Political Songpost

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I wanna be green
(after Ian Dury, I Wanna be Straight)

 

I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I wanna hug trees and save all the bees,
If you know what I mean
I wanna protect, I wanna protest
Eat organic Quorn on an organic lawn
in an organic vest

I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I want the sky and the water supply
to be lovely and clean
Yeah, gonna be hip, yeah gonna be true
While I’m saving the whale and saving the Earth
from the twats who vote blue

I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
Give drivers hard looks and read Monbiot’s books
on my Kindle screen
Don’t tell me I’m soft, don’t tell me I’m cracked
You won’t be so cool if we use all the fuel
and we’re totally fracked!

Does meditation
Aid conservation?
Is your elevation
The only chance that we’ll survive — eh?

Yeah! Green, green, green, green
Green, green, green, green
Green, green, green, green, green!

I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I know that I’m right and I know that you’re wrong
and there’s nowt inbetween
But it isn’t for me, with a capital G
Perhaps I’m an arse, but I’m not middle clarse
so I’ll vote SNP

I wanna be green
I wanna be green etc

 

4/5/17

… and another thing …

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Some pearls of wisdom

Stop saying, ‘life’s to short’ to do annoying or boring stuff.

Life’s not too short, it’s too long. If it was short, it wouldn’t really matter if the odd bit was dull or annoying, cos it’ll all be over either way before you know it. But if it’s long, then it’s worth trying to minimise the proportion spent doing tedious stuff like reading this blog.

As Clement Freud said, if you give up smoking, drinking and sex, you don’t live any longer: it just seems longer.

So stop using that annoying cliché, because the next person I hear say it will suddenly find out just how short life can be, capiche?

 

and…

 

There’s no such thing as ‘too much information’. Just too much sensitivity.

OK, maybe the finer details of my bowel movements are not something you want to hear at the dinner table, but apart from that, I can simply ignore you if you choose to tell me about your sexual activities, abd who knows how interesting somone might find it.

If that someone happens to be a journalist or a blackmailer, storing up info for a future date, that’s your problem, not mine.

Until then, tell me everything you know and I promise to at least pretend to be fascinated.

 

See you next Wednesday…

What are the oddities?

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My ex’s late Father, a proud Welshman, always bet against his nation’s rugby team, on the grounds that he’d be happiest if they won, but would have some financial compensation if not. I have known (and made good money from) folks who consider betting against your ‘own’, even in the matter of  sport, to be a form of high treason. Each to their own. Wonder how they’d feel on the matter of politics?

Because, on that same basis, your wacky correspondent just put a tenner on Marine le Pen to be the next French President, at five to one. There’s probably never been a bet I’d be more pleased to lose. I nearly put one on Trump but the odds fell to fours. Waiting for them to go up again, they were kiboshed by the Hillary emails ‘story’. It’s true that the le Pen win seems less likely than the Trump one did, but remember how few of the chattering classes expected that. Likewise Brexit, though it did occur to me that the money I could have made at four to one would be worth a lot less in real terms after the vote knackered the pound.

Yet still, only the other day, I was told on facebook, the le Pen bet was a waste of money because “This always happens in the first round of the French Presidential election: people vote in protest. But in the second round they vote with their heads to keep out extremists.”

As I pointed out, these days “People have stopped doing what they always do”. That’s what makes these bets so attractive. An accy on Trump and Brexit was up to 40/1 and probably higher at some points. But who actually won those votes?

Thinking about these comments and how to share them on a narrower stage,  thought I should share some other pearls of wisdom from antisocial media. Yrs Trly is not one for starting topics. As has been pointed out in earlier blogs, having negative charisma means few replies are forthcoming, let alone full-blown debate, but weighing in to existing ding-dongs, , usually giving offence in the process, seems to elicit some response, even, rarely, lots of likes and even one marriage proposal.

So why not share some other political shit from facebook with my regular reader?

Just to make it more fun, I’ll not give the original posts and you can try to guess what they said…

 

April 19

My main sadness is that Brexit will not be stopped and will be a fiasco. Were it not for Brexit, I’d be saying let’s hope we can weather the next five years, Labour can get its act together without buying the Blairite sellout which disenfranchised working people and started all this shit and the Tories will be seen for what they are by the folks voting to be shafted by them and hopefully there’ll still be a vestigial NHS to save too.

Sadly with being divorced from Europe too and many institutions having buggered off, we’ll have a huge mountain to climb.

What we need is a real grass roots party – not a fake one like UKIP but something like Podemos in Spainland. I wonder if we have the culture in which such a thing could take root though.

One tragedy is — and even Tory fan Laura Kuntsbugger said this on telly today — when you present voters with Labour’s policies, ie Corbyn & Co’s policies as policies, they poll really well. Present the selfsame policies to people prefaced with the words Labour or Jezza, and they poll dreadfully. But I wonder how well Hunt’s writings about wishing to dismantle the NHS would play if you read them to people, without mentioning Tories or May. Well, they’ve seen the squeeze on welfare on social care and they’ve heard the thoughts of Ian Duncan Gradgrind and still the polls show they’d rather have more of that than t’other.

 

20/4

Just for once ‘better the bastards you know’ won’t cut it, because we know this lot want to dismantle the welfare state, screw us up on the word stage and replace the NHS with a for-profit based system, creating a low-wage economy to boost their mates’ coffers. I’d rather have the psychopathy of Hannibal Lecter and Dracula with the competence of Gerald Ford than that.

Problem with Labour is that the Blairite canker is going to ensure it’s a house divided against itself for some time to come and the Corbynite delusion is going to keep trying to paper over that. But at least the intentions of most of them are good.

I find myself wishing that Tim Farron would have a Damascene conversion to humanistic atheism and create a credible party of social democracy. I’m just glad I live in Scotland, though I worry that Nicola making it too Indyref based will alienate a lot of voters who like SNP left(ish) politics but don’t want, for some inane reason, to break away.

Part of me thinks the left wants to lose this time. Corbyn, as a Benn disciple (but no Tony Benn) is probably far more Brexitish than he admits. But it is an old leftist belief that it has to get worse before it gets better and no doubt a tactic to let the capitalist system completely show its terrors and then encourage a landslide, if not a revolution, when the masses are herded into workhouses and too poor for anything but rudimentary health care. Not only that they maybe realise they can’t carry the pink Tories in their party with them and dream that this would help get rid of them (rather than resulting in the resurrection of Tory Bliar and his soft-right cohorts of the undead).
But I’m probably taking shite there.
Labour just cannot grasp the alienation from their voters. I’m no fan of the buzzphrase but they really should have a think about what ‘metropolitan elite’ signifies. Fuckin’ bourgeois lefties, get us working class anarchists a bad name.

 

on democracy in the modern world 24/4

We (or they) have seriously lost sight of something here. We now have one place after another in which elections are spilt almost 50-50, and yet the (flawed) principle of majority (little more than, ‘if it came to a fight, we’d win’) means commentators speak of ‘the will of the people’, and a winner-takes-all, ‘suck-it-up-losers’ mentality stalks the land. And politics is about getting out the max of one’s supporters while trying to discourage or suppress the other side, using old-fashioned propaganda or modern data analysis.

It no longer even looks like politicians have much interest in proposing and explaining an idea, the art of persuasion. This is what Proudhon was talking about, when he argues that democracy could be the enemy of reaching decisions via reason and discussion.

And don’t get me started about ‘the will of the people’ being a vote nine months ago and being ruled by the past; or I’ll be forced to start quoting Thom Paine too!

Nothing to see here. Go away.

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Lots on the old plate this week, two paintings on the go, poems to write for a project I promised my little Chinese friend,

and a book to be getting back to getting on with.

So all you get is a pic of me as the Mad Hatter and a link to me performing, You Are Old Father Peter, from Parodies Lost (still available at £5) at the Scottish Arts Club’s tea party.

 

Harping On

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It’s been a busy week here at Grieve-not Lake, what with logging hundreds of last minute entries to a short story competiton what I administer. It was not helped by the payment site we use crashing over twelve of the final 24 hours, which led to an extended deadline and even more entries.

But I did find time Monday, while the dust was lingering just above ground, if not exactly clearing, to go the Edinburgh Harp Festival out at Colinton, at the Merchiston Castle School for the sons of rich bastards.

A visit to this gig once a year is an enjoyable experience, even though I don’t play. Harpists seem to be very nice folk. The lovely Bethan was inveigled into taking a picture of me pretending I do.

I remember my dear owd Mam often quoting (probably for allegorical purposes) the title of the Gracie Fields song, I Took My Harp to a Party, to which I have related maungily my whole life,

But I took me harp to a party, nobody asked me to play
The others were jolly and ‘earty but I wasn’t feelin’ so gay
I felt so ashamed at not strikin’ a note
That I tried to hide the thing under me coat

and which I have brought up to date for you here…

I took me ‘arp to a party but nobody asked me to play
I’ve always been quite arty-farty, so imagine my utter dismay
That the music were all One Direction and stuff
And they all played guitars and they played ’em reet rough;
I took my harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I took the damn thing away

They asked Morag from Stronsay to sing some Beyoncé
And somebody else sang Adele,
And the whole bloody crowd murdered poor Girls Aloud,
Until I was left feeling unwell.
At the end of the session, Bert’s Tom Jones impression
Collected a fair pile of knickers
Including the pants of me Sisters and Aunts
And more than one pair of the vicar’s

But I took me ‘arp to the party and nobody asked me to play
I’ve always been quite arty-farty, but I found to my utter dismay
That it wasn’t my scene, I were like a sore thumb,
So I sat like Jack Horner and feelin’ reet glum;
I took my harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I chucked the damn thing away

Toodlepip!

Fatal(ist) Distraction Concluded

Oh shit it’s late I’m busy and a little bit drunk so I’ll just copy and paste the rest in here and leave it with you unchecked for now, thanks, good night…

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the ‘this-sidedness’ of his thinking, in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.
[op cit, 2]

And another thing (or two). It was recently shown that our ability to do simple maths, to understand the implications of ‘three million extra voters’ or ‘48% of the electorate’, not to mention the results of a degree rise in global temperature, is severely hampered when to do so risks challenging our cherished beliefs (especially when that is part of a deep investment in something ridiculous). Does knowing this mean we should give up?

Neoliberals assert that folks in free markets always get ‘better’ results than we can in controlled economies (and, hey, those who suffer in the process are just ‘losers’, right?). Do they have a point or are they swayed by a simple acceptance of Gradgrindian views? Can’t it be argued that we can use what we know and theories from both sides to arrive at the ground rules for a system less harsh and even more productive?

You can’t be a rationalist in an irrational world: it isn’t rational!
[Joe Orton: What the Butler Saw]

Your blogger knows people online and in the ‘real’ world who who will decry with good examples and logic the irrationalisms of climate change or vaccination deniers, while asserting that evolution is a nonsense theory because it contradicts the Bibble. Others of his acquaintance will be scathing about any number of ‘fruitcake’ beliefs and superstitions, while being unshakeable in their faith in homeopathy or astrology. Studies that seem to uphold the merest glimmer of what the stars say are leapt upon with triumphant glee while any that show the opposite (as the more rigorous ones always do) are decried with ‘science doesn’t know everything’: the very science they were calling as a witness when it seemed to uphold their view! But where does it say we’re supposed to be a consistent species? To be honest I prefer us this way, except when it threatens the lives and well-being of those I love — and I love everybody, me.

At this time, and aided by the very science that should be seeking answers to it, we have an assault on the very idea of truth (philosophically valid as a question), a desire to abandon it and see conspiracy behind everything we’re taught. An increasing number of people and celebrities now claim to believe the Earth is flat, and that the weird idea that it’s a spheroid is just part of the lies that ‘they’ tell us to keep us under control. Seems a pointless bit of control to me; as Sherlock Holmes said, what difference would it make whether the Sun went round the Earth or vice versa? But this encourages them to see their educators and governors and seats of learning as some thought-controlling enemy — rather than realising that it’s the very people feeding them this crap that stand to gain most from control their lives and draining their pockets.

Surely we need to realise the fundamental fact that in an argument the true winner is not the one who ‘proves’ their point or bludgeons the other party into giving up, but the person who has their opinion corrected. And when the issues involved are things like the economy or climate change or policies that could lead to all-out war, it’s even more crucial. The daft thing there is, whoever’s right  — and there is no point debating if our philosophical arbiter is not prepared to ‘consider it possible that they be mistaken’ — both sides stand to gain from reasoning it out. Because, if the implications of climate science, say, are correct, no amount of redefining ‘truth’ will save the deniers’ kids and grandkids from the consequences of even the not-very-nice-case scenarios. So working it out rationally is in their interests as much as mine — more than mine in fact, as I have no offspring to worry about anyway.

So who is going to use the tools, which have always been available, to stand up to the tide of nonsense, pay the Pascalian compliments and ask the Socratic questions? Who will dig behind the assumptions to find the telos, locate the premises, and identify the common ground? Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say. Even ignoring the old-school sexism and allowing for a woman to cometh too, one is left asking where the bastard has got to. Perhaps we could get Mike Sandell to step up. He seems a nice guy with a razor sharp mind.

And no, just in case you’re wondering, not this writer. Not fast enough on my feet and not rigorous enough anyway — in a recent facebook exchange I was pulled up for saying I thought people taking an ‘anyone but Hillary’ stance were conned idiots and later saying I would never call the electorate idiots. Fair point, sloppy wording — my feeble defence would be that I think we are all capable of being conned into stupid acts, but we are not, at least unconned, inherently stupid. So maybe I need a more careful vocabulary, even more subtle than distinguishing between idiots and acts of idiocy. Not And more to the point, as mentioned in earlier blogs, I also have negative charisma, so no one would listen anyway (even if I spent many hours turning this ramble into a coherent and concise argument, effort I should really be spending on my trivial little novel). So if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just lie on this couch, while the veneer of civilisation crumbles all around me, swearing and throwing shoes at the telly whenever Question Time comes on.

Fatal(ist) Distraction Continued (from 2 weeks ago)

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The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated. Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

[op cit, 2]

Where was I … oh yes …

…changes of outlook and opinion at various times, if not by the force of arguments, then due to some epiphany or other. Famous people have spent weeks ‘seeing how the other 99% live’ for tv shows or the like, and at least modified their stance towards the undeserving poor, say. Surely our increased appreciation of the mechanisms and functions of the brane (stumbling around it in the dark though we still are), and of these very issues like confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, illusion of depth and all that shit, can help us to develop tools to counter them, in others and, crucially, in ourselves?

As a counter to this, it’s worth noting that there are also articles going round about the suggestion of Blaise Pascal (1623-62) that, as people are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others, a better way of arguing with them is to start by buttering them up with praise on any points they may have got right. This gives a platform for making them consider the other bits that are total bollocks. Your correspondent usually throws in a reference to good ol’ Socrates (the philosopher, d.399BCE, rather than the footballer, d.2011CE) and his method of asking questions until the victim sees contradictions inherent in their own position (Yrs Trly does add an admission that said Greek gentleman probably did get twatted a lot, probably the odd Glasgow kiss, let alone hemlocked eventually, as no one likes being proved wrong, especially by a smug beardy smartarse).

One thing that depresses this writer is the prevalence of unchallenged vox-poppery in the media. Even in shows which purport to be debates, there is never a philosophical linesman to yell, Fault! False attribution, or wave a yellow card for ad hominem. Instead the two (or more) sides are left free to trade woolly logic, emotive arguments and general snide insults, while rabidly reactionary audience members chip in with their own ill-considered or underinformed opinions. Rhetorical blows are traded but no attempt is made to convert or persuade, only to do down.

And, when the man or woman asked to comment in the street can only parrot unquestioned general ignorance (or, more likely, are chosen by the editor because they do so), like the couple during the EU campaigns who actually claimed that all immigrants and refugees are handed a huge wodge of cash, a council house and a car the minute they arrive, while his cousin had been on the council list for years, or repeat misinformation (from either side — the right have no monopoly here), the need for balance is surely no justification for letting this bullshit go unchallenged and uncommented?

Perhaps we need a program or newspaper column in which a latter-day CEM Joad (look him up) can say, It all depends what you mean by … and subject all these ideas and facts (false or otherwise) to a strong critique.

But who would be prepared to go on such a show?  Can you imagine K-A Conway or any of those blustering ranty types accepting an invite, if the conditions were that they were to submit to reasoned discussion, especially if the ‘referees’ could turn their mics off or administer a Chinese burn for every infringement against the debaters’ code? More to the point, who but your tedious correspondent would watch the show?

I have oft opined that the notorious ‘Brexit Bus’, claiming that the UK sent £350m a week to the EU and hinting that it could be spent on the NHS instead, should have been followed round by another bus saying that we get £240m of that back in rebates, loads more in subsidies to struggling areas, and that the value in terms of business and other economic terms makes it well worth the fee, and, by the way, many of those sponsoring this bus and the purple one have expressed a desire to see the NHS dismantled and privatised. In an adversarial system the onus is on the opposition to counter the bullshit, after all. But not only would that have meant an unfeasibly long bus (or unreadably tiny text), but all the anti-EU media (owned by those billionaires and their friends) would have cut it out of their coverage anyway.

Brochure for the novel

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xxx
Welcome to the Peigne’s Arms Tavern and Coaching Inn.

A hostelry has stood on this site since Medieval times, taking its name and ‘weasels rampant’ shield from the local landowners, as mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

xxx
In the late 18th Century, a series of fires destroyed the original buildings and a few others nearby. This presented the owners with an opportunity to rebuild and extend the property as a ‘post house’, servicing the mail coaches from London. Not being on an actual route to anywhere else however, it went through a number of overoptimistic owners, before falling into a state of neglect in the early 20th Century, after which it struggled on as a ‘charming’ local watering hole, well-placed to slake the thirst of worshippers leaving the picturesque Norman church of St Rantipole.

The decline of religious worship in British life paralleled the decline of the ‘Arms’, until it was acquired by the Shreckley Blabe hotel and health spa chain, who embarked on a major restoration, with the aid of an EU grant, which many believed was meant for a country with a similar name. The duck pond was dredged and cleared of its rustic detritus of supermarket trolleys and white goods, making it once again an ideal spot for humans and waterfowl alike. Today the pond, village green and church present an idyllic prospect for diners drawn to the al fresco facilities on our forecourt.

The old coaching accommodation was extended and tastefully modernised in Sixties style. Three large rooms, the Alhambra Ballroom, Peigne’s Vault, and the Weasel Lounge, were adapted as ideal venues for conferences, receptions and entertainments. Today the Peigne’s Arms is the area’s premier venue for hens & stags, weddings, christenings and even divorce celebrations ☺.

Our 39 bedrooms, many with four-poster beds, all with en suite, tv, wi-fi, minibar and tea-making facilities, are ideal for your guests and relations, or for that intimate, relaxing weekend break. Whatever your desires (well, almost!), our fully equipped health spa, cordon bleu restaurant and well-stocked bars will make your stay at the Peigne’s an unforgettable experience!


(From Knights in the Gardens of Spayne, Part III

That thing I was scribbling last week will be concluded next week)

Fatal(ist) Distraction (I)

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The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
[Karl Marx: Theses On Feuerbach, 11]

Scientists, like philosophers attempt to interpret the world (but with the emphasis on the ‘how?’ rather than the ‘why?’). But though the whole discipline stems from a desire to alter and control that world, some branches, particularly those concerned with our branes, now seem more concerned with giving us reasons to give up trying.

The old cliché about wanting the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference is all well and good. Even though major advances are often made by folks who refused to accept that ‘wisdom’, it is also worth bearing in mind the classic verse:

They said it couldn’t be done.
He smiled and said he knew it.
But he tried that thing that ‘couldn’t be done’ …
… and he couldn’t do it.

Siggy Freud and the other fathers of psychology hoped that by discovering and understanding the roots of a neurosis or even a psychosis somewhere in the patient’s youth or childhood, its current manifestations could be alleviated or even ‘cured’. This may now look overoptimistic, but it’s unlikely they’d be impressed with an industry in which the discovery of a traumatic juvenile encounter with a flock of skittish Herdwicks at the root of an adult terror of men in chunky-knit jumpers justifies suing one’s parents for negligence and a compensation claim against the Wool Marketing Board, not to mention insisting on trigger warnings for films like Babe.

And now neuroscience is getting in on the act. At a time when the nature of truth and belief is being questioned from all sides, and manipulated by the EVL-right, there seems to be a constant drip of articles like this one from the New Yorker (Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds). We are informed that people’s politics and opinions are all but set in genetic stone, if not at birth, then very soon after. Concepts like ‘confirmation bias’ are bandied about and exaggerated stories of how ‘big data’ is being used to target voters by their prejudices (even helping to dissuade the irredeemably humane — sorry, ‘snowflakes’ — from voting). In fact it’s tempting to think that the very prevalence of this fatalistic message is itself being encouraged by the alt-meanies to dispirit liberal-leaning folk.

Ever since the 1980s, the art of politics has shifted away from any attempt to sell a vision, right, left or otherwise, to the general populace. Instead the agenda now is driven by focus groups and an attempt to give the people what — no, to make the people think you’re giving them what they want. Yes, it’s true that all the effective methods of campaigning, particularly in so-called ‘representative’ democracies (see Democratic Blisters in this blog series) will concentrate on floating voters and marginal constituencies (like ‘swing states’), so there has always been a pragmatic concentration on lines of least resistance, but now it seems to be simply about identifying and mobilising your army and attacking the other’s.

In a recent discussion on antisocial media, your friendly blogger commented to a Canadian fan of Objectionalism that Ayn Rand was a nasty, fucked up piece of work with an even nastier Weltanschauung. His response was that this is a nasty world, so I should ‘suck it up’ and get with the only sensible programme (despite the fact that Rand herself couldn’t even live by her ‘principles’).

The tragedy of all this is that one ends up with a totally defeatist world view, societies doomed to repeat and endless Viconian cycle of exploitation (as propounded by S Bannon Esq in his fillums), revolution, chaos and repression, punctuated, if we’re lucky, by brief spells of some form of peaceful social democracy, prosperous for some and with a safety net for the rest (any state, even the USA, with some form of welfare  provision fits somewhere on this wide spectrum). After all, no attempts to establish a thousand year Reich or a socialist workers’ paradise have yet come to much, certainly not to Orwell’s eternal boot in the face nor Karl’s withering away of the state. Whereas in the continuation of reasoned debate there is at least some hope that a longer term solution can be arrived at. No Utopias, but at least meaningful reform, a chance to stop the treadmill now we know how it runs.

No doubt there will always be the charismatic psychopaths, getting off on power for its own sake, and those who will follow them blindly but other studies show that such people are effective mainly in fucking things up, so society should really be taking steps to learn to overcome the ovine tendency to follow and finding ways to neutralise such people — while making use, if possible, of the positive sides of such determination and self-belief. We should surely not be encouraging a mindset which leads to Trumpo stating, quite rightly, that he could shoot someone in broad daylight in Times Square in front of news cameras, and not lose a single vote, whereas that statement alone ought to be enough to lose him all of them.

Despite all the negativity, we’ve all experienced people, even ourselves, undergoing radical

 

Bloody hell it’s late! I’ll finish this next week.