So after last weeks inaugural Friday Fiver, this week I thought we would stay seasonal.

For this Friday Fiver November has become Movember around the UK. The objective,

by growing “Mo’s” to “raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. As an independent global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.”

A good buddy is once again joining the ranks of the hirsute. It’s not easy, but it must be said he goes for it with some elan. So first of all kudos is due and so is your support!

For those of you interested in donating, why not here? Give a buddy some support. After all he’s giving up looking like a woman for a whole month! (no way you were getting away without something)

So for Paul, and every other MoBro or MoSis out there. Bravo Zulu.

Carry on.

poppyI feel like bricking the TV at this time of year. The news with it constant parade of politicians wearing poppies, laying wreaths and talking of sacrifice when the closest most of them come to it is forgetting to claim their latest heating bill.

An endless stream of hypocrisy wearing as sincere a face as possible before returning the following day to sip coffee and consider their latest foreign adventure to rescue oil or rare metals from the evil clutches of those who demand too high a price from their financial backers.

These same politicians are happy to spend money on their own housing portfolios but neglect to buy enough body armour for young people they send to war. They would rather send overseas aid to countries with nuclear weapons and space programs rather than buy enough helicopters for troops forced to slog through hostile country. They would rather spend money on covering up NHS blunders rather than provide adequate treatment facilities for those troops who give their bodies in service.

They have cut all the forces beyond the minimum. We have a Royal Navy without ships, a RAF without aircraft and an Army lacking in troops. We even rip up the covenant and discard those that have served nearly their entire working life to save a few pounds to throw away elsewhere. Perhaps spending £1000 on an investigation into who embarrassed a mayor by publicising her disdain for those serving, rather than actually learning to show respect in the first place.

Yet they are happy to keep joining conflicts so they can feel important at diplomatic functions.

The hypocrisy does not end there. Bad things happen in conflicts.

All friends now

All friends now

Afterwards it appears that amnesties and forgiveness can be extended to our enemy. But not to our own troops.

It is not even just those in uniform that are cynically used. Those that work in support can be spent like ammunition in pursuit of political ideology. Jobs and livelihoods culled to buy votes.

So forgive me if I consider simply wearing a poppy, or retweeting a photo barely absolves us of our responsibility towards those that fight in our name. Yes they do a professional job that they agreed to do. But they deserve more than the faux platitudes of hypocritical politicians.

So, rather than dig out a few copper coins and buy a poppy because you feel you have to, next time you see a homeless soldier don’t just spare some change spare a couple of minutes to say hi.

The more thinking amongst you may be saying “great, but what’s this guy doing as well as spouting online?”

Fair point.

Well obviously the Royal British Legion get my support. One of the local shops allows you to round your purchases up to make a donation so I’ve been doing that all month. Help for heroes make really good t-shirts that feel good whilst allowing you to do some good.

However I had some crap news today and so in memory of someone I will miss I though I’d start an irregular piece on here. I moan and heckle a lot I know. So rather than just be negative all the time I will start the Friday Fiver.

Five of your actual English pounds...

Five of your actual English pounds…


I’m not rich by any means, but I reckon if I can afford hobbies, computers and mobile phones then I should be able to do more regular giving. So occasionally I pledge to donate a fiver on a Friday, and spend some time and effort promoting a charity on here.

So in memory of the only other sailor in my family, I thought I’d start with something nautical.

Seafarers UK is maritime charity that supports and promotes the many organisations that look after seafarers in need across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines, together with their families.

Their website is far more eloquent than I can be on their works. Please visit it and have a read. They make it very easy to donate. They even accept paypal. So be better than a politician and actually do some good. If not the seafarers, then make a small difference for the better somewhere else. Never know it may just make a difference.

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.

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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.

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So the War on TeenagersTM continues. Now apparently they should have to wait until 19 before being allowed to drive having passed a test at least as difficult as that every other driver took. The reason of course, safety. Younger drivers are more likely to have an accident.

No shit sherlock!

Younger people lack experience. In every facet of life. The only way they gain it is by living. By segregating and singling them out we isolate them. Do not be surprised when society grants young adult less rights than everyone else that they decide society can collectively go f**k itself.

We already grant them less right to a minimum wage, we make special laws to limit their liberty, we limit their access to the benefit system and make them dependent on parents who have no legal obligation to support them for their higher education.

In short we treat them like second class citizens. All the while they are forced to pay the same rate of tax and have the same legal responsibilities as an adult.

But they are more likely to hurt themselves and others people cry! Maybe. But so are older drivers, those that have drink driving convictions, or those simply driving in rural areas. Should we impose restrictions on these groups as well? Or is it simpler to single out the young simply because a) they cannot vote until the first election after their 18th birthday and b)tend not to vote anyway?

If we are to ban anything dangerous then why stop there? Smoking should be banned entirely. Dangerous sports? Best get rid of them. How about things that cause high blood pressure like pontificating sound bite seeking politicians? Well, I think most of us can agree on that one…

For the record. I am not a teenager. Sadly I am far from my teens. I don’t even particularly like teens. But when we treat one section of society as deserving of less rights than the rest of us why should any teen aspire to take part or even respect the society they are presented with? If it were any other part of society I suspect education not restriction would be proposed.

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.

So Google “do evil” according to self anointed head of the tax inquisition Margaret Hodge MP. They did after all pay only £2.3m corporation tax on a £3.2bn turnover in the UK. Seems a bit dodgy I think we can all agree.

Two things here, I’ll start with the hypocrisy first, and there is an MPs expense list sized shitload of it.

Hodge is a shareholder in steel company Stemcor. Her family company (which include trusts and holding in the name of her children in order to avoid inheritance tax) latest accounts show that the business paid tax of just £163,000 on revenues of £2.1bn in 2011. Less than 1/100 of 1%. There are of course spluttered excuses that the company pays all the tax it owes under law and that she has no direct control (since she put it in trusts and her sprogs names to avoid even more tax)

If you really want to choke on your conrflakes you can see her excuses trotted out here. (Students of body language, enjoy!)

or here

After all she is on record as saying “The tax you owe is a duty. It’s an obligation.”.

So here’s my second point.

They both obey the law. Maybe not the moral one we’d all like to see followed, but I suspect they have an army of highly paid accountants ensuring they follow the letter of the law. Like MPs who scammed the system, like public sector chiefs who pack remuneration boards with cronies, technically they have done nothing wrong.

And who drafted the laws? Who decided on one of the most complicated tax codes in the world? MPs. Especially those that seem to have an interest in the countries taxation system. MPs like the Queen of hypocrisy Hodge.

So before she drags more companies in to try and embarrass them into voluntarily filling up the exchequer, Companies that employ people who actually pay income tax, national insurance, VAT, fuel tax, council tax, inheritance tax & capital gains tax to name just a few (and so unlike her and the rest of her scumbag colleagues) Maybe Hodge ought to have a long hard look at herself and her holdings in tax avoiding Stemcor.

After all if it’s so bad, then why isn’t there a law against it, or if it is why isn’t it enforced?

BBC radio 4 is dangerous. This morning I think I nearly burst a blood vessel listening to the piece on universal credit. If you think I make this stuff up check the iPlayer for about 0720 on the Today program..

Anyway, to the point. Universal credit pilot schemes were the hot topic this morning. They had duly wheeled in some of those about to be effected. Of particular note was the “disabled” lorry driver. His name escapes me, let’s call him Jim for the minute.

So, Jim was a driver for many years and then struck down by some form of illness (he did not specify) that prevents him doing any work. Not just driving but anything. Nope, can’t write, can’t read, can’t lift a sheet of paper or press keys on a keyboard. None of it.

The interviewer put it to him that the new scheme (whether it functions that way or not) was intended to ensure that if he worked, however little that he would be better off. Nope, couldn’t possibly. If he worked he would lose. No matter what the interviewer said he was adamant and refused to accept that you could possibly be better off. So no point is there?

Then the real blood boiler. He was told that all your benefits would be rolled up and paid in one payment to the claimant. a recipe for chaos, death, destruction, homelessness and destitution apparently. People can’t be expected to have to remember to pay bills or rent! Nope the state should do all that for them. They should be able to live effectively as pampered pets because it’s all just so stressful and doesn’t help Jim ‘s illness, which is incurable you know? But of course Jim still needs a big house so his kids can come stay (divorced, quel surprise?) This man cannot be responsible enough to take money given to him for free and move it from one place to another. He cannot be trusted to be treated like an adult to have to fill out a direct debit form, or sign a cheque, or simply go to the post office and make a fucking payment with the money that is given to him for nothing. Jim is angry that someone expects him to be trustworthy enough to pay the rent with money he is given to maintain the house his kids come to, but he thinks it his human right to be trusted in sole charge of children. Jim lost his right to be treated like an adult long ago.

Do I appear bereft of sympathy and the milk of human kindness? That’s because I am. Jim serves no purpose, he refuses to make an iota of effort to help himself. He wallows in his illness and victimhood. To be utterly honest I wish he’d hurry up and die. Given the choice of having the wages I spent years getting training and experience to be able to earn, the money I drag my arse out of bed for every working day and spend the bulk of my week away from the people I’d rather spend it with, the money taken from me by threat of force, that money; given the choice, I’d rather it went to people I care about, rather than a lazy waster who cannot even manage to take that money given to him for free and be bothered to pay a bill that benefits him with it.

Jim wants to be treated like cattle. To be housed, fed and entertained. All without any effort on his part. So treat him like one. Cattle do not get a say in how the farm is run. They are simply herded from the field to the abattoir. The American revolutionaries used the slogan “No taxation without representation”. If the equation is taxation=representation, then the opposite is also true. If you do not pay tax you should not get a say in how it is spent.

Just once, I’d love the interviewer to ask “what have you done to help yourself?”… Mind you, they’d probably ask for a helper to answer for them. too much like hard work.

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