Thursday, October 18, 2018

Boycotting the Oscars

Here's one I was toying with a couple of years ago...

It appears a load of black people, or the term I've heard, "people of colour" are furious due to under-representation at the Oscars compared to white people.

Maybe it is a case that I do talk from a position of white privilege, but I don't feel privileged when one group of people seek special representation against my group of people based not on the great things they've done, but based on their particular classification.

The thing I would say we should be arguing about, is that there should be more diversity in our mainstream - and Im not just talking about ethinicity here.

The response to the oscars to call for a boycott, only furthers in my mind, to segregate further. It is a form of positive discrimination. It doesn't recognise our common and our shared humanity. It doesn't recognise that we all have strengths and weaknesses. It doesn't look at our merits, but actually does the very thing that we all should be fighting against, judging and classifying someone based on the colour of their skin, their gender, their sexuality.

We're not perfect. But fighting racism with racism is wrong. Taking the lead from Charlotte Rampling, we don't know why there weren't more black people  represented at the Oscars. Is the problem actually the film industry? Were there not enough stand out performances? Are the Oscars institutionally racist? Or are they just looking for a problem that doesn't exist as they themselves focus on the colour of peoples skin?

Donald Trump Day

A few years back, I was invited to give a talk at Church on what is holy to me. Believing in a God who made everything and everyone in it, I wondered how anything could possibly be unholy.

If some things or some people and holy and others aren't, then where do we draw the line as to what is holy? We should know from the teaching of Jesus, that we are all one body but different gifts, so why should one of us be unholy because we practice our faith in a different way. One part of the body can not reject another member of the body because it does something different.

In Church, I see an awful lot of interfaith work going on. However when we get the subject of politics, especially over the past year with the presidency of Donald Trump and Brexit, we find swathes of Christians preferring to walk in solidarity with other faiths than they do with other professing Chrisitans.

Im not saying we shouldn't be walking alongside other faiths, but it does upset me when we talk in such a solid rhetoric about upholding other faiths, then attempt to destroy someone else.

Im not saying Donald Trump is right or wrong, and Im certainly not saying Im a fan of his. But I am saying, lets not judge him. Lets walk along side him as we do with other faiths. Lets pray for him and the country he leads. Lets have some faith in our God!

We may collectively have our heads up our own liberal backsides so much, we actually need someone like Donald Trump to help us wake back and stand up for the faith we believe in.

Interfaith Nonsense

Over the recent months, we have seen continuing terrorist related incidents linked with Islamic extremism.

What we see however is an attempt to distance such acts from Islam itself, which serves no other purpose than to sweep what is happening under the rug, to isolate such incidents from each other and so we fail to recognise any pattern.

Whether we like it or not, there is something in the culture, the ideology, the teaching, whatever it is, that is encouraging people to commit atrocities in the name of God.

Now is the time when the communities need to come together, learn from and support each other, in the same way we wish to wipe out Britain First, EDL, BNP and the like.

We need to work together to find out what our fears and our prejudices are, and we need to be open about them.

However here is where I diverge back on topic.

We aren't going to achieve that by pandering to one group of society.

Virtually every take away in our "multi cultural" part of England, is halal only. We have no choice. We are told that our choice is whether we eat there or not. It's not that we want to stop others from having halal (OK, some do, because they disagree with the way the animal is killed), but we want to exercise our choice, whether it's through our own morals or religious beliefs.

Interfaith and Loving Your Neighbour, practically every story you see coming out of the Church of England, revolves around Muslims.

Why is this?

We hold interfaith meetings where we have Samosas, Curry, Bhajis etc. I pointed out the one day that if we were truly interfaith, then why don't we share something of ourselves? And how prejudice anyhow to think that Samosas will be the way to attract Muslims, when one lad was overheard at our recent interfaith group as saying "everyone loves pizza".

Churches like to pander to one particular group, whether it's Muslim, Family, Children, Elderly. They miss the basic premise which is - Love Your Neighbour.

That's it. It's that simple. It doesn't matter whether your neighbour is white, black, asian or whatever, it doesn't matter what language they speak, what hair colour they have, how tall or short, what religion. We Love Our Neighbour. Full stop. We shouldn't have to be going out of our way to target a particular demographic because that's the cool thing at the moment.

Often times, I think those who try the hardest are sometimes the least liberal of all. Although they seek to build and strengthen community, they seem to do it in a way that highlights our differences. We give different people different things. We "positively" discriminate, instead of simply treating everybody the same.

If you treat one group of people as being different, you will disenfranchise people. This is what leads to terrorist and extremist organisations in the first place. You cannot combat discrimination by heaping on more discrimination. You have to systematically tear down discrimination on all sides and make sure people feel that they are being fairly treated.

1p Mobile warning

For everybody out there, welcome home!

Here is a post for my UK readers.

I have had a few adverts coming up from 1p Mobile and I thought I should offer you a warning.

1p Mobile are the company that offer amazing value at 1p per text, 1p per minute and 1p per Megabyte.

Sounds great.

Indeed, the service is great if all you are bothered about is SMS Text Messaging and Telephone calls. EE PAYG for Text Messaging costs 15p per text. So for every 1 Text you can send on EE, you can send 15 of them on 1p Mobile.

Now one has to stop and wonder how 1p Mobile can actually afford to offer ludicrous rates at 1/15th of the cost of other networks. The clue comes in the final part, 1p per MB. Do not dream of signing up to these guys if you're using any kind of smart phone. You will be ripped off.

1 Gig of data, which is actually quite a low amount by todays standards, works out at 1000 Meg, or £10.

£10 at EE will get you a Data Pack comprising 2 Gig of Data, 100 minutes and unlimited texts, which on 1p Mobile will cost at least £21.00.

By all means, if you're a light user, 1p Mobile is fine. If you want to use anywhere near 1 Gig of data a month, forget 1p Mobile. If you want to send more than 500 Texts, forget 1p mobile are consider something with an unlimited plan.

There adverts have been popping up on my Facebook recently. I commented on the issue of data, and I since appear to have been blocked by them. No rebuttal, no argument, just deleted my comment and blocked me. This suggests that they are unable to stand on their own merit and that warnings about high data usage may not be in their best interests for prospective sign ups to understand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Feminism vs Humanism

I don't understand feminism.

I simply don't.

I learned yesterday that History is a mostly male dominated thing. Written by men, about men, for men! Chauvenistic pigs. How dare they have a primitive culture to us!

But feminists seem to applaud anything to do with female and femininity, anything vaguely woman related, we should push for. Which always comes across to me as positive discrimination.

To me it's a huge turn off. So when we use the criteria of gender and power to determine whether we should watch a film, or read a book, I do question whether "feminism" is the model of equality or equity with which we laud it.

I've been trying to brush up on what exactly feminism is. They say it is about equality first off, as a loose sort of definition. But why call it feminism? Why not humanism? "Fem" = Female = Woman. So already it sets a distinction and puts women apart. Men can be feminists we're told, feminism is all encompassing, but feminism appears to exist solely for the glorification, promotion and appeasement of women.

Another site suggests that feminism is actually quite distinct to equality. It talks about our patriarchal culture and that women have to live up to male ideals to be equal in the world. One feminist writes men live and work in a brutal world surrounded by sexism and ritual practices. Well that's sexist for a start. And it also assumes that's what men wants. It sums up with this lovely phrase:

The equalist debate is one way of preserving patriarchy, whereas feminism seeks to give power to women on their own terms – not mens. This is why I am a feminist, not an equalist.

I get this. I really do. It actually works out that we are different, men and women are different, and women shouldn't compete with men. Quite why I need to promote women specifically Im not sure.

But why are feminists drawing the line there? For some men, the male dominated patriarchal world is absurd. So why should men have to compete with women in a female dominated world?

"Im a feminist and believe in gender equality". Well, why not call yourself a gender neutralist instead?

Sarah Jessica Parker has said she's a humanist because she supports the LGBT people to be able to carve out their niches in this world. But why is it all these groups vs men? Have they got a problem with men? What about the men who are actually more sensitive than you possibly give them credit for?

Whoever we are, woman, man, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, whatever race, religion, why do we need one advocate, one expression of thought - in this case feminism, to promote one subset of society? I think we've got the whole thing ass backwards.

Another site says

"The reason why it’s called feminism while advocating for gender equality is because females are the gender that are the underprivileged, underserved gender," Shives says in his video response. "You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender."

So our focus is on the underprivileged gender. But what about those underpriveleged people in the privileged gender? Do you just forget about them, because in feminism, we are creating a class distinction?

So I will not identify as a feminist, until one of them identifies as a simonist, someone who works for the promotion and liberation of all and the exclusion of none.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We're Busy Too

One of my pet hates, is when someone says "Im Busy" when trying to organise something.

I don't discredit the fact that someone is genuinely doing something, but it doesn't seem that difficult to look through your calendar and find a mutual date and time that works for both. Yes I realise that it can happen that you may actually have a full calendar, but saying "Im busy" to me, is just saying "You're such a low priority in my life, Im not going to even look at my calendar".

I do get the impression though from time to time that some other people, mainly those with children, families, partners - seem to think that us single people, have a load of expendable time.

Just because we don't have a family to spend time on, doesn't mean we're not busy ourselves. Some of us may work two jobs, volunteer, they might have to work longer hours, train for their job. We have no one to share the burden with, we have no one to do our cooking, shopping, washing and cleaning. We have to organise all our own appointments. We may be the ones caring, looking out for others, we may have other commitments you don't realise. Though we're isolated, sometimes it's not by choice. Sometimes we wouldn't mind sharing a nice home cooked meal. Perhaps there's something we can do for you? Let me just look through my calendar? Im busy for the next two weeks. But how about three weeks on Friday?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fedora vs Windows 10

Well I've been running Fedora on my works laptop for a few years. I actually found it quicker to install Linux and install Windows 7 inside a KVM/QEMU (Virtual) system than to install Windows 7 and install VirtualBox and Fedora under that!

Linux has been stable, reliable, it's allowed me to be king of domains and DNS lookups with the dig command. It's been fantastic.

But, and here is where I must point out my current wishlist. Even at Fedora 22, it creaks in the following areas which has now made it unsuitable for work.

1) QXLDOD - the WDDM Video Driver needed for Windows 8 and above. Windows 8 changed the driver technology, and there was no stable driver for Windows 8 unless you wanted a fixed size VGA screen. Finally QXLDOD is available which provides some functionality, but it's still nowhere near being as good as the QXL driver that was available for Windows 7. The old QXL driver would resize the Virtual Guest Screen in accordance with the Virtual Guest Windows. Brilliant! QXLDOD, we're still waiting. This actually isn't good enough for business. I know Fedora isn't aimed at Business, but sort that, and you have me stay!
2) Multi Touch Screen Support - Im not going into all the details, but essentially touch screens don't work properly even in Fedora 22. Fedora totals up all the screen sizes, so if you have three screens side by side all of say 1920 pixel width, that's 5760 total screen area width. What you then have to do is use xrandr and xinput commands and run through a few calculations eg 5760/1920 = touch screen width, and other similar calculations to work out the offset. That this is not supported out of the box is frankly laughable. Ubuntu can do it, but not Fedora.
3) Multi Head Virtualisation - So now I have my multiple screens, I can't however have two video heads for a guest output. Come on! This should be basic!
4) Bridge Network - Finally, despite following all the guides out there, I still can't get bridged networking working properly. I add a Bridge in NetworkManager, it just does not pick up a DHCP address. I need Bridge Network for my guest OS's in KVM/QEMU. Im still not inclined to switch off NetworkManager now, otherwise I lose my wireless.

So sadly, rather than muddle around and fudge things, Im off to Windows 10.

Hopefully one day I shall return to Fedora.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Fragmented Church

I used to think that one of the greatest evils, was homogenisation. I could sense that we were being homogenised in society to think the same, act the same, look and talk the same through laws and even human rights. If someone had a different view to the left, then you're a bigot.

Quite frankly, I like the fact that we're all different, with different skills. I like going to different parts of the world and experiencing a different culture. We are one body, with different functions. Wouldn't things be boring if we were all the same!

However, as a Christian, I am beginning to sense that a bigger problem, is fragmentation.

There is the attitude often given, that you don't need to go to Church to be a Christian and you certainly don't need to be there every Sunday. You can be the salt and light where you are. There are alternative services during the week, so why is Sunday so important? Are you separate from the body if you don't go to Church on a Sunday?

In my last post, I touched on how one of the great things about Christianity is its relational aspect. For one, I love and adore the fellowship with the body. It's where I get charged and energised, it's where others help me learn and grow and where I can help others.

In the old days - and maybe I just view it through rose tinted lenses as a kid at that time, but it seemed there was more emphasis on family and togetherness. The week was for working, the weekend was for catching up with friends and family. There was very little Sunday working.

But now I see the permeation of the 24/7 culture, increased shift work, night shits, different patterns of work, weekend work, sunday working. Shops and services have to be open longer to service the needs of other people. This is a trend that will continue to get worse as our consumption and expectation that we have the right to an available service 24/7. Resources and staff will be spread too thinly to cover all permutations. That will have a knock on effect. If someone has to work at unsociable hours, they will start demanding something they need at other unsociable hours.

At some point, I can envisage our Churches being open 24/7, having to turn into mega Churches so that those who want to come can come any time they want so it fits into THEIR lifestyle (in other words, Church or Jesus comes some way down the list of priorities).

But what's happening here is that our jobs with irregular patterns of work, are carving up our regular patterns of worship, family, andhobbies.

Life is about people. This fragmentation will seriously inhibit our ability to make meaningful connections with other people and achieve the fruit from what comes of a blossoming and loving friendship.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Relational Christianity

One of the most intriguing things that has grasped my attention recently in my Christian faith, is the concept and important of Community. As a single person, it gives me a unique experience into the struggles people can have, and without my singleness, I would not have found other voice who feel lonely and isolated yet welcomed and accepted by their Church.

My bible study and reading over the years has given me a model of Christian living that is rich in community, showing itself in fellowship, support, care and love for on another, in strong bonds of friendship that should be some of the closest we have in our lives.

We have a relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are reconciled to him, therefore, as I've said a few times before, we should be reconciled to each other. We are interconnected as one body, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, we are the same in Christ, no division, no barriers. If one of us hurts, we all hurt!

As Jesus said, a new commandment I give you, to love on another.

But how do we go about loving on another if we don't spend the time to get to know one another and walk with each other.

Let me start off by giving you a break down of a typical week.

A week is 7 days, or 168 hours. A typical breakdown of our week, may be as follows:

Work - 5 Days at 8 hours - that's 40 hours, or 24% of our week.
Travel for work, lets say again 5 days and 2 hours, 10 hours in total or 6% of our week
Sleep: 7 Days at 8 hours a day, or 56 hours - 33% of our week

63% of our week is taken up on working, getting to work and sleep.

Lets allow an hour a day for eating, 7 hours in total, or 4%.

That's now 67%

We have 33%, or 56 hours to divide amongst our other things. Shopping, Friends, Family, Socialising, Reading, Scripture Study, other Study, Extra Work, Prayer, Relaxation, Housework, Paperwork

We typically spend two hours a week in Church - if that. That works out to be 1% of our week, or 3.5% of our remaining time. Actually if you take off the time of the worship and concentrate just on the fellowship before and after, it's more like half an hour we spend in genuine fellowship, 0.3% of our week, 0.9% of our spare time - if we even turn up at all. How comfortable are we spending less than 1% of our time in fellowship with other believers?

If we're honest with ourselves, the vast majority of us probably spend very little time in fellowship, in deep friendship with our fellow Christians. Doing a break down like this actually makes me think in some respects Im being unfair - it is difficult to cram in every single responsibility we need to do in life into our week. But could we perhaps prioritise better, cut out the crud, amalgamate the unnecessary, organise better, kill two birds with one stone, and rely on the kindness of others?

Ok, we only have 56 hours left in our week, but if our Church priority is so far down the pecking order, is it any wonder our Church relationships suffer? I feel compelled to write in my next post about why this issue is occuring and look at the issue of fragmentation in our social and Church life which is holding back our progress on Church and fellowship, but for now, lets keep this to relationships.

I love my Church friends. But there is heartache when I realise that all I get to see is a glimpse of them for less than 1% of my week. I see cards, and gifts going around, invites to social events, and feel even more alone and isolated.

I simply like spending quality time with my fellow Christians who I love, getting to know them, learn from them, understand them, building a relationship, friendship, growing community and doing what I can to help, care, love, support, lighten the load and offer prayer when needed. Christianity is relational. As we have a relationship with Christ, so we should have a strong relationship with each other. We have a duty to create connections with each other. Maybe then we can find people willing to lend a hand, help us on our way, support us and encourage us. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

NHS Waste

It is starting to drive me mad everytime I see a Facebook post talking about what the Conservatives are doing to the NHS by signing the biggest privatisation deals in history.

Well no. Not really.

Its a collection of 11 deals with the biggest one at £240 million, at only half of the cost of the £500 million Virgin Care service. And the deal only brings in outside contractors. It does not privatise any section of the NHS. It is not being sold off.

Of course, total all the PFI contracts for hospital building signed under the previous Labour government, where were the complainers then? Where were these liberals complaining about privatisation?

"The high cost of hospitals built under PFI is forcing service cuts at neighbouring hospitals built with public money. For example, overspending at the PFI-funded Worcestershire Royal Hospital has put a question mark over services at neighbouring hospitals"

Anyhow. Until these people agree that there are savings to be made in the NHS and it can be more efficient, then I will continue to disagree that they deserve more money.