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June 29 2005

Make pop stars history

Bob Geldof must be after secular sainthood. Missing the excitement of Live Aid where all his rich pop friends paraded their egos for the starving to fest on them, he's now really fockin angry and is shouting his mouth off at every opportunity, upsetting all kinds of people, including African musicians of the calibre of Ali Farka Toure and Mamadou Diabaté who refuse to play with him at Live8, the TV rights of which should make Bob more well known than the Pope, Ossama Bin Laden, and Jesus together. The fatuous slogan make poverty history has been shouted by the likes of Michael Eavis on the stage at Glastonbury, which is a joke on its own, and chanted by crowds of mindless pop fans who like all crowds like to shout in unison, as the Nazis discovered early on.

I find it offensive that people with far too much money shout make poverty history. Call me old fashioned, but hypocrisy on that scale makes me want to puke. It's all steps in the career of Saint Bob, world loudmouth conscience. His sickening TV commercials with him playing the caring white man complete with hat, playing benevolently with the little black kids, telling us what a hard life they live, and still without once combing his hair, is a milestone in bad taste TV.

It won't make a blind bit of difference to Africa whose problems run deeper than a pop star could ever understand, and as global warming is going to extrend the desert from the Moroccan coast in the north to Cape Town in the south, there doesn't seem a lot of sense doing anything much other than work out where we're going to put all the refugees. As the latest calculations find that the UK will be separated into dozens of islands with all low lying areas inundated, and southern Europe will become too hot, there's going to be a crush in the temperate zones of middle Europe.


June 25 2005

The festival continues

Once again thousands of people of all ages are at Glasonbury, trying to capture again, or for the first time, what they call the Glastonbury experience. This time there are 120,000 of them, and by all accounts on the media they are having an experience, with most of the campsite floating off downhill after the skies opened and deposited another of the downpours it's now common to see hitting one part of the country or another. Last week it was north Yorkshire, this week its Wiltshire. Of course the site is unsuitable for coping with lots of water, as has been apparent with the festivals on several previous years, as it's a valley without any drainage except down the slopes, which, if they were covered in grass and nurturing only cows would be fine. As they are trampled over constantly by thousands of boots and flip flops, the addition of water turns the trashed grass and soil into mud very quickly. It's probably the only real part of the whole trip now, as the festival had already during the eightees and ninetees, become a monster which many couldn't ignore even though they hated most aspects of it.

It has over the decades been the front line between freaks/hippies and straights; the one providing the inspiration, comedy, music andf muscle, the other providing the money, paranoia, security and fences. Although freaks have proved many times that they can put on a fine festival without the assistance of the other side, this has been made more and more difficult by legislation, aimed mostly at free festvals which were a bad example to the masses with a strong anti-capitalism message, it has caught many who tried to do it the straight way, by the book, with increasingly intrusive bye-laws which made organising anything larger than a garden party for a few friends a bureacratic nightmare. The straights without freaks can manage military tattoos and even steam rallies, but it ain't the same thing bya long chalk, and they can't organise a real festival. So it's ever been an unfriendly alliance, and I've witnessed many instances of differences of opinion while involved with what goes on before the festival when green fields are still untouched by human feet.

Glastonbury now is an icon, it is something you have to be able to say 'I've been there' about, even if it's only once. They've seen it on the TV, and ever since Woodstock there have been the cliches everyone expects, the mud sliding, the joint rolling, and many when the go for the first time, their heads full of these images, naturally wish to repeat them, to involve themselves in the full experience. People with cameras likewise have to shoot this iconic Glastonbury scene, and the newspapers are full of them. It's as dependable as the pic of queenie aside a horse at trooping the colour, everyone feels comfortable, there's nowt wrong with the world if there's a couple covered in mud at Glastonbury.

The reality is that tens of thousands of people are on the move constantly; either to or from the toilets which are inevitably half a mile and a long queue away, or going to fetch water or carrying it back to the campsite, going shopping in the two thousand shops set up especially to tempt festals from their money, looking for a friend or just wandering around looking for something to stare at before moving on. When this is accompanied by rain, a fine mousse of mud is created very quickly of about a foot deep, through which everyone ploughs in slow motion and with much squelching and not only flip-flops but boots are sucked from feet never to be found.

Unless you're lucky enough to live in the Green Fields which overlook the site and stayed green thoughout the mud years, the reality of Glastonbury is standing in mud. Whether you are listening to a band, eating, pissing or phoning home for a helicopter rescue, you are standing in mud. The bands are lucky as they're high above it on a dry stage, but if they displease they are likely to have their share of the mud thrown at them from below. When you think that this mud, until a week ago had cows walking about on it and defecating, and when you think of the size and consistency of cow pats, it's not the sort of thing you would want to get on your hands, least of all walk around in all day and go to bed at night covered in. If it doesn't dry fairly quickly as Michael Eavis the owner of Worthy Farm and promoter of the festival gaily claimed [he goes back to his farmhouse], there could be outbreaks of illness. The luck of Glastonbury is that most cases will materialise on the journey home and will after recovery pass into the vague memories of the Glastonbury experience.

It's problem is it's popularity. Nothing can grow like that and not become Babylon. To be in the shopping mall area, which grows bigger every year, is a nightmare; a cross between a souk and Brent Cross on speed, every stall holder desperate to sell sell sell to make the massive stall charge back and start to make a profit. The ones who always sell out if there's rain are the ones who brought a truck load of wellington boots. Entrepreneurs in past wet years have made a killing with small pieces of plastic to wrap round the feet. Scavengers will already be washing out and drying the thousands of sleeping bags and tents abandoned to the flood. After a month of cleanup, the fields will be resown with grass, and if it isn't a drought by then, the cows will return and start to munch again. I think the best thing about the whole thing is that litter picking is taken very seriously and nothiong is left which could harm a cow.


June 20 2005

The warming continues

Now North Yorkshire has been the target for the Boscastle effect; sudden, incredibly heavy downpour that caused widespread flooding. While the rest of the country baked, a large area of the county was under water, people being rescued from their roofs by helicopter, farm animals drowned and the river 18 feet above normal! Nowhere for it to go any more, too much concrete and tarmac. And this is just the start. Flood plains are precisely that, to treat them as prime building land is to ignore the processes of nature, and the results are perfectly predictable. The Environment Agency's response so far is 'listen to weather forecasts ....' not very helpful in the circumstances. Stop building on flood plains would be more apposite. Worst news is a boarding kennel was flooded and lots of dogs drowned, the owner is 'upset', but not that upset or he'd have made sure they were all safe, it wasn't that sudden. Humans always think of their own, and even report no casualties as long as no humans die. I would never leave my dog in a commercial prison for canines anyway, so the 'owners' have no excuse, not the fault of the dogs who had no choice in the matter. Some responsibility huh?

The Queen has a cold! She's cancelled three engagements, so in other words she's pulling a sickie. Still, she's past retirement age poor cow. Couldn't have been taking her echinacea.


June 17 2005

You are what you eat

As if meat eaters hadn't been scared enough with BSE which still refuses to go away and is now cropping up in the US, Canada and Japan, presumably three major beef eating nations, comes the news that eating red meat substantially increases the chances of bowel cancer especially is there is too little roughage included in the diet. As dedicated red meat eaters often eschew instead of chew vegetables, this means all those hard men with their liking for steaks and other bits of animal bodies are likely developing tumours. Seems there is a kind of justice after all. Unmoved by the animal suffering they cause, they are on the road to a bit of pain themselves.

The pathetic sight of Michael Jackson walking gingerly from court after being aquitted of all charges with no triumphalism shows how the experience has taken it out of him. He's a strange fish, but even in the US that's not a crime yet, so the jury were right to aquit him when the only case against him was based on a family of scam artists with a record of extortion plus a couple of disgruntled employees attracted by the likelihood of payoffs. Even the jury were offered large sums as they came out of the court. Despite the aquittal most seem to think some of the claims were true and many that he should have been found guilty. He just didn't realise that in this day and age you can't go sharing your bed with teenage boys and expect people to believe you didn't molest them. Suspicious minds won't be convinced he's retarded in development and in many ways still a child.

The doves are hanging around a lot again, which is bad news as they're the Morriseys of the birds world; two notes repeated until you feel like committing suicide. I shall have to build a bat box, as I have the plans, and bats regularly fly about over the garden in the evening picking flies out of the air, and it would be nice to have some living here.


June 9 2005

Spamming for Amerika

The magpie's back after a break of several weeks! He's hopping about in the branches of the lilac tree trying to spot bits of breqad on the lawn, which he will typically spend ten or more minutes sussing out before swooping down to grab a piece, careful birds magpies, probably because they are clearly very intelligent and have lrearned a thing or two about lawns and cats, and passed it on to their children. The blackbirds are all grown now and off out in the world, still singing in the evening close by which is worth having the windows open for. The swifts, natural-born top guns of the bird world, are doing their aerobatics, flashing across the sky, leaving vapour trails in the mind. Just the thought that they don't usually stop flying and come down to earth ever is pretty amazing, living permanently in the air, soaring and sleeping on the wing. Of course they must to have and raise their babies, but they probably even have sex in the air, which is worth a moment's reflection on its own. If it weren't for them there would be so many more flies around to make life miserable for us earth-bound creatures, which doesn't stop the Portuguese and Spanish slaughtering them wholesale with guns as 'sport' as they migrate over their countries.

The latest spam seems to be coming from the Phillipines, a country so far up America's anus they can't see who they're aiming at. Not content to export a fair percentage of their young women to be 'brides' to wealthy, aged sex perverts in western countries, they are now onto the pyramid scam idea, which is basically to spam as many people as possible with ludicrous tales of making big bucks in weeks and retiring in a year, the usual get rich quick mentality which America has been wallowing for centuries. Like the snake-oil salemen they are offering nothing except the idea of a quick fix, and all depend on a ready supply of mugs who find thinking difficult but who have money to spare and are greed personified [so most US citizens]. Something for nothing and the kids for free [reminds me of Mark Knopfler for some reason].

The net is awash with these people, there are now millions of sites, all badly designed, all offering, well, it's difficult to actually pin down what they are offering, but ultimately it comes down to an idea. The idea of getting something for nothing by signing up as many people as you can; all relatives friends and aquaintances and the family cat, into a scheme which is big on promises but low in actual real content. You might get to read a FREE ebook which reiterates the get rich mantra with pics of lazy fat yanks grinning from the poolside of their luxury house etc. or posing next to a shiny new air-pollutermobile, along with many exclamation marks and promises of giving up the day job. As many people are pissed off with their day job, the appeal of 'work from home and make thousands in weeks' is bound to fall on fertile ground, but the only people who make anything are the ones who milk the marks/punters who eventually have to pay to be enrolled in some scheme or other, or to be accepted into the top tier of the MLM [Multi-Layer Marketing] scam. At the end of it all, there's never anything real that gets sold, it's all about the idea of getting rich, so you suck people in and they suck people in and so on, and the suits who started it get cash flowing into their pockets from all the naives who don't twig it, and everyone else eventually falls out with their relatives for being so gullible. Lately, their rhetoric has included talk of being ripped off in schemes, promising that their scheme isn't like all the others, but actually delivers, whilst acknowledging that many will have been already burned, some several times over.

It's a kind of canibalism. What a species; we devour our own kind in one way or another in the search for more, more, more. Never content and satisfied, we create misery for others by never being happy with what we've got. So Geldoff and his millionaire mates have a long way to go to convince me they're going to end poverty now, or ever. They don't lead by example and give away their riches and reject their devouring lifestyle. I mean, having Reg 'Elton' Dwight there on the stage with him talking about poverty, when the self-publicising queen spends more on himself shopping in one day than most people in the UK earn in a year, is a joke isn't it? They all need introducing to a baseball bat in my humble opinion. They are part of the problem, however much Geldoff abstains from brushing his hair. The suits, especially the police suits, are panicking over a million going to Edinburgh and causing mayhem, but just because Saint Bob said he wanted a million, doesn't mean that the million and first person will say, 'oh, already got the million, I'll go home then'. It could be two million, or three, who knows. I just hope Saint Bob has a few loaves and fishes with him or there'll be mass starvation in Edinburgh, never mind Africa.

Speaking of saints and other religious nutters, the gov is about to push through the anti religious defamation bill which will enable all religionistas of whatever mental state to cause hassle for any free thinkers who criticise them or just piss them off with their attitude. So I'd better get in quick before prosecution looms. Not content with closing down theatres and burning books, the religious nutters of whatever so-called faith are on the ascendancy with one of their kind in the job of PM, and are doubtless relishing the idea of flexing their underdeveloped mental muscles. They failed to bully the BBC into cancelling Jerry Springer, the Musical, but now it's going 'oop north' some deranged seventh-day adventurist or street corner biblical texist, is making loud noises to prevent northerners from seeing it, drawing courage from the Sikhs closing down a theatre showing a play written by a Sikh woman about domestic violence in the Sikh community. Muslims regularly shut up criticism of their deranged beliefs, while making inroads into political representation with vote rigging and corruption of local and national government, so naturally the Christians are feeling a bit left out despite having blasphemy laws already to protect their sensitive brains from too much to cope with. Anyone who believes that the creator of the known universe and everything has a personal interest in them is by definition deeply stupid and self obsessed to the point of madness. I consider religion to be a mental virus akin to the computer viruses which can cause us so much hassle. They also are spread deliberately by infected individuals and get worse when allowed to run rampant for years without a virus cleanser sorting them out. Still, it sorts out the adequately itelligenced from the inadequates, so there's some good comes from it. Whether I'll be able to say any of this in a few weeks time is debateable. But I suspect this ludicrous law will be challenged over and over by those of us with efficiently working brains. Maybe the idea of putting LSD in the water supply, current in the sixties, wasn't such a bad idea after all.


June 62005

I knew it

So we won't have a referendum, why aren't I surprised. Poland is going ahead, their new democratic politicians are still unsure enough of themselves and their jobs to do anything else, but the seedy gang, who, like the illegitimate Bush junta are deeply unpopular, are not going to risk another blow to their reputation even if it does mean pissing off a large segment of the population; it's the same segment which is already pissed off with them over the war and the lies and a lot else besides. Their friends in the media have been rubbishing the very idea that the UK would go ahead in readyness for the decision, so many will remain unmoved, among those that are even aware that a constitution is there to be voting on by all member states of the EU. If all results had been kept in a bank vault until all had been held, then there would have been a fair vote by all members. For the issue to be decided by France, then backed up by Holland, is no way to hold a referendum. It's like much of the country being refused participation in an important UK referendum because Surrey had voted no followed by Rutland so there wasn't any point.

Listened to a programme on Radio 4 about the Iberian Lynx in Portugal, where hunting is very popular, and they regularly decimate migrating birds and even raptors by shooting anything and everything in the sky and on the earth. These astute hunters have suddenly discovered they haven't seen any lynx, their national icon, for several years, and are now turning land over to rabbits which have all but died out because of overbreeding and disease, even feeding them to get them started, and digging over soil to help them make burrows, to aid in the lynx returning to its previous numbers. The lynx doesn't, apparently, eat human flesh, which is a shame for the lynx as there will be a surfeit of it one day and they might still starve. Wolves have no such dietary restriction, and, while not ever being known for hunting or killing humans, will always clear up anything dead, which is why their 'cousins', dogs, fair pretty well after a war if they can avoid being shot or blown up. And are terrifically useful too, along with the rats and flies, in clearing up the detritis of war, which would otherwise cause disease and pollution. It's not known if the Lynx's avoidance of human flesh is religious or not.

Global warming has at last caught the imagination of the media, and they have decided that it's a 'big thing'. They don't still have much of a grasp of the consequences however, so it's all a bit shallow and their invited experts usually pale green spokespersons for big business, or the status quo. They want their cake and eat it in other words. So, whilst taking onboard what hippies/greens have been preaching for several decades without so much as a nod of acknowledgement that we were right all along, they still think their exploitive lifestyle can continue, with just a few green tweaks, and they're eager to be told what tweaks will enable them to continue as before without having this nagging worry eating away at their sense of security and self fullfillment. How long before they realise it isn't that easy and it means dramatic downsizing and curtailment? Probably about the time the whole ecosystem turns ape-shit chaotic and makes it unviable to sustain this many billions of us any longer. Australia is in its fourth year of drought. India is still awaiting the monsoons on which its agriculture depends, now several weeks late. Most of the UK is on a 'hosepipe ban' or first stage of water restriction with most reservoirs at half their normal level, and a long hot summer is promised, once it gets started. June and overnight frosts are expected, there's only so much nature can put up with, it's getting crazy.

Meanwhile, the media are now discussing at long last a tax on aviation fuel [but not too seriously mind], and of increasing the cost of motoring with higher road tax. The government, loony to the last, is proposing a satellite based road monitoring scheme to track every car on every journey and send the owner a computer generated bill, based on higher charges for congested routes. Apart from the fact that this would, if it could ever be got to work, drive so much traffic onto minor roads and clog them up, it is the product of a deranged weak mind, Alistair Darling's. Confirmation of my long time held feeling that he looked particularly thick. They have never got a massive computerised system to work. They admit that the technology to do it doesn't yet exist, but are proposing it as a sensible way to reduce congestion. Its preposterous, yet could waste many hundreds of millions if they ever embarked on it.

The answer is staring them in the face; you remove road tax and you wack up the tax on fuel to such a point that everyone has to consider very carefully whether they make a journey or not. If it were £5 a gallon, making a long journey on a whim as many do, would be immediately a case of 'can we afford it'. You can't reduce congestion on some roads by driving it onto others. You have to reduce the level of traffic by making each journey have a high cost. I shall have to write to Alistair and tell him his idea is crap and why. Some might think from all the fuss going on about global warming, that we've won and got our message over at last. I don't think any of them have left the captain's party on the Titanic yet, although a few may be vaguely aware that something's up. Meanwhile Geldoff, immersed in his rich rock star lifestyle and circle of often millionnaire buddies, shouts at everybody to halve Africa's debt or double its aid or something pretty inchoate. Of course there's a problem between rich and poor Bob, you're part of it until you give all your dough away and persuade Elton and all the other spoiled darlings to do likewise, and attack the system which creates and uses poverty. Without the rich there would be no need for the poor. On a country level it's obviously objectionable, but it's created by the terms of trade which are dictated by the capitalists to feed their greedy shareholders. It's an exploitive deeply destructive system and it's not just Africa which gets clobbered, the environment gets it too and ultimately we'll all suffer it. Just because some couldn't or wouldn't control their greed. One day the wolves will devour the bodies of the rich wherever they perish from starvation, unable to comprehend why their money can't find them food.

A good site to read about your MP and how they vote, hear their speeches etc. is http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ an entirely volunteer run site, which is a real service to democracy. You can either select your MP from a list, or type in your postcode. Each MP has a page to themselves, and there's even an itemised listing of expenses, you'll be surpsised at how high some of them are.


June 3 2005

Is it me?

I did a little job yesterday for a market research company I do occasional work for. It involved inspecting a number of targeted cash machines and reporting on them via the website, and including one transaction with both fee charging and non-fee charging machines. I had done all those in my home town, the only place accessible with cash machines for many miles around, and had missed one, the HSBC, which I was assured had one outside its branch. Having walked round the town on several circuitous routes twice already, I was loath to set off again to find out. It seemed a call to HSBC to check would save me a wasted journey. The call was answered by a guy in Delhi, who clearly couldn't pop out and check, so he investigated using a number of databases and, I suspect, a call to HSBC in the UK, and said there was indeed a cash machine outside the branch. He agreed it was a ludicrous situation; Several international phone lines used to find out what would have taken me ten minutes to walk. Apparently, the sheer idiocy of outsourcing something like information to Indian graduates thousands of miles away, is perceived by almost everyone and the call centre people in Mumbai or Delhi get regular abuse. I think instinctively ordinary people are waking up to what globalisation is doing, the rich continue to get richer and people are traded as production units with profit margins, and all for the benefit of the idle rich shareholders who can thus shop, and keep lots of arty parasites in an opulant lifestyle making glittery baubles for them to waste their money on by way of indulgence. It's wasteful, unsustainable and stupid, but hey, it's all we've got. And anyway, HSBC stands for Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, so why should they employ British people to handle customer accounts enquiries and questions like is there a cash machine outside my branch? Why should anyone expect them to give a fuck.


June 1 2005

Memphis in June

Our Blackbird, the one who sings the first phrase of Memphis in June by Nina Simone, is still around and singing, or perhaps it's become part of the 'family' song and he teaches all his sons when they get to the point of learning to sing. Only the males sing, it's part of their macho display and territorial marking.

I'm relying on the Dutch, an excellent people with such a cool, sensible take on the world, to trash the boneheads of the political elite even more decisively than their French co-workers, even if it does mean the Brits will be cheated out of our right to compete in the 'bash the suits' opportunity once it becomes obvious that all the populations feel much the same about the arrogance of the political class which thinks it rules by divine right. Their euro-dream of an ever-expanding EEC is finally pulled up short.

  

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