Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gay Nazis Must Die (Part Two)

Top conspiracy theorist Sam Nodger has sensationally claimed that secret league of gay Nazis plotted to assassinate Hitler toward the end of World War Two. However, the exposure of the plot and the execution of many of its leaders forced it further underground. Although forced to remain secret, the League developed its own version of the Nazi ideology, positing that it should seek the establishment of a blonde haired, cruelly good-looking race of Aryan homosexuals. Effeminacy was seen as degenerate and unworthy of the true gay Nazi. Plans were drawn up for the establishment of special detention camps for homosexuals from the conquered territories, where degenerate effeminate and submissive non-Aryan gays would be trained as sex-slaves by whip-cracking, black leather clad guards. With Allied victory inevitable, the Gay Nazi League decided that if it was to achieve its dream of an Aryan gay Reich, it would have to relocate its operations. With the aid of Admiral Donitz, its members escaped by U-Boat to Antarctica in 1945. “Several U-Boats were seen off the coast of Argentina in 1945, heading for Antarctica”, Nodger claims. “The League knew, from ancient Tibetan texts recovered by Nazi archaeologists, that the lost civilisation of Atlantis had actually been located within the hollow Earth, beneath the South Pole.”

Since 1945, Nodger believes, the League has been working to establish a self-perpetuating gay Reich through the development of advanced artificial insemination techniques, cloning and genetic manipulation - with their scientists attempting to isolate the “gay Nazi” gene. According to Nodger, the Western powers have long been aware of the gay Nazi presence in Antarctica. In 1946 a US expeditionary force under Admiral Byrd was sent to Antarctica to eradicate the threat. However, many of the sailors were seduced by the Nazis - Byrd’s second in command was last seen dancing into a blizzard hand-in-hand with an SS Colonel - and they were forced to withdraw. Since then the US has been content simply to contain the threat within Antarctica.Gay groups have responded angrily to Nodger’s theories, branding them homophobic and accusing him of perpetuating out-moded gay stereotypes. Professor Jerry Mire - visiting Chair of Politics and Sexuality at the Bangkok Institute of Economic Studies - agrees. “Its a long-standing myth that gay men are into uniforms, jackboots and swastikas. Moreover, transvestites and trans-sexuals are rarely homosexual. Not only that, but no gay man has worn one of those black leather caps since 1975!”

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Download a Sex Offender Today

Apparently, if you illegally download films from the web, you are also likely to steal money from office whip rounds. At least that seems to be the message of the 'Knock Off Nigel' ad campaign running on TV at the moment. I really do find these ads quite offensive in their desperate attempts to manipulate people's perception of downloaders. The whole idea that just because someone indulges in a form of white-collar crime (which most people don't even consider a real crime), they will start stealing from their colleagues is pathetic beyond words. If you are going to indulge in such fact-free name calling, then why not go the whole hog and say that if you illegally download, then you are probably a sex offender, or even a paedophile. Surely if you want to frighten people off of downloading then that's the route to take - download a Coldplay track and you'll turn into a slavering sex fiend.

It precisely this kind of hyperbole which has resulted in the public's lack of sympathy for the recording and broadcasting industries campaign against illegal downloading, (I'm assuming that it is the industry which is behind these ads, which appear to carry no attribution). Equating depriving a wealthy multinational corporation with profits in the billions of dollars with office theft is clearly idiotic. Now, don't misunderstand me, I don't condone illegal downloading. It does constitute theft and, arguably, deprives artists both of royalties and creative control over their work. However, the reality is that the level of royalties the vast majority of artists receive from the corporations is minuscule, and to get even this meagre remuneration, most have been forced to effectively relinquish all creative control, anyway. The reality is that a lot of illegal downloading and copying goes on because of the recording and film industries overcharging for their products. Moreover, if they'd got to grips with new distribution methods like the web in the first place, and established sensible models for commercial downloading, they probably wouldn't be facing this problem now. Or, at least, not on this scale. But let's be realistic, the corporations are as addicted to their profiteering as the downloaders are to not paying for anything. So, for the foreseeable future we're going to be seeing yet more of this puerile name calling.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sensory Deprivation

I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen for quite a while today. She told me that she'd been without a phone, internet or TV for five weeks, (thereby explaining why I hadn't heard from her in an age). I must admit, in view of her sensory deprivation over such a lengthy period, she didn't seem too crazy. Indeed, she seemed slightly less certifiable than she usually does, (generally speaking, her lunacy is one of her most appealing features - it was that which persuaded me to adopt her as a surrogate little sister), which was even more surprising when she told me that she'd been listening to Radio Four quite extensively during this period. I've always imagined that being dead was a rather like listening to Radio Four - an eternity of being forced to listen to pretentious middle class tossers droning on about how awful working class life is and how much better off the lower classes would be if only they'd listen to more stultifyingly boring radio plays about death and dinner parties.

Anyway, getting back to the point, it occurred to me that I couldn't actually think of many great TV highlights she might have missed over the past five weeks. OK, I could only actually think of one off the top of my head: the climax of this series of Doctor Who. Apart from that, what has there been? Hours of moronic ejaculations from the televisual masturbation that is Big Brother? Endless coverage of an international football tournament that none of the UK's teams participated in? Celebrity Master Chef? Yet more ITV drama series so dire they've sat on the shelf for three years before being quietly released into the Summer schedules in the hope that all the other dross will make them look good? I realised that most of my TV highlights from this period have been repeats on obscure channels ending in '4'; The Avengers, The Sweeney and most notably, the still excellent Homicide: Life on the Street, (please ITV 4, stop scheduling this in the middle of the night and give it a decent slot). I suppose you could argue that the lunacy that is Bonekickers on the BBC constitutes a highlight, but only if you are a completely unbalanced conspiracy nut. No, I think on balance that my friend has had the better deal, entertainment wise, so far this Summer.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Private Passions?

I'm confused. So what's new, I hear you ask. True. Britain's news media always leave me confused - although not half as confused as they seem to be as to what it is they're meant to be doing. Apparently, Max Moseley winning his libel case against the News of the World represents a direct threat to freedom of speech in the UK. Now, whilst one might expect a newspaper on the receiving end of such a judgement to say that sort of thing, today we had the extraordinary sight of a former Archbishop of Canterbury weighing in and saying that the judgement threatens public morality. Quite how a judgement saying that a tabloid lied when it accused someone of participating in a Nazi-themed sex orgy does either of those things isn't clear to me. Surely the issue here was one of privacy? What right does anyone, let alone a tabloid newspaper, have to secretly film an individual's private activities, conducted in private, and then expose them publicly?

That's the problem I have with all this. Regardless of the morality of Moseley's behaviour, at no point did the News of the World ever explain why it thought it was in any way justified in running the story. The usual defence for such stories is that it is in the public interest to run them. However, I fail to see what public interest was being served here. What consenting adults get up to in private is surely their business. OK, so I know that Moseley is a public figure in the sense that he is a prominent businessman and the son of Britain's most famous fascist, but it isn't as if he occupies a position in public life where his conduct is likely to influence others. If he was a politician, royalty, even a bishop, you could make a case that indulging in orgies, Nazi-themed or otherwise, was hardly the behaviour you'd expect of someone holding a position of such responsibility, and exposing their hypocrisy would be in the public interest. But in this case, all that the newspaper did was behave like a common or garden peeping Tom. Nobody cares what Max moseley does in private (provided it isn't illegal). Even if he had been having a Nazi-themed orgy (which he wasn't), it still wouldn't have been in the public interest. He doesn't hold public office, he hasn't set himself up as a role model for Britain's youth.

The ruling is important because it re-establishes the concept that there is a clear distinction between the private and the public in the UK, even for the rich and famous. In a society in which we are increasingly brow beaten into believing that surveillance is actually essential for our personal security, where it is OK for any semi-official agency to have access to your private data in the name of national security, it is essential that the idea of privacy is given greater protection. Oh, and to answer Lord Carey, the former Archbishop, Moseley's activities only became a 'threat' to public morality when they were splashed all across the front page by the News of the World. Until then, they were entirely private. If his privacy hadn't been invaded, it would never have been made public. The ruling is actually trying to ensure that this doesn't happen again, that people's private filth will remain just that; private. Besides, I hardly think that his sexual proclivities being exposed will lead to a spate of previously good Christians chaining each other up in basements and having their buttocks whipped raw. They've already doing that for years...

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gay Nazis Must Die?

Leading conspiracy theorist Sam Nodger has astounded the world with his latest claims. The 38 year old Mancunian has recently asserted that leading Nazis escaped from the Third Reich in 1945 in U-Boats and established a fascist base at the South Pole. “It is well known that a series of tunnels runs beneath the Antarctic continent and lead to the hollow interior of the Earth”, he states. According to Nodger these Antarctic dwelling National Socialists are no ordinary Nazis, instead being members of the little-known Gay Nazi League. Despite the Nazi regime’s well documented antipathy toward homosexuals (who were made to wear pink triangles and sent to concentration camps), Nodger claims that many German gays were attracted to the elaborate uniforms with their black leather trimmings and jack boots. “This attraction is seen to this day”, he says. “The traditional gay uniform of black leather and peaked caps is clearly derived from SS uniforms - although I doubt those handlebar moustaches would have been tolerated by Himmler.” He also believes that there is a strong homoerotic undercurrent in present-day neo-Nazi groups. “All that macho posturing and head-shaving - its obviously indicative of men who are insecure about their own sexuality and are trying to overcompensate. Either that, or their dicks are too small.”

Anti-gay feeling within the Nazi armed forces meant that the gay Nazis had to be careful to outwardly conform to the norms of appearance and behaviour. “The League set up secret training camps where they taught new recruits to goose step rather than mince”, Nodger told us. Moustaches, goatee beards and any other form of gay affectation were also suppressed - any indication of non-conformity could prove fatal in the German armed forces. This was true even before the Nazi era and was exploited by the British Army during the First World War. In 1916 famed war hairdresser Vidal Sassoon was sent behind enemy lines and permed the hair of several German units while they slept. The sudden appearance of the “Ypres Bubble Cut” convinced the German High Command that, due to the pressure of trench warfare, their men were turning gay. Consequently, three front-line infantry regiments were shot and another five disbanded.

The Gay Nazi League included several high ranking Nazi officials. Most prominent amongst these was Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering. Goering was well known for his predilection for wearing women’s clothes whilst off-duty, although he claimed this was merely because he felt them more comfortable for larger men like himself. “They allow you more room to move about and are less restrictive”, he reputedly told Rommel. His liking for women’s clothes dated back to at least the First World War, when, it is claimed, he regularly wore women’s underwear under his uniform whilst flying his Fokker Triplane. Indeed, it has been alleged that after he shot down an Allied aircraft for the first time he whipped off his bra and waved it above his head in a victory celebration.

It has also been rumoured that he and his commanding officer Manfred von Richtofen were lovers and that Richtofen’s nickname the Red Baron derived from the colour of his box, rather than his aircraft. Some historians have claimed that Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hesse flew to Britain in 1941 not to meet with leading British fascists (including George Formby and Johnny Morris), as is widely believed, but to escape the advances of Admiral Donitz, another leading gay Nazi. Several Nazi generals, including Model, Bottenhagen and von Donger (the hero of Leningrad), were also members of the League and were involved in the 1944 conspiracy to seduce Hitler and induct him into the organisation. However, the advances of a whip-wielding and fishnet stocking-clad Bottenhagen were resisted by the Fuhrer and the conspirators all executed.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Battle of my Bathroom

Last year I was left feeling like a Nazi war criminal after using Nippon to kill off an ant's nest in my bathroom. This year the little bastards have turned me into Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now. Not only have they come back, but they've proven more resistant to insecticides this time. The final straw came for me on Monday when I returned home from work in the evening to find them swarming up around the tap end of the bath. Drastic action was called for, so I grabbed the nearest aerosol can, found a lighter and deployed a makeshift flame thrower, (don't try this at home kids - I'm an expert, I've only ever burned a couple of holes in carpets and set fire to a duvet using this particular form of insect repellent - in untrained hands it could easily lead to the entire house burning down). Hundreds of the little buggers were scythed down as I torched their beach head. I followed this up by washing the bodies and any survivors down the plug hole with the shower attachment.

Now, you'd have thought that turning my bathroom into Vietnam would have been enough to persuade the little bastards that they should cease and desist, and move elsewhere. But apparently not. I came home yesterday to find them at it again. Once more I napalmed, the deluged them, with a repeat performance a couple of hours later when they returned. For the second day running, the ants suffered heavy casualties. Finally, by about ten o'clock they'd given up, and there was no sign of them this morning. However, it appears that victory wasn't mine. This evening, they were back, albeit in reduced numbers. This time they only got the shower treatment. Frankly, I'm amazed that there are enough of them left to keep mounting these operations. Where will it end? Will I have to don mirrored shades and start playing Wagner as I burn them out with a blow torch? Unfortunately, I don't like the smell of napalm - or, in this case, the smell of cheap Asda own brand deodorant - in the morning, evening or any time, in fact. I'm going back to check on them in a couple of hours. It's got to the stage now where I have to ensure there are no survivors - if the ants' master plan ever comes to fruition and they take over, I don't want to be indicted as a war criminal on the basis of their evidence...

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Holy Hypocrisy!

For those of us not of a religious bent, this furore over gay priests and women bishops in the Anglican church is somewhat mystifying. What does one's gender or sexual orientation have to do with anybody's ability to preach the Christian message? In any other walk of life excluding someone from a job on such grounds would count as sexual discrimination and be illegal. They really should take a leaf out of their Roman Catholic rivals' book and adopt a more liberal policy when it comes to employment. I mean, the Catholics don't just have gay priests (albeit in the closet ones), but they've gone a stage further and have decided that sexual deviancy need be no bar to entering the priesthood - just look at the number of peadophiles they have in their ranks. They're also highly supportive of single mothers - their priests have certainly been responsible for creating enough of them. They also aren't too worried about your political leanings - they're currently being run by a retired Nazi, after all.

Of course, the secret to the Catholic's flexibility on such moral issues lies with the confessional. It doesn't matter what horrendous things you do, how many choir boys you bugger, how many Papal bulls you sexually molest, or how many illegitimate children you have by the local nuns, just so long as you confess it all, it'll be OK. Your soul will be saved. OK, you'll have to do a bit of a penance, but I think we'd all agree that fifteen hail Marys for each breast groping of a novice nun in the vestry isn't a bad exchange rate. Consequently, it doesn't matter how colossal a pervert you are, or what your culpability in the Holocaust might be, your soul has been cleansed and, in the eyes of the Church, you are forgiven. Unless you commit suicide, obviously. Then you're buggered. So, that's my advice for the Lambeth Conference when it comes to all these moral dilemmas they've invented for themselves - just follow the left footers' example; confess all your 'sins' in private, sweep it all under the carpet and just carry on as if nothing has happened. Hell, it's worked for the past couple of thousand years.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rise of the Techno Nonces

What's the world coming to, eh? Virtually all day on Friday, all I heard on radio news programmes was how an online dating site for teenagers was being used by middle-aged men to contact young girls. Now, leaving aside the moral issues (I think we all agree that peadophilia is bad), this is another news story which raises the question of whether we're becoming over obsessed with technology for its own sake. I mean, is it really necessary for these nonces to go to all the trouble of going online, creating fake identities, setting up proxy servers to hide their IPs and then joining this site, pretending to be a teenager and engaging in meaningless web chats with children, just to meet teenage girls? Believe me, if you want to meet teenage girls all you have to do is go to any off licence after about eight o'clock in the evening and you'll find whole gangs of them loitering about, willing to do just about anything for anybody stupid enough to buy alcohol for them.

The trouble is that we've all been blinded by technology into thinking that no activity can possibly be efficient unless we do it electronically with the aid of half a dozen wi fi enabled devices. Trust me, the simple way is often the best and most effective way. The rise of the techno-pervert is symptomatic of this malaise. We've got mucky little men messing around with web cams in toilets and the like in order to spy on women, when in the good old days they'd need nothing more sophisticated than a couple of milk crates to stand on while they peered through some female neighbour's bathroom window. OK, so the modern method means you can whack off over live images of your victim in the comfort of your own home, rather than trying to do it one-handed whilst balancing on those wobbly milk crates. Granted, it also carries less chance of being discovered and caught by the police (not to mention fewer risks of serious injuries). But is it as satisfying? Does it give you the same kind of adrenaline rush, knowing that any moment you could be spotted and forced to confront your victim, face-to-face? Hell, if you are going to be a pervert, at least have the good grace to do it first hand and give your intended victims a chance of retaliating.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Phantom Horse Strangler and Other Local News...

Local news stories - they always fascinate me. It's the way in which the way local reporting always seems to be slightly 'off centre' and emphasises the wrong parts of stories. Let's look at a couple of recent examples. A few weeks ago there was a sensational sounding report about a horse being strangled in a field outside a nearby town. Yes, a horse. And yes, it was strangled. Obviously, this conjured up pictures in my mind's eye of a maniac wandering around the countryside in dead of night, stalking terrified horses and throttling them with his bare hands. I couldn't help but envision a 'Jack the Ripper' type figure in a cape and top hat, cackling maniacally as he choked the life from another horse. A horse strangler - there's a type of serial killer you don't see in the movies, I thought, this could really put us on the map. However, what the story only added as almost an afterthought was that the horse had been wearing a rope halter, which had become caught on a tree. The strangulation was entirely accidental. If they'd simply said that the animal had choked to death in their headline, the confusion would have bee avoided. Mind you, a horse accidentally choking to death isn't anywhere near as sensational as the idea of a horse strangler being on the loose...

In our second example, a man was found decapitated, apparently with a chainsaw, in his flat. He was the last tenant in the block, which was being cleared by its owner, a hosing association, prior to redevelopment. Unlike the other tenants, the victim had turned down offers of re-housing, refusing to leave the flat. The housing association was believed to be in the process of obtaining a repossession order from the County Court in order to evict him. All the ingredients for a huge scandal - tenant brutally murdered by developers when he stood in the way of their plans, perhaps. However, the story concluded by saying that the case "wasn't being treated as suspicious". What? Not suspicious? The bloke's had his bloody head cut off - hardly a normal method of suicide! I'm not an expert, but I would imagine that it is bloody difficult to chop your own head off with a chainsaw! What really gets me is the way the story simply ended on this statement, not elaborating on it in any way. There have also been no follow ups. The whole decapitation angle was treated almost as a footnote to the eviction saga. Unlike the horse saga, which tries to make a mundane accident seem sinister, this story all but ignores a sensational aspect central to it! Local reporting - don't you just love it?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quite an Education

I haven't mentioned my attempts to actually use my hard earned teaching qualification to get a job in teaching. There's a good reason for that. Basically, I've given up. I've found that teaching is one of the biggest closed shops around. Believe me, unless you enter it straight from university and can get a job at the school or college where you did your placement, forget it. It doesn't matter how well qualified you are, or how good you are, the odds are stacked against you if you have the audacity to try and enter through any other route. Oh, sure, it's relatively easy to get the requisite qualifications, but, as I've found, trying to use them is next to impossible. My experiences this Summer have taught me that the colleges I'm applying to have decided who they're going to offer the job to long before the interview. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I went to one interview where I was one of only three candidates - pretty good odds, eh? I thought so. Until I found that one of the candidates had done their placement at the college. Now, it's normal at these interviews for all the candidates to take a short class. Indeed, I was told (in writing) that this would be the case here. Consequently, I put quite a bit of effort into preparing a lesson. On the day, it transpired that the college didn't have any students available for this activity! As a result, we all ended up just talking through what we would have done in our lesson, had there been a class to teach, with two members of the teaching staff. Two members of the teaching staff who had worked with the 'internal' candidate and had seen them teach several hours of classes throughout the preceding academic year. Hardly a fair contest. In my other example, I didn't even get as far as the interview - I was invited, but at less than 48 hours notice, meaning that I couldn't get any cover at work. Oh, they claimed to have tried to get me by phone, but complained that my voice mail was on. So why the fuck didn't they leave a message? I would have got it long before the e-mail they did send. To compound the fact that they really didn't try very hard to contact me, they also dropped the bombshell that the posts on offer were not, as advertised, permanent appointments, but temporary posts for a single term! Jesus, don't make it too obvious that you are just going through the motions of being seen to advertise a job you'd already effectively appointed someone to.

The long and the short of it all is that it has become quite obvious that I'm just being used so that colleges can claim that they have put posts up to free and open competition, even though they already know who is going to be appointed. Well, if I can't play on a level playing field, then I'm simply not prepared to play at all. Where does this leave me? In limbo, I guess. There's a part of me which feels that all the energy I put into getting my PGCE was a waste of time. However, I'm not prepared to carry on wasting considerable amounts of my time and effort preparing for fake interviews. I'm sorry if I've broken some unspoken 'rule' of teaching by coming into the profession at a mature age after having careers elsewhere. I'm sorry if I make the established educators feel insecure because I've actually experienced life outside of teaching (apparently something of a crime, I've gathered). But if that's such a problem to the world of teaching, then they can fuck off and stop wasting my time.


Monday, July 14, 2008

For Your Delectation -

OK folks, I'm going to do something I rarely do - give a plug to somebody else's site. The site in question is Tripartisan, a site which aims to be a social news-type site specialising in satire. You know the sort of thing - Digg, Propeller, Reddit are all well known examples of the social news site - people sign up as users, submit stories and vote on them. Hopefully, a community of like-minded individuals grows up around the site, they get exposed to stories they might otherwise have missed, the stories themselves actually reach an interested audience and get some decent traffic. Everybody's happy. Of course, all this is easier said than done - getting these things up and running is the difficult bit. In order to attract users, they need publicity. So here I am, doing my bit for a new start up.

But why am I championing this particular site. Once again, I must stress that I have no connection with it. I do, however, have an ulterior motive - the need to generate traffic for The Sleaze. That's the unique selling point of Tripartisan - it specializes in satire. None of the other social news sites do this. Sure, they have 'humor' categories, but if you submit there, you'll find yourself rubbing shoulders with cute pictures of dogs in hats, videos of people falling over and stories about people getting their penises stuck in letter boxes. In such circumstances, carefully crafted satire doesn't stand a chance. Consequently, such sites tend to drive very little traffic my way (or to most other satire sites). That's why I think we should get behind this new venture. So, if you are a satire-site owner reading this, get over to Tripartisan and start submitting your stuff. Even better, if you are a reader interested in satire, get over there and start submitting stories from your favourite sites. Go on. You know you want to.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The 501st Post

The previous post was, amazingly, the 500th I've made here. As I didn't want such a milestone to be marked by another whingeing session from me, I instead substituted a piece of topical satire, which also served as a first draft for the latest story over at The Sleaze: The Big Political Sell Out. So, I decided to hold the moaning over until the 501st post. Quite apart from my regular moan about the current lack of traffic (last weekend traffic to The Sleaze plumbed new depths, it looked set to do even worse today, until an incredible turnaround this evening), I'd like to address the issue of people stealing my content. I don't like using the word stealing, but when other web users persist in reproducing, without permission, entire stories from my site, I really don't know what else to call it. Sure, I know that most of them provide a cursory link back to the site, but that isn't the point. They haven't had the courtesy to ask my permission to reproduce something I've spent a considerable amount of time and effort creating. The only place people should be able to read it in its entirety is on my site. By reproducing it without my permission, these people are trying to deny me control over where, and in what context, my own work appears.

All sorts of 'justifications' are used for this theft, most notably the nonsense that is 'creative commons'. This should really only be invoked with respect to the use of excerpts from copyrighted material for educational purposes. Strangely, I don't think that anything in The Sleaze could be classified as 'educational'. I know this whole area is a minefield, in which we are all culpable. Like most web site editors, I frequently use images from the web as the basis for illustrations and graphics. However, I do always try to use public domain material and make some kind of creative alterations so as to, arguably, create a new image. Text-based work is somewhat different, even if you make alterations and thereby claim 'ownership' of a 'new' version, you are still using the bulk of the original, which constitutes plagiarism. The bottom line is that nobody should be reproducing copyrighted material, in its entirety, without permission. If you want to use any of my work and can't be arsed to seek permission, it's quite simple, just reproduce an excerpt with a link back to the original if people want to read it all. I won't come and threaten you with legal action if you follow that rule (unless you take the piss and the 'excerpt' constitutes more than a third of the original). Mind you, if I don't like the nature of your site (if, for example, it promotes racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, fascism or any other form of extremism), I might well demand you remove my material. Obviously, I can't police the whole net, hunting down illegal use of my stories, so, if you come across someone reproducing one of my stories (or anybody else's, for that matter) and you think it's been done without permission, confront them about it. We really do have to get a grip on this issue.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Political Sell Out?

With its poll ratings hitting rock bottom and following a series of humiliating by-election defeats, the governing Labour Party is facing the prospect of being classified as a 'failing' political party. "The consequences could be devastating," warns political analyst Jim Throng. "Just like a failing school or hospital, the Labour Party will face the prospect of having a private company brought in to manage it in an attempt to improve its performance." Not surprisingly, many Labour MPs are unhappy at the prospect of seeing Prime Minister Gordon Brown replaced by a Chief Executive from the world of commerce and the cabinet displaced by a board of directors. "These corporate takeovers always lead to job losses and pay cuts as they try to improve productivity," commented backbencher Dan Wigginthap. "Then there's the whole constitutional question - is it right that we should suddenly find ourselves governed by an unelected and unaccountable management team, pursuing short-term profits for their shareholders rather than the public good?" However, others are more enthusiastic at the prospect of a corporate takeover for the party. "It worked wonders for the Tories," observes former Labour advisor Frank Bumlee. "Until a couple of years ago they were going nowhere - they were in a worse position in the polls than we are now. But once they brought in that new management team, they've been beating the pants off of us at every turn." Indeed, the Conservative's takeover by a group of City financiers, which saw hitherto obscure stockbroker David Cameron installed as leader, has sparked a renaissance in the party's political fortunes.

"It's bloody fantastic, freed from all that ideological baggage, the sky's the limit as far as policy goes," enthuses Clive Shagbagg, one of the party's senior policy advisers. "We can run the party along business lines now - policy is customer led, with us giving a volatile electorate whatever it is they want on a daily basis." Like a supermarket, the emphasis in the Tory party is now on keeping policies fresh. "If they're past their sell-by date, we just ditch 'em and start pushing the next big thing instead," declares Shagbagg. "Even better, we just re-package the old stuff and sell it to the punters as something new. Either that, or we clear the old policy stocks with two-for-one offers - the voters love to think they're getting a bargain." This consumerist approach to politics certainly seems to have paid off, with the Tories riding high in the popularity polls. "It's basic retail economics - give the customer what they want," says Shagbagg. "Trust me, the average voter doesn't give a toss about principles and ideology. They just want to know who can sell 'em health, education, security and freedom cheapest."

Whilst it is thought that the Labour leadership's preferred private-sector bidder would be Sir Alan Sugar, widely believed to be a New Labour sympathiser who would probably retain Gordon Brown as a nominal figurehead, Richard Branson's Virgin group is fast emerging as favourite to to take over running of the party. "I know that people will say that we don't have any experience of government," says a company spokesperson, "but we didn't know anything about running trains, airlines or internet service providers, either. But look what a fantastic success we've made of all those enterprises!" It is thought that one of Virgin's first acts, if they were to win the takeover battle, would be to wind up the party's internal policy-making organs and outsource their functions to independent think-tanks. "Putting policy out to competitive tendering would ensure that we got the very best policies," explains the company spokesperson, "formulated on the basis of value for money rather than narrow ideology." However, it seems likely that Virgin could face a stiff challenge for the Labour franchise from a surprise bidder - the Liberal Democrats. "Look, taking over the governing party is probably the best chance of power we're going to get," says party leader Nick Clegg. "Let's be honest, it's probably the only chance we're ever going to have." There is, of course, a precedent for such a move: following the last General Election, the British National Party actively considered making an offer for the Tory party, before concluding that it was too right wing for them.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Crap Heap Challenge

I was watching Scrapheap Challenge on Channel Four the other day (it was on right after that edition of Time Team I was talking about in the previous post), and I got to thinking about ways they could make it more interesting. Now, the obvious way would be to have the teams make something a bit more dangerous than jet engines, high pressure hoses or diving bells from the contents of the scrap yard. Personally, I'd like to see them making potentially lethal weapons - for the early rounds they wouldn't have to be sophisticated: swords, lances, cross bows, that sort of thing. Later on you could get them making muskets, cannons, bazookas, even. In fact, you could have one team making a tank, and the others making a bazooka to try and take it out. Actually, that would work in the earlier rounds, just substitute a suit of armour for the tank, and a battle axe for the bazooka. OK, so there's a risk of a few maimings, maybe even a decapitation or two. But hey, it's all in the name of entertainment, so it's alright.

Much as I like this idea, it still seemed a bit too easy - how difficult can it be to build a low-yield nuclear device, or a ballistic missile capable of hitting London (the challenges for the final), when you've got the full resources of a scrap yard at your disposal! Where's the challenge in that? Wouldn't it be even more challenging if they had to build stuff from a heap of crap? Yes, crap. No, I haven't a clue how you'd build a car using only excreta, but it would be fun to watch, wouldn't it? I've also got some ideas for enlivening Time Team. Instead of waiting to be invited to dig somewhere, they should just turn up and start excavating in people's gardens, or farmer's fields or even public parks, and see how far they can get before they're chased off by a shotgun-wielding farmer or householder. Frankly, the sight of Tony Robinson being chased down some Home Counties street by an enraged retired stock broker waving a golf club, would considerably brighten up my Sunday afternoons.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Digging the Past

I think I've finally come up with a solution for my garden - I'm going to write to Time Team and tell them that I think there's a Roman villa under it. Then, with any luck, they'll come and dig it up, then restore it to some semblance of order and tidiness, all at Channel Four's expense. OK, I'd have to put up with Tony Robinson and that idiot with a hat wandering around my property for three days, but I feel that's a small price to pay for tidying up my back garden. Now, I know what you are thinking - won't they be a bit suspicious when they don't actually find a Roman villa under the garden? Well, I've seen enough editions of Time Team now that it's obvious that most of the time they don't ever uncover anything of archaeological interest - mainly because they seem not to a have a clue what they're doing. Luring them to my garden should be straightforward - all I need to do is present them with some old Roman coins covered in dirt, and a few bits of twisted wire I tell them are Roman bracelets.

This tactic certainly seemed to work for the owner of a field in Surrey in the edition I saw yesterday. Mind you, to be fair, they did actually find some evidence of Roman habitation. However, the conclusions they were drawing from the evidence seemed wide of the mark, to say the least. Early on, they seemed to have decided that the area had been the site of a temple and then proceeded to try and make everything they discovered fit this theory. Unfortunately, as the dig progressed it appeared to me that this theory was less and less credible - everything pointed to evidence of ovens or furnaces being there, contained within non-domestic buildings. First of all they decided that there might have been some kind of market there (possibly with a shrine attached), then it became an industrial site, with smelting facilities, which might have been built on the site of a shrine. Frankly, it seemed obvious to me, bearing in mind that the site was right beside the main Roman London-Brighton road, that it had been a Roman transport cafe or service station. Perhaps with chariot repair facilities (explaining the smelting capabilities). It's just as credible as anything they were coming up with, and better explained the facts. You never know, there might well have been a shrine there - if modern motorway service stations are anything to go by, Roman travellers would probably want to pray to some deity or other before actually eating anything there.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Rules of the Game

I was listening to Jo Whiley in the car this morning (I know, it happens to the best of us), when a topic which has perplexed me a great deal came up - just what significance can us males attach to those Xs women out at the end of text and e-mail messages? Is just one 'kiss' normal? Or does it mean something deeper? This is important stuff to the male of the species - we find it difficult enough to read the signals women send out to us, even when we're face-to-face with them. The advent of things like text-messaging have made it ten times more difficult. What are we supposed to do? Misreading these signs could prove catastrophic! Anyway, Jo Whiley assured me that one 'kiss' is just a friend thing - so I haven't been misreading the signals.

However, can we be sure that all women are consistent on this subject? Just because one of them thinks one 'kiss' is a friendship thing doesn't mean the rest do as well. Clearly, what we need here are a universally agreed set of rules. Right now, the relationship situation is like the early days of football - organised locally with only the broad principles of the game agreed, and lots of local variations on rules. An emotional equivalent to the Football Association needs to be set up to formalise the rules with regard to women. Then, at least, we men will know where we stand. If we're in any doubt as to the intentions of a member of the opposite sex, we can simply consult the rule book. It would be that easy. Just imagine what a better place the world would be with this simple innovation - no misunderstandings, no embarrassment, no heartache. Wonderful! Let's do it!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More From the Who-mour Mill

With speculation over this coming Saturday's finale of Doctor Who's fourth season running rampant across the web, I decided that it was about time I jumped on the band wagon. Some of the theories I've read have been pretty wild (and highly entertaining), but most, I suspect, are pretty wide of the mark. What surprises me is that nobody (so far, anyway), seems to have attached any significance to the final episode's title - Journey's End. Titles are usually, in my experience, pretty significant, giving a good clue as to the episode's content. Now, obviously, this title refers to the fact that it is the last episode, and implies, with its note of finality, that someone is going to leave, perhaps even die. However, we shouldn't forget that Journey's End is also the title of a play by R C Sheriff (famously filmed by James Whale back in the 1930s), inspired by his experiences in the trenches of World War One. Now, I think it a bit of a stretch to draw an analogy between the world weary officer hero of the play and the Doctor's experiences in the 'Time Wars', but I'm sure there will be some thematic link between the two, with regard to the futility and horror of war.

But if we just want pure, wild speculation, then let's not forget that R C Sheriff later had a highly successful career as a Hollywood script writer, adapting H G Wells' The Invisible Man for James Whale in 1933. Playing the title role was, of course, Claude Rains, and, as we all know, in Heroes, former Doctor Christopher Eccleston played a character who called himself Claude Rains. Ergo, David Tennant will regenerate back into Christopher Eccleston at the beginning of the episode, as the moody, black leather jacketed Ninth Doctor is far more suited to kicking Davros' mechanical arse than the more effete Tenth Doctor. Adding further credence to this theory is the fact that James Whale was gay and therefore Russell T Davies, being a gay man, will be a huge fan of his and will want to pay an (indirect) homage to him with this plot twist. How's that for speculation? I think I've got it all in there; the tenuous links, the complete lack of concrete facts and even the gay angle for those homophobes obsessed with the alleged gay subtext in the current Who. I've come to the conclusion that the people who make up the online Doctor Who speculation are the same people who make up the football transfer speculation over on NewsNow. (Perhaps that's where the truth lies - Robbie Keane will be the new Doctor in a transfer coup which sees David Tennant moving to White Hart Lane to fill that tricky left of midfield slot).

If you want to know what I think will really happen on Saturday - I think it highly unlikely that the Doctor will regenerate into a new incarnation (at least, not permanently), as David Tennant has already started filming the specials to be shown next year and features in several sequences filmed for the conclusion of the last episode. I'm guessing that the conclusion of the episode will hinge on a dilemma for the Doctor as to whether to go against his principles and alter the past in order to defeat Davros and restore the 'natural order'. The rights, wrongs and consequences of such actions have been a recurring theme in this series, featuring in several episodes. Which companion will, as Dalek Caan has predicted, die? Bearing in mind that Caan said it would be the "Doctor's most faithful companion" who would suffer "everlasting death" (or words to that effect), I'll speculate wildly and say that it will be his severed hand in the jar - after all it was once part of him (you can't get more faithful than that), and it has (for the past three series), effectively been dead-yet-alive. Ultimately, of course, I haven't a clue what will happen. Maybe the Doctor will regenerate permanently - in which case it will have been an amazing coup for the BBC to have kept this secret and I applaud them) - perhaps Donna/Martha/Rose will die. I just don't know, and neither does anyone else outside of the production team, cast and probably senior BBC executives. So, ignore the speculation and just sit down on Saturday and enjoy what's shaping up to be one of the most entertaining TV events of the year. It's what I'll be doing.