Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Brave or what?

Ah, the wondrous world of the terminally offended is a cornucopia of schadenfreude and is truly hilarious to behold. At any suggestion you could take some responsibility for our own life prepare for a flurry of indignation as folks of a certain political persuasion accuse you of monstrous motives. I heard on the radio a few days ago a teenage girl, newly back out of care and living with her mother, saying without a hint of awareness that she had had no other choice but to fly into a rage and strike out. Her mother agreed; it was the stress of being a teenager, it wasn’t her fault and society was to blame or some such crap.

One of the unintended consequences of universal welfare is this idea that, not only will the state provide, it will also step in and absolve you of any responsibility for your own actions. “He just lost it!” say the onlookers, “He flew into a rage. She provoked him. The government must do something.” And on and on it goes. Pleas of insanity are lodged and a ‘crime of passion’ is somehow at least partly excused by the animal inability to control an instinct for destruction. Anger management, ADHD, despair, abandonment, dereliction of duty; all symptoms or causes of a great malaise in western society leading to  greater demand than ever for ‘behavioural support’ in the classroom and beyond.

And then there’s all the whining over this ‘glass floor’ nonsense; how dare responsible parents who can provide for their children, er, provide for their children? How very dare they? Another LSE ‘study’ revealing the bleeding obvious that responsible people, paying virtually all the tax and thus propping up the whole of society are ‘unfairly’ preventing their own from sliding down to the arse-end. “The research suggests there is a clear correlation between the social background of a child's grandfather and eventual labour market success.” I should bloody well hope so, too, otherwise what’s the point? The predictable response from the caring left? Unfair! They shriek, as if the excuses they use for their own failings – they can’t help behaving that way – are somehow not applicable to those of better circumstances, who also instinctively defend their own.

And then of course the Brave New Worlders wade in, crying ‘eugenics’ at the suggestions that, in the future, genetic screening could identify the less academically capable. In this piece by Brendan O’Neill he concludes, as should anybody with an ounce of perspective: “Let’s not tell schoolkids their genes made them fail their GCSEs. Instead let’s introduce them to Renaissance through the idea that everyone has it within their power to be as great as they want to be. We aren’t born this way; we make ourselves.” The horror! And yet and yet... genetic screening is routinely used to detect physical conditions, why not mental ones as well? (I've been doing my bit, by the way: here)

Leftism... in a picture.

But apart from all that it strikes me we have a simple choice in life, really: We can accept the facts that life is hard, not naturally equitable and that it favours those born into advantage and then determine that we will seek out such advantages for ourselves, the hard way. Or we can bitch and moan and insist that those who have built the foundations for the future success of their own should undermine that very possibility by simply giving it away to those who see it as a right. Once again, the blinkered left simply cannot see that ‘equal rights’ does not equate to equal outcomes. If only we could genetically screen for leftism.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Thingternet

The Internet of Things? Are you stark-staring mental? Half the country has been incapable of keeping up with technology since top-loading VHS tape machines, with parents of small children wondering how their brood could simultaneously use them as sandwich toasters and yet be the only persons in the household capable of setting them to record all but the last two minutes of Corrie. Some people should not be allowed technology they can’t tame, which means that for a majority the basic nut and bolt is a mechanical bridge too far. Frankly, how some people even master breathing is a mystery to me.

When it comes to electronic wizardry - and I do mean wizardry - almost all of us are staring into an unfathomable abyss of religious-level incomprehension. I mean, come on, how in the world did you manage to pack all of your friends and your entire foreseeable future social life into a device you carry in your pocket. (Or in a pouch clipped onto your belt if you do, in fact, understand the technology but have so far failed to comprehend the basic instructions to cope with the paradigm known as ‘human’; what do computer experts use for contraception? Their personalities.) But I digress.

Why on earth would we want to let clever gizmos, of whose complexity and sophistication we are barely capable of using a fraction, achieve further autonomy from human control? Your apps are already tracking your every movement and all your interactions and steadily building a case for the exclusion of people from future decision-making… and, if necessary, for the prosecution. Data is collected and codified and sold and stored and collated and sold and copied and sold and… and… and… See? We don’t even know what information our machines are collecting, where it is going and what it is being used for. We may as well all be tagged.

And if we let them talk to each other what would they say? Oh it’s all very well the geeknocrats developing bar code scanners for fridges which can tell when the milk is past its use-by date and order more. But that’s useless unless they can also count the bottles piling up on the doorstep and check our movements to determine whether we are away on holiday or being eaten by the cats. We should be appalled at the whole idea of the Internet of Things but we just can’t help ourselves; after all, doesn’t every robot come pre-programed with Asimov’s Laws? I mean, it’s like holy scripture to the machines, isn’t it? If it is, I wonder how long it will before a robo-cop runs amok and all the machines say it’s not real fridgeslam?

Master or servant?
Where's Wall-E?

If you’re not worried by the possibilities maybe you should be; how long before the machines really do take over… and how long after that will they realise that they don’t need humans at all? Meanwhile, I have a technological problem of my own to deal with. The bathroom scales have been talking behind my back to the pedometer and cardio-monitor built into my shoes and the tensiometer in my belt and the bastards have locked me out of the beer fridge.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Eye to eye

Another day goes by and once again the vexed question of the Israeli occupied territories pops up in the news. I mean, they called it the six-day war but here we are fifty years later and still the occupation is disputed. The names are common currency even if you have no dog in the fight: the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula are known throughout the world and guaranteed to stir emotive discussion. Of course, as far as Israel is concerned the property rights and the dispute go back not just decades but millennia. The news this time is about the EU’s drive to progressively boycott Israeli businesses operating from the territories, imposing sanctions much the same as were imposed on South Africa during apartheid.

Stern stuff. Now, I rarely involve myself in the Zionist/anti-Zionist conflict because, frankly, I don’t understand it and it bores me, but every time Israel is in the news I’m reminded of an old friend of mine, Samuel, who was himself born in 1967. A little younger than me, and a funny-looking kid, I first met him at university where he was studying engineering and headed for a first. His was an intriguing story because as a direct result of the six-day war his parents flew to Britain for pioneering surgery which was just not a priority during the ‘disagreement’.

Sam was born prematurely – to this day his mother blames the shelling – and oddly was born without eyelids. Laying in the incubator his softly-focused eyes stared unblinking out at his visitors and attendants while a battery of tests were performed. It was soon apparent that, despite the physical deficit, his cognitive functions were unimpaired. This took some time to establish as a number of the diagnostic techniques back then depended somewhat on the blink reflex for feedback. Soon he put on weight and was released into the care of his mother but the bonding process didn’t go as smoothly as you would hope; it is one thing for a baby to stare into his other’s eyes but unnerving when, even in sleep, that eye contact is resolutely maintained.

She took him back to the hospital and soon it was agreed that something would need to be done; if Sam could scare his own mother like this how would he be accepted by his future peers? It was decided to try something never before attempted. Eyelids, you see, are made from a quite specialised type of skin cells. Much more flexible and softer than most other parts of the epidermis and unsupported by the usual thick layer of dermis beneath, the only other part of the body with comparable skin properties is the genitalia. Never let it be said that the Jewish people would willingly overlook the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Ground-breaking new skin graft techniques were pressed into service as immediately after the circumcision ceremony, for which the rabbi had unusually worn surgical gloves, Sam was rushed into surgery and his freshly removed foreskin was deftly shaped into two delicate eyelids. For many months, during which time he was thankfully unaware of his bizarre circumstances, the baby Samuel was in and out of hospital as the specialists carefully teased and stimulated the tiny amount of transplanted skin to grow into fully-formed lids, but finally the gauze was removed for the last time and the young lad emerged, literally blinking into his first normal day.

You wanna keep your eye on that one!
What are you looking at?

After that he lived and progressed just as any other kid and following his successful time at university went on to become a top-flight engineer. I caught up with him recently and he has gone on to acclaim, recently becoming a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. In middle age of course, like we all do, he has developed a bit of ‘spread’ but he still has the features that made the girls swoon back in the day. Oh yes, he turned out to be a good looking fella, but if you look closely enough you can see, even after all these years, he’s still a little bit cock-eyed.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Eating for Britain

Well, good old Tony Blair! (I bet you never thought you’d hear me say that) Wading into the Labour leadership debate like he did though, you have to wonder whether Mandy, the dark Lord was anywhere in the background. Otherwise you’d have to conclude that Blair, the master of duplicity had donned his coat of many colours inside out. The genius of New Labour of course was that with Blair as the figurehead, Labour appeared to have rejected its old anti-enterprise, anti-aspirational mantle and become a refreshing alternative to the nasty party. But all the while, as TB was distracting the crowd, Fagin Brown and his merry band set about picking our pockets to purchase a vote bloc.

And jolly well it was all going until the emperor’s finery fell about his ankles and we saw the awful cost laid bare and dangling before us. They would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for them pesky kids! With all con-tricks you have to follow the money and Blair’s unabashed lure of favours for finances has set him up nicely. Shame he’s fucked up the Middle East job. But what I want to know is, what is he up to this time? What advantage does he gain by lending his unpopular voice to the anti-Corbyn lobby? Nothing is ever what it seems, especially in leftist politics, so what plan is behind boosting the left he is so obviously not? (Or maybe he’s just losing his touch and genuinely believes his words of warning will get Liz Kendall in the chair?)

The subtleties will, of course, be lost on those he seeks to influence; it may just be that all those stupid enough to vote Labour have already been weeded out during the general election and all that are left are the stubborn but ultimately pointless dandelions who would elect a mollusc if it was painted red and steadfastly refused to relinquish its limpet-grasp on the old socialist dogma. Tax cuts for the people who pay for everything is somehow a hand-out while a lower hand-out to those who can only ever take is theft. Free booze and fags and Sky TV and rent and transport on the state while low-paid workers do without is ‘child poverty’, but employing people in a local business is fat-cattery. And the NHS has been privatised so many times now I’ve lost count.

It’s all about the words, see? So if you tell the world that poor people are obese because they can only afford high-sugar-and-fat processed stuff there is a section of the population willing it to be true, as a Twitter regular reminded me yesterday by resurrecting a year-old conversation about just that very subject. For people who think that all food is brown and comes via moped from a greasy, illegal immigrant, back-street hell-kitchen the notion of foods of a different hue is as remote as the possibility they could actually live detached from the teat of state.

It is very much in the interest of the old left to corral its unthinking supporters in the narrow shallow pen of accepting at face value what the Daily Mirror tells them. Jordan’s tits, Kim Kardashian’s arse, Kerry Katona’s car-crash life and almost all of Channel 5 are distractions from simply getting on with your own life. So much to watch, so little time and why cook when you can dial? And fatty, deep-fried shit is enervating and almost certainly contributes to sluggardly lifestyles, reducing the ability to think, to develop self-respect and to even attempt to make something of yourself, let alone for yourself.

Heat or eat? Do fuck off!
Come on, love, Labour needs our support

So steel yourselves ‘poor people’; Get up off your backside, get down the market, buy some veg, cook it yourself and watch those pustules disappear as your backbone uncurls and you realise you have, possibly for the first time, acted independently. Then do it again as soon as you can. And repeat until you realise you are no longer one of the ‘most vulnerable members of society’. You will feel the best you’ve felt in a lifetime. Then… as a last gesture of defiance, vote for Jeremy Corbyn and keep Labour out of power for a generation.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

I'm all right Jack

9 photos that prove…

Don’t you get fed up with all those posted links that promise to reveal shocking or funny or sexy ‘facts’ without which your life would have less meaning? Ten scary diseases, funniest photo ‘fails’, the top 10 worst celebrity wedding dresses ever and so ad-infinitum. Or those news stories, reported in social media, via other social media sites, which incorporate the item into their own advertising-riddled, bandwidth-heavy pages. What is wrong with people? It’s a form of Parkinson’s Law in operation; data will expand to fill the bandwidth available. Whatever happened to the Spartan days of the nineties when everybody was trying for optimal download times and Google emerged as the only effective search engine which was clean and tidy and actually delivered what you sought?

Serial offenders tweet and re-tweet the links as if to say “Look at me! I have nothing to say, but look at me anyway!” And until you recognise the ploy you’re tempted by these intriguing links and onto their fancifully ‘moneytised’ sites and then wonder what personal information of yours you divulge as cookies dutifully clog up your system and they earn a few tiny fractions of pennies from the deal. It’s all about me, me, me, because few of the rabid insidious click-baiters seem to ever engage with any other users.

Then you have the other extreme whereby the whole of the new media is there purely for fragile egos to seek support for their whining causes. And there are few whinier causes than the train-wreck that is ‘Dr’ Jack Monroe; forever setting herself up as the victim following the reactions to some ill-judged outburst. Yesterday she set a small part of Twitter alight by tweeting some bollocks about how her five-year old had seen one of the hate-tweets she exists to attract and how she had then had to explain it to said child.

Perfect. Perfect because this then elicited a heap of responses as to why she was exposing her brat to her online hell and this sort of abuse is pretty much the reason she gets out of bed most days. In her warped, entitled, self-centred world everybody else is using her child as some form of punch bag and she seems utterly oblivious to everybody’s genuine outrage that she has, once again, used her child to talk about… Jack Monroe. Sorry, I should say ‘Doctor’ Jack Monroe because she somehow managed to blag an honorary doctorate for services to lesbian victimhood. A pity she didn’t also manage to snag the class not to flaunt it.

We all like a bit of attention but some take the piss. One of the most selfish things you can do is to bring a life into the world without asking yourself if you are suitable parent for that child. So when people have the nerve to express doubt about her very public lack of credentials she gets to have her daily Violet Elizabeth Bott episode until everybody else is sick. In the mind-set of the illiberal left of course, expressing a dissenting opinion is hate speech of the worst kind. Bad parenting is beyond reproach but reproaching bad parenting demands the full attention of the law.

No, YOU fuck off!
Dr Jack - the world's best parental example...

She continually sets herself up as Aunt Sally and then sets her fellow be-tattooed lesbian attack dogs on those who dare throw missiles her way. As for using her very publicly state-funded fatherless child as a punch bag, what about her constantly using that same child as bait for the psychological self-harm of attracting opprobrium?  More selfish than bringing into the world a child without thought? Bring a life into the world and then use that life to continue making it all about you. That, Jack, is the bit you never seem to understand.