3 May 1999.
Index of earlier issues.
ASIDE FROM the usual warring, raping and pillaging that has been in the papers recently, there have been a couple of equally mad and violent items of another type.
In the USA two unfortunate young men went on the rampage in their school, shooting other pupils and then shooting themselves.
In Britain, three nailbombs have exploded in crowded places.
The papers have reacted by telling us of 'hate campaigns' and have used other similar terms that suggest they (the papers as well as the culprits) might be a little lacking in insight. I would not claim to know what the cause of this bizarre behaviour might be, but it is not very difficult to imagine that the problems may lie with the society that has produced the people who did these things, and that hate does not come into it - but fear probably does. A society that values money above people, certificates above knowledge, that expresses little or no tolerance of anything the slightest bit unusual, and does not want anybody to be an individual unless as an individual they happen to behave in a way that suits the needs of the government of the day or their eccentricity is marketable, is going to have a few problems.
There is something about control freaks that winds up those around them in a very short time, and it appears to me that most if not all politicians must be control freaks to be desperate enough about being elected to take the trouble. We have in our society a person who may well be a control freak of a subtly different type - our nail-bomber. We do not yet know who our nail bomber is, but it is not difficult to see the connection between fear and violence - or fear and 'hate'. If you are frightened enough, being violent reduces the fear, being in control reduces the fear, and resistance is a threat and so it must be overcome. If you are frightened enough, the most powerful thing you can do in our society is to kill someone, and our bomber has now done that. The difficulty is that being sought by the police will increase the level of fear - so we might expect some more of the same thing.
However, there is also another emotion that can get in there: nostalgia. Nostalgia is that which says 'wasn`t it great in the good old days when we used to go about bombing people'. Once you`ve done a bit of bombing, it may well be quite difficult to find anything else that will give as much adrenalin, so being so frightened that you are unable to imagine what it must be like to be one of the victims (that is, being a psychopath), you plant another bomb.
As to the two boys, it may well be that they decided they had noticed what a mess the world is and decided they would relieve as many of their friends as possible of the problems of having to continue living. Mad? Yes, possibly. I wouldn`t want my life cut short because a friend of mine decided it wasn`t good enough for me. Unfortunately, if my friend were a control freak this would make no difference, and it is not difficult for anyone to be frightened enough to become one.
I HAVE AT LAST REALISED WHAT THESE ARE ABOUT! They are a means of censorship. The editor of the Other News From England can receive emails from these free services, but cannot reply because the return emails disappear on the way. If this goes on, the big operators will be able to filter out anything that is bad for them, or whatever government they support, and all the remaining traces of democracy will be lost.
It would be so easily done. You just programme the server to delete any mails coming from certain sources, and there you have it. You don`t even need a virus. No more bolshy lists, Other News, critics of government, calls for labour unrest, exposure of slavery, child labour, genetic pollution......
What are we going to do about it?
I would suggest it might be worth keeping on subscribing to Greennet and the like (APC members) and others that rely on your money to keep them going, and doing your best to boycott all free services, both by not receiving their mail and by not using them. The chargeable ones hoppefully cannot afford to censor - although the commercial ones are always in danger of being taken over.
But then again: quite a few of the chargeable ones are just 'subbies' of bigger companies, who can still censor the mail going through their servers.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE IN THIS world whose job is to collect their paycheque.
From time to time, in a wild fit of inspiration, I endeavour to 'get something going' in our locality. I try to negotiate for the use of an empty and derelict council-owned building, or find premises for the loss-making music school, or start a team to go round fixing houses for LETS currencies.
Usually I give up before there is any real danger of the thing happening, because I have discovered not only that nobody who has control of the necessary premises has any power to do anything, but also that they wouldn`t anyway because it is too much like work. They invite you to write in to them and then.......well, I don`t know what happens next because so far nothing has ever happened. Why don`t you contact @@@###&&&? they say, as though it might do something. This person at most will record that you made an enquiry - but they are not paid to think or create.
And so the whole district falls into further decay, until someone comes up with a scheme that will make some money for a few local worthies, at which point these same people briefly appear - for long enough to collect any freebies that are going - and then go back to collecting their paycheques. Private enterprise gets o with chucking people out of their homes and building whatever 'award-winning architecture' and 'initiative' they wanted to do.
The plan itself usually makes money for some person who would not dream of living in the district, often does nothing for those who do live in the district, and finally becomes another dead end. These sort of schemes are usually 'developments', and amount to one way or another by which a multinational can sap the finances and energy of the area, and might last twenty years if you are lucky, and then disappear.
A GREAT MANY PEOPLE seem to think Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Clinton and Blair are idiots. The former two because of the way they destroyed their respective countries` internal economies and services, and the latter for allowing this result to continue after they got into office.
Other people think this may not be the case, and they are not after all idiots at all, but people who know exactly what they are doing and think it a good idea. Interestingly, as they are from the two main allegedly opposing political sides there is no longer any particular need for them to protect votes by behaving in the way they have. So it might be worth a look at what they are doing and why.
These people whom we have elected by a semi-democratic method to be our servants must amongst other things keep an eye on the economy. They want to make it easy for business (having run a business once, I can understand why this should be), and, although it may not suit you if you are an ordinary working person, they feel the need to keep wages down - not just to keep profits up, but also as a counterforce to the natural pressure for wages to go up that comes from employees. To do this, there needs to exist a situation where if an employee does not want to receive a wage that is too small to live on they can leave and be replaced by someone who will accept such a wage. There is next to no chance of doing that if there is full employment, because if you ask someone to take too little they`ll just move on to the next opportunity.
But just to make sure this principle is applied to it`s most effect, those wonderful people who run multinationals (and even some quite small firms) go to other countries where they do the populace the great favour of paying them about 10 pence an hour to give up supporting themsleves off the land and instead to work in the factory. This, of course, helps to keep wages down at home, and conveneiently gets round various awkward regulations about health and safety at work, dangerous chemicals, pollution, equality of opportunities, and other inconvenient peripherals.
There are certain snags about this scheme. The most obvious is that if you get things made - however cheap - you need a market for them, and if half the population is unemployed they might not buy your goods. Similarly, in the country where they make your goods they won`t be able to afford them. Of course, to the business person it doesn`t really matter what happens in the country of manufacture - they are so poor they couldn`t afford to buy anything anyway - and will shortly be poorer - or maybe even dead.
What matters is the country of sale. Here, the social security system must be sufficiently good to allow the populace to purchase your goods even if they are unemployed. They must be paid for being out of work and thereby keeping the wages down, but they must not be paid enough to make it a worthwhile career to be unemployed, or some people would deliberately choose it, thereby ruining profits for shareholders and directors.
The question is this: if you had a choice between being a shareholder and not working, and being an employee and not shareholding, which would you do? I know my choice, but it would never be easy to make.
From an email that came in this week:
~~~~~~~~~~~ appendix ~~~~~~~~
Majestic Failures in Community Regeneration - Case Studies
~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ +~ + ~ + ~ + ~ +~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + CASE STUDY 1 (of 8) - circa Mar'96
~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ +~ + ~ + ~ + ~ +~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + We come back from the national LETSLink UK conference inspired by the idea of some community organisations in the Bristol Area: they set up a mini-industrial estate centered on recycling: collecting, sorting, selling and using recycled materials as raw materials.
We have been wanting to do this for years, we have the perfect site, and the perfect combination of community groups for this in Southwark: the Chair of an allotments association tells us that they have for years wanted to see some land opposite their allotments in One Tree Hill used by the community: owned by the council, they've already witnessed the bulldozing of victorian greenhouses there, but a large area of land + storage buildings still exist. The allotments association wants some of the land for a fruit-tree nursery, which would use the composting from our 'recycling community industrial estate' , the buildings are perfect for workshops and storage space, the area is well-placed for a recycling project, a cafe' / shop that would sell the artisan & artists products (made from recycled materials) and such a venue would be the perfect for encouraging more visitors to the neighbouring park/cemetery. A green funerals business which recycles wood & cardboard would be ideally placed in such a venue, and many of the artists that Camberwell college of arts produces would be happy for 1 - 3 yrs of cheap/rent-free space to produce recycled art on this site and establish their businesses. The site is large enough for selling/giving away things like wood, doors, windows, sinks and baths salvaged from building sites for the DIY market - good american examples for this type of eco-business exist.
We know the thing would work, we have plenty of people interested. All we need is the council to help with the land - and possibly to develop the project (the bristol example got European start-up funding). We think we're very lucky because we've just had an LA21 officer appointed. We put the proposal to him and ask for his help and advice.
The LA21 officer stalls us for months saying that he's finding out about the land - problems as they may be wanting to sell for housing.
It later turns out that he's been in talks with the Tree Officers for London and six months later proposed a 3-borough large-scale green-waste recycling facility, as a council-run initiative, no consultation about this idea with locals, certainly no plan to have us in the picuture either. This still hasn't happened, three years on the land is still unused, and a lot of very excited people's enthusiasm and faith in LA21 got thoroughly squashed.
Cycnicism and apathy claim another few terminal casualties as a few community leaders never return to the Environment Forum, or speak to the LA21 officer again. Others get less enthusiastic and the weathered cynics have a field day telling the younger & new-comers 'I told you so'.
early Othernews - 1992, 93, 94.
There were a few essays that went out with the early Other News as a freestanding item. You can read these by clicking below.
The Soup Designer`s Handbook.
London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.
(Friday Woodworkers are suffering a temporary break due to some of the episodes not having been fully edited at the time of writing. It may take some timne to fix this problem.
(These articles were written in 1988, and were my first attempt at writing. Some people when shown these fell about laughing, some smiled faintly - and some yawned. I thought I was going to write a technical book, but it soon became apparent that I was much more interested in the people than the technology - and that is the main reason there are no drawings - although it might be rather good to do a couple of caricatures sometime.)
Index of Friday Woodorker articles (and a means of access).
We are still redesigning The Other News From England. Noticed the change so far?
There is at least one new article this week, and articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below).
Index of earlier issues.
A READER COMPLAINED that it was not possible to go back more than 6 articles in Gabriele`s area. Regrettably this is because there is no index, and I have not the time to organise one yet. However, for those determined enough to find the early ones, they should be accessible by going to an early Other News and clicking through from it. This will not be fast, but I think will do the job. They started about November 1997 I think.
(I wish someone would make a contribution before I am forced to put in some of my own stuff here).
So new, in fact, that there is nothing there. I want to open a section of this site to be used as a kind of green reference. Ordinary folks usually know what to do in order to be green, but there are times when (a) they don`t know the technology, or (b)they are short of ideas, or (c) they would like to see what some other people think.
So the purpose of this area will be for people to describe to others how they made their own electricity, or saved a great deal of domestic water being wasted, or captured the methane gas from their cesspit, designed their solar bicycle with regenerative braking and portable overnight windcharger, caused plants to grow in a desert, made a solar water pump, etc.
A site for forward-looking people, in fact.
It may be very difficult to edit, but I would like a few articles and tips that are concise, easily understood and ecologically useful. These will be left on the site, and gradually as the number of articles builds up hopefully somebody will construct an index. I won`t volunteer myself, as I have yet to make a subject index for the whole Other News site.
One week carried an article that might be of interest to anybody thinking of taking out an Abbey National mortgage - or those who already have one.
Interestingly, one of the London papers described them as being "among the greediest".
There will soon be a new twist to this story, but I am not sure what it will be until it happens. They are trying to make it as difficult as possible instead of as easy as possible to resolve the present dispute.
(see last week but one).
This Lexmark business gets worse. I refilled the black cartridge with an ordinary cartridge refilling outfit and it won`t print despite telling me that the cartridge is full and that it is printing.
In an earlier issue I told you about my feelings regarding Tempo retailers and the Lexmark 3200 printer I bought from them. I have now found out another thing about it.
The Lexmark 3200 printer I got from Tempo must surely be the most uneconomical printer I could possibly have bought. The black cartridge only does about 250 pages of ordinary type - for £28! That makes each sheet cost 11.2 pence plus the cost of the paper and probably another 11.2 pence more if any colour is used! - ABOUT 22.4 PENCE A SHEET! Nearly a pound for every four sheets!
I wouldn`t recommend you to buy it - but also look at my earlier article for an idea of Tempo`s service.
These people keep springing up and then disappearing again. They have used a selection of names, but the people always seem to be the same. They are a disco without smoke, alcohol or drugs, and serve refreshments (probably very healthy, macrobiotic, veggy, etc) and dance to a wide range of types of music - including "classical", I am told. Sometimes they go to the Bonnington Cafe afterwards. Also, they occasionally turn up at a LETSSwing gig as a dancing group, and make the dancing a great deal more fun.
Saturdays 7-10pm , 6 March, 3 April, 8th May, at The Contact Centre, 60 Hambolt Rd., London SW4. (10 mins from Clapham Common tube stn. or buses 137, 35, 37. For info ring Kathy Hughes 0181 671 7300. They would like more participants.
A person to help make up a subject index for the growing numbers of articles on The Other News From England. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
8- or more-track tape recorder. email email@example.com
Also want good working VW or Volvo 7 series 2.4litre turbodiesel engine. This is the type that goes in an LT van or a Volvo 740TD. email firstname.lastname@example.org
£2,000,000 at 0% interest would quite good too, although I would probably waste quite a lot of it employing musicians to do the great work.
All material on this site is copyright. Contact me if you want to use it. I am quite flexible. email@example.com
Educational non-profit use is free - but ask for permission and print an acknowledgement. If you can`t think what to print, put:
From The Other News From England. http://www.othernews.co.uk