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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Street Food, with added Chlorinated Chicken

It is quite understandable, the faux hysteria that surrounds Liam Fox and his chlorinated chickens.

The Tory and Trump’s America are the big bads of the world, the EU super state the glorious saviour of civilisation as we know it.  Well it is if your world is filled only with the BBC, Guardian, Independent, Buzzfeed and Twitter.

We know this truth to be self-evident: chlorine on chickens = bad; chlorine washed pre-packed salads and veg = oh, we forgot about that.

Anecdotally and to compliment my recent straw man pieces I have recently started doing always done I seem to recall a piece of news about what counted as organic eggs.  So long as they reached you covered in feathers and shit they could be classed as organic (among an obvious litany of other regulations they must meet).  However if one were to wash that shit off them, then they couldn’t be classed as such. Meh, who cares an egg is an egg.

The Co-Operative food store you to love to say how all the egg containing products contained free-range eggs.  It’s great to pick up a pre-packed Chicken Mayonnaise sandwich to find that the chickens laying the eggs were free range.  The chickens that provided the meat however, no mention of their freedom. Meh, who cares a chicken is a chicken.

Which brings me on to Street Food. Or rather the culturally appropriated and probably whole-heartedly racist version that the UK gets treated to.

We all love a bit of street food; small, start-up businesses selling good quality, wholesome products using local ingredients to produce a wide range of cuisines from around the world. It’s all so wonderfully inclusive.

If you are one of those that can afford street food at restaurant prices.  We’re going to charge you the earth but not even have the good grace to give you a seat.  Still I suppose if you can afford to fly to and holiday in the Far East and have real and cheap and proper street food there, then I suppose it all evens out.

In all this clamour for street food one thing I have noticed that has got lost is the origin of all the ingredients.  In a country where regulations have put a greater emphasis on what allergens foodstuffs contain, former buzz words like organic, and free-range have fallen by the wayside.

I suppose if you’re paying top whack for a triple bacon, double burger with 3 types of cheese and harissa mayo you’d just assume everything ticked all the clear conscience boxes. I mean, why would anyone wish to increase their profit margin by using cheaper products to bring you a more expensive item.

But it’s OK, this burger is the best burger you’ve ever had.

Now all we need is to find meat replacements and we can leave all the sheep, cows, pigs and chickens to roam freely in peace and to become extinct naturally with no one to tend and care for them.

Thanks for reading.

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.

The Sound of Inevitability

Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.

After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.

My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.

He had Castle Greyskull.  In fact he had all the bestest toys.  I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood.  We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.

The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.

My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums.  He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.

We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.

We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.

Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other.  Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.

Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.

The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters.  My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.

He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.

The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.

 

To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.

 

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…

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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.