Category: News

Posts about current news (UK or World)

Reflecting on Jade Goody

I don’t comment on current events all that often, as I’ve said before I rarely feel that I’ll be adding anything new or particularly insightful so I consider it best to avoid the topic altogether.

That and I can usually see both sides of every story so can find it hard to find a position for myself.

The recent death of Jade Goody is one of those examples. I’m not particularly interested in her as a person, but what does both intrigue and disgust me is the way mass media has treated the past few months of her life. Granted she’s allowed open access and welcomed them in but, from where I’m sitting, surely there was a point where someone, somewhere, must’ve thought “ok, this is enough”.

Apparently not though. I’ve read a few blog posts about her, opinion pieces that add little to my understanding of either her or the perception of what she ‘stands for’ – which is a bit rich I think, given that I doubt she ever considered the fact that she was representing anything other than herself at any point in time, more power to her for that.

So I’ll simply quote the best blog post I have read on this topic, and let you go and make up your own minds, although I’m sure you already have.

My impression was of someone who didn’t know all the answers – or indeed, many of the questions – but wasn’t going to let that get in the way of having a good time and making something of herself. Who loved life, even if she didn’t quite understand it.

Clearly others saw a different reflection: someone ugly, stupid, small-minded, who thought very little of themself and took delight in venting their frustration on a weaker member of society in the most ugly, bestial way possible. Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill her blood. Put her head on a pole, teach others to fear and revile her.

From The Queen of East Angular, over at Hydragenic.

Twats. A rant.

RANT 1

Dear Person in the car in front of me.

I’m sure you are very very important and that you must get to work with as much haste as possible, god forbid you waste even the briefest of moments on your journey. However, see all that snow pilled up on your car? No, you probably can’t as you are too busy peering out of the porthole you’ve cleared for yourself on the windscreen.

Well all that snow, pilled up on the roof and sides of your car, is currently dislodging and showering the people driving behind you. Twat. I hope if you have to brake suddenly, and given you can’t really see the road properly I’d say there is a good chance of that happening, that all the snow on your roof doesn’t’ suddenly slide down and completely obscure your view.

Or, you know, perhaps I hope you veer off the road and remove yourself from the gene pool

/RANT 1

RANT 2

Work for a bank? Been budgetting based on your bonus? Isn’t that the opposite of the advice you tell us “idiots wot kno’ nuffink about money”? Twats.

The slow burn of bile started on Sunday morning when Darling stated that the bonuses being paid out to banking staff would be looked at to make sure they aren’t too high.

Not, “Bonuses? Are they mad? We’ve just given them taxpayers money! Screw their bonuses!!”.

Twat.

I’m really really sorry for all those people who work in the banking sector, the people in the branches who didn’t really have much say in any of this*, but the fact remains. The banks fucked up, they went along with schemes they neglected to understand or knew to be unworkable (I’m still not sure which is worse), so why the hell do ANY of them deserve a bonus?

However, undeterred I’m going to be approaching my boss this morning. Unfortunately, having not fucked anything up my chances are slim.

/RANT 2

Ohhhhh, that feels better.

* I’m aware that people working in a branch will have worked hard and be on a bonus related scheme. My problem isn’t with them.

President Obama

obamaeyes

The United States of America has, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock these past couple of months, a new President. Bye bye Bush, hello “Change” and a big dollop of hope.

Like many others I’ve been a little swept up in the general goodwill that President Obama seems to carry with him, and whilst it is obvious that he is an intelligent and charismatic man, I’m not entirely convinced his perceived persona is fair.

It’s easy to forget, as most of us are slap bang in the middle of it, that the way we use the internet has changed in the past four years and whilst the way the Obama campaign used the internet is well documented I think there is a more subtle effect of their “internet aware” campaign that is glossed over. It’s not just about the money that they generated, they were also very smart at getting the word out. Call it soft marketing (I hesitate to use the word ‘viral’ here) but the fact remains that I’ve read and know more about President Obama than any previous President.

That may be partly down to the fact that I share many of his views, partly because he seems closer to my generation, or just because he seems like a smart, reasonable man. But the fact remains that word of mouth, via the myriad of social networks in which we all dip into, has been a driving factor in his campaign.

Given how internet savvy his campaign was, I’m certain I won’t be the only person looking at how his Presidency continues to leverage the benefits of being internet aware.

Bravo to the Obama web/marketing machine, and here’s hoping the man can live up to the hype (anyone else think we are setting him up for a fall already?). Time will tell but for now I’m keen to see what he’s made of, what decisions he takes (he’s off to a great start on that front already) and how patient the USA, and the rest of the world, will be.

And, if proof were needed, the Whitehouse blog is already up and running.

What about MY God?

I’m a believer, sang the Monkees whilst pretending to play their instruments before venturing off on another “madcap” adventure. I loved the Monkees, and between them and the Banana Splits my weekend TV watching was a religious experience.

Ok, maybe not religious but certainly regular.

All of which is apropos of nothing to be honest but when I started writing this post and was revisiting some of the information that helped create it that damn Monkees track popped into my head.

ANYWAY.

Let’s talk about buses. Particularly the hoo-haa over the “atheist bus” which has had me laughing and shaking my head for two days now.

I’ve been following the atheist bus thing on Twitter. The premise is that, as some of the buses in yonder London town now have adverts for God on them, surely it’s just as fair to advertise the fact that there is (and the wording is important here) “There’s probably no God”.

When this was announced a spokesperson from Christian Voice, who obviously aren’t mad keen on the idea, said:

“People don’t like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don’t like it.”

Yesterday, the same spokesperson from Christian Voice suggested that:

“There is plenty of evidence for God, from people’s personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.

But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.”

Which does sound a little bit preachy.

However, as far as I can tell the argument boils down to this.

There is PROOF that there is ‘a’ God (just the one mind) but no proof that there probably isn’t a God.

It does seem a little ludicrous, doesn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-religion per se, although there are a LOT of bad things done in the name of religion (which I realise aren’t always the same thing the given religion stands for) and I’ll happily tolerate your belief system. I’m presuming here that the spirit of reciprocity (The Golden Rule as some christians would have it) isn’t at play here then?

Surely Christian Voice aren’t trying to change the rules, the very rules that they are trying to promote? Ohh well.

I really don’t want to get too into this as, from prior experience, religion (and politics) are just too polarising and no-one seems able to take a sensible middle ground.

However, if you are interested in this story I urge you to head over to SwissToni who has written the post about this that I wish I had (could have) written.

Private Private

Continuing the terrible titles, this is a take on Catch-22, for no particular reason other than being able to play on the word “private”. Think yourselfs lucky I didn’t choose the schoolboy route and go with “Show us yer privates”.

Oddly the only reason I’m writing about this is because Twitter is currently dead, if it wasn’t then my comment on the issue would’ve been something along the lines of “@plasticbag – nice pic on BBC website! And don’t some people get in a tizzy sometimes..”.

At this point I should probably explain that I’m talking about the recently opened Fire Eagle service which

“… stores information about your location. With your permission, other services and devices can either update that information or access it. By helping applications respond to your location, Fire Eagle is designed to make the world around you more interesting! Use your location to power friend-finders, games, local information services, blog badges and stuff like that…”
[from Fire Eagle help page]

It’s a smart idea, and one which plays nicely into the fact my iPhone has GPS built-in so I can ping exact location information back to the Fire Eagle website at any time I choose. Clever.

But, of course, the privacy nutters (I use the term advisedly) have leapt all over this, stating that locational information could be stored by any of the 3rd party websites or applications that use Fire Eagle and then they’ll know where you have been!

Don’t get me wrong, I realise such things could be abused but from what I can make out Fire Eagle has considered such things. For starters they let you control the level of granularity of the geographic information that you share with other services, from pinpoint co-ordinates to a “I’m near this city” level location. Whilst you can purge your current location from the service at anytime, the privacy busters are more concerned about the historical information that could be stored.

Now I can see that will be an issue for some people, and that having a system know where you’ve been is worrying as it will, no doubt be used to guess where you will be at a given time and then… umm… yeah. Not sure what happens then.

Worse is the possibility of a hi-tec burglar watching out for your location changing before breaking and entering your house. These days I’d guess it’s not that hard to find an address for someone who looks rich, use Google maps to get the geographic co-ordinates of their home and then just wait until they update Fire Eagle with a new location (hey hang on, that DOES sound simple, eep!!).

Or, you know, if you are worried about it DON’T USE IT!!

And no, I’m sorry but the argument of “some people won’t know any better” doesn’t cut it. If they don’t know any better why are they signing up for a service they don’t understand? The Fire Eagle website does a pretty good job of telling people what it is all about so perhaps we need to shift a little responsibility on to the individual?

I’m sure some of you have stronger opinions on this topic than I do, I’d love to hear them. But be prepared to be mocked for, if I’m honest, I really don’t believe the end of the world is nigh because someone knows where I am.

In the spirit of things

I got told off by our security guard as I entered the building this morning. We met at the door just as he was leaving and he politely asked me not to smoke there.

It’s nice that he was concerned for my health, although as I was huddled over trying to listen to my mobile at the time it was a little confusing. That and the fact I don’t smoke of course.

It’s funny, but any time I start thinking about this topic I end up considering smoking jackets and from there it’s a short hop to smouldering jackets (which belch smoke from the jacket itself), I’m sure it’s a comedy sketch from somewhere but I can’t recall where. I digress.

Having never been a smoker I really don’t see what all the fuss is about and as far as I’m concerned it’s a vile habit. Admittedly I choose to kill myself by slowly hacking off my limbs a millimetre at a time so I reckon my lifespan is about the same as that of a smoker but at least I’m not polluting those around me…

My grandparents smoked, my Grandpa more than my Gran and after several strokes left him wheelchair bound and in need of permanent care. He couldn’t talk and had very little control over his body, meaning that my abiding memory of him is an angry old man, banging on the table to try and communicate. He still had a smile and twinkle in his eye but for a young boy he was quite scary. Lord knows what my sister thought of him.

I know it’s a hard habit to break and I know it’s a bit twee (not to mention self-righteous of me) to suggest you thinking about it on this particular day, simply because someone, somewhere, decrees today as No Smoking Day but, if not today, when?

Today I am mostly…

He may be a new addition to our house but little Ollie is already well settled. We understand his moods and wants, and he’s already squirmed his way into our hearts.

Which made leaving him at the vet this morning all the harder, doubly so as, when I bent down to say goodbye he stuck a little black paw through the railings of his carrier cage. Bless.

Ahem.

In other news, the Conservative Party plan to make people to ‘community work’ if they have been unemployed for over two years. If they don’t do it, they don’t get their benefits.

I quite like the sound of this, given that the perception is that a fair number of people who are claiming benefits are doing so with no good reason and are quite happy leeching off others and not contributing to society then I welcome this kind of scheme.

Yes, yes, of course there are people who are genuinely unable to work, and I’d hope this scheme deals with such cases, but I like the sound it! Let’s get those lazy buggers contributing to society!

But, of course, this is likely to be an infringement on their civil liberties, human rights, or somesuch. In other words, there will be some way of getting out of this scheme as well.

And finally, I am still without Wii, thanks to Amtrak courier services for not allowing me to specify a pickup time, and as they only allow you to pick it up from their depot after TWO failed attempts, I won’t get it until Wednesday at the earliest.

Still, I’ll have a poor wee cat, tottering about with a cone round his head for the next few days, so I guess I’ll have my hands full as it is.

For the Fallen

There is little else to mention here today as everything else pales into insignificance. Draft posts have me pondering the moaners of the world and listing pet peeves, all of which seems so petty.

Remembrance Sunday seems old-fashioned and trite at times but fundamentally it is worth taking time not to remember but to consider.

The life we live in 2007 bears little to no resemblance of that in either of the World War eras. Much has changed and it is all too easy for us to forget, or worse, to stop teaching the lessons learned.

The conflict in Iraq is all that should be needed, the war on terror may invoke different thoughts yet it too remains a conflict. Men will die for their cause, exploits and bravery beyond anything I’ll ever know will continue.

I studied history at school, and have some understanding of the horrors of war. I have no idea how I would react if placed in such a situation, it is unlikely I ever will.

Remember.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

State of the Union

Some council workers got sacked because they spent too much time on the internet (eBay in particular). Apparently this isn’t really their fault, with Union officials blaming bosses for “putting temptation in their way” – by allowing access to the internet.

Now, I’ve never had access to, or worked within an organisation that has, a Union but I thought they were supposed to help protect the workers? If so, how does this help?

And, without wanting to come across all curmudgeony, what is it with people these days? Can’t they just fess up and admit they were in the wrong?

There seems to be a feeling that if you make a mistake you no longer have to say sorry, you can just feign embarassment, mumble something about understanding that you made a mistake and then point the finger at someone else.

To those council workers who got sacked. I’m sorry you don’t have a job anymore, but IT IS YOUR OWN FAULT.

I say this whilst sitting in work, typing up a blog post but then again I don’t work in a prescriptive environment, I don’t have “tea breaks” or “lunch hours” I just have a contract and it’s down to me to be professional and thorough and get my work done. I can stop and start when I like. I’ve always worked in this kind of environment, and find anything else utterly bewildering.

There is a further thread to this, about the fall in moral values, work ethic and so on, part of which is aimed at the education system (kiboshed as it is by the people who, ultimately, run it) and an understanding the Unions are there to protect those who can’t protect themselves. But I’m going to leave it alone as, from this ivory tower in which I’m installed, EVERYTHING looks worse than it probably is…