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Just Jot It January: Day twenty…

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I’m beginning to think that Just Jot It January is some sort of jinx, what with all the public figures dropping dead left, right and centre.

Just in the last week or so we’ve lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman and Dale Griffin from Mott the Hoople, and now I wake up to the terrible news that Queen Elizabeth has passed away.

Apparently she was taken ill with a nasty case of hypothermia whilst snowboarding in the back garden at Balmoral yesterday and died later from complications resulting from overdoing the Jaegerbombs in an attempt to warm up.
Prince King Charles has asked that the royal family be allowed their privacy in this, his hour of celebration grief.

Ok, that’s not actually true.

But how many of you stopped reading in shock after the first paragraph and googled “Queen Elizabeth dead”?

I’m hoping very few of you, because I like to think my readers are somewhat brighter than that (plus, you probably noticed that this post was tagged “hoaxes”; a bit of a giveaway in itself) and you don’t just automatically believe something on the basis that “it’s on the internet, so it must be true”.

But not everyone online has your finely-tuned analytical faculties (or “bullshit detectors” as I prefer to think of them) and many people will indeed take anything they see as they cruise the information superhighway as the gospel truth.

Facebook appears to be one of the most densely packed credibility minefields for the gullible to pick their way through, with idiotic memes and nonsensical “facts” being posted almost every day by the less discerning web surfer.

I could understand if these cheeky attempts to con people into believing rubbish were in some way humorous or satirical, (it’s easy enough to manufacture reasonably convincing spoofs these days, with all the gadgets, apps and simple technology available to us at the touch of a button) here’s one that took me two minutes to make just now…

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…but so many of the allegedly plausible posts I see scrolling past, often posted by friends I know to be intelligent and articulate in any other situation, are so demonstrably bollocks that it amazes me they manage to get through anyone’s bullshit filter without setting off all the alarms on first reading.

For instance, here’s a perennial favourite, the inane response to a con that I’m sure you’ve seen on the Facebook newsfeed, one which seems to do the rounds on a regular basis;

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Now, I understand that unchecked optimism can lead to the odd lapse in judgement, but surely nobody realistically believes that Mr Zuckerberg got rich by randomly giving his money away to strangers, (especially when he has all those diapers and babysitters to pay for) so what makes anyone think it’s even worth reposting this stuff?

And then there are things like this next one, which I really can’t get my head round.

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Why somebody would fabricate this sort of pseudo-medical nonsense to start with is completely beyond me.
Apart from anything else, there is a very real risk of someone actually taking it seriously and, relying on the idea that, if you get chest pains the best thing to do is have a nice refreshing glass of water and go to bed, could very well result in you waking up dead.

Not all of these memes are dangerous of course.
How about the much-reproduced post that claims to be the “last words of Steve Jobs”..?

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…it isn’t exactly malicious, but I doubt his loved ones appreciate their deceased friend or family member’s image being hijacked, in order to service some personal agenda or bid for notoriety.

And yet thousands of people have unthinkingly shared it without even the slightest suspicion that, amongst other things;
a) as a confirmed atheist, Jobs was unlikely to be thinking of God at all, let alone giving him column inches in his epitaph,
b) he would have posted something that was written with such peculiar phrasing and grammar (particularly given Jobs’ well documented perfectionism), or
c) he had such a long and cheesy speech ready to quote at the last minute, even if he’d had the strength or inclination to self-eulogize to such an extent anyway.

Jobs isn’t the only victim of posthumous image fraud of course, there are many others whose pictures have been manipulated for fun or mischief, (like my Dr MLK meme at the start of this post) the best known of which is probably one of the variations on photos of Albert Einstein…

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…and, most recently, this photo of the late, great David Bowie and his old mate, Lemmy…

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…which is a nice piece of fan-generated wish fulfillment, but the original photo featured Lemmy and his French girlfriend.

So, how do you avoid the crushing disappointment/cringing embarrassment of posting something that is less realistic than The Donald’s hairline?
You use Snopes of course, either that or Hoax Slayer, that way you can post away to your heart’s content and not worry about being ridiculed by your online peers for a Facebook faux-pas.

I know a lot of you are thinking; “What a patronising bastard, we’re not stupid you know!”, but there is at least one person reading this who will be glad of a fact checker (you know who you are, hahaha) and I’m sure they’ll make good use of it in the future too.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Just Jot It January: Day seven…

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You’ll be pleased to know that I don’t have time to waffle on too much for today’s Just Jot It January post, so I thought I’d try a little experiment instead.

I’m guessing (hoping) that bloggers are a more reasonable and, frankly, saner bunch than the average Facebook keyboard warrior and I’d be interested to know what people think of something I saw on the political trolls’ favourite virtual playground today.

I don’t usually post memes on the blog, purely because someone else created them and I like to post original content, but I’m going to break that habit today to see what type of feedback I get from my readers, especially those of you in America.

I’ve already reposted it on my Facebook page and I shall post it again here, along with the caption I added, just to see what sort of reaction I get, if any.
Please excuse the strong language, but this sort of thing really gets my goat (however, please feel free to disagree or debate the point with me).

So, brace yourselves, here goes:

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Because, ummm….ah yes, terminal fucking stupidity.

There’s this thing called “history” which appears in these other things called “books” and it will inform those who can “read” that practically every word of this meme is complete bollocks.

#utterfuckingnonsense

So, over to you.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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What goes around, comes around…

It’s great to be excited about blogging again and, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from the increased frequency and variety of recent posts, I’m getting drawn into more and more new activities all the time.

My sudden conversion to writing fiction has really inspired me to finish Deus Ex Machina, the sci-fi story that had been patiently hanging around in my head, waiting for me to continue Kreel’s mysterious adventure, Linda G Hill has provided much additional inspiration with her One Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday slots, both of which I’m now totally hooked on, the new photography blog, Photo Sans Frontiers is up and running (along with its companion Facebook page) and now I find myself with the hugely enjoyable prospect of another, future collaborative project.
And it’s all due to a spot of synchronicity worthy of the Tenuous Lynx his/her/itself.

Back in 2011, as a forty-something internet novice, (as opposed to a nearly-fifty Internet Nobody) I was just beginning to get to grips with something that everyone else seemed to have had a head start on, namely Facebook, and the idea that I could have my own little corner of the Great Big Double-u Double-u Double-u, to do with as I wanted, whether other people wanted me to or not.
I was also drawn to the idea that anyone could create a space that had a definite image of its own, some sort of identifying feel to it that made it stand out from the information overload of the internet.

Which, I quickly began to realise, was what blogs were for.

As I initially searched my newsfeed for any interesting and original content, hidden amongst the pictures of cats, recycled memes, “inspirational” quotes, pictures of cats, game requests, charity fads and more pictures of fucking cats, one of the more promising pages was called simply, Todd and Dustin’s Blog and it contained the slightly superior, sometimes snarky ramblings of a couple of likeable Americans called, rather unimaginatively I thought, Todd and Dustin.
It featured comical, sometimes nonsensical posts, occasional nihilistic ranting, creative writing competitions, video blogs and a satirical edge that I liked right away.

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Todd and Dustin – More fun than they look, honest.

The page is currently dormant and nothing new has appeared since January 2013, when the final message to their Facebook fans was as follows:

“GREED. CORRUPTION. RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM. TEA PARTY LUNATICS. HORRIBLE PARENTING. PEOPLE EATING EACH OTHER’S FACES. A DYING PLANET. WESTBORO BAPTISTS. WAYNE LAPIERRE. DRONE STRIKES. HONEY BOO BOO. JOHN BOEHNER. LOBBYISTS. THE TOP 1%.

THE WORLD IS A TOILET. WE TRIED TO SAVE YOU…”

So, not happy then.
And that was the last I heard of them, which was a shame because they were probably one of the sparks that lit my blogging fuse, so to speak.

If you are on Facebook, you can view their page HERE, but for those of you who haven’t been swallowed by the internet’s answer to crack cocaine, here’s their page’s utterly brilliant author blurb:

“Todd Michaels began his writing career in 1849 under the tutelage of a German Sheppard named Bradley. Since then, he has been producing work with such a non-stop fervor that dead people rot and living people die, merely at the mention of his name. Winner of several non-existent awards, Todd prides himself on his ability to make readers itch in places that they don’t even have while screaming out words that only pets can understand.

Dustin Tyler came out of the womb with a pen in one hand and a completely written short-story in the other. The story was said to be the most “important” item produced by mankind since Eve took a bite out of that giant round red item decades earlier. Unfortunately the story came in contact with what Dustin would later describe as “filthy” hands and had to be destroyed. Since then, Dustin has continued popping out of wombs with complete stories, though none are known to be as good as the original.”

Fast forward to last week and I get a Facebook friend request from some American bloke I’ve never heard of, whose name is a really obvious anagram of a film star I really don’t like, so I messaged him and asked why he chose to solicit my friendship.

As you do.

He told me he had been searching for like-minded people to invite to his page.

This may not seem noteworthy, except for the fact that, in the timezone lag between messages, I’d checked his “About” page.

As you do.

Under “Other names/nicknames” it said Todd and Dustin.

That’s…
I mean, that can’t…
Bloody hell, that’s a coincidence…

Etc…

Needless to say, I was delighted to finally make the acquaintance of someone who played one small part in my decision to take up blogging and, once he’d told me that he and Todd (he’s the Dustin half of the partnership) were on the verge of rebooting their own blog, it didn’t take me very long to suggest working on something together in the not too distant future.

As for what else he and Todd are up to, I was told only that they spend a lot of time playing video games, one of them is married to the other one’s sister, they are in the habit of starting projects that they like to leave half-finished and that; “If you’ve ever gotten a magazine in the mail with descriptions of tacky jewelry you best believe that we wrote it!”

By the way, it seemed important to him that you know this;
He only managed to deliver his friend request to me after escaping the clutches of 300 heavily armed men, using just his movie star good looks, a twizzler he happened to have on his person and a very small amount of violence, mainly involving forcible insertion of spiky and exotic vegetables, a gallon of LSD-infused vanilla custard and, purely as a last resort, a rocket launcher.

All of which goes to show, if you stay on the internet long enough, it will eventually take you to where you want to go, even if you didn’t know you wanted to go there in the first place.

 

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Rights, wrongs, guns, God and the wisdom of Lisa…

It doesn’t take a lot to distract me from a train of thought, (as anyone who has ever read this blog will be painfully aware) so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to you that, since I first hit upon a topic for this weekend’s post, my magpie mind has been turned this way and that by the innumerable bright, shiny things that we all have access to via the wonder (curse?) of mass-media and the Weird Wide Web.

The problem with the internet in general, and social media in particular, is that it has become more and more a tool that people use to influence opinion, rather than just air their views, on anything from tinfoil-helmeted conspiracy theories and medical quackery, right up to human rights, lawmaking and constitutional reform.

And all the fucking cats, obviously.

Which may explain the increase in posts by many of my American friends on Facebook recently, concerning two obviously hot topics that seem to prompt equally emotional responses from both the pro- and anti- side of the equation.

Now I can’t vouch for the whole of the UK, but I think that over here, very broadly speaking, Barack Obama is seen as a fairly decent, sincere and rational man whose presidency is largely a force for good. (Before I incite a barrage of political invective from across the Atlantic, I will happily admit that my grasp of the larger American political system is that of an interested but slightly bewildered observer and I claim no deep insight into the socio-political workings of the Land of Opportunity)
But to read some of the things that otherwise seemingly reasonable folks say about him on the internet, you’d think he was Satan himself, come to take away your freedoms and eat one or two of your children if he thought he could get away with it.

Quite a lot of people seem currently fixated on the idea that he’s on a crusade to remove their inalienable, God-given, constitutional right to go around tooled-up to the eyeballs with whatever hand held artillery they can carry, even when doing something as mundane as going to the grocery store or visiting the local burger joint.

In Texas especially, feelings were running high when the ironically named Target group announced it would allow advocates of the Open Carry laws to bring pretty much whatever weapon they liked with them to do the weekly shop.

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Target – “Well, some of those TV dinners can get downright ornery.”

However, in a gratifying case of bowing to public pressure, including that applied via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Target have done a U-turn on that decision, leading to a raft of protests by open carry enthusiasts who can’t bring themselves to walk down the mean aisles of the mall without their trusty assault rifle to protect them from……..well, the hordes of heavily armed shoppers presumably.

Again, I’m not claiming to speak for the majority of my nation when I say this, but if I walked into Tesco and there were people walking around with hunting rifles slung over their shoulders, I’d quietly turn round, go home and lock the doors, close the curtains and try not to make too much noise gibbering to myself.

I know from many a heated discussion I’ve had with American friends that they just don’t get it when I say that we don’t have guns over here, not in the insane way they do in the States, and I find the idea of everyone being armed to the teeth a terrifying thought.
They always sound puzzled and say things like “But the criminals still have guns, right?” as if that explained everything.

I’m not saying that all armed citizens are crazy gun nuts, far from it, but you only need one or two examples that are particularly Twitter-worthy to piss on the collective gunpowder, so to speak.
My own personal favourite nomination for inclusion into Adam Pain’s forthcoming Golden Face Palms would have to be the decidedly white Open Carry Texas group from Huston.
To “educate people of their rights”, they planned an openly armed march through a black neighborhood. Not only that, but with added sensitivity and tact, they scheduled the march for June 19th, the day given over to celebrate the abolition of slavery.
That specific rally did not go ahead as planned, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody doesn’t push their luck a little too far in trying to fully exercise their rights in the not too distant future.

Another hard-to-believe story that’s making the Fb newsfeed buzz this week is the one about the Christians, the craft shop and the government legislation.
No, it’s not the feed line to a joke, it’s the news that arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby have more or less unilaterally decided to flout the rules of the ObamaCare bill, by refusing to provide health insurance to female employees that covers IUDs or “morning after” contraceptive pills on the grounds that it contravenes their religious beliefs, despite the fact that an element of the insurance is paid for by the employees themselves.
This not only interferes with the woman’s right to choose, it also disqualifies a lot of women who need the same medication for non-contraceptive medical uses, and it isn’t cheap to buy privately either.

Strangely, they do provide men cover that allows for both a vasectomy operation and a Viagra prescription.

This may seem like a minor, under-the-fold news story, but the ramifications could be far reaching.
What if a Muslim employer insisted that all his staff had to wear a full-face veil?
Or that his employees all had to pray to Mecca five times a day?
How popular would that be in middle America I wonder?
And the case is already having an impact, with other companies questioning their responsibility to provide cover that may go against any deeply held beliefs they suddenly find they have they may hold.

It just seems weird to me that a shop that started off selling picture frames and modeling kits can now influence government policy.
It’s like the Women’s Institute lobbying the British government to ban fertility treatment, it just doesn’t seem right somehow.

But it was Independence Day this week, so I have tried my best not to start too many arguments with our trans-Atlantic cousins, even getting a few amused comments when I reposted this slightly cheeky old favourite that I made a few years ago to do my bit for The Special Relationship.

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And just so it doesn’t give the impression that all I see coming from America is frightening, or insane, or both, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine from over in the U.S. who I have been trying to convince to start blogging.
Her name is Lisa and she regularly posts these beautiful, emotive and reflective pieces on her Facebook feed and they invariably receive many compliments on how well she writes and that she should speak to a wider audience.

My favourites are the poetic, narrative pieces that detail the simple pleasures of observing nature, or just sitting on the porch listening to the night, but I was also enormously touched by the post she wrote the other day about how grateful she was that her husband, Joe was well again:

“My mind makes music of the dehumidifier’s white noise; one time it was strings, but lively, jaunty ones. When Joe was at Cornerstone, the air rushing through the tubes connected to his trach played long, slow cello notes. They never stopped. It was the saddest music I’d ever heard.

I could also hear the bangs booms pops of the fireworks that Fourth of July as I stood by the head of his bed and talked to him. I hoped he couldn’t hear them–Joe had always loved fireworks, loved setting them off, he could build a better display on his own than we ever saw at Island Park what with their tiny budget. Stuck in the hospital bed, he couldn’t even raise himself to look out the window, even if there were any rockets to be seen.

They let me stay in the room, sleeping in a recliner, eating the trays he couldn’t. The food was surprisingly good. In return, I helped the nurses bathe him, clean him, turn him every two hours, change the sheets. I didn’t know it then, but I was learning skills for when the insurance cut off and they sent him home.

I hear the creak as he turns over in bed. It’s better music than the dehumidifier.”

Lisa on man’s inhumanity to man.

“If you’ve read true crime, you’ve probably run across the statement that the killer “had to dehumanize” his victim, that some serial killers view their prey as little more than dolls to be acted upon, and this is always written in tones dripping with horror, that this is such a rare aberration. Some strange mental component that “decent” people like you and I (thankfully!) don’t have.

But we do.

Any time we indulge in racism, sexism, classism, religionism–any of the “isms”, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Any time we make another person “other”, not “one of us” that’s what we’re doing, and it enables us to wreak any violence we please upon them, whether it’s simply slander, or actual physical violence and death–we’re doing exactly what the criminals do.”

on the cynicism of Christmas.

“The surly, churlish “It’s ‘Merry CHRISTmas’, god-dammit!” fad is sheer hilarity on several levels. First being that Jesus, Himself a devout Jew, would have celebrated Hanukkah–one of those holidays in “Happy Holidays” that certain of His followers find so objectionable.

It’s doubtful Jesus would have approved of Christmas, it being a wholly manufactured holiday the later Church used to make Christianity more palatable to its colonized peoples. Pagans had their well-loved “rebirth of the sun” festivals at the Solstice and would have been highly (perhaps violently) resentful and resistant if the Church had forbid them. So, the Church decided that rebirth of the sun could be compatible with the birth of The Son, and permitted the traditional merrymaking under that guise.

If certain of His followers read the New Testament, they’d discover that Jesus viewed non-Jews with marked distaste, habitually making disparaging remarks about Gentiles. Jesus had to be at least tangentially familiar with Roman pagan celebrations during the Solstice. There’s little reason to suppose He’d regard Christmas’s purporting to be a “godly” holiday with anything less than disgust.

Last but not least, the Seventh Commandment prohibits taking the Lord’s name in vain. There isn’t much that exemplifies that better than slapping your lord’s name and endorsement onto a heathen celebration.”

Lisa on the moon.

“And of course I had to go look at the moon.

I missed her full; our sky was solid impenetrable cloud, but tonight they’re breaking up. They march Eastward across her face. She has a little sliver sheared off, looking like she’s peeking at me from under something, or perhaps only her hair falling across her face a little, if her hair was deep blue as the lapis lazuli beads you chose.

And she shines on the snow in the yard, and it does its trick with the Disneyland sparkles to show you that it’s magical, if you didn’t already know. And she shines on the icicles over the door, making them gleam a blue as cold as LED light, but somehow living while LED can’t.

I turn off the kitchen light so I can look out again and she’s printed light on the floor in the pattern of the French door’s frames. The clouds have moved on and she’s bright, it’s bright outside, it might as well be a parking lot, so lit up with the moonlight reflecting from the snow, and from the starlight and the neighbors’ yard lights. It’s cold, it’s a quiet night, but it’s lit up and waiting.”

…and on wacky wildlife.

“Okay, this must be Wacky Wildlife Day.

I look out and see the raccoon waddling up the walk toward the cat food. This doesn’t please me.

I buy cat food for the cats. The bag has a picture of a cat on it; not a raccoon, not the neighbor’s dog, it’s for the cats. Still, as far as raccoons and the mayhem they can commit goes, this is a pretty well-behaved raccoon. If it shows up after hours and finishes off what the cats didn’t eat, that’s more-or-less okay with me. I’m not going to stand sentinel all night to make sure it can’t scrounge the leftovers.

But daylight? Come on.
I open the door and it bounds off, but then stands up in the middle of the yard, looking at me. We stand there for awhile. I don’t have anything handy to chuck at it, so finally I extend my arm and point at it. A lot of animals who have had a rifle pointed at them don’t like that–they’ll run.

I point at the raccoon and it slowly turns and looks behind it, then turns back, like “Who, me?” So I laugh and give up and go back in the house.

Well played, raccoon. Well played.”

**************************************************************************

[If you, like me, would like to see Lisa spread her wings and start a blog of her own so that more people can experience her wonderful writing, please leave a comment and I will gladly pass them on when I next prod her into doing just that.]

And that’s about it.
Just time to fit in my pick for sunset picture of the week.

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Until next time…

 

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One man’s commenter is another man’s troll…

All it takes is a news report on the death of a statesman, rock legend or movie star to bring the usually silent contributors to internet discussions scuttling out of their holes, pouncing on the slightest opportunity to cast their pearls of vindictive wisdom before the common swine of social media.

Such was the case this week with the deaths of both Hollywood star Paul Walker and elder statesman, Nobel Peace Prize winner and all-round international man of the people, Nelson Mandela.

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From the first post on my Facebook newsfeed the morning of Walker’s tragic accident, messages of sympathy and condolence appeared every few minutes, (at which point I have to admit I Googled his name, not being a fan of the Fast and Furious movie franchise that made him famous) and it soon became obvious that he had been a much loved and respected figure in an industry so often populated by superficial and cynical egomaniacs.

In an age when celebrities tend to see a chance to do good deeds as more of an opportunity to get good publicity, it was good to discover – albeit in tragic circumstances – that here was a man who really did “do a lot of work for charity, but I don’t like to talk about it”, not only setting up a disaster relief charity in the wake of a tornado which hit Alabama, but also personally funding and helping distribute aid in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
All without the slightest hint of a photo-op or magazine exclusive.

And yet not 24 hours after this online outpouring of seemingly genuine grief and compassion, the mean spirited, troll-like inhabitants of the Weird Wide Web hunched over their permanently sticky keyboards to start producing rants and memes that would render any subsequent display of public emotion trivial and confrontational.

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First we had a wave of rants berating users of social networking sites like Facebook for posting memorials to Walker which failed to also commiserate with the families of Roger Rodas, the driver of the car in which they both died.
As if they themselves had been busy posting tributes to Rodas the whole time, champions of the common man that they are.

But that was nothing to the pseudo-indignation that was unleashed when, a week later, Mandela died and the whole world mourned a man who many considered the father of modern South African society, a man who was the face and voice of oppressed black South Africans even during 27 years of imprisonment.

It was then that the Trolls went into creative mode, knocking together a particularly fine example of their art.
This one featured pictures of both Walker and Mandela, but instead of showing respect to two good men it chose to once again castigate those unfeeling enough to have paid tribute to a mere film actor when there was a real-life, bona-fide saintly hero to be eulogising.
The text went along the lines of;
“If you’ve spent a week grieving over a dumb movie star and don’t know who this man (Mandela) is, then YOU are what is wrong with the world”

Now, this automatically assumes that anyone with the compassion to mourn for a charismatic and generous entertainer is unable to feel similar emotions toward a Nobel winning politician.
But worse than this is the fact that people are then encouraged to engage with these agent provocateurs, giving them the satisfaction of responding with the skewed logic of trolls everywhere.

For despite having started off their diatribe seemingly in support of the ANC leader, when someone in the comments posts an objection that they should be free to show equal respect for both men, they somehow reverse their position and resort to the fatuous “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” argument, belittling Mandela’s contribution and instigating a less than dignified slanging match between other commenters on the thread, before slinking off to their hole unnoticed.

What none of these anonymous cyber-trolls seem to understand (or more likely choose to ignore) is that some young people who grew up with certain celebrities in their lives really do feel a bond with them and are genuinely devastated when they pass away.
It is almost certainly a more profound and sincere loss than that felt by the politicians and pundits who cry crocodile tears for the cameras at the thought of a week of retrospective news specials and biographical documentaries when a head of state dies.
And I’d like to think that they also don’t give enough credit to those same young people, most of whom are perfectly well aware of what a great man Nelson was and what he contributed to the world.

So don’t give them the satisfaction.

Because unless they read every obituary, in every paper in the world, every day of the year and then mourn the loss of every life lost that day, they are just like the rest of us.
Each of us touched by the lives of others in different ways, not always knowing the way in which our lives are affected by those we don’t get a chance to meet but still open to being part of their legacy.

(Much respect and gratitude to Ho for his fabulous “Cyber-troll” cartoon, done at very short notice this afternoon)

 
 

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Watching the defectives…

As Adam Pain’s Golden Face Palms are only two short weeks away, I have been trying to work out who I shall be accepting the award on behalf of.

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Not that there is any shortage of nominations you understand, but I did make a case for two individuals in particular and I’m intrigued as to which one gets the “honour” of a GFP being bestowed upon them. (I’m thinking that, considering the number of votes both of my nominations subsequently received via other people nominating them, whichever one I don’t pick up the award for won’t miss out anyway)

I feel sure the event is going to be a blast, pitched as it is as a fund raising piss-take of public numptiness.
But for every head-slapping story of inanity, insanity and ineptitude perpetrated by high profile d-list dullards, there are many other, equally deserving ordinary everyday morons members of the public who deserve a mention, locally, nationally and worldwide.

It could be something as simple as the bloke at work who, in an attempt to win favour with our new site manager, went to the trouble of opening a LinkedIn account so he could send the boss an invitation. When the top man accepted, the scoundrel proceeded to use the business networking site to grass up his workmates for talking, using their mobile phones when they should be working and spending too long in the toilet.

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Or it could be the Keystone Spooks story about the security services and jihadi wannabe, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, accused of membership of Somali terrorist group al-Shabab and fitted with an electronic tag as part of the restrictive TPIM (Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures) imposed on him.
Not only did he manage to somehow remove his tracking tag, but he also outwitted his watchers by entering a mosque and, after changing into a full-length woman’s burka, walked straight out under their noses like something out of a satirical remake of Some Like it Hot.

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And while we’re on the topic of inappropriate disguises, how about this for a bit of jaw-dropping stupidity from across the pond.

The ironically named Jessica Black of Craigsville, Virginia thought it would be perfectly acceptable to continue the “family tradition” of dressing up her 7-year-old son, Jackson, in a Ku Klux Klan costume and sending him out Trick or Treating on Halloween, much to the indignation of her neighbours.

You can watch her blithely defending her decision to turn her offspring into a social pariah in this clip from the local news.

But without doubt the prize for the most staggering and serious mishandling of a situation has to go to the police force of West Auckland, New Zealand.

For 2 years Auckland police have known about a deeply unpleasant group of local teenage boys calling themselves the “Roast Busters” whose idea of a good time is getting local underage girls drunk, gang-raping them and then uploading the results to YouTube and Facebook in order to humiliate the girls into keeping quiet.
They even have supporters who set up a fan page to follow their conquests.

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A couple of Roasters. Calm down ladies, you’re not drunk enough.

As if this isn’t atrocious enough, the attitude of those tasked with protecting and serving the community is almost too callous to be believed.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott is quoted as saying that;
“None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage”

I’m sorry, the girls haven’t been brave enough? Are you fucking kidding me?

But I’m sure you came down on the little bastards like the proverbial ton of bricks didn’t you Inspector, cowardly rape victims notwithstanding?
This is what our law enforcing hero had to say on the matter;
“We’ve told them their behaviour is verging on criminal if not criminal, and suggested it cease”

Verging on criminal”?
Suggested it cease”?
Are you out of your tiny mind?

However, I expect the odious little antipodean cassanovas are suitably contrite since their horrible activities have been made public?

Hardly.

Here’s a quote from one of the apparently unfazed members of the gang, responding to accusations that he is, not to put too fine a point on it, a complete scumbag;
“You try and get with the amount of girls we do. This is hard, it’s a job, we don’t do this shit for pleasure.”

Ah bless, you poor thing. It must be awful for you, spending all your pocket money on cheap booze, only to have those ungrateful little trollops get all upset when they wake up with a hangover and no virginity or self respect.
You probably tell them you feel terrible and promise to make amends don’t you?

No?

No. What he actually likes to tell his distraught victims is;
”Go ahead, call the cops, they can’t un-rape you.”

Unbelievable.
Or is it?
Bearing in mind that the delightfully named Roast Busters are made up of, amongst others, the sons of policeman and in one case, the son of a Hollywood movie star, (Anthony Ray Parker, who played “Dozer” in The Matrix) it seems unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon.
Although New Zealand’s 3 News has begun a crusade to publicise their activities, so they may yet have a case to answer.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to inaugurate a worldwide Golden Face Palms ceremony to highlight the sort of outrageous and incomprehensible behaviour this type of cretin engages in, if only to bring it to the attention of those with some power to deal with them, or at the very least to galvanise public opinion against them.

For now I think the inestimable Mr Pain has enough on his plate, but you never know, there’s always next year…

 
9 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Awards, Blogging, News, Social comment, TV

 

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The anti-social network…

When was the last time you were offended or upset by something that a stranger did in public?

Is there a benchmark for inappropriate public behaviour that most people can agree on?

For instance, if a topless woman got on the bus you were travelling on, would you expect anyone to be offended?

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Ok gentlemen, bad example.

How about breast feeding?
Perfectly natural. Nothing unacceptable about that.
At least you wouldn’t have thought so.

Once you get online however, all the usual rules and logic seem to go out the window.

Hypocrisy appears to be the order of the day when it comes to the policies of Facebook in particular.
Only this week the social networking platform flip-flopped their ruling on gratuitously violent content, when they first defended the already once-reversed decision to allow the posting of an incredibly graphic video featuring the beheading of a woman by a Mexican drug gang, then re-reversed the ruling when there was a public backlash that such extreme violence could be so easily accessible by anyone with a Facebook account.

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Yet posting a photo of a woman breast feeding is expressly (no pun intended) forbidden by their nudity policy. In fact the policy, which specifically bans the depiction of a “fully exposed breast”, was rather confusingly cited as the reason for giving me a 24 hour ban from the site after posting the picture below, under the heading “Does anyone think this is an appropriate pose for a family photo?”

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See any breasts?
No.
Ok, it’s wrong on many levels, but it does not contravene the boob law as I understand it.

Even more bizarrely, I received a stern warning from the Fb taste police after posting a photo of a topless woman which most definitely does not contain breasts.
Posted in relation to a story on breast cancer awareness, the following photo shows the beautifully tattooed chest of a woman who has had a double mastectomy.

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See any breasts?
No.

The rules governing what is and what is not acceptable are so arbitrary they seem to have been pulled out of a hat at random and selectively applied to equally random content, without any rhyme or reason whatsoever.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this peculiar interpretation of their own policies it is still entirely possible to view other, similarly gruesome decapitation videos on Facebook without any special access being required.
Not only that, there are pages dedicated to everything from making tasteless jokes about babies dying of cancer to those that promote dog fighting and graphic cruelty to animals. Blatantly racist and misogynistic content seems to sail invisibly past whatever passes for the Fb decency filters, which only ever seem to be activated by mild sexual titillation and the hopefully obvious category of threatening other users with rape or personal violence.

Other platforms are often guilty of comparable lapses of common sense in applying their own rules,  most recently illustrated by Twitter‘s lamentably slow response to the raft of rape and death threats suffered by women such as the history teacher I would have loved to have had at school, Mary Beard, over something as ridiculous as whether or not we had a man or a woman on a bank note.

Really? Bomb threats over something like that?
You wouldn’t have thought the sort of moron who makes anonymous threats on Twitter would have that passionate an aesthetic appreciation of the engraver’s art would you?

And don’t get me started on the self-harm and bulimia glorification showcase that occupies an alarmingly growing percentage of tumblr content.

It’s true that we should have the freedom to watch, read and listen to whatever we want, without the censors second-guessing our moral standards for us. But the fact remains that anybody, including children and anyone else who can access a computer, laptop or smartphone, can join one or more of these ostensibly inoffensive social networks and within minutes be exposed to the type of graphic images once vilified as Snuff Movies.

I don’t claim to have any answers to the dilemma of how to regulate what makes something too offensive to publish, nor do I expect the situation to get anything but more complex as the sprawling embrace of the World Wide Web encompasses more of our daily lives.

But I do have a tenuous link to finish on, with two excellent videos for your entertainment.

The first is most certainly “all done in the best possible taste” showcasing as it does the comedic talents of one of Britain’s best loved and sadly missed performers, Kenny Everett
(Ron from Vent, this is for you)

… and the second most certainly isn’t, because right here you can watch the full length movie of Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson‘s outrageous debut feature length alien/zombie comic horror masterpiece from 1987, Bad Taste.
(Hilarious, but not for those of a delicate disposition or those easily offended, blah, blah, etc, etc..)

Enjoy.
And let’s be careful out there…

 

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