Home » Ain't life great. » Is what you see what you get – was it ever? Oops, there goes another bank. Enemies of the People. Plus: Granny Weatherwax report – Obituary: Exxon Mobil.

Is what you see what you get – was it ever? Oops, there goes another bank. Enemies of the People. Plus: Granny Weatherwax report – Obituary: Exxon Mobil.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….”

Of which, more later…

 

“That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.”

Is what you see what you get? Was it ever?

Corn flour. Rice flour, Dried potato…

Making nachos? Tortilla maybe? Something Tex-Mex, anyway?

No, just peering more closely for the first time at the tiny-print list of ingredients in a Morrison’s ‘The Best’ yoghurt.

In recent weeks I’ve become semi-addicted to these smaller, 150g pots, as a quick snack you can’t pig on. They have great flavours: I’m hung up on their new Raspberry with Amaretto flavour, which has succeeded my thing for Key Lime Pie. I’m also a big fan of Corsican Lemon, you can taste the Corsican in it (of course he can! Innit?).

But my campaign to get rid of this medicine-ball I am carrying around on my front does not seem to have advanced much, despite the sacrifice for the past whole month of my nightly bottle of Merlot.

Now I know why.

I suppose I asked for it, really. The corn starch, the rice flour, the dried spud, the non-specified ‘flavourings’, the ‘carrot concentrate’, the salt, the dextrose, the ‘mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids’ that go to make up a healthy dairy product.

It’s all part of our increasingly dystopian present, where nothing is what it says it is on the front of the pack.

And in some ways a return to the bad old days, when grocers would adulterate comestibles like flour and sugar with cheaper ingredients or just, basically, stuff to make up extra weight on the scales. That rich, creamy texture, the luxurious mouthfeel of your Black Cherry yoghurt dairy product is entirely due to the addition of flour, mashed potato and fat.

During the war, the second one that is, coffee was rationed pretty well everywhere in Europe, on both sides, and so people of ingenuity started grinding up acorns instead of coffee beans.

It must have become an acquired taste, because after the war (UB personally dates from 1949) the BogPo remembers a filthy brown liquid substance that looked like runny Marmite, sold in bottles and marketed as ‘Camp coffee’.

God knows what it was made from then, but today the good news is you can still buy it! Mister Tesco writes:

“Chicory & Coffee Essence with added sugar. Camp is a firm family favourite as a hot drink when mixed with warm milk. Pack Size: 241ml.

  • Same servings
  • Less mess
  • Easy pour and store
  • Suitable for coffees, cakes & more”

Camp. Accept no substitute.

I’m not sure we have many firm families left nowadays that you can mix with warm milk, but more good news from the comprehensive World of Google, there’s a Camp Coffee Club you can join! “Your one stop shop for delicious recipe inspiration. We’ve got recipes for cakes, bakes, drinks & more, all with one key ingredient …” yes, New Added pathetic marketing bullshit!

But we shouldn’t attack this obvious national treasure of a brand, this democratic institution, this Great British Values coffee substitute made from a bitter salad vegetable with added sugar, in a world where you can buy 250 different delicious single-estate varieties of real ground coffee beans from every continent – albeit a Scottish invention and manufactured north of Hadrian’s wall – for doing so will bring down upon your head the wrath of Dacre, he of The Mail:

Camp coffee forced to change label by the PC brigade

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-404516/Camp-coffee-forced-change-label-PC-brigade.html#ixzz4qVHUTvG8
as I’m sure you will want to, because this is really disgraceful. (It’s also ten years ago. Get over it. Ed.)

See, those dastardly Europeans with their garlic-chewing, sovereignty-swallowing PC police had complained that the label showing a turbanned Sikh provendering a British soldier of the Raj wi’ his nightly cup o’ Camp Coffee made with Warm Milk was RACIST!

“The makers of the chicory-flavoured essence are now using an image of a Scottish soldier sitting side by side drinking coffee with a turbanned Sikh.”

(Nothing about homophobic too.)

I’m not sure whether the objection is based on the original objection, or whether the very idea of a white – more probably ginger – man sitting down to share an unhealthy sugary brew with a brown man in a turban is the problem. I should have thought the image of interracial fellowship would have been a cause for celebration, but apparently not. Certainly not at The Daily Mail, to which all foreigners are anathema. (Or as young people now say, haram.)

As with all Mail headlines, it repays the offended reader to look more closely at the story. In which case, you will read that the makers of Camp were entirely silent on the subject of political correctness: “A spokeswoman for Camp Coffee now owned by the giant McCormick foods group refused to reveal if the race criticism was the reason for the changes in the labels…”

However, it appeared that in a re-run of the Indian Mutiny of 1854, anonymised random ‘Asian shopkeepers’ were refusing to stock the brand, citing Sikh abuse.

Thus an absurd comment from The Central Scotland Racial Equality Council has welcomed the latest updating, claiming that it will “help change the mentality of young people to see how different races now relate.”

Yes, I’m sure all young Scots learn their civics from obscure product labels, especially now the schools have given up teaching the subject, and will change their mentality accordingly. Unless, that is, the Sikhs are playing for the wrong team, or queuing alone for the late-night bus.

To be fair, the list of ingredients does begin with ‘Yoghurt’ (milk). It is also 18 per cent Raspberries; which, as they are even at the height of summer still priced at an unseasonal £2 for about 20 in a plastic tray, flavoured with botrytis mould, represents excellent value; and two per cent Amaretto. So for 65 pence – 2.3 pence a gramme – you’re not getting something that’s completely ersatz; whatever ‘flavourings’ means.

However, as climate change continues to change the climate, and yearly floods and droughts drive avocados and iceberg lettuces from the shelves, keep an eye on those changing labels. Let me know when you come across your first product made with added acorns, that isn’t an actual oak forest.

Because you never know in these changing times, what you’re getting for your money.

 

“…companies need to start paying people properly”

Oops, there goes another bank.

With shades of Northern Rock, the secondary lender Provident Financial has shed 75% of its stock market value overnight as it downgraded its profit forecast from £60 million to a loss of £120 million, following the departure of the nominatively deterministic CEO, Peter Crook.

Optimistically, Mr Crook paid himself – correction, was quite properly remunerated by the committee – £6.3 million last year, while presiding over a major change in the business model of the ‘doorstep lender’, specializing in lending money at high rates of interest to people no-one else would lend to, obviously because they couldn’t pay it back.

Rocky 2? The Great Northern Run.

Less than two years after the gibbering idiots of business welcomed it in to start trading its incredibly overvalued shares on the London stock market, Provident Financial (an oxymoron if ever there was) has withdrawn its proposed dividend to shareholders, who now get nothing.

It remains to be seen if the ailing bank can remain on its feet, as there is no money left at the Treasury for bailing UK banks out to the tune of £1.3 trillion, as they did in 2008. Fortunately the loan book isn’t all that huge, about £500 million. If PF does collapse, other banks will snap that up: bad debt is good news, especially for the hedge funds.

The collapse follows a saga in which the FSA, the Financial Services Authority, expressed concern that PF relied on an army of untrained, commission-only local volunteers to sell its high-priced loans to family, friends and neighbours. As they would have no idea about the rules and regulations, the Authority recommended that PF should switch for safety to a professional salesforce. Instead, they decided in a spirit of 21st century modernity, no doubt egged-on by consultants, to go all-electronic, and the recovery rate of their loans fell off a cliff.

In addition, they’re being investigated over the propriety of a product offering to freeze people’s credit card debts – for a substantial fee, naturally.

It’s probably not the start of another major run on the banks and a new, even worse recession.

Not yet. But it’s a bellwether warning: financiers have got to learn to stop messing with these toxic products.

And companies need to start paying people properly, so they don’t have to fall back on this lethally dangerous money just to make ends meet.

Happy Birthday to Us

The newly-late SciFi author, Brian Aldiss’ readers may recall a short story of his, in which a giant advertising agency decides after a lengthy ‘blue sky’ creative session to mark the 100th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by rolling out the mothballed Enola Gay and repeating the exercise.

Calendar-watchers will no doubt be appreciating the synchronicity of Provident Financial’s precipitous spiral into near-death, coming as it does exactly 10 years to the week since French giant BNP Paribas first put its hand up to ask nervously, where all the money had gone?

 

Granny Weatherwax

Obituary: Exxon Mobil

The New York Times, in a comprehensive study for Environmental Research Letters, has for the first time commissioned a comprehensive analysis of communications issued by and within one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and supply companies over the last 40 YEARS. This is what they have to say to the self-important little ‘look at me, I’m so in-denial’ troll-wankers, bought politicians who don’t give two hoots what happens to your grandchildren as long as they’ve got lots and lots of money, fake scientists and fossil-fools, the Lord Lawsuit liars of the planet:

“Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.

“Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use….” – NYT, 22 Aug.

(Research was funded by Harvard University Faculty Development Funds and by the Rockefeller Family Fund, which also helped finance the reporting by Inside Climate News and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which published its examination of Exxon Mobil with The Los Angeles Times. Top photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters/The Guardian)

Now watch the lawsuits fly!

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/opinion/exxon-climate-change-.html?ref=opinion&wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

19-23 August

USA: Hurricane Harvey intensifying to Category 3 in the Gulf with sustained windspeeds of 115 mph. Thousands evacuating low-lying coastal areas. First major hurricane to make landfall in 11 years.

“An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects “devastating and life-threatening” flash flooding.”

Six inches of rain overnight 21st causes flash-flooding in Kansas City for the second time in two weeks, all-time record river highs. One dead.

India: 2 million displaced by floods in Uttar Pradesh, 72 dead. Rivers reach record highs. Death toll in Bihar rises to 253 since flooding first began after continuous heavy rain from 10 August. Almost 7,000 villages affected, 700 thousand people displaced.

Sierra Leone: 820 people still missing after Regent landslide, near Freetown. What caused it? Nearly 81.3 mm (11-in.) rain fell in 12 hours, 70mm in 7 hours. Weather bureau calls for better planning resilience.

Somalia famine bites. (Keydmedia.net/Google)

Somalia: deaths from starvation being reported by charities struggling to save millions trapped in three-year drought also affecting northern Nigeria. “More than 6 million Somalis — about half the country’s population — are in need of emergency aid, UN says.”

China: Typhoon Hato makes landfall near Macau. 12 confirmed dead, dozens injured, properties damaged by 128 mph gusts. Macau under 3ft of water. “The most powerful typhoon to hit Hong Kong in five years has forced schools and businesses to close, and hundreds of flights to be cancelled.”

Italy: “The incredible moment a car melted … has been captured on camera by a British tourist… The Renault Megane was parked in the coastal town of Caorle in northern Italy, as temperatures hit 37C (99F). ‘We drove past and just couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Bits of the car were literally dripping off on to the road’. The heatwave … has claimed the lives of more than 100 pensioners.”

Croatia: new wildfires raging around the town of Dubci. Wildfires burning also in Republic of Georgia.

  • Please understand: in addition to massive quantities of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from wildfires these are some of the most scenically beautiful parts of the world we are destroying, with terrible loss of wildlife.

Turkey: torrential rain on the 22nd causes violent flash flood in Kuruçasile. Roads, bridges washed away.

Switzerland: 8 people missing after “landslide on Wednesday morning sent mud, rocks and dirt flooding into the village of Bondo, near the Italian border. About 100 people were evacuated…”

UK: Heavy rainfall causes flash flood in Northern Ireland. 120 rescued, roads washed away.

World: hottest places this week include California, Medina (Saudi Arabia), Algeria – all with local temps at 106F (NB in Algeria it’s 20.00, Saudi 22.00, those are evening temps!). Lake Havasu, Arizona 104F, Conceicao Do Araguaia (Brazil), Mauretania at 102F.

  • It’s minus 62F, -52.2C at the Scott-Amundsen base, South Pole, so much for global warming, haha!

Climate and Extreme Weather News #57/ Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Sky News/ Daily Mail/ BBC News/ WX.Now

x

“I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was…”

Without a song…

I was raised on The Great American Songbook, as musicians like to call that vast body of work produced in the 1930s, 40s and 50s in what used to be known as Tin Pan Alley.

My parents being theatricals, they and their frequently gay actor friends had camp tastes in music. It was the beginning of the 12-inch LP age, and we had acquired a smart new radiogram with a six-stack autochange Garrard turntable. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich – later, Barbra Streisand.

I thought later on when I first came out of the closet as a jazz singer that I knew pretty much most of it, that’s still performed, and could recall most of the lyrics, about 70 per cent – and the melodies, about 90 per cent – maybe 60 songs, some of which I endeavour to learn properly these days in order to perform them on the rare occasions, usually in workshop situations, when I get to sing at an audience. (If only I could find a piano player locally who knows the canon and doesn’t want paying!)

Which is why I’m constantly surprised still to be stumbling across songs I’ve never even heard before, that have been around for decades, and everyone else seems to know them and I don’t.

For instance, there’s a beautiful song by Raph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin, from an instantly forgettable film called Rose of the Rancho, starring John Boles and Gladys Swarthout (Who they? Ed.)

The New York Times critic wrote of this 1936 remake of the 1914 Cecil B de Mille silent original: “Gladys Swarthout’s voice can be heard, if you listen carefully, above the groans and bone-creakings of the plot”. The song has fared better. I ‘discovered’ If I Should Lose You only a couple of months ago when I heard a heartstopping instrumental version by Chet Baker on an album of duets with the Canadian pianist Paul Bley, and thought, I’ll bet there are lyrics to that….

My search for them turned up literally dozens of interpretations of the song on YouTube from artists as diverse as Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, Charlie Parker, Sadao Watanabe and even Archie Shepp.

It was an eye-opener. Yet after failing to find anything more than a chord chart on the indefatigable iRealPro app, nor in the vasty reaches of the internet thing, I dug deep into the festering piles of songbooks under the piano and there it was, in the second edition of the first volume of The Real Vocal Book, the green one (the cover’s actually turned blue with age), on page 161.

So now I know it.

I think one of the strangest ‘new’ musicians I’ve stumbled across like this in my ongoing online researches (that usually end with me calling in to the Amazon store and ordering the goddam CD, which is why I’ve had to give up drinking) is ‘Simone’ (Bettancourt de Oliviera), singer, basketball player and Rio club owner.

Simone: Brazilian legend.

I came across her (?) only yesterday while browsing through dozens of versions of another song I’d never heard before, that everyone else apparently is intimately familiar with. This, despite my years of listening to, collecting and singing Brazilian jazz from the 1960s and 70s: The Island (in its English translation – ‘Começar de Novo’ in the original) is seemingly an unbelievably well-known song by the popular singer-songwriter, Ivan Lins.

Simone is incredibly famous in Brazil. She’s made over 32 albums, worked with all the greats of Brazilian music, was described by Quincy Jones as one of the greatest singers in the world (I expect he says that to all the girls), and reportedly once attracted an audience of 150 thousand to a stadium concert. ‘Começar’ is listed as her greatest hit.

Yet as I approach my 68th birthday I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of her, or the song, before. And it’s been recorded by people like (actually there were never any other people like) Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis, Shirley Horn, Patti Austin, Barbra Streisand – and in a smoochily erotic version, by Jane Monheit*. The English lyrics by Marilyn Bergman are almost pornographic, as the song is in fact the theme to a long-running, steamy TV soap-opera detailing the lives and loves of an oil-industry dynasty. (No, it’s not Dynasty. Keep it together.)

And here is Simone too, on YouTube, singing Começar de Novo alongside Lins at the piano. She has a habit, it seems, of kissing all her collaborators daintily on the cheek – look, there she’s doing it again to the great Milton Nascimento, possibly the most unlikely-looking singing star ever, the Brazilian equivalent of Ed Sheeran – the strange thing being, a former national team basketball player, Simone looks to be over six feet tall, she’s got a deeper voice than I have, and I’m a bass-baritone.

Not for nothing, therefore, does one suspect that this glamorous, sequinned Caster Semenya of the music world – middle-of-the-road, heavily orchestrated jazz, I suppose – with (if I may say so in this day and age) a pleasingly well-developed cleavage – well, as it says in the warning note at the top of her fulsome Wikipedia entry, This article has multiple issues.

It’s truly a great song, but the chords look horrendously difficult. I may not be singing it anytime soon.

*People often stop to ask me, what has happened to Jane Monheit? One of the most beautiful voices in jazz, ever; technically accomplished, now 40 Jane seems sadly to have been swallowed up by the plangently-orchestrated, slushy middle-of-the-road commercial end of the industry, guesting on US TV ‘specials’; perhaps understandably, since there’s no money in jazz – while her much commented-upon body dysmorphia problem has rather pushed her out of the limelight. Shame.

x

Enemies of the People

Mr Trump’s latest ‘poor little me’ assault on the enemies of the people, the bad, bad mans in the failing fake news media who hate America and say such nasty lies about him lying about stuff and supporting bad Nazis, some of whom are great people, is fine in my book.

I’m pissed off (again) with the BBC.

If Brexit means that British businesses are going to have to cut deals with the remaining 27 countries of the EU, either collectively or individually, it’s pretty bloody clear, isn’t it, that their exports and activities on the faraway Continent are going to have to come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ is the ultimate arbiter of actions brought inside the EU. Twenty-seven countries seem perfectly happy with that. The 28th isn’t.

That’s us. So we’re leaving.

So let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Nuneaton of – I don’t know, tins of beans. And you sell a tin of beans to a housewife in Latvia, and it’s full of botulism and her kids get sick.

Is some Empire Loyalist lunatic in the failing conspiracy known as Brexit, Peter Bone or John Redwood, some dismal throwback like Rees-Mogg going to stand up red-faced, waving his little Union flag, and shout Shame! Give us back our Sovereignty! when the case finally arrives at the ECJ, rather than the Supreme Court in London?

The best these useless cunts (Conservative and Unionist Neo-Thatcherites) can manage to save the day for their dumbfuck Brexit supporters is to propose that we set up an arbitration service, obviously not a court, somewhere in the middle of the Channel, providing lucrative work for indigent QCs who aren’t judges, no, really not, but who will arbitrate or, as it were, judge with, er, foreign counterparts in disputes involving British poisoned beans in Latvia, cases that have come up through the lower courts in, er, possibly Riga.

In other words, the exact counterpart to the ECJ, which at the moment has British judges on the panel and arbitrates in legal disputes. Only we shan’t be losing control of ‘our laws’, our superior ‘British laws’, that won’t apply in Latvia….

This is all so fucking infantile. Embarrassingly so. Toys out of the pram time. We have perfectly good arrangements already to arbitrate in appelate courts all the way up to the Supreme Court in the UK, just as they may do in Latvia, or in any of the rest of the EU, and only rarely is it necessary to appeal above everyone’s heads to Luxemburg, and the Supreme Court really doesn’t mind, because that’s how courts work and it’s more jobs for the boys and girls.

The only people who mind are the cunts, because they’ve promised the dumbfucks that Britain is going to be Great again, and that means total isolation from the Continent, 26 miles away, and its 450 million garlic-munching foreigners.

So I do rather object to the fatuous questioning by Mr Ed Stourton on The World at One today, in which he repeatedly pressed his ministerial guest to break down and confess that the official government position was now that we would still be ‘subservient’ to the ECJ’s decisions after Brexit,  thwarting the legitimate demands of the British People, was it?

It is as if Britain is, what? So fucking great, so important, so superior, so deserving, so – English, that we simply cannot believe in the necessity of economic and security co-operation with neighbouring countries in a globalizing world unless we make the rules. Christ, it’s so sickening, this barbed-wire British exceptionalism: ‘regaining control of our own laws’, our ‘borders’…. It’s a nonsense, and Brexit memes like: ‘none of the foreign students ever goes home’ have been shown by the Home Office finally releasing accurate figures to be gross lies.

Brexit is a complete fraud, a myth served up like a dish of kippers for the minor myriad of dumbfucks who thought it was all going to be so easy, that they only had to tick a box marked Leave, all the hated foreigners would do exactly that and Britain would immediately be Great again, after years of shameful ‘subservience’ to the inferior species across the water.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And so completely fucking pointless.

 

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