Saturday, 26 January 2013

Of sock puppets and empty spaces

One New Year’s Resolution I quickly broke was to get serious about this blog and manage at least a weekly update.
Well, “get serious” might be the wrong term, as one of the few things I’m serious about is not taking anything or anyone (including myself) too seriously, but apologies anyway for an inexcusable break in not-so-serious service.
Another resolution was to disturb ‘business as usual’ for local sock puppets and fake charities.
For those who haven’t explored such arguments, ‘sock puppets’ (see for the definitive study) are ‘independent’ agencies which take government money and, quite coincidentally, produce reports and campaigns which validate policies the government had always intended to carry out anyway. Take, for example, the ‘independent’ survey into end-of-life care carried out last year by the employee of one major recipient of government funds which neglected to gather ‘evidence’ from any agency which was not, and which would not benefit from continuing the current mess.
‘Fake charities’ are an older and wider variant on this, and are typically registered charities taking at least half of their income from government. What they have in common is both totally depend on government to perpetuate their existence, and both would collapse if there was genuine public scrutiny or audit of their policies, methodology or performance.
So it was interesting to see this publicity on a government website (see ) for an 'independent' charity offering (in theory) services the government is paid to provide. Because, oddly enough, I  remember when that space was going to be a quiet room for non-Christian visitors to the local hospital.
When the hospital opened, devotees of the Zombie Carpenter made sure there was a lavish hospital chapel, on the dubious basis that troubled patients and relatives needed a quiet space to pray. Interests representing the other 95% of the population quickly pointed out that, actually, most religiously minded staff are Muslim or Hindu and couldn’t even do their devotions there, while any non-religious troubled person would just vomit in a room decked in naff Christian art.
The cheap compromise was a broom cupboard near the entrance with the legend ‘quiet room’ hand-written in blue biro on an envelope blu-tacked to the door. Then a business consultant employed at great expense by the hospital (and coincidentally romantically involved with a leading civil servant, now retired and and a hobby vicar) suggested giving this ‘under-used’ facility over to Macmillans.
Quite why  the much larger, better appointed but equally empty hospital chapel wasn’t offered instead I never quite understood. Obviously, all those experts on cushy government contracts (with their little clickers to count visitor numbers and calculators to calculate ‘cost effectiveness’) never did the analysis.
Perhaps they were just late for church elsewhere. Or perhaps we just need another set of consultants to calculate if the first lot are a cost effective use of public money

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Failure to fly

As we can see from the latest local attempt to suggest a Christian answer to a Christian invented moral panic may not survive long enough to pick up public funds.
I shouldn’t laugh. But I will anyway.
For once, a clueless scheme based on a growing folk myth, in turn based on the refusal of too many local journalists to do basic fact-checking because the guff they print was spouted by folk with crosses around the neck has not led to an outlay of taxpayer funds which might as well have been poured down the nearest drain.
Good. That’s progress by Manx standards.
It’s also hilarious that even in the space between the scheme taking off and the latest leader emerging the back story has changed yet again. Regular readers will spot at once that the cult did not start recently in Halifax, but in Brixton some years back – courtesy of an as yet unconvicted Ghanaian scamster who has now all but vanished from the script.
If anyone actually wants to know, the Halifax and flip-flop element entered care of a quite different West Yorkshire Anglican scheme to place chaplains into nightclubs to run chill-out zones. This was purely commercial on both sides by the way. Cheapskate nightclub promoters didn’t have to pay paramedics as the godbotherers worked for donations and converts only.
The real joke - as anyone who knew the rave scene there at the time knows - is that the nightclubs were run by major criminals as a means to launder money from far nastier activities. Nice friends you have there, vicar!
But locally, religious attempts at running social services rely only on links to governmental criminals and fall into 3 categories. (1) efficient community projects which happen to be run by churches (no problem with that, other than the government get paid to do it so should be doing it rather than franchising the business to their lesser qualified friends), (2) well meaning muddlers (no problem there either. If you want to help out your neighbours, good luck to you) and (3) leeches and predators wearing crosses (just lock them up or tag them).
To be fair, Street Angels seem to be a Class 2 problem – certainly not an efficient or necessary use of public time, energy and resources, but (unlike some Manx evangelical initiatives) not an actual health hazard either. As I said before, if elderly churchgoers really want to spend the night watching adolescents puke it’s up to them. Even sober they can’t do more harm than the drunks already do to each other, and if the police seriously thought it was dangerous they would find an excuse to stop it.

No steps forward, two steps sideways

I found this (see ) quite amusing, as much for the detail left out as for the admission of failure thrown in.
As is not explained by Manx Radio or the Bishop, but I’ve mentioned before (after the UK’s religious press picked up on a prominent C of E press release and effectively asked me ‘Who the hell is this Paterson bloke and why does the C of E trust him to solve the ‘gay question’?”) the “small group” he chaired was a committee of fellow bishops charged by Anglican ‘management’ with finding a way out of the whole mess. In fact, so high profile was it that there were even talks about talks about who should choose such a committee. It was also stacked in favour of the homophobic minority to stop them whining…and yet even their hand-picked golden boys couldn’t manage a hateful enough ‘compromise’. Just how lip-poutingly pathetic can this bunch get?
Oh, and I wouldn’t take that letter to Sentamu as any kind of rebellious gesture either. As regular readers will already know, but newcomers might not, previous to his current post Robert Paterson was personal chaplain and assistant to John Sentamu. The committee of five which selected him as Bishop of Sodor & Mann was (quite coincidentally we must be sure) chaired by John Sentamu, otherwise comprised two brain-dead Manx politicians and two Anglican stooges, and it didn’t consider any other candidates.
But is all this ill will towards gay men the true Christian view?
Well, one suggestion that it is not can be found on Ekklesia (see and is written by the excellent Symon Hill, a fellow anti-militarist (indeed leading light in Campaign Against the Arms Trade) and all round nice guy. I recommend you read it, if only to remind yourself that not all Christians foam at the mouth.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Let's call time on the Puritans

I may as well start the year as I mean to go on.  
So, may I invite you all to raise your glasses and help unashamed hedonists to poke fun at puritans this month?
According to the original blurb from a worthy campaign’s founder:
‘Drinkuary is a quiet counter argument to Alcohol Concern’s “Dry January”. Alcohol Concern want you to not have a drink for the whole month and raise money for them whilst you do so, I don’t care one way or another if you drink or not. I do care that tax funded charities and health organisations feel compelled to tell us how to live our lives. Quite frankly I’m fed up with it, alcohol is heading down the same slippery slope that tobacco has already been forced down with health warnings in every advert and on every label. Yet still these Killjoys and Puritans can’t just let us make up our own minds, nope they have to spend more of our money lecturing us on how we’re drinking too much and having too much fun and should stop it immediately.’
Read more at  Then, if you feel sociable, motivated and energetic enough, join in. They even have cool beer mats. Oh, and also take a look at the Cocktails in Care Homes project, which sounds just like my kind of social work.
Alternatively, you can do as I intend to do every day this year. Which is to carry on my life in a responsible, self-dependant way, paying no notice whatsoever to dull-witted wowsers and parasites on the public purse.
Unless, of course, there is a chance to mock their antics or do something which will wind them up until they explode…or just stop begging and go away.
Happy New Year, and Cheers!!