The travails of Greenpeace continue to entertain.
If ever John Vidal tires of being the Guardian‘s Environment editor, he will be well placed to audition for the role of David Brent. How about this for an attempt to see the silver lining behind a very dark cloud: “Greenpeace’s £3m gamble could yet reap dividends in the fight against climate change”. What? How? Oh yes, of course:
If it only costs £3m for Greenpeace to prove to the world that speculation on risky markets to raise money is madness, then it may be money well spent.
Meanwhile, and though I often mock the Guardian I must concede that it has diligently reported all this, it has also emerged that in an effort to prove to the world that the question “What kind of compromises do you make in your efforts to try to make the world a better place?” can be a bit of a toughie for a sought-after young Third Sector exec with a work-life balance to maintain, Greenpeace’s International Programme Director has over the last couple of years been flying from home to work several times a month.
Often, when walking near Old Kent Road close to my home in Southwark, I have seen this peculiar sight.
Yes, it appears to be a tank. London is London though. Our glorious city contains a lot of weird shit. Is it a war memorial? I doubt it. Is it a decoration in a public park? Again, I doubt it. The land is overgrown and is fenced off, although the fence has long ceased to be effective. Is it an art project? Possibly. Certainly the paint and graffiti on the tank changes from time to time, but as to whether this is planned or simply something done by the nearby and bored, once again who knows? As to what type of tank it is, my knowledge of military hardware is sadly lacking.
Half the Samizdata commentariat (and certainly this blog’s glorious leader) is no doubt jumping up and down and saying “It’s a T-34, you idiot”. As it happens, I discovered this when looking at Google Maps yesterday. The tank is in fact shown on the map, at the intersection of Mandela Way and Page’s Walk in London SE1. (Places in the UK that were ruled by Labour local governments in the 1980s are full of streets, council buildings, and lord knows what else named after Nelson Mandela, as this was considered a good way to annoy Margaret Thatcher).
Curiouser and curiouser. A T-34 is a Soviet tank. What the hell is it doing on an overgrown piece of land in Southwark? Thankfully we have the internet, which tells us one of those stories that is probably not entirely true but should be. Reputedly a man named Russell Gray, the owner of the now overgrown block of land, wanted to build a house on it. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. Although the block is fairly small and a peculiar shape, it is certainly big enough for a small house. As the location is no more than a 15 minute commute to the financial jobs in the City of London, any house there would be of considerable value. However, when Mr Gray applied to Southwark Council for planning permission, it was denied. In frustration he submitted another planning application requesting permission to put a tank on the site. This was granted. He then obtained a surplus Soviet T-34 and this has been on the site ever since. Apparently the turret was originally pointed in the precise direction of of Southwark Council’s offices and the tank was given the nickname “Stompie” after an ANC activist murdered by thugs loyal to Winnie Mandela after they suspected him of being an informer to the apartheid South African government in 1988.
Where does one obtain a surplus Soviet T-34, exactly? It was imported from Czechoslovakia as a prop in the 1995 film of Shakespeare’s Richard III, starring Ian McKellan and a large ensemble of Britain’s other finest actors. Prior to that it may or may not have been used by the Soviets in putting down the Prague Spring in 1968. In any event, Mr Gray was able to buy it cheaply after the film-makers had finished with it.
Er, come again? Didn’t Richard III die in 1485 before spending the next five hundred years beneath a car-park in Leicester? Were there a lot of T-34s involved in the Wars of the Roses?
Ah, this version was set in a fictionalised 1930s England. Soviet tanks that did not go into production until the 1940s were apparently a better fit in that world.
As I said, London contains some weird shit. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Greenpeace loses £3m in currency speculation
I liked the first comment, from a merry soul called ‘casaleiro':
“Shoulda put the money in armaments and petroleum.”
A story in The Telegraph has brought to mind the following quotation, which seems doubly apt:
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
– Karl Marx, writing in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon”
I thought this bijoux little commentette of mine to my post demanding reparations be paid to women, a reply to an irritating factual objection from running dog of the neoliberal neopatriarchy Tim Worstall, was rather good in the insane troll logic line:
“As it happens the majority of wealth is held by women (longer life spans and inheritance etc to blame for that), so, on average women are richer than men.”
You just don’t understand.
Clearly it is a benefit to receive money (such as reparations) without having to work for it.
Therefore possession of whatever quality makes one eligible for reparations is a form of unearned privilege.
Relative group poverty is by definition the result of past injustice, and makes your group eligible for reparations.
Therefore you males, by your relative poverty, are the possessors of unearned privilege.
Therefore it is only justice that you privileged ones make reparations to those like me who are underprivileged.
(Standing orders and direct debits payable to the Natalie Solent Justice for Womyn Settlement Account.)
However Beatrix Campbell has me beat:
Crime is only “free trade” by another means, and since it involves force, it is not free.
In London today, the BBC has revealed a remarkable revelation:
Windows work in both directions! Not only can a person in a hotel room see out of a window, it is possible for people to also see in from the outside!
Truly we live in an age of marvels! Ah that such a cognitive breakthrough could have happened here, it make me proud to be English! Article like this are why I often send the BBC twice the licence fee they actually demand from me (under threat of jail if I do not pay up) because how can anyone doubt they provide such inestimable value. No, seriously, for the life of me, I cannot estimate how much value they provide. I truly cannot.
There is a very funny article by Reason, titled The stupidest pseudo-story of the week, about a Daily Mail article about halal food. Reason likens the hysteria to criticising kosher food with a headline:
RABBIS ARE PUTTING SOME WEIRD JEW-SPELL ON YOUR MEALS!
I LOL’ed. But then again, it is often said I am famously easy to amuse
State planning makes things worse? Is this the Guardian I am reading? That bastion of people who worship state action? I can only assume the Rapture is at hand!
Well, no, not really.
And black people, as always, are left to clean up the shit that drops from the imperial anus of white corporate America into the ghettoized toilets of terror
– Nyle Fort
oh… hang on… what year is it now?
Over on Climate Depot, they have a wonderful run down on how the climate’s doomsday clock keeps getting reset.
But of course THIS TIME ITS FOR REAL.
Sadly this 2007 prediction has proved to be a few years out, because whilst the hysteria is indeed visibly on the wane, a great many people do not seem to have got the memo telling them it has been noticed that their Emperor has no clothes.
Whaddya think? Are either of these two articles from the Guardian Comment Network (i.e. lefty blogs to which the Guardian gives a larger audience) for real, or are they magnificent satire?
From SE Smith, a writer who “lives and works in northern California, covering social justice issues”: ‘The people are so beautiful!’ That’s enough of the colonial tourism
While you’re drooling over Indian women in saris at the produce market, are you paying attention to the women organising against mining companies and western intrusions in India? Are you paying attention to the women opposing tourism and fighting objectifying activities in their communities?
From Tom Whyman, a well-named PhD Philosophy student: Beware of cupcake fascism
…this has an effect on our culture that we can understand as being a sort of gentrification. The cupcake has always itself been a gentrifying force: after all, the “pop-up cupcake shop” is the paradigmatic pop-up shop. But what all these things do is assert the infantilised values of an increasingly infantilised middle-class world on general society. This is how the passive-aggressive violence of the infantilised twee fascist manifests itself: moving across the world with a cupcake as a cowcatcher, shunting out everything that does not correspond to the values manifested within it; a much more effective way of sweeping up the sort of (poor, working-class, black) forces that informed the 2011 London riots than any broom.
…Mark Goddard of Newton Abbot in Devon is not a man afraid to take his medical destiny into his own
Man builds home-made guillotine and chops off hand after doctors refuse to amputate
Mark Goddard has been in constant pain since he was involved in a motorbike crash 16 years ago.
But after an unsuccessful two-year campaign to have his nerve shattered hand surgically removed, he decided to do it himself.
He rigged up a home-made guillotine using an axe with a weight strapped to it, to ensure it would have enough power to amputate his hand.
The first blow sliced though the bone but didn’t sever all the tendons, leaving his hand hanging off a bloodied stump.
He then used a surgeon’s scalpel to cut through the remaining tissues before dropping the remains into a bin, which he later filled with charcoal and set alight – in order to prevent his hand being re-attached.
That was the Express. The Mirror adds some more details:
Dad refused NHS operation builds GUILLOTINE to amputate his own hand – but it still hurts
Mark spent two weeks designing the guillotine and ensured his wife and son were out before he severed his hand.
He tied two tourniquets above his forearm to reduce blood flow and had a first aid kit nearby.
Mark wants a device called a spinal stimulator implanted into his back to ease the nerve pain.
He said he was “reasonably hopeful” his wish would be granted after receiving a more sympathetic hearing from doctors and psychiatrists in the wake of his dramatic protest two weeks ago.
A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: “Police received a call from the ambulance service to say a man had cut his hand off.
“We were concerned he might have a knife and be a risk to himself or others.
“Units attended and upon arrival a 44-year-old man had indeed cut his hand off. He was otherwise rational.
While it is not the place of the police to criticise the behaviour of citizens who have remained within the law, it would be a harsh judge who held it against the police spokesman quoted that the placement of his penultimate word did imbue his observations with a slightly ironical tone.
I totally support Mr Goddard’s right to do as he pleases with his own body, sympathise with the suffering that led him to take such a desperate measure, applaud the practical and rational way he went about it, and very much hope that the NHS will be persuaded to take his pain seriously in future, but I am not sure I would recommend his method. Hands up who thinks it was a good idea? (Er, not you, Mark.)