Friday, 31 December 2010
My inspiration is a piece of ‘performance art’ (for want of a better term) called the Art Strike, which a similarly named, similarly aged prankster called Stewart Home carried out from 1990 to 1993. Google it if you’ve never heard of it.
Like my sometime associate Home I regard anything I do for fun, rather than to pay the mortgage or for my family, as an experiment, and almost everything else as an utter bore and a complete waste of time. I started the print column because I was invited to and so will continue that until I’m disinvited, but I started the blog as an experiment, so when it is not interesting to blog, not interesting to observe the reaction, then there is no reason to continue. Or maybe I’ll just observe what happens when I don’t blog, because that may also be interesting.
One reason for the Manx content has been that I never understood why nobody else was doing it when so much nonsense goes on here and, for strictly economic reasons, the local press will not talk about it. But I also never understood why, once I’d proved it could be done, nobody else joined in.
And I never understood why the level of analysis or research by commentators on local websites…......well, frankly, why there isn’t any! If I’m terribly honest, I also despair of many 'atheist' websites and organisations too, for the same reasons.
Does nobody ask the most basic questions of news stories?
Where this or that assertion, statistic or ‘fact’ comes from?
It ought to be patently obvious to anyone who has even briefly encountered ‘media studies’ that at least 80% of the local, UK or international press is written by PR companies, government spin-meisters and pressure groups, so why do they not ask where the story came from?
Or why they planted the story?
Or why the Manx government spends millions on PR projects which they tell us are meant to improve the international image of the island, but which even the thickest, most academically illiterate marketing assistant in the naffest local company or government department should know from their sub-GCSE marketing course notes is actually a piss-poor attempt to make locals ‘think positive’?
Oh, so many questions, so little time. So, I’m off, to read books, study and try other projects I’ve had tucked away if I find the time, or just (as every disgraced Tory politician says) to spend more time with my family.
No, I’m not bored, or angry, or disheartened. No, I’m not available for anyone else’s projects which they can’t be bothered to see through themselves.
I’m just not here for the next 365 days.
If that’s a bother, it took me about 20 minutes to set this blog up from scratch with no IT experience. I did it for the same reason I churned out punk fanzines when I was 18 and have contributed to all manner of odd, obscure publications ever since.
Nobody talked about anything that related to the world I live in. So if that’s true for you, stop whining and do it yourself.
Go on punk, make my day.
See you in 2012.
Saturday, 25 December 2010
But instead of beatitudes, or even platitudes, all I found was, well.......... tweatitudes.
This (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31926 ), for example, from an unelected political parasite, imposed on us by foreign dictators.
This (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31947 ) from a Minister for No Fun, who asks that we live our entire lives as lies.
And this (http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=31855 )from an enforcer for unscrupulous gangsters, whose fellow thugs at this time of the year like to stop ordinary car drivers at random, mainly in order to keep the road clear for drunken civil servants and legislators on the way to or from one of a myriad of publically funded events.
I think you see the problem at once.
There is just no voice of moral authority any more. Nobody on the island who I can offer to my small daughter as a reference for anything good, or decent, or human.
But I suspect, from her dealings with various po-faced liars who turn up at her school, she may be gathering that already. She’s going to have to work it all out for herself, as are we all.
Oh well. At least life is never dull if you spend it making up the rules as you go along.
Have a Cool Yule, and try to spot the jokes, rather than electing or otherwise subsidising them.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Because smack bang under a warning that a virulent new strain of MRSA may have hit the island I found http://www.manx.net/news/1037/christmas-on-the-hill-st-johns-christmas-eve on the Manxnet news page.
Well, that saves me having to warn Manx people that St. Johns is again becoming a Yuletide Disaster Area. But as the police have mentioned it, I’d recommend the rest of us just avoid the area altogether for a few days. Leave it to the fundie throwbacks, the BNP and similar Manx rednecks no decent person should be seen around or risk catching something nasty off.
One other question. If the local police are doing advertising for publically subsidised flat-earth gatherings like this, doesn’t that suggest that it is high time for a new Police Liason Committee?
The two key figures of that unelected committee (whose new members are selected by the current committee, not the police, the DHA or Tynwald) are not only fundamentalists but run the shopping centre next to St. Johns Hill which will reap any financial benefit from this event.
That, I would have to suggest, is another joke. Much sicker, if very indicative of the real way in which Tynwald goes through the motions of ‘consulting’ the public on government policy.
Tucked away in the Order Paper for Tynwald this Tuesday (see http://www.tynwald.org.im/papers/orders/2010-2011/ko21122010.pdf) we see as Item 4:
“The Hon Member for Glenfaba (Mr Anderson) to move –That under Standing Order 4.34, on the petition of the Promoters, John Bingham, Robert Terence Easton and Avril Kneale Teare as the Trustees of the Broadway Baptist Church, and as the Trustees of the Alpha Centre Trust, and of the said John Bingham, Robert Terence Easton, Avril Kneale Teare and Clive Graham Swift as the Trustees of the Well Trust, the petitioners having certified the required compliance with Standing Orders, leave be given to introduce the Broadway Baptist Church Bill 2011.”
So, what’s that all about?
Well, if anyone was to ask officials at our second most bonkers local evangelical cult, they’d probably explain that the 19th century charitable trust which established the church was a little out of date, and so they’re tidying up a little, also combining the charitable trusts which established their bookshop/café and their various ‘outreach’ programs.
This is true – sort of – in that charitable trusts can only carry out the tasks mentioned in their charter, and benefit those named. Charity law – even on the Isle of Man – is irritatingly obstructive to faith-based fraudsters and tax dodgers, especially if the trust was drawn up way before the modern business and charity law which paved the way for our offshore finance sector.
But closer analysis of the Bill reveals more interesting things.
What the Batshits are actually doing is winding up the trusts, in particular the 19th century one for the church itself. The problem is, winding up a trust requires that you hand what assets are left over to the named beneficiaries, who my guess would be are something like paid up bona fide members of the church or other local Christian worthies, and my other guess is those now controlling the gaff don’t want to do that.
What they actually want is for real ownership and power to pass from ordinary local Christians (who can’t be trusted to go with the program the cabal running Broadway Baptists are drawing up) and to an English silent partner in their shady deals. The way they seem to be planning to do it is to close the charitable trusts and regroup the assets and enterprises into a limited by guarantee company, which will also be registered as a Manx charity.
The main advantage of this is that a limited by guarantee company has named guarantors (usually three or four folk playing a trustee-like role who agree to contribute a token pound or so if the company is wound up) not named shareholders. So, the real ‘owners’ of the company are not on record, or even traceable through any nominee shareholders who represent them.This would be extremely advantageous if those owners were, say, a religious organisation in another country which doesn't want the world at large to know it has offshore assets, or religious zealots in an offshore jurisdiction to know that their place of worship is owned by money-grubbing foreigners who will flog it to the highest bidder.
The real clue comes in section 8 of the explanatory literature, that dealing with dissolution, where it casually mentions that “The ultimate beneficiary shall be Spurgeon’s College”.
Just a short guide to trust law jargon here. Trusts have ‘beneficiaries’, who are individuals or institutions who the person or institution settling the property of the trust wants to have some day to day benefit – could be, for example, a relative of the settlor needing school fees, the homeless or someone getting a grant to study something. The ultimate beneficiary is the person or thing that gets everything when the trust is wound up.
Another clue is in the blurb about the ‘Statement of Faith’, and the desire to change this so as to fit in with the Evangelical Alliance ‘basis of faith’. The EA has come up in this blog a few times (for example, their attempts to prevent civil partnership ceremonies, their opposition to schools tackling bullying of seemingly gay pupils, their strange decision to revise the definition of a ‘cult’ so as to allow the dangerous Jesus Army cult to join the Alliance), but would be familiar to anyone who studies nutjob evangelicals of the UK.
To anyone else - they’re Fruitcake Central, with numerous links to Westminster, seats on all the QUANGOs going, and also pretty much run the religious advisory bodies at the BBC. Most baffling of all, although they’re amongst the most homophobic and sexist elements of the UK Christian community, their head honcho, Joel Edwards, sits on Equal Opportunities bodies on the dubious basis that he and a few other EA figures are black, ergo nasty educated liberals and gays are somehow ‘discriminating’ when they object to the theofascist cretinism sometimes spouted by EA affiliates as ‘sincere’ faith.
Spurgeon College , which is named as ‘ultimate beneficiary’, is, by the way, the EA’s ‘educational resource’ – more accurately, a fundie bible college which actually detracts from the sum of human knowledge.
This, added to various adverts which have been appearing since early 2009 in UK Baptist newspapers and magazines unsuccessfully appealing for a new Broadway pastor, suggests that the place is in serious trouble.
Will it close?
Sadly, I fear not, and I also doubt that it’s a sign that pitifully poorly informed civil servants and politicians will finally pull the plug on dubious ‘social outreach’ schemes which run from the Alpha Centre.
What it might signal is that the only serious asset the church has left, i.e. the property, is being lined up for sale and redevelopment at a convenient future point. The area immediately around it is deteriorating fast and, as coincidence would have it, the property developer most likely to snap it up used to employ the retiring Attorney General (to whom the whole current deal has to be referred) and also the only local legal authority on ecclesiastical law.
Convenient coincidence or cunning planning?
We may have to wait another year or so to find out.
Friday, 17 December 2010
To be blunt, they were conned (and I include local organisers in this), and they haven't.
To get some idea of the parties really behind this scam take a look at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/12/sarah-palin-haiti-visit , and note the stories of past 'aid projects' from 1994 and 2001.
I could also tell you that, a few years ago, I spoke to a Lutheran minister in Romania. She was one of a remarkable group of clerics led by a bishop whose sermons were so popular that, when the Securitate tried to break them up, it kickstarted a chain of events which eventually led to the overthrow of Ceacescu.
This cleric told me that, frankly, Samaritans Purse and other evangelical US missions were the cause of more community tension than Ceacescu and his crew ever managed to stir up in order to keep themselves in power and privilege. Foreign 'charity' was simply not necessary in communities where neighbours looked out for each other and shared what they had.
Local churches worked perfectly well and perfectly openly and were respected even by non-religious neighbours. Local public services, schools and hospitals were staffed by dedicated, if underpaid, professionals despite the open corruption of Romanian politicians.
Actually, it is a good thing they do, because after a quick photo or two for next year's publicity appeals, as in the Palin example, the SP are gone. The boxes, if ever distributed, go as a sort of token dividend to poor folk who've signed up and paid up through the nose to US churches, most of whose profits go back to the US.
Franklin Graham's empire has a $500 million annual turnover in the US alone, and being a religious 'charitable foundation' pays no tax. It owns planes, fleets of trucks, printing presses, state-of-the-art film and recording studios...... Do you really think it needs your £1 coins too?
Or look at it another way.
Romanians, like people in most of the countries where religious scams like SP work, show a level of community solidarity that puts us to shame and which we long ago lost. They may have older houses, cars and clothes than some of us, but it isn't a problem to them.
They get by and, unlike us, look out for their neighbours. The idea that a pensioner in, say, a dormitory village like Kirk Michael could fall over and lie on their kitchen floor for a week without a neighbour noticing is unbelievable to my friends and relatives in East Europe.
So why are you helping pondlife like Graham to not only steal from those communities but destroy them?
On 10th December, in a piece entitled Isle of Man ‘End of Life Care Project’ set for launch, some of those who contribute most to the sum of Manx human misery when folk die told us that:“The Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support have joined forces on a new initiative aimed at improving end of life care on the Isle of Man.
The two year project will work with patients, carers, health and social care professionals and the voluntary and faith sectors on the Isle of Man, to produce an agreed end of life care strategy and to develop an implementation plan for improving end of life care across a wide range of life limiting conditions. “
Which probably sounds very impressive to an innocent reader, especially if they or folk around them are likely to die in the near future.
The con artists continue: “The Isle of Man End of Life Care Strategy will aim to identify what people’s preferences might be at the end of life and examine existing health, social care and voluntary support systems that will enable people to die in the place of their choosing. “
That is a bare faced lie.
To understand why, consider these three things.
Firstly, in the life of the current Manx parliament there will be an attempt to introduce a Bill on assisted dying.
Secondly, in the last two decades, care of the island’s terminally ill has left the hands of the public health service and gone to an ugly coalition of private and pseudo-charitable business interests. They have a tidy little racket going whereby the lives of the terminally ill are spun out as long as possible, and each painful unit is costed out at the maximum possible rate to vultures ranging from aromatherapists and other unqualified floggers of unregulated alternative woo-woo through to those with some semblance of professionalism but who also, in practice, do little more than pat semi-corpses on the head while extracting the contents of their wallets. If you’ll excuse the pun, it is one sick business.
Thirdly, the current Health Minister is a pro-lifer. To be fair, he is absolutely open about this and, for example, lists his membership of CARE (Christian Action for Research and Education) amongst his parliamentary interests. He holds his views and expresses them as a Christian, not a medical expert, and, to my certain knowledge, has not taken a penny from any company or individual which benefits financially from the current status quo. In that alone he is head and shoulders above many of his fellow political layabouts, whose inability to, for example, award a government contract without a skiing holiday, ‘fact-finding mission’ to exotic countries, seat on the board of a company when they retire from politics or (in the most extreme 1980’s cases) holiday homes in sunnier climes is a national disgrace that puts us on a par with their worst Irish role models.
Note also that the entire pseudo-project has been underwritten, not by government, but by one of the bogus health charities with most to lose if dying people were able to get the deaths they actually want, not ‘choose’ from a menu of overpriced, whimsical nonsenses, and that it will be conducted by an employee of a faith-based partner in crime.
While we’re at it, we should also consider that vacuous fluffy quote from Cicely Saunders, founder of the UK’s hospice con. In order to understand the true mentality and morality of Saunders, it is only necessary to know that, in 1981, she won the Templeton Prize. For those who don’t know, the founders of the Templeton Prize (until 2001 known as the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion) intended to emulate or even dwarf the prestige of the Nobel prizes. The only way in which they truly outdid the Nobels was to offer more cash. Otherwise, it’s just an open £1,000,000 bribe to any public figure, preferably with a scientific/medical/philanthropic or quasi-scientific/medical/philanthropic background to come up with reasons why such fields should be dominated by religious, not rational, thinking, or to muddy the waters in such a way that it is impossible to go about those disciplines without one leg in a barbed wire garter. Once you know that, the year after Saunders, Billy Graham got it you can appreciate what 24 carat crap the whole deal is, what kind of moral pygmy takes the loot and why you should dismiss anything they ever said about anything.
My advice to anyone who is approached by this survey is, firstly, insist on written communication, not a verbal interview, and secondly ask if assisted dying is on the menu for discussion. If it isn’t, then, say you don’t think it is a true research project into what dying people and their friends and relatives want and refuse to co-operate further. And make sure you get all this in writing.
It is important that you do this.
Firstly because this survey is a deliberate attempt to only allow participants to give answers those behind the scam have pre-decided, in order to pretend it is ‘what the public wants’ and further excuse the lack of choice and theft of public funds.
Secondly, because this survey will work itself into the arguments used by such parasites to derail an assisted dying bill.
Thirdly, because when they do all this, it is important that we can challenge such nonsense, and provide evidence of the way in which our attempts to give our true opinions were blocked by those, in theory, charged with gathering such opinion.
Bogus research is a growing industry in Manx government circles, increasingly used to excuse the most outrageous waste and theft of taxpayer money. It is our civic duty to stop it dead.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
I suspected then that the local twin-set and pearls mafiosi must be just going along with their UK godmothers. What I hadn’t realised until last week was just how serious this particular organised crime spree is. Seemingly, it goes right to Downing Street itself.
This BBC report for example (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11923107) shows beyond doubt that not only are the deranged fantasies of superstitious, upper middle class whackjobs taken seriously by others who miss the institutional rent boy racket that passes for ‘private education’, but that the Old Girl Network is as prolific as the better known boys club in Westminster.
The more serious worry is that this also has shades of Tipper Gore and the infamous PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre), the bandwagon-jumping, horse-frightening US campaign which caused ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on CDs, and whose side-effect was to guarantee sales for any potty-mouthed rapper on major labels only sold through chain stores, while hastening the demise of independent record and video labels and stores in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Thus, while principled musicians (from Frank Zappa to Jello Biafra) fought the censorship and exposed nonsense like the ‘Satanist lyrics on LPs played backwards’ myths (through lengthy senate hearings and court battles) the sexism, homophobia, violence and other genuine social evils the PMRC might have tackled actually increased in popular music.
Perhaps God-fearing middle American parents just don’t worry about that sort of stuff. Certainly they have a long record of sponsoring it.
But what really makes me laugh is that the Mothers Union is run by a bloke (unless Reg Bailey is some Joyce Grenfell clone of a gym mistress whose sexual realignment isn’t complete). Whoever he is, I don’t want him or any of his sex-obsessed friends anywhere near my child, and neither should any sane parent.
Note again that the ‘research’ they did is confined to Mothers Union members. Therefore it does not represent the reasoned views of well balanced, well informed parents who engage with the real world, but of paranoid ranters afraid of the dark and unhealthy interest in child sex some of their best friends haven’t managed to sublimate or deal with properly. Just because media-illiterate Christians are filthy-minded pervs who can’t bring their kids up that doesn’t mean everyone else is.
Oh Eddie, really! The world laugh at a place populated by folk who not only let you take executive political decisions while skulking in a government broom cupboard but even pay you, even though you can’t get elected? As if!!
The sadder thing was that the main hold-up to a fairly modest bill was the Bishop needing an assurance (which he got) from fellow unelected political rejects and chancers that if a clergyman was to be illegally passed information from a confidential register of transgendered people, and refused to conduct a marriage of that person, then neither the clergyman nor the faith-biased and homophobic civil servant would be prosecuted.
Some people wonder why I laugh when Manx church leaders or government departments try to tell us they want to stamp out racism, sexism or homophobia.
But a few weeks ago I noted another blatant example of the kind of tasteless tat that passes elsewhere for a ‘dignified’ church ceremony. Take a look at http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/847874-dog-gets-elaborate-church-blessing, where some herbert spent £1,000 having his dog blessed in a village church. And there was me thinking those ‘bring your pet to church’ Sundays local bunny-huggers love so much were a bit over the top.
It does make you wonder about all those Manx church pretensions to high mindedness and solemn dignity. As one of the more personable senior clergy once grumbled to me over a decade ago, he’d never known a place like the Isle of Man for rich, thick and sentimental punters, and church advisors who’d sign him up to fulfil their oddest whims at the right price. “Anything that can’t run away, they want me to pray over. If it’s got legs, wings or fins I’ve been asked to christen, marry or bury it. If it doesn’t move they want me to bless it.”
By comparison, I’ve yet to hear of any Manx gay couple with such poor taste that they wanted to get married in a church. Some people just have to much taste, and self-respect.
Which makes Manx Christian objections to gay marriage ( and even the long overdue, yet to be implemented, arrangement for civil partnership ceremonies) all the more risible.
Saturday, 4 December 2010
That includes a grief-mining local politician, lifeboat volunteers whose obligatory attendance required time off from work, directors of the foreign-owned, over-mortgaged ferry company which poses as the national ferry service and some Scousers on a freebie holiday.
The number of people at the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights (see http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=48956 ): 6.
These were the Chairman of Ramsey Commissioners, his daughter and one other kid, someone from the bank sponsoring the lights, someone from the bank’s nominated charity and the obligatory health & safety officer.
Sometimes people wonder why Ramsey’s retail and tourist sector is in decline.
Could it be because neither the Black Death nor Foot and Mouth hit the town?
Or is it just that Ramsey events are only run for the benefit of the retired, the feckless and semi-professional parasites, and while those whose taxes keep them in comfort are at work (mostly in Douglas as there are no Ramsey jobs, and no government policies for creating any)?