At the End of the Day

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

22 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Re Arianna Huffington. Her extraordinary success at being elected President of the Union at Cambridge in 1971, when her grasp of spoken, unaccented English was decidedly poor, elicited a memorable response from her beaten opponent, who could not afford to entertain potential voters, ‘ the face that lunched a thousand shits.’


  2. “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.”

    Except that people who “do good” are, on the whole, happier, more self-satisfied, generally (tho not always) more content, feel less drive to participate in the stressful “rat race” and are usually very nice people to know.

    As any religion becomes organised, creed eventually matters more than morality, the rite outweighs the right. This applies to any human organisation; eventually the form overpowers the function, leaving a shell that can operate for a surprisingly long time. Vis rituals in the UK parliament, some empty of all function for hundreds of years yet still performed with all pomp and ceremony.

    Current empty rituals include creating debt to fund growth ; increasing cultivation to feed increasing population ; valuling quantity over quality (from goods to human life) ; castigating science that requires degrowth while hyping science that accelerates growth ; ignoring externalities

    In other news, small plastic particles have infiltrated the food chain from bottom to top. It’s in fishes scales, German beer, all the oceans and seas, in Arctic sea ice, in blubber, in sea birds. All in less than 50 years. Who can possibly still claim that humans cannot have massive effects on the global environment?


  3. @ Rowan – “Who can possibly still claim that humans cannot have massive effects on the global environment?”

    A rather disingenuous comment as you are obviously aware of the distinction between environment and climate. Few would dispute man’s detrimental effect on the environment, as the evidence is plentiful for all to see; however, the evidence (as presented) of man’s effect via C02 on the climate has yet to be proven. Only this week, experts were warning that methane emissions from meat production were far more harmful than all the C02 produced by all the world’s vehicles combined and it has been long known they compose a far greater proportion of greenhouse gases.


  4. 77 self renewing virgins John, or else you go through your quota fairly quickly. When I worked for Saudi Aramco I once asked one of my Arab female friends what did they get in heaven , she said her children. Not even a credit card for shopping I asked , hopefully she said and with no limit.


  5. @Alexei – perhaps you are referring to this story, covered by The Economist last July:

    The thing is, it’s not just cars that produce CO2 is it? So your argument is just a tad ingenuous – a straw man argument that proves nothing about the effects of an increased CO2 load in the atmosphere.
    The basic physics that shows that CO2 is a greenhouse gas was established in the late 1800s by Arhenius, who was actually researching when the next ice age may start (due to weathering processes decreasing CO2 in the atmosphere).
    No climate science done since then has managed to overturn that basic relationship.
    Over the past 150 years, much research has been done, particularly in understanding natural cycles and how they also affect global climate.
    When you claim that CO2s effect has “yet to be proven” you are lying. You are practicing deceit. You are in Denial.
    Over the many months of our “debate” you have not apparently read any of my sources, tried to update your knowledge, or grasped the basics of climate science. Neither have you provided any relevant sources to support your position.
    Science is not rhetoric.
    The only reason I bother replying to you now is for the benefit of other readers.


  6. Hey Rowan, The last time I looked we were carbon based life forms. Where did animals get the carbon from?….yes plants who ‘eat it’. There has been a 20 year pause in ‘global temperature’ increase, nobody disputes, there is an 8 year pause in artic ice melt, a massive increase in Antarctic ice growth, polar bears are at an all time high population levels, and a massive increase in food production despite a decrease in the amount of arable land.
    The only reason I bother replying to you now is for the benefit of other readers.


  7. This planet had no free oxygen for a billion years or more, and nobody complained. In fact if we get much more free oxygen, we’ll spontaneously combust. It is a good thing that we have CO2, as someone else said -it is plant food and locks up loads of volatile oxygen. Mother Nature will soak up as much CO2 as she wants to. If any man-made climate-change plonker wants to do anything useful, he/she could plant a tree or two.
    And anyone who thinks California’s drought is a man-made surprise, you are all back to front. Had California been bountiful even before Hollywood arrived after WWI, don’t you think it would have had a population of millions?

    If you ever looked at a mountain, a beach, a desert or a forest, you would know that forces much more powerful than homo sapiens mould our little Earth.


  8. Rowan slips in the eugenicist agenda, amongst some sensible statements, to try & give it some credibility.
    Here a class essay from a world class climatologist: debunking the IPCC & Govts pushed false science of CAGW/CC:

    While on this fine site, put “overpopulation” in the search box & get his essay: Overpopulation: The Fallacy behind the Fallacy of Global Warming.

    There are other good essays here.


  9. Rowan still pushing the failed “The man made CO2 did it meme”.
    First off, even world class people like Dr. Roy Spencer who admits that man made CO2 “should” have some effect on temperatures, admits that man made CO2 effects, which can only have contributed since 1950, are “unquantifiable” IE man’s contribution to warming is not proven.

    CO2 is not the driver:

    Easy to read language, & a graph showing all 4 previous interglacial warm periods warmer than now.


  10. An ‘eye opening’ post from you JW re: the hallowed EU. I only hope that we plebs will vote out of it. I do fear that the propaganda for remaining within could convince enough to tick the ‘yes’ box.


  11. Rowan makes the risible claim that Arrhenius established the CO2 science, while omitting to say that Arrhenius eventually suggested that CO2 level increases, due to the burning of fossil fuels could be beneficial, calming weather to make the Earths’ climates more “equable”, & stimulating plant growth, thus providing more food for a larger population.

    Cherry picking through ignorance is just ignorance. Cherry picking deliberately is lying.


  12. John Doran – your reliance on Anthony Watts as a source of scientific information is laughable.
    This is the same Anthony Watts who RELIES on cherry picking and data distortion to try to “prove” his view.
    The same Anthony Watts that took “donations” from his readers so he could attend a climate science conference in order to ask actual climate scientists to explain all the errors he “knows” exist – then said not a word when there.
    The same Anthony Watts who doesn’t understand basic climate physics, who thinks that temperature data SHOULD be adjusted because of UHI effects but SHOULN’T be adjusted because of data manipulation.
    I could go on.
    Get a respected source.
    Oh yeah, you can’t.

    As I already stated, Arhennius was investigating the possibility of when the next ice age may start, due to weathering processes removing CO2 (a greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. In your statement you even agree that his conclusion – that CO2 affects global temperature – is true!
    1) CO2 is only part of “plant food”. If I increase your oxygen intake but leave your calorie intake alone, do you get fatter? No. (and this discussion is now leading to another problem, soil depletion, which I will not get into now).
    2) it is disingenuous to imply that ever increasing CO2 could remain beneficial – at some point the harmful effects outweigh the beneficial ones.
    I’m not cherry picking.
    You are.


  13. Rowan is a troll.

    In our exchanges I referenced one of the world’s top climate scientists, Dr. Roy Spencer, who has his own website:
    An honest man.
    & Steven Goddard,
    who wrote the interesting CO2 not the driver article on
    Tony Heller, who writes under the name of Steven Goddard, specialises in the data manipulations of NASA, NOAA, etc.
    His site has been way more political of late, & is quality.
    & Dr. Tim Ball, & the interesting topics of false science & the myth of overpopulation & Rowans Eugenicist (Nazi) tendency.
    &, of course, the unfortunate fact that Arrhenius postulated that more CO2 might well be beneficial.

    The Rowan Troll ignored all these substantial topics & came back with ad hominem: a personal attack on Anthony Watts .


  14. John: re. your Barres (bache in Potou-Charentes).

    If you have a Ballroom (or barn) sufficiently large, unfold it and roll it into a long tight “sausage”. Position it outside on the ground at the leeward side of the area to be covered. Unroll it a very little and weigh down with large stones/bricks/tiles (or WHY) the exposed edge in many places. Gradually unroll to windward, weighing down as you go. Careful with the last metre as you will not have the roll to keep the wind from getting underneath it.

    I hope that this is helpful for the next time.


  15. Eleaine supkiss, bless her heart,maintains that her father, an astronomer had shown that Ice Ages and interglacials were caused by varying output, of the Sun. And that the sun is a Variable Star


  16. John.
    You are hearing the Occitan word “barratje” which sounds a bit like barrarsh.
    It is not French at all and your locals must be unreconstructed rural Occitans.
    They talk like that along the line from Fijac (Figeac) to Caors (Cahors).


  17. Many thanks for that. Interesting that I should hear Occitane but the Academie Francaise calls it French! Unusual that: the French have done much to try and help ccitne survive and yes, it is very common down here. Three years ago they spent 450,000 euro in Lot et Garonne ensuring every village house and street name also has Occitane equivalent. This the French idea of “cutting spending in order to feel the pain”. (N. Sarkozy, 2011).


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