Anti-consumerism&Pop culture&Seasonal&Self14 Dec 2005 02:30 pm

Saturnalia by Antoine-François Callet Before December slouches on any further, I feel duty-bound to tell you something.

I don’t enjoy the Christmas/New Year season much. It’d be fair – if somewhat understated – to say that I am looking forward to February.

In the circumstances, please don’t be perturbed if you are unable to detect festive joy in these pages, or if I turn into a royal pain in the booty. Similarly, don’t take it personally if my comments on your blogs lose their bounce and become distinctly lacklustre. I’m not asking for sympathy or suggestions, just patience. My melancholy will pass, as all things do.

Of course, I shall quite understand if you choose not to visit me again until February. The blog may well be a bit of a downer, if you’re in full tinsel-and-baubles mode.

Secondly, as I don’t celebrate the festival as the birth of Jesus, I have decided to revert to calling it Saturnalia from now on.

It probably won’t make me love Overdraftmas any more than I do now, but let’s give it a go.

Tangential Foxy anecdote: Saturnalia is also the name of an ill-fated club night I almost put on in Shoreditch a few winters ago. It all fell apart when a friend – who was waaaaay more experienced as a club promoter – booked his event for another local club on the same night, including all the bands I had naively made only verbal agreements with. Ho ho ho.

(NB: this is not the source of my yuletide misery; I bear no grudge. The friend in question is now plying his wily trade in New York, and I’m most proud.)

Er… I was just about to concoct an excruciatingly laboured joke about myrrh-der on the dancefloor, but let’s leave it there, shall we?

Anti-consumerism&Seasonal12 Dec 2005 12:05 pm

Buy Nothing Christmas - click for link

American politics&Asia Pacific&Global politics&Seasonal&South Asia01 Jan 2005 01:28 pm

$350m from the USA.

$500m from Japan.

Now we’re really getting somewhere!

Seasonal31 Dec 2004 01:03 pm

And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury –
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
-Thomas Hood

Global politics&Seasonal&South Asia29 Dec 2004 01:24 pm

I was planning to resume blogging in the New Year, after a peaceful rant-free holiday. But I’m afraid I just can’t leave the subject of the international aid effort for the south Asian tsunami disaster alone.

Let’s recap for a moment. Today we’re told at least 60,000 people have died and as many people again could die as a result of communicable diseases caused by destruction of sewers, overcrowding, lack of medical care, malaria, dengue fever and so on. Sri Lankan survivors have to contend not only with the loss of their homes but landmines floating out of known mine sites and into unknown areas, exploding randomly just as a displaced family thinks they’ve found shelter.

Parents have lost children. Children have lost parents. Entire families were wiped out in minutes: drowned, dashed against rocks, trapped in crushed buildings or vehicles.

Survivors’ stories speak volumes. Some are almost unbearably poignant. On one BBC messageboard, Darshanie from Sri Lanka wrote:

“I heard someone who said that she lost two (out of four) of her children. She said that she didn’t know which one to pick up because she couldn’t carry them all.”

Words can barely express the devastation this disaster has wrought. It is a humanitarian tragedy on a vast scale.

Which leads me onto my point.

So far, just £41.5m ($80m) of aid money has been pledged by international governments.

That’s right. The equivalent of a handful of loose change to rich Western governments.

The USA made an initial pledge of $15m, which was derided by the UN as contemptuously “stingy”. They then increased it to $35m.

To put this in perspective, remember the USA is spending several hundred billion dollars on their Iraq invasion alone. I’d be interested to learn how much money was given by federal government and international charity fundraising when around 3,000 Americans were killed in a World Trade Center terrorist attack back in 2001. If anyone has figures for this, please do let me know.

Britain is giving £15m in aid. Hilary Benn, secretary of state for international development, deflected calls for more aid to be given by the UK.

To put this sum in perspective, the 2012 Olympic bid is costed at just under £2.4 billion.

Benn, like representatives of other governments, has the gall to imply that the bulk of the vital aid funds – the substantial remainder which is not covered by official international aid – must come from the general public.

And we will do it, because we know what’s at stake. Now is not the time to make a stand. We will give all we can afford, because there’s a huge shortfall. Every missing chunk of aid equates to a human life.

But, yet again, our supposed representatives are letting us down. They are letting humanity down. Our government squanders our hard-earned tax on unsupported wars and pointless ID card technology, while ignoring pleas for help from the poorest and most vulnerable in our country. Pensioners freeze while the rich get richer. New “Labour” has continued this Tory trend. None of this surprises us.

So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us now to see it fling a few coins at a monumental catastrophe and expect the survivors to be grateful it bothered at all. It’d be funny if it weren’t so horrific.

This paltry aid contribution is a disgrace to the Western world.

If you think your government can afford to give a lot more than it has, let your representatives know about it.

Meanwhile, let’s make sure we give some of our own money to help the rescue and rebuilding efforts. Because someone has to.

Seasonal23 Dec 2004 04:24 pm

This isn’t Fox Towers, by the way. I’d never waste all that electricity, for a start.

Ho ho ho.

Have a lovely peaceful Christmas.

Festive hugs to one and all.

love from the urban fox
x x

American politics&British politics&Seasonal23 Dec 2004 03:33 pm

I was going to write a quick post about remembering those who are suffering while we’re eating and drinking twice our own bodyweight and arguing with relatives. But Swiss Toni’s Tonight thank god it’s them post said it all and more, so I will leave the topic in his capable hands.

Instead, have a bit of unusually restrained Mon-sense:
George Monbiot: “The US government is… like a robin attacking its reflection in a window”

and an article about the British Government’s attempt to cover up their deliberate destruction of classified documents, before the Freedom of Information Act kicks in, by burying the issue in the one time of year nobody’s watching (see also: ID cards)…

and a wish that the survivors of today’s horrific north London knife attacks recover fully. Deepest sympathies to the family of the Edmonton man who died.

Anti-consumerism&Seasonal11 Nov 2004 01:49 am

Worried about the impending cost of Christmas? Stressed about all that hellish shopping? Anxious about those January credit card statements? Concerned that those expensive gifts aren’t even wanted or needed by the recipients? Irritated by the way the shops are full of cards, decorations, wrapping paper and artificial snow in October? Getting a sick feeling in your stomach at the idea already?

Worry no more! With Buy Nothing Christmas, you can reclaim the festive season.

Best of all, you can have a bankruptcy-free New Year. Because you’re worth it.

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