Saturday, 20 September 2014

Poverty p0rn

Stumbling and Mumbling is a brilliant blog I rarely read without coming away thinking about stuff. I was less sure about this bit though:

"(P)icture the 1930s depression. If you're like me, your visual images come from Steinbeck and Orwell, and the aural ones from Woody Guthrie and the Carter Family. Picture the 1980s recession, and we (I?) recall the Specials, Brookside and Boys from the Blackstuff. Now picture the recent Great Recession. What do you see? What do you hear? Nothing. Culturally, the recent recession didn't happen."

The images cited illustrate how history acts as a filter. Give or take "Broocckie", as time passes the mediocre and the average tend to be forgotten as those who write the past unavoidably impose their own current perspective and standards. But, that's by the by because the emergence of poverty porn (Benefits Street, the Scheme etc.,)  has already given us images of the recent recession, just ones characterised more by their gawping vindictiveness than the powerful notions of empathy we - like to think we can - see in the past.

That bastard verdict

Cycling to work yesterday the air actually felt tangible. I knew the result, had done for hours, and clearly everyone else did as well. This shared knowledge of what wasn’t going to happen had somehow generated a quiet and reflective calm, an atmosphere only broken by the rush hour traffic at the very centre of the city.

Before then, therre was time on my commute to reflect upon what it now means to be Scottish now that Scotland has chosen to be fear-mongered into mediocrity. Except, I realised I don’t actually know what being Scottish is anymore, what had been a national identity I’d worn with pride now felt dirty and tainted. 

So if I’m not Scottish, it seems I’m obliged to be resolutely British; no great national adventure for me, rather it’s the Royal family, penalising the poor, the sick and the disabled and endlessly worrying about immigration, the EU and house prices. Rule-fucking-Brittania.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Scottish Independence - and class (and hierarchy)

Like you, lots of the chat at my work these days is about independence. What's noticeable about this is the little divides that have emerged; as you ascend the corporate hierarchy in terms of who is saying what and how senior they are you notice how the younger and/or more junior the folks are the more likely they are to be pro-independence ("Yessers" even).

This stands to reason. A Yes vote is about dramatically changing the status quo, upsetting apple carts left right and centre (and is all the better for that fact). By contrast the more senior people actually quite like the status quo. Where I am the status quo is what pays for the company car (a 5 series BMW being the one to get at the mo, Audi's being so terribly passe), the 2 weeks with the family in Florida and yet another giant telly.

All these terribly, terribly competent folks basically want the referendum to go away because, well just because really, They've invested their skills, their values, their sense of self and a whole lot of free over time in things continuing exactly as they are. And - goddammit - they've done rather well as a result.

To which I say fuck them, fuck them hard into a cocked hat because a lot of the terribly, terribly, sensible and competent people currently saying no to Scottish independence where the same ones, certainly where I've worked, who said yes please to the fuck nuggets who did their best to blow up the UK economy in the credit crunch.

All these folks, (especially the ones that end words with the "bzzzsshzzz" Jack Docherty used to take the piss out of in Absolutely)  have no credibility let alone any great insight, what they do have is a big mortgage, school fees and a lifestyle they believe they deserve regardless of what such mealy mouthed, fiver grasping shite means for everyone else. Fuck 'em.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Scottish Independence - Banks moving to London is more silver lining than cloud

The chat about all the banks moving to London if Scotland says YES is incredible if by incredible you mean an obviously orchestrated political stitch up reliant on folks not knowing the real deal.

The first thing is to be clear what we're actually talking about here which is this - NO it is not a change in where any bank is headquartered, rather it's a change in where a company is registered. That's it, nothing more.

Fer instance, RBS can de-register from Edinburgh, re-register in London and ....... KABLAM, it's still run out of Fred's folly right beside Edinburgh airport (similarly all those investment companies registered in the Cayman Islands are actually run out of London, TopShop from Monaco etc.,).

And this is a good thing; right now banks are getting super aggressive about cost cutting, like well beyond the point of reason in an oh feck, my laptop isn't working and I can't do my actual job, kind of way. So when you take into account the fact that the cost of being based if not registered in Scotland (cheap labour, cheap offices) vs London you know any bank saying it's moving all it's head office staff darn Sarth would get shot down by its shareholders pronto.

And aside from the bank relocation chat basically being about a legal shoogle, there's also the big benefits to consider. Like here's Paul Krugman getting it surprisingly wrong about the status of Scottish banking if the vote is YES:

"We are told, for example, that Scotland need not worry because its fiscal position is relatively strong. But that was true — or appeared to be true — of Spain and Ireland before the euro crisis. What we’ve learned, alas, is that a seemingly strong fiscal position can evaporate very fast in a crisis — especially if banks need to be bailed out. In that context, it’s interesting to note that Scotland’s banks are very big relative to the size of the country, because they serve much of the UK. Nothing wrong with that as long as you have a political union; but without, what’s to prevent an Irish-type situation in which a small country is trying to bail out big banks? "

What's to stop it? They're all registered in London of course meaning a fiscal union would work hunky dory (or at least be less of an issue than it might otherwise be exactly because of the orchestrated banks moving all their brass plaques darn Sarth simultaneously chat) because the threat of a too big to fail bank failing would be England's problem not Scotland's.

But, setting aside the ignorance and the bollocks an awfy interesting person made some lovely points to me today; the referendum has got all of Scotland interested in its politics and the vote will see voting actually matter for a change.

That aside, the UK is run by and for London and the South East of England, an independent Scotland wouldn't be. How to vote on Thursday really isn't rocket science

Vapid Pt II *

So that's 13 or 14 weeks now of vaping instead of smoking. Nice. And during that time the World Health Organisation has come out with some vacuous shit about the "perils" of e-cigarettes subsequently kicked in the chops by an actual study issued by University College London. But, that's by the by because reflecting on my own experience as an actual and current non-smoker its the whole re-normalization of smoking tosh the Welsh BMI is trotting out to justify banning smoking in public places that gets me.

By this they appear to mean e-cigarettes act as a gateway to the real thing, an argument we already know, love and laugh at in relation to hash and heroin. I say laugh because only a non-smoker could take such bollocks seriously. Here's why:

Its a joke because smoking is disgusting, like really disgusting. When you start smoking you have to persevere and I do mean persevere; to begin with you turn green, you go light headed, it burns your throat, you cough, you gag, it stinks, jezuz christ it's expensive, it stinks, you feel sick, it really stinks, you cough some more.

Time passes, days become weeks become months until eventually you can take a proper draw of a fag, a French inhale even, without retching. Finally, you think you look THAT cool and can smoke without retching (my "thang" was to play guitar with a fag hanging out the side of my mouth).

E-cigarettes avoid all that bollocks; for over 3 months now I've been getting my nicotine fix without smelling, retching, gagging, coughing, turning green or setting tenners on fire every day. In fact I only actually associate with smokers because the dumb fuck anti-smoking lobby has forced me to hang out with them down at smokers' corner!

And in our no pain all gain consumer society it's difficult to see why anyone other than the dumbest of fucks would swap a relatively painless and cheap electronic simulation for the real deal. And anyway, anyone that dumb is going to do dumb shit regardless.

As for the WHO shite about how the efficacy of e-cigs hasn't been proven, well I don't actually know anyone whose tried a proper e-cig alternative and then reverted to the real thing meaning they really do work, and that's despite the anti-smoking lobby's best efforts.

* Yes electronic hookahs do look like a sonic screwdriver, which is kinda cool / appealing to kids. But no one in the anti-smoking lobby has made that argument yet, so feck 'em.

Jan 15  - a 6 month's not a single fag PS; so that's my dentist now explained to me all teh mouth medical benefits of using an e-cigarette instead of the real deal. And I still have to go outside for a puff (actually I don;t, they are pretty much odourless so I can sneak a sly puff in an empty office at work