Posts Tagged ‘Videos’

Jacob Rees-Mogg Denies Workers Have a Moral Right to Paid Holidays

September 15, 2022

That was the title of a video I found on the Net the other day. The thumbnail showed the Minister for Bring Back Boy Chimneysweeps talking to someone. The video wasn’t very long either, just under a minute and a half. I didn’t bother watching it because it seemed to me to be an extract from a conversation Rees-Mogg had had in which he said just this. And it doesn’t surprise me. After all, Priti Patel and, I think, Liz Truss, were both part of the Britannia Unchained group of profiteers and exploiters, who believe workers should work harder and have less rights to match those in the Developing World. The Conservatives have always admired American capitalism, and American workers don’t have the right to a paid holiday. Unlike in Britain, where it’s been a part of the welfare state since forever and a day. This is the state Rees-Mogg and Truss want to take us back to, folks, as part of their admiration for American free market capitalism. And with the monstrous Therese Coffey now head of the NHS, I’m very worried for the welfare state and Britain’s working people.

Scientific American Rejects Real Science for Queer Theory Ideology

September 4, 2022

Going through YouTube this past week I found a couple of videos tearing into Scientific American for publishing a piece of pseudo-science to support the trans ideology. Scientific American has been going for over a century now, and has been one of the major magazines popularising science and explaining scientific discoveries and speculation to the mass of ordinary folks. I used to read it, on and off, along with New Scientist until I went off both c. 2007. That was when Dawkins wretched book, The God Delusion was published, and the New Atheists appeared to try and convince the public that religion was incompatible and fundamentally opposed to science. Real historians of science rejected it long ago, although they recognise that there have been periods of tension. The view that science and religion are opposed comes from the works of three men, one an academic at Harvard in the late 19th century. Against them are all the scientific discoveries made by people of faith down the centuries. For Christianity, I suggest James Hannam’s excellent book on medieval science, God’s Philosophers. As for mathematics, I’ve got a collection of early mathematical texts which I picked up from a secondhand bookshop. These texts go from the ancient Egyptians through Babylonia, ancient Greece, Rome, Judaism, China, Japan and India, as well as some of the great Muslim mathematicians. Many of them begin with a dedication by their authors to their God or gods. Unfortunately, the editors at New Scientist and Scientific American don’t share this view, and the editorial line became very atheist. So I simply stopped reading them. Unfortunately Scientific American’s scepticism hasn’t prevented it from publishing what I believe can only be described as pseudo-science in the name of promoting trans rights.

Brett Weinstein and his wife, Heather, biologists who oppose the postmodern pseudery now being promoted throughout academia and society, put up a video in which they tear to pieces an article published by the magazine which declared that western civilisation only believed in a single sex, the male, until about 1880. I think Matt Walsh has also made a video about it. It’s clearly nonsense, as the Weinstein’s show simply by stating the number of times men and women both appear in the Bible as evidence that people that long ago knew full well about the gender binary. The Weinsteins also point out that something can exist in nature long before it’s recognised by science. For example, the coatimundi was long considered to be two different species. There were the coatis, who were solitary animals, and the mundis, who were social and surrounded by their infants. Then biologists came to realise that the two species were actually just the two sexes of the same creature. The solitary animals were the males, while the social creatures with infants were the females. Brett Weinstein also points out that at one time people thought that the two sexes of the elephant seal were different species, simply because they looked so different from each other.

I think I know where the nonsense that western science didn’t recognise the gender binary until the late 19th century comes from. Postmodernism rejects empiricism and scientific examination and research in favour of discourse, examining what others have said about a particular issue. In the case of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory and so on, this is done through the ideological lens of Marcel Foucault, in which ideology and discourse are functions of power relationships. For Queer Theorists, or at least those supporting trans rights, the scientific view that there are two biological sexes is a western, patriarchal construct intended to exclude trans people and so support White, heterosexual male dominance.

It seems to me, and I confess that I haven’t read the article, that the author has done this by basing their view on Aristotle. Aristotle, or at least the ancient Greeks, believed that the female body was merely an imperfect form of the male. This has rightly and understandably annoyed feminists ever since. But Aristotle and the other philosophers never denied that their were two sexes, male and female. And I am absolutely sure that the Renaissance anatomist, Andrea Fallopi, who discovered the fallopian tubes and the clitoris, and who named the vagina, knew what a woman was and that women and men were physiologically different.

I think the purpose behind the article has been to provide a scientific justification for transpeople being true members of the sex with which they identify or have transitioned. If the sexes are not distinct, then someone who believes themselves to be a member of the opposite sex, contrary to their biology, can still be seen scientifically as a member of the opposite sex.

Now I don’t deny that there are people, who believe that they are in the wrong body, and wish to conform as far as possible to the opposite sex. I also believe that such people deserve appropriate medical care and should have the same respect and freedom from abuse and discrimination as everyone else. But the sexes are still distinct biologically, and the denial that this is so is ideology, not science.

As for the Postmodernists denying the historical existence of something simply because it wasn’t recognised historically, a prime example of such thinking is in the Sokal and Bricmont book, Intellectual Impostures. This is a case in 1974 or -5 when French Egyptologists and doctors unwrapped the mummy of an Egyptian pharaoh. Examining his remains, they concluded that the man had died from tuberculosis. The Postmodernists, however, disagreed, because no such disease was known to the ancient Egyptians. Of course the fact that a disease wasn’t recognise, doesn’t not mean it didn’t exist. It only means that the people of the time didn’t know what it was.

I find it worrying that this article claiming that biological sex differences are only a recent invention has been published. There have been too many occasions in the past when ideology has been allowed to corrupt science. Examples include the racial, ‘Aryan’ science of the Nazis, and Lysenkoism in the USSR, based on the ideas of Stalin’s favourite scientist, Lysenko. Other examples of bad science include lobotomy operations to treat mental illness and monkey glands to rejuvenate men. This last involved implanting slices of monkey testicles into those of human men in order to make them become younger and more virile. In fact it resulted in the men taking this treatment developing syphilis, as the disease is endemic in the type of monkey from whom they took the bits of implanted gonad.

I am afraid that articles like this, and the pseudoscience they promote, will cause great harm, albeit with the best of intentions. There are at the moment a number of detransitioners suing the doctors who treated them and who recommended transition. They believe that they were deceived by them. I’ve no doubt that for some people suffering from the condition, surgical intervention may well be appropriate and necessary. But this must be proper physical and psychological tests.

The publication of such ideologically based pseudoscience threaten the proper treatment of those who suffer from the very condition such articles aim to help. And so they must be strenuously rejected.

Here’s the Weinsteins’ YouTube video:

Right Said Fred and the Lotus Eaters Take on Drag Queen Story Hour in Britain

August 2, 2022

Remember Right Said Fred, the pair of baldies who set the charts alight with their hit ‘I’m Too Sexy’ a few years ago before fading once more into pop obscurity? The two brothers have emerged recently to give their considered opinions on various issues. They were on GB News a few days or so ago, and the Lotus Eaters put up this video in which they discuss the Drag Queen Story Hour tour round Britain with infamous ex-kipper, Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. Or as I dub him, Sargon of Gasbag. This drag tour has met with protests in Reading, and in two libraries in Bristol, whose library service I think is behind the tour. One of the brothers is gay and the other straight, but gay friendly. That brother describes how he worked in gay pubs because everyone thought he was gay. They come across as normal blokes with a common sense attitude towards drag and Drag Queen Story Hour.

They don’t believe in Drag Queen Story Hour because they don’t consider it suitable for children. It’s a highly sexualised performance, and, as they explain, there’s a reason why it’s put on between midnight and one O’clock in the morning in gay clubs. I think this is part of the problem. I don’t know what the performances are like over here in Blighty, but some of the protests in America have been directed at grossly inappropriate drag events aimed at children. There was one a week or so ago in Texas, where children were taken to a bar to see the drag queens go through very sexual dance routines, including scantily clad trans strippers having money shoved into their underwear. Whatever you believe about gay or trans acceptance, it seems very clear to me that this went way too far. You wouldn’t take young children to an ordinary, straight bar to see such performances, so it shouldn’t be acceptable to take children to this kind of display either.

Regarding transgender people themselves, one of the brothers had a friend who transitioned from male to female. The brother states that it was his friend’s decision, and he met with her for a drink afterwards. He just accepted it. This was before the issue became politicised, and it is this politicisation that he dislikes. He believes that Stonewall and the other gay organisations have taken up promoting the trans issue in order to remain relevant and continue as organisations. I’ve heard this from other gay critics of the transgender ideology. The former head of Stonewall looked forward to a time when it would be obsolete as completely unnecessary. There’s a feeling that this was achieved when gay marriage was finally legalised. At this point, gays finally had equality, at least de jure. It now seems to some gender critical gays that the new head of the organisation seized on the transgender issue as a way of continuing its existence. And many gay people are unhappy with the emphasis on trans because of the way it appears to them to have taken over the gay rights movement to the exclusion of gays themselves.

The two brothers also aren’t fans of the Pride festivals and marches. One of the brothers says he doesn’t like it because of all the banners boasting corporate sponsorship. He states that for every person at the march, there are 10 gay people at home wondering what on Earth it all has to do with them. The other brother says he doesn’t understand what they have to be proud about, because it’s like him being proud of being 5’10”. To his credit, Sargon of Gasbag puts him right and says it was all about fighting the terrible prejudice a few decades ago, as with the infamous Clause 28. This sought to ban the discussion of homosexuality in schools, but was met with very strong opposition so that it could not be enforced.

The brother is also not impressed with gays resenting the presence of heterosexual couples in their pubs and clubs. He sees it as another form of prejudice, and so nonsensical coming from the gay community. It is, he says, like being a Jewish Nazi.

Then they move on to one of the books the drag queen, Ada H. Dee, had written and from which he was reading. This was about three goats uniting against a threatening wolf. I believe this may have been the book with the anti-bullying message one of the great commenters on this blog mentioned in his comments to my post about the protests in Reading and Bristol. They see this book as another example of intersectional woke propaganda, as the goats are coloured pink, brown and black, while the wolf is white.At one time I would have said that they were reading too much into it, but unfortunately there are sections of the LGBTQ+ movement which is highly politicised and does support intersectional feminism and Critical Race Theory.

The video includes footage of the protests in Reading and Bristol, though it’s mostly about Reading.

I’ve made clear many times my attitude towards the Lotus Eaters and their rotten libertarianism. But this time they do seem to have a point and the anti-left sneering is kept to a minimum. And regardless of where you stand on the trans issue, there is one thing the brothers have done which I hope most people can support. They went round children’s hospitals meeting children with cancer who’d lost their hair, just show them that it wasn’t all bad being bald like them. I thinks that’s great, so kudos to them for doing it.

And here’s the video for their song from 2006, from Radial By The Orchard’s channel on YouTube.

Talk By Journalist Abigail Shrier Attacking the Trans Craze and Its Pseudoscience

July 13, 2022

But again, not transpeople themselves. This is another video that does an excellent job of attacking the faulty science and mental pathologies behind the alarming growth in girls and young women, who now believe they’re trans and are seeking medical help and transition. Shrier herself isn’t a doctor or psychiatrist, but a journalist who was asked to look into this phenomenon by friends. They were going through the immense problem of having a daughter declare herself trans, and were concerned that no-one else was covering it. So Shrier looked into it, eventually publishing a book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters”. Shrier gives her presentation at Hillsdale College. She starts by describing herself as a social conservative, and her audience appears to be composed of conservative Christians. Some of them openly declare during the question and answer session that they believe the transgender craze to be actively demonic. Her cool silence when they do suggests that she may be an atheist. She doesn’t share their religious beliefs, but she is very appreciative of the warm support they give her.

Shrier also is very keen to make a clear distinction between transpeople and the trans rights activists. She has trans friends, whom she describes as the warmest, kindest, nicest people. This is in sharp contrast with the vicious intolerance of the trans rights activists, who have tried to get her book banned. The trans rights activists try to silence their critics through abuse, death threats and doxing on twitter, very aggressive and intimidating counter demonstrations, and by threatening scientists, doctors, medical professionals, journalists and other critics with accusations of transphobia with the consequent danger of losing their jobs.

She argues that the increase in trans identified girls is a social contagion, rather than women who genuinely have the condition simply coming forward because social prejudice against trans people has eased. This is because previously there were very few referrals for gender treatment and the majority of these were from boys and men. Now the vast majority of young women. If this was also a case of naturally occurring gender dysphoria, there would also be a corresponding rise in older women, and particularly older men coming forward as well. This has not happened according to her. Most of the audience, including doctors and psychologists agree, although one scientists stands up at the end to declare that they are seeing a corresponding increase in these groups. Shrier does accept that she cannot know what might have occurred, if the culture was different.

She also believes that it’s a social contagion because of its similarity to other social psychological disorder like anorexia and bulimia, which particularly affect girls and young women. Women form networks amongst their friends, which share and take on each other’s pain. And so these friends may also become infected with their friends’ psychological ailments. She states that hospitals keep women with eating disorders apart, as they encourage themselves to lose weight. The classic pattern for the girls and young women declaring that they are trans are typically that they have no previous history of transgenderism. They don’t identify as boys during their childhood, and there is nothing that suggests that they secretly do. Then they discover the trans sites on the internet, or make friends at university with other girls, who believe they’re trans, and so come to believe that they also are really boys in the wrong body.

One of the questions she’s asked is whether her own book is skewed towards the gender critical side, and she talked to more people from that side of the debate than those who supported conventional pro-trans explanation. She replies by stating that she went out to talk to both and original didn’t have any preconceived ideas about it.

Shrier has appeared on a number of other videos being interviewed by Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson and others. She’s well worth listening to on this issue. The videos nearly an hour long at 58 mins so you may be able to only catch a small slice of it.

European Court Bans Rwanda Flights, So Tories Now Talking about Leaving It and Getting Rid of Its Human Rights Legislation

June 20, 2022

More dangerous nonsense from the Johnson gang currently holding Britain hostage. A few days ago the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the deportations of the channel migrants to Rwanda was illegal and stopped it from taking place. This has sent the Tories and their supporters into what Molesworth would sa was ‘a fearful bate’. They and various right-wing YouTubers are now suggesting that Britain should leave the court, and that Boris should issue a British bill of rights. You know, like parliament did at the time of the Glorious Revolution. They’ve been talking about this for as long as Brexit has been an issue, if not before. How dare those dreadful foreigners tell us what to do! Patrick Stewart made an excellent video about this issue a few years ago. He played a Prime Minister, who said he was physically sick of Europe and European legislation. His cabinet then inform him that the European legislation on human rights is based very much on British law, and that we were one of the major parties to its compilation. If you’re against European Human Rights Legislation, you’re also attacking it’s basis in British law, at least when it was formulated. But why worry about such petty historical facts when you have the chance to get the Brexiteer public into a frothing nationalistic rage?

And then there’s the problem of what the Tories are going to replace the European legislation with. The chances are that it’s going to be much weaker on protections. We’re already seeing the Tories passing legislation to clamp down on demonstrations, especially after the various protests by Extinction Rebellion. My guess any Bill of Rights the Tories pass will be worse, and very much curb the right to free speech and assembly, as well as a range of other rights, all while proclaiming that it’s doing the opposite.

Tony Benn is absolutely right. He said that what the Tories would do to migrants, they will start doing to the rest of us. And they are.

They are using the public outrage against migrant deportation – outrage they have done much to foment – to begin another stage in their campaign to deprive the rest of us of our rights. Let’s not fall for their lies and nationalist hysteria.

Bigots Now Blaming Trans People for Uvalde School Shooting

May 31, 2022

I feel I’ve got to put this up. I’ve said in my videos and blogs about trans issues that I don’t hate trans people, and utterly condemn persecution, discrimination, abuse and violence against anyone because of their sexuality and gender presentation. I criticise and attack the trans ideology because of the dangers it poses in falsely persuading vulnerable people, including children, especially autistic individuals and the mentally ill, that they are really members of the opposite sex, who need to be placed on the pathway towards medical transition involving drugs and surgery which can damage their health. I also attack the trans ideology because of the dangers it poses to women’s safety and dignity by allowing biological men into women’s spaces, such as changing room and prisons, simply because they claim to be female. I am also concerned about the attack on language and the attempt to separate ‘men’ and ‘women’ from biological reality. But I also recognise that there are people who really are alienated from their biological sex and for whom transition is an entirely appropriate and necessary treatment. And I also agree with the great commenters on this blog, who have pointed out that the transpeople they’ve known are otherwise normal, decent people who want to live their lives in peace.

Last week there was the shocking news that there’d been another school shooting in America, and immediately everyone put in their own take on it. It’s reignited the debate about gun control in US. Liberals, including Joe Biden, are recommending once again the outlawing of at least certain types of weapons. Meanwhile the gun lobby and the Republicans have circled the wagon to defend them. Well, I realise that in some areas of America gun crime actually went down when they legalised firearms and that there are areas where guns are very widely owned, but have a low rate of offending. I’ve also heard that the greatest drop in the incidence of such crimes was the passage of legislation back in the ’90s mandating a three-day cooling off period for people purchasing guns. That meant people had to wait three days between buying their gun and picking it up. It cut down on shootings because, by the time the purchaser could legally take possession of his gun, he’d calmed down enough not to want to blow away whoever it was who’d annoyed him. I’m aware that over here despite the ban on the public ownership of certain firearms and gun licensing, people are still being shot by criminals with guns. I’m also aware that culture may also play a part in these shootings. Michael Moore in his documentary Bowling For Columbine, which took its title from the Columbine school shooting, remarked on the colossal difference between the US and Canada on shootings. America’s a much larger country than Canada, with 350 or so million people compared to Canada’s c. 22 million. But Canada’s a much less violent society. At one point Moore looked across the Great Lakes from one American town to the Canadian city just across the water. The American town had been hit by several hundred shootings. Over in Canada, there were hardly any. This is despite Canada having much the same gun laws as the US and watching the same kind of violent action movies. People have been puzzling over this difference for a long time. Some have put it down to differences in the countries’ history. The expansion of Canada across the continent and its absorption of the Indian territories was largely peaceful in contrast to the violent displacement of the Indians in the US, although there were wars and Indian uprisings in Canada, such as that of the French-Indian metis Riel. And the treatment of the Amerindians in the boarding schools was every bit as horrific and genocidal as the comparative treatment of the First Nations in those in the US.

And the Republicans have also fallen back on the refrain that the root cause of such shootings is the mental health of the perp. The American leftist Robert Reich destroyed that argument. While the Republicans are now calling for more and better mental healthcare, nationally and locally they’ve cut mental health services when they’ve been in power.

As for the National Rifle Association, they first appeared as a pro-gun control group, co-operating with the US government to make certain types of weapons illegal. 85 per cent of the Association’s grassroots members also want certain types of firearms banned. But the leadership is dead against it, not least because they receive funding and subsidies from the gun manufacturers. This was graphically shown a year ago when NRA leader Wayne LaPierra and his several other leading figures in the Association were banged up for corruption and receiving kickbacks from the gun companies.

And now the racist and other bigots have started spouting nonsense. Today a Black woman has claimed that the police didn’t act, because the ten year old kids targeted by the gunman were illegal immigrants. I doubt this is true, not least because a number of the kids and the teacher gunned down were White. The Black YouTuber, RuinedLeon, put up a video attacking other bigots. One set had decided that there needs to be more vigilance on the Mexican border, because the shooter was an illegal immigrant. In fact the shooter, although Hispanic, was born in the US and from what I’ve seen of his victims, most of them were also Latino. RL also attacked other prejudiced voices, who claimed that the shooter was transgender. This was based on nothing more than their seeing a similarity between the shooter and a photograph of a transwoman or a crossdressing bloke in a dress. A casual glance showed that they were certainly not identical. For one thing, it looked like the transwoman was White. Several of my commenters are afraid that the current attacks on the trans ideology and trans activism from right-wing politicians, YouTubers and broadcasters like Matt Walsh and GB News are being done to stir up hatred against a sexual minority. I don’t think this is entirely the case, as I believe that some of the Conservatives like Walsh oppose it out of conviction. That said, GB News is struggling with the viewing figures, and so I don’t think that it does them any harm to put up anti-trans stories to appeal to their intended audience of right-wingers. And unfortunately this shows that some people have got so caught up in the trans controversy, that they are falsely blaming transpeople for atrocities that have nothing to do with them.

RL recommended instead that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions, although he freely admitted he’d done so about certain issues. As for his own attitude to guns, he wasn’t in favour of gun control. Instead, teachers should have firearms to protect their classes. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, as people like Maximilien Robespierre said in his video attack Donald Trump when he weighed in on this subject, that there would be nothing stopping an aggrieved teacher from blowing away their class. I’ve heard that this has supposedly happened. The Boomtown Rats’ song, ‘Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays’ was supposedly based on a real incident when a teacher did open fire on her class. When asked why she did, she replied ‘I don’t like Mondays’. Schools should be for learning. No-one should have guns in them. As for Trump’s other suggestion, that they should have armoured doors, Robespierre wonder what would happen in the case of a fire when people had to leave quickly. And besides, schools are too much like prisons already, at least in Britain. The gates are our local schools are locked and remote controlled, so that you have to buzz in to request to be admitted. It no doubt keeps children safe, but it’s a sad reflection of the way our society has degenerated.

And the chilling part of these massacres it that there have been so many of them. Reich produced a list of the various school and other mass shootings since 1970. It’s as long as your arm. It’s all too often, almost like a regular event, that some maniac walks into a school, mosque, church, synagogue, nightclub or wherever and starts shooting. Only a few weeks ago a Black man went off and shot the people on a New York subway. I’ve also heard that this year there’s been 200 mass shootings according to the FBI. They definite a mass shooting as one in which there were three or more deceased.

Changing the culture so that it becomes more peaceful takes time and intelligence. It may not even be possible, and would no doubt be controversial. And expanding mental health services would probably be opposed in practice by the type of people who hate big government and anything that looks like a welfare state, no matter how much it’s needed. Really, it seems the only sensible solution is a ban on at least certain types of guns.

So that murderously angry 18 year old kids can’t get their mitts on military grade weapons, at least.

Here’s RuinedLeon’s video:

And this is Maximilien Robespierre:

Muse Go Back to the 80s & 90s with ‘Something Human’

February 20, 2022

Here’s another fun video for those of us, who grew up in the ’80s enjoying some of that decade’s SF and Fantasy movies. I’m a sort of fan of Bournemouth rockers Muse. I like the way their music and videos include science, space and SF themes. ‘Unsustainable’ and ‘Isolated System’, for example, are about the world running out of energy and society collapsing according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that entropy, disorder, in a system only increases as usable energy is expended and transformed into waste heat. Hence, billions of billions of years from the universe will end as a positron-electron plasma just a few degrees above absolute zero. The tracks and the accompanying video are about the possible collapse of society due to an economics centred on growth which uses up all the available resources, a subject of great concern to the ecological movement since the 1970s.

On a lighter note, their video for ‘Something Human’ contains a number of 80s pop SF references., It features one of the band heading out of a city with a population of 213 million plus in a car carrying a video tape. The sign for the city has ‘Infected’ scrawled across it, which might be a reference to either the Resident Evil game and film franchise, or the later Danny Boyle film, 28 Days Later. He’s pursued by the other two, armed with massive guns. As he races down the road he goes back in time, which is surely based on Back to the Future and the time-travelling DeLorean car. Arriving in the past, he finds an abandoned, delapidated video store. His pursuers arrive behind him in an American phone box, which is obviously based on Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Then the full moon appears and he turns into a werewolf, which could be based either on Teen Wolf or An American Werewolf in London. After killing his pursuers, he gets back into the car, the moon passes and he becomes human again as he drives back to the future. I’m sure there are other references in there. The big guns could be a reference to the massive weapons sported by the heroes of the various action movies, especially those starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. But those are the only references I’ve been able to recognise. Still, it’s a bit of fun nostalgia for those of us, who enjoyed 80s movies and the video technology that made the films available to see at home.

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.

There Are Big Unanswered Questions about Alex Belfield, His Court Cases and the Donations from His Supporters

November 30, 2021

Okay, I admit it: I’ve put up any number of posts about mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield. So many, in fact, that one of the great commenters here described him as ‘my favourite right-winger’. Well, something like that. Belfield is interesting in that he says openly what the Tories think in private but deny in public. He’d like the NHS privatised, because somehow handing it over to private healthcare companies will reverse the lethal chaos and deprivation that four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and three decades of Tory cuts have done. Much of his views are bog-standard Daily Mail bigotry. He rants about the Channel Migrants – ‘the dinghy divers’ – as he calls them – landing here and being put in 5 star hotels. But I’m pretty sure the migrants and asylum seekers aren’t getting five star service. They’re there because there seems to be nowhere else to house them. And while I’ve no doubt some of them are economic migrants, others are equally doubtless genuine asylum-seekers fleeting some horrific regimes. He also hates British benefit recipients. There was a story in the mainstream news a few months ago that there were a couple of million jobs going unfilled. So Belfield put up a video about that, demanding all benefits be stopped so that people should be forced to apply for them. Never mind the fact that a large proportion of the benefits being claimed are by people in work, who can’t support themselves on the paltry wages the Tories and British capitalism have decided are enough to keep them alive.

He also hates the BBC, left-wing media and students and universities. He has a feud going with the Beeb. He claims he was forced out of a career in local radio because of jealousy from the other broadcasters. He, a working class lad from a pit village, who had never gone to uni, had more viewers than they, who were ‘Guardian-reading, middle-class, champagne-sipping, oyster-eating Naga Manchushy – for some reason he has an especial hatred of Naga Manchetty – twirlies. He’s been the subject of a series of raids and prosecutions, including a court action involving Jeremy Vine. He’s appealed and received donations from his viewers to help him fight these cases, all the while protesting his innocence and claiming that the courts have found him innocent, at least in the specific cases he’s put up videos about. However, the truth seems to be rather different and somewhat murkier. Jim Round, one of the great commenters on this blog, has pointed out that Belfield has not disclosed what he’s done with the money. Which contrasts very strongly with his loud denunciation of the BBC for allegedly spending half of the donations to Children In Need on the charity’s directors and staff and refusing to reveal what it has done with the donated money. Last Friday Jim made this comment about Belfield’s court cases.

‘As pointed out previously, Belfield is the defendant in all of the cases, the main one now a six week jury trial at crown court next July, something he fails to mention to is supporters.
The other is the now public Jeremy Vine defamation case. A video he posted shows Belfield waving only the letterhead of an FOI request (again, freely available) to his followers (who uncannily like Farage followers, never research anything he tells them)
There is a lot more to it if you are prepared to waste an hour of your life searching Twitter.
He has now deleted the above video, something he does regularly if his followers pass negative comments or he gets a bit to close to the line.
On a side note, the Liverpool taxi driver has been quoted as saying that the bomber asked specifically for the hospital, and the mosque story seems to come from a Daily Mail “source” make of that what you will.’

And today Jim posted this comment and link to a Twitter post about the Belfield vs. Vine case.

‘Some light reading for you, have a look at the link in this tweet (apologies for it being Twitter)
https://mobile.twitter.com/The_Mumpsimus/status/1464564826731122689?cxt=HHwWgsC4_ej8ltMoAAAA
I am (not) surprised your comments on those YouTube videos get deleted, shocking behaviour from so called bastions of free speech isn’t it?’

If you follow the link, you get to a Tweet from ‘Outing the Snallygasters’, who says of the Vine case:

‘FACT CHECK: 5th Oct’21 the High Court defamation case, brought against Alex Belfield @celebrityradio, commenced. His defence was poor & the Judge made him pay the claimants costs (£25k). He posted a number of deflection tweets/video. Here’s the truth

⬇️

https://bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2021/3068.html’

The email address is that of the official court records. The Tweet’s also worth looking at for the three pictures of the thumbnails from Belfield’s videos with ‘False’ stamped across them.

The statement that the judge ordered Belfield to pay Vine’s costs appears to contradict Belfield’s own statements that he’s a pure as the driven snow and the court hasn’t been able to find anything against him.

Belfield is doing well at the moment. He says he has over 300,000 supporters, which is quite possible. It’s a respectable number, but I get the impression that it’s dwarfed by the really popular YouTube creators, like Zoella and the beauty vloggers.

But apart from his appalling right-wing views, there are serious questions to be asked about his own conduct and what he has done with the money given to him through the kindness of his own supporters.

Quinn Discusses Possible Screen Adaption of ‘Hyperion’

November 9, 2021

This interesting little snippet comes from the ‘Quinn’s Ideas’ YouTube channel. Quinn’s a Black American fantasy/ SF writer and graphic novelist with a taste for galaxy-spanning SF that tackles the big metaphysical ideas, like power, responsibility, suffering, the nature of humanity and the possibility of alien life and truly sentient AI. He’s a big fan of Frank Herbert’s classic Dune, which has now been filmed by Denis Villeneuve and has been playing in cinemas around the country. Quinn’s put up a series of videos about Dune, which are well worth watching, as well as other great SF works like Asimov’s Foundation. In this video he talks about the news that there are plans to adapt Dan Simmon’s Hyperion, but it’s not known yet whether this would be for the cinema or TV. He hopes it’s TV.

Hyperion is another of his favourite books, and he’s also posted videos about it. It, too, is another SF classic. It set in a future in which humanity has expanded throughout the galaxy, united into a type of interstellar UN called the Hegemony. Outside the Hegemony are the Oustlers, a society of nomadic humans, who have adapted themselves to space, who attack and raid vulnerable Hegemony worlds. Also outside the Hegemony is the Technocore, a society of intelligent AIs, who rebelled against their human creators centuries ago and fled into space. Their whereabouts is unknown, but they have established apparently friendly relations with humanity offering advice and technology. Earth was destroyed hundreds of years ago by accident in an attempt to create an artificial Black Hole. Although the humans have FTL spaceships, these are still quite slow compared to the cosmic spaces they traverse, so that it can take months or years to travel from one planet to another. These transit times are offset for the crew and passengers of such ships through a form of relativistic time dilation, so that the subjective time they experience in flight is shorter than that in the outside universe. A more immediate form of travel are the Farcasters, technological portals that allow the user to pass instantaneously across space from one world to another.

Hyperion itself is a sparsely populated agricultural world, threatened with attack from Oustlers. It is home to the mysterious Time Tombs, strange monuments that have appeared to have travelled backwards in time. Haunting them is the Shrike, a gigantic humanoid killing machine, whose body is a mass of cruel spikes and blades. In this future, Christianity has declined to the point where it’s a minor sect that survives on only a few worlds. Among the new religions that have replaced it is the Church of the Final Atonement, centred around the Shrike. Six pilgrims are periodically selected to go to Hyperion, journey to the Tombs and meet the Shrike. It is believed that although the creature will kill five of them, it will grant the wish of the survivor. The novel follows six pilgrims, who entertain each other by telling their stories on their way to meet the creature.

The pilgrims include a former Roman Catholic priest, sent to investigate the disappearance of a fellow former cleric while conducting an anthropological study of the Bikura, a mysterious human tribe; a female gumshoe from a heavy gravity world, investigating the murder of the biological and cybernetic reconstruction of the poet Keats; a Jewish academic from a farming world, desperately seeking a cure for his daughter’s condition. An archaeologist investigating the Time Tombs, she has started to age backwards after a mysterious event until she reaches infancy. There is also a noted galactic poet and writer of trash historical fantasies about the last days of Earth, a Palestinian Martian colonel and a Templar master. The Templars are another new religion, which worships trees, and the Templars have converted some of the vast trees on their homeworld into spacecraft.

The book’s influenced not just by Keat’s poem ‘Hyperion’, but also by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I therefore think Quinn’s right in that it would be better as a TV adaptation, as each tale could constitute an individual episode within the overarching story. At the heart of the book is the problem of evil, how the universe can contain such immense pain and suffering. It’s an issue that has challenged philosophers and theologians down the centuries. Hyperion is a Science Fictional attempt to examine the problem, as exemplified by the Shrike.

Hyperion was the first in a series of novels completing the story: The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and the Rise of Endymion, all of which I found similarly worth reading. It would be great if Hyperion was adapted for screen, but I’m afraid that, like some of the Dune adaptations, some of the central ideas which make the book an SF classic might be lost. If, that is, the book’s ever adapted at all. Things seem rather tenuous and it may all come to nothing. We shall have to wait and see.