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Gay Cake bakers rejoice: Supreme Court say bakery was right to refuse to make gay wedding cake

gay cake leaving do cake

 

Gay cake haters are cock-a-hoop, moreover Gay Cakes R Us, which can now own the market in gay cakes. The UK supreme court has sided with the bakers in a row over their right to refuse to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage – a political message – for a customer who wanted them to. Things kicked off in 2014 when Ashers, a Belfast bakery run by evangelical Christians, declined gay man Gareth Lee’s request to produce a cake carrying the order “Support Gay Marriage”.

Belfast county court and the Court of appeal had earlier ruled that Ashers discriminated against Lee on the grounds of sexual orientation. In 2016, Lee, a gay-rights activist, was supported in his case by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Ashers was no longer a private business providing non-essential goods and services, a family-run store free to discriminate in its private choices, but a public cause. In the new hierarchy of ideas and morals, sexual orientation held more sway than religious conviction.

Now the five judges on the Supreme Court have decided that Asher’s were not bothered by Lee’s homosexuality. That’s not why they refused to fill his order. There was no discrimination on those grounds.

“It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or any of the other protected personal characteristics,” Judge Hale said in the judgment. “But that is not what happened in this case and it does the project of equal treatment no favours to seek to extend it beyond its proper scope.”

The court pointed to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which says we have the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”. Hale says “nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe. The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”

It’s a triumph for tolerance, then. We can reject ideas. But it might not end there because Lee is reportedly considering appealing to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. And I’m off to the kosher deli to order my ‘Holohoax’ almond ring.

Posted: 10th, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Your Facebook account hasn’t been cloned

There’s an old concept called chain mail. There’s nothing actually to it at all, it’s just that a letter contains the message “pass it on.” Thus it gets passed on until everyone has had multiple copies of it. The older versions always used to die out because it cost actual, real, money to send letters. In an age when we can reach hundreds, or thousands, in moments and at zero cost there’s a greater likelihood of that sending on. This is what is happening here with this Facebook message:

A hoax message on Facebook is being spread that warns users their account has been cloned.

The fake warning is being spread due to its chain mail format with the message encouraging those who receive it to pass it on to more users.

No one’s even making anything out of this. There’s no malicious code contained, this doesn’t lead on to phishing or anything. It just makes people panic and the originators get to look and laugh as they do:

The hoax message reads: “Hi….I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…which I ignored so you may want to check your account.

“Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. Good Luck!”

It’s that pass it on to all your friends part which makes it replicate. But thankfully that is all it does, replicate:

A range of similar messages have spread across Facebook in recent months, including similar posts about making sure that posts appear in your feed. It’s not clear why such hoax messages begin, since there is nothing really to be gained by starting one, though they have been going on for decades in the form of chain letters.

Quite so. There’s nothing to this at all. Other than the flood of messages themselves, nowt to worry about. Just delete them – and don’t, don’t send it on. There’s just something about us humans which makes us prey to this sort of thing. It’s of no matter, merely slightly boring.

Posted: 10th, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Innocence unproven in the Brett Kavanaugh witch hunt

Can you tell the difference between real life and fiction? One is messy, complex and unpredictable. The other is written to a script, an idealised version of things built to entertain and reach a satisfying climax. Slate, the online magazine, has watched the Brett Kavanaugh witch hunt and come up with the headline: “No One Could Be Further From Atticus Finch – Defenders of Brett Kavanaugh liken themselves to the hero of To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s appalling.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is a work of fiction. Atticus Finch was never an actual person. No-one made up Brett Kavanaugh, and if they did the only ponderable would be: why did they bother.

Yesterday, Kavanaugh was worn in as a Supreme Court justice. At the signing in shindig, Donald Trump said Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of allegations of sexual assault. The Guardian calls that a “baseless claim”. Of course it is. You don’t need to prove yourself innocent, unless it really is a witch hunt in which case you die trying. Said Trump of his man:

“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process. Our country, a man or woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

And that’s it. End of. Christine Blasey Ford made for a compelling and credible accuser when she claimed Kavanaugh had at age 17 and she 15 pinned her to a bed, placed his hand over her mouth, groped her and tried to remove her clothes. He denied it all in a testimony that was no less compelling and credible. The world’s richest country became transfixed and frozen as two adults debated what they did and didn’t do as teenagers in the 1980s. What was worrying was that to question Ford’s story, to ask for evidence, to wonder why she never told the police, a friend, her family, and to look for witnesses to corroborate her story was heresy.  We were told to “believe” her. We should do this because she is a woman. But women can lie, right, forget or misremember.

To believe without evidence was to support victims of sexual violence, we were told, and say #timesup to the oppressors. To believe the anti-abortionist Kavanaugh or seek facts and evidence was to advocate rape and misogyny.

Kavanaugh wasn’t proven innocence. Trump’s a berk for saying he was. But to believe without question, to assume guilt on the strength of a single word is to undo democracy. But if you still want Kavanaugh lynched, let’s hark back to another era in American history were one group were always believed:

In 1931, a fight occurred between black and white boys on a freight train traveling through the town of Scottsboro, Alabama. The police rounded up all black boys riding on the train and ultimately arrested nine black boys, ranging in ages from 12 to 19 years old. Two white girls then came forward alleging that they were gang raped on the train. All nine defendants claimed innocence. After four separate one-day trials with all-white juries, eight of the nine were convicted and sentenced to death.

Their appeals would last over 20 years. On re-trial, one of the rape victims testified that the rape was fabricated, yet all-white juries again returned guilty verdicts. In the end, after facing multiple re-trials, all of the Scottsboro boys had their convictions dropped or were sentenced to lesser charges.

Believe without question? Check your bias at the door and consider the facts.

Posted: 9th, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Daily Telegraph pay: Boris Johnson promotes gender equality to deadline

You can read Boris Johnson’s thoughts in the Daily Telegraph. The Tory MP’s column earns him around £5,000 a week. The paper marks them as ‘Premium’ stories on its website.  If you want to read them all you have to pay. Or you can read them on his Facebook page for free. This week, Johnson pitches himself on the side of girls. The article is entitled: “Put a sock in it men: It’s time to end the global injustices and bigotry towards women.” It’s the kind of article any newly single man whose been caught cheating on his long suffering wife, as Johnson allegedly has, will think a good way to pull the birds.

On Facebook, Johnson’s publishes the following for free:

When a mighty dam is about to burst it does not just collapse in one explosive roar; it first springs a leak. A jet of water shoots from the crack, and then another crack appears and another horizontal fountain of foam; and as the whole vast curtain of masonry finally begins to tremble the onlookers behold the valley beneath and wonder who and what will be in the path of the billions of pent-up gallons as they are released from their captivity.

That is roughly how it feels today as we watch these extraordinary feminist movements like #MeToo, and the frenzy surrounding the nomination of judge Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. We have a sense of the welling emotion behind these phenomena. We feel the rage at decades, centuries, millennia of complacency and injustice. We see women and men uniting to call for a change of attitudes, for a new and progressive sensibility…

What can possibly have triggered Johnson’s fire? One clue comes via Private Eye, which notes that the Telegraph’s new digital MD is one Dora Michail. Her twitter profile includes a rainbow flag. And recent retweets and tweets give a clue to her agenda, which takes in ‘tackling discrimination and promoting gender equality with an intersectional approach’:

 

dora michail

dora michail

dora michail

 

So there’s Boris Johnson’s column on his drive to tackle gender equality. Fee for the social justice warrior’s wisdom: £260,000 a year. In next week’s column Boris says: ‘Time to go, Theresa May, and give a bloke a chance…’

Posted: 8th, October 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Politicians | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba saves sacked Mourinho

Can the Daily Mirror reassess the quality of its “Manchester United” insiders” who were “convinced” Jose Mourinho was going to be sacked last weekend? The paper leads with United’s 3-2 win over an average Newcastle side lacking in top talent, hailing it as a “stay of execution”.  The comeback from 0-2 down “papered over the cracks”.

 

mourinho manchester united

 

David McDonnell saw United play for 70 minutes “without spark or purpose”. They were “abject”. But “from somewhere deep within themselves”, the players stirred for a “staggering Fergie-like 20-minute comeback”. It was a “miracle”. No word on Mourinho’s role in the resurgence. Not a peep about what the manager might have done at half-time to reform his side trialing by two goals. And nothing said on the Mirror’s story, as told by one David McDonell, that Mourinho is today looking for a new job.

 

mourinho sacked

Daily Mirror knows

 

As the Mirror memory holes the words “Mourinho Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle”, the Sun has its own exclusive. The Sun is the paper that has cheered longest and loudest for Mourinho. The team might be dull, but to the Sun it’s all part of the “RED-OLUTION”.

 

Jose Mourinho the sun Manchester United

The Sun loves Jose

 

And so to the day’s scoop: “HOW POGBA SAVED JOSE”. The want-away midfielder saved Mourinho, how? “He told boss best way to spark fightback.” Pogba Tip 1: Tell Juan Mata to score direct from a free kick. Mata scores! The trust is less poetic. We hear that Mourinho listened to his players at half time. Pogba suggested a “deeper role for himself and brining on Fellaini”. Genius. Bring on the hairy elbow and lob it up into the mixer.

 

mourinho manchester united

 

Mourinho tells everyone that he and the team chatted for 10 minutes about this and that at half time.  To seasoned Mourinho watchers this might look like the manager trying to exculpate himself from the mess. But to the Sun’s it’s honest Jose binding the team and securing victory. It “showed how they could all work together”. It also showed that Newcastle United – six defeats from eight played; two draws – can’t hang on to a two goal lead.

But as Jose and Pog hug in the Sun, the Mail says Pogba wants to leave regardless of Mourinho’s future. Looks like the miracle will only last if plucky minnows United can play huge-spending Newcastle at home every week…

Posted: 8th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: Mourinho sacked when noodle deal goes cold

That the Press have no idea what Manchester United’s moneymen will do about Jose Mourinho is no clearer than in the BBC’s news that the club “could” sack the draining Portuguese “if his side lose to Newcastle United on Saturday”. Could and if are not news. But the Sun goes further. It says senior boardroom figures have lost faith in Mourinho. No names are revealed. No boardroom suit has given the rumours of top-level discord a face.

Are they upset by Mourinho’s dire man-management of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly? Before he criticised those current members of the United squad in public, Mourinho sniped at Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger, although of the later he did say, “He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something I did to him.”

Or are the suits voicing dissent over the dull style of play and poor results? Most likely they’re fretting about sponsors. Under the Glazers, United are a brand for hire. Mourinho, like Pogba, was recruited for his market appeal. Mourinho’s the man with a range of perfumes, whose name was licensed for Jose Mourinho briefcases and umbrellas. Jaguar and Hublot have paid big money for Mourinho to advertise their stuff. As one Times writer notes, the Glazers’ yes man, Ed Woodward, “can nail a noodle deal but not provide any heavyweight footballing guidance or astute succession planning.”

If Mourinho is deemed to have lost his cache in the luxury goods arena, he’s toast. If it’s all abut football, why did United ever hire the man whose teams are set out to pinch a goal and hang on? Sack the suits, right, for neglecting Manchester United’s footballing history.

 

spurs

 

But who if not Mourinho?

The BBC says Mauricio Pochettino is “Manchester United owner Ed Woodward’s preferred candidate”. The reporting is shockingly bad.

And over in the Manchester Evening News, we learn that when Zinedine Zidane was at Real Madrid, he was an admirer of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. So much did he admire them that moneybags Real never recruited any of the trio. But they all play for United and Zidane’s between jobs, so the story must be that the great Frenchman wants to take over at United – noodle deal permitting.

 

Posted: 5th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Free speech for Jew haters: Mahathir Mohamad addresses Oxford University students

Is Mahathir Mohamad a fan of Katie Hopkins, the rent-a-gob former Mail columnist and LBC radio presenter? Both seem to have missed the memo from Josef Mengele, the Nazi who when not dreaming up new ways to murder Jews in his lab was measuring Jews’ anatomy to check for nose size. It turned out that despite Nazi propaganda painting Jews as hook-nosed freaks, Jew noses were no different in dimension to the Aryan master race’s. So when Hopkins reportedly says “I got the nose but not the Jewish bit, which is shit” and Mohamed, the Malaysian prime minister, states that all Jews are “hook-nosed”, you might think they’re harking back to anti-Semitic tropes. You might also get the feeling that the sighting of “Jew noses” is not meant as a compliment, but intended to other the Israelites and mark out Jews as, well, “shit”.

Hopkins is no longer a regular presence on the mainstream British media. But you can catch Mohamad on the Beeb and on stage during his tour of the UK. He’s a lovely bloke. Not in the least bit of an anti-Semitic bastard. “If you are going to be truthful, the problem in the Middle East began with the creation of Israel,” he opined knowingly on BBC’s Hard Talk, pointing to those fabled pre-Israel lands flowing with the milk and honey of human comradeship [see the Bible, Islamic history, the big book of beheadings and the Horrible Histories series for children]. That is the truth. But I cannot say that.” He also knows that 4 million not 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust – which means 2 million dead Jews are liars, so too the ones who mourn them.

Not that the bigger figure is not without its appeal:

“1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews,” he said at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in 2003 in Kuala Lumpur. “There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategize and then to counterattack. We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million.”

He “wrote on his personal blog in 2012 that ‘Jews rule this world by proxy,” The Associated Press reported’.

But why read the case notes when you can catch him live? The man who says he’s “proud” to be called an anti-Semite appeared at Oxford University’s Islamic Centre, Imperial College and Chatham House. Good to see universities are not full of snowflakes after all – at least those sensitive students didn’t issue a ‘no platform’ decree when Jew-baiters and Jew haters are delivering the address…

 

Posted: 4th, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Manchester United players betrayed Mourinho – it’s Chelsea 2015 all over again

mourinho betrayed manchester united

 

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho looking to be sacked? Asked how his team are responding to a poor run of results, he told media “some [players] care more than others”. Which players are actors only pretending to care? He won’t say. Does he think his job’s on the line? “No.”

“Every player is different, no player is the same,” said Mourinho apropos of something self-serving. “I see different actions but what you see is not really inside. I see upset people, some people that don’t look like they lost a game. I see so-so but in the little two sessions of training we had [since Saturday] everything was normal, desire to work and play.”

 

mourinho betrayed manchester united

 

Can anything be done? Yes, says Mourinho: “What I can do to improve things I do, and I will improve the things that depend on me and my work.” Got that? Now hark back to his departure from Chelsea – the second time he was sacked by the Blues – when he told media in December 2015 following defeat to Leicester City:

“The only thing I can say is that I want to be. I have no doubts and I think you know me well enough, three years this time, plus three years another time, that I am not afraid of a big challenge, and in this moment this is a real big challenge. I want to stay, I hope Mr Abramovich and the board want me to stay.”

See a pattern? What about now:

“My board, my club I don’t think it’s right that I go to them and say these players are not good, we need to spend £50m or £100m or whatever, I don’t think it’s fair. We have these players and it’s with these players we have to go. The players that are not performing well, they must feel attacked in their pride and their self-esteem and they have to do everything to get results in a humble way.”

And his main point:

“I feel my work is betrayed. I worked four days in training for this match. I identified four movements where Leicester score a lot of their goals and in two of the four situations I identified they scored their goals. I went through it all with the players, you can ask them.”

Don’t blame Mourinho. He’s not changed. He’s certainly not improved. Just wonder what the Manchester United board who recruited him thought they were getting.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Elon Musk got off lightly – Tesla is damaged

There will be, from the fan boys, screeches and wails of discrimination over this decision to fine Elon Musk. They’ll be right too, this is discrimination, wholly in favour of Elon Musk and Tesla. For he most certainly did mislead the markets, a serious financial crime, and there’s a very good argument that he should have been punished much more than he was. The Securities and Exchange Commission could have insisted that he entirely remove himself from the management of a listed company – that would have been extreme perhaps but it was possible.

 

Elon_Musk_ tesla

Elon Musk: trust me I’m a car dealer

 

As has been pointed out before, Musk should have been punished for what he did:

Insofar as (a) is concerned: LSD? Lack of sleep? Impending mental breakdown? Or was there something more desperately Machiavellian about it? Regardless, I can’t think of an explanation that bodes well for Tesla.

With regards to (b). It is so blindingly obvious now (and should have been from word one) that his announcement Tweets were materially false. They had large impacts on the price of Tesla stock. They followed years of other dubious announcements, both on Twitter and in SEC filings and investor disclosures. If the SEC lets this slide it will make a mockery of the securities laws, and suggest that there are different standards for some people.

So, what really is that he did? Well, his actual tweet was along these lines:

The fraud allegation relates to his August tweet in which Mr Musk said he was considering taking electronic car maker Tesla off the stock market and into private ownership.

He wrote he had “funding secured” for the proposal, which would value Tesla at $420 per share. Shares in the company briefly rose after his announcement, but later fell again.

Effectively, he announced that someone was going to buy all Tesla shares at that $420. This, not unsurprisingly, made the price of Tesla shares rise to close to that $420. The problem being that it wasn’t true, he didn’t have a buyer. That’s misleading the markets.

Elon Musk, the billionaire technology entrepreneur, will step down as chairman of the electric car company Tesla and pay a £15 million fine to settle fraud charges.

And that’s the punishment. But there are those who think it’s a pretty light one:

Elon Musk just dodged a bullet. It’s Tesla that bears the scars.

Just a couple of days after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Tesla Inc.’s chairman and CEO – an action he described as “unjustified” – Musk has settled. Without admitting wrongdoing in connection with his bizarre claims of having teed up a buyout of the company in August, Musk will pay a fine of $20 million and relinquish the position of chairman for at least three years.

Given the apparent strength of the SEC’s complaint, with so much evidence typed and broadcast by Musk’s own hand, this surely counts as a win for him. The fine is immaterial compared to the $8.9 billion value of his stake in Tesla. Crucially, he has avoided the ban on being an officer of a public company, as the SEC was seeking.

It could have been so much more and it wasn’t – yes, that’s a win. Well, a win after having done something so ridiculously stupid as having sent the tweet in the first place.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Gerry’s tears, Pope is religious and Maddie is missing

Did you tune in to BBC Radio 4 show on fathers and daughters to hear Madeleine McCann’s father, Gerry McCann, as he “weeps uncontrollably”, as the Daily Star says he did? TV loves tears, from cake baking shows to pro-celebrity dance contests, no broadcast is complete without a close up of someone crying. But does it work for radio? In “MADDIE DAD BREAKDOWN” the Star leads with Gerry McCann saying how he “believed in heaven”. The man who along with his wife, Kate McCann, met the Pope when the hunt for his daughter was in full cry, is religious. Want more news?

 

maddie mccann

 

The front-page story continues on Page 5. The Star’s editorial says “Gerry McCann’s heartbreak over missing Madeleine must touch every parent’s heart… Listeners will have sobbed along with Gerry as his tears flowed.” All of them? Having spent 11 years watching the parents and now listening to them, many people will be interested in the actual investigation and what happened to an innocent child? Well, the Star says the Metropolitan Police should get more cash because “we may be looking for a serial offender” and “it could be money well spent”. May. Could. Reporting on the disappearance of a missing child  continues to be sensationalist and speculative.

 

maddie mccann

 

The Mirror also leads with Madeleine McCann, and news that Gerry “dreams of hugging” her again. Over pages 4 and 5, we’re told Gerry McCann wholeheartedly believes his daughter is alive – “a view backed up up by Scotland Yard’s plea for more funds to probe the mystery.” What plea? There has been some newspaper talk of funds running low and police considering applying for more. Indeed, the Star says there is a “debate” over whether police will request more funds or not. If there is a plea for money – and does Scotland Yard plea or merely ‘apply’? – the Mirror has no details about it. It would be useful to know what progress police think will be made with more fund.

 

maddie mccann

Daily Star

 

The Sun picks up the radio broadcast, and pretty much transcribes the whole thing:

“I couldn’t get the darkest thoughts out of our minds, that somebody had taken her and abused her. I remember just being in the bedroom – the two of us just completely distraught. It was almost feral, the reaction and the pain, feeling helpless, alone.”

And amid the pain and the emotion, the Sun surmises the story so far:

“A number of potential leads have emerged since the little girl vanished, but none amounted to anything and no arrests have ever been made.”

Can you arrest anyone when all you know is that a child vanished?

This is the BBC’s story, and it’s useful to see their take on it:

Madeleine, then aged three, disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007, sparking a worldwide search for her whereabouts.

A search stoked by a media feeding frenzy.

Mr McCann was speaking to BBC Radio 4 for a programme about the relationship between fathers and daughters. He said that he was sure immediately that his daughter had been abducted.

After being told by his wife Kate that their daughter was missing, Mr McCann said “automation kicked in” and he began searching the apartment.

“We started searching more widely really quickly and then very quickly raised the alarm,” he said.

“You’re in this quiet little holiday resort – that seemed idyllic – out of season and I certainly didn’t speak Portuguese so I asked [our friend] Matt to go to reception and ask them to call the police.”

“I couldn’t get the darkest thoughts out of our minds, that somebody had taken her and abused her,” he continued.

“I felt that every moment that we couldn’t find her was worse.

“I remember being slumped on the floor and starting to call some of my family members and just saying: ‘Pray for her.'”

And the “plea” for money:

The Home Office said last week it is currently considering a police request for an extra six months’ funding for Operation Grange.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Hate crime: Julia Hartley-Brewer defiled sacred safe space at Labour conference

You don’t have to like Julia Hartley-Brewer to be on her side in a story about safe spaces. Disability News Service (DNS) says Labour Party members want the LBC presenter disciplined by her employers and banned from future events because she criticised safe spaces. Labour says Julia Hartley-Brewer’s opinion that safe spaces are for “snowflakes” “caused considerable distress” to Labour delegates. She posted a video of her sat in a safe space “put aside for disabled people and others who need a quiet area for impairment-related and other reasons”. She said “boo” when a colleague with a camera entered the room. Hartley-Brewer then tweeted: “Comrades, if you’re feeling triggered at the Labour Party conference, don’t worry, we’ve found the official #SafeSpace…”

 

 

This mocking of safe spaces – places for contemplation that used to be called the toilet cubicle, stationery cupboard, library or car – left one delegate feeling “humiliated and violated”. She approached the Disability Labour stand and “just burst into tears, shaking with anger and rage”. She intends to report the incident to the police “as a potential disability hate crime”. A campaigner calls it “nothing less than a hate crime against disabled people”. Disabled people who have fought hard to be seen as resilient, spirited and capable might recoil at this portrayal of them as needy and fragile, reliant on the police and censors to counter different opinions. Another says Hartley-Brewer defiled the safe space, which can no longer be called a safe space, presumably because infidels have touched the sacred ground.

Hartley-Brewer adds in a tweet: “I’m told that this ‘safe space’ at Labour conference is meant for people with autism and other disabilities. The sign doesn’t say that. For the avoidance of doubt, there was no intention to upset disabled people, but every intention to upset snowflakes. Hope that clarifies.”

All it clarifies is that a woman voiced an opinion some other people don’t like, and now seek to turn into a crime – an actual criminal offence as dictated by a society defined by a desire to find and coset the victim in each of us.

Posted: 28th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


They might be Her-oes: the trans debate is valid

Being a woman is easy. All that suffrage stuff was bunkum. The penis and the womb make no impact on our life experiences. You just need a dress, some heels, a wig and the mantra “I am a woman” to be one of them. That’s it. It’s why Philip Bunce, a married father of two and a director at Credit Suisse appears on the list topped ‘Top 100 Women in Business’. He is, according to the list compiled by the Financial Times as one of the “Her-oes” doing their bit for gender equality. Philip is one of those “female executives who have made a difference to women’s careers”

Philip, who alternates between Pippa, his female alter-ego, says he is “gender fluid” and “non-binary.”

 

 

All the newspapers focus on the upset caused by Mr Bunce making the cut. There is “outrage” (Mirror, Sun) and “anger” (Times). Let’s all agree, good for Mr Bunce. He can dress how he likes and call himself what he pleases. He’s evidently talented, reasoned, authentic and bright, and his gender fluidity has no impact on his ability to do a demanding job. In 2015, he wrote in the FT:

… there is a real value in allowing employees to bring their authentic selves to work, whether they be gender variant, gay, women, Sikh or simply eccentric. Companies are beginning to understand such openness increases employee engagement, discretionary effort and productivity while developing an inclusive culture within the workplace that benefits retention and recruitment… As Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Of course, if he’s in the Top 100, it means the woman at 101 isn’t. And that’s the root of all that “anger”.  The anger is good because it’s form of free speech and actual open debate. And the people who are angry are also erudite and considered. Kiri Tunks, co-founder of Woman’s Place UK, tells the Times: “This makes a mockery of women and their achievements and begs the question does Bunce simultaneously feature in top 100 male executives and if not, what were his particular achievements as a woman to merit inclusion in the female list?” And:

Kristina Harrison, an LGBT activist who was born male but transitioned 20 years said ago, she would never accept a place on an all-women shortlist as it was “insulting” to women who faced different challenges. “Being a woman is not a costume you can put on, on some days and not on others. The idea that you can become a woman by donning a wig and a dress is deeply sexist.”

All good points well made. What if Mr Bunce wanted to appear on the Credit Suisse sports teams as Pippa? sports?” People born biologically male are physically stronger than biological women. Is it fair and safe for a sportsperson born biologically male and still in possession of all the tackle, to play women’s rugby? Credit Suisse sponsors the Credit Suisse Sports Awards. Sportswoman of the Year 2017 was Wendy Holdener, the Apline skier. She represented Switzerland at the 2018 Alpine Ski World Cup. She was slower than all the men in the team. So what if Luca Aerni or Mauro Caviezel wanted to compete as women? Could they her ‘Her-oes”?

How about the opinion of Professor Rosa Freedman, of the University of Reading, who says biological males should not have access to women’s refuges? Freedman tells The Times of the reaction to that: “We are talking about the aggressive trolling of women who are experts. I have received penis pictures telling me to ‘suck my girl cock’.” It’s not an isolated example. In recent times, arguing over such things has seen people accused of hate speech and transphobia.

In one notable instance, a poster put up on a billboard in Liverpool featuring the legend “Woman, women, noun, adult human female” – the dictionary definition of woman – has been removed after someone complained that it made transgender people feel unsafe. Facts are not facts. Truth can be whatever you decide it is. “We’re in a new realm of misogyny when the word ‘woman’ becomes hate speech,” said Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, who organised the poster. “I wanted it to be a conversation starter but this is a new level of absurd.”

Surely gender is worth a debate? If we want to be ourselves – resilient, complex, questioning, contrary and open – it must be.

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Doors to manual: Meghan Markle shuts that door

Today the Duchess of Sussex closed a car door. Arriving at the Royal Academy of Arts in a chauffeur driven luxury motor, Meghan Markle (Tabloid Rule 11: all Royals keep their maiden names – see Middleton, Kate) stepped out of her car – having had the door opened for her. She then shut it behind her.
 


 

A debate rages?

Is it harder to open the door than shut it? Shutting a door, aka slamming a door, is so simple millions of teenagers do it on a daily basis. Larry Grayson understood its familiarity and made it his catchphrase:

 

 

Opening a door requires knowledge and risk: push or pull? Knock first and enter; knock and wait to be invited in; or just open and walk in? Should you rely on “magic”, as in this clip?

 

 

Shutting the door is what you do on the way out; it’s rarely if ever done on the way in. And are the Middletons hands all over this, it being known that former airline hostess Carole Middleton was greeted with the phrase “doors to manual” by admiring Palace staffers and some of Prince’s Williams’ doorphobic “circle”?

“Etiquette expert” William Hanson explains all in the BBC:

“Usually, if you are a member of the royal family or a dignitary, you have a member of staff to open and close a car door for you.”

Job creation in action, right?

“Now that Meghan is a member of the royal family, there’s no more selfies, no more autographs, she can’t vote and all public social media has to be deleted.”

The door it is, then. You’ve got to keep busy any way you can…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, Royal Family | Comment


Manchester United: Pogba shunts Mourinho closer to the exit

Anyone in any doubt that Paul Pogba’s words were all about Jose Mourinho is obviously not Jose Mourinho, a man for whom everything is always and essentially about him. Responding to Pogba’s comments post a 1-1 with the mighty Wolves that United should “attack, attack. attack” at home, Mourinho has told the club’s most expensive player ever he will never captain the team again.

In his programme notes for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup game with Derby County, Mourinho sniped: “[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning. Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Joyous, no, to see United imploding, the manager blaming the players for his side’s dullness and inability to win every match. Either Pogba or Mourinho will surely leave the club soon. But which one? Who would the fans miss most: the charismatic young, over-hyped blade who offers promise or the chippy former Chelsea boss surfing a tsunami of braggadocio who masterminds a tired, pragmatic style of football that seeks to nick a lead and hold it; the manager who having told Mo Salah and Kevin de Bruyne they were not good enough for The Blues is doing his best to make World Cup winner Pogba feel inferior?

But who cares, right? Aside from United supporters, fans of all other teams are hardwired to enjoy the country’s biggest team failing. We used to enjoy and envy Fergie’s swashbuckling sides, but now United have invested vast sums in a team coached into stultifying plodders by a man who has always favoured negative tactics. Mourinho is the man who bought Pogba, Alexis Sanchez et al and invited them to play like the ambulatory elbow that is Marouane Fellaini. What was once viewed as hauteur and charisma been stripped back to reveal nothing more than Mourinho’s petulance, sarcasm and insults.

Who do you want to stay, United fans? The rest of us want Mourinho to…

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Anti-Semitism at the Labour Party conference and Corbyn’s other Jewish jokes

The tabloids are tucking into the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. Let’s take a look at see how they’re treating the issue of rampant Jew hatred in self-styled anti-racist party. We’ll begin with the Mirror, which mentions zer Jews on page 5, where they feature under “Joke of the Day”. MP Stella Creasy was at the Jewish Labour Movement meeting. Noting Corbyn’s comments about “British Jews failing to understand ‘English irony'” – no, not Zionists but Jews. The Mirror knows who Corbyn meant – Creasy quipped: “I was going to say something about how good it us being a Jew in the Labour Party at the moment, but someone told me you guys don’t get irony.”

On page 4, we hear Jeremy Corbyn’s response to being accused of being an anti-Semite. “Are you an anti-Semite,” the BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Corbyn. “No, absolutely not,” he replied. But a fair few of his friends and allies might be.

Jews are all over the Mail’s cover. Well, one them is. Luciana Berger, the Labour MP routinely attacked for being a Jew,  was accompanied by two coppers as she attended an anti-Semitism all in Liverpool, her home city.  The story continues on Page 6, where we learn that the coppers were carrying Tasers. Now we hear more from Creasy, and it’s not all that funny. The Mail finds space to include what the Mirror could not. Says Creasy:

“Nazism doesn’t turn up fully formed wearing black shiny boots and black shirts and goose-stepping. It builds bit by bit, it gains little by little, it paints itself as the victim – it paints its victims as the enemies, as traitors, the “other”. It rejects those norms and conventions on anti-Semitism that we have worked so hard to defend. That is the threat that we face if we do not confront this.”

And we get to hear from Berger, whose word were ignored by the Mirror. She told the meeting:

“There are Jews in this country who do not feel safe. We expect attacks that come from the far Right… but this year more than ever we have experienced attacks from the Left… Despite a last-minute and what I believe to be utterly shameful attempt to sabotage the IHRA definition and examples [the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance  definition of anti-Semitism], Labour has at last adopted it, albeit with that unnecessary caveat. What matters now is draining the swamp. We need to see the Labour Party step up the investigations into complaints of anti-Semitism and get a faster, fairer, more transparent system of internal party justice.”

Berger says Labour is awash with a “tsunami of anti-Semitic hate”.

“If we have to spend another six months like we have spent the last six months, patiently explaining to new Labour Party members – and some old ones – that Hitler didn’t want to help the Jews, or that the Rothschilds don’t run the world banking system, or that the Jews didn’t finance the slave trade or that me and other Jewish MPs are not Mossad operatives, or that it’s not cool to desecrate the mass grave of the Warsaw ghetto with ‘woke’ slogans, we will be no further forward.”

More on page 16, where the Mail calls Labour the “new nasty party” as the party descends into a “sewer of anti-Semitism”.

In the Sun, it’s Jews on page 4. Corbyn, we read, refused to apologise to British Jews for hanging out with Jew haters and Jew killers, questioning their Britishness and liking an anti-Semitic mural. We hear Labour MP Rosie Duffield tell the Jewish Labour Moment: “I defy anyone who repeats anti-Semitism trope you see the social media arena to go there [Auschwitz] and say and feel the same things.” And then we spot an actual Jew. It’s Maureen Lipman, the actress, a former Labour party supporter.  Lipman, we read, told a rally Corbyn is an anti-Semite. The Sun reports that Lipman’s new job on Coronation Street has attracted the attention of “Corbyn-backing viewers” who want her to be boycotted and sacked. Raus! Nationalise the soap industry!

Lastly, we turn to the Express. In page 5, we read: “Leader dodges anti-Semitism apology”. Why apologise for what you believe in? The Express says the anti-Semitism “dominated” the Labour conference – although not what the Mirror saw of it – adding:

At a packed rally on the conference fringe, some of Mr Corbyn’s harshest critics on the issue voiced their anger, singling out Unite boss Len McCluskey for accusing Jewish leaders of “truculent hostility” and PCS union chief Mark Serwotka for suggesting Israel fuelled Labour’s anti-Semitism row to distract attention from its own “atrocities”.

Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman said: “For major trade union leaders to not only smear the Jewish community and Jewish people for speaking out against anti-Semitism but then trying to blame them for it, I think we are entering into very dangerous waters… They are playing with fire and I call on them to withdraw those appalling statements.”

Here’s Marr with Corbyn:

 

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


There is no transgender row: women can have a penis

This week we learned that you can be booted out of a job for saying: “Women don’t have penises.” Angelos Sofocleous, a postgraduate philosophy and psychology student student at Durham University, retweeted those words and found himself sacked as editor of the university’s online magazine, Bubble, and his assistant editor role at its philosophy journal – called with no little irony Critique – in what the Times called a “transphobia row”. But there was no row because for that you need two sides to argue with passion. Any heated debate happened only in the media after Sofocleous was banned. This was a retweet, an article he wrote called Keingenderism, Truth, and Where the Transgender Movement Gets it Wrong and a command to get thee hence.

His retweet of a Spectator column headlined “Is it a crime to say women don’t have penises?” was to “belittle trans experiences” and leaving “no room for, or to promote, any fair discussions”.

Good to know philosophy leaves no room for discussion.

And before we go on: anyone can call themselves what they like. But others should also have the right to say ‘No, you’re not.’ That goes for women who think womenhood comes after the experiences of being a girl in society. “Is it because I is black?’ asked Ali G, who walked the walk and talked the talk but lacked the actual skin tones, biology, genes and depth to be black. How we laughed.

But on the upside, Sofocleous did get a job: he was hired to write a story for The Spectator. He writes:

On campus, the subject of gender is now off limits for those who fail to fall into line with the new orthodoxy: that being a man or a woman is fluid. Anyone who says otherwise is liable to find themselves hounded into silence…

Or pushed towards a magazine with a larger readership with the misnomered Critique and correctly named Bubble, or Echo as might be a more fitting title. He continues:

It won’t come as much of a surprise that the National Union of Students is leading the charge on this front. Today, the NUS announced its response to the government’s consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Among the NUS’s more barmy proposals was calling for an end to ‘coercively assigning gender at birth’. Is it a boy? Is it a girl? In future, it seems we might have to wait to ask the child itself when it grows up.

In the meanwhile, if you see a woman with a penis in the women-only changing rooms, at the rape-crisis centres, at the refuge centre for abused mothers, in a women-only train carriage, in a women’s prison, in the women’s football team or running the Women’s Institute don’t point and say, ‘You sure you’re in the right room?” because to do so is be bigoted and very possibly misogynist.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Liverpool: Arsenal didn’t miss Virgil van Dijk, they just lack Southampton’s coaching skills

News that Arsenal rejected Virgil van Dijk, 27, before Southampton bought him comes as no great shock. The final years of Arsene Wenger’s leadership at Arsenal are punctuated with a myriad bad decisions and indifferent coaching. The BBC says Arsenal could have bought the now Liverpool star for £12m from Celtic but thought him “too nonchalant”.

Former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, told BeIn Sports that Arsene Wenger liked Van Dijk but the club’s then chief scout, Steve Rowley, was less impressed. “Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,” said Collins. “Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes. He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.”

Easy to see this this as an Arsenal misstep. But given how Arenal stagnated under Wenger, what evidence is that that Van Dijk would have improved under the Frenchman? Yesterday former Gunner Santi Cazorla told the BBC Wenger’s Arsenal lacked belief. We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus. “To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”

Moreover, Collins says Van Dijk, who would up costing Liverpool £75m, wasn’t rated by Brendan Rodgers when he was in charge at Anfield. “He would’ve cost around £12m,” says Collins. “Every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.”

He was presumably all those thing when Celtic bought the Dutch national captain from Groningen for £2.5m. He did well there but it was at Southampton where he flourished. And what Collins does not say is how well he was coached at the innovative south coast club. Southampton’s system has produced Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. And players have improved at the Saints: Saido Mane, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren (all now at Liverpool) and Toby Anderweireld. Name one academy player who really improved under Wenger in his final four or five years at Arsenal, or a new recruit who looked like a bargain. It’s not easy.

Why did Arsenal fail? Matthew Syed took a look:

“We visited the Yehudi Menuhin Music School to see how they think about purposeful practice,” Edd Vahid, the head of coaching, said. “We also visit Saracens a lot. They do not have the best facilities in the world, particularly when compared to some Premier League football clubs, but they are fantastic when it comes to culture and innovation.”

Partly inspired by Saracens, Southampton now have an educational and skills programme running alongside the usual academy functions…

“If you want leaders on the pitch, you have to develop their qualities off the pitch,” Les Reed, the technical director, said. “In many academies, education is seen as a waste of time, a distraction from the game. We think that it is central to player development. We need England players who don’t crumble when they are on a big stage and go one-nil down.”

Southampton also have a Black Box Room, modelled on the aviation industry, so that they can constantly analyse the data from training and matches, just as aviation learns from the cockpit recorders. The analysts are striving to build better metrics to improve recruitment, despite the statistical challenges. They have studied a number of outside organisations, including Google.

Would Van Dijk have gotten that development at Arsenal under Wenger? No. Southampton (plus a dash of Liverpool desperation on paying such huge fee) turned him from a decent player into the world’s most expensive defender.

Posted: 23rd, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Gertcha! The trite and lazy journalism of ‘battling cancer’ with Chas and Dave

Farewell Chas Hodges, aka Charles Nicholas Hodges (28 December 1943 – 22 September 2018), the piano-playing half of the brilliant Chas and Dave. Even Arsenal fans enjoyed his hymn to Tottenham Hotspur, Ossie’s Dream, when the little Argentine hoped to “win the Cup for Tott-ing-Ham”.

 

 

The songs were brilliant, like this love song:

 

 

But Chas Hodges did not die because he lost a “battle” with cancer. The Mirror’s trite take that the Chas and Dave star died because he lost a fight with a deadly disease is the worst of journalism.

 

chas hodges dad

 

Deeper into the cut-and-paste Wikipedia balls on the career of a very talented musicians, the Mirror adds: “He and Joan – an original Playboy bunny and actress – put up a united front as they battled cancer together, along with their children and two grandchildren.” No. She did not battle cancer. The children did not battle cancer. Chas did not battle cancer.

 

battle cancer

 

So entrenched is that hackneyed balls about ‘battling cancer’ that the Sun commissioned a feature published yesterday. Deborah James told Sun readers: “I hate ‘battle chat’ when it comes to cancer…”

We don’t lose people, friends don’t succumb to it, loved ones weren’t too weak and they certainly didn’t lose their battle. It’s clear, you can’t fight your OWN cancer. It’s not something we win or lose, it’s out of our control.

Even suggesting to people they can is unhelpful and naive.

One day one and in the very same Sun:

 

cancer battle

 

More battles with ‘cancer battles’ soon. In the meantime, here’s a message from Chas to anyone using the dread phrase ‘battle with cancer’…

 

Posted: 22nd, September 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Ivan Gazidis: the towering force who took Arsenal from 1st to 6th

Say it ain’t so. Arsenal’s chief executive has been transferred to work for a US hedge fund which took ownership of AC Milan after the outfit it loaned money to defaulted. These reluctant football club owners see in Ivan Gazidis the perfect talent to make their investment bear fruit. Ivan gets a few million quid a season to make AC Milan sellable; and if the once mighty Italians become really in demand a stake in the brand should make him millions. Just a few words Ivan: shut the door on the way out, mate. Ok, yep, if you must leave your ‘message to the fans’, keep it brief. Want to hear it? Go on, then:

“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge. This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham in whom I have enormous faith.”

They were all employed in very recent times – Sanllehi in November 2017;  Emery in the summer 2018; and Venkatesham, who today begins his salute to the club by stating, “Although I joined Arsenal just months ago…”. They only came once the Arsenal owners realised that Arsene Wenger’s failure was impacting on their dividend cheques. Not competing for the Premier League title was fine, but when those Champions League pay days ran out, the board freaked. They finally had some work to do.

Gazidis then guffs on about “primary partnership deals” and the “new league broadcast deals” – things a mechanical rabbit running on an inferior battery could have managed to sort out. Arsenal have “updated our stadium” (let’s hear it for the toilet paper!) and “rebuilt our training facilities so that they are now world class”. What were they before Unai Emery arrived? He then comes over all X Factor and thanks one and all for being on “the journey”. And he thanks “Stan and Josh Kroenke for their support and guidance on everything we have done”. They’re the owners that have taken the club into private hands – theirs.

Time to hark back to what Gazidis said when he arrived at Arsenal in November 2008:

“The great thing about Arsenal is that it has been run to sustain itself. It is not dependent on an outside investor to pump money in year after year. That position is inherently a little bit unstable because it depends on one individual. Arsenal has positioned itself not to be dependent on one individual.”

But now they are. Cheers, Ivan, for helping make that possible. For good measure he said of himself (he was born in South Africa): “This is not going to be an American coming with no understanding of Arsenal looking to make it in to a Disneyfied version of Arsenal.” Go, Josh Kroenke! Whoop!

Let’s end with this – the Premier League table when Gazidis joined the club:

 

gazidis arsenal table

PL table on Saturday November 24 2007 – the week Gazidis joined Arsenal

 

And here’s the table at the end of Gazidis’ last full season of improvement – 2017-2018:

 

PL table season 2017 - 2018

PL table season 2017 – 2018

 

 

Ivan. Bye.

Posted: 18th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Middle-class drinkers should ignore advice on safe alcohol limits

Shocking to learn that the middle-classes take more drink and drugs than the poor. The Mail calls the report by the Social Metric Commission a “landmark” finding. Having discovered that people with more money and leisure time use more mind-altering substances than those with less money, we wonder what else the Mail has revealed?

In 2016, the Mail told readers: “Middle-class drinkers can get away with drinking MORE because their otherwise healthy lifestyles make up for it.” Adding: “Wealthier drinkers are less likely to smoke, be overweight and have a poor diet – traits more associated with the lower-income demographic.”  Today Ian Duncan Smith, the Tory MP, says: “Part of impoverished adults drinking less is that they do not have the cash to spend on it.” The other part being, presumably, that huge taxes on drink affect the poor more than the wealthy. He doesn’t mention that. He also doesn’t mention why politicians of all stripes want to clamp down on cheap booze with minimum pricing (see: sin tax for people seen as too poor, too thick and too dependent to know what’s best for ’em). But he does say: “This is not in the report but my own experience is that where people are drinking or taking drugs in poverty, it is at a very serious addictive levels. For the middle-classes, they are holding down a job and doing what’s expected of them.” Which is to say: paying more taxes.

But the overriding message is that drinking in excess of the Government’s stated limits does you no harm at all. Indeed, in 2007, an insider said that the recommended weekly limit of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women decreed by the Royal College of Physicians in 1987 was a guess. Former panel member Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal, revealed to the Times: “So those limits were really plucked out of the air. They weren’t really based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.”

 

daily mail drinking

 

The Mail‘s readerships is very much middle-class. But having told the middle-classes that drinking more makes no impact on their health, the Mail also says that it is a huge problem for the kind of so-and-sos who say ‘wine ‘o’clock’:

 

daily mail drinking

 

The talk is of “problem” drinking. The middle-class “culture of drinking at home is driving the problem”. And you can narrow it down still further to educated women:

 

daily mail drinking

 

daily mail drinking

 

daily mail drinking

 

It’s hard to work out what the point of all this bilge is. Perhaps it’s just a prelude to tax rises, moves to hike the price of booze for our own good – even if it it’s not doing the biggest payers any harm.

Posted: 17th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids, The Consumer | Comment


Madeleine McCann: a bride of Christ, an old story and grief recast as a mental health issue

No word on Madeleine McCann in any of today’s printed tabloids. But there is is news on the web. Following the non-news that the Met might or might not seek money to continue Operation Grange, the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, the Express online delivers: “Madeleine McCann’s father reveals mental health battle in HEARTBREAKING interview.” As ever it was, the Press are watching the parents.

Madeleine McCann’s father will speak about the grief and depression he faced over losing his daughter in a heartbreaking interview on Radio 4, in a bid to remove the prejudice men face when talking about their feelings.

What prejudice? No TV or radio show is complete without a man crying, whether it be over a DNA test on mid-morning telly or a well-baked cake on prime time. “I decided it was a good opportunity to say something about the special bond between fathers and daughters,” says Gerry McCann, “thinking that speaking openly might help other men in similar positions. It feels like the right time.” Fir enough. But isn’t there is a special bond between men and their children, regardless of gender. The sane can surely sympathise with parent whose lost a child, but why is this news? Someone from the BBC explains:

“We look at Gerry’s experiences, his thoughts and feelings, and the wider context in society of mental health issues surrounding a loss. Susan Roberts, our producer, has already interviewed Gerry over the past few weeks, it has been recorded and we are now doing the final edit. It’s very emotional and helps get across the point of view of mental illness associated with a loss or bereavement of a family member or friend, that there is no stigma in men opening up and discussing emotions with someone is important. In our show there is a parallel between the poem of a father’s loss and the real life experience, reflecting the two.”

Eh? Grief and loss is now a form of mental illness? It’s not a human reaction to loss. It’s a treatable condition. As for the tosh about men not emoting and expressing themselves, how may poems has the producer ever read? What about books, films, music and art? Did women write them all? As for facts about the missing child, we’re told: “There have been 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine in 101 countries, but all of them have been ruled out.”

 

 

Pearl poem

 

Over in the Mail, where the BBC press release is an “exclusive”, we learn:

He will be interviewed by poet Simon Armitage on a special Radio 4 show: Pearl: Two Fathers Two Daughters. The show will weave together two voices of grief: Mr McCann’s and that of an anonymous poet from 600 years ago who laments the loss of his daughter in a poem entitled Pearl.

Mr Armitage, who wrote a poem to mark the 1,000 days of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, has written a new translation of Pearl. We don’t know who wrote the original version about the loss of a child and her father’s pain. The New Yorker reviewed the poem steeped in New Testament imagery and numerology in 2016. In one scene her father sees his lost daughter as the bride of Christ:

In the poem, the narrator visits the spot where a pearl once slipped from his grasp and got lost among “Gilofre, gyngure, & gromylyoune, / & pyonys powdered ay bytwene” (“ginger, gromwell, and gillyflower / with peonies scattered in between”). Swooning into unconsciousness, he comes to in a dream, in a place he has never been before, where cliffs split the sky (“ther klyfez cleven”). Across a river, he sees his pearl again, but now the “perle” is no mere thing—she is a young girl, richly arrayed in an elaborate outfit covered in pearls. Pearl also seems to be her name, or at least it is how the man addresses her: “ ‘O perle,’ quod I . . . ‘Art thou my perle?’ ” In reply, she calls him a jeweller, and he refers to her as a gem (“ ‘Jueler,’ sayde that gemme clene”).

Overcome with joy at finding his lost pearl, and unable fully to understand the complicated things she says to him, the dreamer plunges into the river to swim toward her. He is desperate to “swymme the remnaunt, thagh I ther swalte”—to swim across, or die trying. This angers the ruler of the celestial land, called the Prince: the dreamer does not belong there. He is flung out of his dream as punishment. He wakes up, and the poem ends with a short meditation on the glory of God, and then the words “Amen. Amen.”

The child in Pearl is dead. We do not know what happened to Madeleine McCann, save for her vanishing.

On a final note the Mail tells us:

The doctor’s new-found openness to help others cope with loss comes after Prince Harry, now Duke of Sussex, spoke about his struggles with mental health in a groundbreaking podcast interview on May 2017 with the Daily Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon for her revered ‘Mad World’ series. The young royal spoke openly about bottling up his emotions and being unable to grieve for years after the loss of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.

From Princess Diana to Madeleine McCann. When private grief became celebrity mourning.

 

Posted: 17th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Couple harvest dead son’s sperm to create grandchild

This will strike some as remarkably disgusting, even perverse. A couple lost their son in a car crash so they “harvested” his sperm in order to create a grandson for themselves. Certainly we’d expect there to be calls that they can’t do that – despite the fact that they obviously can. What is meant of course is that they shouldn’t be allowed to do that but then perhaps they should. You see, to have grandchildren is to win.

 

widow-uses-husbands-frozen-sperm

 

Thus this is a story of someone winning:

A wealthy British couple have created a “designer grandson” using sperm taken from their dead son, it was claimed yesterday.

Yes, this is indeed winning. For details you could read the work of Charles Darwin and the like but it’s simple enough. The aim and purpose of life is to have children which go on to have children:

The couple were left devastated after their only child was killed in a motorcycle crash and seemingly ended their chance of becoming grandparents.

But the pair, who are in their 50s, were reportedly desperate for an heir decided to harvest the 26-year-old’s sperm, which was frozen and exported to the US, bypassing strict laws in the UK.

Their grandson is now three and is believed to be living with them in Britain in a case that highlights ethical and legal concerns.

Well, yes, ethical and legal concerns. That’s the voices of those who insist that they shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Who wish to, insist upon, imposing their own morality on the lives of others:

Professor Allan Pacey, a former chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “If the son in this case wasn’t being treated by a clinic, and had not signed the necessary consent forms for the posthumous retrieval, storage and use of his sperm, then a criminal act has probably taken place.

“The clinician who extracted the sperm is in breach of the law as is the facility which stored and exported the sample.”

Well, yes, except for that winning by the grandparents. That aim and purpose of all life being exactly that, to reproduce in a manner that leads to the next generation doing so and thereby becoming those grandparents. So, despite the difficulties here they’ve done that, they’ve won that life lottery.

The only pity here being that British law, for some unknown reason, would deny them that ability to produce the life which carries them on into perpetuity.

Posted: 11th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Apple Already Manufactures In The US

Donald Trump is insisting that Apple should move its manufacturing over to the United States. The problem with this being that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand that Apple already does its manufacturing in the United States. Calling for Apple to do what Apple already does isn’t all that useful. What’s being missed is that Apple only assembles equipment in China. And that’s of trivial value so we don’t care where it is done:

Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that Apple should make products in the United States if it wants to avoid tariffs on Chinese imports.

The company told trade officials in a letter on Friday that the proposed tariffs would affect prices for a “wide range” of Apple products, including its watch.

Apple’s AirPods headphones, some of its Beats headphones and its new HomePod smart speaker would also face levies if the current package of $200bn in tariffs goes ahead as expected in the coming days.

The usual point of trade is to make us better off. So, if having tariffs to block trade makes us worse off – which is what price rises do – then why are we having tariffs? Well, the correct answer is because the President of the United States doesn’t understand this.

But why would we want to do that?

The thing is that Apple already, pretty much, makes things in the US. What it doesn’t do is assemble them there. So, take an iPhone, say it costs $800. About 40% of that – $320 – is pure profit to the company. That’s added in Cupertino in California – yes, the recent tax changes mean that it is, not Bermuda, not Ireland. The expensive parts of the kit itself are the processors and the screens. The screens are made in Taiwan or Japan and no one else in the world knows how to make them – not even Apple. The processors are made in Texas.

All that’s left is the cheap stuff – a few wires etc – and the assembly. And we know how much that costs, about $10 per iPhone. And that’s the bit that’s done in China too. In terms of who adds the value and where then Apple already manufactures in the US. The only bit that’s done in China is that $10 worth of sticking it altogether. And why would we care at all where $10 of an $800 piece of kit is done?

As we started out saying Donald Trump doesn’t understand trade. His ideas about Apple just show this.

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Technology | Comment


Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are cosier than an otter’s pocket

carrie symonds boris

 

News that Boris Johnson has been named an “adulterer” in divorce papers comes as a shock to anyone who wakes each day, quints at the sun and asks, ‘What the bloody hell is that?’ To the Sun Johnson’s penile adventures are an alliterative tale of of ‘Bonking Boris”, a “long-suffering wife” called Marina Wheeler and 30-year-old “Tory aide” Samira Mohammed. No, only joking. The alleged other woman is called Carrie Symonds, and she’s not wearing a burqa because we can see her face on the Mail’s front page.

In the Sun we see photos of Johnson in his garden. He’s drinking from a mug – a metaphor perhaps – and looking “grim-faced” at his phone. Both pictures are credited to Simon Jones, aka “Sun photographer Simon Jones”. Might they, you know, be staged? “Explosions aside, Boris is still The One,” states Trevor Kavanagh three pages on in the paper., not exactly discounting the idea that the Sun is presenting the philanderer in a good light.

The photos also appear in the Mirror, but it’s main thrust is not into Carrie Symonds, but Johnson’s Mail on Sunday column in which he said Theresa May had “wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution” and handed the trigger to Brussels. A few Tory MPs are lined up to say how revolting that is. Amid the “fury” the Mirror says it asked one Tory MP “if Mr Johnson had put a bomb under Mrs May’s leadership”. I see Tory MP Tom Tugendhat’s horrific tale of a suicide bomber who maimed and murdered many in the courtyard of his office in Helmland, and notice the bomb detonated below then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which killed five Tories, including one MP, and permanently disfigured many more.

But what’s that? “Show us the totty!” Ok. The Mail obliges with five phots of Symonds – a “fun-loving blonde”. She is “glamorous” – and what more speaks of glamour than shagging Boris Johnson; maybe finding a pre-loved glamour magazine in a bush? – a “Tory party cheerleader”who tweeted as her name rode high on the news cycle: “Sea otters have the thickest fur of all animals.” To say nothing of their pockets – an otter’s pocket being something Johnson finds irresistible.

 

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment