Friday, 31 December 2010

'AUSTERITY Brits plan to slash nearly £9bn from personal spending' - someone's got to pay the bankers & it's you!

25 October 2010

Freeview research reveals Brits planning to slash nearly £9bn from personal spending in next six months

Nearly three quarters of Brits (71%) are preparing a lifestyle change as age of austerity approaches

  • Brits plan cutbacks of nearly £200 each on average over next six months
  • 81% of people value best free things in life over money and possessions, with love (21%), laughter (15%) and friendship (15%) the most important amongst them
  • More than 6 out of 10 respondents (61%) are planning to cut back on Christmas costs with 40 per cent set to slash spending on presents
  • Out of all the regions in Britain, Londoners get most pleasure from earning money (20%) while Scots get least satisfaction from spending it (1%)

Freeview, the UK’s biggest digital TV provider, in conjunction with YouGov, today reveals that £8.68 billion (See note1) worth of personal cutbacks are being planned in the next six months alone, as the nation braces itself for tough financial times ahead.

The findings, part of Freeview’s study of over 2,000 people into the projected impact on the British public of the Government’s recent spending cut announcements, reveal that the average Brit will be looking to cut expenditure each by £183(See note 2) over the next six months. The comparative figure for Wales is £255(2), whilst for Scotland it is a whopping £319(2).

The research also shows that almost 3 out of 4 people (71 per cent) are preparing to make money saving lifestyle changes.

The most popular ways to save money selected are:

  1. Cook instead of eating out or getting a takeaway (47%)
  2. Make lunch instead of buying it (46%)
  3. Cut down on socialising by staying at home (32%)
  4. Watch free TV channels instead of paying for subscription TV (22%)
  5. Walk / cycle / instead of using public transport / driving (22%)

According to the research, Christmas will not escape the population’s own budget cuts. Nearly two thirds of the nation (61 per cent) plan to spend less on Christmas this year with nearly 40 per cent planning to spend less on Christmas presents this year compared to 2009. Men should brace themselves for disappointment since 47 per cent of women say they plan to spend less on presents, compared to only 32 per cent of men.

The good news is that eight out of ten Brits (84 per cent) believe that time spent with family is the most important ingredient for a perfect Christmas, with one in six people (17 per cent) saying Christmas telly will play a key part.

The research also demonstrates the importance of the things in life that are free. The research explored what people valued the most from a list of ten items – five of which were free (love, friends, compliments, free time, peace and quiet), the remainder have material value (holidays, clothes, money, eating out and mobile phone). From the list, over eight out of ten (81 per cent) of respondents chose the free items as being the most important.

As Brits prepare to tough it out through challenging times, nearly half the nation (45 per cent) believes that the best things in life are free, while more than half the nation say that money can’t buy you happiness (53 per cent). Love, laughter and friendship are the nation’s favourite free things in life, as Brits overwhelmingly look to simple pleasures and each other instead of materialistic distractions.

The nation’s favourite free things in life are listed below:

  1. Love (21%)
  2. Laughter (15%)
  3. Friendship (15%)
  4. Sex (9%)
  5. Peace and quiet (8%)
  6. Sunshine (7%)
  7. Fresh air (4%)
  8. Free time (4%)
  9. Hugs (4%)
  10. Sleep (4%)

While the nation is in agreement as a whole on life’s priorities, the sexes still display huge differences, with one in six men (16 per cent) claiming sex is the most important free thing in life to them, compared to only one in 50 women (2 per cent). Seven times as many women (7 per cent) compared to men (1 per cent) rank hugs as their favourite free thing, with a third more men (10 per cent) valuing simple peace and quiet than woman (7 per cent). Nearly twice as many women (19 per cent) enjoy laughter more than men (11 per cent) with twice as many men (6 per cent) to women (3 per cent) finding most contentment in sleep.

Across Britain Londoners (20 per cent) get more joy out of earning money than people in any other part of the country, while Scots get the least amount of satisfaction from spending it (1 per cent). And retired people (12 per cent) get more joy out of giving money than people in full time employment (3 per cent).

Ilse Howling, MD of Freeview, commented: “It’s encouraging to see that as personal finances come under pressure the nation believes that money isn’t everything and that the best things in life come without a price tag attached. With love, laughter and friendship key to people’s happiness, Freeview believes that everyone has the right to good times and good TV for free, without adding to your monthly bills.”

Notes:

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2106 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 18th October 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
  1. Freeview calculations based on 47.4 million adults (18+) and percentage of people planning to save over a six month period. Monetary value taken as mid-point in specified range
    a. 13 % x £12.50 per month = £77.02 million
    b. 10% x £38 per month = £180.12 million
    c. 5% x £63 per month = £149.31 million
    d. 5 % x £88 per month = £291.98 million
    e. 4% x £125 per month = £237.95 million
    f. 2% x £175.50 per month = £166.37 million
    g. 2% x £225.50 per month = £213.77 million
    h. 1 % x £275.50 per month = £130.59 million
    i. Total = 1.44 billion
    j. X 6 months = 8.68 billion
  2. Average cutback per adult in Britain = 8.68bn / 47.4m = £183

Calculations of total amount to be saved for Scotland based on 4.1 million adults 18+ and percentage of those planning to save varying amounts over a six month period, following the above format.

Calculations of total amount to be saved for Wales based on 2.4 million adults 18+ and percentage of those planning to save varying amounts over a six month period, following the above format.

Click on link for full report

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Top 10 Women Photographers - do you agree with the list?

Monday, 27 December 2010

'Blessed are the cheese-makers' as N Ireland's Dr P so aptly said.

Are the glory of our cheeses - my Stilton Blue from Sainsbury's this years was magnificent.

To see the 100s of cheeses we produce see here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_cheeses

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

| False Economy - arguing why the current cuts are wrong

About us

False Economy is for everyone concerned about the impact of the government’s spending cuts on their community, their family or their job.

It is brought to you by local campaigners, those who rely on or support good public services and those who work to supply them.

False Economy’s supporters want to build the broadest possible movement that can get the government to change direction.

Of course the country has been damaged by the recession, but there are alternatives to these deep, rapid cuts.

The government’s cuts are unfair, risk the fragile economic recovery and fail to make those who caused the crash pay a proper contribution through the tax system to clearing up the mess they made.

False Economy is not a top-down national organisation.

We recognise that there will be many campaigns against cuts, with some based locally, others that link up people in particular sectors, and others that bring together national organisations. Not all will agree on every aspect or share the same priorities.

But while we welcome and respect this diversity, we believe that we will be more effective when we work together, share information and pool resources.

False Economy will grow and develop as the campaign develops, but we launch with these initial objectives:

  • To gather and map information and personal testimony about the cuts and their effects
  • To show that there are alternative economic approaches
  • To provide resources and tools for campaigners and campaign groups

False Economy is for everyone who thinks the coalition is cutting too much, too fast and wants to do something about it.

How we are run

False Economy came about through discussions between on-line activists, campaigners and trade unions. Out of this a small working group was formed to guide the creation of False Economy. The site was built by Clifford Singer, who developed MyDavidCameron and runs The Other TaxPayers’ Alliance. We are grateful to pre-launch financial support from the TUC, Unison, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Fire Brigades Union. We are now seeking further funding, and will soon be able to accept donations online.

False Economy working group
Supporters

Here are some of our initial supporters. We welcome further supporting organisations – both nationally and locally – other than political party groups. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Thank you

Hilary Aked, Captain Ska, Deborah Allwright, Julia Bard, Chris Coltrane, Jim Cranshaw, Lucian Evans, Josie Long, Alex Stobart, Sam West and John Wood.


Contact us

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Robin Hood Tax - but will Putin support it?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Beautifully put - with such guys there is hope

One comment - I see human reality as 'Justice is the conditioner of Truth, Beauty & Goodness - which are the three great illuminations and ways of engagement of the human spirit.'

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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wonderful range of Chines soup recipes

My soup recipe index - an A to Z list of chinese soup recipes

The best eating we ever did was in China!

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The Magic of Homemade Chinese Soups. The place for oriental recipes and homemade soups

Bring the love and magic of homemade Chinese soups into your home via your kitchen with FREE information from this website.

  1. Cook your first pot of delicious and nutritious homemade chinese soup

  • Enhance the health-giving benefits of your meals by serving some common chinese herbal soups
  • Nurse your homesickness or craving by replicating that well-loved chinese soup from home
  • Increase your repertoire of chinese soups beyond a Spartan egg drop soup
  • Walk into a chinese grocery store and shop with more confidence and less bewilderment
  • Many chinese restaurants serve wonderful luxurious chinese soups such as shark fin soup and Buddha jumps over the wall using expensive ingredients and elaborate cooking techniques.

    When they are served, they are both a feast for the eyes and for the stomach. A gastronomical experience indeed!

    But magical moments with chinese soups happen in the humble home kitchen.

    Home-cooked, with simple ingredients, using simple cooking methods, using simple cooking utensils, served piping hot ... with love.

    MAGICAL!


    Why homemade chinese soups?

    Hi, my name is Phoebe and I live on a small tropical island republic in Southeast Asia called Singapore.

    me

    There are many chinese living here, mostly descendants of immigrants from China.

    I grew up with homemade chinese soups at our dinner table.

    They were common sight and for many years chinese soups were just part of the meal, nothing special. I took what I know and enjoy about chinese soups for granted.

    They have been a good friend: comforting me when I am sick or cold and pampering me when I have a tummy ache.

    I have even lost weight drinking chinese soups.

    I am not an expert cook and I do not spend long hours in the kitchen nor do I want to. The chinese soups I make have to be easy and hassle-free.

    My late grandma will shake her head by my minimalist cooking approach.

    What to do? I have been corrupted by modernity.

    I know that many people are interested in chinese food but are unfamiliar with chinese vegetables, chinese food items, condiments, chinese cooking tools and preparation methods such as the simmering method, the double-boiling method, and how to thicken soup.

    It would be a shame to let these stop people from enjoying chinese soups.

    This is why I created this website. All that I know about homemade chinese soups I have attempted to record down here.

    I hope you will make use of the information here to prepare some nice chinese soups for your family, friends and most importantly, for yourself.


    What you will find on this website

  • chinese soups and their health benefits
  • different cooking techniques and types of chinese soup pots
  • a list of chinese soup recipes including the famous wonton soup, chinese congee, hot and sour soups and egg drop soups
  • articles on some common chinese soup ingredients like lotus root, chicken, chinese herbs, tofu and etc
  • articles on soups with specific functions such as for colds and slimming
  • places where you can share your soup or food stories, pictures, "secret" recipes and changes to my recipes with like-minded people here.
  • and many more ...


    Navigating this website

    For the wanderer

    The left side navigation bar is arranged alphabetically. (if they are not, it means I am working on them...)

    You will find links to soups made with certain key ingredients such as beef soups, chicken soups, egg drop soups, fish soups, herbal soups, pork soups, lotus root soups and vegetarian soups.

    There are also links to soups for various functions such as soups for cold and soups for weight loss.

    I have also included pages on 2 all-time favourites: fabulous wontons, and comforting rice congee.

    For the purposeful

    If you are interested in recipes for homemade soups, you can browse my growing list of chinese soup recipes.

    I will also try to include links to good recipes I found online, especially those with wonderful colour pictures and clear instructions. Best of all, they are tried and tested recipes.

    Finally,

    THANK YOU for visiting!


    The best eating ever was on our trip to China!

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    Resource on Mysticism - The Mystic's Vision - hosted by Swami Abhayananda

    I can't vouch for it but it looks to contain useful work

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    Masters of Photography Diane Arbus Part 1

    Carly Simon - You're So Vain

    Just realized she could be sister to Richard Branson!

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    David Mitchell gets Grumpy About Kids' Stuff

    Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce

    Sunday, 14 November 2010

    BBC Four's brilliant 'Getting On'

    Genius comedy drama that shows Jo Brand is a fine actress and co-writer as well as a top stand-up comedian.

    The consultant is monstrous - worthy of Dickens!

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    Thursday, 19 August 2010

    STOP THE TRAFFIK

    START FREEDOM - Our Aims

    Do you realise that two children are trafficked every minute?

    And do you realise that you have the power to help stop it?

    START FREEDOM equip young people around the world to become advocates for trafficked people and help those at risk stay safe.

    Whether you're a student, teacher, youth leader, club or society member you can be part of START FREEDOM.

    Steps to START FREEDOM:

    1. SIGN UP!

    • Young people, take the lead! Sign up your school / college /club and tell your teachers you want to START FREEDOM!
    • Teachers and youth group leaders sign up to gain privileged access to START FREEDOM tool kits, packed with creative lessons and activities to educate and motivate young people to act
    • Whatever age you are and whether you are part of a school or not send a letter asking your local schools to get involved. Follow this link for example letter.

    All resources are translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Dutch and Hindi.

    2. The Challenge

    The challenge is for young people to creatively express their response to trafficking and take the message into their community. This can be through street theatre, film, dance, art, writing, photography... you name it, the stage is yours!

    3. Go to www.startfreedom.org and tell the world how you’ve been STARTing FREEDOM

    Half of all trafficking victims are under 18. We want young people all over the world to:

    • THINK about it
    • LEARN about it
    • HELP STOP IT

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    Tuesday, 17 August 2010

    Petition: Stop the Stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran

    Stop Stoning Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani

    Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani is a forty-three year old mother of two children, 16 & 20 year old respectively. Both Sakine's children and her lawyer tried everything they could to stop the stoning sentence, as a result of committing adultery. However, her stoning is finalized by the Iran's court. Sakine is in Tabriz prison awaiting her imminent stoning sentence.

    The barbaric act of stoning must stop now!
    _______________________________________
    June 26, 2010
    Plea to the world by Skanie's Children

    Do not allow our nightmare become a reality,
    Protest against our mother’s stoning!

    Today we stretch out our hands to the people of the whole world. It is now five years that we have lived in fear and in horror, deprived of motherly love. Is the world so cruel that it can watch this catastrophe and do nothing about it?

    We are Sakine Mohammadi e Ashtiani’s children, Fasride and Sajjad Mohamamadi e Ashtiani. Since our childhood we have been acquainted with the pain of knowing that our mother is imprisoned and awaiting a catastrophe. To tell the truth, the term "stoning" is so horrific that we try never to use it. We instead say our mother is in danger,she might be killed, and she deserves everyone's help.

    Today, when nearly all options have reached dead-ends, and our mother's lawyer says that she is in a dangerous situation, we resort to you. We resort to the people of the world, no matter who you are and where in the world you live. We resort to you, people of Iran, all of you who have experienced the pain and anguish of the horror of losing a loved one.

    Please help our mother return home!

    We especially stretch our hand out to the Iranians living abroad. Help to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality. Save our mother. We are unable to explain the anguish of every moment, every second of our lives. Words are unable to articulate our fear…

    Help to save our mother. Write to and ask officials to free her. Tell them that she doesn’t have a civil complainant and has not done any wrong. Our mother should not be killed. Is there any one hearing this and rushing to our assistance?

    Faride and Sajjad Mohammadi e Ashtiani

    Disseminated by the International Committee Against Stoning

    Mina Ahadi +49 177 569 2413
    ___________________________________
    Letter Translation: Mission Free Iran

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    Wednesday, 11 August 2010

    UK Foreign Secrtary William Hague appalled at treatment by Iranian authorities of Baha'is

    Foreign Secretary William Hague has made a statement following the sentencing of 7 spiritual leaders of the Bahá'í faith to 20 years in prison.

    On hearing this news, the Foreign Secretary said:

    "I was appalled to hear of the 20 year prison sentence handed out to the seven spiritual leaders of the Bahá’í faith in Iran. This is a shocking example of the Iranian state’s continued discrimination against the Bahá’ís. It is completely unacceptable.

    The Iranian judiciary has repeatedly failed to allay international and domestic concerns that these seven men and women are guilty of anything other than practising their faith. It is clear that from arrest to sentencing, the Iranian authorities did not follow even their own due process, let alone the international standards to which Iran is committed. The accused were denied proper access to lawyers, and there is evidence that the trial was neither fair nor transparent.

    I call on the Iranian authorities urgently to consider any appeal against this decision, and to cease the harassment of the Bahá’í community. I further call on the Iranian Government to ensure that the rights of all individuals are fully protected, without discrimination, and that it fulfils its obligations to its own citizens as set out in the Iranian constitution."

    -0-

    See story source here at Foreign and Commonwealth Office website - http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=22683999#

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    Tuesday, 3 August 2010

    Stunning story about learning alternative to prison | Society | The Guardian

    MITCHELL ROUSE Mitchell Rouse who faced a 60-year prison sentence for drug offences was instead put on probation and sentenced to read. Photograph: Michael Stravato/Polaris

    With one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and the death penalty, the US state of Texas seems the last place to embrace a liberal-minded alternative to prison. But when Mitchell Rouse was convicted of two drug offences in Houston, the former x-ray technician who faced a 60-year prison sentence – reduced to 30 years if he pleaded guilty – was instead put on probation and sentenced to read.

    Click on link to read this inspiring Guardian story - why oh why can't we have similar schemes in he UK?

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    Rocklist.net is asking for ideas on your favourite music

    Want some ideas of what to fill that 160 Gb iPod up with?

    At the end of each year, critics & readers of music publications select their favourite albums and singles of the year.

    Lists from publications including: New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Select, Q, Mojo, Rolling Stone, Spin, & Village Voice, various European publications and several independent fanzines from around the globe plus the complete John Peel Festive 50's are included on this site.

    There are critic single and album lists from 1974 to 2009, pop poll results from 1952 to 2009, personal lists from critics including Dave Marsh and Robert Christgau plus All Time Best Film Soundtrack and Banned recordings.

    They maintain list of favourite music gleaned from a range of periodicals including NME Ne Musical Express - click through and take a look.

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    SAMBA: Batala Banda De Percussao Drums Liverpool Hope Street

    UK & Irish Samba association | "All aspects of Afro - Brazilian music & dance forms"

    Second cool Drum Master! - London School of Samba rehearsal before Nottinghill Carnival

    BBC - Learning Zone Class Clips - Samba drumming - Music

    Great stuff from the BBC - I love the cool Drum Master - and the even cooler kid in the shades!

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    Monday, 2 August 2010

    Beware unmarked police cars - 112 works from a mobile - from The KempTown Rag

    I didn’t know about 112 did you?

    This is useful advice verified by the Police. The number 112 does work from a mobile.
    The following story actually happened to someone. Lauren was 19 yrs old and in college. It was the Saturday night and it was about 1.00pm in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend, when an unmarked police car pulled up behind her and put its lights on. Lauren's parents have four children (of various ages) and have always told them never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather wait until they get to a service station, etc
    So Lauren, remembering her parents' advice, telephoned 112 from her mobile phone. This connected her to the police dispatcher she told the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing blue light on his rooftop behind her and that she would not pull over right away but wait until she was in a service station or busy area. The dispatcher checked to see if there was a police car where she was and finding there wasn't and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back-up already on the way.
    Ten minutes later four police cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
    I did not know that bit of advice, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you do not have to pull over for an unmarked car.
    Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a 'safe' place. You obviously need to make some signals that you acknowledge them I.e, put on your hazard lights or call 112 as Lauren did. Too bad the mobile phone companies don't give you this little bit of wonderful information.
    112 is an emergency number on your mobile that takes you straight to the police. It is also used throughout EU countries.

    Pow!

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    Sunday, 1 August 2010

    How can "2.8 on 15" be deeply moving? - Photographer Rena Effendi's best shot | Art and design | The Guardian

    Rena Effendi Best ShotView larger picture 'I was paralysed' ... Rena Effendi's Best Shot Photograph: Rena Effendi/INSTITUTE/-

    I took this photograph in Mahalla, one of the old neighbourhoods in my hometown of Baku, Azerbaijan.

    Click on link to read article.

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    Saturday, 31 July 2010

    Stories help maths - check out this site

    Interested in film (movies) - check out Jim Emerson's website (same home as Roger Ebert)

    Kristin Thompson, author of "Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique," a book I can't believe I haven't read and have therefore just ordered, explores her observations and theory of story structure in a blog entry called "Times go by turns," which gets to the heart of how movie storytelling works by showing how familiar structures involve the use of more than the "three acts" we're accustomed to thinking about. She was inspired by the Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image conference in June at the University of Wisconsin in Madison -- and, boy, does that ever sound like something that would be up my street. (Also: See my post "Tell me a story... or don't.")

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    Tuesday, 27 July 2010

    Hitler plans to upgrade to Windows 7

    ABOUT 25 Stratford Grove

    25 STRATFORD GROVE is a large terrace house with a garden in Heaton, Newcastle where artists can make work, think about work, reflect on work and show their work.  25SG is an ‘incubator’ space for developing new ideas and thinking about fresh ways of creating.  This is a supportive environment where artists are encouraged to try, take risks and exchange ideas.

    Inside the House

    Inside the House, image: Arto Polus

    Artist Carole Luby lives in the house and has developed the concept organically over several years. In 2007 and 2008 Carole experimented with the house as a meeting place for artists, a performance space and as a temporary residency centre.  Since Spring 2009 the activity has increased dramatically with a number of artists being invited to work in residence and the additional development of critique group meetings.

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    Sunday, 18 July 2010

    Living Life From A Sacred Place of Compassion - check out Ken Lauher's story

    taoist quotesThere is a widely told story that speaks to the value of compassion. It seems that a woman who lived a Tao-centered life came upon a precious stone while sitting by the banks of a running stream in the mountains, and she placed this highly valued item in her bag.

    The next day, a hungry traveler approached the woman and asked for something to eat. As she reached into her bag for a crust of bread, the traveler saw the precious stone and imagined how it would provide him with financial security for the remainder of his life. He asked the woman to give the treasure to him, and she did, along with some food. He left, ecstatic over his good fortune and the knowledge that he was now secure.

    A few days later the traveler returned and handed back the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he told her. "Although I know how valuable this is, I'm returning it to you in the hopes that you could give me something even more precious."

    What might that more precious thing be?

    Want to know how the story ends?

    Click on his site - http://www.kenlauher.com/daily-wisdom/bid/34582/Living-Life-From-A-Sacred-Pla...[Living+Life+From+A+S]

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    Saturday, 17 July 2010

    Present moment reminder from Eckhart - nice one!

    weekly
    I was going for a walk near Los Angeles and there was a collapsed building that had burned down 40 years ago. The roof was gone and trees were growing inside the building and it struck me as beautiful, wonderful to see how form returns to the formless. The city council had put up a sign which to me was a sacred sutra. The sign said: 'Danger, all structures are unstable.' To me, that was a holy sign. I said, 'thank you.'

    -0-

    SEE - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eckhart_Tolle

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    Friday, 16 July 2010

    The Other TaxPayers' Alliance | Fairer taxes not lower taxes

    What's wrong with the TaxPayers' Alliance?

    TaxPayers' Alliance logoThe TaxPayers' Alliance is a tremendously successful campaign group. Barely a day goes by without Chief Executive Matthew Elliott appearing in the media, representing the views of "ordinary taxpayers". In fact never a day goes by: the Alliance boasts an average hit rate of 13 media appearances a day and puts the links on its website to prove it.

    Margaret ThatcherThe problem is that it isn't an alliance of ordinary taxpayers at all. It is an alliance of right-wing ideologues. Its academic advisory council is a who's who of the proponents of discredited Thatcherite policies, including Eamonn Butler and Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, academics Patrick Minford and Kenneth Minogue, and former Institute of Directors policy head Ruth Lea.

    Not everything the TPA says is wrong. Who could disagree with its commitment to "criticise all examples of wasteful and unnecessary spending", or to putting 2012 London Olympic spending under scrutiny? But the Alliance's concern for better public spending is a stepping stone to its desire for less public spending. And far from being a voice for "ordinary" taxpayers, its policies – opposing all tax rises (what, for everyone, in any circumstance?) and backing a flat rather than progressive tax – will increase inequality and shift wealth from poor to rich.

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    Wednesday, 14 July 2010

    Is this the best (free) 'Introduction to Philosophy' on line?

    Stephen Palmquist teaches at Hong Kong Baptist University. His course is both published as a book and is also available as an on-line document The blurb for Dr Palmquist's book The Tree of Philosophy: A course of introductory lectures forbeginning students of philosophy. (Third edition) reads thus;   *Insight*. What is it? Where does it come from? Is it possible to *do* anything to increase our capacity for insight? In the course of introducing a wide range of philosophical issues, this book focuses special attention on examining how insight functions. Learning how to understand and assess insights, Palmquist claims, is the single most important reason to study philosophy. Four provocative "Questions For Further Thought" at the close of each chapter encourage readers to go beyond the letter of the text in search of their own philosophical insights. Distinguishing insights from our ordinary ("analytic") way of thinking leads Palmquist to coin the term "synthetic logic". Whereas analytic logic enables us to construct accurate theories about the world of *sight*, "synthetic logic ... fires our imagination with *insight*" (p.81). Because philosophical insights are often expressed in abstract terms that impede beginners from recognizing their significance, Palmquist employs diagrams as "maps", guiding the reader to a more concrete grasp of such ideas. The title sets the analogy that governs the organization of the entire book: 28 chapters are divided into four parts, examining the roots (metaphysics), trunk (logic), branches (science), and leaves (ontology) of the philosophical tree. Palmquist also applies organic metaphors to specific philosophical issues. For example, in emphasizing the need to balance insight with critical thinking, he says (p.111): "An insight must be planted, watered, and nurtured by our constant attention if it is to grow into an idea worth considering by other people, not just held by ourselves as a personal opinion." Most of the major western philosophers from the pre-Socratics to Wittgenstein are given a hearing, as are several ancient Chinese philosophers. The ideas of Aristotle and Kant are treated most fully. Each chapter concludes with a list of "Recommended Readings", many taken from the classical texts discussed in the chapter itself. Based on the lecture notes for the Introduction to Philosophy classes Palmquist teaches to university students in Hong Kong, *The Tree of Philosophy* is written in a conversational style, without footnotes. Although it is certainly not a traditional introductory textbook, it makes good reading for anyone interested in a balanced and spirited account of the nature of philosophy. In an introductory course, especially for non-majors, it could serve as a challenging and thought-provoking supplementary text.  The Tree of Philosophy: A course of introductory lectures forbeginning students of philosophy. Third edition. By Stephen Palmquist, D.Phil. (Oxon). Philopsychy Press (P.O. Box 1224, Shatin, Hong Kong), 1995. 210 pages. 76 diagrams. Index of Names. Softcover. US$12 (air) or $8 (sea).

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    Sunday, 4 July 2010

    My favourite 'God quotes'


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    "God has no religion."  Mahatma Gandhi

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    "You must believe in God, despite what the clergy tell you." - Benjamin Jowett

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    "In the absence of any other proof the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence." - Isaac Newton

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    "I think it is a sign of human weakness to try to find out the shape and form of God." - Pliny the Elder

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    "That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. - Albert Einstein  (I would prefer 'superior' being to 'superior reasoning')

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    "The nature of God is a circle of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere." - Empedocles (The only 'definition' of God that works?)

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    "God is a verb, not a noun....". - Buckminster Fuller

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    "God is beauty" - St Francis of Assisi

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    "God speaks to us every day, but we don't know how to listen." - Mahatma Ghandi

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    The sun, with all those planets revolving round it and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do." - Galileo Galilei

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    "Why dost thou prate of God?  What ever thou sayest of him is untrue." - Meister Eckhart

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    SOURCE - pp 136-7 Advanced Banter by Lloyd & Hutchinson

    Sun image and image of grapes from WikiPedia

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    Friday, 2 July 2010

    Monday, 21 June 2010

    Mark asks a great question about the small decisions in our lives

    Part of being human means dividing our lives into neat little boxes, boxes that are easy to look at and understand from the outside.  It comes as a matter of course that in order to simplify what would normally be complex decision-making, we must reduce the complex world around us into categories.  This can sometimes be extremely helpful, but in many ways, it is horribly painful for everyone.  The most obvious negatives are the tragic ones: like racism, political extremism, ultra-nationalism resulting in wars and conflicts.

    The goal of those who wish to control us, our minds, our thoughts, our money, make it their business to reduce complex decision-making to very simple emotions.  Nowhere is this more evident than the super market aisle.

    A Fred Meyer's Supermarket in Portland.

    What is it about the small, repeated decisions in life –why do they lend themselves to being made with little to no thought at all?

    My answer is to have consciously a sense of the Whole - and small decisions are easier.

    I had a go here - http://sunwalked.wordpress.com/courses/the-heart-of-all-of-the-courses-deepen...

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    Wednesday, 9 June 2010

    Found a great starter quote on what it is to be human - thanks to Richard Kahn


    Homo sapiens has been variously described as a symbol-making animal, a tool-making animal, a social animal, a political animal, a rational animal, and a spiritual animal.  Each of these characteristics has been identified as the basic element which distinguishes Homo from the rest of animal nature and gives him (her) his distinctively human characteristics.  It may now be that Homo should not only be described biologically as Homo sapiens but socially and culturally as Homo educans.  It may well be that the most apt way to describe the process of man's becoming human is to say that he became a teaching and learning animal.      R Freeman Butts

    The truth of humans as Homo educans is undeniable - we learn faster & deeper than other animals and we pass on a far richer culture - we're also far more creative in our brutishness.

    However for me as an educator it is a case of our having evolved as Homo meaning-maker (whatever the correct Latin for that is).

    Meaning is not primarily a commodity; it is the glue that binds all relationships. It is what enables patterns, community, belonging, our stories and a sense of the whole. 

    Enrichment in meaning-making possibilities heals, and can also transform the alienated into greater positivity.

    It is the educator's nurturing of meaning-making possibilities for the learner - in the 4 prime characteristics of being human, our Caring, Our Creativity, Our Criticality and our acting in Community - that provides a human-centred leaning matrix in which technical stuff from learning to read to Ph.D.s in engineering.

    My work is HERE

    There is a very condensed version of the model which eventually leads to the Ph.D.Thesis

    Butts R F The Education of the West: A formative Chapter in the History of Civilization  (New York: McGraw-Hill 1973) 

    SEE ALSO Richard Kahn's paper here

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    Thursday, 3 June 2010

    Interesting article re: On Distraction by Alain de Botton, City Journal Spring 2010

    One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.

    The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties—something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. We leave a movie theater vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film’s values. Yet by the following evening, our experience is well on the way to dissolution, like so much of what once impressed us: the ruins of Ephesus, the view from Mount Sinai, the feelings after finishing Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.

    A student pursuing a degree in the humanities can expect to run through 1,000 books before graduation day. A wealthy family in England in 1250 might have owned three books

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    Click on link to read article

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