Riverbank News

Sunday, 23 August 2015

New Book released August 29. One Day in Paris

One Day in Paris. A Novel by Andrew Brel

Read by clicking here

Thursday, 7 November 2013


In the matter of children from broken homes, the government agency responsible for advising the Courts on parental contact is Cafcass.

You can follow the progress of my Cafcass story here:


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

My wordpress blog

After several weeks of learning wordpress, my new site with its own wordpress blog is up and running.

Heres my first blog post.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Auto Europe

On May 4th, I arrived at Murcia Airport to collect my rental car, booked and paid for with Auto Europe.
My first indication that all was not well is when I saw the length of the line at the counter for Auto Europe's partner, GoldCar. It would take 65 minutes to reach the front, and during this time, I went forward to see what was causing the delay. I heard the same complaint each time. 'This is ridiculous. I paid for the Insurance online." Another said "This is just a con. I have a package including all Insurances."  The gist of what was causing this long delay became apparent. Finally, 65 minutes later, I reached the front of the line and was invited to take out a further Insurance of E45.  I referred him to the existing Insurance.

"Listen to me carefully. This Insurance means nothing. You have no Insurance in Spain". 

In a very short space of time it became clear that the Counter Assistant had lost his way, as his presentation transcended regard for the customary professional constraints associated with the office of car rental counter employee, deviating alarmingly into furious raging aggression in limited English, applied with a strong Spanish accent. When I directed him the the terms and conditions on the Auto Europe document, which states the Insurance position very clearly, Mr GoldCar, finally gave up any pretense of civility. 
'You get no car from me. Now you can walk' he shouted throwing my card back at me.

And so, around 11 pm on a Saturday Night, in Murcia Airport, which is small and not a place you expect much by way of taxi service, I was left stranded without a hire car, with a party of four including a 3 year old child, whose first question was 'Daddy, why did that man shout at you.'

The start of our one week holiday in Spain was effectively ruined from that point.

Upon my return one week later I contacted Auto Europe with details of my complaint. Some correspondence flowed - an offer of Fifty Pounds by way of compensation, which I declined, and then the MD of Auto Europe mailed me, this time with an accusatory tone saying he had stalked my Facebook page, despite the privacy notice governing that particular practice by uninvited stalkers, and didn't like the tone with which I had described events in Murcia. (You can read that page Here).

I made a settlement offer, following advice from the Trading Standards Institute, and when the deadline for that offer expired without  reply, on Friday 17th, I decided to proceed with my complaint. Trading Standards were extremely helpful, and after a thirty minute conference, the matter was issued as 'Unfair Business Practice' and A Reference handle created, meaning events are now underway.

In the interim I created a Facebook Page to document the correspondence and report progress. Which you can visit Here.  

My intention is to progress the Trading Standards complaint and following that outcome, claim in County Court for  damages against Auto Europe. The costs arising from the unilateral breach of contract and the miss-leading fraudulent advertisement of a product; A fully Insured rental vehicle, which turned out to be not Insured at all despite the payment being taken and the documentation of confirmation being issued. Add the that being stranded abroad in an Airport late at night with a small child. I calculated it took three days to calm down and start to enjoy the holiday. So I will pursue one third of my holiday costs, as well as the cost of the transport I had to arrange following the cancellation of the car I had booked and paid for. I expect tpo add my legal fees to the claim.

But mostly, I wish to help anyone else from being victim to Auto Europe and their fraudulent scam. They should not be allowed to get away with it and the more people who know about my experience, the less likely it will be that Auto Europe can carry on their sharp practice. 

To this end I have posted details on TripAdvisor Murcia page. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Phil the Greek

Google Phil the Greek and you will arrive at Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

But how Greek is Prince Philip.

Not at all is the answer. No Greek DNA just Danish, German and Russian.

His mum was born in Windsor Castle and was German, a Battenberg family member, named Alice. (Alice went bonkers but recovered and stayed in Greece during the Nazi occupation to save Jews from deportation, according to Wikipedia. When she was required to leave Greece after the Royals were kicked out in 67, she returned to Buckingham Palace. After her death, her remains were moved to Jerusalem for burial in the Mount of Olives.)

Philips dad was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, who was born in Athens to a Father who was Danish and a mother who was Russian. (A member of the Romanov dynasty who married King George when she was 16. A very religious woman who upset conservative believers by promoting a new translation of the gospel in Greece. )

His Grandad was born Prince William of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, in Copenhagen to a Danish father and German mother, Louise of Hesse-Kassel. 

So there you have it. No more Phil the Greek. Its Phil the Danish German Russian.

Monday, 18 March 2013

My home made guitar

This picture is taken in 1982, in the straw roofed rondavel at the farmhouse in Chartwell which I turned into a recording studio. 

On the left - in the snare stand - is my Oberheim DMX, probably the first one in South Africa. The guitar was my home made travel guitar - which would evolve into a fantastic recording instrument before being stolen in 1989 during the burglary at my studio in Hampton Court. 

Heres the guitar story.

Jose Fernandes, with whom I shared this 500 acre rental farmhouse in Chartwell for the last two years I lived in Johannesburg, bought one of the first Midi tracking guitars. A Roland GS 500. A Les Paul style body and a midi box of sounds. Problem was it tracked too slowly - especially on the low notes - and so it soon became apparent it was unsuitable for purpose. And then Jose dropped it, smashing the top half of the headstock. At that time Steinberger had brought out the little headless 6 string - in black - and I wanted one of those as a travel guitar. So I appropriated the carcass of the Roland Synth guitar and set up a work bench. 

Bear in mind I had no experience with the craft of the luthier and no skills with woodwork. My sole qualification was having read about Brian Mays efforts with a fireplace. With a vice holding the guitar, I sawed off the headstock. I had a friend with an engineering works, and I drew a design of a piece of metal with six little dips in it, to attach to the end of the sawed of neck - where the strings would fix on. He made it for me and I screwed it into the back end of the neck. 

I traced out a design of how I wanted the body to be, modelled mostly on the Steinberg shape. The Roland was a solid chunk of wood - and so I decided to make the tuning pegs attach to a pyramid cut out on the right hand side. (You can see the original Grover heads from the Roland in the picture next to my right hand.) 

I removed the midi tracking pick up and replaced it with a di Marzio Humbucker at the back and a Seymour Duncan (purple) on the front. The Seymour Duncan was the most expensive part of the Instrument - bought from Eddie Boyle at Toms for top dollar.  

Each pick up I wired to its own jack output in my only foray into soldering electronics. It had two volume knobs, one for each pick up. One pick up went into a volume pedal - where I could bring it in or out with the accompanying sound. When I used it at gigs, the clean pick up went straight to the PA - and the dirty pick up(The Di Marzio) went to the guitar amp so I could shut it down with the volume pedal until I wanted that sound.

I found the Roland neck was too thick, and I guess I was just extremely lucky that when I shaved and sanded the neck back to get it to match the contour of my hand, somehow it worked, despite a total absence of any wood working skill. The neck became the best feature of the guitar - much like a thinline Tele neck.

The problem with my design effort was the balance. With the bulk of weight on the neck side, the guitar would not hang in a neutral way. This made it a headache at gigs. It would droop down to the left.

A few years passed, I moved the England, and found myself in a music shop in Addlestone, where I met a Luthier - Tom Anfield. I showed him the guitar, which he loved, and he came up with an ingenious design for moving the centre of gravity for attaching the strap. A six inch wooden piece on a rotating screw that would fold out to hold the strap end. By extending the strap holding width - and using trial and error on the length of the wooden add on - eventually we had the guitar able to balance neutral. And when it was stored - the 'Anfield add-on' rotated back into a cutaway bit of the body to become invisible.
With the guitar now a joy to hold as well as to play, I began using it at gigs and for awhile it became my main instrument. 

Then in 1989, my studio at Hampton Court, at 3 Bridge Road, was burgled and included in the thieves tally was this guitar.
For years I hoped its distinctive style would lead it back to me, but now, 23 years later, I have come to terms with its loss. This may in part explain my fairly extensive collection of quality guitars, compensating for the disappointment.

I have never since dabbed with either woodwork or soldering.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Greatest hits of religious music

Here is a favourites list of the most articulate songs dealing with Religion.

1. Frank Zappa - Dumb all Over 

2. Tim Minchin - The Pope Song

3. Garfunkel and Oates - Fuck me in the ass because I love Jesus

4. The Who - Man in a Purple Dress 

5. John Lennon - Imagine (Playing for change version)

Monday, 19 November 2012

A fundementalist moderate.

Moderate and fundamentalist are widely used measures of value. 

Moderate is understood to be - reasonable and not extreme, while fundamentalist is used to describe rigid adherence to a principle.

Quite often these words preface the word Christian or Muslim as if the measure of a belief reliant on an absolute set of instruction can ever be sensibly applied to the relative concept of moderate or extreme.

The use of this terminology is misleading by design. It has a powerful pejorative association which promotes confusion and misunderstanding. 

Religious belief is a simple set of constructs which succeeds mainly because of its on or off value. You either believe or you don't. The degree to which you believe plays no part in this arrangement. If it did - if you could say - I am a Christian most of the time, but occasionally I moderate my Christianity by dabbling in the Occult, then, clearly, you are not a Christian. You are either subject to the dictate of the belief, or you are not. 
Belief is in this sense comparable to Virginity. A clearly defined circumstance determines the yes or no to the question. It makes no sense beyond deliberately misleading to suggest one is a moderate virgin or a fundamentalist one. 

If you are a Christian - you believe Jesus is the son of God, conceived by a virgin birth who died and was reborn, and who will fix it for you to spend eternity in heaven. Its a pretty straightforward set of yes or no constructs. You cannot be both a believer and a denier of the factual determining aspects of the belief. 

Islam is identical in this regard, and its the same with all religion. You believe or you don't believe. That is what determines whether you are a Muslim, a Christian or whatever you belief.  The issue of piety is a separate matter, not related to the yes or no of moderate or fundamentalist belief.
Suggesting one believes a lot more than another is as ridiculous as suggesting one virgin is more extremist in the yes answer to the question of her virginity.

Often this condemnatory and misleading representation - fundamentalist - is used to somehow imply that one believer is bad while other believers - who are moderate - are less bad. The purpose this serves is to obfuscate the reality that all believers rely on the same imagined perception, the mighty all-seeing god, from which any justification for any lunacy can be established. 'Oh, he's a fundamentalist and that why he did it' protects the lunatic aspect of the belief from association. But its deceit word play. You either believe or you don't believe.

Despite the convenience it represents for journalists, there is no such thing as a moderate Christian or a fundamentalist Muslim any more than there is a fundamentalist virgin and a moderate pedophile.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Call that flu.

In January 1918, even as World War 1 was raging, a new viral war had begun. Described as "The greatest medical holocaust in history" this largely forgotten flu epidemic killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century.

WW1 would go on to kill some 9 million people. The Spanish flu pandemic that started in January 1918 would go on to kill between 20 - 50 million, before being finally eradicated by December 1920.

Using the 50 million upper estimate, that represents 3% of the World population at the time. Some 5 times more people died in the year after WW1 from catching flu than from the bullets and bombs.

The movement of troops in WW1, many weakened by malnutrition, helped spread the virus. It may even have hastened the end of the war, as the first wave affected Germany and its Allies first, their increased mortality leading to a crumbling of resistance.

It was named the Spanish Flu because although outbreaks in France were extreme, censored press during wartime meant restricted news. The pandemic received wider press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918, especially after King Alfonso became infected, generating huge press interest. Spain's neutrality in WW1 meant no wartime censorship.

The origin of the Spanish flu pandemic, and the relationship between the near-simultaneous outbreaks in humans and swine, have been controversial. 

The source was quite probably a major troop staging and hospital camp in  Etaples France, where a virus was harbored in birds, and mutated to pigs that were kept near the front.

Another theory is that the virus strain originated at Fort Riley, Kansas, in viruses in poultry and swine which the fort bred for food; the soldiers were then sent from Fort Riley around the world,  spreading the virus.

The virus infected about one third of the worlds population. 10 - 20% of those infected died. In India some 17 million died. In Britain, 250,000.

The virus killed through a cytokine storm - causing the body's immune system to overreact - which made it most effective in young strong people, rather than the weak and elderly, as is the case with most viral infection.

Death came mostly by bacterial pneumonia, and often directly by hemorrhages - bleeding from mucous membranes, especially from nose, stomach and intestine, and edema of the lung.

The most vulnerable group were pregnant women - 23 - 71% and most vulnerable age range was young adults  20 to 40 year old's who account for 50% of fatalities.

The virus raged through the summer of 1918 and in August a second wave, a mutated even worse version struck.

In civilian life, natural selection favours a mild strain. Those who get very ill stay home, and those mildly ill continue with their lives, preferentially spreading the mild strain. In the trenches, natural selection was reversed. Soldiers with a mild strain stayed where they were, while the severely ill were sent on crowded trains to crowded field hospitals, spreading the deadlier virus. The second wave began and the flu quickly spread around the world again.

A big spike in fatalities occurred in October 1918. This occurred right after the US Army Surgeon General and the Journal of the American Medical association recommended prescribing very large doses of Aspirin.

And then - after the lethal second wave struck in the autumn of 1918, new cases dropped abruptly – almost to nothing after the peak in the second wave. Possibly because the 1918 virus mutated extremely rapidly to a less lethal strain. This is a common occurrence with influenza viruses: there is a tendency for pathogenic viruses to become less lethal with time, providing more living hosts.
Possibly improved medical treatment of pneumonia symptoms also helped.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Joseph needs your vote.

I am considering the position of the Republican voter and have reduced it to three possibilities:

1:  They don't know or care about Joseph Smith, red is the colour and anti-gay,  anti choice, anti liberal is all that matters.

2:  They know about Joseph Smith and find his qualities as a narcissistic fraud to be appropriate and desirable for the job of President.

3:  They are securing the Bona fides of a willful idiot. 

Mitt, like any believer, is defined by his belief. Mitts belief is in Joseph Smith and his book of Mormon and if you are familiar with the story of Joseph Smith - you know Mitt is either an idiot for believing that second rate claptrap - or a man cast in the fraudulent lying image of the one he professes such life affirming dedication to.

So any voter must at some point ask themselves - does it matter if I vote for a man who openly professes life affirming dedication to a man defined by his his love of fraudulent deceit - his love of many wives for one man  - and his masterful confidence trickery in all matters of visionary revelation.

Its not as if information on Joseph Smith, his fraudulent deceits and his narcissistic personality disorder is hard to come by. He died in 1844 and records of his life are reliably recent.

I am not sure that it makes much difference to the worlds perception of America as a land of idiots whether Mitt is elected or that he was even nominated and in a position of being this close to being elected.

Here's the South Park summary to remind us that, whatever the polls for Mitt are - 40% or whatever - of Americans are dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

Friday, 5 October 2012

South Africa and AIDS

Went for a wonderful dinner last night in Wimbledon with a South African medical professional and authority on HIV who shall remain nameless.

South Africa is the worlds leading AIDS community with statistics that beggar belief. An estimated 5.6 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, the highest number of people in any country.

Considering the spectacular record of failure that has accompanied the ANC years in power, these 3 points arising from my conversation last night will surprise nobody.

Zuma has been taking antiretrovirals for his HIV+ status for ten years. This makes his 'shower defense' after the alleged rape of his HIV+ house guest entirely plausible. Its probably safe to assume that his multiple wives and all the people they sleep with are similarly affected and are themselves on antiretrovirals as well.

Thabo Mbeki was taking antiretrovirals for his HIV+ even when denying AIDS was a virus, saying "The cause was poverty, bad nourishment and general ill-health. The solution was not expensive western medicine, but the alleviation of poverty in Africa." Some 365,000 deaths followed, but not his, thanks to the antiretrovirals. His health minister,the now deceased Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, had proposed garlic, lemon juice and beetroot as AIDS remedies - while hundreds of thousands died and billions were saved on the Health budget spend for antiretrovirals.

80% of the current ministers are on antiretrovirals.

Heres an interesting page on the history of HIV in SA.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Killing for fun

There are few areas of human endeavour more disturbing than so called Sports Hunting - the euphemistic misnomer for the expanding business of Killing for Fun. 

The destruction of wild and caged animals perpetrated deceitfully as sports by one class of people and allowed for reward by another represents a prodigality and wastefulness which even the lowest savages would find inexcusable.

It is as wrong for a minority of sociopaths to be allowed to openly pursue this deviant blood lust as it is for those agencies rewarded for licensing the kill for fun business. It has no more to do with conservation than licensing pedophiles expensive opportunities in an orphanage would benefit children.

On the surface, at the heart of any ethical and moral consideration governing human conduct, those who kill defenceless animals for no higher purpose than their own amusement, trophy's for vanity and thrill of the kill, are wrong and in the absence of any conscientious epiphany connecting them to humanity, should be stopped in their killing tracks by law.

The most confusing part of this arrangement between man, appetite, ethics, conscience and dominion over the animals is that there is any debate at all.

Consider the photos. The ubiquitous Internet spread photos of Kill-for-fun glorious triumph arising from the need to show off the trophy. Anyone looking at one of these pictures of a fashionably dressed killer, rifle in hand, sporting a broad grin while they lean over the bloodied carcass of a 500 pound Black Mane Lion they have just shot in a cage, cannot fail to be drawn into the ethical position of what is going on.

These pictures offend on two levels. The morality of the subjects - proudly displaying something that is to the reasoned eye akin to watching a rapist show a video of his proud moment - and as they have become so very widely seen by so many, they serve an important role in glamorizing killing. Many who see these pictures without awareness of what is going on - see a proud winner - a beaming, victorious, triumphant mans-man - killing for glory. And the thought that killing is a splendid idea, the behaviour of champions and something worth emulating - takes hold.

The real name for Trophy Hunting is Killing-for-fun and it is a walk of shame for its participants. There is no possible avenue of debate that diminishes the value of life sufficiently to outweigh this reality. It is deviant behaviour giving rise to consequences.

Killing-for-fun is a terminology that leaves no room for confusion in the business of how we consider the moral and ethical issues arising from killing animals. Abattoirs feeding beef into the food chain, farmers killing animals for the community pot, conservationists needing to cull for balance, or survivalists needing to protect the home tent from Grizzly bear attack, all present a case for the killing of animals and all exclude the element of fun. Where there is a trophy involved - where there is no motivation greater than the entertainment element, the thrill of killing - it becomes Killing-For-Fun and it is this practice and this conduct that must be identified in law.

Killing-For-Fun is legal in those Countries where it is most prevalent, and especially in America, not only is killing for fun celebrated as a legitimate sporting activity, it is actively encouraged and promoted to many young people in a manner that reinforces the practice as a traditional right. Almost 5% of Americans kill animals for fun. All Americans who hunt, killing-for-fun, are by definition, ignorant malevolent human turds - like big time hunters Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent. (Turd Nugent?).

After 4 years of legal wrangling over canned hunting of lions in South Africa, on Monday, 29 November, 2010 the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa ruled in favour of the lion breeders. Canned hunting continues to be legal in South Africa. I can find no record of any legal challenge to the ANC over any Kill-for-Fun issue.

It is open season in South Africa a country with a long established tradition in legalizing Kill-for-Fun hunting going back to the period shortly after the arrival of the British in 1820. The San peoples, subsistence hunter gatherers known today as the Khomani San, were indigenous to the area. Unaware of the concept of property and theft they found the British farmers produce irresistible and helped themselves. The solution was to reclassify the San as vermin and undertake Kill-for-Fun hunting parties. And so a tradition was born.

Killing-For-Fun is a multi-billion dollar per year industry and like any sinister commercially motivated social arrangement based on the obviously wrong; like the Slave trade, like the Tobacco industry, Killing-For-Fun relies on a propaganda drive to sustain it for as long as possible after the critical mass of popular awareness reaches its tipping point. It starts with the name 'Sport Hunting.' Could anything be less sporting than a high powered telescopically sighted distant bullet felling a sedentary caged animal whose sporting participation is to do no more than die.

That tipping point for this gratuitous killing of animals for fun is now. Those involved in this odious industry will not stop pursuing the growth and expansion of their business model without a change in the law. And that change can only come from you and your voice. 

Every man is guilty of the good he did not do. ~ Voltaire

Imagine that you are a human being and that you have a voice and your voice is your vote and your time to vote is now. Either you condone Killing for fun or you don’t. It couldn't be simpler. You can stop the practice of Killing-for-fun with your vote at the next election. You could write to your representative and express your concerns, but really, all you have to do is make a decision. Is it right or wrong that Killing for fun is legal. Is it acceptable that pro killing lobbyists - like role model Olympians - should be allowed to openly promote Killing for fun?

Killing-For-Fun has two main areas of supply and demand. The demand lies mostly in America where children are raised to view hunting animals as a right of passage.

“Johny killed his first bear when he was 11. Took him don clean with a throat shot and then finished him with one to the head.” Little Johny glows with pride as Dad recalls his manly moment to beaming granny, who nods knowingly.

In 2001, in the USA over thirteen million hunters averaged eighteen days hunting, and spent over $20.5 billion on their sport. Thanks to the promotional efforts by celebrity killers of big game like US Olympic athlete Corey Cogdell, this number is growing.

And the richest supply area for this demand is Africa and especially South Africa. Organisations like the sinister ‘Hunting Legends’ who offer their 'outfitting services' to hunt anything that moves and design their website to attract visitors to opportunities like ‘Come hunt the big Five’ or ‘Special offer – Male and Female Lion pair at below market value rates.’

They set a ‘Market Value’ for the life of each species. Obviously the more endangered the item, the higher the price. For the big game hunter - the more endangered the animal is, the better the fun. Imagine the thrill of killing an animal so rare, you might be the last lucky person to pop a cap in that ass.

The providers of the kill-for-fun opportunities in Africa are authorised to kill in this way by Government Authority. In South Africa, one of the leading markets for big game kill for fun opportunity, the ANC Government have taken a view on policy regarding animal conservation and decided not to interfere with the Kill-for-fun market. A business generating hundreds of millions of rands each year, enabling companies like 'Africa Hunt' to advertise - 
'The Limpopo Province of South Africa is the premier destination in the World to hunt the Giraffe. Year round, we offer hunts for awesome Trophy Giraffe. There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting the Giraffe in South Africa, which makes it a suitable trophy year round.'

Should your thrill requirements extend to a whole family of Giraffe, just say. For a small surcharge, with thanks to the ANC Government making South Africa the world leader in this fun, you can elect to take the whole family in the same shoot. Mum, dad and baby Gerald, for that little extra zing.

The South African Kill-for-fun operators have been so successful in this market place that the local source of Lions for Lion kill safaris has exhausted supplies to the extent that Lions from European Zoo's are shipped in to boost local business. This includes canned hunting. Where the animals are confined to a fenced in area, making them easy to locate and kill. Essentially - it is a cage where the hunter can safely stay on the outside whilst being guaranteed of finding the prey easily. Often the prey is hand reared and semi-tame. Canned hunting is extremely popular in America, where 'Born Free' estimates more than 1,000 canned hunting operations trade, while nearly 54,000 animals were killed in 2004 in South African canned hunts. The client base of African Hunts is almost entirely from: USA, Britain, Spain, France and Germany.

At this time South Africa's government have no reviews of the kill-for-fun laws. It remains open season. Apply for a concession. Pay the tax and you too can set up a lucrative business selling kill for fun opportunities like Hippo, Crocodile, families of Giraffe, entire Lion Prides, Baboon, every form of Buck, Warthogs, Hyena, Zebra. Even donkeys. It is only a matter of time before some enterprising trader sees the value in offering big dogs to the market. Or is it.

The African Big Dog Hunting safari.
'Come hunt Africa's big five dogs - Alsatian, Doberman, Bull Mastiff, Rottweiler and Great Dane.'

 The Wives don't have to be left out. For the ladies we provide light guage shotguns for the mini poodle shoot. They can shoot mini poodles fed in on a conveyer belt, until they have enough of the kill thrill.

The law will not change without voter pressure. Imagine if you cancelled your next South African holiday until the Government outlawed all forms of 'Kill-for Fun' animal slaughter. The ANC enable kill-for-fun. Why not tell your travel agent the reason you are not supporting tourism to South Africa. If the fall off in tourism dollars exceeded the revenues from the sale of kill-for-fun business, the law would change.

Times change and as they change so our relationship with morality shifts, sometimes towards the higher good. Only a few hundred years ago slave traders presented humans at market for good Christian buyers to negotiate their ownership. At that time many would have looked on in horror, disbelieving that conduct so obviously at odds with the notion of acceptable human behaviour existed at all, let alone be allowed to continue. But continue it did, with many voices raised in its defense, all of which had one thing in common. In some way they profited from slavery, be it through cheap cotton picking labour or through domestic help in the kitchen or through Christian Southern Daddy ordering the maid to bend over and submit sexually.

Killing-For-Fun is a lot like slavery, in both the analogy and in practice. Just as arguments were raised in defense of slavery, the pro fun-killing lobby have their various arguments by which they defend their right to continue their tradition. Appropriate in this context, as all English students of Political History will recall, are the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies in the Profumo trial when presented with his fallacious denial. ‘Well he would, wouldn’t he.’ 

The pro fun-killing lobby argument is based on no more than that. They will say what ever they need to say to fly in the face of what is blindingly obvious. Killing for fun is not only wrong. It is unacceptable in the same way that old men having sex with 9 year old's is unacceptable. Those who practice Killing-For-Fun are not defending some constitutional right, or as is often presented as their justification - supporting conservation. They are killing-for-fun. An offense against nature that normalizes a behavioral pattern that says ‘Killing for fun is OK.’

I wonder if there is any credible argument refuting the connection between America’s world leading position in fielding serial killers hunting humans and the popularity of Killing-For-Fun. I doubt it.

Those suppliers in the commerce in that drives this bloody business interest in Africa, the game farm operators, farmer owners of large tracts who see thrill kill licenses as lucrative revenue generators which they present as a conservation opportunity, and their accomplices in Government, both rely rely on one thing for their business model. Your silence. Or, your unawareness of what it is they are doing that keeps you from having an opinion.

The presentation of the conservation argument - Kill-for-fun benefits conservation efforts - is like the Pedophile orphanage argument. Lets charge Pedophiles to play in the orphanage because it will raise lots of money to help the poor orphans. We could set a market rate. Two years old's at a real premium.

The most successful of Africa's Kill-for-fun operators are connected to Government offices and the amounts involved reflect the popularity of their product in Americas wealthy kill-for-fun market.
Here are two examples. Chelsy Davy, occasional bed-mate of British Royal, Diana's son Harry, is the daughter of Charles Davy. Charles is a big game hunter with extensive game rich property holdings in Zimbabwe, Mugabe's kingdom, better known for evicting white land owners than encouraging them. What is the secret of Charles' success in this market where white landowners are disadvantaged in extremus? If you want to hunt rhino – you can find out for yourself. There's big money in being a prudent conservationist. Especially one whose daughter nobbs royalty.

Then there’s the growing crop of South African brokers of kill-for-fun opportunity. Groups like Hunting Legends, where, for a fee you can be driven to a safe spot close to where Hippos graze, sight up a hippo through your telescopic scope and blast his brains out before being led to the carcass for a photo opportunity.

Big crocodiles are another popular draw. And for those American clients looking to relive the glories of a good southern lynching, no longer available to a wealthy American gentleman, for an add on fee you can have the next best thing. The South African Rangers will hang your crocodile from a tree for your photo opp. So advanced is this practice that the post kill photo opportunity with the slaughtered animal includes a set of standard positional poses for the carcass. Consider the challenge with a giraffe. Where would you put the neck for maximum photographic effect? Its hard work being a kill-for-fun entrepreneur with the ANC program.

The organisations supposed to be defending the rights of the animals are themselves seemingly as corrupt as Interpol with is former employees relationships with fraud. Spain's WWF Honorary president, until very recently, was King Juan Carlos, a man who at 18 shot his 14 year old brother, Alfonso, in the face and still went on to become a brilliant big game Hunter. His exploits include bringing down 4 year old domestically raised Russian Zoo Bear, Mitrofan, who was fed Vodka and released from his cage into the Forest to provide keen King Carlos with a target. Only after hurting himself on a Hunting trip in Botswana where he was killing elephants did it become untenable for the WWF to pretend that they were anything more than a distraction to those interested in animal protection.

Like the slaves, who had no voice for themselves, and who suffered and died only because a dumbed down majority said nothing, animals die for exactly the same reason today. Kill-for-fun industry can only continue with your approval. If you say no - to the practice and to the people practicing it you will become the voice of those animals. They do not want to be gunned down for fun. And they are not in any way a part of some conservation drive. They are simply victims of an ignorant vanity, into which successive generations are groomed to support the industry arising from the fun to be found in killing. The kill thrill.

All you need to do to play your part is to demand an end to Killing-for-Fun. It is not a legitimate sport any more than whipping slaves or raping maidens ever was.

Killing for fun is wrong. It is indefensible on any level and it should be outlawed.

Facebook pics are here. And my song KILL FOR FUN is HERE

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

McDonalds Olympics

According to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author".
Consider for a moment the moral and material interests of the people of Olympia and the games they devised. The games at Olympia – a festival in honour of Zeus that attracted the best athletes from all over Greece who would come to the Olympia games to compete in a range of events, long distance running, sprint races, horse racing, pentathlon, discus, javelin, jumping, boxing, wrestling and so on, in the hope of winning the highest accolade available to an athlete. The Olympic title. The games would close with the presentation of the olive leaf crowns.

These events began around 760 BC and took place every four years, growing in popularity to peak around 500 BC, after which time increasing Roman influence in Greece led to a decline in their popularity and their pagan origins became a target for authorities to eliminate. Around 400 BC  Emperor Theodosius destroyed many Greek temples in a purge of Pagan custom, and the Olympia Games ended.

Years later in 1821 after Greece emerged from the 400 year nightmare of Islamic subjugation, Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games began. The poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in his 1933 poem "Dialogue of the Dead" recorded the intention for Greece to return the tradition of Olympic games. 

Evangelis Zappas, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist, first wrote to King Otto of Greece, in 1856, offering to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games. Zappas sponsored the first Olympic Games in 1859, which was held in an Athens city square. Athletes participated from Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Zappas funded the restoration of the ancient Panathenaic stadium so that it could host all future Olympic Games. The Panathinaiko Stadium hosted Olympics in 1870 and 1875. Thirty thousand spectators attended the Games in 1870. The legacy of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas, was also used to fund the Olympic Games of 1896.

In 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat, former pupil at Rugby and academic, was ‘inspired’ to found the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This in no way might be misinterpreted as seeing a good idea and stealing it because there was then no idea of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or even consideration for the value in an intellectual property. Or to put it another way; Intelligent rich Frenchman sees huge reputation building opportunity and very successfully puts one over Greek chaps of less fortunate education and means, to secure for himself and his own name an idea that was not his, creating ownership of copyright to a name that is not his with the intention of generating commercial gain out of the new copyright without including the creative originators of the various constituent parts of the copyright, including the owners of the name Olympia. 
Bearing in mind at that time Greece was only a few decades out of the 400 year Muslim oppression which had suppressed education, and as a result there were not many highly educated Greeks able to negotiate at the same level as the better qualified French.

Coubertin built on the ideas and work of Brookes and Zappas with the aim of establishing internationally rotating Olympic Games that would occur every four years. A quite brilliant innovation given that the original games took place every four years. Coubertin presented these ideas during the first Olympic Congress of the newly created International Olympic Committee. This meeting was held from 16 to 23 June 1894, at the Sorbonne University in Paris. On the last day of the Congress, it was decided that the first Olympic Games, to come under the auspices of the IOC, would take place in Athens in 1896. 

The IOC elected the Greek writer Demetrius Vikelas as its first president. Vikelas was known for translating Shakespeare into Greek and for opening the first Greek school in London. Vikelas’s wife Kalliope was at this time suffering mental problems and being treated in Paris, where he lived for 15 years and where Kalliope would die round about the time the Games were being held. Vikelas held the Olympic role briefly, resigning from the IOC after the games, to be replaced as a member by the Count Alexander Mercati, a golf playing Greek Royal, and as president by Coubertin.
And that’s how the games were hijacked by a smart rich Frenchman and turned into a copyright protected trading company, without paying a penny in royalties to the rightful owners of the idea. Just by placing a token literate Greek in a nominal position and awarding the first games to Athens.
The first IOC Games in Athens were a success, largely as a result of Greek Government funding, building a stadium and proper facilities, while hoping to recoup their outlay through ticket sales. Although the games ran at a loss, establishing a position that would visit the taxpayers paying for every subsequent games, the success of the games generated strong feeling in Greece that Athens should host the Olympic Games on a permanent basis. The IOC with its French leadership declined this request and promptly scheduled the next games for – wait – surely not – Paris.  

Paris was not properly prepared as a host City and the experience almost killed off the Games. The tax payers of France were not stupid enough to underwrite the cost of a stadium and so the games went ahead without one. The next games of 1904 were in America and were even more of a misinterpretation of the Olympic ideal, featuring 650 athletes of which 580 were Americans.
But by now the games, the intellectual property of the Olympian ideal, had been removed from Greece and rebranded as something completely different. Was it less than the theft of a national artifact.
When I visited Olympia in 1971 I was struck by how clearly the events the ruins display resembled today’s Olympic program. In terms of a business idea, the model that is the Olympic formula was clearly completed there. I was ten at the time and my first comment was, ‘Why do they not hold the Olympic games here.’ It seemed so obvious. Build a permanent centre here and every four years invite the worlds best to compete in the tradition that was devised in Olympia for their games.

Then there’s the issue of the name. Olympia is a place that started Olympic Games. Why does this current corporate behemoth known as the Olympic games not pay a royalty for the exploitation of an idea which belongs to Olympia. The structure, the idea, the spine of the events, the recognition of triumph, the sporting ethos, all of which the IOC claim as their Olympic Games, rely on a stolen set of ideas and benefits no one excepting corporate sponsors whose profits invariably arise from the tax payers in the host cities left paying bills for years after the corporate sponsors have paid out their executive bonuses.

Then there’s the Nazis. Carl Diem was a great admirer of De Coubertin. Diem was instrumental in winning the Olympics for Berlin in 36. However in 33 Hitler came to power and his take on the Olympics was as “a project of Jews and Freemasons." Diem expected him to cancel the Olympics, but Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, convinced him that the games would be an excellent showcase for German organization and pride. At a March 1933 meeting, six weeks after taking power, Hitler informed Diem he would support the games. Six months later, after touring the construction sites for the sporting arenas, he told Diem that the German state would pay the bills. Diem in exchange did a bang up job of giving Hitler maximum value for money by introducing a new idea in promoting the games. The Olympic Torch, to be run around Germany to generate interest. Diem, originator of the Olympic flame worked closely with his Nazi paymasters, and in 45 with the Russian Army closing in on Berlin, returned to the Olympic stadium to address a crowd of thousands of Hitler youth, exhorting them to ‘fight to the death’. Which many of them did.  
In trying to understand why people support this heinous organisation and all that it represents I have devised a top ten list of  reasons why the Olympics are great. If you are:
  • Royal or Pro Royal
  • An admirer of corporatism
  • An admirer of conformity
  • A member of the armed forces
  • A share holder in drug companies
  • A profiteer in lowest common denominator shares
  • Riveted by the diving board
  • Mesmerized by hairy Bulgarians herniating in front of your very eyes
  • Can’t get enough of hairy Bulgarians herniating in front of your very eyes
  • A lover of supersized Big Macs with fries
  • Untroubled by extraordinary and uncontained prestige visited on athletes for no more than athletic prowess

I see the Olympics as a series of thefts. Starting with the name. I haven’t followed Olympics since I was 13. I was watching news coverage of the Munich Olympics when the Israeli team were taken hostage and I saw the picture of an athlete sunbathing. In the background was the masked gunman in the window behind which the hostages must have shaking with terror. But none of that interfered with the athletes focus in getting some relaxation time in before the next event. And that got me thinking. These games are not about sport at all. The sporting ethos that underpinned an ethical code between all the original participants is no longer, replaced now by a selfish journey to personal greatness. If this event was played out in Olympia - where criminals captured athletes and held them at knifepoint - I strongly suspect all the other Olympians would have stopped whatever they were doing to offer support to their fellow athletes. Or at the very least, stopped playing games while lives were being threatened. The context is the clue. In the context of terrible atrocity - the idea of prioritizing winning in games over compassionate concern reveals a total abscence of a sporting spirit.

But these games are not about any of those ideals. They are no more than a controlling device enabling a small group to direct profits for their own benefit by playing on a lowest common denominator appeal - the sporting traditions devised in Olympia. These games – where guests can only pay with Visa and no other card, and only eat McDonalds and no other burger and only drink coke products – have nothing to do with sport. Entry to the grounds is equivalent to airport security with body scanners and no liquids allowed in.Visitors are warned to expect long delays being searched for entry.
Then there’s the bill. The Olympic charter places the costs of the event squarely in the hands of the tax payer.  Should these games be like all previous games – and leave a  behind a massive bill – then that cost is down to our tax dollars. Every dollar spent on these games is a dollar that wasn’t spent on education or policing, or establishing a working Health Service. Every dollar spent paying back the huge bills come out of budgets for Policing, education and establishing a working Health service.

Just have a look at the bill Athens paid for the 2004 Olympics. $11 Billion. Didn’t cause them any problems so why should we worry.

And what do the lowest common denominator succubi get for their participation? Here’s my speculative top ten:
  • A chance to sing God save the Queen and wave flags.
  • A chance to cheer the Carl Deim torch running past their window. (An celebrate those Hitler youth going off to certain death.)
  • A chance to wonder whether that runner is really a man.
  • A chance to admire the American Archer who honed his skills killing 300 pound bears.
  • A chance to admire Olympian Cory Cognell, the American kill for fun hunter whose recreation is killing animals for fun and posing over their dead bodies with her beaming Kill Thrill grin.
  • A chance to admire the Saudi flag being waved along with all that represents.
  • A chance to enjoy all the free music by bands who aren’t being paid and who can never use the Olympic name to promote their participation.
  • A chance to see Prince William carrying the flag, possibly even in his military uniform with the shiny buttons.
  • A chance to watch Saudi Arabia play football against Yemen
  • A chance to hear the McDonalds out of tune whistle every three minutes
  • A chance to see the BBC – who have no advertisements because you pay a TV license, advertising Visa/McDonalds/Coke and whoever else tells them to run their ads.

My home is being barricaded up even as I write. Swarms of little Olympic workers are swanning around with steel barriers, blocking the roads. The roads we pay huge amounts in Council tax to use are not ours to use at all for three days. Nor are the sidewalks. Metal barricades everywhere to hold back the teeming hordes who will descend to watch the bicycle riders whizz past. The trees that stood on the riverbank facing my house all disappeared in one brisk day of tree surgery last Month.  I came out to enquire of the gang with chainsaws as I watched the trees that have stood here for longer than I have been alive coming down. 

‘For the Olympics mate. Clear shot for the camera.
But we need to get planning permission from the council to chop even a branch off a tree here. How can you remove every single tree from the riverbank without so much as a notice to the residents”.
Olympics mate. Its their call.”

They own it all and we pay for it. That’s the Olympic spirit. Those able to travel will be out of the Country for the next Month.

For the rest of us the McDonalds Olympics present a great opportunity to enjoy a big mac and coke, supersized, while participating in one of the greatest ‘rich taking from the poor’ moments in modern history.

And they’ll be back to do it all over again in 4 years time.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sophie and Johann

The story of Sophie Scholl has fascinated me for many years. Such courage and dignity in one so young and so lovely makes a refreshing alternative to the more plentiful examples of humanity without conscience.

I was reading a page I made on Celebrity memorials of Sophie when two things struck me. Her final words as she faced the guillotine on that day in 1943, following what must have been cruel and terrifying interrogation by the Gestapo were

"Such a fine sunny day and I have to go."

And linked to that page was the name Johann Reichhart. The 8th generation German executioner, the worlds leading practioner of this dark art where he favoured the guillotine for its superior efficiency, ending over 3,000 lives by his own hand.

Sophie died a traitor and a criminal, sentenced to death for protesting the Nazi ways through membership of the White Rose.  Johann was of course an upstanding member of the community and a first rate civil servant bound by duty to his employment.

And yet, despite the dehumanising effects of mindless conformity to one repetitive task legitimized in the guise of employment, I couldn't help but wonder how Johann must have felt when he heard this beautiful 21 year old say those words before he placed her head on the brace and pressed the lever to end her life.

With the passage of time, Sophie's story lives on. The convicted traitor is shown for what she was, inspiring many millions to confidence in their own beliefs, while the duty bound civil servant  doing his job and saluting the flag is revealed by the passage of time.

Sophie and Johann who met briefly on 22 February 1943, joined forever in a moment in time that shows the best and worst of humanity.

Here is their story told in song.

Sophie and Johann.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Religions top 25.

In honour of the estimable preacher and multiple doctorate awardee Erwin Lutzer, whose immaculately conceived '21 day challenge' converts atheists with flawless efficiency, I have been inspired to come up with my own 25 day challenge. Believers need spend just ten minutes each day researching each of the numerically listed blessings of Religion.

The top 25 things which would not be possible without Religion.

2.    Male genital mutilation, also known euphemistically as ‘circumcision.’

3.    Entrenched misogyny. The deliberate and systematic oppression of women through Religious direction.

4.    So called honour killings.

5.    Child abuse - Instilling the terrifying notion of original sin and hell in defenseless children

6.    Child brides.

7.    Elderly men sanctioned for having sex with preteens 

8.    Elderly men sanctioned for having sex with multiple preteens simultaneously.

9.    The stoning to death of women for adultery based on the word of a male accuser.

10. The burqa

11. The ignorant bearded unwashed rotten-toothed impoverished vehicles of hate living for no higher purpose than to kill Kfirs.

12. Blasphemy laws that persecute any non believer. Historically including the most barbaric of ritual executions.

13. Exorcisms, including Witchcraft themes, that leave children dead. Often including vicious sadistic beatings.

14. The cynical exploitation of the most needy by the avaricious. Commonly practiced by Evangelicals in America

15. Promoting sexual prejudice toward masturbation inviting dysfunctional sexual development.

16. Promoting views on contraception at odds with prevailing wisdom often with horrific consequences.

17. Promoting a system of Church sanctioned child sex abuse so comprehensive that in Belgium for instance, 100% of Catholic Churches have recorded instances of sex abuse by Priests.

18. Giving us the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, where unwed mothers were so mercilessly ruined.

19. Attacking and retarding educational advances. Most recently Boko Haram take up the front line of the battle once dominated so convincingly by the Catholics.

20.  Attacking and in some cases committing genocide on ethnic groups in the name of God. Anatolia. Bosnia…..

21. Seducing the weak minded and vulnerable into a mental position in which they surrender their opportunity to experience a full and meaningful life.

22.  Disempowering individuals through guilt and blame into a position of submissive dependence in which lack of personal accountability makes them vulnerable to the irrational.

23. The practice of Slavery and trading of slaves by Christians and Muslims.

24. Promoting a ‘he who is not for me is against me’ premise which has provided the impetus for countless wars since the advent of Religion.

25. Normalising hypocrisy and presenting the ridiculous as fact.

And just in case there's room left, the bonus point is:

26. Encouraging, often requiring, homophobic prejudice and persecution.