Divergence of Fate – The Brazil Connection

I had forgotten a bit which happened before the last dream.

I am standing in a self-service restaurant around a smörgåsbord talking with a young woman. She asks me if I have been learning Dutch or Afrikaans.

I say, “no, have you noted a Southern lilt to my voice?”

“Yes, at first I thought it was South African now it sounds a bit more Aussie.”

“How do you know?”

“I am a Kiwi.”

I explain to her that I lived as a child in Australia and Zambia, both Southern Hemisphere.

In 1977-78 the war for the founding of Zimbabwe was getting hotter. This had knock on effects like air raids of guerrilla camps, marauding “soldiers” and shortages in the shops in Kabwe, Zambia.

There my father was working on a German built rotary lead kiln to extract lead from the lead rich tailings, waste which was abundant. Later Kabwe was acknowledged as one of the most polluted  places on earth. My mother was getting anxious and my father was looking further afield for jobs. He was offered one in Windhoek, one in South Africa and one in Brazil. As an ex-army officer in REME during the Malayan insurgency he would be required to serve in the military reserves. When I reached 18, I would have to do national service. The first two were vetoed.

Dad was interested in the job, possibly in Santa Amaro City near the Subaé river. I would have gone to international school either in Rio or Brasília. It was by the same German kiln manufacturer. He was keen, my mother less so. If they would have paid him in Deutschmarks and not cruzeiro novo, we probably would have moved there. Instead, we came back to blighty…

A possible fate diverged on a simple decision. My life would have been very different had I gone to international school in Brazil as opposed to a grammar school in North Kent.

I would have been very Southern hemisphere in my adolescence and education….

Country Bumpkins and Streetlights

In general we do not leave the compound during the hours of darkness. This means that we hardly ever get to see street lights nor the lights of other cars on the highways and byways. We certainly don’t see commuters on a bus. When I say hardly ever that approaches never, at most a few times in a year.

This morning the wife had a doctor’s appointment up in the thriving metropolis of Lannion. For perhaps the first time in four years we left the compound under the cover of darkness in the morning to head out on to the trunk road up to Lannion. When we got there, there were streetlights!!

I had to wait in the car while the doctor saw the wife. I got to watch the busy “city” folk starting to go about their business as dawn started ~8:30 AM.

Having once lived a life of sodium yellow for so long, even the streetlights are not what they once were…

Just goes to show, what bumpkins we have become…

The pesky mole has left sign…so this afternoon when I get back from the green waste tip, it will be trapping time again.

We have ordered a cat micro-chip reader to see if Bowie the stray once had an owner willing to part with a few quid for a chip. If she has a chip then furnished with the code, we can ask the local vet about owners. If not and we (I) catch her, her future remains uncertain. She looks fancy so there is breeding there…

We shall know, according to Congo.Fr, the new online delivery company, tomorrow afternoon.

Kindling, Mole Traps and Melancholy

Today I have been sizing planks from the broken up palette for kindling and chopping up the harvested hazel for storage. It looks like I have 6-8 weeks of dry wood sized to be chopped for kindling. This should take us towards the end of winter. Chopping the hazel with the chainsaw you get a lovely smell from the freshly hewn wood. I managed to overheat the motor on the chainsaw so I took that as a sign to stop. I put the v-frame for cutting the wood up on another palette. This made the whole thing a lot easier for my back, less bending.

The new pesky mole now has seven traps set in his new tunnels. I’ll wait a week and then see if I have caught it. No new mole sign means that the likelihood will be higher.

This afternoon I have been picking up wave after wave of melancholy. It is not my melancholy; it comes from elsewhere. I can see some faces associated with that melancholy, it feels as if some people are actually understanding something which they have failed to before. It seems as if some kind of penny dropping is causal of these waves of external melancholy.

Weird, I usually pick up anger directed at me, so melancholy is a bit new…

Is The New Age About Wokeism, Wellness and Merchandise?

It is possible to go on an ultra-high air miles wellness retreat to an “unspoiled” exotic location, to get massages, do fashionable yoga in the latest Instagram-able clothing, eat purging diets, and share the communal bathroom with people equipped with penises, breasts and who are full to the brim with big pharma produced synthetic hormones and who are sporting a “magnetised” butt plug made from asteroids of a bespoke design. One can wear ethical garments made in a Bangladeshi sweat shop. One might eat lab grown protein and have a vaginal chakra massage from a pervert. One may have to specify in advance pronoun choice and ethnicity in case someone called you a sheep shagger for being Welsh. No one seems upset about the colonial history of the English invading the land of my fathers. Perhaps we should sue them for reparations for exploitation and inflicting the Welsh knot so as to ethnically cleanse our language. Heinous bastards.

Do you think that people in Eastern Ukraine recognise the above wellness retreat as what the future holds for them?

There is a great deal of commercial interest in the whole wellness market, in ethically “responsible” clothing, cleaning products and business models. This market is not for the poor, the needy, the dispossessed and the tortured. It is largely for the “comfortable” relatively well off. There would not be commercial interest unless there is a buck in it.

If the motivation for teaching wellness is money, does that taint motive? Are people likely to make marketing claims beyond fact?

As we walked past a cosmetics show room today I said, “Come on in, pay top dollar for our potions which have not been clinically proven to have any positive measurable effect despite the expensive luxurious branding and advertising.” The wife suggested that I go into PR for the cosmetics industry.

Which is more insulting being called he or she when you deem that irrespective of your genetic make-up you prefer people to use the other pronoun or a 9mm bullet shot through your shoulder, or a piece of shrapnel from a downed suicide drone stuck in your spine?

Seems to me a whole lot of people have huge problems with reality and perspective.

Just as greenwashing pervades corporate PR, so does “ethical” virtue signalling pervade the so call “ethical” market. You can have bad ethics as well as good ethics, unspecified ethics are ill-defined.

There is a lot of hype and much less substance.

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The incoming new age is not about new marketing opportunities, clichés, fads and fashions. It will be about reality and not glamor, illusion and silliness.

People do not yet like reality…

Having said this I am left with a problem how do I shift the 10,000 ethically sourced, vegan, penis scented candles which I have stored in the garage?

Yearning For Normal – A Disconnect

During the pandemic people wanted things to get back to “normal”. Now the night-time industry in the UK has shed 800,000 jobs. Working from home, means working and not taking a sickie. Economies round the world are dealing with inflation and the UK is perhaps waking up to the idea that Brexit was a shit idea.  Reliance on Russian gas and Chinese semiconductors was perhaps not such a great idea either.

People in France are worried about the change in retirement age and in Britain they are on strike for higher pay. Holiday travel, that high carbon footprint par excellence is back on the cards.

And Europe and the USA are sending tanks to Ukraine. What next? Aircraft.

In the second world war the USA helped bolster the British war effort and declared war on Germany (Axis) in December 1941 after having declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbour.

To my eyes sending munitions and tanks to Ukraine for “free” is participation in conflict, no blood yet, but participation nevertheless. People have already decided that the events in Ukraine are not acceptable, yet they have not yet committed human bodies. They have taken a side. The slope of decision has been entered upon. There is no going back, there is commitment to one side in the struggle.

Cosy around hearth and home, group oriented on the picket line, is there perhaps a disconnect in the minds? We want “normal”.

The USA did not expect Pearl Harbour nor 9/11. People think that an invasion of Taiwan is unlikely. They thought that nobody would invade Ukraine too.

There has been increased practise from the French air force overhead here.

Yearning for normal against this world backdrop is perhaps disconnected from reality.

The Hungry Heron, Birdsong, Ducks and Coypu

It seems we are getting close to our winter range of wildlife.

The foxes are back, as are the owls and the badger comes visit when it is cold and icy. I feel a little sorry for the hungry heron. The river, Le Jaudy, has been flowing deep and fast for several weeks now so there is no dinner there. The fish in the pond are inactive and keeping largely to the warm deeper waters, so no breakfast either. When the sun is out, he sunbathes looking at the pond, wistfully.

The coypu was there this morning sat in “coypu corner”. It was the adult. I have not seen junior for a while. Junior #2 was shot by the hunters.

In the swamp Mr and Mrs Canard are back for the third year in a row. Last year she had seven ducklings. Now when I walk past the swamp they are not startled particularly if I ignore them. Looks like there will be ducklings again in due course.

Yesterday I had a go with my new microphone recording the birdsong from over the fence. There are quite a range of noises. The software I have is sophisticated allowing one to adjust gain differentially over frequency range. I reckon if I turn down the microphone input gain on a non-windy day, I should be able to get a decent recording using post-hoc “studio” techniques. We shall see…

The river is currently a bit too loud and noisy to record. Later when it is more gentle and bucolic I will try to capture its song…

Peer Group Policing

We have seen over the last few months the difficulty members of the Conservative party have in admitting wrongdoing within their own ranks. They excuse behaviour which were it manifest in the opposition party they would be arguing for sacking and/or resignations. But no not us, the butter does not melt in OUR mouths, there must be a toothless show inquiry made by people of a similar ilk to satisfy the plebs. This kind of within peer group policing is very unlikely to find fault and if it does it will excuse and accept explanations rather than prosecute. In the worst case scenario people will be put out to pasture for a couple of months and then brought back into the corrupt fold when sufficient time has been deemed past.

Peer group policing has failed time and time again in business where wrongdoing is rarely punished by peer group. Should a little “filly” complain of sexual harassment the chums gather together and draw the circle of wagons for the “US” club ready to repel the sole complainer Apache outside the club.

“The nasty little harridan how dare she spoil our fun. It was only a bit of banter. Has she no sense of humour? ”

This kind of within peer group ganging up against any outside complaint is rife across all levels of society. For example asking academics to judge misdemeanour by other academics is asking people to judge one of their own. The confirmation bias is likely to blind the “jury” who cannot accept any wrongdoing within their ranks as an a priori starting point. They would find it hard to condemn and seek every other avenue first.

Backslapping Tory chums do not see that their manner of business is a tad corrupt.

“This is how we do things old chap. Been doing it for centuries. There is precedent you know…”

If a peer group imagines that within peer group policing is effective and fair, they are deluded. At one level they know it is protectionist. No matter how hard they pitch otherwise.

I suspect that the preferred outcome in most peer group policing is to sweep things under the carpet perhaps with a showy pretend inquiry and hope everything calms down. {Thank God all that fuss has died down.}

Group mind is blind to the faults and shortcomings of the group.  It reinforces within the group the supposed acceptability of its norms and is highly defensive of said group norms. We, the group are right and righteous. They, he/she/it are wrong and the Devil incarnate.

We have people writing placards saying, “death to TERFs”, for example.

Does being a tranny turn you into an advocate for murder?

Group mind has a tendency to remain even more stuck, stubborn and entrenched than individual mind. It can foster extremism more readily than individual mind. The protection of the herd and its momentum can swing to extremes at pace.

Group mind is dangerous…

It can and does turn on individuals with speed and with ruthlessness. Rarely does it see that group against individual is bullying no matter how thoroughly it is justified around the campfire and with the jungle drums.

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Have I ever been party to group mind turning on and “attacking” an individual?

Did I feel that we as a group were justified so to do?

Susceptibility to Temptation

The dark jewel Temptation has the number 25 which means in effect minus seven or unwillingness to take any guidance. This is a seven year. If the planet offers us guidance in terms of ecological disaster we could listen, pay attention and try to find a solution. Or we could be tempted to do bugger all and carry on with our excessive luxury and consumption.

As a boomer I can say with a fair degree of likelihood that I will be dead by 2050. No male in my family has made it past 80 and I used to smoke like a chimney. I won’t be here to see the failed climate targets but I will experience the deterioration before I pop my clogs.

I believe the word “hack” is common parlance for finding a shortcut to at least temporarily “solve” a problem. They are good clickbait. Unfortunately, there is no hack, no shortcut for liberation and reduction in attachment.

In terms of life difficulties I am very sceptical about short cuts, am not interested in having advantage over others nor do I seek the lazy man’s way out. Very often the Elastoplast or sticking plaster “solution” whilst apparently expedient causes larger problems in the long term. Quick fix is an oxymoron.

There are some people who like, if possible, to find a low effort path. As a younger person I helped a number of people write their Ph.D. theses more than was perhaps appropriate. I was not in fact doing them a favour. They saw it as a quick fix and it was easier for me to help than to go thorough endless rewrites with them. Once you have written one thesis it is pretty easy to do others, especially in physical sciences.

There are others who instead of taking responsibility for their actions succumb to many excuses, the blame game and finger pointing. They imagine the world is against them and have a truly massive victim chip on their shoulders. “It is not fair mummy…”

Whilst is might seem expedient to succumb to the temptation of blaming others it rarely solves the character deficit such blame is meant to conceal.

Many people are very tempted by money, promised kudos and being all Kool and the Gang. If you look carefully, just like in cartoons, you can actually see $ signs rolling in their eyes in some cases.

The mutual backscratching, nod, nod, wink, wink, culture is seen as good business but it can mean yielding to temptation and evil.

“Go on old chap. You know that we are the best people to fulfil the PPE contract. After all we went to the same school as each other. I’ll return the favour in due course.”

The moral compass shatters when wanting to do a “favour” for a pal.

Temptation starts as the thin end of the wedge and in time it becomes normal practice. People can forget and grow ever more accustomed to doing dodgy stuff. People can become inured and tolerant of borderline illegal behaviours. They can find a whole host of reasons and justifications as to why it is kosher. The culture can become “infected” much quicker than many imagine. Academic bullying has been in the press. Is one supposed to take on the chin like a good little pleb? Cultural norms can be very unethical, tax evasion is OK provided that when you get caught you pay your fine, apparently.

Sleaze can become the “acceptable” norm.

I’ll make a postulate.

Anyone who is interested in power and power over is susceptible to temptation.

The type of mentality which seeks shortcuts and cuts corners can be easily tempted and swayed.

Those who are willing to put in a full and impeccable shift are less susceptible to temptation.

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Are you susceptible to temptation?

Just Ordered a Microphone

When I was very young, I used to enjoy reading the lessons and prayers in Sunday church at boarding school. Because I was with the expat kids and army brats, often when the parents would visit we were at a loose end. So, we got to read the lessons, ring the bells etc. instead of sitting tidy with the parents. I particularly liked prayers because I got to sit at a lectern facing the same way as the audience. No eye to eye contact. This is when “Saint Francis” spoke to my heart, metaphorically speaking. This is a part of my philosophy toward life, particularly the last bit.

Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.


Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.

I have been over the years asked to read out loud for others, especially poetry and occasionally by Americans.

I have been toying with the idea of reading some of my own work out loud and practising my for want of a better word “oratory”. Written word can only convey so much meaning, emphasis is the icing on the cake. It might help me to listen to my own attempts in French as well.

It is time to start chanting again and for that I will need something between my lungs and the microphone.

Soon enough there could be some text and sound here at Trou and Dour…

The Throw Away Society

In  our current society there is a tendency to throw things away and that includes people. Jacinda Ardern has resigned, worn out, perhaps utterly knackered. These days there is not only the job to do but endless harping to endure. In the “wise” western world people are measured by things like performance metrics, requiring one to achieve more, year after year. This is especially true in “sales”. People “burn out” and are jettisoned to gardening leave or early retirement. Perhaps all they need is a year away from the hamster wheel. But no there are the young up and coming cannon fodder to feed into the hungry cogs of the meat grinder. So, they must trot off into the sunset.

And now dishy Rishi is suggesting that we entice the over 50s back into the work place. What for, some more metrical idiocy? More pissing up against the urinal wall? Once one has said foxtrot this for a game of soldiers, would one look to re-join the madness?

To my eyes this phenomenon of “burn out” is a symptom of the idiotic growth paradigm. People talk about growth but they forget that cancer is also a growth of sorts. In our case the “growth” eats the planetary and human resource at a tremendous and unsustainable rate. If capable people cannot sustain the effort demanded and required of them in the workplace, is it their fault or simply a systemic inadequacy? Is the frantic frenetic world it is my postulate that the current paradigm needs a radical overhaul. Hundreds of millions of people suffer so-called mental health problems because they find themselves at odds with the apparent demands of the throw away paradigm. Life is stressful if one is for ever measured against some arbitrary ruler.

“Is my cock sufficiently big to work in this august and noble company?”

I have met many people in and around my age, who remain very able and capable. Yet they have taken or were forced into, early retirement. They are societal jetsam, though materially comfortably off. All the young guns are free to make exactly the same mistakes as those who have gone before and who learned the hard way. That advice is no longer available, it is out walking its Labrador and is a regular visitor to the garden centre tea shop.

So now the young and thrusting will have to work until they are ~70 in order to pay the pensions and health provision of those who have been jettisoned early. Smart move, methinks. Dishy Rishi is of the generation that got rid of the likes of me.

People throw away those who do not conform to some rigid person specification made up on a spreadsheet and laden with bullet points. I have sat in interviews watching people check things off a list. I was thinking that these dudes are wankers and there is no point throwing pearls before swine. They were complexly unaware as to what was transpiring in the moment, fixated on their check list and unable to listen properly. They had never written a business plan which raised £5 million yet they were judging me on my entrepreneurial ability as per their omniscient spreadsheet.  Doh…

I thanked them for giving me the opportunity, they had no idea as to what I meant by that. They were oblivious to my nuance of tone. Autoproctology had them.

So, not only do we throw away plastic, we throw away people and talent all in the name of “Growth” which is in many ways an oxymoron. Stagnation of paradigm is not growth or change, it is stagnation. People do not evolve if they do the same shit over and over again…