Thought For The Day

My love for BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, as hosted by Eddie Mair, is well-documented on this website (1, 2). During #indyref the first, I remember him conducting one of the better interviews I heard with Scotland’s First Minister.

You should see Blankety-Blank with Lilly Savage!
Eddie & Pals: Call My Bluff’s changed!

However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent – from, for example, the Today programme’s coverage of yesterday’s news that the Westminster government is mulling making substantial payments to the EU to retain financial services passporting rights for the City of London– that The Herald‘s chief reporter has captured a larger truth about the BBC’s output.

[Yes, somehow I’ll pivot this into strokes and art. Read on to find out how.]

So it is that as I make Mrs Stroke Bloke’s first cuppa in the morning, I find myself listening not to the Today programme, but BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland. Any show that throws to the sports desk from a story on the RRS Sir David Attenborough with

And now, over to Sporty McSportface…

gets my vote.

Or, Cheeto-Facey McFace-Face
Cheeto-face is right – our democracy is broken!

That’s not to say Good Morning Scotland is perfect. Its daily Thought for the Day feature is inconsistent at best.

Thought for the Day is similar to Radio 4’s feature of the same name – it basically consists of reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news. Except these days – and I think this goes for both versions – as well inviting Buddhists for a more varied outlook than one might traditionally expect from the national broadcaster, it also invites humanists.

Nevertheless, like apoplectic.me, the feature is often at it’s best when it does a ridiculous pivot.

Aye, American chocolate won't do that for you.
“I was eating a Flake in the bath the other day, and you know, that made me think about Jesus.”

But this Monday’s edition was interesting for a different reason. Rev. Diana Hall, curate of St. Andrew’s Scottish Episcopal Church in St. Andrews let me know that yesterday was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Worldwide, one billion people live in extreme poverty and can’t meet their basic needs. And in the widest sense, Rev. Hall continues, poverty is dehumanizing. Jesus of Nazareth, of course, lived among the poor. In Jesus’s encounters as they are related in the New Testament, he often finds that it is those who have the greatest wealth who are the poorest, spiritually.

Aye, well, that’s well worth a wee Google

What would it look like for each of us to have less, so that others can have more, she asks?

Similar thoughts were in my mind this weekend as my Interrobang?! comrade and I performed a set at the Oxjam Festival Edinburgh Takeover this weekend. Oxjam events take place throughout these islands in October. We performed at the Grassmarket Community Project.

"People or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox, with respect to art, culture, and society."
Beth (not that one) gives it some avant garde

Beth Interrobang wove together a piece that somehow wove together tales about the inside of The Donald’s head and dinner with god into a tale about trying to escape hopeless paralysis in face of 2016. After all, as someone recently pointed out on the Tweetie Box, 2016 has really been 2016-ing everything.

Bertie Wooster was latchkeying his way into a sitting room 80 years ago!
Verbing weirds language. And I’m ok with that

After Beth was done, I presented a stand-alone version of Nerd Bait’s Words and Music from Apollo 21 from Illicit Ink’s show last year. It finished with a beautiful medley of our Perspectives and Moonbeams, and everyone was raving about Steph’s voice and the setting Paul provided for her.

Y’see, the folks at Oxjam had told us that the festival’s interests for spoken word(ish) pieces included feminism and science (and hopefully, laughter, tears, and Mr Benn).

Sorry! A caveman! I meant a caveman!
Hello! I’m a straight, white, cis man who looks like he’s about the crush the proletariat!

Of course, for all that Mr Benn looks like a representative of The Man, he does explore empathy and different situations by, for example, putting on a leopard skin and adventuring in the stone age.

Discussing with the volunteers who put on Oxjam the fact that all of its proceeds go directly to Oxjam’s emergency fund, I was reminded once again of how much luck I’ve had both in life generally and with respect to my stroke recovery. That in turn recalled an old thought experiment that was once described to me in jurisprudence class as a way to design a system of just laws and governance in the absence of a talkative god.

Eric Clapton's changed.
“What? Oh, I’m kinda busy right now.”

The idea was, to imagine oneself in a pre-birth state in which one has an even chance of being born as any person on Earth. Bearing in mind, of course, that when it comes to famine, war, pestilence, poverty, and exposure to Nickelback, humans are pretty risk averse.

So, as we get ready to put the clocks back an hour in Scotland, and 2016 2016es its way to the end of 2016, it feels like that’s a useful tool to keep in mind as we consider our reactions to the world we live in.

Me? I think I’m going to gamble everything on the chance of a small loan from my father. 😜

strikes again

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3 thoughts on “Thought For The Day

  1. An interesting post. I’ve often said that my life experience is a 99.999 percentile of all humans ever. And that everyone I tell that too is 99.99 at least. People rarely disagree but are often surprised – mostly out of having never considered such an obvious fact.

    And this is why, in a classical sense, I am a liberal. Those billions in extreme poverty are benefitted by freer trade and more open borders for instance

    And yet modern liberals and conservatives (although the folks who bear those tags today mean something radically different) seem to not believe that, sinking into nationalism and classism. “End tpp” (a sanders/trump fave) is basically saying “we don’t believe that free exchange of commerce and culture lifts others up, or if it does, they are not us so they don’t matter”

    And then you see studies – I will find this if you push – That ask “1 (briton|american) has a worse outcome and n Vietnamese have an improved one” and people still say no to that trade at n=1000.

    So I agree Ricky. Let’s be considerate of our fellow person and stand up as best we can to preserve autonomy freedom and opportunity for as many folks as we can, while sharing the burden of those who can’t find a route to prosper. That is classical liberalism and it also seems to be late-80s American conservatism.

    Ahh well. I should just delete this whole post and replace it with a letter saying there are too many states.

    1. Correction. There are too many [nation] states -2.

      As the recipient of an education heavy in classical economics, international trade, and the EU single market at its apogee of optimism, I’m inclined to agree. (Although TTiP appears to have some of the problems that have led to the kickback against Yerp – the over-removal of regulation, and movement of democracy further from the people? And I’d predictably suggest that late-80s American conservatism wasn’t great on sharing the burden. So far, so Ricky.)

      But then, is it the case that “we” are inclined to apply the lessons of liberalism and classical economics in tightly defined spheres? A thought that I haven’t seen raised elsewhere, but with which I am grappling, is – Why isn’t anyone arguing for them to be applied to immigration? If these islands are a good place to live, why not let anyone come here who fancies it? At some point, it will be less desirable to live here than some other less populous areas and some kind of equilibrium will be reached. Heck, start funds to help people move in whatever direction they prefer! Kind of the story of America, no?

      It is complicated. But I saw this morning that Žižek has a new book out on Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbors. That’ll give me the answers. And make the blog a more knockabout place!

      1. Some people do argue for that but they are the fringes of libertarian economics – I think the reality that the resulting area would be changed to the point of nationalist backlash and the difficulty of having unilaterally open borders are the leading counter arguments. But on a moral basis with repeated application of the golden rule it’s hard to not come to that conclusion yes.

        And yeah tpp has problems and yeah 80s conservatives and 2012 leftists aren’t really about sharing burdens. And blah.

        So maybe we are all doomed and we should just go full in-it-for-me and no-collective-action libertarian-with-nice-condos economics fanfic/soft core. But I worry that way leads to 1933 Germany or 2009 Somalia.

        Harrumph. Getting onion for belt.

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