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.

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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.

Is The Labour Party Finished in Manchester?

I was going to put “The North” but I’m sticking with my local area for rather obvious reasons.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of the system we call democracy in the UK as it currently stands, I’m more a fan of proportional representation (PR) than first passed the post (FPP) but then again as has been shown with the recent referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, because the vote didn’t go the way of the “enlightened” then it clear indicates that some people shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, let alone the if PR was the system of voting in the UK, then UKIP would indeed have far more parliamentary representation than either the Lib Dems or the Greens.

A great many in the county of Manchester voted to Leave, 7 of the 10 boroughs in fact.  Because the referendum was reduced by some to Leave = right-wing, Remain = left-wing it came as quite a shock that supposedly a left-wing party, Labour heartlands would vote in massive numbers to Leave.  So much so that this somehow fell on the head of Jeremy Corbyn (to be fair the man has been against the EU most of his political career) and so now the Labour Party is tearing itself apart with a leadership election.

As the fallout between Corbyn and ABCs (anybody but Corbyn) continues in the Labour party, it is the face of Tony Blair that always looms large and this 3 consecutive victories (achieved regardless of numerous invasion follies) that are brought up as to why Corbyn isn’t a suitable leader and/or Prime Minister.

Watching spin doctor Alistair Campbell (ever so briefly) on Question Time banging on about how they won over Tory voters highlights what went wrong and what continues to go wrong.  Yes, you need to win over some of these voters but sadly they did it at the expense of their core working class vote.

Its a bit like the mob in the Christopher Nolan Batman film “The Dark Knight,” they had a problem with not having a grip on power any more (Note: any MP using the term “in power” should be viewed with suspicion) so turn to a force they did not fully understand, this brought some initial quick gains but they undercut themselves in the long-term.

Of course that analogy can be applied today, Jeremy Corbyn is no great cure-all but at least he isn’t a Liberal Democrat, a party akin to John Daggett, teaming up with the Tory’s Bane and then looking on in horror as to what destruction they have enabled while they themselves also end up destroyed.

Damn, if only I had a political analogy involving Ra’s al Ghul.

Locally the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), all Labour except 1, a Conservative of the Trafford Borough (which voted 57.7% to Remain).

My borough council, Wigan, voted 63.9% to Leave the EU, it is made up of 65 Labour seats, the other 10 split between local independents and the Conservatives.

Manchester City Council has 95 Labour party representatives and 1 Lib Dem (60.4% Remain).

I’ve blogged about local issues before locally in Atherton and around the borough as Wigan Labour systematically remove popular and necessary public assets for private profiteering.

About the loss of Manchester’s heritage as Manchester City Labour purge history from Manchester’s streets and most recently the evisceration of another historic part of Manchester so Gary Neville can build his own versions of Barad-dûr and Orthanc.

Of course should Labour lose seats not just in Greater Manchester but in its heartlands around the UK, then all the blame by those same MPs will be lain at the feet of Corbyn and the cyclical mess will continue, people will just get more disillusioned with politics and MPs will continue to feather the nests and prime themselves for big paying consultancy jobs when they are eventually gotten rid of, all this while conveniently forgetting about how Labour has been wiped out in Scotland by exactly the same behaviour.

On a national scale, the worst thing about all of this is that you have a new level of patronisation, especially when every Tory and anti-Corbyn entity try to sound magnanimous by uttering “we need a strong opposition to us/the current government in check and better,” and as every TV channel and news services continues to do special programmes about the end of Labour.  These programmes are solely from a political/media point of view and have absolutely nothing to do with actual support within the general public, highlighting the growing gap and level of contempt that both the media and the current crop of politicians have for us plebs.

Many in the media use the term Populism in a negative way, safe way to explain an apparent rise in “right-wing” (Trump, UKIP, Leave winning the EU referendum, etc).  As you can see from the link description the term populism can be ascribed to any side of the political divide and this is the problem, and if you’ve sat at home blaming “stupid people” and “racists” for everything that has gone on in the UK recently than you are just as culpable as those who blame “immigrants” and “Europe” – it is a political malaise but hopefully the tide is turning to something more positive and hopeful.

Thanks for reading.

Petition against Neville’s Vanity Towers

P.S.

As I always feel a blog should have one picture and to show that I’m not actually right-wing myself, I post my latest results from Political Compass

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Untappd Tapped

Note – All artwork in this post is in the public domain and as such used under fair use in the piece.

Note 2 – apologies for the formatting, it just won’t sort itself out.

It is worth pointing out in advance that this post may contain a…

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It has been a strange few hours in the world of the gamification of drinking beer, especially if you are on Untappd.

In the endless drive for equality among the sexes, the people behind the site have listened to feedback and change a couple of badges:

What was “Brewnettes have more fun”

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Is now “Bravo for Brown”

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Likewise “Blondes do it Better”

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Has changed to “Fields of Gold” – which should immediately cause offence to those who hate the musician known as Sting.

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But these aren’t the only badges that are offensive and I will detail some of those that still exist “for fun” for which Untappd should consider a rename and/or redesign.

The “Heavyweight” badge is offensive to fat people.

Heavy Weight

 

 

 

 

 

Next are the following badges with apply a male gender to what should be an androgynous beer bottle:


bdg_AltBier_lgbdg_saison_lgbdg_ConcertVenue_lg lagerjack


 

 

 

 

The presence of men in these badges

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Next up are the most offensive of cultural appropriations

bdg_CincoDeMayo2014_lg bdg_italy_lg Rising Sun

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The Matador badge, which is not only cultural appropriation but also promotes a bloodsport

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The Flamenco badge, more cultural appropriation along with pushing gender stereotypes while enforcing the view that women dance for the pleasure of men.

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The “Hey Honey” badge, which promotes unwanted advances against women.

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The “Iron Man” badge, no representation of women at all.
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“I’ll Be Bock” which is offensive to all cybernetic organisms with neural net processors that have the capability to learn, become more human and strive to help prevent Judgement Day.

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This is not an exhaustive list and much like Pumpclip Parade it can only be changed for the better by people seeking out badges that are likely to cause offence of any kind and shame the makers into making their site and app a more inclusive and sensitive experience.

 

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.

Cats, Lifestyle and Snowflakes

Oddly it is two years to the day that I wrote this piece as I had just lost my cat Izzy (who the vets insisted on labelling as Issie).  Now I find myself writing an ode to his son, Jones.

Both Izzy and Jones came into my house pretty much as soon as I’d moved in which is approximately 10 years ago and where as Izzy was a normal cat, in as much as the descriptor normal can be applied to a cat, it was quite clear that Jones would be an altogether different sort of normal.

It is fitting that he Jones died two years to the day that his dad did.  Looking over their “birth” certificates there were born 2 years apart and both died just after the age of 16.

Yesterday evening was like any other evening, the bowl of a hurriedly eaten breakfast was being transported down the stairs while I was trying not to break my neck tripping over Jones as he weaved in front of me, stopping to make sure I was following him and it wasn’t just a ruse and that quite possibly he was finally going to get fed.

Jones was a bottomless pit when it came to food, he would happily eat until he was sick (and then eat that) or it would come firing out of the other end in every conceivable location around the house.  He couldn’t have milk because this too would cause the release of equally noxious liquids, so there was a finite amount that I could feed him that would keep him going to his cat box regularly and with good consistency and that would also, vaguely, fulfill his appetite.

Jones is a cat that whenever I was in the kitchen he was expecting food.  He couldn’t remain asleep in his bed (or wherever he was sleeping) for fear that he may be missing out.  When he realised food wasn’t forth coming he’d make a point of either drinking water loudly (yes, loudly) or licking his bowl for the last few bits of dried morsels that might be left from his last meal.  I was going to do a blog about things that cats won’t eat if they fall on the floor but it would only consist of onions, garlic and bread with chilli sauce on it.

I fed him as usual, then stepped out for about 20 minutes and returned to find him on the floor, being sniffed at by our other cat.  He regularly slept on the floor but that fact that there was no reaction, either to the sniffing Missy or that fact that I might be bringing him yet more food instantly rang alarm bells.

Then came the hail, the thunder, the lightning.

He is now buried in the April snow.

But it was last night when I was going to bed that I realised all the habits I’d developed because of this cat.  The sofa seats could stay down as he wouldn’t be around to pee on them.  He only ever weed on the settee, never “his” chair, I found that out in his first weeks in the house.

I could shut the door to the living room and my bedroom, to keep some heat in.

I can probably leave things on the floor, or things can fall on the floor and now not be targets for the biggest flood of urine I’ve never experience before or since.

I cleaned the cat box and it wasn’t automatically used straight away.

I can give Missy a bit more food, which she can leave and return to, and she can even have some milk.

I won’t have to watch any food I’m eating for errant paws being stuck onto my plate like the intro sausage off Grange Hill.

I might make it from upstairs to the kitchen in one smooth, non-delayed motion.

I wasn’t woken up before my alarm.

I was actually spread out in bed rather than hanging over the edge.

 

He wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom door this morning and he won’t be there to greet me when I get home.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.
Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.

 

SpinningFields Manchester – Spreading the Disease

It seems that separate bits of Manchester architecture comes under threat at the same time in an almost cyclical fashion.

In January of last year I ranted about the sad state of some of the proposed decisions facing the heritage of central Manchester.

While the situation with the Fire Station on London Road is resolved in so much as Britannia have finally attained their 30 pieces of silver and like wise the Ancoats Dispensary reached its funding targets, just this week Bruntwood put forward their plans for the redevelopment of Oxford Road Station, which made no mention of its plans for the listed Salisbury Pub (or Grand Central for that matter).

Other news was that another historical pub The Sir Ralph Abercromby (petition) was also being tendered to be flattened along with a few other buildings in the area.

There are a few places in Manchester I don’t like to go to drink; namely the Printworks, Deansgate Locks and Spinningfields.

As banal as Printworks is and as loathsome as the Locks are they are at least honest and exist in such away as to work well with the area they have been created in (unless you are the Police).

The same I can not say for Spinningfields; a place as fake and phony as the wankers that go there and the food, drinks and “culture” that exists between the artificial grass, cold steel and empty glass.  It is a lifeless, soulless place.  A cut-through between Manchester and Salford and a place now deemed worthy of expansion by taking a wrecking ball to more of Manchester’s places and sites & sights of interest.

As plans and rumours keep swirling it may well be that most of the buildings will remain and be renovated but the Sir Ralph will make way for, it would seem, a car park, which given Manchester’s history will be horrendously overpriced parking in a bid to drive trade away from local and small businesses and seemingly push it towards that other soulless place that is the Trauma Trafford Centre.

Councils are not my favourite group of people.  From some reason, no matter the size of the council or the make-up that may consist of apparently local people the continually make decisions that run against popular opinion

This piece is not about the politics (or football) of red and blue, merely another hair-pulling exercise about the short-sighted decisions made by our increasingly untrustworthy public officials and that whereas jaw-jaw is preferred to war-war they all fall to more-more.

I hope you find time to sign the petition(s).

 

Thanks for reading.