Environmental Disaster: Looking in the wrong direction

Letter to the Independent in response to Johann Hari’s piece:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-a-turningpoint-we-miss-at-our-peril-2288915.html

Sirs,

Johann Hari’s search for a solution to the impending environmental disaster is commendable, but if he’s looking for the tipping point, he’s facing the wrong direction. He should check over his shoulder first, as we have already passed it. Greed, corruption and stupidity have built such a momentum that there is no longer anything that can be done.

I’m 51 and will be dead by the time it hits, maybe my kids will be too. But my grandchildren will have a hellish time of it. I hope they have the good sense not to have children of their own.

But all is far from lost. Many commentators speak as though this is the end of the world. It isn’t. It’s just the end of humanity in its current form. The world will survive, adapt, and over time will flourish. Hopefully, without humans on it, it will have a better future.

We had our chance. We blew it.

Paul Harper

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Common Sense on Rape At Last

Heart-felt response to this Independent article, and two the preceding day after Ken Clarke got (quite unnecessarily, in my view) hauled over the coals for commenting clumsily on the topic of rape:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mary-dejevsky/mary-dejevsky-a-feminist-presumption-of-victimhood-impairs-justice-2286494.html

Sirs,

Mary Dejevsky is a very brave woman and deserves applause for having the courage to write a rare column full of common sense on that most hyped of crimes, rape. Daring to question the blinkered world view of the Saintly Sisterhood, she has provided a perspective that allows the crime to be taken seriously in its own right and not just dismissed as more feminist whining.

Along with your correspondents Christina Patterson and Steve Richards, the Independent is one of the few newspapers treating rape seriously and not using it as a political football on the side of enraged feminists. A viewpoint that is both rare and refreshing, and I congratulate you on it.

Only by treating rape properly will the huge injustice of the trial by public opinion that those accused of rape – whether accurately or not – have to go through be ended. It has always struck me as grossly unfair that men accused of rape have been tried, found guilty and punished in the media long before any court appearance. Rape seems to be the only crime where “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply.

The “perp walk” that Strauss-Khan underwent is nothing compared to the public vilification that a man accused of rape has to go through in the media, long before any court verdict. Too many rape accusations are shown to be false for this to be acceptable, and it has to change. Rape will never be taken seriously while it remains possible to falsely manipulate the media in this way.

There should be enforced anonymity on all sides of a rape case until a verdict is handed down.

Paul Harper

It’s not Stephen Hawking’s fault that journalists are stupid!

Quick rant to the Independent in response to the bottom part of this article:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/steve-connor-does-finding-an-aids-vaccine-matter-any-more-2286495.html

Sirs,

Steve Connor (Science Studies, 20 May) drips his sarcasm in completely the wrong direction when referring to the news that Stephen Hawking does not believe in God followed a couple of weeks later by the revelation that he doesn’t believe in Heaven either.

Connor should be directing his ire at whichever idiot journalist asked the second question, clearly not picking up the hint the first time. Hawking has good manners and will answer a question when it’s put to him, however stupid.

Paul Harper

Am I The Only One Who Doesn’t “Get” Tracey Emin?

Letter to the Independent in response to this article: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/tracey-emin-her-life-in-art-2284598.html and to the Independent using her twice in two weeks on the cover of their “Viewspaper” section:

Sirs,

With reference to you using her twice in two weeks on the cover of the Viewspaper, and in today’s article inside: Much as I admire her considerable gift for self-promotion, I simply do not understand how Tracey Emin’s output can be considered art. It it almost always unattractive to look at, frequently seeming to have been executed by a talented five year old and any meaning it has appears to be assigned after the event rather than intentionally before work starts.

It is almost as though she does something on a whim, decides she likes it (or can sell it) then decides it’s “art” however shallow and pointless it is.

Kudos to her for fooling some of the people all of the time, but to me it’s just not at all convincing as anything other than a PR and cash-generating exercise.

Paul Harper

Scotland for the Scots: And Good Riddance!

Response to Sunday Independent piece : http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/tim-lott-good-riddance-to-this-unequal-union-2284201.html

Sirs,

I am an Englishman, and I agree completely with Tim Lott. I am sick to the back teeth of whining Scots expecting the rest of the UK to subsidise their free prescriptions and cheap universities while expecting us to pay for their health, policing and unemployment costs all of which are higher than the national average.

I vigourosly support Scottish independence, especially fiscal independence. Once they get hit by the full cost of running their “country” – including defence and their share of the cost of bailing out the failed Scottish banking institutions RBS and HBOS – then for the first time in many centuries, the smug self-satisfied grins might be wiped off their faces.

Their assumption that the income from North Sea oil and gas (which contrary to popular Scottish opinion does NOT all belong to them) will cover these expenses will also be shown to be a myth and by some considerable margin.

You will not find a stronger supporter of the SNP than me anywhere in the country.

Paul Harper

AV: Enough of Coalitions Already. Vote “No”

Rant directed at the Independent after their whiney leader article slamming the “No” campaign without analysing the failure of the “Yes” campaign to get its message across:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-banish-apathy-and-vote-to-change-politics-for-the-better-2278386.html

Sirs,

You don’t half talk some bollocks sometimes! A big slab of the leader article today boils down to one thing: the Yes campaign hasn’t got enough spirit in it to put its message across. This is disguised as an extended whine at the Tories, rather than criticising the Yes campaign for wheeling out hated politicians and D-list celebrities and expecting to be taken seriously.

AV *will* produce more coalitions in the UK – that’s why the LibDems are desperate to get it in place. Coalitions make up policy after the election, after everyone has had their say. Therefore nobody gets to vote on coalition policies and they have no mandate whatsoever.

I have yet to see an effective rebuttal of this, and as such I shall be voting “No” tomorrow.

I would rather see a government with a minority mandate than a coalition with zero mandate.

AV doesn’t improve democracy, it destroys what little we have.

Paul Harper

… and bless ’em, despite editing out the first sentence (ahem!) and despite it being totally against their own stance, they published it on the morning of the voting day: