Stazjia’s Commentary

Archive for September 2008

I’ve spent some time today giving this blog a new title – Stazjia’s Weblog was just too boring for words. OK, it’s still not very exciting but I’ve never been good at titles. I’ve also given it a new look. I hope it’s more attractive and easier to read. On the last design, I thought links didn’t show up very clearly. I’ve removed one of the lists of my Squidoo sites from the left hand column. I thought that column was getting too cluttered.

If you find anything interesting in my blog, I hope you’ll use the link to technorati.

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Like many Europeans, I couldn’t believe that Americans could re-elect George Bush at the last election. Apparently, some Americans couldn’t believe it either as I had apologies emailed to me by friends in the US, assuring me that they hadn’t voted for him.

Generally, who a nations elects as its leader is strictly its own business and nationals of other countries have no right to interfere or criticize. In the case of the USA, it’s different because it is our business too. It’s said here that “If America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold” so we do worry about the leaders of that country. Right now, it looks as if the US has done more than sneezed and the rest of us could go down with pneumonia.

To continue the analogy, it seems like nobody is confident of the best drug for the condition. Will billions of dollars of taxpayers money really cure the problem? According to commentators, it seems that it will cost every taxpayer in the USA more than $2000. Fine for those people who have been getting big fat bonuses from the financial markets, lending money and related activities, not so good for those who can’t afford health care or medical insurance. Pretty bad for those who are just making ends meet with difficulty.

The fact that there doesn’t seem to be concrete plans in place for what is going to be done with these billions of dollars is worrying. Are we supposed to believe that people who could make such a mess of things know how to fix them? I don’t think so. Even John McCain said: “When we’re talking about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, ‘trust me’ just isn’t good enough.”

The consequences in Western Europe and other industrialized countries could be catastrophic for their economies. Bad as this will be, what will happen to those desperately poor regions of the world? Will their people be left to fend for themselves, dying from hunger, HIV/AIDS, drought, bad water, floods and violence?

Right now it seems we are ‘living in interesting times’ as the Chinese curse is supposed to say. Let’s hope they get boring very quickly.

I’ve just finished the latest novel by Alastair Reynolds, called The House of Suns. It was as good as all his other science fiction novels although it isn’t set in his Revelation Space Universe, like many of the others. Its big theme is morality and genocide, in particular as it relates to beings who are not organic but machine although with their own consciousness.

It sounds heavy but it is an exciting, interesting as well as a thoughtful book and I recommend it for anybody who enjoys science fiction.

Queses Likely

Originally uploaded by Horn Of Fury

I went to London on Friday and came back yesterday (Monday). I always forget how much I dislike London till I go back. I don’t think I could ever live there again. I’m too used to the peace and quiet of a country town, people having time to smile and say good morning, going into stores and workers having time to exchange a few remarks. In London, people barely look at each other, let alone nod or speak.

As for the traffic…. well, in our small town we think think it’s a major traffic jam if there are 10 cars ahead of us at a junction! Of course, in bigger towns here in south-west England, there are traffic jams, pollution and busy people but not on the scale of London. Our closest cities are Bath, Bristol and Salisbury. Only Bristol is really big because it takes about 30 to 50 minutes to travel from the outskirts to the centre, depending on which way you come in and the traffic.

On the way home last night, there was a major accident on the motorway causing the police to close both carriageways. It was obviously very serious because the air ambulance came to take the casualties to hospital. It took 2 hours for the motorway to open. Luckily, I had a newspaper and a book to read but I was desperate to go to the toilet so we went into the next service station.

We got home very late but at least we arrived safely unlike the people involved in the accident so I don’t moan about the wait or long delay.

Bulldog

Bulldogs are prone to many inbred conditions including: breathing difficulties, hip dyplasia and skin problems.

This is a follow-up to my post on August 20th and the revelations about the way many breeders of pedigree dogs are completely disregarding the consequences to the health of the dogs they breed by accentuating breed characteristics.

Now many organizations have joined in the debate. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) have announced they will not take part in Crufts, the UK’s premier dog show. RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said:

“Dog shows using current breed standards as the main judging criteria actively encourage both the intentional breeding of deformed and disabled dogs and the inbreeding of closely related animals. There is compelling scientific evidence that the health and welfare of hundreds of thousands of pedigree dogs is seriously compromised as a result.”

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity, the Dogs Trust, has also announced it is withdrawing from Kennel Club shows.  It says:

“Dogs Trust believes that this removal of support is the strongest signal it can give to the Kennel Club and breeders to achieve immediate action to ensure that the health and wellbeing of pedigree dogs is ranked over appearance and artificial breed standards.”

K9 magazine reports that Battersea Dogs Home is also reconsidering its attendance at Crufts and other dog shows and that Barclays Bank will not sponsor the event again next year.

I believe that the only way to bring breeders to their senses is to hit them in their pockets. Make it more difficult for them to sell pedigree dogs that are being bred to have health problems just to make them a more extreme example of the breed. This is crazy!

Read the first blog I wrote about The Pedigree Dog Scandal and then the follow-up to the article above.

I’ve always been a very private person and not given to making friends easily. That doesn’t mean I don’t have friends, I just take time to get to know people. I’m a very outgoing person so this reserve isn’t immediately obvious.

Even though I’ve been an internet addict for more than 10 years, I’ve only made a few friends online just the way I have in my ‘real’ life. Now, though, that’s changing. I’ve joined Facebook and mixx.com and a new social bookmarking site that’s still in beta testing. It’s all happened since I joined Squidoo. There I’ve enjoyed visiting other people’s lenses and leaving comments, giving stars and adding lenses to my favourites. I’ve got to know other lensmasters, especially as I visit the forum regularly – like at least once a day.

On Facebook I’ve got into ‘conversations’ with other lensmasters because there are Squidoo groups on FB. I find I’m ‘friends’ with the same people on mixx and the new beta site.

I’m surprised to find that I’m really enjoying it. Perhaps it’s because, as I’m virtually retired, I have more time now for other people. I’ve also got over a deep-rooted shyness that I’ve hidden well behind an outgoing facade.

It’s really interesting interacting with people from all over the world. Although there are differences, we aren’t really all that different.

This really has been the most dreadful summer. It has rained so much and we’ve had so few sunny days, it’s been really depressing. Apart from a few days at the end of July, with all the rain and strong winds, it’s been more like autumn during August and this weekend is even worse.

It’s raining heavily and there are gale force winds over much of the country. Already there are some floods in Wales. There is a report on the the TV news that a mother and baby had to be rescued from their home in Wales because flood water had risen to 5ft. As rain is forecast for the next few days so flooding is likely to get worse and more widespread.

While it’s depressing here, we should spare a thought for people in Haiti who are suffering from severe floods and mud slides caused by Hurricane Hannah. The UN aid co-ordinator has just said that up to 600,000 people there might require assistance. There are already reports of 130 deaths.