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Friday, July 30, 2010


i, along with many others, live with a complex web of fears.
a fear of failure.
a fear of heights.
a fear of clowns dressed as squirrels.
a fear of lifts.
a fear of commitment.
a fear of loneliness.
a fear of drowning.
a fear of being buried alive.
a fear of fire (martian manhunter suffered from that as well).
a fear of following through when farting.
a fear of flying.
a fear of appearing naked in the street.
a fear of watching x-factor.
i am sure all these fears have names and therapists who will happily drain the cash out of pockets and accounts as they provide a ‘cure’.
i am not sure that they can help with my new fear.
i fear that i might turn into a daily mail reader, even worse one who writes on their message boards and accuses them of being liberal.

if it ever happens you have my permission to shoot me. i fear that is the only cure.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


stumbled across a little website/ programme that claims to tell you who you write like.
i'll have a go at that i thought.

choose a blog piece. chucked it in. the statistical tools of the programme kick in and it kicks out who i write like.
yeah like it works.

first piece in.
first author out: william gibson. oh yeah i am liking this. of course me and the father of cyberpunk have a lot in commmon. he has invented a genre, i have read his books. we are best buddies.

second piece in.
second author: mario puzzo. even better. i loved the godfather as a book, loved it even more as a movie (and i am just about to watch godfather part 2). this programme is amazing. who knew puzzo wrote so much? not me. ok i was less than keen on his superman screenplay; hey can't love everything.

third piece in.
james joyce. they are saying i write like james joyce. might be the sweary words i use. might be the odd punctuation i use. it might be the dense multi-layered post-modern breaking the fourth wall style i employ (which is a polite way of saying: makes little sense). me and james joyce, who would have thunk it. creative kissing cousins.

just chucked this bit in and it tells me i write like cory doctrow.
just kidding cory i know who you are, i download your books because you are keen on the copyfight, so i think it is only fair i don't pay for your work either.

thank fuck it didn't say i shared a style with jeffrey archer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


two years until the london 2012 olympics start.
i am quite excited. i wasn't at first. now i am.
it has nothing to do with the fact i am hoping to get a job with the olympics. not at all. not that i feel they owe me.
two years. true it does mean a lot more of boris without a tie, but it is a small cost.
bring them on.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


i confess i quite like channel 5 and its digital channels.
i can get a pretty constant diet of csi - always worth a look because of the work of david (i have taken over the top scenery chewing into a whole new dimension) caruso.
i can get a regular hit of jean claude van damme and steven seagal movies (so much so that i wonder why i bought the darned dvds).
every now and then they even put on an imported series that is good.

mostly 5 and sister channels has you wondering can it get worse?

answer yes.

richard desmond has just bought the channel.
richard desmond is the publisher of the daily star, daily express, ok magazine and a bunch of top shelf magazines.

does this mean a new career for katie price as a serious journalist? kerry katona as a political pundit? the news read by milfs? it should mean more opportunities for asians on tv - as long as they are over 40 and have 40dds, but it is a start.

it will be the station to watch and for all the wrong reasons.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


"couldn't secure a job anywhere outside the bloated public sector where mediocrity is too often shielded by weak and unprincipled HR policies".

so said david forster of some of the staff of the national health service. he made his claims on facebook.
what makes it an interesting piece is that mr. forster is a director of the yorkshire ambulance service.

obviously mr. forster is a pretty exceptional worker, a cut above the rest and with time enough to post his views on facebook.
you can only hope that mr. forster was expecting a response for his use of social media. there in his office, leaning back, hand linked behind his head, a smile on his lips as the thought "there that will give them food for thought, that will inspire them, come monday they will all have pulled their socks up and gotten their backs into it. my work here is done. i have made a difference."

for all the talk about social media being the new engine of change, when it comes to the most fundamental of things, it really isn't.

what social media really is, is a place where you sometimes need to think once, then think twice and then a third time before you write something about your employers and fellow employees while using your real name.
mostly it is not a good thing.

yorkshire ambulance service say the matter has been dealt with internally.
mr forster has declined to comment. if only he had done that in the first place.

graham stuart (conservative mp) has defended mr forster (not that i would like to suggest mr. stuart has an agenda, but he has)he says: "people must be allowed their own private opinions. if those who work in tough public sector assignments can't let off steam even with friends then i think we are going too far in invading people's private rights."
key word here is 'private'. yes in private people should be allowed to think and say what they like.
by no stretch of the imagination is facebook private. once you put your views up there for the world to see there ceases to be any question of invasion.

what makes it worse is that mr. forster is in a position to make changes rather than to be carping on facebook.
easier to moan than to do work - perhaps mr forster isn't too unlike those he has dissed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


good for the troops in afghanistan.
bad for the national health service.
go figure.


like many comic readers i have often wished i had a super power. swinging across town like spider-man, flying through the sky like the human torch, looking through girl’s clothes like superman (mmm perhaps not the right use of x-ray vision, but unlike supes i am not heroic, just very shallow). for all of that the one power i wish had would be that of perfect understanding and usage of all languages. the thrill of haikus in japanese, the joy of the arabian nights in persian, to chit chat with stephen fry and gyles brandreth without worrying about incorrect conjugation and of course to be able to curse in fluent kangaroo.
it would have been a power that would have come in useful the other day.
for some it might come as a surprise but i abhor litter. i don’t mind mess in my flat. it is my space and i have created it. in public i fume when i see people casually throw their rubbish on the floor. in a patocracy such people would be put in the stocks to have rubbish thrown at them.
there i was leaving sainsbury’s, it had been a long hot day, i was tired and tetchy. he was just about to get on his bike, his bag over his shoulder. with a last hearty chug on his bottle of water it was empty and quicker than you could say jack flash the bottle was bouncing off the pavement.
i saw red.
normally i just curse. this time i shouted.
why did i bother? mostly because he was a middle aged bloke and for some strange reason i thought he should know better.
“did you have to do that? couldn’t you have put it in a bin”
he looked at me as if i were an alien (to be far it might also have been the fact that when i get angry my voice goes into the squeak register).
“there isn’t a bin here” he replied with a spanish accent.
i alerted him to the fact that there was one by the main doors of the supermarket, that there were several on the main road. his reply (and i can’t fault him on this) was that there was not a bin right where we were.
i asked him if he would do this in his home country? that is racist he told me. no, i informed him, it would have been racist if i had said “oi dago do you do that at home”. the humour was lost on him. why can’t you take it to the bin, why make the place a mess? i asked. he blamed sainsbury’s they haven’t put a bin here and they make millions, so it is their fault. the logic of the argument pretty ironclad and even better it absolved him of ever having to put rubbish in a bin, because the bin had to be right by him, or else it was someone else’s fault.
we too-ed and fro-ed like this for several minutes (my voice going into chipmunk and back down to low and ominous and then back up to glass shattering shriekness), in the end i asked him which direction he was going in. he pointed in the direction of the cambridge heath road exit (remember he is on a bike).
“a-ha”, i exclaimed, “you can put it in the recycle bins that sainsbury’s provide”.
smugly he tells me that they are nothing to do with sainsbury’s and that they are for charity. seemingly even doing something for charity was too much for him.
at that moment i decided that the super power i wanted more than anything else was wolverine’s claws so that i could have eviscerated the wanker.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


i just thought i would call jon gaunt a cunt. an ignorant cunt.
the reason? i am defending the right of freedom of speech.
when jon gaunt was working for talksport he was conducting an interview with a councilor and decided that rather than having a serious conversation or a sensible debate he would engage in playground name calling. so out popped "health nazi"
the station received some complaints.
ofcom (the independent communications regulator) censured him.
talksport (the radio station) sacked him.

gaunt has taken his case to the courts claiming 'protecting the right to speak your mind was a right that we must all protect and preserve".
his lawyers claim his fundamental right to free speech had been infringed by the decision. (gaunt apologised on air after the exchange, which hints at the fact that even he knew that he had gone too far.)

liberty have also intervened in the case because 'of it's wider implications to free speech'.
i guess from liberty's point of view freedom of speech is fine when you are being insulting or bullying. though i wonder just how far they would carry it? i can imagine that 'coconutgate' has them all confused.
i imagine jon gaunt never thought he would have been bedfellows with liberty either.

one has to point out that talksport terminated gaunt's contract before ofcom began their investigation. all ofcom have done is censure john gaunt, effectively telling him he has been a naughty boy and not to do it again. (according to ofcom's site no sanction or penalty was imposed on gaunt, or talksport.)

so it seems that both gaunt and liberty are trying to prevent ofcom having their freedom of speech. bit of a contradiction, a conundrum. a storm in a teacup.
perhaps freedom of speech is fine when you are being a loud mouthed bully on the radio, but is not fine when you are an organisation pointing that there was no justification for the insulting material and that you were in breach of accepted standards.
it is almost like jon gaunt, that bastion, of free speech can dish it, but can't take it or to borrow from lance corporal jones "he don't like it up him".

gaunt has said that he regrets the form of words he used, he has apologised. talksport were probably wrong to sack him. yet gaunt is milking this and i can't quite understand why liberty have associated themselves with the case.
if you can't handle being told you are wrong then you really shouldn't be playing the 'big-i-am' on the radio.
if liberty are backing someone who is happy to refer to someone as an 'ignorant pig' (some reports say 'arrogant pig') and a nazi are they going to issue us all with guidelines as to how we can be rude and insulting to others?
the principle of free speech is fine and dandy, but we all know that speech isn't free that there are words we can't use, and that is no bad thing. yet i am struck that the whole point of gaunt's case is so that he can insult with impunity.

by the way there is no need to worry about jon gaunt he is working for murdoch on the sun's own radio show.

and because we are defending free speech here - he is still an ignorant cunt.

(i apologise to the readers for my language and my tone. i apologise to jon gaunt as well.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


just think about it 70 years ago the battle of britain was fought and won. summed up best by churchill "never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
today a number of the remaining veterans of that battle came together, probably for the last time, to celebrate day, to give thanks for their victory, to give praise to fallen comrades and just to revel in the joy of life and freedom.

joyous day.

who do they get to give the salute, which royal joins them in this day of days? prince michael of kent (he is cheap - he doesn't get dosh from the state). you have to wonder what liz, phil, charlie, ann, eddie, andy, harry and wills were up to that they couldn't spare some time.

not so much taking the mick, but taking the piss.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


nick clegg (doesn't he just look so happy being next to david cameron, they do make such a lovely couple) has delivered on the promise to propose to have a potential referendum about changing the first past the post voting system.
assuming that the members of parliament agree to it, the referendum will allow the public to decide if the tried and trusted first past the post system stays or if it gets replaced by the new shiny alternate vote system (voters rank the candidates in order of preference and if someone gets over 50% of first votes then they get elected, if there is no clear winner then the candidate is eliminated and second choices on their ballots get allocated across the remaining candidates and so it goes until someone emerges with over 50% of the vote. simple really).
as part of the ‘revolution in voting’ that is so close to the heart of nick clegg and the liberal democrats are the plans to change constituency sizes – to make them all about the same size and to reduce the number of members of parliament.
not that it matters what i think but reducing the number of mps seems to be a drastic move, especially as the justification of it seems to be make politics cheaper. really what we want isn’t cheaper politics we want politicians who don’t take the piss with their expenses. additionally, if we really thought about it, we would rather have more mps so that we have more chance to get to see our political representatives. more mps also mean more diversity in the houses of commons; well that is my theory anyway.
however this isn’t about that.
this is about voting.
the liberal democrats are keen on this the new av system because they feel it will make it so much fairer on the smaller parties (code for “make is so much fairer on the liberal democratic party”) to win seats in the houses of parliament.
not wanting to burst the liberal democrat’s bubble but their chances of ever getting elected to power disappeared up the swanee since they became part of the cod/dem coalition – so their chances have gone from no chance to no fucking way.
leaving that aside the members of parliament will be asked to vote on whether or not the av referendum goes ahead. they will vote yes or no.
and if it comes to the electorate we will have the choice between adopting the alternative vote system or staying with the current first past the post system (or majority vote).
mmm so let’s consider that for a moment. the first past the post system is not good enough for nick clegg and the liberal democrats but it is good enough a method to vote on whether or not we have an alternative system.
all very confusing.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


the bbc have a story about a new report from scientists which say people who are suffering from heart conditions are more likely to die if they also suffer from anxiety disorders.
it is the sort of research that makes me go: no shit sherlock!
but it is good news for the national health service. no matter what the con/dems say the nhs is not safe with them. i know it. you know it. they know it, everyone knows it. even if they make sure that the nhs is protected from their swinging cuts they are still going to wage war on the administrators who help run the place. in the world of cameron, osborne and grove hospital administration would be outsourced to anyone who promises to do it cheaply. the con/dems are the neo-jewish tailors of modern economics: never mind the quality feel the width is their motto.
so why is the report about anxiety being linked to deaths in heart condition sufferers good for the nhs? simple: can’t be many of us who are not feeling anxious these days. the nhs will save a fortune in the people who die before they get to the point of treatment.
still look on the bright side it does mean that there will be a lot more vacancies going in undertaking profession.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


the con/dem chancellor is asking government departments to prepare plans for a 40% cut in their spends.
it is a scary number. no matter how you slice and dice it cuts on that sort of scale means lots of lost jobs, it means lots of services cut or lost. a few hard core tories will talk about how the private sector will step in to save the day by providing lots of jobs and filling the services void. of course the tories will also say "and the private sector will do it so much better" and yes we all know how well they have done with the trains, so much better now than it was under british rail (oh and we still have to give them tax payers money). we all remember those promises of competition meaning prices will be kept low on our energy costs.

more than likely the 40% is a number has been floated so that when the cuts come in at 25% or 30% we will all cheer and praise osborne for his hard work, his hard decisions, while secretly being thankful that it wasn't as bad as we thought.

while all the cuts are being made to public services we will be told it is necessary, we can't spend more than we bring in, we can't keep servicing such a debt. it is labour's fault that they didn't mend the roof while the sun shone, blah blah blah.
of course there will be little blame laid at the feet of the financial institutions who caused the problem in the first place, the financial institutions that the previous government bailed out (which is why they had to borrow lots of money in order to prop up the wrecked free market economy. oddly they did it very well, strange that bit gets forgotten).

one thing that does seem to have been acknowledged by the con/dems is that this was (and is) a global problem. during the election it was all new labour's fault. now it is a global situation. funny that.

even funnier is that the reason we have to go through the austerity measures is because we want to keep our triple-a rating. a rating given by the same fucking financial institutions who fucked up the situation in the first place. fucking irony for you.

even funnier is that the people who can least afford to pay for the bail out are the ones who are going to bare the brunt of it. hell yeah put vat up, the average income families can't avoid paying it and it takes a chunk out of their wages.
what increase the top rate of tax? can't do that we need those wealth creators. so far they aren't doing too much for us, other than lining their own pockets.

more and more it seems that the cuts are not about the economy, but about ideology.
the tories are living the thatcher dream. they won't be building new prisons in the future but workhouses.

i tell you something - it has to suck to be a liberal democrat.

Friday, July 02, 2010


pigs have flown.
hell has frozen over.
digby jones was on the radio today and i found myself almost agreeing with him. not swearing at him, not curising him, not screaming 'shut up you fat fuck'. i was almost agreeing with him.
i think i might be mellowing.
note this day in your diary.


i am not the world’s greatest protester.
nor am i the world’s greatest demonstrator.
(it may be that i am in contention for being the world’s not world’s greatest, not a title i covet.)

however there are times when all men need to stand up and be counted sunday june 20th was one of those days.

recently the, less than pleasant group, english defence league (edl) had made an appearance on the streets of whitechapel. it wasn’t successful; they were confronted by locals and carted off by the police.
on the sunday in question they were going to stage a rally in tower hamlets.
various groups put the call out for there to be a demonstration, a show of community. posters were dotted all over the area: meet at stepney green station, 12.30pm and march to altab ali park for some speeches. the umbrella organisation for the march was unite against fascism (uaf).

for those who don’t know much about the english defence league here is the science part. the english defence league see themselves as a single issue party – they are against the spread of islamism and islamic extremists. the edl claim to be multi-ethnic and multi-faith, they even have a jewish division – just how progressive are they? they say they do not have a problem with muslims in general, just extremists.
the rest of us think they are a group of racist neo-fascists.
i’ll come to the reason why they were preparing to march in tower hamlets later. although there was a specific reason for their planned march there are other reasons why tower hamlets is an ideal target for them, the borough is home to europe’s largest mosque, it is also home to england’s largest muslim population (east london advertiser breaks down the borough’s population as 35% bangladeshi with 10% somali), it is also a borough that suffers from great social deprivation with high rates of unemployment, crime and drug dependency among the youth. in short the borough has its problems, in the main people get along and get on with their lives.
end of the science bit.

some of you who know me might actually claim there is something that i am great at: not being on time. that sunday was no different. i left my place just after 12.30pm. all it meant was that i had missed the start of it all, no matter i would be able to catch them before they made it to the park, where i could join in. fifteen minutes later i am at an empty park. a look along the whitechapel and all i can see is traffic. at the park entrance are the boys and girls of the socialist workers party (swp). as ubiquitous as they are the ever present petition is more so.
a quick chat with the swp and it turns out that there might have been several posted start times for the rally. obviously when marx was labouring over das kaptial he didn’t feel the need to add a chapter about punctuality (he left that to adam smith).
as it was a nice day i sat in the park and waited.
and waited.
and waited.
when the revolution comes it won’t be televised because it will happen in the ad breaks, the irony is that for all the theory about a vanguard party what they really need is a frederick taylor in charge of them – it might not be lenin was thinking of, but it would be on time.

and that is where the humour stops (what do you mean? did it ever start).

with a growing rumble of cheers and shouts the parade of protest arrived at the park. organisers put the numbers at around five thousand; i think they are being very generous
once everyone is in the park the speeches begin. they are short, almost perfunctory. little more than ‘edl out’, ‘bnp out’, ‘community unite’. to be honest on a normal day they probably don’t need to be more that. turns out that this wasn’t a normal day.

now remember that this was all about community, standing shoulder to shoulder. as someone who doesn’t do this sort of thing on a regular basis i was struck by a couple of things when i was looking around the park. once you took out the organisers, press, police and members of the swp (and other such organisations) the number of non-asians there could be counted on your fingers and toes (and i am being generous here). that there seemed to be an awful lot of placards that had been stripped down to no more than large wooden sticks – their original message replaced by a new, and unmistakable, one that had little to do with community. that there were a fair few youths who were walking around with their faces covered, and not because of some belief in female modesty, rather a case of keeping their identity secret.

one of the reasons for the speeches being short and sweet was because the reason for the protest had disappeared as during the week the edl had called off their march. the parting shot from the speakers was to ask everyone to leave the park peacefully and to go home and enjoy the nice weather.
you would have thought that was a victory.
evidently not.
a few members of the swp walked by and they were getting excited about a possible edl march in barking the following weekend. close your eyes stretch your imagination just a little and a new t-shirt range comes into view: philosophy hooliganism.
while a bunch of asian youth strut by each telling the other that they are not going home, they are going out to look for the edl.
an atmosphere of whipped up anger and potential violence permeates the park.
for all of that nothing happens in the park. people linger. some wave banners. some chat. some take photos. others look to get petitions signed.
i left the park and went about the rest of my day.
much later i am on my way home and the police are still out in force. they are preventing people walking down the whitechapel high street in the area of the east london mosque. throughout the area around the mosque there is a heavy police presence.
the next day i learn from a local shopkeeper that a group of youths kicked off with the police. he was less than sympathetic towards the youth.

interestingly the reason the edl had planned to be to in the area was because they were going to protest a conference, at a local venue, featuring ‘controversial’ islamic speakers scheduled to take place on the same sunday. although the uk islamic conference gets mentioned a few times in the local press, details are always vague, except, once, to say that none of the speakers were on the government’s proscribed list. pretty much the conference was ignored in the protest literature that could be found.
according to the people at indymedia (a grouping of social and political activists) the uk islamic conference would have featured speakers who condoned killing homosexuals and anti-semitism, among other things. (in a little dose of irony the venue in question had only just signed up to tower hamlets’ “no place for hate” campaign, needless to say they agreed to cancel the conference).

the cancellation of the uk islaminc conference lead to the edl cancelling their march and claiming victory on their website. the call then went out for the unite against fascism rally to be called off. however it went on because (to quote the east london advertisers) community leaders were concerned about tensions still running high and that a peaceful rally would give people a chance to express their feelings.
ah if only that had been the case.

as with all these things it is difficult to grasp the full picture, yet reading some of the accounts of the events i can’t help but think that there is a wilful decision to ignore aspects of the whole thing in favour of just the bits that promote your point of view.
strangely i believe that sort of blinkered vision of the world means you are never going to be able to overcome divisions.
unite against fascism are there to campaign against racism and fascism. their goals are noble, no one wants hate on the streets, no one wants to see people discriminated against or attacked because of the colour of their skin (or the faith they choose). yet the uaf said nothing about the uk islamic conference. now i admit i only have the word of indymedia about how extreme the speakers may have been, yet i doubt that tower hamlets would have pushed so hard for its cancellation if there were not some truth to it. so from the point of view of the uaf hate can only come from one direction and if we are blunt here; that hate has only one colour: white.
the uaf, respect, whitechapel anarchist group and others praised how demonstration brought the local community together, yet the evidence in altab ali park pointed to the fact that this was predominantly an asian gathering. the other parts of the community seemingly unaware of the protest or not caring about it both are a little worrying.
when it comes to violence everyone is quick to condemn the edl for bring their thugs on to our streets, yet the sunday in question saw violence for the sake of violence. there was no edl for the local youth to lash out against. the whitechapel anarchist group may see it as being heavy handed policing while ajmal masroor (former liberal democrat candidate) may see it as a symptom of disaffected youth being angry at the world. either way it was still violence (a van driver and a skinhead were attacked, photographers threatened).
yet their violence is not subjected to the same outrage that would have greeted violence perpetuated by the edl. instead excuses and reasons are found. disturbingly groups such as respect and socialist workers party seem silent on the violence.

perhaps this is where the problem lies, or begins. groups like the english defence league or the british national party are not really much of a threat in the great scheme of things. give them the oxygen of publicity and they soon show themselves to be the idiots that they really are. prevent them from having a say and you create victims and lead others to wonder what it is they have to say and they stand for.
yet if you try to prevent them from having their say while staying quiet on the anti-democratic and racist language and actions of others then you stop being a fighter for the truth and just become a hypocrite.
none of which is to say they have to have a free ride. their claims and arguments can be debated, challenged and shown to be false. democracy can only work if it works for all groups. frankly if you are scared of the debate then perhaps you are scared that you can’t answer their claims.
hate and fear and lie at the root of many evils, they are not overcome by ignoring the hate spewed by one group while concentrating on the same sort of hate that comes from another group. if communities are to truly stand together then hatemongers no matter what their colour or faith have to be confronted and challenged.
for diversity to work it has to be colour blind and the champions of diversity have to be able to stand up to hate, oppression, racism and fascism no matter what colour it comes in.
it seems that is harder than it sounds.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


the 'official' figures of the number of jobs that will be lost in the public sector is 600,000.

the confederation of british industry are now mentioning that for the private sector to absorb those jobs will mean that there will have to be training programmes in order to help workers transfer between the jobs.

i guess that is the cbi pointing out that jobs are not going to appear magically and that if there is going to be any training then they want the government to give them funds.

total tossers.