Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Get a Grip!"

"For God's sake get a grip and take responsibility for your own actions! You voted for the bastards - what did you think was going to happen?" I found myself screaming at the local BBC news programme the other night. What prompted this uncharacteristically intemperate outburst, I hear you ask. Well, it was an item about one of the local police forces in Sussex or Surrey, or somewhere else beginning with an 'S', I don't really remember, closing down local police stations and replacing them with a 'mobile station'. Like a mobile library, but with an orange stripe down the side and charge sheets instead of books. Anyway, all these twee local people - old biddies, retired Majors, bank managers and all the other assorted middle class tossers you get in such places - were whining on about how terrible it was that their communities were no longer being protected. Except on alternate Thursdays when the mobile police station turned up.

What galled me was that all of these moaners had undoubtedly voted Tory at the last election, (or, even worse, Lib Dem), thereby saddling us with this unholy Frankenstein monster of a government, cobbled together from the most unspeakable ideas left over from its constituent parties' manifestos. Why do they think the police are closing these stations? To save money as a result of Osborne's ideologically motivated cuts in public spending. Oh, but I Forgot, it's all the fault of the last labour government for destroying the economy. Nothing to do with Cameron and Osborne's banker pals, then? Unfortunately, these idiots are typical of too many people in this country - they seem incapable of grasping the connection between their own actions and their real-world consequences. If you don't want your community's public facilities cut, don't vote Tory, (or faux-Tory). Alternatively, if they really want to keep their local police stations open, maybe all those nice middle class villagers should try committing more crimes? If there was a sudden increase in the number of flashing incidents on the local cricket pitch, or a a spike in the number of bull buggerings, then the police would have no choice but to rethink their closure plans.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Injustice For All

It's OK, I'm not going to make offensive remarks about recently deceased Tories today. Which doesn't mean I'm sorry about yesterday. My only regret is that I didn't get in a gag about writing a suicide note on toilet paper. Next time, perhaps. I still maintain that his type have no business being the Glastonbury Festival. There are clear demarcation lines: posh right wing twats have Wimbledon as their high profile Summer event as the the place to be 'seen'. Glastonbury is for an entirely different type of twat to be 'seen' at. But I digress, this time around I want to address more serious issues. Namely crime and punishment. Hell, let's go for broke and say justice - that's what I want to talk about. Our system of justice. Apparently it isn't working. At least, that's what the press would have you believe. There's too much emphasis on safeguarding the 'human rights' of the guilty. Did you know that last year £1.5 million or so of taxpayers' money was spent on compensation for prisoners? £1.5 million! Funny how the £260 million so far spent on bombing Libya didn't elicit the same tone of outrage from the press. But getting back to the point, not only is this a drop in the ocean as far as public expenditures are concerned, the specific cases receiving payouts given as examples didn't seem outrageous either. Being compensated for injuries sustained whilst in custody, or for being held (illegally) beyond your release date, don't seem unreasonable.

What sparked lat week's assault on the justice system was Levi Bellfield being found guilty of the murder of Milly Dowler. Now, even taking into account the terrible emotional impact of losing a loved one to violent crime, some of her relatives' reaction to the verdict were extreme. Her sister might well believe that 'justice' is "an eye for an eye", but thankfully the civilised world doesn't agree. Revenge and justice are two different things entirely. What the anger surrounding this trial seemed to stem from was the fact that Bellfield - already serving life for the murders of two young women - was allowed to mount any kind of defence at all, let alone be able to instruct his defence team to cross examine Milly Dowler's relatives. The fact it consequently became public knowledge that her father read bondage magazines and had been considered a suspect in the case meant that the system was 'broken'. These people were 'victims' and therefore shouldn't have to endure such trauma. The reality, of course, is that the system requires the accused be able to mount a defence, that he should be able to face his accusers. Like it or not, it is a perfectly legitimate defence tactic to highlight the fact that other suspects had been considered by the police. It doesn't mean that his 'rights' are being given more consideration than those of the victim and therefore the system needs to be changed.

It's worth considering that this 'broken' system, in this case, succeeded in returning a guilty verdict despite the absence of any confession, any forensic evidence conclusively linking the accused to the victim, or any witnesses. The whole case was purely circumstantial. All the prosecution could show was that Bellfield was living in the area where Milly Dowler was last seen at the time of her disappearance, and that he couldn't account for his movements during that period. Oh, and that he knew the area where her body was eventually found, (so do I, and probably tens of thousands of others). Now, I'm not saying there was a miscarriage of justice here, (if the press are worried about such things, they should look at the convictions of the poor and ill educated on the basis of dubious 'evidence' that happen every day in our courts). I'm just saying that even someone as loathsome as a convicted double murderer is entitled to a fair trial. Which means that his rights have to observed. As soon as we decide that certain 'types' aren't entitled to the same fundamental human rights as the rest of us, (which is what some sections of the press and senior politicians seem to be saying), then we're taking the first step on a dangerous road. A road whose destination we've seen before: Dachau, Belsen and Auschwictz. No, I'm not being over dramatic. It's all very well saying that 'it couldn't happen here' - believe me, societies tend to sleepwalk into such journeys.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Floater Voter?

So, Glastonbury has come and gone again, almost without me noticing. I must admit that it crept up on me this year, so I didn't have time to come up with my usual sarcastic posts about mud and crapping in hedges, or the patronising depiction of locals by the London-centric BBC coverage. Apparently, they had trouble with the toilets again - there was a complaint about a horrible floater in the VIP crappers, but it turned out to be a dead Tory advisor. It seems he'd been there overnight and was only discovered when a desperate Beyonce was forced to take a dump behind the VIP trailers. She'd spent nearly fifteen minutes hammering on the toilet door screaming: "For the love of God will you hurry up and finish in there - I've been sitting on a horse's head for the last half hour and now I'm touching cloth!"

Whilst police were yesterday describing the death as 'unexplained', some early reports suggested that this guy - a pal of David Cameron, it seems - had committed suicide. I must admit that shitting yourself to death would constitute a unique way of topping oneself. More recent reports seem to indicate that he suffered a massive heart attack. I must say that I can sympathise there - I've taken some humongous dumps that I thought were going to give me a coronary. When you are straining so hard that you face is red, eyes bulging, sweat is pouring down your forehead and the veins are standing out, you really need to reconsider your diet. Anyway, the most 'unexplained' thing about this death is question of what some Tory bastard was doing at Glastonbury in the first place? Was he trying to get down with the kids by listening to the latest beat combos? Whatever the reason, can't there be one place left where we don't have to put up with these horrible people? Apparently not, it seems.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Roundabout Crusoe

Police believe that a man found dead on a traffic roundabout in Crapchester earlier this week might have been there for weeks, or even months. "Whilst the unfortunate individual had only been dead for a matter of hours when he was found, we believe that he had been living on the roundabout for some time," Inspector Andy Cobblers told the local newspaper. "When officers searched the roundabout they found a crude shelter constructed from plastic shopping bags and pieces of cardboard that had blown onto the roundabout." It is thought that the man had become stranded on the roundabout some months previously, possibly after a car accident. "It's on a very busy road intersection," Cobblers explains. "Once on there, it would be very difficult to get off again." Indeed, in recent months several motorists had reported seeing a wild figure in ragged clothes and and sporting a huge straggly beard waving frantically at them from the roundabout. "They just thought he was some kind of vagrant," says Cobblers. "Similarly, when the flowers planted on the roundabout as a feature were rearranged to form the word 'Help!', it was dismissed as a student prank."

Whilst a post-mortem has yet to be carried out, early indications are that the castaway died of malnutrition. "Food supplies on the roundabout are very limited," says Cobblers. "We think that he was forced to sustain himself on half-eaten burgers and apple cores discarded by passing motorists. Obviously, this was insufficient. There is evidence that towards the end he had resorted to eating the flowers and grass on the roundabout." Police were alerted to the presence of a dead body on the roundabout by a council maintenance crew who had gone there to tend to the flower borders. "The county 'Towns in Bloom' competition is coming up," explains a spokesperson for Crapchester Borough Council. "So we were looking to tidy up all our roundabouts and traffic islands with a few flowers - if it wasn't for our determination to improve upon last year's bronze medal, that poor devil could have lain there undiscovered for years!" There has been much consternation amongst local residents about the length of time it took to find the deceased castaway. "It's bloody outrageous," declared Wilf Nadds. "If they want to do better than third place, they need to pull their bloody fingers out and tend to the flowers on these roundabouts all year round. To be frank, they'll be lucky to finish in the top ten this year, the way they've let things go!"


Thursday, June 23, 2011

String 'Em Up!

So, is ITV News being sponsored by the Daily Mail these days? I only ask because of the outraged tone adopted by one of the newscaster's on the six thirty bulletin when announcing one of the stories: "a burglar is stabbed, and the householder is arrested!" Outrageous, eh? Someone is fatally stabbed and the police have the audacity to arrest the person who did the stabbing. I mean, if he was the householder, they should just take his word about what happened, shouldn't they? Inevitably, of course, they tied the story in to Cameron's recent talk of giving householders more 'right' to defend their homes against burglars. The trouble is that we already have that right - we're all entitled to use 'reasonable force' to defend ourselves when we are threatened. Now, 'reasonable force' is one of those nebulous concepts whose exact definition is dependent upon circumstances, but it is based upon the concept of proportionality: your response to the threat should be proportionate, so shooting someone who is just calling you rude names, wouldn't fly as self defence as the force used wouldn't be considered 'reasonable'.

Now, in the case featured on the news, none of us currently knows enough details of the incident to be able to form an opinion on whether stabbing the intruder constituted 'reasonable force'. Which is why - outrageous though it might seem to ITV news readers - the police have to detain those involved and thoroughly investigate the incident. The most notorious case in recent years of a householder using the 'reasonable force' defence was Tony Martin, who shot and killed an intruder at his farm house. The jury didn't buy his defence and he went to jail. Much to the annoyance of the Daily Mail. Martin's problem was that not only was the burglar unarmed, but he was leaving the premises when shot and thus not presenting a direct threat to Martin. Consequently, his use of force wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination, 'reasonable'. Ironically, if the 'law and order' brigade who huffed and puffed about the 'injustice' of Martin's case, (and who no doubt will do the same thing over this present case), had their way, we'd still have the death penalty and Martin would have been hanged instead of wangling an early release. If ever there was an argument for capital punishment, that's it.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Behind the Beard

Fat men shouldn't sport goatee beards. It's something I've always suspected, but which I'm now sure about. It was the sight of Radio 2 DJ Steve Wright in those TV ads for the station which firmed up my opinions on the subject. When Wright was young and thin and on Radio One, he sported a moustache, but no beard. Mind you, those were the days when you didn't see goatees outside of episodes of Star Trek (the Klingons, amongst other aliens, sported them), or Doctor Who, (the Master had a natty goatee in his earlier incarnations). Moustaches were in amongst a certain media types in those days - mainly porn actors, it has to be said. Not that there was much chance of the younger Wright being mistaken for a porn performer (gay or straight), with his prominent conk and glasses. Indeed, the 'tache suited him, drawing attention away from that nose. Anyway, to return to the point, with years, Wright has put on the pounds, (so have I, for that matter), and decided, for some reason best known to himself, to extend his moustache into a goatee. The end result is that he now looks like chubby comic actor Mike McShane, (look him up).

What possessed Wright to grow the goatee is beyond me - it isn't as if recent popular culture isn't littered with dire warnings of trying to mix the fuller figure with the chin duster. Just look at former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. Not only did that goatee he sported during his latter days at Anfield scream 'midlife crisis', but, with his physique and penchant for black suits and white shirts, it made him look like a Spanish waiter. I also speak from personal experience. A few years ago I briefly sported a goatee. I was younger, thinner and had more hair back then, I really thought I looked the business. Then I caught sight of myself in the wing mirror of my car - Looked like The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Needless to say, despite my respect for Jeff Bridges and my love of that film, the razor came out that evening. I've come to the conclusion that if you are a bit on the chubby side and develop a craving for facial hair, you are better off going for the full beard. Just look at Micheal Moore. Or Eliot Hope on Holby City. Just keep it trimmed, mind you. There's nothing worse than a fat bloke with a straggly beard.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Angry White Man

I was reading Micheal Moore's Stupid White Men this weekend, (yeah, I know it's been ten years since it was first published, but that's pretty topical by my standards), and was struck by the similarities between his account of Bush Jr's seizure of power in 2000, and Cameron's here in the UK ten years later. Both came to power having failed to win an election. In Bush's case, his 'victory' hinged on the dubious result in Florida, (then governed by his brother Jeb), and the willingness of conservative judges in the Supreme Court to stop the recounts in that state once it looked as if Gore was gaining ground. Cameron, as we all know, sidestepped the little matter of having failed to persuade the electorate that he should be Prime Minister by bamboozling the Lib Dems - desperate for a taste of power after nearly a century in the wilderness - into an unholy alliance. In effect, both gained power through a political coup, supported by the right wing media, (in both cases the Murdoch empire featured prominently in spreading disinformation about the opposition).

The consequences of these coups has been the same in both countries: an illegitimate government embarking upon a highly partisan right wing programme designed to help the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, and boost the profits of their corporate masters. To do this the public sector is asset stripped by big corporations and social services for the less well off pared to the bone. The parallels between Dubya 2000 and Cameron 2010 don't stop with the governing parties. Moore also notes the apparent inability of the Democrats to mount any kind of effective opposition, instead being too concerned with fund raising from their wealthy friends. Similarly, today's Labour Party seems too concerned with not upsetting their erstwhile friends in the city and the right wing media, to be bothered with actually reconnecting with their core values and voters. Consequently, Moore's introduction for the first UK edition of his book, (which I picked up from a charity shop on Saturday), in which he urges us Brits not to follow the US' political lead highly poignant. Anyway, if just reading the first chapter has wound me up this much, God knows what I'll be like by the time I finish the book. Brace yourselves for some more mega-rants!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Tanks for the Memories...

Have I ever mentioned those strange people who dress up in 1940s gear? I work with some of them. They're very odd. We're not talking about the WWII re-enactment crowd here, the ones I know just wear civilian 1940s clothes and spend entire days on the local preserved railway line pretending that it is 1942 again. Personally, I've never seen the attraction of the forties - people were bombing us for half of the decade, whilst for the other half we were mired in austerity in the aftermath of the war. I suppose one of the attractions might be that it was one of the last eras in which the UK could claim to be victorious, defeating Nazi Germany against all odds (with more than a little help from the rest of the Empire, the US and the USSR). Had we been occupied in WWII, would we be so quick to celebrate the 1940s? Would we have people re-enacting the era? Apparently, yes. I always thought that those WWII re-enactment groups were an Anglo-American thing, so I was surprised to learn that there are similar groups in Poland, Hungary and Russia.

Disturbingly, like their UK equivalents, these East European groups seem to have a preponderance of people wanting to play the Nazis. Now, one of the problems they face is the sparsity of genuine WWII German military equipment available. Whilst there are still plenty of operational Sherman tanks and T-34s for the Allies to use, the overwhelming majority of surviving German tanks are static exhibits in museums. (Most of those 'German' tanks you see in war movies are really post war US tanks painted grey. In the 1960s they tended to favour M47s and M48s, whilst in the 1970s M24s and sometimes Russian T-34s were often pressed into service. It was only in recent years that film makers in the West have taken to building replicas of German tanks - in Russia and Yugoslavia they'd been using rebuilt T-34s and T-44s for years). But these re-enactment guys are pretty resourceful - they've started building their own tanks. I recently came across some YouTube footage of a Polish 'Panther' tank (built on a Russian T-55 chassis) being driven around a muddy field. The irony of a group of Poles driving a tank covered in swastikas through Poland seems lost on them. But they're not alone. Apparently there are faux Panther and Tiger tanks being produced in Hungary. There's already at least one T-55 based Tiger tank in the UK. All very disturbing.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ups and Downs

It's been a turbulent week one way and another. The Sleaze has been experiencing all manner of technical problems - most of them my fault. On Sunday, whilst attempting to post a new story, I succeeded in taking the whole site offline. Luckily, I was able to restore it after fifteen minutes of panic. A subsequent problem, which surfaced late last night, is, I'm sure, related to the earlier incident. To cut a long story short, I found that all of the page redirects (where pages had been renamed for various reasons) had vanished, resulting in a lot of 404 errors. Like a lunatic, I then sat up for half the night restoring them, resulting in me feeling exhausted all day at work. Yeah, I've got my priorities right! Returning to the root cause of all this trouble, the new story, I'm happy to tell you that it was worth all the hassle. Kick Ass Jesus took off in a big way on Monday, delivering the best day's traffic in a while. Interestingly, the source of the traffic wasn't search or Google News, but Facebook, where somebody had posted a link to it. I had a similar success with Confessions of a Sex Murderer (coincidentally, a similarly exploitation movie themed story), a few weeks ago, with Twitter rather than Facebook.

These two stories represent the first time I've had social networking sites deliver such significant levels of traffic. Unfortunately, I can't see any way to harness their undoubted power as traffic generators on a regular basis - as far as I can see, I'm reliant upon someone with a lot of friends/followers posting my stories. Of course, such success couldn't go unpunished, and the latter half of this week has seen Google strangling traffic to The Sleaze again. It really does feel as if I've exceeded some 'quota' of traffic that Google has decided that I'm allowed, so now they're going to make sure I'm on 'bread and water' for the rest of the month. Google's continued abuse of their dominant market position really is becoming most tiresome. Let me make this clear Google, I've been on the web longer than you have and I have no intention of leaving anytime soon. I know that I'm not a big brand, or a commerce site, or any of the other types of site you can squeeze revenues from, but tough. I'm not going to be forced out of business by you. As I've outlined above, recent events have clearly shown that there are sources of traffic out there with the potential to deliver far more visitors than you ever have. All I've got to figure out now is how to tap that potential.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lesbian Bloggers and Phantom Murders

I feel I have to be up front here and come clean - I'm not a lesbian blogger from Syria. I thought that I'd better make that clear for the benefit of any members of the press who might be reading this blog. Journalists do seem to have great difficulty in grasping the fact that here, online, you can't take anything at face value. It's amazing how outraged they become when they find that they've been duped. I mean, it's not as if they ever lie, or use duplicitous methods in their work, is it? In truth, of course, the press effectively duped itself by running with the supposed Syrian lesbian blogger's alleged detention by the authorities without bothering to properly check it out. Personally, I'm always suspicious of just about anything I read online, particularly this kind of blog, which purports to be written by someone at the centre of some unfolding crisis. But, journalists do seem to be a credulous bunch, not only do they seem to have difficulty in grasping that people aren't necessarily who, or what, they claim to be online, but they aren't even where they claim to be. There seems to be as much consternation over the fact that the 'lesbian' blogger wasn't really in Syria, but actually in Edinburgh, as there was over the fact that they were really a man. And not a lesbian.

But then again, there are plenty of people who think that films and TV series are actually filmed in the locations they are set in. Many, many years ago, an episode of Bergerac was filmed in Salisbury. Whilst most of the episode was set there, one scene was set in Winchester. However, for those of us who know Salisbury (I grew up there), it was quite obvious that 'Winchester' was actually Queen Ann's Street in Salisbury. Clearly, shifting the entire crew to Winchester for just one scene simply wouldn't have been cost effective. The BBC relied upon the fact that, apart from those of us who actually knew either, or both, of the cities, the overwhelming majority of viewers simply wouldn't know enough about the locations to be able to tell the difference. So it is with blogging. But more so. I could tell you that I'm writing this blog from a Portuguese fishing village and you wouldn't be able to contradict me. If I really wanted to convince readers of this fake location, I could throw in a few details about the brightly painted fishing boats - some with symbols such as eyes painted on the prows - many of which use blocks of concrete as anchors, (I got all of that from reading Len Deighton's Horse Under Water). I could even source a few photos of such a location from the web and stick them on the blog, But the fact remains that I haven't moved an inch from my sofa in Crapchester.

It isn't just pseudonymous blogs which seem to cause the media problems. The other week, for about an hour, the top story on the websites of several news outlets, including the BBC, Sky News and several newspapers, was about the 'discovery' of up to thirty dismembered bodies, possibly of children, at a house in the US. It was also the lead story on the BBC News Channel and Sky News. Unfortunately, it proved to have little substance. The police had found no bodies, nobody was arrested, no major investigation ensued. As the story unravelled, we were at first told that the police had been working on a tip off. Then they were acting on information from a psychic. Finally, it seemed that they were acting on an anonymous phone tip from someone who said that they were a psychic. The use of the term 'psychic' should have set alarm bells ringing from the outset, surely? But again, the press was so eager to jump on what seemed like a sensational story that they couldn't be bothered to hold fire long enough to check out even a few basic facts. As it all unravelled, the story plummeted down the listings on the websites and news channel running orders. By the next morning, it had vanished completely, with the media acting as if it had never happened. Which will probably be the fate of the Syrian lesbian blogger story - buried to avoid further embarrassment.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Cyber Sex Attack?

So, is it any surprise that the IMF has suffered a so-called 'Cyber-attack'? It was surely only a matter of time before those silver bastards tried to take over our financial institutions. That said, having the Cybermen in control of such institutions as the IMF might not be an entirely bad thing. With their ruthless logic, they might ensure the globe's financial systems are properly regulated, and don't fall prey to the sorts of illogical scares which have afflicted them in the past. Mind you, the penalties inflicted on those who default on IMF loans might be a bit more severe than they used to be - total annihilation of the country in question, with all of its citizens forcibly converted into Cybermen. Mind you, they might then manage to run their finances in an entirely logical fashion. But enough of my obsession with Dr Who's second most popular adversaries - obviously, I'm deliberately misconstruing the term 'Cyber-attack'. Clearly, the IMF hasn't been invaded by a legion of large silver cyborgs, rather they've had their computers hacked.

But, as I said at the outset of this post, we really shouldn't be surprised by this development. Whilst others might speculate that this hacking has been carried out by a foreign power, or by anti-globalisation groups, or even terrorists, I have my own theories. Personally, I'm convinced that it was done by a group of international sex perverts. OK, I can hear you asking, just why would a bunch of sex perverts be trying to break into the IT systems of an international financial institution? A fair question. I believe they were after the vast electronic porn stash accumulated by the IMF's former head (and alleged rapist) Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Now, I know that there's no hard evidence that Strauss-Kahn actually had such a stash on his office PC, or anywhere else, but, if the allegations about his conduct in New York are true, the man's sex mad. It stands to reason he'd have lots of wanking material close to hand (so to speak). And let's face it, financially, he was in a position to put together a collection of the very best smut available. Indeed, he could afford to commission his own. Perhaps that's what was behind all the (alleged) shenanigans in his hotel room? Who knows?


Friday, June 10, 2011

Dave's Papist Plot Uncovered

So, the truth is out at last: Cameron is in the vanguard of a Papish plot. What other conclusion can we draw from the astounding intervention of the leader of England's Roman Catholics, Archbishop Nichols, in the row between Dave and the Church of England's leading cleric, Archbishop Rowan Williams. Whereas Williams condemned the government's policies on health and education, questioning their legitimacy, and dismissing the 'Big Society', Nichols praised the PM for the 'genuine moral agenda' driving the Coalition's reforms, and for putting marriage and family stability at the centre of policy-making. According to the Daily Mail, that is. Does the staunchly Eurosceptic Mail realise that Archbishop Nichols takes his orders from Rome? If this was some 'Eurocrat' in Brussels started giving pronouncements on UK government policy, they'd be foaming at the mouth, denouncing these foreign interventions as a threat to the UK's sovereignty. Indeed, if this was Blair being praised by the left-footers, they'd be raving about Papish plots to bring Britain back under the heel of Rome.

Well, if they won't, I will. Clearly Cameron is a closet Catholic who wants to disestablish the Church of England and convert us all to the ways of Rome. After all, isn't he one of those politicians who wants to reform the laws on succession to allow heirs to the throne to marry left-footers? Before you know it, abortions and contraception will be banned and homosexuals will be rounded up and put in 'correction centres' where they'll be 'turned' to the right path under threat of crucifixion. Worse still, child abuse will be institutionalised. Hell, a few centuries ago, the merest whiff of a Papist plot would have people rioting on the streets and Parliament sending for a Dutch Protestant Prince to take the throne to protect us from the evils of Rome. So it's worth a try. Of course, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the Catholic church approves of Cameron's crackpot ideas to replace public services with charity - they like nothing better than the existence of a poor underclass to recruit from and control. Less spending by the government on things like education, health care and social provision provides the Rock Cakes with more opportunities to step in and infiltrate our society at all levels, indoctrinating us all to their creed. If that isn't a good enough reason to burn a few Catholic priests at the stake, I don't know what is.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Down, But Not Out

Jesus, the shit just keeps coming, doesn't it? As if Google's determined attempts to kill my (and everyone else who isn't a 'brand') organic traffic isn't bad enough, this evening The Sleaze was down with an internal server error for at least half an hour. I suspect that site accessibility was being affected intermittently for at least an hour before that. To be fair, within fifteen minutes of reporting the problem, my web host had it all sorted and the site's back up and running smoothly. For sure, I was cursing them blackly whilst the site was down, but I can't complain about the response time.

It's all in marked contrast to the situation in my workplace, where it took two and a half weeks to get an entire IT support system to sort out a simple problem. Since moving into a different building, I've been unable to print anything - which is a pretty serious handicap, as it means I can't action a lot of my work, resulting in complaints. After being fed much bullshit, I finally got an engineer sent out yesterday. He agreed with me that it wasn't a hardware problem, and that the 'helpdesk' could have talked me through the problem over the phone. To cut a long story short, when we relocated, my profile had been set up incorrectly and my printing had been assigned to devices that no longer existed.

Of course, part of the problem lies with the fact that work's IT support has been out sourced to a private firm which has us locked into a very expensive support contract. It simply isn't in their interest to solve problems quickly. Consequently, their 'helpdesk' is incredibly unresponsive, often passing you from one operative to another, with no result. Nevertheless, even taking all of this into account, I still find it astounding that my web host can sort out a problem within fifteen minutes of receiving a support ticket, whereas I have my ability to do my job hobbled for over a fortnight due to my employers' (much more expensive) IT support contractors inability to sort out a simple printing problem on the phone.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Keeping Abreast

As I mentioned last week, I've recently acquired a copy of Simon Sheridan's excellent history of the British sex film, Keeping The British End Up. Perusing this wittily written and well illustrated volume, a question formed in my head - just when did we become obsessed with huge breasts in this country? Now, I know that I'm in danger of making myself look like some sad old perv who spends his spare time wanking off over yellowing pictures of 1970s pin ups, but, whilst looking at the various stills in the book, I couldn't help but notice that most of the actresses employed in these films weren't massively top heavy. So to speak. Sure, there were a number of lager breasted ladies, but we're not talking freakishly over-sized mammarys like, say, Katie Price. No, it seems that throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the average British viewer of smut (and by the mid 1970s they constituted most of the UK's mainstream cinema audiences), favoured normally endowed ladies.

Now, it could be argued that, until the advent of British sex comedies, the UK's cinema goers had been so starved of female nudity since the invention of the moving image, that they'd gladly accept any kind of female breast, provided it was uncovered. In this case, the later obsession with over sized breasts, it could be argued, were simply the porn industries way of keeping audiences interested once female nudity had become common place, even on TV and in mainstream cinema. A sort of mammary arms race, with the pornographers trying to up the ante by giving audiences something they couldn't see anywhere else. Indeed, it's notable that the 'big guns'.so to speak, weren't rolled out by sex film makers until the 1980s, when their movies were increasingly forced out of cinemas and onto video. The result, here in the UK, seems to be perception that women can only be truly sexually desirable if they have huge breasts. A perception perpetuated in the popular press on a regular basis.

Of course, there's nothing new in the idea that men prefer overly endowed women - just look at the continuing fetishisation of Barbara Windsor and her breasts in the Carry On films throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. (Though, interestingly, they were never really bared, viewers instead being treated to lots of 'side boob' shots). However, over the past few decades it really has become an unhealthy obsession. It's also largely a myth that men like large breasts, (contrary to what the media might have you believe ladies, most of us don't objectify women, seeing them simply as a collection of sexual organs). Actually, here I feel moved to go into a quick digression for the benefit of a friend who sometimes reads this blog. That time I told you that I thought there was only one woman I knew who was more attractive than you, and you challenged me on what criteria I was making this judgement, well, when I said that it was because she had (and I quote) 'bigger knockers than you', I didn't actually mean it. The fact is that you'd caught me cold there and I just said the first thing that came into my head. I would never judge a woman on the basis of her bust. Not only that, but I've changed my mind. On reflection, you are obviously more attractive than my other friend, (who doesn't read this blog).

OK, back to the point. Is this fetish for over sized breasts a sign of the increasing infantilism of modern male culture in the UK? I mean, it's all of a piece with the rise of 'Lad's Mags' during the 1990s and the continued popularity of things like Top Gear, which promote the notion of fast cars, rule-breaking and anti-social behaviour as some kind of expression of masculinity. Then again, I suppose it could all be a plot on the part of cosmetic surgeons - by making women insecure over the size of their breasts they hope to drum up business for their breast enlargement clinics. But, on balance, I suspect that it's more likely to be an expression of infantilism.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Monday Night Rant

You know something - I'm damned if I'm going to be lectured on economics by an organization that, until recently, was headed by a rapist. (OK, alleged rapist). I speak, of course, of the IMF and its 'approval' for 'Gorgeous' George Osborne's disastrous economic 'policies'. Which is hardly surprising, as public spending is anathema to the IMF, another of those un-elected cheerleaders for unfettered rapacious capitalism and profiteering. Actually, it's very apt that they used to be headed by an alleged rapist as, over the past few decades, they've imposed conditions on loans made to third world countries which have, effectively, allowed the rape their resources. Now they want to extend these economic sexual assaults to the developed world, starting with Greece. Let's just hope the Greek government finds some backbone and has its rape alarm and pepper spray handy.

While we're here defaming the right, what about that Vince Cable, eh? What a cock end! The latest wheeze of this discredited buffoon is to go to the GMB union's conference and effectively threaten them, (and, by extension, every other union member in the UK), that if they had the audacity to exercise their legal right to withdraw their labour in pursuit of legitimate grievances, he'll introduce legislation to restrict those rights! Remind me again Vince, how is it that you are in the 'Liberal' party? There's nothing liberal about behaving like a right wing bully boy. Of course, this is all reminiscent of William Hague encouraging military intervention in Libya to prove that he isn't gay. Clearly, Vince wants to prove that he isn't really a sad, impotent, old man who has completely destroyed his own credibility with his U-turns, broken promises, idiotic misjudgements and general cosying up to the Tories. Take my advice Vince - just take some Viagra instead, you'll look far less pathetic.

Gad, how good it is to start off the week with a bloody good barely coherent rant! I've had a very frustrating day and I want to get it out of my system now. For tomorrow, I intend to talk about breasts.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Moving Forward

Just a quick update on how my long promised revamp of The Sleaze is progressing. I haven't quite made the progress in transferring stories over to the new database that I'd hoped to this week. Whilst I've been off work all week, I've had to devote some time to what I optimistically call 'gardening'. My back garden might well be the size of a postage stamp, but that hasn't stopped me from allowing it to become a jungle. A couple of years of neglect have left things in a pretty bad shape - not helped by out-of-control shrubs from next door impinging and blocking out the light on one side, and ivy and overgrowing trees creeping over the wall from the council park land on the other side. Consequently, I've spent part of the week hacking things down. It still looks a mess, but at least I'm getting more light now, and I'm beginning to clear the whole site. What I'm going to do with it once it's completely cleared, I've yet to decide. But I've strayed from my original intent of giving an update on the Sleaze revamp. To cut a long story short, I'm about at the half way point of transferring stories. I reckon I'm still on course for my projected August relaunch. Fingers crossed.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Keeping the British End Up

One of my great regrets is that I never bought a copy of David McGillivray's 1992 account of the British sex film industry in the 1970s, Doing Rude Things. I don't know why I didn't buy a copy. I remember reading large parts of it in various London bookshops during my lunch hour, when I worked up there. I also saw the amusing BBC documentary based on it. But I never bought the book. When I tried to obtain a second hand copy a few years ago, I found that it was now fetching ludicrous prices, (apparently it hasn't been reprinted, rendering it a 'rare' or 'collectible' book). Over the years other books on the subject have appeared and I've perused them in bookshops. They were OK, but none moved me to buy them. Until now. I recently caught sight of the new revised edition of Simon Sheridan's Keeping the British End Up. I was captivated by what I saw - it's clearly lovingly researched - and ordered a copy via Amazon (it was ten quid cheaper than in the shop).

I've just taken delivery of my copy and already, after only a brief skim, have learned things I never knew about British sex comedies. Who knew, for instance, that veteran Hollywood B-Movie monster specialist Jack Arnold, (the director of such 1950s classics as Tarantula and The Incredible Shrinking Man amongst others), came to London in the 1970s to direct a sex film? Or that Christopher Matthews, (who I only remembered as the bland hero of psychedelic horror flick Scream and Scream Again), made a sex film in the late 1960s, in which he cavorted with the Collinson twins, (of Twins of Evil fame)? Apparently the scenes with the twins were shot several months after the films initial UK release in order to provide more 'action' for the US release. It really is extraordinary how many well known British actors appeared in this type of film in the 1970s. Not that they had much choice - apart from James Bond, by the mid-1970s there wasn't much else in the way of commercial movies being made in the UK. Speaking of Bond, Martin Campbell, later to direct Goldeneye and Casino Royale, started his film directing career in sex movies. I look forward to exploring this fantastic chronicle of a genre which is all too often sneered at in greater detail over the next couple of weeks.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Who is John Preston?

Who is John Preston? I only ask because The Sleaze has just had a visit from someone as a result of their searching for 'John Preston naked' in Google. Sadly for them, (but probably fortuitously for John Preston), the story they clicked on - Naked Aggression - doesn't have anything to do with any John Prestons getting naked. Although it does feature John Prescott being stripped naked by a gang of militant naturists. But if you are called John Preston and think that somebody could be looking for naked pictures of you, the visitor came from Statesboro, Georgia, USA. So, if you know anybody there - report them to the police immediately. They're probably stalking you. As far as the searcher is concerned: the likelihood of actually finding any naked pictures of a specific non-celebrity person this way is pretty remote - so, my advice to you is to sneak around their house and stick your telescopic photo lens through their bathroom window in the hope of snatching some illicit nudie pics. Then post them on a web page with the words 'nude pictures of John Preston' in the 'title' tag. You might be able to find them in a web search after that.

As I’ve noted before, many visitors seem to find their way to The Sleaze as the result of such addled search terms. It’s the same for most web sites. A friend who works for a well-known publisher once told me that after his employer had installed tracking software more sophisticated than a simple counter on the company web site, they were horrified by the search terms driving traffic to them. Sometimes the origin of the visitors can be of interest. Over the past few weeks The Sleaze has registered visits from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and our own Houses of Parliament. Unlike many other site owners I’ve encountered, I find nothing sinister in such visits. A quick glance at the paths they arrived by confirms that, far from being ‘official’ visits, they are simply bored office workers trying to while away a few minutes of a dull working day with random web searches. Sometimes this kind of traffic can be a bit more focused. During the last General Election, for instance, my anti David Cameron stories attracted quite a few hits from Labour Party HQ. Researchers looking for political dirt, no doubt. I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, I made Alistair Campbell chuckle with The Two Faces of David Cameron. Although the lack of subsequent return visits suggests I probably didn’t.