The Importance Of Being Hairy

There’s a tiny little election going on where I live at the moment. It’s so ludicrously unimportant that I can barely bring myself to think about it. Basically, two guys are running for the leadership of the party which comprises the main part of what passes for our government at the moment.

Establishment media in my country describes the two guys as young, forward looking and dynamic. In the language of actual people, this means they’re a couple of very well off fortysomething conservatives ruthlessly welded to far right economic ideology. To actual people, each of them is as exciting as an evening in listening to Aunt Matilda’s anecdotes about all the medals she’s won for flower arranging.

The party they seek to lead is also deeply conservative with occasional lustful leanings towards the far right. This means that the ever deferential traditional media in my country refers to it as ‘centrist.’ Funny that: nobody who talks about ‘the centre’ ever mentions just how far right that centre has been shifted since the early 1980’s.

Traditional media continues to try and get very excited about the contest between Tweedledee and Tweedlediddle. They seem to feel that it’s important to know whether Tweedledee or Tweedlediddle will be tougher on poor people and the causes of poor people, i.e. the laziness of poor people.

To the rest of us, struggling through that economic recovery Tweedledee and Tweedlediddle – and their Daddy, Grandad Gobshite – keep talking about, it’s all about as relevant as those ancient theological debates about how many angels could really dance on a pinhead. Life seems unlikely to change much, not for the better anyway.

So it’s been very hard to summon up any interest. So much so that I’ve even been unable to indulge in my usual practice of predicting who will win. I have an impressive track record at this type of thing; I’ve been right almost 50% of the time.

But the following conversation with the ‘Most Wise One’ changed my perspective. She has a way of cutting to the chase, so to speak, of seeing past all that nonsense about policy and polls and focus groups and all that other shite the party of Tweedledee and Tweedlediddle waste so much time on.

“So,” she says one evening, “who’s going to win? Tweedledee or Tweedlediddle?”

I pull reflectively at my nostril hair. “Jaysus. I haven’t a clue. Why?”

“I know who’ll win.”

“You do? Who?”

“Tweedledee of course.”

“Why?”

“Tweedlediddle hasn’t any hair. Tweedledee has a full head, simple as that.”

And fry me in ground nut oil if she hadn’t a point. It’s not quite fair to say that Tweedlediddle has no hair, but the poor guy is certainly fighting a losing battle. Tweedledee’s full head has looked suspiciously unchanged for the last six years or so, but at least it’s there, suggesting at least the potential to grow into dreadlocks or a Mohican.

And I started casting around in my head for other countries, other elections. Male pattern baldness is estimated to affect anything between two thirds and 85% of men, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single bald leader in the West. If you want high office, it seems you’ve got to have hair. Look at the lengths Donald Trump is prepared to go to pretend he has some.

As far as I can remember, the last US President who was visibly thinning was George Bush Senior. He won the first Iraq War and presided over final American victory in the Cold War, yet he still lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, whose main achievements up to then involved affairs with nightclub singers and the possession of a full head of hair. Coincidence?

The last true baldy before George was Gerald Ford, who lost in 1976 to the unknown Jimmy Carter. Before him was Lyndon B Johnson, who only became President upon the death of the impressively hirsute JFK. Lyndon didn’t contest the election of 1968, officially because of the Vietnam War, but possibly because he’d heard about the hair thing.

The last real baldy to serve as Prime Minister of the UK was the impressively patrician Alec Douglas Home, and no, he never won an election. Many years later, largely because they knew they hadn’t a chance, the Tories fielded the very young and very bald William Hague against Tony Blair in 2001.

Once they knew there was a real chance of getting back, it was back to a proper hairy with David Cameron. Like Tweedledee, Dave’s hair always looked a bit too good to be true, but there it was, an undeniable, election winning fact.

The last bald President of France was Jacques Chirac, and before him Francois Mitterand, but the special nature of French politics at the time meant they generally had to face off against other baldies. a case of Tweedlebald versus Tweedlebalder. More recently, the almost bald Francois Hollande has gone down as the least popular French President of all time, while Macron is likely to keep a full head of hair, at least until he passes puberty.

In Germany, merry old Helmut Kohl managed to rock on for quite a long time as a balding, impressively overweight Chancellor, but his successor, Gerhard Schroder, found it necessary to maintain a weirdly coloured and suspiciously shaped pate which in many ways foreshadowed the coming of Trump.

Politicians have felt the need to make light of the hair thing. Ronald Reagan was once challenged by a woman about the colour of his hair, which remained dark well into his 70’s. “No Ma’am,” he replied, “it was that colour when I bought it.”

They might joke about it, but they won’t be seen naked in public without it.

It makes you wonder about Bible stories, and whether – as the likes of William Blake and evangelists have claimed – the good book actually contains real, honest to goodness prophecy.

Consider the story of Samson. The superhero reveals to Delilah that the secret of his incredible strength is all in his hair. She contrives to cut off his tresses while he sleeps, Samson loses all his strength, and is easily captured by his enemies. The moral has apparently not been lost on politicians, or at least not on voters: “who does that bald man think he is? Trying to tell me stuff.”

It often seems that our politics are divorced from reality, but maybe they’re just following a code written millennia ago in the Bible.

 

 

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The Unbearable Lightness of French Cinema

Recent mention of the new President of France and the exotic genesis of his relationship with Mme. Macron set me to thinking what a perfect subject it would make for a bit of French cinema. Is some noted auteur at work as we speak? It would seem like a crime if he or she wasn’t.

It’s not quite as culturally dominant as it used to be, but for a long time, a person’s consumption (or lack thereof) of French cinema was seen as a pretty precise measurement of their level of cultural sophistication. If you’d seen all seven (is it seven now?) ‘Rocky’ movies but never dipped your toes into the subtle, sensual waters of a ‘Manon des Sources’ or the ‘Secret Life of the Bourgeoisie,’ then it was a safe bet that you were unlikely to enjoy one of those select soirees where smoked salmon socialists gathered to eat quiche, admire each other’s ferns and do a bit of partner swapping.

Perhaps you thought a soiree was some form of poncey pastry; perhaps you trod warily around phrases like ‘Cordon Bleu’ or ‘Saucisse Chaud,’ in case they might be code for some form of deviant practice involving hazardous sexual acrobatics.

If you are one of those people, then you’re unlikely to feel you’ve missed anything. The tropes and values of French cinema are very different to those of Hollywood.

A ‘classique’ like ‘The Hairdresser’s Husband’ might have something unique to convey about the experience of surrendering yourself to being shorn by a woman wielding dangerously sharp objects, but other than that, makes very little of what you might accept as sense.

That’s not to say the genre doesn’t have its gems. Once you get beyond the tongue in cheek convolutions of its plot, ‘Diva’ is possibly the most beautiful and eloquent love letter to Paris, to any city, ever written. ‘Un Coeur En Hiver’ is a study of romantic relationships and plain old stubborn human perversity which has a Universe of more interesting things to say than most Hollywood movies on the same subject.

One of my all time favourite sets of movies is the ‘Three Colours’ trilogy, although here is a bit of a grey area, since the director, Krystof Kieslowski, was Polish, although two thirds of the movies were shot in either France or French speaking Switzerland.

The third movie, ‘Three Colours Red,’ plays quite ironically with one of the most persistent tropes of French cinema. If Hollywood loves its guys and gals with guns, French cinema absolutely dotes on tales of late middle aged or even elderly guys gettin’ it on with nubile young females.

In Kieslowski’s film, a young model discovers a deep and mysterious affinity with a retired and embittered judge living in a suburb of Geneva. There are one or two points where you think they might start necking each other, but possibly only because you’ve seen far too much French cinema. To Kieslowski’s eternal credit, it never happens, and the relationship between Irene Jacob’s model and Jean Louis Trintignant’s Judge is consequently one of the most interesting in French cinema.

For every one of these however, there are a thousand of the truly execrable ‘Last Tango in Paris,’ or doozies like ‘Un moment d’egarment,’ later remade by Hollywood into the utterly risible ‘Blame It On Rio,’ and one of the great mysteries of cinema will always be how Michael Caine’s career managed to survive turkeys like this.

In this, as in so many others, a man in late middle age, concerned about his waning libido and inevitable procession towards death, finds himself rejuvenated by a suitably jolie fils, as happily horny as she is slightly unhinged.

The best known example is the impressively raunchy ‘Betty Blue.’ We’re never really told why poor Betty is such a bunny boiler, but at least she gets her dried up older boyfriend writing again. She is the ultimate muse: literally sacrificing her own life to get some guy’s creative juices flowing again.

You’d wonder what les feministes make of all this, although the romantic history of les Macrons would suggest that, in France, they do things very differently indeed.

Inspired by ‘Betty Blue’ and a host of others, I’ve been sort of carrying around an idea for a French movie in the back of my head for a while. Maybe it’ll make my fortune if I find myself ever forced to move there.

Its working title is ‘la vie est un trop etrange kettle du peche et non mistake.’ In its opening scene, a girl is taking part in a tennis tournament. A string on her racquet breaks, she dissolves into tears, then removes a machine gun from her kit bag and starts blasting the crowd. She flees the arena, still in tears.

In the next scene, she’s on a ferry headed across some channel or other, wearing dark glasses and a dark coat while a man on deck wearing nothing but a pink carnation carries a newspaper with a picture of a tennis player and a headline saying ‘Ou est Jackie?’

Later, in a godforsaken corner of rural Ireland, she befriends a lonely garage attendant (observe the clever mixing of two national cinematic styles here. All Irish cinema involves either lonely garage attendants or drug dealing thugs, or lonely garage attendants who also happen to be drug dealing thugs). There follows about forty seven minutes of intricately choreographed love making, following which they share a cigarette and the following pithy dialogue:

She: Life is so confusing. It has no purpose. We are simply machines creating carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. I want to walk the streets wearing nothing but tennis shoes and carrying a dark umbrella.

He: Yeah.

She: Why do you never speak? Your silence troubles me almost as much as the futility of life.

He: Well, when I was growing up, there was this girl who lived next door. Alice her name was. God I really wanted to ask her out. It was difficult because I was only seven at the time, and my mother kept me locked under the stairs until I was 25. When I got out, I discovered that she’d moved away and hadn’t left a forwarding address. I was heartbroken. I tried writing a poem about it, called ‘Alice, Alice, where the f*** is Alice?’ But some guys stole the idea.

If there are any investors out there, I’m available to start making this pretty much immediately.

What If We Are All Just A Hologram?

It’s one of the more exotic theories blown around the cyber ether lately, backed up, so they claim, by some actually credible science. Basically, everything you see around you, including yourself, is fake, a kind of hologram.

It sounds straight out of a bit from Douglas Adams, where man goes on to prove that the law of cause and effect does not exist and promptly gets himself killed at the next pedestrian crossing. The science makes even less sense to me than most things, but it goes something like this:

A team of physicists studied data from the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), believed to be radiation left over from the very start of the Universe, and claimed to find evidence that our entire Universe is a kind of illusion. Basically, they say, we perceive reality in three dimensions, but everything we see and feel in 3-D is actually stuff that has been compressed on to a 2-D surface, like the hologram stored on a credit card.

Everything that happens inside this 2-D surface, including time, is thus an illusion, something that may indeed be a kind of computer simulation.

Bit of a head scratcher, eh? But before we get down to the impossible task of imagining what kind of celestial lunatic might actually want to include everything from black holes to Donald Trump in an utterly lifelike computer simulation, might there not be a kind of upside to all this?

After all, if time doesn’t exist, then neither does old age, decrepitude or sell by dates.

Indeed, the growing number of spectacularly aged billionaires dangling supermodels on their arthritic hips suggests that, far from being the deluded old saddos we thought, these guys may indeed have unlocked a fundamental truth of the Universe.

If people don’t exist, then neither do your loved ones. You never need to worry about forgetting anyone’s birthday ever again. That blithe and bonny soul to whom you pledged your everlasting truth is no more real than that candy wrapper, but then, neither are you. One fake person can no more keep promises to another fake person than he can make them in the first place, so your faithlessness is covered; it’s just as real as anything else.

But think about it, if your loved ones aren’t real, then neither are all those people you hate. The idiot in the office with chronic B.O. who insists on eating complicated sandwiches with loud smacks of his lips isn’t real. He is simply a figment of your non-existent imagination. Your broadband provider isn’t real, and neither is its delusion that you somehow owe it money. Indeed, money itself isn’t real, so I can stop using it to buy the food I think I need.

Cancer isn’t real, so I can smoke non-existent cigarettes to my non-existent heart’s content while drinking my non-existent head off. The tribe of devil worshipping accountants whose ad I’ve just heard on the radio isn’t real either, and that, somehow, makes my non-existent soul feel very good indeed.

Sartre famously said that hell is other people. But the hell we think other people bring us is entirely a figment of our non-existent imaginations.

I’ve got the perfect response for the next time I’m arrested for eating a burger in the town square while wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers. I’m going to put every non-existent defence lawyer in the world out of business.

“None of it is real, Your Honour. You sit before me, a non-existent judge in a non-existent court in a non-existent Universe. You may have the deluded notion that you can impose some kind of sentence on me, but you can’t. The policemen who claim they saw me don’t exist, and we know how naughty policemen are when it comes to making up evidence.

“In this case, their false claim to existence is the most egregious perjury of all. Since you are nothing more than a figment of my non-existent imagination, then I’m going to imagine that you have just acquitted me. And I think I’d fancy some nice damages as well. Cheers.”

I have no idea what all of this says about humanity, but it is clearly something very profound and far reaching. It wasn’t enough to prove that God doesn’t exist. We had to prove that we don’t exist either. What’s next?

 

Jeremy The Snail, or Zambian Politics UK Style

If you go by traditional media at least, things aren’t looking so good for Jeremy Corbyn, left wing leader of the Opposition Labour Party, in the election due to be held in Britain on June 8  next. Corbyn and Labour have been well behind in the opinion polls since long before the election started.

Now, things can often change in the course of a campaign. Favourites start to falter in the white heat of battle and circumstance, just look at Hillary, but nothing like that is ever going to happen if traditional media in the UK has anything to do with it.

To a man and woman, with the exception of The Mirror and The Guardian, all national British newspapers are staunchly, rabidly, frothing at the mouthingly pro-Tory. This has been an accepted fact for decades, so accepted that said newspapers don’t even bother pretending any more, apart from a brief flirtation with Tony Blair at a time when Labour were basically Tory-lite.

Indeed, this lack of pretence might be said to be a good thing, no more false promises of objectivity, and the power of print media, let’s face it, wanes a little more every single day.

But the extent to which the British media has been colluding since day one in a concerted effort to stitch up the snap election called by UK Prime Minister Teresa May for the Tories must surely give pause to some of those who still entertain the notion that they live in a democracy.

Even the venerable, supposedly truth telling BBC has been swept up in the tsunami of Corbyn ridicule. Can it possibly have been an accident that BBC Radio 4’s main morning news programme – broadcast just after the launch of Labour’s official election manifesto – also featured extensive references to a story about “a snail called Jeremy,” with frequent updates such as “it appears that Jeremy the snail has bitten his owner. Oh dear, I didn’t know that snails could bite.”

All this was interspersed with another news item quoting a trade union boss and supposed ally of Corbyn as saying that the best Labour could hope from this election was to hold on to around 200 seats, in reality a catastrophic defeat. There’s nothing more likely to persuade potential supporters of a candidate not to come out than constant references to his lack of a winning chance.

Shortly after this election was called, I remember thinking it might not be the slam dunk everyone in the pro-Tory media was frantically predicting. Whatever people might feel about Corbyn as a candidate, he is one of the few putative leaders in Western Europe who actually stands for a different way of doing things. I thought that the more Corbyn got to talk about the kind of society he wanted, the more the result might cease to resemble the hoped for stitch up.

But I couldn’t predict how even the pretence of balance would be abandoned by ‘respectable’ organisations like the BBC.

It all reminds me of a story I heard years ago about the one time veteran President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda. The bould Kenneth was running for, God knows, an eleventh term or something, but this wasn’t one of those one party charades.

Oh no, there were genuine opposition parties who had nothing to do with the President and were genuinely trying to win the office from him.

The only problem was this, a lot of people – particularly in rural Zambia – weren’t able to read, so the Government came up with a clever visual code to help them make the right choice. The box where you could cast your vote for Kenneth was emblazoned with a soaring eagle, the symbol of the nation, while the boxes where you could vote for the opposition were decorated with pictures of rats, snails, snakes and the like.

Sound familiar? Of course the UK is so much more sophisticated than those people down in Zambia, isn’t it?

Lost Religions: Forgotten Winds From The East

Watching ‘The Lives of Others’ brought to mind a visit I managed to make to the former East Germany last year. The visit involved one of those odd little loops of coincidence life seems to have such a panting fondness for, but then, maybe it’s just that I’ve started to meet myself on the way back, as it were.

I had been in Berlin as a most callow youth just a couple of weeks before the Wall came down. I was back as the official nation geared up for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of that event and the consequent extinction of the GDR, the former East Germany, call it what you will.

At a radio station in the beautiful city of Halle (a neglected pearl of Germania, believe me), I had a conversation with a man who had lived over half his life in the GDR. He presents a show on Halle’s Radio Corax called ‘News From A Damaged World.’ He wasn’t overly enamoured of the present set up, but then, not too many of the Germans I met in Halle were.

Most seem to have accepted what they all refer to as “the change” with a certain degree of fatalism. Now that all the slogans about freedom have mouldered away, people have had time to realize that no political story is as ever as simple as politicians (and indeed most of the media) would like us to believe.

Goetz (I do hope I’m spelling his name correctly) described life in the final years of the GDR, roughly the same era in which ‘The Lives of Others’ is set. His view was that the entire country had become suffused – not with a righteous clamour for freedom – but with a kind of all embracing boredom, a sort of ennui that seeped into every pore of life.

People just couldn’t be arsed. They had long ago stopped believing in things, and even the inertia of post-belief had begun to sputter and give out. You don’t have to love or believe in a regime in order to be an active participant in its version of reality. You might even hate it, but the act of hatred makes you a participant.

What matters is that it matters to you, but if it stops mattering, if those great grey structures you were taught to fear as  a child suddenly seem made of paper, then that might go a long way towards explaining the spontaneous collapse of a country to which, in theory at least, 17 Million people had given their allegiance.

Listening to Goetz, I couldn’t help being reminded of the 1980’s in Ireland, of how I and people like me were being disgorged from a school system which didn’t seem to believe in anything into a future which seemed weirdly devoid of possibility.

Catholic Ireland was sputtering to a conclusion. It would take Ireland’s Cultural Cosa Nostra another 25 years to notice, of course – they’re not exactly the quickest – but a crucial energy in people’s souls, the willingness to take it all somehow seriously, had bled away in the night.

Everything, from the monotonous drone of priests into bad microphones (I will never understand why, when they got rid of the Latin Mass, the Irish Church never trained its priests how to speak, how to hold an audience. Were they too afraid of what they might say?) to the slack jawed cant of politicians, began to seem like some form of arcane dance, a bubble warping away from the reality of peoples’ lives at lightspeed.

Belief in anything has, believe it or not, never counted for much in Ireland, but even the illusion of belief had begun to melt. There was nothing to replace it, no civic code – however vague – such as had been left behind by Christian Churches in England or Germany for example.

Like anything else, the story of the GDR and why it foundered is a great deal more complex than we are led to believe. Only on my visit to Halle did I discover that it actually had a great deal to do with oil.

Apparently, during the oil crisis of the mid-1970’s, the Soviet Union discovered that the East Germans had been acquiring extra oil by doing deals on the side with other countries. The extra oil helped fuel an economy that (here’s another thing you won’t be told today) was actually pretty dynamic.

The Russians decided to respond by starving the East Germans of oil, because you couldn’t have those pesky Germans stealing a march on the rest of Socialism. The consequences seem to have been fairly terminal. An export driven economy needs lots of energy. Without it, things began to stagnate.

How do I know this? As part of the same trip, I visited a museum in a place called Halle Neustadt. Halle Neustadt itself is a fascinating notion, a kind of mad experiment in social engineering.

Basically, the communist regime built an entire new city from scratch to one side of the ancient city of Halle. The idea was to provide housing and other fully integrated facilities for workers at a nearby chemical complex.

Many of the buildings, including a weird structure of narrow apartment blocks known as ‘The Slices,’ are now derelict. Some, including what is thought to be the longest apartment building in the world, still function as home to thousands.

Anyway, inside the Halle Neustadt museum is a room dedicated to artefacts produced inside the old GDR. Walking around it produced possibly the very last sensation I could have expected. Like the astronaut at the end of ‘2001,’ I had stumbled into something that defied all my senses by seeming absolutely familiar.

I recognized almost everything: kettles, a popular kind of portable typewriter, lamps, irons, even a type of phone. I had walked casually through a wormhole into my own past. All these goods had been present in the Ireland of the 1970’s, of my early childhood.

I’ve since realized that ‘Auf Deutsch Bitte,’ a kind of teach yourself German manual purchased by my parents (don’t ask) was actually produced in East Germany. It even had a picture of ‘Der Slices’ in it.

Our Government didn’t tell people at the time, but Ireland obviously imported a great deal of stuff from the GDR in the 1970’s, and if we did, it’s likely others did as well. The creases of Commie irons may well have been all over your clothes.

Scarcity of oil probably affected the ability of the GDR to continue producing exports, and it’s highly likely that the EU – the greatest protectionist racket ever devised – had something to do with it as well.

Funny how stuff is never, ever as simple as we think.

Secret Space Planes And Radio Plays

Ok, so why does this post contain a picture of the US Military’s ultra secret spy spaceship, so ultra secret that we don’t even know if it spies or not? Well, it’s partly a piece of self-indulgence I suppose. I hope it amounts to a piece of serendipity.

Also, though of course this isn’t the main point of the piece, I can’t help ruminating yet again about what exactly constitutes ‘fake news’ these days. After all, if the X-37B is so damn secret, then how come we know about it? How come we even know its name?

But I digress. This is supposed to be about blowing my own tiny electronic trumpet. Just the other weekend, a small and very talented group of people – with myself in tow – put the final touches to recording my new radio play, entitled ‘A Pilot’s Honour.’

The drama will be edited before being broadcast on Ireland’s Newstalk station. It should be possible to listen to it from just about anywhere in the world, but we’ll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, let’s confine ourselves to noting that we enjoyed a hard working but very successful weekend, and that the combination of glorious sunshine and Galway is enough to lift the most haggard spirit. My unlimited thanks go, as always, to my brilliant and unflappable producer, Alan Meaney, and to an incredible acting team of Martina Dolan, Joe Steiner, Martin Kelleher and Ronan Flynn.

‘A Pilot’s Honour’ is a sort of love story very loosely adapted from a subplot in my novel ‘Ghost In The Sky,’ which I published on Amazon a couple of years ago, coincidentally around the same time the X-37B went into orbit.

‘Ghost In The Sky’ tells the story of a top secret aircraft which uses lighter than air technology in a way so bizarre it can actually hover outside your house by night without you knowing anything about it. You can find out more about it here:

Ghost In The Sky Kindle Edition

 

All Hail Monsieur Le Presidente Gump

“Madames et Monsieurs, je vous presente le Presidente nouveau de la Republique: ‘Urr, Hallo. Mah name is Monsieur le Presidente. Yew can call me ‘Monsieur le Presidente.'”

It’s official: the new President of one of the eight most powerful countries in the world is someone no one had ever heard of until a few months ago. Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the weekend’s election is predictably being hailed as a triumph for the entrenched EU establishment by an ever more pliant and distorted mainstream media, but is it not really more a sign of how desperate things have become?

To stop Marine Le Pen, the giant creaking edifice of the west’s political establishment – and that includes media, showbiz, Barack Obama and all the other ephemeral nonsense – threw its full weight behind somebody nobody anywhere really knows anything about.

Macron was the Forrest Gump candidate, the dystopian prediction of the 1979 movie ‘Being There’ made flesh. In Peter Sellers’ finest hour, an illiterate gardener named ‘Chance’ accidentally gains the favour of a dying billionaire and his lonely wife, and simply by dint of failing to offend anyone, is set on course to become the President of America.

Sometimes, somebody somewhere gets very, very lucky. They win the lottery. People do, you know. Sometimes you can be 39 and look barely 25. And you can be in the public eye for such a short time that no one gets around to wondering how young you looked when, as a 15 year old boy, you caught the eye of your 39 year old drama teacher, who later became your wife.

The first good news they’ve had in years, Macron’s victory will be trumpeted by the Brussels oligarchy as an excuse to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing for the last two decades. Who needs more democracy, they will crow. We just asked the people and look what they said, they agree with us completely.

No matter that EU policy up to now has consisted of walking gingerly around every giant turd on the electoral road – from Spain to Italy to Britain – not even holding their noses because that would imply some acknowledgement that the turd is actually there.

It would be perilously shortsighted to press ahead with economic policies which continue to allow the industrialists and financiers of Germany to wear the people of Europe like a crash helmet, but going on their form up to now, that’s exactly what the Eurocrats will do.

Backtrack a bit, and you realize this is nowhere near the turning point a ludicrously biased media will claim. Marine Le Pen is a figure whose political career has been mired in controversy almost from the moment of her birth. The only figure more divisive than her in a country which – believe it or not – is allergic to extremes, was her dear old Dad.

Not so long ago, the ability of the Fronte Nationale to attract 10% of the vote in a French election was regarded as an utter disaster. This time, they managed to persuade 11 million Frenchmen and women to back them (and a staggering 4 Million others went to the trouble of going to the polls solely in order to spoil their votes). This is anything but a triumph for moderation. It is a dire warning. The tragedy is that the greedy fools who run ‘L’Europe’ will fail to heed it.

In electoral terms, the establishment needed to come up with a figure capable of defeating someone normally as electable as Hitler’s poodle, and they almost didn’t make it. One after another, so called political titans like Hollande, Sarkozy, Manuel Valls and Francois Fillon simply disintegrated.

Think about it: the establishment came to the conclusion that any one of these men would have lost the election to Le Pen. Think about how insane such a calculation would have seemed only three years ago, then think about the times we are in, the times that everyone except the Eurocracy and their godawful media lapdogs knows have changed utterly.

Faced with disaster, it was time to go with the nuclear option: Le Presidente Gump, President Chance. Go for the guy who hasn’t been around long enough for anyone to form a real opinion about. Sure they’ll have plenty of time to start hating him when he’s President, and you never know, maybe we’ll have thought of something different by then.

While very little is known about France’s new President, there are already a couple of details which might cause a small arching of the occasional eyebrow.

His wife is 24 years his senior, and they first caught each other’s eye when she was his drama teacher, and he was the ripe old age of 15. Macron’s parents are said to have moved him to Paris from his home town of Amiens in order to end the relationship, but the couple defied predictions by staying together and eventually marrying in 2007.

Macron has a stepson who is two years his senior. Weird? Well, I know they do things differently in France, but isn’t there something about M. and Mme. Macron’s romantic history which sits uneasily beside the torrid maelstrom that is sexual politics today?

You can’t click on an Internet news site these days without finding a pic of some comely young female teacher who’s just been dismissed and arrested for having sex with a male pupil. The Feminazis will tell you that this is true love, that you’re a rabid misogynistic bastard and that anyway, times were different then.

The fact that the latter is the exact argument used to play down the abuse of women and children in the past will naturally trouble them not a whit.

But the question remains: what if M. Macron had been 39 and Mme. Macron a mere 15 when they met? Would he have stood a snowball’s chance of being elected? Actually, you’d most likely have never heard of him, because he would have been in prison since the mid-1990’s. As things stand, it’s hard to imagine Macron getting to be, say, PM of Britain or President of the US without some pretty awkward questions being asked.

The best man at Macron’s wedding in 2007 was an elderly businessman who had loaned him €550,000 to buy his first apartment in Paris, coincidentally while Macron held a position known as ‘Inspector of Finances,’ so nothing even slightly dodgy there. The new hero of the masses previously served on President Hollande’s Elysee staff and also had a highly paid position as an investment banker with Rothschild & co. Mon Dieu, he’s basically Joan of Arc meets Trotsky.

It’s also proven helpfully difficult to pin down anything he actually believes in, other than, obviously, that ‘racisme’ is bad and the EU, though possibly misguided, is good. He has been described as a ‘Centrist,’ a term often translated by cynics to read: “I will do and say absolutely f***ing anything to get into power, so long, of course, as it offends the least possible amount of people.”

Elsewhere, it has been said that he identifies with the ‘Third Way’ policies espoused by the likes of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Sounds harmless enough, if only it hadn’t been proven years ago that ‘Third Way’ is basically code for Thatcherism and cannibalistic neoliberalism with a smiley face sticker on it. The workers and peasants must be necking each other with abandon. No wonder Obama is such a fan.

Personally, I think it’d be great fun if Macron turned out to be a cannibal or a devil worshipping zombie, but there’s one thing I’m pretty sure he isn’t, and that’s a Socialist.

In the meantime however, all hail Monsieur le President. He’s bought the EU another few months or years (depending on how they screw it up), and that’s all he’s really there for, you know.

Hot Air And Climate Change

I wonder how they calculated all the multiple carbon footprints of the recent Paris Climate Change Conference? How did they offset the air miles generated by delegates travelling from the farthest corners of human habitation? Imagine, for example, how much carbon must have been generated in transporting delegates from all those island countries which are set to disappear because of global warming.

Then there’s the question of all those multi-course dinners the delegates will have enjoyed in Paris. The fare might have grown slightly less exotic once world leaders had departed the city but, in my experience, senior civil servants and NGOs don’t exactly stint themselves these days either. How did they deal with all the methane produced by well fed delegates, not to mention the biblical quantities of carbon dioxide emitted in the course of all that worthy sentiment?

Maybe there was a plan before things even started. Maybe the organisers had already put in place an ingenious scheme (or possibly a piece of miracle accounting, which these days is kind of the same thing), whereby the entire impact of the global shindig was somehow registered as carbon neutral.

I hate to sound negative or, God forbid, as if I’m a climate change denier. I have enough problems without being put in the stocks and pelted with carbon neutral eggs. It is simply that climate change is a religion – or at least a form of public piety – in which the great majority of people have lost faith.

It’s not that most people don’t believe climate change is happening. It is hard to ignore the reports of your eyes and skin. I live in a country that isn’t in any danger of disappearing under the Indian Ocean, but even here, extreme weather events – flooding, wildly fluctuating temperatures, processions of storms that last for weeks – have become almost expected.

Whether these events are as a result of human behaviour is something most people are probably a bit agnostic about. Probably, if you press someone who isn’t paid by an NGO or environmentally rapist corporation, they will speculate that climate change could be due to a number of factors, only one of which is human behaviour.

We are told repeatedly that ‘all of the science’ says global warming is happening and is directly as a result of human consumption of various noxious materials. Again, like nearly all of us, I’m not qualified to contradict even 1% of the science, but it’s important to point out what exactly we mean when we say ‘the science.’

Giant global assumptions about what is likely to happen in a system as complex and fantastically diverse as the climate of Planet Earth are only possible because of computer modelling. Basically, giant masses of raw data from all over the globe (from weather stations, field studies, pollution monitoring in cities etc.) are fed into computers which then model the statistics and generate predictions.

When the good and mighty tell us to have faith in ‘the science,’ they are actually telling us to have faith in computer modelling. Now, the great majority of us unthinkingly hand over our lives to computers every day. It’s always been much easier to simply press a button.

None of us, however, and scientists – whether they know or admit it or not – are no different, ultimately know just how reliable computer modelling is. Today’s computers are radically different from the computers which ran large parts of our lives ten years ago, the computers of ten years time will be different again. And climate is arguably the most difficult, the most complex and contradictory thing computers have ever been asked to model.

Currently, a great deal of social and health policy in western countries and elsewhere is based on statistical data which has at least partly been generated and interpreted by computers. There are a great many instances where the policies generated by these processes have turned out to be fantastically wrong.

Human beings are notoriously difficult to predict, it is incredibly easy to miss some obscure yet critical causal factor. Yet no one ever argues that the models need to be changed, that we need to supplement the analyses of computers with some kind of revised human paradigm. It’s always been much easier to let a button do the thinking for you.

But this isn’t the real reason why most of what has come out of Paris is likely to fail, and that our chances of averting the various predicted global catastrophes with actions taken in this decade are virtually zero.

The real reason is this: fairness. Your average consumer (civil servants prefer nowadays to label people as ‘consumers’ rather than ‘citizens,’ which in itself is interesting) may have always quailed at his tiny inability to do anything in the face of a global phenomenon – such as famine in Ethiopia or the plight of whales – but he was prepared to buy into it, to do his insignificant little bit: he isn’t anymore.

It used to be possible to sell global warming on the basis that ‘we are all in this together.’ It is not possible to rationally make this argument anymore.

The last global financial collapse and the consequences which flowed from it gave the lie to any notion that ‘we are in this together.’ When supposedly democratic governments in the west demonstrated their willingness to plunge tens of millions of their citizens into poverty in order to rescue the banks whose criminal behaviour had caused the crisis in the first place, it became very clear to everyone that we were not in it together, we are not in anything together.

Likewise, when the US and Britain turned international law on its head to grab oil resources in Iraq – with consequences that have bedevilled the world, and most recently the citizens of Paris, ever since – it became very clear that we are not in it together.

Before the Paris talks had concluded, your average ‘consumer’ knew that whatever sequence of platitudes emerged was likely to go heavy on him and be more or less ignored by powerful corporations. It really doesn’t matter in terms of global warming whether the ordinary consumer has to sort his refuse into eight separate compartments instead of three and then pay ever more exorbitant fees to private companies for the carrying away of said refuse; but someone is going to attempt to make him do it all.

Likewise, an alleged intention to conserve vital resources such as water has somehow morphed into a process whereby water has been commercialised, and consequent obscene profits are being made by water companies, all in the name of saving the planet?

Even the most challenged consumer sees through the bullshit by now, and that has fatal consequences for whatever Paris thinks it is trying to achieve. Even the most unaware of us has some knowledge that so called clean technologies – whereby humanity’s demands for energy could mostly be met without obvious damage to the planet – already exist.

If such technologies were properly pushed and resourced, then most of the alleged human causes of climate change would be removed, but it turns out that there’s still loads of oil in the ground, and still loads of money to be made by those who never think they have enough.