an effort at a sudoku puzzle, but give up, too tired. Music is playing, we are relaxing.

Food is ready! Yum! Thank you very much Anonymous-friend-who-lives-in-the-hills!

Its time to go, sad but true.

We drive through the dark: weary, achy, happy

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Nature helps you think - it's official!

Taking a stroll through nature can significantly improve cognitive function compared to walking in a city, according to a recent study (article - Natural Thinking).

But why bother studying it, is it not just obvious to anyone who has ever walked through the wonders of nature, or do we need studies now before we can contemplate such a thing?

"Shall I spend another five hours in front of the TV, or shall I go for a stroll through the woods?"
"Well you'd improve your cognitive function by over 20% if you did walk"
"OK I'll do it! It will help me understand the complex story lines going on in Coronation Street"

Walking in nature is good also because there is lots of, er, nature. For me that is enough, anything else is just a bonus!

The weekend just gone I had a really good 20% improvement in cognitive function. You will be able to read all about it shortly, but I advise that you don't: switch your computer off, strap on your walking boots and stroll! :-)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Who would have thought staring at a wall could be so nice!

I light a candle.
I light some incense.
I give my respects to the universe.
I sit, half-lotus, facing the wall.
My eyes are open, my gaze softened.
I bow.
My hands rest loosely in my lap,
I am aware of my body,
Of the room,
Of me just sitting,
My mind makes noise.
I notice the noise.
I am aware.
I just sit.
My mind wanders,
I think of things,
I am lost in thought,
Lost to the peace.
I notice,
I am back,
My breathing soft.
Beginnings of thoughts arise,
But pass.
A thought arises, it takes me,
I think of my next blog post,
I think of this,
I think, i feel enjoyment,
But peace has gone.
I notice.
I am back.
Beginnings of thoughts arise,
But pass.
My alarm goes.
I stand,
Blow out the candle,
Wander down stairs
And make soup,
Planning this blog,
Thinking of essays,
Occasionally glimpsing
Always there.

Greenpeace - genius!

Some of you may of heard of a proposed new runway for Heathrow airport (London, UK). The one that is likely to be accepted by the government this week, at a time when we have a choice between decreasing CO2 emissions or dying.

Well, Greenpeace has just purchased a plot of land right in the middle of the proposed site!

Newspaper article

Greenpeace Airplot website

He he he! Genius! Greenpeace, you have made me very happy today!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Detoxes Dont Work, In Skeptisism We Trust


A common headline at this time of year.

This is generally said by a scientist of the evangelical skepticist type. Or by one of their disciples.

Of course they say this strutting along with their heads held high in the knowledge that they alone are saved from the fiery pits of superstition and are living in the kingdom of true and everlasting knowledge.

But as is often the case with those who state absolutes, their absoluteness makes them wrong.

In science there is not The Truth, there are only competing bodies of evidence. I have read evidence supporting some types of detox (fasting), no doubt the skeptics have some evidence that shows some types don't work, probably, or maybe not, some scientists are just as religious as the rest of us: once they have formed a set of beliefs they will dismiss or fight alternative beliefs and will criticise perfectly valid research. Once the scientific / medical world ridiculed the idea that washing hands before performing a medical procedure was a good idea!

OK, actually I want to make something clear, science is good and useful, it is dogmatic belief which is not. Science done properly is a remedy against dogmatic belief: if evidence comes to light that contradicts your beliefs you should take that evidence seriously and question your beliefs. Sadly in practice this isn't always done, instead evidence that contradicts beliefs is treated harshly while evidence that supports those same beliefs is warmly accepted no questions asked.

So anyway, if lots of people feel better after doing a detox it is no good going up to them, slapping them in the face and telling them to stop feeling good because actually their liver was doing a good enough job of detoxing them anyway. OK, the word detox is very poorly defined, and the money addicts are of course cashing in on this as much as anything else, but the statement 'Detoxes don't work' is wrong. Saying some detoxes or detox products don't work may very well be true, but for some people some types of detox do have a positive effect - or so I believe anyway!

Nothing happening

Today there is nothing to report.
Nothing is happening, anywhere.
People may stay in bed or wander about as they wish.
Food will be available to those who want it,
disease has been temporarily suspended.
The weather will be warm with a light breeze.


Friday, 9 January 2009

Feeding wolves

Hi, I recieved this story in my inbox from ooffoo yesterday and really liking it decided to share it...

There's a wonderful story that has been attributed to the Native American Cherokee Indians. The story is about a boy who tells his grandfather that he is feeling very angry and upset. The grandfather explains to the boy that he too sometimes feels angry but also he often feels very happy. The grandfather says it is as if there are two wolves battling inside him. One is very angry, aggressive and acts out of fear. This wolf wants to fight all the time. The other wolf is happy, playful, and only wants to make friends and live in peace. But the two wolves are constantly battling inside. The little boy asks: which wolf wins?

And the grandfather replies: 'the one I feed'

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Doctor good, pharma bad?

I know a fair few medical doctors (including four of my own relatives) and without exception all are very good people and very skilled: they are kind and caring, wish the best for others having dedicated their lives to serving others and have undergone extensive and difficult training. How then did they end up with such jerks as pharmaceutical companies? It is like a beautiful, caring, intelligent woman ending up in a relationship with an ugly, twisted, malicious monster!

I'm sure there are nice people working in pharmaceutical companies - in my more sceptical moments I think they just wondered in by mistake and couldn't find the exit, but I'm sure they are there, fervently trying to design a new drug to save the lives of those around them. BUT THEN THERE IS THIS:

"We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business." (Director of Roche in Korea when challenged about providing AIDS drugs to those who couldn't afford them) (article)

"Disease mongering" - Pharmaceutical companies undertaking marketing to convince healthy people they are sick and to make people think mild diseases are more serious (BMJ article)

Pharmaceutical companies trying to bribe governments into allowing their products to be used - even if the science says they are no good (Guardian article)

Pharmaceutical companies ghost writing research to make it look unbiased (journal article) or forcing researchers not to mention harmful effects of drugs (article).

Adverse drug reactions killing over 100,000 people a year in the US (Lancet article) with serious side effects of drug affecting many many more.

Basically, when doctors get a large amount of their information about drugs from drug reps; when training or research centers can be under the pay of pharmaceutical companies; when research and clinical trials contain, for many different reasons, bias; when all other alternatives are suppressed; when pharmaceutical products can involve hidden (or overt) harms: where does that leave medicine?

On the plus side however, I really believe that if pharmaceutical companies' money making motives were removed, the doctor's art and the amazing advances of biomedicine that have been made would loose their tarnish and medicine would really shine again.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ok, so here goes - death, destruction and rebirth

OK, so here is an issue that I have to address, but it is not an easy one. Those of you who know me will probably have heard me mention these things before because sometimes it just comes out! Still, they are not issues I like to address because it involves human suffering. Still, no harm in starting it off with a cartoon...!

Ok - so it will get positive towards the end, but first, a journey through hell...

So widespread job loss, devaluation of currency, people losing their homes, people going cold and hungry - bad yes? See, this is where it gets difficult, because from much reading, from listening to talks and having discussions I can't help but think that how ever bad that might be, it is possibly better than the main alternative. (There is a third option, a difficult one, but it is there, difficult, but possible). Let me explain.

Economic downturn is causing many problems, however it has some positives: CO2 emissions are set to drop as industry declines (Article - Slump Means EU Industry Carbon Caps No Longer Bite). It is essential that CO2 emissions drop as we are now reaching the point where climate change spirals out of control (Cartoon - Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip), however, industry is dragging its feet because making proper (real, effective) changes would in the short term damage profits. Is, therefore, a major recession the only way to make them change? I hope not, because who could? Who could wish mass job losses and mass homelessness - no one!

And yet if real changes aren't made - and we are talking big changes, major lifestyle, social, political changes - the alternative is so much worse. If climate change continues to worsen and ecosystems (including the soil which grows our food) continue to die humans die too. Estimates have been made as to how many people would survive, different estimates have been made, the most generous I have found is 1.7 billion people surviving, the worst is 100-300 million people surviving (Article - The Silence of the Greens). There are currently 6.8 billion people alive on this planet. If serious positive changes aren't made 3 out of every 4 people dead by the most generous estimates, 59 out of every 60 dead by the worst estimates. Of course all these people would not die instantaneously, I'm guessing it would be over the next 50 to 100 year. I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like, those are just numbers to me, but if I imagine what that means in terms of my family and friends - this is not a pleasant subject. This isn't something that will happen in the future, it has already started: global food supplies are very low and the number of malnourished people is just about to cross the 1 billion point (Article - Food Crisis Could Worsen Next Year).

So things are going to change and are going to do so with or without our will with either industry continuing and the environment dieing or industry dieing and the environment and people not dieing as much.


The third option, thankfull a third option: we stop fighting (personally and globally), we stop dragging our feet, we get to know our neighbours and our local community, we create loving supportive relationships, we develop a joy in living that is independent of what we own, we help each other learn and develop, we learn how to live sustainably, we develop new skills to help ourselves do this and we share them, we reassess what we really need and stop using what we don't need, we buy local organic food, we leave jobs that cause environmental damage and create life-sustaining jobs, we use less energy, start living together in communities so as to use less energy as a whole, we stop buying stuff, we stop most driving and flying, and more. Only two things are needed to do this...

We have to want to change
realise that it is not a sacrifice but
that there is much joy in it.

Really - imagine what it would be like living surrounded by your best friends every day, living in beautiful surroundings, having stress free and worthwhile jobs, being safe in the knowledge that violence has all but ceased, to know you are doing right, to feel love more, to feel connected - it is ours if we want it!

Thank you for listening and please leave comments, I need both your support and disagreements in this! Mark

Monday, 5 January 2009

Harvard referencing for pubs

As many readers are no doubt aware, vast quantities of insightful information is often obtained whilst in a pub. Sadly however, this information is generally not regarded as reaching high academic standards and often information is not properly attributed to rightful author (often being just vaguely attributed to 'the lads'). In order to clear up confusion and to reinstate pub gained information to its rightful place the current author has produced the following suggestions as to how the Harvard referencing system could be used for benefit.

Referencing one author (male)

Important information to include is the author, the year it was said, the title of the revelation, the pub where it was stated, and the amount of alcohol the author had consumed. An example follows.

In text reference:
My mate Bob (2006) said that the government is making cows fart more to stop global warming

End text reference:
Bob (2006) You know wot mate, wot that them gover, govermunt doin bout clum clum climate thingy. Queen's Head pub: 7 Pints

Referencing two authors (male)

This is done in the same way as above, but including both authors

In text reference:
Last week I was having a drink with my mates and they said that immigrants are stealing all the trees (Bob and Shad, 2007)

End text reference:
Bob and Shad (2007) Them bluddy foreigners. The King's Arms Pub: 6 pints, 7 shots of Whiskey (total)

Referencing more that two authors

Often the knowledge gained at a pub will be the result of the efforts of several person and much alcohol. Often it is not clear who was actually present at the time and so for referencing this type of information the expression 'the lads' can be used instead of names. An example will be given

In text reference:
I was down the pub last week and the lads (2008) decided that football would solve world hunger because everyone would stop fighting and eat more hot dogs.

End text reference:
The lads (2008) Did you see the match? The Harvester pub: 17 pints (total)

Referencing female authors

Although times are changing, women, though often admired and talked about, can often not be included in conversation in a typical pub and lager environment. They can be included at times through them being in a relationship with one of 'the lads' present. An example of how they are referenced is given below.

In text reference:
Although some present reckoned that America should declare war on all Muslim countries my mate Bob's missus said that that is was a really stupid idea showing both needless cruelty, a lack of understand and respect for different cultures, and an emotional and mental intelligence of an angry wasp

End text reference:
Bob's missus (2008) Bob you're drunk and you're talking crap. The dog and Bear pub: 1 glass of white wine

Secondary referencing

Although often cited as a reliable source, being often revered as the fount of absolute knowledge, the Daily Mail (often referred to as just 'The Mail') is about as reliable as the average drunk person and by being quoted by a drunk person it is often distorted even further; time and effort is saved by merely referencing the drunk. An example is given below.

In text reference:
It must be true that Britain is being destroyed by allowing all these foreign doctors and nurses into the country, i read it in the mail (cited by Mat, 2006)

End text reference:
Mat (2006) I don't trust the lot of them. The Curry House: 5 pints, 3 whiskeys and five bottles of some strange fluorescent blue stuff.

A final note from the author

If you have any suggestions in the furthering of this important cause, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. It is the sincerest wish of the author that information gained from 'the lads' or from 'my mate bob wot knows this stuff' receives the full attention it is worth. It is left to the reader to decide how much that is.


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Woo! Go beaver!

A beaver has escaped, built a home and started work on a dam (times article). Even when some idiots are invading the Gaza strip I can be happy! (Though should I be?!)

But back to beavers - they apparently help clean rivers of pollutants as well as being so cool!

A quick note to the inhabitants of earth...

To those running businesses and corporations: agree to serious CO2 reductions and find new ways of continuing your business in a healthy way because, as many of you seem yet to have realised, YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY IF YOU ARE DEAD AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU IS DEAD, YOU IDIOTS!

To those thinking corporations are to blame and politicians should step in: YOU BUY THIS SHIT THAT CORPORATIONS SPEW OUT, where do you think your iPod comes from; your car; your new laptop; your new speakers; your new clothes; the plane you flew abroad in; your new electric toothbrush; the servers that support all your online avatars; your new accessories; all that meat you are eating; your processed food and its packaging; that new clock that looks oh-so-good in your newly decorated kitchen; your new carpets and furniture; your updated appliances, because wouldn't life be easier if your iron heated up quicker and the kettle kept itself warm; your new mobile with new bouncing tv around the globe technology; the technology, factories and transport systems that support all the above. WAKE UP AND STOP KIDDING YOURSELF THAT BECAUSE YOU RECYCLE, HAVE BROUGHT AN ORGANIC TOP AND RESISTED HAVING TWO NEW PHONES A YEAR INSTEAD OF ONE THAT YOU ARE DOING YOUR BIT!

Ok, ok, so I am wrong to shout, it is most understandable that the majority of people have gone down this route, it was seen as the way to progress, the way to happiness, the way to health, the way to respect from your peers. I know me shouting is likely to polarise the alternate views even further, that views become more entrenched with people defensively protecting their views and ways of being, so I apologise and I ask you to recognised it is because of the frustration I feel and the threat I perceive to what I hold dear that arouses my anger.

Thank you for listening and I welcome your comments


Friday, 2 January 2009

Do we have ideas, or do ideas have us?

Right, we obviously like to think that humans are the center of the universe, much like thinking the sun and the planets, indeed the whole universe, rotates around OUR planet, but here is a little problem that has just occurred to me: ideas seem bigger and more dominant than humans, with humans just forming little parts of an idea. Let me explain...

When we are born we largely inherit beliefs of our parents, for example, if your parents happen to believe in creation as opposed to evolution you will likely do the same. So the idea was inherited, you didn't create the idea, you were born into it. Beliefs like this are also self-sustaining, controlling your interpretation of evidence: if you believe in creation you are likely to dismiss evidence for evolution and visa versa. Now add this to the fact that often ideas control how people live their lives and you have to start asking who is the boss!

An idea may be formed of millions of people, controlling all of them to an extent, might pass itself from one group of people to the next, have its individual participants develop and spread it, will resist its members transferring from one ideology to another.

Of course this doesn't just apply to religion but to all ideas, often with the bigger the idea the bigger its power. All is dependent on what information or ideas you come in contact with and often there is little choice - it depends on the community you were raised in and the media you come in contact with. It also seems very unlikely for anyone to know enough information to be able to choose for themselves and be unbias enough to choose freely between ideologies.

So which is bigger and more in control, our ideas or us that hold the ideas?

It would seem often it is the ideas; often, but not always.

It's mine and I own it!

Hello and to those who choose to read my ponderings and rantings, welcome!

And how great, people can come and go, listen and ignore as they see fit, and no one will mind. I can rant and lecture at will without loosing friends!

Ah, so many opportunities to rant at things, it brings a sense of potentiality, openness, peace, so much so, I don't feel I need to rant right now. Instead I will sit in this happiness and watch the horizon, with the joy of what will come.