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A couple of A.C . Grayling’s books – recently finished

In books, ethics, freedom, good life, history, moral issues, philosophy, politics, traditions on December 14, 2013 at 14:26

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible.
I normally really enjoy books by A.C. Grayling.  I’ve got few complaints about this one.  I don’t know if it’s only fault of the audio book but I found it frustrating that I didn’t know from where the quotes were taken.

I did really enjoyed the verses chapter. It was great to recognise a piece of poetry I’ve learned at school in another language!  On the whole I think the book should not had “Bible” in the title and somehow influencing its structure. Bible is not a greatest of our ancient texts and has been completely discredited over the centuries. 

I also think that this A.C . Grayling book would benefit from inclusion of modern philosophy.

Liberty in the Age of Terror: A Defence of Civil Liberties and Enlightenment Values.
It is right to be concerned with attacks on Civil Liberties.  However I think the author didn’t really shown how much better informed we are thanks to the technology and globalisation,  how much more opportunities we have to express our opinions to the whole world and to listen to opinions of others. The feeling of interdependence and interconnection (one small world!) does helps to promote the Enlightenment values by itself.

A children book with my illustrations is published online by http://www.majuscrit.fr/

In art, books, книги, мои рисунки, folk art, mixed media, my artworks, orange, painting, print, writing on September 15, 2013 at 08:28

Sali et Bamako – Des enfants traumatisés par la guerre, se mettent à chanter et danser… Texte d’Eric Lemoine, images d’Alexandra Cook.

It is in French and English, free to download.

screenprint

Thank you very much the people behind http://www.majuscrit.fr/ for giving me this opportunity!

A working class hero… What?

In books, ethics, moral issues, people, politics, science fiction, writing on April 17, 2013 at 15:25

I’ve been sent a book by an amateur author to read and review (thank you). I’ve given up after just a few pages because of intolerable amount of arising complains about the style and content (sorry). Don’t know yet if I write a real review (after all, I do a bit of writing which probably is not terribly good also) but I’ll put down some thoughts here.

I think it is a mistake to write fiction to serve a political/economical/worldview idea. The book should be about real living human beings, otherwise it looks just like bits of everyday blog and forum posts pretending to be a book. We all have ideas and they should shine through proper fiction writing. No need to force them on readers.

There is no human beings who are “your typical something”, that’s cardboard cutouts. Everybody really is unique.

The protagonist supposed to be your typical “working class hero” fighting dogmas. Class is a dogma, “working class” – double so. There only a tiny sad minority of people who don’t work, some of them spending their time drinking, in front of tv or playing computer games. If you call somebody “working or labouring class” what are you saying? That others don’t work or do not work well enough? That’s wrong. And is the protagonist (being a politician) in a lower tier job or being of low education? Nope. (See Wikipedia: working class – a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs (as measured by skill, education and lower incomes)). Maybe his parents were of working class. But are we defined by our origins (unfair) or our own effort and goodness (fair)? Anyway there is no excuses now for low education, not with internet, tv documentaries and public libraries. Even in 1900s, working at a factory, my great-grandfather managed to self educate and loved to read serious literature.

New Great British Class Survey has some flaws in my opinion too.  Peoples’ lives are changing all the time in many ways. Somebody inherits the money. Somebody skilled and educated has to do a low paid simple job for a while. Somebody loses jobs or property. Somebody gradually educates him or herself and is learning new skills. Somebody lives in an expensive house but doesn’t want to sell it and struggles. Somebody moves to more rural area, can’t go to opera and theaters anymore, looses his connections – does he jumps classes? A “class” sounds almost as permanent as a “caste”.

The worst to come. Reading the book I’ve stumbled upon the notion that global warming is not a big deal, but (o, horror!) there is “rise of Russia and China“… Being both Russian and British citizen I find this offending. I could understand people being worrying if Russia or China are not getting any more democratic, peaceful and open. But, no, they have to stay poor and undeveloped for that “working class politician hero” being happy… This is so nationalist. Well, that’s it for me. Page four and I am completely fed up…

A new customised notebook & floral stamping

In acrylic, art, books, brown, card, crafts, drawing, мои рисунки, flowers, folk art, good life, my artworks, pen, pen and ink on February 22, 2013 at 13:27

image

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So cold at the market today!

Evolution…

In books, religion on September 4, 2012 at 13:58

It has been a couple of years since I gave up my religion but only now I’ve got Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” from a library. I though I already know all that could be said. Apparently not. One case has really infuriated me – and this is what happened in the USA which calls itself a “democracy” (text selected by me):

 “A Christian faith-healer ran a ‘Miracle Crusade’ which came to Mills’s home town once a year. Among other things, the faith-healer encouraged diabetics to throw away their insulin, and cancer patients to give up their chemotherapy and pray for a miracle instead. Reasonably enough, Mills decided to organize a peaceful demonstration to warn people. But he made the mistake of going to the police to tell them of his intention and ask for police protection against possible attacks from supporters of the faith-healer. The first police officer to whom he spoke asked, ‘Is you gonna protest fir him or ‘gin him?’ (meaning for or against the faith-healer). When Mills replied, ‘Against him,’ the policeman said that he himself planned to attend the rally and intended to spit personally in Mills’s face as he marched past Mills’s demonstration. Mills decided to try his luck with a second police officer. This one said that if any of the faith-healer’s supporters violently con- fronted Mills, the officer would arrest Mills because he was ‘trying to interfere with God’s work‘. Mills went home and tried telephoning the police station, in the hope of finding more sympathy at a senior level. He was finally connected to a sergeant who said, ‘To hell with you, Buddy. No policeman wants to protect a goddamned atheist. I hope somebody bloodies you up good.‘ Apparently adverbs were in short supply in this police station, along with the milk of human kindness and a sense of duty. Mills relates that he spoke to about seven or eight policemen that day. None of them was helpful, and most of them directly threatened Mills with violence.”

First I though: “Somebody just have to do something about this situation!” And then my thoughts came to natural selection & evolution. Who is more likely so survive: one who goes to a trained doctor or one who throws away ones medicines and listens to a “faith-healer” instead? And in the countries where they deprive women (50 per sent of population) of education isn’t their potential for new achievements and discoveries halved because of that? And imagine what harm could do denial of evolution in medicine if fanatics take control. 

They may threaten or even harm others but they harm themselves even more. I do feel sorry for their innocent minors and whole naive uneducated brainwashed lot.

Online reading room

In books on February 9, 2012 at 20:04

I’m one of these peope who likes wreking their books with question and exclamation marks, highlighters and notes. It could be fun if people could read free books online together – you either can follow each other’s notes or to see what most peope highlighted with different colors meaning “great”, “rubbish”, etc.

Freedom, ideas and crowds

In books, freedom, philosophy, relationship, religion on August 14, 2011 at 08:17

I’ve started a new project: I collect stories of natural human kindness as opposed to idea-infused cruelty. I would appreciate any suggestions. Initially the idea appeared when an Orthodox Christian lady said to me that she is absolutely sure that non-Christians are incapable of good deeds. She also believed that non-christian souls won’t be saved and at the same time boasted about her “friendship” with pagans. All this seemed so perverted to me yet so typical of fundamentalism (which is the core of any viable religion) – and it eventually helped me to say final goodbye to religion. Another thing was that many religious people commenting my posts in both languages seemed either to judge me most of the time or even tell me what I must think and do. None of my true friends would ever done something like this, be so disrespectful of my freedom.

In the times of riots in Britain, once in the evening, I went to the shops here in Newtown and seen an interesting picture. Four teenagers, 2 girls, 2 boys, white and looking well of, were obviously ready for trouble. Empty yet aggressive faces, hoodies on, throwing traffic cones around. But in the small town like his there just wasn’t enough of them. It is illustrating to me the fact that people feeling themselves as a part of a crowd are losing their normal judgements, “going mad”. Obviously undeveloped brains are more ready for this sort of behaviour.

Both ideas and crowds (mad or organized) can make people cruel against their normal nature. We are born compassionate. It’s a social animal’s instinct. Even hungry rats can’t eat if they see other rats suffer (I thing this is from the book “Wild Justice” if I’m not mistaken). I remember reading a bit of Nazi official’s diary (in the book “What Is Good?”). He was organizing death camps or something like this but when he went to inspect what he’s done he felt terrified, he couldn’t bear that. Yet he didn’t repent: the Nazi idea and complacence to the authorities were stronger.

I thing the idea that people are born sinners, bad, cruel, homo homini lupus est, etc. leeds to a distorted world view. Being good is more about both going to you “roots” (natural empathy) and thinking free with a clear independent mind unclouded by invasive ideas (mems).

Fellow-passengers

In books, moral issues, religion on September 30, 2010 at 19:18

Reading Dickens. Don’t want ever call anybody a heretic. All of us make mistakes. Constantly. Don’t want to call anybody evil. There is good in every person. And we all are just “fellow-passengers to the grave“…

Back in Britain

In about me, books, summer, transport, travel on September 3, 2010 at 12:43

We’ve just returned from 1.5 month holidays near Moscow, Russia. It was incredibly hot most of the time (+37 C) and very smoky because of distant peat fires. So we had to hide indoors. I’ve only managed to do a few sketches outside in the mornings but have been happy reading (Van Gogh, M. Bulgakov, V. Livanov, Dostoevsky) in cool underground sauna…

We also had few very strong storms, hazelnut-size hale and my favourite fir tree I admired from my childhood falling down (but not in our garden). The August meteor shower was quite spectacular this year.

On the way back, flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham (Lufthansa), we had to land very fast (which was a bit scary) in Brussels because the air pressure have been falling in the cabin. We’ve been told we were 30 sec from oxygen masks dropping down. It took four hours to fix and test the plane, then we resumed our journey home. Neither me nor my husband flying most of our lives ever experienced something like this. Kids and lots of other passengers had bad earaches.

Now kids are back to school, me I’m cooking, going to my exercise group and thinking about painting… Back to business!

Crime and Punishment

In books, moral issues, politics, religion on August 25, 2009 at 07:25

I hear around me lots of angry voices about alMeghari early release (e.g. look here:Lockerbie Bomber Treated Like a Hero)
Just want to write down few thoughts.

Sadly, whatever you do to this person (IF he committed the crime indeed) won’t return the victims from the dead. They don’t need any revenge. I do not really believe in Government’s compassion (sorry) so I realise that its just a political game. But I also think that compassion can’t be inappropriate.

People call for more punishment and I hear them (without realising this) begging for some medieval torture. Imprisonment is a mild torture too, but we need it, first – to show the criminal and everybody else that what he’s done, we think, IS a crime, and second, to prevent the criminal from re-offending and endangering more lives. Eight years in prison and terminal illness did that.

Also in any case we never can be sure for 100 per cent if we caught the right person (that’s one reason why death penalty is evil). The only possible punishment may be imposed by the persons own conscience.

Absolute justice (from a human hand) is impossible. If somebody killed many people we can’t kill him back many times. We only can help him realise what he has done and prevent him from doing this again. And if God would punish us for all our crimes: committed, dreamed or only possible in future… Who would be left?

And also there is another thought: have all mass-murderers been punished “properly”? What about Colonel Paul Tibbets who killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima? “Tibbets expressed no regret regarding the decision to drop the bomb. In a 1975 interview he said: “I sleep clearly every night.” You say he followed the orders? The same they say about that Libyan, I’m sure. And what about former terrorists from Northern Ireland?

I think the only way to battle evil is to live with love and compassion. Any anger, calls for revenge, torture and executions only make things worse (here I agree with “Surprised by Hope” by Tom Wright which I am reading at the moment).

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