Archive | August 2018

Secularism isn’t the enemy of religion

For those still confused by this:

Secularism isn’t a push for an atheist agenda or an attack against religion and god.

Secularism is merely the idea that no beliefs have dominance or will be given special treatment.

It’s the antithesis of theocracy, which tries to make a single belief system dominant.

So if you’re religious or spiritual or neither of those things, secularism is in your interest – because it means your freedom to believe in what you do will not be violated.

No laws shall be passed that deny your beliefs, criminalise them, or offer preferential treatment to others who believe something else.

The opposite is theocracy, where a select group and their beliefs are given preferential treatment, and all other beliefs are marginalised, denied or criminalised.

Chances are, that will end up including your beliefs – even if you hold to the dominant religion of the theocracy, because “heretical offshoots” (those groups who on any way challenge the denomination favoured by the state), are treated in the same manner as non-believers. In fact, they’re often treated worse.

So, if you’re religious, secularism is in your interest, because only secularism guarantees your freedom to worship and practice your faith.

Theocracy prohibits it, even for those who are part of the dominant religion.

Stop pretending secularism is the enemy.

It’s only the enemy of those established groups who now have to give ground to all of us who don’t share their beliefs (whatever our personal beliefs are), and fundamentalist cults who fancy themselves creating a theocracy in the future (who would all be dead by now if they didn’t have a secular culture to thrive in – oh irony!).

Secularism is this: the acknowledgment that your survival to hold your beliefs (or lack of them) and follow your beliefs freely necessarily entails others to be able to hold and follow their beliefs freely. Because without that universal freedom, your freedom to hold and follow your beliefs is not guaranteed. In fact, the criminalisation or persecution of your beliefs is guaranteed, unless you accept and promote that universal guarantee for all beliefs (or lack of them) to be respected.

You can either stand with secularism and the tolerance of all religions and those who aren’t religious, or you can – out of a zealous philosophy – sow the seeds of your own destruction.

By the way: society is overwhelmingly choosing secularism, because the majority of people understand how rational thinking works.

So if you’re still confused, I suggest you catch up. Whatever you do or don’t believe.

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Transience on our own terms

Being a transient person means that I reject and am unable to live under a static frame of reference.

However, neither am I able to live under a semi-transient frame that is forced upon me.

Whilst my transient nature allows me to adapt to new living conditions and locations, even when those conditions are semi-static (ie, living in a house for 6 months, where my existence is tied to remaining there because I have little autonomy to find or sustain my own transient existence), I can no more than subsist and survive there – never feeling truly transient (because I can’t move on under my own steam or security) and never feeling at home (either through my lack of ownership over my personal space being made explicit, or through social pressures continuing to remind me that I have no ownership of my personal space – usually because I often have no legal safeguards when entering temporary accommodation at urgent short notice. When it’s going back to the street or taking a short term residence with no contract, it’s not even a choice – but it’s one that reminds me that society feels comfortable to neglect any ownership I should have over my personal space, which itself feeds into a spiralling ennui and psychological inability to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And static life is a long and dark tunnel for me.)

I’m placed in a horrific state of limbo, where my transient lifestyle is both rejected and used against me, by the social structures and institutions, even if not always by the persons involved.

Transient people are forced to merely subsist and survive, when our transient status is used against us to enforce our imprisonment in a life that subjects us to temporary static accommodations within which we have no spatial autonomy.

In order to thrive, we require as a necessity our transient lives to be dictated on our own terms.

We require the ability to take ownership of our spaces – including a space we can take with us to new locations.

But we are most often denied both by the political and economic systems, and social structures, we find ourselves in – constantly being denied space we are legally recognised as having ownership of, and constantly being forced into spaces that entrap us and within which our spatial autonomy is not protected.

Temporary insecure accommodation without spatial autonomy being guaranteed, is the reality of many transient people today. But it isn’t what actually defines transient people or our lifestyle.

Our lifestyle is defined by the spatial autonomy we can guarantee for ourselves as we move – a spatial autonomy that is rejected by the system in which we live, which perceives us as an existential threat at worst, and a minor quirk of economics at best (an acceptable sub-market with rules and restrictions imposed upon us as a community, that encroach upon our ability to exist, but which we’re allowed to live within so long as we don’t disrupt the system with our transient autonomy).

That’s why you have the problem of disillusioned and apathetic “economically successful” transient people rejecting or refusing to recognise the plight of their community – even rejecting or failing to recognise their community’s existence and their existence as part of that community.

An “I’m alright Jack” attitude, which only serves to curtail and destroy the community, instead of form a cohesive political, social and economic force willing to fight for the rights and needs of all its members.

It’s an attitude that is at odds with the traveler movements of the 80s and 90s, during Nostell Priory, the battle of the beanfield and the passing of the CJA. But all those events led to the ability of this attitude to exist and persist, eroding the community – until today we find almost no real traveler community outside that which is defined ethnically, at least in terms of a social movement happy to fight for the struggles of its membership.

None of this should or could ever diminish the plight of – and very real and very specific injustices – experienced by the Roma community, or any other ethnically defined transient group in the UK or beyond.

And neither would I define my transient status as someone who shares the injustices felt by the Roma community, or count myself among their community except as a brethren of a larger transient community – which defines itself both with broader ethnic identities (from the Roma to the Bedouin to the Masai and beyond) and without ethnic identities (in terms of all those of us without traditional ties who yet reject a static frame of reference).

I would do a disservice to all if I equated the two, but also if I denied our greater community, and how any attack against one part of our wider community affects us all.

I’m not here to wedge myself in to such communities as the Roma or Bedouin, but to state my allegiance with those communities and the wider traveler/transient base.

How many of us shared solidarity with those at Dale Farm? How many of us shared solidarity with the Palestinian Bedouin at Khan Al-Ahmad?

Are we not kin? Is their plight not part of our own? Can we justify our existence whilst ignoring the struggles of those who share our transient identity, however it is defined?

As well as – and maybe beyond – our rejection of a static frame of reference being the ultimate goal of our lives, we must reject any semi-transient/semi-static life that is forced upon us, which rejects our spatial autonomy and uses our transience against us.

Our transience can only – and must only – be acknowledge on our own terms.

We cannot be forced to accept a form of transience imposed upon us by the state, specifically designed to reject or ignore our spatial autonomy, and to dictate our transience in terms which we have no control over and under which we cannot thrive, but instead barely subsist.

Transients stay when they want to and move when they want to. Not when it is decreed acceptable by a state constantly trying to diminish their existence or deny their humanity.

And whilst I have no known ties to ethnically defined transient groups (believe me, I’d shout it proudly if I did), I nevertheless stand in solidarity with all transient peoples, however they define themselves, against all injustices they face.

An attack on one is an attack on us all: Because wherever we come from, however we define ourselves, and however we became transient, the threat we pose to the states that abhor us and the policies they employ to dehumanise and attack us, are universal and affect us all.

We need to build a community again which recognises who we are. A community that recognises the different members and groups in that community, that recognises the value their existence has in promoting our community and it’s diversity, and which dedicates itself to the struggle of each and every member and group as equals.

That’s why I happily work on vehicle conversions for next to nothing.

I want our community to grow and to become empowered, and to feel a collective identity that ensures we look out for each other.

For over 2 decades, that community has been eroded to the point of almost nonexistence by the state and the complicity of some travelers (most notably those of us without an ethnic transient identity, who have been happily apathetic to both the struggles of the Roma community and the struggles of the “non-economically successful” transient community, such as the transient homeless).

We can no longer ignore our community, our shared identity.

We can no longer allow our community to become an exclusive club, whose members only consist of those who have somehow succeeded in thriving within the political and economic and social system that envelopes us – a system that dictates which transient people are acceptable and which are not, on terms that we don’t get to dictate and which are designed to deny us of that self-determination, terms designed to conquer our community through division. We cannot countenance a club whose members can turn their backs on those who didn’t have the advantages others have had, or who can demonise or neglect those who struggle for transience against a system built to imprison them.

As Lincoln said (forgive the static use of language): “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.

If you have succeeded in a transient lifestyle within this system without fighting for those transient people who are struggling, you aren’t succeeding: you’re only contributing to a system that denies others their humanity, and will ultimately deny your own.

Before the turn of the millennium, and shortly after, we still had a strong transient community in the UK.

We still have pockets of that strong community.

And to my delight, we even have new pockets growing within that strong community – from Brighton to Bristol, all the way up into Edinburgh and the highlands of Scotland, we have pockets of the transient community who recognise each other and fight for each other.

But we still fail to stand by each other. We still fail the transient homeless, and we ignore their problems and their shared identity with us. We still fail to accept our shared community, ironically beyond the small villages we make for ourselves.

And many still fail to even acknowledge their place within that community, pretending that unless those injustices affect them personally, they can ignore them or put the blame on those members of our community who are affected by them.

If we want spatial autonomy, if we want transience on our terms, we are obliged to fight for all those transient people who are denied transience on their own terms.

Otherwise, what does our transience stand for, other than an individualist – almost solipsistic – approach which guarantees nobody, even those who hold to it, any guarantee of freedom and self-determination?

We’re a diverse and resourceful community, capable of facing extreme odds whilst struggling for our autonomy, our freedom, our self-determination.

That’s literally what defines each and every one of us.

We need to make that intrinsic strength of our community a force to bond us and to fight for each of our kin.

Whoever you are, however your transience is defined, we must stand together. We must acknowledge our community – both the successful and the deprived, the accepted and the reviled.

We are transient. Together.

Our community cannot fall.

Crypto-fascists, antisentism and islamophobia

I am disturbed by the obvious and increasing number of crypto fascists using claims of “antisemitism” in order to justify their racism and islamophobia – and worse, the increasing number of people they are successfully gaslighting.

That whole argument of “why aren’t you also protesting X?” which they give away by never asking any other campaign movement the same thing or holding them to this non-existent standard (none of them condemn those campaigning against Russia’s involvement in South Ossetia for not also campaigning against Georgia’s treatment of Abkhazia, or those campaigning for West Papua of not also campaigning against the treatment of the rohingya muslims);

The people claiming all Palestinian protests are some Palestinian terrorist group conspiracy;

And the folk who shamelessly post tommy Robinson and fascist memes;

And nobody challenges them in the conversation, which is worryingly ironic.

It’s almost as if they care more about their academic debate over antisemitism (in which they want to ignore any Jewish groups who disagree with them), than about a discussion about racism and islamophobia.

I really struggle to understand why 🤔

And to clarify, the “why aren’t you protesting X as well” argument is both logically defunct (might as well berate doctors working to cure malaria for not also curing every disease on earth), and is a major problem with the IHRA wording – because groups that campaign for Palestinian human rights are being called antisemitic for not campaigning for other human rights causes – as if the West Papuan campaign actively campaigns for Yemenis against Saudi Arabia, or the Sikh groups campaigning for justice for 1984 are actively campaigning for justice for Orgreave.

Groups campaign on their issues, but that wording is being used to suggest that by campaigning on that issue, Palestinian human rights groups are being antisemitic – as if every human rights group actively campaigns across the board, which, SPOILER ALERT, they don’t.

They can’t.

Because that’s not how you create an effective human rights campaign.

Try it and watch how quickly you run out of time, money, interest and other resources.

And as for anyone trying to pretend all Palestinian human rights protests are just Hamas or Al-Quds fronts.

Fuck you.

Your crypto fascist BS isn’t fooling us.

The gall to believe you can push a narrative that every single person campaigning against human rights abuses that are admitted and openly enforced by a government….

You might as well try to tell me that all Biko supporters in South Africa were burning tyres around people’s necks, you ignorant and/or fascistic fuckwits.

And as if you even care about the issues facing Jewish people around the world!

You’ll happily trade Jewish people in as a scapegoat – and do it openly without prompting!

When you go to such lengths to justify a government that is exercising an apartheid regime that matches the definition of apartheid as defined by the South African government *during* apartheid, fuck you.

(Ethnic segregation; second class citizenship based on race and ethnicity; impunity to harass, torture, displace or murder people based on race or ethnicity with no recourse; actively courting groups calling for genocide of people based on race or ethnicity; the control of resources to a population of a certain race or ethnicity in order to obstruct its infrastructure; the collective punishment of a certain race or ethnicity for any violation by a select group – it’s the *literal definition employed by the apartheid government of South Africa*! How much more until we’re allowed to call it “apartheid”?)

When you try to justify a regime whose leader has explicitly tried to redefine the holocaust in order to minimise the role of the Nazi party and blame the Palestinian people:

*Fuck you double.*

You’re not only a disgrace to the human rights of Palestinians, you’re a disgrace to the millions of Jewish people who died because of Nazi extermiation. You’re happily taking part in historical revisionism in order to diminish the horrific role played by the perpetrators of their murder.

And the same goes for when you’re silent as the regime’s leader endorses Poland’s policy of revising history to whitewash its role in the wholesale slaughter of millions of Jewish people – FOR A TRADE DEAL.

You don’t care about antisemitism.

You’ve made it clear.

Like Netanyahu, you only care about justifying your racism and islamophobia.

If you cared about the plight of the Jewish people and the inhuman injustice they’ve endured, you would keep the truth of the Shoah alive, and not let anyone whitewash it for trade agreements and racist ends.

We know exactly what you’re saying.

It’s not antisemitism.

It’s justifying your ability to dehumanise Muslims and Palestinians and Bedouin.

And we won’t stand for it.

Both the Jewish people and the Palestinians deserve better than your bullshit.

Terraforming geologically dead planets like Mars is going to be hard – and for more fundamentally tough reasons than you think.

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about terraforming Mars.

A lot of that conversation has been misleadingly simplified, with some people even pretending to themselves that it’s something that could be done quickly and probably very soon after we first send humans to Mars.

The problem is that Mars is a geologically dead body. And terraforming a geologically dead body is a very difficult thing to do, compared to a geologically active one, for reasons that very few people are talking about and even fewer are starting to get to grips understanding – because were only just beginning to understand the complex relationship our geologically active planet has with the ecosphere we inhabit.

Look, an absent active core presents a myriad of problems for terraforming a planet that need sorting out.

There are 2 big ones that stick out.

First off, you have to build an atmosphere whilst it faces being stripped away.

The solar wind doesn’t wait until your atmosphere is complete. It strips it whilst you try to build it, so you need to expend a lot of energy and resources into fighting that atmospheric depletion *whilst* you build the atmosphere up.

If you can’t get a magnetosphere up, then even if you build the atmosphere, it’s unlikely to be a planet that can keep a macroscopic ecosystem going for very long, both because the atmosphere doesn’t have to be completely stripped before it can no longer support that ecosystem, and you likely need the ecosystem going for a very long time in order for it to become self-sustaining rather than just heavily managed.

You’re going to be trying to set up with Flora and fauna that are not adapted to that planet, and getting them to a point where they are adapted enough will take a very very long time, because evolutionary processes take epochs, not generations. Your atmosphere needs to last that long and more.

It may or may not be plausible to induce a magnetosphere on Mars without an active core, but that doesn’t help with the next problem with living on a geologically dead planet.

Atmospheric stripping, assuming you can build one up, may take a long time even absent a magnetic field to deplete, but soil degradation is much quicker.

There’s not much point of a breathable atmosphere on a planet incapable of growing plants and food, because the soil is being continually depleted by agriculture and natural overuse with no mechanism to replenish it.

For that, you need geological activity, like plate activity and vulcanism, which requires an active core – which also creates a magnetosphere and helps with a lot of other problems you face when terraforming a planet.

Terraforming is much more complex than “build an atmosphere and plant a few trees and crops”.

You can try that.

You’ll be dead in just a few generations, even with an atmosphere.

Can you solve all these problems without an active core, on a geologically dead planet?

Possibly.

But 1) nobody’s actually talking about the complex role an active core plays in generating and sustaining an ecosphere and what all those different aspects are and how to sort them out absent an active core; and 2) just getting an active core solves them all – maybe even more efficiently and with less energy and resources than trying to solve them piecemeal, even if it means trying to get an active core.

Is it possible to get an active core going on Mars?

Who knows.

But recognising and understanding the complex role that it plays on generating and sustaining the ecosphere is paramount – instead of going in half-cocked and trying to deal with major problems we fail to foresee by ignoring it as we go along.

It controls the atmosphere, the soil cycle, the water cycle, the migration pattern of many animals, even the weather and a lot more that we’re only beginning to figure out.

Until we can fully grasp its interplay with our entire planet, we can’t pretend it’ll be easy to terraform a planet that is geologically dead.

Step on our faces if you want, but if you do we’ll make your feet stink for centuries.

If found something disturbingly telling a few months back.

During an anti-Brexit march in manchester, which passed many homeless people I knew on the street, not one person stopped to even speak to the homeless.

You marched on our home, and none of you had the presence of mind to acknowledge our existence.

I’m anti-Brexit, and I support your cause.

But I find it very telling that the largely middle-class demographic saw fit to actively ignore the very vulnerable people they pretend to care about.

As I say, if your struggle ignores or doesn’t even begin with homeless/transient issues and people, you’ve failed from the outset and I cannot stand with you.

Of all the intersections of society, those who live on the street and how you interact with them are the baseline – the yardstick by which your ability to succeed will be predicted and your worthiness of the support of your fellow humans will be determined.

We cross every divide, because abject poverty and anti-transient and anti-homeless prejudice have, at their very root, no greater discrimination.

Homeless and transient people of colour, homosexuals, transgender, women, mentally or physically disabled, elderly, etc, all face challenges above and beyond what those not facing such prejudices do.

But homeless and transient people, as a whole, face challenges beyond those prejudices that nobody else does or could ever understand without walking through that lonesome valley.

We’re the bottom rung.

In everything you do, remember that.

We’re the forgotten.

We’re the ones it is socially acceptable *across the board* to forget and neglect.

How you treat us, how your interact with us, how you deal with our issues, defines whether your campaign for justice and equality not only has a chance to succeed, but is even worthy of succeeding in the first place.

Step on our faces if you want, but if you do we’ll make your feet stink for centuries.

The “skeptic community” is not fit for purpose

When so many flat earth debunkers are idiotically perpetuating the Eratosthenes myth as if it was valid, I’m both utterly unsurprised that flat earthers are becoming more prevalent and able to argue against such red herrings, and angry that idiots pretending to be “rational” think they can jump into a centuries old debate with zero research as if their tone of ridicule was a valid substitute for a rational argument without further damaging the education level of humanity.

The way the “skeptic community” both failed to anticipate the flat earth resurgence, and failed to successful counter it because their ego meant more than doing any actual research into basic geometry and understanding the people they were arguing against, is a damning indictment against their neo-religious bullshit.

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