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DIARY: What’s Putin on?, Boris inveigled?, Greasy poll, Poppycock Watch: Return of Green Dave, Profundity of the Week

Boris

Watching Russia’s President Putin on the news channels this morning, was a demonstration of the rejuvenating powers of armed conflict.

Almost unrecognisable from the scowling fellow of yesteryear, he appears to have taken on a new zest for life. His skin is baby-smooth, the permafrown replaced by the joviality of youth, and he even looked interested in his questioners and their queries. What is he on?

Does he realise how marketable such a product, or technique, would be in the youth-obsessed West? The Daily Mail would find it irresistible for its multitudinous women’s pages.

Vlad, you need a sales manager!

* * * * *

The mop-haired big beast that is Boris Johnson is on manoeuvres again in the bowels of the Tory Party, his old roistering ground.

Benedict Brogan, writing in the Telegraph reports that “George Osborne let it be known that he would like Boris Johnson to stand for Parliament in 2015, and join the Tory effort to secure an outright majority. David Cameron expressed much the same view …” It’s all kicking off — literally.

In politics, nothing is quite as simply benign as it is often made to seem. You see, Gorgeous George (his new sobriquet) is a plotter in the Ali Campbell mode. The rest of the Tory pack believe he is up to mischief.

Goodo! Nothing enlivens politics more than a portion of mischief, preferably a large one.

The suspicion is growing that by inveigling Boris into the election fray, they can pin the blame on him for its failure. Surely not!

And if they win, they can claim a personal victory and are unsackable for at least another parliament.

One fly for this ointment: Boris is versed in the black arts of ancient Greece and Rome, as wicked a bunch of villains as you’ll find in history until the Liberal-Democrats arrived.

It’s going to be fun!

* * * * *

Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, has deemed UKIP to be “a major” player for the purposes of May’s European elections. Nigel Farage’s party is steadily climbing the ladder of power.

Nige thinks UKIP will top the greasy poll (sic), and who can doubt him. Despite the verbal drubbing in the Telegraph recently, his nag is still well-placed in the field coming round Tattenham Corner.

Frankly, I hope he makes it. Anything to ring the changes from the sterile debates between the present unimaginative bunch of party leaders.

* * * * *

Poppycock Watch
At PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) last week, Dave burnished his green credentials (again!) as if they had never gone away. What a confusing fellow he is. Or would that be confused?

Now, I’m aware of the difference between common-as-muck weather and the aristocratic realms of climate science. Weather is in-yer-face, while climate is so damned esoteric that meterologists can have twenty different opinions before breakfast.

It seems that thirteen EU member states, including Britain, have set up the “Green Growth Group”, aiming for a renewable energy target of at least 27%. Their deliberations will not be binding at national level, however. Small mercies, and all that.

Dave should take on board Ed Miliband’s mocking banter on the topic last week. The election is not that far away; does he really want to be caught thrashing around in uncharted air currents?

* * * * *

Profundity of the Week
UKIP was in Torquay for the party conference over the weekend. Great choice of venue … Syntagma lives nearby.

I didn’t spot Nige with trouser bottoms rolled up taking a paddle in the sea though. Terrible disappointment.

I suspect the shrewd Farage realised that each stride taken in the briny is one step closer to Europe.

* * * * *

Postscript of the Week
Loved the line in The Guardian: 50% off Soulmates.

Says it all, doesn’t it?

* * * * *

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Practical Mysticism: A different way of looking at the world.

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Saturday Ramble: A politics of the afterlife will prevent the world destroying itself

The Soul rising to Heaven

Life in the 20th/21st centuries has been broadly inimical to any concept of an afterlife.

The weighty intrusion of science into traditional modes of living bears down heavily on all forms of spirituality and anything deemed “natural”. Human society has become more like an ant-hill mimicking the construct of a machine. Observe your way of life more closely and this will become apparent, even to the most obtuse among us.

The thesis of this article is that a re-emergence of belief in an afterlife, amounting to a certainty, will reduce this tendency to dust. Take a look.

There was a time when everyone believed in an afterlife. And not only Christians.

In those days, death was a simple passing through a gossamer curtain to another aspect of life. People lived their lives to the full, conscious that they could survive anything.

In modern times those certainties have been lost beneath a deluge of atheism and scientific speculation. Giants of theoretical science claim that this is all we have … so just get used to it.

The inevitable consequence of this dogmatic view is that our existence must be protected by any means possible. Therein lies the politics of the afterlife.

Physical immortality through medical intervention is passionately sought and paid for, even if it means freezing a newly-dead body for hundreds of years. Cosmetic surgery — now on the NHS — is de rigueur among women of a certain age, often 23 or over.

Politicians of the Left have responded by weaving ever more legal safety nets to stop us walking into danger. The Left is, of course, mostly atheistic. Man is their god and the measure of all things. And he is doomed to extinction. The job of socialists is to extend that span for as long as possible.

The result of this kind of government action is that modern society has become neurotic, as David Cameron pointed out on one of his better days. Sometimes it crosses boundaries that properly belong to the individual and border on the psychotic. Everyone will have their favourite examples.

I believe the cause of this denaturing of life lies outside the political landscape, however. It derives from the moments when Darwin, Freud and others cackhandedly lost touch with the essence of existence and rebuilt it on a rickety structure of theory, poorly executed experiment, and narrowly-based investigation. In our century, the movement relies almost entirely on mathematics and complex equations.

And yet, contrary to received opinion, an afterlife is provable using a multitude of anecdotal evidence from the length and breadth of historical testimony. If you had read as many accounts as I have, you would be in no doubt. See this piece on survival after death — just below this one.

That may not be “science” as we know it. It will always fail the repeatability test of the scientific method because only interactions between simple physical objects tend to a similarity of outcome.

The main sickness of modern society is the feeling of impending doom, even execution, thus “What the hell!” And that sums up all the ills of our world. We seem to be sentenced to death by an implacable fate.

The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, was convinced that almost all mental problems in adults are religious in nature, usually linked to a loss of faith. Now this might seem to be something the churches should deal with, not politicians. I don’t agree.

There is as much disputation and loss of confidence among churches and their denominations as in other policy areas. Totalitarian religions are as much to blame for the emptiness of modern life as the titans of science, which has become a religion in itself: Scientism.

Politicians could help by refusing to fund Big Science projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider, and concentrate scarce resources on technology, where small-scale projects can have immense outcomes for employment and productivity. Look at Silicon Valley.

Governments could stop “following the science”. It is this apparent invincibility that’s giving a few rather pathetic figures the aura of knowing all the answers. Their depressing materialism is infecting modern life with a nihilism that is totally self-destructive.

Science has replaced a god as the object of worship in many socialised countries around the globe, including our own. The answer is not necessarily to go back to any one religion, although if Christianity reformed itself, it might become a useful vehicle for a new way of looking at the world.

Since the loss of an afterlife is at the heart of our deep societal neurosis, some way should be found to bring it back on to the public agenda.

Loss of an afterlife is our modern tragedy. It can only be healed by a less materialistic philosophy and a new conviction that death is not the end.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

To be published soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world.

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Saturday Ramble: Sand castles in the air, Nuclear depowerment, Guardian does religion

Caveman Clegg

Some politicians, such as Nick Clegg, have developed a serious neurosis about carbon. Not a week goes by without a hand-wringing plea to “de-carbonise” the planet.

Now I distinctly remember our biology master at school explaining that living creatures can be based on one of two elements: silicon or carbon. The Earth has plenty of sand on its surface — the Sahara desert, Bournemouth beach, for example — so we could easily be based on silicon.

However, good old Mother Earth chose the carbon route from the beginning, so all living creatures, and the entire biosphere, are built around — shock, horror! — the “c” word.

In that context, the word “decarbonise” represents the height of scientific illiteracy — sand castles in the air.

* * * * *

The current kerfuffle about our future energy policy, is reaching ludicrous proportions. There is a history here.

The Labour Party can always be relied upon to pile disaster upon disaster in the pursuit of a ringing soundbite. Their recent unlamented three periods in office desecrated all policy areas, including energy.

Nuclear power, in which Britain excelled in the 1950s, was wound down to such an extent that we are now reduced to sending the Chancellor of the Exchequer halfway round the world to a country of mainly peasant farmers, which has only recently part-industrialised, to help build a range of nuclear powered electricity generators. The French will be the other partner, much to their glee.

Our new electricity industry will be constructed by the Chinese Communist party and a French Socialist Government. The Miliband brothers should never be forgiven for what they did in office, especially Ed at the Department for Climate Change and Other Oddball Ideas.

Labour left nothing to plug the looming energy shortages in the coming decade. A Conservative-led administration, which itself pursued “green” solutions to the point of insanity — remember David Cameron’s little wind turbine on his house and his “hug a husky” campaign? — must now face reality.

Wouldn’t it be better to throw some serious money at rebuilding our own nuclear industry and inviting a few Americans to give us a hand?

* * * * *

I’ve never been a natural reader of The Guardian newspaper, but I do rather like its online Belief pages.

True, some of the articles retain that unmistakable academic, leftish tone that runs through the rest of the paper. But we should be grateful for small mercies.

The ubiquitous Giles Fraser, as “The Loose Canon”, pops up once a week with varying contributions from laments on his depression to the usual Anglican doubts about whether anything in Christianity is actually true. I thought that was my parish.

Michael Mcghee, an academic at Liverpool University, is currently writing a rather good exposition of Buddhism under the title Is Buddhism a Religion?. It obviously is, though there are strong arguments against, and Gotama himself would certainly have denied it. A topic worthy of an airing.

My problem with these pages is that good, fresh copy is rather scarce. Dipping in two or three times a week is probably the optimal approach.

It would be worth a go for the Telegraph to prove it could do better. After all, there’s nothing like a decent bit of competition.

John Evans

Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

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Saturday Ramble: Googlers final curtain, Cameron’s nemesis, Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

Google founders, Larry Page and Serge Brin, are both in the wars healthwise. Page has revealed that he has a nerve disease that has partially paralysed his vocal cords, while Brin has announced he could have Parkinson’s Disease.

According to Mic Wright on Telegraph Blogs they are cooperating with a man from Apple to start a new company, Calico, specialising in preserving the body after death prior to “reawakening” it when the technology is available to cure their afflictions.

Well, good luck with that. What the Googlers should know, however, is that the very essence of them — the soul — leaves the body at death with only the physical shell left behind.

If the bodies were “brought back” to life by advanced technology, they would have no sense of self or remembrance of things past. They would be human-shaped lumps of flesh, with no intelligence or consciousness of the world: Zombies, in fact.

Not even the whizz-kids of Silicon Valley can cheat death. Technology is not the answer to everything.

* * * * *

The general consensus on the Lib Dem conference is that it displayed a new maturity arising from three years in government; Nick Clegg is the master of all he surveys and his persistent rival, Vince Cable, made a fool of himself by continuing to project his dotty desire to be leader.

That may be so. My impression, watching occasionally on television, was how sparse the audience was, and how tepid the applause in response to the tired confection of platitudes from the speakers.

Next week we can look forward to another shouty display of wishful thinking and bad acting from Ed Miliband — I’ve often wondered why last year’s wooden speech was so well received.

Then comes the finale. David Cameron, Prime Minister of these “small islands”, addresses the nation with what could signal the beginning of the General Election campaign.

I don’t get the sense that the country is in the mood for more of a Continental style coalition, each party cancelling out the other’s most distinctive policies. I think they will vote decisively one way or t’other.

The wild card is next year’s Scottish referendum on independence. A Yes vote would alter everything, turmoil rapidly following and all bets off.

Labour would lose many seats, as it has a decisive advantage among Scottish voters, although it’s not clear when the first Scottish election would be. The Tories could well be punished by their own supporters for organising the demise of the United Kingdom.

Cameron would emerge as a weak leader for allowing Alex Salmond to sell him a pup. It would be much too late to replace him for the May, 2015 election.

The Conservatives would go into it with a lame duck leader that everyone knew wouldn’t last long after the votes are counted. Nemesis is waiting in the wings.

If you enjoy political turbulence, stand by, your desires may be about to come true.

* * * * *

There’s a lot of chatter going on about what Frank Sinatra called “the final curtain”.

Death is the topic of the moment: Eleanor Mills had a recent column in The Sunday Times and Giles Fraser had a go on Thought for the Day this morning. Everybody’s at it.

I like to think my recent book The Eternal Quest for Immortality, plus all the follow-up pieces on this site had something to do with it. But there’s a much simpler reason: the advance guard of the Baby Boomers are reaching a certain age when it becomes plain that life no longer goes on forever.

Even the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley are preparing cryogenic graves for themselves (see above). The Boomers never did anything by halves. They are not going to go quietly.

I fervently hope that the next generation will be less of a handful than we have been.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

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The Great Game: why we fight in the Middle East

The Great Game Most people are under the illusory impression that the United States and Great Britain lost the recent wars fought in the Middle East. They didn’t.

The question usually asked is why did we send in the troops (“boots on the ground”) when we could easily have looked the other way? The answer is simple: oil and gas security for our voracious economies.

We didn’t “lose”, except our equally illusory reputation for saintliness, because the pipes are still flowing.

The recipe is quite simple: nasty dictators need lots of money. We need their oil. Keep them in power and it’s a done deal.

Now the tone is beginning to change. A nasty piece of work in Syria is fighting to stay in power by slaughtering thousands of his own people. He has allegedly used “weapons of mass destruction”, chemical poisons that kill people in the most horrible way imaginable.

Obama showed his stature as a man by warning Syria’s President Assad that its use would change the game and bring the West’s wrath down upon his head. It was not about oil this time, but human decency.

Assad did it anyway, calculating that we Westerners would even tolerate him rather than let an Islamist regime in. He was right. If any attack takes place, it will be cruise missiles on non-essential strategic targets. Assad will remain in power.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole episode has been negotiated in advance between ambassadors to save everyone’s face.

For us in Great Britain, this is the Great Game. The same game we played in India, Pakistan and Kashmir in the days of Empire: manipulating leaders who support our aims through mutual interests, while ruthlessly eliminating those who don’t.

We have never sought to overthrow tyrants who play the Game with us, just those who don’t serve our interests.

But now the Game is about to change dramatically. The world is soon to be reshaped totally. And the reason?

Fracking!

America will, sometime soon, become self-sufficient in fossil fuels thanks to enormous shale gas reserves. Presidents will no longer be dependent on oil-rich dictators who crush the life out of their people, with the tacit support of the West.

We are about to witness the turning point of the 21st Century. The first symptom will be the impoverishment of the Middle East and North Africa. The recent revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey — the Arab Spring — are just baffling symptoms of a world in the grip of massive realignments. They are political tectonic plates on the move, with a long way to go before stability is restored.

In what was Eastern Europe, shale deposits are plentiful. Poland, and other EU members, are straining to work out the best way to pursue their own interests. As this tendency evolves, do you suppose they will want to live under the cracking whip of Brussels?

As for Britain, with its deadweight of socialist, pro-EU opinion, we have hardly started. The Green Party is holding back what should be a fracking surge to prosperity. The Lib Dems in government are employing restraining tactics, the Tories are neither here nor there.

Here’s the thing: desks should be cleared in Whitehall and all opposition by civil servants swept away. A single-minded, brook no delay, policy should emerge. Get that shale gas flowing or we will miss the bonanza and fall so far behind the most dynamic leading countries, we will lack the strength to dismiss the disastrous European Union.

David Cameron is already moving in the deluded, defeatist direction, seemingly lacking the insight and the energy to grasp the greatest opportunity of the century. Fracking, not bombing is the only way to go.

The Great Game is afoot — again.

John Evans

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

Author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

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