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Weekend Open Thread

by afew Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 10:39:02 AM EST

Had we but space enough, and time


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Here's some space, if you can find the time.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 10:39:31 AM EST


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 10:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, can't view in Germany.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 03:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Deborah Orr - It wasn't Labour who spent too much, it was the banks. How did we forget this?

Democratic politics exists only to make the powerful answerable to the vulnerable. Without that exchange, it is nothing. The coalition - the right - overturns that link and despises the welfare state for giving the vulnerable protection from the powerful. They think that without protection, the vulnerability would disappear. Yet they need only look to places - and times - without welfare, to see what a delusion this is.

It's important to recognise that the coalition is sincere in its delusion. Accusing them of cynically employing "shock and awe" opportunistically to deliver "ideologically driven" cuts and privatisation in the wake of the banking crisis is no good. They really believe, I think, that neoliberalism has been stunted and retarded by the socialistic welfarism of the "big state". They really believe that once the public sector has been curtailed, the private sector will move in to replace it with services that are more efficient and dynamic. It's their genuine conviction that they are in the process of making Britain and the world a better place that makes them so dangerous.

The reality, however, is that all three of Britain's major political parties were speaking the truth at their pre-election conferences in 2009. Each admitted that there would have to be deep cuts to public services. But this wasn't because the economy needed "rebalancing". It wasn't because making cuts would achieve any sort of effect on the economy. It was because, as outgoing chief secretary to the secretary Liam Byrne wrote in a note to his post-election successor: "There is no money left." It's important to remember that the cuts are reactive. They are not being made to achieve an economic result. They are an economic result, a logical conclusion. The most dispiriting thing in the human world today is that there is so little clarity over what they are the result of.

there is much to like in this essay, but that first paragraph is worth the price of entry on its own.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 10:59:50 AM EST
But the UK has its own sovereign currency. Could it just use that fact intelligently the economy and life in general could quickly improve. The problem is the evil spell cast in the interests of wealth and class that all but a tiny few mistake for 'necessary reality'. Break free from that spell and many good things are possible. This starts with increasing the number of people who realize that there are real alternatives.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 12:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They have little or no interest in doing anything like that. Just like republicans, they're small govt conservatives who believe that welfare is a sin which creates laziness. They want to reduce the state until all that's left is a system whereby taxes are directly transferred to the bank balances of their supporters and nothing else gets done

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 02:19:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are the problem. More people seeing the real alternatives is the solution. The problem is getting from here to there.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 02:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And to demonstrate, the latest wheeze from the Ministry of Cheap Cruelty ...

Guardian - Tanya gold - Fat chance of the Tories humiliating the real culprits

Westminster has suggested that, should fat people on council tax and housing benefit refuse to go to the gym on their doctor's advice, their welfare payments should be docked, as punishment for their expensive, degrading, unsightly fatness. Of all the London councils, Westminster seems the most desirous of becoming a sort of glossy spa hotel council, filled only with the lovely, as they bus those on housing benefit out and away.

The fact that making fat people homeless will mean councillors will have to see them more often seems to have escaped them as they write policy on the back of napkins. Read the policy document, and think of Winston Smith mindlessly doing his exercises in front of a box in 1984 because that is what the state required from him, among other things. Are these Tories aware that in their demonisation of poverty, they are beginning to sound like their own nightmare cartoon of the left?
[....]
Where will it end? Whose behaviour will be considered so self-destructive that the net will be removed? Drivers? Skiers? Yachtsmen? Rugby players? I doubt it. This is simply the criminalisation of misfortune. In this mindscape, the state is no longer an agency to relieve poverty, because poverty is uncivilised, but an arbiter of behaviour, a Dickensian psychopath, or god.  



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 02:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Right is a bunch of rabid environmentalists who want to save the planet by exterminating the needless 99% without the 99% getting wind of what's going on. So starve them out, kill them in wars, pollute their underground water sources, deprive them of power and resources ... sound familiar?

That's the "glass half full" scenario ... hope they're that smart.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 04:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's that time when I find myself tempted to just scream "ohgodohgodohgod" over and over as I bng my head on the table to dull the pain of teh stupid

Liberal Conspiracy - Chris Dillow - The problem with Labour's jobs guarantee: a subsidy for companies

You can rely on the Labour party to live down to its reputation as a party of capitalism.

Its "compulsory jobs guarantee" does so in two ways.

First, the fact that it will be compulsory for the long-term unemployed to take up the jobs panders to a mistaken "divide and rule" rhetoric that distinguishes between skivers and strivers. As Neil says, the party is - yet again - "running scared of the Daily Mail".

Secondly, the policy will, as Liam Byrne says, "provide subsidy" to private sector employers to hire the long-term unemployed. Labour will, in effect, give taxpayers' money to Tesco so it can employ more shelf-stackers.

FFS. As if giving these corporates effective tax free status on op of their subsidized out of town superstores to help destroy the British High street, they still don't understand that these schemes, which are just a sop to the eejits who think all unemployed people are skivers who need a good whipping, are just another subsidy to corporate profits.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 11:19:42 AM EST
What the hell happened to Willard ... did he fall off the earth? And what of his much publicized garage on the CA coast? Did he choose

   OR

If only he had made it into the WH!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 03:55:22 PM EST
wasn't kato played by bruce lee ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 06:20:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. Loved to see him kick people in the head.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 07:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 04:15:31 PM EST
Can't wait to see them "live" in Berlin.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaďs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 04:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

One of his lesser known works.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 06:22:20 PM EST


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 07:14:45 PM EST


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 07:21:52 PM EST
melo's last two photos pass well together. Here we have space, and stone auto time.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaďs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 07:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over Half of Germany's Renewable Energy Owned By Citizens & Farmers, Not Utility Companies : TreeHugger

Germany's promotion of renewable energy rightly gets singled out for its effectiveness, most often by me as an example of how to do things well versus the fits and starts method of promotion common in the US. Over at Wind-Works, Paul Gipe points out another interesting facet of the German renewable energy saga: 51% of all renewable energy in Germany is owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy.

Breaking that down into solar power and wind power, 50% of Germany's solar PV is owned by individuals and farms, while 54% of its wind power is held by the same groups.

In total there's roughly 17 GW of solar PV installed in Germany--versus roughly 3.6 GW in the US (based on SEIA's figures for new installations though the third quarter of 2011 plus the 2.6 GW installed going into the year).

Remember, Germany now produces slightly over 20% of all its electricity from renewable sources.

The thing that got me though, other than the huge lead in solar PV installations Germany has over the US, thanks to good policy, and the fact that so much wind power isn't owned by utilities, is what slightly over half of renewable energy being owned not by corporations but by actual biological people means--obviously a democratic shift in control of resources and a break from the way electricity and energy has been produced over the past century.

that's the kind of austerity we need!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 08:29:43 PM EST
"Citizen Power" Conference to be held in Historic Chamber Where World's First Feed-in Law Was Enacted | Wind-Works | Paul Gipe
Germany, a country where 51% of the renewable energy generation is owned by its own citizens, will be hosting an international conference on community power 3-5 July, 2012 in Bonn, the former capital.

... The conference is being organized by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and the German Wind Turbine Owners Association (BWE). Both organizations are longtime supporters of community ownership of renewable energy. Because it represents the thousands of individual owners of wind turbines in Germany, BWE has become the world's largest wind energy association.

With backing by federal, state and local government, the community power conference is expected to attract attendees from around the globe.

"If we want to reach 100% renewable energy supply," says Stefan Gsänger, WWEA's managing director. "We have to ensure that local communities benefit from renewable energy development and support projects in their vicinity. Community- and citizen-ownership models have a proven track record in achieving this objective."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Mail - Thousands are hit by fare hikes... but not the rail minister who spends £80,000 on a CHAUFFEUR for his 35-mile commute

Simon Burns claims he takes the £400-a-day car to work as he can't take his ministerial Red Box on the train for security reasons
But the Transport Department contradicted him saying he CAN travel by train as long as sensitive details can't be seen
He travels in a brand-new £25,000 Toyota Avensis which is one of two cars owned by the Government department

Well, he's too posh to travel on a train, he might accidentally brush against a poor person

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:18:28 AM EST
Typical !! A Tory benefit reform so complicated that even MPs don't understand it

Daily Mail - Child benefit chaos engulfs Tory MPs: Downing Street orders politicians to check family status with tax inspectors

Downing Street aides last night ordered Tory MPs to contact tax chiefs immediately to prevent them being caught up in the child benefit cut fiasco.

Alarmed by reports from Whips that MPs with children do not understand the new system or how they will be affected, aides told Tory MPs to phone a special HM Revenue and Customs hotline to advise them.

The £65,000 salary of MPs puts them well over the cut-off point for child benefit changes which take effect from tomorrow.

But the complexity of the system means that in theory, some MPs could use extra pension payments to argue their `adjusted salary' for child benefit payments is below £60,000, allowing them to continue receiving child benefit. The loophole arises because MPs can choose how much to pay towards their so-called `gold-plated' pensions.

The confusion among MPs, who voted through the benefits changes, underlined the chaos across Middle England as couples struggled to work out how they will be hit and how to avoid losing out unnecessarily, without breaking HMRC rules.

Apologies for another Daily Mail reference, but a story is a story.
NB Those phonelines the MPs are advised to contact are premium 0845 lines where being asked to wait for 10 minutes is apparently pretty standard.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:27:40 AM EST
A comment in a Guardian column asking "What is Love ?

True love exists, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be the recipient of it. I used to live in China, and I knew a blind couple in my neighbourhood. I never spoke to them as I didn't speak Mandarin and they didn't have even a smattering of English, but I used to see them sometimes on the road walking hand in hand led by their carer. I used to wonder what love must've been like for them - they would've never seen each other, never known what it's like to look into the eyes of their soulmate and just never done so many things which we take for granted. I'd just moved overseas after a long term relationship - the only one I've ever had - had ended bitterly after I'd found out my partner had been cheating on me with a vastly more attractive woman. Sometimes I used to feel that not being able to see your partner wasn't that terrible a thing, as you then wouldn't have a plethora of other people to compare your partner with and seek out greener pastures, as it were. The couple in question always looked so happy and contented, as if they were just glad they had each other and wanted nothing more. A lot of responses on this thread have touched on the sexual aspect of love and to be fair, and undoubtedly, the physical appearance of one's partner matters a great deal when we get into relationships but sometimes I can't help but feel utterly depressed at how superficial our world is.

So then. What is love? If you ask me, I'd say love can be beautiful and transcendental, but as often as not, it is petty, ephemeral, fickle and just very, very self-centred.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 05:12:47 AM EST
This is solid citizen solidarity

Guardian - Pamplona's locksmiths join revolt as banks throw families from their homes

He is a locksmith who refuses to open locked doors; neither will he replace their locks with new ones. What may seem a disastrous strategy for Iker de Carlos, a 22-year-old Spaniard starting out in the world of cylinders, pins, bolts and lock springs in his home city of Pamplona, is actually part of a growing civic rebellion in support of the biggest losers in Spain's five-year story of failing, mismanaged banks - those being thrown out of their homes after falling behind on mortgage payments.

Tired of accompanying court officials to evict unemployed people as banks foreclosed mortgages, De Carlos consulted his fellow Pamplona locksmiths before Christmas. In no time at all, they came to an agreement. They would not do the dirty work of banks whose rash lending pumped up a housing bubble and then, after it popped, helped bring the country to its knees.

"It only took us 15 minutes to reach a decision," says De Carlos amid the racks of keys in the family's shop in the centre of this small northern city best known for its annual bull-runs and the adoration heaped on it by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises. "We all had stories of jobs we had been on where families had been left on the street. When you set out all you have is an address and the name of the bank, but I recall an elderly, sick man who was barely given time to put his trousers on."



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 05:50:31 AM EST
solid solidarity ??? Sorry about that

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 05:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I imagine that the city has been pretty hard hit.  There was a tremendous cost difference between renting and buying back then, even with epicly low interest rates.

In the old quarter some of our friends rented a 3 bedroom place for € 240 a month.  Yet, to buy the same place would have been at least € 150,000, or over €1,000 a month.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 07:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Facebook
This is a wildlife bridge in the Netherlands. Wildlife bridges are designed to help animals cross busy highways in safety. They don't just protect wildlife from being hit by cars - they also connect fragmented habitats and help populations intermingle and breed.
The Netherlands is leading the way in designing these bridges. The country is home to more than 600 similar crossings.

Costa Rica is big into this.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 01:52:00 PM EST
I'd instinctively say that wildlife bridges are probably better than nothing, but 2012 was also the year when the first criticism was leveled at the use and function of them. They've indeed been built by the hundreds in the Netherlands, and there are dozens more planned, to the cheer of the Dutch building companies - but we scarcely know anything whether these bridges contribute positively to connecting wildlife areas. It's hardly ever been looked into - and only now there is a little research being done on the effectiveness of these 'ecoducts'.
by Nomad on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 04:11:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On first thought, they couldn't hurt, no?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaďs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 07:05:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of reasons why they would hurt. Still, many (politicians/green groups) have hailed their effectiveness, while there's only minute knowledge on what ecoducts truly achieve... Is it greenwashing if a goal seems laudable and 'green' but we've no idea what it does, we just perceive that it does something laudable and green?
by Nomad on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 06:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the wild life on the Mile End Road under my local Green Bridge in London is (sort of) human



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 07:54:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh grief, I seem to have come down with something. Headache and general achiness and no energy whatsoever. Kinda like flu but not.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:20:30 PM EST
I was just going to post that there's a major flu epidemic in North America and China, and was wondering if it had come to Europe yet.

It seems it's the H1N1, at least in China.

Take care -  lots of rest, fluids, etc.

by stevesim on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:32:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting, despite the red carpet he is not moving to the UK.

Vladimir Putin presents Gerard Depardieu with his Russian passport - Telegraph

Depardieu received his Russian documents as details emerged of a furious argument he had with French president Francios Hollande earlier this month.

The actor has threatened to quit France for good over Mr Hollande's plans for a 75 per cent tax rate on all earnings over one million euros.

And the first follower seems to get ready:

Vladimir Putin presents Gerard Depardieu with his Russian passport - Telegraph

Over the weekend another French screen star, Brigit Bardot, vowed to follow Depardieu to Russia not over tax, but animal welfare.

Animal welfare seems a strange reason to me to change to Russian citizenship.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:31:52 PM EST
they look like such fools.
by stevesim on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:33:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps we could make a list of people who ought to be presented with the telephone number of the Russian embassy? If you don't like it here in the west..., remember, anyone?
by Katrin on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:55:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geh doch nach drüben!
by IM on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have recently discovered a 20-year-old British band...

They even wrote the official 2012 olympics song.



I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2013 at 01:00:28 AM EST


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