As we packed to leave here this afternoon, the telly was on in the background, just like it used to be when we first bought it, well before CNN began telling me about the upcoming weather in Dainang. It was before hourly email updates kept me abreast of tin prices in Chile, and about the same time as I started sending out an email from Media Ink to advertise an hilarious new website called Not Born Yesterday.
There was always something about the good old-fashioned telly’s ability to sit in the back of your mind, and then instantly move to the front by saying things like women’s tennis, Manchester United, or Tony Blair. And today, as I threw plastic sheeting over sofas, the BBCNews Channel said ‘extra-terrestrial life’. You may be wondering why the BBCNews formerly known as 24 was on, but I plead not guilty: I was out in the garden taking the hammocks down when that happened.
Ever since the age of about seven, I have been fascinated by the idea of aliens, other planets and all things Outer Limits. For a while I was intrigued by the idea of Flying Saucers, but then it struck me that over the years the witnesses’ drawings of the saucers went through different phases that mirrored saucer design fashions rather too closely. Also the people who believed that stuff seemed to me as if they might be part of the action, rather than the audience allegedly watching it.
Anyway, it seems that the pointy-headed folks have allegedly found a planet of the right size, shape, density, atmosphere, and difference from its nearest star to be Just Like Us, God help them. I listened to the TV commentary, and had a sudden flashback to 1953: I was in an infant school class being patronised by Miss Gill as she talked about how flowers grew.
“In the sky at night are stars,” began the BBC voice, “and circling round some of these are planets. The stars might seem small from here to you and I, but they’re every bit as hot as our Sun, and often much more so.”
The effect upon me was instantaneous: I began sucking my thumb.
“A planet very close to its sun will be very hot,” the hypnotic voice continued, “and one very far away will be very cold. But one in between will be just right”.
Jan came into the sitting room and asked why I was rocking back and forth. Had she not done so, I might still be there now, in 1953 just after the Coronation – still upset that, at the party to celebrate our Queen’s accession, the ice cream ran out two kids before me. This, you see, is the disadvantage of a surname beginning with W.
The discovery of this new planet capable of producing yet more Milibands is in truth a very important event. But the way it was reported on BBCNews made me realise just what a simple, awestruck, childlike and all-round dumbassed nation we have become.
Although dumbing-down has become a 21st century cliche, being a cliche does not make something inaccurate. If anything, persistent repetition of the cliche results in mild acceptance of the syndrome; and this is a very bad thing. Because commentaries treating us as if we are unsocialised infants are the forerunner of a true Teacher State. Not the Nanny State, but the stage after that when, tired of kindergarten, we have moved on to learning That Which is True.
I don’t know about you, but if in 1953 Miss Gill had told me that acorns were the proof that coffee grows on trees, I’d have believed her – after asking what coffee was. And with a clown like Mark Arm-Chompsome in charge of the BBC, I could easily be persuaded that he’d go along with a government view of Auntie’s future as primarily fostering belief in garden fairies, moons made of cheese, Mother Christmas, and the European Stability Fund.
It was only when we grew up in the 1950s that such things were revealed to be big fat fibs. I use the past tense in this observation, by the way, because a huge minority in the UK never grew up. Nanny got them through pre-school (just) and now Head-Teacher Hattie has hired Ed Miliband to keep them in infancy. And if they get out of line, there is always Balls the Bogey-man to keep them terrified beneath the duvet at night.
But the objective is clear: to make even the biggest, sillliest, manifest lies believable.
Everywhere one looks around the Globe, the one overriding commonality of every sovereign State in this leaky lifeboat we share now is that they’re all lying 24/7 about everything.
Tuesday evening’s revelations about the US Fed’s scam to keep bankrolling Wall St in return for shoring up the Dow is beyond belief. So why would, for example, a secret slush fund from Brussels for Ireland be any less likely?
Why indeed – especially as a bank bailout cost that began as ‘tops’ 30 billion euros inflated overthe following 48 hours into a potential (aka certain) 70 billion.
The casual nature of government, banking and business untruth is rapidly turning contemporary life into one big conspiracy theory. Tipped off by senior US bods earlier this month that Geithner and co were ‘discussing covert QE’, it transpired earlier this week that The Slog merely got the tense wrong: they were already doing it. (I’d assumed the discussions were about a future event…as indeed did the source).
Tuesday night I posted about the obvious manipulation of gold downwards at the start of European trading. Precisely the same thing occurred Wednesday morning at precisely the same time. The Slog has a long history of tracking gold manipulation, most of which was written off as barmy until China mysteriously doubled its stated gold reserves overnight last February.
The Fed has been selling its ‘deep reserves’ in Fort Knox to the Chinese for years, but what the ECB was doing with gold (selling) and euros (buying) on Thursday is nearly beyond comprehension as a criminal waste of taxpayers’ money: it would be nice to think of Jean-Claude Trichet as merely an idiot, but in truth he’s a shit who cares only for his own reputation and his pet project, a eurozone built on the shifting sands of indiscipline.
Thursday morning, Ireland’s Lenihan announced an intention to put 5billion euros of new capital into the money-pit formerly known as Anglo-Irish Bank. He knew it wouln’t help, and he knew that Ireland is exactly where Greece was last April when it had to be bailed out—except that this time, the loans will be more expensive, and the markets a lot more nervous. Yet still the denials and whitewash came thick and fast: it would be 34 billion euros maximum. Then 40 billion. Then 50, perhaps 70. For Heaven’s sake, the gdp of the whole country is only 100 billion.
This is but a cursory summary of the shambles with which The Slog is no doubt by now in danger of boring everyone. But look elsewhere and you saw the same thing this week.
Despite blanket 24/7 Brussels lying about the state of Spanish finances, both Moodys and Fitch – as predicted here and in thousands of other places – downgraded the country’s bonds massively on Wednesday. Spanish workers held their first general strike in eight years, disrupting energy demand and transportation, to protest spending cuts and easing of labor laws. I guess this suggests that Spanish State TV is just as braindead as ours.
Skipping over Portugal (in my view, a nation as innocent as Ireland) we can go beyond the EU to Russia, where the US-based Carlyle Group is wary of investing there.
“Russia has not really diversified out of natural resources, it is basically a natural resource economy,” said Carlyle’s note yesterday, “How many people wake up and say ‘I need to buy this product made in Russia?'” Indeed: how many people in Russia wake up the proud owners of a mortgage (already spent) on a property that doesn’t exist? Perhaps we shall never know – but we will see the effects of that fantasy soon enough.
13,000 miles away in Australia, the mining-dependent government headed by
Mrs Macbeth Julia Gillard told her electorate that she would draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in on Parliament, the economy, Bondai Beach and the market for raw materials; but it’s all bollocks – every word of it. Once China has nobody to sell to (and even less reason to make stuff) mining will plunge into recession.
“Education, education and education” said Tony Blair in 1997 – his top three priorities for Britain. But that educational vision was a cynically myopic one based on cheating. As a result of its success, our leaders can now cheat vast swathes of the population. They can far too easily convince – or in short, con most of the people most of the time at will.
I wonder if Michael Gove – a genuine and well-meaning man – realises the enormous, all-encompassing responsibility that rests on his shoulders today. I hope so. Because the electorate that can think for itself thanks to proper education is the nation that will always question the received truth – and keep wannabe teachers in check.