Thursday, July 01, 2010

Versus

This is weird... most of the following has already been written; however my wonderfully ancient computer finally died on me yesterday, leaving a huge PC sized hole in my life.

I hope to have a new PC by Friday night, but it will be a while before I'm up to scratch with that, or before I can get my spare hard drive out of my dead PC and installed in the new one.

I needed this like a hole in the head. Thank the gods that libraries have computers and that I'm working in one this morning!

Normal service will probably be resumed long before you realise I'm gone.

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There is an amusing column in the Guardian's weekend The Guide section; it's about overheard conversations. I think the following tops that by a country mile...

I was working (at one of the pensioner events my work project does) and two elderly women were talking about mobile phones and modern technology, more to each other than anyone else and to be fair I was only paying half of my attention to them. Then I heard the following that sort of caught my attention:
"My mother used to say electricity is the root of all evil. That Belsen has a lot to answer for."
"Belsen? Are you sure it was Belsen who invented electricity. I thought that was a concentration camp?"
"No, it was Belsen, they just named the camp after him because they tortured the Jews with electricity." Her friend looked puzzled.
"I thought Edison invented electricity," she said looking pretty sure of herself.
"No, he invented the lighthouse."

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I remember writing a blog entry about 5 years ago on one of my deceased blogs; it was essentially a question that was asked me by one of the young people I was working with. It was 'Why do we pay so much tax'?

During a very interesting discussion with some of the young people I work with, one of them really highlighted the gulf between politics and young people. This particular young person missed out on voting by 12 days and felt frustration about that rather than the usual ambivalence I see from most of the young, almost voting age, people I meet. He took the question I was asked nearly 5 years ago and turned it on its head.
"Tax is so unfair. Why should we have to pay for the mistakes made by people we had no say in electing?" He asked me. I mentioned that while he was not working, arguably people were paying for him, but he's a little cleverer than that. "When I get a job, I'll have to pay single person's tax. I'll also have to pay Council Tax, as someone under 18, I'm still forced to pay VAT and all that is is theft. Taxing people to be able to live. It's appalling!" I was gobsmacked; I didn't think that proto-socialists were still being born.

The thing is, he's right. Isn't always the supposedly naive that make obvious things more focused? 600,000 people will join the dole queues in the next few years - I might possibly be one of those people - and yet, those 600,000 people will still have to pay for the country's inability to elect people to run it without dumping loads of extra debt on us. Living in the UK is a bit like taking a second mortgage out; in fact, if things get as bad as some are forecasting, then we might all have to take second mortgages out just to live!

Tax isn't just income tax, VAT (remember it stands for Value Added Tax, whatever that means), and council tax; we have all manner of other little things that essentially boil down as indirect taxes. We have to pay to park in the towns we work in; not only do we contribute to the commerce and employment of a town, we have to pay to be able to do it. If we travel to work, we're either paying extortionate fees for public transport or we're paying masses of fuel tax on petrol or diesel. When we're not paying VAT on things that probably have little or no value, we're paying duty on tobacco and booze. If we fall into debt we're penalised even further, by banks, utility companies and bureaucrats. We have to pay a licence to watch the television; we have to pay taxes if we want to leave the country; we have to pay them if we die.

When you sit down and look at everything, it's just depressing. We live to repay all the people we entrust who repeatedly fail to deliver what even a small majority of us want.

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Was listening to Nicky Campbell this morning on 5Live and the subject of fox-hunting reared it's ugly and bloodstained head again. This woman from Gloucestershire, who sounded like she possibly gave the Queen elocution lessons said, "people in the city don't understand the hell country folk have to go through. Foxes are a blight to the farming community, they kill senselessly, not for food, just for pleasure and hunting them is the only guaranteed way of eradicating this menace."
So, there isn't a viable alternative to killing foxes other than chasing a single one - not necessarily the perpetrator of all these heinous crimes against new born lambs - through peoples lands and without much care for the environment or the people using it; so that a pack of dogs can rip it to shreds and then allow the elders of the hunt to smear blood on the faces of virgin hunters? Puh-lease.
I so wanted to call and say with the proliferation of urban foxes, perhaps gangs of urban unemployed can train their Staffies, hot wire some cars and chase these rapscallions through the streets of major cities, totally exempt from prosecution, because they're doing the country a service. I'm sure Campbell would have laughed...

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(Now)
I've been making lists of things I'm either going to forget of things I want to remember when I get the new PC. So at least I won't forget anything important. One of the things I wrote on my pad last night was the words 'pubic hair in the 70s' and I've just got five minutes to tell you about it!

Bored out of my mind, last night, I decided to watch Carrie, the 1976 film based on the Stephen King novel and directed by Brian DePalma and starring, amongst others, Sissy Spacek. This film is memorable for the, at the time, fantastic closing scene, one which had cinema goers in the 70s howling like scared kids. 35 years later, that scene isn't anywhere near as effective, despite knowing it was coming. That was the thing that most people remembered about Carrie, that scene, the pigs blood scene and the opening shower sequence.

As a 14 year old pubescent sex balloon, the film's opening sequence probably put far too much lead in my pencil for a teenager sitting in a cinema. It is laden with naked girls romping round a school changing room. I think it was probably the first time in my life I'd seen moving pubic hair on a screen and the images stayed with me for years. So when I decided last night to rewatch the film, I was absolutely staggered and horrified by the amount of pubic hair on display. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pubic hair, I have some myself; but some of these girls on display looked like they had shaggy dogs hanging from their naughty bits. Now I know pubic topiary is something of a modern phenomena, but did anyone seriously find this kind of thing sexy? Apart from those weird freaks that like hirsute women...

Anyhow, more when I finally get back into the 21st century!

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