Death Threats

This story is in today’s Guardian.  It deals with the subject of online death threats, or cyberbullying.  I’d like to share my response:

I periodically pick up death threats from people in America. The American police response is typically that death threats are an allowable free speech activity. Yes, I’m blaming the Americans, but for a point: America asserts to being a civilised, responsible country and so people from outside America who see death threats on social media think that they are an acceptable form of behaviour. It’s time that the world’s role model, grew up – or perhaps decided that they would no longer wish to assert to being a role model.

Doctors and drugs

I visited my Doctor’s surgery for the first time ever yesterday.  (I should mention that I’m not super-healthy; rather my old doctor retired and transferred my notes over without my intervention to the new surgery.)  The surgery is not far away, but in a neighbourhood that I’m not familiar with – and I got lost.  I’d just gone down an alleyway that is wide enough to drive a car down at one end, but at the far end is so narrow that I could barely walk down it and decided that I would need to ask a stranger for directions, when a miracle happened.  I heard a four-year-old bug incubator cough, and knew that rescue was near at hand.  Sure enough, the incubator and entourage turned into a property, and walked up to the door of the surgery.

I went inside, and asked the receptionist for an appointment.  When one had been booked she said that she would text the details to me.  There was a small problem; the number that she rather mysteriously had for me clearly wasn’t one that I used, and she resorted in the end to writing the appointment down on a piece of paper.

Once I had marvelled at the modern age I thought ahead to a new experience that I would have with the doctor.  I am going to ask for another couple of boxes of pills, and it turns out that the modern age has invaded the ancient art of writing scripts.  Presumably in an effort to get patients fit doctors no longer issue paper prescriptions.  Instead they email the prescription over to a chemist and leave the patient to walk around town playing hunt the script. (My little joke – I’m sure that there is a way round this.) This modern technology is a marvel!

(Incidentally, I was told once by a pharmacist that the emailed scripts are printed out by the chemist.  So no paper saved there then…)

Possesions

I recently bought a book about Mahatma Ghandhi, and as usual I flicked through it looking at the pictures.  One photograph in particular caught my imagination; a picture of Ghandhi’s worldly possessions at his death – all ten of them.  The picture isn’t too good, so I looked on the Internet to see what some of the items are, and I discovered a whole world of ‘minimalist’ living.

It turns out that some people actually make a conscious decision to live with a limited number of items, and then write about their lifestyle choice.  Several people report having less than 100 possessions, and there is even a ‘challenge’ for anyone who can live with 100 items or fewer.  So, it being a long and dull Sunday…

The grand total is 184 items.  I won’t bore you with what they are, except to say…6 items that I can listen to the radio on???

Of course I have cheated, as in fact everyone else seems to have done.  People routinely miss out their book collections (if you are counting, that’s an extra hundred or so) and furniture (it doesn’t belong to me, but if it did – an extra ten).

I wonder how many people would cope if they actually were forced to limit the number of items they posess? Would they be able to plan a suitcase full, or would they be looking for little ways out? A pair of socks or ear rings is one item, surely? And is it necessary to count my comb? It only cost me pennies to buy…

Materialists, I suspect, remain so even when they become minimalist materialists.  Would I do any better?  Probably not.  But having drawn up an inventory I can see that I have some work to do.

Is the American far-right and it’s mouthpiece Fox “News” the biggest threat to global security today?

A week ago this very day three gunmen went on the rampage in Paris, France, and killed a dozen people.  I would like to leave a discussion of that, and it’s aftermath in Europe for another day.  Today, I’d like to discuss the response from America.

The response, particularly from the far right, to an attack on civilisation was itself as uncivilised as it could get.  Within hours commentators in America were calling for the extermination of and entire people.  In another post, I reminded the world that there had also been a terrorist attack in America at the offices of the NAACP, and that if the far-right were consistent in their “thinking” they would be calling for every American in the world to be exterminated.  On a personal level, I received a death threat from someone who wished to assert that America was more “civilised” that the Islamic world.  And then there were the miss-informed people who could have done with educating before they were allowed online.  People who asked in all seriousness what Islam had ever brought us that was good.  People with selective memories about America’s own past.  And the plain stupid.

By, I think Sunday, the far-right and Fox News had whipped up the rhetoric to such an extent that the US State Department were warning people to be careful  out there in the big wide world.  And the far right carried on.  A fool went on Fox “News” and stated as a fact that Birmingham, England, was 100% Muslim – and people who knew how to Google (it’s a continuing fascination for me, and a puzzle that someone could answer if they would be so kind: is Google blocked in America?) laughed in derision.

So, we have a whole load of incredibly stupid, right wing Americans poking a basket containing a few hundred criminals.  Are these people trying to provoke a reaction?  I believe that they are.  I believe that the world will never be at peace while these stupid American thugs are allowed free access to the internet.  The criminals are only human, and if you poke them long enough and hard enough they will react.

Some websites that I like

When I was discovering the internet years ago, I came across the website for German railways, in English – naturlich!

http://www.bahn.de

A site full of mad ideas:

http://www.ted.com

And a news site:

http://www.theguardian.com

A French news site. When I first looked this one up last year I was delighted to note that I could ‘understand’ quite a lot of what was written – thanks to the similarities between French and English.

http://www.lemonade.fr

Free courses:

http://www.open2study.com