Friday, 28 December 2012

For the Sake of Auld Lang Syne

It's that time of the year again when many take a deep breath trying not to over-analyse the reasons why the past loves, friendships, hopes and dreams didn't make it through to 2013. 

But shouldn't it be a time to be ruthless and honest? Get rid of the barriers that stopped you reaching your goals. Get rid of all those familiar distractions that stifled your dreams and choked your aspirations. Familiarity, has been said to breed contempt. You've gained great insight and experience through it all, so leave all that toxic baggage behind in 2012, bolt the door, run like hell and start the year afresh.    
Make new friends, build on positive relationships. Venture out into new pastures, be realistic with your goals. Don't be envious of those who've achieved what you would have liked, but rather study and learn from them. But most of all, don't hide your true self, keep it real.  

I take this opportunity to say HAPPY NEW YEAR to each and every one of you. I wish you success in all you choose to do... as long as it's legal. I wish you prosperity... providing you don't crush others to get it. And I wish you good health.... exercise is your friend. Keep a firm grasp on hope, because once it slips away, it can be lost forever. 

What a better way to finish this year with one of my favorite ole time tunes - Auld Lang Syne. 

Have your hopes and aspirations changed since this time last year?
What is the biggest lesson that 2012 has taught you?
What are your New Year resolutions for 2013?

I would love to hear your comments, opinions and views.

Friday, 14 December 2012

50th Post - A BIG Thank You

This is my 50th blog post and I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone who has read, commented, followed and/or subscribed to Rum Punch Drunk.  

I never thought I would have reached this number when I first started my blog in January 2012. Some of you have been gracious enough to award me with several blogger awards. I truly thank you for the nominations I received. 

Oh the agony and ecstasy of blogging! It always starts with the weekly stress levels searching for inspiration and fresh ideas, quickly followed by those agonisng days of nothing coming to mind, except at the last minute. That's how it's been for weeks now. When I eventually find a topic, I can spend hours doing touch-ups to make sure I've got it right until the last, hesitant moment before I click the 'publish' button. The endless nervousness of hoping someone will read, enjoy and comment makes me feel sick on the best of days. Times 50!!! I'm sure some of you might agree.

I have tried to make Rum Punch Drunk a safe space for people of any background to discuss matters openly and respectfully without anyone being personally attacked. Thanks to you, this has been allowed to happen.

I would also like to say thank you to the staff AngieA and TonyB at Blogcatalog for all the great active discussions, for promoting my blog and providing an excellent forum for bloggers to meet and chat. I appreciate all of you, including those who commented anonymously, those without blogs such as Marcus, Shiloh and Navigator not forgetting to mention Alex who was my guest author, and those who are not blogging at present. Every one of you has contributed to Rum Punch Drunk being what it is today.

Below I have listed some of the blogs that have inspired, supported, and entertained me since I've become part of this online community. Of course, it's impossible for me to include absolutely everyone here, so please don't be offended if I miss anyone out. 
AngieA and TonyB at: Blog Catalog 
Amethyst at: My life with it's pros and cons 
Bloggers at: Bloggers 
Bonnie Franks at: A Little Unhinged 
Christina Monica at: Chequered Hat 
Daily Dose of Musings at: Daily Dose of Musings 
Dan at: A Brainless Nod 
Dennis at: The view from fanling 
Donna at: Believe in Yourself 
Frank at: Frank King's Blog 
Helena at: Channelling Hippocrates 
Hotei at: Any More Than A Whisper 
Jade at: Poetry Musings 
Jamiesmiles at: It's a gay life 
Janene at: Moms are from Mars 
JerseyL at: Jerseylils2cents 
John at: Poet at Jaybern 
Jon Whiting at: Speaking My Mind 
June O'hara at: The Neurosis Files 
Karen at: Baking in A tornados 
Kleopatra at: Ideas and Opinions 
Melanie at: The Joy of Mothering 
Melody at: Growing with God in my Garden 
Menopausal Mama at: Menopausal Mama 
Michelle at: Fear no more, A day in the life 
Nothing Profound at: Aphorism of the Day 
Robert at: Mulled Vine 
Untony at: Tony's Blog 
William at: WilQuote 
Yun Yi at: Human Without God

A big THANK-YOU again for your continual support, and I take no shame in humbly asking you all to encourage your family/friends to pop over, have a read, leave a comment or debate whatever's on their minds. They can choose to follow via GFC (Google Friend Connect) subscribe to comments and/or posts. 

Do you find blogging easy or difficult?
Do you have any tips or tricks on how I can improve my blog or make it more accessible to others?

I'd love to hear your views, comments or opinions. 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

2 Sides to Christmas

It's that time of the year again. Seasonal happiness for some and madness for others. Shops will be packed with people buying gifts for each other while the retail bosses rub their hands in delight. The sound of ker-ching will be a welcoming sign to bankers as people max-out their credit cards only to have to pay it back with interest. For the next few weeks food and drink will be excessive and so will the waste, work colleagues will be busy arranging the office parties that will provide many with regrets come January. 

There are always 2 sides to Christmas. 

Families will welcome each other with loving kisses and gifts only for hours to pass by when they are at each others throat, reminiscing on the past faults brought to light by the evening's alcohol. New romantic relationships are always formed at this time of the year only to be soured as the season to be jolly comes to an end. At last the homeless will have a place to get out of the cold, eat, drink, get clean clothes, a hair cut and a little medical help. But for them, the season to be jolly is just a temporary fix until they are back on the streets. 

I hope I'm not dampening anyone's spirit here but I'm just trying to point out that there are 2 sides to Christmas and at times throughout my life I've been on both sides of the fence. I have not celebrated Christmas for quite some time now as the true meaning behind it has somewhat changed and so has the people.  For me, it's a time for reflection, a time to think about the future and what the year ahead brings. A time to pull out all the 'weeds' of the past that destroyed my beautiful garden and think about what I'm going to be planting for next year. 

If you are celebrating this year, why not have a sense of community? Invite a neighbour round for a seasonal drink or pop round and bring them a cake, especially if they are elderly, lonely or vulnerable. We have suffered such a hard year of austerity, and just wishing someone a Happy Christmas, seasonal greetings or sending a card may brighten up their day. 

Christmas is a time when we are expected to be happy, but for a lot of people it's the worse time of the year. Be honest with me, do you really enjoy Christmas?
What are your best and worst Christmas memories?
What will you be doing this Christmas, even if you don't celebrate it?

I would love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Political Discrimination

Last week in England a foster carer had 3 Eastern European children removed from her care, simply because she was a member of a certain political group that took a stance against immigration. The issue I want to go into here is not about immigration, or the particular party she was a member of, but whether or not we should have a right to stop someone from doing a particular job because that person is a member of a group that we don't agree with or support. 

In England it is well known that we have a lack of foster carers for ethnic minority children, and it is a bonus when foster carers have no problem raising a child regardless to their ethnic origin. Isn't that what it should be all about?

Is it in the best interest of the children for social services to be reluctant to place them in families that are of a different ethnicity to them. The result? It's much harder for black and mixed-race children to find foster families, and they are left to languish in a care system that is far from ideal. Is this really helping them?

On another angle, can you imagine being in a job for years and then all of a sudden your boss informs you that because you have voted or become a member of a certain political party then you must leave the business? 

I mean, many of us would have heard of the Klu Klux Klan, but let's pretend that you have worked side by side with the person for years and never had a problem communicating well with them until you found out who they support. Would you consider it fair for them to loose their job on account of this? Or does their politics have any impact at all on their competence for the job?  

Do the politics of the people your rub shoulders with, impact on your life?

Have you ever dis-owned your work colleague or friend just because they voted for the oppossition or a politcal party that you didn't agree with? And what made you change your view of them?

I'd really like to hear your views, opinions and comments on this.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Food Glorious Food!

Have you ever taken the time to find out exactly where your food comes from? Or do you just buy food based on the price, especially during this economic downturn? 

To be honest, I really can't afford to live off pure organic food on a daily basis. I'm not happy to see animals tortured, caged and tested on but I also have to seriously consider my pocket. Basic foodstuffs already cost way too much, in my eyes and I've got other bills to pay. 

What about all those pesticides they use on our fruit and veg? Which would you prefer - a large, sweet, juicy pear grown with chemical assistance, or a smaller sized, blemished one, but grown naturally? 

I'm hearing all these things about our foods. I mean, factory farming involves shoving a load of animals in a tight space without looking after them properly. Is it right that we tolerate animals being kept in bad desperate conditions, so long as we get fast, cheap food on our plates?

Ok, we keep going on about the starving children in Africa, but why not for a couple of years do intensive farming like mad to produce that food to feed those kids? Nothing wrong in feeding a starving child is there? I mean, it wouldn't be forever. Now, just because we are doing one thing, it doesn't mean we couldn't at the same time also implement long term organic farming.

It was rather alarming to find out I'd eaten GM food that has had it's natural DNA messed about with. In America for example, I've read that most of their vegetable oil is produced via GM crops. In Hawaii, roughly 80% of their fruit called papaya is GM. If for one minute you think about all the things we use vegetable oil for, it's quite daunting. 

Could it be in reality that the food we think is sustaining us is actually harming us? Sooner or later our natural bodies will begin to show signs of what we have been putting into it. Would our next generation think it was all 'worth it'? Something has to give. 

So, is the abuse of animals in order to feed us, morally justifiable?
Are organic foods really worth the price, and do they taste better?
Do you think GM foods are a risk we should take in order to feed the world?

I would love to hear your comments, views and opinions on this. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bad Samaritans

The other day, whilst riding my bike in London I came across a surprising sight. A man had collapsed in the road with his head towards the oncoming cars and his legs extended towards the pavement. It was a bright day, cars and people were passing him by constantly yet no-one stopped. Disgusting. 

I backed up my bike, called an ambulance and tried to speak to the man on the floor until they arrived. Apparently, in London a couple days ago a similar scenario happened where a man collapsed (can't verify if the collapse was genuine or not) but still, nobody came to his aid. This took place at a busy, safe and well lit underground train station. People just continued on their journey, some even stepping over him. 

How were they to know if he was faking it or not? What threat could he have posed? What would they have risked just to ask this man if he was OK? 

During the Nazi era, hundreds of innocent people put their lives on the line by helping to hide Jews in order to stop them from being killed.  Most of you may remember the story of Ann Frank, who was hidden for many years under the protection of dutch citizens in occupied Holland. How about Oscar Schindler, who also protected many Jews during this time at a great personal risk. 

There are many more high profile examples from different places and periods in history where people risked everything just to help strangers. Today, we can't even break our stride for 2 mins to get help for someone, even with no risk involved! 

What would it take for you to stop and enquire if someone is lying on the floor or who has just collapsed? I can understand if you are on a dark street late at night in a dodgy neighbourhood but that doesn't stop you from calling the police/ambulance for help, does it?

What in the world has happened to the mentality of people today? 
What do you expect would happen if you fell ill on the streets? 
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
If you have ever walked past a collapsed person, what was the reason why you didn't you stop?

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions on any of this. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Is Nothing Ever Your Fault?

There comes a point in life when I feel that people really need to take responsibility for who they are and what they have become. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, neither have I had the luxuries of life handed to me on a plate. I have had to fight for everything I wanted or needed and I have myself to blame for missed opportunities, and for digging my own pit at times. I have had to challenge and oppose the negatives in life in order to succeed or move forward and there were many times when absolutely nothing happened. Life was like a monopoly board, I didn't always know where I would land and how my life would be affected. But, although now, I may be somewhat content, I have definitely not achieved what I wanted to in life but rather been forced to go a completely different way.  

So why is it that some people who didn't achieve what they wanted to in life, blame it all upon their childhood experiences? It seems that all their failures, whether it be in employment, in business, in relationships, in education, and suchlike are always put down to the fact that they had a bad upbringing?

Is this really the case? If you have come from a very abusive, manipulating, controlling, Victorian style upbringing, would it be fair to say that right now the mess you are in, as an independent adult, is because you had a terrible childhood? Or should the fact that you made bad decisions and choices mean it’s your own damn fault? 

Let me be honest, some people like to play the victim. They have endless heart wrenching stories that would bring tears to your eyes and a key to your wallet. They take no responsibility for what they have become, or where they have ended up and attribute all their misfortunes and misadventures to mummy and daddy's fault. It's just amazing how many people in prison, on drugs, homeless etc, blame their background, but nobody seems to look at the fact that if you don't pay the rent but spend it on booze (alcohol), you will in no doubt become homeless, as an example of course. I'm not saying that there aren't any barriers in society. Far from it, but that does not take away the strong element of choice that individuals have in shaping their own future. 

How many times have we seen murderers, thieves and criminals of all kinds, both in real life and on TV crying, blaming everything on their tough background and actually expecting our sympathy!

Have I become so hardened to it all, that I've got my thoughts messed up and our past really does map out our actual future? This is a discussion I've been having recently. 

Would you say that your life has really turned out the way you planned it?
What is the reason why you didn't achieve your own dreams?
How much has your upbringing impacted on who you are and what you do in life today?

Would love to hear your views, ideas and/or opinions on this.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Could You Be a Prostitute?

There are many people on this earth who are single, married, in short or long term relationships or who have one-night-stands whenever they feel like it, but the common denominator is that the sex was consensual. Both parties were happy to oblige and happy to consent with no repercussions.

On the other hand, there are those that will do exactly the same as what I mentioned above, but will simply charge for their time. We call them prostitutes. Prostitution is mainly defined as someone who has sex for money. Simple.

So why do we stick a different label on it when it is still consensual sex, then?

You see, we all know that prostitutes exist, and every country has indirect forms of it, whether it be on the streets, brothels, night clubs, privately at home, massage palours or the escort industry, the list is endless so why the refusal to accept this as just a factor of life? 

Please note, that this is merely a discussion and I'm not here to promote or condone prostitution neither debate the legalities of it, I am also aware that there is another violent and coercive side to prostitution which is unacceptable. That's a different topic. 

Now, if a married woman is really not in the mood for intimacy and asks her husband for money as a kind of incentive for doing something she didn't want to (as an example, a bottle of Lambrini with the girls or a pair of Jimmy Choos shoes) when he wants sex - would you say she was a prostitute? But if that same husband was to go out and pay another woman for sex with the wife's consent, everyone would agree she was a prostitute. What if your partner had such a good intimate time that they decided to offer you a gift, are you then a prostitute? 

So, what's the difference and are we being coherent?

Supposing you had a one night stand and the person decides to leave you a gift or some money because they had such a good night, maybe you even fed them and provided the accommodation. Does accepting that money/gift make you a prostitute? Isn't that the same as what escorts do? They wine and dine and are paid for sex. 

My friend slept with a producer so that they could secure a part in a well known TV series. Would you say they were a prostitute?

People prostitute themselves for many reasons, not only for sex. Some use it as a way to get up the work ladder, to marry someone important, to get that important job etc. etc.  

What would you sell your body for?

In the Hollywood film 'Set It Off' one of the characters sleeps with a local hoodlum in order for her little brother to have an educational opportunity that will get him out of a ghetto situation. You may not want to believe this, but this type of thing happens every day. Is that prostitution?

Love to hear your thoughts, opinions or view on this.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Voter or Joker?

I'm sure that most of the world knows by now, that America is about to take the big vote. Should we be bothered or should we take note? Does it really matter who is in power, after all, whatever these polititians  say now does not always have any affect after they have taken up office, so why is it so important that we should waste our time voting anway?

For many years I have heard many critisms about voting. Some are justified and many are not. 

How can you really just sit back and do nothing, then without shame start to verbally abuse the person in power because of what they are now doing? 

Should we not be happy that we live in societies where we can vote with our feet so to speak without fear of reprisals? Many countries don't have the freedoms we do and voting can be a matter of life or death. 

Just one example, to put my point across, let's look at black people in the US. Digging back into a time AFTER slavery, blacks were discouraged from voting in many states when it should have been a right. They were not given details of how and when to vote, a poll tax was used, knowing they could not afford to pay it,  and even if they could afford it many were not able to read or write. I read today that black slaves were counted as 'three fiths' of a white or freed black person in regards to voting. With that in mind, why wouldn't a black American person do all they can now to exercise that right now?

Conversely, if voting was so insignificant, why did blacks, the common people and women have to fight so hard to win it?

Shouldn't we be overjoyed that the person we voted for will run our country the way we want? Why is it that so many people still feel that it's ok not to vote?

Do we ever think about the harsh struggles that won many of us the vote? But now, years later, after all they suffered we sit back with our legs up, beer or tea in hand, and can't even be bothered to put a tick next to someone who may possibly change our future for the better? 

I know, it's difficult at times. Politicians are notorious for saying one thing, and as soon as they get into power they have a change of stance. But could it be because once in power they were shown what was really going on behind the scenes and their dreams were never going to make reality anyway? 

What if you were not able to vote right now? How would you feel?

What reason do you have for not voting? and can you justify it?

Do you feel that everyone is society should have a vote regardless to their disposition? 
(ie: the over 65's, under 18's, the mentally ill, those in prison etc.)

What do you think about all of this?

I'd love to hear your opinions and comment on this. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

What Price a Clean Conscience?

Wouldn't we all like to retire at a young age with enough money for us to do anything we wanted to do, without considering where the next penny was coming  from? 

Well one man just has. He is 41 years old, retiring from banking and has an estimated £450 million in his pocket. Yes, £450 million. He wants to spend time with his family. Don't we all? But some of us have to continue working our guts out to make ends meet and pay the bills. 

So everyone envies him right? I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this one.

I feel like laughing because he made his money and probably worked damn hard in the process, so good on him. But would you really want to be in his shoes? 

Let's say as a banker he contributed towards this financial crisis that has led to people being thrown on the scrap-heap, families having their houses repossessed, businesses failing, police and protesters getting hurt whilst clashing in riots, and the potential collapse of entire economies. The list could go on. Experts all agree that it was the banking industry that caused this.

So, if the success of this one man has come at the cost of so much pain for so many others, should he really be envied?

What price would you set on having a clean conscience?
Should he be allowed to retire with all this money?
How far would you go for money?
Be honest with me now, is their anyone out there whose morals might become a little bit more flexible, the larger the cash incentive involved? 

All comments, opinions and views most welcome.

Friday, 12 October 2012

My Gender Dilemma - Help!

Well, I have a serious dilemma which I would love you to help me with.
All of my life I have believed you are born either male or female, and those that I called 'trans-gender' would dress as the opposite sex because they simply wanted to, and it was no big thing to them. You wear trousers today and a skirt tomorrow, if you know what I mean.
Years ago, it started to bug me when certain people would say that although they were born male, all their natural tendencies from childhood were to be a woman. They played with dolls, they loved wearing girl's clothes, high heels, loved women's jewelry etc. and this behavior continued into their adulthood, a lot of the times in secret. A similar scenario happened with my gay friend, she said from a child she had always had a natural tendency towards women and that's all she knows. She went through therapy and everything but she is convinced that's how she was made.  I then started to think, with all the abuse gays, trans-gender or similar groups get from society, why would they continue to hold fast to this, and be it in public. Were they really born this way?
Then I discovered there was something called 'intersex'. A person having both the genitalia of a man and woman at the same time (Pseudohermaphroditism) and that there are varying groups within it.
So, as an example, you could actually look like a man on the outside, with male genitals, yet have ovaries like a woman on the inside or vice-versa.

I am quite gob-smacked and shocked and my brain went into fast overdrive. Firstly because it raises the argument that there is a possibility that although you are born male, you didn't just choose to become a woman, but your brain (or whatever the medical term is) actually is that of a woman (I don't know how else to word this). So all the things that these men did from childhood up was actually the same as what little girls do, then women do etc etc. Some of these men (who are women) actually go on to have relationships with other men but don't believe they are gay. Would you call it a heterosexual relationship then?
Now, if all of this is true, then why aren't these people being treated the same as everyone else? Why is it so shocking to see a big burly man dressed up as a woman on a Saturday afternoon whilst shopping?
Dilemma - If all that I have said so far is true, is it fair to now say that it is perfectly natural for him to behave this way?
As a society we accept that people can be born with many physical and mental disabilities, so could it be that at times, and not at anyone's fault, that someone we see as a man could actually be born a woman or visa-versa?
So, we are born male, female and at times intersex!
So another dilemma - Who decides what we are? Is it the doctor, is it us, or is it society?
I would really appreciate your honest views and opinions on this (Help!)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Halloween - Trick or Treat?

It's that time of the year again when I become completely baffled as to why more and more people are partaking in something called Halloween. Nowadays, people are saying that it's harmless fun but from the little I know, how do you reconcile the past with Halloween today?

I'm no historian, but can tell you what I know, and I hope you take the time to fill in any gaps or misinformation on my part. I have never celebrated Halloween. Why?

Wasn't Halloween supposed to be a New Year Celebration of everything that was bad, wicked and evil? If that's true then why are we celebrating it?

How about the massive bonfire? On the most important day in the satanic year pagans, witches, druids etc. would gather around a big 'bone fire' (sic) which consisted of the bones of sacrificed humans and/or animals mixed with timber, and set it alight. This is where we get the name 'bonfire'. Some people even sacrificed themselves! Then when human sacrifices were stopped, effigies were burned instead. That's no joke.

Trick or Treat
Didn't homeowners use to leave food offerings on their door-steps to appease evil spirits? And if the spirits were not happy they would curse the homeowner. 

Didn't pagans, druids etc go door to door singing and praying for the dead? They would be given small cakes for this, and each eaten cake represented the soul of the dead being freed from purgatory. If you didn't provide them with a cake or not enough of it, weren't you and/or your family cursed? Isn't this too similar to what you do when you go trick or treat? If this is true, then what are you teaching your children? to curse your neighbours? Just a thought. 

Maybe I'm being a bit heavy here, but, at the very least, even if you as an adult find this OK, do you really believe it is suitable for children?

Didn't they wear masks or disguises to hide their identity from the roaming spirits to scare them away and that's why people now wear demonic looking masks on Halloween night? How about the famous pumkin lanterns which represent the souls of the dead? Thanks to a man named Jack who was a damned soul, this lantern was used to frighten away evil spirits, hence the carved out face when lit. The same thing is being done today. 

Have you ever thought that you could be unknowingly partaking in a ritual with a darker but real side to it? If you have ever experienced the real power behind satanism or witchcraft (for want of a better word, to make my point) and I'm not talking about wishy-washy magicians who do slight of hand tricks, or those that pretend to do 'natural' magic - then you'll know what I mean, otherwise ignore this sentence. 

You see, I'm just wondering if, by the same token, could it be that many years from now, when enough time has elapsed, we will all be celebrating the holocaust dancing around an oven? It might sound like a wild example, but isn't this what has happened with halloween?

Do you believe that these are the real origins of Halloween?
Is it really harmless fun, or is there a more sinister side to this?

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions on this.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Our World - Progress or Pain?

The world becoming a better place? Really? Take a good look around you.

Mobile phones - We only need watch the news to see how this little gadget has provided us with so much footage of news events as they unfold around the world.

Computers have become a powerful tool in business, education and the home. So much so, that we ask ourselves how we ever managed without them.

Medicine - Mapping the human genome means that we can now tackle more hereditary diseases than ever before.
Massive improvements in cancer treatment have increased the chances of survival of this disease. We have had so many other advances in medicine it doesn't bear thinking about. 

Countries like China, India, Brazil and Russia that were once poor and had an under-educated population are now becoming richer - they can now contribute to the international community in terms of their scientific research and helping other countries out of poverty.

Thanks to a better global transport system, we now have increased access to places and products, which means our diets, communication and cultural awareness are richer and more interesting.  

So the world is becoming a better place... isn't it?

NO, it's getting worse.

Some of that crap we're eating is GM (Genetically Modified) 'frankenstein' foods, so I wouldn't be surprised if you opened up a coffin from today a thousand years from now and find the person perfectly preserved. 

Half of the world is obese whilst the other half starves to death. That's not good is it? 

Science? We are using our skills to develop more sophisticated weaponry to kill off our fellow human beings, is this what we call advancing? If we keep this up, soon there'll be nobody left! 

I'm surprised we can still breathe, the way we pollute the earth and destroy the environment and rain-forests. We are teetering on the brink of a huge catastrophe caused by our own abuse. I'm not surprised man wants to colonise the moon. After ruining the earth we're looking around for another planet to sabotage.

Thought we had advances in medicine, but AIDS is still ravaging whole societies in poorer countries, or is it that we only treat the richer countries with the good medicines? 

Mapping the human genome. Thought this was a good idea, but what about the risks of cloning? The potential for misuse of this knowledge opens up a whole can of worms.

So, I'm confused. Is the world a better place or not?

Is life really improving for people? Are we heading for utopia or catastrophe?
Are all these advances helping or hindering the human race?
What do you see in the society you live in?

Feel free to share your views and opinions.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Greed to Help Others

Give money to charity? What? Me?

Do I look like some sort of mug to you? Do I have 'muppet' or 'cash machine' tattooed on my forehead?

That guy sat on the street is probably only going to spend it on booze or junk anyway. And I don't work hard to subsidise someone else's habit. It's bad enough that the government does this already.

And what about Africa? Pull the other leg, it's got bells on! How do I know that the money gets beyond the pockets of the person I give it to, much less Africa. Probably a penny of every pound reaches there.

And anyway, don't those people need to learn to stand on their own two feet? So long as there's people to give them a handout they're never going to get off their backsides and take care of their business. It just might stop them having so many kids.


Your excuses are just a front for sheer greed. Look how much you've got? Food in the cupboard, a change of clothes and a roof over your head. Do you ever stop to think that the things you take for granted are luxuries to the majority of the world's population?

The reason why your country may be rich is because, historically, it has exploited other countries and robbed them of their natural resources. So why not give a little back?

What's a euro, pound or dollar to you? A couple of packets of biscuits, not even a can of beer. A sixth of a cinema ticket. But to someone else, that can be immunisation for their child against a deadly disease or goes towards a water pump to provide fresh clean water. Still clutching that dollar for dear life? 

How about that guy in rags you pass on your way to the station or supermarket? The one that stinks to high heaven. Alright he may be a faker, but what if he wasn't? What does your conscience tell you? Does it really say it's OK to pass him by, knowing you have some money to give, on the off-chance that he's not genuine?

Why can't we have a greed to help others?

These two voices exist inside my head. Please help me to decide which one to listen to, or better still, what do you do on a daily basis?

Have you ever been in an hour of need? Did people step up to help you or turn their backs?
Conversely, did you step up to help someone who then turned out to be a taker and faker?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this post. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Blaming the Victims

23 years ago Liverpool football fans attended a match at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. The stadium had recently been fitted with a high metal fence between the fans and the pitch to prevent pitch invasions and hooliganism, which was rife at the time. The stadium eventually became full to capacity. Yet still police mistakenly ordered another large gate to be opened and pushed more people into the penned up stadium. 

The resulting crush caused the death of 96 fans (asphyxiated) as they had no way of getting out onto the pitch to escape. Over 700 more fans were injured. In the aftermath, the Liverpool fans were vilified by the press, particularly The Sun newspaper, and the victims blamed for the disaster.  

For 23 years the families of the dead did all they could to get justice for their loved ones. They refused to accept they were the ones to blame. On 12 September 2012, justice was served. An Independent Hillsborough Report Panel made it's conclusions public, and the contents were horrific. Some of the panel's findings stated:

- The police and ambulance service had made a 'strenous attempt' to cover up and hide what really happened on that fateful day
- 116 out of 164 statements were amended, changed and deleted
- Statements they thought were unfavourable or that criticised the police were removed. To put it mildly, the documents were doctored
- Blood alcohol readings were taken from the dead victims, including a 10 yr old boy, in an attempt to demonstrate that fans were drunk. When they could not find alcohol evidence against the victims they even ran a police record check to dig dirt and slur the victims' reputations
- The Hillsborough panel could not find any evidence that the fans didn't have tickets, were violent or highly intoxicated on that day, contradicting what the police had said
- Shockingly, 41 out of the 96 that died could possibly have been saved if the ambulance and/or police had done their jobs properly!
- The football stadium was also criticised for it's severe lack of health and safety
- No Liverpool fan was to be blamed for any of the disastrous events of that day

I don't have the space here to reel off the countless facts that this panel found, but there was a massive cover-up of the truth on that day. 

How could so many individual people from the emergency services we rely upon to protect us and save our lives get it so wrong?
They didn't just fail us, but for 23 years they covered up and twisted the whole blame to stigmatize the actual victims of a tragedy. UNBELIEVABLE. 

So my questions are:
Have you ever been falsely accused of something you didn't do, by family, friends or even an organization? 

We have no choice but to entrust our safety to those who have authority over us, but do you trust them to do the right thing?

Have you ever had to step forward and admit a serious mistake, one that could have resulted in repercussions for you or someone else?

Maybe you need to put something right today and tell the truth. 

I would love to hear your views, comments and opinions on this post.

Friday, 7 September 2012

9/11 - Where Were You?

This is the day in history that will be revered by some and hated by many for years to come. In one day, thousands of lives were taken for a cause that the vast majority of the victims had no dealings in, or could be associated with.

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I suddenly heard the news that a plane had smashed into one of the twin towers in America. I sat in disbelief trying to understand whether it was a deliberate terrorist attack, a suicidal attempt or an accident. When the second plane hit, there was no doubt in mind what was happening. From that point, there was chaos as I began to think about where my family and friends were in America.

My heart goes out to all those innocent people who lost their lives, their loved ones, colleagues and many more. My prayers are with those who were severly injured and to those who will yet lose their lives from illnesses they have developed because of this day. I applaud all the innocent firemen, policemen, medical teams etc. who risked their own lives to help others. Many of them paid the ultimate price for their heroism.

I chose this appropriate 3.5 min video by Allison Crowe, called 'Up to the Mountain', to mark this day for all those who have been affected.

Do you remember where you were and what you was doing on that fateful day?

With all the controversy surrounding whether it was a real terrorist attack or if it was done or allowed by the government, what do you now believe and have your views changed on this?

As a direct consequence of the attacks: the Taliban government has been ousted in Afghanistan, Saddam toppled and Bin Laden executed. Do you believe that America is safer now because of this?

I would love you to share your views/experiences of how 9/11 has affected or impacted on your life today. Feel free to express yourself.

Friday, 31 August 2012

A Woman's Place?

Women. Why is it that I keep hearing how you want to be so equal with men?  You want positions of power within the workplace, you want to run large companies, flying from country to country to do business and conduct meetings. You want to leave the home early in the morning and return late at night and when you do have a moment, you want the luxuries of going out to dinner, expensive holidays and all the freedom that many men have. Hmmm. That's all well and good if you have no responsibilities to take care of. 

But wait! Have you forgotten that you have children languishing at home with no mummy in sight? The children some of you planned to have. Are you happy for another woman to raise your child, cook for them, attend the school plays, tuck them into bed, kiss them better when they fall over, and teach them the way to live?  Really? Some children are even left home alone, fending for themselves for periods of time whilst mummy progresses her career!

So I ask the question - should women with children be working at all until a child is of a certain age?
Doesn't it come down to an unavoidable choice between two options:
EITHER - suspend the career to have children OR - pursue the professional career and not have children.

I'm really not trying to offend career women or women who have to work to put food on the table, but rather have a constructive discussion about those who are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

You see, certain women are putting pressure on their employers by trying to juggle home life, work life and a social life. Women with children are likely to take more time off to deal with child illnesses, school holidays, extra dental and hospital visits etc throughout the whole year. They want to start work later in the mornings and leave earlier in the evenings to do the school runs. They want reduced flexible working hours without complaint. 

What if you are a small business owner? How could you continue to run a successful business if your employees were continually taking time off work due to their children? Can you imagine telling your boss you can't attend the next meeting because little Johnny is having difficulties at school?

If I was to tell you that a mother was neglecting her child, we would all be in uproar, but can neglect also be that the mother is never home to see/take care of her own kids, regardless to how much money she throws at them? 

Is it such a bad thing for women who want to have children to stay at home to raise them properly, then continue later with any career plans they may have?

We continuously blame the parents when children are raised by the streets and go crazy. Is it right to blame society for failing in raising children who should have been raised at home in the first place? We just can't have it both ways. Something has to give. 
How important is it to have a mother at home raising her own children?
Would you give up a career to have children or vice-versa?
Men, what is your opinion about career women having children or Stay-At-Home-Mums?
Ladies, how do you juggle working and being a mother, especially if you are in a prominent position at work?
Would love to hear your views, comments and opinions of this. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Paralympics - Deadly Hidden Harm

The Greek hero Achilles was given a choice. Go to the battle of Troy, win great victories and have his fame live forever or stay at home, live in anonymity and have his name be forgotten. That same choice is being made here and now as London gears up for the 2012 Paralympics.

News agencies are reporting a cheating scandal far more drastic than the doping of regular olympic athletes.

Known as 'Boosting', Paralympians with spinal injuries are causing stress to their bodies which increases the heart rate and blood pressure because this can enhance their performance, giving them a greater edge over other competitors. Those who have spinal injuries may have difficulties raising their blood pressure and heart rate naturally with physical activity, so in order for them to maximise their performance they practice Boosting, which was banned in 1994. 

These same paralympians would go as far as to break bones in their feet, strangle their testicles, electrocute their scrotum (Yikes!), legs and/or feet, or sit on pins and use tight leg straps. 

These are only some of the techniques which have come to the attention of the authorities and it is likely there are more that have not yet come to light. It should be noted, however, that due to their condition, they are insensitive to the pain this would cause.

Boosting can lead to heart attacks, strokes, hypothermia, epilepsy, hypertension and and you could end up bursting blood vessels. All of this to win a medal? Good grief.

Nevertheless, all this raises some questions.

Would you live a mediocre life of everyday struggles and pleasures if you had the chance of immortal glory? Wouldn't it be worth the risk of throwing in all away for that? Just imagine you name in lights forever!

Is Boosting really cheating? Aren't they just manipulating their own bodies to achieve its full potential? 

How about Boxing, Formula One and Free Diving, recognized sports which have cost people their lives? Why can't paralympians have the same right to decide for themselves what risks they wish to take in their pursuit of excellence?

Not everyone will have the chance to go for olympic gold in this way, but is there anything that you would consider risking your health for? Isn't this what firemen, police and soldiers etc. do everyday?

Whatever your views, I would love to hear them.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Worth Killing For?

How far would you go to defend your property? Stab a person several times blinding them in one eye, shoot someone in the legs, attack them with a bat or hockey stick or even go as far as to kill them? These are just some of the varied lengths that homeowners have gone to in order to defend their property. Some homeowners, rightly or wrongly, have even had legal action taken against them by the burglar due to the injuries they received whilst carrying out their unlawful activities. Cruel twist some may say! 

How about if your handbag or jewelry was grabbed from you in the street by a robber, or your car was being 'jacked/stolen' by a thief right in front of you. How far would you go to defend your goods? Some people have chased down the thief and given them a good beating. Others have been killed by their own car wheels whilst struggling to get back what was rightfully theirs. 

I know how hard we have all worked to buy the things we want in life. 

Why should we tolerate a stranger stealthily sneaking through our homes during the midnight hours freely taking what doesn't belong to them? 
Why should we be in fear of our lives and scared to death knowing a trespasser is in our house? After all, if we don't attack them then they may attack us. Burglars don't come round to sit and have a chat, they don't knock the door and leave if you are out. They have one job to do and that is to take your goods. 

Some people even go to the extreme length of keeping a gun in their house for that 'special occasion'.

On the other hand, if we catch them red-handed, why attack?
Isn't it more dangerous to attack, leaving them no choice but to get physical in order to defend themselves? 
After all, we pay hard-earned tax money for a police force to deal with this. Is it really wise to try and do a D.I.Y. job instead of leaving it to the professionals?
Isn't it better to have some security measures such as an alarm etc. and make sure you keep your mobile phone within reach at all times?

What are your views on how the law should respond to this issue?
Do you think those that attack people in their own home deserve to be prosecuted?
What if the person is attacked from behind by the homeowner whilst they are in the process of leaving with the goods?
What if the person is already captured and no longer a threat and still the homeowner goes on beating them into a pulp. Can it be justified?

These are the nitty-gritty situations that occur everyday in the real world.

I would be delighted to hear your answers or viewpoints to any or all of these questions.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Majority of Men Are Evil

“The majority of men are evil” - One of the most earth-shattering statements in the history of philosophy. It was coined by a man called Bias, the most famous of the Seven Sages.
So acutely aware was he of its implications that he was actually reluctant even to express this judgment. It’s easy to see why, if we just think about it. 

Can you imagine what would happen if we took it seriously to heart? It has the power to devastate the foundations of relationships, families and whole societies.

Relationships are based on trust – but how can we reach out to our fellow man, if we harbour in our hearts the suspicion that he is, more likely than not, evil? We wouldn’t even be able to get started.

Businesses are built on contracts – but who would join in a venture if he didn’t trust his associates? The meaning of even money itself is based on a promise to ‘pay the bearer’. Would it be possible for such mass cooperation to take place without faith in our neighbour to act fairly?

Societies are built on law – but how can the law function in an environment where most people are evil? Sooner or later it would have to disintegrate.

But surely with the advantage of hindsight we can see he was mistaken… wasn’t he?

But then again, how do we account for the holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade, the genocidal wars that have marked human history across the globe into ages past? How do we account for the greed and selfishness that surrounds us every day?

Is there any hope for humanity?

Is it rational, or even sane to have any hope at all in human nature?

I would welcome any thoughts any of you may have on this.

This post has been written by a guest writer called Alex, who I know personally and have invited to contribute this week. He'll respond to any comments.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Earthly Paradise or Living Hell?

London, one of the most amazingly beautiful, culturally diverse places on this planet. East London, where I live, is a place of hope for the privileged and despair for the unfortunate. A clear divide between the rich and poor. As I look out of my windows I'll give you a glimpse of what I see and tell you what I know.  

I see cars that cost more than houses being privately parked by valets, whilst the poor fight and struggle to get a parking space on the streets. I see security guards patrolling and protecting assets whilst at the same time keeping out those of no monetary value. ME. I see well groomed communal gardens, maintained to a high standard set aside for the wealthy whilst the 'not so wealthy' others have to find a dirty old park somewhere else to stretch their legs. I see multi-million pound flats all around me, unoccupied most of the year whilst others live in damp, over-crowded housing conditions, waiting on a list for something better, like a decent place to live. 

Walk our streets and see the private nurseries, over priced designer shops, high end restaurants, cafeterias and top class hotels then look at the prices and tell me who this is for. Yachts of all shapes and sizes are docked by our window. Speed boats zoom by on a warm day, flaunting their wealth for all to see. Now listen to the locals, those who were here before money took over and you will hear a different story. 

Something that outsiders don't always see is that my London is splitting at the seams. The riots were evidence of this tension spilling out into the mainstream. For a brief moment the public were exposed to the frustration, violence and fury that are an everyday reality for many.

For some, the difference between heaven and hell is the balance of your bank account.

Please listen carefully to the words of this 2.48 minute video from George the Poet, a young 21 yr old man studying at Cambridge University who gives us an alternative view of London. It's brilliant. 

How's life in your neck of the woods?
Do you see such a huge contrast where you live?
What are the tensions in your area?
Is what is happening in London unique or typical of big cities across the world?
Isn't the divide between rich and poor wider now than it was before?
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