Incongruity

Exhibit A:

Multi-award-winning Glaswegian Janey Godley has been called ‘the most outspoken female stand-up in Britain’ (Daily Telegraph). The Scotsman blasted: ‘She is not afraid to say the unsayable’.

Last year in the UK, three people were sentenced in one week for being ‘offensive’ – on Twitter, on Facebook and even on a t-shirt. Has this new spirit of censorship gagged our Janey? Not a toss! Her new show is about freedom of speech, freedom of language and freedom of thought.

Exhibit B:

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Just throwing that out there…

AJ

In which Grant Shapps is told to go fuck himself with a cattleprod…

Just who the fuck do these people think they are?

Media preview

Grant Shapps wants to make it culturally unacceptable for me to own my organs and reserve the right not to be harvested after death..

I think what really raised my hackles was the use of the phrase “as unacceptable as drink-driving” in the open line of the above passage (from The Times, hence why I can’t link to it). That line is one that’s so overused by authoritarians and bansturbators that it’s utterly clichéd now.

I first actually came across its use with reference to speeding in the car, over 10 years back.

Now, let’s put aside for one moment the fact that I’m not someone whose head explodes with indignation at the thought of someone drink driving… it is, after all, something that was common practice for 50 years, and I very much doubt that in those 50 years, drink driving killed as many people as NHS negligence and bad practice has done in the last 20.

What if we said that something ‘ought to be as unacceptable as NHS negligence’? Then perhaps I could get on board.

Conversely, what if a whole raft of politicians and their hangers-on remained determinedly in denial about drink-driving?

But all that is an aside.

What is boiling my piss is the very idea that Grant Shapps and his ghastly ilk think it’s okay to ‘nudge’ and shame me into accepting the the state has a right to ‘soft dictate’ what happens to my body – MY BODY, YOU FUCKERS – after my death.

Frankly, when I die, they can suck my cold clammy balls.

I don’t say that lightly. My father would probably have benefitted from a kidney donation, had one been available, what with him being in dialysis for 10 years before he died. But that does not – and I suspect this makes me an oddity in today’s pucker-faced hyper-emotional world – mean I believe for one minute that this entitles me to demand (or assert via emotional blackmail) that people must be on the organ donation register.

It’s simply a matter of personal conscience, and yet another example of a place where the government simply should not be. The pernicious fuckers.

AJ

The antidote to modern orthodoxy

You don’t need me to tell you that much of the media – on line, TV and dead tree – is agonisingly lefty and the illiberal variety of ‘’’liberal’. Whether it’s the BBC, Huffington Post or the Guardian. Hell, I even wonder about the Telegraph sometimes, especially with some of the manifest shite that appears in both the Women and Men sections of the online edition.

Don’t get me started on twitter and what passes for permissible comedy these days.

It’s easy for the open-minded to despair of the way the Anglosphere is going, with such an intense focus on closing down debate and free speech for the sake of people’s every so delicate feelings and the protection of modern articles of faith from interrogation.

It’s a relief, therefore, that there still remain some outlets that take a more enlightened view of things and recognise that there is – for now at least – an audience out there who wants to read about things from a point of view that contradicts the po-faced Islington orthodoxy.

Spiked Online

An old stalwart and long time favourite of mine, going back to days before the concept of a blog even existed is Spiked Online. Ironically this organ was founded by a bunch of old Marxists, key amongst whom were Mick Hume and Brendan O’Neil, who havce since gone on to write thoughtful contrarian opinion pieces for The Times and The Telegraph respectively.

Though Spiked is not right wing – some say it’s a ‘progressive’ website – it has always focused on the erosion of liberty and free speech. And boy do we need that today – indeed more than ever in my lifetime. They’re currently having a major new push on freedom of speech, and it seems more like a cry in the wilderness than I ever remember.

Breitbart

Next up is a relative newcomer. Starting in America in 2007 as a non-partisan, but unapologetically right wing and classically liberal outlet, is Breitbart.com, founded by the now late Andrew  Breitbart. In 2014 they launched a London edition here, with James Delingpole as executive director. I’m not an unalloyed fan of Delingpole, but the man has many good points and it was a shrewd hire.

Amongst other things, Breitbart has covered some of the most egregious feminist & social justice warrior offenses against reason of recent times. This includes the false claims made of a gang rape at University of Virginia, published by a credulous (to put it kindly) Rolling Stone magazine, the wingnut feminists and their outriders in the ‘’#Gamergate saga, and the gross liberties taken by someone called Lena Dunham, whose careless writing implicated an innocent man in a tale of rape.

Of particular entertainment value on Breitbart London are the writings of Delingpole himself, and of genius provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

CapX

Thirdly is a new-comer that shows promise, called CapX – a product of the Centre for Policy Studies, carrying opinion pieces and aggregated news relating to business, economics and ‘popular capitalism’.

I particularly liked this piece – High taxation is no more moral than any other form of taxation

It’s a little bit threadbare so far. but It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops.

Reason

Finally, is one of the old school, Reason.com – an American outlet that’s been around a while. Happily, in America, those on the right have yet to be successfully smothered unlike those in the UK (and Canada, and Australia) – perhaps thanks to the USA’s 1st amendment.

I particularly like the ‘HIt & Run’ blog, which recently highlighted a by-product of today’s censorious miserableness in that comedian Chris Rock – one who is actually funny – has decided not to bother playing to student audiences any more as they are too uptight.

Your turn…

If you know of any other online publications I might enjoy, based on the list above, please leave a comment.

AJ

No smoke without pucker-faced puritan zealots

The last time I wrote about this pernicious new initiative, my opening line was, “I am an inveterate smoker”.

That is no longer true. I gave up three months ago.

But I’m determined not to become an ‘ex-smoker’, giddy with the zeal of the convert.

The day that this insane micromanagement of people’s lives arrives just got rather closer.

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As I said at the time, this doesn’t really affect me personally. Not because I don’t smoke tobacco any more but because I never have anyone under 18 in my car. After all, I’m not an Asian cabbie, in a Labour heartland, am I?

I touched on many of the things that make this law impractical to enforce and in some cases illogical, so I wont rehash those.

What is odd, though, is that the driver of the car will be liable to be fined if a passenger sparks up in a car where there are children. As if the driver of the car hasn’t got more important things to concern themselves with, such as threading their vehicle safely through the fabric of mongs that make up the traffic.

When it comes to seatbelt laws, to take a reasonably analogous example, if an adult passenger fails to belt up, it is that person who is liable to be fined, not the driver. As far as children are concerned, it’s the driver of the car who is liable, unless the driver is not the guardian and the guardian is also in the car.

The reason, by the way, that I’m not going to turn into an ‘ex-smoker’ is that I now use an e-cigarette, and if you read the papers or blogs of Dick Puddlecote or Chris Snowdon, you’ll be well aware that the anti-smokers are now coming after the e-cigarettes, for reasons that can be no more clear than those summed up in the Daily Mash.

So, pucker-faced interfering puritan health Nazis can suck a uranium fuel rod.

AJ

Dubaious

It’s been more than 4 years since I last asked this question:

Dubai. Why would you go there?

It used to be that westerners were under the impression that the UAE was a liberal westernised place, rather than the Islamic state it actually is. The UAE did a good job of fostering this impression itself, but from time to time, the mask slipped, and people who did things considered perfectly normal and legal in Europe fell into the black hole of a middle-eastern legal system.

Well, what I’ve been saying for years now is such a chronic problem that the British Consulate in the UAE is actually tweeting warnings to this effect.

So I’m still left wondering. Just why would you put your life in the hands of a country with such capricious application of draconian – nay medieval – laws?

AJ

Domestic Virulence

Today, it was confirmed that the government plans to amend the law to make “coercive control” and “psychological abuse” in domestic situations explicitly against the law.

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This article, in spite of its inflammatory headline does qualify beneath that it applies to both men and women.

It acknowledges that:

Home Office research has previously shown that 16 per cent of men admit to being victims of domestic abuse during their lifetimes compared with 30 per cent of women.

Indeed this ONS document (pp.1-2) concedes that:

Some 7% of women and 5% of men were estimated to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims.

So it’s annoying that neither this article nor this one mention anywhere in them the fact that men are a significant minority of those abused, or that where women are abused, it is sometimes by another woman (i,e, their lesbian partners.

Indeed as this Guardian article from 2010 states,

Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available. In 2006-07 men made up 43.4% of all those who had suffered partner abuse in the previous year, which rose to 45.5% in 2007-08 but fell to 37.7% in 2008-09.

This is a problem that is all too often ignored. Women routinely fail to acknowledge the truth of this, and it’s hardly surprising when articles like the ones in the Telegraph Women section (linked above) routinely fail to even acknowledge that DV is not simply a problem of male on female violence.

And as far as psychological abuse and manipulation are concerned, there is evidence that this is where women, making use of the tools available to them, come into their own.

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So that’s the background. Now onto the main event.

To attempt to legislate for what goes on in the minds of those in a fractious relationship is fraught with dangers and it has summary injustice written all over it. Every relationship has its nuances, and many relationships that are successful on their own terms are viewed from the outside with horror.

One of my best mates is in a relationship that I just could not bear, and I wonder how he does it, and sometimes, too, I wonder why.

One of my female friends recently got back together with her husband, who from the outside, seems to have been terrible towards her. But how do we know.

We all have different tolerances for different behaviours, and different weaknesses too.

How can any of this possibly be weighed objectively from outside? How can “12 good men and true” – a jury that is in actually likely to be loaded with women in a DV case – honestly remain objective in the face of claims and counterclaims?

And how long before limits are placed on how, and to what degree, an accuser may be cross-examined by the defence? I don’t think this has yet been introduced for rape cases in the UK, but the idea has been floated here in the past, and it has been introduced elsewhere. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before any issue that is considers a women’s issue has similar limitations placed upon defendants ability to get justice. Especially if the likes of Harriet Harman get their hands on the levers of power again next year.

Frankly the whole thing is a disgrace, and Theresa May is a disgrace. Between her and Grayling, more damage will have been done to the cause of blind justice in one term of parliament than anyone could have imagined.

AJ

Driving at Windmills

Being an egalitarian and open minded sort of a chap who is interested in motoring, I follow @FOXYtweets on Twitter, which is a feed giving support and tips to women drivers, provided by the Foxy Lady Drivers club.

This morning, they RTed the folowing:

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Well, this came as news to me so I had a read of the article to find out what the beef was, going via the footer to find out who the author is and what her agenda might be…

Meet Baroness Kingsmill, a non-executive director of various British, European and US boards, at our Inspiring Women event this Thursday 20th November. Fellow speakers include Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green, Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold, Links of London founder Annoushka Ducas and M&S style director Belinda Earl. Check out the programme and book tickets here at 15% off the full price.

Okay.. let’s see what Labour Peer Denise Kingsmill has to say.

The moment of truth arrived when the hood of my beloved Saab stopped halfway down. I had my four-year-old grandson safely strapped in the backseat, who loved to be driven with the roof down whatever the weather. On cold days I would turn up the brilliant heater, designed to cope with serious Swedish winters, wrap a rug around him and drive home. This time, however, it was truly stuck. A friendly father at the nursery school gate helped me push it down but I realised then it was time to put my 25-year-old workhorse out to grass.

It took a few more weeks before I faced the inevitable fact that, Uber not withstanding, I was going to have to buy a new car. I discussed this with friends and family at length. My children thought I should get something sensible with good safety features, low fuel consumption and a hard top. Friends came up with suggestions left, right and centre.

Uh okay.. so you need a new car, and your friends have opinions on what car you should choose? So far so good.

It was astonishing to me that so many had such strong views about cars. The gender differences were as marked as the generational. The consensus fell somewhere between a Prius and a Porsche, and probably reflected their views of me as much as of the cars.

Okay so, your friends, male and female, young and old, all had their own preferences, and were happy to share them with you. So far so egalitarian. Good.

But wait…

As I researched the options, I checked out the car magazines which, in my local news-agent, were displayed on the top shelf alongside the likes of Hustler and Men Only. All offered a similar macho, laddish approach with much emphasis on acceleration, skid performance and turbos. Many still feature so called ‘glamour models’ draped over bonnets and boots. Not much help to be found there.

 

Car Mags or Wank Mags?

So, rather than pick up the staple automotive magazines – the ones with the reputation of being ‘go-to’ publications for anyone in the market for a new car, but wanting the latest market news and ideas – such as What Car, Autocar or Auto Express, which have been around forever and are stocked everywhere, you scanned the top shelf and homed in on the car mag equivalent of Nuts or Loaded?

Why did you eschew the obvious and logical choices?

What made you think these top shelf magazines would contain the answers you sought, whereas middle shelf What Car would not?

Of course ‘scuzzy’ car magazines are on the market. There’s a reason why they’re up there on the top shelf along side other ‘mens magazines’. It’s because mags like Fast Car and Max Power are wank mags bought by sexually inadequate spotty teenagers. No-one – I mean NO ONE – would pick one of those up with a view to choosing a new car. They are at the extreme end of the ‘motoring magazine’ market.

So, in short, I call bullshit. Offense-seeking bullshit. If you want to buy a new car, you get What Car. If you want a wank over a half-naked photoshopped doris clasping an exhaust upgrade, you get Max Power.

Simple, innit.

Car Ads

The anointed Denise then turns her attention to car adverts.

I started noticing the car ads, which also seemed to be promoting a stereotyped brand image that hadn’t changed in 30 years, based on a male fantasy of speed and empty plains – all gleaming metal and thrusting torque. Nothing here that appealed. The acclaimed Audi ad, with its slow pan over a stationary vehicle accompanied by the roar of an engine racing and building to an orgasmic climax of glowing, spitting exhausts, left me cold.

I’m assuming that this refers to the Audi R8 advert. A stationary vehicle, revving its engine? Whatever next? Note that the reason the car is not moving is because if it was, the ASA would have banned the advert. I’m not joking.

Well, Denise, that advert may not be to your taste, but it’s all about the car. I’m guessing that an Audi R8 would not appeal to you even if the advert was all babies and bunnies. But that doesn’t make the advert (or the philosophy behind it) sexist.

Ask singer Amy Macdonald, who has had 3 Audi R8s. She’s definitely a woman, and a woman who has an opinion on cars that she reckons are ‘boy racer cars’, citing the Nissan GTR as one, so she is able to make the distinction.

On we go…

Even when trying to appeal to a female audience they get it so dreadfully wrong, as the weird ‘rapping motherhood’ ad for the Fiat 500 that refers to breast pumps and baby poo illustrates so well. Don’t these guys do any research? Don’t they know who buys their products? Are they really all sexually inadequate fantasists or crazy mums?

They should read the recently published study Women in Cars from consultants Frost & Sullivan to get some deeper insights into the automotive segment and the rapidly growing female purchasing power.

I’m pretty sure they do read those studies.

I’m pretty sure, also, that they read the zeitgeist, which tells them that while making misogynistic car adverts is a no-no with the ASA and also with the buying public, making misandrist adverts that positively revel in depicting men as inadequate, subservient imbeciles is positively de-rigeur.

Oh, sure, this misandrist trend, originating in the USA, may not have inveigled its way into car adverts as comprehensively as it has into other types of TV ads, but it’s getting there.

Is it this lack of misandrist progress what the Baroness is bemoaning?

Now, look, I’m not being all “what about teh menz”. I honestly couldn’t give a toss about adverts depicting men as total morons. God knows there enough proof out there that they’re right, but I just can’t help thinking that a massive straw man is being built here, which can later be burned down at an event called ‘Inspiring Women’, with a cackling Harriet Harman looking on, heating her cauldron on the flames.

Finally…

Car Showrooms

When I actually ventured into the showrooms I was generally treated with courtesy and patience, however, it was rapidly apparent that they were more interested in telling me about the finance packages available than about the cars. Everyone wanted to offer me a deal. In the year to August, more than £11bn of credit was advanced to fund car purchases, accounting for more than 74% of sales. With very high levels of unemployment and weak growth throughout the rest of Europe, the manufacturers are looking to the UK with its consumer tolerance of high levels of personal debt. ‘Treasure Island’ is what they sometimes call the UK market. Desperate to sell cars, they are offering cheap finance through banks and finance houses to inflate sales. How sustainable this may be is questionable. Many customers, too, are using windfalls from refunds from the banks after being missold products as deposits.

Uh.. what? What precisely is the point of this?

There’s no gender difference here. Whether you are male, female or none of the above, car dealers are there to sell you a car. That’s what they’re interested in, and most of them will get down to commercials as soon as they possibly can. In the mainstream car market, they’re selling a commodity and volume is key. Go into a Ferrari or a Bentley dealership if you want the full monte experience of attentive obsequy from the salesman.

Or perhaps there’s a point being brushed upon, about the ‘exploitation’ of gullible and greedy UK consumers by a rapacious car manufacturers. It’s not altogether clear, but there’s a whiff of some sort of ‘it’s not fair, big bad capitalists blah blah’ in that paragraph. Which is interesting coming from someone who is “a non-executive director of various British, European and US boards.”

Sex doesn’t sell cars to women… except when it does.

The Baroness concludes her piece by telling us the outcome.

I eventually made my choice after test driving half a dozen models. It’s a big beast, beautiful and bronze. More Italian elegance than Scandi sturdiness.

So.. umm.. you bought something that is big, beautiful, elegant and stylish? You’re saying that after all of the above… and forgive me if I have the wrong end of the stick here… that even to you, “Sex Sells”?

AJ

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