The Encroaching Dark (be warned: this is pretty bleak)

It’s perfectly natural – it’s built into our genes – to act to protect, as best we can, our progeny.

But all creatures are related, interdependent; and cousins should be more kind to each other.

The super-rich were the first to see what was coming. Even those who weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed were freed of the need to struggle from day to day, and had the freedom, the leisure time, to reflect.

Some saw the inevitability of the storm on the horizon years in advance. Some recognised it decades earlier. All knew that control was crucial; and so, they used their wealth to leverage their power. They gamed the system to funnel ever more into their own coffers, while at the same time acting to misinform the masses – perhaps, in their own own minds, they justified this to ‘prevent panic’.

As the global crisis deepened, crops failed on a massive scale. Even those in the ‘Civilized West’ found their supermarket shelves bare, and began to starve. Governments acted, imposing severe rationing. But that did not suffice. The people were offered the choice of avoiding death by starvation by opting for euthenasia, and were rewarded for their sacrifice with increased rations for their nearest and dearest.

Temporarily.

The Resource Wars were brutal. Billions died in agony.

All the while, temperatures mounted, inexorably.

Overfished and polluted, the oceans’ incipient dead zones spread. Algae bloomed, sucking life-giving oxygen from the atmosphere. The dying seas, no longer a source, became instead a stagnating, stinking sink.

The world’s forests and jungles burned to ashes, and the glaciers and ice caps melted.

Secure in their faith, the religious continued to maintain that God had promised never again to flood the land. Yet still the waters rose.

When life outside became utterly unbearable, the elite abandoned their personal jets and helicopters, their expensive yachts and their expansive mansions, and fled to their hermetically sealed bunkers. As civilization fell, they survived… for a time.

Oxygen generators and water recyclers were repaired continuously – and spare parts stocks dwindled.

Then, blight afflicted their hydroponic crops.

When the lights finally went out, they waited in the dark for the end.

Word count: 360

Posted in ... wait, what?, Core thought, Flash fiction, GCD: Global climate disruption, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Climate change: it wasn’t me, it was the other fellah

This news is half a year old. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen nothing about it at all on mainstream media. (Could that possibly have anything to do with that being controlled by the same greedy lying folk profiting from killing our planet, I wonder? Perhaps I shouldn’t say that, as it sounds too much like a conspiracy theory.)

tl;dr Greenpeace set up a sting operation in which they tricked Keith McCoy, Senior Director of Federal Relations at ExxonMobil, into bragging about how they’d deliberately set out to fool us all that climate change was a hoax so as to continue profiting from their polluting activities. Instead of firing him, ExxonMobil put out a tweet suggesting that the comments made by their senior director of federal relations, the man whose literal job it is to represent the company’s position, didn’t represent the company’s position.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Exxon Lobbyist Caught on Camera Going Full Cartoon Villain by Climate Town

Note: there are several ‘Microsoft-error’ tones in this video. I’m not sure why they chose to use that note, but don’t panic (as I did, at first): they’re on the audio track, not your machine.

Rollie Williams: Well, it’s time to crack open a cold one and then pour a little out for the end of an era here at ExxonMobil. That’s right; for 30 years, Exxon has been accused of funding disinformation campaigns and paying off politicians and lying about climate change; and for 30 years, they’ve had one response:

It Wasn’t Me.”

It’s the classic Shaggy defense, and it’s been incredibly effective for Exxon because all of their senior leadership has stuck to the ‘Wasn’t Me’ strategy and their army of lawyers and money has been able to use this blanket denial to fight off any legal challenges… until June of 2021, when ExxonMobil was, to borrow a phrase from Shaggy, “caught butt-naked banging on the bathroom floor” in an undercover sting operation by Greenpeace activists.

Greenpeace contacted ExxonMobil Senior Director of Federal Relations, a man named Keith McCoy, and pretended to be from a Middle Eastern oil company PR firm that wanted to hire McCoy for a cushy new job. But first, they wanted to know how in the heck Exxon was able to avoid accountability for all of their actions, and Keith McCoy – in full HD – confessed to like eight different cartoon-villain-level evil plots that ExxonMobil had spearheaded to delay action on climate change. Thirty years of ‘Wasn’t Mes’ up in smoke in a single Zoom call.

Keith McCoy: Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Carbon tax isn’t going to happen, but it gives us a talking point that we can say, “Well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.” They start talking about how this is an ExxonMobil chemical and ExxonMobil is poisoning our waterways: we need congressman so-and-so to introduce this bill; we need him to make a floor statement; we need him to send a letter; you name it, we’ve asked for everything.

Rollie Williams: Keith McCoy spent the better part of an hour speed-confessing, so there’s a lot to unpack, and I urge you to check out the many stories that actual good journalists have written – links in the description [of the YouTube video] – but for me, there were three specific turbo-confessions that I think were particularly important.

Shaggy: ~These are my confessions~ [1]

Rollie Williams: Right out of the gates, if you ever find yourself using the term ‘shadow group’ to describe your business associates, you’re probably not the good guys.

Keith McCoy: Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true. Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes, we were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders.

Rollie Williams: In this context, a shadow group is when you, or someone you know, sets up a ‘separate group’ that you then fund to promote fake or misleading scientific conclusions that support your preferred conclusion. Shadow groups are basically how people catfished each other before Facebook, and Keith McCoy just admitted that Exxon used shadow groups to trick people into thinking climate change was fake so they could keep making their insane profits. And that’s especially Cruella de Vil style f***ed when you consider the fact that Exxon has known climate change is real for over 40 years – as demonstrated from internal documentation going back to July of 1977, where Exxon scientist Dr. James Black held an internal meeting explicitly warning the top executives about it. I made a whole video about this, and you can watch it on my channel if you f***ing feel like it.

But the tl;dr is that in the nineties, Exxon switched to a deny and delay strategy not unlike Big Tobacco. Oh, fun fact – no, not fun, but fact fact: ExxonMobil actually used some of the same exact experts that Big Tobacco used when they tried to convince people that smoking cigarettes didn’t give you cancer, even though they had a mountain of evidence that said, “it super did.”

You ever seen The Matrix?

Matt Nelsen: Yeah.

Rollie Williams: Déjà vu.

Matt Nelsen: Have you ever seen The Matrix?

Rollie Williams: Yeah – no, wait, which one is The Matrix? Whoopi Goldberg and she can see ghosts, right?

And if you want an independent explanation of what a shadow group is, feel free to visit www-dot-shadowgroupexplanationdefinitelynotclimatetownrelated-dot-com [not a real site – well, not currently, anyway]. And while you’re at it, consider subscribing to me on Patreon, a thing that will not give you cancer. Wait…

Shaggy: ~These are my confessions~ [2]

Keith McCoy: Carbon tax isn’t going to happen, but it gives us a talking point that we can say, “Well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.”

Rollie Williams: The senior director of federal policy admits on camera that they only support a carbon tax because they know it won’t pass and they can use their fake support of it as a talking point.

No clue who this is: Oh my God! He admitted it!

Rollie Williams: Actually, do we have a Shaggy reference we can use here?

Shaggy: Even got me on camera?

Rollie Williams: They even got him on camera. Thank you, Shaggy.

Anyway, a carbon tax is actually a very effective way to fight climate change. It’s basically a pollution tax that says let’s charge companies a fee for every ton of carbon dioxide pollution they emit. Companies will be incentivized to reduce their own carbon emissions to reduce the fees they pay, and we can let the precious free market solve the problem. Countries like England and Sweden already have a carbon tax, and guess what? It actually works. So, when a bunch of Big Oil companies like Exxon started promoting a carbon tax in recent years, it turned a lot of heads. Maybe these Big Oil companies aren’t trying to delay climate change and are ready to help tackle the problem, a thing they explicitly state on their websites.

But it turns out none of that’s true. Apparently, ExxonMobil just did the math and found out that in today’s political climate, there’s no way to get 60 senators, including 10 Republicans, to vote in favor of actual climate policy. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take it away, senior director of federal relations at ExxonMobil.

Keith McCoy: It’s going to take political courage, political will in order to get something done, and that doesn’t exist in politics. It just doesn’t.

Greenpeace stinger: It’s basically never going to happen, right, is the calculation?

Keith McCoy: No, it’s not. It’s not. A carbon tax isn’t gonna happen.

Rollie Williams: And they’ve been running this carbon tax hustle for over a decade. Here’s former CEO and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (remember that?) Talking about the carbon tax back in 2009:

Rex Tillerson: A revenue neutral carbon tax, though, has the advantage of being well focused for achieving our society’s shared goals of reducing emissions over the long term carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax – carbon tax. Now, some people have suggested that a revenue carbon tax has no chance of gaining sufficient support in Congress to become a law. I disagree with this assessment.

Keith McCoy: Carbon tax isn’t going to happen. It’s an easy talking point.

Rollie Williams: So, since the carbon tax was the only climate policy ExxonMobil would get behind, and a lie detector test determined that was a lie, Exxon probably shouldn’t be trusted when it comes to the current climate policy legislation being debated, AKA the third confession.

Shaggy: ~These are my confessions~ [3]

Rollie Williams: If you’ve spent much time in America, you’ll notice that our infrastructure doesn’t hold up to extreme weather… or mild weather… or no weather. And there’s this huge infrastructure package going through Congress right now that would help rebuild America in a more resilient way, create a ton of jobs and help a ton of people. But it would require a bunch of multibillion dollar corporations to actually pay their taxes – and that’s where Exxon draws the line.

Keith McCoy: We’re playing defense because President Biden is talking about this big infrastructure package, and he’s going to pay for it by increasing corporate taxes.

Rollie Williams: And their strategy is to go after the more vulnerable senators, both Democratic [sic] and Republican. A ‘vulnerable’ senator is someone who’s up for re-election and would maybe lose that race if Exxon decided to fund their competition. You know what? Keith McCoy actually describes this a lot better. Do we have footage of that?

Keith McCoy: On the Democrat side, we look for the moderates on these issues; So, it’s the Manchins, it’s the Sinemas, it’s the Testers. Joe Manchin, I talk to his office every week; he is the kingmaker on this because he’s a Democrat from West Virginia, which is a very conservative state. Who is up for re-election in 2022? That’s Hassan, that’s Kelly. I can’t worry about the 2027 class because they’re not focused on re-election. The 2022 class is focused on re-election, so I know I have them. Those are the Marco Rubios; those are the Senator Kennedys; those are the Senator Daines. So, you can have those conversations with them because they’re a captive audience. They know they need you and I need them.

Rollie Williams: They’re also going after Democratic Senator Chris Coons from Delaware. Now, why would they be going after –

Keith McCoy: Senator Coons, who’s from Delaware, who has a very close relationship with Biden. So we’ve been working with his office; matter of fact, our CEO is talking to him next Tuesday.

Rollie Williams: And you know what? It’s already working for Exxon because that two trillion dollar infrastructure plan has stalled and gotten broken down into a smaller $550 billion plan that really only includes roads, bridges and some utilities. You know, I wonder if a certain Exxon sting operation can shed any light onto that.

Keith McCoy: If you start to stick to roads and bridges and instead of a two trillion dollar bill, it’s a $800 billion bill. If you lower that threshold, you stick to highways and bridges then a lot of the negative stuff starts to come out. Why would you put in a something on emissions reductions on climate change to oil refineries in a highway bill? People say, “Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense that shouldn’t be in this bill.”

Rollie Williams: Just terrific stuff. And it was almost the perfect crime. You just made one tiny mistake. You miked yourself up, got in front of your own camera and confessed all of this for an hour to a man you barely knew at the prospect of maybe making some extra money. Well, obviously Exxon is caught. I mean, how could they possibly…?

Rollie Williams: No… no way. No way. No fucking way.

Shaggy: [unintelligible]

Rollie Williams: Yeah, after Greenpeace released these videos, Exxon dusted off a classic and just said “It Wasn’t Me” again, and you gotta admire the absolute commitment to the bid. It is a real power move to say that your senior director of federal relations, a man whose literal job it is to represent your company’s position, doesn’t represent your company’s position. And just to stick the landing on this whole, “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy Runner, Exxon denying it a second time is like if the woman from the Shaggy song had then heard the original Shaggy song in which they explicitly detail their plans to lie to her, and then she confronted them about that, and instead of confessing, Shaggy then wrote and recorded a second song called “It Wasn’t Me too” and released it on Twitter.

And if any of this statement is even remotely true… How do I say this? Why does Keith McCoy still work at Exxon? I mean, if he was some kind of liar who went rogue and said a bunch of dangerous and incriminating lies about your company, all while interviewing for a different job, wouldn’t he have been fired? Of course he would have. If you’re a fry cook at McDonald’s and you interview for a job at Taco Bell in which you get caught on camera saying you sh*t on the fries every night – you get fired. If Keith McCoy had been lying about all of this, they probably would have fired him, but they didn’t; because he was probably telling the truth. And ExxonMobil has an amazing strategy when it comes to the truth: they deny it until it blows over, then they gather all of it up and dump it in the ocean. But of course they were going to just deny it, because that’s a winning strategy for them, and it works so well because our elected representatives, both Republican and Democrat, won’t stop taking money and meetings from Exxon-f*cking-Mobil. So, bravo to you, Exxon, for bravely launching a secret lobbying campaign to once again prevent action on climate change. And, er, what was the reason again?

Keith McCoy: You know, we were looking out for our investments.

Rollie Williams: Now, maybe it’s not usually your thing, but if you found any of what I’ve said compelling, I’ve taken the liberty of putting the phone numbers and contact information of all of these vulnerable senators in the description of this video. If you have a chance to give them a call and let them know that you think it’s unacceptable to take money and meetings with Exxon, I think that might really help them out. Who are those senators again, Keith?

Keith McCoy: Joe Manchins; the Sinemas, it’s the Testers; Senator Capito, Hassan, that’s Kelly, the Senator Coons; those are the Marco Rubio, Senator Kennedy, the Senator Daines.

Rollie Williams: So if you are thinking about picking up your phone and calling these people do it quick because they’re still working on climate legislation in a different infrastructure bill, which would only actually need 50 votes to pass through budget reconciliation. What am I, f*ck, pod save America? But that would only work if all the Democratic senators and maybe even some Republican senators don’t cave to bad faith lobbying efforts by people like Keith McCoy. So, please, contact our senators. All of them. Get weird with it if you want you. Better yet, invite some friends over, get drunk and just go to town on these guys. And if that’s not really your speed, just get educated on the climate crisis. Maybe even join some local organizations like Citizens Climate Lobby, The Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org… the list goes on. Because if you’re starting to worry about climate change and you think our system is not that well-equipped to handle it, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: what was the point of getting it on camera if we’re just going to let them say, “It wasn’t me”? It was you. We got it on camera!

Rollie Williams1: Well, that was about four minutes longer than it needed to be, huh? Seriously, thank you so much for watching; I really appreciate it and I’m going to keep making more videos. But if you do want to support the channel, I just started a Climate Town Patreon page and the link is in the bio.
Rollie Williams2: Wait, people have to pay for these videos now?
Rollie Williams1: Oh, no, they’re still all on YouTube for free; this would just be if you wanted to, like, help me make them faster and better. Oh, also exclusive behind-the-scenes content and interviews, and, like, stuff that gets cut from the final videos.
Rollie Williams2: So, you want people to pay for the stuff that’s not good enough to be free?
Rollie Williams1: I am just hoping that a few people might want to send like five bucks a month my way because you appreciate what could be described as highly researched, low budget, super-try-hard climate comedy.
Rollie Williams3: ‘Climate comedy’? Like edutainment?
Rollie Williams2: No, like infotainment.
Rollie Williams3: And you have to pay for it?
Rollie Williams2: Only the bad stuff; the good stuff is still free, right?
Rollie Williams1: OK, I feel like this really went off the rails.
Rollie Williams2: Hey, man, don’t look at me; you’re the one trying to get people to donate to your climate comedy Patreon page and the link is in the bio.

Al Gore: I have not tried marijuana.

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.

Posted in ... wait, what?, GCD: Global climate disruption, Just for laughs, Communication, Strategy, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Greens celebrate House of Lords defeat of draconian government ideas

The House of Lords earned its keep this week!

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

The House of Lords inflicted a staggering 14 defeats on the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn.

The Lords seized their chance to reject most of the 18 pages of late government amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This forces Ministers to either drop these proposals or bring them back in completely separate legislation at a later date. The Lords only have this power on very rare occasions because the government introduced the amendments late and by-passed scrutiny in the commons.

View original post 242 more words

Posted in News and politics, People, Reblogs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Oligarchy: a sickness at the heart of British democracy

I’m wondering how long it will be before the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently with the House of Lords, is used not just against peaceful protests in the streets but also to silence those who would speak out in defense of our democracy. Such action might include bloggers. Even puny ones like me…

[] Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller (18921984)

There’s a protest march in Parliament Square tomorrow (Wednesday 12Jan2022, 10:00 to 11:30 GMT), to protest for the right to protest. I’ve registered to go… but it would seem that I’ve left it too late to book a train journey that won’t cost me an arm and a leg and require me to arrive hours before the event. Pity. I want to see the Houses of Parliament again – before they’re blown up. (For which, see the foot of this post.)

There’s a Sickness at the Heart of British Democracy & It’s Called Oligarchy | Peter Jukes

Peter Jukes: What in the modern day is the greatest threat to democracy? It is oligarchy. Back in the 6th century BC, Plato recognized that the greatest threat to his idea of democracy was a few rich individuals taking over and an oligarchy forming; and that is what Britain is showing today.

The Owen Paterson affair – egregious lobbying in Parliament without declaring it – it’s just the tip of this iceberg. This is not a rare case. It’s not an exception. It is the rule. That’s why Boris Johnson wanted to completely get rid of the disciplinary process and the Standards Committee because they’re all in the frame, particularly him. The leadership is important because the fish rots from the head down, and he’s setting a standard which other MPs, particularly Conservative MPs, not always exclusively Conservative MPs, want to follow.

In a way, you can blame Tony Blair for this. Tony Blair started up that tradition. You go into politics and then, like an American President, you make hundreds of millions. Just as bad: David Cameron, he leaves Parliament, gets all these jobs, is working for a health company, lobbying for them, but with this banker Greensill, he was paid £7million to lobby government for them, texting his old pals in the Treasury and things like that. If you’re Owen Paterson, and you’re only making half a million, you feel rather short changed, don’t you? I mean, you’re just like the start up level of oligarchy.

Oligarchy is the combination of money and power; of the State and money and power. This is a few individuals getting right under the table of the State and kind of taking it over. And this value is at the heart of the Conservative Party project these days. You can see it in their donors; they have millions in donations, much more than the Labour Party, particularly from those over £100,000 who pay for these special dinners and get access to senior Conservative ministers.

Now, why would you, as a businessman, would you want to have dinner with Rishi Sunak or with the housing minister? Well, we know what happened at one dinner with Robert Jenrick and Richard Desmond, property developer and former Express owner: he wanted to get his housing project passed. So business people are not stupid. They don’t pay this money in the Conservative Party just for niche – they want them in power, and increasingly, we can see they want favours.

More than anything, the most disgusting bit, perhaps, of the pandemic we’re seeing under emergency legislation these kinds of people rushing towards the Conservative Party to get contracts. £15billion or so of dodgy PPE contracts; I say ‘dodgy’ because lots of them didn’t come to fruition, were not delivered properly, and others were clearly done through this VIP backchannel. This goes straight to the Owen Paterson affair, who was a consultant to a big company which got £500,000 in contracts from the Conservatives under this emergency legislation, which the government had enforced. He met with the then Lord Bethell, the minister in charge of procurement for the NHS, and we have tracked £3billion of these contracts going towards Tory friends and donors.

Why would you, as a business man or woman, bother setting up your company to compete with others? Why not get a friendly politician to help you out? That is oligarchy. As this goes on, there’s a kind of cash carousel between a political party – almost like a one-party state – and those who don’t donate to it, who then get the contracts, who then get increased profits and add more to the Conservative Party, and we have tracked this. And it is illegal to solicit honours, peerages, in return for donations; but as openDemocracy have done the top £3million-plus donors, we’ve done the £100,000 donors. You are highly likely to get an honour or a peerage if it’s 55% of those who donated more than £1.5million get an honour or a peerage.

This has now become a system – an unspoken system – which there is a law against, but it’s so easy to breach. You just have to reverse the influence; that this ‘just happened’, and it’s the problem with the whole corruption mechanism around the contracts. Now, I’d be very careful to say I am not alleging any of those companies of corruption because they’re offered these contracts; they don’t know they’re just going to get ‘VIP lane’. The government is corrupt. The government is corrupt in terms of our public interest by awarding our money without proper scrutiny, without looking to see if there are conflicts of interest; and this kind of cycle of corruption begins like a laundromat, gets faster and faster and faster and faster. And what it does is not only encourage the wrong people to get into politics, encourage the wrong kind of politics, you’re only looking after a narrow section of super-rich elite; it also undermines the whole trust of the political system in democracy of the public.

And this is a problem which affects all the parties going back to Blair’s time, we had issues of donations given for honours, of Formula One guys, maybe influencing policy for donations to the Labour Party. This is a problem with Parliament, a problem particularly, when so many MPs see being an MP as actually a second job; their first job is to lobby. They come out of lobbying companies, you know, they make their living. The image is bad, you work for a think tank. There is a political nexus which people want to move through, are normalised by, and they don’t see how far away that is, living in the Westminster bubble, from the ordinary lives of British people.

So, what’s the problem? Parliament. That Parliament is falling into the river, it’s rat infested, it’s a fake gothic building built in the 19th century and doesn’t reflect modern day life.

No party is immune from this, and no party seems to be able to deal with Johnson, partly because of this constitutional issue. The constitutional issue is we have a system which relies on ‘good chaps’ but has no breaks or sanctions on ‘bad chaps’. So, Priti Patel can be accused and found guilty of bullying a person who did that; they resigned. If Owen Paterson is found by the Standards Committee to have broken the rules, well, just get rid of that committee. Every time, there’s no real constitutional break. There’s no law; the Met, which is partly controlled by the Home Office, is reluctant to investigate. Police forces do have an element of political funding and control. So, no, it won’t solve it, just electing the Labour Party or a coalition, unless that is on a platform of root and branch reform.

What all this has revealed is the system was broken already. It was a sick system in that it was just waiting for somebody to exploit these crony contracts. The lack of scrutiny in public life is down to the fact that we, as citizens, did not demand the best for ourselves, demand the best of our politicians, the way our money is spent, and only we can reverse this. This is where Double Down comes in. This is where Byline Times comes in.

These people only thrive in darkness. It is shameful when they are shamed. I can tell you how shamed they are because I get the legal letters trying to stop us trying to write this stuff, and we have to stand up against that. And, gradually, a bit like the effluent flowing into our rivers and seas, this pollution of the public domain, of our political life, begins to stink. People can’t help noticing when they swim in the seas or kayak in a river, that they’re getting ill. They see the sewage floating down their streams, accumulating on the beaches. This will happen with this. This is happening with this.

We mustn’t be distracted. Follow these trails; two years of this carousel of cash, this cutting of public services, this holding back of public wages with our money. We have a right to demand how that money is spent. You must pass on this message even if you have a Daily Mail/ Conservative supporting neighbour. Tell them what’s happening to their money. As you might tell them what’s happening in their rivers and seas. We live together in this world and this country, and things will get very bad, very quickly if we don’t do something to stop it.

The key way to solve this pollution of our public realm is to filter it out, show what’s happening; and the only way that can really cleanse the body politic is good media – and what’s good media? Double Down News: subscribe now on Patreon.

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.

I once thought that ‘V for Vendetta‘ was just fiction, not prophecy…

V for Vendetta – Great scene (finale)

Military commander: Jesus bloody Christ.

Big Ben: bong!

Evey: It’s time. Tell me… Do you like music, Mr Finch?

Finch: … that music…

Evey: Yes. His music.

Finch: Who was he?

Evey: He was Edmond Dantès. And he was my father. And my mother. My brother. My friend. He was you. And me. He was all of us.

No one will ever forget that night, and what it meant for this country. But I will never forget the man, and what he meant to me.

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

V
Posted in News and politics, ... wait, what?, People, Core thought, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Alert: Win8.1 support ends one year from today!

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi (18691948)
(Although perhaps he didn’t actually say those words.)

I don’t object (much) to updates to existing software, as long as they are actually improvements from the user’s point of view, as opposed to a change that mainly benefits the provider. A good example is Windows itself: I’m currently on Windows 8.1, which is perfectly adequate. It works: why fix it if it ain’t broke? – the answer to that is that micro$haft’s income stream depends upon constant new releases, even if, in practice, they’re of minimal real benefit to the user. Just another example of our broken growth-centric economics system.

Beaton, the newest recruit to the 💥 ?Random Raiders! 💥 community, visited a very old post of mine (‘Life’s too short‘) yesterday. That sparked off a conversation about software ‘upgrades’; and, coincidentally, it turns out that Windows 8.1 falls out of what Microsoft calls ‘extended support’ on 10Jan2023. That’s just one year from today.

Advanced (sic) Notification (of Windows 8.1 extended support ending 10Jan2023)
Advanced (sic) Notification

I was once a fan of Windows, it has to be said. I’d been on DOS for some time: when I installed Win3.1, my first impression was: this is amazing! And, it was, compared with what I’d used before. I became an advocate, singing the praises of this marvel. And also, by dint of having avidly read the Windows 3.1 manual from cover to cover, an unofficial Windows support technician, too. Unpaid, naturally.

It was only later that I discovered that Bill Gates, one-time richest man on the planet, had essentially ripped off CP/M, turned it into DOS (by dint of turning forward slashes into backslashes and other minor tweaks) and made a deal with IBM to have it pre-installed on all their PCs; thus, essentially, ensuring his future. Then he essentially stole the concept of the GUI from Xerox and made ‘Windows’, which was, pretty unsurprisingly in retrospect, an immediate success.

The thing I hate most about the way our society ‘works’ is that those with the most power are able to leverage that power to overwhelm any competition. The free market fundamentalists bang on about ‘user choice’, but there is no choice if all you’re offered is the dominant product. They refuse to acknowledge the concept of product inertia, but you only have to look at the ‘success’ of the anachronism known as QWERTY for proof that that’s a crock.

Having made a success of Windows, micro$haft then went on to embed it into our society by giving ‘free’ licences to our educational establishments, thus ensuring that everyone grew up being familiar with their product. And essentially, that is why whenever you start a new job and are given your desk, you turn on the computer that sits on it and… Windows™ boots up. And nobody bats an eyelid, because that’s what we’ve all been indocrinated with.

The first hit’s free, guys.

'Tux' the penguin, the Linux mascot
‘Tux’, the Linux mascot

Almost two decades ago, I’d had enough of this. I was on Windows98. (Why ’98’? Well, because that was the year it was released, which sort of made sense – at the time – because the previous version was ’95’, which was the year that version was released… but the previous version to that had been ‘3.x’, so, that makes sense: how? Ask the makers of Xbox, the versions of which were ‘Xbox’, ‘Xbox 360’, and then… ‘Xbox One’. Oh, that’s right, same guys: micro$haft.) So, I vowed that when Windows98 ‘ran out of support’, I’d ‘vote with my feet’ and move to Linux.

Except that, at the time, I was running a web design company that I’d founded. And all of my customers were using… yes, you guessed it, micro$haft Windows. So I was hamstrung; I had no choice but to use the same operating system as they were using, so as to be able to provide them with technical support. (For which I never got a bean from micro$haft, incidentally… although I’m sure you already guessed that.)

And so, when I was forced to ‘upgrade’ from Windows98 (even though it still worked perfectly well) I moved to WindowsXP (fortunately skipping entirely the disaster known as Vista). Why did ‘XP’ succeed ‘Vista’? Why did ‘Vista’ succeed ’98’? Whatever happened to ‘Windows 9’? Ask the micro$haft Marketing Department: I’m sure they’ll give you some bullshit reason for it.

Windows98 worked fine. I was obliged to ‘upgrade’ from ’95’ (even though that, apart from the occasional BSOD, also worked fine) because ’95’ didn’t ‘understand’ the Internet. And I have to point out at this point that micro$haft itself didn’t understand the Internet at first; they originally dismissed it as a fad. I can’t find any links to back up that assertion, but I remember it well; mainly because I recall that, not long afterwards, they did a complete U-turn and declared that their Grand Plan was going to be to ‘own the Internet’. But I digress…

There’s absolutely no reason that the ’95’ operating system couldn’t itself be altered to accommodate the extra code required to ‘understand’ the Internet. Oh, wait, yes, there was: someone had to pay the richest man on the planet (and all his underlings) more munny.

The advancement of technology will be the death of us or rather the end of the human race as we know ourselves…

Beaton (2017)

The thing is: our entire economic system is badly broken; and our love-affair with technology is turning Starship Earth, our only home, into an unlivable wasteland. If we continue to allow big businesses to rule the roost, if we don’t act to curb the insanity, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

And so, on the grounds that we should each ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’, I’m going to finally bite the bullet over this next year. I have a new project: implement a multi-boot system on my PC so that I can see whether I can use Linux instead of Windows, with a view to weaning myself off micro$haft so I’m no longer held ransom to their marketing whims. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Capitalism, Communication, Computers and Internet, Core thought, Economics, Phlyarology, Strategy | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

My dirty new hobby

A ‘haipu’,
by yours truly:

I have a new hobby:
Collecting gifts on my walks...
Dogshit in plastic.

I embarked upon a new hobby recently: taking photographs of the little presents the local dog-owners have left for me to find on my walks and cart to the dog poop bin for them.

The dog poop bin
(which is too far away for some folks)

These gifts are all wrapped up in little plastic bags, tidily knotted at the neck; some just dropped by the wayside, others hanging artistically from tree branches.

Dogshit artfully hanging from a bush
Some contributors are quite imaginative

These folk are so kind, caring and thoughtful to leave these donations just for me.

It’s like a game; a treasure hunt! It’s so considerate of the dog owners to select appropriately coloured bags for their contributions so that they blend in to the scene, making them harder to spot from a distance. I guess they must carry stocks of several different-coloured bags so they can choose an appropriate one. It would be no fun at all if they all used dayglo neon bags, that would make it far too easy.

On these walks, it’s necessary to keep my eyes peeled… not just for the presents I can pick up, but particularly for those at my feet that, quite frankly, I’m not enough of a coprophiliac to touch. These are much, much harder to see, and far easier to step on accidentally.

There are some participants in this game about whom I can’t make up my mind… they’re either experts, who intentionally make it harder for me (and expect me to carry my own plastic bags for their deposits, to boot) or they are novices who haven’t yet caught on to the need, or perhaps lack the required dexterity, to scoop the poop – or, perhaps, like me, they’re trying to reduce their use of polluting plastic: but surely they don’t expect me to put the stuff in my pockets?

One has to keep one’s eyes peeled…
An absolutely delightful rest spot

A few weeks ago, I discovered one souvenir that had been dropped only a few yards from the poop bin. I’d snapped it and picked it up, then retraced my steps to make a deposit, grumbling uncharitably under my breath all the way like an irrepressible curmudgeon.

There was another in almost the same spot yesterday; I sighed and left it there, thinking I’d collect it on my return.

As I carried on up the hill, I passed a (dogless) man and we exchanged cheery “Good morning!”s. Continuing on, I berated myself for not having snapped a photo of my latest offering: it suddenly struck me that he, passing it, might pick it up and dispose of it himself, in which case it would be forever lost to my collection. (What a tragedy!) But that got me wondering whether those who dropped these donations might themselves be at the beginning of their own constitional, and leave them, not for me, but with the intent of picking them up on their way back, rather than be lumbered with them on their perambulation.

On top: 28Nov2021. On the bottom: 03Jan2022
Can you see the dog poop bin? It’s so very, very far away…

And so, on my way back about an hour later, I kept my eyes peeled. Several paces away from where I’d seen it earlier, I still couldn’t see it… and then I did, and realized that it had been neatly camouflaged: a green plastic bag in green grass. Thus I was able to add this latest endowment to my collection after all. The chap I’d passed earlier had clearly left it for me out of the goodness of his heart (though how he knew about my hobby is completely beyond me); and perhaps the original contributor, assuming that they had intended to recover it, simply hadn’t passed by that way again yet. Or maybe they had, and their mind had been engrossed elsewhere and they’d not noticed it (to be fair, that would be easily done: it was quite well disguised).

These folk are so kind, caring and thoughtful.

I’d like to meet them one day, for a pleasant little chat.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Culture, Dogshit gallery, Environment, Just for laughs, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments

The Galaxy Song, revisited

Three days shy of a decade ago, I published a post entitled ‘A little perspective for the new year‘, which featured ‘The Galaxy Song’ from Monty Python‘s The Meaning of Life.

I considered waiting another three days before posting this so as to coincide with that earlier post’s anniversary, but you never know; anything can happen in just three days, and I didn’t want to risk you missing this little gem.

Eric Idle / Brian Cox – The Galaxy Song / Wonders of Life trailer 2013

Eric:
Just remember…
You’re a tiny little person on a planet
 in a universe expanding and immense;
That life began evolving
 and dissolving
 and resolving
 in the deep primordial oceans by the hydrothermal vents;
Our Earth which had its birth almost five billion years ago
 from out of a collapsing cloud of gas;
Through life which was quite new
 and eventually led to you
 in only three point five billion years or less.

Brian:
My director just said, “Just have a wander round,” which is easy for him to say. Just over there is a pride of lions with young cubs, so the mothers are very protective. “Just wander around a bit,” said the director.

Eric:
Deoxyribonucleic acid helps us replicate,
 and randomly mutate from day to day.

We left the seas
 and climbed the trees
 and our biologies
 continue to evolve through DNA.

We’re ninety-eight point nine percent
 the same as chimpanzees
 whose trees we left three million years ago
 to wander, swapping genes,
 out of Africa – which means
 we’re related to everyone we know.
(Oh, ‘ello luv!)

Life is quite strange,
 life is quite weird,
 life is really quite odd.

Life from a star
 is far more bizarre
 than an old bearded bloke they call ‘god’.

So, gaze at the sky,
 and start asking why
 you’re even here on this call?

Although life is fraught,
 the odds are so short,
 you’re lucky to be here at all.

Brian:
How wide can they open their jaws?
[Ah, three foot wide…]
About three feet?
[… and they can swallow a man whole.]
Yeah, so about three foot wide, can swallow a man whole…

Eric:
Standing on a planet which is spinning round a star:
 one of just a billion trillion suns
 in a universe that’s ninety billion light years side to side
 wondering where the heck it all came from.

You’ve a tiny little blink of life
 to try and understand
 what on Earth is really going on
 in biology and chemistry
 which made you you
 and made me me
 but don’t ask me –
 I only wrote the song.

Brian:
Hello. […] He’s coming for us… oh, god.

See you in 2022. I hope you have a good one!

Posted in ... wait, what?, art, balance, Biodiversity, Core thought, People, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Get my eBook for FREE, Boxing Day 2021

Bah! Humbug!

Boxing Day is the traditional day for exchanging gifts, and so…

On 26Dec2021§ my eBook is available totally FREE!

Just click on this link right here to get it.

If you don’t have a Kindle,
don’t worry, you can use
the Kindle app
or
Kindle for PC

Enjoy!

If you feel that you owe me something (you don’t),
could I ask you please for a review on amazon and/or goodreads?

Reviews of ‘The Eclectic’

If your sense of humour is like mine, you will roar with laughter at some of these gems. The Eclectic is a collection of poems and short stories that take a gentle but firm poke at reality. For example, the trickle-down effect is examined in a goblet-shaped poem, which correctly identifies the main reason our world is in trouble. One hilarious story tells you exactly what had happened to the Titanic, and why. Or you might be interested in the REAL story of King Arthur. I can recommend the productions of a delightfully twisted mind.

Bob Rich on Goodreads 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

After you read this wonderful collection of stories, poems and dreams, you will be asking this incredibly original deep thinker to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) without delay! Fantastic stuff!

Rick on amazon 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

(If you should happen to land on this page on some other day,
leave a comment below or contact me
and I’ll schedule another free day, just for you!)


§ The small print: 00:00 to 23:59 Pacific Time — check here for your time zone!

Posted in ... wait, what?, Fantasy, Phlyarology, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

God rest ye merry, gentlemen

A couple of millennia ago, some geezer was allegedly nailed to a tree for suggesting that we should be nice to each other.

What have we learnt since? Not a lot, it seems to me.

Far too many people congregate in massive edifices built by our forebears and sing their hearts out in songs that use words like ‘love’, and ‘peace’, and ‘goodwill’. And then we shuffle off to gorge ourselves on traditional fowl, raised in cages in abominable conditions, birds that are bred purely for profit with no consideration for how they feel.

And, all the while, our human cousins fleeing from oppression, hunger, and worse, drown on our borders because of the xenophobic fascists currently in control. (Perhaps it’s different in your neck of the woods, but here in Blighty, we’re governed by a bunch of morons who are acting as though they have ‘a mandate’ to ‘secure our sovereignty’ on the grounds of a pitifully minuscule ‘first-past-the-post’ margin, one that they continue to claim proves that ‘the electorate has spoken’ even though those who voted were lied to on a massive scale. And they will never in a million years admit that.)

So, on this day, this celebration of the alleged ‘day of birth’ of an alleged ‘saviour’ who ‘gave his life for our sins’ (even though, if he even existed, he was probably actually born in the summertime, and the truth that ‘christmas day’ was appropriated by the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire to assist in appeasing the British populace has been lost in the mists of time)… feel free to stuff your face while the others with whom you ‘share’ this planet are fleeing for their lives, or starving to death.

Merry christmas, one and all.

Yeah, right.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Phlyarology | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Another year, another few bonsai pictures

The climate crisis, not to mention the various other current insanities, is tiring. Time for a change…

Taking a leaf out of Ellen Hawley’s book, allow me to begin with an irrelevant photo. Here’s one, of the dawn sky that presented itself in all its glory a few days ago. Absolutely gorgeous; the photo doesn’t do it justice.

Red sky in the morning
Dawn in England on 11 December 2021

Onward, to the main theme of this post… From May this year, I’ve taken to taking a picture of my dwarf horse chestnut tree on the first day of each month. This tree, which I planted as a conker in 1986, is now 57% of my age – and slowly catching me up. I’m hoping that it will overtake me in the end.

As you can see, there’s a lot of growth around the base of my little tree; I’ve been meaning to repot it for some years now (I need to get a round tuit). I suspect that I’ll find that the roots need some serious trimming!

It’s never once flowered yet. I don’t know why… maybe it’s still too young? Perhaps it will, one day.


I topped this post with one irrelevant photo; I’ll tail it with another… this is one I took recently of a large bird that’s been flying overhead lately. I think it may be a kestrel, but I’m a phlyarologist, not an ornithologist.

A bird of prey of some sort... (Kestrel, maybe?)
Do you know what this bird is?

Here’s hoping you’re enjoying a pleasant Saturnalia wherever you may be, and wishing you peace in the new year. Cheers – or, as the Klingons say, ‘IwlIj jachjaj!

Posted in Bonsai Diary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments