The World Hourglass,
over-heated at the top,
dismally polluted at the bottom,
the sands blood-red,
the glass cracked,
and time slowly dripping away...

Hoc Annus Mundi: this year in the world

To choose a country, simply click here, or use the link in the navigation bar at any time, the one that says "Sift the Sands by Country"

This blog is permanently Under Construction, which is a pleasing conceit, and an even more pleasing paradox, as the world it intends to describe is permanently Under Deconstruction, whether by bombs or poverty, by despots or the effects of global warming...

The purpose of this blog (see below for a fuller explanation, and click here for a rather more personal sermon by the author) is to tell you everything you really would prefer not to know about the world, and are unlikely ever to have asked. It will also include a great deal of what the world keeps hidden from you, or simply does not want you to know; and even, occasionally, a hint at the way the people who control the information also wilfully and deliberately mislead you.

Assuming we are still here, the site will become active on January 1st 2015.

Update February 2015 (Under Construction means Constantly Updating): yes, we made it, though global warming has increased and goes on increasing (and this despite an approaching ice age which continues to be ignored by the scientists, so that we cannot calculate what impact if any that will have on global warming...)

"We [politicians] know what we should do. We just don’t know how to get re-elected if we do it." 

Jean-Claude Juncker, current President of the European Commission.

"'The universe, I read in Nicholas Oresme’s Book of Heaven and the World (circa 1380), is like an hourglass, a clock that is neither fast nor slow, never stops, and works in every season, by night as well as by day.' True, true, true enough. But Senor Oresme, you have missed a crucial aspect of your metaphor. Leave time to God, and it will pass. But leave an hourglass to God, and it will stall. The universe is like an hourglass precisely because it is dependent on the hand of Man to turn it round and round." 

Ari Ben Aaron, "The Hourglass".

Can somebody explain why all the people in this world are white Caucasians?

And now for a fuller explanation of this blog...

Among the many forms of government that have ever operated in the world, including Theocracy, Aristocracy and Democracy, we in the West appear to have developed a new form, which is known as Complacency. It is, of course, the most comfortable ideological position to adopt, precisely because it requires no ideology, no thought, and best of all no action of any kind, especially the subversive, the radical or the revolutionary – it is simply something that one does, and that one cherishes, because it is one’s right, one’s entitlement, one’s liberty, one’s freedom.

Or generally, it is something that one does not.

One does not notice the millions of starving people in the world, because the restaurant is crowded, and none of them are customers.

One does not notice the millions living in refugee camps in the world, because those refugee camps have been strategically placed well away from where one lives.

One does not notice the sexual abuse by the father of the nine year old girl next door, because his explanations of the welts on her back, which you happened to notice at the school swimming gala, were attributed by him to a skiing accident, and he seems a very nice man when you sit with him at church on Sunday, and he has just been elected President of the golf club.

One does not notice the bullying in the school playground, because the kid’s a bit weird anyway, and probably it’s his own fault, and you have to go to the library to complete that assignment.

One does not notice the label on the clothing one has just purchased, which shares openly the full details of the source of the product, not just the country, but the employment terms and conditions, because there is no such label, and why would there be? - no company is going to advertise that it has out-sourced manufacturing to a sweat-shop in Bangladesh where 11 year old children work 12 hour days for virtually zero pay, or did, until the building simply collapsed from dilapidation and they all died.

One does not notice that the iPhone or Mac one is using is made with tin mined by children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia or by an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China (click here for more information).

One does not notice the perfect shape of every apple in the supermarket’s fruit-and-veg section, because one has come to expect perfectly shaped apples, and the farmer who grew the apples, and who has been required to pulp all non-perfectly shaped apples, and is prohibited from selling even the gleanings that fell from the tree, and has little alternative but total poverty or to accept the exploitative contract which the supermarket has had its lawyers carefully prepare for him, well, he didn’t have to sign that contract, did he; no one forced him.

One does not notice the empty desk in the office, whose drawers and surface have been cleared so that it is obvious its previous occupant is never coming back; and yet he has not been fired, but merely “furloughed”, sent home on zero pay for the next three months because there is no work for him, and the company does not wish to make him redundant, because he would then be entitled to severance pay, nor fire him, for the same reason, and he is still under contract, so he cannot take another job, or if he does he must resign first, relinquishing thereby his right to severance pay, which happens to be the equivalent of three months’ work.

One does not notice the sixteen year old doing eight hours of clerical work, or shelf-stacking, because he or she appears to be just another worker, doing the same clerical work as oneself, the same shelf-stacking as oneself – the difference being that one is a paid employee, while he or she is an unpaid “intern”, and one is too concerned about one's own contract (they are threatening to put one on zero hours or replace one with a robot, and one only receives minimum wage as it is) to waste time determining the difference between an “unpaid internship” and voluntary slavery that isn’t really all that voluntary, because try getting into college, or a real job with that company, if one does not have “internship” on one's résumé.

One does not notice because one does not want to notice. CNN is neutral to the point of tedium, MSNBC is full of pinkos delivering sermons, and Fox News is now the Anti-Obama Propaganda Channel, so much better anyway to watch the highlights of the college football on ESPN, or find out how the Kardashians are doing on their latest holiday, or go to Netflix for some fantasy with guns.

One does not notice because things are fine on the street where one lives, where valet parking is available (all three valets are fifty-year-old Venezuelan refugees, two of them former Professors at Caracas university, the third, a lawyer by profession, a senior figure in the opposition who learned that his name was on a death-list), the cleaning lady (a Philippino who is actually an illegal immigrant but one pays cash so no one will ever find out) is due at any moment, and one has to get to FedEx to return the shoes one ordered on the Internet because they are not quite the shade of umber one was looking for (the shoes were manufactured in the Northern Mariana Islands by Chinese migrant workers exempt from minimum wage; umber is the colour that the bodies of Mexican students become when they go on organised protests…it is not to be confused with umbrage, which is what one takes when one removes oneself from one’s complacency and considers the state of the world).

One does not notice because, let us be completely honest, noticing is extremely inconvenient. One notices poverty when one is on vacation, indeed one may even take a photo of it and post it on Facebook with a caption; but this is someone else’s poverty, a mere tourist distraction, like the junkies underneath the Eiffel Tower, or the residual lava at Krakatoa, or those shockingly dilapidated houses in New Orleans which turned out to be the consequence of Hurricane Katrina.

One does not notice because, if one does notice, then one feels obliged to do something, and one knows that there is absolutely nothing one can do, that this is how it is, that everybody does it, that it is God’s will, or fate, or destiny, or genetically predetermined, how can one person all alone, one has done one’s bit, one gave some coins, one signed the petition, but really, you can’t expect, and one has to go now because one’s lobby group is meeting the Mayor for dinner and he has promised to put the repair of one’s sidewalk on the city’s budget agenda and see if they can’t plant a few nice trees as well.

But mostly one does not notice, because, let us be totally honest, one does not really care; beyond theoretical compassion, of course, which is counterpointed by actual compassion fatigue. One feels genuinely sorry for the poor, the oppressed, the victimised, the exploited…but one has done one’s utmost not to be included in their number, and it serves them right for not doing the same themselves.

The trouble with all of this is my persistent, determined, ultimately irritating usage of the word One, which written as a number is also the word I. We do not live in a world of One. We live in a world of Many, and I is part of We and, as the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once expressed it: “To abstain is to vote for the majority”. In other words, to do nothing, to be complacent, is to allow bad things to happen, to implicate oneself, by default, in the atrocities. One of the objectives of this blog-book, and the reason why it is written in the very strident and sardonic tone that I have deliberately chosen to adopt, is the hope that I can shock you out of your complacency, that I can bring you back from the I to the Many.

I have sub-titled this blogbook "Hoc Annus Mundi", which in Latin means “This Year In The World”, though of course, if the second “n” were absent from the middle word, it would mean something much more vulgar, which I would never do. I thought about calling it “The Best Of All Possible Worlds”, because sadly that statement may actually be true. As books today seem to like having subtitles as well, I considered “a brief calculation of the innumerable ways that human beings find to divide themselves into groups, and then to hate the other group”, but rejected that in favour of “the most depressing book you will ever read in the whole of your life”, which is itself an expression of such deep depression it could almost be mistaken for despair. I am not in despair, however. I remain full of hope. I am absolutely confident indeed, that all human squabbles, quarrels and enmities will be resolved in the foreseeable future, and not by the arrival of the Messiah, but through the advent of global warming. The planet, I know, will adapt, evolve, and survive. Even better for the absence of its one true enemy, Human Beings.

Join me in a Campaign to create a Charter of Human Responsibilities to make the other half to the Charter of Human Rights.

You can find David Prashker at:



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