It's very possibly a landmark moment in your life when, as a user and supporter of Wikipedia, you do your first edit on the site. This was Oxzen's yesterday:
“And think not that you can direct the course of love,
If it finds you worthy, directs your course”
(Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet)
“And think not that you can direct the course of love,
For love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course”
Interestingly this stanza was quoted by Oxzen in Layer 38 – Licence To Kill.
Also in Layer 38 there was a mention of the film “Waltz With Bashir”.
On a site called Wikirank it's possible to see that: The Wikipedia page for Waltz with Bashir was viewed 25,487 times in the last 30 days. http://wikirank.com/en/Waltz_with_Bashir
That's pretty amazing, I reckon. Unbelievable in fact.
Yesterday I followed through with my rediscovery of The Prophet on Wikilivres and took a look at the phenomenon that is Wikilivres:
“This site has more than 3,000 books and documents, and 1,000 images in 8,817 pages from more than 550 authors.
This site does not belong to the Wikimedia Foundation.”
The first thing I saw on that site was the Autobiography of Gandhi. Two hours previously I'd been putting some books away, noticed my copy of that particular book, and thought to myself I really must get round to finishing reading it.
From there I stumbled across Wikisource:
Wikisource is an online library of free content publications, collected and maintained by our community. We now have 131,271 texts in the English language library.
I had a very quick browse on the site and found a page for Keir Hardie's "Can a Man be a Christian on a Pound a Week?" which has nothing at all on it.There are, however, lots of brilliant things there by Bertrand Russell, for example, whose superb autobiography I read many years ago.
I'm now going to get round to reading the following:
Sadly the following aren't yet available:
I have my own copy of Unpopular Essays, so I guess I could start typing it on to Wikisource, or I could get help from friends who can copy-type quickly.. In it there are chapters called Philosophy and Politics, The Future of Mankind, The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish, The Functions of a Teacher, Ideas that have Helped Mankind, and Ideas that have Harmed Mankind.
This is the one chapter from it that's currently available:
Everybody should have access to the genius of Bertrand Russell, philosopher and pacifist.
These days he'd have a site called Unpopular Blogs.
Google Books has been in the news a lot recently,
“Google yesterday launched a staunch defence of its plans to become the world’s librarian and bookseller. The internet giant is in the middle of a project to scan and index the world’s literary heritage. It has already digitised more than 10 million volumes in more than 100 languages and has agreements with libraries around the world to scan millions more.
Google says that the project will make a treasure trove of forgotten and out-of-print books available to anyone with an internet connection. Critics say that mankind’s “last library” should not be in the hands of a commercial enterprise.”
This court case is being discussed on the Today programme as I'm about to post this blog. (9.48am)
The guy from Google is pointing out that the bulk of the books Google is aiming to put on line are out of print. He says publishers allow books to go out of print much more quickly these days. He thinks everyone should have instant access to everything ever written.
The film of Flight 93 was shown twice on More Four last night, and the main page of Wikisource currently features:
"The Flight 93 Cockpit Transcript records the final conversations aboard United Airlines Flight #93, one of four airlines hijacked on 11 September 2001"
Should I be pedantic and change 'airlines' to 'aeroplanes' or 'airplanes'?
It's incredible to think that this transcript begins at 9.31am and ends a mere half an hour later at 10.03am, with the words “Allah is greatest”.
Licence to kill, indeed.
It's incredible that so many people in this world believe they know 'God's will' and in the name of their God commit terrible murders and atrocities.
Other people just kill in their own names, because they're badly fucked up. Thursday's Guardian carried a report on two young men, or boys, who planned to slaughter people in their home town, Denton, and in their school - imitating the Columbine atrocities on the 10th anniversary of the killings, for insane reasons of their very own.
"Two disaffected teenagers who had a fascination with violence plotted to bomb their school in Manchester and shoot as many pupils as they could to mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbine high school massacre, a court was told today.“Two kids enraged by the corruption of this world. Depression, sadness, rage, hate, deceit.”
Matthew Swift, 18, and Ross McKnight, 16, planned to blow up a busy shopping centre in the city and then attack Audenshaw high school, shooting students and staff before killing themselves, Manchester crown court heard.
They were arrested by police in March, a month before they allegedly planned to carry out the attack, which they had nicknamed Project Rainbow.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said they had agreed to copy the Columbine school killings of 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 21 others before shooting themselves.
In a diary entry, Swift wrote: "Audenshaw high will be no more. Unlike Columbine, my propane bomb will actually fucking explode and I will walk from classroom to classroom killing the fuck out of everybody, then maybe people will learn."
Swift had downloaded a photograph of Harris and Klebold taken from CCTV footage of Columbine. Underneath, he wrote: "This is my favourite picture in the whole world. To most it is just a CCTV shot of the shooters. I perceive so much more; I see depression, sadness, rage, hate, deceit. Most of all I see two kids enraged by the corruption of this world. The image is beautiful." He also wrote: "Eric and Dylan will rise again."
In an MSN message to McKnight read to court, Swift claimed Harris's spirit was reincarnated in him. He wrote of feeling supreme, and superior. "I will expose the truth, I will die for what I believe, I will fight the war. Project Rainbow will not accept defeat. I will make history."
These sorts of fruitbats are with us and all around us all the time. Recently, driving through Islington on my way down to Devon I was sitting at traffic lights, with a blinged-up Golf GTI Drugdealer Turbo waiting alongside me, slightly ahead of my car. The meanest, nastiest, dumbest-looking motherfucker I've ever seen lurched from the curb and opened the rear door of the Golf, right in front of my front wing, just as the lights turned to green. He paused, and before getting into the car this kid, or young man, stared straight into my windscreen and yelled, “Yeah? What you fucking looking at? Want some?” He'd very gladly have given some too, if I hadn't slid my eyes straight ahead. Psycho drug addled vicious fruitbat.
Down in Devon, having taken my mum into the hospital, I went to park the car and on the way back to the hospital stopped to look in the window of a shop full of strange junk and curios. A guy pushed past me, and I heard him spit. He walked a few paces up the street and then threw beer from his open can in my direction. Oddly, he then said, “Sorry mate!”, which I took to be provocative sarcasm. Just then two people came out of the shop and started pointing at him as he went away, saying something about a house full of drug addicts, as they rang 999 on a mobile. They said they'd just turfed him out of the shop, and said he was probably flicking his beer at the shopfront instead of deliberately at me. It seems I was just a casualty caught in the crossfire, as it were – collateral damage, as they say in Afghanistan. They showed me a pane of laminated glass in the shopfront that had been battered and cracked the previous day.
The questions that are usually asked in the media are, what should we do with these people, and how should we punish them? Instead of, how did they get to be this way, and did we do anything meaningful to help them and change them as they were becoming so badly messed up in childhood and teenage? The answer, in most cases, is that we did nothing, apart from process them, preach to them, punish them, and push them overboard if deemed necessary, into turbulent waters or stinking cesspools where they could sink or swim. A few of the more obvious cases are allowed to go to weekly counseling sessions with trained mental health practitioners, if they're lucky.
Someone was on the radio yesterday arguing in favour of boot camps, which may well be better than nothing at all – better than just ignoring these pathetic and vile individuals, or just locking them up. But again, there's hardly anything ever said about meeting their special needs properly from the very earliest age. Our normal response tends to be to say to them that they can either fit in or fuck off.
That's not to say there there aren't wonderful teachers, managers and support staff in places like pupil referral units doing some wonderful work – I've seen them myself and I really take my hat off to them for being able to do what they do and cope so well with the provocation and abuse they have to deal with.
But when all's said and done, these kids just get fed back into a school system whose main or only goal is to process them through to what's called academic success. In the case of these kids such success hardly ever happens, and they're well aware they're considered failures and useless. Hence the anger, disillusionment and hatred.
Also in yesterday's news was a report of a guy who'd been fed back into the world after being locked up in Broadmoor for murder, who then promptly bought himself a claw hammer, a screwdriver and a Stanley knife, battered the life out of “a friend” and proceeded to eat his brains for breakfast.
And just for good measure, also from yesterday,
Doncaster torture case: Brothers, 12 and 10, used sticks and noose on boys
Two brothers aged 12 and 10 have admitted carrying out a sustained attack on two boys in parkland in South Yorkshire during which their victims were tortured, beaten, robbed and sexually assaulted.
One of the victims, an 11-year-old boy, almost died when part of a bathroom sink was smashed against his head. He was only saved when local people went out searching after the other boy, aged nine, was found wandering a street in Edlington, on the edge of Doncaster, severely traumatised and covered in blood.
During the assault on Saturday 4 April – details of which can only be revealed now – the brothers also used a noose, lighted cigarettes, bricks and sharp ends of sticks to torment their victims.
At one point, the older victim, who was found with ligature marks around his neck, begged the brothers: "Leave me, I can't see. Leave me to die."
Today the brothers pleaded guilty at Sheffield crown court to committing grievous bodily harm, robbery, and forcing the victims to perform sexual acts on each other. Prosecutors agreed not to pursue a more serious charge of attempted murder, which the brothers denied, to avoid the necessity of a full trial in which the victims would have had to give evidence. Sentencing will take place in November.
The attack has echoes of the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 by two boys aged 10 at the time.
Today it emerged that the brothers were both known to police and social services after earlier violent incidents. On the morning of the attack they had been due to answer questions at a local police station about a separate incident a week before in which another 11-year-old boy was assaulted.
The attackers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had only been in Edlington, a former pit village, for about three weeks, living with foster parents aged in their 60s.
Layer 39, by the way, is called The Consolations of Philosophy.
Layer 38, I notice, concludes with the following, which I'm re-posting as a follow-through from this week's thoughts on the value of meditation:
It’s always good to re-read “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran from time to time.
Collins defines [the verb] “divine” as:
“To perceive or understand (something) by intuition or insight” (spiritual intelligence) and
“To discern (a hidden or future reality) as though by supernatural power”.
The whole notion of hidden realities I find very interesting. This is fertile territory for reflection and meditation. As is the whole realm of the spiritual, the metaphysical, the supernatural, if you like. This is indeed the realm of intuition and insight. Looking within, not without.
We must train ourselves to let insight pierce and illuminate the dark areas, where logic, reason and the senses cannot penetrate, since our knowledge is always so limited and so open to interpretation, since our senses often fail to make sense of what’s around us, since reason is often based on false premises.
We need these things on the school curriculum.