Treading on Eggshells – Kenneth Wrong

January 8, 2011 6 comments

Unless David Cameron proposes a tax on sex, the winner of 2011’s Massive Twat of the Year has already been won, by a man named Kenneth Tong. Who is he? Well I didn’t know this myself until a few days ago but apparently he was once on Big Brother, the show notorious for bringing out the best in humanity. Why am I blogging about him? Well in the past week he was been spouting the biggest amount of shit I have ever heard, by saying that if you’re not a size zero then you fail at life and by promoting “managed anorexia”. He is also some kind of rich playboy and happily lauds this over the rest of us lesser humans.

Now, I have to be careful here. Apparently, because of all that has happened to me, I tread very carefully on the eggshells of hypocrisy if I dare suggest his freedom of speech is oppressed. On the flipside, I am also aware that I am not immune from justified criticism if I’m wrong. I’m happy to debate. Also, I’m loathe to give him more publicity because it’s obvious that is what he feeds on in the absence of food. I justify it to myself by saying that he would inevitably get attention anyway and it’s what we do about it now that counts.

I have been through all the arguments in my head and occasionally with people on Twitter. If I say that his moronic, irresponsible and dangerous views should never see the light of day then I’m infringing on his human rights to freedom of expression. Is it right that he should be allowed to speak his mind this way? Free speech campaigners will say yes, that in order to have a free and democratic society you cannot limit free speech, for it is no longer free. I completely understand that, and that we also have the right to disagree with his views. Not that our disagreement with, or vilification of, him will do anything to dissuade this deluded and deranged individual.

His views can lead to people putting themselves at serious risk. I have been told that you and I have the ability to realise his opinions are shit. Yes, that’s great for us. But there are vulnerable people out there who will lap it up. People with eating disorders and low self-esteem will see him telling them they are worthless and then… well I don’t even want to think of what could happen. Of course, the argument that I then went through in my head is that if we start censoring based on the ‘what could happen’s then we walk down a dangerous road. Again, I fully understand that too.

I’m wafting to-and-fro here, and that’s the problem with arguing over freedom of speech. It appears to be black-and-white, all-or-nothing, and that is doing my head in! There is no room for ‘what if’s with such a highly-charged subject, yet it cannot be right that something so universally wrong and terrible is allowed a forum. I think this is because we feel that if we budge just a millimetre, “the man” will take a mile.

So what’s the answer? Is there one? I think I’m writing this just to be cathartic rather than come up with one myself. Do we start to rethink freedom of expression? I’m not proposing that, I just want to know is there any situation where it would be acceptable to think it. I can hear the knives (and other, more violent weapons) coming out now for daring to think that that should ever happen on any level. I just cannot fathom how it is right that such shit can be allowed and that nothing can be done.

Maybe that’s just it. If you want your rights to be upheld then you have to be prepared to deal with this kind of thing and damn the consequences. Sigh, I don’t know. I haven’t really gotten anywhere with this have I? Still, it’s been good to get my thoughts out, as inarticulately as I have.

If it does boil down to freedom of expression versus censorship then I’m on the former side all the way. Dealing with this moron far outweighs censorship of a basic human right. It just seems that there is nothing offering any form of protection to those at risk from him. What is the difference between what he’s doing and bullying and/or advertising cigarettes?

One more thing, in a world where you can’t pick up a paper or look at a website without seeing a light being shone on someone’s Twitter feed/Facebook status/blog, why has there been nothing (the Twitter revolt aside) against this idiot??

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My True Love Gave to Me… A Sense of Perspective

December 23, 2010 7 comments

It’s been a couple of months since I last blogged, this is simply unacceptable. So here’s a kind of Christmas-themed entry.

First things first, as this is a Christmas post I should get one thing straight. If you are the kind of person who calls it “Xmas” I will hunt you down and slap you across the face with some crusty underwear. It’s not that I’m religious, it just grates with me. It’s a nonsensical abbreviation. Is it “ex-mas” or is it “cross-mas”? Neither makes any sense. Is it some kind of take on the crucifix? I doubt whoever came up with it is that clever, however if they are then for some reason I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate to commemorate someone’s birth by removing their name and replacing it with the instrument of their death. Call me old-fashioned. Anyway, moving on…

So last weekend my emotions got the better of me briefly. I was really down because this will be the first time in my life that I have not spent Christmas with my family. In the past few years our routine on Christmas Day was fine-tuned and something I looked forward to immensely. I would spend all morning with my girlfriend, exchanging gifts et cetera, then she would have dinner with her family while I did the rounds with mine before going to my dad’s with my brother for dinner. Once there we would head to the pub while dinner was cooking (misogyny is rife in our households!), have a few pints, laugh and reminisce over a game of pool. We would return and have the best damn Christmas dinner with ham that I walk through fire for and then proceed to get quite drunk while playing poker or darts. My dad would bring out his annual tradition of a new drink to try (previous entries being tequila from Tijuana, Aquavit, Grappa and something from Latvia which we couldn’t pronounce but called “breakdancing fluid”) and we’d get very merry before staggering home and spending the night with girlfriends. It may not sound like much but I’m a family boy and it meant the world to me.

I am a big kid at Christmas, I still get infected by the season and love everything about it. Yes the presents are nice, but mostly it’s the time spent with loved ones, the laughs had and the memories shared. The prospect of not being able to do that this year really got to me. After I confided in Sarah she made me realise a few things. I hadn’t grown up, for one. That Christmas routine is for either a teenager or a bachelor, not someone in a committed relationship. And while I will definitely still miss my family, I will be spending it with my new family – Sarah and Ashton – and that excites me a lot. I am truly in love with them both and I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend it than with them. Plus this year I’m not the kid, the actual child is. I cannot wait to see how Christmas is for him, he’ll bring out the inner child in both Sarah and myself as he gleefully takes the whole thing in after Santa’s been. We’ll be creating new routines and new memories from 2010 onwards and I look forward to them more than I ever have anything else.

Sarah made me realise that things change, not always for the worse. The whole of this year has marked a big change in me and Christmas will be the final note on me finally (hopefully) growing up. Though maybe not completely…

 

 

Merry Christmas to you all and a happy New Year.

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The Spending Review

October 22, 2010 8 comments

So this week we had the ConDem coalition’s spending review, their plan for pulling the UK out of the economic crisis, delivered by Chancellor George Osborne. For a start, I should say that I am no economist, which I’m sure will become abundantly clear, so I won’t try and go into detail on everything that was proposed, lest it be pulled apart by people far more clued-up than I. Instead, I will focus on a few points as I see them, my main bugbears. By all means, please correct me on points I may be ignorant on, though I should say I will be more appreciative of an objective view rather than any left or right wing rhetoric.

My first (and main) gripe is the change to child benefit. It was previously announced that it would be scrapped for anyone earning over £40k. No depth was given to this proposal initially, so I expected some to be provided during the spending review. It didn’t come. Just the same line, that anyone earning over £40k would have their child benefit scrapped. Nothing about household income, no plan to review it, just a one-line policy. There is a perfect example of who this is going to hit and how in my brother’s situation. Now, my brother is doing well for himself and he deserves to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He is ambitious and has the skills to meet those ambitions, however he has a toddler and another baby on the way and he works bloody hard to provide for his family. As it stands, with this change to benefits, he will have to sacrifice his aspirations in order to provide the best care he can. Why should he try and earn more when, if he does, he will be worse off without the benefits and, if he continued, the higher tax band? We are encouraging people to strive for mediocrity in order to survive, because of a policy which was written on the back of a fag packet. Honestly, it’s the kind of thing you would hear in a pub when the regulars put the world to rights, “‘Ere, Frank! ‘Ow would you sort the crisis out?” “Well I’d get rid of benefits for those earning over £40k!” “How would that work then?” “Uh… dunno” “Leave it to the politicians Frank, eh?”. Except this is what the politicians are coming up with!

My second gripe is the banks. They are the reason we are all in this mess and yet they are getting away scot-free. The world knows they are to blame (people may say there were other contributing factors but let’s be honest, these do not come close to those caused by the banks’ ineptitude), they make no real argument against it themselves but it won’t be them who cleans up the mess. Osborne stated during the review that they would come down hard on them but, as his disclaimer of not wanting them to up sticks and move from the UK suggests, it will be a token gesture if anything at all. As I said at the beginning, I’m probably being ignorant, but we should tax them and tax them hard. Tax all banks that were bailed out by the general public 50% of all recorded profits, after forensic accountants have been in to make sure what they are recording is correct. This, of course, will never happen. The government doesn’t want to scare them off. Forgive me for sounding naive, but surely we have international relations? Could other countries, who can also see that the banks are trying to get away with murder, refuse to accept them and force their hand? Of course, said countries would want the jobs it would create, but it would need those jobs because of the mess caused by the BANKS! Perhaps I’m hoping for some morals which have no place in a capitalist world. Instead, the government decides to slash public spending, sacrificing nearly half a million jobs and hoping the private sector picks up the pieces. So, in a nutshell, the banks cause the economic crisis and the government slashes public spending because it doesn’t want to drive away jobs in the banks which are needed to employ those coming from the public sector who find themselves in that position because we won’t punish the banks. Lunacy!

This leads on to my third and final gripe, a more specific one. The Vodafone tax bill. Now, as I understand it, Osbourne has written off a £6billion tax bill owed by Vodafone. One can only assume that this is because the government is scared of driving away jobs again. Either way, I fail to understand it. SIX BILLION! The country is on its knees and yet we can afford to write that off? It’s hardly pocket change. If you or I decided that we weren’t going to pay income tax for a few months, you think we’d get away with that? Not bloody likely. It’s punishing those trying to get us out of this mess, which wasn’t their fault to begin with, and rewarding those who are to blame.

This isn’t some kind of rant against the right wing by the way. Labour (although you could say they were right wing anyway, so maybe it is) played their part in this and they didn’t even offer anything constructive during the review. We had Alan Johnson, a man who has no clue how to be a Shadow Chancellor, skirting from one criticism to another, trying to pull apart the proposals without anything to give in return. I imagine Ed Miliband thought fresh eyes were needed, but now is not the time for it. When a country is in crisis it needs a plan, not someone learning the ropes. That being said, and as much as the Conservatives (let’s not continue with the idea that the Lib Dems have any kind of influence in affairs) bleat on about what they “inherited” from the previous government, punishing the people for their failures is not the way to go.

Once again, the public are going to shoulder the burden of responsibility for something not of their making. We’re going to pay, and we’re going to pay dearly.

And So it Rumbles On…

September 29, 2010 23 comments

It seems like all I do these days is moan. Which I don’t like because normally I’m a happy-go-lucky person (occasionally to my detriment), but lately I’ve been sensing a change within me. Of course we all know what the cause of this is. I’ve not mentioned anything about the case on this blog so far, partly because it’s well-covered elsewhere, and partly because I’d rather let this blog stand or fall on it’s own merits.

I’m varying from that this time because I thought the end, or AN end of sorts, would occur last Friday, meaning I could dust myself off and get on with things. Now that it’s adjourned, the hell continues and my sanity plummets ever lower. I’m sure in some quarters, people are thinking “Well it was just a fine you received, it’s not like you face a murder charge” and while that’s true, and I’m trying not to lose my perspective here, that does not mean that the effect on my life has not been catastrophic. At this point, the case (and whatever verdict) are secondary. It’s how I go about picking up the pieces after that. A lot of people say to me that it’ll all be over soon, but it won’t. The case may be, but that’s only one less thing to worry about. By the time that comes around, I’ll likely be bankrupt (ironically, that isn’t hyperbole) and vacantly staring into space while I dribble profusely. This is, without doubt, the hardest period of the whole thing so far, so please bear with me if I become a miserable sod.

I honestly don’t have a plan or a clue. This is new to me. I don’t know which way the verdict will go. I don’t know how easy it’ll be to get a job either in the interim or the long term. I just feel like I don’t know anything, and it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever had to face, that includes standing in the witness box in front of a raft of sour-faced legal people.

So there you go, another self-indulgent moan! Hopefully this time next year I’ll be looking back and lambasting myself for posting it!

Categories: Uncategorized

One More Thing

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m going to start reviewing things on here. Films, books, TV shows and the like. And by “the like” I mean just those things. Hope you don’t mind!

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Getting Older

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Cor, it’s been a while since I posted something. I really need to kick my ass and not lose momentum. Also, this post may touch on some previously recurring themes that pop up in this blog, but then again it is my state of mind and I did say I was using this as some kind of therapy.

So anyway, I recently turned twenty-seven. Do I feel twenty-seven? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. I still feel like a ten-year-old, only with a lot more hair and a lot less potential. I still consider things from a ‘when I grow up’ perspective. So that got me thinking, at what point does someone actually realise, and feel, that they are actually “grown up”? I always thought that at some point during my twenties, some wise old sage would approach me like a hooded Jedi and whisper into my ear that it was time (of course in reality this would be greeted with a punch to his wrinkled fizzog and a backstreet castration with my foot), and all the wisdom of the world would be bestowed onto me in a ceremony I likened to Highlander. I would have it all figured out. So far that old man hasn’t appeared, maybe because he’s with his probation officer all the time.

So what brings that feeling of assurance on? Of course, no-one has all the wisdom of the world, but some people must feel that they have themselves figured out? Is it a certain turning point in your life or does it happen gradually? Is it when you’ve achieved all your career goals? You want to be a doctor as a child, you ace your A-Levels (of course these days all you need to do is spit on your exam paper to get an A*. I jest! Congratulations to all A-Level students, now use Sociology in real life! I’m so bitter), you study medicine at university, you ace that and you become a doctor (NB: Process shortened for time purposes). So, is that it? Are you then satisfied enough to enjoy the fruit of your labour or do you want more? I hope there are people like that. Others may scoff at those who don’t dream for anything more, but if you’re constantly in pursuit of something, then the next thing, and the thing after that, when do you ever actually enjoy life?

It may not be the career, is it parenthood? Does becoming a parent, and putting a child or children in front of your own well-being bring that ‘grown up’ feeling on? Maybe if we aren’t constantly examining ourselves, we don’t worry about it as much? Am I mistaken and actually no-one ever feels grown up as such? I imagine this would be more apt for us men, god knows women are more emotionally mature than us, I make no effort to hide that!

Turning thirty is just around the corner, and I’m in the middle of a quarterlife crisis (it’s a real thing, honestly! I didn’t make it up, check it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarterlife_crisis), which brings about many existential thoughts I guess, this being the latest in a long line of them. All I know is I don’t want to be 70, still spending most of my time playing Playstation 30.

Or do I…?

Categories: Uncategorized

Unsocial Media

July 25, 2010 2 comments

Yesterday, the other half and I took her son to a children’s play centre. While we were waiting for him to run himself silly through padded blocks and coloured balls I was enjoying a nice coffee and reading a book. It was very pleasant. I then decided to update the various social networks I’m on with the fact that I was, in fact, enjoying a nice coffee and reading a book. I quickly logged into Twitter through my phone and then spent the next hour on there, reading my timeline, updating and replying, and never returned to the book. Therein lies the problem. There are so many social networks now that people are attached to, any of which prove a major distraction from real-life.

Contrary to what some people may think, I have never been up-to-speed with social media, I’m always catching up. I joined Twitter in early 2009, when it really started populating public consciousness. Before that I was not, nor had ever been, a member of any social network. Twitter piqued my interest and seemed different from the rest. Since then I have dabbled in Tumblr, finally joined Facebook and recently started with GetGlue. But that’s it for me. I steadfastly refuse to join FourSquare, I prefer to be the stalkER rather than the stalkEE.

For me then, there aren’t that many ways to be distracted and yet I find myself so more often than not. Just to update them all takes time. For those who are members of a higher number of social networks it must be worse. There are those who can flit in and out easily but I find it hard to. For some reason I feel obliged, like it’s some sort of etiquette, to maintain an online presence, especially on Twitter and I feel as though I’m letting people down if I don’t. This is quite ridiculous as I say nothing interesting enough to be missed(!), but that’s just my mentality, a mentality that I know contributed to the destruction of my previous relationship as I withdrew further and further into a virtual world. Even when I’m out with friends or family I find it hard to put the damn phone down for more than a minute, which pisses them off immensely.

I, and I’m sure others, need to back away. We need to withdraw from the virtual world and actually live, not feel guilt or that we’re somehow missing a trick. Social media was designed to keep people in touch with each other and allow you to meet other people, share your interests etc. Before long, our only interests will be social networks themselves, while the world goes by without us. Not everyone is this way of course, maybe I’m just lazy and choosing a scapegoat, but if there are others like me then I hope they can try and get back to living life rather than just talking about it.

Now to share this idea with Twitter and Facebook…

Categories: Musings Tags: , ,