Sunday, 30 November 2008

Thought for the day

"St Patrick is reputed to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland, but does St Timothy have the will to drive all the sock-puppets out of the UK's political blogosphere?"

Statporn: November 2008

Friday, 28 November 2008

Caramel Cameron: a man under pressure

If Damien Green released some information which was in the public interest, as David Cameron claims via the BBC, where is that information now? What is it? Always the most profound of all epistemological questions, can the leader of the Bendy Jihad ask such a hard question. I doubt it, there's hardly a wrinkle on his puffy little face. He doesn't know how to fight a fight any more than I am the Duke of York.

Friday Live Blog

7.00 - Got my bowl of malt wheaties and a nice cup of tea and just waiting for the pips to go ...

7.02 - Malties taste fine, just got the malty/milk/sugar mix exactly right today.

7.06 - Heard two mentions of the word 'Stalinesc' today on Radio 4. I'm sure I used it myself not too long ago. Just checked via Google to discover just 109 hits, so its clearly not a very useful word. Off to read the paper now, so back in a bit.

7.55 - Sorry to be away for so long, was just dropping the editor of Watford Area Arts Forum a line, hoping to secure a place in which to display art in public. Only five minutes to go to the eight o'clock news.

8.09 - just noticed that Lord Mandleson has not arrived yet. Traffic on the M1 must be bad today. Perhaps he's busy in the office shredding documents.

8.11 - FORWARD - ISSUE 12 arrived at 8.01. I'll give you edited highlights when I get the chance.

8.13 - We've just heard that the live link to New York has gone down. Sharon says she is desperately sorry for her fans here in the UK.

8.15 - We are going carry on, even without the lovely Mrs Osbourne. We Brits, we just never give up ...

8.22 - CSIP - E-Bulletin 55 arrived at 8.08. There is a debate on Dizzy discussing "scariness" today.

8.35 - A couple of blips in the previous line, which have now been ironed out. Sorry it's not right to let standards slip, Pogsurf apologises to our normal readers.

8.41 - It's an extraordinary thing to see you very own real-time biographer tapping away over at Bloggerheads. I'm not sure about his writing style, looks more like handwritten notes to me, and I really hope the book has a happy ending. I must take him up on the whole Clarkson thing sometime..

8.55 - "(a pseudonym is often chosen for purposes of anonymity; only in some contexts are they separate concepts)" - this is good from Tim and it reminds me that I was reading recently of an Existentialist philosopher who published mostly under assumed names. I think he was driving home the point that the work will stand the test of time, and this unconnected to the reputation of the author. I am more familiar with the "Luther Blissett" project, having seen the real Luther Blissett play from the 3rd division upwards.

8.59 - Curious thought that it took me being thrown out of Sunlight Cops for Tim to realise that they had already created his dream. His "membership" has been stalled for ages, and I just think it's nowhere near worth the bother. I got thrown out and I really am happy with the Groucho Marx train of thought about membership and clubs. Dali too.

9.47 - Thank you everyone for watching. We are now going to move on to our live studio debate ...

Something to look forward to: Friday Live Blog

Welcome news is that "Pogsurf" will be live-blogging right here from 7.00 am sharp, until 9.45 GMT. We hope to have newly ennobled Lord Mandleson here in the studio at around 7.35 am, as long a his car can make it through the ring road, and the lovely Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy, will definitely hooking-up via a live-blog link from New York. That will be in the after 8.15 am slot.

Hope you can join us. We are really going to try and push the bounds of blogging by just using bog standard Blogger technology to achieve this wonderful feat. In the mean time I'm going to leave you with this great picture of Mr Bear, as he waits with huge anticipation for the big moment at 7 o'clock.

No Brainer

Freedom at last

Nicked off of Watford Area Green Party's website, but I'm sure they won't mind. Sucking their bandwidth like a whore sucks a cock. Three naked men, one crazy man's head, great big logo, spurting column of water, and a trio of concrete balls. Sums up my home town quite well, don't you know.

Just in case anyone reads this, I have spell checked it before publishing. Te, he, my real name is Wisnem ...

Sock no more

I'll sock no more, if you two can give up being
dickheads for a year. Deal or no deal? ...

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Got a problem? Use dynamite!

"It's always dangerous ..." Is it? If so, what does dangerous mean?

Do nothing weather vanes are full of practical advice to justify why they are always idly flapping around in the wind. He could have said "It's not the right time ..." but what he implicitly means is: nothing can be done.

Danger means taking a risk, fighting for a cause, standing up for the things you believe in. To the bystanders and the idlers of this world, it looks quite dangerous. Its a job for adults - specifically big boys who you can trust with 10,000 volts, and Uzi sub-machine guns, and spanners, and drain rods. Of course what I mean is, people who get their hands dirty. People who train for a job, then do it. People with manuals and instruction lists and tools and grubby notebooks.

People who swan around in fancy cars, open garden fêtes, give speeches, promote their latest book don't generally fit the bill, excepting they may have played with big boys before they chose more dignified occupations. Just as an example, suppose you needed a Panzer tank driver in a rush, to fight your way through enemy lines. Who would you chose to drive it: Tony Blair or Norman Tebbit?

Dale means he's afraid to chose. He's out of the loop, he has no gossip to spread. He doesn't know what's going on. He never does, because he never really commits to a cause, and so people don't trust him. It could explain why he's so tetchy when he's needled. He just gives the first thing which comes into his head, instead of a more considered thought, based on some sort of expertise.

Got a dangerous situation which you want to make worse? Send for Dangerman Dale, and his little friend Motormouth Blaney.

Swapsies!

Dear Reader,

Share your Winterval 2008 projects here, and I'll drop a copy of the original pdf in the mail to you.

Happy hunting or gathering in 2009,

Martin

Thought For The Day


Today's thought was researched via Liberal Conspiracy, with the help of Gordon Brown and the Icelandic banking crisis.

Disagreeable Idiots

It's easy to see why Donal Blaney is a disagreeable idiot, but for me at least, it is harder to understand why Justin McKeating is.

Blaney puts on a brave face, but in reality he likes to be rude to people and then run away. I don't think it is acceptable to call a young lady a "media whore", and when I told this to Blaney in no uncertain terms, he hid.

On the other hand, McKeating puts on a sardonic face, presumably because he cannot reconcile his feelings about a subject, with the facts in hand. In essence he can't say what is right and what is wrong, because he is scared of making a commitment. He doesn't know what an authoritative voice sounds like, and so places far too much emphasis on psycho-babble. Knowing on which side he stands on in the big sock-puppet debate, he is untroubled by the fact the "sock-puppet" is completely undefined (save for Matt Buck's super cartoon), yet at the centre of a big debate about lying.

http://hackcartoonsdiary.com/2008/11/25/of-socks-puppets-and-free-socks/

Is there any humane way that two disagreeable idiots could be put in a cage together, and forced to fight to the death? I have no idea which one would win, nor even if the fight would ever commence. Others could catalyticaly poke them with long sticks, to see if a reaction is possible. We need to sort out some of these big questions, otherwise we are in danger of disappearing down the very long plughole of sheer boredom.

Two scaredy cats, caged and being provoked by thugs with sticks: this would definitely be more fun than than a bastardisation of the ever popular LOLcats ...

Changing Of The Guard At Buckingham Palace

Scandal Sheets have a long history in political discourse. Being fact free, to protect the author from libel action, they don't tell you a lot about the subject, but they do tell you a lot about the publishers. Interesting to note that the most recent incarnation of the genre was just yesterday in the form of Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads. It wasn't to long ago that it was Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes fame that was devoting his time to writing nonsense. Paul seems to have gone a lot more (yawn) political these days. Any minute I am expecting him to declare for a political party, something he always swore he wouldn't do.

Curiously, Tim seems to have published his own version upside down. He's a subversive subverter, which is surely always the very best kind.

So what message is Tim and his co-conspirators trying to send? Basically, Tim believes that Andrew Gilligan is lying when he denies "allegations" of "sock-puppetry". I use the double quotes advisedly because none are really brave enough to call Gilligan a liar. Half of me wishes they would, to push the whole sorry saga along a bit, but then again you could say why not just sit around and wait for the fireworks.

It's a strange kind of perversion that you are desperate to say something about something, but are just too frit to speak out. Events in your head take on a much stronger role, and events in the real world become unfathomable. I'm not postulating, I'm speaking from experience here. But eventually everything starts to sort itself out again, and you land straight back into reality with a thud.

Paul's own nemesis, back in his student days at Hull was the BNP. Too frightened to speak out about them, he descended into the absurd "anything goes" world of the libertarian. Interesting to spot just a few days ago that he believed quotations should be "exact". Precisely. But not for the reasons that you believe Paul. It's more about showing your subject proper respect, and acknowledging their influence on your own position. I'd love to discover any statement Staines has ever made which actually defines his libertarianism, for a proper forensic dissection. So far his career into philosophy has been nothing more than to hang around with a lot of sweary mates.


And so, just as it is that I am Staines' real-time Jake Balokowsky, Ireland is mine. So for my future biographer to untangle I should show my commitment to some cause, for him to ponder about as he heads for the Coke dispenser, maybe thinking "Christ, isn't Andrew Motion a bore?". Please enjoy this beautifully produced poster from the London Bulgarian Choir. I can totally assure you that their work is tremendous, and I have never had a free ticket off them in my life.

Clueless - It's the best place to be

I frequently get the feeling that the contributors and commentators on the left-wing alliance website Liberal Conspiracy haven't got a clue. How would it feel if the Government couldn't sell Che Guevara t-shirts to socialists? Its not really a feeling, anyway, its more of an economic question. Hundal's confusion of economics with emotions is unlikely to trouble the government too much, but it is enlightening that so many of his acolytes fail to spot it.

There must be a name for people who confuse concepts with their own emotions - emotionalists maybe*. But can they tell us anything useful about Government policy, aside from the fact that they don't like it. Probably not, but it can be fun watching them try.

Liberal Conspiracy is almost a fact free zone. Whereas Sherlock Holmes spent may long hours, searching for clues with his oversized magnifying glass, contributors and commentators on LC alike dispense with these old-fashioned pleasantries and dive-in for a fact-free wallow in their own emotions. Because we are talking about emotions here, almost nothing is subject to challenge, and they get very, very shirty if you do. Yesterday I suggested that Dear Guido was doing a good job ironing out wrinkles in Gordon Brown's strategy, today we meet the people who just want him to look good in those newly ironed shirts.

Hundal asks us what he assumes is a rhetorical question: Why is the government losing the argument? He doesn't show any grounds for this, he just assumes we all feel just as he does. There's quite a bit of difference between clueless and without a clue. My remedy for the LC site is for its participants to adopt giant magnifying glasses for the day, to see if they can spot the clues they are missing. If you want to take part in this site, it can be great fun. It's the only website I have found that bans "sarcasm", the dread emotion of emotionalists clearly. Be ready for some quite surprising responses though, if you really try to engage in a political discussion.


*This was just a lucky guess, it felt right to me and when I looked it up it does seem to be the correct definition

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wanted: Madman on the loose

The man who wrote this has got a £5,000 reward on his head:

http://www.hertfordshire.freeserve.co.uk/Fairytales/index.html

It might seem worth collecting, except the rest of his body is attached. (see earlier photo)

Totting Up The Losses

I have a large pickle jar which is full to the brim with 5p pieces. I sealed it over a year ago with wax and a paper cover tied with string. My friend, his wife and their two twin boys were here on Sunday. They had a little pile of coins of their own which they were repeatedly grabbing off each other. Because I really am Mr Bear in this house at least, I broke up the fight but showing them my jar of coins. They were impressed, and minutes later they were playing happily with a tin I received last Christmas that used to contain chocolate spiders, that now doubles up as a money box. The boys were as happy as larry feeding coins into the slot. As chief banker, I think I managed to change a grasping economy of me, me, me! into a thrifty economy of savers.

But what puzzles me is that the jar has exactly the same number of coins in it as it did last year. With all this talk of banking crisis, I haven't lost a single 5p (I'm out of work at the moment, but that's another thing). So if I can go down the shops and buy exactly as many 5p chews, and it would be a lot but I don't know how many, why do I keep hearing of a banking crisis, and how we a suddenly all going to get a lot poorer? Where has all the money gone? Does the fact that I hoard 5p's* mean that I am dragging down the economy by not spending them, or does it stabilise the economy because of my thrifty ways? If anyone wants to join me on what could be termed Mr Bear's Teach Yourself Economics course, they would be very welcome.


*Nice, managed to get one of those impossible apostrophes in where they don't stand for a missing letter or the possessive.

Scary Monsters In My Head

Dizzy is not just dizzy, he's feeling a bit insecure ...

http://dizzythinks.net/2008/11/anyone-seen-my-security-pass.html

... nothing a big cuddle and warm cup of cocoa couldn't solve. Leave the light on Dizzy, if you are so afraid of the dark.

Hyperspace Gets You There Quicker

Poor drafting and a shoddy editorial process has probably led to Matt Buck being FORCED to issue a correction and clarification to the notes which accompany this cartoon.

http://hackcartoonsdiary.com/2008/11/25/of-socks-puppets-and-free-socks/

Sheer Irony

Send for Guido, he can iron out the wrinkles in Gordon Brown's insane VAT cut.

Don't forget to address all your problems to Dear Guido ...

Headline News

Past Catches Up With Confused Non-Deceiver
Honest Socker spotted.



BenSix, if you would prefer I didn't broadcast this, comment here and I'll drop the posting.

Thought For The Day

There is an innocence in lying which is a sign of good faith in a cause.

Friedrich Nietzsche

As translated by Walter Kaufman in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, 2000, p283

Manuelgate: My Spin

I did something wrong recently. When I get something wrong I try to apologise. I haven't yet heard back from the person to whom my apology was directed, but it set me thinking about where my limits for decent behaviour are.

Manuelgate (or Sachsgate as I read elsewhere), the recently highly publicised incident where two radio presenters, Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand, used a recorded radio show to broadcast to the UK that Brand had slept with the grand-daughter of former Fawlty Towers co-star Andrew Sachs, is the backdrop I will use. My esteem for Brand has grown following the incident, and my esteem for Ross has diminished. This is the first time I have blogged about Manuelgate and I hope that by posting this now I will shed some light on my own moral position.

In summary Brand had slept with Sachs' grand-daughter, and had confided in Ross that this was the case. Between them they had thought it would be funny to ring up Sachs while they were on air, and to somehow "blurt out" this fact. The radio show was recorded, and has it happened Sachs did not answer his telephone. Brand and Ross did not have the sense to realise the potential dangers of recording such a revelation on Sachs' answerphone, and allowing the recorded radio programme on which appeared to be broadcast. In fact a number of calls were made to Sachs' answerphone machine in which Brand and Ross tried to "apologise". I put apologise in quotes because these were parodies of an apology, in which the two radio presenters were trying to be funny.

The BBC received a small number of complaints following the actual broadcast, but one of the people who was offended was Andrew Sachs. In a later broadcast Brand tried to apologise, but ruined the effect when he claimed that whatever was said before was in mitigation "funny".

Laughing "at" people isn't funny, laughing "with" people is. If I say "Slobodan is a slob" it is just an insult. If I change it to "Slobodan acts like a slob" I might be able to get some sort of comedic value out of the statement, and I make a risk because "acts like" is my judgement of his actions, and I might be wrong. To be funny, attack peoples actions, not the people themselves. To expand it fully, take a risk by judging the value of what they have done, and whether you believe it was worth the effort or not. If I say "Slobodan acts like a slob", he might say "I know I do, but never as slobbish as you". I am allowing Slobodan to embellish the story, and together we have made a "joke". Given the right context, it could be funny. If I had lazily just sad "Slobodan is a slob", what comeback does he have? What room have I left him to embellish the story?

We are all entitled to judge peoples actions, but not their reputations. You cannot create a "reputation" for someone else being a slob just by repeating the accusation, you have to go round to Slobodan's house and see whether it is tidy or not. If it is tidy, then you, and I should emphasize the word you, are a fool. You have said something which is not true. If you have said something which is not true, being big enough to apologise to the person directly, is a sign of your worth.

Brand and Ross were attempting to shock Sachs with their "revelation". Who cares who Brand has slept with, I don't. Similarly I don't broadcast who I've slept with. It's a private, intimate moment and that's how it will stay. But because Sachs is undoubtedly a loving man he would have been most uncomfortable for this to have come out via a radio broadcast. Brand and Ross were trying make Sachs uncomfortable and then were going to laugh at him. This is wrong. It's not humour, it is bullying. Had I heard the broadcast myself (I didn't) I would have been offended. What does offend me is that as a TV licence holder, some of that fee went on making a series of offensive telephone calls. The BBC has a reputation, and that reputation was being damaged by two of it's presenters breaking the law.

Sachs certainly, and possibly his grand-daughter could have gone to the police to raise a complaint. Sachs certainly is a forgiving man, and he didn't want to prolong the furore which developed when more and more licence holders understood what had happened.

So why is my respect for Brand enhanced, but not for Ross? Brand made a poor attempt at an apology, which made matters worse, then he made a decent apology where he showed proper respect for the work of Andrew Sachs. Further to this he resigned from his radio show at the BBC. He was helping to take the heat out of the situation by removing himself from the equation. BBC executives were not forced for too long to fret over whether they should sack him. Brand walked away.

Ross also made an apology. But he did not resign. Now his artist integrity is being questioned by the BBC who have placed restrictions on his performances. This is a far more serious problem for Ross than a three month suspension. It indicates that the BBC no longer trusts Ross to get it right on his own.

Ross is entitled to behave as he likes, but his reputation is now becoming damaged. The "message" the BBC sends out is don't trust this man. If you can read messages like this you will understand that Ross is nothing but a bully who egged Brand on. Brand is man enough to walk away, Ross believes a man has to stand his ground.

Anyone want to take a bet on whether Ross is sacked before or after he returns to the BBC? My guess is he will return, but he will be sacked before his contract reaches its end. Even Tangoman knows a bully when he sees one. Do you?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Tying My Flag To The Mast

Phew! They we're getting me cross for a moment there on Liberal Conspiracy. Here's what I wrote immediately following yet another denial by Andrew Gilligan:
Hear, Hear.

What a sad collection LC is turning out to be. Why do the majority of commenters on LC believe that attacking the reputation of one man serves any useful purpose? Why do you seek to hide the comments of those who laugh at your nonsense?

Liberal: sometimes. Conspiracy: definitely.
It seems to have survived the moderators. Time for bed now. Maybe it's better to say I was getting cross at them, either way the eyelids are dropping so I am going to be off to sleep quite soon.

Thus Spake Gilligan

I repeat, because you have not answered it, the charge I make: that your blog consists almost entirely of cutting and pasting other people’s work, notably Ken Livingstone press releases, for which you became quite notorious during the campaign, and since.
Oh happy, happy day. The Gilligan has landed. Straight from the real world, he has gracefully descended upon the rats and filth-mongers who inhabit Liberal Conspiracy. If Gilligan speaks the truth, then Dave Hill's position will be untenable, and he should be thinking about resigning. But who can tell which of them has integrity on their side? Surely it is completely impossible for anyone outside journalism to untangle this unholy mess. It looks like this struggle of the Titans is going to run and run forever ...

One man am I, but I have many names ...

Confronting Your Inner Demons - Presenting Your Best Face To The World

Just off out to buy a copy of the Daily Mail. I understand that the excellent Julie Moult writes for them, but I am not sure on which days.

Normal blogging will resume shortly ...

Blogosphere's Reputation In Tatters

The blogosphere has been severely compromised by the "outing" of Andrew Gilligan as a "sockpuppet". But who will conduct the enquiry into what went wrong? Clearly this is simply impossible for the mainstream press. Someone at the heart of the blogosphere has been lying for a very long time, and they should be exposed. These are not "normal times" and the normal rules of Netiquette should be suspended for the foreseeable future so that a proper enquiry is conducted.

The net has got to get its house in order.

I nominate:
It is only after a full enquiry has been conducted, and a few irresponsible idiots named and shamed that this whole sorry saga can be brought to a close.

Purer Than Subversion

Quite a nice shoot there of Andrew Gilligan, a journalist who writes for the Evening Standard. I've pinched the photo, obviously, but I don't think they will mind.


It's hard to know where to start with this one, it seems that there are not enough superlatives to describe this man. I'll start with:

  • Gilligan is truth
  • Gilligan is light
  • Gilligan is knowledge
  • Gilligan is honour
  • Gilligan is dignity
My sincerest congratulations for holding out through the Tory Troll shitstorm. My warmest wishes to you, and yes I did buy your paper yesterday, and I enjoyed your opinions about the state of the built environment in London.

I should have stated an interest right at the start of this post, but as I have always been very much the junior partner, I wanted to get my glowing references in first. I have learnt a lot during our relationship. I think we are all just beginning to understand the difference between blogging and investigative journalism, and I salute your skills as a teacher.

To the choir: I am Kennite.

No Brainer

Oppressed minority MatGB dropped by, whining about JS Mills turning in his grave, and a whole load of other cobblers.

Fact: JS Mills can't turn in his grave, he died 135 years ago, and there would be precious little of a body remaining. In his time he was also an influential liberal thinker (note the emphasis MatGB) and contributed to the philosophical concept of utilitarianism. He was a secularist, so he wasn't all bad, and if MatGB comes back here whinging it will remind me to look up more of his work.

Fact: MatGB is probably a fascist and should be banned from all political websites in the UK.

Goodbye!
(I'm starting enjoy blogging again, when's the next one going to stumble in?)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Back to plan B

Just in case Tim Ireland is hovering over my shoulder, the first link posted below is not safe for work (NSFW).

I'm a late-comer to 4chan, having only spotted it fairly recently via some comment posters found on the Guido Fawkes blog. I was busily subverting the subverters, when I noticed some friendly humour creeping into some of the comments. I became interested in where other commenters might have sprung from, and so investigated links to other sites. In this way I came across what reputed to be 4chan's most lively channel, /b/.

It's a fascinating place. Posting is always connected to an image. The vast majority of contributors post anonymously. Nudey pictures, photoshopped images, cartoons, all sorts are popular. But what fascinates me is the language. I love the clipped way things are expressed, the slightly anarchic spelling, the repetition of key phrases. It's a great way to learn a new language.

Amongst it all, I like the oft used phrase:
You sir, are and idiot.
It makes a point, but it also gives you a way out, because of course me sir, is and idiot too. (I always used to annoy Guido Fawkes by telling him not to explain jokes, but there I've gone and done it myself.) It reminds me that when filling in surveys that request a job title, brian surgeon can be a witty choice.

I was only mentioning this because I spotted over on Iain Dale's blog that he will "revert to plan B (not that I have one :)". It suggests that he will soon be lost, but he's not that bothered. It's a nice phrase, I like it. As a sort of medal on the top right of this blog I carry the accolade from Iain of "Idiot". My advice is to not use it. There's no way out, your victim cannot answer back, because who listens to the words of an idiot anyway? Say instead say that that idea is idiotic, that is much more precise. You victim is unlikely to be a total idiot, more likely just a tormentor, who japes at your expense. Dale said it only once to me, so it would be well lost in the internet if I didn't hold onto it so closely.

Tim Ireland, I believe has a bigger problem. I made a comment over at Comment is Free today which fortunately now is lost and hidden. But it describes Tim's own use of the word, which is somewhat harder to lose. If you type the name of the particular journalist into Google Images, who I have no particular need or desire to name again, then you will see a picture of Tim looking back insulting the journalist. You did it to teach her a lesson Tim, but you were wrong. It's not a nice image Tim, but I'm afraid it's the one that you should see when you look in the mirror. It's not nice either Tim that you used your "reputation" to encourage others to play the same shitty game. To put it briefly, Tim, you and your shameful gang have just been "pwned" by a sockpuppet.

And to both of you fine Gentlemen I say:
You sirs, are and idiots! And don't do it again ;0)

Time For Change In Afghanistan?

After being so rude about Liberal Conspiracy earlier today, along comes this letter from Orzala Ashraf Nemat, an Afghan feminist who was in Washington at the time of Obama's election victory. I've not read it myself yet, but will post the link here as a reminder to do the same later.

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/11/24/a-letter-from-an-afghan-feminist/

Correction: Error of logic spotted

Apologies to regular readers of "Pogsurf". It has come to our notice that a logical fallacy has crept in via a faulty editorial process. Where the entity "hell" has been mentioned, it should be noted that according to the strict secular ethos of this blog, "hell" cannot be admitted as existing "in reality".

It has been determined by our standards committee that the exclamation that Andrew Gilligan should fry in hell should now be re-interpreted as a friendly piece of joshing, maybe even the suggestion that Andrew would enjoy a relaxing winter break in a warmer climate. Certainly the owners, editors, journalists and staff of Pogsurf in no way wish Mr Gilligan any harm, and would like to publicly associate ourselves with the stunning quality of his work (even though I can't remember reading any of it before).

I'm off out now to buy a copy of the Evening Standard. I think I know now how to spot a troofer from a goofer ...

How many liberals would it take to thump a racist?

I have been contributing to one or two threads over at Liberal Conspiracy.

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/08/26/the-gordon-brown-is-insane-meme/
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/11/18/bnp-loses-membership-list/
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/11/19/having-fun-with-the-bnp-list/
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/11/21/roflmfao/
http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/11/22/did-i-miss-hug-a-racist-day/

Don't worry if you don't go there. On the whole it is an example of lazy thinkers flocking together. Poorly researched, poorly argued for, drippy points clinging together through the oily gloopiness of liberalism. A shitfest of slur and counter-slur (against non-liberals), a smug bundle of non-challenging equal opportunities wimps clinging together too afraid to even take on another liberal in an argument. Boasting about how they will be "taking on" phantom "fascists", which stalk the darker recesses of their brains, but not the streets. Hoping against hope that someone else will come along and do the dirty work which their pretty pink hands are too delicate to touch.

I have enjoyed visiting there because now I know why I can't stand liberals. All I had to go on up until now was the sheafful of drossy Focus leaflets which are crammed through my door (with their collection of GCSE fail bar charts), and the jerks who infest the town hall on election day, who are too frightened to even look you in the eye.

Desperately afraid not to break the law, I expect they have similar fears about breaking wind. I'll complete my rant by showing just one contradictory bleat from a hopeful lamb:
I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list. But frankly if the publication of this list results in these sickos being driven out of politics completely then that would leave me unequivocally delighted.
What are you going to drive them out with then? Feathers? This doughnut brainery has me on the verge of getting my hair shorn, my jeans rolled up and my nicely polished DMs laced up and to personally go out and hunt down a lily-livered champion of democracy. It is only the prospect that having "I Hate Lib Dems" tattooed across my forehead may affect my future employment opportunities that brings me back to reality. Thinking, yes in the face of a chain welding, "Sieg Heilling", grimacing mob of yobbos, I would be a coward too. But at least I know I'm a coward. At least I don't expect my friends to smoother me with smugness and unknown others to fight my battles for me.

Little lambs in a field, aren't they lovely? Little lambs in a political party, aren't they the biggest possible menace our democracy faces?

Sockpuppetry: It's all the rage

I have never heard this type of criticism levelled at William Shakespeare:
Shakespeare? It's an outrage that he has more than one character in his plays.
Of course Shakespeare had something which I manifestly lack. Talent. He could write convincing roles for characters which groups of people played out on stage. They demonstrated passion, wit, humour, pathos, bad puns and all the other great range of emotions, forms of address, story-telling, lyricism, poetry and artistry which go into a play. Can you leave a performance feeling you have learnt something about human nature, politics, philosophy and the exercise of power. Clearly yes, because that is why, amongst other reasons of entertainment and even idling away time that people have kept going back over the centuries to watch performance after performance.

Fast forward to the present day. Let's try an analogy. Suppose a “blog” is not a blog, but a stage. Suppose that “contributors” are the actors. Here is a fragment of a script which I have just found:
Sunny Hundal: That is pure genius! “I should have joined UKIP instead” - ha ha!
Justin: Christ, not LC as well. This shitty little bandwagon rolled about a year ago.
Akela: Satire at its best!
When this script is read, how does the reader know how many people have written it? On the face of it, it looks like three people are exchanging their views, but it could equally well be two or just one. When it is read, I would expect that most people will “see” three people. Does it matter to the meaning if some rare person comes along, and instantly assumes that the entire posting is authored by just one person?

Back to the Shakespearian play. I can definitely see three people on stage. I “know” that the play was written by one person. Or do I? Leaving any historical evidence to one side, any particular play could have had one, two, three or any number of contributors to write the script. Does it add to, or take anything away from the performance to know precisely how many authors there were?

Blogs offer a bit more to a performance than old fashioned plays. You can take part too. You can interact with the one or more other participants you discover. But you can never know how many others there are, in the same way that you can if you conduct a conversation in a room. Why is your counting so important to you that it “offends” when you get it wrong?

If you can answer the questions posed here, you will be able to justify you anger at the phenomena called sockpuppets. Remember that sockpuppetry is both legal and offensive in exactly the same way that Punk Rockers are. And homosexuals, and gypsies, and chavs, and Nazis (both real and imagined), and Muslims, and Jews, and people who paint their front-doors a different colour to everyone else, and witches and fundamentalists and non-orthodox and ultra-orthodox and people who think or do things differently from you.

My technical challenge is this. If sockpuppetry is really so offensive to you, why do you not build blogs on which it couldn't possibly happen? Or are you happier spreading your bile then admitting that you lack the skills to address your problem?

Thank you for reading. You have just be introduced to the Theory of Number Rage. A posited explanation for the childish outburst of anger expressed by people upon discovering they don't know how to count.

Update: Oh and Mr Gilligan can go and fry in hell for all I care. If he's too weak to defend his own position, that's not my problem.

Update 2: I am declaring myself neutral with respect to the activities of any previous, present and future sockpuppets, my own excepted. However, I do reserve my right to comment on the ethical implications of the authors motives and any other action, because it is an area which interests me greatly. I mentioned to one or more ephemeral members of the blogosphere in an earlier conversation that socking is a feature, get over it. Learn to use it. I do not apologise for using an opportunity which presented itself on the "outing" of a journalist as a sockpuppet, as I believe this is an entirely appropriate place to debate the merits or otherwise of sockpuppeting. For the record, I condemn witch hunts, but I am quite happy with the notion of witchcraft.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

So It's Mob Rule Then

Liberal Conspiracy has chosen its path.
  • LOLGriffins - yep good fun.
  • Maps and graphics - no problem there.
  • Postcode search? - hmm, you are one click away from a street map of where the buggers live. Er no thanks.
Sunny tells us:
I have no sympathy for fascists. If others want to maintain their principles that’s fine. I’m staying this side of the law but that’s about it.
Sunny makes a tacit admission that he's gone beyond principles and that partisanship has taken over. Oh dear, a liberal who doesn't understand what liberal means. Afraid of the law, but not of dismantling democracy to settle a score. It will all end in tears...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Illiberal Liberal Spotted

For the purposes of irony I am quite content to accept the label of "vicious nihilist". In actual fact I consider myself to be existentialist. To some of my liberal detractors at least, nihilism and existentialism are indistinguishable. With the common liberal obsession about respectability the subtlety of the difference is likely to be lost on them anyway.

At existentialism's core is the belief that existence precedes meaning. Roughly translated this means that as you go through life you create your own meaning. Sometimes you get it wrong, sometimes it is difficult to see where the meaning lies, but on the whole it is an worthwhile and growing experience.

Having gone through such a journey it becomes possible to spot others who have created meaning, but lack the real courage to see it through to the end, or who have attached themselves to a philosophy without a clear insight as what the credo fully entails. I think I have spotted the latter kind in the person of Sunny Hundal, the editor of Liberal Conspiracy.

I first got a hint of it on a save Gordon Brown from insanity thread. Sunny said characterising Brown as insane was "despicable". Then he orchestrated a collection of like-minded bloggers to start a Paul Staines is insane meme. Personally, I can't type the word "despicable" without hearing it spluttered out by Looney Tunes very own Daffy Duck, so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Sunny was tickling rather than moralising. My own contribution comes across as long-winded and po faced if he was just stirring. Clearly I needed more concrete evidence to nail him.

Yesterdays news that the BNP had had what appears to be their entire membership list published via a blog surely provides the knockout blow. Commentators on Liberal Conspiracy fell into several tidy blocs: delighted at the BNP's ill-fortune; interested in who will be "exposed"; legally cautious about linking to the list, and so on. Then along came Sunny with:
Heh, tons of people have emailed it to me. By the way, why would linking to it be legally dangerous, out of interest?
and then:
It does occur to me though - we should download the list and trawl it for interesting nuggets or stories.
He's happy the list has been published. That's fine, nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of schadenfreude. Then he's questioning. Nothing wrong there either. Except in the next breath we find he has a project in mind. "We should" be trawling the list. Bear in mind that Sunny is the editor of Liberal Conspiracy, whose stated aims are:
  1. Have an intelligent conversation about liberal-left ideas and values.
  2. Campaign for liberal-left policies and causes.
  3. Get organised.
For me the clearest statement about what's gone wrong here was made by Benjamin:
There is no way sensible people can support breaching privacy and data protection, fundamental principles in a democracy. That is not the way to go.
Hear, hear Benjamin. You can't have privacy solely for your friends and for the people you like. In a democracy you have to have it for everyone, even the odious BNP. I am just someone who writes words on a blog, with no particular affiliation to Sunny or the LC blog. Much as the Liberal Conspiracy project might have aims and values to admire, who amongst Sunny's liberal friends are going to call him out on his own values?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Any Relation?

Epic Fail Guy Guido FawkesEpic Fail Guy



Guido Fawkes

These two guys quite like a rave-up. Can they possibly be related?

First Blogging Award for Pogsurf

The lovely Hazel Blears rang up today and asked if I would like a special award. She really is a sweetie! Hazel you really are such a cracking person, how could I turn you down?

(I must confess I had to look up the meaning of both "vicious" and "nihilist", but Hazel is so lovely that she couldn't possibly mean I am nasty or believe that I am a swine and that all things are swinish. She is so sweet that I'm sure she didn't mean that at all!!)

Love you Hazel, and I will always wear my Vicious Communities and Local Government Nihilist badge with pride.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Winterval is Getting Earlier and Earlier Each Year

It's always great to keep an eye out for the first sightings of Winterval. Maybe the flurry of snow which fell one night this previous week has brought it on earlier this year. As reported by the National Secular Society, Tories at Camden council
"[believe] that the renaming of Christmas as a “Winter Festival” or any other non-religious nomenclature is part of the systematic erosion of Christianity in modern life, which itself is the cause of the loss of our sense of national identity and cohesion."
Earlier, my interest in what is now universally referred to as the Atheist Bus led me take a look at the sponsoring organisation, the British Humanist Association. As an atheist myself, it would appear that I could fit in with their ideals. But my sticking point is the statement that "Humanism is the belief that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." Specifically it is the "good" part.

Firstly, who is to say what is good and what is bad? Increasingly I have come to believe that morality is connected only to a personal journey. Not that anything goes, but that we are each plotting a course through life, and morality is one of the environmental factors that are encountered along the way. There are no absolutes in terms of what is good and what is bad, but that good and bad are judgements upon decisions we have each made in a particular time and place. I am a strong believer that it is the actions that we can place judgements on, but judging the whole person is out of bounds. To take a recent example, we can say that certain actions of Saddam Hussein were wrong, or evil, but even a lifetime of such acts did not make Saddam an evil person. To label someone as evil is to prejudge all their actions to have evil intent. This is undesirable because it clouds our judgement, without adding anything useful about the subject of our condemnation. To aspire to lead a good life is to fall into the same trap: a bit of bad here, a bit of good there, but make sure it all adds up on the plus side. It might make sense, if you also believe that some supreme being is going to mark you against a target score at the end of your days. But to claim that you can weigh up concepts as unmeasurable as goodness and badness is stretching rationality beyond its breaking point.

My second objection is to the part that says "... Humanism is the belief ...". In rejecting religiosity I am steering clear of "beliefs". Of course I've got my own beliefs, but if I don't need deity based ones, why do I need humanist beliefs? Whoever it is that says what a humanist believes, it doesn't seem to be me.

Having rejected humanism as something I could prescribe to, I was pleased to come across the National Secular Society. Neatly describing secularism as the "separation of church from state", theirs is not a belief based moral mission, but a political aim. Particularly relevant to the United Kingdom, where twenty six Bishops have seats as of right in the upper house of parliament, the NSS aims to remove the influence of religious leaders from state institutions.

Personally I believe that it is demonstrable that religions such as Christianity have acquired pre-existing festivals and moulded them into a form which corresponds to scripture. My interest in Winterval is therefore partly an attempt to de-religiousify a perfectly sensible celebration of the colder months, and partly a tongue in cheek poke at the weird sensibilities of the pious. Well done to the NSS for spotting the first sign of Winterval!