Tag Archive: media

Whenever a new form of media comes along the early adopters are often naive about what they can and can’t do and are trusting, some might say complacent, about the consequences of ‘putting themselves out there!’  Of course in the early days there is an element of security through obscurity but trends take off and as the money men come in so all profitable angles become important with advertising is one of the most paramount of all.  In the old days marketers had to position their wares based on a large demographic such as people watching a certain television program or reading a certain newspaper, which often encompassed a wide and diverse set of people.  This also cost a lot of money, both to employ people to come up with the campaign and then in order to put the campaign somewhere, the more prominent the more costly.  However the Internet has revolutionised advertising by making ads more readily available and at far lower cost, in fact you could argue it is the democratisation of advertising, after all you receive ads more targeted to things in which you have already actively or passively expressed an interest.  You can even make ads yourself, or show your approval of ads from others.

Facebook has long since been regarded as something of a corporate battleground, we complained about the ads long ago and then complained about the metadata being used to target or attribute to them we bewailed the obvious snooping angles through this data being kept somewhere who knows where and accessible to who knows whom.  Now the reluctant acceptance of the widespread of data and personal information is almost complete, ‘we may not like it but after all what are we going to do?’  Today if you are not careful not only can you be traced via backdoor means but by the very open actions of your own friends and often you yourself.  What is worse is that you may have put your date of birth, phone number, email address, where you work, where you used to work and where you went to school (often used as a security question).  You may even have befriended your family (Mother’s maiden name very often used as a security question) and/or told people about your pet (name often used as a security question).  In addition to this you may have linked your twitter account, your linkedn account and used your Facebook account to log into all sorts of services. Did you turn off friends tagging you in their pictures or status updates, did you stop people tagging you in pictures that reveal where you were and when or with whom, or worse still where you might be and when?  What is on your public profile, visible to the whole world?  But this entry is not directly about Facebook and your personal security, this is about what you actively do believing you are acting for the right reasons and the consequences that these actions may increasingly have as a result of a new culture in pernicious advertising.

The recent furore surrounding the Emma Watson and 4Chan affair is a high profile case in point.  Long before I knew anything of the matter in origin I had seen innumerable posts decrying the actions of one party, expressing outrage that Emma Watson’s views should have caused such a disgraceful backlash and soundly lambasting the supposed perpetrator who appeared to be acting in some form of both spite and blackmail.  The ‘one party’ attacked was in fact a bulletin board community, thus it is rather like attacking Facebook for a user threatening to do something that isn’t illegal, good luck with that.  Whatever one may think of online communities, bulletin boards, dark internet etc. the fact is that it has hirthto been largely under the radar of the corporates.  This is clearly all about to change.

In order to infiltrate the new potential user base such things offer new strategies must be adopted, new ways to get information out there quickly and build user profiles in order to do so quicker still.  The traditional media remains quite passive in that it requires people specifically going to it and therefore are likely to be stored in the system somewhere already.  The new generation are more savvy and obtain and share their information and pursuits in different ways however some of those more prominent have already started to become more mainstream, the success of sites such as 38 Degrees and Avaaz has already been replicated by many of the international charities in order to harness armchair people power to promote and support their causes, this has shown a method of campaign proliferation that is far more active like a sort of idea crowd-surfing.  What this has shown a great deal of the time is that nothing spreads more like wildfire than moral outrage.  Indeed the speed with which some information goes around it makes Chinese Whispers look like the best way to obtain your news.  The trouble with this is that as with Chinese Whispers it is very difficult to tell what has been conflated/misinterpreted/misheard/reworded where and by whom and even were you to be able to do so by the time you had got to the bottom of it the message would have gone several stages further and your attempts to correct it would no longer be valid because they would not in effect have any relevance to what the message at that point was.  It would be rather like saying that homo erectus would actually have been better off with a tail after all.

The Emma Watson affair has made what would otherwise be a low-level exposure bulletin board very prominent and in a negative light, it remains to be seen what reach this will have for all associated with it but certainly it will be being trawled for information about its users and what they might be up to as we speak.  It has brought forward what appears on the surface to be a fictitious marketing company, this will only further increase speculation and keep public focus that little bit longer than if people were to really find out what or who was behind it all no matter how big or small they might have been.  Finally the only exposure that has actually happened has been that Emma Watson’s speech on feminism and equality has come to greater attention than i otherwise might have done which is a consolation.  Whether this was in any way intended (has everyone assumed automatically it wasn’t?) but it is something upon which to feel all was not entirely negative and assuages some people as to their haste to condemn as they will be able to cast their opinions over the very cause and effect of the whole affair and what it says about us as a society – herewith Exhibit A!

However it is not by any means an isolated example, nor is it the only method of publicising that which might otherwise be seen less favourably or be more obscure.  There are more forces than corporate money men involved.  The Emma Watson affair is my first conscious view of the use of people’s opposition to something to distribute widely but the use of people’s wish to affirm has been around for a while.

There has been a spate of seemingly uncontentious posts by a far-right group in England called Britain First (the clue is somewhat in the name really isn’t it?!) which advocates a number of singularly unpleasant policies and generally seeks to propagate them in an inflammatory manner such as turning up at mosques and holding hostile protests against Islam about which they appear to know very little and declaiming Christianity about which they appear to know only marginally more.  This is not anything especially new for the far-right and were that merely the extent of their action they would be marginalised severely by the fact that much of Britain’s mainstream political parties espouse the sort of nationalism that in the 1970s would have represented that of derided extremists the National Front, then seen as a group of fascist skinheads and thugs.  Fascists no longer wear the same uniform as one another and have blended far more into the mainstream political landscape across Europe as a whole and their appeal is broadening.  What Britain First have either cleverly or inadvertently done is to promulgate their existence with what look like innocuous positive affirmations such as supporting troops abroad, using the poppy symbol synonymous with the Royal British Legion and World War veterans (sad irony to have a fascist, nationalist party use a symbol for those who fought to oppose fascism and nationalism), even down to opposing animal rights abuses.  All the sorts of things that people might say “Who could possibly be against that…?”  Precisely, so why is there the need to share it?  Is it perhaps because to not do so implies you might be or be a supporter of “them [insert demon of the week here].”  Because really the implied suffix of the “Who could be against that...” question is “…unless you are one of them [insert aforementioned demon].”  And it is this that makes people share it in an effort to ensure no-one thinks that they might be one of “them.” (not that I’ve anything against “them” you understand, some of my friends are “them…!”)

One of Britain First’s particularly loathsome but widely-publicised efforts was to commandeer the death of soldier Lee Rigby who was murdered in the street in South East London by religious extremists.  Britain First used this event to their own islamophobic ends until Lee Rigby’s mother, Lyn complained publicly saying that the party did not represent her son’s views in the slightest and that he would and she was appalled by the way his cause had been hijacked.

“Well yet again can anymore heartbreak be thrown at me and my family, so heartbroken tonight. Electoral commission phoned saying that a party in Wales has stood for election in the European parliament named Britain First using Lee’s name to promote their party and some fucker from the commission allowed it to go through but [they] cannot take any action till after the election which is held on my sons anniversary of his murder. Their views are not what Lee believed in and has no support from the family. Their will be a family apology from the electoral commission but cannot be made public till after 22nd of May. Lee’s legacy will live on through Team Lee United Forces and all the good I hope to achieve xxxx”

By this time though the damage had been largely done as the phrase “Remember Lee Rigby” had already been used by Britain First as part of their entry on the Election ballot paper and the party was associated with what would be seen as positive enforcement of British values and memory of a soldier murdered.  No-one remembers the Electoral Commission’s apology, no-one remembers the investigation carried out by the Speaker of the Houses Of Parliament who presides over the Commission, nor whether such an investigation even took place.  They don’t even necessarily remember all the details of the situation but it started the creeping process of ‘normalising’ Britain First so they could claim to be ‘patriots’ which is a common name extreme nationalists use for themselves.

I have heard all too often the defence of “I would never have shared it if I had known who it was really from...” or “I know ‘person x’ and they would never have knowingly passed on something from ‘nasty group y.’” It is worth looking closer at the Britain First posts where very often there remains an undercurrent of racism and bigotry, the troops abroad, the animal rights abuses often being linked to the practice of halal butchery the Lee Rigby campaign and it’s demonising certain parts of the population.

There is the inevitable more blatant fascist post such as the one claiming asylum seekers and illegal immigrants were being given £29,000 in benefits and cutting snippets from the Daily Mail (always a sure sign of bigotry).  Many people will express shock and outrage, especially when it is put in the context of a paragraph stating that a pensioner gets around £6000 a year (a figure which lamentably is near enough correct).  If one stops to question at all then you can pick this argument apart quite easily.  Illegal immigrants get no benefit at all, they are illegal!  The Conservative government benefit cap is £26,000, this is the very maximum amount of money any household can have and that is subject to some fairly draconian methods of assessment so I am yet to come across anyone getting anywhere near that amount.  I have come across a fair few getting £4ooo ps though.  Anyway you get the picture.  Certainly some of the people sharing such posts are bigoted racists, but Britain First has 300,000 likes on its Facebook page are these all racist bigots or are many misguided and duped?

In the past it was just sometimes a question of memes, chain messages, spam that you may be inadvertently passing on, now it is more insidious and perhaps only viral marketing at best.  The other argument commonly used, indeed sometimes with the best intentions and even on occasions with results is the “I didn’t want to take the chance...” gambit.  This in its common form applies to something of abhorrence to people that has some degree of urgency in action required and people think it is better to ensure it is widespread in order to avoid the chance being lost and action (not) occurring.  However if taken to its lowest point it can be that which leads to the point of forwarding those chain emails that say bad luck will befall you if you do not or that some multinational company will pay you in the form of goods/services or hard cash if you tell all your friends about the scheme by sending this email to everyone in your address book.

Caveat Poster, if something seems far-fetched it probably is, if something is asking you to sign up to something think whether or not you would do so in the street.  If someone is asking you to share an opinion they have ask yourself if you’d let them stand up in court on your behalf, check the provenance of sources and one easy way to validate things is to run it through the hoaxkill type sites first, very often you will find that the tortured dog or 82 year old lady or homeless child is either something that never happened, or did so 10 years ago.

The trouble is that the advertisers already have you, because where do you draw the line, do you risk what you see as something bad happening by not reposting, retweeting, sharing, liking, tagging even if you haven’t had the chance to check its validity?  Or do you think that it shouldn’t do any great harm really and if it’s advertisers then they’re all bastards and something should be done about them, scum of the Earth etc. etc…?  Granted whilst it may not be as malign as the supposed inheritance you have from a fictitious relative in Africa but you are passing on something as if you had sneezed and then shaken hands with someone without even wiping.  Think of that next time you open a toilet door as well!

All that Twitter’s Is Not Necessarily Gold!

Song Of The Day ~ The Winners – Freedom

I got an email from my twin the other day. She asked me whether I thought the timing of the current alert level in the UK regarding the perceived terrorist threat was too coincidental to be plausible, I thought by the tone of her message that she might be afraid that she was presenting some wildly speculative conspiracy theory. I answered that I felt she had read the situation quite correctly and I felt that if you were to take the film The Matrix as an allegorical story about the flow of general news and information across the Western world then I think it would portray things pretty acurately.

In addition to that recently I saw a news article that the police were issuing “unprecedented amounts of information regarding the recently arrested terror suspects.” I heard the information, much of it seeemed to relate to “possession of articles useful for preparing acts of terrorism” including instructions (no further qualifying information given) and maps, including maps of Afghanistan (no further qualifying information was given.) Now bearing in mind I have a copy of the Anarchist cookbook and a large 200 page atlas, I also possess the same information they have carted others off for. So if they want a reason to bang you up now, all they need is potential, this is no longer just some lunatic paranoid conspiracy theory it is exactly what they are doing, this to me spells one clear thing if they want to get you you’re fucked, after all who doesn’t have a map, some sugar, some bleach, or a can of petrol in the car? They still can’t determine what you’re thinking but they can lock you up just in case you might be thinking something they don’t want you to think.

Instrumental in this is the way it is all handled in the media, it is the frog and a pan of water analogy. Drop a frog into a pan of boiling water and the frog wriggles and writhes and dies in pain. However put a frog in a pan of cold water and heat the pan and the frog doesn’t notice the change in temperature and dies without a struggle. Were all the information presented to us in one go many would put 2 and 2 together, this cannot be alllowed to happen so it is trickled like the sand from the escape tunnels in the pocket of the POWs is sprinkled down the trouser leg into the yard. The proof of this is that if you present people with factual information about just how bad things have got they simply will not believe you, because they cannot conceive that such things would happen without them noticing.

The control of the flow of information and the desire to exercise social control by propaganda and tacit brainwashing is nothing new. The Nazis use of it is well-documented but increasingly less-taught, perhaps because through its teaching one would see the inevitable parallels. You might think that just rhetoric and sensationalistically extreme but I would suggest you look at the rise of a man called Alfred Hugenberg and his control of the German media in the 1920s-30s. If you cannot see the parallels between him and someone like Rupert Murdoch or Sylvio Berlusconi (the worst but by no means the only people to use their influence to attempt to brainwash the public to their own subjective view of reality.) then I would be very surprised indeed.

An example of how this media whitewash has been used is the way our parents and grandparents were subjected to was the treatment of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. It is very widely reported the key to the crisis was Kennedy’s standing firm in the face of Soviet threat to the Free World and how he made the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev back down. This just simply isn’t true, it neglects to mention that the Soviet claim for the citing of the missiles was in fact the protection of Cuba from the United States, after all under Kennedy’s presidency the US had already attempted to perpetrate a coup d’etat in the Bay Of Pigs incident in 1961. One must remember that if this claim to be providing missiles as defence rather than as an aggressive act does not stand up to scrutiny then the US was just as guilty having placed its missiles to “protect” the United Kingdom, Italy and Turkey. In fact the US was far more the aggressor of the time since it possessed over 300 land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to the USSR’s 6 and overall according to the National Resources Defense Council’s Archive of Nuclear Data the US had 27,297 warheads to the USSR’s 3,332.

It was in fact the Soviets, principally Khrushchev who ensured that no retaliatory action was taken by Cuban forces against the aggressive US tactic of low-flying aircraft over Cuban territory seemingly in an attempt to provoke the first armed response. Khrushchev’s mistake was that in return for his decision to have the Cuban missile bases decommissioned the US withdrawal from Turkey was not widely publicised saving Kennedy the embarrassment of the climb-down. This failure ultimately led to Khrushchev’s removal from power 2 years later because the rest of the politburo felt that the propaganda war had been won by the US.

More recently the media propaganda situation has had to become more clinical, more systemic so much so that many people take it all for granted without questioning the legitimacy of the sources of information. We have news 24 hours a day but that does not mean we have all the news, we are reliant on certain key stations controlled by a very small number of organisations, the control must be absolute because it is no use trying to create fervour if the evidence from certain quarters contradicts it. These days you will find very little conflicting news.

After all if one charts major world events over the last five years they have gone something like this:

11/9/2001 World Trade Centre attacks. The US administration decides very quickly that since Al Qaeda have used training camps in Afghanistan, the Taliban are responsible for 9/11 and that gave the US carte blanche to exercise its “right” to a regime change. (Neither the fact that these camps had been setup with CIA funds, nor anything to do with the Caspian Oil Gas pipeline were mentioned.) After the Taliban had been removed from Kabul and a regime had been installed with a ‘safe pair of hands’ the US sought to turn its attention elsewhere knowing that the objectives for going into Afghanistan had been accomplished. Hamid Karzai’s election passed off with little fuss, no mention was made of the fact that in 1996/97 he was a consultant to American oil company Unocal on the US$2 billion project of a certain oil and gas pipeline between Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan, the Caspian pipeline. Interestingly much of the traffic of this pipeline is designed to provide support for the Dabhol power plant near Mumbai, designed to provide up to 20% of India’s energy needs and majority owned by Enron. You can see one might be forgiven for thinking that it is the same names cropping up again and again.

I do not think the 11th of Sept attacks were a conspiracy or the organisation behind them a fabrication this would be historical revisionism but I do believe the US government made what it wanted to out of them, after all they strung the war on terror out to include a nation that had previously nothing to do with Al Queda or the 11th Sept attacks simply because they wanted to remove a guy they put in charge in the first place. (No mention was made at the time of UN resolution 1441 that US President George W. Bush had already long since decided that it was a question of when rather than if the US would invade Iraq, and according to his Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill despite there not being any evidence of WMDs, Bush’s resolve was firm that it would be done whatever. No mention was made of Saddam Hussein’s past links with the CIA).

During the height of the Northern Ireland conflict only an idiot would have thought that because there were bombs going off in England that all Irishmen were terrorists and yet this is the logic applied currently, that Islam is a violent religion and by extension all Muslims have a guilt by association tag. And yet another example of the subjective presentation of events does come out of the Irish case because whilst globally the vast majority will know something of the IRA and the republican actions, only those far more involved would be able to name loyalist paramilitaries or the political parties that represent them. Ian Paisley, a supposed man of the cloth, is allowed to peddle his ideology of hate and intolerance whilst any foot out of line on the other side results in politician and media frenzy.

I do believe that Iraq had WMDs at least it had possessed them within the 10 years leading up to the US invasion, whether or not they had already been used is another question but to my mind the smoking gun the US was allegedly looking for was something they held all along, namely the invoices to the weapons they themselves and their allies had sold. The US had shown little interest in the welfare of the Iraqi people when Saddam was massacring Kurds, nor did they leap to help the Iraqi resistance in 1991 when uprisings around Basra and the Southern provinces were brutally crushed.

Now after the toppling of the secular Saddam and the leaving of an Iraq in no fit state to resist the US takeover of infrastructure and oil distribution, the US looks around for someone else and suddenly the Syrians are “sponsoring terrorism”, but it’s too soon after Iraq and they can’t quite get the troops together and there’s this public outcry so that dies down for a bit but wait, the Iranians are developing nuclear technology and this could mean they’ll have a bomb, but that just doesn’t seem to capture the imagination of the other major nations, they aren’t buying it Russia and China are standing firm, and lo, miraculously Hizbollah come out of the woodwork after Lebannon has been stable for years and there’s talk of Syria getting involved and now finally they’ve got a proper scrap in the Middle East.

There is little analysis as to what is causing the problem in the this conflict, little criticism of the role of Israel, often the aggressor, whilst Hizbollah are subjected to widespread vitriolic condemnation. it can only be a matter of time before an individual in Hizbollah is singled out as the most evil person since… (notice also that the list of comparitive evil epitomes does not include certain people like Suharto, Pinochet, Kissinger, Nixon etc.) Nothing creates crazed frenzy and panic like a good old fashioned apocalyptic threat at home, that really galvanises people to hate the bad guy, proper pogromic lynch mob hysteria that is.

So I guess that’s a yes I do think the current terror alert in the UK rather conveniently timed. After all how can it be that the really big terrorist acts get through with no intelligence and yet capriciously timed others are found out, and strangely made public very quickly. Surely you would want people to remain calm, business to continue as usual, you’d keep it under wraps until it had been fully investigated and picked apart. In addition to this whilst it is claimed that security is on high alert across the country’s airports it is not especially evident in anything other than irritating bureaucracy and ridiculous rules and hand luggage. Perimeter fences remain easy areas to get to with full views of runways and the discovery of a 12 year old boy who got through all the security checks without even having any travel documents does not seem to backup the government and police assertions.

The trouble is we are rarely made privy to the intelligence they claim to base a lot of these alerts on, it is very wooley and non-specific and a raft of knee-jerk legislation usually follows, accompanied by much outcry and yet passed through the legislature just the same. This is the government of the state of constant heightened alert. If one takes the perception of the world at large and in particular that of the safety of people and property there is a perception that crime against the person is sufficiently on the increase to make people feel insecure in their own homes. Where has this perception come from? By and large most people find out about crime through their neighbours and the media. Since communities are being increasingly eroded the reliance on the media seems likely to become almost the only source of information.

If you listen to the government around election time they will tell you that crime is going down and has been for their tenure, they will in turn quote statistics to prove it whilst the opposition will look at the statistics for individual crimes and single out the ones that are going up. However when it comes around to the time of passing repressive home office legislation the government are quick to single out the upturn in certain types of crimes so as to make you afraid enough not to question their decision to further erode your civil rights. Since the opposition are just as right-wing as the government their critique is that the legislation doesn’t go far enough.

In the UK at the moment anyone would be forgiven for thinking that up until the last 5 years there was no such thing as anti-social behaviour and that we have seen this sudden surge in crime committed by an evil youth element. (No mention is made as to the lack of social spending focused on people between the ages of 10-16.)

Contrary to what the mass media might have you believe, Raymond Kelly, Commissioner of the NYPD says that crime overall is down 12% in the US and down 65% in New York. This is not to say that there are not genuine problems, gun crime amongst the young is emotive and shocking but hardly widespread which is why events like Columbine create national and international headlines. Interestingly the lobby who will campaign that there is too much sex and violence on our TVs never protest at the morbid fascination that the media has with real-life tragedy such as Columbine, after all they choose to see it as the vindication of their idea and not as could be suggested the propagation of the problem.

Yes you can switch off the TV, or not read the newspapers, but equally then you will not know what the masses are being fed and it is therefore more difficult to counteract it. The advent of digital cameras and blogging will undoubtedly lead to greater independence in the recording of information, albeit from many different subjective sources, but to determine what is the news is often easier than one thinks. Firstly disregard the pap, the celebrity shite, gossip and such bollocks, this is not news, it is noise. Secondly ask yourself who is doing the telling and what they may want to achieve by putting a particular point of view forward. Thirdly find a source of information that is diametrically opposed to the first source you found and compare the information they gave. Think of it in the sense of a football game. The news is who played and who won, if you ask 2 fans on opposing sides they will tell you many different things about events of the game but they will both tell you the same result because that part of the report is fact. The rest is conjecture.

If people fail to finally realise the processed homogenised information that is being fed to them then Orwell’s vision of 1984 becomes ever more real only with far more technological instruments than Orwell could ever have envisaged. After all, news published on websites, how many people have the power to check if what is there 1 week after an event is what was reported originally on the actual day?

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”
-George Orwell

Song Of The Day ~ Zero 7 feat. Sia Furler – You’re My Flame

Original Comments:

kevin g made this comment,
Took me a while to read your entry, but I understand your point. Control of the media is a tool as you supply the facts/statistics you “feel” the public needs to know. But the public are just as much sheep as they let on to be. I know far too many “patriotic”/flag waving fellow citizens who really have no clue of what’s going on outside the US! It’s funny that I posted a bunch of The The lyrics in an entry, as I was hoping to drive the point home, the relevance, as the songs were from the 1980’s and related much more to 2006, though I guess I didn’t make an impact, as you are surely to do. Thanks.
-Redbaron responds – Hi Kevin, I appreciate your patience and committment wading through what turned into something of a marathon. The public are sheep, but it is important for every one of us to keep speaking up against the force majeure. Besides anyone else who quotes The The lyrics deserves to have their message heard. Which song did you use? Heartland/Angel Of Deception?

comment added :: 27th August 2006, 17:01 GMT+01

I am fairly amazed that in the case of 3 news items I have heard this week there appears to be the strong impression at some form of surprise, as if many people cannot fathom why certain problems have manifested themselves. From my perspective I find this hard to believe as to me even a cursory examination would reveal uncomplicated explanations.

The first item was regarding euthanasia – always an emotive subject, but to the fore this week because it emereged a British woman with a terminal brain illness booked herself into a clinic in Switzerland to die. This has been seized upon by the media for its moral ambiguity that can be debated to death. What no-one ever seems to take into account is why is it so surprising that people in pain, be it physical or mental, seek to relieve themselves of this pain? Most of us in our lives have sought alleviation of some kind or other for any number of ailments, what if such medications and such were not available for our condition, what then? Or what if you were simply too tired to go on fighting, maybe you’ve been strong maybe you haven’t, everyone has a threshold in the end, what do you do when you reach it?

I think it is inconceivable to take this matter to debate without mentioning at all the fact that a vast swath of the world’s population are under the (mis)apprehension that the afterlife is going to be nirvana and a respite from the burden of this world. Why then shouldn’t people think that death is the answer to free them from their shackles? After all we are increasingly taught to go for the things we desire, what if what one desires is clearly not obtainable, or does not seem obtainable in this world? Now see for me this is not a quandry, I shall cling to life with every sinew in my body because I believe this is all you get and I’m too shit scared to go into the oblivion of non-existence thank you very much, I’ll stick around if it’s all the same. However I might feel differently if I were deprived of the ability to communicate and each day simply involved pain management.

So, on the one hand religion teaches us that if you are a virtuous person you’ll get your reward in heaven and that this world is a mere prelude for the next and then society attempts to put the ball and chain on you making suicide immoral and thereby telling you that no matter how shit things are now there’s no easy way out for you, Sunny Jim, you’ll stay here and like it. Doesn’t add up from what I can see, someone please explain.

The second piece of news which whilst not at first obviously conected was that Sven Göran Eriksson the embattled England football manager has added weight to recent claims that corruption is rife in football including a spate of managers receiving bungs from agents to transfer the right players. Eriksson joins Luton Town Manager Mike Newall and QPR boss Ian Hollaway who had already alleged the same thing. Interestingly Eriksson appears to carry a great deal more weight than the other two managers because now an enquiry is to be launched, whilst previously Newall and Hollaway’s evidence had illicited precious little active response from the game’s governing bodies on account, they said, on there not beeing any concrete evidence. Of course the Premier League has stepped manfully in to conduct the enquiry headed by…. itself. Hmm, no conflict of interest there then.

Again the question must be asked if the allegations are proven to be correct and I have little doubt that they are, why is anyone surprised? There is a huge amount of money involved with football these days, players at the top level command annual salaries that most of us will not earn in a lifetime, agents take their cut of this and rarely go short. Big businessmen get involved and pump large sums of money into football clubs, now correct me if I’m wrong but if they were looking to cultivate a philanthropic image my guess is that they’d pump this money into some worthy charity, museum or such like. The whole football system has become a large business venture for profit-making and money-laundering, thus rendering it entirely in sync with all the other modern day businesses.

And then there’s Big Brother which continues to feature heavily in newspapers. Whilst it may be slightly less directly covered in the more aloof broadsheets it is still a strong pull and no surprise that on the day many tabloids are running damming “exposees” etc. on Big Brother contestant George Galloway that The Guardian choose the same target but a different story, there’s being that the Serious Fraud Office have a lot of documents from the US Senate committee regarding allegations surrounding the Oil For Food program. It would of course be churlish to assert that if the Americans had proof of wrongdoing backed up by documentary evidence why did they not declare it when George was over there lambasting them. The point is that this Gaurdian article didn’t actually contain anything newsworthy other than the shipment of the documents here, there was no evidence of anything new coming out that may have an effect on any prosecutions just a lot of rumour, speculation and hypothesis. That sort of information is welcome in an editorial where the ‘what ifs…’ and ‘possiblys’ can be discussed ad nauseam but it is not news and should not be presented as such, the same way that a possible photo of George meeting a bad man at a time when he was not supposed to be a bad man and was being met by a lot of other bad men who are yet to be judged as bad men, is not news either.

Of course much has been made of Big Brother and certainly tempers have run high in what I have seen of it which does to be fair only correspond to a total of about 2 hours, much of which was primetime viewing where the events are suitably sensationalised. Would I like to chat politics with George Galloway, yes undoubtedly, would I like to live with him, I suspect not. But then I don’t like to live with anyone, I’m a miserable bugger and by the looks of it, so is he. Why should anything different be expected? Far from being an avuncular older statesman Galloway comes across as an aggressive, self-assured, querulous and opinionated man, but at the same time he comes across as passionate, committed, erudite and human. I can cope with Galloway the dogmatic, cantankerous politician precisely because I feel that he is exhibiting the traits that most people who aspire to high political office will exhibit. I don’t imagine any serious politician is the life and soul of the party anymore than I imagine that anyone who is the life and soul of the party makes a very good politician. Tony Blair has to be a prime example of someone who is totally obsessed with the spun image of him that he is careful not to leave a hair out of place or a smile faked badly and thus the substance of his politics is minimal. Would he make a Big Brother contestant that everyone loved? One can only speculate for such a politician would never allow his/her guard to be down in public like that.

Having been off sick of late I have had the misfortune to see parts of the Richard & Judy show, for those not familiar it’s the equivalent of Regis and Kathy Lee. Richard and Judy are hardly synonymous with the most refined or informed of debates, and yet they do seem to deem themselves fit to sally forth with some zeal in the character assasination of George Galloway. I am not saying this is necessarily a conspiracy but at no point have I heard anyone say anything about the political issues that George stands for which is after all his job. There has been much debate about George’s censorship by the Channel 4 directors team who have without question chosen to show the most ridiculous parts of George’s participation and his arguments especially when at their most petty. But again, why would I be surprised, their agenda is for this sort of thing and not for the swaying of the youth to an anti-capitalist message

Sadly I am totally underawed that the program has led to such vitriol. I think regardless of motivation George’s appearance on the show has done him precious few favours and done little to enthuse any of the audience to make them more inclined to listen to the message he claims to wish to propagate. In fact from where I’m standing he has given the media (one of the very greatest politcally reactionary forces in the country) adequate ammunition to riducule and besmirsch him in what will undoubtedly be the beginnings of a campaign designed to ensure he does not retain his seat at the next election. I cannot see how anyone will remember the substance of any of his arguments over the sight of him playing a cat or in a pink leotard. Personally I think his participation in these particular tasks was admirable in so far as I hardly think it would have done him any favours had he refused. The Hobson’s choice in this regard was one of his own making and one he could surely have seen coming unless he is unbelievably naive which I cannot believe, or too bothered about his ego to see it coming or think it’ll stop him. Again, I don’t judge too harshly on the ego point, to believe that you have a future in mainstream high-office politics you have to have an ego, otherwise how can you believe that you can ably represent the people you are standing for?

I guess the underlying message behind all 3 of these items is, once again, that you reap what you sow. This is not seemingly a message popular in the current world, cause and effect seems scarcely mentioned as the system and everyone within it blunder on like a juggernaut until such time as they run into something bigger and more immovable than them, hopefully we can get at least some people out before that happens.

Song Of The Day ~ Kingmaker – Armchair Anarchist