Archive for the ‘Rage Club’ Category

Lynndie England

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

For some reason Lynndie England has been interviewed recently by the media. She was jailed for her part in the Abu Ghraib regime of abuse. The interview I saw on television was absolutely despicable. If I had been present I would have been tempted to slap her face. I’m talking about the female interviewer of course.

The interviewer was showing Lynndie the notorious photographs of herself published around the world and asked her why she was smiling. She also asked her if she didn’t feel any shame or moral uncertainty at the time. The interviewer clearly has no understanding of human psychology, none.

By a coincidence, I am currently reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It describes brilliantly how the facade of civilisation is so easily stripped away. It describes the terrifying and hugely empowering leap into the unknown space of lawlessness, of crossing the line between acceptable and unacceptable.

Lynndie England had crossed the line. And it felt good. It felt good because she was reassured by the authorities around her that she wouldn’t be punished for doing it. It is the, ‘I was just following orders’ scenario. Let us explore the concept of crossing the line.

Milgram, in his famous experiment, demonstrated that most people would ‘cross the line’ of killing someone if given enough backup by a figure in authority – they were simply following instructions.

Humans are instinctively curious. If something is prohibited, we become even more curious about the that which is prohibited. The story of Adam and Eve demonstrates this. The story of capitalism demonstrates this (what is it like to be rich?). Sexual fantasies derive their power from being unlikely to happen in reality i.e. prohibited. Imagine then if you were given the opportunity to live out a fantasy in reality without anyone ever finding out. Would you take it? Would you cross the line?

Now some people are more freethinking than others. The more freethinking you are, the sooner you would stop in the Milgram experiment and I dare say that these sort of people would also object at the things being done to the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But freethinkers don’t join the military. The military-industrial complex is anathema to any freethinker, ergo it is the easily manipulated, pliable personalities who join the military. Not only that, but the military processes these people to be compliant, to follow orders, even when the orders seem insane (kill these strangers – how insane can it get?).

Add to this, that the military attracts personalities which are prone to crossing the line (there are documentaries now which has ex combatants discussing frankly their joy of killing and the incredible thrill they get from combat) and the Lynndie England story becomes a tired and depressingly predictable one.

What the hell did the interviewer expect? A grovelling apology? An epiphany of moral enlightenment? Where the hell was the interviewers moral outrage? Why didn’t she object to the interview taking place and demand that the real culprits be named, not Lynndie England, but the members of the administration which condoned these methods? Why wasn’t Dick Cheney being interviewed instead? The eternal farce is still being played out; an insignificant scapegoat is made to carry the burden of public admonishment while the real villains slyly move on to other atrocities.

No, the entire interview was a farce, no better than the show trials of Stalin. And complicit in the debacle, once again, is mainstream media.

I would like to interview the interviewer and confront her, just as she did with Lynndie England, with the footage of that interview and ask her why she didn’t feel any moral outrage at what she was doing at the time. How was it good journalism?

I have sympathy for Lynndie England. What she did was wrong but the greater sin of approving authority goes unpunished.

Telephone spam

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

In recent years I’ve noticed that these pre-recorded telephone messages trying to sell you something (I have to confess I never listen to any of them) are becoming more and more of a nuisance. So much so that I keep thinking I ought to go and see my MP, Ed Balls, and demand that he introduce some legislation banning all unsolicited sales calls using pre-recorded messages. I mean, they must cost virtually nothing to run – no call centres, no wages to pay, just some smarmy actor to pay for who must be down on his luck to do such a depraved job, so what’s to stop them proliferating? Imagine where it could end if nothing is done – your telephone is constantly ringing with these spam calls. It’s bad enough getting a live unsolicited call but when you can’t be rude/clever/sarcastic/angry (delete inapplicable) because you’re just talking to a machine, I get angry.

I think I will go to the surgery of my MP with a list of demands. I’ve never done anything like it before and my assumption is that it is a waste of time, but hey, maybe Ed Balls is just sitting there every month, twiddling his thumbs and wishing someone would come in and ask him to do something constructive. I’ll let you know how I get on.

If that is a waste of time my Plan B is to employ the very same people who create these calls to mount a campaign which harangues people into signing a petition which asks the government  to ban these calls. Wait a minute… that’s a YouTube sketch waiting to be done, surely? I bags it first.

The gravy train is threatening to derail

Monday, May 11th, 2009

It’s been interesting hearing the MP’s shift ground on the expenses issue. At first they just said ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, it’s all within the rules’. Then when the media wouldn’t let the story die and more revelations emerged which demonstrated the abuse of the current system, some of the MP’s said er, ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, it’s all within the rules’.

Hey, these are MP’s we’re talking about.

But the public indignation was such that the Prime Minister had to produce a risible YouTube video which attempted to slow down the out of control gravy train. This backfired spectacularly and the gravy train picked up some more frightening speed.

So then some independent people (Martin Bell in particular) started to complain that there was no contrition in any of these ripostes from the MP’s and slowly the whole debacle started to take on a more sinister hue. Isn’t their standard rebuttal of ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, it’s all within the rules’, exactly the same one that any participant of any evil regime that has ever existed always trots out? Yes, it is.

Suddenly the gravy train is threatening to look more like a train wreck in a very short space of time.

Now we hear admissions from all sides of the government that the system has to change and that it is no longer acceptable to maintain that, ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, it’s all within the rules’. However, I can’t help thinking that we have been here before. Didn’t something similar happen to the banks? Yes, it did.

Have we seen any legislation yet? No, we haven’t.
Oh there will be change of some kind with the MP’s expenses I’m sure but what change will there be and who will police it?

That gravy train is too valuable a cargo to simply let it run away.

The stupidity of banks

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

My wife found a good rate of interest on a yearly bond with a particular bank but she had to move fast. She did everything that was required of her to move money around (a long process these days) and she sensibly kept all the relevant documentation.

When her statement came through for the month and she saw that the interest earned was zero she started her investigations as to why, along with her angst ridden running commentary to me of her discoveries (I had no choice in this latter matter and I am getting updates as I write).

After several telephone calls on 0845 numbers (so that’s why they have them, most of their profits come this way. Incidentally, if like me, you have a telephone deal which makes 01 and 02 numbers free to call here’s a great site to avoid most of the 08 numbers) I got a review of the utter incompetence of the customer service at one bank. You wouldn’t believe the sheer ineptitude…, actually, anyone who has ever called the customer services of any large organisation and spoken with a barely comprehensible native Indian speaking customer service advisor would believe. My wife had to continually tell them their job and about the products they are supposed to currently have on offer, even, at one point, reading from the leaflet she had saved to contradict what the idiot on the telephone was trying to tell her. I won’t embarrass the bank publicly but the bank’s name begins with an ‘S’ and the rest of the letters are ‘antander’.

Giving up on ‘help’ coming from the banks she investigated further.

Eventually, through forensic accounting, she found the answer, and boy is it a doozy. When she was giving her bank account details to the other bank in the form of a pass book, the teller mistook 0 for O. Look at that again, an O for a 0. Or was it the other way around? Or look at this; 1 and I. With certain fonts it’s impossible to tell them apart.

Whoever it was in the banking system who thought combining letters and numbers for a reference system was a good idea must have been on some undercover anarchist inspired combat mission that was conceived, fuelled and finally accomplished with the help of a cocktail of mind altering drugs -

“Let’s confuse the hell out of our customers by having several symbols that look identical to each other but are completely wrong when read by a computer. This is going to be such a laugh, especially when millions of pounds could be at stake”.

A result for the anarchists.

It’s no wonder the banks lost trillions. Several other cocktails of narcotics must have been subsequently ingested -

“Is a billion a thousand million or a million million? Ah, whatever”.

Match of the day

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Red top banner







My own red top editorial

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Red top banner

Top ten lists of anything are useless. They are the lowest common denominator. The ‘most popular anything‘ lists only tell you what is popular and nothing at all about why it is popular. Nor do they indicate anything about quality. On occasions, what is popular might also possess quality but any overlap is coincidental and arbitrary.

They are corruptingly disingenuous. On hearing that a music album is the third best selling record in the world, you automatically wonder which albums are first and second. This detracts from the content of the third best selling album. It is no longer about the experience of the music, it is about units and commerce. This is wrong.

All lists should be banned and their compilers… er, shouted at!

The great toilet roll debate

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

To most people (and I sincerely hope that it is most people) this post will be a waste of time as it is so obvious.

But perhaps I am being too optimistic as, to my astonishment, I discovered the other day that some people are still ignorant (meaning that they didn’t know) of the correct way to load a toilet roll into a dispenser. I use the word ‘correct’ to mean the most beneficial. It was like finding someone who drove only ever using the reverse gear.

I was visiting an old friend and when I used their toilet I noticed that the toilet roll was falling into the wall.

“She’s an intelligent woman,” I thought, “why has she got this wrong?”

Afterwards I mentioned the error in a light hearted tone and asked her if it was just a simple mistake or a research project to find possible alternative configurations. This was the wrong approach and I could see her subconsciously preparing herself for a confrontation.

“What do you mean, ‘a mistake‘? What difference does it make how the toilet roll goes on?’

I then explained to her that if the roll falls away from the wall your dirty hand has more room to manoeuvre to grasp the paper and therefore less likely to touch the wall and contaminate it with bacteria. Also, some houses are shrines to artexing and even the toilet walls are pimpled with sharp plaster. Should your hand glance that stuff, an unpleasant graze can occur (this once actually happened to me).

Toilet roll diagram

I finished my explanation and expected an epiphany of understanding and a grateful reassurance that she would, in future, install the toilet roll in the correct configuration every time from now on.

Instead I got a scowl and an emotional outburst. She then attempted to prop up her configuration with specious arguments, one of which suggested that she consciously uses the left hand to grasp the paper and wipe with the other. I didn’t follow her reasoning too well because I was in a state of shock and awe.

To continue with the car analogy, I had just explained to her that the car has several other gears which allowed the car to be driven forwards and that the reverse gear is best left to reversing. By using the forward gears her journey will be more efficient, more pleasant and a lot safer.

Most people would be overjoyed in being shown a better way (somebody please confirm that they would). But my friend took umbrage and became more entrenched in her practice of using only the reverse gear. Maybe I could have approached the subject in a different way but why would anyone choose to stick with something that is shown to be inferior to another method?

Okay, we are only talking about a toilet roll here, but extrapolate… What if we were talking about political systems, business models, social services, peer review procedure..? If the evidence demonstrates a revolutionary new way of doing something is far better, is the old guard going to whoop with joy and switch immediately or will they fight their increasingly untenable corner?

So, are you an away from the wall or an into the wall person?

By the way, white toilet paper is less harmful to the environment than coloured paper.

PS It occurred to me that with a little leap of the imagination, newsprint could be the toilet roll in this story. Newspapers have enjoyed the ‘best installation’ position for centuries when it came to the dissemination of news but with the advent of the internet, printing presses seem as archaic today as the Spinning Jenny does. A good article on this here.

On a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London

Friday, February 27th, 2009

St. Paul's Cathedral

On a recent visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London I was shocked by the corruption of the Christian ethic.

Here in the capital city of England is a glorious monument of faith, built  by the church to demonstrate the power and majesty of God. To see it, is to be astonished at all the human endeavour involved, the complexity, the design, the perfect symmetry… all dedicated to the infinite love and compassion of Christ and His teachings.

Except you have to pay to see it.

Now I’m not an expert on religious buildings but I thought their function was to inspire people into believing that there is a God and he is worth checking out. To do that, people have to be able to visit the building and see it for themselves. Only now, the poor, the disenfranchised and the lonely aren’t welcome any more. These were the people who formed the bedrock of the church and built it up through their obedient following and service. But now they have served their purpose, the church is very successful and powerful thank you very much and they don’t require the attendance of such destitute people as it doesn’t help their coffers any, so go away now please.

As I stood in the reception area of the commercial faith machine (I refused to pay on principle), I saw a young man sitting in front of a cash register working conscientiously at taking in the money. Isn’t there a passage in the bible about Jesus coming to a church and finding the money lenders trading in it. And wasn’t Jesus furious about it and physically threw them out? I thought so.

So what would Jesus do if he came back and decided to visit one of his dad’s houses, say, St. Paul’s in London? Would he have changed his tone and say something like, “Well, yeah, these cathedrals don’t build themselves you know and the maintenance bill is, how many pieces of silver? Anyway, most of the people who come here are only sight seers, so they don’t count when it comes to joining the Heaven party and they can probably afford it too”.

So much for the largesse of the church. It doesn’t matter that the Catholic church, for example, is one of the richest organisations in the world, to be awed by its artistic acquisitions, is an experience that requires a large admission fee.

To be fair, there was a begrudging sign up in the reception area that said if someone really wanted to worship, they could do so at no charge when a service was being held – but get out quickly when the service has finished!

Okay, I made that last bit up, but you couldn’t help get the feeling that the entire concept of worshipping God had been abandoned and it was all about worshipping the money now.

It made me consider what the business models of the future might look like.

Information wants to be free, someone famously said. The digital age makes that a reality, so what is left that can be charged for?

Spectacle demands attendance, I now famously say, and St. Pauls is a classic example of how this works. No YouTube video is going to do it justice. You have to be there to appreciate the massive grandeur. It is a unique experience and as that experience can be controlled, it can be monetised.

The music industry has slowly woken up to this fact. An mp3 costs nothing to reproduce and distribute ergo it is worthless. A live performance on the other hand is a unique experience, which demands attendance, which means it can be controlled and therefore monetised.

Film making will become the spectacle – those willing to pay will see the process in action – and the actual finished film will become a mere artefact, a free memento of the experience. The stars of the films will have to get used to being paid a much reduced working fee and make do with the fame alone and possibly some creative satisfaction. Clever writers of screenplays will accommodate the commercial exigencies of the new film making process by allowing for a large paying audience to gather on the set in as many locations as possible so people don’t have to travel too far to attend.

People will still be able to make films but the films will look a lot different.

Rage Club – and now the power!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Rage Club logo
There has been an advertisement on television recently depicting a ’spontaneous’ dance event taking place in a railway station. According to the London press, a copycat event was staged at the same station by a Facebook group. This event brought total chaos to the station and it had to be closed for one and a half hours.

Think about this. The sheer weight of bodies in one place made the normal place of business inoperable.

There is nothing to stop people, in this country,  gathering together in one place in large numbers (yet).

Think about this. At the moment, these social groups are using the internet for recreational purposes and bringing chaos to various locations. What if such events were used not for fun but for political purposes?

Here’s an example. I mentioned the boycott of Nestle in a recent post. What if a flash mob event was organised for the factory gates of Nestle’s operations in York?

Or what if such an event was organised for the shopping outlet of a company that uses child labour in Third world sweat shops for it’s UK products? The shop would have to be closed for several hours resulting in loss of trade and profits – a language these people understand.

Okay, so what’s the difference between this and a mass demonstration?

Speed and fun. An event can be organised within hours, minutes even, over Twitter etc. If the event is a spontaneous dance event or balloon blowing event, it is much harder for the mainstream media to report it as a ‘terrorist’ attack planned and organised by the Hard Left. Also, the police and the business targeted wouldn’t have time to organise themselves against such disruption. Remember, the idea is to hurt the business in a legal, non violent way. A smashed up shop is simply claimed for on insurance and Joe Public ultimately ends up paying for it. Loss of earnings can’t be claimed for.

Of course, this is a democratic country (of sorts) and so it would not be just the environmentalists or anti-capitalists who could use this power; anyone with a large enough following could adopt these tactics and that includes the Hard Right. Welcome to people power.

Surely someone must have realised the potential here? Or is it a case of someone actually putting it into practice?

Shall I start?

Rage Club, an example

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

You would think that there are problems in this world which are big enough to occupy the best or even the worst brains of our species to the exclusion of any other problem. But no, someone has to devote time, energy, money and precious resources on solving the pressing problem of what to do with dust coming off dishwasher tablets.

It is simply not enough to develop a dual layered soap tablet with a different coloured ball neatly cradled in the centre of it. Most accomplished artists would have declared such an artefact perfect and complete. But these marketing geniuses can’t sleep at night with the idea that they might be missing a trick, that somehow perfection can be improved.

After loading up the dishwasher, I went for a tablet from the cupboard under the sink. I noticed my wife had bought a newly branded box full. When I opened the plastic carton I found the familiar tablets inside but each was individually wrapped in plastic. My immediate thought was ‘what a nuisance. I will now have to discard this wrapper before I can place it in the machine’. Whilst I was doing so I wondered why have they had done this? Perhaps my wife had bought a discounted job lot or something, but that still wouldn’t explain the reason for the wrapper. I couldn’t explain it in a rational way. My best guess was that some mistake had occurred in the factory and the tablets had become wrapped in plastic so instead of dumping the batch, they decided to sell them at a huge discount to compensate for the inconvenience of having to unwrap every single tablet (my wife loves a bargain).

Then on the fourth occasion of my loading up the dishwasher my wife came into the kitchen just as I was taking a knife to the wrapping on the tablet.

“What are you doing?” asked my wife.

“Taking off the wrapper.” I answered.

“You’re not supposed to take it off!” she screamed. “It’s water soluble, you just put it in as it is.”


This confused me even more. My attempts at explaining the existence of this wrapper did not take into account the fact that someone might have actually wanted to put a wrapper on it. To me this was like wondering why someone might want to increase their risk of skin cancer by exposing their bodies to man made UV light or paint themselves orange or poke themselves in the eye with a sharp stick. Not only that, but the manufacturers efforts have cost the earth another little bit of its limited resource, for what, just so that some moron in the marketing department can justify his or her meaningless existence in a totally useless job?

The addition of a wrapper does not enhance my experience of placing a washing up tablet in the machine one iota. I did not subconsciously think, “Oh my, this wrapper has transformed this tablet into the premier, maintenance free, washing up tablet of all time and has ensured my loyalty of it unto death”.

No, it enraged me that someone could be so inconsequential as to think this small and that consumers can be so gullible and accepting of such useless developments. The world is going to crash and burn in a matter of decades and the best idea that someone can come up with is a water soluble wrapper on a washing up tablet.

At least the tablets will have a better chance of survival in the coming catastrophe in their individual protective coats.