War on pap

This may sound harsh, but I’m sick of the media reports and popular chat about the Manchester bombing, and twice as irritated by the displays of flowers and heart-shaped balloons.

All those upbeat stories and vapid promises that the community will come together and won’t let this beat them? It won’t, and there was no community in the first place. That’s why people WHO LIVE THERE did it.

If you want community spirit, look at any city in Syria, where an incident like this is business as usual – on a quiet day. Look at all the other sectarian bomb attacks on rival Muslim communities or Christians throughout the Middle East in the last week.

Oh but of course, you can’t. Because the UK media has been so obsessed with Manchester it hasn’t found time to report them. And could it also be that the most recent unreported attacks would reflect badly on UK or US links to those perpetrating them?

But it wasn’t until I noticed that a TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale starts tonight that I really thought this through and recognised something else. The terrorists have failed, not because Brits are strong enough to get over such attacks, but because they don’t even value the victims.

The thing is, this was an attack on contemporary Western culture, i.e. pop culture. Now pop culture (much to the annoyance of indie and “serious” rock fans) may well revolve around 13 year old girls, but it doesn’t actually like them. It just values them as consumers – or more precisely their ability to demand product from their parents.

That whole “princess” thing about daughters is a myth. As I keep discovering when talking to other parents, boys are valued, but for most lower middle class families girls are at best domestic workhorses to help around the house while they grow up, then married off ASAP.

And what is this strange 21st century obsession in such families for girls to learn to dance or sing? Witness the endless stream of girls from loser families who can sing a bit on talent shows. Even through the TV screen you can almost smell the desperation. If the audition doesn’t go well it’s back to the lottery and scratch cards.

Can you – seriously – imagine such families pouring all their resources into a girl who wanted to be, say, a scientist? Come to think of it, can you even imagine a bookshelf in the house?

And that attitude doesn’t just run through sink estates. It has long ceased to surprise me how, even in the wealthiest families, the choice of a daughter’s university is determined by the opportunities to socialise and marry into the right family, and not the chance of gaining top class tuition and rising quicker in a chosen profession.

Which is why I think the terrorists got it all wrong. They were trying a form of psychological warfare which in Muslim culture goes back all the way to Hassan i-Sabbah and the Assassins….. but they miscalculated.

Hassan i-Sabbah’s strategy enabled a small force to prevail over a much stronger one by striking unexpectedly and in a devastating way which so shocked the enemy that it lost heart. The point was to prove that you were not only invincible, but prepared to do nightmarish things to win. It was a way of keeping your own casualties to the minimum, and not even necessarily inflicting any on the enemy while absolutely terrifying them in the process.

For example, one fabled Assassin tactic (which often followed months quietly working your way into the enemy camp) was to leave a dagger dipped in poison on the pillow of the enemy commander or prince. The next day you sent him a note telling him to surrender.

For more contemporary examples, consider the films before the second Gulf War of Iraqi guards in bizarre training rituals that involved things like eating dogs. To Western observers this was plain weird, but for Muslims who regard dogs as haram to see fellow Muslims crazed enough to do this it would have been alarming.

There is also the Boko Haram capture of Nigerian schoolgirls for conversion and sale as sex slaves. It worked by striking right at the heart of everything the “enemy” held dear. These were girls with dreams of growing up and becoming teachers or doctors. Girls loved and supported in those dreams not just by their families but whole communities.

But it won’t work here because (sigh) while Brits pretend to indulge and put little girls on pedestals they do not actually like them very much. Especially when they stop being cute and try to act like adults.

No, if ISIS were really serious, and better informed, they’d have bombed Crufts. Or maybe they should find a way to hack all those fluffy kitten clips on You-Tube.

Or maybe not. Mistreat a dog in the UK and there’ll be a petition to bring back the death penalty. Child abuse? Mainstream Britain doesn’t even acknowledge it, unless it can be pinned on someone who is neither white nor Christian.

Texting, booked…and no case?

I am amused at a recent rash of adverts in the local press and online warning that those who use cell-phones while driving face prosecution and fines running into thousands of pounds. The press advert runs to half a page in local giveaway mags, and an online one has a strapline saying something like “Smartphone, Idiot Driver”.

‘Well, good’, you might think, ‘at last the police are taking the problem seriously’.

One little problem though. The courts are not prosecuting, even when there is abundant evidence.

There is a perfect example in this week’s local papers. A story about someone found guilty of motoring offences concludes by saying that a further charge of using a phone while driving was not heard, due to no evidence being presented.

This was odd, because I happen to know that the driver in question has been reported on at least three separate occasions by individuals who would happily witness in court if it kept death off the roads for a while – or preferably for ever.

On at least one occasion this airhead went through a red light while texting and on round a bend, almost ploughing into a group of school kids on a crossing close to a school. Things like this happen so frequently at that particular set of lights that, again to my certain knowledge, parents are warning children not to cross there.

So are the police not bothered? From what I hear, they are very bothered, and have referred this and other worrying cases up for prosecution.

The problem may be that the old police prosecution system (under which junior officers presented their findings to a senior officer and any prosecutions were brought by a prosecuting sergeant) is no longer in use. It seems local judges grumbled at the number of poorly presented cases and insisted that a crown prosecution service be introduced, with cases being argued by a local advocate who had first whittled out any likely losers.

In other words, the police do not decide who is potentially guilty and ought to be tried in court. Government-employed advocates do that, and then negotiate with the courthouse administration system for a court date.

Except that other sources tell me it then gets even worse. Because Manx courts are so busy that, in a vain attempt to clear the books, all likely court cases are seemingly subjected to some sort of points system based on a time and motion study. The end result is that the court administrators don’t think driving-while-on-the-phone cases are an economically viable use of court time.

But OK, the very technology which causes some drivers to be dangerously distracted is itself at the heart of the issue too.

Once, if accused of something, you had your day in court and there were strict rules to ensure you were tried only on the evidence heard in that court on that day. In lengthy cases, the press reported as the case proceeded, but could not assume innocence or guilt until the jury decided that.

If found guilty, effectively part of your punishment was that you were named and shamed in a press report based closely on the judge’s summing up, verdict and sentencing. Similarly, if found innocent the subsequent press reports enabled everyone to learn from any mistakes. This was a pretty fair system.

Now, we are reluctant to report crime, and even more reluctant to take time out of work and report what we saw in court. If mere spectators, we are equally reluctant to wait for the full facts to be heard and justice to be done in a fair way, after submission of all the available facts and arguments rather than what a neighbour is rumoured to have overheard from pub gossip.

How much easier to tweet a folk rumour based on kneejerk prejudice. Accuse, try and sentence someone electronically without the slightest piece of hard evidence.

No, the rule of law is protracted, exacting and hard work, but there is no civilised alternative. It is all that we have, so when threatened by either economic cutbacks or idle Facebook chatter we will need to defend it.

Mirror, mirror…..

As any number of friends are saying to me, in between Brexit and the Manx election it has been a tough few weeks for anyone who can read – or even walk without dragging their knuckles. And it is getting worse.

A few weeks ago I also quoted Francis Bacon’s quip that the only way to survive life is to regard very, very nearly everything as totally unimportant. Well, I was willing to give it a go.

Unfortunately, I seem to be surrounded by people who go to the other extreme. They regard very nearly everything as TOTALLY important. Additionally, when their job, position in the community or just self-created Facebook persona is only justifiable if it looks that way and their entire life is conducted via electronic devices they expect you to respond NOW, and have “cc-ed” the entire world in on those demands to make it look like they are dealing with it.

Such a bore. I would argue that anyone who can look in the bathroom mirror each morning without laughing is deluded. Maybe, on the lines of the Rorschach Test, psychologists could consider this as a means of weeding out nutjobs during the extended interview process major corporations and government departments favour these days. For anyone applying for jobs which put them in power over others, in fact, it ought to be compulsory.

Unfortunately, things are more serious than that. In the last few days a number of very troubling personal crises have simultaneously come to a head. For the sake of my family welfare – and possibly my own sanity – I have to drop everything else and get things under control. Unless I do a chain of unfortunate events could be set in motion that won’t be good for anyone I care about, never mind me.

So, advance warning that I am highly unlikely to post here for a couple more weeks. In fact, if you know the “real me” you won’t find me on Facebook or other such toys for a while either. All being well, I get enough free time to recover my sense of humour again during the last week of the month.

See you then. And for anyone else in similar circumstances, just take time out to look in the mirror and laugh

Just chuck it

I found this (see http://www.isleofman.com/News/details/79185/charity-s-praise-for-community-service-scheme ) worrying, rather than praiseworthy.

An evangelical charity uses slave labour to pick up rubbish, and this is something to celebrate, er…why exactly?

Is there any demonstrable link between the junk left on beaches and those involuntarily being made to pick it up? No, thought not. So it’s straightforward slave labour then. No public benefit, no attempt to tackle the root problem of people making areas of natural beauty grotty by throwing stuff away.

The point is that the “punishment” prisoners have is to be deprived of their liberty. They are not sentenced to hard labour. They should not be required to do voluntary or unpaid work for corporations who, themselves, border on the criminal. In addition, it is a national disgrace that simply in order to get out of prison at the time their sentences end – rather than later – Manx prisoners are now required to “volunteer” for inane activities, far too often run by evangelical buffoons with double digit IQs.

Similarly, community service schemes for offenders who have little choice but to agree in order to avoid a prison sentence have proved another growth industry for Manx devotees of the Zombie Carpenter. Justice, education or rehabilitation they are not. And how could they be when offenders are at the beck and call of some deluded herbert who talks to walls on Sundays?

OK, the only reason this non-story appeared at all is that someone from Beach Buddies wrote it. But the only real story for a genuine journalist is that offenders are being used as slave labour, and that is not explored.

The bad news is, more of the same is planned, and the evangelicals will have their hands in the public till right up to their elbows. Quelle surprise.

Though I have a far funnier story, for anyone who might be interested.

About 25 years ago a particularly dull Manx businessman asked a young employee if he could get him any of these magic mushrooms he’d been hearing about, as he wanted to try some and find out what all the fuss was about. Which he did.

Up until that point, the businessman was your usual small town Rotarian – sexist pig who ritually humiliated and exploited any half attractive woman in his employ, liked a round of golf and a few drinks after, mixed in with the usual attempts to steer a juicy public sector contract his way with a brown envelope.

After the mushrooms he “found God”, and joined a notorious local evangelical church. He still had an “unreconstructed” view of women, and was still eager to mop up public funds with a word in the right ear. But he stopped drinking alcohol and devoted a lot of “spare time” to church groups and less to the golf club in order to groom those with access to public money.

Oh, and he and his cronies also found that one way in which Jesus could save while his followers dipped into the public purse was through quasi-charitable “community work”.

For once, that really does suggest that messing with psychedelic substances can have unfortunate long term consequences.

Relief from the comic

Tomorrow is a bank holiday, and so I get an extra day’s break from a workplace that gets ever more moronic. Two cases from the last week alone would prove my point.

Now, it may be an unfashionable value judgement, but for me anyone who watches enough TV to talk about it at work is beneath contempt. Why do I have to endure the pain of being around such numpties?

OK, apart from because I get paid to be there. Which is no real answer, because the payment is for the pointlessness and drudgery of the work, not the uninspiring surroundings or the vacuity of wage slaves and supervisors who – amazingly – seem to regard such activity as worthwhile or even stimulating.

I mention this because I had to endure the office veg ranting on about East Enders this week. Which got me idly wondering when was the last time I watched any TV soap, and why they don’t interest me.

Apart from a brief period in the 1980’s when I was confined to a house which did, I realised that the answer is “never”, unless I was visiting someone else who does. And the latter, to be honest, is itself unlikely because I would be bored rigid by anyone so dull-witted that they bother.

The thing is that before the year 2000 I was usually out at work until late at night – or just out at play. So I never learnt the genre, and never had the time or inclination to watch TV anyway.

I have never been one of life’s spectators and cannot imagine a time when I would be. Well before the age of hundreds of channels, internet devices and so on, I learnt to pick any rare interesting programme, watch it, then turn off to do something more interesting.

Another source of office-based misery is the monthly compulsory corporate charity scam. In which – in return for the dubious privilege of being allowed to come to work on Friday dressed like a brain-dead Rotarian at the golf club – we “voluntarily” donate money to “good causes” carefully selected by some of the company’s worst mouth-breathers.

From time to time, in order to counter the idea that the company robs the poor of public services in order to subsidise the rich, a mugshot of such slack-jawed oafs branding a giant cheque appears in the local press. Oh, and the “donation” is written off on the company tax return. In fact, everybody wins except those being nominally helped.

This week it was “Subsidise the Yacht-trash”….. sorry “Sailing for the Disabled”. Another of those pointless pseudo-charities that bored rich gits set up, then pressure others to pay for. There’s also Riding for the Disabled, and probably countless others along that line.

See the pattern yet? People with the kind of expensive hobbies that require you to shell out thousands to arse around with other rich wastes of space magnanimously agree to share their dismal hobby with some crips. As if an inability to ponce about in a yacht or on a pony is really the first thing on any disabled person’s mind.

More like, getting a job, being able to get round the house unaided, finding a public toilet, catching a bus…… well, the list goes on and on really. If the nauseating wasters who think up these schemes really wanted to share their toys with some wheelchair user, the cost of adapting them would be….. what, one G&T a week for a year?

But the Manx obsession with pointless charities and cretinous fund-raising events (usually involving the kind of charmless sports player you’d pay to avoid or have crippled, not to encourage) is just another of those joyous things about living here, along with kissing some rich in-breed’s arse, dealing with a government department headed up by the aforementioned in-breed’s least employable relatives, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Not that I am complaining. In fact, observing the sheer inanity of such experiences is enough to keep me amused for most of my waking hours.

Though you do need a strategy to deal with psychos with collecting tins. I find keeping a collection of toy, fake or foreign coins in a separate pocket to your real spare change is a useful one. In the last year, while sporting the appropriate fake smile, I must have dropped, oh, all of 50p’s worth of junk coinage into various collecting tins. It almost makes it interesting and worthwhile to seek such rubbish out, and imagine the dismay and anger when the self-important fundraiser finds it hours later.

“First, do no harm”

If you ever had the impression that your financial affairs are being dealt with by some suave woman in designer heels and a nicely tailored suit – or just a shaven-headed Mondeo Man who is only happy when rattling off “stats” or inventing reasons to bill you for some pointless “service” – then on the Isle of Man you are sadly wrong. These are so exceptional to the rule that prime examples would be shot and stuffed.

It is very possible that your account is being overseen by a semi-literate teen, employed mainly in the misguided belief that if they can update their Facebook status every 10 minutes (while simultaneously banging on about last night’s drunken episode to workmates) then they are just what the paperless office needs. They are so not, by the way.

It is far more likely to be a wall-eyed, menopausal farmer’s wife in a hideous cardigan with a permanent sniffle. A younger variant on this is married to a nominally self-employed (i.e. jobless) labourer, and carries the burden of providing for the entire family in between tidying round at home after the resident couch potato, writing notes to teachers to excuse their illiterate kids from classes and going to a gym.

Both opt for chunky 4x4s (the younger in standard white, black or silver drug dealer trim, the older in sun-bleached pastel shades into which mud and rust are equally intermingled) and have a pathological distrust for any book other than a self-help manual or primer for obligatory and rudimentary business studies.

While the Isle of Man is the last bastion of troglodytes who would rather live off their partners or parents than do a soft office job, some are too weak to go the whole hog.

So we also find the male office worker who chunters on endlessly about DIY rather than be seen as soft by his unemployable mates (odd, though, that such wasters always lack the self-respect to refuse free drinks from working people). Like the more aggressive female of the species, his other obsession is going to the gym to keep up a fake tan and muscle tissue, usually supplemented by steroids and copious caffeine drinks.

Given the above, people may ask why I work in the finance sector when it is so obvious I have no interest.

Well, as I have made clear previously, that would be because there is no other work. Anyway, it pays well, and finance sector employers do have firm policies against discrimination or bullying that are scrupulously upheld.

Because, oddly, all the local prejudices I and others who are “different” encounter are from those who make employment decisions in the public sector. This is even odder when you think that we pay government employees to end such nonsense.

Funniest of all is the cartoon stereotype right-on lefties have of offshore finance routinely setting up bogus companies and pretending to run them, all the while having our strings pulled by shadowy figures. All that is missing is the hook-nosed cartoon character and any open mention of an international Zionist conspiracy.

Oops, let the cat out of the bag, did I?

Though we do have one client in one notorious country who insists on his staff proofing any document before the directors sign off.

I should explain that this isn’t to dictate to the directors, who retain full and proper control. It is simply because of the rampant control-freakery in that country – a notorious sharia law toilet with a barking mad royal family. A few people there have to be seen to give orders and be divinely right, everyone else has to be seen to obey them and to be imperfect.

The real irony is that below the bureaucratic class we deal with who carry out the business instructions is a massive peasant class, utterly afraid and not even aware that their lords and masters maintain foreign companies carrying out haram activity that would get the peasants executed, and banking the proceeds in a Swiss account.

As the money is good, and nothing illegal or immoral by Western standards is required, for years we have put up with puzzling instructions to dot an “i” here or cross a “t” there, or replace the clear language and phrasing demanded by every other client with abstruse Victorian legalese.

At first, as with getting copy past a magazine sub-editor, I regarded it as a challenge to get my draft through untouched. It never happens, and as my drafts get ever more precise, the requests to modify them get ever more bizarre. It has become an office joke that “Mr X returned another document because it was clear and correct. Please insert more waffle at paragraph 1 and spelling errors at paragraph 2”.

Finally I twigged.

In this nightmare backwater, controlled by psychopathic loons, every lowly employee either justifies their existence or gets canned. Some poor sod has to find a mistake in each document, and has to record it. If not, he is out of a job and his family are in the street.

I now deal with it by leaving small typos in each proof for these wretches to find, though the funny thing is that they often miss them and want a minor change elsewhere. It also annoys the semi-literate amongst our own management that I, the office intellectual, keep making basic spelling errors.

Whatever. If nobody got executed or lost their home because of something I did at work today my conscience is clear.

Did you miss me?

Right after my last upbeat entry on Jan 2nd, this year became an Annus Horribilis in which there has been no respite. Way too personal to go into here, but at work, at home and elsewhere horrible stuff came out of nowhere that had to be dealt with. As each grim month ended, I vowed to get blogging again in the next, only to be knocked sideways by another fresh crisis.

Anyway, enough of all that. You either write from where you are or get written off by the very corporate dullards and social justice warriors who make you so irate in the first place. Ironically, new writing opportunities elsewhere also came right out of the blue, and keep coming. They had to be dealt with too – which was hard work but at least far more fun.

So, while the flow of effluent doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon, last week I met my dignified public statement quota for the month and am now declaring open season on puritans, interfering busybodies and the hard-of-thinking.

You can either indulge me or jump off a cliff. Everybody deserves at least one gratifying hobby, so here goes….

I am so sick of reading twaddle like https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb/press-releases/david-cameron-majority-british-public-want-you-act-tax-havens/ from publically subsidised (but politically and intellectually retarded) ‘think-tanks’.

The only thing it really tells me is what anyone who lives here and isn’t a public sector Klingon could tell you already – that the kind of Brits who respond to useless surveys like this are neo-colonial halfwits, who can’t even name the constituent parts of the UK and don’t understand basic politics. The walking dead; on benefits, private incomes or final salary pensions.

In the real world things just are not that simple. In the real world, most residents of British dependencies do not have the option of three years staring out the window of a university lecture theatre, followed by a lifetime of ditzy Mcjobs with a succession of save-the-world pseudo-charities.

We actually have to work for a living. Those of us not born here have to work for a living even if they arrive on-island with a string of degrees from top foreign universities. And the only real work is in… yes, you’ve guessed it…. the finance sector.

Finance is to us what coal and steel were to the UK towns where I grew up; the only game in town. That isn’t due to Manx government, it’s due to colonialism. The same colonialism that too many self-styled ‘professionals’ in the overseas aid racket cannot get past, acknowledge or even recognise.

Oh sure, there’s working in Costa or care homes (and I know foreigners with good science, maths or economics degrees working in both), but you try getting by on £200 a week. Buy a house, start a family? Most can’t even rent a small flat unless they sublet with 3 others and the landlord turns a blind eye.

But the funniest thing about the recent outbreak of moral one-upmanship over tax is knowing that some of the biggest virtue-signallers actually owe their privileged existence to pretty repugnant corporations and individuals. One I know, for example, had a lengthy period of foreign ‘study’ paid for by a family who avoid all tax on personal income from their US chain-stores by funneling it through the front charity of a millenarian cult.

The thing that worries me most is that the recipient lacked either the curiosity or basic research skills to check out the charity. By comparison, the first thing I learnt from working in the evil finance sector is to treat all religious charities as money-launderers until they can prove otherwise. I learnt that lesson, by the way, in a course run by an FBI agent.

Yes, you are reading that right. The only place you will find seriously dodgy dealings on the Isle of Man is in the opaque, poorly regulated charity sector, and the worst offenders hide behind religion. To my certain knowledge, if it wasn’t that charities with six figure turnovers need audited accounts, and that some of the much maligned accounts firms who work on large finance sector companies can spot fraudsters at 100 metres (so have turned down contracts with certain US televangelists) things would be far worse. And it is a racing certainty that the same is true in other ‘offshore’ jurisdictions closer to the US.

Now, when are the so-called serious press going to look into that phenomena?