DAY 53 – Illegal

July 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I haven’t yet broken the law on this blog, I’m ashamed to say, apart from trivial thefts of pictures without paying copyright.

I was moved to this thought by learning today from the Guardian that my old Brummie friend Flavio Garcia has been banned » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 52 – Wotan

July 23rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve finally achieved my aim of becoming the victim of a digital crime which I didn’t know existed. Nothing to do with the deep net, or the silk road, or even bitcoins. Nearer, I think, to identity theft, in that  I came to consciousness, sort of, yesterday to find that my phone line had been stolen. » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 51 – Dog Days

July 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Or midsummer madness, or ‘la canicule’, as we say in France. Hundreds of bathers are overcome by the heat and hospital staff have naturally taken July off. The weather situation in these parts is, as the mercury climbs, inducing a kind of collective mania; at the wrong time since Bad Pharma has slapped huge hikes on the price of psychotropic drugs. » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 50 – Ramadan

July 10th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

We’ve got through Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, all those Christian festivities – and it’s finally Ramadan. And a great Ramadan to you all, my fasting readers. Avoid dates from settlements, and you can’t go wrong.

And yes, there is no truth in the reports that Andy Murray is about to be fast-tracked into canonization. Apart from » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 49

July 2nd, 2013 § Comments Off on DAY 49 § permalink

First, a tribute to Mick Hodgkin, author of ‘A History of the World in 100 Limericks’ (à paraître). I can’t compete, having neither the skill nor the time; but I thought I could just about manage a history of the world in one haiku:

Make tools, writing, coins;

War, Zen, class struggle, the movies;

Internet shopping.

As a summary it seems crisp and to the point, but a pedantic friend pointed out there’s a syllable too many. Pah! I could amputate it, but I don’t think it would convey my meaning so well – such problems must arise all the time and I could probably get help on an online haiku-writers’ forum. To hell with it, take it as it is. Next week, the First World War.


We haven’t been having enough ‘art’ lately, as opposed to ‘images’, if you know what I mean. So here’s a pic by the late Patrick Caulfield, currently showing at Tate Britain. (Reminiscent of Morandi? Surely not.)

I bitched recently about the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the ‘cold DNA’ issue. (Your DNA is cold if you haven’t been found guilty of a crime, it’s hot if you have, That’s how they tell the difference.) At the time I confessed to some ignorance on the UK situation. Do more research! Years back in 2008 the ECHR decided the case of S. and Marper against the then Government – Blair, of course – ruling that to hold on to the DNA profiles of the innocent (as the police like to do – and as, in the USA, they can now continue to do) was a breach of Article 8 of the Charter or respect for private life. I quote (para 119, to save you searching):

‘In this respect, the Court is struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power of retention in England and Wales. The material may be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence with which the individual was originally suspected or of the age of the suspected offender; fingerprints and samples may be taken – and retained – from a person of any age, arrested in connection with a recordable offence, which includes minor or non-imprisonable offences.’ Courts at every level in the UK had supported the police’s position, although naturally Stephen Sedley dissented in the Court of Appeal.

You can see why many of Mr Cameron’s friends would like to see us out of the Council of Europe and beyond the reach of this meddling court; but under pressure from the bleeding-heart lib dems, the coalition brought in the ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’ which allows us to keep our DNA to ourselves unless we’re criminals. And have, theoretically, been destroying a lot of cold DNA; although apparently it’s hard to sort out what’s what with a database that big.

Anyway, moving back to the USA, it seems that the gringos by spraying the coca plantations with herbicide have been seriously messing with the DNA of people in Ecuador. ecuador

U.S.-funded aerial spraying of coca plantations in Colombia near the Ecuador border has severely damaged the DNA of local residents, a new study has found.

Blood samples from 24 Ecuadorians living within three kilometres of the northern border had 600 to 800 percent more damage to their chromosomes than people living 80 km away, found scientists from the Pontificia Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador (see report). Relations between the U.S. and Ecuador have been a bit strained lately, so protests from that quarter may not carry much weight. But if the government has damaged your DNA by helicopter spraying, how can it use said DNA to identify you as someone on the database of bad people? Another puzzle.

From Hebron: an appeal signed by David Grossman, Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua obviously isn’t the work of crazy jihadist extremists; so I pass it on:

Nothing compares to witnessing, firsthand, the enormity of the injustice that is being done to poor farming families who are not endangering a soul and demand so little. I very much hope that, on the fifteenth of July, the court will decide to let them stay where they are, will relocate the firing zone and will make sure that they are able to live a human life, which every single person deserves. This Biblical setting and this Biblical way of life bring to mind two famous stories of injustice: the vineyard of Navot the Yizre’eli, and the poor man’s lamb. It sounds very similar, that the state is not letting them hold on even to that vineyard, to that poor man’s lamb.

Writer Sayed Kashua in front of a school in Khirbet Jenbah. Photo by Guy Butavia

In mid-July 2013, Israel’s High Court of Justice will discuss a petition filed by hundreds of residents from the area of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills against the plan to expel them from their homes, following the designation of the area as a firing zone. The writers who visited the site today are part of a group of 24 Israeli writers who signed an appeal written by David Grossman, calling for the expulsion to be cancelled.

The signatories are: David Grossman, Salman Masalha, Amos Oz, Haviva Pedaya, A.B. Yehoshua, Ronit Matalon, Natan Zach, Salman Masalha, Meir Shalev, Yehushua Sobol, Eyal Megged, Etgar Keret, Zeruya Shalev, Agi Mishol, Nir Baram, Sami Michael, Dorit Rabinyan, Shimon Adaf, Alon Hilu, Alona Kimhi, Sayed Kashua, Yehoshua Knaz, Assaf Gavron.

The full text of the appeal:

Help Save The Palestinian Villages in the South Hebron Hills

For the past twenty years Israel has been actively expelling and displacing the inhabitants of the South Hebron Hills villages. These villagers have always practiced a unique lifestyle: most of them are cave dwellers and find their livelihood in sheep- and goat herding and small crop farming.

Over these years they have suffered unceasing harassment by the Israeli army and settlers. Their dwellings are repeatedly demolished, water cisterns ruined and sealed, and their crops destroyed.

1,000 people, adults and children – in eight villages of an area that in the 1980s was declared ‘army firing zone no. 918’ – are now threatened with immediate expulsion from their hamlets. They live in constant fear, helplessly facing a ruthless power that does everything to displace them from the home they have inhabited for centuries.

Now their plight is up for a last review by Israel’s High Court of Justice.

We call out to those who are still able to listen:

We cannot bring peace today. But the least we can do is to expose and condemn “small” local outrages. In a reality of ongoing occupation, of solid cynicism and meanness, each and every one of us bears the moral obligation to try and relieve the suffering, do something to bend back the occupation’s giant, cruel hand. In a place where there are no worthy people, strive to be a worthy person (Pirkei Avot -Ethics of the fathers). Should we not do even this very little?

 (From B’tselem, 25th June)
Family poetry cont.
I never published Sam’s original poem, in the well-known mukhammas form, which led to my subsequent exchange about Lou Reed. So here it is, still topical, with his comments:
Here’s my contribution on the unfolding NSA Prism revelations, via Keats and Pink Floyd.  In formal terms, it’s a mukhammas (translatable as “fivification”), which means that I took a series of couplets from Keats’ “Lamia” as a skeleton (normally you’d use a ghazal) and just added three lines before each couplet, to make stanzas of five.  I’ve been free with meter and with Keats’ punctuation, and the last line of the poem is a breach of the rules, such as I’ve adapted them.  And of course, it’s useless as agitation.
On a Prism (Mukhammas on Keats’ “Lamia”)
Oh well.  Experts will soothe our fear and rage,
And ruin’s plants grow like bacteriophage
On living cells. We all will disengage

Into forgetfulness.  And for the sage,
Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage

Cerebral whisper-war, weeds sprouting high,
And ruin him too!  Liberal Mole, goodbye:
You leak unheeded.  State, rest easy.  Why
War on his temples? Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
The law’s dead, long live Order.  All forgiven,
We’ll lose the doubt with which our lives we’d leaven.
As God’s concession in a world flood-riven,
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven.
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
No trial now.  Flung at our wall, she clings
And colors us in ranks.  Every brick sings
Ranked songs, and crumbles.  Thoughts become clippings
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
So we must march on foot.  Come, let’s entwine
Our prismed lights again, turn them to shine
Back at the Eyes, lest their blind, dumb design
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air and gnomed mine,
And spook and sap and drone and drone and drone.

Well, this post has been a bit serious; so rather than return to the Second Viennese School for our musical interlude, here, seasonally, is the ‘Chicken Song‘.

Where am I?

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