Unclear on nuclear?

hiro.c.

Another WWII anniversary seventy years on as the conflict drew to its conclusion. Not a military extravaganza of marching veterans, regimental flags, displays of military hardware, or fly-bys. There may be no laying of wreaths for the fallen soldiers or the hubris of battles won. It’s the anniversary of the unleashing of a mighty and destructive force, the Atom bomb, and the advent of nuclear weapons.

Was the opening of Pandora’s box a force for good or a force for evil? Seventy years on and the nuclear debate remains unresolved. Our planet has eight countries with a nuclear capability which, claim its advocates, are a deterrent to would be aggressors. In support of the case for a nuclear arsenal the acronym ‘MAD’ (mutually assured destruction), a doctrine of military strategy and national security, sold the case for the deterrent and as a cunning proposition of non-aggression.

In recent years following SALT2 and arms reduction, though not elimination, public awareness or concern for nuclear weapons seems to have virtually disappeared, with the odd spike to reinforce the subconscious fear and ensure the silos remain armed. Is that down to a healthy appetite for celebrity and reality TV shows, the 21st century’s “opiate of the masses?” So all is well.

Well? Well not quite. Britain’s nuclear arsenal is under attack from those troublesome Scots. The SNP are determined not to host the new generation of Trident missiles on their turf. Now another voice has been added to the debate. The Labour MP and leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has pitched his tent in the anti-Trident camp. Hooray for the voices of sanity in a MAD debate.

Our current Conservative Government has put the fear of god into the electorate with battle cries of austerity and immigration. It has imposed draconian measures on the public to ensure we do not live beyond our means, yet they intend spending £100bn on Trident in the US arms market for our security. Now that is MAD. No actually it’s fucking insane!

The Highwayman

highwayman

“Hear me people. We have now to deal with another race – small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break and the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule”

Chief Sitting Bull speaking at the Powder River conference in 1877

A Highwayman has taken to our streets, highways and wallpaper. A horse tied to the railings at No.11 Downing Street reveals the identity of the criminal as the incumbent, Mr.George Osborne, Chancellor (and chancer) of the Exchequer. I expect he will be phoning his barrister or arranging for my transportation to a penal colony for such an accusation.

Below I present the case for the prosecution.

Under the new rules, dating back to October 2014, DVLA no longer issue the Tax Disc, which was first introduced in 1921. The new system employs the wonders of digital tech, a ”move into the modern age’ according to the Treasury, to inform, issue and collect road tax. This seems imminently sensible, whilst also removing paper waste, approx.72 tons per annum, from the system and the DVLA’s contribution to a green revolution. Well maybe. I suspect there may be a Jeremy Clarkson Design added to the Autumn Collection at Osborne and Little.

Buying a second hand car previously had sometimes the bonus of a prepaid tax disc with some months to run before having to be renewed by the new ‘keeper’. That has now gone meaning the new ‘keeper’ is immediately responsible for updating the road tax while the previous owner receives a refund. Stay with me as the devious manoeuvres of the Treasury and said Minister are yet to come.

The flip side of the new system is more Gutenberg Press than high end digital. If a vehicle sold on carries a valid tax disc with some months to run the DVLA will reimburse the owner for full calendar months as with the old system. So a vehicle sold mid month is refunded from the beginning of the following month. However the new ‘keeper’ will pay from the beginning of the month in which the vehicle is purchased. In simple terms the car is taxed twice for the same month. With 42% of motorists unaware of the implications of the changes that’s a big lump of free money to the Treasury.

When I queried the DVLA on this their pat response was ” That is the rule”. So we have a 21st Century vehicle taxing system that leans heavily on the exploits of Dick Turpin, the 18th century highwayman, or a clever wheeze the Chancellor picked up from his banking cronies.

Application of “Modern Age” technologies provide us with the ability to make measurements to the Nth decimal point, discover exo- planets in solar systems light years from our own, yet DVLA cannot divide months up into days, hours and minutes. If this ‘new’ system is to be accepted as new then someone needs their knuckles rapped Mr.Osbourne.

p.s. will it be back to wallpaper salesman after the election?

War and Peace

war-and-peace

The Balaclava, was a knitted woollen helmet produced by the good ladies of the Empire for British soldiers during the Crimean War. Sent during the winter of 1854 to provide warmth and the comfort of knowing they were still remembered back home, while they laid siege to the strategic port of Balaklava on the Black Sea.

In later years it became the headgear of adventurers, walkers, climbers, and of course school children during a brisk British winter. My own kids, in their days of innocence, wore bright red balaclavas to keep their little heads warm during the cold, dark winter months. Their little faces and rosy cheeks framed in an oval of wool provided a familiar snapshot of childhood.

The design has evolved and is now de rigeur kit for any self respecting terrorist. The many paramilitary groupings in N.Ireland donned the now familiar headgear to secure their anonymity while also achieving the sinister threat of their presumed status. Murals on gable walls portrayed these factions with redtop slogans: ‘Prepared for Peace, Ready for War’ showing armed and uniformed fighters wearing black balaclavas and gloves, obviating the need for the street artist to attempt faces and hands.

The anonymity the Balaclava provided was so successful that Police in many countries have adopted the fashion. Footage of Riot police in the Robocop Hollywood style adaptation of the uniform can be seen cracking skulls with impunity. This masking of identity is sinister since public servants are paid to uphold the law yet their transgressions are above the law; the MET’s actions during the G20 summit in London, 2011 for example: ID no’s removed, kettling, and manslaughter.

Islamic State is another proponent of the Balaclava. Their quasi-religious zeal and logic plucked from the medieval mind of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi lacks any empathy for human kind. Ubiquitous images of marching jihadi’s in black Spiderman uniforms further demonstrates this desire to be anonymous.

A question for the Balaclava wearer: If you are to represent the law you uphold, or the righteousness of the path you tread, of the necessity for the rest to follow, then why hide your face?

All of the above is an opinion, one of 7 billion. The issue of Arms Manufacture and distribution has to be high on the agenda of how we as human beings move forward. The world seems awash with ingenious methods of murdering our fellowmen, which begs the question: Who profits from this in real terms?

War or Peace?

target

War. Wars give Government a sense of purpose and good media copy. We do wars well. We have devised weaponry down the generations for face-to-face combat and remote assassination. Children of the digital age are proficient at virtual war on their games consoles some graduating to actual combat. Images of drone strikes half way across the world delivered by an operative in a bunker in the Nevada desert are common and will become more so as the technology develops. Faceless combatants murder innocents in cases of mistaken identity. Collateral damage? No no. MURDER

Who are the winners in this war? Certainly not human beings. An increasing humanitarian crisis ensues of displaced peoples, of woman and children whose security has been robbed in the name of security, whose innocence is not considered by those who perpetrate these obscenities.

It’s not surprising that the Arms Industry is a global leader. Their agenda does not factor in the devastation to human life they facilitate, or the misery they cause. The numbers don’t figure on the bottom line. Investors, shareholders and governments are the beneficiaries not those on the delivery end of the product Such blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life can only be described as evil. Is there another word?

Peace. Now there’s a word we’ve bounced about in our vocabulary for a million generations. And, as yet, seem to have either misplaced or misunderstood it’s meaning. Our culture is awash with symbolism purporting to address our conviction. T-shirts, flags and Christmas cards emblazoned with the word amount to no more than lip service to the potential. Gatherings of protestors, revellers and photo op’s feature the two-fingered salute that signifies ‘Peace’. All this amounts to little more than pissing into the wind. Meanwhile religion offers an afterlife ‘kingdom of heaven’ to all who follow their tenets. What about ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’? Just another slogan to entice the gullible?

How refreshing and what a privilege to have been a delegate at ‘A Time for Peace” with Prem Rawat in Dublin. The clarity and focus of his presentation leaves me in no doubt that this man knows exactly what peace is and how to open human beings to the possibility of actually achieving it in their own lives.

 

“ When people are at peace the world will be at peace”.  Prem Rawat

 

 

 

Groundhog Day 1

Amazon1

It’s Day 1

In Britain Amazon turned £4.2bn last year and paid corporation tax of £2.4m. It pays mostly just above the minimum wage yet is feted by the British Government on the grounds of job creation in areas of high unemployment. So grateful are the Government that they have given grants in excess of Amazon’s corporation tax. The Government also pays tax credits to the ‘associates’ to top up their meagre wage. That will be from Day 1 since it’s always Day 1 with Jeff.

Amazon employs somewhere in the region of 21,000 people in Britain in several large warehouses. These Employees (‘associates’) work from Day 1 in ‘fulfilment centres’ where employment is neither secure nor fulfilling. Jeff’s inspiration for the business model is more Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ than George Lucas’ ‘American Graffiti’

The efficiency of the organisation is exemplary in its ability to deliver goods. Oh that our Government was a percentage as efficient. Instead we are lumbered with worshippers of a Golden Cow. All this edifice can really provide for the people of this country is a false profit.

Jeff is said to be canny and secretive with his future ventures. I suspect he may be developing an army of the legendary Amazonians to marshal us mere mortals to his will. Not so with Blue Origin. This is Day 1 expansionism. He is fast exhausting the Blue Planet and its inhabitants with his wilful exploitation. Such notions as ‘associate’ and ‘fulfilment centres’ are laughable in one whose corporation is a purveyor, amongst its 100 million items, of self help and self fulfillment books . The man may be a success in dot.com world on Day 1 but as a human being he’s a ‘fuckwit’.

OXFORD Dictionary

NOUN

 ‘fuckwit’      

VULGAR SLANG

A stupid or contemptible person (often used as a general term of abuse).

The Oxford Dictionary can be purchased from Amazon.

Unfortunately a social conscience, Mr. Bezos, you will not find on Amazons shelves.

 

 

Other useful definitions in the Oxford Dictionary

NOUN

associate

 Pronunciation: /əˈsəʊʃɪət

A partner or companion in business or at work

NOUN

fulfilment

Pronunciation: ful¦fil|ment

Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s potential

Is there anybody out there?

 

seti

The search continues unabated for extra terrestrial life out there in the vastness of space. Radio telescopes are the explorer’s tool of choice. These giant dishes point at the sky in search of faint signals, which may indicate other intelligent beings in some far flung corner of the universe.

Using the Drake formula Astronomers have concluded that there are 50,000 exoplanets capable of sustaining some form of extra terrestrial life. Now Frank Drakes formula, for those of a scientific or mathematical bent, is based on assumptions and probabilities.

Drake

 

OK so far?

The boffins may rightly take exception to my take on their research, but the variables are invariable. For instance, I dare suggest that after 120 years of wireless communication we are novices in harnessing radio signals, having only recently upgraded from amplitude modulation to frequency modulation. So it’s a big ask that somewhere out there ET has the ham radio set in the attic tuned to a similar waveband. That so much energy is invested in this quest raises more questions than it can hope to answer. Even assuming we receive a signal from deep space what will be the response? A new generation of intergalactic CB enthusiasts,

”Breaker, Breaker First Mama “4 10” Big Dipper”

The more likely outcome will be the Ukippers of the planet screaming from the rooftops about health tourists, state scroungers and job thieves.

“Oh yes, we in Britain know all about that. So don’t think you’ll be welcome here with open arms intelligent or not!”

Any Intelligent Extraterrestrial checking out planet Earth will already have concluded that current world events don’t add up to a tourist friendly location not even for residents.

“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”      Humphery Bogart as Rick in Casablanca.

Thanks for that Rick, but we are talking seven billion isn’t that a game changer?

 

 

Kith and Kin

Saltire

In the inglenook of the Tam O’Shanter, Hamish and Donald are engaged in political exchange, and whisky, on the imminent referendum that could deliver Scotland’s independence from Britain.

“Well, what do ye think?” asks Hamish

“I’m no sure, Hamish. What about?”

“Scottish or British, Donald?”

“Oh Scotch everytime, Laphroaig for me” Donald replies.

“Turn up yer hearin’ aid, ya goose. I’m saying Scottish or British? Will ye vote Yes or No?”

“I’ll be votin’ Yes, so mak’ that a double!”

“Hae’ ye been followin’ the polls?”

“No, I didnae ken they’d qualified fur the World Cup.”

“Ah fur God sake, Donald, pay attention.The opinion polls, the opinion polls. Are ye followin’ me?”

“Oh aye, aye, the opinion polls ‘bout the referendum. Aye 18th September, aye I know. No I havenae”

“How will the Mother of all Parliaments, that lot at Westminster, take a Yes vote do ye think?”

The rafters of the old bar tremble and shudder with a deep and resonant voice,

Gathering her brows like gathering storm,

Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”

“Very profound, Donald, and nae doubt true.”

“What Hamish?”

“And Cameron, I’m wonderin’ how he’ll take to a yes vote.”

“Now Hamish, what has thon wee gobshite ever done for us Scots, eh?”

“And Osborne….”

Again the rafters roar,

Ah wee sleekit, cow’rin’, timorous beastie, 

What a panic’s in tha breastie….”

“Lord, Laddie,” says Hamish,” a drop of the whisky brings out the very soul of this country in ye. We’ll ha’ another will we?”

“Aye, Hamish that wud be a Yes!”

 

Pardon my vernacular but having Scottish kith and kin allows me a little leeway. Well maybe.

 

No paddies

No-Paddies

As human beings we are prisoners to the past and aspirants to the future, yet though we live in the present we rarely spend much time there. The misdeeds of recent history haunt our waking hours. We instigate enquiries and commission reports in an effort to gain ‘closure’. I wonder aloud if this is the serpent eating its own tail.

Ireland is in the news, President Michael D Higgins was this week on a State visit to Britain at the invite of the Queen. This is the first head of the Irish State to be honoured with the full pomp and ceremony of such an occasion. This follows on the heels of the State visit the Queen made to Ireland in 2011 at the invitation of the then President, Mary McAleese.

The Great Hall at Winsor Castle was the venue for the evenings Banquet and speechifying. Ah, but there was an elephant in the room. To the anger and consternation of some in N.Ireland the Deputy First Minister Martin Mc Guinness was also an honoured guest. The alleged Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Republican Army, who were responsible for terrorist atrocities, was in good company. The ex Commander-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, who also ran a campaign of terror in N.Ireland, was present. I am sure Prince Charles and Martin rubbed along rightly, whilst sipping on Talisker and Black Bush.

Long may the talking last and maybe, ex Minister of State for N.Ireland, Peter Hain’s proposal that we draw a line under the past will take root.

Is it naive to hope for a peaceful world? Is it naïve for humanity to expect such an outcome when we are still producing and refining weapons that will dispatch efficiently those whom we label our enemies?

“ To take away a life must always be the ultimate unpardonable act of censorship.” John McGahern

“ I believe that peace will be humanity’s greatest achievement.” Prem Rawat

A message in a bottle

Strange brew

Scarlet Johansson has recently resigned as a Goodwill Ambassador to Oxfam. She has a promotion contract with an Israeli Soft-drinks Company, Sodastream, whose factory is located in the occupied west bank. This apparent conflict of interest provided a contention. Whether Ms. Johannson need explain herself to the world for her sponsorships or ambassadorships is for her. That old adage ‘let he, or she, that is without sin cast the first soda stream canister.’

‘The village that fought back: Five Broken Cameras’ is a documentary compiled from the video diary of Palestinian farmer, Emad Burmat in collaboration with Israeli director Guy David. The documentary about Bil’in villager’s peaceful protest against the annexing of their land with a ‘security barrier’,and settlement provides evidence of murder, violence, bullying, and vandalism by the Israeli Army and West Bank settlers. The 52nd State has a siege mentality that feeds on the support of an international lobby, yet it is responsible for some atrocious human rights violations.

Someone somewhere will hear the anti-semitic klaxon crank up to international volume. When there is focus on the Jewish State, which does not mention Moses or Solomon or Sodastream, it seems destined to wear shame. To clarify my position I was brought to be a disciple of a Jewish Prophet, Jesus.

My sons went to school with a young Israeli guy who spoke English with a liberal use of ‘fuck’, which he had acquired in conversational exchange. I say liberal because it was also used to teachers and parents alike. Lets call him…..Abraham since he willingly sacrificed the English language on the altar of ignorance.

“Cup of tea, Abe?”

“Ah Fuck, yea Gerry. And have you biscuits?”

“Yea I’m sure we can find some.”

“Fuck, great, thank you.”

When Abe returned to Israel to fulfill his destiny and obligations to The State, National Service and the Kibbutz, he kept contact with his school friends. One afternoon I received a call from Israel. Without a preamble the caller stated that he was a Mossad Intelligence Officer and demanded information on the caller responsible for calls to my number from Kibbutz Geshur.

I fear I may be regarded anti-semitic in my response. Pointing out to the caller that if he were, as stated, an Intelligence Officer then it was his job and not mine to answer such questions, so I told him to ‘Fuck off’ and hung up.

Flying in the face of reason.

Proviso

Pushing back into my seat as the aircraft hurtles down the runway and lifts into the air is a thrill, the lingering spectre of Paranoia International Airport, Belfast an irritation.

It begins at the bag drop, the first step into the moral maze, a visceral reaction reminiscent of end of term exam nerves.

“Did you pack this bag yourself? Are you carrying any of the prohibited items listed e.g. a gun, a knife, golf balls, water?”

Jesus! What do these people think I am, a terrorist? I’m going to Spain for a bit of winter sunshine not to join the International Brigade. But that’s entry level to what comes next. People who have not received counselling for sexual dysfunction or have had any hint of humour surgically removed can be found at this stage of your journey,

“ Passport and Boarding Pass. Please have any permitted liquids or cosmetics in sealable plastic bags before entering the security area.”

Right, that will be the Congo Line for penned animals, all shuffling along fidgeting with pockets and bags while trying to maintain some sense of dignity.

“ Place items in the trays provided. Remove your coat, belt, and your shoes too, sir”

Don’t be fooled by that moment of apparent civility, the Crack Squad are on standby with stun guns to take you down if you step out of line.

So all my earthly possessions are on the way to be incinerated, ok scanned for WMD, and I step, unshod, through the Pearly Gates. The scanner bleeps. Fucking ‘Bleeps!’. Eyes turn on me, fellow passengers in sympathy and relief, the securocrats in glee at the opportunity to demonstrate the efficiency of airport security in the ‘War on Terror’. In this instance that would be the infamous ‘Grey Zone’ headed to the Costa del Sol to spend their pension and save on the heating bills back home.

I’m ushered into the controversial Full Body Scanner.

‘Stand with your feet on the marks, and raise your arms above your head” Reichsfuhrer von Po-Face instructs.

Now I am a fucking criminal, the real deal, how proud my parents would be. I step from the Tardis after 3 seconds of high-octane x-ray to be confronted once again by Po-Face. For the benefit of his apprentice he indicates the ciphers on the body map betraying the WMD secreted on my person.

Cipher 1: location lower jaw; Cipher 2: waist.

I venture to ask what exactly this marvelous piece of modern security technology, costing a number with lots of zeros, has revealed. I am not given a reply but asked if I object to a further search. Now tell me, dear readers, what the answer to that question is as my recourse to consulting the oracle has failed. Po-face uses a hand-held scanner, then a thorough finger and thumb search of the waistband of my jeans.

“Would it be the endosteal implant in the molar of my posterior lower jaw and the copper rivets in the waistband of my jeans that are causing such confusion for your technology?”

A further lack of courtesy indicates that the technology, the operator and the government policy are in dire need of recalibration.

Now let me get this right. I decide my partner and I need a mid-winter break. The ease with which this can be achieved is the boon of technology. Book flights, print boarding passes, book hotels, and all so straight forward you want to congratulate yourself on savoir faire. In possession of the relevant documents you set off for the airport, with pre-paid parking voucher, to make that trip. The world of reason inverts when you step onto airport property. Customer? Customer my arse! Expect implants, fillings, dentures, piercings, and clothes to be added to the list of prohibited items, while issue of an orange boiler suit de rigueur

The Security Industry is ruling our lives. Edward Snowden has been excommunicated from the Church of the NSA for telling us so and the Sus Law now applies to 90% of the population. Airports are strangled with this nonsense and customers have become suspects.

Question: How many flights have been the subject of terrorist attack?

I can think of seven.

Question: How many flights, national and international, transit without incident annually?

The answer to that has lots of zeros.

The Security Industry will assure us that the safety of those flights is a consequence of their vigilance.

Question: Do you know why elephants paint their toenails green?

Answer: So they can hide in apple trees.

Question: Have you ever seen an elephant in an apple tree?

Answer: No, demonstrating how effective that ploy is.