Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the UK, more abuses of public money

Reference this BBC News item yesterday

If it was an MP abusing public money in this way there would be an outcry (as there has been over the last several weeks). But because it is traditional for the UK population to take it up the arse from the monarchy we just roll over and ask "which hole would you like next, Charles?"

An MP paying for his duck island out of expenses is thought to be a national scandal. But Charles paying £3million on things like his butlers and dressers is all just hunky dory.

I know, in terms of my friends in the UK, I might just as well talk to a wall. We'll all so brainwashed here with the royal family's PR machine.

No offence. I'm sure the man himself is no worse a human being than I am, although I doubt I would have cheated on a wife as attractive as Diana. I guess all that inbreeding loosened his marbles. But really that is all beside the point. The "good job" he is apparently doing could be done by someone electable and elected. (See: The Big Monarchy Campaign )

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway

For those of us who hadn't already heard this story and I was one of them until this morning (April 8, 2007 - 2 years ago now), as part of a social experiment, Joshua Bell played incognito in the subway and was largely ignored. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100. I posted this story here because it struck me it has some resonance with the point of the NotReallyRelevant project. (See:

Below is a longer version of the story story that has circulated via email. (See snopes: Snopes: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway But the story checks out. You can read the full story as it was originally published in the Washington Post here: Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway, including video. Also the Washington Post have a channel on YouTube. A video to go with the story is here: YouTube video of Joshua Bell playing incognito in the subway... that's the video I decided to embed above. The Washington Post's channel on YouTube is here.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The 4 Georges: 'Born 2 Rule'

Clarification for anyone who gets their english georgian kings mixed up. Which George was which? ... This video should help you! The four Georgian kings sort it all out for us, by means of forming a boy band. This is just a tiny part of the terrific content from BBC's "Horrible Histories" season. Supposed to be for children, but I'm a lot older than that and it still teaches me a thing or two. For more similar's see: Horrible Histories Songs. They also have a channel on YouTube: Horrible Histories channel on YouTube. Or just search "Horrible Histories" on YouTube.

If you want to put place the 4 Georges on the royal family tree, this seems to do the job

... and for more information about the "Georgian" period of UK history, try this

"You had to do what we told you to, just because are blood was blue" ... nothing changed much since then. Join the "Big Monarchy" campaign on Facebook: Big Monarchy Campaign on facebook

Here is another good one - Henry VIII sings about what he did to each of his wives:

Add on - Who was Thomas Paine?

It's 200 years since the British-born "father of the American revolution" died. His words also helped shape modern Britain and France and yet few people in the UK know much about him - or maybe have not even heard of him.

See this article on BBC news or this one about Thomas Paine and this one about his revolutionary pamphlet called "Common Sense" both on WikiPedia.