Archive for the ‘Pondering’ Category

Woody Harrelson on feeling like an alien and other wise ponderings . . .

It’s apparently from a 2003 film named Go Further that curiously slipped my I must watch all films that have a green message radar.  Anyway, I came across it on Facebook via Occupy Love and was so awestruck I thought I’d share it.  Appropriate for Earth Day methinks.

I sometimes feel like an alien creature
for which there is no earthly explanation
Sure I have human form
walking erect and opposing digits,
but my mind is upside down.
I feel like a run-on sentence
in a punctuation crazy world.
And I see the world around me
like a mad collective dream.
An endless stream of people
move like ants from the freeway
cell phones, pc’s, and digital displays
“In Money We Trust,”
we’ll find happiness
the prevailing attitude;
like a genetically modified irradiated Big Mac
is somehow symbolic of food.
Morality is legislated
prisons over-populated
religion is incorporated
the profit-motive has permeated all activity
we pay our government to let us park on the street
And war is the biggest money-maker of all
we all know missile envy only comes from being small.
Politicians and prostitutes
are comfortable together
I wonder if they talk about the strange change in the weather.
This government was founded by, of, and for the people
but everybody feels it
like a giant open sore
they don’t represent us anymore
And blaming the President for the country’s woes
is like yelling at a puppet
for the way it sings
Who’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings?
A billion people sitting watching their TV
in the room that they call living
but as for me
I see living as loving
and since there is no loving room
I sit on the grass under a tree
dreaming of the way things used to be
Pre-Industrial Revolution
which of course is before the rivers and oceans,
and skies were polluted
before Parkinson’s, and mad cows
and all the convoluted cacophony of bad ideas
like skyscrapers, and tree paper, and earth rapers
like Monsanto and Dupont had their way
as they continue to today.
This was Pre-us
back when the buffalo roamed
and the Indian’s home
was the forest, and God was nature
and heaven was here and now
Can you imagine clean water, food, and air
living in community with animals and people who care?
Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down
are you going to make the rich man richer
or are you going to stand your ground
You say you want a revolution
a communal evolution
to be a part of the solution
maybe I’ll be seeing you around.

Woody Harrelson

Three years ago today: Sophie Lancaster RIP

Some thoughts to leave you with – in the wise words of the lovely Dalai Lama . . .

Despite the tremendous progress in material conditions the world over, suffering remains. The afflictions such as greed, anger, hatred and envy that underpinned much of our misery thousands of years ago continue to do so even today. Unless there is a radical change in human nature within a rapid period of time, these a…fflictions will plague us for many centuries to come.

The most important benefit of patience consists in the way it acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger – the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness. The mind, or spirit, is not physical, it cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it.

A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir – a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This mind can also be likened to a seed; when cultivated, it gives rise to many other qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength, and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity.


Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama’s Current Facebook Status . . .

Just as we should cultivate more gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

Who can argue with that?

A Budget Response by the People’s Bloated Popular Front of Jaded Public Sector Workers Party

First of all, can I just say that I was highly, HIGHLY jubilated by Harriet Harman’s thirty minute rant at the coalition.  She tore into Osborne and roared with venom at the Lib Dems.  Call her a hypocrite but they deserved it.  Absolutely they did.

In all honesty, I’m not sure what to think about this hyped-up  “unavoidable” “Bloodbath Budget” that we’ve all been dreading.  Some are saying that it wasn’t as bad as we were led to believe.  Well I reckon all those ominous warnings were just a pyschological spin excercise anyway – you know, make us think it’s going to be really, really terrible, then when it’s out, and it is terrible, it won’t seem quite so terrible because we all thought it was going to be much, much more terrible.

Anyhoo, terrible it was ever thus and here are some thoughts from the PBPFJPSW party.

I couldn’t help noticing that the BBC appeared to be, on the day,  seeking reactions mainly from the small business community who were smiling smugly.  I’m happy for them.  Small businesses are important and I’d rather support the small independents than the huge monopolisers.  Big business types (the aforementioned monopolisers and such-like) will be sitting safe with their tax havens secure and well able to absorb any teeny, tiny inconsequential taxey things that they might have to endure.  I’m happy for them too because I’m told it’s the fat cats who create the wealth which they then redistribute amongst the . . .  erm . . . oh, themselves.   And there will be high fives and huge sighs from the bankers because they’ve been let off very lightly indeed, bank levy or not.  I’m not happy for them.

The Mail is claiming that Middle England has been clobbered the most but just who is this Middle England?  Well apparently, it’s folk who spend larger amounts of money than poorer folk on non-essential items such as white goods and conservatories and the like, thus being more affected by the rise in VAT.  According to the loony logic of the Mail, the VAT rise isn’t as unfair on poorer folk because poorer folk only spend their money on food, children’s clothing and other essentials that aren’t taxed anyway.  Oh?  Well tell me then – when you have a low income with a large family and your freezer packs in, what do you do?  And when your teenage daughter refuses to share a bed with her younger brother and sister any longer and demands her own bed, what do you do?  Lower paid workers need stuff  sometimes too.  Teenage kids from poorer families need clothes too and when it comes to clothing retailers, as parents will know too well, kids stop being kids at the age of 12 to 13 thus the ending of VAT free clothing for kids.

Well anyway, I’m sure people earning over £40,000 will cope without their tax credits at least so Middle England isn’t such a victim.  Oh, but if you’re a Middle Englander who is also a public sector worker and you lose your job, then you will be affected, badly.  It’ll be the public sector job losses (more on that later involving yours truly) that will really start to rock the boat, not least the actual services that they provide.  The job losses will have multi-level knock-on effects and the coalition seems to be the only group of people that are unable to forsee the unintended consequences, one of which being that vital services will be harmed, something which will impact all of us as users, as will the rise in benefit claims.

And while we’re talking about the bloated public sector and the bashing thereof, let’s just think about those pensions that the private sector and business community are getting their knickers all in a twist about.  Those gold-plated pensions that are making our teachers and nurses and youth workers fabulously wealthy actually aren’t all that super-fantastic, trust me, not among the front-line workers anyway.  Personally speaking, and not without some indignance I might add, like most other workers, an almighty chunk of my wage is removed every month and paid towards NI, income tax and pension so, all-in-all, those bloated public sector workers who are just rolling in money, are making a healthy contribution to the public purse and – to – their – own – pensions – thank – you – very – much.

For sure, I accept that, when times are tough, some things have to go, but it would be nice if the bloated right-wing media and the bloated coalition cabinet of bloated multi-millionaires would stop blaming the not-really bloated public sector for the collosal crisis that the bloated bankers are overwhelmingly responsible for.  Just because there are bloated fat cats in the private sector who are too stingy to contribute to their workers pensions, it doesn’t mean public sector pensions are an evil and almighty sin.  They’re not.  They’re just part of a pay deal to entice and incentivise good workers.  The contribution that the government makes towards public sector pensions is not a free handout.  It is a part of their wage which is deferred until retirement so let’s have less of this public sector bashing and myth-spreading by the jealous private sector bosses because they too will eventually feel the impact of the cuts.  Here endeth that particular rant.

Freezing Child benefit for two years is another attack on lower paid people and what with the VAT increase, a freeze on child benefit will be very hard felt by the lower paid and the token tax relief thingy they’ve sprinkled on will go pretty much unnoticed.

Cutting disability living allowance.  Harsh one, that.  We can all become complacent about our health and take it for granted that serious illness will never strike us but if and when it does, it’s so easy to spiral downwards and closer to poverty.  Sure there are those that blag their sickness but there are genuine cases – people who suffer from chronic or long-term illnesses – and to make them undergo repeated medical assessments is a Very Bad Policy Indeed.  It’s traumatic, undignified and downright bloody cruel.  It could make their condition worse and compromise their quality of life which may already be poor and deteriorating.

The Green issue got barely a mention.  It was probably the least green budget we’ve had for years and I think we can safely assume that a low carbon economy is a dream, for the duration of this parliament anyway.

To sum up, so much for sharing the pain.  This was a typical Tory budget that Thatcher would be envious of and the Lib Dems can hang their heads in shame.

Oh, one last thing . . . can those people who are screaming at the government to end the international aid please . . . . shut up!

Happy 101 Sweet Friends – a meme moment

The delightfully gruff PaddyK has tagged me and right proper chuffed is how I’m feeling about it.  I mean Paddy is one of my very top favourite writers and his dry wit and pragmatic wisdom has me laughing out loud and spluttering into my coffee many-a-time.  So to be tagged by such a force can only be interpreted as a compliment and I thank the good and lovely man for that.  My only problem is that I have to tag ten blogging friends too but I don’t actually have ten friends who blog regularly so five will have to do.

What you do:  List 10 things that make your day and then give this award to ten (five) bloggers.  So here goes:

Ten things that make my day (or made my day once):

1. Hearing an old favourite song played on the radio when I’m alone in the car and it’s played early on enough in my journey so that I get to hear it in its entirety before I get to where I’m going and I don’t have to sit in my car pretending to chat on the phone or look for something till it finishes.

2.  An act of kindness.  As touchy-feely as it sounds, I mean it.  For me it’s the little things in life that uplift, inspire and quite simply make the world seem better.

3.  Hearing me laddie play a piece of guitar music perfectly after weeks of struggling with it.

4.  Watching me laddie score a try at rugby.  His position is hooker and he’s great at that but he rarely scores a try so when he does, my mad  inner-madwoman is usually released and I can be seen jumping,  yelling and whooping on the sidelines like a, erm, mad madwoman.

5.   Morning cup of coffee brought to me while I snooze in bed.  I get this treatment every Saturday and it’s often the best part of my day.  Usually goes pear-shaped from then on due to boring stuff such as laundry, cleaning, mopping, shopping and squabbling kids then picks up again in the evening, which brings me nicely to my number 6.

6.  A glass of white wine, a bowl of green olives and my feet up while hubby cooks dinner.  Another regular Saturday treat.

7.  Seeing three deer jump out of the woods and run across our path right in front of us.  This happened last weekend when we were hiking on Great Gable in the Lake District.  It was one of those heart-stopping moments and it definitely made my day.

8.  My middle daughter getting in from school and telling me all about her day – word for word.  Never a dull moment for this girlie.  Her life is full of sunshine because that’s just the way she is and I love listening to her.  Sometimes I’m busy and I only half listen but that’s my loss.

9.  Coming home from work to a clean and tidy house.  This is a rarity.  Every now and then one of my girls has a rare attack of domesticity and gets stuck into the dishes and the dirt.  Only the women will understand just how wonderful it feels to come back to a tidy home.

10.  Getting a Green MP in Westminster at long last.

There you go.  And the five friends that I am tagging are my other favourite bloggers.  Feel free not to take part:

The romantic Mysoul whose makes me think and writes beautiful poetry and prose.  Her blog is a haven.

The wise and witty Zhisou who is very clever with words.  He makes everything simple.

The lovely Helen who has a warm compassion for humanity.  She’s also a published poet.

The sweet and loyal Jose who has encouraged and supported my blog since I began writing here.

The unassuming and tolerant JimJay from The Daily (Maybe) whose blog has been a great source for Green party information and interesting links.  As a dedicated Green party member I suspect he will be too busy to take part in this.  Fair enough.

Of Universes and Cute Professors

I’ve really been enjoying the BBC2 programme Wonders of the Solar System.  It’s presented by the rather cute Professor Brian Cox and although I don’t understand a word of the physics, he makes it very sexy and interesting.  He explores how the laws of physics carved natural wonders across our solar system.  The Beeb describes the series as spellbinding and it really is.

Seriously, the universe, black holes, dark matter and all that stuff, it thoroughly fascinates me.  I don’t get the physics behind it all but I am utterly fascinated just the same.

My friend’s son is doing a PhD in Solar Physics and I once asked him just how much one can one know about the sun.  I mean what is there in that great big lump of burning gas that one could study to PhD levels.  The look in his eyes told me that I’d asked a dumb question and no wonder I failed my O level.

I did Physics O level at school and I was rubbish.  Truly rubbish. I wanted to drop it and I made an official request to the year Head seeking permission to do just that.  She saw my request and made me take an IQ test before making her decision. Then she told me that my IQ score told her that I was capable of doing A level Physics and so no, I couldn’t drop it.  I told my Physics teacher what she said and he said well she doesn’t teach you Physics does she.  See, even he agreed that I was rubbish.  He was a great teacher, one of my favourites but I was never able to please him in the old Physics lab.

I sat the O level and just as we both expected,  I was humiliated.  I got a derisible U. In case you don’t know, U stands for Ungraded.  It doesn’t get lower than that.  Science just wasn’t my bag.  I was the same in Chemistry.  All those bloody equations.  That said,  I do remember most of the periodic table which sometimes comes in useful at work.  I was quite good at Biology too which is just as well given my chosen career path.  But anyway, I was made to sit through a traumatisingly cruel Physics exam and the only thing I learned was that IQ scores are no measure of academic ability.

As for that universe out there, I remain completely and mind-bogglingly fascinated . . . and in utter awe and on that note, I’m off to put my feet up and get ready for tonight’s episode.

We want it!

Imagine Peace

War is over (if you want it)

On Peace Day

Today is the 9th International Day of Peace but seeing as it’s now almost tomorrow and I haven’t heard news of any major breakthrough’s coming from the Department for Peace I guess it’s not worth holding out for any lasting ceasefires or global harmonic pledges.  Hell, the girls at work couldn’t even hold off the bitching for a day – not even for a couple of hours. What’s more, I’ve been trying to get onto the IDofP website since six o clock this evening but all it wants to do is pick a fight with me so I haven’t been able to see what the peace activists have been up to in honour of this day or whether I missed any one-minute truces.  I would post a link to their site but seeing as I can’t get on it, I won’t.   I could keep trying . . . if I was dedicated and all but it’s late so sod that for a game of soldiers.  Oh, wrong choice of phrase to use on a world peace day.

Well I tried their website again and it worked.  One hour before the day ends, it works.

peace

Now I’m feeling bad.  They’re trying to build peace bridges between cultures, between people, between each other, and it’s not right to knock their efforts.   Ok, we can be cynical and say what’s the point or that we should strive for peace every day, but if the world had peace just one day a year, think what that would mean for humanity.  One day a year isn’t enough but it’s a start.

Like many other cynics, I’m of the belief that it’s pointless to go around feeling good and hugging each other for one day to give our consciences a 24 hour reprieve.  Holding one peace day a year won’t change the world and it sure as hell won’t bring about the much-needed mass ethical-cleansing of our leaders.  But I do respect and support the good intent of the Peace Day movements.  We desperately need to replace the global culture of killing with a sustainable culture of peace.  Who can argue with that?

On an individual basis, there’s nothing stopping us from seeking peace within ourselves and with those around us every day. It’s important to teach peace and lead by example for our children.  We should give our children a world in which they know only peace – a world where there is no alternative.

And you know, the Earth and the environment are closely linked to world peace.  If we cherished nature, we wouldn’t use weapons of mass destruction that devastate the Earth and kill innocent people.  If we cared about the environment, we wouldn’t use chemical weapons that poison the atmosphere and burn little children.  If we loved our Earth, we wouldn’t use heavy artillery that trashes the land, pollutes the air and the sea and causes massive human collateral.  Basically, if we respected our planet, there would be world peace.

The force and the strength for peace will come from people. And that will happen when people start to realize that all the diversity and differences we see of nationalities, of religions, of cultures, of languages, are all beautiful diversities, for they are only on the surface. And deep down we share the same humanity, the global humanity. Satish Kumar

A few newsy observations I feel compelled to jot down:

Firstly, according to my sources, the adorable librarian-sexy Sarah Palin has announced that she is resigning as governor of the State of Alaska and she (surprise, surprise) is refusing to answer questions.  It’s being speculated that she intends to focus on the 2012 presidential elections.  Lord luv a duck!  President Palin!  That would be a gross violation of global justice wouldn’t it.

Well anyway, I have to say that the hasty nature of her resignation, along with her refusal to take questions, gives room for some wildly speculative speculations.  Indeed I’m not the first to speculate but methinks peut-être, that she has done some major misdeeding of scandalous proportions and it’s all going to come out in the final spin cycle. Ooh, I hope so.  Maybe she’s been spotted going deep into the woods and dancing naked with a pack of wolves under a full red moon.  I feel a howl coming on.

Whatever, more crucially, I have to wonder . . . is the moose population safer now that she’s no longer in office or does her new status of joblessness mean that she has more blood time on her hands to hang out of helicopters and shoot at the unarmed and defenseless Alaskan wildlife?

Nextly, did you read about the woman who was accused of lying about her official place of residence in order to get her child in a good school?  Has anyone else compared this to the in-house, wink wink, second home flipping system that the MP’s have been gratuitously taking advantage of?  If it’s ok that Mrs Patel can potentially be prosecuted as she very nearly was, then why aren’t the flipping MP’s being awarded the same equalities of justice?

Oh, I can hear the cries!  If one insists on comparing the two, if we are to be indignant about the MP’s then we can be equally indignant about poor Mrs P but the huge difference is that Mrs Patel didn’t rob the tax-payers.  Rightly or wrongly, she simply partook of a teeny little game of deception for the sake of her kids education whereas the MP’s were grossly and humongously dishonest in order to gain more money at the expense of the tax-payer.

Did I just argue with myself there?

Anyway, the lesson to be learned from this is that no-one should have to lie or cheat or move house . . . or indeed feign a Damascus Road conversion in order to get their kids decent quality education.  All schools ideally should pass the decent, good-enough-for-my-kids standard.  I mean was that Parental Choice pledge just a load of crappery?  Postcode lottery folks?

And finally . . .

Lordy, I forgot the other thing.  It was something to do with Jarvis Cocker being absolutely rubbish on Question Time last night but I forgot what I was going to say about it.

Let me sleep on it.

In a Week of Political Aggravations

How’s it going folks?  Are we enjoying all the political shenanigans or are we totally exhausted by it all?  I must admit, I’m feeling a wee bit weary of the whole sordid business.  And aggravated.  But there’s little to be gained from blanket-bashing our MP’s just for the sake of it.  So I’m not going to.  Oh hell, of course I am.

The Commons speaker thing first, how did that happen? I mean, am I the only one who’s hmphing  like mad.  I can’t get my eyebrows down from off the top of my head at the bloody cheek of it all.  A cowardly lynch mob with their torches and pitchforks, baying for the blood of a convenient scape-goat?  Who the hell are they to feign moral indignation and demand his resignation while they stand in front of the reporters and say they’ve done nothing wrong – that everything they claimed for was above board so why should they quit their jobs.

Lordy, first they blame the evil system for forcing them at gun-point (read this, it’s bloody hilarious) to claim for blatant extravangances, then they blame that poor old Speaker chappie.  Well at the risk of exposing my total ignorance of the Parliamentary machine, I have to ask – just what evil deed did he do that was so bad it was actually good enough to redeem them of their collective indecencies?  Well whatever it was, it didn’t work.  We haven’t gone away and shut up about it.  We know who you are.  Sigh.  Apparently, it was his mishandling of the expenses affair (I do learn some things) that made them point the finger.  Ah, a mishandling of the mishandlings.   Well whether he mishandled their mishandlings or not, it seems to me that the bulk of the mishandling was done by the MP’s who grossly mishandled the spirit of the expenses rules.  T’is all a misunderhandling if you ask me.

We all know a coward when we see one.

And what about that Jacqui Smith!  She’s a nerve hasn’t she.  After years of indecently refusing to grant the Gurkhas settlement rights in Britain, she finally succumbs to people pressure by granting them what is deservedly theirs by merit, and she has the audacity (I’m grrring now) to say that she was proud to offer this country’s welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas.  Yes folks, she’s actually trying to make herself look good. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m really happy about the U-turn but it was a hard-fought campaign that utterly shamed and embarrassed the government, yet Jacqui Hard-Face tries to make out that it was a gift from her very self.  I shake my head in bewilderment folks.  I really do.

We all know a diversionary tactic when we see one.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any crazier, I discover that people are going ballistic about Nick Griffin’s Summer date with the Queen.  Folks, it probably won’t happen.  He is a convicted criminal.  The BNP is going to be there anyway whether we like it or not because Richard Barnbrook who is a member of the BNP and a democratically elected member of the London assembly, has been invited. And bless him , the love has decided to have a bit of fun with us by saying he’s going to take Griffin as his guest.  I reckon he’s just teasing us.  Anyway, meeting the Queen is no measure of respectability in my view.  She’s met many a toss-pot in her life-time so meeting one more is hardly going to shake the world, even if he is a Nazi.  She’s married to a Nazi-appeaser anyway isn’t she?  Maybe he’ll talk her into awarding him knighthood huh?  Now that would be a story!

We all know a toss-pot when we see one.

Anyhoo, ta ta for now folks.  I’m off to grrr at my kids now because they won’t leave me alone.  Kids huh.  Why do they need to be fed and watered?

Remembering Keiko

There’s an article up on Treehugger that asks whether putting captive whales back into the wild is actually detrimental to their welfare.

Keiko was a killer whale who was captured in 1979 in Iceland as a young calf and was sold on to the aquarium industry.  Basically, he spent most of his life ill-treated, in amusement parks and eventually became the star of the 1993 movie, Free Willy.

I love movies and Free Willy has got to be one of my favourites.  Now as films go, I know it’s not a masterpiece or a classic or anything but that shouldn’t matter?  I love the film and I believe that the wider message it gives is an important one.  Basically, a young boy takes on the impossible task of helping a killer whale escape from the greedy and exploitative clutches of an aquarium owner who plans to kill the whale to claim the insurance money.  You should see me cry at the end when the magnificent creature takes a humongous leap over the rocks, out of captivity and into freedom.  Sigh.  Of course I know he doesn’t really jump over the rocks but are you going to deny me my moment?

I see the conflicting dilemma. Buying/watching the movie could be seen as condoning the capture and exploitation of animals for the sake of entertainment and be in no doubt that it pricks at my conscience.  But it could also be argued that these kind of films tend to bring about a wider public awareness than other sources manage to achieve (well lets face it, movies reach more people than documentaries do). For example (and I’m not necessarily agreeing either way – I’ll argue with myself about that later), people were so inspired when they watched Willy make that magnificent leap to freedom, that a campaign was started to release the actual whale, Keiko into the wild.

Sadly, Keiko’s real story isn’t as happy as his fictional one.  Efforts to relocate him into his natural habitat were unsuccessful and to echo New Scientist and sum up a sad story, he was never really free.  In the wild, he sought human interaction and was unable to fend for himself.  He became inactive and he lost his appetite.  He beached himself on the 12th of December 2003 and died.  He was estimated to be 26 years old (the average lifespan of wild male Orca is 35 so I read but they’ve been known to live up to 50 – 60 years).

Keiko’s story makes me cry.  It’s very sad and hopeless and it typifies our meddlsome attitudes towards our natural environment.

Having been captive all his life, Keiko’s socialising and foraging skills would have been pretty limited.  It’s hardly rocket science.  If you’ve spent all of your life living in an unatural habitat, with sterile conditions . . . if you’ve had your food supplied and have been kept totally isolated from your own species . . . if you’ve had no chance to build up the immunities you need in the greater ocean, then to suddenly be thrust into another world, chances are, you aren’t going to adapt.

The Free Willy-Keiko Foundation believed they could relocate him successfully but other experts, including his trainer, believed that after so long in captivity, he lacked the basic survival skills.  He simply wasn’t fit enough and strong enough. The Foundation is still campaigning to free whales in captivity and I do believe their intentions are noble but from all accounts, the risks are great and given the history of failure, they are risks that might not be worth taking, at least not for creatures that have been in long-term captivity.

The simple message of course is, don’t capture them in the first place.  Leave them alone.  They can do quite well without our interference. They are needed elsewhere and they’re doing a mighty fine job of keeping our eco-systems balanced.  We should let them. That doesn’t solve the issue of the existing creatures in captivity but to quote the New Scientist article . . .

We believe the best option for [Willy] was the open pen he had in Norway, with care from his trainers,” says Malene Simon of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, who participated in efforts to reintegrate the cetacean in the wild and is lead author of the study. “He could swim as much as he wanted to, had plenty of frozen herring – which he was very fond of – and the people that he was attached to kept him active.

Sounds sensible and workable to me.

Going back to what I said earlier regarding my own self-conflicts about the movie , exploiting animals for human entertainment will always be wrong.  Always.  Always.  Always.  And I have asked myself, should I not have boycotted this movie?  Does buying this movie mean that I actually support the captivity of animals?  Am I not part of the system that increases the profits of the film makers, not to mention the owners of the whale, thus incentivising more animal entrapment?

The hypocritical irony hasn’t gone unnoticed either. The entire theme of the film is the ethics of animal entrapment and the story pertains to give us an important message that treating Willy as a commodity is unethical.  Yet the filmmakers themselves and the owners of the whale (I hate using that word – no-one has the right to own a whale) are themselves using Keiko as a commodity by the very making of the film

Thing is, the film did/does expose a deep and grim environmental issue. Frustratingly, films like Free Willy often raise public awareness much more than other sources can and the paradox is that without the animal to star in the film and pull at our heart-strings, the story/the message can’t be told in such a way that it will reach ordinary people on huge levels.

I think it can.

Maybe some day a movie producer will make a movie about Keiko – about his real life.  His real story will stir our consciences and raise awareness more than the Free Willy story.  But it should be animated.  Animation technology is of very high quality now so it’s just not necessary to use captive animals.

Anyone listening?  I doubt it.

Comments and sneezes spread diseases

Just lately I’ve become preoccupied with comments.  Sometimes, reading the comments of an article is more interesting than the article itself.  Some of the comments are so good that I want to grab the person who wrote it and kiss them hard on the lips, although I do realise that this could prove to be a hasty reaction.  And some of the comments are so bad that I want to grab the person who wrote it and  . . . wail and gnash my teeth.

The Mail’s comments system is the best one because it has ratings arrows that you can click up or down. If someone likes the comment, they can click the up arrow to give it a positive rating.  If someone else comes along and doesn’t like the comment, they can click the negative arrow and take away the positive rating.  And vice versa. I have to say, having the power to take away a positive rating from a disagreeable comment is really quite liberating and I usually find myself using this power on articles written for the Mail by the compassionately-challenged Mad Mel.  She has a bit of a following you see -  a sad bunch of like-minded numpties who praise and adore every bigoted word she writes so I don’t mind telling you that it’s strangely satisfying to spend an idle ten minutes or so de-rating all their ignorant and usually racist comments.

You have to be careful though because if you rush to tick, you might tick the wrong arrow and give them kudos instead of condemnation.  I did this to a comment stating that dead Palestinian children were worth the price.  I was mortified!  No matter how many times I tried, I could not unclick my positive click.

Anyway, I just read an article written by Caroline Lucas in today’s Guardian regarding swine-flu.  I agreed with much of it and some good points were raised but a comment posted by a reader amused me no end.  It’s written by someone who goes by the name of nega9000 . . .

5 Reasons to be cheerful about swine flu:

1. Vegetarians and vegans will get it too
2. The jobless figures will tumble
3. No possible way Gordon Brown can produce another one of those hideous videos of himself ‘smiling’ on Youtube
4. Staying at home and watching Jeremy Kyle will become a national duty
5. Jeremy Kyle may die

And I’m a vegetarian!  With nothing better to do than read reader comments.

Anyhoo, I’m off to watch a DVD.  And tonight’s choice, by sheer coincidence, is Babe.  Nah!  Is it heck.  It’s  The Story of the Weeping Camel and it took me ages to get hold of a copy so I’m expecting wondrous things.

But before I go, listen folks – you can joke all you like about this swine-flu but just remember that coughs and sneezes spread . . . much wealth among the pharmaceutical industry.  ;-)

Ta ta for now.

It’s MY iPod!

I suppose, what with me being  a serious blogger and all, I should mention something about last weeks budget but in all honesty, I just can’t get worked up about it.  I’m in such relaxed mood that even the really serious issues such as oink-flu and the Susan Boyle phenomenon are failing to reach my mellowed mind.  T’as been another busy weekend of rugby (the last one – season has finished) and I’ve took the day off and so far I’ve been spending my time putting new tracks onto my iPod.

My son has been tampering you see, with my iPod.  He’s been adding lots of tracks to my iPod.  He is currently big into The Killers, Guns N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix.  And ever since he learned how to use my iPod and has sussed how to sign into my iTunes account, he has been logging on, blissfully oblivious of any wrongdoing, and buying music with my money.  And so now, my iPod is full of music by the aforementioned rock bands and all my music has gone!

I think The Killers are great so they get to stay.  And I have a healthy level of respect for Hendrix and I guess GnR’s to a lesser degree, but I can only tolerate their sounds for so long before my head begins to feel like it’s been taken over by a bunch of . . . erm, noisy rock bands.

So, after an hour of hard labour, my iPod is now inhabited by my music choices and the next time me laddie switches on my iPod, he will find it filled with an eclectic music mix which includes the likes of . . . ooh I think I’ll do a list – with track titles and everything. It could be one of those meme things – An On My iPod meme.  That should be fun.  Better than writing about boring budgets and credit crunches and stuff.

So, here it is . . .

Blondie: Denis – happy times.

Talking Heads: Burning Down the House – fuuunkay.

The Velvet Underground: What Goes On – truly, truly great!  Play it loud and kick back.

The Killers: All These Things That I’ve Done – me and me laddie love doing the pogo to this one.

The Decemberists: Sons and Daughters – I really, really want to see this band live.

Thelma Houston: Don’t Leave Me This Way – you should see me freak out to this one.  My kids stare at me like I’m bonkers.

Donna Summer: I Feel Love – another one to freak out to.  And I do!

Eels: Trouble with Dreams – like it. I Like Birds - like it a lot. Novocaine for the Soul – love it.

Placebo: Pure Morning – an older one but I still love it.

The Rolling StonesSympathy for the Devil – Superb.

WhamWham Rap – I know!!! I’m cringing too.  It’s the only Wham song I’ve ever liked and let me tell you, I don’t just like it – I love it!  Unashamedly. Well come on guys, with poetic lyrics like this who wouldn’t appreciate the genius?  Happy Days!

Madonna: Ray of Light – the only Madonna song I’ve ever liked and let me tell you . . . [see above].

Cat Stevens: several tracks, all wonderful.

REM: several tracks – arguably one of the best bands in the world.

Bob Marley: Mr Brown – so good there are no words.

The Be Good Tanya’s: Human Thing – mellow.  House of the Rising Sun – excellent unique version.  The Littlest Birds – just lovely.

Bad Company: Feel Like Makin’ Love – and it really does. Sexy, sexy voice.

Actually, this is turning into a chore.  I think I’ll round it up with a quick list of the rest.

James, Elbow, Dead Can Dance, Nouvelle Vague, Blink 182, AFI, Enya, Deacon Blue and many, many, many.

Well, although I’d much rather chill and listen to the music, I suppose we should get back to the Budget (sigh) because after all, I am a serious blogger with an activist agenda, even if it only involves sitting on my arse and typing for most of the time.

Are people still talking about the budget?  Probably not.  It’s old news now but in my usual after-the-party style, there are a couple of comments I will get down.

From a green perspective, I can only echo what the Green party has said about lots of missed opportunities.  What with unemployment being a key issue, you just have to wonder about all the potential Green apprenticeships and consequent jobs that could have been created.  The Green party (and little me!!) has been arguing for years that the British workforce lacks the skills needed to meet the demands of evolving technologies so that emissions targets can be met and jobs can be created – lots of jobs.  So why this is being bypassed by Brownie and his Darling is beyond me.

Then there was the dirty mention of clean coal investments.  Some Mop going by the name of Ed Miliband, who originally opposed Kingsnorth from being built, wants to fire up several new coal stations but insists that they will have to be fitted with carbon capture and storage technology. Alistair Darling Mop is supporting this by funding new, coal-related carbon capture schemes.  Well what people might not realise is that CCS is not yet a fully tested technology and is nowhere near developed to safe and reliable standards, so clean coal is not yet achievable and is certainly not the quick and magical fix that they are implying.  So basically, the go ahead has been given for a new generation of coal power with no guarantees that the technology will be available to clean it up.  I’m not against the research into CCS but I don’t like the idea of restarting coal power on the wild assumption that CCS will work or will even be ready before much damage is done.  For those wondering, we don’t have the time to sit and wait and we really should be thinking twice about allowing the government to remain dependent on fossil fuels and pursue these distractive policies at the expense of energy efficiency and renewables progress.

It just occurred to me – there is a connection between the budget and music.  Gordon Brown apparently quoted Shakespeare in defense of his budget  . .  and one of Shakespeare’s characters said . .  if music be the food of love, play on.  Well I see the connection.  You’re just not tuned in.

Ta ta folks.

I Spy . . . a communication plan

Nipping onto the internet for a quick look-around never works. I always end up overstaying.  I’m supposed to be getting stuff ready for the rugby tour but this little item has really got my blood on the boil and again, I just have to cough it out, then I’ll be off to pack up.  Really I will.

Apparently, surveillance and infiltration methods provided the police with the information they needed to make the arrests of the 114 environmental campaigners – their justification being that there was a conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

Our information was that it wasn’t to be a lawful protest. This was to be a criminal act against a power station.

Quick question – how can PC Brute beat up mouthy protesters if he arrests them before they’ve protested?

Anyway, no charges have been brought against any of the would-be protesters which implies to me that the whole raid was carried out simply to prevent the protest from going ahead and any claims that it was to prevent a crime from taking place was a smoke-screen.  I mean conspiracy is a crime so why no charges?

Clearly this tactic of making preemptive arrests will be a set precedent now that the police and the government have granted themselves full access to every aspect of our lives.  So what now for activists who wish to plan protests and keep out of range of the ever-expanding police radar?  How can our activists communicate with each other and plan their events when the technology they’ve been using is so easily intercepted?

Well they’re going to have to get clever and inventive in order to outwit PC Snoop and Jacqui Spy.

I played around with the idea of carrier pigeons but no, the police will simply arrest the birds, beat them up and then interrogate them daily using the highly acclaimed and oh-so-humane Guantanamo techniques.  Then they will detain them for a while before releasing them without charge.  That or they will throw them into a pan of stew which will then be fed to the other detainees such as the eighteen ducks who raided a pond in Liverpool and conspired to quack non-stop for forty-eight hours in protest of the soaring costs of bread.

So our activists need to go back to the days before the technological revolution changed everything.

Going back a very long time, there was the tried and trusted Paleolithic method of drawing pictures and symbols . . . they could revisit their ancestral roots and try leaving drawings on cave walls.  There aren’t many conveniently placed caves around but there’s plenty of concrete that they could etch messages into.  Maybe they could enrol the brilliant and elusive Banksy into their campaign.  I mean he has ample undercover experience – the police have never been able to catch him mid-grafitti-ising unsuspecting walls.

Or what about getting tribal?  Beating drums or lighting fires and sending smoke signals was a very useful form of communication in its time.  Hell, the pope still uses smoke signals to announce his state of popeness.  No, they’d be arrested on suspicion of lighting fires with intent to erm . . . keep warm, which is an arrestable offense nowadays – if the police want it to be.

More recently, that Telegraph machine thingy.  Some clever bloke invented the Morse code which apparently saved lives and confused the enemy in wartime.  Maybe the activists could invent their own eco-code, a really cryptic one that would be impossible for the police to de-code.  It wouldn’t have to be that complicated.  The collective IQ of the entire police force can’t be much higher than 86.  Ooohh, I’m sooooo going to be arrested on charges of conspiring to conspire against the police.

In all seriousness folks, this is a serious issue.  I don’t believe this country is a police state but we should really be heeding the warning signs that are telling us it’s fast becoming one.  Be very careful because it will sneak in through the apathy door and before we know it, our liberties will have become nothing but nostalgic memories of days-gone-by.  Don’t sleep through the wake-up calls.

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