Saturday, 31 March 2012

Too lazy to even poke fun properly

Excuse my recent apathy. I wish I had a good excuse – but the truth is that (a) I decided that I cannot be bothered with ‘serious’ topics any more and (b) nothing much in the Manx news or even accounts of international religious idiocy has tickled my ribs recently.
The thing is, I once believed the local newspaper (and possibly even regional radio) could hold up a mirror to the community, chronicling its ups and downs, shining a vital light on dark doings and so on.
I now accept that this is no longer possible - at least in the Isle of Man. The local media is nothing but a nonsense box, reduced to reproducing the inanities of those who feed it most. So from now on I intend to leave ‘real’ journalism to those who live in delusions of a real world, and concentrate instead on surreally reporting the odd, the hilarious and the genuinely interesting.
However, the first details of one of the most cringeworthy weekends in the annual Manx leisure calendar have just been released (see and I cannot resist a quick smirk.
Oh dear!
Pardon my hilarity, but there is just something about the upper middle classes trying (and failing) so desperately to be hip that brings out the old Class War punk in me. I must have worked with more than my fair share of Tarquins and Gemimas in the Finance Sector over the last decade or so, and the funniest thing about them is their deluded leisure hour dabblings in everything from alternative therapy to world music.
Ahhh! Bless their cotton-wool brains. Where would the Manx New Age be without so many over privileged halfwits to keep it rolling around like an (upper) crusty full of bargain bin scrumpy?
I would poke fun – relentlessly – but by the oddest coincidence the Daily Mash has been taking aim at a similar target (see ), so I can just go and do something else instead.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ill health and ill-gotten wealth

This (see ) is one of the funniest bits of nonsense to be put out by a government department this week.
It really is an insight into the shallow, fluff-filled minds of Manx government ‘policy makers'.
Did the great Manx public really pay for some feather-brained fool to dream this up?
When someone says ‘health’ to me (and especially when a government department says it) I naturally think of - oh, doctors, nurses, dentists, psychiatrists and others who have spent some years acquiring the kind of knowledge one expects before letting them loose putting your body parts to rights. So how, exactly, do a sad collection of burnt-out hippies, failed alcohol ‘counsellors’, parasites on ‘Big Pharma’ and other losers pass themselves off as ‘health experts’, when they don’t have so much as a science O level between them?
For those not following me …. Gamcare is the last ditch revenue hope for the Alcohol Advisory Service, which has proved almost as incapable as DASH of advising anyone and also faces a cut in government funding. And look closely at the accounts of any anti-smoking ‘charity’ or pressure group and you will find two income sources. One is government, the other is that part of the pharmaceutical industry which produces nicotine patches – which explains why such ‘neutral’ sources of ‘expert’ advice are so keen to ban ‘e-cigarettes’ and other minimally harmful alternatives to the common fag produced by the ‘evil’ tobacco industry.
Moving on to the burnt out hippies – it might be of interest to know that some college staff have steady secondary incomes providing ‘alternative therapies’ to the terminally ill. One in particular I remember from a failed attempt to set up an Isle of Man LETS scheme years ago.
For those who lack the mental fortitude to spend much time around weekend hippies and the ‘alternative society’, a LETS scheme is a sensible enough attempt to get people on limited incomes to barter services instead of working for cash none of them have. The basic idea is that a mechanic, say, would fix your car for a couple of hours and in return you could help them with some accounts or type a few letters.
It was all going well until the Manx alternative therapy industry got involved. They argued that their dubious ‘services’ were worth more per hour than common or garden professionals such as, oh, qualified accountants or time-served manual craftsmen such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers.
At this point any sane person would have told them where to shove their essential oils, but hippies being so ‘non-confrontational’ (or scared of taking a vote for fear someone would accuse them of selling out to The Man) the whole thing descended into farce as ever more complicated systems of determining ‘relative labour values’ were suggested until everyone lost interest.
Shame really, but the biggest tragedy is that folk with real and necessary skills but no opportunity to practice them professionally lost an opportunity to get by in a way which helped everyone else at the bottom of the heap.
Meanwhile, in a community beginning to be overrun by economic refugees in white flight from emergent democracies, the alternative therapists found enough mugs with enough disposable income to get by. And when that market began to run out, they could always flog their smells and bells to people sitting around the Hospice bored out of their skulls while they wait for the Grim Reaper to turn up.
It’s enough to make you sick.

Help confine Westminster effluent to the sewers

You may want to sign up to a petition asking 17 Westminster MPs not to accept interns from CARE, a notorious faith-based 'educational charity' whose activities include sponsoring aversion therapy for gays, 'advising' civil registrars on how to avoid conducting civil partnership ceremonies and many other acts of spiteful petty ignorance.
CARE uses the Westminster internship program as a means of encouraging future politicians and civil servants towards their rather nasty view of humanity. In addition to spawning a new generation of career bigots, one Westminster lobbyist from a somewhat saner pressure group told me, they have open access to the most loathsome Tory big names, in return for providing them with the ‘research’ which tries to qualify their sickest policies.
CARE's best known Manx acolyte is David Anderson. Even sadder, when a few years back they were pitching some absolutely skin-crawling ideas to their Westminster allies one intern running around the corridors of power over there was his daughter.
On the Isle of Man CARE does note operate so openly, though their pig-ignorant tone runs through Tynwald disgraces ranging from a failed attempt to retain Section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act (prohibiting Manx schoolkids from learning that homosexuality is actually quite normal, not a disease or criminal subculture) through to current attempts to foist pro-life extremism on the terminally ill rather than offering choice and dignity (never mind actually listening to the poor sods). A few years back they did offer a rather odd ‘workshop’ to help local fundamentalists brand their businesses and pseudo-charities with ‘a Christian ethos’, but most of the fee-earning work is franchised to one of their puppet ‘charities’, Care For The Family, whose only open link to CARE is a trustee they share in common.
Do I need to explain any more?
For anyone interested in confining effluent to the Westminster sewers, rather than the Lower and Upper Houses, the petition is at .

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Putting the real dealers out of business

I was stunned when I read this (, though not for the reasons DASH want me to be. But when I read this (see I actually cheered, then laughed when I realised that also isn’t all it seems.
What stuns me is that the Manx government has been putting over £100K annually (a sum roughly equivalent to 80% of Swithinbank’s basic salary) into an organisation which struggles to achieve what any motivated volunteer on any island housing estate could do in their spare time if they wanted to. In addition it presents itself as having ‘specialist expertise’ yet relies on inaccurate, biased and out-of-date information pumped out by UK ‘dependency specialists’ rather than objective (and by any comparison cutting edge) information readily available to any rank but engaged amateur with access to the internet. Until now I honestly thought DASH’s government funding would be closer to the sum we know they still receive (i.e. around £27,250), and even that seems about £26,250 more than any voluntary group operating at this level needs.
It was tempting to believe that the Department of Anti-Social Careerism had finally come to its senses, until you consider that the money ‘saved’ is, by remarkable coincidence, about the same annual sum it needs to put aside to cover Swithinbank’s pension. This was the point at which I burst out laughing. Knowing that Swithinbank was employed in the first place because of his ability to cut costs, source off-island funds and put in place structures whereby ‘independent’ charities do the social care and philanthropic trusts provide the money and materials, yet government pulls all the strings, it makes sense. Perhaps his final juggling act was to fund his own retirement.
Interestingly a follow-up misinformation plant from DASH (see ) was quickly removed from the IOM Newspapers website, then reappeared heavily re-written and minus all but the most innocuous public comments. To be fair, most of the comments on the original version were so bonkers they might have come from prospective DASH clients. They certainly showed a lack of social engagement, some distancing from reality and a blinkered knowledge of current affairs peculiar to those fuelled by only the most down-market tabloids.
But it will be interesting to see what that ‘alternative service model’ will be, and especially if a ‘reformed’ cokehead now functioning as a quasi-pastor for an evangelical ‘drug charity’ will have anything to do with it. To my knowledge this outfit have friends within at least two relevant government departments, and the backing of other evangelical outfits who draw money for the (non) provision of Manx ‘public services’, in at least one case paid directly to an off-island parent which in turn acts as little more than a clearing account for ‘donations’ to a major church. As these venal, self-serving parasites, though worryingly under-informed (and under-educated in either the formal or professional senses in their fields of ‘expertise’), also featured prominently in the setting up of the Chief Minister’s Task Force on Drugs and Alcohol we can anticipate a smaller, but equally useless, public program which claims to be tackling drug abuse but actually just underwrites the activities of a shady business community which rots more minds and wrecks more families on this island than heroin dealers ever did.
Bottom line – we don’t need the ''alternative service model' either, because professional drug prevention agencies don’t work, and the best thing government could do is stop pretending it knows what it is doing and just butt out. The only thing that works is when a community decides if it wants neighbours and workmates dealing or taking currently illegal drugs or not, then what it wants to do about it. The only models I have ever seen over the decades that work are informal ones run by relatives and friends of those affected. They got people off stuff that was killing them simply by being around until they stopped taking it, and if they didn’t think the drug dealers should be there they just closed down the estate to them. It’s not rocket science, just compassion and taking an old fashioned pride in what you do and where you live and work.
The only thing government can or should do is deal with the strictly physical and medical aspects of drug dependency. They can provide adequate medical care, and if they are really serious they can (a) deal with the poverty and social inequality that makes the weakest people most dependent on drugs and (b) consider if the illegality of the drugs is a bigger problem than the physical damage they may cause.
As no-one else will say this, I will. If a cheap and easy local supply of Class A drugs dried up on the island tomorrow, the call centre operations which form the backbone of the offshore finance industry would close within weeks. Call centre workers get through days of battery chicken existence at a frantic pace by necking illegal stimulants or, if they can’t get those, semi-legal steroids which they obtain under the pretence of being dedicated gym bunnies. Their employers know and turn a blind eye to this, with the better ones offering professional counseling to employees whose habit gets out of hand and the worse ones constantly replacing staff (always at entry level wages and on short term contracts) who they expect to burn out within a year or so.
Maybe a better answer to the real problem is to legalise some of the substances, and let the market do the rest. Faced with a choice between reasonably priced merchandise of certifiable quality from reputable high street stores and the current options, the skanks selling milk and baby powder cut with knock-off East European pharmaceuticals whose name and provenance (never mind chemical construction) nobody can be sure of will go to the wall.
Of course government and local employers (even the wisest, bravest ones) are not going to go with that. Which is why all anyone can do is decide for themselves, and, where or if they think a problem exists, to get together with a few friends and sort it out.
Forget politicians, forget social services and any other government employees after a steady income and a good pension, and especially forget evangelical shysters. Like the smack dealers, they are just out for an easy living, and if we deny them that they will eventually get off our backs – or at least find a scam with less risk.