Thursday, May 24, 2007

2 Week Break

I will not post for the next two weeks, due to the pressures of exams.

Just need to empty my head of distracting thoughts right now.

Instead I'll leave you (my few faithfull readers) with this picture of Portsmouth harbour and the British aircraft carrier the HMS Ark Royal, which I took relative recently from the Spinnaker Tower. (Perhaps to symbolise that I too would rather be sailing away...)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Aneurin Bevan and the use of armed force.

A couple of weeks ago The Guardian published, as a daily supplement, a series of speeches under the heading of 'Great Speeches of the 20th Century.' The speeches ranged from Winston Churchill to Nikita Khrushchev. I found it interesting to read the speeches but also the introductions written by individuals, such as F.W. de Klerk and Mikhail Gorbachev, who themselves are well known and influential.

One speech caught my attention, even though I thought is was one of the lesser well written: Aneurin Bevan's speech in the House of Commons Dec 5, 1956 criticising the British (and French) government for militarily intervening in Suez and Sinai.

Bevan, a Labour MP, criticised the Conservative government not just for the military intervention but also the changing reasons given for the intervention. Bevan thus said: really is desirable that when a nation makes war upon another nation it should be quite clear why it does so. It should not keep changing the reasons as time goes on.

There is, in fact, no correspondence whatsoever between the reasons given today and the reasons set out by the Prime Minister at the beginning.
Bevan then went on to critise the use of armed force to attain the "civil, social and political objectives" of a modern society, and stated:
"The social furniture of modern society is so complicated and fragile that it cannot support the jackboot. We cannot run the processes of modern society by attempting to impose our will upon nations by armed force. If we have not learned that we have learned nothing. Therefore, from our point of view here, whatever may have been the morality of the Government's action - and about that there is no doubt - there is no doubt about its imbecility. There is not the slightest shadow of doubt that we have attempted to use methods which were bound to destroy the objectives we had, and, of course, this is what we have discovered."
This is Bevan's strongest argument and one that should be used against Tony Blair and George Bush who, like the British and French governments in 1956, have used methods in their 'war on terrorism' that were bound to destroy the objectives.

For a full transcrip of Bevans speech see here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Neurologist Visit.

Last Tuesday I had another consultation with my neurologist.

The news was good (actually the neurologists haven't discovered anything new in my case, which is kind of good).

What my neurologist knows is that I have a motor neuron problem in my right leg, leading to denervation, twitching and muscle loss. The tests show no evidence of trapped nerves or autoimmune diseases. However, there is no significant muscle weakness or spread to muscles in other parts of the body, making my neurologist consider Motor Neuron Disease (also called Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS) to be an unlikely cause of the problem.

I am, however, being referred to a Motor Neuron Disease specialist at Oxford University, who has special expertise in motor neuron problems confined to one limb.

I must admidt that being an unusual case and of particular interest to specialists gives me an odd (and somewhat disturbing) feeling of satisfaction!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

CCTV and SpyBlog.

On Tuesday I drove out to my in-laws to watch a BBC programme on surveillance cameras (CCTV). It was a very disappointing experience.

The programme was one hour of pro-CCTV propaganda (and I don't use the word propaganda lightly!). The programme was billed as a documentary but never engaged seriously or critically with the information presented. Neither academic researchers nor critics of the extensive use of CCTV were given much time or voice on the programme, nor did the programme present any empirical evidence of CCTV's effect on crime and anti-social behaviour. Instead we were presented with anecdotal evidence, in the form of CCTV footage and tales of solved crimes, to back up police claims to the effectiveness and necessity of CCTV.

For a more detailed analysis of the programme and the way CCTV is presented in the media see this article on

What future?

I hate the lies, but I just can't stop. I guess its a vain attempt to maintain a facade or some kind of self respect, but for every every lie I hate myself a little more.

So here's the truth: I do not have any plans for the future. I have no idea what I will be doing when I finish my exams in less than a months time and neither do I particularly care.

I know such thinking is shocking to most people and so I lie. When I, for example, told the truth to my Neurologist he said: "You most have applied for some jobs?" So I went back to the telling lies: "Yes, I'm hoping to do find some para-legal work." I said this even though I don't actually know what 'para-legal work' means!

I am so tired of telling people what I think they want to hear. The problem is that I've been lying so long I don't know anymore what I would like to do or what is realistically possible.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Wrong Kind of Foreigner.

Up until now I haven't expected much from Gordon Brown when he takes over the leadership of Labour. While it will be great to be rid of Tony Blair and 'the cult of the individual' that followed with him, Gordon Brown seemed to represent the same authoritarian wing of Labour as Tony Blair did.

However, Gordon Brown's idea of a constitutional convention with the aim of establishing a written constitution is the best I've ever heard from a British politician (for more on Gordon Browns leadership vision see here). I could still be disappointed as it is not clear whether Gordon Brown understands that the essential elements of a written constitution are its enactment throught direct election and its function of limiting of the power of Parliament.

The thought of a social democratic Labour Party motivated by ideas and not empty rhetoric makes me wish I could be involved in British politics. I am, however, not a British subject and cannot vote and cannot be a member of Labour.

Britain does grant full citizen and voting rights to some foreigners, as any citizen of Eire (the Irish Republic) can vote in Parliamentary elections in Britain. Why Britain extends this right to people from a republic that is proud to be independent from Britain is beyond me and seems quite patronizing as well as discriminatory. I guess I am, in the eyes of the British, the wrong kind of foreigner!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Are you now or have you ever been...

...a member of the British National Party?"

McCarthyism in Britain? Well not quite, but according to this Guardian article, the British Police has a policy of banning BNP members.

Not only will the police fire any officer found to be a member of BNP, they are also using CCTV to investigate allegations of BNP membership. In short the Police is using CCTV to find evidence of legal political activity to impose sanctions against some of its members!

The BNP is a far-right party whose policies I oppose. It is nevertheless a legal political party registered with the electoral commission.

If police officers have broken the law, e.g. engaged in rioting or broken Britain's Race Equality Laws, then the police would have legitimate grounds for firing the such officers. However, a free and democratic society will not discriminate, or deprive individuals of their right to work, on the basis of legal political activity.

New Alliance

Until I left Denmark in 2004 I was a member of the Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre). I am more of a social democrat at heart than a social liberal, but the Social Liberals and the socialist parties were the only ones speaking up for civil liberties and against racism.

I left the party because Denmark does not allow its citizens living abroad to vote and it diden't seem to make much sense being a member of a party I couldn't be active in.

Yesterday two prominent Social Liberals, Naser Khader and Anders Sammulsen, and one Conservative politician, Gitte Seeberg, broke away from their parties and formed a new party the New Alliance. The new party seems to be more about gaining political influence than ideology, although it could be an attempt to form a new Conservative Party without the xenophobia.

All I know is that once again the left and centre-left has split and weakened itself. Look out for more right wing domination of Danish politics.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dershowitz, The Trial of Jesus and Biblical Exegesis.

This is a blog entry I posted yesterday on Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz has some arguably controversial views on the use of torture and the state of Israel. He has nonetheless written an interesting comment on the trial of Jesus in his book America on Trial, Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation (New York, Warner Books, 2004).

In the first chapter Dershowitz describes how the Bible was used as a source of inspiration in the development of American law. Particularly references to the trial of Jesus have abounded in American legal history. Commenting on Jesus’ trial Dershowitz states that “[t]he relationship between the Jewish and Roman authorities, and their relative responsibility for the conviction and crucifixion of Jesus, is among the least trustworthy and most conflicting aspects of the Gospels.”

Dershowitz emphasizes that although the substantive laws of the Bible made certain kinds of religious heresy punishable by death, it also had a variety of safeguards that made it nearly impossible to execute anyone. Roman law, however, had looser standards of proof, especially towards non-Romans, and it is therefore not surprising that Jews wanting to get rid of a religious troublemaker would turn him in to the Roman authorities. Dershowitz then argues that the Gospel accounts are more favourable to the Romans than to the Jews, due to Christian expansion into the Roman world.

In his analysis Dershowitz is aligning himself with a long line of critical biblical scholars who see aspects of the Gospels, in particular the Gospel of John, as a result of anti-Jewish sentiment by 1st and 2nd century Christians.

While the critique from Dershowitz and critical scholars is valuable in forcing Christians to re-evaluating their understanding of Bible, their analysis seems to make the mistake of imposing later religious thinking onto the Gospels. Although Christians have used the Gospels to fan anti-Jewish sentiment, critics should be careful not to attribute such sentiment to the Gospel writers.

The critical approach should also serve as a reminder for Christians not to impose supervening exegesis onto the Biblical texts. The classic example of how such exegesis gets it wrong, is the interpretation of the statement in Matthew 1:22 that Jesus' birth fulfills Isaiah 7:14. Christianity has traditionally understood this text as a prophetic foretelling of the nature of Jesus birth, i.e. birth by a virgin. The writer of Matthew, however, is not emphasizing Mary’s unmarried status, but is making the point that just as the birth of a boy by a young woman was a sign of deliverance to King Ahaz, the birth of Jesus is the ultimate sign of deliverance. Jesus, Matthew writes, will therefore be called Immanuel by his people because he will save them from their sins (see Math. 1.21-23).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Final Lecture

That's it! I've just had the final lecture of my Law degree.

The lecture was on Equity and Trust, more specifically about the similarities and differences of a Common Intention Constructive Trust and Equitable Estopppel. Yes, it was just as exciting as its sounds. (Actually the lecturer explained it beautifully made it all sound so simple.)

Now I just need to remember it all for my exams in 4 weeks time. Unfortunately at this point in time I'm not as confident about passing as I should be. :-(