I am now rather puzzled about TTIP. As I wrote here a few days ago, I thought that the reason why so many sensible, thinking people voted to leave the EU was because it was heading for TTIP, a barbaric trade agreement which would give private companies precedence over state organisations like the NHS. On those grounds
I’d agree we needed to leave. Yet according to this turd of an article in the Torygraph (don’t worry, I haven’t started reading that rag – I just found a link on facebook) the EU is anti-TTIP, anti free-trade. It sings the virtues of TTIP and relishes the fact that the door is now open to it. That would imply that my original position was correct: the EU was protecting us from this abhorrent deal, which was one of the reasons we needed to stay in. Now we’ve left, the capitalist greed-mongers will be free to take over our public services and turn society into the unequal, unfair dystopia people who read the torygraph dream of.
I’m considering changing my blogging style, just for a while. I realise that none of my entries have been very long, only occasionally going over a thousand words (this one, for instance), but I try to write a hundred words or more. For variety’s sake, I now want to experiment with shorter, more frequent entries of only a sentence or two, perhaps with a theme or themes linking them. I think it could liven things up on here a bit. That, after all, seems to be the way things are going on the web. Of course, no doubt a longer entry will sometimes be necessary, but I just want to see how this more abrupt style pans out.
Spot on again, I think I’ll direct you to this blog entry from my friend Chris. It concerns the Rio Paralympics, and the infamous recent airbrushing of photos of actors to make them look disabled. Chris notes that things don’t seem to be going very well, and I must agree. Frankly as a disabled person, I find it pretty insulting that the Brazilians have done this. There must be loads of models with disabilities in Brazil they could have used. It is akin to sticking a bunch of able-bodied musicians in wheelchairs and calling it a paraorchestra. I’d hoped that, after London, things like this would be a thing of the past – obviously not.
I’m under no illusion how big my blog is. I know that, apart from a few random websurfers, my readership is probably just my family, and a few friends who I’ve cajoled into reading it. That’s fine by me: I don’t think I’m an internet megastar read by millions every day. And that’s fine by me.
Yesterday, though, I got into quite a heated online debate about a guy who intended to charge people for reading his site. It is a disability-based ‘news service’ focussed on people on benefits. It has a lot of articles about the cuts. The guy was talking about asking people to donate money to him to help him keep it up. While I know that, these days, we’re all struggling for cash, that really got my goat. It seemed to imply that he thought he was some kind of big shot, the main or only news source in the disability community, and we should all be paying him to keep his site up. Of course, I know the guy could be really struggling to make ends meet, yet he seems to appointed himself ‘our’ news service and, in a way, spokesperson. He seems to have the same access to the primary news sources as anyone else.
I keep this blog for fun; to let the world know what I think about things. It is free to read. Yet if I started trying to charge people to read it, the dynamic would change. It would imply that I thought I was writing things worth paying for, and that I had access to special information nobody else has access to. I don’t, and neither does this guy. It just gets my goat how some bloggers seem to think they outrank the rest of us, when the web should be about plurality, equality and the free exchange of information.
I’m not sure whether to feel excited or skeptical about this. ‘Comedy god’ and one of my all time favourite actors John Cleese is reportedly in talks with the bbc about a return to small screen comedy. If it works, that could be great; just remember how awesome Monty Python Live was. But this is another kettle of fish: a sitcom has an entirely different dynamic to a stage show or film, and the question is, does Cleese still have it in him to hold up something like that? Does he still have the old magic in him which made characters like Basil Fawlty so timeless? Or might this just end up falling flat, and looking like a retired master trying to rekindle past glories, or, worse still, some studio exec’s attempt to use a well-loved name to get attention for his pet project? Either way, this is one to keep an eye on.
I think I ought to clear something up today: It was wrong of me to brand every outist a xenophobe, and to get so furious at everyone who voted to leave the EU. Fiftytwo percent of the country – or at least those who voted – cannot be racist; I know that. They had other reasons for voting as they did – legitimate, left-wing reasons, such as trying to avoid TTIP. I did a bit of research about that yesterday, and now understand why so many people found the EU so repugnant: it was hurtling towards a trade deal which would have foisted the most sickening form of capitalism upon us. Under those terms, of course we had to leave.
Yet the thing is, there are one or two niggles I have with that. I had previously thought that the reason business people were so keen to leave the EU was that it’s rules and regulations were getting in their way. Yet under TTIP, the free market would reign; why weren’t the tories embracing it then? If the EU was heading in tht direction, surely people who are so keen on neoliberalism and business outranking the state would welcome it with open arms. Another issue I have is, while we may have evaded it for now, there is still a possibility TTIP could be foisted upon us. Left-leaning outits might say that it is much harder now, but, as pointed out here, conversely, outside of the unified block of the EU, we might not now have the power to prevent it. The paradox is, we needed to stay part of the EU in order to block the trade deal it was forcing upon us.
That remains to be seen, though. My point is, I understand a little better now why so many well meaning people voted to leave the EU. I hadn’t realised it was so bent on such a sick form of capitalism. Yet I still feel that, these days, humanity should be uniting, not cutting ourselves off inside our nation-states, and pulling up drawbridges to international organisations. The EU had huge faults, but I fear that, in withdrawing from it, we might have played straight into the hands of the type of people eager to see TTIP instated.
I have now been completely off the booze for about two months, and I feel a hell of a lot better for it. I feel fitter and more alert. I’m (slightly) less argumentative too. Yesterday I made quite an interesting realisation about what attracted me to pubs and drinking: sat outside a cafe in charlton park, I found myself staring at my cappuccino as I once stared at pints of beer. I felt the same reflexive, relaxed daze which made pubs so attractive. Part of the reason I went to pubs was that they gave me time to think – some quiet, me time when I could just chill out over a drink. I also loved to observe people. Yet, yesterday, there I was doing exactly the same thing, but instead of beer, in front of me was nothing as innocuous as a cup of coffee. That was why I had been going there for the last few days – the cafe was filling the same niche as the pub did. It’s a nice little place, with books you can read and friendly staff, overlooking the cricket pitch. But instead of going home too drunk to do anything for the rest of the day, I would go home alert and invigorated, the rest of the day still usable, with no possibility of falling, damaging stuff, or having a hangover in the morning. Thus, I resolved yesterday, cafes are definitely cooler than pubs.
I have to ask any french people who might be reading this, what’s so wrong about burkinis? Secularist though I am, I think people have a right to wear what they chose. The moment a government starts dictating how people dress, for whatever reason, a line is crossed; you have taken a step towards fascism. One may not like religion and the problems it causes – I certainly don’t – but to dictate something like this, to ban an item of clothing on religious grounds and then to fine anyone for wearing it, surely exacerbates the problem. It will just make these islamist nut-jobs feel even more persecuted. People have a right to wear what they choose: I mean, what if I suddenly took a shining to burkinis and decided to get one? It would have nothing to do with religion, if we had were the same ban here as they do in france, I could presumably be fined. While I know those who made this ban would argue that they are standing up for women’s rights in the face of oppressive religious doctrine, women should still have the option to wear burkinis; the choice should be theirs. Making rules about what people can and cannot wear is surely no way to solve our current problems.
Very, very scary though it is, I think I need to flag this Guardian article dealing with the rise of the so-called ‘alt-right’ in america up. In this day and age, I had thought racism and the whole concept of racial difference had died out, utterly discredited, but these people are trying to revive it. They claim not only does race exist, but there is a correlation between race and intelligence. Anyone who has even glanced at the data, as I did back in A-Level psychology, knows that such a position is absurd, yet not only does this group claim such a link exists, but it has been repressed by mainstream science.
I don’t think we can ignore such people. Their rise is symptomatic of a growing deep distrust of mainstream politics, both here and in america. White working class people are starting to resent the privileges they perceive minorities getting.”The founding myth of the alt-right is that the disadvantaged groups in American politics are actually running things through a combination of fraud and intimidation. By doing this, they’re actually oppressing white men.” We have seen that here in the growing popularity of people like farage. I worry that such people seek to turn back time to a point when society was less equal and discrimination was the norm; they seem to resent the progress made to equality and pluralism. As this group gets more and more traction, with fools like Trump validating their insane views, I think that is surely something we should all be very, very concerned about.
I can’t believe that some of the tory morons currently ruling over us still cling to romanticised visions of empire, but it seems that they do. According to this Guardian piece, congratulated the british empire on twitter, using a map and the words ”empire goes for gold.” The article explains: ” The map, which appears to be the same as one used to illustrate the Wikipedia entry for the British empire and highlights not just the American colonies but also Ireland, Iraq and India, was graphically superimposed with Olympic medal tallies showing how the ’empire’ had thrashed not just the ”rest of the world” but also the post-Brexit European Union.” She was obviously trying to tether the positive feelings for our success in Rio to her quazi-xenophobic anti-eu agenda, as if the empire was some sort of friendly, compassionate society and not an oppressive imperial power which subjugated a quarter of the world. Surely we should have better people than this anachronism running the country.