Glory Holes

April 23, 2017

“Make America great again!”

A good piece of rhetoric, don’t you think? But meaning what, exactly…?

Obviously, the statement presupposes a diminution of America – specifically in its quality of ‘greatness’. But what is the precise nature of this quality? Do we, for example, believe America has been made smaller, reduced in dimension by circumstances, international or otherwise?

A simple glance at an atlas shows this not to be the case. The USA still comprises fifty states. Russia has not taken back control of Alaska…yet. In addition, the US still holds sovereignty over fourteen other territories, including Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. So no changes there, that I can see.

So where does this diminution lay?

The US has military personnel deployed in over 150 countries around the world, more than any other country in our humble biosphere – which includes both Russia and China. So no reduction there, either.

Perhaps, then, we should look to something more difficult to quantify or define: the perception of the US nation by at least some of its citizens.

Ronald Reagen, who was so good in the movie “Tennessee’s Partner” (he played Cowpoke alongside John Payne’s Tennessee), and as the bad guy Browning in ‘The Killers”, was the first US President to use the slogan ‘Make America great again’. He used it in his 1980 Presidential campaign. He, it appears, had in mind the worsening US economy (inflation skyhigh and growth low).

Bill Clinton used the same term in his 1992 Presidential campaign, so it obviously has a certain attraction to politicians and the electorate.

Perhaps then the term is about nostalgia? A craving for the past? In fact Donald Trump not only used the phrase in his chaotic Presidential campaign, he also took out copyright on it! Made it his trademark, no less! Millions of well fed Americans rallied to the cry, convinced, obviously, that the US had ‘lost’ something.

But, of course, it is this vagueness that makes the phrase so successful. It can mean so many different things to so many different people.

In an interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump stated the phrase “Make America Great Again” was a

“ look back…(to) a period of time when we were developing at the turn of the century which was a pretty wild time for this country and pretty wild in terms of building that machine, that machine was really based on entrepreneurship.”

Trump also pointed to the “late 1940s and 1950s,” as a time when, he said, “we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war, we were pretty much doing what we had to do…”

So, the phrase harks back to the 50s: a time of high employment and low inflation in the States. The American dream was then still a possibility…

But wait. Hold up there. Trump and his people aren’t after a return to the 1950s. The economic policies of the time meant that top wage earners paid 70% tax. The labour unions were strong and it was this strength that in part fuelled an almost unprecedented period of growth and prosperity in the middleclasses. And the level of employment was so high, simply because the majority of women didn’t work.

I can’t see Donald Trump & Co wishing to pay vastly increased levels of tax, can you? Nor can I see him setting up a Marxist Socialist planned society for the benefit of all!

So what then does it mean? Make America Great Again? Simple answer: NOTHING! Or put another way, it means whatever you want it to mean! It is just empty rhetoric.

In fact President Trump has already ‘trademarked’ his slogan for the next Presidential campaign. It is ‘Keep America Great!’ And the winner of the next Presidential campaign will be, I’m certain, the candidate with the best slogan. Genuine policies seem hardly to matter to anyone anymore…It’s all about pretend!

a-splatter

Diary 23rd February

Rain and wind; more wind and even more rain. The wind a scream, a beating, rising beyond comprehension.

They give these storms such innocuous names, don’t you think? This one, for example, Doris. Surely, Caligula would be more fitting? Or Rasputin? Or even Jack the feckin’ Ripper!

Let us stop, now, giving the names of women to these destructive events! It is sexist and most unfair!

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The labour party is in need of a socialist version of Robert Peel – the man who created the modern conservative party on the ruins of old toryism. There is a need (once again) to reinvent and relaunch the labour brand.

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn has been a great critic of the EU in the past. And, just like Robert Peel over Catholic Emancipation, when faced by strong opposition within his party, he jettisoned previous arguments against the EU, announcing instead support for UK membership. Both sets of arguments make a great deal of sense – but not from the mouth of the same individual.

There, any comparison between Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Robert must end!

I see Jeremy Corbyn in his years as a labour MP as a man alone – leaning so much further to the left of his party than most of his colleagues. He reminded one more of Lenin in exile in Zurich than anything else. True, for a time, Ken Livingston was Kamenev or Lunacharsky to his Lenin. Certainly Jeremy’s arrival on the scene as labour leader was as unexpected as Lenin’s arrival by choo-choo in Russia – and just as devastating.

Probably, no one was more surprised that JC himself by this unexpected promotion!

Certainly most leaders experience trouble with their party (especially in office). Every leader then has to water down the principle that he or she previously professed. JC, basically an honest individual, but greatly out of his depth, accomplishes this with such bad grace – or so it seems. Ultimately, he takes himself and his rhetoric a little too seriously.

JC will be seventy years of age come the next general election. Was it his intention to remain as leader of the labour party indefinitely? Or was his intention to transform the party from within? To change the labour party, forcing it ever leftwards, creating in the process a party to combat capitalism and bring about social revolution. To move it once and for all from Blair’s middle ground. JC’s socialism is preached in moral terms – but it is very much of the 1920s, not the 2020s. Does he understand that? And if he does, does he care?

Labour has become irrelevant to the electorate under JC in my opinion. I predict labour will lose Copeland in today’s byelection, a seat they have retained since 1924. With luck they’ll hang onto Stoke…

Down the Long Night

February 21, 2017

jeremy-mann-cityscape

Diary 20th February

And lo, it came to pass, that one consigned to the wilderness, returned. Though his disciples had rejected his ordinances – “by whose observance everyone shall live” – and cast him out into the barren desert after his many and varied failures. Yet once again, Yahweh called him to consider the future of the great nation he had once governed – governed as a sort of omnipotent autocrat, rather like Yahweh himself!

‘Don’t give up on it Tony,’ Yahweh said, his voice grave, but untroubled.

‘Is it you Lord? My God almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth? Have you come to me again?’

‘Yes…’

‘Why Lord? What do you require of me now? Is it a new war?’

And so Yahweh explained his growing conviction of a final catastrophe. ‘Brexit will end the opportunity and fulfillment that was unfolding before mankind! Madness has taken possession of the world. And your mission, Tony Blair, should you choose to accept it, is to go from this wilderness and preach my true message to your people…Only the EU can make a silk purse from this sow’s ear! It is an organization that you were born to preside over! Stop the rot, turn back the clock. Take up your crown, become EU president! Make the ignorant see; the bigoted tolerant. Turn these misguided miscreants into forward looking creatures…!’

And so it came to pass that Tony Blair, with his salesman’s smile and large self-belief, his ex-barrister’s ability to accept and argue not necessarily compatible things, made his speech suggesting democracy should be abandoned, that there should be an anti-democratic uprising of the people of the UK who voted against Brexit, and that, unable to exist without scraps from the EU table, the UK should remain a member of the EU.

Ah, doesn’t Mr Blair recognise himself as one of the reasons for the result of that terrible Brexit vote? While he was busy washing the blood from his hands after all those wars, he lost touch with ‘the people’. As Christopher Lasch stated (The Revolt of the Elites) identity politics would grow because it served the same function as religion once did:

‘The same benefits misleadingly associated with religion – security, spiritual comfort, dogmatic relief from doubt – are thought to flow from a therapeutic politics of identity. In effect, identity politics has come to serve as a substitute for religion. Or at least for the feeling of self-righteousness that is so commonly confused with religion.

These developments shed further light on the decline of democratic debate. ‘Diversity’, a slogan that looks attractive on the face of it, has come to mean the opposite of what it appears to mean. In practice, diversity turns out to legitimise a new dogmatism, in which rival minorities take shelter behind a set of beliefs impervious to rational discussion.’

Mr Blair, wealth personified, wore the borrowed robes of socialism for the briefest of moments. And then:

“Blair mixes with the Buffetts and the Gateses,” said John Kampfner, (Blair’s Wars), “where it is seen as matter of no great surprise that you arrive in a private jet. In Blairland, there is a sense of: ‘I have become part of the Davos global elite. But I haven’t been able to earn properly until now…'”

Almost single-handedly he managed to trash the New Labour brand. He made mugs of the British people. Fought wars that should never have been fought. He was an elitist who droned on and on about ‘broken Britain’.

In short, he’s toxic, baby – even with his God at his side!

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How the UK voted and why? Lord Ashcroft’s EU referendum poll, a reminder to us all.

“Nearly half (49%) of leave voters said the biggest single reason for wanting to leave the EU was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”. One third (33%) said the main reason was that leaving “offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.” Just over one in eight (13%) said remaining would mean having no choice “about how the EU expanded its membership or its powers in the years ahead.” Only just over one in twenty (6%) said their main reason was that “when it comes to trade and the economy, the UK would benefit more from being outside the EU than from being part of it.”

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Jeremy Corbin looks the part an old testament prophet, don’t you think? Just the man to lead his party on an Exodus through the wilderness. Promises of the promised land in return for their faithfulness will keep his people with him.

Why not in the process revamp his party…?

He’s going to be in the wilderness a couple of decades. He could:

Rename it: “The United Kingdom Peoples Party” or the “United Kingdom Socialist Party”. Give the party a new constitution. Form alliances with the Green party, The LibDem party, even, if necessary, the “Raving Monster We’re Left of Everything Party”!

Always remember: If you remain unelected, you will change nothing!

Nothing!

Go for electoral reform, including the introduction of some form of proportional representation. Scrap the House of Lords. Have greater local democracy and aim for a full federal system in the UK (which would make the concept of Scottish Independence redundant).

Engage with the people.

Empower the people.

Win the people.

Not that I’m holding my breath or feeling TOO expectant as to the likelihood of this prospect, but hope springs eternal, as they say.

handful

Diary 19th February

My interest in history?

It was the way our teacher approached the subject back in the day, made it so much different to my other classes. I can’t remember her name now, but I can visualize her face. I was seven years old.

It was a mixed class, boys and girls, and we all sat around listening to her, still as statues as she told us about the Stone Age, Neanderthal man and the first Homo Sapiens. It fired my imagination.

I remember working flint in the garden at home and making my own (lethal) Stone Axe, using a tree branch (suitably trimmed and stripped of bark) and twine. My first attempt at ‘historic’ reconstruction.

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Dildos are great and vibrators are fun,
But nothing beats the strength of my tongue!

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Just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean it won’t be fun…

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I felt your mouth on me as I slept. I forgot about your teeth…Ah, my sweet vampire!

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Trump, Trump, Trump…

Poor Donald seems to be floundering, out of his depth. He plays the media, of course, and they hate it. Each day in office he creates a new controversy and the media like a pack of constipated gripe hounds hurry to the sound of “their master’s voice”.

He has, without doubt, outraged the world with his attempted immigrant ban. But he’s certainly NOT the first president to do this. Back in 1882, Chester A Arthur signed his name to the ‘Chinese Exclusion Act’ banning Chinese for a period of ten years from entry into the US.

President Franklin D Roosevelt, elected four times no less, argued Jewish refugees posed a threat to US national security. Exaggerating the fear that Nazi spies could be hiding in their number, he limited the number of German Jews who could be admitted to 26,000 annually. (Less than 25% of that number were actually admitted).

Theodore Roosevelt, that tireless advocate of war and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (one should never underestimate Scandinavian wit), banned “Anarchists” from entry to the US along with sufferers of epilepsy, beggars and importers of prostitutes. It was the first time ‘the home of the brave and land of the free’ banned people because of their political beliefs.

And more recently, Jimmy Carter banned Iranians from entering the US. His attorney general, Benjamin Civiletti, ordered all Iranians with student visas to report to U.S. immigration within a month or face possible deportation. Almost 60,000 students were registered as requested, 430 were deported and 5,000 left voluntarily. There was no great outcry or gnashing of teeth at the time by the moral majority.

And then President Ronald Reagan, dear Ronnie, inventor of the Star Wars project and ex-FBI informer, banned HIV positive persons from arriving in the US. This law was influenced by homophobic and xenophobic sentiment towards Africans and minorities at the time. Again, the media paid little attention.

So perhaps the problem is NOT the immigration ban as such, but is more about President Trump’s ‘style’ of government? He is NOT seen as “presidential” by the media, possibly?

Perhaps they are comparing him with those rather dim presidents in the past? Rutherford B Hayes, for example. Hayes and his wife known as Lemonade Lucy were high society butterflies. Of course, his opponent in the 1876 election, Samuel Tilden, was elected president by a quarter of a million votes. But Congress and the Supreme court, showing they could act just as forcefully and illegally as any president, reversed the election and the poignantly blameless Rutherford became know thereafter as president Rutherfraud.

Or then again, perhaps it’s Trump’s wealth the media and his opponents take issue with? The US, of course, has never had a ‘poor’ president. Even George Washington was a millionaire (his fortune honestly acquired via marriage). From that day to this, holders of the presidential office simply became increasingly more wealthy – that had to be the case in order to finance their political campaigns. And the media flourishes on the hundreds of millions of dollars spent at election time for television advertising – air time that increasingly avoids anything political, while indulging in ever more disgraceful character assassination.

Or then again, perhaps it’s the way Donald backcombs his hair pisses off so many people? I don’t know. It’s a mystery. He’s not a very ‘revolutionary or original’ president; most of what he suggests has been done before – like the famous wall between US and Mexico,  a build already commenced by another, earlier president!

No. Ultimately, I see Donald Trump as one of the prosperous few making wide-ranging promises to the restless many – his personal goal, to depart on that magical ego trip of White House residency. But will he keep those promises? Are they even realistic or realisable? Only time will tell…

Without stick or sword

January 15, 2017

rose-freymuth-frazier-hounded

Diary 15th January

Returned yesterday from a small soirée at Goodrington Sands. It is a dog owners paradise, and most of the population seemed to be engaged in walking their dogs along the beach or promenade.

We arrived there Friday lunchtime and had a boozy lunch followed by a long walk along the beach. The wind was bitterly cold.

S, almost in tears, fears her cat may die soon; it has been very ill, and she has spent a small fortune on vets bills – but, despite every test known to man, the vets are unable to determine exactly what is wrong with the animal. They are perplexed.

S is also concerned her father will not see out this year. Hopefully she is wrong on both counts!

More booze follows.

Twilight then night, with its brood of phantoms that walk the world as sentient things. Muttered “Hullo’s”. Glimpses of the strange, profound and baffling. Circling faces and disembodied voices.

A woman, mid-fifties(?), fleshy and flashy, tells me she has a complete school uniform at home: gym-slip, white socks and big sensible navy-blue knickers. ‘You should come see me in it,’ she says. ‘A weekday’s best for me. I even have a satchel containing crayons and drawing pad.’ She passes me a slip of paper on which is written a phone number and address. ‘I play an adorable little virgin, so innocent – you can corrupt and debauch me in whatever way you desire!’

Time passing. Grotesqueries of light and shadow. The people here are all affluent, bored, over-sexed – almost parodies of themselves. Women with strange secrets in their drowsy eyes. Men, faces flushed with lust, join in the never ending dance.

A woman’s face above me: shadowy eyes, a bright red mouth, and nostrils like dark wells. There are wrinkles at the edges of her mouth and her tongue seems huge inside my mouth. Her cheeks flush scarlet and her eyes glow like little lanterns when her climax engulfs her.

A man’s whispering, Mephistophelian voice at my ear. He offers his wife, a plump forty-something, who spreads her legs to my passionless gaze. He tells me in explicit, vivid detail what he would like to see me do to her.

I comply with each of his shocking instructions.

When she cums it is like a cataclysm.

And then, in another room, another much younger woman. Incredibly vivid. Incredibly flexible. Intense and demanding in each of her movements. The surging of blood to her face, lost in pure physical sensation, and the tingling of nerve endings. The quickening of her breath and spastic motion of hip and thigh…

Finally to bed like an impotent old giant.

Unfortunately, I sleep badly. Doze and wake disoriented in my strange surroundings. Dee snoring gently beside me.

As if to reinforce the surreal experiences of the preceding evening, I watch the breakfast news on BBC. A doctor in an A&E department explains to the camera that he has no beds available. No trolleys left, either. Ambulances are backed up on the A&E ramp outside. The patients cannot be removed from the ambulances, there is nowhere to put them. Consequently, the ambulances are unable to respond to any further calls for assistance.

It’s a mess!

A crises!

Then, amazingly, the Queen of Brobdingnag, Terresa Maybe appears on screen in a different report. The problems, she explains, the NHS is currently experiencing is due in part to GPs not working evenings or weekends!

Luggnagg meets Brobdingnag.

I think I shall relocate to the land of the Houyhnhnms. It’s feckin’ safer.

After breakfast we say our goodbyes to S and her man. Drive then into Brixham. Dee wants to see the place again, a nostalgia trip. She’d last visited in her teens with AN, a girls only camping holiday…very Sapphic, I’m sure (only kidding girls).

Dee tells of the transvestite artist they met there beside the harbour. An older guy. Diabetic, with an ulcerated leg. He invited them both back to his ‘artist’s garret’ to show them his collection of clothes. He asked the girls to try them on, which they did. He sketched away like mad as they shamelessly stripped and dressed in his offered finery. An intimate, almost immemorially pagan scene.

Then he asked AN if he could try on the top she’d been wearing. She agreed, but the top was far too small and his attempts ended in seem-stretching failure.

He explained his leg was ‘killing’ him and had to sit down. AN, very kindly, changed the dressing on his leg for him…

Dee and I sat outside a café in bright sunshine. The weather was totally different from yesterday’s. We’d left Cornwall in snow flurries. And now, sitting looking out across the harbour, I could feel the sun burning my face!

Incredible!

Dee said, ‘What a glorious sunshiny day! We’ve been so lucky.’

Finally, we drove home. I felt very second-hand to be honest. Slightly hungover and jaded. Cooking a meal last night for Dee and L, I was really running on empty. I managed a glass of wine, for myself, followed by a large brandy, but no food. I went to bed at eight-thirty and fell immediately fast asleep.

Uneasy dreams followed. They always do. Gigantic shadows of men and women entwining. Faces glowing scarlet-red with excitement. Ephemeral rooms, scattered with cushions. Laughter, gently mocking. Becoming harsher –

Then waking, thankfully, to this sombre dawn.

A new day begins –

homeless

Diary 9th January

Well, England’s finally found a solution to homelessness – put ‘em all in jail!

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My heart says ‘Chocolate and wine’ but my jeans say ‘For the love of God, man, eat a feckin’ salad!’

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Went to a city bistro last month, eat Irish vegetable tagine. Unusual, but nice. Although I must confess, I had no idea that traditional Irish cooking was so heavily into tagine usage? Also our waiter, I suspect, was either very, very clumsy or had been smoking the garden again. Know what I mean?

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So what will 2017 hold for us all?

Scotland may finally attain its independence, or at least take the first faltering steps. Good for them.

Teresa Maybe will lead England and the rest of the UK off the edge of the Britex cliff and into freefall.

Donald Trump will be confronted by the four most aggressive revolutionary states (those nations pig-sick about the current status quo), Iran, North Korea, China and Russia (and no, there’s absolutely no truth that Trump and Putin will unite in a civil partnership – Vlad shares with no man!).

Our Don’s biggest challenge, of course, will be to accomplish anything at all. His near messianic belief in his own abilities will come up against Washington’s inherent abhorrence of change. I suspect I know already who will win.

keep the dark outside

December 9, 2016

a-trump-ralph-steadman-new-statesman

Diary 9th December

Well, the circus continues. In the UK Britexit is challenged in the courts, in parliament and in the media. The Lib/Dems are dedicated to its overthrow – one way or another. Labour is, as always, uncertain.

There was a referendum, the people spoke and they decided to leave the EU.

Difficult result for me as a ‘remainer’. Sure, I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the EU in my time. It’s far from perfect, and almost impossible to reform. But I felt it’d be better to remain for a wide variety of reasons.

Now, all I keep hearing is politicians saying, ‘Yes, we respect the will of the people. We’re a democracy after all, BUT…and that BUT is a way for the political class to imply, ‘The electorate, bless ‘em, don’t know their arse from their elbow! We’ll do it again (the referendum, that is) until the idiots get it right!’

I have heard both Liberal and Labour politicians argue that the electorate did NOT know what they were voting for when they voted for exit. Really. This despite hundreds of hours of radio and TV programmes devoted to a political class that promised Armageddon if the UK exited the EU!

But it’s all about self-interest, of course. Not people. Nor democracy.

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In the US, with the election of Trump, hysteria seems to have gripped large sections of the population. Or that’s the way it looks to little ol’ me, an outsider glancing in. The man isn’t yet in office, and the Trumpeter is treated as Der Trümpenführer. It’s as if a huge section of the American population have lost touch with reality.

Reminder: US Presidents CANNOT reverse Supreme Court decisions!

It’s true, boys and girls. Not Obergefell v. Hodges, nor Grutter v. Bollinger, nor any of the other important human rights decisions can be revoked – even if the Trumpeter managed to resurrect H Himmler from the buried dead, and appoint him to the Supreme Court. He couldn’t reverse these decisions without a hugely significant case coming before the courts with new facts, etc – which is unlikely to happen. And even if it did, they’d have to write an opinion stating how this case is different from the original case!

So a US President can’t repeal an existing law or write a new one.

Nor can a US President unilaterally make treaties with foreign nations.

Essentially, while US Presidents have a lot of power, it’s mostly unofficial – they can’t make sweeping laws, they can’t overturn existing rights, the most they can do is refuse to enforce laws – which would be a right royal pain in the arse all round. And I for one, don’t believe the Trumpeter wants to fall on his own sword just yet…So kittens, relax, deep breaths, the end of days is a way off yet. Give the man a chance…

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Difficult times, full of contradiction and absurdity – however, nowhere near as much absurdity as during the Great Schism, usually dated to 1054, when Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael I in Constantinople excommunicated each other – a sort of patriarchal one up-manship between two knob-heads, leading to a split between eastern and western Christianity. In fact this mutual excommunication wasn’t lifted until 1965! How crazy is that?

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I must get on, I’ve work to do…

lightening

Diary 27th November

Sunday. Up before the lark. Cold and dark, but no rain. The wind seems to have let up somewhat, which is a small blessing. To the pub, later, after a soggy walk across the moor. Drunkenness is its own consolation…

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Yesterday she said, ‘Why on earth did Aliester Crowley put that “K” on the end of magic, Peedeel?’

‘His motives were sexual,’ I replied, my attention mainly devoted to stroking the cat on my lap.

‘Of course,’ Jay-Jay said. ‘Typical Peedeel answer. It’s all about sex…’

‘Crowley needed to differentiate his brand of magic from the popular stage magic of the day. To the forefront of his mind was the initiation of all those nice boys and their virile penises. He had a vigorous sex life as a young man. Indulged himself with multitudinous street prostitutes. But, perhaps, inevitably, he eventually extended his sexual range to include homosexuality. Crowley liked best the passive role in these practices. Throughout his life he took part in the rituals of sex magic…or sex magick, if you prefer.

‘Crowley initially took the word magick from a translation of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s “De occulta philosophia libri tres”. He liked that ‘K’ because it is the eleventh letter of a number of alphabets. And eleven is a magical number, a power number attributed to the Qliphoth. More than that, however, it stands for Kteis, the vagina, counterpart to the magician’s wand or phallus. So, you see, it is very sexual…’

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A number of countries have experienced declining birth rates over the past decade. So much so that their death rates exceeded their birth rates. Germany, for example. Canada, too. Both of these countries, consequently, have opened the door to widespread immigration and their populations are now growing.

Japan, however, poor overcrowded Japan, has witnessed a huge decline in births, well under the number of deaths. And there’s no solution in sight for this problem. The Japanese hate the idea of ‘immigration’ (who does that remind you of, boys and girls?). In fact, to generalise, they hate foreigners. Traditionally it was believed in Japan that to be truly accepted in their society, one must have the blood (Japanese blood), the Japanese language, and be from Japan. It is practically impossible for a foreigner to follow the social protocols that exist throughout every level of Japanese society. Even the Japanese word for foreigner, “gaijin”, once carried the connotation of “barbarian”.

So Japan has fewer and fewer young people, but a substantial elderly population that ultimately will have no one to look after it. I suspect that Japan, and to an extent China, with their anti-immigration policies, will probably experience a shit-storm of biblical proportions before the end of this century, unless, of course, their attitudes change to immigration and outsiders.

As for the UK with its armies of ‘little Englanders’ and ‘little Scotlanders’ what can I say? We are all brothers under the skin…

And in the US? Well, they don’t have a declining birth rate, not yet. But they do have a downer on immigrants (foreigners), and apparently wish to build walls between themselves and their neighbours. Before too long, alas, they will learn those walls will make a prison from which there’ll be no easy escape; such walls will simply compound many of the ills besetting that country.

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And Caitlín R. Kiernan posted on Facebook the other day:

‘I think that tonight I am at the lowest point I’ve been since election night. I cannot imagine a way forward. I’m more than half a century old, and never in my life has our country faced such a crisis. Ignorance, stupidity, prejudice, fear, greed, selfishness, and cynicism have won out. The lessons of the American Civil War, two world wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the American Civil Rights Movement have been forgotten. We’ve allowed a grotesque billionaire clown to seize the highest office in the free world, and he’s building an administration of monstrosities. This is not business as usual. This is not Nixon, Reagan, George Bush, or W. Bush. This is not normal. Across Europe and America, populism and fascism are again on the rise – and winning. And the truth is I don’t have hope. This is so much bigger than so many seem to comprehend. Tonight, I am only afraid and exhausted and horrified.’

As are all “thinking” human beings.

a-ride-in-the-snow

Diary 20th November

They say time flows in strange ways on a Sunday. Why that should be so, I don’t know? But because of it, vision can become strangely distorted, the commonplace manifest elements of the unfamiliar – but I still bring you your usual cup of tea in bed.

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Wet and very windy outside this morning. A wild, restless night.

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The Imam’s greatest fear? A woman who can read and write apparently…

However, there are in this world any number of males, regardless of race, creed or colour, who treat women as if they were a kind of mindless masturbation device. A woman is raped in Dubai, complains to the authorities and is promptly arrested for her involvement in ‘extra marital sex’.

Unfortunately, the patriarchical society existing in the United Arab Emirates sees no difference between rape and consensual sexual intercourse. Perhaps, because these males regularly force themselves on their women, they feel this to be the norm?

The area’s human rights record generally stinks. The local interpretations of Shari’a law also stinks.

An Australian woman was recently sent to prison for 11 months after reporting a gang-rape to police. She was surprised, no doubt, to be treated like an offender rather than a victim. The bemused and bewildered police officers asked why she’d made such a complaint? Didn’t she enjoy the sex?

In the United Arab Emirates, as in many other countries using Islamic law, a rape conviction requires either a full confession from the perpetrator / s, or the testimony of four adult male witnesses to the offence! DNA evidence and medical reports count for nothing! Nor does the testimony of a woman.

The fact is, debilitating gender stereotypes and assumptions about women threaten women’s personal safety – and not just in the UAE, either.

In the United States of America reported sexual assaults against women occur statistically at the rate of one every two minutes (US Justice Department survey). According to an old Federal study, National Violence Against Women, the total figure of sexual assaults against women is nearer five every two minutes.

And in the UK approximately 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales each year (These figures are assaults by penetration and attempted penetration). Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year. One in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since attaining the age of 16 (figures come from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales).

Heartbreaking and totally unacceptable statistics. The biggest threat to women in today’s world, it would seem, is the male of the species.

In-feckin’-credible!

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Memories of school days this morning: of unexpected turmoil, teachers, traffic, telly and the torture of masses of homework. Anxiety over ‘O’ levels. First love. Heavy petting. And parents, red-faced with rage, devotedly hating each other – and so much of that hatred spilling over on me as an innocent bystander at the wreck of their marriage.

I remember it mostly as a time without smiles…

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D’you remember going for a sleigh ride in the snow on Christmas day? We were in Switzerland, remember? That old man wrapped fur blankets round us to keep out the cold, and we rode up through the trees, our breath steaming in the crystal air. It was magical, wasn’t it?

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Magic has the power to experience and fathom things which are inaccessible to human reason. For magic is a great secret wisdom; and reasoning against it is nothing else but an extreme folly.
Paracelsus, De Occulta Philosophia