Saturday, 19 April 2014

Someone Else Takes Exception To The Misuse Of 'Vulnerable'...

Helen Pidd on the rise of 'poverty porn' tv:
…local MP Austin Mitchell had written to the station boss demanding he cancel Skint's commission and "consider the ethics of the trend Channel 4 has embarked on of demonising the poor and making poverty entertainment".
Not everyone agrees.
The vicar says he wanted to showcase Shalom's "vital" youth work, which like all universal youth services, is under increasing pressure. It currently survives from a Comic Relief grant, topped up with council funding that was recently cut by two-thirds.
He has little time for some of the anti-Skint campaigners, who assume participants are too weak or ill-educated to understand the consequences of letting cameras into their living rooms.
"You keep hearing them being called 'vulnerable', but believe me, many are as vulnerable as a Sherman tank. They're no shrinking violets by any means. They want their stories told."
Heh! Quite. Often, these people know exactly what they are doing. Who, one wonders, is doing the manipulating?
At the public meeting, much talk was of the damage Skint could wreak. One teacher was in tears as she predicted the confidence-zapping effect such a programme could have on her pupils.
Most of the kids from these areas exhibit a worrying overconfidence, actually...
Steve Maxon, former deputy head of a Scunthorpe school near where the first series of Skint was filmed, said the programme, broadcast last May, may have caused irreparable damage.
'May have'..? Put up, or shut up!
"There are families there not speaking to each other any more as a result," he said, complaining that she show was "hugely demoralising" for an a town already lacking in self confidence.
Can a town actually 'lack confidence'..?
The meeting ended with the authoring of a letter to send to Channel 4, Keo, Ofcom and beyond, saying: "Our town is a wonderful place to live, and however desperate a Skint TV channel is to increase its ratings and advertising revenue, they have no right to portray it otherwise."
They have every right to do so. What right do you have to demand they stop?
Katie Buchanan, head of documentaries at Keo, believes her firm has been a victim of the fall-out from Benefits Street. She points out that the Nunsthorpe public meeting had been convened by Steve Chalke, a charismatic Anglican pastor who runs over 40 schools under the Oasis banner, including one on James Turner Street. Chalke has led the charge against Benefits Street – among his claims are that there are children at that school who haven't attended since the programme aired.
Which is a matter for the truant officer, of such a thing exists.
But Skint, says Buchanan, would "celebrate the resilience and ingenuity of these deindustrialised communities". They are listening to the objectors, she insists, but to pull out of the project would be a "dereliction of duty".
Well, really, it's down to the chosen interviewees. If they don't want to take part then it...

None of the participants from Scunthorpe had raised objections, she says, and series two would be broadcast later this year or early next.
Game over, objectors!

Been On Holiday, You White Socially Powerful Person, You..?

Gosh, it seems ages since we heard from SE Smith, doesn’t it?
Socialising as I do with many people who have had opportunities to travel, conversations about different corners of the world come up frequently, and those conversations often make me deeply uncomfortable.
I suspect there’s a long, long list of things that make this woman ‘uncomfortable’. Not, however, doughnuts, judging from her photo.

She’s usually carrying on about disability issues, but she’s clearly branching out this time:
One such example is the "the people are so beautiful!" conversation, in which the residents of a given nation are described as gentle and kind and loving, so warm and welcoming. This creates a mental image for me of noble savages, of a simple, "pure" society that isn't, you know, troubled by the realities of the world for the rest of us; the old "first world problems" slang term strikes again.
Right. Of course.
Here's the problem with this conversation: it's a reminder that the traveller is an observer, and most of the people I know who travel are from colonial nations, with positions of power and privilege in their home societies (otherwise travelling would be likely to be difficult).
So, an Easyjet full of Essex lads and perma-tanned ladettes jetting off to Majorca is really a display of colonial power? Fancy…
When you are a white, socially powerful person travelling overseas and you're describing the people you meet in simplistic terms, you elide the reality of their lives and turn them into Disney sideshow attractions there for your entertainment, rather than human beings going about their daily lives.
Oh, good heavens!
The people who describe human beings in this way often have scores of pictures, including images obviously taken without consent that discomfited the subject. There seems to be a general idea that invasive photography as a tourist is not only permitted but encouraged, to document these "beautiful people" in their "natural habitat" – their saris and salwar kameez, their yukata and other traditional dress, their strange and funny ways of cooking and farming and living! When people object to being photographed, tourists are offended, and they're even angrier when people ask for compensation in exchange for a photograph, as though photographing someone is a right that should just be naturally extended.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we? There’s no ‘right’ not to be photographed unless you decide to live in Hungary.
When I hear people described as "beautiful" en masse like that, it gives me a little shiver. I know that the speaker isn't talking about the individual beauty of a specific person ("I met a beautiful girl in the supermarket today"), but an agglomerated mass of apparently indistinguishable blobs. It carries extra gross weight when people go on to add that they actually are referring to physical beauty, something I commonly hear from white men travelling in Asia who apparently don't think there's anything wrong with saying "Asian women are just so beautiful".
Don’t worry, SE. No-one will ever trouble you by saying that about you

”I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.”

Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki become the latest Greeks to demand to watch the world burn:
In December 2008, in Athens, a "special security officer" shot dead a young student, igniting demonstrations, strikes and riots. Young people were at the forefront of the protests, in a country with a long tradition of youth participation in social and political movements. Several commentators at the time spoke of a "youth rebellion".
Following severe austerity measures in 2010-11, there were again mass demonstrations and strikes, culminating in the "movement of the squares" – protests against the destruction of private and social life. Young people were again prominent, lending enthusiasm and spirit to the movement.
Hurrah! Hurrah for 'young people'! They'll leas us into world socialism before the...


Then there was nothing. As economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013, the youth of Greece became invisible in social and economic life. The young have been largely absent from politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe. On the fifth anniversary of the events of 2008, barely a few hundred young people demonstrated in Greek urban centres. There was no tension, no passion, no spirit, just tired processions repeating well-known slogans. Where were the 17-year-olds from five years ago?
They grew up..?
The answer seems to be that the European youth has been battered by a "double whammy" of problematic access to education and rising unemployment, forcing young people to rely on family support and curtailing their independence.
Translation: they realised they couldn't live forever on political fervour. Unlike Laurie Penny.
Matters cannot continue indefinitely along these lines. Frustration is mounting among both young people and their parents. But if those who make policy refuse to acknowledge the problem, major change could be delayed for a long time. The result would be a massive accumulation of sullen anger across Europe, with unpredictable outcomes. Those who care for social development had better take notice.
"Yeah, you just watch out, world! You wouldn't like us when we're angr - ooohh! Squirrel!"

Friday, 18 April 2014

"She loves to laugh, she loves to sing, she loves everything..."

OK. Maybe not everything:
A partygoer bit a stranger on the face as she danced in a cage in a night club after drinking to celebrate her birthday, a court has heard.
Katie Bateman turned on the man in the club because she is suffering from a stress disorder as a result of traumatic events in her childhood, it was said.
One which clearly doesn't stop you going to nightclubs and starting fights. That's handy.
A psychologist's report showed she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder which makes her prone to panic attacks and depression. She was forced to leave a hearing at Exeter Crown Court when she became distressed as the Judge was told of the evidence against her.
I think we have an Oscar contender!
Her sentence was adjourned for reports by Judge Erik Salomonsen.
The Judge told her she would not face an immediate jail sentence.
And why not..?

Emmanuel Kalejaiye Had The Most Imaginative Defence Ever!

“I intended to protect my mum and there were two men wearing masks, they looked like balaclavas.
“They disarmed me and put me down on the floor and tied my arms behind my back. They sealed my mouth and put a black bag over my head and took me downstairs.
“They untied me and put something in my hand and got me down on my knees and said ‘stab your mother’.”
Kalejaiye said he had assumed the item in his hand was a knife.
He added: “I tried to resist but they pulled up my arm and pushed it forwards into something. At the time I could not work out what this was.”
Gosh, it’s a puzzle.
He also claims he was made to write down a “murder plan” by the gang of five masked men.
As you do.
Kalejaiye also said the gang found a bag containing a pair of pink jogging bottoms and a pink hooded top he had bought from Primark.
Earlier, the jury heard how the items were bought as a “joke” as his mum had told him his appearance would improve if he wore bright clothing.
He said: “They ordered me to put them on.”
Kalejaiye said he was later ordered to move his mother's car to make it look as if she had gone to work. At the time, he was still wearing the pink clothing and his mother’s pink flip-flops.
The trial continues. I can only hope to get such an interesting one when I go for jury service next month.

I wonder if the court canteen serves popcorn?

Update: Oh, seems the jury didn't believe him. Well, I never...

I'm Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That The MSM Is Faking It...

The front page of today's Daily Mirror is a horribly poignant picture of a child weeping from hunger to illustrate its story on food banks in Britain. It's a real picture of a real child, but it was taken in San Francisco in 2009. It's not a fake, then. But is it a lie?
Well, your first clue is that it’s in the ‘Mirror’, Andrew…
For most people this isn't a question worth asking. They'll answer it, of course, but their answers will actually be to a rather different question: do they feel morally outraged by the benefit reforms? If yes, then obviously the picture is true in every sense that matters.
Ah. ‘Fake, but accurate’, then? Tell me, how'd that work out for Dan Rather?
There is one final twist. If you go to the Flickr page from which the picture was lifted, it turns out that the little girl, the photographer's daughter, is not crying because she is hungry at all. She is crying because an earthworm she had befriended spurned her advances and wriggled away. And the really awful lesson of the Mirror's front page is that we belong to a species more easily moved to tears by the escape of a pet earthworm than by children we don't know going hungry in places we take care not to see.
It would have been far more poignant if she'd been weeping for the debasement of modern journalism, wouldn't it?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Gosh, Yes, It's A Hard Life On Benefits...

Defending, Cassandra Blige, said he was a recovering alcoholic and was attending treatment programme in Trinity Road, Tooting.
The couple, who have seven children aged one to 19-years-old, were also struggling to cope with recent bereavements.
Miss Blige said: "Mr Hardiman is a recovering alcoholic it's fair to say he was a chronic alcoholic. But he accepts full responsibility that these animals were neglected.
"It was a chaotic household and the parents weren't taking full responsibility of their household. They couldn't cope having animals as well as seven children."
Hmmm, couldn't cope, yet could somehow afford...

Makes you think, eh?

Well, I Dunno, Can’t Be Too Careful, Chris…

The head of West Midlands police has criticised the “desperately unfortunate” decision by Education Secretary Michael Gove to appoint a former head of anti-terrorism to investigate an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to take over schools in Birmingham.
Well, who did he think would be best placed to investigate it? Certainly not anyone in his own organisation!
Chief Constable Chris Sims warned that the appointment of Peter Clarke, the former head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, sent the wrong message about an investigation that followed claims religious hardliners had threatened to overthrow secular heads.
“This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as national coordinator for counter terrorism,” he said.
“This is about governance of schools, it’s about social cohesion and the implications for schools operating in an area that’s predominantly from one ethnicity,” the chief constable told The Independent.
“I want to be absolutely clear… that this scrutiny hasn’t become a counter-terrorism investigation.”

Keep On Runnin’ Part II

With its reputed ability to disembowel a human with a single blow, it is not the kind of creature one normally expects to encounter in the gentle countryside of the Home Counties.
But a swathe of Hertfordshire is on high alert for a 6ft tall bird which has escaped from its enclosure where it was kept as a pet.
The media are whipping up quite a bit of hysteria over this – you’d think it was dangerous.
The creatures are omnivorous, often eating insects and small vertebrates, as well as their preferred large-leafed plants, and they are said to be – usually – of a timid nature. However, the RSPCA have warned locals not to approach the runaway rhea if they spot it. Instead, they should report sightings to the organisation.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “They look nice but they are so strong it’s unbelievable. They aren’t listed as a dangerous animal but can kill you with one strike of their feet because their claws are six inches long. They will also go for your eyes with their beak.”
Well, yes, that’s just a natural defence mechanism against predators and other threats.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

No Longer Chasing Ambulances, Because Buses Are More Lucrative!

Kelly Watts and her son Dylan caught the 1C Yellow Bus servicefrom Tuckton Bridge after the youngster had finished nursery.
But as the toddler made his way to his favourite seat at the back of the bus, the driver pulled out and the tot was flung onto the floor.
*gasp* Not that would be a problem if mum was holding his hand, or paying attention…
“The bus driver didn’t wait for him to sit down and pulled out straight away,” she explained. “My son went flying.”
The mother of one is now calling upon bus drivers to ensure children are sat down before pulling out.
She said: “They wait for elderly people to sit down. It should be the same for kids.”
Clearly, Kerry, you’ve never been on a bus in my neck of the woods – they certainly don’t wait for pensioners to sit down (although they should do..)!
Jenni Wilkinson, head of marketing at Yellow Buses, said: “This matter is now the subject of a claim from Kelly Watts and is, therefore, with our insurers. In view of this we're unable to comment further.”
I really hope they don’t offer her cash to go away, but I suspect they will. And then we’ll have even more claims like this one.