They Do It Over There But We Don’t Do It Here

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more about “How Swedish MPs handle expenses“, posted with vodpod

The Beeb looks at how Sweden, known as probably Europe’s most transparent democracy manage their own MPs expenses and accommodation needs. Whilst watching the report I kept saying to myself ‘ah but how much is their salary’ and it turns out it’s on par with our own UK politicians.So no excuses then?

OK, I’m never sure how useful it is to examine how other cultures do things especially when it would take a sea change in our own culture sometimes to achieve the same though it’s probably a useful yardstick for the ideal (wanders off to daydream of the ideal).

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It’s great when you’re straight

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more about “It’s great when you’re straight“, posted with vodpod

This report from More4 news covers the news that a significant minority of qualified psychotherapists and psychiatrists had admitted to attempting to ‘cure’ or re-orientate their gay and lesbian clients.
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Lottocracy

lottocracy1Thought it might be interesting to offer up some of the proposed alternatives to the democratic political systems currently in place (wake up!). Alternative forms of political structures have long fascinated me and it’s good to know that alternatives albeit mostly untried wait in the wings though heaven knows it would take the total collapse of our present system (*whistles in the dark*) before any of them were tried.

Lottocracy is a variation of Demarchy where elections, politicians and civil servants are replaced by a form of jury service for political office (I describe it far too simplistically no doubt). The case for Demarchy is  put here by John Burnheim:

“The most common complaint against contemporary liberal democracies is the remoteness of the decision-makers from those affected by decisions…

The attempt to give more power to the people ends in tyranny over the people just as the attempt to exclude tyranny keeps the people from exercising power in the things that matter most…

Whilst Lottocracy is fleshed out by L.León here

I’ll share a few more in future blog posts (admit it, you can’t wait can you?)

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Making Our Own Choices

greenshootsHumans make arbitrary choices, influenced by “leaders”… but do other animals? A Cambridge team ran an experiment with groups of meerkats, and landmarks indicating the location of food. The animals did follow… but started making their own choices if the leaders led them to food-less sites.

Any sign of that happening for us yet?

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Photo by Gary Turner under this creative commons license

Throw Another Scapegoat On The Fire

Should Mums stay at home?

Is a mother's place at home?

Torturing myself reading the BBC’s ‘Have your Say’ is my equivalent of picking at an open wound but it’s a self imposed reality check that reminds me that an awful lot of people have some very dubious different viewpoints. This one is an exception in a sea of frankly worrying retrograde drivel. The question, in my humble opinion, is a loaded one as it just cries out for a scapegoat. I’m no defender of bad parenting but as this comment points out, we’re in danger of focusing on one small aspect of a society that forces all kinds of less than satisfactory life decisions.

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Week Experience

It’s the small events that colour in the large spaces between the more obviously significant moments in our lives.Sights and sounds absorbed in passing can leave a lasting impression of the immediate world around us.

Chemical Bouquet

This week I have been mostly smelling…aircraft fuel. This was something more common in my childhood but its been hanging in the air a lot over the past seven days and in that odd way that we get to associate good feelings with the smell of hot tarmac, bonfires, cut grass or a certain scent that you associate with a lost loved one, I find the smell of aviation fuel in the air somehow evokes pleasant feelings.

Nomads

Where I live there is a running cat and mouse game with ‘gypsy’ travellers who occupy areas of local grassland for short periods before the due process of the law moves them on, only for them to return after a brief tour around the many other small pockets of greenery around town.

The council has started placing wooden fencing around many of the most popular areas which now sees the traveller pick ever small grass areas for occupation , now in pairs rather than in a larger group of six or more mobile homes. Just around the corner a communal area of grass with trees is now used by two families of travellers each owning a dog and a chicken (which live in their own chicken house) and a clothes line tied between the clumps of conifer trees for drying clothes. The sound of a portable generator permeates the suburban calm.Within days all that will be left will be various piles of discarded refuse where they once were. The council will dispose of this and if there is no money to fence this area off they will soon return. Nomads of the suburbs.

Strimming In Infinity

My parents live about two and a half miles away from us.It’s within walking distance and along the way this week I saw a young woman strimming furiously around her over grown front lawn accompanied by the highly amplified sounds of Robbie Williams singing ‘Angels’. A curious assault on the senses.

Cassette Culture Nostalgia

Also close to my parents is a closed down petrol station boarded up and awaiting redevelopment.The white hoarding around the area seems to have become attractive to graffiti artists who seem less inclined to paint their gang names in multi coloured spray paints but to apply their own personal branding images promoting the url of their respective MySpace web page. One such personal advert features an elaborate audio compact cassette logo. A now defunct retro cassette image by someone surely so young that the real article must have played only a fleeting part of their young lives.

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Allo John Got Fuel For Ya Motor?

Have your say

Another succinct HYS comment summing up the growing shortage of fuel caused by a combination of the tanker drivers strike and media duelled panic buying that is probably producing a very predictable outcome.

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