“Education is bad for America”

Newsweek published an article suggesting that the majority of Americans feel that education is bad for America:

Kind of makes sense, I suppose. 

America is a capitalist, authoritarian society. For such a society to work effectively, a large percentage of the population has to be easily manipulated and controlled. 

Education undermines that. Education makes people question, analyse and examine their surroundings. It makes people doubt the status quo, look for better solutions and gives them the tools to enact change. All of this goes completely against what America requires to work effectively. 

For those élite who run the country, the ideal American is one who is intelligent enough to perform the menial tasks required of them, but not so intelligent as to question why they are not seeing much of a return for their efforts. So the answer comes in a multi-pronged form: low education standards, high reliance upon propaganda from state-sponsored bodies like churches and law enforcement, and a media bias that borders on brainwashing. 

Combine that all with a constant and very useful state of fear – America is by far the most fearful nation on the planet, and that’s a great way to control its population – and a vastly exaggerated sense of patriotism that goes well beyond jingoism (what’s with all the flags? Do they keep forgetting where they are?) pushed by state news services like Fox and there we have it: A usefully stupid population that pretty much guarantees that the status quo will be maintained for those at the top getting rich at the expense of everyone else. 

Convince such a stupid people that they and their country represent the best in the world and the system is almost self-sustaining. To try to do something different is unpatriotic and un-American. 

Convince this nation of drones that their country is actually highly individualistic, and the idea of suggesting systemic change becomes positively treasonous.

The sad thing is that although this corrupt and corrupting system is far worse under Republicans, it is still sustained under Democrats too.

Out here in the rest of the world, we look towards America and wonder what it must be like to only have a choice between far-right and extreme-right options.

And we feel pity.

Trump vs. Freedom Caucus

The one good thing that the ongoing Trump farce has done is crystalise what “conservative commentator” means. 

In the good old days, it used to be a handful of over-shoulderpadded types like Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter and whoever that nutjob hockey mom was from Alaska. All very noisy people, but generally safe to ignore because they were never going to be taken seriously by anyone. 

But now that average American IQs have dropped sufficiently to put the Cretin-in-Chief into the White House, they’ve finally achieved a prominence that, even in the height of their usual weekend of autoerotic asphyxiation sessions, they’d never dreamed-of before. 

Shouty, rude, constantly interrupting, identically dressed, all needing their roots re-doing and desperately under-sexed, they are the new Muppet Show. Elevating background noise to an artform to such an extent that even poor old Bill O’Reilly is struggling to keep up. 

Watching the fight between Trump and Freedom Caucus is the embodiment of the mythical battle of wits between unarmed opponents. 

It would be great fun to watch if it didn’t represent America’s rigor mortis…

EU Referendum: For all the right reasons, I want to vote out. But I just can’t do it.

I really don’t think I can do it. I really want to vote out – and for all the right reasons – but I really don’t think I can.

These days, this country seems to be overflowing with bigots, racists, morons and idiots of all descriptions. Senile old fools wallowing in an imagined nostalgia for an England that never existed, skinhead simpletons who need to be taught how to put a cross next to their UKIP or Britain First candidate and bleating Sun Sheep idiots who think that what “they” have over there is less democratic that what “we” have over here.

This country, with its lying, fraudulent political representatives and unelected & corrupt corporate and media masters, are the drunk uncle at the party who spoils it for everyone else. We do not remotely deserve a space at the adults table in Europe.

These days I am embarrassed to be English.

The European project is far from perfect. It is not even good. But it can be. In time, hopefully, it will be. It is certainly heading in the right direction. It needs help to get there, and the vast experience of a country like ours that has learned the mistakes of over-ambition some time ago would be valuable in that process.

But instead of being a positive and valued contributor, we are disruptive and determined to ruin everyone else’s good work. Instead of seeing Europe for what it is – a chance for this country to be a major part of something great again – we are petty, self-centred and small-minded.

I cannot make my mind up whether or not our lack of ambition is an implicit admission that we know that we are simply not up to the job.

I want Europe to work. I WANT Europe to have closer political and fiscal union. I WANT a United States of Europe. I want all of that and more and I want it to work well and I want it to be able to compete equally with the other economic giants on the world stage.

But with us sabotaging the whole process, it will never achieve that.

So in order for me to get for Europe what I want, we have to leave. I have to write my own country off as a stupid loser and vote out.

But… There’s always a but…

I just can’t do it. At the back of my head there is a nagging voice that keeps reminding me that before too much longer the ageing blue-rinse racists, bigots, mindless Little Englanders and knuckle-dragging UKIP simpletons will grow old and die. Their pathetic world view will become irrelevant and will finally achieve the meaninglessness it deserves.

At that time, our children, and subsequent generations, will have to deal with the fallout of the referendum decision. I cannot in good conscience deny them the only one bright thing in their future: membership of a strong, powerful union of countries.

So although Europe doesn’t deserve us, and despite my firmly held belief that at least for the next decade Europe is better off without us, for the sake of future generations, I will be voting to remain.

I just hope that Europe has the patience to wait while we do some desperately-needed growing up.

Over to you, kids. Please don’t fuck it up like we did.

EU Referendum Voting Dilemma

Missive to the Evening Standard, not that they’ll print it…

Sirs,

Deciding which way to vote on the EU in June’s referendum is actually really difficult.

In my view, closer political, economic and financial union for Europe would be a massively beneficial thing. It adds power, it adds efficiency, reduces costs and improves lives and security. 

I would even go so far as to suggest completely removing medieval throwbacks like the concepts of countries and local parliaments and just have a pair of elected parliaments – an upper and lower chamber – in Europe to make continent-wide decisions. City, district and county councils with enhanced powers would become the highest level of local government. I see absolutely no problem with that as a concept. 

The tiny-minded Little Englanders would have major strokes and hissy fits even considering that degree of loss of their precious, but essentially meaningless sovereignty. But I really think that is the way Europe should go. 

However, us being the bloody miserable little killjoys that we are, they can never do it while we’re on the outskirts, mindlessly handbagging everything. So we need to get out, because we are spoiling it for everyone else. 

Given all that, my inclination is to vote to leave, but voting the same way as all the village idiots like Johnson, Farage, Galloway, the quitter Duncan Smith and assorted braindead and racist morons that support UKIP, BNP, EDL and the lunatic fringes of the Tory party, really put me off doing it.

Parents of child don’t want to pay 20p a day to save him.

The Mirror wrote this story about a kid being denied a prescription for household cornflower:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/boy-who-drinks-cornflour-could-7346614

400g of cornflower costs 62p in Aldi. This kid gets through 150g per day, so about 20p-worth, or about £6 a month – a pint and a half of beer or half a packet of cigarettes.

This has nothing to do with cost, then, because any parent in ANY situation can find £6 a month to save their child’s life. So instead of just picking up a few packets with their normal shop, they expect to waste time getting prescriptions and making special trips to the chemist, wasting their time, the doctor’s time and the pharmacist’s time.

Their entire position on this is that they expect the state to pay for something they can very easily afford themselves. It’s a “moral” position, and a quite warped one at that. When did we become so utterly weak and spineless in this country that instead of paying 20p a day ourselves, we expect the state to pick up the tab?

When did we become so incapable of self-dependence, so flaccid and feeble, and so parasitic that 20p a day becomes a moral crusade? “Because druggies and gluten-intolerant people get help” is beyond feeble as a response. It is a way of saying that you really can’t answer the first question so you’re going to ask a different one as a distraction.

The people that think their position is right are, in all liklihood, exactly the same people that berate refugees for wanting to come over here. Perhaps if some more of us stood on our own two feet instead of taking every opportunity to sponge off the state, that point might be valid.

As it stands, it is just laughable, because we are far more weak and feeble than any refugee is.

I’m Not My Father’s Son

It will not come as a major shock to many of you, but I know quite a few other gay guys. Without exception, those that I have spoken to in depth on the topic, all of them have some sort of father issues. I do too.

Most of theirs, sadly, are negative. Mine isn’t, and this has for a long time slightly confused me. I do, most definitely, have father issues, but they’re not remotely negative, they’re just issues.

Having seen (and blubbed my way through most of) the stage show “Kinky Boots” it has, for the first time, hit home what it is. There is a song (cruelly close to the intermission!) called “I’m not my father’s son” which details how a character in the play is not who his father might have hoped for, or who his father might compare himself against.

But since in the stage show, as in my life, the father has died, the character will never have the opportunity to show his father that although different, he has been successful in his own way, and is now happy.

Having wasted (and although I choose that word deliberately, I do not choose it in any way lightly) the first four decades or so of my life trying to conform to others’ expectations, I really would have loved the opportunity to sit down with my dad now, staring out to sea over a windswept beach, and just chat about who I am, who he is, and what it actually feels like to be honest with yourself.

He was, in my view, one of the straightest-thinking people I knew, and I think he might have been a little disappointed that I lied to myself and everyone else for so long, but at the same time, I think he would have been satisfied that I got here in the end. “You took your bloody time” might have been his reaction.

I really would have loved to have taken him to Kinky Boots and held his hand while they sung “I’m not my father’s son”, looked at him and shared a smile and a tear.

I miss my dad.

The Guardian under-analyses 2014

In their article here, The Guardian suggests that 2014 was pretty much more of the same. I disagreed and commented:

What became crystal clear in 2014 is the complete submission and resignation of former independent professions to the mindless, unelected, unrestrained drones of social media. Not just politicians, as detailed in the article, but journalism too.

I suppose it is a natural extension of Blair’s over-reliance on focus groups that these days we no longer have conviction politicians with their own views on how society should best function. These days, no politician dares to have a policy or view on anything whatsoever without seeing what Twitter or Facebook are saying. An entire political party, UKIP, is based solely on the new chattering classes’ bigotry and hatred with policies and commitments that vary by the hour depending on the proles’ current mood and latest hate-figures.

The same applies to journalism. It is very rare now for any stance for objective truth to be taken lest it annoy some sector of the online hoards and result in a drop in page impressions. So, like politics, jounalism has come to cater for lowest common-denominator bottom feeding mouth-breathers rather than anyone with a genuine social conscience – the Guardian’s utterly misguided stances on feminism during 2014 are some prime examples of this. Rather than analyse and dissemble news items, they get tailored to the audience expectations. That’s not journalism, it’s masturbation.

In both areas, once Pandora’s box has been opened, and the Great Unwashed have been given a taste of the power they now possess, we can never go back. There are no controls, no ethics, no standards, no rules; just a pouring forth of unfiltered, uncontrolled, uninformed, instantly-reactive and ever-changing bias.

When both politics and its monitor, journalism, fall prey to the same debilitating sickness, it becomes a recipe for chaos. 2014 will mark a line in the sand when that chaos became tangible, just as 2015 will mark the time it reached critical mass. Next year will be interesting in the way meant by the old Chinese curse.