Fandango’s Provocative Question (8 July 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. I’ve think this morning was one of my longest telephone sessions yet – I think 4 of the calls each took about ¾h, and my ear was sore by the end. It is almost 3PM and getting showered is still on my “to do” list, so the upshot is, I’m gonna try to keep this brief. Today, Fandango asks us:

Do you believe, with respect to the judicial system (or systems) in place where you live, that justice is, indeed, blind? Why do you feel that way?

Okay, brief. Probably the most obvious place to start is race. In the our most recent census of 2011, the population of England and Wales is around:

86%

7.5%

3.3%

3.2%

White (approximately)

Asian (incl Chinese)

Black

Other

This information comes from the UK Government itself.

Now, in England and Wales, we are about 60+ million. This number comes from Worldometers. Now, we’re maybe not the largest country, but not a bad sample number, don’t you agree?

So, if justice were blind, don’t you think we’d expect to see broadly those numbers reflected in the prison population? Okay, not exactly, because there are so many variants here, but broadly. Instead, what we see is:

England/Wales Prison Population (c.80,000)

75%

25%

White (approximately)

BME (Blach, Asian, Minority Ethnic)

these numbers from Wikipedia.

So, at this point, I shouldn’t have to say anything further. It’s not really something we need to debate, because the numbers speak for themselves. If you’re BME, you’re more likely to be banged up.

But it’s not just race. In the last few years here. We have seen big restrictions here on Legal Aid. (Legal Aid is the help you get here from the state to defend yourself, or to take somebody to court. It was pretty tough anyway but has been toughened further.) So the bottom line is: don’t tangle with the law unless you can afford to do so. The result is that a rich person can use the law far more to their advantage than a poor person. So, the discrimination is very much based of poverty, too.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (1 July 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. I’ve just had a busy morning and am having a late lunch, so I’ll try and get a few words down now, and just knock it into publishable shape tonight. This week, Fandango asks:

Are you satisfied with your life at the moment. If so, what is it that brings you the greatest satisfaction? If not, what might you do to achieve satisfaction in your life?

I think the difficult thing here is not so much defining what satisfaction is, but recognising that there are several aspects of life, each of which might be satisfactory/unsatisfactory in its own right. Coming up with an aggregate is not so easy.

Some examples, not exhaustive. And I’m going to use the Columns Block just to wind up all you classic-lovers:

REASONS TO BE SATISFIED
REASONS NOT TO BE SATISFIED

  • I’m glad I got my brain back after the stroke
  • I’m happy with where I live
  • I’m happy that that I got to see other parts of the world
  • I’m happy being married. In fact married life, despite my quips, just gets better.
  • I’m happy that I do charity work, and that is directly helping people.
  • I’m satisfied that my values are good ones. But, aren’t we all?
  • I’m not satisfied with some of the other things after the stroke that seem to be more permanent
  • I’m not satisfied that I don’t drive at the moment
  • I’m not satisfied that it is such a big deal to get up to London – the best work is in London
  • I’m not satisfied with my general back-to-work situation.
  • I’m not satisfied that I can’t ride my bicycle
  • I’m not satisfied with all the weight gain since the stroke. I once prided myself that I was below average, when the rest of the world was becoming obese.
  • I’m not satisfied with how parenting, or my daughter, turned out. I know parenting is hard work, but the kicker is that she has ended up with such totally different values to me.

Off the top of my head. As you can see, some of the things I am dissatisfied with, I can’t actually do anything about. So, in terms of what do I do?, it’s a case of tough luck.

Maybe you can read something into my overall satisfaction level from the relative lengths of these lists? I dunno, if you can, that’s probably just as good a guess as I can make.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (24 June 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. I’ve just had a busy morning and am having a late lunch, so I’ll try and get a few words down now, and just knock it into publishable shape tonight. This week, Fandango asks:

Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, tell us about it to the extent you feel comfortable doing so. If not, is there a crime you might like to commit (i.e., fantasized about committing) if you knew in advance that you’d never be caught or prosecuted for it?

Now you mention it, something like this did come up, but not the other day. This was five or six weeks ago, and was more along the lines of what we considered to be a crime. I don’t remember who posed it, except that it was a prompt on WordPress.

My definition of “crime” is something that goes against my morals. Easy. Specifically, if something happens to be a crime in the statute books, I couldn’t care less. The only thing I judge things on is my own standards.

According to that definition, I don’t think I have committed a crime.

But Fandango supplies a definition of crime which is different to mine. He says that crime is: an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law. It’s can also be an action or activity that, although not illegal, is considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong.

Compare that definition to mine, and half of his definition, I don’t care a jot. Going on Fandango’s definition, I have probably committed many crimes (the most recent of which was probably less than an hour ago). And no, I’m not going to tell you about it.

The second part of Fandango’s question is more interesting.

The short answer is that yes, I would certainly entertain the idea of doing so, although I’m not sure I’d have the balls (or the means) to actually go through with it.

The not get caught bit is irrelevant. The circumstance would be my terminal illness. Rather than just fizzle out quietly, I would love to buy a gun, and take some evil motherf*cker out with me. Some politician who had consistently voted to allow other people to suffer, for example? Somebody who had maybe wanted to wage war on other people? Maybe some neo-nazi? But you know, the notion of doing the world one last favour before I went, by removing them from it.

The trouble with that notion is that my definition of nasty will not be the same as the next guy’s. So I wouldn’t be making an objective decision – there’s no guarantee that my judgement is any better than their’s. In any case, a lot of people are probably better staying alive, just because every word they utter, they do more to harm their cause than I ever could.

I read the other week about the 75yo “activist” somewhere in upstate New York – and I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss that idea out of hand – I can imagine that lots of people are pretty angry about stuff by that time!

Fandango’s Provocative Question (17 June 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, he asks:

Which pre-pandemic activities are you ready to resume (or have you already resumed)? Which, if any, pre-virus activities are you likely to continue to avoid?

My thoughts on this one have not really changed for a while, to be honest.

My gut feel from right back in March was that the politicians are mostly interested in the economy. From Day #1, where some of us have been thinking in terms of minimising casualties, they (some of them) will have been thinking in terms of acceptable casualties. As a result of this, my gut feel was that politicians would try to open things up too soon. That eventually, they would be going against the advice of the medics. I saw that as inevitable, whether it happened back in April, now, or not until Christmas.

So, my decision, a long time ago, was that whenever our Prime Minister started opening shops again (which has just started), then I would stay isolated for another six weeks. Why six weeks? Well, that’s arbitrary, really. Long enough to digest the numbers and satisfy myself that the virus is under control. On current form, that takes me to the start of August. Even then, I will review this decision if the numbers aren’t good.

Now, what does that mean in terms of Fandango’s question? The short answer is that, right now, nothing changed. The one time I have left the house has been for food shopping. My wife drives us to the shop, and I have noticed that she is saying things like, oh, I could fancy such-and-such, which is only available at a certain shop. So, we’ve visited a larger variety of supermarkets than we did in lockdown. At the start of this, we would deliberately go to just one shop, and we chose it simply because it was the shop with the biggest range. But since she drives, and can normally park outside, I figure the risk is pretty much unchanged for me.

There is no other shopping. And restaurants and cafes are not yet open, although coffee shops are selling takeout.

I’m a bit reassured that our local hospital has no COVID cases at the moment. One of my wife’s friends works up there. I know that doesn’t equate to no COVID in the community at large, but it is a good sign.

Although the hospital does not have any current cases, they are apparently standing by for this second wave. I think we might well be seeing a second wave, actually, just because new COVID cases are stubbornly refusing to drop here – they were as high yesterday as they were 2 weeks ago, at around 1200 new cases per day.

I’ve gone on “official new cases” since the start of this. I figure that even though that number is generally accepted to be a fraction of the real number of new cases. My thinking was just that even though somebody’s case might not be counted at first, if it became bad enough they would turn up at the ER, and then they would be counted. So I figure that there is some proportionality between the real and official numbers.

But no, to answer his question, nothing changes yet.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (10 June 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, he asks:

Do you believe there is such a thing as ESP? Or is what some suggest to be ESP merely that there are people who are highly intuitive and are very good at reading people’s very subtle signals?

ESP? Nah, not for me.

I think broadly in human history, we started off not understanding thinghs, and called them supernatural. Or will of God – I lump the two in the same category. Then bit by bit people started understanding little teeny bits, and called it science. For example, why the sky is blue in the day, black at night. What stars are, and why the stars appear to move in the sky when we observe them night after night.

I just think that ESP is one of those things we don’t yet understand. There are lots of things that we don’t understand.

Even my own experience with stroke – strokes are suficiently common, you’d think we would know everything about them, right? Wrong. I started getting we don’t know from about the second question. Really. There is an awful lot we don’t know, especially if we want to start talking specifically about the brain.