February 2011 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

North African Regime Change (25th February 2011)

My suspicions have been triggered; a spider-sense that we aren’t getting the big picture. Is the increasing violence in North Africa a demonstration of inhumane governments? Or is it a coordinated civil war, orchestrated by Western agencies in a quieter and more sophisticated way than Iraq? We’ve certainly seen this before, in South America during the 20th Century and throughout the Cold War.

A Word from Noam Chomsky (17th April 2011 )

Just today I noticed On Libya and the Unfolding Crises, which is an interview by Noam Chomsky from 30th March 2011.

In states lacking major hydrocarbon reserves, tactics vary, typically keeping to a standard game plan when a favored dictator is in trouble: support him as long as possible, and when that cannot be done, issue ringing declarations of love of democracy and human rights - and then try to salvage as much of the regime as possible.

The scenario is boringly familiar: Marcos, Duvalier, Chun, Ceausescu, Mobutu, Suharto, and many others. And today, Tunisia and Egypt. […]

[…] Libya is rich in oil, and though the US and UK have often given quite remarkable support to its cruel dictator, right to the present, he is not reliable. They would much prefer a more obedient client.

Obviously he’s said it all far better and with a great deal more credibility and detail than I was able to. The rest of this blog entry is as I wrote it at the time.

Iraq War

We were told that the regime was wrong and we should go to war with them. Anyone rising up against that government would be encouraged. It was their right to protest and require a new leadership.

Once the Coalition had forced a government into place which it liked, the story changed. Protesting against the government was now wrong, just as it had been under Saddam Hussein. People who faught the government were terrorists. Just like they were labelled under Saddam Hussein.

At all stages of that conflict, which is still ongoing, we were very selective about whose rights were protected. Anyone who made our access to the oil less safe was said to be making the country less safe. Their right to protest, to require a new leadership, was ignored. They were ‘terrorists’.

North African Civil Wars

Now, in a new theatre, we are seeing an organised and coordinated civil war. The people protested against their leadership.

Their leadership reacted to keep the peace, protect property and so forth. All the things Western governments do. Within this year, over student protests, for example.

Violence was triggered (how it was triggered doesn’t matter) and the West supported it. Huh? People have taken arms against their government, in organised and apparently effective force. They’ve overwhelmed the native armed forces. They’ve damaged government buildings.

Local malitias and warlords are the controlling force in many areas. Just like they have been at times during the Iraq war. Yet this time, we are told they are the goodies.

How are they not ‘terrorists’ and ‘insurgents’? How are they not ‘destabilising the region’? Could it be they are doing what the West wants… or even under secret leadership from the West?

South American Coups

It would hardly be the first time. Read through some of the long de-classified documents of civil uprisings and outright assassinations orchestrated by the usual suspects. Western agencies, particularly the CIA, were behind it all. 20th Century international interference, the Cold War, this kinda thing is old news.

Triggering, facilitating, leading, financing… that’s what Western agencies do. Of course, everything knows how we (mainly the USA) funded Al Queda when they were fighting the Russians for us. Funny how they changed from being the good guys to the bad guys. And then how Russia changed from the bad guys into the sort-of good guys…

I’m seeing a pattern. Is anyone else?


Our agenda is the one being fulfilled, not the African people’s. It’s more subtle than Iraq but just like South America; like a case study based on Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars.

When the fight suits our interests we turn a blind eye to the facts. What’s staggering is how the media is utterly unilateral in it’s support of civil war. As a casual and occassional viewer (like the majority) I have yet to see a single quote or interview with any government officials in any affected nation.

It’s old-school propaganda, old-school media manipulation, old-school regime change. All that’s new is using the modern, Internet-savvy, civilian protester as the puppets and pawns.

In 50 years time, I reckon we’ll find our own goverments’ fingerprints all over these uprisings.

Why Blog About It?

Having the box for Amnesty International’s Irrepressible Information campaign is usually enough for me. There’s usually plenty of people and coverage of sensible points of view. Unreported World still exists on Channel 4 and Current TV still has Vanguard.

There just doesn’t seem to be anyone asking crucial questions this time, though. Such as: “What’s really going on? Who is positioning themself to benefit from it?”

EU Approves UK Arming of Syrian Rebels (28th May 2013)

William Hague requested permission from Europe to sell arms to rebels in another country to shift the balance of power. Europe said that’s fine.

QED, afaict!

Ski Lesson Progression (19th February 2011)

Taking a 3-hour lesson gave me the time to really “get” the fundamentals. We started using the rope lift, which is easy. It was a late lesson and the beginner slope was pretty much empty, so we got a lot of skiing in.

During the last half hour we had some little cone slaloms. By the end I was getting through the more difficult one about half the time and refining my balance with every run.

Downhill nountain biking requires very different techiques and corrections. Half the battle is unlearning all those insticts which have become second nature over the past decade!

The instructor signed me off as having passed level 2. Level 4 is when you’re considered independant, so I might try reaching that before we go to The Alps in mid-March. Would mean throwing a lot of money around, though…

Valentine’s Weekend (13th February 2011)

Kicked some football on Saturday and Sunday. Had a wonderful meal at the Junction Tavern on Sunday. A couple of things planned for Monday evening, so will report back as and when.


I had crashed on my bed straight after eating dinner; just so wiped out from the week.

Got to Fiona’s for about 3pm in the end and we went to the park while it was still light. Apparently it had hailed a bit before I arrived! Ground was damp and slippery.

We played while the Sun set.


Was quite rainy on the Sunday but we braved it. The caged 5-a-side area was available towards the end, so we played in there for quite a while.

They have basketball hoops so we tried some netball/basketball throws… with varied success.


Saw a Lantern slide show at a quaint little club, filled with odd artefacts and curiousities.

We went from there across town via Central Line, changing at Bank for the Waterloo & City line. This proved an outstanding shortcut and we arrived at the cinema bang on the showing time, without having to rush and having waited in a queue at the box office!

The Artist is the movie we saw, which is a modern attempt at making a vintage movie. The 4:3 aspect ratio, black and white pallette and mixture of silent and scored scenes was a unique experience. For me, at least. The movie mixes humour, peril, madness and slapstick in a traditionally wry manner.

From there we went back to Fiona’s place and got a veggie pizza on the way. Was about midnight by then so had a quiet night.


I’d booked this off as a day to myself and relished it. Slept in at Fiona’s and eventually dragged myself out to do a big lot of grocery shopping at Waitrose. Time was about 11am so it was pretty empty.

Was carrying 10kg, maybe 15kg, for about 15-20 minutes form there to my flat. Had to put it down a few times but made it in one piece. If anything, my shoulders feel better having had a bit of effort put through them.

All in all, a perfect long weekend. c{¦¬)

E-Commerce Remains Utter Rubbish (8th February 2011)

Ate lunch in Bedford Square today as it was a glorious day. They’ve planted some Daffodils around the trees, like last year, so they’ll be ready near Easter. A lot of positive things are happening, actually. But the rest of this entry is a simple rant about buying stuff online.


This is after enduring yet another unfunny comedy-of-errors where endless textboxes and dropdown lists conspire to prevent me from giving companies my money. Why do they make it so difficult? Providing lots of details over HTTP, sure. Using a variety of tiny text, MS Shell Dlg, boxes which are clearly too narrow for normal data, flimsy cross-domain handovers and callbacks…

It’s like the most important systems are made by the least sophisticated companies.

Success Rate

I’ve just made 3 purchases online. Well, so far 2 have actually completed and I’m in the midst of untangling the absurd web of interdependencies which are making the 3rd end with a big red error message. Getting to the bottom of it is necessary, simply so I can go and complain to the right entity in this daisy-chain of fail.

The 2nd purchase required so much data entry and re-entry that I had to serve my dinner before completion. After resuming and completing the remaining steps, the damn thing told me it had timed out! And that I had to “empty your shopping basket and start again” in those exact words.

It doesn’t inspire confidence that the best programmers in the financial industry can’t make a computer check the time. Time which is only being wasted because the neauseating (and invariably <table>-based) archipeligo of in-built, 3rd-party and intermediary interfaces for a simple transaction are so anti-designed by them. Sure makes things easy for cheap criminals to make phishing sites…

The less talent and professionalism you’ve got, the more your work looks like the common e-commerce systems.

Anyway, eventually I jumped through the unnecessary hoops, re-entered the same details and registered with the unnecessary (yet required) intermediary authority.

“These things happen in threes.”

Now I’m on the Transport for London website to and it won’t approve my auto-topup. I get a flash of the 10th-rate bold and serif 3rd-party message which thwarted my Xmas shopping last year. I had to use a different vendor to get that item; it simply doesn’t work in any browser. But TfL is the only show in town.

So now I have to waste even more of my time finding a way to work around their poor choice of supplier. Sigh…

1st Ever Ski Lesson (6th February 2011)

Wewt, I was the only person who fell! :-D

Didn’t hurt at all and instructor used me to show what other people should do if they fell. So I certainly got my money’s worth with the extra tuition. Just fell off to one side as I don’t know how to turn.

Blocked out the amount of stuff ski shops try to sell you, just getting the essentials. (Yes mum, I know you’ll check my card on that…) Was roasting on the practice slope, was like a sauna! So that should be a good setup for the real outdoors, although a balaclava to keep off the wind would be worthwhile and eye protection too.

It was a friendly group. Apparently I had the longest skis, which meant my first snowplough felt pretty extreme. Got used to it though and it was fun!