Welcome to a BogPo “Brexit- and Trump-free” zone! Knowing, “no-ing”, none… You said it, not me!… review: Is this a record?… Answers from the blue… GW: and the heat goes on…

Welcome to a BogPo Brexit and Trump-free zone!

750 coruscating Posts!

Quote of the week

“We were caught off guard by surveillance capitalism because there was no way we could have imagined its action, any more than the early peoples of the Caribbean could have foreseen the rivers of blood that would flow from their hospitality toward the sailors who appeared out of thin air waving the banner of the Spanish monarchs. Like the Caribbean people, we faced something truly unprecedented.

“… We are the native peoples now whose claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience.” – Dr Shoshana Zuboff, author: The Age of Surveillance Capital

 

You said it, not me!

Judging by the reviews, #amazonshitcarshow (sic) is just about the right name for Jeremy Clarkson’s new series.

Oh, sorry, that’s “Amazon’s hit car show”! Why didn’t they say sooner?

Millennials, eh?

 

“I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die.”

Knowing, “no-ing”, none

An article in Psychology Today (12 Jan) attempts with an air of bewilderment to work out why it is that humans, when faced with an overwhelming existential threat that just might be averted by a radical rethinking of their current modes of behavior, prefer to go on flying long-haul as if nothing is happening.

My immediate response was to cite the tragic case of Deasy Tuwo, 44, a scientist working at a pearl-fishing farm on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, who died last week after being partly eaten by a 20-foot long, 740-lb crocodile she had been feeding as a pet.

What the fuck did she expect would happen? Personally, I take care around my cat; still bearing as I do the livid three-inch scar on my arm from when I tried to evict a stray from the house, thirty years ago. I would maintain a very healthy distance from a 20-foot crocodile, I assure you.

Thus, through the application of the precautionary principle I have attained my 70th year.

I’m also quite concerned about going extinct before I die. But unless you lot start to come around, there’s not much more I can do, other than keep writing the GW column in this, muh li’l bogl, for the benefit of my average five lovely Likers, Spammers etc., who are probably stuck in my echo chamber anyway. I’m really not reaching the unconverted.

One could instance probably millions of cases in which people act in their own worst interests, despite the evidence staring them in the face.

The death toll in the recent disaster in Mexico, where 73 people (so far) are known to have died while siphoning fuel from a ruptured pipeline is matched by the incident only the week before, in which 80-odd Nigerians died in an identical “accident”.

The only reason gasoline powers your car is because it’s flammable, dummies. It’s a highly volatile liquid, and you’re standing too close. But you didn’t know that, right? So you lit a cigarette, pleading poverty and fuel shortages as an excuse.

Then there’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Always a bit of a tearaway, giving new meaning to the phrase “advanced driver”, at the age of 97 he seems to have developed a death wish.

First, he overshoots his wife’s driveway at Sandringham, careers blindly across the main road into the path of an onrushing vehicle (endangering the lives of two women and a baby, to whom – being a royal – he refuses to apologize) and is sent rolling over and over. Aided by a passer-by, he drags himself from the wreckage unscathed, and the next day is back behind the wheel of an expensive replacement car taxpayers have magically produced for him – having then to be “spoken to” by Norfolk police for failing to put on his seatbelt.

What is he like? As they say. Well, whatever else he may be like, he is certainly in denial of something that ought to be staring him in the face. He’s past it, okay? Just accept it, mate. You must have plenty of chauffeurs hanging around, furtively smoking and speed-dialling the editor of Hello! magazine. Why not engage one?

Anyway, it seems that psychologists have begun banding together to see what’s to be done about the problem of mass denial.

The earth’s climate is overheating, the heating is accelerating (93% of it so far has gone into the sea), it’s our fault for continuing to burn vast amounts of carbon-emitting fossil fuels while denuding the globe of the forests that used to lap up the CO2.

The effects are already glaringly obvious. Food and economic insecurities are mounting, the web of life is torn asunder and nobody will survive if the climate state should suddenly shift gear into runaway mode, which it will do when (not if) huge frozen reserves of potent methane gas are liberated by the warming we have already generated.

Rising sea level is the least of our worries.

But as long as one diehard attention-seeker continues to insist that we are instead watching the dawn of a new ice age, or that the warming is because the sunspots have disappeared; or who argues that the climate always changes and and will change back again, we are screwed.

So many people want desperately to believe the disinformation of those who imagine they can go on profiting massively from their current business models and who see no need to worry consumers. To change would, after all, affect “our way of life”, that capitalism has assured us is sacrosanct.

Let me assure you: it isn’t.

 

Review: Hiromi, “Time Control”

Is this a record?

I have a dreadful habit most evenings of hitting on YouTube clips of music by artists I normally like and sometimes whizzing straight over to the Amazon with an order for the CD.

Hiromi Uehara is possibly the most virtuosic and inventive improvisational pianist in the jazz canon, ever. People have compared her with, I don’t know, any of the great names listed as her “mentors” while a student at Berklee: Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, I could go on endlessly with examples of great pianists she is compared to but I won’t. Comparisons, as they say, are odious. She’s pretty bloody good, is all one can say.

We all make mistakes in the course of our careers, though, and her 2007 album “Time Control” with her Sonicbloom group is possibly the most egregious I know of. Profoundly disillusioned, I have just binned my copy on first hearing and shall chalk the expense up to experience.

(The only other album I have ever bought and binned instantly featured the dreadful American jazz singer, Melody Gardot, with her nauseating, syrupy arrangements.)

The short excerpt from “Time Control” I heard on YouTube is, of course, great. I have several other albums and videos featuring Hiromi, as she simply styles herself, and they’ve amply repaid the investment in listening time and money.

Otherwise, the rest of the tracks on the album are just different takes on a childish post-funk noise experiment, exacerbated by the frequent annoying overuse of an electronic keyboard effect akin to the wah-wah pedal beloved of guitarists in the mid 1970s.

It reminded me of those ghastly, cutesy little chemically-dwarfed East European gymnasts wiggling their pert little asses at the judges on the mat at the Olympic games of about the same vintage.

It’s easy to understand how Hiromi, who usually delivers a stunning blizzard of notes firmly grounded in a metronomic left-hand, could possibly feel that a Steinway grand piano on its own just isn’t enough. I have heard it said, both of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk, very different stylists, that as musicians they were seeking the spaces between the keys. In jazz, it’s easy to see why; you soon run out of notes.

On stage, Hiromi performs at the piano alongside a couple of synthesisers, sometimes playing both acoustically and electronically at the same time; then dives inside the piano to pluck at the naked strings, or resorts to a hammered percussion effect.

Anything, to relieve the monotony of her own brilliance.

Not being gifted, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be allowed to push your gift so far out into the universe, only to find there is an end to everything eventually.

In this case, I’m afraid the elastic snapped.

 

Answers from the blue

I have recently returned once again to attempting difficult crossword puzzles at bedtime. It’s a test, to see if my increasingly fragmented thoughts and memories thoughts and memories – see what I did there? – are terminal, or merely symptomatic.

The hardest one I find is the Genius-level crossword in The Oldie magazine. Hard, because it invariably contains lights that have no clues, or only part-clues, that you have to divine according to a convoluted rubric I barely comprehend.

The unclued lights generally include the name of a famous person, an author or artist, from history; and the titles of some of their works. The key being their dates. You can sometimes guess what and who they are from the clues you can actually solve, but it helps to have a knowledge of art and literature. I must have skipped those classes.

Anyway, Saturday night and encroaching sleep left me stuck for any suggestion as to who the famous person was, two words, who was – so the rubric said – born 200 years ago next month.

The following morning just before 9 o’clock I turned on the radio. The annoying presenter of Radio 4’s Broadcasting House magazine, Paddy O’Connell, a grown man seemingly afflicted with ADHD, was giving his usual random rundown of the programme’s forthcoming content.

I was delighted immediately to hear him announce a feature on John Ruskin, the C19th polymath and art critic, born 200 years ago next month, because the name fit perfectly with the two letters I already had in the down lights, and we were off again (Googling is cheating. Okay?).

The universe works in mysterious ways. It never lets me win anything on the Lottery, or sell my house, but occasionally it delivers answers to tricky questions.

 

GW: and the heat goes on…

Australia: In the last ten days Oz has had five of its hottest ever recorded. The Bureau of Meteorology said preliminary readings showed daily national temperature highs averaging 40C. A high of 48.3 °C was recorded at Tibooburra Airport (NSW) (Severe-weather.eu) The town of Noona in New South Wales meanwhile recorded a night-time temperature of 35.9C. It was the highest minimum temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia, the BOM said. And there’s no sign of an end: temperatures on Friday (18 Jan) will soar above 42C in “broad areas”, the bureau predicted. (BBC News)

Antarctica: Since December 25, Antarctic sea-ice extent has set calendar-day record lows every day for more than three solid weeks. Satellite-based records from the National Snow and Ice Data Center go back to 1979. Typically, Antarctic ice reaches its minimum for the year in late February or early March (late summer). As of Monday, January 14, the extent was 3.979 million sq km, which is well below the value of 4.154 million sq km observed on that date in 2017. Land ice too is melting at an alarming rate. Scientists have reported a sixfold increase in the loss of Antarctic land ice over the last 40 years. (The Weather Channel)

USA: As California continues to be pelted by successive storms carrying heavy rain and feet of snow in the Sierras, causing mudslides and evacuations in the tree-depleted fire-zones of the last two summers, “Winter Storm Harper has already pummeled parts of the West with heavy snow and will spread its mess of snow, ice and wind into the Plains, Midwest and Northeast into this weekend. The storm will tap into cold air once it moves through the central and eastern states Friday through the weekend, delivering a widespread swath of significant snow (1 to 3 feet).” (The Weather Channel)

Russia: Temperatures plunged to -57.5 °C in Delyankir (Sakha Republic) in far eastern Russia last night. This part of Russia is the one of the coldest places on Earth and the coldest inhabited area – the (fairly) nearby Oymyakon holds the official lowest recorded temperature in the northern hemisphere: -67.7 °C on February 6, 1933. (Severe-weather.eu) Generally colder weather with more snow is forecast over western Europe up into the British Isles while a 10 degree warmth anomaly persists over Greenland.

South America: “At least 3 people have died in flooding and storms that have affected several provinces of Argentina over the last few days. Strong winds caused damage in Santiago del Estero. Record rainfall was recorded in Resistencia, Chaco. Authorities have warned that the Uruguay River could reach danger levels. The river has already broken its banks upstream, causing flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, where some areas have recorded almost 500mm of rain in the last 3 days. Stormy weather has also caused at least one fatality in the state.” Heavy rain has also affected parts of Uruguay, and there have been floods in Peru and Bolivia. (From Floodlist)

South Pacific: Severe weather brought by tropical cyclones Penny and Mona has affected several Pacific islands over the last 2 weeks. At least 3 deaths have been reported with a further 6 people thought to be still missing. Strong wind has damaged homes and crops, while heavy rain and storm surge has caused widespread flooding. Red Cross volunteers have been helping with evacuations and relief operations in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Flooding was also reported in parts of Papua New Guinea. (Floodlist, NB, some of this reporting dates from the last week while the BogPo was mostly offline.)

Africa: “Violent storms and flash flooding triggered by heavy rain have affected the south east African countries of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique over the last few days. Over 20 people have reportedly died since 09 January, 2019.” (Floodlist) 18 of the casualties were caused by lightning strikes over Mozambique.

 

Disappearing acts

Yellowstone: with hundreds of cubic miles of magma still inexorably rising toward the surface, an unusual ‘screw-wave’ earthquake, or ‘Tornillo’ was recorded 48 hours ago at 6km depth under the Grant region of the lake. An almost identical seismic wave pattern heralded within days a major eruption in Iceland in 2011. (Mary Greeley)

Another problem being, the people at US Geological Survey who are supposed to be monitoring the Wyoming supervolcano’s increasingly alarming antics and advising people in the event of an impending cataclysm are on unpaid leave, thanks to Trump’s insane shutdown of parts of the government.

Advertisements

A BogPo slowly forms: Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!…You can’t wait until Kevin Gates… The Light fantastic… Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea… GW: No business like snow business… Not so fast: RIP George

Quote of the Month

The Tweet: “You have Walls, and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way.”

The follow-up: “You know, I said to some people over the weekend, you have walls, you have wheels, and some things that never get old. They’re not gonna change.”

Donald J Trump first tweets, and then clearly explains to his bemused cabinet, why he needs $5.7 billion to build his insane border wall, that may be a fence, possibly even on wheels, who knows?

 

Go, Munchkins. Munchkins are go!

The American Treasury Secretary is a person called Steve Mnuchin. He’s not very popular, not since he was unwisely photo-opped grinning smugly next to his expensive and arrogant young wife, looking like a Russian spy or something, while gloating over a sheet of dollar bills newly printed with his name on them, as if they belonged to him.

I say “or something”, because there’s an unexpectedly heavy aroma of massive collusion potentially amounting to treason hanging over the Munchkin today, and he’s so dumb, he may not even know it.

“Here’s the wages you ain’t gettin’ paid, suckers!” The Munchkins at work and play.

It goes back to Trump, of course, and the day in 2013 when he delivered whatever remained of his soul up to the Kremlin.

It was in Moscow, and he was there to launch his tacky Miss Universe pageant, maybe get to paternally fondle a few bare asses, and there was a dinner party. Putin wasn’t present, but a baker’s dozen of his ‘cronies’ were, call it a coven – and Trump boasted excitedly afterwards like the child he is that “all the oligarchs were there”, this gang of grotesquely rich criminal billionaires who had all profited from dodgy selloffs of state assets at the people’s expense, whom he greatly admires for their enterprise.

It was then that, flattered by the attention of his idols, Trump seems to have done his fatal deal over Trump Tower Moscow, that lies at the center of everything Bob Mueller has been investigating. A gossamer sheet of lies still hangs between the President and members of his campaign team, many of whom have already been indicted and even gaoled for trying to coverup what went on, but the evidence must surely be that Trump himself presided over their actions.

And what it essentially boils down to is that, to finance possibly the biggest deal of his life, a project sold to him everso sweetly and innocently by the Russian mafiosi around his table, and dangled like a carrot by Putin – Trump allegedly offered him the $50 million penthouse suite for free if only his friend Vladimir would approve it – Trump set his team the task of privately continuing negotiations even while publicly distancing himself as a candidate for the US presidency – and beyond.

It was far from the first time that Trump had taken Russian money. In the 1980s, his failing casinos were bankrolled by a man believed to be at the head of a major crime organization, Semyon Mogilevitch. Mogilevitch associates and others subsequently acquired many Trump properties at grossly inflated prices suggestive of money-laundering. And the Trump boys have both said at one time or another that they get all the funding they need for the golf courses and so on from Russia – “we’re in and out of there all the time”, said Don Jr, breezily, even as his father was frantically lying to the nation that he had no business dealings whatever with Russia.

United in hatred of Clinton, the Russians were angling for a US administration that would lift the damaging sanctions imposed on them, and so offered to help fix the election. In return, presumably, they had agreed to find Trump the money and permissions he would need for the insanely expensive Tower he had been dreaming of building for years.

His Moscow business partner, property magnate Aras Agalarov, was behind the fixing of the 9 June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, New York with the Kremlin lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya – who was indicted just five days ago on charges of providing false evidence to a New York court in an apparently unrelated case involving a $230 million tax fraud in Russia. Unrelated, that is, but for the presence in the background of another of Trump’s Russian business partners, the notorious Felix Sater, thought to have helped launder the proceeds through offshore vehicles.

And by the presence at the meeting of Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort; a meeting about whose exact purpose Trump, his family and members of his team were to lie increasingly desperately for months. (Indeed, we still don’t really know. Manafort’s history of fixing elections in Ukraine might tell us something; while the claimed purpose of obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton might well relate to any leverage the St Petersburg trollfarm boys would have been able to bring to bear against the Democrats in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, of which more in a minute.)

But Putin’s own plans went far beyond a piffling few billion dollars, a penthouse and a new excrescence on Moscow’s historic skyline.

He saw an opportunity to own his very own President, who could be ordered to spin an entirely new US foreign policy that would benefit his project to restore Russia’s sphere of influence to Soviet dimensions, and perhaps beyond to the recovery of sovereign territories lost in Gorbachov’s shameful era of Glasnost and Perestroika.

Mr Trump has not let him down.

A court filing released in the past few days was so ineptly redacted by the lawyers that journalists were easily able to see behind the blacked-out sections that campaign chair Paul Manafort’s role in the plan has been exposed by Mueller.

And now Mnuchin has been summonsed by Congress to explain something quite shocking.

Manafort was himself compromised by a $19 million debt to a sanctioned Putin oligarch called Oleg Deripaska, a longtime player on the international stage, ‘friend’ of British Labour peer and former EU Trade Commissioner, Lord Peter Mandelson, that he couldn’t repay.

It now appears that the price of forgiveness was to work with a contact from the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence arm, one Konstantin Kilimnick, to obtain useful polling data from certain swing states, enabling the hackers in St Petersburg to focus their efforts on finding and influencing Democratic voters there, weaponizing the data.

US elections are a bizarre entanglement of rules and procedures. But the plan worked: those were the very same states where the Clinton campaign rashly felt safe enough – may even have been persuaded by covert GRU disinformation – to reduce their hustings; the three key states where, despite not having a popular majority in the country overall, on 11/9/2016 Trump had secured sufficient numbers to gain by just 77,000 votes enough delegates to win the presidency in the Electoral College.

And on 17 December 2018, the day Congress was shutting down for Christmas, it quietly slipped out into the public domain, with almost zero media coverage and no explanation, that Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, had unilaterally lifted the sanctions on some companies linked with Russia’s Aluminum Tsar, Oleg Deripaska.

The question must surely be left hanging, Cheshire-catlike, in the air: has Putin also bought himself a direct line in to the US Treasury?

They need to be told.

Urgently.

 

You can’t wait until Kevin Gates

A story of terminal frivolity

A Japanese tech startup has unveiled at the CES Tech show in Los Angeles, a touch-enabled device that performs all of the functions of a Google Home Help or an Alexa.

So what? You may ask. Do we need another spy in the corner, that can turn the lights on when you shout at it, play your favorite tunes just like Spotify, and send details of every sigh and curse you emit to an advertiser somewhere, to have your data blended into persuasive messages?

Well, yes. Because, unlike tech devices made to look uncannily like tech devices, this device is modeled on… a plank.

An ordinary, featureless wooden plank. Brown, about 14 inches long by two inches wide and maybe 3/4-inch deep.

You know, the plank that usually serves as a metaphor for stupidity, as in: “(Former Brexit Secretary) David Davis is as thick as two short planks”.

The kind that if you found it lying around the house, you’d chuck it out in the shed thinking, that might come in useful for something someday; knowing deep down it never will.

Touch the plank, however, and miraculously control buttons light up out of the bare wood, and words and numerals and numerous icons and slidy things are obtained, Lord knows how, because there was no sign of them under the smooth grain of the plank, but there they are.

The plank is interactive.

You can talk to the plank, too. Surely, one of the great marketing concepts.

And when middle-aged white-guy and overweighting BBC substitute techie teenager, Rory Cellan-Jones asks it to demonstrate, he slowly and deliberately asks the plank, which is called Mui, “What’s the weather like today, Mui?”

And slowly the plank lights up, words appear, and it replies:

“You can’t wait until Kevin Gates.”

Thus proving that, at least, it recognizes a verb when it sees one.

I fear the end may be nigher than we think.

 

The Light fantastic…

And indeed, so does Dr Malcolm Light, earth systems scientist.

Interestingly, I posted a Comment on The Guardian website that referred readers to the following story just now, and for some unknown reason, my Comment disappeared a few minutes later, without even a note to say it had been Moderated. You’ll maybe see why.

A new report on the website Arctic-news.blogspot.com (7 Jan.) makes for chilling reading in a warming world:

“Recent data from the Arctic confirm an exponential rise in the temperature anomaly of the Arctic stratospheric methane which is now 65 degrees C above the normal, while it was only 20 degrees C above the normal, 6 to 8 years ago. Using this data and the recent … estimates of the minimum Arctic ice shelf volume it is now possible to estimate the timing of the Arctic – Permian style methane blowout firestorm.”

Indeed, Dr Light estimates that on present trends, after the initial eruption in 2021 we should have about another year before the “methane burp” – the anticipated rapid outgassing of explosive methane from the Arctic ocean floor predicted by Arctic researcher, Dr Natalya Shakhova – pushes global temperature by 10C and boils us all “like lobsters”.

“The Major Arctic Permian Style, Methane Blowout – Firestorm Event which will cause the release of some 50 Gt of methane from the Arctic shelf and slope (Shakhova, 2010), a 10 Degree Centigrade Rise in Mean Global Atmospheric Temperatures causing a Catastrophic Permian Style Global Extinction Event, is timed to begin on 4th September, 2021. There is a 95% probability that the Arctic Ice Shelf will have Zero Volume by the 5th of September 2022.”

And thus, by September 2023 it’s game over. The one positive being that we shan’t have to worry about Brexit anymore, as the global backstop looks pretty final.

I know we all feel a bit like this in January, but this is looking a bit serious. Dr Light, late of the Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring, goes on with the use of many dire capital letters to advise:

“Do not worry about dying as it comes to all of us in the end, only this time we will all be going together. The Earth will soon after, lose all its oceans and become ‘Venus Like’.”

As he explained in a 2014 interview:

“There are such massive methane reserves below the Arctic Ocean floor (more than 5000 billion tons of methane carbon) that they represent around 100 times the amount that is required to cause a Permian style major extinction event, should about one percent of the sub-sea Arctic methane be released into the atmosphere. There are also giant reservoirs of mantle methane, originally sealed in by shallow methane hydrate plugs in fractures cutting the Arctic seafloor. Unfortunately for us, global warming has heated up the oceanic currents fed by the Gulf Stream flowing into the Arctic, causing massive destabilization of the sub-sea methane hydrates…”

There is no technological fix for this problem; it’s not CO2, shutting the factories and power plants and permanently parking the cars while we build more windmills won’t change anything. CO2 has done its work already: putting Earth on course for an uninhabited hothouse world.

 

Borderline nuts

A GoFundMe campaign to persuade fellow Trump supporters to donate to a $1 billion fund to contribute to building the President’s insane wall running 2,000 miles along the border with Mexico has raised just $20 million. A significant amount, but only 2 per cent of the target.

And because the President stamped his dainty little foot and abused his powers to shut large swathes of the Government down, holding 800 thousand poorly paid Government workers, their families and local shopkeepers hostage to his demented fantasy, there’s nobody in position within the administration to accept the donations anyway.

So, having failed to meet the stated objective the organizers have had to switch the basis of the appeal to the funding of a private company that plans to go ahead and build the wall themselves. the wall for which the President wants $5.7 billion.

Which means refunding the original donations.

And we think Britain is a divided nation in which a bunch of calculating thugs in yellow tabards is yelling at the smart people that they’re not happy and it’s all our fault.

Indeed so confused have things become, that violent ultra-nationalist protestors on the far-right are accusing Remain-leaning MPs in the centre of both left and right parties of being Nazis.

 

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea

A project funding ‘expert’ has described a suggestion by the Energy minister that Britain could fund future nuclear power stations by offering developers more of the future revenues up-front – at cost to the consumer – as: “A desperate leap in the dark”. (BBC)

Hmmmn.

Speaking of darkness, I collared a young lad on the footpath yesterday evening while out walking dogs (he being the only other person around, the son of a neighbour), and asked him to witness something rather strange I had observed.

My phone battery had died and there would never be any other evidence.

Away over on the horizon was a blood-red sunset. I’d watched it turn from a shimmering pinkish glow and grow brighter and redder and broader, until it consumed the whole of a bank of low cloud; while directly up above, a flocculent cloudscape outlined against a pale blue sky was turning fiery pink.

So it was sunset! I hear you jeer. What’s so unusual about that?

Yes. Except that the sun normally sets in the west. Due west, across the town. And this was in the south-west, down the coast. Where the sun should have been setting remained resolutely grey.

It was a phenomenon (we don’t say ‘phenomena’ for the singular, as the idiots now do. ‘Phenomena’ is the name of a 2013 film directed by Steve Coogan and starring Dame Judy Dench) to rival another I had witnessed only a few nights before.

Being dragged out by Hunzi for his last-gasp walk, at about 11.15 p.m., through the darkness we observed the sky over the town had turned a bright, fiery red. It honestly looked as though some huge conflagration had broken out and was being reflected back by clouds. But no sirens could be heard.

I hastened to a better vantage point where no buildings intruded. It was so bright, I was able to take photographs. Ultimately, my excitement died down and I realized, it was only the sodium street lights of the town refracted in a bank of sea-mist.

Yet stands Boglington-on-Sea.

 

GW: No business like snow business

Europe: up to 3 meters of snow on high ground in Austria and SE Germany generated red warnings, and there have been casualties from avalanches and falling trees: 12 dead to date, with more snow forecast for the weekend. Northern Greece registered a low of -23C but more southerly Greek temperatures are expected back up to 17C with intense rainstorms forecast – social media photos are circulating of snow on the beaches near Athens. (Guardian/Wunderground)

USA: Unusually, the whole of the United States from coast to coast is in a low-temperature anomaly, without the pattern of cold-east, hot-west we’ve seen for the past two years at least. Temperatures in places like Santa Fe were barely above freezing. “Winter Storm Gia will spread a swath of snow and some ice from parts of the Rockies, Plains and Midwest to the mid-Atlantic into this weekend, making travel a challenge in these areas. Gia was named late Thursday afternoon as the number of people in winter storm warnings surpassed 2 million. (The Weather Channel)

Update: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents below the Thomas Fire and Sherpa/Whittier Fire burn areas, as a (second) winter storm bears down on the Central Coast. (Mary Greeley). The third, fast-moving storm in the series to hit California is expected to move into the area Tuesday into early Wednesday with a potential for rain and snow in the higher elevations. The fourth system, expected to be the strongest and wettest of the three, will hit the area Wednesday and Thursday. Debris flows and mudslides are likely in areas where heavy rain hits burn areas. (The Weather Channel)

Australia: And after a few cyclonic days, Roasting Matilda is back. “Low-intensity heatwave conditions have been forecast across parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Every state and territory will bake through a heatwave on Monday with meteorologists saying soaring temperatures (up to 45C, 113F) will last for days in some parts.” (Guardian)

 

End News…

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the first time in 2019, on 04 Jan., after a year in which 33 eruptions were recorded – 4 more than in the previous record year, 1964. The average is 2 or 3 a year. Ground uplift and water temperatures continuing to rise as 300 cubic miles of magma makes its way toward the surface. (Mary Greeley website)

Update: ground shaking, small quakes, magma rising, sulphur dioxide emissions off the scale…. just sayin’ (Mary Greeley)

Trump shutdown: “The 99th meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona, but a huge hole in the meeting has been created by the absence of U.S. government scientists, who were denied attendance due to the ongoing government shutdown. At least 700 scientists who were scheduled to attend could not, leading to the cancellation or last-minute rearrangement of about a quarter of all of the talks.” (Wunderground)

Anyone would think Trump is doing this deliberately.

 

Not so fast: RIP George

‘George’, the last surviving Hawaiian Tree Snail, has died at the ripe old age of 14.

The story of Achatinella apexfulva is a paradigm for the ignorance and stupidity with which humans have approached the “stewardship” of the planet.

Had it not been for an outbreak of snail disease in the study colony, where the last of the species clung on in captivity, and but for 250 years of human depredation – before Europeans arrived the snail had no natural predators – perhaps the once abundant species might have hung around in the trees a while longer.

But its extinction was assured following the the deliberate introduction in 1955 of the predatory Rosy Wolf Snail, which was supposed to get rid of the accidentally introduced Giant African Snail but set about feasting on all the other species as well.

On New Year’s Day 2019, the Hawaiian Tree Snail was declared extinct. (Guardian Green Light)

The Pumpkin – Issue 73: He’s gone completely nuts… The Dunning Kruger Effect strikes again… Straight thinking… It’s something in the air… GW 2019, and the beast goes on….

“No-one has as much hair as me. I have the greatest hair of any president, maybe in history. I am ordering a complete shutdown of hair until we know what the hell is going on.” Serenaded by a barbershop quartet, Trump adopts the bald approach and shaves the day.

He’s gone completely nuts

He’s been unable to persuade House Leader Nancy Pelosi that she’s really the one who is causing the shutdown of large parts of the government, putting 800 thousand employees on garden leave or forcing them to work unpaid for the last two weeks, because the Democrats won’t vote funding for the wall.

It’s a ploy for which he is on video recently saying he takes full responsibility. But now he doesn’t.

Following their meeting, the madman declared that he is prepared to shut the government down “for months or years if necessary” and call a State of Emergency to enable the army to take over the running of essential services, if he does not get his $5 billion for the border wall. He will order the Corps of Engineers to build it, using contingency funds from the military budget.

Supported by the Republican leader in the Senate, the creepy old slimeball Mitch McConnell,  a supine Trumpsucker who would kill his own grandchildren to save the profound corruption wing of the party, Trump has in effect declared war on the House of Representatives, now with a substantial Democrat majority, and on the US Government.

Pundits are gauging his mood and think that he is probably bluffing, but the threat to declare a State of Emergency is something they have been fearing since he was first elected.

It would be a first step towards achieving the absolute authority Trump craves. Most of the key positions in his cabinet are currently filled by “acting” executives he can replace at will. He has no legal team capable of defending him, so some drastic action is required.

Declaring martial law and assuming executive powers would allow him to round up and imprison his political opponents and detractors, as he has many times threatened to do, without trial.

He could shut down the media, and suspend the Justice Department, ordering all investigations into his and his family’s extensive criminal activities and the literally hundreds of civil suits outstanding against him be stopped in their tracks.

It’s not about the wall, it’s about Mueller.

In case you think it’s an exaggeration to say he has truly gone out of his mind, try this:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect strikes again

“How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?”

Trump responds with a tweet to an ill-advised criticism in the House, praising himself to the skies. Does he really believe this nonsense? Because it’s all a complete fantasy. That paragraph alone contains five provable lies.

Psychologists, Drs Dunning and Kruger came up in the late ’90s with a fascinating theory: some people are too stupid to know how stupid they are, thus they assume wrongly that they know more than anyone else.

We’ve all heard Trump boasting that he knows more than his generals about dealing with ISIS, and more about tax than any accountant (except, obviously, his own). He admitted ruefully that the dreadful US healthcare system that he had told MAGA rallies from Hicksville to Okeefenokee he would fix in a heartbeat was in fact “complicated”. Who knew? He knows all about nuclear science because he had an uncle who worked for NASA. He invented the phrase “fake news”, that maybe nobody had ever used before. All of the media his public image totally depends on, that fantasy that he is a successful billionaire business mogul, is “fake” and “failing” – “enemies of the people”. The entire criminal justice system from the failing FBI to the disloyal Justice Department is a Democrat conspiracy against him.

He understands the polls “a lot better” than many pollsters, which is just as well because they’re giving him only 34% approval for the job he’s not doing well, and 80% disapproval for his border wall, although he says it has overwhelming support and will keep out criminals, drugs and diseases. Border patrols, he says, are arresting ten terrorists a day; many appear to be children. Contrary to the advice of fire and forestry experts, he still insists that raking California’s forest floor regularly will prevent wildfires, which were made worse by the authorities syphoning all the available water off and sending it to the Pacific.

Just two days ago, he commented that technology was something he knew more about than anyone else. He’s making Medicare stronger for all while defunding the program to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, including himself. Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by “ocean water”, he informed us he had just learned, while 3,000 people did not die in the botched aftermath of Hurricane Maria, that figure from research commissioned by his own administration was made up by Democrats to “make me look bad”.

”Clean coal” is, of course, coal that has been washed before burning. His inauguration crowd was visibly the biggest in history; the photographs showing a virtually deserted plaza were faked. Millions of undocumented migrants voted for Hillary Clinton, which is why he won. The Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter, the most expensive flying weapons platform in history, which he claimed to have helped design, is literally invisible, you can’t see it.

Climate change may be a hoax, “many scientists have said it’s a hoax” (98% of the world’s scientists must be complicit in a 140-year-old hoax then, because they all say it’s real, as do Exxon-Mobil and Trump’s own science policy department), “It may be a hoax, I don’t know”… (he always qualifies his more questionable assertions in such a way as to suggest he would be right if only you believed it too….)

The recent vertiginous slide in the stock market is “just a blip” and all the fault of the Federal Reserve bank (although he caused it by his winnable “trade war” with China, having taken credit for the previous rise that was due to the policies of the previous administration)… While his tariffs that are “bringing back millions of American jobs” and his assaults on migrant workers are causing shutdowns and layoffs and farm bankruptcies….

For many more totally false and self-aggrandizing assertions, try: http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/

His verified untruths now running at over eight a day, Trump is clearly very confident in the amazing breadth and depth of his knowledge, but sadly none of it turns out to have much basis in fact. Some of it is expedient lying for political effect, but much more of it seems to be based in some delusionary alternative reality he inhabits.

And by his compulsive outbursts of rage tweeted against the Special Counsel enquiry, to the despair of his defense team, and his emplacement of outspoken, biased defenders within the Justice Department and the courts, he continues to implicate himself deeper and deeper in the federal crime of obstructing justice; for which he can be indicted.

Indeed, he may be one of the most profoundly stupid and ill-informed people ever to hold the office of President; carried over the line by irrepressible narcissism.

So much so, that he lacks the mental apparatus to know he’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and that’s Dunning-Kruger at work. Impervious to expert advice, incapable of absorbing more than the simplest of cartoon briefings, seemingly barely able to read, his policies informed by the little yammering TV faces on Fox & Friends, from where increasingly he imports his staff appointments, he has chosen instead to assume he is the smartest person alive.

“I’m, like, a really smart person – a very stable genius,” he told a CNN reporter. He told another interviewer, without his unique brain the economy would collapse. He had earlier claimed that Vladimir Putin had hailed him as a genius.

Researchers found no truth in the assertion, Trump having seized on the word in a mistranslation of a speech in which Putin described him as merely ‘colorful’.

But he’s not alone. Dunning-Kruger appears to infect many politicians. Here’s another great example:

The train now departing…

The British Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling is a very tall man with a head shaped like a lightbulb. He has been under fire all the past year for the abject failure of an attempt by the government-contracted train operating companies to reschedule their timetables in a supposedly co-ordinated manner, that led to chaos on the network with thousands of cancelled services – some trains reportedly not heading to the advertised destinations, stranding passengers miles from where they needed to be – and had to be abandoned.

It has been admitted that the failure was because no-one was in overall charge. As Grayling himself has pointed out, he is not a “railway specialist”. So it wasn’t his fault no competent individual had been appointed to oversee the complex project.

A 3% fares hike that came into effect on 1 January with no sign of improvement in the dirty, unreliable and overcrowded service has understandably pissed-off hard-pressed commuters – again. Britain has by far the most expensive train fares in Europe, per mile. Grayling says, it’s all the fault of greedy train drivers wanting more money.

Alternatively, he says, it’s because the train operators need loads of money for investment (much of it goes in executive bonuses!) – it’s the same lame excuse every year.

Either way, it’s nothing to do with him; a 140% increase in passengers being shoehorned into groaning carriages and often stranded by the endless “engineering works” or “leaves on the line”, must, he says, be proof of the popular success of the railways. Although one might conclude, it’s his failure to ensure the maintenance of the roads, the lack of parking, increasing town-center pollution charges and the ever-rising cost of city living that are driving people who live out beyond cycling distance to board the cattle-truck commuter trains in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile, the UK government has been trying to frighten rebel Conservatives in Parliament by making a huge deal out of emergency preparations for major freight delays at ports leading to shortages of food and medicine in the event that Brexit goes ahead without a formal separation agreement. Effective customs protocols and systems haven’t yet been put in place or even invented. The costs of stockpiling are rising – $120 million to date.

With less than three months to go, “Failing Grayling” as the press are calling him has played his part by handing a $19 million contract to a small, unknown company to operate additional cross-channel ferry services to speed the importation of vital supplies from France. A company that owns no ferries and has no experience of maritime freight operations. Questioned on the BBC about this perverse choice, Grayling replied that people should be pleased that he’s supporting a new British business startup – one of whose white, middle-aged male directors appears to be a hefty party donor. Plus, he had made sure they had a watertight contract (my pun, sorry.)

So the company has gone full-steam ahead and published a website, detailing its terms and conditions of business, its contract with the taxpayer, and is now being ridiculed on social media as it appears they simply cut-and-pasted a pre-written document from some fast-food supply company and accidentall omitted to re-word large sections of it.

Grayling’s watertight contract for a cross-channel supply lifeline is all about pizza delivery.

Commentators are demanding to know, how the hell does this incompetent, bungling nitwit keep his job? No-one has an answer – least of all Grayling, who continues to show a total lack of self-awareness as he blunders from one ministerial post to another, trailing chaos in his wake.

Yet his interviews reveal him to be a man of boundless self-confidence, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect is probably all that is carrying him through.

Like Trump, Grayling is so stupid, he doesn’t know he’s stupid.

It doesn’t bode well for all our futures.

 

Straight thinking

“It would never occur to him to ask what books will be in the library, since he himself barely reads.”

“US President Donald Trump has mocked the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan. Mr Trump suggested the contribution was of no use to reconstruction efforts in the country. ‘That’s like five hours of what we spend,’ the US president mocked.”

Everything this dumb bastard says or tweets is based on the crudest of transactional analyses.

The idea that libraries are educational, civilizing influences and have been since writing was invented would never occur to him as a developmental tool, so crudely fashioned is his reptilian brain.

Since he has none, the moronic Trump does not value knowledge; does not comprehend – cannot comprehend – the priceless nature of learning to an isolated tribal country like Afghanistan, that has been at war for decades and is increasingly controlled by puritanical, religious primitives almost as crude and reactionary as the President of the United States and his Evangelical base.

It would never occur to him to ask what books will be in the library, since he can himself barely read and has no interest in doing so.

Will there be fiction, to open up new horizons and introduce stimulating creative ideas? Poetry? Will there be a reservoir of the region’s long history, promoting ideals of courage and sacrifice that can be built on? The foundation stories of the nation? Or will there be textbooks, the basic building-blocks of learning, spreading enlightenment, internationalism and the roots of future value-creating innovation? Will the books help to spread the ideas of liberal democracy; bring healing and reconciliation to a fractured nation? Will they teach engineering, economics, medical science and technology? Or will the books be all of these and more?

He doesn’t give a fuck.

He’s the president, and you’re not.

A library – a room full of dumb old books – is just not expensive enough to compare with all those $trillions and lives both military and civilian successive US administrations since 9/11 have wasted pursuing the Great Game, that he thinks should be paid back in treasure. As if India is somehow in debt to him personally.

But it did occur to him to praise the Russians for invading Afghanistan in 1979; a history of which, evidently, he is entirely ignorant.

Fuck Donald Trump, right to Hell.

He wouldn’t know.  He’s never read a book; not even the ones he lies constantly about having written himself. He’s just a thuggish, bullying imbecile stuffed with junk food; a Frankenstein creature cobbled together by the media out of the volumes of rotting cheeseburger that lumbering suit contains; a brain, made from congealed greed and expedient lies; a philosophy of Bannonite nihilism imposed on a mob-boss mentality that has shown an extraordinary degree of compromise and cowardice during his two years of bullshitting his way around the office of President.

A lifelong minor criminal, a cheating small businessman sanctified by a garbage TV show, now a senile buffoon who can no longer imagine how you close an umbrella.

It is possible no man has been hated as much as Donald Trump is hated, by millions of Americans aghast at his incompetence; his rudeness, sheer nastiness; and by people of sensibility around the world, for the thuggish gangsterism, childish tantrums, celebrations of ignorance, betrayal of ideals and fathomless corruption he stands for.

If as the Evangelical Christian conman, former convict and fellow borderline psychopath, Jim Bakker, says, Trump has been sent by God and must be unquestioningly obeyed, then it is surely to teach us a lesson in civics.

Never again should any sentient body of people even dare to think of electing a totally unqualified and so obviously unfit candidate merely on the grounds that you’ve seen him looking powerful and decisive on TV (you think the word “reality” in “reality show” means it’s real?), he’s a bit “different” from conventional politicians; he dares to “say what we are thinking” and takes no nonsense from so-called experts, the liberal elite.

It’s liable to be the end of your world and mine.

Because you’re not thinking straight.

 

It’s something in the air

Some years ago, the British biochemist, Dr Rupert Sheldrake proposed a strange theory: that once something had happened once, it reduced the odds against it happening again. The cosmos was capable of learning from experience.

For instance, crystals all form in the same way, once the original crystal has formed. Why? Is there some kind of cosmic energy field that arranges things so?

Learned behaviors in biological organisms too seemed to spread in a kind of contactless way, that he put down to genetic memory. Sheldrake called it the field of “morphic resonance”, and conducted an experiment at long distance, whereby pupils in the UK were set to solve a math problem that was then given to pupils in faraway Turkey, timed against a control problem both groups had already solved, to see if the Turkish pupils got any faster once the new problem had first been solved in Britain.

Sorry to disappoint, but I absolutely forget what the outcome was. Probably inconclusive. Because, of course, Sheldrake was roundly mocked and accused of practicing New Age pseudo-science by his colleagues in the biochemistry community.

Although he continues to obtain appointments to various, apparently serious, parapsychological research posts – mainly in US universities – and wins awards, his theory of morphic resonance remains unproven out on the fringes of rational science.

Except that there does seem to be a curious connection, possibly spiritual, between the UK Conservative party and the Trump so-called administration to suggest a possible proof.

While there is no direct chain of command, nevertheless the British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, a man with a face looking as if it was created by a mildly sozzled balloon-animal entertainer at a children’s party, the second-generation son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver, seems to have had a very similar epiphany to that of US President Donald Trump, only a few days behind.

Both men coming imminently from migrant family stock, are nevertheless committed to the same course of demonizing refugees in exchange for the bigot vote.

Javid: “…a face looking as if it was created by a mildly sozzled balloon-animal entertainer…” (Photo: James Gourley/Rex/Shutterstock)

There used to be an ad for an insurance company who claimed: “We won’t make a drama out of a crisis”. In Mr Javid’s case – he refers to himself, apparently, as “the Saj” – he has been busy over the holidays doing precisely the opposite: claiming that the attempts since the beginning of November by about 200 bedraggled Iranian migrants to cross the Channel in small inflatables amounts to a national emergency, worthy of recalling the British Navy to fight them off.

The teenage Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson, a fresh-faced ex-fireplace salesman who pops up at every turn eagerly offering to put soldiers on the streets to quell non-existent public disorder and hand out rations, as Our Boys have nothing better to do, immediately rallied to the flag, pulling his little fleet of warships back from every corner of the globe to defend the Realm. But then, he too is gunning for Theresa May’s job when he grows up.

The resonances between this absurd exaggeration and Trump’s bullshit pre-midterm elections propaganda campaign, shoving out massive quantities of fake news about the terrifying so-called migrant “caravan” wending its way from Honduras to the Mexico border where, without his $5bn Wall, they would be primed by the Jew Soros in league with the failing Dems to invade, bringing in drugs, gangs, murder, terrorism, pollution of the white race, unknown diseases and people willing to do shitty jobs, are striking; albeit the American version is land-based and the British, in the finest tradition, maritime, both are examples of calculated rabble-rousing that are falling rather flat with the majority.

Without any apparent collusion, both men seem to have hit on much the same idea of closing the borders, both for promoting themselves as decisive leaders facing down an existential threat of exaggeratedly enormous proportions; and for dividing their countries over a matter exciting much irrational debate and manufactured tension.

To enhance his voter appeal, Saj cut short his holiday in South Africa and flew home to confront the armada of desperate people as brown as himself, only to end up more red-faced as colleagues opposed to this rather obvious pitch for the leadership of the party gleefully leaked that he and his wife Laura had been largeing it in a £1,700 a night safari lodge, while over a million Britons had been enjoying Christmas dinner at their local charity food bank.

What both men are resolutely ignoring is the illegality of denying genuine refugees the right, guaranteed by the United Nations, to apply for asylum and have their cases fairly heard. The claims are the same: you don’t know who these people are; there could be terrorists among them; they’re being trafficked by bad men; the crossing is dangerous so they mustn’t be allowed to try; they should apply in the first country they come to; sending rescue ships will only encourage them; there’s no room at the inn, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, as reports emerge of extensive child abuse going on in the makeshift holding pens to which the appalling Kjaersten Nielsen, Homeland Security Secretary, continues to send hundreds of children ripped away from their migrant families at the border, the British government still has no knowledge of the whereabouts of more than 500 refugee children, legally qualified to join family members in Britain, who simply vanished from the makeshift camps across the Channel after a campaign led by the fascist-leaning Daily Mail resulted in a halt to the program they were meant to be admitted under.

And, following the efforts of the French police to eradicate the unofficial Calais “jungle” camp, men, women and children are sleeping in the open in fields around the Channel ports, hoping against hope that someone will ferry them the 26 miles to what they foolishly persist in imagining might be freedom.

While all there is in the air is the oppressive miasma of manufactured prejudice, the fear that “once you let one in, they’ll all want to come”.

Proving conclusively, Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance.

 

No discrimination

Texas police looking for a white man described by several witnesses in connection with the drive-by shooting of 7-year-old Jazzmine Barnes have arrested 20-year-old Eric Black Jr.

Mr Black is… er, black.

 

GW: 2019, and the beast goes on….

Australia: “Adelaide has seen temperatures soar to 41C as SE Australia sweats its way through 36 hours of intense heat. Further inland, Port Augusta touched 44.7C, Ceduna 45.5C and Nullabor 46.2C at 1.40pm. On Friday, Melbourne is set to hit 42C, a ‘once in a decade’ heat event. Several wildfires are being reported. Parts of New South Wales including Sydney are sweltering through day 10 of a heatwave”, although on 2 Jan. the city was battered by an intense hailstorm powerful enough to smash car windows, while strange cloud formations were reported.

‘Mammatus’ cloud over Sydney, 2 Jan. (Dylan Robinson/News Corp)

And then… The “change will be even more dramatic in Melbourne late on Friday afternoon. The 40C Friday will turn into a high of just 22C on Saturday. Melburnians could see a drop of between 15 to 20 degrees in just one hour on Friday afternoon as the cold front careers through.” A wildfire in Tasmania has burned 30 sq miles of forest in a conservation area. Meanwhile “the cyclone season is in full swing in Queensland with Cyclone Penny looking like it will make a handbrake turn and come straight back towards the coast.” (all reporting:  News.com.au)

 

USA: The overnight low in Phoenix, pretty much the hottest city in America, dropped to 30F, -1C on 02 Jan. as Winter Storm Fisher brought up to 6 inches of snow to the Arizona desert. Wintry conditions have since arrived in Texas and Oklahoma, where freezing rain has caused multiple car crashes. The jetstream is reportedly slumped all the way down into New Mexico where up to 3 feet of snow has fallen at altitude near Los Alamos. (The Weather Channel)

Nevertheless, European forecasters Severe-weather.eu are predicting a rapid warming over the whole continental US, with temperatures climbing over the next 7 days to 10 to 15 degrees C above normal for January. Residents of Sanibel Island, Fla. were bemused on 22 Dec. to experience a tidal surge through the town, produced by a ‘meteotsunami’ caused by a rapid change of barometric pressure. “Temperatures dropped by almost 10 degrees in Southwest Florida as barometric pressure momentarily rose by 1.6 millibars. Waves were projected to be about 1.7 feet at 1:30 p.m. but reached 5.04 feet before decreasing rapidly over the next hour.” Wind gusts measured by the National Weather Service spiked at 54 mph as a storm brought heavy rains and tornado warnings to the Naples area. (Naples Daily News)

Philippines: Death toll from floods and landslides inflicted by Tropical Depression Usman is now 105. Almost a quarter of a million people have been affected. “The storm has caused severe damage to agriculture, with costs estimated at over $6.5 million.” Heavy rain that began on the 29th Dec. was still falling on 3rd Jan. (Floodlist)

Sri Lanka: Severe weather from late December has affected over 125,000 people. At least 2 died and 5 were injured. …Strong winds, heavy rain and flash flooding began around 22 December and continued for several days. Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology said 365.1mm (13 in.) of rain fell in Mullaitivu district, in 24 hours to 22 December.

Europe: A cyclonic Bora wind over the Tyrrhenian sea is expected to produce up to half a meter of snow over central Italy and a secondary cyclone forming ove Greece pushing up through the Balkans, may bring as much as 30 cm of rain to parts of Turkey in the next few days, moving on into the Caucasus with heavy snowfall in the mountains. With a developing Sudden Stratospheric Warming event, the polar vortex is splitting, bringing very cold weather down from the Arctic that’s likely to persist. (from The Weather Channel)

Update 5 Jan: Europe faces a deep freeze next week, amid forecasts of a giant snowstorm over large swathes of the continent. The AccuWeather warning system has issued a blizzard alert for areas of Germany and Austria so far. (Express) Up to three feet of snow is expected to affect many Alpine resorts – good for skiers, but only if they can get there!

Update 7 Jan: Over the weekend, 7 dead, ‘several more’ missing as skiers are unable to cope with the extreme conditions. Another 4 ft is expected in Austria by Thursday.

 

End notes

  • “Public opinion polling indicates that although there is widespread acceptance of climate change resulting from human activities, the public’s preparedness to pay for action to mitigate climate change is actually declining – even as climate scientists warn of the increasing urgency for action. These results signal a serious problem in the public communication of climate change.” – Dr Mary Debrett
  • According to Professor Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, and co-researchers in five countries, the trendlines are showing that if we do not act immediately to protect the oceans, the last saltwater fish will die sometime in 2048.
  • A record $3.1m has been paid for a giant bluefin tuna at Tokyo’s new fish market. It was bought by sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs the popular Sushi Zanmai chain. Stocks of Pacific bluefin have been depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels. (from Guardian)

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story… The Demeaning of Life… Christmas is so over!… Another unwanted pres(id)ent… GW: Roasting Matilda. Your New Year edition of the BogPo starts here!

The BogPo and our friends over at The Pumpkin would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2019.

But we just can’t.

 

“Is that you Melanka? It’s Donald Trump here. I’m in some kind of forest, there may be rain. Can you call whoever is my Chief of Staff today to come get me out?”

The Warped and the Woof: a doggy shag story

“Britain’s dogs are becoming less fertile. Researchers who have systematically examined canine sperm over a span of 26 years say that overall sperm quality has been in decline. Environmental chemicals are implicated. And the study may throw light on the fertility changes in male humans.” (BBC Science report)

At one and the same time we are reminded, are we gnotte?, of the futility of existence.

On the one hand, you may say, there are too many people in the world. A decline in fertility, that has been noted – the average human birthrate globally is now only 2.4, not far off the point of non-replacement of populations – possibly due to plastics and their chemical emissions, may be seen as both a good and a bad thing. But worth researching.

On the other, discovering that your fate as an adult, having spent perhaps 20 years in fulltime education to emerge with a Doctorate of Philosophy specializing in biomedical science, is to be employed for 26 years to masturbate dogs and minutely examine the outcome; to know this, is more than a non-scientist can bear.

There surely has to be a higher purpose, as well as a statistical number, to existence.

 

The demeaning of life

And we find it, seemingly, in utter uselessness:

“The crash, at about 10am GMT, caused Amazon customers to complain about not being able to play festive songs, turn on their living room lights or get cooking instructions for Christmas dinner.”

Yes, throughout Europe no-one expanding until the surplus flesh consumed their sofa was able to put on the radio, recognize a light-switch and grasp its primary functions, or stick a fucking turkey in the oven with a fistful of packet stuffing and some cranberries up its arse.

Not without their little virtual assistant, whose circuits had become overloaded owing to the population of Alexas now exceeding that of the entire useless human race, reduced to complete helplessness as this little fucker cheerfully plays ‘We Built This City on Sausage Rolls’, this year’s Number One hit in Britain (yes, thanks to Brexit we have gone collectively crazy), while secretly sending messages back home to the big computer that works out what to sell you next, because you’re so glutted with stuff you no longer know what you want or need or are good for, financially. But that’s okay, here, have some more credit.)

I have tried not sneering at friends and relations who admit, with a little wiggle of shame and some suspicious coloration of the cheeks, that in their innocence and confusion they have already acquired one of these pernicious advertising devices, without realizing that this little tabletop fucker reports every fart, groan of pleasure or expression of disgust for the TV Christmas schedules back to its masters in California, even when it’s off.

But that’s okay, because it’s so useful to have a personal thing that can tell you to take an umbrella out in case those big lumpy gray things up there in the sky might contain water that could fall down and ruin your hair extensions.

You might want to look over on The Guardian website this morning, Boxing Day, and read about Amazon executives collaborating with the US security service in designing new systems for surveillance, and pause for a moment to wonder if there might be a connection?

Amazon and its evil owner, baldy Jeff Bezos, the world’s second-richest 1970s Dr Who villain, have enslaved the workforce everywhere, turning desperate workplace drones into abysmally paid bio-automata strapped to timing and management devices; having to pee in bottles to avoid sanctions for timing-out.

They’re doing the same to you in your home. You think Alexa is the robot? Think again. It’s you.

Already we’ve had the first instance of an Alexa advising its owner to kill his mother-in-law. A survey by NBC TV showed that 20% of Alexa owners ask for advice on boiling an egg.

I’m having none of it, myself. I can switch on my own light, thanks.

When I can afford it.

“We’ve got another one coming in, says he’s the Home Secretary and he’s missed his flight.” (Photo BBC/Lewis Morris)

Christmas is so over!

Speaking of selling us things, isn’t it just excessively aggravating on Boxing Day* to get a continuous trickle of pleading emails from retailers who spent £millions on trying to sell you stuff at bargain prices BEFORE Christmas, still pathetically wheedling the day after that it’s not too late to reconsider your decision not to buy anything from them, now that prices are even more affordable?

I accept that people have to make a living somehow. However, if you have ever visited parts of the world like Cairo or Marrakesh or New Delhi, you will know the misery of being constantly pursued through the bazaar by packs of barefoot street-Arabs with their grimy hands out, pleading for baksheesh; while indigent and portly carpet salesmen grasp at your clothing and try to hustle you into the Stygian gloom of their overstocked emporia, smelling badly of goats.

It’s all just a bit… undignified?

I have a modest proposal: ban all internet advertising on 26 December.

Just calm down, dears. Accept it:

It’s over.

*(for Americans, the day after Happy Holiday was when tradesmen in olden days would go around collecting small gratuities from their regular customers for the staff Christmas Box. It was in the days when shops used to deliv… er…, right.)

 

(Guitar bore alert)

Getting the Lowdown

And talking of dogs, the little cat, Cats, has instantaneously developed a relationship with my new guitar. What is that about?

I wrote a few days ago about how I dropped a chair on my old Taylor. I was being facetious, I didn’t ‘drop’ it exactly, the desk chair tipped over as I stood up painfully to pee (catchup: I pee by painful contraction into a bag attached to my leg, in some ways it’s quite handy) and the guitar was on its stand behind me where I can reach it easily, and the back of the chair… it’s a bit horrible to relate, actually.

Anyway, for some reason the price of guitars has crept up and up in recent years, it’s like the guitar industry is competing to see who can charge the most for a chunk of wood, a stick, some gloss paint and some wires. You’ll be expected to pay six or seven grand even for a solid-body Gibson Les Paul Custom ’59 these days. They only make thousands a year and they still haven’t conquered the neck-straining weight problem.

So I had to pitch the insurance company to cough up £500 more than I paid for the guitar three years ago, as that is the price of a new one today, if you can find one – the world of luthiery moves on. With their blessing, I took the opportunity to upgrade, and paid the difference to acquire at last one of the many guitars of my dreams – a Lowden.

This would be, I thought, a rare and fabulous thing, an instrument made and blessed by the great George Lowden himself – until the shop I bought it from followed yesterday morning’s exciting delivery with an email offering me a choice of 59 more they have in stock, just to remind me of how very not special I am; as if I haven’t spent my life knowing it.

It makes for well over 100 I have now found online

After scouring the internet for one I could afford, I now realize George is in the business of cashing in on his reputation for excellence by flooding the market with mass-manufactured guitars, albeit ‘hand-crafted’, which will undoubtedly affect the resale value should I ever need to sell it – which I usually do as I’m always running out of money.

My appreciation of the fabulous tone and sheer playability of my new Lowden, that are not really in doubt; my desire not to resell it, to hang on to it at all costs, has become sullied by mere commercial considerations. Happy New Year, George.

But Cats has no such apprehensions. Never a lap-cat, the moment I took it from its case and started appreciatively strumming a chord I know, she jumped up on the sofa beside me and tried to get onto my lap, pawing at me with a strange light in her eye. Fearful of another accident, I took the guitar back to its case and lovingly replaced it – it’s still a tight fit.

And since then I find her sitting speculatively on the lid of the case, which for reasons of space is lying flat across the arms of the armchair I never sit in, in the corner behind the door.

It could be the mildly pungent, not unpleasant smell of the new wood, the cedar and the rosewood, the mahogany, the varnish, combining to create a sort of musical catnip, I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, I got up late this morning and there was no sign of Cats, who often breakfasts at several houses across the dangerous road before trotting home to breakfast at hers.

I worry when she isn’t there by the time I’m dressed, she has a magical ability to sense from wherever she is in her world that I’m up and about and ready to feed her, and comes hurtling in through the bathroom window. She has invented a game where she stops on every step going downstairs, and I have to pretend to tread on her squidgily. One day she’ll break my neck; a fitting end, I sometimes think. But not today.

Anyway, coffee made and cooling, after carefully washing my hands I take out the guitar and start to play through the circle of fourths, whatever, and moments later as if by magic Cats appears in the doorway, a little barrel-shaped audience of one. Over in the corner, Hunzi balefully ignores us, the only things standing between him and his morning walk.

Patiently putting the guitar away again, together we go in the kitchen and open another packet of catfood and, as usual, she looks at me pityingly, as if to say, is this muck the best you can do? I get Beluga catviar across the street; and stalks off, tail twitching provocatively.

I guess if I serenade her, she’ll come back to finish it.

Little flirt.

 

And the Lowdown on Persuasion

An article in The Guardian by George Monbiot warning us of the dangers of advertising, as if Vance Packard hadn’t done that fifty years ago, offers a possible explanation for the seeming idiocy of offering me 59 more guitars, many like the one I just spent a barely affordable fortune on the previous day but several seductively planted among them, that cost twice as much.

It’s called ‘FOMO’, Fear Of Missing Out, and it’s a psychological technique designed to plant in my brain the worry that if I weren’t so inadequate I might have done even better, which will linger for months or years until I dissolve into a puddle of angst that my brilliant Lowden guitar is maybe not quite the best thing since hot buttered toast, and round we go again.

But George, that’s half the fun!

 

Oh, shit

Thinking of The Hidden Persuaders, there were two other seminal books warning us of the choppy seas our civilization was heading into, that came out at about the same time in the 1960s and early 70s.

Rachel Carson in Silent Spring drew our attention to the fact that the agrochemical industry was poisoning our world and shredding the web of life. EF Schumacher proposed a theory of Green economics, Small is Beautiful: ‘As if people mattered.’

Totally prescient, spot-on, and we’ve paid no attention whatsoever, and now thanks to neoliberal capitalism and the cult of the shareholder we’re in the shit up to our desperately pleading eyeballs.

 

Another unwanted pres(id)ent

The Pumpkin writes:

Mr Trump and the First Lady, who seems to have had a payrise recently as she no longer looks so miserable whenever she has to be in the same room as her everloving faithful-to-other-women hubby, descended with little notice on a Marine base in Iraq for festive selfies and another astonishing outburst of self-aggrandizement aimed at keeping his dumbfuck voter base happy while Mueller tightens the noose.

Not only did the gurning orange lunatic insist on posing for the White House TV channel with a supposedly clandestine bunch of Navy SEALs, completely uncensored, easily identified by unit and not even pixellated – thanks for the gross breach of normal security protocols, that could get them killed – claiming modestly that only since he became President has IS been defeated, which everyone is trying to tell him it hasn’t been – but he also told the assembled grunts that thanks to his persuasive charm they’d be getting a 10% – no, make it more! – payrise, the first raise they’ll have had in ten years!

Except that according to the fact-checkers they’ve had a payrise averaging 1.8% every year for the past thirty years, and 2.6% voted through already for 2019….

He is totally shameless.

And as he was terrified of leaving the security of the US base (not for himself, you understand, but for the safety of the First Lady – a creature made from sharpened iron nails, unlike ‘President Bone Spurs*) – the Iraqi Prime Minister refused to meet him on the grounds that visiting a US military base at Christmas was not a good look; while various local warlords, unaware of the visit in advance, are hopping up and down, threatening to throw the Yankee imperialists out of their country.

Well done, Donald, you and your gut sure know how to conduct foreign policy.

*As you know, back in the 1970s a chiropodist got him a draft deferment on grounds that he was afflicted with bone spurs on his feet. TYT has just reported, the late doctor’s daughters have confirmed that he had told them many times how Donald’s dad had paid him to make the diagnosis up.)

x

Norman invasion

French toll-roads operator Vinci has bought a controlling stake in Gatwick airport for £2.9 billion, adding to their collection of 46 airports around Europe, from the American investment fund owners, GIP, who appear to have lost on the deal as they’ve spent £2.9 billion over 10 years just on redecorating.

The deal comes as something of a disappointment to your Uncle Bogler, too, who has been suggesting for some time – ever since Boris Johnson as Mayor of London thought of creating an island in the Thames to get round the problem of where to site Heathrow’s third runway –  that Britain could lease a part of the otherwise pretty much useless but temptingly flat Pas de Calais to build another airport for London, only 90 minutes away by Eurostar train.

Too late now. Instead, we have another French company owning a major capital asset in the south of England, and Paris gets its sixth airport. Welcome to post-Brexit Europe.

UB sees too that Vinci owns Lyon St Exupèry, where he had one of the weirdest experiences of his life, having to persuade the staff to call out an engineer at 2 a.m. to free his mobile phone from a charging booth, only to realize with a frisson of horror that his (identical) phone was still in his pocket, and spending the rest of the night hiding under an overpass until his flight was called….

 

The 2019 Pointless Endeavor Award goes to M. Jean-Jacques Savin, a 71-year-old Frenchman and former paratrooper, who has set off in a bid to become the first person to float freely across the Atlantic in a ten-foot wooden barrel.

One off the bucket-list.

 

GW: Roasting Matilda

Australia: A “Christmas heatwave continues to sweep across the country, with a near record-breaking 49C (120F) forecast for Western Australia, and fire danger, health and air quality warnings issued across the nation. By 8.40am on Thursday (20 Dec) Marble Bar had already recorded 43.4C, with the worst of the heat to come. It later hit 49.3C. Temperatures in the south are 10C to 14C higher than average, the bureau said on Wednesday.” (BBC News) “Catastrophic” fire conditions are anticipated as winds pick up.

And who would want to live in…

USA: “Two powerful winter storms were moving across the country Friday, one bringing blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and a second spreading heavy snow from Arizona to the Texas Panhandle. The heaviest snowfall is likely in central and eastern New Mexico, with up to 2 feet in the highest terrain. Strong winds will accompany the snowfall, bringing the possibility of blizzard conditions.” 2 dead.

“In the Southeast, as of late Thursday almost 50 million people were under flood watches. Widespread rainfall, locally heavy at times, will continue to spread north and eastward from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. Flooding and flash flooding will be a threat throughout Friday.

Saturday: Rain and thunderstorms are drenching areas from the northern Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas. Clara, Mississippi, recorded 11.5 inches of rainfall. (The Weather Channel) Six eastern states had their wettest-ever year, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina receiving just on 140 cm, 55 in. Climate change? Meteorologist Bob Henson writes: “…rainfall amounts in some places were larger than anything produced by natural variability in the last hundred-plus years.”

“Severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes were also forecast in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee late Thursday. Storms were also possible for parts of Iowa, western Illinois and northern Missouri. (from USA Today)

“Stanford Earth System Science Professor Noah Diffenbaugh stated that atmospheric conditions for California wildfires are expected to worsen in the future because of the effects of climate change.” Wikipedia concludes: “The 2018 wildfire season (was) the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha).” Human cost: 98 civilians, 6 firefighters. (USA Today)

A report in Scientific American proposes that there have been two civilization-ending ‘megadroughts’ in the West and northern Mexico in the past 1200 years, and the past 19 years suggests that a third is in progress. The region has warmed by 1.5 degrees in the past 120 years and the resulting increase in transpiration means what rainfall there is has less effect in the soil – a classic feedback loop.

The Philippines: “More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines (29 Dec.), with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength. Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday”, triggering landslides. “At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.” (BBC) More than 40 thousand people have been displaced by flooding.

Indonesia: “The death toll from a landslide that crashed into a hilly village on Indonesia’s main island of Java has risen to 15 after rescuers found 6 more bodies buried in the mud on Tuesday.” (Guardian) 30 houses were buried. “Seasonal rains” have triggered dozens of landslips and caused extensive flooding.

Iceland: Against the average daytime temperature at this time of year of 36F, 2C, Reykjavik yesterday was enjoying a balmy 48F, 9C. Many people in parts of Canada are also complaining that it’s still up in the 50s. It’s been mild here in the west of the UK too, under a gray blanket of cloud we haven’t seen the sun since the day before Christmas Eve.

Observing the isobars over the shoulder of the BBC Weather presenter, Louise Lear, as she summarises the prospects for the New Year week ahead, what they are clearly not talking about are the atmospheric rivers streaming up into the Arctic, and the intense lows – three of them – pushing warm water and high waves up past Greenland. What used to be an east>west flow of winds now seems almost permanently south>north; as evidenced by the relentless storm pattern in the eastern US – while a view of the circumpolar jetstream, presented in a voice betraying no alarm or even curiosity, shows it forming huge, lazy southward loops and breaks betokening even greater weather contrasts and stormy arctic conditions for the eastern USA.

Europe: A powerful cyclone is bringing very windy conditions and high waves to Finland and the Baltic states. The storm has been cited as the probable cause of a railway accident in Denmark that killed 6. More significantly, a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming’ event up in the polar region in which temperatures in the  frigid upper atmosphere may rise 60C above normal in a few days is likely to cause a lengthy spell of very cold weather in northern Europe and a warming trend in the Arctic from about the third week in January. (Severe-weather.eu).

And…

Yellowstone: The Steamboat geyser (biggest in the park) – The Blessed Mary Greeley reports eruption number 32 since March, on Christmas Day; crowning an excessively active year. The previous record year saw 29 in 1964; however most years get only two or three and several in the record none at all.

Cartoon of the Year

An unwanted present… We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee… Internetanyahoos… Pal Joey… Head in the sand… GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’… Conservation news.

A Merry Xmas to all our reader.

An unwanted present

Wearing my house slippers, I took some bread out to the bird table for their Xmas brunch and the opportunity to slip a belated card through my neighbour’s door. Feeling a squishy moment underfoot, I looked down and realized that I had stepped in a present her little dog had left in my front garden.

Slightly fuck Christmas.

And a Merry Christmas to everyone. Donald and Ivanka. Melania.

 

Democracy inaction

“This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, without trace.”

“We are the rulers of the Queen’s na-vee” (after G&S)

“When Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing, called on the Government to rethink the ‘bedroom tax’, arguing that it eroded the right to adequate housing, the then housing minister Kris Hopkins labelled her report a ‘misleading Marxist diatribe’.”

The callousness and refusal to face facts of the present government is surely shown in no harsher light than in its mendacious and diffident responses to successive reports by United Nations rapporteurs on the effects of its social policies, that amount to an egregious breach of the basic ‘human rights’ of British citizens to decent treatment and a roof over their heads.

Every international advisory report is projected by ministers as a spiritual attack on British values; every inconvenient expert opinion politicized as the work of ignorant, external enemies – untutored foreigners – bent on undermining ‘our way of life’. But, of course, they also choose to rubbish expert reports from our own institutions as well, when it suits them; flat-out denying what is staring the rest of us in the face. Expediency being the name of the game.

When Professor Philip Alston ended his two-week fact-finding mission in November by accusing the government of inflicting ‘great misery’ on its people with ‘punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous’ policies, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd “used her first appearance following her return to frontline politics last week to attack a UN inquiry into poverty in the UK for its ‘extraordinarily political nature’.”

As if hunger, homelessness, mental illness and a rising suicide rate are fit subjects for political grandstanding. What else is Government for, Ms Rudd, other than reducing its citizens to a state of abject deprivation?

These excerpts are taken from an article on the Open Democracy website today, 12 December, by civil rights lawyer Michael Keller; who points out that, despite our treaty commitments, the UN’s view of what constitutes a proper compact between the State and its citizens is legally unenforceable in the face of an intractable and intransigent administration determined to redistribute wealth to the richest section of society at the cost of its poorest.

As we prepare incompetently to quit the European Union, in breach of our longstanding commitments to our allies and trading partners, and cast off into the big wide world on our own again, the BogPo is reminded of the appalling conditions and brutal regime imposed on sailors of the early 19th century by a lofty and overbearing naval officer class; where even a 12-year-old junior ensign held almost unlimited power over the ordinary able seaman.

Not even the disabled escape. “In 2016 when the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons found that the government was guilty of ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights, the government responded by refuting the committee’s findings and its ‘offensive’ view of disability’.”

What, a view that says disabled people deserve fair treatment? Offensive? This rat-infested, weevil-ridden government, this coffin-ship of benighted fools is intolerably odious. It must be sunk, quickly and without trace.

The problem, according to Keller, is that while other rights are relatively easy to pin down, a generalized ‘socioeconomic’ right to a decent life is nebulous and without legal definition. “While the Government continues to pay lip service to its treaty commitments, any criticism based on socioeconomic rights will be branded ‘too’ ideological or political.”

It all comes down to the conflict between “human rights’ commitment to individual freedom … (and) neoliberalism’s commitment to the market, property rights and suspicion of the State.”

There is nothing that will shame these comfortable and complacent bilge-rats of the neoliberal wing of the Conservative tendency into adopting an even remotely compassionate policy towards the sick, the old, the disabled, the workless, the mentally fragile, the homeless, the refugee and the poor. Every crutch is to be kicked away; every social service bled white; every ‘assessment’ rigged, every minor infraction of the Byzantine rulebook harshly sanctioned, every minority minimised, nothing let to go unprivatized, in favour of the more convenient Protestant work ethic.

These layabouts and scroungers must work, work, work and work yet more for the good of the stockjobbers, the bond traders, the hedge fund managers, the investment bankers, the IFAs, the bent global accountancy firms propping up organized crime, the estate agents and the commodities brokers – the whole money-breathing cartel.

Wheelchairs? Mental health facilities? Meals-on-wheels? Decent, properly run care homes? Schools with roofs, that foster learning? Functioning hospitals and reliable, affordable public transport? Affordable homes and loans?

Fuck ’em.

‘Arbeit macht frei’, as the Germans put it – over the gates of Auschwitz.

Work for your freedom. Or die in the process.

We don’t actually care.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/mickey-keller/in-fight-against-austerity-human-rights-is-not-answer?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c9a0c5f0a-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-2c9a0c5f0a-408090269

 

“And there’s this little switch you flick to turn it on…”

Internetanyahoos

Calling for widespread revenge on a Palestinian who shot dead two Israeli soldiers, the son of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing-down potential corruption charges, has been temporarily banned from Facebook after a series of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posts the social network said broke its rules on hate speech.

This deeply unpleasant, gormless little racist fucker, the overprivileged, overentitled son of the mafia sockpuppet, has been kicked off Facebook – for just 24 hours!

“A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which included hate speech – this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform, as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic. Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screenshot of a removed post and called people to share it – which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again’.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile 1.5 million Palestinians, whose past generations from AD 70 until 1947 were the majority Semitic population of Israel and whose rights are supposedly protected under the founding constitution, continue to barely exist in the blockaded Gaza ghetto, dying from a shortage of medical supplies and economic opportunity.

Not to mention from the frequent punitive Heydrich-inspired* incursions by the overwhelmingly superior Israel military, arrogantly heedless of the charges of war crimes their abuses provoke from an enfeebled UN, that greet their paltry acts of resistance. The United States is complicit in so much hideous brutality.

Personally speaking, I am just sick of this. It began in the year before I was born and still there is no resolution to it. I’m well aware of the history. But it’s none of my business, I’m not Jewish.

Fuck that. I don’t care what names you call me.

Seven THOUSAND Palestinians have been shot and wounded by Israeli border forces in the name of ‘security’, using live ammunition against unarmed teenagers staging mostly peaceful or stone-throwing protests from behind the barbed-wire fences separating them from settler territory – open farmland. More than 200 have been murdered; many seized by Israeli snatch-squads and disappeared into the system. 70 per cent of Under-25s in Gaza are unemployed. The suicide rate is devastating.

Yet far from all of them are supporters of the more belligerent wing of the democratically elected governing party, Hamas; branded for political reasons as a ‘terrorist’ organization..

For some reason, a substantial section of the Israeli population – not all – have decide that the Holocaust did not enhance their claim to humanity.

Palestinians just think they deserve the same chance at life as you do, and prefer not to be blown to bits periodically by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies in Tel Aviv with overwhelming force at their disposal and connections to the Russian mafia, who have learned their brutal politics of repression from Putin in Chechnya and, before him, the Nazis in Poland.

This situation will continue as long as dumbfucks in America go on imagining that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists and the Israeli occupiers the tragic heroes. And that Trump’s admiration for the genocidal C19th president, Andrew Jackson is somehow laudable. I’m afraid just being white doesn’t cut it.

The UN for decades has passed resolution after insouciantly ignored resolution attempting to regularize the situation. But when the crook, Netanyahu can moan about Australia recognizing Israeli West, and not Palestinian East, Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel – something all Christians should be shouting about – as the fatuous and ignorant oaf Trump has done, to please his slimy little plastic son-in-law Kushner and the millennarian Evangelical dumbfucks, a tickle on the wrist from Zuckerberg’s underwhelming ethics department is calculated to do absolutely nothing to halt the ongoing crime against humanity that is the Gaza ghetto.

Sorry, and all that.

*So, here I mentioned Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague”, just once in the aforegoing text, and lo! A documentary film about him has just popped up in the suggestions sidebar on YouTube. Do we think this is just coincidence? Of all the murderous Nazi gauleiters in all the web pages in all the world, he has to walk into mine…

 

Brexit, the Movie…

“Sandra Bullock plays a lone mother with two young children, battling an unseen force which compels you to kill yourself if you see it.” (Guardian Culture review)

 

Pal Joey

I’m most impressed.

For some unaccountable reason, four people in the past 24 hours have been visiting a long-running Page I began Posting about six years ago, cataloguing my jazz CD collection in as much technical detail as I can manage. (I haven’t Posted anything to Pages in a month of Sundays, so how people are attracted to them I don’t understand.)

Even I have trouble finding it, buried away in the mountain of solipsistic verbiage that is The Boglington Post‘s 7-year archive.

But I do try to keep the listings up to date. I have about 400 jazz CDs now, my limited shelf space has run out and they’ve started to occupy boxes on the floor, always a bad sign. As nothing, compared to an astrophysicist I vaguely know, whose entire downstairs floorspace is covered with stacked boxes 3-ft high of his jazz CDs. Then, he’s not living on the State pension.

I seldom even play them, other than the most recent, that might get the odd repeat run-through. The idea was to transfer them to my li’l laptop for portability and convenience, which I was doing steadily until I lost my cool one day and beat it to death with my great clunking fist. They can be annoying, laptops. But the new one has no CD-tray; they’ve gone out of vogue. So I had to start again, but by a more circuitous route, and I’m not bothering – it’s technical.

And in recent months I’ve pretty much stopped ordering CDs, my Kenny Wheeler phase having drawn to a satiated conclusion. I tend nowadays more to browse for my jazz listening pleasure on YouTube, where great variety if no sound quality is to be found.

Until last night when, having discovered the extraordinary pianist Joey Alexander, and listened raptly to him all evening, I flipped and ordered two of his CDs from up the Amazon. Do you know him?

He’s the 15-year-old kid from Bali who turned professional at the age of 10. And, to be honest, I think he was the better player then.

You see, most ‘awesome’ child prodigies on YouTube are the victims of pushy parents or have just superficial talents that can be spun into a short, compelling narrative and promoted to their five minutes of fame as lucrative clickbait. Joey is definitely not one of those ‘X-Factor contestant’, one-shot wonders. No Sir.

Aside from his self-taught mastery of pianistic technique, which is widely acknowledged, his jazz ‘chops’ are such that grown musicians are visibly in awe of him. His improvisational skills, ability to build compelling solos, knowledge of form and structure, maturity of touch and feeling, his exciting chord logic and every other area of his playing – even his unbelievably deep knowledge of the jazz genre – are positively surreal, in a swotty-looking little kid with a lopsided grin and Harry Potter specs.

By 12 he had already been nominated for two Grammy awards, performed by invitation at the White House for the Obamas, given concerts at the Lincoln Centre and at the top festivals around the world. His ridiculously young age – usefully he has unusually large hands for a child – has never seemingly been a barrier to his career. And it is in every sense, a proper musical career.

He has played with many of the stars of the jazz world, who are won over in the first few seconds by his infectious charm, confidence and seemingly instinctive professionalism, whether on stage or in the recording studio, and give their all for him; humbly accepting his musical leadership. They know what they’ve got. People have likened him to Mozart; although his compositions are really nothing compared with the genius of Leipzig, who composed his first symphony at the age of six – the age when Joey first sat down at a piano.

Perhaps the only fly in the ointment will be that, as he grows up – he is 15 now – he will grow into another jazz musician: brilliant, exceptional, even ground-breaking; but nevertheless no longer having the status and curiosity value of a prodigy. The world is often not kind to ex-child prodigies. He will need good and careful management to guide where he goes next.

Who could resist chucking another £25 at his recording company, anyway?

Everything confuses me nowadays. It probably helps to be 10, rather than pushing 70. So much more certainty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTPRr7B4ns “Over the Rainbow” – Joey, age 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1liUart72g “Over the Rainbow” – Later, maybe age 12?

 

Head in the sand

A newly discovered, but already endangered creature with a burrowing habit, resembling a miniature slow worm, has been officially named after Donald Trump.

What the poor thing has done to deserve the name Dermophis donaldtrumpi, The BogPo shudders to think. One can only hope it may survive the coming extinction to evolve into something better.

“The name was chosen by the boss of a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction (in aid of the Rainforest Trust) for the right. The small legless creature was found in Panama and EnviroBuild’s Aidan Bell said its ability to bury its head in the ground matched Donald Trump’s approach to global warming. (Guardian Green Light)

Given that the Abominable No-man just called for a court to investigate the long-running Saturday Night Live TV satire show on grounds he believes it to be a Democrat party-funded plot against him, I doubt he will see the amusing side, or even – as most of us might, however ghastly – be flattered to be immortalised in this way.

Paranoiacs are never satisfied.

 

For a tolerably amusing SNL Cold Open skit on the UK’s most popular Xmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Trump”….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdQl7SxOHek

 

I’m just watching alumni of UCL and Reading University competing in a semifinal round of University Challenge. And wondering how it is that I seem to be able to answer twice as many questions in less time than these now well-paid professionals in their fields? Gven that I never managed to get into a University?

 

GW: ‘I’ve got my hoodie to keep me warm’

India: 120 k/h “Cyclone Phethai, which made landfall on Monday afternoon, caused havoc for the people along the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The cyclone, which was accompanied by strong and gusty winds, has resulted in heavy showers across the state and claimed two lives.” 11,600 people were evacuated as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October. There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal moving northwestward that may pose another threat for southern India.

“One occurrence that seemingly amused people was a strange phenomenon, which locals are calling ‘fish rain’, that happened after the cyclone. A video that has been going viral on social media shows several fishes either dead or thrashing about in the puddles formed after the rains.” (The News Minute/Al Jazeera)

Phethai is the 7th named storm of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the most active since 1992. (The Watchers)

Tropical Cyclone Kenanga is 800 miles SW of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean, and close by is Tropical Cyclone Cilida, that has rapidly intensified from the Invest 92S GW reported two days ago to reach the verge of a rare 150 mph Cat 5. Neither looks like making landfall anywhere soon.

Australia: “A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. “Halifax (near Ingham) received 681mm of rain in 24 hours” – records were broken. Winds reached 170 K/h. One person was drowned. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still re-form offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place.” (BBC/Floodlist)

The town of Woy Woy in New South Wales is trashed by chunks of ice the size of “tennis balls” (BBC) The repair bill for damage caused by the “catastrophic” hailstorm that struck Sydney and other parts of NSW on Thursday is expected to exceed AU $125m. Insurance company stocks plummeted on the news. The Bureau of Meteorology called it the “worst hailstorm in 20 years.” Meanwhile Brisbane is sweltering through a 36 deg. C heatwave. (Guardian)

Thailand: Heavy rain between 16 and 18 December caused flooding in several southern provinces. Local media report that 1 person died and 1 is missing. Flooding and heavy rain affected 377 villages across 17 districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Soldiers and rescue workers carried out evacuations in Muang district. Schools have been closed in affected areas.” (from: Floodlist)

USA: A heavy snowstorm swept through US south-eastern states, killing at least three people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend. One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river. Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region. (BBC)

Another powerful storm hit Seattle on the west coast, bringing several inches of snow and knocking out powr to 300 thousand homes.

A warning of potentially deadly surf has gone out along the entire California coastline and up as far as Washington State, pushed by a succession of powerful storms out in the Pacific. Harbors have been closed. National Weather Service warned breaking wave heights could reach 40 feet, affecting beach parking lots and walkways. It could also lead to beach erosion and damage to coastal structures, the NWS warned. (The Weather Channel)

Wunderground reports, Dr. James Elsner of Florida State University finding an increase in the destructive power of U.S. tornadoes averaging 5.5% per year since 1994. Although annual numbers have remained constant, they’re getting bigger and lasting longer.

Bolivia: “Heavy rain and a severe storm caused serious damage to homes and power supply in the town of Mayaya in La Paz Department on 13 Dec. Parts of Larecaja province saw further heavy rain during the following days. Local media reported  flash floods in Larecaja Province between 17 and 18 December. (Floodlist)

UK: Storm Deirdre brought rain, ice and several inches of snow to the north and parts of Scotland at the weekend, with gale-force winds affecting most of the west coast. Homes were without power in Wales and fallen trees blocked icy roads.

Not much COP

Poland: As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly across the globe, the extended UN COP24 climate conference in the Katowice coal-mining district packed its tents on Sunday, as 10 thousand weary delegates flew home following the signing of a toothless, watered-down commitment by global governments to provide more ‘transparency’ on carbon emissions, in line with the already out-of-date, 3-years-old, ‘1.5 degrees’ Paris accord.

Yellowstone: the Blessed Mary Greeley records that the Steamboat geyser, largest in the park, has erupted for the 31st time this year. In a normal year you might see two or three eruptions. She is also reporting hugely increased groundlift and a large volume of magma getting closer to the surface. Could be an interesting Christmas.

Emissions: Largely ignored by COP delegates and governments alike, methane continues to pour out of the Arctic from the twin sources of thawing permafrost and seabed clathrates. Arctic-News reports levels on 09 Dec. as high as 3050 ppb. The El Niño event identified a few months ago continues to slowly intensify, with sea surface temperature anomalies up to 10C above baseline in the Atlantic. At the South Pole – height of summer – it’s about 10C to 15C warmer today, 19 Dec, than even the warming average over the past 18 years.

Promotions: In a shakeup following the departure of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, under investigation on 17 counts of ethics violations, the department has been handed on to Zinke cronies: Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, who has appointed a former employee of agrichemical giant Monsanto to head the bureau of Fish and Wildlife. The service has already re-permitted the use of a banned bee-killing pesticide, made by….

With coal-industry lobbyist Andrew “sixteen” Wheeler at the helm of the EPA, your Auld Gran is evermore convinced Trump’s presidency is just one gigantic pisstake. He hates America because they laugh at his absurd combover, that he can’t take out in the rain. This is his revenge.

Conservation: A new study by marine biologists at Dalhousie University in Canada reveals that fish are worse off owing to unlicensed trawling inside Europe’s Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) than in the areas outside. “99% of the MPAs had no information on no-take zones … and half had no management plan.”

Meanwhile, Japan has reportedly withdrawn from the International Whaling Convention and proposes to resume unrestricted commercial whaling.

The sooner the human race is extinct, the better.

 

The deaths of small towns… 9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by… Postscriptum: the outcome…Something’s got to give… The Hallelujah Chorus… GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all…It’s all blowing off… Trust us to lead you.

Thought for the Day

“Were I, or anyone, able to somehow get hold of a cosmic vacuum-pump and suck out all the uneventful, blank bits of our lives, like evacuating all the air from a Bell jar; and heat the rest up over a Bunsen burner, how much of a brown powdery residue of achievements and adventures and excitements would be left in the bottom of the tube?”

  • Uncle Bogler

 

“For God’s sake, Boris, come down and stop showing off, the bus has gone!”

The deaths of small towns

(A message to Brexit boobies)

“(Crispin) Odey, one of the most outspoken of the Brexit-backing hedge fund managers, holds a short position in Intu – the owner of shopping malls – that represented £33m worth of shares in the company at the end of last week.

“He also holds a position against struggling department store Debenhams that is worth £5.3m. The firm also appears to be betting that Britons’ appetite for cars will fall … The firm has short positions against Lookers, a large dealership chain, and Auto Trader, the online used-car directory.

“In total, his hedge fund, with headquarters in Mayfair, has taken out £436m worth of declared short positions against British companies, of which nearly £150m are consumer-facing entities.”

Why is the billionaire Mr Odey doing this? Because of the lovely lucrative uncertainty you have brought about by your incurious nonsense. It’s exactly what these money-breathers – and Vladimir Putin – have been hoping for. Hedge funds stand to make billions out of uncertainty in markets.

But before you voted you’d never heard of hedge funds, right? No idea what they do? What ‘shorting’ means? Well, think of an each-way bet on the gee-gees. You hope you’ll win more than you’ll lose, or at least get back some of your stake, if your horse doesn’t come in first. (Generally, the bookies win.)

But just the act of betting enough money against those companies’ shares going up will help to drag them down. That’s when the hedgers cash-in. Hedge fund managers are punters; but they’re also the bookies: the odds are 101% stacked in their favor. That’s why they’re billionaires and you’re not.

That’s why they invested £millions in supporting the Leave campaigns; the lies you fell for. Because disrupting the relationships between trading partners is the ideal way to create uncertainty in the markets.

More….

“At the same time, Marshall Wace, one of the UK’s largest hedge funds with $35bn (£27bn) in assets under management, holds declarable short positions equivalent to just under £1.4bn – more than any other investor in Britain.” (Guardian Business)

You get the idea? They’re betting huge sums of money that more of our high street stores and other British businesses listed on the Stock Exchange will go under as a result of Brexit chaos.  Money you will never see back. Stores you will never see back. Jobs you will never see back. Boarded-up shops – the deaths of small towns.

You think they care?

Meanwhile, clever old George Soros, the everso liberal-minded philanthropist frequently accused of plotting with his Jew friends the Rothschilds to control the world, who in 1992 nearly pulled down the entire British economy on “Black Wednesday” by betting against the pound, is holding a £10 million side-bet that WH Smith, the venerable High Street stationers’ shares will fall.

What do you tragic clowns who voted to leave the relative safety of the European Union because you were miserable and wanted to “send a message” think was the prime mover behind the Leave campaigns: your sovereignty? Your shabby, disempowered, drug-ridden, hopelorn former industrial communities? Ha ha ha. Fooled you.

Well that’s just gone by the board as Theresa May has abrogated the power of Parliament to even vote on the leaving agreement she herself has negotiated, so afraid is she of losing the vote. What now?

More lovely uncertainty. And as stock markets plunge, thanks to the uncertainty created by the greatest disruptor of them all, Santa Trump, hedge funds will be raking it in this Christmas.

So much for your ludicrous, Union flag-waving ‘sovereignty’, you now live in a dictatorship. How many times in history has a promised Parliamentary vote been cancelled because a hopelessly divided Government has no confidence in its ability to win it? …er, possibly at the start of the Civil War? This is a major constitutional crisis you’ve unleashed, in your ignorance.

You poor fucking turkeys have voted to cancel Christmas, for the foreseeable future. But nobody was listening. Chip-chop….

Well, not you personally, BogPo readers, safe here in our cozy filter-bubble, or whatever the current expression is, as outside the anarchic working-class dons its yellow vests and prepares to fight for the hedge fund managers.

I’m preaching to the converted. This message is for those who aren’t reading it:

You’ve been had, and you’re fighting the wrong enemy.

“Any minute now I’m going to take off this latex mask to reveal… Underwoman!”

9.00 am Tuesdays always pass me by

I realized with a start about half an hour ago that today is Tuesday.

Who knew?

Instead of trolling idiots on The Guardian website, in my usual day-long haze of viciously barbed self-righteous indignation punctuated with coffee and mince pies and duty-walks with Hunzi, I should have been a) at an early practice and b) going on to sing carols with my old choir at the old folks’ drop-in center in town.

I’d have missed the early practice anyway as I didn’t get up until gone 10.00, having already forgotten about it, despite receiving a reminder the evening before.

The days go by here, I no longer know what they’re called; they’re all the same.

I had agreed to do those things to help out, and once again failed. I hate myself, I am always doing it, it shows my isolation and that I probably just don’t care enough.

This is a choir I sang with for many years, but which had drifted in a direction of which I disapproved, away from robust World Music to hippy-dippy shit: moons and stars, feminism and futile appeals for peace; Zulu campfire songs, as I call those three-line chants with crunchy harmonies and untranslatable lyrics (repeat until you hyperventilate) that “Natural Voice Practitioners” learn in wimmen-only summer camps then fan-out far and wide to spread the gospel to community choirs made up of doughty veterans of Greenham Common and CND; and never the same stuff two weeks in a row.

It also had begun to irk me considerably, that a “training choir” originally for people who thought they couldn’t sing had so many long-time members who after years still had no confidence, who still had no idea about harmony, who still had no knowledge of basic musical notation and who still held the other sections up endlessly while they giggled and nattered and faffed about, pretending it was all too difficult, oh dear.

Why was I always the only one who would volunteer to take a solo?

Now I have a hospital appointment for next Tuesday, apparently, to have this desperately uncomfortable and inconvenient catheter removed, connecting my bladder directly via my elderly feller to a bag strapped to my leg, that sometimes brings on contractions, and leaks so that I have to wear a nappy.

Over time, my house has begun to smell of a curiously medicalized smell of fresh pee. “Trial Without Catheter”, they’re calling it. TWOC actually has its own printed leaflet. Although I have come to appreciate that not having to dash to the nearest loo or find a handy tree, wetting myself on the way, has been a bit of a boon, this damned tube is always pinching and snatching, sitting is hell, while putting on shoes is a trial….

The tube was inserted in an emergency back in July, but such is the nature of the National Health Service that appointments for anything inessential are often months away. My trial was not until the end of February next year, but this morning the hospital phoned with the offer of a cancellation, so naturally I grabbed it: this damn thing is the main reason I wasn’t going to visit family over Xmas as a 6-hour drive there and back the next day was not going to be pretty.

My worry now is, it’s another Tuesday morning – 9.00 am.

And 9.00 am and Tuesdays always pass me by.

Postscriptum: the outcome

So I made it on the dot for my TWOC (Trial Without Catheter – apparently, it’s a thing). I sat for an hour and nobody came. There was only one other person also waiting; the hospital seemed curiously deserted; the staff well trained to avoid eye contact.

Eventually I approached the receptionist to ask why I was there, and an elderly male charge nurse popped out through a doorway behind Reception, most apologetic, all the operating theatres were full as they had to clear the backlog of delayed surgical cases before the holiday.

But I don’t need an operating theatre! It’s just a simple procedure, a nurse could do it! Yes, but that’s what’s been booked, so that’s what we have to do, and we haven’t got the availability. We’re ever so sorry, can you come back at the end of January?

Since then my widely distributed family whom I am not now going to see at Christmas have been bombarding me with giftwrapped parcels from up the Amazon, so maybe it’s not such a bad outcome after all.

 

Something’s got to give

Do you want the good news, or the bad?

Well, they’re the same. USGS has announced the find of a huge 20-year reserve of oil and gas under the New Mexico desert, stretching across into Texas.

The specter of mile upon mile of nodding derricks intruding on the dramatic upland desertscape is appalling; but inevitable, as the vile Trump administration trumpets America’s noble self-sufficiency and low gas prices forever, while going all-out to drain its resources to the profitable lees as quickly as possible – before the planet burns down.

The only hope is, this is another load of oil-industry bullshit and it’s not as exploitable as they’re pretending. It was probably known about for years already but had been consigned to the 10% of “maybe someday” reserves. The argument for leaving this stuff in the ground is overwhelming; but not as overwhelming as the shareholder greed that will see it exploited by hook or, more realistically, by crook.

Yesterday there was a halfhearted intervention at the UN climate conference in Katowice as the US delegation got up on its hind trotters and began once again preaching the benefits of Trump’s fatuous “clean coal” fantasy. The Polish police have been notably successful in muting protest. It’s estimated, subsidies to the fossil fuel industries will soon run into the trillions of dollars in the effort to keep Exxon-Mobil, Koch industries and all the other ecocidal polluters afloat.

You can try and put a yellow vest on energy taxes, but you’re still paying in a roundabout way through your income tax and – the most regressive of all – VAT. M. Macron has announced a $114 a month raise in minimum wage to assuage the anger of the French “gilets jaunes”, the voices of the disempowered and the disappointed “squeezed middle” of provincial France, but that’s only going to increase the proportion of the tax take that gets passed on to the energy sector; meanwhile, lower fuel prices raising demand.

Something has to give, and soon.

 

Hallelujah chorus

Women in Guatemala are only one vote in parliament away from facing from five to ten years in gaol if they cannot prove in court that their miscarriage was a natural event. Otherwise it will be assumed they have behaved irresponsibly, or have had an illicit abortion.

Same-sex marriage is about to be made illegal, as are civil marriages. Any kind of “promotion” or teaching in schools and even universities on the subjects of homosexuality or gender identity – any lifestyle “incompatible with the human being’s biological and genetic features” – is to be outlawed, and acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ “community” legalized.

The country will also withdraw from any international conventions aimed at protecting the rights of minorities identifying as non-heterosexual or having transitional genders: “We are preventing Guatemala from engaging on any convention on gender diversity, says MP, Elvis Morena, who is pressing for the changes to the constitution.

The vote is currently postponed, owing to wrangling over the budget bill.

What it will effectively do, if passed, is to seal the growing power of the Evangelical Christian churches in Guatemala, where their pernicious form of far-right “Christianity” has been gaining a death grip.

As Diana Cariboni writes on Open Democracy:

“Bill 5272, proposed to ‘protect life and the family’, “is the first bill drafted by the evangelical churches in Guatemala”, said its drafter, Elvis Molina, a lawyer and pastor with the Iglesia Cristiana Visión de Fe (Christian Church Vision of Faith).

“It was introduced in Congress last year as a popular initiative supported by 30,000 signatures, and was immediately endorsed by 22 legislators led by Aníbal Rojas, a member of the evangelical party VIVA (Vision with Values).

“The draft law was then approved by a constitutional committee in Congress and passed two reading sessions on the floor. It’s now just one plenary vote from becoming official legislation.”

Welcome to Evangelical Disneyland.

And consider this: hugely wealthy Evangelical churches and their billionaire fellow-travellers in the US and Russia are bidding to gain the same kind of power over legislatures around the world – in the USA, where poor agnostic Mr Trump is obliged by his Evangelical Vice-President Mike Pence to endure a hand-waving, breast-beating, eye-rolling prayer service every Sunday at the White House, thanking God for extreme corrupt Republicanism – in Africa, especially, where in some countries same-sex relations carry the death penalty; in Russia, where Mr Putin is an enthusiast; and even in Britain, where the sanctimonious, sweaty-fear aroma of US and Russian Evangelism has been detected in the funding of the Brexit “Leave” conspiracy.

You have been warned, these people are vicious, arrogant and dangerous; seeking, in their most extreme manifestations, to impose their own patriarchal version of Sharia on a world reduced to mute, barbaric incomprehension and Biblical subjection to the most atavistic, superstitious belief in the non-existent Sky God and his imaginary Son.

Intolerant, authoritarian, controlling, loveless and fixated on the transfer of wealth from the very poorest to the very richest, this Millennarian death cult is not a version of Christianity recognized by many Christians.

But it’s coming our way.

Alle fuckin’ lujah.

GW: Maybe the weather isn’t over, after all

Indonesia: Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in several provinces of Indonesia, leaving at least 9 people dead. Damaging floods were also reported in West Sumatra. It’s not been a good year. A government spokesman acknowledged that between 01 January and 10 December 2018, there had been 2,374 disaster events across the country. As many as 4,211 people are dead or missing, almost 7,000 injured and 9.95 million people displaced or affected. (Floodlist)

Vietnam: “at least” 2 dead as flooding and landslides have damaged roads and railway lines. Schools have been closed in some areas. Further heavy rain of up to 200mm in 24 hours has been forecast for central areas. (Floodlist).

Cyprus: At least 4 people died when their vehicle was swept away by flooding near the city of Kyrenia on 05 Dec. Damage was also reported in the capital Nicosia and roads and schools have been temporarily closed. The flooding was triggered by heavy rain that has fallen since 04 December. (Floodlist)

 Israel: Heavy rain from Wednesday 05 Dec. caused flooding in several areas, including Tel Aviv, Yavne and Rehovot, where dozens of children had to be rescued from their flooded preschool building. No injuries were reported. (Floodlist)

 UK: The Met Offfice is warning people to stay home and watch old movies tomorrow, Saturday 15 Dec, as unusual freezing rain is expected to make conditions treacherous for Xmas shoppers. Up to 40 cm of snow is expected in the Scottish highlands. Then on Sunday it’s all going to warm up again. (BBC)

 Canada: Flash flooding on 11 Dec. caused severe transport problems in parts of Vancouver. Emergency crews responded to at least 30 flood-related emergencies. Between 30 to 60 mm of rain fell in a few hours in parts of Vancouver. Port Mellon, 35 km NW of Vancouver, recorded 77mm of rain in 24 hours. Heavy snow is forecast for British Columbia.

 USA: Another storm over California and mudslides shut down parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, prompting evacuation orders in wildfire-scarred areas. Severe flooding was reported in the city of Costa Mesa. Downtown LA recorded its highest amount of rain in one day (06 December), 1.9 inches (48mm) beating the previous high of 1.01 inches (25.65mm) set in 1997. Heavy snow forced the closure of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. (Floodlist)

Preliminary research by precipitation expert Dr. Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, has found that the three highest-volume rainfall events in the U.S. in the last 70 years have occurred since 2016. (Wunderground)

 Australia: Destructive “zombie cyclone” Owen with 200 K/h wind gusts is bearing down on the north of Australia with coastal residents being told to brace for the worst if the system reaches Cat 4 today. The “very destructive and severe” cyclone continues to increase in strength as it heads back towards Queensland, promising to deliver a deluge in its wake.

It comes as the southern end of Australia receives record-breaking levels of rain in Victoria and flash flooding with authorities warning “it’s not over yet”. People have had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. 100 motorists are stranded close to the freeway at Wangaratta while the State Emergency Service has received 400 calls for help. (News.com.au

 

 It’s all blowing off

Prof. Paul Beckwith, a renegade Geographer semi-detached from Ottawa University who has devoted his life, his intricate website and Facebook page to explaining climate change issues and interpreting the latest research, has done his own investigations into warnings posted recently by other, less qualified satellite watchers, and confirms

“The unrelenting increase in global levels of atmospheric methane (this autumn – even today) went literally off-the-charts used to display methane for the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS)

“Methane levels were so high that they swamped out the colour scheme used in the map legend, causing saturation in large red blobs with little detail. The colour legend was shifted by 100 ppb to more clearly show the detailed structure of where methane was being emitted

“Methane release in the Arctic from thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost, and from methane clathrates on shallow continental shelves are a huge and ever increasing risk.

Just so you know.

Because the recent, watered-down reports from IPCC and others giving “urgent” warnings that aren’t urgent enough, are mainly concerned with warning governments about CO2 emissions from human industry and don’t emphasise the main danger, from natural methane emissions exacerbated by runaway Arctic warming.

But of increasing concern, are rising methane outputs over the Himalayas – India and China. So far, those very high readings are unexplained.

 Endispeace

Trust us to lead you

Borderline insane, avowed racist and homophobe Senator Steve King of Iowa, returned in all his seedy glory by dumbfuck redneck yippee-ki-oh voters at the midterms, was in a session questioning Google’s high-powered CEO, Sundar Pichai about various conspiracy theories to do with the internet – whatever that is.

In addition to demanding a list of Google employees broken down by religious affiliation, presumably to prove his theory that they are a Godless bunch, the good Senator brandished an iPhone and demanded to know why it was showing his 7-year-old grandaughter his picture.

Google of course has nothing to do with iPhones.

Taken with the Georgia Republican senator who last year expressed the view in a hearing on climate change that sea-level rise is caused by rocks falling into the water, you finally realize, the age of extremely dangerous dumb is upon us.

Many of these clueless, uneducated legislators don’t believe anything that isn’t in the Bible.

And that’s God’s honest truth.

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here… The Boglington Post: a History Lesson…Er, where was I? Oh yes, CO2… Dear Amanda Donaldson… Money to burn?

I keep forgetting to Save these half-finished Posts in Drafts, and out of habit hit the Publish button in my enthusiasm. Sorry for the early publication. Heavily redacted copy, Monday 10 December.

 

Happy Birthday!

Greetings to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 70 today! (Monday, 10 Dec.)

European Court of Justice rules Britain can cancel Brexit. (photo: AP)

Hi everyone, your Uncle Bogler here.

To be honest, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to identify the kinds of tripwire stories we like to explode here on the BogPo, and even more so in The Pumpkin. We have a great record of identifying emerging news and currents in the global matrix before the professionals do, but events are becoming so swirly and the mainstream media is waking up to so many more important trends we’ve been covering for years that we’re finding it hard to make an original contribution. Sometimes, Guardian op-ed writers are only hours behind us.

I’m also finding it tougher to recall words, numbers, dates, historical precedents, people’s names – I waste half my time Googling references, and a lot more time going back to correct mistakes in recent-past Posts. Hell, I’m 70 next year and pissing into a bag. If I’d earned a penny from these coming-up 750 Posts over seven years, I’d be thinking of retiring. But when I read now that a 7-year-old kid is the top YouTuber, with an income of $22 million he gets from reviewing toys, I start to weep into my nappy.

Having said that, the viewing numbers have been increasing a little lately – we’re averaging about 12 a day now, sometimes we have up to 35, which is great, although there are many days when it looks like I’m still the only reader. And it’s less the depressing case now that the only Posts people are looking at are the ‘Comex 2’ and ‘Stately home’ articles I wrote nine years ago. The odd View even pops up for stuff I’m still writing – it’s a dynamic process, nothing is set in stone until I’m bored with (not ‘of’!)  looking at it.

Eschewing Search Engine Optimization (SOE), whatever it is, I’d been looking forward to achieving posthumous fame, and maybe that can still happen. But I’m going to try to discipline myself and Post less, as I have some other projects I’d like to get done before it’s too late. I probably won’t, but if I do, now you know why.

Thanks for Following me, if you still do.

UB

PS Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Granny Weatherwax column might be late as there doesn’t appear to be any unusual weather this week, anywhere. (Although Winter Storm Diego looks promising). Strong evidence there of climate change in action.

 

The Boglington Post: a History Lesson

People often stop me in the street or approach me violently in Mexican restaurants, inquiring who and why this ‘Uncle Bogler’ person is.

Having time on my hands, I explain as follows:

There’s a web thing made of journalism, called The Huffington Post. (I suppose we should start according news blogs italic type, like newspapers.)

At the time The Boglington Post was brought to birth in February 2012 with the aid of one of my then-teenagers, an unlikely millennial now married, in a decent job and with her own house, no thanks to the bankrupt Bank of M&D, The Huffington Post, or HuffPo as it’s familiarly known, was mired in controversy.

The writers had downed quills, loudly moaning that the owner, millionaire Arianna Stassinopoulos-Huffington, was not paying them a solitary bean for their valuable contributions. (She does now.)

One of his better days: BogPo’s Economics editor, Sterling Pound (#longliquidlunch).

And so I came up with the dreadful conceit that The Boglington Post, the ‘BogPo’, was at the heart of a massive empire owned by elderly media-mogul, Sir Thanatossios Boglopoulos; son of a Nicosia hairdresser and shooting partner of the Duke of Edinburgh; a fellow Greek Cypriot exiled abroad.

Not long after, I killed him off. Well, he was 94. By coincidence, it was on the same day Margaret Thatcher passed away, which is probably why you’ve never heard of him. Unfortunately he didn’t benefit from a State funeral, as the Co-Op had run out of money burying the notorious former PM.

Editorship-in-Chief of the BogPo thus passed to his nephew, Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, a German plutocrat and ardent Remainer with a penthouse in Boglington-on-Sea, a superyacht in Boglèry-sur-Mer, and an agreeable schloss outside Boglheim-am-Rhein. As you can tell, this theme was becoming a trifle obsessive, but never mind.

Seeking a day-to-day editor for the paper, Ernst found his halfwitted ‘Uncle Bogler’ lurking by the water cooler and, keeping it in the family, instantly promoted him from the Kiddies Fun Page, where he had labored unsung for years, to the newsroom; which explains some of the curious editorial features you’ll find here within.

Distinguished contributors include heavyweight economics expert, Sterling Pound; Politics editor, Wee Laura Facebook, Portuguese midfield supremo and guest football pundit, Boglinho – and Showbiz Editor, Polly Wood. It’s a fiercesome team of top talent, I’m sure you agree.

Now, carry on. If you must….

 

“…to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense … you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.”

Er, where was I? Oh yes… CO2

“Raised carbon dioxide (CO2) in poorly ventilated workplaces is known to make workers sleepy and slow — a factor in sick building syndrome. Such CO2 levels could affect the entire atmosphere by the end of the century, driven by fossil fuel burning, according to a University College London (UCL) team.” (The Times)

I vaguely heard someone talking about this item on the radio this morning, and thought, hang on, wasn’t there a Chinese study reported a few weeks ago that said pretty much the same thing? That air pollution can knock a year off the educational advantage for the average 60-year-old?

UB: “What is this thing and why is it making strange noises?”

Now, if you Google “CO2 making us dumber” you come up with many pages going back years, of the press reporting on similar research; so clearly there’s an effect somewhere.

Where the story is slowly developing is that earlier studies focused on pollution in closed spaces. A US Psychology professor reported in 2012, for instance, in Psychology Today, on a British study showing that office workers were slower at responding to things in buildings where people smoked.

Which moved me to slowly observe inside the dwindling rational faculty center where I haltingly talk to myself, that nobody has been allowed to smoke in an office building in Britain for about the past thirty years. It had taken rather a long time for this US Psychology professor to absorb what is now long out of date information, but that’s self-explanatory.

And indeed, to judge by the astonishing sight of the Mother of Parliaments degenerating into a terrifying contumely of divided and quarrelsome MPs making absolutely no sense, squabbling over what seems to the rest of us like angels dancing on the head of a pin: backstop this, EFTA that, with Norway++ thrown in, crashing the traditional party divides in their increasingly atomized efforts to resolve the irresolvable issues arising from the UK having voted in its oxygen-deprived befuddlement to leave the European Union, which few of them really want to do, you would have to conclude that there is something about the air in London SW1 that poisons the brain.

Where the research has moved lately is to note that rising CO2 in the atmosphere might be having the same effect outdoors as it does in: sick planet syndrome.

In the mid-18th century, at the dawn of the Age of Steam, so scientists calculate from ice cores, tree rings, muddy lake beds and chicken entrails, in 1750 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 285 parts per million (ppm). In 2018, after 268 years of burning coal, and then oil, the annual average at the 9,000-feet-up Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where this stuff is officially measured, was declared to be 405 ppm, although the daily quotient had recently risen as high as 413 ppm.

The UN climate conference in Katowice, home to Poland’s extensive coal-mining industry, has just been told that, after flatlining for three years in the global economic recession, thanks to burning more coal and driving more cars, average CO2 emissions (it varies from place to place and at different times of year, this is all a matter of informed conjecture) rose by 1.6% in 2017, and will have risen by a further 2.7% in 2018.

Two point seven percent of 405 ppm translates as 10.9 ppm, an astonishing increase; more than three times the annual average rate of increase we have previously experienced since 1750. I’m hoping my brain is so stultified with breathing air that I have miscalculated, but we could be headed for more than 420 ppm by the spring of 2019.

Back in the nineteenth century, scientists worked out that a doubling of the CO2 concentration could lead to an extinction-level 5C of global warming. (This stuff is not new, you see, which confounds the deniers’ irrational attempts to make it go away.) While we are still a long way off that 570 ppm,  nevertheless we should consider that CO2 is not the only ‘greenhouse gas’ out there; methane, water vapor, CO (lethal carbon monoxide), NO2 and SO2 are all increasing, while CO2 is being measured locally as a result of wildfires at concentrations approaching 1,000 ppm.

Not only that, but as CO2 increases, more useful atmospheric gases are being replaced. Like, for instance, oxygen. Oxygen levels in some of our burgeoning megacities are falling to dangerous lows; while one of the effects of rising CO2 is to kill off oxygen producers, like phytoplankton in the oceans, that have absorbed the majority of the warming effect to date.

We are being slowly suffocated; stewing in our own juice.

I seem to remember having mentioned before, that as I walk li’l Hunzi in the exurban space that passes for our local park, I’ve started to feel I’m no longer getting the same nutritional value from the air we breathe, despite being so close to the sea. It’s probably psychosomatic. Age and the nightly fix of Cabernet Sauvignon are clearly factors; but as I write, I find I have trouble keeping a grip on the metatextual narratives behind the stories; as well as losing words, dates and names, I’m rapidly losing the plot.

It’s frustrating. I can no longer follow complex ideas, such as the rapidly changing nature of political discourse; or the instructions for how to operate technical things. It seems that the old tropes of class war, the distinctions of ‘left’ and ‘right’, of capitalism and collectivism, definitions of old-style liberalism, libertarianism and neoliberalism – modern fascism – are entering frightening new dimensions, but I can’t quite put my finger on how, why, when and what are the implications.

Just as I sometimes espy a glimmer of light, it rapidly slips away. My ability to make sense of things, to follow an argument to its logical conclusion is diminished; and I observe, yours is too! Everyone’s is. Alternative truths, moral relativism and holding to two contradictory opinions at the same time are not characteristics unique to Donald J Trump. They are instead, symptoms of increasing cognitive impairment in the human population.

(Sometimes, I have previously commented, it feels like the Earth on its grand sweep through the cosmos has entered a region of space where there is a real “cloud of unknowing”!)*

It may be wilful oversimplification, a need to find firm ground, but I’d say, our deteriorating atmosphere might well be a prime candidate, to go along with the unexplained increase in ADHD and the intellectual (most often sub-intellectual) chaos of internet discourse, where the inchoate and often violent opinions of unlettered and irrational idiots are given equal prominence and weight to the more thoughtful pronouncements of those who study matters from an informational perspective; yet who themselves sometimes seem to be blundering about in a hall of mirrors.

I was going to conclude with an illuminating observation on all this, but no, it’s gone.

Something or other.

*An anonymous medieval Christian work proposing an interesting heresy, a kind of Zen mindfulness: that you should stop looking for God, as he is nowhere to be found and nothing to see, but just BE God.

x

“JK Rowling’s husband has branded his wife’s former personal assistant a ‘liar’ and accused her of ‘stealing from sick and dying children’ amid claims she wrongly spent thousands of pounds on shopping sprees for luxury items.” (Daily Mail)

Dear Amanda Donaldson

May I say how sorry I am for your situation vis à vis the Rowling woman and her husband?

I myself spent nearly seven years ‘in service’, working as general factotum for an absentee businessman and his trophy wife, battling mostly on my own to care for a deserted and decaying C18th-century mansion he’d rashly bought without a structural survey. Wealth is not always proof of intellect.

Some entrepreneurs are what I call ‘water-cooler’ employers. They imagine they can just push the first body they meet in the corridor that doesn’t appear to be doing anything better into a role for which they may be totally unadapted.

Luckily, I’m omniscient and omnicompetent.

Hired as the maintenance man, within weeks there was a change of business plan (he’d done no market research either) and I was told I had to promote and manage the place, described by the local fire chief as a ‘death trap’, virtually singlehandedly as a licensed guest house and wedding venue.

On the maintenance man’s salary.

On-call 24/7, I took no holiday for five years. With no budgets for anything and obliged to pay casual workers illegally in cash I was permanently under suspicion of pocketing the profits (having invested not a penny in the business, living eight thousand miles away, he couldn’t understand why there weren’t any). Because I’d had no option but to use it to feed the guests, he took away my company credit card.

I confess to knocking off the odd bottle of wine he’d paid for while freezing alone on a cold winter’s night in the empty bar when, halfway through the month, under pressure from the Child Support Agency my tiny paycheck would regularly run out; assuming they’d remembered to pay me. I often lived on leftovers from the meals I’d cooked for guests. Nevertheless, I managed to obtain grants and financial concessions that more than covered my salary.

I imagine your problem is probably more the breakdown of trust than the pocket-change Joanna’s husband is meanly trying to extract from you, for what look to me like curiously inflated expense items. I assume she loves him.

And I must express some doubt that all Harry Potter fans are sick and dying, although I should not be surprised. If items of merchandise you allegedly didn’t send out really cost £400 apiece, then I’m wondering who is ripping off the sick and dying children?

The normal procedure in these cases is for the employer just to draw a veil over the affair. Move on. I suppose the moral is, try to work for people with a bit more class.

Chin up!

(This article is an edited version of one that appeared a few Posts ago. UB.)

 

Training program

The answer to Britain’s problems with its dysfunctional, costly privatized railways arrived in my inbox just now, courtesy of the rail booking agency Trainline:

“A new way to travel with us – coaches!”

I’m hoping Transport Minister, Chris Grayling gets the message.

 

Move over, starling

How big are starlings supposed to be? There’s one outside in the garden now, happily pecking away at the large breakfast I’ve compiled, that was supposed to feed the entire bird population for a day. She’s about the size of a decent meal for one.

Two crows – I think of the jackdaw variety – have now arrived and chased her off. They’re a lot bigger, I’ll grant. But this starling, a regular, is absolutely enormous. Am I doing good, if she can barely fly?

Last night I watched as a big cloud of starlings performed their astonishing aerial ballet on the way home from feeding higher up the valley to their roosts under the pier. The town is famous for them.

But I seem to recall winter evenings on which three or four similar sized waves of birds would fly over. In vain, I wait for a second one.

 

Geological News

Yellowstone: Steamboat geyser #30.

 

GW: Normal weather is SO abnormal

USA: The big early winter storm affecting North Carolina and Virginia over the weekend, Storm Diego has produced up to 20 inches of snow cover. Near blizzard conditions are persisting. Half a million homes are without electricity.

 

Money to burn?

An unlikely troop of cavalry may be galloping over the hill to the rescue of the planet.

Unnerved by reports of the urgency with which things must change, investment managers representing some $32 trillion of pension funds and government bonds and your savings and mine have piped up at the Katowice conference, demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a bunch of carbon taxes.

Their warning is in many ways more terrifying than that of the watered-down maunderings of the IPCC last month.

‘Investment firm Schroders said there could be $23tn of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action. This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: “Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world.'” (Guardian)

We should perhaps be mindful of the news that, in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire, that incinerated the entire town of Paradise, Ca.:

“State regulators are taking over Merced Property and Casualty Company because the company can’t pay out all the expected claims from the massive fire. “It completely overwhelmed this company, looking at the number of claims that they would have, and it left them insolvent,” said Nancy Kincaide of the Department of Insurance.” (Sorry, I’ve lost the reference to this report.)

How long before Lloyds of London starts to moan that their Names are feeling the squeeze? (Fuck ’em. See previous Posts re fraudulent trading.) Fires in California this year may have cost $200 billion in insured losses, enough to rake a lot of floor.

Your Old Granny muses that this concerted appeal from the money-breathers will make not a jot of difference to the illiterate posturings of the White House Monster, a creature bought and sold by the geriatric Koch brothers, the Mercers and their filthy co-conspirators.

Although coming from the money industry, maybe something might shift. It’s hard to tell, as increasingly even the superficial research on which the BogPo thrives is being closed off, site by site, through the erection of paywalls, zonal barriers and the abuse of the new European data protection laws to demand access for advertisers, not just displayed on the page but to mine the deeper layers of visitors’ computer systems.

 

RIP Roger ‘roo

“Roger, the beefcake boxing kangaroo who came to fame when a photo of him crushing a metal bucket like a paper cup went viral in 2015, has died at the age of 12. The death of the male kangaroo, who weighed 89kg (14 stone) and stood more than 182cm (6 feet) tall, has sparked an outpouring of grief from his 1.3 million Facebook and Instagram fans.” (Guardian)

Maybe social media isn’t all a total disaster.