Tuesday, 22 November 2016


The debate concerning Free Trade and Tariffs has been going on for a long time.

Robert Tressell's impoverished workmen discussed it in a shallow way. Some supported one because they thought they were Conservatives. Some supported the other because they thought they were Liberals. Tressel's protagonist, Frank Owen, claimed that neither approach tackled the real causes of poverty, and proclaimed that only the public ownership of the means of production could free ordinary people from their penury. This was back in about 1903, but probably far pre-dates that.

The only person I know of to have correctly called this election, and to offer a detailed and rational reason why, is John Michael Greer. Greer points out that Free Trade acts as a wealth pump, syphoning resources from weaker peripheries into a strong, imperial core. He pointed out that the only way for nations at the sucky end of that pump to get out of their predicament is to introduce some form of protectionism - something that makes trade less free. Tariffs basically. Taxing incoming goods to make them less attractive than locally produced ones.He points out too, that those at the bottom of the pile in the wealthy Imperial nation suffer as well.

If you're a worker, in either the subject or the imperial economy, dismantling the wealth pump benefits you. Your job is less likely to be outsourced. If you're better off, and can afford luxuries, such as mobile phones and tablets, you'll have to pay a lot more for them. If Apple, for example, has to pay $10 an hour to it's employees in the US, rather than $1 a day to workers in Singapore, those costs will ultimately be passed on to the consumer.
Please note, this has everything to do with Class, and nothing to do with Race.

So how do people that have spent the last couple of years campaigning against TTIP, and the last few months campaigning against Trump, deal with the news that the first thing he intends to do is to scrap TTIP?

I'm reminded of the old meme about the cat with the buttered toast strapped to it's back. Since it can neither land on it's feet (the toast always lands buttered side down, according to Murphy's Law) or the toast land butter side down (The cat always lands on it's feet according to folk wisdom) the cat levitates, spinning indefinately slightly above the ground)

Or they could resort to the lazy and disingenuous argument that Trump and his supporters are far right ideologies, with no justification for their beliefs.

Which brings me on to the next bit of my post...

The Forgotten Man.

The first time I saw this was on facebook, I think. The poster of the post that included this image decried it as racist. The guy on the bench that should be evoking the sympathies of the viewer is a white, working class everyman. Therefore this is the work of a white supremacist. Stands to reason, doesn't it? Meanwhile, Prez Obama tramples the Constitution underfoot, while applauded by a whole host of (mainly democratic) presidents.

It is undoubtedly propaganda. This artist's other work is resolutely opposed to The Democrats, and unflinchingly supportive of Republicanism.

And a quick read of Howard Zinn would quickly disavow you of any notion that the original creators of the Constitution were anything other than elitists themselves. Lincoln, Jefferson and... Reagan...(Thatcher in Kecks)  as bastions of the Working Class, confronting the elitism of  the smug, entitled blokes on the right of this picture?

Fuck that.

So this image is opinionated shallow bullshit. But it's not racist. The guy on the bench could just as easily be a Woman, or a Chicano, or a Homosexual. Perhaps he is. Both wrists are a bit limp, don't you think? The main point being made about the guy on the bench is not the colour of his skin, but the colour of his collar.

Meanwhile, ordinary folks that think of themselves as Liberals find themselves backed into a corner by slanders about the "Liberal Elite". If you're Liberal, you must be Elitist.

This too is utter fucking bollocks.

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Thursday, 17 November 2016


I signed up to an online betting website, and put a ten pound bet on Jeremy Corbyn for next PM.

Corbyn is the 9-2 favourite, followed by Boris Johnson at 11-2.

Not totally sure how things work. Do the bookies set the odds based on what bets have come in? or on what they theink the likelihood of something happening is? Presumably they have to at least start with an assumption - opening odds, but then if a lot of money goes to one place, they will lower the odds on that particular thing.

I also get 3 free £10 bets as a sweetener. I suppose I might as well use them. So I've been looking around the politics bit.

The bookies reckon that if there's another Scottish independence vote, it will be in favour. 2/5 for yes. 7/4 for no.

They also reckon the Conservatives will be most likely to get an overall majority at the next election. (8/11) with No overall majority second favourite (6/4) and a Labour Majority as a 5/1 outside chance.

Yet Corbyn is favourite for next pm?


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Sunday, 13 November 2016

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Trump

This is a song for Now.

I can't tell you how many times I've cringed when I've seen the stuff about Trump supporters on the internet and everywhere else.

Almost everyone was wrongfooted. What was really happening became hidden. It became hidden because of the internet. Face to face, people just don't behave the same way towards each other.

If you're going to be called a moron because of your voting intentions, you're not going to bother mentioning them.Take a look at how Trump supporters have been portrayed in this election.

These are millions of ordinary folks. Getting sneered at and publicly humiliated.

By Liberals.

Liberals sneering at ordinary people.

Let's let that sink in for a moment. If you've spent the last few months  posting videos of Trump supporters as idiots, well, that's what you've been doing. Putting down and belittling a whole section of society. Change Trump Supporter to Jew or Black. See how that flies. I saw an online acquaintence of long standing post stuff that suggested that women that supported Trump shouldn't be allowed to breed. Seriously. But that extreme aside, the message has been both clear and relentless. Trump is beyond the pale. His supporters are rednecks.

Rednecks = farmers and farm laborours, by the way. - ordinary working people. They worked in the fields, and the sun would burn their necks.

And Trump came up on the Libertarian Left side of things. Pro choice. Democrat supporter, other stuff I don't have to hand right now. In many respects, he's far further left than Hilary Clinton. But one of the effects of the focus on Personality is to ignore and delegitimise the actual issues

It does a couple of other things too.

One, it hardens the stance, at least in part to say "Fuck you, you snob"  It puts people on the defensive.

Two, as I mentioned above, anyone that can't be bothered with the arguing and abuse will tend to keep their opinions to themselves, so that, by volume, it appears that most people will vote the other way. Same thing happened with Brexit. Leavers were put down as racist morons, and anyconcerns they had were totally ignored. They weren't voting leave because theywere concerned about the accountability of Lawmakers, for example. They were really evil retarded pond scum. So my facebook feed was full of stories of Leavers as being, well, basically Trump Supporters. Most of the people being pilloried couldn't be arsed arguing.

Nice work, Liberals. You blindsided yourselves. Twice.

What is Trump? Where do we go from here? Buggered if I know. He's a loose cannon. He's not the new Hitler, and is a damn sight more savoury than the religious right, who were also defeated a couple of days ago, if you hadn't noticed.

PS. The election, and re-election to the post of Leader of the Labour Party of a beardy weirdy leftie, despite the opposition of just about the entire establishment springs from the same wellhead. I really should go the bookies and put a tenner on Jeremy Corbyn being the next Prime Minister.

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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Alphabet Album - O

By far the most successful and most visited blog post here is the one where I put all the alphabet/geoglyph things together. People shared it. It almost went viral.

It was an ongoing feature of this blog, and unbeknown to me, people were watching, fascinated, if only slightly, as I went from a whim to something I spent time and effort doing.

Well right now, my latest obsession is with music. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm planning to put together an album of 26 songs, all cover versions from A to Z, and I reckon a similar approach might work here.

So as I get stuff done, it will be posted on soundcloud, and embedded here. At the bottom will be a list, linking to all completed songs. When all 26 are done, I will do a big long blog post with all the tracks on , so that anyone with the inclination can listen to or share it all in one convenient place - an album.

O is for Ophelia. Originally By Kula Shaker from the album, Pilgrims Progress

I liked this on the instant I heard it, although I found the progression of the song a bit predictable. All Kula Shaker's songs seem to go the same way.
Without the song at hand, I tried to play it by ear. I got something that sounded exactly like the first chord. Then I worked out the second, then the little riff to the third, and then the third itself. Then when I listened to the song again, I found I'd transposed it about 3 notes downwards. But the effort I put into working out the arrangement got me using the third position a lot more fluently. I'm really getting to grips with the middle and top end of the fretboard, and that's opened things up for me.

Here's what I've done with it.


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Thursday, 10 November 2016


I got to thinking about medals. I don't mean the olympic sort. I mean the things you win for killing or dying bravely.

They're good things to earn. They accord you respect in society.

That's why Generals have so many. They're the very bravest  of all, and thus they are held in high esteem by everybody.

The awarding of medals is widespread across much of the human culture I'm familiar with. From Andorra to China. How far back in time it stretches I have no idea. I'm sure a few minutes looking would tell me all I wanted to know.

But what I was thinking about is the etymology of medal names. What came first? The medal or the name?

Clearly, something like the Victoria Cross had it's name allocated to it by the State, and it's a signpost towards the values and culture of the British State back in the 19th century. I suspect most medals do this.

But what about the Purple Heart?

Did the comissioners of the medal go to a medal designer and say "Can you design a medal called the purple heart for us please? And make it good. This is going to be a damn good medal to have." Or did they say "Can you design a really shit hot medal for us please?", and what came out of it was something purple and heart shaped, after which the name got attached to it.?

If the latter, who named it? Did the name evolve or was some executive decision ordered? Perhaps there was a public vote?

Medally McMedalface.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Bring on the Trump

Interesting times we live in for sure.

Predictably enough, just like every time, the response both during and after this election from the Democratic Left is "Hey, ordinary people, you're a load of morons"

Same thing happened with Brexit. The lazy characterisation of those that supported leave as ignorant racist knuckledraggers did two things. One, it hardened their stance. Two, it meant they didn't bother arguing their views. Just kept it to themselves. Why bother, when you know full well you're just going to be reviled? So no wonder it came as a surprise.

If the dems had nominated Bernie Sanders, they might have had a chance.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Tring on the brumpets

So many permutations...

How it is inputted. How it is processed. How it is outputted.
Partly a learning curve, partly a rediscovery of methods I was using 20 years ago.

It's an incredibly complex thing, because each of the elements I've noted above contain many elements, each of which has inherent pros and cons. I work best by trial and error, but with a developing rationale behind the trials I choose to make.

So by looking at how Wave Studio interacts with the audio record/playback settings built into Windows XP, I've worked out how to play one thing, then record both it and something new onto a new audio file. It's multitracking, but it's cumulative rather than parallel, if you see what I mean. I've tended to create samples, then put them together into some kind of sonic jigsaw in the past, and results tend to be quite metronomic. This though is more fluid. It doesn't destroy the natural nuance and subtle varience that add warmth and humanity to what we hear. And the source becomes irrelevant. I can just as easily incorporate the midi guitar or a microphone or a keyboard or drum machine into this method.

In all this, I've tried to base what I do on one set of chords. The root/key is Eminor, and I'm using as a very loose template, Kula Shaker's song, "Ophelia".

Below is my first attempt using this method, warts and all. Electric guitar through ME5 on setting 1-1-1, my favourite combination of phaser/delay. Then another layer superimposed using the same kit with the same settings.

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Monday, 7 November 2016

Bring on the trumpets!

Setting up an ad hoc home recording studio means pulling together a lot of disparate things, and it's very much a work in progress.

I tidied up and made space in my room, got a few bits and bobs that I needed such as audio leads and some new guitar strings, and after many trials, I'm starting to get somewhere.

I have 2 PC's. One is a fast modern machine running windows 10, the other is a much lower spec system that's running windows XP. The XP machine is not connected to the internet. This machine has an old soundblaster card that supports playing and recording simultaneously. It will not (and cannot easily be made to) work with windows 7 or later. The modern PC has a soundcard that will not play and record at the same time.

I also have an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, and some tech that makes these guitars do interesting things. One is an old Boss ME5 multi effects unit. The other is a Fishman Tripleplay midi guitar processor. It turns a guitar into a synthesiser basically.

The midi processor comes with a suite of software that I've only really scratched the surfce of so far. They will not work on the old PC. I want the old pc to have several old programs installed that will allow me to do different things. So far I am having a few problems in this area due to the age of everything. I may have some of it on a CD somewhere, but finding it would require a lot of searching, and may anyway be too damaged to work properly.

Still, I can now play stuff, and get it into the old PC, where it can be recorded as a wave file. I can also play along with what I've done, and record that in real time. All good. The signal can come in either directly from a guitar, or through the effects unit, or from a the midi processor, via the modern pc. The signal coming out of the modern PC can be routed through the effects unit on it's way to the old PC.

The midi thing is a little disappointing, as I've not yet been able to make it all work properly. Depending on which patch I use, it has latency issues (it takes time for it to process what the finger plays, so there is a small delay in actually outputting the sound. There are also a lot of dropped notes and artefacts. Finally, he sound picks up a little interference on it's way through an audio lead from the old PC to the new.

Although I can play and record simultaneously, synchronising the playback of the wave files I'm making is not yet straightforward. I used years ago to have a cracked copy of a program called ACID loops. I cannot find it, nor can I find a copy of it online. There is a free version of it, with limited functionality, but it doesn't work on the old PC.

So, getting somewhere with it,. but not there yet. It's something to have started.

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