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About Charles

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  • Birthday 05/12/1985

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  • Location London
  1. I also appreciate that other factors besides time can determine the route one takes. In London I often get off at Embankment tube station instead of Waterloo (from which I catch a train home) and walk to Waterloo across a footbridge traversing the River Thames. In the process I get to see the full London skyline - including all the new skyscrapers that are shooting up - and the Royal Festival Hall. The image is not unlike my profile picture. There are usually a couple of Jazz musicians busking as well which makes for a pleasant crossing. Better all that then 4 minutes crammed into a sweaty tube train and a further 5 moving up escalators.
  2. Stephen's Health

    The world has lost a renaissance man. Didn't know Stephen personally, read a lot of what he wrote in these forums - learned a lot from him, was regularly inspired and had my views challenged. Haven't been to the forum in a while, just found out. To Betsy, my condolences and best wishes. Sincerely, Charles
  3. Racial Integration & Cities

    I don't want to give the impression I think integration is the yard stick by which to measure civilization and I certainly never said it was the "pinnacle of human civilisation" - we were discussing cities and what factors contribute to their greatness. My point being that perhaps integration factored in, that it was a certainly a reflection of civilization beyond a certain point, the unfortunate state of abject racism many parts of the world live in. Your clearly peeved at the British for geopolitical reasons. I wasn't looking to get into a debate about the Israeli conflict. Have you heard of the Henry Jackson Society? If your interested in people advancing that sort of agenda they're the closest thing to PNAC (Project for a New American Century) in the UK.
  4. Racial Integration & Cities

    I was having a chat with a friend last night by the river Thames in central London and we were admiring the skyline - many new skyscrapers shooting up and other amibitious projects besides. My friend commented that 'This is amazing, but it's just not on the same scale as American cities' - namely New York, and spoke of how streets lined with buildings towering above you. I've never been. The notion being discussed was roughly - what is the greatest city in the world - the pinnacle of human civilization? I challenged him - what about cohesion and integration - you look at France with its urban ghettos and Germany, where the idea that a brown skinned man of Asian descent being accepted as German is laughable. London is surely the most integrated city on the planet? I vividly described my journey out that evening where I'd seen an old white man - presumably a war vet, sitting on the tube and smiling with delight at his half-somalian grandchild bouncing on his knee. Not an uncommon sight - we have a very large, increasing mixed race population. These people generally have as much a sense of national identity as the next man does. I live on a street with a thorough mix of white, brown, black, yellow and all shades in between and besides the friendships and businesses that form roughly on lines of ancestral language/culture, there is no racial grouping - certainly not overtly. There are, however, districts in London with a heavy concentration of one group - though usually along religious lines - the orthodox Jewish community in seven sisters and strong, insular Muslim communities from which, it saddens me to say, our homegrown suicide bombers hail (the labour government is finally doing a U-turn on multiculturalism I'm glad to report). So what about America? I've heard of the Ghettos and I'm aware of a division of communities in places - certainly that there are large swathes of the south where interracial marriages are frowned upon. I haven't been though, I haven't seen it - my knowledge comes from the experiences of friends and family and from what I have read in the media/literature. My friend had travelled there and very much confirmed the picture - you had Italian Americans, African Americans (not so sure about Arab-Americans?) , and such groups readily identified as American first and their distant roots second, but you still had racial groups living in their own communities and not mixing half as much they did here - even in the big blue cities. (Perhaps San Francisco or Los Angeles are exceptions?). At any rate, I'd be interested to hear people's thought on integration - the degree you think it's happening in the US, whether it matters and what it reflects. Also, which city is the pinnacle of human civilization? Washington DC - Colbert's chocolate city with a marshmallow center & a gram-cracker crust of corruption! ? (I certainly think a degree of cultural grouping adds a bit of spice to a city - I'd miss China town! But racial/culture/religion?)
  5. Firefly (2002)

    Give me seven series of Firefly over Buffy anyday!
  6. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    can't argue with that
  7. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    I think the experimenter would have said something to the children a long the lines of 'Don't try to be clever - it probably seems as if Im stating the obvious, just answer the question anyway!'.
  8. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    the cool smiley is suppose to be a 'b'!
  9. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    I meant it in the sense that I think it a worthwhile cause. I think describing an act as 'Noble' connotates a generally undisputable sense of dignity. I would describe his actions here as noble as he goes out of his way to promote life in general through technological advancement, without getting too involved in the politics of it. I think apolitical (typically technological) actions that function to preserve life in general are pretty undisputably worthwhile. Arguably he has quite purposefully avoided the politics of it, probably - a) because he knows aid through government/direct contact with states is totally ineffective and he either doesn't have a solid political philosophy to spread, or he believes enough is being done to spread his already. I appreciate it's not a word easily reclaimed from the cold dead fingers of altruism . If you can, please offer me a better defined philosophically compatible one. I have to say with regards Africa's widespread socio-economic problems and bad government, that I think the natural pressure to tame government and develop mature institutions that comes from increased economic activity is being heavily stymied by the protectionist policies of much of the developed world. Europe in particular. NB. I don't know the specifics of it, but the Gates foundation is also running a number of educational programs in the US. Building model schools as oppose to making general but minor improvements to them all. Interestingly he doesn't take business plans/requests for donations with regards his domestic educational agenda - implying he has some firm ideas about what to do/how to do it.
  10. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    20, seems about right. Couple of interesting questions about imagination there. Nice example of severe autistic childs inability to imagine/empath in the following situation: three boxes and a ball in front of two children - one is autistic. A man puts the ball in one box, and asks the children to tell him which box the other child thinks the balls in. Each child is then asked to leave the room whilst the other stays and watches the man take the ball out of one box and put it in another. The child is then asked where the child coming back in the room thinks the ball is. The normal child points at the box the ball was originally in, the autistic child points at the box the ball was put in when the other child left - unable to comphrehend what the situation must look like from the other childs perspective.
  11. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    Ayn Rand defines altruism as the principle "that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value.'' In this sense I am strongly against altruism. However, I see nothing wrong in conscious benevolence - the personal decision to help people because you see value in doing so, you see value in them. You don't have to help, you choose to. Bill Gates & Warren Buffett may or may not be using language that plays to the dogmatic altruistic vein. I don't know - I've only read some of what they've said in speeches pertaining to this recent donation (including Gates presentation of an early copy of 'The Wealth of Nations' to Warren Buffett). I have, however, had a good look at the various programs the Gates foundation's money is going into and whilst I disagree wilth some, and would have to be convinced of others the general strategy seems good to me: They are focusing on funding technological advances. Intentionally, the advances they're pursuing disproportionately favour the poor and diseased in undeveloped parts of the world, but that's their perogative and I think it noble. They have admitted that if they tried to address the education and health problems of developing African nations their billions would just be a drop in the ocean and be of no guaranteed benefit (possibly worsening the situation if misused). In that respect solutions are very much in the hand of the people of those lands. Now, I have no doubt at all that the members of this forum think that money could be used to much greater effect and I don't disagree with you. But it's their money and their businessmen - not philosophers - if their overarching strategy was to hand blank cheques to African despots I'd be shooting the venture out of the sky. But their not, they want to help and by focusing on technological initiatives they do so without causing any cultural or philosophical damage. That doesn't mean I don't see a need for winning a cultural war against the undeveloped world - we certainly do, and it would be good to see Gates/Buffett putting some money into appropriate political/philosophical value orientated organizations (perhaps they are aside from this?). (I'd be interested to hear a response - particularly if you are dead set against the Gates foundation - it's just I can't possibly imagine why?!)
  12. Iran declares war?

    NB Amir Taheri "is a former Executive Editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper, but now lives in Europe"
  13. Iran declares war?

    The full article can be found here: Telegraph Link It's quite an eye opener, explaining what most Westerners fail to comprehend - how it is Muslim hardliners believe they can beat the West. And thanks Janet, for that succinct appraisal of the situation - it really puts it all in context.
  14. One thing I would mention is sleep. A good nights sleep can make the world of difference - and a bad nights sleep can leave you irritable, with low energy reserves for the next day - particularly if its a habit. For this I would recommend darkening your room as much as possible, not eating anything sugary immediately before bed, take measures to reduce ambient noise and perhaps even take some herbal sleeping aid such as Valerian Root. The latter is supposed to bring on sleep quicker, deepen it and allow you to wake up without grogginess the following day in a way prescribed medication doesn't. Perhaps invent some sort of a wind down ritual at the end of the day.
  15. Jokes

    A man died and found himself in hell. A guide meets him at the entrance. "You have a choice; you can go to Capitalist Hell or Communist Hell." Being a shrewd chap, he decided to survey both before deciding. He met the Capitalist Devil first, all suited up, hair greased back, and asked: "So what goes on inside Capitalist Hell?" "Ahh, well we like to boil people in oil, ram them with spikes and flail them alive." "What?! Right, that's it - I'm off to Communist Hell." Once there, he meets a Karls Marx type devil, ushering him towards the gates... "Hey, I'm not in yet - tell me, what goes on in Communist Hell?" The Marx Devil scratches his beard and says: "Well, we like to boil people in oil, ram spikes through their bodies and flail them alive." "What?! But that's just the same as Capitalist Hell?! Wait....why is there a queue?" "Ah,'ve run out of oil, there's no more spikes and the flail's broken."