Friday, 9 December 2011
His enemies now scent blood, however. Nick Robinson, of the scrupulously impartial BBC (twas a joke, people) conducted an interview that was simply an attack on the Prime Minister - an attempt to imply that he has shafted the country.
Robinson will perhaps repeat some guff about this being a very serious issue, and needing to grill the prime minister. In actual fact, this has often been the excuse used by him and his colleagues. The BBC need to remember that they are not the party of opposition. Their impartiality credo, if they believe it at all, means standing aloof from party politics and giving both views - once again they are only giving one view. Anyone can see the difference in attitude in their interviews with the PM and the leader of the opposition.
But it is not just party politics the Beeb are playing. Their agenda has been pro-euro, pro-EU for as long as I can remember. Peter Oborne thinks it was true in the 70s for the referendum and decisions that were being made then. It is certainly true now.
Of course Ed Milliband is saying the prime minister got it all wrong. I do understand - believe me - that the opposition exists to provide criticism. But it should be a valid criticism - and I am not sure I know what Milliband would have done differently - does anybody? What would he have done? In essence Milliband is exactly like Cameron was in opposition - an opportunist making the right noises. But it's annoying at such a difficult time for the country - this is rather like joining in another country's aggressive diplomacy against the UK to score political points.
We shall see what Mr Johnson and IDS do next. Cameron must explain clearly (not his strong point I know) what the problems were with the Merkozy proposals
Thursday, 8 December 2011
The "woman monsterers" he is talking about are the commenters and journalists who, he says, hurl verbal abuse at female journalists online and in print.
The example recipients of this behaviour that he lists include Polly Toynbee, Melanie Philips, and Laurie Penny. (I could add that Jan Moir has received some abuse online, which does provide another example)
Now I have seen some criticism of Toynbee, mainly calling her a "champagne socialist" for talking about socialist issues when she has a villa in Tuscany, and there is some dislike of Philips, mainly as an outspoken writer for the Daily Mail, a paper vilified by the liberal left in the UK.
Laurie Penny has certainly been on the wrong end of a lot of criticism, and many jibes of immaturity and self-absorbtion. On the other hand she is someone who gets very excited about revolution, calls Conservatives "hordes of drooling poshos", and can be rather sharp tongued about the male of the species.
Cohen's article does echo what some feminist writers said a month or so ago. My view then has not changed, online debate is very tough on everyone, there is no conspiracy to "silence women" as some implied back then. We'd need to look a bit more carefully into the evidence before jumping to that conclusion. This is one of the difficulties with any debate involving gender at the moment. People with a political agenda one way or another will state their conclusions as established fact before doing any sober analysis, then attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees with them.
If you are in doubt about whether we do need to look again at evidence for Cohen's conclusions, indeed if you have read his article at all, I would strongly suggest you read the story of Neil Lyndon (here and on wiki)
Lyndon wrote a piece in the Sunday Times 20 years ago, mildly criticising feminism. Efforts were apparently made by female journalists to block publication of his piece. The response in the next week's paper was revealing (quoting from the Guardian link above):
"Looking back at the cuttings, there was not much discussion of the content of his writings, rather it was the size of penis, his ability to attract women and the fragrance of his breath that were called into question. One adjective was so routinely applied to him, you began to wonder if it was part of his name: the Inadequate Neil Lyndon"
The abuse didn't stop there, including physical attacks, further insults and work drying up for him, when he wrote a book on the subject. Lyndon must have been very tough to come through what happened next..
Cohen concludes his
"The cases of Penny, Toynbee and Phillips show the hollow-eyed masturbators on the comment threads are not alone. Journalists are more than willing to encourage them."
Now some people might be a touch surprised to find our heroic defender against "vicious denunciations" ( a quote from the article) going on to describe the denunciators as "hollow-eyed masturbators on the comment threads", but I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation.
Please, if you have read Nick Cohen's piece in the Spectator, read the above links too...
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Recently, I read with great sadness in the local newspaper that a teacher (who I remembered from my schooldays about 100 years ago) had passed away. Let's call him S.
Often we don't have time to think about small events like this and all the thought and feelings they evoke. But I like to think, to flesh out exactly what I feel about matters at this point in time. In this respect alone, perhaps, I am very much a writer. I photocopied the meagre obituary and it has been sitting on my desk since then, and when I see it, then I realise there are some interesting thoughts there that would stand examination.
There were rumours going about that S "watched boys going in and out of the showers", and he certainly insisted that we all take showers after games. He also very assiduously did up 13 yr-old boys' ties if they were slightly misaligned. I think some teachers knew about this and it rankled with them, without ever becoming a serious problem. Another teacher once lectured us to bring both coloured jerseys to a rugby game, otherwise a "certain person" would pick up on the fact (meaning that the miscreant boy might find himself playing without any jersey at all)
The joys of attending a 20th century English school! I'm very near the point of saying "It never did me any harm". And in actual fact in my case I can say it didn't. There were 2 other teachers of mine (in a different school) who had to leave their posts because of alleged approaches to, and 'friendships' with, boys in their care. Rumours were legion. I had one-to-one lessons with one of the teachers, and evening sessions of 4 pupils with the other. I never saw any hint of impropriety, though I'm sure it eventually did happen with others. One of the two actually lived for a time with an ex-pupil, after both had left the school, I've heard.
Conversations with others of my age show similar stories from different schools. As a parent now, of course, I would be very wary, on my child's behalf of entrusting them to the care of such a person. But I've always wondered how life would be if my (ordinary heterosexual) feelings for women were illegal, condemned in hushed tones, and created such anger as even the mild behaviour that these teachers mostly repressed. You get an idea of it, occasionally, when a woman calls a man a "pervert" for looking at her "in a particular way". But I don't have to keep my feelings a secret from everybody, I don't have to exercise such care, or be aware of quite the same risks*
I should say I never heard of any such stories concerning S, though again I think there was at least a little substance to the rumours. There he would stand there in his warm coat, scarf, looking very comfortable in the freezing weather, and he'd have a line of freezing schoolboys repeating after him that pain was "good for the soul!", telling us enthusiastically that even better was 'agony'.. It was one way of dealing with the list of complaints and cries of "It's not fair, sir", that largely make up a teacher's life, I suppose. He earned the nickname "Sadist", which didn't find it's way onto his obituary.
* oddly, as soon as I write that, it strikes me as obvious that single straight people DO often exercise great caution in their decisions, DO often worry a great deal about what everyone will think, and DO sometimes find their sexual behaviour angrily criticised. But not to the same degree, I would think.
Thursday, 15 September 2011
He has, among other things, owned up to making a lot of edits to Wikipedia pretending to be someone else - someone he was at university with. The sheer number of edits is breathtaking, though I suppose we are talking about a decent period of time here.
Wikipedia is meant to be an encyclopaedia. When people try to misuse it to push their own agendas they are basically trying to rewrite history. Almost all of Hari's edits (you can see them listed here) are on Wiki articles relating to either friends or enemies of Hari. There is a preponderance of edits to Richard Littlejohn's wiki entry and associated talk-page. Other pages include Melanie Philips, Polly Toynbee, Tania Gold, Julie Bindel, Francis Wheen, Rob Blackhurst, Mark Steyn ("It is very important to have a criticisms section. This should not have been removed" is Hari's description of one edit). Most prominent of all is Hari's own wiki entry and discussion page (which makes for fascinating reading after his recent admission). No doubt he would like to give his own side of the story, but not doing so under his own name was a mistake.
It is terribly easy to compare versions of pages on wiki to see what edits a user has made. I've done just one so far, but will do more comparisons I imagine, if I have time. Click here to see the page on Niall Fergusson before and after Hari's edits. You will find reams of stuff about his own attacks on Fergusson, and some responses. The entry on historian Andrew Roberts that he edited also seems to contain comments about Hari's criticisms of him. Somebody has rather mischievously added:
"Roberts has vigorously denied Hari's assertions, responding that Hari "must have a secret crush" on him and notes that Hari was stripped of his Orwell Prize for Journalism in July 2011 for unethical journalistic practices"
More edits to this page may follow, one senses.
By all accounts Hari has mis-used wikipedia to speak well of his friends and attack his enemies. He's not the only person doing this with Wiki. Nor the only one trying to write history as he would like to see it (more on this later). But that doesn't mean it is ok. And, again, all under a false name.
By the looks of some of the discussion pages, some people correctly guessed the identity of this wiki account. I wonder if they then tracked down other posts by him and endeavoured to correct his travesties. Rather hard work, considering the number of edits to go through. But I guess quite a few people will have been aware of something like this going on with regard to individual Wiki-pages. Without some pressure from them I wonder if he would have owned up to this.
Read more on his wiki-editing here.
Thursday, 8 September 2011
David Amess has made (ahem) amess of this by complaining about female newsreaders "smiling" when reporting serious issues. This is hardly going to help his argument, as much will be made of him being rather out-of-date etc.
It needs to be said again, however that he is absolutely right about the everything else he says. The BBC is part of a group that (whilst most of them are probably not anti-semitic) talks as though Israel is a fascist or apartheid state. This is nonsense. To understand Israel it is simply necessary to imagine the level of security you'd need trying to run a small democracy in the middle of about 10 countries sworn to destroy you*. The BBC should report this in a more balanced fashion.
The BBC also takes a strong line on gender politics, which is very nicey-nice of them, very much the moral high-ground amongst some people. It is however a matter of politics, not of fact, and BBC employees with their customary cynicism about politicians would do well to realise that most feminist writers and activists are in the same game, just on a different side. They use the same methods of propaganda, and have the same cavalier treatment of facts and research, using them only when they assist the cause.
The BBC is consistantly critical of the Conservatives, in or out of government. BBC members are disgustingly unperturbed about this. They really do seem to think they are balanced, even when it is clear that their main criticisms of Labour come when they seem to be moving to the centre (or right). They make a great claim to impartiality, but in practice they have given up even trying to be impartial - they have a strong line on most things. Look at the public spending "cuts", the recent riots in London. They really thing parroting the Guardian is a 'balanced' view...
A huge number of people listen t the BBC, and I fear too many believe that it gives 'the balanced view'. Not true. The bias is clear in their news AND in their drama (which was once the envy of the world - now it's worth nothing). They are misusing taxpayers money. It is entirely right that attention should be paid to their vaunted impartiality, and whether they are fullfilling that promise.
* see this artcle on Archbishop Cranmer's blog
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Friday, 12 August 2011
The article has attracted great popularity in Twitter, which is something of a leftist stronghold these days. Guardian readers have popped by to register their astonished delight. It's a good piece of work, but I don't really agree with it. Here is my comment:
"I don't agree at all that there is no ethical difference between rioters/looters, and the expenses fiasco. Guardian readers and tweeters love this piece - I don't
I think there was a feeling of "bending the rules" and "everyone's at it" for the MPs. Whereas the looters' and rioters actions contained a good deal of anarchic and personal malice, also disrespect for property, law, and the right to do business, disrespect for peace and order, and joyfully creating fear.
Also the mindset of the looters was quite different, this has all got to count for something.
I do agree that the atmosphere of sleaze and corruption with which the public now view politicians and journalists, due to many stories, and partly the expenses row, has led to some of the disrespect for the law, authority, and the 'establishment' that led to this criminality.
But many other things did too, the lack of good male role models (not just fathers, who have been legally discriminated against, but we havent given boys a way forward), knowledge that they wouldn't go to prison etcetc"
Monday, 8 August 2011
There's not much new to say, yet we all have to say something. We cannot stay quiet. It becomes fairly obvious that this isn't protest, it's stealing, and a failure of law and order.
See this stunning video, the man fearlessly out on the streets asking looters if they are proud, and the woman replying saying she's "getting her taxes back" (apparently our checks go to Currys, not HMRC)
It's impossible to sleep. I'm distraught at seeing what this country has become, from what I thought it could be. We used to have a culture, many of us believed in a particular way of life. But all that is being destroyed in front of our eyes, and for what?
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
The article is more a controlled shout of rage than any sort of essay. It's written by someone who evidently made and still makes their crust conducting these types of interview, who needs an outlet to vent some job-dissatisfaction, under the pseudonym Victoria Smith.
She is, it seems, sick and tired of the lack of spontanaeity and autonomy that her job has come to entail, one that either used to be more fun, or to which she looked forward to with intense excitement.
That excitement has worn off, leaving a bleak viewpoint on stars and their world.
"In a world of boundless PR power, where small, screechy women in Tinseltown office blocks decide exactly what will be written about their clients in UK newspapers, the star interview is .. a meaningless joke."
In movies like Notting Hill we get a view of what these interviews are like, but..
They don’t mention that personal publicists, direct from LA, often sit in on interviews, just behind your shoulder and in their client’s eye-line, waiting to pounce on any inappropriate question (ie, one that doesn’t begin with “So tell me Angelina, what was it like working with . . .”)
That reminds me of the stupifying boredom of watching the extra features in a DVD. Precious wasted hours of interviews with even the most talented of actors - mindful of keeping their career alive - saying how great it was to work with [insert famous director's first name]. This is what made the suggestion so entertaining that Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford did the most ordinary thing for two strong personalities to do - not get on very well, supposedly - when making the scifi masterpiece Blade Runner.
When himself asked this (in an interview that didn't fit the stereotype given by last weeks Times article) Ford answered tactfully and with some common-sense that in any job you run into difficult working relationships.
All true, and celebrities will be told by their publicists that they must show their 'best side'*, but they truly seem to be hiding their personalities in the process, hiding - you would think - the best and only thing they have in the world. But the film industry doesn't seem to work like that.
* see this gruesome news item and interview with Paris Hilton for a celebrity's worst nightmare, with some journos apparently out to get her.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
After the IRA pub bombings (in fact after every outrage of this sort in, or even nowhere near, the UK) there are repeated calls for the death penalty to be restored. The Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4 would have been dead long before the problems with their convictions were brought to light (if that ever would have happened)
a) How many miscarriages of justice does it take before you realise that Capital punishment isn't such a good idea?
b) it's revenge. That is not a reason for killing someone, though some people seem to think so. They need to show us why the death penalty is the correct response for murder or whatever. The burden of proof is with them and they can't do it.
c) We KNOW it doesn't work as a deterrant,
d) the drawn out appeals process in the US. People (usually blacks or people with low IQs or poor education) spend years on Death Row with the prospect of a gruesome death hanging over their heads. Lethal injection is definitely an improvement on gas chambersr and electric chairs*
Please don't tell me there are cut and dried cases. The concept of proof in the law is much much much more fragile than anyone realises. We're talking about "beyond reasonable doubt" which is NOT the same thing as proof.
Half of what we think we know is wrong anyway, or we have nowhere near enough evidence for. And for every case like this, where there is a confession (and maybe in some cases clear footage) there are hundreds where it's one person's word against another's.
Friday, 29 July 2011
I seem to be a different person every few weeks, which makes planning for the future a little difficult. Actually it just goes round in circles between 3 or more personalities. It can be very uncomfortable, especially when I go through days, possibly weeks, feeling as though I am emotionally dead. But I know that it all goes in circles, a sine-curve, and sometimes I play music on stage and there's an audible sigh after I've finished before the applause starts, and I feel the way I do (or used to) when a beautiful woman shows unmistakeable strong interest , or more.
For some reason, Born Slippy seems to express this mood quite well, especially the euphoric slow chords between the manic madness.
I hope to be coming out of the malaise soon...
Friday, 22 July 2011
It's the story of a "California woman accused of cutting of her husband’s private part and disposing of it in a particularly gruesome way after he asked for a divorce"
Fabulous eh? If you say so. And if a man mutilated a woman in some way would that be fabulous too? Is someone going to convolutedly argue that while (for example) rape is an evil crime, mutilating a man's sexual organs is just fine!
The audience apparently shared the joke
Thursday, 21 July 2011
a) The BBC's claims to 'impartiality' are a joke,
b) All news sources make decisions about what to print or broadcast. These will necessarily be a kind of bias, but what we have here is a battle between news giants, being conducted at the expense of bringing the public news about Libya, Greece, problems with the Euro etc.
Here is one of many excellent posts on the biased-BBC blog showing how this story of questionable importance is attracting several times as much space and time fro the BBC as all other issues put together. And over and over, BBC journalists are using the story to try and put the Prime Minister's judgement into doubt, because of their own political leanings
This is irresponsible reporting and editing. People believe the BBC is impartial (including some who work for the organisation, bizarrely), as it has a written obligation to try to be.
In fact exactly the opposite is the case, and its entire news agenda has been dominated by a a story fuelled by inter-journalistic rivalry and schadenfreude.
The Murdoch papers are running scared - the Telegraph is also run by anti-Murdoch elements (by being successful and ruthless, he's just made too many enemies) and are not doing enough - apart from an excellent piece by Janet Daley
Spread the word. Everyone needs to understand this.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
The subtitle of the piece will give you a clue:
"We are in a strange interregnum of titillation between cultural hegemonies, before familiar hierarchies appear online"
"key to an understanding of how this interregnum is eating holes in the British social fabric"
Which led the way for my personal favourite from the 100s of bewildered comments. This from someone calling himself DannyKen:
"Blimey, Will. You don't so much mix your metaphors as put them in a blender"
I too commented on the images this put in my head. Someone is having a laugh here, surely?
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
I suppose we look back with rose-tinted spectacles at the greatness of George Orwell. Maybe when our descendants look back at this era with the telescopic view of 100 years in the future, another figure will seem equally great to them. Nevertheless, I doubt any of the recipients of the prize named after him will be that figure (Polly Toynbee is one who comes to mind, how did she get the prize? She and Laurie Penny came to Hari's defence yesterday. Not a roll-call of my favourite journalists, I'm afraid)
There's a good quote here, from Splintered Sunrise, on the whole business:
Which is not to say (and I’m trying to be scrupulously fair here) that Toni Negri or Malalai Joya might not have said something to Hari similar to what he quoted – he’d simply lifted his quotes from elsewhere because they evidently read better than what he had on tape. Which, as it happens, is the explanation given by Hari himself in his remarkably pompous blog post (“intellectual portraiture”, forsooth) owning up to this sharp practiceIt's a decent, and I think balanced, post to read about the whole business
*though I do look at Guido's blog fairly regularly to er..keep an eye on things
**I'm not sure about the quality of writing there :S
Monday, 13 June 2011
It was the same behaviour I've seen before, and it is anti-debate, anti-rational. People will simply become yet more entrenched in their lopsided views as a result. There's no doubt a blog or site for every misguided world-view around, so you can agree with like-minded people instead of having your views challenged and in the realest sense possible 'rationalised'
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
So I've been going on about the BBC left-wing bias for a while now, feeling as though
a) I was micturating into the wind, and
b) no one else thought the same way.
Well I was wrong, and my web-searches were inadequate. There is Biased BBC, and also see the comments in David Thompson's blog post here.
Sunday, 5 June 2011
In my previous post, written after reading "Catch me if you can", I started to think aloud about how to try and develop the skills that made Abagnale so effective as a con-artist and (what I think of as a) social engineer. He displayed an extraordiary chameleon-like ability, also an ease of conversation and using it to get information he needed without arousing suspicion. He also was very observant, and something of a fantasist (or liar, you might call it)
One of the reasons he was so good at being a con-man, at an age when I wouldn't have been able to do anything of the sort, is because of the way he lived his life. He was hugely social, became good at interacting wittily (but on a shallow level) with almost anyone. He turned the problem-solving part of his brain to how he could employ his people skills and intellect to the problem of making enough money for the lifestyle (read respect, trust, and women) he wanted.
When I was in my teens, I had plenty of problem solving ability - I just confined it to Mathematical problems and study, and reading too much philosophy. I thought about everything in a different way, was a hell of a lot more cautious, and less worldly-wise. The way you approach problems, and the attitude with which you face them, are often rather unique to you. A people person will be good at thinking of people-solutions to everything, a logician will try and work everything out from solid principles. An artist will try to imagine the solution.
We all have our own style of thinking, and when we try to approach, for example, a people problem with mathematical formulae, or a legal problem with emotional thinking, then we're at our weakest. Another reason why it is good to learn different approaches to life, and get inside the head of someone who thinks at a tangent to the way we do. So yes, I'm now trying to think with the same initiative and imagination as the young Mr Abagnale, if for more legal ends and means!
* * *
I'd like to write a lot more on how Abagnale became the man he did. It is well worth looking into, inasmuch as a teenager making fools of airlines and banks worldwide, hospitals and universities is quite simply amazing
How did he do it? You can't explain his 'achievements' by saying it was his remarkable mix of social skills, intellect, and cheek. You have to look at his story. He lived with his father when his parents divorced, and came into contact with perhaps a rather seedy, bar-room society. This made him cagey, streetwise, and perhaps rather unscrupulous too. He discovered girls - and by the sounds of it went almost temporarily insane in his pursuit of them.
It didn't occur to him that a few dollars cleverly stolen from a big company constituted much of a moral wrongdoing, and with the thrill of success, and more women, his schemes became more daring. He conceived the crazy scheme of pretending to be a pilot - he could cash bad cheques all over America/the world that way and not be caught (so he reasoned) - and began to plan a deception of such cheek that people didn't see it for what it was.
No one working for that newspaper is going to question where the attitudes of this girl come from (prevalent attitudes towards men, differences in perception of violence towards men and women), though many lines of print are written there on which attitudes towards women lead to violence.
I'd like to ask anyone reading this to think about why this was said - why the girl thought it was ok to say this. Here are some guesses:
a) the knowledge that she will probably escape a prison sentence (now where oh where did I read that someone wanted to empty women's prisons because they are too nasty? Do let me know)
b) common representations of men as more expendable in the media.How many times have we heard on the news that "women and children" were amongst those hurt" in some disaster, natural or otherwise. Hurting a man is represented as more or less ok, and frequently justified, if you watch BBC dramas.
The fact that we are (probably) hard-wired to have a little more sympathy for women and children doesn't mean we can pretend violence towards men is morally any different. Or we can, only if you are ready to disregard everything that is said about gender equality being for the greater good. You will also have to ignore anyone who claims that attitudes of 'men' towards 'women' are the cause of rape/violence. Some examples of this from our favourite rag:
I wonder at how easy it was for me to come up with those examples...
Yet if you say this to feminists, they look mystified. They simply cannot see how, if "attitudes towards women" cause violence, there can be any such phenomenon involving blatantly obvious attitudes towards men, and the fact that it is men who are sent off to die for their country, commit suicide more often than women, are treated unequally by the law etcetc.
It's slightly annoying :(
Friday, 3 June 2011
The simple fact is that being a "chav" is nothing to do with how much money you have, or were born into. It does, however, have everything to do with attitudes and behaviour that many working-class people would be ashamed of.
Perhaps this is where Toynbee loses the plot. What she calls "poisonous bile" could actually be described as social forces that help regulate behaviour. We condemn thuggish actions and threatening behaviour. We condemn the videos of kids showing off their knives on YouTube. It's part of what holds society together. Yet according to Polly Toynbee we can't say anything nasty about chavs because, she says, they are working class.
Think about the logic of that for a second. We don't want to do down the working class, so we can't say anything nasty about a criminal if s(he) happens to be working class.
Toynbee has dragged the word 'class' into it for a reason - to obfuscate the argument and delude people into thinking we need to read Marx again to understand the issue. Shall we substitute the word "poor" for working-class? (it seems fair enough) We are now saying: We don't want to do down the poor people for being poor, so we can't say anything nasty about a particular criminal if s(he) happens to be poor.
Happy with that? Because that is what I think she is saying.
The obvious problem is that some of us have started to use the term "chav" fairly derisively. Perhaps Toynbee doesn't like this aspect of things? It's perhaps an ugly part of the social forces I alluded to above, but I wonder whether she has ever said "men" in the same tone of voice we use to talk about chavs? Not even once or twice?
I could argue with every sentence she spills forth. For example:
No. People should try harder to not stab other people, not give someone a kicking because they are bored. It's not hard, you don't need a rich Mummy and Daddy to make that decision.
It reminds me of religious sects or cults where "missionaries" are trained in how to answer every question or rebuttal they might encounter. In fact, I think we'd be a lot safer and more rational if we lumped Guardian readers with the Moonies and Waco cult members and just got on with trying to understand difficult problems of the causes of crime without the hysterical know-alls in that paper.
Here endeth the lesson
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
He was such a sharp observer of people around him, seeing what people might be impressed by, and like any confidence trickster probably telling a lot about people very quickly from their gait/body language/voice etc. He also clearly had quite an imagination - if only to dream up these schemes and ways of getting information from people.
I imagine him formulating a new plan quickly, and thinking "I must start talking to that girl/an airline official/or whoever". Almost immediately, a scenario would come to his mind where someone had a quite legitimate query or occasion to start a conversation - and he would become that role, like an improvising actor. Such adrenaline-rush-fuelled skills may also explain his apparent success-rate with women - I'm sure Neil Strauss and the other pick-up artists would be interested in his approach if the haven't studied that sort of thing already. (He is what they would call a "natural", I believe)
He must also be good at approaching a conversation indirectly, mentioning a topic so the other person starts talking about it, and all of a sudden they are discussing exactly the kind of thing he wants to know about. Sometimes he will tease someone ("no way have you got an A-grade average...I need to see proof!") and that's a pretty well known technique I guess.
These are not skills I've been displaying in abundance in the last year or two of my life ;) Neither is the initiative that all that (in his case misdirected) industry takes. So now I'm setting myself exercises using time on the bus as body-language reading time (there is plenty of raw material, plenty of bodys, all speaking loudly!). It's also worth working on the improvisation-like skills I've mentioned. Anything you could be better at...
This is part of a self-improvement streak that I have to own up to. I've mentioned Neil Strauss above - one thing he has said is to do with working on "inner-game" ( perhaps another word for a kind of confidence), posture, and appearance. He said something in a seminar, along the lines of:
"You guys have no idea how hard I worked on this stuff, drilling it into myself every day"
And I do wonder what the best study/improvement method is, given that time is limited. Really I want to learn new ways of thinking, and 10 minutes of practice every day is really not good enough. And knowing me I'm in danger of my enthusiasm waning after a short while.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
His pregnant wife wished to swap seats with him, so he obliged and found himself next to a child travelling on his own. The man was asked to change back to his seat on the grounds that he became a risk to the child's security.
Now this seems wrong-headed to me, for a number of reasons. Firstly let's not beat about the bush here - it's gender discrimination - precisely what we have been told for years is one of the worst evils in this land. It's sexism but against men so it doesn't make the news. No one will lose their job over this.
BA eventually said that they were at fault because they didn't realise he was with his wife. That too is slightly disgustingly wrong. They are admitting a minor fault, but not retracting their implicit sexism. It's one of the most insulting apologies I've ever seen (and there are many contenders).
Here is a quote from the excellent piece linked to above:
"When you think about it, even though Mr Fischer is quite right to label the policy sex discrimination, he was better off having swapped seats with his wife. Such is the fear and hysteria around child abuse, he might have been at greater risk than any fear-hyped child. Imagine if, having dropped his pen, and feeling for it on the floor, he accidentally brushed his fingers against the child’s leg. The kid screams, “Don’t touch me!” Three hundred eyes swivel his way, the cabin crew come rushing over, the pilot alerts the destination security, the poor sap is hauled off the plane protesting his innocence to no avail, and his life is ruined."
Monday, 16 May 2011
They spoke so calmly - the hostess had a lovely smile and I must admit I was very charmed by her - but the husband too is an unusually happy, positive soul, and wonderful company. We talked about the walks round the area and took their dog on her favourite walk. She charged up and down steep, icy hills and we feared we might lose our host's dog for them but she always reappeared, ready for more mad dashes up and down the hills..
We didn't stay with them this time - but we were passing, so paid this family a visit. Their kindness goes far beyond that of someone trying to keep their guests on-side. Children from around the town came to visit and play on the trampoline. S and I drove back through the road with the most beautiful views I know - alone for miles and miles but for a few sheep and some deserted-looking former pubs - with a man in fatigues wondering between them (the area is used by the military). One of Norah Jones' lovelier albums added to the inner calm I felt. The sun shone over that landscape. My self-worth - whatever that really means - had returned, though I hadn't realised its absence.
It was a wonderful day. Every time I see our friends, I'm reminded how things should be, and how I ought to live. Too much of my life my day-to-day moments seem to have been plagued with nagging worry and discontent - I can still feel that old tension in my shoulders now. But happiness seems such an obvious thing in those Welsh hills. I guess I need that fresh air to breathe. I need to always remember that place inside me.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Its quite possible that those politicians are as unable to distinguish between Hollywood "right and wrong" and the real world as the public they pitch their propaganda to. That seems to always be the question with them - did Mrs Thatcher firmly believe that we had to go to war (in the Falklands and then in the 1st Iraq war) or how motivated was she by the probable electoral boost that a war win would give her and her government? It's the same as what we were saying about Argentina's General Galtieri at the time..
It is chilling to think that politicians could write away young people's lives for such a reason. Tony Blair's motives were continually in question in his time in No.10, and I wish we could know the full story of why decisions to go to war were made the way they were.
But Bin Laden was unarmed and I have a feeling that he should have been brought to trial. Were the US afraid of tortuous legal proceedings? Did this persuade them that they should quietly advise the soldiers to shoot to kill? I'm making this up as I go along, I know, but the fact remains he was unarmed when shot, and the scenario given to the press was flimsy from the start. were they truly afraid he would blow himself and the soldiers up in a suicide attack when cornered? This doesn't have the ring of truth for me - he wasn't a suicide bomber himself - he provided money and a figurehead for such people - but showed no wish to give up his life any time soon, even for his 'jihad'.
And now the steady slew of "revelations" being fed to the press telling us that, for instance, Bin Laden was planning another 9/11 style attack on the US (yeah right! in a stoned haze he might have said something of the kind). Such reports are there to scare us into thinking that "we got there just in time" - as Reagan famously said (was it about Panama?)
Now we learn that Bin Laden "was in active control of the terror network from his compound in northern Pakistan" when doubts have been raised as to whether al Qaeda had anything but the loosest of command structures - and may have been more a network than a military style organisation.
It all sounds like government-generated BS to me, to be honest.
Sunday, 24 April 2011
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Monday, 11 April 2011
Today's example is again on the homepage and is a feature called "Women War Artists", with the subtitle
"The Imperial War Museum London is celebrating their remarkable experiences and achievements"
I'm sorry to harp on about this - I really have no problem with women achieving a much as men do. I just take exception to the political and social pressure to constantly "celebrate" it when a woman does anything at all, however minor. There is an implication here - perhaps not clear even to those writing this stuff but there nonetheless - of a certain inequality, which is exactly what feminists claim they hate the most.
The thinking sometimes hear is that women's achievements have to be 'celebrated' (I hate that word, it is rather PC-speak, don't you think?) because they have been under-represented in the past....This is a kind of orthodoxy and there is considerable pressure in some places to accept and affirm it. .Would I be right in thinking the BBC was just such a workplace?
The problem with this orthodoxy are twofold:
a) we don't know if it's bloody true or not! It's just stated and restated by feminists
b) even if it WERE true, the solution that would be most equal would be not to mention the sex/colour/"race" of who is achieving things in the first place
The problem is that the BBC think that it is important to keep saying that women are doing great things and we need to know why they think that. It does rather look as if they wish to speak negatively about men and always in the most glowing terms about women.
Still doubt me? Do a google search on "women" on the BBC website as a whole, or just in the news section. And you'll see how anxious the BBC are to divide people up into men and women, and assign values and victim status one way or another. Some headlines, in case you miss them:
Women 'cope better with stress'
Men 'out-performed at university'
Are women better negotiators?
If... Women Ruled The World
Monkeys learn more from females
Women drivers 'more law abiding'
Women top men as share tipsters
Women 'to be richer sex by 2025'
Macho culture 'putting off women' in construction
Business | Women could be the way forward
Male managers 'should copy women'
Women better drivers, says watchdog
Women 'better at holding drink'
"Women nose ahead in smell tests"
"Men 'drink far more than women'"
'Don't tell women how to give birth'
Bedside manner 'gives women edge' (in medical exams)
Women 'better investors than men'
Latvian women 'dealing with capitalism better ...
"Hormones make women safer drivers"
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Peter Sissons is not a person I ever had much time for before. Indeed, I often thought he was complicit in the political bias of Auntie Beeb. However I've belatedly come across something of his written in the Daily Mail of all places (not my usual reading matter, I must say) that made me a very happy bunny indeed.
All through Margaret Thatcher's premiership (I was a slip of a lad), my mother would listen to PM at 5pm, the radio 4 news program. Every day a chap who I strongly suspect was Brian Perkins would dole out the bad news in a way that made you lose your will to live another moment longer. I do believe my mother's happiness (and my own) suffered as a result. Unemployment figures, inflation, etcetc were reeled off at us in deadly tones. His tone of voice told us emphatically that "things are getting worse"
BBC newsreaders do a lot with tone of voice, the editors choose their subjects wisely, and give highly partial write-ups and readings to those in any debate. They use the word "Tory" freely. The bias is especially noticeable throughout the BBC website. One commenter on the Sissons story said the following:
The BBC on line form you can fill in to do with their committment to delivering their equality and diversity agenda is loaded with socially engineered wording that is simply sickly and leaves no doubt as to where the company leads towards. It explains much bias consistently churned out led my feminist secular humanist types.
Now I can relate to this having read through a BBC online form asking what I thought of their representation of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals. The questions were all very carefully worded, and there was included a little lecture on why it was right to represent groups in a certain way - just in case you were still undecided.
So when BBC employees furiously defend the coorporation's commitment to impartiality I get particularly annoyed. If you have a strong political bias, have the courage to say it. If their job is to be impartial, I think that certain people are not doing their jobs. And being paid our money. The organisation needs a reshuffle. Sissons talks about the whole mindset of the BBC, Rod Liddle spoke of the the Big Bother feeling (my words) in the seminars and workshops there.
But nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care....The BBC has a big effect on the way many people see the world and I can't see that its reporting is conducted responsibly.
Sissons' essay is superb, extremely honest, and is saying something that should have been said ages ago, and acted on. I urge you to read it, not because I want you to vote for fools like Cameron, but because you should care about standards of journalism and the ideas we are being given to believe.
Monday, 28 March 2011
It's interesting how both Iran and Egypt during the late 70s had "modernising" leaders (Sadat and the last Shah) who had strong links to the West, were considered corrupt by many of their people. They were great friends. One was deposed in 1979, then died. The other (Sadat) was of course shot, in 1981.
Their situations were slightly different, of course. The Shah didn't have enough support from the Shi'a clergy in his country, which became an Islamist state. He introduced women's suffrage in Iran - and look where things are now in that regard.
Adam Curtis focuses much on Ayman al-Zawahiri a good deal. al-Zawahiri was an Islamist who hoped to replicate the same revolution in his own country, he was part of the movement containing the cell that assassinated Sadat.
Sadat had moved first and imprisoned many from the movement before his death. The revolution al-Zawahiri was hoping for didn't happen, the streets stayed calm and the regime stayed in place. Sadat's right hand man Hosni Mubarak took charge and ruled from 1981 till a few weeks ago. On the other hand, no one Egyptian really turned up to Sadat's funeral either (plenty of ex-US presidents and other western leaders showed up, by contrast)
Al-Zawahiri, it seems used to follow the logic that if a muslim didn't follow his views, they were not proper muslims, and could therefore justifiably be killed. The documentary states that, indeed, he thought this killing would be a noble one. In his later Al-Qaeda days he claimed did not kill "innocents" though of course what his definition of "innocents" might have been could be open to subtle changes...
I read recently (can't remember the source, sorry - so a pinch of salt needed with this) that in this new Arab Spring, it would be bad for the West if Egypt and Iran were friends and allies now, but apparently that is far from being the case.
I know there are some people who will seriously contend that these 2 topics are directly related, indeed many people think they have been abducted by little green men in flying saucers who conducted 10 year experiments on them. However, speeding swiftly back to planet earth (on our faster-than-light UFO) and reality I'd like to list some of the topics on the BBC Business News "Women in the workplace" sub-page today.
To their scant credit, the website editors have included the
UPDATE: By 12:30 the same day these pressing gender issues have been replaced on the BBC front page by the super-vacuous Anna Chapman
I believe the correct thing to say here is ROFL. Maybe the feminists are balanced out by the lads in the BBC after all :)
Sunday, 27 March 2011
I won't go as far as to call the channel a "national treasure" as I believe they recently called themselves rather self-congratulatingly. My problems with the channel stem from the preponderance of the following programs
- PM at bloody 5pm (all the news coverage really: every hour, on the hour, and full of the sweet and smelly stuff)
- Woman's Hour (sorry but I can't listen to any more of Jenni Murray or any of her guests*)
- "Thinking allowed" (ffs)
- one or two others
Saturday, 26 March 2011
We all know about his role as a war leader. He was unapologetically proud of Britain's imperial history and (I imagine) must have believed in the rightness of our culture, as he saw it. Not a good start for UK lefty-liberals in 2011, whose creed starts with the wrongness of Empire and seems to proceed all the way to saying that the English are therefore more evil than anyone else.
I'll write separately on that, except to point out firstly that people can persuade themselves of the moral virtues of anything (look at Empire-builders or lefty liberals), but also something that seems to stand out about the man. His humanity.
For all his naivety and Conservatism, he had more than his fair share of personal courage, believing himself destined by fate for great things. He seemed assured that bullets (in the hail of battle) were unlikely to bring him such a prosaic death before he had done his life's work. The lucky chance that kept him alive must have strengthened his self-belief all the more in this regard. I think this sense of destiny - and the vision he had of a "Great" Britain, must have been at the core of him (he doesn't seem to have been deeply religious)
I've heard criticisms, & negative views. These generally came from various lefty friends who wanted to denigrate him for reasons of their own political alignment, and have always been rather petty. I don't think I've yet heard anything about him that fundamentally soured my opinion of the man. I don't share his world view, but I still think that as a national hero (for the second half of the last century) he wasn't at all a bad choice.
Stories are very important to us. They are nearly always oversimplified (and sometimes purely fantastic or fictitious) versions of events. As historical scholarship perhaps they will not do. So if that discipline were done properly it might kill heroes and myths forever. But the power of stories to motivate people, the power of myth to give people belief, can't be forgotten. Exactly that belief is what makes us capable of amazing things.