Archive for February, 2006

Bloody inconsiderate fuckwits I’m sick of them, it’s the little things that are so unnecessary but can be so bloody annoying. Why, why don’t people fecking just think, just spare a fleeting moment for the rest of humanity and stop doing really really stupid things that have no bloody point to them.

So let’s begin:

Firstly the Bin men – Under normal circumstances I am pretty laid back about bin men, I don’t fuss anymore than most people when stuck behind the bin lorries on the street but the ones here are ‘gettin me total vex’ as the yoof might put it (I have absolutely no idea why I chose to put that in!). Firstly I put my bin in the same sort of place on the driveway as the people next door – about half way down so herself and I could still get in the car and go to work. Only this is apparently not good enough for the bin men, oh no, the bin must be on the edge of the property adjacent to the street and the fuckers didn’t take my bin. I had to ring the flipping council to ge them to come next day to empty the bin which is just absurd. The council said to be meticulous as to where I put the bin to ensure they take it in future. So now I must try to navigate my car out of the drive without dinging the passenger wing mirror which is no mean feat. As if this were not bad enough I now have to suffer the intense irritation of finding that when I return from work in the evening the fuckers have put the bin on the other side of the driveway which means I have to stop the car at the side of the road, get out, move the fucking bin in order to get back into the car and drive it up to the house because the street is a no parking zone. I mean what are the bastards doing, it is in fact easier to put the bin back on the side whence it came thus at least enabling a car to drive on the driveway albeit carefully, but no, they have to put it where it is clearly a complete obstruction. It’s just plain bloody-mindedness, I mean I know there are sometimes rather stinky nappies and shit in there but that’s not strictly my fault I mean they are supposed to take the rubbish away, what else am I supposed to do, bury it in my own back garden landfill or something?!

Next comes the Paper boy – Ok you little fecker, if I come home early one evening and catch you, you little twonk, I’m going to knock seven shades of shite out of you because you’re costing me a fucking fortune. Why, you ask is the paper boy responsible for such vitriol? Well, the little shite puts the paper in the letterbox but refuses to push all the way through thus leaving the letter box open for hours, the house therefore resembling an igloo when I return despite my efforts to have the heating come on before I get back. As if it isn’t bad enough living North of Watford where it’s cold anyway, I now get to be Nanook of the bleeding North in my own house. What is the point? Does the little bollocks gain anything from not pushing the paper all the way in? No of course not, in fact the net result is that on days when there’s been rain I get a wet patch on the carpet in the hall and a nice soggy-ended paper into the bargain so perhaps it is a badly-concealed attempt to make me use more papier-maché? I could understand it if my letter box was quite snappy but it isn’t at all, I’ve had to put blue tack on the inside to stop it blowing in the evening and making a racket.

Finally for today -Smoking ads – Will you fucking stop going on about smoking you bastards, it’s everywhere I turn, every fecking billboard, every fecking ad break on the TV, I have been doing well for nearly 2 years now not a single lapse and the cravings had gone down to practically nothing at all and now I can’t escape thinking about fags because of the bastards trying to stop people smoking AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! I have had far more problems with the adverts following me everywhere than I have had recently with people sitting smoking in the bloody pub! Just leave me alone, it’s like dangling a syringe or some foil and a lighter in front of a former addict saying “finding it hard to give up the smack? We can help, oh and here’s a tasty reminder of chasing the dragon for those of you who already gave up, mmmm lovely skag!” Of course this may not seem as far-fetched now since apparently giving up heroin is now a spectator sport and being shown on Channel 4 every night this week.

All in all it isn’t hard, surely, I mean am I being unreasonable seriously? It seems utterly endemic with the lack of thought and care for those around us that is so synonymous with the modern Western world. The causes of this malaise are numerous, in the first 2 instances I have cited it is the “couldn’t give a toss” mentality whilst in the case of the smoking ads it is the fact that those making the decisions are far too important to possibly waste time thinking about how the hoi polloi might be affected. Bastards, fecking lot of them, wait ’til the revolution comes eh, I’ll fecking show ’em!

Right time for bed, mutter, grumble!

Song Of The Day ~ Alphaville – Big In Japan

Original Comments:

Kristie made this comment,
I think your bin in the way of your driveway was payback for making them come out a second day; those garbage men are wily, and not without vengeance in their hearts.
I would kill to have one decent paperboy. Here, they don’t hire kids anymore, and supposed adults deliver it. Frankly, I think we did better with the 13-year-olds. Every couple of months, we would inexplicably NOT get the paper, and would have to call. We finally stopped getting all but Sunday.

And good for you for quitting. Your kids will thank you.

-Redbaron responds – Yes, it was thinking of the children that did it, being overweight and drinking too much tempts fate enough, the fags as well was really pushing my luck.-

comment added :: 22nd February 2006, 16:30 GMT+01
Haddock made this comment,
Can’t we just round up all the really annoying feckers into a field and bomb the bastards! 🙂
-Redbaron responds – Ooh, now there is a plan! Can you get the Fatherland to lend us a Leopard or we’ll have a look for a Russian tank on ebay!-

comment added :: 23rd February 2006, 09:53 GMT+01 ::
john made this comment,
I’d blame it all on those MI5 blokes outside your house Baron. They probably piss on your Morning Star before they shove it half way through your letter box.
-Redbaron responds – Damn, I always wondered why the Morning Star was delivered by men in suits with shades on!-

comment added :: 24th February 2006, 15:35 GMT+01 ::
Mark Ellott made this comment,
Have you noticed that all those retrospective dramas involve lots of puffing away on fags? Don’t see it in modern drama – it’s just not done.
PS – please note the new URL

comment added :: 26th February 2006, 20:01 GMT+01 ::

The other section hell bent on homogenising our daily lives are the industrialists who think nothing of turning high streets into a thing of the past in preference of the out of town retail park option. Such places tend to be synonymous with the same shop in the same place stocking the same goods. Naturally they do not do this for the good of the consumer, there are tangible business reasons for such a policy. Distribution is generally a lot better with the retail parks being on main roads often near arterial dual carriageways, ring roads and motorways, this means large lorries can easily access and thus maximise the loads that can be carried at any one time reducing the companies costs. In addition to this the transportation costs are borne by the employees and the customers rather than companies having to obtain parking in areas where property costs are high as they may have done previously. Customers are wooed by the prospect of a number of larger shops with greater selection in the one area, meals are catered for and this is all part of ensuring that people “make a day of it”

The effects of such a change are more far-reaching than we might have thought. It is indisputable that modern life has little or no community element to it and the shopping experience is another area where the previously more social way of doing things is replaced by a more insulat one. Most people will travel to retail parks by car rather than by communal public transport like buses. The act of going round these huge multiplexes is also an insular one, faceless sales assistants will serve you one week and may have gone back to college the next. There is little or no continuity of service because individualism is difficult to control and therefore largely discouraged. The days of knowing shopkeepers by name and having “the usual” lined up upon arrival are rapidly receding. We are rapidly losing the interaction that comes with day to day conversation with people we do not know, banter if you like is one of the greatest sufferers from this paradigm shift. Children and adults alike are no longer in situations where they would banter and are starting to lose the ability to do so. The traditional areas of shops and churches and pokey little local pubs and small intimate restaurants are replaced by supermarkets, large chain bars and restaurants designed to pack ’em in and turn ’em round asap. Is this part of the problem of lack of respect that the young now show to those around them? It’s possible, it is obviously not the sole reason and yet it cannot surely be underestimated that the decimation of communal society is a cause for the disassociation of many.

We are all under the impression that we are, at least financially, getting a good deal out of this, after all why would we have left the high street shops if not because supermarkets were much cheaper? To disprove this theory one only needs return to the markets and buy fresh seasonal food to find out how much cheaper it can be. When I returned to London at Christmas I went down one such a market to find that I was able to avail of a bag of bananas for £1 (Supermarket price approx. £1.50-£2), 8 mangoes £2 (supermarket price £1.50 each), 3 small pineapples £1 (supermarket price medium pineapple £1.50 each), 8 romero sweet peppers £1 (supermarket £1.50 for pack of 3), 12 orange capsicum £1 (supermarket £0.49p each), one string of garlic approx 40 cloves £1 (supermarket £1.50 for bag of 3 cloves), a bag of about 100 hot green chili peppers £1 (supermarket £0.50 packet of 4). Now in many respects this was more than I could eat, I gave a load of the chilis away and still have some left, the garlic is now sprouting and I’ve been using stacks of it, the peppers were used in pasta sauces and jambalaya and the quality of all the items I purchased was excellent.

One must look very critically at the supermarket phenomenon and just how they are managing to pervade every form of retail. The loss leader strategy is a well-known one and one the supermarkets use to good effect. By selling milk at less than the cost of producing it and selling cheap bread they entice people in for staple foods, and once you’re in there they’ve got you because like the retail park concept you may have travelled a little further, you’re going to make the most of it and get your weekly shop done at the same time and this “convenience” is the trap. Certain key items are designed to be cheap so as not to make you think whilst other prices designed to be less neticable are comparatively more expensive as I have just illustrated. Interestingly though you quite often get what you pay for, supermarket food often goes off very quickly, partially because it tends to be far less fresh and also in the case of things like bread because things have been added to make it do so. After all the sooner you run out of bread and milk the sooner you’ll be back for another crack.

Just as we cannot go on with our current energy policy, health policy, we cannot go on with this insular existence. We inhabit large “open plan” offices where people feel exposed and vulnerable and go introspective rather than being able to build a rapport with those around them. We sit in little metal boxes trying to get home and shouting at those in front and those at the sides for obstructing our progress. At the weekend we go to retail parks and buy the same items from the same shops regardless of georgraphy. It is a difficult trap not to fall into. The modern way of life is fast-paced and furious not to mention expensive, therefore time-saving and money-saving measures are tempting and almost seem to be the only way.

We all do it, for example spending time talking to people on the internet, where we may in fact know people better than many we know in real life. That wouldn’t be a problem as a compliment to the real world but as a replacement it is worrying. The social exclusion and detachment this forms perpetuates the problem. People may be being increasingly radicalised in their own homes but we wouldn’t know many of them will never come out.

Song Of The Day ~ Del Amitri – Nothing Ever Happens

Original Comments:

john made this comment,
All very true Baron. Until recently we had a local ‘community’ store which helped the many old folk around here by making up small orders and delivering them for free. It closed down due to a bloody Tesco Express opening in the high street. I expect others will follow.
comment added :: 15th February 2006, 16:00 GMT+01 ::
april made this comment,
Yes, RedBaron, it is all true. But why bemoan the fact? It is what it is. Change is a constant. If you are unhappy with the large shops, don’t frequent them. There will always be small shops to frequent, you just have to look harder for them. And there are good people everywhere, there always will be, even in the big chain stores, you just have to engage them; a smile usually works.
-Redbaron responds – Hello April, nice to see you again. You are right in part, at the moment there exists a choice but it is becoming at the expense of diversity. The trend is that small shops will cease to exist in many areas especially those where the population density is large enough to merit malls and superstores. Small shops cannot aford to specialist in the range they used to be able to because often the trade is now more sporadic. Furthermore whilst there may be good people in supermarkets they have no influence over the corporate policy. In a small shop if you would like them to tailor-make something to your specifications and requirements they are more able to accomodate. I’ve lived in the US where there was 1 Dairy Mart 3 miles away and the mall 6 miles away. The residential close I lived in had no community at all, when and where would people have any chance to meet?-

comment added :: 7th May 2006, 00:53 GMT+01
april made this comment,
Hi Red Baron, nice to be here. Yes, I agree with you about the workers having no influence over corporate policy. However, if one supermarket doesn’t cater to their customers, won’t they lose business? After all, they are in the business of making money, albeit not much (supermarkets don’t work on a very high markup, I understand) and if the consumer goes elsewhere, they lose money. Corporate policy being what it is, I think the consumer has more power now to get what they want, not less. Corporations are so afraid of lawsuits in the States, for instance, at one of the department stores where I support clients (I work with people with developmental disabilities) store management and staff cannot even stop people from shoplifting!! They can see them do it, yet cannot even speak to them about it for fear of a lawsuit. But I digress. RedBaron, people live by a pattern. What I mean is, we are creatures of habit, going to the same places day in and day out. The grocer, the coffee shop, or perhaps the tea shoppe where you live. Don’t you run into those same people daily? I know I do. I have absolutely no trouble engaging people in conversation. I do see what you’re talking about however. It bugs the crap out of me when someone is walking toward me and they refuse to make eye contact, or don’t return a smile, or indicate in some way that we have shared the same space, but I think that is just selfish ignorance, which exists, but not in as great numbers as some think. Anyway…now I’m just babbling, trying to convince you that life is good…
-Redbaron responds- April I think you are right in theory but I also think you may underestimate the tactics of the supermarkets. I don’t know about the US but over here they have many very clever ways of doing things, it is precisely our ‘creature of habit’ syndrome that can be the problem. Supermarkets work on a small markup in certain areas and even a loss leader in others like milk. However their offers and loyalty cards and extra points etc. are designed to have us buy what they want. If this tactic were unsucessfull then they would be losing money and not reporting huge profits as they are. They rely on us being used to doing a weekly shop in one place and trying to cut down on the need to go to multiple places for specifics. Because of their immense buying power they can buy cheap and sell cheap.

As for people, is it any wonder that in our isolationist world people are retreating into their shells more and more, they have been bred to do so by the constant media message of fear of violence etc. People remain in a heightened state of alert and that’s how the state likes it because it makes them maleable.

Life is good for some people now I do not doubt this, I just think it should and could be good for so many more people than the current system allows.-

comment added :: 10th May 2006, 03:13 GMT+01

I have commented before on the significance of meaning and how it can change and carry addition weight to things.

If one considers words to begin with we can see easily how these can become politically charged and people are often fearful of the power of words that have such impact and they seek to dispossess that power by banning the words. In my experience that does nothing more than add the frisson of forbidden to the words themselves and their power as part of the emotion around them increases.

Words are just words. We use words to describe things it is our method of verbal and written communication. Much can be gleaned about us from our style of expression and the words we use to do this. We all make subconscious judgements of people by the way they speak or they way they write. Speech can have a number of different factors for us to use to make up that judgement such as accent, dialect or fluidity that we may not get from the written word.

People with a gift for writing can use certain words and phrases to good effect, building description and power and this is generally under their control. However the words they may use and their phraseology and style may mean quite different things to other people, things the author may not have intended. Take for example emotive words such as nigger and paki. No, I am not going to say “the ‘n’ word” because this gives such a word some mythical quality and power and this is precisely what I am illustrating. Now black teenagers often refer to one another as “nigger” are they being racist? The effect of this usage has been very much to debunk the power of the word and this has marginalised its ability as an insult. Likewise my twin Sarah uses the word ‘paki’ in a way that if I as a white person here were to do so it would be severly frowned upon and considered racist in spite of me not being a racist at all.

So it is all in the meaning, as the title says, it’s the way you tell ’em. There are certain people who can use the most innocuous of words and make them offensive, but most people will choose certain key emotive words if they wish to cause serious offence. It is rarely ambiguous when people use words like ‘nigger’ or ‘paki’ or ‘mick’ or the like to offend just as it is obvious when people refer to their friends as an ‘old fucker’ or a ‘stupid twat’ or a ‘fat git’ that the term is of familiarity and not to cause hurt.

So to put this situation into the recent context of religious offence we can summise the following: If the Danish publication of the insulting cartoons was innocent then the furore that followed has certainly done no good for Muslim-Christian relations, if however the cartoons were designed to cause offence then the mass calls for violence in retaliation by those marching has not only damaged relations but furthered the cause of the extremists and added further weight to the nature of the offence. What I mean by this is that not only has the publicity been huge and more people made aware of the cartoon but the huge reaction has made it seem as if the cartoons are really something terrible indeed and as we know forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.

So far the cartoons have been published in Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, New Zealand and Hungary and they will continue to be reprinted whilst the fervour surrounds them because newspapers sell on sensationalism. People do not seem to see that at the moment the people who win biggest are the press moghuls who must be rubbing their hands with glee.

I cannot speak for the religious circumstance but in my position I can only say that if someone insults me with innacuracies it has far less effect on me than if they attack at the root of insecurities. The best way to try to cover up these insecurities is to shrug off any assault, to show the weakness encourages the enemy to sustain attack in this area. Think of how children act when they are trying to annoy you. If you act annoyed and get progressively more agitated they will continue mercilessly in the same vein whilst in contrast if you do not seem bothered they will attempt to find something else. I know it sounds simplistic to say “ignore it and it’ll go away when it comes to matters of such emotional gravity but the reason the saying has survived is precisely because there is more than a little grain of truth in it.

I can condemn any action that is designed to offend people and I suspect most decent-minded people would do the same without a thought. By and large the way to tackle this is through eduction because such offence is generally through ignorance. The way to answer critique is not to incite violence and death, or to burn buildings and flags in aggressive counter-actions.

By virtue of the reaction to the cartoons anyone that would act offensively towards Islam and Muslims alike knows exactly what vehicle to use to do so. I don’t see how that can help the cause of Islam or its followers.

Song Of The Day ~ The Cazals – To Cut A Long Story Short

Original Comments:

sarah the evil twin made this comment,
i think it is unrealistic to expect people to just ignore the cartoons or anything that insults their religion. it is easy for us (as non-believers) to think that way but that’s because we don’t feel strongly about it. there have always been protests and demonstrations (albeit non-violent ones) whenever religion or a prophet has been portrayed in a way that contradicts beliefs held by the followers (example: passion of the christ, da vinci code, etc).
also, the more i read about this, the less i think that cartoons are as innocent as they seem. for one thing, apparently the same papers editor rejected cartoons of jesus three years back on the basis that they would offend christians. also, muslims have been described as a cancer to the danish society in speeches in the parliament, by the Danish People’s Party members. that doesn’t make it sound like a society that cares too much about their muslim minority.

obviously, the muslim fanatics or extremists reacted in a way that deserves to land them all in jail. however, that does not make the original act okay. muslims have a long way to go before the world starts seeing them as anything other than terrorists but such cartoons aren’t exactly helping them feel like they aren’t being picked on or treated with the same respect given to a believer of any other religion and unfortunately, they tend to push even the moderate ones into a corner and more inclined to agree with the fundamentalists.

read the article on Salon – i thought it was excellent.

p.s: don’t worry, you can call me paki as much as you want (in spite of being oh so white!). given that i don’t live in the UK, it just doesn’t hold the same connotations – its just a convenient short form for me. my sis (who is a little dumb and missed out on all the baggae that goes with the word) calls our sudanese friend a nigger to his face all the time, and he finds it quite amusing.

comment added :: 8th February 2006, 17:46 GMT+01

What is it about the policies of the right that seem to either strive and/or achieve increased homogeneity? Whether it’s the racists like Nick Griffin and his BNP bully boys who want to homogenise the population by removing what they see as “foreign” influences to “preserve the British culture” (I shall refrain from alluding that this may constitute an oxymoron in itself!). The acquital of Griffin and co-defendant Mark Collett marks something of a turning point for the BNP because this was a defence of speeches made to internal BNP audiences and not the wider public arena. Collett refers to asylum seekers as being “a little bit like cockroaches” whilst Griffin describes Islam as a “wicked faith”. I am not surprised they have said this, I am even less surprised that they have been acquited and for as long as their arguments refrain unrefutted in the mainstream this situation will only continue to get worse. In fact at the last 2 elections the main political parties have tantamount to adopted a BNP style policy on asylum seekers so it cannot come as any surprise that if hating Johnny Foreigner is back in vogue that many people choose to go to the party that do it best.

Instead of simple condemnation and failure to engage, vigorous debate needs to be instigated, Muslim officials should be getting the message out as to exactly why Griffin’s words are so misplaced just as they should be explaining why they disapprove of any depiction of the prophet Mohammed. Many people have never seen the inside of a mosque they do not know that it does not house the sort of imagery so common in Christian churches it is therefore seen as being an overreaction when tens of thousands of Muslims take to the streets in protest at a cartoon. After all, they think, Christians wouldn’t complain if someone did a satirical cartoon of Jesus and Muslims probably wouldn’t either. The Jews of course are a very different bunch and would attack with vigour anyone who critcises their faith and of course there is a word that can be used ‘anti-semitic’. Admitedly when ‘Jerry Springer The Opera’ was to be shown on television there were 50,000 complaints from Christian fundamentalists to the BBC and the vast majority of these came before the program had even been aired.

I have heard the debate about whether Muslims should be allowed to protest at such things whilst not always condeming people like President Ahmadinejad and his attack on the very existence of Israel. In fact the same criticism can be levelled back at the Westerners who claim the right to free speech when it comes to the right to criticise a faith they know precious little about whilst inconsistently defending another faith about which they are equally ignorant solely on the grounds that it is more politically sensitive not to do so. Freedom of speech does not simply apply if you are saying something low-key and inoffensive just as it does not only apply to people without power and influence. If France-Soir have the right to allude to a link between Islam and violence then Ahmadinejad has every right to claim that the existence of Israel in fact ferments such violent feeling amongst Muslims.

Freedom of speech is not necessarily a comfortable thing, it is as Voltaire says sometimes about defending someone else’s right to say something you wholeheartedly disagree with. If freedom of speech is a laudable endgame then one must uphold that Griffin and his odious cronies can say pretty much what they like, just as one must allow the publication of cartoons that may be deemed offensive to certain sections of the population, to be done properly the same courtesy must be extended to people like the Iranian president and the Hamas leadership alike. It’s not going to be pretty but that’s the price of freedom. If you deem it too high to pay and you don’t feel you can support all of those things above then you are simply arguing for a varying level of censorship, which of course you may do so, and I shall defend your right to do so whether I agree or not!

Placards bearing slogans “Slay those who insult Islam,” “Behead those who insult Islam,” “Islam is conquering Europe” and a senior Hamas figure referring to Islam coming to take over whether people like it or not is not helpful in allaying any fears of those who may be suspicious on account of ignorance about the religion. It would be tantamount to Christians taking to the streets exclaiming that Christianity is taking over the Middle East or that people should be flogged for insulting Jesus. I find myself somewhat torn on this one because I am not religious, I can therefore distrust the fundamentalists on both sides. I don’t like the idea of Islam taking over anymore than I like Christianity being currently in control. The reason why Christianity is less of a threat in this country is because it is very much a religion on the wane, make no mistake, given a position of strength it is a different story as one can see from the American bible belt. Both sides of the religious extremists fuel one another and escalate tensions, they suck in many people around them using emotive phrases such as “clash of civilisations”. Both sides wish to present a polarised argument on both sides, Bush will refer to a them and us just as many extremists in the Middle East will refer to “the West”. The reality is not so cut and dry though if allowed to continue unfettered it may become so. The clash of civilisations is such as it always was, the haves seek to control the means by which they have and they see the easiest way to do this is by the dispossession of the have-nots. It may seem that I am being formulaic and over-simplistic and reverting to old leftie arguments, but I do see religion as having been one of the greatest forces for social control that there has ever existed. In the days when religion has waned in its influence there has needed to be something to breach the gap and the media has filled in for this, but religion is better because it promises that if you do its bidding you will be rewarded and rewarded in a way that nothing else can offer. I am not offering this so much as a conspiracy theory, it would be ludicrous to assume that there has been some plot down the centuries passed on from generations but the opportunity that religion has offered has not been turned down by those that would rule and the proof for this is plain to see. To ostracise those who don’t play the games we have ridiculous notions like blasphemy and damnation.

I would not like to thing of a world where I cannot exercise my view that religion is all bollocks and the religious texts are simply the work of men, but I would not expect to force my opinion onto those who disagree and choose to practise religious beliefs. I expect the same courtesy in return and to my mind that only way of safeguarding such freedoms is to maintain a completely secular state. Marx was right, religion is opium for the people and like opium it provides relief and comfort at first but there is always more to it than that, it is a dangerous drug and addiction and side-effects are just one part of it. I have previously taken a rather laissez-faire attitude to other people’s religion(s) and I will try to continue that in the spirit of Voltaire but I wonder if such liberalism can really have any future. To stand by and watch drug addicts slowly descend into stupifaction would be considered barbaric, could the same not be said of someone who stands by whilst religion destroys what little consensus the human race clings to?

Song Of The Day ~ The Delays – Nearer Than Heaven

Original Comments:

Pimme made this comment,
Whether it’s drugs, religion, or whatever…it’s one thing to hurt yourself with it, but quite another to hurt others.
comment added :: 5th February 2006, 02:15 GMT+01 ::
sarah made this comment,
i think that the muslim extremists violent reaction over the cartoons is ridiculous, but not entirely surprising. if you read the original article accompanying the cartoons, the editor had written that he was aware that mohammed wasn’t allowed to be depicted according to islam. so obviously they were also aware that there was going to be a backlash (how could they not be? van gogh got murdered fairly recently by a fanatic that did not believe in freedom of expression).
you know i hate self-cencorship and if anyone told me not to do something, i’d be ten times more likely to do it. however, there ARE lines and everyone is frankly being very hypocritical by saying there aren’t and that they’re fully in support of freedom of expression. it is not considered okay to call ugly people ugly, fat people fat – also (like you said), we are extremely sensitive when it comes to the feelings of jews and blacks. oprah shouts racism when she isn’t let into a store 15 minutes after its closed and gets an apology. why? because she is powerful. you cant mess with the jews because THEY are powerful. and they control the media. you have to think twice before using any term other than ‘a person of african american origin’ or black because if you do, you’re very likely to get a lot of stick for it. yet it is kosher to stereotype muslims and label all of them as terrorists or portray their prophet as one.

i think muslims are extremely stupid or at least those that ran out into the streets with death threats are. the moderates refuse to speak out with their opinions because they’re too darn lazy and the only voices that are heard are the ones chanting ‘your 9/11 will come’. had more muslims or muslim businesses reacted the way a lot of businesses in the middle east are (by pulling danish products off their shelves), it would be far more effective as a protest. muslims kill their sympathy vote each friggin time by reacting with violence – i don’t know when they will wise up.

basically, i am on the fence on this one – both sides are full of idiots (as is the world – you and me, my twin, are the only smart ones left!).

-Redbaron applauds –

comment added :: 5th February 2006, 17:03 GMT+01
april made this comment,
Wow, Red Baron. You’re so much more reasonable on your own blog site. While I agree with most of what you say, surely you have to see why the average person in America is suspicious of Muslims. And don’t give me that crap about the masses being stupid. They’re not. Come on, Red Baron, Muslims killed over 3,000 people who were just going to work, in the name of Allah, then we see them on television DANCING in the streets with joy over it! Every year at the holiest of their pilgrimages (which, incidentally, ALL Muslims are supposed to attend at least once in their lives)hundreds are trampled to death in their frenzied worship. Some cartoons were published, and they KILLED over it. Need I continue? Christians and Jews would piss and moan loudly were cartoons offensive to them to be published, but this? Honestly, I don’t think Muslims will wise up. There is something inherently wrong with a religion that produces, century after century, people of such hate and violence.
-Redbaron responds – Hello April, yes I know exactly why many Americans are fearful of Muslims, just as I know why many Muslims are fearful of Americans, the fact is that the hysteria isn’t based on fact, you would not blame all Europeans for the Nazis so why all Muslims for the 11th of September. As regards the deaths in Mecca, a similar thing happens in India with Hindu festivals. Christianity doesn’t have the same furore any more tho’ it once did too. I agree entirely that any religion that produces bigotry, hatred, violence etc. etc. hmmm, that’s about all of them then!-

comment added :: 25th February 2006, 03:01 GMT+01

I read Danne the Infidel’s entry on Communism and it got me to thinking that there are perhaps a great deal of people who if they scratch the surface have never sought to deconstruct the morass of all the propaganist bollocks we have been fed from the height of the Cold War onwards about Communism and what are described as “Communist countries.” Even to the point of Communism now benefitting from people using Kazaa to download mp3s. Thank you guys, I don’t know exactly what you’re doing for the cause but if it helps Communism then cheers anyway! I am genuinely no expert on Communism nor the 3 countries below per sé, but being fairly political, not to mention priding myself on being something of a difficult bastard I do try where possible to get know some stuff from outside the box of what is the usual peddled party line. I was always rather fascinated with East Germany and Russia from the mid 80s onwards and took whatever opportunity to study as such. Much of what I have found has done nothing more complicated than the expounding of some rather obvious myths. I hope it may be of use and perhaps if I’m lucky spark further debate.

Danne cites the examples of China, Cuba and Venezuela as his 3 countries to observe and how there is the paradox of China being tolerated by some whilst others are lambasted for purportedly having the same ideological system. The fact is of course that they do not have the same ideological system at all.

Of course China is not really a Commmunist country by any definition but it is a country with huge economic potential because of the bigest internal market in the world, much of which has remained largely untapped by Western companies until very recently. As a result of this latent economic energy China is not only a very lucrative market for the West but also one that they are very scared of. After all if they don’t get in early enough not only will they miss out on the chance to make huge sums of money but they may also find themselves marginalised by stronger forces from within China itself. The US has not made China its most favoured trading nation because it wishes to help the Chinese people but like all the US policies because it is good for the US.

Take Google as an example, a company founded on the ethos of “Don’t do evil,” a company that has stood up for the anonimity of its users in the face of the US government, the same company that has cow-towed to the Chinese government when it came a-calling to campaign for the continuation of the Great Firewall of China and the consequent censorship of non-expedient material.

Cuba is a very different example, Cuba does not have vast economic wealth, but it is a constant thorn in the Americans side because it is right on their doorstep and doesn’t tow the line. A country and a Presidente who has resisted attempts to oust him for many decades is an embarrassment for the US, like the small kid that’s too fast for the bully to catch up with. Cuba is also an example of how outside of the global capitalist system and burdened by repressive illegal sanctions imposed by the US and despite grinding poverty it is possible to create a world-class health system for all citizens. After all America the richest country in the world doesn’t have that. However Cuba is not a Communist country nor Castro a Communist leader. One must bear in mind that the revolution which removed the pro-US dictator Fulgencio Batista was led principally by an alliance of Communists such as Ché Guevarra and included groups such as Castro and his supporters rather than being made up solely from them. In fact the US approach is summed up by Robert Lovett, member of the Eisenhower’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities who said in response to a debate which had drawn no clear conclusion as to whether Castro was a Communist, “Well it really doesn’t matter, does it? He acts like one.” The US is scared by Cuba because their system has survived so long and whilst flawed is certainly no more flawed than the US’ system itself. Castro’s seizure of power in fact owes a great deal to the US because it was the wholesale exploitation of Cuban resources, especially sugar, by US businesses that made the overthrow of Batista both possible and popular. Castro in fact visited the US after coming to power but the Whitehouse refused to meet or acknowledge him. The Soviet Union on the other hand was considerably more cordial and Castro was given a warm reception. Small wonder that in such a climate Fidel chooses to favour co-operation with the latter rather than the former.

It is not only an economic blockade that the US has imposed illegally on Cuba, the news blackout has been perhaps more effective certainly from a pan-global perspective. Let us think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, an illuminative example when you consider that the common misconception is that US actions and diplomacy averted the degeneration of US-Soviet relations into a third world war. In fact the truth is less palatable to the US administration concerned and subsequent incumbants, far better to continue the propaganda machine and make Kennedy out to be the hero. The reason, we are generally given in the West, was that in response to Soviet aggression and the placement of nuclear warheads in Cuba the Kennedy administration managed to persuade Nikita Krushchev to back down. This convenient interpretation of events neglects to mention the US act of massive military stationing on the Russian backdoor across the Eastern frontier of West Germany not to mention missiles in US airbases in Italy and Turkey aimed at Russian targets. Only with the Soviet missiles stationed in Cuba in 1962 would the balance in fact be redressed and US cities brought into the potential firing line of any nuclear strike. Kennedy is cited as having made the Soviets turn back their ships and this is deemed to be a climb-down by the Soviets due to Kennedy’s strong actions. There are many events at the time which do not support this version of history such as the fact that far from the complete averting of military operations Kennedy allowed USAF planes to fly low over Cuba to see if a response could be provoked, it was Castro’s decision to consult with Krushchev and Krushchev’s decision to insist that no retalitory action was to be taken that proved to be crucial in avoiding any escalation of the conflict. From the US perspective Krushchev did abandon the plans for the nuclear base on Cuba but it is mentioned far less that in return Krushchev negociated the withdrawl of US nuclear weapns from Turkey.

Chavez and Venezuela is another different example because Chavez does not rule entirely by dictat, he has, for the Americans at least, the rather irritating habit of winning elections, they hate that, it is tantamount to them being played at their own game. Venezuela is double trouble for the US for the following reasons: Firstly oil, the black gold rears it head again and we all know what the US will do for that end, Iraq is testament to that. The second is that the US is very sceptical of the Central and South America region because it has proven to be something of a bete-noir for decades and persistently elects left-wing anti-US interventionist governments which the US then has to get rid of. Chavez is the latest in a long line of illustrious Latin American leaders that have stood against the US and its interests in favour of the people they have been elected to represent. Chavez is against the Washington consensus and openly states he is anti-imperialist. Those slippery Hispanics, how dare they take this democracy game so bloody literally!

Most of Chavez’s detractors are the external industrialists who are hardly excelling in helping Latin America’s empoverished in the many countries where they are still welcomed, the other group is the Venezuelan upper and middle classes, who again have something of a poor record when one bears in mind the parlous state of Venezuelan healthcare, education and food provision before Chavez’s election in 1998. Rather like the media blackout on Castro and the Cuban regime objective information about Chavez isn’t especially easy to find from conventional news sources and the US press in particular are vitriolic in their condemnation of the Chavez regime and quick to publicise the criticism from any of his detractors but not so ready to acknowledge that he might have some support. You can find an article here by a guy working for the BBC in Venezuela who details just how selective media coverage has been.

The moral of the story, I don’t know, all that’s red is not Communism, timeo Americanos et dona ferentes, Yanqui press is lies all lies. Take your pick really, I don’t think I need to try to impress upon people to take what they read with a strong pinch of salt no matter what source it comes from but don’t be surprised to find that so much of what you’ve heard and read may not quite be what it purported to be.

Song Of The Day ~ The Von Bondies – Tell Me What You See

It seems memes are back in again with a vengence and it’s been a long while since I did one on this blog, so here you go like it or not. Oh and I nicked it from My Boyfriend is a Twat! Normal political service will be resumed shortly!

Four jobs you have had:

Fork Lift Truck Driver, BMW Munich, Germany
Office Maintenance Technician (ok, well Cleaner!) Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Conference Interpreter & Translator, Rostock, Germany
Tree Feller, East Sussex, England

Four movies you could watch over and over:

The Ipcress File
Les Ripoux
Goodbye Lenin

Four places you’ve lived:

13 different places in London
2 different places in Germany
Cleveland, OH

Four television shows you love to watch:

Mark Thomas Comedy Product
(Still the finest politically-charged stand-up comedian)
Cutting It
(Mmmm Ruby, she’s looovely!)
Life On Mars
(Amiable inane drama about 1973-4, ah the clothes, the music, it’s like a trip down memory lane)
University Challenge
(Bloody brainbox students, I can beat them, I could have been a contender me, no I could really, come back here…)

Four places you’ve been on vacation:

Atlanta, Georgia

Four of your favourite foods:

Thai Green Curry
Full Breakfast as cooked by me or my Mother
Chicken Ra Piaj (Nepalese curry, similar to a hot dopiaza)

Four places you’d rather be right now:

Isles Of Scilly
Interrailing somewhere in Europe

Four sites I visit daily:

Devient Art
Lenin’s Tomb
Guardian Fantasy Football
My Blog Admin Page

Four bloggers you are tagging:

Sarah, my Twin
Lynne, which rhymes with twin
Moog who’s blog is Jealous Twin
The Very Idea, who comes from the state of the Twin Cities.
-Phew I didn’t think I’d manage to keep that one going!-

Oh and Fulham beat the Filth 1-0 last night so bragging rights to the Baron for now, huzzah!

Song Of The Day ~ Thompson Twins – Doctor, Doctor Ooh, see I’m on a roll now!

Original Comments:

Sister Spikey Mace made this comment,
I retrieve your gauntlet, sir. Look for my completion of said meme on Thursday.
comment added :: 1st February 2006, 03:37 GMT+01
Lynne made this comment,
Oh alright then, but I know this is a fiendish plot to get me blogging more 😉
comment added :: 1st February 2006, 09:46 GMT+01
john made this comment,
University Challenge. Me and the missus beat those eight cocky little buggers nearly every week. 😉
comment added :: 2nd February 2006, 16:46 GMT+01 ::
Bob Red made this comment,
I had no idea you were so well travelled in the US Mr B! Life on mars is pure class, really enjoying it ATM even though i usually despise everything filmed using 70s fashions. Saw some of mark thomases earlier stuff on C4 like when he takes a heard of cows into macdonalds because they want a happy meal… utter genius!
comment added :: 19th February 2006, 09:38 GMT+01 ::