24 March, 2013
The gleeful wrath of the Righteous
If I recall correctly, his/her death got a mention on the Radio 4 news bulletins last Thursday, but as usual I was only half-listening to the aural wallpaper that is Radio 4 in my house. I don't always pay attention and much of what I do pick up is absorbed through a process of mental osmosis. Someone of mildly notorious interest to the media had snuffed it, oop north, I learnt.
Later on Thursday, surfing my habitual pool of sites on the Interweb, I came across this angry little polemic by Tim Fenton, writing at Liberal Conspiracy.
Aha, thunk I. It took a bit of digging and sifting through raging storms of hysterical indignation across the web to get to a reasonably coherent understanding of the case, but what seems to have transpired is this.
Nathan Upton was a primary school teacher living and working in Accrington. Mr Upton was also a gender-dysphoric and had decided at last to take the plunge and "transtion" to living as a woman. It's not revealed precisely how far he had gone down this road but judging from what I have learnt over the past few days, he was probably just entering the preparatory "permadrag" stage of publicly living as and dressing as a woman. Full on "gender reassignment" (or whatever term you prefer — the whole area seems to be a lexicopolitical minefield) is not something to be undertaken in haste. Medics want to be fully convinced before they start lopping off dangly bits and pumping you full of interesting hormones.
Whatever his ultimate intentions, Nathan proposed to start dressing as and working as a woman when the school returned from its Christmas break. He had already tried going out "in drag" in his free time, but discreetly. His headmistress sent out a business-as-usual staff changes letter to parents, in which she mentioned more or less in passing that in the new term Mr Nathan Upton would be functioning as Miss Lucy Meadows.
This did not go down well with some parents and came to the attention of first the local and later the national press. It was also picked up by Richard Littlejohn in his Daily Mail column.
Last week Mr Upton was found dead at his home. It seems to be generally assumed that this was the result of suicide. It is also widely assumed that this "suicide" was a reaction to harassment from or fomented by the press, Richard Littlejohn in particular.
Well, as Roy Greenslade reminds us in his Guardian blog,
The Sky News report [like all the newspaper reports that I've seen so far -EG] quotes a Lancashire police spokeswoman as saying that there were no suspicious circumstances. This is usually taken to mean that it is a case of suicide, though it is possibly not the case.
But, sticking to the facts, it is important to note that there is no clear link – indeed any link – between what Littlejohn wrote and the death of Lucy Meadows.
The Mail has since deleted the relevant section of Mr Littlejohn's column, along with the reader comments, which were generally quite sympathetic to the late Mr Upton. Whether this action represents cowardice or merely a response to legal advice, I have no idea. You can't escape the Wayback Machine, though, and the original unredacted online version is available here. I reproduce the relevant section in full below.
He's not only in the wrong body... he's in the wrong job
By Richard Littlejohn
21 December 2012
Look, it can’t be much fun being a woman trapped in a man’s body. Believe me, ladies, there are times when it’s not exactly a bundle of laughs being a man trapped inside a man’s body.
So I have every sympathy for the 400 or so people a year who opt for ‘gender reassignment’ surgery to put themselves out of their misery.
I don’t even have any problem with sex-change operations being carried out on the NHS, provided it’s a genuine medical necessity and not a lifestyle choice. Transsexuals pay taxes, too.
Schoolteacher Nathan Upton, 32, says he always knew he was born into the wrong sex. Yet he married and fathered a child, now aged three. It was only fairly recently that he decided to go public with his inner turmoil.
The first indications came when he began growing his cropped hair and dyeing it purple. He started turning up for class wearing pink nail varnish and sparkly headbands.
His pupils at St Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School in Accrington, Lancs, couldn’t help noticing. A crayon drawing of Mr Upton by a Year 6 pupil on the school’s website shows him with long hair swept back over his shoulders.
One parent said: ‘I saw what I thought was Mr Upton dressed as a woman in town one weekend, but I decided I had imagined it.’
Oh no, you hadn’t.
Confirmation came in the school’s Christmas newsletter. It started innocuously enough, with a series of routine staff announcements. Then in paragraph six, out of the blue, BOOM! Are you sitting comfortably, children?
‘Mr Upton has made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman after the Christmas break. She will return to work as Miss Meadows.’
Mr Nathan Upton has announced he will be returning to the school after Christmas as Miss Lucy Meadows
It went on to stress that the school is ‘proud of our commitment to equality and diversity’. Of course they are.
This week, the school’s 169 pupils, aged between seven and 11, were informed class-by-class that from now on, ‘Sir’ would be ‘Miss’.
Teachers told them that Mr Upton felt he had been ‘born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body’ and would henceforth be living as a woman.
Nathan Upton is now in the early stages of gender reassignment treatment. He issued a statement which read: ‘This has been a long and difficult journey for me and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.’
So that’s all right, then. From now on, kiddies, Mr Upton will be known as Miss Lucy Meadows.
What are you staring at, Johnny? Move along, nothing to see here. Get on with your spelling test. Today’s word is ‘transitioning’.
Mr Upton/Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened. The school might be extremely proud of its ‘commitment to equality and diversity’.
But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.
Pre-pubescent boys and girls haven’t even had the chance to come to terms with the changes in their own bodies.
Why should they be forced to deal with the news that a male teacher they have always known as Mr Upton will henceforth be a woman called Miss Meadows? Anyway, why not Miss Upton?
Parent Wayne Cowie said the news had left his ten-year-old son worried and confused.
For the past three years he has been taught by Mr Upton, but has now been told that he will be punished if he continues to call ‘Miss Meadows’ ‘Mr Upton’ after the Christmas holidays. ‘My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl’s brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl’s brains.’
The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its ‘commitment to diversity and equality’ above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.
It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.
These are primary school children, for heaven’s sake. Most them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.
The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be ‘expected to behave properly around her.’ Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.
By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
It would have been easy for him to disappear quietly at Christmas, have the operation and then return to work as ‘Miss Meadows’ at another school on the other side of town in September. No-one would have been any the wiser.
But if he cares so little for the sensibilities of the children he is paid to teach, he’s not only trapped in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job.
The lynch mobs are out, burning torches and pitchforks in hand, for both Littlejohn and the Mail. Not just Tim Fenton and the loyal BTLers at Liberal Conspiracy, but in the newspaper comments threads, on Faceache (Richard Littlejohn Must Go, Vigil for Lucy Meadows) and the right-on blogosphere.
Perhaps, from the perspective of an unreconstructed scumbag, I can offer a few observations.
I don't think the people who are shouting the loudest about the unpleasant end of the late Mr Upton actually give a twopenny fuck for him.
Fenton and the Facebook warriors are in this for the opportunity to stick one into Littlejohn and the Mail. Without the Littlejohn element, Fenton would have simply raised his eyebrows slightly and moved on to something more juicy. Littlejohn is a professional contrarian who purports to represent the views the man on the Clapham omnibus would express for himself if he could get away with it. Littlejohn's successful career hints that there might be some truth in this. The Righteous Left, however, hate and resent Littlejohn and the Mail with a seething vehemence that could, if connected to the national grid, power several small towns. And some of the violent language against Littlejohn that has come out below-the-line in BLT activiist blogs like Zinnia's, llinked above, and in newspaper comment threads is the sort of stuff which would get an EDLer banged up for years.
Yet if you wipe away the red mist for a few moments, what Littlejohn actually says is actually quite reasonable. He is not suggesting that Mr Upton is a vile pervert who should have a steel spike rammed up his jacksy and then be exhibited in the town square as a warning to nonces, kiddie fiddlers and pooves. Littlejohn is merely saying that Mr Upton's pupils, children in the age range 7 - 11, might have difficulty in understanding and successfully integrating Mr Upton's sudden transformation into Miss Meadows.
The orthodoxy presented in comment threads is that young children are blank slates as yet uncorrupted by adult prejudice, who accept difference without difficulty. Well, maybe in some cases. But have the indignant Righteous bothered to read the newspaper reports? One parent, interviewed by the press, reported that his little boy, having been told by the school that Mr Upton "had a girl's brain in a boy's body", became deeply anxious that such a fate might befall him. He was very frightened.
Small children are not blank slates upon whom the artificial social construct of gender is imprinted by a fascist patriarchal adult conspiracy. Gender and gender roles are important to children from well before puberty itself kicks in. It is a core part of their emerging identity and to be presented suddenly with the idea that this stable social rock might be subject to incomprehensible and unpredictable change might be disastrously destabilizing.
Which is what, I am inclined to believe, Littlejohn was getting at. Would it have been better for the children, when Nathan Upton began his transitiion and began to live publicly as Lucy Meadows, for him to start work in another school as a perhaps curiously "manly" woman — a bit like Golda Meir or that Ruth Kelly geezer wot was in the last Labour government — whose transitional status was known only to the teaching staff?
Although it has not yet been officially confirmed, it is a reasonable assumption that Nathan Upton topped himself. What is not a foregone conclusion is that the press in general and Littlejohn in particular are responsible for his death. Jane Fae, writing in the New Statesman, tells us that Mr Upton had complained about being doorstepped and stalked by journalists in December when interest in the story was at its peak, but it's not clear that this extended much into the new year. If he took his own life, we do not at this stage know why. Perhaps the inquest will tell us, perhaps it won't. In the meantime the smug assumptions which are in circulation are driven by political opportunism and political hatred, which is despicable.
A note on the language. Apart from the first few paragraphs, I have consistently referred to the person at the centre of this unfortunate business as 'Nathan Upton' or as 'he'. To be honest, I'm not that bothered. If I were communicating directly with the chap or with those around him, once he had openly begun his transition, then it would have been churlish not to refer to 'Lucy Meadows' and 'she'. But commenters on the web, both LGBT activists and the righteous left, have been unreasonably aggressive in slapping down those who failed to accept the gender change as a done deal. In the context of debate, the choice of language carries considerable political charge and is more than a matter of simple courtesy. Well, I'm sorry, I'm not willing to be bullied by linguistic fascists. I can play hardball too. As I understand it, the late Mr Upton was just about to embark on the probationary two-year "real life test" of living full time in his proposed gender role. At the time of his death, he was objectively a bloke in a frock playing at being a woman. You can stuff your political shibboleths and sneering liberal supercilious arrogance into the orifice of choice.
Right. Rant over. Sorry it's been such a long one.
Everybody back to their own beds.
05 March, 2013
The creepiness of Wikipedia
In the last few minutes the death has been announced of Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela.or words to that effect. So I turn immediately to Wikipedia, where I find that Mr Chávez' entry has already been updated to record his death.
Damned impressive no doubt, but curiously creepy at the same time.
26 February, 2013
It's only words
Forty years ago, when it had gentle personality-based plotlines that developed almost in real time, I could cheerfully lend half an ear to the omnibus edition of The Archers of a Sunday; the aggressive whiny vulnerability of Walter Gabriel, the surprising underlying decency of his snobbish and permanently exasperated son Nelson, a sort of bucolic Brian Sewell lite, the bumbling if ultimately well-meaning chavvy stupity of Eddie Grundy contrasting with the conniving entitlement-mentality selfishness and greed of his father Joe — a man like a mangy ferret trying unsuccessfully to present a conciliatory smile but achieving only a menacingly toothy rictus. All good stuff and actually quite enjoyable. These days if a passing Catholic priest hasn't infected all the choir boys with HIV and Usha hasn't been racially abused by one of Tom Archer's genetically modified pigs within the first ten minutes the show is reckoned to be a failure. So it goes. That's progress I guess.
As to Wimmin's Hour, I have always found its patronizing, self-righteous and curiously self-confident casual misandry masquerading as feminism irritating beyond words. Jenni Murray, when speaking ex cathedra, is spectacularly annoying, though I do suspect that she can be a nicer, more rounded person when she's off duty.
But it came to pass that, this morning I found myself actually listening to Woman's Hour. I've had a heavy cold these past few days — not so much a "common cold" as downright vulgar. All that sneezing and snivelling takes it out of you, tha knows, and when I finally surfaced at around 10:00 this morning I turned on the bedside radio to facilitate my slow readaptation to the waking state. The more reasonable and relaxed Jane Garvey was at the helm, so I listened on.
But why did she let herself down in an item about the care of elderly relatives suffering from senile dementia? It was mentioned in passing that two of the standard test questions asked of possible dementia sufferers, when being diagnosed, were
— How many camels are there in Holland?To which la Garvey commented, gratuitously, that these seemed to be "very male" questions.
— What is the weight of a standard hammer?
Why, Jane? Why?
22 February, 2013
I is a little confused
A bit harsh, I felt, given that
The member of staff has been dismissed after the 'unintentional error' on December 12 last year recently came to light.
I suppose she ought to count herself lucky that her hand wasn't chopped off or that she wasn't stoned to death for poisoning the children of the prophet with haram nosh.
But what actually puzzles me is, given that
All 1,400 students at Moseley school are served halal meat, regardless of their religion.
how it came to pass that the naughty non-halal meat got into the school canteen in the first place. The "dinner lady", one presumes, was involved in preparing and/or serving meals delivered by a supplier or from a central kitchen contracted by the council. Unless the dinner lady was sneaking in pork sausages as an act of infidel defiance, the introduction of haram meat into the supply chain was the fault of someone outside the school.
Something funny about this, methinks.
20 February, 2013
You live and learn, innit?
An hour later we were treated to a nicely balanced talking-head session on the subject of the package, featuring Oona King, a decent Black Jewess who was found unacceptably diverse as an MP by the curiously monocultural residents of Bethnal Green and Bow, and Danny Dorling, a "professor of human geography". Professor Dorling wondered aloud why the White middle-class were so keen to leave the capital as soon as they started to have kids when London's schools were so much better than those in the rest of the country because of the greater drive and ambition of immigrant parents.
Clearly I've got it all wrong. I recant my former ignorance and prejudice.
I for one now welcome our new Black overlords and saviours!
04 February, 2013
I now pronounce you man and husband
What puzzles me is that the settled opinion among the Righteous is that all remaining opposition to the proposal — proposal? Binky, dahling, marry me! Sod off, Charles, what do you think I am, some sort of wooftah? — that the irreducible minimum of opposition comes only from religious nutters and from homophobic Tory backwoodsmen who'd sooner have legislation to have suspected members of the ferrous community publicly horsewhipped in the market square until they recant their vile perversion.
Hmm. Well, I'm an atheist, as it goes. Indeed I clearly remember the morning in Sunday School when I concluded that the stuff I was being taught was a bit thin in the Occam's razor department. Obviously I didn't have the language to express it in quite those terms at the age of ten, but I was a precocious little smartarse and that is essentially what it came down to. And much as I appreciate the contribution of some organized religion as a cohesive social and moral force, I've seen nothing to overturn my position in the intervening 54 years.
As far as homophobia goes, well that's for others to judge, but as I have made clear before, I'm very much with Mrs Patrick Campbell on the matter: if they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, then I'm not really interested in the activities of the local amateur brownhatting society. Provided they wipe up after themselves and don't expect me to watch and applaud the more athletic sequences, that is.
But what has any of this to do with marriage? In the argument over "same-sex marriage", marriage is presented, shall we say, as the public celebration and acknowledgement of a committed long-term loving relationship, sexually expressed or reinforced, between two people. You can faff around with the precise formulation but that's the essence of it, the formal recognition of a hopefully permanent loving relationship. And only historic and outdated prejudice limits the recognition of such a relationship to mixed-gender partnerships.
Well, that's all very nice, but why would society evolve such a thing? Marriage is not this season's passing fad or even the reflection of some relevant but ultimately temporally or spatially localized social arrangement like, say, sumptuary dress codes. Marriage is a damned-near universal human institution, uniting a man and a woman for the procreation of children. Whatever the minor variations, and whether regulated by state, church or purely by strong socal custom enforced by the threat of communal opprobrium, that is what it always comes back to. It reenforces the man's ongoing responsibility to support his wife and children, it encodes the clan relationships and responsibilities of the extended family, it defines the processes of inheritance of property and of status. It is, in short, about the maintenance of social structure and continuity. The pair-bond between the man and wife may be at the centre of the institution, but they are not the whole of it.
But what of childless marriages, ask the proponents of same-sex marriage? An interesting point but I don't think it invalidates the paradigm. Whether barren by intent or by unfortunate outcome, a childless marriage might arguably be seen as nugatory and indeed it is often regarded with disapproval or pity. But it is accepted.
A gay "marriage" is not generally perceived as conforming or being able to conform, even in principle, to the core paradigm. Even if the couple choose to raise children, there is artifice involved, such as adoption or the artificial insemination of one partner of a lesbian couple.
The point is that "normal" marriage is overwhelmingly targeted at the procreation and rearing of children into established and sustainable social structures, whereas gay "marriage" is, in the great majority of cases, little more than a public celebration of a long-term relationship.
Society is, on the whole, unsentimental. It is about survival and about power relationships and projecting your genes into a successful future. That society should evolve persistent structures to adapt the child rearing pair bonds of our hunter-gatherer ancestors to the more complex needs of settled societies with heritable property, this makes sense. That society should evolve persistent structures simply to celebrate the pair bond itself, this makes no sense.
So there you have it, gay folks. I think you're barking up the wrong tree. What is your driver here? Jealousy? Malice? Faux outrage at the denial of perceived "rights" and spurious equality? The pizazz of the big "wedding"? A need to pretend to be "normal" by playing mummies and daddies?
Civil partnerships adequately meet your acknowledged needs for a legal structure to cover the complications arising from intimately shared life and property. That should suffice. The only problem with civil partnerships is that government chose to ceremonialize them into "marriage lite" instead of implementing them as simple legal contracts prepared by a solicitor, thus creating undue expectations.
Right, enough of this waffle. Me and a couple of my oppos are off down the woods with our twelve-bores to see if we can flush some nancy boys out of the undergrowth and teach 'em the error of their ways.
31 January, 2013
Niestety, nie mówię po polsku
It's not as easy at it sounds, you know. It takes it out of you, and the reinvigorating powers of Russian lager served by Lithuanian bar "associates" can only do so much.
The other reason I've been quiet is general gobsmackitude. I really must stop reading CiF. It's like those naughty psychotropic chemicals: you know you shouldn't but, well, just once more, eh?
Yesterday was a lulu.
we were told. I have to admit I didn't read the article; just skimmed the title and the standfirst
labour restrictions is unlikely to lead to mass immigration
and then plunged straight into the bear pit below the line. I gather that we shouldn't worry about a massive influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after the rules change at the end of the year. Only ten will come in total: a brain surgeon, three ATM-skimmers and six self-employed Big Issue vendors.
Not only that, we really should stop whingeing about the Poles. Did you not know that Polish airmen won the second war on our behalf while the English sat around drinking tea? (Funny, I thought it was the Indian infantry that won it for us, but there you go.) And how did we repay the Poles for their selfless sacrifice? By failing to prevent the postwar Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe, that's what. So we owe the Poles bigtime. Anything they want, really.
Makes you proud, innit. A small island nation that, so we are repeatedly told, doesn't really exist, is responsible for all of the world's evil. Such dogged, determined nastiness, the willingness to go out there, to overcome all adversity in order to ruthlessly fuck the entire world. Now that, my friends, is an achievement to make a man puff out his chest in thoroughly deserved pride.
But it don't half leave yer gob feeling well and truly smacked. I mean, Richard Rodney Bennett, innit?
05 January, 2013
From the Oxford English Dictionary
5b. Psychol.(and Psychiatry) A feeling or subjective experience accompanying a thought or action or occurring in response to a stimulus; an emotion, a mood. In later use also (usu. as a mass noun): the outward display of emotion or mood, as manifested by facial expression, posture, gestures, tone of voice, etc.
I suppose the attack may have had the effect of affecting the boys' affect, but perhaps I am being too kind.
Maybe I'm getting old, but this kind of illiteracy in supposedly professional journalists effects considerable disappointment.
A song for England, eh?
And sure enough, some geezer in Nairobi facebooks in a nomination for "Jambo Bwana" to represent Kenya.
To show willing and offer encouragement, presentoose Harriet Gilbert puts forward a song which in her view captures the spirit of England. I wonder what that might be, I thought, the words "Blue" and "Mink" coming unaccountably to mind as Harriet praises England as the crossroads of the world, the happy blend of many cultures.
And sure enough, a snatch of "Melting Pot" follows.
Well, I guess we do have "coffee-coloured people by the score", Hattie darling, but Gordelpus.
Mind you I don't think they'd get away with
Curly Latin kinkiesthese days. Naughty.
Mixed with yellow Chinkees
Come back Bidisha Nosurname, all is — more or less — forgiven.
"Curly Latin kinkies". Hmm. "Curly black and kinkies" more like. Tharr'll learn me not to cut and paste from song lyric sites, innit.
23 December, 2012
The kill chassis
And I apologize if I have overlooked any genuine comments which have been miscategorized as spam. I don't operate a silent deletion policy for genuine comments, even abusive ones. In the rare event that a real comment has to be deleted, eg for illegality, breach of Blogger's T&Cs, persistent volume abuse, gross irrelevance, then I will generally explain why.
But the following pointless bit of comment spam has a curiously haunting poetic quality that is worth preserving
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It almost but not quite seems to mean something. Weird. Tedious lists of URLs promising me fake Gucci handbags or hand-knitted waterproof fake-wool cocksocks with which to cover my artificially extended penis when, unexpectedly engorged, it pops the zip of my trousers, well that's boring. But the occasional bit of surreallist prose, even when it is produced by a travesty generator, and with no link payload, now that makes a pleasant change, innit.
22 December, 2012
The misspelling loose for the verb lose is now so common "below the line" that I can see it getting into dictionaries as an acknowledged if deprecated alternative spelling quite soon. But this, in a presumably proof-read advertisement for a reputable company,
is a step beyond acceptability.
The Mayans weren't wrong; it's just a more gradual process than they expected.
I mean, like, Gordon H Kryste, innit.
19 December, 2012
Offence taker's corner - the twitterati are outraged
Yesterday I received an additional mailshot from the OED, the text of which is also published on the OED website,
OED Word of the Day: An Apology
We would like to apologize unreservedly for the publication of bloodbath as the word of the day on 18th December 2012.
The OED word of the day is selected months in advance by an editorial committee, and is distributed automatically each day. The timing of today’s word is a coincidence of the worst kind, and we apologize for any distress or upset caused by what might seem to be a highly insensitive choice. What we hope to show with our words of the day is that even seemingly commonplace words can have interesting etymologies; however we have taken today’s word down from the OED Online homepage and are now taking immediate steps to review our scheduling and selection policy.
So what was that all about then? The Huff Post sheds some light. It's not mentioned anywhere as far I can see, but I assume the outrage is about the near coincidence of the choice of the word bloodbath with the recent events at Newtown, CT.
Come on, it's a big world. If any of the bereaved or the wider population of Newtown even subscribe to the OED's word of the day feed, I'm sure they have other things to think about than getting upset about some petty and frankly rather contrived coincidence.
He who seeks offence with sufficient diligence will most surely find it. I have to say that if I'm disgusted about anything then it's with the OED for crawling to these self-righteous little wankers and their moral outrage by proxy.
16 December, 2012
Thought it had gone quiet
Not to worry, Google/Blogger's spam comment filter is pretty damn good. Though, as is only to be expected, it does make very occasional miscategorizations — in both directions. Actually, just recently the filter has been getting a little slapdash, letting through a number of those verbose ads for fake handbags filled with viagra and penis extension tubes.
But not to worry, like — I suspect — most Blogger users I have the option selected for Blogger to email me a copy of each comment left, which has heretofore at least included all comments identified as spam. So I can at least keep an eye on how things are going and deal with any glaring errors.
But hark, Yahoo have got into the act. My mailboxes are on Yahoo and they've been improving their software, innit. Yahoo now has an aggressive and seemingly compulsory spam filter, which identifies the spam blog comments and directs them straight into the spam folder, which it didn't do before. So the inbox is nice and quiet, which it should be on the "Edwin" mailbox 'cos as you may have noticed I haven't been posting here much of late. But the spam folder is bursting at the seams with unnoticed stuff, some of which has been miscategorized by Blogger.
Yahoo have enhanced their mobile mail client as well. I was quite pleased with the old client, the coolest™ feature of which was push notification, ie immediate delivery and notification of incoming mail rather than waiting for the next periodic server poll. Despite the bollocks® that Yahoo are coming out with, push notification is still not working on the new Android client. Is alpha testing in production the new way forward then? I think we should be told. Or at least have the old versions available on Google Play for rollback.
Unnecessary development, or creeping featuritis in its most common manifestation, is the addictive drug of software development. Anyone remember MS-DOS 4?
- Version 1.00 — Just about works; quick, get it out to market.
- Version 1.10 — Version 1.00 with the most glaring bugs fixed.
- Version 2.00 — Basic workmanlike functionality. What v1.00 should have been if it had been done properly.
- Version 3.00 — After a lengthy period of production use, we incorporate the sensible enhancements that the users have been asking for. This is the mature product.
- Version 4.00 — Er, what do we do now, chaps? I know, we'll bundle in every extra function we can think of, including functionality which properly belongs to other established software, and add a tea and coffee making function.
- Version 5.00 — After trying to ignore user complaints for a year or so, we cave in and issue what is in effect v3.00 with a few sensible incremental improvements.
On my Android phone I have a nice little app which taps into TfL's database and presents useful information about, say, London bus services. This screenshot shows expected arrivals at a stop in Thomas Street, Woolwich — locally known as the street of 1,000 Nigerian barbers. Jolly useful stuff
but it was really necessary in the current version, to give the estimated time of arrival to the nearest second, and to include the registration number of the bus?*
At a certain point, software reaches a degree of maturity when any further change is not just gratuitous but deleterious. For basic image editing under Windows, I've gone back to Paintshop Pro version 7. I did install version 10 but after struggling with its slow loading time and fighting through all the whizzbang FX, I went back to what worked. For simple "word processing" under Windows I generally rely on Wordpad. It works.
Keep it simple, stupid.
And, Yahoo, dear Yahoo, if you can't get the new Android mail client working, could you put the old version — you know, the one that works — back on Google Play. Pretty please.
* Strictly speaking I believe it's some kind of fleet number, but on TfL services they generally seem to be the same thing.
06 December, 2012
Borat will be delighted
Rather in the manner of a retired district officer extolling the benefits that the British Empire has brought to the benighted natives of the darker continents as he sips his pink gin, Karan-ji waxes condescendingly lyrical about the boons which his "community" has bestowed on the English, a simple people incapable of mastering the arcane arts of curry preparation, it seems. And indeed the English are most grateful, for they have rewarded this jumped-up curry and lager merchant not only with a CBE, but with a barony as well — the man is now, apparently, Lord Bilharzia of Chelsea. Lucky Chelsea.
Karan has less success in selling his cheap labour and immigration scam to the unruly rabble below the line at CIF, but there you go.
Anyway, perhaps, if he's not too busy setting the British economy to rights, perhaps Lord Bilmoria can help me out with this,
spotted in a local Wetherspoon. Forgive the apostrophe d'épicier and marvel only briefly at the inventive spelling of 'potato', if you will.
But WTF is a mankini curry?
Google (actually the less intrusive Ixquick in my case) has nothing to say on the matter. I would have asked the barstaff, but the few who spoke English well enough to understand what I was on about were too busy.
Answers on a postcard, please.
24 November, 2012
Reporting it on the Today prog, even Naughtie couldn't keep the appalled incredulity out of his voice.
Personally I'm laying in an extra stock of popcorn. I shall also be extra careful to avoid accidental eye-contact with persons of vibrancy when out and about. One doesn't want to have one's collar felt for giving a Black man a funny look in a public place, does one?
Joking apart, it seems to be going that way, innit.
20 November, 2012
From little poppies...
Doing my tour of the news aggregators, I came upon this item reposted by our old friends Hope not Hate.
Luton’s Remembrance Day service was disrupted when PCC candidate Kevin Carroll allegedly objected to Green Party campaigner Marc Scheimann laying a wreath of white peace poppies.Kev Carroll, the reader will recall, is the number two man in the evil English Defence League. He stood in the pointless PCC elections held last week, something which clearly didn't go down too well with the Righteous press.
It’s a tradition Mr Scheimann has carried out for 24 years in memory of his German and British grandfathers who died on opposite sides in World War Two.
The disabled father-of-one was forced to throw himself over the wreath to protect it from a woman demonstrator who attempted to remove it.
He said: “Kevin Carroll waved a clenched fist at me and my four-year-old son and started shouting aggressively.
“He called me a scumbag and said when he was police commissioner he would make sure I went to jail for this.”
A bystander described what happened as “an absolute disgrace. I’ve never experienced anything like it in the 48 years I’ve been going to the Cenotaph.
“It shows no respect for the men who never came back, who gave their lives for our freedom."
So what's afoot? A look at the original Luton Today article tells us little more. Though it has apparently been edited since the above extract in response to reader complaints, which is quite telling in itself. The gist is that Marc Scheimann, a differently-abled member of the Green party and former local councillor, with a small child in tow, attempted to lay a wreath of white poppies at the Cenotaph in Luton. Although Mr Carroll did not intervene physically he is said to have shaken his fist at and verbally abused Mr Scheimann. Separately, a "drunken woman" attempted to remove the wreath of white poppies, prompting a desperate defensive physical intervention from Mr Scheimann.
Not looking good for Ar Kev then, three days before the election. Hmm.
A look below the line proves interesting, if hard work given the irritating threaded multipage layout of the comments. On the whole it's the usual mudslinging between two entrenched groups of regular commenters shouting the same old insults across the no man's land of barbed wire that separates them. But there is also what makes the comment threads of local newspapers surprisingly valuable: local knowledge and eyewitness reports. These contributions, of course, are themselves as subject to bias and selectivity as the general yah-boo-suckery but there is often meat to be prised out of them.
Mr Scheimann, we learn, is not universally welcomed at these annual services. His laying of a wreath of white poppies rather than the more usual red is the source of local resentment. Whatever the official rhetoric of its sponsor the Peace Pledge Union, the white poppy is viewed by many, rightly in my opinion, as a self-righteous political statement rather than a symbol of remembrance.
Mr Scheimann is not what he seems. His activities are not popular with the local public, to the extent that the British Legion and the local council have tried to stop him. He also has wider political axes to grind.
10:53 PM on 12/11/2012
"It's a tradition Mr Scheimann has carried out for 24 years."
So how come he was in Luton on Sunday whining about how Luton Council had banned him from laying a wreath in 2010 at the request of the Royal British Legion?
Seems he likes to make a habit of getting this story in the papers.
Commenter Paul R also digs out some interesting links, for example
(Scheimann misspelt Schiemann if you're searching in the page)
Which leaves us with Mr Carroll. There is no solid suggestion that he did not shake his fist at and expostulate at Mr Scheimann, but it seems clear that Mr Carroll was not the unprovoked source of the disruptive incident. If anything he is guilty of little more than a lack of political nous in the face of provocation.
As to the mysterious "drunken woman" who attempted to take away Mr Scheimann's wreath,
3:46 PM on 13/11/2012
Absolute joke. That gentleman was confronted by many members of the public and asked to remove it. A lady picked it up (I didn't notice her to be drunk) when that chap let go of his boy, snatched the white/green reef back, shouting they are being aggressive and fell to the floor on top of it! Absolute stunt man!! He was there shouting the whole time I was reading the poppy messages. Saying "we can lay what we want" and "I was a councillor which is more than you'll ever be". I do not follow mr Carroll but he did approach the police to ask why this man was allowed to behave in this manner.
Not that any of this stops the meme, once spawned, from escaping intact into the wild. Quite a long way out, in fact.. Why a political comment about Luton has been posted on Yahoo Answers I don't know. But there you go.
In his rather leading Yahoo question Wolfie asks:
And one of his side-kicks attacks a disabled man laying a wreath at the war memorial! Is there no depths to which this vile group of thugs will sink?Sidekick? No connection has been established or even suggested between Kev Carroll and the "drunken woman" who attempted to remove the wreath. Nor is it suggested that she "attacked" Marc Scheimann, rather that Mr Scheimann attempted to stop her removing the wreath.
But this assertion is now established as accepted truth. Below the line Britpilot90 develops the concept
So he attacked a disabled guy ant threatened him with Jail...Strictly speaking, "attacked" here can be taken plausibly to mean "verbally abused", and so it would doubtless be defended, but the easy interpretation of "physical assault" lurks in the context, ready to tempt the inattentive.
So then bruiser Kev Carroll of the fascist (or possibly even facist) EDL beat up an innocent disabled man during a co-ordinated stunt at a remembrance ceremony, did he? Typical lying knuckledragging thugs, eh?
"Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance."
"Cos Jimmy Savile shagged my underage hamster, innit."
The Internet says so, so it must be true.