Thursday, July 31, 2014

From Sea to Golden Sea



Our monthly movie for July.  A montage of Summery scenes: cornfields, hay bales, duck ponds, the sun shining through leafy trees.  OK, there's no actual sea, but, for me, if there is one thing which epitomises Summer it is the sight of fields full of a golden sea of cereal crops. Watching that golden ocean move in the wind is one of my favourite seasonal sights.  Indeed, everything about these crops fascinate me - you can measure the progress of the Summer (or, indeed, how good or bad a season it has been) by their development and eventual harvest.  Of course, back in the day, it used to climax with the stubble being burned off - a sight I loved.  Sadly, nowadays this is a very rare occurrence with other, safer, methods for getting rid of the stubble preferred. 

The music, as on quite a few of my recent films, is by Kevin MacLeod.  There are several reasons for this: not only does he compose great music and allow it to be used freely by the likes of me, but he's also fought off the various 'digital rights management' parasites I've written about before, who waste everyone's times by trying to claim copyright on the music every time you upload a video to YouTube.  Consequently, by using his music, the chances of having another run-in with these vultures is significantly reduced.  The actual track used - 'Smoking Guns' - gives the film the vaguely 'western' feel I was looking for - that's the other image those cornfields evoke in me: the old west.

Finally, what's the significance of the blurred figure slowly walking toward the camera? No idea, but I'd recently re-watched Once Upon a Time in the West, where there's a flashback featuring Henry Fonda in a similar sequence.  I suppose it could represent the inevitable end of Summer drawing closer.  But who knows?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Friends Disunited

I hate keeping people in suspense and I know that there are readers of this blog still wondering what was the outcome of the non-collection of my recycling that I mentioned the other week.  Well, worry no more - yesterday they finally emptied it after I'd managed to cram a third load recycling in to the bin.  That makes a full six weeks since they could last be bothered.  Isn't Cameron's Britain wonderful?  Yeah, I'm still feeling tired and ill-tempered.  I'm also feeling just downright ill.  The heat and lack of sleep are catching up with me, I'm afraid.  Still, at least the leave application has been put in at work so, hopefully, I'll be a free man for three weeks in late August.  Hopefully that will aid my recovery from my current malaise.  Right now, everyone and everything is irritating me even more than usual.  I found myself particularly pissed off the other day when I found myself being patronised by so-called 'friends' in the pub.  If I haven't mentioned it before, my local is under new management again, which is always a cue for various former regulars to turn up at least once and try to lord it over all those of us who have been regularly drinking there in the meantime.  Which is what happened in this particular incident - I got mightily annoyed by their idea that they were somehow doing me a favour by reappearing because, obviously, I wouldn't have spoken to anyone else in the pub in the several years since they could last be bothered.  Fuck off!

Speaking of long-lost 'friends', did you see that news story over the weekend about that street having to be evacuated because of the highly unstable home made fireworks one resident was manufacturing in his flat?  I watched in fascination as it unfolded on the TV news, waiting to see if they identified the culprit by name.  Sadly, they only gave his age - if he had been a few years younger then I'd swear that I must know him from my schooldays.  I'm sure I must have mentioned that kid I knew at school who used to do stuff like making his own bombs and fabricating shotguns in metalwork (I'm not joking about that).  He was another of those people who latched on to me as a friend and who I could never seem to shake off.  I seem to attract them.  (To be clear here, when I say I attract 'them', clearly implying that  really don't want to be friends with these weirdos, I'm not talking about the various deranged women I seem to attract - they're fine: scary, but I'm still OK with being friends with them.  No, I'm talking about the borderline psychopaths who nobody in their right mind would want to befriend by choice, but who leave you with no choice in the matter). 

Getting back to the matter in hand, I could never shake this guy at school but, once we left school, I thankfully managed to break free of him.  It wasn't a clean break - while I was an undergraduate he got in contact and wanted me to be his best man.  Naturally, I declined, (I was going to do it by post to cut down the level of contact involved, but was persuaded by a girl at college that I should at least do it by phone).  Even if I'd been one of those people with a burning desire to be a best man, I wouldn't have been that desperate.  He's tried to get in touch a few times since then, but the few mutual acquaintances I'm still in touch with and my entire family are under strict instructions to tell him that I'm dead.  He's one of the reasons I never publicly use my real name online - I know he's done web searches for me - and have never been tempted to use things like 'Friends Reunited'.  Despite forcing me into hiding, there's still a part of me curious about what he's up to - every time I hear about a mysterious explosion in a suburban house or someone shooting themselves with a home made harpoon gun,, rather than assuming terrorism, I always think it might be him.  One day, I'm sure, it will be.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Musings

I was extraordinarily bad-tempered - posting-wise, at least - all last week.  I put it down to the heat.  Coming off of another sweltering and largely sleepless weekend, I've started this week not so much bad tempered as just plain tired.  Even the cooler temperatures today have done little to assuage my exhaustion.  But perhaps my exhaustion isn't just physical - everything going on in the world at the moment and being relentlessly beamed into my living room via the TV, web and newspapers, from Gaza to Ukraine, is enough to weary anyone's soul.  To make things worse, I've been foolish enough to keep looking at some of those crackpot conspiracy sites - the way they filter all the ongoing tragedies of the world to somehow fit in with their own twisted perspective has gone from being mildly amusing to downright depressing, not to say outright offensive.  I'm not going to rant on about them again here, I've already given them too much of my time, (although they have given me enough material for at a least a couple of forthcoming stories for The Sleaze).  Besides they've covered the same ground more than adequately here over at Cafespike.

Anyway, the long and the short of all this is that I'm too knackered to write a proper post this evening.  In fact, the main thing on my mind right now (as it has been all day) is the need for me to actually get around to organising my Summer leave from work.  The end of August/beginning of September just can't come quick enough.  The main decision I made today is that I'm going to take advantage of those ten days of annual leave I carried over from last year and take three full weeks off and hope that the good weather holds.  All I have to do now is to make it official.  Then I can look forward to sitting on the beach and watching the ships go by, (my patented relaxation technique).  I'll undoubtedly do other things, but that will be the first thing I do.  Then, hopefully, I can return to the fray feeling refreshed.  Although I suspect it will take more than a few weeks off of work to sort out my current malaise: I'm increasingly unhappy with my role as part of the establishment, the whole direction of what were once the UK's public services and my own recent failures to act in accordance with my own principles.  But apart from that, everything's great!

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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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