Saturday, 19 December 2009

Privacy - Where did it go?

I don't know.

It seems to me that the ubiquitousness of the mobile phone with it's inclusive camera, the general concept of fame being a good thing and the acceptance of celebrity with it's intrusiveness being an acceptable price to pay, papparazzi be damned, seems to me to have altered forever the idea that you can have a private life.

The degree that you are entitled to live your life without intrusion seems a concept that has passed us by.

Charles Kennedy, for example, was accused of drinking too much. How did his drinking equate with Churchills? To what extent was Gladstones somewhat strange interest in Ladies of the Night likely to have passed our present yellow press by?

I am, obviously, interested when the rich and famous come out of their shell and do stuff that I think of as counter productive. In an earlier post here, I think there is reason to suspect that senior figures, close to royalty, had different ideas about how to conclude WW2. It strikes me as ludicrous that that should be cloaked in secrecy, whereas wearing a Chelsea top whilst having sex should be the talk of the Steamie.

Just saying. 

The case against Peter Watts

It seems to me that I could be Peter Watts.

If I was held up at a border for no apparent reason, especially an allegedly friendly border like the one between the US and Canada, Canada for fucks sake, I'd have expected a degree of respect, rather than a load of thugs hassling me.

(I accept that I will never enter the US of A for this.)

But that is not how it works anymore. The US border guards are out of control lunatics, pepped up on spurious authority. A power conceeded to them by idiotic Americans that have rarely crossed a State Border rather than an international border.

It bares on the absurd that stepping out of a car, or questioning a border guard, counts, for many Americans as a causus belli, as if they were characters in a Judge Dredd story rather than genuine human beings. It is a degree of submission to authority that contradicts everything we have learned from The Dukes of Hazzard.

American cops appear to represent a new attitude for the American public. They have become submissive fools. We are frankly, all, the worse for it....

For it would be stupid to assume that that foolishness will not cross the Atlantic.

Go Lassie Go

This is probably the most reasonable Scottish orientated site on the Internet:

Obviously, whilst she is obviously right, I disagree!

Great comments though.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Re the Dr Peter Watts that I mentioned in my previous post.

Letting the  the

take up the story:

For author Peter Watts, life can be stranger than science fiction.

Watts – who has written six books in the genre – was on his way back to Toronto Tuesday after helping a friend move to the U.S. Before he crossed the border into Sarnia, American customs officers pulled him over.

When they began rifling through his car, he got out to ask what was going on. They ordered him back into the car; he asked again.

What happened next has become the talk of the blogosphere.

Watts, too, has waded in, posting on the Internet that he was assaulted, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed and thrown in jail for the night, only to find himself facing charges of assaulting a customs officer.

Port Huron police told the local newspaper Watts was angry when he got out of the car and when he refused to get back in, customs officers tried to cuff him and he was "aggressive." In the melee, police said, Watts "choked" an officer.

Ronald Smith, chief customs and border protection officer at Blue Water Bridge, told the Star Watts "became non-compliant ... and a physical altercation" ensued.

"As a result of that, he was detained and turned over to local authorities," said Smith.

Watts denies any wrongdoing.

"I can state categorically that I did not choke anybody. I did not use profanity and did not raise my voice. I did not initiate any physical contact," said Watts, who has a PhD in zoology. "All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on."

This seems odd behaviour for a Marine Biologist.

The Huffington Post also has the story.

I have heard bad things about border security in the US before and the comments seem to suggest that this is nothing unusual. However it is two civillians against law enforcement and unless there is video, he'll be very lucky to get off with this.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Satire with your coffee

My best chum Amazon always has 'recommendations' for me. So it thought, this is just the ticket for oor Dougie:

Blindsight - Peter Watts.

I must admit I had never heard of young Peter, but on checking him out, I came across this, which is pretty damn funny:

You need to press the 'Click to Start' in the pseudo PowerPoint screen. It is a slow burn to complete insanity.

I am about to order the book.

Do you think I should send Amazon a Winterval Card?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Liam Clancy RIP

I was searching for the best version I could find of the anti war song 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. And I found it this morning. Yesterday the man that sang it best died.

This is the man of whom Bob Dylan said:

“I never heard a singer as good as him ever. He was just the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life, still is probably.”

So, my search reached an end. This is it:

Farewell, I hardly knew you.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wide Angle or Close Focus - the Manipulation of Perception.

This is the third, and last part of my ideas about far right and far left propognda. I trust that both newspapers would see my use of these two photographs as 'fair use', on the grounds that I am using them for different reasons from those that were originally intended, and that without comparing and contrasting them there is no other way to make the arguement. Both are newspaper photographs from the Herald and the Scotsman respectively. They both show the Scottish Defence League demonstration in Glasgow on the 14th of November 2009.

The first photograph has one main message to send I think.

It is that the SDL demonstration was small and under control. (It has to be admitted that there is a sub text of kettling, but there is also a sub-text of getting soaked.)

The latter photograph looks more dynamic and balanced. The thin blue line against the mob. At least until you spot the two dots of flourescent yellow at the top of the picture which constitutes the other side of the Police encirclement. But a casual glance wouldn't do that for you, would it?

Both of these are photographs of record, neither is linked in any realistic way to a political movement. But they do illustrate my point, if you want the dramatic go in close or close crop, if you want the magisterial, wide angle is better. Professional photographers like drama. This rather plays into the hands of any small political movement, unfortunately.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Obsession - and its' not a perfume

I have lately come across  a book called 'Double Standards - The Rudolf Hess Cover-Up'

And I cannot decide what to make of it. Folk that I hold dear are not apparently interested. My elder son is 'backed up' with his reading, and the only historian I actually know won't respond to me.


I was vaguely aware of Rudolf Hess. You could argue that his mission dropped him into my back yard. He kind of crash dived barely a few miles from where I live, at Eaglesham. That is not where I live, it is where he crashed.

Winston Churchill admitted that Rudolf Hess was on a peace mission. It is also near irrefutable that the day after he arrived, corresponds to a cessation of the Blitz, the Nazi bombing of British Cities. At least for a few years until they invented the V1 and the V2,

I find that to be odd to say the least.

It is almost saying that Churchill was the the most brilliant strategist the world has ever known, on the basis that both the US and the USSR came to our defence, when neither was there initially. It seems to say that Barbarossa was, perhaps, allowed to proceed by Churchill. That the lack of a mutual blitz was a peace of sorts. That that was a done deal.

Let it be quite plain, as far as I can tell Rudolf Hess kind of co-wrote Mien Kapf. He is not a nice person.

The interesting point about this is that, even in war, politicians discuss stuff by back door methods. And apparently arm wrestle with each other too.

I am left, no wiser than I was before. I, sort of, think that what the authors have to say is reasonable, before they stretch the limits with body doubles and the like. The facts they present are pretty persuasive, the conclusions they reach, a tad less so.

I would have liked the views of others before I posted this, but none were forthcoming.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


I am sorry to go off at a tangent - part three of 'Thoughts on Extremism' - will follow shortly.

However, tangent it is. And it is the tangent that interests me right now.

I have a genuine difficulty with folk that distance themselves from reality. Almost as much as the folk that twist reality to their own ends - more about them later.

But firstly let us consider comfort zones.

There are two sides to this arguement. There are those that are never happy unless there is an apocalypse just around the corner, and there are those that would deny it until hell freezes over.

It is a dichotomy of human belief. And the idiots are winning.

I doubt that either extreme is mainstream, as it were. There are the libertarians on the one hand, who say we are all responsible for ourselves, and have a huge difficulty in constructing a world that would meet our needs. Or the communists who actually were given the chance and fucked it up.

But, here is the beef. Why does it seem to be the case that the political right wing wants to deny Climate Change?

There is an exceptionally poor comment on Liberal Conspiracy that says this:

So there is a hidden political motive behind these greens, which brings us back to the watermelons – Green on the outside, Red when you look below the surface.


I am sort of against global warming. And I do think quite a lot of it is anthropogenic.

Does that entitle someone to describe me as a watermelon?

There is a fairly robust amount of evidence that we are killing ourselves. It seems to me that political dinosaurs are unwilling to even take out an insurance policy against that possibility.

I do not have a lot of respect for idiots. Avoidance of risk strikes me as a 'good thing'.

For they have a certainty that I do not share.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Thoughts on Extremism and 24/7 News Part Two

I am too new to this game of blogging to have sophisticated options. So, this will have to be a mind game, rather than a graphic.

Imagine, if you like, that there was a long standing population in a country. Imagine, if you will it was 100% of that perfect state and contained 100% perfect people.

( "Shut up at the back! You are supposed to be imagining an imaginary Scotland circa 1958.")

But things in that idyll were going a little wrong. How shall we put it? Even in a period of less than complete employment folk were not willing to do the necessary jobs, such as driving buses and suchlike.

And so.

When I was at Primary School, I lived close enough to go home for lunch. I was walking up a busy street when some idiotic bully pushed me towards a bus. I hit my head on the wheel arch - folk say that explains a lot about me - however in that prelapsarian age I bounced off and walked away. The bus conductor - remember them - came rushing after me and introduced me to the driver. He was the first Sikh I ever met and he explained to me, in a genuinely odd English accent, for it was genuinely English, that, and I paraphrase, as I had hit my head on his bus then I, or my mother would perhaps have a claim against Glasgow Corporation, and that if he were to give me advice he would suggest that I proceeded with such a claim, should I suffer at all from the impact of my head against his bus.

I do not know whether I took that in or not, in the detail I have outlined, but it is a reasonable summary of what took place.

Of course, I took it no further.

It was a childhood bruise, and anyway it was the bully what done it.

For a while, the buses and tramcars appeared exclusively to be driven and even conductored by guys in Turbans and rather large West Indian women.


That was my perception at the time. But it didn't last long. Gradually the drivers became white again, and the conductors, well they disappeared. (Note to self - this is probably your memory playing tricks, conductors were around for ages after that.)

And the assumption that my childish mind made was that they had 'gone home'. If, to be fair, my childish mind thought about it at all.


But that was not true.

Folk that came here on Windrush and the like came here because in those days even being a bus driver, and I am speculating here, had an LLB Hons, yet it was better than you could do in India and Pakistan, moneywise.

But my chum the bus driver was never going to just be a bus driver. Was he?

There would be opportunities for him in any meritocratic society, whether it was to inspector of buses or QC.

I'd like to know that guys life story, for it touched mine.

And I'd like to think it encapsulates integration.

Open season guys....

Monday, 2 November 2009

Thoughts on Extremism and 24/7 News Part One

It seems odd to me that comparatively minor groups of people are able to manipulate the public psyche as much as they do. There are two groups of people that meet the criteria that I want to discuss.

The first, the subject of this post, is what I would describe as folk that would have been marginalised in a pre-digital world. The second is the 24/7 nature of News, or more to the point, the derivatives of that cycle that are it's bastard children, commentary. The third post will try to pull these two threads together.

So, first things first.

Do you know your BDSM from your BMSD? Do you know who or what Al Majaharoun were? Or how Islam4UK appear to be their new facade? Do you know what the EDL actually stands for? Or what the heck, in terms of absolute positioning, makes the AFL any different from the EDL?

Do you know whether the Euston Manifesto was a claim that liberal intervention in Iraq was entirely justified, or whether it was a request for a plinth for William Stanier FRS who built some rather intersting steam locomotives for the LMS. (And if the latter half of that sentence means you are going, what? You should read the first half again.)

This is, if you like, a journey to the Tir Nan Og of British politics, to a land that sure ain't Kansas.

But, it is an interesting journey into a developing field of exclusives of one sort or another, with a few honourable exceptions.

I am going to try to explain how a flight trip though this miasma left me less sure, less certain than I ever did before.


The playground, the climbing frame if you like, for all of this marginal political growth is directly traceable back to this lunatic:

And then, of course we had 9/11 and 7/7 and Madrid. Not to mention, because Western media don't seem to see it as the same thing, Mumbai.

And the folk that did these things - and for lack of doubt, these evil fuckers - are supposed to be embraced into a general world conflict between Muslims and the rest of us?

And yet, the arguement between Muslims is now an enormous civil war. The people who committed the crimes against New York, London, Madrid and Mumbai now perpetrate them by killing Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan, not to mention Iraq. For the fundamentalists are killers in the name of Allah. And they kill Muslims, almost now exclusively, that disagree with them. I, for one see them not as Nazis, which is the standardised insult for them. I see them as Pol Pot wannabes.

However, leaving my views aside, there are always people that know better than me.

Here is another little groupiscule, another minor member of the body politic, that seems to find it difficult to condemn the murder of fellow Muslims. They are the brain dead mob, and mob it is, that is led by Anjem Choudary:

Who exactly is feeding on whom?

So, my question is this?

Why should anyone, you or me or anyone else, care about any of these media inflated nonentities? Why should we care if one idiot says that tommorrow it would be a vast improvement if we became a fascist state or another lunatic said, come tommorrow, said it would be really cool to be part of the caliphate?

I'd suggest to you, dear reader, that neither is a realistic option. It's called democracy, and it is all we have got.