“Hell will have millions of wills hating each other forever”

Caesar could brook no superior, as would Pompey no equal’

These of the type, imperator, run mad to be at governing people

Whose heads overstock self-regard in a block, here’s no standing room

But the history books harvester suchlike men, the inexorable years consume

 

No egress delivers their hidebound-haught, nor a root humility

And their liberal allowance of a goodly God, is all expedient utility

By investment’s presents, they ape a fondly forgiving magnanimity

Publishing edicts grandiose; they’re the germens of niggard vanity

 

Dominion bids all their will concert, bear down, and so persever

Forcing towards aggrandisements, to beyond even death’s river;

Fell certain their ludicrous revelries present no bar to Lethe

Whilst counting out honeypot moieties prorogued albeit obliquely

 

Such gooks are to whom we trust ourselves, our very beings,

The Hectoring ombudsmen’s statecrafter reparteeings

Buyers and sellers in stockmarkets dealing future country matters

Men who would have themselves philanthropes, and good-batters

 

The costumes appear all altered, the same old brass orations

Pinning tails on the donkeys so to suit destitute situations

Expending elastic reasoning upon extruded attributions

Wills working up saliencies corrupt, care of the form of words

 

Adding in slants, their havocs angle as judicial truth

Sworn statements at heel well-tethered, underwrite anew

Some dummy idle-notion motions; incident to rudder

Using cable-ties, and sisal strings; and epoxy gum palaver

 

All government aims at, fast maintains, the claims to its accession

That a frame up rule may be done by a fool in his frequent fits of passion,

Add a semblance of trait like a conscionable face to his imposture

And the winds’ welfare blows better blustering clothes than’s lacklustre

 

The game is to say, and to stay at all costs, one is winning

Nor losing; the name’s in the title, possession’s most vital, concerning

A sped Union Address on this knacker’s yard shed mediaeval

Look you tough in a suit standing tall, even when you’re weasel

 

Satisfy happy hands rapping hard marching bands in a tunnel

Where the lights have gone phutt, nonetheless all’s about gloss enamel

Lo, and a roar breaks, and a train’s making shakes: This Convention

Is a coda; moreover, the leader’s last texts got a mention

BBC Presents: The News – aka: The Good Old Conservative Club

Norm is a regular voter, wears a knowing boater hat

In the summer on the backs, or playing on lawns with jacks

A figure fifty years or more time-challenged going back

Who swills down Abbott Ale from a hefty fifty gallon sack

 

Don is of higher circles, is patrician altogether

Surrounded, set on full jam shelves, of a regal bonded leather

He likes to think he’s hyper-hip to tip the wink to others

On what’s the trended forecast. Then there’s that Carruthers,

 

A blithering fuss of ill-presumed half-formed intent

Ever emblazoning rampant couchant camp accoutrements

Of a bankrupt-mind Micawber wearing prissy points of view

That as things were he estimates has long been overdue

 

Such creatures are the surplus, upkeep daffodilled roundabouts

Concieve policemen overgrown undergraduate boy scouts

Approve the Raleigh bicycle and an early Evensong

Make all excuse to hear themselves talk blethers all day long

 

Their scions shine, the talking classes, daughters? hardly, nay,

(The Ladies are preternatural talkers nonetheless they say)

Hear you their TV buckshot commentators’ scattergun array

Here the alumni parcelling out the beans-in-sauce they spill

 

Not Heinz, no way; perhaps some fancy high-end food hall brand

Tasting like dockers’ loincloths, labelled Made in Disneyland

That pours out dry and non-revealing cuts of reformed ham,

Frittered and culled in the early mornings from the Tabloids’ charabanc

 

Dressings of mighty-obvious grace a sterling brand new plate

Of filleted cods overcooked, but cold, because arriving late

Bones yet within it, not yet made about with and so picked

‘Just sound-off as if you know your stuff’ – indeed that’s all the trick!

 

Guys they get handsome paid for pushing tour de force boiled scraps

A bubble ‘n squeak of rumour ghosting bogies’ late-sprung traps

New laid and dusted over with a sprig of painted folly

Here are the feeds from prigs who fire up simple people’s worry

 

Everything’s normal, everything is tout suite correct, secure,

Just as so long as who’s in power remains (of course) in power

Be wary though, of others, the foreign sorts, or those inept,

Ot that just plain dangerous thinking sort: thus is the day’s collect

 

Incanted every day to every high church dancing measure

Set to the full variety of received chant as forgathered

Bound-up, and published, imprimis, in service books of text,

One takes ensample illustrations from, they’re graded to perplex

 

A captive Tory audience, wandering desert Promised Lands

Looking for one like Moses, one whose bought assurance stands,

When greatly in consternation at the new perturbance thrummed

Construing its sombre dooms to pledge a bleak November land:-

 

Their indifference confounds together, now and ever; news and views

Their informers, provoking ever, look for the next-up reed to bruise

The Developer: Client Relations 1: Setting Expectations

As like all of us, clients need quite a bit of repetition, if they are to take in and grasp any terms one attempts to set as ‘rules’ upon the hiring of you as developer to make their software and design works.

There is no use in being anything but straightforward and repetitive; nothing complicated by hedges and conditionals; simple statements in simple language; and the same messages regarding terms when spoken to a client as when writing to a client.

Not dictatorial butyet assertive and clear.

These rules ought to be more or less the same set for all your clients. In this they are rather principles of how one oneself goes about ones work and about managing one’s relations with one’s clients. They should be set down in the written Agreement between Parties to the works. They should be offered to the client again in full in the initial progress report you write up for the client; and every now and then, say once a month, the client is reminded of the efficacy of these terms of yours in progess reports.

Such reminders can be vareigated so as not to some like dictatorship, and hinted at but not too vaguely, so that they seep into the relationship gradually and without too much heavy-handedness on your part.

Your terms need to be able to set for the client those expectations a client might reasonably desire, and also they need to set those expectations of behaviour and those protocols which you feel are fair and equitable, but yet they will allow you to work without you getting embroiled and having to manage difficult or crumbling human relations between yourself and the client as you go and ‘on the hoof’.

All the above is an ideal scenario; and of course no set of laid down expectations for clients and for their developers in practice is going to prevent utterly a need for relations to be managed day to day at least somewhat.

Thes expectations need to be formulated, written down and communicated to the client as soon after hiring as is practicable; certainly before any agreement with a client is signed by a developer. Even during negotiations previous to hiring their content ought to be made use of during the negotiation process; so that the cleint has ‘no illusions’ about where a developer satands and how he works.

As a general rule it is always for the best that in negotiations and Agreements, Requirement Documents and Specifcations etc; as much as is possible to be set or settled between parties up front before work on coding/design actually begins. Thus everyone concerned ought to know where they stand and also have in place clear understandings of whatis required of them; when what is reqired is expected; and how the work is in general going to progress.

Rules for behaviour and for settlement of non-deal breaking disagreements, say on how to do a piece of work or what software to use; as well as dealines and billing etc, ought to be laid down and laid out and acknowledged as read and understood by parties.

Behavioural rules will always inevitably be broken in the course of the relationship, but the idea of the writen down and acknowledged agreed protocols is that they act as a guide and a reference point to which a party is able to point and so point up such breaches. An appeal to the ‘spirit of the agrements’ is able to be had by a party with some evidence (the protocols themselves) being available to support such an appeal .

Now all the above so far might seem to you as if it is too longwinded and cumbersome to bother with so as to put in place. Too much time; too much bother; when all that is required and expected is software etc written. For smaller projects maybe there’s a case for saying this with some justice; although for anything above medium sized projects our experience at Anomalist Design LLC has reiterated almost without exception that every client relationship over extended time will require more time and more careful management from parties; this being time and attention which wil eat into development time per se severely and cost you considerably in delays and distractions, in comparison to a situation where you had to put in place up front at the beginnging between parties such mutual safeguards as I am outlining here.

The keys to successful ‘prenuptial-type’ protocols of this kind are:

Comrehensiveness – i.e. any written terms being suficent to cover most or all of the usual sticking points which any experienced developer will know are commonplace arising in the course of working on projects

Clarity of language – i.e. that there in minimum room in writen terms for ‘other interpretations’ or ‘escape hatches’ or else plain fudging becuase of exploitations of vagarires.

Equity of approach – i.e. the terms are fair and balanced; apply whereever appropriate to all parties; demand nothing onerous or drastic excepting in conditions governming extreme situations arising and so are proportional. Where there is room for reasonable doubt on an issue; it is a good because generous policy for the disadvantaged party to allow a benefit of the doubt to the other parties.

Firm answers/courses of action for hypothetical situations foreseen arising – i.e. do not shy away fromcommonplace worst case scenarios – but instead takle th epossibility of the in the shape of rules, protocols, time constraints, recompense, sufficiency of redress/recovery.

Nothing redundant – i.e. be as brief as clarity and comprehensiveness will allow

Setting Agreed and Understood Expectations – i.e. which should be matched with wholehearted commitment to fuflling these when situations arise

Setting Boundaries – i.e. over which parties do not step and were they to step over one of them then set….

Penalties kick in – i.e. and these are concretely expressed and definite in their execution and effects.

Some examples of the kinds of things which are the nitty-gritty, the detail of such key components of up-front Agreements; that is, actual terms and the set expectations etc, themselves will be laid out in another aritcle in this series; together with possibly an instance of such an Agreement which Anomalist Design LLC has used with some success in the course of its working life.

Should you not feel confident about your abilities for drafting such a set of terms; there are web entities which for a small fee are willing to scan and consider your draft|(s) and offer good hints and advice on how to tighten them up and make them good.

Do not duck out altogether and leave it to your admin to deal with writing such items. You need to be initmately familiar with their contents, and with what you are in fact committing to when you sign.

Your efforts at practicing making such documents are able to add clarity to your own vision for the project in hand, and has many such ‘spin-offs’ of benefit to you in clarifying your role(s) in the works. Coninuing perseverance in drafting such documents also will bring little by little greater clarity and penetration to your other written documents; specs and requirement docs, etc; and even to your abilities to envisage routes down which to follow so as to architect projects in general.

The rule here is a general life rule: Nothing, no experience is wasted; whether good or bad, success or failure, loss of gain; all is grist to the mill for the person who is happy to examine his/her experience and draw the life-lessons arising from their examination.

More is to follow. Watch this space.

Lawful Mischief: Let the Buyer Beware

In a recent article I wrote about how unforeseen liabilities incurred by many manufacturers are as a rule passed down through their marketing and supply chains to a consumer public for it to bear.

Wayback now I wrote and noted how in the course of the 18th century here in Britain at a time when The Agrarian Revolution occurred, which preceded The Industrial Revolution, and encouraged the well-off to make an outrageous land-grab by taking from the ordinary person ancient rights of access to land for grazing and firewood etc. This land grab was carried out by well-off people ‘enclosing’ land. That is, setting up fences which kept out others, and even those who formerly had had rights of access etc.

The land grab was made because new ways of intensive farming were beginning to make cultivation of the land become a booming business venture; the land grabs were made for money; for pursuit of gain; and at the expense of that class of person who had little enough anyway on which to subsist.

Thus by way of what amounted to a manipulation of justice, laws were passed, Enclosure Acts, and these laws legitimised and made ‘above board’ at least in a temporal world, these shameful landgrabs of greed.

Going back to ancient times – I have told this story before too – there was Alexander the Great, ruler of all the known world by way of sweeping war and conquest – his empire. At one time before Alexander stood for judgement a pirate who was allowed to speak a few words in his own defence. The pirate is said to have said to Alexander something of this sort: ‘I have robbed and raided just a few odd ships here and there; but you have raided and pillaged whole nations.’

The pirate’s argument is wholly sound. I don’t know what happened to him?

The point being made by me by giving you all these examples of what I have titled ‘Lawful Mischief’; is that here with us today are the petty Alexanders and the legitimised theives and the manipulating defrayers of liability; and we all allow them to trade still and we are all too often hoodwinked by one or two of them and their sly ways.

The remainder of this article is going to course through about a half dozen examples of present day hoodwinking; most being within the law; some worked by traders; some by consumers; and some beyond the law; criminal. The aim of doing this coursing through examples is to demonstrate how the law in many instances is no adequate protection against a person being cheated, hoodwinked. I make this review of scams, legal and illegal, to demonstrate to you the fact that there are as flagrant and wicked ill-doers sheltering under the legal side of trading, as there are on the criminal side; and that taken as a whole and ethically speaking, those persons on the right side of the law and those persons on the wrong side of it, in fact have very little to differentiate them one from another.

Which of them is worse is hard to say. The crimimals have honesty on their side in that they never intended to give their activites a makeover gloss of lawfulness. Yet the criminals to are those who are the more brasen in that they show no regard for staying within the law.

Much of the Lawful Mischief I am going to example is carried on by bigger companies; most especially by those companies who have a disproportionately large market share of trading compared to their nearest competitiors; and then there is another typical large company format which is ace at brewing Lawful Mischief; which is the large company which holds presitgious Brands and Marks, and often also they hold, so as to fortify their trading supremacies, state sanctioned monopolies in the shape of patents copyrights and design rights; all of which hedge them around with an exclusivity for their prestigious Branded products.

In such larger companies as those whose habit is to practice these Lawful Mischiefs, there is likely to be, I doubt there are any without, a dedicated marketing department of ‘creatives’ – misnomer – a large and hothouse department wherein astute men and women dream up attractive but in the main tacky ideas. These are stewed up and offered for consideration, testing and trial in the company; with an eye solely and wholly on impressing the consumer with a false asumption that here is a fantastic deal or offer, when the deal or offer for a consumer is inevitably and in fact a cognitive deceit and illusion.

Let’s take the most topical of these Legal Mischiefs; one come to light today; that airlines are in a habit of deliberately overbooking passenger numbers on flights. The aim is to ensure that every flight takes off with a full payload of passengers; thus the airline profits in this resepct are always maximised. Whenever turn up to fly too many passengers, airlines are in the habit of offering sums of money to volunteers amongst passengers who are happy to fly later on another flight; to just sufficient numbers of passengers willing to opt for a voluntary delay. They are paid to demur from the present flight, so as to make the flight 100% full and no less.

Now today it was reported on BBC News that a man had been forcibly removed from a flight because he had not been willing to accept payment and take a later flight. The man got a bloody nose into the bargain from an airline ‘heavy’ and other passengers were vexed – I’m not sure whether about the delay or about the treatment given the man?

Now airlines so far as I know are springing it on passengers expecting a seat once the passengers are boarding, that some of them will not get that flight. So one might believe one has a valid ticket to fly but in fact one has not. And one does not realise this is so until boarding.

The man forcibly removed did not want to miss his booked flight; he was unwilling to be bought off; he was unwilling to leave the plane; and he was manhandled off it.

Now this scenario of the extra passenger who does not want to leave the plane one would think would have been an inevitable thing for the airline concerned to have envisaged as a likely scenario bound to happen sooner or later? I do believe that the airline did envisage it but true to form the airline just let it go and opted to deal with such as case when the occasion(s) arise(s). I say true to form because of the presuppositions of the airlines who do this kind of practice are tellingly revealling to consider.

The part of this ‘marketing’ of Lawful Mischief, in this case, by the airlines, which stands out like a sore thumb, is the presupposition that the airline is/would be – able to buy off sufficient passengers always every time so as to make everything, everytime, go hunky dory for them. The thought that money does not speak sufficiently loudly to some people who are being asked to leave a flight never entered their calculations. Their own great avarice to maximise profits by ensuring via this marketing wheese that evey flight of theirs is 100% full on takeoff, this has led them to believe that money offers to voluntarily delayed passengers would always carry the day and bear the sway.

And so here today we had a man not to be bought off, and in a hurry to get somewhere; a misfit; an odd sort of person who did not fit the smart airline buisiness model; labelled a troublemaker by the airline’s CEO; given a bloody nose by an ‘official’; and frog-marched off by heavies against his will and angrily shouting and resisting.

This then is one of many such legitimate faces of trading in our laissez faire competitive political economy. Laissez faire means ‘Let’s do it’; and the term emphasises freedom and freedom of choice, thus free trade and open competition et al. The onus of laissez faire is ever upon those who trade and do business, for them to set their own terms; and hey presto, the hallowed marketplace is the arena which by a kind of Darwinian Natural Selection, approves or disapproves the terms any trader sets. The buying consumer in theory has a right to buy or to walk and go elsewhere. Thus in theory the consumer carries out the final verdict on the trader, on his goods/services and on his terms.

The consumer then in theory is the natural and actual curb on the rapaciousness of any trader.

One might classify the following aspects of doing business as a company today in the consumer society, as being wily ways invented by such companies deliberately so as to circumvent in their favour this extremely theoretical Let’s do it laissez faire in our would-be open society’ of ‘autonomous ‘checks and balances’; all supposedly built into the system by a form of ‘naturalmeans. The smart Alec henchmen and women of such companies in their marketing departments act to back the companies to the very hilt in a quest for their own fulfillments of greed, power, and avarice. The circumventing aspects of business in the main are:

  • Marketing and marketing departments
  • Advertising
  • Patents, Designs and Copyrights
  • Trademarks and Branding
  • Licensing of rights
  • Dividing up trading territories
  • Following (globally)the cheapest markets to make goods/offer services in/from
  • Setting up Charitable Foundations
  • Creative Accounting
  • Tax Avoidance

There are more – these are more than enough for now.

Everything on this list is done religiously avidly by, especially, larger companies, and by those companies aspiring to reach the heights; it is done primarily by them so as to bias the Let’s do it laissez faire open-endedness of theory deeply, profoundly and dreadfully in their favours in practice.

I am able, if I had enough time and patience, to demonstrate to you in words and examples how each of these aspects listed works in the great favour of the companies who practice it; and on the other hand to the deep detriment of the ‘buck stops here’ consumer. If you had enough patience also?

Before I leave the airline malpractice example which I began with I want to add something final which my wife brought up when we heard about what was going on. She said: ‘why doesn’t the man sue the airline for breach of contract?’. I thought about it and said: ‘Because of the long and dreary costly bother of setting up a small claims case; and because of a residual uncertainty about not wining the case.’

Law here in UK and I guess it’s worse in USA is too expensive for the common person. Justice costs too much. It is too slow and too uncertain. A large company is able to spin-out cases indefinitely and to take them to the limits of The Supreme Court if necessary; when much is at stake for them. They are able easily to daunt or weary or cow or deter ordinary Joe and Jane Soaps from taking them on. It is David versus Goliath but with Goliath bashing the stuffing out of David every time.

And this fact of the sheer dominance of companies leads inevitably to their using their dominance to oppress lesser entities and persons. Consider your own experience; consider how many times you have been more or less forced to pay demands and extras and small but significant add-ons and service charges and so on by the companies you deal with in the course of your upkeep of your household? In my own experience I can say hand on heart that never before has so much money left my household and gone unexpectedly, unduly, and irrecoverably, to utilities, to taxes, to IT and Comms services, to all kinds of traders and leviers, than it has done over the past two or three years.

Particularly I believe the situation has worsened so much because so many companies and their employees and so much marketing and other wheezes have been at work and have put in place so many ‘milch cow’ wiseacre Lawful Mischiefs so that the balance between the consumer and trading companies is now well out of kilter; extremely so.

The simple fact that there is no adequate or straightforward means of redress at the disposal of a consumer right now has allowed companies of all kinds to exploit to the very brim of the trough wheezes which bring in a kind of ‘rapine’ income to them.

This then is that Triumph of Capitalism, so much lauded and made so much of; by the same persons and their businesses who are wringing dry the very pockets of the common person. It’s just another form of totalitarianism; one sanctioned by governments. And were it not sanctioned by governments, nevertheless governments today are ever more abject and at the behest of large companies and so are kowtowing to and mollifying and soliciting them and their wealth and power; begging them almost to come and trade build or sell in this particular neck of the woods.

Yet governments as they go are also are compiled of persons the same who sit on boards and who are in the pay of large companies; even of persons running conglomerates as Captains of Industry themselves. The parallel accords with that of the academics in The West; who are now businessmen; and as such are in the pockets of and in the pay of industry and its Captains.

These Captains are the new Tamburlains and Genghis Khans; Sennacheribs and Piccolominos of the world. Their ambitions universally are forever for a greater dominance; of their competitors and of their consumer publics; whom they screw as tightly as their smart Alec wise-guy idea departments can muster.

Let’s take a few smaller but yet very significant examples of ‘screw you Joe Public!’

It has been customary in former but recent years in the UK for smaller manufacturers of car spare parts to be allowed a waiver in regard to those patents which protect, fortify and surround with a hedge the big car manufacturers’ automobiles, so that these smaller firms are able to produce spare parts for cars whose designs etc are yet still under patent. The same logic has always applied likewise to IT manufacturers of hardware and of the sundries which their hardware requires. I mean items like printers and phones as hardware, and sundries like batteries and inks.

Yet use Apple’s i Phone i Tunes software on your Microsoft desktop to upload one’s phone data and save it temporarily; and then try to restore/repair your i phone’s software using the i Tunes app, and lo, when your battery in your phone is a replacement, and not an Apple battery, one is likely to run into problems; and your restore/repair is likely to fail. You are left high and dry. No forewarning on the i tunes app software notices or information; nothing obviously present without reading through reams of Terms and Conditions before using the i Tunes software.

Thus the ‘spare parts’ waiver on the patent useful to small manufacturers of replacement batteries for Apple phones is circumvented, made null land void, in respect of resetting and restoring your phone. One cannot but believe Apple has set this state of affairs up deliberately; a sort of ‘dog in the manger’ trick so as to do as much as they are able to ‘tie in’ their consumers to Apple branded goods only.

I wrote in another piece recently about ‘Tommy Shops’ having been historically present in the South Wales Valleys mining communities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Miners were paid in ‘tokens’ issued, minted, by the employer, the coal pit owner, who had also set up shops selling all the things needful for life, and which was the only place that redeemed the employer’s tokens. These were Tommy Shops. In this way the employer was able to exploit the miners even when the miners were not digging out coal for him. Miners and their families were wholly tied-in to using employers’ Tommy Shops to buy all their worldly goods in.

Is not this Apple battery Legal Mischief not another incarnation of the Tommy Shop and its tokens? I think so.

Now printers. Printers historically I have seen them being ‘given away’ gratis at stores – a large and complex piece of state of the art electronics being given out like sweets are offered in a hotel reception. The trick, the wheeze, the Legal Mischief being that printer inks are horrendously and outrageously expensive, and last disappointingly very briefly before a refill is needed. Thus a printer is joyfully taken away gratis by a very happy shopper who then spend five or six years paying through the nose for it in ridiculously priced ink refills.

Now the small firms spare parts waiver of patents on printers kicks in; and small firms begin making ‘compatible cartridges’ for the ‘free’ printers. The printer makers hit back. Soon a printer arrives on the market which will work only with ‘genuine’ Branded to the printer manufacturer’s ink refills. It is the Apple, and the Tommy Shop story over again; and over again.

We all know these small scale Legal Mischiefs and for the most part we accept them as part of the detail of modern life. It says something sordid about modern life that we have to do so. We have to do so because usually there’s no alternative other than a new printer or a new phone. Captive markets we are. Tommy Shop traffic

And the old Scots saying that: ‘Many a mickle makes a muckle’ applies. It is a few $ or £ extra for us every time we buy a battery or an ink; but for Apple and for the printer Companies this few extra $ or £ amounts to billions across the years. Worse, they feel they are entitled to this windfall which they have worked their way by their machinations with patent law and with spare parts; all’s fair in love and war – and in business.

Thus we come to charity. There is no charity in business, that is why Apple and Printer Companies set things up and set us up the way they do. How many other similar ‘tie-ins’ to Tommy Shops do you know of; have affected you? Remember it’s all part of that laissez faire Let’s do it; that freedom to choose and that allowing the marketplace to settle issues of supply, demand, pricing, stocks, profit, and value. I don’t think so.

Just like loaded dice, we are on the other end of a bum deal. Just like the big guy with the loot on the poker table is able to blow away the little guys by raising them so high their hair stands on end and they cannot follow because their money and credit does not stretch that far. This is what it looks like from our end of laissez faire.

Some more – and more substantial – examples.

Charity. Burger King and MacDonald’s. Burger King has pulled off a major coup in marketing. It has won the prize awarded by companies like itself who value these marketing wheezes. Burger King approached MacDonald’s with a proposition that they join forces so as to produce a sort of ‘charity burger’. The proceeds, part of them, will go to needy causes.

What a wheeze! A fait acompli by Burger King indeed! MacDonald’s might hardly have refused such an approach from Burger King. How would it look in the ensuing publicity – the tabloids no doubt being encouraged by a very accessible and amenable Burger King to report big on such a remiss refusal by MacDonald’s.

So MacDonald’s more or less dragooned into the wheeze by a sort of (im)moral blackmail. And to boot Burger King comes out smelling of roses because it was Burger King who had the idea and who initiated it and who approached MacDonald’s. Thus Burger King is the top dog in the partnership no doubt.

And for charity too – the icing on the cake – what a wheeze! The charity bit to Burger King is worth every penny donated; as a smart polish and shine for company image and reputation – especially seeing that MacDonald’s is paying a substantial amount of it! MacDonald’s is merely the poor relation here. Caught out by a smart Alec in Burger King’s marketing factory. It seems to me only incidental that there is a charity element in play in the arrangement. It is the kingpin of the marketing ploy as ploy; but only incidental that the needy get something out of it. That’s why it got the marketing prize. I’m not a cynic – I’m a truth teller. I am single-minded about straight down the line dealing – and am unhappy with sly tricks.

There are more. I may let some remain for another follow up on this topic – there’s so much to cover. One last example – of the consumers taking the hint from their masters, the companies; and taking a leaf out of their books.

There is a scam going on here in UK for some years now concerning driving and cars. It became the ‘fashion’ that whenever one was in a bump in a car one would claim insurance payout for the ubiquitous and inevitable ‘whiplash’ one had suffered. ‘Whiplash’ is a strain of the neck cause by a vehicle juddering to a very sudden halt in a bump. Likewise, another consumer wheeze – claiming on gas appliance insurance – by taking it out in early spring and claiming in autumn but the heating being broken from before the time you took insurance out.

Of course, as fashions, these things merely put everyone’s insurance premiums up severely and their cost becomes distributed, diffused by the insurance companies, to the consumer’s pocket – yet again.

Another vehicle scam was that persons would buy up an old worn out car and insure it as if it were new. Then crash it – a write-off. That too ended up as a bill for the likes of you and me.

Lastly before I stop I want to give an example or two of collusions between companies and consumers to fix up a wheeze by which both make some cash – though there are caveats.

The first example is the guy with the billboard who accosts you in the high street asking you whether you’ve had an accident in the past 3 years. He, his company will fight your case ( which you never knew you had till now) and get you compensation (which you never knew you could get till now); and the thought of this is supposed to light up a cash till inside your head and show you daydreams of a cruise or of a couple of days abroad. Greed is the spur – but the guy is offering you a sprat to catch a mackerel for himself.

These claims are notorious for not paying out what they promise. Very often most of the money compensated, when there is actually money compensated, surprise, surprise, is swallowed up in legal bills to the firm who was so concerned that you should have gotten justice for your accident that was not your fault. The final fillet on the bait is – a no win no fee pledge – and the mouthwatering avarice driven passer-by is then hooked.

Likewise on the phone here in UK today about half one’s calls are scams. One which is a Lawful Mischief is concerning PPI – Private Property Insurance or something like that. It was something ‘mis-sold’ to house buyers for a long period before the 2008 crash. Even now, after four or five years of scattergun cold calls about that money due to you from your mis-sold PPI the calls keep coming in; and big hoardings at junctions here still are carrying new posters such as ‘ There’s still billions of unclaimed PPI!’.

The whole economy here seems ever more and more to be becoming a big game of gambling and windfalls; gambling one loses and windfalls which are so light they barely hit the ground. Money in truth has become our raison d’etre – get it any way we can – above or below the board – licit, illicit, scam or wheeze – they’re all valid.

Everyone is game for some Lawful Mischief; instead of freedom its a chaos of free for all, two falls two submissions or a knockout. Freedom is precious – to be guarded by way of self restraint and due consideration. What we have is a riot, a mess, a confusion of voices shouting to one another and only each individual listening to his/her own voice and to no-one else’s.

Not freedom – wanton license.

Icebergs and Salmon

Iceberg Lettuce and Smoked Salmon in fact. A little tour through the recent price hikes occurent in the UK presently, whereby this lettuce has tripled in price and this salmon has risen in price by over 50%. More or less overnight.

The reason for both hikes, in their ‘official’ versions, has been the same for both; a blight. In the case of lettuce a blight by insects; for salmon I believe a fungus or bacterial blight.

Both of these grocery items are farmed these days in specially dedicated enclosures; under artificial daylight inside huge hangars for lettuce; and in saltwater chemically-controlled ‘ponds’ for salmon.

Both grocery products are being farmed en masse so as to bring to the ordinary person’s pocket these high-end delicacies. In the doings do, the real high-ender consumers have moved on to sea-caught, sometimes labelled ‘line-caught’, fresh salmon and weirdly named ‘organic’ lettuces ‘farmed naturally’.

The high-end consumers then have moved to yet higher ground and their vacated space is now occupied by the hoi polloi.

Of course and needless to say the pond-farmed salmon and the daylamp grown lettuce is not as flavoursome and delicate in taste as the sea-caught and ‘naturally farmed’ items. But they have been for most of us better than having none of them.

I dare to believe that both blights, on daylamp lettuce and on farmed salmon, are a natural consequence of men and women ‘taking mother nature’s place’ and believing that we as a species can do it as well as she is able to. I have little doubt that these blights are a symptom, and a warning which will go wholly unheeded by their farmers, of nature prevailing regardless, and as it were are ‘one in the eye’ for our overblown scientific pretensions.

This then represents another instance of that sheen of perfection which our science and its scientists would surround themselves and their works with, thus this gloss being little else than or anything better than that ubiquitous ‘corporate image’ of spick and span 100% pristine presentation which their corporate cousins who as emulators of Pope Francis can never put a foot wrong. One might baptise it by the name of ‘PayPal Infallibility’.

These blights then are presented by scientists as being curiously interesting developments and deserving of their further study (and they would say, mastering) developments which could not have been foreseen and so no comeback on the lab boffins at all.

Whereas for the Monsantos and Solutias of this world, the same curiously interesting development of blight is portrayed in their press releases as having been ‘an Act of God’ as it were, a sudden descent of a plague of locusts and due to the fickle and unsettled nature of things in the world. No tarnish attached to their shining public-image facade.

No-one whose ideas and plans put into action on these farms was and is to take any blame or to be held accountable; no-one might have foreseen these blights. That is to say no-one who has not read or listened to the history of commercialism and taken note of man and woman’s ludicrous track record in dealing with, and ‘subduing nature’, since the Industrial Revolution first took off and took us over?

Maybe quietly in the background behind the scenes a head or two will roll; a few ‘fall guys’, those who seem to be the ‘weakest links’, will be ousted onto the unemployment line; and ‘justice’ will have been seen to be done by the remainder of their employees.

In both marketing and in the labs a setback is always a cue for a Boardroom to make a small purge of lesser talent; those who are not delivering what their prospects promised at the first. George W Bush and Tony Blair together did no less no more in making use of the horrific Twin Towers to settle their hashes with bad guy Saddam Hussain.

I am assuming with all alacrity that there are men and women employed in secret governmental and commercial recesses across the world whose jobs are to put together contingency plans for a long list of desired but outrageous political and commercial policies and actions, with an eye to suitable ones being retrieved from the files, upon suitable and significant news events having occurred, under the auspices of which some of these dreadful ill-hatched plans might be slipped into place and given wings to fly.

(Again and again I have seen advertising – recently from a power company and another from a confectionery company – two instances – which makes blatant bad faith usage of government responses to public pressure which have compelled the energy company to reduce its prices and compelled the confectionery company to be more candid about its candies. Ads such as ‘we’ve reduced our prices!’ and ‘now with more milk added!’ – by which the companies had ‘come clean’ about their having been under compulsion?? – I don’t think so!)

There’s a very real sense around today in my experience that the outlook of governments and of commercial companies is becoming evermore one of ‘tell them anything’ – the public – ‘and they’ll believe it!’. And of course such an outlook in its bearers breeds very soon a low contempt for the people, the public, the electorate, the consumers, whom they are deceiving.

Now iceberg lettuces and smoked and fresh salmon went sky-high in the shops about six weeks ago and neither has yet ‘fallen back to earth’. Smoked salmon scraps, those pieces collected off the machinery which packages the product, which would be rated ‘waste’ to a high-end consumer, are being offered at £14 per kilo. A pack of 120 grams was offered locally by me at a price almost as high as a pack of 100 grams of the salmon itself.

For the salmon which carried recommendations such as ‘oak smoked’ and ‘west highland’ a kilo might cost right now, in an ordinary supermarket, nothing fancy, up to £40. Iceberg lettuces once selling at 40 or 50p each are now to be had for not less than 90 pence, being a lot smaller to boot than the former once were.

Now neither of these price hikes have dropped down to ‘normal’ levels again. Yet what is the lifecycle of lettuce and salmon growing, fromone crop to the next, in such factory farming which these creatures are being ‘forced’ by artificial means including use of God-knows-what pharmaceuticals? Not six weeks I’d hazard. A lot less.

But as one says, as certainly do the growers, ‘you can’t have too much of a good thing.’

My main point however is that the losses incurred by these blights of a course, and without a blink of an eye, in every case, be it sugar or foie gras, of salt or watercress, are front-loaded into the supply chain and are ending up on the doorstep of the consumer every time. Those to whom the blight happened, those who took no responsibility for these ‘acts of God’ having occurred, also will not accept any losses these blights cause them to incur. Instead that remaining saleable lettuce and salmon is salvaged, marketed as hiked in price – scarcity!, scarcity!, they cry, and then roll it out so as to aim to make up their losses in this way.

We shoppers, most of us, just accept it. We’ve seen it happen before – it’s par for the course – an ‘act of God’ for us in our understandings. Yet why should we bear the cost of another’s losses, and I do not mean this in any Christian way of charitable provision for others who have had losses, but in a case when a person goes into business that person knows that like shares on The Exchange, sales can go up or down. Risk and reward are bandied around as being at the core and heart of entrepreneurial skill; so why does the entrepreneur not say – ‘it’s a fair cop – I’ll take the rap’?

I think he does not say so because he knows he can say anything and get away with it, including getting away with passing his losses down to the pockets of ordinary people, the consumers. The entrepreneur asks us, perhaps a little hurt: ‘why should I be ruined, it’s cruel for you to ruin me.’ But it’s ‘God’ ruining him isn’t it?; or rather the entrepreneur’s belief in that presumption of science and the scientists that they are able to cheat, and bypass, and shortcut, and devalue, nature, and the natural course of things, in this case of  growing crops, and make a good living thereby.

Nature is a canny lass; like Lincoln’s collective people, she will not allow herself to be be fooled all of the time by surrepetitious men and women who think themselves smarter than she is because they wear white coats and have pieces of paper to prove it.

On the steps outside the Central Law Courts in 2008 in New York when Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac went down stood wheelers and dealers waving in the air title deeds to ordinary folks homes, ex homes, and ex-homes to families now houseless, and a burden on public welfare, and at an utter loss what next to do to try to recover their lives; waving such deeds around in a public negotiation of deals with property traders, like scavengers on the steps, and who have probably more than one house in which they dwell already; and who were to be seen snapping up these titbit fortuitous bargains at knockdown basement prices.

This scene typifies the way the world is now set up to do business. It is the ordinary girl and guy and their families who have been set-up, and on whom every time the pain of loss and dissolution of assetts and savings fall. Everyone froma single step higher above them is able to and to a man always does feather their nests and safeguard and hedge their substance so as to be assured that any untoward businjess or losses are able to passed down to the bottom line of the consumer. And so they avert them themselves.

The way we are set up right now a guy or girl who needs money, who has none, and needs to borrow, he or she is penalised by having to bear a premium rate of interest on repayments of any loan he or she is able to get. Whereas the guy or girl who has money, and who feels like borrowing more to make with it an investment or such, with an eye to making yet more money; this guy or girl is rewarded with preferential borrowing rates of interest, much, much lower than the poor person’s rates.

Indeed Karl Marx in his heart was more Christian than is they way we have made our system to do business with. Marx said famously: ‘From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs’. This is not so far from ‘from whom much is given, much is expected’. Marx is a sight nearer this gospel saying of Our Lord than are the bailiffs and the loan-sharks, the debt collectors and the bankruptcy courts.

The line of the ideologues who are most usually those who profit most out of this way of doing business, is that Capitalism and its mechanisms are a clear reflection of what they term ‘human nature’; by which they mean that the way we do business with our devil take the hindmost ethos is consonant with and fitted to our natural human bent or predispositions. The argument says in bare statement that we are not capable of behaving any better, and so it has to be like this – every other way is impracticable – men and women always fal back into this default position of ‘beggar my neighbour’ when doing transactions between one another.

As the Father of Economics (Political Economy) Adam Smith is hailed as saying;’ Men will always buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest’ – this is our ‘black gospel of commerce’ as we do it now. It is a Satanic gospel; it perpetuates itself because it is framed in terms, as an ideology, which preclude any other practical alternative way s of exchange and transaction.

It is framed in such terms and is promulgated to everyone down the cascade of class and race and education and status,by the very persons who have most money and most property and most high-life to lose and nothing to gain by allowing a possibility of any other, perhaps better, way of doing things.

Now, given that a person, anywhere, any person, is able to meet his/her bills day on day month on month, or their equivalents, and is in reasonable health and spirits, having a great deal of money is superfluous to such a person – de facto and de jure. Under such circumstances come into play as most important for a good life things like friendships, family, peace, and happiness, and maybe most importantly, hope.

Not many of us would agree with me on this – because our complete setup is geared to exalt and to adore the wealthy, the glossy, the sparkling and the leisured life and persons (in the public eye.) Everyone’s aspiration is to live California style as it were to get to Heaven without having to die. This too is the bait, the lure, the diversion, and the frame-up set in place for us by the same commercial and consumerist machine which is being constantly oiled and overseen by the persons who benefit most materially from it being set up in this way.

Dylan used a lyric ‘You’re only a pawn in their game’.

But you do not want to own untold riches of money and property, you only see this as the definitive vision for life because you have been told that it is by nearly everything advertised marketed bought and sold, and told constantly also by those doing the selling etc. True riches are not found in having overmuch money, overmuch property.

Open your eyes and see where true riches are to be had in limitless abundance; where a better life – a step change – a sea change – that greatly prized game-changer – that spiritual winning lottery ticket – that lifetime sweepstakes pool scoop, and enough, enough of this for everyone and anyone, real and true, authenticity and actuality, joy and peace, and good, good faith all round.

There’s a song not much heard now by a guy called Joe South: ‘Games People Play’. Its lyric is astute and an item worth your consideration in these regards on which I speak:

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine whoa

Oh we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame whoa

Neither one will give in
So we gaze at our eight by ten
Thinking ’bout the things that might have been
And it’s a dirty rotten shame whoa

Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play now

People walking up to ya
Singing glory Hallelujah
And they’re tryin’ to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord

They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your fate
And further more to hell with hate
Come on and get on board whoah

Talking ’bout you and me
And the games people play
Now wait a minute

Look around tell me what you see
What’s happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
To just remember who I am whoah

‘Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turn your back on humanity
Oh and you don’t give a da da da da da

I keep talking ’bout you and me baby
And the games people play now lala

I keep talking ’bout you and me
Oh and the games people play

Talking ’bout you and me oh
And the games people play now

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