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Simon Neil on ‘Opposites’

Simon Neil on ‘Opposites’

This is a really interesting listen for massive fans of Biffy Clyro (such as myself) or newcomers to their music. Lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the band Simon Neil takes you through each track of their recently released double album ‘Opposites’. Well worth a listen.

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Reflections on Black Mirror

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The second series of Charlie Brooker’s critically acclaimed series ‘Black Mirror’ came to a conclusion last night. This series has been a different experience in comparison to the last, in which a more visceral imagining of what modern technology and media could lead to was portrayed. For those of you who have not watched it, I thoroughly recommend you do. Episode one, ‘The National Anthem’ is particularly harrowing. This series has been more thought provoking. As often is the case with Charlie Brooker’s writing, behind the exasperated, gloomy, often downright miserable tone, he wants us to take a step back from what we are reading or watching and ponder on it, something which I frequently did over the past three weeks. He has the ability to satirise the mindset of a particular group within society, however outlandish or repugnant it would usually seem, and somehow convince you that this way of thinking isn’t half bad. The best example would be when I was watching the second episode “White Bear’. I’m a dyed in the wool, descended from miners, Northern, Guardianista liberal. However, after watching ‘White Bear’, I found myself contemplating the pros of the reactionary, populist, rather Orwellian version of the criminal justice system that was being ventured.

Last night’s episode ‘The Waldo Moment’ I feel was the best of the series. It managed to highlight the key issues and problems the British political system faces. Increasing frustration towards the government (completely justified, but that’s another story) and wide scale voter apathy and disinterest. The power of this episode comes from the fact that the portrayal of the politicians strikes very close to home in the real-world. How many MPs could the Conservative Liam Monroe represent, a man lambasted by the blue cartoon bear Waldo for carrying an undeserved sense of entitlement just because they went to private school. Gwendolyn Harris, the beleaguered Labour MP, who saw her ultimately doomed campaign as merely a stepping stone to higher political office. The episode’s core storyline hinges on a by-election caused by an MPs sexual indiscretion; an indiscretion which nobody seemed to know about. Sound familiar Messrs Clegg and Rennard? It seems spooky how well timed both the broadcast and content of this episode was.
The episode ends posing us the question – would our lives be better if policy came down a simple like or dislike. It would appear to be democracy in its purest form, a simple referendum at the touch of a button. It would remove the middle men so to speak, would there be any need for MPs? However as I did with previous episodes, I snapped out of this way of thinking as what I was imagining somewhat scary. This is especially true when you look at how many likes ‘Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister’ groups get.
Charlie, you have bloody terrified me.

If I was a dictator..

My mind has a tendency to wander. Maybe it’s a symptom of something un-diagnosed, or maybe I just have too much time with too little to fill it. As I walked through town today so many little things catch my attention/make me think/fill me with rage, I got I thinking if I was a dictator what rules would I impose?
I recently read that former Libyan Dictator Muammar Gadaffi banned rugby due to its violent nature. I really hope this irony isn’t lost on you all. Torture? Oh sure go ahead. Rugby? ARE YOU MAD?!
Here’s what I’d like to see in my Utopian society.

Designated fast lanes on all pavements and streets. I’m a fast walker, and nothing galls me more than being stuck behind someone. LET ME PAST.

No more Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express. The world will be better without these papers and their views. Any dissenters will be sent to re-education camps where they will be subjected to endless repeats of Jeremy Paxman shows, and force-readings from The Guardian and Private Eye.

No more Piers Morgan.

The acronyms: LOL, ROFL and LMAO are banned. Use of these will be punishable by force listening to Justin Beiber/Norwegian death metal, depending on taste of the victim.

Replica shirts of sporting teams shall only be worn if that team is playing that day, that team is in a major sporting competition, or if you’re going to the gym.

This is just for starters. If you like my ideas, get in touch with your local MP. Maybe they can convince Dave and his chums to cede power to me.
If you don’t like my ideas that’s ok, I’m not actually a dictator. Yet…

Once a Tory, always a Tory.

Some of you may have seen in the papers, on the news or even on Twitter this morning, Camden council has announced plans that it may have to relocate over 700 families due to changes in the benefits system. This means that 2,816 people face eviction from their homes because of the Coalition’s (read: Tory’s) bulldozer approach to welfare reform. The £500 cap that is being placed on the amount families can claim is just another example of how this government (read: Tories) is either too stupid to realise what it is doing, or is merely continuing what it does best, assaulting the most vulnerable in society. I’m inclined to agree with the latter.

It is deeply unfair that families should be forced to uproot themselves for the sake of this government proving a point. In an economy that is already struggling, how short sighted are these proposals? There is no guarantee that if relocated, parents will find new jobs. This will increase demand on the existing benefits system, and only serve to trap families within benefits. It is outrageous for this government to exercise power over areas of a person’s life in which it has no right to.

The recent language used by the Tories, ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’ is symbolic of their attitude towards the poor, and those hardest hit by these benefit reforms. It harks back to eighteenth nineteenth century ideas of poverty, where the blame firmly rested on the poor, who were too lazy, feckless and unwilling to lift themselves up by their boot straps. This attitude is unlikely to change, as until the next general election we are being led by a group of people who never have, and never will understand the people they govern. It is worth noting that upon the election of this government, the cabinet of 29 ministers, 23 of them were millionaires. I wonder how many of them will be affected by benefit cuts. Not many I’d think.

Follow @OwenJones84 on twitter, he is a phenomenal journalist, and the sort of person we need writing on these issues.

The Camden story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/13/london-council-relocation-benefits-cap

http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/hugo-rifkind/8665361/how-nice-to-hear-tories-called-stupid-not-evil/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/04/why-i-hate-tories-david-cameron