most people realised
that they were governed by headless chickens,
many of whom were elected !
Thursday, 31 December 2020
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
Monday, 28 December 2020
the word wrack appears as a verb.
Dear authors (and journalists)
WRACK (noun) is a type of seaweed
seen around many shores.
There is no verb.
TO RACK (verb) wine, brains or bodies
means (1) to separate sediment in wine by turning bottles
sitting horizontally in a supporting structure
known as a wine-rack;
(2) to torture by means of stretching the body
limb from limb on an apparatus
known as a rack, which was very popular
in mediæval and 'renaissance' Europe.
Jars of spices may rest upon a spice-rack
but (as with a toast-rack)
neither removal of sediment nor torture is involved.
against Covid were developed with amazing speed,
but there will never be inoculation
against even-more-amazing hypocrisy and greed.
Sunday, 27 December 2020
Saturday, 26 December 2020
as I - one of the world's obscenely privileged -
keep a roof above my head
my Best Friend will remain
my sweet, faithful Bed.
Meanwhile, excavations in Pompeii have revealed
a Roman snack-bar.
|Parco Archeologico Di Pompei/EPA|
Friday, 25 December 2020
has turned into The Emperor's
Politics is, of course, childish.
But, of course, 'someone has to do it'.
The weakness of democracy
is that it depends upon a well-informed
and intelligent electorate,
which is rare
and may soon be taken into care.
Thursday, 24 December 2020
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
Monday, 21 December 2020
Sunday, 20 December 2020
just 651 American billionaires have gained $1tn of wealth.
With this windfall they could send a $3,000 cheque to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.
Don’t hold your breath."
- Robert Reich in The Observer today.
Saturday, 19 December 2020
"While the [British] miners were on strike in 1926 [against reduction of pay] a great many people were moved to listen to their case.
Certain high ecclesiastical dignitaries went even so far as to offer to mediate between the mine-owners and the miners.
They were convinced that the terms the coal owners weree attempting to impose upon the miners were unreasonable and would entail much suffering and poverty for hundreds of thousands of miners' homes.
Their efforts failed. The miners were beaten and driven back to work under disgraceful conditions.
"For years these conditions continued. But were those high church dignitaries moved to intervene then ?
Not at all. For them the problem was solved. It had never consisted in the suffering of the miners, but in the fact that the miners were still able to struggle, and therefore created a problem for the rest of the community.
The problem was not their suffering but their struggle."
- Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear (1952)
More from that excellent book:
Friday, 18 December 2020
"The basic element I admire in Christianity is its sense of moral failure.
That is its very foundation.
For once you’re conscious of personal failure,
then perhaps in future you become a little less fallible."
(from a conversation reported by Nicholas Shakespeare)
The family name of the spellbinding painter van Gogh
does not rhyme with dough,
nor dog, nor rogue, nor with loch (or lough),
and that of the wickedly-saintly Brâncuși
rhymes more with pushy than pussy
or (God forbid!) floozie.
Thursday, 17 December 2020
(and, in another sense, houses)
civilisation broke in
and broke our brains,
crushing our natural humanity
with property and fences
and imperative inequality.
Wednesday, 16 December 2020
Reason tells us that reason is more rational than instinct.
The application of reason shows us that most of what we call instinct
in humans is learned and instilled behaviour.
Reason tells us that instinct in animals is rational.
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
and have never owned a receiver :
When I was a kid, people visited each other
to play Whist and Bridge; there were Whist-drives,
and Bridge-drives - there even were Beetle-drives.
Then came Canasta which I played for hours
with my schoolfriends, Monopoly too,
then Scrabble. In 1960 my mother and I played
Bézique on the grubby train from Paris to Venice.
I loved Bézique because it, like Pinochle, was a game
that two people could play and enjoy.
TV almost killed off social games not played for money;
the hygienic internet has re-introduced them -
antisocially. No-one and nobody's mother will bring you
a cup of tea or of coffee with biscuits, nor a glass of sherry
or grappa or raki - nothing to make the occasion more merry.
Monday, 14 December 2020
With taps for flushing, domestic washbasins
make perfect urinals for men -
yet we are expected to stand and aim
accurately into a lavatory-bowl -
a feat seldom achieved by the insouciant young
and fairly old.
Sunday, 13 December 2020
Saturday, 12 December 2020
we changed the landscape,
of animals and plants.
We may not yet be near the end
of our anti-evolutionary trance.
(along with boat-building anf fire-burning)
been our principal weapons of the fast destruction
Friday, 11 December 2020
Thursday, 10 December 2020
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Tuesday, 8 December 2020
is the only viable (because peaceable)
to the power of ghetto-thinking.
Say you had enough money at your disposal
to save ten thousand square miles
of rain forest (2,590,000 hectares :
smaller than Belgium, larger than Wales)
or build (anywhere in the world) a brand-new hospital,
and you had to make a choice -
which, dear fellow-human, would you opt for ?
(Above the cacophony of industry,
do you hear the planet's still, small voice ?)
Monday, 7 December 2020
not only matter: they are all the rage !
Or, as we say in French, le dernier cri.
From a blog:
'I think this might be dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica.) That’s an unfortunate name for a very interesting bit of nature. In the plasmodium stage this slime mold is transparent before it goes on to become a sponge-like mass called an aethalium, which is pictured here. An aethalium is a “large, plump, pillow-shaped fruiting body.” This is also called scrambled egg slime mold because in Mexico, when it is in its plasmodium stage, it is collected and eaten like scrambled eggs. This is usually done on nights with the light of a full moon so the transparent plasmodium can be more easily seen.'
You could have moved house in this one.
|photo by Jimmy Cram on FlickR|
Maybe even now: the tyres aren't bad...
Sunday, 6 December 2020
I'm more ashamed of being white
The last time I smoked Weed
(just one lungful of a local cultivar)
I felt exactly as I did when I was five:
a puzzled visitor from afar,
not quite sure of what or where I was
and ignorant of the buzz which must have been around me
(Her spoiled bastard; the handless critter;
needs toughening up; needs the corners knocked off him;
needs a man to take him in hand
and show him what is what...)
They got their way - except that I did not
have the corners knocked off me:
they got sharper.
Psychedelics can be
wonderfully, usefully revealing, in the right place
at the right time, in the right 'set'.
Saturday, 5 December 2020
before I dared to 'dog-ear' a book.
Since then I have not only marked pages with 'dog-ears'
but corrected typos, spelling mistakes, misquotations,
fake French... I have even written comments
in margins and title-pages -
sometimes even in books from a public library...
Yes, I know - I should (even at this late stage in my life)
curb my infantile (?) compulsion to be contrary.
Behind the false-face of equality
lies fake diversity.
Behind that mask
is nothing, nullity.
(inspired by lines written by Fernando Pessoa in April 1933)
Friday, 4 December 2020
Thursday, 3 December 2020
there is a bizarre, much-quoted exhortation:
'Save one [life, soul] and save the world'
- which to me makes less sense than
'Arbeit macht frei'.
Millions find a kind of freedom (usually from family, or starvation) in work,
though not, of course, in the forced labour unto death
of the Gulag Archipelago or Auschwitz/Birkenau -
and not on the Sabbath, because the prophet Ezekiel declared
that those who work on the day of rest
should no longer be permitted to draw breath.
Wednesday, 2 December 2020
and quickly seized the inadequate words that were closest to hand
to pin it down, lest it fly away again.
But it fluttered and flapped and died in those arid words,
and now I hardly know when I look at this sorry little corpse
how I could ever have felt so happy when I caught it."
.– Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
is the many-millennia-long, slow collapse of co-operativeness
and corruption of altruism
of which capitalism is only a very recent symptom
- and engine.
What makes me human is my regret at being (human).
* * *
The problem with suicide as a philosophical principle
is to judge the appropriate moment - which is not easy
when, despite swimming in the moral and political shit,
I am feeling buoyant, calm and happy,
and (for my age) very fit.