Stop the World – I want to get off

Am I the only sane person on this planet?

At the present moment there is 11 times more financial instruments being traded worldwide than the total World GDP. A massive bubble waiting to burst. Here in Australia private debt is 250% of GDP, and yet, in order to buy a house young couples are being encouraged to extend themselves, and borrow 8 times their joint incomes.

Yet the cause of the most recent Global Financial Crisis was the Banks and investment houses selling mortgages that they knew people could not afford (i.e. they committed fraud) and then bet against those toxic financial instruments so that they made billions when they failed. And nobody went to jail.

And the IMF have admitted that they allowed Greece to draw down 2,000 times more than the agreed safe borrowing limit. And, of course, nobody can find the papers on that, or who was responsible for signing it off.

Stop the World I want to get off.

Now the neo-liberal urban elite are decrying BREXIT, in spite of the fact that there are already 8.5 million immigrants in the UK, with more to come, in a country about a third the size of New South Wales, with a permanent population of 60 million. And the much vaunted trade with Europe is running at a Euros 89 Billion deficit per year for the UK. The EU is dominated by an anti-British bureacracy in Brussels, run by a drunken old fool, that has actively encouraged, and funded the transfer of British manufacturing and technology across to Eastern Europe.

Stop the World I want to get off.

And now on a global basis it is predicted that Robotics, and the “Internet of Everything” will be a new Industrial (Digital) Revolution that will throw millions of people out of work. And still we hear that Globalization – a euphemism for Americanization – the only way for mankind to proper.

Are we all going to emulate a society whose only philosophy is “Get rich quick”? A violent society riven by racism, where almost every citizen owns a gun: with 20,000 gun murders a year (including massacres in schools, colleges and gay clubs), with 200,000 aggravated assaults and 200,000 (reported) rapes a year – where 2.5 million citizens are in jail with a further 1 Million on parole – and where the President and Commander in Chief of 40% of the world’s miltary with his/her finger on the trigger is either going to be an ego-maniac jingoist with a ridiculous combover, or a crazed geriatric chipmunk with an adulterous husband: a Wall Street puppet whose CV is littered with shady business dealings who has shown ignorance of, or cavalier disregard for, even the most basic disciplines of national security.

Stop the World I want to get off.

But I guess it was always so. Look at the chaos in the Middle East, whose past is littered with fools, carpetbaggers, despots, religious zealots and power crazed politicians – and outright thieves. If you want insights into how it got into such a mess read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

It is a linked series of character studies of archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-addled teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

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Treating the Symptoms . . .

Anybody who has been reading my blogs will know my favourite saying by now. After spending 25 years in The British Library analysing World History Karl Marx’s succinct analysis was:

“History repeats itself – first time tragedy, second time farce.”

The bloody French, of course, express it more elegantly:
“Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”
(The more things change, the more they stay the same)

And here down under in Australia among the Bogans and the Blodgers the Think Tanks are postulating (predicting) that the War on Terror will last the whole of the 21st century, and maybe beyond.
What they are talking about of course is not a war on terror but the Clash of Cultures between Islam and America’s neo-Con free market capitalism. And that war will continue as long as the USA persists in its unconditional support for Israel; its attempt to impose their barbaric “survival of the fittest” society on the World to crack open markets for their Coca Cola Big Mac culture; the pillage of the natural resources of the Third World (oil, hardwood, white fish etc.) – and in the process assassinating elected leaders, deposing legitimate governments, and bombing the sh*t out of anybody who dares to oppose them.
Saddam Hussein, by Middle Eastern standards an enlightened and secular despot, was deposed and replaced with an atavistic and vengeful Shia government that has split the country wide open on religious and tribal fault lines. Al-Qa’eda was degraded and rendered manageable (but not defeated) – but in its place like a Phoenix (or more exactly like the Lernaean HYDRA, the multi headed serpent of Greek mythology that protected the gates of Hades) has grown the much more ferocious and well organized ISIS. And when ISIS is finally downgraded (but not defeated) by a ferocious assault that will kill thousands and maim and shatter the lives of millions (reminiscent of Israel’s ferocious assaults on The Gaza Strip) that will only deepen the hatred of all things American, what will rise in its place will be an even more barbaric and fervent fundamental version of Islam.
My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” that was first published 3 years ago grew out of a play that I wrote 16 years ago when I was living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In spite of a successful rehearsed reading at the Soho Theatre in London, theatre managers would not produce it because they found the climax (the honour killing of a young Muslim woman and the beheading of an American) far too violent. Yet a few years later we had the grisly beheading of Daniel Pearle, and honour killings and female suicide bombers are commonplace, and the barbaric actions of ISIS, including crucifixions, now make my play look tame.
If you want an insight into the disease that afflicts The West’s relationship with the Middle East and its complexity from an expatriate perspective, preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:
http://www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards
and download it if you have a Kindle.
Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:
http://www.thebookdepository.co.uk
The ISBN number is 978-1908147097
They offer free delivery worldwide.

The sound of Axes being Ground is DEAFENING (Part 2)

Following on from my comments on the MH370 hijacking I had completely forgotten that the Prologue to my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” starts from the premise of a possible hijack that causes the protagonist, a world weary journalist who thinks he is about to die (and is not unhappy about that), to review his life in the Middle East – and the roller coaster ride of his past life in all of its exhilarating and frightening diversity in that atavistic and brutal part of the world.

This was my fictional means to present a series of linked stories that are authentic and journalistic based on events that I witnessed myself, or were reported to me by reliable sources. Each story features a character typical of the sorts of expatriate who wash up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for whatever reason. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances trying to survive in a rapidly changing and hostile world.

It is in such situations that the surprising strength (or weakness) of characters shows through – revealing the truth.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

The sound of Axes being ground . . . is DEAFENING

Normally I do not comment on current affairs that are not directly related to my particular interest (obsession)with the Arabian/Persian Gulf. However I do have some personal experience of the type of situation that now surrounds the disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370.

Early in my career I was in charge of SHELL’s jet fuel quality control laboratory at Heathrow airport. During that time a BA jet that we had fuelled crashed just after take-off killing everybody on board. Within a few days my laboratory was swarming with an accident investigation team that included engineers from the airframe and engine manufacturers.

I was amazed, and scared, of how aggressive they were. They demanded all my documentation and fuel samples. Fortunately my documentation and fuel quality was perfect – and one of the Government investigators took me on one side and explained their attitude. Because of the millions of dollars involved in potential lawsuits and loss of business, they were not looking for the truth – they were looking for somebody to shoulder the blame. And in these situations they usually blame the pilot, because he is dead and cannot defend himself. And that is what happened in my case, and is happening now with MH370. Every effort is being made to blame the poor pilot.

To me it is a bungled hijack. Somebody with flying experience took over the plane, but unlike the 9/11 hijackers did not have the skills. Hence the rapid rise to 42,000 feet and then the descent to 5,000 feet, and then the crazy navigation that took them out over open ocean until they ran out of fuel. Presumably the hijacker(s) were supposed to head for Australia, or The Maldives, or Sri Lanka to land and make their demands.

In my career in the international oil industry I travelled millions of miles on long haul jets – and experienced several frightening emergencies. One such emergency, when my flight was hit by lightning and tipped on its side and fell 1,000 feet, I have used as a basis of a story in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is only in such situations that the true strength or weakness of characters shows through.

The book is a series of stories spanning 40 years about the archetypical characters who wash up in The Arabian/Persian Gulf trying to survive in a rapidly changing world. They are people drawn to a highly paid and dangerous life-on-the-edge where men are men and women are no better than they ought to be.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

GAY is the saddest euphemism in the English Language

          For the past 20 years or so there has been a media campaign on behalf of homosexuals that verges on the hysterical. And nowhere is that hysteria more evident than in the Gay Pride parades (and Pride is one of the 7 Deadly Sins – “When pride comes so comes disgrace, with humility so comes wisdom” ) in cities like Sydney, London and SanFrancisco that are fake copies of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

          Carnival grew out from the desperately poor people of the favelas who had no earthly way of achieving a fulfilled life. So they scraped together whatever they could beg borrow or steal and once a year dressed up and lost themselves for a week in a frenzy of samba music and dance and alcohol before returning once again the their miserable existence. And in that sense Gay Pride is similar. It is a desperate attempt to escape misery, while vainly claiming that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality.

          This is clearly nonsense because heterosexual relationships produce the miracle of new life –  life that will carry forward new generations – and heterosexuals have no need to parade their their sexuality.     

Strangely enough in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” –  a series of stories about the misfits who wash up in The Arabian/ Persian Gulf – I do not deal with the issue of homosexuality because, in spite of the isolation of all male oil camps I only ever encountered one man who was possibly homosexual.

          Clive was my assistant project manager on a process plant commissioning project on a remote island in the Persian Gulf. He was an apparently rugged male, a combative and aggressive rugby scrum half – and he certainly never wore designer clothes – yet he formed close relationships with the young Arab males who worked as waiters and cleaners in our camp. He bought them (fake) Rolexes and Cartier tank watches, and brought them nice M&S clothing from the UK. Yet never once in the year I shared a trailer with him did he stay out at night, or bring any of the boys back to our trailer.

          So was Clive gay, or was he just a Westerner with a sense of guilt/highly developed social conscience? He was murdered in The Bahamas a year later trying to seperate two locals in a knife fight. I didn’t write Clive’s story, and maybe I should have done, because he was very decent human being.

          My book concentrates on American, British, Filipino and Indian expatriate misfits – VietNam vets, divorcees now remarried to Asian whores, marathon running addicts, college dropouts who love the lonely and atavistic desert etc. –  who wash up in The Gulf for whatever reason. And it puts their lives into a geo-political context.

You can preview my book at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a KINDLE. If you do not, or you prefer a real book you can order from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

They offer free delivery worldwide

 

Moors & Christians go Hollywood

Yesterday I blogged about the MOROS y CRISTIANOS Fiesta in our small Mediterranean town in Spain saying nobody wants to be a Christian because, while the Moors dress up in splendid robes and jewels and swagger down the avenida smoking fine Cuban cigars, the Christians drag along in grey chain mail and a white sheet with a red cross. Well they have solved the recruitment problem.

After a 10 year gap I attended the grand parade last evening and the Christians now swagger first down the avenida smoking cigars and dressed up in shiny armour and winged helmets that owe more to Darth Vader than history – in fact the whole parade in typically Hollywood fashion sacrifices history for effect and became more like glamorous Carnival in Rio.

The parade started with beautiful jet-black Andalucian stallions being ridden at high speed up and down the avenida, stopping occasionally to prance and dance. These are the tallest and most elegant horses you have ever seen – and they still have the pretty head and arched neck of their much smaller Arab thoroughbred ancestors. And the riders dressed like Russell Crowe in GLADIATOR.

Then came ranks of Christian soldiers looking very aggressive in their body armour carrying pikes and huge halberds and accompanied by bands playing with thunderous drumming, wailing fifes and triumphant sounding brass (the Spanish love noise but Alhamdulillah [Thanks to God] we were spared fireworks).

I thought Christianity was about peace and love, but these Christians, particularly the Knights Templars in their faces hidden behind highly polished medieval helmets with the pointed visors closed, and white banners with a black Maltese Cross, looked fuller of hate than love. And then a break from history: ranks of female soldiers with polished breast plates suitably modified and lots of flashing thigh between leather knee boots and micro- mini skirts.

And then another break with history:

A flock of geese being herded by two beautiful young maidens clad only in sackcloth (vestal virgins?), followed by simple little carts pulled by mules and containing goats and attended by more maidens throwing packets of raisins to the crowd – and then donkey carts being attended by Mexican peasants??????

But the Moors had the finale:

First a succession of scantily clad dancing girls waving flimsy veils around their bodies – how did Salome get in there? – or possibly they represented the concubines of the Harem? And close on their heels came the resplendent ranks of Moors looking much less warlike than the Christians, and hell bent on enjoying life. (Let’s face it the dancing girls were just ahead). And the same loud and insistent drumming, and the fifes now playing the sliding quarter tone Arab scales and not the Celtic pentatonics of the Christians – and the brass less triumphant but shouting defiance.

And then the grand finale:

A splendid Caliph in all of his pomp riding a huge ornate float pulled by two magnificent brown bulls (the ultimate Mediterranean symbol of masculine virility) attended by a bodyguard on a camel that also pranced and danced. The camel had  multi-coloured hand woven tribal saddle bags and tassles – and the dark skinned rider had the sky blue head dress of the TUAREG – the fiercely independent North African nomad.

            For all of its Hollywoodization this Fiesta still has meaning. It is a symbol of the ongoing ideological struggle between Christianity and Islam. But there is no animosity. No priests or Imams or mullahs are to be seen – and after the parade the Moors and the Christians pull the turbans and helmets off their sweaty heads and drink a beer or three, and have  a few tapas in one of the many bars that line our Calle de Marques de Campos.

            These troops of Moors or Christians, and their associated bands, come from the villages in the hills that surround us. This is the highlight of their year. Throughout the year they meet weekly to design and make the costumes, to rehearse the band and the swaying slow march that owes a lot to the Saudi Arabian Bedouin sword dance.

            The women sew, the men march, and little children start at 4 on kettle drum or fife. Teenage girls play flute or clarinet or dance the Dance of the 7 veils (or these days of equality march as soldiers), and fathers play saxophone and grandfathers play trombone or tuba. This is what builds a community and anchors it to its history.

            In Sha’Allah (God Willing) this Fiesta will never die, and In Sha’Allah I will see it again before I die.

            If my love of human history – and its indomitable spirit of survival in spite of the actions of venal, corrupt and incompetent politicians – is showing, then I am glad. To find out more about how The West has screwed up its relations with the Middle East and Islam read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

You can preview it by following my URL:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it as an E-book if you have a Kindle, or you can buy it in paperback from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

They offer free delivery worldwide.