Category Archives: Society

Posts about the good, and bad, bits in society

Dale Farm (not the yoghurt)

Tomorrow there will probably be a mass eviction of 86 traveller families at Dale Farm, Basildon, despite the opposition of bodies like Amnesty International and the UN’s expert on minority rights.
This eviction will apparently cost £18 million. Not a misprint. £209,302 plus change for every family evicted. About ten year’s wages at £20k, which is well above minimum wage. Financial crisis, my bum. There seems to plenty of spare public money for racial harassment. (Which, as far as I understand it, makes Basildon Council an international rogue council and potentially fair game for some sort of international invasion task force.)
If the historical parallels of where the new Euroracism seems to be heading aren’t clear enough, look at jewify.com. They’ve had the brilliant idea of rewriting newspaper pages and headlines by replacing words like “gypsy” and “traveller” with the word “Jew”.
Just look at the headline examples on the home page. I hope your blood runs cold.

Dystopia, UK

You just try getting to sleep in an undeclared war zone. Given the noise of helicopters and exploding vehicles, I suspect that there must be a film crew remaking Apocalypse Now outside my house.

The UK media has reported the riots with instant guesses about what’s happening and/or repeats of each other’s copy. The posh papers have been full of instant punditry. Online, these stories have been twat magnets for the far right’s minor army of hangers and floggers.

The BBC site provided a selection of UK riot stories from around the globe. Among the quotes, there were quite a few perceptive ones, such as this from the Chinese Renmin Ribao

“The Olympics will be hosted next year; the security situation in London, which has always been a first-choice site for terrorist attacks, will be even grimmer. British police now face two main problems. First, as the government cuts police funding in order to reduce the deficit, British police will carry out massive layoffs. With insufficient manpower and financial resources, they will inevitably be overwhelmed with problems in maintaining social order. Second, after the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, the credibility of the British police has declined and there is still a very long way to go in rebuilding the credibility of the police and restoring public support, says Qu Bing, Institute of European Studies, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.”

Obviously, there’s an element of irony there, for anyone who can remember the build up to the Beijing Olympics. But this one from Iran takes the irony biscuit:

Iran called for London police to exercise self-restraint in dealing with protesters in Tottenham, north of London. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast referred to Saturday night’s massive protests in Tottenham, which came following [the killing] of a young black man by Scotland Yard police and called for the UK government to avoid any police’s harsh treatment with protesters.

Mass killer apparently rewarded

Murder over 90 Norwegians and you’ll get a platform to explain why. WTF? The killer’s ludicrous and hate-filled “document” is already being spread across the world’s media. His lawyer said that he’ll make a full statement tomorrow, setting out why he felt that he had to carry out that act.

What sort of message does this send? In the face of the suffering of countless Norwegians – the dead, the wounded, their friends and families – the bastard is getting rewarded. He’s achieved worldwide fame, with a global platform to express views that you’d assume would empty a pub if he was spouting them at the bar.

Surely, he forfeited any freedom of speech right to spread anti-social propaganda with the death of the first victim, let alone when the death toll was coming up to 100.

And his views won’t just be spread by the man himself. They’ll be filtered through the very media that have already responded to the atrocity by feeding us an almost uninterrupted stream of anti-muslim nonsense. i.e. already serving his purpose. Here is particularly risible-if-it-wasn’t-serious US example.

At a time when you’d think that maybe the British media would be a mite humbled – in the face of the ongoing NewsCorp corruption scandals – the British press and tv have covered this story with their customary shamelessness. (Eg., the Sun initially described the far-right islamophobic nutter as “a muslim convert”.) There seems no way for the media to see any atrocity as not being somehow linked to Islamic extremism. Even if they have to invent the connection from whole cloth.

Charlie Brooker nails this perfectly, so, over to you Charlie Brooker.

God-bothering 101

You mightn’t realise that doorstep evangelists have to learn some sort of craft. But a you-tube video has Pastor Anderson showing newbs how to god-bother. The title is “Basic Soul-winning Demonstration Video (witnessing, gospel)” :

This video demonstrates how to win someone to the Lord start to finish. This method could be used in door-to-door soul-winning or in a casual situation with friends or family that are unsaved.

(Soul-winning would put a severe strain on any friendship.)

Spoiler alert

This video is youtube-linked to videos of crazy pastors getting tasered, or at least heckled. So you might watch this video waiting for him to get a seemingly well-deserved punch in the face.

In defiance of natural justice, this never happens.

Apology

Sorry. This blog mocked Pastor Anderson’s wife’s (now mercifully non-existent) blog in 2009. I expressed some sympathy for him, believing that he had got the worst of the spouse bargain. After looking at his you-tube performances, I now have to apologise for this error of judgement and concede that it is her who is getting the worst deal.

Urgent warning

If you live in a small town in Arizona, move house. Now.

Small Town Soul-Winning Program

Our church spends several hours a week out soul-winning in the greater Phoenix area. We are in the process of eventually knocking every door in our county. However, many small towns, or “villages” as the Bible calls them, scattered across Arizona and across America have never had a soul-winning Baptist church in their town. How will these people hear the Gospel? Many people live and die in small towns with no Gospel-preaching church. How shall they hear without a preacher?
Every 3 months, our church spends a Saturday knocking every single door in a small town in Arizona preaching the gospel to everyone who will listen. So far we have knocked every door in Gila Bend, Miami, Cordes Lakes, Congress, Strawberry, Kearny, Hayden, Winkelman, and Mammoth, and have had many, many people saved. Eventually our church will reach every small town in Arizona with the Gospel. (from their website)

It’s probably unwise to move to Norway, South Korea or Alaska, though. They have missionaries in all those places.

Making up numbers for fun and profit

Why buy ads when you can blag respected media organizations into publicising your company for free, as long as you can raise some public controversy (622 comments on this)?

An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.(from the BBC website)

Whereas achieving a gratuitous link on the BBC site can presumably double them….

The Confederation of British Industry weighed in with this ludicrous claim, based on a survey they did.

James Fothergill, the CBI’s head of education and skills, said: “Our recent research shows that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of school and college leavers and almost half have had to invest in remedial training to get their staff’s skills up to scratch.(from the BBC)

The first part (42%) may be accurate. Complaining about young people’s spelling is like complaining about the weather. Everyone over 25 does it and probably always has. But I am intrigued by the claim that “almost half” have paid for remedial English classes. That implies that 2% of bosses who don’t have a problem with young workers’ literacy have been paying for extra lessons.

To address these weaknesses, 44 per cent of employers have had to invest in remedial training for school and college leavers.(from HR_Inform report on the CBI survey)

Bosses are “investing” so money must be changing hands. ( This suggests that there must be a massive Remedial English industry. Intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a private training company advertising these courses.

Avid googling throws up a few remedial English courses but these all turn out to be courses in teaching Remedial English. Or they are courses in Remedial English for non-English speakers.

Education cuts have probably made it impossible to find a free public sector course. So, teachers of basic English and Maths – who’ve found themselves out of a job as our adult education colleges disappear – should set themselves up as Remedial English and Maths trainers and offer their services to the CBI. Who apparently know where there is a massive hidden cache of employers who are happy to pay for their skills…

Make your excuses and leave

The UK is daily seeing revelations of levels of institutional corruption that would have raised eyebrows in Amin’s Uganda. News International seem to have gone for full-scale subversion of any British institution they can get their hands on.

There’s an embarrassment of revelation riches. Scandals are spilling out at a rate that reminds you of the way that a convicted criminal might ask for hundreds of offences to be taken into consideration when he knows he’s going to jail anyway.
As a random instance: The Sun targeting Gordon Brown’s family. Including getting access to his disabled child’s medical records. And even having to invite the buggers to the funeral.
Hacking Brown was not even a well kept secret. It should have been the subject of a court case.

An unexpected ruling by a judge six years ago effectively covered up the chance to publicly expose evidence of the illegal targeting of Gordon Brown, which had been unearthed by a startled team of provincial detectives.
Operation Reproof, by Plymouth police, revealed the first of what became many systematic attempts to gain illegal confidential information on the prime minister and his family, but their findings were suppressed.
The Guardian has now been able to document the facts.
Files buried in police archives detail the discovery of an extraordinary nationwide network of private investigators, whom a corrupt local police officer was feeding with information filched from the police national computer (PNC) (from the Guardian)

Unlike Plymouth Police, the Metropolitan Police were allegedly so entangled in NI’s web of corruption and blackmail that they couldn’t do anything except contribute to the cover-ups.

(Even where NI misbehaviour involved a police detective, Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, a Crimewatch presenter targetted for daring to investigate the murder of a NI-employed private detective, whose partners – also NI-employed private detectives were suspects. )

You can’t really blame them when it seemed that every member of the British establishment was either cowed or complicit (or, more likely, both.)

Thus, it’s been left to people like comedian Steve Coogan and actor Hugh Grant to mount almost the only serious challenges to the evil empire.

I am pleased to see that the BSkyB bid finally looks unlikely to go through unchallenged. The Murdoch machine has almost brought the BBC to its knees in pursuit of its tv ambitions, so – blameless as Sky channels might be, in terms of hacking dead teenager’s phones – I’d like to see it fail.

Also, it’s nice to see that News Corp investors are finally questioning the company, although it seems a mite hypocritical for institutional investors to insist that Murdoch must have known what his papers were doing. Can investors really have been unaware of the nature of the business they were investing in? If so, I suggest sending them 412 scam letters immediately, because they have money to invest and are naive enough to believe anything.

Ever since Margaret Thatcher signed some Faustian deal with Murdoch, British society has been paying the price. Maybe, as Harriet Harman implied in an interview this week, all UK political parties should get together and ask News Corp “Can we have our country back, please?”

Health Ministry of Truth

Combining theThe War against Terror with The War Against the National Health Service, the UK Home Secretary is about to propose that doctors be co-opted into the TWAT, by reporting on potential terrorists amongst their patients.

Doctors and other health professionals will be asked to identify people who are “vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism” as part of the government’s redrawn counter-terrorism programme to be detailed on Tuesday. (from The Guardian)

In a departure from recent government style, it seems that, for once, the Lib-Dems aren’t even being used as a human shield for this particular mad idea. Theresa May is putting it forward herself.

Theresa May and her advisers didn’t grow up in Fairyland, so they may have had occasion to visit a doctor. In which case, they should have noticed that, although doctors ask patients some very personal questions indeed, they don’t normally ask about plans to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Doctors are indeed often too busy to ask where we stand on the single transferable vote or the extension of the eurozone. How wonderfully relaxed must some surgeries be, if doctors can take the time to engage their patients on a wide range of political topics and rank their answers on an extremism scale?

Temporarily ignore the monstrousness of treating medical confidentiality as a disposable luxury. This plan doesn’t even make sense in pragmatic terms. Potential terrorists can avoid getting caught by it by the simple expedient of not discussing their views with doctors. Can this be beyond the wit of even the stupidest terrorist?

Do we really have an Oxford-educated Home Secretary who believes that a terrorist will walk into his local surgery and says “I’ve got a bit of a sore throat but I’m planning an explosive attack on a plane this week and I’d hate to miss it”?

On message

The UK Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones has resigned her job.
Why so, you say?

“She will take up a new role working with businesses to boost their cyber security.” (a/c to the BBC)

…straight from government into a related private sector role.. how charmingly secure is that?…. (And, don’t worry, serfs, another Baroness is taking over.)

The BBC story implies that government ministers are engaged in some sort of SEO exercise to own the key phrase “essential rebalancing of security and liberty” on Google. (No, I don’t know why anyone would want to either, but the evidence is overwhelming.)

“I have also been able to contribute to the essential rebalancing of security and liberty in the review of counter-terrorism powers, the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society’, and to the redirection of the Prevent strategy which is nearing completion.”

Home Secretary Theresa May thanked Baroness Neville-Jones “for her hard work, both in opposition and in government, contributing to the rebalancing of security and liberty as well as participating in the work of the National Security Council”.

Cameron’s response is a paraphrase that manages to avoid the ugly “rebalancing” word while still hitting the jackpot.:

“You have helped to ensure that security and liberty are more appropriately balanced and dramatically strengthened the government’s strategy to prevent young minds being poisoned and radicalised,”

Credible as the others’ efforts are, however, the Baroness has achieved a full Tory key phrase home run :

“the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society‘”

You will have already spotted that none of these phrases have any meaning. they are the verbal equivalent of fog.

It all seems a bit odd. As the Baroness is leaving the government, why does she feel so compelled to continue to kiss linguistic ass? What on earth does a knee-jerk-right-wing-pleasing swipe at “multiculturalism” have to do with national security, anyway? And, surely, even the PM must be finding the “Big Society” catchphrase something of an embarrassment by now?

Anyway, enough rebalancing of blog silence and blog production for me. I’m off to embed myself.

“Christian” conflict manufacture

A UK court has sensibly ruled that a couple of self-styled “traditional Christians” can’t be foster carers because of their views on gay people.
Has the High Court suddenly taken to ruling on foster carers’ acceptability on a case by case basis?

At the High Court, they asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.(from the BBC)

Ah. So it was the couple who took the case to the High Court, then. Generally not the most cost-effective action. In fact, a High Court case usually costs thousands of pounds. You might think that, as “traditional Christians”, they maybe could have given all the money that this cost to the poor, instead. However, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount words, in the lost Gospel of Perrymason, clearly stated that “whosoever will take legal action in the name of prejudice shall inherit the earth”
The BBC reported that the

.. Christian Legal Centre reacted to the ruling with dismay and warned that “fostering by Christians is now in doubt”.

It’s our old friends, the Christian Legal Centre, who are – of course – neither the paralegal wing of the Anglican Church nor a crack tactical team of solicitors operating out of the Vatican.
I’d hate to be represented by them, given their cavalier treatment of the facts (so it’s a good job that I’m not a fundamentalist Christian with a legal problem.) The judges in the case explicitly said that this ruling didn’t imply that religious belief was a bar to adoption and fostering, only that laws protecting people from discrimination must take precedence.
So, “fostering by Christians is now in doubt” can best be put in the ever-expanding category of “lying for Jesus”.
The headline for this story on their site is:

“Breaking News: High Court Judgment suggests Christian beliefs harmful to children. Fostering by Christians now in doubt.”

I would refer them to the words of the judges in the case:

“No one is asserting that Christians – or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims – are not fit and proper persons to foster or adopt. No-one is contending for a blanket ban.”

Sorry, m’luds, that just wasn’t clear enough for the Christian Legal Centre’s lawyers to understand.
However, you have to assume that they did understand perfectly but don’t want anyone else to. The true purpose of the Christian Legal Centre seems to be to get free media exposure – witness their media page – by acting as rent-a-quotes always happy to misrepresent their strange ideas as the “Christian” view whenever media researchers are stuck for a soundbite.
(The couple with a bed and breakfast hotel who got prosecuted for refusing a room to a gay couple were their last major media success story a few weeks ago)
Ok, you have to take off your hat to the skillful marketing and you even have to feel a bit sorry for the low-level big*ts who are their cannon fodder.
But all the same, it seriously pisses me off that they are winning every skirmish in their campaign to convince the average Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph and Star reading idiot in the UK that “Christians” are under threat .

Threatening teachers

Lord Hill (the Schools Minister, do keep up at the back there) has written to the heads of schools wanting to become academies to threaten them that they can’t become academies if they reach agreement with the NAS/UWT union.

Lord Hill has threatened headteachers that their bid for academy status is in jeopardy if they enter into any agreement with the NASUWT to maintain national pay and conditions of service.(from the NAS/UWT site)

Here’s the offending document. I can’t work out how to link to it so I’ve copied and pasted it here, with apologies to the NAS.UWT.
LORD HILL LETTER TO ACADEMIES JAN 2011.pdf

Lord Hill says in his first paragraph that “We consider the freedom to set the pay and conditions of staff to be one of the key freedoms of Academy status.”

If the reader is under any illusion that these “key freedoms” include “paying staff over the national rate”, he threatens that any school that reaches an agreement to keep to the national rate will not get Academy status.

Maybe my English Comprehension skills just aren’t up to the appropriate standard but this threat seems pretty clear. I never studied Fundamentals of English/European Law but the legality of this seems at least doubtful.

The NAS/UWT seem to be of the same opinion:

The letter also offers advice on academy conversion that, if followed, would place schools in breach of their statutory obligations, leaving them vulnerable to legal action.
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary,said:
“Quite frankly, I am astonished that a Minister would commit to writing such threats and deeply flawed advice.
“For a peer and a Minister to encourage the flouting of the law is, I believe, unprecedented.

“Academies” aren’t exactly covered in glory, as it is, even before they are entered in an unseemly rush for the cheapest teachers.

On 12 January Sky News reported that

Around a quarter of the worst performing secondary schools in England are academies, according to the latest set of league tables.”

Quite how bad are these academies going to be when they only employ teachers on lower pay and conditions?

Teasmade or Toaster Britain

Spare a thought for the home workers and shift workers whose workday doesn’t require them to respond to an alarm clock (and for those chirpy “morning people” people who don’t need an alarm.) Nick Clegg clearly doesn’t see them as Heroes.

I quote (sneeringly):

HARD-WORKING Brits are the backbone of the country, the people who will drag us out of recession, says deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, writing in the Sun.

(http://planetsmilies.net/vomit-smiley-9529.gif)

Ordinary, willing folk – dubbed Alarm Clock Britain because they snub the benefits culture and get up early to go to work – will be given Government support.

Surely, waking up when your alarm clock goes off is is setting the “Hero” bar a bit low? But, I’m personally a bit relieved. I’d never get a “Hero” award in the traditional ways: saving my comrades’ lives under fire; diving into frozen rivers to rescue drowning dogs; dragging unconscious children from burning buildings…

But I sure as hell can wake up. (Eventually. Long after the infernal machine has been blaring out a radio station that I chose precisely because it’s too vile to sleep through)

So, you can call me a “Heroine”. I was really hoping for some sort of gallantry award, but I would always welcome some government help in getting up in the morning.

Help such as a new toaster that didn’t set off the fire alarm on a regular basis. (Yes, the fire alarm is good as an alarm clock but you have to be awake to put toast in the machine first.)

What about the traditional Teasmade? It’s a machine that wakes you up with a pot of tea. I recently saw a 1950s catalogue offering an ancient model. Here’s a new one. It’s not as cute, in fact, it looks even more retro, than the original did but I’ll welcome one from the coalition as the most effective way it could help me as representative of Alarm Clock Britain.

Ironically, toasters and alarm clocks are all made in China, now. Like pretty well everything.

Huge numbers of people in the UK are out of work or under threat of losing their jobs. This situation is about to get much worse, thanks to the cut of about a third of public sector jobs.

So, to be honest, Nick, the best way you could help British “alarm clock heroes” would be to make sure that they had jobs to get up for or at least not throw millions more out of work.

Catch a Fire

It’s a shock to find out how batshit the god of abraham is, in the minds of some of his believers. A Pharyngula post pointed me to the catch the fire ministries site.

I’ll temporarily ignore the callous insult to suffering Australians. (I’m also ignoring my mental image of an old Bob Marley “Catch a fire” album packaged in an openable cardboard zippo lighter shape.)

This catch-the-fire site thinks believes that their god is ravaging Australia in order to send a message to the USA (!) Even stranger, the message is that what has offended their god to the point of major smiting was the mere suggestion of sending nuclear weapons inspectors into Israel.

No, really, I m not making this up. From their very web page:

“.. I was reminded of Kevin Rudd speaking against Israel in Israel on 14th December 2010. It is very interesting that Kevin Rudd is from QLD. Is God trying to get our attention? Yes, I believe so.
……..
Mr Rudd not only called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but said it should open all its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors.

God is apparently enraged at the mere suggestion that his chosen people might have some limits placed on their possession of WMD? At the same time, the creator of the universe is so lacking in his vaunted omnipotence that he can’t even express that apparently simple message in any other way than by visiting mass destruction on a continent half a world away from Israel or the USA.

Lucky that some prophetic wingnuts were on hand to pick up and transmit his message in human speech. And, pray for forgiveness on behalf of the Australians, who have accidentally fostered the very man who forced god to carry out this devastating action.

Around 8pm on Friday night the 7th of January we had a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit to repent on behalf of Australia. As we started doing so, I was reminded that every time America went against Israel, there was disaster in the land and this has been documented over the years.

(Given the US’s track record in standing against Israel, it looks as if the US should be close to totally disaster-free by now.) It must be a great comfort to the Australians to know that random Americans are apologising for them.)

Who would ever dream up a god who was certifiably insane? And then decide to worship them?

Weather news

Here at Whydontyou towers we’re saddened to find that this blog has been updated so rarely in the recent past* that its reign over the realm of Whydontyou has been challenged by an alien blog called ydontyou (which I am buggered if I’m going to post a link to.) It feels like the identity theft that we are all meant to worry ourselves sick over.

In case you’ve ever visited it and think we’ve changed completely, that site has nothing to do with the one true whydontyou blog. (Which – to be fair – has nothing to do with the ancient kid’s tv programme that we stole our name from. Oh bugger, pot -kettle, I fear.) However, I see that the evil usurper is trying to be a blog of random posts by anyone who cares to blog. Which:

a) tempts me to post anonymous posts there (but I won’t because the spacetime continuum could be disrupted by the paradox and some strange singularity would occur.)

b) puts me in mind of the income-challenged real media which seems to be getting ever more desperate keen to replace paid journalistic copy with opinions and photos from anyone who cares to send in free content. (Almost by definition, normally lunatics.)

It was bad enough when the media, overwhelmed by the volume of wikileaks material, asked people to submit their own findings from the mass of data. How lazy can you get? How mean, also, to replace professional researchers with free labour? Even unpaid “intern” researchers hope to make contacts and have something to put on application forms. Public content-providers don’t even get that carrot.

But now it’s the winter. It is strange enough that snow in Southern England has occupied the main headlines on the BBC and Guardian websites for days.

You might expect the media might report the existence of snow on the weather pages and traffic delays on the traffic delay pages and leave news pages to focus on people at risk of death from cold – the homeless, the poor, the very old and very young.

Instead, you get calls for “Your stories and your pictures of the snow” – always for unpaid submissions.

Snow is beautiful in reality and can look beautiful in a picture. Snow is cold.

However, snow as a major citizen journalism project is completely uninteresting. Other people’s snow stories and photos are pretty much like other people telling you their dreams.

You’d be forgiven for thinking nothing serious was happening in the world….

Ffs, surely Cheryl Cole has got a new hairstyle or gained or lost a few pounds. And surely the about-to-be-wed prince-and-princess’s old school and university pals haven’t run out of amusing anecdotes yet? By toutatis, I’ll soon have to google if I need to find out to find out who won Strictly Come Dancing/ the Apprentice/X-Factor/Britain’s Got Talent (insert name of standard tv-celeb news items. Sorry I’m struggling here because my brain fails to distinguish any of these programmes)

Shape up, mass media.

* Even spammers see us as not worth the bother. A desultory spam turns up every week or so. Gone are the glory days of a couple of hundred a day.