Mad Teddy's website: Why is Mad Teddy mad?

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Why is Mad Teddy mad?

...I've always been mad; I know I've been mad,
like the most of us have.
Very hard to explain why you're mad,
even if you're not mad...

Those cryptic words, accompanied by a persistent and disturbing heartbeat, come from the opening sequence of Pink Floyd's emotion-charged 1972 tour de force, "Dark Side of the Moon" an incredibly powerful album that always brings a lump to my throat, every time I hear it (even now, a third of a century later).

So why is Mad Teddy mad?

It's a complex issue. I'll come back to it; first, let's deal with an easier but perhaps no less important question:

Why is Mad Teddy Teddy?

I hate going to bed without having a shower first. There's nothing worse than lying there, rolling over, twisting and turning, with the sheets sticking to one's sweaty frame and coming with one at every twitch, feeling like a straight-jacket.

So, a shower it is. I always wash my hair when I have a shower; so generally I go to bed with wet - or at least damp - hair.

I tend to lie on my side, mostly. So my damp hair gets pushed up on the pillow and basically sets in that position. The result is that I get up with at least one - sometimes two, depending on whether I turned over a few times early in the night - tufts of hair that look like teddy bear ears.

When I was at university in the 1970's, living in a men's college, there were plenty of stirrers there. I became known as Teddy. This was designed to rile me; and it did, because I had not yet developed a sufficiently thick skin to deal with "wind-ups". I hated it!

Some years ago, as I moved into my "mature years" (yeah right), a day came when it suddenly dawned on me that the tag suited me down to the ground. After all, what are teddy bears like?

Cute and lovable? (If only you knew...)

Somewhat cheeky? Maybe even a little bit naughty?

Anyway, I embraced the idea of being Teddy. So, I'm Teddy. Deal with it.

Now - back to the original question:

Why is Mad Teddy mad?

If you've come here by way of my main menu, and read my introductory comments, you'll know that I have certain characteristics which at least make me appear mad to most other people. Again, it's a case of making a virtue out of a vice: if folks think I'm a bit loony, then I'll be a bit loony. No problem!

Once you've had a bit of a look around this site, you'll probably agree with the diagnosis. What you have here is a person who is determined to continue to grow old disgracefully.

But that's not the whole story. The word "mad" has more than one meaning - and the other common meaning applies to me even more than the first one.

I get mad when I see a world run by lying, dangerous buffoons; and I am staggered when presumably right-minded majorities re-elect them, in the teeth of clear evidence of their duplicity and fraud.

I get mad when super-powers - of whatever political persuasion - think they have a right, God-given or otherwise, to trample over smaller and weaker nations; foster insurrection against their democratically-elected governments; humiliate, maim, torture, rape (or otherwise sexually abuse) and murder their citizens; destroy their property and infrastucture; and generally spread their own brand of terror - always in the name of "freedom" and "democracy", of course.

I get mad when I see my own country joining in, out of cowardly fear of reprisals if it doesn't.

I get mad when governments spend taxpayers' money on death, destruction and injustice around the world, instead of spending it on education, health, and infrastructure, both at home and abroad.

I get mad when I see good things in society closed down to save a few pennies, and when governments abrogate their duty of stewardship to their citizens by selling off ("privatising") publicly-owned assets, paid for over generations with those citizens' hard-earned tax dollars.

I get mad when governments cream huge taxes off their citizens, and then either keep the money as a "surplus", citing the need for a "strong economy" and saying that the country is wealthy as a result (thus tacitly denying the fact that the wealth of any country resides in its citizens, not in its government) - or spend it on useless ideologically-motivated schemes which nobody needs and which only benefit the rich and powerful - the very people who thus continue to prop up such corrupt régimes.

I get really mad when I see the revolution in communications technology being used both as an excuse for, and as a tool to bring about, economic globalization, so that ordinary people find it difficult or impossible to survive without sucking up to - and becoming part of - this rotten system. (Pink Floyd's songs "Money" and "Welcome to the Machine" spring to mind.)

I get mad when I think how all of the above are carried out cold-bloodedly, ultimately out of base self-interest, by the "haves" of this world, while pretending to do the rest of us an enormous favour. "Keep the peasants in their place, what?!"

I get mad when I know that there are already enough resources in the world to feed, clothe and provide decent living standards for every single person on the face of the planet, with plenty to spare - but that poverty still abounds. I am horrified and embarrassed to live in a world where creatures who dare to call themselves "human" can deal with others of their kind so shamefully.

I'm mad as hell!

Rant over.


UPDATE, 4th July, 2005: "Independence Day" (?)


Last night, I watched the London LIVE 8 concert on TV. Once again, Sir Bob Geldof - a man with one of the biggest hearts anywhere - has pulled off a coup, and forced a complacent, self-serving world to sit up and take notice.

I remember being entranced 20 years ago (it only seems like yesterday!), as Bob (not yet Sir Bob) led the way to make a serious attempt to tackle the desperate plight of millions of starving people in Africa, by staging the "Band-Aid" concerts. The battle-cry then was "Feed the world".

And it happened. People dug deep, my wife and I among them. Even though the resulting aid effort was chaotic, and probably quite a lot of the money raised went where it shouldn't have gone (surprise, surprise), a difference was made and lives were saved. Politicians and the media (yes, the corporate-controlled media, no less) were shamed into getting behind the event and helping to make it somewhat of a success.

"It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play..."

So, here we are, twenty years on - and what's changed?

Not a lot! Huge tracts of Africa are still in desperate need. Sir Bob is back, bless him, with some equally big-hearted friends ("on ya", Bono! - as we say "down under"), and we have another series of fabulous rock-concerts, once again designed to get people's attention, and once again intended to shame so-called world leaders into getting something right.

Is it good?

Of course. But it shouldn't have to be this way, should it?!

The disaster should never have happened. In a world in which the mighty dollar is seen as more important than human life, international debt is now the ultimate reality. I know I'm not the only angry, frustrated person. We all have to hang our heads in shame; to some extent we're all part of the problem.

We tolerate power-brokers in high places jerking us all around for far too long before daring to get involved. We all know evil when we see it, but feel that it's just too hard to do anything. In a vicious, violent world, we could lose our livelihood - even our lives - if we risk sticking our heads up and being counted.

There will always be Bob's and Bono's, Mother Teresa's and Nelson Mandela's - thank heaven. But it shouldn't all be up to them. If it takes a bit of courage to speak up, so what? We each only get one life. Let's do something useful with it!

If you haven't already realized by now, this website's main raison d'être is my attempt to speak up and issue a challenge. Sure, there's lots of stuff in it which represents my interests; and sure, I'm hoping to draw you in to some extent by baring my soul, and sharing my joy in knowledge with you - as well as cracking a few jokes - all in the hope that enough similarly-minded people will read it, and at least start to think seriously about the important issues, perhaps even find some way to lend a hand. It may be a vain hope, but it's the best I can do in my present situation. If Sir Bob and Bono can do their bit, why can't we all? What are we worth if we don't?

Just a few more comments about the world situation before I shut up. (I hope you're still there.)

It's all down to greed and power. There is enough to go around. There are ways to solve the "third world"'s problems. These countries have a right to the same independence that rich nations can afford to enjoy - without having to tolerate the arrogance of those rich nations setting conditions and telling them what to do in order to get them off their backs. It can be done. It must be done. But we have to keep snapping at our so-called leaders' heels. (That's one thing that will never change, unfortunately.)

I grew up as part of a generation that thought it could make a difference. We did make a difference! But we thought we had won the war, when we had only won a few skirmishes. Sometime during the 1970's, we gave ourselves a collective pat on the back, put our feet up, and went to sleep - without finishing the job. Over the next couple of decades it all came unravelled: the yuppie "narrow-tie brigade" quietly got themselves into power and set about undoing all the gains we had made. So now we've got it all to do over again; and this time, the enemy is ready for us, and armed to the teeth - which means it's going to be even harder.

Plus, my generation is getting old, and (I'm afraid) a bit tired. Just look at the ageing rockers who still manage to get up on a stage and belt out their gorgeous old songs, some with their bald heads shining, others with their thinning grey hair catching the highlights from the stage lighting equipment - but just getting on and doing what has to be done anyway.

"They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile..."

- and, yes, it's good to see some younger musos joining in.

But we need more young people on board! Not just musicians. Out on the street, protesting, writing letters, banging on doors - doing anything to let the world know that you're alive and thinking! Where are you?

And then there's people of my own generation. There were thousands of us young activists 30 or 40 years ago, making the power-brokers sit up and take notice, giving them a hard time. But now, when there's a rally against the so-called "war on terror" or something similar, I see hardly any of the faces I used to know. Surely, at least some of you are still alive? Have you all just given up? There's so much to be done - and people with experience and leadership skills are desperately needed! What happened to you?

I opened this page with a quote from Pink Floyd. I'm going to close the same way, with the name of one of their other albums, the title-track of which they sang in Sir Bob's concert last night:

... WISH YOU WERE HERE ...


UPDATE, 8th July, 2005: Lunacy in London


Well, I never thought I'd need to update this page again so soon. But I don't suppose I have a choice.

Why did it happen? Surely, it couldn't be because London won the right to stage the 2012 Olympic Games. It's far more likely to be politically driven.

The Gleneagles meetings are happening, with eight very powerful world leaders meeting to discuss the future direction of our small blue planet. Presumably, somebody with a bad attitude thought that a few strategically-placed bombs in London's transport network would be a good way to make a point.

Who could that be?

Current popular thinking supports the suggestion that it's down to Islamic extremists. Certainly, news reports suggest that some of these are claiming responsibility.

Then there's always the possibility that it's all been carefully orchestrated by dark forces in high places to divert attention from the real issues, and to try to foster a violent reaction from thoughtless people while keeping you and me confused and in the dark as far as possible.

One thing that can be said is that, whatever particular brand of fascism it was, the British people stood up to it magnificently, just as they did 65 years ago.

We keep hearing about how we are living in the "post-9/11 era". The world, we are repeatedly told, has changed; the "age of innocence" has gone, and now we have to face the new "realities". I read this as an attempt by the "powers that be" to get us all accustomed to accepting a diminution of our human rights in the name of "security".

It's a lie. Any future we face without basic human rights is no future at all.

I saw, on TV, interviews with ordinary British people after the atrocity. The attitude was: life goes on; we can't tolerate any bastard jerking our strings, and ruining our lives and our sense of what's really important. One man said that, as far as he was concerned, he wasn't going to allow any thug to change his world for him - and his opinion was typical of all those who were interviewed.




"Nothing's gonna change my world..."                    


During and after the blitz of the early part of WWII, the British people gritted their teeth and got on with it; and Nazism was eventually defeated.

Life does go on. If we were to adopt the point of view that innocence is a thing of the past, why wasn't that position taken during and after WWII, or Napoleon's attempt to take over Europe, or the atrocities committed by the Vikings, Ghengis Khan, Nebuchadnezzer, etc., etc.? (not to mention the pointless horror of WWI).

There will always be those who don't quite qualify as members of the human race. The rest of us will always have to deal with them, clean up after them, and keep going. What we must never do is allow ourselves to become one with them.

So, who was responsible for the London attack of 7-7-2005? Will we ever know?

Frankly, what difference does it make, in the final analysis?

Violence, whoever perpetrates it, never achieves anything. (See my economic globalization page for more on this.)

You can't fight the devil with his own weapons. Whoever is behind this, we have to meet their challenge, certainly; but it's how we meet it that distinguishes us from them. We have to rise above that low level.

I've watched with sadness as the creative actions of Sir Bob Geldof and his friends have been followed by the stupid antics of some protesters at the G8 summit in Scotland. Sir Bob describes it as "idiotic". He's right. I just hope that it doesn't cause all the good work put in by the musicians to unravel.

If, as a result of the outrage in London, some of these protesters can see how much damage can be done by mindless violence - if they can begin to understand that anger has to be channeled creatively, not destructively - than perhaps there's a silver lining.

Let's hope so.


UPDATE, 17th July, 2005: A way forward -

"WE ARE NOT AFRAID"


It's refreshing to see that there are already people with posted websites addressing the ugly situation in which the world finds itself. (Mine is just one of many, and far from leading the way - as I write this, I've still got some considerable distance to go before I launch it.)

Check this out, if you haven't already. I heard about it a few days ago from a television news bulletin:

http://www.werenotafraid.com/

They're right. In the final analysis, it's moral courage that will win over evil. It's always been that way; it always will be.

As mentioned earlier - in the immediate aftermath of the London atrocity, the people of that city refused to be cowed. "There is too much to live for to allow anyone to spoil it for us" was the gist of the message they sent to the world. The website whose link appears above is sending the same simple but powerful message; and we can all join in, by whatever means we find available.

On ABC-TV, on Friday and Saturday nights, is a program simply called "RAGE". It features new and old rock videos. Last night a song called "Freedom", by The Beautiful Girls, was on. Just a few of the lyrics from the song:

Freedom, is ours to hold.
It's just a struggle in your mind,
to keep your soul, keep your soul.

During the Great Depression in 1933, in his inaugural address, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the following statement:

The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself.

There is a whole industry built on fear. Suicide bombers are part of it. Right-wing governments who use "terrorism" as an excuse to throw away the human rights of their citizens in the name of "security" are part of it. As far as I'm concerned, there's no distinction. They all have to be stood up to, without fear, in the name of freedom.

Check out this page for more thoughts on the issue (scroll down toward the end of the entry for 31st October, 2004).


UPDATE, 23rd April, 2006:

"IF I WERE A RICH MAN"


Two days ago (Friday, 21st April, 2006), Australia's Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gleefully informed an over-taxed Australian public that, for the first time since the mid-1970's, Australia is out of debt.

> > > WOW < < <

Suddenly, it seems, every Aussie is supposed to have a warm, comfortable, secure feeling, knowing that nobody is now going to be able to put us all in debtor's prison until we pay up.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for not being in debt. When my wife and I bought our house, we made a point of going without a lot of "extras" for a couple of years until we'd paid off the mortgage. So we've never had that worry hanging over our heads for decades, as so many people do.

But just what does it mean to say that a country is out of debt?

From what I've heard in radio and TV commentaries over the weekend, we're still "in debt" in international terms (to the tune of about 500 billion dollars, if you believe some sources). So precisely in what sense is Australia not in debt?

Well, just what is Australia - or any other country, for that matter? Does "Australia" mean "Australia's federal government" - or does it mean "Australia's people"?

Click on the following links to read some thoughts by various commentators on just what Costello's "debt-free day" really means:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1620519.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1620338.htm

http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/060420/15/406h9.html

So apparently even the business sector has misgivings about it. More to the point, however, is the fact that the government gets itself out of debt by passing on that debt to "the private sector". The logical consequence of this is that businesses now have to pay it, which means that the price of everything has to go up in order for them to survive and make their profit - and then guess who ends up carrying the can? The "peasant class", basically - meaning you and I! What a surprise...

So which "Australia" is in debt? - and to whom?

From where I'm standing, the Australian government is now firmly in debt to the Australian people. Whether we'll ever get it back, in the form of viable health care, affordable tertiary education, maintenance of infrastructure etc. etc., appears to depend on the government's whim - and, from reading the content of those three links above, it's clear that this isn't likely to happen any time soon.

One excuse given is that we baby-boomers, who are now well and truly into our "middle years", are going to be entering our old age in the not too distant future, and then some of that money will be available to look after us in our dotage. Do you believe that ordinary folks like us will ever see a penny of it? Neither do I!

For some years now, there have been serious problems with aged care in Australia. (I'm not just making this up to score a cheap point; see this site to get some perspective on the matter.)

So is the federal government going to step in and regulate the aged-care industry? Do we really think that a typical right-wing early 21st-century western government which believes in ideologically-driven open-slather deregulation is going to enforce tough laws and get this cleaned up?

Seriously, do we really believe that a government which farms out as much of its business as it possibly can is going to put up a single red cent of its fat surplus, ripped off the taxpayers over many years to "pay off its debt", just to look after the most vulnerable and least powerful members of the population? Give me a break!

Nossir - we're going to be on our own. We're not going to have any joy out of the federal government's big bucks at all. There won't be any "pie in the sky", mate.

Not only that, though - there isn't going to be any pie right now, either, if Peter Costello is to be believed! His government is committed to continuing to "rein in" government spending, so that health, education, and infrastructure will continue to languish. Tough luck - that's "economic reality".

<<< Nevertheless, we should be thrilled that Australia is "out of debt" - right? >>>

Just like so much of the obfuscation we hear from our rulers, it's all down to "smoke and mirrors". As the old saying goes:

Wake up, Australia!


UPDATE, 3rd June, 2006:

"MOVEMENT AT THE STATION"...?


Well! The last few days have seen quite a few raised eyebrows here in the land of Oz. Whatever is going on?

It seems that people-power still exists after all. Australia's federal government has taken an uncharacteristic back step; and many people are cheering.

So what's it all about?

It's a complex matter, and it really isn't practical to put all the details on this page. If you'd like to know more, click here.


UPDATE, 18th July, 2006:

Madness in Mumbai, and Lebanon's legacy


Almost a year after the London bombings, it's "here we go again" - this time in the major Indian city of Mumbai. WHY?

I responded almost immediately to the London incident just over a year ago with an update to this page (see above). It's taken me a bit longer to get around to addressing the latest atrocity of this type. Is that because I'm basically a white anglo-saxon protestant ("WASP"), so that - with the best will in the world - I'm doomed to have an ineradicable streak of racism in me?

It must be said that the media, in Australia at least, have not given this atrocity anything like as much coverage as they gave the one in London, which made headlines for several days - certainly more than in Mumbai's case. It's a fair criticism, isn't it? Attributing to people of goodwill the best possible motives, why does this happen?

"Burnout" is one reasonable explanation. We see so much mindless violence on the news every day that it's difficult to maintain a sense of outrage, unless an atrocity affects us more or less directly. Australia has a long-standing cultural connection with Britain, perhaps more so than with India; so perhaps we felt British anguish more.

It's an explanation, but it's not a justification. If we see something that sickens us, we have a choice: to speak out, or to keep silence - and thereby give such an incident tacit approval.

The reason I've taken several days to get around to writing an update on this occasion is that I've thought long and hard about just what to say. Would it do any good to write what may just be seen as another rant?

Probably not. No doubt there will be plenty more incidents; addressing each one as it comes along is not feasible. There's only so much space on my hard disc, and only so much storage space allotted to my site by my web host.

So what follows is an attempt, at least, to draw a line under these matters.

Nobody is immune. We're all apt to get angry and lash out from time to time. Indeed, only a week or two ago, while trying desperately to get this site ready by 10th July (visit my home page to see why), something came along which made it almost not happen - and I'm afraid I gave some people a tongue-lashing which they definitely didn't deserve. I realised my error pretty soon thereafter, mind you, and apologised sincerely in short order - but I'm still feeling very silly and embarrassed about it, even now. Serves me right!

So somebody decided that they'd show off their nasty temper in Mumbai. A few well-placed bombs in the railway system, just to make a point. "That'll show 'em!"

Show what, and to whom? Show how clever and brave they were to throw together some explosives, and kill some innocent civilians? Or just show how easy it is to be a real loser? Are we supposed to be impressed?

And now it's on again in the Middle East. How long will it take for people - on both sides of any argument - to realize that violence never achieves anything?

It's so easy to appeal to a higher authority. These thugs always cover their arrogance with an appeal to religion. Apparently, we're supposed to believe that every innocent child's miserable death, maiming, or bereavement is excusable by appealing to some holy writing or other, inspired by whatever deity an aggressor decides is the "true" one.

Well, I don't buy it.

You know where I stand. There are more important things to do to try and make the world a better place than to engage in futile, self-righteous religious tub-thumping (much less, "holy war") of whatever flavour. No religion remotely worthy of the tag can possibly sanction the evil that is happening around the world in these unsettled, distressing times. (To read some thoughts of Isaac Asimov on these matters, click here. UPDATE, 27th October 2010: Also, click here for an ABC Radio National interview with Jewish American Anna Baltzer, the granddaughter of a holocaust survivor, on the same topic.)

To sum up:

In the last 24 hours, one of the many images which flashed very briefly across my TV screen (if I'd blinked I would have missed it) was of a civilian in Lebanon, surrounded by devastation, holding up a large sign which read, simply:


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