Sunday, 28 November 2010


Over heard as we came out of the cinema this week, “That made no sense to me, although I haven't seen any of the other Harry Potter films or read any of the books.”

 It's been another great week for those that bring you your news, Britain has entered Weathergeddon. Last week it was Royal wedding news and this one has ended with endless pretty pictures of the English countryside covered in a thin but beautifying layer of snow.
 The 24hr news channels have dispatched poor correspondents to various snowy hilltops and motorways to tell us how dangerous the driving conditions are which always leaves me with the question, how did you get there? This is the closest most of them will get to that coveted War Correspondent post so rather then delivering a considered, dispassionate piece to camera whilst the unit with which they are imbedded are taking fire they get to stand by the M62 just outside of Pontefract making out that they are Scott of the Antarctic,
 Those really are some mixed messages that they are sending out, see how pretty it is out there but don't go out, you will die. The snow is back and this time it's personal.
 Our newspapers get really very excited by the cold weather but especially the Express.


 There are 2 reasons for this, 1) they are able to trot out the meaningless argument, “well, if we've got all this snow then global warming is clearly made up” (although the Met Office disagrees) and 2) most of their readership is so very old that the cold might actually be a problem.
 Yes, the cold can present some problems, especially for the elderly, but please, calm down, it's not “The Day After Tomorrow,” it's just some snow.

 Let's do some awards now,

The Award for Pointless and Meaningless Survey of the Week,

 What happens if you ask a load of xenophobes who read a xenophobic newspaper that feeds them xenophobic stories everyday, many of which are untrue, whether or not they want to be in Europe or not?


The Award for Being Sarah Palin of the Week,

 I have some advice for the Democratic Party, let it happen. Get on with doing your thing and if the Republicans want to nominate the awful Palin person then so be it. The more she interviewed and comes under the spotlight, the more she will be shown to be an idiot. Which Korea is your country friendly with Mrs Palin?

 If you point out that she is an idiot you will strengthen the resolve of those who are thinking about voting for her and you will just come of as the class bully. Just let the people find out for themselves. Tea Party nutters will vote for her anyway so ignore them; concentrate on what you want to do. Can you imagine the an Obama/Palin debate? Those wavering voters will be put off by her. What you have to worry about is a reasonable Republican candidate.

The Award for Just Being a Massive Douchebag of the Week,

Well you have a choice for this one. You can either have Bryan Fischer, a right-wing Christian journalist, who criticised the giving of the medal of Honour, America's highest military honour, to U.S. Army Sergeant Salvatore Giunta because he saved the life of several colleagues.
 Sgt Giunta is said to have ‘exposed himself to withering enemy fire’ as he helped a wounded colleague to safety and rescued another who was being dragged away by Taliban insurgents.
 This however is not good enough for self proclaimed “Christain” Fischer who claimed that the medal was being “Feminised” because it was given for saving people rather than killing enemies. Mr Fischer, who writes a column for the American Family Association, said “When we think of heroism in battle, we used to think of our boys storming the beaches of Normandy under withering fire, climbing the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements.
That kind of heroism has apparently become passé when it comes to awarding the Medal of Honor. We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.
So the question is this: When are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honour once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?’
He added: ‘Our culture has become so feminised that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valour that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of bravery.' Tosser.
 Your second choice is Joe Rehyansky. He is a part-time magistrate and Vietnam veteran of Hamilton County, Tennessee. In writing for the conservative news site The Daily Caller he seems to have suggested that it might be a good idea for Lesbians to serve in the army, with their “medical and administrative specialties”, because all those strapping young men will be able to “cure them” and “bringing them into the mainstream.”
 He said “it fell to men to swing through the trees and scour the caves in search of as many women as possible to subdue and impregnate – a tough job but someone had to do it”. Umm, “subdue and impregnate”, does he mean force themselves upon? Does he? Does he mean that straight men should rape lesbians? It does seem that way.
 Does he think that gay men should be allowed to join up as well? Don't be silly. He said that the “promiscuity” of gay men, together with HIV, would have “the potential for disastrous health consequences” if gay men were allowed to join up. “Gays spread disease at a rate out of all proportion to their numbers in our population and should be excluded from the military,” he argued. He then went on to say “Shouldn’t the overwhelmingly straight warriors who answer their county’s call be spared the indignity of showering with other men who achieve lascivious enjoyment from the sight of those lithe naked bodies, and who may be tempted to seek more than the view?”
 Two things from that sentence, 1) he seemed to enjoy typing it a little too much if you ask me. “lithe naked bodies” indeed and 2) “ overwhelmingly straight warriors,”? Now, does he mean in general or individually? Are most soldiers straight or are all the soldiers mostly straight? Is he saying that everyone in the US Army is a little bit gay? All those buff man in uniforms, it could turn a man's head. Anyway, tosser.
Hat tip to Carmen D’Cruz on twitter for pointing me in the direction of that last story.

The No Shit Sherlock Award of the Week,

Massive stoner and all round lovely bloke Willie Nelson has been arrested for possession. Does this come as a surprise to anyone really? Seriously, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. When doesn't he have dope on him? The arresting officer said that his suspicions were aroused when the bus pulled into a routine checkpoint and he detected a distinctive odour. Of course he did, Willie Nelson was on it. It's a little bit ingrained now.
 See, drug laws just don't work. He has been arrested a number of times but has this put him off? No, no it hasn't. It is not a deterrent. Prohibition just doesn't work. If it did then we would have any problems with drugs.

 I think that will do for this week. If you have been protesting against the cuts this week, either the various student ones or in Dublin on Saturday, well done you. And there was beginning to think that we all getting a little political disengaged. You make me proud.
 People are angry Mr Cameron because their lives are being effected by the actions of a small number of bankers who have suffer but not at all and when they try and exercise their legal right to protest they are treated like criminals by the police and press.

Have a great rest of week and enjoy the snow but if you have an elderly neighbour, make sure they are ok.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Diana Watch

At the beginning of this lovely week that has just gone to wherever it is that time disappears to, I was thinking of changing the name of my Sunday posts.
The “Diana Watch” thing stated out as a simple table on my Myspace page (remember them?) that logged the number of times that the “People’s Princess” mysteriously appeared on the front of British newspapers every week despite having died some 9 years before.
I only did this because I found it sort of odd that she (however nice she seemed to be) was still making the front pages. Although, to be fair, most of those front pages were on the Daily Express. And it sort of grew from there.
As I said I was thinking about changing the name because it was starting to look a bit silly. Then Prince William stepped in to the breach to save me from having to think about a new title, 3 cheers for the Prince, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip……why am I the only one doing this? Is it because about 2 minutes after the second inline to the throne announced his betrothal to Katherine (now referred to as Katherine when journalists ask her questions but Kate in print. It seems that she likes to be called Katherine and not Kate so could the massed ranks of the British media do that please, show some respect for the poor girl’s wishes, after all, you are going to ruin her life in all other ways) the coverage had become so all consuming that you were more then a little bored of it?
Now please do not get me wrong, I am happy that 2 young people want to get married, it’s nice (for them and their families), but the coverage has been so intense that it has almost made me wish for some sort of natural disaster or terrorist scare so that 24hr News can cover something else, even just for a second.
Anyway, it lead to a little flurry of Diana related front pages, it was the ring choice what done it.

The Star is not a paper that has bothered me before. I know that they like boobs and printing pictures of boobs and that they are owned by the same man that owns the Express, Richard Desmond, but apart from that, not much. Oh and they are really bad at fact checking and sometimes print stories from comedy news websites as real stories (see here for details, oh and the original story is still up on their website. Warning that link may contain boobs)
Most mornings I hit the Sky News website for one reason, they have a little section that has that mornings newspapers front pages on it, it’s very useful as you can Right-click and save them should you need them for some reason.
So there I was on Thursday morning when I was presented with this,


Now the basic parts of the story may be true, some boys threaten/bully another boy using the medium of Facebook. The reasons given for the bullying may also be true, although that doesn’t sound like the thought process of any 12 year old that I have ever met who has not been strongly influenced by a grown up or two. This story may be 100% accurate with no exaggeration, no bits made up, no facts given a prominence that they don't deserve but even if it is all true the headline is appalling,
Just read that again, Muslim Thugs Age Just 12 In Knife Attack On Brit Schoolboy. Now this happened at a school in Coventry and it seems that all the children involved in the incident were born in England and therefore English. The article gives us no reason to believe that they aren't.
So what it seems the Star is saying is if you are a Muslim you are not, and cannot be, British. I don't think I'm reading too much into it. Muslim thugs are a defined group and Brit School boy is a separate defined group.
This shocked me if I'm honest but they were kind enough to show me that it wasn't just a one off.


Just there in the top left hand corner, “Christmas “nicked” by Muslims”.


View the article on the papers breast filled website and it has the headline “CHRISTMAS IS HIJACKED BY MUSLIMS AND HINDUS”. These damn funny religions are just like the Grinch it seems. But is it true? Ummm, no.
To quote from the article “Councillors were so anxious not to offend other faiths that they decided to share the Christian display with lights to mark the other celebrations.” and that's it, that's the story. No mention of Muslims at all. Ok it's a bit of a weird decision by the council given as Eid ended on Friday (I think) and Diwali finished 2 weeks ago but that's not the point. There was no pressure from any religion or community group to do this, it was just a council decision and yet somehow this has become “Christmas nicked by Muslims”.
I believe that headline to be a lie. A deliberate attempt to stir up tension between communities. What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Is this sort of thing worth a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission? Probably not. The PCC rejected a compliant about a similarly misleading story in the Mail this week; you can read about it here on Tabloid Watch.
So you can lie as much as you like in British journalism as long as it’s about the little people.

Some awards then I think,

The Award for Being Total Douche Bags of the Week,

Do you want to execute Gays for being gay? Well good news, the UN doesn’t mind. To quote from “A UN General Assembly Committee just voted to stop including sexual orientation on a list that protects people against discrimination-based arbitrary executions.”
Welcome to the 21st Century, it's OK it execute Gay people again, next up, burning witches at the stake and the return of the inquisition, all now expectable to the UN.

The Award for Unnecessary Intrusion of the Week,

Did you think I was going to leave the Express alone?
Most of the papers ran the same little intrusive article after David and Samantha Cameron visited the school that their son Ivan attended whilst he was alive (the Mail's is particularly voyeuristic). Strangely enough, as I believe it was the first time they had been to the school since he died, they were a little upset so pictures of them crying accompanied the story.
So far, so intrusive, however the Express went a little further, front page and refusing Samantha the dignity of even using her proper name. Mr Cameron gets called David but she, I assume because she is a woman and therefore not worthy of dignity or respect, is referred to be some silly media nickname.


I cannot express (see what I did there) to you how much I hate every single person who works, in anyway, for that nasty, unpleasant “newspaper”.

Lots of complaining and moaning this week, sorry. Will try and be a little more cheerful next time.

Ok, maybe just one funny thing. This has been doing the rounds on Twitter this week and it might make you laugh. It contains some strong language and things that you may find offensive but all the rude and nasty bits were written by people who profess to be Christians. Here is Richard Dawkins reading out some of the hate mail he has received over the years,

I hope you all have a good week.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ann Widdecombe is not a National Treasure, she's a very nasty woman.

Once a year I have to out myself as a fan of Strictly Come Dancing and now is that time. I like dance, that is all.
 OK, maybe I should write a little bit more than that.
  There is the distinct possibility that one of the most horrid people ever to enter British politics is starting to be thought of favourably.  Ann Widdecombe is not, and never will be, a national treasure. It's not just because she is a Tory, it is because she is a particularly unpleasant person all round.
 I could just leave it at that but some younger people may just think that she is a shrill voiced, humourless joyspoiler but wait my little naive friends, she is so much less.

She is anti-abortion and seems to have problems with embryonic stem cell research whilst not fully understanding the science behind it. Scientists didn’t want to create a human/animal hybrid Ann.
She advocates only the Police Stopping and Searching only Asian and Black people because “there is a certain form of person who is a danger to society and that sort of person are more likely to fall in to that category then others” despite the fact that most terrorism offences committed on these shores are by White Irish men.
She supports Homophobia as long it's by Religious people (It's free speech you know.)
She supports tougher drug laws.
She seems to think that the Church of England apologising for the Crusades and slavery “makes them look silly”.
She believes in censorship.
She is one the idiot MP's who wanted Terrorism suspects detained for 42 days despite no evidence that it would help investigations in any way.
She is against political parties trying to help get more women into Parliament.
She seems to agree with PETA on some things (they even gave her an award).
She insisted that Tories "throughout the Thatcher period" had always cared about the poor.
In 2007 she earned £310,000 above her parliamentary salary.
She writes for the Daily Express.
She was opposed to the repeal of Section 28.
She is a climate change denier.
She left the Church of England because they started ordinating woman.
In 1996 she defended the Governments policy of shackling pregnant women with handcuffs and chains when in hospital, even when giving birth.(turns out that Hannsard says that bit is not true despite what I read else where.)

And on top of all of this, SHE REALLY REALLY CAN'T DANCE!

Although on the plus side she is against fox hunting.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Diana Watch

Look, it's very simple, if you don't password protect your Wifi I will use it, hence here we all are. Hello from Kent! Come on in the water's muddy.

I think that I may be becoming a little paranoid. Every time I see a story in the press about changes to the NHS all I can see is a concerted conspiracy to dismantle it by a government that values profit over all over things. It's a subtle(ish) accumulation of things, some within the white paper and some coming from outside.
GP's, who have already been technically privatised and are run for profit, will take over commissioning from the PCT's. They already ignore standard NHS terms and conditions for their staff and, in a letter to the BMJ, it has been pointed out that Foundation Trusts will be also be able to ignore Agenda for Change but that is not really my point here.
The Government have announced this week that NICE will be stripped of it's powers to say which treatments should be available on the NHS and GP's will decided for themselves which drugs they prescribe without any guidance.
A new treatment comes on to the market and NICE review it. Does it work? Is it cost affective? Show me the evidence! If it works then you can prescribe it within the whole NHS and if it doesn't then you can't. Sounds like a good idea to me.
This simple idea has got rid of the “system” that existed before where some Health Authorities prescribed some drugs and others didn't. The press hated it, quite rightly (here for instance is the Daily Mail on that very subject. The first paragraph reads “Patients with cancer, heart disease and mental illness are being denied drugs and lifesaving treatment thanks to a postcode lottery of care in the NHS”), and it was nicknamed “a postcode lottery” i.e., where you lived effected what drugs you could have. It was agreed that this was a bad idea and we needed a centralised system and some joined up thinking and that is what we got.
NICE has been controversial in some areas of the press because they have restricted access to some really expensive, not very effective (or least not any better than existing treatment) drugs, mostly for cancer treatments. In fact, it is the same press that was critical of the postcode lottery that existed before (here for instance is the Daily Mail on that very subject. The first paragraph reads “The scandal of patients being denied drugs just because the NHS rationing body decides they are too expensive will end, ministers have declared.”).
I have a question for these people, what would you do? We don't have unlimited amount of money so we can't do everything, so give us some ideas, all you do is complain and criticise but never offer any alternatives.
Oh, as an aside, a lot of those charities/patient advocacy groups that get quoted in the papers are set up/funded by Big Pharma companies to act as lobbying organisations for certain drugs and treatments.
There are some important practical points in transferring prescribing decisions to GP's such as how do you expect them to keep up with all the new drugs that come to market? There are hundreds of studies a year and they are not always as open and straight forward as they should be. When do they think GP's have time to read all these studies? Aren't they supposed to be seeing patients? If they only read the abstracts of the articles/studies because of time pressures then they will be lead astray as many article abstracts have been shown to misleading.
Anyway, back to my rambling point. So a private company can already set up a GP consortium and now they will be able to prescribe which every drug they like, ignoring such boring, unimportant things as evidence.
This is were my worst case scenario thinking bought me. There is very little standing in the way of a GlaxoSmithKline opening a chain of NHS GP surgeries and prescribing only GlaxoSmithKline drugs. “Have you been to a Glaxo surgery before?”
OK, at the moment there are still a few hopes to be jumped though and barriers to be crossed, fords to be ummmm, forded and boxes to be ticked, but they are mostly PCT based. So we are safe at the moment because the PCT's are quite useful and no one would want to get of them, oh hang on a minute.....

That is all for this week as I'm not really supposed to be doing this.
There will definitely be no blog next Sunday (I know I said that last week but things change) as we will be in Nottingham I think for some art event or other, not sure if I'm honest but I will take pictures and if they are ok I will show you. Have a great week.