Adventures of Frangipan

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Animal Farm

After doing several pub quizzes with questions about Animal Farm, I decided to finally read the book. I knew it was about Communism and its perversion to dictatorship, but I didn't realise it was based on Stalin and Russia in particular, and its colourful history of trying to get it published at a time when the UK and USA were allied with Russia, despite its politics, poverty, human rights abuses and everything else. And also how apt Orwell's words are still today, much as with Nineteen Eighty-Four.

So here are a few wise words from the appendix, which was to be Orwell''s preface:

  • "In this country, intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face"
  • "The British press is extremely centralised and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics"
  • "A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing"
  • "Is every opinion, however unpopular - however foolish, even - entitled to a hearing?"
  • "In [the] case [that] current orthodoxy happens to be challenged...the principle of free speech lapses"
  • "Freedom, as Rosa Luxembourg said, is 'freedom for the other fellow'. The same principle is contained in the famous words of Voltaire: 'I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it.'"
  • "There is now a widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods. If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what needs. And who are its enemies? It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who 'objectively' endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines. In other words, defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought."
  • "These people don't see that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you"
  • "At least let us have no more of this nonsense about defending liberty against Fascism. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lady Scarlet and the Mysterons

Hope & Anchor, Denbigh - 19th December 2009.

Check out some of my photos in my Flickr album.

Some videos are also available on YouTube.

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Copenhagen Climate Talks

I won't go into any great detail right now (mostly because I've only been hearing the headlines), but it would be a great disappointment if the 'world leaders' don't reach a substantial agreement in Copenhagen this week. Developed nations seem content to continue as they are, despite all the warnings. And why should we trust these leaders, when we already know they're only interested in short term gains that keep them in office?

They seem perfectly happy to spend billions to wage war and access more oil, rather than spend less (still billions, but much less) on developing renewable energy technology and reducing demand (through actions such as better insulation and behaviour change to produce less waste).

But fair play to the Small Island nations, who are being outspoken and getting their views across. And why shouldn't they? The behaviour of developed nations over the past 200 years means they may have to abandon their entire island (see Dan Box's blog on the Carteret Islands for the first climate change refugees).

The New Economics Foundation are conducting research on monetary reform: "A combination of centralisation, globalisation and deregulation has allowed private financial institutions to create a credit bubble which has now burst". This financial system has crippled the natural world: businesses buy and ship products worldwide; massive consumption has lead to huge tracts of land being brought into 'productive' use; people with disposable income are encouraged to spend their money on the latest stuff, then throw it away and replace it with the newer stuff six months later; nothing is built to last. Everything is secondary to the market: family, community, the natural environment, politics, democracy...

And to finish I will quote a Cree Indian proverb: "Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money."

Follow COP15 with:
Friends of the Earth
The Ecologist Magazine

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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Resolutions 2010

That time of year to think about resolutions again (and Christmas obviously). But first I will look back at the 2009 ones.

1. Straight edge - the no drinking has gone really well. It has become easier as the year has gone on, and I can't see any reason to drink again, at least not in the near future. I will probably have a couple of drinks to celebrate on New Years, mostly because I have alcohol in my house to use up and they were gifts so I don't want to give them to other people. Some 'friends' have even promised to get me very drunk. No smoking and no drugs has also gone fine since I didn't do that anyway. No casual sex has improved towards the end of the year.

2. Old boys - apparently they are the only ones around! Quite a few seem to have come back around this year, and very few new ones have appeared. So it has been a bit dull this year!

3. Welsh - started classes in September.

4. Give more money to charity - I haven't set up a regular giving scheme, but I have bought quite a few copies of the Big Issue, shopped in charity shops, given a few coins at every fundraiser we've had at work, and once again buying a lot of Oxfam Unwrapped gifts as Christmas presents.

5. Exercise more - not really done this one.

6. Spend more time with friends - definitely achieved. Despite spending less on night out since not drinking, I still have no money because I'm socialising much more. I've done loads more with my friends this year than ever before, expanded my circle of friends, and generally feel a lot happier about it.

7. Blog more - haven't been a regular, but have posted more than previus years.

New resolutions for 2010
Along with continuing and expanding the good work of 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 above, I also intend to:

Become a vegan - I have been a vegetarian for about 14 years (also a resolution), but more recently I have become uncomfortble about these animals' lives existing purely for our benefit, and the environmental aspects (animal farming takes up more land and more energy than plant farming).

Reduce emissions - I have signed up to 10:10 to reduce my carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. I will find some parts very easy, such as reducing heating and electricity bills as I keep these down anyway, but leaving the car behind will be difficult, especially since public transport is so ridiculously expensive around here.

Exercise more - back for 2010! It has to be cheap and carbon-efficient though. So walking and biking and riding the horses.

Become an activist - I have a lot of opinions and I read a lot of alternative media, but I don't really pass anything on. So the plan is to lobby politicians and decision makers, inform my friends and family, and take part in events such as talks and demonstrations.

They may be more by December 31st, but that's all I've got for now.