Keep Your Filthy Hands Off My Pussy

I’ve noticed this extraordinarily disturbing banner ad appearing recently, most notably on the Graun’s website. It seems to be comparing a cute kitty with an ersatz female of the photoshop variety.

Just what, exactly, are “advocates for animals” actually advocating here ? Sleazy bastards.

#CleggFail : 70 Days To Save Democracy

Nick Clegg is clearly very confused this week, calling for the Queen’s speech to be

cancelled in favour of an emergency programme of reform.

Wow, well that sounds great, reform is good, yeah ? Problem is that poor Cleggy trips over his own arguments

there are just 70 sitting days left before it is dissolved for the general election, too little time to debate and approve the Government’s latest legislative shopping list. The current average time taken for laws to make it from first reading to royal assent is 240 days.

So if we need 240 days just to get through a bog standard piece of legislation, how the blue fuck does he expect to get through a complete programme of parliamentary reform in just 70 days ?

After the expenses scandal, this Parliament has destroyed its own legitimacy. Not in living memory has confidence in politicians, trust in the system, or faith in the Government’s capacity to change things been as low as it is today. People are no longer willing to respect the will of this failed Parliament.

Well, quite Nick. So what makes you think that this parliament, even assuming it could get its act together to agree a set of reforms and have a proper, democratic, referendum within just 70 days, would have any legitimacy whatsoever in doing so?

This rump Parliament, brought to its knees by scandal, has one final chance left to redeem itself.

‘Fraid not Nick, this particular parliament is completely irredeemable, the one gift it could really give its successor with any legitimacy whatsoever is an early general election. And that is not within your gift, either.

We hear a lot of talk about Labour trying to replace their leader, perhaps it is time for the Lib Dems to do the same, there is an election coming up, you know.

‘Cyber Bullying’ : My Arse

Cyberspace, The Final Frontier (Of Hyperbole)

If you’ve switched on the TV news today, or opened a newspaper at any point, you will no have heard that “cyber bullying” is on the increase, and that it even happens in primary schools!

The reason that this is in the news, as it turns out, is because today marks the start of national anti bullying week. No, I didn’t either, but there you go. I doubt a week manages to go by without being hijacked to some cause that most people have never heard of and are unlikely to remember, and that’s this week’s.

In this case, the celebrants are the Anti Bullying Alliance (no, again, me neither) who describe themselves thusly

Founded in 2002 by NSPCC and National Children’s Bureau, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) brings together over 60 organisations into one network. We look to develop a consensus around how to stop and prevent bullying. We aim to influence policy.

Ah, I see. A full list of those over 60 members can be perused here, it is left as an exercise for the reader to decide which of them are fake charities and pointless quangos spending your hard deaned tax money on lobbying the government to do what they were going to anyway.

To mark the start of this auspicious week, the ABA have made a press release with some numbers in it.

I have no particular axe to grind with the ABA, but when I hear this much hysteria pouring out of my media holes it generally makes me wonder if someone is pushing some kind of sinister-ish agenda. In this case it’s not particularly to hard to find, because it’s plastered all over the Telegraph

Sara Payne, mother of Sarah, the eight-year old who was murdered in 2000 by the paedophile Roy Whiting, urged parents to snoop on their children’s internet use to protect them from paedophiles and cyber-bullies.

Ah yes, to make the internets safe for children, that’s the one.

So the next time we see these particular numbers, they will most likely be being used as a cudgel to pound through some legislative agenda, or worse, some kind of pseudo legislative agenda such as the kind of “independently monitored voluntary code of practice” recommended by the Byron Review. Folk familiar with the telecomms industry will know that what “independently monitored voluntary code of practice” means is that a man from the home office comes around and says, in effect, you will follow this code of practice voluntarily, if you refuse, or if we independently monitor you failing to comply with it, we will pass some legislation that you really won’t like.

Numbers Game

It behoves us then, to understand that these numbers are the meaningless result of a survey sample that is unrepresentative, self selecting and biased. This much is evident from the little published data that exists. The whole survey does not appear to be available, so I stand open to correction when it becomes so, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Having said that, this wouldn’t be such a problem if all the ABA wanted to do was get some publicity for the eminently sensible common sense advice to parents that they have tagged to their press release. The problem will arise later when they start be used as part of that stated aim “to influence policy”, when it will be claimed that this is a ‘study’ or ‘research’ when it qualifies as neither. Watch this space.

The above being said, it would be wrong of me to engage further with the numbers, so I won’t.

Kids These Days

I’m not sure why the focus on ‘cyber’ bullying, personally. If you take the sentence “Primary school children are becoming victims of cyberbullying” and remove the ‘cyber’ and the ‘becoming’, we get “Primary school children are victims of bullying”. Well. Duh! Suddenly all the hysteria has leaked out. Children have been ‘bullying’ each other since one single celled organism turned to another single celled organism and shouted “Look everyone, Johnny folds his proteins to the LEFT!”

I’m sure it’s not very nice if someone sets up a facebook hate page especially for you, but is it any worse than someone taking a 3/4 Inch permanent marker and writing “Craig is a bender, IDST!” in the toilets where everyone can see it, or spray painting “Parr fucks budgies” on a railway bridge, or chalking “Kirsty is a slag!” on the rearmost panel of the blackboard so it shows when the teacher rolls it around ?

I note from looking at the ABA’s various publications that two of these now have their own special categories one is ‘homophobic’ bullying and one is ‘sexual bullying’, there seems to be no category for bestiaphobic bullying, though. Surely a fertile area for the ABA to tackle next.

So fair well then, Edward Woodward

So fair well then, Edward Woodward,
Your name was always fun to say,
I liked you in pretty much everything.
Turns out that it was actually Time,
That was the great equaliser, after all.

RIP

Blind Fury : Brown’s Inexcusable Spelling Gaffes

Not In My Name

Like Gordon Brown, I am partially sighted. Like Gordon Brown, my handwriting is appalling and often indecipherable even to me. Unlike Gordon Brown, I would simply never consider hand writing professional correspondence of any kind. Period.

And so it was with considerable surprise that I emerged blinking into the pale winter light yesterday to discover ‘Lettergate’ romping all over the news agenda.

Unlike many other people, my surprise stems not from the fact that this has become a controversy but from the fact that anyone sane could step up to defend Gordon Brown for what I believe to be an inexcusable insult to the grieving mother of a fallen soldier.

I can think of no piece of correspondence that one should take more seriously than a letter of condolence, and that goes in spades if you happen to be the Prime Minister of the government who sent the deceased to fight and die. And it goes in the kind of spades one finds attached to the front of a JCB if your government is widely regarded as being further culpable for that death due to an inability to properly equip your combat troops.

So I was astonished to discover that our prime minister had sent such a letter that was practically illegible and appeared to contain 25 spelling errors, including the family name of the deceased soldier.

What happened next, of course, was not a surprise at all. What happened next was the PC by proxy brigade crawled out of their foetid holes and began a mass whine, the gist of which was that we should let him off because he has a disability. That mocking him for this was picking on him, bullying him for his disability. Bullshit.

Bum Gravy

A Downing Street spokesmen : “The suggestion that he would have or does write these letters in a way that is anything other than with the dignity of the office he holds is completely inappropriate.”

A typically vexing piece of Newspeak, that. Let’s imagine for a moment that I don’t give a flying simian sex act for what some Borg drone thinks is ‘appropriate’, and unpick the tastier bits.

What does it suggest about the ‘dignity’ of the office of the Prime Minister that its holder and his small army of staff would allow such a missive to hit the mailbag without anyone having checked it for errors or legibility ? That no one, at any point, applied even the most basic standard of proofreading that an average piece of business correspondence would be subject to ?

What does it suggest about the ‘dignity’ of the office that its holder would believe that a letter which looks like it was written by a two year old ADHD sufferer is in any way an acceptable way to pass on the condolences of that office ?

The same spokesman points out that Brown spends “a great deal of time” writing these letters. Maybe so. But it doesn’t come across that way. It certainly didn’t to Jacqui Janes who called the letter a

“hastily scrawled insult”

Oh, The Poor Dear

But we should forgive him, right ? Because he’s got a disability innit ? It’s against his human rights or something. Fuck off. Gordon knows his writing is practically illegible, everyone in his office knows it. No one even bothered to proof read it. You can’t hide that behind a shield of PC outrage.

Every single piece of written correspondence I ever send – aside from greetings cards and post cards – is word processed, spell checked, and proof read to within an inch of its life to prevent me from sending out stuff that makes me look like a spaz. If I were to hand write something important, I would give it to a sighted person to make sure they could read it. Then I would probably reconsider and type it.

“Ah, but” say the apologists, “then you’d be complaining that it wasn’t personal, that Gordon was just mass producing these letters”.

“Fuck off, apologists” I would reply, pointing out that were someone to attempt to make political capital out of such an accusation, it would be exceedingly easily refuted by noting that because Gordon knows his writing is difficult to read, and because he knows that such letters are so very important, and because he takes them so seriously he has taken the time to make sure that his heartfelt words are legible. That each letter is unique to some extent is, of course, easily verifiable by collecting a few together and comparing them. Easy peasy, see ?

Why Is This Even News ?

“Well, look ” continue the apologists, “all that may be true, but hey, it was one letter, surely there are more important things to worry about”, this being the second plank of their now tiresomely familiar “lets just move on” strategy.

But let’s not move on, let’s dwell a while and continue to pick the scab. This is news, and important news. It is important because of what it says about the office of the Prime Minister. Would that it were not so, but in our particular political structure, this is the most important office in the land. It is the nexus of our national decision making process.

Surely then, we should scrutinise the holder. This incident, like so many others, demonstrates that the holder is a man utterly incapable of admitting his own failings, to the extent that he even denies having made the spelling mistakes. A man so arrogant that despite knowing his writing is practically unreadable does not arrange for his correspondence to be proof read. A man so bad at political management that he hasn’t been able to hire anyone who can (or who dares to) back stop him.

Collectively, the Downing Street team have demonstrated a level of political awareness more appropriate to a solipsist in a coma. This was predictable, preventable, and should have been easily managed when it blew up in Brown’s face.

And as a final insult, this is a man, and a team, who having placed themselves in a position of having such an appalling lack of judgement exposed, rather than simply fess up and apologise for the whole thing unreservedly, are so incapable of admitting their culpability that they are – quietly and subtly – about to play the disability card.

And that is the card that you save for the very last hand.

Gordon Is A Moron

None of this, make no mistake, has come about because Gordon has a disability. This has come about because Gordon is massive twat. All the PC by proxy idiots who were out in force yesterday saying “oh go on, leave him alone, he can’t help it” are aiding and abetting him in remaining a massive twat.

Sending a letter to a grieving mother and spelling her son’s name wrong is simply indefensible. Insisting that it is excused by a disability is insulting to those of us who share that disability and recognise this as nothing more than an egregious error of judgement.

Wall Fall Part 1: Lessons On The Database State – From the Stasi

The Wall Came Tumbling Down

On Monday it will be twenty years since the government of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik finally conceded victory to the millions of massed demonstrators demanding the end of their oppressive regime and opened the gates in the Berlin Wall, presaging the fall of the Soviet Union.

While crowds streamed across the border to the West and ‘freedom’, lights burned through the night at the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit. Well, lights burned there every night, the Stasi, like New York, never slept. Also like New York this made them paranoid and creepy.

But on this night, and on every subsequent night until the evening of January 15th, 1990 when demonstrators occupied the building, the lights probably flickered as well. During this time, the Stasi officers inside had been shredding documents. By January 15, it has been estimated that they had managed to destroy 45 million pages. Reckoned to be a mere 5% of their files. Most of these files contained intimate details of the lives of the ‘citizens’ of the DDR.

Reuters carries the stories of some of those citizens, and the effects upon their lives of their Stasi files.

BERLIN (Reuters)For decades, Joachim Fritsch struggled to understand why he was being denied access to higher education and passed over for job promotions again and again.

Then he got hold of a 400-page file East Germany’s dreaded secret police had compiled on him. The Stasi had arrested him back in the mid-1950s when he was just 17 years old and branded him a “provocateur” for failing to produce his identity card.

Harsh is the regime which would brand a callow youth untouchable for life.

The First Corner Case

The Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007 – a statutory instrument enabled by Section 12 of The Children Act 2004 – established the ‘ContactPoint’ database. According to the DCSF bumf

ContactPoint is an online directory holding basic contact information for all children. The directory is designed to ensure that there is easier and faster contact between professionals who work with children.

Even a brief skim of the enabling legislation shows this to be somewhat lacking, far more information is proposed to be stored than that. For instance Section 12 of the Children Act states that the database should record, for every child on the database.

information as to the existence of any cause for concern in relation to him;

As a parliamentary committee observed when the legislation was being debated, this is “an extremely subjective and open-ended phrase which is almost bound to include very sensitive information about a child”

We couldn’t damage a child much appending the word “provocateur” to their record, in the current political climate it is practically meaningless. It has been speculated, however, that we could achieve a similar effect to that observed above by applying the epithet ‘racist’. It is, of course, mere speculation.

The Second Corner Case

Fritsch was arrested for failing to identify himself when stopped by the police.

10 yards down the street however, we were stopped by a police medic who asked what my name was.

“I’m not so sure I want to tell you that” was my first response to this question, unwilling to comply with any attempts to draw me into casual conversation.

“Look, if you’re not going to tell me your name, I’m going to arrest you and we can get your name at the station” came the not so friendly reply.

Not a quote from Herr Fritsch, but a blog post by a member of Lancaster UAF reporting their experiences attending the recent demonstration by the UAF in Leeds against members of the EDL.

Police operations on that day were being conducted under the aegis of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, “Powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence”, so by no means an ordinary set of circumstances. It should perhaps be noted that nowhere in it’s text does Section 60 give officers the power to arrest people for failing to identify themselves.

The Third Corner Case

Back to Reuters again :

Many people apply in order to prove they were unjustly imprisoned, to clear their criminal record and claim compensation for any time spent in jail.

“In a dictatorship, you don’t get any proof of what happened,” said Fritsch, who was twice imprisoned by the Stasi, and whose family distanced itself from him to escape Stasi persecution.

Fritsch, of course, had no idea why the Stasi had imprisoned him.

Up to 20 men regarded as Britain’s most dangerous terror suspects can challenge their detention after Britain’s highest court ruled that three of them had been denied a fair trial.

The men, who have been held under virtual house arrest under the Government’s control order regime, won the unanimous backing of a panel of nine law lords, on the grounds that the suspects did not know what they were accused of or what evidence was being used against them.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson called the judgment “extremely disappointing”, adding: “Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder.

“Nevertheless, the Government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism.

“All control orders will remain in force for the time being and we will continue to seek to uphold them in the courts. In the meantime, we will consider this judgement and our options carefully.

Apocalypse Now

So terrified were we of having to live under a regime such as that practised by the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit and it’s various Eastern Block contemporaries that we were prepared to engage in a nuclear war to prevent it from happening. So real was this possibility that the UK issued Civil Defence advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear war.

As previously mentioned on this blog, even a limited nuclear exchange would have utterly devastating consequences, and not just for those directly involved.

Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found.

Hyperbole ?

Could be, couldn’t it ? All the above listed similarities are, of course, corner cases, they involve the intersection of emotive things like child protection, racism and national security.

Tomorrow, in Wall Fall Part 2, I’ll take a closer look at the kinds of information that the Stasi collected and used for political control, and some of the ways they went about collecting it. Then we can ask the question again : “Is this just hyperbole ?”

Shiny Babules I Have Grasped This Week

Time to take a very brief break from hoisting bile about the place and look at some things that I’ve actually liked this week, and when I say this week, I mean last week, because this was supposed to go up on Saturday but I was busy writing something else.

No News is good news

I like news, me. On a pacey news day, I lke to keep track of several channels at once. Up until now, if I wanted one of those to be SKY I had to get up and put the TV on, but yesterday I noticed that you can view SKY News live on line from their website. Good Oh.

For other news channels I also like Zattoo and Livestation. Both of which give access you a number of news channels that you can watch on your desktop. Shiny.

Still on the subject of news, an excellent BBC Newswatch program which focuses on changing audience attitudes to news delivery and the effect of new media, mobile tech, and social networking on the news agenda.

Not on iPlayer, but you can watch the latest episode here.

Twitter Toys

I seem to be getting more and more into twitter, which is a great surprise to me, because I have no time at all for, e.g., facebook.

This week I have played with various bits if twitter tomfoolery, as previously mentioned I have quite enjoyed @tweetminster’s Tweetminster Wire, which is a twitter client for aggregating MPs’ and PPCs’ tweets, as well as various other things.

There are two slight drawbacks with it (but then it is in beta), firstly you have to keep refreshing it, and secondly most MPs are fucking tedious. Still, it lets you see who’s tweeting during #pmqs, which is frankly what we all want to know.

Next is a web based app called TrendMaps which shows twitter trends by geographic location, allegedly in real time. Neat.

Finally, another web app Twitterfall which is pretty useful for watching twitter witch hunts, or keeping abreast of the shouting during #bbcqt. Twitterfall presents a waterfall like animated display of tweets matching your chosen search term, you can adjust the speed of the display to suit. Quite handy when there is a high volume of tweets on a hashtag and you want to get a good sample of them.

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