Random acts of kindness

November 27, 2014
In love, we don't exist; We are just an instrument of the Hand that created everything.

In love, we don’t exist; We are just an instrument of the Hand that created everything.

In love, we don’t exist; We are just an instrument of the Hand that created everything. — Paulo Coelho

It must be something to do with Buddhist culture.

Can anyone imagine such an advert in UK? Where the emphasis is on greed, must have, will make your life better, and so the moronic consumer sets out to the shopping centre.

The opening chapter in Revolution, Russell Brand describes the arrival of a shopping centre called Lakeside, it had to have a lake built to make sense of itself.

The first betrayal is in the name, ‘Lakeside’, the giant shopping centre, mall to Americans, and maul is right, because these citadels of global brands are not tender lovers, it is not a consensual caress, it’s a maul.

Growing up in Greys as a bored teenager, hanging around a shopping centre, with a lake to make sense of itself, brainwashed into thinking, if only could have the goods on display, life would be better, only it is not it is an addiction, the need for fame, celebrity status, all an illusion, addiction to drugs, clean for a decade, but the desire is always there, help from recovering addicts, one step at a time, mental breakdown, wandering the streets in a pair of pyjamas raving, but getting away with it because rich and famous.

Greys, the very name depressing. The only excitement for a bored teenager, the arrival of a shopping centre called Lakeside. It had to have a lake constructed to make sense of itself.

Our largest buildings make sense of society, they tell us who is boss.

The mediaeval church, cathedral, palace, castle. The 19th century bank. And now the shopping centre and the corporate headquarters of global corporations.

Our largest buildings are temples to greed.

Former aid defends Save the Children humanitarian award to Tony Blair

November 26, 2014

If you can stomach listening to it, an interview with a former aid to Tony Blair defending a humanitarian award by Save the Children to Tony Blair.

BBC must have really scraped the bottom of the barrel to find anyone to defend Tony Blair as the recipient of this award.

Granting of the award has been slammed in a letter signed by nearly 200 of the people who work for Save the Children.

Over 100,000 people have now signed a petition calling on Save the Children to strip Tony Blair of this undeserved humanitarian award.

We are told Tony Blair has his people on the ground in in West Africa dealing with Ebola. What are they doing, trying to sign up another lucrative contract for the Blair money making machine?

Aid to African a success?

Aid to Africa, is being used as cover for a massive corporate land grab, countries like Ghana told to pass Monsanto Law where farmers are to be criminalised for saving seed, face fine and prison, told they have to buy corporate seeds from the likes of Monsanto.

Western interference in Africa, is a neo-liberal agenda, privatise health care and education, use your land for cash crops, then when a disease like Ebola strikes, we see a health care system unable to cope, bodies left in the street.

Debate not about Iraq?

It has everything to do with Iraq, a man responsible for the death of tens of thousand of innocent children, should not be given an humanitarian award by Save the Children.

Once again, we see the revolving door at work.

Former political director and close aid to Tony Blair, Matthew Doyle wheeled out to defend Tony Blair.

Matthew Doyle started working with Tony Blair in 2005 when he was appointed as his special comms adviser at Number 10. He was previously press aide to the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Blunkett, and before that he worked at the Labour Party as head of press and broadcasting for the 2005 general election. He then, as did many other Blair aids, went to work for the Office of Tony Blair. In other words like too many of our Members of Parliament, a party apparatchik who has never done an honest day’s work in his life.

Then we look at those associated with Save the Children.

Jonathan Powell, Blair’s former chief of staff, is currently on the board of Save the Children.

Save the Children UK chief executive, Justin Forsyth, was a special adviser to Blair for three years. Save the Children was attacked last year when it was learnt Justin Forsyth was paid £163,000 a year, including more than £22,000 in performance-related pay. He has since taken a pay cut to £140,000.

So what do Save the Children get out of it?

The big increase in UK aid budget, when it is not going to fund coal-fired power stations in China, or sponsor corporate land grabs in Africa, is channelled through Big Business charities like Save the Children.

Farnborough not a success story

November 25, 2014
Farnborough Cycles

Farnborough Cycles

Farnborough is a success is the oft repeated claim of the imbecile leader of the council. What is the secret of this success, is it something other towns may wish to replicate?

Last Saturday, a cycle shop pulled out of Farnborough, this was after five years and a big investment. Why, why pull out, this is not what we expect for a success story? The wrong people on the street, Farnborough attracts the wrong people, those with the means go elsewhere. And the finger of blame was pointed squarely at the local council and greedy developer KPI/St Modwen for trashing the town.

Not much of a success story there then. Let us look a bit further afield.

The cycle shop was located in Kingsmead, a run down, grubby shopping centre, when it rains the roof leaks and buckets are put out to catch the water. Recent cosmetic changes do not disguise that it is a run down ugly shopping centre. Beware of the pillars, as the edges are razor sharp.

The shopping centre resembles a movie set for a post-apocalypse movie, boarded-up shops, a handful of zombies wandering through to escape from the cold and wet outside.

no compensation paid to retailer forced to relocate

no compensation paid to retailer forced to relocate

What was the busy entrance, all the retailers have been relocated or kicked out. Or at least was the busy entrance once upon a time when busy a decade ago. They have been relocated to the dead entrance, even when long ago the shopping centre was busy, this entrance was dead, used by people running to catch the bus. Those retailers forcibly relocated have received no compensation. But then the treatment of these retailers and small businesses no different to those driven out and their livelihood destroyed when half the town centre was demolished to satisfy the greed of a developer, aided and abetted by the local council

A cinema was promised for the summer. If we wish to be pedantic, a cinema was promised over a decade ago, before half the town centre was destroyed. A cinema is now promised for March. A group of chain eateries to cluster like parasites around the foot of the cinema. Only it ain’t gong to happen, there are no chain eateries, nothing but boarded-up units. Nandos was a possibility, but as Nandos at Wastegate (similar model chain eateries cluster around a cinema) has not proved to be a success, Nandos has pulled the plug, and no one else is interested.

The independent cafes in the town appear to have no future, walk by and they are nearly always almost empty.

Triangle, a bowl of soup requested mid-afternoon. No soup. Why, have they run out? No, the kitchen closed at three o’clock. The food in Triangle is awful, the coffee undrinkable. It only remains in business due to regular bail outs. The latest by St Peter’s.

Bread shop cum cafe in Queensmead. A cup of tea. What size cup? A tea bag in a cup, hot water poured over tea bag. Maybe you get a different size tea bag depending upon the cup. A bacon sandwich requested. Don’t do sandwiches. OK, a roll. Too late. Loads of bread tossed in a sack to be thrown away.

Independent businesses are often their own worse enemy. The only way they can compete with the chains is to offer service, better service, quality, better quality, and yet they fail to offer either.

A couple of years ago attempted breakfast in Triangle. Too late. It was two minutes gone their arbitrary cut off. And why two minutes beyond, because of their slowness in serving. There is no excuse for serving awful food. Visit Cafe Mila in Godalming, Guildford Institute Friday lunchtime, Iydea in Brighton, or Transition Cafe in Fishguard, run by a trust. Quality food at reasonable prices. A quality coffee shop with hand roasted coffee beans freshly roasted freshly ground, a decent espresso machine, an experienced barister, fresh made cakes and cookies.

Why does the bread shop cum cafe throw away its bread? Why not offer half price, why not give away to last customers at the end of the day?

Chains do not close their kitchen half way through the day, or close early. You do not walk in Costa and Starbucks and get turned away, you will be served disgusting coffee, but you will not get turned away.

In the street, three sheds have appeared, selling tat and fast food. Creaming the businesses from local businesses who are there all year round.

The imbecile leader of the council has promised to build on the success of Farnborough in Aldershot.

Save the Children slammed over humanitarian award to Tony Blair

November 25, 2014
war criminal for hire for any brutal dictator who has blood on their hands

war criminal for hire for any brutal dictator who has blood on their hands

Did they really think they would get away with it, did Save the Children really think they would get away with a tacky glitzy New York award ceremony to honour Tony Blair for his humanitarian work?

This is a man who has the blood of children on his hands, who profiteers from bloody conflict in the Middle East, who advises brutal murderous dictators, Al Sisi in Egypt, Nursultan Nazarbeyev in Kazakhstan. He also has lucrative consultancy contracts with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Colombia. And JPMorgan.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Blair had signed a multimillion pound contract with a Saudi Arabian oil company in 2010 to broker secret deals on the firm’s behalf with Chinese state officials. The revelation raises serious questions over his role as Middle East envoy, and his personal vested interests in the region.

Earlier this year, Tony Blair managed to successfully quash a Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged corruption regarding an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

There is growing public outrage demanding that Tony Blair be stripped of this award. And that he be indicted as a war criminal. Former ambassadors have demanded he be stripped of his role as Middle East envoy.

There is a petition demanding Tony Blair be stripped of the award. As I write, it is approaching 100,000 signatures. Please sign and spread the word.

Amid widespread criticism on social media, many of the charity’s staff have complained that the presentation of the award has discredited Save the Children. An internal letter, which gathered almost 200 signatures – including senior regional staff – in the first six hours of dissemination, said the award was not only “morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally”, and called for it to be withdrawn.

It said that staff wished to distance themselves from the award and demanded a review of the charity’s decision-making process.

We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision.

The award has also raised questions about Save the Children’s integrity and independence because of close links between Tony Blair and senior people at Save the Children.

Its UK chief executive, Justin Forsyth, was a special adviser to Blair for three years, and Jonathan Powell, Blair’s former chief of staff, is currently on the board of Save the Children.

Save the Children was attacked last year when it was learnt Justin Forsyth was paid £163,000 a year, including more than £22,000 in performance-related pay. He has since taken a pay cut to £140,000.

It is the same old story, advisers and politicians, leave politics, nice little earners on the board of quangos and NGOs, the political-media establishment, revolving door, jobs for the boys, you look after my interest, I will look after yours.

Why the deafening media-political silence on this scandal? Because they are all part of the same club, awaiting their turn to get their snouts in the trough, to get onto the merry-go-round, an advisor here, on the board there, a stint in broadcasting.

I will not touch Save the Children with a bargepole.

Whoever bears responsibility at Save the Children should be forced to resign.

Monsanto Law: Monsanto claims ownership of seeds in Ghana

November 24, 2014
Ghana protests Monsanto Law

Ghana protests Monsanto Law

If you are a farmer, you save your seeds, even more so if you are a subsistence farmer. It is part of what you do, it is what farmers have done for generations. Save the seeds from the harvest, selecting out the best seeds from the best crops, sowing the seeds, looking after the crop, harvesting the crop, saving the seeds, and so the cycle repeats itself season after season.

By this process of selection, farmers select what is best suited to their land, their environment, their climate.

It results in many thousands of varieties, not a handful of varieties that make agriculture prone to disasters.

With the rapid change occurring under climate change, we need this wide genetic variety.

Sometimes disaster strikes, the crop fails. In parts of the world when this happens, farmers bring in seeds from another farm, another village, they still plant their own saved seed, but they will also plant the new seed.

In Ghana, this upsets the profits of Monsatan aka evil Monsanto. How can they sell seeds if farmers insist on sowing their own seeds? How can they sell their nasty chemicals, if farmers have crops that are performing well, when generations of farmers have selected seeds that suit their farm, their locality.

Monsanto has the answer. Outlaw the saving of seeds, then farmers have no choice than to buy from Monsatan, Monsanto Law as it is known. Under the Monsanto Law, farmers that use seed varieties claimed under new intellectual property rights by individuals and companies anywhere in the world risk hefty fines or even imprisonment.

Corrupt politicians in Ghana, like corrupt politicians everywhere, are for sale to the highest bidder. they will happily enslave their own country, so long as their own pockets get lined.

What is happening in Ghana, is part of a trend across Africa, industrialisation of agriculture, food produced not for local mouths to be shipped to Western markets.

Please sign the petition calling for the scrapping of Monsanto Law.

The UK as a member of G8, is one of those countries under the guise of Third World aid, is pushing Monsanto Law via New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which in essence is a global corporate land grab for Africa, colonisation Mk II.

Please ask your Member of Parliament to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM 466) on Food Sovereignty.

In Guatemala, large-scale protests forced its government to cancel a similar law restricting the use of indigenous seed. We can do the same in Ghana.

Monsanto is the epitome of evil.

Distributed sharing and collaboration v centralised control

November 24, 2014

Distributed, grass-roots, mass mobilisation, direct action, collaboration, peer-to-peer, sharing …

Direct action is the only action that works.

Direct action kicked the Rachman Benyon Brothers off the New Era Estate.

Mass mobilisation, does not have to be people on the street, though that can at times be impressive, as we saw with Tahir Square, Gezi Park and more recently in Hong Kong and Hungary.

UK Uncut puts out the word, it spreads person to person, Occupy Starbucks. A day is agreed and across the country Starbucks is occupied, a visual protest against tax dodging.

Confusion, the same confusion when the mainstream media reports on sharing and collaboration and confuses with centralised, corporate owned websites.

Uber is a centralised mechanism, established by venture capitalists to enable unlicensed, unregulated drivers to undercut legitimate taxi drivers. And the Uber workforce is now complaining they are paid a pittance. But did they not realise the consequence of Uber, was to not only drive down fares, but to drive down their earnings, the only beneficiary being Uber?

A sharing site, would be a local car pool. Driver X is going from A to B, he offers room, passengers Y and Z are looking to get a ride from A to B, the site links them up.

We have sites like TaskRabbit where people bid for work, only it is reverse auction, they drive the price down.

I see little difference between Airbnb and booking a hotel through Booking.com or Expedia. The main difference, accommodation in an unregulated sector.

What is being given as example of the new economy, the sharing collaborative economy, is not, what we are being given are examples of Platform Capitalism. Even Avaaz, is an example of Platform Capitalism.

A better example to have given would have been bandcamp. Established to support musicians (though not owned by them), easy to downland, easy to share, musicians can set a fair price, users can pay what they choose, artists do not get ripped off, even get to share the data, no abuse of personal data, no advertising. Contrast with iTunes, Amazon, or even far worse spotify, which are no different in the way they behave than major record labels.

In an article on New Power in Harvard Business Review Jeremy Heimans gives Alpha course as an example of distributed, power. It is anything but, having seen their internal not for public showing material, and participated (if participation is the correct word). It is a highly centralised brainwashing operation. Groups are told they have to use the approved material (which they have to pay for, no open commons here), to get better bums-on-seast reults. Meetings are very closely controlled and monitored to keep people on track, deviation, questioning not tolerated, questions yes, questioning no.

New Power, a meaningless buzz word invented by charlatans. But no doubt its prophets can charge a hefty fee for attending their briefing sessions.

Periodically, I read articles in the mainstream press. They have stumbled upon the collaborative, sharing economy. Not having a clue what it is. They write an article about Platform Capitalism, a mention of Airbnb, Uber, and that is about it.

Harvard article and Ted talk, little more than techno babble for the ignorant, presented by a snake oil salesman.


November 23, 2014

Monkeys have an innate sense of fairness, treat one differently, and they all get very angry.

What though is fair?

I have a pot of money. I give each an equal share. Most would consider that to be fair.

I have a pot of money. I give it out depending upon how hard people work, how deserving.

I have a pot of money. I give it out according to need, how deserving.

Out of all three, which is fair?

Fairness depends upon context, upon culture, upon underlying principles.

A principle, thou shall not torture.

What if we have intelligence of a bomb plot, we have a suspect who can furnish more details, but will not talk?

A principle, thou shalt not kill.

A madman on the loose, a suicide belt, armed with a Kalashnikov.

An experiment. Students were divided into two groups. One group to be prisoners, the other group their guards. To make the experiment realistic, the prisoners were dragged out of their beds, dragged down and thrown into the cells. Within a very short space of time, the experiment had to be terminated, the guards were abusing the prisoners.

An experiment. Volunteers were asked to take part in an experiment. They were asked to administer mild electrical shocks to people to aid their learning. For each wrong answer, they would administer an electric shock. Too many wrong answers. They were then told to keep increasing the voltage. They increased to dangerous levels, to lethal levels. Those being administered the electric shocks, the poor unfortunate slow learners, were writhing and screaming in pain, pleading for them to stop, but still the voltage kept rising. Even though some questioned the levels of the electric shocks, the danger, they allowed their qualms to be overridden by an authoritative figure ordering them to continue. The experimental subjects, were not those who were being administered the shocks, the learners, they were actors, the subjects were the volunteers.

In most countries, citizens and companies are required to pay tax. In some, it is regarded as a civic duty to pay, in others dodging tax is what you do.

In Stockholm, a trust-based system that passengers have a ticket to travel on the public transport network. When I suggested people might dodge their fare, get on and off without a ticket, it was regarded with shock horror. I found the same in Istanbul using the tram, it was entirely on trust that people had a ticket as they hopped on and off the tram. A girl showed me how to get a ticket and paid my fare. I suggested people could simply hop on and off, she looked at me with horror, it was something people would not do. It was not the risk of getting caught, it was something you did not do.

In England, barriers at stations, people treated like criminals, sky high fares, appalling train service.

Big Label record companies criminalise those who may wish to listen to music, rip off the fans, rip off the artists. People quite happily copy the music, share with their friends.

On bandcamp, artists set a low price or zero, fans decide the price they pay in the full knowledge that most of what they pay will find its way into the pockets of the artists, not the coffers of a global corporation. No one abuses the system, fans will often pay much higher than the asking price. Sharing is actively encouraged.

Eighty five people, the richest on the planet, who could easily fit in a double-decker bus, have as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity. Is that fair?

The wealth of the richest 0.1% in America is about to exceed that of bottom 90%. Is that fair?

If it is not fair, a massive transfer of wealth is taking place from the poor to the rich, why are people not getting angry? Monkeys would.

We get into a vehicle, we automatically reach out for the seat belt and fasten it. It was not always so. When governments introduced seat belts, there was strong opposition from a vociferous minority, who thought it somehow infringed their freedom.

The government intervened because of the senseless loss of lives.

Similarly government intervened on drinking and driving, on smoking in public places.

Why then no government intervention on junk food, on mass transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, on the trashing of the planet, on global warming. Surely it cannot be fair, that a few benefit to the disadvantage of the many?

Google Play wipes out books on Android app update

November 23, 2014

Yesterday afternoon around 1730 GMT or maybe a little later, Google Play decided to update Google Play books and several other apps.

Icon for Google Play books was replaced by a meaningless icon (before it was an open book) and all books wiped out.

I tried to read This Changes Everything. An error message to connect to internet. I was connected to internet.

Complaint sent to Google Play.

1815 GMT, tried off-line to read This Changes Everything. An error message telling me to go on-line to download the book.

Later that evening, a complaint sent to Google Play.

No response from Google Play, no apology, no explanation.

Twenty four hours on, I am still waiting for an explanation, an apology.

I am now requiring an explanation, an apology, and credit on my Google Play account as compensation.

Marios art exhibition

November 22, 2014
Marios art exhibition

Marios art exhibition

Located in the alley the other side of the building to the alley where The Barn was until it closed. Marios used to run The Barn.

I thought it was an exhibition, it was not, it was work on display and for sale, but it at least lured me down the alley where I had never ventured before.

Interesting pieces, my only criticism, not original sketches etched onto the wood. At least I am assuming so, Marios was not there to ask, I could be doing him a grave disservice.

The location an interesting art gallery, with interesting pieces on sale, not the overpriced tat that was in the shop between the two alleys, poetic justice it has closed to be turned into a Poundland.

It is well worth a venture down this alley.

Whilst I was there, one of the pieces by Marios was sold.

I spent the afternoon chatting to the owner of the gallery. I had hoped Marios would show. She called him, but he was too busy.

An interesting clock in the gallery. A Saxon clock, one hand marks out the minutes, the other the day.

Poetic justice

November 22, 2014
poetic justice

poetic justice

Poetic justice to see the shop that sold overpriced tat to gullible fools closed down and turned into a Poundland.

Poetic justice? They caused nothing but grief to their neighbours in the alleys either side. For once a little poetic justice in the world.

Sad though to see a £250,000 marble staircase smashed to pieces. Surely they could have salvaged the marble?

The shop used to be Woolworths. Aldershot acquired by 99p Stores, Farnborough Poundland.

Does Farnham need a Poundland? A moot point.

It will save a trip to Aldershot, where there are three pound shops, or Farnborough where there are two.

At least there are no junk food outlets in Farnham, and let us hope it stays that way.


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