Monday, March 10, 2014

Quotes on unity





Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quotes about change

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
- Lao Tzu

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
― Barack Obama

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tsu

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers - but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault, because if you wanted to change you're the one who has got to change.”
― Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large -- I contain multitudes.”
― Walt Whitman

“Change yourself. Lo, the world is already changed!”
- Sri Chinmoy

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”
― Sophocles, Antigone

“One of the main faults of a fool is that he never changes his mind. ”
- Sri Chinmoy

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
― Socrates

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”
― Helen Keller

“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

“Either way, change will come. It could be bloody, or it could be beautiful. It depends on us.”
― Arundhati Roy


Monday, November 18, 2013

Positive aspects of the First World War

Despite the undoubted tragedy of World War One, there were some more positive developments, such as leaving a legacy which sought to avoid future war. There were also glimpses that amidst the carnage and unnecessary slaughter, humanity can still retain a certain dignity and aspiration for higher ideals.

These are some of the positive aspects of the First World War

League of Nations

The First World War was a colossal failure of the pre-war 'balance of power' theory. Given the war, Woodrow Wilson envisaged that in the future conflicts could be settled through diplomacy and an international organisation devoted to global peace. The League of Nations came into being at the end of the war with the aim of preventing future war. Many consider it to be a failure because it didn't prevent the Second World War; it was also severely weakened by major countries, like the US, not joining. But, it was important from a symbolic point of view. It raised the ideal of international co-operation and was the forerunner of the United Nations.

Fourteen points of Woodrow Wilson

As well as the League of Nations, Woodrow Wilson sought to promote a just peace, through his idealistic 14 points. This included the right of nations to self-determination and an end to Empire building. Wilson's idealism was severely curtailed by other allies, who were less forgiving and unwilling to give up their Empires. But, the ideal of self-determination has increasingly become an important idea throughout the Twentieth Century.

Greater acceptance of women

Before the war, the suffragette movement had largely failed to convince society that women should play an active role in society. The war gave an opportunity for women to take on previously men-only jobs. The war proved a significant factor in giving women the vote in 1919 and helped change social attitudes towards women forever.

Greater respect for workers

In the First World War, the industrial battle was as important as the actual fighting. Countries gave greater importance to the welfare of munitions workers, trade unions gained in acceptance. In the First World War ironically led to several gains for the poorest in society. When landlords pushed up rents, there was a popular backlash against the war profiteers. Lloyd George personally intervened and promised rents would be regulated by the government. The first rent control act was implemented in the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act of 1915. It was supposed to be temporary, but in 1920, the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act 1920 was passed.

Fraternising with the enemy

From a political perspective, countries became implacable enemies. But, to the soldiers in the trenches, they often saw the human kinship with their fellow soldiers. The Christmas truce of the First World War is tragically poignant in showing how the two sides could fraternise and seek a personal friendship, despite their military orders to kill others. The Christmas truce wasn't just an isolated incident. This respect for the individual soldier on the other side could sometimes be seen on many fronts. In Gallipoli, the allied troops came to respect the courage and honour of their Turkey counterpart.
"there was no bitterness at all. There's many a German who helped our wounded people down the communication trenches, even carried them down. There was no hatred between the forces. Although we were shooting at one another."
- Private Harold Startin, Forgotten Voices of the Somme' - Joshua Levine.
"You didn't hate them as individuals, no, no, you felt sorry for them."
- Corporal Wilfred Woods Forgotten voices of the Somme - Joshua Levine. Many soldiers on both sides developed an attitude of 'live and let live' - periods where they would try and avoid killing the soldiers a few hundred yards in other trenches. The Generals and politicians on both sides hated this 'live and let attitude' and the bitterness of future battles often ended these periods of calm. But, it was a reminder that even supposed enemies, can at times find a shared humanity.

Friendship of the war

Despite the unimaginable hardships and tragedies of the war, some soldiers say it gave them something they never had in peacetime. Soldiers say the horror of the war, created unique friendships between soldiers and officers thrown together. Soldiers say how in the front line, class divisions broke down; they were all in together. The bond between fellow man was a unique experience.

Unexpected Courage

Soldiers on both sides showed frequently showed the qualities of courage and steadfast loyalty to their cause. But, courage wasn't just in fighting, but also standing up for one's principles. For example, British nurse Edith Cavell, executed for 'spying' after helping Allied soldiers to escape Belgium.

Conscientious objection to war

Conscientious objectors on both sides were executed for refusing to fight. They were courageous in standing up for their principles. For example, Bertrand Russell was jailed for his opposition to the First World War.

A greater awareness of the horrors of war

At the outbreak of war, there was widespread enthusiasm on all sides. Men rushed to join the armies in an outbreak of patriotic fever. Both sides felt that 'God was on their side' and they would be victorious by Christmas. However, the stalemate and ongoing horrors of war led to many men to question why they were fighting. War poets, such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Vera Brittain left a strong anti-war literature which has influenced later generations. The massed cemeteries of Flanders stand as stark reminders of the tragic consequences of war.

By the end of the war, many soldiers had been awakened to the futility and horrors of war. These days, people have perhaps become more critical of any rush to war. When the UK and US took part in the invasion of Iraq, during 2003, millions of people protested against their own countries involvement. It is much more difficult for politicians to play the patriotism card and expect everyone to join in the war.

German militarism was defeated

Given the widespread scale of death and destruction, it is possible to forget why the First World War was fought in the first place. Britain went to war, with some reluctance. Liberals in the cabinet, like Lloyd George initially opposed Britain joining a European war, but the invasion of Belgium changed his mind and he felt Britain needed to fight to protect Belgian independence. If Germany had defeated Belgium and France, modern Europe would have been dominated by a militaristic German who would have treated conquered nations as vassal states.


Book Cover

Forgotten Voices of the Somme at


Sunday, September 29, 2013

People who died for their faith

Many people have shown tremendous courage to stand up for their beliefs - even at the cost of their lives. These are some people who died for their faith or their belief.

Thomas A Beckett (1118-70) - Archbishop of Canterbury who infuriated King Henry II by placing the Church above the King. Beckett was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on the indirect orders of the King.
Thomas More (1478 - 1535) Leading servant to King Henry VIII - Eventually beheaded for his refusal to accept Henry VIII's rejection of the Catholic Church and Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Joan of Arc -(1412 – 1431) Joan of Arc received Divine messages which helped the Dauphin of France to drive out the English from parts of France. She was arrested for her 'heterodox religious beliefs'. She was burnt at the stake for refusing to recant her experiences and communion with God.

The Oxford Martyrs - Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, and the Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. They were burned at the Stake in Oxford 1555 for refusing to renounce their Protestant faith and accept the Roman Catholic faith of Queen Mary I.
Saint Peter (? - 65 AD), The leading apostle of Jesus Christ. Legend says he was crucified upside-down by the Romans. He asked to be crucified upside down so as not to copy the crucifixion of Jesus. Maximilian Kolbe (1894- 1941) A Polish Franciscan friar. He was arrested by the Nazi's for sheltering refugees, from the Nazi's. He was executed at Auschwitz concentration camp after volunteering to take the place of a man who feared death.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (1906 - 1945) A German Lutheran Pastor who was a leading opponent of Hitler and the Nazis. He was eventually arrested and died in a concentration camp before the end of the war.
William Tyndale (1494–1536 ) was one of the first persons to print the Bible in English. Executed for blasphemy after years of avoiding capture.
Mansoor Al-Hallaj (858 – 922) A Sufi mystic who practised mysticism and preached a radical philosophy based on his spiritual experiences. Al-Hallaj claimed that in his mystical experiences he realised that 'I am the Truth'. He was sentenced to death for blasphemy, but during a prolonged execution, he retained his equanimity and faith.
Thich Quang Duc, (1897 - 1963) was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. He burnt himself to death (self-immolation) at an intersection in Saigon on June 11, 1963. He was protesting about the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.

Other selected Christian Martyr's
  • St. Stephen as recorded in the Acts 6:8–8:3, the first Christian Martyr.
  • James the Great (Son of Zebedee) was beheaded in 44 A.D.
  • Philip the Apostle was crucified in 54 A.D.
  • Matthew the Evangelist killed with a halberd in 60 A.D.
  • James the Just, beaten to death with a club after being crucified and stoned.
  • Matthias was stoned and beheaded.
  • Saint Andrew, St. Peter's brother, was crucified.
  • Saint Mark was dragged in the streets until his death
  • Edith Stein (Carmelite nun, died at Auschwitz), 1942

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Quotes on peace

World peace can be acheived
When, in each person,
The power of love
Replaces the love of power.

- Sri Chinmoy


Chasing after the world
Brings chaos.
Allowing it all to come to me
Brings peace.

- Zen Gatha


Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.

- Thich Nhat Hanh.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

French people

A selection of famous French people who made a lasting contribution to the world. See also: list of famous French people

gaulle  Charles de Gaulle. (1890 - 1970) Leader of the Free French during WWII. Helped maintain French pride after the abject surrender of the French army and the creation of Vichy France. Led France out of Algeria after a bloody conflict. Repaid his thanks to the British by saying Non to British membership of the EEC.
Joan of Arc. (1412-1431) A young peasant girl, Joan of Arc helped inspire the French to throw off the British occupation. Burnt at the stake by the Church for heresy.
writer Voltaire (1694 – 1778), was a French writer, essayist, and philosopher known for his wit, satire, and defence of civil liberties. He sought to defend freedom of religious and political thought and played a major role in the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century
Napoleon. (1769 – 1821) A French military and political leader. He safeguarded aspects of the French revolution by assuming control of France. He launched military campaigns across Europe making France the dominant power in Europe and helping to spread certain ideas of the French revolution, such as his Napoleonic code.
Marie Curie. (1867-1934) Great scientist who helped discover radiation. Helping to implement many X-ray machines during the first World War. Won the Nobel Prize for both Chemistry and Biology.

Abbe Pierre (1912 – 2007) French Catholic priest. He was a member of the resistance during WWII. After the work, he became involved in humanitarian charities - especially Emmaus which sought to help the homeless.
Coco-Chanel Coco Chanel. (1883-1971) One of the most innovative fashion designers, Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. She was particularly influential in the 1920s, where she helped define new ideas about the clothes women could wear.

Marie Antoinette (1755 - 1793) Wife of King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette is often held up as a symbol of Royal decadence and profligacy, which sparked the French revolution. Whether fair or not, she was executed in 1793 for treason and holding principles in opposition to the French revolution.
artist Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) - French impressionist painter. Monet was the leading impressionist of the Nineteenth / early Twentieth Century. His paintings, such as Waterlilies, were highly influential in the development of modern art.
artist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) French post-impressionist painter. Famous paintings include The Card Players, Still life with a curtain.
artist August Renoir (1841–1919) French painter, one of the early pioneers of Impressionism. Also influenced by Italian renaissance. Famous works include Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, On the Terrace.

Jean Monnet (1888 – 1979) was a French statesman who played a key role in founding the Coal and Steel pact which helped improve relations between France and Germany. In 1955, Monnet founded the action committee for the United States of Europe. His successfully lobbying led to the creation of the EEC 'Common Market' in 1958.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Top 10 French Artists

Jaz de Bouffan - 1876

A list of the greatest French artists and painters:

artist Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)  - Impressionist painter. The term impressionism stemmed from Monet's influential work 'Impression, Sunrise' (Impression, Soleil Levant). Monet's paintings frequently depicted nature in impressionist style.
artist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) - Post-impressionist painter. Began his career in the impressionist mould but developed new innovative styles, providing a bridge between Nineteenth Century art and the cubist / modern art of Twentieth Century.
artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Post-impressionist painter, who contributed to the growth of avant-garde painting. Gauguin had a temperamental relationship with Van Gogh
artist August Renoir  (1841–1919) Impressionist painter. Renoir played a key role in the development of impressionist painter. He was attracted to depicting human beauty and scenes of human society.
artist Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) Impressionist and post-impressionist painter. A very influential figure for both impressionists and the new generation of post-impressionist painters.
artist Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Considered a forerunner of impressionism. He preferred the term 'realist' Degas was interested in depicting movement in art.
artist Édouard Manet (1832–1883) Manet contributed to the schools of 'Realism' and 'Impressionism' - playing a key role in the transformation of impressionism and modern art.
artist Charles-François Daubigny (1817–1878) Traditional landscape painter who was also seen as an important precursor to impressionism.
artist Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) Romantic painter, inspired by the Venetian Renaissance painters and Rubens.
artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) Painter and sculptor associated with Dadaism.

Lived in France

artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) - Post-impressionist painter noted for boldness and vivid paintings.  Born in the Netherlands, he lived many years in France.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Quotes about revolutions

“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.”
― Bob Marley

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.”
― Thomas Jefferson

“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”
― Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
― John F. Kennedy

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.
- John Dickinson, The Liberty Song.

A great revolution is never the fault of the people, but of the government.
- Goethe, Conversations with Goethe, 1824.

    A non-violent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War, 1948.
The history of all hitherto existing society  is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master  and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
- Communist Manifesto, Engels and Marx

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Working Men of All Countries, Unite!
- Communist Manifesto

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
― Patrick Henry

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
― Thomas Paine

“But I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is... to tell the truth.”
― Howard Zinn, Marx in Soho: A Play on History

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.
- Che Guevara

“Little by little, the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him.”
― Jennifer Donnelly, On French Revolution

O God! that one might read the book of fate,
And see the revolutions of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent
Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
Into the sea!
    William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II (c. 1597-99)

Explorers from the golden ages of exploration

The USS Vincennes, one of the ships of the Ex. Ex., visiting Antarctica in 1840. (credit: US Navy)

The Elizabethan age of exploration - 15th, 16th Century

This period from the 15th to 17th Century was perhaps the most important era of exploration. It laid the seeds of globalisation as Europe discovered the Americas, the Indian continent and made the first circumnavigation of the world. This age of discovery came about for a few reasons
  • The fall of Constantinople made trade with Asia across land very difficult. There was an incentive for Europeans to find direct sea routes to the India continent. This was first achieved by the Portuguese Vasco de Gama in 1498, when he arrived in Calicut, India.
  • A wealth of Europe. European countries, like Spain, Portugal, Holland and England became increasingly wealthy and good afford to fund exploration. In addition, these explorations became quite profitable due to trade and/or plundering of raw materials. The Spanish monarchy funded Christopher Colombus in 1492 to travel to America.
  • Christian missionary movement. Part of the motive for exploration was to share the principles of Christianity and convert 'heathen pagans'
  • Empire rivalry. One of the biggest motivations was to extend the political, military and political power of the European nations by claiming parts of the 'new world.' For example, one of England's most famous explorers Sir Walter Raleigh was executed after fighting the Spanish.
  • Improvements in technology which enabled longer sea journeys.

The dark side of the age of exploration.

The age of exploration could also be called the age of exploitation. European voyages paved the way for the conquest of American countries. The age of exploration was also tied up with the growth in the slave trade. Notable explorers like Sir Francis Drake were closely tied up with the slave trade. (Drake was also considered a pirate by the Spanish). Many native inhabitants suffered from the coming of Europeans, due to the transfer of infectious diseases, slavery or loss of freedom.

On the positive side, the age of exploration helped widen horizons (proving the world wasn't flat) and beginning the evolutionary movement towards a global world.

The Heroic Age of exploration - Polar regions

In the late Nineteenth Century / early Twentieth Century, there was the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. Many voyages were undertaken with only limited equipment, but this enabled a great improvement in knowledge about the Antarctic continent. The most famous explorations of this period were led by
  • Ernest Shackleton.British Antarctic Expedition 1907 (Nimrod Expedition)
  • Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole in 1911.
  • Robert F Scott's - Antarctic expedition of 1910-11 - which led to death of all five members, close to the South Pole
  • Ernest Shackleton - Endurance 1914-17 - First transcontinental crossing attempt

Other great periods of exploration

  • Space Exploration 1950s and 1960s
  • Marco Polo's journeys to Asia in the 13th Century
  • African explorations of the Nineteenth Century. Led by David Livingstone's attempt to find the source of the Nile, the late Nineteenth Century saw a 'dash for Africa'

Is professional cycling clean or is doping still prevalent?

After the Festina scandal of 1998, the scope of drug taking within the sport of procycling was exposed. But, the opportunity to clean up the sport was not taken. The next year 1999, Festina rider Richard Virenque (who had finally admitted to taking a cocktail of drugs) was still able to make the startline. There was no lengthy ban. The incentive to cheat was still there. Like many other drug cheats he was welcomed back by supporters and riders alike

In 1999, the one rider who everybody admitted was clean in the Festina team was talented Christopher Bassons. However, when Bassons publically stated doping was still a problem in the sport. He got bullied by race leader Lance Armstrong - live during a stage. A tearful Basson was ignored by the peleton for breaking the Omerta. He later quit the Tour de France and retired.

In that Tour, Lance Armstrong failed a dope test for Cortiscoids. But, producing a back dated prescription (contrary to the rules) he was  allowed to win and claim victory. Despite a year after the Festina scandal no-one wanted to hear about drug stories. The Lance recovery from cancer to win the Tour was seen as a miraculously good sports story. Armstrong went onto win seven consecutive tour de France wuns. Despite growing evidence if doping, Armstrong was the boss and he was able to avoid any scrutiny as journalists needed access to the man who sold more papers than any doping story.

Fast forward to 2012, and the USADA report into Lance Armstrong produced 100+ pages detailing the extent and depth of doping within the US postal team. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles and there was widespread anger about the extent and nature of cheating within the sport.
It wasn't just Lance Armstrong who was doping, numerous other winners and riders were implicated - either failing dope tests or admitting to having doped in their career.

In 2010, Team Sky was set up hoping to win the Tour de France with a clean rider.

In 2011, Bradley Wiggins won after dominating in the two time trials. In 2012, Chris Froome won the Tour de France. His dominating performances in the mountains were subject to intense scrutiny. With the press repeatedly questionning the validity of his performances.

In response Froome calmly replied he was clean. Team Sky also offered to offer their power data to WADA - the world's anti doping agency.

David Walsh, the journalist who sought to expose Lance Armstrong's doping was allowed to follow Team Sky around for 2013. Despite being initially sceptical and criticial of Team Sky's decision to hire former Rabobank doctor (Gert Leinders), Walsh came to the conclusion that Froome's performances were credible and that there were big differences between Team Sky and US Postal

  • Test for EPO which has caught riders
  • Biological passport which looks for evidence of blood manipulation
  • Changed atmosphere in the peleton. The days of bullying riders who speak against doping is hard to imagine. Riders, such as Kittel, have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to doping.
  • No evidence from former employees of Team Sky (unlike US postal where there was a steady drop of former mechanics, riders coming out to say doping was endemic in the team)
  • Greater transparency in allowing access to team and data.
  • Froome was tested 19 times during the tour.
  • According to Ross Tucker of the sports science institute at the University of Cape Town,  the power-to-weight ratio of today's top riders is lower than in the EPO era.
    "In the late 1990s and early 2000s if you were going to be competitive and win the Tour de France you would have to be able to cycle between 6.4 and 6.7 watts per kilogram at the end of a day's stage.
    "What we are seeing now, in the last three or four years, is that the speed of the front of the peloton [of] men like Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali, is about 10% down compared to that generation and now the power output at the front is about 6W/kg." (Are drug free cyclists slower?)
Some remain sceptical, frequently over the years and there has been good reason to be sceptical after a series of cyclists have later proved to have doped. However, there is good reason to feel the sport is cleaner than before.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Funny quotes on democracy

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

— Winston Churchill

"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."

- Oscar Wilde

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

— B.Franklin

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

― H.L. Mencken

"Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear."

— Alan Coren

"Democracy means that anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be vice president."

— J. Carson

"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time."

— E.B. White

"Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage."

— H.L. Mencken

“You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”

— Jon Stewart

"Two Cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three."

— E. M. Forster, "What I Believe", 1938

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

— George Bernard Shaw


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Top 10 Sportsman of All Time

muhammad ali
If you want to start a good debate, why not try to choose the top 10 sportsman of all time. There are so many to choose from it becomes very subjective. But, here are 10 sportsmen who were outstanding at their sport and also great personalities.

  1. Muhammad Ali At his peak, Muhammad Ali was undoubtedly the greatest boxer of his generation. But, Muhammad Ali didn't just beat his opponents and become a world champion. He became a world champion with great style and capturing the imagination of the public. His career would have been much greater, if it wasn't curtailed by his decision to refuse to fight in Vietnam.
  2. Pele. During his career, Pele scored over a 1,000 professional goals. He was instrumental in the success of the Brazilian national football team - from his world cup debut in 1958 to the historic Brazilian win in 1970. Pele stands as a symbol for the best traditions of football - the world's most universal and accessible sport.
  3. Eddy Merckx. Eddy Merckx was the greatest cyclist of all time. His scope of victories were breathtaking. From five Tour de France victories to all the great one day classic. Merckx broke the world hour record, was world champion and won the Giro d'Italia five times and the Vuelta a Espana once. True, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times, but he could never match the breadth and scope of Merckx in one of the world's most gruelling sports.
  4. Carl Lewis - 10 Olympic golds over three different disciplines - 100m, 200m and the long jump.
  5. Roger Federer. Greatest tennis player, holding record for most grand slam titles.
  6. Babe Ruth. Greatest baseball player of the twentieth century.
  7. Donald Bradman. The most dominant batsmen in Cricket. Finishing his career with close to 100. Other batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar have scored more runs, but none have ever dominated the bowling as much as Donald Bradman
  8. Haile Gebrselassie. Greatest distance runner of his generation. Gebreselassi won Olympic gold at 10,000m in both 1996 and 2000. He also won four world titles. Towards the end of his career he broke the world marathon record twice in 2007 and 2008. Still running in his 40s, Gebreselassie is also great ambassador for the sport.
  9. Jesse Owens. Olympic medalist in 1936 Olympics. Jesse Owens helped to smash Hitler's pride in the superiority of Aryan race. Despite racial discrimination at home, Owens always carried himself with great digniity.
  10. Usain Bolt In smashing the world record at the blue ribband events of 100m and 200m in such style, Usain has already established himself as the fastest man on the planet. He went on to repeat his Beijing feats winning Olympic gold at London.
Who would you nominate for most inspiring sportsman?


Monday, June 3, 2013

Most influential philosophers

(BC) 1. SocratesSocrates was influential for creating the 'Socratic diaglogue' Socrates taught his pupils to think for themselves and always challenge conventional wisdoms. Socrates showed the practical benefits of philosophy by remaining calm and detached when faced with his own death. Socrates' philosophy had an underlying spiritual dimension with his philosophy challenging people to know who they really are.

writer 2. Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) Dubbed the father of modern philosophy, Descartes was influential in a new rationalist movement. The importance of Descartes was that he was willing to challenge previous beliefs - even the existence of God. At the time, this was very radical, and Descartes' books were put on the list of books banned by the Vatican. By allowing people to question previous assumed realities, Descartes opened up a new dimension to philosophy.

3. Tom Paine (1737- 1809 ) Thomas Paine was an influential philosopher because of the impact he had on the American revolution. His short books 'Common Sense' (1776) and the Rights of Man (1791) supported the principles of revolution and republicanism. This was very influential in overturning the prevailing view of the 'Divine right of monarchs'

writer 4. Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) Political philosopher. His book Leviathan (1651) which expounded the idea of a social contract and had a big bearing on western political thought. Hobbes' importance was the growing influence of democratic ideas in politics.

writer 5. Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180) - Roman Emperor and philosopher. Aurelius gave practical wisdom and a stoic outlook on life.

writer6. Confucius 551–479 BCE Chinese philosopher and author of The Analects. Confucius was hugely influential in China and Asia. His philosophy laid down a framework and morality for governance and the rule of the state.

writer7. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) - Aristotle became the leading figure of science and philosophy for many centuries. His scientific works and ethics were the source of much early Western thought.

writer8. David Hume (1711 – 1776) - Scottish enlightenment philosopher. Hume was an important empiricist and skeptic. Hume had a great influence over philosophers's such as Immanuel Kant. Hume was a free thinker who questioned the religious beliefs of his time and proved hard to pin down.

writer9. J. S. Mill (1806 – 1873) - J.S. Mill was a utilitarian philosopher, but his greatest contribution to political philosophy came with his work 'On Liberty' By clearly stating the principle of individual liberty in the face of state involvement, Mill stressed one of the most important principles of 20th Century democracy.

writer10. Thomas Acquinas (1225 – 1274) Influential Roman Catholic priest, philosopher and theologian.

writer11. Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) Karl Marx created the philosophy of Marxims and the strident criticism of capitalist society. Marx created a philosophy which was to challenge Capitalist societies in many ways.

writerVoltaire (1694 – 1778) - French philosopher and critic. Best known for his work Candide (1762) which epitomises his satire and criticisms of social convention.

writerMary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) - Feminist, author. Her work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) was an early defence of womens' rights. An influential figure in feminism and the campaign to give women the right to vote.

writerThomas Jefferson (1743- 1826) Third president of the US. Principle author of the Declaration of Independence. Passed law on religious tolerance in his state of Virginia and laid principles of democratic government in America.