2 November 1998
We are currently redesigning The Other News From England. It will be somewhat sparse for some time yet, but as we now have the software to change printed text into typed text without typing it all in, the intenetion is to begin to publish some older stuff that was written as far back as 1990 (! pre-internet, almost) to give it more varied interest.
However, there are lots of articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below) and new articles attached hereto.
Index of earlier issues.
The Summer was a great diversion for everybody, but we hope these articles will continue soon.
GreenNet tell me that W. H. Smith and John Menzies (the two big British magazine distributors) are not stocking or distributing the magazine The Ecologist "because it contains articles about the controversial biotechnology company Monsanto".
This may be slightly misleading, in that the two firms have stated that they don`t carry it any more because it was something their customers would not want to read. They have nevertheless also said "it is very unusual for us to act as censors".
Freedom of the press is something held quite dear in Britain, even though it sometimes doesn`t succeed, and despite the almost boundless capacity for people to lie. Nevertheless, this type of censorship is just as bad as any other.
If you want to read what The Ecologist has to say, they are at www.gn.apc.org/ecologist, and you can click here to see:
Hope this gets you there - www.gn.apc.org/ecologist
There is a single cartoon on the site. The intention is that you will be able to download it, but I am still not quite sure how this is done. Presumably you just select `view source` and copy it. It is GIF file.
If this can be made to work, I will then know how to make the sheet music accessible (some people have complained!), and if I get one email saying it has worked I`ll put some more there.
The problem is largely to do with file types. I have hundreds - maybe thousands - of cartoons, but the only program I have that will make them into a suitable file type keeps crashing.
I was at the industrial tribunal recently, and heard the vice principal (the one who had said she couldn`t do anything about a burst waterpipe `because she was an academic`) trying to tell the tribunal that a person`s contract that they turned down was not the same as the contract they would actually get - when the evidence the college had submitted showed exactly what the contract in question was.
The anomaly was pointed out, and her response was to say the same thing again, as though there is no point in writing a contract. This was then quereied again, and her resoponse was yet the same again: although the college were only offering X on paper they would in fact be offering Y if the person signed.
It became very tedious going over the same ground and coming upon this same blind spot, and it occurred to me that this is a strategy adopted by college managements everywhere. Whether it is true or not, if you keep on saying it is so for long enough people are stupid enough to begin to believe that it is.
The college prevailed in this hearing. The panel were so bamboozled as to pass the matter entirely without comment.
I can only suppose that the panels of industrial tribunals are another great achievement of a similar type as the management of education.
Getting back to the office supplies trade.
First, the printer that Daisy bought because they reduced it from #130 to #100 - and then after the delivery billed her for #130.
I saw the same printer in a chain store on Saturday priced at #69.
She bought it from Viking Office Equipment, a mail order outfit.
Now for something a little more subtle: the multifunction machine I bought from Office World. It claimed to have been reduced from a far higher price to the #300 or so I paid for it (the implication of this, of course, appears to be that they could have sold it for less in the first place, but that may be making things too simple).
This Xerox multicunction machine ran out of black ink after no more than 150 copies. On equiring at the local office equipment store about replacement cartridges, I remarked that it didn`t appear to be a very economical machine, given that a replacement cartridge will be #12.
"Was it a new machine?@ said the man.
"That`s it then. They never put a full cartridge in new machines. Their profit lies in selling replacement cartridges, not machines. You`re lucky if you got 150 copies. Most wouldn`t do that much."
British scientists, by measuring the annual rings in trees, concluded that this year has had the highest temperatures in the last thousand years, and that the last few years have been gradually leading up to this one, which then leads to the conclusion that things might go on getting hotter yet.
This in it`s turn leads to the interesting matter of Harlech castle, whose landing stage is 21 feet above the ground.
The castle was allegedly completed in the 1280`s (less than a thousand years ago), and local historians believe that ships used to come near and then discharge onto the flat gound, and a flight of stairs were used to get everyone and everything up to the castle itself.
It doesn`t seem a very likely story to me.I have looked at the rock face by the landing stage, and notice that it is smooth, just as though beaten by the sea for millions of years before the castle was built. I have also seen a `landing stage` built quite a long way inland, and by a bit of rough surveying come to the conclusion that the landing stage is at the same level as the landing stage at the castle, leading me to believe that the house next to it (of unknown age, but very old) was once a shoreside cottage.
Two explanations are immediately possible.
One is that the land has tilted, putting Dunwich and places (East Coast England) in the sea, and lifting Harlech up. This is possible, but no surveying tricks I know showed any tilt on the castle. Of course, as the tilt would be very slight, it might not be enough to show anyway. (They couldn`t half build accurately in those days!).
The other possibility is that the sea was once twenty one feet deeper, leading one to question why it isn`t that deep now, and also leading to the conclusion that (a) it takes time for the level to come up/go down and that therefore the level could be quite high despite low temperature in 1280, and that it has gone down gradually over the past thousand years, and today`s warming up may only stabilise it or may cause it to rise. If, as I believe, the sea was twenty one feet higher in 1280, then a lot of today`s London would have been under water at that time - but London was only a piddling little place then anyway.
Now, for those who haven`t seen the connection (I hope there aren`t too many of you), if the temperature of the world rises much, there is already evidence to suggest that the sea level has been much higher at one time in the past, and the present state of affairs suggests that it could come up at least that much again (owing to melting icebergs). But there is still the question of how fast this might happen.
I live on a hill, which might one day be an island, and might have to go to see my friends in a boat instead of on the railway - most of which will be submerged in my district.
Now the hoohah has died down and freemasons aren`t much in the public eye, they are once again trying to persuade the government that it is not a good idea to require all judges to declare whether they are freemasons or not. They talk about privacy, and freedom of the individual.
But of course a judge is no more a private person than I am when he is at work (I work as a lecturer sometimes, and a musician others), and it is in the area of his work that we are interested. If he chooses to roll up one trouser leg and walk about with an apron on in private, that most certainly is his own business. It is at work, when the apron comes off, the trousers are normalised, but the secret stuff remains in place that we should be ready to complain. And because it is a secret we do not yet know which judges we can/can`t trust - aside from incompetence, which can easily come into the matter.
One difficulty is that it is fairly well known that freemasons spend some of their time `studying politics`, that they go in for trying to manipulate things (they are, as it were, control freaks) and that they have a series of secret signs that can be used to gain favour if you are a freemason and find yourself in need of help. In the area of law this is a highly critical consideration. Most people who are reasonably aware realise that our law and our lawyers are highly unreliable anyway. Adding a secret code for certain lawyers to the recipe makes it that bit worse than it already is - particularly if the judge knows the code too. Not a few wrongly convicted prisoners must be wondering to what extent freemasonry came into the matter, for instance.
But another thought that has been bothering me for some time has been the thought that it is possible that you cannot become a judge without first being a freemason, and that at present they are stalling over this matter whilst they get time to engage a token judge or two who is not a freemason
For the sake of their own already badly worn credibility (both freemasons and judges), judges need to declare their interests - just like anybody else in public life.
A bit of excitement about the proposed new voting system. The tories say they will oppose it the death, whilst vearious pompous old fools say it would be too complicated for `ordinary people`.
Of course the Tories would oppose it. It might enable the nation to be rid of them forever. I think if I was a true tory I`d oppose it too. As it is, I only seem to be one.
The pompous old fools don`t really need enlarging on, except to point out that just because a person is neither freemason nor ambitious does not mean to say that they don`t know anything.
In fact, it might by quite the opposite. They may be the only people with any real sense.
DUNN AND BRADSTREET TELEPHONED to gain details of my financial situation, and I told them I did not want to be on their database.
"OK. Declined," said the girl, obviously trying to twist my arm a little.
I didn`t bother to pick up on this, except to ask her what she said.
"OK, declined, I said. That means you declined to give any information."
Again, not feeling like getting involved in irrelevancies I didn`t take the matter up.
Dunn and Bradstreet will no doubt be keeping the record that says `declined`. This record will lead many people who wish to check my credit-rating with the impression that I am not a good bet.
However, as it is illegal to keep anything on a databse about me without my permission, their statement that I declined is in breach, and I might sue them one day just for the fun of it. I wonder how much I could get out of such a case?