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Horrible (Future) Histories: The Gory Tories

Right now in Britain we seem to have a myriad of political issues. The big one is, of course, the EU referendum. Much has been written/shouted/detailed in fancy graphics about whether or not we should stay or go and which option is completely definitely going to lead to World War Three (Hint: It’s probably neither). This blog post is not dealing with that referendum. Another big ongoing political scandal is the kerfuffle over the junior doctors’ strike, as human blancmange Jeremy Hunt tries eagerly to work out a deal that will cause hundreds of thousands of overworked doctors to work that little bit more for the good of, err, someone or other. This post is also not really about that.

Rather, this post is going to have a brief look at the proposed Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill that our government wants desperately to push through. In essence, what seems to have happened is that the government’s long-running, not-at-all-disruptive plans to build HS2 have been stalled slightly due to a lack of archaeologists to carry out the necessary surveying and/or excavation work to make sure that people can get to London about 10 minutes earlier without having to permanently destroy thousands of years of Britain’s past. The news broke that there was a shortage of archaeologists, which you know, could be due to the fact that they have low pay and very poor job security. Instead of thinking about all the possible policies that could be implemented to combat this by, for example, giving the sector a bit of extra funding (creating more jobs) or not trying to raise tuition fees yet again and discouraging people from getting qualifications to allow them to become archaeologists (did someone mention jobs?), our beloved Etonian overlords decided to try and push through some legislation that means they don’t need to bother with that troublesome business of protecting heritage or nature or any of the other nuisances that get in the way of hugely expensive propaganda projects.

When the news of a lack of archaeologists broke, some cynical and pessimistic corners of the sector claimed it’d only be a few years before the government tried to just stop archaeology happening at all. Turns out those pessimists were just a tad too optimistic, as it took a bit less time. 3 days. Hmm, really feels like the last resort. But clearly they’re in the right here, as no one cares about old stuff anyway! It’s not like one of the nation’s biggest tourist attractions is filled with archaeological objects. Nope, we’ve filled the British Museum now, we don’t need any more stuff. Or knowledge. Or jobs. Instead we’ll get HS2 slightly earlier, so that all of those out-of-work archaeologists and recent graduates can get to the hub of British commerce a bit quicker. Except for the bit where they have to pay to get on it, that’s less likely to happen.

I really did want to wait until the government responded to the 17,000 signature-strong petition against this bill before writing this, but as there’s no indication as of yet that they’re bothering with it, I thought I’d get cracking. I emplore you to point out to the Tories that some people quite like Britain’s exquisite heritage and don’t particularly want it destroyed without any consideration. The petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/130783.

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The House of Mirrors

All jobs require very different skills. For example, to work in retail you need to be able to smile on cue and finish every sentence with an upwards inflection. To work on a bar you have to have the cheery outlook of a cat living on a catnip farm and to work in politics you have to be able to look slightly less ridiculous than your opponents while trying to complete normal people activities like eating a bacon sandwich, riding on a zipwire and articulating an original thought.

Recently I’ve been driven to madness thinking about politics a lot by a brief and mostly indirect encounter with a particular British politician. I won’t mention his or her (what am I saying? When would a woman get into a position of power in the British government?) identity but let’s just say he’s often pictured as being as happy as Nick Griffin in a Mosque and has the power and influence of Brazil without Neymar. For the purpose of this post we’ll refer to him as Mick. Now, Mick taught me so many things about the workings of politics in this once by nature, but now only by name, Great Britain. He taught me that politics is not, as it once was, about changing things, not for the better, not for the worse. What politics is about is convincing people that they are valued and agreed with by the people in positions of (relative) power. People want to know not only that their representatives share their views but also that they’re down-to-earth, that they’re really no different from anyone else. But the sorry truth seems to be that they see themselves as above everything, and they have to work ever so hard to repress this feeling when they’re slumming it by listening to their ignorant supporters ranting about this and that while they nod their head mumbling ‘mmm’ ‘yes’ or ‘you’re right’.

They wouldn’t dare disagree with vital support, and as a result they end up being little more than reflective surfaces when they’re actually with the underlings of the party, the proles. No progress is made, no ideas are challenged, and thanks to the monstrous ego of the politician, no possibility of their own ideas being altered is entertained, even in the realms of imagination. There’s a theory that there’s a infinite number of parallel universes yet I still can’t fathom one where politicians’ ideas could be impacted by the words of their loyal party grunts. This rejection of taking to heart the concerns of the ordinary people highlights the shift in politics that’s occurred in recent times. Politics isn’t something one gets into in order to change the nation to help the majority but rather a career path where games are played and people are manipulated almost as much as statistics in order to gain votes. Whoever gets the most votes, whether they’ve been completely above board or not, wins the game. It’s chess, with an election clock and plenty of disposable pawns.

Mick tried to come across as caring and understanding when faced with his potential votes but had a remarkable sense of entitlement. I was frankly a little taken aback at that. For someone to have such a blatantly inflated opinion of his own importance after years of being the media’s whipping boy was admirable. Satire has failed us. I shudder to imagine the level of self-worth needed for people to rise to the top of the political toilet.

An issue in a Noble Cause

Sexism is a very current and controversial topic. That’s why in this post I shall proceed with caution. I’d like to start by clarifying that I hate sexism and totally support equality and all that. There are some interesting factors in all of this though. Firstly, the sexism/feminism issue. Sexism is discrimination and prejudice based on gender. That’s bad. Feminism is, according to dictionary.reference.com, “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” That should be an inherently good thing, in theory it totally works. Then again, in theory, communism works. That doctrine probably shouldn’t be called ‘feminism’. It should be something along the lines of ‘Equalitarianism’ really, wanting equal rights for men and women, ‘feminism’ suggests the belief that women should replace men in the areas where men have historically been the dominant sex, politics, manual labour etc. And in terms of jobs, this has improved in recent history.

Then there are things like the Everyday Sexism movement. This movement is designed to raise awareness if the sexism that is, unfortunately almost ingrained in modern society. They have a Twitter account where they Retweet women (and to a lesser extent men)’s tales of encountering sexism in everyday life. Most of the examples include leering/verbal harassment in the street or workplace, often with men shouting obscene and offensive things at them. That’s all wrong and I support them for doing something about it. However, I spotted one retweeted tale where the woman in question was shocked at being turned away from a questionnaire simply for being female. That is not necessarily sexism. The fact of the matter here is that men and women ARE different. There are obviously biological differences, and there are differences in many other aspects too.

Studies, psychological studies in particular, may have to be gender-specific. They might be investigating an issue for which they need either only male or only female participants. Because of that, it is wrong to accuse this particular study if sexism without knowing the full details. The woman who pointed the finger of sexism at this study should be told outright that she was wrong and frankly ignorant to do that. Don’t just assume you know all the details! You don’t! Get off your high horse and think about it for a bloody second. Don’t be a moron, not everything that distinguishes between sexes is sexist. Sometimes NOT differentiating could be sexist. Imagine launching into a rant at a man because he can’t give birth, that’d be like fielding a pebble in a football match and moaning because it was lazy. Getting angry at the guy for something he, as a male, is unable to do would be sexist.

The person/people who run the Twitter account should also consider this. What they’re doing is noble and admirable, but when you allow that sort of thing to masquerade is undeniable sexism, you’re undermining everything else you rightly categorise as unacceptable prejudice.

Apple and the Amazing Technicolour iPhones

Apple have been a company at the forefront of new technology for the past few years, with Steve Jobs seemingly not only the figurehead but also the driving force behind the consistent innovation they’ve come out with. Recently though, I can’t help but feel Apple have lost the plot somewhat. From the face of it you’d never know, they’ve got the same shiny customer image and they word their product descriptions in such a way that would have you believe they’re doing something really special. At the moment though, they’re far from that. Recently there’s been another Apple product announcement to inform the world of their new updated version of the iPhone.

Apple have always held their events in September, not at the same time as other competitors, for example Samsung and HTC. This is obviously a ploy to set them apart from direct competition, and it’s a successful strategy. But if the new product is less than impressive, there are no distractions from it. Take the new iPhones, firstly, the iPhone 5c. With all new technology comes an exciting USP. A reason to buy that one rather than an alternative. What’s the iPhone 5c’s USP? It comes in different colours. That’s pretty much it. Of course Apple don’t want you to realise that that’s it. Go on the Apple site, and you’ll be met with the flowery argument that “Colour is more than just a hue. It expresses a feeling. Makes a statement. Declares an allegiance. Colour reveals your personality.” I hate to hastily dive into floccinaucinihilipilification, but that means absolutely nothing.

First of all, no, colour isn’t ‘more than just a hue’. That’s exactly what colour is. The presence of a hue distinguishes colours such as red and green from black and white, the main distinction between the iPhone 5 and the 5c. As for it expressing a feeling, feelings are quite changeable. Unless it has the colour changing ability of a chameleon, it will almost never express a feeling. You don’t see someone wearing a green jumper and assume they’re envious do you? You wouldn’t do such a thing; you probably possess a modicum of intelligence. Declare an allegiance? Without context, colours don’t signify anything of the sort. Lenin probably would’ve picked a red phone over a white one, but a sales executive talking on a red one probably isn’t a Bolshevik. All this nonsense just emphasises the fact that they haven’t got any worthwhile selling points for this new iPhone and have instead resorted to a strategy as outrageously ridiculous as Derek Acorah’s source of income. Even the section of the Apple website dedicated to this new lump of allegiance-declaring rubbish feels overworked. They’ve added a page orientated scroll with pointless showy animations to impress the easily amused and overly wealthy. Instead of persuading me to shell out £470 it just feels clunky and slow. Less is more, Apple.

This would all be very biased if I didn’t also give my opinion on the 5c’s brother, the 5S. The 5S isn’t entirely based on colour luckily, although they do make a bit too much of an overly-flashy gold edition. No, it’s slightly more focused on specification. The 3 main points seem to be “A chip with 64-bit architecture” (sounds good but won’t mean much to many), “A fingerprint identity sensor” (Not at all necessary, will quickly lose novelty value) and “A better, faster camera” (Good, but the camera was fine already, and anyone with a real interest in photography would buy a dedicated camera). Apparently “Any one of these features in a smartphone would make it ahead of its time”. That’s just a flat-out marketing lie. There’s much more I could write about the new iPhones, especially the 5S, but I don’t want this post to be excessively long. So you can go and make up your own mind about it. Just remember, just because it’s green, doesn’t make it worth 500 pounds. Grass is green too, and you can probably find some of that for slightly less.

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