Monday, 21 May 2018

By Changing Ourselves we Change the World

“War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living. We precipitate war out of our daily lives; and without a transformation in ourselves, there are bound to be national and racial antagonisms, the childish quarrelling over ideologies, the multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and all the many brutalities that go to create organized murder. Education throughout the world has failed, it has produced mounting destruction and misery. Governments are training the young to be the efficient soldiers and technicians they need; regimentation and prejudice are being cultivated and enforced. Taking these facts into consideration, we have to inquire into the meaning of existence and the significance and purpose of our lives. We have to discover the beneficent ways of creating a new environment; for environment can make the child a brute, an unfeeling specialist, or help him to become a sensitive, intelligent human being. We have to create a world of no government which is radically different, which is not based on nationalism, on ideologies, on force.” — J. Krishnamurti
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Royal Wedding

I am a republican. By that, I mean someone who dislikes the institution of a monarchy. What is a monarchy? What does monarchy represent? Privilege. Privilege is immoral. We see privilege in all walks of life. Privilege is wrong but is perpetuated by the neoliberal society we now live in and have for the last 39 years. If monarchies are to go then so must neoliberalism. Both walk hand in hand with each other.

The mainstream press floods their readership with propaganda, a propaganda that not only supports the monarchy but also spreads insidious myths about 'the other.' The immigrant and the poor. It also maintains having a 'work ethic' as though working for the privileged few is a moral imperative when in fact, when logic and only logic is applied, it is nothing short of the acceptance of the many to a form of slavery.

Many Americans would have us believe that their nation has no working class as all Americans are equal. They most certainly do have a working class and even those they call middle class are nothing more than working class with money. There is no equality in the USA.

Throughout history, capitalism has failed. It failed in 1929 when the Great Depression arrived. The Great Depression was fueled by neoliberalism, by allowing capitalism a free reign. The rich got obscenely rich on the backs of the poor who metaphorically and factually ate shit. When F.D.R, a 'New Dealer,' instigated a controlled capitalism to not so much replace the old method but to rein in the madness of having the machine control the people who manufactured the machine in the first place. This 'New Deal' meant having instead the people control the machine.

The New Deal came on the back of seeing an American society witness the unheard rise of its workers turning Socialist. Unions were formed by the sons of men who would have baulked at the very thought of collectivism. This was because the workers were sick and tired of seeing all their hard work turned into cash that bankrolled their bosses. They collectively rose up and said with one voice - 'No More.' F.D.R had little, in fact no, choice but to create something better. Bingo! The Golden Age of capitalism was born. From 1947 until 1979 productivity increased, businesses made big bucks, the rich got richer but so did the poor. Social needs were met, a fairer society grew out of the past mistakes. In my view this was no where near good enough but it most certainly was better than what we have now.

This wave of State Capitalism, tender at first in its application, made its way to Europe, to Britain where the likes of Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan tempered a nation brainwashed by right-wing ideology into a nation where fairness seemed possible. The NHS and the Welfare State were born.

Stateside, the capitalist propaganda machine went into overdrive. Macarthy pointed the finger of the righteous right who promoted individuality over collectively accusing anyone mildly of the left, be they, Socialist or left-of-centre Democrat, as being Communist. This hogwash saw the likes of John Wayne ride his noble stead over the heads, backs and dreams of caring liberals as the right deliberately defamed and shamed anyone with even a modicum of fairness in their bodies as being less than patriotic. Nationalism's flag was flown high. Patriotism of the nation-state was the epitome, the ideal that cemented the American dream, that made the so-called land of the free available to buckle down to work again for the money-man. The land of the free was free to be fucked up the ass as Hayek's vision was gradually reinstated.

Thatcher then Reagan rode roughshod over principles, over the likes of the Golden Rule as they posited the principle of Avarice over shared wealth. It was a return to the free for all malady that had caused so much hurt, so much pain, not to mention the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War, all over again.

Now we have the marriage of Prince Harry to Megham Markle. Good luck to them I say. To hate anyone, even someone so rich as the Windsors, so privileged as their family is, is wrong. I do not like the institution but cannot find it within me to hate them. The fact they, or the government, or of anyone who works for one or the other, had the homeless brushed off the streets in case the media, the world who were looking on, observe the poor behaving the only way they can when deprived the basic need of having somewhere to live, is obscene. Such an act is disgusting and rightly must be condemned.

But who to blame?

What I do dislike is the way in which the common man doesn't think for him or herself. How they, and they only, are the cause of all this utter nonsense. The common person does not understand the basic principles of democracy. They vote time and again with fear as their motive, a fear created and maintained by the media, by those whose best interests are served best by stirring enough falsehoods into their papers as to fog the minds of the many who purchase their dire diatribes.

We do not need leaders. We do not need authority. We do not need cabinets. What we need is a democracy and to have that the common man needs to understand what is required of them. For if they really want to be free, not the illusion of freedom, that they need to demand a better education, a better knowledge of politics, to drop their opinions and pick up the facts. They are slaves to the wage, slaves to someone else's desires and whilst they remain as such the elite will forever brush aside the likes of riff-raff like us.

I have nothing against there being people richer than me. Wealth is an illusion of happiness. I have nothing against Prince Harry marrying whomever he wants. I have everything against there being the many divisions in society, divisions that are immoral.  But don't go blaming just the monarchy. Blame yourselves.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

At The Movies - Me and Squid - "Jumanji" - "A Wrinkle in Time" - "Finding Your Feet" "Deadpool 2 (next)

Of all the films as written of here, all were seen some months ago. Quite why I didn't write this post at the time I can only guess at. Laziness perhaps? Anyway, whatever the reason I am writing mine and Squid's response to those films and how we felt about them now. The first we saw was "Finding Your Feet."

"Finding Your Feet" is a film that is defined by its audience as much as by the story it tells. Like "Hampstead" of the "Marigold" films or "Somethings Gotta Give" it is about people of a certain age, people of my generation or simply people growing old having loved and lost perhaps or never having found that certain someone finds them in their matures years. Maybe not defined as such as many of those that paid to see the film along with Squid and me (and Squid is after all only 26)  were far younger than any of the characters in the film. However, many were not. 

What I liked about the story is that it offers hope to the likes of me. It offers hope to all those whose first love failed for whatever reason but, as the saying goes,  find that 'love springs eternal.' What I liked about the two central characters, as acted by Imelda Staunton and Timothy Spall, is their ordinariness. Without any deprecating comments about appearance or judgemental statements of either the Mister or the Ms' (hate that nonsensical title) lack of Hollywoodesque good looks, both she and he are exactly the sort of people I see each and every day and very much like myself - average. Average in the roles they play but the performance they give is of the highest standard. Funny at times with echoes that surely resonate with many who have watched the film. Tender, sharp, yet filled with an honest portrayal of the ageing process. Scenes where those who now find themselves a little out-of-step with contemporary fashions and fads seek other sources of staying alive, of having fun.

Sandra Abbott is married to a once high ranking police officer, now retired, who has made it into the House of Lords. Being Lord Abbott means effectively making Sandra Lady Abbott. Coming from a very run-of-the-mill family, her sister lives in a council flat,  this societal elevation means a great deal to Sandra. It is a fact she imparts to anyone who wants to know but also those that don't. She catches her husband kissing her best friend and is horrified to learn the two have been having an affair for years. Leaving husband to wed his paramour, Sandra takes refuge in her sister Bif's flat. This comes as something of a shock as Bif is the mirror opposite of Sandra. Bif is bohemian, unconventional, free-spirited and very outspoken. She serial dates men just for the sheer enjoyment of having sex. No strings attached. 

Then there is Charlie as played by Timothy Spall. Charlie is one of those rare breeds nowadays, one of the fast vanishing Chirpy Cockneys. Spall plays this to perfection. He executes his acerbic one-liners with dry aplomb. Charlie has a wife who is drifting in the uncertain seas of dementia. She seldom recognises her husband and at one point reacts badly to his presence. She is dying but Charlie stays loyal.  The problem begins when Sandra meets Charlie. At first, Sandra is so far up her own self that Charlie is put-off by her pretentious manner but slowly but surely he comes round to her ways as her ways gradually fade from her looking down her nose at the hoi polloi as she recalls she is of the hoi polloi.

Good film. Filled with some very funny moments but also some rather moving ones.

Squid gives it four stars.

A "Wrinkle in Time" had me holding my breath in eager anticipation of seeing it. Sadly, and I seldom write about books, music or films I don't like, but this was a grave disappointment for me. 

Nothing wrong with the cast nor their performances. I found there was far too much CGI. So much so that the effects castrated the script. Originally this story was written with a Christian bias. That was jettisoned in favour of what some call rather strangely in my view -New Age mysticism. There really is very little that is new about the philosophy espoused her as it merges Pantheism with Zen with Tao and a sprinkling of Eckhart Tolle. All of which I approve wholeheartedly of. Somewhere along the line, this wonderful idea folds in on itself as philosophy enters the bottom of a fantasy based sci-fi flick.

Sorry to sound so rude but no matter how good the concept was the delivery failed to meet expectations - my expectations.

Squid gives it three stars. I give it two.

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" Hah. How do you follow Robin Williams film? It was filled with action, adventure, fear, tension and a whole barrel of fun. Well, what you do is do much of the same but this time with a bag full of laughs. Not better laughs but good ones all the same. Oh, yes, before I proceed. This film was released late 2017 but we didn't get to see it until much later.

I laughed. I laughed a lot especially at Jet Black's performance which, seeing as he is an avatar a girl enters to play the querulous role of a female lost without her mobile phone, the ability to send text's but a female rather taken with finding a penis where no penis used to be, well, who wouldn't laugh. When he/she has to take a leak against a rock, turning round to gaze at another male doing same, I found hilarious. All that male etiquette about not looking at another chaps willy when all he/she wants to do is stare long and longingly at said males member.

This film could so easily have flopped into a vaudeville following where Robin Williams film led but it doesn't. It is very funny and yet manages to maintain enough tension to capture the audience's attention throughout.

Four college students, each punished with detention for committing various wrongs find themselves having to de-staple a ton of books ready to go into the recycling bin. The four students are Spencer Gilpin, Anthony "Fridge" Johnson, Bethany Walker and Martha Kaply. As the four set about their onerous task Anthony discovers a long disused video game system. Spencer helps Anthony set up the game. On screen, there are four names to chose from before playing the game. The four students all select one.  Anthony selects Franklin " Mouse" Finbar, a short zoologist, Spencer the tough guy of the troop, the muscular Smolder Bravestone whilst Bethany chooses "Shelly" Oberon thinking Shelly is a girls name when in fact it is a foreshortened variant of Sheldon, a fat, bearded male cartographer. Martha selects the beautiful, martial experts and commando Ruby Roundhouse. Each of the four is then 'sucked' into the game where they find themselves a part of a parallel world filled with life-threatening dangers. 

Okay, not much of a plot you might say but allowing for that it still makes for some great entertainment. All four actors put in some fine playing, notably Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson (who really takes a lot of mickey out of himself,) but also Karen Gillan who remains one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who's companions and who's recent well-chosen parts has seen her taking parts in some major Hollywood films. As Ruby Roundhouse she displays her character as dangerous to mess with but hopeless at playing an alluring female intent of captivating male guards.

We bear witness to a host of animals, from panthers to rhinos, from elephants to hippos, from monkeys to crocodiles as the run over, maul, attack and intimidate the four luckless heroes as they set about winning the game.

Yes, we enjoyed this film. Not sure it is better than the original even if it may have made a bigger hit at the box office but enjoyed we did.

Squid gives it four stars. squid knows best.

And Next...DEADPOOL.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Friday, 18 May 2018

The Nations who Pose the Gravest Threat to World Peace

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A poll taken a little over three years ago has the following Nations as the gravest threat to world peace. Iran and Korea are not among them.

1. United States
As the world's sometimes eager, sometimes reluctant policeman, the United States has long been the target of widespread animosity, It's not surprising then that those polled in some of these areas rated America such a dangerous threat.
The survey showed that America would find it hard to make friends in eastern Europe as well. Even Americans — 13 percent of them — saw their own country as a threat to world peace.
America's protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its vast surveillance program, its use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, its war on terror and its war on drugs are all likely contributing to its peace-less reputation.
2. Pakistan
Coming in a distant second at 8 percent, Pakistan received a boost in the rankings from its neighbor and arch-rival India — home to 15 percent of the world's population.
Indians overwhelmingly selected Pakistan as the biggest threat to world peace, according to the poll.
Pakistan is a nuclear-armed democracy

3. China
Many see China's growing tensions with Japan as a threat to both regional and global peace.
4. Afghanistan
A recently-leaked intel report claims the Taliban and other regional players like Al Qaeda will be back in the saddle by 2017 as the United States winds down years more than a decade of military operations in the country.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog