Archive for January, 2017

Coffee Aroma ordered to remove tables and chairs from the street

January 30, 2017

Coffee Aroma has been ordered by Lincolnshire County Council to remove by four o’clock in the afternoon the tables and chairs outside their coffee shop.

Walk from Coffee Aroma to Lincolnshire County Council around lunchtime and you will find en route vehicles illegally parked on the footpath, obstructing the footpath and forcing pedestrians out into the road into the path of lorries on a busy highway. Many jobsworth are walking to and fro, it is after all lunchtime. Report to local traffic wardens, the police or Lincolnshire County Council and what action is taken? Er, nothing.

This is the council headed by the Philistine Martin Hill, a man who shows arrogant contempt for the public. Who thought it ok to close two-thirds of the public libraries in the county, the remainder on limited hours. His latest crude power grab is to hold a referendum, at taxpayers expense, to have only one council for the whole of Lincolnshire. No guessing, it would be his council.

An edict issued by a worthless jobsworth with nothing better to do.

This is classic jobsworth, trying to justify their existence.

These are what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs,  jobs that exist to employ people who perform no useful function.

Classic bullshit jobs, half a dozen migrants with dirty rags and a bucket of water replacing an automatic car wash.

But why is there a need to remove the tables and chairs by four o’clock?

The tables and chairs are behind bollards defining what was once the footpath in a pedestrianised street.  Even if there was traffic flowing down the street,  they would not be obstructing the highway.

This is a pedestrianised street, as is the High Street, as is Sincil Street.

But before ten o’clock in the morning, large lorries drive up the High Street, often until at least sometime after 10-30. Then a repeat after four o’clock.

These are pedestrianised streets, there should be no motorised traffic.

In all these streets, the heavy lorries apart from danger to pedestrians, are destroying the road surface, more cost to local tax payers, more jobs bullshit jobs created.

These vehicles should be barred, a pedestrianised area, should be that, a pedestrianised area 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An area for people, an area where they are safe.

This is the norm in pedestrianised town centres across Europe.

Lorry deliveries to an offloading area on edge of the town centre, then delivered by barrow or hand cart.

This is the norm in Istanbul, Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, Santigo de Compostela, Athens, and many other towns and cities.

It is also the norm to see people sat outside, as for example outside El Café del Aguere in La Laguna, the only place in Tenerife that serves a decent cup of coffee.

Not only sat outside, but not hemmed in by a barrier.

Coffee Aroma is a very popular coffee shop, and even in winter, it is always busy, not only inside, but also people sat outside.

What we are seeing, apart from creation of bullshit jobs, is ethnic cleansing of small businesses.

Sincil Street, up until a couple of years ago, was busy, many indie business, more people on the street from ten o’clock to four o’clock than in the High Street. Now Sincil Street is dead, boarded up shops, rents unaffordable, thanks the the Coop acting in cahoots with the City Council.

The same is true of the Central Market. Dead.

A good market brings people into a town centre.

In the Central Market there is a fruit and vegetable stall. Once a month on a Saturday, they are denied their pitch. On that day, third Saturday of the month, a flea market. On what would be their busiest day the only day the Central Market is busy they are denied a pitch.

North Laine in Brighton, three streets and associated side streets, indie shops, not a single chain store, is always busy.

Small independent businesses circulate money within the local economy. Chains such as Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks suck that money straight out of the local economy.

Postcapitalism can go one of two ways.

Precarious, part-time, zero-hours, temporary, soul-destroying McShit jobs; bullshit jobs serving no useful purpose; serfs working for apps at often less than the minimum wage, Uber, Deliveroo, Wheelys.

Or we can have small businesses, open coops, sharing, collaborative commons, a basic income for all.

Which begs the question, is a  barista a bullshit job? Or meaningful work?

The answer depends upon where you work. If Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks, yes, a soul destroying McShit job. If somewhere like Coffee Aroma, no, a creative job where enjoy what you are doing taking pride in the work.

Children’s experience of the Bombing War

January 25, 2017

In the interwar years, the theory was, all out war, total war. Destroy the cities, destroy the factories, destroy the workers, kill the means of production, destroy morale and the will to go on.

Aerial bombing may have had impact on Arab tribes, possibly because the experience was alien to them

Off the scale was kill millions, wipe out the cities.

Whilst this may be possible today, with the exception of Guernica, which even horrifies today, and Dresden, it was not possible.

Analysis of aerial footage, showed only about five percent of the targets were hit, and from British experience, it was known it was possible to recover very quickly, even when factories were damaged.

Each bomber produced had on average a lifetime of fourteen operational sorties. How best to make use of limited resources?

It was decided to change tack, destroy the housing, an easier target to hit. If the workers had nowhere to live, they would be demoralised.

But again, what basis was there for this?

It was decided to carry out a survey of children, what was their experience of bombing, the 1942 British bombing survey.

Two cities were chosen, Birmingham and Hull. The children were asked to write essays, the essays were then analysed to see what understanding could be drawn from those essays.

The children aged 10 to 12 years old, were asked to write an essay What Happened to Me and What I Did in the Air Raids.

Mrs Ingram got an incendiary bomb in her back bedroom and my father and brother put it out.

…there was a little bang and my brother said that he would have to go out as it was a firebomb and he would have to put it out. While he was putting it out a bomb dropped and blew him inside the shelter again.

When we got into the house there wasn’t half a mess. I started to tidy up and then I lighted [sic] the fire and made my mother and the two other children a nice hot cup of tea.

I was glad that I could do something to help, for there was a lady who came into our shelter who was very frightened. She had a little child of one and a half years. The lady was trembling, I took the little baby, and every time a bomb came down I threw a pillow over myself and the little girl, who was called Sheila. She kept crying but at last I hushed her to sleep.

What these essays showed was the children were coping, the families were coping. They show  the normality, life went on, a bomb may have dropped, put it right with a nice cup of tea.

Dad may be working during the day, on fire watch at night. If injured, he came home, was patched up by Mum and went straight back out again.

Brother helped put out the fires.

Mum looked after the household possessions, tidied and cleaned up the house after a bombing raid.

Sister helped Mum keep order, looked after the little ones, made a nice hot cup of tea.

They coped.

They saw after the initial horror of the bombing raids, the city was not destroyed, they could cope, life went, you kept on smiling. You may be afraid, but that was normal to be afraid.

If the intention was to reduce productivity capacity, or destroy morale, it failed.

This then questioned the effectiveness of bombing German cities.

It also raises question of why the policy of evacuating children from the cities to the countryside.  No only were they able to cope, they actually provided a support mechanism for the family.

And we know, when children were evacuated, they very quickly returned home.

A fatalistic attitude, if we are going to die, we may as well all die together.

We see this today in Syria. Assad does not control the countryside. The only way he controls the cities is by reducing to rubble.

And Assad does not cow the people. When they are finally forced to leave, they are still defiant, the children are defiant. The children even go on-line and record their experiences to let the world know.

The only main difference between Syria and WWII, is that WWII, very clearly defined roles between men and women, whereas in the north of Syria there are very effective Kurdish all-women fighting units.

A future research project, ask the children from  Aleppo to write an essay  What Happened to Me and What I Did in the Bombing Raids.

An excellent talk by Dr James Greenhalgh, senior lecturer, at University of Lincoln Riseholme Campus.

Dr James Greenhalgh is author of a forthcoming book on this topic.

Cappuccino in Makushi Coffee Shop

January 24, 2017

I tried Makushi a couple of weeks ago.

Passing The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop, he suggested visit Makushi.

Good idea, I just had time to walk half way up Steep Hill and back.

Wonderful ambience inside.

From the outside, it does not look anything special, nor do you have the impression of how old.

Whitewashed walls, stonework projecting through, excellent use of off cuts of wood.

The wood off cuts also used for wonderful solid wooden tables.

Further in, another room, then beyond that an undercroft.

Upstairs leads to a terrace, though at the moment not open.

Dog friendly.

Excellent cappuccino, but …

When I had a cappuccino a couple of weeks ago, the cappuccino had an unpleasant taste, that left an unpleasant aftertaste.

Today, no unpleasant taste, but did have a strange taste.

Makushi roast beans and supply The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

Cappuccino from The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop lacks the strange taste, though their preparation of the coffee slightly different, also use a different machine, and one shot not two.

Something that needs further investigation.

Prices are a little on the high side, £2-80 for a cappuccino, £5 for a bowl of soup.

Makushi is located half way up Steep Hill. Below where once was the excellent Readers Rest, sadly no more. The two would have complimented each other.

The strange name? Apparently Makushi is the name of a tribe in the Amazon, who the owner, who I met and complimented for the work on the building,  had spent time with learning survival skills, and with had his first experience of coffee.

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

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Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

I am a nasty woman

January 22, 2017

Ashley Judd reciting ‘I am a nasty woman’  at Women’s March In Washington DC.

The Alchemist: four hundred and twenty three weeks in New York Times best-seller list

January 22, 2017

Congratulations Paulo Coelho, Sunday The Alchemist four hundred and twenty three  weeks in New York Times best-seller list, ie eight years and two months.

What a way to start 2017.

Not bad for a book that was first published nearly three decades ago.

Good books spread by word of mouth. Only rubbish needs marketing hype.

Telling the truth is a revolutionary act

January 22, 2017

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. — George Orwell

The Party told you to reject all evidence with your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. — George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

The point is that the attacks and the attempts to delegitimize this president in one day — and we’re not going to sit around and take it.  – Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff

The method for taking over the state and for it becoming a totalitarian police state, is always the same, and it’s always the identification of ‘the other’ as the enemy. In Trump’s case, it’s the Chinese, the Mexicans, and Islam – it doesn’t matter who it is. With Hitler, it was the Jews, the Communists, the Gypsies, anybody who had a physical deformity, or whatever it might be, the homosexuals – they were all lumped together. — Roger Waters

The resistance begins today. — Roger Waters

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, war is peace.

On Inauguration Day, the crowds in Washington were far fewer than for the Inauguration of Barack Obama. The anti-Trump protest, Women’s March, the next day, dwarfed that for the Trump Inauguration.

Estimates of the Women’s March put it at three times for the Trump Inauguration.  The Metro reported it carried three times as many passengers on Saturday as on Friday.

In cities across America, massive anti-Trump demonstrations.  No only in USA, across the world. There was a massive demonstration in Sydney.

But no, according to Trump the media was lying.

If Trump lies on the size of a  crowd, can we believe him on anything he says?

His White House press mouthpiece repeated the lie.  Repeated the lie and launched an unprecedented attack on the media.

When White House chief of staff threatens the media, says will not tolerate media questioning  legitimacy of the Trump presidency, this has shades of Nazi Germany.

What is he going to do, lockup up journalists as they do in Turkey, kill journalists as in  Russia?

In Mexico they have a phrase for Trump, Trump Eres Un Pendejo, Trump, you’re an arsehole.

#J20 The Other Inauguration

January 21, 2017

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. — Desmond Tutu

20 January 2016, saw Donald Trump sworn in as US President.

He has taken office with the lowest poll rating of any US President in modern times.

The day started with banner drops on bridges across the world, Build Bridges not Walls.

It was the sign of things to come.

The night before, massive protest outside Trump Tower in New York.

A sign of things to come, in Washington on Inaugural Day, the police were teargassing, using pepper spray and stun grenades on protesters.

Today in Washington, Women’s March dwarfed the crowds for Trump on Friday.

This was repeated in towns across the US, and across the world.

If Inauguration Day was Day 0, this was Day 1, this is only the beginning.

The surprise is that BBC covered, let alone put at the top of their news coverage, as usually they ignore all protests.

A system in transition, offers the opportunity for change. Trump offers that opportunity if people are prepared to rise to the challenge and seize that opportunity.

Protest now needs turning into action.  Kicking out the corrupt Democrats who lost the election, ordinary people seizing control of Town Halls, following the example of towns and cities across Spain, follow the examples of Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña.

To invest in jobs and people, build open coops, then network those coops.

Flea Market in Central Market

January 21, 2017

Maybe a dozen stalls, plus The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

Busiest I have ever seen the Central Market, whether due to the Flea Market, or because it was a Saturday, I do not know. The High Street was much busier than in the week.

Central Market needs more effort to attract folk to the market, a reflection on the poor management by the City Council, and the local council in cahoots with the Coop destroying the area.

The Flea Market is held the third Saturday of the month.

The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop

January 20, 2017

The world’s smallest coffee shop.

Never wise to make a claim that may not be true, but certainly small.

I had a chat with the young lad running this little coffee shop earlier in the week, and promised him I would be back to try his coffee.

I have of late been trying out some of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln, but can end up having undrinkable coffee, as with The Angel Coffee House, so earlier in the week I played safe and had a coffee in Stokes on High Bridge, always a wise choice, and I was not disappointed, I had an excellent cappuccino.

Today it was the turn of The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

Strictly speaking a tricycle, to provide a platform upon which everything is mounted, in the tradition of ice cream vendors.

A grotty shopping centre is not where I would expect to find good coffee. Shopping centres are the haunt of chains like Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks. Were it not for the fact we had a chat earlier in the week and I knew from where he sourced his coffee, I would not have even tried.

But life is full of surprises.

A kiosk on Guildford Station, is an unlikely place for quality coffee.

The lad knows his stuff, and has a range of coffee methods, maybe too many for a little stall.

Pleasantly surprised, an excellent cappuccino. I would prefer not to have in a takeaway cup, as never does good coffee justice, but needs must.

It is always  pleasure to have a good coffee.  Not on a par with Stokes on High Bridge or Coffee Aroma, but nevertheless excellent. With improvement, a possible contender for inclusion in Northern England Independent Coffee Guide when the third edition is published.

My only criticism, a little weak, maybe use two shots not one, and £2-80 is far too expensive for a cappuccino off a stall, making it one of the most expensive coffees in Lincoln.

The beans are sourced from Makushi, and that was my other reason for wishing to try. I had a coffee from Makushi, an excellent cappuccino, but it had an unpleasant taste, that left an unpleasant aftertaste. Why I do not know. I doubt the barista or the machine which left the beans.  And yet, excellent cappuccino, curiouser and curiouser.  It could be different batch of beans.

Earlier I walked up Steep Hill as far as the Bookstop Cafe, but no time to go all the way to the top, otherwise no time for a coffee when I got back down.

I was shocked to hear that the lovely Olde Worlde bookshop was closing. Driven out by a hike in the rent.

After my coffee, a quick chat in Coffee Aroma.

On leaving, my bag broke, scattering shopping in the street.

Many thanks to the girl with the toddler in a buggie, who helped me gather it all up. And to the lady who insisted I must have her M&S bag to put in all my shopping.