Monday, 7 April 2008

Ben Elton, Comedy and Islam

Those of us of a certain generation (i.e. getting close to 40) will remember a time when Ben Elton didn't just write books and shameless Queen musicals. Those were the days of Saturday Night Live and some good alternative political comedy and satire.

Ben Elton has made some interesting points on how while the BBC were happy to poke gentle fun at the Church of England in shows such as the Vicar of Dibley, jokes about Islam were deemed unacceptable.

I think he has it spot on when he says

"I think the concept that faith in itself is a good thing should be questioned from day one. There’s a presumption that if you're a religious leader you are in some way already halfway up to the moral high ground and your opinion has more relevance than anyone else's."

As someone who could describe himself as an agnostic verging towards atheism, I see no reason why we need to be deferential to any religion.

Religion to me is like politics - its there to be debated, discussed and challenged and shouldn't allowed to be set to one side because someone feels uncomfortable about having their openly held beliefs debated. If you're going to cast moral judgement on other people, expect to be able to stand your ground.

If you want a good example of this, check out this brilliant debate on the Life of Brian between John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark (its about 2 minutes in)

Climate change target is not radical enough

When one of the worlds leading climate change scientists starts saying that current targets are not radical enough we really should be sitting up and taking note.

James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York argues that the current targets of 450pm are not enough and may result in the collapse of the polar ice caps in hundreds rather than thousands of years.

Whats interesting and potentially very frighting is that rather than base the research on computer models, the new research includes analysis of CO2 taken from the bottom of the ocean which is millions of years old.

James Hansen was the scientist who frequently clashed with the Bush white house over what he saw as attempts to censor his work. He originally backed the 45oppm limits, but now wants this revised down to 350ppm, due to the a greater understanding of slow feedback mechanisms (as suggested by James Lovelock)

The full story can be found at Climate target is not radical enough - study

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Wouldn't it be great if all shops did this

One of the companies that I work with, Hawkins Bazaar recently had a customer come into their shop with a 24 year old credit note which they honoured and reduced her bill by £2.03.

Its just nice to know that instead of trying to grab every last penny from you (First Great Western are you listening), some companies know the value of a happy and satisfied customer.

Whatever business your are in, next time an opportunity like this presents itself, use it to keep your customer happy as they're bound to tell 5 more. Alternatively, go for the penny pinching route, be glad you made an extra couple of pounds and wave goodbye to that customer and their friends.