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What part of “Social Distancing” don’t you understand?

i found it difficult to believe that a friend, cribbage buddy and former colleague i reconnected with after almost 3 years apart told me,Steve’s coming round for a beer on Thursday.  We shall isolate together, but 1.5m apart.”

Bizarre! i thought? Seriously? i couldn’t understand why this heretofore, clever ELT was going to run the risk of catching the novel corona virus by inviting a friend over for a beer.  Surely you can have a beer together over facetime, no? (we recently shared a meal with one of our sons this way, he was having his Easter Sunday dinner while we were enjoying Easter Monday brunch 14 time zones away.)

But i digress! Back to the beer in question. Randy is a bon-vivant, a warm, open-hearted bear of a man who loves life, music and the finer exlixers that brew-masters and distillers can craft with their many and varied alchemic skills.

Why would Steve, despite Randy’s obvious manly charms and social skills, run the risk of going out needlessly, being caught by COVID19’s loverly little pathogens and bringing them back into his house where he has a little baby?  Ok, i admit the baby i recall seeing way back when we all were working together back in the UAE, is now somewhat older and walking and talking and no longer wearing diapers.

He might also expose Randy to the invisible killer by touching a door knob, toilet tank lever, water tap. i’d hate to never break bread, quaff a brew or suffer the slings and arrows of yet another cribbage lost to the big boy.

Or, Randy could transmit the virus to Steve and being asymptomatic not have any idea that that was what was happening; until it’s too late…

But are things that slack in OZ that people just don’t understand how pernicious that novel little nasty is?  Has the Aussie govt not driven home every evening just how important it is to maintain social distance? my PM Justin Trudeau, maybe doing some stupid political shit but he does hammer home the necessity of maintaining social distance and has gradually upped the cost if people disregard Social Distancing rules by applying sticks to go with the previously stated regulations.

Why would his wife, Poppy, allow her man out of their house for a random beer with a former employee? i mean, doesn’t Social Distance also apply to Social Class? FaFaSa!

i’ve already teed off at a TESOLer colleague for going out for exercise by telling her, just stay at home. Seriously. Here in Malaysia you can only leave your home/flat/condo if you are the head of the household and you’re either buying groceries or going to the pharmacy. When shopping: must have temperature taken before going in and apply hand sanitizer and be wearing mask, otherwise no entry. (already at least two shop clerks have bought the farm in NYNY. the need for Social Distancing is paramount. Going out and about for a lark/exercise is reckless and potentially suicidal.  And illegal here in this 3rd world backwater.  When i come back from my once every week or eight days shopping, i remove shoes OUTSIDE, walk in, go to bathroom, strip turning clothing inside out, shower with lots of soap, shampoo, lather. dress in fresh shorts, then carry the laundry to the machine, where it gets washed, wash my hands again!        Go outside after curfew RM2000 fine.”

Randy? Is Steve planning on showering and then changing into a fresh set of duds once he shows up at your place for that friendly glass of foamy social lubricator?

dicks maskFriend of a friend recently posted this: “Behold! My masks have arrived! I wore this to Walmart and petco today. When someone tells me my mask has penises on it, I kindly let them know this is how I determine they are too close, kindly back the fuck up.

#projectpenismask #cockblockcorona”

Two of our four spawn have become COVID19 unemployment statistics. They’re going out and about their respective YCC and YUL, exercising, running etc. i’m trying to get them to stay indoors to exercise; so far my wishes remain imaginary horses.

Here in Kota Semarahan we’ve two good friends, UNIMAS doctoral candidates, who only live 80 meters away as the crow flies. Before our lockdown they used to come over 2 or 3 times a week for food and grog. We haven’t seen them in weeks since this schizzle got really serious with two deaths in our suburb and a hotspot located only 300 meters away at the village mosque. Oh joy, oh rapture.


Postscript: Randy sent me this link:

Can I visit my family or parents? Australia’s coronavirus lockdown rules and restrictions explained

It seems where he lives he’s legally allowed to have a friend over for a while as long as they, don’t get to close and practice safe sex… Just kidding Randy!

25d45Yesterday morning i was checking my personal email for the first time in days; i’ve been busy with work and preparation for a house guest and a severe case of self-inflicted World Cup Football Fever.  So i started opening emails as one does from the most recently arrived and read this:


P…                                                                                           22 Jun 2018, 04:08

to me

Hi Rob,

I insist that you resign from the leadership team of ER-PLN immediately. OUR GROUP IS BASED ON NON-VIOLENCE. Let me know your decision.
to which i replied:

Hi P….,

i’d love to know what you’re being so insistent about.
i’ve been practicing non-violence all my life; i’ve turned the other cheek so often my head spins.
Please advise.
i then opened another email:

H…….                                                          23 Jun 2018, 01:08

to me, C…..

Hi Rob!
I hope this message finds you well!
I wanted to reach out to you personally related to your recent post on the SRIS Facebook page (screenshot attached). There was some concern raised by a member that this post advocated violence and was inappropriate to the mission of sharing ELT resources and advocacy for social justice. We think perhaps the “until 45 is 25ed” was interpreted as if 25ed was a form of violence, i.e. being 86ed or killed.
We value freedom of speech and certainly understand your protest of the current administration and your comment related to boycotting TESOL convention in the U.S. That said, we are also wondering if you might consider editing or removing the comment based on the concern raised above. I know you contribute so much to our community and as community manager, I hope you can understand this request.
I’m here if you’d like to chat more about this;)

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 1.03.38 PM

to which i replied:
                                                                                          24 Jun 2018, 01:58
to H…, C….


i’m not even an American citizen and i know what the internet meme “until 45 is 25ed” means.
the 45 is, of course Donald J. Drumpf, the 45th President of The United States of America.
the 25 refers to the 25 amendment to the Constitution of said USA which provides the legal background by which a sitting President can be impeached (i.e. the Articles of Impeachment). It was a rather big meme several months ago when it looked like the Russian investigation would lead to more than just a few paltry charges and admissions of guilt by low ranking aides.
pax et amare,
i then followed up with this by way of clarification (in between times i’d watched another footie match):
                                                                                 24 Jun 2018, 04:05
to H…, C….
the actual hashtag was #25for45 (i.e. Impeach Trump)
The next email i opened…

delete your post

to me

Hi Rob,

I need to ask you a serious question: ARE YOU A FUCKING IDIOT?
to which i replied:
                                                                                            24 Jun 2018, 04:23
to H…., P…..

last time i checked i wasn’t as stupid as i look…

Which “FUCKING STUPID NUMBERS” are you referring to?
Having heard from H…. i understand you quite possibly mean “until 45 is 25ed” in a recent post.
that was a variation on the #25for45 twitter hashtag that was quite popular a few months ago when The Donald was being The Donald.
“the 45 is, of course Donald J. Drumpf, the 45th President of The United States of America.
the 25 refers to the 25th amendment to the Constitution of said USA which provides the legal background by which a sitting President can be impeached (i.e. the Articles of Impeachment).”
i was merely stating that until Donny was legally impeached by the US Govt i was going to continue to join the academic boycott of The USA.
(are you American? i’m not but i did learn quickly what #25for45 means.)  The are special places in hades for the likes of @POTUS & @FLOTUS
pax et amare,
To which s/he replied:
                                                                                                24 Jun 2018, 07:12

Hi Rob,

I am sorry I misunderstood your meaning. I am also sorry for the inappropriate emails. Thank you for clearing things up for me.
Hi H….,
Thanks for taking the time to help me out trying to deal with this. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I will definitely try to keep a cool head in the future.
This morning i got this:
                                                                                               24 Jun 2018, 07:12
to me, H….


If you are uncomfortable or unwilling to removing the post, I wonder if—at minimum—you would consider editing your post to make clear the intent (i.e., impeachment/resignation).  I understand through H….  that this is unnecessarily escalating.  (…I am not suggesting that you are the apparent source of the escalation.)

The “About this Group” Facebook page description asks members to “Post comments, teaching ideas, links to teaching materials that promote Social Responsibility in TESOL.”  While—like you—I would welcome the removal or resignation of POTUS, I am not sure the SRIS Facebook page for teaching materials is an appropriate venue for venting.

I hope you receive this email in the respectful tone intended.  Many thanks for considering this request.

Be well,


In response i edited the post:

thank God for artists! (i will continue with my academic boycott of the USA until such time as 45 has been 25ed (45=Trump; 25=25th amendment to US constitution articles of impeachment). So that means i’ve not been to TESOL in since 2016)

and finally i sent this along:

Hi C….. & H…..,

you may have noticed that i did change the post on the SRIS fb page per your suggestion.
Given the recent Supreme Court decisions i’d say y’all have your work cut out for you.  Drumpf now has 5 Justices in his pocket…
One could argue that SRIS’s fb page needs to become a wee bit proactive in advocating for change in the face of what Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruit, Sarah Sanders et al are up to to legitimize 45 and make him appear normal.
Good Luck!
pax et amare,
this just in from P: 


P                                                                                    2 Jul 2018, 20:48
to me

Hi Rob,

About a week has gone by, and I wanted to thank you again for the message explaining things to me. I completely misunderstood your posts and then went about things the wrong way to say the least. I am deeply sorry for messing up. Never have I sent such inappropriate emails and I promise my emails in the future will be better. Just wanted to say, I have been dealing with personal issues recently which have definitely been a factor.
to which i replied: 

Hi P….,

i think i may actually understand where you were coming from (i’m not an authority on American History but an American writer/local man of letters told me:
     “By the way somone could interpret that to assassinating 45. The 25th prez was William McKinley who was killed…
        Numbers are always open to interpretation! I took a course in statistics. One thing I learned you can prove or disprove anything by numbers.  When I first read yr comment I thought that was what you were referring to until you clarified. I was thinking…25th must’ve been assassinated.  Sure enough…so I see where the anger was coming from if that’s what they were thinking you meant…
     Avoid using 20, 25, 35 with 45. Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy…
     Though I have a feeling that could happen. If so I hope its from a family member or someone inside the WH, one of his own who couldnt take the BS anymore…
     Also 16. Lincoln…”
So maybe that’s what you were thinking? i dunno.  Anyhow i hope you get your personal demons sorted out.  we all have to tilt at windmills once in a while.  Sometimes they tilt back but sometimes we win (i just scored a big win from the RC Church: after 13+ years of determined waiting and slow agitation i finally managed to get a Declaration of Nullity so my wife and i can now get married in church and not live in sin anymore…) 😉
take care,
and i leave this with this message from Bansky:


Where Is The Love (2016 remake)

The Black Eyed Peas

Where is the love ?

People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Can you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Mama mama mama tell us
What the hell is going on
Can we all just get along
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love)

[Verse 1:]
Yo what’s going on with the world momma
(Where is the love)
Yo people living like they ain’t got no mommas
(Where is the love)
I think they all distracted by the drama
And attracted to the trauma, momma
(Where is the love)
I think they don’t understand the concept
Or the meaning of karma
Where is the love ?

[Verse 2: Diddy]
Overseas yeah they trying to stop terrorism
(Where is the love)
Over here on the streets the police shoot
The people put the bullets in ’em
(Where is the love)
But if you only got love for your own race
(Where is the love)
Then you’re gonna leave space for others to discriminate
(Where is the love)

[Verse 3:]
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you’re bound to get irate
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how hate works and operates
Man we gotta set it straight
Take control of your mind and just meditate
And let your soul just gravitate
To the love so the whole world celebrate it

People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Can you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Mama mama mama tell us
What the hell is going on
Can we all just get along
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love)

[Verse 4: Taboo]
It just ain’t the same always in change
(Where’s the love)
New days are strange is the world insane
(Where’s the love)
Nation dropping bombs killing our little ones
(Where’s the love)
Ongoing suffering as the youth die young
(Where’s the love)

[Verse 5: Game]
Where is the love when a child gets murdered
Or a cops get knocked down
Black lives not now
Everybody matter to me
All races y’all don’t like what I’m saying ?
Haterade tall cases
Everybody hate somebody
Guess we all racist
Black Eyed Peas do a song about love
And y’all hate this
All these protest with different colored faces
We was all born with a heart
Why we gotta chase it
And every time I look around

[Verse 6: Taboo +Ty Dolla $ign ]
Every time I look up every time I look down
No one’s on a common ground
(Where’s the love)
And if you never speak truth
Then you never know how love sounds
(Where’s the love)
And if you never know love
Then you never know God wow
(Where’s the love)
Where’s the love y’all ? I don’t I don’t know
Where’s the truth y’all ? I don’t know

[Chorus: Justin Timberlake]
People killing people dying
Children hurting I hear them crying
Could you practice what you preaching
Would you turn the other cheek again
Father father father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
(Where is the love) x2

[Bridge: DJ Khaled]
Love is the key
(Where is the love)
Love is the answer
(Where is the love)
Love is the solution
(Where is the love)
They don’t want us to love
(Where is the love)
Love is powerful
(Where is the love)

[Verse 7: A$AP Rocky + Jaden Smith]
My mama asked me why I never vote (never vote)
Cause police men want me dead and gone (dead and gone)
That election looking like a joke (such a joke)
And the weed man still selling dope (oh lord)
Somebody gotta give these niggas hope (give us hope)
All he ever wanted was a smoke (not a cosh)
Said he can’t breathe with his hands in the air
Laying on the ground died from a choke
Where is the love

[Verse 8: + Fergie]
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m getting older y’all people gets colder
Most of us only care about money making
Selfishness got us following the wrong direction
Wrong information was shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinemas

What happened to the love and the values of humanity ?
(Where is the love)
What happened to the love and the fairness and equality ?
(Where is the love)
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
(Where is the love)
Lack of understanding leading us away from unity
(Where is the love)


Writing/speaking activities following viewing the video: Students answer the rhetorical question, “Where is the love?” Students pick one of the children in the last frame of the video and imagine/tell their story.


An open letter to Justin Trudeau:

Image result for Light Armoured Vehicles

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Why is our Canadian government, which represents all Canadian citizens to the world, still committed to sending billions of dollars worth of weaponized Light Armoured Vehicles to the morally bankrupt, terrorism exporting, Wahhabist regime in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, you inherited this appallingly brokered weapons sale from Crime Minister Harper but that should not be an excuse for us to forsake morality, neutrality as well as common sense and sensibility in the name of the almighty dollar. The LAVs in question are still under development so none have yet been shipped. i strongly urge you to uphold Canadian human rights policy, practice and law and deny export permits for arms sales to the misogynist, oppressive oligarchy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  If you do go ahead with this mephistophelian matter you can add Human Rights abuser to your CV when you’re looking for your next job.


rob clément

110284_11897_fullToday i got an email from Super Shuttle asking me to fill out their survey. As i’m sitting at LHR, on an extended layover, i had the time and was more than willing to fill out the form. When i had filled out the form and clicked on submit i got this message:

The page isn’t working didn’t send any data.


So i decided to post the survey and my responses to my blog, for the sake of getting my message across to Super Shuttle, and some of their staff.


SuperShuttle Shared Ride Survey

  1. My SuperShuttle driver operated the vehicle safely.
  • Strongly agree *
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. My driver was helpful and friendly.
  • Strongly agree *
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. The van was clean and in good working order.
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree *
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. I was satisfied with the service SuperShuttle provided.
  • Highly Satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied *
  • Highly Dissatisfied
  1. I would recommend SuperShuttle to a friend or colleague.
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree *
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Anything else you’d like to tell us? (optional)

Yeah the pick-up and drop off points were NOT the same. But i think that was because of the opening day for the Orioles. The Convention Center staff did not know where super shuttle picked up guests. (there are three different possible places.) i had to leave TESOL’s annual business meeting early as i was worried i would be left behind. i could have used the time to remain at the meeting but instead i used the time while waiting for the delayed Super Shuttle to literally take myself and my luggage around the 3 possible places where i could possibly have been picked up.

i think you picked me up WAY too early, but i understand your desire to deal with the possibilities of peak hour traffic. Francis, my driver, was stuck in the particularly messed up traffic downtown brought about by the Tampa Bay/Orioles game due to start at 7 pm. it was almost as bad as when i was dropped off on Monday evening. When you send your text telling me where i’m to be picked up you should send the actual physical address name i.e which one of the three BCC pickup locations. sending me directions to a map that i can’t open as i don’t have an internet enabled smartphone that functions in the USA is of no use.

The seat-belt, which if i am correct, i am legally obliged to wear, should not be twisted so that i have to twist it to get it to buckle up. i spent quite a bit of time getting the buckle on to the correct side of the belt.

Francis is great, courteous, helpful and very safe behind the wheel.  You have a friendly yet respectful driver there.

and that’s all i have to say about that.



Who’s Gonna Stand Up

Protect the wild,
Tomorrow’s child.
Protect the land
From the greed of Man.

Take out the dams,
Stand up to Oil.
Protect the plants
And renew the soil

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

End fossil fuel.
Draw the line,
Before we build
One more pipeline.

End fracking now.
Let’s save the water
And build a life
For our sons and daughters.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

Damn the dams.
Save the rivers.
Starve the takers
And feed the givers.

Let’s build the Green
And save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
Who’s gonna say that She’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the Big Machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth?
This all starts with you and me.

© Neil Young 2014

The acoustic version of the song has a slightly different last verse:

Let’s build the Green.
Let’s save the world.
We’re the people
Known as Earth.

A live version with Crazy Horse has the 5th and 6th verses substituted for the 3rd and 4th verses and has a additional extended vamp at the end:

Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up?
Who’s gonna stand up? (and save the Earth?)
You got to!

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“.


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?”

 “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…”

 “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?”

 “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?”


Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

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

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

 “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.”

 “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?”


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

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

 “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?”

 “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.”

 “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.”

 “Now you’re being facetious.”

 “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)…”

 “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?”

 “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:



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, pain 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.