Monday, September 30, 2013

The Gun is Good, The Penis is Bad...

I was reminded of the flying godhead in Zardoz's catchphrase the other day: 'The Gun is Good.  The Penis is Bad'.  It all has to do with controlling the population of the savages who live in the wastelands, if you haven't ever seen this bonkers slice of British seventies science fiction.  If you've ever wanted to see Sean Connery in a nappy-like loincloth and little else, then this is the film for you.  To get back to the point, it occurred to me that it could also serve as an effective slogan for the Tory Party conference this week.  After all, Cameron certainly seems to think that the gun is good - particularly when it is being pointed at Johnny Foreigner in an attempt to divert public attention from domestic issues.  Dave definitely believes that the penis is bad (although William Hague might disagree, allegedly) - just look at how determined he is to curb our sexual lusts by trying to block internet porn from our PCs and smartphones.  Dave's obsession with internet porn has become my obsession, in that I've become determined to get to the bottom of this fixation.  I mean, it just isn't normal, is it?

But perhaps, seen in the context of Zardoz, this obsession now makes some kind of sense.  Maybe Cameron and co are worried that exposure to all those pictures of naked ladies will so sexually excite the lower orders that they'll start procreating out of all control.  As, thanks to Gorgeous George Osborne's economic incompetence, there aren't any jobs, then they'll all end up on welfare which as we know, the Tories don't like.  It's that 'something for nothing culture'.  Except that people claiming unemployment benefit, for instance, aren't getting something for nothing - they've paid into the system in terms of tax and national insurance contributions.  But logic doesn't bother these gun-loving, penis-hating, right-wing bastards.  Only today we've had Osborne telling us how he's going to punish the long-term unemployed for not having jobs, forcing them to do community work, like picking up litter on the streets.  Which begs the question, if there is a need for people to sweep up the streets, then surely people should be employed properly, on a full-time paid basis, to do this?  Using unpaid labour in shape of unemployed people is surely destroying employment opportunities.  Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't the reason that people are claiming unemployment benefits is because they don't have jobs?  So surely the best way to reduce unemployment benefit pay-outs is to create more jobs?  Proper jobs, I mean, not those zero-hours neo-feudal arrangements they try to pass off as jobs.  If only these Tory bastards could learn to love their penises, then maybe we could get Britain back to work...


Friday, September 27, 2013

IT Nightmare

So, it's finally over - my IT nightmare, that is.  As you may recall, I started the week with my newly installed anti-virus update slowing my laptop to a crawl.  Shutting it down whilst working seemed the only way to get the laptop back to some semblance of normality.  Well, it got worse, with the anti-virus software subsequently claiming that its database was corrupted, the licence key I'd paid for was invalid and refusing to update the database, (remember, this was a piece of software from a major, supposedly reputable, vendor of web security products.  The laptop itself was now trying to run a disc check every time it booted, but was being prevented by the anti-virus software.  So, on Wednesday I decided the only solution was to uninstall the anti-virus programme completely.  Amazingly, it uninstalled without a hitch.  I then rebooted so that the laptop could finally go through the disc check, which took it the better part of an hour to complete, the anti-virus had caused so much damage. 

I ended up replacing the anti-virus with Microsoft's free (to non-commercial users) anti-virus software.  Not surprisingly, the laptop is now running far more smoothly.  The long and the short of all this is that I ended up wasting the better part of three precious evenings trying to sort out the mess caused by the anti-virus update.  Consequently, I've been unable to do most of the things I was planning to do this week, not just in terms of posts here, but also new stories for The Sleaze, work on a couple of podcasts I'm working on, editing more holiday films and catching up with a whole load of stuff I've found on You Tube. (Of course, some people might say that makes this IT nightmare a blessing in disguise). Isn't modern technology wonderful?  You install something that is meant to protect your PC from viruses and find that it instead chews up your hard drive.  The only moral I can find in all this is that it is better to stick to freeware for web security - it might be less effective, but it apparently does less damage to your equipment.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting Mad

I've tried very hard to be offended, but I'm afraid that I just find the whole thing hilariously funny.  I refer, of course, to the 'public outrage' which has forced Asda to withdraw its 'Mental Patient' Halloween costume and Tesco its 'Psych Ward' costume from shelves.  Apparently these costumes - which include, respectively, a blood-stained white coat, mask and plastic meat cleaver, and an orange boiler suit, jaw restraint and plastic machete (pretty good value for around the £20 mark, I'd say) - stigmatise those with mental health problems.  Do they, really?  Both are clearly referencing the popular culture image of crazed killers popularised by horror movies like the Friday the Thirteenth and Halloween series, not to mention Hannibal Lector in Silence of The Lambs (which the Tesco costume is clearly inspired by).  Do those 'outraged' by these costumes really, honestly, believe that anyone actually thinks that these characterisations represent real mental illness sufferers?  The overwhelming majority of people can clearly distinguish between reality and fiction.  After all, we don't see the medical profession, say, getting outraged over Frankenstein films because they stigmatise them all as 'mad doctors' robbing graves and constructing monsters from stolen body parts.  Clearly, such fictional portrayals are ludicrous, just like those of 'mad' killers in slasher films.

If we were to take this issue to its logical conclusion, then we should be banning any film which doesn't give a 'realistic' portrayal of mental health sufferers.  So, out go all those mad scientists, psychopaths and assorted 'eccentric' vampire hunters and the like.  Hitchcock's Psycho would be out, for sure - unrealistic mental health sufferer and use of the stigmatising term 'psycho' in the title.  Which highlights another point: many of the popular terms associated with mental health problems - 'mad', 'maniac', 'crazy', 'whacko' - are in common parlance, but not to describe actual mentally ill people.  If we refer to someone as a 'maniac driver', for instance, we don't mean that they are actually unsound of mind, (or someone who drives maniacs, if we are to be grammatically pedantic), but we all know what is actually meant.  Clearly no slur on the mentally ill is intended with the use of such terms.  Getting back to the original point, as someone who has suffered from clinical depression, which apparently makes me one of those sufferers from mental health problems, I can't say that these Halloween costumes make me feel stigmatised.  I'd agree that their labelling was ill thought out and inappropriate.  If they'd just called them something like 'Serial Killer', 'Meat Cleaver Maniac' or 'Psycho Killer', then I doubt that anyone would have batted an eyelid or sent a tweet.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Waste of Time

This evening has been a nightmare.  A complete waste of time, in fact.  My laptop has been virtually unusable, in web-browsing terms, with tabs not opening, pages taking forever to load, often culminating in the entire machine locking up, leaving me with no option but to shut it down using the 'off' button.  It has been impossible to get anything done - I've abandoned the planned blog post here, for instance.  To be fair, this shit has been going on since the weekend, with the system crashing yesterday, as well. It all seems to go back to when I updated my anti-virus software (the licence had expired).  Indeed, the only way I can get any semblance of normality is by shutting the anti-virus programme down.  Even then, browsers still play up every so often.  Quite honestly, the only solution I can see is to completely uninstall the anti-virus, (and try to get my money back - I paid thirty quid for the new licence).  Of course that will take time, (as will installing a replacement), and, to be frank, I resent the amount of time I've already wasted on this.  If this was some ancient laptop running Windows XP, then I'd expect problems when installing an up-to-date anti-virus application.  However, this is a relatively recent machine running Windows 7, which the software claimed to be compatible with.

Anyway, I'll probably be looking to a free anti-virus solution to replace the current crock of shit.  That way, even if it fucks up my system the same way this one has, at least I won't hae paid for the privilege.  Hopefully, normal service will be resumed soon.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Don't Fly With Me

A personal reminiscence today.  I was ecstatic to read last week that the RAF had finally retired the last of its VC10 transport planes.  Whilst in recent times they've been used mainly as tankers, I had the misfortune, back in the 1990s, to travel on them a couple of times when they were still being used as long-range passenger transports.  Back then I was working for the MoD. which was such a cheapskate that when we civilian staff had to attend conferences in Washington, instead of booking us onto commercial flights, forced us to travel from RAF Brize Norton on one of the regular VC10 runs to Washington Dulles.  If you'd ever flown commercially, the VC10s were like stepping back into the 1960s.  Uncomfortable rearward-facing seats, (to be fair, a sensible safety feature), narrow aisle, plastic fittings, noisy cabin and condensation pouring from the ceiling were just some of the memorable features. 

Hydraulic fluid of some kind regularly leaked into the luggage hold and, if there was a strong headwind, the relatively low fuel capacity meant that the VC10s had to make an additional stop at Gander or Bangor, Maine (home of Stephen King) to refuel.  Perhaps worst of all, their instruments and navigational systems were apparently so antiquated that they couldn't land in foggy conditions, (another throwback to the 1960s, when movies regularly featured passengers stranded at fog-bound airports).  The last time I ever flew on one, returning from the States, there was fog at Brize that morning.  So, we diverted to Manchester, where the RAF just dumped us - none of us came from Manchester and all our cars were at Brize.  After a few hours, they finally condescended to hire a coach to get us back there.  Still, at least we were in one piece - during the landing approach there had been some kind of panic amongst the RAF cabin crew and panels in the aisle floor were lifted and it seemed some kind of apparatus was being cranked.  I can only assume that they were manually lowering the landing gear.  Anyway, we were followed across the runway by what seemed to be Manchester Airport's entire allocation of emergency vehicles.  It was a bit like Thunderbirds.

I've heard it said that you should never drive a car older than yourself.  Personally, I think you should never fly in an aircraft older than yourself, but the VC10s came close.  They all carry builder's plates internally, telling you when they were completed.  All of those I flew on were only three years younger than me.  I'm sure that back in the 1960s the VC10s were cutting edge airliners, but thirty plus years on they just weren't cutting it as far as I was concerned.  Thankfully, after that last awful flight, departmental policy changed and we started using commercial carriers for transatlantic flights.  Nevertheless, those VC10 flights took their toll on me: I swear that my anxieties about long-distance flights started in the cabins of those bloody sixties throwbacks.   

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Friday, September 20, 2013


Another holiday film.  This time we're back at that monument to dead horse.  As before, nothing much happens - I wander round the monument before taking a look at some distant agricultural machinery and a passing plane.  A pretty average day off rom work...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tower of Evil

Time for another random movie trailer, I think.  This time we're back in 1972, during the British horror film's Indian Summer, before the UK film industry collapsed and, even if it didn't quite die, ended up on life support a few years later.  Alongside the established purveyors of exploitation movies, Hammer, Amicus and Tigon, various independent producers also started putting out horror movies.  Unlike the traditional Hammer product, which had dominated the market for so long, these movies tended to favour contemporary settings over period Gothic.  They were also increasingly aimed at a younger audience - just witness the trendy young things who dominate the first part of Tower of Evil.  Unfortunately, the young characters here are all too typical of those in other British horror flicks of the era: jazz-listening hepcats written by middle aged script writers.

Despite this gripe, Tower of Evil is a gloriously silly, but very entertaining film, even though the version I've seen on TV a couple of times has an incredibly muddled climax thanks to some cuts having been made at vital points in the denouement.  It features a host of familiar British faces, not to mention a plethora of red-herrings and sub-plots.  In many ways it can be seen as an early prototype of the later US slasher movies, with its unseen assailant gorily knocking off characters one-by-one in a remote setting.  A heady brew of drugs, jazz music and serial murder, the film also boasts an incredible psychedelic hypnotism/interrogation sequence.  As if all that wasn't enough, Robin Askwith gets impaled with a Phoenician spear and the lovely Candace Glendenning spends a large part of her screen time gratuitously naked.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Offensive Language?

God forbid that I should find myself more or less agreeing with something David Cameron says, but Hell, even Old Etonian Tory shitbags like him can't be wrong all the time.  I speak, of course, about the entirely manufactured 'controversy' over Tottenham supporters use of the term 'Yids' to describe themselves, regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile.  With the FA calling for this to stop as part of their campaign to 'stamp out racism' in football and threats that Spurs could be fined and individual fans arrested if the use of the term in terrace chants continues, Cameron has opined that there is an obvious difference between fans using the term to describe themselves and its use by anti-Semites as a term of racial abuse.  Perhaps some background is required here for the non-football fans to be able to put this all into context.  Tottenham Hotspur, based in North London, is a football club that has traditionally attracted a lot of Jewish support and has been financed by Jewish businessmen, including, in recent times, the likes of Alan Sugar and Joe Lewis.  Consequently, some supporters of rival clubs - I'm talking about you here Chelsea - have resorted to anti-Semitic abuse and chants when playing Spurs.  In response, to show solidarity, all Spurs fans, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds, have identified themselves as 'Yids' in a show of solidarity. 

So much for background.  The thing which has really annoyed me today, since Cameron's soundbite, is the media's constant trotting out of prominent Jews - none of whom support Spurs -  saying the use of the term 'Yid' by Spurs fans is wrong.  OK, they are entitled to their opinion.  However, the arguments they have used to justify their position are pathetic.  Apparently, Spurs supporters calling themselves 'Yids' encourages the rival fans to respond with anti-Semitic chants and abuse!  Excuse me?  Isn't this rather trying to reverse cause and effect and somehow blame the victims for being abused?  Rather than throwing their hands up and wailing how offended they are by hearing the word 'Yid', some of these people should be asking themselves why, as Jews, they are supporting clubs whose fans themselves seem to be overwhelmingly anti-Semitic?  If the FA is really worried about racism on the terraces, then surely they should be tackling Chelsea about the chants of 'You are on your way to Auschwitz' their fans regularly direct toward their Tottenham counterparts.  Oh, but I forgot - they only do that because they've been so offended themselves by hearing the word 'Yid' uttered by the Spurs faithful.  Like I said: pathetic. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

You Know You Want It...

Did you know that Peter Wyngarde once released an album?  Actually, before we go on, perhaps I should ask if you remember who Peter Wyngarde is?  If the answer is 'no', then ask your parents or, more likely, grandparents.  To cut a long story short, back in those halcyon days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when ITC used to churn out a seemingly endless series of action/adventure TV shows, Wyngarde was the flamboyant star of not one, but two of these:  Department S and Jason King.  He portrayed the same character - the eponymous Jason King - in both.  King was one of those typical of the era heroes - a cravat and velvet jacket wearing novelist with a handlebar moustache who tooled around swinging London and various country estates thwarting the schemes of nefarious villains.  But getting back to the point, at the height of his fame, in 1970, Wyngarde was persuaded to record an album.  A very peculiar album, with the following as its most notorious track:


Not surprisingly, the album was withdrawn from sale after only a week.  It was reissued in the early 1990s, under the title When Sex Leers its Inquisitive Head, and is still available.  Clearly, a song about rape can now be regarded as 'ironic', rather than provoking outrage as it did in those unreconstructedly sexist 1970s  I have to confess, that I remain conflicted with regard to the song.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I first came across it.  Nevertheless, despite being offensive on several levels, (not just sexist, but racist as well), I couldn't help but laugh.  The whole thing is so ludicrous and camp, I really can't believe that it wasn't conceived as an ill-judged joke.   

The fact that the track 'Rape' apparently caused sufficient offence in the early 1970s to get the whole album withdrawn is fascinating.  Anybody who lived through the era, or has had any exposure to popular culture of the time, will, like me, doubtless recall that attitudes toward rape seemed very different back then.  Male characters in sitcoms would sometimes joke about it whilst the female characters would go misty-eyed and sigh wistfully at the prospect of being 'raped' by some attractive male character.  There was an underlying assumption amongst many men that 'rape' was a fantasy enjoyed by many women - that they secretly harboured the desire to be forcibly abducted by a man before giving way to his rampant sexual desire.  Indeed, in some circles it was seen as a badge of masculinity to force oneself on a reluctant woman.  After all, back then 'no' meant 'yes' and we all knew that they really wanted to be ravished.

All of which, I hope, puts the song into some kind of context.  There is another aspect to bear in mind: whilst Wyngarde was built up by the media as some kind of suave and sophisticated ladies' man, these credentials were severely dented when, in the mid-1970s, he was arrested for soliciting young men for sex in public toilets, thereby making public what had been openly known in showbiz circles for years, that Wyngarde was homosexual.  Which raises the question, bearing in mind heterosexual attitudes to rape at the time, whether Wyngarde, as a gay man, actually realised just how potentially offensive 'Rape' was to women?

Now, whilst I'd like to believe that nowadays we have more enlightened attitudes toward the seriousness of sexual assault and that something like this wouldn't be released now, I still hear things like Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' being played on the radio.  Whilst it might not be an ode to rape, lyrics like "I'm tired of these blurred lines, you know you want it" could be interpreted otherwise.  While 'Blurred Lines' hides behind its supposed 'irony', Wyngarde's 'Rape' at least had the decency to be up front with its offensiveness.        

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Any Other Name

"It's an outrage!" the right seemed to bellowing in unison earlier this week as they tried to whip up a hate campaign against the United Nations and Brazil, after a Brazilian UN envoy had the audacity to criticise the government's housing policies.  Specifically, she criticised the so-called 'Bedroom Tax', which penalises people living in social housing who have spare bedrooms.  It was hard to tell what enraged them most - the fact that any foreigner should dare to criticise such a mean-spirited policy, or that said critic came from what they saw as a third world country.  Oh, the fact that she had once served in a left-wing administration didn't help.  Or that, according to some especially bizarre reports, that she was a witch.  This government's aversion to criticism and unwillingness to acknowledge that there could possibly be any alternative points of view to its own, is now reaching ludicrous proportions.  If it isn't bonkers Education Secretary Michael Gove ignoring any educational experts who aren't as completely deranged as himself, then its Ian Duncan Smith blaming the civil servants for the fact that the universal benefit system that he devised and implemented after ignoring much expert advice, isn't working. 

I have to say, though, that the best bit of Tory denial I heard this week was Tory Chairman Grant Shapps criticising the UN envoy for, amongst other things, failing to call the 'Bedroom Tax' by its proper name - which, apparently, is the 'Spare Room Subsidy', which, in a typical bit of Tory double think, makes it sound somehow beneficial.  I can't help but feel that it is a bit rich for  Grant Shapps to be complaining about misrepresenting something by not using its proper name.  Let's not forget, this was the man who used to call himself Michael Green and present himself as some kind of internet guru when he was promoting various 'get-rich-quick through the web' schemes a few years ago.  Some of the software his company pushed was designed to 'scrape' other people's content and represent it on someone else's site, in order to save them the bother of writing original content to support their dodgy ads and affiliate schemes.  Not that any of that was actually illegal.  Just completely unethical and morally indefensible.  A bit like the 'Bedroom Tax'. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

No Exemptions

Just lately the world seems to be full of people wanting an exemption from the rules.  Take disgraced former Lib Dem cabinet minister and jailbird Chris Huhne - he seems to think that his conviction for perverting the course of justice was all the fault of the Murdoch press, who 'groomed' his wife to testify against him.  Of course, the reality is that he was convicted because he got his wife to lie to the police and courts and say that it was her behind the wheel of his car, not him, when it was clocked breaking the speed limit.  His logic seems to be that, as he got away with it in the first place, he shouldn't have had to suffer the indignity of being prosecuted when he was found out.  It's irrelevant who eventually uncovered the truth and what their motivation might have been: Huhne broke the law then evaded justice by not only lying himself, but coercing someone else to also lie.  Just because you weren't caught the first time doesn't mean that you aren't guilty.  There are no exemptions from justice for wealthy politicians who think they are too important to observe the law.

In the wake of Coronation Street actor Micheal LeVell's acquittal on child sex charges earlier this week, we had the usual nonsense about 'celebrity witch hunts' in the press.  Why was he ever charged?  Why did it go to trial if they couldn't get a conviction?  All of which misses the point that trials don't have a certain outcome - that's the point: to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused.  Certain sections of the press - frustrated, no doubt, about being deprived of their headlines about soap star nonces once that 'not guilty' verdict came in - seemed to be suggesting that celebrities should be exempt from prosecution for alleged sex crimes unless there is a cast iron prosecution case involving photographic evidence and witness statements signed by the Pope and Dalai Lama.  Then we had Prince Andrew, allegedly furious because police officers didn't recognise him in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and challenged him.  The general tone of the press reporting was that the officers involved were at fault for inconveniencing this state subsidised freeloader, sorry, Prince of the realm.  But what are they supposed to do?  Against the background of a recent break-in at the Palace, they see someone wandering around the grounds when they don't expect to - surely the only sensible response is to find out who the 'intruder' is?  But obviously, royalty are so important that they should be instantly recognisable - even Prince Andrew who has no real job and fulfils no practical purpose.  I can only hope that the pompous oaf, when challenged, asked 'Don't you know who I am?' and that one of the cops responded, 'Why, can't you remember?'.  

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Small Country Nobody Pays Any Attention To...

We're in that hinterland between Summer and Autumn at the moment.  The heat has gone, but the sun still puts in appearances.  The leaves are still green and still on the trees, but the wind is getting stronger and colder.  We're trapped between a glorious sunny past and a potentially chill future, yearning for the former whilst trying to deny the inevitability of the latter.  A bit like David Cameron, it seems.  Certainly, his response to the alleged comments of one of Russia's President Putin's political advisors that Britain was 'a small country that nobody listens to anymore' with regard to Syria, seem to indicate that he's still unwilling to let go of that warm imperial summer of our past.  He pompously reeled off all of those great British achievements - including all the usual ones about winning two World Wars single handed - he seems to think entitles the UK to a place at the top table when it comes to world affairs.

The trouble is that all of these supposed achievements lie firmly in the past.  I could be wrong, but the Second World War was about the most recent event he could muster.  Which is precisely what the Russian guy - if he indeed did utter the words attributed to him - was getting at: Britain's best years lie in the past and it is likely to stay that way as long he we persist in living in that past.  Actually, we're not even doing that.  We're actually living a fantasy version of that past where we're always the good guys, the Empire was a beneficent force for good which, despite being based on military conquest, cultural hegemony and economic exploitation, was in reality a mechanism for spreading democracy and civilised values around the world.  We - and by 'we' I mean our political leaders and rampant right-wing press - really need to start accepting that those days are long, long past and that the UK can't base its role in the world on the basis of an historical fantasy.  We need to find a new role, based on current realities.  When he lost that Commons vote on military action against Syria, Cameron told the House 'I get it'.  The trouble is that, as his recent comments show, he doesn't really 'get' it.  In fact, he doesn't 'get' anything and until he does, the UK is doomed to be an international irrelevance.    


Monday, September 09, 2013

Let's Start a War For Peace!

OK, it's time to get back to business.  I've just about kept this place ticking over for the past couple of weeks while I was on holiday, but Summer's over now and it is time to start making some proper posts again.  (It is also time to finally getting around to completing another podcast).  Whilst I've been busy enjoying the sun, it's all been kicking off with regard to Syria, most notably, David Cameron's attempts to rush us into participating in US-led military action has been roundly rebuffed by Parliament.  Now, normally you would expect a Prime Minister having suffered such a defeat to face a subsequent vote of no confidence, but thanks to the Tories' blatant rigging of the constitution to keep them power, that can't happen now without, I think a two thirds majority in favour of the motion.  Instead, we are saddled with this 'fixed-term' Parliament which favours the governing party.  But that isn't really the issue here - the question is whether we are morally, politically or strategically obligated to respond to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.  President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are certainly laying it on thick with the moral and political arguments, stating that the international community has decided that the use of chemical weapons represents a 'red line' and as that line has been crossed, we have to respond.

Which is fine, except that there is no reason why that response should be military.  Indeed, it is unclear what the proposed action of missile strikes could actually achieve.  Moreover, whilst no one would disagree that a line has been crossed, it isn't the first time.  Back in the 'good old days' when Saddam and Iraq were our allies against Iran, I seem to remember him using chemical weapons against his own people.  Were we and the US shouting a about a line being crossed then and demanding military action?  Furthermore, why, apparently, is it only crossing a line if you kill your own people with chemical weapons?  The current military regime in Egypt - which deposed a democratically elected, if unpopular, President, has killed as least as many innocent, unarmed citizens as the Syrians are alleged to have done with chemical weapon attacks, simply because they had the audacity to protest at what amounted to a military coup.  Did Cameron or Obama call for military intervention?  Of course not.  Indeed, the US government even denies that it was a military coup, as if it was, they would no longer be able to sell Egypt weapons. 

Which isn't to say that I would want to see military action in any of these cases.  The fact is that terrible things are happening all over the world all of the time and the sad reality is that, most of the time, there is little we can do about it.  Which doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but we have to ask how we can best approach these situations.  The trouble is that our leaders still seem to be in the grip of the dangerous double-think which says that you can only achieve peace by starting a war.  In spite of the fact that the majority of recent Western military interventions really haven't turned out well.   I'm not claiming to know what the alternative might be, but surely anything is better than dropping bombs on people in the name of 'liberating' them?

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Saturday, September 07, 2013

Sea, Ships and Salt Marshes

YouTube has finally deigned to allow me to upload this first holiday video.  Hooray!  The title pretty much sums up the content.  It is, of course, filmed largely from my favourite beach, to which I am inexorably drawn ever Summer.  Partly it is due to familiarity - the place holds warm childhood memories for me - partly it is to sustain a fantasy I have about owning a house on that stretch of coastline.  Obviously, I could never afford any of the properties which lie between that beach and the salt marshes to the East.  But we all need a dream, particularly one which includes peace, seclusion, waking up to the sound of the sea and access to a stretch of private beach.


Friday, September 06, 2013

Today's Post is Cancelled

Having actually edited together some holiday video footage, with the intention of posting it here today, I find myself stymied by YouTube, which is claiming that it will take four hours to upload a two and a half minute film!  Fuck off!  It is now beginning to look as if Google, not satisfied with destroying my web traffic, now wants to make it impossible for me to share any of my videos! 


Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Last Day of Summer

Actually, it isn't.  In meteorological terms Summer ended with August but, as is often the case, the season spilled over into early September.  Something I'm grateful for as I'm still on holiday.  Anyway, if we are to believe the weather forecasters, today was likely to have been the last warm Summery day we're likely to have for quite a while.  So I made the most of it, squeezing every last ounce of pleasure from it, including a trip to the beach and a long walk through some beautiful countryside.  With much of it caught on film.  Actually, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a lack of my holiday films so far this year.  It isn't that I haven't been shooting them, just that I haven't gotten around to editing any of the footage.  Not only have I been busy doing other stuff, but I decided I wanted to do it a bit differently this year. 

But getting back to the original point, whilst I'm still on holiday tomorrow, the weather forecast isn't good and I haven't planned to go anywhere.  I've got all sorts of dull but essential real-life things to do, like paying bills, shopping, ironing and shopping, all of which I've neglected while I've been on holiday.  That said, if I wake up to blazing sunshine tomorrow, I'll be in the car and out of here all day.  The mundane stuff can always wait another day.  But if it rains and I end up doing the boring stuff, then I might have some time left to start editing together those holiday films.  You've been warned...


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Food and Stuff

Why do so many poor people feed their families cheap and unhealthy supermarket food yet have their houses filled with big screen TVs and the like? asks TV chef and tosser Jamie Oliver.  Well, the fact is, Jamie, aside from perpetuating stereotypical views of the 'poor', you've actually hit on an important point as to what's wrong with modern society.  You see, al those TVs, mp3 players, Blu-ray players and other expensive consumer goods which clutter our homes, are seen as symbols of success in today's society.  Material possessions are seen as the only worthwhile measure of success.  TV and newspapers tell us all the time that that the key to happiness lies in owning 'stuff'.  The more expensive 'stuff' the better.  Of course, according to capitalist theory, the possession of such 'stuff' reflects one's ability to afford them - the more financially successful you are, the more you earn, the more 'stuff' you have.  Want more 'stuff'?  Work harder.

Except that, in reality, it doesn't work like that.  Constantly bombarded with the message that you must have this 'stuff', or you are a failure and your life is incomplete, many at the lower end of the economic scale resort to other means to get the money to buy 'stuff'.  No matter how many minimum wage shifts you work on a zero-hours contract, you aren't going to earn enough to buy much 'stuff'.  So they resort to loans from dodgy lenders, cutting back on spending on less glamourous 'stuff'. Like food, for instance.  Believe me, focus on a diet of horse meat ready meals and you'll soon find that you've saved enough for a flat-screen TV to slump in front of and watch Jamie Oliver demonstrating how out of touch with socio-economic reality he is.   

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Hello, Good Evening and Uuuuurrghh!!!

"Hello, good evening and uuuurrrghh!!!"  So passes Sir David Frost, whose sudden death has doubtless left the BBC kicking themselves over their scheduling of Frost/Nixon -if only they'd held back from showing it again by a couple of weeks it could have served as an easy tribute. instead of them having to hastily schedule something from the archives. But at least Frost's demise has emboldened Nelson Mandela to leave hospital, confident in the knowledge that Sir Dave won't be trying to interview him any more.  I know, I know - it really is too soon for me to be indulging in such poor taste, isn't it?  But it has never bothered me before, though.  It's not been a good week for British celebrities: it's only Monday and they are dropping like flies already!  I've just read that David Jacobs has died.  It's hard to believe, I know, but he was once considered to be a cutting edge radio DJ, pioneering the playing of those popular beat combos, as they were known, on BBC radio.  At least he was never accused of inappropriate behaviour with young fans.  Mind you, in his day 'inappropriate behaviour' would have meant appearing in public without a tie and dinner jacket.

Of course, we currently have a whole raft of celebrities accused of indulging in far worse 'inappropriate behaviour': Dave Lee Travis is up on groping charges, whilst two members of the current Coronation Street cast are in court facing all manner of charges relating to serious sex offences.  Saddest of all, we have Rolf Harris charged with sex offences. (I take that back - the saddest development is that all charges against Jim Davidson have been dropped).  I've said it before and I'll say it again: this Rolf business feels as if a line has been crossed.  He was such an integral part of my childhood that it just seems impossible that he might have been up to this stuff.  However, like all the others, he is still innocent until proven guilty.  We'll just have to wait until the trial to find out where the truth really lies.  One of the charges that Rolf faces is that he allegedly produced indecent images of minors.  I'm afraid this conjured up a truly horrendous image in my mind of Rolf, in front of an audience, doing one of his huge paintings, asking "Can you guess what it is yet?" and the audience recoiling in disgust as it becomes clear that he's painting an image of a child being abused with a didgeridoo.  If true, that would forever taint a huge part of my childhood. 

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