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

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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.

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.

Community vs Council – The Sequel

Last September I wrote about the history of Wigan Council and their complete disregard for local community assets in their sale of The Formby Hall in Atherton.  Today is the final day that letters by the government Planning Inspectorate can be received after they “called in” the process of the sale, re-sale and subsequent proposed demolition of this historic local and popular site.

So it without any shred of surprise but with a healthy dose of irony that today also sees another local town’s asset that comes under the claws of Wigan Council now perhaps the victim of yet more dubious sales practices.

Apart from the above, I shall let the links speak for themselves…

Tyldesley Top Chapel – which is a Grade II listed building.

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Community cafe in Tyldesley secures funding to expand

Former chairman of Tyldesley Town Partnership said he is “fully remorseful” for attack on pub landlord

For a bit of salaciousness, here is the footage (which also made the Daily Mail, because they love a bit of violence)

Concern over bid to sell off chapel

The Auction for this community venue starts on the 17th May, guide price of £150,000

A Petition has been started to save the Chapel

This also comes at a time when Atherton Library, the former technical college and the town hall buildings are looking to be reappraised as well.

Makes you wonder where all the money goes sometimes…

As a little light relief but to highlight the general amount of bitterness between the council and every town that isn’t called Wigan read below…

Street Sign Crest Wars

 

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.

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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.

Community vs Council

I am going to try to write this piece without it drifting into the realms of party politics and hopefully non-libelous comments.

 

 

Much has been made recently about a Northern Powerhouse and also devolution of power to the major cities of the North of England and giving more autonomy to county councils.  The general hope being that communities will have greater say and therefore a choice of how they are governed.

The town of Atherton in Greater Manchester falls under the control of Wigan Council.

They have a community centre called The Formby Hall.

This hall was a gift to the town of Atherton back in the early 1900’s.

Two annexes were added to the hall as part of the festival of Britain.

In circa 2011, with a valuation of the hall of about £235,000 Wigan Council sold The Formby Hall (and numerous other community centres under their ‘control’) to a company called Rose Leisure (or Eight Wonder, you know how businesses like to change names and have various subsidiaries).

The sale price, on record, for The Formby Hall was £65,000.

The covenant was that the sale would be made under the proviso that Rose Leisure would maintain all their newly acquired buildings so that they could continue to function as working halls to host a variety of activities.

The Formby Hall, for example, hosts (hosted) NHS Blood Donations, various gigs, charity nights, dance clubs, wedding receptions and probably most well-known The Bent n Bongs Beer Bash

Rose Leisure never really maintained the building, the roof is in a particularly bad way and only with some local people did it get fixed to an adequate level so that the Beer Bash could go ahead in 2015.

In about May of 2015 rumours spread that Rose Leisure were telling people with bookings that they would only fulfill them up until July of 2015 and all events after that would be cancelled.

Due to this “leak” it then forced Rose Leisure and Wigan Council to admit that The Formby Hall had been sold to a company called Hilldale Housing Association.

Hilldale are a bit of an odd company in that they themselves are only a conduit for investors to buy up properties for development.

In June of 2015 Wigan Council spent £2m on terracotta tiles

In August of 2015 South East Lancs CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) successfully had an Asset of Community Value (ACV) put on The Formby Hall under the Localism Act of 2011.

Hilldale had made assurances that the hall could stay open until March of 2016 but the doors were locked and as such no one can use the hall, it can fall into a further state of disrepair and of course it can be claimed that it is not being used and therefore it’s now lack of use by the community does not make it an asset worth saving.

In September of 2015 a notice of demolition was put up outside The Formby Hall, this is because due to a loop-hole an ACV can only protect a pub from demolition and the ACV had forced Hilldale’s hand.

There have been various groups formed and a petition of about 4,500 was handed in to Wigan Council to object to not only the initial sale (primarily to Rose Leisure) but also the demolition of a building that in essence belongs to the town and people of Atherton.

It is sad that said local groups have been butting heads with not only the council but with locally elected councillors and that relationships have soured and become cynical and cold.

This is how modern politics work.  It is not a democracy but an elected dictatorship whereby small outlying towns are ostracised.  It is unsurprising that voters are becoming more disillusioned by the whole process.

The case of Formby Hall is still ongoing and very much up in the air, it is hoped the council will listen, for once, to one of its communities.

There is a petition here if you wish to sign it…

Update: January 2016

Council recommends prior approval to demolish Formby Hall

The above link gives most of the information you need to know, the fate now lies in further planning meetings and a possible intervention by Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Greg Clark and the constituent MP Chris Green.

The Hypocrisy of the Dancing Man

Yesterday (25th Many 2015), the ‘Dancing Man’ Sean O’Brien did a great many things, borne out of a ‘positive’ reaction to ‘trolls’ on the internet.

Basically a fat man was body-shamed on the internet (4-chan, the absolute ultimate in free speech sites) and the reaction was so sympathetic that a great deal of people and celebrities needing extra kudos jumped on the story with nothing but praise for Mr. O’Brien and hatred for said ‘trolls’.

Fast-forward to today (26th May 2015) and we again have numerous health stories linked to the subject of weight

The talking-head panels that review papers and news ‘stories’ of the day moved from ease to the uplifting story of an clinically obese man and his holiday in the USA to the you’ll-be-dead-by-50 health scare stories the continue to be trotted out by ‘experts’ on a daily basis.

But there is no over-reaction of the Twitterati and celeb-heads over this.

Granted one man’s plight and public embarrassment is not really comparable to a story the generalises about being obese but all these stories published about public health are designed to create divisions.

But the under reaction is that the public tolerate being ‘trolled’ by the state.

In fact in the UK, where health care is ‘free’ – it is all ready on the slippery slope that those who are fat, or smoke, or drink alcohol, or eat salt, or eat sugar are not worthy of said ‘free’ treatment.

Those that don’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day, or eat 5 portions of fruit and veg, or those that sit for too long or drive everywhere, they are the next group in the sights of our health moralists.

Mr O’Brien is a man who clearly loves life, food, dancing and anything else that makes him happy.  He achieved his notoriety by being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ and yet when he comes back to the UK he will sit in front of his TV, open up a newspaper or even go to his doctor and be continually told that he is too fat.

Maybe he is too fat.  Maybe his weight will have negative impact on his life and its future quality and while we get hypocritically riled up about some people pointing and laughing at those who don’t fit into a standard we happily let certain others do exactly the same thing.

Know the consequences of what you do, take personal responsibility for them and learn to tell everyone to fuck off.

Till next time.

Eat, drink and be merry.