British government contributes toward environmental protesters’ fines

Just when you decide that humans have thought of every possible way to protest, the environmental campaign group Insulate Britain bought environment secretary George Eustace’s office and they’re donating his rent to a legal fund for activists who’ve been arrested. 

Eustace has spoken against the group. The group has spoken against Eustace. He has more power, but for the moment at least, they’ve gotten the last word.


But as innovative political statements go, that’s nothing. It only got the top position because I’m still pretending to focus on Britain.

A Danish conceptual artist, Jens Haaning, sent two crates to a museum that was expecting a recreation of his 2007 work, An Average Danish Annual Income, but when they unpacked them they found two empty frames. They’re an artwork called Take the Money and Run.

Which he seems to have done. He was paid–not enough, he says–and on top of that was lent some money to use as part of the artwork. That’s as much of the story as I can untangle. 

So is he in breach of contract? The museum says he is. He says he isn’t. 

“It’s not theft. It is breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”

Well, fair enough, sort of. Haaning’s work is artistic commentary on modern capitalism. Even a moderately competent lawyer could argue that. Pretty much anything a conceptual artist does counts as art. 

Or so they tell us. 

Irrelevant photo: a camellia


News of the human brain

In the US, someone broke into a truck in early March and is now the proud owner of a box of human heads

Last I heard, no arrests had been made. If you have them, please send them back. They were meant for medical research.


Meanwhile, a study of data from more than a million people makes it look like we’ve been wrong to believe the human brain starts slowing down after we reach 20–which is to say, before most of us have even figured out what our brains are for.

But no. According to this study, the speed stays nearly constant until we’re 60. After that we remember what our brains are for but can’t remember where we left them. 

The study suggests that at 20 (and at 14 and at 16) people’s responses to the study’s questions were faster than older people’s, but they were trading accuracy for speed. And a cow for a handful of magic beans.

No, sorry. Wrong study. 

Mental processing speed peaked at 30 and declined only very slightly until people were 60. 

I’m 140–possibly more, but by now it’s all a blur–and it’s taken me weeks to write this post. 


What happens to the human brain on music festivals? It goes a little fuzzy, something we can deduce based on a sampling of the river that runs through the site of the Glastonbury Festival. Researchers compared the water upstream and downstream and–you’ll be shocked, I know–found that downstream was heavy with MDMA and cocaine. And probably other things, but that’s all they tested for.

So far, so mildly amusing, but it made the eels hyperactive, impaired their gills, and left them with some muscle wastage. 

The festival hasn’t been held since 2019, The eels are looking for new dealers. Being amphibious is not a requirement but is a plus. 


And the human brain when it contemplates going on vacation? I’m not sure, but Spain’s tourism minister, Maria Reyes Maroto, has a low opinion of its judgment. When a volcano forced the evacuation of 5,500 people on La Palma, Reyes Maroto pitched it as a tourist attraction. 

“We’re providing information so that tourists can travel to the island and witness something undoubtedly unprecedented for themselves,” she said.

After all hell broke loose, she clarified her statement by saying, “Today we stand with the victims and those affected and we’re thinking about how best to get back to that normality that nature’s changed.”

We’re also thinking about how to get out of this press conference without having to outright grovel.


But forget about the human brain for a line or two. What about the kea’s brain?

The kea? It’s a New Zealand alpine parrot that’s both endangered and very smart, which tells us that being smart isn’t the solution to all life’s problems. 

The kea is smart enough to use a touch screen but not so smart that it can tell virtual reality and real reality apart.

Kind of like humans, then.

39 thoughts on “British government contributes toward environmental protesters’ fines

  1. Your piece on Insulate Britain made me positively beam – thank you, I really & truly needed that.

    One other thing which has made me crack a smile is the number of hackers who are attacking Russia, even managing to take down the Kremlin’s official site. It’s still a brutal and bloody war, lots more people will lose their lives, homes, livelihood, and probably independent statehood, but I admire the wry humour and doggedness of a people who think that way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ellen, you brightened my morning with this post, thanks. I love your sense of humour and eye for a mad story.

    The crazy goes on getting deeper in the links. Like how the museum is trying to sue Jens Haaning, but hung his empty canvasses anyway and got loads of visitors going to see them. I don’t see there’s any breach of contract at all.

    I also note that ‘Mr Eustice’s spokesperson responded by saying “we live in a free country”,’ meaning his landlords could donate his rent to Insulate Britain if they wanted…not that it’s a free country where you can protest against inaction on imminent climate disaster on a roundabout.

    Although it’s funny and macabre that someone stole human heads from a truck, I also wondered if there was a misprint and the thief merely “made off” with them, rather than “made out” with them, which I’m sure is a different category of criminal activity altogether, even in Denver.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha ! In 2016 Vladimir Putin apparently bought the Oval Office. But he lost his lease – here at least.

    Years ago I read a science fiction story which detailed an apocalyptic war in some distant future where the evil side was actually lead by Satan, who narrated the story. Here is how it ended. :
    :Yes,” she said, “You’ve won Armageddon, but you’ve lost Earth,”
    “What do you think this is ?”
    “Hell,” she said. And I have remembered her voice down through ten thousand lonely years.”

    I read that story 60 years ago (eighth grade was my big sci-fi period because the guy I had a crush on was into it) and until I saw what was going on now in Ukraine I had not realized I had remembered it all down these years.

    As for those thieves – I imagine their parents were always admonishing them to “Get a head !”

    Small nitpick : Eels are vertebrates/fish, not amphibians. But that wouldn’t stop the dealers being amphiibians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies about the eels. I hadn’t actually meant that they were amphibious, just that it would be convenient if the dealers were. I should’ve been clearer. How else am I going to help them find the right kind of dealer?

      I can see why that story stayed with you. It’s a real tribute to the writer.


      • Brainless. Spot on. I feel numb. I’m old enough to to have “borrowed” memories of WWI and WWII. Grandfather and father. Though they never really talked about it, I have documents, photographs. Makes me shiver. And pretty much pissed-off too. (American sense…)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Borrowed memories. Good phrase. Interesting how these things they didn’t talk about came to you anyway.

          I feel the same way about the Depression, which shaped my parents so strongly, and World War II, which my father was a bit too old to fight in but shaped my understanding of the world. Although they didn’t go un-talked about in our house.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Borrowed memories indeed. I always feel that my memories go back to my grandparents, born in the 19th century. So I “remember” WWI. I was telling my brother that our grandfather’s memory will last until we die, since we’re the last ones to have known him personally.
            Just like you “remember” the depression. Reading Steinbeck must have a different echo for you.
            And yes, many things were unspoken then. (Money amongst other things…) 😉
            Take care Ellen

            Liked by 1 person

            • I wonder if what you’re saying doesn’t help explain the passions that flare when people try to change the way history’s been constructed–because our national myths are constructions. And the ones I’m familiar with are–shall we say highly selective? Not to mention wildly inaccurate and made to serve the purposes of someone or other who had or has the power to put it together that way.

              Where was I? I wonder if the passion to defend those myths doesn’t come from the sort of inherited or borrowed memories that you’re talking about: This is the image of the world that I learned when I was a child and so it must be true. Regardless of the facts.

              That’s taking the discussion in a different direction and not addressing your points, but…

              Liked by 1 person

              • All directions are good. (Well, most of them 😉)
                You have a point. Which may have to do with Paul Ricoeur’s “Memory, History, Oblivion.”
                History emerges from memory through filters and selection. What is kept is what fits the myth. e.g. my mother always said that Breton deaths in WWI reached almost a million, and that Breton soldiers were the most important casualties. Well, not quite. Definitely not up to a million, and though very high, Breton casualties were not the majority. It is a fact that breton families were decimated, other regions too. Probably more to do with rural background. More exposed.
                Now from History to Oblivion? That’s where we are now. Almost everybody, it seems has forgotten what the bl..dy hell war is. It kills people. And more and more every day. And nobody really ever wins…
                Did I address your points? 😉
                (don’t worry about mine)
                Take care Ellen.

                Liked by 1 person

              • What a dismal time we’re living through. War does indeed kill people, and taking nothing away from the horror of what’s happening in Ukraine I’m aghast at how easily a nation that turned away from other refugees–the ones still trapped in Calais, in Lesbos, and I don’t even know where else–is now cranking up sympathy for the newest batch, who just happen to be European.

                I despair.

                Some of the time.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I always enjoy your command of the English language. You must be a writer. Dismal and aghast pretty much sum it up.
                And speaking about “sympathy”, will the Brits take in Ukrainians after kicking the Poles out?
                (I know, I know, I’m a cranky Frog.)

                Liked by 1 person

              • Many people have signed up to take Ukrainians in, but the Ukrainians are still caught up in endless bureaucracy trying to get into the country. And you’re right about the Poles. When we first moved here, you’d have thought Polish plumbers were the root of all evil. And here we circle back to that conversation about despair.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Now that we once again have genuine Nazis running around–and we do–I wish everyone would reserve the word for the people it really describes. It was never any use as an all-purpose insult.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Agreed.
                Camus, who kew his words too, used to say that “to misname things is to add sadness to the world…”
                (e.g. a candidate to the French election claims Pétain saved the French Jews… Seriously?)

                Liked by 1 person

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