Sunday, 15 December 2013

Funny......absurd even......but just not fun

Someone close to me came home giggling today, after hearing a Creationist refugee from non-sectarian 'Norn Eylan' claim that I wrecked his chance to fleece Manx tinfoil-hatters - sorry, that's 'organise a challenging weekend of seminars from an eminent geologist', sorry, wrong audience again, maybe that should be 'offer a prayerful exploration of alternatives to the atheistic theory of evolution for the benefit of true believers'........
Oh, you probably guessed it!
Actually, all I did was send a letter to the papers a few months ago pointing out to any churchgoer about to pay to hear a career creationist that said tinfoil-hatter also believes his Imaginary Friend commands bigots to execute gay people.
I wouldn't presume to tell anyone capable of believing six impossible things before breakfast to abandon their 'sincere beliefs'. There is very little point arguing with anyone who lives in a hermetic thought-bubble within an alternate universe, so I never bother. But even they have a public duty to consider if their odd ideas actually excuse genocide in what the rest of us recognise as the real world.
It appears that this odd character (clearly unable to distinguish between the results of several centuries of rigorously tested hard scientific exploration and the amanita muscarita-influenced ramblings of bronze age goat-herders) also does not understand why such views might be a problem.
My spy on the spot observed that he is considered an oddball even amongst his funny friends, so did not attempt enlightenment. For myself, I do not intend to follow the tongue-in-cheek example of experimental artist Joseph Beuys, who once performed a piece entitled Explaining art to a dead hare. It isn't just that it would be pointless, because I quite like the absurd.
It just wouldn't be fun.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

So many possibilities, so little creative thinking

Someone pointed me towards , posing the question “How long before we see something like this on the Isle of Man?”
Strictly speaking, of course, we already do. For a start there's every Manx schoolchild’s nightmare “field trip” to the God World theme park (or as Manx Heritage insists on calling it, Rushen Abbey). There impressionable children are chased round a muddy field by the strange folk from Scripture Union, who want them to consider how much fun it would be to be a mediaeval monk. As any kid who watches Horrible Histories knows already, the answer to that is 'Absolutely none'.
Apparently SUMT get paid for this, which I've always found odd. It seems to me if little children are keeping care-in-the-community candidates off the streets it's the kids who should get paid for performing a public service, not SUMT. An over-literal interpretation of the Bible might well be an early sign of psychotic illness, but it doesn't excuse a failure to look for a proper job.
Then there are some of the Tourist Department's odd niche holiday breaks.
A couple of years back, I'm told, they were offering discreet discounts to off-island churches to organise Celtic Christian tours of the island. I suspect they got the idea from a wily cleric who used to strike deals with local travel agents for tours to various Christian pilgrimage sites, both UK and much further abroad. In return for rounding up a bus-load of punters, said cleric and Mrs Cleric got more annual free holidays than he already racked up as fact-finding missions to sunny climes for various government bodies on which he......well, not so much served as turned up and collected benefits.
But as there aren't actually any functioning island churches which date back more than three centuries, and towns have changed so much since even the 19th century that these are in semi-abandoned villages, the Celtic Christian trail is a bit thin. The presumed sites of any worship prior to that are windswept places in the middle of nowhere, so in practice the tours consisted of dragging pious elderly types up moors, through bogs and down slippy cliffs on wet days during Force 9 gales. I'd have thought the insurance alone would have made the price too high for all but the most determined masochist.
And talking of masochism....maybe we could clean up on another Manx fetish - birching. I'm sure the UK S&M scene is over-run by wealthy ex-public schoolies who would pay through the nose (possibly even other orifices) for a spot of corporal punishment. At last, a useful and valid economic role for all those sensibly shod ladies, built like battleships, who marry diminutive Old Barrovian heirs to Manx businesses then spend decades angrily polishing churches to within an inch of their lives.
Or again, for those who remember the chimp's tea parties that used to be a feature at UK zoos, how about putting up public seating behind a splatter-proof screen at the side of the dining area in large Manx hotels which specialise in corporate affairs and political receptions? Surely foreign visitors would pay to watch what happens when one of our more excitable Rotarians or MHKs hears a polysyllable uttered by a fellow free-loader?
So many possibilities, so little creative thinking from the so-called experts.
Is it any wonder Manx tourism is dying?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Do E Mek E Larrff, Nelson?

As someone who during the 1980's (and even the late 1990's) got grief for constantly pointing out that our finance sector was originally built on helping apartheid era South Africa avoid economic sanctions I had to raise an ironic eyebrow at
So would that be the same Terry Toohey who (prior to being offered a job here by a former punter) ran publicity at Sun City, the notorious 'Seff Effrican' whites-only venue no international entertainer worth watching wanted to play?
And in the late 1980's didn't the Manx government, having just created a tourist policy based on subtly attracting ageing Brit racists to 'Look forward to going back' , then come up with a new resident policy intended to entice thick and wealthy 'white flighters' fleeing countries about to experience democracy?
What sniggering noise?

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Strategy: Stop Art

Just when you think Douglas Degeneration Parsnips (having collaborated with the Department of Home Affairs to prevent free speech in communal spaces) cannot do more to screw up the quality of Manx life, this (see
Oh joy! A perfectly respectable refuge for low rent bohemians (not to mention a treasure chest of arcane knowledge you cannot find anywhere else locally) is being swept away, just so arty upper middle class dullards who are too arrogant to work in the real world (and too thick to know they have nothing to contribute to the arts) have yet another place to play.
How dumb. How utterly, utterly depressing!
If you cannot be bothered to root through the whole PR sick-bag, read this and try not to puke...
“Speaking on behalf of Douglas Corporation, Chris Pycroft said: ‘It is a really exciting prospect to work with the college in a partnership between the council and the college to breathe new life back into the Market Hall and make it a place really for the whole community, to start to be creative and think creatively.’
He added: ‘The project should allow the market operation to continue, not in the same format as it is at the moment, but at weekends and holiday times, but with additional uses happening in the building as well.’”
Oh............. piss off and get a proper job, Pie-Chart, I'm sick of us taxpayers subsidising anti-democratic clowns like you.
Has anyone actually talked to any of the island's art veterans? Has nobody noticed that internationally known Manx born sculptors, conceptual artists and painters cannot actually get employed to teach arts locally?
Has nobody asked why Manx fine arts students almost never go on to reputable British courses? Could that be because fine arts was phased out of local college courses two decades back in favour of 'practical' arts (graphic design, fashion...) taught by losers who couldn't get an industry job even when there was an industry, when just three decades back a lowly foundation diploma from the Manx FE college was almost a passport to Goldsmiths, St. Martins or even the RCA?
Even leaving aside 'career' arty types, I can remember in the mid-1980's spending free afternoons from split shift 'day jobs' browsing two incredible book stalls in that market, and amongst the usual airport novels and conspiracy theorists discovering a shelf-load of not only Michael Moorcock and other new sci-fi writers, but rarities ranging from Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft through to Henry Treece (a mid-twentieth century New Apocalyptic chum of Dylan Thomas and Kenneth Rexroth, known to school-kids of my age for his Celtic twilight stuff, but also the author of adult versions through which Moorcock and others discovered something more imaginative could be written even in Cold War conformist Britain).
Certainly, the little community of truly knowledgeable Manx art and book-sellers which existed until around 2000 has been replaced by anal 'collectors' who know the investment value of everything and the intellectual value of nothing, but that is not the point.
I was back there, by chance, last weekend, and it was the same as ever. A bunch of wheelchair users having an animated meeting in one corner, an unpretentious caff and small shops, the book stalls.....
The source material is still there to be discovered by any chance explorer willing to risk 50p, but we are now to lose, forever, the only place on the island comparable to, say Liverpool Whitechapel in 1979 with Bill Drummond and Teardrop Explodes chatting to Pete Burns in Brian's Caff, Burnsy on a lunch break from Zoo Records, the legendary punk venue Eric's 50 yards away. And, yes, even the School of Language, Dreams and Pun with the statue of Jung (where the kind of pretentious rich thickos DDP want to attract hung out) got blitzed in the 'regeneration' of the area, and Eric's, having been shut on health and safety grounds, is now a Cavern museum for Japanese tourists while the much bigger and more important 'Mersey scene' of the late 1970's and early 1980's is wiped from 'official' Liverpool history.
But doesn't that just prove the point?
What you actually need in order for creativity to run riot is a low rent space full of odd source material which can become the stuff of new and better dreams, and for rich poseurs and bureaucrats with pebble-dash for brains to butt out.
By the way, returning to the matter of free speech in public places, you may want to take a look at , a defence of the concept in which even the National Secular Society and Christofascist loons like the Christian Institute are united.
Because as the NSS point out:
“The proposed new law is contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill . Clause 1 of the bill introduces "Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance" (IPNAs), which seek to suppress anything deemed to be potentially "annoying", however vague the justification. IPNAs will replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), which had been introduced under the Labour government.
Whilst in order for an ASBO to be issued, a court has to be satisfied that someone had at least caused or threatened to cause "harassment, alarm or distress" to someone else and that the order was "necessary" to protect the victim, the proposed new law would allow a court to impose sweeping curbs on people's liberty if it thinks they are "capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person", and so long as it is "just and convenient" to do so.”
Anything their colonial cousins in Westminster think a wizard wheeze, our chumps in the Wedding Cake and their (Westminster trained) 'expert advisors' are bound to swallow whole, without even a tentative “Are you sure about this?”, never mind “Has anyone actually thought this twaddle through?”
I would be willing to bet that at some point in the next year the DHA (or perhaps even their house-trained monkey, Juan Watterson) announces plans for IPNAs . So follow the UK campaign now, so that when (or perhaps if) we get a public consultation over here you can make informed comment.

P.S. The title of this rant is a pun on Reg Quayle's groundbreaking Strategy:Get Art campaign in the early 1980's, which put on (in empty shops during the worst recession the island had then seen) the work of truly inspiring Manx art experimentalists like Kevin Atherton. As folk like Reg never get credit for keeping this septic isle out of the Dark Ages during the knock-on effects of Thatcherism, and nobody in the current Manx government arts administration will even have heard of the project I thought I should mention it.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Food for thought

You can tell Christmas is close when Manx religiots and their government chums, along with the business sector, kick off a bogus charity initiative.
Take for example, which as usual, avoids all the important questions.
For example, what percentage of material in landfill is foodstuffs? 25%... 50%.... more?
Obviously, even with highly sophisticated 'just in time' computerised ordering, major supermarkets operating on the island cannot avoid throwing away food. Tons of it ... probably daily. They cannot even reveal how much waste there is or make some deal to give it all away without lots of awkward questions. They are, after all, businesses, not charities or the social services. The real problem is, neither are Manx charities or social services.
We also cannot make the island self-sufficient, and to my mind half the problem is that government refuse to admit they are not trying - just pretending - to. Despite the homely cover story, Manx agriculture (our only real nationalised industry) is (just like its old school communist role model) geared up to high price export, not the home market, and food fairs etc. are just a way of getting us to market test and subsidise this.
But it gets worse....
To my certain knowledge a large supermarket chain gave a Manx religious charity as much leftover food as they could carry every weekend for over 30 years on the understanding it would be discreetly redistributed to the needy. Also to my certain knowledge that charity did not distribute most of what it was given (because their workers regarded many potential beneficiaries as too feckless) but regularly gave away box-loads of tinned goods to well-heeled worshippers instead. In time, after successive Saturdays on which the charity could not even be bothered to turn up and collect it (but still blocked an attempt by a pensioners support group to use it instead) the supermarket broke off the arrangement.
So, seems to me there is a simple logistical mismatch here. People dispossessed by the government of the island where they were born lack food or the means to pay for it. Supermarket chains tied in by necessity to UK and European models of fast, massive food distribution and sale must throw away tons of the stuff and cannot be seen to give it away instead. In particular they throw away enough fresh fruit and veg to feed an army of pensioners and other paupers. A government agricultural policy is based on marketing and exporting Manx luxury foodstuffs hardly anybody local likes or can afford, but not the production of cheap staple foods for local consumption.
So, (sighs deeply), rather than untangle this mess or put things right...
Supermarkets (basing their campaign on another UK idea that is not locally appropriate) encourage shoppers to buy extra stuff they would never eat themselves which (under the supervision of a social services network which isn't social … or of service .... or a network) is handed to religious Klingons who have already proved they are too idle, incompetent or bigoted to distribute it and .... need I go on?
It's like a massive pass-the-parcel game amongst career chancers and the socially irresponsible, but with rotting fruit.
Here's an idea.. why not buy up all the old eggs and rotting tomatoes on the island and throw them at twerps and hypocrites who are also well past their sell-by date? That won't solve anything either, but it would be fun, and one less trip to the landfill at public expense.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Public health notice

Some regulars have been asking where the hell I've been lately (though they put it more politely).
Sorry about that. In addition to the usual unavoidable engagements with 'real life' I decided it was about time I updated my ancient PC, and thought I'd picked the best time, when I'd be able to deal with any teething troubles.
Inevitably all my troubles only began towards the end of the handy slot for solving them, and have dragged on ever since. Hopefully now behind me, but as a few likely stories and topics have been and gone while I was kicking my heels I'll post a current one before things can go pear-shaped all over again.
Check , which was posted on the government website on Friday afternoon. Usual tactic when a government department wants a necessary announcement (but potentially awkward to them or useful to critics) to be missed.
Note in particular:
“As well as the announced meeting with Tynwald Members, each WMRQS review visit will include meetings with groups who can represent the views of patients and carers who use the services being reviewed and meetings with patients who have used the services recently. Questionnaires will also be available in the relevant service areas, which patients and carers can use to tell the reviewers about their experiences. These questionnaires will also be available electronically. Guidance for the public has been developed including how WMQRS will engage with patients, carers and relatives.”
In short, an external independent review is needed to silence all the local grumbles. In order that it says what the Health Department need it to say they'll do their best to make sure the only members of the public who can comment are their tame 'patient and carer representatives'.
If you are a genuine, independent member of the public who wants to at least try and get your experience or views to the independent reviewers, you are going to have to either go up to Nobles and wander around until you can find a questionnaire or keep a look-out for it on the government website, probably tucked away somewhere under either the Health Department pages or the Public Consultations page.
Good Luck with that.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Not so free speech - and what about the hidden 'extras'?

Last week I was at a meeting where the proposition for a Speakers’ Corner in Douglas came up (see ). Seems one of the attendees had been approached about joining the censorship (sorry.. ’coordinating) committee, and some of the others had previous experience of Douglas’s particular take on ‘public/private partnerships’ for screwing up the lives of ordinary citizens, so the discussion was….well, full and frank!
By the way, to get an idea of the real proposal, and who is behind it, it might be best to ignore the puff piece from Douglas Degeneracy Parsnips which our ‘local’ press ran in whole and see the earlier , where the real movers and shakers announced it to their allies.
The project interests me, though hardly for any of the pseudo-reasons this pseudo-public body would like. Obviously, as an outspoken advocate for free speech, the possibility of at least one island venue where that is finally possible would be nice. Equally obviously, as none of the partners have any interest in freedom of expression or movement (except how to stop it) I cannot imagine them creating one.
Here’s an interesting experiment for anyone who wonders why…
Go to any one of our crapital city’s shopping centres – all built at great public expense and inconvenience, including the compulsory purchase or forcible closure by other means of the small retail premises which used to be there - and take a book with you. Sit down on one of the benches and read it. Also keep an eye on the second hand of your wristwatch to time what happens next.
As most of the retail units are empty, and there are rarely any shoppers, it will surprise you, and enlighten you considerably as to the real nature of a society in which public bodies (nominally controlled by taxpayers and voters) pass all real power to corporate bodies who answer to nobody (least of all their clients/customers or shareholders).
Which leaves me wondering what the real game is, because the other thing to consider is that optimum control of punters passing through a retail area in order to ensure maximum spending in minimal time and with minimal expenditure is crucial to it. So why would a blatantly commercial enterprise disrupt that with an activity which clogs up the pavement, generates no direct income, and distracts potential punters who might be throwing away their earnings on expensive tat instead?
Perhaps the answer is that we are about to be distracted into giving away any real rights of free speech and assembly.
In the ‘old’ Strand Street it was possible to stop and shoot the breeze with folk you met, even hand out leaflets for good causes or ask the public to sign petitions. Nobody worried, and the police rarely moved you on, just as long as you didn’t physically inhibit passers-by doing serious shopping. Similarly, the Sally Ann and other musicians, for example, played Xmas carols, and again, as long as they didn’t huddle in shop doorways and block the way in or out neither shopkeepers nor the public complained.
About ten years ago that started changing, to the extent that now only pointless and ineffective charities or campaign groups can mount ‘actions’ and buskers have to audition in front of some clueless Douglas Council committee, leaving only the worst free to perform. There is no legal precedent for this, it just happened because civil servants and local politicians were too dumb or lazy to question it when the business sector ‘suggested’ that it might be more ‘efficient’.
So, once DDP & Co have assigned us grateful peasants one corner to spout (pre-approved and carefully monitored) nonsense, the thing to watch is whether they then use bodies like police liaison committees to ensure anyone expressing an opinion – perfectly legally – anywhere else in a public area gets moved on.
Who says that crime doesn’t pay? In Douglas, you might be forgiven for thinking it gets a public sector salary and pension.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Just stop it

At the risk of sounding heartless, stories like this (see ) make me laugh like a drain.
There really should be public health warnings about health warnings posted by people with no demonstrable expertise in the ‘problem’ they warn about. Career parasites who can only describe themselves as ‘health professionals’ because a cheapskate government employs them to offer a sham service to the many who do not need it, instead of paying the going rate for academically and professionally qualified medical workers to treat the small minority who do.
Is there local misuse of prescription drugs? Yes, of course, and probably a market in the unwise redistribution of them. There is in anything a fool with spare cash can be persuaded to want and a chancer with easy availability decides to supply.
But that misses the point, which is that prior to their ‘misuse’ such prescription drugs are supplied, legally and with public subsidy, to somebody else who has been persuaded that they need them and also, thanks to the drug advisory sham profession, probably regards him/herself as some kind of addict who will continue to need them unless they can be persuaded into some sort of costly ‘therapy’ which, to be blunt, they also do not need.
The whole set-up is a farce.
I am reminded of an article in which that old reprobate William Burroughs (hardly an amateur dabbler in such matters) explained how you stop smoking. In a nutshell, you get up one morning and you choose not to light a cigarette, and the next morning you do the same. No therapy, no woo-woo merchants, no pharmaceutical alternative. Nothing. You choose not to do it as naturally as you might choose not to buy a McDonalds.
Oddly enough, someone I know who for many years was on minor tranquillisers for her ‘nerves’ told me a similar story. After some 20 years of repeat prescriptions issued by doctors who probably assumed they were keeping a lid on the problems of a typical overworked woman of slender means she looked in the mirror one morning, said “I’m a bloody fool” and didn’t take her tablets, and never has since.
No therapy, no12-step support group. She just wised up, decided, and stopped.
The best way to stop potential tragedies such as the original incident in the news story is not legislation, or alternative drugs, and certainly not ‘advice’ from pseudo-professionals who talk about as much sense as adolescents on bad disco biscuits washed down with too much ‘energy drink’. The best way is for the real victims to stop.
Because it is common sense. And because they will also stop feeding all the parasites in the chain of misery, from minor street dealers and dodgy, government-funded therapists through to the drug companies.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Apologia Absurdum

A brief apology and explanation to regular readers....
This blog, if I am honest, started as something to do because I missed the buzz of writing for print journals but was in no position to do much about that. This year, for various reasons, I started looking again and, coincidentally, also started getting more requests.
The upshot is I now have regular spots in two more publications, as well as the column in the bi-monthly which originally gave this blog a name and some sort of focus. I am also likely to add to that by next year. Seems it isn't just you nice folk who share my odd obsession for knowing what the religious lunatic fringe and other puritans get up to outside of London or Texas.
I will be continuing here, but it might be restricted to, say, a short weekly comment as things pick up. Hope that meets with your approval, and thanks for encouraging me to keep cranking stuff out in lean times.

Sleep, work, drug, work, drink, sleep (repeat until dead)

Someone from the most grounded (albeit with less government friends with imaginary friends) of the ‘local drug charities’ is saying we need more research into where the increasing demand for drugs comes from (see
I can save them lots of time and money. The answer is ‘work’.
I suggested before that island employers who run call centre set-ups, like their UK equivalents, have turned a blind eye to substance abuse for years. Got to have all those phone-jockeys hyper-alert if the profits are going to keep rolling to the shareholders. 
Funnily enough, I gather that one HR consultant, formerly paid handsomely by a major industry player to either keep overwired employees safely away from NHS clinics or dispose of the burn-outs quietly, has changed tactics with a new employer.
The new emphasis is on ensuring caffeine-based (i.e. strictly legal) stimulants are on tap to fire them up in the morning and cheap alcohol at team-bonding celebrations to end the day.
Ever wondered why commuting car-drivers behave so erratically in the evening rush home?

Armageddon outta here

A story no doubt supplied to the local press by a well-wisher (but not yet online) is at least news indicating the further failure of Manx evangelicals to solicit public funds for services which, to be honest, they never supplied anyway.
The Well, fleapit café in the basement of the Broadway Batwit HQ, is closing. The story suggests that this will mean a loss of vital services to several dispossessed communities.
For year the Batwits, so the insider joke goes, calculated clientele for any funding bid by plucking a prospective number of punters to one activity from thin air, adding a 0, next applying that figure to every other ‘workshop’ and suggesting the total represents different individuals. So, we can safely ignore that concern.
All you really need to know is that developers are sniffing around the area and have made discreet enquiries at the Land Registry (where the Batwits have a mole) and the Evangelical Alliance get the final proceeds of any sale of the church site.
To be fair, they would not be the only ‘local’ evangelical organisation owned and controlled lock, stock and barrel off-island and where all important  decisions over income and assets are taken by off-island individuals without consulting the apparent worshippers.
Also this week I had confirmation that at least one flat-earth sect trying to gain access to kids in island schools as guest speakers have been refused and are now, effectively, blacklisted. 
Considering which other dodgy outfits not only do so (with blatant disregard for the Education Act guidelines on religious education) but get public money I must confess I am at a loss to know what they did to overstep the mark. Shame that, as if anyone knew we could encourage the other klingons to emulate them.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

No sense, no taste

We were at the Isle of Man Festival of Food and Drink yesterday. 
I have to say, it’s good to see the Manx government do something right. In this case, assemble some of the worst things about the island in one place, fence it off, and then make the public pay to go in. At £5 a pop that puts off all but the hardened masochists.
Seriously though, much of the food was, frankly, a bit naff, though as I had to drive the family home afterwards to shop for real food I never visited the beer tent. For no charge (if you really wanted to) you could find the same vendors at any local event with stalls, or for a quid or so towards fixing the church roof or providing wells to African kids find a better selection of homemade produce at any charity fayre.
Yes, seriously, I would rather pay a token amount to a church whose beliefs I don’t share than hand over yet more money to the government for them to try and interest us yet again in publicly subsidised local produce that few of us really like and many of us cannot afford. As someone who is, of necessity, on a healthy diet I also have to point out that even moderate regular amounts of most of the food on offer would, far from improving your health, kill you quicker than smoking,  most of the illegal substances government health workers tell us to avoid and any of the currently legal ones they would like to be illegal in future.
Funny old world, isn't it?
Another thing that worries me – why did Living Hell seem to get a free pass to abuse small kids under the pretence of providing a crèche? When organisations like the Children’s Centre are also getting heavy public subsidies why weren’t they there instead? 
Another case of parents who can (and must) do, non-parents who can’t (or just shouldn’t) get paid by government to preach? 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Old joker, novel thinking

Barbara Smoker, the nonagenarian but still wickedly witty secularist, posted a beauty of a “thought” on the National Secular Society’s weekly Newsline a couple of weeks ago which I’m still giggling at. So much, in fact, that it would be mean not to share it.
“The pathological condition of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the agreed diagnosis for those who feel they have to keep performing certain rituals in order to avoid some illogical misfortune.
But that definition likewise applies to people who belong to a particular religion and who assiduously practise its prescribed rituals.
Perhaps, therefore, we could use the term "religious OCD" as a telling synonym for fundamentalism.”
Maybe we should, Barbara. In fact, maybe I just will.

Lost in (cyber)space

As someone who has to use the thing daily, I take particular interest in the ‘improved’ new Manx government website.
Needless to say, ‘improved’ is not an accurate statement of affairs. Most of the pages professionals need to work with government have been moved around, not linked handily enough together to allow you to carry out necessary tasks smoothly or just taken down completely in some cases. Combined with a few major crashes of the office computer system which wiped out all our useful links it has been an …..interesting (!) experience for a week or two now just trying to get the basics done, get out, and go home.
But one vanishing link is worthy of comment here, and might even be indicative of a governmental rethink (though I doubt it).
There used to be a front page link to a page listing contacts for local religious groups – church postal and website addresses, phone numbers for clergy and that sort of thing. It also, more usefully, gave contacts for the obscurer Christian sects and non-Christian faiths. I say useful, firstly because it proved they exist (contrary to the ‘expert’ advice given to government less than a decade ago by a high-ranking Anglican) and more generally if, say, somebody Muslim or Jewish had been taken ill or died and you needed immediate advice on what to do next.
As far as I can gather, the page first appeared courtesy of the Tourist Department as a way to help tourists find the more obscure churches involved in the annual Flower Festival, and for religiously minded visitors to find a place of Sunday worship. This was in an era when links between Manx church and state were so strong that some worshippers were effectively getting a government salary to practice their faith. In recent years, that generation have retired and it  was also noticeable that the traditional churches took up less and less of the listings and new cults or non-Christian religions were becoming the majority.
I (luckily) knew the old government website so well that I was able to restore the new equivalents of all the vital professional links I use within a day, but after searching extensively I am 100% sure there is no longer any list of religious contacts. As I know for a fact it was the only source used by certain government departments to find a suitable cross-section of religious leaders to advise on ethical issues, it will be worth challenging future government pronouncements that they have consulted faith communities on their policies and met with no objections.
But did the page vanish (a) because churches close to government cannot cope with evidence of their minority status, even when only measured against other faiths (b) completely by accident and rank civil service incompetence or (c) because some government bean-counter worked out that nobody goes to church any more?
Now THAT might be worth knowing. Unlike most of the endless, consistently pointless and fact free ‘media communications’ from government.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Wherever two or more are gathered..........

As a former local journo, I may have the advantage of knowing how far - in measurable fact - the news values of contemporary pseudo-local newspapers owned by large media corporations drift from those taught on NCTJ courses. But any reasonably detached and objective person can giggle hysterically at the polyfilla used to fill all the cracks where the stories are supposed to go.
So it was that yesterday I was sniggering at some of the district news items with another atheist, particularly the prominent coverage of a horticultural show in a Ramsey church. 
“Why”, we cried out in collective disbelief,  “is it news that a church was full of vegetables?”
After further consideration we have the answer.
The key word there is ‘”full”. Be it vegetable, animal or mineral – in 2013 any more than two collected in a Ramsey church would be unusual enough to merit a picture.


For all the guff put out by the Department of Economic Development’s PR merchants, sometimes a genuine picture of Manx understanding of the business world emerges.
For example when you read at that ‘The environment, food and agriculture minister has blasted the store Tesco for only supporting Manx food, "when they can make money out of it".’
But isn’t the basic idea of a business to make money? If a business does not make a profit from goods supplied to carry out the business, how long can it stay in business?
Unlike the Manx government, Tesco cannot obtain their funds from money the public has no choice but to stump up. Also unlike the Manx government, Tesco cannot pay farmers not to grow stuff, or businesses to produce stuff that nobody wants or can afford.
So what next?
Well, I guess that will be the inevitable sneering and finger-pointing from middle-income public sector workers (with jobs for life, however inefficient  they are at doing them) at the unemployed and low paid who buy the food they can afford, rather than whatever Sunday supplement foodie airheads say is healthy or right-on this week.
Because, yes, there’s a serious point (and serious political decisions) to be made about sustainable food production, but it certainly is not made here, and Manx politicians who are busily blaming the dispossessed for failing to stand on their own feet (when those politicians were the ones who whipped away the rug in the first place) show no inclination towards solving real problems, rather than whipping up fantasy ones to complain about.
Those real problems are (1) how do we ensure that what is rapidly becoming a Manx underclass (too young or old to work or semi-unemployable if they are of reasonable working age) can be healthily fed in the long term (as opposed to eating pure stodge now) and (2) how do we ensure a locally produced food supply which will get us through in the unlikely but still possible case that all outside supplies fail? 
Neither are being seriously addressed, and even if the Manx government ever consider question 2 seriously I would take bets they dare not consider the more important first question.
Meanwhile (and until they are ready to do the same) maybe they could have the decency to stop knocking efficient businesses for doing what it says on the tin.

Monday, 26 August 2013

It's a myth story

I see from the local pseudo-media (see ) that the Ramsey Heritage Centre is now “officially” open.
Apart from being untrue (it has hardly ever been open to the public since the first time a local dignitary opened it, and hardly ever will be) this begs a question. Why bother taking away a perfectly good contemporary community facility in order to build a mausoleum based on some ageing Rotarian’s Prozac-addled vision of what it used to be?
The excuse is that it will be a tourist attraction and an educational facility. Totally untrue on both counts.
If there was ever a market for this (and current thinking is that it vanished in the mid 1990’s) it was the Woopy (‘well off older person’). Under current economic conditions that market is deader than the dodo.
With final salary pensions gone for most and pension values decimated the only older people well off enough to visit the Isle of Man are also able to, say, cruise down the Rhine or go on photo-safaris in South Africa. Why would they visit ‘heritage exhibitions’ of communities which, by their greed, they played a major part in destroying?
To gloat? Even geriatric Thatcherites aren’t that sick!
Most will be familiar with the saying “history is written by the victors” (which implies that such history is somewhat subjective). The heritage industry, in comparison, is market-driven history written for the losers. It would not exist unless some bean-counter had calculated that enough losers would pay to view exhibitions portraying a somewhat sepia-tinted vision of past communities which misdirect the blame for their demise onto outside elements (venal foreign manufacturers and evil multinationals, etc. etc.). This is just so much bunkum.
The irony is that the vanished Ramsey it mourns was destroyed by the plans of the very Rotarians and political interests which now proudly claim credit for the heritage centre. The terraced houses and small shops vanished to make way for the first multi-storey flats, intended not for locals but first as holiday flats for wealthy tourists (just as the price of jetting off to Greece or Spain tumbled and the traditional British seaside trade vanished), and then for retiring Brits who might like to escape from the dreary, overtaxed UK (but who quickly discovered that they could retire to sunny Spain for far less). The small shops vanished because government chose, instead of tax breaks or grants for refurbishment to local retailers, to give development grants and tax holidays to the offshore finance firms who are now ‘regrouping’ in other offshore locations when such cash incentives are gone and higher standards of financial supervision are being introduced.
It also has to be said that racism is a subtle undertone throughout the heritage industry. This is a ‘history’ favoured by dispossessed elderly white people because it turns on photographs of houses, streets and businesses in which no black faces are seen. It edits out Empire (except as a source of fortunes for enterprising white people or the cheap goods from the semi-slave conditions in the Empire country farms and factories they were enabled to run). It quietly misdirects the blame for the disappearance of such a mythical community onto the aggressive tactics of ‘foreign business interests’.
Most ironically, in modern Ramsey such elderly locals are not even cared for by their own families, but by carers from other countries. Because in reality the community and family values such exhibitions claim to celebrate and encourage do not exist now, any more than they did in the times of the sepia tinted photographs, and the conservative business and political interests which dismantle our current community while underwriting this myth factory must know that.

Saturday, 24 August 2013


Those reading the previous item will think "Wasn't that posted a while ago and now re-jigged?
The short answer is "Yes."
I've been having problems posting for a week or two. The formatting only worked as a sort of extended paragraph that doesn't pick up links and won't allow you to write in anything resembling plain English.
After asking around I find that Google, who run Blogspot - this blogging platform - have been changing settings in an attempt to get punters to upgrade to newer, costlier products which (frankly) are of no use to simple souls like me.
Found a cheap fix, so back to business for now, with  apologies and some personal regrets for not being able to post funny stuff which was briefly interesting but would no longer be relevant.
I'm now looking at moving to another blogging platform in case the problems continue. More on that if or when it happens.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

OK, OK, I'm back

I learnt recently that Positive Action Group have calculated that the Manx Government wastes (sorry ‘devotes’) between 60-90 minutes per year on formal prayers – and that’s not even including the bogus religious ceremony on Tynwald Day itself.
It strikes me that according to your personal belief (or lack of it) this finding could lead to one of three conclusions.
Either….. Nobody’s there, so politicians should stop mucking about and get on with what we pay them to do.
 Or……… Somebody’s there, but doesn’t think it’s her/his job to sort out the mess Tynwald made, so politicians should stop mucking about and get on with what we pay them to do.
 Or….. Somebody’s there, takes pity on us poor Manx citizens and has been intervening to lessen the damage caused by government.
If that is the case, do you even dare imagine how bad things would be without divine intervention if we had to live with the full extent of political bungling?

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Shameless plug for The Pink Humanist

I’ve been somewhat remiss in pointing you all towards the June issue of The Pink Humanist, probably because I’m a guest contributor. I am a good friend of the TPH crew, so was happy to give them some on-the-spot reportage on ‘the Ramsey lesbians and the landlord from hell’.
This was not so much to stir up more trouble as to set the record straight. The Isle of Man may be a lot of quirky things, but is no longer the centre of the flat earth world, and Ramsey folk – by and large – are OK. In fact, if we could just fill up a leaky fishing vessel with the town’s evangelical preachers, a few of the crankier Commissioners and maybe the management of the worst finance sector firms, then set it off into the Irish Sea with the rudder set for hell most of our troubles would be over.
I was also glad to do it for other reasons. One is, simply, that TPH runs articles on humanism and current affairs that no other publication can match, and just having my name as a contributor alongside Peter Tatchell, the incredibly brave and intelligent Nigerian campaigner Leo Igwe and other such figures is a boost to my ego.
Take a look and see what I mean. Astonishingly good stuff – every issue a groundbreaker.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Goodbye Mr Tom

I was sorry to read yesterday that Tom Sharpe had died (see ).
In recent years – have to admit – the old spark had gone but in the 1980’s Sharpe was my favourite when you needed to read something intelligent and funny but not ‘worthy’. In particular, I loved the ‘Wilt’ series for personal reasons.
This is because between 1974 and 1976 I was incarcerated at a Cambridgeshire college, so like the ‘Fenland College’ where Wilt taught ‘Meat 1’ and other unwilling students that for years I racked my brains trying to work out which of my former tutors was writing under the pen-name Tom Sharpe.
Turns out, none of them. There were two such colleges in the county and Sharpe was at the other one. Incidentally though, he did trade stories with some of my tutors and these provided major characters and storylines for the Wilt books, as too obvious connections to his own former workplace might have got him sued… or just lynched.
Another sadly deceased comic writer, the music hack Steven Wells, had a great story about the time NME sent him to interview Sharpe and found he was all he had hoped for and much more. The interview was set for mid-morning, at Sharpe’s home, and on arriving Swells was immediately offered a stiff whiskey to calm his nerves, and then another…..
Things got so out of hand that, on consulting his notes on the train back, Swells could no longer remember if Sharpe had actually said some of the outrageous stuff he’d jotted down or if he’d imagined it. As young Mr Wells was then hanging on to employment by his fingernails (having upset far too many sensitive indie music bods, windbag ‘socialist intellectuals’ and showbiz luvvies) he could not risk more controversy so timidly rang Tom Sharpe to check. Sharpe not only confirmed his comments, but reminded Swells of ones he’d missed and added some truly OTT new ones just for the hell of it. The subsequent story offended everyone Swells could not in his wildest dreams, and as all the offence was caused by Britain’s biggest selling living author nobody lower down the gravy train dared complain.
Great writer, great attitude and, like Swells, he will be sorely missed.

Turned off, tuneless …paid out?

Port St Mary is hardly ‘upmarket’ even by seaside town standards, but amusingly it seems even their residents have some limits.
This was a positive story in a week that has been otherwise a bit ‘so-so’. The Manx Indy’s take on it (not yet online) tries to hint at over–reaction - and Living Hell are, obviously, trying to drum up Christian persecution for all it’s worth - but this would be nonsense.
For the record, a Port St Mary ‘beach mission’ had run amicably enough for almost a century until Living Hell got involved. Since then relations between residents, beachgoers and born-again headbangers have gone rapidly downhill.
No, the truth is a lot simpler. They are too loud, too painful to listen to (even with tongue firmly in cheek) and their message is too bigoted, even for Southern rednecks.
Imagine an over-40s night at some Wetherspoon’s hell-hole (see for example) and you might be close. The ‘music’ generally consists of repetitive drones, up to 20 minutes in length, punctuated by startling banshee wails and while the song titles vary deliberately (and the pitch accidentally) the words are few and almost interchangeable. This, close observers suggest, is possibly because their core audience commonly suffer short term memory loss, so may just think they are at a Sunday version of whatever day-care they attend the rest of the week.
It is bad enough when the howling of so many distressed souls escapes through the asylum windows each Sunday morning. But imagine that outdoors, on a beach frequented by innocent families, and we are talking serious public health hazard, not to mention the last nail in the coffin for the tourist trade. “Never mind noise abatement, call the MSPCA”, some might cry.
Incidentally, key figures in such antics were spotted with Northern allies at a farewell concert for one of the genuine Ramsey clergy recently. The sight of evangelical panhandlers en masse (as they inevitably are when free food or public money is on offer) was enough to put everyone else off their fairy cakes. It was startling to watch them hovering round the food table, sarnies in both hands and coat pockets overflowing with cake put aside for a later lonely midnight snack while watching God TV (at least that’s what they say they are watching, and if found doing otherwise it must be for ‘research purposes’ into the nature of contemporary sin).
The only question on anyone’s mind was: “if they came 30 miles each way just for a bag of free buns, which government department got the expense claim for the petrol?”

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Orwellian antics

Just a brief note to say that the No CCTV campaign is holding a '1984 Action Day' on 8th June. The idea is to hold a number of local actions to highlight both the invasiveness and ineffectivity of CCTV, and to suggest that proper community policing (and I'd add to that proper, functioning communities , not the awful pseudo-variety any number of interfering busybodies with government friends want) is the real answer. In the wake of the awful Woolwich incident, any number of authoritarian nasties are jumping on the bandwagon to revive the 'snoopers charter', so the timing of this action and any discussion it causes could not be more appropriate.
I spoke to these guys a few years back and they stressed to me that they would be happy to forge a partnership with civil libertarians over here, if anyone fancies contacting them to set it up.
Meanwhile, check their blog on the right and for more details.

Another day, another Manx drug SNAFU

I see from the government website ( see that the island is to extend a temporary ban on various quasi-legal chemical substances and is also – at least in theory – offering advice to those who might like to be surer what they’re taking.
Except, of course, that this is not what is happening
In a nutshell, the tabloid-addled know-nowts up in the Wedding Cake who ‘advise’ on drug policy are trying to pretend their paranoid fantasies have been verified by UK government ‘expertise’. But as anyone who followed the David Nutt affair knows, the UK government does not actually have an expert panel of objective, independent drug advisors.
The chief advisor was sacked for giving evidence based advice rather than being prepared to rubber-stamp baseless nonsense and the principled members of the council resigned in protest. They now offer the objective research the UK government doesn’t want direct to interested members of the public instead (see ) while a ragbag collection of pseudo-independent scientists, professionals and academics produce what reports and findings they’re told, when they’re told, and which fool nobody.
Except, of course, for a class of politicians and civil servants who are even less educated or honest - such as ours.
Meanwhile, a Manx drug advisory service which used to - at least - be guided by information from dependable (if sometimes self-serving) sources in the drug-control cottage industry lost government funding because it did not have enough religious friends there.
‘Advice’ now comes from a clueless consortium which does, and which having absolutely failed to give advice on its core area of inexpertise, ‘alcohol abuse’, now fails to give advice on topics it knows even less about while living off ‘sin taxes’ extracted from the industries which sell such products.
Some days I wonder what would happen if the Manx government sought advice on potential social problems from objective, knowledgeable professionals and tried to put in place coherent and realistic policies to deal with them (if they exist, which is sometimes also debateable). It would be a waste of time, because it has never happened, and will never happen.
Manx government culture just does not work like that, and its policies and ‘solutions’ just do not work. Period.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Home affairs

I don’t usually bother with Manx online petitions as – to be blunt – they’re usually thrown up by racists or other redneck insomniacs intent on keeping themselves in unearned privileges and the rest of us hard at work to subsidise them.
Today I found an exception.
Laura Cull is a young ex-workmate of mine who I’ve watched go from clumsy school-leaver and drummer in a raw but energetic girl band to savvy IT worker and out lesbian. She was one of the first to enter a Manx Civil Partnership and is now finding out the hard way that 'equality' does not extend to housing rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Laura is fighting back with a petition to fully implement our 2010 Equality Act, and not just the parts that our politicians and our employers cannot avoid. You can support her, her partner and many others pondlife with powerful political friends can currently safely ignore with your signature at
Do it now. Make our politicians and legislators do something for somebody other than themselves and their bad business associates.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Ethics Boy

As we all know, Manx klingons like to trade on their insider political status, and the worst are those who leech off Tynwald Day.
So, no surprise that a coalition of the island’s most right wing godbotherers like to hold a 'prayer breakfast' close to the Colonial Clown Show and cut their costs by filching a government guest as the speaker.
Previous offenders have included an Oxford scientist with a sideline in squaring science and creationism, and a general who sent ordinary troops into recent conflicts with duff equipment and no flak jackets but increased the number of military chaplains.
Possibly topping both of these was the UK peer who likes to pose as a mover and shaker on the international aid scene but behind the scenes pushes the ideas of crackpots who, for example, would like to see Israel collapse in order to bring on The Rapture. It beggars belief that a key figure in the House of Lords can one night be a guest at a government reception and days later be addressing friends of the ‘revisionist historian’ (some still prefer the term ‘Holocaust denier’) David Irving. The lecture, I’m told, can still be found on a notorious neo-Nazi website you cannot look at without being blacklisted by the security services of several nations.
This year’s ‘guest of honour’ is a former banker, but also an ordained priest in the Church of England. He is also the author of a book entitled "Serving God? Serving Mammon?
I’m not sure if the book makes it clear whose servant he eventually is, but his career gives a few clues.
Between 2004 and 2010 he presided over HSBC during possibly the dodgiest period in that bank’s history. A US investigation (see and for example) later found HSBC managing to somehow not notice money laundering on a massive scale from the Colombian drug trade, or sanctions busting in Iran and other proscribed countries. When the US slapped a then record fine on the bank it emerged that it would actually have been much larger, and that banning the bank from doing any business within the US banking system should also have followed, but that this could not happen because of the risk to international banking and that massive staff cutbacks would follow.
The staff cuts followed anyway, with – for example - major layoffs in the offshore jurisdictions through which much of this cash would have passed and indeed the closure of at least one jurisdiction’s operation entirely - handily enough before further investigations might have revealed much worse goings on. Not that this poster boy for contemporary religious morality suffered as a result.
Unlike thousands of his lower ranking staff, he did not lose his job as a side-effect of the massive fines. Unlike millions of ordinary and innocent workers whose pension schemes were major shareholders his retirement plans would not be dashed when share prices tumbled.
Because by that point he had a new job in the LibCon pact, as Minister for Trade and Industry. Since when that department has cut deals with the largest tax-avoiding corporations, failed to curb the outrageous bonuses paid to senior bank executives (who – not to put too fine a point on it –were pretty rubbish at their job anyway) and nursemaided the UK arms trade towards subtler use of offshore structures to avoid public scrutiny of their deals with some of the world’s ugliest despots.
All I can conclude is that if Jesus is still saving then he’s got his pension tucked away in scams that would make any smack dealer blush.

Friday, 3 May 2013

We're Do-o-o-med!

We’ve had the oddest letter this week, which had me roaring with laughter and Management almost exploding in fury.
It seems Ramsey Baptist Church are going door to door asking if anyone wants them to pray for anything. This is the intellectually challenged clown troupe who wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care every Sunday down at the local primary school because, given sight of a ten pound note, the Education Department have less self-respect than a desperate crack whore.
Well, they could always pray for a collective two figure IQ between their entire congregation, but they shouldn’t expect miracles.
Seriously though. On the one hand, a religious zealot is rapidly dismantling what is left of the welfare state and any sense of collective responsibility or neighbourliness this septic isle ever had. On the other, all kinds of evangelical monsters are crawling out of the primeval swamp, picking off the lonely, the dispossessed, and other victims of this neo-nastiness.
How sick is that?
If I thought Ramsey had local politicians I would write to them, pointing out that such opportunism is on a par with cowboy builders who try to worry you into ‘replacing’ roof tiles then scarper with your cash. But as Captain Mannering (see ) has just taken charge at Trumpton Town Hall for the fourth successive term I doubt Dad’s Army will be on this case (or any other) within the decade.
So that’s it then. As Private Frazer would say “We’re all doomed”.
Though not as doomed as the Zombie Carpenter’s charmless chums when they knock on our door and Management answers it.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Poe-faced Pillockry

This (see  ) was a welcome relief from the Sefton Hotel row (see  for example) which dominates the Manx press but does not interest me in the slightest.
Two unwanted political presents from Westminster (at least one, thankfully, well past his sell-by date) taking a noisy pop at each other. You could not make this up.
A hissy catfight between two colonial relics over the future of the island’s campest High Gothic church. I’m only surprised that instead of the picture the local press used they didn’t just Photoshop the protagonists into Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ painting.
Google it and you’ll soon see what I mean. Larry New would be a spit for the grump with the pitchfork.
Isle of Man Newspapers used only the bilge generated by both sides in this silly argument, and did no digging. This is a pity, as neither side wants us ‘heathens’ to really know what is going on.
To get to the root of it, just go to and note the prominent announcement that St. Matthew’s is “a Forward in Faith Parish under the Pastoral care of the Bishop of Beverley”. THAT is the root of the problem neither side will talk about in public. For some years now, this Anglican church has been unique on the island in having a special dispensation to, when it suits, take orders from another Bishop rather than any memsahib who might hold office under the island’s Bishop.
The thing is, the present Bishop of Sodor & Mann could be described as “conservative with a small c” .Think ‘Anglican Mainstream lite” – conservative but evangelical rather than high church, keeping the church status quo together, now willing to see women priests rather than look ridiculous in the eyes of the unchurched public but gays are still a step too far.
Forward in Faith, by comparison, are at best UKIP with a hint of Monster Raving Loony and probably far worse. Pouty, petulant, predominantly ex-public schoolboys who will take their ball home if the world won’t let them run things. For years they have been threatening to break away, initially to Rome (which doesn’t want them), then playing footsie under the table with the Russian Orthodox churches. Basically, anything it takes to let a bunch of silly boys carry on flouncing around in nice frocks, ringing bells, and chucking incense about.
Oh, and they really don’t like homosexuality either, these beardy wierdies. Oh no, not one bit! Hate them more than women, the working class, believers in other faiths (don’t even go there on Jews or Muslims….) and commie subversives.
Two bishops back, the Manx FIF crew were tight with Anglican management. Nothing open, but the power behind the throne while the occupant was a permanently half-cut chum of Prince Philip (amicable enough though - as long you kept real life out of the conversation). He was replaced by an urbane careerist to whom nothing stuck – a real Teflon man – and who saw at once that these rabid smell and bell merchants would get him nowhere fast, so he quietly ditched them and got somewhere fast.
St. Paul’s actually, just in time for the Occupation. Whoops!
At this point the Manx diocese was really falling apart – losing worshippers faster than any in the British Isles in fact - so no surprise that John Sentamu saw to it that the next area manager was a lad who would knock heads together and stop the rot. Which, to be fair, he has done. The process is inevitably painful for churchgoers as hard economic decisions are taken, but most factions in his church seem to accept Paterson is trying to keep things together and even, in the long term, give some room for various models of (cost-efficient) worship to develop.
Except for half a dozen or so deranged FIF fanatics who cannot cope with democracy, the 21st century, or the world in general because they have never had to deal with such distractions.
It is tempting to suggest the Bishop should just let them go, then consider what use would the building be when they have to sell up in the near future?
Sadly too few Manx Goths to finance a potentially amazing nightclub with a unique William Morris picture window. Perhaps some sort of S & M establishment to fuel the darker night-time urges of finance sector sickos? Real shame if it became yet another carpet warehouse.
More seriously, considering the government attempts to regenerate the quayside as an upmarket ‘development’, the particular history of some complainants with dodgy financiers and property developers (and that the only way to balance the diocesan books could be the sale of ‘surplus to requirement’ buildings) maybe the future sale of the church is all anyone is arguing about.
Now maybe that is the real story we are missing…..

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Three Thinking

I would be the first to admit my heart has not been in this blog in recent months (to be honest, not even sure my intellect was at times).
I meant to take a year out from blogging to do other things, then come back with a fresh view. I was charmed that some 'regulars' missed my rantings (and who some of them turned out to be) and begged me to come back early. So I did, but it has not been a good time - lot of things going on elsewhere for me, some other distractions too - and the results have not been up to scratch.
I think the problem is I have one of  those minds that wanders all over the place - lots of disparate interests and a mixture of inability and reluctance to toe 'party lines' on the issues some would say I am campaigning about.
So, I have decided to try and get this blog 'back to basics', and stick to a few key issues. At the same time, because other things also interest and/or bother me, but it would be too confusing to explore them here, I will go into them on my two other blogs - one a revived project from last year, one completely new.
From today, for nonsense about the Isle of Man and either international faith-based fallacies or their local manifestations (plus appeals for help from others so afflicted) continue to look here, for a not-entirely-serious campaign to rescue everyday life (and the corporate world in particular) from rudeness and unpleasantness in general see Applied Crisperanto, and for slightly more serious discussion of militarism, the arms trade and similar topics which I have (as yet) not found the time or courage to go into start watching my newest blog, Anarchy, Peace & Chips. Links to all three to the right of this page.

Ethical Bankruptcy

I suppose most locals view plans to establish food banks on the island with some surprise or amusement (see for some grisly details, but don’t take any of it as ‘fact’).
It is no surprise to see churches involved in this, as they so often are in plans to abolish the welfare state. Disgruntled government insiders warned me months back this was coming, after the Department of Social Neglect was encouraged by evangelical bloodsuckers to look at a notorious Liverpool scam being operated by other faith-frazzled fraudsters.
 At least three schemes have been jostling for a government green light. No surprise that the worst one is first out of the block, but a huge shame.
Just two names tell me this is a scam, even without bothering to check in more detail. Firstly, the involvement of Church on the Rock - still apparently dominated by a clique which hid sexual abuse of under-age girls by a former pastor until a 1999 court case (after which, for obvious reasons,  they ‘rebranded’). Secondly the involvement of the Trussell Trust, a UK charity which will raise alarm bells in any seasoned investigator of charity abuse.
For a start, this is also the second coming of the Trussell Trust.
The first (England & Wales charity number 1061207) ran from 1997 to 2007 (i.e. roughly the period when EU redevelopment grants to the former Soviet bloc were being handed out like sweeties, the monitoring process was so flawed that local schemes in those countries were disbarred from benefitting and cash flowed back in suitcases to Western religious ‘charities’ in turn controlled from the US). During that period the public emphasis was on ‘aid’ to countries like Bulgaria, rather than the Northern Irish and Scottish feeder schemes – in turn descended from 1980’s schemes run by lunatic fringe churches whereby, effectively, a clueless UK government employed churchworkers to perpetuate sectarian division instead of abolishing it.
The second version (England & Wales charity number 1110522) grabbed what loot was left and reinvented itself around the perceived increase in UK poverty and disempowered communities. See for more details.
From a UK precedent set with Tesco I’m guessing one of scams which will be pulled locally is to collect leftover produce from Manx supermarkets for supposed ‘redistribution’ to the ‘deserving poor’. This is not a new idea.
To my certain knowledge the biggest UK supermarket chains have been handing boxloads of produce close to sell-by dates to island religious organisations since at least the early 1980’s, though because supermarkets never like to reveal just how much perfectly good food gets binned there was no publicity. Also to my certain knowledge, much of it got snapped up by middle class worshippers and never reached needy families, because by their twisted logic those families were not ‘deserving’.
When, on two occasions, I told genuine community groups about this source of free food it was the Zombie Carpenter’s freeloading chums who blocked letting them in on the discreet distribution. I suspect they will do so again, just as I fully expect they will use their monopoly over the supply as a means to pack out their empty pews. Some of the newcomers will have learnt this by watching how Samaritan’s Purse build Baptist puppet churches throughout Eastern Europe.
In short, not a welcome development and not a genuine attempt to tackle increasing inequality on the island. But then, this is inevitable if Manx evangelicals are so closely involved with the very government departments which create inequality and destroy all attempts by ordinary Manx people to keep community going.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

But is it really safe?

I was busy elsewhere so can only now suggest treating a new outfit called Safe, Strong, Secure with some caution. I hope I am wrong about this, but want people to be safe and not sorry, hence the advice to look carefully before you consider running.
If you took the latest blurb (see ) at face value someone (obviously not a local) is trying to do something positive about the island's hidden domestic violence problem.
Actually, one major problem is that it is not hidden. In fact it is almost obligatory for any bloke who wants to fit into our sad little Manx macho subculture to boast about how he knocks ‘his’ womenfolk into line - at least if he wants to get on in business or the public sector.
It is one of the first things any visitor or new resident notices about this place. Even the most conservative women I know who have settled here from elsewhere still regularly remark what knuckledragging neanderthals Manx men can be.
So, if anyone was serious about naming, shaming and dragging the island into the same century as civilised countries we should all get behind that. And if this project really is, then fine.
Another problem is that the root of all this Manx misogyny is religious, and that because the religious right have discreetly infiltrated social projects – inevitably including all with government links or funding – then the problem is buried, not solved. I look at the list of possible allies and note Victim Support (hopelessly under the mucky thumb of Broadway Batwits, as is the Women's Refuge), Samaritans (prodnose godbotherers galore)  and the Salvation Army (hardly friends of women or the gay community on their local track record). And the linked problem to that (as anyone who has tried to get to the roots of Manx misogyny discovers pretty quickly) is that - far from dealing with casual sexism, actual physical or psychological violence and the oppression of women and small kids in general - Manx churches breed and protect the worst culprits, and will pull any string they have to in government to make sure the victims go unheard and the perpetrators keep their safe little public and ‘third sector’ jobs.
And it gets worse, because when I spotted the original BBC article last year that sparked off the first meeting (see ) something else rang alarm bells. To be precise, the mention of a UK charity called Restored.
For those who never check out these things, Restored (England & Wales charity number 1136774) is part of a 50 strong international Christian alliance, led by some heavyweight US rightist churches and in the UK partnered to Tearfund ( which is remarkable amongst British charities as possibly the only one requiring paid staff and volunteers to sign a pledge vowing to uphold homophobic and misogynist values).
Quoting from their own entry on the England & Wales Charity Register, the objectives of Restored are as follows (and do note the order of importance):


I have to suggest that placing the care and safety of abused Manx women and kids into the hands of monsters with a long record of such abuse is a little like putting the Taliban in charge of girls education in Afghanistan.
I hope I am wrong, and I hope that from somewhere within the sick and twisted belly of the Manx church beast some decent women have met up and said “Enough! We are going to put things right”.
I know some such women, so I hope; but I will not believe it until I see some hard evidence of change.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

21st century child abuse

Well, profuse apologies but I’m still too bogged down with real life to get back to serious blogging.
But I couldn’t go without noting the kerfuffle this week when Tynwald approved the merger of the Isle of Man Adoption Society (still better known locally as the Manx Churches Adoption Welfare Society) with the Isle of Man Children’s Centre, thus also amalgamating the island’s fostering and adoption services (see and ).
As reports say, it only squeaked through after the Bishop (who is honorary president of IOMAS/MCAWS) complained the Society’s directors had not consulted him and so the Tynwald vote was the first he’d heard of it. In turn, our Minister of Social Neglect was keen to point out that MCAWS management themselves had requested the handover of functions in order to close the society.
The immediate problem with this version of events is that, by law, the directors must formally announce the proposed closure meeting by public notice, and simultaneously give written notice to all concerned parties at least 21 days beforehand, so that the Bishop should have known of the meeting and resolution to close. Any ordinary member of the public who worries about such matters would have known, as it appeared in the local press in the public notices – where corporate crooks bury the other evidence of international scams being closed down if anyone can be bothered to look.
There is also the control of MCAWS by the Anglican Synod. In theory, any interested person of good character could offer their services as a director: in practice (and I have this from past attendees of such meetings) a private Synod meeting chooses suitable candidates. ‘Volunteers’ are ‘coincidentally’ proposed and seconded at the AGM and an election follows, conveniently never with more candidates for office than posts. How, then, could a MCAWS board exist unless very much under the thumb of the Bishop?
Another issue is the reasons for the closure.
Insiders suggest the government discreetly told MCAWS it would no longer fund separate adoption and fostering charities. This seems likely as the Minister for Social Neglect (another religious zealot, of course, though in his case a devotee of Rome’s new link to 1980’s Argentinean fascism) clearly demonstrates he believes there are ‘deserving’ and ‘feckless’ poor, and is gradually depriving all such sinners (be they old, disabled or simply too badly educated for employment) of the public support expected in a civilized society.
Then there is the matter of a Catholic adoption agency in Leeds, whose continued refusal to allow gay couples to adopt has been vetoed by the courts at every level of appeal. Following our Civil Partnership Act, MCAWS (one suspects with gritted teeth and rictus grins) have duly made it known that applications from straight or gay couples, divorcees or single people would all be considered without prejudice. Again, I’ve been discreetly told that gays and other such delinquents might have to have their applications considered by the island’s  moral guardians of religious rightness, but in practice would never be successful.
Sadly, though, this may not be quite the victory for common sense it appears.
Partly because from the 1980’s (when Manx government childcare was noticeably ‘dumbed down’ by cheap evangelical alternatives to trained professionals) through to recent years (with seminars being led by new age charismatics with no academic or professional pedigree) childcare on the island is itself something of a foster home for wacky ideas. 
Partly because the Children’s Centre is yet another ghetto for the ‘ladies who lunch’. You probably know the score here. Committees are formed by bored rich women whose husbands spend their days diverting foreign aid from the poor towards the offshore accounts of developing world dictators in return for control of natural resources by Western corporations. Funds get raised at glittering social soirees, and, inevitably, are spent with more regard for the latest fad than solid academic research.
Hardworking parents of lesser means find it ironic that while these legends in their own lunchtimes harangue the rest of us about raising children, their own offspring - deprived of parental attention - become the best customers of drug dealers or the first in line to hand their bank accounts to the venal leaders of dead-eyed cults. I say this having personally helped several Manx ’trustafarians’ (in the absence of parental support – or even interest) to escape such fates.
So, the failure to help troubled kids find loving families passes from religious flat-earthers to the kind of vacuous trophy wives who take horoscopes and new age twaddle seriously.
And this is progress?