Society and Politics

When you enter an empty train carriage do you choose to sit on the left or right side? Do you sit facing the direction in which the train is travelling or facing the direction from which the train is coming?
I think it is fairly clear that most people prefer to sit “facing forward” and some people claim “facing backwards” makes them ill. Observation also suggests that people also have a preference for the side of the carriage on which they sit. I have not tested this, but have observed that people prefer to sit on the left side of the carriage with their right side closest to the middle aisle. It is a matter of speculation as to why this should be the case. It may be a security instinct. I recall reading that the British originally established left hand travel on roads to allow travellers to have their right arm free to defend themselves when they passed people coming from the opposite direction. Perhaps a similar instinct makes people choose to sit on the left side of trains. Of course this would indicate that left handed people should have a preference for the right side of the carriage.
There is also a subsection of people ( I don’t know how large) who prefer to sit in one of the four corners of the carriage with their back to the carriage wall so that they are facing into the carriage. I don’t know if security, politeness or some other reason is responsible for this preference. Was it Doc Holliday who would always sit with his back to the wall facing the door when in a pub? 



Source: The Nation
Wednesday, March 06, 2013

“I first met Hugo Chávez in New York City in September 2006, just after his infamous appearance on the floor of the UN General Assembly, where he called George W. Bush the devil. “Yesterday, the devil came here,” he said, “Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.” He then made the sign of the cross, kissed his hand, winked at his audience and looked to the sky. It was vintage Chávez, an outrageous remark leavened with just the right touch of detail (the lingering sulfur!) to make it something more than bombast, cutting through soporific nostrums of diplomatese and drawing fire away from Iran, which was in the cross hairs at that meeting”.

To read the rest of the article go to:


Here is the link:

There is a lot of technical detail in the statement. Manning also gives his reasons for releasing the various documents. It is good to finally get some detailed information from Manning himself about what he did. He certainly makes clear that his actions were guided by his sense of morality which may not help him win his court case but I hope will garner him more support from the public. Despite the enormous pressure put on him to implicate Wikileaks and Assange he goes out of his way to clear them from responsibility:

“Although I stopped sending documents to WLO, no one associated with the WLO pressures me into giving more information. The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions”.

He must be aware of the effect that this statement will have on his chances for leniency.

Decline of the English Murder

by George Orwell

Tribune, 15 February 1946

It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose, and open theNews of the World. Roast beef and Yorkshire, or roast pork and apple sauce, followed up by suet pudding and driven home, as it were, by a cup of mahogany-brown tea, have put you in just the right mood. Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about?
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