MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The end of one law for all?

The wikipedia article on national identity states:
Nations are defined by a limited number of characteristics, which apply to both the individual members, and the nation. The first requirement for the definition is that the characteristics should be shared - a group of people with nothing in common, can not be a nation. Because they are shared, the national population also has a degree of uniformity and homogeneity. And finally, at least some of the characteristics must be exclusive - to distinguish the nation from neighbouring nations.
The fact is, this is not the case in modern Britain. The break up of the nation is continuing slowly but inexorably.

As the article states, the basis of the nation are shared culture, language and law. Of course, it's also important to remember the roles of ethnicity and faith, but some would say they have diminished in importance within the modern state. On those pillars everything else is built, without them the nation is simply a 'global traffic station'.

That multicultralism is being used to attack the nation state, is obvious. Multiculturalism attacks the first pillar holding up the state, the shared culture of the nation. But it also leads to multilingualism, in which the ability to speak the language of the nation is no longer required. Instead, the state pays for translators at huge expense to the taxpayer. And the very fact that we speak different languages is even celebrated by the liberal media.

The only pillar of the nation state which has not yet been attacked by multiculturalism, is the law. Well, so I thought. Then I came across an article on the BBC website, it turns out that the laws of this land, rooted in anglo-saxon common law, are not accepted by some British citizens. Instead:

Aydarus Yusuf has lived in the UK for the past 15 years, but he feels more bound by the traditional law of his country of birth - Somalia - than he does by the law of England and Wales.

"Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law. It's not Islamic, it's not religious - it's just a cultural thing."

he 29-year-old youth worker wants to ensure that other members of his community remain subject to the law of their ancestors too - he helps convene an unofficial Somali court, or "gar", in south-east London.

Aydarus is not alone in this desire. A number of parallel legal universes have been quietly evolving among minority communities. As well as Somali customary law, Islamic and Jewish laws are being applied and enforced in parts of the UK. [...]

So how did this court come about? Some academic lawyers see these alternative legal systems as an inevitable - and welcome - consequence of multiculturalism.

Dr Prakash Shah, of London's Queen Mary University, advocates this "legal pluralism".

"Tribunals like the Somali court could be more effective than the formal legal system in maintaining social harmony."

And so, the final pillar is attacked. Don't be surprised when the whole structure collapses.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

The Bizarre Rantings Of An Iman


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Attack of the Mind Fog

I read David Smith’s economics UK blog regularly. For those of you who aren't aware of him, David is an author, and the Economics editor for the Sunday Times. And, his blog is a very informative read.

David fulfils a useful purpose for me. As most of the things I don’t understand about economics send me into blind panic, a read of David’s blog usually returns me to acquiescence. Take the M4 money supply. It's out of control, I think. Surely inflation is gonna rocket! And, the pound is gonna going to go down the pan! Not true, says David:
What's changed is that inflation on all measures has come in lower than expected, earnings growth remains very benign and the Bank has published an inflation report showing a quicker return to target than it previously expected. M4 growth does not represent a dilution of the pound sterling, in fact it is hard to tell what it is. There's a nice chart in the Bank's inflation report (1.6 p12) showing the poor relationship between M4 and money GDP.
Everytime I read his blog, the alchemy that is modern finance, looks more and more like an exact science. It’s entirely explainable, predictable and, well, goldilocksish. I wonder why I am so sceptical of this 'new economy'. Look at the alchemy involved with Gordon Brown’s mismanagement of the economy. Think of him smelting discarded copper ingots, some iron-ore, and some moon dust to finish it off. And then he brings the metal out of the forge - and it looks a lot like gold. All hail the modern-day Paracelsus, say the media. Unsurprisingly, this leads me to feel mighty confused and unsure about all things economic. Is there really nothing to worry about, I think. So what do I do? I read David’s blog, try to understand what on earth he is talking about, and if I have understood, I tend to rest a lot easier.

However, that feeling evades me when I think about the UK housing market. To be brutally honest, it baffles me. And, no matter what they do or say, economists, like David, still can’t convince me that there is not more to it than supply and demand. Take this BBC article, where they have even provided graphs, and a veritable collection of these supply and demanders. And as I read it, that fog didn’t clear. Infact, I was left in the middle of a mind-peasouper.
There are currently 22.8 million households in Great Britain. The Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) predicts that another million or so will be added in the next five years alone.

And by 2016 there will be 25.1 million households in Britain - an increase of 2.3 million in just ten years. A lot of attention has been given to the fact that the country has seen a surge in immigration recently, principally from Eastern Europe.

But Professor Michael Ball, of the University of Reading business school, said the rise in household numbers will be driven by a large increase in the number of us who are living alone.
No, no, no, it’s nothing to do with immigration. It never is to the BBC. So, what else can we find to explain it? Ah yes, single ownership households. Let's beat that drum mercilessly:
We estimate that the number of households has been growing at 200,000 or even more each year in recent years," said Milan Katri, chief economist of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Yet new building has been running at between 140,000 and 160,000 a year, he added.

Thanks to successive government policies, hardly any new council houses have been built for the last 20 years. Some people who might once have rented have been more or less forced to buy instead.

Tony Key, Professor of real estate economics at the Cass Business school in London, said this under supply of housing has led to a huge distortion in the UK property market. Somewhere around the mid 1980s we stopped building council houses and we didn't fill in the gap. There's been a group of people who might logically be renters who have been forced into being owner occupiers," said Professor Key.

Meanwhile millions of former council homes have also been sold by local authorities.
I wrote about both of these, in the spring. Undoubtedly, single ownership households have had a major impact on the housing market. But this has been happening for years, as the BBC graph shows. Therefore, they didn’t stop the housing prices from crashing in the early 90s. So, yes BBC, immigration has been widely mentioned as a price-driver, and with very good reason too.

But there is still something missing, with regards to the housing market. Single households cannot explain everything. A Professor, called Christine Whitehead, has another explanation:
Despite our perennial complaints about the roguishness of estate agents, dilatoriness of lawyers and the cost of stamp duty, buying and selling here is relatively easy to do.

Professor Whitehead said our transaction costs are lower then in most of rest of Europe, where taxation and the administrative costs of moving can take more than 10% of a property's value. We have a much more fluid market, in the main, buying and selling does not take very long, she said.

If you add in the fact that we have lots of houses -which offer more privacy and control than flats, a legal system geared to the home owner and the fact that mortgage repayments are usually cheaper than rent, then you have some pretty good reasons to buy a house.
Perhaps this is the nub of the matter. Instead of, as the BBC report wrongly states, being a nation of ‘homeowners’, we are now a nation of ‘housing speculators’. We're not after a home, but an 'investment'. After all, all those aforementioned single households have to be able to repay a mortgage by themselves. So, with only one wage, and with wages fairly stagnant, how on earth is all this possible? The most plausible explanation is that it’s mortgage providers, who seem hell bent on a race to the bottom, with regards to lending practices. Their motto is lend, lend, lend. Interest only? Yes sir, sign here. Bad credit rating? Who cares!

And then I think of the logical conclusion to all speculation. What happens when we reach the lending bottom of the barrel? And how long can we afford these 'mega-mortgages', on stagnant wages. Well, David Miles from Morgan Stanley, believes that as much as half the growth in house prices since 1996, has been down to speculation. And he predicts there will almost certainly be a slump, maybe within the next two years.

And this is where David Smith comes in again. As I am thinking speculation, leveraging and hyper-growth. It sounds an awful lot like a house of cards. Now I am really worried! But David actually admonishes this thinking:

The effect of rising population and limited housing supply on prices should not be underestimated. The number of new “dwellings” being completed is rising. I use the word dwellings advisedly because about half of current “housing” starts are flats and maisonettes. The House Builders Federation has just changed its name to the Home Builders Federation for that reason. In 2004-5, 206,750 dwellings were completed, nearly 9% up on the previous year. But housebuilding has not moved decisively higher. During the 1990s, the typical number of new dwellings completed was about 190,000. Nearly 90% of new accommodation these days is built by the private sector.[...]

Housing demand is not, of course, just about population growth and immigration. It is also affected by size of household, divorce, how early young people fly from the parental nest, second homes and a range of other factors. The government’s projections show that in England alone there will be an average of 209,000 new households annually over the next two decades.

The strength of housing demand is one thing, but what about the “fact” that house prices are plainly too high? The surprise about this year’s housing market strength is that what looked like an overvalued asset has gone up a lot more. How can this be, and how dangerous is it? Perhaps not at all, because housing was not overvalued.

I read it and all the worry should have been smoothed away. It's the goldilocks housing market! I shouldn’t still be thinking ‘house of cards’. And yet, this doesn’t look like alchemy. It’s plain to see, at least to me, that at this level, housing is in an unsustainable boom. So I am still puzzled. And I am still panicing. I remember that I am not an economist, David Smith, Saxon Brettell, professors Ball, Key and Whitehead are. They know what they’re talking about; they have the degrees to prove it. What do I have? A couple of economic textbooks, that I don't really understand.

Losing interest in the subject, and with my head hurting, my mind drifts to something I do know a lot about - energy. I remember the oil price going up and up earlier in the year. And, I remember my words at the time:
My belief is that the rises in energy prices are permanent. So does Stephen Leeb. It's simple supply and demand, and thanks to our Chinese friends, there is not enough to go around.
Hmmm, they sound very much like the economists quotes. It's Supply and demand due to single households. It's supply demand due to Chinese consumption. In fact, what I said at the time was mostly true. Oil prices remain historically high. The fundamentals are driving the oil price. And the supply and demand situation is a major factor behind this. But it’s all very easy to underestimate speculation when the prices are rocketing, especially when you have fundamentals on your side. That was a lesson I learned the hard way.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pro-choice Barbarians, Emerge From a Hole

This is Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire. Last month, Nadine tabled a bill attempting to amend Britain's ultra-liberal abortion law. The bill was moderate in its proposals:
  1. The introduction of a cooling off period of 10 days. If the abortion is still wanted, it will go ahead.
  2. Cutting the upper limit from 24 to 21 weeks.
  3. During the cooling off period, the woman/girl will attend counselling.
All of these are very sensible propsals, which would constitute an improvement to our current laws. Nonetheless, the government, represented by a harridan called Chris McCafferty, described the bill as:
Cynical, cruel and inhumane
As opposed to the wonderfully 'humane' process of abortion, I suppose?

Unfortunately, the bill was defeated. But Nadine was succesful in raising this important issue, even though it received very little national coverage. And, as this was part of the bill's objective, she was happy with the result.

To tackle such an issue requires a lot of courage. The establishment do not want the debate, and there is also the sinister 'pro-choice' nutjobs, to consider. And almost inevitably, the aforementioned nutjobs targeted Nadine with death threats. It's not a stretch to imagine that these threats are very real. Life is obviously cheap to such people.

As sad as this all is, I hope it will, one day, lead the public to see the reality of abortion. And, I hope is that one day the media will stop its instutional pro-abortion bias. Perhaps, instead of portraying pro-lifers as a bunch of facists, it will tell the truth about the extremist pro-abortion lobby. And, that the public will also recognise that the anti-abortion lobby uses logic, arguments and peaceful protest, whilst the pro-choicers use insults and threats. I believe, and hope, that thanks to Nadine's bravery, that day is getting closer.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Some Links

Oh dear, what does it say about 'Red' Ken Livingstone, when even Hugo Chavez is too embarassed to meet such a mad extremist? Moreover, what does it say about the people of London, who elected him?

This brings me nicely to a couple of new links I am adding. Because, the first blog charts the idiocy of Ken, and he certainly doesn't fail to keep them in business.

Secondly, I have to thank Osama Saeed's nemesis, Martin Kelly, for the link to Econbrowser. It's by far the most interesting economics blog I've come across.

Derek Turner, the editor of Right Now, is also worth a read.

And finally, David Davies, the MP for Monmouth, and probably the most admirable Tory MP around.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Liberalism of 'Conservatives'

Somebody once said that 'everyone will be blogging in a few years'. Well, it's not quite true yet, but we are definitely getting there. Now, Charlie Wolf has joined in, albeit a little sporadically.

Who's Charlie Wolf? Well, he is an Ayn Rand devotee, unemployed radio host, uber hawk and, generally, a Neoconservative extraordinaire. Unsurprisingly, he talks quite a lot of nonsense, especially about Iraq and Israel.

But even Charlie comes out with some salient points, sometimes. Take this post, in which he takes aim at David Cameron:
He said that he is not a neo-conservative but is a liberal conservative. But neo Conservatives are liberal conservatives.
Very true Charlie. Neoconservatism is liberalism, albeit right-liberalism. When Cameron professes he's a 'liberal conservative', he really means he believes in left-liberalism. The battle in modern conservatism is merely a civil war between right and left liberals. Let's not forget that Cameron still generally believes in the Iraq war, but not the way it has been prosecuted. His economic ideas are not radically different to that of the right of the party, with tax the obvious exception.

But, to support the war in Iraq contravenes fundamental conservative principles. Last week's Spectator quotes John Hulsman:
The necons have gone wrong by offering us humanitarianism on steroids. It has been false realism, as though you impose democracy at the barrel of a gun and people will like that. As though one size fits all for the world - culture and history don't matter at all. In essence, the neoconservatives are still Jacobin utopian Rousseauian Trotskyists, supporters of permanent revolution. That's their gig. And of course it's met with predictable disaster.

The traditions of conservatism go back to Edmund Burke, not to this utopian fantasy that you can make the world a Kantian paradise sometime in the near future.
Darwinian Conservatism picks up the baton:
The American war in Iraq violates such conservatism by assuming a utopian view of human nature. That explains why many American conservatives now realize that the neoconservative idealism of Bush's war in Iraq is not really rooted in conservative thought.

The American war in Iraq is foolishly utopian in at least two respects. First, it is utopian in the assumption that the institutions of ordered liberty can be nourished around the globe in every society by imperialistic wars.
Neocon Charlie Wolf, wouldn't understand that. His utopianist liberalism blinds him. That's why, later in his post, he wishes that Tony Blair would cross the House to become a 'Conservative' prime minister. Yes, anti-family, anti-liberty, anti-conventional marriage, pro-immigration, pro-taxation and pro-huge public spending Tony Blair. A conservative!!

Quite frankly, Cameron's rejection of neoconservatism, was the most salient thing he has ever said. His rejection of all neo-Jacobinist liberalism, would mark him out as fit to govern this country.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Iraq Descending.....

More sad news from Iraq today. That follows Remembrance Sunday's deaths, at the hands of Shia Militia.

Matters seem to be coming to a head right now. So, it's likely that we will have to make some serious decisions soon. The options are very simple: more troops, full withdrawal, or an attempt to stop foreign interference, letting Iraq sink, swim, or divide by itself. Perhaps there is also another option, one which was suggested by Democrat Joseph Biden, divide Iraq on ethnic grounds.

Well, firstly, more troops is a complete non-starter. Pat Buchanan said:
Americans will not send added troops to Iraq, as McCain urges. They want out of this war and are willing to take the consequences.
Quite simply it's too late to send in more troops, too much blood has been spilled, too much money has been spent. There is no public will for such a move. And frankly, would more troops have neccesarily 'won us' the war, anyway? According to this article it would have been a struggle with 500,000. Knowing this fact now, makes Rumsfeld's idiocy seem even more acute.

One fact that has to be acknowledged, is that our troops presence more than likely is making things worse. Therefore, even if we set up seperate regions, as Biden suggests, we are still likely to face the brunt of angry insurgents, blaming us for their region being given 'a raw deal'. It's obvious that the best thing would be for us to get our troops out.

A full withdrawal is so unlikely that, whatever Buchanan says, it is not going to happen. Its lauding, as a victory for Jihadists, would set a dangerous precedent. And, it would be such an admission of defeat, that it would almost certainly condemn its architects to the political trash can.

What to do then? All I can do is ask whether we are able to withdraw our troops to the desert and borders of Iraq. Therefore, we might be able to limit Syrian, Iranian and Turkish meddling in a possible civil war. This seems to be our best option, and that fact is the most damning thing to say about the whole debacle.

(BTW - there are still some in the Blogosphere who believe that we are 'winning' in Iraq. God only knows what a defeat would look like.)

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

They gave their lives. And their reward from modern Britain? Scum like this.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Economic Warnings - Rumbling On

Early in the summer, I made a few comments on the down-turning economy. Most of the analysis still stands up now. Mervyn King had to raise interest rates later in the summer, and has done so again last week. My opinion in May was that a 'shock' interest rate rise, or at least the threat of one, would have been a good thing at cooling off inflation, there and then. Instead, the Commitee dillied and dallied, and have now had to raise rates twice, with a further one on the cards thanks to continued house price mania and an increasing RPI.

The oil prices have, however, been a bit harder to predict. Seemingly on an inexorable rise before, they peaked during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. But with a, thankfully, damp squib of a hurricane season over, and after the passing of the American 'driving season', September saw speculators exiting the market very quickly.

I am not going to attempt to write that I foresaw this happening, Jerome K. Jerome once said that 'it is always the best policy to speak the truth - unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar', well I'm a terrible liar. So hands-up. But, shorn of speculators, oil is now stripped down to its fundamentals. And, with continued economic growth, no matter how small, oil is headed on an upwards trajectory, with $80 barrel crude a possibility within the next couple of years.

What has been slightly more surprising is the performance of the stock market. It has actually held up very well, with the Dow making a record high and the FTSE climbing over 6200. Whatsmore, all news seems to be good news to the markets. The record corporate profits are probably responsible for a large part of the buoyancy, but the market now seems to be rather overpriced, for my liking.

The main worry for the markets has to come from the state of the American economy. It seems to be wobbling quite badly at the moment. And, historically speaking, when the US slips into a recession, Britain usually follows.

Perhaps 2001 was an exception to this, but, more than likely, that was avoided by Gordon Brown's Keynesian public spending binge. But let's not bash poor old Keynes. Sure, he gave politicans justification for spending huge amounts of public money. It's also true, however, that he called for spending to be reduced when the economy was doing well. So, politicans claimed to be following Keynes when they were spending their way out of a recession. But once world-improving politicans have a taste for spending money, they continue to spend. After all, so the theory goes, if the medicine has worked, why not swallow the whole bottle?

Enough of the digression, let's get back to the question about the US economy. Well, it does seem to be dangerously close to teetering over the brink. An inverted yield curve does not look promising. Then there's the housing market, still looking for a soft landing. The use of housing equity withdrawal, treating the house as an 'ATM machine', has been a major factor in fuelling consumer spending. The reduction in GDP can be at least partly attributed to this. But, Neither of these factors make a recession inevitable. And, many economists do not seem to be especially
The effects of the housing correction will be entirely contained within the housing sector," says Mike Englund, chief economist of Action Economics. Corporate balance sheets are stronger than they've been in years, with U.S. companies sitting on $600 billion in cash. Interest rates are stable, and may decline. Falling energy prices are easing the burden on energy-intensive industries like chemicals and airlines.
So, all in all, the economy is at a worrying crossroads but is not yet a dead-man walking. And, my suspicion that as soon as the US economy looks to be heading south the Fed will turn up its printing press, still stands. Although another interest rate rise in the new year would suggest that inflationiary worries still persist. Either way, the road ahead is full of obstacles, one false move from the Fed and we are staring either a recession or increasing inflation in the face.

My advice is the same as ever. And, I don't mind being as annoying as Mogambo on this subject. Quite simply - buy some gold!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Gift Of Gods

It seems that the Auster v Derbyshire debate, has now died down. The debate was started by this article in NRO by Derbyshire, focusing on his views on God. Now, I am not going to enter into that particular debate today. But I am puzzled by Derbyshire's views on humanity, and its place on the planet. Looking at it in a rational and godless way, he basically believes that we are no more important or special, than any other species. Furthermore, he seems to think that we are not substantially different in thought or behaviour, as well.

In his post, Derbyshire asks:
But doesn’t the I the Me, that I mentioned earlier — the self-awareness that we humans uniquely have — doesn’t that make us special? Do tigers, toads, and ticks have an I? Do they have a connection to the Creator? I don’t know. Perhaps they have a fuzzier one — perhaps higher animals, at any rate, see through a glass as we do, but more darkly. In any case, that only makes us special in the way that an elephant is special by virtue of having that long trunk — more exactly, the way the first creatures who were able to register visible light as images were special. We are part of nature — an exceptionally advanced and interesting part, but… not special.
Derbyshire talks about an ‘I’, without realising that this is the cornerstone of humanity. We have the ability to place ourselves in the world, to understand the concepts of distance, space and time. And as most humans think in this way, they seem to believe that all animals’ brains, especially the highly intelligent ones, work in exactly the same way, albeit, as Derbyshire said, they are a little ‘fuzzier’. Frankly, I do not believe this is true, we have unique tools to unlock the potential and brilliance of the brain. And, science has not shown us an animal that has this tool. Even more striking than that is the fact that there is no proof that early Homo species had it as well. So what is this tool? Well, I think it's the most convincing argument as to why anatomically modern and fully modern humans, seemed to have behaved differently. The tool is language, and its most sophisticated aspect - syntax.

To understand why this is the reason behind humanities unique abilities, and to why this shows us as different, we have to look at the history of language development. Derbyshire’s view that language can be explained by Darwinian adaptations is, in a way, correct. But, franly, it belies the fact that the origins are shrouded in mystery. Simply put, language cannot be shown to have evolved for a specific purpose. Indeed, the only satisfying conclusions that have been reached about it are that the physical characteristics of language, the development of the linguistical areas of the brain, the development of the larynx e.t.c are simply by-products of the evolvement of bipedalism and the brain.

We then reach the evolution of Homo species, who had large brains and who's voice boxes had become more and more human-esque. But, despite this, their behaviour was far more like that of very early human, not Cro-Magnon man. Their ‘language’ was in all probability a holistic based one, without specific words. The holistic language hypothesis was developed by Alison Wray, her belief is that holistic (sounds) would have engendered a conservatism in thought, as such a language would have been limited to a specific number of utterances, stored in the long term memory. Thus, a new ‘phrase’ would have had to be clearly understood between the two Early Humans, meaning it would have to be radically different from any of the other phrases. Ambiguity was simply not an option. The hypothesis is supported by the evidence, as there is a marked lack of innovation between 1.8 – 0.25 million years ago, Hominid stone tools remained unchanged and strictly limited, there are no engravings in bone and fire may have been harnessed, but there is no evidence of fireplaces, so, therefore it was never controlled.

And then there are Neanderthals. There is a distinct lack of evidence for linguistics.
Some scientists believe that without language, it was simply impossible to teach youths how to make the complicated Neanderthal tools. However, a Japanese study showed that two sets of human subjects, had about the same proficiency in tool making, despite the fact that one group was shown how to make them without verbal instructions. Perhaps Neanderthals did have a large lexicon of words for objects. Or maybe they didn’t. Either way, it is obvious that with such a difference in anatomy, Neanderthals certainly didn’t have the richness of human like speech. And, most importantly, they were unlikely to have syntax. This is perhaps the most convincing argument as to why Cro-Magnon man out lived Neanderthals, in Ice-age Europe. Cro-Magnon man is one of the most divisive aspects of human history. He, and his descendents, produced brilliant paintings, Venus figures, carved bone and wore jewellery. There is no doubt that they were fully modern. The contrast with anatomically modern humans, who lived in Africa 120,000 years ago, is stark. They did not live a particularly different lifestyle to their predecessor species. And, if the out of Africa hypothesis is correct, they didn’t successfully leave Africa, until 60,000 years ago, when humans were fully modern. The behavioural contrast grows even sharper when you think of how quickly humanity conquered the planet reaching Australia very quickly. Science simply cannot explain why such wanderlust suddenly emerged. So what makes us different and special? Well, Steven Mithen provided the answer:
How can humans be so biologically close to our great ape relatives but so radically different in terms of behaviour and thought? How is it that our close relatives, such as the Neanderthals, possessed equivalent sized brains to modern humans and language, but remained culturally archaic, with no signs of art, religious behaviour or scientific thought in their behaviour? In my previous work I have argued that the answers to such questions relate to the particular form of mentality possessed by modern humans within which there is a substantially greater degree of cognitive fluidity than in other types of (extinct) humans and primates. This provided the critical capacity for metaphorical thought that underlies so much of modern culture. In this talk I wish to develop this theme by examining how we should see the products of our culture, such as pieces of art, songs, dance, and social institutions, not only as the products of our modern mentality, but also as its source: such cultural behaviour may indeed be the mechanism by which our minds escaped from the constraints on human thought imposed by the evolutionary history of our brains
Ultimately, most cultures and traditions speak of the creation of langauges in the same way. They were the original gift from God. Well, maybe they were, or maybe they are simply a gift of evolution. It works both ways for me, as I am a Christian who believes in evolution. Either way, with them, we are certainly the most extraordinary species that has ever lived on this planet, and, as far as we know, on any other planet as well.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blogging In Beta

Now seems to be a good time to make 'the switch'. I have had numerous publishing problems recently, with a number of posts being duplicated when I try to make amendments. Sometimes, I can't even publish at all. Such little frustrations have led me to the end of the teather. So, now, it's Blogger Beta or bust.

Hopefully, archives and template will be left intact, but with Blogger's track record who knows! I suppose the only thing I can do is to cross my fingers.

Update - Well, it does not seem to have worked! I might have another try later, but it's hardly a promising start to Blogger's Beta.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An irony?

This week the globalisation-obsessed government, declared war on the middle-classes. Blaming them for global warming thanks to their cheap flights, 4x4s, rubbish and the fact that they 'leave the lights on'. The solution, which must have been oh so heart-breakingly difficult for the government to reach, is tax, tax and.....more tax.

Yesterday, the world's biggest goods ship brought us a massive amount of 'goodies' from China. The ship also has the biggest diesel engine ever built. Do politicians realise how many 4x4's would be needed to create as much pollution as this ship? And, therefore, do they know that their taxes are worthless in any attempt to 'save the envirnoment'? Do they? Yes, they do.

They pursue a policy of trade which sends all manufacturing to a country with dodgy economic controls, and then ships the goods over massive distances causing huge pollution. So, if politicans are not bothered about global warming, why should I be?