Really simple and quick apple and marmalade tarts to help pass the time as the snow slowly deepens here. Nothing spectacular to look at, but delightfully tasty.
I have seen the best minds of my generation squander their extraordinary talents on the marketing of consumer goods and the maintenance of shareholder value.
I have seen them abandon all pretence of worker’s rights at the behest of foreign and domestic bankers, Friedmanites from Chicago and MIT.
I have seen them relegate the environment to the dustbin, a victim in the race for quarterly profits and analysts expectations.
I have seen them treat safety issues as public relations issues, and seen them lobby to lessen their liability.
They have shamed seniors into wearing diapers, taught children how to smoke, and taunted teens into starving themselves to death.
They have sold goods that have killed millions, children, pregnant women, families, clans, tribes and nations, here and around the world.
They have spiked the waters of the masses with a poison called greed.
They have swallowed our ethics and morals and spat them back in our faces as branded goods for which it is right and necessary that we pay to display their logos.
You have contributed to their victory with every discretionary purchase, every dollar saved or spent.
You have accepted their world view with every envious glance, every lottery ticket purchase, every time you have watched a TV program starring “celebrities” or giving away a million dollars.
You have bowed to the inevitable with each ring of the alarm clock, each punch of the work clock, each end-of-week celebration.
You have become your parents, your older sister, your Uncle Frank with his shiny pants, your parents once again.
I have purchased things I could have made myself.
I have allowed my city to become plastered with advertising slogans, from store signs to billboards to the names of buildings and arenas.
I have dressed my children in designer labels, given then Elmo dolls and Flintstone vitamins, and let them choose CocoPops and TV cartoons over papaya and reading for breakfast.
I have enough of everything I need, and yet forever I need more; and
We have accepted all this bullshit, washed it down with the liquid lies of the liberal’s election hoax.
We have time and again made the wrong choice; time and again we have meekly accepted that the choices we are offered are the only choices possible.
We have been active participants in our own kidnapping, paying the ransom over and over again.
We have failed ourselves — and the bastards have won. At least for now.
It was 100 years ago today, that Howard Carter first sighted the antechamber to the tomb of Pharoah Tutankhamun, who had died very young in about 1325 BC.
Excavations had begun at the beginning of the month, and it would not be until 1925 that the Pharoah’s tomb would be cleared; but today, the anniversary of when the antechamber revealed its rich secrets, is generally considered the date of discovery.
The discovery and subsequent publicity made both King Tut and Howard Carter global celebrities.
Fidel Castro died 6 years ago today and the world is so much emptier for that fact.
I didn’t support Castro’s politics (though much of it tended to be better than most — look at Cuba’s health care system, for example, a success against every barrier the US could throw against it), but I supported the bravery of standing up for fifty years to an imperialist Superpower that had missiles and a huge army less than a 100 miles away.
More than the military threat, the US for two whole generations attempted to destroy the Cuban economy and people by sheer economic terrorism. Luckily, the world would not stand for that, and even Canada never flinched from business and tourism with Cuba.
Whenever self-righteous Americans point to the wreckage of Cuba’s economy and the poverty of the people (compared, say, to most parts of the US), remind them that this was caused directly and deliberately by American leaders.
I would guess that many people who know me would — absent my computer use — consider me a Luddite: I own no car, no mobile phone, no microwave, I’ve never been on Facebook, I don’t watch much TV, and I have very little time for the things out there.
I might have argued that the term should NOT apply to me because I don’t agree with mindless destruction. But an excellent article in The Conversation has straightened me out on the history of Luddism and I now gleefully accept the designation.
“Our circumstances today are more similar to theirs than it might seem, as new technologies are being used to transform our own working and social conditions — think increases in employee surveillance during lockdowns, or exploitation by gig labour platforms. It’s time we reconsider the lessons of Luddism …
“The contemporary usage of Luddite has the machine-smashing part correct — but that’s about all it gets right. First, the Luddites were not indiscriminate. They were intentional and purposeful about which machines they smashed. They targeted those owned by manufacturers who were known to pay low wages, disregard workers’ safety, and/or speed up the pace of work. Even within a single factory — which would contain machines owned by different capitalists — some machines were destroyed and others pardoned depending on the business practices of their owners …
“Luddism was a working-class movement opposed to the political consequences of industrial capitalism. The Luddites wanted technology to be deployed in ways that made work more humane and gave workers more autonomy. The bosses, on the other hand, wanted to drive down costs and increase productivity …
“It wasn’t the invention of these machines that provoked the Luddites to action. They only banded together once factory owners began using these machines to displace and disempower workers …
Sounds so much like today.
“Today, new technologies are being used to alter our lives, societies and working conditions no less profoundly than mechanical looms were used to transform those of the original Luddites. The excesses of big tech companies – Amazon’s inhumane exploitation of workers in warehouses driven by automation and machine vision, Uber’s gig-economy lobbying and disregard for labour law, Facebook’s unchecked extraction of unprecedented amounts of user data – are driving a public backlash that may contain the seeds of a neo-Luddite movement …
A neo-Luddite movement would understand no technology is sacred in itself, but is only worthwhile insofar as it benefits society. It would confront the harms done by digital capitalism and seek to address them by giving people more power over the technological systems that structure their lives.”
Well-worth taking the time to read the article.
1123 — the first numbers in the Fibonacci sequence — allows us to celebrate November 23rd as Fibonacci Day. This is in honour of Italian Leonardo Bonacci of Pisa who discussed the sequence in 1202.
The Fibonacci sequence goes as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity. Each number is the sum of the previous two. They were known in India well before Fibonacci and were called Virahanka numbers.
It might seem just like a simple mathematician’s trick, but the Fibonacci sequence is found throughout nature. For example, the petals on flowers follow the sequence — most flowers have three (like lilies and irises), five (parnassia, rose hips) or eight (cosmea), 13 (some daisies), 21 (chicory), 34, 55 or 89 (asteraceae). Spirals, such as in pine cones or conch shells, are also built up in Fibonacci sequences.
One could spend an entire Fibonacci Day finding more examples, from spiral galaxies to DNA sequences to fractal diagrams.
Fifty-nine years ago today, my mother and father and I had been visiting their closest friends, Ron and Betty, who lived a few miles from us in West London. I was in the backseat of the small black car. It smelled of leather and my parents’ cigarettes. I was sullen because I was just turned 14 years old and I had far better things to do than visit my parents’ old fogie friends to play cards.
I remember this all so clearly because, as we were driving home, the car radio broke off its normal programming and a solemn voice replaced the happy chatter. The voice announced that President John F. Kennedy of the United States had been shot and probably killed. I can still feel the gooseflesh that crawled over my skin. I remember the loud gasp as my father realized what had been said. John Kennedy was one of my father’s heroes, and he was mine too. He was our hope for the future, and now he was dead. Nothing else about that evening do I remember.
Within two years of that day, though, JFK had — in my eyes at least — fallen from the pedestal upon which his charisma, his beautiful family, and his martyrdom had placed him. He was quickly revealed as just another centre-right US politician who was happy to send the boys to war, who was happy to squander the nation’s wealth on weapons and imperialism, who had no answer to segregation but brother Bobby’s federal agents. We also learned (perhaps we always knew) he wasn’t quite such a great family man, either; that Camelot was an expensive sham.
Kennedy and his people lived in the tuxedoed world of High Society that was soon to be swept away by the real world of Soul on Ice and Revolver. We might have hated that big Texas bully who followed Kennedy, but it was Kennedy not Johnson who pushed the US into South Vietnam, and it was Johnson not Kennedy who brought forward the Civil Rights Acts. Looking back, we can now see that both Kennedy and Johnson were equal participants in the cabaret that is America the Superpower. Unfortunately for the truth, Kennedy will always have the smile, the beautiful wife, the cute John-John and Caroline, while Johnson will always be pulling the ears off those damn beagles.
A chicken scallopini with mushroom and pea cream pasta sauce.
— stealing silence like a prayer —
The tented flag throws shadows
across my pen and arm.
— Stealing time like a burglar —
Watching kaleidescopes of sunbeams
instead of working.