Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"Saving has customarily been seen as a "good" principle. However, at the moment, with weakened economies we are being asked to spend more and more money to keep the economy afloat."

I found that in one of the topical lessons at learn.co.uk
Now yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
A man who swears he's not to blame
All day long I hear him shouting so loud
Just crying out that he was framed

I Shall Be Released

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Q: why did the chicken double-cross the road?
A: to get back to where he started and see it as if for the very first time.

Don't ask me what that means, I found it on a scrap of paper when clearing out my room and junk....

Saturday, December 27, 2003

OK OK, it's over.

In fact I have been so tired recently that it was very little problem to sleep through most of it...I last took some leave in August, and since then it has been adrenaline all the way, so when it stopped on the 23rd I just switched off. Sorry about that, everyone (but particularly Julie).

And here we are in the limbo between Christmas and the New Year. Another strange time - sort of ordinary and unusual at the same moment.

I could have sworn we had all done masses of shopping in December, but the Sales kick in immediately, as if we had been 'fasting' from shopping, rather than over-indulging.

Oh dear. Sorry. I obviously still haven't quite finished the rant. Still I'll go back and delete it once the season has gone.

And I am about to score my 2000th hit since I put the page counter in (oh, when was that?) Over 700 visitors. I have no idea how much of the site anyone visits, or what they all make of it, but I still enjoy writing and editing pages myself - as though I was finally getting around to writing a book ( but a lot less strain, and no fear of rejection by a publisher).

Maybe this year I should tear it down and start again....

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

My Norton Antivirus has started randomly deleting emails again. It's a bug that kicked in this summer, forcing me to try re-installing twice, and make other changes - and now it has started again.

So, to anyone who emailed me in the last few days - if you didn't get a reply then I may have lost the email. With any luck the email proxy server is only deleting spam anyway, but it would be nice to be sure.

Hey ho.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Happy Solstice to all sentient beings!


The shopping frenzy continues here - it means I can't even get my coffee easily in a mid-morning 'tea-break' because of the queues. I don't see anyone smiling as they struggle through the shops (the fun comes later, apparently).

I have nothing against a break from work; a time to see (or write/talk to) people we have neglected; a period where we set aside our competitive natures and show 'goodwill to all people' (or all sentient beings (even turkeys), every day - as the Buddhists recommend); a time for small gifts of thoughtfulness.

Personally, I am willing to go through a bit of grief from my questioning the way it is right now - but ONLY because I can imagine it better in the future. 20 years from now, how great it would be if we all had a holiday when we took TIME for each other; gave our disposable income to good causes; genuinely stopped fighting and competing (if only for a few days - armistice/amnesty); spent a little time considering where we came from, and where we are going....

I hope I live to see it (I'd be 77 years old by then).

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I will edit this stuff later - just sitting at the desk in the Buzz cafe (internet access in the library) - taking my quiet moments to surf about, here's Shann Turnbull, demystifying some economic terms:

"Faith by economists and the major political parties in the existing monetary system cannot be supported by analysis. Nor can it be defended by the experiences of small businesses, farmers, Third World debtor nations and the once rapidly growing "Tiger" economies that have suffered a financial "meltdown". The system is imposed upon the world by an intellectually inbred elite of monetary priests who ridicule any who question its operations, while admitting that its operations depends upon confidence.

For religious people, the existing banking and monetary system is the biggest confidence trick perpetuated in the history of civilisation. For non-religious people, it is the second biggest confidence trick, as religion becomes the biggest trick.

Modern money is a confidence trick because money cannot be defined in terms of goods or services, yet it is used in market economies to organise the means of their production and consumption. In other words, an unreal artificial totem controls the real world. All national currencies have become "fiat" money as none can exist without being defined to exist by a government."
Still Andrew Oswald was wrong (or is it just his timing which is wrong?)
The average house now costs four-and-a-half times average income, which isn't far off the 1989 peak - of 5.2 times - that precipitated the massive crash of the early nineties.
At the same time, consumer spending has risen at an annual rate of 4% over the past two years - twice as fast as the economy as a whole.

In the second quarter of this year alone, we have withdrawn £10 billion of equity from our homes and used the money top buy cars, go on holiday or purchase designer wardrobes. "

"Many institutions are ready to lend up to six times a person's salary with, for the first couple of years, a sizeable rate discount. In addition they will allow you to pay them back over up to fifty years: so a £200,000 loan, for example, can be your's for as little as £648 a month.

The logic, apparently is that in a few years, most people will be better off and therefore, when the discounts end and the payments inevitably go up, the increase won't be too painful to bear.

The reality is that in a low inflation economy, wages don't rise quickly, and in a couple of years, most people will not be earning significantly more than they are now. But they'll be saddled with a huge increase in their outgoings. Many simply won't be able to pay, repossessions will start and the market will disintegrate. "

Michael Eboda on the BBC

Quotes like this just remind me of the madness. I was always in an underclass of my own (starving artist), so I never owned a car or house, and with a low level self-employed lifestyle I had no credit either, as I stumbled from contract to contract.

So, even though I now have a steady little job (paid £14,500 and taking home £11,500 after tax) I can't even CONSIDER the world around me as welcoming:

"To afford a £160,000 house, a buyer would have to earn £41,500 a year and after putting down a 10% deposit the monthly repayments on a £144,000 mortgage are £884.28. The average wage is £25,000 a year."

Or check out the Rockall Times satire.

The Guardian : 'We calculate that even with a 10 per cent deposit, more than 50 per cent of the working population would now be unable to borrow enough to buy a typical first-time buyer property.'

Friday, December 19, 2003

[Sunday] sorry I droppped this bit of free-floating text in here, without giving it a reference - and as I have now forgotten where I saw it I'll just point to housepricecrash.co.uk

and their page "will there be a housing price crash?"

It's just such a bubble, a confidence trick, and (like the stock exchange) it is crucial to talk it up (i.e. kid yourself and others like a gambling addict) - and not even think about the possibility of losing. Even writing this I am slightly undermining confidence - and people get angry and threatened to even think about it.

"But the IMF estimates growth of just 2.5 per cent in 2005 whereas the Chancellor expects it to be between three per cent and 3.5 per cent.

The IMF is also calling for higher interest rates in the near future to cool down the housing market and consumer borrowing.

However it does warn that the Bank of England will have to be careful in case such a move would cause a house price crash.

It said the risk was not great but could not be discounted altogether.

It said that with so many households in the UK up to their neck in debt, the management of any interest rate increases would be a "particular challenge". "
RESOLUTELY UNAMBITIOUS MAN - see earlier posting about Tim Kassar's research on Tuesday 16th

"people who are primarily motivated by ‘materialism’, which in this case means the pursuit of power, status and wealth, are (rather gratifyingly!) much more likely to be unhappy in almost every respect, including being less healthy”, than those who remain resolutely unambitious. "

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Searching under Tim Kassar's book title led to this review site: and this

And that one pointed to recordings of Alan Watts here

And these quotes comes from this review:

"He agrees with humanist and existential thinkers such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Erich Fromm that people’s well being has relatively very little to do with their possessions, beyond sufficient food, shelter and clothing necessary for their continued existence. Kasser debunks the myth that money and possessions will make people happy and argues that beyond the point of ensuring adequate food, shelter and clothing for survival, material possessions do not contribute significantly to the well being of human beings. "

"Kasser argues persuasively that to have high quality life, people must have their needs satisfied. He identifies four needs that are necessary for human survival, growth, and optimal functioning. These are: 1) safety, security and sustenance - the human desire to remain alive and avoidance of early death; 2) competence, efficacy, and self esteem - the human desire to demonstrate inherent positive attributes in oneself that propels one to accomplish one’s missions, goals and objectives; 3) connectedness - the human desire for intimacy and closeness with other humans - the desire for belonging; and 4) autonomy and authenticity - a desire for freedom to act on one’s own and to have a feeling that one is self directed. "
My first attempt to trace Tim Kassar (see previous entry) found a page about self-storage units by Victoria Clayton in The States - about people hoarding, and being unable to let go of their possessions - with some passing references to 'collectors' that may be relevant to my involvement with the 'autograph world'.

"Some say the self-storage boom parallels the widespread erosion of our sense of well-being. “When people are under stress and trauma, at least in our culture, the last thing they want to do is get rid of their stuff,” says Tim Kassar, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and author of “The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002). “their stuff provides that sort of security blanket and also a sense of identity, for better or worse. Mostly for worse, from my viewpoint.”

Kassar and other researchers have found that there are four basic psychological needs we must satisfy in order to be happy, and they have little to do with anything that can be pasted down or warehoused in a 10-by-10 storage unit: security, community, competence and free will. He compares America’s bloated self-storage facilities to the alarming epidemic of obesity.

“The food pyramid says, basically, you need to eat a lot of grains and fruits and vegetables, and that you should use fats and oils sparingly,” Kassar says. “Really, what we most need to value and concentrate on in our lives is growing as people, feeling connected to other people, feeling connected to our community. Those are the grains and fruits and vegetables of life in terms of providing us with health.” Just as the supersized American diet has left many of us chronically overweight, he says, materialism has led us to that moment of clarity when we realize, perhaps too late, that we’re uncomfortably full."
It's always nice to find confirmation of one's own beliefs. I have long thought people were making themselves miserable by adopting the ambitious, competitive, restlessly dissatisfied, extravert American capitalist culture, and this month's Green Futures has articles on just that theme.

“A lot of mental health problems stem from the rise of the individualist, aspirational culture. This means we’re defining ourselves increasingly through external things – what we do, what we own, how much we earn – and through other people. We’re forever comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves wanting.” Oliver James

"This is just a small part of the picture. On a much wider canvas, argues James, the dominant values of Western society are almost literally programming us to be unhappy. He quotes a fascinating piece of work by American psychologist Tim Kassar. “It showed that people who are primarily motivated by ‘materialism’, which in this case means the pursuit of power, status and wealth, are (rather gratifyingly!) much more likely to be unhappy in almost every respect, including being less healthy”, than those who remain resolutely unambitious. [toby: hooray for our side, I have always been resolutely unambitious]It wasn’t just a one-off experiment, James stresses: Kassar reviewed a whole series of studies. “It’s an extraordinary body of evidence. It’s scientifically solid; well-replicated – and hardly ever talked about.” So living in a way that is bad for the planet is, reassuringly, pretty lousy for us as well? “Exactly.”"

In my recent tidying up I came across the address for the web presence of my nephew Duncan Dacombe - which is (at the moment) mostly party photos, but you can glimpse the rest of the family there - my sister Julia and my nieces.

I have added that link to the bottom of my 'family' page (which I will update and tidy at some point).

Monday, December 15, 2003

As I sort out the mass of paper I surround myself with, I am trying to clear some out. I inherited a whole trunk full of Mick's papers, and although I have made several attempts to finish his book for him (and then throw away the piles of paper), I never quite finished the project.

Anyway - I have put up an Intro I wrote for one of the three fragments I have released to friends in limited editions - and tagged on a couple of pictures.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I have been sorting through the thousands of pieces of paper that fill my room. Some of this stuff I will get into electronic form (and will never have to tumble out of a house clutching a precious box of papers ever again...I hope). Some of this stuff has been with me for a long time. Attempts at writing, cuttings, cut-ups, quotes and poems, pictures and such. Some of it just references to lead me back through the library again one more time. For instance, I wouldn't think to read back through William Burroughs right now, but here was a wonderful quote from The Western Lands (p213 in my edition).

"I saw a picture of a balloon suddenly and unexpectedly soaring and some people still holding onto the ropes connected to the balloon were suddenly jerked into the air and most of them didn't have the survival IQ to let go in time. Seconds later they are sixty, a hundred feet off the ground. Those who didn't let go fell off at five hundred feet or a thousand feet. A basic survival lesson is: Learn to let go.

Put it another way: Never hang on when your Guardian tells you to let go.


Suppose you were holding one of those ropes? Would you have let go in time, which is, of course, at the first upward yank? I'll tell you something interesting. You would have a much better chance to let go in time now that you have read this paragraph than if you hadn't read it. Writing, if it is anything, is a word of warning..."

I just found this poem by Ernst Jandl

I've got nothing
to make a poem

a whole language

a whole life

a whole mind

a whole memory

I've got nothing
to make a poem
The other night I brought home the film "Henry and June" - about Henry Miller, Anäis Nin and Henry's wife June. I have long been a fan of Miller's (even though that wasn't terribly popular with several friends who had him down as a misogynist and pornographer, etc).

Somewhere in the 70s, some people ran The Village Bookshop in Piccadilly, with the express intent of publishing EVERYTHING by their favourite authors, of which Miller was one. I got to read some of the treasures, and obscurities.

Being a clown, at the time, I love "The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder"; there was "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird"; his amazing piece on Rimbaud; essays like "Money, and how it gets that way" - just so many wonders which he had a hard time publishing in his life, and which have fallen back out of print, since. So that all you find in our library are the Tropics, and bits of porn. At least, out in the stacks, I found his letters to Anäis Nin, and a biography of her, too - although I am ambivalent about her myself (she may have been his Muse, but she is not mine). He introduced me to Knut Hamsun and Blaise Cendrars, too. If you are curious, check out the Memorial Library @ Big Sur

What I have in common with Miller is the opiniated enthusiasm (I can talk forever on any subject which enthuses me, but am totally dismissive or completely silent, about things I do not consider important or interesting). Arrogance and self-absorption?

He was one of the writers who told me I should "go for it" whatever "it" was - so I did. He warned me I might often be hungry and desperate, that I might have to swallow my pride, accept humiliation and disappointment - that there would be times when I was the only one with any faith in myself. (He was right!)

He also reminded me that that was the only way I was going to have real ecstatic highs (he was right about that, too!)

When I stayed in Paris in 1970, I lived near the Villa Seurat (same metro station, Alésia, in the 14th Arrondisement), and occupied a squatted artist's studio for several months, earning money on the street (selling jewellery) and generally feeling daring and romantic. It was Nelly Gareau who got me there, and gave me the courage, and we travelled for a couple of years after, but I haven't heard from her since. In a Google search the only person of that name/age group I can see is in Kentucky. Could that be her? Ah, it's so hard to tell. I don't pursue old friends any more than I dig back through ancestors. If they emerge again from the world, fine, but I always preferred the serendipitious meeting to the appointment.

And I write in this blog, as he wrote letters to all his friends, because people can only take so much babbling conversation. Does it take away the head of steam that would allow one to write a book? Or is it a necessary preparation and priming of the pump? At least it makes me write a minimum of a few hundred words almost every day....

Saturday, December 13, 2003

There's quite enough vanity about a website, without going too far into the derivation of my name, but (in a minor way) it is a mythical name like John Bull or Robin Hood. Sir Toby Belch (in Twelth Night) may well be this eternal hedonistic Falstaffian rogue.

At some point one of the library staff brought me a cutting from a Cardiff paper in the 30s, about the last Ale-Taster in Cardiff. I was very amused, but lost the cutting (and you can't 'search' paper archives the way you can electronic ones. So I tried the web, and came up with this:

"Cardiff Ale-Taster

I remember the last Aletaster of Cardiff. His name was Edward PHILPOT, and his nickname 'Toby Philpot.' I well remember hearing him say to someone with whom he was talking in the street : 'Well, I must go and see what sort of ale they have got at the Glove and Shears.'"

which I found here, in Reminiscences of Old Inhabitants.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

“A Conjurer is not a juggler, he’s an actor playing the part of a magician.”

Gotta dig out the worksheets I had when thinking about systems. Meanwhile, I like this site - this page is the Intro

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I am a Bob Dylan fan, as you may have noticed (though not a fanatic), and can even forgive him dabbling in religion fnord - after all, Shakespeare was probably one of the team who 'translated' the Word of God into the King James Bible - and made God sound good (like a great actor) rather than 'sinister' to our English-speaking ears (speaking in a Semitic tongue).

If you are a wordsmith, orator, actor, etc then the King James has some wonderful raw material. As a human creation it IS one of the great books. It's just a shame we don't take credit for it... (admit it?)

Even sadder that the three big religions (and all their sub-entities) which have roots in this book have been responsible for almost all the fighting in the Westen world (at least) in the last few thousand years.

"But apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

So - why Bob? Well, if you'd like to see Volume 3 of Paul Williams' Bob Biog "Mind Out of Time" written then you can pre-order a copy to help pay Mr Williams to write it over the next couple of years.

This pre-ordering of 'art' worked for me when I subscribed early for a copy of "Maybe Logic" from deepleaf productions, to help pay for post-production.

Maybe when this season in which I spend as little as possible is over, I will consider it. I hope you can hold out that long, Mr Williams!
The Puritans were sticklers for taking the Bible, and nothing else, as their guide for how to live a good, Christian life. And since the Bible never indicates exactly when the anniversary of the Nativity should be observed, they reasoned that God must not have intended for it to be observed at all. Otherwise a date would have been provided. So they banned its celebration. Between 1659 and 1681 it was actually a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of five shillings, to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts.
Christmas only became a legal holiday in England and America late in the nineteenth century. Before then people were expected to go to work on Christmas Day.

19th-century factory owners didn't like having to give their employees a day off work, so they long lobbied against having to treat Christmas as anything but a regular working day. But apparently some kindly factory owners would generously let their workers start work at 5 am on Christmas Day, thus allowing them to get off work early and go to church.
Want to chuckle (Ho Ho Ho): try the Christmas Gullibility Test at the Museum of Hoaxes
Darwin World Site

If you wonder how I find links during my working day, well - when testing public internet access, or even the connection on my staff machine - I try to put something new into Google every time, so that I don't confuse web-pages in the cache with live connection.

Well, that's my excuse.
Vicar tells children Santa is dead Did you catch that story last year?

Telling kids that Santa is a scientifically impossible myth is a bit rich, coming from a Christian vicar, don't you think?
Adbusters - I like 'em
I don't mean to offend anyone, but my reaction to Christmas is partly my anti-capitalist stance, and partly my atheist one. That questioning these things leads to taunts and jeers (even from loved ones) is just the way it is.

I found an interesting site this morning, for the Humanist Internet Project.

"Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Paradoxical quotations
Celebrity Atheists

Ah me - it's started. My problem with Christmas is very simple. I don't do it. And this seems to drive people into a frenzy. I know I am out-numbered, but I have no idea why people feel duty-bound to defend it with shouts of "bah humbug!" and "Scrooge", etc.

I don't want to be a Jeremiah at their feast. I don't want to go to the feast. I am just a vegetarian who avoids eating sugar (the deadly white powder) so turkey and mince pies just don't appeal to me.

Yes? And? So? What? (as Bill Hicks would do it)

The point of Scrooge, surely, is not that he doesn't 'believe' in Christmas - it's that he thinks that hanging on to his wealth and property will make him happy. It's the
re-distribution of his wealth at the end that does make him happy.

I don't see where that fits with poor people spending money they haven't earned yet on stuff they don't really need. That's just the need for 'treats' and 'rewards' all the time that our childish culture runs on. (whoops, getting judgmental again!)

My attitude to the rich is certainly ambiguous. I never understand why we let them get away with 'offering their services free' to (say) Live Aid - when Paul MacC, Bob D, Phil Collins, the Rolling Stones and The Who could have a whip round and pay off a serious chunk of Third World Debt.

Come on Tel - it's Children in Need - why not kick in a couple of month's salary?

The point being that wonderful (unfashionable) phrase "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." Yes, my mum was a communist in the thirties, so she gave me that slogan. Even when disillusioned to find out how it really worked out under Stalin, she was still a strong socialist for the UK. If you are a bit vague about the difference, try this page.

Of course, in my later studies, I found out that another of her slogans appears to come from Aleister Crowley (unless he just stole it) "Thank God I am an atheist!"

Generosity and self-sacrifice can't really be measured, but to the extent that they can, we would have to relate it to the proportion of any surplus available which was contributed/donated, surely?

The I Ching definitely reminded me once that the 'gods' understand, and that a bowl of rice offered at the temple by a poor person was as important a sacrifice as a goat from a rich person....

Monday, December 08, 2003

Paying for the Other Guy's Christmas Presents

From the S.C.R.O.O.G.E. website in 1998

Still on the subject of credit cards and holiday spending, over 1.3 million households in the United States filed for bankruptcy in 1997, partially a result of the huge number of credit cards readily available to virtually anybody who can sign a name (1.5 billion cards circulating out there, a 300% increase just since 1980). The plastic money seems to come out in earnest every November and December, as even cautious folks seem to lose self-control. Bankruptcy costs the U.S. economy over $40 billion annually, a hidden tax of $400 per household when these costs are passed on to consumers, as they usually are. So, when you add up your own holiday expenses in January, throw in a nice chunk of cash for gifts that other people bought on credit but then couldn't pay for.
And here's another link for myself

You don't have to follow my train of thought, you know..............
Bob's not your thing? Fine. I was checking out the (very varied) playlists for the three London gigs, and spotted this Link site mentioned.

It's just for me, OK. I am not recommending him to anyone. It's my tea-break, and this is the easiest way of leaving myself a note for when I get home.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I have noticed that the Archives either don't open, or give a strange error message, and then open one post at a time.

If I get a chance I will ask the Blogger staff about this, or a user group or FAQ or something.

Either that or I'll just start a new one (perhaps the easiest option). Who really cares what I thought in 2001?

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Oh my aching head. I went to Julie's 'staff do' last night, and had to make it into work today. My traditional (and carefully worded) email to staff about my not 'doing' Christmas (see the Concern link below) has elicited a much angrier email to everyone on the staff, from the vegan in the libraries, about the number of animals (not just turkeys) who are going to suffer for the party. http://www.animalaid.org.uk/

As a vegetarian (not a vegan) I still feel OK about buying goats for people who may milk them and eventually eat them. I am not a judgemental veggie convert, I grew up that way, and it just seems natural for me.

Still, I am quite pleased that somebody younger and angrier pointed this stuff out - I just hope we are not spoiling anyone's Christmas, is all. People are miserable enough (even if they don't know it) so I don't begrudge people fun. I just want to politely point out that there are less extravagant and greedy ways to have fun, and feel content.

A quiet game of cards by an open fire will do me, thanks. And maybe a walk in the hills with Judith's new dog. That will do nicely. (But I guess you could say I am just getting old...)

Friday, December 05, 2003

Tired of giving people stuff they don't really need?

Try being generous to strangers, instead and give a Christmas present to someone on the planet who needs it. Concern seem alright to me, so that's what I am doing this year.
The Hawaiian Juggling Convention at BellyAcres almost always runs over my birthday. If you get a chance to visit this is a real one-off amazing event.

I finally managed to get there in February 2002, but without my partner, sadly. I enjoyed being there, even though I don't juggle much any more. It is an astounding place, and if you have ANY CHANCE of going I recommend it. Very friendly place, too.

The only flaw in the plan (when I was there) was the Tropical Rain, but (hey) when you go to the tropics, what do you expect? Hi To Graham and Fritz and EVERYBODY - sorry I can't make it (skint excuse as usual)!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Hi - it's Wednesday night, and I have just worked 8 days in a row, so I am a little 'tired'.
I get a day off tomorrow, so I'll try and tidy up around here.

I have noticed that my free Tokelau link has a couple of bugs and hiccups. I get some sort of error message sometimes when logged in via the tobyphilpott.tk address, and then follow a link out, and then back. It'll take a little study. For a while I thought it was just links out of blogger and back, so it may be some more complex interaction of out and back.

No big deal anyway, as they are both fast growing enterprises, and eBay survived an unstable start with slightly erratic servers (service)....I am not complaining - it's a free and memorable link.

However, if I was to promote the paid-for links, I would have to test the thing, I guess (is that just me?) I like the links to go and be fast - not a server down - and if I am going to have pop-ups (there's a first for me) I want them to pop up right-on Tokelau anarchist island free domain names - not an online casino, as briefly happened to me.

Hey ho. Keili's site was doing it too. Still, it's not bad that you can just type in keiliolsen.tk and get straight there. I like that. I never even noticed that my friend HR had one of these addresses ages ago. just type in hr-nielsen.tk [no www. no http://]

OK - you don't like to type: here's links Keili ************** HR
But my job is bugs (many of which I can't fix, some of which I can work round) so I don't complain (just remind myself to go back and finish that piece about systems thinking).

I think I am happy to change my previous link - to their free service - to one that includes the option to pay for the address, and make it certainly yours. That's probably worth it, as otherwise you have to keep a small but steady stream of visitors flowing to your site to keep your address. I think it's a correct enough plan. It discourages people from just buying names as an investment (this - from a man who sells autographs!)

Anyway, and all. I can't promise to be a great ambassador for Tokelau, (especially as I have never been there) - but I will do my best. It seems like a 'cunning plan'.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

The Saturday Guardian gave me a good hint. There was an insert from Concern - and it suggested giving a Christmas present to someone on the planet who needs it, rather than some bit of tat for people who have everything (most of the people that I know in the West).

This solves my puzzle of previous years, where (if I don't want to play at Christmas because I am not a Christian) I am accused of being a party-pooper, killjoy, scrooge, skinflint, etc. Even the nicest people sulk if I won't play - even when I say it's because I earn the same money in December as in June, so why should I spend more?

So, if I have to spend money, and 'it's the thought that counts' - then I am going to take that bit of silly money and buy a couple of goats, a bag of maize and some pens and paper for the kids. Concern send you a card to let your friends know where the money for 'their' gift went. Best of both worlds, I think.

It seems like a good idea. Why not try it? If you were going to buy me something, why not do this instead?

If I am tempted or pressured into spending in the next few weeks, I'll just log on and buy another goat (£25 - who knew they were so cheap?)

And if you are one of those people who like flashing the cash at Xmas, why not spend £250 on a water pump for a village?
It was truly excellent to hear from Mr Jules - The Last Leopard from Wales - check out his site if you need an all-round entertainer - who gave me a 'heads up' on a fresh link for juggling information (a link I've added to my reference page now).

Hi Jules!

I was going to answer your message in the Guest Book, but I answered Nicole first, and then the guest book said I could only post once a day! I knew I should have done a combined greeting message.... hey ho

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Check out Space Hijackers, the anarchitects. I was especially amused by their disclaimer.

First thing I realised was that I normally buy The Guardian on a Saturday, just for the week's summary (although few of us read it) and the small and convenient tv guide (far more important). I was going to wait until Sunday, and buy a different paper, but Julie likes her Guardian Guide, and is not a 'true believer' in Buy Nothing Day, so she is getting it this week.

It took a little longer to make a flask of coffee to take to work, with a sandwich and an apple.

I am not rigid about stuff like this - it's only trying to raise my own awareness. I do not consider myself a hypocrite if I find there is something I have to buy today. To some extent it is just sorting out shopping into essentials, convenience, nice to have, not strictly necessary and completely self-indulgent. Or some such.

People give up smoking more easily than they would give up shopping.....

I liked this page about Not Cricket's tea stall last year

Thursday, November 27, 2003

One of my games in the library (similar to approaching the World Wide Web) is to find myself, my family and friends in the database.

It was easy finding my dad's "Dictionary of Puppetry" - it was out in The Stacks with the out-of-date (or valuable) books.
"Puppeteers wishing to better understand of the techniques of puppetry construction and production will find many questions answered here. Philpott covers the field from puppet performances of Mozart's opera Abduction from the Seraglio through a Polish production of Zwyrtala the Musician. Extremely readable; useful to all puppeteers."

Then I found my friend Mick Swain. He was on the last page of "Coincidence" by Brian Inglis (having corresponded with Mr Inglis), and also in the Social Inventions compilation - regarding 'using a diary as a logbook to steer yourself through life'.

I found Caroline Noh in a book about Moving Being (a Cardiff Arts Group).

Today I found myself, in a book about Bruce McLean the sculptor/artist, from when I was part of a Performance Art piece of his (with music by Michael Nyman) in the Riverside Studios in 1979. I won't elaborate here. It's still an amusing pastime.
Blogger seems to be acting a bit strangely. Unless it is just when looking at it from work (inside the library I am behind a Council Firewall).

I noticed that the links I put into the last post, about the Bucky Fuller Institute, go to a Page Not Found - and then when I refresh they go back to the home page. They don't do that when I access the site from home.


So if these links don't work for you, let me know (perhaps through the Guest Book at the bottom of my Home Page, or email).


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A bit weary today.

Some friends make Monday night a film night (at home). They have been watching Pasolini, and that sort of 60s/70s European films. I took them Les Enfants du Paradis (one of my top ten EVER films) and we got through it, all 3 hours and 8 minutes of it.

Pretty good going when you have to read sub-titles if you don't speak French well.

The problem was I took a couple of bottles of wine, and my French drinking companion was on antibiotics, so he wasn't drinking, and the others all seemed to be on beer, so I ploughed through them both! Oh dear.

Well, I knew I had a day off yesterday, to let in the chimney sweep, so it was OK. I even lit a fire for the first time this year.

Today I have a half-day (this is new) because I will be working 4 hours on Sunday, when the library will be open (experimentally).

And (for those of you elsewhere on the planet), it has started SERIOUSLY raining now.

Other people throw a Christmas/New Year party to help with the winter blues. It's just unfortunate that I find all that jollity and spending money we haven't yet earned on things we didn't really need contributes to my down mood. Hey ho.

Still. Battle on. I watched RAWs Maybe Logic again yesterday, and it rejuvenates my optimism. And today the Bucky Fuller Institute sent me my Crewmember of Spaceship Earth T-Shirt to go with my map. So it's not all glum, honest!

Monday, November 24, 2003

Just a plug for a great book.

I just finished Duende - a journey in search of Flamenco" by Jason Webster.

I leave you to find out what Duende is for you.

This is beautifully written (in passing) but is a record of an adventure among the 'low life' in Spain, in search of the passion that the English lack. Jason went and learned guitar, and had crazy adventures, and has recorded it so well.

My own adventures with the Gypsies in Spain is something I never wrote down yet. I didn't do the music, but somehow my mixture of fairground and circus made me acceptable for a while. I know I am kidding myself, as I may have just been popular because I had a bit of film money, and was farily open-handed with it (in search of a party). I would call it mutual exploitation and mutual respect, and leave it at that.

I'll stick a couple of photos up (the only tangible souvenir I have). Great times!

Meanwhile - congratulations to Jason for catching the ambiguity of the journey.

Great book, man.

Saturday, November 22, 2003


He's getting his website together, and all you have to remember is keiliolsen.tk [or if you insist, www.keiliolsen.tk] or (come on now!) http://www.keiliolsen.tk

PS: yesterday I got the pop up casino, and then it settled down to the chosen tk banner. I have asked their Help Desk why, but, I don't really know.

I ended up pasting the banner into my front page....Now I have both. Ho hum.

My Norton Security has been (apparently) deleting emails - whether incoming or outgoing it seems hard to say. There is no clue. I am not alone. They reckon they fixed it on November 8th, but I have reinstalled twice, and run Live Update, and it still happens. I hope it really was Spam that got deleted, but if you have emailed me and had no response, then PLEASE send it again...

"A serious bug within Norton Internet Security 2003 is responsible for the unexplained deletion of emails for some users.

Symantec is aware of the problem with the latest version of its security suite and is working on a fix. It promises to deliver a patch through its LiveUpdate automatic updating facility this week. The company has downplayed the significance of the problem by saying it affects a small number of people."

So if you have sent me anything important in the last few days, and NOT had a reply, could you resend it? Thanks.

Friday, November 21, 2003

On a slight tangent - my life as a street performer, and circus worker, allied me to travellers and gypsies. I experienced the same ambiguous reaction of fascination and repulsion. "It must be an interesting way to live" was balanced by accusations of irresponsibility. And then again, people would accuse me of romanticising them - even when I told them my dad had pushed a puppet-show around the UK in the 30s. OK, then he was the romantic fantasist.....

Being a dropout upset my mother and her aspirations to an academic and respectable career for me. A few people would always respond to my busking with the 'get a proper job' attitude they had for 'beggars'. It always helped a bit to be white, well-spoken and intelligent (that used to throw them) but they would then just act suspicious as to what terrible thing I was running away from, that I would have 'given up my privilege'.

No good telling them that I loathed everything they stood for - that my intelligence was not going to be sold into being used to run an empire, or promote capitalism, etc.
Nowadays my alignment with 'aliens' and outsiders is seen as a reflection of my position on the spectrum of autism ' Asperger's Syndrome'. I used to think it was just to do with being Introverted and Intelligent - but there are fashions in diagnosis - and a stupid and prejudiced population will always seem scary to the likes of me. Just as I scare them. In England you are supposed to be modest (unlike in The States) so it seems arrogant to claim intelligence - but I can't help it. In Test The Nation I got a higher score than anyone in the studio, and a point higher than the best online participant. Whatever that means. But I know I am smart. A long way from the top of smart, of course - and socially maladapted, and so unable to end up in a university with a sheltered role as 'absent-minded professor' or 'spacy mathematician'.

Clever people feeling weird is not uncommon in a culture that still believes in god (for instance) - such pervasive stupidity scares me badly. And the apparent arrogance of such a statement alienates me from sympathy (that's why the Aspie diagnosis rings bells). Blunt talk and a lack of social skills (what I would mostly call hypocrisy - lying to oneself and others).

So anyway, I am reading a fascinating new book on 'Duende' (the spirit of flamenco) so my eyes turned to the gypsies again. Locally they are upsetting to the settled community of Cardiff, as ever. They are getting all muddled in with the British fear of 'refugees' and 'immigrants', of course.

Going to look for a book in the Social Studies section [In search of the true gypsy : from enlightenment to final solution] which had this synopsis:

"The reader of European history looking for information on gypsies will only find them in footnotes. It has only been recognized tardily and with reluctance that during World War II hundreds of thousands if itinerants met the same horrendous fate as Jews and other victims of Nazism. Gypsies appear to appeal to the imagination simply as social outcasts and scapegoats or, in a flattering but no more illuminating light, as romantic outsiders. The world is patently intrigued by them, yet at the same time regards them with anxiety as "undesirable aliens". Where does such ambivalence come from? What ideas are involved under the surface of these mixed feelings? In this study, contemporary notions about gypsies are traced back as far as possible to their roots, in an attempt to lay bare why stigmatization of gypsies, or rather groups labelled as such, has continued from the distant past. "

I researched and wrote an article on these themes, for a juggling magazine, and I recently found the first, long draft of that article, which had a lot of material which I ruthlessly pruned. I may put the original version up at some point (now the OCR is working).
"The bourgeois novel is the greatest enemy of truth ever invented."

I am sad to say our library isn't well stocked in some of my favourite writers - but then again - they were (still are) fairly dangerous. I have thrown in a few quotes from Henry Miller because so few people realise what a joyous and liberating writer he can be - it's a shame that this library only has a bit of 'porn' churned out to be able to eat - and not even the books which defend and explain that phase of his life. His enthusiasm, mysticism, literary criticism, etc are mostly unrepresented. And my own collection got trashed - or rather hijacked - (along with the rest of my library) back in 1994. Hey ho.

For completely different reasons I love William Burroughs - and (again) he isn't well represented here. Try this interview with J.G.Ballard about Burroughs.
"I am just having a good time.

And, I think this is a very important part of life–that people learn how to play, and that they make life a game, rather than a struggle for goals,

don't you know."

--Henry Miller
Why then do we not give ourselves -- recklessly, abundantly, completely?
If we realized we were part of an endless process, that we had neither to lose or to gain, but only to live it out, would we behave as we do?

--Henry Miller
Always Merry and Bright

And if you have managed to get past thinking Mr Miller was just a pornographer (or whatever your misapprehension) why not support the memorial library people and all the artists they encourage. Look here...

"What we all hope in reaching for a book, is to meet a man of our own heart, to experience tragedies and delights which we ourselves lack the courage to invite, to dream dreams which will render life more hallucinating, perhaps also to discover a philosophy of life which will make us more adequate in meeting the trials and ordeals which beset us. To merely add to our store of knowledge or improve our culture, whatever that may mean, seems worthless to me".
--Henry Miller

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

It's not easy to keep your spirits up when you're out on the street (or living without credit), but it can be done.

My role model was Henry Miller, dropped out in Paris and determined to be a writer even if he starved, or had to lose face and scrounge his meals. He starts Tropic of Cancer (a record of that period of his life) with this jaunty, cheeky, nonchalant phrase:

I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.

My son emailed me the other day. He's another cash economy person - and reminded me that when he runs out of money he is just 'skint' (Back to Zero) whereas most of the 'richer' people around us owe thousands of pounds/dollars. Looked at the other way up we are thousands of pounds/dollars 'richer'.

It doesn't show when we are out on the street and people are living in luxury, it only shows when the income fails - and credit living people find that they not only owe more than they can pay, but the interest ticks up every day (I thought of it as like having a taxi parked outside your house with the meter running...and the driver sitting there with his feet up reading the paper).

I remember Tony Allen had a line like that - which I can only paraphrase "I heard one day that Robert Maxwell owed three billion pounds. I had nothing. Then I realised that that made me three billion pounds RICHER than Robert Maxwell - that really put a spring in my step."

I am not making this up. I found the following here:

"Members who are overextended already and are just making their minimum payments from month to month will have a hard time paying another bill. Believe it or not, some consumers think obtaining more credit is the equivalent to increasing their income. Rather than correcting the problem, the additional credit increases their borrowing costs and only delays the inevitable."

Ain't that a chilling phrase......

Monday, November 17, 2003

Go Bob - he's starting his European tour, but I am not going to catch him this time, I don't think....but I can't wait till I see him again. He does love songs like no one else (except the Blues) - with all the real bitter twists and ups and downs - not just the simple 'lerv' songs of pop. I am a lot happier than I was this time last year (for those who follow the story), so I sing along with these lyrics with glee now (air drumming) but last year it all felt too true....

I'm your man, I'm tryin' to recover the sweet love that we knew
You understand that my heart can't go on beatin' without you
Well your loveliness has wounded me
I'm reelin' from the blow
I wish I knew what it was that keeps me lovin' you so
I'm breathin' hard, standin' at the gate
Ah, but I don't know how much longer I can wait.

Skies are gray
I'm lookin' for anything that will bring a happy glow
Night or day, it doesn't matter where I go anymore, I just go
If I ever saw you comin' I don't know what I might do
I'd like to think I could control myself but it isn't true
That's how it is when things disintegrate
And I don't know how much longer I can wait.

I'm doomed to love you
I've been rollin' through stormy weather
I'm thinkin' of you
And all the places we could roam together.
Got a real puzzle as streaming video isn't working on here, and I can't work out why. So I stick Bob on for a while (live tracks from an obscure CD I got in Belgium) - he ain't popular in my house, but I love those words, you see (and the bands he gets behind him) - so I rave in the back room on my own...hey ho

Well I don't dare close my eyes and I don't dare wink
Maybe in the next life I'll be able to hear myself think
Feel like talking to somebody but I just don't know who
Well, I'm tryin' to get closer but I'm still a million miles from you

The last thing you said before you hit the street
"Gonna find me a janitor to sweep me off my feet"
I said, "That's all right mama.... you..... you do what you gotta do"
Well, I'm tryin' to get closer; I'm still a million miles from you
Had a lovely moment yesterday. We went to a Superstore to get wild bird seed, and stuff, for our sparrows (we have a cluster of sparrows living in the holly tree in the garden) - who we like to feed in the winter months.

Julie mentioned seeing a Robin in the garden, so I said we should try to encourage it, and as they are a bit carnivorous I was looking at the special birdmix which had insects in it, also a little Robin nesting box, etc.

Over Julie's shoulder I saw a flurry of wings. Now sometimes you get birds in the garden sections of big stores....but this was a Robin! It landed a few feet from us, and nibbled at a little pile of seeds some staff member must have put out. Then it flew a little closer, and sang to us. All this in a noisy, crowded Sunday shopping superstore under fluorescent lights! I was so sorry I didn't have my camera...

It was such a great synchronous moment that we HAD to buy all the robin stuff, of course. Best salesperson in the building.

It's been a year for Robins. One cheekily approached me when Judith and I were looking around a castle in Somerset with Bill and Thomas - and Julie and I saw another by the path when we went to West Wales.

And after I put out the seeds and fat balls I saw a blue tit. More garden news as time passes.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Frank Skinner had a great chat show this week. Michael Moore, and Robert Downey Jr and Michael Stipe (REM). Brilliant stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

PS to the rant below. I have always felt intrigued by Typology - knowing I 'was' one of Jung's Introverts in an Extravert culture helped early on.

I have studied a lot of ways of dividing us up. Personally I feel a little nervous about all the more recent 'illnesses' and 'syndromes' that we have 'discovered' (invented?) - even though some of them may seem helpful, too many of them appear to me as inventions of drug companies (and other people with vested interests) for me to feel comfortable with them. And labelling people seems always potentially dangerous - especially if you can get them to define themselves that way.

Uh-oh, I didn't mean to start again. After reading so many 'grids' I eventually ended up at Astrology, not for the 'hidden influence' part of the theory, but for the subtle and rather complex tool it represents for attempting to describe the range of 'styles' of humans, and the ways they approach the world. It has evolved over many centuries and several cultures, and for that reason alone should interest us - rather than the latest fad.

Having said that - check out this site about the XD38 personality, an extension of the Myers-Briggs model, itself an extension of Jung's stuff. Note: I don't recommend any of this.

And before you decide you 'are' an XD38, or think I claim to 'be' one I'd like to remind you (again) of the Forer or Barnum Effect.... and of E-Prime. Have fun! (and that 'is' an order!)
Today is a good day to die


Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't.

Chief Dan George as Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man.
As ever, I know I should be more cautious in what I write in here. I don't intend to offend, but I am often opinionated, and have been known to rant. Curiously, as a lifelong vegetarian I have never joined the ranks of anti meat-eating ranters. Diet is really your choice. I am simply a vegetarian the way sheep are - it's not a moral choice.

I will rant against religions however.

I will rant against stupidity.

I can be very bloody-minded.

One of the things that has annoyed me for years, and continues to, is the resistance people have to the idea that they are animals. Bad enough that Darwin had to battle this out TWO CENTURIES ago - but that we should still be in denial is astounding.

And what upsets me more is that (thanks to right wing types co-opting the ideas - Social Darwinism to justify the status quo, etc) the left wing and the feminists and a lot of people I would expect to be 'on my side' so to speak became adamant that Nurture and Culture was all...so everything could be corrected, all differences ironed out, if only the system was fairer.

It's a terribly dangerous 'politically correct' minefield, and I have argued with many friends who were shocked that I didn't share their 'liberal' views - when I defended some of the possible explanations of behaviour from fields like sociobiology (the study of humans as animals). I agreed with them that it was a dangerous area to study (as those findings could be misused again) but I strongly disagreed with the wishful thinking that we are somehow separate from the animal realm, somehow special. When it comes to that I am a Deep Ecologist - I really don't think we have any special privilege on the planet; we are not a special creation (Aaaargh, not God again); we are not so far evolved that we somehow escaped our biological heritage - that's all wishful thinking, religious hangovers, and romantic escapism - and dangerous nonsense as well.

In my opinion. Let's get that straight. I am only saying that if you talk to me about this stuff you will get an obstinate position. I am not saying I can prove any of this.

Meanwhile - I have turned from the Aspie book (see below) - to late night surfing. Battered men was one theme (I have been one many years ago); Fathers being misled is the other (that thing about 1 in 10 fathers are not the biological father) and the unreliability of women in this area.

Again, I am only reporting, not judging. There is a lot of statistical evidence (scientific) for the figures - and there is plenty of theory as to why (back to sociobiology again). Sperm Wars by Robin Baker, for instance.

It doesn't make me insecure, it just makes me want to change from patriarchal inheritance (dubious) to matriarchal (almost infallible). Especially for important people. With rumours raging about Prince Charles' sexual pastimes (goddam, if you were that rich and powerful - and went to a British Public School - wouldn't you be having a bit of Caligula fun?) and the knock-on rumour that he only fathered William (the heir) but not Harry (Di was putting it about a bit) I do wonder why the royal 'family' should still be inheriting and passing stuff on...but I don't suppose illegitimate blood is very new to that line......

And now I'd better get out of here before my late night musings aggravate someone too much. I prefer the 'cute' image I used to keep up as a children's entertainer, but it was never true, and I am getting too old to care about upsetting people now (one of the privileges of age is to rant - even if one's words are dismissed). And anyway, if I have Asperger's Syndrome (I think I am on the spectrum, but so are a lot of blokes)you can dismiss it as a side-effect.

Goodnight - and don't take it so personal - it's only words, you know. And language (as Laurie Anderson sings so beautifully on Home of the Brave) is a virus.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

My current reading is covering Asperger's Syndrome. Julie (who is a trained social worker and counselor) brought the subject up, when she pointed out how many of the characteristics I have.

It's initially difficult because if I read 'health' books of any kind I always think I have most of the symptoms. Still, I agree that a lot of the description fits. Bear in mind this is a new diagnosis (within the last 20 years) so nobody would have spotted it at school and sent me for tests, or simply re-arranged my education to something more suitable, the way we nowadays do for (say) dyslexics (and why IS that such a hard word to spell?)

I started with "Loving Mr Spock" - a rather empathetic description by a woman who had a turbulent rrelationship with someone she later decided had Asperger's Syndrome (AS). This had a lot of the research. I sampled "Aspergers in love" and a couple of others, and they all kept pointing to Simon Baron-Cohen's work. He is the brave guy who describes AS as the extreme form of the 'male brain'. We are talking hard-wired differences here - not an illness. Autism and AS are far more common among men and boys.

It is a political minefield to suggest men and women are 'essentially' different, of course, as people fear the social darwinism/sociobiology arguments that things are they way they have to be - whereas feminists, and left-wingers have tried to say everything is nurture, and so changes in society could eliminate these differences. Ever since I heard that position I sneered because it seems evidently untrue - wishful thinking. Equally, of course, the idea that we are doomed by our genetic inheritance and cannot 'adjust' anything at all is equally ludicrous.

It's that old Aristotelian logic thing again. Either/Or.

And nobody is talking about ALL MEN or ALL women.

So I accept most of it, even though in many ways I am NOT a typical bloke. I don't like cars, I have always been rather passive and non-competitive, etc. But then again, our models are muddled. In one sense gay guys are the most extreme form of male brain, they are only 'effeminate' in certain senses. Actually to go to a club and have sex with half a dozen strangers without emotional complications is one of those full hetero male fantasies - the harem. Few of us hetero men get to live it out (at least without paying for it).

We settle for pussy-whipped domesticity/monogamy for the most part.

Anyway - I now have Simon Baron-Cohen's book "the Essential Diference", so I am off to lunch to consume it (perhaps I should remember to eat food, too).
For those who remember me when I was clowning - I am 'hell for leather crazy' ever since I realised that most people on the planet were living within strange little belief systems (and I knew I had my own - the British have lots of nonsense from when they - briefly - ruled most of the planet).

I knew that I just couldn't see the narrow viewpoint that had trapped me because anyone's local culture and first language always seems like 'normal' or 'natural' or 'real life'. Worse for the English, in a way, because it has by chance become the world language, so there is little reason to learn a second language and so discover that the world isn't 'labelled' with the words that you happen to use to describe it.

I will come back and try to write this for people who are using English as their second language - I always do - or who are dyslexic, or five years old, or whatever. I love to communicate, and if you meet me you know that...I'll use anything to get through.

Sometimes it might be mime, sometimes magic tricks, sometimes alcohol - WHATEVER it takes to get through to people and let them know we are all so similar, and all want and need the same things.

I am ashamed (in a way) that my Spanish is limited, my French so clumsy, and from then on all I have is a phrase or two of other languages to get through. But humans can get through to each other easily enough if they want to. We've been doing it for thousands of years (in our nomadic way) and we can do it so much more easily now - if only we would use all our intelligence and resources for LIFE-ENHANCING STUFF rather than greed and violence, and selfishness, and narrow-mindedness and fear.

I have just joined the Bucky Fuller Institute (they are certainly going the right way); I have just taken a domain name with Tokelau.

I had my youthful enthusiasm almost squashed by a British upbringing of inhibition, state religion, and snobbery but I have been 'fighting back' ever since. Although 'fighting' isn't the model I want to promote. I am not a fight promoter.

Just Resist.

Be obstinate.

Lay low when you have to, even if it is for years.

As James Joyce recommended: "Silence, Exile and Cunning".

Hooray for our side!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

At the bottom of my Home Page you will find the RetroStats counter. I haven't hidden the statistics, so if you click on the logo it will take you into the detailed breakdown.

The most interesting part for me is 'Country' (although 'Language' is interesting, too. There are 12 listed at the moment.) Nice to see visits from Tokelau logged - they are checking me out because I asked permission to sell-on their domain names.

Actually I have no desire to make money out of it (although I would like them to make money out of it) - as I think that spreading the word about their free domain name offer is more important, right now, until they reach critical mass.

I will apply to be an ambassador, as well. I just like the idea, and their approach - it's not like I am likely to get to visit (even though Julie already wants to retire there, as soon as I described the place!)

To recap from their Home Page:

"Tokelau is a small place. In September 2003 a delegation of the team of Dot TK went to all three atolls to present what the Internet can mean for such a small country.

In meetings with the Council of Elderly we came to the conclusion that Internet can not only bring advanced communications, but also medical aid (Telemedicine) and a better education. "

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I have just registered a free domain name with Tokelau's enterprising people, at Dot.TK.

As a country they were granted the Internet domains ending with .tk, and they decided to give them away (it's part of their Pacific Culture to share equally).

It was easy to register, and (unlike bigfoot) it really is a simpler address to give people.


My only problem right now is that the connection to the server seems a bit erratic, but I'll monitor that for a bit and let you know how it goes.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Do you remember Googlism?

Googlism for: jabba

jabba is back
jabba is really saddam hussein
jabba is georgeous
jabba is actually really saddam hussein read on
jabba is a legless
jabba is the realm of the demoded
jabba is the realm of
jabba is more than just a ski resort
jabba is usually used for a plateau in local language
jabba is an interstellar fence
jabba is much more than just a ski resort
jabba is pretty much a slug means that even when his barge blew up
jabba is using mind control to play with my heart
jabba is the brain child of it's creator
jabba is sirius
jabba is absolutely wrong
jabba is provided on the web
jabba is my big fluffy himalayan cat
jabba is in no way a mean cat; but just like the next human
jabba is included which is slightly different than the one in the original
jabba is said to have been designed by a huttese artist named dreyba
jabba is there waiting for him
jabba is clearly a legend among mofos for his physical attributes and
jabba is not the same jabba we see in return of the jedi
jabba is far too expressive in this chapter of the star wars saga
jabba is smoking a hooka
jabba is one of the galaxy's most successful crime lords
jabba is een hutt
jabba is a painting of the table and fireplace
jabba is used to screwing all sorts of races
jabba is known for having a hand in all sorts of activities
jabba is unmistakable
jabba is a tall humanoid with a walrus
jabba is interesting
jabba is first scene
jabba is a reasonable
jabba is attached to
jabba is hungry
jabba is just as disgusting as ever
jabba is
jabba is constantly exposing and thwarting the efforts of the criminal hutt gangs and is being chased by a bounty hunter hired by the hutts called kern al
jabba is noted in this section not because he clearly appears in the movie
jabba is that you?
jabba is only amused and says that he likes the headhunter and that he will therefore give him
jabba is merely a front for the lashkar
jabba is the notorious bounty hunter boba fett
jabba is the grossest of the slavering hulks and his scarred face is a grim testimonial to his prowess as a vicious killer
jabba is of the race hutt and like most of his species
jabba is the canadian coffee chain store where calgaryâs gay crowd grabs their jabba
jabba is about 8 months old
jabba is bipedal and does not speak huttese
jabba is a gruff and grisly crewman aboard the same ship as solo
jabba is nowhere
jabba is one of the best choices
jabba is aboard
jabba is unmaterial
jabba is much bigger than he was meant to be when the scene was shot
jabba is getting very impatient
jabba is all too obviously a computer graphic
jabba is the "other" win32 client
jabba is asleep on his throne
jabba is very ugly and has drool dripping down his mouth onto his belly
jabba is equipped a hotel with 52 rooms including four suites; restaurants with seating capacity for 100 people; a coffee shop for 50 people and an
jabba is a big
jabba is a good natured
jabba is highly intelligent and rarely overlooks details or dangers
jabba is behind the curtain
jabba is edited onto 20
jabba is aware of his presence
jabba is really jabba? jth
jabba is sucks
jabba is in town
jabba is more careful than before
jabba is going to blow up something's main reactor
jabba is situated on main karakoram highway; the distance by road from islamabad is 314 kilometers
jabba is noted in this section not because he appears in the movie
jabba is so fun
jabba is very keen on cunning
jabba is made of three pieces
jabba is no big deal
jabba is digitally inserted into a conversation with han solo right before the pilot takes off with his new clients
jabba is in his "castle" near the pit with leia chained to him
jabba is full sister
jabba is a millionaire
jabba is a hutt who knows that it's all about the little differences
jabba is furious and pulls her toward him
jabba is pleased
jabba is suspicious about this random stranger about whom he knows nothing
jabba is pitted against rival crimelords

Thursday, November 06, 2003

"Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't".

Chief Dan George (as Old Lodge Skins) at the end of Little Big Man.
Interest Rate start to go up again (after 4 years)

Ms Cook added: "The consumer has kept the economy going very nicely during the tough times of the last two years. It's now time for the rest of the economy to take up the running."

By getting people to promise away their future earnings at modest rates of return (for them) or large rates of interest (in the long run) for the lenders – basically, by swearing that we were ‘good for it’ - we have put off the ‘natural event’ of a leveller, bringing borrowing (particularly on houses) back in line. The idea that the consumer keeps the economy ‘going’ is crazy Bush/Blair Speak (after 9/11 we were urged to go out and spend) because we are also the workers (the 'rest of the economy') who aren’t being rewarded properly.

“Manufacturers had urged the Bank to sit tight over interest rates while the green shoots of a recovery in the sector take hold.”

Do these green shoots of recovery remind you at all of Chauncey Gardner and ‘everything will be all right in the garden….” ?

He added: "Despite more encouraging world growth, we should be clear that the economic recovery is still at an early and extremely fragile stage.
Most analysts are predicting a steady rise to a figure of 5% by the end of 2004."

We still measure ‘growth’ by GNP, which includes every wasteful activity, too, and is not a green measure at all – just an obsession with bigger, faster, longer, etc.
A quarter-point increase will add £9 a month to an average mortgage of £60,000 and nearly £15 to a mortgage of £100,000.
Savers should benefit from higher rates.

Savers? Don’t you mean the money lenders? Who else has money saved…?

If 0.25% raises a £100,000 mortgage by £15 per month, does that mean that going up to 5% (from 3.75%) would increase it by... a further £75 per month over the next year?
Day off - nice and peaceful.

Did a bit of tidying up, and reading through my latest magic books and tricks. I have been collecting up some new links which I will add to this page (a first test) soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I have just sold my crew shirt for Labyrinth (along with a bunch of photos, call sheets, story boards, etc) - so I am beginning to feel like I understand eBay (just a little bit).

Of course, I am still dealing with old hands at this market place, but it has been fun, that's for sure, much like going to conventions and signing photos and chatting to people.

Hi Sharon!

Monday, November 03, 2003

Well I managed to stumble through the halloween weekend without coming to any grief.

Getting chimneys swept, and ordering coal, now.

I still don't know how I will get through Christmas without annoying people. The best I can come up with this year is to take some money I was going to spend on trivial presents, and donate it to a charity - and just notify people where the money for their pressie went. It's a bit of an involuntary contribution, I suppose, but it would make me feel better. If I HAVE to spend money because of the season (and forget that I only earn enough for ordinary days) then at least I could give it to something I feel good about like the Bonobo cause, or the Great Apes here, or here.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I keep remembering just how small I felt when I was growing up in London, and how much smaller I felt when I found how big the world was.

Since then, we all live in a shrinking world. Anybody could find themselves on the wrong end of a camera, or the wrong end of a journalist. Anybody (dream on!) could be in the 'right place at the right time' to take advantage of the modern world's ability to amplify any person or event to world sized. Of course, some people are doing it on purpose (hi Mr Blaine) but others find themselves accidentally at the focal point.

This is all to do with systems theory, (and the amplification possibility was for a while known as the Butterfly Effect - though usually to indicate the accidental form of amplification). When I was young I witnessed this snowball effect when the Beatles became famous. Now I happen to think they WERE the most talented of a bunch of musicians back then, but not THAT MUCH MORE talented.....

It's the amplification effect - the howl of feedback - the denial of any other possibility - and the ignoring of any conflicting evidence or opinions....

These are just notes to myself - they are not intended to be enlightening to others - I will one day finish my piece on systems and systems thinking...

hey ho.

Friday, October 31, 2003


Don't forget

Buy Nothing Day is coming around again....

In the US and Canada it is November 28th (day after Thanksgiving) but in the UK and Europe it is November 29th.

Just go one day without shopping...

You can even check out Buy Nothing Christmas, if you are so inclined...
Ah tea-break!

so it's Halloween again. It never was a party when I was a kid, but American influences and capitalism's desire for a 'theme' to sell junk with have conspired to create yet another silly holiday. To me it's the Celtic New Year's Eve. The trick or treating is just like the carol singing / begging for food and drink bit that the poor used to do at Christmas.

We don't have ordinary days any more. Every day is a winner. Every day is a feast (hence the obesity epidemic), a day for a 'treat'. I don't know why we don't just get the calendar and combine all the days we have - from Mother's Day (traditional) to Father's Day (recent invention) - from Christmas to Easter - from birthdays to wedding anniversaries - from No Smoking Day to Smoking Day (when smokers are allowed to enjoy a cigarette ANYWHERE without anyone being allowed to complain - well, I know I made it up, but perhaps it's only fair).

So, eventually , we could end up with a continuous calendar and they could ALWAYS sell us something - National Pink Day - Random Acts of Kindness Day - .

For me this is an appropriately 'death and spirits' day, as my best friend (at the time) managed to drop dead on this day several years ago...while I was clearing out my mother's effects shortly after her death. It was all a bit of a shock. Not a lot to celebrate, but just time for a quiet thought for 'absent friends'.

And one of Ali's black cats just died (suddenly) too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Well, it was very interesting watching people bid on the Labyrinth script. What a strange and remote business eBay is - people could be literally anywhere. I have stuck the old crew shirt up now, just to see what happens. I must admit, I still don't find buying and selling things very easy.

Anyway - I got some magic books for Alf this week - and fascinating stuff it is indeed. I loved the warped way of thinking that goes with magic. It's the same ingenuity which is so crucial in (say) heist movies...

I love the thinking most. I am not much of a practitioner any more, but you never know with a revitalised hobby...

Friday, October 24, 2003

Who was Bucky Fuller?

Fuller was a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Some were built as prototypes; others exist only on paper; all he felt were technically viable. He was a dogged individualist whose genius was felt throughout the world for nearly half a century. Even Albert Einstein was prompted to say to him, “Young man, you amaze me!”

In 1927, at the age of 32, Buckminster Fuller stood on the shores of Lake Michigan, prepared to throw himself into the freezing waters. His first child had died. He was bankrupt, discredited and jobless, and he had a wife and new-born daughter. On the verge of suicide, it suddenly struck him that his life belonged, not to himself, but to the universe. He chose at that moment to embark on what he called “an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity.” Over the next fifty-four years, he proved, time and again, that his most controversial ideas were practical and workable.
Check out the Bucky Fuller Institute and Spaceship Earth.

I just joined and went for the map and crew shirt.

“Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all, to feed everybody, clothe everybody, give every human on earth a chance. We know now what we could never have known before—that we now have an option for all humanity to “make it” successfully on this planet in this lifetime. Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Why not check out the Simple Living Network anyway...

Or this sad but relevant article, for creative types who don't want to get trapped into work they don't enjoy....
Is this guy right?


* After paying 15 years on your 30 year mortgage, you'll still owe 90% of the amount you borrowed!

* After paying nearly 24 years, you'll still owe over 50%!

* You will pay over 3 TIMES the amount you originally borrowed before paying off your mortgage!

* To make matters worse, the FDIC estimates that 1 out of every 2 mortgages are miscalculated, overcharging homeowners $8 - $10 billion dollars each and every year!

* Of the 52 million mortgages in the U.S., only 2.7% of homeowners ever prepay for more than a year!
(How sad).

* It will take nearly $500,000 in gross income to net $300,000 in mortgage payments to pay off a $100,000 loan!

* If you move about every 5 to 7 years, like most Americans, you are really paying 91% of your payments toward interest on your loan!

* After paying every month for 10 years, you will have paid off only about 10% of your loan!

WEEKLY OR BI-WEEKLY: What the Experts are Saying!

Your mortgage is costing you $50,000 to $100,000 more in unnecessary interest payments.

For those of you who have picked up on my anarchist anger (with a green tinge) I will offer another object of hate.

The Enclosure Acts.

I am not romancing the life of Celts or Saxons, but nevertheless it was only really after the Norman Conquest that so much land was taken from the common people and given to individuals. And there was a fresh wave of Enclosures in the 17th 18th and 19th Centuries in the UK.

What's worse is that (by colonisation) we passed this concept of 'land ownership' around the world - imposing it on people to whom it made little sense to 'own' land....

"A third problem was the U.S. Government's inability to understand the native way of life and religious practices. The standard EuroAmerican way of life revolved around the private ownership of land and property. These ideals were not embraced by Indian Nations. Theirs was a communal life style with no concept of private land ownership. Some nations were nomadic but maintained a specific territory they considered their own. Others were sedentary farmers but maintained communal fields and shared their harvest. All of this flew in the face of the EuroAmerican "religion" of privatization and had to cease."

We use bits of paper with magic runes on them to 'prove' ownership. Accurate maps are to do with property boundaries. Native 'maps' were different.

"The obvious difference between European and native maps was the result in their differing views of land usage. For Europeans, land ownership was determined by "right of discovery." The native concept of land stewardship contrasted with the European view. While the colonists engaged in a land grab which required deeds, maps and written records, Natives relied on their oral tradition to describe social relations with nature. All land was viewed as commonly owned, while fishing and hunting grounds and crop fields were assigned to clans or bands. Land use reflected mobile, migratory patterns that changed with the seasons, and sometimes through tribal warfare.

That a society would require paper to demarcate land was a totally alien concept to Native Americans. "

And then in recent decades, as people got bored with the 'landlord' role, with its responsibilities for maintaining the property, collect rent, etc, the rich elite came up with another grand scheme - keep the reins on the land, but get people to borrow huge sums to hand over in a lump (rather than a trickle of rent) - tell them they now 'own' it, and leave them with the problem of paying it all within their lifetime...how they got people to sign a 'death pledge or wager' (mortgage) is another matter.

A serious consequence of this pattern was that (if you don't have to pay cash, but just promise your life away) the bidding for this dubious pleasure of 'ownership' can go through the roof ("I'll promise 20 year's earnings!" I'll promise 25!" "OK I'll promise all the money I'll ever earn, and I'll throw in my children's earnings as well") and this ever-receding debt is invented...as the 'value' of the property goes up...so people have to promise more. And the rich, the banks, the original landowners get all that money 'up front'...and when people find they can't pay it, guess what happens, it turns out they never 'owned' it at all, as it reverts to the bank...

And I am studying the 'short cons' like The Three Card Trick, but those street hustlers can't hold a candle to the big money and the old money people....

[rant over] [he sings...] "Don't Fence Me In....."

"Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don't fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze,
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in."


"I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"If you can see your path laid out
in front of you step by step, you know
it's not your path. Your own path you
make with every step you take. That's
why it's your path."

--Joseph Campbell

Strange time warp last night. I went down to the juggling workshop, where people were still buzzing from the show last week. I think it is a motivator when people see a good show - they suddenly realise they could be in the next one! That makes people work on the skills with a bit more enthusiasm.

I saw Andy and Jenny with their new baby. "Welcome to the planet!"

Then Cathy gave me a copy of a book from 1976 with me juggling on the cover! It's out of print and I haven't seen one for years. Strange to see oneself at age 27, juggling under a strobe...it was the first rip-off. John Hedgecoe never did pay me for modelling that shot...

Then to top that I bumped into Simon from the original Balls-up crew who remembered me from when I ran a juggling convention in Spain, up in the mountains at Castellar de la Frontera. It was a good time, but it was also a long time ago (back when I was 40 years old, in 1986!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Sadly, my scanner has died, so it is hard to put photos up on the web which were not digital. I have recently found some old negatives (having lost all my photo history in a disaster a few years back) and have got a few prints done. Mostly on the set of Labyrinth, with Keili...with me looking forty years young.

Hey ho, I guess I'll get to replace it with what I get from the script on eBay. I always seem to break even - I never get in front! Just the way this life is, I guess...

I didn't exactly choose to be a poor recluse living in 'voluntary poverty' - it was more the 'involuntary poverty ' of someone who was willing to starve to do work he enjoyed (Artist in a Garret) - or, if you aren't romantic - someone so selfish and irresponsible that he never really played the game or paid his way in society. Take your pick.

Still - breaking even is pretty good, you know, in a world of debt (called 'credit' in Orwellian Double-Speak).

Monday, October 20, 2003

I was very happy yesterday, as I managed to get to see Jacques Tati's "Play Time" in a cinema. I saw it originally in 70mm which was the way it was shot, and I remember how it doesn't work on television (so much of it depends on the long shot). It was uproarious...wonderful!

I had forgotten so many details. It takes me back to the 70s, when I was studying clowning, and made a point of seeking out ALL films with physical comedy in, and watching them analytically. Tati was always one of my favourites. Part of the reason is the genuine kindness behind the comedy - it is (at the most) teasing about other people's folly, never cruel or sarcastic. He is quoted as saying "I should like to make films that are not lowering to the spirit".

The close observation of the tiny comedy moments of everyday life is flawless, and was extremely relevant to me as a street performer (not working in the disciplined and controlled environment of the theatre).

His films do not force jokes on you - they use wide shots, so you can see the whole body (so much comedy is in legs), and can choose where to look on the screen. There are little details everywhere - and elegant visual jokes and echoes, as well as perhaps the most creative soundtracks ever.

He says he likes his films to be "about everybody but also about nobody big" and that is evident as your eye wanders around the frame, watching all the different characters who (in ordinary movies) would be merely 'extras'....

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Here's a thing, I knew you were going to look in here today (spooky isn't it?) so I did a Tarot reading for you and this is what it came up with. I could do it in more detail if I could meet you, of course, but I hope you find it interesting:

"You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic"

If you want to pursue this and get a more detailed reading, look at my earlier posting, under Barnum.
It's funny that magic should be cool again. (Some of these slang words just keep on keeping on, how come 'cool' doesn't go out of fashion?)

I like the exposure of psychic frauds, but then I enjoy anything that destroys dangerous illusions (delusions) like the false over-importance people give to religion, money, politics, etc. Unfortunately, many of the methods are (of course) the same. It is hard to stand by and hear co-workers talking as though David Blaine can levitate, and REALLY hard not to go 'it's just this!' [Warning:spoiler: don't go there if you prefer the illusion]

Everyone knows David Copperfield doesn't claim to levitate, he is a stage illusionist who can appear to fly...but I saw actors flying (live) on stage in Peter Pan when I was about 6 (1952). Mr Copperfield does a beautiful job of it, but it's nothing new. Blaine was walking in that dangerous territory that Geller took over (not just allowing people to be mystified, but implying even more). I saw a South Park with a David Blaine cult which was spot on. People wanna believe. There's little we can do about it. Silly explanations like 'The Masked Magician' stuff is OK, but dull. Trying to stop people falling for obvious cons and false claims is well-intentioned but almost futile (ever argued with a fundamentalist Christian about whether the Old Testament is actually the Jewish Torah? - I mean, I just say 'look it up' but I bet they don't.)

You can still get thrown out of the Magic Circle though, either for exposing tricks, or for claiming 'special powers' (although that's a fine line for mentalists and the Derren Brown's of this world). Here's an Angry Magician reviewing a rather crap program called 'Secrets of Magic' and here's the story of the Magic Circle asking the people who produced it to resign.Look at Sept 21st.

And, in passing, I find it hard to feel sorry for Roy after getting mauled by the white tiger. My cat used to scratch me sometimes, if I touched a nerve, (nothing personal) so if you own really big cats and then tap them on the nose with a microphone, it's kind of your own fault, in my opinion. I feel more sorry for the tiger.

So Mr 'chubby' Blaine doesn't seem to have died...most people are sure he is swapped out when the cherry picker goes up to clean the box. It's probably 'agents provocateurs' who throw the eggs and paint balls anyway (otherwise they would have no excuse to take a cherry-picker anywhere NEAR the box). Put him in the self-publicist performance art bracket and I say 'well, good luck mate' but "magic"? Naaaah...
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