Politicians, Coalitions, Pineapple and Pizza

Well here we are at the end of another election in which another western democracy has largely, once again, made itself look like a widower dancing at his own wife’s funeral. It’s undignified, largely arrhythmical, and depending on whether or not they’ve had a hip replacement, painful to watch. Nobody benefits from being forced to observe such a spectacle of misplaced eccentricity, much in the same way that nobody seems to have really benefited from last week’s general election. (I couldn’t find any videos of old men dancing at funerals, but I did find this, which to me at least appears equally as undignified.)

For the United Kingdom the general election was an unqualified disaster. In the wake of a Brexit vote that split the country 52%/48%, the country needed direction, to be led by a leader with a cast iron mandate. The strong and stable leadership that Theresa May Image result for strong and stable memerepeatedly promised when she called the snap election with a 24 point lead in the polls, ended with her party losing the majority necessary to form a government. This now leaves May, a leader of the Tory party who has never even won a leadership contest, with a barely tenable mandate with which to represent the British people at the Brexit negotiations. The Brexit negotiations being the single most important event to happen in Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall.

In the space of just under 12 months Conservative leadership has called a referendum and an election that has resulted in the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union and ending up with a hung parliament, quite a staggering achievement given that 12 months ago David Cameron was the Prime Minister with a majority of 12, of a country that was still a part of the World’s largest economic bloc. When you consider that the British parliamentary system is stacked in favour of the party which has formed a government, they can call the election whenever they want, they can change the boundaries of constituencies, it becomes really hard to imagine that the Conservatives didn’t engineer their own downfall intentionally. If they didn’t, then they’ve clearly lost touch with the electorate.

Despite not having the number of seats necessary to form a majority government, Theresa May will form a coalition that will enable her to theoretically have a majority. So who’s she inviting on board her political version of the Titanic? The DUP of course, you know the DUP? In British politics there’s the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Green Party, Scottish Nationalist Party, Sinn Féin, Plaid Cymru, and then you’ve got the DUP. The Democratic Unionist Party, they will be the ones invited to form a government with Theresa May. The DUP with their 8 members of parliament will, in theory anyway, hold the power of veto over everything the Tory government try to do. But who are the DUP? Well, they’re the political wing of protestant paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, In other words they’re the yin to the IRA’s yang. They’re the pro United Kingdom terrorist group of Northern Ireland. Jeremy Corbyn was lambasted for having held talks with Sinn Fein during his political career, then only weeks later Theresa May will shamelessly form a government with the political wing of a known terrorist group. Of course if you watch the news no reporter dares to use the word terrorist, because when they appear to be on your side they go by the name of paramilitary. I’m sorry but whatever you chose to call them, it’s still…

But even if we’re able to ignore their paramilitary past, the DUP are fanatically pro choice, something I imagine, that would have not thrilled quite a number of people that decided to vote Conservative just last week. The idea alone of the Conservatives forming a coalition is counter intuitive, the ultimate political oxymoron. It’s a little like expecting a pride of lions to ask you to pull up a chair and share their freshly killed wildebeest with you. I’m afraid to say that the DUP will end up as the DUPed in the event that they form a coalition with the Conservatives. They will inevitably be wowed by the possibility of going into Downing Street. Of being shown the button, with which they’d want to unleash a nuclear strike on the Catholic population of Belfast. But, in reality they’ll be nothing more than a class of 11 year olds on a field trip to a bank. They’ll get to see the tellers count some money, they might even be shown a pie chart, but that’s as close as they’ll ever realistically come to influencing any long term fiscal strategy of the bank. And no politician ever wants to share their power. A politician needs power in the same way a diabetic needs insulin. Interestingly Theresa May is a diabetic, so she craves both. This leads me to wonder which one she could live without the longest, her slipping into a diabetic coma would certainly go a long way towards explaining some of her interviews in the lead up to the election.

Both the referendum and the general election have managed to drive a wedge down the middle of British society. I’m 40 years old, and I’m not sure I can recall the nation being this divided. With divisiveness being a theme which appears to be undermining so many western democracies, I was interested to learn that Sam Panopoulos passed away last week. Panopoulos was the leader of the Democratic Ulster Unionists for… No he actually had a far more positive impact than that; Panopoulos claimed to be the man who first conceived the idea of putting pineapple onto a pizza.

Like Brexit, Theresa May, and Donald Trump, putting pineapple on top of a pizza is a contentious matter, an acquired tase. And just like Brexit, Theresa May, and Donald Trump, the opinion you have regarding whether it’s reasonable to put pineapple on a

Image result for nazi pizza
Catering to a niche market, Josef Koch bakes pizzas and offers free delivery to customers on the right side of town. The far right side of town.

pizza can be used to determine the opinions that you probably hold about a swathe of other social issues. Just how if you support Trump people will assume that you’re against immigration, for the second amendment, and against commonsense. People that support using pineapple as a pizza topping are seen as progressive liberals who support immigration, gay marriage and universal healthcare. Compare this to the pizza that was most popular during Hitler’s Third Reich where olives and salami came to symbolise, strength, supremacy, and purity of the Aryan race.

 

Panopoulos’ Hawaiian pizza became political just before he died, when last year the president of Iceland said he would ban pineapple as a topping on pizzas if he could. At the time this created quite a stir amongst the press as they dreamed of a Neroesque president ruling over a remote volcanic island, issuing decrees about pizza toppings while making their pet dog commander of the Navy. Unfortunately for the media the evil Bond villain they desired never manifested, instead he was just expressing his opinion about pineapple being added to pizza, during a question and answer session with a group of high school children. President Gudni Th. Johannesson went on to state that it would be an abuse of his power to ban pineapple from being a pizza topping. This didn’t prevent the media from running with the following ridiculous headlines:

 

Iceland leader reveals desire to outlaw Hawaiian

pizza http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2017/02/iceland-leader-reveals-desire-to-outlaw-hawaiian-pizza.html

If he had his way, Iceland’s President would ban pineapple pizza

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/21/europe/iceland-president-pineapple-pizza-ban-trnd/index.html

Iceland’s President wants Hawaiian pizza ban

http://www.skynews.com.au/culture/offbeat/2017/02/22/iceland-s-president-wants-hawaiian-pizza-ban.html

 

To round things off some funny clips from the British general election. They’ll leave you wondering why we all get so worked up about having the right to vote when you have to choose people like this.

An opportunistic reporter, bored with having to listen to Boris Johnson’s wool gathering and navel gazing, takes the initiative and stabs the foreign secretary in the face with his microphone:

 

After enjoying an election result that few predicted, Jeremy Corbyn congratulates one of hie colleagues by slapping them on the breast:

This one’s from Australia, remember when I mentioned that some suspect that our education systems are being dumbed down:

 

 

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The Irony, Paradox and Contradiction of Milo Yiannopoulos

milo
Milo’s act is nothing new, part circus freak show combined with unemployed pantomime drag act. For his followers though he appears “cutting edge” and “risqué”.

So he’s back. The self proclaimed provocateur, troll queen, out of work pantomime drag act, Milo Yiannopoulos is back. Much like a turd that refuses to go quietly around the u-bend, Yiannopoulos resurfaced last week on NBC, announcing that he will undertake a new tour hell bent on attacking the sensitivities of the over sensitive.

We haven’t seen Milo since his resignation from Breitbart following widespread condemnation of his comments on the gay age of consent, even though this reaction came a year after he initially made the comments. Yes, the comments he made could be construed as inappropriate, but doesn’t the fact that the outrage took a year to be expressed call into question the degree of sincerity and authenticity behind the sentiment?

Now that the dust has settled, and if we’re all honest about it, what really happened was some of the people who find Yianopoulos to be an odious twit,  of which there is no shortage, became aware of some distasteful comments he made on a podcast called the Drunken Peasants. These people saw the opportunity to twist Yiannopoulos’ comments around into arguing that he sympathised with paedophilia. The fact that the outrage occurred over a year after he made the comments can be, perhaps cynically, attributed to Yianopoulos’ increasing fame and the impending release of his new book. Don’t get me wrong, I found Milo’s comments on child abuse to be crass and flippant, but let’s be honest, Yiannopoulos would fellate his own grandfather if he knew it would get him a minutes worth of media exposure.

I know that ­­­whenever anyone starts a sentence by saying, “I’m not homophobic, but…”, they tend to go on to say something extremely homophobic. So let’s see what happens when I give it a whirl. I’m not homophobic, but I get really annoyed when someone uses their sexuality as gimmick to support their argument, and that is precisely what Yiannopoulos does. Like some sort of failed pantomime drag act, Yiannopoulos openly admits to using an outrageously camp style to deliver his message. For people that have lived a sheltered life, this mincing polemicist appears to be avant-garde, the enigmatic paradox of a conservative homosexual is enough to fascinate people and keep them entertained. Add to this his supposed Catholic faith and Yiannopoulos provides us with an act, or character of contradictions, capable of causing considerable cognitive dissonance.

But when I look at this character objectively, I realise that he’s nothing more than a manufactured iconoclast,a giant zeitgeisty contradiction. He talks about basing arguments on facts while espousing a belief in an unprovable supernatural deity. He’s openly homosexual yet claims to be Catholic, despite the fact that homosexuality isn’t accepted by the Catholic church. But Yiannopoulos’ religious experience doesn’t end with him being a Catholic, rather it goes on to include that he was abused by a Catholic priest while he was a minor. This is a perpetual chain of contradictions, contradictions that have been contrived in order to generate interest.

I do find Mr. Yiannopoulos entertaining, in the same way that in the past I have found other drag acts to be. But Yiannopoulos confuses his audience, which doesn’t seem to be an especially difficult thing to do, as they fail to discern between the bawdy, drag entertainment that is paired with an essentially hateful rhetoric. In essence it would be like having Ronald McDonald present a plan for the reintroduction of slavery, it looks fun but hides a sinister message. Milo Yiannopoulos has created a  comical character to deliver a divisive message that people find intriguing. But, he’s a character filled with contradictions, and theses contradictions extend to his message.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole Milo phenomena is how a gay Brit has become a champion for American rights? I mean the irony alone of a British person, whether gay or not, upholding the rights that a country granted themselves after becoming independent of Britain, should make Milo’s platform an impossibility. What’s next, a German lesbian Nazi giving speeches in Tel Aviv on the dangers of antisemitism? Or, what about an executive of a petrochemical company lecturing groups of native Americans on protecting the environment? It just seems to go against the grain, that a Brit is motivated to protect the liberties of a country that got its liberty from the country he is a citizen of.

Sometimes I start to suspect that Milo Yiannopoulos’ concern for the First Amendment might actually be disingenuous, and that he’s just stumbled upon a cause that feeds his insatiable appetite for infamy, and rewards him for expressing the same tired, old opinions ad nauseum, leaving him sounding like a satnav system going round a roundabout. Feminism, Islam, immigration,  freedom of speech, feminism, Islam, immigration, freedom of speech, and on, and on…There’s an election in his own country, doesn’t he feel compelled to weigh in with his polemic discourse, or is he only interested in America because that’s where his circus act, freak show makes the most money? It’s certainly a puzzle. I haven’t seen his desire for standing up for the freedom of speech for the people in say Zimbabwe,  as a former member of the British Commonwealth it would actually make more sense, with the one exception, it wouldn’t make Milo anywhere near as much money.

It’s also interesting to note that Yiannopoulos’ passion for our right to the freedom of speech fails to extend to his own website, which censors all comments before they appear on it. You see the freedom of speech only works for Milo and his supporters when it suits them. Is this hypocritical?

Milo – Why Today’s Troll is just Tomorrow’s Social Justice Warrior

Hasn’t anybody else realised the contradiction inherent in the whole Milo argument? Milo has identified so called Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) as having been the catalyst behind the problems that have developed as a result of unenforced immigration practices, extreme feminism, political correctness,  and a failure to require Islam to adopt western values. And up to a point he’s absolutely right. Where I take issue with Yiannopoulos is with his identifying Social Justice Warriors as being the problem, and I take issue for two reasons.

Firstly, the people who riot, get angry, and generally act irrationally at the slightest provocation, on issues that don’t directly affect them aren’t SJW’s, they’re simply idiots. And as such idiots are everywhere, like Steve Miller once said, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. Idiocy permeates across the entirety of the political spectrum. Branding idiots as SJW’s is giving idiocy more credit than it deserves. These people are what they are, idiots. To me at least it appears ironic that today we’re calling idiots, Social Justice Warriors, it sounds like a politically correct way of just referring to idiocy.

Secondly, let’s look at a definition of Social Justice Warrior and compare that to what Milo Yiannopoulos himself does:

A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=social%20justice%20warrior

  • The first sentence of the definition:

“…an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.”

Milo fulfils this criteria thus:

Milo’s whole argument is centred around our right to the freedom of expression. Given that this is the protected by first amendment it isn’t unreasonable to infer that the freedom of speech is considered the most fundamental of our inalienable rights. Therefore, isn’t anyone who believes there is a need to campaign for it, to some degree campaigning for social justice, and QED must themselves be a Social Justice Warrior?

  • The second sentence of the definition states:

A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of.

The fact that there is a British man arguing for American constitutional rights, would appear to me to be incongruous and therefore disingenuous. What’s next, a campaign against pig farming subsidies in Latvia?

  • The third sentence of the definition of a Social Justice Warrior reads:

They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return.

Ben Shapiro is the brainchild of the majority of Yiannopouolos’ opinions. Both were former employees at Breitbart, essentially their only difference is the proclivity one of them has for thinking that wearing a dress strengthens their message.

  • The final sentence of the defeinition states:

They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

As a contrarian, a polemicist, an iconoclast and self professed troll, Yiannopoulos, like any good entertainer, plays to the expectations of his audience. To his credit Yiannopoulos has full awareness of what has garnered him so much interest, and he continues to feed it. This is largely why we’ve never seen any change in his act nor his message. Yiannopoulos sounds controversial, but in essence all he is saying is exactly what is audience hopes he will, a message that challenges the establishment and political correctness. A message that Milo Yiannopoulos appears willing to continue to repeat for as long as there are people willing to listen to him and give him their money.

Milo Yiannopoulos is little more than a carefully created character, part circus freak, part drag act. He’s made politics accessible to a generation that were raised by games consoles as opposed to parents. Yiannopoulos’ greatest appeal is that he makes his audience feel that they are more intelligent by feeding them with arguements that challenge the status quo. But at the end of the day it’s nothing more than an act, if P. T. Barnum were alive today Milo Yiannopoulos would be placed centre stage, because both of them believe in the following Barnum saying:

quote-there-s-a-sucker-born-every-minute-p-t-barnum-303184

Post Script

Only hours after I posted this article, Milo Yiannopoulos released tasteless and crass comments in the wake of the terrorist attack st the Manchester Arena. Yiannopoulos that suggested that Ariana Grande sympathises with Islamic extremism. For a man who apparently bases his reasoning on facts, we should ll be asking what proof he has for this outrageous suggestion.

Much of the hatred towards Grande stems from comments she made in a doughnut shop over 2 years ago. I find it ironic, hypocritical even, that conservatives can’t forget this while they have told us all to stop talking about a president and his pussy grabbing comments. I’m starting to suspect that this up surge of conservatism led by Mr. Yiannopoulos is just a hypocritical as the loony liberals who preceded them.

The Alt-Right: Because Simple Things Please Simple Minds #2

“The need to retell the story of totalitarianism has become a frozen lesson in history rather than a narrative necessary to understanding the present.” http://www.cjournal.info/2015/08/21/the-plague-of-american-authoritarianism/

It’s just been recommended to me that it’s a good time to read Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. I agree, but unfortunately I’ve already read it, probably at a time that wasn’t as good as now, but I haven’t got the time to reread it as I’m currently reading another book that I’ve also been told ‘it’s a good time to read,’ Sinclair Lewis’ It Could Never Happen Here. I’m reading It Could Never  Happen Here after having just finished Camus’ The Plague, it also having been recommended to me on the basis of ‘it’s a good time to read.’ Other literary titles that seem to be being recommended as apropos are the unimaginative dystopian trio of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Frankly if you’re over the age of 21 and haven’t already read these then I guess you’ve probably been too busy watching America’s Got Talent while masturbating into a sock. Recently I’ve also been recommended, and purchased, Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron JamesA People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and a rather more upbeat title, Utopia for Realists: Why Making the World a Better Place Isn’t a Fantasy and How We Can Do It, by Rutger Bregman. I suspect that by the time I get round to finish reading these it will no longer be ‘a good time’ to read them, as Chelsea Clinton will  have just become the president having edged out Kim Kardashian in an election that was so close it had to be resolved in the most democratic means available to a celebrity worshiping society, a naked mud wrestling splashdown, broadcast on pay per view, in high definition, surround sound. It’s either this or that sun dried fart of a president, Donald Trump, will have reduced our species to a pile of radioactive dust. I’ve also heard that Amazon has seen a surge in people wanting to read Mein Kampf, maybe because ‘it’s a good time.’

I just finished reading Camus’ The Plague, not as famous as The Stranger, but certainly no less skillfully written. Camus’ The Plague is a stifling, suffocating tale of a small Algerian town placed under quarantine after an outbreak of bubonic plague. It has been suggested that the story is an allegory of how Nazi ideology spread throughout Germany in the years leading up to World War 2, and the seemingly futile efforts of the French Resistance as they tried to find ways of overcoming the Nazi occupation.

After the apparent failure of the electoral college system, future presidents will be decided by naked mud wrestling. I also predict that most presidential elections will be contested between women, on pay per view television, broadcast to huge global audiences, of men.

While reading The Plague, it didn’t require any great leap of imagination to liken the spread of a highly contagious disease to the rapid spread of the alt right ideology. (An absolutely shameless and poor attempt to segue into what it is that I’m trying to say. I could have actually put in my opening paragraph; if I hadn’t become side tracked by dystopian literature, and the equally dystopian level of nudity that I predict will be required to decide our governments of the future.)

Despite having a name that sounds like a keyboard short cut it should be no surprise that the alt right has gained the majority of its following through the internet. The internet has proven to be an ideal breeding ground to facilitate the pervasive spreading of an ideology that only a couple of years ago would never have been discussed in public. The anonymity afforded by the internet has enabled people to voice radical opinions and meet up with others holding similar views. Over a relatively short period of time the numbers of people that have banded together sharing concerns over immigration, Islamic terrorism, feminism, and the preservation of the right to the freedom of expression, have increased at an alarming rate. To help put this into context I refer to the arbiter of public consciousness, Google. Type the terms ‘alt right’ into Google and you’ll get a choice of just over a quarter of a billion results to look at. Search ‘Democratic Party’ and you get a measly 64 million hits, search ‘US Constitution’ and you have what appears like an anemic choice of just over 10 million sources to look at.  If the internet is the new battleground then it’s obvious that the alt right are winning the war. Mind if you do a search for ‘evil cat’, that’ll get you 43 million responses. So whether or not we should be fearing an alt right, evil cat coalition, or that the internet is really nothing more than a digital rubbish tip of mankind’s deranged sensibilities, I’ll leave you to decide.

Apparently this is what the internet looks like.
However, I’m inclined to think that it looks more like this,.

 

The alt right has used the right to the freedom of expression as a foothold to gain itself a tenuous amount of legitimacy. They promote themselves as being the only political ideology that truly upholds this right, the self proclaimed guardians of the first amendment. It’s most likely that they’ve been able to achieve this as they’ve held opinions that were unutterable in civilized gatherings for the past twenty years. This logic is however flawed as any morally bankrupt ideology would be able to lay claim having had their freedom of expression limited by societal norms and values. For instance, and much to my own chagrin, people are very reluctant to engage in conversation that are open to considering the benefits of necrophilia. The truth is that the freedom of speech for those with repugnant ideas is no less than anybody else’s, what has to also be considered is the right that a large number of people have to react to those that espouse hate filled ideologies.

When Milo Yiannopoulos discussed his opinion that relationships between middle aged men and teen boys can be ‘life affirming.’ Mr. Yiannopoulos had the freedom, and made the choice, to express this opinion. His publishers Simon & Schuster, who were due to publish Yiannopoulos’ book, then exercised their right to react to Yiannopoulos’ statement by withdrawing their support and cancelling the book deal.

When a person promotes racist values that another person finds to be offensive, that person has just exercised their right to express their opinion. Anyone who listens to an opinion that they might disagree with, or find offensive, then has the right to disassociate themselves from such persons, who express such opinions. Simply put, we all have the right to say whatever it is we want, but we should also realize that there might be consequences to what we choose to say, in the form of how others might choose to respond to it.

And this is where I believe that we find ourselves today. A sizable group of people have, through the internet, suddenly found themselves empowered to express an extremely polemic point of view, leaving us with a society that is essentially in shock. The alt right is shocked that they have been able to voice opinions after they’ve had to bite their tongues for so long. The liberals meanwhile, are shocked there are so many people with such horrible ideas, and not enough people are thinking about the children.

Researching the ideology of the alternative right feels like driving to the dentists during the rush hour, because it’s an ideology that’s driven by fear, promotes intolerance and ultimately arrives at its final destination of self-loathing. Essentially what underpins the political philosophy of the alt right – I say political philosophy even though it has a set of opinions that are about as diverse as a satnav system stuck going round a roundabout – is nihilism. The alt right essentially rejects any reality that is in conflict with its own. It simply ignores the fact that culturally, racially, and economically our societies have become complex. Diversity has been the result of technology being able to transport people and goods, more quickly and cheaper than ever before. This doesn’t appeal to the mindset of the alternative right.

Steve Bannon, doyen of the alt right and Donald Trump’s chief strategist, promotes what he calls economic nationalism. According to Bannon, economic nationalism is the antithesis of globalization. Economic nationalism puts the American worker first, particularly when that worker is a white male.  Bannon’s idea of economic nationalism provides us with an almost tangible glimpse into what an alt right Utopia would look like. It hearkens back to the days of 1950’s America. An America that rewarded hard working men, provided they came in the right shade of white. America before the civil rights movement. As a baby boomer this was the America that Steve Bannon grew up in, which makes me wonder if economic nationalism is nothing more than Bannon’s fantasy to relive his youth; so he can murder his father and have sex with his mother in order to fulfill an Oedipal complex that has laid dormant in him for the best part of half a century. I tried to make that last bit sound funny, but I can’t. It’s difficult to make a joke about a man who has admitted in public that he  respects the power of Satan and who might also, in my opinion probably does, harbor sexual fantasies for his own mother.

Steve Bannon would have been a highly impressionable 7 year old child when Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was released in 1960. Compelling evidence thus proving his sexual desires for his own mother.

Bannon’s economic nationalism has been criticized as populist in its appeal. As being an ideology that over simplifies economic issues, reducing them to the sort of sound bites that appeal to a stigmatized group, which in this case happens to be the working class white male of the American Rust Belt. Perhaps the most fundamental premise at the foundation of the alt right ideology is a belief that western culture has been destroyed by years of liberal economic
policy. The sorts of policies that have made it easier for the free movement of goods and people have been blamed for causing the economic downturn that has caused the rust belt. Being opposed to economic policies that promote globalization is a perfectly valid opinion for a person to have, but this opinion starts to become a concern when it’s hijacked by a group of people that espouse populist rhetoric in order to appeal to a group of people and get them believing that they have been the targets of economic policies that have seen other ethnic groups taking their jobs. Such rhetoric is extremely effective at spreading fear and hatred of the groups that appeared to have not fared as poorly. This type of rhetoric can cause alarm as it echoes that of Hitler identifying the Jews as the cause of Weimar Germany’s economic disaster.

But if I’m honest then I have to admit that I’m utterly bored, even contemptuous towards the economy. Whilst all of us have grown up to unquestioningly believe that economics and politics are ingredients fundamental to the running of a developed society, politics and economics have been the exclusive domain of  intellectuals and economists. On the one hand we are made to feel that the health of the economy we live in is so vital that it closely mirrors our own well being. If the economy was a game that truly affects us all then I’d refuse to play as I have very little understanding of the rules. In fact the only people who do know the rules seem to be the sort of people I read about after they’ve drained all the money out of a pension fund.

Banking, as far as I can tell, seems to be almost as precise a science as using a slot machine. You either blindly hope for the best, delude yourself into thinking you’ve worked out a system, or open it up when no one’s looking and rig the settings so it’ll pay out illegally.

I Can Make You Hate Hardcover –  Charlie Brooker

 

Pete’s idea to “maximize synergistic e-commerce,” was not met with universal approval.

Just spend 5 minutes watching Bloomberg, inevitably you’ll hear two people trading economic jargon in a sort of duel to the death to prove who owns the most absurd lexicon. A man wearing a blue suit with a hair style so impossible that it defies all hitherto understanding of the laws of physics will open with an idea to “cultivate robust e-services,” the other participant in this discussion of virtual economic pugilism, parries this opening salvo and counters with “benchmark web-enabled e-commerce,” this backs the impossible hair into a corner, forcing them to respond with “scale out-of-the-box partnerships,” this for a moment catches his opponent off guard, he seems to stagger, his eyes roll back in his head, before he gathers his senses and unleashes a devastating combination of “brand vertical networks,” quickly followed by “productize clicks-and-mortar e-markets”. There’s an awkward pause as the hair realizes that he’s beaten, defeated in a contest that I failed to understand a single word of, and find hard to imagine that anyone else who’s just watched it has been able to comprehend.

The fact that the economic system is so unintelligible means that it relies on a public suspension of disbelief. A tacit understanding from the working classes that just because it sounds complicated, and that money is important, this imbues it with all the credibility that is necessary. I however am more cynical than that, and suspect that the financial sector has invented a lexicon so impenetrable so as to place itself outside of the realm of common sense, thus enabling those with an understanding of its strange, esoteric language, carte blanche to steal as much money as and when they like. The economy has done its best to marginalize the working class, who have then been told to hate immigrants, or globalization as being the reasons why they have lost their jobs, when in actual fact their frustrations should be focused on the bankers who will remain in their jobs irrespective of whatever government we might have.

If there’s one thing that the election of Donald Trump and Brexit should have taught all of us it’s that the working class, and in particular the white working class, are tired of being framed pejoratively by a media that has for too long looked down its nose at them. And this is an incredibly dangerous thing to have done which again has been seized upon by, the psycho with an unrealized fantasy of sleeping with his mother, Steve Bannon. Discrediting the media strikes a chord with working class people that have good reason to feel that it has failed to represent either them, or their concerns for a very long time. When a government is able to discredit a weak media it removes society’s most effective means of enforcing checks and balances upon that government. Being supported by a group of people that have long since seen it given up on listening to reason, who are now convinced that their government are the only voice of truth, inevitably empowers that government to do essentially whatever it pleases.

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-on-media-steve-bannon-donald-trump-nigel-farage

Despite trying to consider the Trump government, and the alternative right with an open mind, what I struggle to get beyond it its sense of nihilism. It seems to believe that everything that has been done over the course of the past 20 years has been wrong to such an extreme that everything must be discarded and replaced. It makes me feel that the last 20 years were all just a waste of time, and that we would have all been better off if we’d just stayed at home, watched The X Factor and masturbated into a sock, which is largely what I think most of us were doing. It rejects any idea that mankind is just one race, the human race. Instead it concentrates all of its malevolent energy into focusing on what makes people different. It then takes these differences and tries to convince mostly the white working class males, that these differences mean that diverse societies are incapable of peace or prosperity. The Utopia of the alternative right would seem to be a homogeneous society of people whose shade of white only varies according to how long ago it was they were last on holiday. However, whether these holidays could be taken abroad remains unclear. With the alternative right being so fearful of economic globalization and cultural diversity, holidaying in a country that dares to speak a different language or eat rice will probably not be possible if the fantasy of the alternative right comes to fruition.

I can see how the alternative right is being made to appeal to white, working class males. But I end where I started, with a quote from Camus’ The Plague, which is how I would feel if I found myself supporting the alternative right:

I was with them and yet I was alone. When I spoke of these matters they told me not to be so squeamish; I should remember what great issues were at stake. And they advanced arguments, often quite impressive ones, to make me swallow what none the less I couldn’t bring myself to stomach. The Plague – Albert Camus

Below are some pages that might interest you if you’re looking for more in depth, and frankly better written articles. Not something that sounds like it just leaked out of the mind of a person that was having their soul devoured by a xenophobic, hate filled wraith at four in the morning.

Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos and Cultural Libertarianism?

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Trump finally gets to show us all what big hands he’s got.

It’s pointless to even write about Trump, it only feeds the beast. Whatever you say is inevitably subjected to, and twisted by a perverse sense of logic, spun in a way so as to support  a new ideology that resembles something dreamt up by the mind of a prepubescent delinquent in the throes of an elaborate meth binge. I say ideology but at the centre of an ideology there must be some sort of coherent idea, and as yet I’m not sure that Trump has ever had one of those. Trump simply thrives off of attention, whether it’s good or bad. Like Oscar Wilde once said,

There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about.

Since Trump’s inauguration, I have on a couple of occasions been in conversation with people who expressed opinions along the lines of how certain past writers would be reacting to this current state of affairs. Writers and social commentators like George Orwell, Christiopher Hitchens, Tom wolfe, Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson, each of whom possessed the ability to express their observations with a well honed laser like focus and precision that enabled them to clinically dissect their way to the heart of any situation. While I agree that they were all exceptional writers, I disagree that they would have found Trump to be a muse worthy of any great journalistic endeavour. This opinion might surprise you, I’m not saying that Trump wouldn’t have shocked them like he has nearly everyone else, but as a subject of skillful and considered pieces of journalism Trump is severely lacking. The reason for this is that Trump is too easy a target, about as big a challenge as shooting fish in a barrel. Writing about Trump is like trying to get your voice heard amongst a crowd of drunken, vociferous football supporters, whatever it is you have to say, no matter how enlightening, will inevitably be drowned out by chants that imply the referee is addicted to masturbation.

Trump is the tip of the iceberg, a clown at the head of a vanguard, beating a drum heralding in the dawn of a new era. A post-truth age, the epoch of the alternative fact. Every literary or artistic movement is a rebellion to that which preceded it. For what has seemed like an eternity, the catch-all, inescapable terms that have been used to define postmodernism have shackled the potential for artistic creativity and expression. Political correctness has been perhaps the most pervasive and pernicious progeny of the fetid fertility of postmodernism. Recently people have asked the question what would Obama’s legacy will be? And the answer is simple, Obama was a part of the system that produced an audience willing to listen to Trump’s perverse rhetoric. The ambiguity and lack of identity that has resulted out of the centrist, middle ground politics of presidents Jimmy Carter through to Barrack Obama, helped spawn this love child that we now see kicking and screaming before us, the brat that we are labeling the Alt-Right. But, as they say hindsight is 20/20, it’s fairly straightforward to see how we now find ourselves in a Bunyanesque slough of despond.

I’ve seen the healthy cynicism of a generation of our youth trying to satisfy its intellectual needs by feeding off of the vast, barren plains of the internet. Somewhat like an all you can eat buffet at McDonald’s,  while appealing to the palates of the masses and satisfying the hunger of only a few, its nutritional deficiencies leave the consumer inevitably suffering long term health issues as well as preventing them from ever gaining the experience of, and sustenance from, a more wholesome diet. It is impossible to understate the role that the internet has played in facilitating the rapid and alarming rise of the alt right.

Milo Yiannopoulos

milo-yiannopoulos-nimble-america
Perhaps the most universally hated in America is half British half Greek, 100% gay Milo Yiannopoulos.

A polemicist, an agent provocateur, or what the digital age reduces to calling pejoratively, a troll. Right now Milo is the voice of the Alt Right, and a self proclaimed cultural libertarian. Yiannopoulos is an advocate for the freedom of speech, thought and expression. As a half Greek half British, 100% gay pseudo-celebrity aggressively defending America’s first amendment, one might quickly disregard this most improbable of characters. Initially demonized to me by the headlines of articles, that until this week I’d never even bothered to read as he appeared to me to be nothing more than a celebrity whose agenda was just to put make the Opinions of the new president look moderate, even warm and fuzzy. He uses his sexuality as a weapon in a carefree and blatantly offensive way, often making casual references to how he has a penchant for fellating black men,  to intimidate his listeners and put them immediately on the back foot. Leading a rainbow colored crusade up to the heavily fortified citadel of political correctness. Adopting a siege warfare mentality,  loading his verbal trebuchets with payloads of acerbic vitriol and charging at the doors of decency with an enormous battering ram shaped like phallus. Yiannopoulos has declared war against what most people would consider common decency.

Milo Yiannopoulos’ The Dangerous Faggot Tour has provoked a firestorm of criticism as it makes its way across the universities of the United States, and that’s nothing less than what has always been his intention. Only 32 years old and a senior editor of the alt right American news website Breitbart, he has been responsible for producing articles with the titles Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer, and Birth Control Makes Women Ugly and Crazy. He shot to infamy after having been banned from Twitter for branding one of the female stars, Leslie Jones, of the unwatchable Ghost Busters reboot, a dude and a man.

This was a far as I’d got with this blog article before the enigmatic Milo’s already volatile career took a rather dramatic turn as a result of comments he made during a show streamed live on YouTube over a year ago, coming back to haunt him. The opinions that Milo expressed were  quite easily interpreted as being that of an apologist towards paedophilia. These comments have resulted in him losing a book deal which had record pre-sales, and having to resign from his post at Breitbart, but given the publicity they have gotten him I’d be very surprised if lost any sleep over the public condemnation he’s recieved. It is from this point on that continuing to write about Milo has felt like jumping down a rabbit hole into a world of nebulous, vague and fallacious reasoning. The comments that Yiannopoulos’ made during the Drunken Peasants show streamed live on YouTube in January 2016. The video is attached below. If you only wish to listen to Milo’s most inflammatory comments, (which I advise as the show itself reminds me of one of those conversations that you’d get into at a bar at two in the morning, in some small town, jerky chewing backwater that the United States has been so adept at nurturing) then they start at around 56 minutes. That’s not to say that the opinions he expresses prior to this are in any way reasonable, it’s just that they tend to become less memorable once he starts to discuss the issue of paedophilia and the age of consent.

Milo went on to express a similar set of opinions When he appeared on Joe Rogan’s radio show some six months later. Watching the video below left me with the same uncomfortable feelings I  experienced while reading Nabakov’s Lolita. What makes Yiannopolous’ comments that much more disturbing is that he relates the stories in the first person, a trick that has been in the armory of story tellers since the dawn of time and one that didn’t escape Nabakov.

 

Paedophilia is always a highly dangerous topic for humour. Myself, I only know one paedophile joke and I take into very careful consideration the company that I’m in before I venture to tell it. If I’m honest the joke itself is pretty weak and really just trades off of the shock value that the joke teller has decided to tell it. I’m no comedian, in fact when I told people I intended to be a comedian they all laughed at me, well they’re not laughing now. But even to me, the subject of  paedophilia appears to be somewhat anaemic at best in its opportunities for humour. It’s considered the fifth worst topic to make a joke about by the website http://www.ranker (a website whose name alone is enough to make me smirk like a mischievous school boy who’s just been caught staring at his teacher’s breasts). They list the top 5 inappropriate topics of humour as follows:

  1. Rape
  2. Miscarriage
  3. Burn victims
  4. Animal cruelty
  5. Paedophilia

http://www.ranker.com/list/worst-things-to-make-jokes-about/robert-wabash

quote-they-all-laughed-when-i-said-i-wanted-to-be-a-comedian-well-they-re-not-laughing-now-bob-monkhouse-71-2-0233

 

Milo’s interview with Joe Rogan is disturbing and there should be little doubt that it was ever intended to be anything else, but a person doesn’t have to spend much time or effort to find people saying things that can be reasonably argued as being equally inappropriate. The jokes made by the comedians in the video compilation below make reference to the real life cases of the murders and abductions of children, people jumping to their deaths on September 11th, and the practice of necrophilia with victims of the holocaust, but none of these were capable of courting the controversy that Milo has achieved recently.

 

 

Is Milo Yiannopolous just a new type of celebrity spawned out of the moral vacuum that is the internet? A direct descendant of the genealogy of shock humour? The inevitable progeny that had to follow on from Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Bill Hicks, Dennis Pennis , and Frankie Boyle? My own personal opinion is that Yiannopolous is just a pioneer for the next generation of media whore. I’m not even sure that Yiannopoulos even exists or whether he’s just a character that has been skillfully constructed just to annoy the masses. The combination of far right, flamboyantly gay Catholic, and Breitbart editor, is a volatile mixture that will raise the hackles of anyone who considers themselves to be “reasonable”. But, I very much doubt that these ingredients were something that have randomly coalesced to form society’s most toxic cocktail, instead they have been skillfully blended together in order to serve us with the most indigestible aperitif possible. Essentially Milo is a new Sacha Baron Cohen character with the exception that we don’t know the person who is playing Milo, and it is this that makes his character so entertaining. Milo is shock art in the genre of social media for the 21st century and as such he’s about as original as a Star Wars reboot.

Anyone older that forty will remember that back in the late eighties through the turn of the millennia Madonna produced a number of music videos that were quickly banned by MTV and therefore immediately garnering them more attention and ensuring that they would be immortalised in pop folk lore. Entertainment has always found room to accommodate the shock artist and it always will. It would be wrong to consider shock art as a necessary evil, it’s an essential part of the fabric in the tapestry of entertainment.

maurizio-cattelan-la-nona-ora-1999
A tongue in cheek piece of art work by Maurizio Cattelan showing the Pope at that time Pope John Paul II after being struck down by a meteorite.

What can, and can’t be said? What is and isn’t acceptable? Who decides what is decent? Is there anyone decent enough out there to be empowered with deciding upon decency? Isn’t it always the case that if somebody doesn’t like what they are watching or listening to always has the right to reply or walk away?

Shock artists have pervaded every medium of society and entertainment, from comedy, through to politics, from sport through to art. Polemics have been offending their way to making a living since the time of ancient Greece. The word itself deriving from the Greek Polemikos, meaning warlike or confrontational.

andres-serrano-piss-christ-vandalized
Going one step further Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. A photo of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s own urine. This proved too much for a group of French Catholic Fundamentalists who destroyed a print of the photograph that was on display.

I had intended to finish this piece with the following quote by Volataire:

‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that!

 

It is from this that we hear the somewhat tired and overused saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. This is commonly misattributed to Voltaire, instead, these are the words of a biographer of Voltaire Evelyn Hall, whose aim it was to summarise Voltaire’s ideas on the freedom of speech.

One thing that we probably can’t deny is that this week Milo Yiannopoulos dropped the cultural libertarian version of the atomic bomb. It’s difficult to find any meaning in the destruction he’s left behind if we are to allow a person’s right to the freedom of speech to include the right to make the comments that Mr. Yiannopoulos decided to make. Despite the grotesque nature of some of his comments, I do still stand by every human’s right to be able to say whatever they wish, no matter how gratuitous, inappropriate or disgusting it might be. Ultimately the audience must be responsible and exercise their right to respond, not to listen, or marginalise people that express views that promote the suffering of others.

So for today at least, I can still say that I disagree with what Milo says, but will defend to the death his right to say it.

 

 

 

The Obituary of The American Dream

lady-liberty-crying

Today we take the time to mourn the passing of our dear old friend, The American Dream, who has been with us for so many years. No one knows exactly how old he was, although some appeared to be alluding to him as early as 1630 (Winthrop), and although he was not explicitly referred to by name, his spirit appeared in The Declaration of Independence when Thomas Jefferson asserted that everyone in America — at least, those who weren’t enslaved by the colonists — was entitled to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. No one is even certain of when exactly he passed away, although his condition had been deteriorating for some time.

The American Dream lived alongside his brothers and simple democratic principles, limited government and popular sovereignty. Sadly it was one of these, that like Kane conspired to bring about his demise.  Limited Government and The American Dream were once the closest of siblings, but then as we know limited government became manipulated by the Irish hooligan, Bill O’Rights. Now Bill started out as a well meaning old soul, but his second amendment led to wild bouts of drinking, brawling, a proclivity to use guns and encourage others to use guns. This behavior became problematic, for Limited government would try to intervene, but being limited, he found the unruly Bill O’Rights too powerful to see the error of his ways. In the end limited government had to stand idly to one side as Bill O’Rights rampaged throughout our country killing, not just many innocent men, women and children but ultimately, The American Dream itself.

In his early years The American Dream appeared to be healthy and full of the energy one would expect from someone with such integrity. It was not until much later that we started to see his vitality wane, and his constitution become ravaged by a strange disease. As we now know, it was later discovered that The American Dream was found to have the two congenital diseases, gun control and racism.

With these two diseases eating away at him, combined with the now perversely, malevolent and wayward behavior of Bill O’Rights, The American Dream was no more.

We cannot be sure whether he fell at Newtown, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Columbine, Isla Vista or Charleston, but all we are left with is to mourn his passing.

The American Dream is survived by stepbrothers: I know my rights, The Second Amendment, White Supremacy, and Blind Patriotism.

His funeral was sparsely attended as so few were aware of his passing.

Gonzo symbol

The “Selfie” – How it’s changed from my day, and is it a reflection of our society?

Now I’m of an age when the phrase “taking a selfie” required barricading yourself in your bedroom for ten minutes, with a certain type of magazine and a roll of toilet tissue. You can imagine my confusion when a few years ago I started to hear that people were “taking selfies” in public, with their friends and family. I don’t keep up with a lot of what happens in society, but this seemed to me to represent a very liberal shift in how society viewed “taking a selfie”. My misunderstanding of the paradigm shift that the term “taking a selfie” had taken became apparent to me when my wife and her parents and I visited a temple, we laugh about it now and explain it away as cultural differences, luckily my wife is from Thailand. Whilst I realize now that my faux pas was the result of a misunderstanding any of us could have made, there have been a couple of instances recently of people “taking a selfie” at times, in places, where it has been considered inappropriate to do so. After doing some wildly incoherent searching on the net I found what I felt to be the best of the best, or the worst of the worst, depending on how you wish to look at it. These will leave you asking “just where does our society go from here?” These people’s actions actually make me feel better about my indiscretion in the temple.

Now for most of us funerals are somber times when we respectfully mourn, and take the time to remember the deceased, who on this occasion happened to have been perhaps the most influential statesmen of the 20th century. Or, if you are three of the most influential leaders of the free world an ideal opportunity for a self indulgent selfie.
Now Obama, Cameron and the Danish Prime Minister were out of order, but I can’t justify this.
There can only be a few sick minded people who would deny that the mass shootings of 38 tourists in Tunisia was a disgusting tragedy. Not so disgusting that other tourist used the site of the blood bath to take selfies.
Although it’s not a selfie, taking holiday snaps at the scene where 116 people have recently lost their lives is pretty heartless.
Now the holocaust is always a sensitive subject, not one that you would be likely to bring up at a christening, or in a synagogue, but one you wouldn’t think twice about taking a selfie at the scene where at least a million Jews were murdered. The little blushing and smiling emoticon let’s us know that her heart is in the right place.
I don’t know why, but I just really think this one is funny. Just how close must the chaos and carnage be before someone in the group says “you know what, this might not be safe”?
ShamefulSelfies4
Now I’m not going to become all pious and say I can’t understand her motivation, I mean we’ve all done it, it’s just her sense of location that must really be brought into question.
If I’m honest it took me a hell of a long time to find the ashes to which she is referring. I’m not so sure this is inappropriate, if I was in the urn I can think of worse places to be.
Is this wrong, his plane crashed and he survived. Just how do you keep a clear enough head to think “you know what, I should take a selfie of this”?
Putting the shameful grammar aside, this really is one of my favourites. The panic expressed by the hand at the top of the picture is in such contrast to the “happy go lucky” Rastafarian guy below it.
Geraldo Rivera
American tv personality Geraldo Rivera, doing god knows what. Why is he wearing the sunglasses? I just thank god we didn’t get to see the next shot, the money shot.
Applaud the creative genius of the sellotape selfies. Just when we though the trend was about to die out, the doers in our society breathe new life into it.
5. Well that's weird.
It’s not a funeral, it’s not Auschwitz, but it’s really weird.

Underground Animal Cruelty in the U.K

cock fighting
Scenes like this are all too common in the cellars of the East End. After wining its fight this cock mercilessly taunts the vanquished, flaccid cock.

The East End of London has long been associated with violence. It was on these streets that the infamous Jack the Ripper stalked his prey and where the notorious Kray brothers kept peace on the street by dispensing their own unique brand of justice.

bear-baiting-ring
Bear baiting was a common entertainment at The Globe Theatre, and was an easy to stage alternative in the event of Shakespeare’s most recent play being shit.

The new wave of violence has its roots firmly established in the past. In Elizabethan England the blood sport of bear baiting was popular, and The Globe Theatre made famous by Shakespeare was a venue well known for staging this barbaric entertainment. Indeed many Shakespeare scholars believe Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction “exeunt pursued by a Bear” is an indirect reference by Shakespeare to the practice of bear baiting. In recent years respected historian and novelist Dan Brown also discovered that the play this is taken from, “A Winter’s Tale”, is in fact an anagram of “Animal Death Hell”.

Whilst the practicalities of trying to smuggle a bear unnoticed around the streets of London has put an end to bear baiting, equally vicious blood sports have succeeded it. The following news report allows us a glimpse into the shady, underworld of Weasel Fighting:

There can be little room for doubt that evil in weasel fighting, but the influx of Eastern European gangs to London has seen blood sports become ever more exotic.  Former Russian mafia hitman Bogdan Andreev confessed all he knew about the depraved world of blood sports.

yuri
Former Russian mafia enforcer and professional weasel wrestler Bogdan Andreev saw the light and reformed himself, he currently works in Thailand as a Kindergarten teacher.

I started out training against otters, but it seemed like I was a natural so I quickly moved on to stouts then ferrets. I remember my first fight, it was in the cellar of a pub in London’s East End. The punters formed a circle around me, then one of them threw a hessian sack writhing with weasles at me. As it was my first fight there was only 25 or so which I neutralized in just under 40 seconds. Naturally the crowd was amazed they had never seen an amateur handle himself like that before, I felt like that Russsell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” . I became a celebrity overnight in the East End underworld. Inevitably drink, drugs and women were to distract my focus from my training, and in elite weasel fighting that can turn the tables in the favour of the weasel. We have a saying in weasel fighting that somewhere out there there’s  a bag of weasels with your name on it.

Having trained lightly for his next bout Andreev could never have expected what the organizers were staging. Andreev’s dominance was making it difficult for the bookmakers to turn a profit, thus forcing them to sabotage the contest. Andreev explained:

I remember looking at the sack, somehow it was different it, was writhing in a completely more frenzied fashion, and when they released the weasels, well it was just carnage.

Little did Andreev know that prior to the fight the weasels had been forced to ingest phencyclidine, PCP or colloquially known as Angel Dust.

They just kept coming at me with an unnatural strength, a strength you’d more associate with say a swan or a llama, not that I’ve ever wrestled a llama but with a strength I would expect from a llama.

Andreev would never fully recover from this incident, sustaining the loss of two fingers, a testicle and his sense of humour. But Andreev goes on to give even more alarming testimony concerning a man known as Yuri from Kazakhstan.

It all started one morning after breakfast, we’d all hit the vodka pretty hard when Yuri suggested he wanted to fight a monkey. What really interested him was the idea of spanking a monkey. He believed it would reinvigorate the East Ends interest in blood sports. We all tried to explain to Yuri that “spanking the monkey” was a euphemism for having a wank, but Yuri was both a focused and determined man. We heard no more about it until I got word in an East End market that a Russian intended to spank the monkey in a pub cellar. Well I knew immediately that somehow Yuri had procured his monkey.

With the assistance of an artist and Andreev’s eye witness account, we believe that what happened that evening looked much like this:spank_the_monkey

Well it was at this stage, having had my situation and watch Yuri spank a monkey in a dark, damp pub cellar, that I knew things were getting out of hand. For a couple of weeks Yuri was the talk of the town, but like any addict he needed to push things further to get his kicks. Spanking his monkey in public no longer did it for him, one day he upped the ante and declared his intention to “bash the bishop”. Those of us who were there looked at one another nervously. Moving on to people had never been considered, let alone a man of God. From the demented, deranged and depraved look in Yuri’s eyes I could tell he was serious. Again things went quiet for a couple of weeks, then the tabloid newspaper ‘The Sun’ reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury himself had been abused.sun-bash-the-bishop

It was following this that Andreev fled London to start a new life in Thailand, as he reinvented himself as a kindergarten teacher. If it wasn’t for his braveness to speak out about the unfathomable cruelty of organized blood sports, neither bishops nor monkeys could enjoy the safety they do today.

The “Game of Life” – Greed, Nazis, Mathematicians, Homophobia, Ryan Leaf and Christmas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was young I loved to play board games, as the youngest child, they presented me with an almost level playing field upon which I could best my parents or older brother. Monopoly and Cluedo were the staple family favourites although my father lacked the patience required for Monopoly.

I remember once while on holiday in Devon, the whole family had been locked inside a caravan not much bigger than a coffin, as for two weeks rain had blown horizontally across the moors and drummed its random, frantic, staccato rhythms against the caravan’s plastic windows. I loved that holiday, no other holiday had ever presented the family with such an opportunity to spend time together playing games. But, upon reflection I feel a great amount of sympathy for my father. A working man doesn’t get much holiday, and to be given no choice but to spend it in such claustrophobic conditions at the hands of Britain’s most inclement weather conditions started to shred his nerves. Subsequently we never holidayed in Britain again.

Reaganomics
Of course back in those days presidents couldn’t rely on powerpoint and instead would have to stay up late coloring in graphs by hand.

For what must have been two or three days we played nothing but 20 questions with such rapidity, frequency, intensity and ferocity, that what was once nothing more than an innocent parlor game had become more like an interrogation at Auschwitz. Playing 20 questions came to an end once we had all become so telepathically sensitive to one another’s ways of thinking that people were often making correct guesses after only two or three questions had been asked. To prevent the further development of the hive mind under the pressure of cabin fever conditions, we moved on to Monopoly.

It’s hard to recall, but we were somewhere into our third or fourth day of an epic Monopoly marathon, when suddenly my father created an economic chaos, with what appeared to me to be the touch impulsive decision to sell Bond street, Regent Street and Oxford Street all for 1 pound each. Now admittedly as a nine year old boy I had never visited any of these locations and therefore suspected that my father’s worldly knowledge formed the foundation of his decision. Maybe he had insider knowledge that a freeway was to be built through this area of London or perhaps it was being considered for a landfill site. Whatever his reasons were, I quickly learned that Monopoly is not really a game that rewards philanthropy as my father was quickly eliminated, leaving him free to stretch his legs and pace the entire length (6 feet) of the caravan, and to have some quiet time alone watching the raindrops zigzag their way down the plastic windows. I can’t remember who it was that ultimately benefited by picking up such prime London real estate for 3 pounds, but I am pretty sure that they went on to win the game, but that’s not what mattered. I blame this incident for sowing the seeds of my doubt towards  capitalism and consumerism. After all This was in the midst of the opulent 80’s, a time that saw the zenith of the capitalist dream, Dallas and Dynasty were being viewed by millions, and Gordon Geko’s mantra “greed was good,”greed-521 succinctly encapsulated the meaning of a decade. As a child growing up in the in this society I had until that point regarded the accumulation of wealth as a fun and worthwhile, even noble cause. I was little more than a naive,brainwashed lovechild from the loins of Reaganomics, the belief that there would be such an abundance of wealth being generated by the rich the they would literally run out of places to put it, and therefore it would overflow and “trickle down” to the plebs like me. But through my father’s adoption of the Kerouacian approach to economics, which considers money as “ruining the sanctity of the moment”, had opened my eyes and I started to appreciate that maybe there was more to life than going around in circles, accumulating wealth in some contrived sense of competition where really there is no one to compete against. Instead you can opt out, go on the road, or in my fathers case up the other end of the caravan. Selling up, opting out and going to sit by himself, was my father’s symbolic act of resistance against the the capitalist dogma of the 80’s materialist economic machine. If he was going to be forced to into incarceration on a wet windswept moor, he would be damned if he was going to spend his time playing games that simulated his working life.

Due to my father’s lack of patience and his ability to create an economic crisis any Wall Street trader would have been proud of, one Christmas we bought the Game of Life. Now the Game of Life is a lot like Monopoly insofar as it judges the success of a person’s life purely through the accumulation of wealth, but it is targeted for an audience with a shorter attention span. Perhaps its most significant difference to Monopoly is that the Game of Life has a definite end point to it, you reach the end of the board and enter a retirement home. It must have been decided that this presented my brother and I the opportunity to learn fiscal responsibilities whilst giving my father the reassurance and hope that the banality would last no more than a couple of hours, after which he would be free to go and lie under a car and get oil all over himself.

It all sounded to good to be true, a simulated journey through life. A classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the character of capitalism. It represented a salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in western society. But as is really the case the Game of Life is the product of a demented imagination. The Game of Life is what every family would have been made to play on a Saturday night if the Nazi’s had won the war. It represents the sixth Reich and what they would have perceived as entertainment.

Let us take a look at the board. At first glance the board takes on the appearance of having been Stock Photo of Life Game (3)designed by some insecure colour blind, fascist, amidst the throes of a hideously, depraved acid trip. It is easily possible for even the most slow witted person to determine , that the “Game of Life” really bears little resemblance to life but is more of a spiritual representation of post-apocalyptic world in which the inhabitants had long ago lost their wills to live. But, enough of these nebulous generalities and find some cold hard facts, look the beast squarely in the eye and gain an understanding as to how this absurd game was conceived.

The game was devised by John Horton Conway, who to the best of my knowledge is neither a Satanist nor a Nazi, and has never indulged in LSD. But, what John has done though is to build himself quite an impressive ivory tower, having gained his undergraduate and PhD from Cambridge, he is presently Professor in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University.

250px-John_H_Conway_2005_(cropped)
John Horton Conway, mathematical genius; probably. Creator of twisted disturbing games; most definitely.
Gospers_glider_gun
This is an example of a cellular automaton as used in Conway’s Game of Life. What it is exactly is hard to tell, but then again so is the “game of Life”. particularly ironic is that I find watching this more entertaining than playing the game. If this is your thing you might like this http://www.emergentuniverse.org/#/life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In technical Game Theory jargon (maybe the only area of advanced mathematics of any interest(see John Nash, “A Beautiful Mind”) the game is an example of “cellular automaton”, which apparently is represented by the curios little animation above. It all sounds rather impressive but leaves me wondering, why all my memories of playing the game are so crap? To answer this question I needed to revisit my childhood and with little effort I was soon playing online.

http://www.gamehouse.com/download-games/the-game-of-life#prettyPhoto

GOLcar
As the protagonist of several significant traffic accidents, it would be hypocritical of me to start lecturing about the importance of road safety, but even to me this appears a little reckless.

The first piece of imagery that caused me some level of cognitive dissonance, more so than  reducing myself to a pale blue plastic peg , indeed the peg  probably has greater social skills, was that then I had to choose the colour of my car upon which I would sit. Throughout the experience this was a feature I never got beyond, I just couldn’t understand its meaning or purpose. In all probability the game of life would be a short one if we were to observe such a reckless approach to vehicular safety.

143267-gameoflife_original
Dog turd or volcano, it’s a way of representing the passage of time that Hawking has failed to mention. Anyhow the philosophy of ‘free will’ is replaced by a fate dispensing spinner.

The method by which you progress through life, the instrument used for simulating the passing of tim, is a psychedelic spinner placed either in a volcano, or an exceptionally large dog turd. Either way adds to the games anarchic, semiotic nature, that the player has at least subconsciously been aware of from the moment of taking the lid off the box.

ryanleaf
The 1998 NFL draft, Indianapolis have the first pick and are in need of a quarterback. It just so happens that the top 2 players in the draft that year are quarterbacks, Ryan Leaf and some guy called Peyton Manning. As they say the rest is history……..

I proceeded the game against one computer character “Bernard”. Within no time Bernard had become a sports personality earning $60,000, at what frequency is not specified. It would be hard to imagine any sports personality earning as little as $60,000 per year, perhaps with the exception maybe of erstwhile San Diego quarterback Ryan Leaf who probably spent nearly as much time in prison as he did in the NFL and achieved a higher quarterback rating there as well.

With in no time and requiring no discernible effort to be put into studying, I became a lawyer earning $100,000 per???? Although saddled with student debt I felt confident I would beat the jock.  Bernard proceeded down raod the when all of a sudden, without even leaving the car, he got married, no dating, no engagement, he just got married, to the best of my knowledge Bernard had never even met the girl. This rash approach to the sanctity of marriage seemed a touch flippant. I was uncomfortable that at the same point along the path everyone gets married, was there a divorce cul-de-sac further down the road? I was starting to feel my anxiety taking a hold of me, as such important lifestyle decisions were being arbitrarily decided by a spinner and the boards commands. In essence I had sacrificed my right to free will, my life was out of my hands. And perhaps most offensively to the homosexual community it was automatically assumed that Bernard was heterosexual.

Within no time Bernard, the sports personality, had amassed a  in excess $250,000 without having set foot outside of his car. I could only assume he was some kind of professional sports car  driver, even though having your wife sat on top of the car with you at the time was certainly something I had never heard of in the history of motorsports. Compounding this conundrum was the fact that on his next turn Bernard’s wife had twins, whom they quickly sat on top of the car and carried on their way. How these children were conceived is puzzling given the very asexual nature of the pegs, leading me to assume Bernard had abducted them. Meanwhile I had to show for myself was a wife and a log cabin.

For some reason I decided to take the opportunity to go back to college and retrained as an accountant, I was now earning 40% less than I was before as a Lawyer, surely casting into doubt any genuine accountancy skills. The next lifestyle choice came with the options “Take the Family Path” or “Continue with the Game of Life”. I thought this was pretty harsh, inferring in someway that the Game of Life ends once having a family. I decided to take the family route but sadly had no children, for no reason. It appears that infertility hides insidiously within the construct of cellular automaton games.

Bernard and his army of children, to rub salt into the wound had also adopted a pet, and were driving off into the sunset. My wife and I however, appeared bitter and twisted by our inability to have children, we drove on in silence, communication dropped to the level of dumb beasts, seething in resentment for one another.

The next fork in the road offered the stark choices to take “The Risky Path of Life” or “The Safe Path of Life”. When playing a game like this what kind of anally retentive person picks the safe path? I had no idea what the risks were involved but I hoped they would fill the void of my childless marriage. I had visions of having to cram heroin up my ass and cross international borders, or robbing banks. What actually transpired was I could gamble but it even limited the amount. So I gambled as much and as hard as I could, seeing the gap of relative wealth get ever wider with Bernard, who I must say with 4 children and a pet didn’t seem to be living the kind of lifestyle I would usually associate with a sports star.

My wife and I rolled into the retirement home while Bernard was still out on the highways and byways of life, making more money, having more fun. By the time  he arrived at the retirement home, (to which he had brought all his children, something I thught to be a little odd) my wife had electrocuted herself while drying her hair in the shower. Although soundly beaten by Bernard, I did finish the game with just short of a million dollars, which would appear to me an over inflated amount to be considered as a failure.

It truely is a rubbish game for the reason that no matter how reckless you are, you cannot be Ryan Leaf. No matter how much you try, you can’t break the law, develop a drug habit, run a ponzi scheme, or even sleep with your opponent’s wife. There are no crippling illnesses or injuries, even though you spend your whole life riding on top of a car. In that respect the Game of Life is similar to education, in that no matter how recklessly one pursues it, no one ever really fails, some people just succeed more.  And that flies in the face of everything Darwin stood for, survival of the fittest has now become a celebration of the mediocre.deathspiral42 This all fits into my views on the dumbing down of our societies, which I’ll leave for another day.

From my own personal perspective I found it liberating as the board didn’t contain
the “death spiral” upon which I spend much of my time. A realistic version of the Game of Life would have this, along with the “divorce cul-de-sac” and god forbid, the ultimate bummer, “The Ryan Leaf” card.

 

Gonzo symbol
too strange to live, too rare to die.

 

All Aboard the Education Gravy Train – A Savage Journey to the Heart of Economic Servitude

GRAVYFOCUS_g_295387k

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge,

but he that hateth reproof is brutish

Proverbs 12:1

It was always going to be a strange day. Taking the high school students to the University expo, fair. Or would it turn out to be a circus, complete with clowns, unicycles, and bearded ladies, a macabre show masquerading under the pretense of education but whose aim was nothing more than to entertain the youth and convince them that paying tens of thousands of dollars to a university over the next four years would be in their best interest. There was plenty of room to doubt that the students were excited about this trip. In conversations prior to our departure, it seemed impossible, but they were more cynical than I was. Their lack of concern as to what they might be studying in two years time was no less than disturbing, reckless even.

To set the context, a couple of months back I asked my students “how do you learn something?” A student was quick to reply “pay a teacher.” A response I was far from expecting and when I asked the rest of the class what they thought, I soon appreciated that it was  universally accepted that the payment of money, to them constitutes the first stage of the learning process. Thus calling into question the academic theories of Vygotsky, Piaget, and Bruner, whilst laughing in the face of Socrates’ and his gallant refusal to accept payment for teaching. In fact according to these students every theory of learning had been blown apart by their collective cynicism and is in need of immediate revision. The fact that these students were able to surpass my own vast reserves of cynicism left me feeling unnerved, unsure as to who I was and the role that I was expected to play in this whole teacher, student dynamic. Their view of things was different from that of my generation. After all it had taken my generation years of disappointment to achieve our degree of cynicism, but here were these young upstarts showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty and morality, bitterly sneering, contemptuous.

What was happening? What was next? We were going to a university fair, of that much I was sure, but these cynical vibrations had set me on edge, taken me by surprise. Would I be able to endure the 3 hour van journey, confined in such an enclosed space, participating in conversations that were more akin to free association, or that would perhaps deteriorate completely and leave us at the level of dumb beasts? It was too late to worry about these questions, all of us were committed no matter how strange the vibrations got.

The Costs Versus the Value of a University Education

What are the costs of going to university and how well are they off set by the benefits? 30 years ago a university degree assured the graduate of employment and receiving a decent salary, as well as a prime position for professional development and promotion. A graduate could expect to earn the sort of salary that would finance a steady coke habit, develop a  gambling addiction, or any of the other good old fashioned American pastimes. Today the world of the graduate is less bountiful, offering far less opportunity to develop self destructive habits. With nearly every country in Europe and North America languishing in a time of austerity, and little to no economic growth, opportunities are few and far between. Therefore it requires serious thought, wealthy parents or a fearless student who is unafraid to yoke themselves with up to $100,000 worth of debt, for which there is no guarantee, that at the end of it they will secure a ways or means of paying it off. In some respects you might just be better off borrowing $100,000, and go to Vegas, it would after all be quicker than the 4 years of study and probably has a similar chance of seeing a beneficial financial return.

US student debt is scary. It’s an uncontrollable, rabid bull, intoxicated by the scent of youthful optimism, that has been set loose in an academic china shop. Student debt is in excess of $1.2 trillion, a debt greater than that owed by all student-e1393014217134Americans on their credit cards. Student debt is also greater than the total outstanding on mortgages.  In 2005 the average student debt was $17,233, by 2012 that amount had risen 58% to $27,253.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2014/02/21/1-trillion-student-loan-problem-keeps-getting-worse/

Student debt has a knock on effect as it delays a student from making financial commitments such as taking on a mortgage or a car loan, making regular payments to the local meth dealer, starting a new businesses or saving for the future. This immense financial strain on the educated sector of society has a potentially disastrous national economic effect.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26893131

Life for a new graduate can be extremely disappointing. The number of new graduates each year vastly out numbers graduate level jobs.

  • Forty one percent of workers who graduated from college in the past two years say they are underemployed and working in jobs that do not require their college degrees;
  • 41% 0f recent graduates are earning &25,000 or less;
  • 80% of college graduates expect their first employer to provide a training program;
  • 52% of graduates did not receive training through formal programs at their first job;

    USA face
    To pay off his student debt this young boy had the scar strangled banger tattooed onto his face and is paraded around during the interval of the seal show at Sea World.
  • 38% of new graduates have to live with mum or dad upon graduating.
  • Only 16 percent of students who will graduate in 2013 had already secured employment as of April 1, 2013.

http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/insight-2013-accenture-college-graduate-employment-survey.aspx

Figures like this make you question the morality of taking a bus load of students to a University Fair without giving them a prior warning of the scope and magnitude of making this decision.

EDU USAWhen I had been at the fair for about a couple of hours, I decided it was time to start antagonizing the miserable souls who had been wedged into their booths like irritable, obese battery hens, forced to sell their university. I had come all this way and it seemed like the least I could do was try and learn something while harassing some poor sod who was just trying to make their way peacefully through the day. Unaware as I am to the intricacies and workings of the U.S education system, I decided to meet with a representative of ACE, a service funded through the U.S State Dept. They provide advice and support to overseas students wishing to go to university in the U.S. A pleasant man brandished his business card at me, sporting the rather comedic name Mike Hock. I could tell by the look in his eye that he believed he was doing the right thing, he believed in his position in life. Usually I find such optimism to be nauseous and repulsive. Instantly I could tell that Mike was probably the type of guy that was into extreme sports, doing press ups before taking a shower each morning, and on a gluten free diet. But, I knew I had to grit my teeth and establish communications with Mike to allow my curiosity to be satisfied. In what developed to become an eminently forgettable conversation I was left puzzled by one thing he said. U.S students sit the S.A.T, on which the average student gets a score of  about 1,500 out of a possible 2,400. Mike told me students with an S.A.T score of 1,000 could find a place at a university in America. This set off the cymbals of cognitive dissonance in my head. Surely university is a place for those who have shown competency in academics. Why would someone so far below average want to even pursue getting a university degree? I wonder what would happen to professional sports teams if they adopted a similar selection criteria. If I had the cash could I be playing short stop for the Yankees? But it’s not just American universities that have turned their back on education in the interest of corporate greed. The U.K also seems to think that education must equal debt.

So it appears that American and U.K  universities are not so much academic institutions focused on developing the knowledge of their students, but more of a proxy for financial institutions that ensnare graduates into financial servitude.

think_outside_the_box_by_gingergenius-d5aslao

It’s ironic, a saying intended to inspire original thought has now become an oxymoron and parodies itself due to its unoriginal and over usage. Surely it’s time for someone to think outside the cone, maybe someone could think outside the context, think outside the book or the page if this metaphor is to retain its purpose of conveying the need for originality. As it is, it has become nothing more than a tired, sad, old, overworked metaphor carelessly bandied around in staff rooms by teachers who have all but given up the will to think and perhaps even the will to live.

Thinking outside the box is what teachers endlessly encourage their students to do. To think critically about what they are told and what they read, and yet at the university fair every student unquestioningly accepted that university has to be their next step. They unquestioningly accept that amassing enormous debt is nothing more than a rite of passage. These students weren’t even thinking of going to university as a decision for it had already been decided on a subconscious level, with no thought, understanding, or questioning of whether it will benefit them. There was more chance of me finding a missing Malaysian airliner than of finding a critical thought in this venue.

Are life’s most valuable skills learned inside a classroom?

As the sun set behind the hilly landscape and the bus darkened, so did my mood. Here I was shepherding this young flock of unsuspecting lambs into the jaws of  financial servitude, this was weighing heavily on my conscience, adding to my self loathing. I was keenly aware of the need to finish this account positively, after all these are my students and this is their future I’m talking about. So before my mood toppled over the edge and into the abyss of despair, I removed my head from out of my ass and took a look around the bus. Despite the fact that the students were hungry and tired they sat quietly talking to one another, laughing,smiling. You could tell these students lived in a dormitory together, their interactions were more akin to that of family members than just school friends. The few students that didn’t board at the school were included into this dynamic without hesitation or a second thought. Despite their tiredness the students maintained the highest respect for both their friends and their teachers. I started to realize the value of these students and what they can potentially offer to society in ten years time. I can honestly say that these grade ten and eleven students were exhibiting social skills that were far more developed than the majority of adults I come into contact with. These characteristics were not learned inside a classroom, nor have they ever been assessed and given a score out of 10. They have been  honing these skills almost from birth, practicing and refining them with the zeal and discipline of the most dedicated student.

educationrevolution_2185_25096810The purpose and values of schools have long been questioned (see JT Gato Weapons of Mass Instruction). What are the skills that students need to learn today for tomorrow’s society? The mass production, industrial assembly line, that teachers like to think doesn’t exist today does, only on an even grander more complex scale than ever before. I cannot believe that it is in the best interest of a student to commence their professions under the burden of such debt.

As is often the case, my students teach me the most profound lessons. They have shown me what a people can do for one another. That kindness and consideration when shown equally throughout a group is enormously powerful. If someone had the money to invest in these students they would work so well and so hard together they would be able to rival any organization. And none of these skills were taught by me, not in a classroom.

I only hope the students remain patient and will be good enough to continue to teach me, although what they’re going to get out of it god only knows.

5 Weird but True Halloween Stories

happy-halloween2-source_h9t

For many people Halloween is an opportunity to wear fancy dress, trick or treat and have some autumnal fun. While for others it is presents an opportunity to shoot someone wearing a costume, a sort of wet dream for the perverse, fetishists gun club. The first two stories provide us with further endorsements of the second amendment, granting every American the right to defend themselves against kids in weird clothes and foreigners just too weird to live, because In America it’s Halloween every night

1.

skunk
When you see something like this it’s always wisest to shoot first and ask questions later.

New Sewickley Township police say the girl was over a hillside and wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel. Chief Ronald Leindecker told the Beaver County Times that a male relative mistook her for a skunk and fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder, arm, back and neck Saturday night.

Leindecker told the newspaper that the girl was alert and talking when she was flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, about 30 miles away. Her condition was unavailable.

Leindecker says the man hadn’t been drinking and he doesn’t know whether charges will be filed. New Sewickley police said Sunday that decision will be made in a few days.

Getting shot is as American as apple pie. In the next story a Japanese exchange student was shot dead on the basis he had a scary walk. Once again we see the value of the second amendment as it allows U.S citizens to protect themselves from foreigners and scary walks,  both completely unacceptable in the Land of the Free.

2.

Defense Depicts Japanese Boy as ‘Scary’

New York Times
Published: May 21, 1993

The fatal shooting of Yoshihiro Hattori, 16, has until now been largely seen as a result of a tragic mismatch of cultural styles: a young Japanese exchange student unused to weapons, trustingly approaching a suburban American householder for whom guns are second nature.

But that scenario, one that has become a Japanese nightmare of America, was turned on its head by a defense lawyer today in a packed Louisiana courtroom. On the night of Oct. 17, he said, Yoshihiro Hattori was acting in a menacing, “aggressive” fashion, like a stranger invading someone’s home turf. And the home was defended by a .44-magnum with a laser scope.

This was the account of events offered by the lawyer for Rodney Peairs in opening statements in the trial of the 31-year-old assistant meat market manager on a charge of manslaughter. Father Appeared Angry

Mr. Hattori’s father sat calmly through the opening remarks by the lawyer, Lewis Unglesby, and the initial testimony that followed. But the father, Masaichi Hattori, an engineer, appeared angered by the lawyer’s portrayal.

“It sounded as though Yoshi was an unusual person, which is not true,” Mr. Hattori said through an interpreter during a break in the trial. “The defense attorney emphasized only points advantageous to him.”

The shooting of Mr. Hattori, who was looking for a Halloween party in the Baton Rouge suburbs when he mistakenly knocked on Mr. Peairs’s door the night of Oct. 17, shocked the people of Japan, and the courtroom has been packed with Japanese reporters.

Today they listened as a new element added to the story, that the young man’s behavior, in the view of Mr. Unglesby, could reasonably be seen as menacing.

“This is not an American or Oriental or any other known being casually walking up to the front door and saying, ‘Hello, we’re looking for the party,’ ” Mr. Unglesby said in his opening statement. “That’s not what happened.”

It was Yoshi Hattori’s walk that made him, that dark night, frightening in the lawyer’s telling. “Yoshi had an extremely unusual way of moving,” Mr. Unglesby told the jury. “It’s been described as aggressive. It’s been described as kinetic. It’s been described as antsy.

“It’s been described as scary,” Mr. Unglesby concluded. “He would come right up to you, as fast as he could.”

Mr. Peairs, by contrast, was nothing but a regular guy, “one of your neighbors,” Mr. Unglesby began by telling the jurors. He said he was a good mechanic, a steady employee of the Winn-Dixie supermarket, a man who liked sugar in his grits. ‘Cried and Cried’

“No killer,” he “cried and cried” when he discovered he had shot Yoshi Hattori, Mr. Unglesby said.

If the lawyer convinces the jury that Yoshi Hattori’s walk was indeed “scary,” his killing might be justifiable homicide under Louisiana’s 1976 “shoot-the-burglar” law. That law lets a person kill an intruder if he “reasonably believes” the intruder is trying to rob the house and might use violence against the occupants.

There is no dispute that Mr. Hattori was shot at close range, 5 eet away. But in the picture drawn by the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney, Doug Moreau, it was an innocent movement, born of Yoshi Hattori’s apparent conviction that he had found the right house for the Halloween party. There were Halloween decorations on the outside of the house, a paper skeleton, a plastic ghost.

The prosecutor’s flat, unemotional version of the state’s case amounted to a schematic outline of the events of that night. There was no menace at all in the actions of either Yoshi Hattori or his companion that night, 16-year-old Webb Haymaker, the son of the Japanese student’s host family, he said. ‘Here for the Party’

Yoshi Hattori was dressed as the character played by John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever,” in a white tuxedo costume and much jewelry. Mr. Haymaker was not in costume.

The two boys approached the front door, and rang the doorbell. Mr. Peairs’ wife, Bonnie, answered, with one of the couple’s three children. “We’re here for the party,” the prosecutor quoted Mr. Haymaker as saying. Mrs. Peairs slammed the door.

She “screamed” for her husband to get his gun, Mr. Unglesby said. The boys had meanwhile walked to the sidewalk, 10 yards away. They heard the door at the end of the adjacent carport open. Mr. Peairs, in the prosecutor’s telling, was not inside his house, but just outside the doorway of the carport. Yoshi Hattori began walking toward him, the district attorney said.

Mr. Haymaker heard Rodney Peairs shout “freeze.” He saw that Mr. Peairs was holding a large gun. But the victim apparently did not see the gun, and he did not understand the word “freeze.” ‘Something Bad Wrong’

He was acting in a way no American would ever act, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Mr. Peairs knew “there’s something bad wrong,” Mr. Unglesby told the jury today. ” ‘This person is not afraid of my gun. He’s not respectful of my property. He has no fear whatever.’ That’s what Rodney Peairs knew.”

Mr. Peairs shot Yoshi Hattori dead through the chest.

“It’s his conduct that you need to consider when looking at the evidence,” Mr. Moreau said. “There is no personal axe to grind.” That conduct, the prosecutor said, was “criminally negligent,” a key element of the manslaughter charge.

Photo: Masaichi Hattori leaving court yesterday in Baton Rouge, La., where he attended the trial of the man who killed his son. (The New York Times)

“It sounded as though Yoshi was an unusual person, which is not true,” Mr. Hattori said through an interpreter during a break in the trial. “The defense attorney emphasized only points advantageous to him.”

The shooting of Mr. Hattori, who was looking for a Halloween party in the Baton Rouge suburbs when he mistakenly knocked on Mr. Peairs’s door the night of Oct. 17, shocked the people of Japan, and the courtroom has been packed with Japanese reporters.

Today they listened as a new element added to the story, that the young man’s behavior, in the view of Mr. Unglesby, could reasonably be seen as menacing.

“This is not an American or Oriental or any other known being casually walking up to the front door and saying, ‘Hello, we’re looking for the party,’ ” Mr. Unglesby said in his opening statement. “That’s not what happened.”

It was Yoshi Hattori’s walk that made him, that dark night, frightening in the lawyer’s telling. “Yoshi had an extremely unusual way of moving,” Mr. Unglesby told the jury. “It’s been described as aggressive. It’s been described as kinetic. It’s been described as antsy.

“It’s been described as scary,” Mr. Unglesby concluded. “He would come right up to you, as fast as he could.”

Mr. Peairs, by contrast, was nothing but a regular guy, “one of your neighbors,” Mr. Unglesby began by telling the jurors. He said he was a good mechanic, a steady employee of the Winn-Dixie supermarket, a man who liked sugar in his grits. ‘Cried and Cried’

“No killer,” he “cried and cried” when he discovered he had shot Yoshi Hattori, Mr. Unglesby said.

If the lawyer convinces the jury that Yoshi Hattori’s walk was indeed “scary,” his killing might be justifiable homicide under Louisiana’s 1976 “shoot-the-burglar” law. That law lets a person kill an intruder if he “reasonably believes” the intruder is trying to rob the house and might use violence against the occupants.

There is no dispute that Mr. Hattori was shot at close range, 5 eet away. But in the picture drawn by the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney, Doug Moreau, it was an innocent movement, born of Yoshi Hattori’s apparent conviction that he had found the right house for the Halloween party. There were Halloween decorations on the outside of the house, a paper skeleton, a plastic ghost.

The prosecutor’s flat, unemotional version of the state’s case amounted to a schematic outline of the events of that night. There was no menace at all in the actions of either Yoshi Hattori or his companion that night, 16-year-old Webb Haymaker, the son of the Japanese student’s host family, he said. ‘Here for the Party’

Yoshi Hattori was dressed as the character played by John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever,” in a white tuxedo costume and much jewelry. Mr. Haymaker was not in costume.

The two boys approached the front door, and rang the doorbell. Mr. Peairs’ wife, Bonnie, answered, with one of the couple’s three children. “We’re here for the party,” the prosecutor quoted Mr. Haymaker as saying. Mrs. Peairs slammed the door.

She “screamed” for her husband to get his gun, Mr. Unglesby said. The boys had meanwhile walked to the sidewalk, 10 yards away. They heard the door at the end of the adjacent carport open. Mr. Peairs, in the prosecutor’s telling, was not inside his house, but just outside the doorway of the carport. Yoshi Hattori began walking toward him, the district attorney said.

Mr. Haymaker heard Rodney Peairs shout “freeze.” He saw that Mr. Peairs was holding a large gun. But the victim apparently did not see the gun, and he did not understand the word “freeze.” ‘Something Bad Wrong’

He was acting in a way no American would ever act, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Mr. Peairs knew “there’s something bad wrong,” Mr. Unglesby told the jury today. ” ‘This person is not afraid of my gun. He’s not respectful of my property. He has no fear whatever.’ That’s what Rodney Peairs knew.”

Mr. Peairs shot Yoshi Hattori dead through the chest.

“It’s his conduct that you need to consider when looking at the evidence,” Mr. Moreau said. “There is no personal axe to grind.” That conduct, the prosecutor said, was “criminally negligent,” a key element of the manslaughter charge.

Photo: Masaichi Hattori leaving court yesterday in Baton Rouge, La., where he attended the trial of the man who killed his son. (The New York Times)

yoshihiro hattori
 From the first two stories it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that Halloween provides the America with nothing more than a set of novel circumstances under which to shoot one another. That would be tarring everyone with the same brush whilst ignoring all the parties where someone doesn’t get shot . One such party took place in Frederica, Delaware.

 3.

updated 10/27/2005 3:39:04 PM ET

The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately busy road late Tuesday or early Wednesday, state police said.

the_hanging_tree_by_alwayspercabeth-d4k9l8w
Still at least they were not shot.

The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen from passing vehicles.

State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the body at breakfast time Wednesday but dismissed it as a holiday prank. Authorities were called to the scene more than three hours later.

“They thought it was a Halloween decoration,” Fay Glanden, wife of Mayor William Glanden, told The (Wilmington) News Journal.

“It looked like something somebody would have rigged up,” she said.

 Hanging one self appears to be as traditional as shooting someone on Halloween. Many deaths by misadventure occur when people try to act out a hanging as some kind of Halloween entertainment. Several people find out the hard way why hanging is an effective and popular method of suicide and execution.

4.

NATION : Teen Dies in Halloween Accident

Los Angeles Times October 29, 199o

YORK, S.C. — 15-year-old staging a gallows scene at a Halloween party accidentally hanged himself when the noose somehow tightened, authorities said today.

William Anthony Odom of Charlotte, N.C., was pronounced dead Friday night amid fake spider webs and plastic bats decorating an aunt’s home. Odom and several of his friends had staged a haunted house in the basement.

A week ago, a 17-year-old died while staging a similar Halloween hangman gag along the route of a hayride in Lakewood, N.J.

As it is Halloween it only seems reasonable to leave the scariest story and the biggest monster till last. The previous 4 stories have a humourous edge when compared to the Halloween classic.

5.

East Coast Rapist pleads guilty to Halloween attacks in Prince William

Rapist_2
Law enforcement show they have a sense of humour by dressing the ‘Halloween rapist’ up as a pumpkin.

The Washington Post

November 30, 2012
In the series of attacks attributed to the East Coast Rapist , the Halloween 2009 assault in Prince William County was perhaps the most brazen. He stepped out of a borrowed gold Chrysler into the cold night rain, gripped a fake 9mm handgun, pulled his jacket’s hood tight over his face and forced three teenage trick-or-treaters down a steep ravine.The attack — the last in a string of 13 since 1997 that are linked by DNA evidence — also was the closest police had come to the serial rapist. Their sirens and footsteps interrupted his rapes after one victim summoned help via hidden texts and phone calls. He disappeared into the darkness, leaving the weapon, his DNA and the victims behind.On Friday, more than three years after the attack, that man — Aaron Thomas — appeared in Prince William County Circuit Court to take responsibility for the crimes. He entered guilty pleas to two counts of rape and three counts of abduction. Unlike his previous appearances in court, including a failed plea hearing two weeks ago, Thomas was alert, responding quickly and forcefully to Judge Mary Grace O’Brien’s questions.

“I would like to take responsibility for my problem and the pain I’ve caused,” Thomas said. “I am guilty.”

O’Brien accepted Thomas’s pleas, meaning Thomas, 41, has been convicted of three rapes, including the guilty plea he entered Thursday in Loudoun County for a 2001 attack in Leesburg. The rapes are fewer than a quarter of those both Thomas and police say he committed, but they are enough, potentially, to land him behind bars for a maximum of seven life terms.

Five true, disturbing stories from recent Halloweens past. Remain vigilant, don’t try and hang yourself and if you feel uneasy at any stage start firing your gun. Please sleep easily, don’t have nightmares.

halloween anim