With at least half of the UK under water, it seems an obvious thing to be thinking of getting a boat. So I'm in the middle of bidding for an inflateable 2 person kayak on ebay. This is not so much for survival purposes, I don't fear flooding despite the dire warnings of severe weather for the weekend, it's all down to the topography. People shouldn't live in flood plains without superior drainage and flood defences at the best of times, in these changing times, it seems a dangerous risk to take. Yet most seem unaware that this could be the norm. They can barely cope with a one off, the coming weekend could make matters hugely worse, and should at the least provide a warning. We have Australia's rain as well as our own. Yet despite the obvious devastation across vast areas of the countryside and including major cities like Nottingham, the head of the Environment Agency claimed that their flood defences had been adequate, and in some cases, too good. She based this on the fact that the defences hadn't crumbled, and were still intact, they were just underwater.
Abject stupidity like this is typical of the ruling class in this country, yet they speak of joined up thinking as if the phrase means something to them. In other countries in this last week, hundreds of people died from environmental backlash, here it was only six, but that's just a start. They need an oracle to tell them what's going to happen in the future, because their imagination is just not up to the task. The change of leader is nothing but froth and spin, the same old same old, all mouth and trousers and no substance. As erstwhile environment minister Miliband is now foreign secretary, we can hope that international relations might concentrate a bit more on the planet. Miliband seemed to have learnt some things at Defra, if only from the huge feedback on his blog. He'll be too grand for that now no doubt.
As if to confirm that Glastonbury is well and truly changed beyond any comparison with what we went to in the seventees and eightees, the news that the hypocritical bully, Michael Eavis, who has made a lot of money from the work and creativity of alternative types, otherwise known as hippies and travellers, over several decades, is to receive a knighthood, I hear that a whole field was rented by a company which erected top end celebrity tents complete with furnished bedrooms, showers and probably jacuzzis, which were rented out to slags fresh over from Ascot for £9,000 for the weekend. It's now a yuppyfest which has become a right of passage for every overpriviledged brat in the country who can afford the ludicrous price, they can then say they were there, and if it rains all weekend like it did again this year, so much the better, for the experience. Of course many of them left early, starting from Saturday, and there were probably not many left for Shirley Bassey [I can't believe I just wrote that, I'll have to do it again for effect, Shirley Bassey] on Sunday. If, way back in 1984, someone had remarked round a sitecrew camp fire up in the Greenfield: 'in twenty years time they'll probably be charging several hundred quid to come here and they'll have Shirley Bassey as main act' everyone would have fallen about hysterically [even the drugs were better then].
Glastonbury isn't the only place that's got it in the neck the last few days. Tales of a month's rain in three hours across the midlands, much of which is flooded as a result, drains can't handle it and are popping manhole covers and the flood is sweeping away sections of tarmac, floating cars off down roads and generally making a mockery of man's efforts. And this is just the start. If chaos results with what will come to be seen as mild weather events when climate change really kicks in and starts to bite, what hope have we that the infrastructure and operational ability of the emergency services is going to be up to coping for much longer. Boscastle got it again, after just completing rebuilding, and there surely must be some wondering if the place has a future despite the flood barriers that saved it from quite as much damage this time. What's needed is, of course, planning, but it's all reactive, each event is 'one in a million' highest since records began. No pattern is seen demanding coordinated attention.
I'm thinking of a boat. Always a good thing to have in trying times, or even just for mucking about in at weekends. But getting close to being an essential these days, along with a cache of survival gear, food supplies etc.
Having inherited the leadership of his party - and thus the premiership - from the appalling liar and war criminal Blair, without anyone voting for him, Gordon Brown chooses to declare his opposition to any semblence of democracy in the UK by stating that there won't be a referendum on the new EU constitution because it won't be necessary, he will already have ensured it is acceptable. With this one act he makes clear he is unfit for office, being uninterested in democracy or even paying lip service to it, and is already at a stage or arrogance that usually happens after a few years of power. We will have no say, unlike other EU countries like Holland whose electorates have already soundly rejected any idea of a common constitution, as the first step to a Euro Superstate. Politicians are always keen to consolidate and increase their power, a United States of Europe would gratify all their egos, while costing taxpayers billions in yet another tier of bureaucracy, when all that was needed was a common trading market. I forecast Brown will lose when they have to go to the electorate in a general election; people don't like being sidelined and ignored, and there's a lot of opposition to the frankly strange Brown with his deranged walk, facial ticks, speech impediment and Scots Presbyterian attitudes. The pity is that the Tories will get in and they are just as inept and corrupt without the redeeming quality of having at least some in the party with a conscience and a few good ideas.
This was the headline to an article in The Independent yesterday which at last starts spelling it out like it is, rather than how people would like it to be. I've been saying it all for years, but now six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.
They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets. It's going to be several metres folks, and that includes most major world cities including London. And the rate of warming is increasing with a feedback mechanism, which will speed up as artic and glacier ice which presently reflects radiation out into space turns to water, which doesn't. Increasingly, low lying areas in the UK get flooded, either by rivers bursting their banks, or from excessive rainfall as just fell across Shropshire and Herefordshire, with the drainage system unable to cope with twice June's average rainfall in one hour. This makes the UK officially a monsoon country.
An easy way to help an organization or cause you care about is through a new search engine powered by Yahoo! called GoodSearch. GoodSearch will make a donation of 1p to your favorite charity or school with every search you make. It doesn't cost you a thing - the money comes from the advertisers. The more people who use the site, the more money will go to those in need. You can also read about GoodSearch in the NY Times, Oprah Magazine, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and more.
I'm donating to Sea Shepherd who are doing brilliant work against the whalers, and, while searching for Japanese whalers, are tracking down and confiscating illegal long lines from the criminals who roam the seas draining the sea of all the wildlife for profit. They are the only people willing and able to take on whalers, and are increasingly successful in stopping them; damaging their vessels, and filming their behaviour. So, it's goodbye Google, hallo Goodsearch!
There are major changes happening, and, as with most change, will remain largely unnoticed and uncommented on until they have happened. Multiculturalism was a bit like that, it crept up on most people and was assumed to be the way we should go by most people, the natural extension of anti-racism, the welcoming of immigrants, an inclusive society. Of course it's turned out as I and a few others expected, bantustans have grown into substantial ethnic ghettoes, a growing number of people don't speak English, even as a second language, friction occasionally erupts between ethnic ghettoes and through it all the indiginous population grows ever more resentful. I would go so far as to say that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism among the young, mostly UK born Muslims is a direct result of the policy of multiculturalism.
Being in the EU is resulting in a deluge of Eastern Euopean migrants, no longer restricted to seasonal farm work, they are now arriving intending to stay. As is most often the case with large influxes of people, the places where the first ones end up, usually become the centre of the movement of the ones who follow, and thus a whole area gets a rapid change of demographics. Natives feel swamped, threatened, overwhelmed. No society in history has ever coped with large numbers of strangers moving in. It disturbs the (however vaguely felt) tribal cohesion, and the most affected are the inarticulate, the uneducated, where racism is never far away.
If all the Eastern European immigrants presently arriving were to occupy their own separate area, not learn English, run their own schools - on tax payers education grants - and disdain the British culture, there is bound to be trouble. But hopefully they will integrate quickly - they are mostly quite young and therefore adaptable - and will be assimilated rapidly without too much friction. Under the apartheid-like doctrine of multiculturalism, assimilation became a dirty word, yet that is obviously the healthiest path for immigrants and for our society. There always was diversity, the chatterati made the mistake of equating separate ethnic enclaves with diversity, failing to understand that diversity thrives within an integrated macro culture which everyone belongs to, then there's plenty of room for sub-cultures, it's how it works. Countries like India with a multitude of separate cultures have always been plagued with problems we have not up to now experienced. Call it paying the price for our empire, but it's all being mismanaged so badly that one day Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech may return to haunt us. We are witnessing cultural war in Iraq as the chaos created by the dismantling of all civilian and military structures has released the genie of gang warfare. It could yet happen here if anything breaks down the social order.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Leominster was a dull little market
town in the middle of a rural area reamarkable for its black and white timber
framed Tudor houses than anything else, but there is a wealth of diversity
here which is forever fascinating. My natural reticence to intrude on people’s
privacy usually inhibits me from photographing the odd characters around
the town, but I really should get over it and get snapping. A photographer
really has to treat people as part of the picture whether they’re
a Leominster character or a dead princess or all is lost.
There’s one guy who wears a stetson so big it would stand out in Texas as being over large, this is bad enough, but he looks like a ferret wearing a stetson. I recently saw him wearing a suit, matching jacket and trousers rather loosely tailored for his ‘wiry’ frame, made of the most lurid faux camouflage material I have seen, consisting of black, brown, green and yellow splodges on a white background. He looked like he’d escaped from the animated version of Yellow Submarine.
The man in Somerfield caused quite a stir, but a quiet stir as no one, in true British fashion, wanted to either a) attract his attention out of politeness, and b) give him an excuse to enagage them in conversation. He wore a black lace see through women’s blouse, over which was a pink cardigan, unbuttoned. A matching short black lace skirt barely covered his buttocks and black knee high nylon socks completed his ensemble. Just no shoes, just socks. He acted totally normally as if dressed in T shirt and jeans. The store became quiet and watchful until he left, then burst into excited chatter.
A recent event managed to make it onto the front page of the local newspaper a story about a gunman who had held up Somerfield. As the rumour which swept the town had it the gunman was Eastern European, some said Polish. As we have a lot of fruit pickers from Eastern Europe currently, this wasn’t immediately challenged, but turned out to be false. It was just a local fantasist who had mentioned to a pregnant woman that he was from the time police, and she later reported to the police that she thought he had a gun. Having a mobile phone doubtless made it an easier decision for her to call them. Dozens of armed police and dogs [the dogs weren’t armed, except with teeth] surrounded the supermarket, ordered all staff and customers out and went inside, searched the store and did their shopping, in the process arresting said inoffensive fantasist, but finding no gun. ‘I’m not supposed to get excited’ said the pregnant woman.
With 3,200 migrant workers from several recent additions to the EU swelling Leominster’s population of approx. 11,000, life can only get more interesting, although so far they look pretty ordinary; western clothes, mobiles, sunglasses, tans, send money home at the post office, open bank accounts and visit estate agents. We may be seeing the start of the change of demographics in Leominster, which has up to now seen very little inward migration, even from other UK counties.
A footnote in history
That's what the G8 meeting recently concluded will be, another act of fiddling while the planet burns. It exposes the reality of politicians, they lack imagination and have no idea what to do or even about the severity of the disaster we're racing towards. They think it's something for 'future generations' to deal with. Even at face value, the agreement they almost got but didn't, 50% reduction by 2050, is pathetically inadequate to address the problem. They produce a bunch of words, pose for the cameras, eat a few banquets and leave. Fact is, everyone has to act as if there is no government, it's the only way to tackle it [if it isn't already too late, but then we must do it for the surviving species].
At last a spammer, by all media accounts the most prolific, has been jailed. Not for long enough, it should have been life, but it still sends out a message to the other lowlife who make people's lives a daily misery. Lets hope more follow. I had noticed a sudden drop off in the spam that I was getting. It had been at around 200 a day; at least 30+ every morning when I booted up, sometimes as many as fifty, then throughout the day they continued to come in threes and fives. And this despite my ISP blocking a load so that when I went to their online mail server it had over 3,000 spam lodged there, all of which had to be deleted, and my own spam blocker was getting most by now, having eventually learned what spam was. Then this spammer goes down and it drops to around twenty a day, with only a handful first thing. It's like a nagging toothache suddenly clearing up on its own, the pressure is eased, although it will doubtless mount up again as the lists will continue to be sold on to hopeful get rich quick degenerates. I would personally support execution for spammers, the only real way to deal with them, and likely to have much more dependable knock on effects. If mere possession of a spamming list were also an offence, we might start to make serious inroads on something that could yet shut the internet down by sheer volume. Of course the one they caught was American, most are, so he's probably out on bail pending appeal, when the supreme court will declare his constitutional rights are being threatened.
Bushmonkey, having been in a state of flat denial over climate change for a decade or more since he first heard about it, is now claiming that America must lead the world on action to combat it. Either Bushmonkey has had a Damascene moment or he's up to something. Probably a divertionary move to take any steam out of anything about climate change at the pending G* meeting. No need to agree anything there, it's all in hand for the big American convened one which will include China and India, and will obviously agree nothing that will threaten economic growth. It's just coming out that the whole business [and boy is it a business] of emissions trading is so corrupt as to be meaningless, which is what I've been arguing all along. The answer to global warming isn't to continue as before but pay a poor country not to pollute in the future.
Unsurprisingly, emissions have continued to rise over the last few years, and it's going to have to get much hairier before any of the suits sit up and really take notice. And still they'll do nothing as to voluntarily opt for a reduction in the world economy and in everything that feeds into itis unthinkable to any of them. We will therefore inevitably head full pelt towards extinction while they bring out ever more convoluted arguments to show the problem is being tackled, hold more conferences, write more reports, and will fail even to move people to higher ground. As most productive farmland is low lying; river flood plains, coastal areas, the present human population can't be sustained with a massive loss of this vital resource, inevitable with several metres of sea level rise. Add to that increasingly violent storms and surges and it is not looking good for homo sapiens.
We are more used to taking other species to extinction, it's too novel for many to consider that we're doing it to our own.
Without criticising them in any way, it is interesting to have watched the transformation of the McCanns, parents of abducted Madeleine, from being 'the parents of abducted Madeleine McCann' to playing the role of the parents of an abducted child. This is inevitable in our modern media-rich society. One can understand the pressures on parents in this situation, desperate to do anything, comply with any suggestion, to bring their child back to them. But the urgency can act to remove any semblence of will, of making decisions, because the media has its own agenda, and they are now the centre of a media circus that in their case is now on a world tour, having swept off to Rome in a private jet loaned by a media tycoon [with video rights bringing in a packet with world sales] to meet the Pope, and now off covering Europe complete with an entourage of media. Gigs in major cities can't be far off.
Desperately trying to cling to their memory of their daughter amongst all this frenzy, the McCanns have managed the experience with dignity. So far. To leave your remaining two children, younger than their sister who they must be missing, is quite a decision in these circumstances, and I can only assume their catholic 'faith' convinced them that meeting the pope was more important than their children suffering further from stress. Perhaps they thought he might produce a miracle. All he did was hold their hands then wave a hand over a photograph, pretty much as anyone would really.
As well as media overkill there's also a website, and a fund of hundreds of thousands of pounds, presumably to cover all expenses, so they have no financial concerns, and it seems unlikely they will ever return to being ordinary doctors. They are now celebrities, they are the story now, and, although their celebrity status was unsought, celebrity has its own attractions, and few manage to remain unseduced. It's addictive to be recognised and treated as if special. Major celebrities have sought them out to be seen and photographed with, others with flagging careers in front of the camera like Beckham have made TV appearances talking about their case, they are welcomed with respect wherever they go. There's a pressure for every publicity seeking phoney to get in on the act and make statements; Blair's done one, Brown's done one, Tom, Dick and Harry have all made appeals or statements, just to be seen to care. Whether the McCanns get their daughter back or not, and it's not looking good, their lives can never be the same again.
scenes from this war will create thousands maybe even millions of militants
intent on inflicting damage on the only superpower. The war will be waged
across America and in any American outpost and embassy. It will be brutal
and messy and will continue for decades. Bush doesn't know what he has unleashed.
Fool on the hill March 2003
Some links to interesting climate-change related websites:
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