England still stands outside Europe

That’s what British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote at the end of the First World War, one hundred years ago (in The Economic Consequences of the Peace).

“England still stands outside Europe. Europe’s voiceless tremors do not reach her. Europe is apart and England is not of her flesh and body. But Europe is solid with herself. France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Holland, Russia and Roumania and Poland throb together, and their structure and civilisation are essentially one.”

Now, one hundred years later, Britain’s inequality is staggering, so bad that it pulls down the measure for equality for the entire EU, yet Brits have been told that the EU is to blame for their misery, along with lots of other lies.

One hundred years ago, Keynes wrote about how odd it was for him, an Englishman based in Paris for a while, to go back to London for quick visits and find it so distant.

“But it is under the influence of Paris, not London, that this book has been written by one who, though an Englishman, feels himself a European also, and, because of too vivid recent experience, cannot disinterest himself – as opposed to the people in Britain at the time, AS – from the further unfolding of the great historic drama of these days which will destroy great institutions, but may also create a new world.”

Is England, one hundred years later, still as aloof, and still as deaf and blind to what is going on in the world?

And does the EU, in order to flourish, really need a Britain that loves to be proud of how it isolates itself from the rest of the world and how it milks its poor to balance its books?

I worry more about the negative influence that this may have on other countries than that I “worry” about the boost foreigners provide to the British economy year after year after year and what they do for people’s outlook on life.

When you hear Brits in southern England say, angrily, “What’s he got to be smiling about?” – and perhaps even with suspicion – about a young Polish man with a positive outlook on life, meaning that he won’t let the rain in his life bring him down, and when you literally hear Brits curse all day long you realise that Britain’s problem isn’t the EU.

Britain is the fifth richest nation in the world. This means that it could do so much better for its own people, but its government refuses to, and fights its own people, the EU and UN on these points, spending quite a bit of money on it, too:

https://angelinasouren.com/2018/01/31/the-illegality-of-british-government-actions/

Yes, I too feel that some European regulations are getting out of hand. It seems ridiculous that you literally can’t serve coffee or tea with cookies without needing to go on a course first. But if I then think of the two recent deaths that occurred in Britain because two young women with severe allergies were served food (in a commercial setting) that was supposed to be free from allergens but wasn’t, I see the point.

Takes herself to night school to understand the law

 

Why did they all lay down? To sleeheep?

 

 

The other America
You can find her Sunday
Sitting by a stream
On her own
All alone
The other America
Might show up on Tuesday
At your kitchen door
She will ask politely
“Is anybody home?
Or did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
The other America
Takes herself to night school
To understand the law
She may bring you questions
When she finds the flaw
“Why did they all lay down
To sleep through the now?
And if they all lay down
I’ll be waiting for them
At the river bed
Once they wake from their rest”
We could be opening a doorway
Globally but that’s okay
Once upon a time you had faith
You would not be swayed
By fools untouched by clairvoyance
And you swore that we’d be brave
Well, not today
No, not today
Because we all lay down
To sleep through the now
And if we all lay down
She’ll be waiting for us
Where the rivers cross
Once we wake from our rest
“All the best,” the Other America

 

Where is the other Britain?

RISE!

Something you may want to watch

It may also shatter your illusions, however, if you still believe that police are the good ones, the ones (that you pay for through your council tax, in Britain) to help keep you safe and secure and protect your basic rights.

This morning, this caught my eye:

(Scottish) Police Pause Rollout Of Device That Hacks Into Phones After Fears ‘It Is Unlawful’

I suspect that police in England and Wales already are using these “kiosks” that hack into people’s phones and laptops, overriding passwords.

I am sure it can be great fun for some officers to play with these “kiosks”. You can almost hear them talk. “I knew it! She’s a lesbian!” and “Does he really think he stands a chance with that woman?” and “Oh my god! Trying to lose weight? Forget it! Never gonna work!”

Yep, very useful.</end of sarcasm>

We need an alternative to police. Because going to or contacting the police has become one of the worst things to do in almost any situation. (Unless your insurance company wants a copy of a report after a burglary or theft, but leave it at that and do not ask police to do anything else other than give you a copy of the report.) How it got to this point? It’s immaterial. It’s what we have in the here and the now.

As Michael Doherty (a former aircraft engineer who made the mistake of reporting something to police and expecting police to follow up on it) says in the video below, you do have the right to investigate on your own, to try to detect and stop crime on your own. If your investigation is successful, you can also prosecute on your own. (I am talking about England and Wales.)

But before you choose this path, as I have stated several times before, look into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 because police and others can use this against you, assuming that you are unaware of 1(3)(a), which most people probably are. That means that, before you know it, you can already have confessed to a crime that you didn’t actually commit. To prevent this, you need to know what the law says.

I repeat and highlight:

(3) Subsection (1) [F4 or (1A)] does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—

(a) that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,

(b) that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or

(c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

(Whether it says “and” or “or” makes a difference. It means that each of these conditions on its own applies, that they do not have to apply all at once.)

The video below dates back to 2015, is rather academic and particularly in the beginning lacks a logical thread, in my opinion, but does contain useful information.

You may want to read this as well:
The Human Rights Act Can Transform Lives Without Going To Court

(Also, if you want to protect yourself from police with a camera, you need to have one that does not have wifi or bluetooth.)

It is possible to resolve many situations or at least make them somewhat liveable without going to police, and much more successfully and/or peacefully. If you try this after you’ve been to police, however, police officers are likely to hold it against you. Unfortunately, most of us learn these things the hard way – and you can’t undo having contacted the police.

Punitive, mean-spirited and often callous

That is what the United Nations have called the British government’s treatment of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.

You can read more on the site of The Independent and on the site of the BBC.

You can also read this pdf: 1 Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights London, 16 November 2018

I discussed that in my book too (and I believe that it is linked to a British-designed approach to life called utilitarianism):

 

What’s being said in the BBC article about the, well, delusional focus of the ministers is excellently depicted by this photo I took on 29 October. The text in this government poster at a local bus stop contains not a promise but a threat, as wages in Britain aren’t particularly high (to put in an understatement). Universal credit is the new benefits system, by the way.

I found the tone of this poster mean-spirited. That’s why I took the photo.

Entertainment

But not just entertainment. This documentary certainly stands out because of the number of female experts in it. That is still rare.

(I seem to remember that North Korea as behind the Sony hack was later disputed or doubted, however. Either North Korean hackers got careless at one point by skipping encryption at some point, I seem to remember, or someone made it look that way.)

Also, the information given about Tor in this documentary is not complete. Your internet provider can still see what you do.

In the earlier days of the internet, there used to be a site where you could track which transatlantic cable your e-mail was using or something like that. I also remember an instance when e-mail broke down for a day or so because there was a problem with one of those cables. In those days, a lot of services were still based in the US, so your message to someone in Germany might even have to go through a server in the US, stuff like that.

The one that got away

I just ran into an injured wood pigeon (Columba palumbus, also known as “culver” in southeast England, apparently). I suspect that it had been in some kind of altercation as a nearby magpie and crow were upset, though I didn’t see a cat in the area. Maybe it had been in a collision with a car. Or hey, the crow? Crows do occasionally attack pigeons, and also magpies. The magpie was chattering quite loudly so had presumably witnessed something that worried it (which is why I first looked for a cat).

The pigeon had an injured foot (no visible bleeding), so I decided to grab it and take it home so it could get some rest and heal.

But as I am currently in terrible shape, I wasn’t quick and agile enough, though I almost got it. (I did actually touch it, when I tried to towel it.) It flew off then, clearly knowing where it wanted to go to, which was a reassuring change from its behaviour when I spotted it, so I am hoping that it had been in shock, that I helped it snap out of it and that the injury is not too bad and able to heal.

(Also, I  had forgotten that I was wearing a long RED silk scarf at the time. This can alarm birds as they recognize it as the colour of blood, I have learned. With pet birds, you can teach them that not all blood red is actually blood for example by taking a red marker and scribbling on your hands. It may depend on the bird species, obviously.)

I will keep an eye out for the poor thing. Around here, wood pigeons are quite shy. I was amazed to see them scurry around seated people’s feet in Amsterdam a few months ago.

Yes, birds can be in shock.

In Tierra Verde in Florida, I once found a bird sitting in the middle of the road, stunned. I scooped it up and put it in my bike basket, and it stayed there for the duration of my remaining bike ride. Ten minutes or so. But when it was time to examine the bird, it flew off before we got the chance, leaving a few healthy-looking droppings behind.

And Lee Fox, who founded and ran the wild-bird hospital at which I was volunteering at the time, once stopped a guy from killing a pelican, just in time. He’d hit the bird with his car and wanted to put it out of its misery, not realizing that the bird was probably mainly stunned. Lee Fox happened to be passing in her car, stopped and rescued the bird.

Fingers crossed.

 

Avoiding food-bank dependency

By giving people what they need.

By definition, you make people dependent if you don’t always give them what they need (because you don’t want them to become dependent on you). If they can count on you, they don’t become dependent on you and their whole life not longer has to revolve on how to get food, the way most wildlife lives.

Instead, they can start to focus on on how to get out of poverty.

Give people the experience of abundance and prosperity. Teach them that prosperity and abundance exist and also possible for them.

The need for food is part of biology. People do not decide to become “dependent on food”. We all are dependent on food.

So either give them enough food or give them enough income.

Democrats, apologists and neoliberals

Read this comment below, on a YouTube video about two girls with Treacher-Collins syndrome (which means that they have healthy bodies and brains, but have no hearing and some facial bones are lacking):

That baffled me. I also hear the phrase “neoliberals” from time these days within this context. I wasn’t familiar with it, but it seems to be associated with a lack of tolerance for human diversity and a lack of inclusive solidarity (while I associate the latter with conservatives, libertarians and republicans). When I looked into it, I found that “neoliberal” may be more or less the same as “conservatives” or  “neoconservatives”, in practice.

So, does all of this make me a republican in other people’s views, then?

It is time to stop labelling people. Sigh. So easy for me to say. I do it too, I am sure.

Turns out that I am a “guilt-ridden apologist”, apparently, as that is what I was called a few days ago after I pointed out that cave bears actually went extinct a long time ago. It went with “you crack me up”, so I am happy that the person was happy, for whatever reason. I have no idea what on earth a guilt-ridden apologist is, so I have no idea whether I am one or not. It makes no difference to me.

“Should have been euthanized.” Did that come from a democrat then, or from a neoliberal?

It is a screenshot from part of a USA Today story, about how their environment responded after a daughter with Treacher-Collins syndrome was born to the parents in this story, Thom and Tami Wetmore. They later adopted a girl with the same syndrome from Ukraine where she was in an orphanage.

She is very artistic, it turns out. Her name is Danica.

Both girls use sign language. And Juliana has a hearing aid, which apparently allows her to “hear perfectly”. I don’t know whether Danica has a hearing aid.

The family is from Texas and living in Florida – or the other way around – and Christian. So what does that make them?

Human!

In addition to Danica, they adopted three more children.

You can see how hard the topic of having a non-mainstream child is for people and how great the need to talk about this in this thread: http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/archive/index.php/t-251806.html

Living with autism

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… playing with autism

Need your faith in humans restored?

This will help a lot.

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(Police later showed up to scoop them up and take them to safety, in case you notice that they’re still stuck after having traversed all these lanes.)

My otherness

Living in an economically deprived English neighbourhood sometimes goes like this.

You quickly walk to a local supermarket (for two packets of oat cookies) and on the way, a guy seems to want to stop you to ask for directions. But what he says is “You walk like a young lady.”

He adds “You’ve got youth in your step!”

It emphasises my otherness.

What I have is purpose. What I have is two immediate deadlines on my desk, an online course to make, someone else’s grant proposal about to turn up, and also a research paper in the pipeline. He doesn’t.

In central Oxford, by contrast, most people have my fast pace, many actually walking much faster.

Most of county Hampshire is relatively sleepy to start with. Here where I live, many people have relatively little to do and saving whales is not on their mind when they’re out and about.

I didn’t know what to say back to him, so I simply laughed, taken by surprise.

Because what I also have is the absence of the British notion that people who are over 35 are no longer young. He was trying to make me feel young, but what he did was make me realize that he saw me as someone with one foot in the grave.

I LOL. It doesn’t matter.

Normally, when something like this happens, I’ll say something along the lines of “thank you” but today, feeling flabbergasted dominated too much for that.

Sorry dude. I know you meant well.

This is probably pretty hilarious (read: embarrassing) considering that I just wrote an article on LinkedIn about how we all share more than makes us different but that there is a lot more diversity among human beings than we’ve thought for a long time.

It enriches our lives.

I am sorry that I didn’t thank the guy. It was his awareness of his own mortality that made him say what he said and he saw that as a similarity. He was right.

Thich Nhat Hanh might have said that I didn’t give the guy my presence and that I had not been walking in awareness. He would have been right too.

 

An example of one of my book blurbs

In this thoughtful yet also provocative book in the area of bioethics, Angelina Souren takes you on a tour along matters of life and death, exploring ethical and practical aspects of the new eugenics.

With regard to the mew eugenics, Souren argues for caution and points out that technological progress sometimes leads to mistakes that can be hard to correct once made. The unbridled creation of designer babies (which we have already been engaging in for decades), she says, could lead to the disappearance of the glue that binds us all. Compassion. Inclusive solidarity. It does not have to, provided we proceed wisely, she adds. She proposes a practice based on the principle of non-discrimination and would like to see governments to provide broader support for their citizens and their children.

Souren does not shy away from difficult questions. Why do we have so much trouble accepting ourselves and each other, she asks, and points the finger at utilitarianism. She also tackles the task of defining “a life not worth living” and arrives at a practical universal guideline for the application of private eugenics that is bound to raise some protest from all sides of the debate, but will also spark appreciation. We need to move toward a global consensus on these matters, she opines, and that is only possible if some of us take a few steps back and others a few steps forward.

This book is for anyone interested in what is happening in the world around us. It is also particularly suitable for anyone curious about the future of humanity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelina Souren is an independent writer and researcher who is currently based in the English city of Portsmouth. She has previously lived and worked in the United States and in her native the Netherlands. Her professional background is primarily in earth and life sciences, but also includes several years of legal experience.

She is a former board member of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society as well as former editor-in-chief of its newsletter and scientific yearbook, a former member of the board and various committees of a Dutch organization for women in science and technology called NIMF, and former associate editor of the newsletter of the US-based Geochemical Society.

Book blurbs

Unless you’re an established author with an agent, when you write books, you also have to write blurbs. Back matter. Short descriptions, long descriptions, author biographies, while taking each platform’s word or character limit into account and the platforms’ peculiarities.

An example of the latter is that for the description of paperbacks on Amazon, you have to code paragraphs in html, but not for the Kindle version. (You discover that the hard way.)

Also, the size limit that is indicated while you’re adding that blurb is not the limit that is applied in practice. So you either have to keep it short and sweet, or wait to see if your description will be cut short in mid-sentence in practice. Eventually, you get used to it and learn how to avoid this pitfall.

In addition, there is the problem that some platforms take the long description and cut it short instead of using the short description. *shrugs*

The blurbs tell readers whether or not they want to buy the book. So they also require a lot of tweaking from that point of view.

An example is asking myself “Do I want to make sure I don’t put progressives off by describing myself as a feminist (which I am) or is it more important not to repel more conservative readers by describing myself as a feminist?”

Another one is “Is an academic-sounding description better than a snappier, lighter one?”

Plus, you usually have to select a photo of yourself as well. Which one to pick?!

It is a learning process. By doing, I am slowly getting better at it. At least, I hope so!

 

What it means to be human

Do you agree with this? Don’t other species also have to respond to the circumstances around them, including being chased by humans, having been born in a zoo or as part of the pet trade or to droughts and food shortages, as well as the fact that humans take up more and more of their natural habitat and force them to live in our built environment?

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Beyond Disadvantage: Disability, Law, and Bioethics

The above is the title of the 2018 Petrie-Flom Center Annual Conference, which took place in June. I had registered for the event because the topic interests me greatly and I have so much to learn in this area. Unfortunately, I turned out to be away and unable to attend after all.

I am delighted that the Petrie-Flom Center not only decided to make some of the lecture materials available beforehand, but recorded the lectures and has made the videos shareable.

Prominent point of discussion at he conference was the question whether a disability is merely a difference, or a bad difference. Putting the question like this is an oversimplification but it is a good starting point. I will discuss this matter and these lectures in greater detail in coming posts.

For now, here are the opening remarks, and first talks.

“Beyond Disadvantage: Disability, Law, and Bioethics” Opening Remarks and Panel 1: Theory and Definitions of Disability from Petrie-Flom Center on Vimeo.