Tuesday, 23 July 2013

One day busking

Recently I started busking regularly, and after some ups and downs I'm in the middle of a time when every day is a story in itself - a week's worth of interesting events massed together in a morning's work on the street.

Today there was the man trying to sell pyramid schemes, who clapped loudly and alone for about a minute after all my pieces, then the lady with the most beautiful smile of all - reminiscent of someone I loved and lost - came with her son and I played her favourite tune (Ricuerdos del Alhambra) then his (twinkle, twinkle little star) and how she beamed...It felt like the high point of my life. At some stage I played Radiohead's Creep and entirely lost myself in it. After that a man who looked a little like a 40-something rocker walked towards me looking fixedly - I wondered if there was half a chance he was going to throw a punch for some reason - but smiling, who said "Absoutely beautiful! That's years of practice"...and walked off again.

Then my friend Tim, who plays lazy jazz improvisations of hymns and songs on the piano, saying he'd had his best morning ever - pondering whether it was because he'd prayed that morning. The seeds from the tree coming down and pelting me and my guitar case as I played Bach - the German tourist who appreciated same (the Bach not the tree)

The whole month of playing has been full of little stories - a woman who told me In My Life was her wedding song when I played it. Girls probably too young for me leaving notes and phone numbers, waving at me the next day when they see me. My family doesn't make me smile, but these fleeting friends who will many of them go back to China, Korea, Spain, France and Italy next week, these are the ones I think about with a happy smile - for our shared moments.

(post was actually started and mostly written on the 19th July)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Why we don't need feminism

So recently I was talking to a woman who told me about some incident, explaining to me that "this is why we need feminism". Now she's repeating an idea she's seen on the internet, "reasons why we still need feminism" is something of a meme on Twitter and Facebook. In one case, a bunch of naive students from Oxford University decided to have their pictures taken infront of the Radcliffe Camera with placards hung round their neck giving their own handwritten notes on why feminism was still needed. They looked exceptionally foolish.

No doubt men's rights activists have already responded in their own, inimitable fashion. But I'd like to give my own little rebuttal if I can. Here's why we don't need feminism.

  • We don't need another rabid political group of resentful crazies selectively picking statistics and then misrepresenting them, claiming they show discrimination when close analysis shows just the opposite, or talking about "patriarchical violence" whilst suppressing research showing symmetry in partner/domestic violence
  • We don't need young women to be told that if any man criticizes them, ever, then it is ok to call him a "misogynist" and to never listen to a single thing he has to say - and then to claim innocently that they weren't  implying that he hated women when that is precisely what they were doing.
  • We don't need good science undermined by people stupid enough to thing that if you want men and women to be the same psychologically, then the real world will magically be that way.
  • We don't need an army of amateur theorists on YouTube finding hidden (actually non-existent) patriarchical subtexts in TV drama, or making the ludicrous assertion that toy-manufacturers would rather sell to just boys, halving their profits, rather than marketing to girls (when the manufacturers have made strenuous efforts to sell to girls). We don't need the same theorist to baldly turn around 30 seconds later and find an example of hitherto invisible marketing to girls, and then complain about how it's being done, without offering any alternative
  • We don't, in short,  need every discussion, every aspect of life viewed from the narrow political point of view of writers whose only talent is to foster the maximum resentment between men and women - simply to acquire political support for a divisive, selfish cause.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

BBC racial hypocrisy

The BBC seem to have an odd policy of reporting crimes. If the suspect is black or Asian, they will either not report it at all, or not give a description, even until a suspect is arrested, when they might give a name. If the suspect is white (as with the Shipley stabbings recently) they will assiduously report this fact, even after arrests have been made, so there is no need for people to phone in with information.

Look at the grooming scandal, but also a recent case of an Asian girl who was killed (decapitated as it turned out much later). This was reported around the same time as the BBC were making a fuss about attacks on Muslims in the wake of the attack on soldier Lee Rigby. So it may have been taken that this was another such revenge attack - you may have continued to think this until finally the bulletins finally started to give the very obviously Muslim name of the man charged.

Specious justifications

The justification I've heard for this nonsense is that saying "the police are searching for a Muslim seen near the crime-scene" might incite racial tension. There are some obvious problems with this:
  • if you apply this rule, you must apply it across the board, otherwise you are discriminating against whites, which is great if you've been lecturing people for years about racial discrimination
  • there is assumption that if you one-sidedly describe suspects as "white", there will be no chance of racial hatred. 
Let's take this last point apart. Firstly there is the imbecilic canard that only whites are racist. Secondly, consider the fact that one of the problems with the Muslim community in the UK is the feeling - held by many young Muslims - that white Westerners hate them for their religion, either secretly or openly. It is precisely this impression that makes some Muslims vulnerable to the arguments of radical jihadists, and more likely to join extremist groups.

So in the name of avoiding ethnic tensions, there is every reason to suppose that the Beeb could be making them worse.

Egalitarian hypocrisy

The justification above, of trying to avert racism by not describing suspects as black/Muslim, is initially persuasive for some people. It's the sort of thing that makes my partner nod sagely in agreement*. But bear in mind that it is the same people whose lives seem to revolve around the ideal of equality (a “mirage” anyway, as recently deceased Kenneth Minogue rightly put it) who then start making different rules for Muslims/Christians, or men/women. In other words, they care about equality for specific groups, chosen in a very political way. 

If you wanted a single, succinct argument for leftist hypocrisy then this would have to be it.

* have you noticed the power of giving plausible reasons for things? Some in the pick-up community claim that this is very powerful tool in seduction, and I'm ready to believe them