Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Vultures!



When we remark that 'the vultures are circling,' we usually mean to imply that something's about to go tits up or, more likely, that it already has! Like the economy, for example. We are remarking, more specifically, that someone or someones is/are hoping to cash in on this mishap or misadventure.

Although, at the time of starting this entry, England's football team were still poised and surely looking to be the favourites to progress into the World Cup Final against France, so the economy, along with much accompanying late night revelry, was taking a bit of a boost. Airline tickets to Moscow, booze and barbecues seemed to be contributing somewhat disproportionately.

Empty rental space
Cost?
     We hope to be able to watch at least some of the semifinal, and really do wish the team well. Out of nothing more than some sort of devilment, I shall leave these opening paragraphs, but amend with an appropriate footnote, should things not go quite to plan. So, the nation's mood at the outset and then at the conclusion of this post might turn out to be somewhat different, but the general thrust will hopefully be maintained throughout. Let's see what happens, shall we? Fingers crossed!

Our small family unit did not, in fact, watch England's progress through the quarter finals. Instead, we had a pool pretty much to ourselves. Clearly our five-year-old granddaughter was not going to miss out on two hours in virtual command of an outside swimming pool,  but even she was interested enough to listen to the regular updates from a couple of lifeguards who would rather have been watching the game.


Shrinking Amazon?
Anyway, vultures!

Having spent some time at reasonably close quarters with various species of vulture, I would have to concur with any wildlife enthusiast, that vultures are most certainly not deserving of their flawed reputation amongst those who have not bothered to discover more. Vultures are, in stark contrast, quite magnificent beasts! Non-enthusiasts who have, at any point, spied one of Africa's Lappet-faced Vultures might require a modicum of further persuasion but, surely, even they cannot fail to have been impressed. This aside, the vulture is moreover a vital cog in the planet's ecosystem, acting as one of nature's more refined vacuum cleaners- something from which humanity could perhaps learn a timely lesson.

So, imagine if you will, we have something struggling to hold on to life, or worse, and we have those who might hope to benefit from this misfortune, both the 'allegorical' and the 'actual' of this post thus far perfectly align. Where they then violently diverge is in the process of mopping up.

The charity question!
Real vultures feast upon the death that they have not caused and they remove the decay, thereby seriously reducing the chances of diseases spreading, before returning to again most perfectly adorn the skies and the landscapes. Allegorical vultures feast upon and beyond societal decay, and so upon the living, effectively becoming the disease, which goes on to adversely affect and then to feast upon the wider population.

Upon a shortish stroll through the fine city of Norwich I took a number of images that might compile to tell rather a story.

Touchdown!
When the vultures, with their excellent eyesight, consummate patience, and pinpoint sense of smell, detect death there is invariably an avant garde species. This might be a larger or more aggressive vulture, maybe one with a particularly well developed sense of smell. The American Turkey Vulture springs to mind, thought by some to have a most acute sense of smell, known by many to have a wonderfully 'angry' red head, perfectly bald and thus so well suited to dealing with the blood and ragged flesh of the mammalian (and other) corpses.

Hot on the heels!
Not sharing the same continent, so differently avant garde, the African Lappet-faced Vulture- one of my very favourite birds- relies far more upon bullying the smaller bird species off the meat. Although not quite comparable in size to the stately Marabou Stork, this monster presents as the optimum scavenger and never seems to defer to anything outside of the mammalian species- even a few of these (carnivorous mammals) will tend to wait in turn, rather than to risk a tussle with the Lappet-faced bird.

There is something most comforting in knowing that all is in order!

I can still vividly recall sitting with a friend, at a breakfast table in northern Tanzania, watching those characteristic helical towers of such birds, sliding across a bleached summer's sky, knowing that somewhere at least everything was in order. African White-backed Vultures, and (especially) Ruppell's Vultures, often bulked out these groups. Marabous invariably seemed to hang lower in the skies, either late to the group, or else perhaps looking to steal a march on the competition.

Also in the melee!
The only real reason for such diversification of this group of birds would, of course, be niche separation. Southern Africa boasts nine vulture species, although the European Griffon Vulture tends not often to drift quite so far south. The vulturine Bateleur is considered to be a short tailed Eagle, more closely, so I am advised, related to the snake eagles, but it all too frequently presents more like a cross between a vulture and some sort of hang-glider or large (man-made) kite. Anyway, nine species!

The smaller birds in this group- although 'small' in no real sense can describe any vulture- never seem to bother to compete at the larger gatherings. Why would they? I guess that there is only so far to slide down the pecking order, before a species effectively bumps clear off the bottom of said 'order.'

Niche separation?
Wherever I encountered vultures like the Egyptian, or the Hooded Vultures the larger species were completely absent from the scene. The one White-headed Vulture that I connected with was itself almost absent from the scene- I found one and one only of this species, and it was almost cute!

Palm-nut Vultures, flying more like something designed by a committee, don't even partake of the meat- isn't diversity in nature so very wonderful?- instead feasting mainly upon (surprise) palm-nut husks, occasionally upon the likes of crabs. 

Prey is varied.
The most massive of the 'vultures' are maybe the condors. I have not yet- I doubt I ever will- seen the mighty Californian Condor, but have been privileged enough to have encountered a few of the Andean Condors. Being quite the size that this species is one would imagine that it might fare rather well in the pecking order, but alas often not! Not as witnessed by myself.

Clearly scale must play a massively significant role in the specific determination of certain ecosystems, how could it not? So, whereas several of the more diminutive bird species almost seem to be oblivious to the human species, seldom is this quite true of the larger species. We might have to factor in 'self-interest' here, feeding and suchlike.

Where a genuinely, fully-wild and larger species is concerned, there is almost always a noticeable wariness- think Grey Heron, for example- whereas this is quite often not the case with very small birds- hummingbirds and the like. It strikes me that there might almost be a sort of subconscious awareness at work here- too small to snack upon, too large to be a threat? The Andean Condor, except in the vicinity of feeding stations, is then a most wary bird. Even where there is no real apparent threat these birds will often hang back, almost as if they are half-expecting some sort of trap!

Bully or bullied?
Okay, so maybe Condors aren't actually vultures either? But I think you'll find that, from five through to eleven, all of my illustrations quite perfectly conform.

The promised footnote. The 'three lions on the shirt' nation- heraldry, not colonialism- sadly does not (as of Wednesday evening, 11th July) any longer have its hand upon that football World Cup. No doubt it would have suited Ms May for the England team to have triumphed in this tournament because, drifting away into the Atlantic, it is difficult to imagine which sort of Britain she and her ilk are hoping soon to present to the world. Take a walk like the one that I recently undertook and the image is not one of any sort of healthy ecosystem!

We could set aside the highly questionable role of the charities themselves. But who could deny that, in any (genuinely) thriving economy, any street that is peppered with charity-based affairs does not usually represent any form of economical buoyancy! Empty shops and overly-high rents are also often simply two sides of the same coin, yet, even so, we should all question the logic in quite so many premises remaining empty, for quite so very long!

Maybe, because 'our society' has normalised homelessness, it is thought- not really thought- by the likes of IDS, Rees Mogg, and Edwina Curry that charity shops in the high street might somehow fare better? But we know which came first in this particular chicken or egg scenario, don't we?

Preying upon both chicken and egg!
Two days ago I happened to visit one of Norwich's outer ring-road garages. At the till I was confronted with an 'add an amount for charity' option. Quick, press the screen, others are watching and applying the requisite peer pressure! Why, it's almost as if there's another, and this time unspoken, plan for a UK sub-economy? Is it really any wonder that so many 'high-earning' bands and sports stars are quite so very keen to be associated with charities, although far less so with their tax havens?

Old man Murdoch, or his remnant odour in the guise of Sky, is simply quite desperate to sink his gnarled vulturine talons into seemingly each and every popular sport. Which is where (TV) we are most likely to often encounter reference to the online vultures, care of Messrs Winston, Ferdinand, Kamara, Barnes et al., virtual, virtual vultures! 


... of body or nation?
Upon the Norwich high street I encountered seven 'species' of virtual vulture, only two fewer than those flawless creatures who collectively, and most efficiently, span half a continent in Africa. Obviously the African vultures are infinitely more majestic, infinitely more beneficial to a healthy ecosystem, and supremely adapted to best fit their niche! Such contrast!

7th and 17th!
So, and in awful conclusion, in our very English and flawed ecosystem, of normalised homelessness, re-emergent slum landlords and other vultures, the signs are multiplying. As a trading nation we are currently ranked an 'impressive' seventh amongst the G7 nations, and seventeenth amongst the G20 nations- pity those lagging behind even this! Yet still we have been hoodwinked into believing that it is our more successful 'partners' who are holding us back?

Don't ask!
Is there not also now more than a nagging doubt, regarding the reasoning behind reducing the hours by which those wishing to avail themselves of further information might endeavour to learn more?

Of course there is desperation! Of course there are vultures! 

In 2018 the Norfolk sculpture theme was hares, maybe next time it should be vultures? And I already have several suggestions regarding the positioning of a few of the works.





Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Can Eat Overindulgently?


Cuts for Everyone in Obedience?
Calculating Excessively for Oneself?
Contract surely Exceeds Omnipotence?
Comfort in Excess of Opulence?
Claims Exceeding the Over-expensive?
Costing Easily Over-the-Earth?
Could Easily be Omitted?

CEO? Whoever really knows what the acronym might be screaming into the wind? Chief Executive Officer seems most unlikely.

We have learnt, again and again and again of late, that Britain is not faring so well amongst the 'more advanced' of the industrialised nations. Mmmm?


Value judgements.
So towering inequality isn't actually working, then? All those zero hour contracts and slum tenancies have failed to lick the nation into the required shape, have they? Re-voting in, time and time again, the political parties endorsed by the Main Stream Media (MSM) has not served up quite the menu we were 'promised?' Of note, said 'promise' was also made by that same MSM, amongst others. The nation's 'leaders' are far more akin to those First World War generals, than they are to serving the wider nation, are they? It wasn't the fault of the French, or the Germans, or the other European nations, really? We honestly don't have a special relationship with the United States of America? Questions, questions...

Well, this state of affairs hasn't really snuck up on us, has it? How on Earth can we, the UK, possibly hope to maintain these stratospheric levels of inequality, whilst pretending that 'the dregs' count for anything? Indeed, how do we even begin to pretend that someone on a zero-hour contract counts for anything at all? Dilemmas, dilemmas...


Assimilation.
Perhaps, more to the point, how can we in the UK convince those in the higher-paid non-jobs that they (the non-jobbers) actually contribute anything of value? If we cannot, then it might well be the case that we are failing excessively at both ends of the scale!

I have leaned, and have almost certainly mentioned before, that the UK (as of July 2018) ranks seventh amongst the G7 nations, and seventeenth amongst the G20 nations. I have leaned also that it has been calculated, based upon various surveys, that approximately a third of the population are planning or hoping to leave or change jobs in the next year.

That last piece of information we could easily dispute, based upon, as are all such things, surveys and questionnaires given to a representative cross section of our society. In the MSM, unless it does not suit their current agenda, such information might easily be disputed- they might question how it might ever be possible for a whole third of the population to reshuffle jobs at almost the same time. They will not, of course, elaborate, that many people are trapped, through financial commitments to family or buying a home, and therefore realistically are unable to seriously consider quitting their job.

Pragmatism
Think though! Should the cleaners at your place of work not do their rounds for a day would you notice? What about a week? Longer?

What about the CEO, or what might substitute for a CEO (Christ, Enough Other-People's-Opinions!)- a CEOPO?- what if they were absent for a day, a week, a month, or for the rest of their given days?

We know we'd miss the cleaners. Imagine having to clean up after ourselves, after a full day at work. At least we wouldn't moan quite so much about the missed bits. But the CEO? Would we? Would we really?


Misinformation.
I'd go so far as to suggest that the only way that most of those in the real jobs would miss the CEO- always assuming that someone doesn't step into his or her shoes and perpetuate the skewing of the office hierarchy- would be if his or her salary suddenly stopped and the amount was more correctly reinvested into the workforce.

Also of note and relevance, more than 25% of graduates quit their jobs within one year of starting- it's actually closing in on 33%. And almost a third of teachers quit the sector within five years.

I'm guessing that someone- many someones- is noticing the fact that a third of the workforce are disillusioned, also that quite so many young teachers are not hanging around for as long as the pupils they teach might be.

And, some of the most excessively paid CEOs are in charge of the worst-performing companies... who'd have thought it?

Acronyms, don't you just hate them?



Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Slippery Exodus



I have been something of an insomniac for well over a decade now, but one of the things that seems to work reasonably well (at getting me off to sleep) is listening to the radio. I think that it is likely that a settled mind best lends itself to sleep. I am given to believe that for many insomniacs the issue is more specifically that they (insomniacs) struggle to get to sleep whilst in bed, that is whilst actively trying to get to sleep, whereas reading a book, watching TV, even attending a lecture often seems to ease the process, whether this is always convenient or otherwise. Isn't this the basic premise behind 'counting sheep,' introducing to the mind the process of 'simplifying and decluttering?'

Specific (radio) material works best for me. I find that topical comedy will too often have quite the opposite effect. Classical music and some forms of jazz work reasonably well, as does ponderous conversation, but the subject matter must be worthy of attention; that is to write, no contemporary pop, or any conversation/broadcast that might somehow involve Piers Morgan. Invariably the more interesting the subject matter the more likely it is to aid transition. Focus the mind, shut out the peripheral clutter, and we're half way there... sometimes.

Of course, this doesn't in any way guarantee that I won't be wide awake again by half-past-one.

Quite naturally a great deal that is selected is from the pallet of BBC Radio, invariably BBC Radio 4. Featuring prominently in recent months I have found 'Woman's Hour' to be both highly listenable and thus wonderfully conducive to sleep. The subject matter is colourfully varied, invariably contemporary; I don't recall it being quite this good when I used to listen to Radio 4 a great deal more  when I was a student.

West north-west
Anyway, several months back, Jenny Murray (Woman's Hour) was speaking with a guest, a mother who had recently served a prison sentence for the non payment of council tax arrears. The woman in question had been trying to 'catch up,' she was juggling with more than one job and trying to look after her school-age son. The third party in this conversation was a lawyer, and she (the lawyer) pointed out, for the interested listener, that the UK (and even so only in England and Wales) is the only country in Western Europe that currently still operates debtor's prisons, much like it did in Dickensian Britain.

It was also pointed out that whilst serving time any 'debtor' is liable to lose both home and job, and therefore much of the means to best catch up on arrears. The two jobs that the lady had were both zero-hour affairs, so were not really proper employment at all, but her home and the home of her child? That was very real!

I was expecting Jenny Murray to reasonably sympathetically cajole from the lady the more specific details and then, in some Woman's-Hourly manner, to lay down some sort of critical view of this practice. But instead, and quite shockingly so, she stuck steadfastly to the government line. She instead held the woman to task and repeatedly questioned her recounting of the events leading up to her eventual imprisonment. '"We' have been told that it was £10," Jenny contradicted her guest, "not £20."

The lawyer was able to clarify that the lady had been paying off £20 a week of her arrears, ahead of the court ruling of £10, because she had wished to more swiftly get the system off her back. "Many 'just-about-managing' families would have little sympathy with your predicament," Jenny led the neutral listeners to conclude. "You have then made yourself, and your child, intentionally homeless," Jenny contested, without breaking stride.

Quite how it was so 'easily possible' for Jenny Murray to 'imagine' attempting to survive and to escape debt in such circumstances is difficult to fathom. The guest remained all the while entirely subservient, meekly accepting of Jenny's contentions, judgements and consequent condemnation. At no point did Ms Murray elect to encourage or to entertain any more empathic thoughts. Much like we may have witnessed upon numerous other BBC programmes, she seemingly blindly toed the governmental line.

Those of an older generation  may well recall a time when the BBC was regularly accused of harbouring swarms of old communists and socialists, simply because a more balanced approach was sometimes sought. In reality the 'communist and socialist' accusation never reflected the reality, but as Lenin was once quoted as having said, "Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth." Even though our (BBC) airwaves and screens are now quite awash with old Conservatives, and rather too many old-New-Labourites, the likes Of Edwina Curry are still eager to 'regale' us with the tired-ol' Tory line, tell a lie often enough, eh Edwina...

West north-west
Anyone who may have spent more than about half-an-hour in my (author of this post) company will have quickly deduced that I am no fan of our government, but even so I was surprised to learn that quite so many of our citizens are currently incarcerated within debtors prisons. And I would contest, until my dying day, that such practice is highly indicative of a 'society' that has slipped up!

Do we always need to slip quite so very far before such a howling glitch is addressed? Or, is the question more, who's interest is best served when such slippage occurs? 

I think also on Woman's Hour, although the issue has been known about for a while now, the topic of up-skirting was recently discussed. Here at least there is not a governmental 'concern.'

The up-skirting article was seeking to highlight the growing problem for both female staff and pupils at some of the UK's secondary schools. For anyone who is unaware, up-skirting is the practice of surreptitiously lowering one's mobile phone until the camera is able to 'see' up the skirt of any female and then taking a photograph, which may shortly be shared with other 'friends' (usually boys), or/and posted on social media.

I doubt that there would be many people who would be bold or stupid enough to openly celebrate this act, so the questions are, 'who benefits through the practice of allowing pupils phones on to school premises?' and, 'in who's interest is it not to more stringently police social media?' Or, more generally, 'who most benefits through every child having in their possession, all the while, his or her own mobile phone?'

Have we allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is this?

The appreciation of any sport may be a very subjective matter, but then one can only appreciate from the array of sports that are on offer. I am going to suggest that it is quite probable that many amongst us may not have watched any reasonable form of proper cricket (test matches or one day internationals) for an age or, in the case of many younger citizens, 'ever!'  Of those who have rightly grown to appreciate the wonders of test cricket even many of these will not have properly watched the spectacle for a while. Instead, many will have quietly had to settle for the services of BBC Radio 5 LiveX, a non-visual format. Maybe, at the end of the day, or late into the night, they will have salvaged the 'highlights,' presented as if every ball is either smashed to the boundary, or else gloriously dispatches the batsman (or woman). Wielding his cleaver like a mighty war axe, the editor will have hacked the spectacle to within a hairsbreadth of its life!

North-east
Speaking briefly, for those I know who like(d) to watch and listen to cricket coverage, 'we' enjoy the subtleties and the ponderings of the game, we enjoy the speculative side of the game, the tactics, the immense skills of spin or swing (and reverse swing) bowling, the spectacle of blistering pace against the best of batting prowess, the setting of field placings and traps, all these things and many more. We do not so much like to speculate about which ball in the over will be a (potentially preordained) no-ball, about which ball will be dispatched for a six, about how many balls in the match will be lofted over the boundary ropes, and we do not like to spoil our enjoyment of the game, by speculating with sums of money which we cannot afford to lose, which players will best defy or confirm what the bookies will have predicted and to which they will have apportioned most-ungenerous odds. Thus, we are not so much fans of the fish-bash-bosh form of the game that is Twenty20.

For we fans who are also fans of BBC Radio 5 LiveX things are about to change. TalkSport, yet another branch of some Murdoch Empire conglomerate, has just snatched one last ember from the dying Ashes (pun half intended) of that which once was a proud tradition of wonderfully accessible cricket coverage upon various BBC channels. That is to report that they have snaffled 'Test Match Special.' I have found it to be the case that the Sky is seldom these days anything other than very murky!

So, the same megalith group who currently presides over, or colludes with, the frequently and easily corruptible betting groups, and with Twenty20 cricket, now holds all of the aces. One might sensibly conclude that any deck that never deals the aces to anyone else might be a deck best avoided but gambling, we know, is not based upon any degree of sensibility.

"We want the whole nation to get behind England's cricket team!" I seem to recall Alistair Cook, then captain, once requesting of the fans. Quite how this might be best achieved he did not go on to elaborate. Michael Vaughn might have an opinion, more likely he'll have an official and an unofficial one. That we cannot, without conforming to at least some of Murdoch's demands, watch or now instead listen to our own national side playing matches at home upon it's own national ground suggests that something is not right!

So, have we again allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is it this time?

East south-east
As with all political subterfuge we invariably find that nothing ever evolves in complete isolation, although it may well be pretended and presented as such. Turn over enough rocks and there we are likely to discover the constantly creeping fibres of spreading political mycelium... follow the money, perhaps!

If we were to speculate upon the 'evolution' of the UK's police forces we might be here a while and thus discover more than a few fingers in that particular pie. And, given that numbers are undoubtedly down, we would all likely agree that dealing with the UK's abuse of vehicular exhausts is not likely to be topmost upon a daily-growing list of should-be-police-priorities. Yet a more open-ended debate could scarcely fail to recognise that this is an issue that has escalated, and done so because it has been permitted through neglect to fester. Leave a toe to fester long enough and we might well lose the toe, lose the whole leg, the entire living entity! It really doesn't take a genius to draw the conclusion that if 'children' are encouraged to make enough noise, then they will soon be looking to find out what else may be up for grabs.

Blighted neighbourhoods, escalating instances of aggressive and dangerous driving, fatalities, road rage, yet another manifestation to heap onto the mountainous tip that is so amorphously labelled as, 'pollution?' It's not just shiny pipes and a questionably-warm throaty growl, is it, despite what the advertisers might have us 'believe!'

Have we yet again allowed standards to slip, and in who's best interest is it this time?

Speed bumps we find are swiftly replacing the sleeping police forces; sleeping policemen in exchange for sleeping policemen? But the bumps do tend to knock the street-life off the best of vehicles- we can literally hear the years falling away- so not everybody is losing out. And so much of that political lobbying is being done behind closed doors, we find that it eases the transit of all that cash!

In who's best interest is the slip-up this time?

East south-east

Watching and being rightly horrified at current news stories, regarding the huge volumes of plastic litter in our oceans, 'we' might almost be forgiven for 'seeing' this as somehow a recent development, except to write that in no way is this really excusable. Such is the current concentrated news coverage that it might yet help to obscure the fast sinking Grenfell tragedy or to somehow dilute the Windrush debacle. Today is a good day to bury a bad news story, as might these days be said of so many (news) days and stories.

Others, with a less easily distracted eye, might well contest that litter, especially that of a less biodegradable nature has been a ballooning issue for, at the very least, the last few decades. The over-packaging of 'goods' has been argued against for a lifetime, and some! What will the supermarkets, amongst others, be doing to redress this concern, we have been encouraged to think, then to re-think, then to unthink, then ultimately to forget about! Which to bury behind which... litter, sugar... sugar, litter?

Is it really in anyone's interest to allow this one, or two, to slip? You can bet your life that it is!

It might almost be better if the issue concerned solely plastic litter, almost. Have you walked along many supermarket-adjacent lanes recently? Recycling, we've got it covered! Of course we have! Or somebody has... just as long as their questionable 'coverage' doesn't result in the rest of us also being covered! Voluntary codes in the wrong hands can be such slippery things.

It could be contested that the above listed matters are all separate and individually-separable issues, that we are merely in the throes of an unfortunate and unique concentration of many different, variable concerns. If this were indeed the case it would be fair also to contest that any beneficiaries, should such happen to arise, might not always transpire to be from one and the same small group, although, curiously enough, invariably these days they are. And if we in the UK are to consider ourselves operating in the guise of a democracy- naive admittedly- then we would have to consider that much of this 'unique concentration' is slipping by design, through exactly the same fingers... or at least greasing the same fingers... again and again and again...

If we in the UK were a functioning democracy then surely the beneficiaries would be almost instantly traceable, invariably by virtue of these same beneficiaries invariably being us. If only!

Spread the benefits adequately and, highly satisfactorily, there should actually be far less need for benefits. We might also be able to dispense with food banks, operate ideally no zero-hour 'contracts,' need no longer concern ourselves constantly with the paucity and poverty of the nation's housing, need not redraft 'our' 'education' 'policies' every season... no longer need to adopt such a moving target mentality! 

Of course, 'those' like Edwina Curry will always be on hand to happily thrust a frightful face at any camera and to boldly state that, "Food banks are far more a cause of the problem than they are a solution." Curiously far fewer breadline families are lining up to agree.

Were the UK a functioning democracy we wouldn't need to ensure that our much-heralded 'free' press was always to be concentrated in the hands of so few invested multi-millionaires, most being happy to report such bilge as that spewed by Edwina as a given fact. Were democracy more at hand we might well by now have solved our currently insurmountable plastic ocean-islands issue... if not solved then we may well have headed it off at the pass!

You see, it's not really so very slippery... that is, it doesn't need to be.

South-east
A sudden and most welcome upturn in the weather recently saw us (family) enjoying our local park. We had bravely, or perhaps foolishly, elected to remove the stabilisers from our granddaughter's bike. This once peaceful recreation now involves a great deal of crouching at speed, with the accompanying greater volumes of anxiety. One can't wrap them up in cotton wool, if only we could... Still, let's at least try to minimise the dangers!

'We'd' just dismounted- standing at the edge of the playground area- when I happened to detect a discernible rise in the intensity of the buzzing of the wakening insects- another subject we could add to 'the list.' "Should this be a swarm it might be best to alert other park-goers at the soonest, rather than to wait and to observe potential developments," I had mused.

Of course, it wasn't a swarm, neither bees nor wasps, instead it was a drone! This somewhat hefty device was seemingly fixed at a constant height, perhaps 80 feet above the busy park. Decidedly miffed, I scanned about for the childish dolt at the 'helm'... nothing!

"Mmmm,' I considered, "I wonder if our 'friend' has considered the damage that 5kg of fast falling plastic and metal might cause to any child's skull, should the device suddenly lose power?" The government site is jolly helpful in this regard; it completely set my mind at ease (not) when I referenced it later that day. Take a peek, why don't you?

I have, more than once or twice in recent years, been given cause to consider the potential consequences of any sudden spurt in the ownership of variously-sized-and-or-capable drones in and about our cities and our countryside, so to have found this site came as little real surprise. It is both helpful and it is not, entirely dependent upon how slippery you wish such things to be.
I thought that I would just cut and paste some 'highlights' for your perusal:

Drones are readily available on the high street and Internet, and are being sold in their thousands... they are great fun to fly or operate, and have great utility.

Essentially your responsibilities are:
  • to know how to fly your drone safely, and do so within the law
  • to understand that the operator is legally responsible for every flight
  • to keep your drone in sight at all times – stay below 400ft
  • not to fly your drone over a congested area, never fly within 50 metres of a person, vehicle or building not under your control
  • ensure any images you obtain using the drone do not break privacy laws
  • avoiding collisions – you should never fly a drone near an airport or close to aircraft. It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight
There are several other things to think about – what is your drone going to do if it runs out of power or fails? Is it going to land/fall somewhere safe? Are you far enough away from people, buildings and more importantly airfields if you lose control of your drone?


Now, stick with me here, if you will. I'm going to suggest that anyone who might consider that they have all of these bases covered either lives and intends to operate their 'toy' in a desert or, far more likely, that they intend to pick and to choose which guidelines to consider- and they are still presented much as guidelines- and which to ignore, entirely reliant upon their own peculiar wants, much as they did as a egocentric child. "Oops, did we forget to ask the customer if he was a diagnosed sociopath?" It's the UK's equivalent of the US gun laws. I'm obviously hoping that we'll keep casualties down to around zero on this side of the Atlantic. 
We can expect to see the first government redraft fairly hot upon the heels of our first child fatality. I wonder what the drone-owner's equivalent of, "He's never shown any signs of wanting to attack and kill a child before," might be. Hell, let's not beat about the bush, many drone-inclined males- this group is going to comprise almost entirely of males- are highly likely to be already proudly numbered amongst the nation's dangerous dog owners.

'Hidden in plain sight' has perhaps become a somewhat cliched term... perhaps? To clarify might I just point out that it means, 'to obscure without hiding, by virtue of an item/event/whatever nestling amongst other, perhaps more obvious, choices?' The concept itself is almost self evident, although the frequency of its regularly-amended usage appears these days to operate often more counterintuitively. So, when we hear the term 'hidden in plain sight' it may now be clearly appended to that to which it refers... thus not actually hidden at all. So, now that we are made 'aware' the enveloping chess is required to have effectively upped it's game! 'It' may well be hidden (or rather displayed) in plain sight, but the 'it,' waved before our eyes, may no longer be quite the 'it' that most urgently needs to be addressed. The term has become rather a slippery one.

When Thatcher sold off all of those council homes, supposedly to their respective tenants, the idea was, we may now easily surmise, to transfer ownership into the grasping hands of the landlordly classes. She may not have been the biggest fan of democracy, but 'democracy' was to serve as her cloak of convenience. The electoral minions had already fallen for the privatisation of the nation's social foundations, gleefully opting in to the markets and effectively out of any sort of social cohesion or responsibility. With the proffered crumbs to hand the minions behaved as if unaware of the slicing up of the real loaf! They barely noticed that the markets remained all the while immune. They barely noticed those homes slipping through their fingers! Yet, the design was all the while kept in plain sight... almost.

So, when the market-unsavvy tenants gained 'control' of their knock-down homes, it was reasoned to be only a matter of time before many of those same homes also became marketable commodities. Result, a highly marketable housing crisis that is currently being sustained by the bigger crumbs, in order that they may rest slightly closer to the top of the accumulated debris, and ever-so-slightly closer to the cleaner air... 'investment' homes ltd.,' care of your updated BBC.

Heavens, why make decent housing accessible? Why make education any less market-fodderable, why consider 'public' transport for ordinary people to be an essential service, or the general public's health to be a social responsibility? Instead, why not consider giving every youth £10,000 to reinvest in the markets? Re-balance society!

It really doesn't need to be quite so very slippery! If only the wrong people, with entirely the wrong vested interests, weren't constantly greasing the wrong poles! And, lest we should for a moment doubt ourselves, seventeen 'identified' as 'unnecessary' procedures that NHS England is proposing to cut should more correctly be understood to mean seventeen procedures that have been lined up for privatisation. The slippery exodus is well underway!

* I think that it is called a Hextaptych?



Thursday, 14 June 2018

Major Minor? A work in progress.


As the UK drifts aimlessly, ever further out into the Atlantic, I was given to consider the potential ideological 'adjustments'- either imagined or engineered- that might soon come to redefine our
societal and political idea of what actually constitutes a 'minority.' Numbering unfavourably within an identified or stipulated 'minority' may well be perceived to be any of all things to any of all people. Given that we are all human the wonder- wonder is not quite the coverall word- is that there are so very many!

Should we search hard and honestly enough then I would seriously doubt that there are any amongst us who could not apportion ourselves at least one or two societal 'minority' labels, deserved or otherwise. But then, that's very much the gist of what I'm attempting to explore here; there are those 'minorities' who might consider themselves superior, and there are those who might find themselves deemed somehow inferior. There are those who are currently comfortably, and relatively-safely neutral, and there are those who might consider themselves to be threatened. There are those that might judge themselves to be superior whilst being considered by others to be  inferior, or conceivably vice versa. Some minorities may slot comfortably, almost invisibly, between the other majorities, whereas others are more likely to be driven to consolidate their minoritiness amongst others of a similar minoritiness. There are minority labels that might be proudly worn as a badge, and there are others that might perhaps be carried as a curse!

For myself, I would allocate several 'minority' labels, a number of them perhaps traceable back to the fact that I have always, in adulthood, considered myself to be a socialist. And, while this label does not necessarily afford me access to all of those other variable minority groups, it does perhaps afford me a kind of 'get out of jail' card, should anyone attempt to lump me wholly into any of those other groups- minority or majority- that I might find rather more itchy to be associated with, or so I like to think?

So, I can perhaps dissociated myself from, for example, ostensibly-white, passive-institutionalised racist gatherings that might occur within certain families. Or I can argue and upset the hosts, which is sometimes preferable. Either way, I'm 'out of jail!' Maybe.

It might be argued that, ideally, we should all just work harder at breaking down those societal barriers that currently help to define what is and what is not a 'minority.' But this 'argument' is, of course, currently and far too often just so much wasted oxygen, newsprint, cyberspace or whatever, because, as we all know, there are still those more-specific societal barriers which have been knowingly and aggressively built into our society, built up, shored-up and buttressed over the centuries, to define where we are now, which is most definitely... not any form of acceptable society! We could, and so we should, do our bit, but our's is not yet where the necessary clout lies.

These?
So instead, in order to properly respect and to preserve the identity of certain more worthy minorities, it will still prove necessary to 'iron out' other less desirable groups, both minority and majority, if we are ever to aspire to any sort of cohesive societiness.

One other minority label which I wore for so long that I sometimes find it to be perceived by others as still being there, even though it most certainly no longer applies, is that of 'vegetarian.' Following several decades of abstinence I finally relinquished this label whilst travelling through a handful of Africa's southern countries. It was, with some encouragement, considered that I should again partake of fish, as any wider-ranging national concept of 'vegetarianism' was initially unknown. I really needn't have buckled, but the break was anyway made. Further, I have since and again partaken of other meats, although time had already effectively driven a wedge between us.

I now find that I no longer actually like the taste of flesh, excepting that of well disguised, fried fish. As with other waverers, bacon I think I just might like, but the thought of further pig-sourced flesh passing my lips remains quite troubling to me. Thus, I invariably still eat as a vegetarian, which I am not... quite! And, I shop and dine out as one.

Restaurants today, some of them we may find, are simply bursting these days with ideas for the meat-averse-or-inclined customer. Further, eating out in the UK is no longer the worrisome venture that it once was. But, even so...

Just the other day I was shopping for something foodwise, in Marks and Spencer's food department, when I chanced upon one of the store's more revered offerings, 'Dine in for Two,' cost £10. The label so often draws me in- perhaps it's also the wine- despite it's habitual tendency towards minority discrimination. The minority in this instance being 'vegetarians!' Obviously, there will be other minorities more harshly excluded, but bear with me here...

These perhaps?
After a short search I located the solitary main course vegetarian offering, nestled amongst the familiar vast array of weighty meat-based alternatives. I plucked it out and held the lonely item betwixt two fingers- it was quite bereft of weight, just four thinly rolled spinachy sausages- glancing down to the various meats on offer, and ultimately to the whole generous 'roasting' chicken. And I was given to inwardly sigh! Little wonder that vegetarians often appear so undernourished! I might well have actually enjoyed the offering- it was a Marks and Spencer offering- but I just could not bring myself to condone such 'discrimination.' The item was duly returned to its shelf. Solidarity, I thought! I doubt that either Messrs Marks or Spencer noticed.

Marks and Spencer appear to have missed a trick here, as the minority that is the vegetarian also looks set to significantly increase its 'investment.' But, as for the socialists, the residual conscience of an ever-decaying morality-UK, whilst the interests would appear wonderfully ripe for a veritable explosion in numbers the media machine is currently battling over and above the 'call of duty' to ensure that profits continue to rise whilst everything else simply crumbles before our eyes! Thus the socialist looks well set for yet further targeted misrepresentation... definitely a discriminated against minority!

The size of this particular minority may, and so it should, exponentially rise to threaten even majority status but how would we ever reliably find out?

Other minorities to which I might, at times, lay claims to would, or could, be those of 'cyclist' and/or 'pedestrian.' Although I am also a motorist, which might, in certain eyes, exclude me from either of the harder-core inner- circles? Is there anything that might better define any minority than conflict with others? And there is certainly much animosity to be found where any or all of these minorities and majorities are required to share any given space.

In my capacity as a cyclist I have been forced with intent, and quite criminally, off the road. And I have been otherwise intimidated into cycling off the road, so as to ensure that 'busy' other road users might not be inconvenienced those 'costly' seconds. Of course, the impact of such intimidation rather varies, depending upon whether one feels somehow impeded or else in genuine mortal danger from, for example, the immense thundering wheels of one of the nation's more weighty vehicles. I have watched the road before me being sliced away to nothing by unconcerned or disinterested articulated-lorry drivers, who I absolutely know have clocked my presence, and I have exchanged heated words with other drivers who have then felt so aggrieved by my 'challenge' that they have additionally wasted yet further seconds by turning their vehicle around, simply to attempt another unseating.

Or these?
As a cyclist there are certainly times when the ability to swiftly detour 'off road' might be significantly preferable to this kind of additional conflict 'on road.'

Successive governments have continued to massively favour the motorist- sometimes seemingly any motorist far beyond even the next horizon- over any pedestrian hoping soon to cross any road. And, at least in partial consequence of several recent and ongoing changes, we now often have cyclists resorting to substituting pavement for road. Pedestrians and cyclists vying for dominion in an ever-more-populated arena, or so it often seems, whilst the motorist pays ever more handsomely for a seat at the high table! The clue ultimately is in the paying!

With an eye to greater clarity, whilst the above may, at worst, constitute justifiable annoyances- excepting those rarer truck and van-driver moments- few are so troubling as to warrant any sort of organised march upon parliament. There are already far more than enough of these queueing up for attention!

One might just as 'reasonably' curse the fact that one resides in a hard water region, or that it has been several years since it was possible to build a snowman, or conceivably a snowwoman, in one's back garden. Even our location, it would appear, has conspired to set us apart, but then are these not some of the joys of travel, to thrust one's hand into softer, flowing water, or to peer from the bedroom window onto a freshly fallen carpet of pristine snow?

Far better, and far less ironic, to seriously consider the nation's festering racial tensions, those of immigrant status versus those self-appointedly and 'more deserving' Anglo-Saxon types, or the UDP versus the open-minded? Maybe also the simmering class issues that are still clearly evident within and about tower blocks such as Grenfell? The divisions thread their ways through the social structure rather like a form of 'malevolent' human dry rot. Gender pay? Celebrity privilege versus the media's lesser mortals? Oxbridge versus those who might actually and more properly serve the electorate? Regional accents versus the queen's English? Conservationists against the 'developers?'

Or maybe these?
Religion, another one, may currently prove far more complex, often seemingly able to swim against the tide, despite the increasingly incontrovertible evidence against even its Medieval 'justification' and continued presence. Societal cohesion can only bring us closer, whereas structured division re-rationalises and reapportions our values so that all may certainly not be equally served! Ultimately, it's not about what 'the people' want/require/desire, it's far more about what one 'superior' group wishes to impose upon other 'lesser' groups.

The UK media- good riddance to Mr Dacre!- is expert at keeping a lid on things, but even this struggles with events such as Grenfell. Rest assured, however, that there are already great forces working underground to ensure that the current status quo will not be overly inconvenienced by such a significant collateral loss of life.

What Mr Dacre, 'the voice of Middle England,' was so expert at championing and at channelling was a well-honed reactionary pseudo-middle class, who often behaved as if brainwashed when the 'right' buttons were pushed. He and his types in the editing suite had long since recognised the value in channelled anger and frustration. Consider hard enough and we might almost find ourselves believing that double yellow line parking restrictions were put there to deflect from the wholesale racism evident in the manner in which (for example) the Windrush families are currently being treated. Mr Dacre would have known!

If we are to dig deeper, in order to unearth perhaps the very spinal fluids of the anti-nation, as with any organic neural network, we may easily lose our respective ways. So, it might be easier if we were first to circumnavigate the most ugly, that being the anti-nation's tendencies to lapse, during harder times, into such as racism, sexism and or class divisions. These are anyway well-documented failings! The UK may well (at least in pretence) wish to present itself as battling eternally to overcome these societal hurdles, yet it may at the very same time be devising more convoluted means to maintain the status quo. This much is known and is well documented.

So, let us instead consider those other, currently second division, minority partitionings that are even now consolidating themselves, care of our media machine, winding their divisive tendrils ever more deeply into the fabric of the UK. I suspect, what with * slavery being somewhat old hat, and other more traditional prejudices proving increasingly difficult to justify, that several twenty-first-century targeted groups have already been earmarked for 'promotion,' far more a demotion really.

These maybe?
The media, no more so than the Satanic Mr Dacre, has decreed that it should be the turn of the public sector, that it is now, and in due course, their fault that the UK is underperforming. So 'we' shall slash and burn and decry their being. If racial intolerance is so hard to justify and to maintain, it will instead be the turn of the teachers and the 'minion's' of the NHS? Is it not, at least in part, their doing that the anti-nation has fallen, is still falling? 

So, encourage now the fallacy that everyone is, care of one's tabloid, an expert in the fine art of teaching. If not an expert then at least worthy of a regurgatitive (negative) opinion? At the very least, given open license to lambaste the profession? The latter option may not quite have fully and openly manifested itself in public, but privately is where it truly matters, nestled darkly within, where the media may have slowly charred the soul.

Balance that, if you can! 'Turn your talents to shiny teaching...' and almost instantly feel and observe the lustre losing its sheen! Instead, feel the tax-'hyper-aware' public resentment, as austerity bites! The eternal pay freeze that will again and again, and as if through alchemy, lubricate the economic recovery!

But, in the race to the bottom few if any are so ideally placed as the developers. 'Carters Cutting Corners Quicker!' Or quite conceivably 'Cwicker?' There you go Mr Carter, or whoever, that one's on me, your very own TV jingle in the making! Of course, it's not just Carters, every developer with an eye, or half an eye, to the 'investment' sector will need to wrestle with yet more ingenious means to reducing the sizes of those matchboxes. Does that toilet roll dispenser actually need to be inside the door? If the bedroom door opens outwards, does it matter if said room is barely bigger than the bed? Surely this cladding is cheaper, shhh! With all the 'right sorts' in The Commons we can surely ease these process a touch further?

Or simply these?
The landlords versus the tenants? Another case of the minority subjugating the majority! So those investment homes are racing to change the UK skyline. The BBC, I think, devotes far more time now to selling the concept than it does to questioning the state of Britain's housing market; it surely is now slowly devouring its own tail! 'Homes Under the Hammer,' but do be careful, deregulation's made them just that shade more fragile... and smaller... and meaner... and more expensive... and less safe!

I blame the Fire Brigade, for not reacting to those depleting regulations fast enough. And, has anyone yet reasoned that with fewer tower blocks to 'protect' we might get away with fewer fire fighting resources?

Whatever the minority- it's numerically more 'beneficial,' these days, to go with a majority- the aim is first to objectify, then it's likely free-wheeling... until we hit one of those damned potholes! Dacre's off and Murdoch's not long for this world, we must hope, but watch and listen to the news- who's being celebrated, who's being knighted for services unknown? Which group are they in? And, once we've identified the buggers, that's where the ironing needs to start... nice and hot, please!

So long, Mr Dacre, champion of the 'we worked hard and paid in all of our lives' generation, your work here is done!

* Of interest and some alarm, during a recent family dinner, the subject of slavery came up. Even here (family) one might have been forgiven for considering the slavery debate, actual slavery!, to have been won and thus closed... but no! Instead, it was argued that slavery had, at least at one time, been entirely acceptable, instead that the debate had been reframed(?) The guilty party has worked, occasionally, upon a building site, cash in hand! And we feign shock horror when our news channel informs us that modern-day slavery is on the rise!




Thursday, 3 May 2018

To Debate, or not to Debate?



What with the BBC's Cameronian capitulation one could easily become quite wary before considering entering into certain 'more sensitive' areas of the debate. But then one could also realistically conclude that this is much the idea behind the wholesale 'renovation' of the establishment (BBC).

If 'we' first shut down the debate 'we' might next start to 're-educate' the people as to exactly what it is that they should be wary of- Fake News! Beware!- and what it is that they should assume to be just and upstanding. Viva la revolucion!

I have always found it alarming that more concern was never, in the past, voiced over the ownership of the UK's media. Surely, I used to argue, if the newspapers are all owned by vested millionaires, are the wider public not being denied significant access to a more open and balanced interpretation of newsworthy events? The premise was either resignedly accepted as 'our lot,' or else it was obliquely evaded. The term 'Free Press,' never meant that it was free from subversion, I learned, merely that it was supposed to be free from government subversion, although the label is, I would continue to contest, entirely misleading... and this almost certainly by design.

Beefheat to Mothers
With the global shift towards greater reliance upon the Internet, it was surely only a matter of time before corporate powers dipped their grimy toes into the waters- now there is 'global good news' and there is 'global false news.' For every minor indiscretion that we may unearth regarding Cambridge Analytica we should, I would contest, assume that a far deeper one will remain, for the present, unearthed. Obviously by design.

I was recently reminded of just how severe and far-reaching the culling process within the BBC has actually been, this via a prepared short statement by Marcus Moore, an ex-BBC writer. Of course, we have all noticed the changes- they are hardly subtle- but perhaps it is still the British way, too often, to loudly gripe and then to 'put it down' as yet another aspect of modern life that is profoundly disappointing, before moving meekly onward with our respective lives.

We might in passing perhaps question the fall of programmes like BBC TV's 'Have I Got News,' or BBC Radio 4 (and Miles Jupp's) 'News Quiz.' Maybe we are just becoming more intolerant with age, we might obediently conclude. Miles Jupp, his is an ironic Tory allegiance, isn't it? I'm not entirely convinced.

Monet to Wiesner
The shackling though is far more wide-reaching than just political comedy. Is it not worrisome that some of our better, often quite serious, comedians seem also now to have been negatively affected? During one of Jupp's 'News Quizzes' I listened to yet another (BBC) take on the ongoing-and-questionable Labour-anti-Semitism story. Mark Steele was present, and I had wondered if he might not chip away at least at the edges of the 'presentation.' Instead he was uncharacteristically mute throughout! To his utmost credit he was entirely mute, as if in silent protest, throughout! Perhaps he was reflectively weighing up any potential hit to his political following against that to his financial future? If so is this not suggestive, we might well consider, of something quite McCarthyist in nature?

If we trouble to look more closely at these changes to the BBC we might better understand this shift. There might well be a fleetingly-aired public concern, as there was when Kuenssberg was shovelled in to the role of BBC Political Correspondent. The concern is reported and then 'we' move almost seamlessly onward- the issue to then be slowly usurped by other news, and the system yet again shifts!

McCarthy was far too direct! Upon reflection he would probably have much admired this more covert and less iron-fisted approach. Evolution?

The Guardian Newspaper has, in the past and far too often, been the solitary serious, almost-consistently dissenting voice amongst the UK's national press. The nation's brief flirtation with a second more questioning newspaper (The Independent) proved rather premature for a British Public who have far too long been basting in Murdoch's secreted juices.

Mitchell to Salinger
But The Guardian, even by it's own admission, and at its very best, was only ever intended to adopt a more Liberal outlook upon the news. It is almost as if the oft-repeated lie that the BBC "is a hotbed of subversive Trots" has finally gained that more covertly sought after 'acceptance,' dragging in also the last of the doubters.

Many of us who are old enough to remember the Guardian from its heyday as the Manchester Guardian, and then its initial years of promise as the wider-ranging Guardian, will have watched with some sadness as this 'respected' paper has increasingly shown the warning signs of a recently-adopted far more compliant role.

Sensitive to the political tides, it would appear that the Scott Trust is gently easing the Guardian Newspaper ever rightwards. There are certainly a number of journalists on board who are increasingly selectively refusing to look at all the evidence before publishing. The current ruse for their fire is anti-Semitism- presented as 'wide-ranging,' but actually not- and it is a thoroughly anti-democratic one at that! The previous ruse, that Labour's democratic mandate was the wrong type of 'democratic mandate' lies tattered and now discarded, so a new cudgel is required.

Waits to Turtles
So, and with regards to the issue of debating or not debating, are we no longer free to question the Israeli occupation? Is it somehow no longer the case that Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Are there suddenly, and almost as if by magic, no longer any anti-Zionist groups of concerned Israeli citizens who also wish to question their country's internationally-condemned illegal occupation of Palestinian lands?

For nearly forty years I have had the variable pleasure of moving amongst and conversing with many of a leftward-leaning persuasion. I have had the good fortune to have met many devoted souls, and a few less so, who have been quite passionate in their convictions as to what is just and what is not. In so far as I subscribe to such ideology, time spent with such people is often soul-food to me! I have hugged many, passionately disagreed with a few and been shouted at by even fewer! But I have never in my travels yet met anyone who would be stupid enough to openly question the widely documented and monumentally tragic fact of the holocaust!

Barrie to Chang
Even so I do not doubt that the hermetically 'safe' skin of social media will drag out some of the most unwholesome of comments. And I do wonder at the levels of 'righteous' anger that such solitude as this platform might seem to 'invite.' More concrete societal pressures can offer, at their best, remarkably sound safeguards against the most offensive thoughts- here such thoughts might pass darkly and fleetingly behind the eyes and then they are gone, to be usurped by the far politer expectations of societal acceptance. Whereas social media, rather conversely, may operate instead like the very worse kind of unquestioning springboard to those thoughts better left to more harmlessly fizzle out. Is it not then a remarkable testament to the evolution of the mind (most of them) that, even here, the worst of thoughts are invariably still so carefully guarded against?

Nevertheless it seems statistically most likely that there are indeed some highly worrisome comments 'out there,' one would only have to watch (news reports of) the acting out of some of our species unchecked frustrations to realise this. But I have watched and I have listened and I have yet to be convinced that any of those within the Labour ideological movement- either seen on TV, heard on radio, or met by myself- harbour genuine anti-Semitic beliefs. Perhaps, at the very worst, the occasional spontaneous words spoken in anger or frustration may very rarely have been less wisely selected?

Steely Dan to Sigur Ros
For those with a more rightward trajectory, however, I cannot say the same- experience and family has taught me that here often lies a more consolidated (sometimes) contempt for some of our fellow human beings. I would not in this posting wish to recollect the worst of these comments- again some of these may have been spoken in haste and may also invoke regretful hindsight- but the sad fact remains that these thoughts are so often returned to and repeated, or rephrased so as to disguise the otherwise-retained intent.

To return, oh so briefly, to the wonders of the Internet, the thing about social media, with regards to that capacity to upset and to shock, is ultimately that pseudo-anonymity that it offers. If Cambridge Analytica has taught us anything it is that data that has entered cyberspace is ripe for the exploitation of. So who best employs those cyberspace manipulators, and quite how unscrupulous are they prepared to be? In defence of an empire, how low, we may consider, are they prepared to go?

Neither do I doubt the capacity that the 'cleverest' of our spokespeople has for deception. Deception at its most cunning, and by is very nature, is much as described, that is 'deceptive.' So, where to apportion intent is not always the easiest, but I will, in an arc of shaky approximation, point the finger and know, with some certainty, that I will have caught at least some of the culprits in the cross fire...

Woodpeckers to Sunbirds
Firstly, I will return to the questionably honourable John Mann's ambush of Ken Livingstone, way back in 2016. There is still much mendaciously edited or presented footage out there, yet even here Mr Mann does not present as the most gifted of communicators. Under less orchestrated news coverage his shouting might more truthfully be glossed over, as the ravings of another angry tabloid bachelor. But this, along with any semblance of newsworthiness that might still linger, no longer matters, the (lack of) debate is no longer of any consequence, the 'argument' has effectively and subtly been reframed. The media and their respective and highly-selective 'reporters' are there- "Cameras, action!" Perhaps, instead we might imagine the call for, "Screen!" lest the public should spot the slight of hand.

If we can bare to watch the footage (LBC or BBC) we might first see something vaguely resembling a droid shouting and pointing. At this juncture there is no debate, because 'this' is clearly neither the time nor the place in which to do so. Mann, being rather less than the ideal Mann for the job, still manages to present much as a parody of his worse-kind-of self. Whereas Ken Livingstone- with considerable dignity under these circumstances- is given little option other than to bide his time and then to later debate the historical facts with, amongst others, Andrew Neal, Michael Crick and David Mellor. We might fleetingly wonder at such a narrow cross-section of political persuasion. Or perhaps not? We are by now racing simply to catch up! 

If we can bare to listen to the interviews we will hear Crick conceding that, "You may well be (historically) correct," David Mellor reiterating that, "I know that you are not an anti-Semite, Ken" and Andrew Neal, as is his given role, steadfastly misinterpreting Mr Livingstone's intent on behalf of any still neutral observers. "What are you on?" we can hear Mr Mann reverting to personal insult, in a brief and dangerous (for him) deviation from the shouting out from his felt tipped prompt cards.

Mothers to Who
We know with some certainty that Ken Livingstone is not an anti-Semite, and yet this debacle, we are encouraged to agree, might still be enough for us to somehow pretend that he is. The debate has effectively been reframed, and such peripheral things as honesty and integrity no longer seem to matter.

Secondly, we should look more closely at Ruth Smeeth MP, and the manner in which she is seeking to undermine 'her own' Labour Party. During the launch of Labour's Anti-Semitism Report, also back in 2016, it would be fair to observe that she had come prepared. Her contact from the Daily Telegraph had already handed to her the infamous 'prepared press report.'

She was surrounded by, amongst other anti-Corbyn types, John Piennar (BBC News), Kevin Schofield (Sun), Darren Mc Caffrey (Sky News) and Kate McCann (Daily Telegraph). To even imply that her early exit is not a staged one would be disingenuous in the extreme! Owen Smith, presumably no longer also employed by US giant Pfizer, was also there to prematurely celebrate Smeeth's 'staged exit  right.' Smith is now little more than a vessel, in the guise of maybe a pantomimish Bond villain?

So concentrated upon Smeeth's feigned indignity are the various sound crews that we can barely hear the condemned words of Marc Wadsworth. "How very dare you!" we instead hear of Smeeth and the chorus. But, if we turn up the sound after the rumpus, we may still safely conclude that Marc Wadsworth's words are far from anti-Semitic. Curious, is it not, that the media's supposed 'coverage' of 'Labour's Anti-Semitism Report' is so geared up for Smeeth's exit that they have almost completely failed to capture the words of the launch's speakers? One could almost conclude that it might be better (for the media) if the words are not to be too closely analysed.

Beefheart to Aeolian Harps
I wonder if Ruth Smeeth's declared expenses mentions anything about the Daily Telegraph? I really wouldn't know, I haven't bothered to check. Presumably Jewish groups who recognise this as a staged witch hunt are now the wrong kind of Jewish groups, spouting 'fake news?' "Weaponised,' is a term currently very much in vogue, and it would appear that we are currently spoilt for choice. Quite from where to best draw our 'perfect' illustration as to its usage?

The UK's media have thus reframed the wider debate, hoping, no doubt, that Jeremy Corbyn and his more democratically-minded MPs will be spending significant time fighting ghosts rather than addressing the issues that the media are so afraid of. So very, very clever... and so very typically unscrupulous!

I doubt that the circus will have manufactured enough to have yet expelled the anti-Christ, so what next can we expect?