Sunday, 20 August 2017

Take You Where?

Imagine you are sat in your garden one summer evening enjoying a Pimms and lemonade when over the trees and into your garden looms an interstellar spaceship and from it's bowels, a light shines from which a strange form is gradually lowered down and you find yourself face to face with an alien.
'I am an ambassador for Clor the Mighty of the 8th Grand Galactic Intra Demarcate' says the alien 'who would make it known to the natives of this world, that they are to be put on trial at the Sovereign Earthly Nations Court of Justice for crimes against the Universe so take me to your leader'.
'Blimey' you may say and wish that there was some sort of protocol for when aliens turn up unexpected and demand to be taken to our leader. 
The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society have been pondering the same thing and they think that World governments should be preparing a co-ordinated action plan in case alien crafts land on Earth.
They think the responsibility of acting on behalf of Earth should fall to the United Nations and a branch set up for 'supra-Earth affairs' to establish protocol structures.
The discussion is still on-going so no decision yet of who exactly the leader is that we should be directing them to but if they are holding an anal probe then there are a few World leaders you could direct them to as long as they promise not to bring them back afterwards.

Harking Back To A Better Time Musically

I was too young for the Sex Pistols and Ramones in the 70s but was perfectly placed age-wise in the late 80s and early 90s for Guns 'n' Roses and Nirvana who continue to be celebrated on the chests of teenagers today in the form of t-shirts. 
I regularly see T-shirt's of all four the previously mentioned bands who were doing their thing long before most of the wearers were even born which leads me to think that either these four in particular had such a profound effect on music that almost 40 years later in the case of the Pistols that they are still being listened to or that with the bands around today, the kids just don't have an equivalent.
I come down on the side of the latter because as a teenager i was one of so many teenagers who would sit in a garage with a guitar, practising the riffs from Blitzkreig Bop or Sweet Child o' Mine so who would teenagers try to emulate from the charts today?
Nobody i venture which is why even if they were too young to have experienced the band, decades later Nirvana, Guns 'n' Roses, The Sex Pistol's and The Ramones are still more of a household name as there are no bands or artists around today with the musical impact whose name will be sported on the t-shirts of kids 30 years from now.
I would also throw into the ring the fact that all four of these bands had huge characters with as front-men and today's bands don't, more likely to give a hotel room a bit of a going over with the vacuum then trash it.
The truth is we just don't make rock superstars anymore. The superstars of today, the ones who are sold as personalities, are carefully controlled Simon Cowell type identi-kit pop stars dishing out the standard ballads or cover versions. 
Punk came along to replace bands like ABBA and dislodge Disco and Grunge booted aside the Stock, Aitken and Waterman puppets such as Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue so we can only hope that in the pipeline is something to rudely push aside the Adele's, Rhianna's and Little Mix's of the current pop world who will be long forgotten and not appearing on the chest of anyone in 2047.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

General Lee And The Nazi's

Being away on my holidays, i haven't been following the Charlottesville protests and its aftermath very closely but from what i have seen, a bunch of extreme right wingers were protesting over the removal of a statue of an old pro-slavery General and another group of anti-racists and anti-fascists, who have been labelled as left wing for some reason, clashed and one deranged right winger drove his car into the protesters and killed a female.
Trump, a man so stupid you wouldn't trust him to face the right way on the toilet, sent out a tweet refusing to condemn the right wingers and even equated the anti-fascist protesters with the likes of the KKK and the Nazi flag wavers.
In the resulting furor over his refusal to condemn the people dishing out Nazi salutes, he did the old trick of throwing a dead cat onto the table in the shape of a sacked Steve Bannon to change the conversation away from his support for his base of right wing racists.
Trump, a fan of Adolf Hitler according to his ex-wife who revealed he was an avid reader of the Nazi leader and kept a book of his speeches next to their bed, has been widely condemned by most people who made the point that if you find yourself on the side of fascist Nazi's, you are probably on the wrong side.  
To me, General Lee was the name of the car in The Dukes of Hazard but he was also a General in the American Civil War who fought to maintain slavery so you may ask who would want a statue of a nasty old racist in their city anyway but that is an ongoing discussion over statues of hideous men who in the cold light of the 21st Century are seen in a very different light from previous generations.
The problem with having statues, especially of military personnel, is that the person involved is celebrated for the slaughter, or in the case of Lee the violent subjugation, of other people.
If we are going to celebrate anyone with a likeness in our towns and cities, it should be people who are genuine heroes who have helped mankind, not conquered, enslaved or killed as many as possible of them.
A good guide is if the people who want to keep the statue are chanting Nazi slogans, draping themselves in Swastika's and are driving their cars into groups of people, then the statue is probably not of someone who should be celebrated.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Look At The £3bn New Shooty Thing

Look everyone at the new shiny ship we have built.
No don't look at the £3 billion bill, just wave your little British flags and puff your chest out with pride that we may be skint and not have a money tree to fund the wages of police or nurses and have food-banks, cutbacks, closing facilities for the old, a criminally-underfunded NHS, social deprivation, high levels of homelessness and the highest levels of child-poverty in Europe but can still take billions from our dwindling tax coffers and spend it on a piece of massive military kit.
Rule Britannia and Britannia rules the waves and all that and a huge British aircraft carrier coming to an oil rich Muslim country soon (or as soon as we get our hands on some aircraft).

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Leninism, Stalinism and Trotskyism In A Nutshell

Of the three well known Russian Revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky is probably the least well known apart from the fact that he was name checked in a Strangler song and was killed by an ice pick.
Now that Tony Blair has come out as a former Trotskyite, interest has grown in the man and what he stood for and how it differed from Marxism explained here.
Fact is, Marxism is the idea put forward by Karl Marx of a community (hence the name Communism) which is ruled by the people for the benefit of all while Leninism, Stalinism and Trotskyism are the interpretations of the ways of achieving Marxism. 
A quick review of the Russian Revolution is required so we have Lenin, Stalin and Trotksy at the head of the Bolshevik Party who disposed the Royals and found themselves in charge and wondering what to do next. 
Lenin was the boss and he, Stalin and Trotsky decided what was required in order to achieve Communism would be the need to set up a ruling Party, named the Vanguard, to oversee the installation of Communism and which would then fade away in time to leave the workers in charge.
So far, everybody on the same Marxism page but now comes the difference because Marx said for Communism to succeed, it would need to spread around the capitalist nations of the World but Lenin wanted to ensure Communism was settled in Russia before spreading the ideal out to other countries, this is called Permanent Revolution as in a domino effect where there would always been one country following another into Communism.
Trotsky didn't want to wait and wanted to strike while the iron was hot and spread it far and wide while Stalin wanted to keep it only in Russia and to turn the vanguard party into a permanent Government.
Lenin and Trotsky therefore were together for the Permanent Revolution but Stalin was against the idea but they managed to keep the far more authoritarian Stalin subdued until Lenin died in 1924 and Stalin grabbed power, exiled Trotsky to Kazakhstan and executed almost all of the Party's Trotskyists in what become known as the Great Purges and effectively removed all of Trotsky's influence.
Stalinism took over and to stop Trotsky's continued criticism of Stalin's rule, after several assassination attempts, he succeeded and he died in his Mexican home from a pick axe to the head in 1940.
Trotskyism then is the idea by Leon Trotsky that the Marxist theory should be spread around the World rather than only one state.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

UK To Join Another Misguided American Conflict?

In recent history Great Britain has made several wrongheaded decisions to join American Presidents in their military adventures, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are sores that refuse to heal and Britain could easily have stayed out of.
Now that easily the worst US President in living memory is threatening to unleash fire and fury on North Korea, the question to ask is will Britain be joining in the mass slaughter of North Korean's?
Britain, also known as America’s lap dog after Blair's pandering to GW Bush, could formally refuse any call for help in waging war against Kim Jong Un as membership of NATO does not automatically oblige it to participate in a conflict as Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty which states that an attack on one NATO member is an act of aggression against the entire military alliance,
is limited only to attacks on member states’ territories in North America, Europe and the Atlantic.
Britain itself found this out when Margaret Thatcher attempted to invoke NATO’s collective self-defence provision over the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands.
The US, however, could exercise pressure to ensure Britain’s support in any military confrontation with North Korea as Britain is planning for an extensive trade deal with the US to soften the blow of Brexit and wouldn't want to jeopardise that by not backing America in yet another military adventure.
As Britain has been at America's side at every ill-conceived conflict since 2001, it is likely that Britain will need no pressure and we could be heading towards another misguided American led conflict that we have no business, or need, to be involved in.

Another Problem With Electric Cars

We are starting to see more and more electric cars on our streets but i came across a previous unthought of problem this afternoon while crossing the street, they are silent.
I got to the crossing just as the lights were turning back to amber and there sat a car, i looked at the driver, the driver looked at me and i thought that as his car was not making any noise, he had broken down or stalled at the lights.
Assuming i would have time to cross as he would have to re-start his engine, i stepped out just as he pulled away, silently.
I jumped back, apologised and waited for the next green man to flash but apart from me trying to cross roads, i can see silent cars being an issue, more so for pedestrians, especially visually impaired ones, and cyclists who rely on hearing approaching cars.
With the Government recently announcing that petrol and diesel vehicles are to be consigned to history on British roads by 2040 and the price of buying an electric vehicle tumbling, a tonne of metal travelling silently at 30mph around our streets is already causing problems with a report from the Guide Dogs charity found a 54% increase in pedestrian injuries in accidents involving quiet cars.
The EU have ruled that car builders must incorporate artificial sound generators in their cars by 2021 but 4 years seems quite a way in the future when people are being injured now.
Guess for the next few years when i cross the road i will just have to adhere less to the 'Listen' part of the 'Stop, Look and Listen' mantra we had drummed into us as children.

Factually Wrong Song Lyrics

I recently read a blog post where the author lambasted Alanis Morissette for her use of the word 'Ironic' in her song, pointing out that rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you've already paid or good advice that you just didn't take isn't ironic at all as irony is 'using language that normally signifies the opposite'.
I pointed out in return that he was 22 years too late as she was suitably hit over the head with it back in 1995 when the song came out to which the reply was that the author was only 22 which is fair enough as he would have been preoccupied with filling his nappy and dribbling at the time and missed the whole thing.
There are some song lyrics which do make you wonder why nobody fact checked them before they were released, U2's 'Pride' has a line about Martin Luther King getting shot: 'Early morning, April 4/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky' although he was shot in the evening.
The Band Aid signal 'Do They Know It's Christmas' is a charity single which raised millions for drought striken Africa so it feels churlish to point out that the line sung by Paul Weller, Sting and Boy George that 'there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time' is wrong unless Morocco is no longer in the continent as it snows every winter in Morocco.
There is also 'Where nothing ever grows/No rain or rivers flow' when the continent has the second longest river in the Nile winding through it along with the Congo river but as it was for charity we can let them slide .
Unfortunately we can't do the same for RUN DMC who rapped: 'There's three of us, but we're not the Beatles' in their King of Rock single which shows a real blind spot either for counting or the most famous four-peice in music.
Pink Floyd singing 'We Don't Need No Education' in their song ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ shows that in using a double negative they badly do need education and it probably wouldn't be wise to go orienteering with The Who as who knows what sort of crazy compass they were using when they came up with the lyric 'The north side of my town faced east and the east was facing south' in their
song 'Substitute'.
The song 'Catch a Falling Star' tells you to not only catch it but to then put it in your pocket although the next line should warn you that as it has just reached a heat of 3,000F or 1,650C falling through the atmosphere, it will probably burn straight through your leg if you did.
Such disregard for all thing astronomical is also present in 'Save the Best for Last' where Vanessa Williams tells us 'Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon' which it doesn't and Christopher Cross in Arthur’s Theme tells us what to do 'When you get caught between the moon and New York City'. He suggest fall in love but as the moon is about 240,000 miles away which would put you 120,000 miles out in space if you are caught between New York and the Moon, i would suggest screaming while you fall to your death as more appropriate.
Lions are nocturnal and sleep during the day so 'In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight' is misleading, as is Sade's Smooth Operator song which contains a blunder obvious to anyone with a map of America when she says: 'Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago' although 'Coast to somewhere just past the middle' probably doesn't have the same ring to it. 
Napoleon didn't surrender at Waterloo, he was captured by the British weeks later trying to sneak off to North America so you shouldn't trust Swedish singers with British and French history and literacy lessons from Sam Cooke should be avoided as in 'Another Saturday Night' he describes being set up with a girl who: 'had a strange resemblance to a cat named Frankenstein' so unless he meant that she looked like the mad scientist Dr Frankenstein who created the monster, he got that wrong. 
I'm sure there are many more inaccuracies which have slipped through the net but Wang Chung's 'Dancehall Days' with 'Take your baby by the wrist/And in her mouth an amethyst' and Oasis's 'Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball' in Champagne Supernova
always leave me wondering.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Happy Birthday Global Recession

Today seems to have been chosen as the tenth birthday of the sinking of the global economy with collapsing banks, unemployment soaring, governments going bust and ushering in a decade of austerity measures.
The 9th August 2007 was the day that a French bank admitted it pulled the plug on investments in US property which sparked a recession so deep that it continues to reverberate on the 9th August 2017.
The crisis ripped a huge hole in the many nation's finances and in Britain severe austerity measures followed but are now on the brink of being abandoned as the total debt pile is still rising and currently stands at a whopping £1.7 trillion, almost 90% of the UK's total national income and double the amount of debt when austerity began.
The argument is that the decade of austerity has actually weakened the economy hence the u-turn now but with recessions being a constant part of Capitalism, that the politicians, regulators, and financiers are trying to put a sticking plaster over it so they can carry on as before rather than find ways to stop a similar catastrophe befalling the system should be a cause for concern.
The experts are saying that in 2007 the economies of Australia, Belgium, China, Canada and South Korea avoided the worst of the crisis and helped to steady the World's economic ship but even they can not avoid the next one which is being talked about as we are still suffering from the last one and we know is coming because it is inevitable that another devastating collapse is coming because the system used collapses with such alarming regularity and consequences every decade.

No Nuclear WInter Coming Soon

One of the concerns when Donald Trump because President was that he would have access to the American nuclear arsenal but the thought was that even he wouldn't be so moronic to actually get his little hands near the red button but in a moment of typical Trump ego stroking he has escalated a crisis with nuclear armed North Korea.
Within a couple of hours of Donald Trump's warning not to make any more threats, on penalty of 'fire and fury', North Korea made yet another detailed threat that they were carefully examining plans to strike the US territory of Guam.
Seems he is plenty stupid enough after all to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war and scarily the decisions are being made by two imbeciles posturing and putting many lives at risk in defence of their own ego's.
As Kim Jung Un justifies his nuclear ambitions as defending his nation from a rampant United States who go around bombing nations to bring about regime change, Trump's infantile bluster has made his point for him as it is exactly what he is saying he will do.
In his deluded mind, Trump probably thinks that by ratcheting up the rhetoric and threatening to rain down fire and fury will bring the Communist leaders begging for talks and renouncing its nuclear ambitions.
Except they won't but neither will either send the World into a nuclear winter as as dumb and foolhardy as Trump and Jung Un may be, both know that if things escalate beyond the current shouting match, everybody loses.  
Donald Trump knows that minutes after the first missile lands in North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the western seaboard of the United States will be devastated while Kim knows that attacking Guam would be suicide for him, his regime and his country which would be swiftly annihilated.
The Mutually Assured Destruction that did so much to keep the Cold War from turning Hot is back in play but the rhetoric is good for both leaders as it justifies the young Kim's view and by Trump cranking up the North Korean threat to eleven, it distracts from his ever increasing problems at home.