Friday, July 25, 2014

Class System

Let's make it three in a row in terms of ill-tempered posts on my part.  We've done the Commonwealth Games and World War One commemorations so far this week, so what's next on the list for a good slagging off?  I'll tell you what: school proms.  No, I'm not going to rant on about how this another example of the Americanisation of our culture, transplanting a purely US tradition into the UK.  No, my problem with school proms is the same problem that I have with office Christmas parties: I hate them.  I feel much the same way about birthday parties, weddings and other similar social gatherings, (funerals are the exception - as my late father once said: 'At least at a funeral you don't have to pretend to be enjoying yourself').  I am so glad that back in my day we weren't subjected to such things as a prom for school leavers.  The very idea of such a thing still mortifies me - being forced to mix socially with a bunch of bastards you've hated for the past six or seven years of school.  Except that I wouldn't have mixed with them as I wouldn't have attended.  Just like I've not attended countless similar social gatherings.  I don't enjoy them and they just make me feel uneasy.

But getting back to school proms specifically, from what little I know about them, (mainly gleaned from local newspaper reports of such occasions), they strike me as mainly being opportunities for all the 'popular' kids to further flaunt their popularity and their parents' affluence.  In other words, they seem to me to be yet another vehicle for reinforcing the 'natural' social order of the playground.  In this case a last opportunity for the 'popular' kids to lord it over their peers.  So, perhaps we should let them have these last little triumphs as, in my experience, they often find the worlds of work and/or higher education a rude awakening, where the old 'rules' don't necessarily apply any more.  Back in my day, these 'popular' kids were more often than not the rugby-playing good-at-sports bastards and bullies who got away with blue murder because they represented the school at sports and thereby curried favour with certain of the teachers.  However, in higher education they found that this didn't quite carry the same weight, (unless you rowed for Oxford or Cambridge - but let's face it, they're all knobs and snobs at those two institutions), and that some degree of academic ability and discipline (which they generally lacked) was more prized.  How I laughed when they dropped out. Well, that's enough bad-tempered ranting for this week.  No doubt I'll return refreshed after the weekend, with more to moan about!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Commemoration to End All Commemorations

Having moaned about the BBC's over-the-top coverage of the Commonwealth Games last time, (as we speak, BBC 1 has effectively ceased to exist as a TV channel is now simply a live stream of random sporting 'events'), I thought that I'd continue in similar vein today.  This time it's the First World War that has got my goat.  Not the actual conflict itself - I wasn't there, I'm not that old - but rather its centenary.  At first I thought that it was just this year that we'd have a commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the 'war to end all wars'.  However, it was with growing alarm that I realised that, here in the UK, there are plans to commemorate the whole bloody thing - from now until 2018 we're going to get a blow-by-blow remembrance of the war.  Every minute will have a TV documentary and half a dozen books dedicated to it, even if nothing happened in that minute.  Aspects of the war you never knew existed (the hitherto unheralded contribution of the Peruvian Llama Volunteer Brigade to the victory at Vimy, perhaps) will be highlighted and lauded by the great and the good, (there will undoubtedly be a docu-drama starring Hugh Laurie and some Llamas).

I mean no disrespect to those who fought and died in the Great War, but really, isn't this all a little excessive?  Already I'm feeling overwhelmed by it all - we haven't even reached the actual centenary of the war's outbreak and I feel shell-shocked by the bombardment of documentaries I've been subjected to, (the day-by-day countdown to the declaration of war on Radio Four is particularly wearing).  But it isn't just dedicated documentaries - just about every TV programme feels obliged to work in some mention of World War One, regardless of how inappropriate it might be.  Honestly, if I tune into the One Show, I want to turn my brain off to mindless fluff, not be lectured on how awful the Great War was via the medium of Giles Brandeth patronising descendants of those killed in it.  And patronising is what the whole endeavour is - I bloody know how the war started and how bloody awful it was.  From infant school onwards we were taught about it.  I'm old enough that actual World War One veterans came to my school to share their first hand memories of the trenches.  Really, we don't need the government and media raking it all over again to serve their particular agendas.  Don't forget, once this year is over, we've got another four years of this sodding commemoration to go - I'm not sure I can make it... 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not Very Sporting

I wasn't aware that my TV licence fee funded a free-to-air sports channel.  But from tomorrow evening that's what BBC 1 effectively becomes for the duration of the Commonwealth Games.  Curiously, I always thought that the BBC's flagship TV channel was supposed to be a general entertainment channel offering a mix of factual, fictional and entertainment programming for the widest possible audience.  But not, it seems, when the BBC has secured the rights to what it deems a major sporting event.  I wouldn't mind, but the schedules have barely returned to some semblance of normality following the World cup and Wimbledon - and at least neither of those events took up the entire schedules of the BBC's main channel.  Moreover, it's just under two years since those of us not especially interested in sports had to put up with the London Olympics completely taking over the BBC.  At least it could be argued that the 2012 Olympics were a major event which engendered national interest.  The same certainly can't be said of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, despite the BBC's efforts to convince us otherwise, with the likes of the One Show being broadcast live from Glasgow, with the presenters surrounded by cheering crowds, apparently enraptured by the imminent arrival of the Games.  Well, maybe in Glasgow, the host city, they're celebrating, but most people outside of the old Empire's second city are even aware that the Commonwealth Games are happening.  They'll have a rude awakening when they try to tune in for EastEnders on BBC1 on Thursday and find some people running around and jumping instead.

It wouldn't be so bad if the BBC were offering any kind of alternative to their blanket coverage - three hours a night of BBC3 are annexed in addition to the main channel for Commonwealth Games coverage - and moving EastEnders and Holby City to BBC2 for the duration doesn't constitute an alternative schedule for those not interested in the sports.  I know that there are other, non-BBC channels which will retain their usual schedules for the duration, but that isn't the point.  I don't pay a TV licence fee for them.  This is a matter of principle, (the fact is that I don't even watch that much of BBC 1's prime time schedules most days), in that I feel that by indulging in this kind of blanket coverage of a single event, the BBC is failing in its obligations to the majority of its licence payers.  Trust me, the majority of us don't want a diet non-stop sport - if we did, we'd get a subscription to Sky Sports or BT Sport.  I wouldn't mind, but no other genre of programming gets this kind of treatment from the BBC. Hell, I like science fiction, but I can imagine the backlash if the BBC dedicated its main TV channel to broadcasting nothing but classic science fiction for eleven days.  Or even spent an entire weekend showing every minute of the annual World Science Fiction Convention.  Yes, I know, I'm being incredibly irritable, but the sort of assumption - everyone loves watching sport - the BBC is making is the sort of idiocy which really annoys me, just like their assumption that we all need to be force fed high art in the form of opera or theatre or whatever.  Anyway, I'm going to stop moaning, for now, and brace myself for eleven days of trying to avoid the Commonwealth Games.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

More From the Crackpot Conspiracy Theorists

More from the land of crackpot conspiracies.  Apparently, we've got it all wrong - the Nazis were the good guys.  No, really.  Thanks to decades of Jewish-Satanist -gay propaganda, history has been rewritten and we've all been misinformed.  You see, those Nazis weren't persecuting the Jews and gays for fun - it was because they were dedicated to child protection and Jews and gays are notorious paedophiles.  Really, it's true.  Just look at the Channel Islands and all the child sex scandals associated with Jersey - the only time such activity ceased was when the Germans occupied the Channel Islands during the war and got rid of all the Jews there. What do you mean, this all a bit offensive?  No, no, no!  What's offensive is that Churchill and Roosevelt were a pair of Satanists who regularly sacrifice children to the Prince of Darkness at black masses in order to ensure victory over the true forces of light led by Adolf Hitler.  Why else do you think Roosevelt was in that wheelchair?  He'd taken it up the jacksie from Satan so many times he could barely walk any more.

I know what you are going to say - what about the concentration camps?  Well, if they'd been real then they'd have been no less than those child-raping Jews deserved, but the fact is that they were all faked by the evil Allies to further discredit the Nazis.  Trust me, my brother's mate's cousin has the photos to prove it.  The Allies prefabricated those so-called death camps in the UK before D-Day, then set them up in Eastern Germany and Poland after Germany's defeat.  They populated them with method actors who had starved themselves for several weeks, then filmed them being 'liberated' by Allied troops.  Look, I don't care how many books and documentaries by 'legitimate' historians you've read and seen, the fact is that they are wrong - Jewish propaganda.  The real truth is there for everyone to see on some guy's website.  What are his credentials?  Well, if you have to ask then, actually, it doesn't say exactly who he is or what his sources are, but who'd make this sort of thing up?  No, I don't think it suspicious that a supposedly authoritative website doesn't have its own domain and is hosted on wordpress.com - there are lots of great sites hosted there, it doesn't prove anything.  For God's sake, you so-called sceptics are just part of the conspiracy, aren't you? 

Sadly, I'm not making any of this up, (except the pre-fab concentration camps, they haven't had that idea yet, but give them time), it's all out there in the land of the crackpot conspiracy theorists.  Scarily, they beginning to make inroads into the legitimate press, with the less extreme bits of their insanity turning up in the right-wing press in the guise of 'reporting'.  God help us all.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Slightly Less Crackpot Conspiracies

Following on from the most recent editorial over at The Sleaze - Crackpot Conspiracies - in which I lambasted the conspiracy theory crackpots' attempts to spin the various recent child sex abuse scandals and allegations of a 'Westminster paedophile ring' operating amongst MPs in the 1980s into some wider conspiracy involving the usual suspects, I thought I'd try and see if I could come up with something more convincing.  For me, all modern conspiracy theories really should begin and end with the 'conspiracy in plain sight': the fact that 99% of the world's wealth is held by only 1$ of the population.  So, forget you Illuminati, shape-shifting reptiles and cabals of Jewish bankers, the reality is that a small bunch of extremely wealthy and unaccountable bastards, (united not by religion, the possession of cold blood or the membership of some secret society, but by wealth), are able to wield a disproportionate amount of power over our lives.  A particularly unappealing characteristic of even the moderately wealthy is that they think that their money means that the rules which constrain us mere mortals shouldn't necessarily apply to them.  So, it surely isn't much of a stretch to imagine that at least some of this 1% should feel that the normal rules of sexual conduct needn't apply to them and that it is OK for them to indulge in all manner of abuse (against poor victims obviously) including paedophilia.

If we accept that there might exist a group of super-rich paedophiles with sufficient cash and power to derail police and government investigations, then how do we explain the recent high-profile investigations and convictions here in the UK?  Surely 'they' could buy off the investigations into these high profile celebrities who, although not part of the elite super-rich themselves, are undoubtedly close associates, 'court jesters' to the elite, so to speak.  But, as we saw with the phone hacking scandal, which only engaged the public interest when the hacking of the murdered teenager Millie Dowler was revealed, there's nothing which riles up the public more than the allegation that some kind of child abuse is going on.  So, once the allegations about Jimmy Savile became public, 'they' knew that they wouldn't be able to keep the lid on the whole business - it was now a matter of containment and damage limitation.  Is it so far-fetched that in order to deflect suspicion from themselves, 'they' would be prepared to throw a few of their celebrity chums 'under the bus', so to speak, hoping that the convictions of the likes Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall might satisfy the public?  Except that it apparently hasn't.  Despite 'them' making out sure that the mainstream media aren't reporting many of the allegations associated with the 'Westminster paedophile ring' and the fact that 'they' have ensured that there will be a tame government investigation, the public don't seem assuaged.  Could it be that these paedophile allegations are the weapon we need to finally destroy the elite 1%?  Or will they succeed in using their power to cover up their involvement?

There you have it - my 'crackpot conspiracy' theory about the whole sex abuse scandal.  It encompasses all of the main points and characters and, to be frank, I think that it is far more convincing than any of the homophobic and anti-Semitic nonsense I've read elsewhere, albeit less sensational and libellous. 

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy is Not my Friend

It never ceases to amaze me how many people online - most specifically on Twitter - don't check out exactly who the other web users they are referencing actually are.  They blithely retweet someone because they appear to have said something in agreement with something they believe in without bothering to see what else this person is endorsing.  To be slightly more specific, there's an individual I've seen retweeted by several web users who clearly like to think of themselves as liberal, centre-left right on types, simply because this individual has tweeted something which appears to support their stance on, say, human rights, or is disparaging about a third party whose politics they don't like.  Their thinking clearly goes along the lines  that if someone doesn't like someone I detest, then they must be like me.  Except in the case of the individual I'm referring to, nothing could be further from the truth.  For this particular individual, if you can be bothered to check out their website, is one of those tiresome people who like to describe themselves as a 'libertarian'.

What this means, in practice, is that they are a long way to the right of the likes of Cameron and Osborne politically.  They don't believe in the state provision of collective services because that places restrictions on their freedoms.  Likewise, they want as few laws as possible, (well, laws that apply to them, that is - obviously they'd want all the laws which stop oiks like us from 'interfering' with their freedoms to remain).  To digress slightly, I recall encountering another of these tossers in the comments section of a political blog where he was going on about how, as a libertarian, he had no time for the police.  I was sorely tempted to comment on his asinine comment, asking him what, in that case, he was going to do when I came round, broke into his house and robbed him with violence - if not the police, who did he propose calling?  But, I didn't (make the post or break into his house), as I really don't have time for that sort of pointless online feud.  But getting back to the point, libertarianism is all fine and dandy for those who can afford private health provision, education and security.  The rest of us have to settle for 'society'.  Anyway, what's clear is if those right-on faux liberal-lefties (trust me, they're all middle class pretentious pillocks) ever bothered reading the guy they are retweeting's blog, they'd doubtless be horrified.  So, the lesson here kids is that the enemy of my enemy is most definitely not my friend.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

State of the Union

With the Scottish independence referendum edging ever closer, it occurred to me how much we take it for granted that the map of nations as we know it is somehow immutable and unchanging.  Yet why should it be?  Ultimately, all nation states are completely arbitrary and artificial constructs, owing more to political and economic considerations than cultural factors.  Let's face it, most of Africa was divided up into countries for the benefit of the imperial powers of Europe in the nineteenth century - their borders have little to do with traditional tribal territories.  The same thing goes for Latin America.  Even here in Europe, both Italy and Germany have only existed has unified entities since the nineteenth century.  Israel has only existed as a modern nation state since the middle of the last century.  Moreover, in the past few decades we've seen the disintegration through civil war of Yugoslavia back into its constituent states and the peaceful uncoupling of the two parts of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  Not to mention the dissolution of the USSR.

Yet still people speak as if it will be the end of the world if the Eastern bits of Ukraine secede, (I'm not condoning the destabilising actions of Russia or the activities of the separatists, this is just a convenient example), but there's no natural law in existence which says that Ukraine has to consist of that exact geographical area.  So it is with Scotland.  If Scotland votes 'yes' and leaves the Union, then it won't be the end of the world.  It won't even be a new situation.  After all, Scotland was an independent country for centuries before the Act of Union.  Personally, I'd rather Scotland remained part of the UK, but I have to say that those organising the 'No' campaign are doing a bloody good job of alienating the Scots.  For one thing, you should, never, ever, try and use an Old Etonian twat like Cameron to bolster you campaign - he is surely the epitome of everything the Scots hate about the English.  Damn it, even we English detest him.   If I was a conspiracy theorist, I'd speculate that Cameron's involvement in the 'No' campaign was calculated to ensure a 'Yes' vote in the referendum.  Why?  Well, with the Tories increasingly in thrall to the Eurosceptics, a UK referendum on leaving the EU might be easier to win without Scotland - which seems more pro-EU than the rest of the country - in the Union.  But that's just crazy talk, isn't it?

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Rubbish Reporting

Well, I'm pretty much exhausted after a weekend of painting, (at this rate my front room might be completely redecorated by Christmas), drinking beer, watching the World Cup and having to endure the fucking cacophonous row that is 'Crapchester Shite', (the so-called 'music' event which is held in the park across the road from me every year and blights my weekend with its non-stop noise).  But, despite my exhaustion, (not helped by stumbling through work today in the stifling heat), something is still bothering me.  No, not the failure of the local council's contractors to empty my recycling bin for the second week running - it is now full to the brim and if they can't be bothered to do what the council is undoubtedly paying them through the nose to do, I'll simply stop recycling and stick everything in with the usual refuse.  See how they like that, eh?  This borough already has one of the UK's worst recycling rates, so you'd think they'd make the bloody effort, wouldn't you?  But apparently not.  Mind you, it isn't just the recycling; their contractors have had difficulties in actually collecting the rubbish on this street for years, frequently by-passing it or simply ignoring the bins which have been put out for them.

However, as I said, that isn't what has been bothering me.  What has been bothering me is the fact that, over the weekend, an investigative website, (a legitimate journalism site, not one of those crank conspiracy sites), broke a story concerning the currently hot topic of the alleged Westminster paedophile ring.  According to the story, at least two victims of the ring had separately claimed that, during the 1980s, they had been taken to block of flats in London used to accommodate MPs, there to be abused by several senior Tory MPs, including a former cabinet minister.  Now, in view of last week's furore about the documents making similar allegations given by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP to the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, and which were then  allegedly supressed by the Home Office, one might think that such a story would be dynamite.  Yet only one mainstream media outlet - the Sunday People - seems to have run with the story.  I've waited in vain for the BBC or one of the broadsheets to at least mention the story, but not a peep.  It's as if it never happened.  In the wake of the similar non-reporting of the recent anti-Austerity rally in London by the BBC and other mainstream media, I'm beginning to wonder just how much else is currently being supressed.  Is it any wonder that the government is so keen to 'regulate' the internet and has GCHQ trying to invade every online human interaction, as it seems to be the only place you can find out what's actually going on?

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup Musings

So, here I am, watching the World Cup Final with a bottle of Bud in my hand, (I'm not actually a fan of Budweiser, but they are the official beer of the World Cup and they were selling the limited edition aluminium bottles off cheap in Sainsbury's).  Not that I'm actually supporting either side - I've cursed every side I've given my support to after England went out: USA, Belgium and the Netherlands all fell.   I had high hopes for the Netherlands.  I thought they could go all the way. I was hoping to be able to go on about how 'plucky little Netherlands' were all that stood between Germany and the World Cup, but that this time the Germans didn't have their panzers and Luftwaffe to enable them to roll over the Dutch, so all they needed was their conviction that they could win.  But it wasn't to be.  Instead it is only Argentina who stand between Germany and the World cup.  It's one of those situations where you just wish that both sides could lose.  No disrespect to either Germany or Argentina, but when it comes to football, they are both countries which seem to swagger around with a sense of entitlement when it comes to major tournaments, regardless of how well or poorly they are playing.

That sense of entitlement was the reason I wasn't too keen on Brazil this time around either - they weren't terribly impressive, yet still seemed to believe they had a right to be in the final simply because they were hosting it.  But that changed as I watched them get hammered 7-1 by the Germans.  I suddenly found myself shouting anti-German abuse at the TV.  I think it was the faces of the Brazil fans in the crowd that did it for me: they were so obviously traumatised by the assault on their footballing prowess, there were children crying.  So, I started shouting 'Are you happy now, you fucking bullies?  See, you've reduced them to tears - two or three would have been enough, but oh no, you had to keep on putting them in!  Bloody bullying bastards!'  I really got quite angry.  Which disturbed me greatly.  Clearly, international football brings out the worst in me.  That said, the whole Brazil business reminded me of how much I hate o see anyone humiliated, (and they were humiliated, not just the players and coaching staff, but Brazilians generally, by the defeat).  I've been on the receiving end of such bullying treatment myself too many times for it not to hurt to it happen to others.  Even when it is someone who once humiliated or bullied me getting the same treatment themselves, I take no pleasure in it.  Which is why, if Germany get hammered by Argentina tonight, I won't be rejoicing.  Ah well, back to the match...

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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Touch of Fame

Before we, for now at least, leave the subject of Rolf Harris and his heinous sex crimes, I can't help but note the recent last gasp attempt to wring more mileage out of it by the media: the celebrity groping story.  Yes, that's right, for a while every second-string celebrity in creation seemed to be popping up in the tabloids and day time TV shows, telling us their tales of how Rolf Harris once touched them up.  Apparently it sometimes even happened live on air.  Yet nobody ever reported these incidents.  Then again, nobody ever reported Jimmy Savile's depredations (or, if they did, their claims were dismissed by the police and other authorities).  All of which tells us something about the poisonous world of celebrity in the UK, where the 'talent' is so revered that even some of its victims seem prepared to collude in the covering up of its crimes, for fear of setting back their own careers.  Apparently sycophancy trumps sexual assault in the land of celebrity - evidently being touched by fame is desirable even when it is a grope.  Until the 'talent' in question is convicted or dead, then you can jump on the bandwagon and try to exploit the harassment you allegedly suffered but didn't report - thereby allowing the perpetrator to carry on offending -  in order to try and breath life into your own flagging career with a bit of tabloid exposure.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on these celebrity 'victims' of Rolf Harris.  But I don't think so - to be honest, I'm surprised that there aren't more of them trying to capitalise on his conviction in order to gain themselves some more publicity.  Not that I'm saying that any of those who have so far come out with their tales of being groped are lying, but I am amazed that we haven't had every reality show runner-up and talent show also-ran coming out with stories of how Rolf felt them up, even though they'd never met him, in one last desperate attempt to prolong their 'careers'.  After all, once someone has been convicted of something like sexual assault, they aren't really in a position to try and deny other allegations, even if they are false.  But again, perhaps I'm just being too cynical.  Nevertheless, getting minor celebrities to make false claims of sexual assault for publicity purposes is just the sort of stunt the likes of Max Clifford would have pulled in his pomp.  Of course, Max Clifford himself is currently banged up for sexual assault, so can no longer give this sort of advice out to his clients.  Maybe he should have tried that as a defence: he was just trying to show his clients what they should tell the press Rolf Harris did to them...

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