Sunday, November 27, 2016

No child left behind.

The successful outcomes benefit from sophisticated monitoring and advanced data analysis, a continuous stream of the latest intelligence, distant human piloting and decisive engagement.

No child left behind.

The board meets to congratulate themselves on yet another successful year.

Training budgets for apprentices are up.

Local schools are flourishing.

Unemployment is at a new low.

Faith in freedom is reborn.

The president cuts the ribbon for a new line.

The people come to wave their flags and cheer.

No child left behind.

I watched as the young people around me froze.

A deathly silence fell upon us.

The camera moved around the room.

Chairs and tables had been overturned.

People seemed as if suspended in the air.

All activity stopped.

Nobody was laughing now.

No child left behind.

I looked at the data in the spreadsheet.

1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.

It was marvellous news.

I tweeted to my colleagues in the UK.

The students seemed to be engaged with their distant correspondents.

Isn't this what we call "a global classroom"?

Don't we need a [global] "village to educate a child"?

No child left behind.

I concentrated my energy on the person behind the zero.

He was a high level sportsman..

That was what explained the zero.

Column 5 - Date.

Column 6 - 1 for presence 0 for absence.

He had done the work.

I didn't have a trace.

Fantasies fill the void.

"He's not interested in my classes."

"He's doesn't care about my subject."

"I am the One with power."

"Zero! He's worth zero."

Fantasies fill the void.

Dialogue 1 - 1 was facilitated by the tools.

Dialogue 1 - 1 helped us to build respect.

Dialogue 1 - 1 moved us to another place.

No child left behind.

Tools extend our reach.

Maps extend our reach.

Words extend our reach.

I look at the blog statistics.

"Touches of sense..."

142, 000 hits.

No child left behind.

Ronald reminded me.

@sensor63 Searching for children of Native Americans and aboriginals to bring them to the institutions to take their own culture out of them
— Ronald_2008 (@ronald_2008) November 27, 2016

I watched the video again.

No child left behind.

I did a search for Australia.

Education down under is nothing if not inclusive.

I watched Walkabout on Youtube with an English rose.

I watched the test match.

We won the ashes.

No child left behind.

"I reconciled myself to separation."

We learnt about 1066 and all that.

Shall we ever venture into  "Noman's land."?

We learnt to march.

We learnt to drill.

We learnt to bat.

We did "Target Practice."

Teachers inspired us.

Teachers abused us.

Teachers thrashed us "Behind closed doors."

We escaped an instant the day of the deluge.

No child left behind.

We have a common core, a common culture.

Standards are kept.

Competition is fierce.

Money speaks.

Scores cards are tallied.

Numbers never lie.

No child left behind.

I read Terry's post.

I listen to the song.

"Road to nowhere."

I tweet a response.

I see Kevin's response.

That gets me thinking.

Fantasy fills the void.

I think back to Kevin's tweet.

"We are on the road to somewhere...."

I think back to the spreadsheet.

No child left behind.

"We are on the road to somewhere..."

No child left behind.

I think back to the spreadsheet.

I think of all those zeros...all those ones.

At times, I despair.

"I do not think words alone will solve humanity's present problems. The sound of bombs drowns out men's voices. In times of peace I have great faith in the communication of ideas among thinking men, but today, with brute force dominating so many millions of lives, I fear that the appeal to man's intellect is fast becoming virtually meaningless."

Albert Einstein.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Men in iron masks.

"We show the room where the man in the iron mask was imprisoned for seventeen years, it's quite big, has a vaulted ceiling and is lit by a single window. It is perhaps the only place on the island which is dark and cool, at the time of the year when we were visiting, we could appreciate the shade all the more, but the contrast of this darkness with the startling light which floods the bay and the wonderful amphitheatre of the Var mountains, must have worsened the sadness of the poor prisoner."

Hang dog.

He sat there alone, a beaten dog, his whole being was caving in on the chair. Each time he attempted to verbalise, his eyes welled up, his shoulders dropped, it was all that he could do not to sob.

He could see no further than the bars.

We were his jailers.

He was waiting for the bullet.

Burning in hell.

"You were in a bad way." she said.

I knew that to be true.

I let it bleed.

I could say it.

Who might listen, I didn't care.

I could say it.

I could shriek it.

It was a first step.

Hang dog.

"It's OK to cry," I said,  

"I spent months unable to do more than weep."

"I know it is not OK."

"It is shit."

"It is worse than shit."

"That is where you are."

"I know."

While we can, while we are not threatened in our candour, let us weep.

In that box.

There was a dark stain on the faded wall-paper.

We sat watching the stain, it did not move.

We looked at the the place where the TV had been before its repossession.

We became suddenly aware of the poverty of the decoration.

Angular, low ceiled, square windowed, we saw the ugliness of "social" architecture for what it was.

We were in the box marked: "Trash".

"Things can always get worse," I said.

All amusement had been stripped away.

Chains of sorrow.

I read the bleakness of my friend's words.

"I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with black hair
And my head shouted down to my heart
“You better look out below!”
Hey, it ain’t such a long drop don’t stammer don’t stutter
From the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
And you carry those bruises to remind you wherever you go."

It had taken a while to summon the courage, to return there.

We insulate ourselves.

We hope for better.

Until the train crash.

They record the facts.

We are the small print.

On the railroad.

I am propped up, my face gazing at reflections, stuck to the pane of the carriage window.  Condensation mists my view, water drops slide down the glass like so many tears. 

All is darkness.

Little lights, 
Of little lives, 
Of little homes, 
Rush by.

I catch glimpses of family life.

I catch glimpses of bedsit life.

I imagine, fights, parties, laughter, anger, birth and grief.

My mind reaches out an instant, and then they are gone, gone into the darkness.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We are never met.

Men in iron masks.

There are those who have a black heart, who revel in a living death.

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” 

Dorothy Parker

Wealth is just deserts.

Poverty is indigestion.

You are the shit.

You don't like it?

They don't like it.

It's an annoyance.

"Be happy to live, dog!"

"Your fucking misery is polluting the mediterrenean."

"Die, drown, weep but not on my fucking beach."

There was a time, their gloves were velvety Dolce and Gabbana.

Now their gloves are off.

They have iron fists.

They have iron hearts.

They have iron souls.

They have iron bars to ruin any view.

Weep, so that they may rust and rot...

A hidden message.

Three hundred years later, we walked into the cell.

We saw a little hole in the painted wall. 

We stretched up, poked a stick in the hollow. 

Pulling the stick back, we drew out a bundle of manuscripts tied up in string.

The bundle belonged to an Irish prisoner.

We took it out into the light to inspect it.

Half written in English, half written in French.

The words of Andrew Mac Donagh spell


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Maya Angelou. I know why the caged bird sings.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” 

Virginia Woolf.  A room of one's own.

Steel my poem friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016














"If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way."

Emile Zola.

"The umpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

"There should be equality among all people save only the king. There should be no serfdom and all men should be free and of one condition. We will be free forever, our heirs and our lands."

Wat Tyler.

"Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

"If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation."

Vaclav Havel.

"The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anti-colonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance.  What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be."

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth.

"Once the rage explodes, they recover their lost coherence,they experience self-knowledge through the reconstruction of themselves; from afar we see their war as the triumph of barbarity; but it proceeds on its own to gradually emancipate the fighter and progressively eliminates the colonial darkness inside and out. As soon as it begins it is merciless. Either one must remain terrified or become terrifying - which means surrendering to the dissociations of a fabricated life or conquering the unity of one's native soil. When the peasants lay hands on a gun, the old myths fade, and one by one the taboos are overturned: a fighter's weapon is his humanity. For in the first phase of the revolt killing is a necessity: killing a European is killing two birds with one stone, eliminating in one go oppressor and oppressed: leaving one man dead and the other man free."

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth.

"Although the scythe isn't pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end, of, say, a peasants' revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome."

Terry Pratchett.

"Zombies, believe me, are more terrifying than colonists."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth.

"Get this into your head: if violence were only a thing of the future, if exploitation and oppression never existed on earth, perhaps displays of nonviolence might relieve the conflict. But if the entire regime, even your nonviolent thought, is governed by a thousand-year old oppression, your passiveness serves no other purpose but to put you on the side of the oppressors."

Jean Paul Sartre.

Image Credit

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The canary falls silent.

"Artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive.

They are super sensitive.

They keel over like canaries in coal mines filled with poison gas, long before any robust types realize that any danger is there. "

Kurt Vonnegut (1974)

I am writing this two days after Leonard Cohen went and snuffed it.

Cup your hand to ear and listen.

Can you hear anything?


Me neither. 


Your first line of defence has just fallen off its perch, it's kicked the bucket, it's an ex-canary, dead, dead as the stuffed fucking Norwegian Blue. 

Ha ha ha ha.

Fucking comic ain't it?

Don't you just love those wacky Oxbridge guys?

Now for something completely different.

This time we are not joking.

This time it is deadly serious.

If we are fucking lucky, the canary is just faking it, waiting for us to take action, before it is too late.

You think I am joking?

I had a short conversation with a French friend of mine who has two young adopted Ethiopian kids, one of the young kids was worried about Trump being elected.

Pfff, shouldn't worry the kids about the bogey man, Trump's in the US.  

She has good reason for fear. 

Hate crimes are on the increase.

Systemic racism is not a tall tale you tell to kids...

Down the mine.

I went to see "I Daniel Blake" of Ken Loach 

The situation depicted in the film is not a tall tale.

Close family members - mine -  live in fear of having their benefits cut, of being told that they have to go back to work. 

Sit, shut the fuck up and listen.

It's difficult to imagine a gnawing chronic stress that eats away at your being.

It's all so distant from a privileged existence.

"They can't ask someone mentally ill to go back to work, can they?" I think.

Daniel Blake keels over. 

Others are rotting in the streets.

"Nasty, nasty, depressing stuff, stop spoiling the party." I hear some say.

"We need to be positive (and do fuck all)."

They kill the fucking canary (mocking bird) don't they?

Close family members (mine) fear for their well-being walking down the street in the evening.

You or I walk down the street, we whistle free as a bird, no risk for us.

Close family members try to shrug off abuse, violent attack, assault and battery.

They don't want to worry us.

They fall silent.

How can we understand their suffering?

Jesse Stommel speaks for those in my family who lie low.

I thank him.

I think of kids - mine. (this is not a fucking rhetorical device).

"Nasty, nasty depressing stuff, oh stop spoiling the party." I hear some say.

"We need to be positive (and do fuck all)."

Listen to the bloody canary before it falls silent.

The canary falls silent.

I read a post of Sean Michael Morris entitled "Nothing to Say."

"The truth is, I have nothing to say. It’s not that I don’t have words, or that my thoughts do not fly up. It’s that the angry stare with which I must now consider you—an unknown stranger who may have used your vote as a hate crime—is too firm to let out anything but vitriol. And there cannot be more vitriol. The air cannot bear it. Nor do I know if anyone deserves the thoughts I am thinking."

Sean Michael Morris

I thank him for his silence.

You may shrug your shoulders and think:

"I am not a canary, I am not a miner, I don't need a canary, I am safe [add place where you feel safe/home/countryside/ivory tower/in my whiteness/in my privilege etc etc]."

If you were to do so, you would be unwise my friend.

The Sentinel.

There are those in our world who are our sentinels.

Sentinel species are organisms, often animals, used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warning of a danger. The terms primarily apply in the context of environmental hazards rather than those from other sources. Some animals can act as sentinels because they may be more susceptible or have greater exposure to a particular hazard than humans in the same environment.[1] People have long observed animals for signs of impending hazards or evidence of environmental threats. Plants and other living organisms have also been used for these purposes.

The sentinels, our sentinels, far from being strong and mighty, are vulnerable.

Their voices are drowned out.

And yet.

And yet.

We depend on them for our survival.

Some, we have put in little cages of our own making.

There are those in our world who would put them to sleep.

There are those in our world who would have you sleep.

They will say: "Look we don't live in a mine, we have no need for canaries."

They will say: "There is no risk of toxic gas, up here above the shaft."

Don't listen to them, the gas is not only toxic, it is omnipresent.

Don't take my word for it?

Take a look at the fiercesomely named Thylacine, Tasmanian Wolf, Tasmanian Tiger.

You wouldn't fancy your chances if you came face to face with it.

Difficult to categorise that poor beast really, they named it a "canivorous marsupial".

Wow fancy!

Beautiful ain't it?

Dead now, dead, dead dead like the proverbial dodo.

It ain't faking it...unless it's bloody good at hiding.

No risk to any beast now.

Data control and look outs.

Of course you may not recognise the need to take care of canaries.

You may feel you have a great system of warning.

You may want to close yourself up in the comfort of your room/privilege.

You may want to rely on any of the following, as forewarning for danger:

Your Facebook feeds
Your Intellectual Idiot Facebook friends
The liberal media
[Add to list]

"Digital Redlining  After Trump: Real news and fake news on Facebook"

"The Intellectual Yet Idiot."

"Dangerous idiots: how the liberal media elite failed working class Americans."

The fucking boat sinks

Let's take our minds off things and watch a movie.

"Where's the popcorn?"

At this very moment, I kid you not, there's Celine Dion blaring out from my TV.

Sorry, you hate the song?

You didn't have to click the bait.

Haven't seen the movie?

You wanna know the story?

Here's a spoiler:

The fat cats think their vessel is insubmersible.

The fucking boat sinks.

Leonardo diCaprio, him of the golden locks and flamboyant name, dies.



Ha! Ha!

Leonardo diCaprio, him of the golden locks, and flamboyant name, sings like a canary too.


Boo, hiss, cheer, weep, our hearts will go on.

Some of the bad guys get away - it makes for a good story - you get to boo.

Some of the bad guys get drowned - it makes for a good story - you get to cheer.

The old lady gets to twinkle her eyes - you get to weep.


This is not fucking Hollywood we are talking about here.

People are already fucking drowning on the lower decks of our fucking boat.

We, the spectators are ignoring their cries.

We are locking the fucking barred doors.

We are shooting the ones who are threatening to get out.

On the upper decks.

Think this is cinema?

Still not concerned for your own safety?

Still ignoring the sentinels' cries?

Pretending to be deaf are you?

Let me tell you a story.

I went to Poland and visited Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

I learned the story of what happens when a fascist force confronts academics.

On the arrival of the Nazi occupation force, the academics attempted to carry on as before.

This interim period lasted a few weeks.

Then the academics got moved to new premises.

The Nazis had a plan, they called it "Sonderaktion Krakau"

"Visiting professor explains nazi persecution of academics"

You think such times are past us?

Look at Turkey.

"Turkey's purge of academics leads to record asylum requests."

You think it only happens elsewhere?

Think what you will.

Care for canaries, heed their cries.

Care for canaries, our sentinel species!

You don't need to go on Facebook or Twitter, or go to Poland.

You don't need to listen to Celine Dion or watch the Titanic on TV...again.

You MUST NOT take my word for it.

You MUST look for them around you.

They may be shy, fearful creatures.

They may not make a sound.

They may feign death.

You may, at first, not understand their cries.

Take time to try to make out what they are saying.

Take that time.

Take your time.

You depend on them for your well-being.

Cherish them.

Don't let them fall silent.

Heed their warnings.

Act accordingly.

We are living in toxic times.

Want to ignore this call?

Another canary drops off its perch.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Out of the shadows.

Out of the shadows they come, the bogeymen, the orcs, the foul hoards.

Nothing will stop their thirst for blood.

Their vile fantasies drive them on.

Their shrieks haunt your nightmares.

They crave darkness, they await the moment to be unleashed on the helpless.

"A depressingly long list of hateful attacks shared online since Trump's election."

Mordor is not some distant land, it lies in our hearts and minds.

There is a black wind blowing.

“Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land.” 

J.R.R. Tolkien.

The devil has a debonair charm, he lulls us with his eloquence, his messages of hope, we drop our guards, we look up with shiny eyes.

It was ever thus.

The privileged have an easy way with words.

Give them enough rope.

The menu is tempting, the table dressed, we sigh in expectation.  

Not for us the shit, the blood, the last shudder of the beast in the abattoir. 

Nothing so fucking vulgar.

We are so fucking educated.

"In bourgeois society itself, all exchange of personal services for revenue — including labour for personal consumption, cooking, sewing etc., garden work etc., up to and including all of the unproductive classes, civil servants, physicians, lawyers, scholars etc. — belongs under this rubric, within this category. All menial servants etc. By means of their services — often coerced — all these workers, from the least to the highest, obtain for themselves a share of the surplus product, of the capitalist’s revenue.
But it does not occur to anyone to think that by means of the exchange of his revenue for such services, i.e. through private consumption, the capitalist posits himself as capitalist. Rather, he thereby spends the fruits of his capital. It does not change the nature of the relation that the proportions in which revenue is exchanged for this kind of living labour are themselves determined by the general laws of production."

Marx, The Grundrisse (1857)

We don't get our hands dirty.

We don't have a rope in the house to hang ourselves.

We'd have to settle for the fucking computer cable.

“I’m going to kill myself,” he told his wife more than once over the next few weeks.
One rainy winter day, he found a rope, tied a noose and threw it over a high beam in the barn."
Do we stop one instant and wonder how the meat got on our plate?
Do we stop one instant and have a thought for the source of our comfort?
Do we stop one instant and question the origins of the tools of our digital literacy?

We are so fucking educated.

We still believe in make believe.

If we have the easy life there are others who will pay the bill.

"The secret anguish of the French farmer."

We will live off the land, we have no sure footing,we are free like air.

"All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned ..."

Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848)

Others will pay the bill.

We don't need to build a wall.

We already have walls in our minds.

They are so high, they are so historically thick, we have no time to tear them down.

Let the scum build the wall to protect our privilege.

We great nations, great democracies, land of the free.

"What is free trade, what is free trade under the present condition of society? It is freedom of capital. When you have overthrown the few national barriers which still restrict the progress of capital, you will merely have given it complete freedom of action. ...

But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade."

Marx & Engels, On Free Trade (1848)

We great nations, great democracies, land of the drones, the hell-fire missiles, the stealth fighters.

Let the uncouth go and fight our battles so that we may decorate them and offer crocodile tears.

We will smash all, we will terrorise all.

We are so fucking educated.

We will stand in triumph and light the fire for the forgotten, for the unknown soldier.

We will not weep the alien child.

Unfortunate casualties die in a war for our freedom.

These are not strikes, hits, or casualties, they are your fucking children.

I tuck into a hearty meal, I cut into the meat delicately, I engage in intellectual pursuits.

On the TV the French president is lighting the fire for the unknown soldier under L'Arc de Triomphe.

What is this fucking Triomphe?

Meanwhile men, women and children die in their fucking wars.

Kill the pig.

They will stop at nothing to amass the mobs, to smash the freaks, to preen their crass carcasses.

They are smug in their towers, protected by their gorillas, fawned upon by their lackeys.

They are easy in their life-long struggle for the dispossessed while speculating to accumulate.

You don't need to understand Latin.


We are all so fucking educated.

We need to start questioning how it is that we are so comfortable while others are throwing ropes over trees.

We need to start questioning how it is that we accept to take our eyes of the real problem.


We are not free if we subject others to slavery.

You want it darker?

If you are the dealer, I'm out of the game

If you are the healer, it means I'm broken and lame

If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

I'm ready, my lord
There's a lover in the story

But the story's still the same

There's a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it's written in the scriptures
And it's not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame
They're lining up the prisoners

And the guards are taking aim

I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn't know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

I'm ready, my lord

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the love that never came

You want it darker
We kill the flame
If you are the dealer, let me out of the game

If you are the healer, I'm broken and lame

If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni

Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

Hineni, hineni

You want it darker?

“Those who are against fascism without being against capitalism, who lament over the barbarism that comes out of barbarism, are like people who wish to eat their veal without slaughtering the calf. They are willing to eat the calf, but they dislike the sight of blood. They are easily satisfied if the butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat. They are not against the property relations which engender barbarism; they are only against barbarism itself. They raise their voices against barbarism, and they do so in countries where precisely the same property relations prevail, but where the butchers wash their hands before weighing the meat.”

Bertolt Brecht