Friday, 15 May 2009

Do NOT listen to Radio 5 Live

when the public is all in a tizzy about something as easily accessible to thoughtless venting as these MPs' expenses 'crisis'. (Yes, bad, but there are Bigger, SCARIER Problems out there people. Focus. Focus.) I heard a phone-in on for 10 minutes this morning. A selection of thoughts expressed:

'I can't trust any of them. I'm going to spoil my ballot.'

'I was going to vote but now I just don't fancy it.'

'I'm not a BNP supporter, but at least if they got some votes it would make the other parties take notice.'

'I want to vote for "None of the Above"! [Followed by some long complaint about the injustice of not being able to register "None of the Above" on a ballot paper. Oh, the inhumanity.]'
'I was going to vote Tory, you know, because I thought I would give it a go. But now, I'm not voting for any of them.'

What all this really reveals is:

a) radio phone-ins are inundated with ill-informed, knee-jerk reactions by no-nothing, never-thinks who are convinced that they are omniscient. (But we knew that already, of course. Once again: They might not know anything, but I bet they reckon something.)

a) sub-section 2) I'm an idiot for listening to it for any longer than it takes to extend a finger to the 'Off' switch. OR I like to wallow in the stupidity of others. But we knew that already, of course.

b) this all shows again a serious, fundamental problem with the very notion of 'democracy' -- people do not think before they vote. 'I don't fancy it.' 'I thought I'd give it a go.' Seriously? A couple of the more articulate callers actually suggested that this election -- implying, therefore, a paradigm shift in their practices at previous elections -- that they might have to give a long, hard think of who to vote for. Really?!? You think it's worth it? Normally you what? Go on who's name sounds the 'happiest'? Consult a spirit-medium, to see who your dead ancestors reckon will best steer the economy to higher GDP?

This is still not the post I thought I should have written earlier this week, when I realised I should have been ranting less and instead saying something more profound about the relationship between our corrupt, duplicitous elected officials our corrupt, impotent media, but it's a push in the right direction. So, Ok, sparing you all the 'your vote is a privilege' shit, and assuming someone other than my three regular readers find themselves on this page, it's like this:

Democracy only works if there is an informed electorate, making choices in the interests of themselves and the wider community. IF Labour or the Conservatives demonstrate that they are too indifferent to corruption and the voices of you, the electorate, there are other parties, other independents, who, you might learn with a little reading, do not intend to take advantge of their office for personal again. AND, if you are not receiving the information you need on your country, county or city to make an informed choice on who might best represent your interest , there are other media outlets, other sources of information out there. Get off your ass and have a look.

AND, if you are really unhappy with your electoral power, or lack thereof, there are alternative systems out there, some of which are even explicitly endorsed in the manifestos of main stream political parties (Lib Dems, Green). Again, get off your ignorant ass and learn something about how your government works, and why it doesn't.

Useless sermon to the converted, I know. But I feel better having got that out there. As ever.

[I spared the LIb Dems a little there, and may have come dangerously close to endorsing them, so let me just be clear that no, I'm not, really, though they would be a lot better than the Tories if you're looking for an anti-Labour vote. But mostly it's because I'm used to supporting a third party -- the NDP back home -- and though I would like to see the electorate swing more dramatically left, I have to repeat now what I usually say at every Canadian election when people whine 'they're all the same', 'it doesn't matter who gets in': People, there is a third party who, with only a relatively small shift in the popular vote, could conceiveable take a first shot at government. Maybe give them a chance first. Then complain 'they're just like the rest.' It's really not that hard.]

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Self-serving assholes, right?

Oh dear lordy is the British press all a quiver with the -- alleged -- furore over MPs expenses. Is it just me, or is this another case of the press being a little bored, and over-compensating by being a little too unnecessarily outraged on our behalf? According to numpties like our dear friend, the award winning Nick Robinson, this has forever tarnished the reputations of politicians and disillusioned the Good People of Britain.

Excuse me? How many of you, honestly, last month, before all of this was made public, thought that politicians to be right honourable men and women who weren't on the take? So far, I've actually been rather impressed that most of the expenses for which they are claiming aren't of the £800-for-a-crate-of-champaign variety. £5 for dog food?!? That's it? Take it. It's yours.

That's your scoop, Telegraph? That's the best you can do? Wow. Your ace reporters are a bit shit, aren't they?

(Incidentally, on the Today programme this morning I heard some complete nut -- a Tory candidate in the up-coming elections -- splutter incredulously when it was put to her that the Telegraph was a right-wing paper. 'What?!? The Labourograph?!?' she said. Oh fuck. Think about THAT before you put your X beside a Conservative name in an election 'because we need a change'. [Side note: it is my long-standing belief that anyone who chooses who to vote for based on 'because we need a change' should have their vote taken from them. Forcefully, preferably. Let me know how you get on.])

To my happy surprise, this morning's Metro -- you know, that free paper you sometimes move before you sit down on the bus -- had the best comment today, in their front-page cartoon:
A picture of two well-groomed Tory MPs looking at a paper with the headline 'Now Tories Apologise for Exes', with the caption, 'Wait a minute -- second homes and tax avoidance are what we stand for.' More to think about before voting.

Friday, 8 May 2009

[Terrible pun removed]

This is the more detailed response to Word Geek's response to my post yesterday, which all got a bit too much for the comments section of our respective hovels in cyber space. (And if you haven't already, you really should bookmark The Geekster's terrific blog, The Cunning Linguaphile.) ['the Sloz'? really?]

Thanks, first, for setting me straight (ah ha! that's good. I'm using that as the title. See?) on the 'going/turning' debate. Though of course, really, I would never use either, for the exact reasons you cite, which are completely true. Raised Catholic in a typically homophobic setting -- i.e. no more or less than any other setting in the 70s/80s, even though it was in Canada which, I'm very proud to say, has a good record in at least trying now to remedy the situation -- I remember very clearly a not exclusively unconscious assumption that you 'went' gay because of something traumatic that happened to you.

Of course the BIG assumption can be made (and though I don't always write about Freud he helps us here, too) that what this really expresses is an unconscious fear that once given a 'taste' of The Gay one might actually like it, thus undoing years of careful repression and denial in the service of a heterosexual identity in a homophobic culture. (Like why people don't like to imagine their parents having sex, I suppose. Oh. Sorry about that. Too late to take it back now.)

It's the Freudian assumption all over again, pathologising 'perverse' sexuality. Though of course Freud wasn't alone in this, and despite some of the rightly often-cited shocking phrases, Freud was actually quite good for his age, working from within that (or this) episteme. (As ever, it was more often the case that his followers mis-used Freud's ideas to condemn people for what they considered to be unacceptable sexual choices. The same can be said of the use of Freudian and Darwinian ideas by racists. Don't blame the cow if the milk goes bad because some frickin' bigot left it out in the run to curdle with the spite of hatred.) For Freud, and to his credit he acknowledges this himself, anything fun in sex, that is anything other than the single heterosexual act of penetration for the purposes of procreation, is 'perverse', so he didn't really mean to damn people with the tag, you know, that includes all foreplay, and because being Freud he was into all that. Oh yes.

Thanks, too, for catching that I nicked the toaster joke from Ellen. When I saw that I thought it was brilliant, and I've been using it liberally ever since. I've never really claimed it as my own, but sometimes it's too hard to explain, you know? (I think I calculated, roughly, once, that 3/4 of everything I say is either a direct quotation from or an allusion to film, tv or stand-up routine. You think that's funny? You think that's funny? What, like I'm a clown? I'm here to amuse you? etc. etc. ad naseum.)

And thanks also for explaining that I'm 'totally down with the gays and all that'. (By 'down' do you mean condemned to be forever licked by the flames of eternal damnation? No? Oh.) In case anyone was in doubt. Though I could hardly save said, 'No, really, I don't mind... some of my best friends... [insert your own personal homophobic rationalisation here]'. Now I forget if I'm worried about being accused of being homophobic or anti-Semetic. Probably both.

But, at the risk of some of this Gay Goodwill, I need to ask: you say that you think the 'coming out' issue is more complex than merely learning to accept a pre-existing sexuality. What did you have in mind? Without denying that as the case with many/most people who come out, does the notion that one accepts a pre-existing sexuality not in some small way cast a homo-sexuality in an (unnecessarily?) restricted box? I know this discussion might well lie well beyond the remit of your blog (intelligent commentary how lanaguage is used in our society and what that reveals about us) and mine, too (throwing shit at people), and I'm pretty sure that someone will have written on this, so I guess I'm really asking for you or any reader to suggest some readings for me. (For the record, I ask not only out of interest but to help with future questions in my Foucault seminars, so any help will not just help lift me out of ignorance but potentially an entire generation of young minds.)

Finally, I've already got a salad spinner. A really nice one. Can I keep collecting Veggie Convert Points until I have enough for something else? (A home cheese-making kit! That's what I really want. If there was a Santa Claus, that's what would be waiting for me under the tree this December. If there was a Vegetarian Reward Scheme -- and there should be, if karma worked -- I'd pick that.) What will you give me if I hoard my points?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Another argument for vegetarianism

if it were needed. Or, at the very least, for eating less meat. Or against intensive animal rearing, which amount to the same thing.

The pigs' revenge

Just as an unsustainable financial system caused the current banking crisis, the intensive farming of animals is at the heart of the swine flu pandemic

No. Eating animals won't give you swine flu. But the way that we eat animals has lead to this, and all sorts of other problems.

And to file in your incessantly burgeoning folder labelled Opportunity Wasted, instead of using this world-wide problem to re-evaluate past practices and remedy the situation in the long term, vested interests are seeing to it that while they make the right noises to some people, debate on the Larger Picture is muffled by small, inconsequential token gestures that do nothing to change the reality that got us into this mess in the first place. (Sound familiar?)

Lawrence says it very effectively, for me:
But instead of addressing these wider issues, the response to the flu pandemic in terms of food production is "carry on as normal". Urged to spend our way out of ecological recession, we are exhorted to keep eating pork products. Keen to protect the economic interests of its meat industry, the US government took to calling this swine flu "H1N1 flu" a couple of days ago, in order not to put people off their chops. The World Health Organisation, which depends on the US for a large part of its budget and has been bullied by it before, has now followed suit, rebranding the flu influenza A (H1N1). But simply saying "as you were" is no more an adequate response to the cause of this current crisis than it is to the banking collapse. If we carry on as before, the pigs may yet have their revenge. And if not the pigs, the chickens.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen (and dignified folk of unspecified or alternate gender) is a postmodern, post-industrial solution to a very industrial problem, so remind me to cite that as an example when you ask me later because I'll have forgotten.

Remember, if you go veggie tell them that it was me who convinced you: 2 more converts and I get a free toaster oven!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A serious debate

could be had, I know, about this:

US 'hate list' DJ to sue Britain

about the universal liberal imperative for freedom of speech versus the equally imperative duty of states to protect their citizenry from the abuse and provocations of hate. I could talk about the legislation introduced in the UK, the publication and very existence of such a list of people deemed undesirable and what this says about the British nation and the Labour government. About similar Canadian laws against hate and how such laws, though distasteful in a modern democracy and perhaps incompatible with an age of borderless information access, may be necessary to guarantee for all those competing, paradoxical obligations.

BUT, instead, I'd rather just revel, in my usual, juvenile way, in the widely known truth that 'shock'-DJ, testosterone-throated, rabid conservative political ideologue Michael Savage -- Grrr! Hear me ROAR! -- has changed his name from the rather less intimidating, rather less virile Michael Alan Weiner.

Te-he-he. Geddid? Weiner.

Paging Dr. Freud. Dr. Freud. We have a terminal case of castration anxiety on American radio. Dr. Freud.

I say we let him into the UK; let him say whatever he wants. IF, and only if, he has to use his real name. To preface every sentence, every opinion. (Something like 'I may only be a Weiner who wants to be Savage, but...') That would work for me.


(I am such a petty, superficial shit. BUT, I'm not a right-wing, hate-filled asshole. So that's something.)