Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 28 June 2013

Ian Brady, "madness" and the "justice system"

I cannot help but feel that the outcome of the "hearing" this week to decide upon the "sanity" (or otherwise) of Ian Brady, aka "The Moors Murderer" was pre-ordained even before it began.

Quite frankly, the reporting of his utterances before the hearing revealed him to be a very sad individual, but I think that it is stretching it a very great deal to say they revealed him to be "mad" and that he needs continuing medical "treatment". Nevertheless, I watched this evening a testimony from someone at Ashworth Hospital saying that he was indeed "mad" and that he was to be consigned, "for the foreseeable future", to the tender mercies of his "carers" at that "institution". My own view is that if he truly wishes no longer to ingest sustenance, liquid or solid, then he should be left to follow this path and "starve himself to death".

Obviously I do not set myself up as an expert on "madness", although I think I can fairly say that I know "evil" when I see it. I do not believe Ian Brady is "mad", but I do think him an irremediably "evil" individual - if he wishes to starve himself to death then I see absolutely no reason why we (as a nation) should prevent him from doing so. My considered view is that he should be returned to the normal prison system and that we should let nature take its course whilst, of course, protecting Ian Brady from victimisation by other prisoners, or indeed prison personnel and offering him continuing nourishment if he wishes to ingest it. If he chooses not to eat, or drink fluids, that is his affair. Other than this I have no other interest in the matter.

In summary, I think the decision to return him to Ashworth Hospital has been taken purely to avoid outraging what is perceived to be the wider "public opinion" (which is highly questionable) or perhaps offending the relatives of his victims. As he is not "immortal", his demise will occur in coming days/years whatever anyone decides - I see no useful purpose in delaying this, whilst obviously I would deplore any pro-active actions to hasten its occurrence.

The question society needs to ask itself is:
When does "punishment" (justified) morph into "pointless vengeance"? I think I have made my own views on this matter sufficiently clear.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

RSS Feed Readers and life after Google Reader closes down

Anyone who uses Google Reader on a PC/laptop/netbook or on a smartphone to follow blogs and [news] websites of interest cannot fail to be aware that Google plans to close the service down at the end of this month. They (Google) say few[er] people now use RSS feed readers and that anyway in the age of mobile devices and in particular the emergence and explosive growth of 'social media' they are no longer so useful.

Whilst I may find their reasoning curious and 'wrong', it is obviously a commercial decision and as they provided the service for free, no doubt they have calculated carefully the costs/benefits of keeping it going as opposed to closing it down.

I started using an RSS feed reader many years before Google Reader was launched. I used Bloglines and the website is at bloglines.com and even after the launch of Google Reader much preferred Bloglines - the interface seemed 'cleaner' somehow. However, nothing remains static and Bloglines was taken over by Merchant Circle who, although they have fortunately maintained the service its look and feel changed somewhat. So like millions of others I gradually came to rely on Google Reader more and more and once I had adjusted the 'dashboard' to suit me better almost ceased using Bloglines on a regular basis and stopped maintaining my feed subscriptions there, so they have tended to become a bit out of date. An advantage of Google Reader is that in recent times, after I started using a smartphone, I could 'sync' my feeds on an app there using the mobile version of Google Reader, but as this is also going to close have converted this to an app called 'gReader' which the developers say will continue even after Google Reader closes.

However, I took the opportunity ahead of Google Reader closing to export my current feeds there back to Bloglines to update it. Similarly, on my smartphone I downloaded the Feedly app and it 'synced' automatically all my Google Reader feeds and I must say I find the Feedly platform a very attractive one, so much so that I have now installed it on my laptops (the website link is http://www.feedly.com) as well and everything seems to 'sync' very smoothly between my smartphone and laptop, just in the same seamless way that Google Reader does at present.

In summary I have more or less prepared for the day when Google Reader ceases to exist and think that whilst I will mainly be using Feedly for its ease of use and synchronisation between mobile and laptop platforms, I will keep my Bloglines subscriptions going, too, if only as back-up.