Having not posted anything in July or August I have made up for it with this being my 6th post of the month. I have also gained 13 new blog followers during September, taking the total up to 65. You might think that with 65 followers I could expect each new post be viewed on the order of 65 times within a few days of posting but from what I can tell that seems not to be the case and I am left to conclude that most of my followers rarely view my posts.
Well that was an anti-climax. Had the vote gone the other way on Thursday I expect the celebrations would still have been going on. In the end, 44.65% of votes cast were for an independent Scotland with 55.25% against (see full results). Not as close as polls were suggesting but still a lot closer than the UK establishment would have liked. So what saved the Union?
In 2001 David Blunkett announced that cannabis would be downgraded from Class B to Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. From 2001 to 2004 I attended the annual Cannabis Festival in Brockwell Park, organised by the Brixton Cannabis Coalition. It was a very popular event and the police turned a blind eye to mass public consumption of the herb. During this time people also started exploiting a loophole which allowed the sale of fresh psilocybin containing mushrooms even though psilocybin itself was classified as a Class A drug. These were high times indeed. The downgrading of cannabis to Class C did not actually occur until January 2004 but things generally seemed to be moving in the right direction.
Two hundred and thirty years ago Vincenzo Lunardi took off from London in a hydrogen balloon and drifted north towards Hertfordshire, accompanied by a dog, a cat and a caged pigeon. He made a stop in Welham Green where he set the airsick cat free, then took off again before finally bringing the balloon to rest at Standon Green End. The road junction in Welham Green near where Lunardi made his first stop is named Balloon Corner to commemorate the landing.
Just three days until Scotland’s Referendum on Independence and the polling is close. I was going to give links to the main yes and no campaign websites but the server hosting the Yes Scotland site is not currently responding – a denial of service attack by anti-independence interests perhaps?
Not long after returning from my Stonehenge trip I was away again for a wedding in Devon. I say a wedding but it was not one that would be recognised by UK law – indeed the ceremony included the words “fuck the state and it’s bits of paper”. The event took place at Landmatters permaculture project near Totnes, which I had heard about but never visited. There were around 200 guests camping for the weekend and I knew a lot of them (including the happy couple) from the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and Bicycology. For music and PA they were keen to use the bicycle towed sound system called Pedals that I helped build nine years ago for the G8 ride, so I agreed to fetch it in my van from its present home in a London and take it to Devon. I set off a day early to visit a friend Mike in Exeter and slept on his boat before continuing on to Totnes, from where I followed directions down increasingly narrow lanes to Landmatters.
I vaguely remember visiting Stonehenge with my parents when I was young. At that time we would have been able to walk right up to the stones but they were roped off in 1977, apparently due to erosion. From 1974 to 1984 Stonehenge was the site of the Stonehenge Free Festival which culminated on the Summer Solstice. In 1984 the event attracted some 65,000 people but it was banned in 1985 and those that attempted to show up in defiance of the ruling were violently attacked by police in what came to be known as the Battle of the Beanfield. ITN reporter Kim Sabedo was there and described seeing “some of the most brutal police treatment of people that I’ve witnessed in my entire career as a journalist”. Eventually English Heritage did start allowing “managed open access” to the stones for Summer Solstice and this year, with good weather predicted, I made plans to attend.
In October 2010 I published a blog entry called Labour Admits Iraq Folly in which I reported that Ed Miliband, after being elected leader of the Labour Party, made a speech in which he said that Tony Blair’s government was “wrong” to go to war. Tony of course disagreed.
Normally I write blog entries directly on wordpress.com but this one I am composing in a text file because I can’t get to wordpress.com right now, or indeed to most of the Internet. There is nothing wrong with my Internet connection apart from the fact that I have deliberately disabled IPv4 on my iMac in order to see what I can do using IPv6.
To say that the mainstream media “loves hate and hates love” is obvious hyperbole but if there wasn’t an element of truth in it then there would be no need for publications like Positive News. Out of interest I just did a search for “Negative News” and as I expected there does not seem to be a publication of that title but there are plenty of articles on the subject. For example, near the top of the search results was a 2010 article in Psychology Today called Why we love bad news by Ray Williams. So one explanation is that there is indeed far more bad news than good – but that depends on how you define news. Another is that we prefer bad news to good and that the media are simply giving us what they know we want. Finally there is the more conspiratorial explanation that the media is controlled by people in whose interest it is to have a population living in fear.