Monday, June 30, 2003

A bit of a gap, there.

The gang have been off at Glastonbury, but I have been cat-sitting. Julie threw a BBQ on Thursday, which left me hanging on Friday (she had the day off). We did go out on Saturday (long drive to disappointing Sculpture Trail) - I had such good memories of it...hey ho.

All I ended up with was a stiff back from the road, and so I didn't go to a wedding reception OR a party due that evening. Hey Ho.

My first two-day weekend for a while, and it fell apart a bit.

Anyway - Monday back at work - humid still, here. There was some rain last night (just to make the tent-crew's life a bit harder), but overall it sounds as though Glastonbury went well. I was missing it quite badly (this is the first time I've watched it on television).

Not that I have gone every year, just that (when I didn't get to go) I didn't watch it on TV.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Listening to Spike Jones on headphones as I walked to work. I had forgotten just how close jazz and cartoons were. The soundtracks of cartoons in my childhood were almost all comedy jazz with sound effects, and Spike Jones is the master of the mental pictures.

And they tried to kid us that dope was from the Sixties! Stoned humour is written all over the Spike Jones sound.

The suppressed history slowly leaked out, of course. You want the facts? Look at Jack Herer's Hemp site before you leap to judgment. When the killjoy Americans gave up trying to ban alcohol under Prohibition, they just switched that established police force onto banning the poor minorities' grow-your-own herb instead - marijuana. Accidentally, they made a most useful fibre, farmed all through the United States at that time(hemp), illegal overnight. Surprised some of the right-wing farmers. Lunacy.

But, if you don't already know this, you probably don't care. And I probably shouldn't be admitting to preferring grass to alcohol EVEN NOW, 35 years after 'The Sixties'. Like Bill Hicks asks - if there are people being rowdy, obnoxious and dangerous in a public place are they drunk or are they stoned? They're drunk, of course. Case closed.
A Happy Summer Solstice to you all!

I have made the mistake of working today (I try not to work on Equinoxes and Solstices, the only 'holiday's' I take seriously, as they are real cosmic events, not local superstitions. Hey ho.

A particular big hello to Walter, as I have just downloaded the Astrolog software, which is a small download (elegant in design) but has so many functions I don't know quite where to begin. I have linked to Walter's 'Labyrinth' site since I first put up the webpage about my film work - as I had failed to expand on my own experiences on the movie, and wanted people to have more information, if necessary.

Friday, June 20, 2003

I thought today deserved something a bit more light-hearted. Julie and I celebrated five years together, last night.

It was a beautiful morning, this morning, and I remembered a day many years ago when I was swimming in the Pacific Ocean, off Bolinas Beach, and it was a bit overcast, and I said to a companion 'it would be perfect, if only the sun came out'. And he replied, rather sternly, 'this is the only day we've got!' A real fierce old Here-and Now message. We hippies were quite fierce with each other, when it came to staying aware....

All of which brings me to this old Sanskrit poem:

Look well to this day

For it is life

The very best of life.

In its brief course lie all

The realities and truths of existence,

The joy of growth, the splendour of action,

The glory of power.

For yesterday is but a memory.

And tomorrow is only a vision.

But today well lived

Makes every yesterday a memory of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore to this day.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I am receiving 'good books' so fast now I can't keep up. I just had placed into my hands "The Best Democracy that Money can Buy" by Greg Palast. If you can't get the book (or don't have time to read) go look at his website

Remember how Bush got elected after some fumbling in Florida? It was like watching a little kid do a card trick. You may not have known exactly what was going on, but there was so much fiddling, and shuffling, and furtive behaviour you KNEW something was going on that wasn't magical.

Well, Greg will tell you how they removed Democrats, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc from the voting list by the thousand, so Bush could be slipped in by a few hundred votes. Check it out, and weep.

And if this is new news to you, you probably live in The USA.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Please don't read these as 'finished thoughts'.

I have spent years thinking about some of these things, and the weblog often just contains notes to myself.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about 'money' and 'wealth'.

As an old hippie, living in an affluent (effluent) UK whose wealth came from exploiting the planet through Empire-building, I already despised what had happened before I was born, but was only really interested in what I could DO about it. The first thing was to resign from the System. I didn't claim benefits through the Welfare State, and didn't pay taxes for many years (except for those indirect ones 'they' cunningly placed, like VAT, the tax on alcohol and tobacco, etc.)

After a long period of wondering how to survive, I ended up as a street performer - my 'pitch' being that if you were amused, and wanted to see me there again the next day, you would have to contribute enough for me to eat and find somewhere to sleep. Enough people gave me cash in those years that I got through this phase. Essentially, these was 'gifts', freely given from one individual to another. No interest, no promises.

Nowadays, street performers have to get public liability insurance, pay self-employed National Insurance stamps, etc. It doesn't take long for the 'System' to integrate you.

Still, I enjoyed the period in which I earned and spent 'cash'. It's a precarious way to live, in a society which uses long-term planning and commitment of resources. If houses were all to be bought by people working the way I did then they would cost about ?£10,000 (a just about feasible amount to 'save' up'). Because you can promise your life earnings away to a mortgage, you can multiply your current earnings (and future earnings plus speculative promotions) to come up with a sum you can 'afford to borrow'. That's what the house costs you - everything you may ever earn.

I guess the illusion of stability allows this sort of gamble. The two generations before me had a couple of wars, The Great Depression, and other reminders that promises might be hard to keep in a changing world.

Still, voluntary 'wage slavery' has its benefits. The huge card castle of debt that the UK and the USA are now living on (far higher than any Third World Debt - which is a parallel debt we hope will pay off our own extravagance) does worry me slightly.

partt of the reason is that, having reached the age of 52, more or less standing back from this system, I joined the library service, and now get low wages which encourage the tendency to borrow against theoretical (speculative) earnings in the future. I haven't gone far into debt, but enough to worry me...I got a credit card to be able to shop on the Internet, and that alone has started eating up my earnings in paying 'Interest'.

Now, charging 'Interest' is the root of the problem. Usury, they call it in the Bible. In systems theory this is a positive feedback loop (in simple terms, the HOWL you get from speakers when a microphone is put in front of them - and you know how excruciating that is!)

Ecological and balanced systems use negative feedback loops to stabilise themselves. The simple model for this is the thermostat in central heating systems - TOO HOT? Turn it off. TOO COLD? Turn it on again.

Of course, someone has to decide on the parameters of the settings. Set them too close together and the system goes into oscillations OFF?ON?OFF?ON?OFF?ON?

Notes to self, like I say. I am reading an excellent book on Money, and Local Currencies, called "Money, Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender" by Thomas H Greco, Jr.

The Introduction is by Vicki Robin, author of 'Your Money or Your Life'.
Why not visit her site, and look at the 9 Step program?

and look at the Simple Living website

Saturday, June 14, 2003

As you may gather, I am apparently a skeptic about most things. I could refer you to Michael Shermer's site at

or his book, Why People Believe Weird Things. It would all relate to why Richard Dawkins thinks of religions as mind viruses (dangerous memes).

If it will amuse you, look at his savaging of the numerology of The Bible Code, in the latest Scientific American.

Thriil! as David Thomas searches through the book Bible Code II, and uncovers this secret sentence: "the Bible code is a silly, dumb, fake, false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax" using their own techniques!

At the last gasp, however, some of the extreme skeptics are as badly fanatic as the True Believers (Some of the guys at PSICOP spring to mind). It's not that I don't agree with The Amazing Randi, and Martin Gardner (that we delude ourselves a lot of the time) it's just that they don't seem to find that fascinating in itself! I really do think we have to leave a gap for stuff we don't know for sure. Hence my liking for Robert Anton Wilson.

I am also reading a book called Straw Dogs, which not only argues (as I argue) that Western Christian culture has caused terrible problems by believing humans are a 'special creation' separate from the rest of Nature, but points out how the same arrogant belief has been smuggled back in by 'humanists' who still seem to be saying that humans are somehow 'special' and superior to the rest of Life. A dangerous belief when you are entirely dependent on a Vast Active Living Intelligent System like Gaia.

I found myself defending the sociobiological position (hated as a right-wing tendency by socialist and feminist friends alike - they fear more social Darwinism and Eugenics) just because I feel embedded in a continuum of living beings, and I think people are in denial if they try to pretend that we are not descended from animals...and that we carry all sorts of leftover traces of those origins.

I agree we shouldn't base social policies on 'Men are aggressive, women are submissive' and other such crass simplifications, but it also seems obviously true to me that men can not be sure they are the father, whereas mothers can be sure it is their child, and that this reality might affect their mating behaviour as it does every other animal. That women can only have (say) 20 children, but that males could (in theory) have hundreds. That a lot of cultural patterns seem to have evolved around suspicion and control of the female, and reckless 'spreading of seed' by males. I know we CAN override some of our 'animalistic' motives (with our 'superior' brains) but to deny that they exist at all, and claim we are all born exactly equal, and that all differences come from differences in Nurture seems like a deep evasion to me.

It just seems weird to me to ignore modern biological studies and retreat into some empty claim that humans are the only conscious beings, that we are the only intelligent ones, the only ones who feel pain, etc.

That degree of separation seems scary and dangerous, to me.

Call me an animist, pantheist, taoist, what you will...

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I know my interest in Burroughs seems odd to some of my friends, but I have always enjoyed intelligent people, and particularly people expressing themselves in writing - so I overlook all the other stuff. His misogyny reminds me of W.C.Fields (it's a routine), and that's the truth. To me he is (like Samuel Beckett) hilariously funny under the deadpan, and a lot of people miss that (or just don't share that sort of hangdog humor).

So, if you are easily shocked, or worry about non-PC behaviour and attitudes, you'd better let Bill Burroughs pass by.....(and Bill Fields, most likely).

Monday, June 09, 2003

In case you are wondering why the title of the blog changed (again!) - I bought a book on Laurie Anderson in Paris, and that reminded me of a tape I used to have - 'Home of the Brave' - which contains a track with that title, but which got lost on some circus tour or other...

I went out and bought a secondhand copy of this, on CD, and am enjoying it as much as before.

Hence the change.

Start here, if you don't know what I am talking about, but only if you care...

Most relevant to the virus theme might be the Electronic Revolution text (which I used to have in a book called The Job, but is online on this site).
Went to a circus party on Saturday night. All-nighter.

I don't remember much, after the dawn. Woke up on the sofa - missed the AGM. Hey ho.....

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I had a great chat with HR and John Coppinger tonight. John was being interviewed online, and I spoke to Lars briefly, but the IM windows got confused (blame Trillian) and we were talking across each other. Sorry Lars - it was all on one screen to me, like a noisy party!

HR showed me a greeting on Lars' site here and as Babelfish couldn't do Danish, HR translated it for me. It was a birthday greeting (Feb 14th), and I was very is a quick translation which HR sent me:

"Hr Nielsen: A Birthday greeting.

I'm honored to inform that one of the greatest, most famous and best remembered puppeteers to ever have performed Jabba's left arm is turning 57 today.

His name is Toby Philpott, and his father was the first to ever do puppeteering on tv. His mother was an actress.

When he was younger he travelled the world as juggler, magician, fire eater and everything else he could think about

His job in Return Of The Jedi was to control Jabba's left arm, tongue and body movements.

He now, besides a son, has a huge fan following, and even though he describes his part of the Star Wars saga as being a minor part we should always remember that without people like Toby Philpott Jabba would have never come to life and eaten that frog.

Hr Nielsen: That is what it said"

Many thanks to HR (as ever) and to Lars and to all well-wishers. I am very grateful for all your good wishes.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

As usual, I'd like to plug The Ecologist magazine - look at a sample of its current issue. You can find the text of the article on Stanley Milgram's scary experiment to see how easily we are led by our do awful things with a clear conscience.

If you can get a copy, I also recommend the article on Carnival (pp 14/15); the piece on the Wichi tribe (find out more here), and the gag about Harry the Hawk on page 16.

One of the joys of working in a library (even for low pay) is that I get to see all the magazines as they come's the equivalent of earning quite a bit more to have access to DVDs, CDs, books, magazines and newspapers....

Monday, June 02, 2003

It was interesting to find that the first signed images I gave away are now on offer online at £25. Phew! I don't know if any get sold, of course, although I did find one offered on a Japanese site. And you can buy a card for £7 here (I got devalued from £8)

I still give some away, for goodness sake.

Anyone wants one, why not email me, and get one for less.

What you do with it afterwards is your own choice, I guess. I prefer to personalise them for people's private collections or gifts.

Not that anyone is out here reading this......................... herherehrherherherherher!
I am sitting at one of the public terminals in the library. Just checking on a Monday morning. It is one week to go to the change of library computer systems - this is something many staff have been through before (about every five years) but it is a first time experience for me, and I am supposed to know how it all works (!)

A bit anxious, shall we say.....
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