Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

It's not that I've been slack

Look, I've started writing a whole bunch of blog entries during the past week. But nothing seems to stick. I wanted to cover the election campaign in a little more depth, but the three main parties have all managed to so spectacularly alienate me as to make that a potentially libellous undertaking. I wanted to write a bit about the rising profile of 'peak oil' in the media, but that just seems to be stating the obvious... anyone can type "peak oil" into google news and see the evidence for themselves. Indeed, my focus is now shifting from warning of the approaching oil shock (a warning that finally seems to be sinking in) towards planning solutions.

Unfortunately I'm not entirely sure the world is yet ready for the solutions I've developed so far.

And as a break from the wider issues, I've also tried to write a couple of more personal blog entries. But they've either petered out, or ended up in unexpected and unpublishable places.

Yeah. It's been a strange week. I came very close to chucking in my current "job" (which genuinely deserves those quote marks) to become a professional poker player (which would require "job" to be italicised, as well as contained within quote marks). No really, I was very close to it. The only thing that prevented me was a vivid dream I had on the night I watched some poor schmuck lose almost a thousand pounds to the table (some into my pocket). The dream involved having to escape from danger through a sewage pipe (reminiscent of that scene in The Shawshank Redemption), and myself and a companion found ourselves washed out onto a filthy mud flat.

We were surrounded by bank notes... hundreds of thousands... perhaps millions of pounds, dollars and euro just there in the mud. And mixed in among the banknotes were playing cards. The person I was with began to frantically gather up the money... stuffing his pockets. And in the dream I began screaming at him to stop... "It's contaminated!" I shouted. "Can't you see the money is contaminated!?"

And it struck me upon waking that perhaps methodically playing very safe poker and taking money from gamblers too stupid to calculate odds may not be the most karmically responsible way to earn a living. At least not while there are other options that pay almost as good and have an arguable social benefit (right now I'm building web-software and sites for non-profit organisations at a perfectly acceptable wage). But it's nice to know there's a fall-back position... professional gambler... second oldest profession and all that.
Isn't it great when you put your media player on "shuffle" and a Hendrix track you haven't heard for ages comes on, and it's followed by some top dub, and you realise that although it's still early afternoon, now's a really good time for a joint... and you do, after all, set your own hours.
- Johann Rissle
from Slacking in the 21st Century (pamphlet)
But what about them elections, eh?

Is there any less edifying spectacle than a modern democratic election? And to think, we're forcing this shit on other countries at gunpoint! Anything truly important is ignored, and the issues which are discussed are trivialised by both politicians and media. Shallow soundbites, meaningless slogans, empty promises and the most obvious of lies all served up with a dollop of contempt.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see the tories given a kicking so bad they never recover... a proper thrashing that consigns them to the contaminated mudflats of history. Yet I can think of few things I'd like to see less than a smug Tony Blair returned to Downing Street with a whopping big majority and talk of being "vindicated". And I'm even beginning to feel a bit nauseated by the thought of Charles Kennedy gaining lots of ground and crowing about how people have chosen "The Real Alternative".

The LibDems have been steadily losing my respect over the past weeks as leaflet after leaflet printed on glossy paper fell through my letterbox informing me about how the Liberal Democrats were the only party making the environment a priority. It's a lie. An insidious, nasty, unpleasant lie designed to trick people with genuine concerns into thinking that they'll address them. It's not like I'm a big fan of the Green Party, but stealing their votes by telling outrageous lies is just plain low.

Not that it's an unusual thing to be occurring during a democratic election campaign. But when it's so upfront and brazen it really does make you want to spend the day at the polling station explaining in great detail just how little the LibDems differ from the tories or NuLabor when it comes to the environment and sustainability. It's a great big bastid lie. And I'm sick of being told it.

You always know when the tories are lying of course... their lips are moving. We've come to expect roughly the same from Labour now. But when, not long after I wrote the words, "if I were you... I'd vote LibDem" they show up and push dangerous lies through my letterbox two days running, it makes me want to vote UKIP just to be awkward. At least with UKIP you know what you're getting. A lot like the Monster Raving Loonies in that respect.

Nobody involved with the Newbury Bypass protest can forget David Rendell, Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury, and just how much he cared about the environment when big business wanted to build a completely unnecessary road through some of the most important and ecologically sensitive sites in his constituency. A sitting Liberal Democrat MP. Can you imagine the boost the campaign, if the local MP had come out against the project? If he hadn't been one of it's most vocal supporters?

And when a developer in Kingston wanted a row of mature trees felled in order to provide a better view from the luxury flats they built, the local LibDem council was quick to give permission.

You can't claim to be a "green" party when you consistently put business before the environment. Every party - the tories included - will make the environment a top priority when there's no financial downside. The only relevant question is whether your priorities change when there's big wodges of cash involved. And the LibDems (supporters of GM crops in Scotland) have demonstrated that whenever they actually find themselves in a position of power, they're just as willing to sell out the environment in the name of short-termist profitwank as the tories and Labour.

Look, vote Green if you can in your constituency. If there's not a Green in the area, then spoil your ballot. 100% Green vote and no representative returned from constituencies without a Green candidate. That's "The Real Alternative".
The secret is to work out how best to support your chosen lifestyle with the least amount of work. This is not only responsible from the point of view of a sustainable future, but provides the maximum amount of time in bed.
- Johann Rissle
from Slacking in the 21st Century (pamphlet)
Anyways, I was going to write more about how much I dislike capitalism and stuff... but my new digital camera has just been delivered, and I want to play with it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favourite book titles of all time is "Play Poker, Quit Work and Sleep Till Noon", by John Fox. There was a time when I played a lot of poker when I considered this as a career, after all I had already quit work and slept till noon. But I have no such foibles as yourself about the karma of taking money off bad players, after all, that's the game, and there's always someone better if there's any karma that needs evening out. As the poker adage goes: "Money's just a way of keeping score."

As for odds, useful to know them, but to play by odds alone is only good enough for fleecing students and giggly girls. Surely you want a tougher challenge than that?


4/5/05 17:27  
Anonymous Jez said...

If you're going to use your digital camera a lot, I've got a year's pro account on Flickr.com to give away. It's yours if you want it (and are likely to use it).

5/5/05 17:01  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

Many thanks for the offer Jez, but my flat-mate has already emailed me one. I've actually been too busy over the past couple of days to have a proper play with the camera yet, but my initial impressions are very good indeed. I suspect the psychogeography of Walthamstow is about to get some web exposure in the near future.

Joel, what struck me was just how easy it is to take money from people who don't bother calculating the odds. Of course, if I decided to do it full time, then the challenge of taking on better players would come into it... but for me the revelation was that it's possible to play very low-key, safe poker and make a consistent profit so long as you pay attention to the odds.

It's incredibly dull of course, but no more so than factory labour at one tenth the salary.

5/5/05 17:13  

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