Monday, August 13, 2012

Layer 537 . . . A Summer of Sport, and a New Beginning

After four years of regular blogging Oxzen has needed a sabbatical and some time off to refresh, reflect and take stock. It's been an interesting few months. 2012 has been an interesting year.

So what's been occurring?

As far as Oxzen is concerned, since the beginning of April - a great deal of watching television. March was glorious, warm and sunny, but the rain began at the start of April. It rained almost daily throughout April, May, June and July. The wettest spring and summer on record in Britain.

Not that I'm complaining. I'd had some vague idea that the summer of 2012 was going to be glorious and I'd spend day after day sitting and walking in endless sunshine. However, in many ways it was fortunate there was little possibility of spending a lot of time outside. It's been an amazing television summer.

From the beginning of April, and even before that, it was necessary to watch the many hours of live televised coverage of the Leveson Enquiry.

"The first part will examine the culture, practices and ethics of the media. In particular, Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians."

This enquiry turned out to be a fascinating carnival of scumbags and professional liars, all rehearsed to the nth degree by their highly paid advisors and spin doctors to find every possible way of avoiding giving truthful answers to the Enquiry's questions, and if all else failed, to simply say, "I can't remember" and "I don't recall".

Leveson was supposed to examine the culture and the ethics of our media, but the use of  words like "culture" and "ethics" in relation to the majority of our predominantly nasty, supine and obsequious media is quite amusing. For "culture" read "the habitual practice of distorting the truth and whenever possible distracting the nation from anything that really matters in our national life". For "ethics" read "willingness to lie, distort, trivialise and smear; tendency to spread alarm, confusion, mystification and fear".

Throughout this spring and summer the government of Great Britain has stuck doggedly to Plan A, with all the obvious and predictable consequences. The 'rolling back' of the State and the trashing of public services has made an appalling and unnecessary economic depression even worse than it already was. The Labour party is not wrong to say that the Tories have been cutting "too far and too fast", but they are very wrong and very guilty in their collusion with the very notion that our public services should have been cut AT ALL.

Any economist with half a brain (ie those who resisted the nonsense of the neo-conservatives and the Friedmanite Chicago School) understands that in a time of recession and a failure of the private sector to invest in the British economy you need to spend MORE on public services and not LESS if you wish to avoid deflating the economy and prevent a recession from turning into a depression. For fuck's sake - we learned that lesson back in the 1930s, thanks to Keynes and Roosevelt.

For some months now we've even had the International Monetary Fund - never a hotbed of progressive liberalism - gently nudging Cameron, Osborne and Clegg towards a Plan B, and the engagement of some common sense in their economic policies. For 'common sense' read 'lack of willful stupidity and ignorance'. Even the IMF, which runs the whole globalised economy hand in glove with the World Bank, recognises that the last thing the world needs is for one its important engines of finance and potential economic growth (ie GB PLC) to crash even further into depression at a time when the worldwide economy needs reflation and growth.

What the IMF may not recognise, however, is that Cameron and Osborne, and their little chum Clegg, are acting out of an ideological conviction that cares little for world stability and economic growth. The limits of their ambitions are to ensure the prosperity of the City of London's financial institutions, and therefore of themselves and all their fat cat chums -  protected, supported and even further enriched in the face of the shitstorm that's already happening.

Contrast this with the more sensible and honest conservative leaders of Europe and the USA (i.e. Merkel and Obama) who have a real concern with the proper long-term functioning of the international capitalist system. For fuck's sake - these European conservatives are even implementing a Tobin Tax on financial transactions. Obviously our Tories will have nothing to do with this tax since it's something their pals in the City have told them they must never do.

Meanwhile the banking scandals have continued, with Barclays being busted for their criminal manipulation of Libor, RBS busted for helping drugs cartels to launder money, and now Standard Chartered busted for their well-paid assistance to Iran to avoid financial restrictions and sanctions. Ethics? In Britain? In Westminster and the City of London? Don't make us laugh.


Now where was I? Oh yes - the summer of television.

Euro 2012 took place between June 8th and July 1st. England, as expected, were pathetic, and were knocked out as soon as they came up against a decent team. Spain, as expected, were the winners, beating Italy 4-0 in the final.

Wimbledon took place between 25th June and July 8th, and ended with Roger Federer's record-breaking win over Andy Murray. Roger's a phenomenon, and almost an honorary Brit. We love his decency, self-control, thoughtfulness, modesty, and of course his brilliance.

The Tour de France took place between June 30th and July 22nd. Bradley Wiggins and Chris Frome rode brilliantly, and finished in first and second places. Mark Cavendish, the other star member of the first British team to win the Tour, was also phenomenal - even though his team's support for sprint finishes was necessarily minimal, since winning the General Classification was the stated aim of the team. However, Cavendish was strong enough and fit anough by the end of the tour to win a sprint finish immediately before the final Time Trial (won by Wiggins by a mile) and also able to win for a record 4 times in a row on the final sprint-finish stage on the Champs Elysees.

And finally - the Olympics. The games took place between 27th July and 12th August. Having been drawn into compulsive watching of the Olympics four years ago by the Beijing opening ceremony, it was anticipated that these 2012 Games in London would also be addictive and compulsive. And so it turned out.

Bearing in mind that Oxzen is not a sports fanatic, usually watching very little in the way of live football, cricket, athletics, etc, and doesn't subscribe to any premium sports TV channels - it's been a very odd and very enjoyable summer. And there's still 10 days of the paralympics to come. In short, it's been distracting, fascinating, refreshing, relaxing, often exciting, and a lot of fun.

I was about to write something about last night's abysmal and embarrassing Olympics closing ceremony, but on reflection I won't. No point in ending this particular piece on a negative and sour note.



Random tracks of the day, thanks to Media Player:

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag - James Brown
Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds
Happiness is a Warm Gun - John Lennon/Beatles
Blues to Elvin -  John Coltrane
Work  -  Bob Marley

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