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Archive for 2013|Yearly archive page

This week …

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

 

… as a Kiribati man failed in a bid to New Zealand courts to make him the world’s first legally recognised global warming refugee, global warming deniers continued to scrabble for something vaguely sensible to say – a task which seems to be getting harder. Specifically, the so-called debate continues over the warming pause – the apparent fact that the pace of warming seems to have slowed over the last decade or so. Setting aside the rather obvious consideration that any such fluctuation is meaninglessly trivial either way, given the vast timescale of the changes involved, some are now suggesting that the whole idea of a pause is an illusion, created by flawed measurement of temperatures around the Arctic. The related problem of methane gas escapes is prompting some of the direst warning yet on global warming blogs. The denialists, meanwhile, are claiming that global warming is a ruse cooked up by poor nations to bully money out of rich ones, and, for such people, fracking is part of the fightback. UN talks on climate change have been just about hauled back from the brink of total collapse, but remain essentially stalemated.

Still, it’s not all bad news for planet earth, and those of us who choose to live on it. One whole country – Denmark – has spent one whole day running on wind power. Another whole country – Tokelau – runs permanently and entirely on solar. Another – Bangladesh – is installing 1000 solar power systems per day. Britain, meanwhile, obtains one-sixth of its energy from renewables – that’s half as much again as a year ago. A crowdfunded wind turbine in the Netherlands raised 1.3 million euros in 13 hours. There are many such hints that a quiet revolution of practical common sense may be taking place around the world – unnoticed by the news media, for whom, it seems, that there’s no story without at least one of the two C’s – conflict and crisis. The option to join the quiet revolution remains open

Not that everyone wants to join in. In Britain, plans for a big windfarm were turned down. Energy companies tightened their stranglehold on consumers, to sometimes lethal effect. Such sobering facts remain only one symptom of an ongoing plutocratic stranglehold on Britain, which involves keeping the rest of us poorly educated, harrassed in some cases apparently to death, and fully occupied managing our own poverty, against a background of pevasive media snobbery which usually passes without comment, amid an ongoing assault on the resources of what’s left of the labour movement.

Still, the plutocracy may not last – in its current form, at least. Britain’s ruling Coalition continues to show more cracks than a melting ice-sheet, with Conservatives and Liberals split on green taxes, and David Cameron having to edge away from what he notoriously called green ‘crap’ in order to appease his own party’s right wing – a Coalition-wrecking job for which Boris Johnson seems better suited than Dave. But Labour’s still edging ahead in the polls, and the mood in Britain remains sullen but restive, with protests spreading from campus to parliament.

On the international stage, the headlines have moved on from the ongoing horror in Iraq, but there are emerging reminders of why the Americans in 2003 were so keen to secure airbases in the Middle East for forward operations against the Far East.

Finally, a more progressive new pope seems to be drumming up trade for the Catholic church – and an art historian has proposed an arresting theory for the origin of the Turin Shroud. He suspects it’s the world’s oldest extant photograph.

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FRIDAY NEWS DIGEST – test run

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Publishing its annual Web Index, surveying worldwide use of the web to promote human rights and prosperity, the World Wide Web Foundation surveyed 81 countries and warned that “a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy,” with “one in three countries” “conducting ‘moderate to severe” blocking or filtering of legitimate dissent.” The problem extended from affluent to majority-world countries and included democracies. Britain helps fund the Index and held third place, after Sweden and Norway.

Two reports into ocean acidification left the liberal capitalist weekly magazine The Economist with the impression that “this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously, though worryingly little is known about it.” Oceans seem to become more acidic as atmospheric carbon levels rise; in the distant past, similarly dramatic changes have drastically unbalanced ancient ecosystems, and the worry, so to speak, is that prehistory might repeat itself. Meanwhile, the Economist’s target readership of management-cadre capitalists seemed to be struggling to achieve their own stated goal to produce greener, more forest-friendly goods; they find it hard to keep track of their own complex supply chains. In an action somewhat eclipsed by the high-profile release on bail of Greenpeace activists, accused of hooliganism for their action against Arctic oil drilling, other green campaign groups staged a walkout from the UN climate talks in Warsaw, amid squabbling between member states. The EU has accused coal-friendly Poland of fudging its duty to draw up a schedule for work towards new, binding carbon targets. This remains a stubbornly elusive hope, with the current deadline for agreement set for a Paris conference in 2015, and concrete action by 2020. If you want to know more, this seems to be the book to put on your Christmas list:

The UK government’s privatisation agenda continued to play as a farce, with favoured subcontractor Capita attributing its piss-poor performance running army recruitment to the lack of wars, and prison privatisation being held up because top bidder Serco is itself the subject of criminal investigation for fiddling their own books, taking money for prisoners who were dead or who never existed at all.

PIGS FLY; POPE TURNS PROTESTANT; BEARS GET THE PLUMBERS IN

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm

The British parliament has voted not to start a war, against the wishes of a British prime minister.

I literally cannot believe I just typed that.

1914 CENTENARY PLANS UNVEILED

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2013 at 6:37 am

The Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, has unveiled plans to mark the centenary of the First World War.

“We’re going to have a Third World War,” he said.

“We were doing so much commemoration stuff anyway – we thought, why not just go the whole hog and have another actual war?

“Where would we be, after all, without the courage and self-sacrifice of our buff young servicemen and women? And without wars, wherein these things find expression, might they not be lost entirely, and forgotten?

“And without the endless cycle of trauma and glorification, leading to more wars, leading to more trauma and more glorification – where would we be?

“I’ll tell you where we’d be.

“We’d be in a situation where ordinary people might start to notice what’s really going on.

“That’s where.

“And let me tell you, when we reach that point – the point where you lot – even you lot – start to care that Monsanto owns your DNA, and your climate is on the verge of irretrievable meltdown, and your kids are dying of preventable diseases in the richest and most technologically powerful societies that have ever existed – then the likes of me are screwed.

“And I’m not about to let that happen, let me assure you.

“Because all it takes to prevent this is a little courage and self-sacrifice.

“Not on my part, obviously.

“That, and a failed state somewhere near Turkey. And a couple of giant rickety global power blocs based on oil and guns. And some motheaten whiskered sociopaths in the army top brass. And a common populace too desperate and confused to resist getting herded towards the front like cattle. And a weak, compliant, jingoistic, flag-waving media who care more about the soiled nappies of royal babies than they do about the millions starving overseas.

“Piece of piss, really. All the elements are in place. So if you thought August 1914 was bad, you just wait for August 2014.

“Because – in the immortal word of Bachman Turner Overdrive – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

NHS ‘RESPONSIBLE FOR ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE ENGULFING WESTERN CIVILISATION,’ SAYS HUNT

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2013 at 9:07 pm

The Health Secretary, Mr Jeremy Cant, today published a daming report revealing that FAILING NHS TRUSTS were SENDING THE LIVING DEAD OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY to SHAMBLE AROUND GRUNTING and CHEW THE FACES OFF THE LIVING.

‘This is the logical outcome of socialist healthcare,’ he pointed out. ‘Hardworking families are being EATEN ALIVE by the REANIMATED CORPSES of HEALTH TOURISTS who come over here from the EUROPEAN UNION just so they can DIE IN BRITISH HOSPITALS and then MOPE ABOUT EATING PEOPLE.

‘The ONLY SOLUTION is to PAY ME HUGE AMOUNTS OF CASH to own and run the hospitals. me and my chums.

‘Honest. ALL THE EVIDENCE points UNEQUIVOCALLY to the fact that I just SAID THAT IN SO MANY WORDS.’

Merciful respite

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm

The snarking will resume in a couple of weeks.

JESS ENNIS HONOURS QUEEN

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Jessica Ennis, the Olympic gold medallist, yesterday recognised the Queen’s contribution to things – whatever that might be – by condescending to allow the senior aristocrat, landowner and unelected head of a supposedly democratic state to pin a medal to her brand new frock.

Her Majesty has never won a medal; whatever she got, she inherited, and she’s never actually done all that much.

At least, nothing she’d want noised about.

TESCO ROUNDS ON PICKY EATERS

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Tesco yesterday warned that prices would soar if shoppers forced them to use beef in products labelled ‘beef.’

‘Don’t mind me,’ said Donald Read, the chairman of Tesco’s, yesterday. ‘I work like a slave, day in, day out, to put food in the supermarkets, and if you lot want beef in the box marked beef, and not (say) horse or iguana … well, it’s your money. I’ll do the best I can.

‘My mother warned me about bringing up a picky eater.

‘Honestly, you treat this place like a hotel. Now just go back downstairs and apologise to your mother, she’s had a hard day.’

WORLD WAR CRISIS

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

The Defence Ministry is running out of reasons to hand out new World War Two decorations and memorials, a mere 68 years after the end of the war, it has been revealed.

Defence chiefs estimate they will run out of reasons to keep droning on endlessly about the war, as early as 2018.

‘It’s been a busy year,’ said General Sir Jeremy Richard Clarkson-Hammond, chief of the defence staff. ‘Since the commission of a monument to Bomber Command, the peerage for Spitfire Pilots’ Pet Dogs and Mascots, and the creation of a new medal for wartime goldfish who survived the Blitz with unspilt water, the cold fact is we’re simply running out of subject matter. Big as it was, the war was not, after all, infinite in its scope. There were some baddies involved, too, and we can hardly hand out medals to people like that. So the necessarily adversarial nature of warfare does tend to narrow down the options, unfortunately.

‘We did consider a special royal commendation for Germans Who Weren’t As Bad As The Other Germans, but most of Prince Philip’s immediate family would have failed to make the grade.

‘It would be little short of a catastrophe if we ran out of reasons to drone on about the war all the time. Because, really, we still had an empire in the war. Just about. And having an empire is very useful when you’re trying to keep the general populace steeped in that perfect mix of smug xenophobia, brittle paranoia, and delusional grievance.

‘Obviously we can’t go around wallowing openly in imperial nostalgia. It wouldn’t be deemed politically correct.

‘But if we just dribble on interminably about the Blitz, and the Normandy landings, and the Battle of Britain, and the Colditz escapes, so forth, we hope people will just pick up the point by implication. It’s history and heritage, not propaganda, so the lefty lesbians can’t say a word about it.

‘But after 2018, if current trends continue, all eighty million casualties of the Second World War will have been decorated or commemorated by the British government, so we won’t be able to pull that track any more, quite so easily.

‘We could, of course, just have another war. If the Americans let us. They probably won’t mind, since they’ve just about forgotten where Britain is, and they don’t give a stuff what we do. But if they do object, we’ll just have to content ourselves with another royal jubilee.

‘Maybe we could tie it in with a national Jane Austen festival and a re-run of Shakespeare’s history plays on BBC4.

‘We could get Gove to organise it.’

REAL NEWS DETECTED IN NEWS MEDIA

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Faint traces of some actual news have been detected in the news media.

Professor Darren Parker, of the Institute for Clever Machines, said:

‘It’s momentous – a bit like picking up transmissions from aliens in a remote galaxy.

‘The only difference is, nobody’s got a vested interest in diverting your attention away from alien transmissions.’