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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.

Instead of “hello”

In about me, ethics, politics, relationship, russian, xenophobia on December 5, 2013 at 12:47

Imagine you ask somebody which country they are from originally (I probably wouldn’t as some people may not want to speak about this or they may feel upset that they accent shows). Imagine you have got some kind of reply. Would you then rushed into saying that oh, yes, you heard about that country,  it’s well known for (pick from the list) evil government,  racism, slavery, crime, bureaucracy,  obesity, poverty, injustice, unemployment, etc?

Similar conversions happened  to me twice last week. People honestly expect to maintain friendly conversation started with these accusations. I do love to criticise my native Russia when appropriate.  But  when strangers are talking to me in this manner it is like being held responsible for all negative news stories or just pure propaganda is completely different. Another thing that drives me mad is when strangers start to treat me as a zoo animal,  discussing my cheekbones, shape of the face or accent.

I thought that after 15 years living abroad I would get used to that. Apparently not. I still feel afraid to talk to stangers.

Union or divorce

In freedom, history, people, politics, relationship on December 2, 2013 at 20:48

Whatever the outcome, it is a sad picture when a country splits apart. On the emotional level, I am happy for Germany, reunited. I am happy that more countries join EU, even if there are some troubles and worries. I am happy for Switzerland which keeps its national unity even if its people speak different languages. It feels like a wedding or a long happy marriage. I am not so happy for Yugoslavia or Russia/Belarus/Ukraine, where most people spoke very similar languages, had similar history but they failed to stay together. Divorce is always a failure – even a civilized one (as long as we treat life long marriage as a positive thing).

When a country splits there are family, friend and business connections torn apart. Customs and visas may creep in, different laws, currencies, different holidays. There often a nasty stench of aggressive nationalism involved.

I think more personal and regional independence but more national (but not ethnically nationalist) unity is the step forward – not multiplying governments, boundaries, checkpoints, and bureaucracy.

In history, philosophy, politics on August 10, 2013 at 19:30

“Whereas the hard power of bullets and bayonets can win battles, it is only soft power that can win wars” – A. C. Grayling

Free speech

In freedom, philosophy, politics, religion on May 27, 2013 at 18:01

“Democracy requires debate and challenge,  the rule of law requires the right to be heard in court, genuine education requires questioning and access to information. Without free speech none of these things are possible.  Something the price of the free speech is offence, but “feeling offended” can never justify censorship.” A.C. Grayling

Recent sketches

In art, drawing, весна, взаимоотношения, мои рисунки, мораль, отношения, ethics, floral, flower, flowers, freedom, good life, moral issues, my artworks, свобода, творчество, painting, pastel, pen, pen and ink, politics, relationship, spring, t-shirt on May 26, 2013 at 09:54

A bee one I’ve started while in the Galleries Live in Telford

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And some sketches for greeting cards and t-shirts

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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…

Some thoughts on small towns’ centers decline

In 1990s, city, eco-friendly, good life, politics, powys, russian, shopping, traditions on March 24, 2013 at 08:52

About a year ago I went  to Norfolk and lost my gloves. It was bitterly cold, my hands always get cracked in these conditions so I went to several shops trying to buy new gloves or mittens. They look at me as they never heard about items of clothing like that.  Apparently they wouldn’t sell them till next winter…

Yesterday (deep wet show on the ground) I desperately needed new snow boots and, again, to my surprise, met the very surprised look. Fortunately for me a kind lady working in the shop went to storage and fetched some boots for me. Why there is attitude like that? It is often cold and still could snow in March and April, so why are they not interested in making money and helping people? I often feel that the economic trouble in this country is to some extent to do with apathy.

Many are worried about decline of Newtown  now. People don’t want to buy anything apart from bare necessities. Some blame supermarkets. But I am looking at my neighbours at the market and in the area – small business owners – and supermarkets have nothing to do with their struggle. Tesco don’t sell craft supplies, vine making supplies, handmade arts and crafts, etc. The lady who sells bread and eggs here always has customers despite all supermarkets sell similar food too. Supermarkets help people – me and the family, we wouldn’t survive without their cheep food, home deliveries and large variety of items. So don’t blame them, please. Don’t blame charity shops either – they actually help people on both ends. I lived through a crisis in Moscow in 90s without any charity shops and it was tough.

Because of insecurity people are very carefull about their shopping. And lots of shops are getting closed. But, think about that: who really needed 10 clothes shops in a little town? And mostly selling very similar items too. It is boom which was crazy – not bust. It is getting back to some normality now, in my opinion. People used to buy new items when the old ones were still perfectly OK and that was wrong. It is not realistic to hope for this situation to go on forever. It is not sustainable.

Rather than trying to compete with supermarkets and Internet, I think the town centers should become something completely different to survive. Shops and cafes should be truly unique. Rents should be lower. The council should also partly sponsor all sorts of local groups and clubs to have outlets here – making town centers the places where people came to socialize, not just shop. Benches to sit (protected from the rain) and more playgrounds would help too. More security against vandals, drunks and hooligans. After living in Moscow it surprised me how early everything shut down here – apart from pubs. Because of this town centers are not very nice place to be in the evenings. I don’t think this is right. Longer shop opening hours and the town not being completely dead on Sundays would bring more life on the streets. I think, it could be done, unless we all are just drowned in apathy…

 

Religious “love”

In ethics, history, moral issues, people, philosophy, politics, relationship, religion, traditions on February 26, 2013 at 08:11
Lahore, Feb 21: A Pakistani court has begun hearing a petition seeking the reopening of an 84-year-old case in which a court under the British administration had given the death sentence to Ghazi Ilamuddin for murdering a Hindu writer named Raj Pal.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial heard arguments by the petitioner’s counsel on the maintainability of the plea yesterday and adjourned the case till March 14.

Ilamuddin killed Raj Pal for allegedly committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and was sentenced to death by British judges of the Lahore High Court in 1929.

Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi of the “Save the Judiciary Committee” has filed the petition for reopening the case and exonerating Ilamuddin.

Farooq Hasan, the counsel for Qureshi, argued Raj Pal had included blasphemous material in his book and had “invited his death“.

He said: “Ghazi Ilamudin had no personal grudge with Pal and acted only out of love for the Prophet like a true Muslim.

Hasan requested the court to set aside the impugned order by exercising the principle of review.

Qureshi asked the court to direct authorities to honour Ilamuddin with state awards.

He also requested the court to direct the government to arrange a state funeral for Ilamuddin after declaring him “not guilty”.

You may think this is possible only in Pakistan and so on. Wrong. I have heard a person calling himself an Orthodox Christian saying “O, Lord, forgive us: we forgot how to die and kill for our faith”.

Remember the trial of  Pussy riot.  The patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill I, and Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church (Russia’s “Great Inquisitor”) condemned Pussy Riot’s actions as “blasphemous“, the patriarch was saying that the “Devil has laughed at all of us … We have no future if we allow mockery in front of great shrines, and if some see such mockery as a sort of bravery, an expression of political protest, an acceptable action or a harmless joke.”[65] 

Years in prison because somebody thinks they offended his imaginary friendHere a typical Orthodox fanatic says “no mercy” to them.

Remember the witches. There is no magic, of course, but christians are still afraid of it. “Witchcraft is dangerous“… You don’t find apologies to innocent ladies burned by priests here. Read the rest of this entry »

An Article in the local newspaper & TOK

In about me, acrylic, art, интернет, мои рисунки, музыка, наука, обо мне, ethics, music, my artworks, творчество, politics, religion on February 20, 2013 at 08:25

From a local newspaper “County Times” about the Festival. Me & Ian Anderson portrait on the bottom right

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Recent comments

Space shuttle takes final flight. Where should NASA’s manned missions go now?

First, base on the Moon, then – on Mars. If Earth is hit by a big asteroid an independent colony is a chance for survival.

Meteor crash and asteroid near-miss: Should we invest to defend planet?

Of course. It is one of the biggest real threats to our civilisation.

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