A bad pun for the end of the world

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Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

There is relief, of course, that Trump has gone. After Trump, it’s hard to conceive of any president that would actually be worse in all ways presidential — outwardly at least. On the other hand, it’s very easy to conceive of many presidents that would offer more hope for real change than Joe Biden.

When your best feature is that you’re not your predecessor, it’s a good indication that expectations are low. And Biden’s cabinet picks so far appear to indicate that he’s not about to raise expectations any time soon.

The Democrats, after sabotaging Sanders in successive campaigns, have once again managed to select their Wall Street candidate. Like Labour in the UK, they seem to think that creeping to the right but calling themselves centrists is the way to gather the trust of a generation of working class voters they have sold out to neoliberal unregulated free market capitalism. …

Millions to their friends, cuts for the needy: it’s a catchy slogan

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Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

That the Tories are even considering reducing Universal Credit at this time is, perhaps, not shocking. They are Tories, after all. That they are not pushing through pay rises for nurses at a time when not only are health worker hours and commitment stretched beyond imagining is probably par for the course for Tories. This Tory government has now led us to the highest death rate, if not in the world, then at least in Europe. With, I might add, no apology, no acceptance of blame, and certainly no sign of contrition.

And this evening, Tories voted down a move to keep the NHS off the table in future trade deals. You know, the NHS we were clapping for only recently. The reward for valiant service to the nation is for the nation’s leaders to consider you worthy to be sold off to private enterprise. …

…. you don’t have a political party; you have a company department

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

I may have left the Labour Party but it continues to fascinate — a bit like watching a driverless train heading quickly towards the buffers at a deserted station.

What has become clear over the last few days is that the party’s funds seem to be in parlous shape. This has forced Sir Keith Strimmer to abandon any struggle to manage the optics around bowing to the wishes of prospective donors.

To be fair to the man, he can afford the gamble at the moment because the media are occupied with other matters and they already know that Labour under the garden gnome is not going to be a party that threatens the status quo. …

Greenwald and Poitras both gone…. Not a good look

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Snowden, Poitras, and Greenwald were the recipients of the 2014 Carl von Ossietzky medal. Photo: Michael F. Mehnert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What it does it say when the co-founders of an organisation both leave within months of each other and both write damning accounts of why they are no longer at the organisation?

I first came across the names of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras because of their part in the breaking of the Edward Snowden files. …

Time does the rest, if you let it

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This is purely aspirational, you understand — Photo by Benn McGuinness on Unsplash

I’ve carried the thought that I would like to try yoga for at least twenty years. And, like many of the things I know that I think would be good for me, I have never carried the thought forward into action.

I’m not really one for resolutions — experience has taught me that they are both a waste of time and serve only to make me feel disappointed in myself — but this year I am finally determined to make some changes. One of those changes is to recapture some flexibility, balance, tone, and self-respect. …

…..by proposing the same old tired neoliberal sh*t

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

So there you have it. The Labour Party under Sir Keir (the Strimmer) Starmer has finally found its financial policy. It’s going to threaten the Tories with a plan to become economically competent. This radical policy — of basically following the traditional neoliberal playbook of balanced budgets and austerity — was announced by Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds in the annual Mais Lecture on January 13th.

Now follows a rant.

This is a return to playing by right-wing economic rules. It’s a commitment to drain useful money from the economy and ensure it filters upwards. Balanced budgets — or treating the national economy like a household budget where spending should match income — is simply a guarantee of stunted growth, low wages, poor services, inadequate housing, and ever-increasing inequality. …

When the writing life is like eternally rolling a boulder up a hill

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By Franz Stuck Public Domain

I wish I’d thought of the phrase in my headline. It’s Anne Lamott’s description of many a writer’s life. The phrase comes to towards the end of her introduction to Bird by Bird, where she talks about having no regrets for choosing the career she followed.

“I’ve managed to get some work done nearly every day of my adult life, without impressive financial success. Yet I would do it all over again in a hot second, mistakes and doldrums and breakdowns and all. Sometimes I could not tell you exactly why, especially when it feels pointless and pitiful, like Sisyphus with cash-flow problems.”

Privatisation is still the best answer, says nobody

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Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

From the time that the first photo was posted on Twitter yesterday, a storm has erupted across much of the media — both social and mainstream — about the miserly portions sent in a food parcel as part of the free school meals programme. The picture was, indeed, shocking and confirmation was soon pouring in from other households that this was what was being sent out by the private — of course — company handling the distribution of the food. …

Taking the bus home in Crete

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Photo by Emily Passmore on Unsplash

I have just finished Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story and, as I was reading the short Conclusion section, an image of a bus journey from many years ago flashed into my head. So I’m going to share that.

I was living on Crete. My girlfriend and I had both taken courses back in the UK to give us the certificates needed to teach English. It was my girlfriend who landed the job in Crete and we travelled by Magic Bus to Athens and then on to Crete by overnight boat from Piraeus.

The woman who ran the language school in Heraklion had a friend with a school in a village in the hills near the Lasithi Plateau. It was decided I would visit there once a week and teach the children in her school. …

Coming to realise that all time is your time

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Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

Thich Nhat Hanh tells a story about one of the lay helpers at Plum Village. (Plum Village is the Buddhist centre in France that Nhat Hanh set up in 1982 after he left Vietnam for enforced exile in 1975.) The story concerns time — and I’m being vague as far as reference goes because I can’t find the actual story in the books on my shelf. I came to this post certain I knew in which book I could find the story and roughly where in the book it was. I failed to find the correct book. Even worse, I failed to find any notes about it, either. …


Graham Stewart

Writer, husband, father.

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