Archive for September, 2012

Have you ever wondered whether there is anything you can do to change the world?  The answer to that is that yes, you can.  In fact, too many people right now sit on their sofas and do nothing but complain about today’s world.  They complain about the economy, they complain about the government, they complain about their lives.  But they do nothing about it.  These people, really, have no right to speak.  Tell them that they can make a change and they will say no one will ever listen to them anyway.  They are just one person, so what difference can they make?  In fact, they – and you – can do a lot!

Using Social Media

One great way to get any message that you want to convey across is to use social media.  Facebook is a fantastic medium to reach a really wide audience. There are loads of pages and groups you can join where you can get inspiration.  Not just that, you are instantly not alone.  A word of warning: you will find out who your friends really are.  Many will say that they grow tired of your ideologies, hide your picture feed (at best) or remove you from their friends list (at worst).  If that is the case, don’t change what you are doing.  Be happy for the fact that you got to know that some people find it more important to tell the world what they had for breakfast and that you no longer need to associate with them.

Sign and Create Petitions

There are lots of online petition websites.  You can go here to sign petitions for causes that you agree with and know that they will be sent to the right people.  Sign up to their newsletters, so you receive an email when a new petition is made available or when action is taken on the basis of a petition that you have signed.  There are also a number of websites where you can start your own petitions, the UK Government’s e-petitions website being a good example of this.  These petitions are all viewed and although action may not be taken, your message will at the very least be heard.

Change the World by Focussing on the Nice Things

You can change the world by telling everybody what you think about the economy and the government.  However, rather than fighting the bad, you can also support the good.  The book 365 ways to change the world, for instance, will show you a day by day idea that you can do to change the world.  Most of these ideas are free, which is great as well.  The ideas are about raising awareness about the goodness that is out there and you can contribute to that.

So, at the risk of sounding like a horrible politician myself: change starts at home.  You, as an individual, can change the world.  You can do things that make a difference and your views can be heard.  I would love to hear ideas you have about how to make the world a better place, please share!

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I hear you laughing!  Don’t all politicians lie?  Well yes, they do.  Some, however, are little white lies (also not ok by the way), but others are serious and really bad lies.  Like Nick Clegg saying they wouldn’t raise tuition fees.  Big, fat, ugly, horrible lie.  But he’s apologised, so let’s cut the guy some slack.  The problem is, all of us lie.  If you would stand up right now and say you only tell the truth, you would be lying.  But you don’t, as an individual, represent a country and all its people.  You are not a politician (if you are, can I just ask straight away “what the hell were you thinking?!”), so it’s ok.  Nobody cares about what you do in your personal life, except the people it directly affects.  Politicians, however, make decisions that affect all of us.  No matter how big of an anarchist you are, you will still be affected by governmental decisions and if they are based on lies, you have a serious problem.  So, how can you tell when a politician is lying to you?

Know Your Stuff

First of all, you are never going to spot a liar if you don’t know your stuff.  So, before you start picking apart a politician’s answer, know the question that has been posed and do your research on what the answer should be.  Research things that the politician mentions as well.  Politicians are notorious for using scientific discoveries or theories and twisting them to their own advantage, hoping that the general public will assume them to be true because they have scientific credentials.

Read between the Lines

You also need to hear exactly what the politician isn’t saying.  Very often, they won’t flat out lie, they will just not mention the truth.  For instance, if you ask a politician what they will do about a certain policy, they may simply describe how they feel about it.  That means they haven’t told you at all what they are going to do.  Not an outright lie, but lying by omission is still a lie right?

Listen Very Carefully (I Shall Say this only Once)

You must listen to each word the politician says.  Don’t confront him or her until you have listened to it again if at all possible.  Politicians have a knack of making their speeches long and drawn out, thereby hoping that nobody notices they actually say two opposing things in the speech, keeping everybody happy.  It is a known psychological fact that people only listen to what they want to hear, this is how fortune tellers turn out to always be right.  Also check what is being said with the mandate the politician released, because there may also be contradictions in there.

Be There when It Happens

Try to always hear a politician speak live.  Study their previous speeches as well.  You need to get to know the politician and the body language they generally exhibit.  Changes in body language are a good clue that a fib is being told.  Don’t trust in reading a transcript of a live interview.  You want to be able to see movement and hear the tone.

Listen to Body Language

Body language is hugely important.  If they fidget before answering a surprise question, you have spotted a major red flag.  Shifting between their feet is a clue, covering the mouth is a clue, looking away is a clue and so on.

Having said all of this, I still feel like I’m preaching to the choir or stating the obvious.  All politicians lie…  What is perhaps more interesting is how to spot a politician that tells the truth, which seems to be a contradiction in terms, or perhaps what to do once you have spotted a lying politician.  What are your thoughts?

What do you think of when you hear the word “pacifist”?  With very negative portrayals in the media, many people think of unshaven, skinny men with long hair and beards and women in cheesecloth dresses and unshaven armpits.  Let me start by saying that the way you look has absolutely nothing to do with being a pacifist or not.  You can be a pacifist in a $10,000 Armani suit, or if you are butt naked.

What Are Pacifists?

Pacifists are people who do not believe in physical violence.  There are a lot of songs that describe what a pacifist’s beliefs are, my personal favourite being Donovan’s Universal Soldier.  In here, he describes that it is all fine and well being against war, blaming it on governments, but it is the soldiers that are willing to take up arms and give up their lives – as well as taking other people’s lives – that are just as much the cause of wars.

Pacifists aren’t only against wars, they are against any form of violence and aggression.  A good example of this is expressed by Bob Dylan in his song The Times They Are A Changing.  Another personal favourite!

So Aren’t Pacifists Just Doormats?

For some people, being a pacifist means you just let yourself be walked all over.  It is a shame, because it is due to these people that outward violence still exists.  Pacifists are not push overs or doormats.  They are people that believe a solution can be found by solidarity, by standing strong together, by writing and talking and simply by showing up.  A very good example of a large group of pacifists is the Occupy movement.

How Pacifists Try to Change the World

Don’t mistake pacifism with diplomacy, by the way.   Indeed, pacifists like to use words to change the world.  The famous statement that the pen is mightier than the sword is a great example.  Diplomacy, however, is where people give and take a little bit.  For pacifists, it isn’t about giving and taking.  It is about laying down arms and finding constructive solutions to get along without any outward shows of violence.

As stated earlier, however, pacifists don’t just only focus on war.  They focus on all inequalities in the world.  The gap between rich and poor, oppressive governments and so on.  They do this by collectively standing up and saying “no more”.  However, they don’t then start riots, they don’t start looting or pillaging.  They respect every individual in the world, even the ones that are being complete assholes right now.  Everybody deserves a second chance, everybody can see sense.  For instance, during the Vietnam war, many veterans took up position with protestors, demanding an end to the war and peace in the world.

True pacifism is hard to maintain.  Unfortunately, protestors are often attacked by the police.  Considering pacifists will not, ever, have an outward show of violence, it is clear that these attacks are almost always unprovoked.  I have been in such a situation myself.  I was at the celebration of a football club in Rotterdam, many, many years ago.  There were 100,000 people gathered in the town centre (I don’t care about football, but this was bound to be a good party!).  Eight young lads started being irritating and an inexperienced police officer pulled his weapon and shot one in the leg.  Pandemonium broke out instantly.  100,000 people, me included, were kettled away from the town centre by the Mobile Unit, who were walking, slamming their shields, or on horseback.  We were then pushed away with water cannons and lastly, we were tear gassed.  I was just there trying to have a good time and even me, who prides herself on being a pacifist, got pushed so far that had there been a brick near me, I would have thrown it at the police.  By the way, the town got completely trashed and looted, which was perhaps an even bigger shame than the police brutality that was shown that day.

The Occupy Movement is a global movement.  Anybody can take part in the movement, regardless of their political beliefs of social backgrounds.  The idea is that elected officials can no longer adequately represent the population – except the 1% of wealthy donors – so real people need to be the change.  At present, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer, so something needs to be done.  Occupy supporters criticise the fact that the movement isn’t on the news often enough.  Occupy opponents say they shouldn’t be, because they are just a bunch of unemployed drug users.  Let’s take a look at some history first though.

The Poor Taking Over

Haven’t we heard something like this before?  Isn’t the essence of Karl Marx’ theory that one day the lower classes would take no more and that they would then revolt against the wealthy?  Is this Occupy’s essential message?  Communism?  Not necessarily.  Occupy simply want the 99% of good people that are out there to have a voice, to be able to shape their own world and society.  So they are anarchists?  No, not quite either.  They are simply the 99%.  They are Occupy.

What Does Occupy Want?

Occupy wants to start by resisting the oppressive governments that are all over the globe.  The resist abusing power, corporate greed and economic disparity.  Then, once they have achieved their resistance, they want to restructure.  They try to achieve this by leading through example: people getting together either physically or virtually and being a community.  Lastly, they want to remix and make the real changes that the system needs.

How Does Occupy Try to Achieve its Goals?

As the name suggests, Occupy occupies.  They build tents in places where the things they are trying to fight are most prevalent.  They pitch their tents on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, on the Dam Square and on Wall Street.  They then live here and peacefully demonstrate against the institution.  Sounds great right?  There is a little problem though.

Living in tents attracts a whole bunch of opportunistic people who really have nothing to do with the ideologies of the movement.  They just want a tent to live in, food to eat, an audience to sell drugs, and so on.  These are the people that are giving the entire movement a really bad name.  But is this bad name warranted, or have they actually achieved some things as well?

What Occupy Has Gotten Right

One thing that Occupy has really gotten right is its targets.  They know what they are talking about in terms of resisting the 1%.  In doing so, they brought these issues to the table and made more people aware of what is going on in the world.  They have also been able to really open the world’s eyes to the inequalities that happen in the so called “developed” world.  The gap between rich and poor isn’t just big in Africa, Asia or South America.  It is huge in rich and wealthy countries like the USA, UK and Germany as well.  Furthermore, Occupy has allowed people to make a difference, rather than sitting at home getting increasingly frustrated.  No, they haven’t brought down capitalism yet, but they have made people listen and together we stand strong.

The Bad Side of Occupy

It wouldn’t be honest to only sing Occupy’s praise.  There are some bad sides to the movement and these need to be recognised.  There are some reports of Occupy camps being very unsafe, with serious drug abuse and even rape.  Whether or not these rumours are true, or whether they are spread to discredit the movement isn’t entirely clear.  But these worries are there.  Also, they leave one heck of a mess behind when they do get evicted.  And someone has to clean that up, and you can bet your bottom dollar it’s one of the 99% that will be given that job.  They also seem to have lost their memento, which isn’t helped by the fact that there is little press coverage about them now.

Are you for or against Occupy?  Why?  Please share your idea too.

Bar the fact that we know weed has been smoked for thousands of years, it has been a main subject in popular culture as well.  Joe Cocker and Ray Charles said let’s get stoned.  Cypress Hill told us they want to get high.   Dutch band Doe Maar even sang an entire song explaining how to grow weed at home! I’m not one for doing what someone else tells me to do, but being Dutch, weed has sort of been part of growing up.  That, and the fact that my parents were hippies and that I used to smoke joints with my mum when I was a student (my mum is well cool!).  Now, I could regal you with my own personal opinion on why weed is good for you, but you may just retort with your own personal opinion on why it isn’t.  So, let’s leave personal opinions aside for a minute and look at some scientific evidence that weed is actually good for you.  After that, light up and get high!

The Slightly Funny Reasons as to Why Marijuana Is good for You

One of the first reasons is that it is cool to smoke weed.  Not being funny, but it is.  It’s a mind opening experience and you will learn things about yourself and the world around you, because you release yourself from some of the constraints your mind automatically puts on you.  Plus, some really cool people have smoked pot in the past, including Bob Dylan, Jimmy Hendrix, Salvador Dali, heck even George Bush (but let’s not call him cool)!

Also, here is one fact statistic that nobody will be able to deny: there isn’t a single reported death caused by smoking pot.  Also undeniably true, stoners have lower rates of depression.

Cannabis and Cancer

One of the active properties in weed is the cannabinoids.  Extensive research has been done in this substance and there is some evidence that it may cure cancer.  Don’t stop the press and phone the major news agencies.  It isn’t as simple as smoking a dooby once a day and curing terminal cancer.  It isn’t exactly clear yet how cannabinoids work and how they can help, but there certainly is evidence that they do.

Not just that, weed has fantastic pain killing properties.  This is why there are some states in America where you can now get weed on prescription (that doesn’t mean free, by the way, it just means you won’t get arrested for it).  These pain killing properties can, at the very least, increase the quality of life of someone who suffers from cancer and potentially even increase their lifespan.

The Hemp Plant

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant, but with less THC (still sufficient to give you a nice buzz though).  Hemp is used in many industrial applications, including fabrics and people regularly eat hemp seeds.  The plant has some fantastic health benefits, including:

  • Helping towards creating a healthy heart
  • Keeping the mind healthy and free from depression
  • Keeping  your skin healthy
  • Helping you lose weight
  • Solving digestive disorders, including IBS
  • They can help control diabetes

Now, you need to do what you want to do.  Don’t listen to songs, don’t listen to me, don’t listen to scientists.  Listen to your heart and do what feels best.  I say light up and enjoy the ride and if this isn’t your opinion, can I at the very least ask you leave people who do alone?

Oh goodness me, Nick Clegg…  They do say that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all, but we really can’t keep our mouths shut about this guy, now can we.  So who is he actually?  Don’t worry if you don’t know, he is quite a hidden figure.  On paper, he is the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  In actual fact, however, he is just the Prime Minister’s sorry sidekick.  “Sorry” being an imperative word here, since he’s just publically apologised for one of his many, many lies.

Basically, what happened in the last general election, no single party had an overall majority.  So, the two other main parties, polar opposites Labour and Conservatives, started to fight for the attention of the Liberal Democrats.  Whoever they would side with would inevitably become the ruling party.  At that time, everybody was pretty disillusioned with Labour, but still, nobody could really believe that the Liberal Democrats could really ever side with the Conservatives.  After all, that would be like a contradiction in terms.  But hey ho and there you go, we now have a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

What Does all of this Mean?

Well, in essence, it means that the British people are stuck with a government they didn’t vote for.  Now, as an anarchist, I couldn’t really care less about the government because they are all a bunch of wankers anyway.  But Nick Clegg, now he really screwed us all over.  We are now stuck with a dude who made a number of promises, none of which were kept.  Let’s take a look at the lies he has told and then ask ourselves: should we have seen this coming?

The Lies Told by Nick Clegg

The first lie told by Cleggy is that he promised he would be different.  As difficult as it may be to define “different”, it seems clear that what he is doing now is no different from what other politicians have ever done.

The biggest lie, however, was that the Liberal Democrats had stated that they would not raise the tuition fees for students.  Surprise, surprise, they were trebled.  This is a huge one, for which Nick Clegg has now publically apologised.  Of course, he has made himself a laughing stock because it is too little too late.  His apology was immediately remixed into a fun song, which he then managed to personally ruining it by endorsing the song, so long as proceeds would go to a children’s charity.  What, is he trying to be cool now or something?

There are other lies too.  They promised that money for libraries and public services should be protected.  It hasn’t.  They promised that bus services would be subsidised.  They haven’t.   Then, there is the NHS – the National Health Service.  You may as well start looking at how Americans deal with their health services, because that is the way things are going to go over here.  The Liberal Democrats promised that front line staff would be in charge of the budget for their unit or ward.  This way, they would be completely involved in the services they provide.  That was a lie.  They also said that health boards would be able to commission in services from lots of different providers.  Yup, another lie.

Should We Have Seen this Coming?

I could go through the Lib Dem manifesto point by point and show how it was all a lie.  Before they came into power, nobody really listened to what they had to say.  They could promise that water would come out of our taps in liquid gold and nobody would batter an eyelid.  Why not?  Because they were never going to get into power.  But now they have.  Not real power, of course, Nick Clegg is but the lapdog of David Cameron, but they were put in a position where they were supposed to keep the promises they made us.  Oopsy…

But, were the promises just empty promises, made simply to get the right amount of voters to at least have a seat in parliament?  Or is dear old Nicky just an all-out liar?  Let’s take a look at the profile of a liar.

 

  • Liars don’t respond with any passion if they are accused of lying.  Tick for Nick Clegg.
  • Liars try to change the subject when confronted.  Tick for Nick Clegg.  Well, tick for any politician, since they never answer a question with a straight answer…
  • Liars have an expressionless face, or at least their expression doesn’t change.  Tick for Clegg.  Although it could be Botox, must ask him about that…
  • Liars have a closed posture and don’t like to make physical contact.  Tick for Cleggy again!  Although who knows what he gets up to when he’s alone with bum boy David Cameron of course!
  • Some liars hesitate when telling a lie.  Again, tick for Nick, unless he has a speech written out in front of him.

So yeah, we should have seen this coming.  Even before he joined the Conservative Party, Nick Clegg was really a shifty character, hiding behind the name of the Liberal Democrats as being left winged and socialists.  They’re not, of course, but on paper they were, at least more so than the Conservatives.  So, what’s going to happen now?  At the next elections, no one is ever going to vote for the Lib Dems again.  I wonder whether the party will just dismantle, becoming a part of the Conservatives altogether…

By the way, if you also want to tell Nicky and his cronies that you’re on to him, you can do so by commenting on his Facebook page.  I’ve been having a lot of fun with that one!

Today is international day of peace.  To me, that means we should all lay down our arms, be they physical or metaphorical and just love each other.  Coexist.  Be humans.  One world, one love.  But that is not going to happen is it?  Have you ever wondered why there will never, ever be peace on earth?

What We Are Led to Believe

So, give me the reasons as to why there are wars in the world right now.  At a guess, you will say one of the following at least:

  • Religion
  • Oppression
  • Oil

Those are the main reasons for war right?  Wrong.  The main reason for war is capitalistic gain.  That is why there will never be peace on earth.  We are told that we need protecting from religious extremists.  We are told that we have to protect the oil (that’s why there was intervention in Iraq and Libya, but not in Syria by the way).   We are told that a government that oppresses its people needs to be taken down and that is a justification of war.  But as the statement says “bring our soldiers home, we need protecting from our own government”.

The Money Making Machine that Is War

We live in a global economic depression right?  Take a look at these statistics that show that war is what makes the world’s economy still go round:

  • 75% of all the world’s weapons (heavy and light) are supplied by Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Councils.  These are China, the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the Russian Federation.
  • One third of the weapons are supplied by the United States.
  • Arms trades have increased by 24% since the start of the global economic crisis

Let’s take a look at who these arms are traded to.  The United States exports 13% of their weapons to South Korea.  The United Kingdom exports 28% of its arms to Saudi Arabia.  Russia exports 33% of their weapons to India.  Germany exports 13% of its weapons to Greece and France exports 20% of it weapons to Singapore.

Last year, the United States’ arms trade alone was worth $60 billion!!!

I don’t like to quote, it is hard to determine exactly what someone else meant when he said it.  But I will make an exception this time.  This quote is from James Madison who made a political observation in 1795.  Nothing has changed since then, clearly.  Madison stated “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

World Military Spending

If these statistics still baffle you a bit, let’s put it in laymen’s terms.  The expenditure of the world’s military in 2010 was $1.63 trillion.  This is an increase of 50% since 2001 and a 1.3% increase since the year before.  So yeah, the world is going to shit in terms of the economy, but the economy of war is increasing.  Basically, the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) comprises of 2.6% of war.  This means each and every person pays $236 per year towards the military industry.  You, me, your children, the elderly, starving people in Africa, EVERYBODY.  I don’t mind having an extra $236 per year just to myself.  $236 per year can feed a starving child in India for a year, by the way.

So, on this International Day of Peace, let me ask you again: why are there wars in the world?  Is it really because some individual in some country does something that we collectively can’t agree with so he or she has to be forcibly removed?  Is it because of religious fanaticism?  Is it because we are running out of oil?  Or is it, quite simply, because of the MONEY?