Sunday, 30 December 2012

Front line reporting from the War on Wowsers

The excellent Chris Snowdon has posted a 2012 review of neo-puritan nonsense over on his blog. It should be compulsory reading for any fool who believes that the governments of liberal democracies still regard the citizens who employ them as grown-ups.
As Chris concludes: “If there was ever any doubt that the campaign against smoking was a dress rehearsal for a wider crusade of puritanism and prohibition, those doubts were surely put to bed in 2012. The question for 2013 and, I fear, for many years to come, is how much more taxing, banning, lying and demonising will society permit before a line is drawn.”
Go to and read it NOW, or you’ll go to bed without any treats.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Should aid be used as a political tool to encourage change?

A few weeks ago I was asked if I’d lend a hand to (or at least try and interest Isle of Man Freethinkers in) the local arm of a major campaign which will kick off in 2013.
Though I and others involved have some doubts, unfortunately, by the terms of the invitation, I cannot yet say more than it is another attempt by one powerful interest group to consolidate both their stake in (and the terms of debate for) foreign aid. This is possibly before another powerful interest group can beat them to it: though actually I suspect the boat set sail months ago with that other interest group navigating it. For now, I can only say that the campaign is due to launch in the UK around 17th January, so possibly also in the Isle of Man.
Thankfully, others seem to share my worry that what is wrong in this debate is the attempt by two fixed though opposing interests to rig it so that the general taxpaying public think we are involved, contributing and being listened to while, in actuality, we are jerked around by equally abhorrent puppet masters who think it is our job to simply shut up, pay up and, in general, leave it to the experts.
The sick joke being that neither pseudo-side in this potential pseudo-debate has yet demonstrated the ability to organise a chimps’ tea party – never mind a full blown domestic policy – in a former colony.
Think of the worst, most petty-minded Manx public body you can and their disastrous attempts to, say, fix a hole in the road or organise a bin collection. Then think of the same bunch of blow-hards, malingerers and pocket-lining plonkers being let loose on a large impoverished country.
Worrying, isn’t it?
So, before the ‘official’ local debate between the official (if somewhat calcified) parties begins, why not join an honest attempt to discuss this knotty problem?
On Sunday, 13th January, 2.30 PM at Douglas Yacht Club, Andrew Dixon (Chairman of the Freethinkers) and Phil Craine (Chairman of the One World Centre and local Christian Aid worker) ask ‘Should aid be used as a political tool to encourage change?’
Both are personal friends, and both people I’ve worked with on ‘good causes’, so, though their views on this topic will differ astronomically, I am sure both speak with honest and humane intent. So I also have no hesitation in urging the real Manx public to get along and get the debate going - before it is taken out of our hands.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas spirit? What Christmas spirit? (Service? What service?)

I write this while under house arrest. More exactly, while waiting to see if whatever random skunkhead some cowboy courier service employs can be bothered to turn up with our friends’ Xmas presents. We don’t “do” extravagant Yuletide nonsense in this house, but we do like to give those we like a bit of something exotic to nibble on, just to say thanks for another year of moral support against the growing tide of Manx general ignorance.
“Ah, serves you right for not shopping local”, you say.
“Oh, sod that for a game of soldiers, you sad Calvinist half-lives”, says I, though it’s not as if we haven’t tried. The problem is, they don’t stock anything edible – or even anything you’d feed to a freeloading relative you don’t want back, if it comes to that.
Until last Christmas it was simple enough. The fabulous Moughtin Brothers ran a great little deli just five minute’s walk away where quality mattered, the customer was royalty and nothing was too much trouble. For years they have been trying to bow out gracefully and hand over to some enterprising young grocer. The trouble is, there aren’t any.
Sure, there are any number of pretentious little upstarts who want to regurgitate slop they saw on some ex-Etonian’s culinary TV show. What there are not are straightforward small town shopkeepers willing to provide honest food which originated from animals which led relatively happy (if short )lives on something we would recognise as a farm or things resembling fruit and vegetables which grew on actual trees and bushes, the above ingredients lovingly assembled and processed by people with a modicum of culinary expertise (whether acquired from relatives or apprenticeship in something resembling a restaurant or hotel kitchen).
Is this really too much to ask?
On the Isle of Man the answer is “Yes, really”.
So we were reduced to ordering online from what advertises itself as a Lake District emporium of traditional foodstuffs - which we now suspect is run by an anonymous corporation maintaining a head office, on paper, at a desirable rural mail-forwarding address, with the actual call centre and packing carried out by desperate Mancunians and Scousers who can no longer avoid the DSS on some identikit industrial estate – probably in Runcorn or somewhere equally dreadful. The order was placed on 10th December and, according to the blurb, picked up and delivery promised within 48 hours. On 18th December a mysterious e-mail arrived thanking us for an order received just that day and promised, more vaguely, within five working days. When we replied, trying to establish who would deliver and so who to chase if it didn’t turn up it emerged that said emporium, rather than an identifiable courier service, give delivery contracts via a murky intermediary to any John Wayne with a 20 year old Transit (or even Nova) who can be enticed away from the local skunk dealer for 20 minutes.
Oh well, Merry Christmas.
And if you are a dear friend, hope you enjoyed this, because thanks to the general indolence and incompetence of the 21st century retail industry it may be all you get from us this festering season.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Burning issue

….and back again! Think I may just have found the impetus to get back into this stuff.
It may seem an odd jump from the life-or-death Ugandan issue I blogged on yesterday, but if you are serious about civil liberties, then when a local issue comes up you act – even if you might cross the road to avoid those most affected.
And so it is with the smoking survey reminder at
I am in a unique position in that the removal of freedom & choice here doesn’t really affect me individually, except that every time anti-democratic prodnoses manage to take away a right from the public we all suffer, because it makes it that much easier for them to remove another one in future. But the notion that the ideas, opinions or objections of people who smoke must be automatically discounted because they might be wrong or deluded, while an anti-smoking lobby underwritten by government cannot be questioned - and must be assumed to be honest and accurate – is ridiculous and insulting.
Even minimal investigation of the ‘surveys’ and ‘evidence’ of that government-sponsored lobby shows basic mistakes and a failure to correct or even acknowledge this, while the way in which false information is presented again and again (and heavy-handed attempts to screen out ‘unhelpful’ public views in the government and public funded ‘surveys’ which are supposed to precede any change in legislation) is a matter which ought to be of grave concern to anyone who still believes we are living in a democratic country and that government is there to provide the services and society the electorate and taxpayers want.
There is also something plain wrong about government paying to lobby itself, then pretending to ask our opinion ( but skewing the survey questions so that we cannot object to the ill-informed decision they made in the first place), then expecting us to pick up the bill for the lot while they take away another of our liberties.
It seems there is an element in the public sector which now believes it is the electorate’s job to simply sanction a government which will do as it pleases, while the taxpayers are supposed to fund this and not ask embarrassing questions, such as whether it is professionally and objectively done, good value for money, or even fit for purpose.
Time to cut that element down to size, I would suggest. And if you need a joke to help you along, try .
No seriously, fill in that survey, but stop reacting to all the kneejerk tabloid twaddle and think about what happens when a bunch of prodnoses (probably in naff armbands and badly fitting peaked caps) get public money to invade the privacy of people’s homes and property and start ordering them around.
Because that is what we are talking about here. Nothing else. And think about what happens when, having done it once, they feel like doing it again, but this time to interfere with some simple pleasure of yours which ISN’T HARMING ANYONE ELSE AND ISN’T ANYBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS.
Because when health strategy is in the hands of the kind of thin-lipped puritans who come up with this nonsense, that is, if anything, a damn good reason to take up smoking. Because dying earlier as a result would be a merciful release from a drawn out, miserable death in whatever kind of joyless government facility these mean-spirited, anti-human fiends will come up with.
Over the top reaction?
Compared to the way Manx government officials and their dim little ‘third sector’ friends behave every time they want to brighten up their dull little lives by screwing up ours, and even expect another handout from us to do it?
Get real.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Kill this Bill, not gays

Real world problems have kept me away from the blog for a while but, as the Manx press don’t seem interested, I have to post something here about a nasty bit of legislation in Uganda, and the sheer hypocrisy of Manx evangelicals about such stuff.
This all started as the latest misleading salvo in the particularly mean-minded letters page debate about overseas aid. As I’ve said before, I’ve felt hamstrung because the major local defenders of the principle are mainstream churchgoers and a major beneficiary mainstream religious aid agencies (e.g. Christian Aid, Tearfund), while the most virulent attacks come from individuals who spout fundamentalist variants of free market views on charity - or indeed any form of compassion.
From my day job in our finance sector I am painfully aware of huge irony, in that the viciously deceptive American magazines from which such misanthropes quote freely are heavily underwritten by ‘educational foundations’ formed to channel money towards the ‘Tea Party’ tendency of Republicanism, and the biggest donors to those foundations are wealthy evangelicals eager to avoid tax. 
But when Manx supporters of a dubious religious aid agency wrongly claimed that the international community was cutting Ugandan aid because of Ugandan political corruption I saw red. So in response, I sent a letter to the Indie outlining the history of the horrendous ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill which has actually caused aid to be frozen since 2009.
In particular I linked the Bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, to the Fellowship Foundation (a US-based Christian and political organisation - better known as ‘the Family’-  which arranges an annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington), and also explained how the Bill originated in the March 2009 Ugandan tour of Abiding Truth Ministries (another US evangelical group) to promote The Pink Swastika, a very silly book co-authored by Abiding Truth’s president, Scott Lively, which presented Nazism as a ‘gay conspiracy’.
The Indie never printed it. Not sure why. Maybe they’re as bored as I am by the sad procession of knuckle-dragging throwbacks who think we should cut all aid, or the almost as pathetic attempts by some of the key recipients to retain it, but on the present terms (i.e. the public get no say in the matter, we just hand our tax money to a self-elected bunch of numpties with vested interests, who decide which of their mates get it all this year).
Or maybe the Indie just won’t risk upsetting those key advertisers who insist evangelical twaddle gets printed ad nauseum, and pull their ads when anyone points out what twaddle it is or the damage religiots actually do in the world.
The point is the Bill is back on.
In fact Ugandan politicians seem to have promised it as some sort of sick ‘Christmas present’ to their rich but retarded Yank bible-bashing friends.
 In fact Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, actually used those words ‘(Christmas present’, that is, not ‘rich but retarded Yank bible-bashing friends’.
As I said in the unprinted letter, we in the West need to stop blaming easy targets for African poverty. Instead, it is high time we acknowledged that myths and prejudices we created, and hateful parasites whose activities we failed to prevent, are a major factor in the problem.
So you could help by signing two emergency protests to the Ugandan government. You can find them at  and But you have to sign NOW. Even the end of this week could be too late to save lives.
27/11/12 Update - if you want to send a message to five US senators who are members of the 'family' mentioned above, there's a petition at .

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Thou Shalt Not Shall Be The Whole Of The Law

I am startled (but hardly surprised) by a report (see that the Manx police are seeking (or at least having foisted upon them) a power to stop drinking anywhere on island, rather than just isolated trouble spots which police records have identified. 
My first thought is that it is a shame we cannot have a bill to prevent idiocy outside the Wedding Cake, or public evangelising. Because as the wise and witty P.J. O’Rourke says “…no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”
There is also the planned legislation to prevent smoking in cars containing children  (see ), which may sound laudable on a casual glance but is based on poor BMA research, which was quickly debunked but only corrected so quietly that the general public remain unaware of the problem.
One elementary fault in the research is that it is based on what happens if you smoke in a car with the windows fully closed – which even a hardened smoker will tell you is physically impossible. Another is that they simply got the sums wrong, by a massive percentage. See for the latest in the saga plus a number of links which give a potted history of the way the legend has developed.
Further to that is the way that the BMA (and more particularly a professional anti-tobacco lobby) continue to press their case based on the sensational but now totally discredited version of the evidence, not the reasonable but much milder version which would allow for some sort of common sense debate and compromise. It really seems such parties are not interested in debate or democracy, just consolidating a position where they will tell us what to do without question, or else.
As I have never smoked (filthy habit) and am (at least in the true and original sense of the word) temperate I think I can claim an independent, unbiased view of these things. As I am also a responsible parent, what also niggles me is the way that pig-ignorant but powerful prodnoses not only presume, but are being allowed, to legislate based on their ridiculous assumption that most parents simply do not know, and cannot be trusted to do, what is best for their children. That is an insult, especially coming from cretins who cannot even read the Bible without moving their lips.
The most worrying thing about this is the way we’re slipping away from the English Common Law system towards European ‘Roman Law’. In a nutshell, common law is based on the idea that you are free to do something unless there is specifically a law against it. Roman law works on the principle that it is illegal to do anything unless there is a law which grants you the right to do it, i.e. there is a numbered code and regulation for absolutely everything and if there is not you are a criminal, go straight to jail.
Eventually, because smokers (like most Manx people in my experience) are conformists they will lose the latest battle, just as they long ago lost the one over smoking in even segregated areas of pubs staffed and patronised only by consenting adults.
As smoking has been moved by a mixture of social engineering and well connected but ignorant busybodies from being the social norm to the social exception (the action of an ‘awkward’ and ‘inconsiderate’ few), so social drinking is going the same way. It will soon be - at best - not tolerated and at worst actually illegal, because people who want to conform, to be friendly and not make trouble (i.e. to be sociable and neighbourly) do not know how to fight back in a civilised way against anti-social prodnoses who claim the moral high ground and have friends in all the right political places.
In the process, of course, these otherwise useless and unemployable busybodies create a nice little cottage industry as ‘therapists’, ‘counsellors’ and ‘advisors’, which we the public (and their victims) pay for from our taxes.
Nice scam if you can work it, but what a nasty way to destroy our community and the pleasures that community has long held in common. Little more than a miserable, mean-minded, happy clappy fascism, in fact.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Feeding the therapy addicts

I was intrigued by the annual report of the Gambling Supervision Commission (see
Most of it is pretty dull and inoffensive – at least for a pointless QUANGO like this, though considering that a large percentage of what we used to call the Finance Sector is now devoted to online gambling it is frankly hilarious that it is as badly run as the FSC was before the OECD demanded better.
However, page 27 IS quite revealing.
Here we learn that:
“All online licence holders are required, by a condition of their licence, to make a contribution to the Islands problem gambling fund. Contributions are collected annually and the funds are distributed between the Isle of Man Social Services and the GREaT Foundation, a UK based charity.
Isle of Man Social Services use these contributions to fund third sector addiction support agencies which provide local service and support to those individuals for whom gambling is becoming or has become a problem. The GREaT Foundation is a UK based organisation that provides help, support, research and education in the area of problem gambling. The Commission’s support of this cause has been recognised with the Silver GREaTer donor award, which stands as testament to the contributions and support provided by the Islands industry to this highly valued service.”
In other words, as those dependent on  alcohol-dependency charities for employment could not pay themselves, and were the object of open derision even amongst those who recognise they need professional help (but could not find it because the Manx government closed down the facilities rather than pay the staff), it was necessary for their chums in government to find a new scam to subsidise them.
The answer, yet again, came from the UK government, who had set up Gamcare, a bogus ‘gambling dependency’ operation which creamed off income from the gambling industry as a condition of licensing and passed it to ‘therapists’ and ‘counsellors’ who (in theory) help anyone who thinks they might be getting in too deep to stop gambling. 
In practice, it keeps the new puritans off government backs, which is pretty funny considering that the puritans are the ones who spread the scare stories in order to set their churchgoing mates up as ‘third sector therapeutic charities’ in the first place. Which is exactly what the puritans did in the Isle of Man, with alcohol, drugs... and other issues of which they lack any practical, professional or academic knowledge.
If you like, you can see the latest local Gamcare scam at , and to find out more about how the UK is wasting both British money and the money it now creams off us, take a look at .
So do we have a gambling problem? Probably no more than anywhere less; in fact we have more chance of winning the lottery than finding evidence of addiction that would stand up.
But do we have a problem with underemployed parasites needing to justify their public subsidy? Yes.
The money currently creamed off by government from gambling companies to feed the therapy-giving addiction of a few disturbed people could equally well go to, say, schools or health. 
At most, only a one-off payment should be used to break their habit. After that, they really should seek private therapy and pay for it themselves. 
We can’t go subsidising these wasters from the public purse. If gambling really is annoying the over-sensitive sector of the populace - which I am not convinced is a large one – then let the gambling industry make some token annual donations to schools and hospitals and let us be done with the lecturing.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sark raving madness

Apologies for not posting recently, and further apologies in advance as I may not post much in coming weeks. Daytime reality, sadly, is getting in the way of my other interests.
But for now, this (see ) makes amusing reading to anyone who has been around offshore finance long enough to remember ‘the Sark Lark’.  
For those that don’t, it was a scam, ended around 2003 on ‘advice’ from the OECD Financial Action Task Force (see ), whereby Sark residents were recruited to act as ‘directors’ and’ trustees’ of shady offshore structures. Not professionals with business qualifications or experience of, say, banking and trust management, mind you, but simple souls who could just about spell their own names, and not much else. To be fair, Sark wasn’t the only place this happened in the bad old days, and much of the recruiting was done by Manx outfits whose staff will have now retired – some from senior government posts and with honours from Her Maj.
Actually, that isn’t the only reason it makes amusing reading. For some time I’ve been following the civil war on Sark between the locals and two unpopular newcomers (who just happen to run a large bank).
Private Eye has carried some of the best stories, but will give you a pretty good idea what Mr Kniveton is walking into. However, if you really want on-the-spot progress reports from a native, keep an eye on , where, somehow, I feel sure we will soon be reading a somewhat frank appraisal of his progress.  Meanwhile, if you’ve ever had dealings with Sark, take a read through to find what names behind the illegible scribbles on many a corporate document are doing since their old ‘business empires’ collapsed earlier this decade.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Evolution-deniers on tour

Since my last post I've been digging further into the subject, and it appears that the Isle of Man is just one source of  easy cash from slow-witted folk with deep pockets. In fact the professional evolution-denier in question is on something of a UK tour of science-free backwaters, starting next weekend.
What is more disturbing is that, while the intellectually-challenged elsewhere will only host Mackay’s wacko antics once before pointing the way to the next houseful of eejits,  the Isle of Man is letting him spew his guff an incredible SEVEN times. Admittedly, four of these are being hosted by Broadway Batwits, but one of them is described as a ‘youth service’, and that has to be really worrying. Especially if you consider that some of the likely punters include public and third sector ‘professionals' who deal with vulnerable sectors of society.
See the full itinerary at . Note at once the absence of a date in any venue which might be even loosely described as a font of academic (or even theological) wisdom. And even swivel-eyed loons like that are not dumb enough to listen to Mackay twice.
The Isle of Man as an emerging British Isles centre for conspiracy theorists, flat-earthers, and antics peculiar to three-nippled, cousin-marrying, superstitious peasants in general? What an awful vision! 
Not quite the international image our wise government pays all those PR agencies so much to create, is it?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Beware prats in tinfoil hats

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Grill in the Park, Nobles Park on the evening of 25th October or The Studio, Upper Car Park, Central Prom the following evening look out for people in tinfoil hats. Even if you spot people in more conventional dress entering these establishments you might want to make a note not to trust them with any important matter regarding you or those you care about.
The thing is, information passed to me indicates that the Manx Tinfoil Hat Tendency is fast gathering momentum. If you can bear to follow some of the recent odd exchanges on the local newspaper letters pages and IOM Newspapers website you know the sort of person, and their flaky views.
You would think that these freaks meet in the corners of dingy pubs at night (which quickly clear when they start talking) or perhaps the cheaper caffs during the day after they’ve signed on.  Surprisingly not, in fact it seems they are about to go into the after-dinner speaking lark.
In fact one John Mackay of Creation Research UK is due to make all but the wackiest upchuck their food on 25th and 26th October. As stuff I’ve seen suggests those arranging this visit are barely literate I’m not sure this is wise, but hey ho, any entrepreneur has to be encouraged during a recession.
 Mackay, if you’ll excuse the pun, is a real dinosaur of the Evolution Denial industry. He started in the 1970’s (so must now be over 60) and is now seemingly moving into Global Warming as his traditional market shuts down.
Creation Research UK is the European arm of an Aussie outfit, Creation Research, and Mackay pretty much runs both as a means to push DVDs and speaking tours of views he variously claims to be presenting as a scientific or theological academic (depending on the punters and venues). However, credible evidence of his expertise in either field seems as light as creationist evidence that the Bible should be taken literally.
The British Centre for Science Education (which IS run by scientists, and regards the likes of Mackay as menaces to the young and impressionable everywhere) says that:
“Mackay has a doctrinaire (dogmatic) belief in his religion; he has absolute belief in the absolute certainty of the revealed truth of the bible, as literally interpreted.
He was originally a school teacher and holds a degree in geology from a reputable Australian university (Queensland). What Mackay has never been is a professional, practising geologist. Despite the name of his ministry, he has never had a peer-reviewed article in any scientific or geological journal. Nor is the author of this report aware that he has ever submitted such a paper.
Mackay has also been described as a geneticist, presumably because he undertook a course in this subject as part of his BSc. However, one thing Mackay is not is a geneticist. What he would have learned in a 1st degree in geology is both years out of date and well below the breadth and depth of education which most consider necessary to be a practising geneticist. Mackay certainly has never practised as a geneticist.
Nor does Mackay appear to have any theological qualifications whatsoever.”
Actually, the BCSE study the professional creationist racket rather closely (for obvious reasons), but remain objective enough to ask the main players precisely what they mean to say, and how they mean to say it. In the course of this they uncovered something else about John Mackay.
Do not read until you first place a pillow below your chin. You will need it to prevent your jaw breaking when it hits the floor.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Three months later, and an answer arrives

Back in May (see ) I wondered why a professional religious bigot – a pariah, so I understand, even within Westminster Tory circles – would be visiting the Manx government’s Overseas Aid Committee. Perhaps, I idly mused, she was doing nothing more than paying a UK taxpayer funded visit to local pro-life chums. But I also wondered why, even though a government press release was issued, the usually compliant Manx media ‘forgot’ to run it at the time.
Today, at, I found the answer. 
Just to explain a little more. While in theory the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (England & Wales registered charity number 1107341) has seven trustees, in practice Caroline Cox founded it, very much runs the show and is indeed the sole official contact.
I’d like to believe Manx money will go to a needy cause and be used wisely. Because there are certainly people in the Sudan who desperately need our help. 
Unfortunately, given that the charity’s founder hangs out with career Islamophobes and homophobes, and seems to favour the sort of ‘overseas aid’ where rich countries give poorer ones a choice between starving or letting the donor countries choose the government and control their import/export trade, I am not too confident that we will help the victims, rather than a new set of opportunists. 
Shame really, because I also have little doubt that Phil Gawne has nothing but good intentions, and bravely continues a massive uphill struggle to maintain any sort of overseas aid funding.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Freak alert

As if older people on the Isle of Man don’t have enough to worry about (what with the second worst pensions in Europe and the closure of most useful government-run care facilities) now Manx wrinklies have Esther Rantzen leeching off them. At least, that’s the public warning I read today behind
I doubt there is any serious comment on Manx social life to be made by a professional prodnose and child-frightener who, almost single-handedly, could be held responsible for the explosion in British child-abuse, the decline of professional childcare and the seemingly unstoppable growth of the cod-psychological quackery industry that passes itself off as ‘child protection’. Faced with the growth of such emotional fascism and village-idiot level hysteria any halfway decent and responsible parent may sensibly decide to get a pump-action shotgun and be prepared to use it any time one of these freaks raises its empty head anywhere near the fruit of your loins.
I think that is becoming rather clear to many of us. Which may be why the goofy-toothed ‘mare is now being let loose on another vulnerable age-group, one which market research has indicated can be made into ‘victims’ ripe for exploitation by the lowest form of social menace known to humanity, the third sector ‘care professional’.
Anyway, what is this 21st century Matthew Hopkins (or at least whoever is feeding her local lines) on about?
 The worst social isolation for older Manx people I am aware of involves bright individuals getting on  a bit who find primitive superstition tiresome, and who are not only bored senseless by nonsensical small town chitchat, the maintenance of Edwardian social hierarchies and other such nonsense but have actually admitted it. The problem here, I humbly submit, is caused by a combination of a lazy, incompetent public sector and the churches too many of them go to (and which don’t even realise they are dead yet). Such numpties are therefore the last people on earth anyone should throw money at in order to ‘solve’ problems which they alone create, cause or perpetuate.
But as the likes of Rantzen say so often: “(Insert uncritical endorsement of your venal and exploitative pitch for public funds here). That will be a thousand pounds plus expenses please.” 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Another day, another sick joke

 The Department of Sick Jokes just gets sillier and sillier.
Earlier this year it  ran the worst government ‘consultation’ in Manx history before confirming vacuous pro-life freaks with double digit IQs will dictate all care of the terminally ill. Which is exactly what the faith-addled pro-life freak posing as a health minister and his hand-picked faith-addled pro-life advisors always intended to do anyway.
It is now letting loose possibly the least-informed bunch of amateur prodnoses ever to register as a Manx charity (quite an achievement, given the sheer range of superstitious dullards and bored rich parasites already causing misery and chaos amongst the local dispossessed) to provide “open access, support and advice services for addictions.”
See and try not to burst out laughing.
There is some small compensation in knowing that this will be a complete waste of time. For example, the Department of Hopeless Affairs solemnly assured us not so long ago that the island does not have anywhere near the drug problems all the ESPAD surveys they underwrote said we have. For another, once you plod your way through the details of an expensive survey a few years ago which was supposed to save the AAS’s funding you discover that, actually, the survey of young people, well….wasn’t…. because the academics running it couldn’t find any young people. So they asked eight or ten random older bods instead and then just converted the whole thing into percentages which figured in scary press releases, which were dutifully run by a compliant press who simply never bothered to read the research.
To their credit, as they had to get it published in an academic journal to build up their own claim to be proper academics, the researchers did admit this. True, they only said it in a publication which the government though was only available at huge cost to academic institutions, but anyone (well, me) determined to track it down can find it for free. So, when government ‘experts’ claim to know about drinking patterns amongst the young (or indeed any age group or sub-sector of Manx society) I can just snigger with impunity, because unlike them I’ve actually read the evidence they commissioned. 
The dumbest thing is that, way before the latest troupe of clowns gained control of the Sick Department, we even had a perfectly adequate facility for dealing with alcoholics and some professionally qualified staff to run it. But rather than pay the going NHS rate for staff, the government left it empty for a year or two. Now they are handing money to a bunch of quacks without so much as a science GCSE between them, who are busily trolling local churches for even more clueless volunteers to do the actual counselling.
Please laugh loudly, and often, and then treat yourself to a drink…or possibly two. Considering how much we’re paying to keep these chumps in pointless employment I think we’ve all earned it.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Of freaks who come out at night

A while back I was laughing at the clueless ‘street pastor’ scheme, whereby those few special constables the Manx police force can persuade to patrol Douglas’s deadly dull streets as the pubs chuck out now at least have brightly clad evangelical ‘care in the community’ cases to talk to.
As I said at the time, this bonkers phenomenon seems to be taking off in quiet towns with no history of late night disturbances – which seemed odd. The only common traits seemed to be grandstanding small town politicians along with close links between redneck police forces and the most mentally challenged brands of the godbothering racket. In short, a recipe for more faith-based lunacy and another drain on the rates.
It was no surprise that such nonsense would eventually reach the island – given the number of what P. J. O’Rourke calls ‘moral buttinskis’ blundering around government buildings looking for a handout – but if geriatric spinsters want to make up for wasted lives by watching daft adolescents spew down their tasteless T-shirts around Friday midnight, let them. Got to be more fun than flower arranging or whatever else they spent their previous six or seven decades doing.
Now a friend ‘across the water’ (he's another close observer of faith-based lunacy) has more evidence of this fad. It started when he noticed a Guardian article (see uncritically parrot an obvious press release (see in more detail at ). So far, so unsurprising. Private Eye, amongst others, has noted that even the press bible of the bleeding heart liberal is carrying rather a lot of one-sided twaddle from rank amateurs at present – possibly linked to the same falling sales and staff layoffs the entire print press industry is seeing.
Note at once – eerily similar claims and stories, which give away the source of all such stories as a common one, which is certainly not any of the dreary bible-bashers currently causing small town drunks to redecorate high street pavements with even more of the alcohol and spirits industry’s produce even faster.
The stunning thing about these phenomena is that the movement has spread around the UK without one police force doing background checks which should immediately interest any half-awake Fraud Squad. 
The 'charity' behind it is the Ascension Trust, which has actually been registered twice. First in 1994, when it managed to run until 2010 without once filing accounts or even basic information to the England & Wales Charity Commission. In turn,  behind that was an odd evangelical from Ghana who I seem to remember was the subject of numerous complaints and suspicions - never investigated because of his friendship with police officers who tried to introduce the Guardian Angels (also closely linked with evangelicals - Seventh Day Adventists in that case) to London. 
In 2008 the Ascension Trust re-registered but still didn't file any accounts until 2010 (i.e. the last possible moment before the Charity Commission could have instigated strike-off). The source of £682,20K of the £776.20K declared income is described only vaguely as ‘charitable activities’, and the 'charity' doesn't do any fundraising. In short, since 1994 the charity has never made any satisfactory explanation as to how it raises funds or what it does with the loot, and has been allowed to get away with this on the dubious grounds that it is a religious group 'helping' busy police with good works.
If you check the latest examples, you'll see that the new groups tend to start in quiet towns with no record of late night violence and general drunken disorder, and the volunteers tend to be elderly white churchgoers of limited education and - well, let's just say they tend to have had quiet lives!  This is significant, as is the way that new groups spring up in areas where godbotherers have more than a little influence on local police through police liaison committees and so on, and also places where professional police officers are being pulled off the street in favour of either special constables or those community wardens/police support officers (i.e. volunteers and part-timers with little or no training and no powers of arrest).
 Police, councils and indeed the organisers of the new groups have all bought into the myth that the charity started in inner-city, multi-racial London giving practical help to police and calming potentially violent situations - a myth which seems ever less likely, especially given that the first version of the trust was so carelessly recorded by officialdom. As the new groups spring up, the original myth is being buried and only the claimed exploits of the new volunteers are recorded by journos who don't find time to look further, and the press cuttings in turn are the evidence offered for the next group along the line to start. Perhaps there's also some sort of franchise deal where the groups are expected to make a contribution to the Ascension Trust from whatever 'expenses' or 'charitable donations' local authorities make to their 'patrols'.
Steady little earner for the trustees, I’m sure, but probably only par for the course. Evangelical scamsters everywhere feed on not so much actual social unrest as the lazy tabloid mythologising, then use it to pimp their dubious schemes to cash-strapped local authorities. Public money is thrown down the drain, but no actual lives are altered for the better. All window-dressing, but do we blame the venal bible-bashers and their pyramid schemes, incompetent local authorities, lying local politicians, or lazy local press? Or all of the above?
And should we worry enough to stop it, or should we just have a quiet chuckle at yet another crazy addition to the curious subculture that passes for modern nightlife?
(hat tip to John Hunt)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Sick Note

According to a government press release this week (see ) ordinary members of the public are being invited to apply for six voluntary positions as Members of the newly-restructured and independent Health Services Consultative Committee (HSCC).
At this point, any Manx resident who has ever turned up for a routine hospital check or procedure only to be told that  the doctor didn’t, or the appointment was changed weeks ago but nobody bothered to tell you, or even that the clinic or service itself has been axed (i.e. pretty much anyone who uses the health service but isn’t related to a doctor or politician) will be thinking ‘Oh good, about time they got some feedback from ordinary punters.’
Except that they won’t.
Because: “To ensure that members are independent of the Health Service the members will be appointed by the Appointments Commission and will be appointed for a period of three years. Applicants do not need any formal qualifications, but a positive interest in the performance and delivery of Health Services would be very advantageous. Applicants should not be clinically qualified or be currently, or previously have been, employed in the Health Service.”
In plain English, that’s thickos with no knowledge or interest in the work only, appointed by a government puppet show remarkable only for each puppet’s ability to obey orders without question and be incapable of thought, which itself was chosen by a Sunday lunch sweep of the same desperate dives government ministers and civil servants hang out in.
The real question, then, is: ‘Where will the Appointments Commission find six individuals of such low intelligence and with such a small social circle that they don’t realise how badly the Health Department is being run, and by such  faith-addled throwbacks?’
Just a wild guess here, but how about in the same church pews they found the Appointments Commission and the health mismanagers?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Even atheism has a tinfoil-hat tendency

I am bored by so called ‘rationalist’ and ‘secular’ groups at the moment. In fact the poorly disguised racism and flat-earth thinking prevalent on even usually sane and witty websites and forums bores me so much I’ve withdrawn permanently from some and may stop looking in on others until the nonsense abates.
Inevitably, the sad case of Shafila Ahmed brought out the bigots in force but then, as a veteran anti-racist, I’ve always known how the fash and their kissing cousins like to infiltrate and poison the unlikeliest forums. Sadly, if any well meaning secularist points out, say, a problem caused by Muslim fundamentalism or orthodox Catholic thinking then it quickly becomes an invitation for the pub bore to jump in – and when you mention Judaism all kinds of freaks crawl out of the graveyard of ideas we all thought they’d been confined to since 1945.  
Some years back I was perturbed to see a flat-out UKIP lie circulated as ‘fact’ in a BHA forum, and more recently names I recognise as dreary BNP klingons were trying to start ‘skeptic’ and ‘atheist’ groups which – rather curiously - seemed far more intent on spreading common folk myths about Islam than exploring their origins and then debunking them along with the religious mythology they claim to be worried about. When even one of the atheist world’s best known women academics says she is avoiding some secular conferences after getting death threats from misogynistic male skeptics you know things are out of hand.
It rather proves the point I try to make to such fundamentalists. They assume 'All Muslims are....' (as if every Muslim lives in a tiny closed  community with no access to others, and has no interaction within other communities) and also assume 'All atheists are...' (as if every atheist was also a non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic progressive liberal, when every second comment on every secular website shows that all they have in common is a professed disbelief in the supernatural, while the vast majority are all too willing to swallow whole the most common folk myths about every sector of society).
Still, I hadn’t realised just how bad things were until I sent a jokey response in to a NSS Newsline item concerning a Revelation Channel report on Mitt Romney's visit to Israel, in which it was claimed that he mentions Israel a lot because "Israel is mentioned in the Bible more than any other country".
Things, I should explain, have been a bit dull on Newsline recently. The stories from the two producers are as sharp and relevant as ever, but they invite reader letters in response, and I suspected they have been ready to slash their wrists at the drivel from non-religious ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ types which have featured in recent months. So, tongue-in-cheek, I pointed out that “Reliable sources insist that the State of Israel came into being on 14th May 1948”, and that if he “is correct, (and as a deeply religious man and avid Bible-reader running for the most powerful job on earth surely he must be)” I wondered “would Mr. Romney accept that the Gutenberg Bible, all such historical Bibles held in museums around the world, and all those Bibles passed down for centuries and so solemnly read on Sundays in our nation's best known churches must be forgeries?”
I readily admit I do this every few months on NSS and other forums to draw out and wind up the flat-earthers. Anyone who knows me well can testify that when asked in interviews for my hobbies I always reply “Winding up fundamentalists until they explode”, so my refusal to take ‘serious’ topics, well….seriously is hardly a state secret. I picked up the idea from the late Robert Anton Wilson, who worried about ‘the New Inquisition’ – those who create a scientific orthodoxy that can no more be questioned than a mediaeval pope – and thought that the best way to draw attention to a ludicrous failure to approach things with an open mind was to poke fun with a very straight face. Usually it works, and I get a few e-mails from friends who had a giggle, but this time not just one but two herberts who probably think they are models of sane and sober rationality replied to Newsline trying to ‘correct’ my ‘mistake’ about the birth of Israel.
DUH!!! (Bangs head on desk in stunned disbelief before falling off the chair shrieking with laughter). It’s tempting to reply in turn asking if there’s an e-mail equivalent of the ‘SATIRE’ sign that used to flash on and off during Monty Python sketches, but is there much point?
So, all a bit sad, and by comparison I heartily recommend you read the reply sent to a BNP pamphleteer by one Dick Wolff, who describes himself as a United Reformed Church minister and Green Party  councillor for Oxford City. You can read it at and I think the sane and humane attitude expressed will make your day, as it did mine. Mr. Wolff may be a believer in things I cannot rationally accept as true, but is certainly someone I would be glad to count as a friend - unlike the tinfoil-hatters currently crowding to sites I used to think of as refuges for the purely rational.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Pay back time

Sometimes (but not often) that nonsense machine that some call the Manx media throws up some genuine good news. And so it was when I read on the Energy FM website that: “This year's Firestarter Festival has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.”
Yes, I also had problems believing that hardcore evangelical tub-thumpers can ever admit a plain truth, but go to if you want to see for yourselves.
Even better is the final sentence of a short and unhappy press release in which the organisers promise that:  “Those people who have bought tickets will receive a full refund.”
So, it seems to be official then. Manx fundamentalists are admitting that - even with many wealthy and unscrupulous friends - they cannot round up enough kids to voluntarily attend their annual weekend prayerfest. Even worse, it seems they no longer have enough friends in the social and probation services to drag some along involuntarily, then send the government the bill.
I wonder which realisation hurt most. The one that no amount of pleading from the pulpit or promises of free sweets in ‘educational support groups’ was going to harvest enough victims (sorry ‘visitors’), or the really frightening one to any evangelical - that they actually have to pay back money received for services they were never going to deliver.
Despite the brave talk, I also doubt they will ‘Do a Terminator’ and come back next year twice as big and twice as ugly.
Gone for good, I think……. and forget about ‘The Rapture’.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hot air, (ba)lunatic debate

I have tried to follow the pseudo-debate about Overseas Aid in the nominally local press without laughing. Really, I have.
It started off when some junior league Ayn Rand groupie asked why we don’t just abandon the whole concept of overseas aid – or at least that individuals should decide for themselves what to give through charity, instead of having their taxes spent by a government committee. Fair enough question, if somewhat belligerently put, and for the next week or so the papers carried exchanges in which the government minister who chairs the Overseas Aid committee put some fair answers. As did the retired PR guru who pretty much bankrolls the One World Centre now that government are pulling out and the business sector have never put in, who…well……didn’t, to be honest.
At this point a local finance sector figure – a real dinosaur who I honestly thought by now was just urinating what few brain cells remain against a wall while leaving younger, sober minds to run his business –decided to have a pop. Predictably he took an obscure example of African ‘misspending’ dredged up from an American ‘academic publication’ produced by and for finance sector throwbacks who never got over the end of apartheid. And predictably he could not equate this to any Manx overseas aid project, because many of them favour faith-based charities and religion is almost as sacred as racism and misogyny to the sponsors of such publications.
I didn’t expect the ‘other side’ would have an answer and they didn’t. A teacher who acts as the Global Poverty Project Ambassador (in between throwing her hands in the air down at Living Hell) did point out that he hadn’t actually mentioned a Manx project before descending into the usual happy-clappy twaddle about helping the unfortunate. We were then promised a letter page full of ‘argument’ in today’s Excrement.
We also got more in last week’s Indifferent about the GPP’s attempt to get up a petition (see Incidentally, as they’ve been putting this about for months and the numbers haven’t risen I suspect the Mannifest crowd took no more interest than the rest of the island.
So, I eagerly open today’s Excrement only to find ..well…just more of the same old really. Hitler’s Grannies (Mothers Union), who’ve bagged £28K from the committee thus far to religiously brainwash developing world kids but are looking for £42K in all, more from other figures who pretty much depend on the committee for a job, but neglect to mention that they advise it…and that was about it. Ho hum!
The funniest thing is that it would take a competent journalist about two minutes to spot a huge joke. 
Out of curiosity, I looked up the Global Poverty Project, and as their main website is vague about their real origins and purpose (which immediately tells me there’s a well-funded practitioner of the grey arts hovering in the background) I looked a little further and got some answers at , which gives perfunctory detail on the real management – or at least the team assembled by others to put the case for the unidentified sponsors.
In particular note PriceWaterhouseCoopers, auditors to some of the nastiest companies and worryingly willing to sign off some of the oddest accounting strategies, Bell Pottinger, founded on Tim Bell’s use of direct marketing techniques to socially isolate and demoralise the miners for Margaret Thatcher and more recently PR merchants to the most sickening dictators, and The University of Western Australia’s Religion and Globalisation Initiative, which is pretty self-explanatory.
What I suspect we’re really looking at is major churches looking to control the aid industry and major business investors in the developing world who are happy for this to happen because faith-based charities (unlike, say, local political groupings or the international trade union movement) never interfere with serious business investors who, in return, cut their tax bills further with token sponsorship of religious charities and their local church partners - who give token relief after the tragedy while also propping up the anti-democratic business and political hierarchies which are keeping the locals dispossessed.
I really wish this wasn’t the case, and that some useful and productive Manx debate about the possible need, purpose, form and methodology of overseas aid was kicking off here, but it just isn’t. If it ever did, all of us should be willing to join in. 
But for now, do we even enter social and moral arguments thus far confined on one side to the type of emotional blackmail which religious groups do so well and on the other to the knee-jerk appeals to personal greed and fear of ‘big government’ by which the ‘New Right’ seek to distract us from discussing real life issues? At this point, I simply do not know.
For now, this seems one of many topics currently destined not to be fully explored until we find the courage to raise them, and of course the time and energy to explore and research far more thoroughly first. Until we do, I fear that on the Isle of Man we may be powerless spectators of pointless pseudo-debates.
I sometimes howl with laughter at the sad, simplistic techniques and agendas of those involved. My only excuse is that (1) if I stopped laughing I could get angry at the deceit and (2) that clampets like this are never that effective in the real world anyway, so no more lives are lost whichever pseudo-side pseudo-wins.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London Olympics , where the workers lose much more than the competitors

Well, shame about Mark Cavendish, but at least he earns millions. So, less to complain about than ordinary workers getting screwed over by the Olympic racket.
Take Adidas, which put up an estimated US$122 to plaster its name all over the London Olympics, and expects to reap billions in sales in return.  And I bet they paid up that cash in advance, or far faster than they pay what’s owed to redundant workers in developing countries.
For example, it continues to refuse to offer just US$1.8 million in long-overdue severance pay to workers laid off from its shuttered Indonesian supplier, PT Kizone. Adidas stonewalled for 18 months while workers battled to get money they were owed under Indonesian law. Then after global pressure forced the company to meet with workers, the final offer was an insult: a food voucher for each worker worth just € 43 - roughly the value of a London 2012 t-shirt.
If Adidas can sponsor the Olympics, it can afford its obligation to workers. If you agree, sign the petition at demanding that Adidas pay laid off workers what it owes.
Then there’s the Olympic cleaners being accommodated in East London sheds. In a portakabin  village they sleep 10 to a room, share the toilet with 25 others and the shower with 75. Some women left, refusing to sleep in mixed sex cabins with men they didn’t know. Those that stayed have to stump up £18 a day, despite not working for the first two weeks. Heavy rain means a flooded site with many cabins leaking and crates for stepping stones.
Many of the workers were recruited abroad for the contract, despite the company’s promise that it would mean local jobs. Planning was granted and welfare conditions totally ignored by the council because the site is only temporary.
So, blatant exploitation in a time of crisis being sold as a ‘national event’, with some scumbags taking advantage of both local and worldwide unemployment. What a surprise.
If this sickens you too, join the call for decent accommodation for Olympic cleaners at .

Sunday, 22 July 2012

PR not news, monologue not debate

BBC Wales has an article about a Church of Wales survey into the future of their churches (see
Two things are interesting to me. Firstly, how similar the apparent picture is to that in the ‘recent’ Manx survey (i.e. a survey which was completed a few years back, and some edited highlights were partially revealed to us civilians recently). Secondly, why BBC Wales gave it prominent airtime.
As with the half-formed religious droppings we get in the nominally Manx media, nothing this ‘shocking’ about a major church denomination gets into the ‘national press’ unless that organization put it there and negotiated the manner in which it would be ‘independently’ reported. 
Sorry to burst anybody’s bubble here, but there are no dedicated reporters doggedly rooting out such stories and doorstepping powerful but embarrassed figures for a quote. The 21st century media business does not work like that.
If you compare what is happening locally, it is far more likely that the C of E’s PR merchant delivered a ready cooked ‘story’ to the radio news desk, who just reheated it before shoving it down the public’s throats. The purpose is to ‘spark public debate’ about how churches can survive in the 21st century. Except that the church involved has already had that ‘debate’ privately and internally and is not about to let us heathens make informed comment.
For a decade or more it has also been (1) negotiating with government over massive public subsidy and (2), at least partially with the feedback of those government negotiations advising ‘area management’ on spotting ‘business opportunities’(such as the closure of local shops, post offices and youth facilities) or heritage schemes where applications for grant aid and start-up business funding will be treated very favourably and churches dead from the ground up get ‘reinvented’ as ‘community facilities’. The community, of course, has no say in such matters – especially as a popular response might be ‘More bigotry and brainwashing on the rates? No thanks!’
The worst ones we see here include massive government help to renovate the empty cathedral as an 'educational resource' (offering very dubious exhibitions and materials, I might add) and another where government seem to be handing an awful evangelical outfit land zoned for social housing and community resources to build a church -cum-'community centre' (thus getting out of providing the town the real youth and community centre it has been begging for over two decades).
The new ‘voucher system’ for nurseries is, I suspect, another stitch-up. Note, for example, the well timed and ‘coincidental’ comments of the Mothers Union when key beneficiaries will include right wing churches, now actually being paid to abuse kids too small to crawl away.
When organized religion reduces itself to nothing but a tacky business I wish that just one politician or civil servant would have the guts to suggest removing the charitable status. Make them operate like proper businesses with proper legal checks and balances, and make them pay taxes instead of leeching off a disinterested public. 
Until I hear that suggestion made - and an opportunity to consider it seriously - this is not a debate but another monologue from a privileged party. That party has nothing useful to say and far too many opportunities to say it in a media closed to any genuine contribution from the general public.

Educational cream - rich, thick and a mental health risk

I have long suspected that private education - for all the massive fees and tiny class sizes - cannot deliver the goods. Seeing some of the ‘products’, you might also be forgiven for thinking they are increasingly havens for thickos too posh to be branded ‘special needs’. 
Like their forebears, once graduated such numbskulls get packed off to some far flung place where they can crash about and wreck lives without news ever leaking back here and ruining the family name. Certainly, there is always a risk they might retire here later and enter Manx politics – and some have – but as they will have civil servants to tie them into their chairs and spoon-feed them until they go totally gaga this need not worry us unduly.
After spotting this bunkum (see about an exercise to further line the pockets of a dodgy overseas mission I am surer than ever that my suspicions are correct. With even basic research they would have discovered that this orphanage - like other fronts for evangelical Christianity in India - is technically a criminal organization.
It will do no useful work, and like similar organizations in other ‘poor’ countries, actually prevent genuine local projects and government agencies from getting international funding. Such scams are only tolerated by the Indian government because previous attempts to crack down on faith-based fraud (most notoriously Mother Teresa’s misogynist, homophobic fundraisers posing as ‘homelessness shelters’ and ‘hospitals’) got them into trouble with the powerful political allies of the hatemonger.
Any worries I had that my child could lose out against privileged kids are over. If any parent is dumb enough to shell out several grand a year for ‘teaching’ of this quality, they also deserve to pay for the lifetime of care in a secure mental institution they have condemned little Tarquin or Tabitha to when they grow up.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Dying without dignity or choice

On Friday, (at about the time the island workforce was going home so nobody would be paying attention) the Manx government's Department of (ill) Health announced that their dodgy survey on ‘End of Life Care’ is done and dusted.
The title of the press release (‘Dignity and choice at the heart of Island’s first ever End of Life Care Framework’) is an outright lie. The plan offers neither to any dying person with more than a few functioning brain cells and the desire to actually choose, rather than be told, how to die. The opening sentence, in which it is claimed that the framework comes “after 18 months of a detailed research and analysis into end of life care elsewhere, as well as a review of the care available in the Isle of Man”, is also untrue. Even the briefest glance at the 38 page document reveals that SO did not happen..
Looking at some of the shady characters with cheesy grins on the photo accompanying the release, this should surprise nobody. Take a peek at  and see what I mean.
Turning to what is laughingly described as a ‘care plan’ itself (see ), as soon as I saw the quote from Cicely Saunders (the superstitious airhead behind the ’Hospice Movement’) I started to suspect how poorly this ‘survey’ was done. Any government publication which includes – anywhere - material from someone lauded by those notorious religious apologists the Templeton Foundation deserves to be treated with utter, utter contempt. Beside Saunders, other winners of the Templeton Prize include religious marketer and all round bigot Billy Graham and Mother Teresa, that notorious economic parasite on the poor and dying. I think you catch my drift.
But, being a proper researcher, I did try to set gut instincts aside, so then looked at what documents were quoted in the appendices. Sadly, the narrow, one-sided and utterly inadequate selection of ‘research material’ further confirmed my suspicions.
Then I checked the names on the ‘steering group’, only to find far too many names I’ve learnt to associate with an ability to swallow whole religious, pseudo-moralistic twaddle (and at least two who I know never take a moral decision without consulting a priest) or to bury anything resembling evidence that the government policy they are paid to produce might just be flawed.
The ‘plan’ runs to 38 pages, but I could summarize it in four sentences.
“We’re superstitious and so are most of our tunnel-visioned friends. We don’t listen to anyone else – especially if they have academic or professional experience which contradicts our childish beliefs. Dying? Not our problem, once we’ve milked you for all we can you’re on your own.”

Centres of Excrement

This (see ) worries me. Not a lot – yet – because over the years a lot of idiots have put forward a lot of grandiose schemes to ‘save’ Ramsey, which all fell flat.
Sometimes, it must be admitted, after conning huge wads of public money, and sometimes after wrecking sober plans for decent change which might otherwise have been considered. But they fell, because their proposers and sponsors were idiots so it follows naturally that their schemes were idiotic too.
So is this, because if lunacy was an Olympic discipline this fundament of faith-based folly could win gold without getting out of bed. Which many of their clientele don’t do too often anyway. In fact, judging from the scenes some days around their current den of iniquity the whole CotR empire may be built on tithes from the benefits of the permanently unemployable.
Which is why I worry at least a little. Because if they cannot put up the money for this project, then who is?
Without even digging, I can think of two local developers with form for pulling shady deals using religious groups as a front. In both cases literally millions in public funds and years of effort by public servants have been wasted already. I hope neither of them is up to their old tricks, because if they are the results will be a further disaster for Ramsey.
 But it beggars belief anyway that the Manx government is so willing to give away a valuable chunk of land which is supposed to be earmarked for social housing and community facilities.
And it is a massive insult that the simple and persistent request by Ramsey people for a decent community centre could be answered by letting a ragbag collection of right wing religious lunatics not only plan it, but control it.
Apart from anything else, the best rule of thumb a sane person can have for planning forays into local cultural life is to find out where batwits go to eat or entertain themselves, then avoid it like the plague.
Do you know anyone who has had a wedding reception or ‘charitable function’ at Mount Murray? What church do they and their guests go to?
I rest my case, but would you really want the entire potential for community life in your town controlled by some jazz-handing Jesus junkie clad in beige polyester?
If this freak show gets government help it won’t even be a case of “Will the last person to leave Ramsey turn out the lights.” 
Because there won’t be any lights to turn out. I wouldn’t put it past this lot to nick the light bulbs and sell the lamposts for scrap.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Art attacks

 I was struck by  the news (see that local artists are being invited to submit ideas for ‘public art’ in Laxey and Ramsey. In particular, I was amused by the time at which the government culture muppet planned to introduce the scheme.
Who but the usual gaggle of pensioners and dossers have time to meet some Arts Council bigwig mid-day? And who else would want to anyway?
Back in the 1980’s, I knew the few vaguely competent Manx art pros who still lived here, and they all had day jobs. That wasn’t because the general populace failed to appreciate the arts (not any more than the general populace anywhere else, anyway), but because the only commissions on offer were to produce ambient tat for yuppies or oil paintings of and for the same wealthy inbreeds who run this gaff today. If you were serious, or just had any self-respect, you produced if and when you could for patrons elsewhere and held down some rubbish job to feed your family. Most eventually moved away, leaving the field wide open for the idiot spawn of bankers who now hoover up contemporary art commissions (as none of them can even hold down a cleaning job in Daddy’s office, never mind take over the firm).
 So, looks like the Kulchur dumsters are about as serious as they ever were about tarting up the town. And…. oh Lawdy Lawdy…. we do got public art in Ramsey already!
For a start we have the infamous ‘Two crusties playing chess’ sculpture inside our dull if functional Town Hall (though if the sculptor had really been paying attention those fictional figures so finely rendered in stone from some quarry clearance sale would be doing the 10th century equivalent of grumbling about their benefits amongst discarded Special Brew tins, just like their descendants).
Then we have that odd and ugly ‘millennium’ slab outside Shoprite which nobody can figure out or find a use for. Presumably it is meant to signify something Christian (and could only have been approved by an entire committee of godbothering rednecks), but is more like a logo for a dodgy fascist cult - as conceived by the architect of a brutalist 1960’s multi-storey car park or council housing complex.
Oh, and never forget (if only we could!) ‘The Muriel’ in the picnic area by the Swing Bridge, which serves the same purpose as one of those ultrasonic devices meant to deter kids from gathering in public areas. It seems to work. You certainly never see anyone there under the age of 60 and mentally competent enough to dress themselves.
So, what do we make of this latest breathless announcement then?
Can either the talent of today’s generation of artists or the taste of today’s generation of culture bores bring something new and exciting to this town?
That would be a ‘No’.

Friday, 6 July 2012

My Tynwald Day - no mud, no parasites, no regrets

It has become almost a tradition that either on or just after Tynwald Day I come on here to report how bad it was.
 Sorry, not this year. As a matter of fact, I spent longer than usual in St. Johns yesterday and had a great time. Mostly because I was busy well away from the ‘official’ disaster zone. I spent the grand total of 15 minutes laughing at the usual sad collection of losers, shysters and bigots who these days frequent what used to be the ‘charities field’ drowning in mud behind the Tynwald Grandstand before wandering back down the hill, where both the drainage and the company were far superior.
I should explain that Amnesty International have never been welcome on the charities field. We have this annoying habit of pointing out what politicians in the real world get up to, and highlighting (not deliberately by the way) abuses by some of the dictators, corporate entities and military throwbacks the Manx government sees fit to invite to the ceremony in any given year.
Some years we struggled with mundane problems – like erecting our stall the night before, only to find it demolished by a passing burger van. Some years we even arrived to find ‘forces unknown’ had moved the entire stall to another spot, handily out of the eye line of that year’s royal visitor should she, he or it be guided around the field by a fawning minister. This was in the years when you just ‘booked’ your stall by queuing at the Wedding Cake after the announcement in the Examiner, so it was first come, first served for a decent spot.
Then government changed the rules, so only ‘Manx charities’ were eligible, with the other spots going to commercial enterprises who paid dearly for a day’s licence to distribute botulism - or just PR to cover up their participation in the decimation of emerging democracies. Amnesty is not a charity, and as being a Manx one involves collaborating with the Manx government (and in many cases accepting money in return for that collaboration) we never can be. For a year or two we piggybacked on the stalls of those more willing to put profit (or just survival) before principle, but we also had to tone down the campaigns so as not to discomfit our hosts.
This year we were part of an experiment – to put local groups who work in other countries and local residents with roots in other countries together – in the gardens behind the One World Centre. It worked well. For a start we got a much bigger space to work, close to decent amenities, and no censorship.  
Sure, I had a grandstand view of the religious bigwigs who water down or divert the potential for a project like the OWC as they sat around a picnic table pretending they had thought the whole day up. They did not. I can state that as a fact, having caused most of the publicity myself after working with two people who did put the day together as they were failing to get any.
Still, they are harmless – at least compared to the average civil servant – and some of them both mean well and do some good elsewhere. Certainly it was amusing that they carefully avoided the Amnesty tent, but if you are in the myth industry I suppose hard facts must be a terrible distraction - possibly even a sin.
There were two added attractions. One is that the worst evangelical drains upon developing countries declined the OWC invitation and stuck to the ‘official’ charity field, where they could grub for money without inconvenient evidence of the damage done in those countries by their US allies. The other was that we got to talk to people with first hand experience of the outrages Amnesty kicks off about. People, for example, who told stories about parents punished for opposing the Marcos regime, or who had relatives and friends who had seen the Lords Day Resistance Army in action.
I have more contact than most with new residents from lesser known countries, but I was still staggered at what a wealth of knowledge was revealed yesterday by some of the people who passed through our tent. If only we could get them into our schools instead of those neo-colonial chancers linked to religious oppressors our education department seems to prefer.
Eventually, both social change and education on the island will happen because of people like that, and not ‘the professionals’. It was such a joy and privilege to spend our national day with them - instead of being bogged down in the mud with those who hold us back.

Little white li(n)es

Ever since the story broke on Energy FM (see & I’ve been laughing at the mess the local semi-pro temperance industry has got itself into.  Now, those whose very income derives from a scam pulled by a few evangelical panhandlers a decade ago are joining in the ‘condemnation’ (see, which has me rolling round the floor one again.
I particularly loved: “The spokesman added: ‘If the Isle of Man had the highest level of cocaine use in the world per head of population, as suggested by the World Drug Report, drug-related crime would be extremely high to enable addicts to feed their habits.”
Why? Because the cocaine cult hit the island in the early 1980’s as a fashion brought here by young financiers and those in related trades. I even remember the wife of one up and coming legal professional sporting a cute little gold plated fingernail – which baffled her elders but was considered very amusing amongst her peers. By comparison, over-the-hill rockers came here to get away from such temptations.
 Coke just isn’t a housing estate kiddiewink sort of drug – even when international prices started tumbling. The only Class A which ever caught on locally outside wealthier circles was Ecstasy (which serious drug prevention professionals agree should never have been a Class A anyway) and even that only for a short period.
So, just to fill in the missing links here …..
Early in the last decade Manx evangelical klingons (who depend on government for handouts) were looking for a new scam at about the same time UK tabloids were kicking off about underage drinking, as well as dredging up that ‘silly season’ staple, D-R-U-U-U-G-G-S-S-S! “Bingo”, said aforementioned klingons (thought they couldn’t say that now, of course, as their latest scam is gambling addiction). Out of this came that panhandling pantechnicon we know and laugh at, the Chief Minister’s Task Farce on Alcohol and Drugs.
Almost every local professional directly involved with young people or health couldn’t keep a straight face around these wowsers, so they needed hard ‘evidence’ to justify their continued existence – not to mention the public subsidy of their church buddies. The answer was for the island to join ESPAD (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs), which sets a Europe-wide questionnaire every five years, carried out by ‘proper academics’ according to the same format in every participant country, then publishes the results.
 As I’ve mentioned before on here, for numerous reasons known to social science researchers ESPAD surveys have to be taken with  a large pinch of salt, and certainly cannot be taken as a ‘stand alone’ statement on youth drug use. For years, as it did not suit their purposes, neither the Manx temperance industry nor their civil service friends have acknowledged this. They still will not on other moral panics (alcohol, gambling…), and still deliberately choose badly structured ‘surveys’ by bargain basement academics well past their sell-by date to justify their continued, totally pointless, existence and claims on the public purse.
But I do not include David Quirk in my dismissal of total drivel produced by hardcore parasites. He came to his role well after all this dishonesty, and played no part in setting the original scam up. I’ve had a few dealings with him, and know him as an old school Labourite – a working man who went into politics to do the right thing for his community, and to my certain knowledge in his own time, unpaid, he still puts the skills of his old trade to use for old dears in emergencies.
David takes people at their word unless given hard evidence not to do so, and will be taking the word of government advisors - people who are supposed to be professionals - as true here. But as the ESPAD survey which the ‘new, improved’ DHA takes issue with is actually the second in which the island took part, and has been the basis of government expenditure on drug and alcohol ‘education’ and prevention for a decade, it is interesting that the DHA (without whose participation neither survey could have taken place) now dismisses the findings. On that basis, shouldn’t DHA executives – for example –offer to pay back the money given to the Drug Squad during those years?
I wait with amusement to see what ‘alternative’ survey the Manx amateur ‘substance-abuse-prevention’ industry will come up with now that they’ve shot their own golden goose. It has to (a) sound impressive (b) be comprised of statistics nobody can check and (c) according to parameters which can only conclude that we need a handful of clueless, god-bothering wasters who would be otherwise unemployable to run the ‘prevention industry’(rather than, say, qualified professionals with a background in medicine, nursing or pharmacy) . It also has to be produced in such a way that the findings can never reach academic researchers who might take an informed interest in comparative drug use in communities around the UK or world and the reasons behind that, who would immediately pull the methodology and stats to pieces and cause the Manx government further embarrassment.
Tough job, but I’m sure some bible-touting chancer can be found to do it.