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.