Samuel Smiths – What a Fucking Rotter

I was late to getting the news that Samuel Smith’s brewery has issued a decree across its entire estate of pubs that anyone found to be swearing should be turned out of the premises, whether they will be barred seems to be up for debate but seeing as ever news piece I’ve read on this links to another article, which links to another and another and another, it is pretty hard to guess what the exact truth of the matter is.

I’ve read precisely one blog on this, saw a few comments on the #hopinions thread that Beer O’Clock run every Sunday

 

 

and I saw CAMRA’s response to the news

 

On this matter I don’t particularly care in one instance; if a private business wishes to enact its own policies about what is “good behaviour” then by all means go ahead.  People cheer when the private companies that are Facebook and Twitter remove members that are abusive (within their own definition of what abuse actually is) but heaven forbid a private company should refuse to, for example, make a cake saying something they disagree with, oh no.

It is rather odd that Sam Smiths has chosen to focus purely on swearing, I can only assume that they are OK with someone in their establishments saying nigger or faggot so long as there isn’t a four-letter word in amongst said possible drunken diatribe but what constitutes a private conversation in a public place?

Then again the current state of the world is pitted against itself in what exactly is and isn’t a “bad idea” what is and isn’t “hate speech” and more pertinently, what is or isn’t “offensive.”

Within the beer bubble itself there are points of view on certain subjects (for example pump clips) that go against the new orthodoxy and while all these little games and battle of wills are being played out, governments world wide are monitoring and recording their citizens communications under the pretence of security and protection.

 

The last thing anyone needs to be protected from is words, rude or not.

 

Thanks for reading

 

On a separate note, here is why some people actively boycott drinking Sam Smiths beers and so for some a swearing ban is neither here nor there…

 

My Religion Is Better Than Yours – Its Killed Less

Firstly apologies for linking to the Independent and especially its BuzzFeed part that is their “Indy100” but this response has been tweeted onto my time-line for numerous days and I get the feeling the people doing it don’t really think that deeply about things such as murder and subjugation.

Muslim lawyer shuts down troll who says there’s no ‘Christian version’ of Isis

Qasim Rashid goes on to say that he was making his point as to terrorism having “no religion.”

Only it does.  People can say that people are using a “perversion” of any holy text but that is to gloss over how and why they are able to claim their acts in the name of their religion.

This is moral relativism that is at the base of every major religion.  Putting aside the wars, murders, slaughters and the general body counts that can be laid at the feet of each religion there is something more pernicious at the heart of all of them and that is the enslavement of the individual, of their thoughts and of their actions.

The punishment that you can get while still alive for thinking or behaving in a way not in keeping with their god’s word and the biggest kicker of all, eternal punishment after you die.

I know people of religion always love to bring up the “atheists” that were Stalin and Mao.  Wonderfully adept totalitarian dictators who, in the case of Stalin re-established the Russian Orthodox Church to culturally unify the people behind him and in the case of both established their political thinking as the religion of the people, because you can’t become a living god if people are praying to other ones.  Simple replacement of one cult of religion for the cult of personality that Stalin and Mao desired and required for total domination.  Indoctrination into any belief process requires total acceptance and the inability to question anything.

The simple matter for me is, if anything and everything in a religious text is open to interpretation then that bad has to be taken as well as the good.

And if it can be taken in a “bad way” then perhaps it isn’t good at all.

 

Believe what you want, there are 6 billion people in the world, there should be 6 billion “religions”

 

Thanks for reading.

Applying for the Position of State Censor

twitter2319807

I have been a long-term admirer of your work, even before you changed what the “C” in your name meant.  It was very helpful of you and the DPP to publish a list of 72 films and the subsequent 39 that were prosecuted made then all the more necessary to get hold of and view.  It has also been wonderful watching your scope increase; from film editors to analysing video games and now you have been allowed into the online world.

We shall skip what the definitions, legal or otherwise about what is pornography and pornographic, they have become a terms stripped of all meaning recently and I’ll just get to the nub of the matter.

I find the challenges of “regulating online pornography” to be rather easy.

What is made and filmed by consenting adults is legal and obviously anything made without consenting adults is a matter for the police, so this covers my view on the making of such material.

So we now have to turn our heads to who views such things and when it comes to viewing such material then it follows that it is legal for consenting adults to watch this material also.

If we skip the confusing laws of the UK that make the act of having sex legal at 16 but then having to be a full 2 years older to actually watch it legally then we should take the maximum age of 18 and below as the people we should worry about when it comes to getting hold of such material online.

And in this case it falls squarely on the parents.

I therefore can’t really expand to fill the requested word count of 1500 so I’ll just reiterate my main point;

Regulating online pornography to those under the legal age is the job of the parents or the adults responsible of said minors.

I feel I’ve just written myself out of a job but please feel free to consider me for the role.

Thanks for reading.

I Don’t Read Your Blog

As I grew up, grew my hair, taught myself guitar and dreamt about being in a famous band, I had one rather odd music-related foible.

This quirk was that I refused to listen to any Led Zeppelin. Sure I knew some of their more famous songs but I staunchly refused to listen to anything else and in my burgeoning LP and CD collection of rock and heavy metal any other fan of those genres would cast their eye over them and ponder why the obvious gap under “L”.

It was quite simple in my young mind, I was tired of reading reviews of bands I liked where every journalist writing the piece would describe certain songs as Zeppelin-esque.  In my mind, if my songs became popular and some reviewed them with that lazy hack term I would be able to turn around and say “no, a-ha, I never listened to Zeppelin therefore what I’ve produced is my own work, without any direct influence from the band you mention.  I am brilliant and original.”

Then at 18, looking through a second hand shop’s wares I found a double-CD set of Zeppelin’s greatest hits for £7 – I’d spited my own ears for long enough and besides journalists will write what they want anyway.

If you look to the right of this piece you’ll see my blogroll of some blogs I like.

The frequency that these blogs are updated varies wildly and some are archival bits of useful info more than up-to-date musings.

Some of the authors I follow on twitter and am therefore more likely to know when they’ve published a new piece, though sometimes timings are out and I’m sometimes only made aware by someone else’s retweet.

Truth be told there are about 5 blogs on that list I actually make a point of reading, or at least click on once a week to check for updates.

Those blogs aren’t necessarily better, more entertaining or more knowledgeable than the others on the list (and the many others out there) they just appeal to me more.  But every time I read a new piece I always hope they aren’t going to cover the same(ish) ground of a blog I’ve been working on.

Granted blogs (and vlogs and podcasts) are all about having a larger conversation, about exchanging ideas and usually responding to something you may fundamentally disagree with but there is a hell of a lot of white noise out there.  This blog is far from anything resembling good but it is at least mine.

My problem is I’ve listened to far too many podcasts and read far too many new blogs whose style seem to follow a pattern based on those who are perceived to be leaders in the field.

They are cold, banal and trite.  Cookie-cutter fodder, following the formulae laid out as when one Led Zeppelin becomes successful there are then another dozen copycats riffing in their footsteps.

It dilutes the well while also elevating mediocrity to unnecessarily high levels and this then impacts on everyone’s ability to read, write and critique with any effective objectivity and impartiality.

Write, blog and talk from your heart and head.  Not from you wallet.

Thanks for reading.

Brewing Up A Political Storm

Subtitle: You can’t filter out agendas with Isinglass

May you live in interesting times goes the alleged Chinese proverb brought to my attention by the writings of Terry Pratchett and we certainly do in 2016.

I don’t think it remiss to point out that as broad as the spectrum is that drink beer you would probably suggest that the older “CAMRA” set are to the conservative right and the younger “CRAFT” set are to the liberal left and while I’m not one for grouping people along political lines it would seem that many brewers and bloggers in the beer bubble, to their own detriment, probably do so.

The EU referendum vote in the UK on 23rd of June, that ended up with the result being to leave the European Union caused fissions, unsurprisingly many on my twitter time-line were for Remain.

Schisms formed on 8th November with the results of the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump become the elected, prospective 45th president of the USA.

Of course this lead to more fallout from breweries, brewers and bloggers on twitter.

One tweet caught my eye, from an actual brewery account and I’m not going to post it here simply because this is neither about naming and “shaming” (free speech is an absolute, even “hate” speech) nor do I bear any grudge towards the brewery or the brewer (he is a nice chap) or wish to see his business suffer.

Thing was, they (he) called for the assassination of Trump.  Now, whatever your feelings and political leanings are, two things struck me about that:

  1. Calling for the death of someone, in jest requiring a very broad context, is not right (choose other hyperboles)
  2. Using a business account to do so is stupid.

Then again many brewers & business owners in general, have personal accounts from which to let forth their own thoughts and despite all the caveats they may have in their biographies sometimes it can be guilt by association.

What is also striking is the lack of people who called out the brewery on this tweet and also subsequent tweets about boycotting specific countries.

We can probably, fairly postulate that many people didn’t even see the “assassination tweet” but to those that did see it and did not pass comment on it, you really do need to look inside yourselves and question that whatever morals and integrity you bleat about so often, is it that honestly what you actually practice.

 

“We use selective annihilation of mayors and government officials, for example, to destroy the presence of the state and create a vacuum. Then we fill that vacuum.”

 

Thanks for reading.

Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

140ji6

 

This is my Hitler clock…

WP_20160625_024

Much like Nazism, it doesn’t work but is certainly striking to look at.  It was made by a French man so I think we can forget about puns about German efficiency…that comes later in this piece.

Of course if you are offended by this because you think it glorifies our little toothbrush-moustached Austrian (by birth) dictator then that is your business, I’m of the opinion it mocks him.

Then again some people are offended by the Swastika without appreciating it’s history and significance to others completely devoid of any relation to the Nazis.

 

I never knew either of my granddads but was always fascinated by the story of one of them and its relation to personal identity.

Walter was from Bohemia and he was fluent in 4 languages; German, English, French and Czech.

Bohemia (where the Rhapsody is from) is currently in the Czech Republic (formed 1993, or as Sporcle now insists its referred to as, Czechia), though during my grandfather’s birth it was part of Germany (making him German by birth) but then, from 1918, part of Czechoslovakia following the carving up of Europe after the First World War.  It was then part of the Sudetenland that was annexed back to Germany in 1938.

 

Then the Second World War happened.

 

Apart from being in the midst of the Nazi Empire my grandfather and his family also had the rotten luck of being Jewish.

 

Papers, please.

WP_20160627_001 WP_20160627_002

 

Being of some standing and right before they were stripped of all their possessions, they were at least given the chance to get away with their lives, provided they could prove that someone (I assume in a then neutral country) was willing to support them and prove that they could, hence the document below.

WP_20160627_004

 

How and when my granddad left Bohemia I don’t know, I’ve heard via Italy but it isn’t really important other than the fact that rather than getting to America he wound up in England and joined the British Army.

Fun Fact: he helped teach media-baron in-waiting Robert Maxwell how to speak English (apparently Maxwell had a very good ear).

 

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1″.

– Mike Godwin, 1990 (Godwin’s Law).

The above “law” doesn’t just apply on-line, it is a go-to comparison of the mentally lazy who not only report & comment on the news but also those that lead countries.

We are currently living in a world where people are obsessed with defining themselves; be it gender, race, religion, sexuality, political leanings, class, nationality, diet, weight, height, general appearance, the list is as endless as the list of people ready to get offended at the slightest utterance of anything that seemingly disparages any of these things.

It is a world obsessed with itself, a world of narcissism. People so desperate to identify as something end up creating divisions in their own minds, thinking themselves open-minded, they really are as narrow-minded as those they think they are the antithesis of.

 

 

What you drink probably makes you Hitler too.

 

Hitler is/was, sadly, neither the be all or the end all of all that is or has been evil in the world.  These modern despots and murderous terrorists are so much of a world away from the person with an opinion or a comment you disagree with and the choice language that may come with it, that it is a sign of how laughable things have become that this distinction even needs to be made.

 

My grandfather was lucky in a way, reaching the UK and being able to start a family and have a relatively normal life up until his death.

Emma and Amalie lives however ended in Auschwitz, their names now in the list the adorns the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

 

For the record, my other grandfather was, at the very least, a descendant of an Orangeman, but that is probably another story.

 

Thanks for reading.

#CraftBeerSoElitist

Alternative title: White Man’s Beerden

 

A few weeks ago this article in “Thrillist” was doing the rounds on twitter and whereas it is written from an American perspective it certainly got hands wringing over in the UK beer blogsphere.

Given the current furore over the Oscars maybe we should also go with #CraftBeerSoWhite

I’m not going to write from the perspective of either America or of race (I can if it were my prerogative but that isn’t the point of the piece), I can write from the perspective of England and beer drinking.

The craft beer movement at this current moment in time, is a micro-environment of the general middle-class chattering classes that dominate the air waves these days, at least at a social level.

Leave your left/right political paradigm at the door and we know that the UK is shaped more by class (and also class denial) than by most other factors in life.

classes

The three original classes of Upper, Middle and Working have been split into seven categories

But this is neither here nor there, a main driver is the notion of egalitarianism – but it is not an equality of people but of thought.

Everyone knows that people are different, you can dare to dream and obviously if you have a lot of cash you are afford a lot more opportunity regardless of any semblance of brains, skill or drive but most of the time you won’t succeed because of a great, many factors.

We also know that not all beer is equal but what is glaringly obvious is that those that witter on about wanting more diversity in beer and brewing have clearly kicked a whole social group to the kerb.

There is a social group that does not want to drink certain stuff, nor does it want to go into places that don’t serve what they want at prices they are willing to pay.

Of course in the previous sentence I’m talking about the craft beer snob, who has the same mindset as the chattering classes; they’ll happily want to see you out of the gutter but not, in their opinion, if your mind is in there.  But if it is then thankfully you don’t have enough privilege to share the same drinking spaces as them.

Craft beer has an exclusivity about it, not only on price and where it is available but also in the minds of some that drink it, those same people conversely are the ones most likely to talk loudest about the need for inclusivity.

These same people who frequent over-priced IKEA bars will sometimes “slum it” in a pub and rave about the merits of its fixtures and fittings and maybe even the beer on sale but don’t even expect them to want to share it too long with the regulars.

The art of disassociated association (or associated disassociating) (or neither, I’m just making up oxymoronic phrases).

The same can be said for food too; where street food is sold at restaurant prices and as this has proved so successful that now you can indeed eat street food in a restaurant at even larger restaurant prices while disparaging those that go to chains, because your “dirty food” is acceptable because you mind is “clean”.

Some need to acknowledged is that before we start blubbing about diversity in beer; about more equal gender and racial representation, that like much the rest of the UK is heading socially; the drive for “equality” has shunned anything to do with merit and is merely viewed as tokenism.

And that is about as far from equality as you can get.