Tag: politics

Clucked!

Here’s a further find from my furious foragings …

They ask if he would care to rule the roost -
Too chicken, me! he says and turns them down.
Responsibility's not quite his thing -
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

And then they come a-pecking on his door -
Carte blanche, they say, to come and do it his way!
See how they trust him - gullible buffoons! -
So keen are they to have their bright new day!

OK, he gives them that - but just the one -
To wave their little flags and scoff their cakes.
The morning after that, he cracks the whip -
The dream's asleep when real nightmare wakes.

The more it hurts, the deeper their devotion.
O punish us, great monarch, we are dirt!
And never do they seek his abdication,
While each endures the itch of rough hair-shirt.

By then he loves unquestioning obedience,
A pampered prince and lord of all he saw!
They never know their minds - this captive audience! -  
Once he's made 'thinking hard' against the law.

They teach his book (on etiquette) in schools.
It tells them what to do and what to say.
They have no need of any other rules.
He whistles as they learn to act his way.

To make them love him more, he stages death -
Pronouncements from the palace, funeral rites -
But lo! a miracle resuscitation,
A strong man never giving up such fights!

And back he comes, a phoenix from the ashes
That bears bold news of bliss beyond the grave -
How only those that do his will may gain it -
How those that disobey him won't be saved.

The royal scam - abandoning commitments
And making sure his subjects feel the blame.
He tears up their petitions, spends their money -  
Fast cars and faster persons on the game!



Image result for chicken politics


Image: Savage Chickens

Alphabetti Spaghetti

Here’s one I did earlier – thought it deserved its moment in the sun before they shut the window of satirical opportunity and return us to our customary state of well-governed happiness and contentment.

On second thoughts, to misquote Captain Oates, we may be some time … 

Plan A is lost – Plan B will cost
Plan C‘s just schemes – Plan D is dreams
Plan E‘s no fun – Plan F won’t come
Plan G‘s G Plan – Plan H they’ll ban
Plan I is pants – Plan J no chance
Plan K needs facts and counteracts
Plan L – Plans M and N are wool
Plan O is cock – Plan P is bull
Plan Q‘s half-baked – Plans R, S, T
Are shelved – Plan U is for the birds
Plans V and W – mostly random words
Plan X is feared – Plan Y‘s just weird
We’d better get Plan Z prepared

 

Image result for insomnia

 

Image: BBC

Unsocial Climbing – a story in 100 words

You and I, my friends, we stand side-by-side. Others, envious of our beautiful bond, seek to divide us. Look, they shriek, that gulf between my wealth and your poverty!

Don’t let them worry you. Turns out we’re on the same ladder, different rungs is all. Up here it’s raining golden eggs, believe me! Stick around and pick my brain on how to climb good. Things they don’t tell you.

Like they give some folk that can’t climb a helping hand. You elbowed out while these raid the nest. Silent majority won’t squeak, they reckon.

They reckoned without me. Your voice.

 

Image result for jack and the beanstalk

 

Image: Math Tutoring & Learning Centers | Mathnasium

Stimulus: majority, raid and brain from https://randomwordgenerator.com/

Snowflakes

How do you feel about Facebook? Is it a wonderful gift to improved human communication or a divisive force that’s driving us all into echo chambers and filter bubbles?

It’s certainly getting more hectic. At least, my feed is. I’ve never ‘unfriended’ anybody, you see, so get to read stuff from all sides of the political spectrum.

Most of the time I’m just a spectator, watching the clumsy wrangling and immature name-calling unfold like a slo-mo pie-fight – or else a desperate scrap in the dark that makes me feel somewhat nostalgic for my old school debating-society with its dignified dance of thrust and counter-thrust. A choreographed verbal joust conducted face-to-face and a friendly handshake at the end …

Maybe I’m looking back through rose-tinted spectacles. It’s tempting to paint our youth as a golden age when everything was hunky-dory, buffeted and bruised as we are by an ever-changing present. Something of this same injured innocence fuels the following Facebook post – received yesterday – although its increasingly bizarre and highly unlikely turn of events reveals the underlying message to be anything but innocent:

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Phew! Where on earth does one start? Well, we are expected to sympathise with the protagonist – a poor martyred victim of ‘political correctness gone mad’ – when the reality this implausible fable seeks to obscure is almost its opposite. In real life the social groups mentioned are victims of inequality, yet here they are implausibly caricatured as oppressors in a sinister conspiracy. If there’s anything truly sinister going on, however, it lurks between the lines of this hysterical little story.

That’s between you and me, of course. In the public arena of Facebook the mask must remain in place. Sometimes it seems that only two questions are permitted:

  • What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke?
  • What’s the matter, can’t you feel my pain?

Oddly, the passive-aggressive post above managed to combine them both. This stuff is fiendishly difficult to answer because it’s quite artfully done – it may be that art itself is the answer. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Let the battle of the stories commence!

Image result for comedy tragedy masks

Bearing this in mind, I responded with the following Facebook reply:

By a curious coincidence … made a group of snow figures holding hands to represent tolerance between people of different genders, races, faiths, nationalities, political viewpoints and sexual orientations. Just woke up after a well-deserved nap and looked out through broken windows to see they’d all been flattened. Left here wondering who I could have offended …

So far, I’ve got one Like. Not being dramatic – well, OK, being dramatic! – that’s somebody else who’s stumbled into the soundproof silo … sssh! … perhaps another snowflake. Nothing wrong with snowflakes. I hereby take the word as a badge of honour …

Image result for snowflake

My favourite riposte to the derogatory use of this word came from comedian John Cleese:

After one unamused follower used the term ‘snowflake’ as an insult, Cleese, 78, couldn’t resist tweeting a response. Adding his trademark humour, of course.

In his cutting reply, Cleese said: ‘Yes I’ve heard this word. I think sociopaths use it in an attempt to discredit the notion of empathy.’

Next post: How to Tell a Good Story!

Pushing at an Open Door

P rod a leaden sleeper, does he breathe?
R ile a spouting bigot, watch him seethe!
O pen up a can of worms for fun.
V olunteer to fight without a gun.
O perate a comic hit-and-run.
K ill the rush to scapegoat weak and poor.
E levate the right of all to more.

 

Image result for can of worms

 

Image: San Diego Reader

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Provoke

What’s Your Story?

I was struck by how well the following extract seems to fit my previous post, the Marshal Amp monologue, which features a character who rejects hard evidence that goes against his favourite story:

Stories are the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand.

When we encounter a complex issue and try to understand it, what we look for is not consistent and reliable facts but a consistent and comprehensible story. When we ask ourselves whether something “makes sense”, the “sense” we seek is not rationality, as scientists and philosophers perceive it, but narrative fidelity. Does what we are hearing reflect the way we expect humans and the world to behave? Does it hang together? Does it progress as stories should progress?

A string of facts, however well attested, will not correct or dislodge a powerful story. The only response it is likely to provoke is indignation: people often angrily deny facts that clash with the narrative “truth” established in their minds. The only thing that can displace a story is a story. Those who tell the stories run the world.

The extract is from a newspaper article by environment campaigner George Monbiot who makes a powerful case for replacing our old, cantankerous narratives with a new and kinder story. The full article is quite long but, in my opinion, well worth a read:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/09/george-monbiot-how-de-we-get-out-of-this-mess

 

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Image: TED.com

Non, je ne regrette rien (3/3)

Brave title, huh? And what a carefree fool was I to fill the first two parts of a three-part series with random musings in the vain hope that I would somehow be able to pull them all together in the third! My cousin’s beagle springs to mind, that sad mutt who follows threads of criss-crossing scent in the vain hope of catching something significant.

Do I regret starting this wild goose chase? Not allowed to, am I, with a title like the one above? So, nose to the ground and away we go!

My confessed failure as a systematic thinker means that I set great store by the intense moments of revelation that James Joyce called ‘epiphanies’ where all is seen, felt and understood in a flash. Art has a vital role in deepening our receptivity to such moments – my previous examples were the Charlton Heston character watching Woodstock and Joni Mitchell’s characteristic flashes of insight, so what better than to bring the two together?

You had to be there, right?

Well, no, Joni never made it to Woodstock because of the chaos on the roads. Frustrated by their absence from that epoch-defining gathering, she and Stephen Stills wrote this anthem while holed up in a New York hotel. It’s a song not of complacent hedonism but of aspiration and desire, the sources of its undeniable power. The future has yet to be found.

Just as great art is never an expression of unalloyed joy, so breakthrough science is never satisfied with untested hypotheses. We trust art when it confronts pain and we trust science when it battles falsehood. Fundamentalists of all stripes seek to limit the freedom and scope of art and science in favour of their own unquestioned nostrums.

Intolerant versions of all the major religions threaten to plunge the world into a new dark age of childish irrationality. Runaway nationalism threatens to raise the drawbridge behind globalism’s lucky winners, leaving the losers out in the cold. These scourges are the twin evils of Ignorance and Want that Charles Dickens unforgettably personified as two poor children 175 years ago in his deeply moral fable A Christmas Carol.

Image result for ignorance and want

And behind all this – some might say, a root cause of these problems – lies the pernicious philosophy that humankind is no more than the sum of its wants and preferences as expressed in a global market place. Inequality within nations espousing these mean-spirited notions is as bad as it was when Dickens worked himself to death in a supreme artistic effort to change hearts and minds. A new dark age looms where there is no such thing as community, where price is mistaken for value and where austerity bears down on the poor.  Here children are taught that the only status they can expect to be conferred on them in life is as consumers. Their parents, hardly less brainwashed, pass on a model of lifelong infantilism where the only gratification is consumption of poor-quality products.

Forgive my intemperance. I’ve just been reading a newspaper article which exposes the shortcomings of neoliberalism. It’s long but worth the effort, in my opinion.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world

And tomorrow we look after our 3-year-old granddaughter. We probably won’t play with her shop-bought toys but instead devise scenarios using pebbles, sticks from the garden, string, coloured chalk and kitchen pans. This will be her idea. I just go along with it. She seems to know what she’s doing.

Oh, and clothes-pegs … she loves the Woodentops. She can impersonate that baby to a T!

What I would regret would be to leave her with a world in an unstoppable vortex of ignorance, want and greed … or, more precisely, to leave her in such crazy turbulence without saying or doing something about it.

So here’s a shot across the bows. Whatever happened to freedom, equality and solidarity? And what on earth is so funny about peace, love and understanding?