Archive for August, 2009


Monday, August 31st, 2009

London cartoon

Whilst visiting my sister and brother-in-law in York the other day I was chatting with my nephew Anton who was also there, taking a break from his job in London. He was complaining to me about the weather predictions on the mainstream media and their lack of London references. He told me this was due to the BBC directive of not being London-centric and to include the provinces whenever possible. The argument being that the weather in the Orkneys, for example, is far more important to the peasants working in the fields there than it is to a London city slicker who spends most of their time underground, indoors, or under a table (that’s my interpretation of his words).

On reflection, I found this idea hugely entertaining and grossly patronising. The authorities in the capital have demonstrated their largesse by granting a minuscule amount of air time to the peasants in the rest of the country during the weather reports, how generous is that?

A national football stadium we didn’t get. A proportional share of arts funding we don’t get. A representative number of provincial bands being signed up by major labels we don’t get. A faithful reflection of the class structure in Britain portrayed in the mainstream media we don’t get.

But hey, we got the weather!

Telephone Preference Service

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Things are starting to become clearer.

I telephoned the TPS to have my telephone number excluded from unsolicited calls. They did this but when I casually asked about recorded messages they told me a different department dealt with this (what!?).

So I rang 01625 545745 (option 6) to ask to be excluded from automated recorded telephone calls. They told me it was illegal to send out pre-recorded telephone messages to anyone who has not previously asked for them. My first thought was, ‘what idiot would actually ask for pre-recorded messages to be dialed to them?’ My second thought was, ‘the bastards!!’

I, of course, had not signed up for this extremely annoying phenomenon. So they were breaking the law. To take some action, the lady at the end of the telephone advised me, I had to make a note of who was sending these messages, then ring her up and tell her who they were. Action could then be taken against them. If the callers were from outside the UK then no action could be taken (except some vigilante, maverick type retribution which I wholeheartedly endorse).

I encourage all my readers (yes, all four of you!) to pursue this course of action (legitimate or unilateral – you take your pick) and stop this illegal practice of spam telephony.

Comedy genius that is Tom Stade

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

What a revelation this guy is. Here is sheer comedy genius. He does not rely on jokes but maximises anticipation and performance. I have watched this clip several times and enjoyed his delivery and performance on each occasion.

How rare it is to find a comedian who can exploit performance rather than jokes. Just savour the way he delivers the word ‘scale‘ and answers the rhetorical question, “Do you think I just drove up here with one rump roast?”

We’re all going to die

Friday, August 21st, 2009

We are told over 90% of all the species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct. There have been several near total extinction catastrophe’s in the earths history. We know we all going to die as individuals. Once you are dead nothing else matters. One could easily reason from this premise that, actually, none of this climate change scare-mongering really matters – everybody dies anyway. Even if the earths climate develops into a runaway feedback loop and gets so hot it melts lead, it doesn’t really matter because in the long run the sun is going to die as well at some point.

In the end, nothing at all really matters. So why do we fret about the future?

Maybe it’s because, ultimately, we are only passing on the baton of life to other individuals. Maybe it’s because when we see our children play and laugh in the sunshine, we want the moment to last a little longer… just a little longer.

Antibiotics save our chickens (but kill us)

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

This is a report about the US intensive farming practices but you can guarantee it is copied in the UK. I now consider the recent infection on my leg as a near death experience.

Cognitive dissonance

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

This lunchtime I enjoyed some large ripe cherries that my wife had bought from the supermarket. As I masticated I looked at the packaging and noticed that the cherries origin was the USA. ‘Man’, I thought, ‘that’s a helluva distance to move such delicate, perishable goods’. And yes, you are correct, I would have not bought them if I had been the one shopping in the supermarket for just this reason.

Then this evening, as I was cycling into town I passed a garden that had a large cherry tree overhanging into the street. It looked like it had been raining black cherries. The entire pavement directly below the tree was awash with pulverised fruit and cherry stones. The owner of the tree clearly did not want these cherries. He or she probably wanted to buy cherries from the USA.

Reductio ad absurdum

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Following on from yesterdays post it occurred to me that we are not so far removed from the idea of someone else owning your body. It was not so long ago that someone proposed that we all be on a donor register by default. So when your time came you would be on the autopsy table ready to be carved up like a Sunday roast and dished out to whoever was invited to the organ feast. If you didn’t want this to happen you would have to tick the tiny box at the bottom of your income tax return, or whatever, that said ‘if you do not want to become spare parts signify here’.

Had that proposal become law, it would have meant that the state physically owned you (they already own nearly all of you so why not the whole hog) when you died. How long do you think it would be before the state laid claim to your body parts before you died and required you pay for the upkeep and maintenance of those parts? Thus, binge drinking would be punishable by a hefty fine as you were doing criminal damage to the state’s property – their liver. Not exercising would be punishable by community service as you would be neglecting the upkeep of another bit of the state’s property – their heart.

Actually, this wouldn’t be such a bad idea as people would be motivated to look after bodies in order to avoid punishment which ultimately would lead to a healthier population and therefore reduce the need for organ transplants in the first place – hey! problem solved.

How long before someone else owns your body?

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

I came across a statistic today which defied my intelligence. It said that less than four percent of navigable water in Britain can be swum in without consent. Think about this. A river in the countryside, populated by all wild flora and fauna is denied human enjoyment without prior consent.

Someone owns the water in the river. At what point is the water theirs? Is it when it is in the form of rain above the river and presumably in their airspace? And when does the water become ‘free’ again, when it is in the form of water vapour floating out of their airspace? And how can they differenciate ‘their’ body of water from someone else’s who is further downstream?

This demonstrates how the concept of ownership has become farcical. I repeat, you cannot own land, you can only defend territory. The laws we employ to maintain the concept are figments of illusion which we make real with our blind faith in them.

Lynndie England

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

For some reason Lynndie England has been interviewed recently by the media. She was jailed for her part in the Abu Ghraib regime of abuse. The interview I saw on television was absolutely despicable. If I had been present I would have been tempted to slap her face. I’m talking about the female interviewer of course.

The interviewer was showing Lynndie the notorious photographs of herself published around the world and asked her why she was smiling. She also asked her if she didn’t feel any shame or moral uncertainty at the time. The interviewer clearly has no understanding of human psychology, none.

By a coincidence, I am currently reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It describes brilliantly how the facade of civilisation is so easily stripped away. It describes the terrifying and hugely empowering leap into the unknown space of lawlessness, of crossing the line between acceptable and unacceptable.

Lynndie England had crossed the line. And it felt good. It felt good because she was reassured by the authorities around her that she wouldn’t be punished for doing it. It is the, ‘I was just following orders’ scenario. Let us explore the concept of crossing the line.

Milgram, in his famous experiment, demonstrated that most people would ‘cross the line’ of killing someone if given enough backup by a figure in authority – they were simply following instructions.

Humans are instinctively curious. If something is prohibited, we become even more curious about the that which is prohibited. The story of Adam and Eve demonstrates this. The story of capitalism demonstrates this (what is it like to be rich?). Sexual fantasies derive their power from being unlikely to happen in reality i.e. prohibited. Imagine then if you were given the opportunity to live out a fantasy in reality without anyone ever finding out. Would you take it? Would you cross the line?

Now some people are more freethinking than others. The more freethinking you are, the sooner you would stop in the Milgram experiment and I dare say that these sort of people would also object at the things being done to the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But freethinkers don’t join the military. The military-industrial complex is anathema to any freethinker, ergo it is the easily manipulated, pliable personalities who join the military. Not only that, but the military processes these people to be compliant, to follow orders, even when the orders seem insane (kill these strangers – how insane can it get?).

Add to this, that the military attracts personalities which are prone to crossing the line (there are documentaries now which has ex combatants discussing frankly their joy of killing and the incredible thrill they get from combat) and the Lynndie England story becomes a tired and depressingly predictable one.

What the hell did the interviewer expect? A grovelling apology? An epiphany of moral enlightenment? Where the hell was the interviewers moral outrage? Why didn’t she object to the interview taking place and demand that the real culprits be named, not Lynndie England, but the members of the administration which condoned these methods? Why wasn’t Dick Cheney being interviewed instead? The eternal farce is still being played out; an insignificant scapegoat is made to carry the burden of public admonishment while the real villains slyly move on to other atrocities.

No, the entire interview was a farce, no better than the show trials of Stalin. And complicit in the debacle, once again, is mainstream media.

I would like to interview the interviewer and confront her, just as she did with Lynndie England, with the footage of that interview and ask her why she didn’t feel any moral outrage at what she was doing at the time. How was it good journalism?

I have sympathy for Lynndie England. What she did was wrong but the greater sin of approving authority goes unpunished.

Dolphin friendly tuna

Friday, August 14th, 2009

This article made me sit up and despair. This is the power of the internet. The mainstream media simply don’t tell you these things, it’s not in their interest.