Rants, Raves and Opinions:

Previous posts

29/09/12
I'm back for more - and this time I've concocted a makeshift teleprompter.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsJWSQFtCmY

30/07/12
Don't say I don't try. It's taken me an age and a half to actually muster the guts to do this, but here we are; video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6Fjx3qcXrU

06/03/12
Time for another rant, me thinks.
This time let's talk about pufterism.
Yes, just one of those bloody things we're not supposed to say anymore.

Not too long ago some Muslim headcases were locked up here in Britain for distributing leaflets which pointed out that under Islam homosexuality faces the death penalty. Apparently these flyers went into detail. How gays were hanged, or stoned, or any other such religious crap.

So yes, complete nuts. Someone's born different. So let's butcher him – in the name of God. Puts a different spin on human sacrifice, I'd say...

But please. This lot were locked up for handing out leaflets.
Now much as I don't agree with them, do we really need to lock people up for saying such things? So they hate gays. So what?

This has taken on a completely new dimension in my view. To the extent whereby there are now things you are not permitted to express, on pain of imprisonment. We are faced with officially sanctioned doctrine, which is not allowed to be contradicted. The state says homosexuality is fine. To disagree is to... well, just ask those Muslim nuts to see what happens to those who disagree.

There are parallels here. Under communism those who disagreed with the official doctrine invariably found themselves in trouble. A thought crime.

Surely this was never the idea. But this is what happens when a political bandwagon careers out of control. And this one really has done.

Let's not forget where we came from. Complete prohibition of sodomy and all that rubbish. Who'd forget some of the insane injustices connected to it all. Who'd forget Oscar Wilde way back when. Even when things were finally liberalised, there was still a higher age of consent for homosexuality. Lest any older men corrupt healthy youths. Yeah, right... as though that sounds possible.

So yes, the past wasn't good. But is the current trajectory any better?

I recall how not too long ago when political Messrs Mandelson and Co (all queers of course) were debating the finer points of whether gays should be allowed to have it off with each other in cubicles in the public toilets.

This is where common sense just has left the building. Do I really need to listen to Billy and Bobby going at it hammer and tongs while I'm taking a leak at the public latrine?

Meanwhile we've all heard of heterosexual couples who've got into trouble for having it off in a car in a lay-by with some police pinhead being a stickler for protocol...

The problem is that homosexuality has become a touchstone issue for political liberalism. To be pro gay is to be liberal in the official mindset. So think the politicians, but so too thinks the press.
(Nothing illustrates the simplicity of these folks better than their inability to appreciate a more nuanced view.)

So whereas plenty of issues these days have been clobbered with illiberal, oppressive legislation and regulation, the Westminster set still convinces itself that it is championing western liberal values, simply by passing ever more legislation liberalising homosexuality.

This is how we ended up with a law that prohibits any statement which 'incites hatred toward homosexuality'. Hence our Muslim nuts were locked up.
Freedom of speech be damned. Pufterism is more important.

Better yet, the very same folks who think themselves oh-so-liberal also are terribly worried about liberating the female from the yoke of male oppression. After all, everyone with a penis is a mean bastard. We all know that. Well, unless he's gay of course....

So please feast your eyes on this. (And no, I'm not making it up.)
As lap dancing and stripping are exploitative, sleazy and seedy activities which only further cement the exploitation and commodification of the female, Westminster in its wisdom (Yes, you guessed it. This is another leftover from Harriet Harman's time in office.) decided to provide local government with the powers to close down strip clubs more easily.
Hackney council in London is leading the charge. (Well, I believe their MP is Dianne Abbot who harbours a pathological hatred for Page 3.)

So far, so usual. Politicians playing the morality card, closing down 'amoral' strip joints. Nothing new there.

But hang on, isn't there also a lot of male stripping going on in London? You know, gay bars, etc... Of course there is. But that isn't seedy. That is clean cut gay fun. And as there are no women involved there is no exploitation of the female.

Thus, there will be an exemption made for male strip clubs.

No, I'm not kidding.

Men looking at men stripping. = Good.
Men looking at women stripping. = Bad.

Nobody is proposing that we return to open prohibition of homosexuality.
But the bizarre political notion that men watching other men jiggling their bits is somehow more natural than men watching nubile young women shaking their stuff is – well – bordering on the insane.

And still pufterism remains the thing to push if you want to be a right and proper liberal politician. Now it's full gay 'marriage' they demand. And we know that won't be the end of it.

Meanwhile the BBFC still bans films, the BBC still ban certain music and the possession of a 1980s photo of Samantha Fox could get you arrested for child porn (yeah, she was obviously that underdeveloped!).
You can be arrested for revving your car 'in a racially aggrevated manner'. Shops get visited by police for having window displays which might offend someone.
People get arrested for wearing tshirts with inappropriate slogans (Bollocks to Blair!).
The government has a lock on everyone's emails and police have bullied internet service providers into installing black boxes, capturing all internet activity – without any legislation for this ever having been passed.
And yes, you can get locked up for distributing what you think the Koran says about gays.
That's without even mentioning the reams of supposed anti-terror legislation.

But fear not. We're in a liberal society because gays can bang each other in public toilets. Yipeeeh!

I'm sorry folks, but is it me?

27/11/11
Once more, it's been a fair while since my last post. Very tardy, I know.
England's inner cities saw riots, the Arab world took to full scale revolt, European states and the USA were made aware of the fact that one day they might actually be expected to pay back their national debts and the British tabloid press decided to attempt suicide in the phone hacking scandal.

All the above have had yours truly opining aplenty, I just usually didn't bother to write them down.

I've kept up my writing on my book. Well, the second one. The first is completed and I will edit it, once I've finished the second.

Meanwhile I've also been working on that back of mine. Finally found one or two exercises that hit the sweet spot, where the problem is located.
Have thus had the dubious pleasure of a permanently sore, aggravated back these last months, as I've been cracking spinal joints and stretching ligaments which just don't want to yield.

The theory goes - as per the chiropractor's best guess – that I most likely damaged ligaments in my back some two years ago, when all this began. It's probable scar tissue on said ligament which is causing the havoc. So stretching them out seems to be the way to render them compliant once more.

Anyway, that's improving, so enough of my bloody back. And let's not start on my wrist either which I wrenched while shunting mother about town in her wheel chair. Yes, the latter is now the basic mode of transportation to the mater. She can still totter about the house, but if we head to town it's the wheel chair these days.

Mind, it makes things possible. So we went to see Carlisle's Guy Fawkes' night fireworks display earlier this month. All she needed to do was sit, so no problem. I even brought along a flask of hot coffee.

Ah, coffee. Now there's a tale.
Mother being diabetic, we need to get her to drink plenty of liquids, which proves difficult.
Well, that was until I bought her some fine coffee from John Watts' coffee shop.
It proved irresistible and a new routine was born. I myself have never liked coffee, but I must say, even I can drink that stuff!

Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Ethiopian, Kenyan, Javan. Hell, I even treated her to some Jamaican.

Now, before you conclude that I'm spending fortunes on coffee, a small trial pack of 125g of coffee beans will barely cost more than a cup or two served at any coffee shop.
Meanwhile she's enjoying trying them all out. Next I might get her some Mysore or Malabar. We'll see. As well as helping with the fluid intake for diabetes, it's also having the additional welcome effect of keeping her a little more awake.
The medication usually still knocks her out at some point, but the caffeine sees to it that it's less immediate.

So yes, a few cheap glass storage jars from Argos, an electric coffee grinder and a fifteen quid coffee machine have combined to make quite a difference. Who'd have thought it?

As for myself, I've spent the last week or so conquering Europe.
Got myself a copy of 'Total War: Napoleon' and I must say, it's pretty impressive.
First time I saw one of the battle scenarios, I was reminded of that huge model battle display in the Landesmuseum in Zurich of the Battle of Murten.
Except in this game the figures actually move. Artillery men load and fire cannons. Line infantry loose musket fusilades and perform bayonet charges, or can even form square to repel cavalry. Uhlan lancers chase dragoons across the hills and grenadiers storm houses occupied by enemy troopers. There's smoke. There's fog. It even rains!
It's all quite staggering and tremendous fun. Not bad for eight quid. (Well, always wise not to buy the latest release.)

So next time someone mentions the Battle of Waterloo, you can put them straight.
It wasn't Wellington who won it, nor Bluecher, nor Napoleon. It was Franco the Great who triumphed, shattering the British with a brilliant manoeuvre on his right flank, whilst holding off the Prussians with his infantry reserves.
Norman Schwarzkopf, eat your bloody heart out....

12/07/11
So here we are.
The News of the World is no more. After a 168 years the title has closed.
Having been caught illegally listening in to people's voice mails, the scandal got so big, that Rupert Murdoch simply decided enough was enough and closed it down.
Well, it was getting in the way of his corporate take over of BskyB... It had hardly anything to do with morality. :)

However, what makes this collapse ironic is that The News of the World was hoist by its own petard. It was the mother of all tabloid newspapers. This meant it was a judgemental, aggressive organisation which loved nothing more than humiliating those it deemed 'wrong doers'.

Often of course these 'wrong doers' turned out to be harmless. One of their more recent escapades saw them 'outing' Max Moseley. So here was a man who'd done no one any harm having his sex life splashed over the Sunday news. As 'evidence' The News of the World even uploaded a video of Max' sexual shenanigans onto the net. Ooh, it was all so scandalous, you know. He's married, you know.

And the supposed public interest to excuse such intrusion into privacy? Well, he was then the head of Formula One. Why it's a public necessity to know what the head of Formula One gets up to sexually is beyond me, but then this example perfectly illustrates the approach taken by The News of the World.
They were 'only doing their job'. Alerting the public to the scandalous behaviour of those at the top. Yeah, right.

One particular fancy The News of the World (and other tabloids) had was for disappeared or murdered children or young women. - As long as they were photogenic, that is!
So some cute girlie that disappeared, suspected to have been possibly abducted by a paedophile was good news fro them. Sold good copy.

It always made me feel queasy to see such stories flogged with lots of pictures of the victim. Rather than actually be seeking to help inform the public of a missing person, the newspaper seemed to be in a strange game of victim porn. You could almost here them saying 'Would you do her? Well? Would you? Would you?'

Hence, it was only ever cute kids and young women who got this treatment. Hundreds of people go missing in Britain. But if it was just some fat kid, or a tea lady in Bolton it never made The News of the World.
But if it was a leggy twenty something of whom there were lots of pictures, including a video of her running about in a park. Weyhey! She'd fill the headlines for months.

Of course, as they wrote and wrote, any suspect was rendered the devil incarnate.
In turn the status of the victim changed. In a bizarre way, the 'poor, poor victim' gradually became sanctified over time. Until at last she became some sort of iconic shorthand for victimhood. And it was this elevation to quasi sainthood which is key here.

So what brought The News of the World down?
Well, when it emerged they were hacking the mobile phone voice mails of celebrities and politicians nobody was much concerned. Let's face it, what great secrets could they really have learned from listening to Sienna Miller and Vanessa Feltz' voice mail? Privacy intrusion? Yes, surely. But then these were people who invited Hello magazine into their living rooms. What did anyone care? When it came to politicians it didn't help that the loudest voice of protest by far was John Prescott. Not only is he a piece of flotsam from the last government, which couldn't be more discredited in the public mind. But he's also a loud mouth slob with the charm of a pork pie.

But then two things emerged.
First, The News of the World had been hacking the voice mails of Milly Dowler. Now here we had the classic case of shooting oneself in one's own foot. Milly Dowler was one of those victims who had been raised to near sainthood by the tabloids, chief of which was the News of the World. Worse still, their hacking into her voice mail lead the family to believe she might still be alive and may have impacted on the police investigation by destroying evidence. (they deleted some messages to make room for new ones, should any arrive)

So here was the News of the World having wronged a saint of their own creation. There was nowhere to hide.

Who else's voice mails had they been hacking? Well, those of relatives of the 7/7 bombing victims (the London underground bombings) and relatives of UK soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Again, the London bombing victims are all considered saints by the tabloid media. Every soldier to die in recent conflicts has been elevated to hero status.

So to listen to the voice mails of their relatives was suicidal.

There is little other way of describing what happened as 'hoist by one's own petard'. The over emotive reporting style which seems only to deal in heroes and panto villains totally backfired when it emerged that they'd been hacking the good guys.

The simple fact that what they were doing was wrong would never have destroyed The News of the World. No, a publication like that had done so much wrong over the years, this would not have made a dent. But the fact that they became victims of their own rhetoric was deadly.
One of the most judgemental voices in the UK media suddenly found itself in the crossfire of its own demagoguery.

I enjoyed this a great deal.
Seeing one of the world's most unsavoury publications crash into oblivion was a joy to behold. To watch them flail helplessly trying to find excuses where none could be found. Pure delight. All hypocrites should end up that way.
All that it needs now for perfection is for The Daily Mail also to bite the dust and the UK would be a much nicer place.

09/06/11
So, there we are.
There will be no new inquiry into the death of Dr Kelly.

Well, there's a surprise.

Now, to the uninitiated. Here's what happened.
Tony Blair wanted to take Britain to war with Iraq. So much is bleedingly obvious.

But of course a prime minister only ever takes a nation to war 'if he absolutely must'.
So aside from the everlasting verbiage of how 'the world had changed since 9/11', we were also told about how Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction which he could unleash on the world within 45 minutes, or worse, hand over to terrorists.

These claims were made in an intelligence dossier compiled by the secret services which was presented to parliament and to the public.

So far so clear.

Except that an insider told a BBC journalist that the dossier was nonsense. That it had been 'sexed up' by the Downing Street press office and had no credibility at all. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

That was a bit of a blow to the government. After all their casus belli seemed just to have gone up in smoke. Embarrassing. So they then set about finding out who it was who had revealed this to the BBC and outing him.

Meanwhile of course, we were at war. A war in which it is estimated 150'000 Iraqis died.

Sooner or later the insider who had spoken to the BBC was discovered. It was Dr David Kelly.
Britain's foremost weapons inspector who had been on missions to Iraq for such inspections. So, some might say, a man who knew what he was talking about...

The Blairite spin machine immediately set to action. Dr Kelly was a bit of a 'Walter Mitty figure' we were told by journalists briefed unofficially by government people. In short, a fantasist. A bit of a loon. Odd how a distinguished scientist, who also happens to be the nation's foremost expert on the very issue which has caused the nation to enter into a very bloody war, suddenly is deemed a bit of a loose gun who doesn't know what he's talking about.

Dr Kelly was dragged before a parliamentary committee and through the press. I think he was fired or suspended from his post (I'm not too sure of these details any more. It's been years.) and I think his public service pension might also have been in question.

Then Dr Kelly was dead. Suicide.

The official verdict? He had fallen into depression after his outing and public humiliation in the press. On some bleak night he decided to end it all with some pain killers and a pen knife at the edge of a wooded area.

Now the above is perfectly possible.

But I'm reminded of Cicero's famous speech at the defence of Sextus Roscius.
In said speech he quoted an old Roman judge's infamous motto, 'Cui bono?'
'Who benefits?'

Weapons of mass destruction have never been found in Iraq. - Dr Kelly was right.

Since then ever more evidence has emerged about voices in the secret services having made quite contrary noises regarding the supposed existence of Saddam's arsenal of chemical weapons and his fabled nuclear program.

Dr Kelly was telling the truth, warning people of a government lie. And he's dead.
So much is clear.

But does that mean the government murdered him in order to get him out of the way? Who knows? Proof is impossible.

Some believe they see inconsistencies in some details surrounding his death. But that could just be the usual fog of conspiracy theories circling around any such event.

However, Cicero looms large here. 'Cui bono?'

Let us for a moment consider a world in which Dr Kelly would have lived. In which after all the slaughter of the Iraq War no weapons of mass destruction had been found. Where a man, deliberately publicly humiliated and disgraced by a prime minister, would have suddenly emerged in the media, utterly vindicated, and would have uttered the fateful words, 'I told you so.'

Imagine the political impact.
Who could forget Colin Powell waving about quantities equivalent to Anthrax that would kill who knows how many in the UN security council?

Imagine all those powerful men eating their words.
Imagine a UK prime minister falling. Perhaps even a government. Imagine possible legal proceedings on an illegal war. Just imagine.

'Cui bono?' Well, isn't it obvious?

But Dr Kelly's death and these matters are absolutely not related. So we're told. It's all pure coincidence.

An inquiry was set up, by the very government involved, which confirmed it was suicide. It is largely deemed a whitewash with much too narrow parameters of investigation.

With some doubts having been brought forward by doctors and lawyers recently in regard to the details surrounding Dr Kelly's death, the current government were facing calls for a new inquiry. They have decided that there will not be one. The announcement was made today.

But then who really needs an inquiry? Old Marcus Tullius Cicero already posed the question over two thousand years ago which leads us unerringly to the truth here.

'Cui bono?'

Indeed.

05/06/11
The Mother's Union. Gods save us from the Mother's Union!
Oh so family friendly David Cameron commissioned Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mother's Union, to make a report into the 'sexualisation of children'.
They're about to report tomorrow. The prime minister is already known to endorse it wholeheartedly.

As for myself, I just want to wail at the moon.
One doesn't commission the bloody Mother's Union to make a report on such a thing if one is unbiased on this issue and seeks an unbiased, open minded report on such an issue.

(Sure, technically it's not the Mother's Union doing the report, but merely the man who happens to be heading it. But it seems clear that he has been chosen precisely because he heads it. Thus, it's much of a muchness.)

Next, would anyone commission a report on the 'sexualisation of children' if they held any doubt on whether it was actually occurring or not?
Therefore, we are looking at a prime minister, who is convinced of it, asking another man, who is also convinced of it, to report on whether there might be something in it.
Don't we all just love that sort of approach.

Newspaper columnists are already in a frenzy. The conclusions have been widely leaked to the press. The Daily Mail has whipped itself into a moral froth, as was to be expected.

Once again, we have folks banging on about the 'watershed' on UK television. Then there's slogans on kids t-shirts. Or padded bras for young girls. And of course, internet porn and music videos.

Well, during a wave of public service cuts, the nation involved in not one, but two wars and Britain still reeling from a banking crisis, what better thing would we possibly have to talk about than what slogans a ten year old kid might have on her t-shirt?
But all right, let's talk about it. If it's so bloody important.

How people dress their children is a matter of taste. Some people will dress their children in bad taste. The question is, when did bad taste become a matter of law?

So what if there are some twelve year olds running around with t-shirts sporting the playboy bunny?
Many indeed may be appalled. I doubt there will be many who'd be supportive of the idea. But here's the truth. The overwhelming majority really wouldn't give a damn.
Seriously, I bet well over three quarters of people personally wouldn't give two hoots about it. Not enough in any case to really want to see something don't about it.

But here we are once again in the area of governing according to the wishes of the vociferous.
Minorities who scream loud enough get their way. No matter how unrepresentative their views actually are.

Some of the leaked recommendations are also a little worrying. When supposedly there is mention of political slogans on tops. I'm not even aware of any moral zealots having voiced any outrage at that. But I guess if a government wants to stop youngsters wearing tops which demand an end to the use of nuclear energy or some such thing. Well, here's their opportunity....

Then there's the internet. They want computers to be sold with all the filters switched on by default. I don't have a big problem with that. However, it would mean most machines will be filtered at all times. The importance of who actually decides what is filtered then rises exponentially.
And I'm not really sure to whom they are accountable. Being accountable to Mr Cameron, who wants them, would be a little... err.. useless as regards to liberty.

At last we then get to the supposedly thorny issue of music videos. Now Cameron has been making noises about them ever since he was in opposition. However, like much of the rest of this 'sexualisation' issue, he never mentioned it during his election campaign. Thus he really has no electoral mandate at all to do anything here. Not that this will stop him.

The fact is simply that the avid church going part of the UK population, -so yes, well under ten percent of the people at large, - are appalled at what they clearly understand to be whores with microphones gyrating to loud 'noise'.

This group of moralising miscreants, who I'm sure would like homosexuals publicly garrotted and adultery punished by stoning, is joined by a hotch potch of other tiny, equally poisonous groupings such as militant feminists – or the bloody Mother's Union.

Why exactly are we seeking to ban Rihanna from shaking her bum into the camera? Well, apparently it's because it will harm children. Not that anyone has ever provided any evidence to back up such a conclusion. It just is so. Exposure to attractive women in music videos will harm children. End of discussion.

Well, aside from them burning in hell onto eternity for sinful thoughts, and being lost to the patriarchy to brain washing of course.
Oh, and mother's don't like the idea of those firm thighed waifs on telly as it makes them feel fat...

I just don't get it. There is no pornography in sight. But attractive, dancing girls are apparently a problem to the nation's morality – at least according to the campaigners, the Mother's Union and David effing Cameron.

The problem is really quite straight forward. There is nothing wrong with the internet, music videos or kids t-shirts. The problem is that Cameron is in his forties. And so I trust is just about everyone in the Mother's Union. Now, listen carefully, people. You are no longer hip. It's that simple.
You now belong to the old fuddy duddies who don't get it.
You are now of the equivalent generation which once complained about Elvis Presley's hip gyrations. Or the length of the Beatles' hair. Or punk music. Or rap music.....

In this case, you feel outraged by Beyonce's shapely arse. Well, get over it. It's no longer your world. It belongs to the next generation now and they want to see it. In HD if possible.
And if you think you can censor them. Consider this. How up to speed do we think David I-went-to-Eton Cameron is with computers? And how savvy on said subject do we expect the Mother's Union to be?

But the kids? They're growing up with it. Trust me. If they want to see Rihanna shaking her stuff, they will.
Give up. You've lost. Really.

I'm forty one now. And there's tons I don't understand which those young whippersnappers get up to. Albeit that I still can appreciate Rihanna backside in hot pants to no end...
But I think wisdom simply tells you that it's not yours to understand what it is they do. I don't get facebook and the likes. Really, I don't. But that's all right. It's theirs. They can have it. (Yes, David, I don't want it banned because I don't get it.)

When I was in my teens Boy George was jumping around dressed like a mad rastafarian witch doctor who'd crashed into a make up convention. I doubt any of my parent's generation really quite understood what on earth was going on there.
David Cameron is of the same generation. He is only two or three years my senior. Thus, he too was listening to Madonna wanting to be touched like a virgin, for the very first time. All the while Frankie goes to Hollywood were telling us to relax.

And you know what? It all came out fine.
So here's my advice to David Cameron.

You're too old, mate. You don't get it. Accept it. So don't ban what is not yours to understand. Meanwhile, tell the Mother's Union to fuck off. And tell them to take the bible bashers and feminists with them.

It's now a world of youtube, facebook, lady gaga and flash mobbing. It's their turn. And I for one want them to have fun in their world.
And if I don't get it, so what?

Way back when, Frankie Goes to Hollywood were banned by the BBC. Is there anyone around today who thinks that wasn't a decision made by puritan prigs? I bet money that Cameron thinks so.

So do a bit of growing up, call-me-Dave. You needn't be daddy cool who hangs with the kids and gets it. Just go bomb Libya if you think you must.

If you ban things, then in twenty, thirty years time people are going to look back on you as a piece of censorial effluent. And quite rightly so.

20/05/11
So here we are.
The English Football Association will not vote in the election for FIFA president. Who is up for election? Well, the current incumbent, one Sepp Blatter and some guy from Qatar, of all places.

Personally I doubt Sepp Blatter is losing any sleep over this.

Why is England not voting? Well, FIFA are frankly one of the most corrupt outfits on planet earth and UK newspapers have recently been digging up more and more dirt about them.

I think the recent awarding of the football world cup to Qatar just about finished any doubts anyone had about corruption within FIFA.

In short, pay the members of the committee enough money and you'll get the world cup. Oil rich countries thus have an advantage, even if they are set in the middle of the desert (the world cup takes place in summer!) or haven't any cities to build football stadiums in.

But is football alone in this?
Well, in golf it has recently been decided to host the Ryder Cup in France. Why? France has no great tradition of golf. On continental Europe only really Germany and Spain have any top golfers. But then the French golf authority decided to charge all golf club members a levy for several years. The accrued amount makes up part of their bid. So French golf is paying the international golf authorities money to get to stage the biggest tournament in the game.
Now, sure, it's unlike football, in that at least they are openly paying an international sports institution, rather than secretly bribing individuals. Nonetheless, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

And then there's Formula 1 motor racing.
There are countries with great racing traditions. Some with proper industries surrounding it. And then there's Bahrain or Malaysia....

Russia too would like to be on the calendar. Russia, whose contribution to car manufacture thus far has been the Lada. And the Russian top racing drivers are simply too many to list here...

One might ask, why stage races in these godforsaken places? Malaysia maybe. But Bahrain?
Excuse the stereotype, but just how many nomads on camels really attend these races?
What I mean is, much like Qatar and football, is there any cultural relevance at all? Isn't this just utterly alien to the local population, hosted simply because the elite made up of various crown princes fancies the idea?

Did you know that at the end of the of the Bahrain Grand Prix the winning drivers have to make do with spraying the crowd with lemonade from pretend champagne bottles? Lest it offend someone's religious sensitivities.
And a football world cup in Qatar is also going to be somewhat 'beerless' I assume.
But then why would the German, Dutch or English fans fancy a beer in forty degree heat? And it's not as though fans from those countries would be expected to flock to a world cup in large numbers. After all, the Qatari fans will no doubt outnumber them vastly....

Please don't take this for xenophobia. It really is not.

But just awarding these competitions to the back of beyond because they happen to pay good money is ridiculous.
Qatar even proposed in its bid that there would be air conditioning in the stadiums to cool the air at pitch level to allow play to take place in the afternoon. Yeah, right. Pull the other one.
By now, they've conceded it was bullshit and have advised all matches will need to take place in the evenings. Go figure...

I know it might make me sound like an old fuddy duddy and for years people have bewailed the over commercialisation of sport.
The university boat race nowadays has a sponsor. So does wimbledon. So does the English premier league. Formula 1 drivers have been advertising hoardings on legs for decades now. It all not very dignified. True.

But the awarding of these events to the sporting equivalent of 'banana republics' takes money grubbing to a different level.

I don't really care whether crown prince so-and-so wishes to have the competition staged in his country and is willing to splash out a few billion to make it so.

There was a time when you staged events where practicality, public support and tradition obliged them to be.

Nowadays, who cares? If someone is willing to bid enough, we'll quit Monte Carlo and race the cars in downtown Mogadishu instead. Just as long as the local sheikh has the readies to pay for it.
Or Tennis? How about Nepal? Sure, the local population is as interested in tennis as it is in deep sea diving, but it all looks the same on telly anyhow, doesn't it? Oh, and tell Mr Federer to pack his woolly jumper. We'll be hosting it in winter (well, as sensible as football in the desert in summer!).

I know it's more than likely too much to ask, but couldn't we just host games in places where they make some sort of sense?

And yes, as for FIFA corruption, I'd have a solution.
Let's not have people on the decision making committee from places like Tahiti (no joke, one of those guys suspended on current allegations is from just there). If the local population don't care for the sport, who's to keep these people honest?
Therefore, I'd simply propose only those countries have a vote who've actually won the competition.
So, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain and Uruguay.
If any others want a say. It's simple. Win the bloody competition. (Good luck, Qatar.)

Were that system in operation, I suspect the word cup would not be going to Qatar any time soon.

12/05/11
Well, it's the FA cup final on Saturday.
Manchester City, who looked positively Brazilian against Everton in their last outing, are facing poor little Stoke City.
It seems quite obvious whom the rest of the nation, bar the sky blue part of Manchester, is going to be cheering. Well, expect perhaps for Port Vale.
Here too the household is utterly partisan. Mother being born and raised in Stoke and has thus definitely reserved the telly on Saturday.

Meanwhile, of course, since my last missive the nation has gone to war – yet again.
This time it's to protect civilians from Gaddafi's evil henchmen. Well, it's odd. Whenever they show these Libyan civilians on television, they're carrying Kalashnikovs. Odd, that....

Next, Osama Bin Laden has been killed.
And we're all terribly cynical and unfair we're told by the Pakistani government for thinking that their secret services might have been in cahoots with the man.
Well, they've been backing religious nuts for decades now, either in Kashmir against India, or in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Is it really that far fetched to think that some among their ranks might have made friends with their fanatical allies while all that was happening? Ah well, there I go again. Cynical as ever...

Oh, any hope of political reform in the UK has also just bitten the dust for at least another generation. The referendum for voting reform was soundly defeated. The Tories and Labour colluding to see to it that the populace were panicked into voting 'no'.
Well, when there's leaflets going round telling folks that the costs of the new electoral system would be so exorbitant that we wouldn't be able to afford body armour for the troops, or that some maternity hospitals would need to be closed, what do you expect?

Here's an interesting one.
http://freethinker.co.uk/2011/05/11/yiddish-paper-denies-dissing-women-after-removing-hillary-clinton-from-photo/
Yes, an orthodox Jewish newspaper in the US thinks showing any women in a photograph would be unacceptable. Thus they must be edited out of the picture. I laughed. Why?
Well, perhaps the Harriet Harmans of this world will realise that it's not lad's mags or make up adverts who are the enemy, but the religious nut jobs whom they usually stand shoulder to shoulder with when decrying all the sin and fornication in the world.

And talking of moral nutters, Rihanna has been told she's a bad girl by the media watchdog Ofcom. Well, a TV station has been told off for showing her video during daylight hours.
I've had the audacity to watch it on youtube when the BBC banned it.
There is no difference between that video and, say, anything recently put out by Lady Gaga. (see Bad romance, Alejandro or Born this way)
The authorities simply have got their knickers in a twist over the name of the song: 'S&M'.
Frankly, if all they have to worry about in their lives is song titles theirs must indeed be a very sheltered existence.

Well, at least my shaving adventures are going well. As previously reported I played around with a plastic Wilkinson safety razor for a while, until I got the hand of shaving with one of those grandfather razors. Then I finally decided on a proper metal one.
In the end I decided to go all patriotic. Got myself a Edwin Jagger DE89BL made in Sheffield.
It's quite a revelation, making the plastic Wilkinson thingy look like a toy.
Meanwhile it only cost £15 and came with a set of Derby blades.
So, to quote a friend of mine. I'm 'well chuffed'.

What can I say? It's fun to be old fashioned.

27/03/11
Well, Oxford have just won the boat race.
You've got to like those oldy worldy traditions. In this case they tell you that it's spring. The annual boat race tends to tell you it's safe to go outside again. And after the winter we've just had, you definitely need telling. (The cold even killed my daffodil bulbs in the pots outside!)

But Franco's taken to some other oldy worldy thing too. Yes. Today for the first time in his life, he used a DE razor. Can't quite believe it myself.
So, just why the sudden change? Well, my skin is driving me crazy and, all things considered, it's possible it's the morning shave that's causing it.

It soon seemed likely that the idea of dragging a cartridge featuring five blades across your face might be a little excessive.
First I got myself proper shaving cream and a shaving brush.
Then I changed from Gillette to Wilkinson (those advertised skin guards) which made a little difference.
Finally, I decided to chance it and ordered myself a Wilkinson DE 'Classic' razor. Now's it's plastic and costs no more than £4.50. So I figure it's no waste if I decide this is not for me and chuck it in the bin.

So today it had its first outing. Naturally, being utterly new to this kind of device, I lacerated the living daylights out of my chin. But by and large it's not too bad for a first attempt. A little practice and this might indeed be a much better option. Truth be told it feels like a better shave.

So what difference does it make what Franco shaves with? Well, it is unlikely to change the world.

But it did make me think a little.

I have thus far only ever shaved with Gillette cartridges. I simply didn't know any better.
It's what I've always done. Why? Erm. Really, because it's what's advertised on telly and it's what's in the shops.

In short, I unwittingly depended on what the grand corporations deigned to sell me. And they, the global conglomerates like Proctor and Gamble (Gillette) wish to sell me their blade cartridges, which are vastly more profitable than razor blades.

Now normally I'm not one to rant and rave about the 'evil' corporations. I guess it's not meant in that regard. Far more, I find it remarkable how much I've learned recently about something as common as shaving.
Being the nerd that I am, of course I set about this by getting myself a book. Yes, a book on shaving. ('Sharp Practice' by Anders Larsen)

Reading this, I learnt of things I'd never even heard of before. Alum blocks, styptics, etc, etc. What seems so strange is that it appears none of these things are common knowledge at all anymore. When exactly did shaving become specialist knowledge?

The truth is that just about every man is restricted by what he finds at his local supermarket or pharmacy chain. For the convenience of these companies (rather than that of their customers) they stock only those products which are seen as big brand names. i.e. Gillette and Wilkinson, with perhaps the odd bit of Nivea shaving cream thrown in.

The big companies and the big retailers are simply not interested in selling items which are very cheap, or which last a great length of time and thus don't need frequently renewing.
Thus, why would a supermarket stock an alum block which costs a fiver and will last for years and years? Which is why they stick to after shave and balms, which empty soon enough and need replacing.

The truth is you cannot really buy an old fashioned safety razor on the high street anymore. And it's the same for razor blades. How so?

Well, a pack of 4 Fusion pro glide cartridges costs £10.48 at Tescos today.
Alternatively, you can buy 100 Derby razorblades online for £10.
You're usually advised to change blades every week. Most don't do it that frequently.
But essentially you can pay a tenner for one month of shaving or for two years.

Now as said, I'm not usually one of the tree-hugging fraternity which blames all the ills of the world on consumerism and big commerce. But this seems a bit steep.

So yes, as of now I'm quite pleased with my plastic Wilkinson 'Classic'. I'll try it for a week or more and then, if all works out well, perhaps get myself something a little more substantial steel razor like an Merkur 34C. Oh yes, I've been hitting the websites and checking out which ones are worth having.

Well, if it stops my face from being all blotchy and saves me money at the same time I struggle to see what I have to lose. Meanwhile of course the big companies are trying to phase out their production of razor blades. Just as it seems that there are plenty of men like me wanting to get themselves old fashioned safety razors. Now I wonder why that is....

But just before you think I'm wearing a hare shirt here, suffering harsh austerity at saving money on shaving. I'm currently using pre-shave oil and shaving cream from Taylor's of Old Bond Street from St James's in London. How much posher can you get?
Frankly it feels like a million dollars. Yet with the amount needed it seems a damn sight cheaper than those aerosol cans of shaving gel you get at the supermarket.
Thanks to the internet you can now get your hands on badger brushes, luxurious shaving creams, alum blocks and the likes without any problem whatsoever.

So once more; it's better and it's cheaper. Erm, why are we using that stuff from the supermarkets again?

26/03/11
All right, folks. I'm back.
I know it's been an age and a half.
In fact I had written several commentaries for this column, but never got around to putting it online. Sooner or later I began to ask myself why that was. In fact much of my internet activity had ceased up.

Now sure, I have a bad back. But I suspected there was more behind it. Sooner or later I hit upon it. It's the demise of my HotDog html editor.
When I switched to my new computer, which ran windows vista, my old html editing software no longer worked. The company had gone out of business, so no updates for vista were available. Hence I made do with something I found on the net.
It was pretty hideous. Thus I found myself putting everything off.

Realising this, I bit the bullet and bought a new piece of kit. Microsoft Expression Studio 4. My first few attempts on it thus far are promising. Let's see if it has me working a little more on web pages again.

Thus far I've been over the list of youtube links and added some new ones. Why is it that perfectly good youtube links always go bad? Who have thought you'd need to actively 'maintain' it, so it continued working...

That done, I then decided to add another little gallery to the photo section. Something I whipped up briefly today with the camera and the remote.

Anyhow, that's enough of that.
Let's see if the software makes the difference. Fingers crossed.

28/02/10
So here we go again.

The forces of darkness have a new standard to rally around.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos has a report out on the 'sexualisation of children'.

Apparently it was an 'independent report commissioned by government'.

Yeah, right.

Government funded this 'research' (why does Harriet Harman's clique invariably spring to mind?), but it's completely independent, of course.
Also, - doesn't the subject itself seem like a somewhat leading question?
Does anyone fund such a project and expect the result to be that nothing is wrong?

So much to independence.
A report commissioned with government money, with a clear aim to provide the desired results to fit with pre-existent political aims.

The report inevitably criticises music lyrics, videos, magazines, the internet. Well, yes, everything...

But there are real gems in there. It should be made clear in a rating system where pictures in magazines or adverts are photoshopped.

Erm, now I know photoshopped (i.e. retouched) images have long been a bug bear of militant feminists, but just what has this to do with the 'sexualisation of children'?

Nothing.

The very fact that this dire wish of the bra burning brigade is in there, reveals the true motivation behind it all. It's a feminist pamphlet - using child protection as its latest argument against anything containing thighs and nipples.

It is true that times are changing. It is true that children and young people in the UK are being exposed to more sexually suggestive imagery.
But please, what exactly is the harm in that?

You are speaking to someone who as far as he can think back was 'exposed' to the big bosomed, topless Fa soap girl throwing herself into the oncoming surf in television adverts.
A childhood on the continent was a little less sheltered, shall we say.

So now, kids are getting to see Lady Gaga shake her stuff in videos. So what?
Really, I fail to get hot under the collar over any of this.

Government of course sees things differently. There is an urgent need to act, according to them. To protect childhood.
What a surprise! Totally unexpected, given that they commissioned this 'independent' report.

some of the reports recommendations are classic.

'Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups'

So they'll be telling us how us how to dress kids now...
How about brown little uniforms for them all, with an arm band spelling the letters 'HJ'?
After all, why not go all the way while you're at it? Think the Hitler Youth would be more than appropriate. Well, if we recruit popes form there...

'The exemption of music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be ended.'

Ah yes, the BBFC should be censoring (sorry classifying – such a difference!) music videos. Hell of an idea. After all, all their decisions are so sane. For example their 18 certificate on a movie about the life of the famous pin up Bettie Page; a film which contained no nudity or violence.
And who would forget their latest tendency of cutting John Wayne films (yes, you read correctly) for 'animal cruelty'?

I shudder to think what the morons (sorry 'experts') at the BBFC would make of the latest music video releases.

Talking of which:

'Broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed.'

Hm, what exactly is sexual posing? Why do Elvis Presley's pelvic movements come to mind? Anyone acre to ban Elvis? You know, introduce some proper moral standards....

And what, pray, are sexually suggestive lyrics? This is the land of the 'Carry On' movies, for heaven's sake. Sexually suggestiveness is part of the national culture.

Let us muse fur a moment on Robbie Williams' latest video outing, dressed as a man sized rabbit, together with various bunny girls, one of whom is riding a swing in the shape of giant carrot.
Sexually suggestive anyone. I would say so. Funny? Hilarious!

My view on feminism remains unaltered.
Make sure that the cleaning lady gets the same pay as the janitor if she does a comparable job. That's where feminism bites for me. Equality plain and simple.

But sadly it's used more frequently by drab, droopy, grey, overweight – and exceedingly jealous – females to run a hateful vendetta against more attractive women and men who fancy them.

Feminism is thus more often then not used to soothe the various neuroses of women who feel hard done by because they are not top of the pile among their own sex – something they so want to be.

Well, I'm neither David Beckham, nor Brad Pitt, nor George Clooney.
Nonetheless I don't have a problem with them. Nor with them flashing their flesh once in a while. Nor do I hate women for wanting to lick chocolate ice cream off their bodies.
It's just the way of the world.

But then please allow me to want to lick the same off the body of some gorgeous, buxom nubile, girlie without some grey, saggy boobed, feminist harpie complaining about how unfair it all is.

It is unfair. The rules of sexual attraction are what they are.

Banning videos is not going to make these gorgons any more attractive to the opposite sex. Nor will it ever shut them up.

Thus appeasing them is futile.

Now, if only we hadn't a government which wouldn't do so....

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