Packing Away Christmas -

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“Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –
Some have got broken — and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week –
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully –
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
“Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.”
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.”

This is from W.H. Auden’s “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratio,” written in 1941-42.

Currys Rude Voicemail

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Making candidates dance at a job interview obviously gets you the talented staff you need.

I was expecting delivery of a washing machine from Currys this morning.
I was at work, but a retired family member waited in to take delivery and show them where it should be fitted. I explained this when I ordered the machine.

At 9.30am my mobile rang. It was the Currys’ driver.  I was at work. I’m a teacher, so cannot receive calls while I’m teaching (stating the obvious – one would hope). While I’m at work my phone remains in the staffroom on silent. Calls get an automated text message “I’m in class, call back later” and this is redirected to voicemail. Most people, who might call, know my job status so this is rarely an issue.

However, one can only congratulate the Currys driver on this particular bit of abuse left on my voicemail following on from the automated text.

I apologize for the profanity.

The washing machine was delivered and fitted five minutes after this call, without a problem.

The chap who left the message obviously had some great dance moves at interview, but no manners.
You can see why Currys get staff like this. It’s all in the interview technique. I bet this daft fellow had no trouble at all dancing to Daft Punk!

West Mersea

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westmerseaToday I discovered the pleasant beach side of West Mersea. The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling, and after a lovely day on the beach we had an excellent meal at the Victory by the Harbour. Next time, we are going to try the fresh oysters there. 

 

Amazon overpackaging!

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Generally, Amazon are great! It explains why a substantial amount of my salary goes to them every month – as my preferred online store.
However, I may have to reconsider buying physical items from them simply due to the overpackaging! I have complained before about using enormous boxes, just to send a small item! In the weeks leading up to Christmas I have ordered several small items, all have arrived in oversized boxes! I now have a collection of them, and not enough room in my house or the recycling bin! Let alone, all the reams and reams of brown paper they want to add to it!

This is the latest – 3 rolls of sticky back plastic! In a box 8 times too wide and 3 times too deep!

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Bye bye iTunes … Apple you’ve lost me.

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It may sound indulgent but I have two 120 GB iPod classics. One holds all my music and docs, the other I use for podcasts and sound recordings. But not anymore. That’s because Apple has got it wrong with its latest iTunes update. What’s more I have a viable alternative: Samsung Galaxy S 2.

The issue: 

I have had iTunes for years and just let it recommend updates and go through the process. Apple iTunes 10.5 comes along. I try to install it. It doesn’t work. I won’t bore you with all the details but I get numerous error messages. I spend a day fixing all the suggested issues. It still doesn’t install. Even worse, my old iTunes is also corrupted and inaccessible. So I uninstall everything Apple – some of it doesn’t go easily. I clear the lot and try to install … I still have the same error messages. After a second day trying and retrying. I could go further and reinstall Vista or Upgrade to Windows 7. But I don’t want to do either of those, because it will impact far too much on everything else I use on computer. Far too much hassle. All my music is backed up on an external hard drive – most is taken from my own CD collection. I figured I can live without iTunes and even my iPod (but these can be managed with other programs).

Also, Samsung Galaxy S II is actually quite nifty. (It replaces my old HTC desire and is streets ahead). I can upload and listen to my podcasts and music there, and have it playing in my car.

The Global Economy: A Huge Bubble!

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by Constantine Tokmakides, Professor of the University of Thessaloniki

Unanswered Questions

You’ve lent 100 Euros to someone whose salary is a 100 Euros and 500 Euros to someone whose salary is 1000 Euros. The former owes you 100% of his salary, whereas the latter owes 50% of his salary. By what rationale would you pursue the former who cannot pay his debt and leave the latter who CAN pay his debt? Why would you try to get the 100 Euros back and not the 500 Euros back?

This is exactly what is going on with the IMF.
I looked up the list of all the debt of all the world’s countries online. Some examples…

Germany with a deficit of 5 trillion owes 155% of GDP.
France again with a deficit of 5 trillion owes 188% of GDP.
The USA with a 13 trillion deficit owes 94% of its GDP.

So it’s obvious that what’s important is not the size of the debt but rather  its percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

Having taken a few looks at the table a few questions arise:

Question 1:

How is it that although Luxemburg, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Austria all have a GREATER proportion of debt than Greece, these countries DO NOT need saving, but on the contrary step in to save Greece?

Question 2:
How can Afghanistan after nearly half a century of continuous war only be 23% of GDP in debt, when we know just a few days of war can “blow up” a country’s economy.

Question 3. How can Kuwait owe 29% , Bahrain 54% and the UAE 56% at the very moment when they are global oil suppliers?

Question 4. How comes that in Switzerland with 271% debt, a simple hospital cleaner (in around the year 200) could earn around 2000 Euro a month an exact equal amount to the wage earned at the same time by a “high-earning” technician, with a much higher level of education, considered heavy duty and unhealthy work, in dirty coal run electricity plants of Greece, with 25 years of experience?

Question 5. How comes that Norway with 143% debt doesn’t have a problem and doesn’t need to be saved or endure austerity measures?

A real example from there: “An acquaintance of mine moved to Norway two years ago. Now, look at what happened to him there:
a) He got a job in a restaurant kitchen as an unskilled worked and got a salary of 2,500 Euro!
b) After three months at work he said he was “mentally exhausted” and immediately got 15 days leave!
c) Using his tax returns (something like the gratis salary we get) he went on holiday to Tibet with his wife.
d) Now he is unemployed, (using the excuse that HE DID NOT LIKE where he was working) and for two years he can get 1700 Euros a month.

Question 6: Why aren’t the global lenders worried that they might lose the 13.5 trillion owed by the USA or the 2 trillion owed by Luxemburg, the 9 trillion owed by the UK (etc, etc) but are worried about the 500 billion that Greece owes?

Question 7. How is it possible that the whole population of the earth owes 98% of its money?

Question 8: Who has enough money so that they can “withstand” lending so much money?

Question 9. Where did they find all that money?

Question 10. Why is their money not included in their country’s GDP?

Ultimately, don’t these figures just show that the global economy is nothing but a huge bubble, while money is fake, printed in the depths of the multinational banks simply to achieve global control?

First Thoughts on the Riot

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policscene

I live a mile from Tottenham, in one of the most deprived areas in the UK. I was brought up here. When the report of the shooting and the protest first erupted on Sunday evening people started making comparisons with Broadwater Farm in 1985. These are simplistic comparisons and the situation is a very different one.

Giving away my age, I was at school at the time of the Broadwater Farm riots. I was a teenager. I still remember today how the tension in the air was palpable the day of the riot, and in the following days. Things were already tense. If I went out with black friends -even as a school girl in uniform – we would inevitably be stopped and questioned by police. Lots of rumours spread by word of mouth through the area about other possible eruptions. There was all the excitement that teenagers feel in a sense of rebellion and disorder.  In the end, nothing further happened. I don’t know if things would have been different back then if mobile phones had existed. Certainly, I came from a family where any such disorder or misbehaviour would be firmly dealt with.

However, at the time the issues were very different. Racism was rife. Not only, was the Police institutionally racist, but racism was somehow ‘accepted’ in schools, the media, and everywhere else in society. Jim Davidson could freely make jokes about a West Indian called Chalky. I had a Maths teacher who called a black boy in my class “brillo pad head” and it was just accepted – even the black kids were so used to it and didn’t protest.  The National Front would smash up the local Jewish cemetery and terrorise the Greek Orthodox Church on the way.  Of course, racism still exists today – but not on the same blatant and institutional level that was so palpable 25 years ago.

Looting in Tottenham Hale

The destruction we have seen across North London today is nothing to do with a sense of injustice or aggrievement. It has nothing to do with racism – although overwhelmingly (but not solely) it was  a delinquent minority of kids from the black community here. The looting and arson in Tottenham, Wood Green and Enfield had nothing at all to do with protest or poverty. It had everything to do with a materialistic culture based on sheer greed.  A culture that glorifies money, power and violence. A society where kids find family in gangs.  It was the opportunism of an underlying criminal element that have been getting away with petty crime and criminal damage for years. The police – all the time – were on the back foot. These things were being organised – fairly publicly – through Blackberry broadcasts – of which the police seemed wholly ignorant.

These riots had everything to do with feral fatherless children, of feckless mothers, who fail to accept their responsibilities as adults. What are these mothers thinking when their teenage children are out at all hours, and when they bring stolen goods home?

Indeed, many of those same feckless parents are walking around with a chip on their shoulder and distrust of the police dating back generations. Surely some questions should be asked of these ‘parents’ who did not know the whereabouts of their children on Sunday, Monday and even Tuesday night. Clearly, parents whose underage children were caught up in this frenzy of wanton violence and robbery should also be prosecuted for neglect.

These disturbances are the results of years and years of petty crime that is ignored. The police do not deal with minor offences . Most members of the public will not pull children up on their anti-social behaviour in buses and in public. As a teacher, I am one of the few who will point out to youths why their behaviour is anti-social. Many of my colleagues will not do this … maybe I’m a fool, but with the right approach it can work. There is also a general feeling that the Police did not act quicker – and use the full extent of the powers available to them – in order to force the Government’s arm about proposed police cuts.

Carpet-Rite Tottenham: 25 families homeless

The first-hand accounts I’ve heard are shocking. One of my father’s carers went to save her son from the Carpet-Rite fire in Tottenham. He had been visiting relatives who lived in the flats above. Her account of the chaos is completely shocking. The violence, the inferno like heat of the fire, and the very graphic account of sheer criminality. The people in the flats in Tottenham barely escaped with their lives. The only possessions they have left are the clothes they were wearing – some in night clothes only. These are some of the poorest in society, living in rented accommodation, working at low-paid jobs – who have suddenly become possession-less and homeless. When these people turned to the authorities for emergency help the family was given £60 and 2 blankets!!!

What has also been apparent is the good will of people who have rallied around to help the victims of these criminal acts.  People have been donating clothes and food. Tbe local parish church  has been feeding and clothing many of the homeless. It will be some while before they get homes. Some have lost livelihoods – with a driver’s van trashed and other small family businesses destroyed.

There is a moral deficit in our society all too apparent in the number of people walking around Edmonton Green today with their feet crammed into brand new designer trainers that are a size too small, and shamelessly showing off their JD Sports carrier bags.  We have known about this moral deficit for years, and chosen to do nothing about it. Now is the time to act.

See also:
UK riots: political classes see what they want to see

Reclaiming Enfield’s Streets

What the teachers of the rioters know

These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting

A Culture of Greed – Orthodox Reflections

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