A Million People

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How not to mix things up in a world full of casual brushes with the truth – uncaring as to what is real and what is not. In principle it has always been the same for at least some of the population. Now, however, we have reached critical mass.

Each uncaring and unthinking person has access to weapons of war. A tweet ricochets off another tweet and spins off into another social media platform. Like a pinball machine full of pinballs, the machine gets hot and melts down.

Anger, frustration, good old-fashioned annoyance – they have nowhere they want to go except deeper into the furnace.

And the furnace spits them out. It doesn’t need them except as examples of persons. It doesn’t care about them except for whatever trace they leave behind in the the social weave.

If they all disappeared tomorrow, their loss would be calculated in loss of engagement, followers, likes, and shares.

Darkness At Noon

I was prompted to write the above to fill in some space to test a new layout in Gutenberg. The words came out and I think they in turn were prompted by Darkness At Noon that I read a few days ago. I read it over about three days in three or four sittings.

That’s unusual for me, as I often have two or three books on the go at once and take weeks, months, or longer to finish them.

That said, Darkness At Noon is a novel, so it has a pace that non-fiction books don’t have. But it is hardly much of a novel. A man is arrested, interrogated, tried, and sentenced.

But it is the arguments back and forth during the interrogation that make it memorable, wonderful and terrible, in fact.

I can’t recite it all, there is too much. But early in the back and forth, one of the characters describes a dictatorship where those in the driving seat see one person as simply one million people divided by one million.

When I say wonderful, I mean it in the sense that it homes in on essential issues. Terrible in the sense that the consequences of taking a wrong turn in these arguments can result, has resulted, in the death of millions.

When will it stop? When will the values we aspire to be carried through to the actions we take so that we, the animals, the planet, all are respected and given space to live and to breathe as befits them?

I spoke to a man yesterday who works at the university here in Cambridge. His department works on understanding the pathways of cancer. He told me that all departments in UK universities are now bottom of the list for European grant funding.

Why? Because no one in Europe wants to be involved in the unknowns of the hurdles to fund UK projects after Brexit.

His department has no idea how they are going to get the scientists to work in the department once those from the EU have to leave.

Why? Because Britain has never trained scientists to do the work.

He said that training programmes that have existed in the EU for years simply do not exist in the UK. Why? Because the UK has been able to choose from scientists from the EU who are eager to work in the UK with its front-line work.

How long will it take to train UK scientists to do the work? It will take years.

Britain is being pushed towards revolution. I don’t care whether it is Left or Right. I care that the balance of the day (to borrow a wonderful phrase from Camus) is not disturbed by deranged minds with grand scheming ideas.

Supreme Court On Trump’s Third Travel Ban

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Remember the back and forth over the legality of President Trump’s travel ban?

Trump said it was not a travel ban that targeted muslims but a ban that targeted countries that might send people who posed a risk to the USA.

No one bought that argument because of what he had said previously and because the countries affected were Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela – most of which are countries with majority muslim populations.

Courts ruled against the legality of the ban, and the Trump Administration re-crafted the wording. Courts ruled against that and the Trump Administration re-crafted the wording of the ban again. It is that third iteration that went before the Supreme Court.

What happened in the end?

The Supreme Court first decided that it would proceed as though it had jurisdiction to decide the case even though the granting of visas are matters of sovereignty, and might therefore be seen as being beyond review.

To me that reads like a decision to trundle along and see whether they hit any bumps in the road to their substantive decision. In the end they rule with the Administration, which is unlikely to challenge their jurisdiction, so the court gets home safe and dry.

The substantive decision:

In a 5–4 decision the Supreme Court ruled that the third iteration of the travel ban does not exceed the president’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act and that ban does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

A win for the Administration.

The dissenting voices said that whatever the wording of the ban, when viewed together with what was spoken about by the President and the Administration about the intent of President Trump’s travel ban, it was clearly not about security but about religion.

The question for me is what the practical consequences have been? What is actually happening in terms of who can and cannot get into the country and in terms of who is trying or no longer trying to get in?