Wednesday, 25 August 2010
I have just been witness to one such master outside Sainsbury's. One of the local wino population, a middle aged Scottish gentleman (and why are they always Scottish? Are they born Scottish, or does the accent come with the job?) greeted someone using the cashpoint very warmly, shaking him by the hand and enquiring as to the gentleman's health.
You've no doubt realised that the design of the reverse side of our coins changed recently and when a collection of all denominations are placed together they make up the design of the Queen's coat of arms. This chap embarked on a tale of how he was a coin collector and only needed one coin to complete the collection of this design, and any assistance the gentleman at the cash point could offer in this venture would be warmly received, like pal.
When asked which coin it was he needed to complete his collection, the Scottish man did blot his copy book a little by admitting that he did not remember, but went on to recover by saying that any donation would be scrutinised to ensure that it was not a duplicate of a denomination already present in this collection, and that if it was, it would be passed on to a worthy cause.
The whole tableaux was set off nicely by the sight of his mate inspecting the dog ends dropped outside the door and giving a little shriek of delight when he discovered a filter cigarette that had only been half smoked which he proceeded to cannibalise into a roll-up made with a fag paper which was hopelessly wet.
Unknown, unshaven, slightly blurred around the edges, Caledonian numismatist, I doff my cap to you.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
This from Anna Raccoon is a wonderful piece of work, important, blood pressure raising and heartening in the response to it.
I've nothing to add to what Anna has written. Please do go and read it.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Don’t be offensive, OK? It isn’t worth the hassle. Don’t worry about what is offensive, and what isn’t, it’s not your place to make that judgement. Someone else will do that for you. You’ll probably never find out who that person is, or whatever it is that you have done which has offended them so, but hey, that’s your problem. Don’t produce anything offensive, don’t act in a manner likely to offend, and certainly don’t say anything which isn’t likely to offend, but causes offence anyway just because someone has decided they quite like the idea of taking offence at something trivial and fairly un-offensive.
One of the best places to find the professional offendee is in the public sector. Believe me, I work there, I know.
So it is not in the least bit surprising to find that North Norfolk District Council has pounced with the speed of a famished jaguar upon a display of artwork in its own offices which contains examples of . . .
. . . I hesitate to say it, it really is quite shocking. . .
. . . how best to put it without making you all fall into an unseemly swoon?
Ah yes, some of the paintings are of naked ladies.
Can you imagine? Have you ever heard of the like? Well, not surprisingly, this display has generated quite the controversy in the corridors of power.
Before the morning was out, the artwork had been taken down and packed up, ready to be returned to sender.
The reason, according to council leisure and cultural services manager Karl Read, was because there had been "a number of complaints from members of staff and union representatives who found the paintings offensive".
Let’s hope this doesn’t set a trend, it could be a worrying precedent for places like Florence’s Uffizi, I’m pretty sure that’s council owned. What would the future hold for Boticelli’s Birth of Venus?
Shockingly, the paintings weren’t torn down from the walls and thrown on a bonfire whilst the equality and diversity department shrieked curses of intolerance and exploitation at the conflagration. No, they’ve been put up in an art gallery. So they’ve gone from council offices where no-one will see them to an area where everyone can see them and be offended to such an extent that I wonder if the local ambulance service will be able to cope with the strain on their resources.
No matter, the important thing is that a ‘number’ of people (note that, not tens, dozens, scores or legions. One person is a number of people) found them offensive, so they have been removed.
Oh, hullo, what’s this I spy?
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Yes, that’s right it’s one rule for us and another for them. It’s not a problem with being offensive, it’s a problem with you being offensive. They can be as offensive as they like.
Council leaders have defended their use of swear words on posters in Sussex to try to tackle dog fouling.
Hastings Borough Council has urged residents to download the new posters from its website, which tell dog walkers to clear up after their pets.
One reads: "Oi! Have you got s**t for brains?" Another says: "Oi! We're not taking your s**t any more!"
Well to be frank, people that don’t clear up after their dogs couldn’t give a shit. This ad campaign will have zero effect. So when Kevin Boorman, says that:
the authority believed it was a "good campaign" and believed it would work.
It has the same effect on me as saying the council work boots department believe that leaving footwear in need of repair out on a work bench with needles and thread will result in the magic elves coming out at night and doing the job for them. It is wishful thinking, and some advertising exec who has no doubt been paid a handsome consultancy fee from the public purse is probably down the pub telling his advertising mates about the cringe inducingly poor campaign he got the council to swallow.
Needless to say there have been complaints that the campaign is offensive.
One resident, who did not want to be named, told the BBC: "They are horrible.
"What kind of impression does this give of the town? And for children - I don't want to be explaining to children why they can't use that word but it's ok to see it on posters."
And she has a point.
It doesn’t matter though, because it is their offence, so none has been called. Public bodies are incapable of making a mistake, it is your perception which is at fault, not their actions.
"The overwhelming support so far is for the campaign, not against it."Is it, is it really? I’ll bet the good townsfolk of Hastings are queuing around the block to shake the council officials by the hand and that those same officials can’t walk down the street without getting high fives or being given babies to kiss.
Give me strength.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
I'd rather see a full PR system in place, but one step at a time, eh?
Anyhow, this evening was the appointed time and as it was so close to home, I thought it would be churlish not to toddle along, although to be honest, I wasn't expecting much.
Well, what a pleasant surprise. A good turnout of almost two dozen people was pretty impressive for what is a small town on the back of the email equivalent of a cold call. Without wanting to get all New Labour, there was a very healthy cross section of ages, gender and, most importantly, political belief. It felt weird sitting there, agreeing with Labour and Green Party members.
We've all swapped email addresses and have agreed a provisional date for another meeting to organise some events, get to know each other a bit better and generally try and raise the profile of this issue.
It's an issue I think is very important. I have almost no common ground with a Green Party member, but if they, we as Libertarians and other small parties are to make any inroads into the political orthadoxy we have to persuade people that it is worth their while voting in the first place. We could have the best policies in the world (and I believe we do) but it won't matter a pair of dingo's kidneys if people turn round and say 'yeah, I like that, but there's no point, the Tories/Labour/Lib Dems have this seat sewn up.'
I'll disagree with pretty much everything else they say, but if I have to work with a Green Party member to ensure that both our parties get a decent chance of picking up the votes they have the right to, then I'll do it. Let's get a fair system in place first, the tribal ad-hominem attacks can wait for later.
Anyhow, to this end I've set up a blog for this group which is linked on the right, and a link to sign the petition if you've not done so already and would like to. If you live in the Canterbury and East Kent area and would like to more, keep a weather eye on the other blog, if all goes to plan there'll be details of events, meetings, rallies etc. You'll be more than welcome, it really is a very broad church. Hopefully I'll not be the only person burbling along over there, you'll be able to read other people's burblings as well.
Monday, 16 August 2010
One thing is for certain, now the smokers have been dealt with, it is time to paint at least one other group as the evil, murdering architects of society's downfall. Today it is the drinkers.
Children as young as five are contacting a charity helpline to talk about their parents drinking or using drugs.
Note the weasel words in there. Not about their parent or parents alcohol abuse or alcoholism, but just the act of drinking.
Of course there are parents that are alcoholic. Of course there are parents who are alcoholic who become abusive towards their partner. Of course there are parents who are alcoholic who become abusive towards their children. To pretend otherwise is stupid, blinkered and short-sighted.
Just go and read Inspector Gadget or Bystander. You'll see plenty of evidence that courts will accept a sob story of alcoholism as a mitigating factor. It's been an interesting tactic, stab someone who has broken into your house and is threatening you and yours and that mitigation will not hold as much water as the mitigation of 'it was the drink wot made me do it'. It would seem from the above that the tide is slowly turning, the victim is being turned into the perp.
I for one think that is a good thing, 'was pissed' is no defence. Alcohol cannot be a shield to hide behind. But, and here's the very big but, how many people who have a drink at any one time end up in court because they've acted like a clot? Very few.
Slowly, slowly the creep towards the denormalisation of drinkers has changed, almost inperceptably the pace has picked up, we're not in the final sprint towards the finish line yet, but the signs are there.
Notice how the act of drinking is up there with the use of drugs? Smokers were painted as drug users a long time ago. The same brush is being loaded with tar for the drinkers now.
How best to apply that tar? Well, getting the kids as soon they enter school and tell them how any act of drinking is something to be frowned upon. Next year's intake will be told how an act of drinking is to be objected to. The year after will be told how an act of drinking is something to be reported to nanny. Nanny will keep you safe.
I remember Childline being set up, I was a child myself when Esther and her teeth launched it way back when, I can still remember the jingle that advertised the phone number. As I remember, Childline was an independent service giving the kids the opportunity to speak to advisors on a range of subjects from sexual abuse to bullying.
I wasn't aware that one of the worst fake charities out there, the NSPCC, had taken it over. I suppose the Righteous have struck again, we can't have people helping without their say so and their all seeing guidance. Those people might make the wrong decisions. The Righteous are incapable of making mistakes. The Righteous are never wrong, the fault lies entirely with you.
Give the kids a bogeyman. Give the kids a friendly uncle or aunt to tell on the bogeyman. Give the kids a free method of doing it.
Give the kids a uniform, perhaps a badge for doing the right thing.
The drinkers still think it won't happen to them. They're going to very disappointed and very, very angry. But it won't matter, no one will listen to them. They are untermensch, after all.
I've just seen this over at Dick's.
I'll be Kevin Costner, you can be Sean Connery.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Osama Bin Laden's former cook and driver has been sentenced to 14 years in prison by a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal.
He must have a been a bloody terrible cook.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
I'm normally very hard on religion, or at least religious organisations, but on this occasion I'm going to cut a bloody huge length of slack.
I've been enjoying the series run by Channel 4 on a group of Amish teenagers who have been over in the UK on an activity which apparently plays a very important part in their culture. At first I thought this was going be another mawkish freak-show, but the Amish youngsters have been portrayed in a very good light, and I've found the series (the third episode of which was this evening) to be very thought provoking.
I think the point of the show, which is available on 4OD for those of you who may have missed it, is to give us an idea of how someone from an alien culture views our society. The Amish are ideal for this purpose, they speak English but are about as far removed from our culture as you can get without having to rely on people who spend their time ranting and raving on the street about demons whilst burning flags and throwing shoes at people.
But what has struck me has been the Amish themselves, rather than their views on us. They don't go into too much detail about the Amish, the usual, no electricity, no TV, big families, funny beards, horses, but nothing of any great substance.
What is clear is that here is a community which is completely at peace with itself. Crime is almost unheard of (barring one fairly major incident recently), the respect between neighbours is remarkable, and in the case of barn raising, it would seem the Amish really like their barns, the whole community will turn out to help out with the raising and have a bit of a party, as much as being Amish allows a party, to celebrate.
The kids are schooled within the community in their own schools, or at home. It is obvious they love one another and are completely devoted to their families. The result? From what I've seen of the kids on the TV show, educated, compassionate, friendly, honest and thoroughly decent people.
These are the sort of people you would love to have move in next door to you, they seem generous and willing to help, without knocking on the door every ten minutes and they certainly don't seem to pry into others' lives.
The one thing I do have an issue with is the whole religion thing. They set great store by the bible and their submission to God's will. I've no time for organised religion, I've stated before that if I were God, then those who claim to speak for me would be first in the line when my smiting trousers came back from the dry cleaners.
But that being said, whilst it is obvious that their faith is the single most important thing in their lives, there doesn't seem to be any desire to stamp their feet and demand rights or special treatment. You don't see Amish preaching on street corners or knocking on doors trying to convert people to their truth. Not once has one of the Amish youngsters been judgemental about those they have been staying with, and only once or twice expressed alarm or unease over what they have been exposed to, and that in voice over rather than on camera.
Their isolationism appears to give them a refreshing view of the world. They may not know who Marilyn Monroe or John F. Kennedy are, they may be completely divorced from the politics of the country they live in, but it just doesn't matter to them. They have their own community and leave everyone else alone.
I've often heard them described as being secretive. But I don't think that's fair, this sounds like a name to slight them, make them seem as 'other', don't trust them. They don't want to be around us. I've not seen anyone secretive, I've seen people happy to discuss their way of life and beliefs, they're just not about to scream and shout about it. They don't mind if we take an interest or not, it doesn't matter to them. They don't care about our way of life. They're not making a judgement on us, it just isn't important to them. All that is important is surrounding them.
As far as organised religion is concerned, the Amish faith is probably the least organised one I've seen. I don't mean they're some kind of bumbling amateurs, it just seems to me that the practice of the faith is left to the individual church, family even person.
And then the clincher, before the kids are baptised into the church, they are told to bugger off, see the world and decide if their baptism is really what they want. What other religion does that? Which other sect asks those about to be baptised, 'are you really sure this is for you?'
This sounds like the most Libertarian religion I've ever come across, existing in a community which displays many classic examples of Libertarian community living. Their habit of eschewing technology, alcohol and tobacco would drive me up the bloody wall, but from what I've seen the Amish have a very enviable life.
But of course, the Amish would point out very politely and gently, and only if I asked them their opinion, that envy is a sin.
Why is it so hard for these arseclowns to understand? Police are there to enforce the laws that exist, not to enforce those they wish to see on the statute. Doctors are there to cure people who are ill, not to ban us from doing anything that carries any risk at all.
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has condemned society's attitudes to food, alcohol and cigarettes.
If these two ever get together, there will be but two laws, the only thing we'll be allowed to do is sit quietly at a table, with our hands in full view. The second law will be that we wash those hands once every ten minutes.
Thankfully it'll never happen, they could never get on, the only thing more arrogant and authoritarian than a Doctor is a senior police officer.
The BBC have plenty of form here as well, the willing playground voice of nanny's decrees. Look at the photo on the article, the message is clear, smoke and your kids will get fat.
Just do your bloody job won't you? The one you are paid for, handsomely, where you don't have to work weekends and evenings, (even the police manage that), from money taken from us on pain of prison. Your job is to make people better. Do it.
Would the mechanic complain if he kept seeing the same person every week because they were habitually smacking the wing of the car against the gatepost? No. He'd be delighted. Because he relies on people coming to him for a living. Doctors get their money regardless. They make no connection between the taxes paid and the service given.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
This morning there is a story of the courts overturning a clear and present declaration of the will of the electorate, with a Federal Judge overturning the decision of the people of California to disallow same sex marriages.
This presents me with something of a conundrum. As a Libertarian I belive passionately that if two people decide they want to marry, then that is no-one's business but their's. I couldn't care less if these people are of a different or the same gender. It really is nothing to do with me. As long as both parties are content to enter into the marriage and are doing so of their own free will, then nobody else is being harmed, so there is no need for any scrutiny or permission from anyone else.
Indeed I would also say the same about bigamy, if a man or woman wishes to take two or more spouses, then as long as all the parties, existing and prospective, are aware and content, then I see no problem with this.
I was surprised that the people of California decided to reject the concept of same sex marriages. California has always had a reputation as one of the more tolerant states in the Union, but the decision to reject was made clearly by the electorate.
So now comes the conundrum.
Is it right for the electorate to dictate what two people can do with their lives when that decision has no influence on how other people live theirs? I believe not, the freedom of the individual is paramount.
Is it right that the Courts can then go in and overturn the decision of the electorate? I believe not, as a supporter of democracy, the will of 'the people' must be sovereign over the machinery of the State. That apparatus, in a democracy, is there to facilitate the will of 'the people'.
At the risk of sounding like an EU apparatchik, it would have been better had the people of California voted to accept the concept of same sex marriages. In my opinion, they made the 'wrong' decision. However, I have said on a number of previous occasions that in democracy there is no right or wrong decision, merely a decision you agree or do not agree with.
Unfortunately, it seems clear to me that the decision to reject by the people of California can only come down to two issues.
The first is bigotry, that somehow homosexuality is wrong, and despite the fact that the bigot has no intention of engaging in homosexuality, and will not be effected by the act being carried out by two people unconnected to them, they feel that they are in a moral position which requires them to prevent this sort of relationship being given any legitimacy.
This is likely to be underpinned in most cases by the second issue, that being religion. God says it is wrong, therefore we must prevent it. Never mind that should God exist, He is perfectly capable of making his own judgement and implementing his own sanction. Never mind that should God exist, 'His' word is without doubt the word of men who wrote on his behalf, in a rambling text which is contradictory both in content and the way that its adherents apply the lessons contained within.
I find it amazing that even now, this document is being used to determine the way people are permitted to live their lives, even if no hurt is being done to others.
It doesn't help me with my conundrum though. To promote the ignoring of the will of the people because they have come to a decision I do not agree with would make me as bad as those I rail against. To accept that the apparatus of the State can override the will of the people is a concept that I find repugnant, but do I find it as or more repugnant than the idea that the will of the people can prevent peaceful people leading their private lives, with no detriment to anyone else, as they wish?
I don't know.
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
The football club I've supported for the last 20+ years has today announced that it will not be competing in their league this year, the disappearance of the club as an entity is surely not far off.
A lovely club, supported by wonderful people, most of whom were volunteers, has vanished off the face of the Earth, leaving one of England's larger towns with no senior representation in the sport.
Some great memories, some bloody awful performances and many laughs has been ripped away by the avarice and selfishness of one or two individuals.
I am not easily given to hatred towards individuals, but I really do hope that one or two people develop a very painful, very embarrasing and very slowly terminal cancer.
I am truly very, very sad this afternoon. A pleasant and important part of my life has been taken from me. It may only be a game, and it may only be an obscure part of only a game, but it has been a wonderful and joyous contstant in my life. I shall miss it terribly.
The government is to get rid of 287 advertising and marketing jobs as part of its spending cuts programme.The usual caveat here. I am a public servant and may well hear the swoosh of the axe myself before long, but the simple facts are that we are broke, the government is too bloated and too fond of interfering. I really do sympathise with the people who are now staring down the barrel.
Staff numbers at the Central Office of Information (COI) will fall by two-fifths from 737 to 450.
The move follows a government freeze on "non-essential advertising", with the COI's budget estimated to have fallen by more than half.
Chief executive Mark Lund said the operation would become "leaner", but unions said they were "disappointed".
Staff are being offered the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy, although there are expected to be compulsory lay-offs.
It is hard to think of an area where this is more true than with government advertising.
The concept is an odd one, they take our money for a service, then spend more of our money telling us about the service they've taken our money to pay for. I would suggest that if they need to tell us about it, we don't need that service too much, otherwise we'd all be demanding to know where this service is.
Look at this one:
What's the message here? Don't eat crap, don't sit on your rapidly expanding arse all day long and you won't keel over at 40 after the Japanese harpoon you whilst you're walking down the street? Really? Is this vital information?
No, of course not. It is evidence of a government that just cannot help sticking its bloody nose in and trying to micro manage every aspect of our lives. We know this, and those that haven't made a connection between the tenth slice of chocolate cake and the small objects in perpetual orbit around their wobbling bulk are so stupid that the gene pool will not miss them all that much.
Let's have another, shall we?
Whoa! Hang on just a minute, do you mean to tell me that taking money I'm not entitled to is a crime, and if I commit a crime then I may end up in the land of the stripey sunshine? Has anyone told the MPs? There's also another favourite of the government in here as well, 'we're watching you'. A message you may remember from other government adverts like the one where your car is going to be crushed, because you've not given them money to piss away on advertising campaigns or when the TV licencing man calls round, because you've not given the BBC money to piss away on political and environmental indoctrination.
One last one:
Once again, stating the bleeding obvious. You can tell us all you like, the fact is that some twats (normally only a few years past the golden haired child who will be chasing the brightly coloured ball into the road) will always drive at 40mph at maximum revs down a street like the one pictured above because they are indeed twats, and couldn't care less. Browbeating the rest of us won't change this. A responsible driver doesn't need a speed limit (although I understand why they exist) on a road like this, because they will see the conditions and think to themselves, 'hmmmm, someone might step out here, best reduce my speed to minimise the risk of a collision if they do'.
Those that don't should have their licences taken away for driving like a clot.
And once again, another favourite of the government at the bottom. Telling us to be scared. No such thing as a safe road, best keep the kiddies inside.
Of course the problem with keeping the kiddies inside is that they can't move about like nanny says in the first advert.
Goverment advertising: Disjointed, stating the bleeding obvious, nannying, scaremongering, expensive and won't be missed at all.
Monday, 2 August 2010
You cannot do this.
Time and time and time and time again this message is ignored.
Two stories today.
Firstly the NUJ report that a photographer has again, amazingly, been threatened with arrest by the Met Police for taking photos in public, and was made, quite unlawfully, to delete the images she had taken.
How many times do they have to be told? You cannot do this. It is illegal. If a police officer is incapable of acting within the law, then he/she should be sacked. Possibly prosecuted. It is the one message that ACPO send out which is actually correct and desirable.
It may be irksome, it may be inconvenient. But you cannot prevent people from taking photographs in a public area, or arbitrarily destroy the images that have been taken just because you don't like it.
This is not how the police in a civilised, free society act.
I support the police, but fuck me, they make it difficult to justify that support sometimes.
Stupid, thoughtless and unilateral acts like this do nothing but stir up resentment and mistrust.
And if it isn't the police, it's the local council.
If you or I were to break the law, we'd be arrested and probably locked up. Well, that's not true, if we put a brick through someone's window, or knocked a granny off her electric buggy we'd suffer no penalty at all. If we didn't pay our council tax or TV licence, then it would be land of the stripy sunshine.
Is anyone going to lose their job over this? Anyone going to be locked up for a shocking episode of overbearing surveillance?
The bloke on the front line might, but the chap who authorised the operation will probably get out unscathed.
Not good enough.
Actions like these are incitement to civil disobedience.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
Anyhow, I'm going to give this place a bit of a spruce up, so don't be alarmed if you come and visit and it looks a bit, well, odd. I'm probably just arseing about with different colour schemes. Perhaps something in gold and purple brocade? Or perhaps velvet?
Anyhow, time to keep a promise I made, I had a lovely message from a chap called Paul at EU Referendum who was keen for me to promote his online petition to . . . well, I'm sure you can figure out what Paul wants. I want it as well. If you want it (no, not that, you filthy minded little skit) then toddle on over and sign the petition, I'll not be holding my breath though. The idea of petitions kind of pre-supposes we live in a democracy where our elected representatives actually give a fuck about what we want.
Oh yes, whilst we're on fiddly about farty arsed stuff, I've got myself on twitter. My name is, surprisingly, UKSnowolf. There's probably a widget I can add on here to promote the awesomeness of my incisive 140 character bon mots on the world in which we live, so I'll have a look about see if I can find it. Please follow me, my account has a big fat 0 where it says 'following' and lonliness is very bad for the ego.
Well, don't just stand there, put the dust sheets down, grab a brush, let's decorate this mother!