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Remembrance

 

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen, 1917

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Saving, not drowning

Why do people get fired? Yes, I know that in many areas legislation seems to protect anyone from getting fired at all these days and that, say, fiddling your expenses might get you fired in your job but not if you were an MP, but I can’t think of anywhere where there isn’t something you can do that will get you instantly fired on the spot even if it’s hacking your bosses’ heads off and serving them up in the staff canteen.

So accepting that people do still get fired why, in general, does it happen? I’m sure we could come up with a million different reasons why someone would get the Spanish Archer, but we’d probably all agree that almost all of them boil down to some variant of not doing the job for which that individual was hired. I say ‘almost’ there because it turns out it’s also possible to get the sack for what most normal people, but not lawyers, would consider doing exactly the job you were hired to do, as a bloke in Florida found out this week when he was fired from his job as a lifesaver for the gross misconduct of, er, doing some lifesaving.

Liability issues? What the hell are they on about? The only thing I can think of is that because Thomas Lopez left the area of beach and water he was responsible for to rescue someone outside it the company paid by the city to provide lifesavers on the beach might theoretically have been sued if someone else got into difficulties in Lopez’ bit of beach. The signs are there for a reason and I guess that reason is reflecting the reality that help can’t be everywhere at once, and beyond a certain point you can’t necessarily expect there to be any – in this area we will try to help, but beyond it assume that you’ll be on your own. Well, fair enough, but there’s a huge difference between not expecting that there’ll necessarily be help and expecting that perfectly capable help will be instructed to sit on its arse. If I go off camping in the bush to get away from it all for a bit I don’t expect the full range of emergency services to be available, but I’d like to think that if we don’t come back everyone wouldn’t just go “Oh, they went outside our usual area so meh, we’re not even going to go have a look just in case something happens here.” Yet that seems to be roughly the policy at Hallandale beach.

We’re fucked, aren’t we? Seriously, properly, fucked. Western society’s doom is not going to come from outside but from within: a self inflicted death of a thousand3 cuts that come about when nobody has any idea what they’re allowed to do anymore and end up standing there and doing nothing at all, terrified of unwittingly committing some ridiculous but all too real offence or being sued into penury by some tediously thin skinned prick who can’t deal with the fact that the universe isn’t there to give him a blow job every day and that it’s not necessarily someone’s fault when things don’t go his way. This, folks, is our future if we insist on hiring people to save lives but tell them that under no circumstances must they save lives that are in danger in a slightly different place from where they’re on duty, and that in such circumstances they must stand there as those lives are lost to the water. Because ‘liability’.

Did I say the future? Oh, shit.*

I understand that there’s an obligation to provide lifeguard cover on the section of beach marked as having lifeguards, and that if someone drowned because a lifeguard should have been there but wasn’t then calls from the nearest ambulance chasing law firm are practically certain, but as Lopez’ colleagues point out in other videos (e.g. this one) the beach was still covered.

While he was off we had two other guards watching the zones, so the beach was secured.

No doubt some corporate bellend seeking to justify the sackings and hand wave the resignations would say what if those two guys had to do rescues in their own areas or failed to spot someone else in trouble because they were having to mind an extra part of the beach. I can kind of see this but surely you need to consider how likely is the hypothetical situation where every lifeguard is suddenly going to be needed simultaneously at the a time when one of them has left the patrolled area to save someone who’s really in trouble, and in that highly unlikely scenario how is it any different from having x lifeguards employed and x+1 people screaming for help in the patrolled area? If the signs reflect the fact that assistance can’t be everywhere then we have to acknowledge the tiny possibility that it really can’t even be guaranteed to be everywhere in the area that is intended to be covered.

Unfortunately corporate bellends and uber-litigiious types desperate to find blame when life hands out lemons and death hands out calling cards often don’t see things that way, being almost congenitally unable to look beyond the potential for lawsuits and not sufficiently discouraged by courts from doing so. Happily for that one person who got into trouble in the water, Thomas Lopez and his colleagues who resigned or were also sacked have no truck with this nonsense. The courage of lifeguards is to be admired anyway, but the principled stand these half dozen or so have taken is to be admired even more. Doubly so for Thomas Lopez if he even stopped to think about the rules and decided that the rules could go piss, though it seems quite possible that he thought of nothing beyond helping the drowning man stop drowning. Which is what you’d imagine is the key quality you’d be looking for if you were hiring lifeguards.

May they or people very much like them find jobs on beaches where you and your loved ones go. The kind of lifeguard who really would sit on his platform and watch while someone who didn’t fit the to-be-saved criteria drowned should be hired exclusively to patrol beaches frequented by the type of shitwit who’d fire the other kind for rescuing someone beyond the flags.

* I realise I may be being a little unfair there, as I recall that in the infamous ‘PCSOs stood by as someone drowned because of elfinsafetee rules’ story they’d arrived after the victim had gone under, couldn’t be certain where the victim had ended up, and genuinely weren’t equipped or trained to do much more than call for help from people who actually knew what they were doing – since that’s much what a random passerby would have been capable of it’s perhaps more a failure of the concept of PCSOs than the individual PCSOs in that case. On the other hand I did see a few weeks back that a couple of PCSOs went into cold water to save a drowning man, and in the article their superiors were smart enough to avoid any suggestion that this was somehow not the done thing.

The pussification of schools #6

Cracked! missed one on their recent list of the 5 Biggest Pussifications of Schools, and while it’s probably not unique to this place the recent example comes from a school just south of Melbourne.

No touching.

Parents claim they were not told directly of the new rule, which extended a ban on contact sports …

Yes, they’d already gone that far, and that depressingly common policy is touched on in Cracked’s number four Biggest Pussification.

… to a ban on any physical contact at all, such as playing “tiggy”, hugging or giving each other high-fives.

Aside from the fact that this comes hot on the heels of a anti-bullying TV ad campaign that shows school kids shaking hands (for some bizarre reason it’s a weird handshake that’s not shown directly because it’s ‘just for kids’, but what can be seen looks less Masonic and more like the kind of gang style handshake done by wiggas) it’s pretty clear that this lame brained rule hasn’t been well thought out at all. Because it effectively bans simple expressions of friendship and support.

One parent, Tracey, said her son was winded on the playground yesterday and, when his friend tried to console him by putting his arm around his shoulder, the friend was told his actions were against the rules.

The friend then had to walk around with the teacher on playground duty for the rest of lunch as punishment, Tracey told radio 3AW.

And that’s not even the right-on silliness apex.

Another parent, John, said his children were told they could not high-five each other.

Seriously? Christ!

“I have a couple of children, and they have been told that if they high-five one another that’s instant detention, and if they do it three times they will be expelled,” John said.

“I mean, what are they actually trying to teach?”

One child was reportedly told that if students wanted to high-five, it would have to be an “air high-five”.

Yes, well, the problem there is that I suspect an air high five is not actually a real thing but some bollocks made up by someone on the school’s staff who’s heard of air kissing. What an ‘air high five’ really is is known as being left hanging.

Now it should be said that the school claims that this is only temporary…

Principal Judy Beckworth said it was “not actually a policy, it’s a practice that we’ve adopted in the short-term as a no-contact games week”.

… though having a no-contact games week doesn’t actually sound a hell of a lot more sensible to me, and especially not in a country that invented a football code so manly and tough that rugby players struggle and a competitor once found himself, and I’m not making this up, nailed to the pitch with his own leg bones. No contact games week? Pffffffft. Serious pussification of school right there.

“In response to an increased number of recent student injuries, including a broken collarbone, wrists and concussion, we decided to have a ‘no contact games week’ at our school,” Ms Beckworth said.

“Parents, teachers and I were concerned about the increasing number of students injuring themselves recently by playing roughly in the playground during games like chasey, tiggy, football and basketball.

“We are very serious about student safety and that’s why we decided to do this.”

And? Such is school life, though I spent years playing school rugby without ever knowing anyone to break a bone or get a concussion or in fact get anything worse than the odd bruise or cut. And I don’t mean anyone in my class or year, I mean anyone in the entire school while I was there. Maybe there was and I didn’t know that the kid two years below me that I didn’t even know by name was suddenly wearing a cast because of an unlucky tackle on the rugby field, but if so there was no mention made, no big hooha and no non-contact games rule even thought of, let alone imposed. I can’t help but wonder if the apparent rarity of injuries was just that we were getting better tuition and supervision on how to play contact sports without seriously risking ourselves or other players, and I also wonder if a high number of injuries – if it really is high – at Mount Martha Primary indicates that that’s not happening.

Not that everyone’s on message with that excuse anyway.

… one parent, Nicole, claimed that the school was backpedalling because some parents were told by the school that the new rule would be in place for a minimum of three weeks, which would be extended if the children did not behave themselves.

They’re kids, for heaven’s sake. It’s practically inevitable that one of them will forget or have a dummy spit and go too far and provide the excuse for the extension. In fact if you’re counting high fives, hand shakes and hugs then they probably already have.

[Ms Beckworth] did not believe the school’s response was an overreaction.

“When you have students badly injuring themselves, it would be unacceptable for me not to take action,” she said.

Oh, Jesus. Look, it’d be unacceptable for you to ignore it, but an event does not necessarily demand action. By all means recheck to assure yourselves that you’re already doing your best and take action if you realise that you’re not, but for Christ’s sake include a sanity check to make sure you’re not going too far. If kids are getting bollocked for putting their arms around a friend’s shoulders to comfort them then I’d suggest that second bit is being overlooked.

The only bits about this whole story that hasn’t gutshot my faith in humanity and set my misanthropy gauge spinning into self destruction again are the newspaper poll result that overwhelmingly showed that people thought the school had gone too far, and the admirable reaction of the children themselves.

The Year 6 students at Mount Martha Primary School were so disgusted by the new rule that they staged a sit-down protest on the school oval at lunch yesterday before they were moved to the school gym and given a dressing down…

I only hope that that spark of dissent in the face of unreasonable restrictions isn’t completely crushed out of them by the time they’re adults.

I’m Spartacus

Or Archbishop Cranmer.

If either of my readers (hi Mum) have followed much of my comments discussion with James at his post over at the Orphanage or taken note of my post here the other day they’ll know that I don’t agree with the sentiment expressed in that picture. For all I know the statement is accurate and 70% might indeed want to keep marriage as it is, and if so I don’t care. I do not agree with that 70% or that a simple majority should decide on matters of liberty – if the same 70% wanted to bring back slavery I’d very much hope they would not get their way.

My position on this is simple and is based firstly on free speech and thought (which necessarily includes religious belief), and secondly on property rights. The former means I don’t get to tell you what to think, you don’t get to tell me what to think. I get to say what I think and you don’t have to agree, and vice versa. The latter means you get to set rules on your property, I get to set them on mine, and if either of us have a real problem with a particular rule of the other’s then we stay off.

Thus I do not agree with His Grace’s (or James’) position with regard to gay marriage except that it absolutely should not take place in churches or anywhere else belonging to people and organisations that do not want to recognise it, and that those who feel that it’s not really marriage should be free to say so openly and in public. They shouldn’t get to decide for the rest of us, even if as many as, or even more than, 70% of people agree, but for damned sure those of us who don’t object to gay marriage don’t get to dictate what they can do on their property or to demand that they be prevented from airing their views.

In the words (supposedly) of Voltaire, I disagree with what they both say but I defend their right to say it, and I wish Archbishop Cranmer success in his battle with the ASA (do go read if only for a sensational gag early on in his reply to the Authority which I hope is already giving conniptions to some Thought Constable). And since His Grace has made it clear that he’s much too polite to be so direct in replying to the ASA I’m putting up a picture with which I disagree just so I can tell the ASA to go fuck themselves sideways with a billboard if they contact me and complain.

Lest we forget

ANZAC Day has come around again, and in case either of my readers (hi Mum) have forgotten this blog marks it every year. It’s not that it’s a public holiday and I can have a lie in and a break from work, but because I have huge respect for the people whose sacrifices over a century ago led to April 25th being set aside for their recognition. As I’ve said more than once, Australians seem to get this in a way we Brits do not – one does not have to approve of this or that war to honour those who were sent to fight it and who gave time and blood doing so. And, as Banjo Paterson told us, Brits have also been among those who died for Australia.

Australia takes her pen in hand,
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand,
How proud we are of you.

From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobsons Bay,
Each native-born Australian son,
Stands straighter up today.

The man who used to “hump his drum”,
On far-out Queensland runs,
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer’s sons.

The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.

The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh’s sow,
We’re not State children any more
We’re all Australians now!

Our six-starred flag that used to fly,
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,

Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict’ry at the prow;
For that’s the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!

The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.

The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill,
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.

With all our petty quarrels done,
Dissensions overthrown,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.

Our old world diff’rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They’re all Australians now!

So now we’ll toast the Third Brigade,
That led Australia’s van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.

Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.

And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle bough,
To symbolise our unity,
We’re all Australians now.

A tale of two, no, make that three Aussies

First, via an Ambushy Predatory tweet, the case of Geoff Stephens, a UK based Australian whose feelings were hurt by colleagues making Australian jokes, as I blogged in passing last year.

An Australian community warden called Geoff Stephens suing his council employer because people keep saying things like “G’day, sport” to him and making kangaroo jokes.

Look, folks, this must stop. It is wholly inappropriate to call Mr Stephens “sport”. The correct term is “yer big sooky la-la” and must be used from now on.

Well, it seems that Geoff – be careful not to call him Geoff-o or anything else that might sound a bit Australian in case the poor guy can’t take it – must have lost because he’s now in the news again. Yes (said with a sense of depressing inevitability), he’s taking his case to Europe.

An Australian community warden who claimed he was racially abused by colleagues who constantly greeted him with ‘G’day Sport’ is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Geoff Stephens, who has been in the UK for 27 years after coming over from Australia when he was 22 years old, claimed he suffered a barrage of abuse from co-workers for being Australian.

Anyone interested in how many times I’ve been called a pom? Anyone? No? Funny that, and maybe it’s because nobody, least of all me, thinks it’s that big a deal. With Western society having become so litigation prone I’d obviously be lying if I said it had never occurred to me to try to sue anyone over it, but I would be lying if I said it really bothered me and doubt I could do so with a straight face.

He claimed that the ‘racism’ and bullying’ he suffered at work ‘would eventually have killed him’ and that he constantly asked colleagues to stop making jokes about him being an Aussie.

Racism? Geoff, you idiot, Australian – except when referring to indigenous Australians – is no more a race than Islam is. I’d like to think that this is a subtle move to destroy the ability to play the race card by rendering it a bad joke with members of non-existent races making ludicrous claims about racism by people who look exactly like them, but sadly I suspect it’s just silliness.

He said that fellow wardens constantly greeted him with ‘G’day Sport’, ‘Is your girlfriend called Sheila?’ and made jokes about kangaroos and asked him to ‘Throw another shrimp on the barbie’.

Which is almost as lame as some of the attempts to mimic an English accent while I’m around. You know when David Cameron tried to do Julia Gillard?* Like that but even worse. My response has not been to run off crying for compo but to try to teach them how to do it properly using references to appropriate study material. This usually means films with Michael Caine in, and so if you happen to ever meet an Australian who, upon realising that you’re English, shouts “Dan’t throh those bladdy spears at me” you’ll know whose fault it is and how successful I haven’t been.

He said: ‘I’m totally disappointed with the tribunal outcome but am really hopeful about Europe.

‘The last few months have been a nightmare and my whole life has been turned upside down.

That’s because you’re from Austr… oh, forget it.

‘I have transcripts which prove they listened to my private conversations, including one with my doctor to see if I was telling the truth about my health.

‘I thought ‘Strewth’, and couldn’t believe it when I realised.

“Strewth”? Geoff, did you seriously just say that word? Come on, after spending more than half your life in Britain you must realise that that panders to every stereotype Brits hold about Australians. I think you should sue yourself for every penny you’ve got. I also think that you should, as they say here occasionally, harden the fuck up.

Something similar could be said about the unnamed police officer in this case from Plymouth (I think also via JuliaM).

A man abused a police officer from Australia saying: ‘We speak English in this country’.

Oh, that Wilde-ian West Country wit. The poor Aussie copper must have been mentally devastated, coming as he does from a country where everyone speaks, er, English as well.

Eoin McCarthy, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said police were called to a report of an incident in Wyndham Street East in Stonehouse.

He added officers questioned a group of men and wanted to search Morrison.

Mr McCarthy said: “The defendant was not particularly impressed by that, saying: ‘We speak English in this country’.

“The officer took offence in view of his nationality, which is Australian.”

The court heard Morrison continued to abuse the officer, despite being warned to stop.

Now it’s not said what the form of the continued abuse was and for all I know there was something arrestable at some stage (he ended up in court, after all), but it’s that penultimate line that got me. He took offence in view of his nationality. Aw, bless, although how this delicate soul was considered the right material for a job where being called a pig is an occupational hazard when he’s clearly so thin skinned that a pathetic gibe at his country of birth stung so much is quite beyond me. I’d have suggested a less confrontational line of work, such as a librarian. Yes, people could still take the piss but at least they’d have to do it in a whisper. On the other hand, if the officer wants to carry on with his chosen career I suggest he ponder the words of his fellow Aussie, Steve Hughes.

Finally, we have an example of an increasing trend that’s even more annoying than taking offence over trivialities – taking offence on behalf of a third party over trivialities that aren’t even aimed at you. In this instance the offended-on-behalf-of mob included half the media, and they really did make the whole thing look particularly ludicrous because far from being of a delicate flower like disposition the person at whom the comments were aimed is a serious contender for the title of Hardest Australian Alive, which he could put alongside his SAS beret, his Medal for Gallantry and his absolutely-shitting-you-not Victoria Cross.

Oh, and at more than six and a half feet tall he’s also fucking massive.

Harden the fu... oh, er, sorry mate, didn't mean you

This is Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, who was awarded the VC for an incident in Afghanistan in 2010 in which his patrol was under fire from three machine gunners. Cpl Roberts-Smith deliberately left cover, killing at point blank range an enemy grenadier who got in the way, in order to draw fire away from his team, and since his patrol commander’s grenade only took out one of the machine gunners he stopped screwing around and killed the remaining pair himself. He must be pretty damn quick on his feet too because those three machine guns that stopped firing at his patrol in order to concentrate their fire on him managed to miss despite him being, as I think I mentioned, fucking massive.

That or the bullets were frightened of getting hurt when they bounced off him.

What can anyone possibly say about a guy like Ben Roberts-Smith that he’d need protecting from? That maybe he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer or much good at sex, apparently.

The co-host of Channel Ten program The Circle has publicly apologised for making a sexist and disrespectful comment about Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, saying she had never met the Australian war hero and “felt sick” at the angry backlash she had received after branding him brainless.

Yumi Stynes admitted she did not know much about Corporal Roberts-Smith when she commented on a photograph of the shirtless war hero in a swimming pool yesterday, saying: “He’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there.”

Stynes’s guest, co-host and veteran journalist George Negus had then quipped: “I’m sure he’s a really good guy, nothing about poor old Ben. But that sort of bloke, and what if they’re not up to it in the sack?”

Another host questioned whether Negus was suggesting “that he could be a dud root”, to laughter from the audience.

Yes, the mind does indeed boggle. Offensive? This kind of thing is so lame that if it had hooves someone would shoot it behind a tarpaulin. I could shrug that off and I’m not worthy of standing in temporarily for one of Ben Robert-Smith’s lower legs. Addressing such witless and puerile remarks to such a highly decorated soldier is certainly tasteless and may be embarrassing for the rest of us to have heard or read, but whether it’s offensive to Ben Roberts-Smith is solely for Ben Roberts-Smith to decide. Nonetheless…

The Circle’s Facebook page was flooded with angry comments, while a relative of another decorated war veteran contacted The Age to call for the Stynes and Negus to be sacked.

[…]

Opposition defence personnel spokesman Stuart Robert condemned the comments made by Negus and Stynes.

Nothing quite like the faux outrage of an opposition politician to make me take something less seriously.

“The irony is that the freedom of speech these journalists exercise is a freedom neither of them have fought for -but which both enjoy.”

Wrong, Stu. I’d argue that we don’t actually have freedom of speech when there are things that simply may not be said, but also that anyone may fight for freedom of speech just by saying anything that someone disapproves of and refusing to be kowtowed into retracting it. Not that I’m suggesting Yumi Stynes and George Negus were doing anything so noble rather than just talking the kind of schoolyard bollocks which both of them, and Negus especially, should have outgrown. Still, the content of their comments is not the point. The point is that the only person who can say whether Cpl Roberts-Smith is offended is Ben Roberts-Smith himself. And, perhaps not all that surprisingly for the Hardest Living Thing in Australia (Counting Some of the Crocs), he wasn’t really.

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith has dismissed sexist and disrespectful comments aimed at him by the Channel Ten program The Circle as “surprising” but not malicious.

[…]

Both personally apologised to Corporal Roberts-Smith for their comments before appearing on The Project to explain their actions.

Stynes said that she was “humbled” and “sorry” for her comments.

“I did speak to the winner of the Victoria Cross on the phone and said to him ‘look, I’m really about this’ and he was like ‘I’ve got a pretty thick skin’ and he kind of went ‘you know this stuff happens, you say stuff, don’t sweat it, let’s move on.’

She added that it was “uncool to make fun of him” yet she was “relieved” to speak with Corporal Roberts-Smith.

[…]

Negus, who also spoke with the decorated soldier, added: “It was very difficult to get him to accept my apology because he didn’t sound as though he thought I needed to make one.”

Perhaps because for some people not even sticks and stones, or bullets and grenades for that matter, seem able to break their bones. Some words might be able to hurt them, but for damned sure words like ‘brainless’ and ‘dud root’ won’t be among them. Most people are made of strong enough stuff to deal with that, and those like Roberts-Smith are made of sterner stuff still.

So if you want to make some remark about mad hair, guy-liner and 80s Goth/New Wave music I’d go right ahead, because the chances are that nest to nothing you can say or do to the guy is going to be significant enough to warrant much of his attention.

* I mean her accent, you dirty minded sods.

Resisting the Nanny State, Scottish style

Words cannot express my admiration.

H/T Skepticlawyer.

I’m glad I don’t have kids…

… because if I did I’d probably be sitting here now wondering why the hell they can’t be
this awesome.

Zoe, from Thatcham, Berks, plays in a child group called Mini Band which was catapulted to fame last year with a cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
But the youngster’s latest offering has won her hundreds of thousands more fans, showing her shredding her way through the solo of the Stratovarius’s Stratosphere.

And by way of comparison I don’t even hold any hope of doing this:

To top everything I can imagine Suzi Quattro looking exactly like that around 1960 or so.

Václav Havel 1936-2011

Václav Havel, last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic, writer and poet, died at the weekend. He was also a man who seemed to understand liberty and individual freedoms well, perhaps through having not had them himself for so much of his life.

If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.

You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn. Of a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people it is impossible to solve any of our problems — human, economic, ecological, social, or political.

For me that’s dream as worthy as Martin Luther King’s. May the late Václav Havel become as well remembered for it.

QOTD

Via the Zanzibari Kittie Counters, this:

Obama has been compared to Spock, but he’s more like GlaDOS. Acts cold and aloof, but is childish when angered. Promises cake we’ll never see.

As Sam Duncan at Counting Cats says, there are people who don’t play videogames and there are people who’ll look at that and go, ‘Hey, yeah, he is, isn’t he?’

Quote of the Day… Week… Weekend… Thing

Gerry Reynolds again, he of the “people who complained about Jeremy Clarkson saying strikers should be taken out and shot should be taken out and shot” blog post (which in case you haven’t noticed the correction in the update was not a council blog as I’d mistakenly said but a personal one by the ironic name of The Censored Blog), which had another bit in it that didn’t make the MSM at all. And that’s a shame because it was the best bloody bit.

As a striker myself, I have to admit that when I heard Clarkson had said that we strikers should be lined up against a wall and shot, I simply smiled and got on with my life. I didn’t collapse in tears, I didn’t consult my lawyers, I did not ring up Sky to comment, I just smiled.

Yes, absolutely, and that’s the reaction of a sensible adult who can tell the difference between hyperbolae and something that’s meant seriously, a reaction which is becoming all too bloody rare in these oversensitive, angstrom thin skinned times. So I withdraw any suggestion that Gerry should be taken out and shot, not because I’ve changed my mind about what he does for a living but because I hope that he spreads that attitude as far and wide as possible. I’d go so far as to suggest that there might be enough money even in a much reduced and drawn down state apparatus to hire someone like him in the role of Encouraging Everyone To Just Harden The Fuck Up A Bit Manager.

Gerry’s post ‘Shooting the Complainers!’ can be seen in all its uncensored glory at The Censored Blog, and I recommend nipping along and having a read of the whole thing.

Hero of the Day – UPDATED

In a small way Gerry Reynolds is a minor hero today for speaking up in support of Jeremy Clarkson’s freedom to be as hyperbolical as he likes.

He said: “I have decided that if I am ever put in charge that I would like to line all the UK’s copycat complainers up against a wall, tell them that I have had enough, and shoot them myself.”
… “Of course, that is a joke, I don’t own a gun, never want to, and would rather use a sledgehammer.
“The reason why I want rid of these people is simple. Just as I take the freedom to walk across a picket line as seriously as the right to stand on one, the freedom to express jokes and opinions is very dear to me.
“The moment creativity is constrained by the opinions and values of copycat complainers, religious fanatics or people trying to sell newspapers, we are in seriously deep trouble.”

Good for Gerry Reynolds for understanding this very important point about liberty, and good for him also for ignoring the inevitable offence seeking, freedom-phobic handwringers who promptly complained and demanded the comments, made on a council blog, be removed as well as the editor of the blog who said he didn’t see anything wrong with what Gerry Reynolds had said.

“It’s a blog and it is personal opinion. I don’t agree with all he says, or with his high opinions of Jeremy Clarkson. There is a comments box if anyone wanted to put forward an opposing view.
“He is not writing this as a council officer, and he is not representing Northings or Hi-arts. It is a person blog.”

In fact about the only thing a reasonable person could have against Gerry Reynolds is that he too is a public sector employee, occupying the position of Events and Promotions Manager at Highland Council. And since I feel that events and promotions management should not be a function of any level of government I’d suggest that his reward should be to be taken out and shot. Or possibly just his job since he sounds like someone who’d find something in the private sector without too much difficulty.

UPDATE – Gerry Reynolds himself has ducked all the gunfire going on to leave a thanks and a FYI that his blog is not a council one but a personal one on which he avoids talking about anything to do with his employer. Fair dos, correction noted.

A hero on many levels

Most Brits of I’d guess thirty years and up will probably be aware of who Simon Weston is. For those who don’t I’ll summarise: Simon Weston is a former soldier, a member of the Welsh Guards, and is a veteran of the Falklands War in which the ship he was on, the RFA Sir Galahad, was bombed by an Argentine fighter. This caused many casualties, including Simon Weston himself who suffered nasty burns and had to go through a long period of plastic surgeries and recovery. Unsurprisingly the guy had his ups and downs but he went on to become a quite remarkable man, allowing documentary makers to record some of what he went through as was treated and recovered from his injuries, setting up the Weston Spirit charity, becoming a motivational speaker, meeting and becoming friends with the pilot who’d dropped that bomb on the Sir Galahad. Yep, the man who dropped the bomb that killed many of his mates, and nearly killed him, leaving him with almost 50% burns instead, Weston has met and shook hands with and told that he knew it was nothing personal. And despite all that he still finds the time to be a husband and a dad to his family.

I make no bones about it, Simon Weston is a man I admire for many reasons. As much a hero as any man or woman who joins up in the knowledge that that choice potentially could cost their life or alter it as dramatically as it did Weston’s, but also heroic for the way he’s lived since then. In fact apart from the typical tendency of a Welshman to support absolutely anyone playing against the English rugby team up to and including the Underworld First XV there’s not a lot you can say against the bloke, and a short while ago I read something he said in an interview that means I’m inclined to let him off even that.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ANTI-CAPITALISM PROTESTS?

Some people have no understanding of reality and have a chip on their shoulder about money and seeing people living in wealth. They don’t realise that wealthy people are wealth creators and it’s a foolish standpoint because socialism doesn’t work….

Oh, wait, that’s not all of it. There’s some more.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM?

I would make the taxation system fairer – I don’t think you should have to pay 40pc. If you’re earning more, you’re paying more, end of. Why should you be penalised for being more successful?
I don’t actually mind paying my taxes, but what really gets me is that we don’t seem to adequately punish those people who scrounge off the system and, quite frankly, we make it too easy for them to do it in the first place. There’s far too many people spuriously claiming benefits, including disability benefits, costing us as a country in excess of £3 billion annually, who are preventing the genuinely needy from getting proper support and helping those honourable ones who do want to contribute to society in whatever way they can….

I’ve no idea about the guy’s politics and for all I know I might disagree with him on dozens of other things – actually I even disagree with the bit about minding taxes, mainly because so much of it is spunked away on useless vanity projects – but this… this he gets. And at a time when it seems almost fashionable to blame the world’s financial woes on a free market that didn’t exist and an perfectly reasonable desire to minimise tax exposure rather than the real villains, government profligacy and deliberate policies of boom inducing unrealistically cheap credit, it’s good to hear a well known and respected figure like Simon Weston say otherwise when no politician of any main party would dare to.

11/11/11 11:00

While today’s time and date offer the potential for some light hearted fun with binary I’m more inclined to stick with the altered background theme of the blog this week (unfortunately I don’t think this is visible on mobile devices and if either of my readers use a mobile device to view the blog they may not have noticed the slight change in the right hand margin) and go with something a bit more reflective.

   In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
  Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt Colonel John McCrae,
Canadian Army Medical Corps,
Dec 1915

And I’d say that if the Allied dead of two world wars were indeed fighting for freedom then to its great shame my generation has largely failed to hold that torch high and has occasionally dropped it altogether. We broke faith, and by rights it should cause as many sleepless nights among the living as among those who died nearly a century ago on the Western Front.

Quote of the Day

Science news, and none of that useless science with no practical application either. This is the announcement of a new SI unit that will transform measurement of a day to day phenomenon to an easy standard so that everyone knows what is being talked about and precisely how much of it there is.

Following his comments on the UK being just an island at the G20, [Nicolas Sarkozy] has been selected by the International Science Community as the new System of Units(SI) as the standard cunt for scientific purposes.
[…]
The Cunt, which the measure of absolute intolerability, was recalibrated by the French Academe de Sciences after the previous standard cunt, former UK PM and bigot caller Gordon Brown who has degraded in cuntitude slightly over time to 0.9992 of a cunt.

Pop over to Down With That Sort Of Thing to read the PR in its full abusive glory. Made Oi larf.