31 October 2011


Much has been made of the long overdue plan to update the laws of succession, notably regarding sex and religion (or rather the religion of a consort)

'It's wonderful', they cry in this age of sexual equality - only isn't this egalitarianism rather shallow? Sure, sexism is bad, but the moment you start questioning why it needs to be a man over a woman, won't you start questioning why it's the first born

...or why from a particular womb?

They preach fairness but the whole concept of hereditary entitlement is inherently unfair - it is just as arbitrary as male precedence, so surely once we question one thing, shouldn't we be questioning the rest?

The Catholic thing was in fact probably the least arbitrary feature, it served a practical and strategic purpose until the start of the last century, whereas proper hereditary succession was thrown out the window when parliament invited foreign monarchs because the true heirs were deemed unsuitable - yet we lose one not the other, when both concepts are seriously out of step with society

I find this very odd, anyone with half a brain should see the logical steps here - that's why the monarchists should be opposing it, if their rationale is to keep one big anachronism they shouldn't let the peripheral anachronisms be altered, likewise any reformer should be pushing for real equality - otherwise they're just shallow and trendy twits

Just saying..

(There's also a little noticed rule about the monarch's permission that George III made up for his brothers, but that's hardly worth mentioning)

15 August 2011

Do we need daddies?

In the aftermath of these riots-cum-looting, or general thuggishness, whichever you prefer, much has predictably been made of fatherless families

For example IDS has just said:

“We’ve been ambivalent about family structure in Britain for far too long.”

Of course, we all know this means single-parent families, predominantly single mothers, but are they really to blame?

Well, yes and no, I think

Undoubtedly the rise of the Vicky Pollard style teenage mother with her feckless brood is a problem - arguably if there were good hard-working fathers in those lives those children would be much better off (or alternate partner if you wish, I don't necessarily think it has to be a male, although generally it's going to be)

But this does not simply mean a single parent is worse, or a problem in itself

I come from a single parent family, did I go and out and rampage through the streets? I can't prove this here of course, but I'd like to think you believe me

You see it's all well and good to bang on about families and how bad people like me are, how I'm so much less likely to have a degree (masters) or a job (I do) or have a family (married), but the real issue is hidden in what I said earlier - 'good' and 'hard-working' - it is the stable environment that is vastly more important

I bet you we all know a single parent, and I bet, unless you roam around inner city ghettos that the kids are fairly standard, and likewise you may have right terrors born to 'proper' families

The statistics bear out of course, but they also bear out for black people - anybody want to suggest that's inherent to what they are rather than where they are?

You live in a place where young women are poorly educated, have little respect for themselves and are treated like dirt by feckless young men, who also have no respect for themselves or anything, then you are going to get social problems and out of control kids - even if you were to force marriage, and even fidelity, upon them, you are not addressing the root of the problem - the single mothers in question are a symptom, not the cause

So there's no need to worry about young Mrs Smith down the road, whose husband just buggered off with his secretary, producing the next gun-toting hoodlum

I do think welfare is misguided - we effectively encourage people to breed and be irresponsible, because we won't let anyone starve, but this just encourages dependency, ironically my mother never did, and never would, claim welfare

Ultimately this is about those willing, or able, to engage with society and play by the rules, and those who can't, or won't - a breakdown of respect, particularly for themselves, the individual family structure has little to do with that

So how could I ever say single parent families are to blame? I couldn't, and frankly anyone who says that is a dimwit, or just hateful

What I do say is a lot of these problems do happen to come from single-parent families, but what is needed is a stable and loving home, the culture that happens to create single mothers in deprived, inner-city areas rife with gangs is to blame - attacking the notion of single parenthood itself is, at best, just plain daft

19 July 2011

It's for your own good

I will take this opportunity to point out that several of my comments on the Peter Hitchens blogs about the 'hacking scandal' are being censored

Literally all I did was point out to people Guido's interesting post obtained via the Information Commissioner's office regarding the press and recorded offences of 'blagging' - that's it, in fact I didn't even mention details, but advised people to seek out information on the blogs

Absolutely nothing libellous, offensive, rude etc nor is anything in Guido's chart, it's all freely available government information - yet it didn't make it through

When I made the comment (which is often found on the Hitchens blog from a variety of posters) that my posts were disappearing without notice, this too failed the mods - I deliberately kept it that brief because I was pretty confident it would happen, I don't know of a way to prove this, I'm not that tech-savvy and didn't bother taking a screenshot, but I am hopeful a couple of other people had the same problem

I am not outraged by this behaviour - I think it perfectly reasonable that a company choose not to publish harmful information about itself - that's the job of others - isn't it?

Not if you listen to Hitchens arguments, last week he was warning us of the big bad politicians and how they need to be held to account

All true, but as we've just seen - nobody is holding the press, who lie, cheat and flout the law, to account and I can see no condemnation of this behaviour from Hitchens - he seems to take a 'better the devil you know' approach, and seems to justify the culture of silence between the press as a necessary evil to maintain commercial success

If we criminalise the press, and take away a vast resource of information from them (the tabloids at least) then they will not have the power to scrutinise the government

But I'd like to know who is meant to scrutinise the press - controlled by a tiny elite, they have vast power themselves and arguably papers like the Mail have a detrimental effect on our society by reducing debate to that of childish name-calling and scaremongering, we need these publications and they need to be allowed to do what they want? It's all for your own good you see

Hitchens, supposedly a man of strong moral conviction (something I've always questioned seeing as he opts to work for probably the least moral paper of them all), is quite happy to allow the press the freedom to make up s h one t, so they can make money and scrutinise the politicians, but yet won't allow people on his own blog to scrutinise one of the most powerful and influential industries in our society? The press do not scrutinise themselves ('dog eat dog'), that would just bring chaos - so how exactly do the public bring newspapers to account? They can't, which is why this hacking scandal has been quietly kept away from the public for the best part of ten years

Nobody is denying that politicians are scum, but the media are also scum, and it can quite easily be shown that the law has been violated for decades to make grubby stories about royals and celebrities to line pockets 'hold the government to account', this is not a price we must pay - scrutiny of the press will not bring about a North Korean situation, in fact the British press is infamous for it's cut-throat behaviour, you don't find it in perfectly free countries like the US, Australia, Japan or Sweden, a few ethical rules, such as those that we are supposed to already have and don't enforce, would quite easily control them

The real truth behind this is that the press in Britain need to behave in this manner to be successful, not because nobody would pay them without their gossip/nonsense, but because competition is fierce - Britain has a huge amount of national dailies, all vying for a piece of a dwindling readership - they need to be shocking, and therefore their tactics verge on the desperate - if the Sun doesn't do it, the Mail, or the Express, or the Mirror will

Whereas, in Australia for example there is only one populist rag - the Telegraph (or it's local NI equivalent), then there are two 'high-brow' papers - one left, one right - all controlled by one of the two main media players

While we're on it, virtually nothing the press do scrutinises politicians anyway, 'investigative journalism' essentially means celebrity/royal sex scandals - in fact I am struggling to think of an example of illegal activities bringing us a story for the public good (eg expenses scandal, WMD) - public interest arguments easily override this anyway, the crux of Hitchens defence (which I regard as a squeal) is that they need to be able to generate revenue, but the revenue is fixed - they just compete for a share, and in doing so engage in a race to the bottom (declining moral standards eh?)

Proper rules would not stop scrutiny, I find that scenario incredibly hard to believe when our media is so powerful anyway - it would just rid us of a few silly newspapers that are, in essence, solely there to sell smut

Losing a few unpopular (intelligent) papers might be bad for decent opinion you might say, but there'll be no trashed murder victims either

I know I have posted a few times before regarding Hitchens, first I lost respect, then I came to see him as a troll, but now I'm struggling to even take a word he says seriously - this act of self-serving deflection and hiding behind supposed 'freedom of the press' and an Orwellian nightmare is pretty abhorrent

Actually why do I keep going back? Silly boy

09 June 2011

An experiment

Two stories mildly piqued my interest this week, not in themselves so much, but because they both reminded me of Peter Hitchens

A man (I believe 'thug' is perfectly appropriate considering his frequent use of the term) in Bristol is let off a custodial sentence after stuffing ham into the shoes of worshippers at a Mosque in Bristol

The other story is about the scouts openly recruiting more gay members, a Christian organisation, which has irked some (in my view, I don't see why, it seems Christianity has to be represented publicly by Catholics and right wing bible bashers, many Christian groups tolerate homosexuality, the established church of England being one of them, and the scouts adhere to that church)

I have a theory that we may be seeing the scouts story, as it's one of those slightly off-the-beaten-track, Christian-beat up stories, but not the bloke who got let off

Of course, the drunken racist being let off is as good a case as any for his dislike of soft sentencing, as he showed last week, but I am curious as to whether we'll see it..and if we do see it it would be a delicious irony if it focuses on how an attack on Christians is never punished

But hey, I don't want to prejudge, it may be neither, so my apologies in advance to Hitchens Jnr if this week's article is a balanced piece of critical thinking - I simply wanted to put this down before it happened rather than just say 'I said so, honest' and I couldn't really leave it in the comments, could I?

13 April 2011


Cyclists - don't you just hate them?

Apparently MPs are to discuss a bill about punishing cyclists for reckless cycling, or killing

To be honest, it seems a little frivolous as I don't think they are very likely to kill us directly, or even indirectly, very often

But what I really want to rant about is the defence of cyclists, who once again continue to believe the rules do not apply to them

They cite stats that say they don't kill anyone - is anyone claiming they do? Their main crimes are breaking road rules and causing distress to pedestrians, nothing so grand as killing - it's a few kilos of thin metal going at most 30 mph, it's not particularly lethal

In particular, Guardian columnist and cycling advocate Zoe Williams says she is exasperated by the references to red light-jumping whenever bikes are discussed.
She insists the practice largely stems from fear, not arrogance, due to the high number of cyclists killed each year by heavy goods vehicles turning left at junctions, and says ministers should concentrate on tackling such deaths if they really want to make the roads safer.
 In short, she doesn't care about the trivial issue of bikes jumping lights - does anyone seriously believe this has anything to do with heavy vehicles on left hand turns? To tell the truth I don't mind the left turn on red (an idea I support for cars) as long as it's not a pedestrian crossing, what about all the other times they jump reds? In my experience typically on straights

I make a note of cyclists I see in the city every day at work, I have so far noted one single cyclist that didn't break a road rule (nothing technical about lights or helmets, usually pavement surfers or light jumpers), the vast majority seem to drive on busy pavements at speed and expect you to move...I will snap soon

And guess what happened just yesterday? I was with my mother, who is fairly immobile these days thanks to a back problem and isn't that agile, crossing at a simple pedestrian light, no turns or anything, and this dickhead in lycra ploughs straight through the middle of us at full speed, nearly knocking her over - yes, the lights were very much red (she's not that slow) and cars were waiting, there was a group of people crossing and this guy didn't even look - I had already crossed so frankly he was lucky to not hit someone, wasn't like he even had a gap!

So, Zoe Williams, defend that one - still a minor issue? Should cars break reds if they have a gap? My answer would be licence bikes as they are becoming so numerous, I should be able to report this sort of person as he is far too fast for me to even kick, and any pleasant, law-abiding cyclist should have absolutely no reason to disagree with this simple rule that all other vehicles are subject to

She adds: "Can you imagine if every time we talked about cars people complained about drivers doing 80mph on the motorway?
This has got to be one of the most up-your-own-arse arguments I've ever heard - bikes jumping red lights is comparable to slight speeding?

Considering light-jumping is an offence for both vehicles why are we making this comparison? You jump a red in a car you will probably get in trouble, why is the same offence for bikes as trivial as doing an appropriate speed

And likewise - drivers can, and do, get punished for doing 80, bikes have no enforcement - get some actual rules being applied then maybe we'll start making crazy comparisons

11 April 2011

Maybe I will vote 'yes' after all

Another No to AV campaign video, and now it's just getting silly

To be honest this sort of bullshit where they make up all sorts of nonsense to scare people is starting to wind me up

Firstly Alan B'stard makes a comeback in a ridiculously unrealistic political scenario - fairly clearly aimed at your average man in the street who doesn't do politics, but I was struck by the fact that the result was exactly the same as what we have now - a party who tear up their manifesto and do a deal with the Lib Dems to form government and have no accountability

...in what way is that different to what we have? They just tacked on 'because of AV', when FPTP has given us exactly the same situation

Then they end with the frankly offensive statement 'one person, one vote' - one of the main beefs of reformers like me is that we do not currently have 'one person, one vote' - more than half of voters cannot win and therefore do not even have a chance of being heard, for FPTP campaigners to somehow claim it is one person and one vote is downright lying (of course it technically is, and the film deliberately obscured the lines between voting for a government and a single MP)

What they really want is 'one Tory/Labour voting person, one vote...in a safe seat'

Anyway - Yes to AV! Out of spite

06 April 2011

Ever actually been to a library?

There's been a lot of talk about how libraries will be having to close due to cuts (which, by the way, has more to do with local councils deciding to cut certain services over other savings because it's politically expedient) but I really do have to ask, when did you last go into a library?

I ask because I recently started using my local public library in my quest to read more classics, I am a fan of books and wish for there to be free public access to them

However, having actually been to a few I soon realised they are little more than hang-outs for deadbeats, the elderly and stay at home mums which provide more CDs, newspapers and magazines than actual books

In fact, I estimated that roughly an eighth of the building was dedicated to fiction, while the reference section was about as much use as a chocolate teapot

I don't know about you, but when I envisage saving the libraries I picture people perusing shelves crammed with literature, not an old woman saying how she just got the Lady Gaga CD to provide for her granddaughter to burn onto her computer

I think few people realise how bad public libraries are - I am not of course referring to great institutions such as the British Library, the Magdalene Library, or any decent university library (mine was top notch), which no doubt educated people regard fondly, but real local libraries which no doubt educated people never bother visiting because books are so damn cheap anyway

Because the truth is they are drab, underused buildings which can barely be placed in the same bracket with real libraries - no doubt they provide books to some people, but clearly it is very few and it seems to me that we have passed the age where we need to provide literature to the masses through poorly stocked local book houses, my local Tesco probably sells more Jordan autobiographies than the total number of books the library lends, likewise the internet is all but eliminating the need for reference material (and thank god because I pity anyone who is forced to rely on even a city library)

This may sound cruel, and to be honest, I would have thought so too a few weeks ago but having witnessed it first hand I have to conclude they are an outdated model - I still want to provide literature to the masses for free, but the model no longer fits - if you were to invent the concept today, you would not take a large building and stick a few rows of books in it, you would utilise the internet, or even mail-order, mobile libraries are probably more effective

There is of course, another argument for them - the community aspect, libraries provide one of the very few places poorer people in particular can attend classes...or where old people can spend their days communally reading newspapers

But could we not find a way to provide these services whilst getting rid of the books? It would mean smaller buildings and less staff, and I can't believe they even cost a lot now, so surely a 'community centre' would be very cheap

So yeah, cut the 'libraries' - frankly they are an embarrassment to the word and pretty much useless as a provider of books

I appreciate that this is a difficult concept to swallow, I would simply ask that you go and walk into your local town or city library and take a look - see how little use they are getting, how much space they are wasting and of how much use they are to your reading needs

I don't wish to close them per se, I just want to make a relevant service for this century

01 April 2011


Guido has helpfully posted a NO to AV video that points out BNP votes would be redistributed and could choose the winner

Oh my God! The BNP voters could swing it...

Yes, as the video shows, the small amount of BNP votes would be added to the other parties, pushing the second placed party into first

I'm not sure if this refers to Labour or Tory, or even Lib Dem, it's pretty much hypothetical anyway - but it is either of these two parties that would win - that's the AV system, nothing changes - it just reinforces a two-party system

That's actually one of the reasons I don't want AV, and I'll vote against it, but this kind of argument just infuriates me - there is no logic to this

The word 'BNP' is essentially being used as a bogeyman here - it implies we will get the view of extremists, and also that these voters don't deserve a vote, when in reality we will get a similar result to what we have now and as much as we dislike the BNP, you are allowed to vote for them and there's perfectly legitimate grounds to boost a second placed party because for example, the majority is right/left but the vote is split by a variety of parties, allowing the minority view to come through the middle - this will work both ways, as UKIP, BNP, Greens, Lib Dems, and Labour all split the right or left vote

What I'm saying here is the typical AV argument still stands, it's a debatable point (and I'm not backing either side really), using the term BNP to scare people into thinking 'they' will dominate elections is just scaremongering and frankly pathetic - the real reason the second placed party wins is because they came a very close second and are more preferred by the majority of voters

And of course, it also misses the point that voting patterns would differ from those made in a FPTP system, where people are forced to back the lesser of two evils - there would probably be more votes for smaller parties with a preference system

That said, I'm still anti-AV - it's a rubbish, pointlessly complex system that no-one uses and produces the exact same results as FPTP,  which again, no-one uses (except the US) - the whole debate is a false argument

22 March 2011

Shelley said it

Further to my last post about pretentious nits reading whatever they like into a famous, and therefore deeply meaningful, book, this article on Frankenstein rather amused me

My favourite has to be the Scottish guy who apparently wrote at university that it was about the English treatment of the Irish....right

Did he look at the publishing date? The guy is going on about creating a murderer (i.e. Irish republicanism) - but it was published in 1818, unless Mary Shelley had exceptional foresight this is post-modern, anti-English wishful thinking

The sheer fact that the book is subtitled (which many classics often are, and which tend to be ignored by reviewers looking for their own meaning) 'The Modern Prometheus' should tell you what it was alluding to, I hope he didn't get a good mark for that drivel

Personally I believe Shelley was really trying to promote vegetarianism and support Israel

(If you want to really know how intelligent some of these amateur literary scholars are, just look at how many think she was critiquing Victorian society - 'Victorian ambition', 'Victorian paradigm' - remind me when the Victorian era started?)

Ironically, Queen Vic was born in...1819

11 March 2011

The Phony Book

I recently had the displeasure to read what is possibly the most overrated book of all time, namely the Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

This is that 'shocking' book that became the most controversial piece of literature in America and is considered one of the great modern classics, nearly always by baby boomers with an obsession with the 60s

To be honest, I knew relatively little about it, 'Catcher' is relatively popular as a set text in schools, but my school were very much anti-American literature, and I have never gone out of my way to read American since, so all I know is based on the views of others - I knew that it was a 'coming of age' tale for example, and I also knew it was considered shocking for a considerable amount of profanity in the 50s, but that it is largely inoffensive to a modern audience

That was about it, so I read it, seeing as it's always on those '100 books to read before you die' lists and everybody has an opinion on it

I knew from the first page that I was going to hate it, the book is from the perspective of a 16 year old, Holden Caulfield and is seemingly the definition of a stream of consciousness novel, from the outset he is speaking in this incredibly roundabout, pointless fashion that drove me near insane. It really did. People who constantly repeat the same goddam point really knock me out. They really do.

That's essentially the gist of it - and that dear reader, is the sort of language you will endure for nearly 200 pages, whole paragraphs devoted to him repeating and reaffirming the same goddam point, and as you may have guessed, saying 'goddam' rather a lot

I eventually worked out, after finding nothing offensive for the bulk of the book, that 'goddam' was in fact the controversial profanity - this is probably a result of my being English, where damn has never particularly been considered to be a 'swear', I was expecting at least a s h one t here and there, but nothing, the thing is ridiculously mild by modern standards, particularly if you aren't American (where the controversy has always been, in fairness)

I laboured on, learning the language after a few pages (i.e. skipping lines which I knew would only be him saying 'I hate X. I really do. That really knocks me out.') appreciating that many old classics are often written in strange ways due to their subject and/or period, assuming that there would be some great metaphorical point to a fascinating plot here

Alas, no, the 'plot' is that Holden is kicked out of his posh boarding school for the umpteenth time and goes on a bit of a bender as he heads to his home in New York, while calling everyone phonies and fantasising, a lot

The plot itself is not really the point, it's more his thoughts that the various scenarios bring up that are the key elements of the novel - like how near everyone is a 'phony' and how he hates essentially everything about modern life (movies, school, adults in general), he is both a nihilist and a hypocrite, as while Holden may be making a valid point about the falseness of society, he repeatedly shows us how much of a phony he is - constantly lying and going on about drinking and women for example - maybe that's the point, but I found it very hard to sympathise with the general point when he was so weak and childish and I kept bouncing between who was worse - the individuals who he was so disdainful of, or him

His other main focus of thought is his dead younger brother, who he hero-worships as a genius and his little sister, who seems to be the sole living person that he is positive about

That's about it, he's a confused nihilist who is defensive/hostile towards pretty much everything except that which is dead, or a child

....And now do you see why angst-riddled teenagers love it?

The boy is angry at the world and the whole wanting to stop children falling off a cliff (he's a catcher in the field of rye...) is an obvious allusion to the pain of growing from a child into an adult, the metaphor is laid out on a plate for you

Any other metaphor taken from this is just wishful thinking I think, he is a boy who is probably suffering from some sort of grief related disorder and possibly having a nervous breakdown, but I can see how his nihilism and complete disregard for anything, even himself, chimes with teenagers, while his actions may be rather extreme, I can sort of see a resemblance to my own thoughts in my nearly-forgotten teenage years

Maybe I would have liked it more back then, I certainly wasn't as bad as him, his thoughts are ridiculously erratic for one, but then very few teenagers would go that far, they might share the general sentiment of hopelessness, however, so I can see why a fair chunk of American teenagers thought it was so radical

Look at me, I seem to have started defending it and finding meaning in it, well actually I was never going to call it complete garbage, it's not a trashy romance novel and there is a clear allusion to teenage angst, but that's about it

What I wouldn't do is call it a 'classic', while there is a point to it, it is a very simple one that is made in absolutely mind-numbing language and dressed up in a load of seemingly pointless and excessive description

As I've just shown, there is a discussion to be had on it's meaning, but you could say that about all but the trashiest novels and what I really want to point out is that while I have been thinking it over since I finished it, I absolutely hated reading it - the whole point of a good book is that you enjoy it, or it is has an incredibly profound point to make, I am principally debating the meaning of this book now because I have been conditioned to expect one from it, and it's a lot more enjoyable going back over it in my mind than in the actual book -and the points I have found to think about are very few in number, I seem to have forgiven it by trying to find some meaning and I really shouldn't just forget how irritating it was solely to discuss some fairly inane points about growing up

I simply don't think it adds up to being a classic, Salinger has described an angry teenager quite well and maybe appealed to a fair few angst-ridden teens but that's about it, the thing is a chore to read and, crucially I believe, has not aged well - you look at it's biggest fans (brilliantly, almost certainly 'phonies') and they are primarily those baby-boomers who were teenagers in the 50s and 60s, they think it's a classic because it spoke to them when they were kids, and of course they, the most powerful present generation, still love the damn thing, but a modern reader has little to take from it - a classic must be timeless, it must be at least an enjoyable read or impart some wisdom or philosophical point, this just describes a moody teenager in the 50s (ok, 40s if you want to be technical)

Certainly this book is important, I have seen praise for its description of post-war New York and its impact on a generation is clear, but that makes it of historical interest - it means we look at it from the perspective of 'why was this book popular' rather than 'why is this book so good', it's akin to the current fascination around the Twilight books, it's quite simply an overrated teen novel

One last point, I've been thinking about why teachers inflict this novel on teenagers:

Number 1 is obvious - because they are baby-boomers and liked it when they were school-age

Number 2 is more fun - that teachers want to do some amateur psychology on their students and see how many can identify with it and how many think it's tosh

All thoughts welcome...unless they involve phonies, 'goddam', horsing around or knocking people out

09 March 2011

Sheila's Wheels Come off

I am, as usual, very late to the issue, but alas life gets in the way of my witterings

I take it everybody is aware of the week-old news that insurers will no longer be able to take a person's gender into account

Now you may expect me to rail against this decision, I love to bash 'equality' with statistics and of course the statistics clearly show that men, as a group, cost more - that's a statistical truth

But I'm going to buck my own trend here, unlike say, Peter Hitchens, I do not believe that the enforcement of an equality law here is a bad thing

Yes, men cost more, but what you have to ask is - is it fair to charge the average man 60% more than a woman simply for being a man?

Surely, if he's 60% more likely to crash (or rather, claim), then yes?

While strictly speaking yes, it is cheaper to insure women as they are less likely to claim, what this really comes down to is where you draw the boundaries - why only stop at gender? You could show a difference between people with different hair colour, eye colour, height, weight, and of course skin colour - all of these features could in theory be assessed for risk

But we choose some very simple, easy to measure categories - is this fair on men?

'Because you are a man, you are more likely to crash' - well actually, for this to be true it has to be shown to be something inherent in men generally

However, we all know that this is not the case - many men are excellent drivers without a claim to their name (me included), and they are not even a minority, but we all know there are some, shall we call them 'twats', who drive like loons and write off three cars before their 18th birthday - these are the minority

Is there any link between these two types of men? Other than sharing the same chromosomal combination, no, a minority within the group force the majority to pay more because they all happen to have the same type of genitalia - as I said, it's a simple measure to use, it's easy to draw a line through sex and offer women a better deal

But it's not really fair, saying everyone of one group is more of a risk because of a small group within that, there is nothing to stop them drawing lines around any of the features I outlined (except practicality) - imagine saying 'black people claim more, therefore black people pay more'

Could be a perfectly true statement (almost certainly there's a difference either way), but it's not done, and nor would it be done, I expect, if women were shown to cost more - that would be discrimination, because quite frankly, it is, as it's pre-judging you based on your particular grouping

The only way around this is, as Hitchens junior remarked, is that men and women are different, racially you can't get away with that argument even if the stats bear out because races are considered equal, but the assumption is made that men's brains are hardwired to be more dangerous...because of the actions of a minority, which is exactly the same principle that leads to racial stereotyping

It means I am the same risk as Paul Gascoigne or Tony Blair, but clearly there are other factors at work - if I were a tiny minority then I could understand, but the fact is the majority are punished because we are arbitrarily put into the same box as the offenders, you may as well lump us in with murderers and paedophiles as we are far more likely to be them as well

Our sex has not been shown to be the overriding factor in the risk, some men are twats, but not all (or most) - it's just an easy, and very lazy, way of measuring us

So yes, it is discrimination and there is no reason why my gender should mean I pay hundreds more a year than my wife, mother or sister, unless you're a lazy insurer who wants to cash in on women costing less, us green eyed people would cost less too!

30 January 2011

How to get on in life

As if we needed reminding that in this world it's not what you know but who, it transpires that Jacqui Smith is to front an investigation on BBC 5live into the porn industry

It's not enough that she's paid handsomely as a 'consultant' (i.e. back door to Parliament) for minimal work, on a gold-plated minister's pension for two years of ineptitude, and is actually being considered for appointment to the BBC Trust but she gets a stint in the media to present on an issue that led to her own downfall

Now it's clear where the production company are coming from, she was hit by a porn scandal and she's known so there's a good angle here, much like the 'Anne Widdecombe meets people she dislikes' documentary, but she is no more an expert on the issue than you or I, and considering her frankly appalling stint as one of the chief lawmakers of the country it seems rather a kick in the teeth that she is handed cushy jobs for simply having a public presence

She is, in short, a metaphor for what is wrong with our political system - she comes through the party system, is quickly promoted because she's a woman, put into a supposedly vitally important and prestigious role under an unelected and unwanted Prime Minister without any sort of qualification or experience for the job because essentially, there's no other candidates left, then f**ks up pretty much every decision and is forced to resign after less than two years due to a combination of ineptitude and revelations about fraudulent claims. She is then one of the relatively few Labour MPs to booted out of her constituency (I believe the appropriate term would be 'flogged') and is she punished for all this...

...no, she is given not only an MPs wonderful pension, but a ministerial one - now I do not mind MPs and ministers receiving pensions (although I'd rather they reflect the reality of the modern workplace) for their public service, but when a person has been parachuted into the role, with no accountability, and is generally regarded to have failed, is it right that they are rewarded for their failure?

Put simply there is no reason not to take these jobs, if the party offers you an important job in the government why not just take it? It's win-win as the worst that can happen is the media criticise you and you might lose your seat, for which you will be paid, there's no punishment, just get up there and do whatever you want

Then, to rub it in to us plebs who struggle to make ends meet, these people are handed consultancy work for large corporations, being effectively paid our yearly salaries in minutes - they have no skill, no experience, just an 'in' to the major parties, while we are told to work hard and be rewarded for our efforts in a 'meritocratic' system, if you get in to the political game all you have to do is pat the right backs and you'll find yourself right at the top being handed jobs you would otherwise never be considered for

sigh...rant over

06 January 2011

It's your fault for not liking it!!

Exciting news, everybody

Stargate Universe has been cancelled

Now, this was actually announced nearly a month ago, so I'm a little late to the party but I just couldn't help checking if the guys that made it were still in denial about how rubbish their show was, particularly after Joseph Mallozzi, one of the main writers, rubbed it in the critics' faces when they got a second season

Ever since the show started it was criticised, and the ratings tumbled throughout the first season as the episodes got more inane and pointless, the defence was that old Stargate fans simply couldn't let something new and interesting happen to their favourite series - I rebuked that, the simple fact is it was a rubbish show, lacking in any real direction, drama, complexity or depth and it has been really irritating to see people like Mallozzi dismiss valid complaints, made by a far wider group than traditional Stargate fans

So it saddens me to see him continue to stick his fingers in his ears, defend the tumbling figures because the tv world is just so different now to when the other two shows were on - less than a million viewers is less than a million viewers

Meanwhile the co-creator, Brad Wright. blamed the fact that SGU was bumped to Tuesdays - because you always see good shows moved from the best slots and then die in a slightly worse one...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not revelling in the misery of others, and I did want the show to be a success, but unfortunately the production team's sheer arrogance in the face of perfectly valid criticism has really annoyed me over the past two years, and I'm happy the critics have been proved right

Happy new year! By the way