oil drone

Oil Drones

I was pondering the invasion of Iraq today, after reading the article above when it appeared in my Twitter feed. The invasion of Iraq kicked off when I was living in Dun Laoghaire so I watched in unfold from a different context.

But I was wondering how I would react if it had kicked off today with Thiepval Barracks nearby and me living here and armed forces being sent to fight in Iraq all in the name of ……well what exactly? The security of my family? Justice? ‘My country?’
Or lets face it, keeping the oil flowing.
Could I do anything about it? Should I do anything about it? Or would I just have to resign myself to these things happening and happening again.

All the churches here in Lisburn and what would we say about it? War is terrible but we just have to support the families and soldiers as best we can? Say that because we’re living in a different kingdom we don’t want people going over to another country fighting on our behalf.

I can’t think anymore, it’s depressing me.

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where the billionaires live

I was re-reading a book I love last night in bed and it got me thinking ‘Where do the top 100 richest people in the world live?’

So at midnight, armed with a list from Forbes and Google Maps I marked them on the map.

A few things caught my attention.

1) There are a lot of very rich men who call Moscow home.
2) There was only one in Japan and he was near the bottom of the list.
3) There was only one African in the Top 100 billionaires
4) There are a surprising amount around Mexico City.
5) The owners of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google are all there.

But two things are very noticeable
1) There are women represented but their wealth has been inherited or passed on. There are no self made female billionaires on the list.
According to Forbes ‘only 19 of the world’s billionaires (or 1.6%) are women who earned their money’.

I’m not sure why that surprised me, but I guess it did.
If money or wealth represents power, then power is male.

2) The other thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the US of A.
According to Forbes
‘There are now billionaires from 58 countries including ones from Peru, Morocco and Georgia. The U.S. is still home to more billionaires than any other nation, with 425, a dozen more than a year ago. Russia and mainland China follow behind. They have 96 and 95, respectively, down from 101 and 115.

So the USA can claim nearly 35 % of the world’s billionaires, Russia 7.8% and mainline China 7.7%.

If money/wealth represents power, then power is American. They’ve even increased the number of billionaires during all the stuff that has been going on with the economy.

The reason why I wondered is that I’m trying to work out if the USA really is the Roman empire of our day, the place where power is concentrated and controls the world or is just because I’ve been reading certain types of books that suggest that and are unbalanced.

Jesus and beef shin

The butcher looked genuinely happy to see me and kept on calling me ‘Sir‘.
Is that all sir?’ he said.
I started laughing and said ‘I’m not used to people calling me sir‘ and the butcher said that old habits are hard to break and that you would have got a slap on the head if you didn’t call people sir years ago.

I told him that I hadn’t noticed the butcher before and he said that there actually used to be another one in the village and then I thought I’d say the word ‘Tesco’ just to see what would happen and he said ‘Tesco? They just do whatever they want..’

I had a similar experience from my nearest butcher who said ‘Tesco? If they were running the country I’d vote for them tomorrow…but they’re hoods‘ ….or words to that effect.

The butcher I was talking to today was only too eager to help but thisĀ  made me sad because you got a sense that he was eager to make the most of every new customer that comes through the door and make sure it counts purely to make sure the business survives.
I’m glad he was nice but I hate to think that he’s having to be extra, extra nice and helpful because supermarkets have come in and taken his custom.
Maybe that is the law of business, the law of competition and fighting for customer share etc etc but it seems more like the powerful against the weak and it doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful for community as the people who can’t compete get left behind and forgotten about, and what is Christian about that?
Suddenly the street is boarded up and all the economic life has shifted to the other side of town, freedom and choice have disappeared from your town or village and another big box appears near a roundabout a few miles away.
G.K. Chesterton had this to say about big shops

The truth is that the monopolists’ shops are really very convenient–to the monopolist. They have all the advantage of concentrating business as they concentrate wealth, in fewer and fewer of the citizens. Their wealth sometimes permits them to pay tolerable wages; their wealth also permits them to buy up better businesses and advertise worse goods. But that their own goods are better nobody has ever even begun to show; and most of us
know any number of concrete cases where they are definitely worse.

All I’m saying is that although I only popped into this particular butcher for the first time today I care for him or worry about what will happen if the local supermarkets continue to drain business.
I would hate to think that because I chose to buy my meat in a supermarket (that already makes billions of pounds in profit per year) he would be struggling to make a living or make it work.

(rant coming…
Which makes me wonder why our local politicians think it’s a particularly good idea to charge extra for parking in towns. If you’re having a revenue shortfall don’t charge people for parking in their town centre while allowing planning permission for huge stores on the outskirts of town which don’t charge parking. Tax the huge stores per parking space per year if you are going to charge people for parking in a town centre or else don’t charge people for people for parking in town centres. Fair is fair.
There are few butchers in Lisburn city centre and it is no surprise because why would you circle around looking for a car parking space,
put in 30 or 40p,
walk 5mins to get to the butcher,
and then carry your meat back before the traffic warden snares you for being a few minutes late?
Why would someone be bothered when they couldĀ  just pop up to Tesco, park for free and run in and run out? )

battling the self scanning till machines

One the things I hate on the rare occasions when I have to go into Tesco or Asda is the way they try to shepherd me towards the self scanning till.
My mum has the dubious ‘honour’ of manning a set of these tills, of supervising the customer who does the work that someone else could be employed to do. Perhaps this is what annoys me the most.
By getting self scanning tills in store they have cut the workforce while getting the customer to do the work for free. This leads to increasing profits for the company and shareholders while putting more people out of work when the profits indicate that they could easily employ a few more people.

So from now on whenever I see a self scanning till I will refuse to use them even if it means queuing for a real life person.

The other thing I would love to do (if it could be easily organised by the willing) is to get people to use self scanning tills but only if they use 1p or 2p coins to pay for their purchase. So you would pop into Tesco at a busy time (say a Saturday morning) and buy your copy of The Times with 1p pieces. Then the next person would simply come and buy their bunch of bananas with their loose change. By now there should be a nice little tale back building and the machine should be getting clogged with loose change.

Then if any problems should arise just remind them of their motto ‘Every Little Helps’

So there