Monthly Archives: February 2010

"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"

Written by Mary Schmich, staff writer Chicago Tribune, 1997.

Published in Pluto Student Newspaper.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You,
too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal,wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Advertisements

The Iraq Inquiry


First published at http://www.pluto-online.com/?p=3446

Alistair Campbell stumbled on his words. For the first time I have ever seen, he has lost his cool. But this wasn’t during the Iraq Inquiry.

Like Fern Britton, the ‘morning political heavyweight’ who tackled Tony Blair a few weeks ago, Andrew Marr sleighed yet another New Labour Dragon on the sofa.

Campbell regained his composure during the Sunday morning roasting, and blamed the persistent line of questioning for his hesitation; the media is out to get him, a claim reiterated on the couch with the Loose Women on Tuesday.

But the real questions, it seems, are being asked outside of the investigation.

I visited the Iraq Inquiry, jovial… rather sadly, that I’d managed to get a ticket to see Tony Blair. Here, after yet another Inquiry, his uppance would come…

Blair was made Middle East Peace Envoy for the UN, the EU, the US and Russia on the day he left office in 2007, (yes, after Afghanistan and Iraq), yet he took the photo-opportunity to condemn Iran throughout his evidence.

He spoke of “security”, “fear”, “risk” and “attack” but just how alarmed should we be? After all, the Iraq War was supposed to make our streets safer?

The BBC reported on the 23rd January that “The UK terror threat level is being raised from “substantial” to “severe”, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said.”

Almost as unclear as some of Blair’s justification for war; “What if the intelligence was right and we hadn’t acted?”, “If Saddam was getting WMDs, I thought he might attack the UK”, “It wasn’t something that people disputed at the time”.

“The relationship with the US is vital for our security” Blair urged, “I didn’t want America to feel like it was doing it on its own”. Since Barack Obama came to power, he has distanced himself from any “special relationship” with the UK. Probably out of coolness, to shake off the International Lap Dog.

Ultimately Tony Blair’s defence of the ‘intelligence’ on Weapons of Mass Destruction was, “I believed it, beyond doubt”.

From Thatcher to the height of the Blair reign, the position of prime minister has centralized to the point where Blair allowed his own judgment to be the justification. David Cameron is reportedly checking all Tweets made by his shadow ministers in the run-up to the general election.

The lines of question were often probing: “Whose advice were you listening to who didn’t agree with you already?” Chilcot queried. Blair was also lead around a series of “Why Iraq, why now questions”.

But to the dismay of the 700 people who thought they had the golden ticket, they couldn’t get the same answers Fern Britten had pleasantly posed before he appeared.

One only need see the sign of a protester outside the building to see what ‘the world’ might now think: “7 million Iraqis killed, injured or made homeless since 2003”.

Associated Press estimated last year that more than 100,000 civilians had been killed, but for every innocent person, there are relatives who have lost a loved one, looking for somebody to blame.

A protester was restrained trying to perform a citizen’s arrest on Blair, influenced by arrestblair.org, a website offering a reward to people “attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest” on Mr Blair “for crimes against peace”. But he left without detention.

Peter McKay said in the Mail “Perhaps we need an inquiry into inquiries themselves — how they are set up, why some people are chosen for them above others, and the true motives of those who decide to have them.” And, apart from the format being the obvious flaw, I’m afraid he might be right.

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on how much the policing of Blair’s Second Coming had cost. But a helpful Met Police Officer who had been drafted in for the day said that just outside the building there were more than 150 officers- four higher ranking officer per patrol of 21. You do the maths.

Do we live in a classless society?

First published at http://www.pluto-online.com/?p=3023

WHEN Conservative Ken ‘Big Beast’ Clarke said on Question Time two weeks ago that we, in the UK live in a “classless society”, I nearly choked on my Horlicks (don’t drink the stuff, but I’m building up a picture here…).

Unless he’s talking about the scenes on your local high street on a Saturday night, or the declarations from our greedy investment bankers that they’ll leave if their bonuses are curbed, I’m lost.

“We don’t have the complicated class system of old” he continued. Ahh, so he’s talking about class-class.

One of the first things that came to mind when he said this was the Frost Report sketch with John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett; “I look down on you because I am upper-class,”… “I am working class… and I know my place.”

A comedy sketch, yes, but a pretty accurate picture of British society at that time. There was the aristocracy, the professionals and manual workers. Right or wrong, everybody knew their place.

His remarks were prompted by a speech made by John Denham, the communities secretary and Labour MP for Southampton as Labour try to address the inequalities created largely by themselves over the last 10 years.

In it, he said that: “socio-economic status affects life chances regardless of race or ethnic background, the and the fact that minority ethnic families are twice as likely to be poor is not likely to be a reflection of simply their race.”

The speech is likely to be dismissed as a bid to tempt white voters lured by the British National Party’s nationalistic and simplistic platform, but is actually a huge admission that people’s socio-economic status, their class, is affecting them more than ever.

In 1999 Tony Blair set the Labour Party the task of halving child poverty by 2010, but a report published this week by Save the Children says the number of children living in homes in “severe poverty” in this category rose 260,000 to 1.7m from 2004 to 2008.

Save the Children’s director of UK programmes Fergus Drake said to the BBC: “It’s shocking that at a time when the UK was experiencing unprecedented levels of wealth the number of children living in severe poverty – we’re talking about children going without a winter coat, a bed and other day-to-day essentials – actually increased.”

Therefore, it’s equally worrying that a seasoned politician like Ken Clarke, who is likely to be a member of the next cabinet, is so ignorant to poverty, inequality and the lack of social mobility.

Yes, it may be a classless society if your last name is ‘Big Beast’ Clarke, but most of us don’t have that luxury. Although it isn’t really surprising from a party who, up until David ‘Progressive’ Cameron rocked up, were the party of protecting the elite.

The gap between the rich and poor is still widening, but a lot of politicians are batting for the same team. Poorer people are less likely to vote, because they are less likely to be informed and then have even less of a voice then they already have in society.

‘Demos’ is Greek for people while ‘Kratos’ means power. Power to the people.