• Packing up and Moving on...

    It's been a while since I last posted here. Just popped back to check the mail, and leave a forwarding address.


    Cheerio. I'll remember to visit.

  • UK PLC Sale (The Shock Doctors)

    A little poem inspired by the proposed road sell off, and subsequent twitter conversation with the question, "Is there anything the government won't sell off?" The subtitle is a little homage to Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", if you aren't as interested in lefty literature as me.

    Right, that's the introduction, now for the poem.

    **Welcome to UK PLC.
    Welcome to our Spring Sale!
    With a deficit to cut,
    Everything must go!

    Here's a library. Free
    For the Big Society.
    Fifty percent off all forests,
    Loggers, Timber Merchants,

    Available to the lowest bidder,
    A sixty year old health service.
    Bupa, McDonalds,
    Place your orders.

    Roads, the police.
    Everything must go!

    We are The Shock Doctors,
    In our uniforms of yellow & blue.
    We are The Shock Doctors,
    Cutting is all we do.

    We'll give you money,
    Now set up a school.
    Plan your curriculum.
    Do what we should.

    Tax the rich? Havin' a laugh!
    Slice disabled benefits in half!

    We are The Shock Doctors,
    In our uniforms of yellow & blue.
    We are The Shock Doctors,
    Cutting is all we do.

    Moving on. Final lots.
    Education, what I am bid?
    Six thousand? Eight? Nine?
    With five figure debt,
    A well paid job.
    Live with mum until forty eight.

    We are The Shock Doctors,
    In our uniforms of yellow & blue.
    We are The Shock Doctors,
    Cutting is all we do.

    We are The Shock Doctors,
    Selling everything soon.
    We are The Shock Doctors,
    Closing a library near you.**

    If you want something serious, here's a Guardian piece on all the privatisation since 1979.

  • A few questions for the "Coalition For Marriage"

    I've been very silent on the Gay Marriage issue. Partly because I know plenty of Christians who are steadfastly opposed to Gay people getting hitched, and partly because the whole subject confuses and amuses me in equal measure. Especially when both sides are complaining of being the ones that are persecuted.

    However, being silent means I haven't asked the questions that I've wanted to ask of "The Coalition for Marriage" and it's supporters. Before I ask, I'd just like to state that I consider myself to be an Evangelical Christian - but I'm not a supporter of the "traditional marriage" camp. Which brings me to my first question;

    1) What is "Traditional Marriage" anyway? I've heard this phrase a lot recently, and find myself wondering what exactly it means. Why use the term "Traditional Marriage"? If you're opposing Gay Marriage on religious grounds, why use "Traditional" instead of "Biblical"? Because Traditional does not equal Biblical - maybe you couldn't find enough in the Bible to justify using the term "Biblical".

    2) What damage is Gay Marriage actually going to do to families with Heterosexual parents? I'm waiting for an answer on this one.

    3) If marriage is solely for procreation, then why do people over 50 get married? I've heard many times "marriage is for procreation" when discussing the subject of Gay Marriage. Well, if marriage is solely for procreation, what does it mean for all the people over 50 who wish to get married - Gay, or Straight? I'm waiting for the Coalition against Pensioner Marriage to start up.

    4) God created Gay People, and he created marriage. So why would he deny some of the people he created the joy of marriage? This is the question where I get stuck. I'm currently trying to look for arguments against Gay Marriage, and all the answers in the Bible refer more to promiscuity, prostitution, etc, than to gay relationships, which leaves a very grey area for Christians to argue over. No matter how often I go over it, I'm still no clearer - in fact I'm less certain about it.

    Maybe - as the main theme of The Bible is loving each other - it doesn't matter about the gender of the two people involved, as long as they absolutely love each other.

  • Nazi warming up, Journalists out in the cold

    A couple of stories that roused me from my sickbed this morning, and inspired me to write a blogpost (because twitter just doesn't have enough characters). Both involve the far right, and both have me worried for different reasons.

    The first was reported on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, and concerns two journalists who tracked down a Nazi war criminal and are now facing trial in Germany for violating the war criminal's privacy. Yup, lets overlook the fact that this was a splendid act of public service which all journalists should aspire to (better than photographing Pippa Middleton's bum) and the Nazi has now been convicted. It makes me fear for the future of journalism, when the reporters can't even investigate something that clearly has a public interest.

    The second story worryingly involves women active in Germany's far right. It seems to be a trend in recent years, that the far-right have been re-asserting itself and adapting for the new millennium. From the BNP to the EDL to the National Front in France, the racists have become very vocal and comfortable spreading their hatred. Why anyone would join a racist organisation is already the subject of much debate, but why would women become so involved? What is the motivation for a woman to join a movement that has historically been anti women and held a view that women cannot be anything more than mothers and home-makers? The far right seem to be adapting so much and so well, that even the people they've traditionally discriminated against are attracted to their brand.

  • Remembrance Day: Consumerism will not tolerate criticism

    It's that time of year again. No not Christmas - even though Sainsburys have been selling advent calenders since September - it's Remembrance Sunday. You've probably noticed it, what with all the related bling around.

    The latest news is that crystal studded (yes, you read that right) poppy brooches have been selling on ebay for over 100. The original price of this particular brooch is 59.95, with only 10% going to the British Legion. Yes, consumerism is making a mint out of a sombre festival of remembrance.

    Now, I understand that the subject of wearing poppies at this time of year is an emotive subject - as criticism of newsreaders for not wearing one, pleas for England footballers to wear them (though I think it would be more respectful if they looked like they gave a toss) and the recent twitter reaction to this article by Laurie Penny where she criticised the bling of remembrance. The poppy has become a national religion which will not tolerate any criticism.

    Perhaps its time to stop and think. On the 11 November we remember the dead of two world wars - the second of which thousands of British soldiers fought against fascist regimes whose preferred response to any criticism at all was to have the seditious ones arrested and executed. Okay, we're not arresting anyone who refuses to wear a poppy or criticises the industry around it, but by not tolerating anyone who doesn't wear a poppy without question we are suppressing freedom of speech. Not suppressing freedom of speech by force, but by subtly impressing on the population that its not PC to criticise the poppy.

    If we refuse to allow criticism of the poppy industry, then all the British soldiers who died fighting in World War One and World War Two are going to start spinning in their graves.

  • Occupy London and Peaceful Protest

    For those living under a rock for the past two weeks, let me update you on the Occupy London protest near the Stock Exchange.

    1) Protesters try to camp in Paternoster Square, but Capitalism's security guards move them along.
    2) So they pitch their tents outside St Paul's Cathedral.
    3) Initially, St Paul's welcome them with open arms, but soon the money-changers start complaining that the tourists aren't coming in and paying their 14.

    Now, the Canon of the Cathedral - Rev. Giles Fraser - has resigned as the church and police plan to forcibly evict the protest camp. Yes, you read that correctly, the church is colluding with the police to remove peaceful protesters from their camp. Where are we going as a society?

    Now, I stopped believing in protest when I realised that those in charge just carry on regardless (Iraq, Tuition Fees, Cuts, to name a few), but the right to protest is still an essential right in every free society. We demonise protesters in the media, and turn a blind eye when the police forcibly remove them, how does that leave the UK's standing in the world? How can we preach to Libya, Syria and China about human rights and civil liberties when our own reaction to protesters is "get a job"?

    When we start clamping down on legitimate protest, where does it end?

  • A Dangerous Precedent? Update on the library closures

    In worrying news for culture and literacy, a high court ruling has backed a council's plan to "rationalise" (that's corporate bullspeak for "close") library services. Despite a campaign by residents of Brent, the council and courts have decided there's nothing wrong with closing a few libraries.

    Yes, they see absolutely nothing immoral with depriving poor kids of the joy of reading, and potentially condemning them to a life of illiteracy. Or even, an elderly lady who can't walk too far, a family who can't afford internet at home so rely on the free internet at the library, or even the teenager who has no space to study for GCSEs/A-Levels at home. No, these people don't matter to the man who holds the purse-strings - poor people shouldn't be reading or online anyway, because they might learn stuff.

    All this leaves young people in a world of no jobs, no hope and no cash, with nothing else to do except riot.

  • Monty Python scared of a few bigots?

    According to Terry Jones (of Python fame, not incendiary bigot fame), the glorious Monty Python's Life of Brian would be too controversial if made now.

    He said,

    At the time religion seemed to be on the back burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It has come back with a vengeance and we'd think twice about making it now."

    While most people with religious belief would probably see the funny side, you'd expect Fundamentalist Prudes (note, Fundies are not the same as Evangelicals) and Hate-Filled Homophobes to come out in protest. Complete with placards telling us "God hates .........."

    Anyway, those people just remind of this scene from the film.

  • Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves; But they just want to live

    The recent eviction of Gypsies at Dale Farm, which has now attracted the criticism of the United Nations, reminded me of this song.

    Whatever settled people think of them (the Irish & Romanians especially), Gypsies are human beings too. They want to earn money too. Okay, some do it less-than-honestly, but sure there's people like that in every community. It seems unfair that all Gypsies should be labelled with the same brush, and victimised wherever they go.

  • UK Riots: Evictions are not the answer

    So, with a little clear light between ourselves and the riots, some corners of the press (and government) are calling for rioters to be evicted from social housing. Even suggesting changing the law to ensure it.

    Stop right there. I mean it; stop.

    What good is evicting someone from their homes on the basis of one or two nights of violence going to do? The argument I'm going to get in return is "oh, they deserve to be punished", possibly followed by a description of rioters as "feral" "scum" and "rats". (Don't know about you, but describing rioters as rats just gives me the mental picture of a gang of rope-tailed rodents carrying a HD ready telly, but anyway.)

    Yes, if they've been convicted of a crime, they will be punished by the legal system. But, like a lot of the rhetoric, evictions just reinforce a view that the rioters are evil and beyond redemption, so the best thing for them is to be cast out of society. If that view point prevails, then we are in for a lot more trouble!

    1. If you've been cut off by society, you're unlikely to be wanting to follow society's rules. Just like the law of a country only applies to residents and those it does business with, so the rules of society apply to those living within society.

    2. The best way to deal with the violence of the last few weeks, is to look at our society. What has happened in our culture that has encouraged the riots? As some have (correctly) pointed out consumerism has a lot to answer for. (Though, it's all very well sitting in your ivory tower, you've got to get down on the ground and do something about it)

    3. Think about how much youngsters have to do in the long summer holidays. Is there a large gap where a bit of stimulation should be? There's nothing more frustrating than boredom. Think about their communities - what will be lost when the cuts come?

    Instead of casting families out of society for the misdemeanour's of one teenager, we need to look at ourselves and work to change society for the better. And, yes, it might be a good idea if the church pulled its finger out to help too!

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