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Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

12Jun/14Off

#YesAllWomen hashtag is failing even in preaching to the converted

I've often described Twitter as a noisy echo chamber. And I stand by that.

There are too many voices on Twitter that it's hard to discover truly meaningful or compelling thoughts. And when you, do it's quite likely that it's either something you've heard before, are in complete agreement with or even (gasp) something you've said already.

Twitter has it's uses which is why now and again other you might get something other than a joke amongst the trending topics. This early part of June it has mostly been the #YessAllWomen campaign which I believe has been inspired by a supposed lack of respect of women from men, violence and rape against women and er... the serious travesty of men not accepting no as no when hitting on women. Yes, that all time stain against humanity which is surely a Nobel Peace prize-in-waiting. If only Paris Hilton can stop taking selfies long enough to unsuccessfully campaign about the men who incorrectly come to the conclusion that because they would do her then that means she would do them.

A campaign highlighting that women deserve respect is definitely well meaning and needs no justification. However the #YesAllWomen campaign started being by dominated by generalised anti-male stuff like this

and this classic article (by a man no less!)

The #yesallwomen campaign made me worried for my infant daughter's future My daughter is 14 months old. The #yesallwomen campaign made it clear that she will grow up in a world saturated in misogyny and violence

Which makes you wonder why on earth this journalist is even having kids if the world is so messed up? You get the feeling that this guy is going to be first in line for genetic embryo selection in order to avoid getting a girl just as soon as mankind solves the problems around the ethics of that. But maybe not, as men are evidently the problem in his violent view of the world. Like most right thinking men with balls and who are not afraid to put a woman in her place I had my say...

Predictably despite my presence on Twitter being conspicuous only for it's inconspicuousness, the Twitter feminists promptly got wind of it and a very interesting conversation ensued. During which it was asserted that though women understand that it is not all men are threat, however all women feel under threat, all the time. If looked at from another point of view that means any male presence is a threat. In typical Twitter fashion, no one convinced anyone else except we all vented and got retweets from our fellow followers. It's is ironic that no agreement was reached despite the well proven fact that the Twitterati are derived from a certain section of society. You would think it would be easy to preach to the converted, but today I've found out that it isn't.

It's a pity that there's so little building construction going on in the western world. Now that Twitter is the de-facto social barometer it is probably right to think that if builders still engaged in mass wolf-whistling, Presidents and Prime Ministers would be forced into calling press-conferences promising to address this scourge of society following another twitter storm. As far as I can tell, that behaviour never brought society down, disgusting as it may be.

My point is that that a furore on Twitter feels a multitude of times more forceful, usually amplified by Twitter's coverage in the media and the use of Twitter reaction as referable measurement of public outrage. This is despite the majority of the world not being on Twitter and it not being being a representative sample of any geographic population that I'm aware of.

I'm not surprised that Boko Haram and other modern terrorists are not on Twitter despite it's effectiveness in attracting similar minded itchy-fingered keyboard zealots. Apart from Beliebers can any demography deal with the bile of an ill-informed, yet well aimed shit-storm? Enough celebrities have quit Twitter in a huff or been forced into apologising having been baited by a single ignorant troll. Now imagine if you can, an Earth-sized harem of Twitter feminists with no facts, no figures to refer to; armed with cut-and-paste quotes and spurred on by the idea that, if unchecked the inability of men to say no when first told where to stick their inept lyrics, will somehow grow into the violent subjugation of women! And of course, that there is a majority of these people on Twitter. A logical person like me would ask why these feminists are willing to spend time on a platform such as Twitter if it is filled with such like, except it would be pointless because this debate does not let facts get in the way.

If you're a feminist and haven't been offended enough by my snide jokes to read this far I will go on to put it on record that there is indeed a problem of some men not respecting women and doing despicable things to them by taking advantage of men's physical superiority and it is is serious. But it's less & less pervasive as the years go by. The glass is half full not half empty. Any campaign to gain respect needs to engage men positively and not demonise those of us who love women the right way.

It is women's prerogative to campaign how they want. I'm just saying that I know us men and am by no means saying what women should do. However this is a note of advice to women that if we feel something is ridiculous we will only react one way of two ways. With indifference or if we're bothered we'll react with humour. Unless you're journalist with no balls! šŸ™‚

childism

 

5Apr/14Off

Hope not hate

It's natural to have a problem and think that someone else is responsible for causing it. Whether you're in a relationship that is not going as well as it should or have a child who is not doing well at school. The default reaction for many people is that..."well I didn't cause that".

But a default reaction is just that, a default reaction with no analysis of what's gone wrong and why. And that is my overwhelming feeling about race hate in Britain and indeed throughout the ages. The 'others' are always an easy target when one isn't bothered about analysing what's actually going wrong, whether the issue is high unemployment or high cost of living.

It is also why you often get two opposing logics being used to support hateful thought. In any event I believe that there is always hope to correct such misconceptions, not withstanding that I believe Britain to already be a tolerant society by most measures.

More can and will be achieved and that is why I support Hope Not Hate. Their campaign has looked at the problems around race hate and chosen to fight it, first by educating with facts and more importantly by using democracy and the law. Cheers to them for being in existence for ten years but hopefully such campaigns will be so successful that they eventually won't be necessary.

17Dec/12Off

Let us bring an end to the mass killings

Another week and yet another mass killing has happened in America, this time at an infant school in the small Connecticut town of Sandy Hook. The kind of town parents move to in order to bring their children up in the safest environment possible. As we have so sadly learnt from events in Norway, Finland, Dunblane and other places around the world these cowardly acts are not unique to America, but unfortunately the US is by far and away the country in which this most often happens.

Correlation never always equals to causation but it's difficult to come to a different answer on the subject of American mass killings and their citizens' right to bare arms. The Republicans are of course the party which has taken itself to the forefront of the defenders of this right. If Maslow was a Republican you can be sure that his hierarchy of needs would specifically mention weapons in the safety category. Ignoring the fact that arming one-self may result in added protection but will by nature indisputably introduce danger where none existed. So it is that a wise Republican politician Louie Gohmert has after not-so careful consideration come to the conclusion that that the mass slaughter would have gone differently if Sandy Hook school principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed.

.., I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids..

Ignoring the fact that most school principals do not have an inner Lara Croft in them to summon at will, I don't agree with this specific train of thought. Mainly because once she would have heard the gunfire it probably means that someone is already dead. Prevention is better than cure and this solution is barely even a solution never mind being a cure. What I do believe however is that if everyone was armed it is probable that fewer mass killings would occur because they are by nature carried out by cowards who prey on society's collective trust in each other to do their evil deeds. Except that it is impossible to arm everyone so that idea is a non-starter. In fact I believe that from where we are it's easier to achieve a society with no civilian gun ownership than one with universal ownership.

My thoughts are that America needs comprehensive restrictions on gun ownership. At least to severely lessen the number of people who grow up around guns and become so familiar with them that one frustrated day after leading unremarkable crime-free adult lives they are not able to turn to their legally gotten weapons and kill defenceless people en masse. Restrictions would certainly limit the type of mass killings in which the killers want to feel the power over another human which they think is expressed by these executions. It is almost certainly a feeling that is nurtured in a person who handles guns but has never fired at anything other than a cardboard cutout which is when they might wonder how much more destruction it can do to a live person. Sick thoughts no doubt, but then you would have to have sick thoughts to be a mass-killer.

However there is another type of killer who I've noticed as the younger kind of mass-killer. The guys who even record YouTube videos to justify their actions. These guys I think just want to be remembered in a macabre type of glory. For those cowards my bet is that they know that their names will be remembered (even if it's in a bad way) long after they are gone. There will be no shortage of media organisations covering their background, their motivation and their actions in a fruitless attempt to provide insight. I don't know about you, but I never want to know who the killers were. Well I do, but it's information I could live without because I already know that they are evil. Furthermore at that exact moment another young would-be killer is probably watching that news program and thinking that they have stumbled onto the surest way to get their 15 minutes of fame, even if they will die to achieve it.

The only answer is therefore for all media to never tell us the names of these psychos. We should let them die in the ignominy of the gore forums which they and their like hang out on, whilst the rest of us remember the real people who we ought to remember, the victims.

10Nov/11Off

The Occupiers need to play the system at it’s own game #OWS

A question needs to be asked to all the people who have recently taken it upon themselves to occupy public places in vague protests which judging by their locations we have to guess is dismay at the conduct of banks.

That question was asked by a commenter on a post on AVC.com:

Why do you protest against the thousands of individuals and organizations that are legally taking advantage of the system, rather than protesting (at) the SOURCE which is the system itself?

I took it that the commenter meant that the best way to protest the system is to join the democratic queue like everyone else including the racists have done. Lord knows democracy is not perfect, but there is no denying that it does afford a platform and a voice to people with a cause. You have to applaud what organisations like the Green Party in the UK have done in turning themselves from a community initiative into a political party with an actual seat in Parliament. Maybe it is because that struggle is long and hard that our modern day slackers do not turn to democracy, but more likely it is the fact that however well meaning their wishes are, there just aren't enough people who identify with whatever it is they are protesting.

Yo man, I'm actually a revolutionary. I made my money selling placard paper in the great protests of 2011. I had to put on a small margin to enable expansion and accidentally became stinking rich.

I don't know but I'd guess that most people do not think that things are so broken that wholesale changes are required. I believe the cost of living has been rising faster than income and with the lack of job creation opportunities to make a decent living are less than they were five years ago. If most people are honest we'd realise that opportunities are less than five years ago rather than actually being non-existent. And that dip in opportunities is something that most would also agree is a short-term blip in an otherwise longer-term improvement in the life chances of all people on Earth.

I don't know for sure but I am willing to bet that a poor kid born in 2015 will be better off than a poor kid born in 2000.

Another commenter points out quite rightly that the real problem is..

... the default position for NOT working hard is very different for the rich than the poor. A poor kid who doesn't work hard, is fucked. A rich kid who doesn't work hard, not so much.

(But) Yes, if you work hard, you can succeed.

The same commenter goes on to say that what we should strive for is that all people start from a level playing field. In other words equality. I don't buy that. People can never be equal. It's a fact of life.

Even as an ardent supporter of capitalism I admire the thinking behind Socialism and Communism. However I just don't think it would work on any macro-level better than capitalism.

In the end too many people get bogged down in worrying about the state of things without looking at it in perspective. Most times if we look at the recent trends you'll actually discover that things are getting better. That's the only thing I personally worry about. Things are fucked up right now, but are they getting better?

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20Oct/11Off

War is so last century

Muammar al Gaddafi Mouammar Kadhafi Colonel Qu...

Image by Abode of Chaos via Flickr

Colonel Gaddafi died today and I am mourning.

I don't mourn for Gaddafi. I mourn for my brothers who are deceived by the self serving leaders of countries that have failed time and again to peacefully resolve conflicts. Even those conflicts which have nothing to do with them.

This however has never stopped our hypocrites giving out peace prizes nor has it stopped their cohorts accepting them; all whilst draped in the cloak of democracy.

Eleven years in and the 21st century is already littered with wars. Some people think we have fewer dictators alive today, but we'll only know that for sure in twenty years time! After all how can society ever be truly democratic when the powers that be continually show us that the best way to get power and keep it is to fight for it?

Fight dirty. And enjoy it while it lasts. That advice applies as much to Robert Mugabe as it does to Barack Obama or David Cameron.

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1Jun/11Off

If FIFA ever had any credibility they would have lost it today

It is a sad indictment of FIFA when the English FA are standing up for ethics, integrity and values whilst the British contingent of journalists are standing up for honesty and decency.

No where more than on these pages is the English media elevated to the post of laughing stock that they so richly deserve. Today, as FIFA re-elected President Sepp Blatter using single name ballot sheets that might as well have been brown envelopes, they can rest easy knowing that there's still plenty of scum out there on which they can shine their tabloid torches.

 

Well at least we should have a good view of Sepp's coronation.

 

 

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26May/11Off

What Spiderman’s uncle could teach Obama about leadership.

"The time for our leadership is now. Even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just." The words of Barack Obama on his state visit to the United Kingdom.

Correct me if I'm wrong but in that quote is President Obama effectively saying that only Britain and America can lead the world? If not us then who, kind of thing?

Well I'm going to clarify something for Mr Obama. I don't believe that people are necessarily mad that we're stuck with these two countries as leaders, we're more mad about them being hypocritical, blinkered and only out to serve their own interests without a hint of fairness. These are flaws that are fairly common, however you wouldn't expect someone who cries out to be a global leader to be like that. China and Russia might probably produce worse global leaders, however you don't see them trying to throw their weight around politically in an effort to be in involved with each and everything outside of their regions.

Wasn't it Spiderman's uncle Ben Parker who gave us a famous quote about having great responsibility if you had great power? Someone ought to get Obama and Cameron the DVD. One thing is for sure, if the world was (improbably) going to be more peaceful, prosperous and just; America and Britain wouldn't have had much to do with it given their track record.

 

Re-writing history

 

 

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4May/11Off

The UK needs electoral reform, but AV isn’t the answer

In an electoral system where the two biggest parties have around 66% of the votes, but more than 90% of the parliamentary seats, it is very hard to argue that there is fairness.

On the other hand the United Kingdom has a constituency based parliamentary system in which Members are elected to represent specific areas and "to consider and propose new laws" on behalf of their constituents. I believe that is a very good thing. In any democracy there needs to be a connection between the Parliament and the people it governs. MPs can fulfil that role very well. In theory. Therefore, if a politician gets the most votes in his constituency why should we add up all the votes of the losing parties and pretend that they represent one united faction? That also seems unfair.

In my opinion there are two major problems with the UK electoral system which have resulted in the disconnection between the spread of votes and the number of seats a party can win.

  • The first problem is that the British Prime Minister is not directly elected by the people, but instead comes from the party with the most seats in Parliament (or a coalition thereof).
  • The second is that politics everywhere is increasingly polarised. All over the world it seems that for many voters any sensible policy from the opposing party is no longer seen as such, and even media outlets are just as divided as us the electorate. Civil wars are fewer, but hatred between political parties seems to be on the increase and no conduct is too low to stoop to.

There are many reasons for this polarisation most of which I won't go into today, in case I lose you on the rant at hand. The main issue with polarisation is that it normally happens on a national scale over national issues and thus if one is voting for a local MP based on a national issue, there is a natural disconnect.

There are people whose votes change from time to time. Pollsters call them undecided voters, politicians call them the middle ground and I call them Liberal Democrats. Voters in the middle ground do seem to be more susceptible single issue politics and un-due influence from the (polarised) media.

The Alternative Vote system may solve some of the problems that result in polarisation, however it doesn't solve the problem of UK voters having no direct say in who the leader of the country is. That in my opinion is the major reason for our own polarisation.

The UK has had a succesion of PMs who have been acting increasingly Presidential. Even opposing parties campaign on the false premise of 'letting in' so and so into Number 10. This was most apparent during Tony Blair's time and may even revert back if David Cameron wins the next election outright. For example there was a time when opinion polls showed that the Labour Party would win many more votes if Tony Blair was not their leader. Mr Blair had simply run his course and probably overstayed his welcome. Being that a voter only has one vote with which he 'thinks' he could elect the leader of the country and also his local MP I'd guess that there are many times when they would have wished they had two votes. One to elect a Prime Minister and another to elect an MP.

It might seem like I'm calling for the Monarchy to be abolished in a week in which the future King of the United Kingdom got married, but that is not the case. I just think that it's time the country moved on and was able to call to account their leader in a separate election from their local representative. I'm pretty sure that the Queen could still occupy the ceremonial position she does now if it makes people feel better.

I believe that the USA has 'too much' democracy and is stuck in an endless cycles of elections in which it's much harder to do good than to wreck havoc. However as it is the UK has too few elections and is stuck in an endless cycle of trying to align their local and national issues with one vote.

12Apr/11Off

Frustration on Freecycle

Yes son, it is the thought that counts. But your mom would appreciate an expensive thought much more!

Like most people who go through a lot of stuff, when I heard of the idea behind Freecycle, I thought it was brilliant. Advertise any stuff you wouldn't mind giving away for free, or post a request for stuff you're looking for and anyone can offer you their own unwanted but useful items.

I signed up about a year ago after moving home because I fell into both camps. I wanted to be a giver but I could also use some stuff that I didn't need to buy brand new. Well today I'm cancelling all my subscriptions because in a year, I haven't completed one freecycle either in responding to a wanted ad or when I've wanted to pick up the stuff advertised by others.

My biggest frustration is that all the stuff is always taken. That's not a bad thing in itself of course. However, I only get to know that an item has been taken AFTER I have clicked on a posting, been forced to log into the site, and then filled out a message to the advertiser. Only when I've clicked send does the system tell me that the item is no longer available! Well, if they knew that the item isn't available, why am I forced to jump through all the hoops just to find that out?

There are other annoyances too, like

  • the huge number of 'freeloaders' who seem to use the site as a source of free stock to sell-on. A scan down the wanted ads can be disheartening, though there are of course some genuine people.
  • the huge number of emails you get (mostly of said wanted items) even when you're only getting a digest of site activity. Invariably when you come to click on an ad, the item will be taken, thus rendering all those notifications useless.
  • The broken nature of the website. You can't freely move from one group to another without signing up and logging in to each group. Groups are based on area you see, but of course most people are near enough to 2 or 3 groups and to want to join them all. There's no free movement in freecycle, because the tech is really quite outdated.
  • The fussy posters on the wanted ads. I've responded to some wanted ads only to be told that my item is not exactly what the poster is looking for. Ah, dude I'm offering you something that would suit your needs and is in good condition, for free and you still wanna be fussy about it? Man, whip your card out and go to a store!
  • (Updated) People are also pointing out that it's very common for someone not to turn up and collect items they have requested. I guess the fact that items are free, means that people can't be bothered really!

It does make you wonder whether this is more reinforcement for the idea that freemarkets (pun intended) are able to solve society's problems better than some of these utopian ideals. There are certainly a lot of moderators as a result of the disenguonous swamping the genuine. Ironically the moderator involvement on Freecycle only serves to put off the genuine people. It's as far removed as you can get from Laissez-faire, but it still lacks the order of a highly structured, social utopia which I think was being aimed for.

Even as an ardent capitalist, I still like the idea of social utopia, but IĀ  just don't think it would work on any sort of big level. However I would have thought it would work in doing something as simple as redistributing unwanted goods. For me that hasn't turned out to be the case, and I'll be cancelling my subscription today. So long freecycle.

23Mar/11Off

Propaganda, counter-propaganda and the cost of war on Gaddafi

With all the reporting that has been going on you'd think that Colonel Gaddafi is the only one who has been cranking the propaganda machine.

A few hours after enforcement of the 'no-fly zone' started with the bombing of Libyan positions that are not controlled by the rebels, it was reported that each cruise missile cost Ā£500,000. By the second night a hundred had been fired. Mostly by the Americans, but I'm sure you get the illustration if you're doing the math by now.

Being that I'm sad enough to have my alarm clock tuned into BBC Radio 4 permanently, this morning I woke up to reports that George Osborne and the UK government were playing down the cost of this war to the UK tax payer and claiming that it would be no more than the low tens of millions. An hour later a spin doctor was duly dispatched onto The Today programme and tried to explain away this absurdly low figure whilst putting in the obligatory fast talk, in-lieu of small print. A double glazing sales man would have been proud.

So why was the forecast so low? It turns out that the missiles being used in Libya are part of the Royal Navy's stock and had already been purchased prior to the Middle Eastern revolutions. It's a shame to say that the presenter didn't then fire back the obvious question that popped into my head i.e.

Are those missiles not going to be replaced at some point, presumably for invading yet another former 'ally' in an oil rich country? And if they are going to be replaced, why is that cost not going to be added to the cost of this war?

Military think-tank/creative accounting department