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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words


Training Artificial Intelligence

12 min read

This is a story about computer brains...


Let us imagine that I want to set my computer a simple task: I want it to point to the end of my nose. My computer doesn't know what a face is, what a nose is, or even that it can and should point to a certain part of my anatomy. I could write a program which tells my dumb computer exactly what to do - how to divine the position of my nose from an image, and then the relatively straightforward job of then asking the computer for the co-ordinates of the end of my nose, once the nose has been located. I could also use artificial intelligence, and more importantly machine learning.

Why does milk taste sweet?

You might not think of yourself as having a very sweet tooth, but in fact you used to have an insatiable appetite for sweet things. Your body is programmed to seek the wet, fatty, sweet goodness of milk, which provides the perfect sustenance for your growing brain and body. The reward circuitry is self-reinforcing and gives you a hit of dopamine every time you suck on the tit and get a mouthful of your mother's milk, which causes the neural pathways in your brain to become stronger, while others are pruned away. Eventually, you become hard-wired to stuff fat and sugar into your mouth, when to begin with you had only the reward part.

That's machine learning.

We need to give our machine - our computer - a reward. Let's say that for a high-resolution digital photograph of perhaps 8 megapixels, assuming that most of the photos we give the computer will have the nose tip somewhere around the middle, the worst possible guess would be somewhere near the edges. We can set up a super simple reward for our artificial intelligence, giving it a hit of computer dopamine every time it guesses a point somewhere in the middle of the photo.

Obviously this is very flawed.

Very quickly, our artificial computer brain will learn to make guesses in the middle. Even though our computer doesn't know what "middle" is, it will quickly become hard-wired to guess in the middle of the photos we show it, because that's how we set up our reward system.

The guesses are not close to the tip of the nose, but they're a lot closer than if we just let the computer guess completely at random.

We need to refine our reward system.

So, we take a library of thousands and thousands of photos of people's faces, then we record the location of the tip of the nose by manually clicking on the tip of the nose ourselves. We create a huge database full of the correct locations of nose tips, created by humans.

Then, we set up the reward system to reward guesses which are close to the correct location of the nose tip. The closer the guess, the bigger the reward.

Now, we train our computer system with the big database of photos and nose tip locations. Every time the computer guesses, it gets a reward based on how close the guess was. We can run the training millions and millions of times. We keep doing the training until the computer gets really really good at guessing the location of the nose tip.

Remember, the computer has no idea what a face is, and it has no idea what it's really doing. Nobody wrote a program instructing the computer how to do anything. The truth is, nobody really knows how exactly the computer is getting better and better at figuring out where the nose tip is. Nobody could predict how the computer brain is going to wire itself up. The computer sees all those thousands and thousands of photos, which are all very different in immeasurable ways, and somehow it begins to make associations between what it 'sees' and how it should intelligently guess the location of the nose tip.

That's a neural network.

The really interesting thing that happens next, is that we show the computer a photo of a face it hasn't seen before, and it's able to guess where the nose tip is. We use the same artificial intelligence with a brand new face which the computer hasn't been trained to locate the nose tip of, and it's still able to figure it out, because the neural network has hard-wired itself to be really good at fulfilling the rewarding task of pointing to nose tips.

There's nothing particularly amazing or hard to understand about machine learning and artificial intelligence. We're simply training our computer slaves to do simple tasks, by setting a quantifiably measurable reward system, so that the neural network can practice for long enough to get good.

The predictive text suggestions on your phone come from machine learning, which has seen vast quantities of stuff written by people, such that it's fairly easy to guess the word that's likely to follow, based on what you've just written.

So, what about training a computer to be more human and be able to have a conversation? How are we ever going to pass the Turing test and trick somebody into thinking they're talking to a real person?

We need to come up with a way to train artificial intelligence to speak just like a person.

Every time you use a text-messaging service to have a conversation, that data is harvested and analysed. Quintillions of messages are sent between people every year, and all that data can be fed into a machine learning system to train it to come up with typical responses to things people say. Google Mail makes absolutely brilliant "canned response" suggestions, which are usually totally appropriate for the context, because Google has seen quadrillions of banal emails saying little more than "thanks and kind regards". Google employees don't read your emails because they don't have to - a machine does it and it effervesces the very essence of your exchange, such that it knows whether you should reply "love you too" or "see you in the office tomorrow".

It's of no particular use - beyond the present applications - to have so much aggregated data, unless we want to have a very bland, homogenous and unsatisfying experience of life. We we slavishly obey the conclusions of vast pools of data which have been analysed, we'll end up in some sort of dystopian nightmare where are life outcomes are decided at birth, using available data, and reality will become like a piece of text composed by the predictive suggestions your phone came up with.

As an example, I'm going to generate a random number between 1 and 437, which corresponds to the page number of the novel I'm reading at the moment, then I'm going to generate another random number between 1 and 50 and use that word as the 'seed' for the predictive text feature on my fancy brand new iPhone Xs.

Let's go...

Ok... page 35 has been randomly selected.

And... word 17 has been randomly selected.

The 17th word on page 35 of my novel was "of".


Chances are, it was going to be "a", "an", "of", "the", "is", "as", "to" and any one of a zillion different super common words. Let's use the word "sycamore" because it was on page 35.

Here's what my phone just generated:

"Sycamore is a good one and I have had to go back and I get the feeling of being able and then they are taught to work and they have had to do it a little while I’m not gonna was a very long and I have a very good relationship"

Clearly, machine-generated text leaves a lot to be desired.

Critically though, do we really want a single machine mind which can spit out decent text, or do we actually want personalities? Do we want a single generic face which is composed of the average set of features from all 7.6 billion people on the planet, or do we want variation?

Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that we should all be training an artificially intelligent system capable of machine learning, to be just like us, as an individual. It's no use that Google harvests all our data, because it aggregates it all together. It's no use that all the messages you've typed on apps from Apple, Facebook and Google, all the emails you've written and all the documents you've created, are absolutely fucking useless because they contain very little of your personality. Most of the messages you wrote were about food, sex, your children and your pets. Most of the emails you wrote were about the bullshit made-up numbers you type into spreadsheets all day long, which you call your "job". None of it is any use to train an artificially intelligent system to think and act like you.

I haven't figured out the reward system yet, but I'm building up a huge database of stuff I've thought. This stream-of-consciousness seems like utter madness, but I've very deliberately expressed myself in a certain manner: pouring my inner monologue out onto the page. It's ridiculous egotism and something which lots of writers have fallen foul of over the centuries, believing they're immortalising themselves with their words, but we are in an unprecedented era of exponentially growing computer power, yet most of our efforts are diverted into meaningless exchanges which expose very little of the interior of our minds.

173 years ago, Henry David Thoreau built himself a cabin in the woods, lived alone with his thoughts and wrote perhaps 2 million words in the journal he kept for 24 years. It's highly unlikely that his handwritten text will ever be digitised because of the incredible effort involved. By contrast, my 1.1 million words have been extensively search indexed by Google and other search engines, and my digital legacy is conveniently stored in 'the cloud' with perfect fidelity. While most people have been wasting the gifts of the information age by asking their partner if they need to buy bread and milk, I've been gaining what can only be described as a head start in the race to be immortalised by advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

How the hell did you think they were going to get the contents out of your brain and into another [artificial] one? Did you think it was going to require no effort at all on your part? Did you think that somebody was going to invent some kind of data-transfer cable?

Yes, it's horribly arrogant to think that anybody would have any interest in spinning up a digital version of me, but you remember that bullied kid at school who everybody hated and ostracised? You remember that you called that kid "nerd" and "geek" and generally abused them because they were good at maths and physics? You remember how you made it your mission in life to make their life as thoroughly miserable as possible?

They're your boss now. They're rich and you're poor.

Those geeks and nerds are suddenly on top of the pile.

You thought you were top dog when you were a kid, but now you're getting left for dust. You're being left to fester in your own filth. You're the underclass.

All of those skills you developed in bullying and abuse quickly became redundant, when all that geek stuff became highly lucrative.

Those late-gained skills of using Facebook groups to share your vile bigotry amongst your fellow thick-skulled dunderheads, has done nothing except line the pockets of the geeks. The geeks have been using the internet for decades to discuss the creation of a better world, where the knuckle-dragging primitives who thought they owned the playground, have somehow been left unaccounted for by 'accident'.

I'm not a big fan of the social exclusion and elitism which is emerging at the moment, but I'm damned if I'm going to stop keeping my technology skills up to date and investing my time and energy in my digital persona. Having put up with a lifetime's worth of bullying during my childhood, I'll be damned if I'm gonna meekly shuffle off into a quiet corner now. I'm sorry that you weren't paying attention when the world went digital and now it's super hard for you to catch up, but that's what happens when you're too busy making vulnerable people's lives a misery, to notice that you're wasting valuable time.

Every word I write is harvested by thousands of computers which comprise part of 'the cloud' and although billions of webpages are lost every single day, content is king and my 1.1 million words can be easily copied from one place to another, unlike the contents of your brain.

This might be a core dump of the contents of my mind, hurriedly written down in a state of kernel panic but it's taken a huge investment of time and effort, which unfortunately has always been required to achieve anything. Without the large databases manually created by humans, the machines would have no datasets to learn from and artificial intelligence wouldn't even be a thing.





9 min read

This is a story about individualism...


It's fun to dress up. It's fun to put on a silly voice. It's fun to wear make-up. It's fun act camp; to mince around. It's fun to belong to a subculture; to be able to identify with your 'kind' - your clan or tribe. It's fun to think of yourself as special and different. It's fun to have a sense of belonging and a strong sense of identity.

Take a walk down Old Compton Street in London's Soho and you'll see lots of men with shaved heads and moustaches wearing white sleeveless T-shirts. They call them clones. The clones are kinda über-masculine - they're generally stocky, muscly men and their bald heads and moustaches accentuate their extreme masculinity. They're so masculine that they live in an all-male world. There's a kind of hyper-sexuality to the clones coupled with a general sense of aggression and strength. It's notable that the clones appeared on the scene before the acronym LGBT started to gain all the additional letters, and vast numbers of teenagers started to become non-binary and pansexual.

In a world of toxic masculinity the pressure on cisgender (i.e. straight) white middle-class men has become unbearable. Born with original sin which means that to whisper "me too" when entering the highly charged arena where everybody claims to be an oppressed victim, is to be aggressively abused by every identity group, from feminists to LGBTQQIP2SAA gender-queers. "Check your privilege" we are told, when it's blatantly obvious that only a very tiny minority of white straight men are the ones who wield any power and control. It's highly unpleasant to be blamed for a situation that I neither created nor supported and I have no power to change.

Viewed as a "success object" I'm regularly asked about my ability to provide, which is like having somebody lecherously staring at my breasts. "Do you own your own home? What car do you drive? Do you have a well-paid job? Do you have a prestigious job title?" I'm asked, with a complete lack of subtlety that I'm being probed to find out if I'm wealthy and conventionally successful or not. It's like having my bum pinched or squeezed. It's like having a lewd pervert mentally undressing me.

I cringe with embarrassment that I wrote a blog post [now deleted] entitled "Feminazi" once, with only a hint of irony. I was trying to annoy an ex because I was in a messed up state - very unwell - and I was suffering some rather strange thoughts and ideas. I'm making excuses where none can really be made, but that's what I did, and I'm ashamed of myself. In the blog post I listed all the many disadvantages of being a man, such as 97% of workplace deaths, 99% of combat deaths, 79% of suicides etc. etc. Those things are all very good evidence that modern man has a pretty tough gig, but I was flirting with misogyny at times and presenting my beliefs with an unhealthy amount of anger and bitterness driving what I was writing.

I wish I was gay.

I've wished I was gay for a very long time. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but it's just not for me, unfortunately.

The reason why I want to be gay is that I've found the homosexual world to be more to my liking than the world in general. I like the quick and easy casual sex of Grindr. I like the flamboyancy and femininity of acting camp. I like the 'scene' and the identity that being gay brings - they don't have "hetero pride" parades, do they? I mainly like the fact that I can be ogled as a sex object and be passive, with potential sexual suitors buttering me up and massaging my ego, and all I have to do is decide who I want to have sex with. In the hetero world as a cisgender man, it's stressful taking risks, making the first move, trying to impress and having horrible knock-backs; it's a lot of pressure to present yourself as eligible and successful, and having gone to all the effort of getting a girlfriend there can be power struggles, with sex and children used as pawns and men are the usually the ones who lose out.

Of course by now, you're probably screaming at the screen that it's harder being a women, gay, trans or whatever particular thing it is that you identify as. You're probably very offended. You probably believe that my opinion is somehow encroaching on your rights and that I'm stealing valuable airtime which needs to be used exclusively by oppressed minority groups.

Everything I write, I worry that I'm somehow veering dangerously towards opinions that would be more at home on Brietbart. I consider myself to be an open-minded lefty liberal who's been through bi-curious periods of life and is quite comfortable with my identity, insofar as I don't think I'm homophobic or transphobic. I really don't think I'm a misogynist, although I admit that I rather bristle with annoyance that men's issues cannot be openly discussed without aggressive hostility being directed towards men who are suffering some very real and extremely horrible issues, and simply want to share their opinion and experiences. Obviously, to be lumped together with the likes of Donald Trump because I'm also a wealthy white man, is quite offensively racist - I'm not part of the so-called patriarchy just because of my skin colour and socioeconomic circumstances.

All these things are unspeakable.

I'm quite well aware of experiments such as this one: Two groups of psychiatrists are given identical case notes on a fictitious person, but one group is told that the person is black, and the psychiatrists in that group will view the fictitious person as much more violent, suspicious and dangerous, even though the only difference in the available evidence is skin colour. Clearly, people of colour still experience dreadful prejudice and discrimination, but we should be able to discuss other instances of prejudice, discrimination, oppression and abuse without considering certain things to be 'off limits'. I know that anybody who said "all lives matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, was heavily criticised for seemingly undermining the central point: that black people suffer a grossly disproportionate amount of police brutality, incarceration and general mistreatment by the criminal justice system. I don't write in reply to movements which seek to reduce rape, sexual assault, discrimination, racism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, hate crime, oppression, exploitation and all the other awful things that are going on in the world; I write in addition. Holding and expressing my opinion does not diminish, discredit or undermine anybody else's struggle.

I'm on extremely dodgy ground.

I feel vastly outnumbered. I can't count myself amongst the angry white working-class disadvantaged men who swill lager and spout racial hatred with a St. George's flag draped around their chubby shoulders. I can't count myself amongst the highly-educated metropolitan liberal middle-class elites, although this is the group I most closely identify with. I can't count myself amongst the homeless addicts and alcoholics, although this is the group I'm most socioeconomically closely related to, surprisingly. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but I'm clearly not able to join the LGBTQQIP2SAA club, despite my best efforts. I know that there are men like me - at least in terms of gender, sexual preference, skin colour, education and wealth - who have successfully infiltrated feminism and groups of Social Justice Warriors. Perhaps I could ally myself with a group of outraged individuals and add my angry and aggressive voice to the unified noise that they create. I would certainly like to feel that I safely belong to a group, rather than being an outlier who holds very untrendy opinions which could even be mistaken as similar to those held by horrible gangs of knuckle-dragging thugs.

Am I a racist, bigot, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic fully paid-up member of the patriarchy, responsible for the oppression of all the very many minority identity groups who'd gladly queue up for an opportunity to abuse me? I certainly lose a lot of sleep at night worrying that I've unwittingly wandered into the less extreme fringe territory of the groups that I detest: the right-wingers.

I'm somebody who's had a lefty liberal multicultural upbringing, and who has been open minded to the point of being almost a terrorist apologist, so desperate am I to distance myself from the Islamophobia sweeping the UK and US. I'm somebody who's always aspired towards equality in the workplace and at home, and has lived and worked in environments more diverse than any other place on the planet: 110 languages are spoken in London, which is twice as many as the next most multicultural city. Is it possible that I'm actually the enemy? Is it possible that I don't know myself at all, and I'm actually chomping at the bit to get swastikas tattooed all over my body and then go tell some women to get back in the kitchen, before kicking a transexual to death?

What has happened in the world where I feel like I've done something wrong and I'd better keep quiet for fear of causing offence and becoming a target for abuse? Why do I feel like I'm speaking the unspeakable? Why do I feel like I'm uttering heresies which no member of the lefty liberal metropolitan elite should ever utter? Why do I feel like I'm risking further isolation, loneliness, exclusion and being viewed as the enemy by people who I like and respect?

I wonder what my right-thinking right-on friends would say if they read this. I fear that they think I've been driven into the arms of the Brietbart brigade and I've become a nasty horrible right-wing scumbag. Is that possible? Have I missed something? Am I sleepwalking into enemy territory?




No Culture Kid

2 min read

This is a story about national identity...

Passport place of birth

It's pretty clear from my passport what my national identity is: Welsh. Other people might ask "where were your parents born?". I only know where my dad was born, so what can we decide?

I moved around so much growing up I'm not sure where my home town is, my home county, the part of the country or even the nation to which I should pledge allegiance.

"Anyone but England" say the Welsh and the Scots. Certainly if it's rugby, there's no doubt that I'll be supporting Wales.

When I think of "The English" I immediately think of racists; I think of the St. George's flag, and the bigotry that it's emblematic of. When I think of "The English" I can't reconcile them with the cosmopolitan and multicultural people of London: the city where I've spent the majority of my adult life.

I'm having an identity crisis. Coming 'home' to Wales has been a challenging and confusing experience, which has ultimately left me feeling very isolated and lonely; rejected.

As we speak, England have just scored in the World Cup semi-final. Fewer than 6 minutes of the game have elapsed. I'm emotionally unmoved.

Perhaps I don't belong anywhere.

I don't feel like I belong anywhere.




Cool Britannia

9 min read

This is a story about indoctrination...

Dunkirk IMAX ticket stub

I wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday morning, condemning jingoistic rhetoric, especially in light of the emboldenment of closet racists by Brexit & Donald Trump. As our fathers and grandfathers who served in the armed forces during World War II die, I am angry that we seem to be left with a bunch of deluded nationalist wankers who think that warfare is a glorious thing. There are no winners in war - only one group getting to impose terms on another.

As children disengage from education and unjustly inherit a hopeless future of minimum wage zero-hours contract McJobs, we have witnessed the rise & rise of the Call of Duty series of computer games. The aggregate profits from Call of Duty, vastly eclipse all the money taken at the cinema box office & DVD sales, for war movies.

If you learn about warfare from computer games, not from history lessons, then you gain the false impression that wars are won by individual soldiers' heroic actions. The story told by computer games is that war is exciting entertainment and one man can be victorious against insurmountable numbers of enemy forces. When playing a computer game, you don't have the visceral fear that you are going to be wounded or killed. There's no risk to your life or health and you don't hear the screams of people, as they bleed to death in agony. When you kill a 'virtual' soldier you know they're not real - they're not human like you are. All humans have a family; you and the 'enemy' bleed red; everybody is equally shit scared of death and injury.

When we learn about history at school in the UK, it's all about World War I and World War II. We're taught about the USA sending cannon fodder for the D-Day beach landings. The Brits talk about 'winning the war'. The Yanks talk about 'helping the Brits win the war'. Due to Cold War propaganda, it's now no longer acknowledged that it was the Russians who conquered Berlin and cornered Hitler in his bunker, where he committed suicide. The fact is that Nazi Germany fought on too many fronts and over-stretched itself.

It's hard to conceptualise a war of attrition - trench warfare - like World War I, when ground troops would be sent 'over the top' only to be shot to pieces by machine guns. Through the genocide of the Native Americans and happy geographic accident, the USA has been able to pour trillions of dollars into the development of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear bombs were dropped by the USA, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians - men, women & children. The USA has a romanticised a kind of warfare that's cowardly, clean and clinical - dropping bombs on a defenceless 'enemy' thousands of feet below.

Every decisive weapon that has ever been developed in history - from the pointy stick to the suicide bomber - has conferred not only a military advantage but also a psychological one. If you've ever been prodded with a pointy stick, it's not very nice and it makes you wish you had a pointy stick, with which to at least defend yourself, if not to get revenge on the person who prodded you. If you have ever prodded an unarmed person with a pointy stick, then you are joining the ranks of every man who ever carried a spear, slingshot, bow & arrow, dagger, sword, musket, rifle, pistol, rocket launcher or machine gun. Weapons turn an ordinary animal that can only fight with teeth & claws, into an increasingly powerful combination of man & machine, capable of mass murder. The arms race is a natural reaction to armed oppression.

I like to think of myself as a cosmopolitan Citizen of the World, as opposed to a nationalist. Racists with the St. George's flag draped around their shoulders make me want to vomit. However, the educated middle-classes who work well-paid professional jobs, have many things of value - houses, cars, cash in the bank, stocks & shares, holiday homes and a bunch of other stuff too - but English white trash have nothing: no hope of a better life, and their life is dog shit anyway. The most valuable thing that an English 'chav/pleb/prole' has is their British citizenship, which entitles them to welfare benefits, free healthcare and social housing. I can somewhat understand why the Brexit brigade wouldn't want to share the only thing they've got in their life that's got any value: their UK government handouts.

I watched the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk yesterday. I saw it at an IMAX cinema, shot on 70mm film (well, the digital equivalent anyway) which made it an immersive experience. I didn't expect it to affect me emotionally. I honestly could not have given a fuck whether Private Ryan was Saved or not.

I've been a keen sailor/yachtsman, since childhood. There's something inescapably British about living on a small island. I've spent lots of time at sea, and I have no illusions about what a formidable impasse any stretch of open seawater presents, even in the absence of man-eating sharks. The English Channel - where I've sailed and kitesurfed more than anywhere in the world - is one of the windiest places on Earth and has some of the biggest tides, which create dangerous fast-flowing currents that exceed the maximum speed of many boats.

In the film Dunkirk, when the flotilla of British fishermen and amateur pleasure boaters, appeared on the horizon - to evacuate the beach packed with 400,000 troops, surrounded on all sides by advancing Nazi troops - I was crying like a baby. This is a true story. 326,000 troops were evacuated by a hastily assembled hotchpotch of any vessel that was capable of making the channel crossing and getting close enough to the beach for soldiers to clamber aboard these motorboats, fishing trawlers, sailing yachts and every other kind of boat you could imagine.

Land of Hope and Glory or God Save the King did not play as the soundtrack, nor did Rule Britannia or any other overtly patriotic clichéd music. Dunkirk wasn't plastered with Union Jacks or other national symbols. However, when the film is about to end, the soundtrack finishes with a subtle reboot of Edward Elgar's Variation IX "Nimrod" which is played grave. The orchestral piece is played so slowly, that few would be able to immediately identify the chords, name the work and its original composer.

I don't wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday and I don't watch any of the television coverage, let alone attend the ceremony.

The British Legion has metamorphosed into something that's got an unpleasant association with racists, and is on the same spectrum as the British National Party (BNP), the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First. I have a knee-jerk reaction that causes me to reject the flag-waving nationalism that inversely correlates with the economic prosperity of our once-great nation and empire. Nationalism breeds bigotry and xenophobia, which leads to hate crimes and racially motivated atrocities.

Of course, to feel guilty about slavery, the conquest of nations, genocidal massacres, imperial aggression and oppression of whole nations - hundreds of millions of people - is not something I can take any rational personal responsibility for. I wasn't alive when the British gunned down over 1,000 unarmed Sikh men, women & children, who were peacefully gathered in Jallianwalla Bagh public gardens. I protested against the invasion of Iraq. I've protested against every war that Britain has fought, since reaching voting age - when in theory, all wars became fought in my name, as a member of the UK electorate. In a democracy, the blood of the innocent is spilled on every citizen's hands.

However, something about my upbringing in Britain has clearly indoctrinated me, as I was so deeply emotionally moved by Dunkirk. Perhaps living by the sea and being a keen dinghy sailor, yachtsman and kitesurfer, has given me an appreciation for the treachery of the oceans and the difficulty of evacuating 326,000 soldiers, trapped on a beach, to a place of safety. I can directly relate to feelings of every yacht skipper towards the safety of their crew and the duty of care that is morally owed to anybody who is in need of assistance - the sea is a cruel and deadly place, and to return crew, passengers and shipwreck victims to safe dry land is a responsibility felt amongst all captains and skippers.

Watching a very British war movie, doesn't make me want to build a wall and turn the United Kingdom into a fortress; I don't want to deport every Muslim and Eastern European; I don't want to racially abuse people who weren't born in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; I don't want to EVER say that "national security" is a justification for the infringement of the sovereign rights of another nation state, through war, invasion, dropping bombs, drone strikes and UN economic sanctions that cause disproportionate suffering to innocent civilians. I didn't rush out of the cinema, and immediately want to punch the first foreign-looking person that I saw.

I'm obviously conflicted. It was a wake-up call, that I've been so subtly indoctrinated, that I'm not even aware of my own Britishness. I hope that doesn't mean that I'm more of a closet racist than I care to admit to myself or others. Am I really just as bad as Trump supporters and neo-Nazis, beneath my cultured & educated, compassionate liberal metropolitan tolerant & inclusive veneer?

It's a dichotomy, but I feel like I can watch a historically accurate dramatisation of true events, and be emotionally moved, but yet also stay true to my values: condemnation of nationalism and Donald Trump's undiplomatic rhetoric; and peacefully protesting against war and opposing racism, wherever I see it.




Opinion Polls and Bookies' Odds

3 min read

This is a story about inverse correlation...

Marine Le Pen

I want to talk about three past votes, and two future ones: Brexit, Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and the UK General Election.

Brexit and Trump followed a very neat pattern of anti-correlation with the expected result. The opinion polls showed that the UK was going to vote to remain in the EU, as well as showing that Hilary Clinton was going to win the US presidential election. The bookmakers' odds showed that most people were betting in line with the opinion polls, so the odds were short on remain & Clinton, and long on Brexit & Trump.

Geert Wilders and his far-right PVV party were clear favourites to win the majority of seats in the Dutch election. The opinion polls and the bookmakers were in PVV's favour. Again, we saw anti-correlation, with PVV failing to secure a majority and Geert Wilders being dealt a long-overdue blow. It was encouraging to see racism, bigotry and the far-right's rise and rise, finally falter.

France's Marine Le Pen is behind in the opinion polls and has long odds offered at the bookmakers. Does this mean that the pattern of anti-correlation is going to continue, and our nearest continental neighbour is going to vote for an extremely right-wing president?

Opinion polls are flawed when it comes to voting for racists and bigots. People are not going to openly admit to their abhorrent views, but when they have the anonymity of the voting booth, the truth is revealed: the west is much more racist than it cares to admit.

The Conservatives have styled themselves as a centrist party, but one must always be mindful that their roots are right-wing. It's no accident that Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, bigoted and racist views have come to dominate the political landscape during the time they have been in government.

If, instead of asking the question "should the UK remain a member of the EU?" we had asked "would you kill somebody if you could get away with it?" and people had voted "yes" in the anonymity of the voting booth, should we legalise murder because it has a democratic mandate? Fundamentally, I think there is a nanny state role to be played when it comes to civilising the barbaric and abhorrent aspects of the knuckle-dragging masses. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

Looking at the upcoming general election, the outcome is not going to be that interesting. In the year that the Lib Dems formed a coalition with the Conservatives, I had placed a bet on the Lib Dems at odds of over 500 to 1. Right now, you can only get odds of 60 to 1, which are still very long odds, but nowhere near as long as they have been in the past. Odds on Labour of 18 to 1, in what is widely considered to be a two-horse race, are very generous indeed. Perhaps Labour will surprise pundits and all those truly left-wing socialist people who get laughed at for being wide-eyed optimists, will no longer be ignored.

The next couple of months are going to be very interesting, to see if the pollsters continue to get things completely wrong, and that there's plenty of money to be made by betting against the favourites.




Do You Feel Safe Now?

7 min read

This is a story about the right to bear arms...

Police horse

Defence budgets are soaring. The UK is spending £205 billion to upgrade the nuclear deterrent. The annual NHS budget is half that amount. We could give the NHS an extra £350 million per week, for over 11 years, instead of spending our money on weapons of mass destruction.

There are two vans full of armed police parked outside Canary Wharf station, every single working day. I pass them on my way to work. Now, there are also mounted police.

Our foreign policies are abhorrent. The rhetoric used by politicians and the media has whipped up a frenzy of nationalism, xenophobia, bigotry and racism. I used to be proud that Britain was a diverse and inclusive nation, but now I'm embarrassed to discover that there is a marginal majority who have this crazy idea about raising the drawbridge and lowering the portcullis: fortress England.

I saw a meme the other day that asked what the hell is wrong with you if you're so afraid of ISIS that you're not prepared to grant asylum to women & children who are fleeing ISIS. It's a damn good point well made.

The great success that is hidden in the decline of the British empire, is that we managed to leave things in relatively good order. The partition of India and Pakistan was mostly successful, except for one stupid idiot who had no idea about the Kashmir region, but drew the border anyway. Britain is still on good terms with both India and Pakistan and I have no problem getting a visa to visit either country. I've been to India many times and they've embraced English as an official language. The railway system and a lot of other bureaucratic systems are run exactly as they were under British rule.

Again, when Britain left the Middle East, Gulf States and North Africa, after World War II, it was a masterclass in diplomacy and how to divide and rule areas that would otherwise be torn apart by internecine strife. Yes, it's true that dictators were installed. However, before the Gulf War, there was a thriving middle class and excellent infrastructure, not only in Iraq but throughout the whole Middle East. The standard of living in Libya was amazing. Bashar al-Assad brought the Internet to Syria in the mid-nineties, and Assad was somebody who the British had excellent diplomatic ties with: he was one of our best friends in the region.

Britain's policy had always been to rule through diplomacy and bureaucracy. Britain's policy was not one of invasion, conquest, occupation, arms races and domination through sheer military might. The reason Britain had a huge empire is because we are a mercantile nation, who negotiated many trade deals and established much of the flow of goods over land and sea that we see today. Britain didn't want war. Britain wanted to be friends with everybody, so they could trade with the world.

Now, with the American 'shock and awe' tactics, with SCUD missiles raining down on innocent civilians from hundreds of miles away, with no warning, we're fucking hated. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine not even hearing the approach of an aircraft, seeing the falling bomb and having a second to duck and cover? Can you imagine you're sitting there watching TV, and the next thing you know your house is rubble and your whole family have been killed or maimed?

The American occupation, or simply their military presence, in the Middle East was highly offensive and threatening. America likes to flex its military muscle. America likes to boast about its cutting-edge 'defence' technology... which we all know means offensive weapons.

Where's the fucking bravery of warfare, if you're controlling a drone from some air-conditioned office type place, in a building in America, blowing up people in a country thousands of miles away? How that fuck is that being a brave soldier?

And so, we saw the birth of asymmetrical and guerrilla warfare. What we call insurgency is simply the only way that the occupied nations stand any chance of fighting back against the invading forces. The people who we call insurgents are really freedom fighters: fighting for the freedom from invasion and occupation by the country with the world's largest 'defence' budget - America.

I'm going to keep putting 'defence' inside inverted commas like that, because it's not fucking defence. Those weapons get used for offensive purposes far more than for defensive purposes.

The top selling guns in America are hand guns. The top gun retailer is Walmart... we know them as ASDA supermarket in the UK. The top selling bullets are rounds that go in hand guns. What the actual fuck? Surely 1 bullet equals 1 dead person, if you're using a hand gun. I can't imagine that anybody goes hunting deer with a hand gun, can you?

This culture of fetishising deadly weapons - brandishing them and carrying them on the public streets - has become ubiquitous. Giving guns to every ordinary policemen and women. Encouraging people to own a gun at home and introducing laws like stand-your-ground have caused a massive spike in the number of guns and bullets sold, and the number of people who are killed in shootings.

My fear is that Britain moves closer and closer to the American model of foreign and domestic policy.

I would hate it if our police were all armed with guns. No policeman should be judge, jury and executioner. I would hate it if private citizens were allowed to own handguns, which serve no purpose other than to shoot people. The self defence argument crumbles to dust if you can keep guns out of everybody's hands. I would bet you that 99 out of 100 burglaries in the UK are committed by people who are not carrying guns.

The more the rhetoric and the hate ramps up, and the more our strong historical positive diplomatic relationships with many leaders in the Middle East deteriorate, as well as the whole region descending into a chaotic power struggle, the more that Britain becomes a proxy target for the many many people who hate America, because America killed their children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, friends and countless other innocent victims of cowardly missile, bomb and drone strikes.

"Don't shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes" they used to say. Soldiers used to have to live with the horror of knowing they'd taken the life of another human being. Now, your drone controller hops in his car and drives home to his family, at the end of his shift. He has no idea what kind of carnage and destruction was unleashed in the aftermath of his drone strike. He has no idea whether the intelligence was correct, or if he just murdered a bunch of innocent people.

The American way of doing things is not making me feel safe. Donald Trump does not make me feel safe. Border controls and slamming the door in the face of people fleeing persecution and war, does not make me feel safe. Dropping bombs on Syria does not make me feel safe. The 'special relationship' with America does not make me feel safe.

We belong to Europe, and we owe it to our former colonies to maintain peace and stability. We are fucking up two of our greatest postwar achievements, and letting America ruin world peace.

I don't feel safe.




A Brief History Lesson

19 min read

This is a story about conflict...


Israelis, are you fucking colour blind? The United Nations partitioned Palestine, to create the state of Israel in 1947. Stay behind your fucking border and stop killing Palestinian children with your American planes, bombs, guns, tanks, helicopters and every other piece of advanced military hardware that you have, to terrorise poor people who only have sticks and stones to defend themselves.

Israel, you have nuclear weapons, so the Arab countries that are in your proximity have a right to have them too, to defend themselves. You can't continue to bully and fuck over the poor nations in the region. You've got your territory. It's time to stop being such genocidal maniacs and total arseholes. You're the fucking reason why we have terrorists, along with your American sponsors.

Quit your fucking boo-hoo-hoo about the holocaust, and crying "ANTI SEMITE" whenever the international community criticises your atrocious violation of United Nation resolutions and your brutal assault on your impoverished neighbours. The Jews aren't the only group to have suffered a genocide. Check your fucking history books and have some fucking humility. Ever heard of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Genocide? Quit your fucking self-pity and stay the fuck within your borders. Get the fuck out of Palestine and stop killing children.


Can you see lines on a map? Can you read? Does the name of that place you're bombing or invading have the name of your country on it, or somebody else's? Why do you think that these places have existed for long enough to have borders and names? Do you think it's because some kind of peace and stability in the region has been achieved: an uneasy truce?

So, Saddam probably gassed some Kurds. So fucking what? Boo fucking hoo. Sadam kept a lid on the Sunni vs. Shia bullshit, and kept the fucking Kurds at bay. The goddam Kurds are the thorn in everybody's side: just ask the Turkish. They're like those fucking nutjobs who think Cornwall should be independent from the UK. Bunch of nutters.

The Assads aren't exactly chuffed about American troops occupying the Middle East. How would you like it if some bunch of trigger-happy jumped up twats decided to live in part of your fucking house? Hafaz el-Assad was quite successful at getting the Americans to fuck off. Bashar al-Assad was doing quite a decent job of building a modern Syria, until neighbouring Iraq got illegally invaded and the whole fucking region was thrown into chaos, allowing 'rebels' to have a stab at trying to grab power through violence and coup attempts.

You can dig up dirt on any government, which is trying to maintain stability and control. The longer the region is left to stabilise, the less brutal the government has to be. I'm no fan of the Tory regime, with the evil dictator Theresa May. I would be locked up as a political prisoner - persecuted - for my right to rebel against the government by getting a gun and trying to take power by force. How can people be expected to live under such appalling conditions?


Afghanistan. Ever heard of this shitting place? I'm sure you've heard tales about how easy it's been for countries to take it over and control it. There's lots of history about how the British found it really easy there, and definitely didn't get totally massacred. Then the Russians were there and they had an absolutely wonderful time and didn't have any problems at all. Finally, the Americans decided that they'd have a go at this super soft target, because of the simplicity of the task of conquering this country with a long history of being easily dominated by massive military might. Yes, history has definitely shown that massive numbers of British, Russian and American troops, with all their military hardware, can easily control this strategically important country on the Silk Road. Nobody ever got their arses kicked... presumably. I'd need to check the history books, but I'm sure that it's written down somewhere that this is a totally cool place to invade.

You want to move goods from East to West, but there are only so many passes through the mountains where it's possible to get truckloads of whatever it is you're transporting, to be traded in the Middle East and Europe via Afghanistan. Maybe you've heard of the Khyber Pass and the Silk Road. It's pretty strategically important to have land-based supply chains.

Afghanistan looks innocuous enough on the map, but it's actually super important for anybody who doesn't want to be forced to deal with the Ruskies in the North.

Libya map

You know sometimes you hear the name of a country and you think "I really want to bomb that country, just because I don't like the name". Sometimes you think "god damn, there's a country with some really nice infrastructure and a thriving economy... we really should bomb the shit out of some of their stuff". That's what Americans think when they hear Libya.

In 1986, three people were killed in a nightclub bombing in Berlin - which is in Germany by the way - so the obvious response was for the Americans, who live nearly 5,000 miles away from Germany and over 6,000 miles from Libya, was to bomb the shit out of the Libyans.

Iran map

What about this poor bastard, Iran? The country that the US just won't leave the fuck alone. Oil rich and with a highly educated population, Iran has managed to get close to being able to defend itself, despite the US's attempt to use the monarchy to control the population for their own advantage. When the Shah started backing his Arab allies, especially as part of OPEC, the West had no more use for this puppet, and he was driven into exile. Ever since then, endless boo-hoo-hoo propaganda bullshit about how awful it is that now rich twats in Tehran have to act with some cultural sympathy, is fed to us in the West, while internally the country prospers as best as it can, despite bullshit sanctions designed to stop Iran from being able to stand up to the bullying imperialists, and be a strong Arab ally in the Middle East, to counter the disproportionate force of the genocidal Israelis.

In short: the world is a safer place if Iran gets nukes, because then the Israelis might have to stop acting like such utter cunts. If the Yanks and the Israelis stop pissing off the Arabs and destabilising the whole of the Middle East, then terrorism goes away and we all have a nice peaceful co-existence.

Basically, history since the end of World War II pretty much goes like this:

  • State of Israel created so that persecuted jews have somewhere to call home
  • Israelis start being right bunch of cunts, with American weapons, and pissing off all their fucking neighbours and threatening them with nukes and stuff
  • Invasion of Middle East and illegal occupation of countries, pisses of some really poor people
  • Americans and American-armed Israelis start killing Arab children and generally acting like fucking Nazis
  • Americans jam their thumb up the arse of the Arabs and smear pooh all over their face, just to piss them off
  • Israelis keep leaving human faeces on the doorstep of every Arab home
  • Eventually, the incredibly poor people who don't have any weapons start chucking stones at the occupying forces, with their body armour and tanks.
  • The Yanks and the Israelis start ethnic cleansing, blowing people and shit up and generally pursuing a policy of terrorism.
  • A tiny handful of extremely pissed off Arabs blow up some planes, nightclubs, army barracks and other targets, in attempt to get the invading and occupying forces to fuck off out of their countries.
  • The Israelis decide to invade and occupy parts of Egypt and Syria, just because they fucking can, because the Americans are backing them and they've got far superior weaponry. They even threaten to nuke the Egyptians.
  • The Americans invade and blow everything to fucking pieces and completely destroy all peace and stability in the region.
  • Some US government shit that shouldn't have even been in Libya gets attacked. Big deal. Get the fuck out of Benghazi - check the map... it's in Libya, not the United States.
  • The Americans blow up a convoy allowing the Libyan leader to be lynched, after already destabilising the whole place by selling guns to both sides.
  • "Regime change" is a synonym for "unleashing an unbelievably awful power struggle".
  • All the fucking nutters that Gadaffi, Saddam and the Assads kept under control, start fucking up the peace and stability of the region.
  • Iran is aggresively and relentlessly fucked over, because they're trying to defend themselves from American-sponsored Israeli aggression.
  • The policy of supporting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and Golem Heights in Syria, allowing the Israelis to threaten the Middle East with their nukes and generally act like total Nazis, and whinge about anti-Semitism, while committing atrocities, continues to aggravate the Arab world
  • Even a white middle-class British man who was born in Wales and grew up in Oxford, can sympathise with how fucked over the whole Arab world is by the Americans and the Israelis, and can understand why they would fight back by throwing stones or even suicide bombing
  • Every fucking nutjob thinks their particular ethnic region should be an independent country, even though they couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, let alone agree how to divide the land and self-govern. The Kurds attempt to fuck Turkey and Syria up. Various religious nutters try to enforce their bullshit patriarchy on whole developed countries, because they're not getting enough sex.

You could say it's all about oil, but in actual fact, all those petrodollars had built some amazing infrastructure and raised living standards exceptionally high in the Middle East. The middle classes were thriving. Educational standards were amazing. The 'developing' world was threatening to become a bit too developed. The Yanks decided to bomb and destabilise, invade and occupy, until the whole of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf states were totally fucked, and collapsed into internecine conflict.

In 1973, the world got a very clear message from the Arab world: don't fuck with us, because we can turn off the oil taps. The Arab world asked to be treated with some fucking respect, because they wield some power too. The Yanks didn't like that very much.

The Brits had done a decent enough job of chopping up the Middle East and installing some rulers who would give the region some stability. OK, so it was stability achieved by machine-gunning large numbers of religious nutjobs, like the pesky Wahhabists. OK, so a few militant Kurds needed to be liquidated. Call it collateral damage. You can't argue with the fact that it was at least peaceful after World War II, thanks to the Brits understanding the history and culture of the region very well.

The Americans are a bit stupid when it comes to the definition of terrorism. When the IRA would blow up a pub or a hotel or something like that, that wasn't terrorism. When the Israelis would terrorise all the impoverished people in the Middle East using American high-tech weaponry, that wasn't terrorism.

Israel and the Americans got annoyed that somebody threw a rock at them that harmlessly bounced off their kevlar body armour, so they decided they'd better take over the management of the Middle East, by bombing the shit out of everybody, killing civilians without giving a fuck and getting rid of 'regimes' that kept the whole region stable.

Obviously, it pissed the Yanks off that they were asked nicely to respect other countries and treat them with decency. Obviously, it pissed the Yanks off that they couldn't just take everything they wanted, whenever they wanted it, while the whole world starves in squalor and they live in opulent luxury. After the indignity of having to pay slightly more for their petrol in the 1970s, they decided to destroy an entire continent's living standards and directly and indirectly kill millions of people, just because they wanted to feel like a "big guy".

More of the history of the Middle East and North Africa is about the Brits and the Americans being able to sell weapons and supply the Israeli military, than it is about oil. Oil only enters the equation, because the cartel of OPEC pisses off arrogant Americans, who think they're the boss of everything and need not show an ounce of respect or diplomacy towards anybody.

So, if you were wondering why we have to suffer Nazis like Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and other truly deplorable twats who threaten to destroy the peaceful world we've been able to enjoy since the last world war, then the answer is: because America has totally screwed up the Middle East, with Britain tagging along for the ride, even though us Brits actually stabilised the region in the first place.

There's so much disproportionate revenge from the United States, using weapons of mass destruction. You kill one of their soldiers who's invaded your country and is occupying your land, and they'll drop an atomic bomb on hundreds of thousands of your civilians. That's the kind of bloodthirsty evil shit of a country that we're dealing with: a bully that's armed to the teeth, and will inflict horrible death and suffering using any excuse.

If you want to know why we can't all get along, why we have all those security checks at airports and we're scared of Arab-looking men, it's because we fucking deserve a good kicking. We've been part of America's global campaign to be an absolute dick to everybody with a brown face, kill mind-boggling numbers of innocent people and cause unimaginable suffering, in the interests of imperial arrogance.

How much, exactly, do you want to have? The 1950s sounded pretty awesome, and the 1960s too. Why not stop there? Why go marauding all over the globe, fucking up other people's shit? Why on earth does America need to flex its muscles and bully impoverished nations?

The Brits seemed to develop a smidgen of humility, and stop pissing the Irish off so much. Ireland is Ireland. The British invasion and occupation of Ireland is something we should apologise for and be ashamed of. You can see what a bad attitude the Brits had, when you look at the Argentinian Malvinas, which fucking arrogant Brits seem to think are somewhere off the coast of Cornwall and are called the Falkland Islands.

Empires are one thing, but fucking with the stability of a region is quite another. The American quest to fuck up Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya and just about anywhere else that's peaceful and prosperous, but doesn't buy much Coca Cola and McDonalds, is the reason why we have these 'national security threats'.

So, 52% of the UK population are intent on fucking up the unity of a peaceful Europe, because they don't like immigrants and refugees, and they're fucking paranoid about terrorism. But think about why people might want to hurt us, or might want to come here: because their home countries got fucked up by us, as part of an American-led campaign to keep the poor in their place. Americans can't feel prosperous unless they're making somebody else suffer.

A billionaire reality-TV star, who's completely useless as a businessman, having been bankrupt many times, has now been elected leader of the 'free' world, by being a racist; a Nazi. How did this come about? What kind of world has resulted in building massive walls, revoking visas and banning visitors from certain countries? How on earth does any of this not sound like we're just repeating the mistakes that led to world wars?

This is not democracy in action. This is awful. The marginal Brexit victory, and the technical victory of Donald Trump - he got less votes overall - does not show the will of the people. It shows the disgusting attitude of the people. These weren't votes... this was an opinion poll that showed that there are a terrifying number of racist cunts in our midst.

Democracy and capitalism are not only failing, but they're giving credibility to awful things. There's no way I can respect a vote to abuse immigrants. There's no way I can respect the portion of the electorate who want to do awful things to their fellow human beings.

Try to remember that the Nazis didn't take their power by force. Try to remember that we all have an individual responsibility to vote with our conscience, not with malice, xenophobia and bigotry. It takes effort to be kind and humanitarian, but we have a responsibility to act with decency; both collectively and individually. It's a terrible thing when a gang of thugs starts throwing their weight around, and thinking it's OK because there's safety in numbers.

We may well find that democracy is completely flawed, when people turn nasty, because they're protected by the anonymity of the voting booth. Imagine if there was a permanent public record of how you voted: you could be held jointly responsible for the damage, suffering and deaths you caused through your nastiness, thinking that you could get away with it. Imagine being prosecuted for a crime against humanity, because you voted for something so evil and selfish, that was harmful to so many people.

It's our job as citizens of democratic countries to curb the warmongering ambitions of our political leaders. Every prime minister and president wants a war to call their own. It's our collective responsibility to muzzle these dangerous dogs. These wars should not be fought in our name, even if some of us are stupid enough to be swayed by the propaganda.

Take another look at recent history, and try to look at it without the Hollywood bullshit, that tells us the world is made up of good guys and bad guys. Why don't you find out what it was really like to live in Iraq under Saddam, Syria under Assad, or Libya under Gadaffi, before these places were torn to shreds by forces unleashed when America and a few allies - like us Brits - attacked, invaded, bombed, drone struck and generally destabilised.

Take another look at why the 'bad guys' - who are far fewer than you might imagine - want to 'kill us'. Think about motive. Think about what we might have done to other countries, that makes our own countries a target for retaliation. Think about what injustices we perpetuate, oppressing people. What can these unarmed victims do, in the face of these invading armies who have all the latest high-tech weaponry? 

Re-tell the story, without bleating on about the holocaust - it was a long time ago, by the way - and painting this demonic figure of 'radical islam'. Let's hear the story about illegal invasions, occupation, aggression of militarily superior nations against impoverished nations with limited ability to defend themselves. Let's hear the story about the bullies beating up anybody who's advancing and improving: keeping things unfair; unbalanced.

If having nukes means that you act with kindness, restraint and generosity, then maybe it's OK if only a few nations have them: countries that set a good example for the rest. However, having nukes seems to make a country act with aggression, arrogance, cruelty and a thirst for world domination. Therefore, the only solution is for everybody to have nukes, so nobody gets bullied. The other solution would be for every nation to give up all their nukes, but that ain't ever going to happen.

Anyway, everything looks like it's about to blow. Everywhere I look, things are fucked. Greece and Italy are in big economic trouble. Turkey is so strategically important, but also in the middle of a massive power struggle. Iran is exercising its rights as a sovereign country to develop weapons to defend itself, but America doesn't need much of an excuse to start wars and fuck countries up. Iran's probably one of the last stable proper Islamic republic democracies in the Middle East: the Iranians voted "Yankee go home". As the weather warms up, the huge movement of migrants will start again. The French are pissed off with having everybody trying to get to the UK, fucking up Calais. A wave of right-wing Nazism threatens a clean-sweep across the globe: Le Pen and Wilders joining the likes of Farage and Trump, in a world that thinks that racism is suddenly OK now. All it's going to take is one trigger event - a stock market slump, economic calamity or a major act of terrorism - and a massive domino effect will be triggered. Take a look in your history books and tell me what's happened before when people feel poor and insecure. Fuck the stats: the reality is that most families are just about managing, and it's fucking stressful. Something's gotta give.

Debt levels are unsustainable, suicides are soaring. All the omens are very bad. There's definitely a whiff of the 1930s about what's going on, with hints of another Great Depression and the rise of fucking insane nationalist Nazi parties. It all makes me feel rather nauseated.

I reckon we've probably got one chance to step back from the brink of disaster, but nobody seems to be capable of saying "ooops, I was wrong. I made a mistake". Nobody seems to want to say "look, I know that so-and-so won on a technicality, but really, I don't think our democracy should be run by a bunch of racist cunts".

Everybody's too busy just about managing to be able to understand what's really going on and act with some human decency, rather than having our emotional buttons pushed by the very people who have exploited us and pushed us to breaking point.

Why are you not more worried about history judging you to be one of the bad guys, than taking a clear stand and fighting for what's obviously the right humanitarian, compassionate thing to do?




Angry White Man

9 min read

This is a story about political correctness gone mad...

St George Flag

The liberal metropolitan elites are on the right side of history, right? The neanderthal knuckle-draggers are simply poorly educated angry white men, who need to step aside and make way for the black one-legged Muslim lesbian immigrants to take all the jobs and go on the dole, right? I probably can't even say black. It's political correctness gone mad.

Right, I've probably successfully got your heckles up. Now, get your calculator out.

The average wage in the UK is roughly £26,000. The average house price is £260,000. Assuming you can borrow three and a half times your income, you can get a mortgage of £91,000. So, you'll need a deposit of £169,000.

For the current tax year, average take home pay is £1,737. Average rent in the UK is £900 a month, leaving £837 a month for council tax, gas, electric, water, sewerage, food & drink, toiletries, cleaning products, transport, clothing, mobile phone, Internet, home & life insurance, home maintenance, alcohol & tobacco, gambling & lottery, going out and saving money.

Let's assume that our average UK citizen is a super scrimpy person who lives on budget baked beans and never turns on the heating or any lights. They can probably save a maximum of £500 per month, which leaves them £337 a month to spend on everything else. To save up the £170k they need to buy a house, they'll need to be thrifty for the next 28 years... assuming house prices don't go up.

Of course, this also assumes that you can even get a job that pays about £12.50 an hour, when 80% of all new jobs being created pay less than £17,000 per annum. Most jobs pay less than the average, because the average wage is skewed by a small number of very high earners.

OK, but we can all just go on benefits, right?

Well, housing benefit doesn't pay enough to rent a place. Rents are higher than housing benefit. If you work more than 16 hours a week, your benefits will be cut off, so you can't use housing benefit to top up your income. If you're a 'snowflake' millennial, you'll have just £57.90 to live on each week, plus your housing benefit that isn't enough to pay the rent.

So, what's the solution?

Well, if you're an immigrant you might be prepared to live in an appallingly shit house, with several people in every room. Many of us grew up in houses with sitting rooms and dining rooms. If you have a look round a house full of economic migrants who are all working for minimum wage, you're not going to find any reception rooms: every room is a bedroom.

Who cleans the toilets? Who waits the tables? Who serves the coffee? Who picks up the litter? Who hoovers your office? Who washes your car? Who built your house? Who unblocked your drain?

When we want something, we demand rock-bottom prices. We believe all the bullshit about 'rogue traders' and 'rip-off Britain' when in actual fact we are mostly idle and spoiled. We wanted cheap goods, so the factories moved to the Far East. We wanted easy jobs, so the immigrants came to do all the shitty ones. We wanted big fat undeserved early pensions, so asset prices bubbled. The petit bourgeois rentier class is a parasite on young people who need somewhere to live.

"Build some more houses!"

Yes, but who's going to build them? You wanted people who work hard for peanuts, so you got Poles. It's a fairly established middle-class thing to do: to demand Eastern European builders, because your British counterparts are supposedly lazy and work-shy, but aren't you part of the problem if you're not rolling up your sleeves and getting on with the job yourself?

The UK population was 50 million in the 1950s. Now it's 65 million. If there were 30 children in a school classroom in the fifties, there would be 39 today. If there were 1 million cars in the fifties, there are 1.3 million now. Hang on! That can't be right, can it?

Yes, ostensibly our observations don't match the hard numbers. Our day-to-day experiences don't tally with the facts, data and opinion polls.

Of course, I picked a difficult example: car ownership has soared, along with our living standards.

Our living standards have soared, haven't they?

Well, why do so many people want to go back to some kind of golden era of yesteryear? Perhaps 1954 would be the perfect year for us to roll the clock back to: when rationing ended.

"Britain's full" we hear. Certainly, many of us perceive overcrowding, congestion, heavy traffic, problems making a doctor's appointment, problems getting our kids into the school we want our little darlings to go to. What the hell? And there's always some darkies in the queue too... it must be all those mozzies, right?

The liberal metropolitan elites [like me] will tell you that you're imagining things. You're just not colourblind enough. If you squint your eyes - like a Chinaman - you'll see that your crowded train carriage actually has plenty of seats, and the few passengers are white men wearing hats, reading broadsheet newspapers and puffing pipes.

There's clearly a mismatch between perception, reality and what the 'facts' tell us. How can Britain have filled up when the population has only increased by 30%?

Let's look at the example of the economic migrant.

I don't live in The City of London. I live out near Canary Wharf and commute into the Square Mile for work. I migrate each day, for economic reasons. The official population of the City is 12,000 people, but in fact the population on a miserable Monday morning is more like 400,000. That's a 33 fold increase. That's a helluva migration every day.

In the desperate struggle of the rat race, both parents are now working, when previously the husband's sole income was adequate for the household's meagre expenses. I'm sorry to be so heteronormative, but women were housewives and men were the breadwinners. With sexual equality comes a doubling of the workforce, taking up space on the trains and roads, struggling to get to work each morning.

If both parents are working, who's going to clean the house? We're going to need a Lithuanian cleaner. Who's going to look after the kids? We're going to need a Spanish au pair. Who's going to prepare lunch? We're going to need an Italian sandwich maker.

We cluster together where all the jobs are: London and the South-East. We all commute huge distances on horribly overcrowded transport networks, because it's cheaper for our employers to build massive office blocks. The more office blocks you get in one place, the bigger the pool of potential employees, creating a liquid market for commoditised humans.

Most of the UK is an also-ran. Who gives a fuck about job losses across the whole country, when London earns so much tax for the treasury and financial services dominates 80% of the 'economy'.

Of course, it's disingenuous to think that the coal mines are going to re-open, the demand for steel can remain constantly high forever, and there will always be a need for unskilled manual labour. However, didn't we forget that a lot of people have been thrown onto the scrap heap, because we only worship facts and figures, not lives?

Is it possible that the knuckle-draggers  -- who hanker for a yesteryear of homophobia, sexism, bigotry and an empire riding roughshod over the developing world -- also have a small handful amongst their number who are right? Their quality of life would have been a lot better when they could have afforded to buy a house, get married, have kids and earn a living without having to resort to government handouts, black market jobs, benefit fraud, drug dealing and other degrading things.

I feel like I need to be the liberal metropolitan elitist who empathises with the plight of the scrounger, the NEET, the JAM family, the council-estate dwelling na'er do well. It's terribly patronising, but what have the unwashed masses noticed that we haven't?

I'm not even allowed to raise the questions without tarring myself with the brush we lazily swish over the enemies of progress: bigot, xenophobe, homophobe, FASCIST!

I hate UKIP, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump and their ilk, but they're shrewd in their observation that people have detected a certain lack of greatness in their once-great nations. Perhaps they weren't great places to be an educated black gay woman, in those yesteryear eras, but isn't politics about the greater good, to some extent? We don't have to lynch the blacks for the benefit of the whites. Trump et. al. have emboldened the racists, and that's awful, but why are they so angry?

Until the liberal metropolitan elites can accept that "[poor ill-educated] white male" has become a pejorative term amongst a sneering set of arrogant, privileged people who rule over them, doesn't it seem obvious that the anger is going to boil over?

Football, X-Factor, Big Brother and all of the other distractions and titillations are inadequate to contain the dissatisfied masses: they don't have any prospects; they don't have anything to hope for, except for a life of miserable poverty; they're unwanted in 'their own' country.

That's what "take are (sic) country back" means... it means that through the Internet, the masses have figured out that they outnumber the rulers and their court, and they want their fair slice of the pie. They've been misdirected into blaming immigrants, because that's always the last desperate ploy played by the greedy people who control the country. The simple fools don't even realise that the rich get even richer during times of war and conflict. Who's going to fight this imaginary fight that we're being whipped into national hysteria over? It will be the poorest, least educated and least privileged who will lose out, yet again.

Sadly, unless income inequality and declining living standards are addressed, there's little to offer the angry people except a cathartic bloodletting. Obviously, it offends my liberal sensibilities to see anger misdirected at the hardworking immigrants who cook me delicious halal food and act as a kind of lightning rod, stopping me from getting beaten up as a yuppie... a gentrifier.

What happened to class warfare? What happened to the labour movement? What happened to revolution?

TV melted your brain, dude.




War and Peace

6 min read

This is a story about the last word...

Spam can

Is this a time for levity? Should we go back to our normal everyday lives, as if nothing important is happening in the world, apart from funny videos of cats and the banality of our everyday existence?

What is Facebook for? Is it a soapbox for those without a voice in the corridors of power? Is it somewhere to spam your friends, with your thoughts, ideas and political agenda?

I have no idea what the answers are to these questions, so I look to people that I like and respect, and try to imitate their behaviour. I have a friend who is a vociferous Conservative party member, who shares many opinions on Facebook, so this encourages me to set myself up, in opposition somewhat. I have another friend who is an admirable humanist and eloquent writer on the topic of social injustices, who keeps me informed of many things that are unpleasant in the world, and how compassionate individuals are seeking to drive back those evil forces. This encourages me to share messages of hope and support in this cause.

You don't have to read my blog, and you probably don't. You've seen it pop up on your Facebook wall enough times, and been confronted with somewhat of a wall of words, or some kind of shame-spiral and deeply personal things that should perhaps never be shared.

Just ignore it. It will probably go away. Just one blog post a day is pretty easy to ignore.

But what about when it becomes a raging torrent of social media sharing? What about when your Facebook wall or Twitter feed is filled with a person with a bad case of verbal diarrhea? Time to unfriend them? Time to unfollow them?

The reason why I won't shut up at the moment is summed up neatly by this famous quote:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

The far-right have been encouraged to go on the rampage, and I can't see what's going to curtail the rise and rise of racism. What will cause the bigotry, xenophobia and outright fascism, to be stopped in its tracks?

I was going to spend the evening watching light entertainment television shows, or perhaps a couple of films, but I have been provoked into breaking my one-a-day blog post rule, by the fact that a couple of people I like and respect think that their work is done. They voted, made their protest, and now it's time to crack open the champagne.

In actual fact, whatever the political outcomes, I really don't give a shit whether I have a British flavour of democracy or a European flavour... I just don't want racists to think that it's OK to abuse people in the street.

I don't want people laminating little cards and shoving them through the letter boxes of Eastern European people, telling them they're "vermin".

I don't want racists on a bus telling anybody with a darker skin tone, or speaking in a foreign language, that they are not welcome here in the UK.

I don't want people shouting racial abuse in the street.

Perhaps these things would have occurred, whichever way the vote went, but my intuition tells me that it somehow seems more acceptable in society to be racist, when you feel like you're in the majority.

Does it seem like I'm being a patronising patriarchal London effeminate City banker-boy ponce to you, if I remind you that immigrant bashing propaganda was how the Nazis swept to power. Of course, it seems like I'm an over-earnest teenager, in making such an obvious observation, but somebody's got to call it out, haven't they?

You can't just say "I'm bored of hearing about your anti-racist sentiment now. I want to see a dancing cat on stilts playing a piano. HA HA HA!". You were either part of the group that ushered in this dark era of mistrusting Johnny Foreigner and bashing the darkies, or you were part of the group who said "hey! let's be inclusive and tolerant!".

I really couldn't give two hoots about which group of elitists rule my life with an iron fist, if we're going to be overrun with skinhead neo-nazis and suffer the resurrection of fascism in Europe.

Does it not concern you more that we need to shut down detestable entities like the BNP, UKIP, France's Front National etc. etc. as a priority?

There is no victory to celebrate in the 'majority' vote. There is no "the people have spoken and it's time to move on" when huge numbers of those people are FUCKING RACISTS. Priority #1 for the country has to be shutting down the far-right, not shutting each other up so we can all go and live in la-la land where we all have milk and honey because we're politically governed slightly differently.

Don't you get it? There is no "move on, let's be positive" when groups of disaffected people are out looking for a mosque to torch, or a person with different skin colour to them to abuse.

Will I shut the hell up? Will I fuck, when the ugly face of fascism is showing itself again.

There's perhaps an important lesson to be learned about whether people like myself - the London Guardian reader - have helped or hindered, but I certainly predicted this result and its consequences, and I certainly understand all the concerns of the underclass.

Will I stop spamming my Facebook friends? Yes, I'll probably retreat into blog-land, where I can write at length without taking up a disproportionate amount of space on a wall that should be filled with grinning infants, prowling pussycats and raucous nights out.

What will you say though, to your grandkids, when they ask you what you did after the UK voted to leave the EU?




Now is the Winter of our Discontent

7 min read

This is a story of the part of Great Britain without a voice...

Bookie Wook

Our media misrepresents "youths" (young people) just like they misrepresent "refugees", "insurgents", "benefit cheats", "drug addicts", "criminals", "con men" and a whole host of other convenient 'bad guys' that help them to tell stories to sell newspapers, magazines and sell TV and radio advertising slots.

I saw a TV program the other night that was criticising a small business owner for paying somebody cash in hand to work for them. Surely the real story was that this well presented, educated and posh sounding journalist was even able to get a job paying £6.50 an hour without alerting suspicions... that's about the best job that even high-achieving school leavers and graduates can expect to get.

The prospects for young people today are atrocious. There are not enough training contracts and apprenticeships. There are no jobs to gain the valuable experience that will make these bright, energetic, enthusiastic and hard-working people into productive members of the workforce.

The Conservative Government has done what it normally does, which is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and I'm pretty angry about that.

The Tories presided over the Big Bang, which resulted in the Yuppies and Loadsamoney generation of the 1980s, but still left big social divides. When the Tories then tried to introduce the Poll Tax, which was a massive tax on the poor, people were outraged.

The Tories have now started to attempt to dismantle the social welfare system, leaving many unemployed, unwell and less abled people, living well below any acceptable standard for a developed Western nation.

Have you actually spoken to people, about how hard it is for them to stretch their budgets? Have you really gotten to know what the daily problems they face are? Have you attempted to live on Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Disability Living Allowance? Have you filled in the forms? Have you been to assessments, been to the centres, tried to navigate the system? No, I didn't think so.

Many parents have masked the problem, until now, by subsidising their children and grandchildren. This has merely propped up a completely untenable government and lined the pockets of the rich. So much money has been siphoned off into wealthy people's pockets, with little or none of it actually reaching those who work so hard to improve the day-to-day lives of British Citizens.

Do our Nurses feel better off under the Tories? No. Do our Teachers feel better off under the Tories? No. Do our Police feel better off under the Tories? No. Do our Firemen and women feel better off under the Tories? No. Do our Armed Services feel better off (financially) under the Tories? No.

While the Tories have fanned the flames of nationalism and warmongering, and attempted to stoke up a culture of Union Jack and St. George flag waving. This hoodwinks the undeniable erosion of the standard of living of ordinary people living in the UK.

Have the Tories made it any easier for people to buy their first house? No. Have the Tories made it any easier for young people to get their first job? No. Have they increased wages, or reduced rents or generally taken control of the fact that people's debts are spiralling out of control because most young persons' incomes are not sufficient to pay for the basic essentials for an acceptable life.

We are living, for the first time, in a generation where our opportunities, our standard of living is significantly worse than that of our parents and grandparents. Can people afford to get married, buy a house and have kids? No.

If you take away all hope from people, of being able to own their own little piece of the world, to put down some roots, to fall in love, make a baby and raise a family independently... you are robbing people of their self esteem. You are robbing a whole generation of the chance for them to show you just how hard working and intelligent and resourceful they are, in 'legitimate' ways.

The 'austerity' has merely drained the pension pots of our parents, in supporting the children that have been abandoned by a government run by rich old people, for rich old people. These greedy greedy career politicians are so completely out of touch with what is happening in high-rise council flats in Britain's towns and cities. They haven't got a clue what's happening on the huge estates and new housing developments.

The career politician went to private school, lives in taxpayer funded flat in a gentrified enclave of wealth in London, and commutes back to a rich market town or pretty village, where they are surrounded by wealthy people who have bled Britain dry at the expense of the masses. They have never spent any time in the real world.

There are exceptions, on the left and the right, of course, but in general it seems like the strategy of selecting a House of Commons from the most elite group of privately educated toffs who have never had to experience the welfare system first hand, might have something to do with why people are so angry and upset right now.

The problem is, that these people have few routes to being heard in the media and affecting the public opinion of those in power. Politicians are surrounded by an echochamber of similarly minded and educated elite people, who arrived in their positions as journalists, by very much the same route as them.

London really is a place where a politician and a journalist can live in one gentrified street, completely oblivious to the struggles in the social housing on a neighbouring street. Of course, the people in the 'council house' can't afford to shop on the super-expensive streets of London's trendier areas, so the wilful ignorance persists, because the different socioeconomic groups never actually intermingle.

You can't criticise the business owners who are only supplying to demand. It is not the hipster's 'cereal cafe' that is in the wrong, but in fact the whole system that allows such disparity between rich and poor, to exist and grow.

So, the young have ended up being misdirected into disliking the hipsters, just like they were told to hate the yuppies before. Actually, these people are the ones who got lucky or worked hardest. The people we should really be angry with are the ones who are filthy rich and didn't work for it.

I know it looks to many like riding a bike to work and wearing trendy clothes is all there is to the job, but actually, people in startups do at least 5 jobs each (e.g. Designer, Developer, Tester, Marketing and Sales) and tend to work at least double the hours that you would work in a regular job. They also work 6.5 days a week, and are always available on email and social media. They never switch off, because they are so passionate about their businesses. That's why their businesses have succeeded and not just been turned into another bland chain of corporate humdrum grey monotony.

I urge people to find their voice, and make themselves heard in a peaceful, constructive and erudite way. I'm concerned that the media will fan the flames of youth anger, racist ignorance, misguided nationalism, anti-immigration bigotry and everything else I detest about media 'themed reporting' that tends to fixate on a particular narrative that engages people's eyeballs... and therefore their wallets.

We need to remember... the only 'free' press is online, the BBC and the Observer. Everything else is paid for by a greedy rich old person with a political agenda.

I would suggest that people start boycotting newspapers that are paid for by headlines and advertising, and TV news that shows adverts on commercial channels. Start reading opinions from individuals on Twitter who you like and trust. You will also see what's trending, which is far more real than what is being chosen to be pushed by a news desk editor.