A Short Musing On Disappointment

I’ve just finished breakfast. I enjoy breakfast. All that lovely tea, and toast dripping with butter. Well, it’s actually margarine but today’s chemicals can really make it taste butter-like.

I always feel a bit disappointed that it’s over for another day. The last swallow of tea washing down that final crumb of toast leaves one wishing there might just be one more mouthful. But there never is.

I suppose dying is a bit like that: a sense of disappointment in those moments before the final snuff-out, a desire for just a few moments longer before the eternal darkness, or Heaven, or Hell, reaches out and grabs one. It all depends on one’s beliefs, of course. Well, actually, it doesn’t. Belief has nothing to do with it. What will be, will be. My brother-in-law lives with eternal disappointment. He’s an ardent Christian but is permanently sad that his sister and I (equally ardent non-Christians) won’t be allowed into the family party in Heaven, consigned as we will be in his belief to the Eternal Fiery Lake.

Frankly, I can’t resist a slight sense of relief. While the Eternal Fiery Lake has its drawbacks it just may be preferable to eternity in the company of my brother-in-law and his family. Not that I consider Hell an option. These days I’m firmly of the opinion that when you’re gone, that’s it. And while I know I’ll likely feel a momentary sense of disappointment that my life’s all over, it’ll at least be my final sense of disappointment and hopefully brief.

The same cannot be said of breakfast. I wonder if I might sneak another slice of toast?

Thirsty For Technology – Or Maybe Drowning In It!

Where would we be without today’s technology? It’s a wonderful thing this digital age. Everything’s going digital. Without computers the world economy would collapse. There’d be no electricity, planes couldn’t fly straight, the whole world would come to a grinding halt.

There’d be no Twitter or Facebook. I’d have to get out of my chair to change the channel on the TV, and -oh, my God – no Amazon!

I just love technology. Years ago I had a DVD player. I’d go to the button and open the tray, place the disc thereon and press the button again to close it. While there, I’d turn on the TV and select the right channel, adjust the volume and brightness, before returning to my chair to watch the film.

Recently my wife and I purchased a Blu-ray player. It was expensive, but the very latest in modern technology. A few nights back we decided to watch a film. I had to get out of my chair to select the right disc. I knelt down on the floor and pressed the player’s on/off button, to be rewarded with the glow of a small green LED. Then I tried to open the tray, but it wouldn’t budge. Getting up off the floor, I went back to my chair, collected the remote and tried to open it with that. Nothing. The little green LED glowed balefully. I got up again, went back over to the player and tried again. Still nothing. In desperation, I pressed the ‘OFF’ button but the darned thing refused to shut down. That blasted little green LED just carried on glowing.

My wife, aware of her husband’s rapidly increasing pulse rate, suggested we just watch some TV for a while. OK, so I returned to my chair, and pressed the TV remote ‘On/Off’. The TV came on – and the Blu-ray player’s tray opened.

It’s a wonderful thing technology. Our Blu-ray player won’t open its tray unless the TV’s on because it obviously thinks to itself, “No point in opening up. They can’t view what I’d be playing because they’ve not turned on the TV. So I’ll just sit here and save my energy till they eventually realise and do something about it.”

Meanwhile I’ve made two trips from my chair to the player, twice knelt down on the floor and sworn bitterly under my breath, then had to make a third trip when the darned device finally decided to cooperate.

No doubt the next time I have to buy the latest Blu-ray player, technology will enable it to simply yell at me,”Turn on the TV first, dumb-cluck!”

Okay, so then I’ll be taking orders from my entertainment centre.

Remember maps? You know, those large sheets that enveloped you every time you tried to find the quickest route home. Then they invented map books. No more fighting yards of undisciplined, quick-to-rip, paper that insisted on turning into a tent before being flung in a crumpled heap on the back seat of the car. Map books made driving so much simpler – provided, that is, you could fathom where D42 on page 57 ended and C16 on page 65 began.

Then came the ‘Satellite Navigation System’.

“Turn right at the next junction!”

Now I’m taking orders from a digital women inside a screen in my car. But, what the hell! No more map tents or ‘D42’s on page 256’, just enter the destination and enjoy the ride. Well, most of the time. My wife named our digital woman, “Suri.” We’ve become quite attached to her. We’ve had lots of nice adventures with Suri. There was the fun time we got bogged down in mud when she took a ‘short-cut’ across a farmer’s field. Or, the twenty-five mile detour down those pretty country lanes to get to the airport, when it would have taken ten minutes on the motorway.

Then, of course, there’s the odd occasion – usually in the middle of a busy city at rush hour – when she decides to take a nap, puts up the shutters and retires, leaving a nice little note on the screen saying, “Recalculating,” over and over again. Once you’ve finally negotiated the ring roads, skimmed past the forty-ton truck, driven six times round the same roundabout, “I do think we’ve been past this supermarket before, dear!”, narrowly avoided flattening the old lady where they should never have put that zebra crossing, and escaped onto a recognisable motorway that you know will eventually take you within a mile of your home, she’ll wake-up again and chime, “In five hundred yards take the next exit on the right. Then turn left onto Dingle Brook Lane.”

“Perhaps we should buy another map book, dear?”

Technology? Where would we be without it?

Time To End The Pathetic “Russian Hacking” Story

Russia says it’s tired of America’s ‘hacking witch-hunt’:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Moscow was tired of the accusations.

He said a report released by US intelligence agencies detailing the allegations was groundless.
It is the first official reaction from Russia since President-elect Donald Trump received the report on Friday.

The unclassified report contains allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the hacking of Democratic Party emails to damage Donald Trump’s Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, and influence the election…[1]

Well, have I got news for you, Dmitri. We’re all tired of this played-out story line. It’s been kept on the boil by Western media for weeks now with no clear evidence emerging, from any source, that it’s anything more than supposition and mythology:

…In his comments on Monday, Mr Peskov said Russia “categorically denied that Moscow had been involved in any hacking attacks”.
“Groundless accusations which are not supported by anything are being rehearsed in an amateurish, unprofessional way. We don’t know what information they are actually relying on.”
The claims amounted to a “witch-hunt”, he added.

According to the BBC the unclassified report stated:

Kremlin had “clear preference” for Mr Trump to win US election, with goal to “undermine public faith in US democratic process and “denigrate” Hillary Clinton.

Russian military intelligence hacked into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and top Democrats.

They used intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 persona to release the information acquired from the hackings.

They also used state-funded propaganda and paid social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments.

Vote tallies were not affected by Russian interference.

I don’t think the Kremlin had to work too hard either to ‘denigrate’ Hilary Clinton, or ‘undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process’. The public had, in the main, already lost faith in the system, and Clinton was despised by most voters long before any “Russian interference” took place – if, indeed, there was any.

Certainly someone hacked the D.N.C. email accounts, making known to Americans the dirty tactics used to bring down Bernie Sanders, and Clinton’s less-than-acceptable behavior over her own email servers.

If it hadn’t been for WikiLeaks and Co the public would never have been made aware of these issues.

It’s doubtful the Russians, or any other ‘evil entity’ had to pay “trolls” to make nasty comments. Twitter’s awash with sick individuals only too happy to spread nasty comments around the internet, all free of charge.

And if vote tallies weren’t affected by this hacking, what’s all the fuss about?

Let’s be frank here: we all know that the 2016 U.S. presidential election was the contest from Hell. Neither of the candidates was fit to run a piss up in a brewery, least of all the most militarily powerful nation on earth. Two Hell-hawks scrapping for the greatest power-prize on earth was a competition with no winner the public could ever aspire to respect, and when it was all over, bar the swearing, the losers licked their wounds and blamed their favourite adversary – Vladimir Putin.

Are we truly expected to believe that America’s vast military industrial complex isn’t hacking into every darned nation’s security systems for all it’s worth? We know it is. Remember Angela Merkel’s cell phone calls? Remember America’s invention: Stuxnet?

The hypocrisy stinks.

“Undermining public faith in the U.S. democratic process?”

You gotta laugh!

[1] “Trump election: Russia ‘tired’ of US hacking ‘witch-hunt'” BBC, January 9th 2017

Time For A New Kind Of Politician?

I would like to propose a new law. Preferably a law that would take effect internationally and apply to every nation on earth. It’s a simple law that states, unequivocally: “No person over the age of five years may hold, serve in, or in any way contribute to, any political office, either national or local, in any capacity whatever.”

It’s quite obvious that no-one over the age of five is politically capable of running a country fairly, rationally, and with the best interests of its citizens at heart. Politicians today are corrupt, narcissistic, power-crazed, and hand-in-glove with vested interests that reward them handsomely for services rendered against the public interest. In other words, they are completely unfit to govern, and their behavior in any other position would find them at best rapidly unemployed, and quite possibly, in jail.

Take the un-beloved British prime minister, Theresa May, as an example. Hellbent on forcing the Brexit issue to a conclusion that suits her personally, she’s totally ignored the advice of her greatest expert on Europe, Sir Ivan Rogers…

…to the point he’s decided to resign early from his position as British Ambassador to the E.U. – and go public with his criticisms:

Outgoing ambassadors often write valedictory notes but few are as explosive as this. Sir Ivan does not name names but his remarks do not need much decoding.
The clear implication is that the advice the UK’s ambassador to the EU has been giving has fallen on deaf ears in Downing Street.
And this is why he is standing down, depriving the government of one of its most experienced Brussels hands just weeks before negotiations over Brexit are due to begin.
His resignation took Downing Street by surprise, coming some eight months before his job was due to end or be extended…

…On the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU, which are due to begin by the end of March, he said “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply in Whitehall”, adding this was not the case in the European Commission or in the European Council…

…Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, tweeted: “Best Wishes to Sir Ivan Rogers, a much-respected UK civil servant in Brussels – who knew what he was talking about.” [1]

May’s loyalties have shifted swiftly from Europe (if they were ever there!) and across the Atlantic to the U.S.A. and incoming president, Donald Trump. She wants to develop a similar relationship with Trump as Thatcher had with Ronald Reagan. To that end, she was quick to denounce John Kerry’s recent speech on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, despite the U.K. voting in favour of UN security council resolution 2334 only last week.

Needless to say, the U.S. State Department was not amused:

The US state department last night reacted with some bluntness to May’s statement.

A spokesperson said: “We are surprised by the UK Prime Minister’s office statement given that Secretary Kerry’s remarks—which covered the full range of threats to a two state solution, including terrorism, violence, incitement and settlements—were in-line with the UK’s own longstanding policy and its vote at the United Nations last week.”

The statement also said: “We are grateful for the strongly supportive statements in response to Secretary Kerry’s speech from across the world, including Germany, France, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others.” [2[

The move on May’s part was so obviously an attempt to ingratiate herself with the incoming Trump administration that it prompted a quote from the U.K.’s Ambassador to Washington, as the Guardian continued to report:

May is known to be keen to kindle a close relationship with the Trump White House. The UK’s ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, has even said he hopes it will emulate the rapport between Margaret Thatcher and her US counterpart Ronald Reagan.

This woman could well become poisonous to the British, just like her predecessor, Margaret Thatcher. She might do well to remember that all was not rosy in the Reagan/Thatcher relationship. Thatcher once said of Reagan: “Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.”

What might she have said of George W Bush, one wonders? She’d probably not have been as scathing as John Nixon…

…the senior CIA interrogator charged with questioning Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003. Nixon was an expert on Saddam. He’d been profiling him since 1988.

Mr Nixon is particularly scathing of President Bush, saying – as one of few people that have shaken the hands of both him and Saddam Hussein – he would rather spend time with the latter.
President Bush, he says, was “isolated from reality”, with advisers that would “rally around him regardless and nod in agreement”.
“I used to think what we said at the CIA mattered and the president would listen, but it doesn’t matter what we say, politics trumps intelligence.”
Mr Nixon says he is “ashamed” of what has happened in Iraq since the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
He says the Bush administration gave no thought as to what events might take place after Saddam’s removal, and – in light of the rise of extremist groups such as the so-called “Islamic State” – believes the region would have been better off had he remained in place.
Such claims have been dismissed by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led the country at the time of the invasion. [3]

Ah, yes, let’s not leave out ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Here we have an individual so narcissistic, not to say corrupt, that he still believes he might be welcomed back into U.K. politics. This is the man who collected a personal fortune of over $70,000,000 (60,000,000 GBP) and TEN homes, just by supporting the Bush administration over its invasion of Iraq.

Finally, for now, there’s the next president of the United States himself. If those who voted for this man believe he cares about them they’re sadly mistaken. They should ask David and Moira Milne, or Susan and John Munro. They live at Balmedie in north-east Scotland and had cottages with magnificent views across the dunes to the ocean beyond.

The Munroe’s had a beautiful view of the Scottish coastline from their kitchen window until Trump blocked it

Now the only view they have is of an earthen wall and a row of mature trees, courtesy of Mister Donald Trump:

President-elect Donald J. Trump has already built a wall — not on the border with Mexico, but on the border of his exclusive golf course in northeastern Scotland, blocking the sea view of local residents who refused to sell their homes.

And then he sent them the bill.

David and Moira Milne had already been threatened with legal action by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who claimed that a corner of their garage belonged to him, when they came home from work one day to find his staff building a fence around their garden. Two rows of grown trees went up next, blocking the view. Their water and electricity lines were temporarily cut. And then a bill for about $3,500 arrived in the mail, which, Mr. Milne said, went straight into the trash…
Susan and John Munro…also refused to sell and now face an almost 15-foot-high earthen wall built by Mr. Trump’s people on two sides of their property…
As many Americans are trying to figure out what kind of president they have just elected, the people of Balmedie, a small village outside the once oil-rich city of Aberdeen, say they have a pretty good idea. In the 10 years since Mr. Trump first visited, vowing to build “the world’s greatest golf course” on an environmentally protected site featuring 4,000-year-old sand dunes, they have seen him lash out at anyone standing in his way. They say they watched him win public support for his golf course with grand promises, then watched him break them one by one.

A promised $1.25 billion investment has shrunk to what his opponents say is at most $50 million. Six thousand jobs have dwindled to 95. Two golf courses to one. An eight-story, 450-room luxury hotel never materialized, nor did 950 time-share apartments. Instead, an existing manor house was converted into a 16-room boutique hotel. Trump International Golf Links, which opened in 2012, lost $1.36 million last year, according to public accounts…[4]

It all begs the question, have the people of the world been fooled for long enough or are they going to continue allowing these political parasites to walk all over them and keep them in poverty forever?

“Ah,” but they cry, “what can we do about it?”

Well, how about heading down that local day-nursery and pledging support to little Torin Weston. He’s only four, but I reckon he could do a better job at running things than May, Trump, Blair and Bush combined. And, he wouldn’t demand ten houses and a multi-million dollar fortune.

Though he doesn’t look too happy at the idea. Perhaps a bag of candy would suffice?

[1] “UK’s EU ambassador tells colleagues to challenge ‘muddled thinking'” BBC, January 4th 2017

[2] “Theresa May’s criticism of John Kerry Israel speech sparks blunt US reply” Guardian, December 29th 2016

[3] “The ex-CIA agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein” BBC, January 4th 2017

[4] “In Scotland, Trump Built a Wall. Then He Sent Residents the Bill.” New York Times, November 25th 2016

From Sparrow Chat: A Peaceful And Happy Christmas To All.

On a personal note I’d like to wish all my readers a Very Happy Christmas. A lot happened in the our world during 2016. Most of it was bad. Let us hope we can forget our differences for a day or two and allow “Peace and Goodwill” to reign, at least temporarily.

I’m of an age to remember when even folks who were fighting each other paused with respect for the symbolism of Christmas Day. It’s so long ago that perhaps some younger people never heard the tales that emanated from the trenches of World War One, when on Christmas Day the fighting stopped and soldiers on both sides played football together, putting aside their enmity for one day.

Today, it’s hard to imagine such a thing occurring in Aleppo, or any of the other places in the world where people are killing each other simply because they hold differing viewpoints. It’s a weakness of the human species to demand that everyone must believe what we believe, yet if we fail to overcome that weakness there can be no hope left for us.

On December 23rd 2012, I wrote a poem published on Sparrow Chat based on a famous Christmas work by Clement Clarke Moore. My version seemed appropriate then, and with certain amendments, is equally so today.

We need to remember that, whatever god we believe in, Christian, Muslim, Hindu – or, simply the natural order of things – if we don’t treat our world and each other with respect and love, then the gods will take matters out of our hands. It could be by global warming or some other natural occurrence, or even by “hot fire from their noses,” but it will happen.

THE FINAL NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

T’was the night before Christmas, and all round the earth
Terrorists were plotting for all they were worth.
Obama sits musing which drone strike to pick,
A wedding? A market? Whose ass should he kick?

Muslims seeth hatred for all that is Christian,
Jews in Israel eye Hamas with suspicion.
Syrian rebels at war ‘gainst Assad
Are fighting each other – the whole world’s gone mad!

The Arctic is melting, the earth growing warm,
Droughts, floods, tornadoes, becoming the norm.
No-one takes notice, “It’s not us!” they cried
As New York washed away on a rather high tide.

Nuclear warheads point skywards by many a dozen
Nations fight o’er the oil in the Arctic unfrozen
The people point fingers at Latino and Muslim
Society’s collapsing, it all looks so grim.

Last straw for the gods was the rich upstart, Trump
To be boss of the world was too much, to be blunt,
The cosmos was stirring, for all it was able,
Something had to done, and it needs must be final.

High in the Heavens Mohammed and Jesus
Mithras, Athena, and Zeus with his aegis,
Look down on a world they have brought into being
And cannot believe what the hell they are seeing.

Speaking narry a word while commencing their toil
They summon their powers with anger a-boil
And blasting the earth with hot fire from their noses
Consume it all up, despite firemen’s hoses.

Then summoning chariots of fire with a whistle
They fly off to heaven like the down of a thistle.
Only one of them speaks – the one they call Mithras
Mutters, “Bloody little shits! They just didn’t deserve Christmas.”

© R J Adams

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore).

A peaceful and happy Christmas to all, and the hope of better things to come in 2017.