Friday, January 24, 2014

Scam the Scammer

Just wanted to share this little moment of amusement with you. I tried to buy a Macbook of Gumtree yesterday. The lady, a nice nurse based in Bristol, asked me if we could chat by email... after her first email it became obvious she/he was a scammer. Since when do the NHS have .com websites??! (mind you, they probably will soon...) Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Put your Arms around the World

So, the EU has been badgered into lifting the arms embargo on Syria. A country being torn apart by violence, where more than 80,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million have fled since the uprising against Mr Assad began in 2011 (UN estimates). The idea is that by allowing countries like Britain and France to sell weapons to the rebels/insurgents (currently the good guys in most western media), we can help to "stabilize" the situation. It's genius! When you look at it closely, it's so clearly the LACK of weapons that is causing all this bloodshed! Which is why Britain and France have been calling for an end to this arms embargo for some time... Because they care god-dammit! Russia, in the spirit of fair-play, have announced that they will now honour a contract made before the embargo to provide the Assad regime with some new weapons as well. Namely a shiny new surface to air missile system apparently to deter the Israelis from blowing more shit up and slow down any Western military intervention. Again Russia's decision is purely humanitarian, aimed at trying to create a peaceful, harmonious Syria in which everyone gets along.

Even if we suppose for a moment that this is not about money, power, weakening Iran or any of the other usual suspects, I am still at a loss to understand how people buy this "arm them to save them" rhetoric. It's like the old NRA argument: more guns = less violence and more freedom. The problem, they tell us, occurs when some people have guns and others don't. If everyone has guns, then we all revert to a Gandhi-like pacifism and live harmoniously together in fear. Well, it doesn't seem to be working for America, with one of the highest murder rates on the planet. No, I'm more inclined to think that all the weapons that we funnel into Syria will, at some point, be used to kill people. Maybe, if we're lucky, they'll even be used to kill the bad guys... until we switch sides. We spent years arming Saddam, and were happy with the situation as long as he was using the weapons against Iran. We even privately supported his decision to use chemical weapons against the Kurds. It was only when he had the cheek to attack Kuwait, a western backed oil nation, that the weapons we had sold him were suddenly deemed to be "in the wrong hands". Until we can separate business and politics we are doomed to keep repeating these mistakes... if you can even call them mistakes. To the arms industry, this is all just business as usual...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

God vs. The Universe -- Ultimate Smackdown

Ok, so once again I've decided to try and get back into a bit of creative writing, and the trusty old blog has been resurrected! Let's see how long I last this time... :) I've decided to make this separate from the "News Updates" section of my website, as what I write here tends to be not so much "news", as just a random mess of rambling, ranting, and witless observations about the world around me. I recommend reading my blog from 10 years ago though, from back when I was younger and funnier... archives on the right...

So, let's just jump straight in and tackle some big issues why not? It's gone midnight, I should be asleep in bed, what better time to tackle the big questions? Ok, so here goes...

Does God exist?

Short answer... most probably not. But that's way to easy, and sounds like I haven't thought it through, so let's jump back in time... it's 1982, I'm 5 years old, E.T. has successfully visited the earth and managed to make a crude mobile phone using a Speak & Spell, and some kid at school has just introduced me for the first time to the concept of "God". He was very surprised that I hadn't heard of him, what with him being so mightily important and everything, and I was pretty surprised too, as I considered myself to be a pretty clued up little 5 year old. Despite his best attempts to convince me, I remained a little sceptical about the whole thing, but then he explained that I was going to burn in Hell, which sounded rather unpleasant, so I thought I'd better look into it. That evening, after school, I asked my mum about this God fellow, and whether he was real. To my astonishment she said that she personally didn't think he was real, but that I would have to make up my own mind about it! I mean that just took the biscuit! When it came to completely inconsequential things like whether I could have Sugar Puffs for breakfast instead of muesli, or a wagon wheel in my lunchbox instead of an apple, she was always adamant that I had no choice, but now that something truly big had turned up, something that could, judged wrong, lead to an eternity of hellfire, I was being told that parental advice was no longer an option, and that I had to go it alone! Well, despite her appalling lack of good judgement on what was the best breakfast for a five year old, my mum had generally seemed pretty good at getting things right, so I figured she was probably onto something. Nevertheless I decided I'd better do a bit of research myself to be sure.

As the years went by I became more and more fascinated by the fact that sooo many people did believe in God, so I chose to study theology at college. I thought that this might give me some insight into what had convinced them. 2 years and about 50,000 words of essays later, I had pretty firmly established that The Bible was quite possibly the most bizarre and boring book I had ever read. It had also become fairly clear that all it really proved was that people had believed in God for a long time. So, no closer to an answer, and starting to think that Christians might actually be mad, I decided to spread the net a little wider. I starting reading books about Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, listening to talks by the fantastic philosopher and theologian Alan Watts, getting thoroughly confused by the Zen ideas of D.T.Suzuki, and gradually I started to form my own idea of what God might be. I began to form a picture of God not as a sentient individual who hears our thoughts and watches over us, but instead as the "Ground of Being" as Alan Watts describes it. As the basic unified source from which all existence comes into being and to which it ultimately returns.

I have had experiences in the past, sometimes with the aid of magic mushrooms, sometimes with meditation, where I have felt as if my body has expanded out to the edges of the horizon, and the constraints of language and labels have fallen away, leaving all objects in my experience merely aspects of one, ultimate object, of which I was a part. We could name that ultimate, unified system of interconnected aspects "God", and many people do. But we could just as equally name it "The Universe", or "The Cosmic Wagon Wheel", and after many years of thinking this one over, I'm starting to believe that it would make more sense to do just that. Using the word "God" in relation to these ideas and experiences has the unfortunate effect of blurring the boundary between what are essentially ideas of philosophy and science, and those of Religions, with their omnipotent, omniscient, and extremely judgemental deities. I think the human race desperately needs to move on from these ideas of a Creator who watches from above, and start to recognise our place as an integrated part, not just of this beautiful planet, but of this vast and mysterious Universe. Evolution has brought us this far, but now we have to make up the rest for ourselves, and I think it's vital that we recognize that we ARE making it up! People ask "what is Human Nature", I would rather ask "What would you like it to be?"

As for God: God is simply a figment of his own imagination...

Next week: Toes - Do we really need them?

Monday, December 05, 2011

I need a Hero Honda

So here I am in lazy Arambol, Goa, trying to resist the urge to scratch myself into an orgasmic state of temporary relief from the 100 mozzie bites that I have somehow acquired over the last week. After the crazy noise and hectic pace of Mumbai, it took me a week to finally slow down and adjust myself to Goa time, but I think I'm getting there now... Have had some great jams with some fantastic musicians which has reminded me that this trip should be more about learning than about performing, as I have so much to learn as a musician and there are so many people here to learn from! So, my mission now is to finally learn how to play the guitar properly and stop blaming my double jointed fingers for my utter laziness to ever practice anything!

I'm afraid staying here is very unhealthy for my blog however, as everything is way too easy. The normal incomprehensible madness of India seems like a distant memory when you are sat under a parasol ordering your 3rd banana lassi of the morning...

One thing that does make me laugh on a daily basis is my motorbike. Most people when they arrive in Goa either hire a scooter, or if they're really cool, a big old enfield motorbike with chopper handlebars... a real classic bike. I on the other hand have ended up with something that looks like it came straight out of the movie "Tron"... it's bright yellow, and has enough streamlined, angled bodywork that it could blend in on a daytona racetrack... the only thing that would mark it out as an impostor would be it's paltry 150cc engine... yes, that's right, it is a faker... a bike designed to look like a monster racing bike but engineered to give great mileage... the perfect bike for any young indian man who wants to feel big while watching the pennies... anyway, needless to say, I look absolutely ridiculous riding it... especially when I'm trying to turn around and struggling to move the bike with my puny little arms! So I think I may change it today, but I'll be sure to get a photo to share with you all before I do... one thing is for sure though, it certainly fits with my undercover hippy look... ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He's got a ticket to ride

So, here we are again! A lot has happened since last we spoke, so I think I will just begin rambling and see what comes out. I've been in Mumbai for 2 weeks now, and I'm desperately in need of some space, fresh air, and silence... so I've booked a ticket for the crowded hippy holiday resort of Arambol, Goa, where those who've had enough of trying to find themselves go to find other people and have long conversations about finding themselves instead. Last time I was there was in 2003, so I'm a bit apprehensive as to what I might find eight years on... is there a McDonalds yet I wonder? Or at least a Body Shop... No, I don't think it will have gone that far... it will most likely still be wrapped nicely in the beautiful hand woven shawl of hippy consumerism... ;)

So booking my train ticket was fun. After fighting my way off the local commuter train (which I'm getting quite good at now) I headed for the ticket reservation office and strolled past the queueing people to the "foreigners only" counter (long live apartheid!) which was empty, save for the rather bored looking lady sat behind it. "This should be a rather relaxing affair" I foolishly thought to myself as I approached. "Yes, yes, where you want to go?!" fired off the old lady at 100 miles an hour, suddenly waking from her hibernation and switching into a manic state of urgency. I reeled for a second from the switch in tempo that and tried to get myself up to the 200bpm gabba speed that she was now operating at. "Um, Goa... Margao.. sorry Madgaon... sleeper train.. " "Yes Yes Yes, when?!" she barked at me, her demeanour ramping up by 10bpm with each impatient look she threw my way. "Sorry, wednesday, this wednesday." "Nooo! Which date!! Date! Which date!!" I started to feel her urgency seeping into me like waves of gamma radiation, altering my biochemical make up and changing me, like Bruce Banner transforming into the Incredible Hulk, or in my case the Incredibly Neurotic Hulk. "Ok, sorry" I stammer, "let me check my calendar". I open my phone and "slide to wake". My phone thinks about waking, then hits "snooze" and has another 10 second power nap. Finally it wakes and I hit the calendar button to load up my life on it's shiny little screen. It thinks about this for a moment, "Date!! Date!! Which date!" she suddenly shouts at me again. "I know, I'm try..." "Here fill this. Date, train number, passport num, address, berth preference, signature!" she suddenly fires, pushing a form into my hand. "Closing now!!" I quickly scan the room and see that there are still queues of people at all the other counters and that the counter staff seem to be plodding along at the usual speed of indian bureaucracy, which is to say about as slow as a slow worm moving through tar. I look back at my lady, whose whole body seems to jumping now as if being animated by hundreds of small electric shocks. I snap back into the urgency of the situation and scan the form frantically, now fully in sync with this maniac. But my brain is trying to work too fast and I can't seem to comprehend the form... what was it I was supposed to put again?! I can't remember what she said! Oh my god, it all just looks like gibberish!! Oh hang on, it's in hindi.. I turn the form over and find the english version, but still my brain is trying too hard to rush and I can't make sense of it... at last I find the "name" field and start to write, "B...i...l..." "Here!" she suddenly interrupts me again, thrusting a bundle of notes and coins into my hand, "Give me 300!" After a moment of confusion in which I grapple with the upside-down concept of being given your change before you have paid or even been told the price of something, I do my best to respond. But I now have my phone in my left hand halfway through finding the date, a pen in my right trying to fill the form, and there really is no way I can do more. "Ok, one second" I say, trying to conjure up a few extra arms like a hindu deity. Failing to do so, I put the pen down and reach into my pocket for my wallet. No sooner have I done so than she snatches back the form from the counter, looks at it, and barks "passport number!! passport number!!" shaking it in my face and looking incredulous and my idiocy. "I know! I hadn't finished!" I protest, starting to lose my cool. Then, just as it seems the whole process is going to crumble into all out chaos, I find myself holding a ticket to Goa, on the train I wanted, in the berth I wanted, and maniac lady is smiling at me, suddenly all calm and serene. "Wow, that was easy" I say, and she smiles again as I leave her to go back into hibernation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Back in Bombay...

So here I am. Mumbai... the most crazy concentration of humanity I have ever had the pleasure to be sensually assaulted by. After two nights of sleep deprivation, I finally arrived in Mumbai airport, refreshed my tired eyes with a couple of drops of Boots' own brand "eye drops for tired eyes" (Boots, you lie!), and headed out into the sauna that is India. After a worrying moment of mathematical ineptitude in which I tried to withdraw over $2000 dollars in Rupees (luckily the machine refused!) I finally made it to a taxi and set off for Mumbai centre to find the house of my host Samir.

It was still only 5am, and just starting to get light. The whole city was covered in a thick smog, and the air was pungent with reminders of decay and affirmations of life. In fact my nose is probably the first sensory organ to be assaulted by the city (they all got a go later). We passed over one area which looked, through the smog, like something from a Batman movie. Blocks of flats sat alongside a large waterway, the smell of which rose into the air like the largest blocked drain in the universe... which I later learned is exactly what it is. Apparently it used to be a rather pleasant river, but due to some industrial ignorance or another, it was transformed into this. Luckily for me the taxi continued it's journey into the heart of Mumbai, and eventually dropped me at Nana Chowk, a busy intersection where all the vehicles in the city congregate to test their horns. I managed to find Samir's apartment without too much difficulty, and clambered up the stairs, too chicken to attempt the old fashioned elevator. I rang the bell and was welcomed in by a sleepy Samir. I had arrived...

Or so I thought! After a couple of hours the house was awake, and I met Samir's mum, who is brilliant. She immediately decided that I should arrive for a second time so that she could film it for a youtube short that she wants to make about me, so I was bundled back outside with all my bags, giggling hysterically, and made to arrive 3 more times (to catch different angles), complete with Puja (blessing) and rice and flowers being thrown at me! If anyone sees this video and believes that it is my actual arrival they will think I am either mad or very rude, as I am laughing through the entire thing! I'll post the youtube link as soon as she's edited it...

So let me backtrack a little bit now... what, you may ask, am I doing in Mumbai? The story begins two summers ago, when I was contacted by a young Indian guy called Samir and asked to do an interview. Samir was studying Environmental Sustainability at Edinburgh University and was writing a paper on "Eco-festivals" and their contribution to raising awareness about sustainability issues. Whilst doing his research he stumbled across my music and decided that I must be an expert on these festivals (ahem) and asked to do an interview. So after a short while chatting over Skype and sharing with him my great wisdom on eco-festivals ("most people just go to them to get smashed"), we got to chatting about music and India, and Samir invited me to Mumbai. He explained that he had lots of friends in bands in the city, and that there was a growing alternative scene developing there. We talked about me putting together a band and doing some gigs.. nothing concrete, just some vague ideas... but the possibilities were all there...

So, two years later, I booked a flight (Oh... My... God....), got on a plane (Notification: 600 people have just "unliked" you), and set off for India. All joking aside though, deciding to fly was quite a big deal. The only reason it took two years was because I was refusing to fly and just couldn't find the time to do the whole thing overland. So how do I justify it now? I don't. Flying is bad, I just did it, end of story. :) Anyway, this story is just beginning, so where was I?

Ok, so having arrived, arrived again, had a little sleep and a good feed, I was invited by Samir's mum, Sushi, to go and meet a prominent tibetan activist called Tenzin Tsundue, who was screening his new documentary, "The Sun Behind the Clouds", at a local university. Tenzin has made quite a name for himself as an outspoken advocate of Tibetan independence, most conspicuously for his unfurling of the tibetan flag during visits of the Chinese premier. But before we could meet Tenzin or attend his screening, we had to find it...

Bombay, as everyone seems to call it here, is big. Sorry, it's Big. However, despite it vast size, it is quite clearly not big enough to accommodate all the millions of cars, trucks, people, goats, cows and motorbikes that are all attempting to cross it at any one moment. As a result, moving around in Bombay can be a slightly stressful affair. As your senses are attacked from all sides by a thousand potentially lethal accidents, your fight or flight instinct is on constant high alert, and it is because of this, I think, that every driver in the city has to use his horn at least once every 10 seconds. It functions like a pressure valve. As the pressure inside the person rises, so does the need to release it, and eventually the only sensible thing to do is to press the horn. It makes no difference whether or not there is someone in front of you, or whether you need to communicate something to them, what is important is simply that you press it. It would be interesting to see how incidences of road rage here compare to the UK. Back home, we resist the urge to press our horns until the last possible minute, by which time so much pressure has built up that we find ourselves shouting and swearing uncontrollably and making as many obscene hand gestures as possible whilst still steering the car. In Bombay on the other hand, most people seem to be calmly pressing their horns almost continuously whilst weaving through the complex web of near death experiences that passes for driving here.

Sushi, however, is different. Rather than use the horn, she simply has a series of minor panic attacks followed by fits of giggling. The journey was, for me at least, hysterical. It reminded me of driving with my own mum, as Samir tried to calm Sushi down and she tried to get him read the directions off the piece of paper for the 20th time. To her credit though, no matter how flustered she became, she never once failed to laugh and giggle at her own predicament, which I found to be a very endearing trait. After an hour of weaving in and out of traffic, asking every other driver we could for directions, we somehow arrived at the campus on time and headed for the screening.

The film was a very well made and informative piece, showing not only the brutal repression imposed on the tibetan people by the Chinese government, but also the divisions within the tibetan movement itself. It explores the impact of the Dalai Lama's move away from the goal of an "independent Tibet" towards his so called "middle way" approach of acknowledging tibet as a part of China in return for autonomy over their own affairs. All of this has become particularly relevant right now, as Chinese oppression in Tibet has reached such heights that 13 tibetan monks have set themselves on fire in recent months as an act of protest and to try to draw attention to their plight. In Tunisia, one man self-immolated and there was a media outcry, but in Tibet, 13 in less than two months and still no major news stories, and none of our governments have challenged China. In part, this is because the tibetan activists who risk their lives daily to try and get this information out of tibet have so far failed to capture any of the gruesome images of burning bodies that the media demands. But on a more general level, the reticence of our leaders to confront this issue is far more insidious. We need China. China is like a huge workhouse where labour is cheap and human rights non-existent. It is where almost all of our production of material goods is now outsourced to, due to the reliable nature of the Chinese government's dictatorial regime in controlling it's workforce. But hang on a minute.. aren't we the champions of human rights across the globe? Isn't that why we invaded Iraq? Afghanistan? Lybia? Ummmm, no. We invaded them for their resources, just as we leave China alone to take advantage of it's resources.

Anyhow, I'm off on a rant now. But please do go and read up on this and do anything you can to offer your support. The tibetan people's plight is being systematically ignored by our governments and media so as not to upset Beijing. Let's demand they take notice!

Right, I'm tired now so the rest of the story will have to wait I'm afraid!

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The return of MC Billy

Wow, what a few weeks it's been! I really don't know where to start. So far this trip just keeps on surprising me. I came here thinking maybe I'd meet some local musicians and learn some african rhythms. Perhaps even pick up a bit of djembe along the way. Instead I am now staying in Brikama, the main city and music centre of the gambia, hanging out with a music collective of the best reggae and dancehall artists the Gambia has to offer. And believe me, there's a lot of artists! Everyone here is obsessed with dancehall, reggae, bassman... anything to come out of Jamaica. Many of the young guys have dreads and speak a mixture of Mandinka and Jamaican patwa (don't know spelling!). Sizzler played here last week... apparantly that's big news... not that any of it means anything to me, as I haven't the first clue about Dancehall. Except how to sing it apparantly!

I met Janko at a festival over xmas and new year in Abene, just over the border in Sengal. In fact in Casamance, which incidentally is not full of rebel separists fighting with government troops. It is in fact full of rastas smoking large quantities of weed and dancing to reggae. I recommend it to everyone, especially for the festival! So after meeting Janko and letting him know I was a singer, he suggested I do something on the mic in the club that night. After a few beers I thought "f**k it, why not?", Janko put on an empty dub, and I dug into my memory of my days as a drum and bass MC and pulled out some lyrics. To say the response was good would be an understatement. I was literally lifted up onto the shoulders of the crowd and carried around the club. Clearly skinny white blokes who can MC are highly regarded here...

A couple of weeks on and I was invited to make a trip away from my life in the Katong bush and visit the dust and bustle of the "big city" as it's known in the local language. Brikama is at first glance a dusty town with one main street, lots of dangerous drivers, and many mis-matched buildings clinging to one another for support. But luckily for me I had a way directly into the heart of the city's real personality, and I love it. Janko introduced me to his friends, many of whom are artists, well known in the Gambian reggae dancehall scene. They welcomed me into their homes and their hearts and have made me feel a part of the family within two days. I arrived on Saturday evening, and the first item on the agenda was eating beans and bread together squatting in a circle on the floor. This is how all meals are taken here, so if you're a slow eater like me you're screwed! Luckily everyone is always super keen to make sure you eat so I'm given lots of encouragement, with people often pushing the nicest bits of fish in my direction. I guess it's like taking pity on the runt of the litter!

After dinner (and during) the smoking continued, and the jamming began. For these guys having me there to play guitar was a huge novelty. None of them play melodic instruments, so they are dependant on other people to create empty dubs for them to sing over. It sounded fantastic... each of them have their own distictive style, and it just gelled straight away. Then I was told that we were going to a free party, an open mic, and that I was going to perform. Ok, I thought, sounds like fun. We headed out into the streets. The moon was so bright it was almost like daylight, but seen through a thick blue filter. Even with this light, it was impossible for me to see anyones faces. Being the only white person for miles, everyone could see me no problem. My skin seems to amplify light. The black skin here on the other hand seems to eat light! In the end I resorted to memorising what people were wearing in order not to lose everyone! As we approached the booming bass coming from a junction up ahead, the sides of the roads started to become lined with large groups of young guys and girls dressed to emulate their american and jamican heroes. There are no street lights, so the moon was the only light, except for a single bulb hanging over the middle of the crossroads, where a large soundsystem had been erected. The crowd was about 20 deep on all sides, but with a large space in the middle of the junction, making it into a natural arena. A few crates had been stacked in front of the DJ desk to act as a stage. It was exactly what you'd imagine a street party in Kingston to look like.

As we arrived a guy stepped up onto the stage. He was wearing a large coat (gambians think it's very cold here at moment!) with the hood covering half of his face, making him seem rather menacing. The dubplate kicked in and he started mc'ing in what I am now learning is a "bassman" style, spitting angry lyrics out from under his hood. As I watched I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was very stoned, and supposedly about the get up on this little platform, in the centre of a sea of black faces, and attempt to be a dancehall artist. Something I had only done once in my life before, a week earlier, whilst being drunk. Who was I kidding? I started to feel quite sick, my stomach clenched in anticipation. Then the MC was calling my name, and I found myself raising my hand, and sliding through the crowd towards the stage. Up on the stage it suddenly became even more apparant just how exposed I was. Surrounded on all sides by surprised expressions, people pushing to get a glimpse of the crazy toubab (white guy). The DJ was still trying to find the right CD, so I was forced to speak. "Brikama!! How you feeeeeeeeeeliiiin?!!". Auto-pilot had kicked in! All my nights of trying to coax another few hours of dancing out of a bunch of sweaty drum and bass heads suddenly came back to me. The crowd went wild. One of the young boys at the front shouted "toubab!". I turned to face him... my first heckler! "Yeah that's right, toubab on the mic..." Before I really knew what was happening I was rapping like a lunatic, freestyling about everything and anything, and once the dub kicked in everything just slotted into place.

After I'd done two tracks to a very appreciative if somewhat puzzled audience, I tried to slip off into the crowd, but the MC called me back. He asked me to get up on stage and explain who I was and why i was there!! I'll tell you what, that was 1000 times harder than singing!! It was awful, I felt so self concious i completely forgot to big up the guys who had invited me there and got me the gig! After that the other guys performed as well. Unfortunately the sound was awful, which is turning out to be a recurring theme here. And so many people seem to sing over the actual final master of their CD, which to me just seems daft. If you're going to use a backing track, you should at least remove the main vocal, surely??! But anyway, it's pretty standard here. My guys told me the reason they do it sometimes is that soundsystem and mic are so bad that it's better just to hear the recorded vocal... Hmmm, maybe, but me I'd always choose live any day.

So anyway, I'm leaving Brikama today to head back to Katong. In the space of two days I have somehow become a recognised artist here, and I'm appearing on the radio next saturday before doing another dancehall party! The nicest thing is that now when I walk down the street instead of the young boys shouting "Toubab! Give me minty!", they just shout "Billy!!"...

I'll let you know when my first collaboration single is out... :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Indian summer my arse

My oh my, what a wonderful day!

At last the baking heat of the english summer is over and we are delivered, sunburned and sweaty, to the cool autumnal rains, gently lashing down upon us from slate grey skies. For those not currently residing in the UK, and unacustomed to sarcasm, I am in fact being sarcastic. Once again the autumn has arrived before the summer actually began. Of course everyone is still talking about the much anticipated "indian summer", that last bastion of hope used by the British to fend off the winter blues for one more month. Personally I'm leaning more towards the "indian winter", a guaranteed 4 months of sunshine while I wait for the spring to arrive, but that would require money, and I don't have any. If anyone is impatiently waiting for new songs and is willing to donate enough for my airfare, I promise to write lots of new material, write a song for you, and even drink a lassi in your honour!

Anyway, what have I got to share today? Well first up, go and watch this animation:

It's called "Muto" and it's a stopframe animation painted on the walls of Buenos Aires and Baden... it's freakin brilliant!

Right, I'm off to learn fingerpicking guitar on youtube... :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Learn some stuff...

Just found a great website for articles about the global situation:

get reading! :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ben Griffin: Former SAS, Banned speech to Anti-War Rally

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Story of Stuff

I've just watched a great little movie online. It's only 20 mins long and well worth a watch. It explains where your stuff comes from, where it goes, and why you buy it in the first place! Please watch it and then share it!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Coming soon to a television near you!

Bush Bombs the Baddies: Part III - Iranian Evil

Yes that's right folks, just as you were thinking "Part II - Liberate Iraqi Children" was turning into the longest movie in history, plans are already being made to start shooting the sequel. After lengthy discussions about possible plotlines, the original "They're gonna nuke us all!" plot has recently been put on hold over fears that audiences just simply wouldn't buy it. Luckily talented screenwriters in the Pentagon have quickly drafted a new script, casting the Iranians as the cause of all problems in Iraq. This new angle means the movie can come out much earlier than anticipated, possibly even in time to be this years Xmas blockbuster! The movie stars U.S. and U.K. troops launching "surgical strikes" against Iran's "Revolutionary Guard", who will sometimes be played by themselves, but often filled in for by "extras" who happen to be living nearby. There is currently some confusion as to whether U.K. troops have actually agreed to star in the movie, but this hasn't stopped the Hollywood rumor machine, which is claiming that Gordon Brown has already given the project a big thumbs up!

Fans of the earlier movies will already know that the actual length and outcome of the films is difficult to pin down exactly. So far two possible endings have been suggested. The first is that the Good Guys (us), successfully "strike" the Bad Guys (men with beards) in a "surgical" manner, managing to cripple them militarily without actually injuring or killing anyone. This then leads to peace and harmony in Iraq, impartial elections, and general happiness all round. The second ending, which would be more in keeping with the original two movies, involves the loss of thousands of lives, mostly innocent civilians, a rapid acceleration of anti-western sentiment amongst Muslims worldwide, and the possibility of a third world war. While the first ending has a nice feel to it, it closes off the chance for a sequel, and we know how much the public loves a sequel! So my money is on ending two...

Read more about this and other exciting movie developments in any respectable newspaper!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Email to God

CC: Michael Fish
Subject: Unnecessary punishment

Dear God,

look, i know we've had our disagreements in the past. I know I've never been to church and I've had sex outside of marriage. I know I occasionally take your name in vain and make fun of your more devoted followers... but really, isn't this taking things a bit far? I mean punish me, fine. Maybe a few warts or a bad hair day. But an entire summer of rain?! dude, that's just taking the piss! I mean for god's sake.. opps, sorry.. for fuck's sake, aren't you supposed to be all forgiving and shit? And what really gets to me is the way that you throw in a couple of sunny days midweek, just to get our hopes up, before pissing all over us Friday through Sunday! Is that fair? Is that benevolent? No! It's just plain mean! So please, get over it, or I am going to become an atheist, and let's face it, if we all become atheists it makes no difference whether you exist or not, no one's gonna give a shit, so there!

yours expectantly,


Friday, June 22, 2007

Ramblings of a fool

Well, yesterday was the summer solstice. The summer solstice is basically the longest day of the year, so that to me suggests it is now midsummer. So, from that data, if we make a few calculations, we arrive to the conclusion that it should be SUNNY! So, given this irrefutable logic, why the fuck is it still cloudy and raining? Yeah yeah, global warming, climate change etc, ok. But all the global warming experts have been gloomily predicting that this will be one of the hottest summers ever! So what gives? Ok, so it rained 2 weeks worth in 2 mins the other day, which is vaguely extreme, but overall the weather has just typically english, i.e. a bit shit. Not shit enough to make you go "wow", just shit enough to make you go "yuk". Ok, moan over. :)

On a brighter note, Tony Blair becomes mortal again round about now. Stripped of his super powers, it is only a matter of time before someone bottles him outside a busy nightclub. Luckily he'll still have private healthcare. Phew! So now Gordon Brown will take power, sweep aside all of the neo-con policies put in place by Blair and lead us into a new era of government that puts people ahead of big business, ultimately creating a.... Oh, hang on, this just in... Brown wants to involve big business in almost every aspect of the running of the country.. Hmm, that doesn't sound like a good idea... So how exactly does Brown differ from Blair? Well, he doesn't smile much, which is a relief. He attempts to catch flies in between sentences by opening his mouth. But like Tony he sounds like he means business. Big business.

But why is that bad? Sounds like a good idea, get businesses involved with running schools, the NHS etc... they can provide more money than the government has, and they'll do it all out of the kindness of their hearts! I guess. Actually no, they'll do everything in their power to make as much profit out of the situation as possible, even if that means patients without doctors, kids without teachers, whatever. They can't help it. It's called the bottom line, and it underpins all large scale corporate business. Shareholders demand profit, you deliver it, end of story. And the beauty of it is, no one has to feel guilty about unethical behaviour, as the corporation exists as an individual in it's own right and can therefore take the rap. It can't go to jail, obviously, as it is just an abstract concept. But it can pay a fine! Mr corporation, you have been found guilty of killing 3000 workers in a chemical explosion in northern India, you are hereby fined $2 million. Ouch! That's gotta hurt! Obviously not quite as much as the indian workers watching their skin burn off in the chemical fire, but it still must smart slightly. Well, not really, no. It's just numbers. They still made more profit in a year than the annual budget of most small countries, so what's a couple of mil? Ya get me?

Did you know that of the 100 richest economies in the world, 51 are Corporations, 49 are countries? So who really holds the power on this planet? I know I dont. Gordon Brown certainly doesn't, or at least chooses not to. All these so called leaders are puppets trying to please big business. Of course there are many levels to decision making, and there are of course still many government workers dilligently running the country and making sure the people's basic needs are met. But for me that's beside the point. The question I always want to ask is: What's the goal? Is it progress, or happiness? If it's "progress", which basically means economic progress of the nation's economy, then I guess we're doing ok. But I don't live in "Britain", I live in "The Universe", and I can't possibly claim any kind of progress for one group of people when it comes at the expense of others.

I've been thinking about money, progress etc lately, and I came up with these ideas. Maybe they are obvious to someone who knows, or maybe they are patently flawed. Please feel free to enlighten me! So I was thinking, what is money? Obviously it doesn't really exist except in a very abstract way. Yes, apparantly there are large piles of gold in bank vaults somewhere, but I've never seen them. So really, money, or wealth, comes down to two main things, the natural resources of this planet, and human labour, which transforms those resources into products, which we consume and trade. Almost everything we produce is perishable, i.e. it doesn't last very long, meaning that we have to produce more. This is very useful for sustaining economies, but pretty shit for sustaining life on this planet. When this process is in full swing, we call it progress. We hand over power to large cororations, who promise us happiness and luxury, only to find that we have given up control over our own lives. Whole populations of people are shunted from place to place to provide the labour for this eternal march of progress, their lives purely incidental in the grand scheme of things. Until finally, one day, we arrive at that fantastic place. The ultimate destination. The goal. Which is.... ummm... what was it again? Oh dear, we forgot, the goal was actually supposed to be happiness, and instead all we did was turn our planet into an uninhabitable rock, devoid of life, ravaged by super storms and covered in warring factions of overly developed apes. Whoops!

So anyway, the solution to me seems pretty self evident. We are part of this planet just as much as a frog or a pebble, and as such we need to find a way to fit into it's rather beautifully orchestrated scheme. It's not a resource to be fought over and eventually exhausted, it's a part of us. Without it we are nothing. So lets get over this frantic race for progress, and concentrate on creating a sustainable world community in which ownership of the planet is considered illogical. What's one of the first things you try to teach a child? To share!

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