"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by Dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become."
- Steve Jobs

Friday, September 23, 2005

Down with hipsters!!!

Joy upon joy, can it really be happening? Can that bloody awful symbol of "fashion", the hipster skirt and trousers, really be dying at last? An article in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/story/0,11812,1574728,00.html) speaks of all the European and American fashion houses sporting nipped-in wasts, corsets, and skirts/trousers with HIGH WAISTS and belts that show your waistline off.

Yaaaaaay! So I can finally walk down the street in my 1940s-style trousers with a waistline that goes ABOVE my belly button, without getting weird looks from people cos I'm not in bloody hipsters! I can live in hope that soon trousers and skirts and dresses that flatter the waistline and NOT hang below it will soon be available in mainline fashion shops!

Fashion writers are talking about the old-style screen goddesses like Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who wore fabulous outfits that showed off their perfect figures. They are talking about the old "feminine" shape that turns heads and set the movie screens alight.

But the article also talks about a threat to this rising new fashion - the fact that women today are "built like refrigerators" and do not seem to have waists anymore! In 1951, the average British woman had a 27.5-inch waist. Now, she boasts a 34-incher. That's a growth of more than an inch a decade.

Quite why we're growing at such a rate may seem obvious. We eat too much. But it's not just about quantity. The way we eat, and what we eat, has altered radically over the past half-century. As Emma Stiles, nutritional scientist at the University of Westminster, says, "The waist-hip ratio has changed over the past 100 years because of a change in the macronutrients in our diet. Our intake of carbohydrates and sugars has grown rapidly, which increases insulin production. This in turn aids fat-cell deposits on the torso rather than anywhere else on the body."

So does this mean we are stuck with hipsters forever, or straight-waisted clothes to suit our new shape? NOOOOOOOO! Hipsters are even WORSE for the figure that waisted clothes! I am sick of seeing beer-bellied women spilling over the waistlines of their trousers! If you haven't got a washboard stomach then you simply CANNOT wear hipsters. But similarly, if you have a girl-beer-belly then a high waist will be tight and uncomfortable....just as uncomfortable as hipsters digging into you as you sit down though, where is the happy medium!!!!

But high-waisted clothes aren't all M&S or Simon Cowell - if they are cut and made properly they can emphasies a fairly slim waist, hide a multitude of sins, and make those lucky enough already to be slim, look SUPER-SLIM. Just sit and watch a few classic 1940s films, or the DiCaprio film "The Aviator" to see the fabulous shapes of the women in those clothes.

The campaign starts here - down with hipsters down with hipsters!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Invisible crusts

I had to laugh at Hovis' new revelation "Invisible Crust Bread" (http://www.hovisbakery.co.uk/invisible/). They claim to have baked a bread without the crust so "there will be no waste" and so kids won't leave their crusts. It took TWO YEARS of research and God knows how many £ to achieve this.

As a serial crust-leaver (only the top crusts though not the other 3 edges!) I remember my parents nagging me to eat my crusts and saying they'd make my hair curly. I didn't want curly hair so I used to go to tea at my Gran's and leave the crusts in a nice circle under the rim of my plate. Gran would clear the table, lift my plate up, and there was a perfect circle of my crusts. Again I received nagging, but I just don't LIKE the top crust!

I never dreamed that people would bow to the fact I hated crusts and bake me a bread without one. So now little Timmy doesn't have to be nagged at! He can get away with it! He doesn't have to face the trauma of his parents actually TELLING him to eat his crusts!

The Hovis press section proudly tell us that "35% of mothers waste their time cutting off the crusts, and also wasting 45% of the bread by cutting the crusts off". The loaf also has an "internal crumb structure" to stop the crustless bread tearing when you cut it. WTF!

So if this loaf is lacking crust is it bigger in size? is the price more or less? Are you actually getting more for your money? Are we that rushed for time that we can't even be arsed to spend 2 minutes cutting crusts off bread? What about the poor ducks or garden birds that always used to benefit from my crusts? They will starve!!!!

The Guardian newspaper says that crustless bread is helping to expand the culture of "lazy food" that is sweeping the world. Things like plastic bowls of cereal with the milk in one half and the cereal in another - ready-sliced mushrooms - ready-to-go stir frys - frozen chopped onions - and the funniest of them all - frozen mashed potato.

I've been touring loads of DIY and furniture shops as a new house buyer, and the kitchens on offer are beautiful - lovely cupboards, workbenches, very cool cookers, built-in fridges, and tons of cool kitchen gadgets to help you prepare food. I love kitchens and would happily spend hours in a lovely old fashioned one with a stone floor and a big aga, cooking up miracles. Why are we then bothering with these fab kitchens if we seem to loathe spending any time in them! If we don't want to stand and chop mushrooms, or mash potatoes, or cut off crusts? We seem to want to dash in, throw something in the microwave, empty our frozen mash into a pan, serve it then eat it in front of the telly, while not conversing at all with our kids, who sit there getting fat on processed crap and chemicals. Why not do away with the kitchen totally and just improve the lounge to have a microwave and a dishwasher next to the telly?!?!?!?!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Petrol Part IV

Interesting and good news to hear that Asda, Tesco and Esso have taken 4p off the price of petrol. Also interesting the resounding silence from the Government about this. A few days ago Gordon Brown was saying how he can't reduce petrol prices right now, but today Esso have said they are reducing their prices "due to the falling cost of oil". But Gordon stayed silent.

So exactly who is in charge of giving permission to reduce petrol prices? The Government? Or Asda, Tesco and Esso, who seemed to have taken things into their own hands and announced the price drop. If they had not done this would Gordon have stayed silent and continued to reap the rewards of the inflated fuel tax? I bloody bet he would have.

Bird Flu

You can tell I'm not very busy at work today :-D Another entry!

Been reading Boris Johnson's blog (http://www.boris-johnson.com) and found an entry about Ken Livingston the London mayor. Apparently he is spending £1m of the congestion charge raised on 100,000 doses of anti chicken flu medication....They have drawn up a list of "elite" figures, mainly government ministers and BBC high-ups, who would be required to keep the country going in the event of the chicken plague, and who must therefore receive free doses of the wonderdrug.

He says "What drives me mad is not that I am excluded from this list (opposition politicians, you will not be surprised to learn, are thought to be dispensable to the running of Britain), but that we are getting in a flap about a chicken disease which has killed a grand total of 57 human beings since it was detected in 2003, most of them Asian owners of fighting-cocks who chose to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to their spifflicated birds.

To get these figures in proportion, you should know that nine million people are suffering from tuberculosis, of which two million will die in the next year, and half a billion people are suffering from malaria. So why are we scaring ourselves witless about this Asian fowl pest? "

Well said Boris and what a scandalous waste of money. It seems that they have picked up on the media-panic about chicken flu and are convinced it's going to wipe out the globe. Like the SUDAN-1 scare - it made me piss myself laughing to see people so scared of eating a Pot Noodle or a curry "in case I get cancer", then they carry on with their 50-a-day habit and their cancer causing unhealthy lifestyles. But the media once again created the panic, and we drank it in like George Best.

Diseases such as malaria and TB are such a part of our everyday vocabulary that we ignore the millions of deaths caused by it. There is no scandal, no glamour, no frontpage news to be had about it, and because it doesn't really affect us Brits then once again we close our eyes to it.


Interesting to see how most of the papers are highlighting Freddie Flintock's 48 hour booze-athon following his Ashes win, and chuckling about it and joking how he had to stop the victory parade to nip into some Starbuck's toilets to throw up. "Well done Freddie you deserve a good piss-up" they say. Flintock himself boasts about how he can't remember the past few days celebration because he was so utterly bladdered.

Strange how only two weeks ago the same media were tutting and preaching about 24-hour licensing and binge-drinking amongst teens and the evils of drink and the cost to the health service.

But if you manage to win a pathetic egg-cup of an ashes trophy for our country it's fine to drink yourself into a stupor and to set a shining example to the next generation who adore our sports "personalities" and try to emulate everything they do, including marathon pissups. And you get a thumbs up from the two-faced media for doing so!

From Carole Malone in The Mirror

IT almost beggars belief... Last week a gang of under-age yobs who admitted tying 13-year-old Kyle Parker to a tree, putting a monkey mask on him before setting fire to him - all the while filming it on their mobiles - were told by the Crown Prosecution Service they wouldn't be charged because they were all of previous good character.

What kind of farcical reason is that for this gutless, inept organisation not to prosecute a group of boys who tried to kill another boy? ALL criminals are of previous good character until they commit their first crime.

So, 13 teenagers who try to kill a defenceless boy and have the audacity to call it Happy Slapping (a misnomer for a vicious, premeditated crime) get off scot- free, yet just days later 71-year-old retired vicar Alfred Ridley, who has a serious heart condition, was thrown into one of Britain's toughest jails for refusing to pay £63 he owed in council tax.

It will cost taxpayers more than £3,000 to keep Alfred locked up in Woodhill top- security jail for his 28-day sentence and God only knows what will happen to him in an institution which counts murderers, rapists and robbers among its inmates.

Until he was banged up Mr Ridley lived with his wife in a council house on an income of £530 a month, but he withheld £63 from his £970 council tax bill because he maintained that an 8.5 per cent rise imposed by South Northamptonshire Council in 2003 was illegal.

What the hell is wrong with this country when muggers, burglars, robbers and kids who think it is OK to try and kill other kids, are allowed to manipulate our increasingly soft legal system yet decent men like Alfred Ridley, who has devoted his life to helping others, is chucked in jail for a piddling £63?

You can bet if he was some scrounging layabout on benefits who hadn't paid £63 worth of fines he'd be sitting on his sofa at home now instead of slopping out at Woodhill. You can bet if he'd been an asylum seeker bleating about his human rights he'd have had a boat-load of compensation already.

It's a disgrace that our courts use the full force of the law to punish soft targets yet hardened criminals who know how to manipulate it get treated with kid gloves - especially if they utter those magic words "human rights".

One inmate released from Woodhill last week said when Alfred arrived: "He looked depressed and shaken up. He had his head down and was just staring at the floor."

Of course he was! He was ashamed for God's sake. A decent, law-abiding man like Alfred Ridley will carry the shame of being slung in jail until his dying day - unlike some ofthe other wasters in there with him who see "doing time" as a bit of a holiday.

And just as the magistrates who put him in jail should be sacked for having zero judgment, what excuse do the fools at South Northamptonshire Council have for deciding to waive Alfred's arrears two days after he was jailed? Why didn't they do it months ago, which would have saved Alfred a lot of life-threatening distress, not to mention a costly court case?

And while we're at it, this Government must also shoulder some of the blame. How dare they put hard-up pensioners in the intolerable position of having to spend vast amounts of the little money they have on extortionate council tax demands?

It's shameful that elderly people who've worked their entire lives are having to spend what should be a peaceful retirement worrying how they're going to pay their council tax from a pension that barely gives them enough to feed, heat and clothe themselves.

Tony and Cherie Blair come from working-class stock. They know only too well the hardships that elderly people face, yet they're presiding over a Government which is bullying pensioners into early graves. The real disgrace here is that we elected Tony Blair on a socialist ticket. Sadly, the closest he and Cherie get to socialism these days is when they have an intellectual debate about it over champagne and canapes with their posh friends.

The words hypocrites and traitors come to mind.

Hollow apology

How nice of Bush to take responsibility for the cock-up that is New Orleans ... how nice of him to promise between $60-200 BILLION to rebuild the town - a town that is UNDER sea-level and which some people say should have have been built in the first place.

Where are these billions going to come from? He can't fund the Iraq war AND rebuild New Orleans surely, plus keep his promise of all that aid to the Asian Tsunami appeal, AND the relief money for Africa? My guess is all other country aid will be pulled in favour of New Orleans, which is maybe a good and a bad thing.

I note he didn't apologise for CAUSING the destruction in the first place by pulling the levy funding that would have bolstered the city's defences and maybe prevented the flooding? How much money did he save by doing this? I bet it now seems pennies compared to the outlay to rebuild the entire town. Not to mention the cost of supporting all those people while their houses, jobs, lives, education, medicare and basic support systems are put back into place.

Well done George hope you're happy with your pennypinching. His apology means nothing to me and doubtless means nothing to him - he's not up for re-election anymore so doesn't need to placate his people in order to win another term in the White House. In short he couldn't give a stuff what happens to the people of NO - cos he doesn't need them to vote him in any more.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sick f*ckers

The chance to make a quick buck from Hurricane Katrina has not escaped some, with items on eBay including a "rain-soaked newspaper" delivered on the day the storm hit the American south, jars of rainwater and a message in a bottle that supposedly led to the rescue of several families.

Among other items on sale on eBay yesterday was a scribbling that a Texan "artist" claims he drew after waking from a dream 10 days before the storm, which uncannily resembles satellite pictures of Katrina. One man, claiming to be a survivor of the catastrophe, is offering the rights to his story, starting at $12,500 (£6,800).

This kind of thing disgusts me - is nothing sacred for people to try to make money out of?????

However, one bumper sticker that is for sale amused me - it says "Disaster Relief: Get Rid of Bush".

Homeless and hungry

This from Jamies Big Voice, an excellent blog written b an ex-homeless heroin addict who cleaned up: http://www.jamiesbigvoice.blogspot.com/

When you become homeless it's not really by choice. There doesn't seem any other choice. Things just happen beyond your control. Take the teenager bullied and the one that's abused at home, he or she runs away. It's in that instant they made that decisive move to leave, to get away. There was no thought of the future.

They couldn't see beyond the relief of finally getting away from the life that is, to a life that could be. It's like saying to a thief but didn't you think about the consequences before you committed the crime. What thief does. It's only as the years go by and you are still living with nothing but your wits and believe me when I say you need them. Do they want to live on the streets trying to survive? The answer sadly is, sometimes their life is sometimes better than it was.

After a while you get what they called street wise, you learn to survive. It's then the streets are home. What's the definition of home ( a place where one lives, a place where a family or social unit lives, a place one can call a refuge.) People on the streets have there own social circles they can often been seen in groups after all they are no longer part of society on the whole. Is it true that homeless people are second class citizens? I would have to say yes. The sadness of it all is that this is a way of life to some and it's by our giving the little we do give to the beggars that some people do actually survive like me for instance why I am still here I haven't got a bloody clue but I wouldn't be here if you hadn't given every morning. Yes it did go on drugs to make me something like a normal human being everyday but it also went on food. You helped me survive.

When I am now asked the question would I give? I do, but I speak to the person before I give that way I have an idea what the money is going on. If I think it's going on drugs then I will buy them a sandwich and give then a couple of bob. They might not thank me for it but at least I am helping them survive. For charities and organizations to come out shouting don't give to beggars is alarming in itself. I know this might sound absurd but aren't charities doing the same but only legally?

I don't want to run charities down because some do a fantastic job with the little resources they have. I just wanted to point out that ones legal and ones not but I was merely asking the question why? As the goal of survival is the same. I don't condone drug taking but as I see more and more youngsters on the streets and using drugs. I want to help if this means giving a few bob and a sandwich so be it. Survival is the name of the game on the streets. To get where I am today I needed to survive.

So when you see someone with the words homeless and hungry on a piece of cardboard look at them as a person. Maybe even speak to them you never know they might surprise you.

Store cards

News reports of how consumers are being ripped off with store cards made me laugh. Consumers are whingeing that they are being charged 20 or 30% interest rates on their store cards, compared to 15% on a normal credit card, and how disgusting it is.

Erm - READ THE SMALL PRINT and ask what the interest rate is before you sign up! Idiots! Are you blind? I never use store cards, even if they DO offer you 10% off a prchase when you first apply - one look at the ridiculous interest rate is enough for me to walk away - so why can't everyone else????

Monday, September 12, 2005

Petrol Part III

The news this morning warned us of an imminent petrol protest that was going to start on Wednesday. It apparently is going to be a non-blocking-of-fuel-supplies protest, so we shouldn't worry about not being able to get any fuel. Nevertheless, petrol stations were full this morning of people "topping up just in case". Admittedly, even I did as I'm on low and need to get to work.

I started to feel a hint of the apprehension I last felt at the time of the serious fuel protests in 2000, when the whole country was starved of the precious lifeblood of petrol. Sitting in a queue en route to work I thought about how people would cope when fuel does eventually dry out. It would be hell on earth. Panic buying at the supermarkets would clear their stocks, then the supers themselves wouldn't be able to restock because their distribution centres are miles away. Smaller local food outlets would then be squeezed dry, followed by the raiding of neighbourhood allotments at every opportunity.

Rural communities would probably survive better for longer, the proximity of farms and supplies of farm grown food and animals, plus the fact they would be miles away from the desperate citygoers and their empty cars, and out of the reach of food looters.

Businesses would suffer because they'd not be able to get fresh stock, and their workers may not be able to get to work at all. Fat kids who are driven to school would suffer because heaven fordib, they'd have to WALK or cycle to school! But then, if teachers can't get to the school what will happen to the education infrastructure?

No doubt emergency service vehicles would get raided for their fuel, just like in 2000 when nurses had their cars broken into and their fuel siphoned out by some desperate idiot who no doubt thought that his job of pushing paper around a desk is more important than a nurses job of potentially saving someone's life.

How would food be brought to us? By the emergency services? What if even THEY had no fuel? What would we do apart from raid garden centres to get seeds to grow our own food, buy a bread machine and then try to get shitloads of flour and yeast? What if you live in a flat with no garden? What would happen to our rubbish bins if no binmen could clear them away and take our waste to the landfills? The stench of rotting rubbish would bring forth a wave of rats and scavengers, not to mention disease and germs.

How much we would be willing to compromise when fuel does run out? Would we still insist on a wide range of fresh food on our plates from all around the country/world? Would we whinge about the fact that yes we'd have to cycle or walk to work, even in crappy cold wet weather? Walk miles to get some food then queue for hours for our rationed portions of 1 loaf of bread, some beans and some apples? Would we bleat because Fat Timmy wants his dino-shaped chicken nuggets and must HAVE his dino-shaped chicken nuggets, petrol or no petrol? Would we accept the fact that until this mess is sorted out, us and our kids may actually have to eat less and have fewer choices and waste less? Back to wartime recipies using dripping and home-ground flour, and no complaining please ....

Would we patrol our allotments with a shotgun and in true New Orleans style, put signs up that said "Loot and I Shoot"? Would we steal other people's hybrid cars to get around? Or would we turn back into a community and pull together to help eachother out? Would we turn vicious and violent in our desperation, stealing and conniving to get what we need for OURSELVES, and fuck everyone else?

It's so scary to me that our entire life is now dependent on petrol. We can't get anywhere or do anything without it, we are helpless, crippled without it. I hate the addiction we have. I hope petrol never runs out in my lifetime, or I hope that soon the new emerging culture and demand for hybrid and electric cars will start to really gather pace and begin a tide of change towards breaking the addiction.

Of course fuel isn't just goint to run out just like that and leave us stranded. But one day it will grow less, and less, and less, and the panic will set in and not go away because we will discover that it is actually running out and this time there will be no respite. I hope when that day comes that electric cars are ready and waiting in the wings, and that the seamless transition will take place, and life will go on as always, dino-shaped chicken nuggets and all.


It's amusing to me today to listen to the news and read what people are saying about the blasted cricket. Countless people have been quoted as saying "we're crossing our fingers for the weather to stay bad" or "we just need the Aussies to screw up again and we've won", or the news reporters saying that "the onset of more bad weather will return the Ashes to England after 18 years".

What's wrong with these quotes? They are all beautifully negative towards the skills of our England cricket team, in fact they don't even mention the team! We are all counting on either bad weather, or the OTHER TEAM'S misfortune for us to win! Not the skills of our own team!

This once again highlights Brit attitudes to sport. We trumpet that we're great, but really we just take the piss and we know we're crap. Jonathan Ross was saying the other day how the athletics commentators make excuses for and run down each member of the England team before they've even thrown a javelin or left the starting blocks .... "oh, she had a cold three months ago so she'll be a bit delicate today", "well his dog died last week so obviously he's missed training and will be a bit rusty". They're almost apologising for them because they know they're going to do crap before they start! I had noticed this way back in the Olympics and was greatly relieved to hear someone else agreeing.

So now we're reduced to hoping anything other than our team, will help our team win. Roll on the London Olympics, plenty of time to make excuses up and have them at the ready for each and every athlete!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Poverty of America

The disaster in New Orleans sheds new light on the nature of poverty in the rich world, according to writer Jeremy Seabrook.


The human toll of Hurricane Katrina is still being counted as the fetid waters that drowned a city recede or evaporate in the hot sun. Much has been written about how the 'war on terror' diverted spending from the defences of New Orleans. The absence of large numbers of the National Guard, on duty in Iraq, further delayed help to the stricken. The lack of clarity in responsibility between federal, state and local authorities exacerbated the disaster. The somnolence of George W Bush, deep, no doubt, in dreams of redistributing yet more wealth from poor to rich on his long holiday in Texas, made him slow to react to the enormity of what had happened. It has also uncovered unexpected vulnerabilities in this, the most powerful country on earth. It has laid bare, in the starkest and most tangible form, what is well known in theory: that this society is constructed upon a celebration of inequality, ingrown violence and great historic wrongs, which, for their sustenance, require continuous human sacrifice.

People in India often ask me whether poverty exists in the West. I tell them it is widespread. They accept the truth of this, but look puzzled. They find it hard to reconcile the ubiquitous imagery of abundance and luxury from the West with what they know of poverty as they experience it - the emaciation of extreme want. Do people labour in the fields for less than a day's wage? Do they suffer hunger? Must they work 16 hours a day? Do they send their children to work? Must they wait till evening for the money that enables them to eat?

No, it isn't like that. Poverty in the West is, assuredly, a violent visitation. But it has a different face from the poverty of India. It is hard to describe to those who have never been out of India the face of poverty in the richest societies in the world.

The effects of Hurricane Katrina have made it easier to explain, since it has demonstrated to everyone the nature of exclusion and resourcelessness in a country whose prodigious wealth inspires both envy and desire in the peoples of the earth.

For the waters that swept through New Orleans did more than inundate a beautiful and historic city. Among the debris of buildings, stores, churches, casinos, factories and fields, a human wreckage was deposited on the desolate streets. Pictures of used-up humanity - the shut-ins and the locked-aways, an incarcerated populace, a concealed people, those who pay the true cost of the expensive maintenance of the American Dream - have been beamed into the gilded dwelling-places of wealth.

Of course, no-one in the path of the violent storm that gathered such intensity from the overheated waters of the Gulf could have resisted its violence. But the spectacle of lives washed up on hard city pavements was instructive of how far the poor of America are, in the ordinary conduct of their daily lives, without resources. If this seems a statement of the obvious, it shows nevertheless the dissimilarity between poverty in rich and poor countries. The stranded survivors of New Orleans were devoid of basic skills for survival, since survival in America depends totally upon money.

Even the poorest people of Bangladesh, Niger, Brazil or India are not poor in the same way. The poor of the US have been remade in the image of wealth; that is to say, their lives have been fashioned by the same values, influences and expectations as the rest of society, which are those of the well-to-do. They are just as dependent upon money as the rich are, only they do not have the wherewithal to participate in a society constructed on the assumption that all human needs, wants and comforts must be bought in from the market. Nothing is grown, made, invented or created by the people for themselves and for others. Wealth means simply the ability to buy; to be cut off from this fundamental activity is to excluded, exiled from the society, an exile dramatically made worse when they were unable to move out of the path of the swirling floodwater.

In the developing world, poor people have learned to cope with what is lacking in their lives - not always successfully, it is true, but they have not yet learned the superior wisdom of the West, that nothing can be done without money. This is why the urban poor in Dhaka, Mumbai, Nairobi and Lagos still build their own shelters, create their own livelihoods, seek out their own fuel and grow food on any small parcel of land they can find.

But it is at times of catastrophic suffering and loss that the difference is most visible. That people in New Orleans left bodies unattended in the putrid waters of the Gulf and plundered the dispossessed is shocking and incomprehensible to the poor of India, Bangladesh or Africa. For when disaster strikes in the poor world - as it so regularly does - people do not loot and steal. They do not fire guns at rescue helicopters. They do not rob the hospitals of their drugs. They do not barricade themselves inside their rough shelters and write in white paint on their walls, Loot and Be Shot. The instinctive response of the poor in the 'underdeveloped' world is to succour those weaker than themselves, to share with them such meagre resources as they possess, to show a fundamental solidarity: the dereliction of others is not seen as an opportunity for gain. This is why they feel a bewildered compassion for the destructive rage of deprivation in the US.

Some commentators in America described scenes in New Orleans as 'reminiscent of the Third World.' They could not have been more wrong. This was an entirely 'First World' phenomenon: gun battles between looters and the National Guard, who operate a shoot-to-kill policy against predators, bloated corpses abandoned on riverbanks and sidewalks, or simply floating, unclaimed on the toxic flood - these are scenes which occur only in the lands of privilege.

This is what the poor of India and all the other hopeful countries of the world have been taught to envy and to long for. This is the supreme achievement of the richest societies the world has ever known; and it is the model, not merely preached, but actually imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the governments of the G8. That they are in no position to tell anyone else what to do is the enduring lesson from the disaster which has befallen, not merely Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, but American society itself, as it has demonstrated to the world its indifference towards those for whom the designation 'loser', 'no-hoper', 'failure' is applied as a stigma of moral, as well as material, incapacity.

It has long been clear that the West could easily provide a comfortable sufficiency for all the people of its own societies, if it chose to do so. It does not, for the simple reason that the fate of the poor must be maintained, as a warning and example to all who might otherwise be tempted to drop out, to relax their vigilance, to withdraw from the competitive ethos that drives people on to accumulate.

It is not ambition that drives the creation of wealth but the coercive fear of this ghastly version of poverty, this human-made construct that creates outcasts of plenty, human scarecrows brandished at dissenters to urge them to conform with this, the American or Western Dream. An indispensable component of its promise of wealth and affluence is its threat of a desperate, contrived and brutal form of poverty, of which the poor of India remain, at least for the moment, still innocent.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Congress has approved £52 BILLION aid money to help the New Orleans disaster recovery. £52 BILLION. Where does this money come from???? If America has such a huge surplus why can't they spend some of it on some of the other disasters in their country - namely tackling obesity, inadequate and junky food school meals, medical care, housing, homeless people, RESEARCH INTO ALTERNATIVE FUELS FOR CARS??

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Don't forget ....

In the wake of all the media splurging over New Orleans, we are all forgetting the huge cleanup operation that's still going on following the Asian Tsunami. These people are still rebuilding their shattered lives and homes, still trying to find friends and relatives, but they are old news now, forgotten, been there done that, TV crews packed up and gone. Is anyone checking whether the millions of $ in aid promised from the world has actually been delivered to them? Or is it all being diverted to help America now, America who is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the rest of the world I'm sure .

Also we are coming up to the Sept 11th anniversary too, where no doubt New York will come to a standstill and we will all have to drop everything and think about what happened in 2001, when needless thousands died because their President ignored repeated security warnings. Over 4000 people lost their lives that day and the world has to stop to remember them. But nobody thinks of the tens of thousands, if not more, of innocent lives lost all over the world thanks to Bush's megalomanic desire to rule the it with his own form of "Democracy". Lies, lies, pretence, corruption, needless wars, corporate greed, personal agendas, more lies, more war, more destruction, and more innocent deaths and misery for so many families.

Everybody knows there were serious mistakes made in the run up to 9/11 and in the aftermath and clean up, but still nobody stands up and shouts and demands justice. So many unanswered questions still ignored, so many of the relatives shoved into a corner and told to shut up. They impeached Clinton over a fucking spunk stain on a dress FFS, why not impeach Bush for murdering over 3000 people???? Or stealing elections? Or any other of the Heinous crimes he has committed? Thank God he can't be re-elected.

When the fuck are we going to find someone who will work their way through the ranks of Government and remain uncorrupted? Is it even possible? A shred of me will always believe that YES, this is possible and one day it will happen. I think we all need that hope, else what's the point?? But at the same time the possibility seems so absolutely remote that I may as well laugh at myself for even having that shred of hope in the first place. But it won't die inside me, no matter how much you tell yourself it's useless.

We all want the Hollywood America, where the President is Bill Pullman or Harrison Ford, a good guy, a guy who has morals and principles and actually cares about his people, and tells the corrupt wankers to piss off and go to hell because his country comes before the $$ in his bank account. I wish I could just step into the cinema screen and go live in a world like that.

Petrol Part II

Sure enough on the news this morning people were asking what the New Orleans catastrophe has to do with rising petrol prices in the UK. Another spokesman for the union that crippled the UK in 2000 with the fuel strikes, is talking of more strikes unless the Govt cuts the taxation on our fuel.

They also talked about Hybrid cars, and this got me thinking of a potentially vicious but good cycle that could start:

1) People realise that if they buy a hybrid car they will spend less money on fuel, thus saving shitloads
2) Demand for hybrids rockets
3) Car companies respond to the demand cos they can see £££££££ profits from hybrids
4) Hybrids are churned off the production line and bought in the thousands
5) Petrol usage starts to drop slightly cos all the commuters are now chugging around on battery power, and need half the amount of fuel
6) We finally start to save the environment - yay!
7) Petrol companies get pissed off cos their profits start to dip, so prices rise
8) People who can't afford hybrids are stuck paying £2/gallon to fill up their old Jalopies

Is this too simplistic a view on the future? The spread of hybrids can only help the environment which is great. But what will happen if petrol prices DO go up because we are buying less of it and the greedy petroleum people still want their profits (or the Govt still want their taxes on it). What will happen to all the vintage car owners who can only use petrol, all the military vehicle enthusiasts who need gallons of it for their thirsty American jeeps (speaking as the GF of a jeep owner I can verify they ARE thirsty!), all the truckers who probably can never run a huge heavy lorry on battery power, all the bikers too (is there a hybrid motorbike anywhere or plans for one???)

The Government will also be worried if fuel consumption drops, as their tax cut will also drop. So how will they tax us to make up the deficit? By screwing the petrol buyers, or imposing a special tax on Hybrids, or just applying a dozen stealth taxes on other things instead?

The price of diesel here in Norwich is at 98.9p. I remember the days when diesel cars were considered dirty and smelly, and nobody drove them except for trade people/builders/electricians etc etc. Diesel fuel used to be screamingly cheap back then. Now suddenly diesels are everywhere, the trendiest cars are diesels, and oooh look, the price overtakes that of Unleaded, once the priciest fuel.

Now tell me if the price rise is linked to "oil production" or just the Government's greed because they realise that everyone wants a diesel now, so hey, let’s screw them for their fuel prices and get more taxes!!!! Diesels are meant to be more economical in MPG, but if the price continues to rise, people will go back to their unleaded cars, or start using chip fat as fuel (it works too!).

That's something I'd love to see - a car that runs successfully on oils and fats ... how would Blair deal with that? Would he start charging £10 for a bottle of chip fat? He'd never get away with it! So as a result, is the development of oil-powered cars being pushed? I guess not.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A lovely morning ...

Well the autumn Equinox was yesterday and what a lovely evening it was. The sun seemed to turn to gold everything it touched, I wished that for once it would stop it's passage round the earth and just stay there for hours, keeping everything golden.

This morning it was the same. I'm lucky enough to work in a place that has a HUGE lake and parklands, and driving to work I decided I had to go down there before I went to the office. There was an autumn mist in the air and yet again the sun was golden, but this time it was lighting up the mist as it came through the tree branches, creating bright gold streaks of light that touched the morning dew and made the grass sparkle.

A lone squirrel rippled along the ground collecting nuts, paused when it saw me, stared, then bounded up the tree with the amazing slow grace only squirrels have. Rabbits sat hunched in the dew, chewing slowly and watching me with an unscared eye. The smell of the air was so lovely, so fresh, slightly damp but yet slightly warm too, and everywhere there was gold, gold, golden sun.

Nobody was about as I approached the lake, which resembled unbroken glass with the mist hanging above it and the autumn trees flanking it all along the banks. I just stood and breathed in, and took in the lovely, peaceful sight before me. Buggeration that it was nearly 9am and soon I'd have to go sit in my plastic and concrete office all day, I just wanted to stay here.

I took out a bag of old bread and as soon as the plastic rustlings echoed across the lake, the ducks appeared across the other side and hurried over to feed, creating V shapes in the glasslike water, then deciding to fly over and beat the other ducks to it.

When they had fed they drifted off and the lake resumed it's glasslike sheen once more, broken only by the occasional ripple as the small fish feasted on the remaining breadcrumbs.

I took some photos but my PC is now unplugged and packed ready for the house move, so I can't upload them. I sat on the bench looking out at this gorgeous spectacle and despite my loathing for the UK climate in general, I do love golden autumn days such as this, and I wish they lasted for longer! Sitting there surrounded by such peace and beauty it's hard to think of all the other crap going on in the world, and how so many people will never witness a sight such as this, or the feeling of peace and silence that an empty misty autumn lake can bring you. It's also amazing how some people can walk past a sight like this and never realise, never stop to take it in, never marvel at nature in all it's glory.

Over in Texas, the long hot scared frustrated traffic queues grow bigger - over in New Orleans the cleanup continues - over in Iraq the senseless killing continues, so much misery and pain, and all happening simultaneously while I sit by this quiet beautiful lake.

I had to drag myself away to the plastic palace that is my office. Nearly lunch hour now but the sun has gone and with it the magic of this morning too.