Tuesday, 11 June 2019

My Absence of Late - "Why Buddhism is True" - Fred Vargas -

Painting by Grandson Joshua Leek 

I have been absent a lot of late. Truly buggered to use a very British slang expression. Broadband has not been working well, in fact, it was Broadband that did the buggering. I have been unable to contact Gwenyth in Canda which is distressing. We had only recently been chatting online but of course with Broadband broken that hasn't been possible. Fingers crossed it is now as a new Broadband has been installed. 

With my lack of being able to get online, I have taken to one of my favourite pastimes that of reading. I have, and still, am,  re-reading Robert Wright's illuminating "Why Buddhism Is True." You may recall my having a problem with the title when I first read the book when I was undergoing radiotherapy. I thought the title was suggesting Buddhism, that is all the philosophy, was right. The title doesn't suggest that. It takes Buddhism's central tenant meditation as goes a very large way, using modern day psychology and science, in proving it is right. How it can, how it does improve mental health. It is a great book. I gave a copy to my mate Paul who in turn gave one to another friend. Like Paul, I have to read the passages over and over to get a  full understanding of how our brains work. Some of the science is daunting at first but it really does show how Eastern philosophy, for it isn't just Buddhism, now some 2,500 years old, helps.

Another book I am reading is a Fred Vargas crime thriller. As you know, the author is a perennial favourite of mine. She never fails to deliver and the priceless jewel for me is that this is not grim realism but fiction at its finest. Exceptional characterisation with such wilful yet highly imaginative plot twists.  "Wakenhyrst" by Michelle Paver also proved very good. Less a ghost story, more a psychological thriller set across the decades but beginning in the early 20th century. I popped into Chelmsford last week to browse around the community bookshop that hides away behind the main thoroughfare. There I found two books which collectively cost only £2.50. The first was Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything - Capitalism vs The Climate" and "The Chandos Book of Dissent" by co-authors Michael Rosen and David Widgery. I have yet to read them but am already excited by the prospect. Another good and very cheap find was Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's now legendary "Good Omens." Again, I can't wait to start turning the pages of this one.

I have been making things from old toot. I think I mentioned this before. Thus far I have 'upcycled' four bits. For now though here, below, is the first of them. From washed-up old Dolmio sauce jars, I hand painted and mutated what I have called "Three Glass Candles." I have tried to give the impression of wax melting having been lit to light the evening. They make wonderful focal points especially when meditating but are just as good when the morning sun shines through them. I like them and as I made them just for me that is all that matters. I think I shall make more. Increase the colours to include blue, brown and maybe purple.

Three Glass Candles
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Duffy's Diary - Nigel Farage - The Golden Rule - Democracy? What Democracy?

Image result for nigel farage net worth

It's okay now. We can all rest easy in our beds. Nigel Farage is going to lead us out of the EU and to the promised land of old England. Blake's Jerusalem perhaps where those dark satanic mills grind ever on. We, or those of us who believe in such things, English, unlike the French and German's of whom the Geopolitically English have sprung, will regain control of their homelands as once upon a time. Yes, dear Nigel is going to restore England to the English and take the NHS where the NHS has never been before even though many have tried. Time for a change said Mister Farage in 2012, the NHS needs to be privatised. 

“I think we’re going to have to think about healthcare very, very differently. I think we are going to have to move to an insurance-based system of healthcare.
“Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the market place of an insurance company than just us trustingly giving £100bn a year to central government and expecting them to organise the healthcare service from cradle to grave for us.
“I just feel with the whole healthcare service – one promise Blair did keep is that he would increase expenditure; we’ve doubled expenditure on the NHS in 15 years – and we haven’t got frankly double the return. "

That, of course, is old news and to be fair maybe Nigel has changed his mind but all the same, it should be remembered, especially now in light of how the Conservative Party swore they would deliver Brexit after the referendum but still haven't, that changing one's mind having promised one thing and not keeping that promise, that words, even from dear old  Nigel's mouth are not worth the breath that spoke them.

Personally, I now have a secret regarding Brexit. I don't mind what happens. Of course, I am paraphrasing Jiddu Krishnamurti but I really don't mind. The whole fiasco is way beyond my power to change and besides it is nothing but a smokescreen that hides the reall important issues we as a nation face.

The whole concept of nation-states, as far as I am concerned, is barmy. Primitive. Tribal and beyond comprehension. Why do we cling to such a thing? We all are humans for goodness sakes. We live where we will. It is our planet after all. 

I wonder if Mister Farage follows the Golden Rule or attempts to? He certainly doesn't hold with announcing his Brexit Parties policies which indicate to me that those who voted for him and his newly formed party don't give a fig either. It would seem that those who voted for him are happy to lead even if by the nose. Then again, the failings of the UK's representative democracy proves Socrates point admirably. Socrates and Plato both had serious reservations about democracy.

In Book Six of Plato's "The Republic," mentor and acolyte discuss the flaws of society by comparing it to a ship. Who would you rather be in charge of the vessel? Anyone or those versed and educated in seafaring? Obviously the latter. You see letting the average citizen vote without the benefit of an education is wholly irresponsible. People base where they place the cross on the ballot on opinion or random intuition. Ancient Athens had dealings with demagogues. Painful ones just like ours. Populist's appeared stirring up bad feelings as felt by the populace leading Athens to war and financial disaster. 

Socrates went further and with the following that wonderfully reveals how Mister Farage operates. There are two candidates. One a Doctor the other a confectioner. The Doctor has, or so the general populace thought, done many evils to them, many hurts. He, the Doctor, prescribes horrible, vile tasting potions, tells you what to eat and what not to eat or drink. He never suggests you feast on what you like but advises against consuming too much sugar. Socrates then asks us to consider the facts.

"Do you think the Doctor would be able to reply effectively? The True answer is this - I cause you trouble by going against you desires in order to help you. This would cause an uproar among the voters don't you think?

The truth is this. Uneducated people are cheaper to control than educated. Why go to all that expense? After all democracy, by virtue of what it implies, an equal society, leads to anarchy. Now I am not talking the chaos we are now enduring under our representative democracy but a society based on self-managed, self-governed institutions based on co-operative bodies. To this end we need all people to be as educated as possible given that some are born with fewer abilities than others. Even so, the only rule we need is the Golden Rule. The only law we need is the same.

Democracy? What democracy? We don't have one.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Duffy's Diary - Diabetes - Heart Attacks - Strokes -Cancer etc; etc; blah blah blah - Positivity versus negativity - The Boys are Back in Town- The Boys are Back in Town

Jacob and me

I have been diabetic now for over sixty years. So what? Who cares? I for one don't. It is what it is. Has the disease had an effect on my life? Most certainly it has and a very positive one at that. Well, by and large. Positive I hear you cry, how? Diabetes brings with it a certain discipline you need to adhere to if you want to live life to the full. Everything about Diabetes is in the now even though that now paves the way for future health. Ignore that truth at your peril. You test your own blood sugar levels, inject as many times a day as you eat and basically take care of yourself. I have no one to blame for having type one diabetes. Nature is not cruel it merely is. It doesn't judge it simply balances things out even if we think to ourselves 'why me?' If not me then who? The newborn child down the road? Somebody, anybody else? No. I am a diabetic and if diabetes is a brick wall then I shall get over it. I have got over it.

Among the first thing they, the medics that is, ask you as you lay in A and E is are you diabetic. They do this as there is unassailable proof that diabetes can be the cause of a heart attack. Same with the strokes I have had. At this point, you are going to say to me how dare I suggest diabetes has been a positive force in my life? Good question. My answer is this. We only live once so live it now. Things happen in life. Things you would rather had not. You can either feel sorry for yourself or simply get on with it. I am alive now and enjoying every minute of it.
Me and Joshua with Jacob in the background

And these little chaps to whom I am Crackers make life all the more blessed. Of course had I the wherewithal to don a mounties uniform, ride my trusty steed over the Canadain prarie to kidnap a certain lady my life would be truly complete.

. . . Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Free Julian Assange

Having a free press is critical for a democracy to work.  There should be no secrets held by those we elect if those secrets hide corruption or lies made that are harmful to the electorate or to humankind as a whole.  Julian Assange is the epitome of a journalist. He digs out the truth no matter how ugly it is. 

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.” -  Lao Tzu 

"The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in almost seven years.

That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for “democratic” societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.
But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi-fascists in Trump’s Washington, in league with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice."  - John Pilger
"Well, the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects. One of them is just the effort of governments—and it’s not just the U.S. government. The British are cooperating. Ecuador, of course, is now cooperating. Sweden, before, had cooperated. The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about – OK? – that’s basically what happened… This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.
"The other scandal is just the extraterritorial reach of the United States, which is shocking. I mean, why should the United States – why should any – no other state could possibly do it. But why should the United States have the power to control what others are doing elsewhere in the world? I mean, it’s an outlandish situation. It goes on all the time. We never even notice it. At least there’s no comment on it.
"Aside from an alleged breach of bail – Assange was arrested in relation to an extradition request from the US. The now unsealed indictment alleges that Assange is guilty of ‘conspiring to commit computer intrusion’. It claims that Assange helped whistleblower Chelsea Manning crack a password in order to make it more difficult to identify her as the source of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.The Iraq war logs show that US and UK officials lied about having no official statistics on deaths. The leaks identified over 66,000 civilian deaths from 2004 to the end of 2009. They also revealed that the US military indiscriminately gunned down over a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters media staff." - Noam Chomsky
Whilst humankind remains a slave to a system they have no direct control over, whilst they elect leaders to lead them they will be lead where those who have manipulated the truth to suit their ends choose to take them. 
"For centuries we have been spoon-fed by our teachers, by our authorities, by our books, our saints. We say, ‘Tell me all about it, what lies beyond the hills and the mountains and the earth?’ and we are satisfied with their descriptions, which means that we live on words and our life is shallow and empty. We are second-hand people. We have lived on what we have been told, either guided by our inclinations, our tendencies, or compelled to accept by circumstances and environment. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog