thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from oed.com). This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
SOME CARTOONS


Don't have much time today so just a few cartoons that you may all have seen but that I like anyway...





posted by michael the tubthumper @ 6:09 pm   5 comments
Saturday, November 26, 2005
HE'S CHANGED HIS TUNE A BIT!
I recently came across this....

It's the leaflet that Bliar handed out when he was first trying to be elected as an MP in 1983 and aside from the silliness of the photo there are some interesting things about it.

Lets start with a quote...

"The Tories say there is no new money to create jobs. But they spend billions of pounds each year on dangerous nuclear weapons. They spend billions on keeping people on the dole [for American readers 'the dole' is slang for being on welfare]. They encourage the rich to invest billions abroad each year. This isn't sense - it's insanity"

OK. Lets take this line by line and look at his record in office.

Firstly, when he says 'no new money to create new jobs' he means in the public sector. New Labour are currently making upwards of 50,000 civil servants redundant. There has however, been a rise in public sector jobs since New labour came to power in 1997.

"But they spend billions of pounds each year on dangerous nuclear weapons". Blair is busily setting about making a new generation of Trident (the name for the UK's nuke system) in violation of treaties the UK has signed (the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty). This is likely to cost well in excess of £20 billion. He is also banging the drum for a whole series of new nuclear power stations.

"They spend billions in keeping people on the dole." Unemployment has fallen under New Labour but so has full-time employment. The corporate mantra about a 'flexible' (meaning easily sackable and low-paid) workforce has been chanted by Blair and his cohorts for years. The lower unemployment figures only reflect the fact that more and more people are in part-time work and don't have full-time work and that there is less job security. New Labour are also working hard to keep pay rises down at the moment.

"They encourage the rich to invest billions abroad each year." Hmmm, where do I start with this one? New Labour is neoliberal to its core and at international summits like the G8, in drafting the proposed EU constitution and in trade talks has consistently fought the battle of big business as they free restrictions on the movement of capital and open the third world up for exploitation.

Some of the promises elsewhere on the leaflet....

- A Minimum £25 a week for students (this would be equivalent to about £80 now) - THEY HAVEN'T DONE IT

- We'll phase out health charges - THEY HAVEN'T DONE IT

- We'll Negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC (old name for EU) - OF COURSE NOT

and my personal favourite...

"A more sane defence policy".

Notice that it is to be a more sane defence policy but not actually a sane defence policy. This played itself out a few years later when the then foreign secretary Robin Cook was quoted as saying that from now on it would be an "ethical foreign policy". However, that wasn't what he really said. He said there would be an "ethical dimension" to foreign policy. In other words, ethics will be taken into account but disregarded if there are other concerns.

Taking all this and other things into account I have decided, for the third week running, to award Tony Blair PM (incidentally an angram of Tony Blair PM is I'm Tory plan B) the Thumping the Tub PANTS ON FIRE award


Oh and "This isn't sense, it's insanity".

For once Tony, I agree with you.

posted by michael the tubthumper @ 7:15 pm   8 comments
Thursday, November 24, 2005
BAREFACED

There has been no quantifiable difference in the actions of the Western Powers over the years (particularly in relation to foreign policy) but the way they are going about it is changing. I was talking to a friend the other day and we got to thinking about how much more bare-faced about it they are now than they used to be.

Rather than simply torturing, abusing and wrongly convicting people covertly they are doing it openly in everyone's face. I have always suspected that Guantanamo Bay is more or less an advert in that if they had secret camps then what is the point of having such a high-profile one? Obviously the idea is to breed fear into people. Military Psy-Ops units have said that this was the point of the torture photos from Abu-Ghraib. The idea was to show the photos to other prisoners to get them to confess. This is, I am sure, no consolation to those who were tortured to get the pictures.

It is the openness of the abuses that is the difference - not the abuses themselves. Cheney is going round Washington actively lobbying for torture. This would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago. It would have been done in private.

An argument could be made that this is a good development as it shows these people up for what they are and the public at large will be revolted by such developments and stop it all from happening. Take a look around - that isn't the case - yet.

CIA, MI5 and MI6 officers resigning in disgust and coming out with information is not a new thing but the sheer quantity that are doing it at the moment is telling. There seems to be someone who has resigned whisteblowing almost weekly on Democracy Now! All of them are telling roughly the same story - that instead of policy being fitted to the intelligence the intelligence is being fitted to the policy. Again, this is not new but the sheer bare-facedness of it is.

Domestically is no different. In the UK Blair lost a vote on his new terror laws. In days past the loss of a vote in the House of Commons was enough to get a vote of no confidence in the government. Blair would win such a vote if it was called but there wasn't even a sniff of one. Blair simply said that everyone who disagreed with him was wrong and says he will get the vote the next time round.

In the UK there used to be the doctrine of 'Ministerial Responsibility'. The idea was that if there was a major mistake in any government department then the Minister had to go - even if he/she was not personally responsible. Even if it was mainly for show it did help to provide a minor check on what politicians were up to. Now they never resign unless caught doing things that are genuinely or borderline illegal. Even then they get brought back in another job within a few months. This idea is gone.

In the US some people believe the Valerie Plame case and all the other things that are spinning round add up to being much worse than Watergate. Is there even a hint of contrition? Not a bit of it. Tom Delay's mugshot picturing him grinning from ear to ear gives you an idea...
In mainland Europe, after the French and Dutch people voted 'No' to the proposed EU constitution politicians in both countries just said that they must not have explained themselves properly and the silly people hadn't realised what was in their best interests. Consider Chirac's national address "You have rejected the European constitution by a majority. It is your sovereign decision and I take note of it." Take NOTE of it?!? Shouldn't you be acting on it?

They don't listen to us. They don't listen to their officials. They listen to their friends in commerce and the military. It is getting worse. One should still has to make clear one's outrage but it is probably better to do it to the people around you. If you do it to this set of leaders then all they will change is their spin.

Joe Carpenter...

I've never understood the idea of speaking truth to power. The truth, surely, is that in almost all countries of the world, political and economic systems are designed to benefit only the rich and powerful, at the expense of those with less money and power. This is how the world works, and I see no reason to think that the powerful don't already understand that. After all, they designed it; they maintain it.

Prof. David Miller

I wouldn't want 5 minutes to talk to the G8 leaders. What would be the point? Even a month, politely offering the latest statistics and best analysis of how their policies are destroying humanity and the planet, would be no good. The experience on Iraq, on Africa and on climate change is that the G8 leaders do not listen to wise words. Instead they pursue the interests of big business in its drive to subject everything to the market. Talking is not going to change their minds. So if you have five minutes, and you want to change the world, the most effective thing to do is join the great movements of our time, against war and for global justice.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 10:58 am   11 comments
Sunday, November 20, 2005
POLITICIAN SPEAK TRANSLATED - PART 3
Its difficult even for politicians to keep up with some of the jargon, spin and rhetoric these days so, in order to help, there follows a brief description of some of the more common phrases.

Fiscal Prudence - this is a nicer way of saying that you are going to cut social security spending. Prudent is a nicer word than mean. Ebenezer Scrooge suggested that he was prudent - not mean.

Multiculturalism - respecting the symbols, values and idiosyncrasies of all colours, creeds and religions - provided that is, that they can be co-opted into a neoliberal economic order and packaged in plastic and sold off. If it is not possible to do this then the adherents of whichever ideology it is must be considered to be "depraved opponents of civilisation itself."

Special Relationship - The much-lauded "special relationship" between the US and the UK has many facets to it. At its origin the relationship was that in exchange for bailing Britain out in the First World War the British would agree to American control over much of the war effort. The arrangement continued during the Second World War but this time the Americans insisted upon having some permanent bases on UK soil[1]. Finally, at this well-developed stage the "special relationship" has reached a new phase: everyone has to do what America tells it to, and the British get the special privilege of pretending they were in on the decision beforehand and can therefore contrive to save face.

Standing Shoulder To Shoulder With - this phrase is traditionally used in joint military ventures. To be "standing shoulder to shoulder" with someone means you are backing them up at a time of crisis. How you can back someone up whilst standing beside him or her remains a mystery.

Open Government - technically this means transparency in government. It is no coincidence that nearly all opposition parties promise some sort of freedom of information bill while in opposition then renege on it or produce an extremely watered down version while in government (see the 1999 UK Freedom Of Information Act and compare it to New Labours original proposal while in opposition).

Doublethink - George Orwell described doublethink as "the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in ones head and simultaneously believe in both of them". Therefore you must appear to be sympathetic about lives ruined by poverty and be tough on crime at the same time. You must talk about the evils of despotic governments and yet repatriate people who have escaped from such regimes and accuse them of being "bogus asylum seekers". You must be able to attack people in the name of peace, (in fact, as Orwell said, the policy is "war is peace"). Furthermore, you must believe yourself to be following the will of the public and setting an agenda for it simultaneously.

Frank Exchange Of Views - This term is used where participants in a fight wish to hide the fact that they hate each other and wish to make it appear that at least some communication occurred between them. A more violent variation is "Frank, bordering on direct" which means that someone had to mop up the blood afterwards.

Social Exclusion - This is the polite way of saying poverty. It's a suitably vague political phrase in that is much less of a definite statement to say, "this government has successfully targeted the problem of social exclusion" than it is to say, "this government has successfully targeted poverty". There is room in the first phrase for more obfuscation. The public can identify poverty but social exclusion is a more difficult concept to define therefore its harder for them to disagree with you in a cogent manner.


[1] It is a little known fact that from these bases the Americans can, if they so wish, launch nuclear strikes on other countries from British soil without first consulting the British Prime Minister. This could make Britain the first target for a retaliatory strike even though the British government or people may not have been consulted. Satellites would show that the missile was launched from within the UK.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 10:25 pm   6 comments
Friday, November 18, 2005
ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN

Which do you prefer? The first one or the second one?

"Internet users won't know what they have got till its gone." - Steve Levy

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is under way in Tunisia at the moment. What they want to do about freedom of information is best illustrated by the fact that when Reporters Without Borders secretary general Robert Menard turned up for the conference he was not allowed to get off the Air France plane that he had arrived in.

"Plain clothes Tunisian police officers physically prevented Menard from leaving an Air France plane after it touched down in Tunis on 17 November 2005. One officer told the head of the worldwide press freedom organisation that he had no right to get off the plane since he did not have accreditation for the WSIS.

"Executive director of the WSIS, Charles Geiger, had said in a statement on 16 November that Robert Menard was not welcome at the summit, although his office had given him accreditation."[i]

This summit is highly likely to recommend that more of the Internet be given away to private interests. Open access rules for the Internet are already being tampered with. AOL and other companies want to control access. The FCC has ruled that cable companies are not subject to open access rules so the Internet is being slowly brought under control. It isn't complete yet. Now is the time to fight to keep the net free.

"The telephone network on which the dial-up Internet is based has been a common carrier so anyone could have a website anybody could transmit anything. You could have all kinds of companies competing to provide you with Internet service. Open access is being replaced now by a system of closed access." - Jeff Chester

Reasons that will be given for control of the Internet...
1. Terrorism
2. Spam
3. Identity theft
4. Pornography
5. Convenience and Security

Reasons to think twice about it...
1. Anonymity outlawed and every penny accounted for
2. All transactions taxed
3. All of what you read, see, hear or communicate including where you are is known

Some companies are allegedly already involved in censorship such as Cisco and Secure Computing[ii].

Surprisingly, there was an excellent article in Newsweek about all of this.....

"Lawrence Lessig has been predicting that corporate and regulatory pressures would usurp the open nature of the Net, and now says that he has little reason to retract his pessimism. Lessig understands that restrictive copyright and Homeland Security laws give a legal rationale to "total control," and also knows that it will be sold to the people as a great way to stop thieves, pirates, malicious hackers, spammers and child pornographers.

How could the freedom genie be shoved back into the bottle? Basically, it's part of a huge effort to transform the Net from an arena where anyone can anonymously participate to a sign-in affair where tamperproof "digital certificates" identify who you are. The advantages of such a system are clear: it would eliminate identity theft and enable small, secure electronic "microtransactions," long a dream of Internet commerce pioneers. (Another bonus: arrivederci, unwelcome spam.) A concurrent step would be the adoption of "trusted computing," a system by which not only people but computer programs would be stamped with identifying marks. Those would link with certificates that determine whether programs are uncorrupted and cleared to run on your computer.

The best-known implementation of this scheme is the work in progress at Microsoft known as Next Generation Secure Computing Base (formerly called Palladium). It will be part of Longhorn, the next big Windows version, out in 2006. Intel and AMD are onboard to create special secure chips that would make all computers sold after that point secure. No more viruses! And the addition of "digital rights management" to movies, music and even documents created by individuals (such protections are already built into the recently released version of Microsoft Office) would use the secure system to make sure that no one can access or, potentially, even post anything without permission."[iii]

If you want to try and do something about all this then http://www.eff.org/ is a good place to start.

[i] http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15635
[ii] http://www.emergentchaos.com/archives/001456.html
[iii] http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3606168/
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 3:58 pm   9 comments
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
BANNED
The new anti-terror laws that the UK government have been trying to pass since the London bombings got me thinking. One of them in particular, which is the new law about 'Indirect Incitement' whereby people said to incite terrorist acts can be prosecuted. This is all seems alarmingly vague so lets get some definitions...

Terrorism as defined by the US Department of Defense is "the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

That seems both a reasonable and clear definition. So what does 'Indirect Incitement' constitute?

Hazel Blears the police minister…

"[it] would apply to people who seek to glorify terrorist activity, perhaps by saying: 'It's a marvellous thing that this has happened. These people are martyrs.' " Such comments could be construed "as an endorsement of terrorism".

Asked to define "indirect incitement", she said: "It is very difficult to give examples of this. It would depend on what words were used. Were they an endorsement, were they a glorification? In some cases, the tone of your endorsement might take it into glorification."
The new offence would also apply to both public and private statements, Miss Blears said.[i]

This means a whole host of things will have to banned. One of them is the UK national anthem 'God Save the Queen'. The fourth verse of this song states that...

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush

This song of 'hatred' then is clearly invoking religious power ('Lord Grant that Marshal Wade...') in order to achieve a political aim - hushing sedition - and also to achieve this by violence by crushing 'Rebellious Scots'. If any Englishman attacks a Scot therefore, he could be said to have 'indirectly incited' by this song. Not only will he be arrested but so could anyone else who has sung this. Say goodbye to the national anthem.

Another favoured song down in England (not in Scotland) is 'Jerusalem'. It is often sung at state events and also in Churches up and down the country. It is a song that clearly invokes religious, middle-eastern and violent imagery...

And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land

This song clearly suggests that God is on the side of those wishing violence upon others. It also has defined religious and political/military objectives. If someone goes on holiday to Jerusalem and takes home a souvenir have they been incited by this song to rebuild it in England? This one then, will also have to go.

(some people inciting terrorism)

Other laws are being enacted to deal with so-called 'Radical Clerics'. This should please the Northern Irish Catholic community who have been dealing with a community 'incited' by a radical cleric who holds a seat in the Northern Irish Assembly...Ian Paisley.

Some Ian Paisley quotes...

"I will kill all who get in my way", after a loyalist rally in 1968. He shouted this out at some reporters

During a visit from the Pope, Ian Paisley yelled "I denounce you. Anti-Christ" several times at the European Parliament.

After a Loyalist rally in 1968, Ian Paisely justified outrages by claiming: "Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners"; he also said the massive discrimination in employment and allocation of public housing for Catholics existed because "they breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin".[ii]

Surely then this religious and political leader is fomenting intolerance,violence and hatred and should be subject to arrest under the new laws?

So when the laws come into effect we can expect mass arrests at football matches, rugby matches and churches up and down the country. All those caught on camera singing some of these songs at the remembrance day services will have to be retroactively arrested. The majority of the English public will be imprisoned. Only a few 'rebellious Scots' and ethnic minorities will be left in all of Great Britain and the English public, protected inside their prisons, will be free from all the horrors that Scots, immigrants, Catholics and Muslims always seem to be trying to inflict on them.

[i] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/16/ncleric16.xml
[ii] From http://www.answers.com/

posted by michael the tubthumper @ 12:03 pm   6 comments
Monday, November 14, 2005
BBC = BRITISH BIGOTRY CONFIRMED

Speaking to people from other places around the world about the media always puts me on the spot. People often speak in glowing terms about the BBC as a wonderful and objective commentator. The BBC world service is what most people get and that is slightly different to what we get over here (when I was abroad I had a short wave radio and we would occasionally put World Service on or sometimes Voice of America if we felt we wanted to listen to comedy).

This weekend all the Remembrance Day stuff was on and on the BBC the fawning tributes to power, royalty and orthodoxy were more prevalent than tributes to fallen soldiers.(a fallen soldier)

'Reminders' of how good it is to do one's duty for one's country and answer the call were the theme of the day. Every time it is a royal event we are 'treated' to wall to wall coverage of whatever these inbred reprobates happen to be doing - such as getting married or dying. We didn't hear so much on the BBC about one of the Prince's getting dressed up in a Nazi costume. Or the fact that the Queen Mother invited Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascists to tea. Or that she hated Winston Churchill (well at least I have one thing in common with her) and preferred Neville Chamberlain the Nazi appeaser. Or that one of them actually went off to Nazi Germany and stayed there. I could go on.

When the Queen Mother died it was initially reported that the Queen was not there. Then the story was changed within minutes. I presume that for 'reasons of state' this had to be so.

The BBC is in essence supposed to be editorially independent. However, it has an institutional goal of being an authoritative 'Voice of Britain' figure. There is a debate about whether this goal was self-realised but that is missing the point which is that it has become self-perpetuating. This is why the royal events and parliamentary pageantry are covered so heavily - its to fuel the myth of the unified nation.

It must also not be too critical of the state as, in spite of its supposed editorial independence, the success of the institution that is the BBC depends on the success of the institutions of the British Government. The BBC depends on the government for funding - basically for its life. An unhappy government may refuse to increase the licence fee and choose to suppress the BBC in this manner so the BBC cannot be too disparaging of the British state. The government decides the senior appointments to BBC positions, also; the government can (and usually does) choose to fill the BBC hierarchy with sympathetic appointments. The BBC therefore never - as an editorial line - will take a viewpoint outside the current views of the mainstream parties. To its credit it will give air to some other views but not as its editorial line. It is not in a position to do this. The BBC serves to stabilise the system we currently have in place. Its investigative programmes are never massively damning to the system as a whole, merely to individual errors or policies. This form of episodic news coverage serves to maintain the status quo by examining the individual errors within the context of the British political system whilst never examining the foundations of it.

The reporting of the BBC in relation to Iraq and specifically Fallujah and it's consistent failure to decently report what is happening in Palestine are disgraceful.

The BBC may be better than something like Voice of America or Fox News but frankly, that isn't saying much - it's a bit like Jack the Ripper standing next to Genghis Khan and saying 'Well compared to him I'm ok.'


posted by michael the tubthumper @ 8:52 pm   12 comments
Sunday, November 13, 2005
TURN IT OFF
If the internet is a time-waster (according to Chomsky) then what on earth is TV? Here are some views....

"It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome." - T.S. Eliot

"I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book." - Grouch Marx

"Television: A medium - so called because it is neither rare nor well done." - Ernie Kovacs

Save the best for last. The best film ever made about TV was called Network, and I recommend it to anyone...

"Less than 3 percent of you people read books, less than 15 percent of you read newspapers, because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now there is a whole and entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. The tube is the Gospel, the ultimate Revelation; this tube can make or break Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers, this tube is the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world and woe is us...when one of the largest corporations in the world own the largest propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth? So you listen to me, listen to me. TV is not the truth; TV is an amusement park. TV is a circus, a carnival, a travelling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, singers, dancers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion-tamers and football players - we're in the boredom killing business. So if you want the truth go to your god, go to your guru, go to yourselves because that' the only place you will ever find any real truth. Cos man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear we lie like hell. We'll tell you that Kojak always gets the killer and no one ever gets cancer in Archie Bunkers house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in don't worry, just look at your watch and at the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions man, none of it is true! But you people sit there day after day night after night, all ages, colours, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions that we're spinning here. You are beginning to think that the tube is the reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you, you dress like the tube. You eat like the tube. You raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness - you maniacs. In God's name you people are the real thing - we are the illusion so turn off your TV sets, turn them off now, right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off! - Howard Beale in NETWORK

Want to do something about TV? Try www.whitedot.org
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 1:23 pm   10 comments
Friday, November 11, 2005
BUY NOTHING DAY

Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry merchants,
May ye make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and buy!


Christmas is coming and the Chief Executives are getting fat. The sanitised anaesthatised nonsense is nearly upon us again. I have always felt it would be far more sensible to do things the other way round - be absolutely despicable to each other on Christmas day and then really nice to each other the other 364 days. That would seem to make much more sense.

Anyway, if you want to try and do something about the horrible corporate festival that precedes what may be a nice meal with your family - or indeed, if you want to do something about the horrible corporate festival that is life these days, then you could try and do something for BUY NOTHING DAY.


Buy Nothing Day is the "the self proclaimed festival of frugal living and culture jammers jamboree. It's a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life. Celebrated as a holiday by some, a street party by others - anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!

The challenge is to try simple living for a day, spend time with family and friends, rather than spend money on them. People make a pact with themselves to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!"

There are events in at least 17 countries and if there aren't any in your country then set them up. On the website there are ideas for things you can do to get you started. Follow this link to
find out more www.buynothingday.co.uk

As they say on the website...

"Buy Nothing Day exposes the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. The developed countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth.

As consumers we need to question the products we buy and challenge the companies who produce them. What are the true risks to the environment and developing countries? The argument is broad and deep - while it continues we should be looking for simple solutions - Buy Nothing Day is a good place to start. Of course, Buy Nothing Day isn't about changing your lifestyle for just one day - we want it to be a lasting relationship - maybe a life changing experience?

We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair. The supermarket or shopping mall might offer choice, but this shouldn't be at the cost of the environment or developing countries."

So do something for Buy Nothing Day, or at least, don't buy anything - it might be the best thing you can do for this Christmas.



posted by michael the tubthumper @ 2:36 pm   4 comments
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
ETERNAL BATTLES FOR THE TOOTHLESS MOUTH
In South Asia, if you head up toward the Himalayas you might find a few battles going on. There are separatist movements, Maoists and Royalists and religious groups battling things out with each other. On the other side of the mountains there are the Tibetans and the Chinese. There are also the eternal struggles of the people against the elements in hostile climates with the severe weather in the mountains, or the monsoon, or the heat.

Now there are visible manifestations of all these battles but another battle you will see almost everywhere and in some of the remotest places around the Himalayas is Coca-Cola V Pepsi.

It is incredibly depressing. You walk up some mountain trail, immersed in the beauty of it all and come to a tea shop, most likely a wooden hut with a fridge hooked up to a generator, covered in Coke or Pepsi signs. The advertising budgets for these 2 companies exceed 1 billion dollars. That's more than a lot of countries spend on health and education. Just think what they could do for the world (and even themselves) if they both agreed not to advertise for one year. The spin-offs in terms of good publicity would most likely mean that they could go on rotting people's teeth for years.

What's more, it is often not for the locals as they can't afford to buy it - it is for you. In other words some worthless piece of marketing shit has went up that mountain to ensure that you can't get away from the things you were trying to get away from in the first place. They also now have to do clean up campaigns on Everest (Sagarmatha is it's real name) because of all the shit that Westerners drop on their way up.

It's just another indicator that as well as military and economic dominance the United States also has established cultural dominance. Partly, this has been achieved through the pervasiveness of Hollywood films and the US music industry. For example, in some African countries sales of US hip-hop are higher than those of local acts. This is only part of the story - a lot of the bands are just local imitations of American formats. The same formula, given a local flavour, which is why they sell beer in McDonalds in Germany. As a test I have just flicked through the 5 channels of basic TV we have in the UK. There are American made programmes on 2 of the 5 and George Bush is on the news on one of the others. That is normal for a night of UK television. It's worse if you have cable.

Don't get me wrong, I admire lots of the output of the US. I like some Hollywood films; I like a lot of US music and the occasional TV programme. I also, when hungover, occasionally buy a coke. But it is definitely to the detriment of local bands, artists and producers that the American stuff is prevalent. Everyone else is pushed out. Even the local bands who do make it big can't wait for a chance to have a 'shot at the big timeTM ' in the US.

I don't really know where I am going with this. In short, I just hope that some day, as people have been willing to go all that way to put advertising signs up, someone will be willing to go all that way to take them down again - mango juice and chai are much nicer than Coke. Oh, and Bill Hicks was right...

'By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. Just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root. I don't know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there's no rationalisation for what you do, and you are Satan's little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You're the ruiner of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. "There's gonna be a joke coming..." There's no fucking joke coming, you are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it's the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now.

"You know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar, that's a big dollar, a lot of people are feeling that indignation, we've done research, huge market. He's doing a good thing." Goddammit, I'm not doing that, you scumbags, quit putting a goddamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!'
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 3:58 pm   6 comments
Monday, November 07, 2005
TYPES OF WRITERS AND TYPEWRITERS
I always find reading about Writers' methods and motivations fascinating. In solidarity with my friends from mickey z's website who are attempting to write a novel in one month (see Nanowrimo for details) I would like to go through a couple of my favourites to help them along if they are getting stuck.....

P.G. Wodehouse had a peculiar way of going about his business. He would finish pages of writing on an old typewriter and then stick them on the wall. Pages he felt were not up to standard would be at the bottom and pages nearer to completion would be higher up. If a page was completed to his satisfaction it would be up above the picture rail. He described his life as little more than "sitting in front of the typewriter and cursing a bit."

All of this however, did give us some fantastic moments.....

"Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons."

"Honoria is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a Welterweight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge."

Some of it is almost poetic...

"As a rule, you see, I'm not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps...the clan has a tendency to ignore me."

As an aside, the paranoid times we live in now can be highlighted by looking at one of Wodehouse' habits. Upon finishing a letter or an article he would put in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and throw it out the window onto the street. He assumed that the average person would pick it up and put it in the postbox for him. Not one thing failed to arrive at its destination. Can anyone imagine this happening now?

ORWELL, in his essay Why I Write said "writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

He describes the motivations for writing as

1 - Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one.

2 - Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.

3 - Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

4 - Political purpose -- using the word "political" in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

He also said that "When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ' I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing."

"I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally."

If you are running out of ideas for your novels then DOUGLAS ADAMS had some excellent suggestions on how to get some. He said that he must have been asked a million times where he got his ideas from and came up with some novel answers...

1. He told himself he couldn't have another cup of coffee till he had thought of an idea.
2. He got them from a small mail order company in Iowa.
3. He didn't know

I hope this helps all the Nano people.

Good luck.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 12:58 pm   6 comments
Thursday, November 03, 2005
MONEY IS THE CAUSE OF POVERTY
THE MONEY TRICK

If all the money in the world was divided out equally, it wouldn't do any good! In six months' time it would be all back in the same hands again.'

`Of course,' said everybody.

`But he was saying the other day about money being no good at all!' observed Easton. `Don't you remember he said money was the principal cause of poverty?'

`So it is the principal cause of poverty,' said Owen, who entered at that moment.

`Hooray!' shouted Philpot, `The Professor has arrived and will now proceed to say a few remarks.'

As Owen, sat down in his usual place, Philpot rose solemnly to his feet, and, looking round the company, said: `Gentlemen, with your kind permission, as soon as the Professor has finished dinner he will deliver his well-known lecture, entitled,"Money the Principal Cause of being hard up", proving money isn't any good to anybody. Philpot resumed his seat amid cheers.

`Come on' cried Philpot, putting his hand on Owen's shoulder.`Prove that money is the cause of poverty.'

`It's one thing to say it and another to prove it,' sneered Crass.

`Money IS the real cause of poverty,' said Owen. `Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labours.'

`Prove it,' said Crass.

`All right,' he replied. `I'll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked.'

Owen opened his dinner basket and took from it several slices of bread and placed them in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and, having borrowed the pocket knives they used to cut and eat their dinners with from Easton, Harlow and Philpot, he addressed them as follows:

`These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun.

`Now,' continued Owen, `I am a capitalist; or, rather, I represent the landlord and capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for our present argument how I obtained possession of them, or whether I have any real right to them; the only thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of the necessaries of life are now the property of the Landlord andCapitalist class. I am that class: all these raw materials belong to me.'

`Good enough!' agreed Philpot.

`Now you three represent the Working class: you have nothing - and for my part, although I have all these raw materials, they are of no use to me - what I need is the things that can be made out of these raw materials by Work: but as I am too lazy to work myself, I have invented the Money Trick to make you work FOR me. But first I must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives represent - all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three coins' - taking three from his pocket - `represent my Money Capital.'

`But before we go any further,' said Owen, interrupting himself, `it is most important that you remember that I am not supposed to bemerely "a" capitalist. I represent the whole Capitalist Class. Youare not supposed to be just three workers - you represent the whole Working Class.'

`All right, all right,' said Crass, impatiently.

Owen proceeded to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks. `These represent the things which are produced by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent - a week's work. We will suppose that a week's work is worth - one pound: and we will suppose that each of these coins is a £1.

`Now this is the way the trick works -' Owen now addressed himself to the working classes as represented byPhilpot, Harlow and Easton.

`You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist class I am going to invest all my money in various industries, so as to give you Plenty of Work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week's work is - you must each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each receive your wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce will of course be mine, to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and as soon as you have done a week's work, you shall have your money.'

The Working Classes accordingly set to work, and the Capitalist class sat down and watched them. As soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little blocks to Owen, who placed them on a piece of paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.

`These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can't live without some of these things, but as they belong to me, you will haveto buy them from me: my price for these blocks is - one pound each.'

As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the kind Capitalist's terms. They each bought back and at once consumed one-third of the produce of their labour.The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks, and so the net result of the week's work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of the things produced by the labour of the others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three pounds in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes, Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound's worth of necessaries they had bought with their wages, they were again in precisely the same condition as when they started work - they had nothing.

This process was repeated several times: for each week's work the producers were paid their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pile of wealth continually increased. In a little while - reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound each - he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives depended upon it.

After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their merriment increased when the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound's worth of necessaries to each of his workers,suddenly took their tools - the Machinery of Production - the knives away from them, and informed them that as owing to Over Production all his store-houses were glutted with the necessaries of life, he had decided to close down the works.

`Well, what are we to do now?.'

'That's not my business,' replied the kind-hearted capitalist. `I've paid you your wages, and provided you with Plenty of Work for a longtime past. I have no more work for you to do at present. Come round again in a few months' time and I'll see what I can do for you.' `But what about the necessaries of life?' demanded Harlow. `We must have something to eat.' `Of course you must,' replied the capitalist, affably; `and I shall be very pleased to sell you some.' `But we haven't got any money!'

`Well, you can't expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn't work for me for nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!'

The unemployed looked blankly at each other, but the rest of the crowd only laughed; and then the three unemployed began to abuse the kind-hearted Capitalist, demanding that he should give them some of the necessaries of life that he had piled up in his warehouses, or to be allowed to work and produce some more for their own needs; and even threatened to take some of the things by force if he did not comply with their demands. But the kind-hearted Capitalist told them not to be insolent, and spoke to them about honesty, and said if they were not careful he would have their faces battered in for them by the police, or if necessary he would call out the military and have them shot down like dogs, the same as he had done before at Featherstone and Belfast.

`Of course,' continued the kind-hearted capitalist, `if it were not for foreign competition I should be able to sell these things that you have made, and then I should be able to give you Plenty of Work again:but until I have sold them to somebody or other, or until I have used them myself, you will have to remain idle.'

`Well, this takes the bloody biscuit, don't it?' said Harlow.

ABRIDGED AND ADAPTED FROM 'THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS' By Robert Tressel (1911).
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 3:45 pm   9 comments
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
POLITICIAN SPEAK TRANSLATED - PART 2
This is from the BBC programme 'Yes, Prime Minister' and is the best guide I have seen. Print it off and then sit and watch a politician being interviewed. In almost any interview at least one of these ploys will be used and most often several of them will be used.

Eight Ways to Deal With Difficult Questions

1. Attack the Question. - 'That's a very silly question, how can you justify the use of the words "Above the Law"?'

2. Attack the Questioner. - 'How many years have you spent in government?'

3. Compliment the question. - 'that's a very good question. I'd like to thank you for asking me it. Let me reply by asking you one.'

4. Unloading the question. - Most questions are loaded. They are full of assumptions such as 'A lot of people have said that you consider yourself above the law'. There are two possible replies to such loaded questions:
a) Name Ten
b) Surely in a nation of 60 million people you can find a few people who will say anything no matter how irrelevant, misguided, or ill-informed.'

5. Make it all appear an act. - This approach only works for live TV interviews: 'you know, I've come to the conclusion that I don't agree with what you suggested I should answer when you asked me that question downstairs before the programme began. The real answer is...'

6. Use the time factor. - Most interviews are short of time, especially live 'on air' interviews. Reply: 'That's a very interesting question, and there are nine points I should like to make in answer to it.' The Interviewer will say: 'perhaps you could just make two of them, briefly.' You say: 'No its far too important a question to answer superficially, and if I can't answer it properly I'd rather not trivialise it.'

7. Invoke Secrecy. - 'There's a very full answer to that question, but it involves matters that are being discussed in confidence. I'm sure you wouldn't want me to break a confidence. So I'm afraid I can't answer for another week or two.'

8. Take refuge in a long pointless narrative. - If you can ramble on long enough no one will remember the question and therefore no one can tell if you have answered it or not.

All of these are good ways to deal with difficult questions. If you have nothing to say then say nothing. However, better yet is to have something to say and say it, no matter what they ask you. Pay no attention to the question, make your own statement. If they ask you the same question again, you just say 'that's not the question' or 'I think the more important question is this:' then make another statement of your own. Easy-peasy.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 1:00 pm   6 comments
U.S. MONETARY Cost of the War in Iraq - other people are spending too, and the human cost is much higher
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What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?

Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
See my complete profile

Thumping The Tub Video

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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

  • Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
  • This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie

  • How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
  • This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song

  • What You Like
  • I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.

  • Imperial Measures
  • What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing

  • Gorillas and us
  • I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams

    Recent Thumping
    Older Thumping
    Links

  • spinwatch
  • adbusters
  • internet archive
  • art not oil
  • blairwatch
  • bushflash
  • camcorder guerillas
  • corporate watch
  • campaign for press freedom
  • noam chomsky
  • common dreams
  • counterpunch
  • cost of war
  • david rovics
  • democracy now
  • dissident voice
  • the dossier
  • downing street says
  • etims
  • robert fisk
  • food not bombs
  • global research
  • gmwatch
  • impeach blair
  • indybay video
  • killing hope
  • lobbywatch
  • mediachannel
  • medialens
  • mickey z
  • mixed up records
  • george monbiot
  • mark thomas
  • john pilger
  • radio 4 all
  • schnews
  • snow shoe films
  • sourcewatch
  • tom englehardt
  • ukwatch
  • video activist network
  • howard zinn
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    some of the blogs I look at
    Arse of the month

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    The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..

    NODOBY KNOWS ME
    It's All Gone Scottish

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    A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.

  • The Scottish Patient
  • Kim Ayres
  • Our Scotland
  • average tosser
  • 1820
  • big stick small carrot
  • J. Arthur MacNumpty
  • World of Jack McConnell
  • The Firefox Chronicles
  • Independence 1st
  • Radio Free Scotland
  • Scots and independent
  • Scottish Independence Guide
  • TCOAW
  • Small Nation
  • Inveresk Street Ingrate
  • Radical Glasgow
  • Want to Swot?

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    If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.

  • politics and the english language
  • Beyond Hope
  • the gore exception
  • your tax dollars at work
  • a cultural chernobyl
  • choose life (not trainspotting)
  • shooting an elephant
  • a war crime within a war crime...
  • the menace of liberal scholarship
  • the modern era of law
  • naming the problem
  • the four ages of sand
  • a news revolution has begun
  • come september
  • money is the cause of poverty
  • countering corporate power
  • Other Stuff

    Who links to me?

    For a DotSCOT Domain!

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