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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

251. Politicians have unemployed themselves…


…so let’s all have a massive refund.

Yes – I had another of my blinding revelations – huge cosmic insights and general headache-inducing flashes of brilliance (or maybe it was something I ate?)
I was mulling over the rash of un-elected ‘government’ organisations, drain blocking number of public inquiries and the wholesale outsourcing of government services and it hit me like a big, wet, rotten fish.

We no longer need politicians. Government itself is outsourced. From contractors doing cheap jobs on road maintenance to companies found to be abusing vulnerable and elderly people in care homes – outsourcing is a known disaster but continues to grow exponentially. The only possible benefit to the public is a massive tax rebate – funded by eliminating clearly irrelevant ‘government’.

In the face of the horror of Grenfell tower – for example - there was the initial deluge of information about what had not been done – which local politicians had never in fact visited a high-rise – the crazy catalogue of safety issues that had been blatantly ignored for years and so on. Instead of an honest indictment of the whole bloody shower of local and national politicians who allowed or helped create the environment for this to happen, including ex-chancellor George Osborne – see my letter to the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/17/local-community-should-set-up-their-own-grenfell-fire-inquiry  we got another inquiry at huge public expense. An inquiry – to find out what happened which has become the standard euphemism for kick the ball down the road to a time politicians hope public anger and shock will have subsided. Because – for some reason – even though its bloody obvious – it’s better not to reach conclusions and set about putting things right – it is, politicians decided, much better to get a posh establishment figure – who (see blog 240) may not be the most appropriate person for the job – to spend months and millions of public money (that could have been spent on public services) so that he can tell the public a fraction of what we already knew. And do inquiries into disasters result in serious reformative action?  Iraq inquiry anyone?

Companies such as G4S and SERCO are awarded huge and long-term government contracts despite acknowledged crap service, dangerous practice and poor value. They are the problem.

In June 2012 UNISON published a report showing that bringing services back into local government control could improve quality and lower cost. It is hard not to conclude that the only remaining reasons for outsourcing is to slough off responsibility and have a third party to blame when things go wrong while also channelling tidal waves of public money into private hands.

Way back when I was a city councillor in Newcastle – councillors did not get paid. An allowance of sorts could be applied for – though for people like me – with children – when there was little or no childcare provision – even claiming for the odd allowance left me out of pocket. Unlike many, I would not just turn up to the first 5 mins of a meeting so that I could collect multiple allowances as was common. I did get sent to Coventry by the then leader Jeremy Beecham for publically complaining about the abuse of the allowance system and the ludicrous expenditure of some senior or favoured councillors. However – now councillors do get paid; in part – I suspect – the stop that kind of abuse. Aint it odd that for people in power – when they do wrong they get more. It works the other way round for everyone else. But now –huge swathes of public goods and services are out to tender with private firms. Many not based in the UK – so much for the Brexiteers re-claiming our borders...

In 2013-14 (47th report) the Public Accounts Committee stated –
More and more public services are being contracted out to private and voluntary providers. Government spends £187 billion (estimated at 242 billion by January 2017) on goods and services with third parties each year, around half of which is estimated to be on contracting out services. Government retains responsibility for ensuring value for money and we, on behalf of the taxpayer, need to be able to follow the taxpayers’ pound, wherever it is spent.

This conjures up an image of some grey civil servant wandering the corridors of power aimlessly whistling and shouting ‘here poundy poundy – where are you?’ Is this what government is in 21st century Britain?  Do we simply let public money leak into private hands with diminishing returns, less accountability and less value for the taxpayer while employing people to tell us which sewer our money has been flushed down? Meanwhile we are paying politicians and civil servants to GOVERN, to MANAGE. When did it happen that we were paying them simply to pass the buck and tell us where it went?

Obviously we’d keep a couple of spare politicians for the obligatory photo opportunity. Last week – for example – dead woman walking Theresa May and creepy polished git Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt turned up unannounced (to staff at any rate – I wonder why) at the trust where my middle daughter is an overworked doctor in an understaffed hospital. They were there for a self-congratulatory photo shoot in an NHS building – proving that there is no level of incompetence, shame, irony, no self-questioning, no humility, no depths to which some politicians will not sink for self-aggrandisement. Hunt can get his, I’m-alright-Jack self, photographed in an increasingly privatised public service institution that probably hates his guts more than I hate dog shit on my shoe. So ok – we’ll keep a couple of politicians in an old cardboard box in a musty cupboard somewhere for occasions like that. But otherwise – as I’ve said – why keep them?


Maybe our young people could use their refunds to pay off their life-crushing student debts?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

250. “The Earth is Pissed Off” Neil De Grasse Tyson - sept 2017


This is what acclaimed US astrophysicist and author Neil De Grasse Tyson said on MSNBC in response to questions about the record breaking weather events around the globe and the global environmental crisis we are happily ignoring. Obviously we’d be better off listening to shaved potato Scott Pruitt or a piece of floating lint – such is our current disregard for the expert, the intelligent, the experienced, highly educated commentator.

Instead we elect moronic celebrities and elevate charlatans and self-serving sociopaths to the highest offices. Certainly that is the case in the US and the UK (see last week’s post). Our own head of environmental matters – gargoyle Gove sneered and denigrated ‘experts’ during the EU referendum as if one way to rid the world of its problems would be to round up all the clever, articulate, concerned men and women who know their subject, and get rid of the lot. Oh – yeah – I forgot – they actually did do that with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Silly me.

It is difficult for some of us to comprehend that the ecological destruction and planetary damage which could wipe out humanity is not the top of every agenda. You cannot escape the obvious however, that people in general are behaving like we have already colonised other worlds and are just sorting out the travel arrangements – like students about to move to new digs who cannot be bothered to flush the loo, clean their beer off the carpet, wash up or remove the strange blueish orange fur from the back of the fridge. When are people going to stop confusing tame Hollywood pop-corn accompaniments with reality?

There was a small success for common sense here last week when the Scottish Parliament finally decided to ban Fracking. In the ‘home of the brave’ – a country that will have far more impact on the environment than the wee ‘home of Braveheart’ the ex-governor of Oklahoma, a climate change denier and mad keen fracker Scott Pruitt was put in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency. This is a man soaked in oil money as deeply as Macbeth was seeped in blood (see blog 220 Trump v Mexico and why the US is literally breaking). He is – right now – in the process of cancelling President Obama’s clean air act. Because – who needs clean air?

Whether on a global, national or local level the behaviour of humans to their immediate or wider environment is tantamount to setting fire to the bed you are lying in. In my own locale the tree-phobic morons and concrete cretins are out in force – chopping down mature trees or paving over previously grassed areas (see blog 236 Does Edinburgh need a tree museum) Last Saturday morning played out to the drone of a large buzz saw as more gaps appeared in the decades-old arboreal curtain that screens the gardens that back on to each other in my area. Yes – in Scotland folk cut mature trees from their gardens to ‘improve’ their surroundings and let in the light. That would be the light that shines between 12 noon and 3pm the third Wednesday in June…

It is time – as I’ve said before – to speak to these people on their own terms. Don’t talk about destroying the planet – or their children’s environment – they clearly don’t care. Talk to them about – for example – the value of their homes. Stupid people value money above all other things (Donald Trump) The daftest, TV addled idiot could understand that – in the not too distant future – even on the basis of scarcity – being able to sell a house with a ‘mature tree’ in the garden – a real live one – will be an added value – a rarity – a bloody sensation.

At the risk of boring my lovely readers I’ll repeat and repeat – can we start pointing out to those who don’t give a shit because they don’t think it will affect them – the planet will be here long after we’re gone (see my dystopian novella Zero One Zero Two). We are not destroying it for good simply long enough to make it uninhabitable for humans. For us. Once we’re gone it will recover. Thing is – the day of reckoning is getting exponentially closer.

As Neil De Grasse Tyson also said, “Nature is giving us a shot across the bows”. We need to take notice.

The recent decision of the Scottish Parliament is heartening. On a personal level because I performed part of my environmental epic story poem Casey & the Surfmen in the Scottish Parliament for environment week earlier this year but also because it seems someone is listening. Someone is taking note, and someone is taking action in a world where the lunatics have overrun the asylum. It is a tiny action and it will not help tackle the plasticisation of our oceans, the warming that is ensuring record breaking hurricanes, the air pollution which is damaging our children’s physical and mental development right now - today. It will not stop the catastrophic and cumulative species extinctions, it will not re-grow the forests we need to breathe, but it is a step and it is a good one.

Let’s take many, many more steps and strides, quicker and faster and bigger and better, before it’s too late.

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Both Casey & the Surfmen and Zero One, Zero Two can be found on my author page
https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Baker/e/B0181KEN9E

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

249. Boris Johnson personifies laughing-stock Britain.


Some things are complicated and some things are not. If you want to understand why the UK has become a nation to sneer at on the world stage – look no further than Boris Johnson.

On this blog I aim to criticise/satirise policy, not the person. However, with Boris Johnson there is little division between who he is, what he is, the damage he does and the wrongness he epitomises. Therefore, it’s fair to say that he is a disgusting, disastrous man who should not be trusted to sweep the streets never mind make the policies by which those who live on the streets of Britain live.

As a racist, our Foreign Secretary has form – insulting President Barack Obama – using terms such as pickaninni –and so on and so forth. He has publicly indulged his own racist ditties and more recently he had to be silenced when he inappropriately began reciting colonial poetry in troubled Myanmar.

Ministerial code 7.12 apparently prevents minsters from inappropriately using government resources. The code did not stop Johnson hosting a right-leaning think tank meeting in the Foreign Office.

Johnson recently re-stated the acknowledged falsehood about £350 million of monies going weekly to the EU. And while being lambasted for misusing statistics (what we in the real world call lying) this odious bladder sack of amoral offal still fills one of the highest offices in the land.

But it didn’t start there. As Britain’s reputation drops further, smeared in Johnson’s most recent political defecations, the stench of some of his nonsense while Mayor of London still reeks. An estimated £40 million of public funds was wasted on his vanity project, the unnecessary and ridiculous and never-likely-to-happen garden bridge.

Elitism, privilege and misuse of state wealth that would make a Russian Oligarch blush has not dislodged Johnson, protected as he is by his wealth and privilege and Eton pals. As his racism, buffoonery, moral failings, repeated foot-in-mouth, insults to those less privileged than himself has not shifted him, clearly his enablers and supporters must share the guilt. It is a litany of personality defects so odious that if the UK had not spiralled off into political la la land, this man would be persona non grata anywhere but the gutter.

At the end of last week it was reported that Johnson was belly aching about his ministerial salary. Clearly this is not his only income but he seemed to think the tax payer had a duty to help support his offspring. His legitimate brood and the one he had as a result of an affair that he tried to keep secret with an injunction.

It is hard to know whether he is more or less revolting than the other prospective leader of the Conservative party – Jacob Rees-Mogg who, having celebrated the growth of food banks and stated his belief that abortion is wrong in all cases even rape, admitted that he benefits financially from a drug used to induce abortions.

And as his privately educated pals and handlers and excusers crawl out yet again to say that – oh – it’s just Boris and he is a ‘bit of character’ – he likes to inject some “fizz” you have to wonder if they think they are still in the common room at Eton (where the students get given exam papers ahead of exams!!).

Many a time I’ve written on this blog about the carcinogenic British disease of elitism. In no human being is that clearer than the pig-man in the blonde mop with the persona of a spoilt, socially/morally/physically ugly delinquent 3-year old, Boris Johnson.

He is a flag waving monstrosity, a ‘jolly’ jingoist who, while he haw haws his way round the globe does more than anyone to drag this country’s reputation down the sewer. Following one recent planetary outing there seemed to be a consensus among the sentient and sensible that he was a ‘clown’ a ‘buffoon’ How come others can see so clearly what the media and the establishment at home refuse to see. And – it has to be said, bearing in mind he was London Mayor (at the time he insulted Barack Obama in fact) Londoners. Londoners who famously think of themselves as a cut above the rest of the country voted this blob into one of the most important posts in Britain so that we could all enjoy the site of this offal in a suit suspended from a high wire waving a Union Jack. It was a sight that made most of us puke.

Boris Johnson personifies the promotion-of-privilege culture that still eats away at Britain’s prospects in the 21st century. He openly lies while spouting pop Latin. At every turn he shows such a lack of real common sense, sense of duty and sense of occasion and in fact any sense at all that even those who support him must get tense nervous headaches whenever he opens his floppy foppish foolish mouth.

This is a man who is all personality and no character. Personality in the sense of the gurning, aping for the camera we expect from D-list celebrities and reality stars. That this government should regard him as not just fit for office but to head the Foreign Office shows just what deep deep deep shit Britain is in.

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Why not check out some archived blogs-
Blog 10. My One Night Stand with the Ghost of Bill Farrell (looking at the social conscience we used to have)
Blog 22. Drink Driving with my Dad
Blog 43. Killing them softly
Blog 113. The Crap Gap Club

Blog 165. The Penisic Era

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

248. A Rich Woman Died!

Yes – an extremely rich woman is extremely dead and it made the news.

I know. You are shocked – even while distracted by the two squabbling fat stupid spoilt brats with the really bad hair who want to nuke the planet and the news that fascists are back in the German Bundestag. But it’s true. Last week the amazing phenomenon that the rich die too, was proven, yet again, by the death of the “world’s richest woman” – a strangely empty epitaph all things considered.

Early in the life of this blog I penned a piece called ‘Dinosaurs cured my performance angst’ (blog 4). It outlined how understanding one’s lack of importance in the great scheme of things can be hugely liberating and, in fact, could  allow you to achieve much more. This is not to be confused with the sense of entitlement, self-aggrandisement, selfishness and arrogance imbued in the ranks of elite school boys who have made a pretty good job of trashing Britain with their over-promotion and un-earned privilege (see blog187. British boarding schools breed posh psychopaths).

But Lilliane Bettencourt, described in The Guardian on 21st Sept as “heir to the French L’Oréal hairspray empire” is dead. The same paper also drops this wonderful little gem…
She was the daughter of Eugène Schueller, a chemist and one-time Nazi sympathiser who made a fortune as the inventor of modern hair dye and founder of L’Oréal.

Despite her estimated fortune of £29bn I’d never heard of her but then I’ve not been to a hairdresser in over 15 years. Ms Bettencourt was wealthy beyond imagining due to money made from cosmetics, which makes mad sense in a world where we fete the shallow and image-obsessed. Her family didn’t find a cure for cancer or invent the jet engine but they have done everything to help keep hair in place. For that, this woman was lauded, indulged, lived in opulence few can imagine and for that this woman died among claims by her family that various hangers on and vultures were trying to con her out of some large sums of dosh.

And I say again – if only the rich would get over the idea that they are also immortal – they might behave better.

A new drug-resistant strain of Malaria is spreading in Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of SE Asia but there is still no magical human made wonder drug to deal with that potentially global disaster. While the mainstream media are preoccupied with avoidable man-made horrors such as Trump’s America and Brexit Britain, real issues with the ability to put a serious dent in humanity’s time on the planet are way down the agenda.

If you want to know what is wrong with the world you cannot do better than look at the strange anomaly laid out in the fact of Lillian Bettencourt’s death (and life!). This woman – who may well have been pleasant enough – did nothing of note with her existence other than be born to an old Nazi who invented hair product. She died a modern day Ms Midas. 

Several months ago I posted, Viagra – Yes. Effective Cure for Malaria – No! blog 97. It was an indictment of mankind’s stupidity, vanity, wrongness in all ways. I thought nothing would top that. But, in the face of the massive threat from this new form of Malaria, surely news of a woman dying – the richest of her sex – not because of the invention of something that would genuinely benefit all humanity but because of a horrible, chemical vanity product, shows why we are, as a species, truly and monumentally messed up.

As the avaricious and empty, squabble for cash over Lillianne’s cadaver, her death delivers the same message as all the other unread signs and portents around the planet – humans need to start spending time, effort, money and intellect on caring for each other and the earth because – surely ‘we’re worth it’.

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This Thurs 28th Sept is NATIONAL POETRY DAY – Check out Casey & the Surfmen. Performed this year in The Scottish Parliament as part of 2017 Environment week, this poetry story was originally a spoken word piece. It is now in a brand new print version.
Casey & the Surfmen is an environmental story for all ages, written in verse.
This contemporary fable takes form somewhere between The Rime of Ancient Mariner and Avatar.
With magic, menace and mystical creatures, the verses take the reader onto the expanse of a child's imagination, on to a dreamscape apocalypse and back to the shore of humanity's original promise.


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NB – What happened in relation to the BT nonsense? (See blog 233 – BT ignoring your customer complaints – just do a doodle) I waited to see if the new debt collecting firm engaged by BT would get tired of sending monthly threatening letters. They did not, so a couple of weeks ago I sent them a cease and desist or I’ll sue you letter and have received now a full written apology (19th Sept) and confirmation that I will not be hearing from them again. To be fair – they also say they bought the ‘debt’ in good faith from BT. Dealing with BT ‘in good faith’ seems to be not a great idea…

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

247. Trump / Thatcher MEGA POLICY is the answer…


… if the question is - How do we prevent political Armageddon or even just Armageddon?

Yes, something occurred to me as I struggled in the swamp of near insanity, paddled in the parallel universe of how-did-this-happen and crawled through the dense dark forest of daily despair that is the current news cycle. Then the clouds opened, the path sprouted flowers… Ok, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Sometimes you get hit by that lightning bolt of inspiration and I did. 

Like many, I watch horrified and fascinated while Trump undoes anything and everything good that Obama achieved – from environmental policies and healthcare to protecting young migrants (see last week’s blog) and on and on. Even his own people now seem to see that Trump is mesmerised with being the anti-Obama president.

Here in the UK, as we flush ourselves down the toilet of self-focus and global ridicule called BREXIT (see my letter in The National yesterday http://www.thenational.scot/comment/15540790.Letters_II__Boris_is_trying_to_cover_himself_in_faux_glory ) I wonder what could bring society back to reason, back to caring, back to functioning.

From the failure in social housing policy, brought to our full attention with the Grenfell tower horror, (see my most recent letter in The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/17/local-community-should-set-up-their-own-grenfell-fire-inquiry ) to the crumbling infrastructure evidenced by everything from poor road maintenance and dysfunctional over-priced railways to school standards, the sense of wrong-path-taken has never been stronger.

But, like those tangled cables that wind themselves into an apparently untraceable mess behind your electrical items, it is possible to find where they lead and where they started. Even the triple mountains of personal debt and even the increase in the numbers being mauled by vicious dogs point, in my view, to an identifiable root cause. What is the common denominator here? The answer, I suggest, is incredibly simple. Margaret Thatcher. Even training our young to normalise eye-watering debt – which I trace back to the introduction of tuition fees in 1998 – was a policy of son-of-Thatcher Tony Blair (see my letter in The Independent last week http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/magic-money-tree-theresa-may-conservatives-brexit-juncker-a7946921.html ).

(Actually The G and The I BOTH published two of my letters last week. I think everyone else is too depressed to type.)

Both Thatcher and Blair preferred to spend on war rather than social investment. As the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma states, the trillions spent on war by affluent Western powers in the good times instead of inward investment, plays a much more significant part in their current woes than the ‘globalisation’ so hated by the jingoists.

T’was Thatcher who privatised the railways and essential national utilities and much of British infrastructure. T’was ‘Thatcher, thatcher, milk snatcher’ who handed a state-grab to the rich long before that was even a term. It was she who vilified and maligned the public sector that now struggles with low wages, under-staffing and poor morale. It was she who sold off social housing and allowed a life-enhancing resource for the working class, which had been a jewel in the crown of social policy since the 1950s, to be denigrated and turned into just another ruse for the sharp elbowed and careless to make a fast buck. Thatcher deregulated public transport and yes – she even did away with dog licencing.

So – in this instance – why don’t we take a leaf out of Trump’s book (yes I know he doesn’t read and can barely string a lucid sentence together, I am still being metaphorical). Yes – let us take that leaf. Let us introduce a broad, blunt, brutal, over-arching Trump-esque policy which is simply headed thus
Whatever SHE did let’s undo it and whatever SHE would do – let’s not…

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And if you want a break from the political, slightly sick-making seesaw of politics, go to my amazon author page and check out the free-kindle-book grab. This week from 21st – 25th Sept – all bar one of my books should be free in their e-book versions.

Remember – only where books are concerned is there no such thing as greedy…

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

246. Grim parallels show the US & UK as morally rotten, stagnating nations…


Many on this side of the Atlantic looked on aghast as Trump threw sensible environmental policies and then humane policies such as DACA out of the Oval Office window. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protected young people whose parents took them to America without documentation but who have known no other home. The consensus among the sentient is that it is simply because these policies were introduced by President Obama that Trump is obsessed with ditching them. But what is the explanation this side of the pond?

In April 2016 in Britain, The Dubs Amendment offered sanctuary to thousands of migrant children at risk of starvation, exploitation, rape, death. Earlier this year the lifeline was cut. In the heat of Brexit xenophobia, that decision was overturned against the wishes of huge swathes of the British public and there was not so much as a backwards glance from this shoddy government.

But the unpleasant parallels go on. It’s as if Britain and America caught the same moral standards-wasting disease. And it’s virulent. It’s a super bug.

Turds floated to the top of both national cesspits at the same time. We, for example, have a racist foreign secretary (Boris Johnson). America has an idiot for head of Education (Betsy De Vos).

In both countries the current crop of top notch nutters aren’t even pretending that the planet matters. In a fragile island the size of the UK the government OK’d fracking (Kirby Misperton) and OK’d open cast mining in an area of natural beauty (Druridge Bay). The US put oil whore and climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, in charge of the Environment Agency (see blog 220).

Racism is rampant in both countries, ratcheted up by unhinged right-wing bullies with little or no agenda other than their own inadequacies, trouble-making tendencies and a poor knowledge of history. We had the murder of MP Jo Cox by an unstable white supremacist and in the US at the Charlottesville Nazi rally, Heather Heyer was murdered by a fascist.

Blatant and extreme double standards are the order of the day both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain it’s long been the case that those who enjoyed elite education and send their own children to exclusive and expensive schools, are happy to preside over cuts and failure in state education. Those who have private health care forcefully talk about ‘streamlining’ the NHS which is forked-tongue speak for cuts while social care is in crisis and the disabled are losing benefits and rights faster than you can say what happened to the 2012 Olympic legacy. In the US Trump talks about his own spoilt brats - including the one who colluded with Russia – as “kids”. However, the youngsters losing their DACA protection are “young adults” even though, unlike his own oily, criminal, stupid privileged brood, the DACA young people have low levels of criminality and a 90% employment rate.

Fuelled by short-termism and racial intolerance - both countries seem to be missing one thing. Neither, in their obsessive self-regard, seems to have noticed that their country’s credibility – albeit based on (often) brute force and the reputation of history – has gone down the pan.

There is nothing more bizarre than listening to some stupid xenophobic blob banging on about how he/she would be happy to welcome accountants and doctors from other countries. They seem unaware of what intelligent people abroad will have made, over the last few months, of Britain’s show of nastiness, selfishness, meanness, lack of regard for others and unwillingness to play for Team Planet.

It remains to be seen what will happen now that Trump is playing his Republican enablers off against Democratic desperation as he did recently over the budget cap.  Here, Theresa May’s party tolerate her because they know they cannot risk rocking the un-seaworthy boat now. The man with no morals supported by the Christian right, the climate change denier lapping up the attention in Hurricane obliterated Houston, the illiterate idiot, liar, cheat, embezzler is running the land of the brave and home of the free. In the UK, Mrs jolly-hockey-sticks-May competes with the ludicrous its-2000-and what?-Jeremy Corbyn for the title of most deluded out-of-touch political manikin.

Meanwhile here in the UK no one but NO ONE will admit that Brexit is a disaster. Not will be but is. Politicians on all sides bang on about ‘respecting the will of the people’ conveniently papering over the huge cracks and contradictions. The elephant in the room, which is the xenophobia that drove the decision, is just being ignored like a teenager with 2-year-old sextuplets who no one will admit was ever pregnant. They brush aside the ill-informed nature of much of the decision making, the open lies – admitted the day after the referendum. They waffle on about how colossal EU trade will be replaced with ‘other’ trade in ‘other’ parts of the world. I hope they are not thinking of Africa. After Bell Pottinger’s hideous, widely publicised and condemned shenanigans, I cannot see UK firms being welcome there any time this side of the next financial collapse.

But for me – there is another even stranger angle.

As a descendant of Caribbean slaves, I have a strong sense (though it was never taught to me at any of the educational institutions I attended) of the legacy of slavery in this country. The entrenched wealth of many of the elite in the UK is based historically on slavery and the violent plundering of Empire. Things diverge slightly here because in America, slave owners were comfortable with the abomination on their doorsteps. And – long after slavery – they continued to paddle in the sewer of white supremacy which oozed out again at Charlottesville. But make no mistake – while British sensibilities kept slavery at a sanitising distance – many of those who rule and influence what goes on in the UK and live off ingrained wealth so deep and dark it stains like blood – got that affluence through that hideous, pernicious, centuries-long exploitation and slaughter of black and brown people. So – how odd it is – as each country plummets down the world credibility ratings, to see that countries built on exploitation, xenophobia and ingrained elitism – are being brought down by those very things.

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To check out my author page click here - 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Baker/e/B0181KEN9E

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

245. Why Wildebeest don’t RUN


And why humans won’t save themselves.

You’ve seen the footage, courtesy of wildlife documentaries or British  national treasure David Attenborough. Wildebeest on the African planes with lions pacing, watching, prowling, menacing, shoulders rising and falling as the massive head stays steady. But, not until the lions set their sights on an old or infirm or young and vulnerable creature and begin to attack do the herd run. Sometimes not even then. If the one being singled out is sufficiently isolated the rest move out of harm’s way and continue grazing – sometimes watching just in case. If the lions charge the herd and alarm them then they scatter, stampede, panic, run for their lives and maybe one or two become separated – the lions pick them off and chew them up. The others relax.

That is Nature.

Watching, it often seems strange that the group don’t take evasive action when they know the lions are in the vicinity. However, if you think about it logically, there is a biological imperative that makes real survival sense. If the Wildebeest ran whenever the lions were present they would waste a huge amount of energy and maybe even risk other random injury.

Maybe that was the same for humans back in pre-history when Man was more at the mercy of Nature, wild animals, natural disasters. If you could not accurately predict the danger then, surely, the best thing was to wait. Wait and see. Wait and see if you were the ones who would be affected and if not – don’t waste effort or risk other potential harms.

Unfortunately, this no longer makes sense for humans but we are still behaving like the f’ing stupid Wildebeest.

I know it’s difficult to concentrate on anything when there is a dangerous idiot in the US playing with the idea of nuclear war to divert from his unpaid taxes and dalliances with Russia and here in the UK we have the ongoing chaos of Brexit. But, if the two stupidest spoilt bad-hair brats on the planet engage in nuclear war at least we won’t need to worry about environmental disaster. If their handlers manage to reign them in however, having air to breath and unpolluted water to drink will be a tad more important for the planet than the US and UK just going down the global credibility sewer.

We may not be personally touched by environmental devastation yet unlike many other poorer countries but we are already suffering the effects of less obvious environmental damage like deaths from air pollution. And just like the dumb Wildebeest – if we look on impervious as other smaller, weaker, vulnerable countries are decimated, ripped apart, the bigger, badder dangers grow and will come for us too.

Forget arguments about global warming (if you want to) even in the face of the record-breaking floods devastating India, Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of the United States. Pretend that melting glaciers and the increasing rate of species extinction is something we can ignore. The fact remains we are poisoning ourselves at a rate humans cannot sustain. With chemicals in the air, with plastics in the sea (see blog 194. Beside myself beside the sea) we are poisoning marine life we then eat. We are devastating the seas and forests that provide the AIR WE BREATHE, we are turning larger swathes of the planet into desert with deforestation, creating landslides, sink-holes with over development. I won’t go on. We know all this – and that really is the point.

It’s confusing – because in this analogy we are the Wildebeest but also – sort of – the lions – or we made the lions (!)  But the thing is, while humans – like other animals – can shift themselves when danger is sinking its huge canines into their arses – when it comes to the planet we inhabit, that won’t work.

In this age of short-termism, we need to think of environmental disaster differently - ironically as a huge sea-going tanker (if you are a regular BGOTR reader you will be used, by now, to my metaphors morphing or turning on a hairpin bend). What we are doing to the things essential for life is a catastrophe, a disaster tanker as big as Wales - as folk in the UK like to say when they are trying to imagine anything large! We humans are all on a fragile, rocky outcrop in the path of the disaster tanker’s trajectory with no means of escape. We can see it in the distance. It is about 50 miles out to sea. We are ignoring it. It looms larger – but, like the Wildebeest we will not take action until it is very very close. In fact, even then we will not take action if we think it will get someone else instead of us. The problem is that this gigantic environmental disaster tanker (the size of Wales [not whales]) – will wipe us out – and it is going to take at least 60 miles to stop it.

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See also blogs
236. Does Edinburgh Need a Tree Museum
188. Pursuit of Profit is a Terminal Illness
#Save Druridge Bay

R.I.P Kirby Misperton