Sunday, January 28, 2007

Daft link Roundup - January pt2

Links that have taking my mind off the impending global economic apocalypse over the last few days...


and some videos...





and finally...
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Money - pt3

Lending made-up money is just like snacking. Once you start you just can't stop.

According to an exchange in Hansard a few years ago the split between 'real' UK money (i.e. notes and coins) and made-up UK money (created from nothing by bank loans) was something like 3% vs. 97%.

Which means that 97% of British money was created with an associated interest charge.

Which means that unless more money is made up every year there isn't enough money in circulation to pay the interest charges off.

So the banks make-up more money every year. Lots of it

And if you create money at a faster rate than people can create goods and services to buy with that money prices go up

Which goes a long way to explaining all those funky exponential graphs we've been seeing - house prices, personal indebtedness, stuff like that






I remember travelling in Italy years ago, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The rate of money creation and consequent devaluation of that money had got so out of hand that the scrap value of metal Lire coins was worth far in excess of their face value. Metal money disappeared virtually overnight. Even the smallest value coins were replaced by banknotes printed on grades of paper that made toilet roll feel durable in comparison. Attendants at motorway toll boths gave out boiled sweets instead of change. The situation was, to put it mildly, silly.

I only mention this because I couldn't help noticing that, as of December last year, the scrap value of US 5 cent coins was.... 7 cents. As with all the other recent commodity price rises this has been explained as being the result of a rise in the market price of copper not a fall in the inherent value of the dollar but, fuck it, nickels could be made out of cheetos or virtually anything else and they'd still end up being worth more dead than alive.

-

Of course, most politicians, bankers and economists will argue that the causes of inflation, recession/ depression and the resulting (and sneaky) wealth transfer are a lot more complex and less deliberate than a small group of decision makers simply running up, then running down the amount of money in circulation.

But they would.

And you can always make the Bankers Control the World!!! model sound less conspiratorial by making it sound more deterministic. Instead of claiming that powerful Financiers deliberately get together to mug the world by ramping up money supply and forcing debt onto ordinary people (and national governments of developed and developing countries), only to pull the plug on them later on, you can just say to yourself 'Well, these people come from the same backgrounds, thrive in the same kind of institutions and consequently just happen to think the same way. There's nothing co-ordinated about it'. Easy peasy, no conspiracy.

The end result is the same though. Take the 'independent' group of people who meet every month to set the base UK interest rate for example. Whose interests are they primarily concerned with? Who are they answerable to?

And then there are all those other spooky groups and get-togethers that people like our chancellor definitely don't attend, no sirree.

Anyway, if Bankers really do Control the World!!! and if we really are near the end of a deliberate inflationary cycle there's lots and lots to look forward to - housing crashes, lots of unemployment, social unrest and maybe exciting new forms of government.

Because if there's one thing people need after losing their job, their home and their savings it's having someone to blame (usually the wrong someone), and leaders willing to feed that need...


Extract from "Money: Whence it came, where it went" by John Kenneth Galbraith

"That the great German inflation, like the ones elsewhere in central Europe, produced a large transfer of wealth from those who possessed saving accounts, money, securities or mortgages to those who had debts or tangible property is assumed. And, despite a shortage of affirming statistics, that such transfer occurred does seem plausible. The loss so involved, the parallel lost by people of their stake in the social order and the companion anger and frustration were, in turn, thought to have much to do with the rise of Fascism or Communism. These are matters on which there is no proof, and it is unbecoming, however customary, to substitute certainty of statement for hard evidence. But the simple facts are worth a glance. All of the countries of central Europe that suffered a collapse of their currencies following the First World War were eventually to experience Fascism, Communism or in most cases - Poland, Hungary, East Germany - both. The countries that did not experience such a breakdown in their money were almost uniformly more fortunate.

What is not in doubt is that the German inflation left Germans with a searing fear of its recurrence. And whatever the effect of inflation in paving the way for Fascism, measures taken later out of fear of inflation were certainly not without effect. We have noticed, and will see again, that the strongest action is taken against inflation when it is least needed. On 8 December 1931, with one-sixth of the total German labour force out of work, the government of Heinrich Bruning decreed a reduction of from 10 to 15 per cent in most wages, this being a rollback to the level of four years earlier. It decreed also a reduction in industrial prices of 10 per cent, a similar reduction in rents, railway fares, rail freight charges and charges for municipal services. Earlier, wages of public employees had been reduced by a fifth, and taxes on wages, salaries and on incomes had been sharply increased. Unemployment benefits were also reduced. In the following year unemployment rose to one-fifth of the German labour force, and in the next year came Hitler"


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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Grand opening... canceled

And whilst on the subject of Big Brother Superstars...

Sadly, I've been beaten to the draw by this post in the
Londonist here but I still felt the need to photograph this shopfront on the Tower Bridge Road for myself when we walked past it this morning...



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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ooooh ... the irony

There's currently a top notch poster on the PETA UK website featuring Bollywood 'Superstar' and Big Brother contestant Shilpa Shetty...

Boycott The Circus...

I couldn't agree more


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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Money - pt2

The official rate of inflation in the UK is currently running at just under 3%.

This figure is, of course, and people are finally waking up to the fact, total bollocks.

The price of virtually everything that matters is going up by way more than that. Even the base price of that most basic and fundamental of commodities, money, has risen from 4.5%pa to 5.25%pa in a year - an increase of 17%

The Office of National Statistics has put up an interesting, if somewhat clunky, personal inflation calculator here.

I've just plugged in some figures for my own household and came up with an inflation figure of 8%. If you stick in figures for a typical pensioner the result is something like 9 - 10%.

This apparent mismatch between the official inflation rate and the inflation experienced by many real people boils down to the fact that the price of essential goods and services - water, power, local taxes, public transport ... money - are rising like stink, whilst the prices of consumer goods and services provided by slave labour, overseas and domestic, are falling.

Consequently, the more you spend on consumerist shit the lower your average rate of inflation and the official inflation figures are rigged that way. For the majority of us who can't or won't spank cash on tat the average rate of real inflation is much higher - unless your staple diet is illegal immigrants and you heat your home by burning Chinese-made DVD players.

-

I'm currently trying to sort out the finances of a retired family member. She receives something like a 5% gross return on her savings. Her personal inflation rate is something like 8 -10%. Which means that even if she saved all of her interest and ate grass the real value of her savings would still fall by 3 - 5% a year. If she took the income her spending power would fall by 8 - 10% a year.

In short, somebody is thieving from her - and every other person on a fixed income or earning a wage that doesn't rise by 8 -10% a year.

Which is quite a few people. The majority of people in fact.

That of course doesn't stop governments and employers behaving as if people's wages are the primary cause of inflation and doing their level best to keep the rate of wage inflation below real inflation rates - just about the neatest way to rob millions of people blind anyone has ever come up with.


Of course, if my relative could pretend she had more money than she really had, lend out ten times the value of her savings and charge 5% interest on that she'd be earning a 50% turn on her cash. More than enough to keep place with the real rate of inflation, take an income and have quite a bit left over. She could then, of course, lend ten times anything she had left over in each succeeding year. After 10 years of this nonsense a £10,000 starting stake would be worth £410,000 of real money, £4,100,000 of made-up money and delivering a gross income of £205,000 a year...


A quick spreadsheet I put together to experiment with fractional reserve banking for a bit of 'fun' - it would be considerably more fun if I could do it with real money


The only problem with this plan is that it is, of course, fraud. For a private individual anyway. For a bank, on the other hand, this is good business and a cornerstone of capitalism. Well, what passes for capitalism these days.


And that, as they say, is why the biggest and most expensive buildings in most cities belong to banks.

And that is where all those big bankers' bonuses come from

And that is why I piss myself laughing, and I'm guessing bank directors and owners piss themselves laughing, whenever there's a consumers' rights campaign about bank account fees, cheque clearing times, people being charged 50 pence to use a cash machine and itty bitty distractive shit like that. Oooh, I bet those fat cats are quaking in their boots...

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Money - pt1

Even though we are actively encouraged not to think about them in such terms, many of the ideas labelled as ‘conspiracy theories’ are essentially theoretical models put together to explain how the world works.

Virtually everything we believe about science and human affairs is underpinned and challenged by a mass of theoretical models. Models that are, rightly, subject to a continuous process of scrutiny, debate and refinement.

And then there are ‘conspiracy theories’ which are subject to no more than derision.

Very often the differences between an idea that gets into a textbook and one that can only find a home in some dark corner of the Internet are slight. Most ‘conspiracy theories’, discounting the ones that genuinely are plain bonkers, become labelled as such because they fail two key tests -
  • They attribute events to some controlling intelligence which, post-Enlightenment, is a definite 'no no'. All truly clever, truly educated people know that everything that happens in the world is either random or deterministic
  • Conspiracy theories are sometimes rejected not because they are conspiracy theories but because they are the wrong kind of conspiracy theory and clash with an established paradigm. Hence, suggesting that elements of the US Government might have been involved in 9/11 is insane but believing 9/11 was carried out by a shadowy international crime network controlled from an underground base in remote Central Asia is supremely rational.
-

I mention all this because I’m beginning to detect to re-emergence on the Internet of an all-time classic Unified Conspiracy Theory, or should I say theoretical model, that fans of 1920s and 1930s history will know and love.

It is, of course…


BANKERS CONTROL THE WORLD!!!


The basic version Bankers Control the WORLD!!! conspiracy theory goes something like this...

  • Using fractional reserve banking techniques, Central Bankers flood a target economy with insane amounts of money that they whisk out of thin air. The result is a BOOM of massive inflation, excessive consumption, trade deficits and indebtedness...


Then, when the time is right…
  • The Bankers move their own money into commodities or alternate currencies that retain inherent value.
Then…
  • The Bankers BUST the bubble they created by sharply restricting the money supply, causing a major recession/ depression...


Then...
  • The Bankers start foreclosing on everyone like a bastard, whilst bringing their own money back into the economy and picking up the resulting bargains on offer.

    Those people who took out loans when prices were high and money was cheap and freely available who manage to avoid foreclosure will still be bollocksed by the effort of servicing those loans
    with money that is now neither cheap nor freely available.

    It’s a Grapes of Wrath thing...


  • Repeat for centuries

Obviously, any parallels drawn between current times and the late 1920s can only go so far. For example, the prospects of people having to buy single loaves of bread with wheelbarrows filled with devalued, hyper-inflated money are slim. Everyone uses credit cards now. Much more convenient and easier on the arms. Besides, good-quality wheelbarrows would be expensive and could be bartered for bread.


The deluxe version of the Bankers CONTROL the World!!! model includes such optional extras as…
  • Buying-off or in some other way controlling all major political parties and stifling political expression
  • The establishment of restrictive security measures and databasing in advance of the bubble bursting and the social unrest that will go with it
  • Invading oil-rich countries to stop rag heads popping the bubble early by selling their oil in a currency of their choosing
  • Preparing the groundwork for excuses to distract people from what really is fucking their lives up. Stuff like, ooh I don’t know, an ill-defined, unwinnable global war, or targeting and demonising a particular social class or racial group, or maybe invoking the spectre of impending ecological catastrophe, something like that
How crap would living in a world like that be, eh?


The 1920s and 1930s - a good time for lamp design, not such a good time for economic or political moderation
/ big art deco fan
/ not so keen on depressions or fascism
/ except the uniforms


Of course, as with all models, the real fun comes when you test your new model out by applying it to the real world to see if it offers any new insights into that world and, the acid test of any serious model or theory, gauging the quality of its predictive power...


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Friday, January 19, 2007

January daft link roundup - extra

Being a) old enough to remember Top Trumps when they first became popular, and b) having worked with some right bastards in my time, I just saw something on the B3TA board that made me choke on the tea I was drinking at the time...


Well, I laughed, a lot

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Every Little Helps

And for lunch today I ate...

These are not just deceptively packaged fillets of cod - these are Tesco's Finest* deceptively packaged fillets of cod...


The photograph really doesn't do the packaging justice. You could have stuck another five or six fillets in there and they still would have rattled around inside the box - if it wasn't for the huge plastic bag Tesco's had thoughtfully jammed in there to prevent just that eventually.

Tesco's, I salute you.


Update:

Thank you to the commentators who have aired the possibility of me gracing alternate, more up market, supermarket chains with my custom. The problem with that, of course, is that I live in Lambeth. Round these parts Tesco's is a high end supermarket - I'm already pushing the boat out by not shopping at Lidl, Aldi or Iceland...

Exhibit A - Screenshot of a Google Maps search for 'Waitrose near Lambeth'

'North ...and to the West. North ...and to the West'

The eagle-eyed will notice that Waitrose is scared rigid of South London - with all branches clustering north of the Water, like the namby pamby North London poseurs that they are. Mind you, with South London having ambassadors like this woman can you blame them?

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January daft link roundup


Sundry links of no great sociological import which have made me smile recently...

The Internet

  • Uncyclopedia – like Wikipedia but riddled with lies. Which means that, in practice, it’s exactly the same as the real Wikipedia much of the time – I found the entry on Richard Dawkins (courtesy of T-Mix) to be particularly fact-packed and informative

The Visual Arts

'I have no idea what she's saying...'

'Prince Philip ... He's like the grandfather us Kiwis never had because all of ours were shot at Gallipoli...'


Oh, and I almost forgot this (thanks Rahid)...


'Fits Adults and Children...'

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2007 - Year of the Sock Puppet


And whilst on the subjects of political protests, peculiar behaviour and puppets…

A week or so ago I was chatting with a couple of other UK bloggers, sharing our take on the state of political blogging in the UK and its impact on the real world. The short answer was a) it’s a mess and b) not much.

But, hey, UK politics is in a mess and if millions of people getting off their arses and marching against the attack on Iraq couldn’t encourage our elected representatives to do the decent thing why the fuck should a few hundred people blogging make any difference?

A key reason why UK politics is in such a mess is the fact that the old Left vs. Right ideological divisions simply don't apply to many of the issues politically aware people are concerned about. And the political parties aren't giving those people a choice, or a voice.

And so, there looms the tantalising possibility that those politically aware people could use the medium of the Internet to explore areas of shared concern and develop a Movement. A Movement that puts notions of Left and Right to one side and focuses instead on exploring on how we can make our institutions more representative and accountable. A Movement that could then spill out into the real world and help make Life better.

Alternatively, everyone could just be horrible to each other.

At the moment, horrible appears to be winning hands down.

as evidenced by a series of public spats breaking out in the UK Blogosphere. I'll link to a couple of examples for the sake of completeness – here, here and here - but I don't recommend reading through them. I really don't.

Sadly, many people are much more adept at latching onto the differences between them than finding common cause.

But that’s not important or especially amusing right now.

What is amusing is the increasing use of malicious sock puppetry in UK political blogs and forums - and all the paranoia that goes with it. I would link to a few examples but I really don't want a bunch of nutters on my case.



Speaking as someone who has fashioned one or two, um... dozen Internet sock puppets in his time, the socially responsible part of my psyche despairs at the thought of so much foolishness whilst the socially irresponsible part loves every minute of it.

Yes, British political blogging – less of a movement, more of a collection of embittered people sitting at keyboards pursuing vendettas and stalking each other in cyberspace whilst pretending to be somebody else.

The Powers that Be must be quaking in their boots, or pissing themselves laughing, one of the two.

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edit: I've replaced the links in one of the above posts with a link to Carnival in Rio - by Heino because, on reflection, I've decided that it's more interesting and uplifting than the original link
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They Hate Us For Our Freedoms - part 417

Brian Haw's peace camp - pre trashing


Connoisseurs of the life and works of Brian Haw will be tickled by this story in the entertainment section of the BBC news website...

Brian Haw, who has held an anti-war vigil outside the Houses of Parliament for six years, has been immortalised in art in London's Tate Britain gallery.

Now former Turner Prize nominee Mark Wallinger has recreated the protestor's camp, and his banners, in the Tate. The gallery falls within a 1km zone around Parliament in which unauthorised demonstrations are prohibited. Wallinger has placed his exhibition, called State Britain, half inside and half outside the exclusion zone - which is marked on the floor.

Marvellous


Not Brian Haw's peace camp - but still trashed anyway


For some reason that’s beyond me, an accidental oversight presumably, the article neglects to mention that the SOCPA exclusion zone also encompasses my own birthplace which is a real pain for all my followers I can tell you.



Brian Haw’s antics have been a constant source of amusement and wonder to me since he started his protest back in 2001. First the government tried to turf him out on the basis that he was making too much noise and disturbing the parliamentary chamber. That would be the same parliamentary chamber filled with drunken and/or comotose middle-aged men so tanked up on taxpayer-subsidised booze and making such a spectacle of themselves that television cameras are forbidden by law to capture their antics.

Then those same men passed
a new law targeted at removing Haw - trashing centuries old rights in the process. However, our law makers were too pissed, or too stupid, to draft the new bill properly and failed to make it retrospective and therefore applicable to existing protests including Haw's.

Then their mates at New Scotland Yard got on the case and
seventy-eight of them jumped out of vans at three o’clock one morning, thoughtfully pointing nearby traffic cameras away from the peace camp beforehand, and trashed the camp on the basis that it might be a terrorist base.

Fans of the Who Dares Wins school thought, which maintains that all peace protesters are at best foolish traitors and at worst Arab-funded terrorists hiding AK-47s and Semtex in their packed lunches and sandals, no doubt approve of the Met's treatment of Brian Haw. Personally, I miss the days when our police force didn't behave like some bizarre hybrid of the Gestapo and the Muppets.




Anyway, like I said, marvellous entertainment. Keep it up Brian...

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Monday, January 15, 2007

The Ultimate Celebrity Diet?

I was strolling by Westminister Cathedral a couple of nights ago and paused, as I always do, to check out the Christian bookshop next door to see what’s currently hot in the world of Christian publishing.

At the moment, this amusingly titled little tome seems to be quite popular...


What would Jesus eat?


As with so much of the output from Evangelical Christians, especially American Evangelical Christians, you can never be too sure if the author is pulling your leg or if they’re really being serious.

And it’s not an earth-shattering surprise to discover that the book’s key recommendations feature whole-grain loaves, fishes and a little red wine as an integral part of a believer’s diet.

Presumably the book was written to cash in on the 'What Would Jesus Do?' craze that swept America a few years ago. Or should I say 'What Would my caricature
of Jesus Do?'. Given that so many Evangelicals have jettisoned the trickier aspects of Jesus' teachings such as turning the other cheek, humility, Love for all Humanity, non-violence, embracing social outcasts, forgiveness, not cluster-bombing people back into the Stone Age, stuff like that.




The reviews on Amazon are largely positive and occasionally amusing -

'I've often sat awake and wondered, pondered and pontificated just what Jesus would eat. Then I began wondering just how he would feed himself, well, when *you-know-what* happened. I imagine that would have been difficult. But, then again, he was the son of God. But, this book sheds away all mystery. I never knew they liked Okra so much.'

'I have lost ten pounds since being on the diet. I think most of it came from following the parts of the Bible that mention the consumption of deserts, but only during special events.'

'This is without doubt the most balanced, most motivational diet book I've ever read. If you're tired of fad and celebrity diets, this is the ultimate authoritative guide.'

But not everyone agrees -

'After following the advice in this book for many years, I felt like I would live forever, right up until the point that I was crucified. Fortunately, I came back three days later.'

'In all my life, I have never heard of such drivel. If you have ever wondered why the rest of the world simply despairs at the decline of the USA, the very fact of this book's publication will tell you ... I was going to say that I'd keep this book out of the hands of children, but then I mentioned it to my own children, and they thought the idea so hilariously funny - and the positive reviews even more so - that I realised I was wrong. Every good and happy child should be able to laugh loudly, freely, as often as possible. And they did. They knew adults were capable of folly, but this came as a surprise even to them.'

I like the word Folly. People should use it more.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Geological Museum and NHM Field Report

And whilst on the subject of climate change, I spent part of yesterday mooching around the Natural History and Geological Museums....

Strictly speaking, the Geological Museum doesn’t exist as a separate entity any more. It was incorporated into the Natural History Museum a few years ago and renamed The Earth Galleries but fuck that.

For most of its history the Geological Museum stuck closely to the uniformitarianism roots of the British pioneers of geology and placed as little emphasis on natural catastrophes as possible. As a consequence it was a dry, desperately dull place filled with hundreds of display cabinets, containing thousands and thousands of meticulously annotated chips of rock that only bearded men in Aran jumpers (including myself for a time) could ever possibly derive gratification from.


Tip: Geologists are easily mistaken for WW2-era U-Boat commanders. They are not the same thing and are only rarely seen wearing the Knight's Cross


The crushing dullness of the Geological Museum was compounded by the fact that the adjacent NHM wangled first-call on all the best dinosaur fossils for its own galleries.


Which made the Geological Museum a lovely place to go to get away from the crowds in London as nobody ever went there.

A few years ago this all changed. The specimen cabinets were relegated to the deceptively trendy sounding ‘Gallery 66’ and the Geological Museum was turned into B-Grade theme park; filled with pointlessly interactive exhibits, loop videos of things exploding and loads of fake gem stones. The average age of the target audience was reduced from about 37 to about 4 years old. Hutton and Lyell must be spinning in their graves.

Though, it must be said, the Geological Museum is now a lot more popular than it ever was before its lobotomy.

Anyway, in true Field Trip style, I recorded all my most important observations from yesterday's visit to the Geological Museum and NHM in a little notebook, complete with detailed sketches and photographs – the highlights of which include…


The two most amusing animal names of the day





Best Global Warming Fudge

After walking through a series of exhibits that explained that global climate is the poorly understood product of the interaction of many awesome cosmological forces such as

  • Solar cycles
  • Variations in the Earth’s orientation and orbit
  • The development of Life
  • Mountain formation
  • The creation of low-cost Irish airlines

it became quite clear that the geological evidence indicates that we are currently living in an ‘interglacial’ period and that global temperature is set to fall drastically in the (geologically) immediate future.

This apparent mismatch between geological data and what people are being told by the mainstream media every half-hour or so has been neatly dealt with by placing a sign at the very end of the exhibits relating to climate change…



'If increasing greenhouse gases cause the predicted rise in temperature there will be devastating effects on the environment – deserts will expand and melting ice will flood low-lying land.

However, the Earth is due to enter another glacial phase in the next few thousand years so natural and induced climate changes may cancel each other out, for a while at least.'



Best dinosaur related merchandise of the day

Carnage Action Dinosaurs


Tricera-pops


Nodding Dinosaurs


Unsurprisingly, most of the dino-related products on offer these days are low-grade tat manufactured in China - including a series of 'missing-link' fossils created in the palaeontological equivalent of a chop shop that initially went down very well with evolutionists in recent years


Most bizarre instruction of the day

First, pretend your hands are two small mammals



Sneakiest use of the F Word of the Day

For the better part of 150 years mainstream geologists have gone to superhuman lengths to emphasise how gradual the forces that shape most of the Earth are. This dates back to clashes with 19th century believers in the literal word of the Bible, particularly the Book of Genesis and the 'world was created in seven days' thing.

So, perversely, geologists found themselves celebrating and promoting the sheer mind-numbing dullness of their subject and playing down the significance of more compelling stuff like volcanoes, earthquakes and floods …especially floods.

The problem with that approach is that there is an awful lot of evidence that much of our world really was shaped by catastrophes. Take fossils for example. More often than not fossils are found in thick deposits that bear all the hallmarks of the sudden, dare I say catastrophic, death and preservation of the creatures contained within them.

The history of scientific catastrophe denial really is a very nice example of data being twisted or flatly ignored whenever it doesn't suit a prevailing paradigm. And one that comes to mind whenever I hear some knob on the television talking about scientific consensus or scientific 'truth' as if such concepts are ever sacrosanct.

So hats off to the curator who drew up the card for this exhibit...



and steered clear of euphemisms such as ‘inundated’ and actually used the F Word, even finding a way to capitalize it too...


Noah's rejects?


Catastrophes are undergoing a period of rehabilitation at the moment. Not because there is so much evidence to support their occurrence – that’s always been there, and arguably why some creation myths (the scientific consensus of their day) got going in the first place. Nope, scientific catastrophism is becoming popular because there’s money in it. Whether it’s NASA plugging asteroid impacts to keep its space program going or environmentalists blaming Katrina on global warming (sorry, climate change), catastrophes scare people and where there’s Fear there’s Loot, and Influence. Any similarities with religions playing exactly the same game are, I’m sure, not entirely coincidental.

For example, the difference between these two claims...

'God sent Katrina to punish America for its sinful ways'

'Katrina was the natural result of our unsustainable and wasteful behaviour'

is what exactly?


By far and away the scariest exhibit of the day

And on the subject of scaring the living crap out of people…

The best laugh of the day came at the end of waiting in a twenty minute queue in a darkened passageway that led to a room containing a life-sized animatronic T-Rex flailing around and roaring in a really scary way. The effect on unsuspecting and impressionable small children is entirely predictable.

I’ve uploaded a (far too) short eight-second video clip onto Gootube. You can just catch the sound of traumatised children whimpering in shock and fear in the background in the last couple of seconds.

Now that’s what 21st century science is all about.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Global Climate Warming Change Thingie

And whilst on the subject of New Zealand, thanks to Bridget for sending me a link to an article entitled...


The possibility that world temperature
might actually be falling, not rising, shouldn't come as a surprise, as evidenced by the fact that the slippery fuckers behind the current global enviro-scam have quietly taken to referring to 'Climate Change' rather than 'Global Warming' over the last couple of years.

That's not to say spunking resources away is a good thing - waste is waste - but it's plenty cause to mistrust the claims and motivations of those who would impose their Will on the rest of us using fear as their primary tool. Any similarities in technique with the bullshit that is the War on Terror are, I'm sure, entirely coincidental.

And to illustrate this post a sequence of two pictures I've just found of my old mate Alan waking up in a frozen bivvy bag in a car park in Snowdonia many moons ago.

Established Alan fans will note how his obvious distress at waking up encased in ice soon passed once an appropriate dose of budget Cola and a couple of Bensons had been administered...




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Twisties

And, quick as a flash, to push the extended, intellectual self-indulgence of that last post down from the top spot - something shorter and more trivial...

We were fortunate enough to receive a couple of food parcels from New Zealand just before Christmas. And, as anyone who has spent time in NZ knows, your average Kiwi's appetite for sugar-saturated snack crap doesn't exactly fit in with that super-ecological, clean and green image the New Zealand tourist board likes to put out...




Included in one of our parcels (thanks Noel, thanks Vanessa) was a packet of Twisties -
Twisties are part of the same food group as Cheesy Wotsits (the Internet Surfer's King of Snacks) and Cheetos but, on eating, turn out to be more closely related to Cheetos than Wotsits - which is, frankly, a disappointment. Anyway, I slapped up a detailed pack shot of the Twisties onto Flickr ...and was rewarded with the best comment I've had on one of my pictures for a long time -




Hmmm, long winded intellectual self-indulgence followed by a shortish post on homosexual crisps. I'd try to figure out what they average out to and say about my personality if taken together but the results would probably scare me


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Conspiracy Denial

I was chatting with a few folks last week about why many people on the mainstream Left of politics, as personified by Noam Chomsky, refuse to investigate the discrepancies in events like 9/11 or 7/7.

If people like Chomsky looked into the issues and then rejected them as being insignificant on the basis of the evidence that would be one thing. However, what they are actually doing is rejecting the possibility that anything untoward happened out of hand, almost as a matter of principle.





Which means that they are effectively leaving research into 9/11 and 7/7 to the Internet crop circle brigade, the occasional porno mag and a handful of people who aren’t necessarily obsessed with crop circles, spontaneous human combustion or pornography but who do genuinely think something is amiss.

7/7 and 9/11 are tangible events that happened in the real world. They have serious and profound ramifications. Yet anyone who has doubts about the official narrative of those events is automatically categorised as being part of the lunatic fringe. Not just by the mainstream media but by heavyweight figures on the political Left - the kind of people who you would think would grab at an opportunity to expose bad boy behaviour by the Establishment.

In fact, established icons of the political Left are so reluctant to even take a quick peek at 9/11 and 7/7 issues some people have started to suspect that they are part of the Establishment - the gatekeeping thing I’ve banged on about in a couple of posts.

But there is another explanation for their behaviour that requires a little historical perspective…

Back in the olden days people believed that everything that happened in the world had an intelligence behind it. Thor was responsible for lightning, natural disasters were the manifestation of God, or a god’s, wrath, even the roll of dice or the arrangement of chicken entrails were the product of Fate.

There was no such thing as blind chance.

After a few thousand years of thinking like this, people started to reject these old superstitions and replace them with new ones. Good public relations being everything, this collection of new superstitions was called The Enlightenment. A key tenet of which was …

God isn’t responsible for shit. Shit just happens

In fact, organised religion - the belief that the hidden hand of someone (i.e. God) is behind all events - began to be viewed as the ultimate conspiracy theory.

Post-Enlightenment thinking rejected all that nonsense and bent over backwards to explain the world in such a way that absolutely no-one, and especially no deity, was pulling the levers…

The pioneers of geology and evolutionary theory emphasised that the natural world around us was shaped by gradual, tediously predictable natural forces. The significance of catastrophic events was downplayed to a point of active denial – catastrophes smacked too much of the Bible and divine intervention.

A similar attitude applied to economics and history - with thinkers downplaying the role of the individual and emphasising the significance of impersonal forces such as the ‘proletariat’ or ‘capital’, grinding away at each other like waves against a shoreline.

The idea being that, interpreted with the right equation, the flow of human history is just as predictable as a chemical or physical reaction.

And, like minor impurities in a reaction, the actions of individuals may cause a few hiccups in the scheme of things but their influence on the end result is ultimately insignificant.

I remember sitting a history exam years ago and answering a question along the lines of

‘Would Germany have militarised and started World War 2 if Hitler hadn’t become chancellor?’

The reason why the question was even asked in an exam was because it was considered particularly astute by historians to answer by saying ‘Yes, WW2 was an inevitable consequence of Germany’s humiliation at Versailles. The German people were looking for payback and if Hitler hadn’t come along they would have found another leader who would have behaved in a similar way’

Total horseshit IMHO but plausible-sounding horseshit.

Back to Chomsky and other uber Lefties blowing off conspiracy theories…

Chomsky's problem is, I think, that he is a slave to that post-Enlightenment paradigm that sees history and human events as being the product of impersonal natural forces and not the result of decisions and actions of individuals.

So, when presented with the suggestion that there may have been a conspiracy behind 9/11 Chomsky will naturally reject it out of hand – regardless of the quality, good or bad, of the supporting evidence.

If you believe that human history is the product of forces rather than individuals or individual events an occurrence like 9/11 is nothing more than a burp in the scheme of things and of little interest to someone with a Superbrain looking at the Big Picture like Chomsky.

Chomsky and his kind are ultimately preaching futility and the Que Sera Sera school of thought.


Doris Day explaining the theories of Karl Marx...


Ultimately, this kind of thinking is no different to believing in gods, fate and destiny. You still believe that the future is already written but, in a perverse way, there’s even less emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability than with the established monotheistic religions.

In Chomsky-world there’s a depressing inevitability to everything that will Be – globalisation, clashes between civilisations, CCTV cameras in our bathrooms, genetically modified soya fashioned from pureed human embryos, all of it. None of it is planned. It just happens.

And all we can do is shrug our shoulders, say something like ‘well, that’s progress’, bend over and take it

And that’s why Chomsky is such a c^nt.

Take his Propaganda Model. No real specifics, no names, lots of woolly generalisations. No viable plan of action…

If you were to deliberately set out to paralyse potential activists with an idea that seems to explain everything but an idea that doesn’t enable or empower them to identify who they should revolt against/ put on trial/ hang, you couldn’t do better. As a meme it is both virulent and sterile - effectively out-competing and blocking out other, less simplistic but potentially more fruitful, ways of thinking.

The really interesting question is this…

Is the belief that human events are the product of unintelligent natural forces an idea actively promoted by the people who really run things to distract us all from what they’re up to? Or is that really how things are?

Personally, and boringly, I suspect that the answer is a bit of both. Controlling the flow of history would be as difficult as diverting a river like the Mississippi but what you could do is give the flow a nudge here and there at selected points.

And it's depressing how so many people from the Intellectual Left are willing to discount evidence of some really fucking serious global nudging, not on the basis of reason but because it doesn’t fit in with an ideology they've inherited. Shame on them.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Register that Alien!

I'm still working through several old boxes of family photographs and came across a provocative little something the other day that gave me cause for thought - my grandfather's old Alien Registration permit from the 1920s...




Alien or not, and even though he held an Italian passport, my grandfather was still called-up into the British Army when the War came around which I suppose, technically, made him a traitor.

It's quite amusing to read through all the reporting requirements and penalties for non compliance detailed in the permit...




Given the way migration is managed today, it has certainly got me thinking.

One thing I do know for sure is that migrants of my grandparents' generation didn't have it easy. And, rightly or wrongly, many were bemused and eventually became quite resentful of later migrants who didn't have to routinely report to the police and were given access to free healthcare, unemployment and housing benefit, language support and all that other good stuff that wasn't on offer when they came over.

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