Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Speculation on the food markets works on the basis that you buy all the food, then sell it on for more money before you actually have to take delivery of it (Hence why you never see top investment banks wading through tonnes of corn dumped at their door to get to work). You do absolutely nothing to increase the value of this food, other than buy it at a slightly lower than market rate (the farmer/group should accept on the basis that, although they MAY get more, can they risk it? This is corn, not gold, it'll go off.) and then sell it on for as much as you can. The money in between these two prices is almost all profit. The good thing about food as an investment is that food will very rarely go out of fashion, since we need it to survive (You rarely see someone at a street corner begging for money to buy a few ounces of gold, do you?). Basically, food prices go up because people aren't really fond of starving to death, and the banks, acting as middlemen, rake in money.
It sounds like a good plan, crush the world's poorest and most vulnerable beneath the mighty boot of capitalism. It's ironic that the greatest and good of the policy of "Let the poor starve" are by and large, Christian nations. It's deeply hard to try and marry the morals preached by Christ with the avarice (7 deadly sins, fact fans) displayed by this policy of short-termism. There was the lesser known parable of Jesus, whereupon he has 5 loaves and two fish, demands an asking price from audience members and starts a bidding war for the bonds guaranteeing the promise of 2.5 loaves and a fish, driving the crowd into a frenzy where 4998 starved to death, but the two richest had a delightful lunch on the hill.
Why do we do stupid, morally bankrupt things, and call them "Good", whilst perfectly normal habits are labelled as bad? "MARIJUANA?! 10 years in prison!" says the Judge. "No, no, you misheard, I'm an investment banker." said our suited friend. "Oh. You collapsed the world economy with fiscal irresponsibility and reckless financial short-termism, along with artificially raising the world's food prices to squeeze the world's poor and watch as they starve. Here's your £2 million bonus. Thank god you didn't dare smoke something in the comfort of your own home.".
The whole thing is odd. I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed. I feel like the World's mum after he comes in late one night without telling us where he's been.
Of course, perhaps I shouldn't rage against the entire world. Perhaps I should just make a microcosm within that world my own and try and live within it, as someone advised. Hypothetically, in the future, coming home from work, I find my loving family at home. "On the upside, none of us have killed the world's most vulnerable today...Wait, Timmy, is that a starving Chinese woman under your desk?!"
"LET ME SEE, TIMMY!"
"NO! No! You can't see her! I mean, there's nothing to see!"
"Were you going to oppress her under the auspices of financial gain for the already-wealthy?"
"You're not my real dad!"
Capitalism is over-rated, at best. It's might as well be called "Screw the poor, I'm not rich enough yet"ism. This constant societal desire to display wealth unsettles me. "I'm not poor, I'm well off! Well, no, the bank owns my house, and the loan company technically own my car and sofa and TV, and I'm in crippling long-term debt that stops me living the life I truly want to lead. But I'm only 16 to 20 years (depending on windfalls from dead relatives) from being the proud owner of all the stuff I've long since thrown away!"
The marketplace is crying out for more regulation. Money-making, within reason, is an acceptable pursuit to partake in, like squash, or knitting. But when it spirals out of control, and the only way to win at squash is to start sacrificing human lives before every game, you need to put a lid on it. In a very real sense, this is the old ethical dilemma of "Would you kill a total stranger for £1 million?" and, in the case of the banks, the answer seems to be overwhelmingly "Yes.".
Monday, 30 May 2011
1. Christian Salvation
The Caterpillar represents one of us human beings, specifically, a non-Christian human being. He spends Monday through Friday indulging in the fruits of sin, Saturday indulging in guilt pleasures, which cause him to be ill (The conscience enacting its Catholic revenge on our tubular friend) before finally, on Sunday, he tastes the leaf of salvation, is cured of his guilt, and metamorphoses into the angelic being that is the butterfly, shedding his pointless, furry body. Obviously, this is just one interpretation.
2. Russia under Communism
The regimented structure of the Caterpillar's diet clearly represents the brutal totalitarianism and dictator structure under Stalin, whilst the Saturday spent experimenting with different foodstuffs (Outside of the expected fruits, but not specifically a leaf) represents the transitional period, when Soviet rule was relaxed and many young Russians enjoyed a freedom they had not had in the past, and experimented with new things. Then, Russia, finally, takes the leaf of capitalism, and transforms from a seemingly backwards communist nation into the angelic butterfly that dominates the map today. Remarkably prescient of the author, given that the book was written in 1969, and the USSR didn't collapse until 2 decades later, but all we can assume is that authors of children's books know more about global politics than we think. JK Rowling certainly keeps warning her closest allies about the danger Iran poses to the modern west (Not true).
Just two examples of the hidden depths to this much-loved children's classic, that you may never have known about. I advise you to peruse it at your leisure and see how hungry that caterpillar is. Hungry for salvation? Hungry for capitalism? It's hard to say, all I can do is point out the connections.
Monday, 23 May 2011
I drifted aimlessly to the Daily Mail website, with the obviously high expectations one has when one flits over to the portal of journalistic excellence that is their website. Within literally nanoseconds (Several thousand nanoseconds, but still, technically, nanoseconds) these high hopes were crushed like a cartoon character who was woefully caught beneath a falling anvil or piano, or one tonne weight. Dismayed, my optimism turned quickly to bitter “What the hell, Daily Mail!?” exclamations ringing around my head. Still! I persevered and, located beside the stories of “Mrs Paddy McGuinness” getting a tan on her hen party (Featuring titillating images of the soon to be bride in little more than a skimpy bikini) and Paula Hamilton revealing that she was lucky enough to lose her virginity to Simon Cowell (Most personal moment of anyone’s life… Better reveal it in a national newspaper!) was a story about SHOCKING hen party antics involving teachers! Teachers, as we all know, shut down after school, and rest, face down, at their desk, until 8:00 the next morning, when they are programmed to wake. So to see them, outside, having fun!? OUTRAGE! They used the word “Disgrace!”. That’s how I knew it was outrageous. Left to my own devices, I would have assumed teachers, in their own time, drinking together and going out, was fairly alright behaviour, but thank God the Daily Mail has morals far stronger than mine. The same morals that publish FAR more raunchy photos of celebrities than these teachers published of themselves. Good thing that they also think it’s tickety-boo to find your kids’ teachers on facebook, find the photos, print them off, and post them through other people’s doors with a note about how outraged you are, otherwise the mental parent who, let’s be fair, stalks their kids teachers, might look odd. Still, a parent went down to the school, and was told to “Mind his own business”, apparently. The unnamed father said “She said what she and her staff did out of school was up to them.”, which is apparently too absurd to imagine. Thank God the Mail knows it’s okay to pry into people’s private lives, which in no way affect their work. They’ve surprisingly neglected to mention the whole Syrian crisis at all, nothing about the ongoing scuffle in Libya, and WORST OF ALL, nothing about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accusing the West of rain-theft. The Daily Mail contains literally 0% of your daily required Newstrients. Everyone who reads it dies of lack of Current Affairs. Or Old Age, given that the average reader is 94 years old (That is what I like to call a “Daily Mail Fact” in that it’s not true, but is a wild exaggeration to make a point).
I like to imagine what it’s like to work at the Daily Mail, sometimes, when it’s late at night, and dark outside. I like to sit back and think about what it would be like in the offices of the Daily Mail, behind the shimmering doors and reception, the offices in which these people work. And what I imagine is a separate world, a place unto itself, where Richard Littlejohn and Paul Dacre have posters of their face on every wall, where thousands of cubicles spew out hate and anger and rage unto the world, churning out outraged columns about anything and everything, and I like to focus on one woman who works there. Let’s call her Samantha, Sam to her friends. She has blonde hair, and thinks she looks good in a skirt and those shear tights. Sam’s got a story in her hand, it doesn’t matter what it’s about, but for imagination’s sake, let’s be devils and say it’s about import of foreign apples into Britain, a nation perfectly capable of generating its own apples. She idly hums as she researches the statistics on apple consumption in the UK over the last 25 years, and asks Steve, from graphics, to knock up a quick graph of the figures. She goes to speak to the editor and asks “How do I play this story sir?” and what he does, is he directs her to a giant coin drop machine, and asks her if she wants to drop the coin this time. She giggles excitedly, and her face flushes as she grabs the Mail’s “Coin of Outrage” (A ten pence, painted black in 1994 and ceremonially repainted every year) and drops it into the top. “Ooooh, I hope I get to be FURIOUS about this!” she squees, as the coin bounces and bobbles its merry way down the wall. The circle soon reaches its fate-determined basket, which, in this case, is in fact, merely “Mildly peeved”. “Awwww.” Says Sam, as her editor says “One day you’ll get Furious, I promise.” To her. She slumps, and shuffles back to her desk, where she starts writing the story. She plays with the headlines, “”Apple Import Shock”? Naaaah….Oh, I’ve GOT IT! “Britain’s Foreign Apple Shame”!” she says in her head, and earnestly starts typing. “New figures revealed by the Office for Non-Citrus Fruits today showed that imports of apples from abroad are rising, despite Britain’s capability to easily produce our own levels of apples.”. But then the graphic comes back from Steve, via carrier pigeon (I imagine they’re still afraid of email) and she sees the downward trend in the graph, and then she thinks “Expose on Britain’s falling apple consumption?!”. She carries on with her story, all the while letting this other story slowly come through.
“Apples, from as far away as New Zealand and Japan, have been coming into the country, despite the prevalence of orchards in our own countryside. This increase in imports has come despite Britain’s falling consumption of the humble Apple. We can only ask what happened to Britain’s apples? We asked one farmer, Joseph Kipps, who said “I used to be able to produce over 4 tonnes of apples a year, but with cheaper imports and a lack of subsidies from the Office of Non-Citrus Fruits, I can only afford to run the orchard on half-capacity. Of course, this has all come from global economic speculators driving the prices down for the farmer and driving the prices up for the consumer, which makes apples even less popular, which drives our prices down even more. Most of my apples are “bought”, if I can really use that term, for a pittance by a desk in New York.””. Sam showed her story to the editor, who said he liked it, but “I want a story, not a lesson on global economics through the medium of apples. Cut down his quote a bit, luv. We’ll make a reporter of you yet.”. And with that, my mind’s eye zooms out, having taken all it can tolerate, back to the safety of home.
Sunday, 22 May 2011
David Cameron has taken out a super-injunction after the Sun took photographs of him in a Belgian hotel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was clad in little more than a skimpy negligee. The Prime Minister, aged 44, said "It's not like that! We were just discussing economic growth patterns across western Europe of the last 40 years, and how we can use that to predict growth in the manufacturing sector through these times of crisis!", whilst Ms Merkel added "Who can blame us for getting together to discuss our fiscal policies and economic plans for our respective nations? And I certainly can't do any high-level political discussion of global economics when I'm wearing anything more blood-constricting than my light bed-wear.". When grilled about the fact it was in a Belgian hotel, they said "It was a neutral location we could both travel to with relative ease, and no more should be read into the fact that it was a foreign nation, and that we booked the hotel under Mr and Mrs Smith".
One premiership footballer (Unnamed) has an injunction against any papers wishing to reveal that he is happily married, and lives a pretty great family life, and has had no extra-marital affairs. "Got to look like one of the lads" he says in court documents. The footballer, married with two lovely children, is said to pick his kids up from school after training, and play with them, in one case even helping them with their homework. "I shall not have my footballing reputation tarnished with the revelation I'm a good husband and father" the documents sum up with.
Lord Alan Sugar has a super-injunction based on the fact that, according to insider sources at Sugar Palace, he consumes nothing but swan (whilst murmuring appreciation of the Queen) and lobster (Which he is said to eat with a specially constructed miniature trident whilst pretending he is sea-god Poseidon). "This could severely damage my reputation as a tough, East-End boy made good, you see? Slanderous against my good name!" he said, in his crisp, Oxford English, before slipping back into his alternative cockney tongue and stealing away into the night.
Richard Littlejohn, the Daily Mail columnist, has a court order banning anyone from mentioning the fact that he has over 730 signed posters of himself, addressed to himself ("To Richard, all the best, Richard Littlejohn"), hanging on the walls of his house, saying "they were all for my nephew, Richard.". Also, he has banned the UK press from commenting on the fact that, in Holland, all toilet bowls are required to be scale models of his face, despite the fact that this is well known elsewhere.
Celebrity poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, has a still valid super-injunction preventing anyone in the press from revealing his addiction to snuff, his petrifying fear of pith helmets, and his crippling dyslexia. The 14 time poet of the year, and acclaimed author of Charge of the Light Brigade, said to the court "These could be very damaging to my reputation, and I really don't feel it's in the public interest to know about my minor foibles".
Lord Sainsbury has an injunction preventing the press from revealing that he actually ages at one four-thousandth the rate of a normal man, and once fought a stegosaurus to the death in the Triassic period. The ban also prevents the press from revealing some of his lighter contributions to the world, as he invented squash and was chief weaver on the great "Bayeux Tapestry" project of the 11th century.
Legal star Cicero has an outstanding record of garnering super-injunctions for his clients and, indeed, himself. It wasn't until the 2000 year clause he put into his own super-injunction expired that we could learn of it, and it is that he stopped the press talking about his record of super-injunction verdicts by judges. He famously got Lucius Licinius Murena off electoral bribery, but he also got a super-injunction preventing anyone from mentioning it (On pain of death by lion), until he published his book "Pro Murena", a series of essays on his speeches. This was to become a staple of his successful court cases in the future, which we only found out recently, leading to his nickname "Marcus Gaggius".
Some (Or more realistically, all) of these may not be true. But since the public isn't allowed to know facts anymore, it seems that making up lies is the last thing we have left. I don't much care for celebrity tattle-tales, but one day, something important is going to be withheld from us on the grounds of privacy with these precedents set, and that is a thought I cannot bear.
Facts about super-injunctions! The super-injunction is the precursor to the next legal level, a super-duper-injunction. I wish I could tell you more about the SDI, but then I'd have to kill you. Given the number of celebrities who have them for infidelity, they are commonly referred to as "Blooper-injunctions". 2 famous cows have Mooper-injunctions, whilst several A-list potatoes have Tuber-Injunctions.
Monday, 2 May 2011
Still, I think this is taking away from the magnificent opulence of the occasion, the trifling issue of a civil uprising, and isn't this wedding meant to make us forget that there is anything other than sheer joy and happiness in the world? Before I watched it, I doubted such a thing could be possible, but after watching it, I emerged with a beatific smile and the outward radiance of the thousand glowing suns that warmed my heart's cockles to such extreme temperatures that I was veritably burning with delight, and from this zen-like plane of joy that I now exist on, I cannot see the poor or hungry or ill in the world. Buddhists all over the world will have watched and felt they wasted their lives pursuing happiness that the marriage of two total strangers could give them in a single day.
I certainly think this lived up to the hype in the papers as "The most important event ever to occur in the entire history of humanity", and that Kate is, unarguably, the single most attractive woman to have ever walked the Earth, and possibly the prettiest being in all of our universe. I didn't think it could match up to that level of expectation, but in fact, if you could capture my delight at the event and sell it, you would instantly cure not only depression, but also make it stop raining, make any hair totally manageable on any occasion, and cut crime by 122%. The 22% is people doing extra good deeds because they're so happy. That's how potent this delight is.
Of course, it was a VERY opulent event. Here are some facts about the Royal Wedding, in statistic form: All the choir boys were specially castrated for the wedding, they had to prepare 12 years in advance and plant oak trees in strategic locations across the Abbey and over 6000 square feet of red carpet were required for the floor. 600 elephants had to be slain to get enough perfect ivory for the keys on the organ, and cumulatively, from their homes, the guests traveled round the Earth 4 times to get to the wedding. More horses died in the Royal Wedding than in the Grand National. Some, or all, of these statistics, may be wrong. I make no guarantees about accuracy of facts.
It's a well-known fact that little or no actual news happened on this most joyous of days, as soldiers fell, weeping, to their knees, and disarmed themselves in glorious celebration of the marriage, and poverty-stricken nations found themselves inundated with, not food, but the milk of human kindness, a viable food alternative (Nutritional content including 100% of your RDA of joy, and 0% of everything else), whilst earthquake-and-hurricane devastated areas paused for a day as they thought how lucky they were to be living in a time where two people they didn't know could get married in a foreign country. Any actual newsworthy events committed were presumably by people who didn't find out about the wedding beforehand, and, as a gesture of goodwill, these events will be reclassified to have occurred on Thursday the 28th of April, and the people involved will not be punished.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
(I should stress, absolutely none of this actually happened. I fabricated it entirely from Wikipedia and my imagination, an intriguing mix of fact and fiction.)