No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Nelson Mandela 1918-2013
A remarkable, inspirational life well lived.
Rest In Peace.
There are some who said that the world would end today. Why some folk believed this is pretty definitely defined (see below), although nobody seems to be able to agree on just how these end-times were supposed to pan out. Suggestions range from a planetary collision or a run-in with a black hole to some sort of reversal of the earth’s polar axis – or even a zombie apocalypse (I’ll be in the pub if that ever happens…).
These eschatological theories had been circulating online for quite a while, and I was curious as to exactly what they were all about and where they had come from. Predictions giving a precise date for the end of the world are not uncommon even now (anyone remember Harold Camping‘s insistence that the apocalypse was due in 2011?) – and, in fact, there is a long list of such predictions going back almost a millennium.
So what is it that made the 2012 phenomenon different and so widespread? The existence of the internet has certainly helped disseminate these theories far and wide, but as with so many other things what has been said online is not always strictly accurate, and these end-times theories are no different in that respect.
What can be said for certain is that, ultimately, it all comes down to the intriguingly-named Mesoamerican long-count calendar (see here for an explanation of how this type of calendar works), which was widely used in Central America prior to the violent arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century.
I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one.
These are the words of Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old Pakistani schoolgirl who was, horrifically, shot in the head on her way to school last week. Why? Simply because this brave young woman is an outspoken advocate of education for girls – in a part of Pakistan where the Taliban have closed all girls’ schools and forbidden their education.
As I read Malala’s remarkable blog posts (originally published by the BBC – at the age of 11 – under a pseudonym for her own safety), it really brings it home to me how lucky I am, and how much I, as a woman, still take for granted about acquiring knowledge and educating myself. I may not have enjoyed school for a variety of reasons, but at least I had the opportunity of a formal education – and the freedom of choice to decide what to do with it afterwards. Yet there are so many the world over who still do not have these chances.
I have every admiration for Malala; admiration for her strength and her commitment to what she believes in, despite the obvious danger she has faced as a result. This young woman should be just beginning to really live her life, should be enjoying her education and her teenage years – she should not be lying in a hospital bed, fighting for her life because of the actions of a group of people who can’t see beyond their own twisted beliefs.
I wish you well, Malala – you are a strong, brave soul and I hope you pull through to get the education you so passionately desire.
Here’s a bit of fun.
WordPress have recently introduced country stats, which means I can finally be nosy and find out where all my visitors are from. The stats go back approximately a month, and, in my case, contain some rather interesting information…
Unsurprisingly for a British-based blog, the vast majority of my readers during that period hail from the United Kingdom, with the United States and Canada lagging a long way behind in second and third.
I also seem to get a lot of European visitors – in fact, during the period covered by the stats, readers from twenty one of the twenty seven European Union member states popped by (I’m only missing hits from Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia, so if you know anyone in any of those countries, send them a link to Another Kind Of Mind NOW!).
But I also get hits from some slightly more exotic, far-flung and, frankly, often unexpected places, including Argentina, Mexico, the Netherland Antilles (where’s that?), Bermuda, Mongolia (wow), Paraguay, Vietnam, Morocco, Japan, Tunisia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.
I’d had no idea that Another Kind Of Mind had such an international reach – thank you to all of you, wherever you are, for your visits!
Today is International Women’s Day, which celebrates the lives and achievements of women around the world. So today – and every day – I am celebrating all the amazing, inspiring and wonderful women in my life. Women I know and love. Women who have an impact on my life every day of every week of every year.
I am celebrating my strong and determined mother.
I am celebrating my talented, witty and intelligent sister.
I am celebrating my younger female friends, who approach living with an awe-inspiring passion, joy and strength.
I am celebrating my older female friends, some of whom may be retired but who most certainly are not retiring in their zest for life.
I am celebrating all the female artists, writers, poets, film-makers, musicians and DJs I know – all of whom fill my life with art and music and inspiration.
On the evening of Thursday 17th November, thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched across the city to the Brooklyn Bridge. At the bridge, and to their delight, they saw that some very clever individuals were projecting this message, ‘bat-signal’ style, onto a nearby office block:
99% / MIC CHECK! / LOOK AROUND / YOU ARE A PART / OF A GLOBAL UPRISING / WE ARE A CRY / FROM THE HEART / OF THE WORLD / WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE / ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE / HAPPY BIRTHDAY / #OCCUPY MOVEMENT / OCCUPY WALL STREET / … / OCCUPY EARTH / WE ARE WINNING / IT IS THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING / DO NOT BE AFRAID / LOVE.
The man who put all this together was 45-year-old Mark Read, who later told the website Boing Boing how much he has been inspired by the Occupy Movement:
I feel immense gratitude to these youngsters for kicking my ass into gear. I’m feeling so much gratitude to everyone, for putting their bodies on the line every day, for this movement. It’s a global uprising we’re part of. We have to win.
Call it street harassment, call it eve teasing, call it public sexual harassment – call it what you want, but it is a huge (and hugely under-reported) daily problem for a frightening number of women from all around the world.
And street harassment has an impact on all women. It doesn’t matter how a woman is dressed, what she looks like or how old she is; women of all ages, all ethnicities and all backgrounds have experienced street harassment of one form or another, often repeatedly, day in and day out. The continuous bombardment of what is a disturbing form of aggressively sexual objectification can (and often does) ultimately result in physical and/or sexual assaults on women.
Aside from the obvious trauma such assaults cause, street harassment can also lead to psychological harm to women, making them nervous, wary and hypervigilant in public spaces, especially after dark – and, particularly in the cases of women who are survivors of rape, abuse or domestic violence, it can trigger upsetting and difficult PTSD-type symptoms such as flashbacks and panic attacks.
It was just after 1am on February 27th 2008. I was still up and at my computer when I heard what sounded like a loud crash. My first thought was that my noisy downstairs neighbours were playing silly buggers again, but then everything started to shake. The earthquake – for that was indeed what it was – only lasted a few seconds, but it was strong enough to make its impact felt in large parts of the UK.
At a magnitude of 5.2, the earthquake I and many others felt that night, although deeply disconcerting, was absolutely nothing compared to the massive quakes experienced in recent months and years by countries as diverse as Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, and now Japan (in fact, some of the many and continuing aftershocks that have resulted from Friday’s terrible Japanese quake have been significantly more powerful than that).
As a demonstration of the enormous and unstoppable power of nature, the sheer destructive force of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday was truly awesome (in the original sense of that word) – and, scientifically, as it reached a magnitude of 9.0, it was also one of the most powerful recorded quakes of the last 100 years or so.
The results of this powerful earthquake have been devastating, even in a country as well-prepared for and as used to earthquakes as Japan. Many settlements on the affected coastline have been swept away by tsunami waves up to ten metres high, and a number of the country’s network of nuclear power stations have been seriously (possibly catastrophically) damaged by the quake.
March is both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Month, which includes the marking of International Women’s Day on March 8th. In particular, as a history graduate and a feminist the former appeals to me greatly, and I decided to dig out a blog post I wrote way back in May 2007 (on the subject of one of my historical heroines) in honour of the occasion. Almost three years on, it naturally needed a little dusting off, a little editing and a few slight re-writes in places (and it’s also a little long) – but I hope you are as fascinated by the story of Noor Inayat Khan as I am.
“Nothing, neither her nationality, nor the traditions of her family, none of these obliged her to take her position in the war. However she chose it. It is our fight that she chose, that she pursued with an admirable, an invincible courage” - Madame de Gaulle-Anthonioz at the memorial service for Noor Inayat Khan.
The memory of Noor Inayat Khan is, in the main, ignored in this country; unlike in France, where she is justly considered a heroine - ’Madeleine dans la Resistance‘. But who was this girl with the pretty, exotic name, who is so revered by the French? And why should we care about her today?
We should care because this woman did something amazing, something most modern women (and men) would probably find almost impossible – considering our pampered 21st century lives.
Oh Thierry Henry, what did you have to go and do that for? You, of all people. Despite being a life-long Spurs supporter, I have always been a great fan of yours; you were one of those rare and special footballers it was always such a pleasure to watch, no matter which team you played for. One of those players who, despite all the greed and arrogance in modern football, made me remember why I fell in love with the Beautiful Game in the first place.
But then, in a crucial World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland last week, you did a Maradona, and the poor old Republic unfairly went crashing out after neither referee nor linesmen spotted your blatant handball. And blatant it was too. Quite ridiculously so. You even compounded the offence with your comments after the game: “It was necessary to exploit what was exploitable”, you said, as if that somehow justified what was, without question, cheating. How could you?
However, Henry’s out-of-character double handball is not the first instance of blatant cheating in sport this year. In some cases, this cheating has just been childishly sad, as with the deliberate F1 crashes, while in others it has veered towards out-and-out fraud, as with the outrageous and notorious Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ incident (and what with Quins being the rugby union side I support, this scandal made me particularly angry), and the recent Champions League match fixing arrests.
It is difficult to know how to remedy such examples of dishonesty, because if sportsmen and women – as with pretty much anyone else in any walk of life, unfortunately – think that there is the slightest possibility they might get away with it, they’ll try to do just that.