Elizabeth Coates

The life and times of a viewer

Hitting Pride Rock; Careful how you raise your Simba to the Sun

Dear Salmons,

I would assume you’re very familiar with the story of the Lion King. If not, I would recommend you watch it, it’s the best adaptation of Hamlet ever.

Well, it is. Hamlet Junior is Simba, Hamlet Senior is Mufasa and Claudius is Scar. If you wish to indulge your Lion King/Shakespeare/innocent curiosity, here is the essay on it. Disney took an ageless story and made a similarly ageless film. Recycling at its finest…not to mention Shakespeare took it from Plato.

So, the point of mentioning the Lion King? Bankers.

Yes, really.

The world market reminds me of the film The Lion King. The time of Mufasa is the time following the Dotcom boom; everything was growing, peaceful, wonderful…everyone was confident it was going to last forever. But no one noticed Scar selling sub-prime mortgages in the shadows; out of sight, out of mind.

But then trouble began to brew. Debt began to catch up on us all, and Simba traipsed a little too far away from what was safe with Nala on tow. Zazu tried to stop them, but it was soon too late.

Simba almost never became King, as the Wildebeast (that’s us, the consumers) heard that Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers were on their way down, and we stampeded down that valley, unmindful that we ran over the man who brought us that economic growth in the first place.

Simba was bundled away, like an economic refugee, and we bought into Scar, thinking he could save us with his austerity measures. But the Pride Lands dried up, didn’t they? Nothing could grow, because he was not the master of the lands, and the animals of the Pride Lands left, leaving only angry lionesses snarling about their wage cuts and Big Society cake sales.

Nala had to fetch Simba to return and restore faith in what was a failed state. Timon (named after a Shakespeare character – keep up!) and Pumba tried to convince him to not leave – the voices of apathy when change to the better seems impossible.

Simba has to travel a long way after taking much convincing to make his way to Pride Rock, to bring down the forces of deception, of political mist and unnecessary fear over debt.

In the film, Simba won. Simba managed to save the Pride Lands and restore the economy, so to speak. But too many people raise a Simba to the sun and claim they have the solution in their hands. They can save the country. They know the secrets. Even the Pope probably rolls his eyes muttering, “They take this a bit seriously…”

We should always be wary of Hubris, especially when everyone seems to have the answer. Be the smart one, and accept you may be wrong. Accept that your idea may not work, and try be happy about it.

Trying to kid yourself only makes thing worse. An economy needs a solid base of happy fools who will continue to throw money at the right things. And even in recession, it’s not like what our grandparents went through, where they boiled rags to eat; the government is able to pick us up. The recession is not in our wallets, it’s all in our heads.

Scar might be just as good as Simba; the lionesses only believed in Simba, however, as did the other animals, so the Pride Lands dried up.

Keep swimming Salmons; even if there appears to be no water, just believe there is. You’ll be fine.

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See? Imagine some money, there is money!

 

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Dutch Courage, German Measles and American Patriot

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Dear Salmons,

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I tell others I speak languages other than English.

It’s not that rare in Britain to be able to speak a second language. 38% speak at least one foreign language, according to the British Council (Link), possibly bolstered by young immigrants who learn to speak their parent’s language.

In my university friend’s case, that would Mandarin, Polish or Arabic. Technically, in my case, that should be Welsh (assuming the Welsh are foreign).

So of course if you break it down to British people tracing themselves back more than three generations, the number falls to 18%, and 6% for those with two foreign languages or more.

I fall in the 6% category, speaking French and Italian and currently learning Portuguese. It’s embarrassing admitting it, because it’s still quite unusual. I frequently receive disapproving looks, as if I have claimed that I have slept with Angelina Jolie (I wish!) and sent a film of it to the Pope (my pleasure).

But just assume I’m telling the truth, and listen to something interesting; those 62% or so who don’t speak a second language in this country are seriously missing out on a curious phenomena. it’s called “the other personality”.

When I’m speaking English, I’m shyer, moodier, more defensive. But when I speak French I am much more confident, bordering on the slightly crackers, and less cynical, more optimistic. 

And when I speak Italian…for some reason I become very chatty and quite child-like. Maybe it’s because when I speak a foreign language I know my mother can’t understand me…

I also speak much louder as well in a foreign language, especially when I speak Portuguese.

Now that’s embarrassing.

It made me wonder if other friends speaking in their other languages behave differently. So I spoke to a French friend in french,who I usually speak to in English. Usually he’s a grumpy tit, and I often have to pull him up, although his moaning is quite funny. 

I discovered that when he speaks his own language, he’s more relaxed and gentlemanly, although doesn’t stop himself from laughing at my French (damn Versaillien!).

Further investigation; an Italian friend is gawky and nervous in English, but charming and bubbly in Italian. What on earth makes people speaking English so dour?

Salmons, when they said that speaking a foreign language broadens the mind and lets you see different perspectives, I would say that is true. Certainly, speaking another language changes your personality in such a way that you can’t help but think differently.

Keep swimming, Salmons!

P.S: In regards to this topic and the recent terrorist attack, I wonder sometimes if multiculturalism has failed, and we really need to integrate more. Not to the detriment of our cultures, but for us to see the value of other cultures, and appreciate them for as they are.

We should also remember the right of freedom of expression, and of speech, and not be afraid to speak up using that right when you see it being violated or abused.

It is no different from the Crusades, done in the name of God.

The (Dangerous) Power of Brilliant Ideas

Dear Salmons

Ever had an idea that seemed absolutely brilliant at the time, but as time went on, it either dragged along in the dirt behind you, or dragged you through that dirt, enslaving you to an unforeseen path.

Well, one could say that is life, that either you are in charge and made a martyr, or you are a slave and you are abused. That you are either the worker bee, working until you cannot anymore, or you’re the queen, sitting down waiting for something to happen.

That is, until the pioneer comes along. The saviour, the one who pulled us out of caves, writing Latin numerals and putting children in mills. He (for they often were, women were too busy making babies)  brought us religion, lightweight steel, the combustion engine and so much more.

He led us to lead more comfortable, meaningful existences. He led us to be able to live more exciting, rich lives, beyond biological necessity  where we eat, sleep, make love then die.

He convinced us there was more to life than the basics, like making a tomato sauce with only the tomatoes. Where was the onions, the sugar, the spice? 

But his great ideas? Religion? Debatable. It was brilliant, for we all stick together under a tribal banner, working together and co-operating in harsh environments, living in harmony, sure of our purpose.

But what happened with religion? Let’s not point any fingers now. We can all accept that all the major religions were successful ideas because they killed in the name of God, raped in the name of God, ostracised those who were different in the name of God…the Holocaust was done in the name of God, as the Church stood by for goodness sake.

Religion is our finest invention. All right, what is thought to be the Truth is often very misguided. I still haven’t seen a convincing argument for Noah’s Ark actually being able to float, unless Noah only took all the species from an area of one mile squared, and the flood covered the area equivalent to Bangladesh. 

But that’s not the point of the stories like those in Bible. We are meant to learn morality from them. We are meant to read them, understand them and communicate them in the name of God. 

If you can incite people into God, the ‘more souls you save’ (i.e. the more people realise morality is necessary for us all).

But, the thing is, the self-righteous read these things as well as the good people who want to help others. They boss us around, aiming at those who disregard morality, who ignore them, and only annoy the ordinary people, who are in thrall of those who flout morality.

It’s because not all of us believe in God. Why do we want to join a club taken advantage of by psychopaths and sociopaths who do things ‘in the name of God’? That’s the thing with great ideas; some people are trolls and are out to destroy them. 

Those who trash upon these ideas also destroy the truly wonderful work done by good Christians, such as The Samaritans and The Salvation Army. I go church bell ringing and the bell ringers are probably the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

It’s the same with all religions; ignore the evangelists who picket soldier’s funerals, set fire to their wives who have been raped for adultery, castrating a man for sleeping with his male lover…most people are not like that.

They are like most of us, for the ordinary person is not that different to another ordinary person. They just want to get on with their lives, and, like salmons, continue up the current; onwards and upwards, towards the future, their dreams for life achieved.

Protect the power of ideas. Protect the integrity of brilliant ideas. It’s like protecting a child, so full of potential and goodness. For me, the modern example is the internet, and as long as no one takes over this anarchic state, we should be OK.

Keep swimming Salmons.

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Trapped Salmons in Stagnant Current: North Korea

Dear Salmons,

If you are reading this blog, congratulations. Despite all its faults, you are lucky to live in the Free World. Yes, there are costs to this freedom, such as phone hacking journalists and bigoted opinions blown out of proportion all being tolerated. But, ultimately, when we see people who lack this fundamental -freedom – we know deep down we have it good.

I watched a TedTalk on a young lady called Hyeonseo Lee speaking about her escape from North Korea (please watch here), and it’s quite difficult to transcribe the story, without belittling her story, because it’s as much as what she doesn’t say as what she actually said that is important to understanding her plight.

Least to be said, the last time my country (the U.K.) has experienced the conditions North Korea is currently subjected to, we had a bloody civil war, leading to the beheading of King Charles II, and putting our trust into an unelected meglomaniac with funny ideas on haircuts (Oliver Cromwell; fascinating bloke, look him up).

Even the U.S.A has never experienced anything to this level. Americans watch a film depicting the Nazis, the Japanese war junta, even the Soviet Establishment, but they understand it less than we do. Indeed, all English speaking nations don’t understand how we all follow the ramblings of one charismatic figure and believe everything they say.

Incorrect. We do. It’s just not as clear cut.

Kim Jong-Un, like his father and his grandfather, is looked upon as this mystical leader who will lead the North Korean people to greatness and glory in victory against the enemy; U.S.A, Japan and South Korea, with a little help from their friends in China (who is like your awkward friend who brought their rowdy friend to a previously jolly party).

The people are split into three classes according to their education and stay in that class for life; the intellectuals (university educated; represent doctors, lawyers, researchers, etc), the workers (those with a lower trade; represent factory workers, miners, mechanics, etc) and peasants,w ho represent the majority of the population.

North Korea is a curious country; it’s not all as it seems. When the government permit the media into the country, we see white streets, singing, hard workers and a subliminal message of “We have it so good. Are you jealous?”

Reminds me somewhat of Cribs. Look at my house! It’s so wonderful! Has anyone seen the episode of Justin Beiber’s house? It was full of white rugs, bad singing, hard (and downtrodden) workers and a subliminal message of “I have it so good. Are you jealous?”

Yet if you dig further, leaving the wealthier regions of Pyongyang and the west coast, heading north to the mountains, a different image arises. You travel through the rural districts, looking at the fields of crops, neat houses and hearing the sound of birds. You believe this place is beautiful.

But the beautiful salmon is starving. Bring some worms for the salmons, for they are inside those houses, incapacitated by famine. They are too weak to work, so they receive nothing from the government  for not working, therefore they can’t work. The government also refuse to help when the floods and droughts come. (Spare 20 or so minutes for a video here).

Justin Bieber is also a rotting salmon. All that fame, and he’s actually a bit of a twerp. He’s more of a Sleazy Salmon, charming prepubescent girls when he really is far too close to twenty to get away with it anymore. Even Take That have moved with their age group, performing to squealing 40-somethings, pretending to be teenagers again.

And the Anne Frank comments…? If you take the comments over the nuclear bomb testing from North Korea and align them in that party, they’re equally awkward. Both have an inflated idea of themselves, hiding their more sinister natures (as these two charming young men found upon visiting North Korea).

Compare the Beliebers and the North Korean Patriots. If I may assume most Beliebers are twelve and easily led on, I may assume of the foolish patriots are also easily led on (and do tend to be so at a similarly young age, but never grow out of it, sadly).

The following is obsessional. The pictures, the songs, the parades…and that’s just Bieber. Yet also not all prepubescent girls love Bieber, as not all North Koreans love the Dear Leader. We must understand this.

kim-jong-il-insane

Happily, Justin Bieber has yet to reach the Michael Jackson stage…

Some of these salmons cannot express their displeasure. They are trapped in a river with no current, swimming wildly and frantically, unable to leave a box they have placed in.

How do we break this box? How do we release the North Korean people?

Simple.

We do what we do to Beliebers, as we have done to McFly and Take That fangirls in the past.

We shatter their fantasies. We expose them to the truth. We show them that they had been abused, that the Dear Leader/Dear Bieber was not all that they imagined.

If you really need evidence of this working in the political world, look no further than the Berlin Wall.

The collapse of a communist state, and the reunification of a country, split by the ongoing Cold War between the U.S.A. and Russia, former Soviet Union.

Seems about right.

Being a student is proof of “Survival of the Fittest”

Dear Salmons,

The current current is telling me that the end of my first year is fast approaching. And my conclusion is thus; being a student (and particularly being in halls) is survival of the fittest.

Let me define fittest;

Definition 1: Has all the adaptation for surviving particular environment (e.g. chugging beer, doing all nighter on coursework, scrounging free food, etc)

Definition 2: being so attractive that the first year becomes too much fun for you to not possibly survive it (i.e. everyone WANTS you to be JCR representative)

Definition 3: Becoming so buff that you make a name for yourself on your chosen sports team (so you are pressured to stay).

I shall go with the first one in this case, for the other two don’t succeed after first year. Those who seem to just struggle along in the first year and keep taking things as they come seems to be the most solid survival strategy.

For instance(s); those who work out the balance of being too sober to reach the last bar on a pub crawl (Jesters anyone?), or too paralytic, are always the life and soul of socials. They succeed by being reliable and popular amongst their peers.

Second instance; those who find the balance between working too hard (and driving yourself crazy) or working too little (also driving you crazy), find that they do better for their approach things at THEIR OWN pace, not the pace of others, wherein lies trouble.

A salmon is never late; they arrive precisely when they’re meant to (cheer Gandalf!).

Third instance: those who find the balance between being overly buff (inciting jealousy) or overly flaccid (inciting ridicule – all the same really), often find they will be as healthy as they can arsed to be, and that in itself is healthy. Stress-free is the key.

Fourth instance: those who find the balance between asking too many questions in lectures (annoying for students, particularly on Friday when they wish to hit the bars – alcohol, that is, not prison) and asking too few (annoying for lecturers – they’d rather do research on squirrel sneezes, even though salmons are better), often will find that their course does not go beyond their depth, nor being so shallow it may as well not exist.

As a last note, those who do find moderation actually are more likely to succeed. You may think you can coast, or you must learn 12 foreign languages and join several societies, as well as both completing a degree. But actually, the employers are salmons too. They just want someone who can fit in with the crowd.

In other words, the survival of those who fit in best.

We don’t ask for brilliance; we just want someone we want to work with. Please, just chill and join in!

We are all salmons

Information from “The Lifecycle of Salmon – Salmon in the Classroom

Eggs: Adult salmon lay their eggs in special nests in the gravel called redds in late autumn in freshwater.

Babies: Adult humans give birth in special places in cities called hospitals in late autumn (Christmas fumble), sometimes in water.

The eggs hatch in the spring time (depending on water temperature) into alevins.

The babies are useless until the springtime when they begin crawling out of their egg like world.

 

Alevins: Hatch in spring time whilst still under the gravel. They have yolk sacs which they use for food whilst buried in the redds.

They emerge from the gravel about four to six weeks after hatching (depending on water temperature).

Toddlers: Now crawl around whilst under a duvet. They drag around a blanket which they chew upon whilst buried, for some reason, in the washing basket.

They emerge from the washing basket, and, depending on the water temperature (it must be boiling), reach for the cooking pasta.

 

Fry: After the yolk sacs have been used up, the alevins have to start to feed. At this point they are known as fry. They feed on tiny water organisms and grow quickly during their first year.

Child: After their blanket has been destroyed, it’s time to crack the real world. They begin to feed from “lunch boxes”. The big kids refer to them as “small fry” and lock them in the toilets. They proceed to pick on the smaller than them children, and learn to grow up and be more like an adult (and take on bigger kids).

 

Parr: The salmon are known as parr once they are over a year old. They stay in freshwater for between one and four years, feeding on small insects and growing larger.

Pre-pubescent: The human is reaching parr in development. They are excelling in life, with friends, family and sweet hoarding in tip top shape. Pity about the music collection. They stay in primary school for four years, feeding on everything smaller than them (everyone else) and out growing their uniform.

 

Smolts: The parr change into smolts in the spring of their second, third or fourth year. This change from parr into smolts is the process where the salmon are getting ready to head out to sea. Smolts head out to sea in shoals during late spring. They are a very distinctive silver colour.

Teenagers: The human is getting ready to head out to sea. Only, they discover a variety of distinctive markers; everything is shooting up; eye view, hair, opinion of themselves…and for the males, that was certainly silver coloured!

 

Adult salmon: Adult salmon travel great distances at sea to rich feeding grounds in cold northerly waters and feed on sandeels, krill and herring. The salmon return to the rivers in which they were born after being at sea for one to four years.

Young Adults: Adults go to great distances to show the distances they have covered, going to rich feeding grounds at bars and clubs, feeding upon the fine wares. They must return to where they were born to make peace with their parents, or when they need money, often after a year of ‘independence’.

Adult salmon that return to spawn after one year at sea are known as grilse. Adult salmon that stay more than one year at sea are known as multi-sea winter salmon. Once the salmon start their journey from their feeding grounds, they do not feed – even when they are back in our rivers.

Eventually, the human grows up enough to be battle worn. They have a responsible job, a string of relationship baggage and a house plus company car to boot. They are sated for material good; they now want to mate.

 

Kelts: After the adult salmon have spawned they are known as kelts. The females have laid all their eggs and appear particularly thin. The male fish are tired out from fighting with other males to make sure they spawn with the best females. Some kelts are able to make it back out to sea, where they will begin to feed and grow strong again. If they are very lucky they may be able to survive long enough to make it back to their river again to spawn.

Scientists estimate that only around 5% of kelts that make it back to sea, and survive, are able to make it back to spawn in our rivers!

Mature adult: Upon settling into domesticated life, they are now known as parents. The ladies have refused to make any more babies for they want to appear thin. The men reckon they could still out-compete the other men for the attractive young waitress’ attention, but he doesn’t mean anything by it (and he knows he can’t get away with it). Baby caring is exhausting, and they long for rest.

Scientists estimate that only around 5% of humans make it back to the sea and achieve those dreams from adolescence.

 

We are all salmons. We fight the current to survive, and continue to swim against the current even though we know we won’t survive, but only when we find the energy within us, the reason to care.

I write to make people care about things. Therefore, I shall name you all salmons, so you will do so.

Salmons are also tasty!

I will use this to death! *pun intended*

Salmon(d) Swimming Opposite the Farage of Silicon

Two very different articles were released from two different publications about two very distinct types of people. The first article was about Alex Salmond criticising Nigel Farage’s visit to Scotland, and the second about young entrepreneurs flocking to London, a new tech base.

They are connected by one thing; the break up of the U.K. Here’s why.

The actions of young entrepreneurs versus the actions of these political twerps with their heads on spikes actually have the power of life and death over the economy.

Eurgh, yes, writing about the economy worries me as much as it worries you. The economy is controlled far more by impulse and irrationality than even the Middle Eastern Conflict, yet it is the ultimate measure on the health of a country.

It’s a tedious subject, though, because we merely approach it through numbers. This is the rational side, the side that makes money as opposed to frittering it when we think we have money, or crying when we realise: Er, no, we don’t.

Indeed, when we believe we have money, we are happy to follow any idiot, who says what we want to hear, all the way to the sea. We will follow the current of mortgages, loans and credit cards.

Numerical controls are also inaccurate, for the economy is, as I said, powered by the unpredictability of human emotions. Try measuring a human emotion quantitatively!

Bankers claim they have control, but they can’t control their hedonistic consumption (visit any Square Mile establishment).

Try making me believe they’re pulling the puppet strings, when the puppet is possessed and telling its own lies with its own nose growing uncontrollably.

No, the economy is not numbers; it’s promises, based entirely on a biscuit, crumbly layer of trust, that are accepted when an incentive to act arises. Salmond and Farage make a promise to their zombies (I mean, followers) and they have the incentive to believe for they think it will benefit them. Thus, they begin to change the face of the economy as people react to their actions

Meanwhile, an entrepreneur makes a promise to their zombies (I mean, investors) and they have the incentive to believe for they think it will benefit them. Thus, they begin to change the face of the economy as people react to their actions.

The end point here is that Farage and Salmon, and those entrepreneurs in London, whether they claim British jobs are for British people (so if we fall short, can we use children again like in the good old days?) or claim that their app to store all apps in one place will be a roaring success, they push against the current and convince others to follow.

To what end?

Oh, you mean the point I’m making. It’s the break up of the U.K I’m talking about.

Based on these flimsy promises, Farage will drag us salmon out of Europe, against the stream of the English Channel.

Based on these flimsy promises, Salmond will drag us salmon apart, splitting the current shard by England and Scotland.

Based on these flimsy promises, the entrepreneurs will hopefully save our salmon arses from the bear at the riverside.

Salmon(d) Swimming Opposite the Farage of Silicon

Cooked and served…

Have a great weekend.

Articles

Nigel Farag and Alex Salmond trade insults in battle of nationalists – 17/05/2013 (The Guardian)

Hipsters Flocking to Silicon Roundabout as Bankers Fade – 15/05/2013 (Bloomberg)

The picture of the salmon (The Church Restaurant, Northampton)