glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Here is a point to ponder with regard to the fairness agenda our Condem masters are pushing forward.

Supposing we went out among the great British public and totally at random selected someone and asked if they were a millionaire. The odds of them being one would be 0.005% approximately.

Now let us imagine you went to Westminster, visited the Cabinet and totally at random selected someone and asked if they were a millionaire. The odds of them being one would be slightly over 79%.

I'm not saying there is anything right or wrong about this- you can't get into power without being rich, after all- there is a cost involved in buying votes and if you want a capitalist democracy you have to live with that. But they can't really say they understand the pain that their cuts will inflict on the poorest, or on the swathes of middle class public sector employees who will also get the chop.

When they talk about the cuts and George Osborne ( a man with an uncanny resemblance to the bastard offspring of Peter Mandelson and Noddy ) tells us that those with the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden, I can't help but feel he has an image in his head of broad shouldered peasants toiling in the fields. Given that those who will bear the greatest burden by far will be women, I think he's probably got a rather funny idea of gender physiology too.

I have a pretty bad feeling about these cuts, but no rational basis for it. I don't doubt that cuts were needed, because a bunch of shortsighted halfwits over the preceding twenty years couldn't see that a deregulated financial sector would not result in great fiscal responsibility, but the difference between surgery and butchery is largely a matter of where and how cuts are performed and the outcomes are noticeably different.

Edit:
Two articles that indicate how this week have made Cameron a liar:
On the Defence review
On the cuts - the latter of these is the most insightful discussion of the announcement I've seen so far and makes me feel pretty justified in having a bad feeling about them.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
The BBC have decided to close down 6 Music, the only music station worth listening to. Not BBC3, the television channel designed to recreate the sensation of having raw sewage forcibly piped down your oesophagus, nor News 24, the television channel that exists purely for people who like watching journalists desperately fumbling around in search of tiny crumbs of news to stretch out over three hours, but 6 Music.

It's not perfect I'll be the first to admit- although a lot better since they moved tiresome George Lamb to the weekends where he doesn't have to irritate me if I'm working from home - but it's so much better than any other music radio station anywhere that there just isn't a point of comparison. They're doing it as a token sacrifice to Murdoch and his mini-me Jeremy Hunt ( our local MP and future culture secretary ) who will be doing everything he can to take a hatchet to the BBC the moment he is in power, but not only is this a ridiculous gesture it's also the wrong station for the job- there is no commercial equivalent to 6 Music. Nothing even close. XFM tries but they only cover a tiny fragment of the country and since they were bought out they've had precious little to offer anyway. If the BBC want to offer something to the commercial sector maybe they should put all their radio stations up for sale and just flog off the ones that people will pay most money for.

Well, anyways, I trust that those of you to whom the BBC owes their living will do your duty for the good of all of us.
glenatron: (moody othello)
So it's finally happening. The big showdown between the people of America and the corporate interests that see them as no more than cattle to be milked until they are utterly leached of worth. If Obama fails, this will be the turning point, the moment that it becomes clear that America is governed in the interests of business rather than the people. I remember saying some time around the election that I wasn't sure if that tide could be turned, and I'm still not, but I would love to see the ones who care about America and the American people win. I just don't know if they can defeat the putrid heart of the right, pulsing with corruption and vitriol and casting an intoxicating miasma of vileness over the nation's media.

I don't believe that stinking organ is the heart of America no matter how many shills, lobbyists and hate-feeding talk-show monkeys they pay for. I believe that somewhere in that heart there is still charity, enough to help out other people from time to time. Maybe even a love of freedom too, even if sometimes that means freedom from rather than just freedom to. But we're not hearing much about that over here at the moment.

Still, you have it right now. A hero making a stand against the powers of darkness. A very simple black and white, good and evil confrontation. Either you love the people of America or you hate them, but don't pretend that your argument is based on anything beyond that. You can layer sophistication and sophistry upon it, but the essence is that either you think citizens deserve to have some basic degree of healthcare no matter who they are, or you don't. And if you don't then you're condemning people to suffer and to die for no crime beyond poverty.

If the hero fails then America fails and something that once meant a lot to the whole world fails with it. I don't know if there will be another similar chance to curb corporate power in the future but my guess is that there won't be and if it doesn't happen in the US it will be meaningless anywhere else. There is hope, there is still the will of the American people, but against that is the terrifying force of the republican party and the lobbyists and behind them, the shadowy hints of the sinister powers that spew money endlessly into their yawning coffers. What can men do against such reckless hate?
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
So we thought our BT woes were over. No such luck. This morning, when I have to work from home because we're moving office and we have no working office computers, I find that they have disconnected the broadband altogether.

Not just disconnected it, but when I phone support it transpires that there is no broadband on our account and there never has been. Except that it was working yesterday you staggeringly incompetent fucktards.

I just don't know what more we can do, we have an account number ( doesn't exist ) they sent us a router modem, and the fucking service worked and then suddenly it doesn't exist and it never did exist.

I never finished Gormenghast because I couldn't find anything appealing in it's strange rites and dusty ritual and suddenly I find myself in just such a tortuous and incomprehensible labyrinth.

It is very difficult to vex me, and yet I am now vexed. In fact I am rapidly approaching incandescant. Curse you, British Telecom, curse you to the black pit of ignorance and despair from whence you came.

First. Against. The. Wall. When. The. Revolution. Comes.
glenatron: (Default)
I don't understand the whole "markets" thing, or why "the markets" should be allowed to decide things. To me that seems like leaving really important decisions to a roulette wheel or the patterns formed when you scatter billiard balls around the table and then start knocking them into each other as hard as you can.

Nothing I can see about the way the global markets behave has any hint of rationality about it, in fact there's not a lot of evidence of anything but greed and panic, neither of which seems to be motivated by anything aside from supposition, like watching a shoal of fish wheeling this way and that, scattering and regrouping. It's hypnotic, but that doesn't mean I'd want to stake my wellbeing on it.

One story I noticed in passing suggested that a lot of problems lately have been related to automated buying and selling systems designed to react quickly to new trends and changes and buy and sell accordingly. Presumably, as they are being used, these work quite well in regular conditions but right now they're tending to pick up on slight changes and start automatic panic-selling, and of course when one set of software does it all the others follow. Consequently small fluctuations and drops are being amplified by these panic machines into large fluctuations and particularly large drops. The possibility for feedback loops and cascade failures in a complex system like that is really quite impressive.

The thing I do find interesting about this is that I'm not sure that there will be a depression now. It seems more likely to me that things are going to momentarily be priced at something a little closer to what they are worth. The big bubble around property, the fundamental idea that prices will always rise, so it's alright to sell dodgy mortgages because even if you have to take the house back it will still be a valuable asset, seems to have created a whole lot of money that only ever existed in the dreams of financiers. It only existed at all because people believed in it. Then things start to wobble and suddenly not only does the value of those assets fall but people start to question their belief and so the imaginary money begins to evapourate. It's like the markets are some kind of dreamspace that exists only in the minds of believers and the computer systems that connect them, full of lights and colour, but essentially meaningless. And this neon dream is what should be allowed to decide so many critical things about our lives and our futures?
glenatron: (Default)
I'm still annoyed about the whole thing where the government are pricing us off the roads without having provided any alternative. And no, Mr Brown, it's no good talking about how you're going to start any minute now, you stupid, selfish, corporate sell-out, blubberfaced arsewit. Infrastructure takes time to build, decades often. If you didn't see this coming then you are less of an economist than I am and I know nothing about economics. Who started a massive war with the intention of destabilising the oil-producing world in the first place? I'm pretty sure it was your buddies George and Tony.

I'm really keen on alternative transport, I would prefer not to have to drive everywhere, but no bastard from the state has been doing anything to make it easier to cycle in this part of the world ( they had to leave it to a charity ) and the price of public transport is a tiny fraction of what the providers should be paying me for wasting so much of my time every time I use one of their shoddy, disconnected so-called "services". Another glorious victory for privatisation. Well done British Governments Since 1980.

Hey given how well that's worked, and how it's the envy of half the world, why not privatise the NHS through the back door while you're at it, you repulsive indolent toe-rag?

WHY IS THERE NOT A SINGLE POLITICAL PARTY IN THIS COUNTRY DESERVING OF ANY EMOTION BEYOND HATRED AND CONTEMPT?

glenatron: (Default)
I'm annoyed by the budget, specifically the claim that putting another 2p per litre on petrol makes it a green budget. I'm sorry, Darling, there is no point saying "making people pay more for tax will force them off the roads" because it won't. People won't drive less than they are now because we have no choice. No british government has invested in any kind of transport infrastructure aside from roads in my lifetime. How the hell are we supposed to get anywhere if they keep ramping up fuel prices and refusing to offer any alternative services? Oops they privatised the railways so they can't ask them to reduce fares. Oops same thing goes for the bus system. The only people doing any significant work on putting together a national network of cycle paths are a sodding charity because the government will do nothing to help. It's almost as though we are ruled by a gibbering coven of duplicitous lackwit dolts.

What they, our labour government, the people's party are saying is basically that poor people aren't allowed to live in rural areas. Which probably suits them fine because then they can knock down those unsightly cheap houses and build more second homes for the fuel-rich to replace them.

And in spite of the cash they shall be rolling in every time we make a journey for which they offer us no alternative the vile degenerate scum that make up our government are still using bare faced lies as they try to privatise the NHS through the back door. And don't even get me started on the enormous amounts of money we, the taxpayers, will be throwing away because of the Blairite obsession with Public Private Partnerships, the perfect way to buy something now and spend the next thirty years paying for it twenty times over.

Unlike most people you'll hear whinging about fuel taxation, it's not even that I hate the environment- hell, I even live in it, but this isn't an environmental budget, it is an increasing the divide between rich and poor budget. It's a "here is a problem and - bad news! - we have no solution to offer so why not give us all your money?" budget.

It's enough to make you wish there were some good guys in English politics.
glenatron: (Default)
Today was a sad day because the repugnant necrophile bunny-fascists won and although I don't believe for a second that the people running the farm should have had to endure those conditions any longer and I'm not even sure I agree entirely with animal testing in many cases I really hate bunny-fascists. I don't know what it is about them that fills me with rage- I'm sure it's not purely that we get a bunch of them shouting through megaphones near our offices - but I think it's the fact that they are the extremist extension of all that whole "fwuffy bunnies are aw cutesy and no-one should be awowed to hurt them" element of society and also that they are a strong element of the anti-science agenda that appears to be gaining mindshare among the public in general. There are various reasons for that including the resurgence in Christian Fundamentalism (not feeling angry enough at the talibunnies? take a look at the science of the religious right) but I think the main one is that people are stupid. Stupid and badly educated. They want a simple world where scientists can't be trusted ( at heart I want a simple world where scientists can be trusted but that may be equally naive ) and there is a miracle cure for every disease that has never needed to be tested at all. They would rather trust the media scaremongering or to my-word-is-truth preaching than people who have dedicated their lives to study and evidence but cannot say they are 100 percent certain of anything because they know that is not how the world works.

There are more subtle problems- in many cases science can't be trusted while someone with a commercial agenda controls the purse strings but when it comes down to it the scientific method is the most effective tool we have ever developed and to ignore it is criminal.

If I was in charge, being a bunny-fascist would be criminal. In fact I think bunny-fascists would pretty much require capital punishment. Sanctimonious vegans could settle for lifetime imprisonment because they could easily develop into bunny-fascists and anyways there are very few kinds of people more annoying than a sanctimonious vegan.
glenatron: (Default)
So I just watched King Arthur which was a Christmas present I hadn't had leisure to enjoy until now and I have to say, it was a truly remarkable film. There may be spoilers in the ensuing text, but given that the movie spoils itself at every opportunity I wouldn't worry too much about them if you haven't seen it.

I won't say it was the worst film ever made - that is clearly Tomb Raider - but when the best endorsement you can put on your packaging is "From the Producer of Pearl Harbour" things aren't looking good. Especially if your film has a historical setting. Pearl Harbour is in living memory - if you can make a complete hash up it's hard to imagine what you could do with a story set in the Dark Ages when there is almost no recorded history because it was the Dark Ages and no-one could see to write.

Fortunately, I don't have to imagine because I have just watched it. The good news is that our elite Sarmian cavalry were accurately portrayed, assuming the people of Sarmia all had names from the french arthurian romances and that they invented the stirrup 300 years before the chinese. They had also clearly made it over to America a thousand years before Columbus but only brought back a single Harris Hawk that one of the knights uses as a kind of flying scout, in spite of the fact there is no way for a human to communicate with a bird. I don't remember which knight it was, presumably Sir Dolittle.

Meanwhile the Saxons were also way ahead of their time with their use of Crossbows, which I don't recall being a saxon weapon at all, although they did have the good manners to have round shields, so fair play to the accuracy department there. The Saxons weren't that smart, though- instead of taking the convenient and short route to East Anglia they decided to sail all the way up to Scotland so that rather than the rich and easy pickings of southern britain they would find no more than a small roman villa and then Hadrian's wall. Their leader plods around the place like a melancholy hobo mumbling his lines to no-one in particular. I have never seen such a lazy performance in any film- he didn't even bother to finish plaiting his hair.

While I think of the dangerous Caledonian forest I can't help but wonder why, when the finest roman cavalry believe it would be suicide to go that far north of the wall, a small roman family have built a bungalow there. They have four lackadaisical guards to maintain their house and yet the thousands of wode-clad picts we hear so much about leave well alone. Dicks. And another thing; what causes the eerie green glow that emanates from any pit or dungeon likely to contain dead people? Is there a bioluminescent mould that attaches to any dingy stone surface near a corpse, or is it just a kind of building regulation? "Torture pit, eh? You'll need to fit green spotlights if you're going to get planning permission for that."

Why, when Guinevere (a good solid pictish name there) puts on her armour, does it consist of three belts to cover her tits and a pair of trousers? Correct me if I'm wrong, but to wear that kind of clothing on the battlefield would be total fucking suicide. Everyone else is wearing chainmail, you dozy cow, get with the program. Or better still, take your posh Basingstoke version of a pictish accent and fuck off.

Hadrians wall has huge metal and wood doors. With spikes on. The first time we see them opened they are creaking and dust is popping from the hinges as two large draft horses (which incidentally did not exist in the period) pull them open. And yet towards the end of the film armies are dashing through them left right and centre. Did the Roman Legion decide the last thing they were going to do was to oil the hinges on the door? Why?

When the romans have left, it only remains for the Britons to defend themselves. Lucky they have all got past the wall already and had time to build Trebuchets and load them with some petrol derivative ( the first people to exploit North Sea oil? ) in the ten minutes since the Romans left. And then get themselves and their trebuchets into hiding so they can shoot arrows into the blinding smoke and somehow hit only enemies.

As for the ending, don't even get me started. Suffice it to say that everything that is annoying about the film is summed up by how annoying and completely wrong and annoying the ending is and also how annoying it is. I even watched the alternative ending in the hope that would be slightly less annoying and indeed it was, but only less annoying in the sense that if the original ending was the most annoying thing ever then the alternative ending was the second most annoying thing ever.

Absolutely fucking dire but then what do you expect from a director with a surname that close to Fuckwad.

The really sad thing is that they had some great actors - I have respect for Clive Owen since I first played Privateer 2 and Ray Winstone gave Robin of Sherwood what edge it had - and there is a great film to be made in this type of setting. If you want to know what it could have been read The Shining Company for the ultimate Celts vs Saxons adventure or Sword At Sunset for a credible historical Arthur. If you click on those links ignore the gay covers- they are awesome books. If credible and historical aren't your bag then you will surely have read The Once And Future King for general high arthurian wonder. There is more emotion conveyed in the last paragraph of that book than the entirety of the film I have just endured. In fact, this set of arthurian endings never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

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