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.

August 21, 2013

Edinburgh Fringe on the Common Weal

Filed under: Edinburgh Festival, Lesley Riddoch, Philosophy, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 7:11 pm

Discussion today, 21 August 2103 on the Common Weal at the Fringe.  If you would like more on the Jimmy Reid’s Foundation: Common Weal go to http://reidfoundation.org/common-weal/.

Also Lesley Riddoch has just published a book ‘Blossom’ on the Future of Scotland published by Luath.

The points I picked up at the discussion are;

Robin McAlpine

  • Buildable, share more.
  • Not big state, rather radical decentralisation.

In Scotland.

  • The majority of the population earn less than £20,000.
  • There is effectively no labour market.
  • Increase quality of jobs and the tax problem goes away
  • Start to start again from first principles.
  • New set of Institutions
  • Independence is not an identity problem
  • At present the Independence debate is more like Civil War.

Lesley Riddoch – the Nordics.

  • 80 years of Hydro, land ownership by the communities.
  • Communities are empowered.
  • In Sweden anyone earning less than £30,000 does not pay tax

Looking at Scotland;

  • ‘Stand there till I fix you’.
  • Cameron cherry picks the bits he likes
  • Forget average shift, rather shift average.
  • Human capacity..

James Meadway.

  • Sharpest fall in living standards in England for generations.
  • Papers say that England is booming, housing market overheated. In practice only London is booming.
  • The rest of the UK is suffering; the government in Westminster pays only lip service to the North East , North West.
  • Councils in England are without any authority, everything is centralised in Westminster.
  • We are only 20% through the crisis

Robin McAlpine again

  • Corporates v the Individual
  • Throw away the Tax Code  – start again
  • National Investment Bank

Lesley Riddoch again.

  • What is required is common sense.
  • Too many armchair theorists – get out there at the grass-roots
  • Good things are happening in Glasgow
  • It’s a question of self-help.
  • Scotland does not make use of its women, compare the Nordics.
  • It’s all about owners of assets

The points I took on board are:

All agreed that we need decentralisation desperately -whether in Scotland or the whole of the UK.

The Left has been asleep – Rumpelstiltskin.

We are not using our human capacity.

There was no good feeling that Independence would bring decentralisation. In my opinion Independence could lead to more centralisation; the government will claim that only that way can they save the economic problems they have inherited.

The problem is that major change as suggested by the Common Weal will only be brought about by major active political intervention. Unfortunately none of the political parties at Westminster at least are willing to take on radical reform. It was tentatively suggested that the Jimmy real foundation should form its own party.

We are looking at 50 years of hard slog.

December 19, 2012

Alan Turing

Filed under: In Our Time, Philosophy — derryvickers @ 9:45 pm

Alan Turing was perhaps the UK’s most influential mathematician of the 20th century in both theory and practice – see

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/dec/19/alan-turing-pardon-shift-legal-position

It’s not a pardon that should be given; its that the slate should be wiped clean.

It is ironic that Turing is to be featured on a postage stamp next year.

As the article in the Guardian points out he would not even have featured in the Press in today’s world.

I shall look out for the next epartition and sign it as I hope any readers of this blog will also.

October 1, 2012

Thoughts following another holiday in Northumberland

Filed under: Personal, Philosophy, Travel — derryvickers @ 9:55 pm

We have just been again for a short break in Northumberland – Northumberland is a lovely place of high rounded hills and productive flat grassland planes separated from the North Sea by a high escarpment and a narrow delightful coastal plane with castles, one on Holy Island, a large impressive one at Bamburgh, just a wall remaining at Dunstanburgh and a nice one at Warkworth.  If you want to know more about Northumberland just go to http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=northumberland&hl=en&qscrl=1&rlz=1T4AURU_enGB501GB501&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=AwhqUKaYEaKN0wX83YCoAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CEEQsAQ&biw=1600&bih=713

Alternatively you can see my short blog for our previous trip last year at derryvickers.com  – October 2011.

But back to the high rounded hills next the planes; many of them are topped with hill forts which date back to the bronze age.  From the tops there are magnificent views, though I suspect that the inhabitants at those early times were more interested in preserving themselves and their cattle than be too concerned with the view – though perhaps I am wrong – why should I doubt that bronze age peoples and their successors in iron age were no less attracted to the views in their spare moments than we.  Which takes me to a book I have been reading by a philosopher John Gray entitled ‘Straw Dogs’ – I don’t commend it to anyone who has not a strong constitution.  John Gray’s  statement is that we humans are no different from the other animals and like the other animals do not progress – we are just as likely to regress over the next years  – if we think otherwise we delude ourselves and he points to many examples.

On our last morning of the holidays I looked up to the skies and saw three or four skeins of wild geese flying south forming and reforming their ‘V’ shaped flight formations, ones at the front falling back with others taking over;  and remembering John Gray and thinking the geese will still be flying south in September each year when we humans have long died out from the Planet.

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