"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Storms, Floods and a Deluge of Crap

Winds, floods and the revenge of nature

EXTRACT: However, the real problem goes much deeper. As alluded to by Pickles, many within the EA and elsewhere are very dubious about the benefits of dredging - and rightly so. Not only will dredging make very little difference, if any: it can be positively damaging. You do not have to be a genius to work it out. A river’s capacity is tiny by comparison to the catchment from which it draws its water. Therefore, dredging is likely to cause faster and more dangerous floods downstream when the water hits - for example - the nearest urban obstacle, like a trail track or bridge.

But the problems do not end there. If you cut off a river from its flood plain by turning it into a deep trench, you run the risk of speeding up the flow of water to other areas downstream. Congratulations - you have just made a bad situation worse by creating more dangerous rivers, undermining the foundations of bridges, weirs, culverts and river walls and causing untold destruction to the natural world; removing gravel from river beds by dredging leads to the loss of spawning grounds for fish, and can cause the loss of some species, like otters and water voles. And you may have spent enormous amounts of money making this ecological disaster. Now there is real joined-up thinking.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ukraine: Great Power Tug of War

Illusions in EU rife

EXTRACT: True, in the minds of many Ukranians [EU] associate status in theory means the free movement of labour - which, of course, is very attractive to many, especially younger citizens, looking towards Germany as a possible port of call in their hopes for a better future. Many are genuinely enthusiastic about the EU and all it appears to offer. But cruelly it is very unlikely that associate status will lead to the free movement of labour, leaving the ambitious - using that word in the best sense - trapped in a decaying and fragmenting Ukraine. A horrible situation.

After all, what is the alternative facing them? Russia has offered £14 billion in aid (cheap oil, cheap gas, etc) and some sort of ‘common market’ that also includes - wait for it - Belarus and Kazakhstan. It is almost impossible to conceive of a less appealing prospect. By comparison, Greece, Spain and Portugal are near to paradise on earth. Belarus (literally ‘white Rus’) is a truly weird and frightening place, like a cross between Putin’s and Stalin’s Russia - it still has all the old monstrous statues. Kazakhstan, another strange place, has a large Russian-speaking minority. Yet the only thing these countries have in common - or at least parts of them - is an inchoate and nostalgic Slavophilism, which would quickly break down under the cold economic winds.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Dieudonné's Calculated Anti-Semitism

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala: political ambitions
EXTRACT: Dieudonné can bleat all he wants about being “anti-Zionist”, not anti-Semitic, but the evidence is overwhelming. One of his most well-known sketches involves him giving a heroism award to Robert Faurisson. The ‘joke’ was that the award was being presented by a man in a concentration camp uniform, complete with a yellow star. You had to be there. Dieudonné told the Iranian Press TV station that the “Zionist lobby” has “taken France as hostage”, knowing how to “structure themselves into a mafia-like organisation”. Clearly this is not the anti-Zionism of someone, for example, opposed to the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the state of Israel; more like the ‘anti-Zionism’ of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, predicated on a conspiracy theory that “the Jews” are secretly pulling all the strings. Dieudonné’s quenelle is the ‘anti-establishment’ gesture of reactionary fools.