Wednesday 28 February 2007

Can you reconcile Tradition with Democracy?

Just a little poser for you.
Tradition. Something people have done for generations, right?
The fact that something has done for generations is often held up as an argument in favour of something.
More. It is almost a taboo, sometimes.
In fact that is precisely what a taboo IS, a deeply revered tradition.
If we have five hundred people doing something that has been done for a thousand years, we respect it. If we have five hundred people doing something that started in the sixties, they'll probably be arrested.

A few weeks ago, partly in Irony, I started declaiming at a friends after we'd been out about the attempts of the government to destry 'Our traditional way of life'.
My friend asked me what I meant.
I said 'Our ancient hedonistic tradition of going clubbing, meeting people, inviting them back for a party and listening to Music'
He pointed it was hardly a tradition. I pointed out that that the three of us had been doing it half our lives. My other friend clocked the point. It was tradition- within the context of our own culture. I pointed out that more people probably spent their lives as we did than were members of the Orange Order, yet which lifestyle is revered and traditional.

My point. In a Democracy, the dead don't vote.
It doesn't matter how many people did something once. What they thought about something doesn't matter now.
If you were to ask every white person who had ever lived what they thought about Apartheid, it would be around still.
Sure, the fact that has been done a long time may be evidence that it works. It can provide very good empirical evidence that an idea is sound. But it is not in itself always an argument.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with tradition, just that it's an irrelevant argument democratically.

What was right for your grandad might not be right for you.
He didn't blog for a start.

Don't mention the Scottish play

On May 3rd the Electors of Scotland will elect the third Scottish Parliament.
What no one seems to want to talk about is how the result of that is going to impact upon the rest of the UK.

Crushed by Ingsoc intends to publish a more accutate breakdown of what we think will happen closer to the day, but for now, we are going to just have a prelimary look at the implications.

Currently Scotland is governed by a Labour/Lib Dem coalition.
Labour have 50 seats, the Lib Dems 17, out of 129 seats.
The logic of the coalition is simple, Labour need a partner with 15 seats or more and the Lib Dems are the easiest to work with.
For The Lib Dems, they want to be in government.
But if the two of them lose three seats or more between the, this coalition as it stands, is no lomger an option.

Now my analysis suggests that due to Labour monopoly on central belt seats, Labour may hold up better than the polls suggest. I will explain the dynamics of this closer to the time, with a breakdown of Scotland's battleground seats and an analsis of the Regional vote.
With Dennis Canavan gone, I suspect Labour might be only five or six seats down. Conversely, I think the LDs may pick up an extra regional seat or two. But Labour 45, LD 19 is one seat too few. The only option to retain the coalition is to bring in the Greens, who should at least hold the seven seats they have, plus I suspect they may rise to nine.

But will the LDs or the Greens want to sign up again to a party that the electorate have shown unhappiness with?
That was put Jeremy Thorpe off backing Heath in February 1974, if you recall.
There is another option. If the SNP rise to 37 or so- which, they may well do as the warring fragments of the SSP fight eachother, then 37+19+9=65. The Magic number.
Good God. The bogeyman no one wanted to consider. But what deal would make such a coalition work?
There is one.
The SNP want an independent Scotland. The LDs don't. The SNP want a referendum at a time when they can win, the LDs would accept win, if they thought it would be a No.
The SNP would love a referendum AFTER a Cameron victory in the South, the LDs would love one after a Tory?LD coalition is formed in the South.
So the deal may be, Referendum 2010, with both parties gambling on the outcome.

Now these are the wider issues which no one on the politics show seems to have spotted.
Blair won't be gone before May.
With the SNP in government in Scotland, how could an MP with a Scottish seat credibly become PM south of the border?
The English electorate- and more to the point, the English Labour party would have grave misgivings.
Problem is, no one else wants the poisoned chalice of being the PM who leads Labour to certain defeat, not in this era where one shot is all Political parties seem to get. Why do you think everyone wants to be deputy leader?
So that after cetain defeat, they are best placed to become leader in a new, Blairism free, realignment of the left.
But if Brown still becomes leader, it will hurt Labour at the 2009/10 Westminster election worse than now seems apparent. It will be a Catch 22 for leading Labour figures.
The only politician daft enough and with nothing to lose by volunteering is probably the loathsome member for Norwich South.

The other point is the distinct lack of pro -Union noises recently from the Tories. Again, the reason is mathematical. If Cameron is a few seats short of a majority and needs the LDs with him, he will be only too happy for a Yes vote in an Independence referendum.
Then he can call a fresh election going in to it with a notional majority, even on no change from the 2009/10 election. If Cameron is 26 seats short in 2009/10, say, the removal of Scotland gives him a notional majority of 31 before the elecorate even go to vote again.

Keep looking north. I'm not saying all this will come to pass, only it might.

Tuesday 27 February 2007

Making people keep connected

Ok, this isn't going to be political or philosophical, it's going to be quite mundane.
It's going to be about your voicemail.
Why, you say?
That's pretty boring.

Well, if that's what you think, don't read any more, but the fact that you think that means you are missing out on something quite important.

If someone rings your phone- I don't bother with a landline- there's a good chance they'll get voicemail.
In my case, if I'm at work, you'll probably go through to voicemail.
If the phone's recharging, I'm probably in another room, you'll get voicemail.
If I'm out on Friday night on the danceflooe, Hell, you're going to voicemail.
If I'm watching CSI, gone to the loo or you're a witheld number, voicemail.

Simce the caller could be anyone, your voicemail has to be respectable, professional and welcoming.
And more.

In my case, the majority of people who call are either friends or people I have met socially.
I give my number out to many people I meet on my weekends. These people have met me socially, when I'm on party mode and they too are in party mode.
When they call Monday night and they get voicemail, what do they think.
At this point, whether or not they leave a voicemail may well decide whether that acquintance turns to a lasting connection or you lose it for good.
They may never call again.
That's a party you don't get invited to, or a woman you never romance.

Me and my best mate have a running joke. For the purposes of this blog I'm calling him The Baker. When I leave a message on his phone, I say, abruptly 'Left a message.'
When he leaves one for me, He says 'Hi, Crushed by Ingsoc (well no, he does use my real name), I'm taking care.'
The reason for the joke is eachother's message. The Baker's is simply 'Hi, you've reached the Baker. Leave a message.'
Mine is (typically Sales and Marketing) Hi, you have reached Crushed by Ingsoc, I can't take you call right now, so please do leave a message and I will get back to you at the earliest available opportunity. You take care now.'
Cheesy, sure.
But I never have missed calls that don't leave messages.
And think about it, how often do you leave messages on a phone with an unfriendly message?
If your message basically says 'Not answering. Leave a message if you want', would you?
If you'd only met that person at a party?
I don't.
But if the message says, 'Wish I could have taken your call, please do leave a message, I want to talk to you.', then don't you?
I do.

Don't waste your connections to people. People are valuable, they're what life is about.
I'd be lost without my voicemail.
Think about what your voicemail says.
And think, is it the best YOU that you can show to someone who is tentatively making steps to add you to their list of friends.

Crushed by Ingsoc means this from the heart.
Love you all.

Monday 26 February 2007

Marsupial People

OK. It was only a matter of time before this topic arose.
It's one of those annoying points I raise at the tail end of parties when everyone is in cloud cuckoo land and most people don't quite get it.
It's about Marsupials.

Marsupials are Mammals, but not Placental ones. They live in Australia and South America. Nowhere else.
They did once, but we Placentals have driven them into retreat over the Cenozoic Era.

One of the main differnces between Placentals and Marsupials is that almost all Marsupials carry their young in a pouch.

Kangaroos, Koala Bears, Opossums, etc.

Now here's the good bit.
After Marsupials had been swept away from the rest of the world, they carried on in Aus and South America, which was then an island.

And Marsupials have evolved in parallel to fill many niches their placental cousins filled.
For example, there are Marsuplial Mice who look exactly like normal mice, but with a pouch.
There is a Marsupial mole, which looks so like a normal mole that even an expert can only identify it as a Marsupial by checking for it's pouch.
There is a Marsupial cat (which isn't very catlike, but close enough).
Pointis, all these Marsupials are far closer related to eachother than their placental counterparts.
That's convergent evolution for you.
Even odder.
In 1935 the Marsupial Wolf went extince. Ansd that did look like a wolf.
In the fossil record we find a Mersupial Lion and a Marsupial Sabre Tooth tiger.

Is there no limit to this Marsupial Mimicry?

Yes, there is.
An obvious one.
And this is my point.

Had the flora in Australia in the Paleocene or early Eocene been right, could Marsupial lemurs have evolved?
Followed in succession by Marsupial Monkeys, Marsupial Apes, and then...
Crushed By Ingsoc doesn't watch Rugby. To us, it's a pointless game with a daft scoring system and strange rules.
Football, normal style, will always be the beautiful game.

Yet it has not escaped this site that there was a Rugby match this weekend betwen Ireland and England.

We noticed because it was at Croke park.

Now, we have to say, our loyalties are somwhat split here, born here, live here, heart Irish.
I'm not going to harp on about reconciliation or any such rubbish.
I would say the wise forgive but don't forget.

But first, before I get all weepy, I'm going to look at the facts.
I have a biography of the big fella (Collins, to the English) by Tim Pat Coogan, whom I'm sure all good Republicans amongst you will recognise, is a fine and impartial historian of the Republican cause.

p161 'Meanwhile the Auxillaries and Tans made arrangements to surround Croke Park while the match was in progress, ostensibly to search the crowd for known Sinn Feiners. Later it was claimed in their defence that IRA men in the crowd fired first. But it is not denied that the security forces opened up on both the crowd and the playing field with rifles and machine guns causing bloodshed and panic. Fourteen people died and hundreds were injured, none of them Tans or Auxillaries. The stand in which each year the Sam Maguire cup is presented is named after one of the dead, Hogan, the Tipperary player who was shot on the field.'

I think those terse lines say it all really. To be sure, it's not as clear cut as the Liam Neeson film has it, but the cold facts, without emotion, as showed above are clear. This was a Hillsborough type disaster caused by trigger happy thugs, rather than a deliberate murder spree, but isn't the truth bad enough.

I love the Liam Neeson film, because mostly it is true, same as with 'The Wind that shakes the Barley', but sometimes poetic license can denigrate the real truth.
Because the real truths about British rule in Ireland are bad enough.
They don't need adding to.
And it didn't end in 1922.
Forgive, of course. Forget? Never.

Sunday 25 February 2007

And this concerns me...How?

Crushed by Ingsoc has developed a canny knack of filtering out uninteresting news. By that we mean anything that relates to unpleasant crimes, accidents or celebrities.
Especially the latter.
Stephen Hawking- Famous for a reason.
Jade Goody- More Famous for absolutely no good reason.
It makes us annoyed.
Or it would do, but we have developed a knowledge filter which can go through life ignoring non-entity news- most of the time.

Here's a case in point. Two weeks I was standing in the bar of my pub forlornly attempting to seduce the barmaid (still work in progress), when the news caught my eye. I discovered for the first time who Kate Middleton was and that she might become engaged to Prince William.
Fact is, she's been in The Telegraph on several occasions. How could I not have known who she was, you ask.
Firstly, I hardly watch TV.
Secondly, I had seen the headlines about intrusion of Kate Middleton's privacy and merely presumed she was some celebrity being hounded by the Media because of some Cocaine revelations or something (possibly getting confused with the lovely Ms Moss).
I knew without looking that either way, it was something I wouldn't care about.
And now I know who she is, I still don't really care. I was right to skip that article and go to the political news.

Why I point this out is because Britney Spears has been hogging very blogspot and news stand for the last week because, for some reason I can't quite fathom, she's shaved her head.
And I don't really want to fathom it out.
It's not news, it's just to hide the real news.

The shrill piping of the telescreen...

Saturday 24 February 2007

Joining the dots that aren't there

Crushed by Ingsoc can have a suspicious frame of mind somtimes.
We remember the nineteen eighties and how they did tell us a few porkie pies about the Russians back then.
Do you remember that Lesley Nielson film where he breaks into a meeting where all the world's terorists are seated rouna table together- or the bad guys of the world as we were supposed to see at then? (Gaddafi, Arafat, etc)
Well, we were actually spun this crap then. We were spun this idea that all 'terrorist' groups were backed by the Russians and that there was this vast Terror network funded by the soviet Union through Gaddafi and Linking the Provisional IRA, the ANC, the PLO, the Sandinistas and pretty much anybody our governments didn't like.
So questions about why we in Britain are supporting Fascist regimes in South africa and appalling policies by the Israelis, as well as preventing the justifiable right of the irish to self determination can simply be answered- 'Ah, but you can't give in to terror- you will destry our Western way of life.'
Sound familar?
What Crushed by Ingsoc sees as a few facts in the present world which happen to have one thing in common, but probably just that.

1. A strange little man with a crazy beard living in a cave in Afghanistan, acheived a remarkable propaganda coup for his small band of extremists by flying planes into the twin towers. Horrific, Incredible, but no evidence of a huge teror network.
after all they've managed to bugger all since, this allegedly all-pervasive axis of evil.

2. A Dictator originally backed by the west due to the SECULAR thrust of his policies, who had now fallen out with the west and was sitting on much of the world's oil happened to rule over a muslim country.
Oh- and we'd execute him for killing people in a war the west gave him the guns to fight.

3.Of all immigrant groups in the west, many of the poorest happen to be muslim, (Pakistanis, Bengalis, Algerians, Somalis). Hindus and Sikhs tend to be far wealthier because they bought oodles of wea;th from East africa and places. Therefore, just as we find disaffected poverty stricken white youths turn to nasty extremist groups like the BNP, young Muslims do the same in their own communities. These groups are undoubtedly unpleasant. They are not connected to al queda.

4. Veils.

Oh, look it's a global Muslim conspiracy- an axis of evil- what next, well Iran must be part of too!
And Cuba. (Voice of common sense points out that's one spin too far as even the average dumbed down American or Brit knows the Cubans aren't Muslim. Bush and Blair quietly drop that one.)

It's scaremongering. It's creating public fear to give the governments of the west an excuse for creating the police state they are creating now.
It's whipping up the same sort of sentiments the Nazis whipped up against the Jews, or the Elizabethans whipped up against Catholics.
It's nasty cynical manipulation of different groups against eachother to serve political ends.
But that's how INGSOC works.

A decade of this shower

Crushed by Ingsoc is perturbed to reflect that we well soon have had ten years of this sorry excuse of a government which partly inspires the name we live under here.
Partly I think where the hell has it all gone?
Ten years!
Crushed by Ingsoc was a young idealist then.
I can remember when the ten percent swing came up at Sunderland South. 'That's got to be a freak result.' said the all confident Crushed by Ingsoc.
Was I up for Portillo?
Was I stoned by that time?
Enfield Southgate? Hove? Hastings and Rye?
It was a new world we woke up to the following day.
And it hasn't turned out to be a very nice one. Spin, surveillance, sleaze, that's what you've given us Tony. Touchy feely froth to lull us to sleep while you turn us in to grateful wage slaves bowing to the corporate totems.
So you signed us up to the Social chapter? Whohooo! That's really made the lives of working people better.
Minimum wage? Paper boys were paid that anyway.
Oh- Constitutional reform.
Yes Tony, but ten years on, you still don't know what you're doing with the Lords and Scotland's probably about to leave us completely.
That all panned out well didn't it?
ID cards, National DNA database, Regional Police forces- a relentless march towards Big Brother watching.
And I'm not even mentioning the 'I' word.
Tony, forget your legacy, you ain't got one- not one you want us to remember.