Archive for the Opinion Category

Religious Education in UK Schools‏

Posted in Opinion, Politics on January 3, 2016 by Barrie Suddery

Following a recent BBC article stating that the UK Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, had advised that schools in England do not need to give non-religious views “equal air time” and should continue to teach pupils that the UK is a principally Christian country, I have written to my local MP, Alun Cairns to express my concerns over this:

Sir,

I am writing to express my concern regarding the Education Secretary’s recent statements expressing her view that schools in England don’t need to give non-religious views equal time in the curriculum and that should continue to teach that the UK is a mainly Christian country. 

I regard this as a patently false and divisive statement given the multi-cultural make up of the nation and on-going religious tensions in various communities which will only serve to further the rise of so-called faith schools and further the divisions in our society at a time when we need to be looking for ways to unite the country. As a Humanist with nieces and nephews currently going through school, I am adamant that they need to learn about other faiths as well as non-religious Atheist/Humanist views in order that they can properly appreciate the multi-cultural and multi-faith make up of our county. In addition, they need to be able to decide of their own accord what to believe in and can only do that, with the fullest details and facts available to them in accordance with the UK’s commitments under the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees citizens the right to choose and/or change their beliefs.
Whilst I have no objection to Ms. Morgan holding and expressing her religious views, as is her right, I do object to her, or anyone in government, allowing policy to be governed or influenced by those views.  I therefore would like clarification from you on the following points:
  1. Whether or not these guidelines apply to Welsh schools.
  2. That the government will immediately review these guidelines to ensure that all faith/non-faith views are covered in R.E. classes.
  3. That the government is committed to the principle of the separation of Church and State.
  4. That the government is committed to the representation of all sections of the community.
  5. That Ministers are required to keep their personal views separate from their duties.
  6. Whether or not the law makes any provision for the separation of Church and State.

I received the following reply from my MP:

Dear Mr Suddery, 

Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me about religious education in schools. 

As you may be aware, much of this policy is devolved and the Welsh Government has responsibility for this area here in Wales. As a result, the UK Government is not able to intervene directly on this matter. However, I do appreciate your concern for the wider issue and have therefore spoken to other UK Ministerial colleagues to raise this issue directly. 

I agree that Religious Education is important for pupils’ understanding of the rich diversity of faiths and communities in the UK and their part in shaping the values and traditions of this country. As a result, it is rightly a statutory part of the basic curriculum, although the syllabus is not set by Government. 

Academies are free to set their own curriculum, under the terms of their funding arrangements; while Local Authorities set the curriculum for their schools through their Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. Syllabuses must reflect that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian while taking into account the teaching and practices of there other principal religions represented in the UK, including non-religious viewpoints. This model enables the needs and understanding of all cultures to develop.  I am frustrated that the Welsh Government have rejected the Academy approach.  

I hope this information is helpful and thank you once again for taking the time to raise this issue. 

Yours, 

Alun Cairns MP

Vale of Glamorgan

Free Speech is Non-Negotiable

Posted in Opinion, War News on November 28, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard of several people being threatened with libel action by a Mr. Marc Stephens who claims to represent the Burzynski Clinic in the U.S. which is offering a cancer treatment that is, at best, unproven and is asking a lot of money for this treatment even though there is no proof that I’m aware of that it works.

One of the people being constantly threatened and harassed by Mr. Stephens is Rhys Morgan who has posted the e-mail trail of threats that Mr. Stephens has sent to him here:

http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/

I’m expecting to start getting similar threats soon, so let me give Mr. Stephens fair warning: I’m not going to take this post down.

Conspiracy Theory – Why Kurt Sutter Will Never Win An Emmy

Posted in Opinion, War News on September 17, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Two weeks ago, the 4th season of Kurt Sutter’s critically acclaimed Sons of Anarchy premiered on American television.

Followers of Sutter’s blog or his twitter account @sutterink will know that for the past year or so he has been an outspoken critic of the Emmy nomination process and the people who make those decisions and those of us who have been glued to our screens over the last 3 years are in complete agreement with him, even if his language does make our toes curl.

The question which has perplexed and confused the Sons fans started out as a fairly simple one, “Why won’t the Emmy people ever nominate the Sons for an award?” At first, we thought it was snobbery; Sutter isn’t one of the Hollywood elite and he’s proud of his outsider status. Another theory is that because Sutter has a self-confessed tendency for obsessiveness, the shows he works on either conform to his vision or there’s hell to pay. He admits he can be quite difficult to work with and perhaps the lack of recognition in the form of nominations is some kind of payback, especially when you consider he’s been quite openly critical about the falling standard of dramatic writing over the last few years.

My theory is much simpler.

Hollywood is running scared.

Ever since 9/11, the American entertainment industry has been putting out largely pro-government material. Only a few movies and TV shows have dared to challenge the new America of the Patriot Act, the DHS and pro-war government policies. The whole concept of the arts being used to express the inner most feelings and views of the general public has been hijacked by an increasingly media-savvy political class which has sought to reach out and influence the masses through television programming and fear-mongering rather than factual debate.

Kurt Sutter however, refuses to be brought to heel.

The central characters of SAMCRO are hardly the obedient drones modern governments want their citizens to be. They think, they feel, they have their own opinions and, most important of all, they have each other. Even though they often fight like cats and dogs, at the end of the day they are a community in a way that has long since been forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic. In a world where financial and political corruption is being exposed more frequently than ever and with public perception of political figures reaching all-time lows, the characters of SAMCRO stand apart from mainstream American society.

And they do it by choice, with few regrets.

We are raised to believe that it’s a dog-eat-dog world without ever stopping to realise that dog-eat-dog is cannibalism; that we are hurting ourselves with that kind of thinking. Greed riddled bankers and rogue traders have beggared the entire planet over the past few years and none have faced any kind of trial or have had their fortunes seized to be used to repay the people whose life savings they’ve squandered. People have been screwed out of their money and had their quality of life significantly reduced by a minority of financiers who have shown little or no regret over their actions.

Granted the characters of  SAMCRO are not saints and they frequently screw over other people to get what they want, but they key thing here is that they never screw over each other. The last couple of years has seen that change, yes,  but at the very beginning the MC was founded on the principle that each Son would immediately drop everything to help another. If you needed some cash to get you through a tight spot you wouldn’t need a bank loan with a rip-off interest rate, you’d simply ask the club and they’d have a whip-round and help out. If somebody was hassling you, you wouldn’t have to worry because you knew your brothers would be there instantly and without expecting anything in return except that you do the same for them.

In this Thatcherist/Reaganomics world where Me Plc is the established moral standard, I find myself loving these gun-running, fuck-you-and-your-society scumbags. In spite of their flaws, they are more trustworthy than the law makers running the world today. Their standards and beliefs may make you turn your lips up in disgust, but they stick by them. The characters of SAMCRO have the courage of their convictions and will never be brow beaten into obedience and fear and they will never give up on their dreams and just accept the place society has marked out for them.

They are free.

And that is what the Emmy people are afraid of.

For reasons best known to themselves, the people in charge of Emmy nominations have chosen to accede to the government agenda and only nominate shows which show “good” Americans. People who obey, sit down, stand up, bark, roll over and wag their tails on command. A show like the Sons of Anarchy where the central characters frequently out-wit the Federal government, run rings around its law enforcement agencies and kill their agents, is never going to be allowed to be publicly acclaimed. It might give people ideas and Kurt Sutter’s ideas are scaring the crap out of the people at the top of the Hollywood food chain.

The fact that the ratings have been going up with few, if any, dips shows them that we like these ideas. We like the idea of having friends who’ll back us up no matter the cost, the idea that we can do our own thing and make a living and most of all the idea we can live our own way. You don’t have to conform, you don’t have to fit in. You can be your own person, hold true to your own beliefs and that is the way to true happiness.

Kurt Sutter has reached out to the people of the world not with fear or hate, but with an idea and his pen is mightier than all the swords of government because his idea is incredibly simple: brains before bullets.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kurt Sutter based the Sons of Anarchy on some of the prose of Edward Bulwer Lytton:

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”

  – from The Works of Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1892.

Please Read

Posted in Opinion, Politics, War News on August 14, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Many of us here in Britain have long suspected that the bank bailouts combined with the MP’s expenses scandal and the general me, me, me attitude long promoted by politicians of all parties and persuasions would eventually cause some serious social upheaval.

Now it’s happened, the politicians and cops are simply using mindless platitudes like, “It’s unacceptable behaviour” and “gross criminality” to describe the recent riots and their participants.

A lot of this is simply playing to the gallery of public opinion and a lot more is to reassure the politicians financial backers that they’re still at the forefront of government concern. Obviously, if you put any of the above to any politician you’ll be immediately dismissed as either sadly misinformed, out of touch with reality or sympathising with criminals.

Fortunately, we have a long tradition of comedians and satirists holding government to account and exposing the truth of situations in a way many of us are simply unable to articulate.

With this article in the online Guardian newspaper, we can add Russell Brand to that list.

Please read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/11/london-riots-davidcameron

The End of The Beginning or The Beginning of The End?

Posted in Opinion, Space, Wallpapers on July 9, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

July 8th 2011 is a day that will be long remembered throughout Human history.

On this day, the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis was launched on its’, and the space shuttle programme’s, final mission, ending thirty years of U.S. manned space flight. From now until the still doubtful deployment of the Constellation/Ares replacement vehicle, astronauts will have to be launched into space by Russian rockets.

That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing as it means that manned missions will still take place and if the U.S. congress can get the funding together for the Constellation programme, the end of the orbiter will just be a brief hiatus from U.S. manned space flight.

Hopefully us Brits will have something nice for the world in a little while http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13520948

In the meantime, being the nerd I am, I’ve collected all the shuttle mission patches for your enjoyment.

One Small Step…

Posted in Opinion, Space on June 6, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

This fantastic article was posted on the B.B.C. news online website today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13666892

It details, in a brief format, how scientists at the Cern particle physics laboratory in Switzerland succeeded in trapping atoms of anti-hydrogen for 15 minutes.

A much fuller explanation of the technology can be found in the article published online at Nature Physics yesterday.

http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nphys2025.html

We are getting closer and closer to the dream of starflight every day as an antimatter powered ship could travel further and much faster than anything built before, assuming of course, we find a way to protect the crew of such a ship from the enormous and fatal G forces such acceleration would bring.

Gene Roddenberry would have loved this.

Breaking News!

Posted in Opinion, War News on June 5, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

It was revealed yesterday that Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney has confessed to having had a hair transplant.

Now, call me an old-fashioned prude if you will, but how is that news?

I mean, at the same time as Rooney’s “revelation”, there were still six wars or revolutions going on in the Middle East, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was still melting down, Germany’s canning its nuclear industry as a result, Sepp Blatter’s corrupt presidency of F.I.F.A. got “re-elected” for another four years and Gen. Mladic’s trial at the Hague got underway.

And yet, it’s Wayne Rooney’s hair-do that seems to have caught the public imagination as opposed to this story, which is about S.I.S. (or M.I. 6 as it’s more erroneously known) doing a brilliant piece of trolling on al-Qaeda.

Now was this reported on the BBC news? Channel 4? Sky? No, not that I saw anyway.

I found out about it when it made the front page of Pundit Kitchen, a subset of the Cheezburger website. It turns out that the original story broke in the online Daily Telegraph.

As much as it pains me, I’m afraid we’re going to have to chalk this up as a win for the Minions.