Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photo: How would Rémy get his cooking ingredients?

When I mentioned in the last entry that our twitchy-nosed family members bought Squirrel and I presents for Christmas, one of my friends here on Blogger replied:
"Wait, did the twitchy-nosed critters go shopping?"
Well, in fact, I can report that they did and they do. See for yourself, dear reader:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time to rage against the corporate pop machine

(Previously published by Blogcritics)

Every now and then, Daily Mirror columnist Brian Reade has something valuable to say, and his most recent column is one such example.
First, a little history. Here in Britain, a massive campaign is underway to declare Rage Against The Machine's "Killing in the Name" the No. 1 Christmas single. Currently, that little ditty is neck-and-neck with X-Factor winner Joe McElderry's current single "The Climb."
Like every other thing that X-Factor (and Britain's Got Talent / America's Got Talent) has produced, the music is syrupy and has got a bigger corporate stamp on it than Microsoft, another meaningless mass-produced bit of balladry for the masses.
And that's my problem with it.
Like Reade, I have absolutely nothing personal against Mr. McElderry. He's handsome, can obviously play the vocals (my little term for singing), and seems like an all-around great fellow. Plus, it's always refreshing to see a man of 5-foot-4 being idolized and adored. He earned his fame and deserves the resultant limelight.
But it's the way he earned his fame that bothers me. He went through the corporate music world's machine to achieve it, with the unctuous Simon Cowell as Chief Executive Officer, monitoring the young man's every move and coaxing every note. It's no wonder that a band called Rage Against The Machine is being brought out of their hiatus to offer some no-holds-barred competition.
It's this sort of corporate mush—with all the sappy violin backgrounds and boring piano playing and gooey, pointless warbling—that rendered one of my own favorite bands ineffectual. So I have a reason to be particularly outraged.
I speak of Chicago, a band that used to have killer rock chops, but cannot produce this kind of creative honesty anymore thanks to their record company overlords who can't understand it. Nothing disturbed me more than their last effort, recorded in Nashville (shades of Miley Cyrus here) with Jay DeMarcus of the Rascal Flats as producer. Their entire 30th album consisted of the sort of bland, countryfied American pop so prevalent on the radio these days. That's when I knew this band that I love so much had officially lost it. British radio is no different—it just doesn't have the cheesy C&W influence.
A guy like Harry Nilsson paid his dues, honing his skills as a recording assistant, a songwriter for others and a television commercial crooner. But it was only through applying himself through his own vision and individuality that he became the legend he was. Same for Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, anybody from the '60s and '70s. Talent was about more than how many sticky love songs you could sing. You had to have individuality and strike out with new sounds.
Getting a new sound these days is like getting blood from a stone, if you'll excuse the cliché. But, when it comes to "music," clichés of sound are all we're getting.
My father once took great pains to convince me of what I missed by not having been around during the 1950s. (My retort was that the '20s were one hell of a decade too, but we both missed them.) And it's true that Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and, of course, Elvis Presley made the decade notable. But when I think of '50s music, I yawn. It was, in a very real sense, no different to today's music scene, with young people being groomed by their masters and told exactly what to sing and how to sing it. Reade agrees:
"X Factor is ... brilliant television but its ultimate aim is to drag us back to the 1950s when cynical Svengalis created cardboard cut-outs such as Adam Faith and Eden Kane to swell their bulging pockets."
Hey, Dad? Still missing the 1950s? Look around you—they've returned. With a vengeance.
This is why no-one will ever convince me that the years 1964-1984 weren't the best that pop music had to offer. It was original. It was inventive. It had soul. You actually looked forward to hearing what was in the Billboard Top 40.
How many bands who actually had a sound worth hearing during those brilliant two decades would we have missed if today's music industry rules had applied? No Rolling Stones, no Police, no Duran Duran. The Beatles probably wouldn't have gotten a second look. Yes, they were groomed a bit too in the beginning, but Revolver is when they broke away from that, and kudos to them for it.
If Seymour Stein had been some corporate jack-ass, looking for clean-cut guys that your grandparents could comfortably listen to, he'd never have been sitting in New York City's CBGB club, listening to the no-nonsense firepower that The Ramones delivered and wanting to put it on vinyl. Why did Stein hang around there? He was looking for genuine artists, bands with something to say and a unique, exciting, inticing way of saying it. The Talking Heads and Blondie were also alumni of CBGB's and Stein didn't waste a moment in getting them into the recording studio either.
Recording company bosses like Stein cared about music, and the money they made resulted from the quality product they delivered. These days, the recording companies, and radio stations with their mangled fingers to the pulse, care only about money.
Enter Mssr. Reade again:
"Those kids who form groups in bedrooms, write songs about issues relevant to their age and develop an original sound: If we carry on buying into Cowell’s cynical manipulation of the music industry, we may get the next generation of cruise-ship cabaret artistes, but where’s the next Lennon, Strummer or Gallagher?
How many angry, edgy geniuses will be written off for being too risky, become disillusioned and end up in accountancy school?
British music desperately needs another punk moment, when pre-packaged pap was blown away by kids with attitude, desperate to reclaim their youth culture from bloated old farts."
I have issues with Rage Against The Machine. They will embrace any far-Left ideology, to the extent that you must think it's simply for notoriety's sake. They once burned an American flag onstage, and that was during the Clinton era.
But I see it this way: Anyone who supports this band for the Christmas No. 1 spot will investigate them further and if they disagree with the ideology, then their vote will simply have been in protest. And that is the sole point here. This is not a campaign to validate RATM's warped world viewpoint; it is simply a way to stick two fingers up at the bloated, bland music industry.
That having been said, I, like Mssr. Reade, support Rage Against The Machine's "Killing in the Name" for tops of the pops this Christmas time. If we don't make some kind of stand now, good music may continue to come at a high premium.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's beginning to stink a lot like Christmas

"It doesn't mean anything to me at all. I hate Christmas. I think it's just a racket for the shopkeepers and everyone else. Everyone sings 'Goodwill to all mankind' for one day, then they're back to being at each other's throats."
While monitoring a Northern Irish television channel at work, I came across this snipet of a man being interviewed in what I'm guessing is Belfast during what I'm also guessing is the '80s. I presume the station is replaying this vox prop as a laugh, but it hit home with me. Considering this was Ulster during a time when the Troubles were still rife, the man's bah-humbug attitude could be forgiven. But you don't need to be living in the midst of two warring sects to agree with his point of view. After all, his observation is an astute one with respect to Christmas and people in general.
Yep, here it is, mid-December and society is pushing that giant poop called Christmas-time out of its collective posterior and there's no escaping the eye-watering stink.
Look, I like Christmas Eve and Christmas day. At our household, they go by quietly, and that's as I like it. No having to pretend to be festive at a big family get-together. My worst nightmare is sitting in the midst of snoring elders and rambunctious children, bored with every single thing playing on the television and wishing I could be anywhere else. I'd rather spend Christmas at a sanitation company's transfer station than to find myself in that situation.
It's the whole fake bonhomie and camaraderie that I hate. This expectation by all and sundry that I should—that I have to—be joyous and full of the cheer that I just ain't feeling. If I'm having a bad day during the Christmas season, then, damnit, I won't hide the fact. And I'm not going out of my way to put on my party hat "just because it's Christmas."
Dragons don't play that game.
I have no problem with giving either, but as long as it's within the limits of my bank account and I'm not expected to acrue charges on my credit card that will take me till I'm 75 to pay off. I just want to bomb every single retailer whose mindset is that I should be happy to trot around their store, humming Christmas tunes while forking over money that I'd much rather be saving.
And I'm not gorging myself on food "just because." I'd much rather remain on the slim side, and if that's being a bah-humbug, than I'm wicked proud of it.
Spend, spend, spend. Eat, eat, eat. Smile, smile, smile. It's like this every year; the message never changes. Believe me, by the time you've hit the big four-oh (and I have), Christmas has long since ceased to be magical.
Garrison Keillor's recent column about Christmas-time in New York is a case in point. I'm not fond of Keillor—he's a liberal dweeb—but I totally agree with him when he writes, "Christmas is a joyful time, or so we're told, but a person gets tired of enforced joyfulness, especially when it's Wal-Mart and Amazon doing the prompting, and you sort of appreciate a little anger to season the season," and "Christmas has some opposition there [New York]. And people don't stifle themselves just because the Messiah is on the way."
Keillor provides a sampling:
"In New York people can express anger in a frank and open way, Christmas or no Christmas, and surely this is a good thing. A man in a big gray SUV was outraged that I stepped off the curb on West 43rd Street and walked in front of his vehicle and he went to the trouble of rolling his window down and shouting the name of a bodily orifice. 'Use the sidewalk!' he said. I pointed out that his behemoth was blocking the sidewalk. 'So? What's wrong with waiting, Orifice?'"
Suddenly, I'm very fond of New Yorkers. They're keeping it real. Give them that much. Of course, mind you, I never noticed much difference when I lived in Boston either; and I certainly don't notice the difference here in London. And you know what? I'm happy with it. That makes me, if not cheerful, then on the right side of sanguine. I'd much rather people be the usual pains-in-the-asses that they always are as opposed to ringing a bell in my face, wanting to hug me or whatever other stupid bull that any Christmas-addled loony may want to dish out.
I'm all for trying to keep Christmas Eve and Christmas itself merry. But please remember that the "private parts rule" applies here. Keep it to yourself and reserve it only for your most nearest-and-dearest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jung typology test result

I took the Jung Typology Test, courtesy of a friend's blog, and scored ISTJ, which stands for Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging. According to this, I am an Introveted Guardian.
I am, among other things, quiet, reserved, serious, loyal, determined, not fond of change, desirous of things being clean and neat and orderly, and secure enough with my experiences to resist trying different approaches. Suffice to say, I'm not very surprised at all by this result.
After all, why should I be? It's a typical dragon personality.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paying for the fat of the land

The debate over whether the world's fattest man should be helped further is a matter of common sense.

(Previously published by Blogcritics)

Some people say that Paul Mason needs help. I say he's already gotten enough. One million pounds' ($1,666,666) worth of help, to be exact.
Who is Paul Mason, you ask? The world's heaviest man, at a mere twenty pounds shy of 1,000. Yep, you heard right: If this guy gains just twenty more pounds—and gaining weight is obviously his life's sole goal and achievement—he'll be one thousand pounds in weight.
The 48-year-old Mason knows he's in bad shape. He saw his father die of obesity. Yet, he continues to consume 20,000 calories a day. He has received help before, but gained all the weight back soon afterwards. The taxpayer-funded cost for the NHS to treat him over the years totals £1 million. Living on benefits such as he obviously does, he costs the taxpayer a further £100,000 a year.
His mother had to remortgage the house just to pay his food bills and his sister bemoans, "I still love Paul, but what he does just breaks my heart."
Now Mr. Mason needs emergency surgery or he could die. Well, I hate to be this callous, but the phrase "too bad, so sad, never mind" seems appropriate in this case.
Mason is cursed with a serious illness. It's obvious that he's got an incredibly stubborn eating disorder, but he doesn't even have a redeeming personality or conscience to make up for it. He served time in prison for stealing cash from letters during his former job as a mailman. He slimmed down to 280 pounds during his stint in jail, but only because he had no choice but to eat a limited amount. As a free man, Mason cannot keep himself away from fast food, candies, chips and other junk.
His sister alleges that Mason didn't want help from even his nearest-and-dearest. "I let him get away with it. He has suffered from depression and I know I should have been a lot more supportive as a sister," said Mrs. Mason. "But there is only a certain amount you can give someone if they don't help themselves. He didn't want our help."
And there you have it. You cannot help people who won't help themselves. Therefore, Paul Mason must accept his fate. He has no right to demand a £20,000 stomach operation on the NHS when he has already cost the public health care system £1 million. He's had his chances and he's blown them.
Sorry, Paul, but your six-foot girth will land you six-foot under and you have no-one to blame for that but yourself.
Is there something about being fat that blinds people to reality? And how can they be content to live off society? A non-working Scottish couple, who weigh a combined 666 pounds, had all seven of their children taken into custody over concerns about their weights. It's one thing to breed like rabbits when you're on welfare, but for all seven of your offspring to be on the hefty side really takes the cake, if you'll forgive the pun.
The 40-year-old proud mom offered up her heartfelt defense. "All I hear from the two lassies is 'can we come home?' and I tell them 'soon, darlings'. It hurts. I will take my kids to the obesity clinic and help them get the help that they need. I want the best for my kids. That's the kind of mother I am."
Errr, forgive me for asking, but if that's the kind of mother you are, why were your kids taken into care? The local authority in Dundee disagrees, justifying the move with their own riposte. "[T]he welfare and safety of a child or children is the over-riding priority and in some cases, despite the strenuous efforts of the agencies providing this support, the best option is for them to be looked after away from their home." I agree with the council. We don't need seven future overweight shirkers.
This sort of thing is what scares me most about Obama-care. No strangers to those with planet-sized rear ends themselves, Americans will be footing a bill as large as the fat of the land itself to take care of them. Unless, of course, we adopt L.A. Times columnist Melissa Healy's idea to make fatties pay for a public health care system. It's not a bad idea. Sure, it reeks of the ol' liberal stalwart of throwing money at the problem, but it will raise funds and it will make others think twice about what they eat; they just might realize that there was indeed life before trans-fats. The only problem is, of course, the goverment-funded doctor-crats will take this ball and run with it. You daren't step into a health care professional's office without a BMI chart being waved in your face. I can see the two sides of that issue.
But one thing is for certain: Until people rediscover common sense and start taking back responsibility for themselves and their own lives, we will continue to deal with the Paul Masons of the world and the subsequent creaking and groaning of the public services infrastructure that they cause.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boris' attack on the bankers—now that beggars belief

Can anyone figure out Boris Johnson for me? As recently as two weeks ago, the Mayor of London jumped to the City's defense, calling bankers a "vital part" of the UK's economic recovery. No argument there. We are financially healthy when the bankers and stockbrokers do a robust job.
"[N]ever forget, all you would-be banker bashers, that the leper colony in the City of London produces 9% of UK GDP, 13% of value added and taxes that pay for roads and schools and hospitals across this country," Johnson told the audience at the Conservative Party conference on October 5.
Around this time last year, during the thick of the recession, Boris asked Londoners to stop their "neo-socialist whingeing about City bankers." Sounding the same line as with the Tory conference, Johnson beseeched, "Before you attack the bankers of London, remember that this is one of the few global industries in which we truly excel; the City contributes about nine per cent of Britain's GDP."
So what to make of his recent column, "The Barefaced Greed of Bankers and Their Bonuses Beggars Belief," one must wonder?
This is one scurrilous attack on City culture from the man who took such pains and risked such unpopularity to defend it. Referring to bankers as "a type of cockroach," Johnson opines that, "their interests, and the interests of the community, have been intertwined by the fact of state intervention, and they need to show they understand that."
This is very true as well. Bankers showed off, gambled with leverage they didn't have, and played Russian roulette with the money, not caring if they lost the gamble as the taxpayer would bail them out. And yet they have shown that they've learned nothing and are happy to accept their lavish bonus packages for failing.
In my opinion, bankers need to show humility and forego the huge bonuses for at least a year and demonstrate that they're rediscovering the A-game necessary to help bring us out of recession. Instead, they are treating themselves with our money—and even the banks that didn't fail and remain in private hands are still playing fast and loose with the profits.
I praise Johnson's latest column, but hope that he's truly seen the light as opposed to simply jumping on the bandwagon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting in Obama's way: Might that not be a good thing?

Van Jones has just proven that the Obama administration doesn't really want a Green world. They want a surreal one.

Previously published by Blogcritics

Further proof, if any were honestly required, that we cannot trust Green people to not have Red agendas—and that Mr. Obama does indeed associate with human weasels.
Having previously endorsed a 9/11 conspiracy theory accusing the Bush administration of playing a role in the terrorist attack, and making disparaging comments about Republicans in general, environmental adviser Van Jones "understood he was going to get in the way" of Obama's agenda and resigned via e-mail. Not before decrying the "vicious smear campaign" against him, of course.
He issued a weak mea culpa to Republicans: "If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize." But those nasty sons-of-bitches still demanded that he resign. Oh, the injustice.
Jones worked in the White House Council on Environmental Quality and was one of Obama's officials in charge of his made-up jobs for tree-huggers project. He is your typical acerbic, angry and downright mean-spirited Leftie, desiring a better world for all while poking anyone who dares to disagree with him in the eyes.
It's a shame that the president opposes gay marriage because the good reverend Jeremiah Wright and Jones are a match made in ... well, certainly and most determinedly not heaven. A match made with Gaia's blessing, shall we say?
Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to side with liberals on environmental issues myself, insofar as I don't agree with the clear-cutting, development-crazy mindset of some avidly pro-business conservatives.
But I honestly have to wonder what these enviro-types are up to when they oppose the construction of incinerators. Technological advances have made them cleaner and more efficient, we can get "clean" energy from them, and we cannot recycle everything, nor can we force people to recycle if they won't. It is a real solution to a solid-waste problem. And yet most of these Earth worshippers oppose them. I can't figure that one out.
And then their eagerness to "dance on capitalism's grave" during G20 protests and embrace Sept. 11 conspiracy theories: More not-so-lovely examples of polluted minds. Clean up your own heads first, folks, before you try to clean up the planet.
What's so troublesome about all this is that environmentalists are very influential, most of them being part of the Left-wing cabal, such as they are, that sets the trend for so many easily-influenced minds as well as government agendas. For instance, if you're so grateful to someone for their environmental activism, then might you not start listening to their warped views on 9/11 or how all Republicans want to sacrifice children or any other nonsense they may spew and taking it seriously?
I'm grateful to environmentalists myself, as long as they stick to serious environmental issues as opposed to simply saying, "The world's getting hotter! Carbon's building up out of control! And it's all the GOP's fault!" I'm not looking for political rants from these people. I want them to do what they've pledged to do: to find sound environmental solutions that don't seek to destroy the capitalist ethic. I do not expect them to engage in proselytizing for the lunatic brigade. Honestly, if they're a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, I don't think they're to be trusted to play the organ at a ballgame, never mind help set national policy.
Meanwhile, Obama will whitewash the whole Jones incident in his usual I-see-no-need-to-discuss-this style, just as he did with Wright and just as he did with the Islamic terror threat during his love-in tour of the Muslim world.
Yep, it's a crazy world out there. The Jones controversy proves that our president does his damndest to make it just that bit more surreal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

An American health-care skeptic defends the NHS

Although the NHS might not be the role model Americans are looking for, the government-run British health-care system is not evil.

Previously published by Blogcritics

With the health care debate raging in the U.S. currently, the spotlight has been thrown on Britain's National Health Service, NHS for short. Americans are worried that they, should President Obama manage to pass his health care bill in Congress, will be strapped with an inefficient government system that alone will determine how they are looked after.
Inefficient the NHS might indeed be—and this is because not only does it have to care for the needs of 61 million people, but those of illegal immigrants as well. There have also been horrifying examples of neglect, such as at an NHS hospital in Stafford, where up to 1,200 people died from neglect. The NHS also likes to dictate who receives what treatment and when due to cost-cutting.
But the NHS, despite its struggles, does the best that it can, burdened such as it is. And it is not, in the words of that renowned Rhodes scholar Sarah Palin, "evil."
There was a time, during my early years in England, when I scoffed at the NHS. Nothing was guaranteed to make my blood boil more fiercely than Brits who couldn't seem to understand why we Americans won't endorse any form of socialism. I had long arguments with my wife over why the NHS was a waste of money and resources as well as, due to the aforementioned socialist nature of it, immoral.
But then, when I was in need myself, my view toward the NHS ameliorated somewhat. When you are in such pain that you cannot think straight, views are bound to change a little.
In May 2005, I had a serious kidney stone attack and I was in such bad shape that I required an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I was assessed at one hospital, had x-rays and blood taken, and then transferred across London to another hospital with a urology department so that I could be given specialist treatment. I was in this hospital—Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital near London Bridge—for four days. At no point was I uncomfortable, at no point did I think I deserved better. The paramedics, the doctors, the nurses, the consultants: they were all wonderful.
You'll understand my feelings here, dear reader. If I bash the NHS, I bash these people who looked after me when I was in agony. I can't do that.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate being able to see the doctor without filling out cumbersome forms. I won't say it costs nothing, because that's not true. But I have already paid for it through taxes. The tax rate in Britain has consistently been around 23 percent. That is not unreasonable (even if I say that as a 17% flat tax supporter). The majority of Americans pay the same rate, and they don't have a government health care system.
Sure, the NHS is a bureaucracy and in these lean times, and with more and more people living in Britain, it has shown signs of incompetence. But private health care exists in Britain, for those that demand it, and even that is considerably cheaper than American health care. Unlike Canada, Britain does not demand that everyone use their government-provided health care. The NHS is there for those who cannot afford private health care.
Britain, in my opinion, needs to get serious about trimming welfare rolls, stop doling out cash for every baby born (let people pay for their own children), and strike all but emergency care for illegals. There is plenty of waste to be tackled and any money that is freed up can better assist the NHS.
In the U.S., the situation is different. There are 300 million people to look after. If $10 billion of taxpayers' money is to be invested every year over five years to move American health care toward a standards-based care system that exludes no-one, it's bound to be tricky—and it's no wonder that it's scaring the pants off Americans. From the July 27 issue of The Weekly Standard, Fraser Nelson & Irwin Stelzer report that "patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions will do it the Obama-Biden way or else be excluded from insurance coverage." Canada all over again.
Americans are in no mood to experiment. They do not like their current health care system, but they fear what they might get—or not, as the case may be—with government-regulated health care. According to Stryker McGuire's report in the August 15 edition of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, "[A] solid majority (62 percent versus 32 percent) is in favor of giving Americans the option of a government insurance plan. But that's all they agree on ... By a 55 to 35 percent margin, they're more worried that Congress will spend too much money and add to the deficit than that Congress will not act to overhaul the health care system. By a similar margin, voters say health care reform should be dropped if it adds 'significantly' to the deficit, and by a much wider margin (72-21 percent), voters do not believe that Obama will keep his promise to overhaul the health-care system without adding to the deficit."
You could write a book—in fact, many have been written—on the inequities, inadequacies, irregularities and idiosyncracies of health care. I obviously do not intend to do that. In fact, my knowledge of the intracacies of health care is hardly in-depth. I know what everyone else does: that drug companies have too much say, insurance company lobbyists are too influential, malpractice lawsuits are a constant worry, and the obesity-producing lifestyle habits of the nation are hardly conducive to a cheap and easy delivery of health care.
But I do not blame my fellow Americans for protesting government health care; in fact, I'm proud of them for it. We are all heirs to Thomas Jefferson's limited-government mindset. His legacy is something we are right to defend so robustly. (One wonders that if Hamilton had won the day, would Americans still be agonizing over health care in 2009?) It is certainly preferable to letting the government control every aspect of our lives as they are wont to do in Europe, where nearly everyone believes that the state will look after them and they'll all live happily ever after as a result. Americans don't believe that rubbish, and more power to them. As Jefferson said himself, a government that big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.
But the point is, despite all that is wrong with government-run health care, the immorality of socialism, the inadequacy of insurance options, what have you, Britain's NHS is not evil.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The results what the kids got was brilliant: Yea for edjumacation

You will know from this entry, dear reader, that I take the correct usage of the English language seriously. Well, as correctly as you are capable of. I don't always use it properly in speech or writing myself. I, too, make mistakes. But, at the ripe old age of 39, it doesn't take much imagination on my part to confidently state that I am better at using English than 95 percent of the current crop of high school graduates (or "school leavers" as they are bluntly known here in Britain). And it annoys me.
The latest shining examples of our future recently received their exam marks. Just as with the past few years, the results were apparently tremendous. Listening to all the social commentators on TV or in the newspapers, you'd think every baby-faced young adult now trying to enter the job market was a budding Einstein.
However, people above the age of 35 contend that the exams are too easy. I don't think there can be much doubt about that. Is a yout' of today really as intelligent as a graduate from fifty, forty or even thirty years ago? If these kids are so bright, how come they possess a nearly total inability to express themselves coherently in writing? They have no idea of punctuation, cannot use "big" words, struggle with verb conjugation, and the role of the apostrophe is a foreign concept. It's one thing to not "get" math or another science, but proper language is fundamental to our society, our culture, ourselves.
Of course, criticizing the little darlings comes with risk, as I found out courtesy of the following diatribe which a particular young person—who is very much aware of my stance—sent me via e-mail. I beg you to remember that fact: an e-mail, not a text message. Now then, for your reading pleasure, I submit the following evidence to you, verbatim.
"OY, pal, I think its really bad that you poke fun of our exam results ... they were specktacular acros the bord why you got to hate on us ... the results wot me and my mate's got were brilliant ... the problem with u peeple is u think we all on drugs ... oh we no good. dont you beleeve it. Was u not a teenager onse ... your a wanker."
Got to hand it to him, folks. He's got a brilliant career as a social worker ahead of him. Or a politician, only that would require him to spell "Parliament" correctly as well as signing his name.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kennedy, Kopechne and karma ...

As controversial as he was—the drowning at Chappaquiddick, support for the I.R.A.—the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy gives me pause for thought.
If I admire anything about Ted Kennedy, it's that he continued to fight for what he took seriously—even if the rest of the nation didn't—despite not being very well for several years. He still went to work and fought for the mandate that his fawning "Massholes" gave him. He was almost tireless when he should have been constantly falling over from exhaustion.
I'm also glad that he's no longer in any pain. A brain tumor is rough (my wife witnessed her father suffering from one) and I feel a tad guilty for mocking his alcoholism with my entry the other day ("Kennedy's Been Hitting the Bottle ...") It was, I admit, an inopportune time to pick on the man.
Nonetheless, you can't help but feel karma at work here. Drowning is also a rough, and very scary, way to die. Given that he did not die painlessly of old age in his sleep, dying from cancer was Kennedy's comeuppance.
Justice, at long last, for Mary Jo Kopechne.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kennedy's been hitting the bottle, but what's Kerry's excuse?

Scotland's release of Abdul al-Megrahi from his prison sentence is indeed a mistake as well as an outrage. But do Sens. Kennedy and Kerry really feel our pain?

Previously published by Blogcritics

Imagine a letter that berates a foreign government—a U.S. ally—for releasing a terrorist from his prison sentence on compassionate grounds. This letter decries the terrible impact the terrorist's act had on Americans, terming it a "heinous crime," asks the government in question to "oppose acts of terrorism," and respectfully demands that there be "no deviation this [the terrorist's] sentence."
It is not hard to imagine this letter because it really exists. What is considerably more difficult to imagine is that such a strong statement was put forth by Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, also signed by Chuck Schumer and Patrick Leahy, and sharing its sense of consternation with the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill went ahead with the decision to release Pan Am flight 103 bomber Abdul al-Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds, given that al-Megrahi is terminally ill from prostate cancer. The British Government claims it had no say in the releasing of al-Megrahi, stating that it was purely a Scottish affair, though time will tell if Downing Street did have any impact on the decision, as furious MPs who opposed Megrahi's release are demanding an inquiry.
The Americans are also outraged at Scotland for releasing al-Megrahi from his prison sentence, and rightly so. Why should we show compassion toward Megrahi? If the Scots jailed bin Laden, would they also release him on "compassionate" grounds should he fall terminally ill? Whose compassion are we more concerned about, Megrahi's or that of his victims? As with so many other instances in today's society, it's the criminal that is treated fairly; the victims just get walked over.
Nonetheless, it was heartening to see Obama declaring al-Megrahi's release "a mistake"—though "an outrage" or "a slap in every American's face" would have been much more appropriate—and Mrs. Clinton urging MacAskill to not release the Libyan.
It was even more pleasantly incredulous to witness Sens. Kennedy and Kerry getting so worked up over al-Megrahi's release and what that means to the families of his victims. John Kerry, in a moment of absolute brilliance and clear-headedness, even went so far as to declare, "Megrahi showed no compassion to the innocent passengers and Scottish villagers he murdered; he should not receive our compassion now." I can't help but think, if only they'd stick up for America on a much more consistent basis, they might actually be considered patriots.
I'm inclined to think that Kennedy may have been hitting the bottle so hard lately that he's forgotten where he stands, but I wonder what Kerry's excuse is?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nightdragon, the building-spotter

I like to think of myself as, if not exactly a tough guy, then something somewhat approaching it. However, I now realize an uncomfortable truth about me. I'm a geek.
I've become a bit obsessed about the building I work in. It's a hunk of rubbish with a brick exterior that should have been condemned at least ten years ago. But that's what makes me so curious about it.
The company I work for is the only business left in that building, occupying one half of the second floor. As for the ground floor, the first floor, the third floor and the other half of the second floor—they are all empty. On my breaktimes, I used to wander around all the empty office rooms and even a disused cafeteria before I started getting the creeps about it. Now I enjoy standing in the parking lot, looking up at all the empty rooms from the outside, and trying to spot phantoms.
It is, of course, typical of the company I work for that we'd be housed in this creaky edifice, which looks like a prison or an austere schoolbuilding from most angles, right up until its demise. It is scheduled to be imploded in September 2010, to make way for a hotel. The freeholders (the building's owners) actually put a FOR LEASE sign up at the front, though I can't imagine any business being so desperate for space that they'd consider this building, with its capricious-minded elevators, stained carpets and flickery lighting. Indeed, only me and my co-workers have that particular joy.
The building was built in 1953 and used to house the British social security offices. They had the sense to move away five years ago. The environmental agency offices on the first floor followed suit soon after. The travel training agency on the other side of the second floor moved house last year and the business on the third floor moved out just a few months ago. Now we are truly alone. As I say, it's a bit creepy around there now.
But I still can't help but wonder: Who occupied our space on the second floor before our company moved there in 1996? What did the building look like in its heyday, when it was a place you actually didn't wrinkle your nose up at the thought of going to every weekday? I find it incredible that there's an actual cafeteria on the third floor. The thought that at one time dinner-ladies worked there cracks me up; it's so unbelieveable given how forlorn the building is these days.
It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of asking the security dude (he's only there because of us) if he knows of any old pictures I could look at and any history of the building I could read about. Why do I even have the slightest interest in any of it? I truly don't know, and that's the sad part.
I guess it's because I'm desperate to know if this building ever looked nice. Or I'm just a geek. You've heard of trainspotters? Maybe I'm a building-spotter.

POSTSCRIPT: I direct you, dear reader, to this particular entry (click on the purple words) for further evidence of my buidling-spotter credentials!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fashion freedom flows in only one direction

When a theme park banned "tight trunks" for men without placing similar restrictions on women, they re-inforced society's prejudice against the male form.

Previously published by Blogcritics

Recently, Alton Towers, a theme park here in England, banned swim briefs for men, declaring them in "bad taste" as they are a "family venue."
I need only, I hope, report that no such ban on bikinis for women applies to prove the point that what is good for the goose is absolutely not good for the gander.
We belly-ache over the subject of sexual equality. We talk of liberating women from the stringent dress codes of hard-line Islamic societies, which is all very well and certainly has my support. But we ignore the trend taking place in Western society, which in 50 years' time will expect all men to wear burlap sacking from neck to toes, lest the sight of a male elbow or ankle offend anyone's sensitivities.
I will never understand what it is about Speedos that gets some people so worked up. For all you women who say you don't like it, I submit the following scenario to you: You and your man are both sunbathing on the beach. You, of course, have the freedom to bare as much as you please while your male company is wearing baggy, flowery board shorts. Now comes night-time and you're looking forward to a bit of playing around. Your partner peels off his shorts to reveal the following: a tanned chest and abs, pasty white thighs and tanned calves. And you expect to say, with a straight face, that this turns you on? Please, ladies. Next you'll be telling me that all drinks should be spiked with GHB, and probably saying that with a straight face as well.
OK, I do realize that the bald, ugly, beer-bellied, chicken-legged contingent has given swim briefs a bad name. But why should fit, handsome men have to pay for their crime? There are some women out there who I believe should never wear skirts above the knees, because their legs are a horror show. Yet, you'd think me crazy to declare short skirts off-limits to good-looking, in-shape women simply because some pudgy-legged females dared to bare as well.
At my workplace, shorts recently became a banned item of clothing. Yet, men can wear 3/4 trousers. Have you ever seen a more ridiculous fashion item than 3/4 trousers? What's the point in wearing something that's not quite shorts but not quite pants either? And furthermore, does the management even realize where these 3/4 trousers originated? From that moronic "music" and "lifestyle" known as hip-hop. So, basically, our workplace is saying that a nice, crisp, respectable pair of khaki shorts, down to the knees, is not acceptable during the warm weather in our supposedly casual office, but some ridiculous claptrap from the "gold chains, no brains" world of rap is.
I remember when shorts down to the knees used to be considered conservative. Now men can't even show their whole calves anymore.
Who defends this sort of ridiculous fashion? It seems no matter how baggy and how long summer gear for men gets, there's always plenty of people who will defend it and declare it sexy. I don't know: I'm guessing society is just mad about ugly clothes on guys. It's the only explanation.
Why can't we simply admit that, as a society, we are severely prejudiced against the male form? That would at least be a laudable dose of refreshing honesty for once.
On the bright side, when I was at Discovery Cove, the specialist park set up by Sea World in Orlando, I saw a Latino guy wearing Speedos. This is a family-friendly destination as well, yet no-one told him he couldn't wear his briefs. He was the only one there wearing them, albeit—I'd opted for the wetsuit—but no-one was telling him off for his preferred swimgear. Furthermore, a survey conducted by the Metro newspaper found that while 58 percent agreed with Alton Towers' Speedos ban, 42 percent said they were in the wrong. Forty-two percent may be a minority, but it's a large one.
So, fuck you, Alton Towers. Your "bad taste" logic works both ways. You ban fashion freedom for men, I'll ban you from ever receiving any money that I earn.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Want some moobs with your ice cream, girls?

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Time for a foray into the ridiculous.
A recent survey conducted here in Britain found that women prefer men with beer bellies, body odor and rough body hair to "well groomed metrosexuals."
This survey was conducted by Lion Bar Ice Cream. Now then, if a confectioner's survey on what turns women on can really be trusted, then I certainly wouldn't be interested in abiding by it. So women prefer slobs? They're welcome to them.
Honestly, this survey was biased from the start. Look at the choices here: fat, out-of-shape oiks with rough body hair or preening, fashion-conscious twinks.
No in-betweens? What about men with smooth, silky, plush body hair as opposed to living Brillo pads? What about men who like a beer or two but don't let it go to their bellies? What about men who dab on a splash of cologne but don't care for man-scara or guy-liner? Seems those type of men don't exist, according to this survey. You're either a girly man or a fat slob.
But this is the world according to Lion Bar. Are we really all that surprised?
More ice cream, ladies?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today's lesson: Obama = Human

Earlier this morning, my eyes feasted upon an editorial cartoon that (finally) made Obama out to be less than a Messiah.
The Daily Telegraph published a cartoon which showed Obama sitting on a rocking horse which is speeding downhill. Gordon Brown is sitting on the horse, behind Obama. They are surrounded by rocky hills and approaching a sign pointing the way to "AFGHANISTAN, WAZIRISTAN, PAKISTAN." They are both wearing newspaper hats and clutching wooden kiddie swords. And Brown is saying to the Prez, "Did you think I would leave you crying when there's room on my horse for two?"
I don't agree with the Afghanistan war-slamming stance of the cartoon itself, and I'm a bit mystified as to why the right-wing Telegraph published it. The paper is far from anti-war.
But what jumped at me—actually, make that what pummeled me in the face—was seeing Obama taking heat. Because he is solidly committed to the effort in Afghanistan (so far), Obama is slowly but surely becoming a bull's-eye for the "peace and love" crowd—or paleo-conservatives who love to cry "nation-building!"
Golly, does this mean that Mr. Barack Hussein Obama is ... a human being, a mere mortal of a man? Perish the thought. What will the tye-dyed, dreadlocked crowd make of that?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One dead, many spared?

All right, I'll be the first to admit that I find anyone who is both a church-goer and a doctor who's willing to perform late-term abortions to have a very strange relationship with his conscience. I do not, however, think that he should be killed. I am anti-abortion myself, but I do not subscribe to the militant pro-life hypothesis that one life killed is many spared.
George Tiller was no angel given the slaughter he engaged in. I understand that the very thought of his work is truly cringeworthy—and I certainly don't comprehend how you could have a relationship with God while tearing a person apart in the womb. It is positively grotesque.
But George Tiller needed to answer to God for that. As long as late-term abortions remain legal, he could not be tried for murder. But for Pete's sake, take it up with your Congressman; no matter how disgusted you may be by Tiller's profession, you are not the jury, judge and executioner in his case.
The far-Christian Right whackjob that shot him was clearly in that frame of mind, and he is far from alone. These people do honestly frighten me. If they had their way, we'd be living in a theological state no different from that of Saudi Arabia or Iran. (Only, our God would be better than their God, and we know that to be true because we said so!) Pardon the pun, but God help us.
(If me having said that, in light of yesterday's entry endorsing the Christian Party, seems strange to you, just know that I consider there to be a great deal of difference between Christian values versus Christian fundamentalism. I revere the former; I despise the latter.)
Ask yourself if you feel sympathy for animal rights campaigners who kill researchers and bomb their laboratories. No? They're insane, and they're terrorists, you say? If I am disgusted and disheartened by vivisection (which I am), you're saying that I must work within the law to express my outrage?
Well, I agree, but tell me why, exactly, is that not also true in the case of abortion clinics and the doctors who work there?
The fact remains, Tiller was a person already out in the world, someone whose life was still technically sacred. How can anyone say that he would not repent for his crimes later in life? You cannot kill to prevent killings, except in war. And honestly, folks, is that what this whole putrid abortion debate comes down to?
At a Wichita memorial service in memory of the late doctor, one mourner's sign read: "Tiller's Killer Is A Terrorist Hypocrite Coward." I whole-heartedly agree.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Christian Party for E.U. and local offices

On Thursday, the European Union elections, in which Britons will vote to elect seats in the European Parliament—a sham, I grant you—as well as local British council elections will take place. I cannot vote myself, but that won't stop me from making an endorsement in this space.
Let's run through the main parties in the running:
(1) Labour—You would have to be living in a cave or outside the country to not know what a train-wreck they are. They've been in power too long and they've run out of fresh ideas. They are the party of a thousand promises and they fail to deliver on even one of them. Labour was starting to look defensive and arrogant during Tony Blair's last term, but the past two-and-a-half years under Gordon Brown's stewardship have been insufferable. Labour won't listen to what the voters actually desire, they just want to keep trying to force laws that no-one wants down our collective throat, such as the I.D. scheme. All the while, they ignore the festering garbage heap they've turned this country into, literally with bi-weekly rubbish collections and figuratively with their lack of immigration controls. Anyone who would still vote for a party that seeks only to replicate itself and remain our not-so-loving big brother needs help.
(2) Conservative—They would be my pick for the next General Election. But this upcoming election is too soon in which to reward the Tories with seats, and reward them for what? Simply opposing Labour? I need to hear fresher and more original ideas from the Conservatives. Also, this election also comes too soon after the MP expenses scandal in which the Tories fared as badly as Labour. David Cameron has done a good job to patch up the damage, ousting the fleecing MPs from their seats and laying it on the line to the party in general. But Mr. Cameron still has work to do and he needs to get it done over the next year, especially with regard to convicing me (and the rest of the public) that the Tories will stand up to the E.U. over its diktats.
(3) Liberal Democrats—They are not much better than the American version, and while I certainly agree with them on one or two issues, it would take a massive dose of LSD—not that I've ever tried it—to get me to endorse these Europhile Lefties.
(4) Green—Pretty much what I've said about the Lib Dems. They cannot convince me that they're not really Red in disguise.
(5) United Kingdom Independence Party—While I appreciate UKIP's basic premise of severing our ties to the E.U. and restoring full British sovereignty, they seem like a one-trick pony. I have never heard much from UKIP aside from "Out of Europe!" What else do these guys stand for, if anything?
(6) British National Party—Anti-Semitic racists and fascist troublemakers. No matter how respectable they try to come across, they're only sprinkling sugar on their poop. And in their spare time, that's exactly what BNP members push through the letterslots of anyone who dares not to be white and British.
(7) The Christian Party/Christian Peoples Alliance—Now here's an interesting party for you. The Christian Party, of course, stands for Christianity and the recognition that our freedom of life in Britain and Europe derive from that faith. But they also stand for conservative values. They claim that they can provide a real alternative to the BNP. The Christian Party opposes the European superstate, wants to expose European corruption, desires a fair but firm immigration policy, intends to beat the Greens at their own game by moving away from carbon-based policies, and endorses "compassionate conservative" ideas on social justice, trade and the economy.
The idea of the BNP gaining seats to represent Britain in Europe is horrifying, but it is also reality. It would appear that only UKIP or the Christian Party/Christian Peoples Alliance can siphon votes from those who are angry enough to vote for the BNP, but just intelligent or moral enough to feel no pride in so doing. These voters only want to send a serious message to the powers that be, and they need an alternative; indeed, it is crucial. I believe that the Christian Party is that alternative and deserves the chance to prove its mettle.
Nightdragon endorses The Christian Party/Christian Peoples Alliance
for the June 4 elections.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ross: Much ado about nothing

Let's get one thing straight right off the mark: I don't like Jonathan Ross. Not only is he a scandalously overpaid talk-show host, but he revels in being a scandalously overpaid talk-show host to the point of insensitivity (Ross chose to joke over the £6 million he earns for his show while 1, 800 people lost their jobs at the BBC due to budget cuts).
He's touted as one of the best comedians that Britain's ever produced, but his comic skills are mediocre at best. All Ross ever usually does for me is make me sick. If I observed him drowning, I'd throw him a cement block.
Given the furious reaction of the public to the Manuelgate incident, I'd hoped that the BBC would see the sense in permanently cancelling his Friday night TV show from their line-up. But of course, the BBC being the pureblind corporation that it is, they elected on merely suspending the show for three months instead, which did nothing toward doling out to Ross the large dose of humility that he so desperately needs.
Naturally, it's no surprise that he's in trouble again, for comments he made on his BBC Radio 2 program. Ross is not the sort of man who learns from his mistakes.
However, I wish to defend him here. Yep, though it hurts, I've got to say that Ross really did nothing wrong in this instance.
With reference to Hannah Montana-themed prizes being given away in a competition, Ross joked: "If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings his ... erm ... partner home." Radio 2 report that they've had a number of complaints about that remark, enough to possibly land Ross in hot water yet again.
Perhaps joking about giving a gay son up for adoption is over the top. But, having a laugh over the possibility of any young male wanting a Hannah Montana MP3 player is something I too would do. In fact, I fully admit, when I first read Ross's quip, I chuckled. But to call me a homophobe would offend me and it would be a dead-wrong assertion.
Jonathan Ross should have been humbled six months ago. That was a missed opportunity. And it is right that he be reviled for joking about unemployment. But haranguing the man for being a homophobe due to one silly little joke is going a bit far.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Meet fire with fire indeed

Previously published by Blogcritics

Massive kudos to Birmingham Mail columnist Maureen Messent whose recent column concerning Somali pirates is right on the money.
For those of you who can't be bothered to click on the link and read the entire piece, just one paragraph from the column should suffice:
And let’s not pretend these predators are our equals deserving of our respect. Blowing a few of their boats to smithereens, along with their crews, is the sole language they will understand.

Hallelujah, sister! Here's at least one Brit who hasn't drunk the Tabernacle of Political Correctness's Kool-aid, one Brit who isn't a slave to wimpy and culturally suicidal European notions of what constitutes "human rights," one Brit who gets it.
Let me man the guns and I'll happily blow every single one of these sub-human apes to smithereens and I'll still sleep very comfortably, thank you very much. In fact, I wouldn't even fucking hesitate.
Exactly how do we prove ourselves better than the pirates, the Taliban or any other assorted terrorist scum by respecting their so-called humanity? Why are they deserving of it?
If they have absolutely no notion of human rights, leniency or mercy, and aren't inclined to extend any of it to us, I don't see why they themselves should receive any in return. What are we Westerners proving with our "enlightened" attitude toward them? That we're stupid, naïve and, as aforementioned, culturally suicidal? Absolutely. As Michael Ignatieff points out in his book "Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry," the West, with its knee-jerk political correctness, is forsaking its political heritage of individualism, in the process eroding the foundations upon which a universal system of human rights may be built.
This brings to mind a letter-to-the-editor somebody had written to a London newspaper complaining about the treatment one of the captured pirates, a 16-year-old, who was captured by the U.S. and extradited there. The letter writer bemoaned the "African being brought to America in chains." Which just goes to show that even with that half-black hippy in the White House, anti-Americanism still runs strong (or that some people apparently believe we're still living 200 years in the past). If not even Obama is decrying the fate of this innocent little lamb-to-the-slaughter, that ought to provide a clue; but then Obama did vow to stand up to the pirates which is what any sensible person would do.
Believe me, all this talk about respecting human rights and having to show compassion, leniency and mercy to our sworn enemies is just the sort of claptrap worthy of the Left-wingers who spout it, those Westerners who hate their society, their culure and themselves. It is sentiment to be expected of those who identify with the world's rag-tag rabble, the language of solidarity with those who deserve nothing more than a body ridden with bullet holes and a dumping in the nearest garbage incinerator.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Nightdragon, the amateur entymologist

During a recent trip to central Florida, I had the chance to employ my amateur knowledge of entymology. (I've been casually studying insects since the age of 9, and I took two semesters of entymology for my Associates Degree eons ago.)
While standing on the balcony of our motel, overlooking the pool, I heard a slight flutter, felt something touch my leg and then hop off. I looked down and saw an insect just like this one:

Once I got over the incredible thought that a six-legged freak show like this had actually been on my person—I performed a quick little "eww, eww" dance to commemorate it—I stooped down to examine the creature.
When I got too close, it stretched out its wings as if to fly away, so I immediately backed off. I checked the insect out from all angles, as closely as I could without it feeling threatened.
"It's not a cricket," I said to myself. "And I'm pretty sure it's not a beetle." I looked at the head, the overall body shape and the way its wings were folded, and determined it to be a bug—that is, a true bug, a member of the order Hemiptera. (All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs.)
Only problem is, I had never seen a bug this large.
Once I was home, I did a search for "Florida bugs" and I came to the Florida leaf-footed bug, Acanthocephala femorata, and immediately recognized it. All I had to go on was the overall head and body shape, but I knew a bug when I saw one. Made me feel rather proud.
I also wrestled with this creature too, although I'm pretty sure it's not an insect, bug or otherwise!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Death of a newspaper salesman: A case of anti-police sentiment gone too far

Previously published on Blogcritics

I've long since tired of hearing about poor ol' Ian Tomlinson. Who's he, you ask? If you were to believe any of the anti-police sentiment surrounding the incidence of his death, you'd think he was a completely innocent man on his way home from work, an angelic bystander who got attacked by the police for no reason.
Well, it's a bit more involved than that.
On the day of the anti-capitalist G20 protests that shut the City of London down on April 1, Tomlinson, a newspaper seller, was standing in the way of a police van in the middle of the road, smoking a cigarette, and telling the police where they could go and what they could do with themselves. After stubbornly standing in their way for several minutes, Tomlinson was forced out of the way by riot officers.

Tomlinson continued to dawdle around the City for a half-hour after the incident, when he was shoved to the ground by an officer, who probably recognized him as a troublemaker. Witnesses say that Tomlinson reeked of alcohol. Tomlinson got back up moments later, after remonstrating with the officer who pushed him, and walked 200 feet before collapsing and dying. Initial reports were that Tomlinson died of a heart attack, though post-mortems revealed internal bleeding or an "abdominal haemorrhage."
So there you have it: This "innocent bystander" was a moron, a drunken slob, a defiant British bulldog type, with his cigarettes, his sweat pants and his "don't you tell me what to do, mate" attitude.
Yet people were outraged at his death, setting up a memorial to him outside the Bank of England and holding a memorial protest march for him on the following day, April 2. Which tells you all you need to know about how downgraded society has become. Our great caring liberal society needs a poster boy on which to hang their grievances against the police and Ian Tomlinson fit their bill perfectly.
Which brings up another loser who was on the receiving end of so much undeserved sympathy. Nicola Fisher, a former heroin addict and someone who hasn't done a day's work in all of her 35 years, attended the memorial "service" near the spot where Tomlinson died. When she started arguing with a police officer, a sargeant with the Territorial Support Group, the officer in question smashed her legs with his baton.
However, this young woman, who believes so fervently that capitalism is evil, sold her story to the newspapers for £50,000, using media mogul Max Clifford as her agent. She felt a great need to tell us of her "ordeal," yet Conservative London Assembly member Brian Coleman remarked that "all right-thinking people will have little sympathy for her," and I entirely agree. But, all too predictably, all you heard from the media was how a large, violent policeman cowardly attacked a 115-pound woman.
We bash the police far too much, and we love it when somebody stands up to them, no matter how much that somebody resembles pond scum. What is it about society and the media, that they will stick up for the criminal elements and scroungers, simply because they walked into a well-deserved instance of police brutality? Why do we place so much trust in these rent-a-mobs and the violent gatherings of The Great Unwashed, society's leeches who criticize law-abiding, hard-working folks for the "crime" of earning (and having) money.
In the case of Nicola Fisher, who waved her finger in the policeman's face, the officer perceived a threat and he acted on it. Tomlinson, who was shuffling along directly in front of the officers moments before his death, was perceived by the officer to be taunting them—which he just might have been—and the officer shoved him out of frustration. How on earth was the officer in question supposed to know that Tomlinson would die 15 minutes later?
The police, alas, are human and what's more, they do a very hard, thankless job and witness things that most people never do nor should ever have to. Except for right-wing tabloids, we never hear of policemen who die on the job, good policemen who took a bullet for a colleague or died in a crash or in any other way to protect the public from thugs. Our reporting on matters of the police is distorted.
As I say, the police are human and they make mistakes. They aren't perfect and a few of them are bad apples. But considering society's approach to them, it's a wonder so many men and women still apply for the job of protecting an ungrateful public.