Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Ramblings Relocates

Took a notion to shift over to Wordpress, another blogging platform. Don't really desire to keep two up to date, so I'll likely just be posting over there unless I find out it's rubbish and sheepishly return

http://ulsterrambler.wordpress.com/

Monday, 27 April 2009

Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (2005). "Decency, Morals, God"

Last night I watched Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, and would encourage you to watch at least part of the film, this fascinating clip below.

Sophie Scholl and her brother have been arrested for their involvement in the White Rose movement, distributing leaflets criticising the Nazi regime and Hitler. After thorough interrogation their guilt is proven, and here (2mins 3os in) we see a conversation between Scholl and Investigator Mohr, who treats her in this as intellectual equal, dealing with issues of morality, conscience and God.

The White Rose movement holds high significance, showing clearly that there was opposition to the Nazis from within Germany, thought painfully highlighting its infrequency and lack of strength.

I was in Cologne a few years ago where the actions of the White Rose movement are now celebrated annually.

Article on Sophie Scholl from the Catholic Herald can be found here

Scrap the Scrap money

£2,000 for a 1965 Morris Minor which hasn't been roadworthy for decades? Scrap it

The decision by Alistair Darling to introduce a car scrappage scheme whereby you can trade in your old car for £2,000 off a new one is a ludicrous one.

As an article in today's Times shows, loopholes are rife. The scheme would allow me to trade in the Renault 9 GT Turbo I bought on Ebay for £42*, providing I had a SORN (statutory off road notification) and receive £2,000 off a brand new car. I'm interested to see what this will do to the second hand car market, as opportunistic sellers realise they can finally get rid of the disused cars sitting about their yard to equally opportunistic buyers for a decent price. Even if you overpaid and bought my Renault 9 off me for £200, you'd still be on course to save £1,800, providing you were planning on buying a new car in the first place.

The scheme undoubtedly benefits the car industry, sure, but why prop up an industry that is fuelling (see what I did there) increased carbon levels? Why not follow Obama - a leader who recognises that renewable energy, and the manufacturing of hybrid cars will create jobs and boost a flailing economy - and promote 'green' cars, and use this scheme in accordance with this?

It's Economy over Environment once more, and ignorant of the huge potential for both to compliment each other


*Incidentally, I don't have this car anymore, having sold it - ironically - for scrap, netting £90

Gerry the Prod?

An article in today's BT (quoted here at the Indy) attributes some interesting quotes to Gerry Adams talking about faith with Gay Byrne as part of a series on the spiritual beliefs of public figures.

"I have formed an opinion," he says to Byrne, "and it's probably a Protestant thing, that the notions of having some sort of middle-man isn't altogether necessary." He admits he hasn't gone to confession "in years," preferring to speak directly with God.

When asked on the matter of Transubstantiation and whether the elements are the real body of Jesus Christ, he replied unconvincingly "Who knows?"

With these comments perhaps alienating some ardent Catholics, and McGuinness seen by many nationalists to be 'in bed' with the DUPers, just how are SF perceived amongst their traditional base? I'd love to see some poll data...

R we getn thikker?

Eugh...even my own title repulses me

I'm glad to see the media are providing coverage on the ever-decreasing value of language, vocabulary, spelling, grammar.

In today's Indy (and BT) Robert Fisk writes an opinion piece lambasting society's reluctance to read books, and the knock on effects this has on grammar
Meanwhile in The Times, a leading report by Alexandra Frean on the shrinking range of language in children (especially amongst disadvantaged children) coins the phrase 'word poverty', and makes an interesting observation - "If a child hits or pushes another child, it is usually because they don't have the language of conflict resolution."

Other pieces worth looking at are the appalling comments made here by a 'leading academic' calling for spelling within English language to be re-drafted along phonetic lines.

Another interesting report can be found here, at First Things, A self-titled journal of Religion, Culture and Public life which makes the point that the Internet has not increased our learning, but rather increased our social network at the expense of our social skills. I found this particularly true: "The genuine significance of the Web to a seventeen-year-old mind is not the universe of knowledge brought to their fingertips, but an instrument of non-stop peer contact”
Below is my favourite mis-spelling, taken at London protests against Israeli strikes in Gaza

Friday, 24 April 2009

Match Fixing - justifying the original scepticism of Professionalism?

The Independent reports today on the betting scam surrounding a match between Accrington Stanley and Bury at the end of last season, which saw home side Accrington lose 2-0. Meanwhile at home, the Irish League is once more embroiled in the now annual farce of supposed match fixing where teams with nothing to play for are suddenly backed either to win or to lose by huge sums of money. Gareth Fullerton broke the story on the front page of the Belfast Newsletter, reporting that Paddy Power are only taking bets on the IPL matches involving Linfield and Glentoran this weekend.

These problems were foresaw at the very inception of professional sport in the late 19th Century, and the prospect of match fixing was one of the major reasons why Gentlemen Amateurs were desperately against the introduction of payment for playing. Neal Garnham reports that "In England the most influential arguments against professionalism had been based on ‘the social antipathy of men who considered professional sport ethically unacceptable’". There was a genuine fear that if a man was being paid to win, he could be bought to lose.


Reference - Garnham, Neal; Association Football and Society in Pre-Partition Ireland; (Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 2004).

"Why we can't go to war with North Korea" according to one American

This simplistic article highlights numerous reasons why the US shouldn't go to war with North Korea. However whilst he illustrates why a war isn't a good idea (and it isn't) he implies that any interference in the goings on of NK is none of the USA's business, even if they do bomb Japan.

Fascinatingly enough, he quotes Santanya's well known phrase, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" to illustrate his point about the mistakes of the Korean War. However, he should also imply that phrase to the Isolationist policy the US had in the 30s and early 40s which allowed a dictator far too much room to manoeuvre and almost brought about a restructuring of world order. With the new totalitarian regime possessing nuclear weapons, this is no time for America to be isolationist, and thankfully Obama seems to recognise this