NEWS: A bigot is a labelled a bigot

April 29, 2010

Calling a mouthy old bigot, a bigot, is apparently some great evil now. The only issue I take with Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy a bigot, is that he didn’t say it to her face. He wimped out. He was all smiles and treating her like a wonderful woman. He pandered to the bigot, for electioneering purposes. And then, behind her back, called her what she is; a bigot. He should have had the balls to say it to her face. She is a bigot.

Sky, with it’s agenda, went on to say “She didn’t say anything remotely bigoted, and in fact was asking about the economy.” Sky omitted to show Ms Duffy at her most bigoted, because it might have hurt their chances at some glorious Labour attacking.

Gillian Duffy, said:

all these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?

Geography lessons might have worked to her advantage here. At that point, Gordon should have said “From Eastern Europe, you daft old bigot” but he didn’t. The Right winged press have had a field day. The Daily Mail support Gillian for bringing up immigration. I expect I can count on their support when I ask the Prime Minister where “all these blacks, asians and queers are flocking from“. I’d hope they’d call me a bigot, because, it is bigoted, and absolutely pathetic.
She should be demonised. Not Gordon Brown.

I keep up-to-date with a blog by an Eastern European lady, who wrote a brilliant argument as to why Gillian Duffy’s comments, are quite obviously bigoted. Elmyra writes:

“The slow, sad realisation that the political culture in the UK is such that no politician has any choice but to grovel to the bigots. Because standing up and explaining to them instead that immigrants make a massive contribution to the economy, let alone that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of nationality, citizenship or contribution, would be political suicide.
And finally a profound sense of isolation, hurt, and being alone. Tears and huge heaving sobs. I’ve not cried like that in about five years.
That’s how Gillian Duffy has made me feel today. What did I ever do to her?”

That is why Gillian Duffy is a bigot.
Gordon Brown was right.

The English Renaissance

April 29, 2010

The European Renaissance was a breeding ground for absolutely magnificent Italian painters and sculptors. Carravagio, an early Rembrandt, is a particular favourite of mine, his macabre use of shadowing is stunning. Bernini’s sculptors in the centre of Rome, define the city for me. But the likes of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Donatello and Botticelli are synonymous with fantastic art work. Especially when you view them up close. Standing in the centre of the Sistine Chapel and gazing at Michelangelo’s handy work, is simply incredible.

So one wonders, why were there no great English Renaissance artists? Why did we miss out? I honestly cannot name one great English Renaissance artist up until the Hellenism of the Eighteenth Century; but even then, our artists were nothing in comparison to our Poets who invoked Antiquity when speaking of paradise. Lord Byron and John Keats among those.

Oscar Wilde wrote of this particular brand of English Renaissance as:

“of the vision of Homer as of the vision of Dante, of Keats and William Morris as of Chaucer and Theocritus. It lies at the base of all noble, realistic and romantic work as opposed to the colourless and empty abstractions of our own eighteenth-century poets anti of the classical dramatists of France, or of the vague spiritualities of the German sentimental school”

He shows here that 18th Century Romanticism, and Hellenism of the pre-Raphaelites were essentially the English catching up to the methodology of the Italian Renaissance artists two centuries previous. The essence, being a passionate romantic humanism. You can see this very essence, in the works of Millais and Rossetti. Works that take their inspiration from Antiquity, and Renaissance Europe. If you go to Tate Britain, you will see “Ecce Ancilla Domini” by Rossetti. You could be forgiven for thinking it was created in Ancient Greece or Quattrocentro Italy, or Renaissance Florence; it was produced in 19th Century England. And whilst these works certainly take inspiration from the Italian Renaissance (despite the Pre-Raphaelite’s apparent disdain for Renaissance artistry), they still have a wonderful individual quality of their own, that separate them into something entirely new, yet I can never quite figure out what that quality is. It is simply there. The Pre-Raphaelites represented a lost idea of spirituality, in an age of enlightenment. We can safely say, that England gained it’s Renaissance, two or three centuries after the rest of Europe.

But that still begs the question, why wasn’t England producing any art of any worth during the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries. I’d suggest, it was all because of Religion.

The Italian Renaissance artists of the 15th-17th Centuries, were all Roman Catholic. They followed the Catholic tradition to it’s very fundamentals. And whilst the art itself may have presented Holy figures as mere mortals, the grandeur of those Holy figures, was supremely Catholic; colourful and striking, romantic backdrops and visions of the Divine with human emotion and imperfections. The artists were commissioned by Popes and grand Catholic nobles like the Medici. Renaissance art in Italy, was Catholicism on canvas.

England, around that same time, had spent the 1530s breaking with Rome, and separating ourselves entirely, from the Continent. Catholicism became a dangerous practice. Even the Catholic Queen of England, was lucky to have survived it. Queen Catherine just so happened to be a close relative of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, who was a staunch Catholic. She had his support. If it wasn’t for that relationship, she would have been almost certainly executed during the English Henrician reformation. Catholicism was dangerous in England in the 16th Century. Catholic extravagance, including it’s art, were not appreciated in England. The Reformers considered them to be the same sort of anti-Bible sentiment, as idol worship. The Pope, the great art work commissioner, was considered an anti-Christ, in the eyes of the English reformers. And so, by that logic, i’d argue that any attempt at such elaborate and extravagant art works used for the eminence of the Catholic Church, would have been utterly obscene, to the English Court.

The Court painter, the man behind the great portraits of Thomas More and Jane Seymore, was Hans Holbein, a man who followed the writings of Luther, and Erasmus. Holbein was a humanist, and gradually became very anti-Catholic. Perfect for the Tudor Court.

Catholicism, whilst it has been rather violent, and has a history of very unchristian-like viciousness, has undoubtedly produced some of history’s most beautiful works of art. One wonders what great works of art may have been produced throughout England, had the break from Rome not happened, and had Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon produced a son and heir in the first place.

Three Lions

April 25, 2010

I’m not a big sports fan in comparison to a lot of people. My family are a family of cricket lovers. My dad used to coach Leicestershire, he and David Gower were the closest of friends growing up, and I used to play as a kid. But I really don’t enjoy cricket at all any more. It bores me a little. The Ashes has me hooked, but apart from that, it’s a little bit awful.

My relationship with football is a little odd. Of all sports, it is my favourite. It is the greatest game on Earth. Soccer AM is a must watch every saturday morning, and I do tentatively follow the basics of what is going on across England and Europe, every week. I don’t follow everything as closely as possible though. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. I follow it all, my own way. I cannot tell you who the centre back for Barcelona is, nor who West Ham are hosting at Upton Park this weekend, but I do keep a close eye on my team – Leicester City, I keep a close eye on internationals across the World, and I keep a close eye on England.

England, in the World Cup or the Euros, always strikes up a sense of Patriotism across the Country. Even among those who aren’t football fans in the slightest. One of my earliest memories, is watching my mum (who does not like football) being unable to watch the 1990 World Cup Semi final, because the intensity of the penalty shoot out had her hid behind a cushion, and angrily yelling at Pearce a few seconds later.

The World Cup this year, is held in South Africa. Games will be played, whilst I am in Australia, which means getting up at around 3-4am every morning to watch (which I will be doing, without fail). England have, what should be a pretty easy group. USA, Slovenia, and Algeria. Every four years, we say “this is the best chance we’ve had in years” and we always blow it. So whilst I remain optimistic in a sense that I secretly hope 2010 is the new 1966, in reality, if I had to bet now, my money would be on Spain. Ten out of ten in qualifiers and current holders of the European Cup, suggests that Spain, are a little bit brilliant. Argentina (if we invade Argentina, and make it a British colony before the World Cup begins, can we technically put Messi in the England side? That would be nice) I think could prove to be a problem for Spain, as could Brazil. But i’m still putting my bet on a Spanish win.

Either way.
It’s about time an England open top bus rode through Trafalgar Square with eleven players, and a trophy on show.
Shades of ’66 please.

Never be tired of England

April 23, 2010

Happy St Georges Day.
Did you know that King George III never formally acknowledge the independence of the USA? Therefore, we still own it. Nor did we agree to the full independence of Australia (The Australia Act of 1986, I choose to ignore). Therefore, we still own that too. And when I get there in July, I will proclaim myself Governor of Australia for Her Majesty The Queen. We’ll forget this silly “independence” thing in no time.

The Daily Mail in it’s quest to tarnish Nick Clegg as some great evil, had this to say earlier this week:

“His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?”

It’s amazing isn’t it?
Nick Clegg, the posh English intelligent Lib Dem leader, is apparently an evil foreigner, despite the fact, that he was born….. in Berkshire.
Given that the husband of the Queen is a relative of the Russian tsars, I hope the Daily Mail will soon begin an anti-monarchy quest.

Today is St Georges day.
It is beautiful outside.
I have sat in my garden with a book and a drink sat by me, for most of it.
The reasons I do not fly the St Georges cross flag is something I dislike about the way it has been manipulated. St Georges cross and the Union Jack have been hijacked by the far right in recent years, to show that they aren’t too keen on muslims. It is used by those who keep claiming muslims are out to destroy England, rape your children, punch your grandmother in the face, and ban Christmas. It is from those who use the phrase “it’s political correctness gone mad” to cloak their inherent stupidity and ignorance. “You know, you can’t even smear shit into a a pakistani man’s face in the shape of the cross of St George whilst telling him to fuck off out the Country any more, without the politically correct bias liberal media telling you it’s racist. It’s political correctness gone mad!!!” I don’t want to associate myself with that type of person. Anyone who associates England with “the white race” is disgusting, in my view.

But I do love this country. In fact, I absolutely adore this country. I do not appreciate the far right telling me that I hate this country, simply because I am not a nazi. I do not believe in a singular concept of “Englishness”. My views on Englishness, are pretty post-modern in that respect. I love this country, for my own reasons, which I will now list.

I love the English summer time. I love traditional English seaside holidays. I love the sound of English amusement arcades on the seafront. I love Tudor history. I love being in the city centre for Diwali celebrations. I love the English countryside. I love standing in the sea on the English south coast despite it being freezing. I love the scent of England in the early summer mornings. I love English Christmas, the food, Morcambe and Wise, and bucks fizz. I love red post boxes. I love the majority of the people who are always polite, friendly, and tolerant. I love that I am the grandson of a World War II navy veteran. I love eccentric Brits. I love Camden. I love not understanding a word the speaker says over the tannoy at a local Tesco. I love Newstead Abbey. I love Bradgate Park. I love feeding ducks. I love those little green or red or blue or yellow arm bands the local swimming pools give you, to let you know when your time in the water is up. I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles. I love how we cannot go a day without at least one cup of tea. I love Brit pop! I love getting into bed, under a huge new duvet on a freezing winter’s night. I love wearing an England football shirt throughout the World Cup and Euros every couple of years. I love reading the papers before the World Cup that tell me that Wayne Rooney is at his peak. I love not understanding why our clocks go forward and backward every now and again. I love trilby hats. I love speakers corner. I love hearing the sound of an ice cream van. I love that we are part of Europe. I love Devon and Cornwall. I love our charity days like Red Nose day and Children in need. I love the National Health Service. I love that we are a country that still cares for it’s sick and injured. I love that we are a nation of compassion and acceptance rather than distrust, dogmatic individualism and miserable hatred. I love great British comedians like the Pythons, and Spike Milligan and comedies like Blackadder and Only Fools. I love our sense of humour. I love our sarcasm. I love talking to random people on the park when i’m taking the dog for a run. I love our political music like The Clash and The Jam. I love London. I love bike rides around England. I love black cabs. I love that on one long road just outside of Brighton there is a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a gay bar a little further down, and no problems arise. I love that we have minimum wage. I love the BBC. I love how overly excited our papers get when Wimbledon begins. I love our poets like Wordsworth and Byron. I love that Darwin was English. I love traditional English breakfasts. I love that we do not care what our leaders’ religious beliefs are. I love random games of football on the park. I love our regional colloquialisms. I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton.

I highlighted “I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles” because I think it raises an important point. We have never been a single culture, that is now being “eroded“. You cannot erode something that is not static. We have always been a mash of cultures constantly updating and changing. There have been times when those in control or those sporting racist and xenophobic views have tried to impose uniformity, but Britain is great because we have always rejected uniformity in that sense. I will give you an example.

For the majority of English history, since the year 0, this country has been Catholic. Our history, is Catholicism.
Before the 1530s, England was a Catholic nation. The Catholic church was a predominant feature of every community within England. It’s Latin mass, it’s imagery and it’s elaborate dressings along with it’s rituals and rites were what defined England. We weren’t really a nation state at all. We were a vassal of Rome, in all honesty. Given that our own King could not divorce without the permission of the Pope, suggests that ultimately, control lay with Rome. The English people liked it that way. That was England. That was our culture.

During the Reformation Parliaments of the 1530s, the preambles to the statutes written by Thomas Cromwell, try to rewrite this culture, to suit their own needs. The break from Rome and establishment of an English Church would have been massive. Within the space of three years during the 1530s, the entire English system of power, law, and the basis of community had changed beyond recognition. The Henrician church and the Roman Catholic Church were vastly different systems of control and belief.

According to historian Sir William Holdsworth:

“The preamble to the Statute of Appeals is remarkable.. because it manufactures history upon an unprecedented scale.”

Anyone who happened to disagree with the King’s god-given right above the Pope, to be “Supreme Head of the Church in England“, was swiftly and quite horrifically dealt with. It did not bother Henry or Cromwell or Cranmer or any of the other reformers within Court, that the vast majority of the English public, did not believe the King had power above that of the Pope. English culture, for over a millenium, put the Pope as their true ruler, and no one else. Catholicism, (which by the way, was brought to us by immigrants – the Romans, after Claudius invasion of the Country) was so ingrained in the minds of the public, that people like Thomas More were willing to die for their opposition to Cromwell’s reform, rather than betray their beliefs.

The preamble by Cromwell, to the Act of Supremacy of 1534 intriguingly tries to force opinion again, rewrites history, imposes the Act as objective truth (so much so that the accompanying Treason Act made it punishable by death to say the King was not Supreme head of the Church, or talk about the Pope being Head before him), and one wonders whether Cromwell would have gone this far, had the Pope granted Henry his divorce from Catherine in the first place:

“Albeit the king’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations.”

I cannot express just how momentous a change this Reformation Parliament truly was. We were now completely cut off from the Church in Rome, and therefore, cut off from Europe in it’s entirety. Propaganda from the government of Henry made it an offence to be Catholic.

A little over fifteen years later, after Henry had backtracked a little, adding more confusion to what it meant to be English; his son Edward was a child, and only allowed to read books by Protestant writers. He grew up anti-Catholic. When the Duke of Northumberland became the defacto King whilst Edward was still too young, the first thing he did, was rid the council of anyone who still held even slightly Catholic views. After Edward died, Mary then tried to revert back to Catholicism and rejoin the jurisdiction of Rome. Elizabeth, after Mary, settled the dispute, and created a settlement that held mainly Protestant beliefs, but incorporated Catholic beliefs too, although the authority of the Pope was still denied.

The point of this, is that we have never been one single minded Nation. We have always been a mesh of different beliefs and forced uniformity. Catholics viewed Protestants with suspicion in the same way that those racists who claim to be pro-British now view Islam. Irrational fear. There is nothing English about it. We have always updated, and we have always been in a constant state of change, there is no single identity. English culture is created by it’s people, and it is changed and updated with every passing generation. The people can be Catholic, Pagan, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Sikh, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight, fat or thin. It doesn’t matter. That is what makes Britain great, and it is the one thing I love most about this country.

The 2nd debate.

April 22, 2010

Sky News, Murdoch run, turning more to the Right wing every time I watch, started the debate today, with Andrew Boulton (who is a kind of Bill O’Reilly-lite) as host, pointing to the first member of the audience with a question. Can you guess what a right wing TV station that has to be impartial, and knowing that the only party to be massively Euro-skeptic are the Conservative Party, would use as it’s first question? Well, to summarise, it was, unsurprisingly…

“ARRRRGH!!! EUROPE, BRUSSELS! EVIL ARRRGGH!!! What will you do about this?”

Quite obviously, Cameron and Brown lost. Clegg won again. Last week, which was an obvious Clegg win, saw Sky News immediately after the debate (remember, Sky is owned by Murdoch, who also owns The Sun, who are unapologetically Tory. He also owns right winged Fox News in America) said Cameron won. They put him massively ahead of the other two. Despite the entire Country saying otherwise. Tonight, the Sun poll, immediately after the debate, put Cameron on top again. According to the Sun and Sky, Cameron has won both debates. Really? In fact, last week, Sky said 45% of people polled said Cameron won and only 23% said Clegg won. I don’t think 45% of Conservative HQ would have said that Cameron won. What utter nonsense. The reporters kept saying “Clegg didn’t win, he didn’t win did he? CLEGG DIDN’T WIN!!!” Kate Burley wont let it go. Everyone she interviews, she tells them that Clegg didn’t win. He did win by the way. It’s like utter fear among Tory supporters, not less after todays Tory supporting newspapers, all leading with largely pointless smear stories against Nick Clegg. It’s just utter fear among the Tories. They are getting dirty.

I must concede that Nick Clegg is a far better speaker, and offers something different (as far as difference between three businessmen can actually go) to the other two. Yes we need to lead in Europe, not sit and complain like the kicking screaming child of Europe. Yes, Trident is a relic from the Cold War. The Liberal Democrats do appear to be the new Progressives.

David Cameron, whose face makes me want to punch my TV every time I see him, said that he did not want to give power away from Westminster to Brussels without asking the British public if that’s what we want first. Clearly this doesn’t extend to giving away British Nationalised tax payer funded industries like Gas and electric, to men in business suits whose only interest isn’t keeping you warm through the cold winter, but instead making shareholders richer. Did Thatcher give us a referendum on that? Of course not. Power was taken from the British public, and given to faceless businessmen. As Clegg pointed out, the private system of gas and electric, since being taken away from the public, has lead to some old people travelling around on buses, because they’re warmer than staying at home in a cold house they cannot afford to heat. How is that a better system? why is that right, yet socialised gas and electric was some big evil?

Brown looked weak, and got angry every so often. His attempts to suggest he didn’t authorise a leaflet campaign full of lies about the Conservatives, was pitiful. Of course he knew. And if he didn’t, he should have known. Cameron was right to demand that they be recalled.

The Tories position on Europe worries me. But then, i’m pro-European. Cameron in 2007 and again in 2009 stated his plan, as a “top priority” to opt out of the EU Social Charter, if he becomes Prime Minister. This is less surprising then Sky pointing to the first question of the debate being about how evil Europe is. The Conservatives are after all, socially retarded.
The EU Charter says:

1 Everyone shall have the opportunity to earn his living in an occupation freely entered upon.
2 All workers have the right to just conditions of work.
3 All workers have the right to safe and healthy working conditions.
4 All workers have the right to a fair remuneration sufficient for a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
5 All workers and employers have the right to freedom of association in national or international organisations for the protection of their economic and social interests.
6 All workers and employers have the right to bargain collectively.
7 Children and young persons have the right to a special protection against the physical and moral hazards to which they are exposed.
8 Employed women, in case of maternity, have the right to a special protection.
9 Everyone has the right to appropriate facilities for vocational guidance with a view to helping him choose an occupation suited to his personal aptitude and interests.
10 Everyone has the right to appropriate facilities for vocational training.
11 Everyone has the right to benefit from any measures enabling him to enjoy the highest possible standard of health attainable.
12 All workers and their dependents have the right to social security.
13 Anyone without adequate resources has the right to social and medical assistance.
14 Everyone has the right to benefit from social welfare services.
15 Disabled persons have the right to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community.
16 The family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development.
17 Children and young persons have the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection.
18 The nationals of any one of the Parties have the right to engage in any gainful occupation in the territory of any one of the others on a footing of equality with the nationals of the latter, subject to restrictions based on cogent economic or social reasons.
19 Migrant workers who are nationals of a Party and their families have the right to protection and assistance in the territory of any other Party.
20 All workers have the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation without discrimination on the grounds of sex.
21 Workers have the right to be informed and to be consulted within the undertaking.
22 Workers have the right to take part in the determination and improvement of the working conditions and working environment in the undertaking.
23 Every elderly person has the right to social protection.
24 All workers have the right to protection in cases of termination of employment.
25 All workers have the right to protection of their claims in the event of the insolvency of their employer.
26 All workers have the right to dignity at work.
27 All persons with family responsibilities and who are engaged or wish to engage in employment have a right to do so without being subject to discrimination and as far as possible without conflict between their employment and family responsibilities.
28 Workers’ representatives in undertakings have the right to protection against acts prejudicial to them and should be afforded appropriate facilities to carry out their functions.
29 All workers have the right to be informed and consulted in collective redundancy procedures.
30 Everyone has the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion.
31 Everyone has the right to housing.

I wonder what it is that Cameron would like to take away from workers. We know the Conservatives do not particularly like workers rights. Perhaps they wish to take away your right to protection against poverty and social exclusion? Perhaps he doesn’t want you to have the right to dignity at work? Or that old people don’t have a right to social protection? Perhaps young people shouldn’t have any form of social security? Perhaps he doesn’t like the idea that an employer cannot sack a woman just for being pregnant? Or perhaps he doesn’t like the idea of paid maternity leave? Or perhaps the right for workers to bargain collectively? Or perhaps all of the above? They’d like that.

Cameron then decided to blame Brown for spreading fear about the Tories and their economic stance. This comes a day after he was on TV telling us all if we don’t vote Tory, England will be bankrupt, and sink, and if his Euro MEPs are to be believed, infected with AIDs by the evil gays.

Is this change? Regressive change. This regressive, socially retarded change was symbolised this week, when the Tories spoke constantly about how they were the “change Britain needed“, and then wheeled out Kenneth Clarke. The Thatcherite. I didn’t even know he was still alive.

Clegg 2-0-0

The Goldman case

April 21, 2010

So I’m trying to follow this whole Goldman Sachs business. As far as I can tell, between all the specialist language and marketing business jargon and bullshit, what appears to have happened is that Goldman had created horrendous subprime mortgages, given to customers they knew could not afford it. They then, along with Hedgefund Paulson and Co decided which mortgages to package up, packaged these mortgages up and sold them on to investors, without disclosing just how toxic the packages were. The moment the packages were sold on, Goldman Sachs bankers then bet against them on the markets, and made a fortune when the whole system eventually failed miserably and investors lost close to $2billion.

They, in effect, created a financial crises for their own massive gain. Goldman Sachs have said they have done nothing wrong. How is that not wrong? Is it not the equivalent of a football manager actively encouraging people to buy tickets for a game, paying his goal keeper to play shit, therefore losing the match, but in the meantime betting that his team will lose the match, thereby making a fortune? Beneath the deceitful business language that Goldman may employ to try to get out of this, aren’t they simply trying to cover up a massive fraud?

After committing such a huge fraud, and causing widespread misery and despair, Goldman has said that their own profits have soared by 91% and plan to pay bonuses for the past three months, to the tune of £3.5billion. The UK Government are still giving government work to Goldman, effectively using tax payers money to enrich a fraudulent firm. We paid the firm £5,000,000 to consult the government on how to deal with Northern Rock, a bank that failed, because of the subprime crises, which seems to have been caused deliberately, by people working for firms like Goldman Sachs.

Goldman said they had done no wrong and that doing what they did, was:

“normal market practice”

Fraud, is normal market practice. What kind of awful defence is that?

The Goldman Sachs website today has this as it’s statement in regard to the case brought against it:

“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record”

In essence, they are wondering why they are being punished for one fraud, when they’ve been good otherwise. As if to say “Oh it was only once! It wont happen again!!” I might go and steal a car, and use that as my defence when I get arrested.

The hedgefund (Paulson and Co) who actually bet against the packages, hoping that mortgage holders would default, and whom also with the help of Goldman, picked which mortgage packages to bet against, are not under any sort of investigation. How is that possible? Is this Capitalism? The head of the hedgefund, John Paulson, reportedly made $2billion in 2008 and $2.4billion in 2009, from betting against subprime mortgages, that he helped to package. After doing this, and causing the entire system to crash, Paulson (who is worth $12billion) said:

“Paulson and Co is not the subject of this complaint, made no misrepresentations and is not the subject of any charges.”

Well, they should be the subject of charges. Paulson himself should be thrown in prison. Which he wont be. Because the system favours rich men in suits, whilst the system spends millions trying to catch people claiming £5 an extra a week in Welfare benefits. The system, is weighted the wrong side. Paulson in 2009 wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, titled rather ironically “The public deserves a better deal”. Yes the public does deserve a better deal. He’s absolutely right. The entire system needs to change. And it would be a far better deal for tax payers, if they paid for his prison cell, rather than his career in fraudulent gambling.

The 500 year old conspiracy

April 19, 2010

England in 1549 was a pretty bleak picture. Even in comparison to earlier times. Edward VI was the king, and was only twelve years old. He obviously couldn’t rule the entire Country at twelve, so a de facto leader named Edward Seymour (The King’s uncle) was named the Protector Lord Somerset. He became hugely unpopular at Court for his ridiculously expensive war against Scotland, which had proved successful but costly. Inflation at record highs, and his mismanagement of religious affairs. He was also considered a friend of the poor, which in 1549 (much like today actually) the ruling classes do not like.

By July 1549, the peasantry in Norfolk were becoming agitated by what they perceived as their land being enclosed by the richer members of the community. And so, they took up arms and started to destroy enclosures including that of Robert Kett. Kett, oddly, then joins the rebels, destroys his enclosure, and becomes the leader of the rebels.

By July 11th, the rebels numbered close to 15,000 men and were growing daily. They entered Norwich on 22nd July and assumed control of the city. And so the Protector in London responded.

And this is where the story gets a little bit odd.

Firstly, William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton was sent by the Protector Somerset, with less than 2000 men to attempt to quell the rebellion. He promptly failed. The Protector then sent John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, with 14,000 men. Eventually, Warwick succeeded and defeated the rebels. Kett was hung until half dead, his stomach was opened up whilst still alive, and his entrails burnt in front of him. He was then beheaded. The Tudor period was nothing if not gory.

That’s the official – if somewhat rushed – version of the story. But it seems to go a little deeper than that. And it all centres around John Dudley, Earl of Warwick.

For those of you who have seen the film “Elizabeth“, John Dudley is the father of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who seemingly has a bit of crush on Elizabeth and vice versa. Little is known about Robert’s father.

Chris Skidmore in his book “Edward VI: The Lost King of England” briefly touches upon, but does not expand too much, on quite a vast conspiracy. He suggests the idea that John Dudley may have actually had more to do with the rebellion than the official story suggests.

Dudley was no friend of the Protector, and when Somerset’s government finally fell……. Dudley was proclaimed the Duke of Northumberland, and the new Protector in 1550. However, before all of that, on the 12th July 1549, as the rebellion was gaining force, Dudley was at home having written to the Protector that he was “ill” and so he stayed at home. His home, happened to be right next to the heartland of the rebellion. When he finally rode out to face the rebellion with his men, he offered the rebels a full pardon. Kett, oddly then rides out of the city to meet with Dudley, but is held back by his own men.
If we go back further, to 1543, we see that Kett himself had purchased land directly from Dudley. The two had met on several occasions in fact. Dudley was in the area on July 12th having “phone in ill”, and Kett had wanted to meet Dudley as the rebels and the kings forces sat in wait for battle. Why? What did Kett want to know? He’d got a pardon if he wanted it. What did he need to talk about? Perhaps…. what to do next?

Another figure enters the fray. Sir Richard Southwell was a keeper of the Howard lands in Norfolk at the time. He was a very close friend of Dudley. Southwell’s will, written in 1564, leaves £40 (which was a large sum of money in those days) to Richard Kett…. the son of Robert. When Kett was in the Tower of London in August 1549, no one came to visit him, except Sir Richard Southwell. Not only that, but during the time of the rebellion, Southwell’s deputy-baliff, was the brother of Robert Kett. Southwell’s implication in the rebellion is even further suggested by a man named Sir Edmund Knyvett, who wrote:

… of such money as Robert Kett principle leader of the rebellion had from Sir Richard Southwell then having charge of the king’s treasure sent down by him for the surpressing of the said rebels and tried out by the said earl upon examination of diverse the said rebels t be conveyed in particular sums amongst diverse persons which was by the said earl gathered together and delivered over to this accomptant….£497 15s

…. which, according to Skidmore, means that Southwell was funding the rebellion from day one, out of the King’s treasury.
Southwell then broke into the office of William Cecil who held this disposition, and stole it. He was effectively off the hook.

It goes without saying, that Dudley benefited the most from pulling the strings of both the rebels and the Protector. He seems to have played both sides off against one another beautifully, and used it all to his own benefit having secured his place as Protector less than half a year later. After Norfolk, Dudley found himself with a huge army of men, and linked up with another leader named Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, and forced Somerset from power. The whole rebellion fiasco ended with the Council supremely unhappy with Somerset’s leadership. Was this Dudley’s intention? Did he know a rebellion would fail, did he instigate it, and then destroy it to make both himself look like a saviour and the Protector look weak? Did he plan it, knowing by the end of the rebellion, he would be left with thousands of troops? If so Dudley has quickly became my favourite character in Tudor history, surpassing Thomas Cromwell as the most devious.

There are no biographies of which I can find at least, of John Dudley, except that of Loades. Loades’ book costs £95 on amazon and I simply don’t have that kind of money. I would like to investigate Skidmore’s allegations in depth, because it appears fascinating, and it is a largely unexplored direction to take with regard to Kett’s rebellion. It intrigues me to know that a man who had relatively no power in Council, was pulling the strings behind the scenes and in fact had quite immense power. It would make for an interesting research project. It makes me wonder what else Dudley was involved in, throughout his career.

We often focus on the Monarchs themselves throughout history, yet the most impressive and intriguing characters are the players behind the scenes. Thomas More, Francis Walsingham, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Seymour, and John Dudley all do not have all that much written about them, and yet they play pivotal roles in the development of the Tudor state during the 16th Century. Fascinating to contemplate.


April 18, 2010

As you stroll down the rather beautiful Via Del Circus Massimo, you are presented with churches on your left, and the Circus Maximus on your right with the ruins of the palaces of antiquity looming on the Palatine overhead. If you take a left at the end of the famous arena that is now simply a big field, you are on Via Dell’Area Massima di Ercole, and on your left is a large building that now houses theatre props and equipment. It stands as a rather ordinary building in the centre of the City. Not many people realise that underneath it, still stands an old Pagan temple built by the cult of Mithra around 200ad.

Much of what we see in Rome today, left over by the Roman era, is a teardrop in the ocean of what actually still exists underground. Since the end of the Roman Empire, their successors (the Byzantines among others) have preserved the old city of Rome and simply built on top of it. Vast Roman streets and slums have been preserved under ground. Archeologists predict that only 10% of the underground Rome has been found, which is incredibly exciting for those of us who have an interest in Roman history.

I have been to Rome twice. And whilst I haven’t yet been to cities like Milan or Venice or Paris, I cannot imagine any City being greater than Rome. You get the instantaneous feeling that you are standing in a truly eternal city. The epicentre of two great empires; Rome and Catholicism. It is a surreal feeling.

Sat at a little Italian cafe, with violinists playing in the centre of the complex, looking out at the architecture of Bernini at the Piazza Navona is quite honestly indescribable. Beauty and history are two very complementary subjects.

As you walk through the centre of the Roman World; the Forum, you get a feeling that you have been transported back through history. You start to feel that you are standing in the spot where Sulla struck fear as a much hated tyrant. Where Cicero would have stood. Where Caesar would have strolled arrogantly, proclaiming himself some sort of God. Where Octavian would have rode gallantly through the main area draped in robes and cheered through the streets by hundreds of thousands of supporters, having defeated Marc Antony and “saved” Rome. And later, where the people would have almost hero worshiped Claudius and Trajan and Hadrian. It is so seeped in history, it is almost like walking onto a film set because it doesn’t seem real.

The Catholic section of the City is just as amazing. I am always in two frames of mind about Catholic Rome. On the one hand, it is beautiful. The Sistine Chapel, the Raphael rooms, and the architecture again by Bernini among others, is simply stunning. It is unrivaled anywhere on the planet. The atmosphere as the sun sets behind St Peters is something I don’t think I will forget any time soon. However, the very foundation of the Catholic Church is built on oppression and quite horrendous violence. I cannot imagine Jesus would be proud of Catholicism, if he stood in the centre of St Peters square and viewed with astonishment the great wealth they have accumulated in his name.

The Trevi fountain is locked away in Trevi Square, a tightly boxed area surrounded by cafes filled with Italian businessmen on cell phones, and lovers surrounding the fountain itself having their memories recorded on camera. It lights up at night. The Baroque Architect Nicola Salvi is responsible for the fountain. Although his work mimics that of Bernini whose undertaking of the creation of the fountain died with him (as you can tell i’m quite the fan of Bernini) The fountain depicts the Roman god of the sea, Neptune on a chariot made of shells being pulled by two horses. The horses’ moods reflect the moods of the sea directed by Neptune. One is angry and abrasive, the other is calm and uninterested. Whilst built about two hundred years after the Renaissance period, the statue seems to adhere entirely to Renaissance architecture, ignoring the common Baroque use of Neptune as a servant to City state propaganda (see “Neptune offers the wealth of the sea to Venice” by Tiepolo for typical Baroque depictions of Neptune). When it comes to the Trevi Fountain, Neptune is always in control, as in Roman myth. The myth comes to life, when you stand in front of the fountain and visualise the statue as if it had come to life.

I cannot describe in words just how I feel when i’m in Rome. I owe it to my love of Roman and Catholic history. Words on a page in books on the subjects that I read, suddenly become reality when stood in the City itself. It is a wonderful feeling. I cannot recommend Rome enough.


The rationality of not voting.

April 17, 2010

There is a presumption among many people, after last weeks leadership debate, that the Liberal Democrats are some extraordinary force for change in British politics. It amazes me. They are still centrists, much like New Labour. They have quasi-radical policies I agree with; scraping Trident comes to mind. But overall, they aren’t much different. They are market liberals. It would be incredible if the Liberal Democrats became the next Government, not because they offer radical change, but simply because the name “Liberal Democrat” has been largely ignored in British politics since it’s inception. But, they do not offer a change of system. They offer the same system, with a couple of tweaks. Their supporters seem to be assuming a change. Clegg in the debate said of the MPs scandal, and home switching, and other ridiculous expenses claiming that:

I have to stress, not a single Liberal Democrat MP did either of those things

…… Clegg himself collected £1,657.32 in expenses, on family groceries. Oh the irony. Lib Dem MPs Richard Younger-Ross, John Barrett, Sandra Gidley and Paul Holmes were all forced to pay back over £16,000 for claiming huge amounts of money for renting posh flats near Parliament. Oh…the…irony! Chris Huhne, the multi-millionaire, claimed £119 for a trouser press. The irony continues.

The choice in my constituency is between Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, and BNP. Now, i wont vote Tory out of principle. I wont vote Labour because they no longer represent my view. I wont vote BNP because i’m not a despicable nazi, and I wont vote Lib Dem, because they don’t represent my view either. If I have to give in to this system I dislike, then I will support a party of the left. Of which, none seem to actually exist.

So I wont be voting.

The cliche among Western democracies has been “if you don’t vote, you cannot complain” in suggestion that if Labour win and you didn’t vote against them, you have no right to complain. I disagree. I wont vote, because I do not believe any of them are fit the run the Country. I do not believe they have the right to have a say over so many lives. When they inevitably fuck up, lie and cheat, and are seen to not actually do what is expected of them, I can happily say that I haven’t empowered any of these bastards, and so I have every right to complain.

It is a rather difficult choice to decide not to vote. By not voting, I am in essence voting. Because by not voting, it isn’t because I am apathetic. It isn’t because I don’t understand Politics. It is simply because no political party represents my views. Not voting, is a rational decision for me. I consider myself of the Anarcho-syndicalist variety. I have no love for Capitalism. I don’t particularly like the idea of the Nation State, and Democracy is only acceptable to me, at a grassroots level. The current democratic system, is a mash of democratic and undemocratic principles. It says “This is the system that people who you have not elected have put in place, your job is now to elect one person to be the figurehead of that system”.

To vote in this upcoming election, would mean that I am giving my blessing to a system I am not too fond of. And since Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The Conservatives all offer no real change except a change of businessman running the show, and a few weakly tied bandages on a system that has recently failed miserably; for me to vote for any of them would be an endorsement of that system, and I cannot out of principle bring myself to do that. A system that says that Conservatives will win and cut spending, forcing the homeless rate back up, and the suicide rate sky rockets. Labour then get in a few years later when the misery gets too much, and a few extra regulations are placed on businesses that work only to help us all ignore the fact that those same businesses are openly tax avoiding. Then, an economic bubble will burst, the Tories will blame Labour again, despite them both being to blame. The Tories will get back in and force cuts again and so the cycle continues. A self perpetuating avalanche that negatively affects the majority, but keeps the wealthy minority happy. It is not the democracy that centuries of warfare has been fighting for. It is not democracy when there is no real choice. It is a group of businessmen, all fighting for control over a single system. It is that system that is tyrannical because there is no choice, we are stuck with it.

The public do not chose the agenda. We simply endorse an entire agenda of one party. One party, out of two or three to be precise. But all Parties rest on the assumption that human nature, is greedy and self interested. I disagree profoundly with this assumption, and so no party that represents that view, is ever likely to acquire my vote.

One should view human nature as so intricate and inexplicable, that it is deeply atrocious and manipulative for advocates of a particular social or economic system to claim to have tapped into it. The idea that human nature is inherently greedy, and self-centered seems to have become the prevailing philosophy, but it has taken over a century of forcing it upon Nations like Latin America, riots against Thatcherism, propaganda against any system that suggests otherwise (if you wonder why a child in Africa is allowed to starve, you’re automatically a “communist” or a “bleeding heart liberal” apparently), pounding home the idea that businessmen “create” wealth and so it’d be apparently immoral to redistribute that wealth to people who can’t actually afford to live; that Authoritarianism is a great evil – unless it’s in the workplace, then it’s wondrous. Should such a small amount of individuals be allowed control over such vast resources? No. It has taken over a Century and the loss of many lives, to become almost universally accepted that a small amount of individuals controlling a vast amount of resources is perfectly acceptable, and even desirable. It is simply a philosophy. It is not universal truth. It is not objective fact. Durkheim and Jung both suggest that human nature is supremely malleable. I accept that whilst human nature is not free of instinct (we are only animals after all), within the political and economic realm, it is deeply, deeply malleable. Furthermore, the Capitalist system was not developed and put into practice by a group of philanthropists concerned with the development of the human good inline with our basic nature; they simply put in place a system that protected their wealth and developed a political system to further enhance it.

Canadian author Stephen Garvey says:

“Western societies are fundamentally driven by capitalism. So Western Democracy through its autocratic, hierarchy is an excellent political system to maintain and expand the global capitalist agenda. I say this point, based on a majority of people being deceived into believing they have say, a final say, through elections.”

For those who consider this to be strictly false, take note of the amount of money the U.S has spent spreading “democracy“. Do you truly believe it is for the benefit of the people? No of course not. It is because democracy, is a pretext for this morbid version of Capitalism that exists purely to further the wealth and by definition; power, of a select few. It is why Castro is considered evil, yet Pinochet was supported vigorously. It is why we overthrew a democratically elected President of Iran and replaced him with a dictator in the Shah. Capitalism and Democracy, the Western way, complement each other, and for that reason, I am dead set against it.

To vote for one of the main parties, is a vote for the way the system is. And given that there is not a way to vote out the current system, to vote is by definition, undemocratic. The system is undemocratic, in that it isn’t about free and fair elections between people who wish to help make life better for the majority. It is a system based on which party is the wealthiest, which Lords and businessmen bankroll them, and what they expect in return. The majority of us rely on information from political parties and the media (which has it’s own political agenda) to make up our minds. We are not autonomous. We do not decide for ourselves. Therefore, a political party’s purpose, is simply to manipulate and influence opinion to it’s own ends. All three of the main parties, operate from the assumption that we are all self interested.

Human nature, whilst it has the potential to be greedy; is also loving, compassionate, reliant, ugly, detestable and every other possible trait we may show. The system we live in today, quite obscenely rewards greed and so greed as a trait, is amplified. Competition is built into our nurture from a young age, from the school system onwards, so competition upon greed, is amplified. In reality, the degree of variability between outright greed and utter benevolence is huge.

Rudolf Rocker once said:

“The causes which underlie the processes of social life have nothing in common with the laws of physical and mechanical natural events, for they are purely the results of human purpose, which is not explicable by scientific methods. To misinterpret this fact is a fatal self-deception from which only a confused notion of reality can result.”

The three main parties in UK politics, disagree with Rocker, and for some reason think they are experts on human nature. As if economic Darwinism is ethically justifable. Whilst it isn’t apparently popular to say this, but I’m all for a huge rate of tax, universally, on the richest 2-3%.
I am of the belief that once necessity has been taken care of (basic food, drink and shelter for everyone), then profit and riches can exist. It is not ethically justifiable to allow one man to own much wealth, whilst another starves to death, in my opinion.

My ideals are Syndicalist. They are also Anarchist, in that I believe all forms of power and control over others, should be able to legitimise itself. To that end, I do not believe the the Capitalist has any such authority. However, in a system in which the most power is wielded by the Capitalist, I believe the State has a role to play in curtailing that Capitalist power. In that respect, I am a Statist. But only when the State exists within a Capitalist system. I am a great supporter of workers rights. Hence the Syndicalism. I am and always will be entirely suspicious of anyone with a lot of money and a lot of power.

So, I will not be voting.

The fight back begins

April 15, 2010

It is less than a month before the General Election. Gordon Brown has had perhaps the worst couple of years of any Prime Minister. And yet, the Tories are only 4 point ahead in most polls. That suggests that people are still weary of them, which in turn suggests, the Tories aren’t as wondrous as their supporters seem to think. We simply don’t trust them.

Labour issued a new campaign video today. I think it’s utterly brilliant. In our constituency, the choice is Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, or BNP. And considering i’m not a Tory, nor a Nazi, the choice for me, If I were voting (which i’m not) would be between Labour and Lib Dem. Although, if the Greens were running, I would vote Green in an instant. I do not want to live in a Country run by Conservatives.

Here’s the new Labour campaign video.

Lomography Film Roll: Three

April 13, 2010

This is my third roll of film using my Diana Mini lomography camera.
The film, unlike the other two, is not redscale, it is 35mm iso400 Fujifilm.

I only managed to get three decent shots from this roll. There were a few more, but not that i’d consider good enough to show on here. They will remain in my “average” folder.

My next roll of film for my lomography, hopefully will be film specifically made for lomography.

The National Insurance Row.

April 11, 2010

The big news this week politically, is that a group of business leaders have signed a document throwing their support behind the Conservatives, over Labour’s plan to increase National Insurance. The group of businessmen signed a document calling for the 1% planned rise, to be scrapped. The news media are treating it like a huge coup for the Tories. The news that business leaders support the Tories, is being treated, like huge surprising news. Surely this is less interesting and surprising news, than Ricky Martin telling the World he is gay, about fifteen years after we all figured it out any way. In other news, Jim Davidson is still shit, the BNP are still racist scum, apparently a bear shat in the woods today, Hitler was a bit of a git, and the sun might rise sometime tomorrow morning according to latest reports.

One of the business leaders who signed the document, is Paul Walsh. Walsh earns £3.6million a year as Chief Exec. of Diageo PLC, a huge wine and beer company based in London. It’s net income last year was £1,725,000,000. Now obviously, earning close to two billion pounds is not enough. A 1% N.I increase would apparently cripple them. Lucky for Diageo then, that they have a dedicated management team who do not really like to pay taxes. According to a Guardian report, Diageo over the past decade has paid a little over £43,000,000 in tax. That’s around £4,300,000 a year. In reality, they should have paid £144,000,000 a year. That equates to £1,397,000,000 tax loss. If you were to scrounge an extra few pound a week benefit payout, you’d be threatened with prison. Scrounge an extra £1,397,000,000 and you’re well on your way to being knighted for your services to “CREATING JOBS AND BEING ALL WONDERFUL!” That gap in the treasuries takings, according to the Guardian would take 20,000 households paying income tax to fill. So wondrous are Diageo, and so committed to the wellbeing of their workforce, that after posting profits of almost £2bn, they closed a Jonnie Walker blending plant which had been a community of Kilmarnock local historical institution, and made 700 people redundant. Around the same time, Mr Walsh’s salary increased.

Another businessman to sign the statement in support of the Conservative Party, is Justin King, chief executive of J Sainsbury. The President of J Sainsbury, is John Sainsbury, Baron of Preston Candover, with a net worth of £1.3bn, he is a Conservative Party donor, and member of the Conservative Party.

A third businessman to sign the statement in support of the Conservative Party is Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next. Wolfson is a member of the Conservative Party and donated to David Cameron’s 2005 campaign, and named by the Telegraph as the “37th-most important British conservative.”

A fourth businessman to sign the statement in support of the Conservative Party is Philip Harris, chairman and chief executive of Carpetright. Harris is a Conservative member of the House of Lords, and is worth £285,000,000. He is considered a close personal friend of David Cameron, and has donated money to the Conservative Party.

Do you see a pattern forming?

The Treasury expects unemployment to fall by a quarter of a million, next year, despite the 1% increase. And whilst Tory donating Businessmen have come out against the increase, most economists appear to be suggesting that the businessmen are wrong. The Times says:

“Martin Weale, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, pointed to the last time NI rose, in 2003. Rather than cut jobs, employers responded by paring back the growth in wages.”

The Tories claim that they will stop the rise, and instead cut £12bn of public sector waste. Apparently, that isn’t classed as attacking jobs. Even though, according to Professor Colin Talbot at Manchester University, Britain’s foremost academic expert on public sector efficiency, even £6bn would cause 120,000 job losses in both the public and private sector, because the Tories planned “savings” include hitting small private I.T firms. The business leaders don’t seem too bothered by that. Because, afterall, it doesn’t affect their huge salaries.

Of course business leaders have backed the Tories. We’re all fully aware that a 1% rise in National Insurance is not going to destroy Britain in the way these big bosses say. It is the same rhetoric they used to attack minimum wage introduction legislation; businesses everywhere will go bust; riots on the street because poor people love big businessmen and don’t wish to be paid a minimum standard of wage in order to stay alive, if it means those poor businessmen can’t afford a new yacht; England (which will be renamed Ingsoc) will set on fire; Dorset will be completely submerged beneath a sea made by evil socialists; and gay people will rule the World, all because of minimum wage. In other words, fear tactics built on empty rhetoric. Because twelve years later, minimum wage is one of Labour’s greatest achievements.

The letter says:

“In the last few years, the private sector has improved its productivity by around 20%, while productivity in the public sector has fallen by 3%.”

Not surprisingly, they didn’t offer any evidence to back that claim up.
Firstly, if that is true, that’s quite an impressive statement from a conservative section of society toward a Labour government. (Although, i’m not sure how you actually measure public sector productivity, given that it isn’t a product based sector, nor is it profitable) Surely, that is indirect backing for Labour? Secondly, whilst the private sector may have improved productivity by 20%, but whilst wages have been kept low, bosses salaries, according to Incomes Data Services firm investigation, have risen 18.3% to now 150 times greater than the average employee. Sir Peter Bonfield CBE, FREng, C.U.N.T of BT saw BT share price go from £14, to £5, under his control. He then left BT with over £6,000,000 whilst thousands of workers lost their jobs. This was in 2002, before the recession struck.

So wondrous has the private sector been over the past few years, it has brought the entire financial system to it’s knees, demanded bailouts from all of us, and those responsible are now living in luxury whilst their employees are struggling to find work and keep their homes heated.

The letter goes on to say:

“Cutting government waste won’t endanger the recovery – but putting up national insurance will.”

When you’re in a position to be able to resist all government “waste” because you earn over £1,000,000 a year, you can say things like that, and continue on your deeply ignorant path in life. Many people rely on social services, that would be put under major threat under another Tory government. Of course, the huge salaries of the big bosses wouldn’t be under threat, and so the bosses don’t appear to care. It is obvious that under a Tory government, the way to cut the deficit will be to hit those who cannot afford to feed themselves the hardest, whilst the wealth of the very wealthy will be protected. That is the legacy of the Thatcher government. The business leaders’ priority is not the public good, nor is it maintaining the wellbeing of the Country that allowed them such obscene profitability at the behest of others (No matter how much they say a 1% N.I rise is a huge “tax on jobs”); their priority is handing a healthy amount of money over to the shareholders who actually don’t do any of the work that brings the wealth in themselves (Corporate Socialism, I call it).

The idea is to create a business haven in the UK. And that’s fine. If it is supported by a top class public service and a decent infrastructure. You can go to a third World country and do business uninterrupted and deregulated to the extreme. You can be a real businessman. Use children. No National Insurance. No equal rights. Don’t pay too much out in wages. No work hour limits. Real Capitalism.

The CBI, the guys who actively protested against the introduction of minimum wage, the guys who want students to pay far more for their education whilst they themselves went to University when it was free, the guys who suggested cutting any educational courses that they deemed to be “micky mouse”, said:

“We applaud the decision by a number of Britain’s most senior business leaders to take a public stand against the planned rise in national insurance – which is a clear and unequivocal tax on jobs.”

I would like to take this opportunity, to say just how much I despise the CBI. Thatcher killed off the Unions because they had too much power of the Government. Well, she opened the door for the CBI, arguably the most powerful union of them all, and they keep flexing their puss filled muscles every chance they get. Why are we listening to people who campaigned for banking deregulation, and a free-for-all attitude to banking? They should disgust us. They have damaged us far more than the Unions ever could. The very same people who are telling us how best to deal with the recovery, were the people who contributed to the mess we’re all in, in the first place. We were deceived by these people, playing with fake money, for years, and now they are running the show again? Has nothing changed?

Growth is an interesting concept. Growth when it comes to the business World is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral. Growth and “giving jobs” as is often the defence of big business. But what does this apparent wondrous philanthropy actually mean? Well, it means that the cunt businessman at the top wants to protect his millions, the shareholders who do nothing for the good of the company or humanity in general get a healthy pay cheque every so often, the workers are paid as little as physically possible, and the producer is paid even worse. We’re then encouraged through the constant raping of our minds to buy pointless shit we don’t need, purely to prop up businesses that shouldn’t actually exist, and buy another lovely house in a sea side resort for the business man who only uses it once a year and so contributes to the destruction of the once healthy and happy sea side town (See Beadnell in Northumberland for confirmation). I’m all for growth, when it extends the public good, feeds the hungry, and creates affordable drugs. Growth to me, does not equate to greed. I am not for a manipulated and diseased form of growth by big business, who then claim they are “creating jobs“. Growth, within the system that we live, equates to nothing more than a lovely big return on investment, regardless of the public good.

These businessmen are not worried about their businesses. Their businesses are doing just fine. They are not worried about the little people, as proven with Lloyds group and over 10,000 unemployed recently whilst their boss makes more money than every before, they are also not worried about the deficit and the Country. They are worried about their own wallets. They want more. If they are seen to back the Tories, and the Tories win, you can bet a mountain of deregulation and further destruction of the public sector will follow. Another generation of people from poorer backgrounds who are taught they are worthless, and should resign themselves to a job at McDonalds.

The problem is, the system failed. The private system. These top businessmen sucked it dry for all it is worth for years. They used their new found immense profits to pay workers as low as possible, keep the money away from producers, create offshore accounts to avoid tax, fund the Tory party, but on the plus side, buy a lovely new Mercedes. And now, once that gravy train failed, they have washed their hands of it, and will blame everyone else. Socialism, or lazy people, or Governments, or Unions. Business will never blame business. The Tories will never blame business. Business afterall, “give us jobs!!”. The workers, to these people, are dispensable and just cogs in machinery. Their lives are not important. I hope the entire stinking system fails miserably. I secretly hope for a workers revolt, in which expensive business suits are thrown onto bonfires and a form of Anarcho-syndicalism is proclaimed.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth…”

April 6, 2010

Yesterday evening I had a pretty in-depth discussion with Ash about my personal insecurities, which allowed them to surface quite unexpectedly. It overwhelmed me, and actually quite upset me. It made me feel fairly angry at both myself and the system that had developed this rather cancerous conditioning, and continues to do so with children across the Country.

I’ve always placed myself in between two types of mind. On the one hand, there is the creative mind of humanity, that effortlessly sways away from the material World and places an almost spiritual sense of self manifestation through art and poetry and photography and creative writing, above material needs. Sylvia Plath could turn ineffable feelings into beautiful poetry. Diane Arbus could take a photo that ran deeper than it first appeared.

On the other hand, there is the business mind, which seeks profit above all else, so poor that all they own is money, the material mind, which may not in all honesty be driven by what it sees as pure greed or an institutionalised perpetuating inequality, but nonetheless contributes to it every day. I place myself inbetween the two. Always have. I wish I had the creativity to be able to turn feelings into words, or inject my sense of self onto a photo, but I can’t. I wish I could produce a photo that lives on through posterity and everyone sees and says “that’s incredible“. I do not care for the material wealth it may bring, I just wish I could leave my mark creatively and not be simply forgotten when I die.

I have never considered anything I have achieved creatively, as being of any worth whatsoever. It frustrates me to even write about it now. If I take a photo, and people tell me that they like it, I immediately think I must have manipulated them somehow into the assumption that my photos are any good. It must be my fault. I must have forced them to believe what they are seeing is of any worth. If an essay achieves a high mark, I automatically assume that there has been a mistake, or that perhaps my lecturer just likes me because I say hi to him most mornings. I don’t doubt their sincerity. I accept that what they are saying as a compliment, is perhaps true in their eyes, but I automatically assume that I have clouded their vision somehow, and I don’t know how to stop it. This feeling of a lack of creative self worth does not affect me consciously, but subconsciously, I’m discovering, it has quite an enormous affect.

I blame school.

When I was younger, a teenager, I grew up surrounded by friends that I didn’t really have all that much in common with. I made excuses as to why I couldn’t go out with them. I had no desire to spend my days getting stoned and drunk constantly, or talking about fights and graffiti, it just never suited me. I always had a rebellious mind. Those kids who were quite clearly rebelling against their parents, or their school, or any kind of established rules, wanted to stick two fingers up to that establishment. I on the other hand, wanted to rebel against the established rules (as I still do), and also against the kids who in their quest for individuality had inadvertently become simply one big group of sheep. They appeared to have attacked the old “rules” and instead become victim to a new set of rules, aimed at destroying all individuality in much the same way as the old rules did. You got drunk, and stoned simply to fit in. You smashed windows and had fights, simply to impress. You spouted racist bullshit and talked about who you’d shagged, after spraying inane, illegible curse words on any walling you could find, simply to appear the alpha-male, like a group of mindless dogs. It never appealed to me. Drugs, burnt out stolen cars, joy riding, shouting in the streets at 3am, fireworks, fighting. It fucking disgusted me more than anything else. It wasn’t a “lifestyle” choice though. Neither was it teenage rebellion. It was expected. It was social conditioning. Kids were made to believe they were useless, and had no real future. Their parents lived in rented council houses (we rent our house) and lived on the dole, because they themselves came from broken homes and didn’t understand any different. They were called lazy because they weren’t top of the class in Maths. They were told “you should have worked harder in school“. The system then directed funds and investment away from those poorer areas and toward the more attractive areas, with the better schools, and so the cycle continued, from one generation to the next. The system wasn’t blamed by politicians or by businessmen, the people were blamed. They were “useless” and “lazy“. You’re simultaneously taught that ambition is pointless, but if you don’t try hard enough to attempt to obtain that which is unobtainable, you’re lazy.

And whilst it never appealed, it meant that I felt kind of detached, constantly, from the way of life around the area that I lived. I could never understand to the best of my ability, why the kids who were famous on our estates for stealing, or street fighting, or spray painting, or generally being little shits, were the popular kids, whilst the kids who could write music or paint a picture beyond the normal capibility of kids our age, were simply ignored at best and bullied at worst.

A teenage life of drugs and drink and fighting and lack of ambition and lack of knowledge and aimless, soulless “living” frequented the area where I lived, and so inevitably I was always going to fall into that way of life, if I wasn’t careful. So I resisted. And whilst it has meant cutting certain friends out of my life, i’m proud of myself for doing it. For years, I felt I was having to pretend to be something that I just wasn’t. I wasn’t the kind who wanted to fight, and drink constantly, and smash a bus stop to pieces. I suspect, the majority of people I knew felt the same as me, but just felt they had to take the plunge, to “fit in“.

On my old school’s website, it reads:

“Our aim is to ensure that all students reach the highest level of achievement, that all students reach their full potential and succeed.”

I feel this quote is horrendously misleading.
School merely perpetuated the problem. I had written down on my “choices for GCSE courses” application sheet, that I wanted to take History. I have always loved history. They wrote to me to tell me that History was full up, and they had instead put me on a business studies course. What the hell do I want to take a business studies course for? I do not have a mind for business, I’m appalling at maths, and most importantly, it isn’t History. Our school didn’t have the widest of choices for GCSE courses. I have always loved Religion, History, Politics and Philosophy. I studied Maths, English, Religious Education, Science, Business, French and Graphics. I had no interest in any of those subjects other than Religious Education…….. which I got an A in. A diverse curriculum costs too much, and is far too problematic to engage. And so, a limited curriculum where a limited few are appeased whilst the majority are uninterested, is the way we do things in England. We then tell the unhappy majority that they just aren’t good enough. We don’t encourage them to find out what it is that interests them. That would create rebels!

We were placed in a hierarchical system within moments of starting this new school. We were told that these next two years would be the most important of our lives. The pressure was quite immense. Those people who loved Maths were placed in “Top set“. Those of us who enjoyed other subjects other than Maths were placed in “Bottom set” for Maths. The linguistic phrasing of top and bottom is a hard thing for a kid to take. It has an impact. We all associate top with the best, and bottom with the very worst. If you are unlucky enough to be placed in the bottom set, you soon realise what it is to mean for you, over the next two years;

You are, within seconds of starting a new school, not good enough. You’re constantly told that you can expect a D or a C at best, but nothing more. You are shoved in a class with disruptive kids, and teachers who really aren’t that bothered with you. You’re never going to achieve anything, and so you’re almost forgotten. The top set kids mingle with the other top set kids, and the bottom set kids mingle with the other bottom set kids. The system is so fundamentally wrong. Yet, I am positive that if we studied History and Philosophy ahead of Science and French, my teachers would not have made me feel like I was useless and incapable of achieving anything beyond a D grade.
Exams were never about accumulated knowledge, or the ability to theorise, or explain, or expand on theories. Exams were all about what language you had remembered, and what equations you had memorised. You didn’t need to understand, just regurgitate what you had read from a text book. You may aswell have just taken the textbook into the examination with you.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

We were taught not to question. We were taught that if you failed at Maths or Science or French, that you would fail in life in general. There was nothing beyond the four walls of that very limited scope of subjects. Take everything the teacher said as fact. Don’t bother investigating for yourself. Those of us in Business Studies were force fed economic theory as fact. We weren’t to question, just learn certain business “laws” that were highly subjective and open to a lot of questioning, and just memorise them for exam time. We weren’t to question anything, because that would take up too much time. Just acquiesce to everything we were being told.

The Country was therefore filled, half with people who were amazing at remembering equations for Maths exams and specialised language for Science exams, who would come out of school with top grades, and half with those who did not find Maths or Science the least bit interesting or mentally stimulating, and left with mediocre to crap GCSE results. I was, quite unapologetically nowadays, in the latter. How different would the marketplace and the Country in general look today, if everyone’s interests were catered too? If you were not simply shoved into an education that acted not to educate you in what interested you but simply to create good little workers? The worst thing is, I was told I could not go on to further education to study Philosophy unless I achieved a high enough grade in Maths and Science. I also got a school report from my English teacher when I was fourteen explaining to my parents that I’d never be someone who reads, or understands the significance of literary classics, or writes anything of any worth when it comes to creative writing. Ten years later, I read at least two books a month, I write constantly on here, and my personal bookshelf looks like it’s about to collapse under the weight of my books. I am well read in Roman history, I can tell you about the Presidency of George Washington, I can recite elements of the speeches of Abraham Lincoln at the time of the Douglas debates, I adore reading about the reign of King Edward VI, i’m currently reading a book on the historical importance of Muhammad, and my next book will be The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. Bukowski enthralls me with his detached sentiment, Plath intrigues me with her unique ability to turn feelings into language, Camus has transformed my World view and Vonnegut stuns me with his masterly grasp of simple prose. In short, “Mrs English” (that was her real name) can go and fuck herself. She genuinely made me believe that when it came to English language and literature, I was utterly useless.

I went back to college when I was 20, and when I was old enough to understand the horrendous hypocrisies and general bullshit spouted by the education system, and the good little workforce it aimed to produce. I had to travel an hour to college and an hour home again every day, because that was the closest college offering courses I enjoyed. I studied for my A-Levels; 16th Century History, Philosophy, Politics, and English Language and Literature. I left college with A,A,A,B.

I myself, would like to be a teacher. I worry that the institutionalised inequality of the teaching service would simply mean I would be keeping alive the inequalities that I hate so much. I do not want to be a teacher who makes children who aren’t too keen on Maths, think that they are useless. I want to be able to tell a child that they don’t have to be good at Maths. I want to tell the child who is obsessed with Photography but has had no chance to study it, that he can throw his Maths homework in the fireplace, and go and take some fucking amazing photos instead. I want to tell the little lad who feels pressured into taking drugs and getting into fights, that having to prove your masculinity to a group of thugs, should be pitied and vocalised with a simply “awww, bless them, the little idiots” more than anything.

When you have spent most of your years being made to believe that you are below average, and will never match up to the clever kids, and never produce anything of any worth, it comes as quite the shock when someone praises your work. I love Photography, I love to write, and I love expanding my knowledge. My school did not educate me, my school held me back. I learnt last night, that subconsciously, I feel utterly worthless. It is an insecurity that is rooted in childhood. I will now work to correct it.

Because of Ashlee

April 3, 2010

This is Ashlee and I.
She lives too far away.
Australia to be precise.
But she’ll live close soon.
So close, she’ll be able to poke me in the eye if i annoy her.
I met her when she was on ‘oliday in England.
I fell in love with this girl, within about five seconds of meeting her.
How strange?
She’s over 10,000 miles away, and there is still no one that could change my mind.
She could live on the moon (which would be weird) and i’d still make sure I found a way to be with her.
Within a few days, she had become an incredibly important part of my life.
I have never known the feeling of someone elses happiness being more important to me, than my own.
She is going to show me around Australia. Sydney and Tasmania.
I’m going to show her Skegness and Blackpool. WINNER!
It is now 72 days before I’m in Australia.
Which is far too long.
But not that long.
In comparison….
……to 100 days or something.
I don’t want to talk through a computer screen any more.
I’m flying really cheap economy class.
Which probably means i’ll be surrounded by live poultry.
Ashlee is going to introduce me to her friends.
And i’ll be nervous and try to play it cool.
And inevitably say something stupid.
We’re going to Paris for New Year.
I’ve always wanted to go to Paris.
But never got round to it.
Plus, I always wanted to share Paris with someone.
Much like Venice.
Romantic cities.
Now I have the perfect opportunity to go.
Ashlee has a blog too.
Go read it. She’s a very talented writer…..
…. and a talented artist.
…. and a talented poet.
…. and a talented photographer.
She has an amazing mind.
When I’m in a room with Ashlee, full of other people, I immediately think “My girlfriend is the most attractive, and most intelligent and talented person in this room.”
I have an overwhelming sense of pride whenever I hear about her day and her life.
And I smile.
And then she smiles.
Which makes me smile more.
I absolutely adore her smile.
I want to show her off to everyone.
Her family seem lovely too.
Which means another group of people i’m inevitably going to say something stupid to.
Which wont make me smile.
We often talk about our future.
And starfish children.
And a dog named Kevin.
I now have a future worth aiming for.
Because of Ashlee.

Corporate Biology

April 2, 2010

Back to the wonderful World of the free market now. In early 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union along with The Association for Molecular Pathology, American College of Medical Genetics, American Society for Clinical Pathology, and Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit against Myriad Genome, the Biotech company, because Myriad had gained a patent on BRCA1 and BRCA2 preventing any other company from researching using BRCA1 and BRCA2. What are BRCA1 and BRCA2? What wondrous invention had Myriad now gained exclusive rights to?………….. breast cancer genes. Myriad refused to licence it’s tests and it’s findings to any other company, and so if you want to be tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2, you have to go to Myriad, and pay upwards of $4000. You also cannot get a second opinion, because Myriad has monopolised the research on the two strains of genome.

In a landmark ruling, District Judge Robert Sweet put an end to Myriad’s patents, which in turn has hugely positive implications for future genome patent requirements and offers fantastic opportunities for further development in biomedical research. Myriad tried to claim it was okay to patent DNA sequence, if that DNA sequence had been “isolated“, because isolating the DNA is a technique rather than the DNA itself.

Judge Sweet said:

“Many, however, including scientists in the fields of molecular biology and genomics, have considered this practice a `lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibitions on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result,”

Myriad quite obviously just wanted to make a lot of money, restricting access to key research. Genes that can help to prevent and cure disease and death should not be patentable. Before this ruling, Myriad had refused to licence the testing that they developed, which meant that if a patient feared they might be at risk of developing Ovarian cancer, only Myriad could examine the genes. Technically, if the woman in question was a top scientist and wished to examine her own genes, she would be breaking the law. Her genes, would in effect, belong to Myriad. The kit needed to test for BRCA-1, costs around $4,000, which means if you are one of the unlucky few who are uninsured in the USA, you can’t be tested. You can’t afford it. You could potentially die because you can’t afford to live.

BRCA-1 was discovered by University of Washington scientist Mary-Claire King. Commenting on the ruling, King said the court ruling was:

“very good news for women who are potential carriers”

The field hopefully will now be opened up, further testing across the World allowed, and lives saved. Patents on human genomes hold back important life saving research. Especially when Myriad is concerned. Myriad refuses to grant permission to it’s rivals to use it’s research and treatments. It is off the scale of immorality.

Celera Corporation’s website says it is committed to making sure they….

“can improve the length and quality of life, while reducing the cost of managing our health”.

Celera’s concern with human health is a little bit shallow. In 1999 Celera Group put patent orders in on 6,500 whole or partial human genes. If anyone wants to use those specific genes, they would have to pay Celera a fortune. They cannot experiment themselves. If I want to use the genes patented by Celera, I’d have to pay Celera, even though they’re my genes. Celera’s position, as well as Myriad’s position, is based on the idea of intellectual property rights. Celera said that it is the only way biomedical research companies would invest in important research, by ensuing they recoup their money by offering licences. Now, whilst the rules of Capitalism are dirty enough to render that absolutely true, it still does not take away the fact that it would be illegal for me to test my own genes for certain mutations, in the USA. Celera therefore is not concerned with health, it is concerned with profit.

Dr Craig Ventor of Celera started his work with the Human Genome Project, which published it’s findings free. Venter then left and set up Celera, and promised the US Congress that any discoveries by Venter would be freely available. He then tried to patent 6500 pieces of genetic information that Celera had mapped and refused to allow any other biotech company or university work on the mapped genes, without paying a fee to Celera. It amazes me that it has taken this long for a Judge to rule against such immoral practices.

CEO of Myriad, commenting on the ruling, said:

“while we are disappointed that Judge Sweet did not follow prior judicial precedent or Congress’s intent that the Patent Act be broadly construed and applied, we are very confident that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will reverse this decision and uphold the patent claims being challenged in this litigation……… How else am I going to be able to afford a new yacht?

Okay I might have added the last bit myself. But, I can probably guess it was what he was thinking. The idea that research will stop immediately, and we will be driven back into an age where leaches get used to suck the disease out of patients is simply employing scare tactics from a Capitalist class that also told us that if we punish the bankers for destroying our financial system, they’ll all “leave the country“. Or in 1997, when the bosses over at the CBI warned that if Britain introduced minimum wage, it would cause the biggest financial crises ever. Scare tactics designed to protect luxury at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the majority.

ACLU staff attorney Chris Hansen said, quite rightfully:

“The human genome, like the structure of blood, air or water, was discovered, not created. There is an endless amount of information on genes that begs for further discovery, and gene patents put up unacceptable barriers to the free exchange of ideas.”

I welcome this ruling and I hope when Myriad appeal, they got shot down again.