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Could a woman have done this…? Men are back on the map…!

6 Jun

In a video clip that cannot fail to stir emotions, two men become immediate icons for their gender and define manhood to the world. Men are back on the map.

Modern scientific research increasingly shows us men to be pretty crap at most things when compared to women doing the same tasks.

Contemporary media frequently depicts males as being listless goofs who are only there to carry shopping bags and occasionally hit someone for being an irritant.

Using nothing more than an electric drill and without writing a Risk Management document to share with a department, two men do what their sex is most famous for: they destroy something that is bad and avoid getting killed during the process.

Here, in a selfless show of astonishing bravery, two unknown men put ‘manhood’ right back on the map in a single act of stunning beauty.

I write with tears in my eyes as I herald a new dawn for anyone who habitually walks around with the plumbing on the outside of their body and who can’t remember their kid’s birthday.

Watch and learn…

(Note: at the very end of the video you will see other men appearing from their hiding places. These men are from the ancient tribes of Eesamateofmine and Letsburnsomethingnext. )

The FBI, marijuana and young hackers: Morality hides under the table.

22 May

“..the best ones smoke weed, so we can’t use ’em…”

 

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The director of the FBI, James Comey, has reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that he may have to review the prohibition on drug-taking among his workforce because he cannot employ the best of the best when it comes to hackers.

At first glance, this comment may seem almost comical. Indeed, Comey is now back-pedalling furiously and saying it was meant as a joke. But it may still be a truth spoken in jest.

The FBI does not employ people who have used drugs in the last three years. The FBI wants to recruit hackers. So, they recruited a load of hackers who haven’t used drugs in the last three years. You can guess from Comey’s words how well it all worked out. Now, the FBI wants the ones who are trousered, minced, absolutely off their face on skunk – because the hackers the FBI currently have are not as good.

Can you imagine how the FBI hackers who are about to be fired feel? There you are in your navy blue skirt or your Walmart charcoal pants. You parked your car perfectly in the car park, neither too far to the left nor right. Suddenly, a security guard pulls your chair away and marches you up to the human resources department.

A woman you have never met then hands you an envelope with a letter of reference and tells you that they have done all they can to find an alternative position for you within the FBI but to no avail. Then, she nods to the security guard who walks you out to the car park.

As you pass your old desk, you see that it is now occupied by an eighteen year old who has his slammed Vans resting on your immaculate Apple and is taking a selfie on his iPhone.

You are toast.

This hacker does more in four hours than you did in three months.

You find the Hudson River and you jump into it.

 

The Fantastic Dilemma…?

It would seem reasonable that our offices of high authority and power do not employ habitual drug takers. Drug taking is both illegal and begs questions about the competence of a worker to do their job properly. But what happens if you are trying to arrest criminals who hide behind the tightest web security? The best help may come from those deep inside the business we call ‘code writing’ (if it is legal) or  ‘hacking’ (if it is illegal). These people often smoke joints and eat pizza.

The top hackers often take drugs. I mean, would you really leave a message on the FBI’s server at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington saying: “Love the suits you guys wear!”  if you were sober and law-abiding? Besides, hacking is a long game that stretches your concentration and intelligence over many straight hours. The USAAF pump Speed into their fighter pilots so why can’t a hacker stock up on some weed and Ben & Jerry’s?

Perhaps James Comey just got sick and tired of having his weekly email to his staff persistently replaced by a picture of a lol-cat and that print of Bob Marley smoking a joint. He’s out for revenge. Book the kid. Think laterally.

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Which brings us neatly to…

If you are a right-leaning law-abiding citizen, then you probably believe that the FBI go around all the top universities and pick out the brightest code writers and sit them down in the back of the black Suburban and say:

‘Forget Pfizer. Come and work for us.’

If you are a left-leaning law abiding citizen, then you know damn well that the FBI stake out a sixteen year old as he or she hacks into their headmaster’s bank account – the one that pays for the dwarf to whip him – and they sit him or her down in the front room with their parents and say:

‘Forget McDonald’s. Come and work for us.’

‘I can’t. I take drugs.’

(mother faints)

‘Damn.’

 

Can you spot the massive…er…half-truth in all this?

Just because the FBI cannot themselves employ drug-taking hackers doesn’t mean that they don’t use their services.

The FBI contract out this kind of work to a bunch of private firms that do employ drug-taking hackers. Those firms then invoice the FBI for ‘code writing services and program viability analysis’. Everybody is happy.

 

Then, in May 2014, the FBI notice that, whereas the FBI all drive around in four year old Chevrolets, these firms that go by the name of Yellow Penguin Computing, Zed Labz, Drelb Inc. – all drive three month old Ferraris.

 

When your in-laws are outlaws…

James Comey, Director of the FBI cannot have that. It sticks in his craw. Yet he cannot employ drug takers. He needs a solution. He dips his toe into the waters of popular opinion. He says he might have to look a the situation.

If he is successful, then any government department or agency may soon be allowed to employ drug-takers as well.

There will soon be no difference whatsoever between the moral values of society, outlaws and the elite who rule them both. Just like the end of alcohol Prohibition, the questions over morality will melt away. We all know that the current prohibition of marijuana serves no public good. It merely boosts the wealth of dealers – the bootleggers of old.

But the FBI cannot employ the top hackers unless marijuana is legalised across the whole of the US. It is a nationwide agency. Worse still – until that day, the barrier between what is legal and what is illegal becomes arbitrary and selective. Existing laws already flatly ignore criminality within crime-fighting agencies.

You were stopped for speeding by a cop who you believe was off his face on Nepalese black at the time?  Good luck with the appeal. You believe that your local police are paid off by drug dealers? Bring us the evidence and we’ll pay for your headstone.

That is not a good forest for society to venture into. Either marijuana is legal or it is not.

However, could it just be that James B Comey, director of the FBI, is in fact merely lending his weight to the campaign to legalise marijuana?

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Ukraine: Obama Putin Skype call – latest

5 Mar

Roadwax’s very own Elena Handcart sends this report from her covert position in the passenger footwell of Mobile 6, parked on the double yellow lines outside Downing Street:

Obama: Hi

Putin: Privet

Obama: Yes, I got the NSA to check. Its all private.

Putin: I give up…

Obama: You do…? Oh, I am so glad…I er…I applaud your wise and er…

Putin: No…! My stupid friend…privet…is hello in Russian…privet means hello.

Obama: Oh…privet…that sounds like…

Putin: I not have time for this. Where is Merkel…?

Obama: Merkel…? I thought it was just going to be you and me, Vlad…

Merkel: Hi…

Obama: Angela…! What a pleasant surprise…! Vlad and I were just wondering…

Putin: Be quiet, Barack. I’m paying for this call so you listen.

Obama: Oh, now…there’s no need to be like that…

Putin: Cameron…! David Cameron…!

(silence)

Putin: Angela…you have something you wish to say…?

(silence)

Putin: Do not make that face with me, Angela…

(silence, short sniffing sound)

Obama: Angela…don’t let him bully you…he always sounds really angry but…

Merkel: Barack, please will you not talk?

(sound of Putin laughing)

Putin: There…! She is like lioness…! Angela is strong woman, Barack, like Michelle…!

Obama: I think it is time that you stop all this playground nonsense, Putin…it’s getting boring…

Putin: Barack, Angela has something she wants to say…yes, Angela…?

Cameron: …and another bottle of 2009 Dom Perignon…and some pain-killers, okay…?

Putin: Cameron, be quiet you idiot.

Cameron: Goodness…! Didn’t realise we were switched on…well, well…

Obama: Dave, shut up.

Cameron: Absolutely. Sorry.

Putin: Say the words, Angela…

Obama: I shall not stand by idly while Russia…

Putin: Yes you will. Shut up…! Angela…say the words…!

(sigh)

Merkel: I, Angela Merkel, wish to thank Mr Putin for providing my country with 30% of its gas needs.

Putin: There…! That is good, brave woman…like Russian woman…! You hear that, Obama…?

Obama: Aw…c’mon, you know you forced her to say that…

Putin: Angela…Angela…tell my stupid friend…

Merkel: I, Angela Merkel wish to deny the vicious capitalist slur that I have been forced to say this.

Putin: Obama…see…? I give you another lesson in diplomacy, yes…?

Obama: Hardly…

Cameron: Oh, great batting, Barack…! Top man…!

Obama: Shut the fuck up.

Cameron: Right. Sorry…

Putin: Cameron…

(silence)

Putin: Cameron…Angela is good East European woman. Do you understand…?

Cameron: Not really. She wasn’t slow in voting with her feet and jumping over the wall, was she…?

Merkel: David, what car do you drive…?

Cameron: BMW…and very good it is, too…

Merkel: Exactly…so please, David, sit down before you try and think. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.

Cameron: Well I think that’s rather rude if you don’t mind me saying…

Putin: I do. Do not speak anymore unless I call your name.

Obama: I suppose the Jaguar is with the mechanic…in Mumbai…

Cameron: Oh, you bloody turn-coat…! Well, I’m not licking Putin’s arse. You go ahead…

Merkel: Stop talking, you imbecile…!

Obama: Cameron, you are out of your league…shut up and listen…

Putin: There…my stupid friend is telling you good advice, Cameron…listen…

Cameron: Fine…

Putin: Now…Obama, I want you to get Kerry to wear a dress in public tomorrow….and make-up…

(sound of Cameron laughing)

Merkel: What is so funny about wearing a dress, Cameron…?

(silence)

Putin: Cameron…answer Frau Merkel..

Cameron: …oh, really…this is ridiculous Vladimir…I mean, come on…

Obama: Goin’ in…! (laughs)

Putin: Cameron…you have many Russian tax exiles in London, yes…?

Cameron: Bloody right! Jobs a good ‘un…! Osborne has got a hard on like he’s on Viagra

Putin: Exactly…you have taken all the gangsters and all their money out of my country…yes…?

Cameron: Nearly all…still got room for a few thousand more and we’re working on that…

(sound of champagne cork popping)

Merkel: You brain-dead moron…

Putin: Shushh, Angela…let me handle this…

Obama: Blue leader down…blue leader down…

Putin: Cameron, listen…are you listening…?

Cameron: …(burp)…yes…

Putin: I want you to keep shouting your big mouth off about how bad I am…yes…?

Cameron: …absley fine by me…shoo…siuuu…shoots me fine… (hiccup)

Merkel: What a knob-cheese…

Obama: Angela…! I’m surprised by you…! Did you really say that…?

Putin: Obama…my idiot friend…take a lesson from Angela, yes…?

Obama: Okay…but I’m not doing that thing with Kerry. That is demeaning…

Putin: Obama, I want you to put lots of American war films on American TV…understand…?

Obama: Don’t quite get it but…fine with me…

Cameron: …jushhh another norm…normal day in ‘merica…total bollocks….

Putin: Shut up.

Cameron: …shorry…mmm…

Merkel: I have to go now. I have my people to think of…

Putin: All of you. You tell me one thing. Like British actor, Ray Winstone…

Cameron: …shafuckin’ goo bloke…is Ray…fuckin’ lovely…good bloke….

Putin: All of you…tell me…Who is the daddy now…?

Obama: What…?

Merkel: Its a BritGrit prison film from 1979. Just say: “you are, Putin”.

Obama: Oh…well…right…you are, Putin…

Merkel: You are, Putin…

Cameron: whooozadaddy nowwww….eh…? Fuckin’ brillian’ line….I’ve taken too many pilshhh…

Putin: Cameron…

Cameron: Yeshhh…?

Putin: Stick fingers down your throat. Make you sick. You feel better soon.

Obama: Total lightweight…eh, Angela…? What a noob…

Merkel: Don’t pretend I am your friend…I have not forgotten NSA…

Putin: I am the daddy….I am the daddy now…!

(line disconnects)

Aside

Ukraine: Obama, Putin phone call – latest:

2 Mar

Ukraine: Obama, Putin phone call – latest:

Roadwax’s newly-promoted Deputy Assistant Head of International Affairs Elena Handcart  sent us this transcript of Barack Obama’s latest phone conversation with Vladimir Putin from her hiding place in the wine cellar at Chatham House, London:

BO: Putin…?

VP: Obama.

BO: What’s up…? You good…?

VP: You call me. This is because you have problem. I do not have problem.

BO: Yeah, yeah…look…you free to talk right now…?

VP: (sound of tiger cub in background)  Wait….ow – shit…Barack…you give me one moment…ow…fuck…!

BO: Sure, no problem…I can call back in five…wow…that scratch looks bad.

VP: You cannot see scratch. We found your camera. Don’t bullshit. Scratch is nothing…(sound of scuffle and gun firing, muffled yelp)…now…what is your problem…?

BO: Daily call. C’mon…you know we have to do this. You okay…?

VP: I look better than you. Michelle hit you again…? She is bad woman. You must control her.

BO: Nice try. Michelle is fine. She doesn’t hit me.

VP: You want I give you picture of Michelle hitting you? You should stand up…be a man…be like Russian man.

BO: You don’t…why do I always get sucked into this…? You don’t have picture of Michelle. C’mon…

VP: Now. I teach you more diplomacy, yes…? This is why you call me. For next lesson. Okay. I teach you.

BO: No. Look, be nice…you don’t need to keep on being like this. Be nice for a moment…

VP: Nice…nice…what is nice…? Always you say word…I teach you nice…

BO: Look…can you please stop putting your military into Ukraine…? It is not good. It is making things bad.

VP: Bad…? What is bad…? Russian military bring peace to Ukraine. Bad is war. Russia ends fighting there.

BO: No, Russia invades Ukraine and starts war. Bad. Ukraine wants peace and freedom.

VP: Yes, my stupid friend. Ukraine people lose fight against fascist terrorists and Russia comes to help them.

BO: Ukraine wants independence…jeezus, Vlad…we’ve gone over this so many times…jeezus…

VP: Russia military brings peace and arrests fascist terrorists who bring down Ukraine government.

BO: Ukraine government was corrupt. The people spoke. They brought it to an end.

VP: The people spoke…? You see news on TV…? You see all those fascist men…?

BO: Okay, okay…yes…there are many fascist men on news but…

VP: Many fascist men on news, yes…! And these men bring down Ukraine. You say that is good…?

BO: No…I just mean…

VP: Europe and world see the fascist men with their fascist banners and you still say Russia is bad…?

BO: No – I…no – Fascism is wrong…you and I both agree that…

VP: Oh. Barack Obama says Fascist men walking with guns in Kiev are heroes…you want that…?…on TV news?

BO: No…I…

VP: Too late…! Too late, my stupid friend…now Fascist men are being shown on TV all over world.

BO: Yes…I know…I’ve seen the TV. But they are not the true voice of the people…you know that.

VP: Of course I do…so I send in Russian military to protect Ukraine people from them.

BO: The Ukraine people want you to stop doing that.

VP: Yes, they do. Like Iraqi people wanted America out. Like Afghani people want you out.

BO: That was different. We were fighting against Islamic extremism…just like you!

VP: Oh…! My stupid friend agrees that America was fighting war against Islam…oh…!

BO: That is not what I said…

VP: I have it now…on tape…you say it.

BO: You know I was not saying that. I was saying against extremist Islamic violence.

VP: Just like Russia. Just like Russia fights extreme Fascism in Ukraine…yes…?

BO: Russia is acting aggressively…Russia is bringing in military and Ukraine is scared.

VP: Scared…scared…of course it is scared…! Military is to make people scared.

BO: Well, that is all I am saying…just turn the volume down a little…okay…?

VP: I send you something…

BO: What…?

VP: You…I send you something…you look at your inbox…

BO: Vladimir…just tone it down…please…that’s all I’m asking you…shit…!

VP: Hahaha…you see picture in inbox…you see Michelle picture…? Hahahaha…!

BO: Motherf…No way… you motherfu….that is photoshopped…no way…!…no way…!

VP: Hahaha…I teach you diplomacy now…you learn diplomacy now…yes…?

BO: That is disgusting…it is completely fake…Vlad, you are a disgrace…

VP: What…? What is so bad…? Is just woman hitting man…! Is not funny…?

BO: Woman hitting man…? No…Vlad…oh…that is not the picture I have been sent.

VP: Not Michelle…? Not Michelle hit you with shovel in vegetable garden…?

BO: definitely not…No Vlad…ugh…that is sick…so sick…

VP: Wait…! Barack, I check my outbox. Wait…wait…(sound of muffled swearing and slap)

BO: Putin, I’m signing off now. You are completely over the line, buddy…

VP: Oh…Barack…this is wrong photo you were sent…It is mistake…big mistake…

BO: Right…I guess Kremlin make big mistake…

VP: No really…it is from export convention in 2003. Bananas are not real and lady is photoshopped…

BO: You are one sick man, Vlad. I feel sorry for you…

VP: No, listen…you destroy photo, yes…? Is mistake. We are friends, yes…? You destroy photo…?

BO: What am I supposed to say to you…? Is this your diplomacy…? Is this how you are…?

VP: No…I am not like this. Is photoshopped. Listen…Barack…listen to me…!

BO: I’m not sure I want to now…Dave, you seen this…? Man…! Eww….!

VP: Barack…! Barack, my friend…! We fight Fascists! We fight Fascists together…!

BO: Um…what…? Dave, show this to Kerry. See what he thinks…

VP: Barack…! Barack…you and me…! We fight Fascists together yes…? We are friends, yes…?

BO: Call me tomorrow, Vlad…will you do that…?

VP: Sure…sure Barack…I’ll…. ( line disconnects)

Kevin Hart and the art of being British.

26 Feb

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A few hours ago, US actor and verbalist Kevin Hart sat down in a BBC television studio in London and ‘did’ an interview, plugging his new film.

In order to ‘do’ one of these promotional interviews, you have to have at least one ‘anchor’ person who ‘does’ the role of asking you the right questions – the ones that allow you to sell your film.

Ideally, two anchors – one male and one female – should ‘do’ the questioning. These ‘anchors’ should always dress like your parents. In fact, TV Anchors are the viewer’s metaphorical parents in an idealistic, slightly off-kilter version of reality on Planet Earth. They are unfeasibly polite, informed, interested and well groomed. Nothing like reality.

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On this occasion, a live breakfast slot in a foreign country and a perfect storm created Television Gold. Sochi Olympic Games…? You have nothing on what happens next. Within 45 seconds, Hart had started demolishing everything in site. Intellectually speaking.

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He completely took the piss out of everyone in the studio – including his management and financial backers.

He destroyed the place.

He killed them all.

He did it ‘live’ and everybody loved him for it.

Here, thanks to Aunty Beeb, is the original footage, still warm. It seems to only have two edit points, so this is pretty much live and without a pause. Please watch it now! I’ll wait here while you do.

Taking The Piss

It is so hard for the British to explain to the wonderful plethora of people living elsewhere in the world what we mean when we talk about ‘taking the piss’. Taking the Mickey, extracting the Michael. Some countries ‘get it’ more easily than others. North Koreans in particular have difficulty with it. Only 35% of North Americans get it. The French? 10% at most. Latvians – 98.3%. Local Police Officer who just pulled you over in your car? .025%. Don’t go there.

Kevin Hart is taking the piss. If you do not see it then it doesn’t matter. If you laugh at his jokes and think that he is funny then that is great. No problem!

But he is.

Hart is described as an actor and ‘comedian’. He has busted his chops on the standup circuit in his own country and he has not been handed a backstage pass to fame. Along the way, he has learned like all standup comedians that his world is actually the world of the Gladiator.

Ideally, this is a point that the audience is unaware of but every standup comedian contemplates only one thing in their quiet moments: Death.

Comedians speak of ‘dying’ on stage. They dream of ‘killing’ their audience. Only one can win.

Kevin Hart makes no secret of his inspiration. Step forward Cosby, Murphy, Chapelle and Rock. That is all fine.

But really – there is something much faster, sharper, sooner, quicker and nastier about Kevin Hart. He is very much a man of his own design and this BBC footage perfectly describes that. He can ‘riff’ and feed off the slightest input but he can do it so fast that, when you re-run the videotape, you still marvel at his sure-footed and lightning fast responses.

This is rapping, finally crossing over into standup. The intonation, the stanzas, the speed of delivery.

In a world where it is now safe to agree that HipHop has become truly multi-cultural and truly a World genre, is Kevin Hart the first ‘verbalist’ to break rap into standup, like a chef cracking an egg into a bowl to make an omelette?

Okay, let’s leave the food analogy to one side. Today, he killed. He became a killer. Count the number of words per minute. Count the separate ideas delivered. Count the punchlines. Measure the total time on air and look at the sheer speed!

Kevin Hart in a black tuxedo, driving a ’65 Aston Martin. Tick box if Insurance Indemnity purchased. Box ticked. Since nobody else is currently standing up to the line, Mr Hart will be happy to serve.

UK In Floods Of Tears

17 Feb

DSC00027 (2)

Frustration

Sadness

Loss

Despair

Release

Relief

That is the Official List of British Tears and the order in which they must be presented to the TV News crews.

Already, the national news here in WaterWorld is skewing slightly to highlight a traditional and typically British attitude: cynicism towards our own government and armed forces. Damp locals huddle in chilly pubs and draw diagrams of Kevin Costner’s boating equipment from memory. If you approach too close to them, they close ranks while one of them swallows the plans.

And in this next clip, Prince Charles is seen talking with a selection of pre-selected and security vetted locals. Prince Charles sticks it to Prime Minister David Cameron by openly voicing his doubts on the very matters where David has been pretending all is good.

So, Cameron responds by saying everything that can be done will be done…and that includes what he describes in pure political euphemism as “an end to the pause in dredging on the Somerset Levels”

An end to the pause in dredging? Do you now see why we Brits get cynical?

So, if I decide one day that I shall not to pay my taxes, when I am dragged in front of the judge months later, I can simply explain to him that I was pausing. I shall now ‘end the pause in my paying taxes’. I am sure the judge will understand.

Today, Cameron has announced that he is bringing the Army in to check the flood defences. They (the British Army) will achieve within five weeks what normally takes two years when left to the Environment Agency. They will work at 20.8 times the speed of an expert agency.

Why are we Brits so cynical?

Have you ever seen the British Army in action? They are remarkably effective at what they excel in which is essentially beating the crap out of non-UK passport holders. You don’t even have to come to them – they are quite happy to visit you in your own country. But the last time a Prime Minister was stupid enough to let them loose among British taxpayers was during the General Strike of 1926.

Briefly, in the 1980’s they were ordered to drive ambulances. It went badly. The Army only stopped when patients finally demanded to be driven to hospital instead by a local fourteen year old in a stolen Vauxhall Astra. Survival was more likely than being driven through busy London streets at high speed in a dark green and camouflaged ambulance by an enthusiastic eighteen year old from Manchester.

It was a PR disaster in 1926 and it was a hugely covered-up tragedy during the ambulance strike in the 1980’s. From then on, every British Prime Minister wrote in pen on the inside of their hand: “Don’t let Army near UK’s hard-working taxpayers. V. Important! Doesn’t work!”

Now Cameron is about to break this rule.

And we will now have thousands of well paid soldiers grabbing away the work from the specialist civilian workers in the Environment Agency who are paid much less and are facing redundancy anyway?

Oh, well done, Prime Minister!

And the Army, who are not in the least bit knowledgeable at a local level of Britains flood water defences will be working at 20.8 times the speed of these Environment Agency specialists who are being swept aside and made redundant?

Oh, well done, Prime Minister! What could possibly go wrong…?

The photo at the beginning of this article shows the author after having been coated from head to toe in raw faeces during a storm on a waste treatment site. I am shown smiling through my tears. (advanced students only).

Do you see that brown line around the tank on the right?

That is not caused by rust…

 

Trolling: Understanding what it is and also why it happens.

24 Sep

Introduction

The topic of ‘Trolling’ is being discussed in great detail on the internet and in the media these days.

Or is it…?

To celebrate yet another confused and inaccurate article being launched on the BBC’s internet site, Roadwax feels that the time is right to encourage proper debate on the topic. One should never encourage a troll but one needs to know what food they like to eat.

This post is a stripped-down “How-to” guide for those of us who do not have much time right now but need to understand more about trolling. It is intended to inform and also to encourage a clearer understanding of what ‘trolling’ actually is.

By necessity, this article also discusses internet bullying. However a separate Roadwax article deals with this topic in more detail.

If anyone wants to read the full, unabridged articles then please email loopwithers@live.co.uk and ask for a copy. Don’t all rush at once. Oh – there aren’t any pictures in this post. Trolls do not really go for pictures. It is all about words. Bring on the trolls.

The current situation: where we are right now

A quick search through the world’s top English-language internet news sites reveals that the word ‘trolling’ is being frequently used but never properly explained. A longer and more refined search will just make you want to weep. It soon becomes clear that the word is being thrown around without a clear understanding of its meaning. After more than thirty years of trolling on the internet across the world, we rarely find a definition of exactly what a ‘troll’ is.

Is ‘internet trolling’ actually being discussed and described or is it simply being mentioned, like a fashionable buzz-word…?

Now is a good time to clear up some frequent misunderstandings that are beginning to creep in to the current debate. If we do not agree a clear understanding of what trolling is then we cannot effectively deal with the topic.

A brief history of the troll

Trolling has been around for centuries. Every culture with a well-established language has always had trolls. Trolling particularly appears at times when there is war and conflict. Diplomatic statements and war-time propaganda messages are often good examples of simple trolling. Over the last couple of decades, ‘internet trolls’ have appeared. We owe them a debt of thanks. If the internet community had not labelled them as ‘Trolls’ for the first time, we would never have realised that they existed.

The differences between a troll and bully

Trolls are not necessarily bullies…but bullies can be trolls.

Think of it like this: A house can be a home but a home is not necessarily a house.

The current focus in the media is to describe trolls as bullies. This is a dangerously incorrect assumption because it masks what is really going on and…is quite possibly a form of trolling itself!

It is very important that we separate out ‘trolling behaviour’ from ‘bullying behaviour’ to understand what is going on when we look at our screens.

Here is a short list explaining why we should make a distinction:

1) Bullies get given elevated status in society if described as trolls – a label which they do not deserve.

2) Bullying is a form of psychological or physical pressure used to unreasonably coerce people. Trolling isn’t.

3) Trolls and bullies both cause disruption but in different ways. They operate similarly but differently.

4) Trolls wreak destruction and disorder but bullying causes distress and depression.

5) Knowing the difference can keep us protected both on and offline and it can even save lives.

How to spot an online bully:

Online bullying can only take place on websites that allow people to ‘comment’ – write and upload statements that other people can read. Think hard on this point. Notice how many websites do not allow the posting of comments or else ‘suspend’ the writing of comments for a while. Often this denial of the ‘comment’ facility is being carried out to stop bullying or trolling being possible.

So, online bullying takes place most often in ‘forums’ – where a topic can be discussed openly by anyone who want s to have their say. YouTube videos, News Website articles, Enthusiast Forums, Bebo, Askfm…the list of places who offer forums or the opportunity to comment is almost endless. This is where trolling and bullying takes place.

An online bully will always make a personal attack or a particular threat to writers in the forum. Always.

Here is an imaginary ‘thread’ on an imaginary forum:

Bob123:          ‘I think this video is great. I love cats! Cats are so cool!’

Fishman:        ‘Check out 1’24” when the cat goes nuts! LOL!!!’

ZZZmonkey:   ‘You think video footage is real? You are so stupid.’

Bob123:           ‘F**k you, a**hole, you are just a sad piece of sh*t. Go play with yourself.’

ZZZMonkey:   ‘Video is not real! If you think cat actually jump then you are nuts.’

Fishman:         ‘In English please? Are you another crazy Russian who eats cats?’

Bob123:           ‘You f***ing piece of commie sh*t. F**k you.’

ZZZMonkey:   ‘Video is fake. I am not commie. You know nothing.’

There is only one bully in this example. It is Bob123. ZZZMonkey is holding a different opinion about the video and tries to persuade others that they are watching fake footage and believing it is real. ZZZMonkey is straightforward and also rude but he doesn’t bully. Bob123 immediately responds by attacking him personally and then Fishman adds what is possibly a racist slant in his reply which has nothing to do with the points being made by either side.

Now, read the thread again and imagine that:

Bob123 is aged 11 years, female, goes to school.

Fishman is aged 33 years, male, works in telesales.

ZZZMonkey is aged 42 years, transgender, CCTV operator.

Notice how the internet removes so much information that can help us make sense of what appears to be a pointless conflict situation. Bullying often seems more horrifying precisely because it often appears to be so personally vindictive yet it is conducted by apparent strangers.

Bullying is often carried out by people who are struggling to understand what is going on around them. They feel insecure and threatened and so they lash out. They will continue to do this until they are forced to stop. It becomes an exciting new power and the thrill of hurting people is – as adults eventually learn – addictive. If bullying is allowed to go on, then that is exactly what it does. It goes on, and on…and on.

How to spot an online troll:

Trolling is the opposite of bullying. It is often carried out by people who are confident and assured about the world they see. They feel excited by the chances to mess around with the comfort level of less confident or less well informed online guests. They get their fun from wrecking, derailing, destroying and challenging the view of others. They don’t get their thrill from attacking people but instead from manipulating what people think.

Trolls love the power they get from controlling proceedings, dictating what the debate is actually about. Trolls might also bully but then – if they do, they have failed as trolls and should be desribed as bullies. Trolling has nothing to do with bullying.

Trolling is all about power and manipulation. Bullying is all about hatred and aggression.

Let’s run the same scenario again. Remember – we know nothing about the three people who are commenting.

WigWax: ‘I think this video is great. I love cats! Cats are sooo coooool!’

108566M: ‘check out 1′ 24″ when the cat goes nuts! LOL!!!’

Nobby:  ‘My dog could eat that cat. Dogs rule. sorry but thats the way it is.’

108566M ‘Dogs spread disease and suck up to their owners. You sad moron.’

Nobby: ‘Grow up. Cats spread more disease than dogs. Fact. Is a cat gonna save you in a robbery?’

WigWax: ‘Great. A drug dealer wants to lecture me about how great his dog is. Sad.’

Nobby: ‘Maybe I sell your mother all the crack she takes just to put up with you. What’s wrong with that?’

WigWax: ‘Why don’t you get a real job and stop wrecking people’s lives? You scum.’

108566M: ‘I feel sorry for you. You will rot in Hell. God will punish you.’

Nobby: ‘My dog just ate your God. And your cat.’

Nobby is an internet troll. Nobby just derailed this thread and turned the conversation from the love of cats to the morality of drug-taking and religious concepts. Nobby did this without using threats or bullying. Nobby relied on WigWax and 108566M to respond with anger and abuse and Nobby is now firmly in control of this thread. You can use your own imagination to work out how much fun Nobby has over the next few hours…

Notice also – and this is so important – how this thread would simply stop if nobody responds to Nobby’s last comment. The troll cannot continue to dominate unless others allow that to happen by posting replies. The troll can only

a) have the last word in the thread

b) kill the thread by killing off the orginal discussion

c) encourage a Moderator to delete the thread because it is now wrecked

If someone now posts:

Girlfriday: “Nice trolling. Anyway – back to the thread. Cats ARE cool…!”

…then there is still a good chance that Nobby will dive back in and continue. Remember – Trolling is about control and manipulation. Do not feed the trolls.

Trolling on world News Sites:

All news sites – ABC, NBC, BBC, Reuters…every news site in the world – are trolled every day. The trolling takes place in the section of the site where people can leave their comments. Some trolling is done for the sheer twisted fun of it but some trolling is done for a darker reason – to stifle proper debate and to crush dissent.

I could put a link in here to a real-life example that is happening now. Unfortunately, by the time you click on it, the debate will either have moved on or else the comments will have been removed.

Instead, I encourage you to click on your favourite national news site and find a breaking news item which also has a comments thread – and watch it evolve. See if you can spot the point at which an internet troll begins to change the topic under discussion.

Is it a story about a car crash that suddenly changes to a discussion on banning older drivers? Is it a news item on a new hospital brain scanning procedure and the comment thread changes into an argument about abortion?

Hopefully, (to prove my point here) as soon as you see this happening, a Moderator for the site will ‘close’ the comments so that no more posts are allowed.

The comments thread will disappear from view if you revisit the site.

The troll will have successfully stopped open debate and discussion.

The troll will have won.

Trolling on ‘SIF – Sites’ (single interest fanatics) – and YouTube

YouTube provides a fascinating and vibrant introduction for anyone who wishes to study trolling, bullying or any aspect of mass culture. If you watch YouTube, you will see examples of trolling easily and quickly. They are identical to those you may find on the thousands of sif-sites around the world.

YouTube is the most influential and powerful internet media site in the world of 2013. Facebook simply pales into insignificance by comparison, even if one takes their already mathematically corrupted viewing and membership figures…and doubles them.

YouTube allows anyone to upload any piece of film and audio footage for the world to see. It is a place where all you have to do is type in any ‘search’ word and you will find a list of uploaded film relating to that topic. It is hugely influential, whereas other sites are not.

Precisely because of its universal accessibility and worldwide reach, it becomes far more valuable than any single news channel. Notice how, when a new story breaks on a world news channel, one can frequently discover related footage existed a few hours sooner on YouTube.

YouTube allows users to ‘comment’ on footage uploaded by other users.

Think of a popular topic that interests you personally. Go onto YouTube and search for films and videos on that topic. Read the YouTube ‘comments’ and you will see trolling and bullying laid bare. You may also find supreme examples of ‘Moderating’ – where potential trolls and bullies are put in their place by third parties – other visitors to the site.

However – for the sake of clarity – remember that YouTube’s own Moderators use a firm but light touch. YouTube – like Twitter – is a citadel of free speech and expression and therefore it aims to censor as little as possible. YouTube singlehandedly defines the complex struggles involved in maintaining a world concept of ‘free speech’ by simply allowing it.

To many new viewers, this is quite a shocking and revelatory experience. YouTube allows us to see, experience and come face to face with the often shocking world of free speech. Free speech can easily be controlled by bullies and trolls and those who are spectacularly ignorant.

It should be borne in mind that a vast proportion of the most extreme comments on sif-sites and YouTube as well are left by children aged 12 – 18 years. Whether this consideration makes you feel better or worse probably depends a lot upon how you value the power of education.

Trolling as a means of stifling dissent.

As we see in the example of News websites, a troll can stop debate taking place by encouraging the Moderator to close the thread down because it has got out of hand. It has collapsed into a vicious fight between overheated commentators who are now verbally abusing each other.

Most news sites used to try to keep trolls out and keep any debate going but this proved to be a thankless and exhausting task. Now, newsgroups simply ‘pull’ the thread. It is safer and cheaper. Discussion forums – where enthusiasts go to talk with each other – still allow trolls. They cannot really close the forum just because a troll has moved in. Instead, they warn them against trolling – either by an online message for all to see – or privately and more discretely.

A wise troll will move on once their actions are identified. There used to be a saying: “Please do not feed the trolls”. Some web forums still use it but, in truth, that request is usually lost on the very people who should heed it. Trolls have plenty to feed on.

Professional Trolling

But suppose that the troll is employed by a political party? Suppose the news item on the news site or the article in a discussion forum is about a piece of legislation being proposed by The Gorilla Party (hey – I’m just making up a name to keep things simple) and The Ostrich Party doesn’t want that piece of news to give attention to their competitor?

Suppose the Gorilla Party announces support for “free day-care for all children of working single mothers. Vote for the Gorillas and get free day care!”

The Ostrich Party are pretty sure that this legislation will never get passed because it is too expensive. They have worked out the costing figures and they are certain that the Gorilla Party have too. But they are annoyed because the Gorilla Party is bringing to people’s attention the fact that the Ostrich Party do not have their own solution on offer. It makes them look un-caring by comparison.

Do you really believe that the Ostrich Party will keep clear of the ‘comments’ section on that news item? Of course not! They will get a troll in there as soon as possible, to wreck the debate and hopefully get the comments page closed down as quickly as possible.

Stifle debate.

Unintentional trolls

Especially when it comes to news sites, people sometimes become trolls without realising it. They add comments without understanding that they have derailed the discussion.

If a news item is about an accidental house fire where a baby has tragically died, the comments may be mostly from people who wish to express their sadness and support. This is normal and well meant. It goes on all the time. Feelings are intense and people want to express their grief or sympathy.

Now is a bad time for someone to point out the fact that the parents were recent immigrants to the country and they had trouble calling the emergency services because they could not speak the same language.

This comment might have actually been intended as a helpful explanation. It might be a very significant factor that needs to be addressed by the local fire department.

The comment has the opposite effect on the thread. It appears sudden and insensitive and detracts from the emotional integrity of the other comments. The comment thread collapses into accusations of racism, xenophobia, bitter personal abuse and the moderator has to close it down since meaningful debate is now long gone and no postive advantages exist to keeping it open.

This imaginary example shows us how trolls can sometimes be innocent commentators who merely make a badly-timed or poorly-judged observation but meant no actual harm. It illustrates how we can all unintentionally appear as trolls if we mis-judge the mood on a forum or a comment thread.

We might be intending to make a postive or constructive comment – to encourage the debate to broaden out and not simply dwell on the tragedy but instead the cause – but we get it wrong. Suddenly, we have appeared as a troll in the eyes of our peers.

Part-time Trolling

Anyone can be a part-time troll. If we understand anything about trolling then we realise the power that trolling can give us. If we take the power of the troll and turn it to good use, is that not a good thing?

So, suppose you saw a bully attacking someone on a website. Would you ‘troll’ them as a way of stopping them carrying on? Would you try and draw them off their poor target by a display of intelligent trolling without becoming a bully yourself? I reckon that you might. A lot of people do.

Maybe, you would never dream of trolling but then you accidentally stumble across a comment thread where one writer is abusing another simply because of their ethnic background and not for their views. Would you do something to stop it? Of course, the choice always rests with you.

Although trolling is almost always carried out to stifle or subvert debate, it can be seen how trolling can sometimes be used as a weapon against hatred or bullying.

Basic Trolling

At its most basic, trolling is just a means of subverting or suppressing debate. Basic trolling is seen when an internet  discussion suddenly gets ‘hit’ by someone who types: “Buy viagra. Meet beautiful girls and get love pills for free when you click on this address: www.khfskfh.com Best tablets guaranteed.”

They upload this message five or six times in a row on the thread. Let’s be honest, they have probably killed any conversation stone dead. Still want to discuss how mortgage interest relief can be used as a social tool? Nah…nor me.

Sophisticated Trolling

Some trolling is outstandingly sophisticated. It is carried out to undermine or discredit people who are – in the eyes of the troller – deserving to be trolled. People who make overtly political statements, politicians of all levels, are frequently trolled by their adversaries. After all, politics is a dirty game. Trolls silently read the comments left by a particular person over months or even years until they find the right moment. Note – the troll never breaks cover by joining the debate. They just sit and wait and bide their time.

Then, when their ‘target’ – frequently a politician, media professional or social advocate – appears to be gaining fame and popular support, the trolling starts.

‘Great speech. Funny how you support free childcare now but stood against it last year. click this link to your earlier comments: www.abvkdzz.com

Off we go. The trolling has started. The debate is being diverted away from the wishes of the speech-maker.

Governments and politically-charged departments are the most sophisiticated trollers of all. Who can forget the British Government’s encouragement of the belief among the world’s people that Adolf Hitler only possessed one out of a possible maximum of two testicles?

Serious questions raised in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 quickly focussed on asking how the terrible catastrophe had happened in the first place. Go look at the threads now. 99.9% of the arguments are buried under tons of trolled nonsense. The aeroplanes were holograms and the whole thing never happened. It was the Illumnati. It was little green men.

It is now almost impossible for anyone find out how the events on 9/11 actually managed to happen. Sophisticated Trolling at its finest.

Conclusion:

Trolling is an integral part of modern internet communication. it is the art of subverting or suppressing debate. But there is a great reluctance within the world’s government and media to discuss in detail what it is and how it works.

Now, isn’t that strange?

Here’s a picture of a kitten:

"He told you there would be no pictures. He lied to you. And I'm not a kitten.."

“He told you there would be no pictures. He lied to you. And I’m not a kitten..”

Obama avoids admission: George W Bush Library “will contain books”

26 Apr
024Bugeee

At what point in my life am I allowed to just sleep or catch up on Medal of Honor?

US sources have leaked covert film  confirming that President Obama has the ability to survive the worst social gathering in the history of Time and yet still smile and laugh when it is over.

The opening of the ‘George W. Bush Library’ required that he had to be present to make a speech. President Obama was not in a position to decline the invitation.

Despite the oxymoron, it was not possible for Obama to excuse himself from this date with destiny simply because he had to wait at home for the plumber or else be with a friend who was in hospital.

The library has been confirmed as “a building containing books”. How these books came into the possession of George W Bush is unknown. Bush is not famous for his love of non-fiction.

The ceremonial opening was attended yesterday by all the surviving presidents of the United States.

The library was surrounded by the most advanced security available so that its inauguration would meet without problem.

At this time, it is not clear whether the books within the library contain verifiable facts or simply random sentences of worthless information, designed to coerce ordinary citizens into becoming abusive nationalists, convinced that they are being threatened by foreign powers.

In the heavily edited video clip, President Obama is the one who looks like he wants to be somewhere else.

Ex-president Clinton is the one who looks like he wants to go with him.

George W Bush is the one who notices the camera.

Hilary Clinton is the one who just laughs and laughs…and laughs.

Margaret Thatcher. No flowers, please.

17 Apr

In a few hours time, Margaret Thatcher will exist only in the history books. To help ensure that she is indexed correctly, I am proud to hand over Roadwax to acclaimed author, newspaper columnist and feature writer  C J Stone

The Empire of Things:

In Memory of Margaret Thatcher

Seventeenth Century English protest rhyme

It was Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society. “There are individual men and women, and there are families… It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then… to look after our neighbour,” she said. “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

She said this in an interview with Women’s Own magazine published in October 1987. Six years before that, in 1981, riots had ripped through Britain’s inner cities. There were riots in Brixton in London, in Toxteth in Liverpool, in Handsworth in Birmingham and Chapeltown in Leeds. There were further riots throughout the 80s, including Broadwater Farm in 1985, and Peckham that same year.

On coming to power in 1979, on the steps of Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher had quoted from St Francis of Assisi: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

Never have a set of words proved to be less appropriate, or more vain, or less honest, or more ignorant of the truth.

The central idea behind Thatcherite policy was an economic theory known as  Monetarism. The aim of Monetarism was to break the post war consensus which had given working people unprecedented wealth – a welfare state, a national health service, free education, participatory democracy – and to redistribute that wealth to where its proponents believed it should go: back to the very rich. It did this by deregulating the banks, by breaking the trade unions, by selling off public assets, and by a form of social engineering in which traditional Labour voters were lured into property ownership by selling their council houses to them at drastically reduced rates, and in this way, getting them into debt. Debt became the driving force of the new economy.

Within one year of this we had the first riot: in St Pauls in Bristol.

The Enemy Within

In 1984 Thatcher took on and defeated the Miners. She called the Miners “The Enemy Within”. They were the bastion of working class solidarity in the United Kingdom, fiercely socialist in their outlook. This came directly from their work. Mining is a dangerous job. People who work underground have to watch each other’s backs. This creates a form of solidarity which they then bring back to the surface with them, into the over ground world.*

It is out of adversity that socialism arises. It is out of love. Solidarity is another word for love.

The National Union of Mineworkerswas an organisation of love. You listen to any old Miner talking about their union, and you will hear it. You will hear it in the tone of their voice and in the words they use. It was their organisation, forged out of their solidarity, out of the bonds created in the terrible conditions they encountered in their work, out of their history of struggle, out of loyalty to their class and their fierce independence. The NUM actively stood against the kind of world that Thatcher was promoting. It had to be destroyed.

We had love, and they had greed, and greed won. The defeat of the Miners lead directly to the kind of world we live in now.

There was an irony here. Thatcher appealed to a form of cod patriotism. She promoted patriotic values, waving her rhetorical flag for the assembled audience. And yet she helped destroy this most British of institutions, the National Union of Mineworkers, and to undermine trade unionism as a whole – a British invention – while encouraging an invasion of international corporations in the service industry, such as McDonalds, in which trade unionism was actively banned.

Waving the patriotic flag while inviting a foreign invasion. There’s a word we normally use for this. Under other circumstances we would call it “treason”.

McWages

If the young are not initiated into the village,
they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.

African proverb.

Roll on 30 years, to a new Tory government, to a new Monetarism, to a new austerity, a new Thatcherism.

And don’t be in any doubt that this is exactly what it is. When George Osborne told MPs that his deficit-cutting plan had made Britain a “safe haven in the global debt storm”, what he meant was that the financial institutions, to which he is obligated, have approved of his policies. They don’t have to loot the British economy, because Osborne is already handing the loot to them.

It’s a form of protection racket. The world has already seen what a financial mugging looks like. They’ve already broken the backs of governments in Ireland and Portugal and Greece. Give us your wealth, they say, or this is the fate that lies in store for you too. Give us your public property. Privatise, privatise, privatise, and no institution – not even the Health Service – is sacred.

That is what deficit reduction means. It means privatisation: not by the back door, but by the front door. Financial looting. It means taking British capital, currently held by the British state, and handing it over to financial institutions at a reduced rate. “Waving the patriotic flag while inviting a foreign invasion” again.

We are in the midst of an age of unprecedented structural change in our world, a return to feudalism. Feudalism arose out of the collapse of the Roman Empire. It involved a robber class living off the back of a servant class, using rent as its means. The new Feudal Lords use financial rent – indebtedness – in the same way. What we are watching is the collapse of the New Roman Empire into a new Dark Age of institutionalised plunder, a takeover by the banks.

The austerity measures are already being implemented, and it is the young who are being targeted. So tuition fees are going up to £9,000 a year, while theEducation Maintenance Allowance for 16-19 year old has been scrapped. Inflation is rampant, while real wages are declining. There is no future for the young. No jobs, no education, no skills, no apprenticeships. These were mostly scrapped by Thatcher 30 years ago. A nation built on skill has been reduced to a service economy, to McJobs and McWages in a McSociety.

You can call it “muck” if you like.

As Above So Below

“When your most elite, most powerful members of society adopt a strategy of plundering…. they will develop a morality that doesn’t simply permit plundering, but valorises it. When that happens the moral structures of a society will inevitably deteriorate. In the upper classes that leads to polite looting. In the underclass it leads to street looting.”

Bill Black on the Keiser Report, 16/08/2008

The illusion that’s been created is that we are separate beings. We are not. We are social beings. Margaret Thatcher was entirely wrong when she said there was no such thing as society. Society is the very essence of who we are. We are tied together by bonds of language, by bonds of morality, by bonds of loyalty, by bonds of family, by bonds of society, by bonds of love. You break those bonds and the social world begins to fall apart.

Society is the individual writ large. The individual is society in microcosm. As above, so below. The unconscious is not underneath us, it is around us. It is not inside of us, it is outside of us. The unconscious is that part of ourselves that lies in other people. It is in the obligations we owe to the people around us, in our human interactions, only barely recognised, as we negotiate our way around our social world.

In the individual personality, rampant, out-of-control egotism is a form of mental illness. Commonly called psychopathy, it is a mental state in which the individual only concerns himself with his own gratification. So if a psychopath gets pleasure from murder, then he will murder, free from conscience, because personal gratification is his only concern. Not every psychopath is a murderer, though. There are psychopaths all around us, and everyone is capable of psychopathic behaviour. Everyone who seeks personal gratification at the expense of his fellow creatures is a psychopath to some degree.

In the social sphere, the financial sector is a kind of collective psychopath, destroying the health of the economy for its private gratification. We honour the psychopath in our current world. It is the world of private gratification through private power. We give power to the psychopath, while denuding and deriding thecommon good that arises from our common world.

All private wealth is won at the expense of the commons. What we are witnessing right now are the new enclosure acts, the new clearances. We are beings born of the commons and not only our economic, but also our mental and emotional health, is measured by how much we bring to the common good.

Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a sixgun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.”

Pretty Boy Floyd by Woody Guthrie.

Democracy

“If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.” Gandhi.

I saw a BBC reporter interviewing a community activist in one of the riot areas. The activist compared what was happening to the Arab Spring. “But this is a democracy,” the reporter said, in a slightly defensive tone.

Is it though?

There are four pillars to a functioning democracy. We need an effective police force, a free press, rational political institutions and an efficient financial system. All of them must be regulated and free from corruption. What we have instead is a corrupt police force in hock to a corrupt press, with corrupt politicians serving the interests of a corrupt financial elite. Corruption from top to bottom. Corruption in every avenue of our public life. Top policemen taking bribes, politicians on the make, an intrusive and bullying press, distracting us with trivia and gossip, while covering up its own illegal practices, and a City of London which is entirely out of regulatory control, and which is plundering the nation’s resources for its own private gain.

And you wonder why the young riot? The kids are looting the shops. The banks are looting the nation.

Then we have the Labour Party – the Party created by the working class in the early part of the last century to institute socialist policies through democratic means – being seduced by high finance, and taking part in the financial rape of this country. Tony Blair amassing a personal fortune by taking us to war. Gordon Brown bailing out the banks and indebting the nation, borrowing money from the banks to give to the banks, imposing dangerous levels of debt on future generations. Peter Mandelson declaring: “We are all Thatcherites now.” What hope for us when even our own party stands against us?

The Empire of Things

“These people are living in a financial prison, and this is a prison riot.”

Max Keiser on the Keiser Report, 16/08/2008

We’ve had over 30 years of rampant individualism, of consumerism, of me-ism and the devil take the hindmost; 30 years of mortgaging our future to pay for our present consumption; 30 years of selling off our birthright for a mess of consumerist pottage; 30 years of corruption and greed, of the worship of Things. It is an Empire of Things. So we have our technology and our consumer durables, our computers and our mobile phones, our technical baubles. Well some of us have. Many of us don’t have these Things. The young in particular, don’t have these Things. The young from the sink estates, the second and third generation underclass.

So we’ve set these Things up in place of our values. We’ve substituted them for the social ties that used to bind us together, and we’ve told the young who can’t afford these Things, that they are the only measure of value, that you don’t count unless you can flaunt these Things in the faces of your peers. That only Things count. And then society starts to break down under the pressure of the new Feudal arrangements, in which we are becoming economic vassals paying homage to debt, and the kids take to the streets in a blind fury of acquisitive excitement. And what do they do? They steal. They loot. They plunder. They obey the rules laid down on them by the Empire of Things. They collect the very Things we told them to, declaring fealty to the Things that are our Lords in the new fiefdom of debt.

They do what we tell them to do and then we punish them for it.

The bankers have plundered the economy, and they have been rewarded. The politicians have plundered their expenses, and they still sit in Parliament. The Murdoch Press has corrupted our values, and yet they are still allowed to own newspapers. The police have taken bribes, and yet they talk brazenly of the criminality of the streets.

Young people are put in gaol for the theft of a bottle of water, while bankers are given bonuses for the plunder of nations. People are losing their homes because their children are suspected of rioting, while politicians, who claimed for multiple homes on their expenses, are allowed to bleat on about rioters and looters from their privileged position in the House of Commons.

It’s at this point that I would like to agree with Margaret Thatcher. As she said: “People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

To whom do we owe the obligation? To society, of course.

*Anyone who doubts this should consider the Chilean Miners. During their first 17 days underground – before they were contacted, when they were nearly starving, and fearful that the probes might not find them – they had instituted a form of democracy, a form of socialism, which many of them say saved them from a descent into barbarity.

This article originally appeared on C J Stone’s website and is reproduced here with his permission.

If all our news were truthful, questions would be illegal…wouldn’t they?

9 Apr

I have started an argument with an online news editor.

I could have done a thousand other things but the voice inside my head said: “Go for it! Speak up NOW!”

This is the same voice that once advised me to accuse a policeman of lying on oath while I was standing in the dock and had already managed to annoy the judge.

This voice also advised me to confront two street robbers who held very long knives and were in the process of throwing a mini cab driver onto a railway line.

This voice gets me into trouble but it also saves my soul. It allows me to confront and to question when the easy way out is to ignore or withdraw.

The online news editor – we shall call him by his acronym ‘ONE’ , is a reasonable, educated and good – natured soul. I know this for a fact because of ONE’s replies so far.

ONE has enough to do already without needing to waste time engaged in spurious debates with strangers. ONE’s replies to my criticism have been in the form of questions. ONE moves the debate between us onward with intelligence and good humour and I try to respond in the same way.

I hope I succeed because if I do not, I know that ONE will spot the crack in my armour and a spear will dispatch me in an instant. I am certain that I would do the same if I get the chance.

Now, I am going to reveal what I am arguing with ONE about. Perhaps, you will suddenly see me in a different way.

We are arguing over the use of the question mark.

*?*

For a  journalist, the question mark is sacred. It drives their world, their identity and their reason for turning up for work each day. They ask questions.

For a reader, the question mark is an outrage. A reader seeks answers. We only read because we already have a question mark in our head. We are trying to remove the damned thing.

ONE writes headlines with a question mark at the end.

I don’t like this. I tell ONE that it is not the job of a journalist. Journalists should not write headlines that end in a question mark.

ONE replies to me:

“Why??????”

I instantly adore ONE’s answer and I want to frame it. Behind a sheet of slate.

“Because I believe that the essence of reportage is to provide answers, not debate uncertainty”

ONE replies to me:

“Agreed, reports should probably explain rather than pose questions, but surely Twitter is not reportage?????????”

I chew over my relationship with Twitter before suggesting to him:

“It evolves as we use it, changing from look-at-me platform to echo-platform to breaking-newsroom. Hot news at its best, period.”

ONE has better things to do and goes off and does them.

I use the time to write this post on my WordPress blog and clarify my battle plans. Have I won my point? I doubt it.

ONE has asked the Big Question.

Is Twitter reportage?

The word reportage is defined as the means of reporting news.

ONE is making an important point here.

ONE is suggesting that Twitter does not itself report news but is instead, something other. Twitter is a ‘platform’, a soap-box on which we can all stand and shout.

ONE is suggesting that Twitter is the means by which we link to news. It is not the news report itself.

ONE is pointing out that by capturing our attention with a question mark, we will follow the link to the report and read the story. ONE is selling the story on Twitter and not reporting it.

Now, this is a wonderful day for me and ONE to be slugging this argument out. Why? Because yesterday morning, Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke. Thatcher was once a famous and powerful British Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher’s death is just a simple and natural occurrence. We get old and we die. It happens to us all.

But Thatcher’s death has unleashed a huge news battle across the internet and the lives of those in Britain. Some welcome her death and others mourn it.

Those that welcome her death do so because the secrets that she hid from the world when she was a powerful leader are now one step closer to being released for the press to report. Many of these secret documents can only be released after her death.

Those that mourn her death are the ones who broadly benefit from those secrets staying locked away.

The most powerful interests are held by the press who wish to maintain her image as a force for good.

The weakest footing is held by those who cannot argue their case until all the documents she hid away are revealed to the world and become common knowledge for the first time.

You see, Thatcher used her power to suppress facts from being reported that might harm her power to rule or cause unrest among the already angry sections of  Britain’s population.

Those among us who personally witnessed the gross censorship and distortion of news under her rule are powerless to speak out because our evidence is locked away in dusty vaults.

We purse our lips as her powerful friends weep Hollywood tears at her passing so that they gain a better seat at her funeral wake.

We wait until we can question what actually went on in secret and get an answer. We cannot do this yet because the facts are still withheld from the journalists who will reveal them. Some files are locked away for seventy years.

One day they will come out. One day, the news will be more truthful than it is today.

ONE is right.

Twitter is just a railway station where trains carrying truth arrive and depart. We get on them if we choose and we are transported to where we want to be. ONE is just a guard with a flag, shouting the destinations and helping people get on board. You want to go here? Get on this carriage. You want to go there? Next train.

But Twitter has one unique element.

It is not owned by the wealthy and influential news groups who have an interest in pitching a certain version of the truth.

Twitter is the place where truth, lies and fantasy are all available and we are allowed to choose. Where the process of news starts and where it is advertised once it is ready for us to read it.

In between us and our news is a man or a woman who has to ask questions on our behalf.

And ONE has to occasionally ask us questions to make sure that we are listening.

And a truth unspoken is a lie that sleeps.

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