Sunday, 14 May 2017

Superstition

Religion and right wing politics exist to exploit and oppress large groups of people; enabling a few to control the many. They both offer easy answers. Answers that people can accept at face value without any thought. Answers that are no more than advertising slogans. It doesn't matter that the answers they give are not evidence based, or what they promise fails to materialise; there will either be an excuse, a distraction or a lie to cover up their failings, a papering over the cracks to hide their charlatanism.

Reactionaries and devotees of magic men with beards (right wing politicians and clerics to the simple) operate using the K.I.S.S. form of delivery: 'Keep it simple, stupid'. Not my phrase but one once used in business presentation circles. People like simple. Simple enables them to believe without intellect. They can relate to X being the problem and Y being the solution. They can't relate to the possibility that the solution might require measures that are complex and perhaps need to run in tandem or appear on the surface not to be directly connected. If chaos theory is correct (obviously it's a theory so it might or might not be) then existence is a multitudinal array of chain reactions going on ad infinitum.

Of course some questions/problems in life might not have a known answer/solution. This never worries the right-wing politician or man of religion. In religion if there's something wrong it's the work of a devil or the punishment of a god; little matter that there is absolutely no proof of the existence of either. In right-wing politics if there is a problem it's the fault of someone 'different' to their perceived norm; they'll blame foreigners, the sick, the infirm, the poor etc. There's always a handy scapegoat.

'Humankind cannot bear very much reality'. T. S. Eliot.

It used to be said that the Church of England was the Tory party at prayer. I'm not sure how accurate that is but in many ways they were/are similar in one respect in that they both peddle lies. Religion and reactionary politics are not based on facts; they are based on a warped faith. Faith is illogical, it is not thinking, but laziness. They are each no more than superstition.


Nothing is ever black and white. There isn't always an answer.




And now a few words from the master of right-wing propaganda* Joseph Goebbels:

'A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.'

'There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, and this will always be "the man in the street." Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.'

'...the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.'







* These principles are still being used today.



Monday, 8 May 2017

Broken Britain - Thatcher's Legacy

Towards the end of last year a couple we are friends with gave us a small package and sniggered as they did so. It was a commemorative plate of Margaret Thatcher. It was amongst the effects of their late mother/mother-in-law. 'Was she a fan of Thatcher?', we asked. Apparently not. She couldn't stand her. They felt sure that someone had given it to her as a joke. So why were they giving it to us we wondered? We loathed Thatcher too. Their reason for giving it to us? They felt sure we would know what to do with it. So a couple of months ago they came round to dinner, along with another couple who just happen to come from Syria.

After dinner we all trooped out to our balcony armed with our weapons of choice to deal with the porcelain pornography in a fitting and proper manner. With two cameras set up we videoed, for posterity, justice being done. And, despite being somewhat bemused by the proceedings, and not really understanding who this vile woman was, fair play to our young Syrian friends for joining in with the spirit of the event.

I've now taken that footage and mixed it with some other material to make 'Broken Britain - Thatcher's Legacy' and, with apologies for the speak your weight machine style commentary, here it is:



Also, if you are interested, here is the transcript from the video:

Broken Britain - Thatcher's Legacy

If you didn't live through the Thatcher era you possibly won't understand the contempt and loathing that the majority of right thinking people felt for what she did.

Jo Brand summed her up very well: “God, what a depressing day that was and what an irony that Britain’s first female prime minister had to be Margaret Thatcher. She was the woman who asked, ‘What has feminism ever done for me?’ Well, dear, if you need to ask that question then you’re obviously not very bright

Thatcher broke Britain. She presided over the ruination of our nation. When she entered Nº10 all decency left.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Hockney rhyming slang

Yesterday we went to Tate Britain to see the current Hockney exhibition. It was muchly enjoyable.

I think Hockney is perfect at dispelling the myth that there is such a thing as good and bad art. What he does mostly anyone can do? Having said that his draughtsmanship is excellent; and whilst to be an artist need to be a draughts person it's certainly a skill that helps. And then there's the photography. What he does with a camera is so inventive. Photographs should not be restricted by their typical borders.

At exhibitions, especially busy ones, I dart around. Where gaps appear in the crowd I'm there. I never gawp in any particular order. Free space is everything.

Hockney's liberal use of vibrant colours is so exciting; the strong oranges, blues and purples delight the observer. They assault the eyes in a most pleasurable way. Sometimes his colours are almost fluorescent.

He's both primitive and sophisticated. He is the distilled essence of what art should be.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

My arrogance is fuelled by anger

I'm angry, angry because a country I actually like living in is being destroyed by fascist tendencies. Fascism is ignorance. That's not arrogance by the way, that's fact. Fascism is irrational; it's not based on any moral philosophy or code, just hatred and stupidity. To consider someone as a lesser being because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or superstitions has no place in a civilised society. Bigotry is destructive, divisive and counterproductive to human progression.

I'm still angry about Brexit, and as a result I lash out sometimes and refer to those that voted for it as idiots. This suggests a certain arrogance on my part. A valid criticism. But in my defence I've yet to hear a non-moronic justification from anyone who voted for it. All I hear is ill informed opinions and gutter press sound bites that crumble in the face of any informed counter argument. There are no sound philosophical arguments to defend the Brexit vote. It is an act of mass-stupidity not seen in this country since Thatcher was elected. And even then she never had the support of even half of those that vote.

My challenge to you Brexit voters out there is to give me one good and credible reason for why Brexit is a sound proposition. Until the day that this happens I shall continue to call you idiots. For idiots you truly are. And to add to the charges of arrogance I will state that I don't believe you can help being idiots. You've been conditioned to be that way. Decades of government policy and manoeuvrings by the elite have created an underclass of Epsilons open to manipulation.

Welcome to our brave new fascist world, or wake up to your ignorance turkeys, and stop voting for Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Corbyn outlines plans to 'cap' boardroom pay

BBC News - Jeremy Corbyn outlines plans to 'cap' boardroom pay http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38568116?SThisFB

In principle the idea of a wage cap or maximum wage doesn't sound like a bad idea . But wouldn't it be better, rather than having a wage cap, to force organisations to have their minimum wage as a fixed percentage of the highest salary in that company?

e.g. if the minimum wage was say 5% of the maximum then any organisation whose highest paid employee earned £1,000,000 would have to have a minimum wage of £50,000

Discuss


Thursday, 5 January 2017

2016 is over, welcome to the future


I watched the film Pride the other evening. It's about the Lesbian and Gay community that supported the miners' strike in 1984. I balled my eyes out at the end of the film and both laughed and felt the tears trickling down my face through it. It's a film that conveys an important message. That message is:
The importance of solidarity - United we stand, divided we fall.

We can defeat the Tories and all the other bigots on the right. We can overcome the hate mongers. There are more of us than them. We just need to organise. If all those that are currently being targeted and persecuted by the right joined together we could drive them from power and elect a progressive government. A progressive government, an alliance that will serve all of the people.

I have always felt that the miners' strike was a misjudgement by the likes of Arthur Scargill and the NUM leadership. A trap was set and they fell for it. And it was the members that suffered. The men of the pits paid the price. The folly of their leaders broke the labour movement.
If all the pressure groups that represent those that are currently being bullied and oppressed by the right joined forces then a powerful movement could be built. A movement of inclusiveness. A movement for fairness, equality and justice. Society is a hollow vessel if it is not for all.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Our uneven handed BBC!

I complained to the BBC about their interview on the Andrew Marr programme. This is the reply I received. I am not in the least surprised.

Dear Mr Garrard 


Many thanks for getting in touch about The Andrew Marr Show broadcast on Sunday 13 November 2016.

The programme had several prominent items to reflect Remembrance Sunday, as well as an interview with the leader of France’s Front National party, Marine Le Pen MEP.

Andrew acknowledged beforehand that some viewers may have found the timing or content distasteful, but he also fully explained the context and rationale for the interview with Ms Le Pen as follows:

"Now, today we are remembering the fallen, particularly of two World Wars, and we are doing so in a context of a world which feels particularly unstable, even dangerous. Our greatest ally - the United States - has been going through great political change, but what of our other great wartime ally, France? 

Since Donald Trump's victory, anything seems possible, and in France they're asking whether Marine Le Pen - the highly controversial leader of the right wing, nationalistic French National Front - will become their next President. She's polling strongly - at least 6 million voters so far - and most predict that she will reach the final round this spring. Now, if she won that would be a huge and significant moment for Europe - Marine Le Pen is hostile to Brussels, she's against NATO, she's against free trade, and she's a vehement supporter of Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Now, I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I have been to interview Marine Le Pen, and that we are showing this interview on Remembrance Sunday. I understand that, but I would say this: Le Pen could - under some circumstances - become the next French President in the spring. This week in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she's declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march. What does that mean?

In the end, we are a news programme and I don't think the best way to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to western security..."

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We acknowledge your personal views on the interview and its timing, but we hope our reply helps to clarify our approach and why we felt it important to hear from Marine Le Pen MEP here. 

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints


I think what really grieves me is that they give a disproportional amount of airtime to minority extreme right wing groups, and, never to extreme left wing groups. The BBC is biased heavily towards the right and as a consequence a morally bankrupt organisation.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

If you tolerate this then your children will be next

I like many people have become very alarmed by the way the fascist agenda has appeared to have come to the fore in recent months, and particularly in the last week or so. Hate, which is essentially fascism, is being displayed more and more openly. A worrying trend that has to stop. How do the decent majority stop it? We stand up to be counted, we challenge it whenever we can and we make it known by whatever means available that HATE is not acceptable.

The key is to realise that you, each and every one of you can make a difference. You can help affect change. If we all do small things to counter fascism we will overcome the hate. We can drive it out. We can reaffirm that hate has no place in a decent society.

What can we do?
• Today I have sent postcards to the editors of five of the main culprit newspapers that have been encouraging hate. I've also complained to the BBC about their Marine Le Pen interview on the Andrew Marr Show. Next I shall start contacting those companies that fund adverts to the 'hate monger' newspapers:

• You can do the same
• And you can ask others to help to
• If you're on social media then follow the Stop Funding Hate campaign on Twitter or Facebook
• Follow Unite Against Fascism on Twitter and Facebook
• Print out some of the anti-fascist images on sticky paper. Stick them up in public places
• Print them out on plain paper. Shove them through people doors.
• Spread the word on social media
• Anything to get the message across



Now is a good time to remind you of Martin Niemoeller 'poem':

First they came for the Communists,
but I was not a Communist,
so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Socialists and the trade unionists,
but I was neither,
so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews,
but I was not a Jew,
so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

– Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)



The title of this blog posting comes from a poster from the Spanish Civil War:


Think!



It inspired this Manic Street Preacher's song:



Think some more



These are seriously troubled times. It's time for all decent tolerant people to get up off their arses and do something, no matter how small.


Please feel free to share this picture





The postcards to national dailies

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Beauty and the beast

My favourite art gallery, in fact one of my favourite places, in London is Tate Modern. And up until yesterday I had not been there since the new Switch House extension had been opened. Turns out it's a great space. I like.

After a really delicious and very fine lunch at the 9th floor restaurant we headed for the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition currently on the go at Tate Modern.

I never bother with audio guides at art galleries. I'm not greatly interested in being told about what someone else thinks of a work or about the incidental history of the artist at around the time a piece of art was created. I just want to feed my eyes on it, soak up what I can from it and feel my feelings, independently from anyone else. I also don't like to move around an exhibition in the order it's laid out. I like to flit about either going to where there's some space or to whatever catches my eye. I like to consume art my way. I lose myself in some pictures, totally absorbed by the images and the colours; I commune with them, it can be a neo-meditative experience.

Red and Orange Streak

But enough of that bollocks, "what about the exhibition?" I hear you cry. The picture that caught my eye as I entered the first room was Red and Orange Streak. You can't not notice it; a painting of vivid red and orange on a black background. The orange forced my eye down the painting but I fought against it to stare longingly at the red. O'Keeffe's use of colour and the vibrancy with which she painted is like no other I have seen. Room 2 contained many of my favourite paintings including three 'music' pictures; Music - Pink & Blue Nº1, Music - Pink & Blue Nº2 and Blue & Green Music. All three are in oils whilst displaying a pastel like tone but with the sheen of oil. The shapes in her abstractions flow very smoothly and are pleasing to my eye. One gets out of her paintings what one wishes to get out I feel. You may see sensual and erotic shapes and nuances or you may see strawberry and peppermint candy-floss. Perhaps you will see both. Anyway for me it's all very pleasing. My favourite picture of the exhibition was quite a small one called Shell Nº2. It's pure O'Keeffe in one bite-sized chunk. Then there's her capturing of the harsh landscape of New Mexico in intense and bold hues with voluptuous undulating hills. Purple Hills anyone?

 
      Shell Nº2                    Blue & Green Music

Shell Nº2


I could eulogise indefinitely but don't worry dear reader I won't. All I will say is if you get a chance between now and the end of the month to go and see it go! In my opinion you won't regret it.

It was a grand day out I thought as we boarded our train home. Oh the joys of travelling on a train out of London at a peak time on a Friday night. After a brief altercation about the seating arrangements we settled down to what would hopefully be a relaxing journey. It was not to be. The be-suited party of half a dozen alcohol-fuelled alpha males saw to that. It is embarrassing to be a man in situations like that. They made half of the journey quite unbearable. Thankfully they all got off at Ipswich. They appeared to have been on some kind of day out which entailed large quantities of drink and possibly with a sport connection. They weren't physically aggressive but their 'banter' was of a bullying nature and often sexist. The first half of the journey home put a bit of a damper on the whole day. There really is no excuse for behaviour like that. Laddishness is a destructive force in society that should be constantly highlighted as totally unacceptable by the mass media rather than the 'eh eh get a load of this' type attitude that currently prevails. Brainless knob ends not welcome here!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

I laugh in the face of tragedy

It's an embarrassing thing to do. But throughout my life, although thankfully not on every occasion, I have sometimes managed to laugh at really bad news. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have no control over it. It just happens. Likewise I will also say inappropriate things on odd occasions. Words will come out of my mouth that either I wouldn't dream of saying ever or would never dream of saying in the particular situation that I find myself in at that time. Often this sort of thing happens at social gatherings. I think because I'm never comfortable in largish social groups its some kind of reaction to the situation in which I find myself. It's probably a nerves thing. The trouble is I will say something that is out of place, realise my error, and then rather than just shut up completely I will then in some vain way attempt to explain my faux pas by saying further ridiculous stuff. Language is my downfall.

Now I'm sure I'm not alone in this. There's probably a name for it. There's a name for all conditions these days it would seem. In the cold light of day one can sort of understand it. Well I can. Unfortunately my affliction doesn't stop there. In these days of the interweb and social media I find myself doing similar online. It happens mostly in the situation when you are either live chatting or very nearly live chatting. I will type something inappropriate or out of character and will have pressed the send button before I have realised what I have done. Then I panic! I forget the old adage when you're in a hole stop digging and just carry on making matters worse. After that I retreat, licking my wounds and wondering how it happened. Eventually of course I get over myself and the pain starts to subside and I will forget about it until the next time. Brains are funny old things.

Hopefully people that know me realise that I try very hard to be kind, considerate and quite shy. Perhaps they have never even noticed this foible or just put it down to strange idiosyncrasy. Perhaps it's just me that notices. I know not.