Choosing not to See

I watched a very thought provoking episode of ‘Breaking the Set’ on RT last night. Margaret Heffernan, the author of the recently published book ‘Wilful Blindness’ was interviewed and some very interesting points were covered, which, as a psychologist I find profoundly important.

“Feeding peoples’ established biases and prejudice’s” (9:55)

I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we live in a climate today where for many, opinions are all too shallow. Heffernan described the press to use nothing more than polarised prejudices to rope people in to a very artificial form of debate. I support this statement and I believe that the angry mob who read the headlines either do not think beyond what political ideology is being chased, or they consider it in terms of ‘hunches’ and how it relates to themselves.

People Don’t Think

So many end up tranquilised by the emotive or political talk used by the biased media, however a second key argument that was made in this interview was that the free markets do not always ensure the best will reach the top. The assumption that natural selection will root out the crooks and the bad eggs just doesn’t work. Social psychology tells us why.

When hierarchy ensues, conformity magnifies. That that magnification of conformity takes place means really, the valuable critical thinking and expression of caution are lost. A study by New York University suggests up to 85% of senior executives in large businesses (see interview – 4:47) admit to have withheld expression of critical thought at least once.

Now if that takes place in all our competition regulated businesses and services, that is, our schools, industries, hospitals, military outfits and above all, governments, it need be no surprise that corruption is rife and inequality is at large. This is because often enough we don’t think, and when we do think, we don’t express that thought.

And that might be the solution to many of today’s challenges: getting everybody to think a whole lot more. It is important for people to critique the rationale of opinions and policy in depth, disregarding left and right political swings. Considering each argument upon its merit across social, economic and above all moral dimensions. With improved rational thinking people could more effectively hold politicians to account, or bring about more responsible business practise. People could recognise that educational policy should be based on what we know about how the brain learns, instead of instead of conformity and league table climbing.

A genuinely free market would be better than the current corporatocracy, however if we properly used our heads (and I mean properly), we could achieve a whole lot better than allowing a phenomena to administer our society.

Trolley Busses; and how the Neo-feudal State may look

I listened with interest to Max Keiser’s prediction last week that with the continued privatisation and outsourcing to other countries, we could become a neo-feudal state (i.e. tenants in our own land). Hold that thought, because I’m now going to talk about trolley busses.

The Leeds Trolley Bus; Photo Credit: The Electric TBus Group

The Leeds Trolley Bus; Photo Credit:

I am excited about the new trolley bus idea being proposed for Leeds. I think it is a good move towards sustainable transport in the city. Yes it is quiet, but the most environmentally advantageous component of it is that electricity is more efficient than internal combustion engines, and removing batteries cuts another area of waste.

What I find particularly exciting is the idea of ‘trolley lorries’, and the idea of electrifying a lane of the motorway for intercity person and freight transport. If they build that then we can power much of our economy off solar, wind, hydroelectric or nuclear power. The energy is renewable, whether or not it’s cheap.

The Trolley Lorry Concept; Photo Credit:

The Trolley Lorry Concept; Photo Credit:

Now, back to neo-feudalism. Recently, the chancellor George Osborne agreed a deal with EDF (the french state owned electricity company), which involved chinese investment to produce nuclear power in Britain. The reason why we’re now calling upon other countries to do this is because we’ve run out of investors to do it ourselves (selling power is kind of a liability, hence why Osborne had to gaurentee a very high rate of return to EDF). But with nuclear, there is enough fuel to power the world, we’re not going to run out of power and find the lights go out, the supermarkets run empty and we all start starving. We’re just going to have to start doing business on the terms of the people who have enough money to invest in us and feed us.

It’s in other nations interests for us to have some spare income. If we can spend on travel, electronic equipment, housing and all other commodities, someone, somewhere can make some money. For that investment to yield we need transportation systems in place, infrastructure, and also electricity. The capitol would be held elseware, and by and large we would work and rent. There’s plenty of investors in some place, somewhere, that can put idle bodies to work.

So, developments like trolley busses, or trolley lorries need to happen, and will do regardless of if we pay for them or someone else does. If we loose ownership of our capitol goods (which is happening), people will still eat, drink, work, travel and socialise. Even people without a lot of wealth can do these things now, because the price is set so that they can do that. One man’s holiday is another man’s livelihood.

When I Graduate, I’m Buying a Fiat

Alpha KeysThis weekend my sister got married, which means I got the special job of chauffeuring the brides maids. In taking on that job, I got to realize one of my life’s ambitions: to drive dad’s Alpha Romeo.

Across the weekend, I made two drives to church, as well as to the reception in Rogerthorpe and the Temple in Chorley.

From the experience I made two observations: 1) fast cars are significantly restricted in residential areas, and 2) fast cars are severely restricted on the motorway.

When driving from my home to church I crossed three 20mph zones, half a mile of ring road and a billion mini-roundabouts. In a car designed to reach 130mph this meant I seldom left second gear, or touched the accelerator. With minimal speeding up to do, there wasn’t much slowing down to do either. All in all, the GT carried me in supreme comfort with all the kicks of driving round the supermarket car park.

What about the motorways?

It’s a bigger car, and has less room to look round, so after carefully navigating Leeds city centre, and then patronising the new managed motorway at 50mph, I got to the open road. I put it into sixth gear and that was it. 2,500rpm the rest of the way. My elegant carriage succeeded entirely in mediating the feedback of the road into a nothing.

After it all, I got back into my old dented up Rover, reopened to the entire spectrum of its performance, with all the feedback of the road and with enough room to drive with feeling. And it leads me to consider: maybe my Italian stallion should be a Fiat, not a Ferrari.

What Is Your Legacy

When I were a lad,
I’d hear my old Dad,
He’d say
“These cars all look’t same.”

When the students are out,
they drink and they shout,
will you stand out?
What is your legacy?

In this new modern age
of minimum wage
Now we’re all the same
will you up your game?
What will you stand for?
What is your legacy?

What was the bully’s tag line in school?
“You make me look bad, I’ll make you the fool”
Now when you work hard while I relax,
I’ll still get one up, we’ll call it a tax.

Now people seldom write poetry about money,
It’s usually about a cat, or a violin, or a bunny.
Because money is not the thing that matters,
it’s actually just left the world in tatters.

You don’t need to be rich, or vested academically
or in a famous band, or well trained up medically.
In case you hadn’t heard we live in a society,
where too many think that legacy means piety.
It’s no wonder the world is under commotion
when half of society sucks on that potion.

He’s woolly
She’s eccentric
They’re biggots
they say…

They’re misfits,
left wingers
who smoke weed all day.

There’s not an organization in this world that couldn’t use creativity,
except for the Church, as it’s lead by divinity.
And just like a muscle needs activities that stretch,
by the same token, our character is etched.

Brunel wasn’t mediocre, inventing industry,
it wasn’t a toff in his drawing room who invented TV
And when we say leaving the middle ground is a danger
Margret Thatcher definitely did not die a stranger.

Nobody is excused from this course of improvement
we depend in it for civilizations on-upward movement.
Whatever you do, just please do it well,
lest our society rot in a quite average hell.
The nature of life is it’s not always fair
but keep scrambling up, and I know you’ll get there.

By Christopher Barker

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Make your own Memes Christmas

So this Christmas was your typical ordinary Christmas. Well actually, it was quite exceptional. Amongst other things, I discovered the make a meme app, and had all too much fun.

I am a poor student, and heating is all too expensive.

We got presents, this wasn’t mine, of course.

My sister made a special announcement…

I had an unfortunate impact with a truck, it wasn’t terminal though.

And I met my duties at work, amused by creative labeling of certain products…

All in all, it was a good Christmas, and I’m excited to hit the new year.

Real American Hero’s

Real American HeroesWho’s seen the ‘Bug Light’ radio ads? The one where they raise a tribute to a hilarious American stereotype? Such as ‘Mr Way Too Proud of Texas Guy’ or ‘Mr Gasoline Barbeque Starter’. Well, I have written my own! And it is as follows (Note: it would sure be easier to understand this with an LDS background):

This is to YOU!

Mr 45-minute church sermon giver.

You don’t need the Gift of the Holy Ghost to know that this week, everybody needs to hear about food storage!

Whether it be soaring grocery prices,

instability in the middle east,

or predictions of the rapture…

You have 1000 reasons, not to mention the real one:

because a modern revelation said so.

Your tips and tricks teach us how to drink contaminated water,

how to cook your own rabbit,

and most importantly how to keep the mice off your oh-so-important stash…

So crack open a fresh bud light, oh sultan of the sultana!

And then go pour it away,

because Mormon’s don’t drink, do they..?

If that has ticked your taste-buds as to why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are serious about self-reliance and emergency preparedness, you might want to try zapping over to

I'm a Mormon.

Get Yoursen Back In That Caravan

This week we had the pleasure of going on a new type of holiday, namely staying in a holiday home. We got rid of our caravan in an attempt to set out on a morning not already dampened in more ways than one.

So we began our trip by travelling down, purchasing food and getting settled in. The next morning we arose, had breakfast, showered and, well… That was it! It was 9:30 and we were ready to go. So we did, and we set out to climb Snowdon. Now in the league of lame excuses, we only made it half way up, because we had young children, but by the time we got back to the car it was 2:30, and we were still 3 hours off dinner time. So we ended up going and looking around shops and driving around the countryside until an acceptable hour to eat. And after washing up, it was still wasn’t yet 7pm, so out we ventured again for a walk down the beach, and when we arrived back home again at 9:30, I was fit for nothing but to drop to sleep.

So what about the next day? Well we had the plan to and view a house on sale for future holidays. All seemed to be well, except that during recent weeks one of the neighbors had bricked over the gate, in an attempt to try and claim the rear access for their own. We went to investigate, and found her threatening us with court and shouting at us for being tourists if we dared mention the idea of taking it down. We then went for a few more walks, around here, there and everywhere, and by 4pm, I was once again ready for bed.

So what is to be drawn from this?

Caravanning is a special experience, like a snail you get to carry your home (which is barely big enough for you), behind you, and you get to congregate with other like-minded families in a wet field. It sounds miserable, but actually, the joy is in the journey. If you go for all the luxuries then quickly there’s nothing left to do. Showering, cooking and washing up in the caravan are a sacred experience. Gathering everything together, marching to the facilities block, waiting till the last person is finished, and then washing, drying and carefully restacking, it takes forever, but it adds colour to the adventure.

And while you’re at it, you can talk to the next man about anything! What caravan have you brought? How long have you had it? What’s it like? What do you tow it with? Isn’t diesel expensive now? The traffic on the M5 yesterday was chronic wasn’t it? When you go in a holiday home you end up exhausted and verbally abused!

I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to live in an absolutely trouble free world. The answer is it’s boring! Give me some cold, rain and a few spiders and I’ll be just fine.