A strong leader stands in an un-drained swamp.
“It’s so easy to laugh,
It’s so easy to hate,
It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
Lyrics by Morrissey to ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths
A recent survey carried out by the newspaper La Repubblica found that 80% of Italians think the country needs to be run by “un uomo forte” (a strong man). In 2006, only 55% of the populace subscribed to this view while 60% held this belief in 2010.
This rising trend is worrying and depressing on many counts. It indicates that more and more voters are willing to be represented by leaders solely on the basis that they adopt strong opinions and maintain a posture of decisiveness.
On the surface this may seem logical and uncontroversial. After all, who would want a leader to be weak and indecisive? The problem lies with what exactly is meant by the word ‘strong’. Continue reading
FORKS OVER KNIVES documentary film directed by Lee Fulkerson (USA, 2011)
There are three main reasons why I am a vegan :
1. I oppose the unnecessary and unjustifiable maltreatment and slaughter of animals.
2. I believe that the intense factory farming is slowly but surely destroying the planet.
3. I have personal experience of the health benefits which far outweigh the minor inconveniences and small sacrifices needed to maintain this diet.
I gain sustenance for my position from some excellent documentaries that make the case for veganism.
For the animal welfare issues, Earthlings (2005) sets out the arguments powerfully and compassionately.
The environmental effects are efficiently outlined in Cowspiracy (2014).
Forks Over Knives focuses on the health question centering primarily on the persuasive views of two eminent doctors – Caldwell Esselstyn and Colin Campbell. The former is a physician and heart surgeon while the latter is a nutritional biochemist. Both have spent a large part of their professional lives researching the links between diet and wellbeing. Continue reading
NEUROMANCER by William Gibson (1984)
I have a difficult relationship with this novel.
I know that it is one of the most groundbreaking and significant SF works ever written but each time I pick it up I always get lost in the dense prose and what hits me as an overwhelming rush of jargon.
As most will know, this was where the word ‘cyberspace’ was first popularized and for that alone Gibson is assured of immortality, at least until the wires of that feed the human race are permanently unplugged.
He brilliantly describes the then fledgling internet as a “consensual hallucination” and the lead character Case is paid to hack into “the infinite neuroelectric void of the matrix”. Continue reading
THE ART OF SEDUCTION by Robert Greene (Profile Books, 2001)
This is not overtly presented as a self-help book but it will mostly be consulted as one.
Although it contains some bleak truths about the human condition, American author Robert Greene takes to the cultural high ground in an attempt to make the salacious details more palatable.
He draws examples from literature, notably Les Liasons Dangereuses by Laclos, and from the amorous exploits of historical figures like Casanova and Don Juan who have all been immortalised in novels, plays, operas or movies.
Psychological mind games are ruthlessly advocated on the dubious basis that the ends justify the means. The object of one’s lust or desire is frequently described either as a “target” or as a “victim” with the ultimate goal being to lure, ensnare and manipulate. Continue reading