Monday, 15 October 2018

Turning The World Vegetarian

As a vegetarian i know that i am on a sticky wicket but with 12 years left to save the Planet the time for being coy has gone so let's grab the bull by the horn, or rather grab the fork off meat eaters because we need to have a conversation about how eating meat is destroying the planet. 
The climate minister, Claire Perry, shied away when challenged on the habit of carnivores eating us all to destruction because they can get a bit cranky when told to eat less of the wildlife, all that red meat coursing through their system i guess.
Following the report that global warming will be beyond control in 12 years’ time came another major report pointing out that meat production is one of the biggest contributors to global warming through the use of water to the amount of agricultural land given over to grazing and feed crops to rainforest destruction for animal feed.
The Government cannot just ban meat and the carnivores don't seem perturbed by the eyeballs and scrapings off the abattoir floor in their sausages or the cancer caused by eating meat but the Government does have other means in its arsenal.
It could introduce a meat tax, making it so expensive that meat is removed from many dining tables or throwing money at artificial meat research or making vegetarian dishes cheaper but what certainly won't work its appealing to the better nature of meat eaters to cut down on their meat consumption because let's face it, they eat other living creatures so concern for others isn't big on their agenda.

Brexit Jargon Explained

For the past two years it has been difficult to avoid hearing all things Brexit but as we approach March things are going to shift up a few gears as the Brexit negotiations intensify but it can be hard to follow all the jargon so i have produced a guide of the most common phrases we will be bored to death by come March 31st 2019.

Article 50: The mechanism that allows a country to leave the EU.
Backstop: A customs plan to avoid a hard border between non-EU Northern Ireland and EU affiliated Ireland
Brexiteers: Those who voted for Brexit and want to break away from the EU completely.
Canada Style deal: No customs duty on EU exports to Canada or Canadian exports to the EU.
Canada Plus Plus Plus: An upgrade of the deal struck between the EU and Canada.
Chequers Deal: The cabinet deal seeking to keep the trade in goods flowing between by the UK and the EU.
Cliff edge: The UK falling out of the EU without a deal in place.
Common Rule Book: Aligning UK legislation on goods with EU standards and regulations.
Customs Union: The way no duties are paid on goods between EU states and how they all apply the same charge to non-EU imports.
Divorce bill: The amount the UK has to pay to settle it's bill with the European Union.
Hard Brexit: Leaving the EU and cutting all ties such as membership of the single market and the customs union
Remoaners: Those who voted to remain in the EU and deeply regret the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.
Single Market: The EU as one territory without internal borders or obstacles to free movement of goods and services.
Soft Brexit: Maintaining close ties with the EU and retain Single Market and Customs Union membership.
Transition deal: A bridging deal to smooth the transition between Brexit day in March 2019 and the start of a future trade agreement

Let's Stick Together - Bryan Ferry

Of the millions of songs which have been recorded, only 30 songs can make it into The Lucy Museum of Musicians who deserve entry to Lucy's Museum of Musicians and at number 16 we have Let's Stick Together by Bryan Ferry (1976).

Seems like every man and his dog has had a go at this song but the Bryan Ferry version is the one i reach for when i want a song about fidelity and wedding vows.
The Bass keeps the tune bouncing along and the short, sharp blasts from the saxophone with Ferry's silky vocals, it's a fun sort of song although kind of ironic that then girlfriend of Ferry, Jerry Hall, is in the music video and if Ferry was singing the song for her, it didn’t do the trick as she was soon to embark on her chief gold-digger tour and left him for Mick Jagger soon afterwards.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Could This Be The Week Theresa May Falls?

The imminent demise of Theresa May has been talked about ever since she took over from David Cameron in 2016 but she is still there ducking and diving but if she is going to fall then this week looks likely which is why it has been dubbed Theresa Hell Week. 
First up are the rumours that a further four members of her cabinet are preparing join the two already gone and quit if the Prime Minister tries to make a Brexit deal that is not to their liking but if Mrs may makes it to next Sunday with an Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Penny Mordaunt and
Chris Grayling shaped hole in her cabinet then she can cope with that.
Secondly, and more troubling, is the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists, a party of just 10 MPs who are threatening to vote against the Government if they don’t get exactly what they want which is parity with the rest of the UK but which they won't get because of the border they share with EU remaining Republic of Ireland.
As Theresa May has a majority of 13 and there are as many as 40 of her own MP's not including the 10 DUP ready to vote against her, the Commons defeat resulting in a lack of confidence vote would either herald a bruising leadership challenge or usher in a snap election which would risk tipping the Tories out of office that would in all possibility put Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.
The Labour Party have laid a trap that whatever deal Mrs May manages to come up with, it will not pass Labour’s 'six tests' because those tests were designed not to be passable so she can't rely on Labour votes saving her as the collapse of the government and a snap general election is exactly what Labour want.
This makes it very hard to see how Mrs May can strike any agreement with the EU for which there will be parliamentary approval as the opposition has no incentive to help her out and the Democratic Unionists are lining up alongside the Tory hard-Brexiters which makes the maths impossible for Theresa May to avoid a humiliating defeat regardless of what deal she brings back from Brussels this week.
In the background rumbles on the flat out lying over the Universal Credit system they are introducing so there may be some sympathy for Theresa May but then you remember the austerity, the cuts, the running down of the NHS, the Hostile Environment idea and the general awfulness of everything they have done and that their problems are self-inflicted and you think good, hope her week is as painful as everyone seems to think it will be.

We Could All Be Luddites Soon

People seem to have the impression that the Luddites were against technology but what they were actually fighting against was technology taking their jobs which as it turned out, they were right about as their jobs were taken by machinery.
Spin on 200 years and research by the cross-party Social Market Foundation (SMF) think*tank, found that a four-day working week could become commonplace in Britain as automation and artificial intelligence increase in the workplace.
In a brilliant bit of spin it is being put forward as a good thing as it will result in giving workers more leisure time and making for a better work-life balance.
Scott Corfe, the reports author said: 'If we manage this revolution properly, workers will get new choices, including whether to reduce their working week and having more leisure time'.
No mention of the days less wages though funnily enough unless companies are planning to pay employee's for the day they are not at work so enjoy more time away from work and enjoy your leisure time with that 20% pay cut.
If Ai and robotics can do the job of a person for one day, how long before companies decide they can do it for all five days and not have to pay a human at all, that's where this could be heading.

World Day Against the Death Penalty Day

On World Day Against the Death Penalty Day, i have never understood the hypocrisy of the state killing someone for killing someone because apart from being a show for other people
to hopefully act as a deterrent and satisfying a need for revenge, what does it do?
For the state to take a life as a punishment for taking a life doesn't seem a very civilised way of doing things but despite it being abolished in most continues, it still goes on and in 2017 there were 33 countries who dealt with their more unsavoury members of society by shooting, hanging, injecting or in some cases chopping their head of with a sword in the town centre.
Amnesty International have gathered together the statistics and the top state executor is China who refused to hand over the data but Amnesty consider the executed number is measured in the thousands.
The second highest state executor was Iran (507+) then Saudi Arabia (146), Iraq (125+), Pakistan (60+), Egypt (35+), Somalia (24+), USA(23) and Jordan (15). 
While 33 countries carried out executions in 2017, the Amnesty figure reflects a decline of use of the death penalty with 21 countries that did not carry out an execution despite not having abolished the death penalty.
It still means that that there are nearly five times as many countries not executing prisoners as those that still do and looking at the names of the countries on the list, some you are not surprised to see there while some you hope would be embarrassed to find themselves included with such company.

Memory - Elaine Paige

Of the millions of songs which have been recorded, only 30 songs can make it into The Lucy Museum of Musicians who deserve entry to Lucy's Museum of Musicians and at number 17 we have Memory by Elaine Paige (1981).

I have never seen the film Cats and i'm not one for show tunes generally but as i mentioned previously, i do love a song that starts quiet and grows and this is about as good as it gets for that. 
When the strings put in an appearance halfway through they catch you and then when they go up a notch with Elaine Paige's amazingly powerful voice, it's goose bumps up the spine time.
All that and Andrew Lloyd Webber's nostalgic lyrics about smiling at the old days and 'burnt out ends of smokey days' taken from a poem by T.S. Eliot, a beautiful song.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Western Morals & Saudi Arabia

Bit of an awkward moment for the US and UK over the apparent killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Arabian Consulate in Turkey.
Britain has demanded answers from the Saudi Arabians while Donald Trump has vowed 'severe punishment' if Saudi authorities were found to have played a role in killing Khashgoggi although both have ruled out imposing sanctions, halting arms sales and both nations will be still be turning up at a conference to be held at Riyadh, dubbed 'Davos in the desert'.
Neither have implied what punishment the Saudi's will face especially as they didn't seem overly concerned by the tens of thousands killed in Yemen by the weapons both nations had sold to Saudi Arabia so the death of one journalist isn't going to overly perturb them.
America's multi-billion arm deals and Britain's desperation for post Brexit deals will always mean blind eye's will be turned towards Saudi Arabia so severe punishment and demanding answers will mean nothing changes and everything will carry on as before which should be a lesson all the other tyrants currently stinking up the World should be quick to learn, the West's morals take a backseat if you spend enough money with us.

New Rose - The Damned

Of the millions of songs which have been recorded, only 30 songs can make it into The Lucy Museum of Musicians who deserve entry to Lucy's Museum of Musicians and at number 18 we have New Rose by The Damned (1976).

With a drummer called Rats Scabies and a bass player called Captain Sensible, you should know that you are going to get from The Damned and this is two and a half minutes of frantic energy, a stuttering three-chord riff, stomping drums and one of the best punk records to come from that era and is generally recognised as the UK's first punk single.
In contrast to some of the genre's barking, Dave Vanian actually sings but don't let this fool you because if your windows panes are not shaking then you are just not playing it at the required volume to do it justice.
Still going today, they probably don't get the acclaim they deserve and if he had bothered to turn up for the auditon, Sid Vicious was pencilled in to be the bands singer but as only Dave Vanian showed up, he got the job which as things turned out, was a good thing.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Summer Breeze - Seals & Croft

Of the millions of songs which have been recorded, only 30 songs can make it into The Lucy Museum of Musicians who deserve entry to Lucy's Museum of Musicians and at number 19 we have Summer Breeze Holiday by Seals & Croft (1972). 

Of all the seasons, Summer isn't my favourite but there are some decent songs regarding the season of wasp stings, sunburn and third degrees burn off your car seats and this is one of my favourites.
The Isley Brothers may be more connected to this song but it isn't a patch on the original Seals & Croft version which i first saw on the Old Grey Whistle test years after the song came out and i think was another commercial, this one for fabric softener. 
A great, simple, feel-good Summer song with a nice melody and good harmonies which romanticizes those long, sultry summer nights, sitting outside drinking something chilled and alcoholic rather than the reality which is sitting outside and spending five minutes slapping ants off your legs before running away from a large bee that seems to mistake your head for a sunflower.