Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blogger is Being Shit Yet Again...

OK, I wrote a post for today, but when I published it, half of it was missing. Once again, Blogger had failed to save all of it. The missing section appears to be irretrievably lost. Gee, thanks Blogger! Great to have my time wasted yet again! This really is getting beyond a joke. So, if you were expecting a post - blame Blogger. Or, to be more accurate, Google, as they own Blogger. I really don't have the time or energy to try and rewrite the post. So I've deleted it and replaced it with this. Great, eh?


Monday, May 30, 2011

Caught Offside

"Trust me, it's the truth - Sepp Blatter was behind the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Blatter had got word that Osama was planning to stand against him in FIFA's presidential elections. He feared that, as Bin Laden was widely regarded as being less corrupt and autocratic than the existing FIFA regime, there was a good chance he'd win the contest. It's rumoured that he already had the English FA's vote in the bag in return for a promise of no suicide bombings at Premiership football grounds." This astonishing revelation - set to rock world football's governing body to its foundations - was relayed to me by a shadowy figure known only as 'Deep Bladder'. Summoned via Twitter to a 3 am meeting on the lowest level of an underground car park in Staines, I found myself confronted by a raincoat-clad, trilby hatted individual, lurking behind a pillar in the car park's murky depths. Whilst his revelation was certainly sensational, a question kept nagging at me: why would the US government collude with FIFA, the governing body of what is, effectively, a minority sport in the US? "Isn't it obvious? Blatter actually hates football! Surely his conduct as FIFA president for the past thirteen years proved that?" rasped the half-hidden figure, as it dragged on a cigarette. "The truth is that he's in the pay of the NFL - the plan is to completely discredit football as a global sport, paving the way for American Football to replace it in the world's affections."

With Bin Laden dead and the only other challenger for the FIFA presidency - Bin Hammam suspended and banned from all footballing activity, including playing Subuteo or enjoying a kickabout in the local park with his grandchildren - the way is now open for Blatter to complete his historic mission of destruction. "There's nothing that can stop him now," opined my shadowy friend. "His aim is to discredit football in its every manifestation - he's even plotting to have a 'corruption option' illicitly installed in those football manager computer games! Unscrupulous players will be able to bribe the opposing players and match officials into throwing matches!" However, there might yet be hope for world football, according to a subsequent meeting with another anonymous source, this time arranged via Facebook. "Her Majesty's government has suspected Sepp Blatter of being an evil super villain for some time now," my dinner-jacketed contact revealed during a mid-afternoon meeting in a Reading branch of Burger King. "The fact that his clearly criminal organisation is based in Switzerland - a favourite haven of Nazis and international criminal geniuses - was a big clue. We have it on very good authority that, if Blatter wins another term, he's planning on relocating FIFA to an extinct volcano in Japan." The humiliation of Premier David Cameron when, despite his personal support, England's bid for the 2018 World Cup was snubbed, seems to have sealed Blatter's fate. "Look, Dave's a fellow old Etonian, and 'The Service' doesn't like to see one of it's own treated that way," the contact continued. "The revelation that Blatter has been sanctioning assassinations himself has given us the perfect justification for authorising a 'Wet Job'. Rest assured, we've put our best man on the job. You can expect to see Blatter 'ruled offside' on a permanent basis - just as soon as we've got enough air miles for his ticket, that is."


Friday, May 27, 2011

In The Country

As I'm still feeling stressed by recent events at work, it must be time for another film, to evoke memories of a happier time:

This one was shot on a sweltering hot Easter Day in a local country park. Thanks to the magic of editing, the route I take in the film is impossible to take in real life. Once again, time and space are bent to my will! As ever, I shot lots of footage that day, with no clear idea of how I was going to put it together. Surprisingly, the end result isn't too bad. Certainly, I feel it's a better effort than 'On The Trail', which preceded it. Weather and time permitting, I might be able to shoot some more stuff while I'm off work next week. Who knows?


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Humorfeed Returns

Well, my obituary of Humorfeed was premature, as the site is, I'm happy to say, up and running again. Hopefully the bugs whicj caused its database to crash are now repaired and we can look forward to it staying up for the foreseeable future. The site's return was timely, as it allowed me to wring a few more page views from I Buried Osama!, a story that had already been pretty successful. Indeed, all of Issue 70's roster of stories has done pretty well, (although it is early days yet for Named and Shamed). Perhaps surprisingly, as it was the most whimsical story, Confessions of a Sex Murderer has proven to be far and away the most popular story this issue. Somebody posted a link to it on Twitter which, for some unknown reason, got re-tweeted all over the place for the next twenty four hours, racking up an impressive number of page views.

So, the question is, can Issue 71 match up to the exploits of its predecessor? Unfortunately, that's one of the great imponderables of web publishing. As Confessions of a Sex Murderer showed, you never can tell what's going to be popular. I've had stories containing what should be all the ingredients for a sure fire hit tank completely. I've got a couple of stories in varying states of completion which I think could do well, although I haven't yet decided on their publication order. Hopefully, I should have one of them complete and ready to lead off Issue 71 next week. The other thing I'm hoping to make some more progress on next week, as I'm off work then, is The Sleaze's now legendary revamp. Over Easter I managed to get about a third of the story archive moved over onto a database. Since then I just haven't had time to do much more. However, I'm aiming to transfer another third of the archive next week, keeping myself on track for an August/September relaunch. Hopefully!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll

I don't know about you, but at times of stress I seek solace in the familiar - I reread much loved books, watch favourite movies and and bask in the warmth of memories of good times, times when I was happy. Of late, I've been greatly aided in the latter by the various films and pictures I've shot of my various outdoor activities over the past couple of years. The above picture is a good example - I took it over Easter and it triggers great memories of walking down that woodland path, through the bluebells, to an Iron Age burial mound. A beautiful day, full of sunshine and birdsong, with me feeling incredibly relaxed, without a care in the world.

I have to say that, right now, I'm bloody glad that I've got the good times - well, the memory of them, at least - on tap, so to speak. I'm afraid that I'm feeling very unsettled following last week's change of workplace. My usual work routines have been completely upset, and I just can't seem to settle into a new routine. It isn't so bad when I'm out of the office, but the thought of my nomadic office existence, denied a permanent desk and workstation, hang heavily over my days. It used to be that my time in the office was something to be looked forward to - an oasis of stability and normality in my turbulent working day, full of familiar routines and schedules. Now, it's worse than when I'm out working the streets - the office is full of stress and tension, with no certainty of how or when I can get down and do the administrative work I have to do every day. So, I'm reading Len Deighton novels, watching guilty pleasures like The Good Thief and looking at my pictures of woodland walks. Roll on next week - I'm off work and free from this upset for a few days.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Tweet and Be Damned

All present and correct after the Rapture? Obviously we're all sinners as we weren't amongst the 'chosen' who ascended to heaven at six o'clock on Saturday. I can't deny that I'm quite glad that I wasn't one of the chosen - I would have missed the latest episode of Dr Who if I'd have floated off at six. I daresay that one person who wishes that they'd been whisked away on Saturday evening is Ryan Giggs - who I can apparently mention now in connection with that superinjunction, as he's been 'outed' now in parliament - having been the subject of a whispering campaign on Twitter, then a front page headline in Scotland, (where the injunction didn't apply), concerning his private life. Of course, we still don't actually know that he is the footballer who obtained the injunction to prevent reporting of his alleged affair with a former reality TV micro-celebrity. I think it safe to assume that he is the footballer who was trying to get Twitter to give up the details of people tweeting his name in conjunction with the injunction. Which doesn't mean the tweeters were right. After all, it seems more likely that he'd be trying to take action against Twitter users if he had been wrongly identified by them.

Think about it, if he was the anonymous injunction-seeker, taking such action would surely only serve to confirm that the Tweeters were right. Which is what leaves me uneasy about this whole business - the fact that people were bandying about someone's name in public, basically saying that he'd had an extra-marital affair, without actually knowing for sure that it was true. What if they'd got it wrong, and it turned out that they'd been busily defaming an innocent man? Would the moralising bastards behind the campaign have felt any remorse? I somehow doubt it. The fact is that exercises of this nature have less to do with principles than with self-importance on the part of those participating. Cyber-mobs deluding themselves into thinking that they're doing something radical and important by Tweeting someone's name is one of the things about the web which are increasingly pissing me off. It's a pity the Rapture didn't take all these holier-than-thou bastards who are apparently so without sin themselves they're able to throw stones (via twitter) at others.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Ruptured Rapture

Frankly, after a week spent alternately trying to sort out yet more car troubles, (actually, it's the same trouble recurring), and moving offices, I'm completely knackered. The fact that I haven't been sleeping well simply compounds my feeling of exhaustion. So, here I am on a Friday evening, crashed out on my sofa, eating doughnuts, trying not to watch the poisonous parody of itself that Have I Got News For You has become, and asking myself, what's the point? I mean, really, what was the point of all that fevered activity this week? It's the Rapture tomorrow, for God's sake! All the pious and Godly people will ascend to Heaven, leaving us sinners to endure a Hell on earth, until the world ends completely in October. Will we sinners be given a chance to repent our sins before October, so as to book a place in Heaven? Not that I'm keen on repenting my sins - I quite enjoyed committing them.

Anyway, this Rapture could have serious consequences - will there be anybody left to read this after tomorrow? Will it precipitate another catastrophic drop in my web traffic? To be fair, if you've ever read anything I've published on the web, then there's very little likelihood that you'll be ascending to Heaven any time soon. I do find that October date for the end of the world a bit worrying though - I might not have my revamped version of The Sleaze ready by then, (at least, not at the rate I'm progressing with it at present). Getting back to the point, even if the Rapture does take place tomorrow, will we notice? After all, how many of us are likely to know anyone pious enough to ascend to Heaven? The numbers involved will surely be infinitesimal. As for the Hell on earth we're promised, with this awful government, we're suffering it already, aren't we? Ah well, I've finished the doughnuts and Have I Got New For You was almost bearable tonight. So, I guess I'll just crack open a beer and brace myself for the Rapture.

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Humorfeed Update

It seems that reports of Humorfeed's death, (mainly emanating from me), are hopefully exaggerated. Whilst it isn't up and running again, it does now display a message:

5/20/11: We're experiencing technical issues with our database at the moment. We are working to restore service as quickly as possible, and apologize for the interruption. In the meanwhile, please visit our partner sites.

So, with a bit of luck, it seems that the old site could be operational again sometime in the foreseeable future. Which, as far as I'm concerned, can only be good news.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving Out, Moving On

Today I moved out of the office I've occupied for the past six or seven years. For several years before that, I was in a similar office on the floor below. For the foreseeable future, I won't have an office. I won't even have a desk. No, I haven't been sacked, or resigned. Rather, the organisation I work for has moved from its current premises. However, thanks to a series of staggeringly inept decisions, (or, to be more accurate, non-decisions), we currently have nowhere permanent to move to. Instead, staff have been relocated to two temporary locations. The good part of my relocation is that it is only five minutes walk from house, the bad, as I've alluded to, is that I'll be forced to 'hot desk'. As I've mentioned before, I spend most of my time working out of the office. Nevertheless, I do still need to do a fair amount of paper work, and this situation will cause me major inconvenience. Anyway, having spent so long working there, I thought I'd take some pictures of my old work place. So, I give to you a melancholy slide show of the old place as it was this morning:

The first three shots are of my office, followed by the main admin office and one of the judge's chambers. To finish up, there are a series of the kind of panoramic views of Crapchester that we can no longer enjoy.

The whole moving business has stirred up the feeling in me that maybe it is about time I moved on. I've been feeling very restless of late, nagged by a vague sense that I need to get out of a rut and do something different. I even found myself looking at American cars again. However, I don't think that buying another Mustang or Camaro, (or even that Trans Am I never got round to owning during my last US car phase), will satisfy these urges. Perhaps I should move house, or take time out from work and go to California (another unfulfilled ambition). Ultimately, though, I keep coming back to the fact that I really need to do something different to earn a living, before I'm too old to change tracks. Previous attempts haven't worked out though - teaching led nowhere, for instance. I still keep pondering whether there is some way I can build on this - the blog and The Sleaze - to create some alternative form of income. God knows, I need to do something more creative for a living than my current employment.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Upwardly Mobile

Have you ever been forced to replace something and been left feeling that you've become completely out of touch with technology? I was left feeling that way recently, after I replaced my mobile phone. Have I mentioned that I've got a new phone? I didn't actually have any intention of upgrading my (by modern standards) ancient hand set, but, a few weeks ago it disgraced itself, when a text sent to me by Little Miss Strange on a Saturday, didn't reach me until the following Tuesday, despite the phone having been on in the interim. Actually, before we go any further: did I mention that Little Miss Strange had resurfaced? As you might recall, she was forced to go on the run last year, after friends of that horse she punched out started making threats against her. Anyway, she's managed to sneak back into the country under an assumed identity and a false moustache, and was trying to get her job back as The Sleaze's legal advisor. Now, I'm not saying that I'm scared of a woman who punches horses, but Little Miss Strange wasn't too happy about apparently being ignored, so when she 'suggested' I replace my mobile, I felt it best to comply, (even though I know that the delayed text was probably down to network problems rather than a hardware failure).

So, getting back to the new phone, it seemed shockingly advanced to a man used to a monochrome display. Not only does it have a colour screen, but it takes pictures - not just stills, but video, as well. OK, the quality of these is crap, but nevertheless, it still has novelty value for me. Even more amazingly, it receives FM radio and has web connectivity. I know it's hardly an iPhone, but to me it seems incredible, and makes me wonder what other technological advances I've missed out on due to my miserly refusal to replace applications which still work. It's got me thinking about getting a smart phone. The trouble is that I don't actually use any of these new features. I mean, if I wanted to shoot video, I'd use my camcorder - it records in HD, far outclassing the murky images produced by my phone. As for stills, I suppose there's the fact that it makes it easy to immediately send a picture to someone. That said, so far all I've sent is a picture of Two Ton Toby from the chippie and Techno Barry, (who happened to be in the pub when I was testing it), to Little Miss Strange. She responded by threatening me with a restraining order if I send her any more traumatic images like that. In view of all this, I can't help but feel that a smart phone (no matter how much I like their design and functionality) would be wasted on me, as I'd never use one to its full potential. I guess I just have to accept that, when it comes to phones, I'm stuck in the past.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

More Convenient Conspiracies

Dark forces are gathering, subverting the natural order of things and conspiring to ensure the triumph of darkness. No, I'm not talking about the voting system for the Eurovision Song Contest, but rather about this weekend's concerted attempts to destroy two liberal politicians. I'm talking, of course about the allegations of wrong-doing against the head of the IMF in New York, and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne in the UK. I ask you, isn't the timing of these claims just too convenient? Take the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he looks set to be the Socialist's candidate for the Presidential elections, with polls indicating that he would beat incumbent conservative President Sarkozy, when, out of the blue, he finds himself accused of serious sexual offences. Oh come on! It's al too blatant - the military intervention in Libya has failed to boost Sarkozy's poll standing, so he's left with only one choice: destroy the opposition! And if it wasn't Sarkozy, then it's a conspiracy by evil international financiers and bankers, unhappy that, in his role as IMF chief, Strauss-Kahn has been too lenient with the Greeks.

As for Chris Huhne, surely it can be no coincidence that, following the Energy Minister's criticisms of the conduct of Conservative ministers in the 'No to AV' campaign, and his clashes with other Cabinet members over carbon emissions, he suddenly finds himself accused of trying to cover up motoring offences. Really! I mean, when the principle accuser is an embittered estranged wife, then it's just too obvious that this is a smear campaign by right-wingers to discredit a dangerous opponent. Bearing in mind the environmental aspect, they're probably in collusion with oil firms and other industrial polluters. It's all so transparent! Whatever happened to the good old days, when top-level conspiracies were so cunningly designed that only highly trained obsessives were able to spot them? These days the conspirators are showing nothing but contempt for us - they're not even trying to wrap their machinations up in enigmatic riddles, concealing vital clues in musty old archives and diverting our attention by means of elaborate campaigns of disinformation. Bastards!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Eight-Legged Bastards

Following on from my complaints last time that nowadays no affliction is taken seriously until it has been suffered by a celebrity, I sincerely hope that arachnophobia will finally be given the respect it deserves, following Charlie Brooker's admission of suffering from it on Twitter yesterday. To cut a long story short, he had the misfortune to see a large spider crawling up his living room curtains. To make matters worse, he was wearing no shoes and had to resort to standing on his sofa, attempting to defend himself with an umbrella. Now, a a fellow arachnophobe, I have great sympathy with his predicament. Many is the time I've found myself trapped in a room by a bastard spider lurking near the only exit - and it's true, the evil little bastards only ever appear when you don't have your shoes on, thereby depriving you of your most potent anti-spider defence: the hard stamp. Even if you can't flatten the thing, you can make it run with this manoeuvre.

Over the years I've employed many anti-spider strategies. I used to have a fairly powerful repeating air pistol, (now sadly illegal in the UK and long since disposed of), and dispatched quite a few of them with that. The disadvantages of this method was that my poor aim took its toll on my plaster work when the gits tried to escape by running up the walls. I eventually gave up using the air pistol after I failed to get a spider on my bathroom ceiling, despite firing six shots at it - it took a lot of work to cover up the bullet marks left in the plaster. My currently favoured method is the improvised hand-held flame thrower. OK, it's actually an aerosol can and a lighter. I was inspired to use this by that bit in Live and Let Die, where Roger Moore fries that snake by igniting his hairspray with a cigar. I saw it as a kid and was deeply impressed. Anyway, this approach has the advantage of not requiring such a good aim as the gun - the flame produced by an ignited aerosol covers a pretty big area. The disadvantage, obviously, is that you have to get closer to the spider for it to be effective. And, of course, you have to always have a lighter handy, even if, like me, you don't smoke.

Then there's the potential for collateral damage. I mean if, for instance, the spider you were destroying was crawling up your curtains, (as in Charlie Brooker's case), at the very least you'd burn a whole in them with the flamethrower. More likely, you'd set them ablaze. Personally, I have blinds - in the mistaken belief that spiders are less likely to crawl up them than they are curtains - and I've melted a few in the course of my war against the arachnids. Then there's the personal risk - there was that time I had to leap out of the bath and defend myself against a marauding spider in the bathroom, resulting in singed pubes. So, whilst the flamethrower is highly effective against the spiders, it does carry the risk of resulting in your house burning down. However, I think that's a risk worth taking to ensure that the eight-legged bastards are dead.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

For Art's Sake

Here's another moral dilemma for you to ponder. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been in the news a lot of late, having been detained by the Chinese authorities and, effectively, vanished. Nothing has been heard of him since his arrest. Now, I think we can all agree that this is quite deplorable, and that he should be released or, at the very least, allowed contact with friends, family and legal representatives. No argument there, I think. But, what if you think that his actual art work is shit? I mean, the main reason that his appalling treatment is receiving such widespread publicity is because he is a famous artist whose works have been exhibited worldwide. I'm sure that there are thousands of other detainees in China who won't have their cases highlighted simply because they don't have powerful friends in the global arts community. So, if you don't actually like his works, need you feel as concerned about him? Is your outrage really based solely upon a concern for China's terrible human rights record? If Ai Weiwei was some industrial worker, or an office clerk, would you really care as much?

Of course, the real issue here is our current obsession with celebrity. Apparently nothing is really an issue if it isn't somehow connected with somebody famous. Breast cancer didn't exist until Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with it, and clinical depression wasn't an issue until Catherine Zeta Jones admitted suffering from it. According to the media, that is. So it shouldn't be surprising that China's atrocious record on human rights only began to trouble the press and the great and the good until somebody famous in the West fell victim to it. But getting back to the original point, there's no doubt that it does affect your perception of these issues when you don't sympathise, (personally, politically or artistically), with the person at the centre of them. I always find, under such circumstances, that I have to go that extra mile to work up a full moral outrage, no matter how much I might agree with the principles involved. I remember having real problems when that fatwa was called against Salman Rushdie. Whilst it was clearly an outrageous assault on the principles of free speech and artistic freedom, I found it very difficult to get past the fact that Rushdie has always seemed, to me, a complete arse. I can't say I like his writing much, either. But what the Hell, I eventually managed to muster my moral outrage in spite of Rushdie, so maybe I'll manage it yet for Ai Weiwei.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When The Laughter Stopped

I'm sorry to say that Humorfeed seems, finally, to have died a death. Today it's just showing MySQL errors instead of headlines. Which doesn't really surprise me as, yesterday, I was unable to log in, receiving the same error messages when I attempted it. Sadly, the site has been in decline for some time now - the members' forum abruptly vanished a few weeks ago, and fewer and fewer members seemed to be posting stories there. It's a real pity that this has been allowed to happen - there's been no explanation or contact from the site admins for months now - as Humorfeed provided perhaps the only source of targeted traffic for satire sites. More than that, at its peak, it provided a focal point for the online satire community. That said, recent years have seen the 'colonisation' of the online satire sector by increasing numbers of professional and semi-professional sites, none of whom seemed to have much interest in the 'community', seeing other sites as competitors rather than colleagues.

So, where does that leave The Sleaze? Well, despite my continuing support for Humorfeed, the fact is that it has been delivering less and less traffic to The Sleaze over the past few years. Facebook and even Twitter have surpassed it as traffic sources in recent months, so it's collapse will have minimal impact. All I can do is press ahead with my long overdue revamp of the site, which will make it far more Facebook and Twitter friendly. It will also be far friendlier to mobile devices. The increasing use of smart phones, iPods, iPads and the like to browse the web is a trend no webmaster can afford to ignore. So, whilst its demise probably won't hurt The Sleaze in any significant way, I'm still sorry to see Humorfeed in its current dire state. Whether there is anything that can be done to rescue it, or whether there is any appetite amongst what's left of the online satire community for creating an alternative, I just don't know. If any of the old Humorfeed crew are reading this, get in touch and let me know your thoughts. Surely I'm not the only one lamenting the passing of this once great institution?

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Private Lives

Super Injunctions, eh? Aren't they terrible, stopping the press from reporting the sordid details of the affairs of the rich and famous? But then again, don't they have a right to privacy? This sort of fatuous 'debate' is all I've bloody heard on the radio today. The problem is that it isn't the celebrities who are abusing the legal system by invoking these so-called super injunctions. In fact, I think that they're doing us all a favour by ensuring that their affairs can't be inflicted on the rest of us. You know, I don't really think that it's a triumph for the fight against censorship for someone on Twitter to reveal that Jemima Khan had used a super injunction to prevent the reporting of her alleged affair with Jeremy Clarkson, (which never happened, although if it had, I wouldn't blame Jemima Khan for wanting to keep it quiet, on grounds of taste, if nothing else).

But all this talk about privacy is diverting attention from the real threat posed by super injunctions. Whilst I really don't care about who is shagging who - in or out of wedlock - I am concerned about the use of these super injunctions by multinational corporations to prevent reporting about their misdemeanours. I find it worrying that in all the latest furore over super injunctions, the focus has been on celebrity privacy, rather than corporate gagging of the press. Have we really forgotten the events of eighteen months ago when a multinational not only obtained a super injunction to prevent reporting of its alleged dumping of toxic waste, but obtained another one to prevent The Guardian from reporting a parliamentary question about the previous injunction? Now, I'm a great believer in privacy, whether for celebrities or us mere mortals, (I've got a lot to hide), but I can't help but feel that this current focus upon the privacy aspect of super injunctions is part of an attempt to legitimise their use, in order to allow the multinationals and other shady organisations and individuals to keep abusing them. Of course, if the government was to actually introduce some kind of legislation framing the individual's right to privacy, then public figures would have no need to resort to super injunctions. Ironically, of course, one of the main opponents of such a privacy law, (on the grounds that it would restrict their freedom to report incidents which could be in the public interest), is the press - the very same press which currently complains about the use of super injunctions to restrict their ability to report on incidents which might be in the public interest...

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Friday, May 06, 2011

The Naked Truth

OK, here's a question for you - what if you were looking at one of those web sites where people post pictures of their wives and girlfriends naked, and you recognised one of them? How would you react? Would you keep on looking out of curiosity, (after all, you'd probably always wondered what she looked like naked)? And if you looked at the pictures, would you ever be able to look her in the eye if you were to meet her again, particularly if you found the pictures arousing? An even worse scenario: what if you Google 'My wife naked', (obviously, you'd use their real name in the search), and the top three positions of the results were occupied by web sites showing graphic nude pictures of said spouse, pictures you hadn't taken?

Now, I think I need to make clear at this point that I've never actually faced either of these dilemmas. Not only am I not married (so the second scenario wouldn't apply), but I've also never come across any naked pictures of female friend online, (or anywhere else, for that matter). I don't Google their names, with or without thew 'naked' suffix, either, (I'm too scared of what I might find). However, it is one of those questions which I sometimes ponder in the wee small hours of the morning, when I can't sleep. In part, it all comes down to our rather hypocritical attitude toward porn - we have no problem in admiring the naked form of some model we've never met, she's just an object. But if you substitute a real live woman you have genuine feelings for (whether of love or friendship), instead of the anonymous model, then it's a different matter. It suddenly becomes awkward and voyeuristic. It turns from harmless fun to exploitation. Especially if those images are publicly available and you know that thousands of other pervs like you are also ogling them. Porn is fine as long as it isn't your wife/girlfriend/daughter/sister/friend posing naked, but someone else's. Someone you don't know. So, how would you react to those pictures?


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Ballots or Bollocks?

Unfortunately, returning to work yesterday has left me knackered and demoralised. I don't even have the energy to pick up where I left off with last week's rants. The trouble with work is that nothing ever changes. After two weeks away, the same stupidities are carrying on, the same idiots are mouthing the same, increasingly offensive to anyone who has a brain cell, platitudes. Everybody knows what the problem is, but nobody wants to do anything about it. Not even me - I'm past caring and completely alienated by all the bullshit. It all sounds like the supposed state of British politics - if you believe the press, that is. Of course, the difference between work and politics is that we can have some influence on the process via the ballot box.

So why, then, do people seem so reluctant to exercise their democratic rights? I went to vote in the local election and voting reform referendum today. It was just before six o'clock, so I would have expected quite a few people to be visiting the polling station on their way home from work, as I was doing. Well, there were two of us in the polling station when I voted, the other voter being a friend of mine who was casting his vote on the way to the pub. As we left, one other lady was coming in. As we walked up the road, I looked back a couple of time - nobody else was going into the polling station. Now, for all I know, there could have been an early morning rush, or, right now, there could be a late surge to the polls. But somehow, I doubt it.

The question is - are people really so disillusioned by the political process that they can't be bothered to vote? Or is it that they've been browbeaten into believing that it isn't worth voting by the media's relentless assaults upon our political culture? Now, I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of things wrong with the current state of British politics, but the fact is that it is nowhere near as bad as the media would have us believe. The core of their argument is that thee isn't really any difference between the main parties, so it is pointless voting for any of them. To believe this is to betray a fundamental ignorance of British politics. Even during the height of New Labour's success, there were still clear ideological differences between the two main parties. But, of course, a large part of the problem is that people don't actually listen to what politicians are saying, but rather what the media reports them as saying. As bad as the prevalent cynicism of the media, is its relentless 'analysis' and 'interpretation' of what political figures are 'really' saying - as if we're too stupid to grasp it for ourselves.

Obviously. no political party's manifesto will ever perfectly match one's own individual political beliefs and aspirations. But if we take the trouble to actually listen to what they're saying, look at what they do when in power and try and identify their core beliefs, then we'll generally find one that satisfies more of our beliefs than the others. Believe me, the 'a pox on all your houses' approach, resulting in the currently fashionable non-activity of not voting isn't at all constructive. All it results in is our political futures being decided by an ever smaller minority, as increasingly only the party die-hards turn out to vote. But hell, why should I care? If you are too stupid to be bothered to vote, then you don't deserve to have any say in these matters.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The End of Osama

It's funny the way things develop. I had all sorts of plans for what I was going to write about this week - for one thing, I wanted to continue my ranting about satire, the Royal Wedding and the class system. Then, on Monday morning, the US announces that its secial forces have assassinated Osama bin Laden, blowing me off course completely, obliged to blog about Osama's demise. OK, I know that there's nothing actually forcing me to respond to this news, but I can't really claim to be any kind of satirist if I don't respond in some way to the death of bin Laden. Not only that, but I've got a lot of mileage out of Osama and al Qeada over the past few years, in terms of stories over at The Sleaze. So, I think I owe it to him to write a couple of pieces.

One thing I do feel I have to say on the subject, is that, personally, I really can't take any pleasure from another human being's death. No matter what terrible acts that individual might have been responsible for. Consequently, all this jubilation in the States makes me feel very uncomfortable. I accept that if I'd lost someone in the 9/11 attacks, or one of the other al Qeada related terror attacks, I might well feel differently about this issue. But I doubt it. One of the things which so outraged Americans, not to mention the entire civilised world, were all those pictures of people in the Middle East rejoicing at the news of the destruction of the Twin Towers. I'd like to believe that our refusal to take pleasure in such things is a sign of our humanity and decency. Make no mistake, I'm shedding no tears for Osama, the creed he espoused engendered nothing but hate and destruction. But, at the end of the day, I'd much rather he'd been taken alive and tried for his crimes, than gunned down. Anyway, I've said my piece. Hopefully now I can get back on schedule.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama's Greatest Hits

With the world's media reporting the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qeada has announced the release of a 'Greatest Hits' compilation album of his most popular rants, as a tribute. "They're all there - his calls for the assassination of Western leaders, his denunciation of the decadence of non-Islamic culture, the lot," explained a spokesperson for the terror organisation, via a tape delivered anonymously to Reuters. "As well as being available for download in mp3 format, 'Osama's Greatest Hits" will also be released both on CD, and in a special 'retro' music cassette format, to commemorate Osama's love of this obsolete recording format." The spokesman also promised fans of the fallen terror leader a compilation DVD of his greatest propaganda films and terror attacks. Extras will include optional expert commentary by George W Bush, Donald Rumsfield and Tony Blair, plus a selection of top video suicide notes by Osama-inspired suicide bombers from all over the world.

In the US, meanwhile, a furious row has erupted after it emerged that the Navy SEAL team that assassinated bin Laden should have been paid triple time as their raid occurred on a Bank Holiday. Consequently, the US is facing an immediate walk-out by special forces if the SEALS aren't paid the money they claim they are owed. "With the Rangers and Delta Force prepared to come out in sympathy, the whole country could be left defenceless, just we are facing another grave terror threat," a Pentagon spokesperson admitted. Indeed, defence chiefs are warning of the possibility of a wave of Osama tribute acts in the wake of his death. "They could become even more prevalent than Elvis impersonators - monopolising karaoke spots in bars to deliver their covers of Osama's rants before exploding," said the spokesperson. "In order to minimise the risk, we're banning his Greatest Hits album from the playlists of all major radio stations - hopefully, not knowing the words will hamper the bastards."