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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

Number 183: October 2010

[Go to the related edition of Nonviolence News]

Hell-o again, and welcome to my monthly musings, I hope you find them amusing and something to muse about. [Or should they be in a muse-um? - Ed]. So without out more ado, let's go on to logical thoughts (d'ye get it, ''on-to-logical" thoughts!) [Nah, don't want to bother working out the meaning of that, too deep for me! - Ed]

An attempt to bully you

My meady bedia eye has been caught by a glossy 'free' magazine produced by the makers of a well known 'energy' drink which contains, among other substances, a fair amount of caffeine which is readily available in tea and coffee, and you might be thinking that its claim to - effectively - make you fly is just a load of old bull, rather than the coloured bull signified in its name and included in the 'bulletin' name of the magazine. I won't even deign to mention its name (hey, that rhymes....). This magazine is provided free in Norn Iron on a monthly basis with the evening paper, and with a Dublin based morning paper. I thought it deserved some analysis.

The first thing is it is clearly marketed to a macho male market. Maybe it hopes to pick up women drinkers in this way too. If you look at the contents pages of the August 2010 issue, for example, all the human images are of men involved in physical activities apart from a picture of a quantum physicist who is 'working towards a time when computers respond to the blink of an eye', so still fitting into the male stereotype of computers and gadgets. Almost all the images throughout the magazine are male, and exuding testosterone, or certainly pictured to so exude. It does cover a bit of music and nightlife but of a kind that would appeal to a purporting-to-be-macho male.

It is, of course, all about image - giving the overpriced, over-hyped, drink a sexy, macho image. Do you really want to drink a mixture of caffeine, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6 and B12? One professor of food science is quoted as saying there's no evidence to indicate it'll do what it claims to do. Side effects reported from consuming energy drinks include headaches and heart palpitations - and an Australian study showed increased risk of strokes or heart attacks.

Through the presumably expensive option of producing a 'free' monthly magazine, it is an expensive but presumably effective way (or they wouldn't do it) to try to market a horrible-tasting overpriced drink. It is probably one small aspect of the sad reflection that is modern consumerism. The people who drink this foul concoction (often described as 'medicinal') are unlikely to be the people featured in its pages; rather it is likely to be over-worked or over-partied young people or students, or simply those who have come to depend on caffeine (though the amount of caffeine is actually moderate). Recent studies of coffee-drinking show it generally brings you back to the level of awakeness you would have had if your body hadn't been used to drinking it in the first place; the high yields to a low later on.

So, just a little bit of analysis on drugs peddled legally and openly in our society. Sad.


Do agony columns still invent letters to be able to deal with a nice, juicy issue? Or do mischievous writers scribe fictional pieces of purple prose to see what agony aunts and uncles come up with? I was reminded of this by a piece in the Irish Independent [you're certainly going for the 'via media' this month - Ed] on 11th September 2010 which seemed so stereotypical as to fictional. Maybe it is real, I don't know, but I have my doubts. All right, the 'advice' was provided by satirist Oliver Callan. If the advice and question was real then it's all in very bad taste. And if it's not real then it's in even worse, right-wing, taste.

The problem, as presented, is set by a banker going out with a left wing activist girlfriend - "She's constantly on at me because I work for a large bank, and for not having a 'worthy' career like her (she's a full-time activist)." She has also recently become a vegan, and going away is "nearly impossible because she always has some picket, protest or demo to attend." He is not allowed to flush urine down the toilet to save water. The one concession made to her humanity in this presentation is that "the sex is amazing" and he would like "for her to accept me for who I am."

Oliver Callan's response is mainly by poking fun at her activism. He advises "Treat her as though she's applying for a loan, not love. Assess her for risk; hippies are notoriously polygamous....". He finishes by saying, after various advice about treating her harshly, that "if she still accepts to accept you for who you are, then perhaps it's time to close the lid on this mess, flush down what's left and promptly leave the relationship until the smell has fully gone."

Relationships between people of different political views can work. If the woman concerned is a political activist, that is surely a good thing in a society which has been condemned to massive debt by chancers and charlatans posing as people of worth in society. Of course harping on at your partner, and preaching at them, in a way that gets them down, is not a good idea but this whole piece treated the woman as a joke, even if some of it was meant jokingly, if you get what I mean. Maybe it's the right-wing bias of the Indo, I don't know, but I find it in appallingly bad taste, whether fact or fiction.

Jirga jirga rather than war war

Great visit by Ali Gohar recently for INNATE where he shared on some of his conflict and restorative justice work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We hope to bring you an interview with him in the next issue. But one of the most revealing little things he said was actually a quote from Bacha Khan (Abdul Ghaffar Khan) where he said about the Pashtoon/Pukhtoon (different forms of the word are used in English), the ethnic group who form a majority in Afghanistan and over 14% in Pakistan, that "He will go with you to hell if you can win his heart, but you cannot force him even to go to heaven. Such is the power of love over the Pukhtoon." If the USA and its allies had actually heard that, and listened to it, before the current war in Afghanistan and Pakistan then the world could have been spared an enormous amount of death, misery and suffering.

And there is of course a universal truth in this saying but it has a particular resonance in relation to an ethnic group that the imperialist powers have never defeated. The quote appears on page 141 of Ali Gohar's book "Who learns from whom? Pukhtoon traditions in modern perspective" which is not available on the Just Peace International website though INNATE can send you an electronic copy, similarly with a book on jirgas which Ali Gohar has been trying to develop for dealing with conflict, the traditional and the modern together in a circle for conflict resolution. The Just Peace International website is at

Well, that's me for now, October is usually when the winter begins to bite a bit and out walking you can turn over lots of old leaves. I'm not sure why I enjoy the chill outside, I do, maybe it's the freshness coming into the open air. Well, I won't be like a local carpet showroom which is already promising delivery and fitting before Christmas, that seems inordinately slow. Me, I deliver every month here in the pages of this e-steamed publication, so see you soon, Billy.

Who is Billy King?
A long, long time ago, in a more innocent age (just talking about myself you understand), there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train' and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor around with you).

Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little about horses even if someone with a similar name is found astride them on gable ends around certain parts of Norn Iron).

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