Archive for the ‘My two-penneth’ Category

Yep. I’m still here and still sane. Just about.

This was a post I started writing a while ago but today’s antics gave me cause to finish it. I know I’ve not ranted in a while but had to get this off my chest following the last few exercises in democracy.

When did everyone become such bad losers? How did we move from accepting (maybe grudgingly) that our party, or point of view was not the majority and dealt with it like adults, instead becoming screaming hysterical snowflakes demanding another vote, or that it simply be ignored, or for the more tin foil hat types that it must be some form of covert ploy by hitherto unseen cabals?

I grant that the last UK general election, EU referendum and now the US election have thrown up unexpected results. But so what? Since when does that mean democracy itself is broken? How does that imbue those who feel they’ve lost with some victimhood status that they can wail and scream and demand they still get their way?

More simply, what the fuck happened to people?

The ability to accept and enact public votes is one of the cornerstones of a civilised culture. By all means disagree with, work against the current decision and start campaigning for a future change. But the incessant tantrums and screams that it cannot have been a fair vote since it didn’t go their way just sound like a toddler who’s been told no sweets.

Seriously? Is that how we’re going to run things now? We can have democracy as long as democracy gives the right results?…. Or to put it another way. Suck it up snowflake.

No seriously, fuck right off.

After a year of radio silence that is the message I wish to convey.

After the murder of an MP by a deluded fascist nut job, I am heartily sick of the pro-EU hand wringers wheeling out their argument that although they in absolutely no way wish to politicise such a hideous event, if you don’t vote how they want then you’re some form of sexist racist homophobic fascist who probably gases immigrant kittens for kicks.

So my message to them is simple.
Fuck off. When you’ve finished fucking off, fuck off some further.

How dare you equate extremists with people who have perfectly legitimate concerns about the political tyranny overtaking the EU and wish to think globally instead. How dare you try to use sympathy for a bereaved family to support a purely political agenda to support a regime that usurps elected governments to impose technocratic puppet leaderships.

Of course any right minded person feels utterly terrible for the grieving family. Same as for every murdered policeman, teacher, nurse or even *gasp* an unemployed person. I don’t see their families getting calls from Obama or parliament recalled? The only people reacting differently are the political establishment and Westminster echo chamber that are suddenly faced with some of the shit the rest of the electorate have to deal with.

By all means vote however you want. In or out, don’t care. It’ll make little difference. Want to try and convince me one way or the other? Feel free. Try and propagandise an act of terror or murder and claim unless I agree with you I’m as bad? Fuck right off.

Oh, almost forgot. May contain profanities.

Scotland eh?

Grim up north...

Grim up north…


Now obviously this was written before the referendum, so maybe it’s all proved pointless (they remained in the UK) or maybe the worst fears have come to pass (a dead heat). But given the bile now being spewed by both sides north of the wall you’d expect me to have a view wouldn’t you? (even though not scottish)

So should Jockistan be an independent country?

Simple premise isn’t it but there is so much at stake, so much given as a reason either to support or oppose the idea. So much bullshit or denying the obvious.

So on the hot topics…
Will they keep the £? Well, if they want to. There is absolutely nothing to stop them using it. They can use any currency they like, they could use euros, dollar or doubloons to be honest. What they cannot realistically expect is currency union, to have their financial and banking system continue to be underwritten by the UK taxpayers. So in continuing to use the £ they cede all fiscal power to an unaccountable authority in another country.

Will they save the NHS? Even the fraction they already run north of the wall is monolithic and nigh unsteerable. There will be hard decisions ahead. It will cost more in the future, treatments will cost more and they will lose economies of scale and the ability to send people south easily for treatment – after all will the UK NHS want to be seen using scarce funding subsidising NuScotland?

Will they be more prosperous? There is oil, gas and whisky. But as capital flight takes hold there will be an impact on the financial industry. Shipbuilding will suffer as the UK MPs will find it hard to justify spending defence budgets in foreign countries instead of supporting local economies.

Will they stay in NATO? They claim to want to do so, but want all nuclear weapons removed as “they are abhorrent”. Seems a bit rich to want the protection and membership of an organisation dedicated to a mutual nuclear deterrent, but refuse to contribute and indeed cause all manner of problems for the existing members. Tricky…

Will they get to stay in the EU? They say they can join immediately. The actual members of the EU say different. Hard to see how you can force a club to let you join against members will. Many countries have independence movements of their own they are dealing with and the realpolitik is that they will make it as hard as they can for NuScotland to join, so they will be forced to accept Schengen, Euro, EU financial controls etc..

So from all these you may think I’m against the proposal. After all as the UK we have achieved much, defeated tyranny, lead the abolition of slavery, created the NHS, created a welfare state to envy of the world, lead the world in industrial and scientific innovation. All of these from a union of nations not a conquest.

But I’m not. Not a single one of the topics above actually matters. I hope they vote yes, go their own way and stand on their kilted legs.
Why?
Mainly because it’s democratic. It moves power away from the centre towards those that foot the bill for it all.
Because it promotes equality. Those left in the UK will not longer faced with scottish MPs who helped give us tuition fees and social care costs whilst all the time helping their constituents avoid them.
Because I’m tired of England being the whipping boy for all Scotlands issues. I’m sure like any politician they’ll blame the last administration. But they’ll no longer have an easy excuse.
Because if they remain, they will now be privileged members of the union. Bribed with others taxes with a greater say, greater funding per head and protected positions.

Finally because it’ll be the beginning.
We will see more clamour for accountability. Wales & NI may well want more of a say in how they are run. England certainly will, and perhaps the regions of England.
Will this effect our global standing? Probably. So what? Why does it matter if we can tell other countries what to do? The first duty of the government is security of the nation, not governing other nations.

Well I suppose it was only a matter of time before the witch hunts began. Vast swathes of the South now feature on the shipping forecast, homes now have as many moats as MPs and the major crop in Somerset could be be rice paddies.
8023044254_4a2bcdb37e_c
The search for someone to blame is well and truly under way. The Met Office will cop for some in true “shoot the messenger” style, despite the fact that forecasting an event in no way stops it. Next will be the Environment Agency for not doing enough – who will in turn claim that funding cuts have prevented them doing enough to prevent the floods. Then of course, politicians of every hue will blame every other politician for previous funding, inadequate planning, jobs for the boys, manning levels and so on.

Here’s the unfortunate truth.

If you get an absolute shitload of rain in a relatively short period of time on waterlogged ground you will get flooding.

No amount of dredging small rivers, sustainable drainage, urban planning or even wishful thinking will prevent this. Flood plains and river systems will flood. If you then build homes in these areas they will get flooded.

Pretending otherwise is nonsensical. It is possible to alleviate effects a bit, we can reduce the extent of floods, we can maybe flood proof structures. But the expense in time money and resources to say we will protect against all flooding? Utter madness.

What should be of more concern right now is the causes of the dominating weather patterns we have seen. Mainly due to the position of the jetstream across the UK-I am sure the debate will begin whether this is a more permanent shift in climate driven by changes in the Atlantic, or a temporary aberration about a more usual mean. I say debate, more likely a bunfight for research grants for everyone to prove their own pet theories.

My advice? Learn to live with nature, because it’ll kick your arse every time otherwise.

So last week saw the highest flood surge on the eastern coast of the UK in several generations. Tides locally beat anything measured in over a century. People were evacuated from at risk areas as chaos ensued across the region as power went down and roads were blocked

I witnessed the efforts of emergency services, local authority staff and other agencies combating the elements into the night in cold, dark wet conditions to try and help those effected. So whilst I am not always the states biggest supporter when I read this today I felt compelled to weigh in.

For those not familiar to the area Port Clarence is one of the most deprived areas of Teesside, it is also well known to be at risk of flooding, to the extent it gets its own flood warning area.

So despite the numerous warnings for days before, on TV, radio, websites, twitter, rss feeds, apparently not enough was done.

Such as what exactly?

It’s a flood. It’s an enormous body of water inundating the land. What exactly do you think is going to be done? Even royalty as long ago as the 10th century figured out they could not prevent the tides.

King Cnut. Even he worked it out...

King Cnut. Even he worked it out…

I suspect what people actually mean is they don’t want to be effected by these events. Well guess what, nature doesn’t give a shit what you want. If you live on a flood plain at some point you will get flooded. Same as if you live on the slopes of a volcano at some point your house may get covered in magma. Stop expecting everyone else to bail you out. If you managed to remain unaware that there was anything about to happen last week then to be frank, you are a moron, especially if you live in a flood risk area. Hell – there was so much info about it I was sick of hearing about it.

There are free warning services you can sign up for, all you have to do is register. Yet people who expect others to warn them, protect them, clean up for them and provide funds to replace their damages seem unable to lift a single finger to that extent to help themselves. It’s your home, take some bloody responsibility for it. Make some preparations. Maybe flood proof it, get adequate insurance, or if it’s all just too much like hard work? Move somewhere else. I suspect if as much effort went into protecting homes as voting on reality bloody TV shows we’d never have an issue.

As for all the guys who worked long and hard into the night in difficult and sometimes hazardous conditions evacuating, feeding, rescuing, pumping out, directing traffic, restoring power, protecting buildings, warning others, providing medical aid to name but a few, you’d think just maybe there’d be a bit of gratitude…

Here’s just a couple of warning services / pages. Took me all of 2 seconds to find. You’d think if you lived somewhere at risk you might make the effort don’t you?
Flood warnings direct (free service in at risk areas)
EA RSS flood feeds

3139932232_2fbbb87822_bQuick article on Beeb regarding change in facebook policy. Apparently it is up to users to condemn videos of beheadings.

It really does speak volumes for us doesn’t it? We can allow murders to be videoed and shared, but if a woman goes topless, or Dawkins forbid 2 people consent to be videoed doing something perfectly natural we scream for the censor and create social taboos around it.

Got to wonder if that’s the right way round.

mask
As some may know, I enjoy a bit of a play on twitter now and then. I find the immediacy entertaining, not to mention the continual amounts of “fail” that occurs when corporations or overblown egos come face to face with the real public and are unable to avoid their responses.

I especially love the idea that politicians and those who seek power feel compelled to actually engage. If a tweet is framed reasonably it must be tough to avoid answering. Occasionally you get answers which is more than any other medium provides.

Anyway, in response to one of my tweets the leader of Stockton Borough Council, Robert Cook engaged…
ccok tweet

The awful grammar of someone who is in charge of a public authority aside, his point being I do not use my real name.

Is it a fair one? After all I do not use my real name here either, and I am on occasion somewhat disparaging about some people in positions of power.

In response, I think no.

There are several reasons I prefer to remain largely anonymous (largely as a fair few people know full well who I am)

My main concern is that of my loved ones. Those who take issue with matters of fact yet want to know your name are seeking to make it personal. They want to play the man not the ball. If they are prepared to do that then they may be prepared to attack those near to me convicted of their guilt by association. I am not willing to risk their professional or personal well being.

Next it is precisely because they wish to make it personal. Without a name they must engage the point, the topic or the argument. They cannot sidestep valid points of question so easily. Since I make no points using my past behaviour as a supporting argument then my past behaviours or positions are irrelevant.

Lastly protection. I may be employed in a sensitive position, I may be in charge of a controversial project, I may do business with those I criticise and wish to keep taking their money, or it may be more personal. Perhaps, yes, I am your father.
luke_i_am_your_father

So I guess my point here would be. Why do you want to know? I am not seeking gain power over my fellow man. Quite the opposite I wish I could be left alone. I do not seek to tell others how to live, I would have us leave each to live how they chose. I do not seek to take your earnings, your liberty or your belongings. Why does my name matter?

At best because you want to check I am a voter of yours. That’s cynical and makes points no less valid. At worst it is so you can attack me personally instead of my arguments. Even more cynical, intellectually and morally bankrupt and does nothing to argue against any point I may make.

So in my more usual language. Stop avoiding the question and actually give the people that pay for these arse-brained ideas an answer.

Much internet fun to be had on twitter right now, but belies a serious topic.

Porn Tsar & MP Claire Perry responding to a clamour from Parents, voters, the Daily Mail had touted a plan to force ISPs to filter internet content according to an approved list given by the Ministry of Truth, Government.

This, of course, was all in the name of protecting the kiddies from the Tsunami of filth that lurks online ready to pounce onto unsuspecting 5 year olds and drag them off to be trafficked to BBC DJs.

Adults would be able to opt out of this censorship filtering, but further into the proposed great British firewall plan was the intention to log all search terms and report them to Governemnt agencies.

So why am I against it you surely cry? Why am I happy to sacrifice the innocents upon the alter of liberty?

Well firstly, and simply, it is bullshit. It fails on every point.

It will save exactly zero abuses. Predators do not use google to satisfy their urges. A voluntary filter will not prevent ftp traffic, emails, usb flash drives, or secure connections.

Filtering and blocking websites can be circumvented as any teenager who wishes to pirate music can tell you.

Dozy bint Perry MP conflates perfectly legal porn with images of abuse. Whether your tastes extend to looking at the Daily Mail side bar, or to tamer rude videos the fact remains they are legal. Why should a puritanical MP wheeling out moral bandwagons force you to effectively register to be able to view them? Because that info would never end up on say, a CRB check to become a teacher or foster carer would it?

The issue of child abuse does not require more law. It requires the enforcing of the ones we have. It is already a crime. What it needs is the hard work of coppers supporting to prosecute and punish properly individuals who perpetrate such acts. It is heinous and should not be equated with porn, fetishists or anything else the moral crusaders deem inappropriate on your behalf.

If you want some idea of how technologically literate Perry is, she was advised earlier this week that her own website was insecure.

Lo, and behold! the following day her site was hacked and filled with porn. Not illegal abuse images, just run of the mill smut. This was reported on the political blog Guido Fawkes. It is important to note the word reported there.

Claire Perry immediately took to twitter…

That’s right. She accused him of hosting the porn (actually it was her site doing the hosting), hacking her site, and sponsoring the attack. She then went on to try and bully him into removing the report by threatening his paid work at the Sun

As of now the allegations remain up, despite being asked to remove them. She offered no proof other than her outrage, and she has disappeared off of twitter whilst anyone having passing knowledge of a computer rips into her about not knowing her screen grabs from her hyperlinks. Following a readers poll it appears Guido has instigated legal proceedings over the allegations.

So the upshot? She has probably killed off any chance of her policy making it through. It is just a power grab on the ability to censor the net after all. even a Tory website has torn her to shreds over secret plans to exaggerate ISP success at filtering. The real responsibility for looking after children lies where it always has done. With parents. As I have remarked before, if you wouldn’t let your kids talk in the streets with a stranger, or chat on their mobile with a stranger in the dead of night, why do you think it is ok to let them do it on a computer?

Your children, your responsibility

So few last words. First up this was ISP Andrews and Arnolds response to the prospect of China like censorship of the net in the UK
selection

and finally, apparently this may be Claire Perry MP briefing her tech team about the internet

After Phorm and Prism that we know about, do you really trust the politicians to tell you what you can read?

In this case I’m thinking of 16 and 17 year olds. Not in that way you dirty minded sods… But a few things about on how we give them such a raw deal. It’s no wonder they’re pissed off and angry. They have every right to be as far as I can tell.

Essentially we demand they act like adults, we heap the responsibility of adulthood upon them, except when it comes to considering their opinion. So they can join the armed forces, they can accept the responsibility of parenthood and marriage, they can have what little they manage to earn pillaged by the taxman under threat of force. But when it comes to considering them as a person in the own right? No vote, the means test for their eligibility to access funds for education depends on their parents – not on whether their parents are willing to pay mind you. They aren’t entitled to a full minimum wage, they do not receive the same consideration for emergency housing. Basically we shit on them.

As someone whose late teens were somewhat strained I sympathise with them greatly, I was lucky and had great friends to help me out and look out for me, not all are so fortunate. We should either grant them the full protection and support that children are entitled to, or better yet treat them as adults. Grant them the respect any other adult would demand, consider them as a person in their own right not simply an extension of their parents. Maybe then we would actually have the right to expect them to behave as such.

Right. I suspect there will be some offensive language on this post, consider yourself warned.

Gay marriage is in the news. Apparently some MPs (mainly old, male and tory) are dead against the sort of shenanigans that some MPs (mainly old, male and tory) get up to becoming recognised in law. So they’re tabling amendments to try and wreck the passage of the bill to allow gay marriage.

“It’s wrong!” the exclaim, “unnatural”, “it will undermine the sanctity of marriage” and off course my favourite “against [deity of choice here]’s will”

So here’s my issue. What the flying fuck has it got to do with anyone else whether two consenting adults who love each other and want to make a commitment recognised in law to each other do?

What gives these self important twats the right to decide how others live? Don’t agree with gay marriage, fine, don’t fucking get one. I don’t agree with lots of things. Guess what? I don’t do them. I do not get to impose my values on everyone else. (Otherwise I could beat boy bands to death).

If you seek to impose your values on others you better have some damn good evidence. Not just a book of fairy tales, but evidence. It will not undermine marriage. I’m married (yes really!) and guess what will happen to our marriage the day following gay marriage being permitted? Nothing. Not a fucking thing. I will still be as happy and in love as ever, I suspect I will still get moaned at for not doing the washing up/hoovering/leaving pants on the floor. The only difference is that I may get an invite to more weddings.

If the whole idea makes you uneasy, uncomfortable or outraged. Guess whose problem that it? Yours and yours alone. Stop making it others. Stop making excuses for being a bigot. Live your life how you want and do others the same courtesy.

…and if your imaginary friend tells you it’s wrong then tell him/her/it to come see me and I’ll tell them to stop being a bigoted homophobic prick as well.

now to lighten the mood, here’s George Takei being far more eloquent, humourous and forgiving than I can manage.

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