❍New York. Welcoming, tolerant... but elsewhere
Isn’t it astonishing how America, or more accurately, the United States of America enthrals and scares so many people at the same time?
It enthrals because it has and is everything worldly. Huge cities, stores bigger than some small Irish towns, people larger than life.
It scares because, well, some of those people...
How can it be in a country which produces so much genius, that there are vast swathes where ignorance reigns?
How can so many people believe in guns?
How can so many people hate men other than white men?
How can so many people have so little interest in the world around them?
How come so many people don’t even know there IS a world around them?
How can the country which produces some of the best television and cinema in the world also produce the worst?
How can a country so deeply Christian be so utterly irreligious?
How can a country so welcoming of diversity be so intolerant?
It is that diversity itself, I suppose.
But it is more.
It is the innate selfishness of so many who know so little about so much.
Obama is a Muslim.
(As I write, there's a big lump of a Cuban American being interviewed on Sky News. He says he knows Obama is a Muslim because he wants to take from the rich and give to the poor. Eh, do you think, by any chance that guy's been in the sun too long? Or maybe, not in his Christian church long enough?)
He is a terrorist.
He isn’t even American.
Not to mention Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, John Bolton
What the hell is it all about?
The US is the guardian of the world. Thank God it isn’t. But why do so many millions of Americans believe it is?
World War II?
Well, of course the US helped to win the war. But they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory militarily since, now have they?
Korea, Vietnam, Grenada (even Ireland would have won that one) Iran, Iraq twice, Afghanistan, Colombia, Chile, Central America....
Sometimes, loving America, as I do, isn’t easy. It’s embarrassing, actually.
What’s really sad is this.
When I was a kid, a teen, I hoped Ireland would, one day, be more like America.
The music. Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Lovin’ Spoonful...
The movies. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Thomas Crown Affair..
The buildings. The politicians - before I knew too much about them.
Now Ireland IS more like America.
But the worst of it.
Because it is now, on occasion, largely and certainly as regards the young, greedy, inward looking, trashy and cultureless.
God, I need a visit to New York.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
They say there's a book in everyone.
And I'm sure there is.
The problem is, most of the books that are in everyone are dire. Bookshops are full of dire books. You know the type. The ones that end up being made into television movies.
Dire television movies.
Or worse, dire television series.
There's a book in me. Not about me. That's a pamphlet.
But there's definitely a book in me
And the thing about the book that's in me, is that it's more than likely going to stay there.
Because, for reasons that are difficult to comprehend, publishers seem to prefer publishing dire books.
Now, I'm not saying the book in me is a Booker Prize winner.
I'm not even suggesting for a second that it would make the best sellers' list. And I mean the top 100 not the top 10.
I'm just saying it would be better than some of the stuff that's out there. The dire stuff.
What's really galling is, that the authors of the dire stuff a) make pots of dosh and b) swan around as if they're some kind of gift to literature.
It's luck, at the end of the day, isn't it?
Someone in the agent's office, or some editor in the publisher's office kind of likes something that's sent in. Something dire.
And the wheels are set in motion.
PR takes over, launches are launched, talk shows are talked and before anyone knows where anyone else is, the dire book is being hailed as, well, maybe dire, but successful.
I've read quite a few dire, successful books in my life. Finished one of two of them.
But God, I've seen some dire television movies. Dire plot. Dire dialogue and - they do match these things up well though - dire actors.
Again, though, some dire writer gets paid.
OK. Yes. I got the rejection slips.
And I know most successful authors have drawers full of them. 'Specially the dire ones.
I'm quite prepared to have a room full of them - as a successful author possibly bordering on the dire but not quite there.
I'm just peeved that I don't know the secret of a) getting published and b) being dire enough to get published.
Looks like the book is staying in me for a while.
Monday, October 13, 2008
It's a bit scary. It's very sad.
But it is, unfortunately, a fact.
ALL politics is corrupt.
It has to be.
That's how they get elected.
Now, saying that all politics is corrupt, doesn't mean that all politicians are bad people, are immoral people.
Many of them firmly believe that the things they say and do are justified because they firmly believe they are the best people to do good for the masses.
But it rarely turns out so.
Is there a country on earth, for example, where politicians are paid a sum even vaguely close to the average wage in that country?
Is there a country on earth where politicians aren't chauffeured about the place like royalty?
Is there a country on earth where politicians don't look after themselves in relation to pay, expenses, perks, comfort and the trappings of their offices?
No. Not as far as I can tell.
Politicians promise what they know they can't deliver on the basis that a) everyone does it b )nobody expects delivery and c) sure that's how you get elected.
In power, they make decisions which are a)wrong but popular because it helps the re-election campaign - which begins the minute the last election is over.
In power, they cosy up to business because good business is good for the country. It's also good for forking out vast sums to political parties and brown envelopes to the most unscrupulous of the politicians.
And in power they attempt to do things they are utterly incapable of achieving and utterly unqualified to undertake.
The result is what we have now. Politicians worried about their economies - but as worried if not more worried about their own futures, worried about offending banks, worried about offending business.
Their world is a closed one, one in which nobody is more important than they, where nobody matters more than they.
One in which banks with bosses earning vast, unimaginable (for most) immoral sums are bailed out and the little man pays the price.
Who bails out those who were given loans irresponsibly by greedy banks? Nobody.
Why? Well, for the same reason nobody bails out the autistic, the elderly, the mentally ill, the drug addict, the homeless, the drink.
No votes in it,
So the corruption goes on.
And there's not a blessed thing, bar a revolution which isn't a good idea at all, than anyone can do about it.
Except maybe pray.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The United States is going to the polls.
The Ukraine is facing a snap election.
The world's biggest democracy, India, is voting next year.
Journalists, commentators, pundits and experts of all sorts are excited.
Indeed, the voting public, the electorate will be quite exercised by the votes in those countries and anywhere else on the planet where they get the chance to choose those who lead them.
Only it's a complete farce. A complete and utter waste of time. A sham.
Because regardless of who it is we elect, no matter whether the odious Sarah Palin gets to second biggest job in the world, no matter who rules the vast population of India, it will make not a shred of difference.
We now know, democracy doesn't work, doesn't even exist.
Sure, on paper it looks better than totalitarianism, dictatorships, ancient monarchies and the like.
But in reality, it's no different.
Leaving aside altogether the way 'model" democracies like the US cheat people out of their votes by challenging those with a legitimate right to vote.
Forgetting altogether the 'hanging chads' and the irrational impatience of the US Supreme Court eight years ago.
Dismissing the long queues for voters in poor (Democratic) areas and the lack of such inconvenience in wealthier (Republican) areas, it is quite clear that George W Bush doesn't and didn't rule the United States.
Maybe Dick Cheney does and did. At least, maybe he and his mates do and did.
Because that's what we know now.
Business rules the world.
Money rules the world.
Bankers, hedge fund managers, investors, speculators, weapons dealers, gamblers rule the world.
The greedy, the immoral and amoral and the uncaring rule the world.
The selfish rule the world.
Vote for whom it is you please, they have, it is so apparent, no control whatsoever over world affairs.
World affairs have been run by bankers and investors and will continue to be run by bankers and investors.
Democracy is a side show, a distraction.
Democracy just hides the evil and the greed on which everything is predicated.
A handful of people, be they in the US, Britain, Russia, China, India - even little Ireland - decide what's what and the politicians fall into line even if they don't know that's what they're doing.
It certainly is.
Because if the rich just gave up a tenth of what they have, we would eradicate hunger, much of the disease that ravages the poor world, lack of education and misery.
But they won't because that's why they exist. To accumulate at the expense of others.
And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Except, maybe, pray.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Where did it all go? Who has it? Where are they living? Where is it all stashed?
And how did they get away with it?
I'm talking about the money.
(May I just interrupt my self here for a second? Firstly, I'm still not dead. Just still recovering from a Bone Marrow Transplant and up to now most days, frankly, I hadn't the energy even to blog. But some things make the blood boil. Like this economic collapse. And boiling blood isn't good for those who have had Bone Marrow Transplants.
Secondly, I made a mistake on that blog below, the one that just says no Who Is Disabled? and nothing else. I can't get rid of it. I crash when I try. So I'll get off to the help centre when I'm finished with the economic situation.)
There is no doubt whatsoever that billions, trillions, zillions of euro, dollars, pounds, yen - whatever- were generated in recent decades.
Mostly, it was generated doing good things like building homes for people, providing infrastructure where it was needed and helping to improve those countries whose lot it is to be the poorest on earth.
Sometimes, it was generated by doing bad things, like invading other people's countries, wrecking them and then giving your mates billions of dollars to build them back up again.
And of course, propping up nasty but friendly regimes.
But now, the money appears to be gone. Vanished into thin air. Nobody knows where it is.
The banks are going down for billions, and nobody, in the banks or anywhere else, seems to have the faintest foggiest notion as to what to do next.
So it's governments - people that is - who have to cough up. We in Ireland are guaranteeing banks for €400 bn and climbing. The US has stumped up $700 bn and climbing. Britain has forked out hundreds of millions, Greece the same, The Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg governments have had to dig deep too.
And what's in those deep pockets? Our money, that's what.
But wasn't it our money that was in the banks? Got it in one.
The banks took our money, used it, stuffed the profits in their pockets, went bust and now it's back to our pockets again to bail them out.
I mean, if it wasn't so damned sad, so damned hard for those who will suffer most (see above: those countries whose lot it is to be the poorest on earth) and so damned immoral it would be be funny.
We've been suckered by a few people - and in the context of the world's population it is VERY few people - who have played with our money, our families, our jobs, our countries, and made off with the lot.
And just to make sure, that a few years down the road it can all happen again, we're bailing them out.
Who will go to jail? (Not apocryphal)
Who will be punished? (Not apocryphal)
Who will have their ill-gotten gains removed from them? (Not apocryphal)
You know, we thought our world was run by sometimes inept, sometimes corrupt, sometimes immoral, sometimes greedy, sometimes plain stupid politicians.
But we were wrong.
It is and has been run by always inept, always corrupt, always immoral, always greedy but never, ever plain stupid bankers, hedge fund managers and economic whizz kids who profit from the doom for which they have long been harbingers.
God help us.