Mike Vickers' Blog

November 20, 2014

Aesop and the position of the West in the World today

Filed under: Education, In Our Time, Philosophy, Poetry — derryvickers @ 10:23 am

To those who are addicted to In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg; today he and his guests were talking about Aesop and his fables.  Simon Goldhill near the close of the programme made the very relevant comment that we in the West are still profoundly influenced by Greek culture.  We are introduced to this culture through Aesop and his fables right from the start of our lives and as we get older so Socrates, Plato and Aristotle break through.  There’s an interesting book by Ferdinand Mount ‘Full Circle’ where he sets out How the Classical World came back to us – perhaps it never went away.

But we need to remember that we in the West are so indoctrinated by the Classical World when working with people from other cultures that they have equally valid cultures too.

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A short visit to Berlin

Filed under: Europe, Personal, Politics, Travel — derryvickers @ 12:21 am

Berlin feels a small Capital City (but has a population of3.5 million).  A friendly, noisy open town.

Bikes everywhere – no helmets (well 1 in 20) – weaving in and outs of the trams and cars.

Trams, U Bahn and S Bahn criss-cross the City but  the trams only exist in what was East Berlin – whether they never existed in the West or just not rebuilt after WW2 is unclear. Perhaps capitalism and trams don’t mix!

I had not been there since the Wall came down.  I had not realised, despite a coach tour of East Berlin at the time that the Old City was in the East, the only area of note in the West was  Kurfurstendamm and the Tiergarten.

Tiergarten

Tiergarten

Balloons over Berlin

Balloons over Berlin

It’s 25 years last weekend since the Wall came down and quite by chance we were there to celebrate – 6000 helium balloons were launched along what was the Wall to 7pm Sunday 9 November

 

The Wall remains central for visitors if not for the inhabitants.

The museums are good but not as comprehensive as London – The Museum Island packs them all in on an island in the Spree .

There are a few exceptions – the Jewish Museum – well worth a visit just to walk around – but you need to be prepared for the message – the Jews have been persecuted from the time when they were introduced by the Romans.

 

Also the Holocaust Memorial is very memorable.

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Lots of good displays – Wall, Holocaust – Willy Brandt

I had forgotten about Willy Brandt but there is now a permanent exhibition to him on the Unter den Linden. What a clever socialist politician – he knew where to put pressure and where to cool canny  to get what he wanted – If Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister in scotland does just half as well with Westminster, Scotland will become independent in her life time.

 

November 3, 2014

Post Scottish Referendum blues

Filed under: Left Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 3:43 pm

As I understand it the No vote carried the day in the recent Referendum.

Labour although being on the winning side appears to have lost the vote.

The SNP looks to have won – at lease their membership has trebled – so by the way has the Greens.

And the situation now is that the Smith Commission is tasked with defining what Home Rule means for Scotland. The members round the table need to come forward with a compromise – and this will be difficult enough – but what is surprising is that the two major parties in Scotland, Labour and SNP, rather than fighting for what both agree is for a centre left Scotland where social welfare and democracy is what most of us would like, are dissipate all their efforts attacking each other without mercy.  Indeed it could result in the Tories making a much more coherent  case to Lord Smith.

All this is more eloquently laid out in today’s Scotsman Leader.

Yes I had no problem with misssymartin (BlogSpot.com) providing a good format for mixing and matching the common person’s ‘have your say’ to the Smith Commission. However I commend to all readers the response to the Commission by the Scottish TUC (my thanks to Andy Wightman for pointing it out) http://www.stuc.org.uk/files/Smith%20Commission%202014/STUC%20submission%20to%20Smith%20Commission.pdf

But if I go back to my beginning – to me what got to the Yes voters was the thought that for once ‘we might be able to be part of the party in terms of democracy – not just having decisions thrust on us either by Westminster or dare I say Holyrood. Let’s hope that one side effect of the Referendum is that Smith enters a footnote into his recommendation that the governments in Westminster and Holyrood recognise that there are we down here at the grass roots and that we would like to have our say not just every five years but on an on-going basis as to what we want for ourselves.  May be the COSLA report might just catch one of their eyes in passing as they walk along the Corridors of Power.

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