chaletian: (mp god)
Having read a series of articles about religion, I went off on a tangent with a little thought about universal morality, or, at any rate, the idea of morality requiring a God.

Unsurprisingly, I don't subscribe to this view, and I will admit to finding it strange that some people are genuinely puzzled by the concept of morality as distinct from any religion, but how does it work? When there is a world full of different religions with differing moral codes (and, indeed, differing moral codes even within the same religion), how can one blithely assume that, natch, God presented man with the rules for living? Is it just a natural by-product of the belief in one's own religion and its corollary that all other religions are wrong? But what about, say, people who work on the basis that the Christian, Jewish and Muslim "God" are all basically the same thing? Because I'm fairly sure that those religions do not have identical moral/social beliefs.

And if morality (for Christians) is based on the word of God which, by my understanding, is what is writ in yon Bible, what about all the stuff that lots of people don't pay attention to any more? All that stuff in Leviticus about stoning people and selling people and different skins? Was that not the word of God? Does God not care about certain things very much, that people can ignore them? And, fine, standards change. But then, surely, it's man deciding what morals should be, not God. Or do we look to our respective churches to tell us which of God's words we listen to and which we ignore? Do they decide our morals?
chaletian: (darwin)
My Yahoo!Mail homepage is set up to show me Entertainment News, which is usually hilariously unnewsworthy (except for that time Eminem got back from the MTV awards after being HUMILIATED NIGH UNTO DEATH OMG WOE WOE by Sacha Baron Cohen, to find his hotel room had been burgled), but last night, apparently, one of the headlines was about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher supporting the Iranians protesting against the election result.

And I was thinking thusly: Yay. I too support them. Down on corrupt elections. And then I started thinking about the protests in Iran, and how those people are doing their best to ensure Iran has a fair and free election, which leads to the question, how far do you get to go in pursuit of that?

It is a faded truism to say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but I think it poses an interesting question nonetheless. How far can you go in pursuit of a political aim before you reach the stage where the end no longer justifies the means. A protest is OK, right? But what happens if someone’s hurt, or killed? Or what about doing the hurting or killing yourself? That’s too far, isn’t it? But if you live in a country where there are few political freedoms, how else do you get your voice heard, in that country and in the world? Is it acceptable for a few innocent people to die if it means the end of a regime that’s murdered tens or hundreds or more? On a personal level, you’d say no, but looking at the bigger picture, well, maybe?

I don’t know. But it’s interesting to think about things like this.
chaletian: (dls you)
I was interested to read this article about censorship in today's Guardian - I think everyone else should read it too, because it highlights some important issues. The troubling concept of self-censorship also came up a while ago; some of you may remember Katie and me attending a platform on the subject at the National and writing about it at length. All very interesting.

Also, we're going to see Ed Byrne tonight, and saw Mark Watson last week, which was highly entertaining. Yay stand-up, frankly. And we're going to see Russell Howard in November(and Tim Minchin again next month), so that's all quite exciting.

* Ooh, check it out, a relevant and yet comic post title... it's like a tiny miracle, floating down from heaven...
chaletian: (margo)
This morning I was idly glancing across at my neighbour’s copy of Metro, and noticed a couple of bits about David Miliband. Apparently, he’s been heaping praise upon Gordon Brown at the Labour Party Conference and being all smiley and stuff. Ah, I thought cynically, nice try; position yourself as the nice chap, get some press coverage, and then disclaim politely when the rebel element in your party propose you as the new leader, before graciously agreeing. Anyway, Miliband was going on about Brown’s contribution to international development policy etc, and I thought (in my mind), you know what, I don’t have a clue about half the stuff the Government’s done, because it doesn’t really interest me. I keep track of the things that *do* interest me, but a lot of stuff I don’t bother about, and I imagine lots of people are the same.

And the thing is, give me late C19th British politics, and I can give you chapter and verse (please note: this is actually a lie. Ten years ago I could have done; not any more) on the people and the legislation and the political shenanigans and the ins and outs of the various groups and parties. I knew what happened when, and who was involved. I knew (insofar as anyone could) why people chose the actions they did, and why they supported the legislation that they did. We can build up such a clear idea of it all, not only from books, but from the press of the day, and Hansard, and private correspondence and diaries and all that. It’s funny to think that a hundred years hence, people will have a better understanding of the politics of our day than we do ourselves.

Also, moving on from that, how much are we at the mercy of the press? Really, all we know is what they tell us. And you can manipulate that a bit by choosing your sources of information, but only a little bit. It’s slightly freaky. Huh. Anyway, that’s today’s thought of the day.

In other news, I have a couple of genius links to share (that will have already been on some people’s flists, but whatevs):

Barack Obama chats to Jed Bartlet, courtesy of Aaron Sorkin

Hamlet’s Facebook

Simon Pegg writes the end of Spaced

Also, it has been brought to my attention that I do not have a tag for Katie. Please do not think FOR ONE TINY SECOND that this does not mean she is not AS IMPORTANT AS GOD. Clearly, she is. I just don’t bother to tag her as it would be a little redundant given that she appears in practically EVERY POST EVER. Glad we’ve cleared that up. *g*
chaletian: (p+p lydia)
♥ Katie and I are both so unfeasibly awesome that I don't fully understand how there is not a TEAR IN THE FABRIC OF SPACE each time we are in the same room.

♥ Just had some scrambled eggs for tea. They were of a good vintage. Also had pink milk. Is there anything so glorious in the pantheon of possible drinks? I don't think so. Challenge me as you will, nothing will defeat pink milk!

♥ Played online scrabble with Emma for quite a long time this afternoon (I was triumphant; unfazed as I was by her constant stream of invective and abuse, all a pathetic attempt to out-psych me. Pah I say to that!), which was fun.

♥ We are now watching Phantom of the Opera. Now, I don't want to put myself out on a critical limb here, but I think it is possible - nay, almost certain - that this is the most ludicrous film ever committed to celluloid. Christine Daaé belongs in some kind of home for the terminally bewildered. Phantom needs a psychiatrist. Minnie Driver is awesome, and I want to play that part. I can't remember if I said at the time, but I was devastated on going to see Ben in Il Trovatore at Holland Park, when I discovered that the job most suited to me was in fact that of an opera singer. Think about, mes chers. Lolling round on stage, being as melodramatic as possible, wearing big dresses, the focus of all: it's perfect for me. I think it might actually be ONE OF THE MOST TRAGIC THINGS IN THE WORLD that I cannot sing a note.

♥ Apparently people are coming round to dinner tomorrow. Maybe I should possibly give some thought to that. Maybe I should think of a menu. Maybe (not to go crazy) I should acquire some food from somewhere. (Fret not: I was thinking some sort of food emporium, rather than peering into dustbins or poking around gutters.)

♥ In re my previously unposted thoughts re fundamental subjectivity of universe etc, I have apparently written about it before here and here. Lots of rambly bollocks, as far as I can make out.

♥ No more Bill Bailey in Buzzcocks. :-(

♥ We also, incidentally, watched the latest episode of Lost in Austen, which I am loving a great deal and also a lot.
chaletian: (percy lj)
With the introduction of Twitter (it’s ace), life in the love nest has reached a whole new level of ridiculousness, whereby one of us will post an inane comment and the other, sitting about 80cm away, will get a text message about it. On Wednesday, we went to see Wall-E (OMG so, so lovely, everyone should go and see it RIGHT NOW), and on the way home got near simultaneous and identical texts about the fact that we were once again sitting behind Balding!Quiff!Man on the bus.

Anyway, so, other things of note. A motley crew of us are dashing off to the beach tomorrow somewhere in the vicinity of Chichester (someone remind me why it is we go so far away?!), as is becoming something of a summer tradition. Last year we got rained off, and had to have a picnic-in-the-car (always a joy) and this time we are on tenterhooks as to the likely weather. Why, why, why do meteorologists remain so rubbish at predicting the weather? Surely it can’t be that hard…

Had a little dinner party on Tuesday, which was nice. We ate lasagne and pavlova and drank wine and listened to some more of Helen’s tax party stories – a mainstay of any social function, we are finding. All vee nice anyway, though, Helen, you left behind the book Katie borrowed. And tonight, we are off to the National to see Her Naked Skin, which is about wimmin and such.

Incidentally, I recently read Rousseau’s Discourses on the Arts and Sciences, which only served to demonstrate what a mentalist he was. Currently reading A Dissertation on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind, which likewise. The only thing I remember about Rousseau from studying the Enlightenment in the course of A-level history was a random quote that I found: “Rousseau could ennoble a piece of cheese.” I do not dispute this. He is quite mad enough to have done so, providing it was a savage, uncivilised cheese which lived a life of rustic simplicity and didn’t think too much… so, really, he was probably very fond of cheese. It’s interesting, though, because beneath the crap he does make some interesting points, but it’s so frustrating and anger-inducing reading all the fluff about how great Sparta was because they were all, OK, Spartan, and how rubbish civilisations get when they start arsing around with art and science and trying to know stuff. Frex: “our souls have become corrupted to the extent that our sciences and our arts have advanced towards perfection.” Has a beef with “vain knowledge” (I thought people had got over that whole thing by the mid C18th?) and a desperate longing for “happy ignorance” in a “rustic nation.” Meh. Whatever. As I said, he does have the odd point buried in there, but mostly, I diskard it.

TV is coming back soon!!!! SGA has already returned, and the others will be back soon! Very excited by this. I ♥ TV. With regard to my latest obsession (still incredibly excited about having discovered A WHOLE NEW MEDIUM), have read: Batman Year One, Marvel 1602, Runaways (to date), The Umbrella Academy, Jack of Fables, Invincible vols 1 and 2, and have nearly finished the first vol of Sandman. Probably some other stuff too that I can’t remember off the top of my head. I ♥ comics.

Have booked a table at Giraffe for my birthday – w00t! Also, am having my eyebrows tinted Monday week, which is quite exciting, but I have to remember to go into Kingston on Sunday (boo) for a sensitivity test. Bum.
chaletian: (bard r&j fuck it)
[ profile] katie__pillar and I finally went to see Howard Brenton's In Extremis at the Globe last night (in the rain and yes, of course, we were groundling it). I've been waiting to see this play for ages, as I managed to miss it last year. It was *brilliant* - funny and clever in that best way possible. I loved Bernard of Clairvaux's utter looniness, but also his absolute belief that he was right (and blimey the monks at Clairvaux! One chap comes out, shows two visitors a nail through his hand, and says he hopes Jesus will be pleased!). And LOL at the nun who had watched Heloise and Abelard on the altar at the convent telling the other nuns what they had been doing (there were reenactments - comedy gold). And *shudders* at the whole castration thing (I hid behind Katie). And it was so sad when Bernard came to reconcile with Abelard (oh, I also loved the cycnicism that they all had for Bernard and his 'life story'), and Abelard tried to make him see that what they had both taught didn't matter, it was enough that they had tried to do good, and couldn't Bernard see that (he couldn't). Bernard accused Abelard of having no faith left in his humanity; Abelard replied that Bernard had no humanity in his faith.

The one thing that struck me as interesting, actually, was that Abelard's use of Aristotle's texts as a platform for exploring theology was seen as dangerous and wrong la la la and Bernard's mysticism was seen as, for many, more acceptable. And yet Aristotelian scholasticism became the Church's method of teaching for centuries, until it in turn became restrictive and out of date, trying to curtail scientific endeavour. It's actually a fascinating perspective on human nature. The old school (as exemplified by William of Champeaux, Abelard's teacher), believed in the usual you cannot know God or his works; humans are not built to understand it; you shouldn't enquire too closely; a desire for knowledge is merely personal vanity - Abelard didn't believe this, he believed that you *could* know; that God must have made humans so that they could know. Logic and reason were the ways forward. Fast forward five hundred years, and the situation is *exactly* the same, only scholasticism has become the entrenched repressor, and modern science has taken over as the voice of reason.

New ideas are formed all the time, and when they are good ideas we can eventually listen and make them part of our lives. But we cannot trust ourselves to remain open. We cannot trust the authorities which govern us to remain flexible, or even to remain true to the ideas they have accepted, instead reverting to old behaviours, while the new ideas are moulded so that they agree with the old ones. We can't bend to every new theory that comes along, perhaps, but maybe it is sensible to keep an eye open and make sure that we aren't becoming more hidebound that necessary.

Anyway, yes, the Globe rules. I love it. It's such a wonderful atmosphere to have in a theatre, so much more engaging than the usual theatres. Genius. I would encourage people to see In Extremis but, hmm, we saw the last performance. But hey, if it ever comes you way, go and see it!

Katie and I got v damp, and v tired, and were v v giggly. As usual, in fact. Ah, the PF. It is yea verily the home of mirth. Now we are off to Hammersmith for to do some shopping.

Ooh, and we had a genius, genius badge idea. We rock.

And we have appliances fitted in FT. Lovely. The gas man very helpfully showed us How To Turn The Cooker On. And also How To Turn A Hob On. We were grateful.

I have painted my fourth wall. *g*
chaletian: (iron mittens)
I did a meme on [ profile] xanantha’s journal, and one of the questions was about my philosophy on life. Which is a pretty good question I think (unlike the inevitable and annoying “Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full type person?”), and so I thought I would tell everyone about the Squeenly Philosophy of Life™.

You all know (well, probably most of you know), I am not religious. I do not believe in God. God may or may not exist, I don’t know, but I don’t believe he does. I believe the world is as it appears. I believe people are physical entities which are born, live and eventually die. I don’t believe in the concept of a soul as distinct from our bodies: I believe our personalities, what makes us us, is just the result of the electrical impulses of our brains processing our experiences. When we die, we die. That’s that. Game over. Our bodies are destroyed, and the world goes on. I don’t believe in any kind of heaven/after-life/whatever. There is no higher plane of existence to which we should aspire. Life isn’t a passing phase, a test, something you have to get through before you hit the good stuff. As Hannah says, “if the answers are in the back of the book, I can wait” – I don’t think there are any answers (or a back of the book, for that matter). All we can do is to make the most of our lives, because that’s all there is. What is the point in striving for greatness in life, if that’s not what it’s all about?

I hate the idea of fate, or pre-determination. So, yes, if you could understand the world and everyone in it, maybe you could predict the future, so really there is no freedom of choice blah blah blah, but you know what? Nobody can understand the world and everyone in it, so the point is moot. I still make the decisions I make: I still decide what path my future will take. If it’s inevitable, so what? I don’t know that. I still make my decisions not knowing how they will eventually turn out. I dislike the idea of people palming off the consequences of their own decisions with “it’s fate,” or “this was always going to happen,” and blaming some higher entity for what they have done themselves. I don’t believe in abrogating responsibility for my actions to anyone else.

I believe in social rules (the Ten Commandments being an obvious example from my own religious background), but I don’t believe they were handed down from on high, because that implies that we can’t think of these things for ourselves. Human beings can and do know the difference between right and wrong; we can formulate our own social rules; we can see how best to organise society so we can all rub along (just because this doesn’t happen doesn’t mean we can’t work out what should be done in theory). We are not given these rules but then must be punished like naughty children when they go wrong (flood!God, I’m looking at you…): we can decide for ourselves, and take the consequences when they happen.
chaletian: (p+p mr collins shelves)
1. Happy Birthday, [ profile] pim2005!!! Hope you have a nice day, and life isn’t too annoying.

2. Supernatural should be, as we speak, downloading away. I am foolishly, foolishly, looking forward to this week’s episode. What with the boys being in prison last week, and this week’s, it’s like all our fangirl dreams have come true…

3. Went to see HIGNFY being filmed last night, which is always joyous. Some moments of genius, none of which I can now remember, obviously (although LOL at the warm-up woman’s “What? You don’t speak Latin? Oh, that worked on so many levels….”)

4. I read an essay by Orwell (Politics and the English Language) on the way to work, about, well, politics. And the English language. Oddly. It was very interesting, espesh with the parallels with modern political speechifying/punditry. Huh. Would recommend – I think I’ve seen it about online somewhere – think there might be a link from his Wikipedia page (incidentally, how much is Wikipedia just the best site ever?).

5. I know the fate of the leadership of the Labour Party is more or less writ in stone, and Tony Blair has pretty much announced that Gordon Brown will be the next PM (heee, they showed a clip of him addressing some people, and he so clearly didn’t want to have to say it, v funny). Still, call me a hopeless idealist, but can’t they even *try* to keep up the pretence that the party will vote on it? Preserve some of our out-moded democratic ideals? Maybe?

6. Katie and I are clearly psychic. Oh yes.

7. I am very, very broke at the moment, and have been all year, basically. It’s rather unsettling. Just as I think I’ve taken everything into account with my budgeting etc, some giant new thing appears that I have to pay, and it’s so *demoralizing*. How do I manage to be so crap? *Theoretically* in a month or so I should be back to normal, but I’m actually rather pessimistic about this being the case. *lesigh* Once again with the hating of the filthy lucre. And myself, for being so hopeless at coping with it.
chaletian: (svh jess flirts)
1. I don’t know if any of you have been blessed with seeing any of the posters/trailers for Eddie Murphy’s latest film, Norbit. Which looks like it might possibly raise a grin or two if you have absolutely nothing to do for an hour and a half. But it makes me cross because what is with the film industry? What is so fucking wrong with being overweight? Why are only thin women film stars, and fat women (or frankly, fairly normal women) destined to remain the comedy value or the Best Friend? Why, for that matter, are we all so hung up on appearance? I am who I am in my head; what I look like on the outside doesn’t really have a great deal to do with it. Whether I am a good or bad person, whether I am mean or generous, funny or serious, clever or stupid, liberal or reactionary: NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with how I look.

2. OMFG. Heroes. The love continues unabated. And now we have hiatus for SIX WEEKS!!! Katie and I hate America now. All we have to cope with in England is a couple of weeks here and there for Wimbledon and snooker…

3. Woohoo – today is my Friday! We’re off to the Full Mooners gig tonight, which is jolly exciting, and tomorrow I have off, which is always a pleasant prospect. But my room (well, both of them) is such a fucking tip that I should probably sort it out. And I need to find the ICL student union office to buy Arcadia tickets, so I will probably do that on Saturday.

4. Guides on Tuesday went off pretty well. When we pack the programme as full as possible, we manage to keep more control over them. They finished off their ‘pennies for pencils’ things (to raise money for Guides in the Ukraine, where a bunch of people are going in the summer to run camps for the Guides there), and then we were preparing things for the Brownie meeting next week. I had them cutting out templates for little boxes for the Brownies to make and decorate (have to find out how many we’ll be having, and check that we have glue etc – fortunately discovered a stash of sticky-back felt in the cupboard, so we can use that to decorate, though I still want to get some sparkly bits as well), Hannah taught them lashing to pass on to the Brownies, and Keira had them making up questions for a running quiz. All the Guides managed pretty well, though L got sent out during notices for being disruptive. M was uber-keen as usual, though Hannah had to tell her off for trying to take over when someone else was doing the lashing. N seemed to actually be back at her normal self, which was a nice change. O also seems to be quite keen (she’s the one who’s just come up from Brownies), though she’s still quite shy about joining in with the others. We sang Thunderation, which they all enjoyed, and we will do it with the Brownies next week. Yoicks. I do love Guides, even though it’s a bit hard work.

5. Jericho was on last night, so it is downloading away. *g* I rang Katie this morning to ask her to find a DL, but she had beaten me to it. The girl’s a downloading guru. But yes, I am hoping for more Stimi. It is my Jericho OTP. Oh, and I was amused and a little bewildered to discover that my Jericho ‘fic’ (yes, that would be the one that was about three lines long) managed to find its way onto the Jericho news comm, espesh when, unusually for me, I had not pimped it anywhere (what with it being about three lines long and not particularly good). Huh.

6. I am reading a very interesting book at the moment, called Confederates in the Attic, about Southern attitudes to the Civil War (sorry, War Between the States or even War of Northern Aggression *g*), which I would highly recommend. Obviously when it comes to the more fact-based reasons behind the war (slavery, essentially), you kind of have to go with the Union on that one, but in terms of the principles of state power over federal power, it’s quite interesting to look at the dynamic there: I remember reading in a Bill Bryson book once about how the whole union of states thing was a bit woolly at first (nobody was particularly keen about signing the constitution, frex), and it’s interesting to consider that the states in the 1860s didn’t necessarily think of themselves first and foremost as ‘American’, and more ‘Carolinian’, or whatever. I think it would be worthwhile researching further, and I may do so.

7. Rah. I always reach my seventh thing and find I have nothing else to say. We had lasagna leftovers last night. Yum. Buzzcocks was very funny.
chaletian: (gq british)
Once again, see how I have not updated in a while. Helas. I shall do so now. Obviously. (Apologies for giant post.)

Le Weekend )

Incidentally, on that theme, does anyone remember a TV series from the very late 90s (or maybe very early 00s): a courtroom drama type thing that was an American import (aren’t they all?). I think it only ran for about one season, and was very cynical about the justice system. I seem to recall one plotline about a woman who was divorcing her husband and there was contention over the pre-nuptial agreement, which was resolved when it was proved that she had been lying about her age for years and had in fact been under 18 when she signed the agreement, so it was unvalid. Or was it the children? And she got the children, only it was completely the wrong decision because she was a complete bitch and they were heartbroken at having to leave their father. Is this ringing bells for anyone?

And on a comedy note, has anyone seen the new poster ads for Virgin trains in the tube (or anywhere else, for that matter)? The general idea seems to be “Virgin trains: give you time to think”. I love how they’re trying to make being chronically unpunctual into a positive. Bless them.

I did the prize enigma thing in this month’s Prospect. Get me. I usually look at it and go pah, but this time it was straightforward algebra: the trick is always formulating the right equations with the information given. Nice bit of quadratic equation followed by simple substitution – you’ve got to love it. Have actually emailed answer in. Feel accomplished.

Civil Liberties v. Government Control )

I, Human )

The Theatre Month )
chaletian: (Default)
Ah, more pseudo-philosophical ramblings...

Further to my earlier musings, is it possible to have an objective world at all? If every person experiences life through their own lenses, making it uniquely their own and not shared with any other, is there such a thing as ‘the world’? Because who would be aware of it? If no one can see it (and I use ‘see’ loosely), can it be said to exist, or is just a theoretical construct to bring together otherwise separate individuals? You can walk part someone on the road, but if no-one notices, it has not happened. You do not notice, so it is not part of your world. He has not noticed so it is not part of his. If there is no-one else to record it, then it cannot be said to have happened.

Is it possibly that such a thing as the Truth exists, independently of any individuals?
chaletian: (Default)
Surely if we perceive something to be so, it is so in our world. Does that mean each individual inhabits a different world; that no two people can truly claim to exist in the same world; that they exist merely in their own world and their cipher is a guest in other people’s? My world cannot be truly shared with any other, for though I can explain shallow concepts and visions, they will never be seen with the same eyes and processed with the same electrical impulses. Objects and conversations take on a different meaning according to each person’s own ideas and understanding and experiences. To claim that when one looks at a tree or a building or the sea one sees the same as everyone else is false. It’s like a sort of physical, emotional and experiential relativity; there are no absolutes.

Or not. *le shrug*
chaletian: (Default)
I have no idea why I wrote this. I think it was in reaction to some of the stuff written in earlier years which just had no relevance to me personally.

rant/essay about how ideals of female independence etc cannot account for modern fans of the Chalet School )
chaletian: (Default)
Someone just walked past my office window brandishing a lime green umbrella. I know some people who would be jealous. Oh yes.

Anyway, I'm faintly disturbed by what was on the news last night. And now I can't really remember what it was, except that it was something to do with stem cell research. See, the thing is, it's generally accepted that cloning is grr bad and unethical etc etc etc and no-one's allowed to do it for humans, but scientists in Korea, I think, have made a way of creating stem cells that can be used to be specific genetic matches for people. This is fine and dandy as a way of replacing kidneys or what have you, but there's just that somewhat sinking realisation that science isn't just going to hit a cut off point and say "OK, that's our lot, anything else would be weird and belong in a sci-fi movie, so we're going to stop all this now". Let's face it: that's never going to happen. Once again I am reminded of that class line from Jurassic Park: they were so busy figuring out whether they could that they forgot to think about whether they should. Hmm. Deep thoughts for all.

And then at about two o'clock this morning, when I was still wide awake, I ended up watching a v. bizarre film (as yet unidentified) with about a million people in it (starting with Sam Neill, Helena Bonham-Carter, Martin Clunes, Kristin Scott-Thomas and the girl who was whatshername in Four Weddings) that was completely insane and yet reminded me irresistably of Lust Over Pendle. Odd.

June 2016

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