Stick & Stones May Break My Bones But Names…

…Get you reported to the police…

Then again…there is this

Which is what happens when you conflate free speech with abuse and couple it with the ill-defined Orwellian phrases like “hate speech” and “hate crime”

 

It’s a short post, you know where I stand, its part of a larger problem and something I might dig into over time like so many others but for now.

 

Reals before Feels…

 

A cunt is a cunt regardless…

 

Thanks for reading.

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A Case For Anonymity

I’m not anonymous.

GCHQ.

Friends.

Randoms I’ve met via the internet.

They know what I look like, know my given name.

Anyone who pays attention to what I tweet and write (not that this will add anything to your life so it isn’t worth the effort) could probably work out my approximate age.

My rough location in the world and my field(s) of employment over the years I’ve documented myself, I’m not exactly 100% private and anonymous but the fact that hopefully the great majority on twitter and reading this don’t know what I look like or my real name is enough to assuage any massive worries I have about my own general anonymity online.

I’m anonymous because I choose to be.  I’m not a troll, not in the worst sense anyway, then again term troll itself has been ascribed and redefined many times to now be a catch-all term for a great spectrum of behaviour.

My thoughts and views do not require knowledge of who I am; too often I’ve seen named twitter accounts avoid questions using the “you hide behind an avatar” line just because someone, even in the course of polite conversation, might field a view different to the person they were talking to.  This is a nonsensical and cowardly approach, it stifles debate and gives inaccurate credence to a view that only those with identities can have opinions and those opinions are worth more than the anonymous.

As I’ve gone on in my career, social media policies at various jobs have evolved and especially focussed on not saying or doing anything that would bring a company into disrepute.  An interpretation of these guidelines would be that anyone in employment shouldn’t really post anything personal (views or otherwise) online as you could lose your job.

I know that some of the views I hold don’t chime with even those close to me in real life let alone the status quo of twitter and seeing the reactions of some people online to certain views only highlights that, if only for the sake of continued employment/employability my veiled identity protects me from the vindictive and self-righteous, those that don’t know what a joke is, or satire or who feel they’ve been personally besmirched.

The way the world is going, everyone is just that little bit more crazy and unpredictable, I have the courage of my own convictions and being anonymous means that, should I wish to meet someone I’ve talked to online (and in the drinking world this happens at extremely regular intervals) it is always me that has to identify myself after I’ve worked myself up to a level of trust.

Give and take, I don’t trust anyone I don’t know, their aims and motives and likewise you shouldn’t trust me but not knowing each other or anything about anyone is no reason not to talk and debate about things, whether in agreement or disagreement, whether known or anonymous.

 

“There is no truth, only human opinion.”

 

Thanks for reading.

A Look Back In Anger. And Every Other Fucking Direction

The Terrorists will not change us…

Except when it comes to delaying our election process, delaying democracy.

Except when it comes to the state wanting even greater powers to actually hack into its citizens private communications.

Except when it comes to freedom of speech because apparently 80,000 people want The Sun banned in Manchester because they are brain-dead twats living in an irony-free zone.

Except I don’t full know how to express myself in words, so here are some emojis.

Except I want people to lose their jobs if they make a joke or say something possibly defamatory.

Except now I’ve got a tattoo – solidarity brothers and sisters.

Except when it comes to being able to actual discuss just what the fuck is going on in the world.

Standard Response

Following the events at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of Many 2017 there followed the usual, typically predictable response to a terrorist attack.

The #PrayFor and #NotAll hashtags fly like winged monkeys, the avatars changed to accommodate the latest geographical victim, well one that is in the West at least, you’d never have a static avatar if you had to commemorate everyone blown to bits in the Middle East.

The UK press wait a day or so and then dwell upon the attacker(s) because for some reason it feels that the public need to know their name(s), their background, their history because that doesn’t detract from the victims at all.

We also have to preach the mantra that terrorists don’t represent Islam but merely a warped view of it and it has nothing to do with religion.

That last point is bollocks, always has been, always will be…

Give it a week and then the police will release a report about an increase in “hate crime” – quite what being blown up, run over, shot or stabbed is if it isn’t hate is beside the point in this most Orwellian-like crime, but if you’ve been called a nasty name that too is a crime apparently on a par with loss of life and needs as much media focus.*

Above all it is pushed by all and sundry that we should “carry on” and that was should not let “hate beat love.”

Hate

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion.

This past fortnight has all been about love, or people’s versions of what love is, not even Foreigner knew what it was and needed it showing to them but either way its was all about love.

One big, homogeneous, nondescript, identity-less Love.

The avatar changes, the bee tattoos, the candle-lit vigils do nothing but focus on the individual and their suffering, which is nothing, it is absolutely fuck-all to those that were actually killed, their next of kin and those who actually could have been victims.

What, so you didn’t “love Manchester” before you changed your avatar and you will stop loving it when you change it?

Your bee tattoo and graffiti, possibly a nice symbol of solidarity is really just look-at-me narcissism, less about love and more a constant reminder of carnage.

You only have love? You have no hate, because hate is all terrorists have and you are better than terrorists?

Not killing people makes you better than a terrorist, not having any other emotions makes you an unthinking drone.

And this is the problem.  I don’t hate you for changing your avatar or getting a tattoo or painting a picture, or singing a song or lighting a candle.   Grief, if that honestly what it is as opposed to relief, is something personal that we all deal with in our own way.

What I do hate, apart from delusional, murdering fucksticks is the rest of the response; that we carry on as normal and yet we still modify our behaviour, our language, our ability to ask questions or offer up answers and even opinions.

In the Kübler-Ross model there are five stages to dealing with grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

There seems to be a collective brain-fart at work that we avoided the 2nd stage and just focus on the 3rd and 5th.  The world of social media seems to turn into Rimmer after he has had his first meeting with the Polymorph in Red Dwarf.

You neither have to bargain with terrorists, because you can’t and you certainly don’t have to accept it, regardless of what Mayors of London say.

I have love and it doesn’t need mood slime to help flourish, but I certainly have hate too.  The hate won’t keep me any more safe that those apparently without it but it is my response to events, along with continuing to question and to use the same language.

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion. It is all about how you channel it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

*Hyperbole but it does seems as much gravitas is placed on “hate crime” statistics than any other crime.  Crime is hate, all crime is a hate crime.

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.

Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

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This is my Hitler clock…

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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.

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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.

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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.

Wes Craven – A Projectionist’s Tribute

I’m writing this piece having just got back from FrightFest 2015 

It seemed apt that following the news of the death of Wes Craven that the final film of the night – the entertaining Tales of Halloween should be a horror anthology featuring 10 individual stories directed by current protégés of Wes Craven and was dedicated to his memory.

For those of us that grew up during the 80’s we were to be intrigued by a new bogeyman – his name was Freddy Kruger and he came into being in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”   Now it wasn’t just the creatures under the bed or in the closet that would frighten you but you now couldn’t even escape when you fell asleep.

I watched that particular film as a child of about 13 while recovering from my first dental filling – it still scared me watching it in the daylight and filled me with dread come night-time.

As I grew up I became fascinated by Video Nasties and the bods behind FrightFest have done two quite excellent documentaries about this censorious Spanish Inquisition-like moral panic that came about in the early 80’s in the UK.

One of the films on the list was Last House on the Left – a film that was only fully released uncut in the UK in 2008.  I was fortunate enough to meet the now sadly late lead villain of the piece (David Hess; along with Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface from another banned movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) at a horror all-day event in Welwyn Garden City some time around 1999.  That film itself set a standard of the “home invasion” genre that is popular these days while also being a fore-runner of the “torture porn” subdivision.

But before that I had become a film projectionist at my student cinema.  I saw Scream there for the first time as a punter (on a day off) and it was a very effective horror thriller.  The open set-piece with Drew Barrymore having quite a most profound effect on me.  It proved so popular that we regularly screened the film and I projected it twice.

On my first projecting mission of Scream I not only the spliced the film together (this is way before DVD’s) but also had to set-up the screen, the sound and do various technical checks.  The cinema was a big hall with a stage and it was built in a wind trap.

Stupidly I hooked up the sound and the speakers first and while testing projecting the first 30 minutes scared myself shitless as the torment of Barrymore’s character played out this was accompanied by the emergency exits opening and banging closed, the various ropes and pulleys clanging in the rafters and then, once the screen was down, being blinded by the light from the projector and having to run like a mad man out of the wide open hall hoping I wasn’t set upon by some unseen fiend lurking being a seat or the various curtains.

I never made that mistake again.

The second projecting mission of Scream requires a bit of Projecting 101:

The films which I projected came in reels.  These could either come “head” or “foot” first.  Head is the start of a reel, foot is the end of it.  You may have seen old countdowns like this:

We take out these but there is a test frame to let you know you the reel is the correct way around so they can be spliced together in the correct order.

See also Fight Club

 

I state now I have never edited any genitalia into any film I projected.

This time I had left some trainees in charge of the splicing and they’d informed me that there were no test cells, so it was blind luck if it was edited together correctly.  A quick test projection showed the first 3 reels were OK so it should be assumed everything else was going to run smoothly….

Everything was going fine during the screening, audiences were jumping out of their seats, screaming and laughing in the right places then, just as the anxiousness of every cigarette burn signifying a new reel has subsided, of course the last reel had to be the problem.

No sound and Courtney Cox’s feet were where on top of her head.

A loud “FUCK” echoed around the hall as I ran into the projection booth, shut down the projector, ran the film back and re-spliced it together.  The hopefully now corrected film was re-looped onto the projector and the film was restarted after about a 10 minute break, but then something even more strange happened and a very important lesson was learned…

This little break and return “to reality” had not impacted on the audience one iota, the still jumped and screamed and laughed as the last act of the film played out and the end credits rolled.

That is the magic of film.

That is the beauty of horror movies.

That was the genius of Wes Craven.