Sharing the spoils

October 23, 2014
protest against Nicaragua trans-ocean canal

protest against Nicaragua trans-ocean canal

protest outside BHPBilton AGM at coal mining in Colombia

protest outside BHPBilton AGM at coal mining in Colombia

Bolivia: Gap between rich and poor narrowed, unemployment halved, reduction in those living in extreme poverty.

Brazil: Reduction of those living in extreme poverty by 65% in a decade.

Venezuela: Reduction by half those living in extreme poverty, college enrolment has doubled.

Ecuador: Extreme poverty reduced by a third.

Argentina: Urban poverty halved.

But is has been achieved by sharing the spoils.

Peasants Revolt, French Revolution, Russian Revolution. a fight as to who shares the spoils.

Cutting down the rain forests and giving the man wielding the chainsaw a greater share of the spoils.

Better than Africa where a tiny elite divvy out the spoils, and most drains out of the country.

But all is based on growth, dirty extractive industries, cutting down the rain forests.

Ecuador has a growing dependency on oil exports, including from the Amazon

Bolivia a huge dependency on natural gas.

Argentina open cast mining and green deserts of genetically modified crops.

Brazil mega-dam projects and off-shore drilling.

Those who suffer worst from these projects are the rural poor and indigenous people. They lose the land, their forests, see their watercourses polluted.

And we all lose when global temperatures rise above 2C and we face thermal runaway over which we will have no control.

In Brazil, there has been many legal challenges against the mega-dam projects.

It is no different to what went before, growth, trashing the planet.

Dirty extraction is not of course limited to Latin America.

Statoil, is investing in tar sand and Arctic drilling.

In Greece gold mining.

There has to be genuine change and a move away from a model of growth and unsustainable dirty extraction. Otherwise all we are doing is re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic to give everyone an equal view of the iceberg.

This is what democracy looks like

October 23, 2014
this is what democracy looks like

this is what democracy looks like

this is what democracy look like

this is what democracy look like

At the weekend activists occupied Parliament Square to show solidarity with the activists in Hong Kong.

They were met by brutal attacks by the police. They managed to hold their ground, but have now been dispersed leaving one man clinging to a statue of Winston Churchill.

Man and statue are now surrounded by fencing and a phalanx of police.

Anyone who tries to pass the man food or water is arrested or threatened with arrest.

Do they police have nothing better to do?

Cat Brooks

October 22, 2014
Cat Brooks (not in Winchester High Street)

Cat Brooks (not in Winchester High Street)

Cat Brooks (not in Winchester High Street)

Cat Brooks (not in Winchester High Street)

I happened upon Cat Brooks playing by a monument in Winchester High Street.

What little I heard, she was good. I picked up a couple of CDs, her band.

We had a long chat, on intellectual property rights and copyright and sharing and use of social media, virtually the same as with the young lady earlier as I walked down into the town.

I recommended she must be on bandcamp.

I suggested Guildford High Street would be a good place to play.

Raise money playing on the street sell an album, use money for studio time to record and release a second album. Slowly slowly, raise awareness release material, word of mouth.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 22, 2014
road leading into Winchester

road leading into Winchester

road leading into Winchester

road leading into Winchester

I left too late for it to be worthwhile trip to Winchester. But decided to go nevertheless.

Had I once again missed the bus at Alton Station? Luckily not. It was running 5 minutes late.

It was sunny this morning. Now cold and dull and looking like rain.

I alighted off the bus and was able to walk down the hill into Winchester. Last week I missed the stop.

Instead of walking down the main road I decided to drop by the church, St John the Baptist, follow the old Pilgrim’s Way.

I found I was at a cross roads, go straight down a steep hill where I could see the river, or drop down to the church make my way back up, then walk down into the town.

Whilst I was deciding, a maniac in a BMW, tyres screeching, came racing up the hill. A 20 mph limit, and the street was one way, he was going the wrong way. He narrowly missed running down some children.

A lovely church, the oldest in Winchester, a wonderful sense of space, a lovely place for Jewelia to give a concert.

varieties of squash in St John the Baptist

varieties of squash in St John the Baptist

A sign of the times, people used to leave apples, vegetables, the fruits of their labour, of the gardens, thanks to God for a good harvest. Now it is packets of cornflakes and baked beans. But on the lid of the font a wonderful display of varieties of squash.

Beggars Lane

Beggars Lane

Interesting street names. Beggars Lane. Dates from when the beggars lay in wait for the Pilgrims. The church was located outside the city boundary, It was either the first or last church the pilgrims encountered, depending upon which way they were walking.

Blue Ball Hill

Blue Ball Hill

I set off down Blue Ball Hill, noting when I got half way down, it was one way, the maniac having driven the wrong way up. Blue Ball Hill is a strange name. Could it be a corruption of Blue Boar?

I arrived at the River Itchen. No idea where I was or how to get into town.

I asked an attractive girl sitting on a bench.

I do not know why or how, we got into a conversation about the church, ideal place for Jewelia to play. For reasons I cannot remember, the conversation led to copyright and intellectual property rights.

Synchronicity: The girl I was talking to a law student writing an essay on intellectual property rights.

Copyright is stifling creativity. Classic example would be Sita Sings the Blues and obtaining the copyright for the songs used, dating from the 1920s.

We can only like music when we hear it. How do we hear it? Someone shares it with us.

Bandcamp makes sharing easy, sharing leads to more people liking the music, it spreads by word of mouth.

When Paulo Coelho had his books copied, shared, pirated, he did not mind, as more people read his books. A writer writes to be read.

There is zero marginal cost in e-books, digital downloads of music. When people are being charged more than a pound or a dollar or euro for an e-book, they are being blatantly ripped off. The marginal costs of producing stuff is tending to zero.

When we write something, create something, we are building on what went before, it does not happen in a vacuum.

By the time I found my way into the High Street, it was nearly five o’clock.

If Jimmy Bean was there, I had missed him. Most of the stalls had packed up and gone. The cheese stall was still there. I picked up smoked cheddar. I am not a great fan of either cheddar or smoked cheese. I think he said it was smoked with rosewood, but I may be wrong.

Cat Brooks playing by a monument.

What little I heard, she was good. I picked up a couple of CDs, her band.

We had a long chat, virtually the same as with the young lady earlier. I recommended she must be on bandcamp.

Now getting dark and very cold.

I had missed the 1720 bus. I decided to catch the 1750. It does help to read the timetable. No 1750 bus, it runs at 1800 (which was ten minutes late), then 1820, then last bus at 1850.

How do people know where to alight from the bus, pitch black outside?

I alighted at Alton Station. Train must have not long left. Having had nothing to eat all day, I decided to eat at the Station cafe, Wednesday night, bikers night. Few bikes outside, though busy inside.

As I left, the attractive and charming young lady serving said they would be open every week in November, usually once it gets dark, they are only open Wednesday night once a month.

Afternoon in Godalming

October 21, 2014
Church Street

Church Street

I was surprised how cold it was when I alighted at Godalming Station.

Was it different location or was it temperature falling during the day?

A big storm was due to hit during the night. The remnants of a hurricane that devastated Barbados over the weekend. I cannot say I noticed, but this morning it was very windy, and reports of extensive damage from across the country.

The first big storm of the autumn. Trees still have most of their leaves hence maximum damage. Storms are arriving earlier and earlier, and of increasing severity.

If we hold global temperature rise to less than 2C we are going to see an increase in severity of storms. Ideally we should hold to less than 1.5C. But with the amount of carbon we are pumping into the atmosphere, we are unlikely to hold to 2C. If we go beyond 2C, the models start to break down and we are likely to face thermal runway.

But it is still businesses as usual. And when we use austerity as excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services, we are in not in a good position to withstand shocks to the system, as we saw with the floods and storms last winter (which stated with autumn storms, and we have already had nearly two weeks of rain).

A look in the Parish Church. Where prayer cards are left, and candles lit. I noticed a memorial book for our animal friends. And why not, they are as much a member of the family.

A walk along the River Wey. Very cold.

Lunch at Café Mila. It was packed. I have never seen it this packed.

Even upstairs was packed.

mushroom soup

mushroom soup

cauliflower and sweet potato curry

cauliflower and sweet potato curry

I ordered mushroom soup followed by a curry. Both were brought up to me by the chef.

The mushroom soup was excellent. Often soup is sloshed around a bowl. Not when the chef serves. Presentation is equally important. Generous portions too.

The curry was ok. Not what I would have chosen, but everything else had gone. More like a broth. It lacked body. I would have added some chopped up boiled new potatoes.

Lunchtime eateries in Winchester have a lot to learn. In Ginger Gelato, watery tomato soup. Lunch consists of a little more than ciabatta with a little melted cheese. Were Café Mila Winchester to open I cannot see anyone else surviving.

A little wander through Godalming.

Tea and cake in Café Mila. Not much choice left on the cakes.

sunset over Frensham Pond

sunset over Frensham Pond

Catch 4-30 bus to Aldershot. Three counties, Surrey, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, through the Surrey Hills. I thought it might be heavy rain, a nightmare journey, but luckily sunny. Sunset over Frensham Pond. A pity the bus drivers do not clean their windows.

When I get off the bus over an hour and a half later, very cold at the bus station. Five minutes wait for a bus, and I was chilled to the bone.

Guildford Book Festival 2014

October 21, 2014
Ben Collins aka Stig at Guildford Book Festival

Ben Collins aka Stig at Guildford Book Festival

This year 12-19 October 2014 marked the 25th aniversay of the Guildford Book Festival.

The execution of Charles I was a huge disconnect in English history, not only the killing of a King, the English Civil War, but the awful retribution metered out to those responsible. This was the topic for Charles Spencer The Killers of the King. Sold out.

ghost town of Famagusta sealed off behind rusting razor wire

ghost town of Famagusta sealed off behind rusting razor wire

ghost city of Famagusta seen from the sea

ghost city of Famagusta seen from the sea

The latest from Victoria Hislop is The Sunrise, the story of Famugusta, an abandoned ghost city on the Island of Cyprus, abandoned since the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of 1974. The world turns a blind eye, Famagusta surrounded by rusting razor wire and crumbling to ruins.

Maybe Victoria Hislop writing of Famagusta will focus world attention, but I would not hold my breath. Even more so now the world needs Turkey in the fight against ISIS.

A special edition of The Sunrise from Waterstone’s has an essay in the back on Famagusta.

A literary lunch placed the event outside the pocket of many people, and limited numbers.

Coffee morning. House of Fraser! It could have been worse, Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks. At least pick somewhere that serves decent coffee, Harris + Hoole or Glutton & Glee.

I am Malawa with co-author Christina Lamb, left many people disappointed as the venue was far too small. And that was even before she was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Head of State, A Political Entertainment a very interesting insight by Andrew Marr into how corrupt and rotten the political system. Party apparatchiks who have not done an honest days’s work in their life in the pocket and at the beck and call of Big Business, lack of respect from the electorate, out of touch with real people, in Scotland a move to independence, in England a shift to Ukip and the Green Party, EU dictating policy. Following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift, Head of State, the latest book from Andrew Marr, is satire.

Too many events running concurrently. An illusion of choice. No real choice as cannot be in two places at once.

Kate Mosse a natural story teller, The Taxidermist’s Daughter, discussing the background to Labyrinth, Citadel and her latest book The Taxidermist’s Daughter.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter is set in Sussex, gloomy marshland, a river estuary, very much the setting found in The Moonstone. The seed, the gem of an idea, a museum, no longer there, in Arundel. A Gothic thriller in the mould of The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, Frankenstein, Dracula.

There is currently an exhibition of Gothic literature at the British Library.

Poorly designed website. Irritating pictures flicking across the screen. But worse were highlights that were not live links, and live links not highlighted that you had to stumble upon. Books and authors were highlighted, these should be live links to pull up more information on the books and authors.

Guildford Book Festival is a registered charity, in receipt of public funding, I would therefore expect to find published accounts on their website.

Very poor use of social media. Puerile, sycophantic, drooling tweets.

Please no. Stick to straight forward factual information. And please no, please do not re-tweet every sycophantic, drooling tweet. Added to which a fundamental lack of understanding of social media, social networks.

  • social —> interaction
  • network —> many to many

A dialogue should be taking place.

Steve Lawson gave a three hour talk on the use of social media at the Digital Music for Musicians seminar held in Leeds at the Belgrave Music Hall. He summarised in a five minute video.

Little book festivals are springing up all over the place.

Lincoln Book Festival, an interesting line up, half a dozen authors. OK with that. What is important, have they something worthwhile to say, can they write, are they worth reading.

Halfway up Steep Hill at a suitable resting place, BookStop Cafe, a little coffee bar tucked in a Norman Undercroft. Inside lined with books, emphasis on local writers, looking out a stunning view, occasional evening talks with local writers.

The world’s oldest and the largest book festival is the Frankfurt Book Fair, established by Gutenberg, an estimated 300,000 visitors over five days. This year the highlight was a discussion on publishing between Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and festival director Juergen Boos.

Two books around which there has been a great deal of buzz, The Zero Marginal Cost Society and This Changes Everything. Naomi Klein was in London, then Oxford, a pity not Guildford too. Last year there was a lot of buzz around Feral.

Too many events are taking place concurrently. An illusion of choice. Not possible to be in more than one place at the same time.

One Tree Books has for the last few years been the official festival bookseller. And that is as it should be. The Festival depends upon local support, in return the Festival supports local indy bookshops. It was offensive to book lovers to find WHSmith selling the books, a failing High Street chain that has no interest in books.

Kate Mosse stressed the importance of supporting indy bookshops.

Ironic then Guildford Book Festival has ditched One Tree Books and this year the Festival book supplier was WHSmith. A High Street chain that does nothing for books, hated and despised by book lovers.

One Tree Books used to have a wonderful display of books in the Electric Theatre during the book festival, you could talk to them about books. Sadly not WHSmith. They could not even be bothered to mount a display in their own bookshop. Nor was there any mention of the book festival in their stores in neighbouring towns.

WHSmith a huge mistake. Hopefully not to be repeated next year. Or if is, buy your books elsewhere and bring them along for signing.

Amazon often get the blame for killing off indy bookshops. It is not Amazon. It is chains like WHSmith, that not only destroy indy bookshops, but also destroy our town centres, draining money out of the local economy and turning them into Clone Towns.

Mid-August Paulo Coelho had a new book out Adultery, WHSmith had it on special offer at half price. It was an international best-seller from an internationally known author, and yet WHSmith staff clueless as to title and author, most stores did not have in stock or only two copies and when sold, not restocked. One of the worst was WHSmith Guildford where it was claimed only opinion an international best-seller.

September This Changes Everything was published. About to ask for it in Waterstone’s Winchester, I saw it was piled up, a few weeks later, was told it was an excellent read, well written, well researched. Asking in WHSmith Guildford, they had not a clue, never heard of title or author, and no it was not in stock, it was not even showing on their computer.

High Street sales are falling at WHSmith (no surprise there), down 5% compared with last year. The only reason they are not posting big losses is strong performance in travel (56% profits compared with around 20% nine years), in-store Post Office counters and cost cutting.

How soon will it be before WHSmith follows Clinton Cards, Jessops, HMV, Phones4U into oblivion?

WHSmith is to books, what McDonald’s and KFC is to food and Costa and tax-dodgining Starbucks is to coffee.

It is important though to differentiate between the company and its employees. They shrug their shoulders in despair at not being able to provide a service, and some go out of their way to try and be helpful.

Indy bookshops need our support. Guildford Book Festival should be setting the example.

Guildford Book Festival has become far too celebrity focussed and obsessed. A PR bums-on-seats mindset. Where are the poets, the local writers, the up and coming writers, local publishers?

One would hope Guildford Book Festival would promote other book events happening in Guildford. Sadly not.

During the summer, Steph Bradley author of Tales of Our Times and forthcoming Flip Flop, did a book tour. She stopped off at Guildford between Brighton and Oxford. Not a whisper from Guildford Book Festival.

Most festivals have a fringe. It is long overdue, a Guildford Book Festival Fringe.

Occupy Democracy

October 20, 2014
Occupy Democracy

Occupy Democracy

For a couple of weeks or more, pro-democracy activists have taken to the streets of Hong Kong demanding open and fair elections. They have faced down police brutality and attacks by thugs orchestrated by the imposed illegitimate chief executive (Hong Kong a business not a democracy).

At the weekend, supporters mounted a rally in solidarity outside Parliament.

With full backing of the political establishment?

Er no, akin to scenes from Hong Kong, police were sent in to brutally break up the rally.

In the face of police brutality, Parliament Square has been held.

And as usual deathly silence from mainstream media.

In the UK we do not have democracy, we have a sham democracy.

We have party apparatchiks who are out of touch with the people, who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives, who are in the pockets of Big Business. The people are reduced to Election fodder, cast your vote every five years then keep quiet.

In Hong Kong, thousands of people are fighting courageously for the right to a real vote. They know that a system where candidates are decided by the state is no democracy.

In Scotland, 45% of people rejected Westminster rule. They know that a system that takes the power to make local decisions out of their hands is no democracy.

Democracy is not just about having a vote every four, now five years. It is about having the power to make your voice heard. It is about people taking the decisions, not corrupt politicians.

A government that answers to profit before people is no democracy.

In the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages.

At the same time, inequality is back on the rise, making us one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The amount we ask businesses to contribute to our social services in tax is set to be the lowest of any of the G20 countries. Tax evasion and avoidance costs the UK £95 billion a year, enough to fund the NHS in England.

Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed. It is clear whose voices are being heard.

Austerity, Shock Doctrine, is not working.

We need to start a movement for real democracy. The voices of the majority have been ignored for too long. We need to give ourselves the tools to hold our politicians to account, and to end the corporate lobbying power that drowns our voices out.

Parliament Square is to be occupied 17-26t October 2014, to begin a fight for a real democracy. There, in the shadow of Nelson Mandela’s statue, we will transform the Square into a civic space where we can re-envision what our society could be like, with talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

This is what real democracy was like in Athens. People met on a hillside overlooking the Acropolis. Anyone could speak. They stood on a large stone and addressed the assembled crowd. That large stone is still there. Not the sham democracy in Parliament.

The NHS is being privatised whilst the politicians claim it is safe in their hands.

TTIP is being forced through in secrecy. A trade agreement that is a front to hand more power to global corporations.

The planet fries whilst the politicians lie.

Follow Amazon on twitter

October 19, 2014

How do you pursued people to voluntarily follow Amazon on twitter?

Offer them some free Bose music equipment.

Not even that, offer them the remote possibilty of some free Bose music equipment.

Naomi Klein in Oxford discussing This Changes Everything

October 19, 2014

Naomi Klein in Oxford discussing This Changes Everything.

Fast forward 15 minutes to bypass the preamble.

TTIP & transparency

October 19, 2014

A trade agreement TTIP is being negotiated between EU and US.

A trade agreement that will pass more powers to global corporations to trash the environment, to walk all over ordinary people.

A trade agreement that is being negotiated in secret.


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