Category Archives: Pondering

The Beauty of Grace.

No this is not a religious based blog post. To the contrary I won’t even be dealing with a religious issue here at all. So why the use of the name you may ask? Well it’s just the name of the song that gave me the idea as all.

The song by Krystal Meyers explores the concept that bad memories and experiences could be forgiven but also more importantly forgotton. To me this poses a rather interesting question. I am sure we have all in moments wished we could take something back or wish that something did not happen but this poses a two fold issue.

Firstly is the issue of experience and personality. All our experiences collate together to form a great deal of our personality. Would these memories being erased lead to a situation where the end result would be creating a person that is different from the person wishing to forget the memory?

Secondly a more difficult issue and that is based on bitter-sweetness. Think back to a memory that is both hurtful but important to you. Would you really want to give it up to be free from the bitter part of that situation? It also feeds into the first as it is often these sorts of moments that cause personal reflection.

Now I pose this for a few reasons. One as a hypothetical but also in the knowledge that this might not always be a simple hypothetical situation. ( I do wonder how professional ethics will deal with these sorts of situations of course some are much more clear cut. But even terrible memories with no redemption can change us significantly.

Would you give any of that up?

Acceptable sadism

As humans we seem to have a tolerance for levels of ‘brutality’ while very few of us would enjoy to see real pain or real violence there is a wealth of ‘acted’ or ‘fantasy’ violence some quite brutal. I’ve been thinking about where and why we draw that line.

One example I was thinking about relates to heavy metal music. Which has been linked to some rather chilling acts committed by people such as the Columbine Massacre. Now while all of this has been refuted the fact it was even brought up interests me.

The genre lends itself to exploring the darker nature of human reality and this can be quite shocking to a mainstream listener. The following are the lyrics for the song Cream of the Crop by Cattle Decapitation to illustrate the point.

“Bleeding, weeping,
Coagulation sets in
A bolt in my head! The grisly aftermath of a life
Waiting for the carnage to come
I love the stench
Of my brothers, my sisters
Bloodsoaked and lifeless
Sinew, clots, cream of the crop
Bile, intestines
Scrap heap to be digested
This love never dies”

While this is clearly graphic I do wonder what separates this from things that are more acceptable. Game of Thrones? The Saw Films? Saving Pirate Ryan? Some content which can be as equally graphic at times is socially acceptable and some is not. I think this is simply based on popularity.

We are exposed to a lot of de-sensitising material on TV and this can happen from quite a small age. This of course has lines which tends not to be crossed but we also try and find justifications I feel. One example would be the brilliant anime dragonballZ in which good and bad guys are hurt quite bad and gore does exist. While gore can be justified for artistic reasons or realism I want to focus on the example shown on kids TV and while it is censored to a degree I can’t help but feel Freiza’s predicament is acceptable because he is an evil guy.

We don’t feel sorry for him therefore it is okay?

I also think something else is behind it. Metal music was attacked because it was different and while the likes of Rhianna are criticised for content such as in S&M it is not to the same degree and less blame is placed upon it. Video games have also fallen ill of this sort of issue in which because a person plays violent games there seems to be a link in a politicians head between this and actual violence. As if a mock acting of violence or watching it on TV is somehow very separate in our distinction between fact and fiction than a semi-gory computer game.  This is something that in time will become less of an issue as has the music issue simply the generation who lived with it no longer see it as the issue their parents did.

Still we seem to want to enjoy experiences that fulfil our inner desires to see others in painful or graphic situations. We also seem to enjoy to varying degrees different levels of what we consider acceptable violence or graphic content. We distinguish this based on media form as well as intensity regardless of the effects it actually has on us. (My research seems to hint at it being healthy, metal for example is relaxing acting from what I can work out as aggression without being aggressive.)

To conclude I do wonder why and how we draw the lines. This is different from the factual case for any argument that can be made about this sort of content and if something does shock us I do think that it is important to ask why.


Is immediate gratification worth it?

Instead of posting something a little more political I thought I would write about immediate verses delayed gratification. I am currently writing a short work of fiction which is almost at the end of it’s first draft. When it reaches the 4th (At which point it will go to proof readers) I intend to write a small part on this blog relating to one of the characters. I will also in a separate post in the ‘Over The Mountain’ tab talk very briefly about what the book is.

Now this is often heard in regards to education. You might have heard somebody say something along the lines of;

‘Leaving school early and going into a job tends to give more money than your struggling student friends but stick in and it’s worth it in the long run.’

This is of course a large simplification as other pleasures can be gained though education as can issues such as student debt.

For a delayed gratification to be workable it has to be worth it in the long run. A common example is you can have one chocolate now or wait an hour and have two. There is a pleasure to eating the chocolate right now which may be larger than having two. They could be massive and you could be very hungry for example. In short it has to ‘be worth it in the long run’.

But I want it now!

In reality the argument is a utilitarian one. The example that comes to mind is the suffragette movement. I will suffer these various pains but the pleasure in the long run if successful is quite high. Although there is an inherent pleasure in “I want it and I want it now”. This mentality would likely go some way to explain ‘debt culture’ but would of course be but a small facet of a larger topic.

We often do things and don’t stick with them, an obvious example being that of new years resolutions. We gain a pleasure in the idea that we are going to change something but quickly become disillusioned.

Of course gratification can also be a risk. Winning the lottery could be an illustration of this. You pay money for a chance to win a larger sum of money. Any form of gambling really falls under this sort of pleasure.

We live in an age in which quick immediate gratification can be sought. This is a topic I’ve previously looked at and I do think it is part of the reason that entertainment seems to ‘dumb down’. Notable examples against this flow do exist and do seem to prove quite popular.

Of course people will be for whatever reason inclined towards one or the other but is one better than the other? I’m not sure for a functioning society I would imagine a mix of both is needed. Sometimes you have to act, sometimes you have to think. A society like a single individual also has to sometimes make quick decisions and sometimes needs to think things though.

Well I will leave this there and will hopefully be inspired to write something a bit more in depth for whatever reason.

There’s a reason they say that ignorance is bliss.

The above title is taken from a comment on a Youtube video that I watched just before writing this post. It will be linked at the bottom but the part I took from it is that the creator of the video was finding more enjoyment from keeping less plugged into the political and news world.

My first experience of this outside of being a child was on a trip to London in which for a few days I ignored any news. Now it is of course important to be aware of the world around you as it is important to be well informed on topics. It is important for social advancement for people to be aware of what is going on in the world just as much as it is to be aware of the history. Tricks of politicians being an example as with media moral panics.

“why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars. Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” –  Hermann Göring

I am unsure as to if this quote is real but it does spring to mind in regards to Iraq war, a media storm followed by a moral panic which still clearly exists most notably in the U.S.A. So perhaps being well informed is a very important and good thing but does this come at a cost?

Being humans we seem to have two traits in my mind. The first one relates to gossiping and the juicer or more outrageous or negative the better. The media likes the focus on sad stories and I personally see this for three reasons.

  1. They tend to be important stories with great significance
  2. If something potentially or actually effects us we take more of an interest in it.
  3. Feel good stories do not fulfil this as much being more of a novel story unless based on some miracle of heroic act. ‘The micracle plane landing on the Hudson River’ springs to mind.

A recent story that has been in metal-head circles tossed around a lot relates to the proposed picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of a rather prominent musical figure. As more widely known as the church that picketed military servicemen’s funerals. The topic is more or less the same although the significance is of course subjective. In both cases it is upsetting and it is also rather controversial effecting not us directly but effecting us all on an emotional or personal level. Be that of a person who has died for their country or somebody who has had an impact on others in some other way.

Jeff Hanneman – Slayer.

Rather than looking at the need to have knowledge, or to know what is going on in the world I wonder what this does to us on a personal level. A constant bombardment of negative news with a few ‘sob stories’ often of a motivational nature. Perhaps this contributes to a degree in the need of a person to look at videos of a cat do something cute or humorous.

We all at times need to have a little personal time and for a lot of us a part of that will involve surfing the internet with a lot of information at our fingertips and in many cases a bombardment from news. If not from an RSS feed of the news it will be from Facebook or some other form of media. An interconnected world is hard to switch off for a few hours.

Of course this presents a catch22 position of the benefit of being informed and the benefit from taking a break from all of this. I would argue that it is vital that a person is informed on a wide variety of topics in addition to being able to take a mental break. Being wrapped away from the world is not healthy nor useful but clearly we should also peruse a level of happiness.

Looking towards my own personal example I found I was calmer rather than wondering what will be happening in whatever part of the world or being mildly upset at various stories. A sense of moral indignation also arises and I am sure any reader of this post could sympathise. Although there remains the desire to know and learn more about the world, burying ones head in the sand is not a good idea.

We instead should take a middle ground approach. We should put what we read into perspective not only generally but in our own lives. We also need time reflect on the things that we read in the news in addition to our escapes. This is perhaps why to use video games as an example Call of Duty with it’s Hollywood depiction and ease of play is a successful brand wherein the game Spec Ops: The Line which left a clear lasting impression on me is a rare example in the media form.

So perhaps it is not correct to say that ignorance is bliss but it is also perhaps not far off the mark of what is true. I would assert that it is also true that just because something gives us a sense of ‘bliss’ is not always a good thing. What we don’t know does hurt us and we can’t simply escape the reality of the world we live in. Rather than escaping from the news reading it in chunks on-line and the single block that is the morning newspaper beats the constant barrage that we otherwise subject ourselves to. A middle ground between the extremes of avoidance and news sponge has to be the way forward.

Still in an increasingly integrated world is this simply just something we all need to get used to?

Youtube video which lead to the motivation to post this:

Encouraging Learning

A common theme in my most recent posts has been relating to human advancement. While I would like to later talk more about history this topic is something I want to go into right now. Advancement is a difficult concept to talk about in full as it relates to many things. The purpose of this blog is to talk about what I think is the best way to create learning be it that of a child, an adult or in general.

Rather than an effort to make learning simply making learning ‘cool’ or fun a person also needs to want to learn to get the best effect. I will be looking at this from a few perspectives.


Education of course being a rather obvious way in which somebody learns. The role of education though needs to focus on general learning in the UK. While examinable information is very important making a space in which a child can and wants to learn is more important. Teaching how to compare and contrast differing ideas by looking at potential bias or inaccuracies is something first taught to me formally at GCSE (ages 14-16) History. This is frankly too late. We have issues of teachers before this forcing pseudo-scientific ideals down children before this. While public (private) schools don’t have to follow the national curriculum some basic guidelines should be enforced I feel. In science classes I would love to see children being shown a video by for example Carl Sagan. Putting the wonder of the world back into the classes to give a sense of perspective. This is why I really do support out of classroom trips give the children passion and they will teach themselves I think.

English: Cropped from ‘Pale Blue Dot’, see bel...

‘Pale Blue Dot’,  (Wikipedia). Seeing our place in the universe. Should it not simply fill us with wonder and joy rather than the insignificance that many see?


Now gamification is something that is worth looking into. Put simply this is learning by games or making menial tasks more fun. Often by giving a levelling system to provide some feedback to help motivate I want to focus on something different.

I enjoy more complex computer games and some of them are based in real settings. With this often is a wiki of sorts attached.

As a small child my first book was called something along the lines of ‘a prehistoric atlas’. I loved dinosaurs and my farther just bought books from bookshops on the topic. Many of them were far beyond what I could read but illustrations and diagrams helped. Age of empires though gave me a basic understanding of history. I could take charge of famous events and it was where I learnt the most about Joan of Arc. It helped me with the film have a basic understanding of the campaign of William Wallace and gave me an interest in learning more than I did though game play and in depth game files.

Total War games are another example if not for Shogun 1 and 2 I’d know far less about the history of Japan. Perhaps this is the reason it took me till I was 20 and making my own fictional work to gain a proper appreciation for fiction. Because a game helped me learn about the Meiji Restoration (as seen in the film The Last Samurai). You tell a child a tale of samurai warriors charging men with guns with honour and glory. You then tell the child that this actually happened and well it blew my little mind. Or about a rough idea relating to the sengoku jidai era?

Even games like the civilisation series while being very sandbox in nature and open ended gave some appreciation for me as a child. The English have some units better at times in history for example the redcoats. The civopedia tells me that the Redcoats were blah blah. Total War games also have brilliant in depth information about units. This gives a stage pad in which a person can learn a little bit and opens the doors to so much more.


On the 6th June, on the shores of western Europe, 1944 D Day upon us! – Sabaton – Primo Victoria

Music and films also add another brilliant example though little things taught by actual histories or played around a bit. It allows a user of this media to get a feel for the Era as fiction does. Films about historical events or mythologies can stick in the mind and allow one to look further into it.

My examples are more music based as well I love music as a media more. Amon Amarth lead to me learning more about Norse Mythology. Sabaton about history. The film 300 is another brilliant example King Leonidas I as he made his last stand at thermopylae. Yes it actually happened! Even the cheesy lines!

Sabaton gave me another example one I had not heard of the battle of Winza during the second World War. The song is called 40:1 and I was always curious as to what it was about so I looked it up. Let me leave you with something from the Wikipedia page on the issue.

“The Battle of Wizna was fought between September 7 and September 10, 1939, between the forces of Poland and Germany during the initial stages of Invasion of Poland. It was arguably the most heroic battle in the campaign, in which according to latest sources under 720 Poles defended a fortified line for three days against more than 40,000 Germans”

All I can say is that well it’s an epic tale. Sabaton’s most recent album relates to the Swedish Empire which I only knew ever existed prior to this because of the game Cossacks. I looked it up from the battle of Prague to the crashing defeat that was Poltava.

If we want people to learn for interest and fun lets show them how amazing and odd the world can be. Music can also take the form of beautiful poetry. I hated it in school but then I realised how much of my music was nothing more than poetry. From the epic tales of power metal to the sad tales waved by Woods of Ypres and Katatonia.

Internet is a good example of this. Often informative to a degree but always with interesting topics. The internet of course is the great facilitator of these things. I like to think my blog posts leave a small launch pad for the reader to look more in depth as to my chosen topic.

The internet allows all of us to look up details of these sorts of things one example of this in practise is Schrödinger’s Cat which is often explained on Youtube in simple terms. Or the newsfeed of newscientist or the I fucking Love Science facebook channel. Most of my friends know of this cat from a show called ‘The Big Bang Theory’. What a brilliant way of teaching people!  – Minute science, Schrödinger’s Cat

We live in a world where the understanding that previously would require further education or browsing a book shop can be sought by anybody with an internet connection. I feel education should make a better use of these sorts of things. I had a science teacher that used to make us try and find out the answer to teach ourselves before he taught us the answer and we saw if and why our understanding was flawed. As much as it wound me up at the time it as a brilliant idea.

We need the tools to be able to learn in addition to the knowledge we learn. I am thankful to be doing a degree that while is very intensive on cramming and learning set rules is also very much about learning how to learn. How to find information and how to work out which information is correct.

I am a person who has a lot of ‘pointless’ knowledge and very few who share my love of certain topics but enough to keep me more than content and to always have something in depth to talk about should I wish. Yes exams are important but should this come at a cost of wanting to learn more about things in general?

Yes it is important to know basic geography and science but surely it is more important to know how to read a map and the scientific method? It reminds me of the ‘give a man a fish’ analogy.

Give a person a book and he may learn what it contains. Give a person wonder and he will read a thousand books.

The ego of nations

In a time in which budget cuts to military spending is it right to put money into a project that the forces themselves do not need?

Read that first, let it all sink in I will give you a moment. du du du. Right lets begin. I will be looking at this from a defence and technological standpoint rather than a financial view. I will be using this project as a case study and not look towards the UK that has similar issues in priorities. This is done for the purpose of keeping this concise.

Firstly does this tank need updating? The threats that currently face the Abrams M1 to M1A2 tank these days are mostly guerrilla based weapons. Roadside bombs and the ever famous RPG-7. It is evident that even a highly dated tank would prove enough match for a man with a kalashnikov.

Well the RPG-7 hitting anywhere from the back would be pretty much useless due to the use of Chobham armour. So you may be asking yourself why if there is no current real threat to the existing tanks an upgrade would be needed? Is there a risk of Hellfire missiles?

I will be contrasting this to the f-22 Raptor and the B2 Spirit. All of these seem to come from a Cold War mentality in which the best is needed. So while sometimes issues arise with the supply of body armour or small arms fire a totally cool tank is on the budget. The B2 stealth bomber had a real purpose and has recently been used to strike some fear into N.Korea.

The f-22 despite it’s problems ( is an amazing 6th generation fighter. But what is it’s target? While it can work as a bomber it has no real use unless a war broke out with a powerful nation like China or Russia.

So why is such advancement used? Well firstly I suspect the idea that we need these toys is important in the off chance of a world war. The second world war was a massive change and this caught many nations off guard who were locked into a trench mentality despite the monster that was the Panzer 2 allowing greater mobility in battles.

This to me gives sufficient reason for the technology to exist in order to make these advanced weapons. I would also argue however that the actual creation of them are redundant. The Aurora which may or may not exist as a replacement to the sr-71 Is a good idea from a standpoint of technological advancement. Gearing up for war is costly but it gives great technological advancement. The flying wing ideas of the Nazi’s quickly became the b2 which still today is a useful and powerful weapon however perhaps such money would be better spent on DARPA ( who have really pushed advancement far and wide which has had many civilian uses.

So while expensive unneeded weapons exist some illogical moves are made. The UK removing the Harrier was a costly mistake as while the Harrier is a powerful jet it had a great manoeuvrability and flexibility. The ability to Vertical land is something that served the Huey’s in becoming legendary during the Vietnam war.

So while advancements in technology are of great use to us all, and we all seem to be gearing up towards some imaginary war with some benefits why do nations do this?

Simply put I think it is an issue of ego. My dad can beat up your dad. I have the best fighter, tank ect yet the tomahawk and m2 browning are a bigger use. The m2 being a great example of a machine gun yet being a ww2 design. Surely better bullet shooters beat more advanced engines on tanks? The standard m1911 pistol named after it’s year of creation is still standard issue and a brilliant gun but why is one so advanced and one fits into a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp? The same stands for Trident. If the British need to Nuke somebody borrow a b-52 from the Americans who have plenty rotting in the desert.
Airplane Graveyard

Still while the threat of a nuclear attack is worth having and I would even go so far as to say Trident may still be a good idea. But this ego is dangerous and has left some big issues.

Auschwitz is accepted to be an evil thing and rightfully so. It did however bring some medical advancements due to the testing done on the Jews. The infamous unit 731 also provided medical advancements. While evil and depraved some ‘good’ was taken from it.

So why the tangent? Because we sit on a greater evil than even a nuclear bomb. There was some debate on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was even known as the destruction preventer if the idea that destroying a city and even killing children born after the bomb can be such a thing. What could be worse?

Smallpox. An eradicated disease that we are loosing immunity for. Which can still be used as a biological weapon.

Unleashing smallpox would be disastrous and more dangerous than a couple of nuclear bombs. The effect of two of these weapons on cities was enough that they were never used again. We saw the evil that the mushroom cloud brought. So why do we not destroy such a thing rather than have Russia and the United states to have such a weapon. If both countries destroyed it it would be gone for good.

Yet we live in a world with it, when the fall of the USSR lead to a black market in nuclear material. Enough to build a nuke potentially.

So while technology is important as is advancement. Better ways of advancing need to be found. Developing weapons is something that any nation should not stop doing however there needs to be a cost proportional to the threat. An army is important as is it being well equipped but surely the Americans don’t need tanks which at great cost have a very large diminishing returns? If I was on the front line I’d rather more pooled into Liquid body armour. It would potentially save more lives after all.

Still what do you think? Is this irresponsibility a simple beat of the chest or is there a real reason for the f-22 and tank advancements? The T-90 is far cheaper yet serves the Russians well. My own view is that while the Cold War may be over our politicians were raised in its shadow meaning that our politics still act in a cold war state. We all know how many lives that cost on 9/11 when a military system designed to win an air supremacy battle is fooled by a simple hijack.

Can’t we all just get along?

Well this is my first post. I intend to deal with a topic in which I could not hope to cover comprehensibly however I feel this is a great starting point and something that is important for all to consider.

This post is a reply following the comments made by the BNP that the British race must be rebuilt “” now ignoring the obvious issues that arise through this.

The Marxist who could point out that this is an ideological state apparatus in which those from another ‘Race’ are used as scapegoats. Those with any knowledge of history could point to the issues with the terms ‘British’ ‘British Race’. Of course being a nation in which Saxon, Celt, Gaulish, Scandinavian, Roman, European hands built the nation with each addition allowing a greater wealth for the whole. From the support from the Commonwealth for the British Expeditionary Forces of the world wars or the famous example of the English longbow (Otherwise known as the Welsh longbow). Rather than dealing with the point in such a simple way perhaps it is better to instead look behind the words.

Humans are very good at forming groups, be this cultures or subcultures. An us and them mentality is a force to be reckoned with and this can exist due to religion, music taste, ethnicity, football teams. Or rather these are the lines in which humans are able to draw differences and create a them and an us.

This is of course a very complicated issue so I wish to steer this instead of looking as to why the BNP use race in this example meaning of course to them white. Rather than a ‘native’ whatever that may be. I am given the image of a Gurkha from Nepal fighting for his native land of Britain in the Falklands. Or the differences this must make from a Northern Irish person and an Irish in a historical sense given that the Irish being of course generally white were treated as something below.

Rather I wish to pose a question to the reader as to what this brings for us in the future. If humans are ever to move amongst the stars do we require an outside entity to bring us together? I recall a comedian who I sadly have forgotten the name from saying that the only way all humans would unite is if some aliens came. ‘Go back to where you come from and leave our women alone!’ Still even they would be sentient like us and like all other things we would have a common point. We are after all simply star stuff.

Are we humans so incapable of banding together as a whole that we must pick apart any differences that we could find? In many Sci-fi films there is often a United Earth entity existing which realistically would be the best way forward. Do we require an invasion for that? I think back to the game Mass Effect 3. Does fighting as a united galaxy require the reapers to attack? In a small tangent the soundtrack really is amazing.

Still there is some hope. If one can dream a dream that a person be judged on the content of character so can others. The BNP are by no means a majority who take advantage  of the fear of the ‘other’. In the UK it is taken as obvious that a woman can be as intelligent as a man even if inequality does still exist. The only way forward is to look to other humans as your neighbors in the biblical sense. It is a sad irony that the Cold War brought us so much technological advancement, to be able to say that we as a species went to our moon in order to beat our chests is beautiful yet fundamentally quite pathetic. Competition is great for us but do we really need these high stakes?

In the end I will pose a simple question. Which may be possible if social advancement continues. I want to be seen as a barbaric bigot by those who come after me because it is then that we have advancement. So in all as simple as the question is and as complicated the question is it is something worth bearing in mind. The answer is currently effecting humanity, it always has and it may always will. Watch this video ‘’ before thinking and answering. It is a reflection of a photo taken by Voyager 1 and very much worth watching.

So I will ask this seemingly simple question. But ponder on how complex the back story is. So regardless of the Politics. Race, Nationality, History, Differences, Hate.

Can’t we all just get along?

P.S A thank you to Rebecca Kime for the motivation to make this blog and this post.