Monday, June 11, 2012

Freedom of Expression

I have to start writing somewhere, and it might as well be here. I began this blog all those years ago in order to laugh at politics and politicos, and now it feels rather more like chronicling the Downfall of the Capitalist Empire. Perhaps I should be writing a lament, or (more my style really) a pithy epithet; what do I really know about politics and economics? Aren't those things just way too complicated for any "layperson" to understand? And who do I think I am anyway?

Well, if they are, it's because we've made them so. Nothing has fundamentally changed in the nature of the problems faced by humans living in a society, I believe, since we started writing stuff down 7,000 or so years ago. It hasn't changed because humans haven't; our laws have become more humane over time, generally, but they're all aimed at the same things still; the regulation of the conduct of individuals according to a consensus ethical framework, and the organisation of authority to enforce these laws, to collect and distribute public revenues and carry out functions considered either too large or too important to be left to individuals, such as the social services and defence of the realm. I concede that's simplistic, but you have to get some kind of handle on it; with reservations, that's my starting point.

So here we are at the start of a new millennium, and to sum up the situation briefly, Everything Sucks. It's all gone horribly wrong, and it's clear to most people, in Europe at least, that none of our mainstream political parties really knows wtf to do. Right and left, liberal and conservative, they all function within one paradigm of how society can and must be; to think outside the box is impossible for them, because they're a part of the box themselves. The more radical parties seem to have no new ideas either; anyone familiar with the history of Europe in the 20th century will, like me, be watching the rise of fascism in Greece with weary, sickening dread; we can't do this any more, people, we can't - it's mad, it's wrong, it doesn't work.

It seems to me that the next big idea could come from anyone, anywhere. This is the kind of political and economic climate that breeds dictators, true, but also new social philosophies; we may possibly achieve by necessity what social evolution clearly can't produce, a better society. And so I think we should consider what a "better" society would be, what is, ultimately, the point of humans living together, to define our aims. Only once those have been agreed we can consider the best ways to achieve those aims. What matters is to contribute to the debate.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Forest of Arden? £20 to you, Guv!"

In the great tradition of Maggie Thatcher, the Tories are scrabbling about for national assets to sell. Now that the oil, gas, BT, British Rail, entire manufacturing base etc. are all gone, there's not much left but the furniture. I believe your average Capitalist sees the naural world as pretty much his/her furniture; things to be bought and sold, diverted, changed, mined, exploited - trees are soft furnishings, too, they grow back faster than mountains, why not sell them off?

So, the National Trust or whoever can't afford to maintain the "old" woodlands of England, of which there are precious few left. Basically, the Government, who are cutting their funding, can't afford/be bothered with the woods of England, through which their forebears have hunted fox and peasant (no, I meant peasant) with such gay abandon.There's some talk of selling them to charities (which charities?), which means we, the notional charitable people, will pay; if a charity could afford to take on the maintenance of a whole forest, it would have to make it a public attraction to pay for it. And yes, it's only fair that people should  be able to visit if they're paying, but those forests need to be left alone. And we aren't talking the vast swathes of greenwood an American or Canadian might think of as a forest, either; England hasn't got a lot left. Less than a Twilight movie in total, I'd say.

Commercial interests are also being mentioned on Radio 4; philanthropists in the UK? I doubt it. No, the woods would have to pay their way as well, but possibly much quicker and much more - finally. You can never get old woodlands back. The New Forest near me, so-called because it was first established as a Royal Hunting Preserve after the Norman Conquest, so it dates from the early 13th century. No-one has 800 years to spare letting that unique ecosystem re-evolve. I wouldn't bet hard cash on the human race making 800 years, come to that.

Can we let the Tories endanger something as irreplaceable as our forests? We all know the abysmal short-termism inherent in such an idea, it's just screamingly obvious. No no no! I'm getting quite exercised; I protested against the Twyford Downs Bypass years ago and we lost that, and I still feel the wound when I go to St. Catherin's Hill. It's time we got angry. The people of the UK are suffering, true, but you could argue we all had a part in our society and we all have to pay a part of the price (and the equitable distribution of that moral debt burden is something I'll come back to, don't worry); the trees are innocent! And the legends that will go with the last of the wild woods, can we really afford to pave over the sould of our country?

I bloody hate the Tories, I always did, and Clegg sold the Lib Dems out. You can viscerally feel Vince Cable choking on his words. And for what?

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some Dire Venting

I used to write ideas and opinions, poems and stories, all sorts of stuff in Word, then in OpenOffice, then I wrote a blog and got involved in political debates on other sites as the Web and my confidence grew in tandem. Writing, debating, sticking poems online under one name in one community and blogging as someone else, being excited about turning on my computer. Then from one day to the next I came so close to death, stayed there for so long, and after the immediate danger passed I just couldn't write, it was all gone; even now the posts on this blog (what a crap name that is!) from "before" MRSA seem to have been written by someone else. Looking back, I wonder if I just needed all my energy for the battle at hand, and couldn't afford to waste anything on words, clever or otherwise. But I'm still not "over it", not by a long long way; random misfortune can jolt me back into the pain.

Here's what happened the week before last. The tip of a cone incense fell onto my T-shirt, and burned through. Unfortunately a lot of my chest tissue and wall has been ravaged by high radiation and is full of scar tissue from the gaping wounds of MRSA; I have no feeling, no nerve connections at all in large areas, and the joss burned into me. The first I noticed was a blister about an inch acrosss. I just didn't understand what it was, it was like a perfect shiny hemisphere - believe me it's bizarre and wrong that so much damage had happened and I hadn't felt a thing. I still don't, never will. And it's deep at the centre! The cone tip was small and the heat was concentrated; it had to go down as well as across.

I'd be in agony if it were anywhere else on my body, but even though I've had dressings changed by nurses for over a week and it's healing well, just knowing that makes me feel somehow sickened, reminds me of how much damage was done. I have to keep an eye on the damn thing to make sure I don't knock it open without noticing it, and at first the smell of the dressings made me feel so raw - it took me back to those awful weeks of being stuck to the bed with open wounds, in the summer, when poor Lennie was so little! Smell can be so potent a stimulator; it's much sharper and swifter than a sight or a song. I wish I'd smelled roasting meat a bit quicker when it happened, on the other hand. Must have been the patchouli.

The trouble is, I don't know if I'm over-reacting or if I'm just so traumatised by being as ill as I was for as long as I was; is it normal to be so upset over something which really is pretty horrible in itself and also so closely evokes a dark, dark time? I've been having nightmares, waking up soaked in sweat and full of cold, bone-deep cold. A most oppressive feeling of dread seems to be present in most of my dreams, however bizarrely and even perversely expressed or comprehended by the sleep-self; some nights of pain I found myself Walking without intending to. I've had dreams in which I became completely lucid and yet couldn't wake myself up. I've had sleep paralysis that went on for long, slow, horribly perceptible heartbeats when I knew that if I saw something, anything, the cat jumping on the bed, a flash of light from the road, I'd go insane! For one split second my terrible eyesight and my paralysed terror would conspire to conjure up a demon, and in that moment before I heard the cat purr or the siren wail I'd just lose control of my mind and splinter off into screaming madness. I'm standing on the brink of an abyss, I sometimes think, but I don't know how to step back, or even what exactly might finally push me over.

I see I'm going to have to ease back into this writing business; at the moment I've no detachment, I'm just content to see words forming on the screen and it doesn't matter if it's a subjective rant full of purple prose about how appalling my life is and has been for so long. I'm just getting it out of my system, I'll be up to giving the Tories a verbal kicking in a few days. I feel for it, and I've got righteous anger to spare. As Ismael used to say, "il y a des gifles qui se perdent ici, t'en cherches?"

Onwards and upwards; someone might read this one day and think "Okay, so my life isn't that bad...." Maybe this is just a place I need to go. I didn't specifically ask you to read this, did I? I might be writing for Posterity for all you know. I told you I was venting!

Oh man, I get so sad sometimes!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I was very surprised to find any replies at all to that last post - it's not as though I said anything interesting. But take a look at the first Anonymous Said; it was the only one I even tried to read, and for the life of I can't work out if it's trying to sell me drugs, if Anonymous is on drugs, if I've been mistaken for someone who knows what this gibberish is about.... The rest are just as bad, I can't work out if they're computer viruses or messages from God. On the off-chance it's God, btw, can I ask for the traditional Burning Bush or whatever? We humans have developed awfully short attention spans while you're been away.

Well, I've Valiumed my way through the first 100 days of Tory/LibDem Coalition Government, time to peek over the parapet and see how the country's going. No more being too depressed to read the newspapers, better to Know Thine Enemy. Since I listen to BBC Radio 4 (serious talk!) all day every day, I can't say I'm oblivious to the world, but some opinion would be helpful. I wasn't ambitious or interested enough to become an expert on Economics or Politics (I'm very well-informed on Alexander the Great, however), so like most people I depend on people who, presumably, were. Ambitious enough, at least - I don't take anything as Gospel, not even the Gospels as it happens.

But other people's opinions give you something to bounce off - sometimes the ramifications of a Government diktat aren't obvious to the layperson, however well-informed, and there are some sources that I often find helpful; anything owned by Newscorp, for instance, I know from the moment I start reading that I'll probably deeply disagree with the "opinion" and that "facts" will need to be checked. I wonder, incidentally, if Murdoch intended his business empire to sound like a Batman villain right from the start. Or Superman; I can imagine Lex Luthor owning Newscorp.

In any case, for the purposes of knowing what to disagree with, I usually buy The Sun. Terrifyingly, this alleged newspaper is the best-selling daily in England, so I have to assume that this is where many people in my society (yes, even Buddhist hippy leftie malcontents get a vote, suck it up!) get the "information" on which they form their views. And their votes (yes, even people with swastika tattoos who want to deport 3rd generation immigrants to places they've never been to get a vote, I've been sucking that up for years!).

The Big Issue at the moment, for me at least, is Trident. When every government department from Welfare to the NHS to the Police have to swallow 25% cuts in their budgets (25% as in one quarter, as if those departments weren't grossly underfunded as it is) how come we can afford a multi-billion upgrade to our much-vaunted Independent Nuclear Deterrent? Is it time that Post-Empire Britain gave up its seat at the Top Table (some of us do feel a bit silly anyway, this tiny little islnad off the coast of Europe having the same voting power as, say, China!, and admitted that the quirk of post-war history that got us here needs to be rebalanced in a new millennium.

My grandfather was a soldier of the Empire, he spent years in India before Independence until malaria exacted it's price as the White Man's Burden. That's how recent it is for us; I can forgive the people who find it difficult to let that go. Even I do, in a way - in my travels, I've seen how a British passport gets you an easier ride than, say, a passport from the Former Yugoslavian Republic. But feeling a slight nostalgia isn't enough to make me believe that slashing 25% off the budget for the most vulnerable people in our society to pay for nuclear arms is a price we should be willing to pay to hold on to the coat-tails of a long-gone dream of power. We don't have any moral right to be here, I'm not aware that our history covers us with glory as a peaceful, progressive, democratic country. In some senses, our time is as long past as the Roman Empire's. I'd give up the remnants, the sacred Independent bit of the nuclear deterrent, for a more balanced economy. I'd rather spend the money on real living people now than theoretical future aggressors; I'm sure if we just shut up and got on with being part of Europe we'd be okay.

I'm rambling, as usual. Time to go buy the Sunday paper of my choice, and some much-needed cigarettes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Talking to the wind

I've got a restless feeling that I need to write, but not really much idea of what to say. It's like tuning a radio and getting only carrier waves instead of the inspiration channels I used to find. Still, it's a long time since I even felt the carrier waves, so I can't help hoping. I know no-one will ever read this, but no matter - I'm trying desperately to come back!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Several Years Later

It's a long time since I've been here; I forgot I had a place to write whatever I wanted to. I was surprised to find that my dashboard was in a language so alien that I didn't even recognise the alphabet, and I had to get to English via French.

So I hereby announce my return to the world of writing for nobody's satisfaction but my own! I'm still alive, therefore I must still have business in this (frankly rather depressing) incarnation; I doubt if that reason is to witter away on here, but I don't see why I shouldn't have some fun with absurdity while I'm getting on with the serious business of working out what the point of my existence is.

If I do, by the way, I'll pass it on.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Appealing Ideas #6: A Unified Theory of Everything part 1.

I don't mean to try to unravel string theory here, or get to the bottom of wormholes. I have a cousin who, although he doesn't yet know it, is a philophysiosophist, and a daughter who bodes fair to be the first human on Mars (recently, at any rate). Not that I'm a mathematical idiot, I hope; I believe I'm the originator of Katie's Law, which states:

x-1 = y

when x = the number of appliances need to watch a film, DVD etc, and y = the number of remote controls available at that particular moment. Try it. There is always, but always, one less than necessary.

Of course, this piece of genius is equal if not superior to Pythagoras' theorem in it's day-to day applicability. Working out the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is all very well and good in it's way, and in the 5th century B.C., before the invention of the surfboard or music without dying cats, probably anything was a welcome distraction. However, I think Katie's Law is a tad more relevant in the early 21st century.

For instance, you (or indeed I) come in after a hard day or whatever, you/I/we flop down on the couch, glance at the table and instantly take in x-1=y. If we want to watch Highlander/play D&D or download some decent porn (each to his/her/its own) we will be forced to crawl around under sofa cushions and coffee tables until we find y+1. Or we can just crash out. Think about it my friends - the truth is out there!