7 Apr 2010

Philip Pullman on the Freedom to be Offensive

At the 2010 Oxford Literature Festival, on the early afternoon of Palm Sunday, March 28th, in Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre, Philip Pullman gave a talk on his book "The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ".

The last Questioner of the session quietly asked (paraphrased) :

"To call the son of god a scoundrel is an awful & offensive thing to say"

To which, the author calmly replied :

"Yes it was a shocking thing to say, and I knew it was a shocking thing to say.
But no one has the right to live without being shocked.
No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended.
Nobody has to read this book.
Nobody has to pick it up.
Nobody has to open it.

And if they open it and read it, they don't have to like it.
And if you read it and dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it.
You can write to me.
You can complain about it.
You can write to the publishers, to the papers,
You can write your own book.
You can do all those things.

But there your rights stop.
No one has the right to stop me writing this book.
No one has the right to stop it being published, sold, or bought, or read.
And that's all I have to say on that subject."

And there was much applause.


Thanks to BRFUK blog.

6 Apr 2010

Hypnotherapy cures irritable bowel syndrome symptoms

Hypnotherapy seems to be very effective for easing the distressing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and in a goodly proportion of cases, clears up symptoms altogether, reveal experts during a wide ranging discussion of the condition in a Frontline Gastroenterology podcast.

Excluding certain foodstuffs may help alleviate symptoms, but usually only for a while, says Professor Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology. That's because dietary measures don't tackle the root cause of the symptoms - an overly sensitised gut. One of the best ways to do that is to use hypnotherapy, he says.

His experience of using hypnotherapy in the first 100 IBS patients treated with it showed that it significantly improved symptoms in nine out of 10 of them. It stopped symptoms altogether in four out of 10, while the remainder said they felt more in control of their symptoms. "To be frank, I have never looked back," he says.


A strange brain-gut interaction that warrants some more invstigating. Even the prof was shocked, but go with it!

CIA report into propaganda techniques to gain Afghan war support in Western Europe

This classified CIA analysis from March, outlines possible PR-strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. After the dutch government fell on the issue of dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF-mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany's standing in the NATO. The memo is a recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential / No Foreign Nationals.

CIA memo.

A World Beyond Belief Aggregated