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Russell Brand, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight, recently called for “a revolultion, a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth“.

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The complete accurate transcript.

Jeremy Paxman: “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?”

Russell Brand: “Well, I suppose like a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the typical criteria is. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris [Johnson]..he used to do one, didn’t he? So I’m a kind of, a person with crazy hair, quite a good sense of humour, don’t know much about politics, I’m ideal.”

Paxman: “But is it true you don’t even vote?”

Brand:
 “Yeah, no, I don’t vote.”

Paxman: “Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Brand: “Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere, for alternatives, that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means; alternate political systems.”

Paxman: “They being?”

Brand: “Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate. But I say, but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet; shouldn’t create massive economic disparity; shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people, like, doing a magazine for a novelty.”

Paxman: “How do you imagine that people get power?”

Brand: “Well I imagine there are sort of hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations…”

Paxman: “They get power by being voted in, that’s how they get power…”

Brand: “Well you say that Jeremy…”

Paxman: “You can’t even be arsed to vote?”

Brand: “It’s quite a narrow, quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within in the ah…”

Paxman:
 “In a democracy that’s how it works.”

Brand: “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed. Given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”

Paxman:
 “No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you can’t be arsed to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?”

Brand: “You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Brand: “I’m trying to.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you start by voting?”

Brand: [Laughs] “I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.”

Paxman: “When did you last vote?”

Brand:
 “Never.”

Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

Brand:
 “No. Do you think that’s really bad?”

Paxman: “So you struck an attitude, what, before the age of 18?”

Brand:
 “Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that, really, just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.”

Paxman:
 “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?”

Brand: “No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system. And drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge, underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems. And, also, don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy…”

Paxman: “Of course it doesn’t work for them if they didn’t bother to vote.”

Brand: “Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying…the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look at..ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Isn’t that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, innit?”

Paxman:
 “Yeah.”

Brand:
 “So what am I gonna do, tune in for that?”

Paxman:
 “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”

Brand:
 “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Paxman: “All of those things may be true.”

Brand: “They are true.”

Paxman: “But you took…I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.”

Brand: “Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard, it’s gorgeous.”

Paxman: “It’s possibly because…”

Brand: “And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Because I’m against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.”

Paxman: “You are a very trivial man.”

Brand: “What you think I am, trivial?”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Brand: “A minute ago you were having a go at me because I wanted a revolution now I’m trivial, I’m bouncing about all over the place.”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like.”

Brand: “Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osbourne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.”

Paxman: “What’s the scheme, that’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talked vaguely about a revolution, what is it?”

Brand: “I think a socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment… I think they should be taxed. I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?”

Paxman: “Who would levy these taxes?”

Brand:
 “I think we do need like… I think there needs to be a centralized administrative system but built on…”

Paxman: “A government?”

Brand: “Yes, well, maybe call it something else. Call them like the Admin Bods so they don’t get ahead of themselves.”

Paxman: “And how would they be chosen?”

Brand: “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system. I’m merely pointing out that the current…”

Paxman: “You’re calling for revolution!”

Brand: “Yeah, absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for genuine alternatives.”

Paxman:
 “There are many people who would agree with you..”

Brand: “Good.”

Paxman: “The current system is not engaging with all sorts of problems, yes. And they feel apathetic, really apathetic. But if they were to take you seriously, and not to vote…”

Brand: “Yeah, they shouldn’t vote, they should, that’s one thing they should do, don’t bother voting. Because when it reaches..there’s a point…You see these little valves, these, like, sort of cosy little valves of recycling and Prius and like you know turns up somewhere, it starts reaching the point where you think ‘oh this is enough now. Stop voting. Stop pretending. Wake up. Be in reality now. Time to be in reality now’. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference? We know that already?”

Paxman: “It does make a difference.”

Brand: “I have more impact at West Ham United, cheering them on, and they lost to City, unnecessarily, sadly.”

Paxman:
 “Now you’re being facetious.”

Brand:
 “Facetiousness has as much value as seriousness, I think you’re making the mistake, of mistaking seriousness for solemnity”

Paxman: “You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness.”

Brand: “We’re not going to solve them with the current system. At least facetiousness is funny.”

Paxman: “Sometimes.”

Brand: “Yeah, sometimes, Jeremy. So listen. So let’s approach this optimistically. You’ve spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians. And then when someone like me, a comedian, goes ‘they’re all worthless, what’s the point in engaging with any of them’, you sort of have a go at me because I’m not poor anymore. I’m sorry!”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you about that. I’m just asking why we should take you seriously when you’re so unspecific about what…?”

Brand: “You don’t have to take… Firstly, I don’t mind if you take me seriously. I’m here just to draw attention to a few ideas, I just want to have a little bit of a laugh. I’m saying there are people with alternative ideas that are far better qualified than I am, and far better qualified, more importantly, than the people that are currently doing that job. Because they’re not attempting to solve these problems. They’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. Their measures that are currently being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve, will not solve the problem.”

Paxman: “You don’t think it’s possible that, as human beings, they’re simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem?”

Brand: “Not really, well possibly. It might be that, but that’s all just semantics really, whether they’re overwhelmed by it or tacitly maintaining it because of habitual… I mean like, mate, this is what I noticed when I was in that Houses of Parliament. It’s decorated exactly the same as Eton, is decorated exactly the same as Oxford. So a certain type of people goes in there and thinks ‘this makes me nervous’ and then another type of people go in there and go ‘this is how it should be’. And I think that’s got to change now. We can no longer have erroneous, duplicitous systems held in place unless it’s for the serve…only systems that serve the planet and serve the population of the planet can be allowed to survive. Not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites and this is what’s currently happening.”

Paxman: “You don’t really believe that.”

Brand: “I completely believe it. Don’t look at me all weary, like you’re at a fireside with your pipe and your beard.”

Paxman: “I mean Ed Miliband (inaudible)…”

Brand:
 “Well he went to the same primary school as Boris, didn’t he?”

Paxman: “He did but he then went to a comprehensive school in north London.”

Brand: “Well that’s very good. That’s all well and good. But what I’m saying is, within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough. So you can well understand public disturbances and public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Paxman:
 “Because by the time somebody comes along you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.”

Brand: “I don’t think so because the time is now, this movement is already occurring, it’s happening everywhere, we’re in a time where communication is instantaneous and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference in, even if, only in that, it introduced, to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People for the first time in a generation are aware of massive, corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense. And these subjects are not being addressed. No one is doing anything about tax havens, no one is doing anything about their political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious, why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense. Then it’s this one that gets in, then it’s that one gets in but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?”

Paxman: “I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.”

Brand: “Yeah, I am angry, I am angry. Because for me it’s real, because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I just turn up to once in a while to a church féte for. For me, this is what I come from. This is what I care about.”

Paxman: “Do you see any hope?”

Brand: “Remember that…yeah, totally, there’s gonna be a revolution. It’s totally going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up.
I remember I seen you in that programme, where you look at your ancestors, and you saw the way your grandmother were out to brass herself or got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew that it was unfair and unjust. And that was what? A century ago? That’s happening to people now. I just come from a woman who’s been treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman, today, who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people to pore over emotional porn. If we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I mean I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.”

Read Brand’s New Statesman guest editorial here.

Read Brand’s 05/11/13 The Guardian response to the backlash brought on by his Paxman interview here.

This is a list of demands that Omani Public School teachers are making to improve the situation for their students and themselves. At this posting they have completed seven days of strike action, going to school but not going to class. Unconfirmed reports indicate that 70% of the nation’s Public School teachers are actively engaged in this industrial action. Students appear to be going to school in the morning at 7a.m. as usual but then being sent home by 9a.m. by school administrators. Interestingly there is a nationwide media blackout in force regarding the strike. Apparently the Minister of Information decided that the teachers’ issues should not be aired in public. Teachers do not, currently have a nation-wide union. Teachers are allowed to organize, apparently, on a school by school basis after obtaining permission from the school principal. (The editorial comments are my own).

1. Provide a gym for students in each school (Valid given the extremely hot (up to +/- 47C) weather in the early fall, late spring and early summer when school is still in session);

2. shorten the teaching day (Seriously? The teaching day is already quite short; approximately 5 contact hrs/day; Teachers do not do Extra Curricular Activities after school as all children head home by 1 p.m.)

3. Provide nursery for teachers’ children (valid; many teachers are mothers who do not have daycare options readily available to them; this would make good sense, provide more jobs for trained daycare providers and be culturally appropriate);

4. Provide good buses for students-a seat for every child in the bus (valid; some buses are bedlam with overcrowding being potentially dangerous);

5. Change the curriculum and the Ss’ assignments (No details provided that i’ve seen; this is a very major undertaking and would require the MoE and teachers’ representatives to sit down and discuss brass tacks about what measurable outcomes they actually want to see happen in the school system. Currently automatic promotion is the norm and students are pushed up even if they are not able to handle grade level material. Teachers feel at a loss dealing with incredibly weak students and those who are at grade level in the same class. Part of the problem here is that teachers are not trained/skilled/provided materials and support for delivering differentiated learning outcomes; every student is measured with the same yard-stick);

6. Raise the salaries of teachers (Interesting; teachers are already quite well paid in the Omani scheme of things and only two years ago got across the board raises as part of the after effects of the Arab Spring winds blowing through the Middle East. Justifying a new round of wage increases in so short a period of time would be difficult given the perceived very low levels of inflation in Oman. Prices of essential commodities are controlled by the Govt and rents, in many cases, have actually decreased due to oversupply in some centres.)

7. Provide raises for teachers based on performance. (Interesting; No details provided as to how performance would be measured. Standardized testing? If that were the case it could lead to tremendous amounts of teaching time lost to the administration of the tests and copious amounts of time lost to “teaching to the test” to ensure “good” results. There would also be the problem of teachers and school administrators cooking the results so that they look good. This is an unfortunately common occurrence in this part of the world.)

8. Promote teachers every 4 years. (Why? Unless there are changes in duties leading to increased workload or greater responsibilities it does not make sense to automatically promote teachers unless they have been made department head, vice-principal or principal. However it would make sense for teachers to have a salary scale that reflected increased experience and expertise acquired over time in the classroom with increments for every year (or every 4 years) of experience.)

9. Female teachers should be brought back to schools near to their homes. (This is a difficult item. First and foremost why should female teachers be given preference for being posted close to their homes? Aren’t males entitled to make the same request? Frequently novice teachers are posted great distances from their hometowns in remote areas as there are few local teachers available from those locales. This will continue to be an issue until all regions of the country become equally developed. Oman still has quite a ways to go where this is concerned as students in remote rural settings don’t necessarily see the need to go out and get an education especially one leading to a teaching job as teaching is viewed as a low status job especially amongst Omani men. The best and brightest students are not encouraged to become teachers but to get into other “real” professions. If every teacher was allowed to teach near her/his home the remote rural schools would be devoid of teachers. Currently female teachers can only use wasta or an accumulation of years spent in the boondocks to get a transfer closer to home. This makes it difficult for them to settle down and get married as they are living and working so far from their normal pool of possible partners in their community. There seems to be very little marriage outside of one’s region. Interestingly, male Omani teachers can easily get postings close to home as their is a dearth of male Omanis willing to take up the teaching mantle.)

10. Retirement for female teachers should be after 15 years. (Seriously?  Why only females? Why bother getting educated for 17 years only to work 15 years? Teachers would retire before they hit 40. Where would the money to pay for their retirement come from? Work 15 years and then get retirement benefits for 30, 40 or even 50 years? Bizarre.)

11. Teachers should teach only and (not) take substitution classes or other activities. (Unfortunately there is an overall lack of qualified teachers in the country. When a teacher falls ill and cannot fulfill her/his work obligations the principal can not pick up the phone and call a trained and qualified teacher from a pool of substitute teachers to come in and take over. Classes for absent teachers can not be left unattended as this would be a dereliction of Duty of Care (in loco parentis) responsibilities. Until such a time as there is a surplus of qualified teachers just waiting around to step in as substitute teachers the status quo will, unfortunately, have to remain. There are pools of young recently graduated teachers in some areas but, frequently, they have yet to be certified as they have not yet passed government requirements for them to be allowed in to schools. (i.e. IELTS 6.5 for ELTs). These teachers are also unwilling to travel to more remote parts of the country to get work. Omani schools do not have ECAs in the traditional sense so what ‘other activities’ are being discussed is not clear. Students need to be supervised during breaks, so unless there are parents or carers available teachers would have to do this on a rotational basis at schools.)

11. Teachers’ salaries should not be cut during holidays. (Clearly teachers salaries should be paid over 12 months of the year and not just the 10 months that they work; so adjustments would have to be made and monthly salaries lowered so teachers could get 12 months of pay rather than 10 months. This system works well in other countries.)

13. Teachers should only be required to teach 15 lessons a week. (This is a pie in the sky demand. Until there are enough teachers to go around teachers will have to cover the normal workload they have now. In many countries teachers cover double that number of lessons a week with far greater numbers of students in their classes.)

14. Provide health insurance for teachers. (Interesting; the government already provides a system of government hospitals and clinics which are free for the Omani public, all others pay cash. However these are perceived as inferior and overcrowded compared to the private clinics and hospitals which have developed to cater for the more well off and the expatriate community. Even in major centres such as Sohar, however, the government hospitals are able to provide facilities and expertise which far exceed that which the best clinics can provide.  It might be better for the country just to nationalize the health care system rather than allow the two or three tier system that currently exists.)

15. Modify the retirement salary. (Details not provided; Omani civil servants, which count teachers in their ranks, do NOT pay into retirement/pension plans. So this would be another area requiring a lot of negotiation on the part of teachers and the Ministry. If teachers want good retirement plans perhaps they should be willing to pay into them.)

(16.) another (unofficial?) demand is that all schools from cycle 1 to 3 be gender differentiated. (This would mean no boys mixing with girls in grades 1-4 as is currently the practice. There are two possible reasons for this: fundamentalist religious leaders in the educational community see this as necessary and/or the female teachers currently teaching in Cycle 1 schools find it difficult to control the boys. It is understood that Sultan Qaboos originally intended for the entire school system to be co-educational reflecting best educational practice in the modern world however he had to bend to conservative religious ideals. Teachers should be able to control their students. If they can’t they should get professional behaviour management training and support. Perhaps too, the principals also need help in making schools zones where every adult is responsible for managing the behaviour of all students in the building. There is no doubt that male Omani students have a sense of entitlement that is largely unearned. Just because they are male they may feel they don’t have to kowtow to females who are not blood relatives. This sense of entitlement is perhaps cultural in nature and might need to be modified.)

Dear Chris,

thanks very much for your thought provoking video. i’m an English teacher hoping to use your poetry in my English Literature course this coming semester. i’ve taken the liberty of editing your text for punctuation, grammar, and spelling and to make it conform more closely to the spoken word of your video. Please find my transcription below:

Peace,

rob

Black Does Not Equal Fear

Complete transcript:

George Zimmerman: (edited 911 call)

Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy… this guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around and looking about.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

GZ: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now, he’s just staring…

Chris Beasley:

I am black.

Do you fear me?

Is it from what you’ve heard

Or what you see?

I wear sweatshirts, Polos, and white Ts,

But it’s not my clothes that indict me.

It’s not my actions, education, or personality;

It’s my nose, my lips and my ancestry.

Why does my skin speak louder that the words I say?

We don’t assume all whites are Timothy McVeigh.

If I plead the fifth and don’t add to my case

I can’t escape your ideas of my race.

It’s ok to infer, conclude, perceive.

As long as we know what we deduct can deceive.

Admit you could be wrong,

Cause you don’t know me.

That’s all that I ask, I’m begging you please.

If I have a ball you clap and cheer,

But outside the game you quiver in fear.

I see purses clutched closer, doors lock as I pass,

Words laced with curses. No wonder we clash.

Justice in court

Will always fall short

If we don’t begin to take a fresh start.

The judge tried to exclude race. That’s a fact.

But the jury could not forget that Trayvon was black.

No need to see race and then pick us apart

Cause we all look the same when we stand in the dark.

Now judge me simply by my diction.

Hear my emotion and conviction.

I want to enlighten not divide.

I want respect for your life and mine.

If fear is the cause, that’s something we share.

And fear is caused from not knowing what’s there.

So, like President Obama, let me be clear:

I’m a black man,

And I’m not going anywhere.

I’m part of some gangs you’ve heard all about.

I’m an Aggie alum,

And a proud Eagle Scout.

Entrepreneur starting a career.

I will identify myself so you’ll see there’s nothing to fear.

The idea of being black has been twisted so much.

We’re said to be savage, ghetto, and ratchet,

Threatening, and lazy, and sitting on our butts.

And those that know me still seem to judge.

You call me white cause I’m none of the above.

I’ve been called black, and I’ve been called white

Based on what you believe, neither is right.

I am Chris, one of a kind.

So don’t judge me by your experiences but by mine.

And I’m inclined to tell you, I’m not alone.

In moments like this we all can be strong.

Let our voices be heard. Let them relish the sound.

Cause how can we move forward, if we all stand our ground?

After that verdict, the value of my life seemed bleak.

What are my chances if they demonize me?

So we fear for our lives, to a certain extent,

But this video is our self-defense.

Chris Beasley, July 2013

The Harper Government released a terse statement at midnight EST that, effective immediately, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was resigning. Reasons stated were an overwhelming sense of malaise and hopelessness at having destroyed any hope for Canada’s and indeed the global environment by having completely gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act, destroyed the Global Environmental Monitoring System and Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area. Image

Not to mention destroying any credibility and traction Canada had on the world stage by withdrawing from both the Kyoto Accord and the UN Desertification Accord. Harpy is said, by insiders, to be helplessly hoping that Canadian history will redeem him as something less that the Mephistophelean caricature of a political opportunist and sell out to oil interests he has created for himself.

Henceforth the Government will be referred to as the Hapless Government. Stepping up to fill in as interim PM will be Bev Oda.

-30-

Recently one of my children, a 2nd year Uni student, asked me for tips on how to save money as he never seems to be able to save (and oft-times ends up asking for help at the end of the month to pay for expenses that he can’t cover from his two part-time jobs.

Image

Here is my reply which i addressed to all three of my children who have fled the nest.

Hi guys and gal,

A while ago your younger bro asked me for tips on how to save $$$. i guess i learned how from my parents who both grew up during the depression.
When i earned $$$ as a kid i saved it, at least most of it. by the time i was 15 i had saved $500 from my paper route; i only earned a few dollars a week for delivering papers for 5 years. The $500 became the foundation of my trip to Europe as a 19 year old once i finished high-school. After i quit the paper route i got jobs as a life-guard, swimming instructor and grocery bagger. i saved some and spent some. i spent on my collection of vinyl records while my contemporaries spent their pay cheques on smokes etc. Those that lived didn’t get anything to show for their hard work, it went up in smoke or down the toilet literally pissed away; i have a 1000 records in mint condition. Sometimes its about not wasting the $ you do spend.
Things we do to save:
1. Never ever buy on credit: when we use a credit card we always have auto-payment of the entire amount every month, that way we don’t get suckered into paying their 27% interest (should be illegal but it isn’t). nowadays it seems we just can’t get away without using a credit card especially for online stuff i.e. when i book our tickets to go back home every summer. The only time you should really take out a loan is when/if you buy a home. (ok i took student loans when i was at Uni but i made sure i paid them off before i got married to yo momma; didn’t want that hanging over my head while trying to start a family). i have never and will never take out a loan to buy a car. If you can’t afford it you don’t need it. Virtually every where you’ll live and work you’ll find you can use a bicycle more efficiently than a car to get around. For sure it will be cheaper and you’ll have the added benefit of exercise. You’ll recall the last time we lived in a major metropolitan centre in North America we did not get a car but instead we all cycled everywhere most of the time or took public transport.
the rest are common sense:
2. don’t do Fivebucks/Timmy’s coffee. get your own travel mug and use that with instant coffee and hot water.
3. don’t do restaurants/fast food. they may save time but they sure don’t save $. also the food choices are oft times less than healthy.
4. brown bag it. take your own homemade lunch to school/work, don’t do the cafeteria/McD route. too expensive on any income unless you own Microsoft.
5. avoid drinking in bars/pubs. again just too expensive. we still act that way here. i can count on one hand the number of times i’ve gone to a pub here in 2.5 years. i cringe when i see the prices: one beer at the 4 star hotel costs as much as half a case of beer at the govt controlled booze shop. The prices at the 5 star hotel are even more ridiculous. when i was a Uni student i would treat myself to one beer a week, end of story. Just too expensive to drink and save $ these days what with all the taxes.
6. Sally Ann/Goodwill or garage sales for good used clothes and other things you might need. i’ve bought some really nice previously worn clothes at The Salvation Army thrift shop or other thrift shops like the one near your old place guys. You may recall i bought quite of bit of used furniture from garage sales when we lived in Cowtown.
7. Buy used books, not new. This is especially good for text books if possible (i know they always aren’t available but do look around.) These days you can download a lot of free books to your tablet, great free entertainment. And there is always the library.
8. Take advantage of the free stuff on campus, concerts, films etc. for your entertainment.
9. Don’t do anything illegal: the lawyers fees will screw you over. One of my classmates was once caught up by the RCMP in a big drugs sting. His parents had to mortgage their home to pay for the lawyers. We will not do that for you. An another word for the wise, because of the social responsibility work i’m engaged in people may try to get to me through you so please make sure you’re squeaky clean. So i repeat: don’t do ANYthing illegal. We don’t need the hassle or expense.
10. Buy food that is in season. Buy day old bread etc. shop for groceries from a list; don’t impulse buy when at the supermarket and only buy groceries when you’ve recently had a meal. Eat the groceries you buy, don’t let them rot in the fridge.
11. File your income taxes on time, claim every credit you can. You should be able to get $ back every year. If you’re late with your claim you’ll get the $ back late, if you owe $ you’ll have to pay heavy fines.
12. Pay all bills on time or before they’re due i.e. rent, utilities, health care premiums etc. You know you end up paying more otherwise.
13. Put $ aside for a rainy day. Do not spend every cent you earn each time you get paid; put a percentage aside in the bank and leave it there for when you need it.  i used to save 50% of my pay when i was a kid. Later, at uni it was harder but i still kept a cushion in case i had an emergency. You can never tell when you might need $ for something unexpected like a wedding or a funeral… having the dosh on hand to pay for a gift or the needed airline ticket would be nice.
take care,
love you all!
d

A facebook friend posted this today: I am definitely unable to provide for Nick as a single mum.. :(

i replied:

You basically have to provide for three things: Nick’s physical, mental and emotional needs.

Physically he needs good nutritious food, clean clothes and a roof or tent over his head. the food should not be junk food; rice, veg, fruit, protein, mother’s milk. the clothes do NOT need to be new, 2nd hand should be freely available, go to your local church/mosque and get, a roof? (well there’s always mama right?Image)

mental: speak to him in your mother tongue; that way he grows up bilingual, your language plus English which he’ll pick up on the street etc.; another thing to do for his mental well-being, if you’re not already on this page, is to read to him every night at bedtime, research shows that children who are read to will have a vocabulary 4-7 thousand words larger than a child who is not read to. the kids who are read to will have a head start at school that the others will never catch up to.

Emotionally, if you’re breast feeding him he already knows you love him, when you read to him at bedtime you further cement that love relationship + you build up a sense of a stable life with a set of rules and boundaries (invisible but nonetheless necessary) and you start building a life long love of books (should be freely available at your local library); basically you just have to love him, which i’m sure you’re doing. you can also help him by providing him with a strong sense of right and wrong, he’ll follow your lead; so don’t do anything you don’t want him parroting.

i have been teaching a course in English Literature. i decided to use Fielding’s Modern Glossary as a representative work of satire from that period. i’ve included the entire glossary below with a few notes.

Fielding: A Modern Glossary (1752)

ANGEL. The name of a woman, commonly of a very bad one.

AUTHOR. A laughing-stock. It means likewise a poor fellow, and in general an object of contempt.

BEAR. A country gentleman; or, indeed, any animal upon two legs that doth not make a handsome bow.

BEAUTY. The qualification with which women generally go into keeping.

BEAU. With the article A before it, means a great favourite of all women.

BRUTE. A word implying plain-dealing and sincerity, but more especially applied to a philosopher.

CAPTAIN/ COLONEL { Any stick of wood with a head to it, and a piece of black ribband upon that head.

CREATURE. A quality expression of low contempt, properly confined only to the mouths of ladies who are Right honourable.

CRITIC. Like Homo, a name common to all human race.

COXCOMB1. A word or reproach, and yet, at the same time, signifying all that is most commendable.

DAMNATION. A term appropriated to the theatre; though sometimes more largely applied to all works of invention.

DEATH. The final end of man; as well of the thinking part of the body, as of all the other parts.

DRESS. The principal accomplishment of men and women.

DULLNESS. A word applied by all writers to the wit and humour of others.

EATING. A science.

FINE. An adjective of a very peculiar kind, destroying, or, at least, lessening the force of the substantive to which it is joined: as fine gentlemen, fine lady, fine house, fine clothes, fine taste;–in all which Fine is to be understood in a sense somewhat synonymous with Useless.

FOOL. A complex idea, compounded of poverty, honesty, piety, and simplicity.

GALLANTRY. Fornication and adultery.

GREAT. Applied to a thing, signifies bigness; when to a man, often littleness, or meanness.

GOOD. A word of as many different senses as the Greed word EXw, or as the Latin Ago: for which reason it is but little used by the polite.

HAPPINESS. Grandeur.

HONOUR. Dueling.

HUMOUR. Scandalous lines, tumbling and dancing on the rope.

JUDGE/JUSTICE. } An old woman.

KNAVE2. The name of four cards in every pack.

KNOWLEDGE. In general, means knowledge of the town; as this is, indeed, the only kind of knowledge ever spoken of in the polite world.

LEARNING. Pedantry3.

LOVE. A word properly applied to our delight in particular kinds of food; sometimes metaphorically spoken of the favourite objects of all our appetites.

MARRIAGE. A kind of traffic carried on between the two sexes, in which both are constantly endeavouring to cheat each other, and both are commonly losers in the end.

MISCHIEF. Fun, sport, or pastime.

MODESTY. Awkwardness, rusticity.

NOBODY. All the people in Great Britian, except about 1200.

NONSENSE. Philosophy, especially the philosophical writings of the ancients, and more especially of Aristotle.

OPPORTUNITY. The season of cuckoldom4.

PATRIOT. A candidate for a place at court.

POLITICS. The art of getting such a place.

PROMISE. Nothing.

RELIGION. A word of no meaning; but which serves as a bugbear to frighten children with.

RICHES. The only thing upon earth that is really valuable, or desirable.

ROGUE/RASCAL. } A man of a different party from yourself.

SERMON. A sleeping dose.

SUNDAY. The best time for playing at cards.

SHOCKING. An epithet5 which fine ladies apply to almost everything. It is, indeed, an interjection (if I may so call it) of delicacy.

TEMPERANCE. Want of spirit.

TASTE. The present whim of the town, whatever it be.

TEASING. Advice; chiefly that of a husband.

VIRTUE/VICE } Subjects of discourse.

WIT. Prophaneness, indecency, immorality, scurrility, mimickry, buffoonery6. Abuse of all good men, and especially of the clergy.

WORTH. Power. Rank. Wealth.

WISDOM. The art of acquiring all three.

WORLD. Your own acquaintance.

Notes:

        1coxcomb: a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop.

        2Knave: an unprincipled, untrustworthy, or dishonest person.

        3 Pedantry: excessive concern with minor details and rules.

       4Cuckoldom: the state or quality of being a cuckold. (Cuckold: the husband of an adulteress.)

       5Epithet: a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.

       6Buffoonery: acting in a course, rough, or undignified joking manner.

A lot happened in 2011. People around the world were affected to a greater or lesser degree by what occurred. i was struck by an, at times, overwhelming sense that i could not do anything to affect change or to help those working for change either here in Sohar, Oman or in the streets of the cities and towns around the world where people are trying to make a difference. In the end, i decided i could, in my small way, bear witness to what was happening and work towards small positive changes that i think i can impact. i would ask that you consider joining me in my New Year’s resolution.

Every year, Jamie Mackinnon, a friend from my Cuso Nigeria days sends out a “Noel News” missive. This year he opined,

“Historical analysis seems to show that, over the millennia (beginning with the rise of the state) and more so in recent decades, violence has been declining globally, and the dignity of the human individual (as seen through the prism of human rights) has been increasing.”

As i read that i reflected on 2011 and what i had witnessed either in real life or through the words and pictures of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. i decided i had to beg to differ with Jamie. i feel that violence is increasing, partly because, at 7 billion and counting, there are more of us human beings around and partly because we are becoming inured to violence, both casual and causal. Violent action and rhetoric are, it seems to me, constantly being ratcheted up in attempts to hold off change and secure the status quo.

Here in Sohar we experienced the worst aspects of the Arab Spring when a citizen was shot and killed as he photographed the nascent movement for change. my workplace was closed for a week while our students demonstrated for change. 

In Cairo twitter friend Mona Eltahawy had her left arm and right hand broken by military security forces while they sexually assaulted her. Mona writes of her experience in detail here.

Also from Cairo came this graphic image of a woman being singled out for gross abuse by the military. She was in the streets demonstrating for an end to rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. If ever a picture told a thousand words this was that occasion. The full story behind the picture can be read here. What is not told is the story of the Coptic Christian who attempted to save this Muslim demonstrator from the beating she was getting. He ended up being shot in the knee for his efforts.

In North America the quotidian use of violence against peaceful, non-violent demonstrators is best summed up by this now infamous picture of one sworn to protect and serve disabusing all and sundry of his role in life. Violence has become banal and utilized indiscriminately by authorities around the world to either maintain their power or the status quo. TIME magazine’s Person Of The Year issue featured The Protester; very fitting but the cover story missed several important protest actions in the MENA region and elsewhere.

If one thing has become crystal clear it’s that money talks. The upcoming election in the USA is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Occupiers are slowly changing the focus away from the 1% who control the pocketbooks to the 99% who should be controlling the streets.

At this time and place in my life i’ve decided that i can best effect change by watching how i spend my money. Going out on the streets while i have four kids in school isn’t a good idea. i won’t be able to help them if i’m occupying the inside of a jail cell.

As my New Year’s resolution i’m revisiting and renewing several of my long-standing consumer boycotts:

Nestlé because they are still illegally promoting their infant formulas as better than mother’s milk. i’ve been boycotting Nestlé ever since i was working in Nigeria in the late ’70s and i heard of their deadly practice which actually leads to mothers in developing countries inadvertently killing their infants. Maggi is also a Nestlé subsidiary and should be avoided like the plague.

Union Carbide since 1985 because they still haven’t paid full reparations for the Bhopal disaster.

Shell Oil since 1988 when i first started buy petrol/gasoline for their ongoing lousy environmental record in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria.

i’ve been boycotting Kraft the longest, since 1973, when i attended a Perth County Conspiracy concert. Band members railed against this food processing behemoth which consistently twists the arms of its supplier farmers in its pursuit of profit. There are better quality foods from a host of other more socially responsibly producers.

McDonalds ever since i worked there in 1974. They serve a product; they do not serve food. Nutritional value? Forget it.  Working there, behind the grill, was eye-opening and disgusting.

Just two days ago i decided to add Chik-fil-A when i discovered that they are promoting homophobia. Not that there is any chance of my ever darkening their doors as my wife Kim and i decided to become vegetarians over a year and a half ago. It was, plainly put, the right thing to do, for ourselves and the environment. Meat production utilizes far too much resources.

So while you may feel there is nothing you can do there is. Occupy your wallet, spend your money where it won’t hurt others. Support a political party or politician whose views you agree with. Late last year i finally became a registered member of a Canadian political party despite never being either able or allowed to engage in the Federal political process through the ballot box in my home and native land. i’m now a proud member of the Green Party of Canada and will do what i can, from a distance, to see that we gain more seats in Parliament.

Stephen Harpy, his policies and his politics are the greatest threat to the Canada that i knew and loved growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. So i’ll rage against him and his, in this blog, on twitter and on a ballot if i’m ever allowed to vote as a non-resident Canadian citizen.

No i’ve not changed my stance on controlled substances nor did i find myself afoul of the law here in Oman. i had a 2.3 cm long vesical calculus (stone) lodged in my bladder caused apparently by a slightly enlarged prostate. The stone was causing discomfort and haematuria (blood in urine).

So i spent five days in Sohar General Hospital recently. It was an adventure i would sooner have avoided but, apa boleh buat? (What to do?). Went in last Friday evening for pre-op observation and to ensure that i did not eat or drink anything in the half a day before the procedure.

Dr Joseph, a urologist, told me he would remove the stone and possibly remove my prostrate if need be, the decision for the latter would be taken “on the table”. Saturday morning i woke up to find breakfast waiting for me (the catering staff hadn’t been told i shouldn’t eat). i was a good lad and avoided eating.

i was wheeled into the OR at 11:25 and a spinal was administered. i noted three young trainee doctors there to observe the procedure, i figured why not? i train teachers so why not let student doctors observe me being worked on?

crushed bits of my bladder stone after removal

A green curtain was put up and Dr Joseph entered quietly and immediately got to work. He told me later that the stone was difficult to remove as it was large and the center was very hard.

While he was in there he decided to do an endoscopic resection of my prostate because he felt it was what had caused the stone in the first place. So i’ve kept most of my prostate which is good.

While resectioning my prostate the good Dr found many small stones which he also removed (the smaller bits in the above photo). Then came the insertion of the catheter. This was painless as i was still under the spinal despite already being able to move my feet at this point. The anesthesiologist had done a wonderful job of estimating how much to give me so i would feel what was going on.

After a very short while in the recovery room i was wheeled back to the male surgical ward where i spent the next few days hooked up to a drip into my bladder to help wash the wound. The removal of the catheter was a totally new experience that doesn’t bear repeating. i was rather amazed at how long it was… 30 cm of the 40.5 cm length had been inserted up my yazoo. When the nurse took it out he told me to take a deep breath, i ended up having to take two deep breaths. The coins are the same size as a quarter dollar.

So now i’m supposed to take it easy for the next several weeks, no straining, lifting or bonking allowed… apa boleh buat?

What did i learn? Well Pete Townsend’s “hope I die before I get old” dictum wears thin after fifty. i’m thinking i’m definitely no longer “young” so i guess i must be getting old or at least older. i’ve also learned that good medical care is priceless. The surgeries cost about OR630 (you do the exchange). Gary, my American colleague said it was a fraction of what it would cost back in the States. my employer provided healthcare should cover most or all of it. Alhumduillah!

i’ve also learned that there are stark differences between Omani culture and ours. Kim’s students couldn’t understand why she wasn’t at the hospital all the time this week; she told them she had to work. Omani families in their hordes descend upon the hospital when one of their members is ill, some even staying over night. Kim came once a day while i was recovering, during the posted visiting hours. It was more than enough.

When i was 13 (in 1968) i clearly recall a friend’s father getting angry at his son when the lad switched the needle on their portable, battery powered, record player from mono to stereo when he put a 45 rpm single on the platter. Dad knew that singles were only issued in mono and that to use the diamond stereo needle which was only for LPs (long play records) on a mono recording would needlessly wear out the more expensive stylus. my friend’s Dad blew his cool but then had to quickly climb down off his high horse when his son showed him that the recently released Beatles single had been released in stereo. (The picture shows the setting for an LP, flip the lever 180 degrees and you get the mono needle.)

i learned a lesson that day: never argue about technological change, especially with a teenager. Change happens so fast that it seems the older generation just can’t keep up.

Recently we moved house and attempted to connect our wireless base station to our iMac desktop and our two Macbook Pro laptops. Last year when i lived in Sohar alone, i connected my Macbook Pro directly to the Nawras modem connected to the microwave roof-mounted receiver. Two weeks ago when i was unpacking our iMac i tried to connect it directly to the internet in the same fashion, i was unable to. i then tried to connect the modem to our wireless base station. i found that my MacBook Pro could connect but that the iMac could not, would not and didn’t care. (it connected to the base station but couldn’t connect to the internet).

At this point i spent quality time on the phone with Nawras technicians at their call center located in either Muscat or New Delhi (you guess). These qualified personel were flummoxed by the Apple OS, they took notes and said they’d be back in touch. True to their word they did get back in touch with someone who supposedly could rectify the problem. He didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon my 14 year old son Rining was able to solve the problem. He managed to trouble-shoot something or other and within minutes of our coming home had us all on the internet via the base station. i bow to his fearless ability to solve a technical problem which had confounded paid professionals!

Luddites, you have nothing to fear with technological change. You only need worry about your inability to keep pace with it.

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