Earth is Burning

They say the earth is burning,

But I don’t think it will affect me.

It is quite cool where I live,Trash-Fire-Pro-2015081716

And warming would be a relief.

I don’t worry about rising oceans,

Because I live on a big hill.

I feel sorry for people in Africa,

Their crops are likely to fail,

But I get my food from Tesco,

So it’s really no big deal.

As Maldives goes under water,

I may have to change my holiday plans,

But I like going to the Himalayas;

I’ll just go there again.

It’s sad so many animals are going extinct.

I’m glad I’m a human, or I’d be worried sick.

Yes, the temperature is rising.

It seems to get worse and worse.

I’m so happy I’m only visiting,

And not a permanent resident of Earth.

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Stupider than Stewart Lee

I’m too stupid to understand Stewart Lee.

And his experiments with Brechtian Irony.

He pretends to be cut from the same cloth

As the smug bastards club of comedic sloth.img_0327

Americans can’t understand the ribald sophistication

Of the comedic genius of a truly cultured nation.

How could I know what this accomplished savant is on about?

I’m just a rube, and his in-jokes always leave me out.

He’s made it clear he’s too clever to enjoy Game of Thrones.

And his words hurt me even more than sticks and stones.

I love his impressions of Jeremy Clarkson and Steve Lamac

But simply can’t understand his more subtle attacks.

He makes fun of James Corden just for being a fan

And any comedian obtuse enough to be American.

Stuart Lee proudly insists he’s a left-wing elitist

Unless he’s not, and he’s just taking the piss.

How stupid can you be and still pretend to be smart?

Is this satire, silliness or a higher form of art?

I would pretend to be smarter than Stuart Lee,

But I know he would immediately see through me.

I’ve always liked finely tuned satire in comedy,

But I’m too stupid to understand Stewart Lee.

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Hagiography

In the Halls of Knowledge

The Great Men shared their wisdom

With emperors, kings, monarchs, and generals.IMG_2596

Great women shared their insights and guidance, too,

But their words are stored in different wings of the Great Hall.

It was the Great Men who laid the foundations

For civilisation, for democracy, for tyranny,

Architectural planning, sewage, and war.

It was the Great Men who failed to save humanity

From the thirst for destruction men can never quench.

Some warned against aggression and greed,

Others advised on the proper path to power,

But the Final Solution was always one fault away.

These hoary gentlemen appear to watch over us,

But their stony eyes have no more sight,

Than the once active brains that planned

A future of deprivation and conflict.

They’ve let us down for three-thousand years, now,

But we keep returning to the font for another drink.

Surely this time Confucius will save us,

Or perhaps Seneca’s sagacity won’t be ignored.

Maybe Erasmus can calm the passions of the commoners.

 

I will smash the stone feet of those assumed sophic.

Their dead eyes, long blind, offer me no vision.

Their petty squabbles resolve no crisis.

Let them rot and roil the dead with their mendacity.

Let them be forgotten for giving us false hope

That we might see a brighter future.

Let their names be trammeled underfoot

As we race to our annihilation.

They should have seen it would be the only resolution.

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(Dis)Associates

Straddling me, you shake your hair, grin, and gaze down.

“What do you really want me to do?” you say.

I really want you to become a fortress.IMG_6604

I want you to be the wall against the hordes.

I want you to be an opaque integument and block the light.

I want you to envelop me, surround me, and smother me.

I want you to take me away or bring me home.

I want you to numb the pain or make me feel.

I want you to make it all go away.

 

“Where are you, right now?” you say.

As your voice quivers, I float back into place.

I settle down in my skin again.

I can hear you and eventually my eyes

Focus on your face and your lips.

I explain everything to you in detail,

But you can’t hear me, despite the screams.

You can’t hear me from the other side.

I will have to cross over—meet you half way.

 

I whisper, “Please don’t leave me.”

You promise to stay forever as I slip

Into orbit again watching this dance.

I see you lean over to kiss the tears

And brush my cheek. To my surprise,

My face seems to respond in gratitude.

It would seem my body remembers

What to do, and you understand it as well.

In the end, the two of you sustain me.

 

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Corporatocracy and Me

The East India Company was the first modern corporation,

And it is credited with introducing the world to markets that are free,

But it brought the free market enforced by the world’s largest standing army.

It was the beginning of colonialism, imperialism, and Corporatocracy.

The EIC introduced the world to spices, tea, and global slavery.

Some in the United States rebelled with a giant tea party,

It set off a revolution but didn’t bring down corporate rule,

The robber baron bosses soon controlled trade, news, and even schools.

We may think their practices went against the principles of enlightenment.

But the EIC employed such men as John Locke, JS Mill, and Jeremy Bentham.

So the first corporation took control of public attitudes and education.

Promulgating equality for all European, land-owning men.

While denying rights to all those considered less than human.

When the US tried to recognise non-white men with an amendment

Giving them equal protection from abuse and harassment,

The railroad said, “Hey, corporations are people, too,”

And the courts went along as they always do.

 

Well, what’s past is past, and now it’s all good.

We’ve grown used to the idea of corporate personhood.

Citizens United taught us money is speech

You have a voice, but Exxon’s has more reach.

And Monsanto, now Bayer, wants to feed the entire globe,

By controlling food, seeds, farming, drugs, and microbes.

You have no other choice than to just trust them,

As manufacturers lead us on a race to the bottom.

Apple computers are built in factories with suicide nets.

Because conditions are so bad workers prefer death.

Our clothes are made in sweatshops where workers burn.

We’ve no choice to buy them is all that we’ve learned.

In 2007, the financial sector destroyed the economy,

But workers bailed them out with hard-earned money.

Now we’ve cut funding for public education.

Replacing it with the public/private partnership.

Giving business control of science, arts, and research.

IF you want unbiased info, you’re left in the lurch.

But what about corporations great philanthropy?

Don’t They give developmental aid from sense of charity?

No, They buy up or steal resources and flood markets with free food,

Destroying the economy and local businesses for good.

You can scream about Trump or any other entity,

But corporations are your true enemy.

 

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Rest Rooms in the UK

Last night, I was attending a gig at one of my favourite Manchester venues. One of the people from the venue was standing near the stage, which put him right in front of the passage to the venue’s comfort facilities. I usually use my best British English, but I slipped and said, “Excuse me, I just need to get to the rest room . . . toilet. I need the toilet signtoilet.”

I wasn’t fast enough; he immediately said, “You Americans always seem to need a rest. I have a sofa if you need a quick lie down.” He followed with, “Americans don’t like to say ‘toilet,’ do they? Why is that?” I said, “Well, I think some Americans think it sounds a little crude.” (Note: I come from a family that was reticent about mentioning this process at all. The word “facilities” seemed too direct for us.)

He then said, “For Americans, ‘toilet’ refers to the actual device, doesn’t it?” “Yes,” I said, “If you ask Americans where the toilet is, they are likely to tell you it is in the bathroom.”

“Ah, yes,” he said, “When Americans ask to use my bathroom, I tell them ‘Sure, but don’t soak too long. Tea will be ready soon.’”

Goodness, how long does it take to make a cup of tea?*

*Yes, I do know the answer to this, but that is for another post.

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Fast Cars in the UK

Someone recently asked me whether I thought people in England drive too fast. The question took me by surprise because, no, with but a few notable exceptions people in the UK do not drive fast. It probably isn’t for a lack of a speedy impulse but for the restrictions UK traffic calming measures impose.

Yes, the UK keeps traffic slow through the use of ubiquitous speed cameras, speed traffic calming (1)bumps, winding roads that twist and double back for no discernible reason, one-lane two-way roads, and lines of parked cars on both sides of all public roadways. (Yes, there are motorways, but I rarely see one.)

All this combines to make travel in the UK quite slow indeed. It is a cliché to say that Americans think 200 years is a long time and Brits think 200 miles is a long way, but it became a cliché because it’s true. In the US, I would generally estimate my arrival time by allowing one minute for each mile. If I needed to travel 15 miles, I would allow 15 minutes (20 minutes if it was important enough to have a few extra minutes). In the UK, 15-mile trips regularly take 45 minutes or more, even without major traffic disruptions. A 200-mile trip is not something to be taken lightly.

For the most part, Brits are patient and courteous in traffic, taking turns and letting one another pass in a fairly equitable arrangement. You occasionally run into a rude and selfish driver, of course, but it isn’t the rule. Brits will tell you they are known for their ability to queue (stand in line) in an orderly, polite, and efficient manner.

If they are better at standing in queues than other cultures, it must be because they have so many opportunities to do so. Queues abound, and they are not famous for moving quickly. Things generally move faster in the US—except the post office. I typically get in and out of the post office much faster in the UK than in the US.

Life in the UK is mostly slower than what I’ve been used to, and I like it that way almost all the time. Sometimes the American in me breaks out and I get exasperated with pointless waiting, but every American has to be an ugly one from time to time, even if we are trying to dispel stereotypes.

Of course, Brits can lose their patience, too, when pushed too far. And that’s what Northern Rail has done. By making everyone late to absolutely everything, Brits in the northwest now have to rush around all the time, getting a taste of the American goal of always shaving a few minutes off travel time and being perpetually irritable. Surely, something will have to be done.

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