May 21-27, 2022
SATURDAY 21 The mild ringing in my ears since my brain injury is something I have tolerated and managed as a minor side-effect of the trauma. But an article in the Conversation suggests it might in fact be the result of my brain learning to work in new ways and that a cure might be found in deep sleep.
📌 As usual, Positive News is brimming with fascinating developments, which include the opening in Somerset of a nature park that sounds like a massive biodiversity Xanadu.
📌 Outside in the play area a young girl (circa 10) is getting a judo lesson. In one of the exercises her instructor (circa 2m) holds an empty plastic water bottle at arm’s length and at in a random moment drops it. On each occasion the young judo student attempts to kick the bottle before it hits the ground. She misses, but keeps trying over and over, her swinging foot getting closer every time. Just as it looks like her kick will finally connect, her instructor changes the exercise. They bow to each other in the Ritsu-rei and begin a new routine which involves punching.
📌 An old Fiat 500 parked on Golden Lane resurrected a memory from long ago.
We were on holiday in western Sicily, sitting peacefully in the town square of Erice, when an ancient Fiat 500 puttered to a halt and out stepped a sprightly but stooping man of around 90. He strolled casually into a pizza shop and exited 2 minutes later with two large boxes, which he then struggled to position on to the back seat of his Fiat. He drove off in haste and we sipped our wine trying to imagine the next scene in this gripping mental movie.
📌 It’s worth taking time to consider a variety of opinions. An article on the conservativehome website reminded us that the Prime Minister was once known among his friends as “the greased albino piglet”.
SUNDAY 22 Nick Cohen contrasts the power of the nationalist dictators with that of Britain’s own pretender to the title. Boris is…
A bloated, enfeebled leader, in fear of his backbenchers and without an idea about how to cope with today’s crisis. He ricochets from one buffeting to the next like an overgrown child on a bouncy castle.Nick Cohen, the Observer
He takes his analysis further with a direct comparison between Boris and Putin: “Johnson took Britain out of the EU as Putin invaded Ukraine, to assert national greatness. Both enterprises have been disastrous because neither leader had the smallest idea of how to make their adventurism work.”
And the conservativehome website seems to be singing from the same songbook with Boris and his current predicament cast in the role of Tsar Nicholas II.
📌 Tomato seedlings planted out, fingers crossed: Montserrat and Yellow Stuffer varieties. The chilli seeds are still refusing to germinate. They must be dead by now. First crop of radishes will be ready next week.
📌 Another visit to the Barbican’s Postwar Modern exhibition yesterday had me returning like a moth to certain images. Examples include the work of Souza in the first room and later a hugely compelling Hotel Bedroom by Lucian Freud.
MONDAY 23 Monkeypox doesn’t sound like a real medical condition, but it obviously is. Checking its provenance can be scary, especially if you stumble on the 2003 Midwest Monkeypox Outbreak in the US.
📌 Sam’s picture of Luciano Pavarotti is really very good.
TUESDAY 24 On the radio programme Farming Today we learned that the amount of milk a UK dairy cow produces annually by eating grass and clover is only half the volume the market demands from it. Supplementary food containing fats are required for it to hit its target, and the average dairy cow has become so dependent on this fatty feed that to revert now to a normal diet of grass would make it ill.
📌 Amazon writes to tell me that from 17 August I won’t be able to browse and buy books on my Kindle. Trying to think of a suitable headline that partners Kindle and swindle.
📌 The pressure group We Own It has been has been doggedly pushing the anti-privatisation agenda for some time, but in the energy crisis has finally found a comfy home for its gently hectoring brand of market socialism. Its latest report tells us that the price rise of publicly-owned French energy is 4%. whereas the UK’s us 54%. Voters who switched from Labour to Conservative in the 2019 election are especially outraged, it says.
📌 The Guardian has a new email briefing service called First Edition, and today we learn that Monkeypox is not the new Wuhan, if that makes sense.
📌 The Tortoise has a fabulously precise explainer on the Sweden/Finland Nato application and the contortions and merry dances Turkey’s (veto-armed) President Erdogan is trying to pull off with both Russia and the US.
📌 The Morning Star advances some compelling arguments against blindly buying into the good-evil narratives that are being attached to Ukraine and Russia, cautioning against the…
…misplaced belief that solidarity with Ukrainians means solidarity with their government.Morning Star editorial
WEDNESDAY 25 In art class we attempted to make a sequence of viewfinder images from an initial square crop, scaling the crop each time to show how one section of a scene can be reduced then expanded to reveal new shapes and patterns.
The process was intriguing but the results disappointing.
📌 You have to imagine that the report on the British withdrawal from Afghanistan, plus the trawl of photographs showing Downing Street misbehaviour during lockdown, plus the Metropolitan Police failure to notice anything is a template for how others in the world see our country. Only then will you get the full picture of the degradation that has set in.
THURSDAY 26 China has its own version of the Beavis & Butthead generation. China’s slackers follow the credo of ban lai, which hinges on a refusal to meet society’s unrealistically competitive expectations, preferring instead to watch telly, and play nihilistic video games.
📌 Toynbee Hall is East London’s liberal-humanist citadel of do-gooding. We visited yesterday as guests of City Advice, for whom we act as advocates locally. It was an impressive set-up and offered a glimmer of hope that good can still be done regardless of how civic standards seem to have fallen.
📌 Delivered the finished stitchwork of Cecil’s drawing.
📌 Sam’s spaniel looks a bit glum.
FRIDAY 27 The doctor says I need a new blood test because my potassium levels are slightly elevated. We talked about the number of tomatoes and bananas I eat and something new called the “e-consultation”, in which you put all your chit-chat preliminary symptom description in an email before any real contact with a doctor. I’m quite looking forward to trying it.
📌 At Danielle’s birthday supper last night in a lovely pub in Canonbury we moaned about the state of British politics and wondered pessimistically what the future held for institutions such as the BBC and the NHS. They have been ever-present in our lives but now face destruction. As if it had been eavesdropping, the Morning Star today once again argues for greater public ownership, especially of essentials such as energy provision.
Take it into public ownership. In one single act the manifest problems of investing in a modern and reliable delivery of energy to industry and domestic consumers becomes not the subject of anxious preoccupation for shareholders and bosses but the subject of a rational planning regime in the public sector.Editorial, the Morning Star
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