28 December 1998
Episode 4 this week - and it begins to become apparent that I`m more interested in the people than in their woodwork.
(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.
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.
New drawing this week - `The Jury`, done to order for a law lecture in 1987. This was one of my first efforts in this field.
I am working to make the sheet music accessible (some people have complained!) next.
The problem has been largely to do with file types.
(These articles held from last week owning to that tedious season Xmas stopping me doing anything - but there are new ones below.)
Junk mail has been a problem for a long time now - not just because it is a nuisance that we could all do without, but also because it is ecologically very unsound and economically unnecessary. It is thoroughly wasteful of resources.
Laws have been developed in England that allow the recipients of junk mail to waste a lot of time, paper and expense telling various agencies that they do not wish to receive it, but new ones keep cropping up, and now the large monopolies (they call them utilities to hide the fact that they are monopolies) have taken to sending junk mail along with their quarterly accounts, which is totally unacceptable, and is probably done in an attempt to get round the legal requirements.
As far as I know, it is illegal for anybody to keep any details of you on a computer if you do not wish them to do so. This would seem to be the solution, but I rather think they would retaliate by telling you that they could not supply you with electricity (or whatever) if you so requested. Thus, they keep on junk mailing you when others might show a little restraint. But they`re still a nuisance.
Bearing this all in mind, when British Telecom sent me the quarterly bill with some junk mail inserted telling me how much more I could save (what a lot of old bollocks - I was spending all the time, and anyway they must have been overcharging before if they are able to be cheaper now) I sent it back to them in an envelope with no stamp, asking them not to send me any junk mail. If they persist and send more, I will send them a bundle of other paper junk, with a note in the middle asking them to stop sending me junk mail - and if this doesn`t work I will send them a parcel with no stamp.
The purpose of this to show that we consumers can fight back if we feel like it, and could be a great inconvenience to them. We could also send ecological statements along with our message, although it is unlikely a BT executive would be able to understand what they were about - what`s ecology? What they can understand, however, is the effect on their profits if the whole nation started doing this, and that is about as far as they are likely to bother to think. They have to sort out the contents, make a note on their computer to send no junk mail, and pay postage due, which is a lot more than standard post. The post bills alone could run to some pounds per response.
Well, this used to be called killing two birds with one stone, but as most of us are a little more civilised now I won`t call it that. I might just call it ecologically sensible.
What I would like to see is everybody who cares about (a) their own sanity, and (b) environmental issues, doing this - hopefully starting with you, because I have already started doing it some weeks ago for the junk mail that comes with bills, and some years ago for other junk mail - the only difference being that I go in with the big package straight away with the stuff that doesn`t come with a bill.
I can tell you it is most effective.
In this `season of goodwill` it might be a good idea to show a little goodwill towards other species.
I know - you were thinking I was referring to turkeys and the like. But I wasn`t, even though they deserve more than a word said on their behalf. I was actually thinking of trees, which are far more important to us than we seem to realise - the proof of this being that we are quite happy to cut them when they are 6 feet high, perform a few commercial ceremonies over them and then chuck them on the tip. I am actually aware that they are usually (though not by any means always) `toppings` taken off commercially grown trees to make the best of the main trunk, but as far as I can see this doesn`t justify the action. The bigger a tree is, the more it cleans the air and the more it attracts moisture, which in the long run allows us to grow more - but better than that, it helps nature to find a chance to grow a few other things.
The Forestry Commission would no doubt tell me that what they are doing is growing things and thereby saving nature the need. However, two million pinetrees is not quite the same as two million species.
I heard a man at the back talking about deserts, which one must assume are an important part of the biodiversity also. True, but an imbalance is dangerous, and there is a very great amount of evidence to show that many deserts are man-made (probably women too, though they might not be so keen to accept their share of responsibility), and even the most sceptical amongst us would be able to see that some American deserts are definitely man-made. These deserts, unless you are of the persuasion that as man is part of nature you must let him go on doing whatever he does until he destroys all in his path (and everywhere else), throw nature`s careful balance built over many millions of years before man came along into hopeless disarray, and threaten not only the whole of life, but by so doing threaten human life.
It may be a peculiarity of human beings that they cannot think of anything as having any importance at all unless they think of it in relationship to themselves (hence the ability of our minister for agriculture to perfectly seriously talk about `beneficial species`), and it is because of this extraordinary arrogance that I am writing this article.
What we probably really need is another species even more clever and even more stupid than us to land on earth and put us all in order.
Have a nice winter holiday/xmas/solstice/break/knees-up.
A young man came by this week who is a freelancer in the music business doing quite well and landing `deals` with major labels.
He is in difficulty at the present, though, because in early January he has to go to law over an impresario (salesman, really) who first of all got him a contract with a large record co (20% commission - not too bad) and then went into partnership with a person from that large record co., managed to get the original contract cancelled and a new contract made between the same young man and his own new partnership.
What`s wrong with that? you might ask.
Well, the impresario claims the new contract was made under the terms of the arrangement he originally had with our young man, and that therefore the young man owes him 20% of the new contract. The young man, on the other hand, claims that once the original record co contract was cancelled there was no further commission to pay because this new contract was made by the new partnership approaching him and asking him to sign - not by the impresario, and certainly not by the impresario soliciting a contract from a third party.
When the matter has been to court I will try to explain what happened, but in the meantime what we have is a good example of why people are so neurotic about crossing all the T`s and dotting all the I`s in their contracts.
But can you think of a clause that would have defended against this particular disagreement?
There is one thing more to say about this: if his material is very saleable then the best thing he can do with this case is to make sure that every newspaper in the world knows all about it - whether he is a winner or a loser.
That kind of publicity is invaluable, as many a composer with great mediocrity but a knack for publicity will tell you.
I talked about my own thoughts on this subject last week, and my thoughts have caused others to express opinions.
One of the most interesting opinions came from one of the many people who think Iraq should be left alone to sort out it`s own problems, and it is a rather numbing thought:
All attention has been concentrated on Iraq, but there are a great many countries in the world. Any one of those countries (including the USA, Britain or any European country) could be secretly building arsenals of biological or chemical weapons, and we have no way of knowing which (if any).
Therefore, with every other country we have to wait and see what they do, and it follows from this viewpoint that everyone should leave Iraq alone - and wait and see.
(No opinion was expressed as to whether we should defend or attack in any way in the event of the worst becoming a reality - perhaps it would already be too late and we should accept our fate philosophically).
But to look at the other side of the coin, we might note that the majority of the United Nations members voted that Iraq should be inspected, held to account etc., and as far as I know engaged the USA with the job of policeman because it has a large military force that, although not trusted by absolutely everyone, is trusted by the majority. They appear to be, in some way, a mercenary force in that their expenses do not appear to be borne by the USA alone but also by other interested countries. They are therefore contracted to do something, and it is very convenient for those countries that are not contracted to do something to criticise the US for doing that which they appear to have been engaged to do. Must they seek permission for every action they take on behalf of these other countries, or only for some actions?
If only some, which? These are, after all, military people doing a military job, and a job that most of us don`t want.
Have you heard the one about...........?