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MAY 2003

Wednesday 28 May 2003 - we got to get ourselves back to the garden …

The trouble is, once you default on the every day rule, the control is gone, other things intrude, there's no longer the urgency! A rare email from a friend can prompt a torrented response that fulfills that day's need to get it down. The writer is sated and days pass. So I ought to make the postings more interesting if not regular, but that too takes inspiration and I'm best on instant response rather than long considered epigraphs.
Today I wrote to Fraser [Phraser] of the parallel youniversity about something that niggles me every time I read his 'alternative stuff, and his mails and site reminded me; the tendency of many 'alternatives' to indulge in wistful, fey stuff about zodiacs and dragons, a hodge podge of eastern pseudo mysticism and political comment as if they needed their own religion to motivate them. I was never persuaded to change my name to Bilbo or start wearing clown costume, always regetted that it played into the hands of those who would rubbish the very serious message the hippies were giving. I might even have contributed to what the hippies/greens were saying being rubbished for so long, when it needed to be heeded and acted on. Too many 'alternatives' have been content to attend festivals and groove with long lost friends, play at sustainable living while leaving a mess for someone else to clear up. I've done a lot of litter picking at Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Barsham and Rougham and many other lovely sites. It's taken together people to develop wind energy, and solar power, it's taken organisation and capital to make them available to our houses. If we're just a band of entertainers with a green message for the kids, we shouldn't pretend to be anything else. Yes, many kids and teenagers who got the message went on to become engineers and movers and shakers, but how many of the hippies own kids?
The revolution in thinking is a slow one, it looks like it's been taken onboard and, despite the dinosaurs still raging round the planet, there could be a paradigm shift going on, and we shall all have played out part. But in time? So many green issues are now centre stage, even the media have heard of them. Seems all that's needed now is a magic wand [which probably some hippies believe in, but not the rational ones] to make it alll happen. Failing which we'll still see a heap of destruction happening, and not all of it will be deliberate. Our unsustainable lifestyle, exported to the rest of the world, has got to change, but like children instructed to give up all out toys except six, we can't or won't discard the unnecessary.

Saturday 24 May 2003 - instant karma, well, not that instant, but you know what I mean

We learn that SARS is possibly linked to the marmoset cat, an agricultural, farmed species in China, which means it is kept in stinking, cramped cages, mistreated appallingly, and doubtless fed on rubbish until it's death. Common practise for families to have several of them, and an industry breeding them for the purpose. Close confinement, close to humans with the inevitable contamination of food and everything else, lots of flies and faeces. They eat almost every animal living and treat them all dreadfully. A peasant society still stuck way back, yet expected to burst onto the world stage as voracious consumers any day now [or has it already happened?]. Our relatively slow development into more enlightened attitudes to other species' ability to feel pain and to suffer now puts us in the position of being exposed to barbaric practises towards animals, as if our past had come back to haunt us. I can't believe a culture that even treats dogs in much the same way has anything to offer us, it gives me nightmares thinking about it and the full, rounded characters of our dogs. We certainly shouldn't allow the 'products' of this trade to enter the UK. SARS is, as we used to say, instant karma, and it's going to get you ...
I always did fail to see the logic of bombing Iraq to fight terrorism and make us all safe. Concrete blocks now surround Parliament and other 'important' buildings. So that worked then. If the paranoia doesn't go away they'll become fixtures; tidied up by the Ministry of Works, perhaps another layer to give more height protection from snipers. Graffiti artists will turn them into their own and one day a tourist [if they still exist] will say they remind her of the Berlin Wall, whereupon a Lottery-grant-funded 'arts project' will paint them with a scale picture of the buildings behind so that tourists won't feel too cheated. The numbskulls always fasten on the physical, WMDs and the like, rather than tackling the problem of getting people to like us and not want to bomb us. Surely the better long term option.
On the left is a picture of a sample of the interestingly-shaped stones I've discovered on the river bed where I walk the dogs. They like to wade around in the shallow water of the river, just for the craic, and it's clear enough to examine each stone in situ before selecting. I shall have to wear Wellies [Wellington Boots, rubber, up to the knee, for those unfamiliar with this Brit institution, they even come colour coded for class] soon, so I can wade out with the dogs and see what's in the middle. So far a sizeable crop just from one stretch of 'shore', a couple of metres long. Were they pieces of a window dressing? Flooring, toys? I shall have to find out. I'll change the picture now and then when something else seems of interest.
The blackbird is back, song coming through the open window. He sang his song for free ... two of them sing duets every evening for several hours, never repeating a complete string or sentence of notes, although some phrases within them get repeated like words. One I listened to in Norwich included mobile phone rings and the neenaa of an ambulance in his repertoire, but I've not heard anything like that yet here. They're country birds at heart, doubtless with a Herefordshire accent [blackbird songs change subtly across the country, with different regional 'accents' clear to the expert, which I'm not]. It is a sweet sound, often with terribly clever little embellishments that make you smile much as you would when a human musician pulls off a particularly creative moment.

Thursday 22 May 2003 - you learn something every day

I've just discovered that I'm a Zionist! No, I haven't grown my hair into fetching ringlets, stuck a box on my head and started banging my head against a wall, the usually perceived image of a Zionist, I just believe the state of Israel has a right to exist and have always thought this. I don't think it has the right to colonise more Palestinian land, and I don't think every Jew in the world should automatically have the right to move there and occupy settlements after Arab houses have been bulldozed, but I do think Israel has every right to exist, as much as a state of Palestine. It really should be possible for them to come to an agreement about this. Until they do, there will be a ready supply of extremists willing to cause carnage, there will never be peace.
I've never quite understood this 'right' of Jews anywhere to move to Israel, as if the land was marked down as theirs forever. On that basis, I could be claiming the land of England back from the descendants of the Normans who came here and ripped it off my ancestors, and then there's the Romans ... but you don't have those black and white attitudes with such a mongrel race as us Brits, we've absorbed so many other tribes along the way and forged a nation out of the resultant mix. Most Britons couldn't tell you who their distant ancestors were; Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Normans, Dutch or any of dozens of races who have settled here. All have become British, sooner or later, and contributed to British culture. Which is why multiculturalism is such a dangerous creed, leading to ghettoization and inter-cultural friction. An easy way in for the racists of the British National Party who claim an entirely spurious Britishness concocted from myth and a denial of the multiethnic mix that makes up modern Britain. The rabids in the Israeli settlements aren't Israeli although they are Jewish. They should stop harking back to Abraham and connect with the modern world. They should go home and stop stealing others' land. They are much closer to the BNP than the anti-Semitic BNP would like to acknowledge, both racist.

Wednesday 21 May 2003 - whoever thought it a good idea to feed cows sheep brains - a scientist?

Imperial College scientists are predicting that CJD has peaked and the maximum new cases predicted has been revised downwards to 500. This seems to entirely ignore the known incubation period span which can be up to thirty years. The cases so far are in fact very early and are probably just the more vulnerable individuals or infection was particularly invasive for some reason. There seems to me nothing to indicate that there won't be a gradual rise in numbers for the next few decades. As there is no test for it, there is no way of knowing until time passes. See a case of BSE has occurred in Canada. Hmm.
The fields by the river Arrow where I walk the dogs are occupied during the summer by a small herd of cows, together with their calves. They have three fields to roam in and the grass is lush and full of wild flowers and grasses, rich food to produce rich milk. And the calves, still suckling now and then, are developing rapidly the natural way as they have probably done on these meadows for centuries. They are in no hurry, nor are they systematic. Grass in one place will be chopped short while nearby it still grows lush. They seem to prefer to move about from one field to another, sampling here and there. They always seem to be in the higher pasture when sitting and chewing the cud, probably a genetic memory of the rain. The major problem is that dogs have an inbuilt genetic memory of disguising themselves for the hunt with ruminant faeces, and have to be watched carefully if not to end up with green stains and smelling in need of a bath. Otherwise, it seems a fair exchange as the grasses would get very tall and walking would be less enjoyable. Many balls would be lost.

Monday 19 May 2003 - the lies are exposed

Now the rescue of Private Jessica has been exposed as a get-up - she didn't engage in a firefight until her ammunition ran out, she was a clerk, she wasn't stabbed and shot but had a broken leg and arm which were being treated by the doctors, there was no firefight to 'rescue' her as there were no Iraqi troops at the hospital and the doctors were amazed when a group of Americans burst in complete with camera team and started shouting at everyone [they had checked with a guy in the street the day before and he'd told them the soldiers had gone. One of the doctors had even offered to drive the Private to an American checkpoint, but this was too good an opportunity to be missed by the Pentagon slime-brains, needing some gung-ho 'good news' they fabricated the whole thing. Just as the Saddam statue 'demolition by Iraqis' was staged by them and a bunch of American-trained Iraqi criminals to fool the media and the rest of the world. Despite this exposure the image is still used as a semiotic for the liberation. Truth is decaying fast.
A lot of the journalists are now complaining of being controlled and manipulated while 'embedded' in military units, while the ones in Qatar witnessing the Pentagon press briefings say it was so tightly controlled it was the American show; all the front seats were reserved for American network journos and hardly anyone else got a look in, certainly no one likely to ask awkward questions. The American public apparently bought this, but then they're used to stage managed events and movies. From the sounds coming from the loony right or neo-cons as they're called in the US, they have the ear of the power gang and are more or less leading American foreign policy.

Sunday 18 May 2003 - getting there

Much work later and it's almost working. The main problem seems to be with Netscape which fails to recognise the text block as scrollable and puts it all on the page as before, but with all formatting removed including hard returns, so all joined up. My advice to anyone using Netscape is get Opera. It's fast and can do anything IE can do and more beside, it's free for personal use [includes a changing ad box, no hassle] and it's small so no mega file to download. You can even configure it to mimic AOL and Netscape!
Go to
Java seems to cause more problems with most things on the net. I use Java in my pages, yet still get error messages from time to time. So many different ways of doing anything, none quite compatible with their rivals. Wouldn't it be better if people collaborated and agreed standards and shared everything, in fact just like they do in the Linux community [] and []

Saturday 17 May 2003 - struggling with web pages

Last few days have seen me buried in html and every other aspect of getting web pages to work. And then to get them to work in all browsers. This is one of the results, a scrolling blogbox of text rather than the ever growing html text which had to be formatted every time I updated, and where the whole page moves if you read down. Now the rest stay where they are and you scroll the text. Hope it's an improvement. I've been so engrossed in figuring out how to do it that I might have overlooked something. It's learn as and when you need to do something, which can cause hassles at times as it's never transparent, but buried away amongst so much that is pretty meaningless and unconnected.
I've discovered that there's a limit to the text I can insert with this method, so I have to delete stuff from the bottom in order to add more. Like my life, slowly unravelling behind me.
There must be a better way. More research needed. Back to the drawing board, which I once used many years ago, it's becoming a thing of the remote past, when drawing wasn't done with CAD packages but with pen and pencil on - paper! There seems no way to bold headings either which is definitely a no no.

Thursday 15 May 2003 - where did that day go?

There are days like that, blink and find you've lost a day. It's usually later
in the week than I thought it was. The web is responsible for a lot of this dislocation. Time doesn't exist on it, even if it exists for its users who can spend a lot of time without getting where they were going. It may be changing children's brain processing, giving rise to a super race of global minds, assimilating new technology as soon as it presents itself, mastering new software just by looking at it, and communicating at the speed of light with millions of others simultaneously. Or then again it may just be deteriorating into every teen having an online diary where they record their teen mundanity, awash in a world of malls, clubs and luurve. A few I've stopped by have been this shallow, but beautifully crafted, a lot of effort. But then you suddenly find an amazing mind stacked full of knowledge, sharing it with the world and it somehow all seems worthwhile. But how to filter and save time?
I already have no idea what half the files on my hard disc are for. I discover directories I didn't know existed and have no knowledge of creating, it barely feels like it's my computer any more, but some minor appendage of a global machine that occasional spits out an instruction to it when I venture online. The hard disc is accessed when I'm doing nothing, my firewall reports repeated attempts to install ads and spyware, but then tries to access it's own website when I'm not looking. It can only get worse with broadband. One could get paranoid. In fact, how would a paranoiac cope with the web without developing a full blown psychosis. And millions of people are putting themselves and their inner thoughts up for the world to gawp at, webcams even, but the intimacy engendered is virtual, made up of pixels, not in the real world.
In a country far less open and friendly than it used to be, many people get a dose of the neighbourliness they no longer have by watching Neighbours and East Enders. Unreality is slowly substituting for real relationships. 'Reality TV' is no more real than the other fiction that's dished up. It's manipulated and massaged and all the contestants come with a media-savvy agenda, usually 'get noticed any way and get your name in the tabloids', then they have a career being a name.

Tuesday 13 May 2003 - running out of control

There are times when the Internet seems like the tower of Babel multiplied a million times. Every day brings more changes, and it all seems to conspire to make you feel inadequately equipped. It starts with the operating system, in my case Windows 2000 which I've only just installed, having been happy with 98 for some years. The startup screen tell me it's copyright 1995-1999! It's new to me but they finished it in 1999??? Then there's the sites that refuse to load because I haven't got the very latest plug-in or java and the pop-ups that just keep popping up after you've cancelled them. I go on a search with something in mind, and, faced with links and enticing ads everywhere, I eventualy succumb and set off on what is laughingly called surfing. If actual surfers behaved like this they'd end up miles out to sea in the shipping lanes, which is where I feel I've been swept some times. Eventually, after following several interesting links I'm lost and can't remember what it was I first set out to find. A lot of really interesting distractions along the way, but a lot of waiting while sites load 86 graphics and then another 86 when I click on a site link. So it's hit the back button until something appears I recognise and start again.
There's always the feeling that you've missed something vital, there being so much available makes choosing a hit or miss thing, as all the search engine top listers know only too well. What happens to all the sites listed in the tenth page? I wonder if they get any traffic at all. I shall try going to the very last hit first and work backwards to restore some justice and egalitarianism. Some mega operators appear able to mop up the first few hits which is like pasting posters over all your rivals' posters, something unscrupulous gig promoters are prone to do. Hardly fair though.
As ever it's rushing along at the speed of the fastest computers which are, of course, on the desks of leading web designers, so broadband rules and the web is really no place for a 56K modem. Until broadband gets everywhere there will be two classes of web users; the fast and the slow. So very quickly in the PC world your shiny new crisp machine becomes a laggardly, asthmatic, wheezing along trying to cope with software written for faster cousins, running out of memory like a geriatric, crashing over now and then and losing control of its peripherals. Aah, old age catches up fast. Of course a transplant or two can be attempted; new discs, more memory, new chip, faster graphics card, but it's never quite the same as the latest sleek machine that's made of components designed to be put together.. Will there ever be a time when it's decided that a trillion gigabyte disc isactually probably big enough for most people, and a billion gig processor is as fast as anyone can apprehend. Will software ever stop having bells added each year so that everything comes to resemble a software Swiss army knife? I remember when word processors word processed, now they publish to the web, act like a graphics drawing tool, play music and animations, keep a database and knock you up a spreadsheet at the click of a button. They come on seventeen CDs plus a CD manual which is too big to read in a lifetime. And still 16 year olds master them in a week.

Monday 12 May 2003 - sharing is good

A committee was formed by Bush of hard right 'thinkers' just before they launched their latest aggression, to consider the ancient historical artefacts of Iraq. They concluded in so many words that the Iraqis were too possessive and that the artefacts should be shared with the rest of the world. They have been with the looting of the Baghdad Museum. Seems a coincidence worthy of note that all the events that led up to this are connected and tie in with the 'committee's' opinion so neatly. Wonder if one day something of note will be 'donated' to the British Museum to go alongside the Elgin Marbles which one day may have to be returned to their rightful owners.
Big fanfare as a few incubators are delivered to Iraqi hospitals. Pity the babies in them have no clean water. I remember when it started they were patting themselves on the back, making a big thing about the lights and water not being touched. Soon dropped that one, and we see the results now, cholera is still spreading along with other killers lurking in the river water they are forced to drink. I expect an attempt will be made to blame this on Saddam's biological weapons as well considering they've found no other evidence, nothing surprises me any more about these criminals. It's certainly evidence of bio-terrorism, but clearly part of the 'coalition of the willing's' strategy. But Americans don't have to worry about someone else's diarrhoea any more than Brits do, they can concentrate on losing weight by going to the gym or cutting out chocolate, and worry about councils putting fluoride in their otherwise clean tap water.
It's hard to feel positive about the world when so much evil is stalking the planet. [Perhaps Nostradamus was right in some strange inexplicable way no one can understand and this really is the end game, the village idiot is already in place...]. Just when the world desperately needed peace and stability and a new spirit of concern and co-operation to tackle the monumental problems of ecosystem destruction and resultant weather disruption, we get a bunch of 19th century bigots with no understanding but drunk on power, intent on carving out a i>New American Century/i> as their think-tank calls it. Although right-wing think-tank is somewhat of an oxymoron. So it's back to throwing rocks at each other, sod the carbon protocols, sod the sea level rise, sod the typhoons levelling parts of the US, sod the low lying islands facing extinction, sod the children with asthma, sod the forest fires, whooppee let's go to war! How many trees would have to be planted to compensate for all the pollution these last few months have seen, on top of the ongoing, daily pollution we all contribute to.
Perhaps it's an instinctive, animal response to overcrowding on a planetary scale. Perhaps humans are no more able to step out of their DNA hard wiring than the lemming or the locust, both of which breed uncontrollably until there is no food left. Where there is no predator to keep a species' numbers in check and where many natural controls like disease organisms have been largely eliminated, what else is there left to prevent a locust-like swarming over the planet but man himself with his predilection for violence. Perhaps the right wing is right and the left would fail because they have no stomach for coercive birth control policies. Although fertility is reducing in developed countries, this is almost certainly due to hormone pollution of the environment, and in many countries the birth rate continues to replace the population in time for the next famine. Either way it's unsustainable. Is it our fate to be so successful and at the same time lacking the power to change, that we trash the only home we have, and our only way of controlling our numbers is to kill each other periodically.

Sunday 11 May 2003 - those April showers they come what may

Trouble is the showers don't seem to come in April any more. Plants are tough and are used to changing temperatures and rainfall so they adapt. What the plants don't know, and what many humans seem unable to learn, is that this isn't just another planetary blip but a continuing change in weather patterns that is ongoing and ultimately life threatening. England will likely remain a green and pleasant land for some time yet, but it will get hotter and wetter, with longspells of drought when there once was rain. Outside events will still gamble with the weather. Most wild plants will manage the extremes, but the hybrids we rely on for food are much more sensitive and depend on rain at certain times and sun at others. The world human population is vast and still expanding, food supply is a global enterprise and there are not unlimited stores.
Perhaps recycled organic waste will be turned into edible foodstuffs by the chemists who produce most of our instant 'I've got no time to cook' lifestyle food today. They already produce non meat protein in a variety of shapes, colours and textures, so our household waste might become something of value once the plastic, metal, glass and paper have been extracted. Although paper too could be turned into something edible. Given the ingenuity of our species, we'll probably find a way of making something at least starving people will eat. The reason why my local council have suddenly issued the news that they will be collecting separated plastic, paper and metal from now on is that the UK is about to be fined by the EU for falling lamentably short of targets in waste recycling. It's mostly been left to local activists to prod their local authority into action, after managing to get supermarkets to install skips for those who make the decision to do it anyway. So central government has issued a warning to local councils to pull the finger out, after leaving them to ignore it for years. Not before time as we're running out of landfill space and would otherwise be starting on farmland soon. Once again, the hippies were right all along.

Saturday 10 May 2003 - a road to peace is a rocky old road

So there's these two young Arab guys flown over to Israel from the UK, gone through Israeli security reputed to be the tightest in the world, and they check in to an hotel. We are expected to believe that they then contacted Palestinian terrorists and took delivery of a sizeable amount of explosives and, with them strapped to their bodies made their way to their intended targets. All without Mossad being aware of them. Yet, within a very short space of time, the Israeli government knows the identity of the one who succeeded despite being in small bits, and of the one who having failed to detonate ran away. How? Either Mossad knew nothing which begs the question how then did they immediately know their identity, or they knew exactly what they were up to probably before they entered the country, tracked their movements and allowed the bomb outrage to happen to their own people.
Why would they do this? It allows then to continue hitting the Palestinians, taking over more land and moving in settlers. If they were successful in stopping suicide bombings, a peace process would have to happen. Sharon's government was elected to prosecute a war against the Palestinians. I think the power base is ok with some civilian deaths along the way. It keeps the population on its toes and prepared to sanction any repression Sharon chooses. Being renowned for dirty tricks, Mossad might even be the agent provocateur, luring young Muslims into a plot and providing the explosives. The one that ran away is doubtless in their custody and may or may not be found alive. Could he really have just disappeared in Tel Aviv with the police and army looking for him?
And now the reason for the war on Iraq which Bush and Blair have denied all along is transparently clear, with the control of selling the oil and of the money paid for it 'on behalf of the Iraqi people'. So the US and UK don't have to pay to put right all the damage they did on their killing spree, Iraq pays for it, up front in oil. And the mad Chimp is lecturing the rest of the world, patting a few on the back, warning a few to watch out, like the newly arrived headmaster at a private school. He's caned a couple of rebels and the rest had better watch out. Did the world need a headmaster, especially one who had to be given an honorary degree. He's so dumb he thinks it's real. The junta that surround him aren't as dumb, but they're certainty as mad and the world had better look out.

Friday 9 May 2003 - more things I like about dogs

Dogs can lead you into unexpected places. Once, walking my dog near Ludlow Castle, she insisted on going higher and higher until we were close to the walls. Then she discovered a mound of damp earth beside a sizeable hole which she had to investigate for a long time. While waiting, I noticed a piece of reddish pottery and picked it up; looked very old, perhaps part of the rim of a jug. Then I found another and another. Altogether I picked up five pieces looking like they came from the same object and three from something different, with glazed markings on one similar to a fleur-de-lis. Contacted an archaeology unit via the internet and sent them scans of several pieces. Seems they are mediaeval metropolitan slip-ware. They are now in Ludlow museum where they belong. Along the way I learned something about mediaeval pottery and the trading practices that existed then which spread this kind of slipware across the country. Gives a different perspective on the present when you handle things people used so long ago.
It might have been a badger which dug the hole, too large for anything else. There are lots of badgers in this region, I know because of the numbers seen dead on verges. The first thing you think is that they're a road kill, but Badger Watch tell me that farmers kill them and dump them beside the road so people will think just this, as they're a protected species. Farmers can be a problem with wildlife, they have lots of old country myths in their brains which can be very wrong. I was told quite seriously by a farmer that badgers kill and eat lambs, what more justification then to shoot them. Actually they eat mostly earthworms and beetles and are opportunistic feeders so will clear up any dead animals. The lumbering badger is, however, too slow for a lamb, even if it were a hunting animal like the fox. Of course it is dangerous in defending itself if cornered, the usual situation in which it meets farmers, but it isn't the ravening sheep killer farmers would like to believe. Neither is the fox for that matter, so another casualty of the meat trade is inedible wildlife. I kept chicken for several years a few metres from a fox den and never lost one.

Thursday 8 May 2003 - this isn't Namibia but ...

I'm interested in the different ways people behave towards strangers in different localities. There is a marked difference in friendliness even between towns not far apart. Ludlow, in Shropshire seems rather preoccupied, little eye contact, friendly enough if asked a question but mostly ignoring anyone but friends or relatives. In Leominster, Herefordshire, only twelve miles away, there's much more eye contact, people nod or smile as you pass and many exchange a greeting or even stop and chat to complete strangers. If you are walking a dog, you can't travel very far before getting into a conversation either about your dog or dogs in general and half of those you pass smile. Old chaps shout 'nice day' across the road, and I've even been handed two humbugs by a white-haired gent out walking with his dog. Made me feel like a kid.
One expects more openness in rural areas than in cities, in London or Manchester eye contact could get you into serious trouble, and I'm reminded of Gerard Hoffnung's comic 'advice to foreign travellers in Great Britain'; ' ... on entering a railway carriage, be sure to shake hands with all passengers'. Which is why a programme on TV about a group of white, affluent, trekkers in Namibia on a special trek to meet an isolated tribe was so perplexing. Having trekked for two weeks across featureless desert, when they finally reached the tribe's village they all sat down in a group yards away from the villagers and looked away from the, by then extremely curious, desert dwellers. They made no attempt to communicate and after a while set off back. The guide for their trek was totally gutted by their behaviour, his summary was that many modern white people had lost a lot of what was natural.

Wednesday 7 May 2003 - war crimes and slavery

I switched on the radio this morning when I woke to hear this self satisfied, arrogant sounding upper-class voice saying how the war on Iraq had been splendidly successful, everything was fine now and they had been freed. Turned out to be an in-bred, ruling-class, military psycho, Air Vice Marshall Miffington-Orrifice or something equally ludicrous, speaking from Kuwait before flying back home. The arrogant, complacent tone said it all, he had had a good war directing his airborn serial killers, and was so upbeat that you'd think he was talking about a golf tournament. Seemed to think Iraq had no sewage system or clean water before it was bombed, and that any suffering was down to the beastly people he had helped to get rid of. Sounded so self-satisfied I thought it was the devious criminal Hoon at first. What this war criminal was saying was not just lies, you expect them to lie, it was a total reversal of the truth. Claiming that most of 'them' have clean water now where they hadn't before, just as cholera starts to take hold and children are dying, is so breathtakingly criminal that I would like to take his breath away, permanently.
Why have we put up with these 'almost-humans' for so long, when are they going to get their just desserts? Apparently some American visitors think I'm anti-American. Moi? Some of my best friends are American and many of my heroes over the years are too. To accuse me of being anti-American is to miss the point entirely. I feel sad for those Americans who, trapped in their nationality, must feel really bad if not to say embarrassed by what their country gets up to. But the good Americans are already criticising, not feeling defensive about others' criticisms. The defensive ones apparently think that the rest of the world is envous of their wealth, which is a convenient way of rubbishing all criticism so they don't have to examine their own lives and how they impact on the rest of the world. There's plenty to feel ashamed of in being British also. There's just a lot less lardarses in the UK, and it has less opportunity to screw up the lives of others than the US. Why do so few Americans see what their country has done and is doing? Do they really think the rest of the world wants to turn into fat mountains and wobble around in appalling, tasteless flapping parachute shorts, looking for the next 'eat-all-you-can cram in' animal-fat-burger dispensor, while dodging bullets fired by gun-toting loonies on their way to see yet another tiresome American-hero, awesome-firepower psycho-masturbatory flic? I think not Chuck.
I see more trailer trash homes have been trashed in several states by hurricanes. Good to hear of them getting it back for their excessive consumption rather than somewhere like Bangladesh having to suffer on their behalf. Still, at least there'll be precious little left to scar the landscape when the Earth has thrown off their society. They considerately don't build anything that lasts too long, most American towns seem built of cardboard and plywood with the jail the only brick built residence. Speaking of jails, reminds me that slavery is still integral to America and wasn't abolished as history books would have us believe, but re-structured into a penal system jailing [mostly black] people for life on penal work farms where they will eventually die. Many are young and strong and the enterprise is cost efficient and lucrative. They are put in these places for murder of course [although often the standard of evidence is shockingly flimsy], but also for more minor crimes such as drugs, and even for really minor offences under the three strikes wheeze which enables them to imprison more and more black people who, as ghetto dwellers, are more likely to be caught at petty crime than their privileged wasp countrymen. Two million are currently in prison in the US, a staggering number and equal to all other nations' prison populations combined, same as their armaments then.

Tuesday 6 May 2003 - biological weapons come in all shapes and sizes

Now typhoid, cholera and gastro-enteritis begin in Iraq, the children will be first of course. Considering that it all could have been foreseen, that makes it deliberate biological warfare; bomb the water supply and electricity grid and stand by while the population gets sick. I feel ashamed to be British, part of a country that allowed the hypocrite Blair to take us into this. And still they prat on about weapons of mass destruction while they scrabble around trying to cook up some kind of evidence the world will accept.
The acid test was that none were used despite Iraq having more than its share of nasty, psychotic nutters. Pushed up against the wall with no reason to hold back, nothing happened. It's illogical to suppose either invader actually believed in them, despite having supplied Saddam and trained his biochemists [at UEA for god's sake!], as the last thing you do is attack someone who is armed with enough chemical and biological weapons to take out your army. They could have been looking at hundreds of thousands of dead and a likely escalation by the US to nuclear. So they were either off their trolleys or lying [probably both]. The crucial thing for Blair is that he lied to parliament, but his conscience is, apparently, clear. I've never trusted the shifty-eyed ex public school creep since he first surfaced, how he seduced the labour party is totally inexplicable to me.
Perhaps at this moment suicide assassins are infecting themselves with SARS and booking plane journeys to ... be careful of anyone who coughs, buy your surgical mask [I'm still working on the printed mouth and nose designer mask idea], don't get on planes, and keep a clean nose [don't take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows]. We are in dangerous times, historians will say momentous, but that's in hindsight, historians mostly seem to like wars; big events they can amass lots of facts about like how many dead in the first week and how many tonnes of depleted uranium distributed. Another statistic will be the number of casualties after the war was 'over'.

Monday 5 May 2003 - energy is a political issue

I've recently moved house and had the usual difficulty in getting my electricity supplied by my chosen supplier, Unit[e], who I've been with since they came to my attention as the only electricity supply company who source all their electricity from renewable power. The supplier which previously supplied my new address is Npower [owned by Innogy which is in turn owned by RWE] who were unwilling to lose customers to Unit[e]. I informed Unit[e] of my move and left the rest to them as usual, but then got a letter from Npower thanking me for choosing them as my supplier and offering me loads of 'amazing' deals and discounts. I rang them and told them I was with Unit[e] and did not wish them to supply me. I obviously failed to get through as I have now received a [estimated] bill from Npower and, on telephoning, was informed that Unit[e] had not applied to them and that they do not obstruct the process when they do apply. Unit[e] state that they were refused when they applied to Npower which happens every time.
Obviously the tactic is to wear people down so they accept them by default, not willing to spend the time fighting this mist of misinformation and obstruction, and doubtless this works on occasion despite being against the regulations governing electricity supply. To contact Npower, one is faced with multiple choices on the telephone, none of which matches your particular enquiry, and then periods of time spent listening to muzak while you queue to speak to a human who then denies everything much in the manner of politicians. Their website is worse, giving choices all concentrated on getting new customers and serving existing ones, but nothing that accepts someone may have a complaint or wish to discontinue their service. You waste more time searching and finally give up and go straight to Ofgen which has nothing to say except to refer you to Energywatch, another body which may or may not be a government agency, which is concerned with customer complaints. You finally email them and wait. The whole point of de-regulation is choice, which in theory is supposed to deliver lower prices for energy by letting the customer choose. As my main interest is not in saving money but in supporting renewable energy as the only way to go to address global warming, I have assessed the companies involved and made my choice. But Npower are intent on grabbing a bigger and bigger share of the market, aggressively marketing and putting obstacles in the way of customers exercising their choice unless that is to choose Npower. Ofgen is supposed to police this process, but appear to have done little to curtail these activities so far.
As this situation also happened at my last address, I am led to the conclusion that this is a deliberate policy of Npower who, as a subsidiary of a larger company itself a subsidiary of an even larger global player, is intent on Empire building. Having noted the growing interest in renewable energy, it has teamed up with Greenpeace, offering Juice, their carefully marketed, friendly sounding offering of renewable energy while still selling brown energy to most of its customers. I'd rather stay with a company that's committed.

Sunday 4 May 2003 - flesh-coloured christs that glow in the dark

So the MoD are screening returnees from Iraq [to cover themselves against claims of Gulf War Syndrome again]. Wonder if they'll be using Geiger counters. The cocktail of chemicals they pump into their troops is enough to make anyone sick, and many were the last time, but the addition of depleted uranium to the environment of Iraq, within which they've been living and breathing, is likely to have left them all somewhat radioactive. For the people of Iraq, especially the children, it is a far worse threat. They have to live with it for decades and childhood cancer rates have already soared since the last time the US and UK disposed of some of their unwanted uranium waste in this novel and imaginative way. Sellafield must be relieved, a perfect business solution. Now, where's the next location to be turned into a nuclear dustbin?
The sanctimonious Blair says he is prepared to meet his maker and answer for the deaths he's caused. How typical of the creep to think only of himself and his conscience. What overweening self importance. It's never people like him who have to make the supreme sacrifice, they are always eager that someone else pays the price. In the case of Iraq it will mostly be the children. A legacy of birth defects and a life of suffering await many of them including those not yet born. But Tony the Phony's conscience is clear, that's all right then.

Saturday 3 May 2003 - smack the pony

The UK government has partially caved in to the child protection lobby and their crazed, obsessive attitude to smacking children. They have absorbed a doctrine in which their belief is as unshakeable as the devoutest religious believer and nothing will affect their righteous zeal. A kind of fascism, they wish to control the way others behave towards their offspring, using the illogical conclusion that any physical correction is abuse and will lead to worse abuse. We are mammals. All other mammals correct their offspring to train them to avoid harm and to behave socially. It's a basic mammal thing, not being hot-wired to behave in a certain way like fish and amphibians, mammal young have to learn in order to survive. Physical correction comes before reason. You can't reason with a two year old or sometimes a four year old if they are determined, little ego that they are, to do something they want to do. Correction of this kind; shaking roughly by the neck [canines], restrained biting [other primates], smacking [hominids], fullfills two objectives. It causes the youngster to stop and think and it indicates a withdrawel of affection caused by their bad behaviour. The fact that some people then feel guilty about it is something they have to deal with. It really is for the good of the child, it's instinctive and natural, it has ever been the way. The people who make up this 'child care' lobby fall into two groups; those who think more of their own feelings of failure as parents and those who are not parents and for whom this is all theory. Over the years they have evolved a theory of abuse and its causes, perhaps some have suffered abuse and are determined to oppose anything which reminds them of it. But they have lost the plot. Thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They are jobsworths, 'if I let you get away with a smack, everyone will be abusing children left right and centre' seems to be the thinking, they have no understanding of subtlety, of degree. They conflate any physical correction of a child with abuse. Wedded to their doctrine, they cannot allow themselves the luxury of fine tuning, they are absolutists. Could the bad behaviour by children one increasingly sees in public be any reflection on the fact that these people have been lobbying hard for decades and have persuaded significant numbers of people who should know better to refrain from disciplining their children? When a child is having a screaming tantrum in a supermarket, there are lots of people thinking 'a good smack is all he needs' and they're right. One smack would have prevented it occuring more than the once. It's the fact of punishment being an option that moderates a small child's behaviour, used sparingly and early on, it forms part of the parent child relationship and is the only way a parent's authority can be stated. What happens when the child is never punished is a selfish child used to having their own way, causing upset when frustrated in their first order desires. And kids, deluged with information from the media and very savvy, are aware enough to spot the advantage to them in the 'children's rights' approach. Once reason is an alternative way to get your very important point across, it takes over from the physical approach which is then abandoned. Parents hitting their 11-year-olds round the head are just violent bullies and should be dealt with. The wrong headed obsession with smacking means less energy is devoted to dealing with real abuse and the whole subject is obscured and fuzzy. Parents are made to feel guilty and embarrassed for smacking their children in public, the kids pick up on this and misbehave more.

Friday 2 May 2003 - meat is much more than just murder

I saw a truck today, went right at the lights, leaning over as it turned with heavy load. And out of the back gushed a torrent of liquid shit. It was, of course, babies packed in tight and terrified as they were driven to slaughter or an unknown future. Calves whose deaths the milk industry and all milk drinkers depend on. There's not much call for their meat here, but that doesn't concern the dairy farmers. The lucky ones will be fattened a while before slaughter, a few months. The unlucky ones will endure a long journey by ferry to Europe where they still like the meat of babies. Some will return here in continental sausages. The driver looked unconcerned with the terror behind his back. Intent on dropping the load and getting home for tea. All over the country the trucks are collecting their loads from the dairy farms, the new calves that a few weeks ago were kicking their first kicks in the open air and sunshine, unaware of what life had in store for them, are now on their way and their mothers are crying long into the night, bellowing as their species has always bellowed when it lost its young.
But then so do we. Strange that the word tender is used for both emotions and for meat considering the slight of mind that has to be performed to ignore the emotions of another species while emphasizing human emotional sensitivity. We have some evolving to do for sure. In the case of Bush, a hell of a lot of evolving.
I still find it hard to get my head round the fact that the American public let him grab office. Trouble is, it's only the rabid hard right who indulge in killing presidents, so he's safe even from assassination as he's one of theirs. What passes for the left is just too damn nice to do the world a favour. See him strut around an aircraft carrier with that snide little smirk on his face must make so many people round the world want to slap him.

Thursday 1 May 2003 - luck of the Irish

It must be that the Irish have been victims of British brutality for so many centuries that the British state despises them so much. It was content to let the situation in the north of Ireland continue until the IRA targeted the UK and its political masters, then the situation had to be sorted out as army occupation wasn't achieving anything. The latest scene in the saga is running true to form, the Irish republicans make concessions which are then turned down and more strictures placed on them, known as moving the goal posts. In the case of Ireland, the British have mobile goal posts they can move at will, usually the will of the Ulster unionist remnants of the Scots, catholic hating, mercenaries who were in the pay of a Dutch bastard known as William of Orange, who the unionists still venerate to this day. Blair, in common with every other UK prime minister is beholden for some reason to this bunch of culture-less foreigners in a country that should have been reunited long ago. They refuse to think of themselves as Irish and, because they know deep down that one day Ireland will be united, they act as spoilers to any process that allows Irish people a voice. We have seen the elected representatives of the Irish population locked out of the government buildings, subjected to repeated insults and snide questioning by the British media, denied their voice in the media until fairly recently. The latest round beggars belief, a change of words was required and duly delivered by Sinn Fein, and it still wasn't enough.
If they were to get down on their knees and beg forgiveness having surrendered all arms down to catapults, I have the feeling it would still not be enough and they would then be accused of not licking the boots of the orange scum who still think they own a bit of Ireland because their ancestors butchered Irish civilians including children in their thousands. It's bad genes you see, what type of riff raff were the mercenaries and how inbred are their descendants? They appear to me a dull, humourless, unlikable lot compared to the warm hearted, generous Irish with their wonderful sense of humour which must have stood them in good stead in all these years of oppression. Not to mention their music, which is sensitive and beautiful in ways the penny-whistle and drum marchers could never appreciate. But the orange people wouldn't have lasted into the last century if the British state hadn't kept them where they were. And their demands are all that have ever mattered to every government in the UK, whatever shade of middling grey it is. I don't believe in the 'luck of the Irish', what kind of luck saddled them with Paisley, Trimble, Adair, McGuinness and their like? I do admire their patience however, mine would have run out years ago.




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