Month: October 2007


I have a sort of a scary but true story for Halloween, a little vid and question.

Question first…

Until fairly recently the ‘trick or treat’ thing didn’t happen here in the same way. People would go door to door but you had to say a little poem or something if you wanted anything. 

However, unfortunately, due to the ever-blurring monoculture I can’t remember the form. The person whose house it was would say something when they opened the door but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. 

Anyone got any ideas?

Now the story. A different kind of scary story but scary nonetheless.

This story is about the old saying ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’.

When I was at school we were supposed to wear a uniform. As uniforms went it wasnt so bad. It was black, white and gold – the school next door had an all brown one and they used to take a fair amount of verbal abuse for it.

Anyway, I used to refuse to wear the uniform and so was always in trouble. However, because I usually did well in my classes I was never treated the way that some of the kids who were in different sorts of trouble were.

There was a long-sleeved t-shirt I used to wear quite often that was the cover of the newspaper on the day that MLK was shot.

One of the boys in this catholic school came up to me semi-outraged and said “what are you wearing that for – he is the one that invented protestants.”

That was about 17 years ago and I still don’t think I know how to respond to that!  

Now the video – which is a sketch that hints at what I asked in the question but doesn’t answer it.



Monbiot’s latest article

The Road Well Travelled

Are we already shutting our minds to the consequences of climate change?

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 30th October 2007

A few weeks ago I read what I believe is the most important environmental book ever written. It is not Silent Spring, Small is Beautiful or even Walden. It contains no graphs, no tables, no facts, figures, warnings, predictions or even arguments. Nor does it carry a single dreary sentence, which, sadly, distinguishes it from most environmental literature. It is a novel, first published a year ago, and it will change the way you see the world.

Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road considers what would happen if the world lost its biosphere, and the only living creatures were humans, hunting for food among the dead wood and soot. Some years before the action begins, the protagonist hears the last birds passing over, “their half-muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl.”(1) McCarthy makes no claim that this is likely to occur, but merely speculates about the consequences.



There is more and more of this sort of thing going on. There was a staged news briefing broadcast by Fox and others.

Here is the Democracy Now report on it. The apology FEMA gives is one of the ‘only sorry we got caught’ kind of apologies.

It is not just in the USA. The BBC has been caught doing similar things as have other people. There was also the Gannon/Guckert thing and let us not forget the staged press conference Bush had a couple of years ago.


I was reminded of this event tonight and just wanted to write up the story.

After I finished the time in the village in Nepal where I was volunteering, myself and a couple of friends had a couple of weeks just to hang out before we went home. Some of what we would have got up to was curtailed by a general strike but as I have also written, we didn’t let it stop us too much.

Anyway, at a time when the strike wasn’t on, after a big night out me and my similarly shorthaired friend went for breakfast. It was about 10am Nepali time and here is the view from whereabouts in Kathmandu we were eating…


We were eating breakfast and minding our own business when a guy who did not look like the average Nepali decided to come and speak to us. He had a suit and a gold chain around his wrist and was prominently displaying his mobile phone, which is a thing not a lot of people had in that country when I was there.

He invited himself over to our table and began to talk, asking us where we were from what we did etc. The question he really wanted an answer to was how soon we were going home, which happened to be very soon.

That got him interested.

He asked us if we would be interested in taking something to London for him. At this point my friend and I exchanged a glance that meant a lot. ‘No’, we were saying, ‘neither of us is that stupid… but… lets hear what his bullshit story is before we tell him to f*ck off’, much more interesting that way – and it gives you something to blog about (even if it happened years before you knew what a blog was).

He wanted us to take what he assured us was only £2000 worth of jewellery through customs undeclared for him – which he said was entirely legal. I doubt it was only £2000 worth but that is beside the point.

“What for?” I asked him.

“An exhibition.”

“A jewellery exhibition?”


Hmmm. So we decided to let him talk his nonsense and after a few minutes more his prominent mobile rang. Some sort of pretend conversation began which seemed to involve him trying to find as many ways as possible to include the word ‘exhibition’ in a sentence.

He finished his pretend conversation and turned to us and said…

“That was the exhibition.”

“In London?”


“Wait a minute, it is 10am here which means it is 5am in London.”

—quick as a flash—

“it is 24 hour.”

“A 24 hour jewellery exhibition?”


Hmmm. I don’t know about you but I have never came across or even heard of such a thing.

After a few more random pieces of nonsense from the chap he finally popped the question and asked if we were going to do it.

“No, we are washing our hair that day.”

He wasn’t entirely amused when we laughed him out of the place.


Britain is to remain one of the few places in Europe where parents are allowed to hit their children.

The BBC says

Laws on smacking in England and Wales were tightened in 2004 to stop parents and carers who assaulted children using “reasonable punishment” as a defence….

Under the 2004 Children’s Act, which came into force in January 2005 mild smacking is allowed but any punishment which causes visible bruising, grazes, scratches, minor swellings or cuts can result in action…

Children’s Minister Kevin Brennan said

“about 70%” of parents did not want a ban on smacking and did not want a mild smack to result in a parent being criminalised.

“I think that is the common sense position and we’ve decided to keep that, and are happy that strikes the right balance.”

Aside from the unfortunate use of the phrase “strik[ing] a balance” I wonder if anyone actually stopped to ask the children what they thought about it?

I saw this story and it just made me think about premise 4 of Derrick Jensen’s Endgame

  • Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

Regarding the above, here is what happened when a 5 year old girl hit back…

9. For having a tantrum… US cops handcuffed an unruly 5-year-old girl after she played up in class. After being placed in the back of a police car, she was released when her mother turned up and they said they wouldn’t bring charges against the child – which was very decent of them, dontcha think? 495, 29 April 2005