Waiting in an empty day.

I’m waiting in an empty day.

 

Today I have nothing to do

If you were here,

today would be full of things to do.

But it is not, it is an empty day

when the beach is un-walked,

the sea un-swum.

 

I wait, there is nothing else to do,

for I can not think of anything but you.

You are not here, the vacuum goes on,

I could read, I could drive, but to what purpose

I cannot read because my mind is full of you,

I cannot drive because I have nowhere to go.

 

The beach holds no delight,

if I sit there alone,

there is no one to splash or hold my hand.

I do not want to drink beer at the shack

for there is no one to look at

over my tepid, flat rum and some’at.

 

I can dream and sleep and think of you ,

see you in my dreams and pretend that I

can touch you and hear you laugh.

I have no desire to be awake,

for if I sleep and dream I can be with you.

My fear is that I shall loose you in my dreams.

 

And then there will only be the empty day,

once more, spent waiting,

waiting for time to pass

until the day is bright and full again

and  I can hold you in my arms,

feel your breath and look into your eyes.

 

Exrtemism Left or Right. Ignorance is bliss.

Extremism left, extremism right. Ignorance is bliss!

In England there is a rallying call from the grass roots of the labour movement that the status quo in UK has to go.  When it’s gone, it will be replaced by a workers’ utopia.  Hurrah! What a splendid idea.

“The principle of democracy has to be ground up,” says Jeremy Corbyn, as he urges supporters to vote to re-elect him as Labour leader.

“It is about breaking open this magical circle of Westminster, some of our great universities, Whitehall and the boardrooms who try to control thinking, control ideas and control the way policy is developed.”

The ‘working class’ is coming out in droves to support Corbyn, whilst his opponent, who by the way, comes out with similar rhetoric, can barely raise a roomful of supporters.  Corbyn has the dishevelled style of a true Marxist, or at least a socialist anarchist. No place here for gentile suits or smart pressed shirts. Unpolished shoes and unshaven faces are the order of the day. We who have little material wealth are one, we who have no employment are ennobled, we, who are down, will be lifted up.

In Corbyn’s message there is only one consistent message; The State will provide. How the State will provide has so far been kept secret, but leaving that to one side, this is a very attractive message.  It has goodness and generosity at its core.  The message screams that the poor will be lifted up and meek shall inherit the earth, the rich shall be sent empty away.

Who would argue against the poor being lifted up?  No one.  The question is, how?

In America, the gun carrying individualist who’s right to bear arms and innate meritocratic values are the core of another set of fundamental beliefs.

Here America, God and freedom are enshrined in Middle American values.  However, here too are the alienated lower middle classes who believe that they can escape from the drudgery brought on them by a political elite.  Lock out Muslims and Mexicans, don’t screw with us or we’ll ‘nuke’ you attitudes will change things for the better.  America will look inward, the ideas of a multicultural democratic state will be left to the mercies of the hand on heart American settler. (As long as he’s the right colour and religion.)

The grass root support of Corbyn and Trump have one thing in common, ignorance! Not of ideas but of the nature of mankind.  Yes, there is magnanimity, yes, there is independent strength. But there are many other key strengths and weaknesses which neither left nor right can tolerate.  Democracy the middle way is much more difficult, much harder, even impossible to define, but it is the way, the only way for a civilised society.

 

 

The Olympic Dream

I’ve been up half the night watching the Olympics from Rio.  Wonderful spectacle, great athletes competing at the highest levels.  Heroic efforts, smiles and tears all the best of our human talents on show. What is there not to like? 

Well if you’re a Brit there’s much to shout about, more medals than you can shake a stick at, huge TV coverage at home and a great sense of national pride. 

However, there are many issues that spring to mind not least the contrasts between the rich and poor countries, but the differences between then 1900 and now 2016. 

Firstly the historic contrasts many of which are both astonishing and amusing. 

In 1900 no opening or closing ceremonies were held; competitions began on May 14 and ended on October 28. In total, 997 competitors took part in 19 different sports. Women took part in the games for the first time and sailor Hélène de Pourtalès became the first female Olympic champion. The decision to hold competitions on a Sunday brought protests from many American athletes, who travelled as representatives of their colleges and were expected to withdraw rather than compete on their religious day of rest. 

Most of the winners in 1900 did not receive medals, but were given cups or trophies. Professionals surprisingly competed in fencing and Albert Robert Ayat (France), who won the épée for amateurs and masters, was awarded a prize of 3000 francs.

Some unusual events were contested for the only time in the history of the Games, including automobile and motorcycle racing, ballooningcricketcroquetBasque pelota, and 200m swimming obstacle race and underwater swimming. This was also the only Olympic Games in history to use live animals (pigeons) as targets during the shooting event. Three marathon runners from the United States contested the result saying the French runners who got first and second places took a short cut, and the proof was they were the only contestants not spattered with mud.

The medals were shared between six different nations. There is a debate as to whether the live pigeon shooting event was a full Olympic event, Belgian Leon Lunden shot twenty-one birds on his way to the championship. Up to thirty unofficial shooting events were also held.

Golf was played as again this year,  the 36 hole tournament was won with 82-85 by a mere one stroke.  

The women’s division was a stage for many firsts that occurred in the Olympic Games. Not only was this the first time women were ever able to compete in the Olympic Games, the women’s division was won by Margaret Abbott of Chicago Golf Club. Abbott shot a 47 over 9 holes to win and became the first ever American female to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games; second overall female. She never received a gold medal because she was given a bowl. Abbott’s mother also competed in this Olympic event and finished tied for seventh, shooting a 65. They were the first and only mother and daughter that have ever competed in the same Olympic event and at the same exact time. Margaret never knew that they were competing in the Olympics, she thought it was a normal golf tournament and died not knowing. Her children had no idea that their mother was the first ever American female gold medalist until they were contacted by University of Florida professor Paula Welch.[3] It took Welch ten years to track down Abbott’s family.

Rugby sevens was introduced in 2016 whereas is 1900 full fifteen aside rugby union was played. Three teams competed in the Rugby tournament. A French representative team defeated a team from of Frankfurt and Moseley Wanderers from England. The Moseley team had played a full game of rugby in England the day before they made the journey to Paris. They arrived in the morning, played the match in the afternoon and were back in their home country by the next morning. The proposed game between the British and German sides was cancelled and both are credited as silver medalists. The Franco-Haitian centre Constantin Henriquez become the first black gold medalist.

Dead pigeons, absent minded golfers and professional fencers all part of the glorious elite at play! A place for the likes of Bertie Wooster and caddy shack characters, but still the elite of their day.

Is 2016  so very different?  Well obviously it is, the brilliant and extravagant opening ceremony, the Brazilian Government lashing out billions on national prestige whilst the country labours in economic drudgery.  Professionals in every event, no one entering on a whim for a game of golf or tennis.

The rich nations dominate because they pour money into their athletes as the Olympic Games is now a show place for national status.  This is fine at least for them, but how about those who cannot afford to compete?

It seems that the world continues to be blighted by the contrasts between rich and poor.  We’ll see very few long distance runners from Tibet or Bangladesh, or cyclists from Rwanda.

Does this sad state negate the value of the Olympic Games?  If anyone saw the titanic struggle between Mo Farah and his adversaries, or Andy Murray and the brave Martin del Potro cannot but admire these world elite athletes and their dedication to their sport.  Let’s rejoice in their perfect attainment.

Then there is perhaps the greatest event of all, The Para-Olympics which goes a long way to granting elite status to those who have disabilities however they were attained in war or by accident of birth. Surely every bit as inspiring as the Olympics.

But let’s not forget that there may well be the fastest man or woman in the world clearing sewage or sewing sports shirts in Bangladesh.

 

Freedom of thought, the ability to discover

Freedom of thought and the ability to discover.

 

As the days go by, one sees the rapid changes all about.  It’s quite hard to take it all in and accept that things are changing and evolving in ways that sometimes don’t seem comfortable.  There are many superficial issues such as youngsters covered in Tattoos or same sex couples adopting children which we, who are longer in the tooth, find perplexing.  It is of course the prevalence of those dominant ideas that prevailed in our youth that have become our ‘idea fixe’ by habit as much by right.

 

How disappointing it is then, to see so many instances of young, so called, protestors challenging without much thought the progressive advances in science such as genetically modified crops, advanced medical scientific developments, even space science.

 

It is as if there is a denial that human ingenuity is not natural and the obvious continuation of our evolution.  That mankind is constantly adopting to the changes in his environment and challenging the future by adapting and constantly researching is surely the thing that makes the human race ‘different’.

Ants and crocodilians have chosen another route.

 

If asked if I envy the young I confess that I am full of envy, for they have the time and the opportunity to discover.  I know not what, but whatever they do discover then putting those discoveries to the service of their fellow man is surely the highest acclaim of all.

 

Naturally discoveries can be put to good and not so good ends.  It is usually the confusion of self that creates the conflict. Take for example genetically modified plants.

It was concluded (2014) that GM technology adoption had reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. This reduction in pesticide use has been ecologically beneficial, but benefits may be reduced by overuse. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

 

There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction. Nonetheless, members of the public are much less likely than scientists to perceive GM foods as safe. The legal and regulatory status of GM foods varies by country, with some nations banning or restricting them, and others permitting them with widely differing degrees of regulation.

 

These diverse opponents have objected to GM crops on several grounds, including environmental concerns, whether food produced from GM crops is safe, whether GM crops are needed to address the world’s food needs, and concerns raised by the fact these organisms are subject to intellectual property law. The protests have taken many forms including, vandalism, referenda, legislation, court action and scientific disputes. The controversies involve consumers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, non-governmental organizations and scientists. This is all happening despite the scientific consensus of ‘harmless’ and the obvious benefits as described above.  Why?  A 2016 review that reanalyzed the data from six of the main anti GM lobbies found that their statistical methodologies were flawed and did not demonstrate harm, and said that conclusions about GMO crop safety should be drawn from “the totality of the evidence… instead of far-fetched evidence from single studies”.

 

 

 

Leaving aside the commercial struggles of intellectual property rights, and proper safety checks pre -launch, there is disturbing evidence that large numbers of particularly younger people in developed countries are protesting (often maliciously) for no good reason other than their ignorance.  Allied to this lack of understanding is the anti-global sentiment that predicates that all big operators like Monsanto are ‘bad’.

 

The same goes in the ethical discussions (so-called) related to the Pharmaceutical industry.  By and large the industry pours in huge amounts of research resources, often billions, to produce a new drug. There are those who fail to see that these investments cannot and will not happen without a profitable business base.

 

Hence the antipathy of the anti-global lobby.  The fear of global power vested in commercial hands is an anathema.  What is the alternative? Well, they, the anti-globalists, have a point.  Certainly there have been many examples, especially in the natural resources business, of corrupt exploitation, usually but not always, with the cooperation of corrupt governments. However, the great majority of global businesses are constrained by reasonable values and of course the rules imposed by sovereign state governments.

 

However, this interface between commercial power, national and international governance is where the political bias influences the belief patterns of the ordinary citizens.  It here that the battle of long established religious and cultural values and progressive invention is fought.

 

The issue is our fundamental freedom and belief in the nature of our ability to discover and the need for mankind to evolve for its own survival. Whether this is stem cell research (curing disease), synthetic photosynthesis (cooling the planet), space travel (expanding our understanding of earth’s past and future), or pharmaceutical invention (prevention and cure of infection and disease) it matters not. Modern man is modern because he has evolved, we have survived and will only continue to do so if we discover the way towards tomorrow.

 

I do not want to eliminate the need for pressure groups, no one in his right mind would argue that pressure groups from ‘Green Peace’ to ‘Ban the Bomb’ have not contributed to positive change. The key issue is the education in all societies of the need to discover. To engender the attitude of positivity to inventions that set out to benefit mankind, whatever their source.

 

Will it ever come?

 

 

Political shifts on both sides of the pond.

Political shifts on both sides of the pond.

 

In my earlier blog I made the assertion that “The most powerful force in American politics today is anti-establishment fury at a system rigged by a power elite that is anti-democracy. “

 

It might surprise some that much the same sentiments are sweeping Europe and UK in particular. The manifestations though are quite different.  In the UK we have an imploding of our main opposition party ‘The Labour party.’  Democracy is again the culprit, as the Labour Party introduced the fine democratic ideal of one man one vote to select their leader from amongst its Members of Parliament.

 

Whereas the general tenet of British politics (Scotland aside) is broadly centrist, the Labour Party aroused the far left who do indeed hold anti-establishment fury at a system which appears and is by default a system rigged by a power elite.  The far left (far by UK standards) want more government, higher taxes, nationalised public services such as rail and power.  They want bigger expenditure on Welfare and the NHS in particular.

 

Where this messianic drive toward an egalitarian nirvana will lead is perhaps less well understood but the great centre ground of British politicians both Labour and Conservative agrees that the consensus is a matter of degree.

 

They all want a good safe place where well educated youngsters can join the knowledge revolution, where health care is free for all.  The argument gets more complex when the question of the distribution of wealth is concerned.  The hard left want to tax the rich, the Conservatives wish to see less Government and more incentives and a more aspirational society. The British political scene has wavered about on the centre, left and right since the Second World War and by and large the mass of the UK electorate has been relatively centre ground.

 

However, there has been an economic and social shift away from the traditional industrial core toward a financial and services driven economy which in turn has led to a substantial shift in Wealth Distribution.

The reasons are many and manifold, but clearly British society had become a more unequal social context.  Naturally those at the bottom of the economic pile fell alienated and hence as things get more exaggerated, Banker’s bonuses at one end and welfare cuts at the other, there is bound to be a polarising of opinion.

 

The latest leader of the Labour party enjoys the support of those who see themselves at the end of the queue for all sorts of things.  The disenfranchised and a modest number of left wing intellectuals support the new man Corbyn, whereas the majority of Labours MP’s do not.  The resulting hiatus is grave since the hard left activists will outvote the labour moderate alternative candidate Owen Smith who is a bit of a ‘smart Alec’ who sees himself as more electable than Corbyn and is supported by the majority of MP’s.

 

The likely outcome will be the re-election of Corbyn and a sorry opposition which over the next few years will be made more left as moderate MP’s are deselected by the constituency committees manged by the active far left.

 

The electorate though remain largely centrist and if the Conservative party become more centre left under Teresa May, as seems likely, then the labour opposition will go into terminal decline.  This of course is the opposite of what the far left want.  Like all parties that stray from the centre too far, they are likely to self-destruct or of course ‘the great revolution’ might one day come.

In the end the balance between consensual politics on the one hand and the politics of establishment elite is a fine line.  Let us hope that politicians on both sides of the pond find