Notepad on Life

May 1, 2018

Make your case for political correctness, and I’ll buy it

Filed under: foreign,race — - @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-704379.jpegMuch of this blog rails against misguided ideology, so when that ideology mounts an impressive defence, it’s only fair that I record the fact.

Weary of the obsession with words where race issues are concerned, my patience has traditionally run out whenever the word ‘Oriental’ comes under a critical spotlight.

It just means “eastern”, I’ve always reasoned. What the hell?

This week, however, catching up with back issues of the football quarterly The Blizzard, I read this, by Gabriele Marcotti, in an article called The Race Card

“…it’s worth noting that each culture has a very distinct sense of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. That very same article about [footballer Alvaro] Recoba talked about his “oriental” features. Now, I went to a university that helped define political correctness at its peak in the early 1990s. “Oriental” was a term that was exclusively acceptable when describing rugs. Why? Because the word “oriental” carries with it a geographic bias. “Oriental” comes from the word “orient” which means “east”. East of what? Why, east of Europe of course. Using that word places Europe at the centre of the world, to the detriment of other parts of the globe. Of course, in the UK, “oriental” as a term is fine and dandy with most people.”

Some people might still harrumph in protest, but no, I think Marcotti makes his case; one based on logic, rather than the mere whim  of self-appointed arbiters of what is and isn’t ‘the done thing’.

‘East Asian’ it will be from now on.


April 30, 2018

Pamela Geller and shooting the messenger

Filed under: Religion,Women — - @ 1:30 pm
Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-433077.jpegI suppose I should be grateful. My company held on longer than most when it came to freedom of speech. This week, alas, it decided it could hold on no longer. Access to Pamela Geller’s website has been blocked.

For those of you new to the game, let me tell you about Ms Geller and her jihad-monitoring Geller Report. She has her faults.

In her quest to bring creeping Islamisation and its angrier manifestations to the attention of a wider audience, she can occasionally let her zeal run away with her, pinning blame on jihad for attacks while we still await police identification of  a culprit. That’s not to say that her hunches are never borne out, but it’s a flaw nonetheless. One that is dwarfed, however, by the essence of her website, which she has said on several occasions, is not anti-muslim but anti-jihad.

Contrary to her critics, who would have you see her as some fantasist loon, fulminating off the top of her head with what she writes, her daily posts are nearly always based around a hard news story from global press sources.

And in all the loathing and criticism she attracts, I am yet to hear one of her detractors protest that those news stories are either untrue or exaggerated. In their haste to get to the messenger, the message is lost underfoot.

No doubt my employers think they are ‘helping’. It’s what they might be helping that worries me.


April 24, 2018

Fiddling while Jose burns – when critics get too close

Filed under: Journalism — - @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-320617.jpegBiggest first-world problem of the week? World Press Photo Festival judges who couldn’t see the flesh for the flames.

Whether it’s food, wine, music, or photos, rare is the professional critic who doesn’t sometimes get so close to his subject that the bigger picture escapes him: a picture which, if only he could see it, shows the fine line between being lost in rapture and lost up your own rear end, blurring to invisibility.

I don’t say that Ronaldo Schemidt’s striking photograph of Venezuelan protestor José Víctor Salazar Balza, was beyond consideration for an award. Capturing the hapless Balza as he ignites in the aftermath of an exploding petrol tank, made for a compelling image, not to mention an unmissable metaphor for the social conflagration that Venezuela currently seems to be.

Most of the judges thankfully couched their admiration in such terms. But there’s always one…

“It’s a classical photo, but it has an instantaneous energy and dynamic,” gushed jury chairwoman Magdalena Herrera. “The colours, the movement, and it’s very well composed, it has strength.”

Oh good. I’m sure it will make all Sr. Balza’s agony and disfigurement worthwhile, knowing he got the composition and movement spot-on.

Saves him and Ronnie from getting together and having another stab at it, eh?

April 23, 2018

Monocle and the millennial idea of ‘extreme’

Filed under: Office — - @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-147635.jpegClaims of an ‘extreme’ employer’s handbook brought Amalia Illgner’s name to my attention last week.

While it’s ancillary to her pending lawsuit against high-end publisher Monocle for alleged unpaid wages, the juicy bit was the 18-page manual given to her while she worked for the magazine and radio station brand. What Ms Illgner made of it isn’t clear but it sounds like Tanya de Grunwald may have needed a liberal application of smelling salts. Her careers website Graduate Fog described the handbook as ‘’outrageous”, “extreme” and “shocking” and she was quoted by the Press Gazette as saying it “drips with entitlement”.

Leaving aside the question of whether Illgner was adequately remunerated, extensive excerpts from the handbook can be found here. If you find yourself reading through them and increasingly wondering what all the fuss is about, you’re probably over the age of 45.

Newsflash for you, Tanya de Grunwald:

1. This is exactly what starting at the bottom should look like. You learn the ropes and if you never have to bother with your company’s engine-room again, once you rise up the corporate ladder, at least you’ll always know how it works, and you’ll never have to ask your own underlings to do jobs you haven’t done yourself.

2. While no-one should be anyone’s slave, life in the corporate basement isn’t meant to be glamorous. The perks have to be toiled for, and if a year or two doing the grunt work instils a certain humility in you, that is arguably one of the best perks there is. Yours for life and tax-free, too.

3. Spelling out precisely what’s required is liberating rather than restrictive. The more you know from the book, the less time you have to waste looking for someone to help you. It encourages independence and minimises helplessness. And after a few weeks’ on-the-job learning, some interns will barely need to refer to it again. They will be the ones the company eventually hires.

4. I don’t think Monocle’s management would give a stuff that people know they carry out pre-interviews, to assess all that tedious, irrelevant stuff, like a proposed guest’s command of English or ability to engage an audience. I listen to interviews with professional footballers every day: there cannot be enough pre-interviewing in this world.

5. If you regard being sent to Milan for a day to hand-deliver documents, as nothing more than ‘mule’ work, I genuinely feel sorry for you. If there was such a thing as an imagination transplant, I’d urge you to have one.

Oh, there is dripping entitlement in this story, all right. I’m just not sure the accusation is aimed at the right target.

April 22, 2018

Windrush puts immigration concerns back on the naughty step. Thanks, Government…

Filed under: immigration — - @ 11:44 am
Tags: ,

Not being an economist, I can’t opine on the Government’s handling of the economy (although I have my suspicions).

I can, however, see what a pig’s ear they are making of the immigration issue.

It should have been very simple. Implement the Brexit for which a majority voted and restore three simple criteria to future immigration levels – reasonable, manageable, absorbable.

But oh no; our rulers had a better idea. Stupid gimmicks with message boards on lorries and now this; cack-handedly targeting sons and daughters of the Caribbean, because that’s been the focal point of all our immigration concerns these last 10 years, of course.

Whoever is responsible for the Windrush debacle, Tories or Labour, its legacy extends beyond frightened people, unsure of their future, with whom this country needs to make its peace as a matter of urgency.

“Immigration”, you sense, is once again a dirty word, to be mentioned publicly only by rude, callous people. That, certainly, is the feeling I get reading Oliver Kamm’s column for CapXBritain must learn the right lessons from the Windrush fiasco.

You can normally rely on CapX to be the quiet voice of reason, picking its way constructively through the knee-jerk bellowings of the mob. Kamm stays true to this until his final paragraph; a whitewashing generalisation that reads more like the stuff of propaganda.

“Immigrants are enterprising people whose ambitions extend beyond their countries of origin. The controls on their entry to Britain are not too loose but far too tight. To their shame, politicians of all parties, but especially the Conservatives, have preferred to avoid this truth for fear of media execration.”

All immigrants, Mr Kamm? Including those who arrive with a view to introducing a flavour of the Middle East to the UK (and I’m not thinking of Lebanese restaurants here)? Those eastern Europeans seen staggering around my home town from time to time with open bottles in their hands before it’s even 10am? That’s not meant in a holier-than-thou way, incidentally: my own country is sadly all too capable of producing its own, indigenous deadbeats, so I fail to see why we should be importing deadbeats from overseas.

As for Kamm’s next sentence; not more immigration controls, but fewer… Either he is one of those uber-liberal dreamaday Jills, who sees a world without borders, where nation-states give way to a brotherhood of man, or – as I think more likely – he falls into the same trap as LBC’s James O’Brien, who generally fights his corner well yet seems incapable of viewing Brexit or immigration through anything other than the prism of commerce. More bodies filling more jobs, paying more taxes: what’s the problem?

Immigration has a social as well as an economical aspect, however, and it matters. Since he was painting mammoths on cave walls, Man has been tribal, and every tribe needs a camp. In these more sophisticated times, those camps are open to newcomers from elsewhere, and most of us welcome the variety of faces and viewpoints they bring. Swamp any camp with an ongoing free-for-all, however, to the point where reasonable people start to think that it doesn’t feel like home any more, and you have a recipe for social tension. The UK isn’t there yet but I believe it is en route.

Reasonable, manageable, absorbable. Not so much a Nazi mantra as the voice of common sense.

Windrush is a mess that needs sorting, but so is the UK’s current immigration situation. Liberal white guilt must not blind us to that.


[Oh dear; this came a bit too late, it seems, for a hyper-ventilating Stewart Lee…]

April 15, 2018

Hearn just taking his cue from us

Filed under: Sport,Uncategorized — - @ 6:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

pool-billiard-8ball-9ball-735781.jpegNot normally a breeding ground for high passion, snooker had a storm brewing this week, with news that World Championship organisers are banning football shirts among spectators.

While World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn talked about dress suitable for a grand occasion, critics grumbled about ‘gentrification’. Unfortunately for the latter, however, a lot of Mr Hearn’s talking was being done for him over at Aintree, setting for this week’s Grand National meeting, where a number of women offered their sartorial concept of ‘Ladies Day’. Some, you may feel, succeeded rather more than others, and herein lies the problem.

Peter Hitchens once pointed out in his Mail on Sunday column, how the public toilets that our parents and grandparents knew – grandiose affairs with patterned tiles and elegant light fittings – have degenerated into today’s brutalist and purely functional designs, intended to offer as little incentive and raw material as possible for the hooligan to work with.

We showed ourselves incapable of taking care of such places, Hitchens concluded, and so those responsible for them responded accordingly.

A little of that thinking, I would suggest, underpins Barry Hearn’s defence of his own pride and joy, and before they unload on him for it, his critics might like to study some of those Aintree images, and remind themselves that there is more than one definition of the word ‘class’.

April 9, 2018

Organised crime, coming to a street near you

Filed under: crime,Family,Kids,Uncategorized — - @ 1:00 pm

road-man-lights-legs.jpgTwo weeks ago, it was a brick through their front window.

Tonight, it’s someone smashing the side-windows of their car.

There are several candidates as to the source of the grievance, but it’s not the time for us to press the point.

While he’s gone off in a futile bid to catch the culprit and introduce him to rough justice, I’m struck by her resigned calm as she shivers on the doorstep. This grievance has rumbled for a while; their shouts, audible through the wall, suggesting a family under pressure, and its ability to frighten her seems to have diminished through repetition.

More angry now, she detachedly takes us through the drill, as if discussing the cost of food at Tesco.

“He’ll have got someone to do it for him,” she explains, staring at the car. “It’s twenty quid to get someone to smash a window for you. Fifty if you want a kid beaten up…”

This shopping list dismays me almost as much as the sound of breaking glass. I don’t live in Sicily, or New York. I live in an English country town, yet even there the value of life is now apparently so cheap, all it takes to have a price on your head, is to be a child who’s narked someone.

April 8, 2018

No-clue Klopp and grown-ups’ ongoing struggle with ‘democracy’

Filed under: politics — - @ 12:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

Pic courtesy of Ruaraidh Gillies

He is hailed as being a cut-above most football people. Charismatic, intelligent and with maybe a better handle on life than many in the goldfish bowl of the Premier League.

But an otherwise engaging profile of Jurgen Klopp in The Daily Telegraph came to a juddering halt when the Liverpool manager offered a Germanic perspective on the Brexit vote.

“I am maybe not the best-informed person [but Brexit] was like countryside against cities, was a little bit young against old and this is not how democracy should work. If you have to make a decision for the whole country then find a solution for the whole country and not for old people in the countryside. That’s all.”

That’s all. As if he is merely suggesting some teensy cosmetic tweak to the voting process. Only he’s not, of course. Throwing in a little casual ageism, he talks as if our voting intentions should be somehow channelled so as to comply with an overarching aim. No mention of how on earth this would work in practice, of course: the German is apparently just another of those who likes to put warm, fuzzy notions out there, and to hell with the logistics.

Brexit was exactly how democracy should work, and would have been had the result been ‘Remain’. Britons went to the voting booths and voted just as they pleased. No-one checked their ballot paper, no-one whispered in their ear as they drew the curtain behind them, no camera whirred into focus over their shoulder.

If you don’t like the result or the social patterns it highlights, that’s just too bad. It’s democracy and whatever its flaws, Klopp might like to reflect that many former East Germans risked life and limb to become part of it.

April 7, 2018

Showing police choir the door, opens one to extremists

Filed under: gender,Law and order — - @ 12:57 pm
Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-532001.jpegWe already know that political correctness kills. This week it was also found guilty of wasting police time.

No doubt there are parts of Derbyshire going down the Swanee where law and order is concerned, as there are in most counties, yet give Chief Constable Peter Goodman the merest whiff of a right-on ‘crime’ taking place and all the boring conventional felonies can wait.

Goodman found time to inform Derbyshire Constabulary Male Voice Choir that the police were severing all ties with it because of a word in its title. You can probably guess which one.

“[choir] Members say they have been left ‘heartbroken’ after claiming Chief Constable Peter Goodman told the choir that he wanted them to become a mixed voice group.” reported the Derby Telegraph.

“…Mr Goodman said the 62-year-old choir could not keep Derbyshire Constabulary in its name.”

Now, had he severed ties because the choir’s only link with the fuzz was to use a police station for rehearsals and because none of its members are serving police officers, I’d be more inclined to congratulate the Chief Constable for sensible housekeeping. I’m not at ease with the fact that choir members were allowed to wear police uniform while performing. People die in police uniforms: they have no place being used as stage props.

Nothing so sensible, it seems. In return for a grand title and good salary, Peter Goodman has signed up to a liberal Establishment, and as the clichés tumbled forth while he explained his decision, you could hear his pound of flesh being duly handed over.

“We are an equal opportunities employer and we are committed to having an organisation where there are no enclaves where people from different backgrounds cannot go.

“We need to represent our communities in every aspect of our public presence. Having a male voice choir representing the organisation is incompatible with this…”

Even now, I might have gritted my teeth and stood with him, had he produced evidence of numerous complaints being made by women wanting to be part of the choir and being told where to go. Proof that this was a real problem, in other words, and not merely a manufactured one.

How many people have actually been upset by the choir’s demographic seems the million-dollar question, yet no-one appears to have asked it. The closest I can get is a quote from choir chairman Kevin Griffiths, saying that no women have asked to become members of the choir in its history.

If that’s so, then this is where a rolling of the eyes gives way to outright exasperation. While law and order crumble in this country, senior police officers are fixing problems that may not even exist, in order to buff up their ‘gender’ credentials. In this case, in a Force which reportedly has the highest gender pay-gap in the country. I doubt that’s something you can lay at the Chief Constable’s door, but even so, there’s talking the talk and then there’s walking the walk…

Sadly, none of this stopped Peter Goodman doubling-down with the nonsense as he strove to defend his decision. I can be scathing of my country, but when you start piling on with the breast-beating as he did, you enter the realms of pathetic self-loathing.

“Speaking quite frankly, Derbyshire Constabulary does not want to be represented by a group made of exclusively men, almost exclusively older men like myself, and exclusively white males because that’s not what kind of organisation we are,” he said.

We all know what he’s trying to say, of course, but implying that your country’s primary population demographic should hate itself for being so is not the way you go about it. More than that, it is dangerous.

There are far-right elements in our land who will outwardly rage at Goodman’s comments, while inwardly feeding off them. They live for the siege mentality – ‘strangers in our own land’, persecuted, marginalised.  His foolish comments feed their foolish thoughts, at a time when we could do without both.

For that, Peter Goodman takes his place in The Enemy Within.

April 1, 2018

Southern ban and the myth of ‘They will never defeat us’

pexels-photo-64057.jpegIt seems draconian to the point of comic. A lifetime ban from British shores for having an ‘unhelpful’ opinion.

Not for extolling violence against people or property, but because the person concerned wasn’t thinking right.

Such was the fate of Canadian activist Lauren Southern, who was inspired by an article suggesting that Jesus was gay, to postulate a similar theory concerning Allah, by way of handing out leaflets to that effect in the English town of Luton, which has a substantial muslim community.

It’s mischief-making, and in one sense I would suggest that Southern might have better things to do with her time. From another angle, however, it is a social experiment that shines an unflattering light on Britain’s claims to both a true democracy and a system of law and order that applies to all, without fear or favour.

There is no call to arms from the Canadian, as she begins to attract an audience. As far as the video evidence shows, no-one in the crowd is put in fear of violence. In a land supposedly all about free speech, Southern simply puts forward a theory. As does Ricky Gervais, seconds into his latest Netflix offering (“[I’m] like Jesus…but better…I’ve actually turned up…”). As did Woolworths with its Woolworths is Christmas ads of 30 years ago. As do the people behind this sartorial insight, happily hosted by Amazon.

While I doubt anyone in those last three examples has lost much sleep over a visit from the police, however, Ms Southern doesn’t get off so lightly, because Ms Southern is asking questions about the ‘wrong’ religion.

The reaction of the police to her Luton adventure is telling. People grow angry at someone’s free speech, and police focus is not on the angry, but on the individual who has made them that way. For all the succour this gives to mob rule, I don’t blame the police here: they are but pawns in a bigger game, and while some of them might also wonder where this supposed bastion of free speech is headed, they have mortgages to pay like the rest of us.

Now Lauren Southern is gone from these shores for good, and if you think that is a good thing, you’re missing the point. What she did was simply designed to highlight a valid question – in a secular society, why does Islamic antipathy towards homosexuality trump the right of gay people to self-expression? The System came after her for her point of view; what if it comes after you for yours?

So much is cack-handed about this episode, from the misplaced focus of the police to the otiose labelling of anyone unimpressed by a popular narrative as ‘far right’ but it is the fear of our elected leaders that shines brightest.

The UK Establishment is terrified of Islam. Any other religion is left to roll with the punches, but Islam must be safeguarded at all costs, because those in power don’t have a stomach for the ruckus that often ensues when it isn’t. Only from the viewpoint of expediency does this resemble a plan.

Viewed any other way, it is at best a sell-out of the very freedoms of which politicians love to boast, at worst a vacuum of dithering inequity that inevitably sucks in genuine far-right factions, to the benefit of no-one.

Either all religions are sacrosanct or all must take their chances in the secular town square, and anyone not happy with that arrangement should Google ’emigrate’. Only when we are all clear on this can politicians and leader-writers alike declare that “They will never defeat us”, whenever jihad strikes the UK.

As things stand, however, the words sound wretchedly hollow. They are defeating us; inch by inch, ban by ban.

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