There is a French word barres (a noun) that means a block or cover. It’s used by gardeners and builders to describe something one puts under gravel or over weeds to stop one’s rockeries and pathways becoming pristine one week and a jungle the next. Down here in SW France, they pronounce it ‘barsh’, but that could simply be the Spanish-influenced pronunciation we have in Lot et Garonne.

Let me offer a simple piece of advice: don’t bother laying a barres when it’s even a bit windy. And give up on it if ‘bit of’ turns into ‘quite a bit of’.

They’re very big, are barreses. Even just opening the things is an exercise that should be undertaken indoors. Always assuming, of course, you have a ballroom where the salle séjour should be. The barres reminds me every time I use one why I’m not a sailor: the idea of chasing things in four directions at once while trying to wrestle them into some kind of useful configuration is a classic real-life example of the Zen Buddhist concept of lassoing ether. It is a hobby fit only for tertiary masochists.

When I started laying a barres this afternoon over the ground soon to become Donald the Motor Home’s parking place, all was calm. But then the odd little gust zapped into the equation, and after twenty minutes I was that man in pursuit of a wannabe Mongolfier balloon. Twenty large stones and a world record 100 metres later, he was more or less back under control. I, meanwhile, was shaking my fist at the Heavens and doing an impression of ‘Basil Fawlty The Obscene Out-take’.


Herewith an opening extract from Adrianna Huffington’s article entitled ‘How Neuroscience Can Unlock Sleep’s Mysteries’.

AH: What have you found in your research on the “neurocircuit basis” that supports sleep?

POINTY HEAD: In specific reference to our recent work on the brainstem slow-wave-sleep promoter “center,” we showed that this region of the brain is first connected (synaptically) to an important wake-promoting region of the brainstem that in turn is connected with important wake-promoting circuitry of the forebrain, which itself connects to the cerebral cortex. Essentially, we provided a circuit “wiring diagram” by which activation of brainstem sleep-promoting neurons might produce “whole brain” sleep. The reason I emphasize the word “neurocircuit” in our work is because I believe that in order to understand how the brain accomplishes virtually anything, one must first understand the functional cellular and synaptic “scaffolding” from which brain phenomena emerge.

I think the first thing to unlock is what TF Pointyhead is on about.

I am not a big Adrianna fan. She is a greedy self-perpetuating and censorious neoliberal masquerading as a liberal. She trousered $50m on selling Huffpost, and never gave a penny to all the interns she exploited while building up her news site. For me, she epitomises the double standards of the Greek oligarchy to perfection.


Seen on Twitter today:

Good Friday, Jesus reaches out arms of love, nailed and crucified, to embrace and transform into holy love every person who receives Him.

I realise this is irreverent of me, but then I think Christian bollocks should receive exactly the same treatment as Islamic bollocks. As men and women are roughly equal in terms of numbers, there can’t be 77 virgins waiting in Heaven for every male Muslim. The more converts the Jihadists achieve, in fact, the more impossible the idea becomes. And yes, I know one can’t have degrees of impossible, but you can with religion. That’s why I don’t believe in any of it.

In the same vein, if Jesus is nailed to the cross, he can’t reach out and do the transforming thing, can he? Unless he performs miracles, and I don’t believe they exist. I mean, they’ve only nailed him to a cross, right? He is an ex Messiah. He did not rise again: someone rolled away the stone, and nicked his body.

But all that said, one of our biggest problems today is we have no replacement for the Christian ethic, the Buddhist pacifism tradition, or indeed all the good parts of organised religions that were perverted by everyone from the Romans and Cardinal Mazarin via Jihadists to Netanyahu and Lloyd Blankfein.

We lack a compelling reason to be good. Don’t be surprised if – over the next decade – another Elmer Gantry snake-oil salesman arrives to sell you his or her version of a special kind of goodness. In the US now, for instance, you need look no further than fundamentalist hispanic Ted Cruz.


The most common feedback I get from Greece at the minute – be it Athens, the Mani, Thessalonika, Poros, Cyprisa, Keffalonia or Kalamata – is “I just wish FFS they’d get on with it”. I feel the same way about the death of the Euro: but the Euro was saved…and the price was thousands of lives in, and the entire economy of, Greece. Without the harsh treatment of 10.5m innocent people who didn’t borrow anything, the euro would already have collapsed. Most thinking people get this at last: even Android Evans-Elpus at the Telegraph has finally come out of the closet on it.

If you read the Treaty of Rome, those who drew it up and presented it to the world in March 1957 wrote this in the preamblatory Affirmations, No 3:

‘AFFIRMING as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvement of the
living and working conditions of their peoples’
The Treaty of Lisbon half a century later decided to move this even further up the Hit Parade to No 2, under these three codicils:
‘1.   The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.

2.   The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.

3.   The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.’

Specifically poking its head above this mountain of ordure is this all-time example of devious doublethink:

‘The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation’
and also….
‘It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection’.
Ah yes: that’ll be why The Union (1) interfered in the internal affairs of a non-member neighbour (Ukraine) via the auspices of NATO – an organistion with no Constitutional relevance to the EU (2) illegally excluded Greece from QE (itself an unconstituional process) and (3) saved the Athens élite at the expense of the citizenry.
When the Hungarian leader Viktor Orban says “If this is liberal democracy, you can stick it” he isn’t saying he wants to be Putin II – although the US State Department would have you believe that nonsense. He’s being ironic; he’s really saying, “What’s the difference between the USSR Constitution, the reality on the ground, and this vomit-inducing hypocrisy in the Lisbon Treaty?” The question is rhetorical, but brilliantly put: for the answer is “None”.
The British People have an election in just over a month’s time, in which all the major Parties are happy – keen even – to be members of this unaudited, dicatatorial, bank-power driven, multinational perversion of the original European ideal. The one Party opposed to it is supported by well-meaning seekers after justice…but led by a man so blatantly out for those same bankers and unelected donors, I remain aghast at the millions of my fellow Brits who can’t see him coming.
But hey – in 2010, Nick Clegg became the overnight Messiah. It’s 2015, and the new Christ is Nigel Farage. Jesus, give me strength.
If readers still ask why I’m angry (and yes, I have no doubt there are personal issues of mine involved in it too) let me make two defiant comments tonight. First, I am driven by my anger – and proud of it…although obviously I shouldn’t be. And second, if the Greeks are fed up with this Tragedy in 913 parts, I don’t blame them. For I’m fed up to the back teeth and beyond of reassuring the Few that “It’s not just you”, when we should all be working hard to produce an effective and united Resistance among the many.
To be continued. Perhaps.

Earlier at The Slog: The road to Greek default is paved with malign intentions