Monday, 30 September 2013
So there I was, happily engaged in my pretend intellectual antidote to all those awful reality shows, killing the time between Andrew Marr and The Daily Politics by idly watching Sunday Morning Live, when it suddenly came to me. I’ve got it all wrong. Everything; my entire world view is just… wrong.
Simon Fanshawe stated that instead of hiring the best man/woman for the job, you should hire for diversity. He justified that because ‘research’ showed that companies with diverse workforces were more creative and thus more productive, recruiters should forget about competence and instead rely on their conscience. Their conscience of course, having been infused with the established, soothing, lentilly mantras about the inherent goodness of ‘divers thynges’.
Hmmm, chicken and egg, surely? Are diverse companies successful, or do large, successful companies with worldwide trade naturally become more diverse? And anyway, diversity for its own sake cannot be automatically good. Should every football club be compelled to field teams with at least a proportion of the players being selected more for their abstract thinking than for their footballing skills? Or should we insist the fashion industry be represented on the catwalk by, say, 10% of models being selected from the morbidly obese?
You can’t just legislate for diversity, no matter how much the likes of Fanshawe insist. If, for instance, your trade was an Indian restaurant I doubt very much that anybody would dare to insist you employed sullen white teens to diversify your enterprise and inject a bit of spice. In fact you’d probably get a flash mob of grievance-for-hire protesters demanding you be allowed the right to discriminate and employ as many illegal immigrants as you could smuggle in. Such is the moveable feast of diktat.
Anyway, I Googled Mr Fanshawe and his Wikipedia entry has him down as a comedian, media luvvy and general gob for hire – in other words a career (and an honour, no less) based on un-provable opinion, baseless claims from spurious research and general, all-round frippery. Nobody cares for facts or instinct or common sense any more – that sort of knowledge is given away freely wherever you look and in the world of commerce, politics and vested interests if it doesn’t cost a packet it must be worthless. As Lord Ashcroft said this morning on the radio, “in politics, perception IS reality”.
The apparent logic is that it is far better to pay for expensive studies, carried out by earnest sociology students to reach predetermined conclusions about what people want than to actually, you know, ask people what they want. Much more effective to throw tons of money at a problem that may not exist, creating millionaires from the extracted taxes of people with no say in how their money is spent than to, you know, ask people whether they actually want what you’re making them pay for.
All these years I’ve been stupid enough to believe that making something and selling it for more than it costs to make, yet at a price the market will bear, thus yielding a profit from which I can take a wage, leaving funds to reinvest in more of my industry was the right way to make a living. But why not cut out the uncertain parts of that process – the sourcing of materials and fabrication of the products – with all the vagaries of prices and labour and competition?
No, sod that; I could just sell ideas. Better than that, I could sell people’s own ideas back to them; become a one-man think tank or pollster or even better, become an ‘expert’. And it works; in the face of little or no evidence, I could create beliefs, from which I could profit. Just like the ‘experts’ have done with global warming, management consultancy, psychology, homeopathy, the EU and the cult of celebrity. As an expert I could garner state funding for research with which to engender beliefs that could influence policy and divert yet more funds to my cause. I smell the diesel scent of the gravy train.
From spurious beliefs was conjured up the rag-tag army of militants to spit at, shout scum and generally harass ordinary, sincere people attending the Conservative Party conference. By ramping up the rhetoric of ‘suffering’ a multitude can be called on to protest, convinced that living within our means is now cruel hardship. And despite more and more money being thrown at a poorly managed state behemoth, the same mob believes the NHS is at greater risk from the Tories than from the party that managed to spend the entire country into ruin.
Diversity - the same old shit, repackaged
So, I reckon I’ll have some of that. Coming soon, my learned papers on Aromapolitics, Homeosocioversity, Diversinetiks, Politicorrectity… Whole new ways of thinking; of creating synergistic solutions for the uploading of axiomatic conversations about the interconnectivity of life systems and wellness, of cyber-societal satisfaction… There’s a whole new world to pay for. And boy, will you pay for it…
Friday, 27 September 2013
Dead Millipede has said he wants to compel any firm employing a non-EU citizen to also take an EU apprentice. He really intended that it would be a British apprentice, echoing Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British people” but forgot that all jobs these days must be open to anybody from anywhere in the EU and Spain, for one, has millions of unoccupied kids who may jump at the chance. You see, even Egalitarian Ed and his gang were being casually racist when they dreamed up the doomed policy.
Quite apart from raising the spectre of the bad old days of union-wrought double-manning on the docks and regardless of the fact that an enforced apprenticeship is likely to be a very low value offering, there is a ma-hoosive elephant in this room. No matter how bloody multiculturally sensitive you like to think you are. No matter how many times you recite the mantra “Diversity is good; I know it is”. No matter how colour/gender/race-blind you are there IS such a thing as the wrong type of migrant and you damned well know it.
The right type of immigrant is somebody who, whether for a short term contract or for keeps, is happy to play by our rules. He or she speaks capable enough English for the job and quickly acquires more; and the longer they stay the more ‘British’ they become. They have skills we need and their presence in these islands enriches us. We’ve always had that and few would argue that it’s not a good thing.
But there’s also such a thing as a bad immigrant and once again you all know this. A bad immigrant is one who comes here under, say, a false asylum claim and then disappears between the cracks to work below British cultural and workplace norms. Or else he or she is an out and out criminal, coming here to beg and steal from our citizens and then using our own tolerance against us, resisting deportation for decades. Or they may be legally imported en masse to work like slaves for gangmasters who charge for their keep and accommodate them in what are, effectively, work camps.
And we really should not be importing unskilled labour. The tiny taxes they may pay from their sub-minimum wages can never – even under Labournomics – begin to justify the enormous cost of maintaining a workless underclass of home-grown slackers, especially when you factor in the infrastructure costs of housing, healthcare, public services, etc.
And the burden is not shared equally. Ed Miliband was right to talk about the barrier that separates our nation in two, the invisible divide between north and south whereby one part of the country prospers and gains from the benefits of immigration while the other half is blighted by it. But it’s worse even than that. Many migrants don’t look like us, don’t act like us and yes, they are culturally incompatible with us. Some of them have been here for generations and still have made no effort to acquire the language or the cultural skills necessary to integrate; and tolerance for their presence is growing weaker. It's a sad truth that, after all these years, still nobody trusts a Scouser.
Resisting integration since time immemorial
Thursday, 26 September 2013
In a jungle in Borneo a bird of paradise struts and puffs himself out to twice his actual bulk and dances to attract a mate. He grows an extra-long tail feather, develops bright throat flashes and crests and generally preens and pouts until he gets himself laid. He doesn’t know why, he just knows he has to do it; the unthinking drive to procreate. Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene posits that it is not the bird, the tiger, the human that is the purpose of life but the simple duplication of the gene itself, which has no other behaviour than replication and occasional mutation.
Evolution by natural selection of more favourable mutations is an elegant process and discounting the hogwash of the Intelligent Designers it is a demonstrable truth. Until somebody actually proves the existence of a higher being the sanest notion is that there isn’t one. Such a shame that billions of people feel such a need to believe in something ‘better’ that they set about killing each other in its name. But hey, fuck ‘em; they’re wrong.
From single-celled slime to air-breathing fish, to shrews to apes and on to man, here we stand, erect and proud and yet still obsessed, above all else, with procreation. That’s your genes working you there; working you like Geppetto worked Pinocchio before he got his wish. Working you like Shari Lewis worked Lamb Chop. Like Len McCluskey works Ed Miliband… You get the picture.
Is there such a thing as Intelligent Evolution? Who knows, but among all the species on earth one of them keeps trying to better Darwin. While the natural order is that the weak go to the wall, some strains of mankind like to tidy that process up a bit and eradicate whole tribes of undesirables, usually in the name of religion, which is kind of ironic if you think about it.
But why can’t we all live together in peace and harmony, you ask? Simple really, because somebody, somewhere is developing an extra-long tail feather, that’s why. You try and impose equality and pretty soon you realise that no matter how hard one strives to be mediocre some are genuinely more equal than others. The dangerous ones are those who believe their extra-equal qualities must be used to the benefit of mankind and instead of simply getting on and getting individually wealthy, decide to tinker with the whole of society.
Thus making something that people want and selling it at a profit makes you a scheming capitalist devil. The pursuit of individual excellence makes you a selfish non-contributor, doing what comes naturally and putting your own family first makes you a pariah. And employing simpler people on a lower wage than you take for yourself is the very epitome of the profit-seeking evil that lurks in your dark heart.
No, the evolved socialist will have no truck with that. For the furtherance of humanity all must be controlled by the few who know best. So to hell with the nuclear family and to hell with property ownership. Damn you patriotism and nationalism and begone you nasty, grasping individual. Together we will build a better way. Together we are strong. Together we go forward into the bright new future; comrades all. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
So, we dilute the indigenous population to drown out the natural protest. We create entire new industries in diversity, multiculturalism, social services and ‘wellbeing’. We police it all with a legion of hysterical watchmen covering racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, invalidism and general bigotry and we make having an aversion to anything and expressing an opinion of it into a hate crime and prosecute accordingly. To bring peace and stability, say the socialists, we must create division and fear; it’s for their own good. It’s Intelligent Evolution.
But still there’s the yearning to have that edge; to find a mate. And the genes show their hands. Union bosses earning a packet yet living in subsidised social housing. Various ‘Czars’ paid handsomely by the state to do very little, if anything about things that can’t be solved by diktat. Armies of lawyers making a living from the engulfing tidal wave of new ways to become – or not become – a convicted criminal. Wasteful councils building shiny new offices, retiring their executives early, then buying them back as ‘consultants’. The list of niche opportunities for the ‘more-equal’ goes on and on.
It’s a funny old thing, evolution. Some species thrive and some don’t survive. Some develop ever stronger while others dwindle and become extinct. The only thing that drives it all is hanging around long enough to reproduce. The more you do that the bigger you win and some of the longest surviving species on earth are the parasites – they make a living entirely off the efforts of others, adapting as necessary to continue the feast.
Socialism, in a nutshell
Thus New Labour – the Tory-lite concoction of Blair and chums after a brief flare of colour retreats to the margins and the über parasite reverts back to Old Labour, the most successful survivor of western politics. It’s not who is better who wins, it’s just who wins. But evolution can surely do better than this?
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
My blog is late today because I have been practising how it will be under an open and avowedly socialist Labour government. Tony Blair largely left the workings of business alone while he concentrated on eradicating Britishness. Under cover of the apparent wealth of the country he declared we were all racists and used our shame to snip away at the stiches holding our social fabric together. While people thought it could only get better, the malign forces of common purpose slowly eroded our resolve, so now we have little fight left and soon we will be outnumbered.
But now it’s Old Labour’s turn again. As I listened, aghast, at Miliband’s rabble-rousing medley of maudlin sentiment and undisguised, vitriolic hatred of (boo!) the nasty Tories, I could feel myself getting poorer by the minute. The news media like to portray a ‘lurch’ to the right; yesterday I saw a sickly limp to the left. While Red Ed’s words said “land of hope and glory” I could only picture the seventies; Land of no hope; and gory. The dead unburied, rubbish blocking the streets, the lights going out night after night and strike after strike after strike. Surely Britain can do better than this?
No wonder Len McCluskey was so pleased with himself; he worked his puppet like a master and had him strut the stage like an evil little pixie. Rubbing his hands with glee, Len was looking forward to a winter or two of discontent to fatten his little lambs in Unite. And when the lights go out this time it will be far worse than back then. Every waking moment of your life is now dependent on technology in a way it simply wasn’t in the seventies.
In that blighted age – blighted by Labour - people generally lived within walking distance of work. They had land telephone lines and corded telephones that could still function without a base station. Nobody ordered their life around a smart phone and only giant corporations had computers. Open fires could be lit to heat your home and families could actually sit together, in the main, without too much strife, huddled together for warmth. There was little on the telly so that loss could be endured and there was no such thing as the Internet to be deprived of. Instead, people could and did read and could do so by candlelight if needed.Children didn’t need an iPad to do their homework.
Without electricity today you are fucked. NOTHING will work. No transport, no communication, no heating (your electronically controlled gas boiler will be dead too). No music, no YouTube, no Facebook, no Twitter, no games. Just imagine going around your home and workplace and quite literally, switching every single thing off. Commerce gone in an instant. No lights, no tills, no security cameras. No security cameras? How soon before the looting classes get wise to that?
And that is just one prospect. The share prices of Centrica and SSE dropped by 3% this morning and spokesmen have already outlined what this might mean. If investors pull out and prices are capped, businesses may fail or move; what value the price freeze if there’s nobody left to supply? Fewer businesses means less competition and ultimately monopoly and we all know what that does to prices. Coupled with yet more green taxes, Ed’s promise of a price freeze is virtually guaranteed to drive prices steeply up in anticipation of the possibility. In other words Ed’s undeliverable promise will drive fuel prices up right now.
Many others have commented today on the new Old Labour, most of the prognoses are gloomy, but to the unthinking greed of socialist minds it all sounds so horribly good. Doubleplusgood. Not one of Labour’s new offerings stands to scrutiny and some of them are borderline stupid. Votes for sixteen year olds, why not? Why not? Because they are fucking sixteen! And with the election two years away this means that Labour will be intent on grooming today’s fourteen year olds. Will social workers soon be saying “Can you show me on the doll where he ‘canvassed’ you?”
Anyway, there is one shonky policy that won’t be needed. Ed wants to build hundreds of thousands of new houses whether the land owners want to or not. But the shortage of housing will actually solve itself. If Labour get into power in 2015 anybody who is able will simply emigrate. I intend to. And Britain will become a Socialist Labour bastion with the population it always wanted. State slavery, corruption, dependence and utterly multicultural (which is no culture at all). Can’t Britain do better than this?
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
This blog is so much easier to write than usual. Usually I have to do at least a little in the way of research before adding my own flights of fantasy finishing touches but today, none of that is required. No, siree Bob, I’m going to take a leaf out of the master’s book of proselytising and do what Ed Balls did yesterday at the Labour conference; I’m just going to wing it. At least that’s what it looked like because surely his wild-eyed pronouncements had little basis in provable fact.
Politicians really shouldn’t try comedy. He cracked a gag about David Cameron having a tiny cock which drew uneasy laughter from the floor. Having hitherto supported the HS2 project he suggested, to the other Ed’s discomfort that this had been a joke all along. But in a masterly bait-and-switch operation he rescued the gig with this hilarious finishing line; in US presidential electioneering mode he acknowledged "my friend, our leader, Britain’s next Prime Minister, Ed Miliband!" How they all laughed! (Although, to be fair, I’m never sure with Gromit – he does his best, but his best looks like he just bit into a lime.)
The rest of Ed Balls’ set was a series of throwaway lines about all the things he was going to buy and throw away with all the money he doesn’t have and can’t raise to try and buy the votes of people who don’t know who he is and can’t pronounce his name or, as yet, don’t even live here. Both the Eds, however, have played their general election pledge cards close to their chest so, as they won’t do it, I’m going to write their 2015 election manifesto for them. It will be just as factually based as the real thing. Here goes.
Yes, a free child for everybody! We don’t care. Free at the point of abuse, your new child (colours vary from advertised) will be delivered to your door whether you want one or not. You will then have an immediate follow-up visit from The Social who will take the child back into care. That way you can have all the benefits of socialist family policy without actually receiving any benefit from or for the child itself. We will use the huge amount of money saved for our flagship homebuilding policy.
Homes for all
Everybody should have a place of their own; somewhere they can call home. And as everybody needs to also be mobile to find work we will ensure every native Briton has transport as well. Sod HS2, under Labour every woman, every man will join the caravan of love as we combine the two and provide every British family with their own motor home. And trust us you’ll need one in order to join the mass exodus from Albion as we flood the country with immigrants who are essential if we are going to build all the new houses we need to accommodate them.
Our NHS is the envy of the world. Really, they’re green as hell with it out there in Bongo Bongo Land. It’s free, it’s expensive and therefore good and its one of the last sticks we have left to beat the Tories with. So, we’re making it not only free but truly universal. For instance, as part of our reform we are going to remove the stigma from mums who face a loss of benefits if they refuse the MMR jab. That policy will not go ahead; instead we will just make MMR compulsory. Why should you have the agony of choosing when you can just have socialism instead?
Feeding the nation
Swans. Henceforth the Queen’s privilege will extend to the nation and we will all dine on swan. At least until they are extinct, whereupon we will re-designate geese as swans. When they run out it will be chicken-swan then pigeon-swan, etc until finally the scourge of the swan will be a distant memory. Food for all, comrades, wherever you can find it.
Money will be banned. According to shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne, to salvage the Coalition's welfare reform Labour has launched a "Universal Credit Rescue Committee". This committee will propose the phasing out of money in favour of a voucher scheme. After all, once the means of production is notionally back in the hands of the workers, who we simply don’t trust to be fair, everybody will be made equal by diktat. In fact, sod the vouchers; you can just collect your handouts from the government depots. Who says we’re anti-British? The British LOVE queuing!
We have many similar policies of course and yes, one day you will all get your hover boots, but for now rest easy that the wealth of the nation will be wisely husbanded by the party that brought you multiculturalism, mass immigration, health and safety, political correctness and tax & spend – for most of which we have apologised. Remember New Labour, No Danger.
Monday, 23 September 2013
Once upon a time there was a political party which gave a voice to the ordinary working man. Forged from the struggle for recognition of men who worked with their hands, they called themselves the Labour Party, then looked on what they had done and saw that it was good. And for a short while it was.
Last Friday night I went to see northern musical visionary Bill Nelson in a small intimate gig in Wakefield. The venue was an old warehouse on the riverside. Cast iron pillars and beams, hefty timber joists from a bygone age the hall itself was evocative of a simpler era; the era of toil and yes, labour.
As a prelude to the gig we were shown an unfinished biographical film of Bill’s early life, growing up in the nineteen-fifties; black and white photos and occasional cine clips showing a world long gone. The simple pleasures of sitting on a beach with a real family, eating ice cream for a treat and skipping innocently down a cobbled street without having to mug (in either sense) for the camera. It was a glimpse of the last time Labour had a purpose.
But today’s Labour Party is a spent force. As they struggle this week to launch an incoherent set of policies – driven more by the mere fact of conference than by any considered outcomes - their time would be better spent in working out how to quietly disappear from the lives they have blighted with their self-proclaimed goodness.
The big talking point right now seems to be the so-called black hole in Labour’s spending plans. Ed Balls was on the radio this morning, invoking the romance of the workers’ struggle of the nineteenth century, seemingly unaware that as a result of the very socialism he seeks to bolster, those who actually work for a living and yet still vote Labour are a dwindling band.
Well, don’t panic Ed, I have solutions. Here is how you pay for and retain your client base; or should we call voters customers these days?
Given the success of Labour’s “education, edyoocation, edukashan” policy, why bother? Save an absolute fortune and have school places in abundance by simply not bothering to even pretend to educate the offspring of the untermensch. They’ll learn some form of speech anyway but given that they rarely acquire literacy and will never have a use for it, what’s the point of all the expense?
Then suddenly there is no need for costly childcare either – the kids simply stay in the herd with their mothers. Fence off the sink estates, create mass employment for security staff and limit healthcare provision to disposal services only. No need for targeted child benefit either; inside the fences they’ll breed just like they do now without any financial incentive. They can be fed by firing weekly food parcels into the compound and kept docile by piping in 24-hour Jeremy Kyle, porn and booze. Skunk they’ll manufacture themselves; it’s one of the few skills they’re born with.
Soon every unthinking Labour voter will be removed from wider society where they can no longer cause harm and the Labour Party itself can get on with what it does best – keeping the poor and sick and stupid just the way they like them; poor and sick and stupid. No longer will Labour be able to use the poor as political human shields in the war against aspiration; when they see them up close and personal they will abandon their calls for equality and devote all their energies to keeping the fuckers from getting out.
Bill Nelson was born in 1948 - Labour's glory years under their most revered Prime Minister - a world of black and white, right and wrong and simple pleasures. Over the years he has embraced the future, mastered the new technologies and moved with the times; his music is as fresh today as when he first picked up a guitar. The Labour Party, on the other hand, is entrenched in that distant, Marxist past. It's time to leave the stage to parties of progress.
At least my way Labour could finally fulfil its natural calling – to exercise total control of their one folk, their one nation, under their own, revered leader. One nation under a goon...
Friday, 20 September 2013
So, enough of the Lib Dems, yesterday I had my own conference pilgrimage which by the same twisty turns of fate I combined with having my car serviced and certified in a city many miles from where I now live. It seemed a good idea at the time…
The journey began when I left Leeds just before 0600, to drop off my car two hours later on the outskirts of Birmingham. (Don’t ask, you don’t need to know) Divested of my iron horse, I trekked to New Street station, now being confusingly remodelled, to catch a train to Coventry, take another trans-city Shanks’s Pony ride and finally a bus to the Ricoh Stadium, all of which steps would be retraced later in the day. Why, you ask? Read on…
Just as political activists periodically like to come together to sell each other stuff and promulgate ideas and theories they don’t want, don’t need and can’t work with, we simple sons of toil wisely like to do, er, likewise. And the annual autumn Elex Hajj is where electricians get to shamble aimlessly around in circles, muttering under their breath, bound together by a common faith - that one day we will see the light and finally admit we already have enough tools.
The aim of the game is, of course – once you’ve proff’d the free bacon butty and oversized show tee-shirt – to bimble along from stall to stall collecting free stuff. All you have to do is listen to the odd sales pitch and maybe occasionally give away all your bank details... or sign your firstborn into indentured slavery. The winner is the individual or team that comes away with the greatest number of carrier bags – they’ll come in handy for Tesco when the bag tax starts – and the best goodie-to-literature ratio.
The ratio is important because to get to the rewards you have to survive the propaganda. “Join us and we’ll help build your business to gargantuan proportions.” And “Buy this and it will save you literally fifteen minutes each and every one of the three times a year you might remember to use it.” Or “Hey, give me money and you can have a free pen!” All sparky life is here; vans, stowage, tools, tricks, gimmicks, gewgaws and gadgets galore.
And then there are the seminars! Because few electricians can read, the burden of unopened books with which they must equip themselves lies heavy on their hunched shoulders. So the great and the good perform the imam role of intoning the creed to the believers who bow their head before the mighty presence of such luminaries (Sparkies think that is spelled ‘luminaires’.) as Anthony Charles Cable – Tony “AC” Cable, the very face of electricking in the UK. He’s been on the telly you know!
One Cross to rule them all!
And then at the end of the day we are ejected, refreshed and recharged (see what I did there?) to spread the good word throughout the land. The gospel? Get your ‘lectrics checked by a proper, qualified electrician. How do you tell? Well unless he bears the sign of the cross and quotes you an eye-wateringly enormous fee, beware. Only the one, true spark should be allowed to light up your life.
Electricians – just another fucking bunch of politicians!
Thursday, 19 September 2013
Power corrupts, they say. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well Nick Clegg’s power is far from absolute but it appears it’s been a heady enough dose as to go right to his head. No wonder bitter old man Vince Cable went off on one on Monday. It seems the Cleggster is now taking credit for every little thing the coalition has achieved, to the extent that he also wants recognition for his obstruction of true progress.
There has been an appetite in the country for some cold hard truths and short, sharp shock spending reforms, which had they been introduced might have brought us further along the road to real recovery. But like every good socialist, Clegg doesn’t want recovery; he simply wants to bask in his own glory and impose the perverse ambitions of control and submission – the islam of politics – on the people of Britain.
The man who would be king? Despite disastrous personal poll ratings, despite the Limp Dems consistently lagging further and further behind UKIP, despite the Demics becoming even less unified under his leadership, Clegg is apparently labouring under a delusion that he is the true power behind the throne. In yesterday’s blog I compared him – I thought jokingly – to Ozymandias. But in his speech to conference, his bombastic, pompous Neil Kinnock impersonation suggests he either has a very good sense of humour or else he very much believes his own inner voice.
Pretending to care while all the time pursuing a course of action based purely on power politics… and then having the brass neck to admit it, smacks of nothing less than simple arrogance. If there’s one thing you could never formerly accuse the Lib-Dips of it was arrogance; if anything, standing for nothing very much as they do, the primary Dim Lamp characteristic should be apologetic. See what a tiny taste of power has done?
We’re lucky they are in coalition with the Conservatives; their natural enemy. Imagine how much destruction could be wrought should they ever get a chance to double up the fuckwittery by teaming with their parents, the party primarily to blame for bringing Britain to its knees? Empty promises, impotent policies and an abject failure to grasp some simple truths about human nature. If a new LibLab Pact comes about just remember it took the might of Maggie to end it and we shall not see her like again.
And don’t forget where all this is heading. While many Tories are healthily Eurosceptic and some of Labour's old guard are suspicious of the EU’s usurping of their traditional power base, The Damp Rags are unequivocally the party who would sell every last one of us into eternal slavery to the resurgent Bolsheviks of the EUSSR. Welcome to the Liberal Democrats – neither liberal, nor democratic – the true, new Nasty Party.
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
If you had the opportunity to rid the world of poverty at a stroke, would you do it? No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t do it because the only quick solution requires a drastic population reduction, it’s efficacy would be short-lived – a generation or so – and the stench would be dreadful. It’s something that has happened under most forms of heavy-handed state control and it has always appalled the sensibilities of the so-called ‘free world’.
So why are western governments so desperate to embrace a new statism, regulating everything from cradle to grave, creating chaos and discontent and generally treating their populations like unruly children who can’t be trusted to do a single thing for themselves?
And yet the one thing they won’t regulate is population, because in sheer numbers they see their raison d’etre - the more people we have, the more we need state control, goes their argument. The more seething and milling the masses, the greater the power of supposedly elected leaders – the greater the numbers of votes I command, booms Ozymandias, the greater the good I can do. And the earlier in life they can control the voters the more likely are those voters to vote for the system that keeps them poor. Humans may individually do great things, but collectively they really are very, very stupid.
I was born four years after rationing ended and my parents brought me up full of misplaced optimism and hope but they never once told me the world owed me a living. Accepting what assistance the state then gave was a mark of failure and something you strove to rise above because it was clear that if you always rely on the support of others you lose the ability to stand on your own. And when the world turns to shit you are all you have left.
So, just what ARE you going to do with ‘the poor’? Like the mice in the grain store, the poor will procreate as long as there is a living to be had. It’s an immutable law of human nature that the less gainfully occupied you are the more frequently you will breed. We used to have poor houses and work houses where sloth was punished and dignity was shed as the price for reliance; most poor people did their utmost to remain out of their clutches… but they didn’t have votes back then.
All of which explains the sheer cynicism of Nick Clegg’s free school meals pledge, extracted in exchange for ‘allowing’ a Conservative tax policy to be waved through. This has nothing to do with alleviating poverty; if anything it will exacerbate it. It is all, as always, to do with acquiring power. We have given up trying to upskill our dumbed-down population and instead reverted to just buying their votes from an earlier age – their earliest memories will be of the state feeding them and weaning them off that teat will eventually become an effort of political will too far.
So, if you nowadays misguidedly raise your kids to be self-reliant, to do a good day’s work, better themselves and enter the workforce as a contributor, not a taker, you are consigning them to a life of drudgery in order to pay for those who have taken the socialist shilling. As a parent how can you countenance that? It’s tantamount to child abuse.
And when the wealth creators cash in their capital, sell their ageing plant to foreign asset strippers and leave these shores, the weak will still go to the wall; they always do. The poor will always be with us and when they are in the majority our society will have failed. And what worth your ‘power’ then, Mr Clegg?
Free school meals for all? What harm could that do?
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
In the good old, bad old days, Bradford used to be a joke. It was seen as an aberration, not a prototype. We could tell gags about its imported alien culture because we were British and that’s what the British are renowned for. Unaware of words like ‘sharia’ and ‘taqiyya’ the very differentness was ripe for ridicule; now nothing is funny any more. And 'gag' has become a far more appropriate word than 'joke'.
In the great British scheme of things banning isn’t the natural instinct of we liberal (small ‘l’) residents of this formerly happy island yet during the recent reign of the ‘nice’ party the pace of proscription was frightening. So many things are now illegal that you’d think a burka ban would be simply nodded through, but no. No because religious sensitivity – only toward one particular religion, you understand – is a sacred cow. (Are we still allowed to say ‘cow’? It’s always best to check.)
In a world where you can be criminalised for offending somebody you have never met; for mere words which are simple statements of fact or perception; in a world where you must take care that your very existence is not cause for effrontery and people have been jailed for cracking an obvious joke, there is a sector of society which, even as their adherents kill and maim and rape is off-limits. It’s like the kid at school who never gets properly sanctioned because his father is a violent thug and teachers fear for their lives.
Outside Westminster yesterday the press gave air time once again to the burka ninja – with her cardboard signs, with her silent, sack-wearing sisters at her side, she spewed out her well-rehearsed but ill-thought-through rant. Breaking her English-born accent every now and then to break into guttural fake Arabic to pronounce words like kia-ora-an and to render burka as bu-ur-qu’a (for comic effect, presumably) she railed on about empowerment. She claimed that muslim women came to Britain to contribute and to show British women how to live. You want to contribute to an islamic world? Try Saudi Arabia, darling…
At the same time Anjem “Andy” Choudary, the former unstoned apostate now turned islamic nutjob preacher, spent the day tweeting from his iPhone such short-form homilies as “One day the UK will be ruled by Shari'ah law, then ALL women will be obliged to cover themselves properly & Judges will judge by divine law!” Nice to see we still have enough of a sense of humour to pay his smartphone bill.
Their women want to remain covered, cowed and controlled? Fine by me. These people and this behaviour are offensive and intimidating to a majority but the law won’t act; after all, it’s only non-muslims who are being offended. But there are some places and parts of society to which unidentified people really should not be allowed for the sake of others, their sensitivity and their safety:
Border Control. Driving test. Actually driving. Court appearances. Interviews. Welfare claims. Any work which involves customer contact. Staff or students at schools and colleges. Children’s playgrounds. Banks. Shops. These are all places where a covered face is at best uncomfortable for others and at worse pose a perceived if not an actual threat. Given that perception of offense is enough to charge a non-muslim with some sort of hate crime, there is ample precedent to implement not a ban, but simply enforcement of the same rules the rest of us already follow.
For the female and feminist perspective there is this considered view from Sarah Wollaston in the Daily Telegraph where she states, “Campaigners insist that the niqab is 'empowering' for women. Only in the same way perhaps as an invisibility cloak but if that is the case why is it not worn by men? Such nonsense hides the reality that in cultures where it is not a choice but a compulsion, women have no meaningful power whatever.” (By the way, the poll on that page has been hijacked by the islams – earlier in the day there was overwhelming support for choice.)
For those clinging onto libertarian leanings you might just remember that islam means, quite literally, submission. Put the boot on the other foot and the word you’re seeking is oppression. In plenty of actual muslim countries a simple headscarf is considered adequate – the burka is not a religious requirement any more than wearing a cross is mandatory for christians. This issue is being used as a divide and conquer strategy for those who are openly hostile to our hard-won freedoms (such as they remain). The fact that Judge Peter Murphy’s pronouncement on the burka-in-court case is a half-hearted compromise shows they are winning.
Monday, 16 September 2013
I’m sure few well-adjusted people with a normally functioning sense of right and wrong will not have given a quiet – or not so quiet – cheer that four of the men charged with the Delhi rapes that shocked the world have been handed the ultimate suspended sentence. Justice done, now move along, there’s nothing more to see and India moves a step closer to recognising the rights of women. Yay!
But wait. It turns out that only two executions have been carried out in India since 2004 despite around one hundred death sentences being handed out in a typical year. In other words, well, it’s just words. Many lawyers will get rich on the appeals and the guilty men will simply languish, forgotten, in jail. At least a fifth man did the decent thing and hanged himself in his cell during the trial; maybe there’s hope that the prison system will have the means to bring about what the courts almost certainly have only played lip service to.
And India is the loser, as it plods along the inevitable road to resembling a modern, ‘progressive’ state, shedding itself of decisiveness and strength and adopts the typical hand-wringing postures of the liberal west. Even as rape begins to be taken seriously, it divests itself of the will to take effective action against it. Welcome to the mealy-mouthings of socialism, Mother India and get ready to grapple daily with the conundrums of doublethink.
How, for instance, do you deliver ‘social justice’ without creating a client constituency ever more dependent on what is effectively state enforced charity? How can you effectively tackle crime when you know who did it but you have to balance up the socio-ethnic quotas by criminalising the victims instead? And how do you raise academic achievement while simultaneously maintaining the lie of equality?
The price, it seems, of acceptance to the top table is to lie down, roll over and have your tummy tickled by Uncle Karl. No more strong leadership – if Nick Clegg has his way we will have toothless coalitions for ever. No more aspirational world rankings – when John Lennon’s vision comes about we will all have an equal amount of rice to eat. No more nationalities – when the great bubbling stew pot of humanity finally blends into one giant indistinguishable mocha there will be no will left for individualism.
Is that what ‘they’ [who?] want? Is that really the final solution? Solve inequality by outlawing betterment? Solve the burka issue by making everybody wear one? Solve party politics by having only one party? Solve choice by having no choice? That’s what it looks like from where I'm sitting.
But people are fighting back, after all. All over Europe the response to an amorphous and lumbering one-size-fits-all administration is the rise of nationalism. In so-called ‘austerity’ Britain people are rejecting the disastrous borrow and spend plans of Miliband’s morons. And even the criminals, incensed at the breakdown in effective justice are doing their bit to help by, when released on bail, reoffending at an average rate of a crime every ten minutes.
So, there’s hope for us yet…
Friday, 13 September 2013
It has been a charge levelled at graduates for as long as I can remember, that they turn up with all the gear but no idea, lacking what was once considered a pre-requisite for a useful working life – common sense. Long considered to reside in those with less lofty aspirations, the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff and get down to business is nothing more than habits acquired by experience to cut the crap and get on with the job. Given that child-centred education has for so many years mitigated against anybody taking personal responsibility for anything at all it’s little wonder that, once again, employers are bemoaning the quality of graduates, even as the so-called experts are tinkering around with what they collectively call ‘life skills’ and we used to call simply ‘living’.
There is no future in just doing a good job any more, it seems. No wonder bright youngsters are drawn to nebulous ‘consultancy’ jobs where instead of getting their hands dirty they can simply tell others from the safety of a remote desk how they should get their hands dirty. Instead of toting dat barge they can charge far more for spending their hours locked away in ivory towers drafting learned reports on how the colour of dat barge can synergise more intuitive outcomes and enhance life chances. Meanwhile dat barge remains untoted.
With unwavering certainty and against the evidence of experience and yes, common sense, the expert tells us mere mortals that diversity improves everybody’s lives, that the solution to overspending on welfare is to spend more on welfare and that important ‘life skills’ can be taught by ideology-stuffed young teachers who have yet to leave school themselves. Wielding teetering stacks of research papers, drafted in isolation and with no input from their subjects the theorists banish common sense to the status of misinformed, knee-jerk and counter-productive reaction.
And worse, those elected to lead us, lacking any coal face experience themselves, actually listen to these self-proclaimed, self-obsessed experts and simply zone out the rising hubbub of those who will have to live in their brave new world. In response to the common sense voices from the shop floor the experts hold their unstable high ground and sneeringly tell us that common sense is too simplistic, outmoded and represents a bigoted point of view. The future is bright, the future is expert and all the narrow-minded ‘common-sensers’ are no better than, humanophobic Luddites.
It doesn’t even matter that in the long term almost every ‘expert’ proclamation on social engineering is eventually proved wrong – sod common sense, let’s try it anyway - after all, it’s just another generation fucked over and there’s always be another one to experiment on.
Which brings me on to a current expert theory about early years education. Not content with simply not bothering to teach pupils the boring basics of reading, ‘riting and ‘rtihmetic the edu-alchemists are now saying we shouldn’t even start not-educating them until age seven. As Toby Young argues in his excellent article, this is driven by the usual Marxist meddlers and will produce a new generation of illiterates the like of which would have Victorian schoolteachers burning their mortar boards.
Toby’s argument (and you should read it in full) is so obviously correct that it will have lefties spitting into their frothy mocha-choco-lattés at the indignity and the effrontery of the bigoted bloody common-sensers and their damnedly un-nuanced reduction of a complex problem to a clumsy cause and effect analysis, which may have made the Victorians into the most advanced nation on the planet but will be inadequate in our glittering multi-faceted bright orange future… where many kids will nevertheless still leave school unable to read.
But for what possible purpose can those on the left want to turn out yet another batch of entitlement-obsessed, unemployable welfare fodder? Why would they even dare to propose more of the sort of social changes that have reduced a once effective, if not entirely satisfied society to one where even fewer have a chance of getting on? Why would they as they so caringly put it, rub our noses in it? For our benefit? Really? Whatever their deluded common purpose – and it’s by no means certain what that purpose really is - it defies common sense.
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Love it or loathe it there is nothing quite like the sound of a Harley Davidson; so much so that the Milwaukee manufacturer once attempted to obtain federal trademark protection for the syncopated chug of its idling V-twin. The classic bikes have long been derided as tractors by the sports bike fraternity but nobody with a soul can fail to be stirred by that low rumble and the guttural roar, the rebel yell when the throttles are opened. It’s a noise with a purpose; the soundtrack to America in motion. Poetry.
The people who ride these iron horses come from a proud tradition of self-reliance and shared identity which they regularly display in mass ride-outs throughout the summer. I saw many of these good-natured events during my time in the USA and mingled with a few and despite the ubiquitous skull insignia and the death and guts and glory imagery, a massed rally of American bikers feels more like a family gathering than anything else. If American bikers demand anything, they demand most of all to be left in peace to enjoy the freedom their nation was founded on.
Contrast that to the background noise of British society; the nasal whine of the eternally dissatisfied, most prominently identified by strident demands to ban things, restrict freedoms and label normal human feelings as wrong, wrong, wrong. The mosquito drone of the progressive – for which read, oppressive – is ever-present in Britain today and the regalia of its source, a drab, passive-aggressive coterie of inadequates, is an indistinct ensemble of sackcloth and ashes. The last thing these shambling shaman-worshippers want is freedom.
Yesterday, on the twelfth anniversary of the Twin Towers attack, the news media tried hard to ignore the two unofficial gatherings to mark the day but social media – as it does more and more these days – took the strain. In a jaw-dropping display of arrogance and an open declaration of aggression and invasion there had been a call by the American Muslim Political Action Committee for a “Million Muslim March” on Washington DC.
This is akin to loudly and violently protesting at the cenotaph on Armistice Day, or building prominent mosques in Christian lands as a deliberate act of provocation and then using the tolerance of the invaded against them. In accordance with the islamic tradition of taqiyya, of lying to the infidel, their event was renamed the “Million American March Against Fear” but the gauntlet had already been thrown down and picked up by the very people they have good reason to fear; ordinary Americans.
The counter to this outrageous insult was a call for a ride of “Two Million Bikers to D.C.” In the event the pitiful turn out for the islamist apologists was drowned out by the roar of the pipes on the hundreds of thousands of Hogs that descended on Washington DC to have their resistance recorded. The score? Free America 1, islamist invaders 0 and the allah-wallahs put back in their box.
The British equivalent, the
Maybe a Moped ride to Marylebone
Hooray, we cry, but were the same thing to be attempted in Britain, the police would arrest all the riders and impound and crush their bikes, while escorting the shrieking, strident, million burka march to beat down the doors of Westminster. If I ever make it out of England alive, I’m gonna get me a Harley.
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
A few years ago I encountered an attractive-sounding socio-political philosophy; Libertarianism. According to Wikipedia (Why not – you have to start somewhere.) “Libertarianism (Latin: liber, "free") is a set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end.”
Well, that sounds nice – and I’m not being sarcastic, it does sound nice – so nice, in fact that a great many people use this word Libertarian to describe themselves. I once flirted with the notion too, being a person who prefers as little interference in my life by others as is functionally possible. I've long thought we should be responsible for ourselves first and for others according to conscience and capability.
But Wikipedia continues: “Different schools of libertarianism disagree over whether the state should exist and, if it does, to what extent.” Now this seems to me to be a central plank of the whole thing. You either want a thing or you don’t – surely a political philosophy should agree on something as fundamental as whether you have a state or not? (A bit like the Labour Party having a clear stance on Union involvement, for instance, but best we leave that there for now.) For my part, a small state seems like a good thing.
It’s quite hard to organise something like national defence and foreign policy on purely local grounds, but I can see healthcare, policing, local services, food and water supplies and a criminal justice system operating reasonably successfully under provincial, even private control, although the borders will need some negotiation. So, all good then; a low tax, small state administration and the devil take the hindmost. No welfare, no free rides, every man for himself?
Not necessarily. The Wiki entry throws a spanner into the works:
So it’s just a matter of exactly how small the state is,then? But wait…
“While minarchists propose a state limited in scope to preventing aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud, anarchists advocate its complete elimination as a political system.”
So it’s just a matter of exactly how small the state is,then? But wait…
“While certain libertarian currents are supportive of capitalism and private property, such as in land and natural resources, others reject capitalism and private ownership of the means of production, instead advocating their common, collective or cooperative ownership and management.”
See my confusion? That's no help at all! It turns out that libertarians can be anywhere from Anarchist to Communist and support Capitalism or Socialism, or it would appear, any system on the continuum. But even if the extent of state responsibility could ever be agreed – and let’s face it, the last hundred years of British politics has failed to establish that little detail – what happens to a fiercely no-state libertarian who needs outside help? How does a commune-based libertarian society deal with an individual who refuses to contribute?
I’m sticking my neck on the block here but I don’t believe Libertarianism is a political philosophy at all. From a conversation on The Twitter last night, I guess the closest and most succinct elucidation I received was “Freedom and Do No Harm”. Freedom is pretty much yours to have if you live within your means and by doing no harm you should avoid unwanted intrusion into your liberties. But as for adopting the mantle of "Libertarian", It all seems a lot of fuss to go through just to say you’re a traditional British citizen… except for that ridiculous mask.
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
So it turns out that people in high office are not necessarily good at their jobs; who would have thought it? Unlike mere mortals the ‘punishment’ for failure at Portland Place appears to be banishment with a sizeable payoff and a pension that 99.9% of the population could only dream of. And better yet, they manage by a supreme mental contortion to cling to the belief that ‘they are worth it’.
At the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, ex BBC Director General, Mark Thompson brazenly insisted that the BBC actually saved money by sacking senior people on gargantuan redundancy terms and then expensively hiring successors. Meanwhile the TV-Tax payers have been blissfully unaware of any of this because few of these appointments have any impact on what we see on the telly-box. The hard work, as ever, is done by the grunts on normal wages.
Margaret Hodge, presiding over the festival of outright lies, backstabbing and bluster, summed up the day by referring to a culture of incompetence, lack of control and covering of backs. You could almost imagine a hard night at the shredders looming, disposing of evidence as quickly as they distribute the licence fee take among their friends. Because, make no mistake, this is public-owned industry and cronyism writ large.
While the senior executives of private companies live in fear of upsetting their shareholders, the shareholders of organisations leeching off public money – that’s you and me - have no say in how their billions are disposed of. But it’s okay, you see, because pissing it down the drain is, as Thompson asserts, a saving. This must be the same thinking behind ‘retiring’ senior local authority officials then hiring them straight back as consultants on twice the pay. Yes, I can see how that must cost much less…
In the same vein this also explains cancelling our aircraft carriers then reinstating them, spending billions developing but not adopting missile systems and of course inviting hundreds of thousands of unskilled labour to keep our breeding stock safely at home, watching daytime shows, ironically having their licence fee paid by those of us who have no time to watch television. Oh yes and paying foreign firms to plonk down windfarms wherever they wish with guaranteed returns courtesy of the dwindling number of people who continue to pay tax in Britain.
I can’t wait for the Labour Party Conference when we’ll learn – finally – about their policies to rebuild Britain. I’m sure they’ll take Mark Thompson’s wisdom to heart as they explain how doubling our borrowing will make the nation richer; how increasing unrestricted immigration will create jobs and wealth for all and how throwing more money at the NHS will make A&E even busier and therefore, by implication, more successful. It all makes sense when you stop struggling and learn to love BB, see?
Friday, 6 September 2013
“Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' Great hilarity in Battsby Towers as I wake to news of lefty fuckwittery on a grandiose scale. Such fun, as Frances O’Grady, the secret squirrel of the TUC (see picture) embarks on an endeavour ready-made to be mired in ridicule and doomed to abject humiliation. In a tacit admission of the total failure of socialism in Britain she last-resorts to invoking the spirit of Labour voters’ most hated and feared adversary, the sainted Maggie T.
In the Daily Mirror she is quoted as saying, “Ed Miliband has the potential to shape Britain on the scale Thatcher did.” Really, Frances? Maybe she hasn't noticed lately but Ed’s authority in his own party has been bumping along the bottom for some time and his standing in the rest of the country can best be summed up as “Who?”. Ed’s incumbency as – and I hesitate to use the word – leader, has been characterised by being not so much light on policy but devoid of policy; if his shadow cabinet doesn't appear to know what he stands for, what chance the electorate?
The last effective political act he carried out was stabbing his brother in the back and even that was manipulated entirely by the unions. His colleagues talk about what a very nice man he is; the political equivalent of not speaking ill of the dead. Ed’s potential? At the moment I doubt anybody would trust him to get the morning coffee order right. “They didn’t have your skinny-choco-café-latte, so I got, er… I did the right thing, the-the-the-the right thing... I got nothing.”
More detail can be read in the Daily Mail where her ‘warning’ of unrest and strikes is a thinly veiled call to arms – workers unite – nailing the TUC’s Marxist credentials firmly to the mast. Even as the recent OECD pronouncement predicts cautiously increased economic growth she wastes no time in saying people will (for which read ‘should’) “demand ‘their fair share of the rewards.”
Echoing Miliband’s and Ball’s own pronouncements she calls for full employment, decent and affordable homes and fair pay without a single mention of how this might be achieved. Presumably by a return to nineteen-sixties, big-state, nationalised socialism and 80% tax rates for anybody daring to be successful. All this she asks of poor Mr Ed at a time when the GMB has announced cutting its affiliation funding from £1.2million to £150,000 presumably because Ed is doing such a great job sticking up for their members.
TUC – give us all your nuts.
But don’t panic because in an ever changing world there are still rocks to cling on to and the time-honoured union leader “I’m all right Jack” mentality shows no sign of being eroded. The TUC’s £105,000 ‘golden goodbye’ to O’Grady’s predecessor, Brendan Barber, could happen again, she admitted. Ms O’Grady said the payout of one year’s pay was ‘custom and practice’ for TUC leaders, adding, “Who knows where we will be when I get to retire?” Better paid, I wonder? What was that saying about leopards and spots?
Thursday, 5 September 2013
I woke in a cold sweat. The night oozed black, like warm molasses and somebody was beating down my door. The door wasn’t alarmed, but I was. Sleeping in the office had become a habit but this was way out of office hours. In the dark I pulled on my pants, reached for my trusty forty-five and went to see who it was. It was a broad, the kind of a broad you went overseas for. For this much of a broad you'd need a passport. My jaw dropped, but she helped put it back in place. With her fist. "Shouldn’t we have the introductions first?" I asked. She hit me again. I thought I better invite her in.
Ah, happy days. Who hasn’t whiled away an afternoon, an evening, a flight maybe, with a good old potboiler? Thriller, mystery, crime, romance. Chandler, Sayers, Rankin, Cartland. And many, many more. The airport bookshop is stuffed full of accessible literature and when it comes to the novel, popular doesn’t have to mean poor. There are books and authors for all tastes, but as in all things there are also books and authors for a more rarified palate.
Struggling through Sartre as a teen and later getting to grips with Borges, then failing to do the same with Pynchon and Durrell the elder, I wondered why the most lauded writers had so often to be such hard work. Steinbeck won prizes with books that can be read and enjoyed by anybody; why is it so many awards are handed out to books written only to be examined? And what, you’re wondering, brought this on?
The news that a number of books by J D Salinger are to be published posthumously, that’s what. I have read Catcher in the Rye several times now, most recently just a handful of years ago. Maybe I should have first read it at fifteen but I came to it somewhat later and not by happy accident but prompted by the hype. I didn’t get it, or in the current parlance, I wasn’t feeling it. I felt nothing for the protagonist and struggled to find merit in the prose. So, I read it again and again until I discovered that I was right and everybody else was wrong.
The product of that other great recluse of the era, To Kill a Mockingbird, is still a favourite of mine and I came to that standard late, too. Scout Finch keeps me turning the page when Holden Caulfield makes me want to give up after the first few. Harper Lee is Steinbeck to Salinger’s Rushdie. Yes, I said Rushdie; in my world The Satanic Verses is an unreadable mess, accessible only to Man Booker Prize judges and the publicly pretentious. All those adults reading Harry Potter? At least they’re not pretending to understand something they don’t.
I grew up in a poorly read household and had to grope my way blindly around. I’ve read way more crap than I have high literature and while there are matters of taste and time, I have deduced, like any other form of art, there is also much trash posing as treasure and a lot of it is simply execrable rubbish sold to the elite on the grounds of pure snobbery. So, look, it is perfectly okay to find some ‘great’ works impenetrable junk. There, I said it.
2987 pages... On your marks, discuss.
With all this in mind, I invite you to form your own Unreadable Book Club. It has a simple format. You pick a book from a literature prize list and set a date for discussion. Then you meet up, spend ten minutes discussing how far you got and scratching your heads as to its message before adjourning to the pub and consigning the tome to the dustbin of your consciousness. Life’s too short, so put down that 'improving' volume and read something for pleasure instead.
Feel free to add your contender for most unreadable pile of crap in the comments box below!
Feel free to add your contender for most unreadable pile of crap in the comments box below!
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
So Jon Venables, the child killer of James Bulger has been released from prison. Again. The Telegraph newspaper reports that this will be the fourth new identity he has been given in an effort to keep him safe from reprisals but on every other occasion he has managed to breach the terms of his release in some way. The last time he was taken back into custody, three years ago, it was for child pornography offences, surely evidence enough that this is one unfixable individual.
What many will not understand is the regular attempts to deny the obvious; at thirty-one years old he is now fully formed. His character is set. He may express remorse, he may be able to fool teams of psychologists and criminologists but at his core he is one sick puppy who will probably never assimilate successfully. He will forever have to struggle to conceal his true identity and why should the public be potentially put at risk while he tries?
At the same time people who have otherwise lead useful lives are branded – sometimes on scant evidence - as criminals, serve time and are never again able to regain their former place in society. Genuine contrition for a lapse in judgement may count for nothing in a world now conditioned to condemn. Once you were considered to have served your time and allowed to start over, but now we seem to demand lifelong penance for the slightest slip up.
Woe betide you get labelled a sexist or racist, or end up on the sex offenders register because a scorned date cried rape, or a co-worker claimed harassment. No amount of pleading can remove those stains; society is not ready for your rehabilitation. We’d rather effectively pardon IRA murderers and their commanders, release violent criminals on parole to offend again, turn a blind eye to black-on-white hate crimes or spend decades ‘studying’ the Ian Bradys and Myra Hindleys and Jack the Rippers of the world.
Nobody’s interest is served by this. But wait; that’s exactly it. Society is not remotely interested in the minor issues of basically good people straying from the path. One strike and you’re out, matey boy; no second chances for you. No, the puerile public interest is far better piqued and more newspapers sold by pouring millions into the dysfunctional psyche rehabilitation industry. Better a reoffending psychopath making horror headlines than the plight of a truly contrite, skilled worker reduced to cleaning streets. It’s all about the narrative; it’s X-Factor for prison reformers, “It’s my life, it’s my dream – love me because I’m broken…”
Forget the even hand; atop the Old Bailey, blindfold Lady Justice has failed to notice the scales are weighted and it’s the party with the best story who gets the breaks. Nobody wants to read books about villains left forgotten and quietly kept away from the world. There is far more mileage in the rehab/reoffend/public outrage cycle than in any notion of what’s in society’s best interests. Mind you, it does partially explain the constant pardoning of that classic repeat offender - the Labour Party.
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Some of you may be aware I’m currently looking for work. Being self-employed for ten years the last thing I really want is full-time employment for ‘da man’ but it’s an option I would be foolish to overlook. So, yesterday, having knocked my ‘interesting’ CV into shape, I began the long haul trawl through various job sites. My god, what has happened to the world of work?
Years ago jobs had proper names, names that told you what people did; butcher, baker… candlestick maker. So much were people identified by their trades that many took them as their family name. Archer, Carpenter, Draper, Fletcher, Fuller, Hayward, Mercer, Prentis, Taverner, Taylor… class assembly used to sound like a recruitment fair. (I have no idea what a Patel does, or did… if recent reports are true it may mean ‘lives off the state’.)
But back to the search. Jobs no longer have real names or defined purpose. Many are mundane roles genetically modified to sound more important and less judgemental. Thus nobody is looking for plain old nurses any more but there are many jobs in the burgeoning ‘care’ sector all of which appear to require an arm’s length list of qualifications of dubious utility; how many courses do you have to go on to be capable of wiping arses, chatting and doing a spot of light housework?
The realm of sales recruitment is just as impenetrably worded as ever: “focus heavily on brand awareness and relish the opportunity to create a personal and positive customer experience” In sales the ‘opportunities’ are always ‘exciting’ and ‘dynamic’ and ‘interactive’ and ‘focused’, presumably in ways that say, Ice Road Trucker, is not, even if it’s a counter job at Debenhams. Actually, I do know why selling is so oversold; I shudder to recall the years of my life when I did myself irreparable mental harm trying to sell stuff; it’s basically lying to people’s faces every working day of your life. That has to take its toll – for years I suffered Post Traumatic Sales Disorder.
The gobbledegook language of sales and management speak has bled over into the most ordinary of jobs and our litigious culture has added further layers of box-ticking bullshit. No wonder the poor old indigenous young Brits can’t get a start when even the most ordinary job is described in incomprehensibly vacuous ways and requires a ‘skill set’ a multi-lingual rocket surgeon would be hard pressed to acquire. No wonder they are reduced to mailing out multiple CVs with no hope of a reply – they don’t even know what a ‘Petrol Colleague’ (Asda) might be, let alone know how to sell themselves as one.
The truth of the matter is simple; most jobs are utterly basic and can be performed by anybody with a bit of what we used to call gumption. There are few occupations out there where the knowledge and skills can’t be acquired quite quickly and fine-tuned over a relatively short period. But in our politically correct, equality and diversity monitored, qualification-centric world it seems everybody must jump through those flaming hoops.
The art of finding a job seems to no longer be matching your ability to an employer’s needs but negotiating your way through the minefield of ridiculous HR rhetoric. It’s easy to see why there appear to be more jobs advertised for recruitment consultants (just sales, really, but selling people) than any other.
Monday, 2 September 2013
Technology. It’s all around us and has been for centuries. The second the drooling man-ape picked up a rock we created technology. Once that damned wheel got invented it was the end of a peaceful existence for mankind. By the time the term ‘engineer’ was coined it was all beginning to get out of control and now it’s just gone too far! We have machines that make decisions, for heaven’s sake, something that the majority of humans are incapable of ever achieving with any degree of success. But it’s worse than that:
Take the smart phone. I’ve hated telephones since the days of Button A and Button B, when you had to recognise an incorporeal voice in seconds and make the appropriate choice. (I usually pressed B, got my pennies back and left the call box to walk around the block, getting my nerves up for another attempt. It’s not natural, I tell you.) I’ve had a mobile phone since the early nineties, although I hardly ever use it; I don’t like phones, remember?
Then, like a sheep, a couple of years ago I finally succumbed to the lure of the smart phone, but I’m beginning to wonder why. The marketeers tell you that you can control empires from its shiny screen, that it enhances your life immeasurably and makes the most lukewarm geek suddenly icy cool. Everybody’s best friend (well, second-best) is now a nerd, apparently. But I have no such nerd-counsel and I find myself staring at the thing, wondering what it is.
This all started when I was persuaded – against my better judgement – to download a keyboard app that my interlocutors were telling me would revolutionise my life. “But why?” I asked, “What will it do that the standard keyboard won’t do?” It’s just SO much better, they told me. Do it. An hour it took me and that was just to get the thing found, downloaded and installed. An hour I will never see again, after which said app proved to be an absolute horror; another thing to learn, for which I had no need. Which brings me to my thesis; how does any of this enhance my life?
I’m typing this piece on a full-sized keyboard while sitting in a comfortable chair at a desk. In front of me is a big screen at a convenient focussing distance and I have a mouse so I can quickly go back and correct that typo in the last paragraph. I can read almost a full A4 page in one view and I can freely cut and paste, spellcheck and look up words on any one of the dozen or so browser pages I also have open, courtesy of my fast broadband connection. Meantime I’m dipping into Twitter, listening to an internet radio station and checking my bank account. Why would I want to do any of that on a tiny fingerprint covered screen, squinting to see it in daylight and forever losing a data signal?
But, you can organise your whole life with a smartphone, they wail, practically rending their garments at what they see as my extreme Ludditity. You can keep everything on the cloud and never lose anything ever again; there is nothing, they say, that you can’t do on a smart phone. My response is, yes, maybe I can… but I don’t WANT to. I have books and a Kindle for reading, an iPod for music and both of them have a battery life of, effectively, forever. I have a computer for internet access and full-scale software applications and I have a television for, you know, watching television.
As for ‘organising my life’ I have an infallible way of keeping track of my activities past, present and future; it has random, high-speed access, multiple processing levels and is fully integrateable with all my other functions… it’s called a brain and it’s never switched off, never needs rebooting, needs no batteries and I already know how to use it. When that packs in I don’t believe even the most advanced smart phone will come close to replacing it.
I don’t even use my smart phone as a phone. For that I have a handy Nokia, which fits neatly and inconspicuously in my pocket and like my other dedicated tools has a battery life of several days. So, now the smartphone is out of contract, I guess I can cancel; I just don’t need it.
Not so smart now...
Before you mount an intervention consider this: If you put all your faith in technology where does that leave you when the lights go out? And if you still think it’s all sexy and ‘da bomb’ just remember that ‘they’ know where you are at all times, can check out your every interaction with the world and if the EU gets its way will soon be able to take control of your car automatically. How much longer before the machines take control of you altogether… like they have your kids? (Cue spooky music)