Archive for November, 2013

Bring down the Big Six

November 26, 2013
We're all in this together

We’re all in this together

Looking after our profits

Looking after our profits

According to Office of National Statistics, winter deaths last year up by 29% to 31,000. Coincidently, Big Six profits have soared.

Today protests in London against the Big Six, calls for nationalisation.

Organised by UK Uncut, was trending on twitter in London.

Media blackout as usual by mainstream, media. BBC mentioned rising deaths, fuel poverty, but no mention of protests across the country against the Big Six.

Big Six say prices have to go up, blame green taxes, cost of distribution, cost on wholesale markets.

Energy prices should be high. We then value energy, are frugal in its use. We only have to look at what has happened in the Philippines to see why energy prices should remain high. And no way should energy be subsidised by the taxpayer. Having said that, it does not grant licence to print money by mostly foreign-owned energy companies.

The Big Six bleat about what they call green taxes. Strictly speaking, green and social taxes. This money raised goes to insulation, renewable energy, helping to offset energy costs of those in poverty. These charges account for roughly 10% of the average bill, thus are insignificant.

Those in poverty, pay a significantly higher proportion of their income on fuel. They are also hit proportionately harder when prices rise faster than inflation. The latest price rises are three times the rate of inflation.

Those on benefits, have seen a cut in their benefits, out of which they now have to pay Council tax and Bedroom Tax.

Distribution costs have gone up, allegedly to pay for infrastructure costs.

This leaves wholesale costs. These have remained fairly flat. But when we do see spikes, these are spot market prices. Are we to really believe the Big Six are buying on the spot market, not have long term deals in place?

The Big Six claim they are making little money, that they have massive investment plans to pay for.

At the very least, the Big Six are being economical with the truth. The distribution side of the business does have a relatively low profit margin. Where are the investment costs? There are none. The distribution side merely buys and sells.

And who do the Big Six buy from? The generators. And who owns the generators? The Big Six. And it is the generation side of the business where the Big Six are making a killing.

The Big Six have to be broken up, into generating and distribution companies. We have to have transparency in the market.

The government should not give in to bullying by the Big Six and remove the green and social taxes.

We also need to see a change in the way users are charged for fuel. There should be no standing charge (which proportionately penalises those who use less, especially those who are struggling to pay their bills), a flat rate per KW-hour, and end to confusion pricing.

There can be no excuse for either the standing charge or the confusion pricing. At a petrol station, you do not see a price per litre plus standing charge. At a supermarket checkout, you are not billed for your groceries, then a charge on top for the checkout.

One of the most obscene example of standing charges is levied by SSE. Those with pre-payment meters (usually those in poverty) are already being charged at the highest rate for their fuel. For SSE customers, each time they put £10 on a card, to put money on their prepayment meters, they ae ccharged £1-92 for the privilege of doing so, almost 20%.

Blade Runner: Aquarelle Edition

November 26, 2013

Blade Runner, a chilling film of the near future, was based upon a short story Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick.

Blade Runner Rachel

Blade Runner Rachel

Anders Ramsell has created his own version of Blade Runner, an animation of 12,597 water colour paintings.

Aquarelle is a French term for watercolour that refers specifically to paintings made with a transparent wash. You can’t fix an aquarelle by retouching or painting over a mistake. You have to get it right the first time.

Swedish artist Anders Ramsell painted each frame as a 1.5 x 3cm work of art. All 12,597 of them.

The effect is like listening to a short wave radio with the broadcast fading in and out, or one of the early TVs, where you had to keep moving the antenna, or watching through a silk curtain rippling in the breeze, or watching events unfold sitting on the bed of a stream with the current and a slight breeze rippling the surface.

The images have a surreal post-impressionist strip cartoon feel to them as they flicker past.

Anders Ramsell calls it ‘a 35 minute long paraphrase on the motion picture Blade Runner’.

The FingerPainting Sessions

November 25, 2013
The FingerPainting Sessions Vol I

The FingerPainting Sessions Vol I

The FingerPainting Sessions Vol II

The FingerPainting Sessions Vol II

Last winter, Steve Lawson did a tour in the US with Daniel Berkman, featuring Artemis on vocals. Until they were setting up their gear, Steve and Daniel had never met, and yet, instead of doing two separate gigs they took the risk and decided to perform as a duo. It worked.

Steve Lawson records every note he ever plays, which means by the end of the tour he had a lot of recorded material, over ten hours worth. What to do with it?

He could have released a best of, but decided to release as a multi-album set on a memory stick, plus release as individual albums on bandcamp.

Finger Painting — Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman

Finger Painting — Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman

Four months of mixing, mastering, writing of sleeve notes, he was able to released on a memory stick in a neat little box with sleeve notes. Five of the albums to date have been released on bandcamp.

Today, he has released on bandcamp The FingerPainting Sessions, a two volume album. Volume I and Volume II are available on bandcamp, and The FingerPainting Sessions will be released as a double CD next week.

Artemis will release an album of the vocals from the tour next week.

The opening of Familiar Territory, the first track on Volume I, could be, if I did not know, Vangelis, then half way through Pink Floyd, or to be more specific David Gilmour.

More on the background to FingerPainting, how it came about, can be found on Medium.

Cellist Zoë Keating at work

November 25, 2013

Intro video into Zoë’s music creation process. Will it be the first of many or the last of one? We’ll see…. — Zoë Keating

One of the things I like about Imogen Heap, as well as being a very talented musician, she invites you in to eavesdrop as she creates her work.

Zoë Keating, another very talented musician, has now done the same, has extended an invite to see her at work.

Whether this is a one off or she will follow with more, Zoë has not yet decided.

You’ve Made a Wager of Our Future

November 25, 2013

Following the walkout by environmentalists at COP19, a young Somali activist addressed the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw.

A mere finger can’t obscure the sun. — Somali proverb

We can’t take crumbs from the High Table. — Ruth Nyambura, Kenyan activist

It always seems impossible until it is done. — Nelson Mandela

Absurd Warsaw talks on climate show why we need to take on the fossil fuel industry that impedes all progress. — Bill McKibben

Our message to our political leaders is that nature does not negotiate. — Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Executive Director

Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

There’s a Somali proverb that goes: a mere finger can’t obscure the sun. You cannot hide the truth by deception; as any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here.

Unreported by the mainstream media, earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.

Somali had a sustainable inshore fishing industry. It was destroyed by fishing off its coast using huge EU subsidised factory ships. The Somalis then turned to piracy.

What we saw at the UN Climate Talks was a hijacking by Big Business, by Big Coal, Big Oil, by Greed.

COP20 was sponsored by Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Business.

Next year Lithuania takes over the EU presidency. The Lithuanian presidency are being given 150 cars by BMW. The family that controls BMW has given millions of euros to the ruling party in Germany.

Corporate lobbyists are welcomed, young activists who show solidarity with the Philippines’s head delegate Yeb Saño get slung out by over-zealous security, then banned.

The very businesses who are the root cause of carbon emissions, have their logos plastered all over a conference dealing with climate change.

We cannot rely on corrupt politicians with their snouts in the trough. We have to take on directly the polluters. Be it sponsorship of Tate Britain by BP, be it the Keystone pipeline, be it fracking in Balcombe in Devon.

It is like we are living in two different worlds, in the Philippines several thousand dead, meanwhile for Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Business, it is businesses as usual.

The Philippines emits 0.9 metric tons of carbon per capita. The United States emits 17.6. But the people of the Philippines are now enduring the terrible results of the strongest storm ever measured. Evidence shows that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of tropical storms.

Philippines’s head delegate Yeb Saño:

To anyone outside who continues to deny and ignore the reality that is climate change, I dare them — I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs. I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes, to see communities confronting glacial floods; to the Arctic, where communities grapple with the fast-dwindling sea ice sheets; the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, the Nile, where lives and livelihoods are drowned; to the hills of Central America, that confront similar monstrous hurricanes; to the vast savannas of Africa, where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce — not to forget the monstrous storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard of North America, as well as the fires that have raged Down Under. And if that is not enough, they may want to see what has happened to the Philippines now.

I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food … until a meaningful outcome is in sight; until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund … until the promise of the operationalization of a loss-and-damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles we have so upheld.

Please sign the petition and tell the US you want to see Climate Justice now!

Prior to COP20 in Lima in Peru, there is to be a pre-COP in Venezuela. It will be different, it will be for invited ministers to listen to what the people are saying, not the other way around.

The human race is heading like lemmings over the cliff edge.

The Alchemist: two hundred and seventy-eight weeks in New York Times best-seller list

November 24, 2013
The Alchemist two hundred and seventy-eight weeks New York Times best-seller list

The Alchemist two hundred and seventy-eight weeks New York Times best-seller list

Today, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has notched up two hundred and seventy-eight consecutive weeks in the New York Times best-seller list.

Not bad for a book that was first published twenty-five years ago.

What is equally amazing, is that it is slowly, slowly, creeping up the best-seller list. Last week No 9, this week No 8.

Feliz cumpleaños Christina

November 24, 2013
birthday celebrations for Christina

birthday celebrations for Christina

Christina es una gran persona y una gran artista feliz cumpleaños.

On Saturday, was the birthday of my lovely friend Christina.

Happy Birthday Christina!

The vignettes of her life was put together by another friend Pilar.

Muchas gracias Pilar.

Cafe Sant Feliu

November 24, 2013

Wonderful guitar playing from Alejandro Possetto, brings tears to the eyes.

Also fantastic filming.

I always wonder, why people post shaky videos that look a though shop on a smart phone in a bar or poorly record music, as it does not do them any favours.

I am assuming this is filmed in Mallorca, but I may be wrong.

I met Alejandro Possetto, playing his guitar, on the edge of Playa Jardín, sat outside Castillo de San Felipe en Puerto de la Cruz.

He gave me one of his CDs. I suggested he uploaded to bandcamp. Sadly he has not, but I am pleased to see he has posted music on youtube.


November 23, 2013


What else can I say about Sunna’s music other than I love pretty much everything I’ve ever heard by her. — Steve Lawson

Wonderful late night listening. I wish all albums were this well performed and recorded.

Jazz pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs describes Distilled, as being a continuation of her excellent album Long Pair Bond, featuring the same trio.

Long Pair Bond, which features the same trio: Þorgrímur Jónsson on bass and Scott McLemore on drums. The album consists of 4 of my compositions, 3 by Þorgrímur, 2 by Scott and 1 Paul Motian composition. Plus there are a couple of “Spins” (improvised pieces) which is a continuation from my album The Dream.

Most of the material was developed while we were on the road in 2012, but the first two tunes on the album are more recent compositions. After the new year, we started rehearsing regularly in a small recital hall at the school where Þorgrímur and I teach. Eventually we realized that was the place we felt best and we decided to record the album there, and we recruited the brilliant Kjartan Kjartansson to build a studio around us.

I couldn’t be happier with the results. I hope you are too.

All About Jazz is giving away five free copies of Distilled.

Parts Per Million performance in Tate Britain

November 23, 2013

Should a prestigious art gallery take and launder dirty money?

Parts per Million performance at Tate Britain

Parts per Million performance at Tate Britain

Fifty veiled figures dressed in black today carried out a performance art installation entitled ‘Parts Per Million’

Fifty veiled figures dressed in black today carried out a performance art installation entitled ‘Parts Per Million’

When is a House Warming Party more like a Global Warming Party? When you are Tate and you promote BP — Liberate Tate

This month we have seen the worst typhoon ever recorded hit the Philippines, several thousand dead. It was followed by a large number of tornadoes in the US, which caused extensive damage. A few days ago, six month’s rain was dumped on Sardinia within a couple of hours, causing widespread flooding.

Thursday, environmentalists walked out of the UN Climate Talks in Poland in protest at the failure to make progress and the influence on the talks of Big Coal, Big Oil.

Today, fifty veiled figures dressed in black carried out a performance art installation entitled ‘Parts Per Million’ throughout a series of rooms in the ‘BP Walk Through British Art’ at Tate Britain during the art gallery’s official re-opening. The piece critiqued the role that Tate is playing in exacerbating climate change by bolstering the public perception of BP through its long-standing sponsorship relationship.

The art at Tate Britain was reordered chronologically this year. The Liberate Tate performance began in the ’1840′ room, when the industrial revolution started to significantly impact emission levels, to the present day room with contemporary art created as carbon dioxide levels reached an all-time high of 400 parts per million (ppm). Leading climate scientists consider 350 ppm to be what must be returned to in this century for earth to be safe for human life for generations to come. In each room the Liberate Tate performers arranged themselves in a different configuration and counted aloud en masse the increase in atmospheric carbon ppm during that time period.

‘Parts Per Million’ is the tenth performance at Tate by Liberate Tate: a group that has become internationally renowned for artworks aimed at ending the relationship of Tate and other cultural institutions with oil companies.

One of the performers, Fiona Edwards said:

Any celebration of British art that prominently bears the BP logo is also endorsing that company’s business model which explicitly involves the destruction of a safe, liveable climate. Tate Britain celebrates with a ‘House Warming Party’, but the presence of BP, one of the companies data shows is most responsible for climate change due to its carbon emissions, makes it more of a ‘Global Warming Party’.

The national collection of British art housed at Tate Britain — art owned by the public — was re-branded the ‘BP Walk through British Art’ in May: in the very week it was announced carbon dioxide levels had reached 400 ppm. A report published earlier this week estimated that BP was responsible for 2.5% of global historic emissions.

Terri Fletcher of Liberate Tate said:

Tate’s vision statement says that it will ‘demonstrate leadership in response to climate change’. Yet oil companies like BP are actively looking for ways to expand their markets and find new reserves at a time when the world needs to be dramatically reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are being burnt. By actively promoting BP, Tate is positioning itself on the side of the fossil fuel companies that are actually creating dangerous climate change.

There is growing concern from artists, Tate members and visitors that Tate is providing support to a corporation creating climate chaos and forcing climate-conscious gallery visitors into an uncomfortable position if they want to enjoy art at Tate (the mission of the art museum is to promote public enjoyment of art). Last year Tate said in a reply to a freedom of information request that it had received more representations raising concerns about BP’s sponsorship than any other issue since the oil company became linked to the gallery in 1990.

The ‘BP Walk through British Art’ is just one element of oil company branding at Tate. There are presently 33 BP logos at Tate Britain and in recent months this number has gone up to 42. Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell asked: “I wonder if BP realises how sick of its initials some of us are? Not only is there now a BP Walk, but there are BP Displays of Turner, Blake and Moore, and BP Spotlights too. Are we soon to buy BP sandwiches in the BP café, drink BP water from the BP waterspout, and dry our hands on BP paper in the BP loo?”

Since 1990, when BP first attached itself to Tate and its collection, much has changed: the scientific evidence of climate change due to burning hydrocarbons and the negative social and environmental impacts of oil companies, BP in particular, is now clear and far more widely known amongst the public, including art lovers.

Tate has placed BP sponsorship “under review”. BP has dominated the Tate Members Annual General Meeting (AGM) for years.

In 2012 Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota promised Tate members ethical alternatives would be explored so that Tate trustees had a choice not to continue BP sponsorship. A progress report is due at the 2013 AGM on 6 December.

Lord Browne, chair of Tate’s Board of Trustees, is former head of BP, an adviser to the government, a key proponent of fracking and directly involved with the company that was fracking in Balcombe.

Liberate Tate is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.

Previous performance art at the Tate has included:

  • ‘The Gift’: a 16.5 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in an unofficial performance involving over 100 members of Liberate Tate (July 2012).
  • Human Cost’: a performance in Tate Britain on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion (April 2011) when a naked member of the group had an oil-like substance poured over them on the floor in an exhibition that was part of ‘BP British Art Displays’.
  • ‘Dead in the water’: a contribution to Tate Modern 10th Birthday celebrations (May 2010) by hanging dead fish and birds from giant black helium balloons in the Turbine Hall.
  • ‘License to spill’: an oil spill at the Tate Summer Party ‘celebrating 20 years of BP support’ (June 2010).

Edited version of longer article published on Medium.

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