Red Guard on the Microphone

The past couple of days have been fairly musical. I’ve long noticed that the one place that I can reliably hear morose music is my local Albertson’s. The musical loop goes something like this: Annie Lennox’s Why slows things down, and is followed by Nora Jones’ Don’t Know Why, which cools things down a bit more, and then hands over to 10cc’s I’m Not in Love, which brings us inevitably to Mike and the Mechanic’s The Living Years and then back to Annie Lennox. This onslaught of low-grade Weltschmerz makes grocery shopping miserable. Of course, as with every facet of the corporate retail experience, one person’s misery is another’s pile of cash. The music is designed to create a solitary and self-indulgent sensory bubble. It’s a bubble in which you’re encouraged to wallow. Inside the bubble, it smells of donuts, and it has Annie Lennox reminding you of that crappy breakup/tragic moment/melodramatic appeal to the heavens that you thought you’d long forgotten. The solution to all this is at hand, of course – make your choice of anything from the chilled plenitude of the supermarket shelves.

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Uncommunicative action

I’ve a long track record of being dressed funny. My mother enjoyed trussing me in earthy corduroy, tight dungarees, and cotton prints and, although I atoned by wearing nothing but black polyester for six adolescent months, I still feel that my mum’s fashion experiments are responsible for my vulnerability to the Green Party, and my fondness for herbal tea.

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The Nature of the Job

Mark Steel’s thoughts in yesterday’s Independent on representation and torture are splendid.

So maybe someone should work out whether there’s a pattern here. If it was discovered that every week a dustman had locked a couple of residents in a wheelie-bin and administered electric shocks to their rectum, local authorities might ponder whether the problem wasn’t just the individuals but something in the nature of the job.

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While the US wets itself with the prospect of another election catastrophe, US voters should be looking to the world’s largest democracy for inspiration. It would seem that the Indian public have responded to BJP’s fundamentalism with savvy and wit. Both the BJP and the Congress (I) party have shown themselves unfit for anything but compradorism. The voters have shown their disapproval of the BJP and Congress by voting for a range of third parties. The markets have shown their disapproval of public opinion by whaling on the Rupee, and the Bombay stock exchange is down a couple of per cent. But with the full results still a long way off, and with plenty of time for the world’s largest pool of computer engineers to play with the electronic voting machines, we won’t know the results for days, if ever.

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On Food Aid

I see Norm Geras has posted the Daily Telegraph’s latest invective against Robert Mugabe. Despite strong opinions to the contrary by those members of the World Food Programme who are able to get into the field, the Zimbabwean government has claimed that it has enough food to feed its people, and won’t be needing anyone else’s thank you very much.

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Not enough folk in my favourite political arm of the blogosphere seem to cook their own food. This is a shame, especially when there’s stuff like this around. Props to Ryan’s cousin Michael. This is good food especially, I’ve found, if you’ve many of the ingredients required sitting untouched on your shelves, are about to move house, and need to get rid of them in a hurry.

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Bitter Grapes

My mates over at PANNA, the Pesticide Action Network, North America, have just released this fine report. Their findings on those hurt by pesticides aren’t hugely surprising but, as we’ve seen with other news, it’s amazing what a bit of human colour can do to dry announcements of procedure. And colour there is here in abundance. PANNA have found out that people of colour in California, and Mexican Americans in particular, are hammered by the agricultural chemicals in their communities. No prizes for guessing why Mexican American communities are exposed to higher levels of agricultural pesticides, by the way. PANNA have used the government’s own data to paint a harrowing picture (again, sound familiar?). Children aged 6-12 in the Center for Disease Control study on which the report is based had levels of exposure to a particular neuro-toxic chemical at four times the threshold limit. The question is: will the media interest in this lead to anything but mild slaps on the wrist for the corporations involved?

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Hunger for learning

Serious blogging begins in earnest today with the fight for a Port-a-Potty. In today’s inbox I find this:

The Hunger Strike for Education is under attack by the City of Oakland. After making their 70 mile march to Sacramento, a group of committed teachers, students, parents and community leaders have begun a hunger strike in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th and Broadway at the 12th Street BART Station) to demand, as the 50 year anniversary of Brown v Board approaches, that the State of California provide adequate and equitable education for its children.

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