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The Tom Sawyer Principle (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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A correspondent rebukes me because "if South Africa is a fully functioning democracy, the present electorate would never allow it" so I have not made myself entirely clear. I was assuming the present electorate would vote for it on the grounds they would objectively benefit from the new arrangement. That is after all what a democracy is supposed to deliver. I am not saying that it would happen in a month of Sundays but consider the position in Lebanon.

The 'world community' is presently saying, "We are not going to pull your current chestnuts out of the fire until you institute thoroughgoing reforms." How is that different from neo-colonialism? It isn't so they won't actually do this, not in a month of Sundays. Some shabby compromise will be reached, some money will be forthcoming, some improvements might happen, Lebanon could start out on the road to not being a basket case. But Lebanon too is a fully functioning democracy so, presumably, the electorate will have to go along with it all in some fashion or other.

I'm just saying there are possibilities out there if only we would stop being so prissy. A month of Sundays is only about thirty weeks.
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Mick Harper
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So, there's a drought in Brazil. That's bad. Brazil relies two-thirds on hydro-electricity, that makes it hugely bad. Cut to grim faced President Bolsanaro addressing the nation, flanked by grim-faced man and grim-faced woman. President starts speaking, man looks grimmer, woman stops looking grim and starts signing extravagantly (you have to if it's a Latin language, it's the way they talk). Her signing becomes so extravagant it starts to cross the eye-line to the presidente. No, the camera has not moved from the establishing shot (this is too serious for fancy camera work). It is impossible to concentrate on what he saying such is the distraction.

The crisis can't be that bad, I decide, if they think it is more important for deaf people who can't lipread to get the message rather than the other 99.9874% of Brazilians. Especially as El Fascismo Bolsonaro doesn't even subscribe to these liberal fetishes. What a mad world we live in.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Mick Harper wrote:
So, there's a drought in Brazil.



This is interesting.

Madagascarr, where there is also drought, is downwind of the Kalahari-Namib desert region. But as you will learn in Chapter Seven of our book, so too is Brazil.

What is going on in the Kalahari-Namib? What is going on upwind of the Kalahari Namib?
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Mick Harper
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Another goblet was that all the locals are convinced it has something to do with the wholesale conversion of the (rain) forest to vast prairies of crops and the local meteorologists and government(s) seem to agree with them despite none of these things playing any part in the orthodox hydrological cycle.

You should also check out -- if and when you can -- H2O: The Molecule That Made Us (three programmes, BBC-4, the last next Wednesday) which, while incurably folksy, has some significant things to say eg of acquifer fed agricultural water, "less than one per cent ever reaches the sea" though without saying where it does go. There is a definite shift to assuming that all the current weather anomalies are not down to global warming. There has to be something else because of course the warming is incremental, the weather events are coming thick and fast.

Things are definitely moving in our direction though not quickly enough to save the planet (if I may use that term). Or us. Or me, you've got a few extra years of grace. Look out! It's a charging rhino!
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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H2O: The Molecule That Made Us


Trying to find a copy of it.
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Mick Harper
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Who Is Evil Incarnate This Week, Marina?

Bezos was reported to be a significant investor in Altos Labs ... it is thought the firm will now open a lab within the UK Marina Hyde Guardian

And I thought this would be a good thing! But I know this is a bad thing

it was revealed that despite Amazon UK sales increasing by £1.89bn last year, the firm paid just £3.8m more corporation tax

I thought we wouldn't be losing our multinational tax dollars to Ireland and Luxembourg now we're out. And I thought we'd closed the loophole about hi-tec firms writing off profits against 'research costs'. Unless Amazon are opening research labs in Britain or something. Anyone know?
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Mick Harper
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The legal claim alleges that Giuffre “was compelled by express or implied threats by Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell, and/or Prince Andrew to engage in sexual acts with Prince Andrew, and feared death or physical injury to herself or another and other repercussions for disobeying Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew due to their powerful connections, wealth and authority”.

I'm a dab hand at creating imaginary dialogues -- everybody says so -- but I'm having difficulty with this one. "Listen, kitten, you either put out or I make sure the Firm comes after you." Nope. "I suppose you know there's a member of the Royal Protection Squad just outside that door and all I have to do is put my lips together and whistle?" Nope. "It's your choice: death or physical injury; you or someone else; express or implied; me or Eppy or Ghislaine." Nope.

"Don't even think about it. Cressida Dick is a personal friend of mine and she's the Big Banana in this burg." That's got legs. She's just been given a two-year extension to everybody's surprise. I don't believe the official reason, that her successor, a transsexual Community Officer in Solihull, is still waiting for the bits-and-bobs to settle down.
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Mick Harper
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Can I bring some common sense to the current energy crisis?

Item: Gas is a very boring, predictable, mature industry. The idea that prices will suddenly go up 400% (or whatever) is preposterous. This is an artificial glitch almost certainly orchestrated by Russia, the world's largest exporter of gas, giving the Germans a twitch over the Nordstream pipeline. If Germany had ratified it a month ago -- before their general election, rather than as they intend to, after the election -- there would have been no gas crisis at all.

Item: whenever gas prices are low, new entrants flood into the British gas supply industry because they can undercut the majors' fixed-price contracts. When gas prices are high they all go bust because they can't compete with the majors' fixed-price contracts. The promoters make lots of money because they are limited liability companies, the rest of us have to pay for all the consequent dislocation because we're a bunch of twats.

Item: if Britain (and a few others) had not sold off their gas storage centres (because gas was such a boring, predictable, mature industry) there would have been a much less dramatic gas shock and they would all have made back twenty years of gas storage costs by selling the cheap gas they had stored into the expensive gas market.

Item: High gas prices are actually good for the world (it will speed up green alternatives) and good for Britain (we have the most expensive-to-reach gas reserves in the world).

Item: motorists are not 'panic-buying'. They are behaving exactly as any prudent consumer does when supplies are not assured: they get it when they can. The government are a bunch of twats for not panicking i.e. throwing the army at the problem just to be on the safe side as soon as the fateful Sainsbury manager said, "...er... we're having a bit of difficulty at the moment because of a lack of tanker-drivers."

Item: the explanation that London and the South-east is still short of petroleum products while the north is not 'on account of having a much denser population' is so risible that it will be worth finding out what the real reason is.

Item: the world's largest exporter of petroleum products has just been given the green light to take over Newcastle United.
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Mick Harper
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Promising internecine developments at that bastion of the New Liberal World Order, Sussex University. Some poor (female) philosophy professor had pointed out that trans people are not actually biologically re-gendered and for pointing out this fact the police have had to be called in to protect her and her home from the fury of the trans lobby. "Doesn't she realise she is making trans people feel unsafe on campus," said one of them to our reporter. We sought a comment from a trans person but none are presently to be found on the Sussex campus.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Mick Harper wrote:
Promising internecine developments at that bastion of the New Liberal World Order, Sussex University. Some poor (female) philosophy professor had pointed out that trans people are not actually biologically re-gendered and for pointing out this fact the police have had to be called in to protect her and her home from the fury of the trans lobby. "Doesn't she realise she is making trans people feel unsafe on campus," said one of them to our reporter. We sought a comment from a trans person but none are presently to be found on the Sussex campus.


The concept of safe space (within the softer social sciences) has subtly morphed from one in which inhabitants opted into a space to raise or challenge ideas into one in which the lecturer can get booted out for not conforming to the latest fad. She needs to retrain in biology, and write a critique of fake science within gender studies. None of the students from the social science department (and these will be the ones protesting as the biologists will be concentrating on future careers......) would then mind as she would be outside their safe contained space.
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Mick Harper
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I think you're missing the real nub of the campaign. In the good old days, when the enemy was fascist boot boys, the argument was that allowing fascist boot boys on campus was a physical threat. Bizarre but at least arguable. Cue the hounding out of some inadequate eighteen-year-old who had joined the National Front.

Even Lefty Twats realise that you can't actually forbid free speech on campus -- well, you can but you get roundly criticised for doing so -- so they have conjoined the no-platforming idea with the physical threat idea and come to the conclusion that a woman lecturer is a physical threat. Cue the hounding out of a neo-fascist bootboy lady philosopher.

The real harm though is that every staff member knows they will be getting personal grief, and they won't be getting any thanks from admin and they certainly won't be offered a job by other admins, if they step out of line. This is all supposing that any of them are not Lefty Twats by now anyway. What was she thinking of?
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Grant



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Someone in our office is transitioning into a woman. He’s a good lad/lass so I approached him yesterday in the spirit of diversity to say good luck.
I had intended to say “what’s your name now?” but struck by her striking appearance (think Carmen Miranda) it came out as “what are you?”
It’s a minefield out there.
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Mick Harper
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I find this the hardest thing. I cannot listen to a thing they say such is the mesmeric effect of their appearance. I was a huge fan of Ariyah Nusbacher, a ubiquitous telly military specialist, then one day she was Lynette Nusbacher, and very odd looking. Over the years she has become quite a beauty in, as you say, a slightly overblown way -- I doubt if I would notice now -- but I still cannot take her seriously even though, if I force myself to listen, she is still making more sense than most of her fellow talking heads.

I often wonder if the younger crowd, brought up in the new ways, are bothered by this. The reason I ask is that, truth to tell, I haven't really come to terms with gay men. Yes, I can go through the motions but I know my heart is not in it. I keep thinking they are going to leap on me and force me to have unprotected bottom sex and when they don't I get the right hump. "What's wrong with me, then?"

Though now I reflect on the matter, I haven't really got the knack of treating women as just plain folks though admittedly, as a heavyweight intellectual, I don't have a lot of time for plain folks.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Mick Harper wrote:
I find this the hardest thing. I cannot listen to a thing they say such is the mesmeric effect of their appearance. I was a huge fan of Ariyah Nusbacher, a ubiquitous telly military specialist, then one day she was Lynette Nusbacher, and very odd looking. Over the years she has become quite a beauty in, as you say, a slightly overblown way -- I doubt if I would notice now -- but I still cannot take her seriously even though, if I force myself to listen, she is still making more sense than most of her fellow talking heads.

I often wonder if the younger crowd, brought up in the new ways, are bothered by this. The reason I ask is that, truth to tell, I haven't really come to terms with gay men. Yes, I can go through the motions but I know my heart is not in it. I keep thinking they are going to leap on me and force me to have unprotected bottom sex and when they don't I get the right hump. "What's wrong with me, then?"


Providing you keep your head down, you should be OK.
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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Providing you keep your head down, you should be OK.

Well I never... Wiley offering Mick guidance on the etiquette of homosexual intercourse.
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