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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Blog 143. Upgrade / Downgrade.

Constantly upgrading technology downgrades us.

Technology is dehumanising us, infantilising and stripping our responsibility. It is automatising and brutalising us. None of this is news. However, technology isn’t even doing the things we think it can do and in over-relying on the magic of IT we are handing our lives to an entity lacking empathy, emotional intelligence, and the things that help to keep the unstable human animal in check.

I look up from my computer out of the window at the rain. On every weather forecast I’m looking at for Edinburgh it says it is very unlikely to rain today. It says it is not raining NOW. It is. I can see it.

And the thing is we know. In offices round the country computer records are mostly ‘backed up’ with paper copies. Doubling not halving the office work.

Technology isn’t killing us in an iRobot kind of way. It is subtly and cumulatively taking our humanity and our abilities.

The problem is that technology encourages us not to use our senses or even our common sense.

Although I am a self proclaimed Luddite (see blog 53 I suffer from PANTS) it’s not a visceral thing. I do not hate technology. I grew up without it mostly and me and it are – on the whole - quite happy with minimal contact.

I got the basics of turning on a computer years ago when married to an IT fan. Learning to e-mail was a boon and tis still a favoured form of communication. As face book obliterated cyberspace I found my in-boxes increasingly sparsely populated with mail from randoms which was a positive.

But from medicine to offices to safety, technology is deskilling the majority and giving us a false sense of security and power. It is also driving us crazy. It also means that greedy nutters who have never made anything or contributed to society in their lives can wreck the global economy by pressing buttons.

Governments around the world are gagging, slavering for more and more technology to spy on other countries and their own citizens. Yet nowhere do we see a government with the basic infrastructure or organisational skills to so much as keep the pavements free of dog crap let alone make other good use of any such information. (blog 42 I’m Spartacus)

In the rich west we can now buy our own heart monitors, gizmos to tell us how much energy we’ve burnt in relation to our calorific intake contained in a watch. Individuals have blood pressure monitors at home – where in some undeveloped countries you won’t find such a thing even in a hospital. And yet never has self induced illness been more prevalent. Never have more children been obese and more adults been killing themselves with substance abuse, poor lifestyle choices, processed food and polluted environments.

Recently I received notification that I had to renew my driving licence with the new self contained photo card – which is to all intents and purposes personal ID by the back door. In this country ID cards were voted down as something the public did not want but the government has found a way round that. I am unsure whether to renew my card as I do not have a car in any event.

Try contacting any customer service of any large organisation and you will be in an automated queue with numerous click button options until you fear for your sanity.
In supermarkets there are DIY check outs so that you need never speak to a soul while you are shopping. For some folk that was possibly the only human contact in a day.

And all the technology in the world doesn’t seem to be able to stop a young man shooting up worshipers in a church or another killing holiday makers on a beach. No. For that we need real human interaction and engagement. But as long as we keep telling ourselves that technology is the answer we will be able to side step the genuine and pressing issues that are taking us ever closer to melt down.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Blog 142 Fracking Fraud

Fracking IS fraud... a horribly destructive swindle subtly perpetrated and it starts with the word.

When it comes to fracking the misnomer is king. Obfuscation is emperor. Deceptive language is everything. Verbally speaking, the wolf is not in sheep’s clothing – it’s a troll wearing a tutu with a diamante tiara and it’s not a pretty sight.

We all know it's not right but the costume is so expensive, the seams so slick, the sequins so well applied some people are having difficulty telling it’s really a troll.

Surely if, as dear old Willy Shakespeare said, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” then a dog turd called something else should still stink... For some reason it doesn’t seem to work that way.

It’s like when the doctor says ‘this may be uncomfortable’ you know it’s going to hurt like hell and you will be screaming for your mum. But there is an assumption that the human brain falls for these verbal dexterities and sometimes it does.

Why aren’t ‘pay-day loans’ called ‘hi rate debt cons’?
Why isn’t ‘meat’ called ‘carcass’ and ‘offal’ called ‘organs &guts’?
Why aren’t ‘sales’ called ‘the –stuff-we-couldn’t-get rid-of -before –the-next-lot-of-crap-comes in’?
And why isn’t Fracking called Fracturing?

The answer is simple. People who are used to getting their own way like to dress a sows ear up like a silk purse. If it helps their cause to pretend the grass is pink and the sky is made of lemonade – they will.

If you call it as it is – if you said we are going to FRACTURE the ground to extract gas, fewer people would let it slip by. If these profit driven corpmegatrocities called if Fracturing even people who don’t get it or don’t give a shit - would.

(N.B  ‘Corpmegatrocity’ is a large profit driven corporation so huge it ceases to be connected to humanity and has become an atrocity. [See – we can all make words up])

It’s not Fracking its Fracturing. Fracturing the earth – the planet - the water tables. Destabilising further our already unstable thin crusted planet. Breaking stuff. It’s breaking the environment for profit and so we can go on pretending we don’t have to control our consumption.

I would like to suggest – as I have on this blog before – that there should be a connection where there is a consequence. So for example – I said that people with private health insurance should not be allowed to pontificate and certainly not legislate on the NHS. Conversely I would like to have suggested that those who are looking forward to the profits of shale gas extracted by Fracturing the ground should be forced to live in the fractured areas – drink the water – deal with all the horrible chemical mess and nature damaging results. But the thing with damaging the planet is that you cannot contain those consequences.

WWF claimed in a Guardian article last year that the world lost HALF its species in the last 40 years due to pollution, climate change and overfishing. That is, I suggest, a scary statistic by any measure. But the fact that you or I may be doing our best to limit our carbon footprint etc doesn’t alter the fact that this goes on apace. The crap outcome will not be limited to those responsible and that is why we have to force the profit mongers to ease off. Ditto Fracturing.

Fracking means Fracturing / Breaking
Pollution means poisoning.
Climate change means – moving towards an uninhabitable planet. And to those morons who keep banging on about the fact that the climate has changed radically before – er yes – but humans weren’t around then.

Fracking is just a made up word to polish the turd, to put pink fondant icing on the mouldy bun, it’s the diamante thong on the haggard old arse – it’s a lie.

Fracking is Fracturing – its breaking and damaging the place we live, for money.
Let’s just say it how it is.

If you click on view my profile it will take you to the list of posts and you can find my old anti-fracking cartoon from 28th Jan 2014 which focused on French companies being given fracking rights in the UK when fracking was banned in France.

Also – it’s still possible to listen to Casey and the Surfmen for free (or pay, download and keep) @

Friday, 19 June 2015

Blog 141 LETTER to AMERICA - (South Carolina & the wrong turn at Treyvon Martin)

South Carolina seems to demonstrate that – since Treyvon Martin – it is indeed open season on black people in America. AGAIN.

As a British Methodist of Afro-Caribbean descent I experienced more than just sympathy, empathy and huge sadness for the 9 victims of your latest senseless and apparently racially motivated killings at a prayer meeting in S Carolina. There is something like gloom and confusion dislocating everything. So, instead of waiting to blog on Tuesday as usual I am posting extra today.

It would be bad enough if this were an isolated incident but it is not. Neither gun crime nor killings of black people by white are rare enough in your country, the world’s most powerful democracy. But like a lot of seemingly intractable problems, may I suggest that straightforward solutions often pack a punch.

Firstly, categorising these types of crimes as terrorism might rocket them up the priority list where they belong.

Secondly there needs to be an increased and enormously heavy premium in the criminal system for crimes committed on the basis of hate to counteract the subdural poison insinuating that black lives are more expendable than white.

Thirdly – and in some ways most importantly - it is time – it is past time – it is way beyond time when you absolutely have to get to grips with gun control.

Here in the UK we are not devoid of racism (I can personally attest to that). We also have all the usual nasty attitudes of one group against another. We also have violence and crime. HOWEVER, with rare exceptions, we do not have the miserable litany of weak inadequate disturbed individuals randomly blowing away large numbers of valuable lives on a regular basis year in year out.

It is not possible to get rid of or anticipate people with evil intentions. It is possible to control guns.

Come on America
Grow up

Yours in fellowship

Amanda Baker

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Blog 140. Fox Hunting Hunting – it’s the latest thing!

Yes – Fox Hunting Hunting is the new sport here in Britain. Canny Lord Middleton – far from being the inbred dimwit he might seem, has in fact invented a new and rather marvellous pastime.

Following the discovery of 16 motherless fox cubs on Middleton’s Birdsall Estate in Malton, Yorkshire a new sport is born. The canny, wily (foxy!) Lord Middletwonk claims he and the local hunt knew nothing about why the young cubs were being kept in a barn on his estate where hunting is a regular event. Though – strangely – after claiming to know nothing Lord Middletwonk then apparently told a tabloid newspaper that,

...the cubs were not being kept for hunting – it’s not illegal to keep foxes – they were not being mistreated – people asked the hunt to look after abandoned fox cubs and it was done out of kindness -  - they will be released back into the wild... and so on. All of which proves one thing only - that he is a nasty lying toad
He has been at pains to invent a new kindly and much more interesting pastime than chasing defenseless wildlife for sport across the bally old green and pleasant stuff for posh fun.

It’s Fox Hunting Hunting.

Presumably the vixens were all unfit mothers who abandoned their cubs – all 16 of them – and went on a booze holiday to Ibiza. Then the Molten hunt rescued the poor wee things – in secret.

Shame on you BGOTR bleader, if you conclude that there is a stratum of people who think the laws of the land do not apply to them (a la bankers). Why would you think such a thing in this year we celebrate 800 years of Magna Carta?

Maybe it was the lukewarm backing of the anti hunting bill by one Mr. Blair that set the tone (Tony set the tone!) He made it clear at the time the bill was floated that if it had not been enshrined in the labour election pledge he would’ve wriggled out of it. And why would a man who had no compunction about going a slaughtering in Iraq be squeamish about small wild animals being chased down by twits in silly clothes on horse-back with dogs and then torn apart – for fun.

The argument goes that we townies don’t understand the countryside – fox hunting is part of keeping these vermin under control. Odd then that the 16 fox cubs appeared to have been kept specifically to be released for hunting entertainment.

We townies also don’t understand that this is part of British tradition and heritage. – Well – yeah. So was sending little children up chimneys and deporting people to Australia for stealing bread. What kind of argument is that?

But then I thought hang on a minute. Maybe this is not what it seems. These good folk – who clearly have been involved in legal drag hunting not illegal fox hunting – are much maligned and misunderstood. The fact that they like hunting foxes and have 16 young foxes locked in a barn and were very secretive about it should in no way lead us to the obvious conclusion.

They were – by way of paying something back to society – providing care and love to the abandoned youngsters and also developing a benign hunting experience for the LACS (the League Against Cruel Sports). LACS were not lax in coming forward and were then able to indulge in Fox Hunting Hunting.
But why not go the next step and hunt the Twonkies?

I can’t think of anything better, more enjoyable, more exhilarating and pleasant than locking a few Twonkies in a barn – releasing them dazed and terrified one at a time and running them down with dogs and horses until their hearts are about to give out and then tearing them to pieces.
How lovely. Good on them.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Blog 139. The Rom Com Con

Fecklessness,  unreliability, heavy drinking, immaturity, facile undermining behaviour, refusal to grow up, selfishness, carelessness with other people’s feelings, daily demonstrations of thoughtlessness, are all highly endearing and hilarious - in a man. Aren’t they.


Well – according to Hollywood (and lesser film entities) – that’s what us women secretly desire even though we claim to want the caring, emotionally intelligent guy. Think of every Rom Com you ever sat through. For me this goes back a long way because, even as a young woman, I found the ubiquitous Rom Com like sucking on a neon sugar stick with my finger in an electric socket.

It is all very entertaining, we are encouraged to believe. The attractive, intelligent, reliable ex-girlfriend/wife is now with someone caring and sensible – the feckless but charming, funny, fun-loving and endearing main man sets out to woo her back (or retrieve some failed situation). There will be various hilarious obstacles along the way but basically we are led to believe that if he just tries hard enough she will suddenly see – and we the audience can certainly tell – that he’s a great guy because he’s charming, funny, fun-loving and endearing.

But hang on – what about feckless? Excuse me – wait a minute...

That is what I was always yelling in my head after one of those predictable dollops of syrup.

I’m thinking (Brit) Run Fat boy Run (which to be fair I didn't watch all the way through) and US – yes I am going to say it - Mrs Doubtfire (not strictly a RC as it’s aimed at kids). In Mrs. Doubtfire you have to imagine that the main character was NOT played by Robin Williams as that really skews your view.

If you take those fantasy adventures that have a little Rom Com mix in the background e.g. Night in the Museum (the first one not no. 12) – then the charming, fun-loving guy adds ‘stupid lunatic fantasist’ to his endearing profile. Yum.

Problem 1. Is that Mr. Fun only has one gear – and trust me ‘fun’ isn’t much use when its 2 am and its always your job to drive back from the party you didn’t want to go to with the kids in the back because he couldn’t leave when everyone was knackered  because he was having FUN. If you are stuck at home with the kids and the mess again because he’s out having FUN, fun starts to take on a quite sinister and depressing quality.

Problem 2. Is that Mr Fun can’t function without adulation and a big audience and the chances that you will be enough to satisfy this obsessive need for attention in the long run are pretty slim.

Problem 3. Is that it’s all about Mr Fun’s fun. Not fun in general.

In the world of cosmic balance – the more ‘fun’ becomes his signature the more ‘dour’ will inevitably have to become yours. You start to play the mother to his naughty child. You become the stooge to his hilarious front man.  You become the butt of every joke, the heavy submerged anchor to his ever floating boat.

On the other hand – with Mr. Considerate; Mr. How do YOU feel? Mr I can do that. Mr. Let’s do that together - you suddenly find that you are Mrs. ‘I-can-be-fun-too’. You find you are not always knackered. You can cope with what life throws at you because you are really sharing it. He is interested in what you have to say and what you’ve done and he talks to you not at you.

And because you don’t feel like his mum you feel more like his lover. And in reality laughing at nothing for no reason because you are with the right guy is lots more fun than pub jokes. Tired Me, Me, Me, anecdotes that you’ve heard in 100 versions 1,000 times, lead you to be so switched off you could eat rusty nails with hot pepper sauce and not notice.

There is some growing up going on. Funky Chick Flicks such as Bridesmaids show us that ditching Mr. Wrong and going for Mr. Right can be entertaining and good box office too.

Mr. Feckless-Inconsiderate-Fun-Endearing  is undoubtedly the star of the Hollywood run-by-men Rom Com. Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s Mr. Right in the real world.   

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Blog 138. Sepp Blatter – two Ps, two Ts, two faces?

Blatter made the opposition scatter – morals fall and clatter, ethics shatter – the bribes get fatter – no matter he’s got the patter - its bad mad hatter Blatter with the Blatter chatter splatter.

As someone with NO interest whatsoever in the beautiful (ok horribly corrupt, money obsessed and celebrity soiled) game, I’m concerned that this is the fourth time I’ve been drawn to comment roughly in this area – see archives,

blog 17 How to make Monopoly more interesting (Harry Redknapp)
blog 81 What happened to mud, fun and anticipation?
blog 90 Is the Brazil World Cup a microcosm of what is wrong with Britain?

I feel like a vegan fascinated by rotting tripe.

On reflection maybe I am being disingenuous. I should be glad because the global flight of common sense that happens when this school sport is discussed must be a sign there are no real problems left. The pathetic posturing of so many commentators who cared not enough about the bribery and corruption to put their heads above the parapets until the FBI got involved – is clearly a sign that all else is right with the world.
It must be. Otherwise how have the mass media been able to throw this at us constantly for days ahead of all other news?

There is no world-wide economic catastrophe – or crisis of capitalism. There aren’t millions existing in slavery. There is not mass starvation, child exploitation, war, disease and ecological disaster.

Thank heavens...

The question of why it has proved impossible to oust one fraudulent old fart from the head of a world-wide body – ANY world body - in year 15 of the 21st century,  is a question that may take longer to answer.

It’s a cheap ‘n nasty but very expensive soap opera...

(Tues evening) NEWS FLASH - SB musta read me bloggy cos he resigning!!!