Archive for category General

Lest we forget – Ishinomaki – Black Water

A short documentary film about Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture one of the hardest hit areas of the 11th March 2011 tsunami.

This documentary deals with the city, the people and relief efforts completed by individuals living in Tokyo to send relief supplies to a center for disabled people in Ishinomaki.

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Now back on Twitter

If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em.

So I have rejoined under a new name: @AmpersUK is the new monicker!


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A g-g-g-g-reat f-f-f-f-f-ilm

I was dragged away from my keyboard this evening by my beloved wife as she wanted an escort to go with her to the cinema. “Wait for it to come on television” I moaned, but to deaf ears so 4:15pm saw me seated in the Phoenix Cinema in Finchley, one of the oldest in England, to see her beloved Colin Firth in “The King’s speech”.

I hope Pam doesn’t read this as I have to admit, I am really glad I went. It was an excellent film with Colin Firth portraying the Duke of York (before he became George V1) excellently and Helen Bonham Carter was gorgeous as Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother).

Geoffrey Rush, who played the speech therapist, an Australian, Lionel Logue, was really good, extremely humorous, and their relationship continued until Berties death. Bertie made Logue a Member of the Victorian Order, and later a Commander of the Victorian Order. (Thanks to Wikipedia for general information on Lionel Logue.)

Firth is winning a lot of awards for his part in the film, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance. And isn’t Helen Bonham Carter in a lot of films lately – she is really blossoming out as an actress.


Public Service Announcement

The following came to me as editor of our local community newspaper, and although it is not something we publish, I thought it deserved a wide airing

Fear of driving

An increasing number of people are afraid on our roads. MAD- or motorway Anxiety disorder affects millions of drivers- mainly women, but over 12 per cent of the general population admit to ‘extremely anxious’ symptoms when driving.. including excessive sweating, headaches and stomach pains.

The highest levels of anxiety can be found in younger and older female drivers…with not surprisingly, the lowest being in male professional drivers.

There are many causes of driving anxiety, from witnessing or being in an accident, to an unexplained panic attack. The latter can be the most insidious. Pat reports how she had a panic attack on the M24 – a road she knew well. Now the fear it may happen again has stayed with her, so she now avoids driving. She’s in a vicious circle of avoidant behavior which will just make her feel even more incapable- and dangerous on the road.

Lack of practice often undermines a drivers confidence. After recovering from a long term illness, Alf found that his belief in his ability to judge speed and distance was badly affected. Only when he went for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy did he unpack the sense of his own mortality and the fear his illness had left him with.

An independent television production company called Matchlight (whose team have been responsible for productions like Stephen Fry’s series on manic depression and the recent John Humphry’s documentary on education)  are tackling this issue in conjunction with the Automobile Association. In a major new series they are going to be exploring how people lose their confidence, and follow the stories of those battling to get back behind the wheel.  It’s not just going to be about phobias- there are many reasons for being out of practice and losing confidence- being ill, not having been able to afford a car, a spell in prison, having been abroad for a long time are only a few reasons.

If you are one of the many drivers in the country getting more afraid of driving and you would like to talk about taking part, call the development producer Anne Buckland at 0141 332 0319 or e-mail her before 20th November 2010.

Personally, I am of the opinion that many drivers need extra training and as Tesco keeps telling me, “every little helps”.


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Linda Norgrove

No wonder this Highland girl was a caring loving soul, I have just watched her parents talking for the first time and their position is what I would expect from these hardy islanders. Mature and thoughtful.

I cannot say the same for the uncaring thoughtless Police in Lewis in the Western Isles. When word came though of her death they immediately went to inform the parents.

At three o’clock in the fucking morning!

Most readers know I rarely swear on my blog but there are times when one just needs to vent their real anger at the stupidly of some people.

The early hours of the morning is when sleep is deepest, and being woken up leaves the sleeper vulnerable.

For God’s sake, that’s when you go to arrest villains!



An essay by Ayn Rand

I stumbled across this website where the blogger had managed to find an “out of print” copy of Ayn Rand’s first  essay which appeared in print, in Readers Digest in 1944, and thought it well worth repeating here.

If you haven’t heard of Ayn Rand, a Russian who emigrated to the USA, her history makes interesting reading om Wikipedia. However, her life story is rather sad at the end.

Pam (my wife) has just read her mammoth work of fiction Atlas Shrugged, over a thousand pages, which she borrowed from the library. On the strength of her interest and absorption in the book, I am just about to buy the Kindle version to read when travelling on the underground.

Without further ado, here is her essay.

The Only Path to Tomorrow
by Ayn Rand

The greatest threat to mankind and civilization is the spread of the totalitarian philosophy. Its best ally is not the devotion of its followers but the confusion of its enemies. To fight it, we must understand it.

Totalitarianism is collectivism. Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group – whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called “the common good.”

Throughout history no tyrant ever rose to power except on the claim of representing “the common good.” Napoleon “served the common good” of France. Hitler is “serving the common good” of Germany. Horrors which no man would dare consider for his own selfish sake are perpetrated with a clear conscience by “altruists” who justify themselves by – the common good.

No tyrant has ever lasted long by force of arms alone. Men have been enslaved primarily by spiritual weapons. And the greatest of these is the collectivist doctrine that the supremacy of the state over the individual constitutes the common good. No dictator could rise if men held as a sacred faith the conviction that they have inalienable rights of which they cannot be deprived for any cause whatsoever, by any man whatsoever, neither by evildoer nor supposed benefactor.

This is the basic tenet of individualism, as opposed to collectivism. Individualism holds that man is an independent entity with an inalienable right to the pursuit of his own happiness in a society where men deal with one another as equals.

The American system is founded on individualism. If it is to survive, we must understand the principles of individualism and hold them as our standard in any public question, in every issue we face. We must have a positive credo, a clear, consistent faith.

We must learn to reject as total evil the conception that the common good is served by the abolition of individual rights. General happiness cannot be created out of general suffering and self-immolation. The only happy society is one of happy individuals. One cannot have a healthy forest made up of rotten trees.

The power of society must always be limited by the basic, inalienable rights of the individual.

The right of liberty means man’s right to individual action, individual initiative and individual property. Without the right to private property no independent action is possible.

The right to the pursuit of happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own, private, personal happiness and to work for its achievement. Each individual is the sole and final judge in this choice. A man’s happiness cannot be prescribed to him by another man or by any number of other men.

These rights are the unconditional, personal, private, individual possession of every man, granted to him by the fact of his birth and requiring no other sanction. Such was the conception of the founders of our country, who placed individual rights above any and all collective claims. Society can be only a traffic policeman in the intercourse of men with one another.

From the beginning of history, two antagonists have stood face to face, two opposite types of men: the Active and the Passive. The Active Man is the producer, the creator, the originator, the individualist. His basic need is independence – in order to think and work. He neither needs nor seeks power over other men – nor can he be made to work under any form of compulsion. Every type of good work – from laying bricks to writing a symphony – is done by the Active Man. Degrees of human ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence and initiative determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man.

The Passive Man is found on every level of society, in mansions and in slums, and his identification mark is his dread of independence. He is a parasite who expects to be taken care of by others, who wishes to be given directives, to obey, to submit, to be regulated, to be told. He welcomes collectivism, which eliminates any chance that he might have to think or act on his own initiative.

When a society is based on the needs of the Passive Man it destroys the Active; but when the Active is destroyed, the passive can no longer be cared for. When a society is based on the needs of the Active Man, he carries the Passive ones along on his energy and raises them as he rises, as the whole society rises. This has been the pattern of all human progress.

Some humanitarians demand a collective state because of their pity for the incompetent or Passive Man. For his sake they wish to harness the Active. But the Active Man cannot function in harness. And once he is destroyed, the destruction of the Passive Man follows automatically. So if pity is the humanitarians’ first consideration, then in the name of pity, if nothing else, they should leave the Active Man free to function, in order to help the Passive. There is no other way to help him in the long run.

The history of mankind is the history of the struggle between the Active Man and the Passive, between the individual and the collective. The countries which have produced the happiest men, the highest standards of living and the greatest cultural advances have been the countries where the power of the collective – of the government, of the state – was limited and the individual was given freedom of independent action. As examples: The rise of Rome, with its conception of law based on a citizen’s rights, over the collectivist barbarism of its time. The rise of England, with a system of government based on the Magna Carta, over collectivist, totalitarian Spain. The rise of the United States to a degree of achievement unequaled in history – by grace of the individual freedom and independence which our Constitution gave each citizen against the collective.

While men are still pondering upon the causes of the rise and fall of civilizations, every page of history cries to us that there is but one source of progress: Individual Man in independent action. Collectivism is the ancient principle of savagery. A savage’s whole existence is ruled by the leaders of the tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

We are now facing a choice: to go forward or to go back.

Collectivism is not the “New Order of Tomorrow.” It is the order of a very dark yesterday. But there is a New Order of Tomorrow. It belongs to Individual Man – the only creator of any tomorrows humanity has ever been granted.



Although I am not a conservative and could never vote for any party other than the one I align myself to, I have read this article in the Daily Telegraph and have a lot more respect for a London Politician.


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