Electile Dysfunction – That’s Democracy Folks!

thatdemocracyfolks

I weighed up the options this evening, I really did.

I umm’d and aah’d over what the best decision was and I’m not convinced I made the right choice.

What to do on the night of what is possibly the most pivotal General Election that I have seen to date.

I could have spent the evening playing a few therapeutic rounds of Starcraft/Starcraft 2, wiping hordes of AI led foes from a digital map with the brutal might if Protoss supremacy.

I could have stuck to a strong yet stable alternative and just sat catching up on Youtubeflix-Prime or something.

I could have indulged in a random act of caring and spent the evening looking after one of my cats, who has damaged his paw and is batting his paw dressing against any hard surface as a means of attention (I’ve recently adopted a stray, against all better advice and so am dictated to by a feline triumvirate of power).

Instead I chose the many over the few and decided to write about politics, even though this isn’t intended as a political blog.

As I write this, the polls have just closed and the temptation to phone my boss and request some leeway in tomorrow’s employment attendance is strong.  I have never stayed up to watch the results come in after a General Election and waking up a year ago to the Brexit result with my 6am alarm clock was genuinely like living some kind of Kafka-cross-Cronenberg nightmare.

I’m pretty sure I’m over my obsessive-lover’s addiction with politics, I truly learnt my lesson last year.  What will be will be and my single voice is unlikely to be heard within this countries half-arsed attempt at democracy.

I am aching to find out how things turn out though.

I also have something of a confession to make… several if I think about it.

Firstly, I didn’t really choose one thing earlier, that was just a cheap allusion to the earlier choice I made in my local polling station – and even that decision was made several days ago.

I’ve broken off writing this post at several points to care for my ailing kitty (Muggle J. Fluffmonster for those in the know); I’ve even spent time with my old girl, Minty J. Blige and even the new guest, “Drifter”.

I’ve procrastinated writing this to catalogue spare swapsies in my Sainsbury’s Lego Card collection and I always Youtube whilst writing these things… so the only thing I’m missing out on is Starcraft – and a good Gin and Slimline always fills in for Starcraft.

Secondly, I’ve committed adultery of sorts – politically speaking that is; this is what is weighing on my mind I think.

Earlier today I was challenged with a question from a work colleague (a work colleague who I am diametrically opposed to both politically and ethically but that’s not important right now).

I can predict the future, can you?

The answer to that question is unlikely to please my grounded atheist or science focused readers… Yes, I believe there are means by which I can.

My colleague proposed that by the time this is posted (I’m planning on scheduling for a 7 or 8 am release on the 9th of June 2017 – it is currently half past 10pm on election night) we would see a 65 seat lead for the Conservative party and that the Liberal Democrats (my preferred party) would be a single seat up.

Another colleague predicted a hung parliament.

I was asked by other colleagues to perform a rare Tarot reading to predict the outcome – I’d like to class that as my 3rd confession but I’d like to discuss it now to further procrastinate the discussion of my political infidelity – it’s kind of relevant to that story anyway.

I have a number of Tarot decks at home but don’t usually allow that part of my life to mingle with work life.  I’m a sucker for a good solid Rider Waite deck using a strong and stable Celtic Cross in readings – it’s the way I learnt.

I also have a beautiful Haitian deck, based on Rider Waite, that I’m still experimenting with; the only remotely occult trapping I have at work is a marble pyramid that I use for grounding – like an esoteric lightning rod.

So I often rely on Facade.com to perform readings when caught without a deck.  It’s easy to read when the interpretations are fed to you the way the site does and you can randomise the layout and deck used – additional factors of randomisation are pretty handy in divination (I’m sure papers have been written about this somewhere).

Under some small pressure, I performed a quick reading on the question “Who will win the current General Election?” and did my best to interpret the results.

In brief the Tarot was adamant that the results would be balanced – hung of you like – but with a weighting towards the current opposition.

Whether that means hung with a coalesced opposition or hung with a Labour opposition, I don’t know BUT the other thing the digitally represented cards told me was that this would only be possible with a degree of political infidelity!

And that’s why I stuck to the decision I made days ago, betrayed my party of choice and for the first time in my life voted Labour.

There, I said it… I voted Labour… the Red Peril – the Opposition.

And here we come to the crux of why I feel the need to get this off my chest and onto the interwebs – I feel that I’ve betrayed my party of choice.

But here’s the thing, I feel I’m justified.  So much so, I may well send this post to my local candidate for his consideration.

After Brexit, I rejoined the Liberal Democrats – I was one of those foolish members who left after the 2015 General Election and the previous “coalition”.

I’m ashamed to say that I fell for press spin and fell out with Nick Clegg during the coalition; only after the fact realising the monumental success that man made of a bad situation.

Nick Clegg made a sow’s purse out of pig’s ear – far more productive and decent than his colleague David Hameron allegedly did.

20170608_230554I rejoined the Liberal Democrats as they are STILL the one party that best represents my interests.  Those policies I disagree with appear to be shifting (I don’t want my Defence working friends to lose their work and am paranoic enough to think we still need nukes) and I’m on an activist upswing – I WANT to make change and the Liberal Democrats are a oarty I can get on board with…

Just a few issues though: The leader, the defeatism and the begging.

I don’t like getting all Ad Hominem but Tim Farron just doesn’t hit my leadership button. He’s presentable and argues a good argument but there’s something about him that I just can’t quite put my finger on.

The good thing is, I vote on policies not personalities and so I got over that pretty much the day after he became party leader.

The defeatism is harder to get over.

ld1Earlier this year Tim Farron emailed the membership to let us know that he had chosen a direction and goal for the party… we were to become the new opposition!

Finally a great goal, albeit the replacing of the Conservatives being secondary to being the opposition but still… a good goal.

This was reinforced with a statement that we would not – under any circumstances – get into bed with any other party in a new coalition (a mistake if you ask me but there you go – strong and stable decision making from the party  leader).

Once the campaigning was under way I even saw emails related to my local candidate, a chap who had already done sterling work in my area as a Councillor.

Shortly after this though other emails started to come through; emails requesting that I abandon my own constituency to assist key seats.

ld3

In effect the party was hanging my own candidate out to dry and poaching me to work on other areas that were “close to me”. Close in a “Londoners Patronising the North” sense – Cheadle, North Leeds and Sheffield Hallam obviously being just next door to us Colne Valley yokels.

The torrent if pressure to abandon my local area as “lost” and move my efforts to “winnable” areas didn’t let up and every single email drove a wedge between me and the party.

The party was right, the chances of my candidate winning compared to the strong (and stable) Tory incumbent or the “Who’s that you say?” Labour option were slim but I felt the Liberal Democrats had hung us out to dry as a constituency.

Even that would have been tolerable.

jb1I’m used to being the underdog; it’s when I’m at my strongest.

Huddersfield’s football team aren’t called the Terriers without reason; us Huddersfuddlians are the kind who fight hardest when the odds are stacked against us.

But the party sold us out – they effectively told me what I’ve always feared, that my vote is irrelevant in my constituency.

Add to this the news that pretty soon my ward (Lindley) is one of those being shifted to a new constituency so as to reduce the number of MPs (or something).  My ward is eventually going to move into the Labour safe seat of Huddersfield – and I mean “Safe” in a “Liberal Democrats ain’t ever winning here” kind of way not a “Starcraft family catch-all term” one.

And then… then… the begging started.

Daily, sometimes multiple time s a day “The other parties have big sponsors… please give us £25” – Shit The Fucking Bed!

I barely have £25 spare to fix the cat let alone pay for Facebook adverts or leaflets to campaign for the Liberal Democrats – Age. Of. Austerity people… sheesh.

I’m not a public sector worker who gets a regular – albeit measly – annual pay rise based on inflation.  My expendable income drops every year – regardless of which set of puppets are in power.  Seriously, Red, Blue or Yellow makes no difference to my “middle-income” ass.

Even with a pay rise, I doubt I could justify spending money on the funds expected of the membership, shit son!

So yes, by polling day itself I was pretty set on a “Save the NHS at all costs” course of action and that meant betraying my party of choice and voting for a woman that lives round the corner from the house I grew up in.

I woman I know nothing about.

A woman who couldn’t even be bothered to put my council ward on her campaign leaflet’s map.

A woman who I doubt will stand up for one single local issue that I give a damn about.

But a woman who’s position as my MP may mean that I continue to enjoy NHS treatments that are free at the point of use.  A woman, who’s potential success may mean that my best friend doesn’t die from lack of treatment, a lack of funding or his own hands.  A woman who is soon going to be familiar with my name if she gets into power… I voted for her and if she wins she’d better represent my interests!

That’s all assuming the tinfoil hats aren’t correct and the outcome was already decided by Vladimir Putin and Cambridge Analytica months before we went to poll.

Oh… and we wouldn’t have these issues if we embraced proportional representation and at least UKIP didn’t stand in my constituency… small mercies eh?

I guess I’ll have to make it up to the party somehow; I’m still a Liberal Democrat at heart. That being said, if it all goes Pete Tong I’m fairly sure I’ll stand for election myself next time… as an independent or a Loony, maybe even as a Liberal.

Ten past midnight, I’m off to bed… if my Tarot reading was right, yay… otherwise… Vive La Revolution and so long Human Rights.

Peace out!

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The End of Free Will?

winningI suppose I was kidding myself in thinking I could get away without writing about politics this year.

Last year’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union broke me.

I recovered relatively quickly by sticking to my personal philosophy and not dwelling on negativity; a part of doing that has happily led to me distancing myself from an emotional involvement in politics.

I’ve tried to force myself to be ignorant of the broken democracy that the rest of my world appears to be addicted to.

Thankfully this particular post is not loaded with personal politics; this post is more of a warning to the incurious.

TL:DR – There is evidence that big money is using NLP style techniques to control modern-day western politics.  I provide links to relevant stories and so forth.

Continue reading

Flicking the Switch

dodontswitchSince my recent birthday I’ve found my mind dwelling on more serious subjects than I’m used to discussing.

I’m not saying I’ve grown up and become all adult-like, I’m not sure that’s a realistic possibility at this late stage in development.

I do seem to find myself wallowing on subjects that are more suited to the kind of battlefields populated by Social Justice Warriors and Ley-Heroes.

These subjects are triggered by my proximity to toxic environments and escalated by an overactive care-gland.

Homophobia, Misogyny, Racism…

BenQuixote

Ben Quixote – Equal of Heaven

None of these things affect me directly but they seem to spike a massive negative emotional response in my betazoid-center.

 

I encounter this kind of prejudice on a daily basis (to a greater or lesser degree), almost always it’s aimed at others but it riles me none-the-less.

Every time I face this kind of idiocy, the quixotic Hannuman inside of me rises and I face a primal choice:

Fight or Flight?

I’ve lost count of the number of battles I’ve lost but every now and then I win and the world within my reality tunnel gets that little bit lighter.

It’s not the losses that I’ve fought that weigh me down though; not every battle can be fought.

A friend recently posted that she had faced this kind of harassment in her workplace.

My friend’s boss had remarked upon his right to ogle the female form (ergo her own – specifically the breasticular area).

All my friend could do was rebuke the statement and attempt to put this man in his place.

The problem is, this man is in a position of power – he pays the wages, hires, fires and feels he can ogle away… and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

I’ve seen it many times, a bigoted individual in a position of power lording over their underlings.

Whether it’s the lady manager who insists on forcing male staff members to watch as she injects insulin into her upper-inner thigh or the company Director who makes comments over the quality of an employee’s sister’s breasts over a team meal; this behaviour is wrong but unbeatable.

In all these cases the offended party is either under the minimum two year employment period that it takes to actually have employment rights in this country or they do not have the support structure in their lives to make fighting the battle worth the effort.

In the case of my friend and her tit-happy employer, I was pleased to see the support her friends and acquaintances gave to her.

Many folk offered suggestions of comedic or even violent responses – not helpful directly but sometimes you need this kind of feedback to help pull you out of the pit that this kind of encounter can knock you into.

fuckswitch_fusebox

And then somebody asked her a question, the answer to which made me stop and think, to paraphrase:

How do you work there without throwing someone from a window?

The answer my friend gave really struck home:

I have a little Give a Fuck switch in my brain which goes from “Do” to “Don’t”, and a proven response time in flicking it.

I know exactly what she means… I have the very same switch.

I’m fairly confident that without that switch I’d either be in prison, hospital or worse.

What strikes me me harder is that since reading that exchange I have encountered a number of other people, from different social circles, that have used the very same analogy.

We have that one switch in common that allows us to turn off, tune out and move on.

The difference lies in how quickly we flick the switch.

fucksgivenMany years ago I realised that my own problem is that I care too much.

I’ve had a couple of psychological evaluations over the years that have highlighted a deeply ingrained need to help others and an over reliance on stressful and often negative or toxic environments.

I think I recently developed some kind of “Givafuk Switch” to help me handle those aspects of my personality and I just haven’t noticed until reading the horrors of my friend’s working environment earlier this week.

The switch helps us survive.

It keeps us in a position where we can continue to accrue survival tokens whilst we regroup and plan a strategy to win the war.

The switch helps us choose the battles we fight, so we can pick the fights we know we can win and not waste energy on those battles that are clearly unwinnable.

I discussed this at length today, with friends and colleagues and the only sensible counterpoint made was regarding those that come after us.

The switch is great for those of us on the front line now but what about those that face the same foe later on.

We’ve avoided a fight by flipping the switch and retreating but the foe is under the misapprehension that they have won a battle that never happened.

The deluded foe could go onto the next victim and there is nothing to stop the situation escalating to a greater degree of harassment – we could even be that next victim.

So the switch can be a double edged sword – a sword that my inner Monkey King is willing to wield and one that I am glad to see in the hands of other people of worth.

As it is I’m going to continue to pick my battles and rely on a newfound switch-based psychopathy to avoid the problems that giving a damn brings with it and fight another day.

Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.

Electile Dysfunction

OpophisAs I write this, the 2012 US Election is a sure win for Obama.

With only Florida to declare in their crazy colonial electoral system, Lewis Hamilton-o-like change-monger, Barack Obama looks set to sit a second term in the oval office.

Not that I care.

Actually, that’s unfair… I do care; as a world super power, whoever controls the United States has a massive impact on the world’s politics and economy.  And I’m glad that Obama got in again,the other guy scared the cheeses out of me.

The problem is that I feel almost pressured into caring.

The UK media covers no other country’s elections with the same vigour, fervour and ubiquity as its own (General Election) and those for the United States (Presidency and Candidacy).

Even our own regional elections receive less coverage.

To reinforce that statement, the United Kingdom goes to the polls again this month and I am so ill informed that I am not sure I can place a vote.

Don’t get me wrong, I will vote but I am going to have to put in a lot of effort to find out about my local candidates.

I have this problem every May, when the time comes to vote in the local elections.

Little or no information is shared by the local parties and local media do little to pass on information regarding candidates.

I am possibly being a little unfair, there may be coverage during the day whilst I am at work but local news, papers and radio do little to inform me of the choices available to me.

On November 15th 2012 the United KLingdom goes to the polls to decide who will sit as their regional Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

This may seem trivial to some but actually it is quite important; it is very rare that we – the people – are given opportunity to have an opinion in this way and so I for one will be glad to cast a vote on the matter.

But who for?

The press are full of hype (actually they mention it as a foot note to something else, like the US Presidential Elections) over the forthcoming Elections for Police and Crime Commissioners, but they don’t give me any more details than that.

West Yorkshire‘s TV news outlets (Look North and Calendar) go into great detail about the candidates for the East Riding and Hull.

My partner tells me that there was even a labour candidate for West Yorkshire on the radio yesterday.

So my only recourse is to gather the information myself.

There is a website that tells us all about the candidates in our area: Choose My NCC.

My own region has four candidates standing, three men and a lady.

Mark Burns-Williamson appears to have done a similar job before.

Geraldine Carter is a Counsillor for Calderdale Council who has sat on Police boards before.

Cedric Christie is an independent candidate with slightly conservative views on policing (and defence of the home).

And finally, Andrew Marchington has worked with people in a similar field but in my personal opinion seems the weaker candidate.

I have no idea on their policies or selling points other than what I have just read on that website – short of emailing them and receiving pre-planned rhetoric I don’t think I’ll have any more than that to go on Next Thursday when I cast my vote.

Don’t Let the Glassdoor Hit You…etc.

I’m inspired to vent a my rage, albeit briefly.

Maybe I’m inspired to give in to rage by a recent viewing of Avengers Assemble (“Mewling Quim“? Really Mr. Whedon, you spoil us) but I am now onto my fourth attempt at ridding myself of the plague that is Glassdoor.com.

Several months ago, a few of my facebook contacts sent me invitations to join this seemingly innocuous corporate social networking site. Sort of a start-up LinkedIn where the idea is to find out “Insider Info” on potential employers or business partners.

I followed the links and instantly took a dislike to the site.

Glassdoor.com was obviously only interested in my tipping my hat to the inside secrets of my employer.

Now anybody who knows me will know who retentitively obsessive I am about loyalty to my career – the concepts of “insider secrets” or “corporate espionage” are an anathema to me.

So I removed myself from the site and had nothing more to do with it.

Which is more than I can say for Glassdoor.com.

I now receive semi-regular spam from them.

The first few times I received them I just deleted them, like I do normal junk mail.

After a while I became annoyed enough to click the link in the email that says unsubscribe (go on, click it, it changes nothing).

Still I receive the mail and I have now attempted unsubscription four times… four times!

Each time I receive the same polite message:

You’re all set – you won’t receive any more emails from us.

But each time this is proven to be a lie by the subsequent nonsense email sent from them.

Gah! Glassdoor? Assdoor more like.  They may as well re-brand as LockedIn.

Rage over.

A Third Of The Way To Eleventy One

Ragey RageyIt’s a whole leap year since my last birthday; a hellish day that was, fraught with technical failures and very nearly broke me.

I’m now a third of the way to my Eleventy First birthday, which is fine for Hobbits but it’ll likely be a struggle for me.

A year on and everything seems to have changed… and yet stayed almost the same.

My employer has moved to new, more comfortable, premises but has chosen to appoint a senior manager as a buffer between my peers on the management team and the board.

I’ve learned to handle the stress in my own way and avoid the standard methods (as these led to the problems I encountered last year); and more importantly I’ve learned where my real priorities lie.

At home, heavy machinery has moved in to start cutting away at the beautiful environment around me; with the threat of a data centre still looming across the road.

It’s been something of a sad year in parts, with many friends losing loved ones and my own Great Uncle, Derek Barber, conducting his final research into the physical existence of the soul.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom though.

WarholI’ve run three LRP events in the last year, a banquet and two campaign events in the Lorien Trust game world.  All three were successes in their own ways and should be a good foundation for  events in the coming year.

I’ve also finally got round to reading Alan Moore’s Promethea series and, this month, started Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (2 books in, I can’t believe I’ve never bothered before now).

Meanwhile, the national press continue to gloss over the steady decline of the United Kingdom’s economy by focusing on the Olympic Games; whilst armchair eschatologists like me sit back and ponder what manner of change 21/12/2012 will bring.

Whether you believe the mayans were onto something or they just ran out of room, the coming year does feel like a year of change…

Don’t let them immanentize the eschaton.