This is all wrapped up in a monstrous jumble of pseudo-scientific bullshit about the organic nature of male and female and something called 'the ecology of Man' which he just invented, and is as chillingly reminiscent of Hitler's brand of nature-worship as this speech is of Hitler's terror and treatment of homosexuals. It refuses to accept sex without reproduction, thereby poisoning any pleasure with the bill of pregnancy, and in turn poisoning the connection between the person and their body, claiming ownership of it for Divine purposes which must not be denied. Controlling sexuality is a deeply effective means of mind control. As utterly evil and spiritually vandalistic as the notion, common to most religions, that love can be demanded with threats of eternal punishment.
The end product of this new attack on homosexuality is the same as ever, to serve the ancient Vatican need to keep women tied to the birthbed and the kitchen, devoting their energies to the glory of god, which is the highest calling a woman can aspire to...etc etc. While men are reduced to either toiling peasants or Mediterranean chancers, idling their lives away in a fug of local cheap alcohol and petty political feuding. The fact that persecution also cripples the emotional growth of millions of gays and lesbians, producing mopnsters such as Peter Sutcliffe, is just a bonus.
A society in which women did not do most of the work, and were able to contribute more fully to the improvement of the societies they lived in would be one which was able to draw on a much wider range of talent and experience and sheer intelligence. The cream of all society, not the cream of half. And such a society would be much more likely to eradicate the primitive standards of living which keep driving people into religious belief.
And so the Vatican must desperately stoke the level of hate and confusion, no matter how ridiculous is makes itself look. Politically, it has no choice if it to retain its African congregation. But what business is it of the Pope's to interfere in the political and economic choice to have children? Or veto the European text intended for the United Nations aimed at de-criminalising homosexuality - as it did last week? His priests are supposed to be celibate, and he has enough trouble enforcing that ruling. So what hope does he stand with normal people such as Tony Blair (to be seasonally charitable)?
As a Catholic who has recently come out of the closet, does Tony Blair agree that homosexuality is evil and is causing the death of humanity? How did he work so closely with Peter Mandelson all those years, and how will he look him in the eyes again? Does he agree that Britian needs to increase its birth rate to African levels and that his wife should renounce her ambitions and produce more children? Hardly, and the same is true with the vast majority of catholics who have the choice of controlling the size of their families. So what Herr Joseph Ratzinger (alias Pope Benedict XVI) has done by declaring war on sexual pleasure is actually to further alienate the Vatican from its sheep.
At present, it seems very difficult to estimate exactly how much the Catholic church earns per year (mostly tax-free of course). Most estimates seem pathetically low for an organisatiuon as powerful, and the Vatican itself will not disclose. But however large the actual income, The Vatican and the Italian state have been shown the intruments of torture by the European Union, and are squealing very loudly indeed. No wonder. Without their scandalous subsidies by almost every taxpayer in the world, and its enforced indoctrination in schools, this Bronze Age Re-enactment Society would wither away to a rump of nerds in less than a generation - as would most of its competitors.
All that would be left would be for them and their deranged billionaire patrons, to buy an extinct volcanic island in the Pacific, create their shared temple in the magma chamber, and leave the Humanity to get on with the business of human needs rather than meeting the exorbitant costs of maintaining the global Jurassic Park which is religious faith.
“I was completely dumbfounded after my son told me that he was made to recite a poem called ‘Niggah’ in front of his class. The boy was then subjected to further humiliation after his teacher, questioned him as to
"why black people could used the word ‘n***er’ and white people could not.”Louis Armstrong's account of his relationship with his manager Joe Glaser is interesting. After Armstrong he had made his name in Chicago and New York, mobsters were facing up to own him. There was a real risk that he would be hurt, and so he chose a manager with enough muscle to protect him, and paid him very handsomely. Armstrong put it this way.
"I needed him because everywhere we went he could say 'That's my nigger.' And I was OK."That is the heritage which gives the word its particular poison, and the reason why it is being turned inside out and pointed back at the people who invented it by a new generation of black people. The message to white people is 'we have reclaimed this word for ourselves, and we can use it when you can't.'
That's all. It is a minor act of petty linguistic theft, in part to make up for the appalling crimes of history. In part to annoy. The fact that it's 'not fair' is the whole point. So there isn’t any hypocrisy, as the teacher in this case implies, merely a chance taken to make white people feel uncomfortable. This new street usage may not be a productive or rational tactic, and many black leaders condemn it. But it probably feels good.
And another thing. Its' use requires consent, which requires contact and communication. In other words, you need to have some form of relationship with the recipient before using it. This again reinforces a sense of identity and kinship and places the emphasis on human contact.. And who can argue with that in a society in which the sense of community is all but dead?
A world in which a black person gave a white person permission to call him a nigger, would be a world without racism.
When Barack Obama uses it, something will have changed.
'They Call Me MISTER Nigger!'
So all the time we were borrowing to build new houses, there were thousands lying empty.
This is the benign market working intelligently, again.
Shame a few more of these homes couldn't have been renovated in the last ten years to reduce the amount of dodgy debt, and perhaps mitigate the crash we've just experienced. Even better, councils could have been allowed to spend some of their Right To Buy cash on building new stock, which would have provided rented accomodation for those who cared more about living than about their place on the 'property ladder'. That would have reduced the scramble for credit too, and softeneed the recent bump. But all that would have taken politicians with some guts and ideas.
The RICS can't say they didn't warn us 12 months ago.
"The warning is just one of the "priority" risks it has identified for the next 18 months. The others include customers losing confidence in another financial firm, in the way they did with Northern Rock; concerns about the business models of some banks since the credit markets tightened; and a potential increase in finance crime caused by the downturn."Shame they didn't make the same recommendations then that they are making now.
It's a good thing that, unlike Hitler, Clarkson is not a real person. But nevertheless, how he, and his armies of disciples, will cope with the death of the car industry is still matter of real concern. The millions of addicts to petro-porn who tune in every day to Top Gear on BBC or Dave will notice that their regular fix isn't hitting the spot as it used to. It will be cut with more and more low-octane features on diesel and hybrids and convoying technology, when what they want is a big red Fasterati Fallus Stigging through 'Hammerhead' on its way to a record time which Little Big Teeth won't be able to stick at the top of the table.
With hilarious consequences.
Top Gear has drooled over the possibilities of hydrogen power for a while. James May insists over and over that the technology is clean and harmless and fun and fast. 'All it produces is water'.
Unfortunately, he doesn't tend to talk about the carbon cost of producing the hydrogen fuel in the first place. Which leaves our credulous petrolheads imagining a future which is reassuringly the same as today, only without the guilt. When they finally begin to realise the damage done by the car to the cities it now owns, and the lives of the generations forced off the streeets and into their bedrooms in front of their fattening screens, they might realise that there is still some damage which the hydrogen cell will not cure. Carbonisation is not the only crime of the car.
And as any viable hydrogen car is still at least a decade away from mass production, it is all a bit academic. It will be too late by then for the car industry to retool itself to undo much of the environmental damage it has already caused.
As the The The implosion of the global auto-motive industry continues, Vauxhall workers at Ellesmere Port have just been offered a degree of job security in exchange for a layoff at 30% pay. This is a grim echo of Bruce Forsyth's incredible 1968 propaganda single 'I'm Backing Britain', which urged patriotic Britons to work for nothing.
The demands of market economics on the industry, forcing it to produce ever more conspicuously wasteful models, have proved too much. As profit-making businesses, they are now almost worthless. Their immense investment in machinery and property is just so much scrap iron. The only asset which now matters is the workforce, and the lives which depend on it, including those dependent on the huge small business sector which would die if the car production line workforce stopped spending.
At any other time, this would seem exceptional. But now it just seems like more dust from under the rug. And this on the same day that U.S. republicans refused to bail out the car industry for roughly the same amount. If that provides any sense of scale.
The millions of jobs on the one hand, and one man's avarice on the other. There may well be no direct relationship in that an honest Bernard Madoff would still see Detroit in the sewer, but as an example of the entrepreneurship versus society, it is a bit of a classic, happening when it does.
This is a vast scandal of Albanian crudeness which suckered the most the most sophisticated clients on the planet - allegedly - and was only uncovered becaus the market crashed. So how many other squalid pyramid cons and other frauds can we expect to see emerge over the next few months? Who will be found to be wearing trunks when the tide finally goes out?
And will someone please explain the moral and legal differences between these illegal activites and those of Our Friends in organised crime? This sounds very organised, and very profitable. More so, possibly, than even the Mafia's drug market in the US. Who knows?
What is the difference between Capitalists and Gangsters? The public are less and less clear about which thieves are respectable and which are despicable. And that is a very dangerous situation indeed.
Christmas Eve Extra.
Victim of Madoff swindle slashes wrists.
On a recent routine God Vs Science internet dead end, one believer was urged to defend (and express) his religion through the recommended medium of prayer for the welfare of the unholy. Which seemed totally in keeping with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, as I remember it. His first reaction was:
jobi258 - 04:34am Dec 12, 2008 GMT (#406 of 420)Why should we? It's a perfectly serious solution, seeing as the biggest worry non-believers have about religion is how it relates to the physical world, not the metaphysical.
'I would be happy to pray for you, but if I was to do so, wouldn't you just laugh at me and ridicule my prayers?'
The biggest threat to religious faith doesn't come from atheists putting the mockers on, but from its political exploitation and the mobilisation of its believers. That not only increases tension between religions and between the religious and non-religious, but also insults religion itself. Political activism is not religious. But naturally, religions can fuel political action. Nowadays they do little else.
I don't notice the Aimish, for instance, complaining of being persecuted or having their rights abused or being offended by contraventions of their own code. And this doesn't mean they don't have fun. I was once privileged to sit on the next table to a bevy of teenage Aimish girls on a night out at the local village community centre in Kent, watching a performance by a travelling flamenco company retailing some of the sexiest dance and music in the world. They absorbed it with every appearance of relish and applauded as wildly as all the other villagers.
They seem to see the world through genuinely faithful eyes, with its sins and stupidities as a total and utter irrelevance compared with the immensity and perfect bliss of eternity. And therefore the scurryings and pettiness of wars and depressions must seem a bit pathetic and pointless to them. 'They also serve who only stand and wait.' And that must be a nice way to live. They mean it, and they keep their noses clean.
They don't presume to judge for god. As Karen in 'Outnumbered' says:
'God could blow up the planes Himself, if that's what he wanted..'
'Are there such things as upper, middle and working class, or whatever, culture, and, if so, what do they consist of, and does it matter?'.Let's try explaining again how it works.
The bigger the factory you own, the more middle class you are. The less you control the means of your survival, the more working class you are.
So a collier's factory. his capital, are his muscles and his pick, if lucky. He is therefore more middle class than someone who only 'owns' his muscles. It is the sum of his capital assets which can be used to directly create productive work. His pick is his production line and distribution system in one. His 'factory's' orders for labour come from the mine owner, just as his orders for coal come from the wholesalers and the market forces beyond.
But the miner is less middle class than the grocer who sells him his food from his own shop, however modest. He is also less middle class than the tradesman with a highly marketable skill (and his own tools, ideally) who has a lot of time invested in learning his trade. A lawyer is a tradesman, what makes him more middle class than a carpenter is his clientelle - and the fact that like most of the so-called 'professional classes'* he is also paid to tell lies.
The bigger the capital investment, the more insulated the individual from the whims of the market, and the higher up the social scale the individual progresses. The less the individual can invest, the less he 'has to show' for his work, the more he is vulnerable to the needs of others, and the more he needs to work with others to defend what few rights he does enjoy and try to secure whatever advances for his class are achievable.
And so on and so forth, Mr Rockefeller. Surely even trained journalists at the Sun could understand that, inasmuch as they can read, that is.
How depressing after more than a century of state education and one of the most dramatic, publicised and illuminating economic crashes of all time to still have to explain that money means power, and that the strong are more powerful than the weak. I blame the parents.
* 'The Professions' - as in a specialist craft or skill which often comes with a uniform and often consists of being 'economical with the truth'.
Lawyers, the clergy, the military, politicians, the press, and even doctors.
- BJ: ‘Hi matey how are you how are you I’m going going whatever it is I’m not going to tell you now no no no no no’
- Reporter: ‘What are you going to do about David Ross?’
- BJ: ‘Nothing nothing nothing nothing la la la la bye bye bye’
- Reporter: ‘Have you got no comment about David Ross?’
- BJ: ‘I’ve got no comment now, thank you’
- Reporter: ‘If his conduct’s… not good enough for the city, is it good enough for you?’
- BJ : la la la la
Boris Johnson only needs the beard to get a really fulfilling job. I'm sure Mohamed 'Al' Fayed could help. Ho Ho Ho.
In what must have been 1930 at the latest, Mrs Robinson, one of James Thurber's 'aged coloured washerwomen' prophesied:
"... the oil supplies of the world are being dried up in order to prevent future wars. This will also put and end forever to pleasure driving, but that is alright because, if people kept on riding in cars, they would soon lose the use of both legs, and the life of man would pass from the earth."Which put her several decades in front of most of the politicians, technocrats and businessmen of the last 80 years. Ignoring those words in that little New Yorker sketch is now costing the US taxpayer $34,000,000,000 - at the latest count. And has, to do full justice to Mrs Robinson, cost millions of US people their health - if the alarming obesity statistics are to be believed. And as to the future of the 'life of man on earth', her instinct is as eloquent as David Attenborough and all his gorillas. The car is a bit of an environmental and social culprit all round, in spite of its many short term benefits. And the US dependency on cars makes it one of the culprits of global warming and the global economic crash - which oversold credit on car purchases just as it did on the property market.
Obama's proposals for a green, revolutionary automotive industry, with its hi-tech holy grail of cheap, sustainable mobility, are only a possibility and are primarily a means of preventing mass unemployment rather than a long-term environmental strategy, but they are a step to satisfying the historical inevitability of Mrs Robinson's wisdom while at the same time giving Jeremy Clarkson time to finish his memoirs in peace. I can hardly wait.
Alexis Papachelas' words from today's Ekathimerini are far more than routine newspaper cliche or even journalistic outrage. For him, the spectre of 1974 is obviously a very personal matter.
'It is difficult to discern any logic in such a situation. This is a country with a state that is in shambles, a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds for rage instead of knowledge and a shattered healthcare system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin. And now, here we are, debating whether we have a police state, turning back to 1974 and having the same conversations again and again.'In the same newspaper Nikos Konstandaras wrote that:
"Mr Grioropoulos' blood would be "used to bind together every disparate protest and complaint into a platform of righteous rage against all the ills of our society.The Greeks know all too well the kinds of regime which tend to emerge when a society loses faith in elected government and yearns for a strong leader to embody all its hopes, and assume all its responsibilities, and know what to expect from such unequivocal leadership, having enjoyed it within living memory. The doctrine of Might Is Right is one legacy of that time, and the young are now adapting it for their purposes. 'The same conversation.'
"It will quickly become a flag of convenience for anyone who has a grudge against the state, the government, the economic system, foreign powers, capitalism and so on."
"If Greece had already appeared difficult to govern, it will now be out of control."
As Alexis Papachelas puts it:
"They are also getting the message that right now, anything goes."Which is hardly surprising since the Greek police have an unfortunate record of ricochets which went wrong, and arrests of cartoonists and other social undesirables, such as Antonis Tsipropoulos, of 'blogme.gr', who was arrested for offending a public figure through the satirical blog Funel. The status of online pamphleteers is shaky under Greek law, putting Greece in the same bracket as Iran, China and Vietnam. Perhaps they could all take time out to celebrate Milton's 400th birthday by also reading the Areopagitica.
"... the young have run out of patience."
In a way, Greece has been preparing for this showdown for years. It is one European country which has retained an almost vintage brand of ' non-parliamentary' militancy in its students and unions, while at the same time preserving a healthy balance of corruption and incompetence in its leaders and nurturing one of the most hated police forces in europe. Another debt to the Generals. It was always going to be a candidate for 'events' if the global economy suffered from 'events'.
So which country will be next? The Greek alliance between students and workers is historically tempting to consider on this, the anniversary year of the 1968 risings. And globally, there are now more students than ever, suddenly facing long-term unemployment - as are their working class allies. And to help them through this period, all are facing the promise of cuts in social welfare payments - as a reward for their decade of obedience to consumerism. But the parallels with 1968 are as much a warning as a hope. Any serious assessment of that time cannot ignore the factionalism which has traditionally plagued progressive action. So the repeated use of the Greek word 'anarchist' to describe the politics of student unrest must raise some awkward memories.
The anarchist condemnation of socialism:
'Same cage - different bars.'Will prove to be no help in solving the problems all working people will face in the next few years, when harnessing the flow of work will need more regulation, not less.
And the traditional socialist commitment to the centralised state - now obsolete anyway - must likewise be reassessed. The mistakes of the Vietnam generation must not be repeated by Generation Obama. 'The same conversation' must not happen again.
Milton would certainly have been appalled by the grotesque foppery of the likes of Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand. And if he had been a better shot, might have accounted for a few of their kind on the battlefields of the Civil War, but nevertheless, he defends their right to foppery on both moral and practical grounds.
"If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreation and pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric. There must be licensing dancers, that no gesture, motion, or deportment be taught our youth but what by their allowance shall be thought honest; for such Plato was provided of. It will ask more than the work of twenty licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and the guitars in every house; they must not be suffered to prattle as they do, but must be licensed what they may say. And who shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers? The windows also, and the balconies must be thought on; there are shrewd books, with dangerous frontispieces, set to sale; who shall prohibit them, shall twenty licensers? The villages also must have their visitors to inquire what lectures the bagpipe and the rebeck reads, even to the ballatry and the gamut of every municipal fiddler, for these are the countryman's Arcadias, and his Monte Mayors."Russ'n'Ross may not be the Daily Mail's idea of 'Arcadias and Monte Mayors', but they are 'the countryman's', or enough of them that matter. And the suppression of them and by implication all spontaneous humour would certainly ask 'more than the work of twenty licensers' to examine all the outpourings of every TV and radio broadcast and remove every heresy.
It is ironic that the media which Milton defends in his famous pamphlet are using that liberty to suppress the words of others. It believes we are too stupid and infantile to be able to cope with adult language heard on every street corner. Or as Milton puts it:
Nor is it [censorship] to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be so jealous over them, as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and ungrounded people; in such a sick and weak state of faith and discretion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a licenser?Do the readers of the Daily Mail really trust it to be their Ministry Of Fun? Tragically, they might just. and Milton will weep for them. But one thing he will celebrate, and be dancing with Ray Charles round the celestial piano about, is the ability of almost anyone now to publish pamphlets to the world. Milton would have been a blogger, and The Areopagitica would have been first published online - not in the the Daily Mail.
Milton has a warning for Ross'n'Russ, too. It has to be quoted in full :
When I consider how my light is spentA little modesty goes a long way.
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.
Self-serving ex popstar or not, Peter Gabriel, among others, has been promoting this kind of independent Witness programme since the internet became a mass media. And to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is launching a twin project in The Hub, an
...interactive community for human rights, where you can upload videos, audio or photos, or simply watch, comment on and share what’s on the site. You can use each media item on the site to encourage individuals to learn more and to get involved by providing direct links to resources, advocacy groups, campaigns and actions that they can take to make a difference. Additionally, you can connect with groups or create one of your own to feature your work on the Hub.An uncensored YouTube which cannot be interfered with by business interests or governments. This is not going to change the world alone, but it will increase pressure on the market leader to stand up to obnoxious regimes, and allow more footage which reveal their depravity.
In turn, the increased significance of this kind of new people's media will increase the pressure to treat access to digital publishing as a right, not a privilege derived from wealth. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be key in achieving this.
"Actions like this only delay people getting on with their lives."What he still fails to realise is that this kind of inconvenience is just a taste of a future which will see everyone's lives drastically interfered with, whatever happens. It is a fact of Life as we have contrived it since the invention of the steam engine.
The Bangkok airport protests by the so-called 'People's Alliance for Democracy' showed how enough people acting together can achieve their goals. It just so happens that the PAD's goals are squalid and backward, But they are real enough, and their effects even more so.
The respectable suburbians living under the Heathrow flightpath are vowing to take direct action should their objections to new runway be ignored. Some of them may well be more concerned with the already plumetting value of their homes, but there is no doubt that their objections are valid, and many are now citing global warming as a case against airport expansion.
The ongoing riots in Greece show just how angry young people can get at the kind of police we can expect from a state determined to defend a destructive economic system from the consequences of itself. It just so happens that the goals of some Pixie anarchists are more vendetta than Declaration of Human Rights, but their actions are indisputably real, and are also a vision of future clashes when tensions between state and society will be much greater.
These are all actions of people working together to achieve their goals, however debased or misguided. Acting in a shared spirit of fellow-feeling, so how much more successful and attractive should goals be which are in everyone's long-term interest, and that of their descendants?
Governments should therefore take time to inspect the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights they signed up to, with its intention that people should be encouraged to co-operate with each other, a not merely delegate governments to do so on their behalf - with other governments and bureaucracies.
As for the most interesting definition of brotherhood, it is best left, as usual, to George Orwell, writing in 1943, when the world was just as uncertain as it is now.
Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue.
"If he is sincere in what he is saying, then, he is too stewpid to be a prime minister!"
Sadly, the same is true of Speaker Michael Martin's handling of the illegal police raid on tory shadow minister Damien Green's office. If he knew that the police were going to raid without a warrant, he is complicit in an illegal action, and should resign. If he did not know, he is too stupid to be speaker. If he knew but couldn't be bothered to ask, he just doesn't care.
In any case, he has to go.
Meanwhile, the police are more politicised than ever, especially after Idiot Mayor Boris Johnson's flagrant pre-judgement of the police investigation, declaring that 'Nothing would come of it.'
Now if he is sincere in that belief, and he may be....
"Some 5-10% of girls and 1-5% of boys have been subjected to penetrative sex, usually by a family friend or relative. If sexual abuse is defined more widely - as anything from being shown pornographic magazines to rape - it is estimated that it will include at least 15% of girls and 5% of boys."
"What this report does emphasise is the extent of the risk factors and consequences of child maltreatment, which are of such complexity that any reflex attempt to apportion blame or think there is a simple solution to this issue is to completely misrepresent the extent and depth of the problem."
"Child abuse is grossly under-reported - even by the schools and community health services that have continuous contact with children - another study says."One in 10 children suffer abuse, say experts
He added: "What this report does emphasise is the extent of the risk factors and consequences of child maltreatment, which are of such complexity that any reflex attempt to apportion blame or think there is a simple solution to this issue is to completely misrepresent the extent and depth of the problem."Child abuse is grossly under-reported - even by the schools and community health services that have continuous contact with children - The Lancet says.
The fact that this is taking place in affluent countries reveals either the fraud of that affluence - its reliance on an underclass as debased and marginal as any peasant living in a mud village in the Caucasus - or the pernicious objectification of childhood by affluence. Children as the prized possessions of their parents, pets rather than people.
Call them blacklegs if you like, as many have over the years, but people have to pay the bills, and if the banks won't do the job, someone else has to do it for them. In fact, the longer the strike lasts, the better the wiseguys like it.
The Americans were particularly interesting because of the time of year. Their appalling human tragedy was that having completed one holiday, they would not be able to get immediately to the next one. They were in the stuck in the desperate position of being not on any holiday at all. Holiday starvation soon began to set in.
One victim of the horror spoke for many:
“Have you any idea of the tens of thousands of people whose plans you’ve screwed up? Tomorrow is a real big holiday in the States and many people will miss it because of some cockamamie little protest that you’ve got going.Missing you already. If Barack Obama can at least persuade people like this that the rest of the world matters, he will have been worth the ticket price.
We won't be coming back to Thailand again."
After all, people have been killed in this cockamamie little protest in this silly little country, with its funny little people always shouting and getting excited over nothing.
The obscenity of this depicable case of utter degradation is, perhaps, one of the times when the word 'evil' is justified. But even this is arguable. Surely, to understand actions like this we should be trying to describe them in modern terms, informed by what we now know about people and what makes them function - or cease to function. we should not be relying on biblical buzzwords like Evil, with all its horny-headed overtones.
Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg used it freely, but then went on to commit the graver error of calling for 'The Community' to be deployed in scrutinising itself for cases of abuse and crime in general. Like all Westminster politicians, his definition of a community is one which delivers its morality from the top down, by constant supervision and judgement. In his liberal utopia, the police would wither away to be replaced by the nosy neighbours and children. A religious model of morality, handed down by an unelected body of elders and betters.
In fact, community morality, if it is anything, is delivered by example, not imposition or spying. It is something learnt by experiencing the co-operation and care which happens when a community is a living thing, and not merely a collection of nuclear family bunkers dumped in the same inter-hyper-market-hinterland. Community morality is a prevention, not a snake-oil cure.
If this monster had ever been part of one, he may never have gone insane as he did.
Generations of British children got their first psychedelic technicolour shopping experience inside one of F.W.Woolworth's art-deco emporia. Amid the scent of castor sugar and salted peanuts, many got their first warm hit of consumerism. Generations of spotty saturday teenagers grunted their way through their duties there to subsidise their night on the lash . Their unemployed friends would come in to gloat and browse and shoplift and get some more giggling photos done in the booth.
So many people have deep attachment to the name. It reminds them of their childhood, there are vague architectural associations with that other art-deco haven of youth, The Odeon, where, amid the unique scent of popcorn, Silk Cut and fish, generations of Britons discovered sex.
These memories have helped lull the British, at least, into a sense that Woolworths was more a maternal national institution than a business. Something the rates paid for, or the National Trust. And now it's to vanish from British high streets. A victim of the notion that as long as rubbish is cheap enough, someone will buy it.
This must be what a recession feels like. It will for the 30,000 or so who lose their jobs.
You too can do your bit to support our gallant boys at The Front by going out immediately and spending every penny you've got on the most useless rubbish you can possibly find, anything to put money in the accounts of businesses so that the thing that works the spring that turns the thingumebob can keep working until the next Big Push. Buy For Victory!
The message from Andrew Darling in today's apparently historic attempt to keep us out of the soup kitchens, with its 2.5% cut in VAT and its promise to fight the next election on a manifesto of tax increases, is basically Let Your Shopping Help Our Shipping, or Combined Operations Includes You. Who knows, perhaps Darling was trying to say that:
It is therefore our duty to put our shoulders to the wheel, our backs to The Front and our noses to the grindstone, and bunker down to spend all our money as fast as our entrepreneurial superiors need us to.
As we were told on July 6th 2005, our courage, cheerfulness and resolution will bring us Victory. And then, after the next election, and the one after that, we will still cheerfully and resolutely be paying the price of rescuing capitalism from itself. So that even if the Cameron and Boy Wonder win the next election, they will be saddled with such an ideologically intolerable burden of debt that they might be better off losing, and let Gordon Brown pick up the pieces. If they win, it will only be for one term.
Whatever the intentions of today's desperate Darling Day landings, or how much histrionic adrenalin pumped through George Osbourne's veins while he tried to placate his own back benches from the dispatch box, or whether either tactic are likely to succeed, Osborne is no Nye Bevan, and the tories are now faced with the prospect of offering the electorate a range of public service cuts or more public service cuts in their next manifesto. And there wasn't much else in it to begin with.
There was no mention of any measures to recover some of the money we lent to the banking system last month - by plugging tax loopholes, for instance. Nor any mention of breaking the banker's credit strike. Winston knew what to do with essential workers on strike in a crisis. Perhaps we might even see the employment of Darling Boys; keen young accountants and business studies graduates drafted in to the banks to help maintain productivity. Some might call them blacklegs, but those who live by the blackleg can die by the blackleg.
No doubt the swots at the FT will point out this omission in due course.
A study by Suzanne Zeedyk, of Dundee University's school of psychology suggested that current, convenient, cheap form of infant transport, the bulldozer or battering-ram buggy, is not a very nurturing experience for tiny, vulnerable mind.
The study found that in traditional parent-facing buggy, babies were twice as likely to fall asleep in this orientation, suggesting they may be more stressed when in away-facing buggies. Mothers and infants also laughed more often in face-to-face buggies. Only one baby in the group of 20 laughed during the away-facing journey, while half laughed during the face-to-face journey.
One sight of the various terrified or stupified faces of infants being propelled through the looming, screaming alien chicanes and obstacles of the modern shopping high street, with its roaring cars and flashing lights is enough confirm that. The city environment is enough to cause stress in sober adults, never mind infants capable of being frightened by a beard. The aspirin industry depends on it. So it hardly takes a saintly level of empathy to realise how traumatic such a ghost train must be to a little person just coming to terms with the dark. The adult equivalent would be to be strapped to the front of a skip lorry plunging through the rush hour. Or, of course, to be in the front seat of the recently closed Corkscrew at Alton Towers, which adults pay to be scared on. Perhaps they're trying to recapture their infancies.
Dr Zeedyk said:
"If babies are spending significant amounts of time in a baby buggy that undermines their ability to communicate with their parent, at an age when the brain is developing more than it will ever again, then this has to impact negatively on their development. Our experimental study showed that, simply by turning the buggy around, parents' rate of talking to their baby doubled."
Surely the emphasis during these early years should be on contact between the parent and child. It is sad that this has been sacrificed for the sake of convenience. But surely it is not beyond the talent of British designers to create a buggy which is just as portable and cheap, but with the baby facing the non-traumatic direction. It may even be a simple case of repositioning the seat.
But the basic question remains. why was this fashion allowed to become the norm in spite of all the obvious drawbacks?
The promotional video for any enterprising company would be simple. effective and cheap.
Just put a cheap video camera in a standard buggy, set the lens to the wide angle field of view of the infant human, and the microphone to match its acute hearing, and wheel it up and down Oxford Street a few times. There would be no need to do anything to enhance the result. It would be quite scary enough, and might make a few people think about subjecting their children to this form of stimulation, whether it is likely to produce a future Jeremy Clarkson or not.
Report PDF Copyright © National Literacy Trust 2008
A survey commissioned by children's charity Barnardo's has suggested that more than half the population believe UK children are "feral" and behave like animals.
Some 54% of the adults questioned thought that British children behaved like "animals".
More than a third of those surveyed also agreed that the streets were "infested" with children..
On internet messageboards and comments
Staff found messages where children were described as "feral" and some suggestions teenagers should be "shot". Barnardo's points out that
The British blame children for "up to half of all crime" when in fact they are only responsible for 12% of criminal activity.Barnardo's campaign to reclaim childhood from those trying to destroy it for money is spearheaded by this powerful film. It says it all.'Breaking the Cycle' PDF
Why should Britian should be like this? Most other european countries adore their children and their childishness. We seem to see childhood as an incovenience. A messy, noisy, squabble until they can earn their own keep and are out the door. We have 'child-free' restaurants, curfews and Baby P. We demand more freedom and safety for our cars than we do for our kids, and allow them far more room to express themselves, including their more homicidal tendencies.
The Daily Scum will howl in agony at a fee of £5 to drive a Porsche into central London but sees nothing wrong with a single mother having to pay twice that to get her child into a creche so that she can work part time in a school just down the road.
It's a total disgrace, and apparently getting worse, and the international court of opinion is watching.
Throughout the Clinton years, wild-eyed survivalists in reinforced arsenals were all the rage, threatening dire consequences if the dictator Clinton dared improve social health care. They even killed hundreds of Americans in Oklahoma to make their point. Throughout the election campaign and as recently as yesterday, nasty words were being thrown about Obama. He is a Marxist Nazi, apparently. People have been arrested for plotting to kill him. Gun sales in parts of the south went up in anticipation of an Obama defeat and the subsequent riots. So the paranoid diehards haven't gone away. Or should that be 'blowhards'?
Quite possibly, if the statistics on US obesity are to be believed. In key anti-Obama states Mississippi Alabama and West Virginia, obesity is some of the worst in America. With the worst will in the world, it's hard to imagine the current generation of good ol' boys running a koala bear out of town, let alone a civil rights demonstration. And it would be cruel to make them.
So is the industrial food industry to be thanked for the conspicuous absence of any public hostility to a black man in the white House, rather than any change of heart? There is a war of words but no action. More a Fatlash than a Backlash. Governor Faubus is spinning in his grave. Meanwhile, his political opposite in many ways, George Orwell, is vindicated again.
the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t. Here the tendency of which I spoke at the end of the last chapter comes into play. When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let’s have three pennorth of chips! Run out and buy us a twopenny ice-cream! Put the kettle on and we’ll all have a nice cup of tea! That is how your mind works when you are at the P.A.C. level. White bread-and-marg and sugared tea don’t nourish you to any extent, but they are nicer (at least most people think so) than brown bread-and-dripping and cold water. Unemployment is an endless misery that has got to be constantly palliated, and especially with tea, the English-man’s opium. A cup of tea or even an aspirin is much better as a temporary stimulant than a crust of brown bread. The results of all this are visible in a physical degeneracy which you can study directly, by using your eyes, or inferentially, by having a look at the vital statistics.
In all the months of the hottest campaigning, the words 'Katrina' and 'New Orleans' were hardly heard. In spite of New Orleans having more reason to vote for Obama than most. There may have been election night coverage from Louisiana on one of the networks, but I didn't happen to catch it, or any features in the print media in the run up to November 4th, or since.
The hope given by Obama - 'this is the place where the renewal began' on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, should not only be honoured, but should take priority. If the new administration means business about sustainable change towards a people's future, the system of community schemes it sponsors to renew New Orleans will show how to manage a large technological society without greed. By doing this, New Orleans would become a testing ground for a global model. So that Palestinians watching might believe that a black man with a muslim middle name might be a man to trust, and not just as much of an insult as if America had elected Salman Rushdie, and given him control of the world's most powerful military machine.
Government reports confirm that half of the working poor, elderly and disabled who lived in New Orleans before Katrina have not returned. Because of critical shortages in low cost housing, few now expect tens of thousands of poor and working people to ever be able to return home. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) reports Medicaid, medical assistance for aged, blind, disabled and low-wage working families, is down 46% from pre-Katrina levels. DHH reports before Katrina there were 134,249 people in New Orleans on Medicaid. February 2008 reports show participation down to 72,211 (a loss of 62,038 since Katrina). Medicaid is down dramatically in every category: by 50% for the aged, 53% for blind, 48% for the disabled and 52% for children. The Social Security Administration documents that fewer than half the elderly are back. New Orleans was home to 37,805 retired workers who received Social Security before Katrina, now there are 18,940--a 50% reduction. Before Katrina, there were 12,870 disabled workers receiving Social Security Disability in New Orleans, now there are 5350--59% less. Before there were 9425 widowers in New Orleans receiving Social Security survivor's benefits, now there are less than half, 4140. Children of working class families have not returned. Public school enrollment in New Orleans was 66,372 before Katrina. Latest figures are 32,149--a 52% reduction.Bill Quigley. CounterPunch'New Orleans Exposed'
'Anger In New Orleans'
New Orleans Reconstruction. We Shall Overcome
Post Katrina New Orleans
Nina Simone's Backlash Blues suddenly made a lot less sense today than it did last week. Something was missing, apart from George Bush. Obviously, the blues is more than just politics, but a certain kind of angry blues is now a bit more lavender. For the time being, at least.
Being the incredible, flexible musical form it is, it will adapt, and it is far too deeply interfused with existing popular culture to ever disappear. But surely the blues can only be sung by the underdog - not the winner. So as long as there are underdogs, someone will sing the blues.
'Ain't nobody perfect, 'cos ain't nobody free.'And if Obama turns out to be only the first black president, and no more, the blues will definitely have to be unleashed again. He wasn't elected to fight better wars, and make more billionaires, but to make more people free. Truly free, without fear of the same gangster world which has just gone into meltdown, forging Barack Obama's victory in the process.
'Mr Backlash, who do you think I am?Maybe Obama should write himself a blues.
You raise my taxes, freeze my wages
And send my sons to Afghanistan.
You give me second class houses - and second class schools
Do you think that all working folk are just second class fools?
Mr Backlash, I'm gonna leave you with the backlash blues.'
You're the one who'll have the blues
Just wait and see.
But by electing Obama most of America does seem to have arrived at the collective conclusion that the problems of the next decades cannot afford the luxury of racism; that everyone will be needed to solve them.
America did not undergo a wave of liberalism and conscience on November 4th. It acted through its electoral system in its own interest. Dumping the baggage of slavery made the journey to the future look a bit less frightening. In that sense, Obama is the perfect man for the time.
Meanwhile, obituaries for corporate America are still a bit premature. Coca Cola up to its old tricks again.
Coca-Cola Sustainability Review Omits India
some of the key findings included:
- A key recommendation that the Coca-Cola company shut down its bottling plant in Kala Dera because "the plant's operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around."
- Coca-Cola did not respect the rights of farmers and groundwater conditions, and that it had located its plants in India from a "business continuity" perspective without due consideration to community impacts.
- Coca-Cola did not meet the company's own waste management standards at all the plants surveyed.
- Shortcomings in the effluent discharge in four of the six plants assessed and concluded that Coca-Cola plants do not have adequate pollution prevention measures.
- Increased pollution in the immediate vicinity of Coca-Cola bottling plants.
They don't need the same form of delegated, proxy politician today, they need more access to the decision-making process itself. We now have the technology to restore an element of the community camp-fire to politics. And if that technology can put the first black man in the White House, it can surely help restore the balance in favour of those deserving community interests hitherto out-priced and out-lobbied from power by vast commercial conglomerates.
America has so far pogo'd its way through history on a single political spring. From the outside, the differences between Republican and Democrat are almost academic. But because of widespread disillusionment with the politics of profit, it is going to face a deep ideological choice quite soon between the strategies of the last 200 years, and those which can sustain the next 200 years. Whatever they might be, if we're lucky enough to agree on them, there will be a degree of conflict. The trick will be to be seen to be explaining the impracticality of continuing the past, rather than accusing its frightened disciples of sabotaging the human race. That survival will require more co-operation than competition, but that there will still be room for the expression of enough self-interest and for enough heroic sacrifice to satisfy most political instincts, however primeval. In fact, there will be more reward from the discomfort of creation than from the comfort we now enjoy. As Orwell puts it.
'I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue.'Those who still prefer to live alone in the woods with their arsenals would be welcome to do so.
From the Afro-American viewpoint, demolishing the ancient race barriers could be seen as being just as important as tinkering with the economy. Historically, they are used to being betrayed by business and politics. But this is one achievement which simply cannot be denied. 'They can't take that away from me' as the old song says. Black parents will have Obama to hold up to their teenage boys, which might just weave a slender bond, enough to change a few minds and alter a few lives.
Obama is a symptom of the rise of the black middle classes, which are a product in turn of the liberation struggle which has its own causes. No Dr King, no Oprah, no Condi, no Obama. He will therefore pursue a middle class agenda, as every other president. That is understood. But at least the decision taken by America has improved its image beyond all expectation. In that sense, the Vote Black campaign served its country as devotedly as any studious voter who'd trawled through all the policies with a slide-rule and made a decision based on the 'facts' supplied by the two party machines.
Those voting for a black president were voting for hope, not for a race. And the ultimate hope is that Obama can recreate some of the goodwill towards America that existed the day after 9/11, and were a similar opportunity for international co-operation to emerge, not to squander it, as George Bush did.
The malicious, nitpicking cleverness of this quibble over race doesn't do justice to the American ideal. Race has been politicised in America for a long time, and has been used to lever vast amounts of privilege into American society. If it is now used to 'unleverage' some of that debt, that is merely a small historical payback from the political bank.
By the way, did anyone complain that people had voted for George Bush because of his idiocy, or for Kennedy because of his looks?
The viral poem for 11/4.
'Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Obama could run.
Obama ran so we could fly.'
'it's been a long time coming, but the change is gonna come..'but without quotation marks or acknowledgement. As common property. Maybe we will have a better idea of what to expect from President Obama when we hear a speech of his own, without the Sam Cooke impersonation or the 'charisma'. Until then, he is the President of last resort. A repository of mass hope in a desperate time. A candidate who exploited the vast desire for a way out of the dirty little corner the neo-con madness had dug for America. Mohammed Ali, who we can expect to see soon, invented the strategy in the Rumble in the Jungle. Obama gave it a twist and 'Hope a Dope' was born. This tactic involves offering no concrete proposals for real change, but simply allowing the electorate to exhaust themselves into your arms as they fill you with their expectation.
'Our climb will be steep, we may not get there in one year or one term, I promise you, we as a people will get there . etc etc'
It sounds bad, but might be as good a C21st policy-making strategy as any other.
Similarly, because every world leader now wants to be his new friend, and be photographed smiling alongside this demi-god of Cool, the myth might be at least as effective as a raft of detailed, costed policies produced by a ministry full of experts. The medium is the message, I suppose.
All of which sounds like a return to a far more regal, courtly style of rule between powerful leaders. A whiff of Deripaska. A further centralisation of power, rather than the redistribution which the people who elected Obama expect.
Looking back, this victory will be seen as a the first internet election, when individuals played a bigger part than ever in deciding the political outcome by the warm glow of their monitors. But on the evidence so far, Obama might also be the first virtual president. A CGI model of political appeal. If the good folks at Industrial Light & Magic were commissioned to produce an avatar to melt the hearts and minds of as many people as possible in an age of frantic chaos, who else could they come up with but a mixed race, glowingly-handsome, basketball-playing father of twoe with a gorgeous wife and no convictions? An American Adonis. A Coltrane-cool vision of self-control and Hope. And Change - however vague and dependent merely on the differences between Obama and the stumbling chimpanzee Bush.
If this is all bluff, who will call it first? At some point, this American president is not going to be able to put off the question of Robert Mugabe. If Obama is real, the old bastard's days are numbered. The discreet villa beckons. Surely a decrepit wounded dinosaur like Mugabe cannot withstand the healing spirit of the great redeemer? But what if he does? And what will Valdimir Putin do with this political whelp who has never poisoned any opponents, apart from announcing new missile bases on the edge of NATO territory?
And underneath all the global expectation, is still the untapped depth of domestic redneck resentment and race hate. The less savoury cousins of the people who booed Chips McCain's speech last night acknowledging defeat. Those who agree with Slim Pickens that
"Here we take the good time and trouble to slaughter every last injun in the west, and for what? So that they can appoint a president that's blacker'n any injun. Boy, am I depressed."Barack Obama may be all that he seems. He may indeed embody all the Hope he has been commissioned with, and his promises may all be kept, in which case, we will indeed have entered the Promised Land, even if we've still no idea of what it might be like. At the moment, it still seems more like Jam Tomorrow than anything real.
But not perhaps as unreal as the fact that a black president has been elected with so little fuss. The fact that the first black presidency also happens to be one of the most difficult jobs the world has ever seen, with more responsibility on the head of the poor sap in charge, is obviously a massive co-incedence. And if he happens to succumb to this massive historic burden, and fail to live up to expectation, that is hardly likely to deter the American people from electing another black president for 50 years at all.
Here's hoping that the immortal pledge of Obama The Builder is honoured:
(Isaiah 9:6) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.