September 30, 2003

Troubles with internet connection have kept me offline and off colour for what seems like days and I realize that I'm well and truly addicted to my connection. To be barred from the doorway to cyberspace is unbearable torture. I decided to sign up for broadband and imagined it would be a swift and simple transition. Fat chance! "All our operators are busy...Your call is important to us...Please hold... dah dah deedee dah dah bambambam dahdah..." By the 99th repetition of this brain-stupefying mantra I am ready for the asylum and when a human being actually appears on the line and trills:"My name is howmayIhelpyou?" I just let rip. I won't bore you with details but the gist of it is that signing up with Telewest Broadband online and paying your money is by no means the end of it or the beginning of the joy of speed. It may take ten days...or more. Meanwhile, my phone connection went dead etc. etc. Anyway, I'm back for the moment and the Bloggers Parliament Home page is up now so if you're interested, go have a look and take the logo home to your blog.


September 26, 2003 9:25 PM

Blaine asleep in his cageFor reasons best known to himself, the so-called 'illusionist' Could I do that? (delusionist?) David Blaine is suspended above the Thames inside a transparent cage in which he intends to remain for 44 days without food. He has already been thus displayed for 20 days and Londoners don't seem to appreciate his....what do you call it? Self-sacrifice? Masochism? Self-promotion carried to insanity? He's not doing it for charity, for protest, for a crusading cause or, as far as we know, for fun. Apparently, he is very successful back home in America but here....well, so far, things thrown at his see-through prison include: eggs, golf balls, laser pens, fireworks and catapulted pink paint-bombs. He has a security staff to try and maintain order in the rowdy crowd. All this must cost a packet. What can be going through his head as he so theatrically, uselessly and expensively starves?

(Photo: Evening Standard, London 9/26/03. Workman cleans paint thrown at Blaine's box).


September 24, 2003 4:27 AM

Here's my first tentative outline of the BP project. I'm also going to post it to Open Source Politics. If anybody's interested in taking it seriously, why not post this on your own blogs so that a momentum is built up and, who knows, it may actually get somewhere. I would suggest that the ideas be expressed in as few and as clear words as possible, no long-winded analyses or rants or generalisations. Just solutions that are constructive and relevant to a specific problem within the categories. I will make a separate page here to start collecting ideas I come across that really are solutions. I discovered one yesterday by Aron Trauring , his 'Modest Proposal', which would solve the Israel/Palestine conflict, just like that.

Bloggers Parliament Project


September 22, 2003 7:17 PM

Well I've done it, I've uploaded another instalment of the gnovel. Go and see it and comment if you wish. I'm very slow in producing this opus because it's being dragged reluctantly out of not one but two unconsciousnesses, mine and N's. You think that's easy? Here's a small detail from it - putting a face on the onion.

Can everybody see the penguin animation below? I love this mini-drama. Ping, the naive penguin , keeps getting knocked down by that smug bully Pang. But Ping picks himself up out of the icy slush and starts his walk again. And again. And again. He's always defeated and never defeated. Isn't it a sort of parable? And what are those two bystander penguins doing? Nothing at all.

The discussion in the Comments box here and at Open Source Politics about the Bloggers Parliament has spurred me to delve deeper into this theme and I'm preparing a response.


September 20, 2003 12:26 AM

Something strange has been happening with the Comments thingy for Sept.19th and 16th. Thankyou to those who alerted me to this glitch. It's fixed now. Bloggers Parliament is appearing on Open Source Politics right now. And among the great articles there, N.Todd Pritsky has an especially relevant one: Stop Making the Middle East Blind,which ties up nicely with the discussion that was going on at Rob Paterson's a while ago about loving your enemy, Gandhi, etc. I haven't finished with this topic by any means and a strip is brewing in my inner kettle. Now polishing off the next installment of the gnovel - it'll be posted this weekend. I'm in a good mood. So here's a penguin saga for everyone's delight, lifted from the Cartoonist . It's a little movie, wait for it to start. Then see if you can stop watching. Absolutely wonderful. (Update: October 7, 2003. Alas! I've had to remove the penguins.The one who kept being knocked down went crazy and was hopping up and down in one spot. And the bully was left with no purpose in life. I'm not joking, this actually happened. So I had to put them out of their misery.)


September 19, 2003 12:53 AM

I dropped this idea into my non-presidential manifesto a few days ago but did anybody jump up and down with excitment? No. And why not? I'll tell you why not. Because I am not a celebrity. We live in the Age of Celebrity. An idea may be brilliant, good, mediocre, worthless, lousy, repugnant or any degree in between but, in general, it will only be taken seriously if presented by anybody on an A-list. Even the ultra-democratic blogosphere has its A-lists and celebrity cults. You can tell the celebs by the number of comments they get. Some need only write "Good Morning" and up will pop 65 comments. OK maybe not just good morning, maybe: "It looks like a good morning but I see dark clouds on the horizon". This will bring 65 people rushing to the comments box. But only if the words were said by an A-lister. Joe at Bongo Vongo wrote a hilarious account (see his August 20th post) of getting caught up in celebrity-worshipping mode, while working on a film set. But I digress. Getting back to The Idea, here's how it might work:

Bloggers Parliament

A list is drawn up of the major problems facing the world today.
The list is posted on a cyber-bulletin-board.
Bloggers from all over the planet send in their ideas
for resolving the problems - not opinions but genuinely feasible ideas.
The blogging community votes on the ideas submitted.
The best ones are presented to the media and to world leaders.
That's it. Problems solved.


September 16, 2003 11:32 AM

Indulging in the pleasant distraction of checking my stats this morning, I went to the section that shows what organizations have been looking at me and this pretty pie chart came up. There is a lot of hocuspocus mumbojumbo jiggerypokery cloakanddaggery going on out there in cyberspace and it even seems to be getting to little old me now. Can you believe it? The Military (1%) and the US Government (1%) have been here, right here at Blaugustine!! Hey you guys, come on in! Leave me some comments! Do you like me, do you love me? Have you got any suggestions for me? And who's out there from Romania and Hong Kong and the Philippines? Am I really getting famous or are your intentions dishonourable? And what's that big blue chunk of 'Commercial'? Does it represent the merchants of scam, porn and spam who foul my mailbox every day? If so, then GO AWAY, you are not wanted, you are instantly deleted. But the rest of you, if you are real and proper visitors with no ulterior motives or hidden agendas, welcome, pull up a chair and stay a while.


Augustine's stats chart

September 14, 2003 12:03 AM

Over at Blogcritics, a young person named Victoria Pitt announced what she would do if she were President of the U.S. She's much more photogenic than I am but she's inspired me to run for President too - not of the U.S. but of the world. I've done some hard thinking, soul searching and pencil chewing and can now reveal my manifesto in full.


My Manifesto and Inaugural Speech Augustine World Non-President

Dear friends and Bloggers, thank you for electing me. What I am going to say now may shock you but believe me, it's in your interest and mine. Considering that power corrupts, I am going to decline the power that you have entrusted to me and hand it back to you. I am hereby resigning from the office of World President and creating the office of World Non-President. In this role, I will be a benevolent shadow, an Eminence Rose, flinging suggestions at you like rose petals. I will not impose my suggestions but ask you to give them your undivided attention for at least five minutes per day, preferably at breakfast time, so that you can plan your day accordingly. Here is my inaugural list of suggestions:

1. You shall cook your best recipe and invite to dinner at your home at least once every month, somebody who is currently your enemy.

2. You shall become Foreign Ministers, responsible for Foreign Policy, only after you have lived in those foreign places, learned their language, culture and customs, made friends and been invited to break bread with them on a regular basis.

3. You shall ask the advice of your and other people's children on all serious matters.

4. You shall take animals for walks with you whenever you gather to discuss environmental issues.

5. You shall limit the number of words used to discuss or write about any government matter and resort to immediate rational and appropriate action instead. For the meaning of 'rational' and 'appropriate' consult your dictionaries. I will only suggest that action which creates more problems and conflicts than it solves can hardly be defined as either rational or appropriate.

6. You shall form a Bloggers Parliament and come up with better ideas to run the world than any of those currently running round and round the same old vicious circles.

Thank you, I bid you goodnight and wish you good governing. I will let you know when other suggestions occur to me.

Augustine, World Non-President
The Rose House
September 14, 2003

September 13, 2003 12:15 AM

Impossible not to mention the farce that is the Arms Fair being held in London right now. Hear that jolly sound? A fair! Balloons, cotton candy, merry-go-round ? Er, no. It's a market for weapons of mass destruction, small, medium and large. The sellers manufacture them, the buyers use them. Everybody gets what they want.

Except the demonstrators against this obscenity, who are being arrested for being rational. They're saying "Why is this allowed to take place? Why is it OK to buy and sell WMD's when we've just invaded Iraq to prevent them being used? Why aren't you arresting the people who are here to buy and sell this stuff?"

Do the demonstrators get a rational answer? Of course not. They're arrested for "breaching the peace".

The best comment on this subject, and the funniest in a tragic sort of way, was Mark Steel's article "Win a surface-to-air missile in the raffle" in the Independent London, 9/11/03. Here's a brief excerpt:

" Over the last few days the organisers have insisted on using the word "exhibition", rather than fair, as if it's some sort of cultural experience. The idea is to make us believe the weapons are bought as works of art. Indonesian generals will stand in awe before their Scorpion tanks, admiring the curves of the turrets and the impeccable strength of the tyres, and it will never occur to them they could also be used for gunning down a crowd of rebels chucking stones."



9/ 11

2003, 11:55 PM

Just before this date ends - those numbers that have become engraved in the collective consciousness, hieroglyphs of tragedy, loss, fear, anger and revenge - here is a quote from William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience - A Study in Human Nature

"Love your enemies!" Mark you, not simply those who happen not to be your friends, but your enemies, your positive and active enemies.
Either this is a mere Oriental hyperbole, a bit of verbal extravagance, meaning only that we should, as far as we can, abate our animosities, or else it is sincere and literal. Outside of certain cases of intimate individual relation, it seldom has been taken literally.
Yet it makes one ask the question: Can there in general be a level of emotion so unifying, so obliterative of differences betweeen man and man, that even enmity may come to be an irrelevant circumstance and fail to inhibit the friendlier interests aroused?
If positive well-wishing could attain so supreme a degree of excitement, those who were swayed by it might well seem superhuman beings.....there is no saying what the effects might be: they might conceivably transform the world.



September 10, 2003 10:27 PM

Did you see the news on TV tonight? It's bad bad bad everywhere. But there was one moment of joy when a woman's voiceloud and clear, interrupted Rumsfeld's press conference with 'You're fired!' And then the cameras panned high up to the gallery where two young women were standing, one holding a 'Blood on your hands' banner. In the few seconds remaining before being hustled out of the room, this bold crusader had time to remind Rump of some bitter truths about 'victory' in Iraq. I hope this little scene wasn't censored out of your news reports, wherever you are.

September 9, 2003 6:06 PM

'Lovers' etchingIn my new role as N's business partner and promoter, I must urge you to go at once to her Writings section (Poetry) where you will be able to view her sexy FOR A SONG poems and etchings, the delicious artist's book which she produced in an exclusive edition of only 15 luxuriously sensuous copies. And I can reveal to you - at least to those of you who are both art-lovers and solvent - that one, repeat *one*, copy only of this unrepeatable edition is now available and can be yours, all yours, forevermore. This is Art, the real thing, unlike my humble scribblings. OK? Am I overdoing the humility or the boasting? Judge for yourself. I'm off to do some more scribbling.

September 7, 2003 9:49 PM

someplace money doesn't count? N and I have been engaged in some heated late-night conferencing on that boring and painful subject: money. Boring to me, painful to her since, to put it bluntly: there ain't any coming in and it's running out fast.

She said why don't I get off my fat derrière, stop blogging around and start looking after her. I said that this is not why I came into the world: it is her duty to find the means to allow me the total freedom my untamed creative spirit requires. She snorted that if it weren't for her my creative spirit would still be sleeping in that bottom drawer from whence she rescued it.

We went on like this for quite a while then got tired and decided that a mutually supportive relationship would be preferable to constant wrangling and might even produce some of that green (or is it blue?) stuff that makes the world go round, or more often, pear-shaped. Anyway, soon you'll be seeing some FOR SALE signs around here.Concentrate on money

Meanwhile I've got some thanking to do. First of all to Greg, the talented web-designer son of my wonderful 'patron' Heather, for the bright new look he's given to my room over at SoulFood Cafe. Then there's taliesin's log where Nick Barrett has said (twice) that I'm his favourite cartoonist and mentioned my recent session with our Tony Blair. He (Nick, not the PM) continues to intrigue me with his saga of love, sex, politics, bodily malfunctions and local colour in Paris. And the unstoppably inventive Cynthia Korzekwa , back from vacation, isn't feeling too well, so go cheer her up and rummage around the bottomless treasure-chest of her website. Her passion for recycling as an art has elevated even the scorned plastic bottle to Morandi-like heights. Then Horst The Aardvark Speaks Prillinger and The Cartoonist both led me to Annie Mole whose blog is not only fun but essential reading for anyone who travels on or has fantasies about London Underground. As a frequent crawler on that creaking system (my line is the Northern aka 'Misery Line') I know whereof she speaks; we are now mutually linked. And more blog-linkage has taken place between me and several of the fine folks at Open Source Politics - they're here and I'm there. Thank you one and all.

September 5, 2003 8:21 PM

The discussion about power that arose in the comments box below got me thinking about what or who really does exercise power over us. So I decided to turn my ruminations into a sort of quiz. What you do is sit and stare at this chart until you decide how much or how little power each of the categories exerts over you and then you put numbers from 0 -10 next to each. And then you ponder this for however long or short a time you think it merits. That's about it. Oh, and I might have left out some powers so just add any missing ones to your list....Oops! Just realized I forgot to include HEALTH. That's a factor which exerts enormous power over us and we don't have a lot of choice in the matter. Must add it to the chart later.

Augustine's Power-Identifying Quiz
quiz chart 1 quiz chart 2


September 4, 2003 12:14 AM

Have to grit my teeth and get on with the hated chore of taking weight off this page by storing some of it in the Archive. Do I really have to do this? Yes, yes yes. Just do it. Here goes, I'm chopping off everything below August 27th. But it hasn't gone away, it's only in the August 03 Archive.

September 2, 2003 8:08 PM

The Open Source Politics site I mentioned earlier is now up and running and I am committed to sending a cartoon and/or comment to its SocialEyes section at least once a month.

Today I went for a stroll with a friend to Highgate Cemetery, famous resting place of famous bones such as those which used to be Karl Marx.

Why is it that people who want to reform the world usually end up leaving it worse off than it was before? Their world-changing ideas might (or might not) be excellent but if those who have the ideas also get the power to implement them, something always goes drastically wrong. Maybe human beings just can't be trusted to handle power.

We've seen again and again that power corrupts and absolute power corruptsabsolutely, yet we are still persuaded that power is essential if we want to achieve anything or change anything. What if the opposite is true? What if powerlessness is the essential condition for changes that are constructive rather than destructive? You know, the old Zen concept that it's when you stop striving and straining that you suddenly hit the target