Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Trailer for Remake of TV Series ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’

January 15, 2022

I found this trailer for a remake of the 90s comedy series, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ on Will Smith’s channel on YouTube. Smith’s a great actor, who’s been in some great movies – Independence Day; I, Robot; and I Am Legend to name just three. But I think it was The Fresh Prince of Bel Air that launched his career. I never really watched it, but I caught the odd bits and pieces of various episodes while waiting for Star Trek to come on. Star Trek: The Next Generation and then Star Trek: Deep Space 9 used to be broadcast on BBC 2 on Wednesday, with the Fresh Prince just before it. From what I remember, the basis plot of Fresh Prince was that Will Smith was a bit of a tearaway from the ghetto, who kept getting into trouble. This wasn’t anything serious, just cheeky pranks. His family therefore sent him to live with his rich relatives in their mansion in Bel Air to straighten him out. The tone was generally light, and Smith had a naturally cheeky charm.

This, however, seems to be rather darker. It’s got cinematic production values, but the basic plot seems to be that the central character was in a fracas on the basketball court with a violent criminal, who has vowed to kill him. Hence he’s sent to live with his rich relatives to get him out of danger. There’s obviously a culture clash between his rough upbringing and the highly rarefied world of the superrich he now moves in. I think there’s also a comment on racial politics, as the characters amazed when I rich White lad gives him a Black ghetto greeting. The remake’s clearly had a very large budget and wants to explore some deep issues, and the lad cast for the Will Smith role certainly looks the part. I just don’t know if it should be darker and whether the concern with contemporary political issues will overshadow the comedy.

A few years ago there was an attempt to the 1980s werewolf comedy, Teen Wolf, into a TV series. This was originally a film starring Michael J. Fox as a teenager, who was afflicted with lycanthropy, It ran in his family. There’s a scene in which his father informs him while shaving that there an inherited problem condition in the family while Fox is shaving in the bathroom. When he opens the door, his father is there in full werewolf form. But the werewolf metamorphosis proved to be a benefit, as it helps him to lead his school basketball team to victory. It was a light, funny film. But when they planned to revive it, they decided they were going to make it darker. I don’t think it ever got made. I think there is a real problem when TV companies take old movies and TV series and try to make them darker for a modern audience. With all the economic pressure and the Covid lockdown make life tough for people, I think there’s a demand instead for more positive, cheerful stuff as well as grim dramas about serial killers.

And I hope that this remake preserves all the real comedy that made the original such a long-lasting hit.

Teachers Scrabble for Cash as Entertainment During American Football Game

January 9, 2022

Yeah, I know, I said I really shouldn’t be platforming mad right-winger Alex Belfield. But this is another genuinely interesting and concerning video he’s put up. It seems a group of teachers demeaned themselves as half-time entertainment in America during a game of American football. An insurance company donated a pile of cash and during the interval a group of teachers came on to scrabble physically for it, stuffing it down their shirt and jumper fronts, in order to get $10,000 each for their school to buy equipment. As you can see from the comments on his site, people compared it to the Hunger Games and the way the poor was forced to compete in that for food.

It’s a bit like Bumfights, a series of videos that came out over a decade ago, but with middle class educators rather than tramps and hoboes. Bumfights were made by a group of rich kids, and featured the homeless fighting each other or doing something equally demeaning in order to get a burger from the people videoing them. It was exploitation of the poorest and desperate. Someone has said since that the homeless people that appeared on these videos were actually paid much more than a simple burger, but this was left out of the cut. Well, perhaps. But it was still immensely tasteless and demeaning, nonetheless. And so is this.

I go the impression that the state schools in America are in crisis, just as they are over here. Various American governments have been trying to close down ordinary public schools and transform them into charter schools. These are, I believe, the American equivalent of our academies. This is often against the wishes of the local community, including parents, teachers and local clergy. Who are naturally ignored. One of those pushing ahead with this policy was Barack Obama, who has described himself as a moderate Republican rather than a Democrat. There’s also the right-wing push for home schooling to protect children against extreme left-wing indoctrination in schools with Queer and Critical Race Theory. Some of the poverty also comes from the peculiar way American public schools are funded. It comes out of local taxes. If the area’s affluent, then so are the schools. If it’s poor, then the local schools are too, and more likely to be poorly maintained and lacking needed equipment and teaching materials. It isn’t like that over here, but government funding to state schools has been increasingly cut so that it’s far less than many need, while governments from Blair onwards have given massive funding to the academies.

I dare say that the insurance company, who donated the money, and the organisers of this competition thought they were doing something noble. After all, game shows have featured people scrabbling for prizes ever since they were invented. But in their case, this is genuinely for entertainment. There isn’t an economic need motivating them, or not usually. And in the quizzes in which celebrities compete to win money for charity, dignity is preserved. You don’t see the celebs on the Chase physically scrabble for the cash on their hands and knees. But I’m afraid this nasty little piece of squalid entertainment could start a trend, and might come over here.

This is just exploiting people’s poverty. Schools everywhere should be properly funded so that they can afford to give their pupils the best education possible with the equipment and learning materials they need. And teachers should be properly paid as respectable professionals responsible for educating and inspiring the kids in their charge.

Another Festive Musical Attack on the Tories from PoliticsJoe

December 27, 2021

I’ve been putting up some of the vids from Kunt and the Gang for their obscene song about our incompetent, greedy, and murderous prime minister. However, they haven’t only made one or two. They’ve made thirteen, which is far too many to put up. And I think we’ve got the message by now. But here’s another musical spoof of them I found on YouTube from JOE: Now That’s What I Call A Tory Christmas. It’s a parody of the long-running series of music albums, Now That’s What I Call Music. The spoof songs include a version of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, about them telling people to keep apart while they themselves partied, Michael Gove singing a version of ‘White Christmas’ with a suspicious sniff; the horsey woman sings about how cronyism got her the contract for PPE and Rishi Sunak and friends singing about how they’ve spaffed everyone’s money up the wall. Other songs satirise Dominic Cummings for his drive to Barnard Castle and the Tory party cutting aid to Africa. And there’s a final song from a football commentator, manager or somebody advising us all not to vote for these bellends. Which is excellent advice. All with a carefully cut and edited voiceover from the minister for the 18th century, which makes him seem even more of a ridiculous anachronism than he already is. So enjoy!

Private Eye on Luciana Berger

November 14, 2021

Remember Luciana Berger? She is, or was, the Blairite MP for Liverpool who joined the chorus of Jewish MPs screaming that Jeremy Corbyn was an evil anti-Semite and a threat to British Jewry because he criticised Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Oh yes, and he wanted to ditch Thatcherism. She was one of the lynch mob of angry White women who turned up at the kangaroo trial of Marc Wadsworth demanding that he should be expelled for the dreadful crime of embarrassing Ruth Smeeth. For which Wadsworth, a long-term anti-racist activist who had worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews in passing legislation to deal with real anti-Semitic attacks by the BNP, was labelled an anti-Semite. Berger seems to have turned up amongst the intake of new MPs in the 2010 parliament, and so Private Eye ran a feature on her in their ‘The New Boys and Girls’ column in their issue for the 18-31 March 2011. She comes across as fiercely ambitious, opportunistic and with scant interest or understanding of the ordinary Liverpudlians she supposedly represented. The article runs

She may recently have been voted the most fanciable member of parliament, and since being elected as Labour MP for Liverpool Watertree last year she has developed a drooling fan club of sad, middle-aged men in the Commons – but looks deceive.

Twenty-eight year old Luciana Berger is what the comrades used to describe as a “right operator”. Within a few months of her arrival, Ed Miliband had already promoted her to the frontbench as a shadow minister for energy and climate change.

Her swift climb up the greasy pole began soon after she left the Haberdasher Aske’s School for Girls and went to Birmingham University, where she became an executive member of the National Union of Students, convening national anti-racism campaigns. She resigned in 2005, accusing the NUS of taking a lax attitude to anti-Semitism on campus.

She later took up a “public affairs” post at Accenture and went on to advise the NHS Confederation, but not before the rumour mill had come alive with talk of a relationship with Euan Blair after the pair were pictured at a party. Denials came thick and fast, not only from Blair but also from the Labour party, which took it upon itself to issue an official statement saing that young Luciana “was not, and had never been” romantically linked with Euan Blair.

One of her predecessors in the Liverpool Wavertree seat, the late Terry Fields, might have doffed his fireman’s helmet to her for the way she managed to get selected in the first place, for it came straight out of the old Militant Tendency’s instruction manual. While Labour was choosing its candidate, Berger lived for a month at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose partner was the Labour official who ran the selection process, Peter Dowling. The completed ballot papers were then returned to Kennedy’s home address for counting.

A furious Frank Hont, secretary of the regional branch of the Unison trade union, lodged protests with party bosses, to no avail. Although veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a “student politician” who lacked the experience to do the job, Berger went on to beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on an “all-wimmin” shortlist. By this time, Berger was in a relationship with the MP and journalist Sion Simon, who was shortly to stand down from parliament to devote his energies to becoming mayor of Birmingham. The pair were talked of as a new “power couple”.

Berger didn’t improve her stock with incandescent Scousers by committing a series of gaffes that would have sunk a less shameless candidate. In January 2010, the Liverpool Echo tested Berger with a four-question quiz on Liverpool life and history. She scored two out of four, not knowing who performed “Ferry Cross the Mersey”, and not recognising the name of former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly.

In her defence, Berger said that “you can’t ask a girl a football question” and added: “I’m not new to the city. I’ve been coming here for the past decade through all different jobs.” It is difficult to know what caused more offence, Berger’s failure to have heard of Shankly or her reference to coming to the city “through all different jobs” – jobs, after all, being a commodity in short supply on Merseyside.

For a while it looked as though she would be given a run for her money at the election by Scouse actor and former union activist Ricky Tomlinson, who announced that he would stand for the Socialist Labour Party under the election slogan “Berger – my arse!” – but then wimped out because of “personal and contractual commitments”.,

Once in parliament, Berger’s ability to upset local sensitivities continued. Last October she infuriated Liverpudlians by appearing on a Radio Five Live show with Kelvin McKenzie, who was the editor of the Sun at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and whose coverage of the story led to a boycott of the paper on Merseyside that last to this day. Berger’s lame defence was that she “didn’t know who the other guests were”.

With yet another little local difficulty somehow shrugged off, Luciana has also shrugged off Sion Simon and is now romantically involved with an equally ambitious Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, who has been dubbed “the British Obama”. With the pair already being talked of as a new “power couple”, let’s hope the Labour party doesn’t go and spoil things against by issuing a denial.”

From this, it seems that she won her selection as Labour MP through knowing the right people, and is less interested in representing Liverpool than using it as a base to get her rear end in parliament. Which describes any number of Blairite MPs, male and female. As for saying that it was unfair to expect a girl to know about football, this sounds less persuasive ten years later when there’s a campaign to get more women and girls playing sport and women’s footie has been a regular fixture on the box with the men’s. As for Berger’s commitment to anti-racism, while I’m sure it was genuine enough at the time it was clearly outweighed in the Wadsworth’s case by her determination to defend Israel and purge the party of Corbyn and his supporters anyway she could. I also wonder about her complaint that Birmingham University wasn’t doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism. It’s possible it was all as she said it was, and there was real anti-Semitism on campus. But the Blairites deliberately conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Was the anti-Semitism she was so upset about simply other student activists, equally determined in their opposition to racism, condemning Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians?

And it is, in my view, too bad that Tomlinson didn’t stand against her and win. If he had done so, it was have done much to demonstrate to the Blairites, and particularly Starmer, that the Old Labour they despise has the power to defeat them by being able to create its own, independent party outside their control.

Black Earthling Boy Meets White Alien in New John Lewis Christmas Ad

November 4, 2021

John Lewis have just launched their Christmas. This follows their failed advert for insurance, in which a White boy in makeup dances around the family home wrecking it and spraying glitter and paint everywhere. That was widely criticised for promoting the trans ideology amongst children and for false advertising, as apparently the insurance policy being sold didn’t cover deliberate damage. In the new advert, a cute Black little boy sees an alien spacecraft fall out of the sky. He follows the contrail into the woods, where he sees a crashed alien spaceship and its humanoid pilot. The alien is White with white hair and rather feminine. The lad offers her some mince pies. The alien accepts them, and the two becomes friends. While fixing her craft the alien sets the electrics working so that the Christmas lights on a neighbour’s house suddenly come on, much to the neighbour’s annoyance. Having repaired her spacecraft, the alien gives the lad a peck on the cheek in farewell and flies off. The lad goes home to join his family for a festive meal, while looking into the sky. The sound track for the ad is a cover version of Phil Oakey’s ‘Electric Dreams’. I found this video of it put up on YouTube by the Guardian.

Alex Belfield has already posted a rant about it. He rightly points out that it doesn’t contain much in the way of Christmas imagery. There’s no Santa Claus, although it’s possibly a pine forest so there might be Christmas trees. There also isn’t much in the way of specifically Christian imagery either. I might be wrong, but there’s no nativity scene. It’s a very secular interpretation of Christmas. A decade ago there was controversy over what the Daily Mail and other right-wing papers and organisations described as a ‘war on Christmas’. They were angry because some local councils appeared to be deliberately omitting or playing down any mention of Christmas because they were somehow afraid it would offend non-Christian minorities. Birmingham council was particularly attacked for its reinterpretation of the festive season as ‘Winterval’. I’ve heard instead that, rather than replace Christmas, ‘Winterval’ was dreamed up as a marketing initiative by Brum’s council to create an inclusive festive season that would also cover the festivals of other faiths near Christmas, like Hanukka and Diwali. Also, from what I saw, most if not all of the calls for the removal of any public celebration of Christmas came not from the members of non-Christian religions, but from atheists and secularists like the National Humanist Society. The framed their arguments on behalf of religious minorities, while I think they were far more motivated by the rise of a much more militant atheism following the publication of Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I also think that the advert is secular simply from the sheer mechanism of capitalism, although John Lewis is organised as a partnership with its workers more like a cooperative. Capitalism and private industry exist to maximise profits. One way of doing this is seeking out new markets to you can sell your product to more people. About 15 per cent of the British population is Black and Asian, and many of the latter are non-Christians, like Hindus, Muslims and so on. Christians are now a minority in the general population. Hence John Lewis and many of the other firms advertising play down Christmas as a religious festival in order to appeal to a broader section of customers.

But Belfield also criticised the advert because he thinks that the alien in it is ‘ambivilacious’, his term for anything that is gay, non-binary, trans or generally sexually ambiguous. I can see what he means, though it seems to me that the alien is more like a pre-adolescent girl rather than anything more exotic and controversial. I might be reading it wrong, but it seems more like a tale of Earth boy meets alien girl in an innocent Christmastide romance.

Behind all this, I think the advert’s been strongly influenced by a number of pop songs and seasonal films. It reminds me more than a little of the Chris de Burgh song about a visiting spaceman at Christmas, which really is a Christian metaphor. ET with its friendship between a human child, Elliot, and a cute extraterrestrial, is another one, although it also has its differences. The most significant of which is, in my opinion, ET was definitely nonhuman and alien, while the alien in this very humanoid except for her suit and the colouring of her hair. It also reminds me of the seasonal children’s film, A Christmas Martian, a Canadian film that the Beeb screened one festive season over here when I was a sprog. Mercifully, the advert doesn’t seem to have been inspired by the truly dreadful Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which was screened over here one Christmas in the early ’80s as part of Michael Medved’s season of terrible movies, The Worst of Hollywood, on Channel 4. But if the alien is sexually ambiguous, I suspect it might be due more to the influence of David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust than the trans movement.

Or it might come from certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon itself. Among the various aliens supposedly visiting Earth and abducting people are the ‘Nordics’. These are tall, blonde aliens, like Nordic White Europeans, hence the name. They are also sometimes described as having long hair and a feminine appearance. One of the early UFO contactees, Frank E. Strange, provides a picture of one in his book A Stranger in the Pentagon. Strange claimed that the US government has made a treaty with aliens from Venus. These aliens could provide us with a method of producing cheap, clean energy, but had been prevented from doing so by ‘certain interests’. If nothing else, this shows that people were looking for alternative energy as long ago as the ’50s and ’60s, and the ‘certain interests’ sounds very much like a veiled reference to the oil industry. The ‘alien’ in the photo to me simply looks like a blonde, glamorous woman and not like anyone who arrived here from Venus, or anywhere else. The veteran Fortean, John Keel, author of the books The Mothman Prophecies, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse and Disneyland of the Gods, stated that the Nordics were so feminine in appearance he wondered if they were gay. You can certainly wonder what was going on in Buck Nelson’s encounter with the Nordics on his farm. He was going out to his barn one morning when a group of four of them, all with long hair, came out of his barn, stark naked. They told him they from Venus, and explained the nudity by saying that they wore no clothes in order to show him that they were as human as he was. Well, they might have been Venusians, but it seems to me they may also have been a group of ordinary men. They may have been gay, and looking for a quiet place for their activities because of the legal prohibition of homosexuality in America at the time. Or they may have been pranksters playing a joke.

It also reminds me of a supposedly true UFO encounter that happened in the 1970s at Christmas. A woman was in her kitchen baking cakes when a groups of small, winged aliens came in. They greeted her and asked for some of the cakes, which she gave to them. They made a few more remarks before finally departing. This is one of the stranger UFO cases which makes me definitely wonder if the UFO phenomenon isn’t a more modern version of the ancient fairy phenomenon rather than anything genuinely extraterrestrial. This does not, however, mean that it isn’t still paranormal, as Keel and Jacques Vallee have argued in their books.

Back to the advert, it looks innocuous enough. While I can’t say that I like it’s secularism, this seems to be a response to the changes in British society rather than an ideologically motivated attempt to foster such changes. And the values it embraces seem wholesome enough. Black and White people come together across the gulfs of space and the Black lad is shown at home enjoying a family meal. This is, in my view, definitely good, as the breakdown in the British and western family has done immense harm to both Whites and Blacks.

If I have a criticism, it’s about the background music. The original song ‘Electric Dreams’ is a jolly, upbeat piece. It was, I believe, used in the 1980s SF film, Weird Science, about two teenage boys who create their idea of the perfect woman on their computer, who then materialises before them. Sort of like Beavis and Butthead meet Tron. And the perfect woman, clad only in bra and panties, says to them ‘What would you little maniacs like to do next?’ The version used here turns it instead into a plaintive ballad until the final few bars, more an expression of sorrow and loss than joy. But it seems to follow a general trend of reinterpretations of classic tracks. At the Commonwealth Games held in Scotland a few years ago the opening ceremony included a version of the Proclaimers’ ‘I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles’. This song is another upbeat hit in something very much like classic march time. But instead it was performed as another plaintive, soulful wail. I’m probably showing my age here, but is contemporary youth so depressed that they can only listen to depressing versions of great old songs? Or is it that the middle aged producers of adverts like John Lewis’ are so depressed, that they can only listen to depressing versions of upbeat hits and so are unintentional contributing to the psychological and spiritual anguish of the rising generation. A generation that has enough problems of its own.

Anyway, even if the advert is intended to sell people stuff rather than anything deeper, it’s a fun piece of trash culture with a bit of kinship to some genuine Ufological high strangeness. And that’s always good for a festive tale of the paranormal.

And here’s the trailer for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which I found on the DTFFmaryville channel on YouTube. In its way, truly a cinematic classic!

Paul Joseph Watson on Alex Scott’s Devastating Discovery of a Black Slave-Owning Ancestor

October 20, 2021

Paul Joseph Watson is another right-wing YouTube personality like Sargon. He used to be Alex Jones’ British sidekick on InfoWars on the other side of the pond. And like Sargon, he contributed to the destruction of UKIP by joining it. So, I make the same caveats and warning about his content as I do about Sargon’s. However, like Sargon and the ghastly Lotus Eaters, he also makes very good points occasionally. In this video he discusses the shock Alex Scott had on the genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are?, when she discovered that one of her Jamaican ancestors, Robert Francis Combs, owned slaves in the 1820s. Scott is a Black woman, who was brought in as part of the Beeb’s diversity campaign to replace Dan Walker on Football Focus. Her ancestor was Jamaican, and I at first thought that he might have been a White planter, as many of them had children through their Black mistresses. But this was not so. Combes was Black. Scott was assured by an historian present that this actually wasn’t uncommon. Paul Joseph Watson goes on to make the point that slavery was found all over the world, and that it was Africans who sold the slaves to us. At the same time the Barbary pirates from North Africa raided Europe as far as Iceland for slaves. He asks why this isn’t taught in schools, and complains that only Whites are taught to feel shame about their ancestor’s past involvement in slavery.

Watson is exactly right. One of the problems faced by the Abolitionists was that slavery was found all over the world. In America and the Caribbean, free Blacks and those of mixed race often did own slaves. Black slave owners also received compensation for the emancipation of their slaves by the British government on abolition in 1837. One of the documents I looked at when I was working on the slavery archive at the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum contained a list of Maroons – the descendants of the runaway slaves, who succeeded in establishing free Black towns in the Jamaican interior – who owned slaves, with the recommendation that they should also receive compensation. Watson also points out in the video that so great was the involvement of indigenous African chiefs in the enslavement of other Africans, that it’s become a major issue in Nigeria with commenters stating that they can now no longer blame the Whites.

However, it does seem that Black involvement in the slave trade is being deliberately played down because of current racial politics. It is held that there is a direct line from slavery to the current underprivileged condition of much of the western Black population. This is true, but it’s also an oversimplification as it assumes that slavery is only something Whites did to Blacks. Real, undisguised chattel slavery has returned to Africa, apart from areas like Mauretania where it’s never gone away. The Islamists in Libya have opened slave markets there, and there are also markets selling slaves in Uganda. But anti-racist activists really don’t want to discuss this issues because, as I columnist Kate Maltby wrote, it is diversion from the main issue of tackling western racism and inequality.

But this issue has to be tackled, even if it complicates matters particularly when it comes to reparations for slavery. I’ve pointed out how the motion passed by Bristol council calling for reparations for all ‘Afrikans’ is actually unfair, because of the complicity of many African peoples in the slave trade. And Critical Race Theory and other forms of extreme anti-racist ideologies are also unjust for precisely the reason Watson points out. They do demand that Whites feel guilty for slavery while ignoring others’ involvement.

I have every sympathy for Scott. It was a terrible shock to her as a woman of colour, and she is not responsible for whatever her ancestors did. But neither are contemporary Whites.

This is why we need to be properly informed and educated about historical slavery, rather than accept the received, simplified view devised by well-meaning anti-racists.

Arthur C. Clarke Helped to Bring the Benefits of Space and High Technology to the Developing World

October 18, 2021

Last week there was a bit of controversy between William Shatner and Prince William. As the man behind Captain Kirk went with a party of others to the High Frontier aboard Jeff Bezos’ SpaceX, the prince declared that such space tourism was a waste and a threat to the environment. I think here the prince was thinking about the extremely rich and their private jets, and the damage that the carbon emissions from mass aircraft travel are doing to the environment. I respect the prince’s commitment to the environment and the Earthshot prize he launched last night, but believe that on this issue he’s profoundly wrong.

If space tourism was only about letting extremely right people go into space aboard highly polluting spacecraft, as it seems the prince believes, then I’d certainly be inclined to agree with him. But it isn’t. Way back at the beginning of this century I gave a paper at a British Interplanetary Society symposium on the popular commercialisation of space. Many of the papers were about space tourism. The one that real down a real storm, far better than my own, was from a young chap who suggested that space was the ideal venue for sports that would be impossible on Earth. Because of the complete absence of gravity, you could play something like Harry Potter’s Quidditch for real.

The hope with space tourism is that it will help open up the High Frontier to further space commercialisation. This includes lowering launch costs so that eventually they’ll become affordable and people will be able to move into space to live and work, building true communities up there. And with that comes the hope that industry will move there as well, thus relieving some of the environmental pressures down here on Earth. Gerard O’Neill, who put forward concrete plans and designs for these colonies, believed that this would be one of the benefits of space colonisation and industrialisation. For one thing, the industrialisation of space may be able to provide clean, green energy instead of the carbon emitting fossil fuel power stations that we now use. Solar energy is abundant in space, and it has been suggested that this could be collected using vast solar arrays, which would then beam the power to Earth as microwaves.

The late, great SF writer Arthur C. Clarke was a very strong advocate of space colonisation and industrialisation. An optimist about humanity’s future in space and the benefits of high technology, Clarke not only argued for it but also tried to help make it a reality. Space and other forms of high technology offer considerable benefits to the Developing World, which is one of the reasons India has invested relatively large amounts in its space programme. And so has Clarke’s adopted country of Sri Lanka, with the assistance of the Space Prophet himself. I found this passage describing the work of such a centre, named after Clarke, in Sri Lanka in Brian Aldiss’ and David Wingrove’s history of Science Fiction, Trillion Year Spree.

“Clarke is, moreover, actively engaged in bringing about that better world of which he writes. From his base in Colombo, Sri Lanka, he has become directly (and financially) involved in a scheme to transfer modern high-technology to the developing countries of the Third World.

The Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Modern Technologies, sited at the University of Moratuwa, outside Colombo, embraces numerous high-tech disciplines, including computers and alternate energy sources, with plans to expand into the areas of robotics and space technologies. The main emphasis, however, is on developing a cheap communications system tailored to the agricultural needs of the Third World.

Such a project harnesses expensive space technologies in a way which answers those critics who have argued that it is immoral to waste funds on the romantic gesture of spaceflight when problems of poverty, illness and hunger remain in the world. That advanced technology would eventually benefit all of Mankind has always been Clarke’s belief-perhaps naive, but visionaries often function more effectively for a touch of naivety about them. One has to admire this benevolent, aspiring side of Clarke; it is the other side of the coin to L Ron Hubbard.” (P. 402, my emphasis).

It has never been a simple case of space exploration going ahead at the expense of human suffering here on Earth. Space tourism, at present confined to the extremely wealth like Shatner, is part of a wider campaign to open up the High Frontier so that humanity as a whole will benefit.

And the late comedian Bill Hicks also used to look forward to an optimistic future of world peace and the colonisation of space. He used to end his gigs with his own vision. If we spent used the money the world currently spends on arms for peace instead, we could end world hunger. Not one person would starve. And we could colonise the universe, in peace, forever.

It’s an inspiring vision. As another Star Trek captain would say:

Make it so!’

And here’s a bit of fun I found on YouTube. It’s a video of a man in Star Trek costume, playing the theme to the original series on the Theremin. Engage!

Rosie Duffield Invited to Join Tories

October 9, 2021

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I caught a headline from the Torygraph yesterday that Rosie Duffield, the Blairite who claimed she needed protection at the Labour party conference because of threats from transgender activists, had been invited to cross the floor. In fact, as Mike showed in his piece about Duffield’s claim, it doesn’t seem to have happened. Duffield produced absolutely no threatening messages from social media or physical mail. It looked very much like she was following the example of a Jewish female MP, who claimed she had been sent anti-Semitic messages but didn’t produce any evidence of that either. But Duffield is right wing, with a record of demanding further cuts to welfare, punishing the poor for being poor. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if she had received just such an invitation. There have been stories that three Labour MPs are ready to defect, and I know some Tories would have liked Blairite MP Frank Field to join them.

However, even if those particular threats against Duffield were a product of her malign imagination, they’re all too credible because transgender activists can be threatening and violent. There have been a series of cases where TRAs (Trans Rights Activists) have physically attacked feminists demonstrators and beaten them. To add insult to injury, the same activists have then sued their victim for transphobia. Many women are extremely concerned and outraged at the trans ideology. Kelly-Jay Kean, for example, is particularly concerned about the way an increasing number of vulnerable children, particularly girls and young women, have become convinced they are trans or non-binary to the point they are taking up surgery. Other concerns are that the trans label has now become so broad that biological men are being allowed into women’s spaces, such as sports changing rooms, toilets, and prisons, on the grounds that they identify as women. Many of the men in women’s prisons have convictions for crimes against women and the result has been a series of rapes and sexual assaults to the point where the Californian prison service is giving out condoms and contraceptive advice to female inmates.

Underneath this is the concern that natal, biological femininity is being erased to accommodate the expansion of femaleness to include transwomen. The NHS has published medical literature referring to chestfeeding, instead of breastfeeding, and ‘birthing bodies’, instead of women/mothers. Yesterday Kean and her comrades demonstrated outside the offices of the Lancet because the prestigious medical journal had published a piece about how women’s disorders and diseases had not received the proper attention they deserved. This would be a fair comment, applauded by feminists, apart for one fact. It didn’t refer to women except by the reproductive organs natal women possess but not transpeople. Equally incendiary has been Keir Starmer’s refusal to say that only women have a cervix on an interview on television. Instead the Labour leader got angry and said it was a question that shouldn’t be asked. To anti-gender activists, this showed that Starmer was opposed to free speech. Which he is. But then, Jo Swinson of the Lib Dems couldn’t answer what a woman was when asked and posters with the dictionary definition of woman as ‘adult human female’ have been judged hateful and transphobic.

I am very definitely not trying to stir up hate here against genuine transpeople, who do need careful therapy and surgery. I do not want to see anyone persecuted and subjected to abuse and violence because of their gender identification. But there are reasonable concerns about the trans ideology and the extension of the concept of femininity to cover everyone who claims to identify as a woman. One of the maddest things I’ve encountered in this direction is a book published by a trans rights activists about sex between a biological man and a lesbian, and how that should be embraced by the lesbian. The argument is that, as the man identifies as a woman, he is therefore a lesbian, and should be embraced as such. The book then claims that as he identifies as a man, his male genitalia are therefore female. Which is utterly bonkers.

The gender critical movement has been attacked as right-wing, but very many of its members actually come from the left, such as Kean and Linehan. Last week Linehan said on his weekly video about the transgender craze, The Mess We’re In, that he was surprised at the silence in the Tory party about all this. This was in contrast to the state of the Labour party, which is tearing itself apart over the issue. He believed that they were waiting to hoover up women, who felt disenfranchised and marginalised by the trans movement.

If the invitation to Duffield to join the Tories is real, then it proves this is starting to happen.

And while liberal feminists support trans rights and initiatives to counter transphobia, this is increasingly rejected by gender critical feminists as well as ordinary women and their male supporters, who have been peaked by seeing just how extreme the trans ideology is becoming.

Duffield herself is a noxious individual, and her departure from Labour would be no loss. But it would be hugely damaging to the party as a whole if they alienated ordinary women just to cater to an extreme gender ideology.

History Debunked on Bristol University’s Statue to Henrietta Lacks

October 8, 2021

There was news yesterday that Bristol University had put up a statue of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman outside its medical buildings. This was accompanied with rather grandiose statements hailing her as the mother of modern medicine. This surprises me, as you would expect from such a description that Lacks herself was a doctor, surgeon or biologist of some kind. As Webb’s video shows, she was actually none of these. She was an ordinary Black American woman, who died of cervical cancer. What makes her different is that cells were taken from her body, cultured so that the line has carried on, and were studied by doctors and biologists. This has led to a number of cures and treatments for diseases like the Polio vaccine. Some of this research was done at the university. Hence the statue. I think the decision to put one up to her may well have been influenced by a book that was published about her a few years ago, The Case of Henrietta Lacks.

Webb considers that the statue is part of a general campaign to pull down monuments to White men and put up statues instead to Black women, even if their contribution to British history and culture is actually quite minor. He talks about a monument put up in Wales to honour a Black headmistress. He feels that while the woman would hardly warrant a statue if she were White, at least she did something more worthwhile than Smiley Culture. He was a pop star in the 1980s who was promoted yesterday as a hero of Black British history in an article in the Metro by Alicia Adjoa. But Culture’s end was rather less than heroic. He committed suicide after being caught importing a massive amount of cocaine. Bristol, in his view, is trying to put up a statue to a Black person to replace the one of Edward Colston, pulled down by Black Lives Matter protesters.

There is indeed pressure to put up statues of great Black British figures. The argument is that there are too few monuments to Black people and that this doesn’t represent to the diversity of contemporary British society. The problem is that while Blacks have been present in Bristol since the 16th century, they’ve only been here in large numbers since the Empire Windrush. And the majority of Black Britons led largely humble, unspectacular lives. Hence the fact that many of these statues honour people, whose achievements, while worthy, are relatively small.

I also think the statue has been erected for reasons quite specific to Bristol University. The University has considerably benefited from donations from the Colston charities. This, not surprisingly, is resented by Black activists, and so the University responded a few years ago by appointing a Black woman to be its first professor of the history of slavery. As far as I can make out, her job is really to work out what to do with the money from the Colston charities in the way of anti-racism and pro-Black policies.

The University was also in the local news this week for having set up a bursary solely for Black students. BBC Points West announced that the current Black population on campus is only less than 3 per cent of the total. This seems to me to be a response to another accusation. Bristol has a large Black population. I don’t know what the situation is now, but London, Birmingham and Bristol were the cities with largest Black populations in the UK. But the number of Black students at the university was small. The problem with this criticism is that Bristol, as one of the country’s leading universities, has, or used to have, very high entrance standards. Blacks perform less well academically than the other races, and so consequently have less opportunity to enter further education without the benefit of such affirmative action programmes. Also, when I was at school back in the 1980s you were actively discouraged from applying to the university in your home town. Thus it wouldn’t have mattered how large Bristol’s Black population were, they would have been advised by their teachers at that time to apply to universities and colleges elsewhere. Of course, this has changed somewhat with the ending of the student grant and the introduction of tuition fees. More students are applying to local universities through the sheer necessity of keeping costs down by staying in their home town.

Now the statue of Lacks is all very well, but I feel that if statues are going to be put up, it should be to people with some connection to the city. If we’re talking medicine, perhaps the first Black nurse to serve in one of the city’s hospitals. Or the person or people who started St. Paul’s carnival, if there isn’t one already. My mother also remembers there being a Black Bristolian boxer of her parents’ generation. A statue could have been put up of him as a local sporting hero. You could even go back to the depictions of Black Bristolians published in the 19th century.

While these people wouldn’t have been great scientists, they would at least have had a genuine connection to the city.

Is Starmer Trying to Manufacture a Rupture with the Unions?

September 29, 2021

Mike put up a piece this morning reporting that the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union had disaffiliated from the Labour party following the party’s threat to expel their lead, Ian Hodson. Hodson’s crime was to have dealings with one of the organisations Starmer has expelled on the trumped up charge of anti-Semitism, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. LAW was founded to support Labour members, who had been unfairly accused of anti-Semitism and expelled. However, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt was perfectly acceptable when Hodson dealt with it. The expulsion is yet another example of Starmer’s retroactive justice, which has always been the mark of the tyrant. BFAWU is one of the founding members of the Labour party, and Keir Starmer is the first Labour leader to have driven such a union away. This is yet another first in his long list of disgrace and treachery. BFAWU planned their vote to coincide with Starmer’s speech but it was moved forward to the day before. They also released a statement criticising the bargain basement Stalin for ignoring Tory inflicted poverty to carry on a factional campaign against the left.

The statement, as quoted by Mike, ran

“We need footballers to campaign to ensure our schoolchildren get a hot meal. Workers in our sector, who keep the nation fed, are relying on charity and good will from family and friends to put food on their tables. They rely on help to feed their families, with 7.5% relying on food banks, according to our recent survey.

“But instead of concentrating on these issues we have a factional internal war led by the leadership. We have a real crisis in the country and instead of leadership, the party’s leader  chooses to divide the trade unions and the membership by proposing changes to the way elections for his successor will take place.

“We don’t see that as a political party with any expectations of winning an election. It’s just the leader trying to secure the right wing faction’s chosen successor.

“The decision taken by our delegates doesn’t mean we are leaving the political scene; it means we will become more political and we will ensure our members’ political voice is heard as we did when we started the campaign for £10 per hour in 2014.

“Today we want to see £15 per hour for all workers, the abolition of zero hours contracts and ending discrimination of young people by dispensing with youth rates.

The BFAWU will not be bullied by bosses or politicians. When you pick on one of us you take on all of us. That’s what solidarity means.”

(Boldings Mike’s)

The campaign for a minimum wage is yet another cause Stalin has betrayed. He initially supported it, but now has turned against it, presumably because it’ll upset the Tory businessmen and right-wing media he’s trying to impress.

I wonder if Stalin is trying to manufacture a break with the unions, or at least those that threaten the dominance of the right. The Tories, as the party of the rich and business, hate the unions with a passion and have done everything they reasonably could to destroy them or at least severely curtail their power. The unions are blamed for the industrial unrest of the 1970s, and there have been a series of attempts by the Tories to stop the union levy to the Labour party. And one refrain used by the Tories over and over again is that the Labour party is the puppet of its trade union bosses. In fact Labour was partly founded to represent the trade unions, developing from the ‘Lib-Labs’ – the union representatives who sat in parliament as members of the Liberal party in the late 19th century and the Labour representation committee. Blair’s New Labour remodelled itself on the Conservatives following the example of Bill Clinton’s New Democrats, who embraced Republican policies in order to appeal to Repeal voters. Starmer is doing the same, trying to purge the party of socialists and rejecting the socialist policies of the last manifesto, policies that he planned to support, in order to appeal to Tory voters and businessmen. Starmer seems to follow Blair in wishing for donations from business to be the main source of party income, rather than subscriptions from the party’s members and funding from the unions. Essentially the New Labour project was a capitulation to Tory criticism. And right at the beginning of his leadership, Tory Tony threatened to cut all ties with unions if they didn’t support his reforms of the party.

This is why I think Keef Stalin may be trying to engineer a split with the unions in his campaign to remodel the party fully into a clone of the Tories.

Stalin’s driving away of BFAWU is an attack on the essential character of the party and its history as a genuinely working class organisation.

And I am afraid that unless he and his clique are stopped, it will just be the first of many such anti-union attacks.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/09/28/founding-union-splits-from-labour-in-disgust-at-starmer-hours-before-his-big-speech/