Blogathon 14/14 – redirection

It’s too easy, on this dark and stormy winter night, to get sucked in to what doesn’t matter.

And too easy to overlook what does matter.

What doesn’t matter is the weather.

It’s there.

We can do nothing about it (unless we plan on becoming a nation of cave-dwelling troglodytes).

It’s winter.

We have bad weather in the winter. It’s what happens here.

It’s not as bad as the weather that other people on this planet are experiencing.

Cold temperatures the likes of which many of us can barely imagine.

Snowfall several metres deep.

Hurricane-force winds – not mere storm-force, such as we’ve been enduring for the last four/five days.

Of course, we do have a degree of control over a small part of the effects of such weather.

Or we would have a degree of control of the effects of bad weather, if fuckwit politicians hadn’t stopped dredging operations, and hadn’t stopped flood-defence building.

But that isn’t the fault of the weather.

That is the fault of the equally fuckwitted public who voted those uncomprehending arseholes in to office in the first place.

But what can you do, eh? That’s democracy, right? Except it isn’t democracy, because in the last two elections the majority of voters in Witney did not vote for David Cameron, but he still got in. That’s not democracy, that’s just twisted.

But people don’t learn.

People believe politicians. People think that something has to be good if it’s hurting. People think spending on road repairs is wasteful. Until the potholes damage their cars. People think the NHS is wasting money. Until they need healthcare treatment. People think spending on flood-prevention is scandalous. Until they see their homes and streets knee-deep in water. And politicians will just tell them that these cuts are for their own good.

Such bullshit. But people are stupid. They continue to believe the endless litany of lies from our politicians. And, amazingly, people continue to vote for these shallow, see-through figures who do not even wear the thinnest veneer of respectability.

But no, at 10pm on Friday 14th February 2014 we must not fall for the redirection.

Don’t get sucked in to what doesn’t matter.

The weather? It doesn’t matter. It’s winter. It’s what happens here.

The flooding? It’s a shame, but we brought it on ourselves by voting incompetent fucktards in to office.

The falling-apart NHS? Scandalous, but see above.

The world’s most expensive railway network that can’t run with leaves on the line? See above again.

What does matter on this evening of Friday February 14th is other people..

And you’re not being told about it; you’re being told about inconvenience, and big winds, and falling trees.

You’re not being told about so many other things.

Important things.

You’re not being told about the servicemen and servicewomen, thousands of miles away from their wives, daughters, sons, husbands, for up to a year at a time. A year. Think of that. No, really. Stop, for a moment, and try to imagine being away from your nearest and dearest for a year.

You’re not being told about the daily slaughter of innocents in parts of Africa and parts of Malaysia, because they choose to believe in the wrong fictional being.

You’re not being told about the genital mutilation of pre-pubescent girls (and this is even happening in Europe!).

You’re not hearing about the insane cruelty that is being inflicted on women by their menfolk, in countries where servicemen and servicewomen from the UK have died to protect the rights that women should have.

You’re not being told of the complicity of the US and the UK governments in installing heinous, murdering, bandits, to positions of extreme power in the middle east.

No.

What you get when you switch on the news, this evening, is rolling footage of some political mouthpiece or other, in his wellies, with his hands on his hips surveying the damage which, however you look at it, he was instrumental in failing to prevent.

Or you’ll get a news story about a faded celebrity.

Or a story about a major celebrity having a melt-down.

I used to believe in our political system. But all it does now is produce the worst possible examples of mankind, puts them in a suit or a smart dress, drapes them in a party political flag and, incomprehensibly, these people are voted in to high office.

Scrutiny? Governance? Oversight? Accountability? We get none of these things. We’re just the voters.

I used to believe in our media. But the BBC’s output is so lacking quality control now, it’s barely worth considering any longer. And the print media is so divided on party lines, it is contaminated with the sulphurous poison that oozes from the pores of our politicians.

But I still believe in the people. Even, to an extent, the incomprehensibly stupid people who continue voting the current crop of politicians in to Westminster.

But most of all I believe in the people who work for this country.

The people who nurse, the people who doctor, the people who solider, sailor, or airman for this country.

The people who empty the bins, sweep the streets, clean the toilets, drive the buses.

Because if it wasn’t for these people, we really would be in the shit.

Do me a favour.

The person who you see every day at work, or in the street, doing some menial job or other?

Say hello to them. Every day.

The person shoving a broom around at 7.30am in the street outside your office?

Give them a cheery ‘Alright?’, and do it every day; it will cost you nothing. It will make them feel like a million dollars.

The person who you pass in the corridor, who cleans the toilets.

Smile at them and say hello.

And if you know someone in a profession which works for the support and the benefit of other people.

Just say thank you.

And ignore the garbage that the mainstream media is force-feeding you.

It’s shit, in both senses of the phrase.

Go out and be nice to someone. Stop believing the media. Stop believing the politicians.

Believe in people.

Digital TV reception; is it rubbish for just me?

When this area (OX28) switched to digital, I endured weeks of really awful TV reception.

Then I got an aerial guy in to see if I needed a booster, to improve the quality of the signal.

He poked around in the loft and told me that, actually, the signal was too strong.

He did some stuff and for a while – almost a year – the TV reception has been good.

Until this week.

In the last five days all of BBC has turned to utter shit.

Only BBC, mind you, but all of it.

BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 – completely unwatchable.

It would be more fun to stick my fingers in a 13amp socket and turn the power on.

So well done, someone, somewhere, for taking my TV licence money – the money that funds the BBC – and taking away my BBC TV channels.

Fucking outstanding.

You can run, Fearne Cotton, but you can’t hide

Talentless uberbimbo, BBC Radio One-presenting chav-in-chief, Fearne Cotton, has made one of the most ludicrous statements to the press.

Ms Cotton (let’s not forget she is related to Bill Cotton, the former Head of Light Entertainment at the BBC – who went on to become Managing Director of BBC Television), has claimed that people who point out her many shortcomings are – to use her own word – ‘bullies’.

It’s time to set the record straight, for the intellectually-challenged Ms Cotton. I’ll do this in the nicest, non-bullying way possible.

On this argument, Ms Cotton,  as on many other things, you are completely wrong and vapidly clueless.

 

It is not bullying to point out that someone is a talentless airhead.

 

It is also not bullying to point out that the BBC – Ms Cotton’s employer – has *never* published the listener figures for her radio show, whilst those of her predecessor were regularly published.

 

 

Similarly, it is not bullying to point out that as well as lacking a combination of fundamental industry knowledge, Ms Cotton also lacks talent; she is surviving on personality alone, ability continues to evade her with daily regularity.

The fact is, Ms Cotton, the BBC’s jubilee coverage was at its most best ‘lacklustre’ and at it’s most worst it was ‘dire’.

Please learn to accept criticism, Ms Cotton; it’s what makes us better people.

Or most of us, anyway.

Up north

I woke up, this morning, in a strange Mancunian bed.

It wasn’t a talking bed that said words in a strange, Mancunian way, or anything like that, it’s just a bed in a Manchester hotel.

I have pulled out all the stops; this is possibly one of the most expensive hotels I’ve ever stayed in, but I did manage to knock £85 off the list price, through Expedia.

Yay!

Speaking of discounts, I paid my Oxford parking ticket yesterday. It came to £25 because I paid so quickly.

It doesn’t seem so expensive if you say it very quickly.

Twentyfivequid.

See?

And besides, twentyfivequid is absolutely nothing compared to the price of this place.

I have a suite.

See, I said I’d pulled out all the stops.

I’m expecting delivery of my room-service breakfast, as I type this. I’m sitting, in a white fluffy bathrobe the size of Newport, at the desk in the ‘office’, wondering what else I can do for fun.

The ‘media centre’ in the lounge looks like the control panel of an Airbus, but I mastered the off/on/off switches.

Despite having (I’d guess) £25,000 of media technology in there, there was still nothing on the TV last night.

I didn’t do the porn thing, I was too tired last night.

Anyway.

Today will find me at the BBC/ITV/C4 Comedy Writers Conference in Salford.

Looking at the itinerary/agenda, it seems the day will be full of seriousness and lacking laughs.

I’m a little disappointed.

Ah, there’s a knock at the door!

Breakfast has arrived.

Laterz.

Lip up fatty

On 14th July it’ll be the next Oxford Band Practice.

This month we’ll be working on ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan and ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd.

Just one of those pieces would be pretty adventurous for me, but not for everyone else.

All three of them?

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.

Anyway.

I made a video nasty today:

It’s weird, isn’t it?

That’s the thing with unscripted improv; wheel out a few props and just see what happens.

Hmm…

While I was editing that I accidentally saw an episode of ‘Made in Chelsea’.

Have you ever seen that TV Show?

If not, skip the next question.

Aren’t the people who feature in ‘Made in Chelsea’ some of the most self-obsessed, repulsive, vapid, empty-headed, odious, reprehensible, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repugnant, vile, nauseating, repulsive creatures ever to walk the face of this planet?

Jesus, what a complete waste of oxygen they are.

But ‘Made in Chelsea’ is car-crash television.

What it is doing is making these horrid people famous for being horrid.

I hope they enjoy their new-found fame.

Just not on my planet.

Speaking of people not on my planet, Germaine Greer, who I have long admired, has proved that even world-class academics can, on occasion, be complete and utter idiots.

Here’s why.

What a twunt she is.

One would have thought that Dr Greer would know the difference between a professional, disciplined army and a group of rag-tag scruffs from a second- or third-world country.

Obviously not.

And while I’m in the ‘obviously’ zone.

I can’t help reading the information that the BBC has 8,000 News staff, and then wondering how many news staff Sky International has.

I have read one source that says Sky has more than 20,000 news staff.

Which is interesting, if true, when one reads articles that say the BBC news are to try and reduce their staff-count by 1,500, in order to save money.

I’m not saying that either the BBC or BBC News are sacred cows, in fact I’d love the organisations to be given a spot of my scrutineering style of Business and Functional Analysis.

But the practice of sending a television OB crew and an over-salaried presenter to stand outside 10 Downing Street every time our Prime Minister farts, has to be questioned.

Mind you, over in the News International corner things aren’t going very well for the Australian American media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

And the news that News International is sending in to the London operation a team of American lawyers to *cough* investigate the goings on at News International must be filling everyone with confidence.

I’m sure the brief given to these lawyers is to thoroughly investigate everything and turn all of the evidence over to the Metropolitan Police.

No, really. I’m sure of it.

*withering stare to camera*

Better off read

Editorial mistakes aren’t the exclusive preserve of the hardcopy media. BBC News Online drops the ball, every now and then. Anyone who reads today’s first example from BBCi (below) could, conceivably, be forgiven for thinking that the offender might have got away with his crime in another county. For example, Norfolk. The way some elements of our judicial system work, that might be closer to the truth than we know!

Meanwhile the example below categorically says a couple of men have been making sperm available over the internet:

At least that explains why my internet connection sometimes gets a little sticky.

And the world gets more screwed up…

According to this headline in The Daily Mail, a senior circuit judge has been ‘forced to resign after a passionate affair with a male prostitute’.

I find myself asking if the judge’s error was in having ‘a passionate affair’. If, for example, he’d done things ‘the British way’, and had a ‘mildly diverting’ relationship, would the judge’s career be safe?

What if, I muse silently, he’d had a ‘couldn’t really be arsed bothered’ relationship, would the judge be upheld for his emotional independence – and therefore be promoted?

Anyway, in other news…

I’ve noticed that the British Public Broadcaster – that’s the BBC to you and me – has made a recent addition to the page on the BBC News website where they carry links to the British national press.

Here’s what I mean (click on the image for the big picture):

BBC news webpage

Yep, along with national newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times and all of the usual (former) ‘Fleet Street’ titles, the BBC is now linking to…

The Jewish Chronicle.

Not The Church Times.

Not The Muslim Times.

Not the newspapers of any other faith-based sector.

The reason I’m bringing this up is not because I feel that all religious newspapers should be represented.

As a card-carrying atheist and a believer in a secular society, I feel none of them should be – not on the website of the British National Broadcaster.

And it offends me that the BBC have done this.

I feel a letter of complaint coming on, it shall be addressed to Mark Byford, who holds the post of Head of BBC Journalism and is also the Deputy Director General.

Feel free to join me.

p.s. Has anyone else noticed that within hours of it being announced that Roman Polanski is *not* going to be extradited to the US from Switzerland, Facebook announced that they will, after all, install a panic button for children?

A licence to make money

The way the UK’s national broadcasting service – the BBC – is funded, we are often told, is unique.

Which it plainly is.

The notion that every television receiver has to have an accompanying Licence, and the income from that Licence funds everything the BBC does, is distinctly unique.

I need to pause here to say that I am not uncomfortable with the concept of having a public tax to pay for the BBC!

I am, however, deeply uncomfortable with the business model that HMG operates around the Licence fee collection process.

Deeply uncomfortable on two points:

The first flaw in the logic is the example of a person owning a television receiver that is hooked up to a satellite dish, that they only use to watch Spanish (or whatever foreign country you prefer) television – because, under our unique BBC funding model, that person must still pay the television Licence.

If you own a television that is technologically capable of receiving tuneable signals, you have a legal obligation to pay the annual television Licence – because one day you might watch something on a BBC channel.

But the reality of the situation is that even if you never watch a BBC product, you must pay the Licence fee.

So, in a nutshell, the Licence fee is a tax, because there is no ducking or dodging it.

And because it plainly is a tax, this leads me to the second point that makes me so uncomfortable:

Bizarrely, the Licence-fee monitoring/collection department costs £123 million to run.

That’s £123 million *a year*, to collect an independent stream of taxation.

One has to take a step back from this peculiar situation and ask the obvious question, ‘Why?’

Why is the BBC spending £123 million *a year* to collect a tax?

OK, I’ll admit that the revenue that is collected through this tax goes to the BBC and not to HMRC, but once again, the question ‘Why?’ surfaces?

Why does anyone think that spending £123 million *a year* on collecting a tax that, frankly, almost every household in the UK *has to pay* is an economical method of generating an annual income stream?

The Licence fee generates £3.4 billion a year, so spending £123 million a year might look like a worthwhile expenditure to someone in the BBC and/or HMG, but I really can’t agree.

If the BBC needs to trim its expenditure, why is it not giving the annual spend of £123 million it costs to collect Licence fee income from tardy payers, a long, penetrative and searching stare?

Is it beyond the whit of someone in HM Treasury to look at this situation, and come to the staggeringly obvious conclusion that the best plan would be to stop spending £123 million a year collecting another taxation stream?

Is it beyond our national capability to save £123 million a year by attaching the £3.4 billion it costs to fund the BBC to our national income tax?

Is this so very unreasonable?

Is ‘not wasting money’ such a bad idea?

This peculiar situation is a mirror of the Road Fund Tax: The simplest way of collecting that revenue would be to attach a very small portion to the price of a litre of fuel.

Is all of this thinking so bad that only I can see the benefits, whilst being too close to my own logic to see any of the flaws?

Or is HMG so caught up in established funding models, that they are unable to see the obvious improvements that sit outside their comfort zone?

Answers on a postcard please, because I’m finding it difficult to believe that we’ve got any of this right.

Before I go to bed

I just need to get a few things off my chest.

1. The BBC headline ‘West Bromwich in debt deal talks‘. Why couldn’t the BBC make it clear that they’re prattling on about the West Bromwich Building Society? I feel sure that the majority of people would read that headline and think it related to West Bromwich Football Club.

2. The BBC headline ‘Ugg boot fetishist targeted girls‘. WTF? Aren’t girls who are stupid enough to wear Fugli boots deserving of enough ridicule? And now there’s a Fugli Boot Stalker? Oh good grief.

3. Last night Vin was a complete and utter mental headcase who would have killed lesser riders.

4. Tonight he was the sweetest angel ever to grace this cosmos.

5. Horses. Tsk!